Vodou Shaman, the Haitian Way of Healing and Power by Ross Heaven. Inner Traditions, Rochester, VT, 2003. Paperback, $16.95.
Vodou seems to many like a very foreign way of looking at the world. To others it is frightening because it uses access to spirits and allies with strange names. But it is truly a marvelously healing discipline which connects all of life.
In this book, Ross Heaven portrays Vodou in all its beauty, and makes it very accessible to those who live outside of it. Open this book to any page, and you find wisdom and healing. I think it fills a great gap in our understandingi.e., the understanding of the spirit world, and how much it is a part of us. For instance, possession of a soul or personality is a concept with which Vodou practitioners are comfortable. Possession? We ask. But just think about how often you hear anothers voice in you guiding your behavior. Many of us spend years reducing our parents voices, so that our own can be heard. This is surely possession.
One reviewer says that Ross Heaven does for Vodou what Carlos Castaneda did for shamanism. But there are big differences. Heaven reads much more smoothly and easily, and his work is practical. Even for those of us outside of the tradition, there are many healing ideas which we can apply, many of them simple.
Some other review comments from the shamanic community give an idea of Heavens treatment of this strangeto most of ushealing discipline:
Dr. Eve Bruce, medical doctor and author of Shaman, M.D. says, "It is often in the places we least expect it, that we find the deepest spirituality. Vodou, the least well known, most feared, and even most ridiculed form of shamanism, is one of those places. In this must-read book we find a pragmatic way of being in spirit; one desperately needed as we face the challenge of living in this time of great change."
Kristin Madden, author of Pagan Parenting and The Book of Shamanic Healing says, "A groundbreaking book that will contribute to the knowledge, diversity, and healing in this world. Ross Heaven writes with heart and wisdom about a true return to spirit."
AnotherSimon Buxton, Founder of The Sacred Trust and author of The Shamanic Way of the Bee: "A most important and valuable study of Vodouand an amazing adventure story to boot! In this book we have a rich slice of superior writing in which personal encounters, vivid travelogue, and anecdote blend beautifully into an intelligent and well-informed guide to a fascinating spiritual tradition and a secret world."
John Perkins, author of The Spirit of the Shuar, says "Ross Heaven is a modern sage. In this book we not only learn about Vodou and experience its powers firsthand, we also pass through portals to higher levels of consciousness."
"The experience of Vodou is one of joy, dance, drums, and song. It is an experience that enables all of us to connect with our spirits and the infinite power of the universe. This practical book is a valuable guide to how we can all achieve joy in our lives." Amoda, author of Moving Into Ecstasy.
There are other similar comments which help to describe this most unusual, valuable, and eminently readable book. Reading it will surely raise your consciousness.
The chapter titles are as intriguing as is the text:
Between Two Worlds
The Quest for Power
Acts of Faith and Power
Becoming Gods Fools
The Power to Heal
The Tree of Weeping Souls
Dreaming the New World
Most of us know almost nothing about Vodou, not even the correct spelling. But Vodou inspired the only successful slave revolt in history. The Haitians defeated the French and then the British to become an independent nation in 1804. (See Archive issues of Daykeeper for April, May and June 2004.)
Says recording artist and dance teacher Tim Booth in his introduction, "The real meal offered here is a journey into the essence of Vodouhow we can make contact with and attune ourselves to new spiritual realities."
To read this book is to enter into the fascinating, exotic-seeming world of Vodou. We are allowed glimpses of moving into other dimensions.
This is another book which I couldnt set down. It has greatly enriched my world, and I highly recommend to everyone.
Ross Heaven is a shamanic teacher, and Vodou Houngan. He is the author of The Journey to You and Spirit in the City. He lives in England.