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Shamanism/Indigenous Peoples
Record Type: Review   ID: 627

Shape Shifters: Shaman Women in Contemporary Society

Jamal, Michele

 In the Preface, the author, who is trained as an anthropologist, and is also a mystic and psychic, says she has collected women's oral histories from those she has called "shaman-women." She adds: "Within childhood play, in dreams, and in my womanhood, I've had experiences of the primal, of the numinous spirit of nature. As a creative woman in a computerized society I have sought to find a way to maintain the sacred in my own life and to find a context for the spirit in my work. Shape Shifters is an outcome of bridging my vision and work with that of many women who give the primal a voice" (p. xiii). "What I became aware of through the interviews is that each of the shaman women I met with is personally empowered through the process of intensive inner work. The women share the vision of healing our planet. They are working toward that vision by utilizing their creative gifts, their ability to heal, their personal magnetism, and their leadership" (p. xx). "Shapeshifter" is a synonym for shaman. She uses the term metaphorically in this book: "shapeshifters can alter their own consciousness, and can affect the shape of consciousness of those around them" (p. 3). She feels that physiologically women are especially prone to spiritual experience and growth. The book is in three parts. The first is an introductory overview of women and shamanism. The second consists of autobiographical accounts of 14 contemporary shaman women: Joan Halifax, Lynn Andrews, Luisah Teish, Tsultrim Allione, Rowena Pattee, Ruth-Inge Heinze, Larissa Vilenskaya, Petey Stevens, Vicki Noble, Starhawk, J. Ruth Strock, Sandy Ingerman, Susana Eger Valadez, and Brooke Medicine Eagle. All of these women have been associated with the study of exceptional human experiences. The third part is about the need for shamans and Jamal's personal vision of a shamanic community. A ritualized play is described in an appendix. Such plays can be enactments of a dream, a fantasy, or an archetypal theme. The one she presents is excerpted from her play The Mother is Burning. The book closes with a select bibliography.
Publisher Information:London, England: Arkana, 1987. 204p. Bibl: 200-204; 15 illus
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