The earliest origins of modern psychotherapy known to history lie in archaic shamanism and in the practices of the medicine men of primitive peoples.
In civilized societies the priest is primarily the guardian of existing collective ritual and tradition; among primitive peoples, however, the figure of the shaman is characterized by individual experience of the world of spirits (which today we call the unconscious) and his main function is the healing of personal illnesses and disturbances in the life of the collective.
He heals the sufferer by means of his own trance, he leads the dead into the “realm of the shadows” and serves as mediator between them and their gods; in a way he watches over their “souls.”
“The shaman,” says Eliade, “is the great specialist in the human soul; he alone ‘sees’ it, for he knows its ‘form’ and its destiny.”
His gift of moving freely among the powers of the beyond is sometimes a family inheritance but is more often rooted in an individual experience of vocation.
This is generally heralded by a period of psychic disorientation.
When called, he sets himself apart, turns contemplative; often he receives his call through a dream experience.
Sometimes he falls ill, physically, and is not restored to health until he begins to shamanize.
The shaman is, however, psychically essentially normal, though usually more sensitive and more excitable than other people.
(The Romans speak of genus irritabile vatum, the excitable race of seers.)
~ Marie-Louise Von Franz, C.G. Jung His Myth in Our Time, p 99
[Art: The Egyptian Book of the Dead]