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Shamanic Voices
A Survey of Visionary Narratives
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Author(s) :
Joan Halifax
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Edition(s) at Erowid :
Publisher :
Arkana (Penguin)
The shaman is the medicine man or woman, the visionary healer who is the central figure in many tribal cultures -- the repository of the group's rituals, myths, and secret lore. Though these individuals have eluded most Western investigators, noted medical anthropologis Joan Halifax, Ph.D., has here collected the words of the shamans themselves-- some directly from living people, others from hard-to-get primary sources.

These eloquent testimonies include harrowing tales of shamanic initiatory experiences; vivid accounts of visionary journeys; and revealing expressions of the shaman's unique position as the link between the people of his or her tribe with the timeless, inefable cosmos of which each person --and each culture-- is a part. For whether the account is by a Mesoamerican Indian or an African !Kung bushman, whether from Australia, Siberia, or Alaska, there is a remarkable unity to these diverse voices.

Each of the narratives is preceded by a brief introduction with background information on the shaman, and the book begins with a fascinating essay on shamanism by Dr. Halifax, co-author with Stanislav Grof of the Human Encounter With Death.

At last! Here is an anthropologist who lets the shamans tell us about shamanism. A brilliant performance. -- R. Gordon Wasson

"An extraordinary and careful book that makes immediate the experience of a once universal shamanism that has again entered into This unusual book strikes a balance between opposites without diluting them .... It treats lofty and extraordinary materials yet is immediate and specific."
-- Barbara Myerhoff

"An extraordinary and careful book that makes immediate the experience of a once universal shamanism that has again entered into our awareness as creators and seers."
-- Jerome Rothenberg

"A very fine and sensitively structured collection of narratives in which shamans speak for themselves about their experiences. An introduction to shamnism and, at the same time, a cross-cultural document of great value."
-- Claudio Naranjo, M.D.