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Flowers of Wiricuta by Tom Soloway Pinkson, Ph.D.

James Kent

A Gringo's Journey to Shamanic Power

In recent years there has been a large scale revival of Native American spirituality in Western culture. Maybe it's just a natural extension of the Hippy/New Age exploration that has been evolving for the last three decades, or maybe it's a reflection of some kind of surfacing White Man's guilt. Maybe it represents a deeper need for people to get back to what's real and pure, or maybe it's just another desperate attempt to find something worth believing in.

Whatever the reason, Native American spirituality with it's earthy wisdoms, colorful ritual, and animistic cosmology has captured the minds and imaginations of countless Western seekers. In fact, the recent growth of groups like the Native American Church and the Peyote Way are not due to Native American influence, but rather due to the flock of Westerners who have rediscovered these sacred belief systems. However, one of the problems many people have with Native American theology is how it can possibly translate back into this industrialized, JudeoChristian society of angst and isolation we all call everyday life. We don't live in the land of corn, deer, and coyote, we live in the land of concrete, smog and 711. Is it really possible to adopt the ancient spiritual ways of a nomadic, agrarian people and still have a successful career, drive a car, buy a house, raise a family? In Flowers of Wiricuta: A Gringo's Journey to Shamanic Power, Tom Pinkson says yes, we can.

Pinkson, a juvenile delinquent from the streets of New York, was not a likely candidate for shamanic initiation. Pinkson was a neighborhood punk who wore the wound of his father's early death like a grim badge of hardship. He was a nihilist. His future seemed bleak. Yet somehow he felt there must be something more, something out there that would make him feel complete. That something more was the say of the shaman the inexplicable magic with the power to turn the bleakest situation into the brightest future.

Today Pinkson is a Ph.D. in Psychology with a successful business practice, a house, and a family. But he is also a mara'akame, a fully initiated shaman of the Huichol tribe. He walks the boundary between Western science and Native American spirituality, and shows that yes, it is possible to live in both worlds at once. What's more, Pinkson's life work (and the focus of Flowers of Wiricuta) is how one person can be the bridge between these two worlds using the wisdom of one to strengthen the future of the other, and vice versa.

Through an allegory of tales pulled together from his own life, Pinkson shows how understanding and compassion can turn bad into good, dark into light, shit into fertilizer, hopelessness into hope. He takes us through many magical experiences from his first encounter with LSD, to his work with terminal cancer patients, to his longterm apprenticeship with the Huichols and manages to bring it all back down to earth within the context of his fairly typical crazy modern life. He does all this with a tone of humility, and comes off as a more believable Castaneda a mere human in a world of magic, with a human's weaknesses, fears, and imperfections.

If you're already familiar with Huichol and Native American spirituality, you probably won't find many new concepts in Flowers. However, what you will find is how all of these concepts can fit together to bring power and fulfillment into your own life and the lives of those around you. Through the use of simple rituals, prayer, and the "Teachings of the Elders," Pinkson takes ancient wisdom and turns it into a path of respect and cooperation for responsible living in the modern world. These lessons surpass any one spiritual belief, and the truths they hold are indeed too powerful to be forgotten.

Tags : psychedelic
Rating : Teen - Drugs
Posted on: 2001-03-06 00:00:00