Reviews & Interviews

Book Review – Shamanic Alchemy: The Great Work of Inner Transformation by James Endredy

Book Review

Shamanic Alchemy

The Great Work of Inner Transformation

by James Endredy

Bear & Co.

277 pages

Shamanic Alchemy: The Great Work of Inner Transformation, tracks the parallels between the “Great Work” of classical alchemy and the shamanism’s work of aligning the inner and outer worlds through the process of initiation and transformation. Endredy’s introduction to the book sets out his thesis: “both alchemy and shamanism are practical gnostic systems of enlightenment…The predominant reason for practicing gnostic systems…is that direct experience is highly effective in relieving suffering, ignorance and fear of death. The direct experience of practicing shamanic alchemy has the power to invoke peace of mind, a healthy and confident outlook on life, increased creativity and physical and mental vitality.” The book is also a short primer on the history of alchemy. Part One covers the history, terms and theory of classical alchemy. Endredy gives us a dictionary of alchemical terms and principal figures and a comparison of shamanic and alchemical cosmologies, invoking theories of quantum physics as to how these cosmologies might work. Part Two provides theory and practices for accessing altered, shamanic and integrative states of consciousness, working with direct shamanic viewing and building a sacred fire. Endredy also provides a step by step process for making a spagyric from plants – a medicine or elixir made using an alchemical procedure – with equipment you probably have at home. In Part Three, we are taken in detail through the 7 steps of the process of alchemical transformation: Calcination, Dissolution, Separation, Conjunction, Fermentation, Distillation, and Coagulation. He explains the transformative process and the natural element – earth, air, water, fire and quintessence, the force that binds permeates all of creation – associated with each. He then provides a praxis, or practice, based in core shamanic cosmology that the reader may work with to personally experience and understand the nature of the transformation offered by this step of the alchemical process. Like a shamanic dismemberment experience, readers will experience being “taken apart,” transformed and put back together or “re-membered” if they work with each of the practices in order. The citation notes and bibliography provide sources for further reading and research into both the practice and theory of alchemy and shamanism.

Shamanic Alchemy is a unique approach to self-transformation, weaving together classical and indigenous practices. Many of my questions about the practice of alchemy were answered by Endredy. As a long-time practitioner of core shamanism, I found it truly helpful to look at alchemy through the lens of the shamanic cosmology; I was better able to grasp how alchemy is thought to work. By pairing a shamanic practice with a step of the alchemical process, Endredy has given us an ingenious way to feel into the energy of how the steps of personal transformation work. I am looking forward to attempting to make a plant spagyric at home. The step by step process is clearly illustrated, looks easy to follow and does not require complicated or expensive equipment!!

This is not a book for beginners. Nor is it a book for people interested in dabbling in the process of self-transformation. I feel that it requires several readings to fully work with all that is offered. The practices that Endredy recommends require commitment over an extended period of time. They build on each other and require deep personal involvement in doing the work. For example, the praxis associated with alchemical stage 4, Fermentation, is the building of a personal coffin, which must be transported to a site and occupied during a 3-day vision quest. This step builds on the work that has been done in the 3 prior steps and opens the way for the steps that build to completion at stage 7.

This is an excellent book to work with if you are interested in exploring the connections between alchemy and shamanism. Be prepared to go deeply into the work of transformation!

James Endredy has written several books on the topics of shamanism and ecology, including Shamanism for Beginners and Ecoshamanism. According to his website , he has studied with shamans in diverse cultures for over 25 years, and offers shamanic services and ceremony for modern people. He is actively involved in preserving historic alchemy texts as well as the world’s indigenous cultures and sacred sites. He founded The Earth Spirit foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to teach, revive, and preserve earth-centered spirituality and sustainable culture.


Shamanic Alchemy: The Great Work of Inner Transformation on Amazon


About the Author:

Susan Rossi is a Practitioner and Teacher of Shamanic Arts. She is a long-time explorer of The Mysteries – the connections between mind, body, spirit and how to live in right relationship to all of the energies streaming through the cosmos. She works with clients as an astrologer, coach, ceremonialist and guide to the wisdom that each of us has the capacity to access. Her focus is on guiding clients to unblock and rediscover their inner wisdom. Art, exploration of the birth chart, ceremony, legacy writing, hypnotherapy, energetic healing practice and creation of sacred tools are integral pieces of her practice.


Susan trained in Soul Level Astrology with master astrologer Mark Borax. She delights in exploring with individuals the planetary pattern under which their soul choose to incarnate.


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