In the Shadow of the Shaman: Connecting with Self, Nature, & Spirit by Amber Wolfe Silver Chalice E-zine ~ Book Review
In the Shadow of the Shaman doesn't sound like a Wiccan book, on the surface. In fact, it sounds suspiciously like yet another White Woman's exploitation of Native American spirituality.
Yet that's too quick a judgement.
Although Wolfe's book does echo Native American shamanism, the focus is on shamanism in general rather than one tradition in particular.
That is exactly what makes this such a useful book for Wiccans.
Wicca is a shamanistic -- or mystic -- religion. The purpose and practice of Wicca is to come into alignment with the natural world. This includes learning to journey in the Inner Realms.
To this end, In the Shadow of the Shaman offers valuable training and perspectives.
For instance, Wolfe describes how to divine by Casting The Stones, which I haven't found in any other Wiccan texts.
In the Shadow of the Shaman has so many important tools, and goes into such depth on each, that it is one of my most used Wiccan resources.
In fact, I personally found this book to be so incredibly useful, my copy is literally stuffed with page markers, written notes, and a very thorough homemade index.
Thorough and Detailed Charts
Part of what is so valuable about In the Shadow of the Shaman are the many charts Wolfe has compiled, bridging many traditions that Wiccans might use. Among the almost two dozen charts in the appendix are . . .
Minerals and the elements they relate to,
Animals and the elements they relate to,
Plants and the elements they relate to,
Chart of trees and their meanings,
The meaning and symbols of the colours of light rays,
Sacred symbols (spiritual, Wiccan, zodiacal),
Celtic Rune meanings,
Wheel of the Year and the animals, plants, etc that relate to each Sabbat,
Chakras, and the animals, minerals, etc that relate to each.
(These are also excellent resources if you're looking for your Wiccan name)
It also has a great annotated bibliography, to help you pursue the studies that interest you most.
The downside to In the Shadow of the Shaman is that it is difficult to find things. The table of contents is sparse, to put it mildly, and it completely lacks an index. Plus, because of the organization of the book, I can never find anything when I'm looking for it.
Still, the information and tools were so useful, it was worth it to me to write out my own index, which solves this problem.
(It doesn't even have blank pages at the end on which you can write your own index - a shocking oversight, to my mind. So I was forced to print one out on my computer. Which did, I must say, make this index more legible than most of the ones I jot down in the back pages of a book.)
The other difficulty, and admittedly it's minor, is that Wolfe uses a different lexicon than most Witches. In other words, what In the Shadow of the Shaman calls Shamanic Dreams we would probably call Trance Journeys. Similarly, she uses Totems for Guides or Helpers, and of course Shaman instead of Witch or Wiccan. This can be a little confusing, even off-putting.
But then she makes up for it by providing such helpful instructions for learning to clear energies, see auras, etc.
All in all, this book is a vital part of my Wiccan library, and I can recommend it highly.
Excerpts from In the Shadow of the Shaman: Connecting with Self, Nature, & Spirit
The path of the shaman is the path of the Self in deepest connection to Nature.
The shaman stands centered in balance at the core of all energies and all worlds. The relationship that the shaman has to these worlds is the most sacred communion with Nature. It is a most personal connection.
We seek once again to journey to the other worlds of Nature—and of our selves.
We are mapmakers charting our own path.
In the Shadow of the Shaman is a map of many levels. All worlds are blended, separated, explored, and blended again. All the worlds are shown here with the clarity and the chaos that mark the path of the shaman.
The world of the shaman is constantly moving. Everything in the shaman's world has its own special vibration, unique energy and power. The quest of the shaman is to achieve attunement with these vibrations and familiarity with Spirit.
To accomplish this is to attain power.
Still, the shaman knows that this cannot be pursued, only received. Power is a gift. That is the first wisdom of shamanism.
-- In the Shadow of the Shaman: Connecting with Self, Nature,, & Spirit, p. xi - xiii.
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