by DOUGLAS S JOHNSON
Prospect Press $14.95 (softcover)
reviewed by Kate Lin New Times book reviewer and author of the recent New Times series on depression, "Tales from the Dark Wood"
Douglas S Johnson has a new poetry book, Out of the Attic. His third poetry book, this volume includes an assortment of seventy poems written over a 15-year span. In his introduction, Johnson explains, "In Out of the Attic, I wish to take the opportunity to dust off some of my lost' verses and present them in a collected form so that, at last, they might clearly see the light of day."
Johnson writes with sensitivity, and provides us with a rich assortment of moods and styles. I've included various excerpts of his poetry to demonstrate some of the variety and flavor to be found in his book. Some poems are whimsical, as in "Three Poems for a Guinea Pig Named Ruthie":
My problem is they're rudders / For some enormous barge / Without these ears, I cannot hear, / But why are they so large?
Others are sensuous, as in "September":
And then he lovingly strokes / The last wet blackberries / From the niches of her thighs
Johnson creatively demonstrates his talent as wordsmith with several poems that emulate other poets' styles. Poets emulated include Dickinson, Whitman, Roethke, Donne, Li Po, and Rilke. In "Four in Imitation of Dickinson," Johnson writes:
To know the time / To know the end / To know the why / And then to rend / Oneself from life / And like a parting leaf / descend
Other poems are bittersweet, dreamy, contemplative, wistful, and hopeful, in addition to a fair share of love poems. Johnson provides rich imagery that is vivid and compelling. In "Train-Haunted Land," he writes:
I knew not then / I would awaken / With your wailing / Whistle / Blowing through / My brain, / Or that the wild, / Time-hungry pistons / Would be lodged / In the valves / Of my midnight heart
Johnson's sensitivity and thoughtfulness in contemplating everyday injustices can be seen in "The Little Dead," in which a mole is killed by dogs:
Do the little dead die / Any easier, / With any less agony, / With fewer frantic scrambles / For a life which slips away / Like water through / A worn-out sieve? / What honor has this / Little roll of rumpled rags / Ever known? / And now, out / With the morning garbage.
While reading the poems, I found myself wishing that I, too, could mold the stirrings of my heart into the tidy form of a poem. It made me want to spend time with my own poetry, to distill out the essence of an experience and capture it on paper. Johnson masterfully captures the magic of the moment and successfully gives the reader a taste of that magic, a handle on the intangible.
I hope I have provided enough examples of Johnson's poetry to give a small taste of the rich variety of moods, styles, and subjects that await readers of Out of the Attic. I haven't even quoted any of the love poems. Instead, I hand over the pleasure of discovery to the reader. Take your own journey into the lyrical and inspired musings found in Johnson's Out of the Attic.
ARCTURIAN SONGS OF THE MASTERS OF LIGHT Arcturian Star Chronicles, Vol. 4
by PATRICIA PEREIRA
Beyond Words Publishing $13.95 (softcover)
reviewed by R J Barnes
To enter the pages of Arcturian Songs of the Masters of Light is to embark upon a wonderful journey of magic and discovery. Leave the mundane world behind, and view the universe from a transcendent realm. Ride the starships of an ascended galactic civilization as they impart wisdom to those on Earth, whom they see poised on the brink of massive evolutionary transformation. See it through their eyes, but feel it in your heart. Fasten your seatbelts; this is a trip that you won't want to miss!
Patricia Pereira is a gifted author, who creates words that dance off the page and travel deep into your soul. She gently guides you into heightened awareness with her lyrical writing style. As a consciously aware multidimensional telepath, she teams up with her Arcturian partners from the Intergalactic Brotherhood of Light to produce books that are seeded with higher-dimensional frequencies and other treasures.
Arcturian Songs of the Masters of Light is the fourth (and final) volume of the Arcturian Star Chronicles series. Songs of the Arcturians (Volume 1) sold out rather quickly, but is being reprinted in conjunction with this latest release. The books are written in essay form, with a rhythm and use of imagery that the co-creators call "Songs" they sing to your soul. The books can be opened up in any place and read like "cosmic flash cards" because of the short-story style.
This latest volume gives up-to-date information regarding the transformational process that is underway on planet Earth. It paints the big-picture view of this event, while also illuminating the very personal drama that each of us is going through as we struggle to maintain balance and nurture spiritual growth during this massive shift.
Plain and simple, to open one's heart and embody unconditional love is the main thesis that underlies this book. No surprise there; this is the same basic truth brought by all great messengers. The beautiful, innovative way that it is presented within this book makes it a recommended read.
These are very special times in which we find ourselves. Arcturian Songs of the Masters of Light is here to assist us on our soul journey, shining a bright light on our path as we make our way Home.
SOUL OF A CITIZEN Living with Conviction in a Cynical Time
by PAUL ROGAT LOEB
St. Martin's Press $15.95 (softcover)
reviewed by Douglas S Johnson
Having just completed a study of John Dewey's social philosophy, I was very pleased to find much of the Windy City Sage's ideology shining through in Paul Loeb's latest offering. Particularly welcome was the notion of interacting and working not for sheer monetary profit, but also (and mostly) for the physical, mental, moral, and spiritual benefit and enlightenment of society as a whole. (See also True Work by Michael Toms and Justine Willis Toms, reviewed by this writer in the February 1999 issue of The New Times.)
This concept, or rather, actually putting it into practice, seems difficult for many, but as the German poet Rilke wrote, "we must always hold to the difficult; then that which now still seems to us the most alien will become what we most trust and find most faithful." Still, as Loeb counsels, one must not confuse striving for "the difficult" with trying to attain "the impossible." A rigid devotion to perfectionism will do nothing save burn out the aspirant and send him or her, all too soon, and then useless, into the ashcan.
Loeb suggests a better existence for all by building circles of beneficent and beneficial work and interaction, beginning first with one's family and then reaching out with the goodness established there to the immediate community and then stretching forth with the accrued wealth of good to larger and larger segments of the world. This, in Loeb's vision, is what will allow human beings to continue to exist, and exist with relative peace, on Planet Earth: sorting out one's own intimate values, reaching out and connecting with those of similar values, and then widening one's circle of connection as far as possible, with concern for other always foremost in mind.
We all live together and shall continue to do so for better or for worse. We were not created so that some might be used up and thrown away when they are no longer of immediate value to others, but so that all might share in the profits of living.
THE TAO OF MEOW Understanding and Training Your Cat the Taoist Way
by DEBORAH WOODS
Dell $9.95 (softcover)
reviewed by Morgine Jurdan, telepathic animal communicator
I had seen this book around for a while but, not having been attracted by its title or cover, I assumed that it probably contained some silly ideas about cats and their relationship to Tao. Upon picking it up to actually read, I was once again reminded that assumptions are rarely true, and I was delightfully surprised by its contents. Despite my relationship with cats for almost the entire fifty years of my life, and my continuing work with many of them each week, this book provided me with additional insights I had yet to discover myself. It certainly helped me to appreciate my own cat more and those of my clients in many new and insightful ways.
For those who have no background in the teachings of Tao, Deborah begins with some simple definitions. She states in her book that "The cat is the ultimate Taoist," and I must agree. I have often suggested to my students, friends, and clients that by observing their own animal friends, they can learn much about how to live in this world in a more balanced and centered way. Many Westerners feel that animals are here to serve us, and do not consider them our peers. Deborah shares that the Taoist tradition is different. "According to Taoism, all things are a part of the universal energy flow. Therefore, all things are equal. A king is no better than a pauper. An adult is not better than a child. A human is not better than a cat."
Many of us live very hectic lives, and despite the fact that we take classes or read books, we need those constant reminders about walking our talk. Having a cat in your life often provides you with those quiet reminders to take it easy, rest, meditate, stretch, and nurture yourself. Observing a cat, for example, can teach you a lot about balance and grace. Dropped from a high place, cats usually land on their feet. Getting up from a nap, they keep their eyes level, focused on the horizon: much easier than getting up while looking at the floor!
In this very simple and easy-to-read book, Deborah also deals with behavior problems and the training of your cat friend in insightful and nonviolent ways. I now have a few new techniques to offer my own clients. She first explains the problem from the cat's point of view, like comparing marking their territory with urine to the way we mark our bodies with soap or perfume. She offers eight suggestions for cats who are not using their litter boxes. If your cat scratches your furniture, she recommends providing different kinds of surfaces for your cat to scratch, applying some catnip, or playing with a string around the post to encourage the cat to use it.
She also recommends using something to cover your furniture, like an attractive throw, or putting some tin foil or double-stick tape to make it less attractive for scratching. She even has gentle techniques for teaching your cats some simple tricks. The only place I felt Deborah strayed from the Taoist teaching was in dealing with the topic of keeping your cat inside or letting it out. I have found my own personal experiences and communications to be slightly different than hers, but this did not detract in any way from the usefulness of the remainder of the book.
In my own classes, I emphasize the fact that many people often do not live in the present moment, and therefore miss many opportunities to truly savor life. People are not tasting their food, hearing all of what someone is sharing, seeing the flower in the sidewalk, noticing a beautiful sunset, appreciating a smile. Cats teach us to do all this and more, and reading this little book may just change your life in ways you might not imagine. I recommend it highly for those who share their lives with cats and want to understand them better, and for anyone else desiring to learn a little more about these magnificent creatures.
THE WISDOM OF THE ENNEAGRAM The Complete Guide to Psychological and Spiritual Growth for the Nine Personality Types
by DON RICHARD RISO and RUSS HUDSON
Bantam Books $17.95 (softcover)
reviewed by Jack C.High, Certified Enneagram Teacher
The power of the Enneagram of personality types lies in its ability to accurately and succinctly identify unconscious psychological patterns that seem to drive our lives and bring forth patterns of experience that repeat themselves over and over again. The promise of the Enneagram is that by recognizing these patterns, we might break out of the prison of our habitual mindsets and lead more authentic, happier lives.
Few understand these patterns as well as Don Richard Riso, a teacher and one of the more prolific writers about the Enneagram. In this, his latest book, co-authored with his associate Russ Hudson, these patterns are masterfully defined and described as the nine distinct personality types of the Enneagram, which should make it all the easier for the reader to identify his or her type.
What's more, in The Wisdom of the Enneagram, Riso and Hudson address the truly important question, "Okay, so I know my type. Now what?" An emphasis on putting descriptions of type into the context of personal and spiritual growth is what distinguishes this work from Riso's (and Hudson's) earlier works, which were largely devoted to type descriptions.
The answers to "Now what?" seemingly are provided in a "workbook" style of presentation. The reader will find inspirational quotes, charts, illustrations, exercises, and thought-provoking sidebars to aid his or her skill development in self-observation and self-inquiry. All these aids, which are sprinkled throughout the book, are indeed useful and appear to be based on sound spiritual wisdom.
There will no doubt be readers who will gain such insight about themselves from this book that their lives may be changed forever. The critical reader, however, will realize that following such nuggets of wisdom are not likely to produce an immediate break from the psychological patterns of a lifetime. That's more than a single book even one with the subtitle The Complete Guide to Psychological and Spiritual Growth for the Nine Personality Types can deliver.
The book opens by putting the Enneagram into a spiritual context as a tool for helping us to understand the essential nature of our being and the usefulness of the Enneagram as a spiritual tool in our personal transformation. The reader will then find a discussion of the author's sorting system of discovering one's type, followed by an outline of the history, symbol, and basic tenets of the Enneagram.
In discussing some of the basic tenets of the teaching, the authors list the "nine passions," which are accompanied by mostly accurate descriptions or definitions of each, but fail to mention the nine corresponding "fixations." Yet the passions and fixations are so closely aligned and interdependent that it is almost necessary to discuss them together to make sense of the importance of either in affecting our personality. And when the word "fixation" is used elsewhere in the book, it is out of context with what is traditionally meant by the term.
Similarly, the concepts of "shock points," "stress points," and "heart points" often seem to be discussed in a context other than what the originators of the terms had in mind when first writing about the Enneagram. Though well grounded in presenting the basic descriptions of type, the authors often seem to stumble when venturing into the ideas underlying the type descriptions. One sometimes gets the impression that such brief mentions of these essential elements of the Enneagram teaching enables the authors to fulfill an obligatory recognition of the work of others rather than to give a full presentation of the teaching.
Despite these objections, Riso and Hudson have written a book worthy to be read. The descriptions of the types are particularly worthwhile. However, the reader is encouraged to expand his or her understanding of the Enneagram and type descriptions by reading the works of other teachers and writers.
THE WORLD TO COME
by RUTH MONTGOMERY
Harmony Books $18.95 (hardcover)
Montgomery talks about the events leading up to the earth's shift, the shift itself, and how peaceful the world will be after it. This is to be her final book, and a "must" for all her fans.
ESSENTIAL FENG SHUI Your Practical Guide to Health, Wealth and Happiness
by SIMON BROWN
Ward Lock/Sterling Publishing Co., Inc. $9.95 (hardcover)
Learn about the many aspects of Feng Shui through colorful illustrations, practical suggestions, and clear basic principles. Make the most of the energy flow in your home and home office.
HOW TO READ YOUR ASTROLOGICAL CHART Aspects of the Cosmic Puzzle by DONNA CUNNINGHAM
Samuel Weiser, Inc. $12.95 (softcover)
A book that will help you "reason astrologically." The explanations are clear, with examples that create a picture you will remember. Learn an uncluttered approach to astrology, or take it further if you wish.
WRITING YOUR AUTHENTIC SELF by LOUIS GUARINO
Dell Publishing $12.95 (softcover)
Omega Institute experts share their wisdom, gleaned from numerous workshops and retreats where they used writing as a tool for knowing oneself better, expressing what is deep within, and growing spiritually.
DOGS THAT KNOW WHEN THEIR OWNERS ARE COMING HOME And Other Unexplained Powers of Animals
by RUPERT SHELDRAKE
Crown $25 (hardcover)
A thoughtful inquiry into animal empathy, telepathy, precognition, and more. Those who love and care for animals will resonate with the stories and the investigation of these unusual gifts.
INNER PEACE How to Be Calmly Active and Actively Calm
by PARAMAHANSA YOGANANDA
Self-Realization Fellowship $12 (hardcover)
These words penetrate with an inner response of "yes" while the you learn how to bring the understandings of East and West together in a balance of inner calm and outer activity.