Slaying the Mouse: A True Story of Healing in the Spiritual Realms
I ran into this author on an online forum a couple of months ago; she was talking about her new book and was looking for reviewers. Being an adventurous sort, I volunteered.
Normally I don’t read first-person accounts in narrative style; this seems to be a particularly common format among neoshamanism, popularized by authors like Carlos Castaneda and Mary Summer Rain. While I can appreciate good storytelling, when it comes to nonfiction I’m a sort of “just the facts, ma’am” kind of person. Still, it’s good to shake things up a bit, and I’m glad I got the chance to read this.
The book is apparently a first-person account written by the author about a nine-month spiritual healing experience that she performed on a young man in a coma. All of the expected neoshamanic elements are there–the spirit guides (many of whom are, unsurprisingly, from American indigenous tribes–how come no one ever has deceased Western Caucasian occultists or African shamans as spirit guides?), the highly symbolic forms of healing, the shaman calling the spirit back to the body before it loses its grip. Devotees of core shamanism will recognize familiar techniques in her writing.
The writing itself is excellent. Halley has a wonderful style, and her words flow smoothly from one chapter to the next. She’s good at conveying dialogue, and mixes it well with descriptions of action. I did not find this at all to be a boring read. The story is punctuated by what are presented as actual verbatim emails from the patient’s family, conveying his improvement during the healing process. And, like most of the first person narratives in this style, the ideas surrounding her techniques are described, though not in as much detail as in some books.
I guess my biggest quibble comes from the skeptic in me. Being more from a pagan than a New Age background, I have a tendency to question things. While I have no doubt about the sincerity of the author, and I don’t believe this is just fiction wrapped up in a nonfiction label, I was just a wee bit disappointed when I got to the end of the book and found that Jason, the patient, was “unable to speak or communicate with ease”. If Jason ever does recover enough for open communication (and it would be an excellent thing if he did) it would be telling to note whether he remembered what happened, and how he felt about someone writing a book about his illness.
Still, overall this is a really good read, regardless of how you interpret it. It’s a lovely narrative of neoshamanic mind/body/spirit practices applied to a serious illness (without suggesting that the patient be removed from traditional medical care). It will probably appeal more towards the New Age end of my readership, but anyone who enjoys the style of a lot of neoshamanic texts will enjoy this well-written, intriguing work.
Four pawprints out of five.