Wednesday 1 June 2016

Review: Hay House Basics - Shamanism

I'm rather a fan of the Hay House Basics series of books, which offer introductions to specific mind, body, spirit topics, written in a clear and easy to understand way. The latest is Hay House Basics - Shamanism: Awaken and Develop the Shamanic Force Within - and it is my favourite so far.

When I saw the front cover, which has a picture of a dreamcatcher on it, I thought that perhaps the book would concentrate on Native American spirituality. It doesn't. In fact it gives examples of shamanism from all over the world and makes a clear but non-judgemental distinction between traditional shamanism from ancient cultures and contemporary shamanic practices, explaining that the word "shamanism" is an umbrella term covering both.

Author Christa Mackinnon worked as a Jungian transpersonal psychologist before concentrating on shamanism and her approach particularly appealed to me because my own training in Wicca was with a witch who was also a Jungian transpersonal counsellor. As I read Hay House Basics - Shamanism, I was struck with the similarity between what I was taught of the way Wiccan ritual works and the way Christa describes shamanism.

Publisher Hay House describes the book as: "An introductory guide to shamanism - the oldest and most enduring spiritual wisdom tradition - and its powerful practices for healing and finding wholeness." My teacher also saw Wicca as being a spiritual path for healing and finding wholeness, with the learning and development necessary for the initiatory degrees offering a path to becoming a whole, integrated person.

Chapters in the book teach how to create a sacred space, build an altar, conduct ceremonies, connect with spirit helpers, undergo journeys for healing and personal development, connect with ancestors and descendants and use dance as a tool for awakening and freedom. It also describes more advanced techniques such as using sacred medicine plants and dreaming techniques (and no, it doesn't mention dreamcatchers even then).

Again, I was struck with the similarity of these things to witchcraft, although is a difference in emphasis. For example, shamanism doesn't generally use spells, but as a witch I do quite a bit of spellwork for things like healing. Journeying is an important part of shamanism, while witchy-style journeying tends to be more for things like astral travel and to connect with the ancestors. Nevertheless, all of the material in the book could very easily be combined with witchcraft practices.

I would say that if any trainee witch in future asks me to suggest a book as a good basic introduction to shamanism, I would recommend this one.

Shamanism: Awaken and Develop the Shamanic Force Within (Hay House Basics)can be ordered via Amazon. Author Christa Mackinnon is also the author of Shamanism and Spirituality in Therapeutic Practice: An Introduction.. Her website is:

Links and previous related posts
Shamanism: Awaken and Develop the Shamanic Force Within (Hay House Basics)


Nocturnal Bookworm Nikki said...

Sounds like an interesting book, I may have to check it out and some of their others as well.

Badwitch said...

Hope you like it!