- Paperback: 426 pages
- Publisher: Carolina Academic Pr (May 30, 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1594601445
- ISBN-13: 978-1594601446
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 8.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 2 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,707,266 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Hidden World: Survival of Pagan Shamanic Themes in European Fairytales Paperback – April 30, 2007
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About the Author
Carl A.P. Ruck is a professor of classical studies at Boston University.
Blaise Daniel Staples received a Ph.D. in Classical Studies from Boston University and is the author of four books and numerous articles.
Jose Alfredo Gonzalez Celdran is a professor of Greek at I.E.S. Valle de Leiva, Alhama de Murcia, Spain, and is the author of two books.
Mark Alwin Hoffman is the editor of Entheos: Journal of Psychedelic Spirituality.
Top customer reviews
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I think its an outstanding book... All authors are great... Each chapter is full of wisdom and i think its the most complete academic research around mushrooms and fairytales... I respect the other reviews here in Amazon about this book but i disagree... I recommend this book for everyone interested in entheobotany an ethnobotany..
This book is exceptional... I really think there was an Amanita Muscaria cult that lies hidden in the european famous fairytales...
Unfortunately, Ruck's book is not about the survival of shamanic traces in fairytales. Rather (as anyone familiar with Ruck's writing, which I was not before reading this book, would have known), it's all about the 'shrooms dude. No occurrence of a red and white color scheme is too small, no bumpy surface too insignificant, no apparent change in mental state too trivial to be proof that lurking just beneath the surface of these tales is a cult of Amanita muscaria (fly agaric) eaters that seem to transcend time and space to be wherever Ruck needs them.
If Ruck is right, then he has the key to understanding the whole of human history from (I'm not joking) the lotophagi of the Odyssey to Super Mario Brothers. Of course, when a claim is too much to be believed (such as his statement that it is well known that Through The Looking Glass is a text about mushrooms) there are footnotes to other writings by Ruck or his coauthors to back it up. It's self-referential scholarship at its best! Everything is meticulously documented, but nothing seems to escape the gravitational pull of Ruck's Big Idea. And just when you think that there can't be a more outrageous claim about the role of mushrooms in human society, another one comes along that tops the last one.
Ultimately, I'm afraid, the issue isn't one of scholarship, but rather one of religion. Even Ruck's preferred term for psychedelics, "entheogens" (that which brings the god within), is an attempt to invest these things with not even quasi-religious authority. (While one could argue that entheogen is a more respectful and less loaded term than psychedelic with its associations with 60s drug counter-culture, Ruck seems to want the reader to take the theos component of entheogen literally.) Alas, Ruck's hypothesis cannot be falsified by the evidence, so it also cannot be tested or verified (a point he basically concedes at various points when he says that those looking for "proof" will miss the point). If you believe that the shrooms were everywhere, it all makes sense. If you're a bit skeptical, it's one wild ride of conjecture and outrageous speculation. While it is possible that Ruck is right and mushrooms (the consumption of which he basically equates with shamanism) were everywhere from Alice in Wonderland to the Christian Eucharist to Hindu enlightenment, I don't have the eye of faith needed to see it and I certainly don't see it as being so basic and fundamental and pervasive as Ruck and his colleagues do.
I'd give this one star for the scholarship, but for sheer entertainment value it's got two stars. If you like Graham Hancock or Erik von Däniken as spinners of great yarns, Ruck is up there with them (although nothing here is quite so, umm, exciting as Hancock's tales of spending the night among the pyramids and finding out some things he just can't tell the readers yet...)
There is credible scholarship out there about survivals and about shamanism, but this isn't it. I'm sure that Ruck would object that I've just bought into the whole mindset that suppresses the truth, but all this points to the fact that for Ruck et al. the mushrooms are an article of faith, something that is there before and after all proof or lack thereof.