Shamanism is one of the earliest and farthest-reaching magical and religious traditions, vestiges of which still underlie the major religious faiths of the modern world. The function of the shaman is to show his or her people the unseen powers behind the mere appearances of nature, as experienced through intuition, in trance states, or during ecstatic mystical visions. Shamans possess healing powers, communicate with the dead and the world beyond, and influence the weather and movements of hunting animals. The psychological exaltation of shamanism trance states is similar to the ecstasies of Yogis, Christian mystics and dervishes. Shamanism: An Introduction traces the development of shamanism in its many fascinating global manifestations. Looking at shamanic practices from Siberia to China and beyond, it provides an accessible guide to one of the world's most ancient, notorious and frequently misrepresented spiritual traditions. Placing special emphasis on the climate, geographic and cultural pressures under which shanic customs arose and continue to be observed, Margaret Stutley summarizes and clearly explains the logic of a faith whose fantastical elements hold a special place in popular imagination.
Margaret Stutley is an expert on world religions and folk tradition, and the author of several books including Hinduism (Crucible 1989), Ancient Indian Magic and Folklore (Motilal Banarsidass, 2000) and An Introduction to Magical Elements in the Bible (Weavers Press, 1991).
'Margaret Stutley's Shamanism: An Introduction looks as if it might be a cut above its competition ... she draws convincing parallels between shamanic ideas of flight and similar concepts in other religions, with insightful references to the Bible.' - Times Literary Supplement