A reader review posted on Amazon re Leo’s Book;
By Karen S. Blair-imrie (Scotland) – See all my reviews
Shamanic Path Workbook by Leo Rutherford.
Publishers: Arima Books.
I’ve looked forward to this book ever since reading Principles of Shamanism by the same author (now renamed The Way of Shamanism). Leo Rutherford founded Eagle’s Wing Centre for Contemporary Shamanism in 1987 after training with such respected teachers as Hyemeyohsts Storm, Harley Swiftdeer, Prem Das, Gabrielle Roth, and Joan Halifax. More recently he has trained with Don Eduardo Calderon, an Inca shaman in Peru. His teachings are rooted in Native American (North, Central, and South) traditions, with particular emphasis on the medicine wheel of the ancient Mayans.
Although there is much ancient wisdom here, Leo believes that, to act effectively and with integrity (as a shaman must), a person must first heal the wounds suffered in the past “so the present and future can be free of ancestral burdens, shame, guilt,” etc.. To this end, his teaching begins with the self. “How we see ourselves is the root of how we experience our world.” Much of this book is about uncovering and putting into perspective key events in life’s great journey – “chaos, catastrophe, magic moments, love and loss, successes and surprises”. Traditional methods such as the vision quest, sweat lodge, trance dance, and of course the shamanic journey are employed to help the student reach inner truth and harmony, and, by so doing, “contact the timeless reality that exists parallel to and just out of sight of the world we so mistakenly call the `real world’. It is here in the everyday that we experience the reflections of who we are, of our actions, our deepest beliefs, our `dreams’, but it is in the non-manifest world of the spirit that the hidden causal interactions take place. Hidden, that is, until we begin to open the doors and `see’. That is the ultimate purpose of the path of shamanism.”
Leo describes the non-ordinary realities of the shaman, the upper, lower (or under) and middle worlds to which he/she journeys. He gives examples of how shamans heal. The use of illusion, ceremony and ritual, how to journey, the similarity of the medicine wheel to stone circles and how to work with one are also covered. Each chapter has exercises that anyone can do, although I can tell you from my own experience with these exercises that you get out of them what you put in! In fact, that is one of the most important messages in the book. To grow and change, to understand and face the truths about ourselves, takes tremendous courage. We have to want it, for otherwise nothing happens.
But this isn’t a dry DIY manual for trainee shamans, although it holds a wealth of information. Leo Rutherford writes from the heart. His own personal struggle to reach these truths has given him the knowledge to guide others. This is not just a book about what shamans do, or how they do it. It is a book about how to open ourselves, and, by so doing, to open to the universe – to other people and other realities -, to the magical child within us all. And, as Leo says, “The magical child can only use power for the good of all, and would not know a manipulation if it fell over one.” What a recipe for life.
COVER PAINTING: Howard G. Charing