Reflecting sixteen years of intensive fieldwork, this book is a rich chronicle of the daily lives, belief systems, and healing rituals of four highly revered Tibetan shamans forced into exile by the Chinese invasion during the 1950s. Larry Peters lived and studied closely with the shamans in Nepal, learning their belief system, observing and participating in their rituals, and introducing many dozens of students to their worldview. Including photographs of the shamans in ecstatic ritual and trance, this book—one of the most extensive ethnographic works ever done on Tibetan shamanism—captures the end of Tibetan shamanism while opening a window onto the culture and traditions that survived centuries of attack in Tibet, only to die out in Nepal.
The violent treatment of shamans by the Buddhist lama has a long history in Tibet and neighboring Mongolia. At one point, shamans were burned at the stake. However, in the mountainous Himalayan terrain, especially in the difficult to reach areas geographically distant from the Buddhist monastic urban centers, shamans were respected and their work revered. Peters’s authoritative and meticulous research into the belief systems of these last surviving representatives of the shamanic traditions of the remote Himalayas preserves, in vivid detail, the techniques of ecstasy, described as pathways to the shamanic spiritual world.