Ancient Traditions: Shamanism in Central Asia and the by Gary Seaman, Jane S. Day

By Gary Seaman, Jane S. Day

Shamanism is the world's oldest faith. The rituals and ideology of this historical culture have been carried from Asia and Siberia into the recent global by way of nomadic searching bands starting 12,000 years in the past. This precise selection of essays on shamanism in vital Asia and the Indian Americas offers sound and interesting scholarship that displays the good variety during this attention-grabbing box. First released in 1994, "Ancient Traditions" has develop into an important, often stated reference within the ongoing learn of historic religions. Over the centuries, shamanism has persevered as an abiding subject of curiosity not just as a result of a human difficulty with the earlier but in addition as a result of a typical craving to recognize existence lived in nearer symbolic dating to the earth. For readers attracted to indigenous cultures and religions, this selection of essays clarifies a lot of the hot Age hypothesis on universals in shamanism, providing sturdy learn on particular ethnic and old expressions.

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Balick used two approachesone in which plants are collected at random, the other concentrating only on those plants for which the local shamans made therapeutic claims. The two collections were turned over to a cancer research center in Maryland, where extracts made from them were placed in test tubes containing human blood T cells infected with the AIDS virus. "Of the 20 plants collected on the shaman's advice, five killed the AIDS virus but spared the T cells," reports the Times. "But of 18 plant species gathered randomly, just one did so.

They know the signposts for dangers and how to overcome them, having apprehended all of this essential expertise through long and demanding training by master shamans and through the ordeals of their initiatory experience. They have learned how to become spirit: "Because of his ability to leave his body with impunity, the shaman can act in the manner of a spirit: he flies through the air, he becomes invisible, he perceives things at great distances sees the souls of the dead and can capture them, and is impervious to fire" (Eliade 1987:203).

That, indeed, is what has happened in some of those instancesand they are far too fewin which the pharmaceutical industry chose not to put aside, as it has done far too often in the past for reasons of Page 14 Page 14 economics, the testimony and experiences of Indian shamans. No one would assert that all herbal remedies prove to be as effective as they are claimed to be, butas Bernard Ortiz de Montellano, in his excellent book, Aztec Medicine, Health, and Nutrition (1990), has shown to be the case with herbal pharmacopoeias of the ancient Aztecsmany are.

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