Entering the Circle: The Secrets of Ancient Siberian Wisdom Discovered by a Russian Psychiatrist

Olga Kharitidi, Author HarperOne $21 (224p) ISBN 978-0-06-251415-8
The term ""shaman"" is Russian and, until recently, was applied only to members of the indigenous tribes of Siberia and Central Asia by such scholars as Mircea Eliade. This exciting autobiography cum spiritual adventure by a Soviet psychiatrist is the first popular account of initiation into those tribes' ancient and mysterious traditions. Kharitidi writes (with no translator) in the slightly stilted English of a native Russian-speaker, an effect that highlights the fantastic nature of her encounters. From the grim state hospital where patients are fed only gruel to the isolated Altai Mountains, Kharitidi is inexorably led to Umai, a female shaman who passes her power to Kharitidi on her death and who continues to instruct her from the spirit world. The author's involvement with shamanism is fraught with danger, for in the Soviet Union, interest in the occult can lead to psychiatric commitment. But Kharitidi manages secretly to incorporate her new powers into her practice at the hospital. During her trance voyages, she visits Belovodia, more commonly known in the West by its Tibetan name of Shambhala, where a parallel human race with advanced spiritual knowledge hints at a radical new future for humanity. Others are also discovering Belovodia, Kharitidi learns, particularly a Soviet physicist researching the nature of time. Whether one swallows this whole, with salt or not at all, there's no doubt that with its classic New Age elements--the skeptical protagonist turned believer, exotic locales and esoteric knowledge, suspense and synchronicity--this is a great read that should sell briskly. Drawings, not seen by PW. $75,000 ad/promo; BOMC, QPB and One Spirit selections; film rights to North Tower Films; translation rights sold in the U.K., France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Japan, Holland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland; author tour. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/02/1996
Release date: 09/01/1996
Show other formats
Paperback - 240 pages - 978-0-06-251417-2
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-0-694-51749-7
Paperback - 233 pages - 978-0-9647038-0-3
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