Shamanism: A Selected Annotated Bibliography*

Compiled by Anna L. DeMiller

Colorado State University Libraries


Shaman: Journal of the International Society for Shamanistic Research, Vol.1, no. 1 (1993)- . Szeged, Hungary: Molnar & Kelemen Oriental Publishers.

The journal publishes original articles in English on shamanism and neighboring fields as well as reviews of current books, brief accounts of work in progress and announcments of coming events. See the Web page at: for information about the society and a link to the journal contents and abstracts.

Shamanic Applications Review: A Journal of Religious Resources in Psychotherapy, Vol. 1, no. 1 (1995)- . Niles, MI: Foundation for Religious Resources in Psychotherapy.

“SAR is dedicated to the interface of psychotherapy and psychological studies with shamanic studies and practice, spiritual development, and other religious dimensions of living.”

Shaman’s Drum: A Journal of Experiential Shamanism and Spiritual Healing, No. 1 (1985)- . Williams, OR: Cross-Cultural Shamanism Network.

The journal publishes original field research, cross-cultural comparative studies, and personal experience articles on all aspects of shamanism, spiritual healing, and ecstatic religion. In addition there are critical reviews of books and other media about shamanism or closely related subjects.

Reference Works

Lyon, William S. 1996. Encyclopedia of Native American Healing. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO.

(See annotation below.)

Lyon, William S. 1998. Encyclopedia of Native American Shamanism: Sacred Ceremonies of North America. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO.

In the preface Lyon states that this encyclopedia is a continuaton of his Encyclopedia of Native American Healing (see above entry ) which focused “on medicine powers used for healing, the main task of shamans.” Here the focus is “on all the other various ways in which medicine powers are manifested.” These two works are “designed to complement each other and form a very thorough coverage of Native American shamanism in North America.” Each encyclopedia contains maps for fifteen culture areas, a bibliography which gathers the references cited in the alphabetically arranged entries, and a thorough index. There are numerous black and white illustrations throughout.

Osterreich, Shelley Anne, comp. 1998. Native North American Shamanism: An Annotated Bibliography. Bibliographies and Indexes in American History, Number 38. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.

Substantive and informative annotations accompany the entries for books, articles, series contributions, miscellaneous papers, and special collections. The bibliography is not meant to be exhaustive, rather a representative sample of the published material on native North American shamanism.


Backman, Louise and Ake Hultkrantz. 1978. Studies in Lapp Shamanism. Acta Universitatis Stockholmiensis. Stockholm Studies in Comparative Religion, 16. Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell International.

The author bases this work “on the early sources of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries when shamanism was still a functioning part of Lapp religion and culture.”

Balzer, Marjorie Mandelstam, ed. 1990. Shamanism: Soviet Studies of Traditional Religion in Siberia and Central Asia. Armonk, NY, M. E. Sharpe.

The editor presents here in translation the work of four Soviet scholars of shamanism who “begin from the Marxist-Leninist premise that shamanism (like all religion) is obsolete. But they also concede that traditional shamans improved poetry, entertainment, psychotherapy, and occasionally even cures and genuine leadership for their communities.”

Bibliotheca Shamanistica. Budapest: Akademiai Kiado.

A series of books published by the International Society for Shamanistic Research on the advances in the studies of shamanism.

Vol. 1: Kim, Tae-gon and Mihaly Hoppal, eds. 1995. Shamanism in Performing Arts.

Vol. 2: Dioszegi, Vilmos and Mihaly Hoppal, eds. 1996. Shamanism in Siberia.

Vol. 3: Dioszegi, Vilmos, ed. 1996. Folk Beliefs and Shamanistic Traditions in Siberia.

Vol. 4: Musi, Carla Corradi. 1997. Shamanism from East to West.

Vol. 5: Kister, Daniel A. 1997. Korean Shamanist Ritual: Symbols and Dramas of Transformation.

Vol. 6: Hoppal, Mihaly, ed. 1998. Shamanism: Selected Writings of Vilmos Dioszegi.

Vol. 7: Hogarth, Hyun-key Kim. 1998. Kut: Happiness through Reciprocity.

Vol. 8: Yamada, Takako. 1999. An Anthropology of Animism and Shamanism.

Black Elk, Nicholas. 2000. Black Elk Speaks: Being the Life Story of a Holy Man of the Oglala Sioux. As told through John G. Neihardt (Flaming Rainbow). 21st century ed. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.

Originally published in 1932, this work has been reprinted a number of times. The narrative is based on meetings Neihardt had with Nicholas Black Elk, a holy man belonging to the Oglala division of the Teton Dakota, a branch of the Sioux, on the Pine Ridge Reservation in 1930 and 1931. Concentrating on the visionary aspects of Black Elk’s shamanism, it records for posterity the life, the history, and the religious mysteries of the Oglala Sioux.

Black Elk, Nicholas. 1953. The Sacred Pipe: Black Elk’s Account of the Seven Rites of the Oglala Sioux. Recorded and edited by Joseph Epes Brown. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press.

The 1932 account of Nicholas Black Elk by Neihardt in Black Elk Speaks inspired Brown to seek an interview with Black Elk in 1947. Brown’s account describes the seven rites of the Oglala religion as detailed by Black Elk who practices these rites through his life with his people.

Black Elk, Wallace H. and William S. Lyon. 1990. Black Elk: the Sacred Ways of a Lakota. New York: Harper & Row.

From conversations with Wallace Black Elk (grand-nephew of Nicholas Black Elk) beginning in 1978, Lyon pieces together a series of anecdotes that tell what it means to be a Lakota shaman. The first part of the book covers Black Elk’s early training and his “initiatory call”; the second half centers on Black Elk’s “applications of the sacred mystery powers.” The book appeals to undergraduates and a general audience.

Czaplicka, Marie Antoinette. 1914. Aboriginal Siberia: A Study in Social Anthropology. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Part III of this classic anthropological study focuses on shamanism in Siberia. There are sixteeen black and white plates as well as two folded maps of the region. The twenty-page bibliography includes numerous works in Russian as well as German, French, and English.

Dioszegi, Vilmos. 1968. Tracing Shamans in Siberia. The Story of an Ethnographical Research Expedition. Translated from the Hungarian by Aita Rajkay Babo. Oosterhout, The Netherlands: Anthropological Publications.

An account by Dioszegi, a noted Hungarian scholar of Siberian shamanism, of his quest to Siberia in the fall of 1957 and summer of 1958 to find the “ancient oldsters” who had at one time practised shamanism. The book has some drawings as well as black and white photographs taken by the author during the expedition.

Drury, Nevill. 1996. Shamanism. The Element Library. Shaftesbury, Dorset: Element.

“The Element Library is a collection of beautifully illustrated titles on world traditions and beliefs. Each book is a comprehensive introduction to the subject, written by a renowned authority in the field, and richly illustrated with colour images and photographs.” This is a wonderful introduction and authoritatively written guide to shamanism.

Eliade, Mircea. 1964. Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstacy. Translated from the French by Willard R. Trask. (Revised and enlarged from the original French edition, Le Charmanisme et les techniques archaiques de l’extase, 1951). New York: Bollingen Foundation.

This renowned work by Eliade is considered by many scholars to be the cornerstone for the study of shamanism and as such is frequently cited by other writers in the field. As Eliade states in the book’s foreword, his approach to the subject is “as a comparatist and a historian of religions.”

Flaherty, Gloria. 1992. Shamanism and the Eighteenth Century. Princeton, N.J.; Princeton University Press.

Flaherty documents the European encounter with shamanism based on early travel accounts and ethnographic writings, then deals with its assimilation into the European intellectual and artistic mainstream. The book contains a number of black and white illustrations and has an extensive bibliography.

Halifax, Joan. 1979. Shamanic Voices: A Survey of Visionary Narratives. New York: Dutton.

The first chapter of Halifax’s book is a concise introduction to shamanism covering such phenomena as the crisis journey, the wilderness solitude, the quest for vision, and the spirit flight. Following it are 36 narratives told through the voices of shamans from around the world from Siberia, Africa, Australia, North and South America, to Borneo.

Halifax, Joan. 1982. Shaman, the Wounded Healer. New York: Crossroad.

“…images and symbols of the spiritual journey are explored in word and picture, color and form.”

Halifax, Joan. 1993. The Fruitful Darkness: Reconnecting with the Body of the Earth. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco.

The author’s personal experiences are the main source for the text. As she says in the preface, it is “the story of the journey that took me through an encounter between the body of Buddhist practice and the body of tribal wisdom, especially shamanism….The book is also about the practice of ecology, an ecology of mind and spirit in relation to the Earth, an ecology that sees initiation as a way of reconciling self and other, an ecology that confirms the yield of the darkness, the fruit of suffering, an ecology of compassion.”

Harner, Michael J., ed. 1973. Hallucinogens and Shamanism. New York: Oxford University Press.

Some ten accounts by anthropologists of their first-hand field research on hallucinogenic substances so important in shamanism and religious experience.

Harner, Michael J. 1990. The Way of the Shaman. 3rd ed. San Francisco: Harper & Row.

This classic on shamanism originally published in 1980 now has a new introduction and a guide to current resources. It is not an anthropological study, rather a book written by a practicing shaman for laymen. Harner is a noted anthropologist whose research on South American Indians and the use of hallucinogens in religious experience has attracted a wide readership.

Heinze, Ruth-Inge, ed. 1984- . Proceedings of the…International Conference on the Study of Shamanism and Alternate Modes of Healing. Berkeley, CA: Independent Scholars of Asia.

The first of these annual conferences, all held at the Santa Sabina Center in San Rafael, California and coordinated by Heinze, has the shorter title of Proceedings of the International Conference on Shamanism. Contributors to the various proceedings include not only anthropologists and ethnologists, but educators, historians of religion, philosophers, psychologists, and others.

Heinze, Ruth-Inge. 1991. Shamans of the 20th Century. With contributions by Charlotte Berney, Etzel Cardena, Chungmoo Choi, Sarah Dubin-Vaughn, Stanley Krippner, and Alok Saklani. New York: Irvington.

Heinze is the coordinator for the annual international conference on the study of shamanism. In the foreword Stanley Krippner, himself a professor of psychology and director of the Center of Consciousness Studies at Saybrook Institute in San Francisco, says this book gives the reader “the opportunity to partake of Dr. Heinze’s studies of shamans, their models of reality, their inner journeys, and the services they perform for their communities. Western, industrialized societies have made great advances in technology but have paid a heavy price in losing their contact with the sacred dimension of life and their concern for their environment.” There are twenty intimate black and white photographs of shamans involved in various activities.

Hoppal, Mihaly and Otto von Sadovszky, eds. 1989. Shamanism: Past and Present. International Society for Trans-Oceanic Research, Parts 1-2. Budapest: Ethnographic Institute, Hungarian Academy of Sciences.

These two volumes contain papers from the symposia on “Shamanism: Past and Present” at the International Congress of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences held in Zagreb, Yugoslavia, July 24-31, 1988. The conference was unique in bringing together scholars representing peoples in whose culture shamanism is still in practice. The papers range from highly theoretical to simple descriptive studies. Some are historical in nature, others deal with the present.

Hutton, Ronald. 2001. Shamans: Siberian Spirituality and the Western Imagination. London: Hambledon and London.

Using published sources, including a large quantity of primary materials, Hutton re-examines the literature with a critical eye in order to propose a new synthesis of it and to examine “ways in which the shamans of Siberia have been viewed by western scholars and some of the limitations and difficulties of their traditonal synthetic approaches to the subject. Although the subject-matter is largely Siberian, it is in essence intended as a contribution to the history of European and American culture.”

Kalweit, Holger. 1988. Dreamtime & Inner Space: the World of the Shaman. Translated from the German by Werner Wunsche. Boston: Shambhala.

This is “an account of the forms of initiation and the psychic process that makes a person a shaman.” The author gives an “account of the practices and experiences of many different types of tribal healers and shamans from the most diverse regions of the world….”

Kalweit, Holger. 1992. Shamans, Healers, and Medicine Men. Translated from the German by Michael H. Kohn. Boston: Shambhala.

Kalweit, a German ethnologist and psychologist who studied shamanism in Hawaii, the American Southwest, Mexico, and Tibet, explores in this work the primal healing methods of shamans all over the world. He “shows that for these extraordinary men and women, healing is not merely the alleviation of symptoms but entails a transformation of one’s relationship to life.” It contains a number of black and white photographs of shamans.

Michael, Henry N., ed. Studies in Siberian Shamanism. Anthropology of the North: Translations from Russian Sources, No. 4. Toronto: Published for the Arctic Institute of North America by University of Toronto Press.

The five articles in this collection, translated and edited by Michael, all contain material important to the practice of shamanism in Russia during the late 1920’s and in the 1930’s. The authors all did field work among the peoples they describe which include the Ob Ugrians, Evenks, and Enets.

Narby, Jeremy and Francis Huxley, eds. 2001. Shamans through Time: 500 Years on the Path to Knowledge. New York: J.P. Tarcher/Putnam.

Containing excerpts from works published in 1535 to 2000, this book takes the reader on a fascinating “journey through time in which you will find eyewitness reports of shamans by priests, explorers, adventurers, natural historians, and political dissidents.” This chronological arrangment of material allows the reader to see the development of the field. The editors translated many of the early texts as well as some later ones.

Nicholson, Shirley, comp. 1987. Shamanism: An Expanded View of Reality. Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Pub. House.

Nicholson has gathered together in this work some twenty contributions by such well-known authors in the field as Eliade, Harner, Hoppal, and Halifax. The papers, in the words of the compiler, cover the field of shamanic practice and belief “in as comprehensive a manner as has ever been presented to the general public.”

Plotkin, Mark J. 1993. Tales of a Shaman’s Apprentice: An Ethnobotanist Searches for New Medicines in the Amazon Rain Forest. New York: Viking.

In Tales Plotkin, educated at Harvard, Yale, and Tufts, relates nine engaging stories centering around his travels and studies with Amazonian shamans in a search for medicinal plants. Plotkin takes the reader along on this quest in which he participates in healing rituals.

Price, Neil S., ed. 2001. The Archaeology of Shamanism. London and New York: Routledge.

In this collection the editor brings together recent works which study shamanism in the Northern hemisphere through its material remains. It is well-illustrated with drawings, maps, and photos.

Ripinsky-Naxon, Michael. 1993. The Nature of Shamanism: Substance and Function of a Religious Metaphor. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.

As the author states in his introduction, this is an attempt to provide “an integrated examination of the substantive aspect of shamanism as a phenomenology of religious experience and of its cultural function as a metaphor in myth, religion, art, and language.” The text is liberally illustrated.

Rogers, Spencer L. 1982. The Shaman, His Symbols and His Healing Power. Springfield, IL: Charles C. Thomas.

Rogers work on the “Shaman” could well have been titled “Healers” as it concentrates “on the arts and magic of self-appointed practitioners of healing from essentially all countries of the Third World.” The study is based on a large number of sources, both primary and secondary, which are listed in a fourteen-page bibliography.

Siikala, Anna-Leena. 1978. The Rite Technique of the Siberian Shaman. FF Communications, No. 220. Helsinki: Suomalainen tiedeakatemia.

According to the author, this work is a “continuation of the Finnish research tradition concentrating on shamanism and its related phenomena….was inspired by the desire to examine, within the framework of shamanism, the models provided by various primitive cultures to resolve crises threatening the life of the individual and the community.”

Siikala, Anna-Leena and Mihaly Hoppal. 1998. Studies on Shamanism. Ethnologica Uralica, 2. Helsinki: Finnish Anthropological Society.

A selection of some sixteen previously published studies and articles on Siberian shamanism by these two authors are reprinted in this volume. Seen together they provide an overview of current research and problems for Eurasian shamanism.

Thorpe, S. A. 1993. Shamans, Medicine Men and Traditional Healers: A Comparative Study of Shamanism in Siberian Asia, Southern Africa and North America. Pretoria: University of South Africa.

This work is directed to undergraduates. The study of shamanism in southern Africa is limited to the Zulu and the Shona-speaking people and in North America to the Dakota Sioux and the Navajo.

Vitebsky, Piers. 1995. The Shaman. 1st American ed. Living Wisdom. Boston: Little, Brown.

As a volume in the Living Wisdom series, this is an illustrated reference guide. It explores the themes of visions, initiation rites, shamanic chants, shamanism and mental health, the shamanic use of plants, and the political and social background to the shaman’s work, from the Stone Age to post-Communist Russia….at the core of the book are key questions about the mysterious realities that fall outside the rationalist, scientific tradition.” It includes numerous color photographs of modern shamanism in practice around the world, records of shamanic art, and a wealth of other historic images. It is an excellent introduction to the subject.

Walker, Deward E., ed. 1989. Witchcraft and Sorcery of the American Native Peoples. Moscow, Idaho: University of Idaho Press.

In this collection the editor presents fifteen studies by various anthropologists from groups in North, Middle, and South America, including such cultures as the Eskimo, Aztec, Mapuche, and Caribbean Afro-American groups.

* The annotations are largely drawn from introductory materials, reviews, and other reference sources.