Review: The Hollow Bone: A Field Guide to Shamanism

The Hollow Bone: A Field Guide to Shamanism
by Colleen Deatsman
Paperback: 190 pages
Publisher: Weiser Books
ISBN-10: 1578634989
ISBN-13: 978-1578634989

Product Description

Shamanism is the oldest living path of spirituality and healing, dating back tens of thousands of years, yet many people don’t know what it is or are confused about the practice. In The Hollow Bone, shaman, teacher, and author Colleen Deatsman unveils the mysterious world of Shamanism as it is still practiced today all around the world.

Deatsman explains that shamanism is not a religion with a doctrine, dogma, or holy book. Rather, it is a spirituality rooted in the idea that all matter has consciousness and that accessing the spirit in all things is part of what keeps the world in balance and individuals healed and whole.

The Hollow Bone examines shamanism’s history, its core beliefs, and how it is practiced all around the world. It includes a glossary of terms, resources for finding and working with shamanic teachers, and over two dozen rare photographs and illustrations showing the magnificent range of shamanic tools, rituals, practitioners, and traditions.

This comprehensive introduction answers many frequently asked questions such as:
* What is shamanism?
* Where is it practiced?
* What are the beliefs and understandings inherent to shamanism?
* Who are the shamans?
* What do shamans do?
* Can anyone train to be a shaman?
* Where can I learn more?

My thoughts:

As usual, I thumbed through the book starting at the back. I was impressed with the credits, notes, and bibliography. There is a wealth of information packed into this diminutive 190 book. I enjoyed the pictures, although, figure 29 was to small for my 53 year-old eyes to see.

While I enjoyed much of what Deatsman had to say, I couldn’t help but feel that I was getting a sanitized, whitewashed version of Shamanism. It reads like a warm fluffy bunny. Maybe its just me, but I want the whole picture warts and all. I want to read about shamanistic drugs Ayahuasca and mushrooms. I wanted to read about animal and human sacrifices.

I couldn’t help but think of my nephew William and his thoughts about his culinary classes. At a certain point in the butchery, he opines, the animal becomes meat. Some people have a problem thinking about the process yet they desire the final product. Some of the “neo” people seem to fit in that same category. They like their final product but have a problem thinking about the messy history.

On page 51 Deatsman laments, “Due to […] genocide, colonization, and globalization, many traditional shamans have been killed, scattered, and forced to severely limit their shamanic activities or to practice them secretly. These radical changes resulted in a sudden loss of shamanic knowledge and practice.” Could we add whitewashing shamanic history to the list?

I like the idea of shamanism. I like Deatsman’s views of neo-shamanism, but I didn’t like the selective history. The book is good, parts are very good, but for me it falls short. I give it a 3 out of 5.


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Weiser Books. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


Next book on my list

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One thought on “Review: The Hollow Bone: A Field Guide to Shamanism

Add yours

  1. I’m glad you reviewed this one. I’ve been sorting through books on shamanism because it’s something I want to study and a path I think I’m destined for, but I never know where to begin the journey. Sounds like this is too out of focus for me. I think I will continue on.

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