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Record Type: Review   ID: 236

Earth Angels: Engaging the Sacred in Everyday Things

McNiff, Shaun

 What art therapist McNiff means by "earth angels" are the life-giving energies that can be experienced as connected to places, people, other life forms, and even inanimate objects. This is a type of experience that an EHEer has increasingly more often as he/she moves further along in the EHE process. This is because the EHEer becomes increasingly more aware of his or her connections with new aspects of self, other humans, other species, and the inanimate world. This book, then, like any of McNiff’s books, is a marvelous guide for EHEers because it validates and provides a framework for their experiences of connection and their expanding identities. The end toward which all EHEs progress is the same, and McNiff is moving toward: the sacralizing of the entire world. The emphasis of this book is on "everyday things": not on trekking to Everest or the Great Pyramid but the bathroom sink and your backyard. There are five sections. Each one presents a new way of being in the world and new ways of doing associated with that domain. The sections are entitled "Through the Eyes of Angels," "Intimate Rites," "The Creative Spirit," "Topsy-Turvy," and "Exaltation Before Things." All sections are about seeing and conceiving of the world in fresh new ways. The first is about making connections with the physical world. No ethereal angels here. The second is about how we unconsciously collect and display tokens of past/present areas of our lives that represent a form of connectedness. When I moved two years ago, I mounted pictures of all my family in one corner of my home—they were scattered in several rooms or in drawers before I moved. In the third he insists that we do not project spirits onto objects—"Objects convey energy, spiritual forces, and medicine to viewers who are open" (p. 95). A similar idea is conveyed in the next section, on creativity, which he views not as coming from within but rather, by looking "through something other than ourselves, the object of our contemplation becomes a partner, an earth angel, that helps access the free flow of the creative spirit" (p. 134). The next section is about investing vision so that instead of looking out at something from within one imagines looking in from the viewpoint of the object. The last section is about people and objects we spontaneously love and desire. And what we live in not only in the object but in ourselves. McNiff’s ideas, his examples, and his exercises enable the reader willing to try to see the world and oneself in new ways. The everyday becomes the exceptional when seen through his eyes, but it is a way he teaches us to see.
Publisher Information:Boston: Shambhala, 1995. 281p. Chap. notes: 267-277; Ind: 279-281
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