Okay, first I need to get this out of my system--due to whatever little mis-wiring there is between my eyes and my brain, there were a number of times I looked at the title of this book and read it as "Exploding Shamanism", which would have been an interesting book indeed.
That being said, I just want to say that this is an excellent book!
Now, there are a ton of books on basic shamanism out there. Some of them are really good, and some are just kind of "eh". This is one of the former. It's a basic guide to shamanism, but it's one of the best books on neoshamanism I've seen.
First of all, the author doesn't try to pretend she's more-indigenous-than-thou. She's quite straightforward about where she's coming from and admits that she comes from primarily a postindustrial white background, though she has worked with shamans and teachers from numerous cultures. She also doesn't use the "Okay, I'm going to tell you a story, and you try to figure out where the important parts are" format that drives me NUTS in other books.
Instead, she takes the various techniques and experiences common to most shamanic practices and makes them relevant to our day and age. Not only does she draw on the indigenous and nonindigenous cultures she has learned from, but she also incorporates other areas of study such as psychology. In fact, she has the balance between microcosm and macrocosm down perfectly, IMO.
There are a number of exercises throughout the book, too, that are aimed to let the reader put what s/he reads into practice for hirself, which is an excellent addition. The material lends itself well to personal use in general, and can be used alone or in tandem with other magical/spiritual paths. This is not a book of dogma, but rather a useful guide.
It is primarily a 101 book, but the techniques in it may be used beyond basic practices. I'd highly recommend this to anyone interested in shamanism but not sure where to start or those who have been trying to learn but are tired of culturally-specific practices that are taken out of their original context.
~review by Lupa
Hillary S. Webb
New Page Books, August 2003
223 pp., $13.99