The Art of the Shaman
Rock Art of CaliforniaBook - 2000
The Art of the Shaman is more than a gallery of lavish illustrations. Beginning with a basic description of the nature, age, and variability of California rock art, David Whitley accomplishes the ambitious feat of interpreting the symbolism itself. His well-grounded exposition sets this book apart from other rock art books.
Whitley demonstrates that California rock art was not created simply for artistic expression but was deliberately intended to represent symbolic systems communicating relatively few specific messages. These included vision questing, initiation, fertility, sexuality, the mythic past, life crises, and altered states of consciousness, all centered on shamanistic experience in thisworld and beyond. Inasmuch as shamanism was the basis for all Native Californian religions, Whitley taps the rich ethnographic information available on the subject to provide the underlying logic for much of the art in the various California traditions.
The Art of the Shaman is a masterwork on rock art that should be in the library of anyone who has ever looked at an ancient pictograph with awe.