I have recently completed several incredible books… just wanted to share in case you have a free weekend or an hour a day for the next little while 🙂
The first was Other Powers by Barbara Goldsmith. This is a book about the Women’s Sufferage Movement and how it was intimately connected with spiritualism and in particular with a less-well-known woman named Victoria Woodhull. Woodhull it turns out was the first woman to run for President back in 1872. Woodhull also lived an extraordinary life, one that was heavily influenced by spiritual guides and that was considered quite inflammatory for her time (and quite honestly it would be considered highly inflammatory even today!). But if you want to get another picture of life as a woman in the late 1800’s in the U.S. or you want to get an intimate snapshot into the Women’s Suffrage movement… this is the book for you. I assure you it will not disappoint! Just learning about Victoria Woodhull is incredible and eye-opening! There are some passages of the book where dozens of names are bantered about and you can afford to skip a few pages. But for the most part, I was riveted to this book!
The next book is The Hummingbird’s Daughter by Luis Urrea. This is a book set in a similar time as Other Powers above, but it takes place mostly in northern Mexico as it follows the historical fiction (based on real characters) of Saint Teresa, a young Spanish-Indian girl / woman who learns the ways of the Yaquis Indian medicine. Her father was a wealthy hacienda owner and her mother was an indigenous worker for him. Teresa is a powerful healer, mid-wife and medicine woman before she is left for dead after a violent assault. But then she literally rises from the dead three days after the doctors declare her dead, and she commences to become a renowned healer known for hundreds of miles around. At one point, there were 12,000 pilgrims on the little hacienda where she lived, all waiting for the chance to see or hear her or seek her out for healing.
It is an amazing story written by an artist and poet who has a knack for making his fictitious world come vividly and colorfully alive. The first half of the book sets the context for Teresa’s life and the second half of the book is more about her healing journey and being declared a saint by half of Mexico. It is also quite graphic in showing how hard the non-elite workers had it in their difficult lives. Not unlike Other Powers, it makes me so grateful for all we have today!
I am currently working on the book, The Chronicles of Tao by Deng Ming-Dao, a book about an authentic and humble Taoist and martial arts master who trained with some of China’s renowned masters and teachers in the middle of the 20th century before coming to the U.S. to teach and become a Golden Gloves boxer.
I am just getting started, but the mystical descriptions of Taoist priests, the colorful and lively festival descriptions and the abilities of martial arts masters in the first 100 pages are astounding and keeping me yearning for more!
Fascinatingly, it also centers on how hard things were for many people living in China in the 20th century and how spiritual masters and martial arts teachers could still come out of that highly testing and challenging era of China’s history.