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Contemporary Voices from Anima Mundi

A Reappraisal

Edited By Frédérique Apffel-Marglin and Stefano Varese

This book is a reconsideration of spirituality as a lived experience in the lives of the contributors. The authors speak both as well-informed scholars and as individuals who experienced the lived spirituality they give voice to. The authors do not place themselves above and outside of what they are writing about but within that world. They speak of living psychospiritual traditions of healing both the self and the world; of traditions that have not disembedded the self from the wider world. Those traditions are from indigenous North and South America (5 essays), a Buddhist/Shakta from Bengal, an Indo-Persian Islamic psychoanalyst, and a mystical Jewish feminist rabbi. The book also includes a historical essay about the extermination of the Renaissance worldview of Anima Mundi.

“Tribes and Ancient Societies have always negotiated with animal spirits their right to hunt for food, asked mother earth and Anima Mundi for rain if there was drought, and resolved their problems of social and ethnic justice through rituals of mediation with the Spirits of Nature and the Universe with the support of master plants and other techniques. What is the logic of ancient societies maintaining rituals and balance with supernatural forces and laws for millennia? That scientific-materialistic rationalism does not have the tools to explain this cannot delegitimize or reduce these spiritual practices, an authentic technology of the quantic or spiritual World, to a simple irrational folkloric belief. We have a big blind spot in our western society, and we don't want to see it.”—Lluís M. Tomas, MD, PhB, Associate Professor at Health Sciences Foundation University, Bogota, Colombia, co-author and coordinator of published peer-reviewed articles in medicine and alternative medicine, founder of Nuna Hampi Retreat Center, Bogota, Colombia

“Parallel to the extraordinary picture science is giving us, from the birth of the universe to an understanding of life processes in our planet, there has been also a continuous de-sacralization of nature by a reductionistic materialist view which is taking us to the brink of self-destruction. This book brings forth an array of multicultural and 21st century post-materialistic science perspectives, which reveal that spirit is indeed embedded in matter, and that we are surrounded by and in attainable relationship with visible and invisible non-human subjects. In accordance with mystical traditions and traditional societies from all over the world, we need—more than ever—to listen to the many voices of nature and spirit, enriching our lives and giving them meaning and a wider perspective. The recuperation of animistic worldviews—hand in hand with the development of non-reductionistic science—is not mere discursive speculation, but a conviction to be derived from direct attentive experience of the sentient interrelatedness of the natural world. In this regard, this book represents an important and timely contribution.”—Luis Eduardo Luna, PhD, anthropologist, author of Vegetalismo: Shamanism Among the Mestizo Population of the Peruvian Amazon, co-author with Pablo Amaringo of Ayahuasca Visions: The Religious Iconography of a Peruvian Shaman, co-author of Inner Paths to Outer Space: Journeys to Alien Worlds through Psychedelics, Director of Wasiwaska, Research Center for the Study of Psychointegrator Plants, Visionary Art and Consciousness, Florianópolis, Brazil

“This is and will be a necessary book, due to the fundamental awakening of our troubled world’s beating heart. Perhaps the prefix ‘post-’ betrays our way of life, with the continuous talk surrounding post-positivism, post-modernism and everything else that emerged as a result of post-materialistic science. It is true that profitable mechanical matter has flooded Western society and signaled a dogmatic ‘language game’ in the mouth of the false myth, whose concept of the ‘objective observer’ has relegated the spirit to pathology in too many cases. However, that spirit is being recovered thanks to those who have kept listening to Nature’s subtlety, in the jungles, the rivers, mountains and monasteries, all without falling into infantile justifications. Science today also unites the awakening of the ‘spiritual intelligence’ that penetrates everything that exists and, what is more, it has set off on the path towards the ‘only search’ that, in the end, the divine breath can offer us. An ontology of BEING is co-created, as well as an epistemology of our ‘inner world’ that allows us to lose our fear and be able to map the numinous cosmos. You will find this and much more among these pages. May this book become an itinerant encyclopedia in space and time as successive contributions are made.”—Manuel Almendro, PhD, clinical psychologist, member of European Federation of Psychologists’ Associations, Specialist Certificate in Psychology and Psychotherapy-EuroPsy, Director of Oxigeme, Center for a Psychology of Consciousness, Barcelona, Spain

“This book is a remarkable collection of essays on a topic of immense importance for our times. Bringing years of experience and expertise, the authors illustrate brilliantly the healing dimensions of the living world. Apffel-Marglin and Varese are to be congratulated on this singular achievement.”—Mary Evelyn Tucker, Yale University Forum on Religion and Ecology