BOOK REVIEW: Speaking with Nature

by Oct 20, 2016Article, Book Reviews

Authored by Sandra Ingerman and Llyn Roberts

Book Review by Tom Cowan ~ Speaking With Nature by Ingerman and Roberts

Sandra Ingerman and Llyn Roberts have written an engaging account of how they incorporate their love of the natural world into their shamanic practices. Each writes from personal experiences about specific elements of nature, and ones that are not often thought of as voices among our spiritual guides and teachers, such as glacial silt, sand, artesian spring, mist, as well as more familiar figures like corn, black bear, snake, elk, and others. The subtitle Awakening to the Deep Wisdom of the Earth allows the authors to also discuss elves, faeries, devas, forest guardians, and other Hidden Folk. The authors remind us that the world we live in is situated in the greater universe so their guidebook also includes cosmic spirits among the stars and planets. After all, as many indigenous peoples point out, our Earth and everything upon it is made up of stardust.

The authors alternate chapters with each focusing on the landscape where she lives: the Pacific Northwest for Roberts, the high desert of New Mexico for Ingerman. In this way the elements they deal with are native to their homes. An intriguing and clever feature of their selections is to pair elements from these two bio-regions, so that the reader encounters unique but similar features from each landscape. For example, there are chapters on wild western hemlock and cottonwood, blackberry and wild rose, artesian spring and mist, juniper and sycamore, and yes, even banana slug and earthworm.

Not only do Roberts and Ingerman relate personal encounters with nature but they weave in biological and geological information about each subject. In this way, readers get a rich blend of life experiences, science, and shamanic wisdom. Each chapter ends with helpful and inspiring practices that readers can apply to their own shamanic or spiritual lives.

Two appendices present topics that might not be immediately recognized as significant to nature: omens and grief. Yet nature is a never-ending arena of spiritual wisdom and insight that often comes to us in symbol and metaphor, so knowing how to search for omens in nature and be open to them can enhance our relationship with the world around us. Also, nature is a great comforter when we grieve the loss of someone or something we loved. These two sections contain specific practices for finding and interpreting omens and understanding how all creatures grieve. Ingerman presents suggestions about how to go to nature when we grieve and how we can express our grief when something in nature is killed or destroyed.

A running theme in this book is the wisdom of the divine feminine which we encounter when we look and listen carefully and deeply to the natural world around us. While acknowledging that the masculine and feminine elements in nature create a whole, Roberts and Ingerman choose to emphasize the beauty and power of the feminine as it releases healing energy into our lives. This wonderful book, written by two wise and dedicated women, is a powerful antidote to the disturbing challenges and changes in modern life, a trustworthy guide for maintaining a sense of permanence and deep peace no matter what is happening in our lives.


About the Author

Tom Cowan is a shamanic practitioner specializing in Celtic visionary and healing techniques. He combines universal core shamanism with traditional European spirit lore to create spiritual practices that can heal and enrich one’s own life and the lives of others. He is an internationally respected teacher, author, lecturer, and tour leader. He has taught training programs in England, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Slovakia and Italy. Tom received a doctorate in history from St. Louis University. He has studied extensively with and taught for the Foundation for Shamanic Studies.

Tom is the author of Yearning For The Wind: Celtic Reflections on Nature and the Soul, Fire in the Head: Shamanism and the Celtic Spirit, Shamanism as a Spiritual Practice for Daily Life, The Pocket Guide to Shamanism, The Book of Seance, The Way of the Saints: Prayers, Practices, and Meditations and Wending Your Way: A New Version of the Old English Rune Poem. Visit his website at


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