Review: Alexandra David-Neel’s “With Mystics and Magicians in Tibet”

by writereaderly

alexandra david-neel with mystics and magicians in tibetAlexandra David-Neel was a French-born Buddhist who spoke six languages and spent over a decade travelling in Tibet and the Himalayas between the 1910s and 1930s. This book doesn’t relate her journeys as such, but relates her experiences with lamaist magicians in Tibet, including the Dalai Lama and the Tashi Lama, outlining spiritual practices and performances such as tumo (personal heat generation), fleet movement, telepathy, etc. She briefly mentions her own studies and experiences, but is refreshingly unwilling to make herself a spiritual heroine; this is no memoir of the “look how spiritually advanced I am thanks to hanging out with the brown people” ilk, thank heavens. It was also a pleasure to have such a battered, antique edition at my disposal – the back cover boasts the “complete” list of Penguin books in the year 1937, numbering around 100 titles. Interesting and recommended, if I still had curiosity for travel books I’d be tracking down ADN’s more typical memoirs of intrepidity and hardship, e.g., My Journey to Lhasa; she was clearly a woman to be reckoned with.

Where it came from: Opshop
Time and manner of reading:
Rained-in sofa, fireside and bed reads
Where it went: I reckon there’ll be a reader for this on the farm
Reminds me of/that:
Who I’d recommend it to:
Shaman hunters, Buddhist investigators
Also reading: Being Alive edited by Neil Astley; The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper