Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy (Arkana) Paperback – 27 Jul 1989
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"Eliade writes of the shamans with that masterly combination of sympathy and detachment. . . . . [His] findings will almost certainly be echoed by great voices of the future."--New York Times Book Review
"Eliade is the most informative guide to the modern mythologies."--Frank Kermode, New Statesman
"[A] close and detailed yet comparative study of shamanism. . . . [It] has become the standard work on the subject and justifies its claim to be the first book to study the phenomenon over a wide field and in a properly religious context."--Times Literary Supplement
"Clearly the best work on Shamanism published so far."--The Review of Religion
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
Born in Bucharest in 1907, Mircea Eliade was for many years Sewell L. Avery Distinguished Service Professor of the History of Religions at the University of Chicago. He is author of, among other books, "Images and Symbols: Studies in Religious Symbolism, Myth of the Eternal Return", and "Yoga: Immortality and Freedom" (all Princeton). Wendy Doniger is Mircea Eliade Distinguished Service Professor of the History of Religions at the University of Chicago. Her books include "The Bedtrick: Tales of Sex and Masquerade, The Implied Spider", and "Splitting the Difference: Gender and Myth in Ancient Greece and India". Her translations of such texts as "The Rig Veda, The Law of Manu", and the "Kamasutra" have garnered wide praise. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
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 .
If you want a more up-to-date view of shamanism check out some of the latest academic offerings. Thomas DuBois' Introduction is noteworthy and although Margaret Stutley's Introduction is not perfect it is superior to Eliade's work. If you're interested in Neoshamanism, Graham Harvey and Robert Wallis lead the pack in accessible and intelligent material.
Of particular interest to the general reader is his exploration of the way that shamanic myths and practices survive ‘camouflaged’ in better known religions: in his Journal he wrote that he wanted the book to be read by poets, playwrights, literary critics and painters, who he felt would derive more benefit from it than would specialists.
There is also much interest nowadays in the use of hallucinogenic drugs to achieve ecstasy; and so the question arises as to what extent this has always been an essential part of the shaman’s repertoire. Eliade is clear that the use of such substances is “a recent innovation and points to a decadence in shamanic technique. Narcotic intoxication is called on to provide an imitation of a state that the shaman is no longer capable of attaining otherwise.” A more recent study of shamanism, by the historian Ronald Hutton, supports this view (although it has been suggested elsewhere that Eliade modified his opinion towards the end of his life), but is less kind about his methodology, criticising his tendency to ignore data that did not fit his overall thesis.Read more ›
Eliade's is one of the best books i have read in terms of content, though it can be a long read! But well worth the effort.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Excellent book cover a wide variety of topics and information, I highly recommend this and it came earlier than expected/Published 4 months ago by George
This book by Mircea Eliade is an essential book for anyone studying or practicing core shamanism. Well researched and an intriguing story.Published 5 months ago by Setanta
An interest in the subject of shamanism will lead the student to this piece of work first before any other written in the present day.Published 19 months ago by Tall Man
thoroughly enjoyable and a great book
easy to read and provides excellent information
What a pity that Eliade is so highly esteemed in the study of shamanism. His awkward propensity to categorise in a quasi-encyclopaedic way sterilises this vast, rich tradition. Read morePublished on 23 Dec. 2013 by Sophie Johnson
This is in fact a great book. It teachs us what is a shaman , what's his roll within his tribe. We learn here what were their 'practices' in Europe, Asia, America and Australia. Read morePublished on 6 Aug. 2013 by Elsa
This is probably the most comprehensive amalgamation of shamanism there is. This is a vast and broad subject that has been tackled very well and is a great piece of... Read morePublished on 21 Dec. 2012 by BadgerJelly
This is a substantial work on Shamanism, most particularly in Central Asia and including specific nuances in tribes and variations of, also extending to other regions. Read morePublished on 24 Feb. 2012 by D45