The best shamanism books

4 authors have picked their favorite books about shamanism and why they recommend each book.

Soon, you will be able to filter by genre, age group, and more. Sign up here to follow our story as we build a better way to explore books.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy through links on our website, we may earn an affiliate commission (learn more).

The Shaman

By Piers Vitebsky,

Book cover of The Shaman: Voyages of the Soul - Trance, Ecstasy and Healing from Siberia to the Amazon

Because of its beautiful presentation of this complex topic, the stunning illustrations and the superb, world-class knowledge the author brings to an enigmatic subject, in which the ability of certain individuals to access the spirit world is discussed. The theatre in which the author performs is worldwide, and, although shamanism differs hugely from the Americas to Siberia, from India to southern Africa, and way beyond, he brilliantly presents a cohesive and totally enthralling picture of the essential ingredients of shamanism: shape-shifting, ‘soul-flight’, healing through contact with the spirits, are just some of the themes covered in this short volume. The book engages academics as a sound starting-point for the understanding of what a shaman is but its concise style and gorgeous colour images will engage anyone remotely interested in world religions.

Who am I?

I am an Emeritus Professor of Archaeology at Cardiff University. I have been writing books on later prehistoric and Romano-British and Roman provincial cults and customs since the 1980s, and my fascination with this subject remains undimmed. I have travelled all over the world as a visiting lecturer and in 2015 my book Bog Bodies Uncovered won two US Books of the Year awards. I have always been of the view that research is pointless unless it is shared and easily communicated, and so I try to avoid academic jargon and to present my publications both as accessible to general readers and as relevant to people at the cutting edge of their own research.

I wrote...

Sacred Britannia: The Gods and Rituals of Roman Britain

By Miranda Aldhouse-Green,

Book cover of Sacred Britannia: The Gods and Rituals of Roman Britain

What is my book about?

Two thousand years ago, the Romans sought to absorb into their empire what they regarded as a remote, almost mythical island on the very edge of the known world--Britain. The expeditions of Julius Caesar and the Claudian invasion of 43 AD, up to the traditional end of Roman Britain in the fifth century AD, brought fundamental and lasting changes to the island. Not least among these was a pantheon of new classical deities and religious systems, along with a clutch of exotic eastern cults, including Christianity. But what homegrown deities, cults, and cosmologies did the Romans encounter in Britain, and how did the British react to the changes? Under Roman rule, the old gods and their adherents were challenged, adopted, adapted, absorbed, and reconfigured.

Dreaming the Soul Back Home

By Robert Moss,

Book cover of Dreaming the Soul Back Home: Shamanic Dreaming for Healing and Becoming Whole

An expert in approaching your dream life with beautiful and imaginative consciousness, Robert Moss shows you how to use your dreams, both figurative and literal, as the backdrop for immense personal discovery and growth, and as a powerful tool in reclaiming yourself after trauma. 

Who am I?

Ora North is the author of I Don’t Want To Be An Empath Anymore: How to Reclaim Your Power Over Emotional Overload, Maintain Boundaries, and Live Your Best Life, and the upcoming book Mood Magick: Wellness Spells and Rituals to Find Balance in an Uncertain World. A seasoned spiritual teacher and healer, she helps people unpack their emotional trauma and work with it in a creative and regenerative way. 

I wrote...

I Don't Want to Be an Empath Anymore: How to Reclaim Your Power Over Emotional Overload, Maintain Boundaries, and Live Your Best Life

By Ora North,

Book cover of I Don't Want to Be an Empath Anymore: How to Reclaim Your Power Over Emotional Overload, Maintain Boundaries, and Live Your Best Life

What is my book about?

I Don't Want to Be an Empath Anymore is a gift for the jaded empath searching for authenticity in spirituality, and spirituality in being authentic--something beyond the clichéd, positive affirmations that seem to invalidate our anger, sadness, and pain. When we feel broken--and when real damage has been done, it's not always helpful to ignore our feelings and tell ourselves that we are perfect and whole.

In this refreshingly honest guide, shamanic practitioner Ora North offers practical exercises to help you navigate your intuition and empathic sensitivities, create much-needed boundaries, and build confidence. You'll also learn to balance your emotions and energy, and harness the strength of your shadow side to embrace your whole self and live your best life.

Skywatchers, Shamans & Kings

By E.C. Krupp,

Book cover of Skywatchers, Shamans & Kings: Astronomy and the Archaeology of Power

Monumental architecture was thought up as an explicit manifestation of religious power, and for this reason, it was in uncountable many cases connected with the sky. The key to understanding Archaeoastronomy is therefore to understand the connections between astronomy, power, religion, and architecture. This is exactly the aim of this inspiring book, written by an outstanding astronomer and archaeoastronomer. The author describes from this viewpoint many fascinating places - from Giza in Egypt to Palenque in Mexico - using a narrative that is richly enhanced by more than 150 photographs and illustrations.

Who am I?

I started my scientific career as an Astrophysicist. However, I have always been interested in Archaeology. This finally led me to conjugate the two passions when I started working in Archaeoastronomy, in 2003. Working in Archaeoastronomy first means having a direct experience of the sites (preferably, of every single stone, although in places like Giza they count in the millions…). So I have made fieldworks in Italy, Egypt, Cambodia, and, recently, on Chinese imperial necropolises. I currently teach Archaeoastronomy as a professor at the Politecnico of Milan. I have always been interested also in scientific communication on TV and social media, and my introductive Archaeoastronomy course is available for free on the Coursera platform.

I wrote...

Archaeoastronomy: Introduction to the Science of Stars and Stones

By Giulio Magli,

Book cover of Archaeoastronomy: Introduction to the Science of Stars and Stones

What is my book about?

This book provides the first complete, easy to read, up-to-date account of the fascinating discipline of archaeoastronomy, in which the relationship between ancient constructions and the sky is studied in order to gain a better understanding of the ideas of the architects of the past and of their religious and symbolic worlds.

The book is divided into three sections, the first of which explores the past relations between astronomy and people, power, the afterworld, architecture, and landscape. The fundamentals of archaeoastronomy are then addressed in detail, with coverage of the celestial coordinates; the apparent motion of the Sun, Moon, stars, and planets; observation of celestial bodies at the horizon; the use of astronomical software in archaeoastronomy; and current methods for making and analyzing measurements. The final section reviews what archaeoastronomy can now tell us about the nature and purpose of sites and structures. The book can be enjoyed in augmented reality through the use of a free app.

The Reindeer People

By Megan Lindholm,

Book cover of The Reindeer People

Evocative, believable, beautifully written. Dark Fantasy at its finest; Megan’s characters will resonate with anyone who feels a bit different, like they don’t fit in with everyone else. Megan explores all this can mean in her trilogy, the good, the bad, and the downright terrifying. Her world is richly written, you can smell the tangy woodfires, and feel the biting cold.

Who am I?

I’ve been a connoisseur of all things terrifying and fantastical since I was 5, and so scared of my Baba Yaga book downstairs I couldn’t sleep. I pursued the delicious fear of a well-written monster through my teens and into adulthood but found that so many books within the horror and fantasy genres are aimed at younger readers. So I wrote the books I wanted to read. I’d always planned to write, but it was developing extreme anxiety that inspired me to nurture my creative side and finally do it. I was having terrible nightmares at the time, and these awful dreams became the central scenes of my novels.

I wrote...

Darkly Dreaming: Book 1 of the Darkly Vampire Trilogy

By Chloe Hammond,

Book cover of Darkly Dreaming: Book 1 of the Darkly Vampire Trilogy

What is my book about?

Darkly Dreaming is for readers who savour rich characters and carefully crafted writing; it’s as much about friendship as it is about vampires. It’s been accused of giving people ‘the feels’. Rae and her best friend Layla have just moved back in together after their marriages ended. They’re busy being violently happy, pretending everything is fine. They stumble into a party infested with vampires.

Infected with the vampire virus, which mutates and distorts their DNA, Rae, and Layla struggle to come to terms with losing their humanity and their old lives, and coming to terms with their strange new gifts. They should be wary in a Pride rife with jealousies and ancient rivalries. They aren’t safe, but will they recognise the threats in time?


By Mircea Eliade,

Book cover of Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy

When I say to you ‘Religions of Asia’ you will automatically think of the usual suspects: Buddhism, Confucianism, Hinduism, and so on. Here is something different from Prof Eliade one of the great scholars of his generation. Shamanism is a major influence across the whole of the northern hemisphere from Canada through Siberia and into eastern and central Asia. The cover of the paperback has an Eskimo ceremonial mask. The shaman is medicine man, magician, miracle worker, priest, mystic and poet. We immediately think of the drum and the ecstatic body, but think also of eagle feathers, rattle, and robe of an animal. Shamanism is still practiced but has suffered from commercial exploitation and the general erosion of native cultures. As a religion of fire and ice, climate change may be its final blow.

Who am I?

As an undergraduate at the University of Leeds in the 1960s the principal influence on my life and thinking was Trevor Ling an Anglican Priest and Buddhist who eventually became a Professor of comparative religion at the University of Manchester. He was the start of my research on Islam and Asia and my peripatetic career having lived in Scotland, Germany, Holland, America, Australia and Singapore. I became a professor of the sociology of religion in the Asia Research Center at the National University of Singapore. I have published two books on Singapore, a handbook of religions in Asia, and several works on the body, medicine, ageing and human vulnerability.

I wrote...

The Body in Asia

By Bryan S. Turner (editor), Zheng Yangwen (editor),

Book cover of The Body in Asia

What is my book about?

This edited collection emerged from a conference on the body in Asia at the National University of Singapore in 2007. Some of my favourite chapters are on female dragons, fasting rituals in Java, Kokutai and the imperial body in Japan, and hook-swinging bodies in Kerala. The cover features ten beautiful round stones set in water. They have an erotic appeal, but they are after all only stones within a Buddhist imagination. They raise an obvious question that the book seeks to answer: what is a body? In the West we tend to think of religion as a collection of beliefs. In Asia we have to think of an assembly of beliefs and practices. Religion becomes embodied as a way of life.

The Viking Way

By Neil Price,

Book cover of The Viking Way: Magic and Mind in Late Iron Age Scandinavia

Although the lines that can be drawn between myth, religion, belief and magic are often fine, how we actually proceed from myths that were written down (mostly) in the thirteenth century to the world-view of the people of the Viking Age is not at all straightforward. In this enormously influential book, the archaeologist Neil Price reconstructs a compelling image of how the people of Scandinavia in the final centuries of the first millennium encountered the invisible world of gods, monsters, spirits and the currents of magic. Along the way the reader encounters shrieking Valkyries, deadly battle magic, sex rituals, shape-shifters and the influence of (and wider parallels with) the practices and pathways of circumpolar shamanism. Although written with great panache and a refreshingly accessible voice, this is an academic book and not for the faint hearted. But for those who want to enrich their understanding of Norse myth with a…

Who am I?

Dr. Thomas Williams is a bestselling writer, historian, and archaeologist. A Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London, he was a curator of the major international exhibition Vikings: Life and Legend at the British Museum in 2014 and earned his PhD at UCL’s Institute of Archaeology. He wrote Viking Britain and Viking London. 

I wrote...

Viking Britain

By Thomas Williams,

Book cover of Viking Britain

What is my book about?

In Viking Britain , Thomas Williams has drawn on his experience as project curator of the British Museum exhibition of Vikings: Life and Legend to show how the people we call Vikings came not just to raid and plunder, but to settle, to colonize, and to rule. The impact on these islands was profound and enduring, shaping British social, cultural, and political development for hundreds of years. Indeed, in language, literature, place names, and folklore, the presence of Scandinavian settlers can still be felt, and their memory - filtered and refashioned through the writings of people like J.R.R. Tolkien, William Morris, and G.K.Chesterton - has transformed the western imagination.

The Four Agreements

By Don Miguel Ruiz,

Book cover of The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom

Like every book on my list, I did a lot of underlining and scribbling in the margins when I read The Four Agreements. For me, there are fundamental truths in this small, simple book. “Find your voice to ask for what you want. Everybody has the right to tell you no or yes, but you always have the right to ask” (p. 72). “Humans punish themselves endlessly for not being what they believe they should be” (p. 19). “You are never responsible for the actions of others; you are only responsible for you” (p. 60). It can be challenging to “find your voice” as a woman, especially in recovery from addiction when guilt, shame, and relationship challenges can complicate things even further.  I found the insights in this book easy to grasp and to use.

Who am I?

I am a licensed marriage and family therapist and have been helping addicts thrive in recovery since 2009. My first book, The Mindfulness Workbook for Addiction, has sold over 70,000 copies and been published in several countries. Books can offer inspiration, comfort, support, and relief during recovery. In my writing, as in my work with clients, I hope to offer a path to greater fulfillment and joy after addiction.

I wrote...

The Gift of Recovery: 52 Mindful Ways to Live Joyfully Beyond Addiction

By Rebecca E. Williams, Julie S. Kraft,

Book cover of The Gift of Recovery: 52 Mindful Ways to Live Joyfully Beyond Addiction

What is my book about?

If you're recovering from addiction, The Gift of Recovery offers quick, in-the-moment tips and tricks to help you cope with daily stress and stay firmly on the path to wellness. With this gentle, easy-to-use guide, you’ll learn how to navigate relationships, take time for self-care, and build a mindful, sustainable, and joyful recovery.

Deciding to get help for addiction is the first step toward recovery. But addiction recovery doesn’t happen all at once—it’s something that must be worked for, every day. Sometimes, it will be easy. When things are going well, you may not be tempted to give in to your cravings. But when life is stressful, you’ll need strategies to help you cope.

Witch Hunt

By S.M. Reine,

Book cover of Witch Hunt: An Urban Fantasy Mystery

Who’s ever been blamed at work for something they didn’t do?  Well, the Office of Preternatural Affairs takes it to a whole new level when they suspect one of their agents, Cèsar Hawke, of murdering a woman. I mean, she was found dead in his home…but he claims he’s innocent. And he’s going to hunt down a shaman who can speak to the dead to prove it.

This wickedly fun story takes the urban fantasy detective trope and infuses it with humor, danger, and twists & turns.

Who am I?

I’m an avid fantasy reader and enjoy stories filled with magic, danger, and a mix of humor and romance thrown in. When I’m not writing my own fantasy novels, you might catch me tucked away in a corner, reading a book, and fueling my imagination. Since my own book, The Wayward Wizard, features a secret organization trying to intercept the supernatural, I knew similar stories would make a perfect list to share with fellow fantasy readers.

I wrote...

The Wayward Wizard

By Alesha Escobar,

Book cover of The Wayward Wizard

What is my book about?

Jack Crowley is the last person a secret government agency wants to call for help.

He spends his days selling New Age trinkets to humans and his nights drinking with a street-hustling alchemist. Not exactly the law and order type. But when monsters from our childhood nightmares become flesh and blood, snatching people from the streets, he’s one of the few wizards alive who can uncover who’s behind it.

True Hallucinations

By Terence McKenna,

Book cover of True Hallucinations: Being an Account of the Author's Extraordinary Adventures in the Devil's Paradise

More on the wacky side, and far more entertaining, is Terence McKenna’s True Hallucinations: Being an Account of the Author’s Extraordinary Adventures in the Devil’s Paradise. For those who will never try “heroic doses” of psilocybin mushrooms deep in the Colombian jungle, this is a wild, vicarious ride, an amalgam of science, literature, myth, and exotica from an adventurer whose genuine inquisitiveness in things psychedelic goes hand in hand with mythomania—what an exuberant explosion of literary and philosophical high kitsch! If not persuaded, there follows the endorsement from The New York Times: “The polysyllabic sentences he lards with intellectual references are an attempt to lend credibility to the otherwise debunked subject of drugs.” Yes, a hatchet job from The New York Times could not make for a more valuable endorsement.

Who am I?

I learned the Western Canon at school and from various teachers during my youth; all along, I was yearning for something other, different, and, possibly, truer. Since my early twenties I've been exploring another canon, which exists in opposition to the Aristotelian-Euclidean-Cartesian-Newtonian-Darwinian/Spencerian one. While the western world in the 21st century is free from alacritous canon-enforcing enterprises such as the Holy Inquisition, it nevertheless operates by a canon that remains very much the mentioned Aristotelian-Euclidean-Cartesian-Newtonian-Darwinian/Spencerian one, inculcated into us all from kindergarten to the grave, echoed not only by schools of all levels, but by governments, the media, official institutions and nonofficial entities, and, last but not least, by the entertainment industry. 

I wrote...

Forbidden Fruits: An Occult Novel

By Joscelyn Godwin, Guido Mina di Sospiro,

Book cover of Forbidden Fruits: An Occult Novel

What is my book about?

Forbidden Fruits is a long-awaited follow-up to Godwin’s and Mina di Sospiro’s first co-authorship, The Forbidden Book. After eight years they have released a novel that will be a favorite among readers of esotericism as scholarship, authentic insights into ancient and modern occult practices and suspense meet in the alchemical retort of the “Society of Harmony.” With “the entheogenic key” as its focus, Forbidden Fruits provides insight into ancient practices and visions, with the island of Malta being the focal point of a near Lovecraftian evil. Complete with psychedelic journeys, therapeutic blasphemy, and child seers, Forbidden Fruits is a voyage into the unknown that will leave readers questioning the nature of reality—and how to know the real from the unreal.

Soul Retrieval

By Sandra Ingerman,

Book cover of Soul Retrieval: Mending the Fragmented Self

Witchcraft offers a path for incorporating Magickal ritual into a healing practice. When we experience trauma, we fragment our spirit and these disconnected parts become our shadow selves that block the manifestation of our deepest desires. This is what happened to me and why I weave together Magick and retrieving lost parts of our souls. Only when we come to wholeness with the deep healing practices found in Soul Retrieval can we reclaim these splintered aspects of self and focus all, not merely part, of our energy onto creating the life of our dreams. Soul Retrieval helped me address my mental wellness and release suffering, which has in turn given me a magick touch for manifestation.

Who am I?

When my Mexican maternal grandmother died the month before I was born, she left the door between the worlds ajar. Conversations with my nana’s spirit instilled faith that I could converse with all spirits, from the consciousness of land to trees, herbs, and even ideas. Being raised a Christian Scientist taught me the power of mind over matter and instilled the authority and responsibility for my own wellness through my Divine essence. This upbringing prepared me for my Witchcraft path that considers self-care as tending of my Divine spirit, illuminates the Divine light in all of Life, and teaches how to manifest Magick through our relationships, self-love, and personal healing.

I wrote...

The Book of Spells: The Magick of Witchcraft

By Jamie Della,

Book cover of The Book of Spells: The Magick of Witchcraft

What is my book about?

The Book of Spells: The Magick of Witchcraft teaches the reader they are a reflection of the Divine Source, which grants the authority to create Magick and manifest by forging connections and conversations with the natural and supernatural worlds. The first third of the book is devoted to outlining magickal correspondences, like ingredients for a recipe that can be substituted or added depending on the reader’s preferences. The remaining two-thirds of the book consists of fifty spells focused on self-empowerment, self-love, and total wellness (physical, emotional, and mental). With the help of timeless myths and fables, as well as personal anecdotes, each spell and ritual offers empowering insight to help you uncover your innate Divine essence. You can access the Divine through Magick and Witchcraft.

Or, view all 30 books about shamanism

New book lists related to shamanism

All book lists related to shamanism

Bookshelves related to shamanism