Tag: Shamanism

Gift of the Dreamtime, by S Kelley Harrell

By L. D. Taylor | May 4, 2011 | Leave a comment

Gift of the Dreamtime, by S. Kelley HarrellGift of the Dreamtime: Awakening ot the Divinity of Trauma, by S. Kelley Harrell
Spilled Candy Books, 9781892718501, 146 pp., 2004

Gift of the Dreamtime is author S. Kelly Harrell’s account of her personal visionary experiences. Or at least we assume it is: we’re not given any context; there are no disclaimers or introductions. Harrell drops us right into the thick of it, beginning with her first visionary experiences, initiated by the drumming of a shaman (one whom we are never actually introduced to). After the initial exploration of her lower and upper dreamworld and an introduction to both animal and spirit guides, the shaman recedes from view; presumably Harrell undertakes the remaining journeys by herself.

This is an unusual book. It’s not a theoretical book. It’s not a how-to manual. It’s not a biography either. It’s a diary more than anything else. Harrell opens up to the reader; if she holds anything back it’s not obvious. This is the story of her pathway, the road she took to disentangle the complex ball of emotions generated by her incestuous childhood sexual abuse. Continue reading


Witchcraft Medicine, by Claudia Muller-Ebeling, Christian Ratsch and Wolf-Dieter Storl

By Mike Gleason | October 18, 2009 | Leave a comment

Witchcraft Medicine: Healing Arts, Shamanic Practices, and Forbidden Plantsby, Claudia Muller-Ebeling, Christian Ratsch and Wolf-Dieter Storl
Inner Traditions, 0892819715, 240 pp. (incl. appendix, bibliography and index), 1998, 2003

What image comes to mind when you read the phrase “Witchcraft Medicine”? Do you see a crone bent over a cauldron, muttering under her breath? Do you imagine a dark peasant hovel in the Middle Ages? Me, too! The subtitle of this volume, translated from a German edition of 1998, helps to clear away some of the misconceptions before the cover is even opened however. “Healing Arts, Shamanic Practices, and Forbidden Plants” lets the reader know that the topic will range far beyond narrow preconceptions.

The book is profusely illustrated with old woodcuts, drawings and full-colour photographs. Quotations from numerous sources, ancient , medieval, and modern appear frequently in sidebars. There are charts listing various plants and their associations with planets, deities, and symbolism. Continue reading


Review: Healing with Form, Energy and Light, by Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche

By Gesigewigu's | January 24, 2009 | Leave a comment

Healing with Form, Energy, and Light: The Five Elements in Tibetan Shamanism, Tantra, and Dzogchen, by Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche
Snow Lion Publications, 1559391766, 159 pp (incl. glossary), 2002

Bön is the indigenous Tibetan religion that predates Buddhism, often called Tibetan Shamanism. As a religious belief it had historically suffered a social oppression under the Lama culture of Buddhist Tibet, but His Holiness, the Fourteenth Dalai Lama has recognized Bön as one of the five major spiritual traditions in Tibet, which has led to a resurgence of information and interest in this traditions. Tenzin Wangyal is a Bön-po (practioner), considered a Bön master and has spent his life studying Vajrayana and Bön. Due to this upbringing (and perhaps the modern state of the religion), the Bön in this book is heavily influenced by Tibetan Buddhism, as opposed to being “pure” Bön, which Continue reading


Review: The Book of Seidr, by Runic John

By Prenna Unsane | January 28, 2007 | Leave a comment

The Book of Seidr: The Native English And Northern European Shamanic Tradition, by Runic John
CapallBann, 2004

With the popularity of Runes information on Seidr, the Germanic form of shamanism, is sometimes difficult to come across. Well-researched information that tries to reconstruct the practices as well as possible is even more rare. Runic John’s book is one source of just such information.

The opening chapter of the book serves to ground the reader firmly in the lore with regard to Seidr practice. Using the Eddas, sagas, and even analysis of practices banned by early Christianity, we begin to build a picture of the Seidr men and women of ancient times.

Chapter 2 is the first chapter of practical exercises. It aims to develop the basic skills required, such visualization, that will be required throughout one’s development. The creation of a harrow is also described as an aid to magical and religious focus.

The rest of the chapters continue the mix of practical exercises and explanation of relevant lore and traditions. Where there are gaps in the historical accounts of Seidr Runic John analyzes the neighbouring traditions of the Sammi and Siberian shamans. This will no doubt disturb the more ‘folkish’ members of the heathen community but it is done in a measured and well thought out way.

The practical techniques taught by this book include shamanic journeying through the nine worlds of Yggdrasil, shapeshifting, healing, and Spae (oracular Seidr). Each technique is taught in a way that progresses gradually so that even the most inexperienced reader can develop his or her own Seidr practice.

All in all I think this book is an excellent guide for anyone wishing to undertake a study of Seidr in as authentic and traditional a manner as possible. Runic John has done a great service to both Seidr and heathen reconstructionism with this book. I’m looking forward to the forthcoming Book of Advanced Seidr.


Review: Fang and Fur, Blood and Bone, by Lupa

By Psyche | November 1, 2006 | 1 comment

Fang and Fur, Blood and Bone: A Primal Guide to Animal Magic, by Lupa
Immanion Press, 1905713010, 224 pp. (incl. appendices, bibliography and index), 2006

Cultural appropriation is rampant in totemic work, as Lupa acknowledges, but notes that “[i]n any field of study there will always be those who are neophobic and believe that anyone who deviates from specific patterns is not only disrespecting but also diluting the effectiveness and “truth” of said field”. She writes “totemism is something that is essentially universal” (pg 39), arguing that she has practiced totemism for years with no formal background or tradition, and, as she says, “can still boast a decent success rate” (pg 40). As Lupa comes from a neo-Pagan background, this book tends to focus on a neo-Pagan approach to the subject.

There are a number of sections that won’t appeal to everyone, for example, the sections on sacrifice and working with animal parts didn’t agree well with me, a vegetarian. Though some of the material may be controversial, Lupa strives to present it in a palatable fashion, and certainly those interested will likely find benefit from their inclusion, especially as these subjects are often skirted in neo-Paganism. Clearly, Fang and Fur Blood and Bone does not intend to be merely yet another book on animal magick.

One of the more personally appealing ritual ideas described in the book is the creation of an animal, essentially inspired servitors of made up of composite animal parts, with specific details of a creature Lupa created in the past. Lupa details another ritual she employed in order to obtain a familiar. We learn its name and feeding habits, but not how it came into her life, nor how she’s worked with it. While it’s a shame that practical applications are left vague, the section advocating responsible familiar care is certainly commendable. Lupa leaves moral decisions to the reader, though, naturally, she does offer suggestions on how certain situations should be approached.

Lupa also touches upon therianthropy, a state where a person believes s/he is an animal in spirit (at the very least), and shape-shifting. She notes differences between therion and non-therion shifting – a distinction not often made, but interesting to see, given the rise in popularity of ‘Otherkin’-identification over the past decade or so.

Appendices are referenced early and constantly throughout the text, which made me wonder whether or not the material really ought to have been tacked on at the end, or if the structure of the text could have used reworking to incorporate them earlier on.

Throughout the text, Lupa employs a relaxed, conversational tone, however with numerous typographical errors the rough edges show and details are not always fleshed out; it perhaps could have benefited from further editing.

This book provides a number of ideas not commonly found in the average book on animal magick or totemic work, and anyone interested in this area of magickal exploration would do well to pick it up.


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