What is the difference between a witch, a witchdoctor, shaman, and a medicine man?

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what are the differences between these?
what are the differences between witchcraft and shamanism?
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I'll give you my definitions that I go by...

Witch: Anyone who practices witchcraft

Witchcraft: A system of magickal practice available to anyone of any religion that ranges from folk magick to ceremonial magick and anything in between. Generally, a ritualistic and personal effort to create change in the world.

Witchdoctor: Someone who works to heal others using folk methods which may include herbalism, witchcraft, divination and shamanic techniques

Shaman: One who walks between the worlds, has the ability to communicate with otherworldly spirits or ancestors, sometimes fighting with or persuading the spirits to cause change in the outside world. It is a title earned by someone who has been chosen and is bestowed by the spirits, generally after some great ordeal or test has been passed, often involuntarily.

Shamanism: The use of techniques practiced by shamans (a craft available to anyone of any religion and one need not be a shaman to use shamanic techniques or practice shamanism.) "Hedgewitchery" is one form of shamanism.

Medicine Man/Woman: A religious and spiritual leader, usually associated with Native American communities and religious practices.

There is a lot of relation and overlap, but that is how I differentiate them.


eclectic neo-pagan witch who practices some shamanic techniques
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  • ? answered 3 years ago
    There are similarities and there are differences. It depends which country you are in as to what you are called. A witch can be a man or a woman, so can a shaman. A witchdoctor is usually male so is a medicine man.
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  • ? answered 3 years ago
    Shamanism refers to a range of traditional beliefs and practices concerned with communication with the spirit world. There are many variations in shamanism throughout the world, though there are some beliefs that are shared by all forms of shamanism:

    The spirits can play important roles in human lives.
    The shaman can control and/or cooperate with the spirits for the community’s benefit.
    The spirits can be either good or bad.
    Shamans engage various processes and techniques to incite trance; such as: singing, dancing, taking entheogens, meditating and drumming.
    Animals play an important role, acting as omens and message-bearers, as well as representations of animal spirit guides.
    The shaman’s spirit leaves the body and enters into the supernatural world during certain tasks.
    The shamans can treat illnesses or sickness.
    Shamans are healers, gurus and magicians.
    Practices and beliefs that have been termed “witchcraft” do not constitute a single identifiable religion, since they are found in a wide variety of cultures, both present and historical; however these beliefs do generally involve religious elements dealing with spirits or deities, the afterlife, magic and ritual. Witchcraft is generally characterised by its use of magic.

    Sometimes witchcraft is used to refer, broadly, to the practice of indigenous magic, and has a connotation similar to shamanism. Depending on the values of the community, witchcraft in this sense may be regarded with varying degrees of respect or suspicion, or with ambivalence, being neither intrinsically good nor evil. Members of some religions have applied the term witchcraft in a pejorative sense to refer to all magical or ritual practices other than those sanctioned by their own doctrines – although this has become less common, at least in the Western world. According to some religious doctrines, all forms of magic are labelled witchcraft, and are either proscribed or treated as superstitious. Such religions consider their own ritual practices to be not at all magical, but rather simply variations of prayer.


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  • JOExHIGASHI answered 3 years ago
    Shaman is kinda a mix between all of those
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  • Roman answered 3 years ago
    virtually none. they are all spiritualist who help and guide people.
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  • Y'ha-nthlei - Space Catholic answered 3 years ago
    None of them work (your silly man-science "proves" it), and all of their souls leave a biter aftertaste.

    I mean, would we design our primary food source with an ability to fight against us? No! We're evil, not stupid.
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