MAGIC MANDALA COLORING BOOK
Sacred Geometry for Awakening and Healing
by MARTHA BARTFELD
reviewed by Douglas S Johnson
"A twenty dollar coloring book?!" That might be the first reaction of many who have a mere surface encounter with Martha Bartfeld's Magic Mandala Coloring Book. But it must be said that this is no ordinary coloring book: no Garfield, Barbie, or Huckleberry Hound to be found in these pages, but rather, the stuff of deep therapy for the mind, body, and spirit. (On the other side of the coin, however, it must be noted that this is not a book merely for adults, but for children as well, and its uses extend beyond that of spiritual enlightenment. In fact, this reviewer is currently using it in conjunction with the Perceptual Skills Training I employ in the tutoring of learning-disabled children, and I am finding that it is a marvelous tool for combining the visual and kinesthetic aspects of learning and creating.)
What is the mandala, and why would one want to spend time coloring one? Simply put, the mandala (it's a Sanskrit word meaning "circle") is a more or less abstract drawing that symbolizes the wonder, order, complexity, and beauty of the cosmos. Mandalas are as diverse and varied as the universe itself (though they are always based in the circle), and in her "coloring book," Bartfeld has presented us with two hundred original drawings that await the awakening of our own chromatic creativity to bring them and ourselves fully into life. Peoples ranging from the Egyptians to the North American Indians have embraced the basic concept of the mandala, the portrayal of the whole body of God in a single work of rhythmically patterned art, and untold millions have learned of its powerful potential for awakening, relaxation, and healing.
Perhaps the best way to describe the Magic Mandala experience is to relate my own progress with it so far. I have, of late, embarked upon a de-stress program of herbal treatments, simplification of life, unstructured play, exercise, and prayer and meditation. I have found that the coloring of the mandala greatly enhances my ability to meditate and relax, as, done correctly, work with the mandala demands great introspection, patience, and what Eknath Easwaren (author of Take Your Time) refers to as "single-pointed" concentration.
There is a deep calming effect upon my mind and body as I question the hues (a set of twelve colored pencils is included with the book) and the shapes, asking them which belong together and then awaiting the answer. There is peace and order in the perfect geometry of the designs, and thus, like certain pieces of baroque music, the right mandala at the right time has the power to bring my whole being into a state of life-giving and life-affirming simplicity and tranquillity.
I have also found keys to my own nature in adding color to Bartfeld's mandalas. One mandala in particular has revealed to me that I must be a careful protector of my own light, that I do not feel safe exposing myself wantonly to the world, but rather must allow my gifts to come softly and subtly through conduits natural to my own unique constitution. It was freeing to learn this, to have it acknowledged right before my eyes in shape and color, as I have in the past felt selfish and guilty when I was not hurling all of my energies out into the world all at once, not recognizing the fact that such behavior compromises and cheats me and thus, in the end, cheats all those around me of the full effect of my slow but steady potential.
I was skeptical about the Magic Mandala Coloring Book when it first came into my hands, but I have since found that if I give myself to it, it has plenty to give to me in return. CHI GUNG Chinese Healing, Energy, and Natural Magick by L.V. CARNIE Llewellyn Publications $17.50 (softcover) reviewed by Kate Lin
Chinese Healing, Energy, and Natural Magick
by L.V. CARNIE
reviewed by Kate Lin
Seattle author Carnie has provided us with a lucid guidebook for understanding the practice of Chi Gung (pronounced "chee goong"). Chi Gung (also known as Chi Kung or Qigong, and other permutations) comes from China and is a system for developing the energy in your body. By balancing the chi (life force) that is within your body, you can achieve physical, mental, and spiritual health. Chi travels along a series of channels called meridians and vessels, and is also found in chi cavities (corresponding to acupuncture points). When these areas are blocked, you are more likely to get sick. By learning to circulate your chi, you can prevent your chi cavities from getting blocked.
There are four basic ways to increase chi: Wai Dan, Nei Dan, acupuncture, and massage. This book focuses on Wai Dan and Nei Dan. Wai Dan involves contracting your muscles in a series of exercises. As a result of holding various postures, the chi builds up in your arms and legs and can then clear through any blockages in your body. According to Chinese statistics, eighty percent of the people who use Wai Dan can heal their bodies of medical problems. Chi Gung presents exercises, along with illustrations of the postures, for practicing Wai Dan.
Nei Dan is a more advanced practice in which you circulate chi by using your mind. In Nei Dan, breathing exercises are used to build up chi in the abdomen. After this, the chi can be circulated through the body using the mind. Exercises are presented to aid in learning Nei Dan, although it is recommended that an instructor be enlisted as well to help direct the flow of chi for you.
An important part of Chi Gung is learning to relax your mind, breath, and body. By learning to relax, you can increase your sensory awareness and can more easily get in touch with the subtleties of sensing chi. Both Nei Dan and Wai Dan use specific breathing techniques to influence the amount of chi in your body.
Once the basics are described, Carnie elaborates on various activities that can be used to enhance one's understanding of chi, both from the perspective of Wai Dan and of Nei Dan. I was captivated by this part of the book because of the wide range of interesting applications that are discussed. As an example, Carnie discusses learning to absorb chi from water so that you can swim underwater longer before having to surface for air. Other examples include learning to hear sounds by detecting the different speeds at which they vibrate, trying to influence the direction of a kite by sending chi along the string, or learning to identify different animals' chi.
The final section of the book focuses on more advanced levels of Chi Gung. Among the topics discussed include slowing down aging, moving objects with your mind, predicting the future, and reading people's spirits.
Chi Gung is an engaging account of how chi can be used to enhance our lives and help maximize our potential. As we increase our ability to sense and utilize chi, we increase our awareness of our environment, and, as a result, we live fuller lives. PAINTING FROM THE SOURCE Awakening the Artist's Soul in Everyone by AVIVA GOLD with ELENA OUMANO HarperPerennial $16 (softcover) reviewed by Walter A. McGerry, M.A.
PAINTING FROM THE SOURCE
Awakening the Artist's Soul in Everyone
by AVIVA GOLD with ELENA OUMANO
reviewed by Walter A. McGerry, M.A.
This book is a lot of fun. Aviva Gold knows that the dark side has to be permitted so that we can access full aliveness; so that our living can be full, whole, energized. She weaves a very readable outline of how and why to paint for process. In each section, there are illustrations from actual experience, and we can see the transformation in the painter through the examples. It is so important for people to understand that there is a process that is more whole or wholesome than how we typically live in this mass-media culture. Most people can't imagine this on their own; we need teachers like Gold who have had this experience of living, creating, and painting from what she calls the source, and she illustrates people actually having the experience of the unseen realms operating in their lives, in this case through painting.
This is important because we live in an ever more materialistic culture and people can forget that there is this other mystical, numinous experience. When we can have the experience of a nature that is outside our ego, our horizons are broadened. Other guidance comes to us from within. We have a true compass that we need no longer doubt. The author spells out how she and others have gotten there through process painting.
We should be careful to remember that this is an ancient ritualistic use of what we now call art. It has always belonged to a certain elite, whether honored or scorned. In the earlier years of this century, C. G. Jung worked to make it more accessible when he put something he called "active imagination" into play. If we keep all this in mind, we see that what Gold has done here is to add her voice to an ever-growing chorus of voices making this initiation into the mystery democratically available to our modern culture.
This book reminds me strongly of Paint, Life and Passion, by Michell Cassou and Stewart Cubley, following many of the ideas in that book almost exactly but from a different personality point of view. Gold is much looser and wilder in her approach. One of the things I appreciate about her is that she seems able to hold so much. She seems comfortable with so much expressiveness. The experience of what she calls the source is vividly described, and provides an accurate guide to finding it and staying focused on what that experience actually is.
The way she describes painting as a dialogue and as a relationship is so alive and vital. It is a dialogue in the truest sense of that word, in the sense of meaning moving through, meaning in movement; a dialogue with otherness that flows up from within. I also like that she points out that developing a tolerance of the inner otherness prepares us for the mystery of the otherness of friends and loved ones, prepares us to be truly open, accepting, and loving toward what emerges from the other.
She is also very grounded and practical, and gives you all you need to get to work. She describes carefully what supplies, materials, space, time, and resources you will need. Her appendix of supply resources, educational opportunities, and therapeutic help resources is excellent. This last can be important if process painting leads to buried issues that need psychotherapeutic support. She further includes an extensive and inspiring suggested reading list.
If you are interested in deepening your understanding of process orientation, if you want to paint or paint more freely, if you want access to creation, if you are looking for ways to deepen your own self-realization, or if you are a revolutionary at heart, you ought to read this book. A WITCH'S RUNES How to Make and Use Your Own Magick Stones by SUSAN SHEPPARD Citadel $12 (softcover) and MAGICK POTIONS How to Prepare and Use Homemade Oils, Aphrodisiacs, Brews and Much More by GERINA DUNWICH Citadel $12 (softcover) reviewed by Omnimion, a solitary Wiccan
A WITCH'S RUNES
How to Make and Use Your Own Magick Stones
by SUSAN SHEPPARD
How to Prepare and Use Homemade Oils, Aphrodisiacs, Brews and Much More
by GERINA DUNWICH
reviewed by Omnimion, a solitary Wiccan
A Witch's Runes is a fascinating book that shows anyone with even the most rudimentary artistic skills how to choose his or her own perfect stones, inscribe them with ancient, powerful rune symbols, purify them in moonlight, charge them with personal power and magickal intent, and use them in many spells and rites. I've used both store-bought runes and my own made under the tutelage of this fine book, and can say without hesitation that any magical divination or craft tool made by one's own hands is definitely more effective. Beautifully written, nicely illustrated, and straightforward in its approach, A Witch's Runes will enhance any magickal person's library.
Devoted entirely to the craft of potion making, Magick Potions is an in-depth grimoire (magician's handbook). Other books on Wicca and spellcraft tend to devote only a few pages to the study of potions, while this book covers the subject comprehensively. Having tried several of her recipes myself, I can vouch for their efficacy. This book is a must-have for all those seeking to have more control over the outcome in their daily lives. Of great interest are the chants and invocations that accompany the potions; overall the book is a very good read. LOST & FOUND Finding the Silver Linings in Life by JOHN A. JENSON Hyperion Press $12.95 (hardcover) reviewed by Douglas S Johnson
LOST & FOUND
Finding the Silver Linings in Life
by JOHN A. JENSON
reviewed by Douglas S Johnson
The German writer Rilke wrote that "we do not possess something until we have lost it." This seems a paradox, but the key to its resolution lies in the word "possess." Most of us think of "possessing" as holding a tangible thing in the hand, having it in physical proximity, or claiming it within the bounds of legal ownership. What Rilke meant by "possession" was something much deeper and more meaningful: namely, holding something in the lasting depths of memory and appreciation, even when, and especially when, it is no longer existent or available for us in the temporal realm.
Lost & Found is a physically slim volume that presents a wide variety of examples of this "holding the important things in life in the depths of memory and appreciation." Drawing on the wonder of everyday experiences with ordinary objects, places, and people, John A. Jenson has demonstrated that with every loss of material possession, there is the potential for a gain in wisdom, and that the ultimate benefit most often far outweighs the privation.
At one point in this small book, Jenson quotes Helen Keller as having written, "worse than being blind is being able to see but to have no vision." Lost & Found (less about finding silver linings than about recognizing the growth that is brought about by the rain) is much concerned with the inner "vision" of which Keller writes, which is, of course, ultimately the same as the "deep possession" indicated by Rilke. Indeed, one learns that the truly gifted at living have eyes that do much more than simply perceive the world that lies round about; rather, they take in light and form and then convert it into stuff for the heart, ephemeral experiences made into material for eternity.
So it is that the final challenge of such a book as this one is not merely learning to love and appreciate things and people once they are taken away by death or the ebb and flow of earthly circumstance (which is itself, unfortunately, a talent too few ever acquire). Rather, it is gaining the penetrating "vision," the real "possession" before there is death or loss, life's bitter and sobering dialectic counterpart. What the reader can ultimately take from Lost & Found is simple to state, but it is something that could take a lifetime to apply: the average person is temporally attached or physically "owns" the things and people in life, grieving for a moment when they are gone and then moving on to other things and people as greater or lesser replacements. Better than this, the superior person savors things and people when they are gone, knowing them in their essence, brought to a keener awareness of their unique and irreplaceable nature by their loss. Best of all, the poet, the visionary, and the saint love and savor all people and things while they are still present, while all is yet moving about in everyday life, when there is no drama or tragedy to draw the eyes toward the essence, toward the slow center of being only the quiet and too often hidden wonder of living itself. If this lesson can be learned and put to good use, there is hardly any other blessing for which one might pray. Lost & Found may aid the dutiful aspirant in doing just that. SACRED LEGACIES Healing Your Past and Creating a Positive Future by DENISE LINN Ballantine $23 (hardcover)
Healing Your Past and Creating a Positive Future
by DENISE LINN
Helps examine attitudes of your predecessors toward work, friendship, sex, money, health, and religion, showing how to correct negative patterns. THE POWER OF TWELVE Achieving 12-strand DNA Consciousness by ANNE BREWER SunShine Press Publications $19 (softcover)
THE POWER OF TWELVE
Achieving 12-strand DNA Consciousness
by ANNE BREWER
SunShine Press Publications
How the author increased skill levels and psychic abilities, released fear and guilt, and quickened her skills of manifesting. REMEMBER TOMORROW A Woman by CHARMAINE MANDELL Peanut Butter Publishing $20 (softcover)
A Woman's Companion
by CHARMAINE MANDELL
Peanut Butter Publishing
Stories of foster children's lives, their internal frustration and emotional chaos are the backdrop to the keys provided for reducing violence in society. CROOKED CUCUMBER The Life and Zen Teaching of Shunryu Suzuki by DAVID CHADWICK Broadway Books $36.95 (hardcover)
The Life and Zen Teaching of Shunryu Suzuki
by DAVID CHADWICK
Evokes the down-to-earth life of the spirit that goes beyond religion to reveal what it means to be fully human. RUNNING TO THE MOUNTAIN A Journey of Faith and Change by JON KATZ Random House $20 (hardcover)
RUNNING TO THE MOUNTAIN
A Journey of Faith and Change
by JON KATZ
Katz finds a way to redefine and lend new meaning to his life. PATH WITHOUT DESTINATION by SATISH KUMAR Eagle Brook $22 (hardcover)
PATH WITHOUT DESTINATION
by SATISH KUMAR
The spiritual autobiography of a remarkable person who, as a young man, began an eight-thousand-mile pilgrimage on foot for peace and has never stopped walking. HOME DESIGN WITH FENG SHUI A-Z by TERAH KATHRYN COLLINS Hay House, Inc. $19.95 (Hardcover)
HOME DESIGN WITH FENG SHUI A-Z
by TERAH KATHRYN COLLINS
Hay House, Inc.
A quick-reference guide that makes Feng Shui easily accessible to everyone! LESSONS OF THE FUTURE Thriving Today By Understanding Tomorrow by ANDREW DUGGAN and DAVID J. MURCOTT STS Publishing $9.95 (softcover)
LESSONS OF THE FUTURE
Thriving Today By Understanding Tomorrow
by ANDREW DUGGAN and DAVID J. MURCOTT
A simple yet intriguing parable that reveals a dynamic model for success in both business and life. 10 NATURAL REMEDIES THAT CAN SAVE YOUR LIFE by JAMES F. BALCH, M.D. Doubleday $19.95 (softcover)
10 NATURAL REMEDIES THAT CAN SAVE YOUR LIFE
by JAMES F. BALCH, M.D.
Ten simple ways to live a longer and healthier life, from the popular author of Prescription for Nutritional Healing. HARVESTING YOUR JOURNALS Writing Tools to Enhance Your Growth and Creativity by ROSALIE DEER HEART and ALISON STRICKLAND Heart Link Publications $15.95 (softcover)
HARVESTING YOUR JOURNALS
Writing Tools to Enhance Your Growth and Creativity
by ROSALIE DEER HEART and ALISON STRICKLAND
Heart Link Publications
Invent your future by revisiting your past. This is the first book for journal keepers yearning to take the next step. CIRCLE OF STONES Woman's Journey to Herself by JUDITH DUERK Innisfree Press, Inc. $13.95 (softcover)
CIRCLE OF STONES
Woman's Journey to Herself
by JUDITH DUERK
Innisfree Press, Inc.
A special tenth anniversary edition of a book that has been so dear to so many women. ONLINE reviewed by Elana Lindquist Unclaimed $$$$
reviewed by Elana Lindquist
Searchable databases from many states for unclaimed money!
Learn what you can do to help the people of Honduras. There is a critical need for everything, especially bedding.
Fun for you and your friends abounds on this multi-layered site. Be prepared to spend the evening!
Elegant Chinese brush paintings to soothe the soul and uplift the spirit.
Steve's Recovery Page
Read the courageous story of Steve and his recovery from narcotics addiction. Take time to also read the Gurus Anonymous; it may surprise you how many "gurus" you know.
Elana Lindquist publishes Fun with Success Online; sign up for her free newsletter at <http://www.seanet.com/~lindquist, e-mail <email@example.com>, or call (253) 858-7969. MUSIC reviewed by David A. Young TRAIL OF TEARS LEE JOHNSON Platinum Entertainment/Intersound Distribution
reviewed by David A. Young
TRAIL OF TEARS
Platinum Entertainment/Intersound Distribution
Southeast meets West mournfully. This album of highly evocative music, chants, and recitations is a soundtrack in every way, despite the fact that there's no movie related to it. The title and theme of the album concerns the 1838 relocation of the Cherokee tribe from their Georgia home to Oklahoma and other points west.
Through ten symphonic movements, Johnson (who sports an impressive multimedia résumé) communicates musically the heartbreaking sense of loss, grief, and betrayal that the people marching along the path must have felt. Perhaps missing in action are the so-called "negative" feelings of fear and anger that surely accompanied these people on their way, and while I'd appreciate hearing a more complete version of the story in some expanded concert version of this material, I'll grant that the flow of the CD is more focused for leaving it out.
Instead, there is a sense of hope and upliftment played straight, not for irony that underscores the work. Although the impression of sorrowful motion is downright palpable, there is too an unmistakable strength and beauty, which, I've determined after many listenings, addresses the faith and the deep inner peace of the Cherokee. That's why you'll hear no dirges here, and why the sense of forward movement, through all its twists and turns, leads to a sweet but ominous resolution in the final piece, "The Infinite One Remains." The Cherokee know and by the end of the album, the listener knows who's really in charge, governmental reassignment notwithstanding.
The story of the tribe's trek is told movingly in the thoughtfully designed booklet enclosed with the CD, and helps to conjure pictures to go with the very "visual" music. With just a bit of background, it's easy to get swept away with the drama of what's in the grooves; the album even reminds officemate Amanda (who also loves it) of the Last of the Mohicans soundtrack. For me, it brings to mind imagery sometimes apropos of the literal story being told, other times not of optimism in the face of oppression, a sense of self that rises above external circumstance.
"I look at this project as a cultural handshake between the Cherokee singing and chanting that are interspersed throughout the recording, and the Western European-derived instruments and traditional orchestral design," says Johnson. "We brought together the best of two worlds and so far both cultures have enjoyed the results." Make that "enjoyed and been moved by" in my case, and make Trail of Tears our album of the month.
(P.O. Box 1724, Roswell, GA 30077) THE HEALER Soothing Music for Those in Pain STELLA BENSON Stella Benson Music
THE HEALER'S WAY
Soothing Music for Those in Pain
Stella Benson Music
It would be interesting to know how it is that harp music came to be thought of as that of the angels. Whatever the reason, harps, in their many forms, seem to most unanimously invoke in people the feeling of "heavenly" music and the accompanying sensations of calm and ecstasy.
The Healer's Way builds upon our seemingly innate willingness to be nurtured by the musical embrace of the harp, and her claim that this is "healing music" is no egotistical grandiosity. Her decision to record this, her first album, is an outgrowth of the work she did incorporating playing for patients during her years as a hospice worker. Enough of them asked her to commit her gifts to a recording that she had to acknowledge that she had something that needed to be shared on a grander scale.
Not all of us are sick or close to death at this time, but who among us does not need healing? Not all of us can afford to have a harpist come to our bedside to play us into a much-needed state of relaxation and ease, but now we can have this gorgeous CD in our musical "medicine chest" for use anytime we need it.
The freeform, non-metered playing (there is no overdubbing or accompaniment) comes as close to a harp equivalent to the likes of, say, a George Winston as I've found. Building upon the "comfort" feeling universal to the harp, Benson employs deeply rooted influences and forms chant structures with Celtic undertones that further appeal to the subconscious, thereby facilitating the conscious connection to Spirit.
At least as important as her musical artistry is the obvious purity of Benson's intent. The love in her heart flows through her sensitive fingers, and as the strings of the harp are struck, they are imbued with her intention; as they vibrate, they refine and amplify it. The beauty of it is that this sacred process can be reactivated any time the CD is played, and you don't have to wait for Sunday night to feel "touched by an angel."
As current youth slang would have it, the highest praise that can be accorded something is, "It's the bomb." Forgive an old guy for appropriating this culture, but Stella Benson's music, for me at least, is the balm. Allow it a chance to touch you, too, and see if you don't experience healing as well.
(5828 Woodlawn N, Seattle, WA 98103) MYTHOS MYTHOS Higher Octave Music
Higher Octave Music
Creates the ancient yet timeless feeling of mysticism. Haunting vocals, warm acoustic guitar, and piano combine with tribal rhythms and Oriental tones. ALCHEMY SCOTT HUCKABAY Soundings of the Planet
Soundings of the Planet
The quest to turn the mystery of life into gold illuminates each beautiful and masterful guitar composition this sonic alchemist creates. MAIDEN OF MYSTERIES The Music of Enya THE TALIESIN ORCHESTRA Platinum Entertainment/Intersound
MAIDEN OF MYSTERIES
The Music of Enya
THE TALIESIN ORCHESTRA
Charles Sayre has created fresh interpretations of the atmospheric music of Enya, bringing listeners a dramatic approach to her wonderful compositions. ... SMILE THE HOPE BLISTER 4AD/Mammoth
... SMILE'S OK
THE HOPE BLISTER
4AD founder synthesizes that label's classic sounds (Cocteau Twins, Dead Can Dance, etc.) with the latest in otherworldly, impressionist atmospherics. The album consists entirely of cover versions of seminal others' (Eno, David Sylvian, etc.) songs; particularly memorable is the moody take on John Cale's immortal "Hanky Panky Nohow."