Stone, Alby

   In response to Paul Devereux’s reinterpretation of “ley lines” as the spirit tracks used by shamans on out-of-body journeys, Stone wrote Straight Track, Crooked Road: Leys, Spirit Paths and Shamanism (1998), offering an alternative, though not mutually exclusive, argument. Stone cites numerous sources that indicate that the path of shamanic extracorporeal travel is as likely, if not more likely, to be crooked as it is straight, and so he does not refute Devereux’s claim but does contribute positively to the argument—and Devereux has since responded with more nuanced discussions of shamanic spirit paths. Stone has also written the highly accessible volume Explore Shamanism (2003), and while he critically discusses a number of issues and debates—including what a shaman is, gender and sex, and the shamanistic interpretation of rock art—Stone mainly deals with shamanism among Uralic- and Altaic-speaking peoples of Central Asia and Siberia (with a brief excursion into Northern Europe); that is, he tends to prefer what might be perceived as the “safe” territory of the locus classicus. Stone’s dismissal of the role of shamanism in the production and consumption of rock art, focusing as it does on the argument of David Lewis-Williams, neglects recent developments in the shamanistic approach offered by Thomas Dowson and others—and recent engagements of these scholars with animism indicate that the interpretation is gaining renewed analytical strength. Stone goes on to engage with practices at the interface of indigenous and neo-shamanisms, problematizing the authenticity of neo-shamans vis-à-vis his understanding of shamans in Central Asia and Siberia.

Historical dictionary of shamanism. . 2007.

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