Book Review: Shaman Pathways Web of Life
Do you feel a connection with the natural world around you but don’t know how to incorporate that feeling into your life in a tangible way? Have you encountered any number of medicine wheel or web-of-life spiritual traditions that feel familiar but aren’t exactly the right fit for you? This little book has some practical answers for you. I was gratified to read Yvonne Ryves’ book Web of Life, part of the Shaman Pathways series by Moon Books. It offers a set of exercises for finding your own way, your own unique connection with the natural world and the spiritual world within it. Instead of prescribing a pre-fab tradition, Ms. Ryves takes the reader step by step through the process of developing their own spiritual practice that has meaning and purpose for them, from connecting with the sacred directions to contacting spirit guides or teachers. One chapter even includes instructions for creating your own set of cards to use for working with your personal web of life. This can be a daunting task to undertake all alone, but Web of Life sets the method out one piece at a time, allowing the reader to absorb the new experiences at their own pace. Ms. Ryves offers plenty of background information about worldwide traditions and modern science that incorporate the concepts of connection, circularity and webbiness. But ultimately, the path is an individual one, and this book does an excellent job of showing the way. It’s exactly the kind of book I wish I had found years ago.
Reading back through the book for the second time, I realized just how valuable a resource this is in the modern world. So few of us have a connection with any kind of ancestral tradition, beyond perhaps knowing roughly what part of the world our forebears came from. Most of us don't grow up surrounded by Pagan and shamanic practices, but must seek out whatever we can find once we're old enough to start looking. So often, it's hard to find the way that fits each of us best, even after we've sifted through a series of books and websites. "Close but not exactly right" is the description I often hear when people describe how well their current path fits them. Or, "I started with this path but then tweaked it and added this other tradition and I think I still need to add something else."
What Web of Life does is take the reader, step by step, through the process of finding their connection with the spirit world, with Nature, and with the energies that underlie all the different sacred traditions of the world. You start with the basics, the fundamentals, and then build from there. At some point in the process, it might become obvious to you that there's a particular tradition you should learn and practice. Or you might realize, as I did, that there's no one left who does exactly what you're supposed to be doing, so you have to take your lessons directly from the spirits. Ultimately, they're our greatest teachers anyway. But Ryves' deceptively simple book is also a valuable teacher because it shows you how to learn, how to make the connections, how to walk your path, whatever it might look like, wherever it might go.
May your journey be blessed.