That question starts the description of the book Journey To The Sacred Mountains: Awakening Your Soul in Natureon the website of its publisher, Findhorn Press.
The description goes on to say: "Journey out into the Wilderness to get back in touch with your own soul, as [author] Flynn Johnson guides you through your own Vision Quest using Native American folktales and traditions. Along the way, you will reconnect with Mother Nature, our original home, and learn a sacred, sustainable way of living on the earth."
Now, I love folktales and am a firm believer in the power of myth and story as a guide on spiritual journeys, so I asked Findhorn Press to send me a copy of the book to review. And I very much enjoyed reading it.
In Journey to the Sacred Mountains, Flynn weaves together three wisdoms – Native American spirituality, depth psychology and Buddhism – to help explain how the human soul can be awakened through nature.
He does this by exploring a traditional Native American tale, The Story of Jumping Mouse. This is the tale of a little mouse who catches a glimpse of The Sacred Mountain and decides he must quest to find it.
On the way he meets various animal guides, some who help him and some who try to dissuade him from continuing. Each offers some sort of test or challenge that the mouse must overcome. In the end he finds that to truly reach his goal he must descend into his own personal darkness and then make a leap of faith.
The book analysis the story and takes readers on a personal journey of understanding as it does so. It explains what each animal represents and how we can interpret the tests Jumping Mouse faces in terms of challenges we might face in our own spiritual lives - such as scepticism from friends and family, the lure of comfort over the hardships of the quest and, perhaps most importantly, fear and anger that blind us and hold us back.
It is a story that people from many spiritual paths will be able to recognise and identify with. As a Wiccan, I feel it describes symbolically what can happen in rituals of initiation.
Flynn says that this is a story he tells people who are about to embark on a Native American-style vision quest. This vision quest involves the individual fasting alone for four days and nights in the wilderness, with only a tarpaulin for shelter. During this time they will not only learn about themselves, but also connect with nature on a personal level.
The press release that came with the book said:
"In today’s materialistic world, many people are experiencing a great spiritual hunger and searching outside traditional religious frameworks for a connection with the sacred. Journey to the Sacred Mountains is not wedded to any particular tradition, yet seeks to explore the core central to any spiritual quest - the direct, unmediated experience of the sacred. This beautiful book offers a powerful way to re-establish an intimate connection with nature and through that connection a way to draw closer to your true nature and the sacred."I would recommend Journey to the Sacred Mountains to anyone who is on a spiritual path or undergoing a major life transition such as divorce, the death of a loved one, a career change or mid-life turmoil. It would also be ideal to give to a teenager who is searching for meaning in their life.
The book is also a lovely introduction to Native American spirituality. As well as retelling some beautiful Native American folktales it explains the concept of The Medicine Wheel - a way of perceiving the universe and the place of humans within it.
Journey To The Sacred Mountains: Awakening Your Soul in Natureis published by Findhorn Press and is available through Amazon.
The author, Flynn Johnson has led hundreds of people on Wilderness Vision Quests and other nature-based programmes in Vermont and New Mexico and is the founding director of The School of Natural Wonder. www.schoolofnaturalwonder.org/
Journey To The Sacred Mountains: Awakening Your Soul in Nature