Written by Dyami Millarson
Shamanism, when used in a Germanic religious context, must be defined in a way that fits Germanic religiosity. I define shamanic religion as a religion which to be seen from the perspective of an intermediary. A shaman is, in this definition, an intermediary. So when I say that Othin has a shamanic function, I am saying that He has an intermediary function, namely He travels between worlds to gain knowledge and He ultimately shares His wisdom with mankind.
The concept of shamanic religion is akin to the concept of priestly religion. A priest — not unlike a shaman — is an intermediary between the divine and human worlds. While the study of shamanic religion and priestly religion is basically the analysis of religion as seen through the eyes of the shaman and the priest, we can say that shamanism is equal to polytheism, anamism, fetishism, and totemism; what the Germanic priest/shaman sees is a polytheistic, animistic, fetishistic, totemistic world.
We can say that Germanic shamanism has, strictly speaking, to do with the shaman, but ultimately it is just Germanic religion, albeit seen from a particular angle. Since a shaman or priest operates within Germanic religion, what he sees is ultimately the same as any Germanic folk religionist; he is as much a polytheist, animist, fetishist, totemist as any other Germanic person; so, he cannot be seen in isolation.
There is, in the end, no distinction between Germanic shamanism, animism, polytheism, fetishism, totemism; they all belong to the same system, even though they are particular angles of looking at the same thing. It can therefore be safely concluded that in the Germanic context, shamanism is nothing but a synonym of Germanic religiosity.