The term Shaman comes from the Manchu- Tungus word saman. The noun is formed from the verb as-“to know”; thus, a shaman is literally “one who knows”. As its etymology implies, the term applies in the strictest sense only to the religious systems and phenomena of the peoples of northern Asia and the Ural-Altaic. Other cultures around the world have had and still do use names appropriate to their belief systems. Today the term shaman is being used as a general term for nearly anyone using mind-altering medicines with or without training. This is not a standard as in the traditional use of the word Shaman.

One definition of Shamanism is a practice that involves a practitioner reaching altered states of consciousness in order to perceive and interact with what they believe to be a spirit world and channel these transcendental energies into this world. Also, it is believed to be a system of religious practice, as in the Santo Daime religion, referred to as a state of mediumship. Historically and now it is often associated with Indigenous and tribal societies, and involves the belief that shamans, with a connection to the otherworld, have the power to heal the sick, communicate with spirits, and escort souls of the dead to the afterlife and to retrieve souls lost or stolen.

It is believed that shamans work in voluntary, ecstatic trance states, which alter their consciousness to travel to the realms of the invisible worlds. In this sense, shamanism is a relationship-based practice of making changes in invisible realms to impact healing, of individuals or communities, in the realm of ordinary reality.

Within the context of the Santo Daime Religion it is the Sacrament of Daime that takes the role of the Shaman giving the direct experience to connect deeply into the realms of one's own consciousness. To potentially help open the doors to self-healing, receiving answers both from self and from other dimensions. Also to connect with the spiritual being within the tradition of the Santo Daime. Within this tradition are recognized astral beings from the various traditions of both African descent and Amazonian native descent. Caboclos, discarnate human spirits who work as Doctors and guides, angels and Arch Angels and the many other forms both from the underworld and astral world.