Author Archives: Elderwoman

‘Heat: How We Can Stop the Planet Burning’ by George Monbiot

George Monbiot researches the subject of climate change in depth, he cuts through preconceptions and gets to the root of the problem. A breath of oxygen rich fresh air. He shows how we can reduce carbon emissions by 90% by 2030 – this is the level he suggests we need to reach to avoid runaway global warming and the collapse of large eco-systems. Continue reading

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‘Pathways of Green Wisdom: Discovering Earth Centred Teachings in Spiritual and Religious Traditions’ by Santoshan (Stephen Wollaston) (Ed)

A panoramic view of Earth-centred teachings in different spiritual and religious traditions. 10 authors cover 10 different traditions: Christianity, Judaism, Paganism, Daoism, Hinduism, Indigenous traditions, Islam, Buddhism, Jainism and Creation Spirituality (Creation Spirituality as articulated by Matthew Fox, which helped to lay the foundations for GreenSpirit). The territory covered is so vast that each chapter is often more of a personal reflection from someone either directly involved with the tradition or who is very knowledgeable about it. Continue reading

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‘Madness, Mystery and the Survival of God’ by Isabel Clarke

Healing, at least in part, can come through making sense of suffering and learning from it. So, for those who have suffered from mental ill-health or those who meet people who do, this book is particularly helpful. Continue reading

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‘Understanding Gregory Bateson: mind, beauty and the sacred earth’ by Noel Charlton

“Our most dangerous characteristic is our propensity to develop and rely on our conscious purposes…until we see the world as a network of relating, as a vast interrelated process of which we are dependent members, we will not be fit to survive in it.” (p.29). Continue reading

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‘Peace is the Way’ by Deepak Chopra

In Peace is the Way, Deepak Chopra speaks of the choice that contemporary people face concerning religion. Not religion per se, but religion in the ossified, tradition-encrusted form in which it appears to so many people today. Continue reading

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‘Tomorrow’s Christian: A new framework for Christian living’ by Adrian Smith

GreenSpirit member Adrian Smith sees the journey away from unquestioned tradition as forking into two slightly different paths. Continue reading

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‘Tomorrow’s God’ by Neale Douglas Walsch

Neale Douglas Walsch has probably done more than anyone in this last couple of decades to assist people in outgrowing their infantile images of ‘God’ as some old, judgmental, sky-dwelling patriarch in a nightie, and replace them with something closer to the Perennial Philosophy. His Conversations with God series of books and tapes has been remarkably popular, not least because his main tool is humour and he uses it so well. Continue reading

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‘Presence: Exploring Profound Change in People, Organisations & Society’ by Peter Senge, Otto Scharmer, Joseph Jaworski & Betty Sue Flowers

I’ve always wondered what manner of ‘profound change’ it would take to alter how individuals think and act. Individuals make up society; if enough of them did change, that would mean society itself would undergo some kind of transformation. Thus it was with great curiosity and anticipation that I waded in and began absorbing the discerning logic and experiential wisdom the four experts had woven in and out of all kinds of background qualifications and assembled into one gigantic platter of prescriptions for how to make sense of who we are, how society functions, the consequences of our interactions and the kinds of scenarios that result because of the choices we make, both personal and public, at all levels of human conduct. Continue reading

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‘The Hidden Spirituality of Men: Ten Metaphors to Awaken the Sacred Masculine’ by Matthew Fox

Finally, I suggest that this book is for women just as much as for men. Partly because, as Matthew rightly says, we all have our inner masculine and inner feminine to honour. And also because the more understanding and dialogue there is between the sexes, the more chance there is for a sacred union between these two polarities. Although as he says, the dance between the two polarities never ends; they need to be in creative tension. Continue reading

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‘Towards Wisdom’ by Sheila Ward

Sheila’s book, Towards Wisdom, is in part autobiographical, exploring the author’s own journey of personal and spiritual growth through the membership of various groups and circles in which she has taken part over the years. It details the techniques and practices used in each of these and how they might be used by other groups or individuals, particularly groups of women entering — or already in — the second half of their lives. Continue reading

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‘The Living Universe: Where Are We? Who Are We? Where Are We Going?’ by Duane Elgin

How many of us, staring up into the unfathomable reaches of the Milky Way on a clear, moonless night, have felt a shiver run through us? Who could not feel a shiver of awe – perhaps even of terror – in contemplating his or her puny insignificance against a background of stars? Compared to the immensity of even this visible fragment of the mysterious universe, we are mere specks of dust. And yet… perhaps we are less puny and less separate than we think. Continue reading

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‘Hope for Humanity: how understanding and healing trauma could solve the planetary crisis’ by Malcolm Hollick and Christine Connelly

As can be verified from Google, it has often been said that “what we do to the planet we do to ourselves.” An even more chilling thought, however, is that what we humans do to ourselves we may also do to the planet. A significant proportion of us have, today and throughout our history, routinely inflicted the most horrifying suffering on each other, on scales from the individual to genocide, despite widely spread contrary teachings from the major religions and despite – or maybe because of – the power and sophistication of our mind. So what is it about Homo sapiens that makes us the scourge both of other species and of our own? Continue reading

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‘The Art Of Conversation With The Genius Loci’ by Barry Patterson

…Nevertheless, I liked his book for three reasons. Firstly, it teaches a slow, careful and highly conscious way of interacting with – and appreciating – place. Continue reading

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‘The Biology of Belief: Unleashing the Power of Consciousness, Matter and Miracles’ by Bruce Lipton

We’ve all been taught – whether by high school biology teachers, college lecturers or the journalists and TV documentary-makers of popular culture – that it is the DNA in our cells which determines who we are. Nurture is important but it is our genes that confer upon us our individual identity. Continue reading

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‘The Psychology of Spirituality: An Introduction’ by Larry Culliford

From my experience of a career in the so-called ‘helping professions,’ I think I can safely claim that in these industries geared to health, healing and helping, scant attention is ever paid to people’s spirituality. We train our medical, paramedical and mental health workers in the mechanical workings of the body and the mind, but speak rarely of the heart and never of the soul. Continue reading

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‘The Animals’ Lawsuit against Humanity’ by Ikhwan al-Safa

The story of this book is miraculous in itself. The fable and the message it so clearly contains date from over a thousand years ago. The origins of the story were Indian, but it was actually written down for the first time in the tenth century C.E. in Arabic by a Sufi order. It has since circulated through most of the Eastern religions; this edition is the first one in English. I found out about it through Isabel Carlisle, who converted it into play form and has used it in schools over the last few years. Continue reading

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‘Green Kingdom Come! Jesus and a Sustainable Earth Community’ by Joe Grabill

The overall theme and objective of this book is to illustrate that Jesus of Nazareth was green. Grabill shows, from a study of biblical translations direct from the Aramaic and quotations from texts long ago eliminated from the bible by church politicians, that Jesus would probably be at the forefront of the green movement were he alive and teaching today. Continue reading

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‘Nature as Mirror: An Ecology of Body, Mind and Soul’ by Stephanie Sorrell

The old mechanistic paradigm under which most of us grew up has trained our thought habits so thoroughly that those of us struggling to express an ecocentric worldview often find ourselves literally at a loss for words. For example, we hear ourselves using phrases like ‘walking outside in Nature,’ even though we know that Nature includes us also, whether outdoors or in. We talk about ‘caring for the planet’ as though it were a thing and separate from ourselves. And if finding a vocabulary for ecocentrism is hard, how much harder is it to live it? Continue reading

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‘Shinto: A Celebration of Life’ by Aidan Rankin

Like most people in the Western world, I’d had little or no exposure to Shinto, the ancient, traditional spirituality of Japan. It was never included in my mental list of wisdom traditions and, I am now ashamed to say, if I thought about it at all I’d dismissed it as merely a set of rituals that Japanese people traditionally observed out of habit rather than conviction. How wrong I was. Continue reading

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‘Enlightenment Ain’t What It’s Cracked Up To Be: A Journey of Discovery, Snow and Jazz in the Soul’ by Robert Forman

At the beginning of his book, Forman points out that: “the thought that you can be utterly ego-less , that you can remember to attend to your thought processes often enough to change them, that your guru is utterly egoless, that your everyday life is or will be complete and entirely easy and that these are or should be our goals, has been a damaging fantasy, at best, and counter-productive at worst…it is high time that we turned around and looked squarely in the maw of our own daydreams.” Continue reading

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‘The Path of the Blue Raven:From Religion to Re-Enchantment’ by Mark Townsend

BBC presenter Peter Owen-Jones puts his finger right on the spot when he describes Mark Townsend as “a priest on the edge.” As he reminds us, edges are always the places in the biosphere where we find the most diversity and the greatest creativity. In the noösphere, the same applies. The edge is where one finds people bold enough to move out of comfort and familiarity, to seek, to question and to birth new ideas. Continue reading

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‘The Fire Dogs of Climate Change: An inspirational call to action’ by Sally Andrew

Sally Andrew is a sublime storyteller. Her brand of delightful whimsicality is so captivating that I predict she is headed for literary fame in the coming years—and not only in her homeland of South Africa, either. Meanwhile, right now, her energy and passion are channelled into raising awareness about climate change and the need for urgent action to avoid eco-catastrophe Continue reading

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‘Elderwoman: Reap the wisdom, feel the power, embrace the joy’ by Marian Van Eyk McCain

What I like most about this book is that it genuinely celebrates the late afternoon and evening of our lives. Most biographies draw the human life as though it were a hump – starting small, growing towards the prime, and then downhill all the way, leading to death often in depression and failed faculties. Continue reading

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‘The Way Beyond the Shaman: Birthing a New earth Consciousness’ by Barry Cottrell

A main thrust of GreenSpirit is the ‘re-membering’ of ourselves in Nature, the awakening of our sense of belonging to Earth and the deep connection with the more-than-human world that our ancestors probably had and which we, in our fool’s paradise of modern, consumer society, have largely lost. Continue reading

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‘Holy Night’ by Vincent Tilsley

Is it a novel? Is it a screenplay? What on earth (or in heaven) is it? Vincent Tilsley’s Holy Night is unlike anything else I have ever read. It also stirred up more excitement in me than any book I have read in a long time and stretched my mind to its furthest limits. Continue reading

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‘Find Your Power: A Toolkit for Resilience and Positive Change ‘ by Chris Johnstone

“Ever felt stuck?” asks the publisher of this highly accessible book. “Here is an approach”, they claim, “..that helps us overcome obstacles, improve our relationships, supports our values, and moves us towards our goals.” For once, I’m pleased to say, the publisher’s blurb has not overstated its case. Continue reading

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‘Gaia Eros:Reconnecting to the Magic and Spirit of Nature’ by Jesse Wolf Hardin

Jesse Wolf Hardin’s book bears an accurately descriptive title. Gaia, the living, conscious, inspirited Earth, and eros, the love of the Earth. Gaia Eros – Earth love. Its thirty-eight small chapters felt to me more like a collection of love poems than a series of essays. Unconnected by a logical, progressive unfolding of ideas, each is complete in itself like musical variations on a theme – the theme of Earthly love. Continue reading

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‘Spontaneous Evolution: Our Positive Future (and a way to get there from here)’ by Bruce Lipton and Steve Bhaerman

The thesis of Bruce and Steve’s brilliant new book, in a very small nutshell, is that there’s good news and bad news. The bad news is that science has moved on but we haven’t. And we need to—fast! The good news is that we can do it because all the tools we need are right here, under our noses (inside our noses too, as a matter of fact). Continue reading

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‘EcoMind: Changing the Way We Think to Create the World We Want’ by Frances Moore Lappé

When she was researching for her landmark book Diet for a Small Planet back in 1970, Frances Moore Lappé realized that it is we human beings ourselves who create the problems, such as scarcity, that we find so troubling. “While most of us think that ‘seeing is believing’… no, for human beings ‘believing is seeing.’ Our core ideas about how the world works determine, literally, what we can see and what we can’t.” Continue reading

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‘The Handbook of Bach Flower Remedies for Animals’ by Enric Homedes

This is a most welcome book as in my experience animals respond extraordinarily well to Flower Remedies and it will give confidence to many people who would like to use them on their pets. Continue reading

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‘The Master and his Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World’ by Iain McGilchrist

This is one of the most important books that I’ve read. I heard Iain McGilchrist talking about it on the radio when it was first published and just knew I had to read it. It’s a weighty tome (both in size and content), covering both the structure of the brain and how the brain’s structure and function has shaped Western culture. McGilchrist is eminently suited for the task, as he taught English at Oxford University before training as a psychiatrist and is therefore able to express complex ideas in simple, attractive ways. Continue reading

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‘The Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community’ by David C Korten

David Korten wrote this book several years ago, but it is probably even more relevant – and urgent – today. He sees us at a crossroads, and the choice we make will result in either The Great Turning of the title, or The Great Unravelling. Continue reading

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‘Nature and the Human Soul: Cultivating Wholeness and Community in a Fragmented World’ by Bill Plotkin

Depth psychologist and wilderness guide Bill Plotkin, well known for his earlier book, Soulcraft, begins this one with a quote from Thomas Berry, a poignant poem from Drew Dellinger, five succinct sentences outlining the mess our species has made of the planet in the last two hundred years and the following statement: “True adulthood, or psychological maturity, has become an uncommon achievement in Western and Westernized societies and genuine elderhood nearly nonexistent.” Continue reading

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‘Dirt: The Ecstatic Skin of the Earth’ by William Bryant Logan

Logan converts that which seems ordinary into something mystical, taking us with the stardust created in the ‘big bang’, through the ages, to join the other components of earth, dirt, soil, muck, loam, humus, compost, or whatever you choose to call the skin of the Earth. Continue reading

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‘Environmental Culture. The Ecological Crisis of Reason’ by Val Plumwood

The late Val Plumwood’s previous book Feminism and the Mastery of Nature (Routledge, 1993) is one of the foundational texts of eco-feminism. In Environmental Culture she has written a worthy successor. Continue reading

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‘Eternal Spring: Taijiquan, Qi Gong, and the cultivation of health, happiness and longevity’ by Michael W. Acton

Many Westerners who take up Eastern practices like Yoga and Tai Chi never really understand—or even take an interest in—the layers and layers of ancient, spiritual wisdom that underlie such practices. Knowing this, many authors and teachers pay but scant attention to the theory and focus only on the physicality. In other words, both instructor and student concern themselves only with the tip of the iceberg. ‘Eternal Spring’ is very different and Michael Acton a very different sort of teacher.
Continue reading

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‘From Science to God: A Physicist’s Journey into the Mystery of Consciousness’ by Peter Russell

The book is written as a journey of discovery and Russell writes in the context of his own search to find a theory of consciousness. Apparently this is one of the major unsolved conundrums of psychology and even of quantum physics. It is possible to explain most human activities in terms of conventional science but how and why we should be conscious has still no satisfactory explanation. Continue reading

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‘For Love of Matter: A Contemporary Panpsychism’ by Freya Mathews

‘All things are interconnected.’ I am always surprised that this highly abstract, therefore potentially dry statement can set off a tidal wave of joyful emotion in the depths of the psyche. For Freya Mathews it expresses a basic intuition, the essential starting point for a careful philosophical analysis which leads to Panpsychism, in a modern form of this ancient idea. She is clear that “One is likely to become a panpsychist only as a result of direct experience of a responsive world” and her ample and engaging examples of such experience include her own and other people’s. On an ordinary, daily car journey: “With all the objects around me finely and blackly etched against the orange light, the differences between trees and telegraph poles, birds and distant airplanes, no longer registered. I was filled with a sense of one of those semi–ineffables: that every instance of matter is not merely manifest and visible, but actually there, present to itself…there is an innerness to its reality as well as an outerness.” Continue reading

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‘Radical Nature: Rediscovering the Soul of Matter’ by Christian de Quincey

The American philosopher W.V.O. Quine once remarked that “Consciousness is to me a mystery, not one to be dismissed. We know what it is like to be conscious, but not how to put it into satisfactory scientific terms” (Quidities pp. 132-3). So consciousness, along with the whole subjective nature of our inner mental and spiritual life, gets left out of the scientific world picture. Thus, the orthodox account of evolution tells us that living beings emerged and developed as ever-more complex physical entities, but nowhere in this story is there a place for the subjective phenomena of consciousness. These seem to be of a different order of being entirely, and the only way of accounting for them is to imagine a kind of miracle whereby at some point in the evolutionary process complex physical systems produced a wholly different kind of reality, namely consciousness. Continue reading

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‘Yoga for a World out of Balance: Teachings on Ethics and Social Action’ by Michael Stone

Within eco-spiritual literature there are few titles that satisfactorily relate Hindu Yogic teachings with contemporary green issues, or do little more than simply acknowledge a basic relationship between the two. Michael Stone’s Yoga for a World out of Balance beautifully highlights how the five yamas (traditionally translated as non-violence, truthfulness, non-stealing, chastity, and greedlessness and non-grasping) are essentially interwoven with global and social responsibility and Earth-centred practices . The yamas themselves are invariably recommended within various Yogic traditions as an important first stage of an essential eightfold path that was outlined in the influential Patanjali Yoga Sutra. Continue reading

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‘The Kids’ Book of Awesome Stuff’ by Charlene Brotman

The Kids’ Book of Awesome Stuff is filled with information, ideas, and activities to develop awareness in children that they are “…part of a wonderful web of life.” Grounded in scientific facts – including explanations of the Big Bang, nuclear fusion, evolution, photosynthesis – the book is engaging and inspiring and should leave any receptive young reader enthralled and sparkling with enthusiasm. Charlene Brotman’s accessible style and creative use of activity-based, interactive learning techniques combine with Jelia Gueramian’s friendly illustrations to make this book a treasure for children and adults alike. Continue reading

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‘Deep Equality: Living in the flow of natural rhythms’ by Jocelyn Chaplin

At the core of this book is a profound understanding of the state that Jocelyn Chaplin sets out to evoke, being in “the flow”, which lies within us all but which in the West is hard to make contact with and live from. Rooted in her childhood spent in the Sudan and Ghana, and her adult years as a political activist, scholar, artist and psychotherapist, her writing succeeds in synthesising all these strands of her life. Continue reading

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‘Enough:Breaking free from the world of more’ by John Naish

This book opens with words from the Tao Te Ching “He who knows he has enough is rich” … and then continues … “We have some evolving to do. And quickly. We need to develop a sense of ‘enoughness.’” Continue reading

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‘Living with Honour: A Pagan Ethics’ by Emma Restall Orr

Emma is head of the international Druid Network and the author of ten books. She teaches courses worldwide, and lectures at universities and conferences on Druidry, environmentalism, healing, and women’s spirituality. Continue reading

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‘Green Spirituality: One answer to global environmental problems and world poverty’ by Chris Philpott

From GreenSpirit member Chris Philpott comes a book, many years in the making, that is a compendium of attitudes and sources of wisdom about the spiritual basis of what it is to be green. In an inspiring Foreword, the author, scientist and activist Vandana Shiva suggests that this book could help us to rediscover what she calls a ‘spiritual sheet anchor.’ Continue reading

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‘Life Ascending: the Ten Great Inventions of Evolution’ by Nick Lane

It is very appropriate that this book should have appeared in Darwin’s year (2009) and I started to write this review on the 150th anniversary day of the publication of The Origin of Species. Continue reading

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‘The Spirituality Revolution: The Emergence of Contemporary Spirituality’ by David Tacey

When I was a child, everyone went to church (or chapel) on Sundays, or so it seemed. Spirituality and religion appeared synonymous. That is so no longer. The winds of change have blown hard in my lifetime, and you and I now live in a predominantly secular society – one of many in the Western world. But there is another strong weather pattern coming up against the wind. Religion may be in decline, but spirituality has never been so much in evidence. In a culture that now worships at the shopping mall yet comes away empty-hearted, there is a swell of yearning for a deeper connection – or a reconnection – with the sacred. Continue reading

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‘The Science of Oneness: A worldview for the twenty-first century’ by Malcolm Hollick

Readers of GreenSpirit will be profoundly aware of the ecological stress now facing our planet as a result of human action, and of the call which many of us feel, to respond by embracing the earth more closely, connecting with it more intimately, so that we can know in our bones what is happening and respond more with our whole being. Many of us also feel that the underlying cause of what is happening is the progressive loss of any meaningful worldview within our society. Continue reading

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‘The Lilypad List: 7 steps to the simple life’ by Marian Van Eyk McCain

This is not the first book I have read on the subject of simple living, but it is as yet, the only one which tackles the psychological implications of making life changes in as much depth as the practicalities. We all have some resistance to change, especially when the outcome runs counter to the attitudes and values prevalent in our materialistic society. To summon the energy and willingness to do this requires both awareness and effort (qualities which the author has aplenty). So, if you are willing this book could be a useful companion. Continue reading

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‘Birthrites: Rituals & Celebrations for the Child-Bearing Years’ by Jackie Singer

Our Western culture does have a few standard rituals for marking significant events in our lives but we all experience other events and other special moments and decisions for which no prescribed form of ritual exists. Yet we are often dimply aware of the impulse to mark these moments in some meaningful, symbolic way, particularly when they concern something as emotionally laden as procreation. Continue reading

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