The Cosmic Serpent: DNA and the Origins of Knowledge By Jeremy Narby
When rain forest Shamans are asked how they know such an extraordinary amount about medicinal plants, they respond, as if it should be obvious, "The plants teach us." In this riveting book, anthropologist Jeremy Narby explores a vision he experienced after drinking ayahuasca, the "vine of the soul," which Shamans have used for healing and to acquire knowledge for thousands of years. He makes an astonishing connection between ancient Shamanistic beliefs and those of modern science.
Being Black: Zen and the Art of Living With Fearlessness and Grace By Angel Kyodo Williams
Angel Kyodo Williams is a young black woman who is also an ordained Zen priest. In this remarkable book, she brings a hip and modern eye to the teachings of the Buddha. I was moved by her honesty and great patience in interpreting the dharma: her understanding of suffering and her willingness to aid in the universal effort toward the growth of compassion and joy.
The Healing Wisdom of Africa By Malidoma Patrice Some
This is a book that brought me to my knees in gratitude. So much ancient wisdom that I had assumed lost is to be found here. For those of us of African descent—and who among us is not?—it will generate a gentle healing in just those areas of community, ritual and memory where we've felt so orphaned and bereft.
Mutant Message Down Under By Marlo Morgan
In my opinion, this book is not fiction, but read it as anything you like. An average kind of white woman flies off to Australia thinking she's about to be given some kind of award by the indigenous people. She gets there, and they give her one—only it is not what she expected. In teaching her who they are, they initiate her into the deeper mysteries of life. If this book were a breeze, it would blow you over. It's even better hearing the author on tape.
Alice Walker's many books include The Color Purple, which won a Pulitzer Prize and an American Book Award. Her newest, The Way Forward Is With a Broken Heart, is from Random House.