Provides a clear and accessible guide to the many different North Asian shamanic traditions, past and present.
What is shamanism? Where is it from? How does one become a shaman? What are the requirements to become one? Anthropologists tell us that the word shaman derives from the Tungus language and traditions, but few people understand the full scope of what that means. In his groundbreaking book, Spirit Voices, David Shi answers all these questions and more.
Drawing upon his own ancestral traditions, Shi explores the history and practice of shamanism. He guides readers through what may be the unfamiliar landscapes of North Asia—the place where shamanism was born—as well as the largely hidden and unfamiliar traditions of Turkic, Mongolic, and Tungus shamanism, exploring the subtle and unique aspects of each tradition. Shi provides a clear and accessible guide that explores the many different North Asian shamanic traditions.
So, what exactly is shamanism? David Shi suggests that the most accurate definition derives from shamanologist Nicholas Breeze Wood, who writes, “A shaman is someone chosen by the spirits [typically at or before birth] and who can go into a controlled and repeatable deliberate trance state, during which they A) experience ‘spirit flight,’ where they go to the spirit worlds and meet spirits, who they either fight with, negotiate with, or trick, in order to create change in this physical world, or B) are often taken over/possessed by the spirits (normally ancestral shaman spirits, or local land spirits) while in this physical world—the spirits using the shaman’s voice and body to heal, or give advice to members of the shaman’s community. Without the spirits and their blessing, a shaman cannot exist or function. Without the trance state, it is not shamanism.”
Featuring history, firsthand experiential reports, mythology, and folklore, Spirit Voices explores the spirits, spirituality, tools, and practices of true shamanism, past and present. Shi also provides practical information for those readers seeking to implement shamanic practices, including those that are appropriate to noninitiates and outsiders to the culture. As the author points out, “the purpose of shamanism can be summed up in two words: coexistence and balance—coexistence with our spirits and our communities, and the balance that must be preserved between all of us and within ourselves.”
About the Author
David J. Shi is a shamanic worker and folk magic practitioner who engages in traditional North Asian forms of shamanism. David’s practices are deeply rooted in spirit work in which ancestral and land spirits are called to empower all workings. He has appeared at conferences and festivals throughout the United States and is always aiming to introduce westerners to eastern spiritualities and helping fellow Asian Americans connect to their spiritual roots. Follow him on Instagram @davidjshi311.
“David Shi, a leading shamanic practitioner, has written a comprehensive exploratory book on hearing the ancestral call, spirit flight, and trance states for communion with the divine. Shi demonstrates incisive knowledge and a deep understanding of North Asian shamanic traditions. A long-awaited and important resource on the subject, Spirit Voices is a masterfully written, engrossing read.” —Benebell Wen, author of The Tao of Craft and I Ching, The Oracle
“David Shi is a blessing, sharing his knowledge and rich resources on North Asian shamanism. Speaking as a Korean shaman, David is able to share the meanings of our traditional practices, revealing the power and magic of our beliefs on connecting with ancestral spirits and land spirits, and the calling of spirits. He includes the deep symbolism within the practices of shamanism, providing access to those looking to understand the roots of our shamanism, connecting us deeper to our spirits.” —Jennifer Kim,teaching artist, practicing mudang, and consultant on Muism, Korea’s ancient and enduring indigenous religion
“Spirit Voices is a very valuable addition to the study and understanding of authentic shamanism for today’s reader. David Shi provides a powerful glimpse into the rich and fascinating world of traditional shamanism in a book of exceptional importance. The author’s breadth of knowledge and experience shine out brightly in this accessible book. Shi provides an invaluable and clearly written overview of a complex topic, bringing exceptional insight to a subject often shrouded in mystery. This is a most valuable read for anyone seeking to understand more about these ancient traditions.” —Nicholas Breeze Wood,editor of Sacred Hoop Magazine
“From blood to scholarship, David Shi is aligned with making sure spiritual traditions remain both intact and accessible for the North Asian diaspora. An important book and voice for Asian Americans and those interested in a strong perspective of North Asian traditions.” —Chaweon Koo,author of Spell Bound: A New Witch’s Guide to Crafting the Future
“This excellent book is of vital importance to the West. It touches upon some crucial concepts of shamanism from traditional Central Asian practices, which are often overlooked within Western spirituality. David Shi’s Spirit Voices has been well researched by his speaking and working with, as well as befriending, traditional shamans, and having indispensable first-hand experience of these unbroken traditions. It provides the reader with great insight into the true beliefs of authentic, traditional shamanism. A must-have for anyone’s collection.” —Aminaa Batmunkh, traditional Mongol shaman, Mother Tree Shamanism
“An invaluable voice on the modern spiritual landscape, David Shi has authored a work that is deeply informative and powerful, handed to the seeker with great wisdom as well as great kindness. His curiosity about the spirit world and its history along with his generosity in sharing his own wisdom is unparalleled. No matter the seeker’s faith or background, they will find crucial pieces in Spirit Voices to aid their own spiritual journey. Shi’s work should be a must-read for anyone on the magickal or spiritual path.” —Courtney Weber, author of Hekate: Goddess of Witches
“The word ‘shaman’ is of North Asian origin, and yet, so many people associate it with an assortment of spiritual and cultural practices that have roots in other places. While the hunger for grounded and earth-honoring spirituality is strong and urgent, there is a dearth of culturally specific and accessible knowledge available in English on the topic of North Asian indigenous spirituality. David Shi’s contribution to bridging this gap is presented with humility, clarity, and respect, offering a picture of the similarities and differences found throughout the shamanic traditions of North Asia. I particularly recommend Spirit Voices for those with ancestral ties to this part of the world.” —Laura Perlin, ritualist and student of Sakha (Yakut) traditions
“David Shi’s Spirit Voices is a comprehensive survey of Northern Asiatic shamanism, a topic broad in both scope and depth. Delivered in a concise and comprehensible style, Spirit Voices skillfully leads the reader to a more complete and deeper understanding of shamanism. . . . Spirit Voices is a strong addition to the library for any serious student of shamanism.” —Ron Teeples, Pathfinder Counseling and Communications
“David Shi’s Spirit Voices contributes a new exploration of shamanism, from its cosmological framework to its smallest implements. The book is clear, very interesting, historical, and suffused throughout with the author’s veneration of his ancestors. It is a wonderful introduction to a complex and misunderstood, yet fascinating and important, subject.” —Pamela Kyle Crossley, author of Orphan Warriors and A Translucent Mirror