The Dangers of being a Shaman (in the Amazons)

Shaman from an equatorial Amazonian forest, June 2006

Although being a shaman holds tremendous prestige in the Amazons, there are some very serious inherent risks, specifically main four reasons:

Danger no. 1 – Being accused of sorcery

As shamans are potential sorcerers with potential to kill anyone, they are often the number one suspect when there is deaths suggestive of sorcery, especially deaths of their own patients.

Danger no. 2 – Victim of Revenge

As a shaman is able to ‘identify’ a sorcerer, they are often subject of revenge by the ousted sorcerer or their family members if the sorcerer is killed after being ousted.

Danger no. 3 – Discarded by Spirit Ally

As a shaman is helped and empowered by spirit allies, the spirit allies may abandon them anytime for any reason.

Danger no. 4 – Becoming target of attack due to jealousy and resentment

Shamans, especially those who may be powerful may be under attack by sorcerers who may be jealous because of their success, clientele, their ability to heal more sickness, or because they may have thwarted the sorcerer’s attacks. The sorcerer may attempt to kill their competitor or vulnerable members of the shaman’s family for jealousy or resentment.



A shaman in the Amazons is seen as a powerful individual with potential of healing and killing. And since causes of illness in the Amazon are mostly credited to supernatural reasons, by revealing another person as the enemy, or even by failing to heal a patient, the shaman remains under scrutiny.

Often, a shaman in the amazon nowadays will carry a gun to defend themselves as they are unsure who may attack them. A life of a shaman in the Amazons is not easy at all.


  1. Beyer S. V., 2009, Singing to the Plants: A Guide to Mestizo Shamanism in the Upper Amazon, University of New Mexico Press, USA.