The Sin Eater’s Last Confession: Lost traditions of Celtic Shamanism
Ross Heaven met Adam Dilwyn Vaugh when he moved to Hereford as a child in the 1960s. As Ross got to know Adam he also discovered the hidden world of the sin eater, a person who would eat bread and drink beer from the coffin of the deceased in order to rid them of their sins.
Through Ross we learn the secrets passed on to him by Adam, those of working with the spirit of plants, of walking meditations, of connecting with and receiving messages from the world around us.
We receive first hand accounts of the work of the sin eater, of seeing Adam perform healing, of how Adam had chosen his path and found himself outside of the community but in demand by them for healing. We hear of Adam’s understanding of sin, of webs and lies, of soul and of the nature of healing.
This is a sensitive account of two people’s lives, of Ross the young boy and his teacher and friend Adam. It is the journey they take and of Ross’s search for his soul purpose and the meaning and understanding he gains from Adam as he learns alongside him.
Interspersed within the book are insights into the Herefordshire of the past, its complex beliefs and its landscapes, along with the Welsh myths that have played a part in influencing thinking and life in the area.
There are many passages in this book which resonate deeply with me, and ideas and experiences which are oh so familiar. Many the time I found the words ‘That’s what I do’ rushing through my head. There was also much that was outside my experience or just different from mine and of course there were things with which I disagreed. Nevertheless it is a book that I have already read twice and know I will read over and over again, each time finding new meaning or ideas within the words. For me this is a keeper, not a book that I will be lending out.
This is not the usual form of Shamanic book with exercises interspersed with information although there are a few ideas at the end based on Adam’s teachings. It is though, as Ross himself says on the back cover, the making of Adam’s confession by telling his life.
The Sin Eater’s Last Confession was reviewed by Yvonne Ryves, author of Web of Life
Ross Heaven, The Sin Eater’s Last Confession, Llewellyn Worldwide (July 2008), ISBN 0738713562, 9780738713564