The Quest for the Shaman


Author: Miranda and Stephan Aldhouse-Green
Publisher: Thames and Hudson
Published: 2005
ISBN-13: 978-0-500-05134-4

Synopsis: An informative and readable exploration of shamanism and ritual behavior in ancient Europe.

Review: What can I say about this book? The name itself bothers me, now-a-days shamanism/shaman has turned into a buzz word for a lot of people, and in this book it is used to mean people all over Europe (from prehistory into history) who fulfill the role of seers, priests, and ritualists…Why couldn’t she say that instead of using the word “Shaman”?

Leaving that pet peeve behind here is another one, Miranda Green loves to make leaps of logic that make you go HUH?..but in this book she goes beyond that…WAY beyond that…You will see lots of “it is assumed, one can infer, this seems to suggest” and in almost every case I can give you an alternative explanation.

The writing style is different than her usual tone so I’m assuming it is her husband’s influence and surprisingly I liked that, it is one of its redeeming points. Another one is her survey of the archeological evidence. She catalogs quite a bit and mixes in some mythology and a dash of known history. I would have loved this book if she has stuck with that and not done her leaps of logic, or even kept it to the levels I am used to from her. Oh well, I’m going to file this one under “look at the survey and ignore all the assumptions made” category.

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4 thoughts on “The Quest for the Shaman

  1. Nellie says:

    I remember thinking she was making big leaps from the evidence to some of her conclusions in this book too. I’m pleased to hear that people that are better read than myself have thought the same! I disliked how she used the same evidence she has used in her other books but to draw different conclusions for the sake of this book, without presenting her other published ideas as alternatives… but maybe that is just me being picky?

    • celticscholar says:

      No, you are not being picky. I thought the same thing myself and I’m not the only one. A lot of my friends (who are much better read than I) thought so too.

  2. Dafydd says:

    I’ve seen some evidence of this in some of her other books. For instance she mentions there was shamanism in Celtic Britain, claiming the discovery of an antler headress as evidence. She also mentions the image of the antler wearing figure on the Gundestrup Cauldron as evidence to support this. Later on she contradicts herself by claiming the antler wearing figure is the Celtic god Cernunnos, and not a shaman. I suppose the problem is with the evidence, which is open to interpretation because it is so vague at times. Still, I wish she could be a bit more consistent – but otherwise her books are a good read.

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