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Cave and Cosmos: Shamanic Encounters with Spirits and Heavens [Paperback]

Michael J. Harner
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Book Description

9 May 2013
In 1980, Michael Harner blazed the trail for the worldwide revival of shamanism with his seminal classic The Way of the Shaman. In this long-awaited sequel, he provides new evidence of the reality of heavens.

Drawing from a lifetime of personal shamanic experiences and more than 2,500 reports of Westerners’ experiences during shamanic ascension, Harner highlights the striking similarities between their discoveries, indicating that the heavens and spirits they’ve encountered do indeed exist. He also provides instructions on his innovative core-shamanism techniques, so that readers too can ascend to heavenly realms, seek spirit teachers, and return later at will for additional healing and advice.

Written by the leading authority on shamanism, Cave and Cosmos is a must-read not only for those interested in shamanism, but also for those interested in spirituality, comparative religion, near-death experiences, healing, consciousness, anthropology, and the nature of reality.

Praise for Michael Harner and The Way of the Shaman
“What Yogananda did for Hinduism and D. T. Suzuki did for Zen, Michael Harner has done for shamanism—namely, bring the tradition and its richness to Western awareness.”
—from Higher Wisdom, by Roger Walsh and Charles S. Grob
“Wonderful, fascinating.… Harner really knows what he’s talking about.”
—Carlos Castaneda, best-selling author of The Teachings of Don Juan and The Active Side of Infinity
“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.”
—Stanislav Grof, author of The Adventure of Self-Discovery
“Harner has impeccable credentials, both as an academic and as a practicing 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 is a great shaman. He also proves that a person can be both a scientist and a shaman.”
—Bo Bair Rinchinov, Siberian Buryat shaman

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Frequently Bought Together

Cave and Cosmos: Shamanic Encounters with Spirits and Heavens + The Way of the Shaman + Shamanic Journeying: A Beginner's Guide
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Product details

  • Paperback: 280 pages
  • Publisher: North Atlantic Books,U.S. (9 May 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1583945466
  • ISBN-13: 978-1583945469
  • Product Dimensions: 22.8 x 15.5 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 102,360 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Really helpful shamanic book 19 Mar 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A classic in shamanism as we would expect form Michael Harner. A delight and inspiration for anyone on this path
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars knowledge, experience, wisdom 20 May 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Thanks a lot master Harner
Dear Michael

The words you give us are meta-words
sources of wisdom
reading is listening, retrieving souls, opening all levels of being
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6 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amasing book 1 Jun 2013
By Yulia
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Amazing book!
And fast shipping!
I just start reading and like it very very much!
Very fascinating and interesting!
I would recomend it to all people who is interesting about shamanism and Spirit world.
Thank you M.Harner!
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tourist guide to the upper world 2 Dec 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Bought this book (kindle version) as it is the sequel to Way of the shaman, will be going on some upper world visits asap.Many personnel experiences from ordinary people. Buy it if you have any interest in shamanism.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.7 out of 5 stars  56 reviews
56 of 59 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Changed my Life 12 April 2013
By dreaming90 - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I devoured this entire book in a single sitting. Like Harner's previous masterpiece, The Way of the Shaman, Cave and Cosmos is an instant classic. Harner's writing is clear and easy to read, yet immensely intelligent. His knowledge of shamanism and how it is practiced in a variety of cultures around the world is immense.

But that's not the best part of the book.

The Way of the Shaman offers many accounts of journeys to the Lower World, yet Upper World experiences are nowhere to be found. Cave and Cosmos picks up where Way of the Shaman left off in this regard. And the accounts of Westerner's journeys to the Upper World are... extraordinary. Sure, there are heavenly realms complete with clouds, crystals, and deities, but there's more.

It has become fashionable to consider the formless and nondual experiences cultivated by disciplines in the East as more "evolved" or superior to shamanic experiences. Several accounts in Cave and Cosmos indicate that this is incorrect. I will let the accounts speak for themselves here:

"I travel away, fast, upwards I go. I am nothing but a speck of consciousness in a vast Universe. Like a particle of stellar dust, I travel through infinity... I sense that perhaps I can stay in the "nothingness" or return to near Earth and assist with the great white rings of light. But no, I must go through an opening in the vastness in which I encounter myself... I enter and, once again, I become Light. Incredible warmth and peacefulness fulfill my senses, my body, and my mind. Now I experience pure joy! I see a Buddha. Earth is the first chakra within Buddha. There are other Buddhas within the first Buddha, just like a babushka doll. The joy and laughter of the Buddha within a thousand Buddhas fills eternity..."

"I heard flutes, other music, and singing. Light was streaming past. I lost my sense of self-- was dispersed with what seemed to be the Life Force, heard hmmmm, thunder, and more hmmmm..."

"I began to feel like there was no more "me" in the sense I was accustomed to. How curious this was... I would hear babies crying, people talking, and I felt like I was part of everything. I felt like animals, plants, people, air, dirt, and God. I was everything. I was bubbling in and out of myself, bubbling from within myself out into myself. I felt like a huge ball on top of another ball. I said, "Where am I?" I heard in my mind, "The one mind, the one all..." Then I saw the Great One..."

These experiences hit my like a lightning bolt, and this is only a small sample of some of the most mind-blowing experience reports. People have been meditating for years to have experiences like this, and these people had them in half an hour. In fact, an entire chapter is devoted to cosmic union and dismemberment experiences (Buddhist no-self interpreted through shamanic paradigms??), which are considered lofty goals in many spiritual disciplines. Yet it is all in a day's work for a sky shaman.

Union with the Beloved (Christ), becoming one with the Universe, the Sufi dissolving in Allah, becoming nothing yet everything, having the entire universe contained in one's being, cosmic dismemberment, psychospiritual death and rebirth, and even meeting with deceased loved ones... it's all here. It's all been done for thousands of years.

Cave and Cosmos shows that shamanic practices are just as "sophisticated" as the disciplines of the East.

My only criticism of Harner's approach is that it seems to center around inducing light altered states through drumming. Why not cultivate more vivid visions through hypnagogia like Jung? Or induce out-of-body experiences like Robert Monroe? Maybe some lucid dreaming or Tibetan dream yoga would be a worthy addition to core shamanic practice. There's nothing wrong with daydream-like experiences, but I suspect stronger altered states may be more effective. And of course, you don't need psychedelics or weeks of fasting to have stronger experiences. Fred Aardema's Explorations in Consciousness is recommended for those interested in full-blown OBEs.

That said, this book has changed my spiritual practice. Up until yesterday I believed that I would have to meditate for years to experience cosmic union or no-self. It's not true! Consciousness isn't "evolving," shamans have been doing it for 50,000 years.

Thank you, Michael Harner.
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good for new students. 19 Sep 2013
By Dave Hanson - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Good book for beginning students of shamanism and a nice followup to Harner's "The Way of the Shaman," (1980) The two books together provide an easy beginning study and practice of what he terms "core" shamanism, a universal form of shamanism that floats free of culture. His books are essentially descriptions of techniques and reports of the visionary results..

As one who learned about shamanism from Harner 27 years ago, enjoyed his teaching immensely, completing all the courses from his FSS, became a certified shamanic counselor, taught in many small shamanic circles and worked as a shamanic healer, I, along with others have waited for this book for decades. Now I have read it with some pleasure, nostalgia and surprise that the author restricted himself to the same methods, student accounts of "journeys", a bit of personal experience and more stories of the upper world.

Harner is an important central figure in returning some popular attention to shamanism as a spiritual practice so it is surprising that "Cave and Cosmos" stays so narrow in its focus while there are so many questions to discuss if shamanism is to have any chance to gain more understanding, contemporary support, and any chance of making the world a better place. To be fair, Harner has no obligation to write more broadly about the nature and place of a shamanic spiritual path in contemporary society, or the possible ways in which such a practice could engage the practitioner in contemporary concerns, but one would hope that the ordinary middle world destruction would illicit something along those lines from him.

His repetitive accounts of his early experiences and the reports of "journeys" from students are interesting for those readers new to shamanism, but reports about what people do with their visionary experience are far more important and they are missing here. Do students go on to establish long term, disciplined practices? How does their introduction to shamanism change their engagement in the world? What are the obligations and responsibilities of students who successfully acquire shamanic abilities through relationships with the helping spirits? What percentage of workshop attendees get those skills and keep them? Is there an actual contemporary shamanic community beyond the next FSS workshop? Why is core shamanism so easily subsumed into the pop psych of the new age community?

So definitely read Harner's two popular books. Then if you find the methods successful and wish to continue, begin a more broad, serious study and practice, then engage; do something with it. Mother earth needs our attention.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of Micharl Harner's best 4 May 2013
By Rainbowmoon - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I debated about buying another Shamanic book, even though I have enjoyed some of Harner's other books. I've found lately that most books coming onto the market are all saying the same thing - old news.
This one is different - sort of.

It's a verification, in a way, for those of us who have been following the Shaman's path, on our own for the most part.

I would recommend this book to anyone who has quietly, but seriously, been searching for what exists beyond ordinary reality; and who has realized that for each what we find will be unique for us. This isn't a handbook to tell you what to do and what you will see. It says here's what others have found - embrace your own experiences.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An invaluable resource for the shamanic practitioner of "Core Shamanism" or the new and curious explorer. 6 May 2013
By Sarah Seidelmann - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is the book for you if you want to understand as much as possible about the shaman; who they are, how they do the work that they do and the worlds that they travel to. It is like Mircea Eliade's "Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy" in scope and depth but extremely user friendly as it is is written from the point of view of the practitioner AND scholar. I think of this book like a series of first hand reports from the first sailors who set off for the new worlds and reported that the world was not, in fact, flat. Harner wants to show you this new world/other reality- and to show you its maps. The many encounters noted reflect a universality of experience and give ample support for the existence of another reality. Of course, I needed no convincing of this as I am a practitioner myself. I am also a student of Harner's. The book contains a bit of memoir from Harner as well as hundreds of examples of shamanic experiences from his students. Do not read this book if you like to be surprised and you have not yet undertaken such journeys and plan to do so. As a person who has dedicated my life to this work, I read this book with great interest. Harner is a master story teller and this book may ignite your interest in exploring this other reality if you have not yet done so. Don't take Harner's word for it. In the appendix, instructions for making your own forays into this other reality are also there. I keep very few book and send most to the library or give to friends.. This is going in the permanent collection as this will be a resource I return to again and again.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Reality of Spirits 3 May 2013
By William S. Lyon - Published on
Having spent forty years studying American Indian shamanism, I whole heartedly congratulate fellow anthropologist Michael Harner for providing us with the first-ever, cross-cultural mapping of nonordinary reality--a three tiered realm of spirits. His ability to even produce such a map, called "cosmography," demands a paradigm shift in anthropology.

However, most importantly, this book provides for all of humanity a long-awaited proof of the reality of spirits. Harner's proof is based on data collected from thousands of Westerners who have experienced shamanic journeys. No other scientist has ever undertaken this approach to the study of spirits. His results call for a huge awakening in our attitude towards spirits and their powers.

If you prefer, no-matter-what, not to believe in spirits, then do not read this book. However, if you would like to know about the potential ability of your own consciousness to explore these spirit worlds, then you must read this book!
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