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The Way of the Shaman (original 1980; edition 1990)
by Michael Harner (Author)
The Way of the Shaman by Michael Harner (1980)
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Garner could be called the Father of modern Shamanic Practices. This is the book I rely upon the most for clear, easy to follow descriptions of foundational Shamanic Practices. Well written and easily accessible to new students, I highly recommend it! ( )
This is an interesting introduction to shamanism. The book discusses shamanism as much as it gives instruction in certain practices. I doubt you actually could become a shaman from simply reading this book, maybe if you were extremely dedicated or had a special talent for it you could. This is more to find out what it is, and what it is not.
The formatting of my copy was not the best, and the writing style not one I found gripping, so it was not a quick or easy read for me. I would have liked for it to be more engaging, but this is a non-fiction book not a story for pure entertainment. This is something to read out of genuine interest of the subject matter, otherwise you will not enjoy it.
Excellent on technique, rather boring to read, another "go-to" manual for people practicing shamanic healing work.
I read this because it was on The Ultimate Reading List for "Inspirational Non-fiction." It was one of only a few on that list I thought might be of interest to me given Harner was a anthropologist that had studied shamanism in the field as well as practicing it--I thought he might have some insightful things to say about it. I found this instead to be a rather silly book I couldn't take seriously. I probably should have known better given where the book was located in the bookstore--under "New Age - Magical Practice." I'm a thoroughgoing rationalist, really not the target market for this book, so I considered neither rating nor reviewing. In the end I decided to do so to:
1) Remind me I read this already and not to ever bother again to read Harner.
2) Let those on my Goodreads friends list who actually believe in Wicca and the like know something about the book so they'll know if this is something they'd like.
3) Tell my writer friends, some of whom write speculative fiction, about this book in case they're looking for something upon which to model fictional magical practice.
Harner defines a shaman as a "man or woman who enters an altered state of consciousness--at will--to contact and utilize an ordinarily hidden reality to acquire knowledge, power, and to help other persons." In the first chapter, "Discovering the Way," Harner relates how after taking psychedelic drugs given to him by the Conibo tribe of the Amazon river, he experienced hallucinations he believed to be genuine visions. He then went back to an Andes tribe he'd studied, the Jivaro, and asked for mystical training--more psychedelic drugs, more "visions" and after that he became a practicing Shaman.
In his introduction he says of his book that the "main focus here is to provide an introductory handbook of shamanic methodology for health and healing." He proposes various exercises to alter consciousness without drugs, primarily through "drumming, rattling, singing, and dancing." His first exercise is designed to take you on a "Shamanic Journey...through the Tunnel into the Lower World." Also described are rituals such as a "spirit quest" to find your "power animal," and once found, how to keep this spiritual guide by regularly "exercising your animal." There is also mention of "power songs," "power intrusions" and "medicine bundles" filled with "power objects" that include the indispensable "quartz crystal."
In other words, the usual New Age stuff, but not anything that really discusses rigorously Shamanistic practices in indigenous and pre-Industrial cultures or useful to someone interested in ethnography or comparative religion.
This book a classic when it comes to neoshamanism and core shamanism
This book has some issues for me though. I think one of the biggest ones being that the author doesn’t really go into the dangers of journeying outside a few mentions and doesn’t really give any techniques for defenses. Another is that a few techniques and ideas for practice are not very practically to most people, such as the use of tobacco, the idea of a partner drumming for you while journeying, using games that involve more than two or more people to practice shamanic techniques, and so on.
However, as a basic read on core shamanism and for a read on a classic which helped begin it all, its not a bad book to add to a list to start off with though its certainly not the best stand alone book.
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Wikipedia in English (4)
This classic on shamanism pioneered the modern shamanic renaissance. It is the foremost resource and reference on shamanism. Now, with a new introduction and a guide to current resources, anthropologist Michael Harner provides the definitive handbook on practical shamanism - what it is, where it came from, how you can participate. "Wonderful, fascinating... Harner really knows what he's talking about." CARLOS CASTANEDA "An intimate and practical guide to the art of shamanic healing and the technology of the sacred. Michael Harner is not just an anthropologist who has studied shamanism; he is an authentic white shaman." STANILAV GROF, author of 'The Adventure Of Self Discovery' "Harner has impeccable credentials, both as an academic and as a practising shaman. Without doubt (since the recent death of Mircea Eliade) the world's leading authority on shamanism." NEVILL DRURY, author of 'The Elements of Shamanism' Michael Harner, Ph.D., has practised shamanism and shamanic healing for more than a quarter of a century. He is the founder and director of the Foundation for Shamanic Studies in Norwalk, Connecticut.
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Melvil Decimal System (DDC)615.852 — Technology and Application of Knowledge Medicine and health Pharmacology and therapeutics Specific therapies and kinds of therapies Miscellaneous therapies Faith cure; Christian science
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