It is a rare treat to have a book in your hands that offers tales and folklore from countries that, in truth, I barely knew existed. We have all heard of  the War in Chechnya (sadly) and I adore Armenian medieval music, to the point of dreaming of going there! Other than that I could not have named or found the following countries on world map: Ingushetia, Daghestan or North Ossetia. Could you?! Hint: they are situated between The Black Sea and the Caspian Sea in an otherworldly liminal zone that forms a natural border between Europe and Asia.

This book tells ancient tales and describes folklore and customs from this area. The author is actively looking for evidence of shamanic practices – and he finds many indication that indigenous forms of shamanism were indeed practiced here. As a shamanic teacher I always love hearing about the cosmology and spiritual practices of tribal peoples. These countries sit on the mountainous “spine” that divides Europe from Asia and because of their strategic position they have seen more than their fair share of upheaval and ideological persecution. This means that ancient tribal practices go strong in inaccessible regions but also that there are many overlays of other religions and influences (from Zen Buddhism and Sufi Mysticism to Communism trying to impose atheism).

I love the wealth of detail Berman shares in this book. This is information I would simply not have had access to had he not written the book. The book is based on his own travels and a lot of research. I also like the way he frames the stories by actually understanding shamanism “from the inside out” so to speak. (I looked at his author page and he himself trained in core shamanism). This is relatively rare: I have read many books about tribal peoples, cave art and folklore where the author ultimately did not understand the “otherworld dimension” of the material they were presenting. That can make for frustrating reading, to see fundamental concepts misrepresented or ignored.

This book is a gem! The only negative, in my opinion is that Berman tends to repeat chunks of information he has already presented. Some chunks or passages appear three times in the book. The explanations of shamanic cosmology are lengthy too and pretty exhaustive (he quotes Mircea Eliade extensively). Then again, as a shamanic teacher I am very familiar with this material – but most readers will not be. They may well welcome those elaborate explanations!

If you are shamanic practitioner, story teller, explorer, mythology lover or keen collector of folklore and wonderful tales – this is the book for you!

This author has written many other books on related subjects. I have just started “Shamanic Journeys Through Daghestan”. Keep an eye out for my next book review!

Imelda Almqvist

About the author:
Imelda Almqvist’s book Natural Born Shamans: A Spiritual Toolkit For Life (Using shamanism creatively with young people of all ages) was published by Moon Books on 26th August 2016.  She is based in London,UK and teaches shamanism and sacred art internationally.

www.shaman-healer-painter.co.uk

https://imeldaalmqvist.wordpress.com/

http://shamanismsummit.com/

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