An Encyclopedia of World Beliefs, Practices, and Culture
by Mariko Namba Walter and Eva Jane Neumann Fridman, Editors
December 2004, 1055pp, 7x10
2 volumes, ABC-CLIO

Hardcover: 978-1-57607-645-3
$107, £83, 94€, A147
eBook Available: 978-1-57607-646-0
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

Shamanism has its origins in early human history and is as ubiquitous as the human desire to penetrate the mysteries of the supernatural. For millennia shamans have traveled into the realm of the spirits, hunting lost souls, healing the sick, interpreting dreams, and providing guidance in human endeavors on behalf of individuals and communities. In the wake of a rapidly transforming world, new forms of shamanism are developing and thriving.

A guide to worldwide shamanism and shamanistic practices, emphasizing historical and current cultural adaptations.

This two-volume reference is the first international survey of shamanistic beliefs from prehistory to the present day. In nearly 200 detailed, readable entries, leading ethnographers, psychologists, archaeologists, historians, and scholars of religion and folk literature explain the general principles of shamanism as well as the details of widely varied practices.

What is it like to be a shaman? Entries describe, region by region, the traits, such as sicknesses and dreams, that mark a person as a shaman, as well as the training undertaken by initiates. They detail the costumes, music, rituals, artifacts, and drugs that shamans use to achieve altered states of consciousness, communicate with spirits, travel in the spirit world, and retrieve souls. Unlike most Western books on shamanism, which focus narrowly on the individual’s experience of healing and trance, Shamanism also examines the function of shamanism in society from social, political, and historical perspectives and identifies the ancient, continuous thread that connects shamanistic beliefs and rituals across cultures and millennia.


  • Nearly 200 entries on shamanic belief systems, practices, rituals, and related phenomena
  • 152 contributors including international experts and pioneering researchers in the field
  • 100 photos, charts, and tables
  • Multicultural bibliography of significant materials from the fields of history, ethnography, and anthropology
Mariko Namba Walter is a visiting professor at Bucknell University, Lewisburg, PA, and teaches on shamanism and Asian religions.

Eva Jane Neumann Fridman is a practicing psychotherapist and anthropologist and teaches on shamanism at Brown University, Providence, RI.


"More than a reference tool, this is a useful compendium on a topic that has been fairly inaccessible, especially to nonscholars . . . Recommended for academic libraries and public libraries where there is interest in the topic."—Library Journal, January 1, 2005

"The quality of the resource is obvious . . . recommended highly for academic libraries."—American Reference Books Annual, March 1, 2005

"[A] fascinating and scholarly work . . . Academic libraries in institutions with religious curricula will want at least one copy. Larger public libraries will need this, too."—Booklist, April 15, 2005

"This is clearly, interestingly, and authoritatively written. Highly recommended."—Choice, July 1, 2005
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