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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on 11 February 2001
In this exquisitely written book, Martin Prechtel describes his rather suprising journey to becoming a shaman in a traditional Guatemalan village. It's suprising because he doesn't set out to become a shaman; he leaves North America because it's no longer working for him and he needs to go somewhere else, anywhere else..... and he winds up in an extraordinary Mayan village, full of wonderful characters. Not least of these characters is his teacher, Nicolas Chiviliu Tacoxoy ("Chiv"), whom he first meets after he has been in the village for three days: "..... I felt someone grab my collarbone muscles so hard I went to my knees. A voice behind my head chuckled and croaked right into my left ear:.......... "How come you came late, Curley?"...... ". At this time Chiv is in his eighties, and he doesn't mean "why are you three days late?", he means "why are you two years late?". Martin, for his part recognises Chiv as the same man who had appeared in eleven magical dreams the previous year. They go straight away to perform a gruelling all-night ceremony, and it never really stop from then on. The book describes Martin Prechtel's training, his initiation (when he nearly dies) and his work as a shaman. He gives a clear outline of a shaman's work and why this is necessary to the whole community. He also tells some good stories, such as Chiv's apparent death, followed by rigor mortis and sprightly revival. Some of the ceremonial descriptions are fascinating, some are gripping and some are hilarious. He lovingly describes how he, as a twenty year old has to learn as much as everyone else in the village, as they all accept that they forgot all they knew soon after birth and have to re-member. The only slight thing is that he is twenty years later in starting, but everyone is very tolerant of this fact. He describes his fellow villagers with beauty and deep respect, and the work he describes, along with the attitude to the planet is profound. For anyone interested in self development or the healing arts, I feel this is an important book.
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on 5 November 2013
I really enjoyed reading this real life story of transformation and challenge. So much of it is painful to read when considering the damage done to indigenous peoples across the world. Damage that continues to this day. It seems tragic that so much of the skills and knowledge has been swept away in an angry, greedy tide that never creates, only consumes and destroys. I would hope to meet with Martin Prechtel one day... either in this world or the other worlds of the Shaman.
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on 22 November 2013
This is a lovely book, so relevant to where we are now in the modern west, ie. LOST in a materialistic and technological labyrinth, completely alienated from the magic in nature that our ancestors would have lived and breathed. What a precious jewel of a book this is. Written with deep feeling and love, humour and great honesty.
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on 16 September 2015
An awesome book, written by a shaman about his training in Guatemala. A rare slice of life.
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