BOOK REVIEWS

 

 

THE ECSTATIC EXPERIENCE
Healing Postures for Spirit Journeys
By Belinda Gore
Ecstasy is defined as being in a state of elated bliss. Being deprived of this "state of being," where you are carried away by overwhelming emotion, is thought to be the fundamental cause of all forms of addiction. It then follows that if we are able to achieve this state through postures, trances and shamanic practices, we will find a positive source for awakened energy, spirit journeying and the restoration of balance in our lives.

Using a collection of ritual body postures from the artwork of ancient cultures as a doorway to the spirit world, the state of ecstatic trance may be achieved through relatively safe and simple methods. We start with discussing the imperative human need for ecstasy, as well as why body postures were used by the ancients and why they are still effective today in order to achieve this state.

Basic methods, such as self-preparation, establishing sacred space and quieting the mind, show us methods with which to start. The bulk of the book includes actual postures, where they come from in history, how to achieve them and how they help. Many of these are depicted by hand-drawn illustrations.

Included with this book is an accompanying CD entitled "Trance Rhythms for the Ecstatic Experience." Four 15 minute segments of rattling and drumming are designed to accompany you during your ritual postures. In addition to the sound, when I played mine on my P.C., I found rhythmic graphics that can also be used to further enhance your experience.

Published by Bear & Company, this book is available at your local bookstore or on the website at www.BearandCompanyBooks.com.

Reviewed by Sonia von Matt Stoddard

 

A HEALING GROVE
African Tree Remedies and Rituals for the Mind and Spirit
By Stephanie Rose Bird

Derived from a variety of African and African-American traditions, this book is packed with functional, accessible recipes, remedies and rituals to serve mind, body, soul and spirit. We learn of heritage and traditions which incorporate the ancient groves of the past with the roots of our communities in the here and now.

Numerous trees have ecological, as well as social and religious functions in the community. Trees, especially those that bear fruits, easily nourish the body as well as the soul.

Along with discussions on heritage and tradition, this book delves further into specific remedies and rituals for daily life. Tools and techniques of herbalists are described in detail as are the qualities and uses for seeds, nuts, fruits, pods, oils, resins, bark and sap. Whether you are in need of an anti-wrinkle remedy or have interest in alluring aphrodisiac oil, you will find it here.

Much of our success within humanity depends on our ability to reclaim and use ancient Earth knowledge. While most resources about botanicals and herbals tend to focus on European remedies, which are the foundation of Western medicine, here we find a myriad of alternatives, as well as sophisticated treatments, from the indigenous cultures of Africa - a medicinal system whose roots stretch back to the very dawn of time.

Published by Lawrence Hill Books, this book will be available in August of 2009 at your local bookstore, or at the Independent Publishers Group, on their website at www.ipgbook.com.

Reviewed by Sonia von Matt Stoddard

 

ANIMAL SPIRIT GUIDES
How to Discover Your Power Animal and the Shamanic Path
By Chris Luttichau

Learning to communicate and stay connected with the energy of animals can help us to understand and deepen our affinity with the natural world. Beginning with a basic introduction on how to find our "power animal" as well as methods of working with an animal with which we already have a connection, we are given exercises on how to call your animal into your day, as well as using dreams as a way of maintaining contact.

We are also offered a step-by-step guide on how to undertake a drum journey, so that we may reach the realm of the animal spirits.

The bulk of the book is devoted to studying and understanding our power animals, how to learn from them as well as finding esoteric methods about ascertaining divine messages. We learn how to find a connection with our animal spirit helpers and guides as well as how to interpret messages from our spirit guides.

Luttichau, a respected teacher and healer, has traveled worldwide on the path to shamanism. All animals, from the lowly ant and lizard to the mighty eagle and bear, each have a separate and specific section so we can identify those traits we share with these creatures.

Included are specific illustrations of earth, air and water animals. Finally, we are guided on how to honor the sacred agreements between animals and humans, as well as how to incorporate this partnership into our worldly life purpose.

Published by Cico Books, this book is available at your local bookstore or on the website at www.cicobooks.com.

Reviewed by Sonia von Matt Stoddard

 

VISION BOARDS:
A Guidebook for Mapping Out Your Vision
By Olivia Vicky Lee

You have the choice to re-architect the path to living out your dreams, or to stay true to the various paths which you have already created. Vision questing and vision mapping can help you see your life as clearly and focused as possible. This book represents how the author uses her psychic abilities to help people map a way to their dreams.

She shows us, in exceptional detail, how to build a "vision board" in order to map out our soul DNA, look at our lives, and retrain our brain to react differently in crisis. It also helps us to identify the mythology under-lying our current life patterns.

The vision board process begins by asking questions, believing in what you are asking for, creating a vision that can prod our spirit guides to provide insight, actually creating the vision, and then ultimately putting into play those actions that manifest it. Each step is broken down further so we can open each goal, see it, listen to it, feel it, contemplate it, then use it to the best of our abilities.

We examine our masks, such as attitudes and roles, and how to map our bodies in order to determine our true beliefs. We then proceed to acknowledge and banish those things that serve no positive purpose; we replace them with intentions and plans toward ultimate freedom, to do as we truly desire.

Published by Taro Patch Small Press, this book is available at your local bookstore or on the website at www.visionboardwork.com.

Reviewed by Sonia von Matt Stoddard

 

MYRRIDDIN,
Book II of the Merlin Factor A Novel
By Steven Maines

The second book in the Merlin Factor series is a compelling story, illuminating a quest we all share - to surrender to a larger destiny. As in the first book, Longinus, his descriptive storytelling makes the reader feel present 300 years later in the Celtic 4th Century A.D., the world of the Druids. Drawing on his background as a philosopher, writer and observer of the human condition, Maines provides fascinating historical phenomena. This story is about a young boy who finds the spear of Longinus, the same spear used to pierce the side of Christ. Sensing the power within it, which is really his own power, the boy accesses it and lets it flourish, meanwhile trying to keep it disguised as a magic-laced Druid Staff because he knows others want it. 

The boy's name is Myrriddin. The world will remember him as Merlin, the greatest Druid and Wizard of all time. An intriguing description of the traditional way the Druids celebrated Halloween. The poignant, pivotal part of the story.

Although this is the second book in the series, Maines states that each book stands alone. A prologue effectively sets the scene. Recommended are the short well-crafted flash animated trailers for both books on the author's website.

Published by Purple Haze Press, the book and the new CD audio version are available at www.PurpleHazePress.com, www.StevenMaines.com, local bookstores and online booksellers.

Reviewed by Kathy DeSantis

 

DOG BLESSINGS
Poems, Prose and Prayers Celebrating Our Relationship with Dogs Edited
by June Cotner

Best-selling author and anthologist June Cotner has gathered an inspiring collection of poetry and prose, celebrating the joy that comes from loving dogs. With heartwarming, funny and touching tributes to dogs, she heralds the special connection that exists between humans and canines.

Contributors include famous and not-so-famous writers who provide eloquent and entertaining descriptions of days at the beach, puppies playing, chasing balls and Frisbees, children and dogs together, the dinner bowl, rescue dogs, the loyalty of dogs, shelter dogs and feelings that dogs evoke in us. Many people wish they could be as good as their dog thinks they are.

Dog Blessings was carefully crafted to contain loving reflections of the kindest, most caring and devoted animals known to humankind. Every phase of a dog's life is shared, from the fun of watching a puppy learn - to compassion in caring for an elderly dog. We are reminded how deeply dogs enrich our lives in so many ways.

The perfect book for any dog lover, this is a collection that will be shared and revisited for years to come.

Published by New World Library this book is available at local bookstores, online booksellers and the website at www.newworldlibrary.com

Reviewed by Kathy DeSantis

 


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