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Based on my ethnographic study on ‘western’ forms of contemporary shamanism in North-East Scotland, the article discusses the significant role that eremitism plays in folk healing systems, and particularly in shamanism. The tendency to live an isolated life is actually not only a key feature in traditional shamanic healing ways but can also be found in its contemporary manifestations. Two such cases are discussed in this article. Terry Mace and Norman Duncan are two contemporary shamanic healers, living and offering their services in the wider region of North-East Scotland, who, for different individually reasons, decided to self-consciously isolate themselves geographically, live simply and self-abundantly, and lead an eremitic way of life away from materialism and socialising. The article will, therefore, focus on examining the role of eremitism in the life of the two healers in an attempt to showcase the significance of the phenomenon in contemporary shamanisms as well.


eremitism/ asceticism/ contemporary shamanism/ folk healers and healing practices/ North-East Scotland

Article Text


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Fieldwork Cited
Interview with Norman Duncan, 6 August 2016, Newmachar, Aberdeenshire, interview conducted by Athanasios Barmpalexis. EI2016.029, Elphinstone Institute Archives.

Guided Lists of Questions
Questions completed by Christine Dijoux, 22 July 2017, EI2017.027, Elphinstone Institute Archives.
Questions completed by Sheena Milton, 27 July 2017, EI2017.028, Elphinstone Institute Archives.
Questions completed by Valerie Wecker, 21 July 2017, EI2017.027, Elphinstone Institute Archives.

Personal Communications
Email from Eilidh MacLeod-Whiteford, 9 July 2018.
Email from Norman Duncan, 18 March 2019.