Prof. Sidky's New Book Casts Fresh Light on Shamanism

Dr. Sidky holding his new book, The Origins of Shamanism, Spirit Beliefs, and ReligiosityWhat can shamanism tell us about what it means to be human?

That’s the central question of Dr. H Sidky’s new book, The Origins of Shamanism, Spirit Beliefs, and Religiosity: A Cognitive Anthropological Perspective.

Prof. Sidky combines his own first-hand ethnographic fieldwork among shamans in Nepal with current theory in archaeology, cognitive and evolutionary psychology, and neurotheology to explore the origins of shamanism, spirit beliefs, the evolution of human consciousness, and the origins of ritual behavior and religiosity.

Along the way, the book addresses such questions as:

  • What is shamanism as a pan-human phenomenon?
  • When and why did shamanism first arise?
  • What are the relationships between shamanism, human cognition, and altered states of consciousness?
  • Why have people across space and time needed shamans or specialists in spirits and ghosts?
  • Why have shamanistic traditions persisted over time?

“The Origins of Shamanism, Spirit Beliefs, and Religiosity is the most significant comprehensive presentation of shamanism as a worldwide spiritual practice since Mircea Eliade’s classic treatment over half a century ago,” said Carl A. P. Ruck, professor of Classics at Boston University. “It offers a valuable anthropomorphic perspective on the origins of religious consciousness and mankind’s attempt to interact with the numinous dimensions of reality.”