Reviewed by Lisa Newing
I started reading this book on a dark, cold and wet winter’s night, snuggled at home in front of the fire in the fading light of the day. The story starts gently, in modern times with a sick young woman searching for answers as she struggles to make sense of her modern, stressed and disconnected life. The pace quickens and soon becomes a rich woven tapestry of culture, spiritual practices and awareness, people, experiences, love and landscapes that is hard to put down.
This is a story woven between generations and landscapes, between modern day and the past, between the living and their ancestors. The story unfolds as we follow one women’s journey deep into herself; her spiral into the heart of the labyrinth to stand in front of the mirror and look into the depths of her soul as she seeks healing. The writing is imaginative, eloquent and draws one in, I could not put the book down. The imagery is so rich and detailed, it was as if I was there in the story, with the characters, experiencing their world, their sensations and their journey.
This is a very shamanic story, rich with Goddess imagery and references, and deeply grounded and connected to Earth Mother Gaia. Spanning different generations the book explores concepts of separation from each other, our Gods and Goddesses and from nature, and uses this to explore our modern day culture of separation being experienced by so many at this time. It is a story of deep soul searching, and finding, of opening and expanding and of becoming all we can be through love in all its forms. The narrative was deeply evocative, and I particularly enjoyed the exploration of the priestess’s role within the community as oracle, and the deep respect of the people for the special role of the community’s spiritual guides to the health and wellbeing of all.
Inherent to the story is an exploration of environmental issues, of consumerism and the need to have more material goods, and how a deep sense of disconnection from the soul feeds consumerism, addictions and the need to destroy. It is an exploration of humanities continuing impact on the planet. The story provides a deep perspective on ‘progress’ and the costs both obvious and hidden. None of this was in any way preaching, embedded in the story the destruction of natural habitats for ‘progress’ becomes the desiccation that it is, with all the inherent impact on the resident community, and the sadness that brings. The story reminded me of how upset I had been as a child driving past old trees marked for chopping down, I remembered that I can hear the Trees and that I used to listen deeply to nature.
This is the kind of book that makes you stop, think and reflect and I loved it. Reading this book gave me a deep sense of peace, of engagement and connection with all of life in its many facets, a wonderful awareness of my ancestors and their influence on the person that I am today and perhaps most importantly a sense of my own journey to the heart of my labyrinth and beyond. As the days lengthen into summer, with long warm days and balmy nights I would encourage everyone to read this remarkable story.
The Heart of the Labyrinth by Nicole Schwab is published by Womancraft Publishing, in 2014. 195 pages, paperback with decent sized print!
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