Soul Whispering: The Art of Awakening Shamanic Consciousness, by Linda Star Wolf and Nita Gage
Bear & Company, 9781591432258, 288 pp., 2017Linda
Soul Whispering: The Art of Awakening Shamanic Consciousness, by Linda Star Wolf and Nita Gage, is a guide to help navigate hardships in life such as illness, loss of a job, or the death of a loved one, and emerge with a sense of enlightenment. Crises and hard times can make it difficult to hear the inner cry of your soul, which still needs to be attended to, leading to despair, depression, even codependency or addiction. With the information in this book, one can begin to cultivate the skillset of shamanic awareness, tuning in naturally to perpetual cycles in life and building an intuitive connection to the world around us.
The book is divided into 13 chapters, which the authors note do not have to be read in order. The reader can select any section that seems most pertinent to them at the time. However, reading the book cover to cover, each chapter transitions very well into the next one, and there is a sense of flow to the book. Each chapter features subheadings that divide it nicely into digestible pieces. Each chapter also includes a personal story, collected from students whom Star Wolf and Gage have worked with during their time as spiritual counsellors. These narratives provide personal insight and real-life experiences that highlight the theme of each chapter.
Linda Star Wolf and Nita Gage both have backgrounds that merge psychotherapy with shamanic practice. A core foundation of the work described in Soul Whispering stems from Star Wolf’s work at the Isis Cove Community that she and her late husband Bruce founded together in North Carolina. Her book Shamanic Breathwork is referenced often in the personal narratives as the catalyst for an expansion of awareness. Both authors are extremely candid about their own life experiences, detailing traumas and celebrations, truly portraying for the reader the foundation from which their perspectives stem, creating connection and a sense of trust between reader and author. From the revelry of the 1960s, which was a breakthrough in consciousness turned chaos, to the New Age practices of mindfulness and meditation, Star Wolf and Gage have stayed fully dedicated to exploring the depths of the shamanic world through their psychospiritual practices.
Shamanism is primary care. Developing your shaman within, your shamanic consciousness, is first aid for most maladies. Bringing awareness to unconscious and unresolved dysfunctional beliefs that poison your psyche and releasing these negative energies will improve health. Shamans are shape-shifters. Symbolically and imaginally they take on the energy of animals, plants, spirits, or other people to bring in whatever subtle energy is needed in the given situation. Being your own shaman means accessing the unconscious and the hidden by traveling symbolically to your own underworld.1
This book is expansive in the topics it covers, and genuine in the depth to which each subject is explored. Shamanic experiences such as soul loss and retrieval, connecting with the energy of spirit animals, trancework, and mediation are diligently interwoven with such psychological topics as Carl Jung’s concept of shadow, overcoming habits, healing childhood wounds, recognizing archetypal patterns, and practicing self-compassion. The two fields, when brought together, provide a map for the soul with practical grounding. Star Wolf and Gage explore how the shamanic aspect is often disregarded in modern psychotherapy. By learning to be a soul whisperer, the paradigm of psychology shifts to be more inclusive of the whole person: mind, body, and soul.
Soul whisperers are described by Star Wolf and Gage as “all the individuals who are guides for others who are on a journey of spiritual exploration, or for anyone who learns how best to listen to and be guided by the inner murmurings of their soul.”2 They continue, stating that many who take on this role tend to be facilitators of the inner realm, helping people to bring their symbolism to life through positions such as ministers, counsellors, coaches, and therapists. In this way, soul whisperers serve as a bridge to connect the imaginal world with everyday life. Through utilizing compassion and the power of being present with another, without trying to change them or control the outcome, deep wounds can be brought to the surface and worked with to bring a new perspective. These shifts of consciousness come from the soul whisperer holding the space for one to shift perspective around traumas that have led to their disconnection from vital parts of themselves. When one reconnects with aspects of the self that have been disowned, separated, hidden, or repressed, health is restored on all levels and a natural healing of mind, body, and soul occurs.
Quite unexpectedly, I found I love Soul Whispering. I hold a degree in psychology, and for quite some time after finishing school, I was hesitant to pursue graduate school, because I was fed up with the system of psychology. I searched and yearned for a way to bring the soul into the system, so I really appreciated the chapter in the book titled “Surviving Psychiatry,” which described the problem at length and gave insight into how Star Wolf and Gage succeeded at utilizing alternative methods with clients. Also, the personal narratives in the book show that the authors’ methods in action, and provided a sense of authenticity. Some are similar to experiences in my personal life, and when reading them I was able to reflect on how I handled my own situations at the time, as well as to imagine new ways I could change patterns I am still experiencing. In the section on co-dependency, especially, I thought a lot about the need to set boundaries in relationships and the reasons behind why I over-extend myself to others.
Finally, I admire the realness in this book, which often refers back to work done in Alcoholics Anonymous, and really highlights the similarities between AA and the 12 steps in Carl Jung’s process of working with the shadow. I feel the book is rich in content, because it goes into the nitty-gritty of life, the areas that are filled with guilt, shame, and anger, without painting a gloss over it. Rather, this book teaches one how to balance the emotions we feel, learn how to use these feelings to birth a conscious awareness, and to foster a stronger connection with our inner wisdom.
If I had any complaint about the book, it would be that at times it seems like a plug for Star Wolf’s retreat centre, Isis Cove. Most narratives describe how they worked with a client at the pit of their personal hell, and how from there the client was able to miraculously transform and become a new person. I am always slightly wary of this type of story, often skeptical of the spiritual cure-all offered, which in this case was shamanic breathwork. However, setting this aside, the author’s knowledge and dedication to bringing the psychospiritual paradigm to the forefront is very clear.
Overall, Soul Whispering provides a wealth of information that I feel would be helpful to anyone on a quest to brave their less-desirable self and bring to light wounded parts of themselves. Star Wolf and Gage have each gone through their own shamanic initiation, and over the course of many years have gathered a full body of wisdom to share. Soul Whispering teaches the reader to tap into their own inner power and bring a new awareness to their life. Having studied both shamanism and psychology extensively, I would recommend this book for anyone with an interest in these topics. It is heartwarming, honest, and inspirational.