on 21 March 2011
The second in a series of eight under the overall title of "Eight Paths of Magic", this book explores the role of the shaman, from the perspective of British Shamanism. As a British Pagan with Druidic leanings, I can imagine that the series will also appeal to most Druids.
There is no real introduction, which is a pity, but the book begins with an interesting discussion of "What is a Shaman?", which includes clear explanations and talk, and defines shamanism neatly as: "A magical/religious practice during which the shaman enters a trance state in order to enter a realm of non-ordinary reality beyond everyday consciousness in order to encounter spirits". The author emphasises that everything the Shamam learns comes through personal experience, and that all understanding comes through practise. As a pagan, these ideas touch the core of my understanding, and resonate with my worldview, making me want to read more.
Throughout the 8 chapters which follow, there are examples, stories, and myths from the British and European traditions, very refreshing considering the focus of the book is primarily British Shamanism. Shamanic methods such as the use of trance, gateways, shape-shifting, fairies and spirit helpers, are covered, and two of the longest chapters deal with animal powers and plant allies. The author really shows her vast knowledge here, drawing upon stories and myths from a wide range of sources in order to provide long, helpful descriptions of the qualities of each in turn. A fascinating insight into an area of interest to me!
The book is clear and well written, and the illustrations are just divine. It gives a good grounding in some of the most basic Shamanistic concepts, and does not restrict itself to Britian. Unfortunately there is no further reading section, which would have proved useful, nor is there an index giving further information on the author and her background. Overall a very intersting and useful read.