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The World of Shamanism: New Views of an Ancient Tradition

Fascinating, comprehensive, and eminently readable, this guide explores shamanism—the world‘s most enduring healing and religious tradition—in the light of modern medicine, psychology, neuroscience, consciousness disciplines, and religious studies.

Praise for The World of Shamanism
“As if on cue, just when I am beginning to think that shamanism is the ground from which all religions spring, along comes this book.  I cannot imagine a book that would be more helpful to me in thinking through this important subject.”
—Huston Smith, author of The World‘s Religions

“…Unquestionably the most rounded compact introduction to shamanism, particularly the inner world of shamans, available today. A door-opening book for students of consciousness and spirituality.”
—Georg Feuerstein, Ph.D., M.Litt, author of The Yoga Tradition

“A splendidly clear and timely survey of shamanism.”
—Jean Achterberg, Ph.D., author of Imagery in Healing

“Quite simply, this book is a major step forward in understanding the vital phenomenon of shamanism. I recommend it highly.”
—Charles Tart, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Psychology, University of California at Davis, author of States of Consciousness
“…Eminently useful and inspiring. A brilliant integrative work that pushes the frontiers of consciousness in insightful, practical, and powerful ways.”
—Angeles Arrien, Ph.D., Cultural Anthropologist, author of The Four-Fold Way and The Second Half of Life

“…Unique in bringing together the full range of anthropological, psychological, and psychiatric literature on this vital subject. It does so with admirable scholarship yet still manages to be sensitive and clear.”
—Christie W. Kiefer, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Anthropology, University of California at San Francisco

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  1. Adam Rourke "Author of The Goblin Universe" says

    Shamanism Today Shamanism is a rather loose term used to describe a system of thought used by healers in a wide variety of `primitive’ cultures that have their roots in the realm of magic rather than in the realm of science. Many people feel a disconnect with the world as presented to them by science. They feel, at a gut level, that there is something more and in shamanism they hope to find a path that can lead them to that other something.This is not a book of do-it-yourself instructions for becoming a shaman but a look at the history and practice of shamanism, its many varieties and the ideas that underlying it. Dr. Walsh takes you by the hand and gently leads you through the subject dealing with vision quests, journeys to other worlds, altered states of consciousness, spirit helpers and beliefs. He effortlessly combines anthropology, psychology, and psychiatry with a smattering of New Age thought while grounding his writings in scientific research as much as possible. He carefully documents his sources to produce, if nothing else, a truly awesome bibliography. Yet he writes in a manner that anyone can understand keeping his discussions short, crisp and to the point.Yet for all of this he manages a fluidity of thought and breath of view that will make many scientists uncomfortable. What comes off as New Age thinking or even crackpot thinking is actually the thinking of a man ahead of his time. For he has the insight, or perhaps the humility, to realize that science is not the only game in town. In shamanism we have an alternate way of looking at the world, one far older than the scientific view. In his discussions of the nature of consciousness, altered states of being and the world as the shaman sees it he does a valuable service to science by pointing to areas of thought that many scientists dismiss to easily.

  2. R. Elliott Ingersoll says

    The Power of Dwelling in Ambiguity The World of Shamanism is the best book I’ve read on the topic. A totally updated work that builds on his earlier book ((The Spirit of Shamanism) this book explores shamanism as we find it in the world, in the psyche, and in neo-shamanic practices.Dr. Walsh has mastered the art of writing in a popular manner rooted in rigorous research. There is no doubt about his sources as he carefully provides them in footnotes for the more curious reader. In his even-handed presentation of multiple perspectives Dr. Walsh models the tolerance for ambiguity he notes as necessary for a mature experience of the mystery of the universe.Most important, with regard to the subjective aspects of shamanic experience, he models “the principle of causal indifference” which reflects an acceptance (rare in our society) that “subjectively identical experiences can be produced by multiple causes” (p. 196).This is a must read for mental health professionals whose map of the universe includes the potential of non-ordinary states for healing as well as for the layperson trying to dig their way through all the misinformation on shamanism that has piled up in the “new age” market over the years.

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