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Shamanic Breathwork:
Journeying Beyond the Limits of the Self

by Linda Star Wolf

Review published in New Age Retailer Magazine, February, 2010.

Author Linda Star Wolf is founder of the Venus Rising Institute for Shamanic Healing Arts and has led transformational workshops worldwide since 1984. She developed her Breathwork Process as a shamanic-psychospiritual tool to assist change in the inner landscape through a step-by-step process of symbolic death and rebirth. Participants are intended to develop an ongoing ability to observe the self from an objective perspective and thereby make necessary shifts in consciousness. Although the goal is to discover and embrace one’s sacred purpose, it does not involve journeying out of body or specifically discovering spiritual allies and animal totems. Instead, the process enlivens one’s ability to remove obstacles by awakening the shaman within, so that one is able to accept inner wisdom and bring more depth and richness into life.

The book’s 14 chapters cover orientation to the Shamanic Breathwork Process, the Spiral Path the process follows, the Five Cycles of Shamanic Consciousness, Soul Recovery and Energy Release, addiction, using breathwork when alone, and meditating on 30 shamanic questions. The process developed by the author covers what she calls the five worlds and elements of shamanic consciousness: The Sensory World and its element of Earth, the Rebirthing Level and the element of Water, the Interpersonal/Historical World and the element of Fire, the Archetypal/Mythical/Transpersonal World and the element of Spirit, and the Void World and its element of Air. Each of the five element cycles, or spirals, of shamanic consciousness becomes an alchemical map for consciousness change, covering archetypal experience and colors, along with recognition of positive and negative aspects within each cycle, such as peace/lethargy, grounding/constriction, and passion/impulsiveness. The 30 shamanic questions offer ways to dissolve old ego attachments while understanding that even though they once did serve a purpose, they may no longer be appropriate.

During each step of the process, the author includes her own experiences as well as accounts from a wide variety of workshop participants. Their accounts indicate the benefits of the program for the general reader or participant as well as for those who have been in dependency relationships or who are involved in recovery programs. The book tells how to work with a group or partner and includes a 60-minute CD divided into two parts, one to use with the breathwork session and the other containing three guided meditations.

—Richard D. Wright, Tranquil Things, Derby Line, Vt., February 2010