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Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy (Bollingen)

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4.15 of 5 stars 4.15  ·  rating details  ·  1,298 ratings  ·  29 reviews
First published in 1951, "Shamanism" soon became the standard work in the study of this mysterious & fascinating phenomenon. Writing as the founder of the modern study of the history of religion, Romanian emigre--scholar Mircea Eliade (1907-86) surveys the practice of Shamanism over two & a half millennia of human history, moving from the Shamanic traditions of Sib ...more
Paperback, 610 pages
Published February 8th 2004 by Princeton University Press (first published 1951)
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Robert Beveridge
Mircea Eliade, Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy (Princeton, 1951)

I didn't keep count of how many times during this survey Eliade says he's just touching on the very surface of the scholarship of a given topic, or that in the limited space provided, he can only manage the barest mention of something. Eliade's "few comments" (p. 511) and fifty plus pages of bibliography, if he is to be believed, are a quick overview on shamanism as it has been practiced for the past two and a half millenia
...more
David John
Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy is a dense volume of incredibly intricate and detailed research of an extremely fine scholar into the field of religious anthropology. Such is the seriousness of its subject matter that it presents itself as an excellent tool for throwing at 'new-age' practitioners of spiritual bullshit. The weight of this book may be enough to knock some sense into these urban wizards. An extract:

"It is primarily with the syndrome of the shaman's mystical vocation that w
...more
Sophia Dunn
One of the three most authoritative works on shamanism, by renowned religious historian, Mircea Eliade. If you want to understand shamanism properly, forgo the New Age nonsense. Eliade's work is finely detailed, expertly researched, and places shamanic practice within an historical context of human spiritual development. There may be Christians, Jews, Muslims and Buddhists who practice Christianity, Judaism, Islam and Buddhism without having read, studied or understood the Bible, the Talmud, the ...more
TailFeather
THIS is the book to read if you want to know what REAL shamanism is. This is not fluffy bunny material.
Julie Suzanne
This was a somewhat interesting book...required reading for a class on John Milton. Isn't that odd? We were to make connections between Milton's authorship of Paradise Lost and the Shaman's ecstatic experience.
A heavy book, written by a scholar, not a new age Llewellyn author.
Joshua Homan
A huge tome devoted to the study of shamanism. Although a lot of the information is quite outdated the overall quality of the text is excellent. Tons of ethnographic examples from many cultures, culled by Eliade while he sat in his armchair.
Sarah
I read and re-read this book frequently- it's dense- clear and incredibly illuminating on the topic of all things shamanic. Masterful covering of the topic.
Witch'sCat
Apr 01, 2014 Witch'sCat rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in Shamanism but that is already quite familiar with the subject
Recommended to Witch'sCat by: A Shaman friend
The experiences that Eliade describes in the book are priceless! Though speaking from the perspective of a newcomer to the whole subject of Shamanism, I would have preferred if some technical terms had been described more concisely. The mythology does explain a lot, but it seems as though many technical thing aren't clearly described (such as the origin of the word "shaman"...the whole definition Eliade gives isn't concise as is the case with many other terms. He seems to like to overcomplicate ...more
Ritch
The sublime and unparalleled review. Legit!
David

This book is the ultimate book for understanding the beliefs and practices of Shamanism, written by one of the world's foremost experts on religion and sociology. I cannot stress enough how completely Eliade manages to cover the subject. A great deal of the book focuses on the Shamanic traditions of Siberia and Central Asia, the heartlands of Shamanism. Amongst the Mongols, Yakut, Chuckchi, Saami (Lapps) and other people of that region Shamanism was first observed, and is stil practiced today in
...more
Mary Overton
"... in all human beings the desire to enter into contact with the sacred is counteracted by the fear of being obliged to renounce the simple human condition and become a more or less pliant instrument for some manifestation of the sacred (gods, spirits, ancestors, etc.).
"In the following pages the deliberate quest for magico-religious powers or the grant of such powers by gods and spirits will concern us only in so far as it entails a massive acquisition of the sacred destined to make a radical
...more
Eric
Difficult to comment as I didn't finish it. Was a little, in fact 'a lot', more academic in tone and style than I had anticipated.

The parts I read didn't include any real analysis or criticism, just a very dry summary of what happens. Why this or that practice is followed isn't mentioned which, although of course subjective, gives the more casual reader something.

It appears fairly comprehensive if it were to be required reading academically and that would probably be the only reason I would pi
...more
Philippe Malzieu
I had undertaken to read all Eliade's book so much he gave me keys in the comprehension of the world. This book documented very well appears to me paradoxically most anecdotic. Undoubtedly the new age scrambled his message.
So intersting but wit this restriction. Thers is so many Eliade's book to read ( myth eternal return, sacral and secular...)
Margaret
Really fascinating history. I knew a bit about shamanism from taking an anthropology class and studying mythology, but really very little in comparison to the depth of knowledge in this history. Mircea Eliade presents a broad overview of historical techniques of shamanism; this is an academic work and not about spiritual archetypal shamanism. As a writer, I think it provides a lot of background and possible writing ideas for storytelling. I'm keeping this on my bookshelf to re-read and use in my ...more
InTochtli InMazatl
"En general, podemos decir que el chamán defiende la vida, la salud, la fecundidad y el mundo de la "Luz", contra la muerte, las enfermedades, la esterilidad, la desgracia y el mundo de las "tinieblas"."

"Pero se sabe que el chamán puede atraer la lluvia, detener las nubes, fundir el hielo de los ríos, y todo ello simplemente cantando o agitando una pluma."

"El chamán es el gran especialista del alma humana: solo el la "ve", porque conoce su "forma" y su "destino."
09gova
very good book
Cevad
A classical Eliadean approach towards Shamanism.. He compares and traces Shamanism's historical and linguistic roots and seeks Shamanist influences on other religions and religious ideas. Weird techniques of Shamanism is well depicted and beliefs were considered again his own theories such as "sacred time instead of history", "archetypal interactions between sacred and profane", "hierophanies, epiphanies i.e."
J Hyam
Worldwide survey of perhaps every known mode of shamanism... Eliade's erudition is enough to split open one's upper cortex. Which is exactly the point of being a "visitor between worlds;" burst through those closed psychic gates. Great example of becoming so immersed in a subject that it possesses you. Also clearly shows the foundation of every major religion that originated as this most archaic of sciences..
Teri Dluznieski
A bit on the dry side, but then the core information Mircea presents is the foundation upon which almost all modern books are built. I read this book in college, long before my own foray into shamanism and healing work. I need to revisit this work and see what it has to offer, from a more experienced and wiser ( hopefully) perspective.
Paweł
The study on shamanism. My first deeper insight into the primitive religions. It was insightful to find there the sources of fantasy genre as it is today.
The variety of detailed descriptions of shamanisms can be a little too much for ones not studying the subject.
Clare
A fascinating study which I have dipped in and out of, have drawn a lot of inspiration from and enjoyed the language of but not one I have read through. I guess books you use for studying you tend not to.
Eric Bradford
Amazing detail covering scientifically the practices and methods of a Shaman. I thoroughly enjoyed this and will be using it as a reference in the future.
Mary
A great authority on Shamanic principles. This was the first book on Shamanism that I read and still remains the best.
Terence
Sep 18, 2008 Terence added it
Shelves: religion
Such an interesting book, really fascinating accounts. Great breakdown of what a shaman is to many cultures.
Michael Brady
Every bit the thick and chewy read I expected. Like a decadent chocolate dessert, a little goes a long way.
Snowfalcon
A good companion to the first volume of Campbell's Masks of God.

Kathryn
i never finished it, but you know what he's getting at.
Mizuki Nakao
This book is now useful and must item for almost students.
Jessie
This is a fascinating book.
Alexandra Niţă
Alexandra Niţă is currently reading it
Nov 26, 2014
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Romanian-born historian of religion, fiction writer, philosopher, professor at the University of Chicago, and one of the pre-eminent interpreters of world religion in this century. Eliade was an intensely prolific author of fiction and non-fiction alike, publishing over 1,300 pieces over 60 years. He earned international fame with LE MYTHE DE L'ÉTERNAL RETOUR (1949, The Myth of the Eternal Return) ...more
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“The primitive magician, the medicine man or shaman is not only a sick man, he is above all, a sick man who has been cured, who has succeeded in curing himself.” 36 likes
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