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Record Type: Review   ID: 94

When Lightning Strikes a Hummingbird: The Awakening of a Healer

Perry, Foster

This book has to be read to be believed. It is the epitome of EHE autobiographies. Perry’s experiences, which are varied, began when he was a child, some only recalled when other experiences occurred later. His initiatory experience, triggered by being struck by lightning, was a shamanic awakening as well as a near-death experience. Not only does he describe his experiences in detail, but he conveys their meaning as immediately as if the experience and the meaning belong to the reader. The essence of his experiences—and I use the singular because all his experiences reveal facets of a monolithic knowing that is his life which he apparently lives, thinks, feels, performs—are truly integrated into a living, moving tapestry. He is very knowledgeable about the content of myths, literature, and stories from other cultures and weaves them into his life story. Perhaps the most unusual feature of the book is that he describes the imagery of enlightenment (a spiral process) in terms I have never before encountered using nature imagery (such as hummingbirds) and associates it with physical and subjective feelings in a way that strikes me personally—after the manner of being hit with Cupid’s arrow. He graduated from Georgetown University and then studied art, design, film, and dance until his catalytic world-shaking experience in March of 1985. Since then he has helped to teach those about to die the art of conscious dying and has developed a special healing gift, which he calls "hummingbird medicine" (p. 75). If I try to write about this book in detail I’d be recapitulating the entire book! Instead I will quote two sentences from Fred Alan Wolf’s endorsement on the back cover: "A major work from a gifted and sensitive spirit. I felt healed just reading it." If you read this book, you may well re-encounter the hummingbird, and this time you will know it.

Reading this amazing EHE autobiography is like reading Castaneda, but learning from teachers and teachings based in Anglo-American culture, including New Age gurus (who combine high knowledge with pathology), Celtic wisdom figures, fellow seekers, female and male, with their spiritual strengths and weaknesses, and his own panoply of exceptional and imaginal experiences and guides. The exception is that he has been strongly influenced by Mayan teachings. The book is about his growth from his early EHEs through finding his vocation in a unique form of healing. He recounts his formal shamanic training, changes brought about by meetings with wisdom, figures, and his "travels" to the center of the earth and to the limbo of the created world, involving his development and purification, as required, and his developing a progressively more integrated self identity and crystallization of his work. If we measure "generations" in decades, as witness the lifestyle and worldview changes of the 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s, each very different due to both outer factors (cultural, environmental) and subjective (from ego concerns to the dawning transpersonal), then I would hope that Perry’s autobiography is a forerunner of the 2020s. If it is, we are in for much extended effort: bodily, mental, and spiritual, and many transformations in the first half of single lifetime, as people learn why they are here and become trained to follow their callings. For this to happen Western culture must have caught up with indigenous cultures so there will have to be peaceful reciprocity as we exchange technological knowledge aimed at solving the multifaceted ecological crisis and feeding the world for wisdom concerning how to discover who we are, why we are here, and how to live that intended life.

Publisher Information:Santa Fe, NM: Bear, 1993. 200p. Bibl: 199-200
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