Cave and Cosmos by Michael Harner
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Cave and Cosmos

Shamanic Encounters with Another Reality
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A leading authority in shamanism shares collected accounts of modern-day journeying plus guiding techniques in this sequel to his 1980 seminal classic.

In 1980, anthropologist/shaman Harner published The Way of the Shaman, raising awareness of shamanic practice in the West. In this sequel, Harner, now in his 80s, notes that he has chosen to spend his limited time to share information that he feels is “really important, even urgent, to pass on to a fractious and perilous world willing to quarrel interminably about spiritual matters on the basis of belief in old stories.” In demonstrating the value of shamanic journeying, Harner draws on almost 5,000 reports of such journeys by present-day Westerners (Americans, Canadians, and some Europeans) collected over the last quarter-century through a project sponsored by his Foundation for Shamanic Studies. The narratives largely focus on ascents to the Upper World, in which animal guides and mystical and/or historical spiritual teachers figure, as does a sense of “cosmic union,” after which one can choose “to undertake the classic healing work of the shaman to help those who are suffering or in pain.” Descriptions of descents to the Lower World are also included, with visitors reporting positive experiences of meeting guides and crossing beautiful terrains. (In shamanism cosmology, the Lower World is not a punishing hell but simply another spiritual dimension.) “Possibly the closest thing to hell,” says Harner, “is in our own world, the Middle World.” In the appendices, the book outlines how to navigate one’s own journeys, including tapping into ascent/descent portals (including rainbows and caves, respectively) and training resources. Harner’s rich compendium gives many ways to consider and explore a powerful and inspiring view of the cosmos. His recommendation to develop one’s own spiritual authority rather than depend on “the cosmological dogmas of organized religion” may resonate with readers, and the diversity of accounts allows for inclusion of traditional religious figures (St. Francis, the Virgin Mary, etc.). While the amount of detail is at times overwhelming, this work offers a welcome message of universal healing.

Resonant testimonies and practical techniques on gaining profound spiritual insight.

Pub Date: April 9th, 2013
ISBN: 978-1-58394-546-9
Page count: 312pp
Publisher: North Atlantic Books
Program: Kirkus Indie
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 2016


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