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Shiva: The Wild God of Power and Ecstasy Paperback – September 14, 2004

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“An encyclopedic and highly inspiring account of Shiva.” (Franz-Theo Gottwald, Ph.D., philosopher and Indologist)

"This thorough, academic book will interest students of comparative religions, Eastern philosophies." (Kathy Heckler, New Age Retailer, Trends 2005 Vol. 19, No. 3)

“Wolf-Dieter Storl expertly traces the history of the lore of Shiva through the influences of invading cultures and religions, and relates a wide variety of seemingly diverse influences to Shiva’s story such as the Celtic Christian legend of the Holy Grail. As engaging and entertaining as he is informational, Storl opens the reader’s eyes to Hindu culture and religion as though one is a tourist traveling the land for the first time.” (Spirit of Change, July/August 2005)

“In Shiva, Storl creates a vibrant and comprehensive portrait of this omnipresent wild god.” (Spirit of Change, July/August 2005)

“An intimate portrait of Shiva, that most complex of Hindu Gods. Reading this book is like finding an oasis in the desert of monotheism.” (Claudia Mueller-Ebeling, Ph.D., and Christian Rätsch, Ph.D., coauthors of Shamanism and Tantra)

“Discusses the roots and the manifestations of Shiva, the original mystic, and his relevance to modern life in both the East and the West. This book will amuse, shock, and, most important, provoke readers to think about their own cherished conceptions of the world.” (John R. Baker, professor of anthropology and translator of The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Plants,)

From the Back Cover

EASTERN PHILOSOPHY / HINDUISM

“An intimate portrait of Shiva, that most complex of Hindu Gods. Reading this book is like finding an oasis in the desert of monotheism.”
--Claudia Mueller-Ebeling, Ph.D., and Christian Rätsch, Ph.D., coauthors of Shamanism and Tantra in the Himalayas and Witchcraft Medicine

“Discusses the roots and the manifestations of Shiva, the original mystic, and his relevance to modern life in both the East and the West. This book will amuse, shock, and, most important, provoke readers to think about their own cherished conceptions of the world.”
--John R. Baker, professor of anthropology and translator of The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Plants, Marijuana Medicine, and Plants of Love

“An encyclopedic and highly inspiring account of Shiva.”
--Franz-Theo Gottwald, Ph.D., philosopher and Indologist

To his devotees Shiva is the entire universe and the core of all beings. Hindu myth shows him appearing at the beginning of creation as a giant pillar of fire from which this world sprang forth. Yet he is also the most approachable of gods, for he is the lover of lovers and the devotee of his devotees.

Ethnologist Wolf-Dieter Storl was first captivated by Shiva when he was in India as a visiting scholar at Benares Hindu University. In Shiva: The Wild God of Power and Ecstasy he reveals the mythical world of Shiva as a study in contrasts: As the lord of dance Shiva looses himself in ecstatic abandon; with his consort Parvati he can make love for 10,000 years. Both men and women worship him for his ability to unite and balance masculine and feminine energies. But as the ascetic Shankar he sits in deep meditation, shunning women, and none dare disturb him lest he open his third eye and immolate the entire universe. Lord of intoxicants and poisons, Shiva is the keeper of secret occult knowledge and powers, for which he is worshipped by yogis and demons alike. Shiva dances both the joy of being and the dance of doom--but in every aspect he breaks through the false ego to reveal the true self lying within. This, Storl demonstrates through numerous stories and myths, is Shiva’s true power. In addition, Storl explores the relationship of this multidimensional god to contemporary culture, Tantra, and the dualistic religions of the West.

WOLF-DIETER STORL, Ph.D., is a cultural anthropologist and ethnobotanist who has taught at Kent State University as well as in Vienna, Berne, and Benares. He is coauthor of Witchcraft Medicine and has written a number of books on indigenous culture and ethnobotany. He lives in Allgäu, Germany.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 312 pages
  • Publisher: Inner Traditions; First Edition edition (September 14, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 159477014X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594770142
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #990,058 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By L. Berger on October 10, 2004
Format: Paperback
This book brings to life many of the stories of the Hindu god Shiva in an easy-to-read (no dry academia here) yet highly informative romp from the creation of mankind to the intoxicating bliss of life on Mt Kailash. It also eloquently relates many themes to European mythology and shamanism. This makes this book an excellent read for those already familiar with Shiva as well as a great introduction for those who are not. I highly recommend it!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Della on April 11, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've read three-quarters of this book and am not sure it's worth reading the rest.

First of all, let me say that it's obvious that Storl is very fond of his subject. His passion for the topic shines through in his writing. The book is filled with really great black-and-white ink drawings to break up the text, and the book also includes some glossy, full-color photos.

But I was expecting a work of scholarship--after all, Storl holds a PHD and cites a good amount of sources--and have found myself doubting the text.

As this is a book of comparative mythology, I wasn't expecting a ground-breaking, mind-bending work. Comparative mythology has a whole slew of problems that can trip up even the most sagacious. And that's one of the biggest problems with Shiva: The Wild God of Power and Ecstasy. The comparsions get out of control. Early in the book, Storl falls into the "Everything is a Phallus" Syndrome, which is all-too common in comparative mythology (he moves past this, thankfully). I question his labeling of Shiva as a "shaman". Taken in the context of his culture, I'm not seeing much of a shaman. From an outsider's perspective, possibly.

It would have been nice if Storl had cited his sources when he claimed that Eostre has a chariot pulled by rabbits. There were several places where I wish he'd cited.

At one point, Storl passed off a story as traditionally Indian that I'm pretty sure is actually European in origin.

Storl has a habit of referring to Neolithic cults, especially those of the "Earth Mother". The scholarship around these cults is doubtful, and I'm not comfortable with how certain Storl sounded when writing about them.

Storl called the yoga danda a magic staff. The yoga danda is not a magic staff.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By AWal on October 28, 2014
Format: Paperback
I read this book years ago and then lost track of it. Nevertheless, it stayed with me. It's heartening to find it again. I found it enlightening, written with a warmth that you rarely see in academic work.

It also takes Shiva's multi-faceted personifications into perspective. There is no 'one' Shiva and this book and the stories interwoven in the pages show that. It's a succinct, gripping read that should give you a reasonably thorough understanding of just who and what Shiva is and why he has endured through the ages. At least, that's what it did for me.

Read with an open mind, this book is a perfect introduction into the rich study that is Shiva the Destroyer, God of the Gods, the Yogi, the Storm, the Innocent, the Cosmic Dancer and the All knowing. A wonderful read, highly recommended.
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By P&KForever on August 28, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Enjoyed parts of it, but other parts were autobiographical. Not sourced well enough for me. The lower the cost, the more of a pick up it would be, but not top rate material for either pleasure or scholarship.
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By Jaymee on May 5, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is the only one you'll ever need to buy on Shiva. It's told in an almost story-like fashion, and is very easy to read. My particularly favorite part is all of the images and diagrams in the margins, which were very informative!
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful By J. Wolf on June 27, 2008
Format: Paperback
This book is an excellent introduction to Shiva and, through him, to Hinduism and even Indian philosophy in general. Designed for a Western audience, the book is divided into sections about different aspects of Shiva and his worship. Wolf-Dieter Storl approaches the subject as an anthropologist, giving historical and cultural background to this Hindu God. In addition, he intersperses his analysis with stories from the great Hindu books of mythology as well as anecdotes from his time in India. I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in a serious, in-depth look at Shiva.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Albert Abrams on August 4, 2008
Format: Paperback
I thoroughly enjoyed this book cover to cover. It is written in a smart, savvy and wonderful style. I was sad to see it end! Plenty of stories, tales and elucidations on the various aspects of Shiva. Provides both the experienced reader and newbies to Shiva excellent background on the beauty, power and deep meaning of Shiva as a force in our everyday lives.
I highly recommend this book!
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