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The Hidden World: Survival of Pagan Shamanic Themes in European Fairytales Paperback – 30 Apr 2007

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Product details

  • Paperback: 415 pages
  • Publisher: Carolina Academic Pr (30 April 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594601445
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594601446
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 15.2 x 22.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,237,219 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ronald Arthur Dewhirst on 10 Jun 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A learned and academic series of essays on the hidden symbolism in the myths, legends and fairytales that we may have grown up with. There's a lot of speculation and linking up of linguistic clues that the reader may just have to take on trust.

Whether the 'stone', 'apple', 'magic shoes' or 'magic herbs' refer to entheogenic fungi is difficult to prove but the subsequent visions and journeys into the otherworld tend to lead one to that conclusion.

One thing the book does highlight is the different ways in which an experience is described and interpreted in different cultures and at different times in history.

Some good leads in this book for further reading and research and the useful DVD enclosed has high quality images related to the text with a good audio commentary.
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Amazon.com: 2 reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
A thorough investigation of European fairy tales reveals a rich and enchanting psychedelic lore. 13 Feb 2009
By J Irvin - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
The Hidden World, Survival of Pagan Shamanic Themes in European Fairytales
By Carl A.P. Ruck, Blaise Daniel Staples, José Alfredo Gonzalez Celdrán, and Mark Alwin Hoffman. Carolina Academic Press, 2007.

A thorough investigation of European fairy tales reveals a rich and enchanting psychedelic lore.

In this academic masterpiece, Professor Carl Ruck and his band of sleuthers (Prof. José Gonzalez, Dr. Blaise Staples and Mark Hoffman) uncover the facts regarding whether or not entheogenic drug use was prominent throughout European fairytales, legends and folklore, teasing out the intricate clues in their most thorough investigation on this topic to date.

By comparing these ancient stories and untangling the threads that seem unrelated in their weaves, we come to see that the mysteries of the entheogenic rites were not lost to the Europeans, and that European folklore is rich with evidence that should make anyone who cares to investigate the many thorough citations a believer without a doubt.

In 1968 Gordon Wasson published Soma in which he argued that the Hindu Soma of the Rig Vedas was the Amanita muscaria or fly-agaric mushroom. Wasson opted to argue in this and subsequent publications that he could find no evidence of mushroom use in European ancestry. As he states on page 176: "I shall begin by saying where in Europe's past I have not found the cult of the sacred mushroom." He then goes on to discuss witchcraft, the druids and berserkers.

But from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, to the werewolves and the mysteries of lycanthropy, to vampires, to King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, to the berserkers and many others, by following the threads of these stories Ruck and crew find shamanic stories embedded throughout European folklore stemming from Druidic, Mithraic, Manichaean and Catharic histories, right into modern-day Christianity.

This book is a linguistic, as much as historical and mythological investigation of religious and folkloric themes. It's a deep and powerful book. It's one of those books I would happily read several times over to discover what previous reads missed.

As someone who has read many, if not most, of their citations, I can attest to the thoroughness of their investigation. I am genuinely impressed by the quality of this presentation - the eloquence of which they lay on the late Dr. Staples. But it is clear that in this book they've all gone out of their way to present a thorough and well argued masterpiece.

Charting new territory

The Hidden World as a title does not refer to the theme of occult secret societies and mystery schools (like Eleusis) and the suppression of pagan rites in the Pharmacratic Inquisition, but to the hidden world of the fairies, the gnomes and dwarves - the hidden world that lies just beyond our normal senses. It is important that people understand this while reading this book. I should make clear that the book does discuss those themes. However, it is important to understand the proper context of the hidden world on which the authors are focused.

This book should be recognized as one of the best pieces on entheogenic scholarship to date. It is by far, in my opinion, the authors' best work. The writing pose, the depth of the study, the quality and originality of research all weigh heavily in my evaluation; and I'm not one who has shied away from being critical of these authors in the past.

Weaknesses in the book, two of which should have been properly addressed by the publisher but were not, include: A) lack of illustrations. It is grueling to have to look up the illustrations one by one (even if I already had many of them). This book was clearly written with the intention of illustrations being included, but for some reason, their publisher did not include them. For the price of the book, the publisher could have easily done so. Thankfully the included DVD contains wonderful illustrations for the section Heretical Visionary Sacraments (chapter 2). B) There is no standard bibliography, which I find a great hindrance to researching their citations. You have to go to the footnotes of each page to find the citation there, rather than a simple bibliography at the back of the book. C) Lastly, this book discusses at length the many stories of Amanita muscaria and the shamanic tradition of urine consumption. But it should be noted that other mushrooms (psilocybe), and other entheogens, can also be recycled. A more encompassing investigation with this inclusion might yield some fantastic information and is something that deserves focus.

A 5 star read. A must have for any researcher of mythology, folklore, religion and entheogens.
32 of 40 people found the following review helpful
Entertaining, but are mushrooms really the key to *everything*? 5 July 2008
By Arle Lommel - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This book was passed on to me by a friend who knows I have interest in the now largely-ignored issue of survivals in folklore and in religious studies (my doctoral work was in this area). The premise is interesting enough: that folkloric materials contain remnants of shamanic ritual. Given the work done on figures such as the Hungarian táltos, there is ample reason to accept this general premise.

Unfortunately, Ruck's book is not about the survival of shamanic traces in fairytales. Rather (as anyone familiar with Ruck's writing, which I was not before reading this book, would have known), it's all about the 'shrooms dude. No occurrence of a red and white color scheme is too small, no bumpy surface too insignificant, no apparent change in mental state too trivial to be proof that lurking just beneath the surface of these tales is a cult of Amanita muscaria (fly agaric) eaters that seem to transcend time and space to be wherever Ruck needs them.

If Ruck is right, then he has the key to understanding the whole of human history from (I'm not joking) the lotophagi of the Odyssey to Super Mario Brothers. Of course, when a claim is too much to be believed (such as his statement that it is well known that Through The Looking Glass is a text about mushrooms) there are footnotes to other writings by Ruck or his coauthors to back it up. It's self-referential scholarship at its best! Everything is meticulously documented, but nothing seems to escape the gravitational pull of Ruck's Big Idea. And just when you think that there can't be a more outrageous claim about the role of mushrooms in human society, another one comes along that tops the last one.

Ultimately, I'm afraid, the issue isn't one of scholarship, but rather one of religion. Even Ruck's preferred term for psychedelics, "entheogens" (that which brings the god within), is an attempt to invest these things with not even quasi-religious authority. (While one could argue that entheogen is a more respectful and less loaded term than psychedelic with its associations with 60s drug counter-culture, Ruck seems to want the reader to take the theos component of entheogen literally.) Alas, Ruck's hypothesis cannot be falsified by the evidence, so it also cannot be tested or verified (a point he basically concedes at various points when he says that those looking for "proof" will miss the point). If you believe that the shrooms were everywhere, it all makes sense. If you're a bit skeptical, it's one wild ride of conjecture and outrageous speculation. While it is possible that Ruck is right and mushrooms (the consumption of which he basically equates with shamanism) were everywhere from Alice in Wonderland to the Christian Eucharist to Hindu enlightenment, I don't have the eye of faith needed to see it and I certainly don't see it as being so basic and fundamental and pervasive as Ruck and his colleagues do.

I'd give this one star for the scholarship, but for sheer entertainment value it's got two stars. If you like Graham Hancock or Erik von Däniken as spinners of great yarns, Ruck is up there with them (although nothing here is quite so, umm, exciting as Hancock's tales of spending the night among the pyramids and finding out some things he just can't tell the readers yet...)

There is credible scholarship out there about survivals and about shamanism, but this isn't it. I'm sure that Ruck would object that I've just bought into the whole mindset that suppresses the truth, but all this points to the fact that for Ruck et al. the mushrooms are an article of faith, something that is there before and after all proof or lack thereof.
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