A shaman is a person regarded as having access to, and influence in, the world of
benevolent and malevolent spirits, who typically enters into a trance state during a ritual,
and practices divination and healing.
Cultist rites associated with worship of the Greek god of wine, Dionysus (or Bacchus in Roman
mythology), were allegedly characterized by maniacal dancing to the sound of loud music and
crashing cymbals, in which the revelers, called Bacchantes, whirled, screamed, became drunk and
incited one another to greater and greater ecstasy. The goal was to achieve a state of enthusiasm in
which the celebrants’ souls were temporarily freed from their earthly bodies and were able to
commune with Bacchus/Dionysus and gain a glimpse of and a preparation for what they would
someday experience in eternity. The rite climaxed in a performance of frenzied feats of strength and
madness, such as uprooting trees, tearing a bull (the symbol of Dionysus) apart with their bare
hands, an act called sparagmos, and eating its flesh raw, an act called omophagia. This latter rite
was a sacrament akin to communion in which the participants assumed the strength and character
of the god by symbolically eating the raw flesh and drinking the blood of his symbolic incarnation.
Having symbolically eaten his body and drunk his blood, the celebrants became possessed by