Ancient Wisdom, Modern Hope

James T. Powers’s Ancient Wisdom, Modern Hope: Relearning Environmental Connectiveness, one of the first in the new Earth Spirit series from Moon Books, draws on shamanic wisdom and Native spirituality in a search for ways to reconnect humans with the living environment. Powers argues that the shamanic worldview – with its emphasis on reciprocity between humans and the natural landscape and appreciation and respect for the sacred Earth – is one that humans need to relearn and reclaim as a means of restoring the broken connections and reconnecting the social fabric with the natural world.

This radical shift in consciousness and perspective – which draws heavily on and is informed by the values inherent in many indigenous systems – is strongly emphasized as a starting point in Powers’s view for any meaningful action that humans might take to mitigate and minimize the impacts of environmental catastrophe. “We can embrace the shamanic consciousness of our ancestors,” Powers writes, and work toward “a seventh generation… world in which all of creation lives in harmony and balance.” Much of the book is an exploration and mapping of how humans might work to reclaim this ancient shamanic tradition of our ancestors.

Powers draws on his experience as a teacher, historian and archaeologist with particular work on the tribal nations and indigenous peoples of New England. The book is aimed at a general readership but does provide notes and a bibliography for those who might wish to explore the topics further. In about a hundred pages, Powers outlines many critical components for understanding the historical, social and economic dimensions of the climate crisis. It is a good summary account of a very complex situation.

More attention might have been devoted to some of the implications for adapting shamanic worldviews to modern conditions and concerns. It is, perhaps, a vision more easily seen than enacted. Nevertheless, this is a thoughtful and provocative book and should provide direction and stimulus for changing the perceptions that many ecologists, including Powers, have advocated for quite some time.

Book Details: James T. Powers. Ancient Wisdom, Modern Hope. Moon Books (29 October 2021). ISBN: 978-1782792444

Review Details: Ancient Wisdom, Modern Hope was reviewed by Christopher Greiner for Indie Shaman magazine and this review was published in Issue 52.

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