(House of Anansi Press: ISBN 978-0-88784-766-0)
Have you ever wondered why we place our four elements in the cardinal directions? Is it simply because we have inherited the Western Mystery Tradition? Water is in the West because, er, the Atlantic Ocean is in our (European) West? We can make good arguments as to why each element is where it is, and incorporate it into our everyday
If, however, you’re from the Barasana tribe in the upper Amazon you would know exactly why you place Water in the East; not because the Atlantic Ocean is in the East, but because this is the direction of the great ancestral river journey; the great river canoes were brought up the Milk River by enormous anacondas, containing the first people & the three most important plants, gifts of Father Sun. The gateways of the directions are inherently tied to the landscape, and bound to ancestral stories, and remembered in every ceremonial occasion by the entire community.
This book is an extraordinarily moving account of the author’s time with tribal peoples across the world. The sub-title is “Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in the Modern World”, with compelling arguments in support of this, that I’m sure will resonate with every Druid. It is built around his four lectures given through Toronto University.
The title ‘Wayfinders’ refers to the remarkable Polynesians who can navigate the Pacific, and the incredible culture that grew up around their talents. It talks about the impact of missionaries, and all that was lost. Yet at the same time it covers all that remains of the ancient ways of the oldest peoples, and what we can learn from them today.
If you ever needed to know why our ancestral stories are so important, or just want a flavour of what it is like to live close to the natural world and close to you ancestors, then this little book will not disappoint. I can totally recommend it.