Shamanic Trance in Modern Kabbalah

Shamanic Trance in Modern Kabbalah

Jonathan Garb

Print publication date: 2013

ISBN: 9780226282077

Publisher: University of Chicago Press


This book explores the shamanic dimensions of Jewish mysticism. The author integrates methods and models from the social sciences, comparative religion, and Jewish studies to offer a view of the early modern kabbalists and their social and psychological contexts. Through close readings of numerous texts—some translated here for the first time—he draws a picture of the kabbalists, showing them to be as concerned with deeper states of consciousness as they were with study and ritual. The kabbalists developed physical and mental methods to induce trance states, visions of heavenly mountains, and transformations into animals or bodies of light. To gain a deeper understanding of the kabbalists' shamanic practices, the book compares their experiences with those of mystics from other traditions as well as with those recorded by psychologists such as Milton Erickson and Carl Jung. Finally, the text examines the kabbalists' relations with the wider Jewish community, uncovering the role of kabbalistic shamanism in the renewal of Jewish tradition as it contended with modernity.