Shamanism

Overview

The shaman occupies a key role as a healer mediating between the world of the living and the world of spirits and is a potent figure in alternative medicine. Shamanism, a richly illustrated guide, looks at both historic and present-day manifestations, from the snowscaps of Siberia to the jungles of the Amazon.

The book discusses visions, initiation rites, shamanic chants, shamanism and mental health, the shamanic use of plants, and the political and social background to the ...

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Overview

The shaman occupies a key role as a healer mediating between the world of the living and the world of spirits and is a potent figure in alternative medicine. Shamanism, a richly illustrated guide, looks at both historic and present-day manifestations, from the snowscaps of Siberia to the jungles of the Amazon.

The book discusses visions, initiation rites, shamanic chants, shamanism and mental health, the shamanic use of plants, and the political and social background to the shaman’s work. Also covered are the links between the shaman’s sense of unity in nature and the recent growth of ecological consciousness in Western societies.

* Includes more than 250 color illustrations that present a unique pictorial record of shamanism in practice and as represented in art and artifacts

* Includes a detailed region-by-region survey of shamanism with full-color maps

* Explores both spiritual and psychological aspects of the subject, as well as the relevance of shamanism to contemporary Western culture

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Editorial Reviews

KLIATT
Vitebsky begins with a long definition of shamanism in which he explores its worldview and the nature of its powers. He goes on to tell how it has functioned in the cultures of Asia, the Americas, and in "the rest of the world." He moves to the actual functioning of the shaman and how he applies his powers through trances and ecstasies, music, dance, words, and the use of herbs (including hallucinogens), his role in community life, and how contemporary persons understand shamanism. While older cultures may have accepted shamanist practices as a given, modern ones have a tendency to want to apply the scientific method. This reviewer's eye was caught especially by an account of an actual shamanic procedure that may be used to ease the effects of a famine or incurable illness. Vitebsky concludes with a list of "New Shamanic Movements," along with addresses and phone numbers. This is a colorful, beautifully designed book, full of short essays and pictures from ancient and modern sources, printed on heavy paper. The bibliography includes titles that will be of interest to the book's readers. An excellent choice where patrons are interested not only shamanism specifically but in Native American and other tribal spirituality. For libraries seeking a single, basic title in this area, this book contains an abundance of detailed, appealingly presented information and will serve very well. KLIATT Codes: SA—Recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 1995, Univ. of Oklahoma, 184p. illus. bibliog. index. 21cm., $12.95. Ages 16 to adult. Reviewer: Edna M. Boardman; Minot, ND , July 2001 (Vol. 35, No. 4)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780806133287
  • Publisher: University of Oklahoma Press
  • Publication date: 3/28/2001
  • Pages: 128
  • Sales rank: 304,071
  • Product dimensions: 5.45 (w) x 8.23 (h) x 0.79 (d)

Meet the Author

Piers Vitebsky is an anthropologist and Head of social Science at the Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge, England. He is author of Dialogues with the Dead.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 6
The Shamanic Worldview 8
What is a shaman? 10
Spirits and souls 12
Layers of the cosmos 15
Levels of reality 18
Concepts of power 22
Regional Traditions 26
The religion of the stone age 28
Hunters, herders and farmers 30
Siberia and Mongolia 34
South and East Asia 38
North America 42
South and Central America 46
The rest of the world 50
Becoming a Shaman 52
Who becomes a shaman? 54
Initiation and instruction 59
Trance and ecstasy 64
Helpers and teachers 66
Voyages to other realms 70
Battles with hostile spirits 74
Music, dance and words 78
Costumes and equipment 82
Shamanic botany: hallucinogens 85
Tricks of the trade 88
The shaman's multiple nature 91
Death of the shaman 94
Shamans and Clients 96
Healing the sick, rescuing lost souls 98
Divining 104
Obtaining animals 106
Protecting the community 110
Shamans and the state 116
Dramas and roles 120
A summary of shamanic procedure 125
Understanding Shamans 128
Early impressions 130
Shamanism in the history of religion 132
Communist regimes 136
Are shamans mentally ill? 138
Do shamans really heal? 142
Kinds of consciousness 146
New shamanic movements 150
The cosmos within 154
Documentary Reference 160
Sources and references 161
Directory of Peoples 169
New Shamanic Movements 170
Bibliography 171
Index 176
Photo Credits 183
Author's Acknowledgments 184
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