01/06/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Taiwan's 21st Century Shamans: Private Practices, Text Messaging Clients

After 10 minutes of drum-beating and incense-burning by her assistants, Chang Yin donned a black, spotted robe and a pointed hat. She picked up a fan with her right hand and a silver flask of sorghum liquor with her left.

Chang Yin, a shaman in Taipei, Taiwan, giving advice as the spirit Ji Gong, a 12th-century monk.

Then, she sat in a chair before an altar piled with joss sticks, cans of beer, fruit, other snacks and images of deities. The session began. She appeared to slip into a trance.

Ms. Chang is a jitong, a shaman who dispenses advice while said to be possessed by a spirit. Here, inside a modern office building next to Taipei's bustling main train station, she is carrying on a folk tradition that goes back hundreds of years in Taiwan and the Chinese mainland.