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Few figures in the Western imagination are as haunting and mysterious as that of the shaman. From the Inuit of Greenland to the Amerindian forest dwellers of Brazil, and from Siberia to the bison-hunting Lakota people of America's Great Plains, shamans have been inextricably associated with omens and rune-telling, healing, trance-like possession, and psychosomatic magic. The shaman has been cast as village witch-doctor, sorcerer and necromancer: the all-knowing, all-seeing spirit guide acting as mediator between the worlds of the living and the dead. Psychologists, psychedelics and Beat writers like Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs have at different times all embraced shamanism as a route to an altered state of consciousness: as well as for what it represents as an idealised, ancient nature spirituality, with its roots deep in the earth. Yet as this provocative and original book shows, there is no such thing as 'shamanism' in the sense that most Westerners have understood or currently understand it. The term itself (which derives from a native Siberian, Tungus word) was invented, romanticised and developed by explorers, anthropologists, botanists and others for the chief purpose of retrieving a noble spirituality they felt they had lost. Charlotte E Hardman offers a comprehensive history of the ways in which 'shamanism' has inspired Westerners from the 17th century to the present. She shows how, in the pick-and mix modern era (when so-called 'neo-shamanic' ideas have coloured popular culture via rave, Five Rhythms dance, and New Age religion), it seems that everyone can now be a 'shaman'.