Clifton, Chas S.

(1951– )
   A lecturer in English at Colorado State University, Pueblo, with particular interests in nature writing, Clifton is the editor of a series of books about contemporary Paganism. One of these is entitled Witchcraft and Shamanism (1994), in which he has a chapter exploring possible sources for reconstructing historical European shamanic practices and ideas. Clifton’s more recent research has been about “flying ointments” that were alleged to enable early modern witches (i.e., those accused of malevolent sorcery) to fly and have been proposed as European analogues of Amazonian ayahuasca and similar substances that induce visions or altered states of consciousness. His conclusion is that such ointments are merely a literary motif, a plot device in narratives about the unnaturalness of alleged witches. His self-syndicated column (and blog site), “Letters from Hardscrabble Creek,” includes a number of astute and entertaining observations on debates and claims about contemporary shamanisms, such as his humorous essay entitled “Training Your Soul Retriever.”

Historical dictionary of shamanism. . 2007.

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