The Ceremonial Circle by Sedonia Cahill and Joshua Halpern – June BBBR

The Ceremonial Circle: Practice, Ritual and Renewal for Personal and Community Healing
Sedonia Cahill and Joshua Halpern
Harper Collins, 1992
200 pages

This month’s Bargain Bin Book Review ended up being a useful resource for both my paganism and my (future) therapeutic practice. Written by two psychologists of a spiritual bent, it can basically be summed up as “ritual practices for people who don’t want to use the word ‘pagan'”. This gives it certain amounts of versatility that more blatantly neopagan books might not have in reaching a broader audience.

The book is essentially a 101 guide to ritual construction. Written in such a way as to not evoke any specific religion (though it draws on “Native American” spirituality–more on that in a moment), it breaks ritual practices down into basic components, but without going too heavily into theory. It’s a practical guide, a toolkit for creating rituals for everything from rites of passage to celebration to grieving, as well as connection to the Earth and other living beings. Not surprisingly, there’s a great focus on healing, including healing of the psyche, and the use of ritual for that purpose.

The authors present a nice balance of how-tos and anecdotes. One entire chapter is dedicated to interviews with various experienced ritual leaders, including Starhawk, to get their perspectives on creating rituals through the medium of a circle. These interviews add a nice touch of “been there, done that, here’s what worked” to the hands-on material.

I did take off some points because of a bit of cultural appropriation. The authors, as mentioned earlier, borrow from what they perceive as “Native American” spirituality. This is presented pretty generically, and without a lot of discussion of the original cultural contexts of the practices. Additionally, there’s not a lot of information presented for each–the sweat lodge, for example, gets a few paragraphs at best, never mind that improperly done it can be deadly. And they toss the word “shamanic” around more than I’m comfortable with; surviving an abusive childhood, for example, does not automatically make one a shaman. While I understand the authors’ desire to present a wide variety of potential ritual practices, “trying to be like the Indians” generally ends up with some deficiencies, and while they did address needing to respect the cultures drawn from, I found this aspect of the book to be pretty lacking.

Overall, though, this is a really valuable resource, especially if you need to design a ritual for people who aren’t necessarily pagan, but are open to animistic spiritual/psychological practices. I’m keeping it for my own uses, and would recommend it to others.

Four pawprints out of five.

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Animal Reiki to Go – Mary Caelsto

Animal Reiki to Go
Mary Caelsto
The Lotus Circle, 2009
128 pages plus keychain charm and drawstring pouch

There are several books and other resource that cover reiki for animals, either as the entire book or as part of a broader work. However, this one’s nice “to go” as the title says, as a pocket-sized kit for the reiki practitioner. Just a note to start off with–I only got the book to review, not the keychain or pouch, so the review’s only for the book.

I think the best target audience for this book would be people who already have a basic knowledge of reiki, and want to expand that to nonhuman animals. While the author does give a very basic summary of reiki for contextual purposes, I wouldn’t want to use it as my only source (a bibliography/recommended reading section would have been a bonus in the back, but is sadly missing).

That being said, if you already are a reiki practitioner, then you’ll find some great analogues between human and nonhuman animal treatment. Caelsto does a good job of showing just how simple it is (sometimes!) to transfer knowledge of practice on humans and transferring it to other animals. For example, she shows where the seven primary chakras are on other animals, and explains how best to work on them. This includes some incredibly valuable practical and safety issues–some animals simply do not like being handled, while others are shy around certain parts of their bodies, such as the head. Information on distance healing with reiki comes in very handy.

Caelsto also adds in some uses besides straight healing. She explains how to use reiki to protect a certain population of animals, such as an endangered species, or a herd of deer living near a busy road. Having done a good bit of activist magic myself, I had to applaud this quite a bit. (Though after reading the sentence “Don’t set traps, send reiki” from page 16, there’s part of me that totally wants to set up a reiki-based pest control service with that as the ad line!)

No, this isn’t the longest book on the subject, and as mentioned I would suggest it for people who already have the basic knowledge of reiki down. However, it’s concise and packed full of a lot of good, practical, hands-on (no pun intended) information on the topic at hand. Caelsto does a great job of explaining what to do, why to do it, and adds in some anecdotes to show some of the possible effects. She’s an effective teacher through writing, and while I would have liked more references, it’s a good book for what it was intended to be. Good either as part of the kit, or as a standalone text.

Four and a quarter pawprints out of five.

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Lllewellyn’s 2008 Herbal Almanac – various

Llewellyn’s 2008 Herbal Almanac: Herbs for Cooking and Crafts, Health and Beauty, Growing and Gathering, History, Myth and Lore
Various
Llewellyn Publications, 2007
312 pages

People often assume that because the Llewellyn almanacs are dated (and are called “almanacs”), that most of the information in them isn’t relevant beyond the year they’re published. The truth is to the contrary. While the 2008 Herbal Almanac does include a few pages of lunar information that can be used with herbal magic and growing, this is no Farmer’s Almanac. Instead, it’s an anthology of informational essays on a wide variety of topics related to herbs and plants, sure to be relevant for years to come.

The book is divided into sections: Growing and Gathering Herbs, Culinary Herbs, Herbs for Health, Herbs for Beauty, Herb Crafts, and Herb History, Myth and Lore. Each section contains anywhere from three to eight essays of a nice variety. While overall I enjoyed the quality of the writing and information in here (albeit as someone who does not work extensively with herbs beyond cooking), here are a few of my favorites:

Endangered Herbs by Patti Wigington: Because some of the most commonly used herbs in magic are often ubiquitous (and even weeds) it can be easy to forget that not everything that’s an herb is easy to procure, or has a healthy population overall. This essay details a few herbs that, while used frequently in magic, are endangered from habitat loss, overuse, and other reasons. The author offers some excellent alternatives, as well as tips on sustainable consumption (culinary and otherwise) of these plants.

Shadowplay: Herbs for the Shady Garden by Elizabeth Barrette: You don’t need full sunlight to be able to have a garden. This excellent essay details what may be planted in the shade, as well as some ideas for helping the herbs to grow.

Organic Gardening Practices by Lynne Smyth: Another one of the gardening essays, I liked this simply because it’s a good, basic introduction to ways to garden without chemicals, and in a sustainable manner. Those who claim to be close to the Earth would do well to adopt as many of these practices as possible.

Henna for Hair by AarTiana: I love henna, and have been using it for a few years to dye my hair red. This was a nice guide to using henna, and while I already knew a good bit of the information, I learned a few things (including the fact that Lucille Ball used henna!)

Paracelsus, Plants, and the Doctrine of Signatures by Mark Stavish: This was a little denser read than most of what was in this book, but still quite accessible. A good introduction to a hermetic/alchemical take on magical herbalism, and a more thorough explanation of why we use correspondences than most short writings offer.

Crafts for Kids Unfold Outdoors by Sally Cragin: I’m childfree, but I wholeheartedly support exposing children to nature as soon as possible. This lovely article not only promotes an Earth-friendly approach to using natural items in crafts, but includes a number of how-tos on some very simple creations that can be fun for kids and grown-ups alike!

Overall, this is a great collection. Some of the essays are more 101-level, so this would be an excellent choice for a newbie, but there are some interesting things for the more advanced as well.

Five pawprints out of five.

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The Great Shift edited by Martine Vallee

The Great Shift: Co-Creating a New World for 2012 and Beyond
Edited by Martine Vallee
Weiser, 2009
256 pages

As 2012 approaches, it’s becoming a hotter topic. Just what will occur? Are we all doomed, or will absolutely nothing out of the ordinary happen? I suppose I should preface this review by saying that I don’t believe in the 2012 mythos, that significant events happen every day that are completely unrelated, and that I don’t take channelled texts literally–I don’t believe they’re more than the writer “channelling” some part of their mind not normally used. If you compare the results of channelling with the culture of the channeller, you see a lot of cultural similarities. So my approach to this anthology of channelled writings about 2012 is already biased.

The book is divided into three parts, one apiece for Lee Carroll “channelling” Kryon, Tom Kenyon “channelling” the Hathors and Mary Magdalen, and Patricia Cori “channelling” the High Council of Sirius. (Why doesn’t anyone ever channel anyone more boring?) About the only way I could take this book seriously was to look at it as purely a mythos, rather than a literal “we channelled this from beings who actually exist Somewhere Out There”. And in that light, there were actually some pieces of good advice that can essentially be summarized as:

–Take good care of your physical health and be aware of your body, instead of ignoring it until something goes seriously wrong
–Be good to yourself emotionally and mentally, and tend to your health there
–Be kind to other people; there’s enough nastiness in the world that needs balancing out

These are quite applicable pieces of advice in these times, and the writers often provide some really useful insights on how to accomplish these things. Western cultures, especially the dominant culture in the U.S., tend to lack interconnection and awareness, and I found some nice reminders to reach out to others, and to reach within myself as well.

Unfortunately, it’s couched in a lot of New Age material, including (of course) crystal skulls and Egypt, and star beings and not-at-all-vicious-as-in-the-Bible-angels. Because of this, I found myself twitching a good bit of the time I was reading. Still, to each their own. If you have more tolerance for New Age material, you’ll have an easier time with the book; even if you don’t, feel free to glean whatever’s useful from it.

Two and a half pawprints out of five.

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Ecopsychology edited by Roszak, Gomes and Kanner

Ecopsychology: Restoring the Earth, Healing the Mind
Edited by Theodore Roszak, Mary E. Gomes and Allen D. Kanner
Sierra Club Books, 1995
334 pages

So you might wonder why I’m reviewing a book on psychology here. It’s not just because there’s an essay on ecopsychology and shamanism in it (though that’s a definite talking point). Rather, it’s because (outside of neopaganism) ecopsychology is the closest thing to animism that the dominant culture in the U.S. has at this point. I found numerous parallels between this book and my own beliefs as a pagan and (neo)shaman, and I think that any pagan who has animistic beliefs and/or has a commitment to the world around them (environmental or otherwise) should take a good, long read of this book.

One of the editors, Theodore Roszak, coined the term “ecopsycholoy” in his 1992 book The Voice of the Earth (which is on my want list). This anthology is a continuation of that current. It contains over twenty essays from therapists, ecologists, and other folks on the psychology of connection with the world around us–and seeing ourselves as a part of that world, not separate from it. I’m not going to go through every single essay; I will say that I enjoyed every single one–this is a very solid collection. I do want to highlight a few of the themes covered:

–Ecopsychology as a way to make the boundaries between Self and Other more permeable, but not to the point of the complete dissolution of Self. One of our biggest problems is that we’re too independent, to the point of ill health on numerous levels. Ecopsychology finds healthy balances that address both the needs of Self and of Other.

–Another theme, related to that, is ridding ourselves of our hangup on dualities–for example, not assuming that reducing the rigidity of one’s boundaries of Self will automatically result in a complete loss of Self. Instead, ecopsychology promotes a different way of looking at the world.

–Social issues are another theme. Ecopsychology is brought into conjunction with feminist theory in a few of the essays. The domination and controlling headspace of men enacted towards women is directly linked to the domination and control of the natural environment by humanity, particularly in the Western world. Additionally, there’s a brilliant essay on confronting racial issues in ecopsychology, as well as the concept of “deconstructing whiteness” and what that means for psychology and ecology.

–The current destruction of the natural environment is explored as being the result of pathologies, to include addiction and narcissistic personality disorder. These are some of the most powerful essays in the collection, and as they’re early on, they’re a hard-hitting opener.

There’s plenty more to this meaty text. For pagans, there’s plenty to chew on. Besides the parallels between ecopsychology and animism, and approaching the world as an interconnected whole populated by spirits, deities, and a living Earth, there’s also a neat essay about combining core shamanism and ecopsychological practice. And one of the essays delves deeply into indigenous shamanisms and what the author brought out of an experience halfway around the world from where he lived.

This is not an easy text to read, and not just for the writing style. It thoroughly challenges many of our assumptions about how the world is put together, and how we as humans (especially those of us in Western cultures) approach it. If you feel like it’ll be preaching to the choir, read it anyway. If you think it isn’t relevant to anything in your life, read it anyway. And if you think you’ll disagree with every bit of it–you got it, read it anyway. There aren’t that many books that I would consider absolute required reading for neopagan folk, but this is one of them.

Five pawprints out of five.

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Earthway – Mary Summer Rain – September BBBR

Earthway: A Native American Visionary’s Path to Total Mind, Body and Spirit Health
Mary Summer Rain
Pocket Books, 1990
442 pages

Oops, almost missed this month–grad school has me exceptionally busy. But here it is, the Bargain Bin Book Review for September! I’ll admit, this is the very first book by Mary Summer Rain I’ve ever read. I’ve heard the praise and complaints about her work, but I wanted to find out for myself what the fuss is all about. Some people absolutely love her work, and some hate what they consider to be some of the worst plastic shamanism.

I’m afraid I’ll have to opt in with the latter group. Right off the bat, I was cringing from the pidgin English that “No-eyes”, Rain’s supposed mentor, was stuck with–“Nope, it just be fact”, from p. 26, is just one example. I’m guessing No-eyes is up there with don Juan Matus for being a fictionalized Indian presented as a flesh and blood human being. Trying to buy legitimacy with a made-up mentor = points off your final review.

This is subtitled “a Native American visionary’s path”. I found a hodgepodge of information from a variety of sources, including a ton of Western medicine, with some totem animals and other correspondences thrown in. There’s New Age dream interpretation material, to include a whole bunch of 20th century elements that wouldn’t have been a part of any traditional Native American culture. There’s what’s supposedly Anasazi astrology. And there’s a whole lot of medical advice being dispensed by someone who, to my understanding, isn’t a medical professional. Extra points taken off for an utter and complete lack of a bibliography or other notations of source material.

I can’t, in good conscience, recommend this book to anyone, either as a guide to healthy living, or indigenous spiritual and cultural practices–really for anything except as an object lesson in plastic shamanism. Now I see why so many people complain about this author’s work. This is some of the worst of the worst.

One pawprint out of five.

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The Shamanic Drum – Michael Drake

The Shamanic Drum: A Guide to Sacred Drumming
Michael Drake
Talking Drum Publications, 1991
100 pages

If you’re not a fan of core shamanism, you probably won’t like this book. It’s heavily based on material from Harner’s The Way of the Shaman and derivative works. I tried to keep in mind that when it was written back in 1991, there wasn’t nearly as much practical information on neoshamanism as there is now, and most of it was core shamanism. There is a revised edition as of 2002, which has more material; however, as I have not read that edition yet. So be aware that this review is for the original edition.

That being said, I have some things I like about this book, and some things I’m not so crazy about.

    Likes

–Drake definitely knows his drums. His information on drum care is spot-on. This bit of practical information is quite valuable if this is your first book on drumming.
–He also has obviously done practical work; this is a book based on experience, not just a bit of theorizing and making things up to fill the pages. If the things I dislike below don’t particularly bother you, you may find this to be an excellent text to work from, as it covers everything from the cosmonology of the drum, to different drumming rites and practices you can engage in.
–Endnotes! There are Endnotes! Which means you can see where Drake got some of his third-party information. While he doesn’t provide endnotes for every bit of information that didn’t come from his head, what is there gives you a decent idea of his source material.
–There’s a good deal of environmentally-friendly information in this book, so it’s not all about the humans. It’s a healthy reminder of the good things this material can be used for, and I applaud it.

    Dislikes

–The book treats journeying as though it were safe: “Remember that nothing can harm you on your journeys without your permission” (p. 42)
–Chakras are mixed in, without the explanation that they are specifically from Hinduism, not any shamanic culture (this is very common in New Age writings, unfortunately). The same goes for other New Age concepts that are mixed in with the material.
–Native American cultures are given the “noble savage” treatment: “We are drawn to Native American teachings because they are so pure and harmonious…When your heartbeat is one with the Earth’s, you may begin to look, feel and act much like traditional Native Americans, for they too resonate with her” (p. 77) There are also several generalizations about “shamanic cultures” throughout the book that are not particularly universal, and some of which have a very Western approach.

My biases being what they are, I do admit that as a concise guide to core shamanic drumming, this one’s pretty good. I’m split about 50-50 on my likes and dislikes. Again, I haven’t seen the newer edition, so you may want to give that one a try; some of the issues above may or may not have been addressed (for example, the new edition has an appendix on the American Indian Religious Freedom Act). On the other hand, if the new book is just an expansion of the same general material, you may want to keep this review in mind. If I get ahold of the new edition, I’ll give it a separate review.

Two and a half pawprints out of five.

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Shamanic Egg Cleansings – Kalyn Raphael

Shamanic Egg Cleansings: A Traditional Healing Technique of Mesoamerican Shamans
Kalyn Raphael
Lightwurks, LLC Publishing, 2003
131 pages

I forget exactly where I first heard about this little small press book, but it was one of those things that made me intensely curious, so I picked up a copy. While there are plenty of general books on shamanic practice, it’s good to see more specialized topics being covered as well, and this is the only book I know of that covers this particular form of healing from a practical perspective in detail.

As the title suggests, the book is dedicated solely to how to perform an egg cleansing ceremony for the purposes of healing a client, as well as various considerations to keep in mind for preparation, execution, and aftercare. The author describes a few different ways to do the ritual, including her preferred method as well as that of her mentor. She also talks about the trappings of the ritual and whether they’re necessary or not, how to cleanse the client on different levels of the self, and what to do if a client begins to react badly, especially at a first cleansing. Additionally, there’s information on how to do divination using the eggs post-cleanse.

I have to give this book big props for addressing and poking holes in the idea that illnesses are all the fault of the people who have them, or that they’re all some karmic debt being repaid. While the author does say that these things are possible, she also says that it’s not the healer’s role to make that judgement, and that the judgement can adversely affect the cleansing.

I do wish the author had gone into more detail on some aspects; there were several questions left unanswered (unless I happened to miss them while reading). For one thing, does the egg need to be fresh? Might a rotten one attract similar energy? Can the egg be disposed of in a compost bin so that the natural processes of decay may dissipate the impurities? There were also several places where I felt the author could have gone into more detail on the process; while the body map portion, for example, was covered in great detail, there were other sections that only warranted a paragraph or two. More anecdotes would have been helpful, even if the clients were kept completely anonymous.

Additionally, the subtitle is misleading. I would have preferred if the author had differentiated between what aspects of the book were traditional to specific tribes’ practices, and which were New Age. Some are obviously New Age imports, such as archangels, chakras and auras. However, it would have been nice to know which parts came from indigenous sources, and which were later additions by her or other practitioners. It’s not that the system isn’t effective, but I tend to support being more clear about cultural origins, especially when the system is claimed to be “traditional Mesoamerican”. There was no bibliography or other source material, or even recommended reading for such things as the chakras.

Because of my qualms I considered giving this book a lower rating. However, as a workable text I enjoyed it quite a bit, and I really was glad to see something new (to the publishing world, anyway) being written about. Granted, it’s been around since 2003, but I’ve not seen anything like it. So I’ll simply suggest that if the author does a later edition that she A) expand the material in more detail, and B) be more clear about what’s traditional and what isn’t.

Four pawprints out of five.

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The Women’s Book of Healing – Diane Stein

The Women’s Book of Healing (Revised Edition)
Diane Stein
Ten Speed Press, 2004
313 pages

Note: This review was originally written in 2005; I’m not 100% sure whether it got published or not, since it’s rather on the long side.

This book came into my life right when it was exactly what I needed. I’d been beginning a process of correcting internal imbalances, everything from emotional upsets to shifting my diet to compensate for my recently-diagnosed hypoglycemia. While traditional medicine offered a standard set of ideas to aid me in my quest for a healthier self, Stein’s book gave me an alternative healing path to work with. Thanks to the information conveyed it’s a path for which now I possess a greater understanding and appreciation.

First published in 1984, The Women’s Book of Healing is easily as relevant now as it was twenty years ago. It’s an excellent reference for those interested in natural healing methods ranging from chakra adjustments to the use of stones in healing to laying on of hands. Each chapter explains its subject clearly and thoroughly, often pulling reference from complementary chapters to enhance the healing regimen offered. This valuable material is summarized by tables of correspondences that punctuate the text.

I found the interweaving of the chapters to be particularly useful; rather than being separate entities they flow together very well and the information from each can be combined with ease. Most of the time, however, Stein includes the pertinent information in regards to the requisite colors, minerals and other correspondences when describing each specific area of healing. She eliminates much of the jumping back and forth from chapter to chapter that so many other reference books require—if I want to work with my root chakra, for example, I need only to turn to that section. Not only do I have its basic qualities but also what colors, minerals and other tools I’ll need to perform my work.

She’s also very thorough about her information. When I first started reading I’d had the desire to work with chakras, but had no previous experience or knowledge to work with. The second chapter goes into what each of the seven primary chakras represents, drawing both from classic and modern texts. Stein also details the effects of imbalances of the chakras—not only when they’re not open enough, but also when they’re open too wide, a condition I’d not even known existed. Finally, she offers up meditations useful in adjusting the chakras to a healthy end.

Stein is particularly adept at recommending mineral allies for each area of the body, mind and spirit covered. She describes not only what corresponds to each stone in her healing toolkit but also what ailments each stone is best at counteracting. In some instances there’s even advice on what time of day to best work with the stones so as to gain the best possible use of their qualities. In fact, the second half of the book is dedicated to this valuable topic, though the other chapters have strategically placed references.

I found the recurring theme of using our mindsets to aid the healing to be a very important one. Too often we sabotage our own efforts by second-guessing and doubting our abilities to create change on a non-visible level, thereby negating whatever effort we’ve put towards healing ourselves and often worsening the condition. Stein makes the concept of healing through thought understandable and her consistent use of meditation throughout the book backs up her confidence in its ability to destroy our dis-eases. Her explanation of healing on a molecular level further bolsters the ability to believe that which cannot be seen but nonetheless is.

While the primary portion of the book is well worth the read the appendices are superb references at short notice. With these Stein has successfully summarized all of the information she’s passed on in the previous chapters, making it an invaluable reference. Reading the entire book, of course, is recommended. It’s not a difficult task, as Stein’s writing style is wonderfully conversational, easy to understand, and yet conveys the information without skimping on the important details. I honestly came away from this book with no questions about just what it was she was trying to explain.

If there’s only one complaint I have about The Women’s Book of Healing it’s the fairly negative treatment of Western medicine and way she often seems to blame its inadequacy solely on the male sex. While in her preface Stein extols the virtues of equality she constantly maligns “male medicine”. I find this to be a great disservice not only to the men who have been involved in alternative healing for far longer than she gives them credit for but to people of all sexes who have made great progress in the field of Western medicine. Rather than perpetuating the dichotomy of conflict that continually puts both forms of healing at odds, I believe it’s much more constructive and beneficial in the long run to find ways for these medicines to complement each other.

Indeed, Stein’s superb writing is an excellent reference whether used alone or in tandem with traditional medicine. My complaint is primarily stylistic, and I can say from experience that the information provided has proven incredibly useful in aiding my self-healing. I recommend that both novice and experienced healers add The Women’s Book of Healing to their shelves. It has been a valuable resource for the past two decades and promises to be just as relevant in years to come.

Four pawprints out of five.

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The Book of Shamanic Healing – Kristin Madden – February BBBR

The Book of Shamanic Healing
Kristin Madden
Llewellyn, 2002
230 pages

I’m always happy when I get a Bargain Bin Book that gets a good review. I’m of the mind that just because a book isn’t bright, shiny and new, or even in print any more, that it isn’t necessarily worse than what’s currently enjoying fifteen minutes of shelf time at the local big box bookstore. The Book of Shamanic Healing, which first came out over half a decade ago, is definitely a great read, and shouldn’t be overlooked despite its age.

This is not a complete book on shamanism, and it’s neoshamanism (although the author was raised with traditional shamanism in her family, which does add to her perspective). What it is, is a wonderfully thorough guide specifically on what the title says–shamanic healing. If you don’t have a basic understanding of shamanism in general, you’d do well to set this book aside for the moment and read a few 101 books. Then, come back to this awesome text, and give it a go.

Madden does a wonderful job of covering a variety of techniques and tools that the shaman may use in healing patients. From energy work and crystals, to dreams and stories, and even a really good chapter on drumming as a healing tool, she offers the reader a wealth of information. Her first chapter brings us into the material by reminding us of the humbling concept that we ourselves have been and may still be wounded, and this vulnerability and experience may be one of the most valuable tools we have as healers. And she adds in a highly commendable chapter on healing through one’s own creativity.

What really sets this book apart from a lot of modern neoshamanic texts is its practicality and groundedness. You won’t get made-up “real live Indian!” teachers and gurus used to try to add validity to Madden’s teachings. Nor will you get a long ego-ridden ramble about just how great the author is. Rather, she offers her own experiences to punctuate what is a great text on the very practical, everyday considerations of having a healing practice. She reminds us of the importance of coming into a healing with a clear mind and a clear location, that not every healing will go perfectly, and she thinks of a lot of small details that might get overlooked otherwise. In short, it’s quite apparent that she’s done the work and been in the trenches herself.

She doesn’t really go into potential dangers of healing too much beyond protecting yourself from the illness you are extracting. Nor does she mention much about barriers and issues in things like soul retrieval where things may not go as planned. There’s very little about working with spirits, and considering some illnesses may be caused by malevolent beings, one would do well to not consider this quite a complete guide to shamanic healing. However, that being said, this is still a very valuable text for any shaman, especially those who may be working for those beyond their immediate family, to have on hir shelf. I know that when the time comes for me to start training as a healer, this will be an important book for me.

Four and a half pawprints out of five.

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