by ELIA WISE
reviewed by Steve McCardell
author, The Merlin Interview
It's easy enough to see: with a Neale Donald Walsch endorsement, a catchy design, and yes, the perfect title for its market, this baby is gonna sell, sell, sell! But those who've been burned in the past in judging a book by its cover needn't fear this little gem; its content puts the cover to shame.
If Ms. Wise was ever advised to not try pleasing all the people, she apparently didn't listen. This book has something for any reader, and on nearly every page. It is refreshing in its simple approach, so a rookie seeker should be able to follow; yet for those well versed in esoteric study, there is a surprising number of uncommon insights. For the skeptic, there is ample reference to science as we know it; for the believer, this acts to confirm.
If there is any imbalance to the approach, the book's logical progression from a simple foundation - that everything is energy in varying states of manifestation and consciousness - may suit the more left-brained among us. But that is likely a redundancy: a book by nature generally serves the intellect, for the intuition is more experiential. The fact is, with her successful analogies and a beautifully described dance of "How Things Came to Be," Ms. Wise has created a home for the more intuitive and artistic. Meanwhile, the overall logic to such matters helps create a language bridge between the left and right sides of the brain. Ms. Wise is indeed aiming us toward unity.
From the touching elegance of an introductory letter to her daughter (which will no doubt become much discussed) to the accessible explanations of such fundamental processes as magnetics (sure to delight readers of the Kryon series and the teachings of the mystery schools), Letter to Earth offers a broad and solid foundation from which to test later reading. And by teaching on subjects such as the "vibrational and magnetic intelligence inherent to all energy," the author gives power, showing not only how are lives have developed, but also how to further choose experience, how to reinvent our world.
That process, dear reader, is how you've come upon this review; and if I might wish a blessing into your life, this is how you'll come to the book itself - for when the student is ready, it seems that the book will appear.
Elia Wise will be in Seattle at Barnes and Noble's University Village store at 7:00 p.m. on February 8 for an in-depth discussion followed by a book signing.
A SACRED PRIMER
The Essential Guide to Quiet Time and Prayer
by ELIZABETH HARPER NEELD, Ph.D.
reviewed by Margaret Doyle
Elizabeth Harper Neeld describes her purpose in writing A Sacred Primer as a "personal mission to share the marvelous, majestic, mysterious experience of living life." She has determined that a daily spiritual practice is the key to living close to the bone, to living right here, right now, with meaning and connection.
Making the distinction between spiritual life and the ofttimes "stifling, threatening and haranguing" qualities of religion as we've known it, she says, "Religious activities and a sacred connection are not synonymous." Neeld cites the universal desire for meaning that encompasses all cultures and transcends all religions: "People everywhere know God accompanies them in the darkest of places and dances with them when the day turns light."
Pollster George Barna, in The Index of Leading Spiritual Indicators, describes "an emerging, personalized form of faith that minimizes rules and absolutes," and reports that one-third of the U.S. population in 1995 had experienced "a religious or mystical experience that brought a feeling of great peace or a conviction that love underlies all things."
After a discussion of the semantics of prayer and God, Neeld examines the sacred moments, unique in their profundity and vision, that she and others have experienced. "It is an intangible yet undeniable characteristic of human life - our ability to connect with Something Other." She quotes Einstein, who said that a sense of wonder and a passion for comprehension are the two motives that support genuine thinking. As Beethoven put it, "The spiritual life will never be centered on rock-hard, incontrovertible proof that convinces all people at all times."'
Neeld arrives at the conclusion that spiritual practice, through stillness and quiet, can bring meaning and integrity to anyone's life through "visiting the place where love and our best self reside." She has a wide-ranging source of references throughout her book, and in this discussion of stillness, she quotes from the Kabbalah: "Solitude is the domain of the soul, and the soul is the portion of God that reigns in our bodies."
Neeld then goes on to quote Mother Teresa of Calcutta: "The more we receive in silent prayer, the more we can give in active life. We need to find God, and God can't be found in noise and restlessness. We need silence to touch souls."
The establishment of daily spiritual practice in our busier-than-thou world means a commitment to answering the hunger for a quiet time and space for the soul to visit itself; a commitment outside of obligation, threat, or fear. This habit can be formed by identifying a "gateway" to quietude (driving to work, sketching, gardening, rocking the baby, or looking quietly out the window), by achieving stillness through focus, and by then communicating with the soul, the better self, the Higher Other. (The brave may call this God.) "We have to create it, to arrange the location, the environment, the absence of commotion in which this reality, stillness, can occur."
Tools for this gateway may be as diverse as an identified locale or a roving altar such as a wire basket or a zippered pouch containing tangible signals such as journals, candles, or bells. Neeld cites different ways of attaining stillness: a chanted word or phrase, a centering prayer such as the Our Father, or concentration upon one's breathing.
Having attained this quietude ("like a clock during a thunderstorm"), the moment for prayer, for communication, has arrived, be it in the form of praise, chanting, petition, gratitude, or any other sense of speaking or listening. With this quietude, one can "examine the unexamined givens that determine the shape" of one's days.
Commitment to spiritual practice can become as strong and necessary as the need for coffee or a shave or putting on one's glasses, an internal "waking up" that is prerequisite to carrying out the demands of the day.
Beyond the traditionally perceived outcomes of the granting or denial of intercessory prayer, Neeld describes alternative outcomes to prayer, such as presenting new possibilities, a change in focus, persistence and strength, and the recognition of "ordinary" miracles. She suggest that habitual spiritual practice provides critical "research" for life as a daily personal adventure, research that provides the reflection, strength, counsel, and inspiration to live our own best true adventure.
With daily prayer/meditation/quietude, or whatever else comes under the definition of spiritual practice, Neeld identifies four universal results: strength, presence of the divine, counsel, and a sense of connectedness with love, forgiveness, and support. Any one of these would help as we attempt to sustain our best selves in life's daily troubles. Neeld says simply, "Prayer changes us. And by changing us, prayer changes the world."
COMING OUT SPIRITUALLY
The Next Step
by CHRISTIAN DE LA HUERTA
reviewed by G. W. Hardin, author, The Messengers; On the Wings of Heaven
When a vanguard piece of work comes forth, the soul knows it. The words stir the emotions and awaken the psyche with a sense of excitement. Such is the case when reading Christian de la Huerta's Coming Out Spiritually. Like the ideal relationship, it is filled with unconditional love for any and all who seek spiritual direction.
One might first be tempted, and incorrectly so, to categorize this creative effort as intended for "queer people," as de la Huerta calls them, but that's not necessarily so, for the author performs a very delicate and successful dance throughout his book. He not only embraces all religions, giving spiritual exercises and references for the different disciplines, but he also operates in an inclusive consciousness, benefiting all.
If you've ever wanted to understand a different spiritual side of yourself, whether you're gay or straight, this book is mind-expanding. Two of the most poignant parts of the book occur when Christian immerses himself in the story anecdotally, where he confronts the United Religions International (URI) world gathering, asking them to address religious intolerance, and specifically homophobia, within their own traditions.
This is not a man writing an academic treatise on gay spirituality. De la Huerta is a voice to be reckoned with, whether in the halls of great institutions or the clutter of back streets. The author is also the founder of Q-Spirit, an organization dedicated to educating people about the benefits and concerns of gay spirituality.
Before writing this review, I had the opportunity of sitting with the author over lunch and finding out how "real" he is. I can thankfully tell you this man walks his talk. His love for all is more than words on paper. He wears his compassion and openness like a rich garment, and this nurturing nature is reflected in the ten spiritual archetypes he addresses on his printed pages.
If you are a person who can embrace both your masculine and feminine sides, or you have friends who are gay or lesbian, or have family members who live a bisexual lifestyle, then do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of this book. You will find a different side of yourself and your friends you never knew existed. The ten queer spiritual archetypes, which serve as the foundation of the book, explain why transgendered folk are so talented, so blessed and capable of blessing others, and so instrumental in societal changes throughout history.
If nothing else, get a copy of this book into the hands of any gay teens you might know. The statistics screaming the tragedy of gay-teen suicide are legendary. Every high school in America should have this book prominently displayed in a library. It is lifesaving, with its affirmation and empowerment of queer people and its positive embrace of village - rather than ghetto - culture.
Equally important, the book reaches out to the entirety of spiritual disciplines, whether Wiccan, Islamic, or Buddhist, inciting them to recognize what their sacred texts already declare: that there are many rooms in the house of the Divine. Let us sit at table together and partake of the fruits of compassion, diversity, and human embrace.
RIDING THE TIDE OF CHANGE
Preparing for Personal & Planetary Transformation
by MARTIN F. LUTHKE, Ph.D.
reviewed by Cecilia Siel, Vision Quest Books
In this time of acceleration of information, experiences, and extremes, it is apparent that the earth is changing. Many people are looking for an easy-to-read reference book to help them prepare for the unknown. Martin Luthke, a clinical psychologist, has met that need both from the spiritual and the practical sides. Riding the Tide of Change addresses a wide range of related topics in short, precise chapters.
Luthke's attitude about predictions for the earth is that something is definitely happening. He lists some of the facts and predictions, but draws no conclusions other than saying that "we can safely predict that the time of business as usual is running out and massive changes on many levels are inevitable."
To help our understanding of this time period, Luthke reminds us of the fundamental premises concerning reality and the physics of our dimension. Included are short descriptions of the human body, chakras, the higher self, and a definition of karma. With this foundation, he then addresses free will and its connection to this time in history.
He states that soul growth is why we came here, and that the higher self chose to balance karmic debts and quicken its growth during this time of accelerated change. In other words, we can learn faster during this time period because we are connected to the earth's energy field. We can choose to align with the accelerated flow and benefit from the changes.
Preparation is covered from several perspectives: maintaining helpful mental attitudes, learning useful skills, and meeting physical needs. Luthke's survival skills center on healing techniques, meditation, manifesting, and more. On the mental level, he instills the idea of flowing with the change and using it to develop spiritually. In the book's appendix are the physical conditions that need to be met in preparing for a loss of utilities and services, both short and long term. Included is a list of companies that carry related products and books on practical survival information.
Riding the Tide of Change is a good resource for those with the question, "How do I prepare?" It is positive in its approach and practical in its information. Luthke feels that change is happening and we have two choices: "embracing change and actively pursuing it (expansion) or resisting change and trying to stem the tide (contraction)." After reading his book, it was obvious to me that riding the tide is the way to go.
IMAGINE A WOMAN IN LOVE WITH HERSELF
Embracing Your Wisdom and Wholeness
by PATRICIA LYNN REILLY
reviewed by Arlene Arnold
Patricia Lynn Reilly expresses the heart of her book within the introduction. I quote it here because it so aptly describes her work: "Imagine a Woman in Love with Herself is based on twenty stanzas of my popular poem, 'Imagine a Woman.' The book expresses the heart of my fifteen-year ministry supporting women to author their own lives, to name their own gods, and to grow in knowledge and love of themselves. Each chapter starts with a stanza of the poem and is followed by a series of woman-affirming reflections and meditations meant to carry you into your day...into your life."
I was first intrigued by the title Imagine a Woman in Love with Herself. Then I was struck by the beauty and loving energy of the cover. As I read the words, I felt the affirming power within its pages. Its tenor and intent reminds me of the ever-popular Circle of Stones by Judith Duerk, which was recently re-released in its tenth anniversary edition by Innisfree Press. Both of these books encourage women to release the confining images and limiting beliefs they have held about themselves. They are encouraged to fully claim their beauty in all its forms; their talent, whatever it may be; and their worthiness on all levels. Patricia says, "Our beloved planet is in desperate need of women who have moved from self-loathing to self-love, from self-criticism to self-celebration. Women who design woman-affirming solutions to the challenges confronting humankind as it enters the twenty-first century."
This is a book that needs to be read and experienced over a period of time. One might read it through first to experience its powerful whole, and then return to follow the suggestions, meditations, and exercises in each chapter. I would especially suggest experiencing it in a group; I feel that much healing would come to women in such a group.
I highly recommend Imagine a Woman in Love with Herself for any woman who is open, expanding, and reaching for the highest within herself. Women, don't miss this tribute to you. Don't miss this opportunity to breathe in the truth of who you are.
Elements of Hindu Devotion
by STEPHEN P. HUYLER
Yale University Press
reviewed by Karuna Poole
When individuals enter the presence of pure spiritual energy, tears often begin to pour down their faces. The first time I traveled to India, I cried the entire trip, and for six months thereafter. The tears are tears of recognition, tears of longing, tears of joy. While I have journeyed to India many times since that first trip, the intensity of my first reaction has long since faded.
I was quite shocked, therefore, when I burst into tears when first flipping through the pages of Stephen Huyler's new book, Meeting God: Elements of Hindu Devotion. My heart filled with the pain of longing. Huyler has done a masterful job of capturing the spirit of India. His photographs and text show how thoroughly spirituality is integrated into every facet of Hindu life, regardless of whether an individual is the poorest of the poor or the richest of the rich.
One of the strengths of the book is that Huyler, who is an art historian and a cultural anthropologist, approached this project not only as a witness of the process but also as a participant. He has traveled extensively in India during the last 28 years, and has deeply experienced many levels of the rituals he is documenting.
While, in my mind, the photographs are the greatest strength of the book, the text is also immensely valuable. He explains the meaning behind many of the rituals I have witnessed over the years. He invites us into celebrations in private homes and in the community. We are given insight into pilgrimages, religious holidays, and temple worship. He examines the changing role of spirituality throughout the life span of a Hindu devotee.
I was surprised that Huyler chose not to address the role of the guru in the Hindu religious process. He mentioned the word a few times, but there was no discussion of that particular path. Regardless, I believe that Huyler has produced a masterpiece. It is unlikely that the book will assuage the fears of those who are adamantly opposed to Eastern religious processes, such as idol worship or the concept of many gods and goddesses, but it will be an excellent resource for those of us who are sincerely curious and interested in a society that makes spiritual process the core of life itself.
THE MAGIC OF MESS PAINTING
The Creativity Mobilization Technique
by VIRGINIA BARCLAY GOLDSTEIN
Trans-Hyperborean Institute of Science
This book is a powerful tool for taking you on a course of personal evolution. Discover, by using colorful paints, brushes and paper, increased self-knowledge, release of emotional distress, and the creativity within you.
POWER, EFFECTIVENESS & SPIRIT
A New Paradigm for Human Potential and the Practical Steps for Achieving It
by LYNN WOODLAND
Beaver's Pond Press
A user-friendly guide full of exercises to be used either personally or in groups to discover our limitless spiritual source of power, wisdom, and love. Learn to recognize the connections between inner state and outer reality.
THE WOMAN'S BOOK OF CREATIVITY
by C DIANE EALY, Ph.D.
Beyond Words/Celestial Arts
Through the simple activities, examples, and explanations that nourish the holistic creative process offered in this newly reprinted edition of her 1995 classic, Dr. Ealy invites women to embrace and nurture their inherent expressive talents, and to strive for free and active minds.
The Visions and Prophecies for the Second Coming
by JOHN HOGUE
This full-color, picture-filled, and exquisitely designed book is unique and thought provoking. From Buddha to Edgar Cayce to Jesus, Messiahs is a comprehensive examination of the signs and portents that support common messianic beliefs.
THE TAO OF ABUNDANCE
Eight Ancient Principles for Abundant Living
by LAURENCE G. BOLDT
This book explains how, by applying ancient Taoist wisdom and philosophy, you can make the practical life changes that will enable you to find a balance between societal demands and your own desires.