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Shamanism/Indigenous Peoples
Record Type: Review   ID: 277

The Shaman’s Doorway: Opening Imagination to Power and Myth (2nd ed.)

Larsen, Stephen

 In the first edition of this introduction to the meaning of shamanism for those on the modern spiritual journey, Larsen recalls he wrote the shaman was one who dedicated him or herself to the visionary experience. Twelve years later, he adds that shamans are also dedicated to "the revelation and sharing of the experience" (p. ix). So I learned 38 years after I had had an NDE— when I finally shared it with others. It was then that I discovered that the act of bearing witness to your experiences carries you deeper into the process and it makes it more possible to communicate with others. Sharing it, I would say, is part of the process. Larsen, a psychotherapist, notes that the aim of this book is to serve "as a simple instructions manual for owning and operating a mythic imagination in the present time" (p. 8). In response to our times, he writes: "the flower of our radically transforming consciousness, if it is to survive, must retain and renew its connections with the ancient root system within" (p. 8). He provides a capsule history of the shamanic calling. There are four chapters, each concerned with specific patterns or themes regarding ‘technology of the sacred’" (p. 13). The first is on "The Mythic Imagination," and deals, among other things, with "mythic identity in possession and schizophrenia and the shaman’s calling." The second is on ways of sharing visionary experience, especially important being the development of "enactive rituals" that enable the vision to be acted out and shared. Chapter 3 is about orthodox shamanic practices, such as yoga, and Christian rituals and myths as well as the role of the secular scientist. Larsen believes they all are similar. The fourth chapter is entitled Myths of Relationship and Integration, and it deals with emerging myths of renewal. He feels that Dialogue seems to play an important role in this process whether it be involved with our self-integration or our relation to others—even the planet. He observes: "The ultimate dialogue must be between consciousness ... and those patterns to which consciousness has proven most susceptible: the archetypes that underlie the shapeshifting bright world of myth" (p. 15).
Publisher Information:Barrytown, NY: Station Hill Press, 1988. 258p. Bibl: 245-254; Chap. notes: 235-244; 17 figs; 9 illus; Index: 255-258
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