The Book of Shamanic Healing – Kristin Madden – February BBBR

The Book of Shamanic Healing
Kristin Madden
Llewellyn, 2002
230 pages

I’m always happy when I get a Bargain Bin Book that gets a good review. I’m of the mind that just because a book isn’t bright, shiny and new, or even in print any more, that it isn’t necessarily worse than what’s currently enjoying fifteen minutes of shelf time at the local big box bookstore. The Book of Shamanic Healing, which first came out over half a decade ago, is definitely a great read, and shouldn’t be overlooked despite its age.

This is not a complete book on shamanism, and it’s neoshamanism (although the author was raised with traditional shamanism in her family, which does add to her perspective). What it is, is a wonderfully thorough guide specifically on what the title says–shamanic healing. If you don’t have a basic understanding of shamanism in general, you’d do well to set this book aside for the moment and read a few 101 books. Then, come back to this awesome text, and give it a go.

Madden does a wonderful job of covering a variety of techniques and tools that the shaman may use in healing patients. From energy work and crystals, to dreams and stories, and even a really good chapter on drumming as a healing tool, she offers the reader a wealth of information. Her first chapter brings us into the material by reminding us of the humbling concept that we ourselves have been and may still be wounded, and this vulnerability and experience may be one of the most valuable tools we have as healers. And she adds in a highly commendable chapter on healing through one’s own creativity.

What really sets this book apart from a lot of modern neoshamanic texts is its practicality and groundedness. You won’t get made-up “real live Indian!” teachers and gurus used to try to add validity to Madden’s teachings. Nor will you get a long ego-ridden ramble about just how great the author is. Rather, she offers her own experiences to punctuate what is a great text on the very practical, everyday considerations of having a healing practice. She reminds us of the importance of coming into a healing with a clear mind and a clear location, that not every healing will go perfectly, and she thinks of a lot of small details that might get overlooked otherwise. In short, it’s quite apparent that she’s done the work and been in the trenches herself.

She doesn’t really go into potential dangers of healing too much beyond protecting yourself from the illness you are extracting. Nor does she mention much about barriers and issues in things like soul retrieval where things may not go as planned. There’s very little about working with spirits, and considering some illnesses may be caused by malevolent beings, one would do well to not consider this quite a complete guide to shamanic healing. However, that being said, this is still a very valuable text for any shaman, especially those who may be working for those beyond their immediate family, to have on hir shelf. I know that when the time comes for me to start training as a healer, this will be an important book for me.

Four and a half pawprints out of five.

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