Secrets of Shamanism – Jose and Lena Stevens

Secrets of Shamanism: Tapping the Spirit Power Within You
Jose Stevens, Ph.D. and Lena S. Stevens
Avon Books, 1988 (newer edition available)
228 pages

This is not a book about how to be a shaman, despite the title. (The authors don’t claim it is, either.) What it is, is a book primarily made of psychological and holistic techniques that are inspired by the authors’ studies on shamanism. If you look at the book this way you’ll probably like it a lot better than if you’re critiquing it for not being a book about shamanism.

There are a lot of useful techniques in here, some of which I’ve used (or are similar to things I’ve done). Some of them I wasn’t so interested in, such as the “stretching time” exercise. However, there are some great pathworking exercises in here to help you A) identify and banish bad habits, and B) instill better habits. It’s a great workbook for self-improvement, and I can easily see ways to alter the exercises if you want less of a “shamanic” feel to them. The authors explain what it is that works about these exercises, so that you know the mechanics as well as the how-tos of them.

I did get annoyed now and then with the “shamanic” elements, like “medicine wheels” and such. There were also blatant generalizations, such as the “Native American Heyoka” which was presented as a figure to emulate for breaking bad habits. No tribe-specific cultural history was given as an explanation. Additionally, some of the fictitious stories the authors included to illustrate some of their points made some generalizations about indigenous people.

Still, overall, this book has a lot to offer, if you can overlook the mild appropriation and New Age generalization. The exercises are overwhelmingly solid and useful, and there are many good tools that modern shamans (and others) can use, with or without the shamanic trappings.

Four pawprints out of five.

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