Theory as to why shamanism isn't mentioned in SL

I’ve seen a couple discussions critical of the lack of shamanism in the shadowlands and how it’s bad writing, etc. Having played a shaman from the beginning, this is my theory as to why shamanism isn’t referenced.

Bluntly put: souls of ancestor-worshipping cultures don’t go to the Shadowlands. They are “earthbound” spirits.

Orc souls go to Oshu’gun or burial grounds explaining why the orc population on Azeroth doesn’t have problems practicing their religion. The same applies to Draenei, whose souls either went to Auchindoon or family shrines.

Trolls practice mummification or keep cremation urns in vast necropoli, and as we’ve seen in every troll-themed dungeon/raid, that’s where their souls stay. Tauren souls are connected to totems and burial grounds.

Pandaren, I assume, are similar. Since their culture is heavily based on Chinese, and there are shrines everywhere in Pandaria, I’m guessing these are ancestral shrines.

Night Elf souls turn into wisps and live in sacred groves. It was only because Elune chose to send them to Ardenweald that they wound up in the Shadowlands.

I don’t know if religious beliefs of Blood Elves and Goblins have ever been detailed. I also don’t know how being a descendant of a titan-forged robot affects one’s soul.

During the recent save-uther’s-soul quest line, I saw a lot of souls trapped in Torghast from all races, I interpret this as the Jailer sending mawsworn to suck up as many souls as possible, stealing them from their ancestral shrines (further evidence being Bwomsandi hiding as many souls as he could find).

Anyway, if the afterlife were an onion, ancestors are on that layer that’s closest to the living world, so they’re not really in the shadowlands. Wisps are totally in the living world, troll mummies are one step beyond that, and ancestral spirits are the next step, but still not in the shadowlands because they’re still connected to life.

If I’m making sense. Summing up: the reason shamanism doesn’t play a role in the Shadowlands story line is because ancestral spirits don’t have any power there, not being on that side of death.


That’s probably more thought than the folks at Blizzard put into it, but I’ll adopt this as headcanon.


yet another instance of ‘players putting more thought into things than the writers’.

But we do see Huln Highmountain in Ardenweald and plenty of spirits of several races hanging around waiting in Bastion.

It’s still certainly possible that the spirits of people from cultures that practice ancestor worship are able to hang around in between the mortal plane and shadowlands, since, well, we SEE them do it. But I’d guess that even they eventually do move on to it, and maybe only those that personally receive said worship have the power to resist the draw to the Shadowlands longer, or are capable of maintaining a connection to the mortal plane and going back to it on their own?


I think it’s more likely that ancestor spirits are going to one of the infinite number of SL realms that we happen to not be visiting in this expansion.



  • In shadows Rising, the shamans are the ones who first bring up that something is wrong with the realm of death
  • In the Tauren heritage questline, the shamans are the ones who also inform something is wrong with the Shadowlands and Zovaal didn’t want Baine to survive
  • Bwonsamdi
  • In the Zandalari recruitment questline the ancestors also warn Talanji
  • Danuser said in an interview the ancestor spirits on reality are just echoes. Not their actual soul. Except Draenei who keep their dead in constructs.

The larger criticism is they chose not to make shamanistic religions part of the metaphysics of the cosmology.

On the one hand you have Druids who are tied to Elune of the Life Pantheon who seem to be almost necessary to the survival of a world.

Shamans however are not. They’re not tied to any member of the Death Pantheon. They use nature (small n, aka elements) via Spirit Magic (aka Life element) so they’re just weaker Druids tbh

They COULD HAVE tied Shamanistic religions as the Guardians of the Veil. And Muehzala being an eternal One who, like Elune does with Druids, spreads the Shamanistic faith among the cosmos.

But they chose not to.


Honestly, I’d rather shamans, my favorite class, wasn’t soiled by the shadowlands lore.

Maybe if we get some sort of elemental expansion. Also shamans destroy druids any day.


In-game this is categorically false which is the problem lol

Tying Shaman to “Life Element” same as Druids was a mistake.


To me, ancestors are like 20% tops of shamanism, 20% “rage”, 60% elements.

Yup, and Ancestors + Dark Emotions would’ve made more sense if Shamans access “nature” via “Decay”/Element of Death.

Whereas Druids, who are Wild Gods + Life + Nature access “nature” via “Spirit”/Element of Life.

Instead the Blizzard writers have presented Shamans as:

  • Not actually engaging with Ancestors because all go to the Shadowlands, just “Echoes” of their dead loved ones
  • Nature is manipulated via Life Element same as Druids
  • Must be in control of emotions (as per Cata-Thrall questline)

Orc souls were going to Oshu’gun because there was a Dark Naaru within drawing them in and consuming them.

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Druids have no ties to Elune. if they’re tied to anyone, it’s Malorne.

Cenarius taught Azeroth Druidry and is the son of Elune.

Qadarin/Thiernax self identified as Druids and were Elune worshippers.

Druids use Spirit (Life Element, Elune is Life Pantheon) and Wild God magic (Life affiliated beings).

Druids are tied to Life. Elune is tied to Life.

Shamans are currently also tied to Life, but play second fiddle in those themes to Druids.

This could’ve been avoided by tying Shamans to Death.


nailed it! the elune cinematic I feel like confirms this

Again this is par for the course. We don’t matter, we are Horde.


There are Druids who have absolutely nothing to do with Cenarius, the Drust and the Zandalari trolls are two examples.

Druids play practically no fiddles when it comes to the Elements themselves.

That’s a solution to something that not everyone sees as a problem.

The elements have their own plane (like the Twisting Nether), and it’s mentioned as being devoid of life/mortals, so it would make sense that the only place Shamans could go would be whichever realm their ancestors went to.

Keep in mind that Shamanistic spiritualism in WoW is of a general sort, it would fit in in most realms of the Shadowlands, the elements however, dwell in a separate plane both from the physical universe and the afterlife.

Not a cosmic force.

Devs clarified Malfurion was the first mortal druid. Tauren weren’t.

Non sequitur to anything I said.

There should’ve been an Ancestor Zone with one of the four main covenants using non-western myths primarily (but still inclusive to Alliance shamanistic races).

“Ancestors” as “guardians of the veil” would’ve mad perfect sense given pre-existing lore, especially in the wake of the Tauren heritage questline, the Zandalari recruitment questline, and the Shadows Rising shaman/shadowlands bits.


That was before they created the Zandalari race and clarified that they had both Druids and Paladins millennia before any of the Alliance races. Devs are not above retconning themselves as we’ve seen multiple times.


Sure but until they do so, we’re stuck with “everyone was fake druids, night elves are super special”


they never said this, they had paladins …and druids, but never it is anywhere confirmed that this are older as by the other races.

The oldest mortal druid, confirmed multiple times…is still malfurion. (even in legion, they confirmed it again)