Category Archives: Practical

‘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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‘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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‘A Better World Is Possible’ by Bruce Nixon

After reviewing what is wrong with today’s world, Nixon argues for a sustainable and just economy, involving reform of the large global financial institutions currently dominated by the interests of big business and rich countries. He proposes unlocking democracy by moving to a more participatory system, with more power at a local level. He also illustrates how the money currently poured into the military machine could be used for conflict resolution and war prevention. Additionally, he addresses the issues of eradicating world hunger, and creating sustainable (and beautiful) towns and cities. Continue reading

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‘Feeding Orchids to the Slugs: Tales from a Zen Kitchen’ by Florencia Clifford

Working as a Zen cook in a Buddhist centre in Wales, this author begins to learn more about who she really is, not just through being part of the community but also through creating and serving meals. This is a beautifully-crafted book, part personal journey, part reflection on life and part cookbook Continue reading

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‘Revolution’ by Russell Brand

I have not always been a fan of Russell Brand’s comedy; the little I heard did not strike a chord with me. And so I was surprised to read his book Revolution which is both refreshing and insightful. Rather like the Court Jester of the Middle Ages who had the King’s ear – Russell Brand is the modern day Jester – telling us how things really are and prodding us to change. Continue reading

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‘Blue Mind’ by Wallace J. Nichols

Ranging as it does from in-depth explanations of neuropsychological processes to personal stories from surfers, divers, fishermen, sailors and others, this book is so impressively comprehensive that it could easily have been subtitled ‘Everything you always wanted to know about our human relationship to water and lots more that you never even imagined.’ 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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‘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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‘Integral Spirituality: A Startling New Role for Religion in the Modern and Postmodern World’ by Ken Wilber

Ken Wilber’s Integral approach, which is intrinsically value-free, is a unique method for understanding pretty much anything in a fully comprehensive, multidimensional and holistic way. It has the capacity to break up socio-cultural and ideological logjams and may well be the best tool available, right now, for achieving religious tolerance, peace and (when applied to ecological issues) sustainability. Continue reading

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‘Common Ground on Hostile Turf: Stories from an Environmental Mediator’ by Lucy Moore

Lucy Moore, an environmental and public policy mediator with twenty-five years of experience, has written this book of what are basically ‘teaching stories’ as a way of sharing some of what she has learned in her work at the front lines of conflict resolution. Her work is done mostly in the American Southwest but the lessons we can learn from her are widely applicable to environmental conflict anywhere on the planet. Continue reading

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‘The Wisdom of Birch, Oak and Yew’ by Penny Billington

This is not simply a book about trees. It is a book about you and me and all of us and how we can draw on a reservoir of help and energy that we might not even realize is available to us—i.e. the help and energy of those silent, deeply-rooted companions whose presence we all tend to overlook.

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‘The Optimistic Environmentalist: Progressing Toward a Greener Future’

As an environmental lawyer, Canadian writer David Boyd knows full well that much of the environmental news these days is bad news. However he also knows that although news tends to make more compelling headlines than good news, there is good news to be found. Although we have a very, very long way to go, it is a fact that: From air pollution to safe drinking water, from greener cities to renewable energy, we’ve made remarkable but widely underacknowledged progress. And his aim was to document as many examples of this kind of good news as he could fit between two covers. 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 Fourth Phase of Water: Beyond Solid, Liquid, and Vapor’ by Gerald H. Pollack

There is a lot we don’t know about water, and the research that Professor Pollack and his laboratory team have been working on is aimed at unravelling some of its mysteries. As well as gas, liquid and solid forms of water, they have discovered a surprisingly extensive fourth phase that occurs at any interface where water meets a hydrophilic (‘water-loving’) surface. This research has far-reaching implications for health and healing, for renewable energy production, water filtration, desalination and a host of other things. Continue reading

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‘The Secret Language of Animals: A Guide to Remarkable Behavior’ by Janine M Benyus

Natural science writer Janine Benyus takes us methodically through the full repertoire of sounds and signals and behaviours of twenty creatures from five different parts of the world in order to help us better understand the ways in which they communicate. Through the pages of this book we come to know not just how to interpret what we see our fellow animals doing when we go to the zoo but who they would be—and how they would be—if we were to able to meet and observe them on their own home ground. Continue reading

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‘Protecting the Wild: Parks and Wilderness, the Foundation For Conservation’ by George Wuerthner, Eileen Crist, and Tom Butler (Editors)

As John Terborgh points out in his Foreword: One of the great challenges to be faced by conservationists now and in the future will be that of clarifying in the public mind the distinction between ecosystem services and biodiversity protection. A program can, in some cases, provide both. In this book we hear the voices of several dozen conservationists from around the world, including well-known spokespeople like Jane Goodall and George Monbiot, about how these challenges are being met.
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‘Hell and High Water: Climate Change, Hope and the Human Condition’ by Alastair McIntosh

This would be a good book for study in schools because it offers scientific and technical information about ecology, sociology and psychology at a level that is very accessible. The author, a Scottish environmentalist, relates this to the inner life and thence the outward actions of all of us. Essentially, it’s a book about climate change and the human mind-set that has brought it about but continues to deny any responsibility. It also gives us constructive suggestions for a way forward. 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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‘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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‘Love Letter to the Earth’ by Thich Nhat Hanh

It has been said before that we will not protect what we do not love. In this sweet book, Thich Nhat Hanh not only shows his love for our beautiful planet, but fully explains how the planet is lovable. He reminds us of Earth’s many blessings and leaves us with practical examples of how it behoves every one of us to create a loving relationship with her. Continue reading

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‘The View from Lazy Point: A Natural Year in an Unnatural World’ by Carl Safina

Set primarily in the sandy, windswept area around the author’s home at Lazy Point on the eastern tip of Long Island, New York and organized around the calendar year, this book includes beautiful, detailed observations of Nature and the changes that happen as the seasons slowly revolve. Plus it is interspersed with commentaries and descriptions of various field trips made to other places far north and far south. Witnessing and documenting this ‘natural year in an unnatural world,’ Safina shows how the problems of the environment are linked to questions of social justice and the politics of greed. Continue reading

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SACRED SEED: A Collection of Essays. Compiled and edited by the Global Peace Initiative of Women with an introduction by Vandana Shiva

This is a collection of essays dedicated, as the front matter tells us, …to all those working to preserve and care for the Earth and Her life systems…the most dangerous war humankind is engaged in is the war against nature. Until we can learn to live peacefully with Nature we will not live peacefully with one another. The seed is frequently referred to in belief systems because it provides such a powerful metaphor for the hidden depths within natural systems that are essential to our existence on this planet, both physically and spiritually; the spiritual and the practical are brought together seamlessly in the essays in this book. Continue reading

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‘A Cree Healer and His Medicine Bundle: Revelations of Indigenous Wisdom–Healing Plants, Practices, and Stories’ by David Young, Robert Rogers and Russell Willier

 pbk 328 pp               North Atlantic Books 2015  ISBN: 978-1583949030    Reviewed by Richard Adams ___________________________________________________________________________________ Russell Wilier is a North American healer. He was born in northern Alberta into the largest group of first Nations people in Canada – the Cree. … 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.
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‘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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‘People Habitat: 25 Ways to Think About Greener, Healthier Cities’ by F. Kaid Benfield

As well as easy access to the places we go to for shopping, services, leisure and socializing, human beings need comfort, cosiness, connectedness, clean air, beauty, lovability, safety, atmosphere, diversity and other subtle qualities of place that are hard to name but which we all recognize with our hearts. This book is about turning our existing cities into dense, mixed-use urban environments with high ‘walkability,’ excellent public transit, cycle paths etc., along with greening and revitalizing run-down neighbourhoods and finding ways to retrofit existing suburbs to cope with changing demographics, changing work patterns and dwindling natural resources. Continue reading

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‘Earth Calling: A climate change handbook for the 21st century’ by Ellen Gunter and Ted Carter

Ever since Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, there have been many more books on our desecration of the environment in the name of materialist profit. There is a massive amount of data in this book, also, about the harm we are doing to our Earth, but it is presented here in a readable way. And despite this despairing message of the Earth in peril, the final 80 pages of this book provide a guide to ways each individual can make a positive contribution to survival. Continue reading

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‘Urban Acupuncture’ by Jaime Lerner

Most urban spaces and buildings in the West are designed and built with no sensitivity whatsoever to these subtle energy currents. Which is why Jaime Lerner’s book is called ‘Acupuncture’. It is all about bringing life back into dead spaces and restoring the flow of energy to places where it has been blocked or stifled. Lerner, who was three times mayor of Curitiba, Brazil, and is also an architect and a popular advocate for sustainable and liveable urbanism, describes how some city planners have worked to restore life and dynamism to ailing urban areas.
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‘Embracing Complexity: Strategic Perspectives for an Age of Turbulence’ by Jean G. Boulton, Peter M. Allen and Cliff Bowman

We have, in our western society, the god of science. So often we hear “scientists say…” in the press. And, for many people, this implies a statement of authority. But the problem is that western science is essentially value-less. This mind-set has led to such things as testing on animals, factory farming and the proliferation of deadly weapons. How did we get to this place and what can be done about it? Whilst the book covers a lot of territory, this is the key question it addresses. 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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‘Life in the Soil: A Guide for Naturalists and Gardeners’ by James Nardi

This beautifully presented and well written book tells us all about the living creatures of the soil. Their numbers and variety are prodigious. Once you have looked through this book your attitude to the soil will never be the same again and it is clear that its title is misleading. There is no soil without the life. It is the living things that create the soil and which, if left alone, will maintain it. Continue reading

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‘Resilience Thinking: Sustaining Ecosystems and People in a Changing World’ by Brian Walker and David Salt

Resilience thinking is based on making systems more adaptable, flexible and able to cope with sudden change, rather than trying to optimize their productivity. Continue reading

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‘The Honeymoon Effect: The Science of Creating Heaven on Earth’ by Bruce Lipton

This book about the dynamics of intimate relationships and their potential as a vehicle for personal growth has two things that make it different from other books on relationships: (a) it is written by a biologist and underpinned by science, and (b) it addresses the connection between personal love and planetary healing. Continue reading

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‘The Triumph of Seeds: How grains, nuts, kernels, pulses and pips conquered Nature and shaped human history’ by Thor Hanson

Just as William Blake talked about seeing the world in a grain of sand, Thor Hanson is able to see the whole world in a seed. And through his writing, he opens that world to us. From the tiniest, almost invisible seed of an epiphytic orchid to the forty-pound coco de mer, seeds come in all shapes and sizes and colours and employ an amazing diversity of methods for dispersing themselves and finding their way to somewhere they can germinate and grow. On that search and that settlement of seed into soil, now rests the whole of life on land—our own human lives included.
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‘Spiritual Activism: Leadership as Service’ by Alastair McIntosh and Matt Carmichael

Spiritual activism is about being both ‘spiritually active,’ i.e. inspiring others, as well as being ‘spiritually grounded,’ i.e. being a compassionate activist with protests and practical action. It has ten chapters covering a wide range of territory, each ending with a case study featuring a well-known person who has been involved in spiritual activism such as Julia Butterfly Hill, Gandhi, Muhammad (pbuh) and Desmond Tutu. 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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‘Out of the Labyrinth: Who We Are, How We Go Wrong and What We Can Do about It’ by Carl Frankel

This book addresses the elements in human nature that either propel one in the direction of living in harmony with the earth or, as is the usual case, carry on as though a connection didn’t exist. Continue reading

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‘Spiritual Ecology: The Cry of the Earth’ Edited by Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee

Our present ecological crisis—accelerating climate change, species depletion, pollution and acidification of the oceans — is the greatest man-made disaster this planet has ever faced. There is a pressing need to articulate a spiritual response to this ecological crisis if we are to help bring the world as a living whole back into balance and in this book, under the editorship of Sufi teacher and author Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, twenty powerful voices take it in turns to do that, each in his or her own way. Continue reading

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‘Animal Wisdom: Learning from the Spiritual Lives of Animals (Sacred Activism)’ by Linda Bender

This author, a scientifically trained veterinarian, who has worked with animal all her life, talks to us about the way animals think and feel and dwell–unlike us–in the ever-present moment. They have a lot to teach us. She encourages her readers “…to think of intuitive, telepathic communication with animals as a natural ability that you once had and have temporarily misplaced rather than as a supernatural power that you are trying to acquire.” It is, she says, a skill that is achievable by all of us. A lovely, thought-provoking and insightful book. Continue reading

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‘Saved by the Sea: Hope, Heartbreak and Wonder in the Blue World’ by David Helvarg

Most of us are unaware of the extent to which humans are destroying the ecosystems of our planet’s vast seas and oceans. But for David Helvarg, who loves the sea and loves to swim and surf and dive and really interact with the water—and who is also a trained journalist with deep passions and an enquiring mind—there is no way to ignore the tragedy that is happening in that vast, salty realm and to all who live there, from the tiniest krill to the largest whale. And no way to shirk the task of telling the world about it.
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‘Vitamin N: The Essential Guide to a Nature-Rich Life’ by Richard Louv

Dazzled and seduced by 21st century technology, our children—and we ourselves—tend to spend so much time staring at screens nowadays that there is no time left for a walk in the woods, for gazing dreamily into the night sky or even for enjoying some peace and silence. Following on from Last Child in the Woods and The Nature Principle, this third book from Richard Louv is a huge and marvellous collection of ideas and resources aimed at getting families of all ages back outside and interacting with the rest of Nature. 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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‘Becoming Animal: An Earthy Cosmology’ by David Abram

An essential first step in repairing the damage we have done to the planet and to ourselves may be to go back to basics and, literally, to come to our senses.
Not only must we fully re-inhabit our animal bodies but we must also become aware of our vital interconnectedness with all other creatures. And for tutoring us and inspiring us in these twin tasks I have never met a better teacher than David Abram. Continue reading

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‘Wild Mind: A Field guide to the human psyche’ by Bill Plotkin

Plotkin, an eco-psychologist and wilderness guide well known for his earlier books Soulcraft and Nature and the Human Soul, turns his attention now to a complete and holistic re-visioning of psychology. Rather than focusing on pathology and dysfunction as most psychologists—except perhaps the Jungian ones—have done, his focus is on wellness. Not just wellness in the sense of being ‘normal’ and well-functioning but in the much wider and deeper context of our existence as just one species among many and just one aspect of ‘all-that-is.’ Continue reading

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‘Collapsing Consciously: Transformative Truths for Turbulent Times’ by Carolyn Baker

In a collapsing world, it is no good surviving physically unless we can also survive—and help each other survive—emotionally and spiritually, and the aim of this book is to help us do just that. The first two-thirds of the book describe and explain, in 109 easy-to-read, wisdom-packed pages, the psycho-spiritual preparations that need to be made for the collapse that has already begun, and why, even though the collapse may be a long, slow process, it is so vital that we start making them. The last third consists of a carefully-chosen set of 52 weekly ‘meditations’ – in the sense of quotes and thoughts to be pondered upon – all geared towards helping us deal with the collapse of our old world whilst also saving and guarding the seeds we hope to plant in the new one that will—we hope—eventually rise from the ruins.
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‘The Practitioner’s Encyclopedia of Flower Remedies: The Definitive Guide to All Flower Remedies, their Making and Uses’ by Clare G. Harvey

Clare Harvey writes that Dr Bach told her grandmother that though his essences were complete in themselves in the future there would be the need for essences from all over the world. Over the last 30 or so years there has been a worldwide explosion of new essences so that from the first 28 discovered by Dr Bach there are now literally thousands. In this compilation the writer has collected over 3,000 essences and combination remedies and listed them by continent and producer with the explanations and applications provided by their suppliers. Each section has its own introduction and the whole provides a very comprehensive reference book. Continue reading

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‘Re-enchanting the Forest: Meaningful Ritual in a Secular World’ by William Ayot

William defines ritual as activities that bring about a change: “symbolic actions through which we can give our soul or psyche an important message”. He says that from ritual we can receive clear and potent messages; have a sense of belonging, but most importantly receive the gift of connection with Nature, with the other-than-human. Ritual can put us in direct connection with the mysterious, the numinous, the Other. 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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‘Sweat Your Prayers: Movement As Spiritual Practice’ by Gabrielle Roth

Gabrielle Roth’s dance system or ‘the five rhythms’ isn’t about definite steps, but about responding directly to music and moving however you feel. The five rhythms are supposed to be the five basic types of process which underlie all music, even though they are often found mixed together. Continue reading

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‘Manifesto of the Poor’ by Franciso Van der Hoff Boersma

  Permanent Publications, 20141, 66 pp ISBN 978-1-85623-170-1 Reviewed by Ian Mowll _______________________________________________________________________________ This book is refreshingly gutsy and down-to-earth. It is written by Francisco Van der Hoff Boersma who was a co-founder of Fairtrade. The author is a Dutch … Continue reading

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