Is ‘shaman’ a magical operator? Or could he be a psychic, an exorcist, a bio-energo- therapeutist, a fortune teller, an intermediary between the world of spirits and a human collectivity, a cultural hero, or just a mysterious, nameless person? Notwithstanding decades of extensive researches into the bewildering shamanic practices, we are still looking for a precise, acceptable description of this thaumaturge, called shaman — leave alone a valid explanation of the baffling shamanic phenomena and, yet beyond, of its cosmology. What, then, is the shaman-linked ‘ism’: shamanism? Is it an infra-religion, a spirit- possession cult, or a religion in its own right? Or, how far is the shamanic cosmos directly involved in a religious cult? Addressing afresh these and other related questions, a group of eminent scholars from different European countries here tries to capture some of the highly gripping aspects of shamanic cosmology, diffused in varying Eurasian environments. This book is essentially the outcome of an International Symposium: October 1996, Venice, Italy. lncluding new investigative studies of both the traditional authentic shamanism and neo- shamanism, in diverse local situations: ranging from the frozen plains of Siberia to the jungles of Orissa, from the Himalayan valleys to the islands of Indonesia, the authors describe shamanic trance/flights/ecstatic experience; how a shaman envisions the true nature of the cosmos, beyond its trivial appearance; and how, through his mysterious power, he can move among the dead men, spirits and gods. An unbiased inquiry into the intriguing, yet heart-stirring, shamanic phenomena, it is certainly a work of absorbing interest to ethnologists, social/cultural anthropologists, shamanologists, historians of religion, and general readers alike.