I am an avid reader. My favorite places to roam beyond this Rabbits Run Road natural landscape are in garden stores and bookstores. For those of us who can read, we are privileged to be literate. I encourage people to read books that illuminate, bring beauty and clarity into their lives.
I especially encourage those of us with children in our lives to help keep lively their connection to the other realms. Most of us doing shamanism are seeking to recover what once we knew as children. Hopefully our children won't have to work so hard at recovering because we will be assisting them and honoring their experiences of the lively world around them...and some of this can be done through reading to and with them.
Like Rabbit, beneath the candle, I was a child who sneaked a flashlight under my blanket and read late into the wee dark hours. And like Rabbit, I peered curiously into every book I could read, and found myself transported into incredible realms, remarkable adventures, heart throbbing sagas, and to this day, I fall asleep, book in hand.
Like Rabbit, books get my ears pointed straight up, my nose twitching, my eyes large and curious, and in the moment of holding the book, Rabbit and book become one beneath candlelight....a feast declared.
Of course I do have another very active life in the world yet when I reflect on the marvelous pleasures I have enjoyed, given to us, through so many ages in human history, from so many writers, I offer Spirit a prayer of deep, deep thanks. Prayerful thanks for all the joy, sweat, tears and hours that these writers spent engaging vision with mind, heart with illumination; then pen with paper, hands to typewriter, and now the computer. Finally, perhaps years later, these creations reach us. Ah, the treasured arrival of a book!
Those of us in shamanism speak of the "experiential nature" of shamanism and advertise our workshops accordingly. Recently I learned, while teaching an advanced shamanic workshop, that some people didn't consider books to provide experiential learning. I was astonished.
In my workshops, I give recommended book lists. Reading a book is like taking a journey: it is a partnership. I enter the realm of the writer's creation and then seek to discover "are there Spirits here; is this a realm, a landscape where I find allies, where the Web vibrates, radiates, entrances, and takes me into ecstatic experiences."
Then there are those who would give more status to the oral tradition over the written word. Sometimes comparisons are helpful and just as frequently they can be misleading. Comparisons tempt us to think we have to choose between this and that rather than realizing we can have both!!! I remember the stories my Uncle told me in Winter seasons; I remember how he valued the writings that I read to him....writings from authors whose words excited me during my college and graduate school years. The delight between these two forms of sharing was palpable. I could not 'get enough of his stories'; he could not get enough of listening to me reading. We were transported together.
So I venture forth and share with you my first 'listing' of books I consider valuable for deepening and broadening our shamanic activities, conceptual understandings, and visioning. I will add to this once a month just as I am doing monthly articles in the pebble called: Visionary Reflections. I'll periodically search my bookshelves or listen to see what 'book' is calling to be listed. I am one of those very fortunate ordinary people, here in my cottage on Rabbits Run, in which I am surrounded by lovely artifacts, my altar, large windows to the land and gardens and many shelves of books and this is a place in the world where I am truly contented and happy. So I share my joy with you.
A cautionary note as you read my list of books: A quote of advice:
"In literature as in love, we are astonished at what is chosen by others. "
André Maurois (1885-1967)
A Selective Listing of Books:
I have been selective in my listing, remembering the old Italian proverb that "there's no thief like a bad book." I am focusing on those books which fall easily within the sphere of "ShamanicVisions" yet it is important for me to share with you that in my own continuing quest for spiritual edification, I read books of poetry, mythology, and surrender my eyes and heart to books containing shamanic art..
I also study books in which major religions, or spiritual philosophies are explored (e.g. Old and New Testament, Koran, I Ching, Rudolf Steiner's writings). I find that at the core of all religious, all spiritual practices, Spirit is manifested. I am always seeking to touch that "core" and allow it to touch me. Thus, I am listing a few authors who would not be found in a classical bibliography focused on shamanism. These are writers whose revelations and visions continue to have a major influence in my spiritual practice. I think it is very important to broaden our understanding of the nature and history of shamanism through all its evolutionary cycles. To locate shamanism within the history of human evolution as is true of all spiritual and religious practices.
For example, in some shamanic Circles, it has become fashionable to say that shamanism is not a religion; it is a system of practice. Teachers who makes this case say that this is what makes shamanism distinct from religion. I consider myself a student of religion and spirituality and to me, all religious experience is a matter of experiential revelation and applying teachings received through revelation. The formal umbrella (Christianity, Islam, Judaism, or Shamanism) is simply that: a way to hold and bound some understanding of the revelations..
Unfortunately we've used the umbrella to keep out any further blessings from the Heavens and to create a shadow between us and Earth. It is the derived "organizational-political" forms, presumably based on these revelations, which create our difficulties. In this respect, those who follow shamanism and derived practices share the same difficulties as do other religious communities.
We see both in ancient and contemporary shamanic communities, organizational and political forms which obscure the essence of the Way, and which sometimes seem to require "allegiance" to a shamanic teacher, create status hierarchies, and, in the marketplace, present competing claims for who or which shamanic teacher-organization is best!
Our language and cultural habits tend to fracture and separate us as though Spirit, God, the Divine, or the Source competes for our attention through various forms. This is not my understanding nor my experience as I have known the way of Lakota, and Christian, Chinese, and Hebrew paths. At some point in my life, all of these paths have been rivers I have traveled. Now I walk the path of shamanism because I have found it is more inclusive of the Whole and acknowledges that our planet, other constellations and galaxies, are all manifestations of the Divine and all Beings require our respect, compassion, and attentive hearts.
Thus My BookList will include books (from various paths) which have provided nourishment and wisdom for me and may for others who are walking the Way.
I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library. (Jorge Luis Borges)
Rabbit says: "Let's see the list; hand me the books!!"
Carol: from my "paradise of books" here are ones that grace my heart and life beneath the candle, under the reading light of Rabbits Run.....
"Well, Rabbit, one final word, then hop along to the list and my ranking of 'read oh so ever soon' to 'read when there's time to just meander through a day.'
Final word: There is a plethora of books on shamanism and related topics available on the market and I have read countless numbers of them. I am listing only those books which I have found valuable both for my practice and my conceptual understanding of Shamanism. Books that are with me still. I am not listing the many other books which I've read, found interesting, and perhaps even still keep to read periodically.
I am confident that all the books listed here can excite, intrigue, and assist us in understanding the meaning of shamanism. I have included books both for the novice and the more experienced practitioners of shamanism.. I am not giving a summary of each book. That might be fun to do had I the time. Hopefully, any author who sees this page and notes my ranking will realize this is simply a list of books Carol likes
I am listing these recommendations under fiction and nonfiction. Since shamanism is derived from actual experiences within communities and cultures, I have found some of the most intriguing and delightful books to be novels (including mysteries) which have a shamanic focus.
Please note: if you have certain books you think belong here, write me.
If I haven't read the book, I will. And I will add it to this bibliography if it seems appropriate. Certainly, I will respond to you. And this list will obviously change from time to time, both from what others recommend to me and because I am an avid reader!
Key to my marking
****Superb for teaching about shamanism specifically.
** Very good, if you are an avid reader and wish to explore writings which reflect the shaman's heart.
Fools Crow, Wisdom and Power
Thomas E. Mails,
Council Oaks Books, Tulsa , Oklahoma 1991******
Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy
Princeton, Bollingen, Second Printing, 1974 ****
California Indian Shamanism
Ballena Press, Menlo Park, Ca. 1992****
Giving Voice to Bear
Norht American Indian Myths, Rituals, & Images of the Bear
Roberts Rinehart, Niwot, CO, 1991****
Drumming at the Edge of Magic
Harper Collins, San Francisco, CA, 1990****
The Way of the Shaman
Harper Collins, NY, 3rd Ed., 1990****
Soul Retrieval: Mending the Fragmented Self
Harper, San Francisco, 1991 ****
Mysteries of the Dream-Time
Prism Press, England, 1989***
Shamanic Voices: A Survey of Visionary Narratives
Joan Halifax, ,
E.P. Dutton, NY, 1979 ***
Letters to a Young Poet
Rainer Maria Rilke, Trans. Herter
Norton, 1963, Norton Co. , New York.***
Of Water and the Spirit:
Ritual, Magic and initiation in the Live of an African Shaman
Malidoma Patrice Somé,
Penguin-Arkana, New York, 1994 ***
(Voyages of the Soul,
Trance, Ecstasy, and Healing from Siberia to the Amazon)
Little, Brown and Company, NY, 1995***
(The Shared World
Sacrafice, Ritual, amd Myth
Animal Souls amd Symbols)
Nicholas J. Saunders
Little, Brown and Company, NY, 1995***
(Shamanism and the Bardic Mysteries in Britain & Ireland)
The Aquarian Press, London, 1991**
The Little Flowers of St. Francis
Raphael, T Brown,
Image Books, Garden City, New York**
Shaman's Path: Healing, Personal Growth and Empowerment
Shambhala, 1988 **
The Elements of Shamanism
Element, Rockport, Mass., 1993 **
Eckhart, Johann Meister (1260-1327).
German mystic. Read any of his books; he was a preacher and spiritual guide in religious communities, accused of unorthodox views and his theories were condemned by the Pope).**
Where the Spirits Ride the Wind:
Trance Journeys and other Ecstatic Experiences
Felicitas D Goodman,
Indiana University Press, 1990 **
Point of View, a Report to History
(Kierkegaard was my first and still beloved teacher/writer about discerning the work of Spirit (God) in our daily lives, our sufferings, our joys and the nature of disciplined spirituality. His writings may not appeal to those of you wanting strictly conscious 'shamanic focus' but he was a shaman just as we think of Jesus, Moses, Buddha, etc. as shamans).**
Purity of Heart
Soren Kierkegaard,written 1847,
Erdmans Publishing Co. , 1955***
The Present Age
(A Practical Guide to Contemporary Shamanism)
Earth Quest Books, England, 1991**
The Beautiful and the Dangerous
Barbara Tedlock, (Encounters with the Zuni Indians),
Viking Penguin Books, 1992**
The Spirit of Shamanism
Roger N Walsh,
Jeremy P. Tarcher/Perigee, 1990 **
(Might be helpful for those wishing to explore the relationship between shamanism and pschology)
Messengers of God
Random House, NY 1976**
An Unspoken Hunger
Terry Tempest Williams, (stories from the field),
Pantheon Books, New York **
Welcome Home: Following Your Soul's Journey Home
Harper, San Francisco, 1993**
The Shaman's Doorway: Opening Imagination to Power and Myth
Station Hill Press, Barrington, NY, 1988 **
Fiction: Novels, Prehistoric Sagas, Shamanic Mysteries
- "With a novelist, like a surgeon,
you have to get a feeling that you've fallen into good hands
--someone from whom you can accept the anesthetic with confidence."
I invite you to try various of these books; you will soon know if you have "fallen into good hands" for you, at the very time of reading the book. If you've fallen into good hands, how delicious!! If you not ready for these hands, "recycle your book"...others may find those are good hands for them.
The Golden Compass
Alfred Knopf, In., NY 1995****
A Fall to Grace
Moontree Publishing Co.Santa Fe, New Mexico, 1997 ****
(see Sandra Ingerman's page at BearDreams)
When Coyote Howls
Robert Franklin Gish,A Lavaland Fable,
University of New Mexico Press, 1994.***
The Grass Dancer
G. P. Putnam's Sons, NY, 1994***
Guardians of the Tall Stone
Moyra, S. Caldecott,
Celestial Arts, Berkeley, CA, 1986**
In Search of the Drum
Muse Publications, Jan. 1993***
McClellan & Stewart Inc., Toronto, 1976
(an account of a healing relationship with Bear)***
The Horse Whisperer
Delacorte Press, NY 1995***
Back in the Beforetime
(Tales of the California Indians)
Retold by Jane Louise Curry; illustrated by James Watts,
Margaret K. McElderry Books, NY, 1987**
Mario Vargas Llosa (translated by Helen Lane)
Penguin Books, NY, 1990**
Wigwam Evenings (Sioux Folk Tales Retold)
Charles Eastman, Elaine Goodale Eastman,
University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, Nebraska, 1990**
Childsong, Monksong (a spiritual journey)
St. Martin's Press, NY, 1994**
Shaman's Mysteries Series:
There are some wonderful shamanic mystery stories being written and some series already existing. Most people know about Tony Hillerman's books on the Navajo. I thoroughly enjoy his books. However, I've come to appreciate even more those books where the daily life of the people is embedded within the mystery and where it's clear how shamanism functions in determining how to deal with death, broken taboos, and restoring harmony to the community. I am going to rank these in order of how terrific are the stories, the writing, and the teachings about shamanism within that culture.
The Bone is Pointed, (1948 )
Scribner Crime Classics, Collier Books, NY, 1987********
Arthur Upfield has written about 20 Inspector Napoloeon Bonaparte mysteries. Everyone one of them is excellent. They are written within and from Australia and Inspector Bonaparte is half-caste with deep roots in his aborigine ways and in the European's view of things...so he bridges both worlds. The descriptions of various Aborigine shamanic problem-solving methods are marvelous.
The Shaman Sings
Avon Books, NY, 1994****
also by James Doss, The Shaman Laughs (these are wonderful stories from the Utes in Colorado)
The Dark Place
Warner Communications, Popular Library, 1978***
Aaron Elkins, whose protagonist is Gideon Oliver (a forensic bone specialist) has written a series of mysteries set at various archaeological sites and involve learning something of the 'ancient peoples' who once lived there.
Dell Publishing, NY, 1996.***
Forge Book, NY, 1995**
By Evil Means
Sandra West Prowell,
Bantam Books, NY 1993**
The Mysterious Press, NY., 1996**
Many of these authors continue to write books in their series. The whole exploration of what happened in prehistoric times is quite intriguing and most of these books have very specific themes that involve the evolution of shamanic awareness, growing attention to the Powers that guide the People, the Humans, in learning how to live on this Planet.
People of the Sea
W. Michael Gear & Kathleen O'Neal Gear
Tom Doherty Assoc. NY., 1993
(one of a series)***
Clan of the Cave Bear
Jean M. Auel
Bantam Books, NY 1982
(first in a series)***
The Valley of the Horses
Jean M. Auel
Bantam Books, NY 1982***
The Last Mammoth
Penguin Books, NY, 1994**
(0ne 0f a series)
Keeper of the Stone
Penguin Books, NY, 1994**
(0ne 0f a series)
She Who Remembers
Linda Kay Shuler
Penguin Books, NY, 1989**
Copyright, Carol Proudfoot-Edgar, June 1997
This page was posted on June 20, 1997
revised February 2000