Top positive review
38 people found this helpful
on 19 April 2010
I don't normally write reviews for books but felt the one review giving one star for this book to be so unjust that it deserved a more balanced addition.
This book is a scholarly meticulously researched study of the various practises of shamanism throughout the world. It does not provide you with a description of the techniques of how to be a shaman, nor how to have an ecstatic journey, nor how to have an out of body experience, which is presumably what the one star reviewer was looking for. Instead it provides a detailed description of shamanism as it was and is practised.
There are over 50 pages of reference works on which Eliade drew in order to provide this summary, which groups his findings by region as well as by certain common practises - parallel myths symbols and rites.
There are descriptions of the 'rebirth' experiences of shamans [the genuine near death experiences, not the common interpreation now used of born again]; the practises of healing, the travels of the shaman in out of body experiences, their roles as psychopomp and their practise of healing via 'soul retrieval'. He also describes 'soul loss' and what it means to each group.
The amount of carefully researched detail that is provided is astonishing, it is almost a life's work but carefully organised into this relatively compact volume. It draws on the work of anthropologists and the better and more serious researchers of religions, as such it is also reliable in its findings.
Personally I found this book to be a treasure house of information - but then I bought the book knowing what it contained and what I was going to use it for.
To summarise - an invaluable scholarly work on shamanic practises throughout the world over the ages .