Let me start by stating this review is written from an outsider’s perspective as this is not a path I follow or am that familiar with. However, that does not mean that I did not learn anything or enjoy reading all about Curanderismo beliefs and how ancient Mesoamerican peoples used animals within their practices. The author, Erika Buenaflor, is an expert in Mesoamerican Shamanism and a practicing Curandara; meaning the reader is guided by an experienced teacher who shares her knowledge with generous understanding. Her expansive illustrations of each different aspect of Mesoamerican Shamanism, from animal spirit journeying and shapeshifting practices to medicine healing and divination, are concise and described in easy-to-understand terms. All the information and explanations are grounded in solid archaeological historic evidence as well as Buenaflor’s years of experience as a practitioner. I was particularly interested in learning of how we might possibly benefit, both spiritually and mentally, from the shapeshifting techniques outlined within the book and how we might enhance our relationship with our own animal spirit guides.
The book includes an impressive guide to over 75 animal archetypes, from ducks to pelicans and pumas to snails! Each animal’s symbolism is meticulously explained and aligned with one or more different Curanderismo worlds and various aspects of shapeshifting associated with it, along with links to different Mesoamerican deities. For example, Jaguar was associated with the ruling classes and sorcerers and considered the most powerful feline. That they tend to sleep in caves indicates an association with the underworld and within shapeshifting medicine their gifts include stealth and clairvoyance.
In conclusion, Animal Medicine is engaging and well written. Wherever you are geographically, you will definitely learn something which cannot fail to enhance your own spiritual development.
Book Details: Erika Buenaflor. Animal Medicine. Bear and Company (2 September 2021). ISBN 978-1591434115.
Review Details: Animal Medicine was reviewed by Thea Prothero for Indie Shaman magazine and this review was published in Issue 51.
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