The Heart of Life is an exploration into the depths of what it means to be alive, when the ‘cellophane packaging we wrap around life to keep it safe and sterile has been unwrapped and discarded’. It reveals how the ancient path of shamanism and indigenous wisdom can offer us solutions to the many problems facing the modern world, both global and collective. It offers a unique cosmology that explores how these problems, from potential global ecological catastrophe to the multitude of mental and physical illnesses afflicting individuals, are intrinsically linked and how they can be treated. How the soul sickness that is affecting the modern world may well be the initiation we are going through as a species. This is illustrated through the personal and professional experiences of contemporary shaman Jez Hughes, who cured himself successfully of convulsive fits and mental illnesses using shamanic methods and has since gone on to treat thousands of people in the same way.
REVIEWS & ENDORSEMENTS
This is the first book by Jez Hughes, who also wrote the lead article in this issue of Sacred Hoop. The book is about living and sacred connectedness, and it’s written from a shamanic view-point, encouraging the reader to take on a more animistic life, and giving pointers and examples as to how this can be achieved. It’s also part autobiographical, as Jez talks openly about his own path, his own ‘separations’ and his own search for healing.
Thankfully, it is not another one of that plethora of ‘How to Become a Shaman’ books that fall onto my review pile far too often, but instead quietly and articulately points out the dis-ease at the core of our culture and offers thoughtful reflective answers to both its nature and its remedy. It’s plant-spirit based in some places - because that is Jez’s personal path - but if that is not your cup of [ayahuasca] tea you won’t find the book grating in those sections. A thoughtful observed and clearly reasoned book. ~ Nicholas Breeze Wood, Sacred Hoop Magazine
The Heart of Life is a shaman's story - both the personal story of one man's initiation into shamanism and the story of how shamanic healing could help all of us on this planet to break out of destructive cycles and make the world a better place. I know that might sound a tad pretentious, but the book is written with such honesty that it doesn't come across as pretentious when you read it.
Author Jez Hughes didn't set out to be a shaman - as a kid he wanted to be a footballer - but a series of shamanic experiences, starting when he was a child, led him on his path of self discovery and insight. His experiences were diagnosed as periods of mental illness, but by going through them, and not only overcoming them but also realising that there were lessons to be learnt by them, he become an archetypal "wounded healer".
Jez says: "The path of the shaman/healer involves intense initiations that cause them to face their darkest sides and the darker side of life. This is why they are known as ‘wounded healers’. Training can help with this, but in a way the best training is the initiatory illness that they go through."
Many of the books you will find about shamanism these days are written either by academics or by those who as an adult have consciously chosen to follow a shamanic path. This is the personal story of someone who very much had shamanism thrust upon them. It is a fascinating read. Even if you are sceptical about shamanism, Jez's personal story is a gripping one and if you don't agree with everything he says, the genuineness of his convictions are nevertheless thought-provoking. ~ Lucya Starza, Badwitch Blog
In The Heart of Life author Jez Hughes takes a thoughtful and insightful look into how the path of shamanism can bring solutions to the many current issues the human race suffers, both collectively and as individuals.
The author includes aspects from his own personal life story and experiences – it was during his first seizure as a child he first encountered a sensation he could only describe as ‘absolute ecstasy’. This was followed by a period of ill health, self-medication, travel, exploration and the search for personal healing. His initiation lasted a long time, over 15 years, at the end of which he felt connected to a far bigger reality. Following his own healing from shamanism Hughes went on to become a healer and teacher.
As Hughes states he is ‘deeply physiological as a person, as might be blindingly obvious through reading this book!’ and The Heart of Life is an in-depth, honest and interesting read into his personal insight, experiences and discoveries as well as relating these to the wider picture/issues demonstrating how the practices of shamanism are very much needed today.
The Heart of Life was reviewed by June Kent, Editor of Indie Shaman Magazine
~ June Kent, Indie Shaman
A courageous and sincere exploration of how to travel the shamanic path in 21st century England. With our ever increasing global ecocide this book addresses the problems and associated dis-ease of our being apart from Nature rather than being a part of Nature. ~ Dr David Luke, Senior Lecturer of Psychology, University of Greenwich, author of 'Talking with the Spirits: Ethnographies from Between the Worlds'
The author engages our attention – mind, heart and soul – from the very first page, and walks us through an intense process of insight which is both deeply personal, but also has wider collective significance. Written in an accessible and honest way, this book addresses the suffering of our troubled times, dismantling false beliefs and encouraging us to align ourselves once again with the ancient ways. He offers a cosmology which supports the reality that darkness, illness and affliction may be the very portals through which we enter, individually and collectively, into an initiation, a rite of passage, a healing. A brave work, to be celebrated and savoured. ~ Melanie Reinhart, Psychotherapist, Astrologer and bestselling author of 'Chiron and the Healing Journey'
This book is a heartfelt exploration into the soul sickness that afflicts the modern world with very real healing solutions inspired by ancient cultures. Through the author's personal story we are touched to discover that what we may have seen as pathological inside of us, actually holds the key to our transformation, both individually and as a culture. A heartwarming work. ~ Jamie Catto, Creator of the multi-award winning, Grammy nominated '1 Giant Leap'
Jez Hughes is a remarkable healer, psychic and visionary. His new book, ‘The Heart of Life – Shamanic Initiation & Healing’, recounts the need in our modern era for initiation and re-birth. He talks about ancestors, death and initiation in a fresh way; educating the reader about the importance of remembering our ancestors. Our modern world is out of balance. The root of this could be our fear of death and disconnection with the natural world. Jez talks in a frank way drawing on personal experiences to show the importance of spiritual/ shamanic initiation as a bridge into the unseen world, thus allowing for greater spiritual transformation and acceptance of death.
I recommend Jez’s book for all people searching for meaning amidst the chaos of western living. ~ John Lockley, Sangoma (Traditional South African Shaman), spiritual teacher & ceremonialist
This is a book of the heart, spoken by one who has a deep understanding and personal experience of knowing. His is the story of the divine spark that flows through all of consciousness, reaching those willing to surrender and become one with nature through the teachings of the ancestors and ancient ones. In this book you will become immersed in the sacred ways of the shaman, the one who knows, learning that you are the one that has locked away and hidden those life changing teachings. Jez will lead you to the edge through his deep personal healing awareness, to become once more whole and healed. ~ Barbara Meiklejohn-Free, Bestselling and award-winning author of 'The Shaman Within' and 'The Shamans Handbook of Sacred Tools and Ceremonies',
In The Heart of Life, Jez Hughes rightly says that many people have no context in which to place the spiritual experiences they have and don’t feel connected to the earth. He offers a context that may appeal to many people. Hughes also suggests that it’s loss of meaning that creates soul sickness. I agree. People want to find meaning. This book may well bring people to where they can begin the journey. ~ Elen Sentier, author of 'Elen of the Ways', 'The Celtic Chakras' and 'Following the Deer Trods', and other books on the British native tradition