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The word shaman comes from the name for traditional Russian - Siberian spiritual leaders. "Medicine man" is more often used to describe North American indigenous practices. However, they are essentially describing the same role, widespread in traditional cultures, referring to a spiritual leader (male or female) who heals the mind, body and spirit using plants, music, chanting, dancing, and other natural remedies and serves as a guide to the people. The shaman or medicine woman or man may heal sickness, foretell future events, give advice, conduct death rituals, etc.

"Shaman" is often used in modern western speech to describe people who can see "the invisible world" ie spirits, ancestors, etc. But these abilities could apply to a "medicine man" as well.

Neither role really existed in any English speaking cultures, so these are words used to describe practices generally not well known to the speaker.

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Q: What is the difference between a shaman and medicine man?
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