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Shamans Through Time: 500 Years on the Path to Knowledge Hardcover – May 2003


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 321 pages
  • Publisher: Diane Pub Co (May 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0756757762
  • ISBN-13: 978-0756757762
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Review

'This first sweeping study of shamanism is sure to become a classic' - Publishers Weekly 'The most comprehensive survey on shamanism ever' - Mihaly Hoppal, Director, European Folklore Institute --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Jeremy Narby studied history at the University of Canterbury and received a doctorate in anthropology from Stanford University. He is the author of The Cosmic Serpent: DNA and the Origins of Knowledge. Francis Huxley took his degree in anthropology at the University of Oxford and has written widely on the subject. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 18 May 2001
Format: Hardcover
This is a must if you are interested in the work of shamans. It's also fascinating from the point of view of seeing how the West has changed its opinion of shamans through the ages. It is a well edited selection from ancient chronicles, explorers journals, anthropological texts and other works. I have been reading this subject with a degree of obsession for many years now - yet they have found pieces I had never even heard of. There are also some really exciting pointers for future research...
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 5 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Great Must-Have Anthology 26 Nov. 2001
By Stephen Miller - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This volume is a must-have collection of writings on indigenous shamanism since the conquest; Edited by
Jeremy Narby (The Cosmic Serpent) and Francis Huxley (The Way of the Sacred). Beyond the
superlative selection of dozens of first hand records over the centuries and up through modern times, we
also see the mirrored portrait of our own evolving delusions, as our framework for understanding
shamanism progresses from considering shamans worshippers, then imposters and lunatics, and on to the participatory anthropology in the post-Wasson era .
There are some really amazing stories in here... it's the real stuff.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
A marvellous book 17 April 2002
By "michaelberkeley" - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
`Shamans Through Time'
What is a shaman? How does he practice? Jeremy Narby and Francis Huxley, anthropologists of the mind and much else beside, deftly guide us through five hundred years of literature - from the 16th century Christian view (Ministers of the Devil), through the coming of anthropologists, to contemporary accounts by shamans themselves. The selected writings are richly varied, each reflecting its time and place; and they are short, which makes the reading easy. Here's Diderot in 1765, Franz Boas in 1887, Alfred Metraux and Levi Strauss in the 1940s, Carlos Castaneda in `68, Maria Sabena in 1977 -- sixty four in all, a significant number, you might think: Huxley is a conjurer of numbers no less than letters (see the Raven and the Writing Desk). His own contribution to the collection is a gem, `Smoking Huge Cigars', about an Urubu shamanic ceremony in which vast quantities of tobacco are smoked. Narby also tells a good story, `Shamans and Scientists'(2000), about an encounter between three molecular scientists and a Peruvian ayahuascero.
The entire collection is divided into seven chronological sections, each with a short, bright introduction by the editors. The result is a map by which to navigate this otherwise quite bewildering terrain. There's also a topical index, with surprising and helpful categories, like `Varieties of Shaman'' (diviners, healers, jugglers, tricksters and magicians...), `Creatures' (anaconda, ant, antelope, caterpiller...) and `Magic Substances' (arrows, cords, crystals, darts, ectoplasm, viruses and DNA!).
`Shamans Through Time' is not only skillfully put together and easy to read: it offers deep understanding. This is important, because shamanism is serious stuff. A shaman - `one who maintains by profession, and in the interest of the community, an intermittent commerce with spirits...' (using Metraux's definition) -- is gifted with access to major power, for healing and for harm. In an age when many profess to this calling, we need a deeply reliable voice on the matter. This is it.
Milhaly Hoppal, Director of the European Folklore Institute, says `Shamans Through Time' is "the most comprehensive survey on shamanism ever. It will be a classic in its field." I'm sure he's right. It's a marvellous book.
Michael Schwab, Doctor of Public Health
Berkeley, CA
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Interesting Idea 1 Jun. 2003
By Zekeriyah - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I really liked this book. Edited (in part) by the author of "The Cosmic Serpent", it gives a sweeping five-hundred year look at how outsiders have percieved Shamanism, from early missionaries and explorers who viewed it as the "work of the devil" to early anthropologists to modern seekers who want to experience Shamanism for themselves. The focus of this book is Siberia and the Americas (which is soemwhat disappointing, as they could have included Hokkaido, Micronesia, South Africa, Indonesia and elsewhere) and the whole purpose of the book is to tell about how outsiders have viewed (and expierenced) Shamanism. As such, its not always clear what the realities of the practice are or were. In addition, there were a few glaring omissions, such as Frazer. Nonetheless, the sheer scope of this overview (both in terms of times and geography) and the amount of information within make it an excellent source for study. If you are seriously interested in the historical practices of Shamanism, or perhaps the changing attitudes toward Shamanism in the west, then you really should seek this book out.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
A Wonderful Ontogenic Purview 14 Mar. 2006
By Gregory Lewis - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Shamans Through Time is not simply another long-winded dissertation, it is a collection of short anecdotes and ethnographic observations made between 1535 and 1995 by mostly western missionaries, anthropologists, and other observers with ulterior agenda, on what are these days commonly called shaman. As another reviewer pointed out, the writings are centered around the Americas, North and South, and Siberia, where the term shaman originated.

Although I picked up my copy from a used bookstore shelf labeled "New Age", there is really nothing new age about this book. It should more rightly have been shelved in the Anthropology section. Even where it discusses Castaneda, which may properly be categorized as New Age, the Castaneda phenomenon is so important as the impetus for further immersion and the defacto introduction to shamanism, that it would be remiss, even prejudiced to have not included an overview of Castaneda. And while there are many Native Americans who positively hate and slander Castaneda, as they feel he had no doubt lampooned NatAm culture, he served a very important purpose as the stepping stone to a more academic and mature understanding of what shamanism is about.

The subject is out of the bag, and western civilization will proceed to accrete shamanic practice into the traditional religious medical bag, perhaps even improving upon it, in the same way that Japan has taken the American automobile and improved upon it in most ways. Neither wishing it will just go away, nor vandalizing the reputation of those who wish to deepen their understanding will effectively irradicate the concept of shamanism from modern culture. Just as original Jewish Christians of antiquity may have been repulsed by the idea that a Roman pope would be so audacious as to presume an original and monolithic authority over an invention of Palestine, and that later European Christian movements would pervert the Old Testament to justify their own adaptation of an essentially Middle Eastern religion, all the while forgetting their own indigenous spiritual heritage, the time is now for amateur or lay students, such as myself, to remember where and how shamanism came to be incorporated into modern ecclectic spirituality. I recently watched a Tuvan throatsinging ("khoomei") group perform in front of an astounded audience. This is first hand ethnographic experience, as was the late Paul Peña's documentary foray "Ghengis Blues". The more dimensions of alien culture we explore, the less alien they become, and the more we find ourselves accepting of strange and foreign ways. A review written on Tuvan throatsinging in 2006 will appear naive and ethnocentric when reread 500 years from now. Antoine Biet's 1664 "Evoking The Devil: Fasting With Tobacco To Learn How To Cure" must be read, tonuge-in-cheek, with a certain forgiveness as a product of the culture in which he was immersed.

The editors are splendidly responsbile, and to avoid problems of being perceived as biased toward unfettered promotion of shamanism, they illuminate the movement as it currently exists in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where adherents and practitioners buy wholesale a sanitized version of the techniques, which are removed and isolated from their original social and cultural context, where shamanism is inherently dangerous, with grave implications for both the shaman, who may be killed for accusing sorcerers in another village, or for just plain being wrong in his predictions, and his patient, who may likewise die in the process of trying to be healed. The editors rightly confront the absurdity of popular shamanism-lite, while acknowledging that if modern civilization wants to keep it, we must redefine our relationship with the shaman of the past, and examine the progressive devlopment toward a wholesome western understanding. As drugs have become systematically outlawed (as tobacco is also at that intermediate evolutionary state, followed, no doubt, by coffee and tea), and the government has finally shackled our minds so that the only danger in our will to explore is the danger of incarceration and defamation, hedonistic expositions such as Woodstock can no longer be experienced in an authentic, unpasteurized, unhomogenized form, the legal and socially acceptable forms of shamanism will become necessarily more sedate, quiet, behind closed doors. Perhaps shamanic techniques will become so suppressed as to become unrecognizable, even when the neo-shaman is practicing the technique right before our very eyes.

This is the launch point for Shamans Through Time, and the unique purpose of this book--to read what Russians, Spaniards, French and Englishmen have observed over the last 500 years, allowing us to be the judge. We witnesses our own collective understanding as moving from infancy to maturity. Hopefullly, the shaman will not extinguish by the time we have arrived at cultural adulthood in our relationship with this primal religious form.

B.T.W., I find it very suspicious that there is one review out of the four prior reviews which is conspicuously negative, and has achieved an astonishing 10 votes (3 of which are "not helpful"), and while that one review is not the first review, all of the others have only three to four votes. You can't tell me there isn't something a little bit fishy about the 7 "helpful" votes for that one particular review...
Five Stars 6 Nov. 2014
By Corey - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Interesting.
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