By Leo Rutherford
This updated edition of Principles of Shamanism offers an introduction to shamanism, the oldest spiritual path of them all (at least 50,000 years).
Shamanism is the oldest way in which humanity has sought connection with Creation. The origins of shamanism go back at least 40,000-50,000 years to Stone Age times. All of us have evolved from shamanic cultures, shamanism is not imported, it is our roots wherever we live.
Anthropologists have studied shamanism in North, Central and South America, Africa, amongst the aboriginal people of Australasia, the Eskimo and Lapps of the far North, in Indonesia, Malaysia, Senegal, Patagonia, Siberia, Bali, Ancient Britain and across Europe, in Tibet where the path of Bon shamanism underlies Tibetan Buddhism – in places all over the world. Leo Rutherford has learned from Inca and Shipibo of Peru, Lakota, Cherokee, Pueblo, Hopi and Ojibway of North America, and from apprentices of the Huichols of Mexico. All over the world there is evidence of shamanic practices from as far back as the palaeolithic period. From ancient cave drawings and similar records it seems that all indigenous peoples shared a similar cosmology, a similar understanding of how the universe works.
…from Inca and Shipibo, Lakota, Cherokee, Pueblo, Hopi and Ojibway…
Today shamanism survives on all inhabited continents in less ‘developed’ regions in spite of the relentless onslaught of Western scientific materialism, the treatment of the Earth and nature as something to be dominated and exploited, and disconnected male-dominated religion. Now, as the unsustainable nature of Western civilization is becoming visible, more and more people of the industrial world are turning to the old cultures for help and guidance in finding a way back to a greater balance with nature, with Planet Earth, and with themselves.
Shamanism is not a belief system. It is a path to knowledge which is gained through experience of many facets of life, through rituals, ceremonies, prayer and meditation, trials and tests. Knowledge is something that works, that stands up to tests and to the test of time, that is known from inside, unlike belief which is something taken on from outside, from others. Wars are fought over beliefs, dogma and doctrine, not over knowledge.
Leo Rutherford is a psychotherapist with an M.A. in Holistic Psychology. He has studied with many shamanic teachers including Wallace Black Elk, and Inca shaman Don Eduardo Calderon. He runs the Eagle’s Wing Centre for Contemporary Shamanism which features many workshops associated with shamanism including Medicine Wheel, shamanic journeying, remote viewing, trance dance, sweatlodge and visionquest.
Fully illustrated. Third edition. Resources and notes. 208pp. ISBN 9781861714602.
Front cover art by Howard G Charing
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