cover image Manual of Psychomagic: The Practice of Shamanic Psychotherapy

Manual of Psychomagic: The Practice of Shamanic Psychotherapy

Alejandro Jodorowsky, trans. from the Spanish by Rachael LeValley. Inner Traditions/Bear & Company, $19.95 trade paper (256p) ISBN 978-1-62055-107-3

Paris-based filmmaker (El Topo), comic book author, and psychotherapist Jodorowsky returns to “psychomagic,” a neo-Freudian technique of his own invention first explored in Psychomagic: The Transformative Power of Shamanic Psychotherapy. It aims to heal the mind from childhood trauma via symbolic acts that satisfy amoral, unconscious urges for incest, cannibalism, matricide, coprophagia, and the like. The resulting compilation of over 200 examples of sympathetic magic that Jodorowsky has used with individual practitioners proves wildly creative and boldly cinematic. The unifying factor is a bizarre sense of whimsy—one particular ritual has a person pursue a promotion by writing “I am worthy! I can do it!” on a piece of paper and then carrying it around inside her vagina. The cure for claustrophobia involves being placed nude in a coffin and buried by “six charitable people,” who later cover the patient with honey and lick it off; achieving “happiness of living” requires covering yourself in excrement and begging for three hours, then showering in your mother’s home. Even the most adventurous veteran of self-help literature will likely demur. But for the armchair student of human psychology, imagining Jodorowsky’s vibrant, visceral, and entirely unapologetic paths to the unconscious should be an absolutely delightful exercise. (Mar.)