If you are interested in shamanism's potential role in the creation of the ancient megalithic sites and prehistoric rock art of the British Isles, you may find Gyrus's approach refreshing and exciting. And if you are interested in how to tap into the mystery of sacred sites with your own intuitive abilities, this book is a must-own.
Intimate: that is how I would sum up Gyrus's independent research on the topic of experiential prehistory. The essays are unabashedly personal, exposing Gyrus's biases and fascinations that he consciously projects onto the prehistoric monuments of England and Scotland that he has had personal contact with for decades. As he puts in it the Introduction, "Experiments with ritual, altered states, dreamwork and general larking about with consciousness have formed an integral part of my study of prehistory."
Through the essays in Archaeologies of Consciousness, Gyrus's goal is to help his readers recover their own intuitive knowledge. It's no secret that the default techno-rationalist worldview of Western culture has stripped us of our own senses, focused as it is on material production, visual stimulation as distraction, and a denial of the grief we feel from our separation from the natural world.
But by spending time with ancient sacred sites, and in nature in general, we have an opportunity to remember who we are. Gyrus writes "city walls are the rigidification of human ego barriers writ large." His ideas about prehistoric sites are therefore not just informed by the literature but also his extended personal experiences at these locations.
As such, Archaeologies of Consciousness succeed at cognitive archaeologist Paul Devereux's call to balance empirical observations with subjective experiences in order to achieve a more holistic view of the phenomenon in question.
Or as Gyrus himself puts it, "I am my experience."
In a sense, as Gyrus notes, this work is dangerous because it loosens the boundaries of archaeology, "boundaries that have been diligently erected in archaeology's long struggle to gain the status of being a "science." Indeed, there is a constant but unstated threat for archaeologists that they better behave, or the Academy is going to take their white coats away. They've only had those coats for some forty years, after all
A great and inspiring read! This more holistic perspective is long overdue for both anthropology and archaeology.