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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