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Shamans: Siberian Spirituality and the Western Imagination

Reviewed by Sarah

This work and its themes were a huge project for popular Pagan author Ronald Hutton to tackle. Information on Siberian Shamanism is sparse and often filled with cultural biases. In Shamans, Ronald Hutton sifts through first-hand accounts, second-hand accounts, amateur studies, as well as multiple scholars’ research and theories in order to present the reader with a work representing the entire body of research on Siberian shamanism. Hutton as usual is extremely thorough starting with a history of Siberia, its many tribes, and the constant persecution of its shamans. He then goes into who the shamans were, the different types, what they believed, how they practiced, what a shamanic performance was like, their status in the tribes, and of course their tools and ritual dress. He also covers what he calls “loose ends” — the beliefs and theories behind the shamans’ abilities to shape shift, whether they used entheogens or not (a huge academic debate), whether shamanism is related to witchcraft and Europe’s “Cunning Folk”, and whether shamanism was originally a female vocation supplanted by men.

Read the original article at: Pagan Bookworm

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