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Record Type: Review   ID: 18

The Body of Myth: Mythology, Shamanic Trance, and the Sacred Geography of the Body

Sansonese, J. Nigro

 The author writes in the Prologue that this book is about the gods of mythology. He says "the secret of myth is that you are hallowed ground. ... In you are science and religion both." He provides, in the Introduction, a history of the meaning of myth from ancient times to Joseph Campbell, who thought that ultimately, myths were about the self. The last half of the Introduction concentrates on Campbell, who he says thought that to live integratively with a state of bliss one must create one's own myth. One is to not only understand myth but to do so practically through what Sansonese calls "an esoteric yet universal teaching about the body and about life in the body" (p. 8). He attempts to show that the esoteric yet universal teaching is about shamanic trance, and he proposes that "the language of the body that will unravel myth is the language of trance" (p. 8). He notes that Patanjali's yoga sutras spell out the language and that myths "are guarded descriptions of the experience of trance" (p. 8). The theory is that consciousness is "noncontingent"-not dependent on anything outside the self-and yet it is essential to matter, and the last part of the book is on "the projection of myth into the basic paradigms of science" (p. 8). He views science as "ultimately a systematic description of the human organism. Myth ... is the key to unlocking that description. a grand synthesis of science, consciousness, and myth-by means of yoga-is the goal of this book" (p. 8). If I interpret him correctly, the self is the entire created world, but whereas he comes back to the body, which of course is the nexus where consciousness and cosmos meet, I come back to the self, which, as he says, is "noncontingent."
Publisher Information:Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions International, 1994. 369p. 39 figs; Index: 348-369; 147 refs
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