by SOBONFU SOMÉ
New World Library $16 (hardcover)
reviewed by P. L. Herlevi
Following her debut book, Spirit of Intimacy, West African spiritual healer and author Sobonfu Somé presents us with Welcoming Spirit Home. While her first book dealt with ritual and spiritual practices between couples and their role in community, Welcoming Spirit Home extols the virtues of children and how children bring a spiritual message into community. Somé explains the importance of honoring children this way: "if we continue to ignore that our children are a gift to our world, then we should consider ourselves an endangered species."
While not everyone wants to conceive and raise children, Somé points out explicitly in her book that they need to pay attention to the children in their community. She also tells readers to heal their inner child before having children or to participate in healthy relationships with others. Although the concept of healing the inner child is not a new one, Somé takes the concept further by explaining how simple rituals can help us in our healing processes. She lists various rituals at the back of the book, giving thoughtful examples throughout.
Somé's book penetrates various subjects that surround child rearing, but she also presents chapters on grieving the loss of a child and miscarriage of an unborn child. The main theme of Welcoming Spirit Home is healing our inner children so that we can have healthy interactions with the children in our community. According to Somé, children have many wonderful voices and talents to offer us, if only they are given the chance to speak without feeling threatened by a harsh environment. By creating a safe environment for children to express their being, we create a nurturing environment for all of us.
Somé writes with the innocence of a foreigner, but she zeros in on the problems Western society faces, offering simple solutions. Basically, she says, it comes down to this: put ritual back in society, and we put meaning back in our lives. Welcoming Spirit Home is a must-have book for parents and for those seeking spiritual evolution.
A Quest to Pierce the Veils of Illusion
by STEPHEN BURKE
DayBue Publishing Ink $12.95 (softcover)
reviewed by Claire Krulikowski
Is there any one of us who cannot look back and recall an apocalyptic-like moment that seems to mark our life's shift onto our spiritual quest? How different/expansive/kind/intuitive/trusting/holy/inquisitive/courageous are you now compared to that little self you'd once - incorrectly - believed to be your real self? When did you begin to sense who you really are?
What misadventures, challenges, and lessons have you whirled within in repeated attempts to understand the hows and whys of creation, of God? What have you desired to know, to be? Most importantly, how can you live a new, more spiritually attuned life while your days seem to be shaped by the patterned responsibilities of jobs, family, and societal expectations?
In this novel, Catholic-raised, straight-and-narrow French lawyer Eric Pétris identifies the feeling of being "in the presence of greatness" during the delivery of his first child as his apocalyptic moment. He is quick and urgent to discount it (does this sound familiar to anyone?).
This initial mystical moment will come back to haunt him five years later (such is divine timing!) when the innocent actions of his evolved child unleash new realizations of human intuitive powers beyond the beyond of what he's believed possible. He begins, innocently enough, to wonder at the possibilities. Meditation begins his introduction into new thought, and thought comes to continually intersect with pathways of his heart.
Ultimately, Eric realizes the potency of union with God and how surrendering to God's will allows happiness and creation to erupt spontaneously and easily. Now if he can only figure out what that means in his life, and how that translates into reality and manifestation!
Eric's story is loosely based on the experiences of American author Burke. What's wonderful is how Burke has chosen to sequester the setting of the story within the "normal" family setting; sometimes there's sparring, but eventually husband, wife, children, sister, and sister's boyfriend support each other's quests to know the truths of greater living. Eric attends no seminars, takes no trips to sacred sites, and knows no gurus, though he does read books - all of which, he feels, falls short.
The steps he and his wife take - their growth - evolve through their own internal, diligent questing. It means, of course, that some real big issues are dealt with due to the more limited religious teaching that's shaped him from his youth, yet his new beliefs begin stretching those boundaries. The impact of past lives upon this one, for example, is not broached, but perhaps that's for the next book.
Just as Eric feels he's understood some new concept/method/belief, new information comes to him (ofttimes delivered via his sister) that kicks him onward to other steps of challenge, acceptance, and realization. He is regularly set into a state of internal chaos. Eric's simple innocence, his desires, frustrations, and strong desire to be attuned with God translate into an honest life of good stories. It makes for quite amusing reading because, well, I've been there. Haven't you?
Character Eric lives, and author Stephen Burke shares, his life as an inspirational challenge. Readers will move and relate with much of Eric's head-and-heart conflicts as he seeks to live his passion wholly within the world. While the book doesn't end as succinctly as I would have liked, perhaps that's appropriate, because he - and we - are continuing to recreate ourselves into our own true Being.
PORTALS AND CORRIDORS
A Visionary Guide to Hyperspace
by MONICA SZU-WHITNEY and GARY WHITNEY
Frog Ltd. $18.95 (softcover)
reviewed by Nancy Brown
Upon reading Portals and Corridors, I was taken on a captivating journey through time and space. The Whitneys have succeeded in presenting their readers with a delightful book that serves as a guide, taking the reader into elaborately detailed accounts of other dimensions and the beings that dwell in these realms.
It begins with a discussion on the importance of the imagination and how it can open one up to the flow of interdimensional travel. This is followed by a large selection of portraits, beautifully painted by Monica, of the beings that she encounters in her travels. As the book progresses, she details each journey in a highly articulate manner, creating such pictures with her words that the reader feels that she or he is indeed experiencing the journey on a very personal level.
As her stories come alive, one is left with a sense of having met these beings and shared with them a sense of kinship. Some of the pictures are very odd and may at first even appear startling or scary. However, upon reading about them, the reader is immediately put at ease and left with a greater understanding of the importance of opening to other possibilities and not being so fast to judge - and a desire to experience these channelings themselves.
The Whitneys give us a good start to our own channeling of other dimensions, with instructions on how to proceed in doing so with the use of the enclosed portraits. All in all, I found reading this book a light and gentle, yet very intriguing, experience. I am left with a desire to know more!
The Caregiver's Journey: Understanding the Loss of a Loved One
by MARGARET STUBBS and CYNTHIA PEARSON
Seal Press $18.95 (softcover)
reviewed by Linda Ross Swanson, author and hospice respite care worker
None of us is prepared for the loss of a loved one, and manuals on the how-to of home care for the dying are rare. How can we anticipate what to expect when a loved one chooses to die at home? Parting Company documents 14 personal accounts of caregivers to the dying, answering the question through their experiences. These are uncut, boldly honest accounts that open wide the reader's eyes.
For a moment, this book takes the attention off the dying and places it on those midwives who boldly enter the all-consuming world of the terminally ill. Few people understand the harsh reality and emotional toll that such work entails: the sleep deprivation, the keen organization and ministration of drugs, the reams of paperwork, the medical and legal advocacy, the restructuring of schedules, the physical labor of providing hygiene and palliative care, and the hours of listening, comforting and consoling.
The books offers insights into how caregivers for the dying can honor their own emotional and spiritual needs in the midst of crisis. It affirms that these people are not alone in their caring; that others have gone before them to light the way. This book swings the door open on all of our cultural taboos about discussing death and dying, offering caregivers support and encouragement. Through these personal accounts, caregivers are offered the resources necessary to continue their mission, one that allows the dying dignity and peace in their final hours, and one that leaves in its wake a munificence of healing gifts.
How to Read Your Cat's Paws
by KEN RING and PAUL ROMHANY
Ten Speed Press $9.95 (softcover)
reviewed by Morgine Jurdan, telepathic animal communicator
I have been around cats almost my entire life, and have felt blessed by all the things they have shared with me. I have learned much about how to live in balance and harmony, being more patient, taking time to nurture myself, and appreciating the simple things in life more. I thought I had learned a lot, and yet I found that there is so much more!
At first, I thought Pawmistry was a joke. I have heard of reading people's palms; however, cats seemed to be going a little far out for me. It turns out that among Ken's many talents is being a psychic. At a party, he was once asked to read a cat's paw; he proved to be quite accurate, and so the journey began.
This book offers a lot more than the cover implies. It goes into detailed descriptions of all the different kinds of paws, explaining their shape, size, and texture, and telling us about all the lines and their meanings. I found the various descriptions of cats to be quite accurate, although I would have appreciated more actual drawings or prints to go along with the definitions, in order for me to do a reading on my own cat. I gave up on this venture.
The book continues on, however, to describe the various colors of cats and their meanings. I found this fascinating and useful. You can do numerology with cats' names, read the interpretations, and learn how compatible a cat is with its person. The authors go into detail providing traits and favorite colors, food, gems and stones, and more. This provides insightful information as long as you allow for the uniqueness of each individual cat and do not try to force your cat to eat a food, for example, she does not appear to like! There is a chapter on astrology, which includes mood changes and the zodiac and some recommended readings.
All in all, this is a fun book for someone interested in learning more about his or her feline friend. I picked up some useful information to help me with my own work. Pawmistry provides us with a tool to assist us in better understanding these special beings - and have some fun along the way!
SUCH STUFF AS DREAMS ARE MADE ON
The Autobiography and Journals of HELEN M. LUKE
Parabola Books $29.95 (softcover)
"Helen Luke can strike one note with one finger with such sensitivity that it resonates forever in our soul." - Marion Woodman, author of Leaving my Father's House. Luke examines the feminine and masculine natures.
FENG SHUI ASTROLOGY
How to Use Ki Energy to Make Your Dreams Come True
by TAKASHI YOSHIKAWA
Samuel Weiser, Inc. $18.95 (softcover)
An ancient Chinese divination system in which nine different energies, symbolized by the nine primary numbers, influence your life. Learn how to combine insights from astrology with aspects of Feng Shui.
BOOKS OF SPECIAL INTEREST TO THE INNER AND/OR THE OUTER CHILD
TRIBE OF STAR BEAR
by VICTORIA MIHALYI
Borealis Book Publishers $11.95 (softcover)
A cheeky red squirrel, an arrogant golden eagle, a wise black bear, and a girl who loves purple: the warriors have arrived. By their faith in deeds, they will make the land green again after the earth has been ravaged.
A SPIRITED ALPHABET
From A to Z
by MORGAN SIMONE DALEO; illustrated by FRANK RICCIO
Hampton Roads Publishing $14.95 (hardcover)
Daleo's gentle, imaginative poetry, blended with Riccio's tender illustrations, introduce young children to the wonders of life, while allowing them to explore important values such as faith, joy, and love.
HERMAN'S MAGICAL UNIVERSE
by BECKY McCARLEY; illustrated by PHIL TRAVERS
Hampton Roads Publishing $16.95 (hardcover)
Herman is given a magical book containing blank pages that he must fill to become a master. This book explains how universal laws affect our lives, and will appeal to the scientifically minded child or adult.
A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S FAERY TALE
by WENDY FROUD and TERRI WINDLING
Simon & Schuster $18 (hardcover)
The tale of young Sneezle, whose mission is to discover whether he is the hero, the fool, or just himself. Beautifully detailed, allowing satisfaction and stimulation of the imagination. A book to cherish.
TALKING TO FAIRIES
What They Are, Where to Find Them and How They Can Help!
by SHEILA JEFFRIES
Element Children's Books $8.95 (hardcover)
You will find an abundance of answers to all of your "fairie" questions in this delightful handbook: what they are, where to find them, how to get to them, how they can help, and how they relate to other species.
HER FATHER'S GARDEN
by JAMES VOLLBRACHT; illustrated by JANET BROOKE
Wisdom Publications $12.95 (hardcover)
Living high above the clouds, in a land where nothing will grow, Mi Shan dreams daily of a beautiful garden. Through her positive attitude and ability to see the best in others, her dream becomes a reality.
TO SLEEP WITH THE ANGELS
by H. ELIZABETH COLLINS; illustrated by JUDY KUUSISTO
Illumination Arts $12.95 (hardcover)
Learn how to call in your angels as you follow one child's journey into other realms. Soothingly written and illustrated.
WHISPERING OF ANGELS
Affirmations for the Child in Your Life
by ANNALEE ASH
Hampton Roads $14.95 (hardcover)
Affirmations to "whisper" to children at every stage of life that will let them know how special they are. Healing for the adult as well.
ANGELS TO WATCH OVER ME
What Are Angels, How They Can Help, and How to Trust Your Own Very Special Guardian Angel
by JOANNA CROSSE
Element Children's Books $8.95 (hardcover)
Learn which angels to call on when seeking truth, forgiveness, health, or contact with a pet just passed over, and the important roles they play in our lives. Excellent gift for child or adult.
THE FROGS AND THEIR MONSTER
by GURUMAYI CHIDVILASANANDA; illustrated by CLAUDE MARTINOT
SYDA Foundation $7.95 (softcover)
In a village in India, the frogs become bored until a monster comes and frightens them into hiding. With the help of Swami Shantananda, they learn to confront their fears and appreciate the simplicity of their lives.
THE BONSAI BEAR
by BERNARD LIBSTER; illustrated by ARIES CHEUNG
Illumination Arts $15.95 (hardcover)
How can we let go of those we love? Bonsai master Issa and his wife Kyomi learn that they cannot stifle growth to hold onto their beloved pet in this tale of a childless couple who adopt an orphaned bear cub.
GODDESSES OF LEGEND AND MYTH
A Coloring Book Celebrating the Heroines of Ancient Europe
by TANYA TOUTZ-HAGER; illustrated by GRETA STOCKTON and KATIE PHILBRICK
MoonStar Press $8.95 (softcover)
Empower your child with 17 goddesses from ancient Europe to read about and to color (this book is to be released in January 2000).
THE ESSENE BOOK OF DAYS 2000
by DANAAN PARRY
Earthstewards Network $15.95
reviewed by Kathie Brooks
Many of us require a bit of direction and focus when we attempt to meditate or journal; we just need a small push to get started and keep on track. The Essene Book of Days calendar will gently guide you through the year and help you attune yourself to the cycle of seasons happening outside on the earth around you, as well as assist you in recognizing your own inner tides. Each day of the year has its own page, beautifully illustrated, with meditations and blessings for morning and evening; sun, moon, and seasonal information; and space for recording your own thoughts. If you use this book faithfully, you will be guaranteed to dispense with the notion that we are outside of the cosmic scheme! Also worth noting is that sales of this calendar support The Earthstewards Network. Based on Bainbridge Island, Washington, this nonprofit organization works around the world to bring about peaceful resolution and healing through the efforts of ordinary citizens.