Rooted in the Body, Seeking the Soul: Magic Practitioners Living with Disabilities, Addictions, and Illness, edited by Tara Miller
Immanion Press, 978-1-905713-91-2, 222 pp. (incl. introduction and bibliography), 2013
Tara Miller has compiled stories and interviews about Pagan spiritual practices and how these practices help practitioners cope with disability, chronic pain, illness, addiction and compulsive behaviour. The compilation begins with an interview with Dr. Kimberly Hendrick about her ground-breaking Pagan Health Survey that highlights the main issues within the health system and its intersection with a Pagan lifestyle. The survey sheds light on to the immense overlapping of the LBGTQ community (40%), the idea of Pagans viewing their health care more holistically (mind, body, spirit) and systematically rather than symptom by symptom, and the stigma of seeking out mental health services and having spiritual practices considered a mental health diagnosis. From the findings of the Health Survey, it seems Pagans have a model of self-empowerment in religious practices as well as health care. Continue reading
Naked in Public: Dream Symbols Revealed, by Katherine and Patrick Andries
Ozark Mountain Publishing, 9781886940499, 112 pp., 2014
There’s a well-known episode of NPR’s This American Life called “The Seven Things You’re Not Supposed to Talk About.” One of those things: dreams. Why? Because, as the main guest explains, “Nobody cares about your dreams.”
A bit harsh, maybe, but at the very least, dreams are a double-edged sword. To the dreamer, they may manifest as fascinating, glorious, terrifying, or even life-changing adventures. To the person listening to them, on the other hand (or reading about them), they are too often simply exercises in ennui and narcissism. After all, how often has somebody’s self-proclaimed “craziest dream ever” sounded merely banal to your own ears? If you’re anything like me and the folks at NPR, it’s happened a lot — which is why I was pleasantly surprised by the Andries’ dream glossary, Naked in Public: Dream Symbols Revealed, an utterly enjoyable and educational book that rarely thrusts the reader unwilling into the someone else’s tedious sub-psyche or allows itself to get bogged down by extraneous details.
The first thing you might notice about Naked in Public is that it is, unlike so many other dream compendiums, it’s quite light at just 112 pages, and not weighed down by the kind of overly academic psychobabble that pervades so much dream literature. This isn’t a book for someone with a PhD-like grasp of dreamology; it’s a book for the rest of us. Continue reading
Gnostic Healing: Revealing the Hidden Power of God, by Tau Malachi and Siobhan Houston.
Llewellyn, 9780738719832, 178 pp. (incl. appendices), 2010
Most of us are familiar with systems of energy healing such as Reiki, or magickal healing of various traditions, but is there a parallel in Christianity? That’s what Gnostic Healing sets out to teach and explore. Over all I was impressed by this book and the teachings, but several parts of the book left me annoyed. I’ll voice several of my complaints before moving into why I enjoyed this book.
“The Sophian lineage has been, up until the last few years, a wholly oral tradition, which probably had its origins around the seventeenth century as part of the ‘Rosicrucian Enlightenment.’” Nowhere in the introduction or the rest of text do the authors offer any proof for what to me is a rather incredulous claim of an unknown oral lineage of spiritual healers surviving for a few hundred years under the radar, and we’ll see later why this is even more unlikely. Personally I think the content of the book is good enough that it doesn’t need a mythic history to give it credibility. Continue reading
Witchcraft Medicine: Healing Arts, Shamanic Practices, and Forbidden Plantsby, Claudia Muller-Ebeling, Christian Ratsch and Wolf-Dieter Storl
Inner Traditions, 0892819715, 240 pp. (incl. appendix, bibliography and index), 1998, 2003
What image comes to mind when you read the phrase “Witchcraft Medicine”? Do you see a crone bent over a cauldron, muttering under her breath? Do you imagine a dark peasant hovel in the Middle Ages? Me, too! The subtitle of this volume, translated from a German edition of 1998, helps to clear away some of the misconceptions before the cover is even opened however. “Healing Arts, Shamanic Practices, and Forbidden Plants” lets the reader know that the topic will range far beyond narrow preconceptions.
The book is profusely illustrated with old woodcuts, drawings and full-colour photographs. Quotations from numerous sources, ancient , medieval, and modern appear frequently in sidebars. There are charts listing various plants and their associations with planets, deities, and symbolism. Continue reading
The Self in Transformation, by Hester McFarland Solomon
Karnac Books, 9781855755703, 332 pp., 2007
Solomon is a Jungian analyst who brings a depth of understanding to and sympathy to Freudian themes that I’ve not encountered previously. The papers collected here were written over a twenty year period, largely published in journals, save for the final essay, which was written especially for this volume.
Part I introduces the theme of the work, which is Continue reading
Traditional Thai Medicine: Buddhism, Animism, Ayurveda, by C. Pierce Salguero
Hohm Press, 9781890772673, 134 pp. (incl. index and appendices), 2007
Thai Medicine is a tradition that began to form in the 13th Century in Thailand, a combination of beliefs and theories taken from the animistic indigenous religion, Buddhism, and medical theories from ayurveda and yoga. It remains a popular practice, existing alongside western medicine in 83% of hospitals in Thailand, but Salguero fears that it is a dying practice, mainly supported by the elderly and tourists, and practiced by the older generations.
As the older generations Continue reading