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Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy

4.20  ·  Rating details ·  2,038 ratings  ·  59 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
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
Sophia Dunn
Dec 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: shamanism
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
J.M. Hushour
Jul 27, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When it comes to finding the roots of processes that we use in our life today (religion, politics, pornography, etc.) there is a certain reticence in our data-driven, highly skeptical world for the sort of thing that Eliade does best: comparative pattern-study. That's basically what this book is. Eliade looks at instances of shamanism the world-round and finds common denominators that seem to point to archaic, shared world-views amongst those early pockets of humanity thrust into the wider world ...more
Aug 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
THIS is the book to read if you want to know what REAL shamanism is. This is not fluffy bunny material.
Scriptor Ignotus
Oct 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: anthropology
This is as good a survey of the socio-spiritual phenomenon of shamanism as is ever likely to be written. It is focused primarily around the shamanic practices of Siberia and Central Asia—the region where shamanism was first observed and labeled as such—but Eliade links the practices of this region with similar shamanic practices in other parts of the world. This study is both broad and elaborately detailed.

The subtitle—Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy—belies Eliade’s general approach. Shaman spiri
There are a bunch of books about shamanism, yet most of them consist of the Neoshamanism template. Usually western people romanticize Shamanism nowadays (e.g. turning our faces to our inner selves and combining our beings with nature by going vegan, meditating and burning some herbs/incense etc. ) when in fact Shamanism is cruel in its own way, considering how people believed that they can make it rain by offering Gods their poor animal victims, even sometimes little children.

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Are you fucking k
Josh Anderson
Apr 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Where did yoga come from? What about poetry and drama? Costume and dance? There's much evidence to show that most of what we do in our daily lives that matters most to us, revolves around passions and not rational thought, and those passions are often convoluted and vague. Following the trail of where our passions come from will often end in the naming of an ineffable force, only after finding we often partake in a "westernized" tradition of something that was once more raw and archaic. Metaphys ...more
Apr 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I read this book because I saw pictures of Siberian shamans from the 50's and I wanted to understand how people like this understand themselves. This book is great because it doesn't try to contextualize primitive shamanism through the lens of any particular religion or philosophy. Instead, it takes interviews and traditions of tribal shamans at face value and lets the reader decide what it all means.

I was surprised at the extent to which shamanic beliefs should be familiar to any contemporary
Mar 13, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: anthropology
Eliade discusses shamanic practices and beliefs from around the world, including how shamans are selected, their powers, their initiations, their seances, and their social functions as retrievers of lost souls and as psychopomps. A well-researched (and fully footnoted) sociological/ anthropological study of tribal healers and spiritual leaders and a classic work on the subject.

"The shaman's essential role in the defense of the psychic integrity of the community depends above all else on this: me
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.
Mar 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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.
Mar 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I have read a lot about Shamanism.... i can assure you that in this book you will find almost all the info about Shamans and their Techniques.
Ertan Tolan
May 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Şamanizm hakkında bilgi edinmek için okuduğum bu kitaptan istediğim her şeyi fazlasıyla aldım. Yazar bölgelere göre farklılıkları ortak yönleri okuyucuyu sıkmadan anlatmış. Şamanizm ritüellerini hayalimde canlandırmamda oldukça yardımcı oldu. Kitabın kalınlığından dolayı sıkıcı olacağını düşünüyordum fakat yazarın farklı kaynaklardan derlediği ve kendi araştırmalarından elde ettiği anlatacak o kadar çok çıkarımı var ki asla kendini tekrar etmiyor.
Joshua Homan
Nov 23, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: shamanism
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.
Ahmad Sharabiani
Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy, Mircea Eliade
شمنیسم: فنون کهن خلسه، میرجا الیاده
Aug 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The sublime and unparalleled review. Legit!
Paul Foley
Sep 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Eliade's thesis is that shamans made ascents to the celestial gods and to the underworld through ecstatic techniques, trances. They travel through the three cosmic planes, the sky, earth, and underworld. This is the province of the 'true' shaman, selected by the gods, whose profession is chosen for him, and not by him. It is a calling. They make these magical - spiritual journeys via the center of the world, a special place, an axis, a world navel. To Eliade, this is a 'concrete mystical experie ...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
Jan 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing

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
Sep 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: scholarly
Excellent, but dense and a little dry. The subject matter is fascinating, and the connections he makes with Shamanism from around the world, along with the parallels between Shamanistic thought and art and religion, were beyond fascinating. Recommended as a reference book.
Czarny Pies
Jun 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Mircea Eliade explique clairement sa demarche dès la première phrase de l’avant-propos de “chamanisme et les techniques archaïques de l’extase”: “ Le présent ouvrage embrasse le chamanisme dans sa totalité, tout. en le situant dans la perspective de l'histoire générale des religion.” Autrement dit, le livre est un synthèse écrit par un historien des oeuvres sur le chamanisme écrites par des ethnologues dans le but de décrire les pratiques religieuses avant l’avenement du Chrisitianisme. Il n’est ...more
Nov 01, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fully-reviewed
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
Rebel Unicorn
Sep 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Anche più di cinque stelle per questa opera. Finalmente un tomo completo e leggibile (e pure bello), scritto da mano competente.
Eliade é semplicemente un mostro. Prima di tutto per la sua capacità di esprimere concetti anche complessi in modo chiaro e conciso. Non brillo per intelligenza, ma sono stata in grado di capire tutto e bene al primo colpo. In secondo luogo, per aver saputo mantenere le fila di un argomento così complesso lungo tutte le cinquecentoquaranta pagine. Non ci si perde mai. U
Paweł Fiszer
Sep 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bardzo ciekawa lektura dla pasjonatów badań antropologicznych, fascynatów pra-religijnych obrzędów. Studium porównawcze wieloletniego dorobku badawczego kilkunastu (właściwie kilkudziesięciu) naukowców. Rzecz dla koneserów, ale momentami potrafi być fascynująca.
Kiedy poznajesz przedreligijną podbudowę, łatwiej jest zrozumieć mechanizmy powstawania kultów, ba, paradoksalnie, nie zniechęca to do próby objęcia umysłem religii jako takich, a przeciwnie - czyni je bliższymi i bardziej przestępnymi. M
Mar 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in Shamanism but that is already quite familiar with the subject
Recommended to Dora by: A Shaman friend
Shelves: pagan-books
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
Sara Gray
Apr 16, 2016 rated it liked it
At times fascinating, at other times very academic, this book gave me a good background into the philosophy, history, and ethnology of shamanism and the various forms it has taken throughout the world. It is justly famous for being a jumping-off point for deeper research; it's an excellent summary. My eyes glazed over during many sections, but in the areas that pique my interest--Tibetan Bon, Australian tribes, and South American shamanism--it provided some good information and food for thought. ...more
Oct 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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."
Cevat Sucu
May 16, 2011 rated it really liked it
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."
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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
“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.” 57 likes
“Poetry remakes and prolongs language; every poetic language begins by being a secret language, that is, the creation of a personal universe, of a completely closed world. The purest poetic act seems to re-create language from an inner experience that … reveals the essence of things.” 4 likes
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