Deerdancer – The shapeshifter archetype in story and in trance by Michelle Jamal

Deerdancer – The shapeshifter archetype in story and in trance by Michelle Jamal

‘For centuries, shamanic men and women have engaged in shapeshifting rituals.’ This book is, well, it isn’t as sensational as I thought it was going to be to be honest. It is worth reading if you are interested in the process of a human being taking on the physical or psychological aspect of an animal to have accesses to its strength and perceptions! It briefly runs through chapters about the wolf, bird, frog, deer – you even have dragon in there, showing you how to use shape shifting rituals in order to find strength, insight and direction. Jamal retells myths about each animal and shape shifting occurrences from across the world and ends each chapter, with a rather peculiar visualisation for the animal the chapter is based upon. Now, I am all for visualisation, I do it a LOT. But these were, well, not exactly the sort of thing that would help me, in any way, shape or form. I tended to skip them when I was halfway through the book, actually because to me, all they were was passages of elaborate literature. This section is from the deer visualisation:

Tracing the footsteps of the gods, walk across the sans in naked purity, burning away sins in the heat…With stealth and prayers, sling an arrow into your bow, shooting it through the heart of peyote. Sorry, what?

The real life tales are the most interesting however. One man apparently took on the physical and psychological stance of a grizzly bear and killed a woman. I’ll say something else positive after the Grizzly, I learnt some interesting but ghastly facts, such as in France, in the early 17th century 30,000 people, yes, 30,000 people were thought to be werewolves and were burned at the stake. Absolutely fascinating.

Now, yes, I was disappointed in this book, A. for the visualisations and B. For the very, very sparse exploration, I felt, of shape shifting that would transform how we look at ourselves and at creatures.

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