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.
Publisher Moon Books says about The Heart of Life, which has the subtitle Shamanic Initiation and Healing in the Modern World: "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."
The book can be ordered via Amazon.
Jez Hughes is a British shaman who runs Second Sight Healing:
Links and previous related pots
The Heart of Life: Shamanic Initiation and Healing in the Modern World