Portals of Power: Shamanism in South America

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University of New Mexico Press, 1992 - Religion - 350 pages
Shamans and their practices have fascinated Western civilization since publication of the earliest ethnographies. Yet, alien to a positivistic worldview and characterized by hysteria, ecstasy, and magic, shamanism has continued to be classified as vestigial or archaic long after such labels have become meaningless. Lately, a fresh approach has emerged that rejects arbitrary definition in favor of symbolic analysis and native interpretation. Portals of Power explores this new perspective. Researchers from South America, Europe, and the United States examine shamanism in twelve South American societies. In considering such aspects as visionary experience, native conceptions of power, ritual efficacy, expressive culture, and response to change, contributors to this volume present shamanism as an enduring cultural form, rather than an archaic religion. This is a work that transcends debates about "true" shamanism, to present a global view of shamanism as a dynamic aspect of culture.

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