The understanding of shamanism in its variety of forms and manifestations has become vital in our understanding of the origins and development of ideological systems of the human family. Though not a religion, shamanism is the first formalization of the human quest for meaning, understanding and participation in the mysteries of the cosmic drama. It is a global phenomenon; cultural specific practices and beliefs reflecting and embodying universal "truths."
This book is a collection of the papers presented at the 6th Conference of the International Society for Shamanistic Research held at the Viljandi Kultuurikolledz, Viljandi, Estonia in August of 2001. It represents the contemporary work of international scholarship in its attempt to understand the complexities of shamanism, both ancient and surviving. Increasingly the study of shamanism is interdisciplinary. These papers and articles offer, as well, an example of the mix of disciplines presently coming to bear on the study of shamanism.