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Heal the Witch Wound, by Celeste Larsen

Heal The Witch Wound: Reclaim Your Magic and Step Into Your Power, by Celeste Larsen
Weiser Books, 1578637988, 208 pages, April 2023

Personal safety is something that is of great concern in today’s society. From hate groups attacking those trying to live their lives to the “everyday” violence that is commonplace, we all just want to be safe to be who we are. While this book, Heal The Witch Wound: Reclaim Your Magic and Step Into Your Power, focuses on feeling safe with respect to magical practices, Celeste Larsen has also managed to weave in a broader spectrum of what personal safety means individually as well as on a greater scale.

The introduction begins with a simple explanation of the “witch wound”, and Larsen describes it as “a collective, intergenerational, psychic wound that is rooted in the Burning Times – an era of widespread persecution and violence against suspected witches.”1

Anyone with this wound will usually hide their spiritual beliefs and practices out of fear of being judged or shamed or rejected. Without taking away from the basis of this book, I find many parallels between this and the situation of other groups in current society. To be clear, this is a personal observation that I am making and not meant to take away from this book in any way.

Larsen has drawn on her experience as a pagan witch, writer, and ritualist to produce a work that is more of a how-to rather than a reference book. To me, this is excellent news as I need a guide and not just theory in this realm. The book is comprised of three parts that each deal with a specific aspect of the healing journey. The first section deals with the root of the wound and goes into detail around the creation of it as well as its legacy. Larsen’s writing is simple, straightforward and honest, and manages to put the reader at ease while imparting some tough information around the wound and its causes.

The second part of this spectacular book focuses on the symptoms of the witch wound, something I hadn’t even considered. In fact, as I read this section, I was struck by the number of things mentioned that I completely identified with. It didn’t even occur to me that it might be a result of the witch wound I carry.

I had a very visceral reaction to one part specifically where Larsen writes:

“Of all the ways the witch wound can show up, fear of being authentically heard and seen is undoubtedly the most pervasive. How often do you stifle your own voice out of fear of being too outspoken, too opinionated, too sensitive, too demanding, too honest, too much?”2

This specific part hit me really hard. I’ve been told my whole life to be quiet, sit down, keep my hands to myself, don’t talk so loud, “why are you laughing so loudly?”, and all that. I have never felt comfortable around people simply because I’m afraid that I will be too much of something and then I’ll be made to feel less-than as a result.

Reading this book made me realize that this wound I carry that presents in this way is something of a gift. Stay with me here. Knowing that I am holding back my awesomeness for the sake of other people’s comfort means that I am much more awesome than I think I am. And I think I’m pretty awesome.

Seriously though, reading about how this wound affects daily life if nothing is done to heal it opened my eyes to how important self-care is. Part three of the book delves deeply into this with a whole host of various ways to heal certain aspects of the wound. My personal favorite deals with moving into personal magic and power.

Here, Larsen talks about the ways in which practitioners can talk about individual magic and specific practices in a way that honors them while also maintaining a certain level of privacy. There is an acknowledgement that no two practitioners will refer to themselves in the same way, nor does their individual practices align. In this way, Larsen states that personal comfort comes before any sort of declaration that might be made concerning someone’s personal craft.

Larsen writes honestly with an authentic voice and the situations presented in the book by way of confirming the various suggestions presented feel like they have been actually lived by the author. I felt many echoes as I read and aligned with many of the situations that Larsen describes throughout the book by way of sharing her personal story. 

Heal the Witch Wound is an excellent book for those who feel they cannot ‘come out’ as a practitioner of magic and who feel they need to stifle themselves in order to fit it. You don’t have to dim your own light in order for other people to shine, and you don’t have to stay small for other people’s comfort. This isn’t to say that there shouldn’t be consideration for others: depending on what your situation is you might feel it’s in your best interest to be silent about what you do. This book is meant to reframe the way in which we look at how we express ourselves in the world we live in and helps us see where we can make positive changes to bring us into more alignment.

A Healer’s Journey to Intuitive Knowing, by Dolores Krieger, Ph.D.

A Healer’s Journey to Intuitive Knowing: The Heart of Therapeutic Touch, by Dolores Krieger, Ph.D., R.N.
Bear & Company Books, 1591433934, 156 pages, July 2021

In this book, which was published posthumously by Dolores Krieger’s estate, the primary goal is to explore how the healing modality of Therapeutic Touch utilizes the healer’s intuition and compassion to move energy and bring about healing. A Healer’s Journey to Intuitive Knowing: The Heart of Therapeutic Touch chronicled experiences by Krieger during her 50+ years as a nurse, instructor, and champion of hands on healing. She wrote this book before her death at the age of 97.

Krieger published several books in her lifetime and was co-founder with Dora Kunz of Therapeutic Touch. She met Kunz when she was a nurse and had just received her Ph.D. degree. (I found a number of articles about both of these women, as well as a man who began his journey by healing horses and then other animals with his hands. Later, he began to channel healing to children, and when he moved to Canada, he became part of a study with Kunz  and Krieger regarding hands on healing.)

As a Reiki Master myself, I was interested in learning more about hands on healing and the roles that intuition, intention and compassion play in the healing process. I was particularly interested in Krieger’s chronicle of the connection between the healer and the person being healed. Her philosophy shared that the person who is laying on hands is simply supporting the person to get in touch with their own ability to heal themselves. 

Including both case histories and information from scientific studies, Krieger showed how Therapeutic Touch (TT) taps into what she calls the “Inner Self” of the healer. TT has been taught in over 80 universities and over 90 countries around the world. Krieger explained the process as: 

“Ancient healing practices that are incorporated into the TT process include the laying on of hands, deep visualization, touch with and without physical contact, sustained centering of the TT therapist’s consciousness, the therapist’s knowledgeable use of certain of her chakras, and the intentional therapeutic use of breath and touch. Prime is the centering of the healer’s consciousness; throughout the TT interaction she remains in the state of ‘sustained centering.’ This becomes the background of the process, as she includes other practices that are appropriate to the condition of each individual seeking healing.”1

Next, she discussed the role of “compassion as power.”2 She saw compassion as “the catalyst or tiny chemical reaction that lights the benevolent intention to help or heal.”3 I’ve read quite a few books on hands on healing and never have I read about the role of compassion. This book gave me a greater understanding of how healing energy works and how I can fine tune my own energy and my energy centers to allow more healing energy to flow through me. 

In discussing the role of the “Inner Self,” which Krieger named “Issie”, she explained that in her view, the Inner Self is “essentially the soul-the spiritual or innermost part of an individual’s being.”4 By doing the grounding, centering and tapping into the essence of oneself, the healer grows and transforms herself along with the healing journeys of her patients. As I read the book and engaged with the steps for healing sessions that she described, I began to use what I was learning to create a different style of healing session for my loved ones and friends.

As I did a healing session for my husband one evening, I was more aware than ever before of my ability to allow the healing energy to flow through me and also became aware of “seeing” the blockage of energy near his large intestine. As I continued to allow the energy to flow, I could see him visibly relax and later he would report a lessening of the pain he had felt and some sense of relief from his diverticulitis. 

Krieger’s writing style is a great combination of scientific paper and compassionate healer notes. I love how she shared 18 in-person healing sessions, complete with her initial thoughts as she approached the person through the assessment and then the “rebalance.”5 While the notes were clear and complete, there is an underlying sense of the compassion she felt for every patient. This came shining through each case study. Later in the book, Krieger also highlighted case notes from distance healing sessions. I especially enjoyed this section, since a lot of my own healing practice happens through long-distance healing requests.

This book is a true compendium on TT and she shared not only a bibliography, but also a glossary, a list of TT resources and an index.  The index is particularly helpful in referring to key ideas in the book. Toward the end of the book, Krieger shared a poem that she wrote “On the Possible Magic of Healing.”  I’ll share a portion of it here, because it is so beautiful and captured the heart of TT:

“Healing is a window into a natural magic.
There it is,
a lump of wounded flesh,
and then touch,
Therapeutic Touch . . .

ABRACADABRAH!

Unseen clouds
Of inert biochemical molecules
Are drawn
In an uncanny manner
To the site of the wound
Quietly
Sorting themselves out en route
To match
The needs of the damaged tissues.”6

As a final note from Krieger, here is a quote on energy:  

“The prime characteristics of energy are that it flows or is continuous as it moves through space, that its flow has a coherence or rhythm, and that it has the capacity to do work.  Its flow has been described on a continuum from slow to fast, strong to weak, unimpeded to congested, tenuous to thick, or quiet to tumultuous, depending upon the situation.  Its rhythm has been characterized as steady or irregular, in harmony or unharmonious, in sync or disorganized.”7 

A Healer’s Journey to Intuitive Knowing would be great for any student of hands on healing, from the new Reiki student to the master of cranial sacral healing to the experienced massage therapist.  Anyone who would like to take their healing practice to a new level will benefit from reading this book. This book will not only improve your abilities to channel healing energies, it will also contribute to your own spiritual growth and transformation.

Heal Yourself and the World with Tai-chi, by Bob Klein

Heal Yourself and the World with Tai-chi: How to make your life powerful and become a healer, by Bob Klein
Artistic Video, 189219869X, 428 pages, January 2021

Reading Bob Klein’s Heal Yourself and the World with Tai-chi: How to make your life powerful and become a healer was truly an epic voyage. At just over four hundred pages of pure text, this book is an ocean of experience and wisdom that can help the reader come to a deeper, harmonious resonance with themselves and, by extension, the rest of the world.

As Klein advises, simply reading this book cannot bring you the healing understanding indicated in the title. That can only be gained through an embodied practice. However, as a motivational aid and discussion of the fundamental principles of Tai-chi, his book is a perfect starting point for those (like myself) who are intellectually interested in the practice, but have yet to take the first physical steps on this path.

Klein presents a fascinating tour of the guiding principles of Tai-chi and zookinesis with a writing style that is both easy to comprehend and full of profound insight. His constant use of metaphor and analogy often grounds his exposition through humor, and allows him to clearly communicate ideas that might otherwise be quite “heady” and abstract. For instance he writes:

“The image you use to influence the body should be passive – like hitting a gong and letting the sound do the work of reaching everyone’s ear. . . Once you hit the gong, you don’t need to then run over to everyone and push them toward the dining room.”1

This style is a perfect reflection of one of Klein’s main points throughout the book: that modern human beings have become terribly divorced from embodied experience. Our awareness is all too often solely localized to our heads: our mind as opposed to our body.

Again, this is why reading the book isn’t ultimately going to impart the transformative knowledge that Klein talks about. Alongside the book, he recommends using videos (if not attending classes) to develop the expanded awareness necessary to heal oneself and the world.

However, Klein also notes that only taking classes or learning the Tai-chi forms may not yield this embodied awareness either, as he laments that many contemporary teachers possess only a shallow understanding of Tai-chi’s power. Similar to the typical yoga classes that you find nowadays, they are all form and no substance: simply an exercise for the body.

This is one of the main reasons why I found Heal Yourself and the World with Tai-chi so stimulating: it is a companion text to the practice which allows one to find the deeper power of Tai-chi when a suitable teacher/class isn’t available. In our time of remote/online classes – rather than traditional, in-person mentorship of the past – Klein’s book is perfect for marrying a purely form-based practice to the deeper wisdom of your “body-mind.”

This book is most definitely not an instruction manual for the Tai-chi forms, so if that’s your only interest, Klein’s book is probably not for you. Nor is it solely a discussion of the practice of Tai-chi itself. There is an incredible breadth to the topics in the book, and it often feels more like a spiritual treatise than a text about the practice. But this is in no way a bad thing, and is precisely the reason that the book is an ideal supplement for the physical practice of Tai-chi. 

The winding flow of Klein’s style carries you along from one topic to the next, weaving an integrated philosophical narrative while always bringing you back to the grounded, embodied discussion of the practice. If you are a reader who likes short, contained sections with lots of page-breaks and subject headers, you might have a little difficulty moving through this book. But I think that Klein’s way of writing perfectly reflects many of the principles that Tai-chi helps you to learn. The book itself exemplifies these ideas through its holistic presentation and through its demonstration of the interconnectedness of its various topics.

Sometimes you might get the sense that the text is a little repetitive, but I never found this to detract from the book. In fact, rather than being directly repetitive, I think it’s more that Klein takes you on circuitous detours in his exploration of a given topic. So, when he returns to the original point, this is what might give the impression of “I’ve been here before.” However, you have come back to the idea with new insights, metaphors, and explanations that were gained in the interim. I love the organic feel that this writing style lends to the book – it feels like Klein is guiding you through explorations of a living landscape rather than leading you down a dry, flat road.

Again, this reflects another principle emphasized by Tai-chi: awareness that is not one-dimensional. We are obsessed with linearity in the modern age: straight roads, squared-off architecture, rational/scientific modes of thought. While none of these might be “bad” per se, the accumulation of linearity in our lives gets us stuck outside the rhythms and patterns of Nature. Klein presents the intriguing point that flat walking surfaces, such as our floors and sidewalks, contributes to one’s awareness staying confined to the head, rather than being distributed throughout the whole body.

We don’t have to be aware of our environment (and can “get things done” in our minds) because the ground is so predictable – and yet, we might trip over the slightest imperfection. The unfortunate consequence is that, while convenient in some ways, traveling across linear ground removes us from being aware – being present – to the here and now.

Although many of the principles that Klein discusses will be familiar to those familiar with Taoism and other spiritual traditions originating in Asia, I think the aspects of Heal Yourself and the World with Tai-chi that sets it apart from other books are two-fold. First, Klein’s self-exemplary style – the form of the text is aligned with its content – and second, his emphasis on embodied practice rather than purely intellectual understanding. These two features allow this book to truly stand out as an enjoyable journey over Klein’s ocean of wisdom.

Cannabis Healing, by Franjo Grotenhermen, M.D.

Cannabis Healing: A Guide to the Therapeutic Use of CBD, THC, and Other Cannabinoids, by Franjo Grotenhermen, M.D.
Park Street Press, 978-1620558317, 240 pages, 2020

Although I am a medical cannabis patient and an avid proponent of the plant’s myriad healing properties, this was my first experience reading a cannabis “guide.” I was drawn to this book because at just 240 pages, it covers an impressive number of topics. Cannabis Healing: A Guide to the Therapeutic Use of CBD, THC, and Other Cannabinoids, by Franjo Grotenhermen, M.D. is a great resource whether you are new to cannabis, a recreational user, or an experienced patient.

Dr. Grotenhermen is a practicing physician in Germany. Currently, he serves as the executive director of the International Association for Cannabinoid Medicines (IACM) and is a board member of the German Association for Medical Cannabis. Per their website, “the IACM declares that it is the right of doctors to be able to discuss the medicinal use of cannabis with their patients.”1

Cannabis Healing is a complete guide, from the history of cannabis, to its medicinal and nutritional benefits, to the specific methods of administering the medicine. Dr. Grotenhermen focuses on the safety of cannabis, noting throughout the book that cannabis has been proven not only to be effective, but also much safer than other medicinal alternatives.

I read Cannabis Healing over the winter holidays (in between baking cookies and family Zoom calls) so I particularly enjoyed how easy it was to read in sections. I already knew the history of cannabis cultivation and therapeutic use, but Dr. Grotenhermen’s 17-page overview in the first chapter was still an interesting “crash course” for me.

While I appreciated learning about the Western countries that pioneered the sale of medicinal cannabis, I do wish there had been significantly more focus on the ancient cultures that first identified the plant’s medicinal and sacred uses. The chapter is called “History of the Therapeutic Uses of Cannabis”; for a history that is thousands of years long, I think it deserved more than about two pages. 

I was especially interested in reading chapter four, which focuses on Cannabidiol (CBD). CBD has exploded in popularity in recent years, and with good reason. I give it to my dog for separation anxiety and my mother uses it to ease her rheumatoid arthritis pain. Unfortunately, because mainstream therapeutic use of CBD is relatively new, this chapter only mentions older research done on animals, not humans. Dr. Grotenhermen notes that some study results still need to be evaluated, including studies focused on CBD’s potential in treating circulatory and respiratory ailments.2 I think it would have been helpful to read more about CBD, especially as it is more readily available than THC and legal in the United States.

The majority of the book is contained in that chapter “Therapeutic Uses of Tetrahydrocannadbinol (THC).” This chapter details the specific ways in which patients can use cannabis to treat specific ailments or conditions. I learned about several THC treatments that were completely new to me. For example, Dr. Grotenhermen describes a study focused on THC used to help  patients with severe itching that had not responded to prior treatments.3 Not only did the THC treatment help the patients’ quality of sleep, but several reported that it relieved the itching itself. Other therapeutic uses he covers include diabetes, tinnitus, and even hiccups. For a book of its length, this chapter manages to cover more therapeutic uses than I had anticipated.

Chapter eight of the book focuses on hempseed oil. I have used THC and CBD for therapeutic purposes, as well as in cooking, but never hempseed oil. In this chapter, I learned that hempseed oil can be used in place of fish oil to lower LDL blood cholesterol. Because of its anti-inflammatory properties, hempseed oil can also be used to treat symptoms of PMS and rheumatoid arthritis.4 I am continually impressed by the cannabis plant’s therapeutic uses, from its leaves, to its flowers, to its very seeds. I will definitely be purchasing a bottle of hempseed oil on my next supermarket excursion.

I would recommend Cannabis Healing for anyone who is a current medical cannabis patient or is just interested in learning more about this powerful plant. Dr. Grotenhermen manages to cover a lot of ground for such a short book. He even includes a recipe for Cannabis Rum Truffles!5 This book serves as a solid jumping off point, and it has encouraged me to read more books about medicinal and therapeutic cannabis.

The Corona Transmissions, edited by Sherri Mitchell, Richard Grossinger, and Kathy Glass

The Corona Transmissions: Alternatives for Engaging with COVID-19―from the Physical to the Metaphysical, edited by by Sherri Mitchell, Richard Grossinger, Kathy Glass
Healing Arts Press, 644113073, 374 pages, December 2020

It’s been on the forefront of everyone’s mind for nearly a year: COVID-19. The crucial shifts necessitated from the spread of the virus have impacted all aspects of society, One may feel so “over it’ that they avoid having to think more about the topic than they must, but beyond the news, is there a deeper conversation we can be having about the transformative events taking place? The Corona Transmission: Alternatives for Engaging with COVID-19– from the Physical to the Metaphysical edited by Sherri Mitchell, Richard Grossinger, and Kathy Glass is a book I believe everyone should be reading as we slowly start to process what we’ve been through the past year.

The Corona Transmissions sets out to offer a wide variety of perspectives to make sense of what we’ve been living through during the pandemic. The fearful news and horrific stories of COVID-19 have been flooding our awareness since March 2020. As a result, we may be stuck in a mode of thinking that is limited in its capacity to see the greater picture of the role this virus is playing in reshaping our society. This book brings to the forefront the alternative voices out there that may not be highlighted in mainstream media. From poetry to homeopathic medicine, indigenous perspectives of Earth’s restoration to the esoteric lens of astrology and tarot, the writers gift us a new lens to view the pandemic through.

The book is divided into three sections: Overviews and Transmissions, Medical Information and Healing Modalities, and Deconstructions, Divinations, and Visions. While each writer’s work is loosely connected to the others in their section, every view is extremely different based on their own background, identity, and vantage point of what’s going on. The length of each piece varies, which makes for a stimulating read because there’s a variety to the flow of the book. One minute the reader is contemplating the socio-political failings of the nation that have led to an exacerbation of this situation, and in the next reading is focused on the experience of the coronavirus as a living being with its own agency, fostering a dialogue between humanity and the virus.

The uniqueness of each writer’s thoughts is what I really liked most about reading The Corona Transmissions. Since it is a compilation of different perspectives, there is an overwhelming amount of wisdom filling the pages, and discovering the works of people I’ve never heard of before was one of the best parts of reading the book.. I connected to the work of many people that I may not have otherwise been exposed to but whose words I deeply resonated with, such as Barbara Karlsen and Eric Meyers. I was delightfully surprised by how much I enjoyed the perspective of stone alchemist Robert Simmons, who proposed the Earth is opening up a dialogue of communication with us. Additionally the poetry of Zoe Brezsny, Paul Weiss, James Moore, Stephanie Lahar, and Jack Foley was penetrative, emotionally stimulating, and very accurate depictions of the sentiment of this time. There was even a contribution from one of my favorites: Charles Einstein, author of Sacred Economics (one of the best books I’ve ever read).

The second section, Medical Information and Healing Modalities, was probably some of the best medical information I’ve read about COVID-19. This section was packed with data that illuminated the rate of transmission in relationship to other viruses and provided a really grounded perspective of the numbers and statistics that may otherwise be too complex to fully understand. It also was filled with suggestions on how to naturally boost one immune’s system; from supplements to homeopathic remedies, there are many resources within this section to help the reader take control of their own health. There’s even methods to use for if one does contract COVID-19 to ease symptoms and facilitate quicker recovery.

Reading this book has led to a lot of healing within that I didn’t even realize I needed to be doing. Different writers hit spots within my heart and psyche, sparking a growth of consciousness and also nurturing the emotions that have not been “given voice” yet but wanted to be heard. Moving through The Corona Transmission gave me the opportunity to explore my relationship to fear, acknowledge what I’d been going through internally through this pandemic, and also restore hope for the future going forward. As the saying goes, knowledge is power, and this book is a resource that makes me feel more emotionally and spiritually resilient, informed about the nature of this virus, and prepared for what may be to come as we shift to a post-pandemic world.

Much of this COVID-19 experience of quarantining and social distancing has left us in “survival mode.” We’ve been in defense against the virus, forced to make many personal sacrifices for the sake of safety. It certainly has been traumatic, and I’m sure there’s going to be a sense of collective PTSD as we now begin to integrate the experience and move forward. The collection of writing in The Corona Transmission is a step in that direction. It is for this reason I highly recommend it to people who are seeking to create a new relationship with the virus, find emotional balm in the art that’s emerged from the pain, explore alternative medicine to promote health, and open their perspective to better understand the large implications of all that has occurred.

Seeing the grief be turned into wonderful poetry and reading perspectives that contextualize this event in a more optimistic, or at least evolutionary, light reconnected me to a higher purpose. The voices in The Corona Transmission instilled a greater sense of meaning to the events that we’re living through, helping me to shift from a personal view to a transpersonal view that encompasses a greater range of possibilities. Reading the writer’s words made me feel reconnected to humanity, assured that we’re all in this together and there’s space for the perspective of everyone. In fact, it’s vital that we come together and share our thoughts, feelings, and experiences, and this book is a magnificent start to the dismantling, processing, re-envisioning needed to prevail.