Bushman Shaman: Awakening the Spirit through Ecstatic Dance

Excerpts & Samples

By Bradford Keeney

Publisher : Inner Traditions/Bear & Company

ABOUT Bradford Keeney

Bradford Keeney
Bradford Keeney, Ph.D., is an internationally renowned scholar, therapist, and shaman who has led expeditions throughout the world to study cultural healing practices. He is an Honorary Senior Research Fellow at the Rock Art Research Institute, University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, So More...



The author’s journey to becoming a Bushman shaman and healer and how this tradition relates to shamanic practices around the world

• Explores the Bushmen’s ecstatic shaking and dancing practices

• Written by the first non-Bushman to become fully initiated into their healing and spiritual ways

In Bushman Shaman, Bradford Keeney details his initiation into the shamanic tradition of the Kalahari Bushmen, regarded by some scholars as the oldest living culture on earth. Keeney sought out the Bushmen while in South Africa as a visiting professor of psychotherapy. He had known of the Kalahari “trance dance,” wherein the dancers’ bodies shake uncontrollably as part of the healing ceremony. Keeney was drawn to this tradition in the hope that it might explain and provide a forum for his own ecstatic “shaking,” which he had first experienced at the age of 19 and had tried to suppress and hide throughout his adult life.

For more than a dozen years Keeney danced with Bushmen shamans in communities throughout Botswana and Namibia, until finally becoming fully initiated into their doctoring and spiritual ways. Through his rediscovery of the “rope to God” in a Bushman shaman dream, he offers readers accounts of his shamanic world travels and the secrets of the soul he learned along the way. In Bushman Shaman Keeney also reveals his work with shamans from Japan, Tibet, Bali, Thailand, Australia, and North and South America, providing new understandings of other forms of shamanic spiritual expression and integrating the practices of all these traditions into a sacred circle of one truth.
“Keeney’s vision is leading the vanguard in defining and articulating the territory between psychology and spirit.”
Eric Utne, founder of The UTNE Reader

“The most striking example of the products, cures, and philosophies being offered that have their origins in practices of primitive cultures is from Bradford Keeney.”
TIME magazine

“Brad Keeney may be the closest we have to a genuine American shaman. In Bushman Shaman, he shares his remarkable adventures into the psyche and his equally remarkable sensibility as an explorer of the human spirit. Fascinating.”
Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence

“Bradford Keeney invites us to go beyond modernity to the oldest culture on Earth to find true magic and power. May those who take this journey with him surrender to their own ecstatic dance, and in so doing, find their way back home.”
Malidoma Patrice Somé, author of The Healing Wisdom of Africa and Of Water and the Spirit

“There is no question in the minds of the Bushman healers that Keeney's strength and purposes are coterminous with theirs. I know this from talking myself with some of the Kalahari shamans who danced with him. They affirmed his power as a healer and their enjoyment of dancing with him. . . . He knows whereof he writes, having traveled ‘ropes to God’ himself for much of his life, in many places in addition to the Kalahari.”
Megan Biesele, Ph.D., cofounder and coordinator of the Kalahari People's Fund, former member of the Harvard Kalahari Research Project, and author of Healing Makes Our Hearts Happy and Women Like Meat

“Probably the most important book in the fields of healing and indigenous spirituality that's been published for many years. Keeney weaves together diverse threads of shamanic wisdom with deceptive ease--easy only because he became a shaman and lived the story on behalf of all of us. Anyone truly interested in the age-old questions of ‘What is God’ and ‘Why are we here?’ should read this book.”
Rupert Isaacson, author of The Healing Land: The Bushmen and the Kalahari Desert

Bushman Shaman is a pleasure to read and will be of great interest to people studying psychotherapy or trance-dance healing.”
David Paulsen, New Age Retailer, Fall 2005