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The Shamanic Odyssey

The Shamanic Odyssey

Homer, Tolkien, and the Visionary Experience

Foreword by: John Perkins / with: Susana Bustos
Reveals the striking parallels between indigenous cultures of the Americas and the ancient Homeric world as well as Tolkien’s Middle Earth

• Explores the shamanic use of healing songs, psychoactive plants, and vision quests at the heart of the Odyssey and the fantasy works of J. R. R. Tolkien

• Examines Odysseus’s encounters with plant divinities, altered consciousness, animal shapeshifting, and sacred topography--all concepts vital to shamanism

• Reveals how the Odyssey emerged precisely at the rupture between modern and primal consciousness

Indigenous, shamanic ways of healing and prophecy are not foreign to the West. The native way of viewing the world--that is, understanding our cosmos as living, sentient, and interconnected--can be found hidden throughout Western literature, beginning with the very origin of the European literary tradition: Homer’s Odyssey.

Weaving together the narrative traditions of the ancient Greeks and Celts, the mythopoetic work of J. R. R. Tolkien, and the voices of plant medicine healers in North and South America, the authors explore the use of healing songs, psychoactive plants, and vision quests at the heart of the Odyssey, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and Tolkien’s final novella, Smith of Wootton Major. The authors examine Odysseus’s encounters with plant divinities, altered consciousness, animal shapeshifting, and sacred topography--all concepts vital to shamanism. They show the deep affinities between the healing powers of ancient bardic song and the icaros of the shamans of the Amazon rain forest, how Odysseus’s battle with Circe--wielder of narcotic plants and Mistress of Animals--follows the traditional method of negotiating with a plant ally, and how Odysseus’s journey to the land of the dead signifies the universal practice of the vision quest, a key part of shamanic initiation.

Emerging precisely at the rupture between modern and primal consciousness, Homer’s work represents a window into the lost native mind of the Western world. In this way, the Odyssey as well as Tolkien’s work can be seen as an awakening and healing song to return us to our native minds and bring our disconnected souls back into harmony with the living cosmos.
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  • Park Street Press | 
  • 224 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781594773969 | 
  • November 2012
List Price $16.95
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Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER SIX

ANIMAL BECOMING

THE INTENSIFIED TRAJECTORY OF CONSCIOUSNESS

If the archaeological record is to be believed, the oldest game in town, after procreation, is animal transformation. Following the delicious mammoth bone figurines of the Paleolithic Venuses, whose generous, open vulvas and swollen breasts bespeak fecundity and nourishment, the oldest surviving images of prehistoric Europe are representations of animal becoming. The earliest yet found, a portable statuette of a human body and feline head from a cave in Hohlenstein-Stadel, Germany, dates to 32,000 BCE.

These mysterious traces of... see more

About the Author

Robert Tindall

Robert Tindall is a writer, classical guitarist, and inveterate traveler who has lived in England, Argentina, Peru, and Mexico. His work explores themes of pilgrimage and the crossing of frontiers into other cultures and states of consciousness. With his wife, Susana, he leads groups into the Amazon rain forest to encounter the indigenous healing traditions there. In addition to The Jaguar that Roams the Mind, he is the author of The Battle of the Soul in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. He lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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