Was Shamanism the oldest form of religion on earth?

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I am courious as to your opinion on this. I know Shamanism is worldwide, from Africa, Europe, Northern/Southern America and elsewhere. Do you think shamanism was probably the oldest form of religious expression? Why or why not?

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Faaip de Oiad

i don’t know if i would necessarily call it religion itself……..but it has been around longer than any religion….it has been around since humans have been around.


Probably one of the oldest.

The Man With Know Name

No, much evidence of similar ceremonial burials of neanderthals has been found, suggesting a possible belief in an afterlife. (They were made extinct 30,000 yrs ago)

4HIM- Christians love

When God created Judaism for the Israelites, there were many other religions in which people were worshiping idols. God told them to worship only Him.


I suspect that religion wasn’t even as organized as shamanism when it first developed. The first evidence of religion isn’t even in Homo sapiens, but in H. neanderthalis, our sister species. They had ritual burials roughly 300,000 years ago. Since shamanism isn’t a single organized religion, but rather a descriptor for many independent religious practices, I think you might be reading too much into it’s global distribution.

Eclectic Heretic

Not necessarily THE oldest, but definitely one of the oldest. As noted, the Neanderthals had burial rituals, implying some kind of belief in an after life. And the earliest religions seem to have been worship of the spirits of nature (wind, trees, the river, the animals), those forces people were dependent on for survival. And shamanism, in its many forms, is a logical outgrowth of that. It’s a very short step from worshiping the spirits to attempting to communicate with them and to ask their help in healing. Along the way, humans also learned a lot of herbal remedies and so forth that the shamans could use in their practices. A dose of mysticism does help the healing process, though. Even now, there are those that hold modern medicine in near-religious awe. If that helps them to heal, go for it!
Blessings on your Journey!


You have a very skewed definition of shaman-ism. According to anthropology shaman-ism is a level of religious development in a culture. Technically from an outsider’s viewpoint one could easily consider all priest/rabbi’s/etc. to be the shaman of their community, providing to the spiritual needs of the community. As far as the oldest…. we will never know. We know that many proto-human species that eventually became “us” buried their dead in a religious practice that involved the sun and moon, but other than that we know virtually nothing about their day-to-day beliefs.


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