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This classic on shamanism pioneered the modern shamanic renaissance. It is the foremost resource and reference on shamanism. Now, with a new introduction and a guide to current resources, anthropologist Michael Harner provides the definitive handbook on practical shamanism – what it is, where it came from, how you can participate.

"Wonderful, fascinating… Harner really knows what he's talking about."
CARLOS CASTANEDA

"An intimate and practical guide to the art of shamanic healing and the technology of the sacred. Michael Harner is not just an anthropologist who has studied shamanism; he is an authentic white shaman."
STANILAV GROF, author of 'The Adventure Of Self Discovery'

"Harner has impeccable credentials, both as an academic and as a practising shaman. Without doubt (since the recent death of Mircea Eliade) the world's leading authority on shamanism."
NEVILL DRURY, author of 'The Elements of Shamanism'

Michael Harner, Ph.D., has practised shamanism and shamanic healing for more than a quarter of a century. He is the founder and director of the Foundation for Shamanic Studies in Norwalk, Connecticut.

Topics: Magic, Spirituality , Indigenous Peoples, Meditation, Anthropology, Journeys, Inspirational, Guides, and Drugs

Published: HarperCollins on
ISBN: 9780062038128
List price: $10.99
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I read this because it was on The Ultimate Reading List for "Inspirational Non-fiction." It was one of only a few on that list I thought might be of interest to me given Harner was a anthropologist that had studied shamanism in the field as well as practicing it--I thought he might have some insightful things to say about it. I found this instead to be a rather silly book I couldn't take seriously. I probably should have known better given where the book was located in the bookstore--under "New Age - Magical Practice." I'm a thoroughgoing rationalist, really not the target market for this book, so I considered neither rating nor reviewing. In the end I decided to do so to:1) Remind me I read this already and not to ever bother again to read Harner. 2) Let those on my Goodreads friends list who actually believe in Wicca and the like know something about the book so they'll know if this is something they'd like. 3) Tell my writer friends, some of whom write speculative fiction, about this book in case they're looking for something upon which to model fictional magical practice. Harner defines a shaman as a "man or woman who enters an altered state of consciousness--at will--to contact and utilize an ordinarily hidden reality to acquire knowledge, power, and to help other persons." In the first chapter, "Discovering the Way," Harner relates how after taking psychedelic drugs given to him by the Conibo tribe of the Amazon river, he experienced hallucinations he believed to be genuine visions. He then went back to an Andes tribe he'd studied, the Jivaro, and asked for mystical training--more psychedelic drugs, more "visions" and after that he became a practicing Shaman. In his introduction he says of his book that the "main focus here is to provide an introductory handbook of shamanic methodology for health and healing." He proposes various exercises to alter consciousness without drugs, primarily through "drumming, rattling, singing, and dancing." His first exercise is designed to take you on a "Shamanic Journey...through the Tunnel into the Lower World." Also described are rituals such as a "spirit quest" to find your "power animal," and once found, how to keep this spiritual guide by regularly "exercising your animal." There is also mention of "power songs," "power intrusions" and "medicine bundles" filled with "power objects" that include the indispensable "quartz crystal." In other words, the usual New Age stuff, but not anything that really discusses rigorously Shamanistic practices in indigenous and pre-Industrial cultures or useful to someone interested in ethnography or comparative religion.more
This book a classic when it comes to neoshamanism and core shamanism This book has some issues for me though. I think one of the biggest ones being that the author doesn’t really go into the dangers of journeying outside a few mentions and doesn’t really give any techniques for defenses. Another is that a few techniques and ideas for practice are not very practically to most people, such as the use of tobacco, the idea of a partner drumming for you while journeying, using games that involve more than two or more people to practice shamanic techniques, and so on. However, as a basic read on core shamanism and for a read on a classic which helped begin it all, its not a bad book to add to a list to start off with though its certainly not the best stand alone book.more
While I truly appreciate the information and insight Harner has brought to the west, his writing is amazingly academic and cerebral. If you are seeking an experiential glimpse of shamanism or a more instructional text, this book is not it. To learn *why* shamanism, absorb every page.more
An interesting book which mixes experience and practice to give an excellent primer on the subject of shamanism. Although the discussions on tribal methods and how to use them yourself is fascinating in its own right, I found the beginning of the book which details his own experiences among the native shamans to be the best part of the book. Some may feel that the use of drugs to achieve altered states (which he has described using himself in his experiences) to be non useful and perhaps counterproductive, but I would say that its inclusion is necessary because every tribal group had its own way of getting into the spirit world and to give a complete picture you need its inclusion in the discussion. His own experience using these drugs is crucial to the argument because it truly gives him an insider point of view rather than simply being an observer. The fact that he knew he was about to die in his first experience and he barely was able to make his plead vocal to the indians should be more than enough to keep some people from simply trying to attempt it on their own. All cases he experienced with drugs he states that there were others there to keep restraint and watch over the individual going under, these folks knew what they were doing. All in all a good read and I would suggest Mircea Eliade's works as choice material to study after one reads this book.more
This is an older book about shamanism (ca. 1980), and it really started the whole neo-shamanistic revival in the past decades. I would start here if you're interested in shamanism, as it really provided inspiration to a lot of other modern writers on the subject.more
Fairly good introduction to Shamanism from the perspective of the anthropologist. However, it was only of moderative use for me in learning how to incorporate Shamanism into my personal practice.more
If you want a good overview of what to expect from lower level shamanic journeying then this book certainly delivers. Harner is a reputable source for information and of course gives really valuable advice for handling the journey. The only thing that I am not enamoured of is his experiences with journeying that almost always include some form of mind altering subtance. This isn't the way it is practiced in the west and I find this aspect of his sharing counterproductive (since the drugs aren't necessary to have powerful and meaningful experiences). If you have never journeyed though, I can recommend this book for practical advice for beginners.more
Read all 7 reviews

Reviews

I read this because it was on The Ultimate Reading List for "Inspirational Non-fiction." It was one of only a few on that list I thought might be of interest to me given Harner was a anthropologist that had studied shamanism in the field as well as practicing it--I thought he might have some insightful things to say about it. I found this instead to be a rather silly book I couldn't take seriously. I probably should have known better given where the book was located in the bookstore--under "New Age - Magical Practice." I'm a thoroughgoing rationalist, really not the target market for this book, so I considered neither rating nor reviewing. In the end I decided to do so to:1) Remind me I read this already and not to ever bother again to read Harner. 2) Let those on my Goodreads friends list who actually believe in Wicca and the like know something about the book so they'll know if this is something they'd like. 3) Tell my writer friends, some of whom write speculative fiction, about this book in case they're looking for something upon which to model fictional magical practice. Harner defines a shaman as a "man or woman who enters an altered state of consciousness--at will--to contact and utilize an ordinarily hidden reality to acquire knowledge, power, and to help other persons." In the first chapter, "Discovering the Way," Harner relates how after taking psychedelic drugs given to him by the Conibo tribe of the Amazon river, he experienced hallucinations he believed to be genuine visions. He then went back to an Andes tribe he'd studied, the Jivaro, and asked for mystical training--more psychedelic drugs, more "visions" and after that he became a practicing Shaman. In his introduction he says of his book that the "main focus here is to provide an introductory handbook of shamanic methodology for health and healing." He proposes various exercises to alter consciousness without drugs, primarily through "drumming, rattling, singing, and dancing." His first exercise is designed to take you on a "Shamanic Journey...through the Tunnel into the Lower World." Also described are rituals such as a "spirit quest" to find your "power animal," and once found, how to keep this spiritual guide by regularly "exercising your animal." There is also mention of "power songs," "power intrusions" and "medicine bundles" filled with "power objects" that include the indispensable "quartz crystal." In other words, the usual New Age stuff, but not anything that really discusses rigorously Shamanistic practices in indigenous and pre-Industrial cultures or useful to someone interested in ethnography or comparative religion.more
This book a classic when it comes to neoshamanism and core shamanism This book has some issues for me though. I think one of the biggest ones being that the author doesn’t really go into the dangers of journeying outside a few mentions and doesn’t really give any techniques for defenses. Another is that a few techniques and ideas for practice are not very practically to most people, such as the use of tobacco, the idea of a partner drumming for you while journeying, using games that involve more than two or more people to practice shamanic techniques, and so on. However, as a basic read on core shamanism and for a read on a classic which helped begin it all, its not a bad book to add to a list to start off with though its certainly not the best stand alone book.more
While I truly appreciate the information and insight Harner has brought to the west, his writing is amazingly academic and cerebral. If you are seeking an experiential glimpse of shamanism or a more instructional text, this book is not it. To learn *why* shamanism, absorb every page.more
An interesting book which mixes experience and practice to give an excellent primer on the subject of shamanism. Although the discussions on tribal methods and how to use them yourself is fascinating in its own right, I found the beginning of the book which details his own experiences among the native shamans to be the best part of the book. Some may feel that the use of drugs to achieve altered states (which he has described using himself in his experiences) to be non useful and perhaps counterproductive, but I would say that its inclusion is necessary because every tribal group had its own way of getting into the spirit world and to give a complete picture you need its inclusion in the discussion. His own experience using these drugs is crucial to the argument because it truly gives him an insider point of view rather than simply being an observer. The fact that he knew he was about to die in his first experience and he barely was able to make his plead vocal to the indians should be more than enough to keep some people from simply trying to attempt it on their own. All cases he experienced with drugs he states that there were others there to keep restraint and watch over the individual going under, these folks knew what they were doing. All in all a good read and I would suggest Mircea Eliade's works as choice material to study after one reads this book.more
This is an older book about shamanism (ca. 1980), and it really started the whole neo-shamanistic revival in the past decades. I would start here if you're interested in shamanism, as it really provided inspiration to a lot of other modern writers on the subject.more
Fairly good introduction to Shamanism from the perspective of the anthropologist. However, it was only of moderative use for me in learning how to incorporate Shamanism into my personal practice.more
If you want a good overview of what to expect from lower level shamanic journeying then this book certainly delivers. Harner is a reputable source for information and of course gives really valuable advice for handling the journey. The only thing that I am not enamoured of is his experiences with journeying that almost always include some form of mind altering subtance. This isn't the way it is practiced in the west and I find this aspect of his sharing counterproductive (since the drugs aren't necessary to have powerful and meaningful experiences). If you have never journeyed though, I can recommend this book for practical advice for beginners.more
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