Kharitidi, Olga

   In her book Entering the Circle: Ancient Secrets of Siberian Wisdom Discovered by a Russian Psychiatrist (1997), Kharitidi suggests that her experiences with indigenous shamans began at a psychiatric hospital in Novosibirsk, Siberia, with a patient whose mental illness was apparently caused by his call to be a shaman. Following in the footsteps of Carlos Castaneda and Lynn Andrews, Kharitidi’s unwitting introduction to shamanism is portrayed as a true story that can bring meaning and spiritual purpose to the lives of her readers. The book is described as “Castaneda à la Russe” by Michael Harner, and there are clear similarities between Kharitidi’s work and that of Castaneda. Her book portrays misleading stereotypes, suggesting shamanism is a “prototradition, a basic tradition . . . able to preserve very important archaic rituals and beliefs that have not changed as a result of social and cultural influences.” Kharitidi describes her precognitive dreams of the “lady in the ice” found on the Ukok Plateau, near the borders of Kazakhstan, Altai, and China, and these dreams culminate in the appearance of Belovidia, the Siberian homeland of a “long-forgotten, advanced, esoteric civilization.” Besides this decontextualizing and romanticizing of shamanism, Kharitidi does, however, draw a distinction between her own neo-shamanism and that of the indigenous shamans she learned from, not claiming to be a shaman or initiated as one, and she also emphasizes the community role of shamanic practitioners—aspects often overlooked by neo-shamans who misrepresent shamanisms.

Historical dictionary of shamanism. . 2007.

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