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What Role Would Shamans Take In A Medieval (European/Christian) Society Given the Following Conditions?

  • While my world is fictional, please use London, England in the years 1066-1067 as the real-world contextual reference for purposes of military, political, and religious conditions. In my world, this country will have greater stability and technology.

  • My shamans will be on a difficult-to-access chain of islands (even the islands are well separated). A contextual reference would be Zadya in The Dragon Prince, where one continent is split down the middle geographically and ideologically. Please consider an actual map unimportant (if you're sure you need a map, please explain why). The Shamans are technologically similar to the Aztec peoples (stone works and wood/obsidian weaponry).

  • The "role" I need help defining is the final role the Shamans will have after a religious conflict with an expanding militarized Christianity. Assume, as history with the Celts has suggested, that Christianity becomes the predominant philosophical influence in the society. But remember, unlike the Celts, my shamans have a very real and very practical magic.

Shaman Summary: Shamans can wield the power of the elements present in their home (like Fire, Air, and Earth and perhaps water for a desert) through their connection to the spirits of nature, even to the point of sensing what lies around them (as if the environment is an extension of their own body) and commanding elementals. This is bad for Christian Monks, because this means these ‘pagans’ have actual power to wield and won’t be so easy to civilize.

Best Answer Condition: The best answer will avoid the trivial "they're all wiped out" answer and will instead seek to identify a role based on the ancient Roman tradition of absorbing the religions of its conquered peoples. If this doesn't make sense, think about the adoption of December 25th, the Roman celebration of Saturnalia (the celebration of the undying sun) to celebrate Christmas (the birth of the Son).


Shamans: The Details In the Mystic category, there is a Class, Shaman. Classes are a reflection of one’s true self, where one’s talents lie. Shamans have a unique connection to the spirits of nature, specifically the Elements (Water, Earth, Air, Ice, Fire) present in their given environment. For example, a Desert Shaman may have a Bond to any combination of a certain four elements ( Fire, Air, Earth, and Water) and gain a Bonds to any of those four Elements (that they aren’t already Bonded to) by communing with and seeking to understand that Element.

A Shaman’s abilities allow them to manipulate the Elements they possess a Bond to, command Farungen (beings of living element), commune with the environment (gaining an awareness of it akin to their awareness of their own body), and forge spiritual connections between them and fellow Elementals (allowing spiritual communication-telepathy, basically-between, say, a Fire Shaman and a Fire Dragon).

While this is pretty different from what IRL shamans did, this means that these Shamans have actual powers, which is going to be more than a little problematic for the clergy. Holders of the Monk Class can become Sages and Paladins, and therefore gain powers of their own, but the fact of the matter is that shamanism and Christianity are different religions and will naturally conflict.

What Do They Believe?

Christianity Shamanism
Beliefs centered around God and Christ Centered around nature and the Elements (namely, living in harmony with nature)
Author of various philosophies and a distinct lifestyle based upon God’s word Has different philosophies and ways of life based upon the nature of each Element
Have latent magical powers(because they can become Sages and Paladins) Have active magical powers
Known for forcing itself upon followers of other religions Don’t force their beliefs upon other people, but will encourage people to do what they (they meaning the Shamans) feel is right
Powerful and well-organized Unlikely to be strong (or last long) in Europe, are powerful in their respective regions, but are separate and therefore relatively disorganized Ex: Volnoa, the Island of Fire, has one dominant religion/philosophy, the Order of Flame, which focuses on the nature of fire and how fire interacts with other Elements. Thus, Volnoans value passion, strength, and courage and advocate ‘jungle law,’ or the idea that might makes right.
Relies on faith (while Shamanism does the opposite) Is centered around what one can see and observe (opposite of faith)
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    $\begingroup$ Just a comment. In the real world, shamans were priests who intermediates between spirits and man. Often they used drugs to alter their state of consciousness. They had no elemental powers. The main examples were North America and Japan. Of course, in your game/fiction you can do whatever you want. $\endgroup$
    – NomadMaker
    Jan 15 at 2:32
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    $\begingroup$ @Alendyias Uh... 3x3 as radius ^^'? Circle radius is a single value compared to rectangles dimensions, so it's more 3 radius :p. More importantly, what's the unit, meter, feet? $\endgroup$
    – Tortliena
    Jan 15 at 22:33
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    $\begingroup$ Do people count as earth? Or water? Cause we made of that stuff $\endgroup$
    – user81643
    Jan 15 at 22:56
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    $\begingroup$ And what does a fire shaman do? Cause fire itself is really mostly hot carbon and oxygen, how hot does air need to be for it be considered fire? Does smoke count as fire? Lava? Charcoal? Or do you literally mean the light emmited by flames, just flames and nothing else? $\endgroup$
    – user81643
    Jan 15 at 23:01
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    $\begingroup$ @User24712, you are asking really insightful questions. I edited in an answer to your earlier question (elements in or on people, and therefore people) cannot be affected by Shamans, and by fire I meant flames (light, hot carbon & oxygen), but I'll count smoke and charcoal as well. $\endgroup$
    – Alendyias
    Jan 15 at 23:04

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