Interest in Shamanic studies has grown exponentially since the publication of Michael Harner’s first book on the subject, The Way of the Shaman, back in 1980. In fact, you might argue that it was this ground-breaking best-seller that initiated the Worldwide growth of interest in the subject.
Since then, the cultural emphasis placed upon on shamanic research worldwide has shifted considerably.
Today, we are a lot more open to the idea of inner worlds of spirits. The drug counter-culture of the 1980s and 1990s has led to a generally more open acceptance of the use of Shamanic tools as a way to access the inner worlds. As a result, we have become more aware of specific hallucinogenic substances, such as Psilocybin (mushrooms), Peyote (cactus) and Ayauaska (tree ivy).
That is not to say that all Shamans advise the use of such drugs. Indeed, Michael Harner is not a strong advocate of these methods, preferring drumming as a way of inducing the mystical trance.
However, these drugs in particular have shifted the core focus of Shamanic work away from the Native North American and Western esoteric traditions and increasingly toward the spiritual and cultural concepts of the South American tribes.
In Cave and Cosmos, Michael Harner’s current approach to contemporary Shamanic ideas and thoughts reflects this modern shift in focus.
‘Cave and Cosmos’ reflects a relatively recent lifting of the previously near-impenetrable societal walls, connecting the physical and spiritual realms. Since the publication of The Way of the Shaman, Harner has established The Foundation for Shamanic Studies and has actively promoting his work through workshops and lectures.
Cave and Cosmos is the result of many intervening years research. It is essentially a personalized account of the current state of Shamanic understanding. It is not a manual on how to become a shaman per se but is primarily centered around anecdotal accounts of Shamanic journeys and inner-world experiences.
It offers a quite different perspective on Shamanism from those early years when Harner trail-blazed the way for so many magicians of all creeds and colors to follow.
The accounts of inner-plane travel are fascinating. The similarities in accounts of the Foundation for Shamanic Studies students reveal the fact that the inner worlds do exist outside of the psycho-spiritual mindsets of their observers. This has been a concern for many esoteric researchers for many years.
Are the Inner Worlds connected or inter-laced and supportive a common level of consciousness? Or are they only imaginary illusions of their psychic observers?
The work required to answer these questions is massive. But what becomes increasingly clear through reading Michaels’ book is that he has begun to piece together some universal principles and practices for the Shamanic traveler. These form such a powerful and effective way for novice and experienced student alike.
Our Review of ‘Cave and Cosmos’ by Michael Harner
Cave and Cosmos is a truly remarkable testament to the pioneering work of one intrepid psychic explorer. It is a thoroughly engaging account that shifts from one area of Shamanic work to another with consummate ease.
Not all of the accounts of Shamanic journeying contained within this book will resonate with every reader. That’s fine. Such is the personalized and subjective approach that all Shamans have to take when approaching this type of work that this is bound to occur.
Nevertheless, to know and appreciate the guiding principles behind inner-world journeying is the more important aspect of Shamanic work and this book is a fine example of the map that lays before us.
If the subject of magick—in any of its diverse forms, fascinates you then this is certainly a book that will add to your occult studies. It reveals key elements regarding the nature of consciousness as well as providing insights into the sacred esoteric traditions of many Shamanic groups—traditions that we should all help to preserve before they are consigned to the mists of time. A highly-recommended read and an important contribution to our understanding of both ancient and contemporary spirituality.