The Four Insights


The Four InsightsWisdom, Power, and Grace of the Earthkeepers, Los Angeles: Hay House, 2007.

The Four Insights chronologically is the last of the three books by Dr. Alberto Villoldo that I review here, as it was the most recent at the time I drafted these reviews.

The book is structured very differently from the preceding ones, in that it condenses the teaching into Four Insights.

Part One: Understanding the Energy of Perception

The Four Levels of Perception
Your Energetic Anatomy

Part Two: The Four Insights

Insight One—The Way of the Hero

The Practice of Nonjudgment
The Practice of Nonsuffering
The Practice of Nonattachment
The Practice of Beauty

Insight Two—The Way of the Luminous Warrior

The Practice of Fearlessness
The Practice of Nondoing
The Practice of Certainty
The Practice of Nonengagement

Insight Three—The Way of the Seer

The Practice of Beginner’s Mind
The Practice of Living Consequently
The Practice of Transparency
The Practice of Integrity

Insight Four—The Way of the Sage

The Practice of Mastering Time
The Practice of Owning Your Projections
The Practice of No-mind
The Practice of Indigenous Alchemy Continue reading


Healing the Luminous Body


Healing the Luminous BodyThe Way of the Shaman, Sacred Mysteries: 2004, featuring paintings by Alex Grey.

Healing the Luminous Body was my first access to Dr. Villoldo’s unique healing methods that he presents and explains in more detail in his books. This DVD is very well done, a calm and peaceful introduction into the philosophy, the development and the effectiveness of healing the luminous body..

Dr. Villoldo expresses himself fluently, and he is able to inform about the unusual subject in a competent and poised manner. It becomes clear that he speaks of experience, not of theory. Continue reading

Shaman, Healer, Sage


Shaman, Healer, SageHow to Heal Yourself and Others with the Energy Medicine of the Americas, New York: Harmony Books, 2000.

Shaman, Healer, Sage is perhaps Alberto Villoldo’s best book. It was anyway the book that made him famous, a real bestseller. It has given me an ultimate peak of reading enjoyment and illumination, and it has also emotionally touched me.

The author comes over in this book as a really honest, competent, emotionally mature, wistful and empathetic person who went through a personal transformation that only few people in these times can say to have accomplished.

This book is not only highly recommended lecture; it can perhaps be considered as one of the best books so far in the century on the issues of shamanic healing and the challenging task to render an outlandish practice of Inka shamans comprehensive to the modern mind! Continue reading

Healing States


Healing StatesA Journey into the World of Spiritual Healing and Shamanism, with Stanley Krippner, New York: Simon & Schuster (Fireside), 1984.

Healing States is a research volume that Alberto Villoldo co-authored with Stanley Krippner, and it’s a glorious onset of his own career in spiritual healing. The research presented in this book is highly thought-provoking if not mind-boggling, and it’s well presented.

The point of departure of the author’s scientific journey was his research on psychosomatic medicine. He was interested what exactly makes the soma follow the psyche, or why the spirit imprints itself on the soma, thus causing either health or disease. The authors write:

A growing number of allopathic physicians believe that as much as 80 percent of all illness may contain a psychosomatic component. Allopathic medical science, which does not publicly acknowledge the psychic realm, is still at a loss to explain the origin and treatment of many of these psychosomatic disorders, often merely referring to ‘unconscious conflicts’ that can trigger disease./19

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The Cosmic Serpent


The Cosmic SerpentDNA and the Origins of Knowledge, 2nd Printing (Originally published in 1998), New York: Tarcher/Putnam, 2003.

The Cosmic Serpent by Jeremy Narby is an extraordinary and refreshing book. Written from the perspective of an anthropologist, the book unveils many myths in that science when it goes out ‘to meet the other’, and return to declare the peoples it met as schizophrenic, retarded or ‘possessed by the devil.’

But the author also reports how ethnology changed over time and become more objective in its look on cultures that are markedly different from our own.

Anthropologists discovered that their gaze was a tool of domination and that their discipline was not only a child of colonialism, it also served the colonial cause through its own practices. The unbiased and supra-cultural language of the observer was actually a colonial discourse and a form of domination./14

From the early twentieth century onward, anthropologists progressively extended the use of this Siberian term and found shamans in Indonesia, Uganda, the Arctic, and Amazonia. Some played drums, others drank plant decoctions and sang; some claimed to cure, others cast spells. They were unanimously considered neurotic, epileptic, psychotic, hysterical or schizophrenic./15

The change came abruptly. In 1949, Claude Lévi-Strauss stated in a key essay that the shaman, far from being mentally ill, was in fact a kind of psychotherapist—the difference being that the psychoanalyst listens, whereas the shaman speaks. For Lévi-Strauss, the shaman is first of all a creator of order, who cures people by transforming their incoherent and arbitrary pains into an ordered and intelligible form./15

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AyahuascaHuman Consciousness and the Spirits of Nature, New York: Thunder’s Mouth Press, 1999.

Ayahuasca is a fascinating reader presenting personal experiences with the sacred Ayahuasca brew, and it’s a most valuable resource for both researchers and those interested in a spiritual voyage.

In addition to this invaluable source material, the introduction and comments by the editor of the book, Ralph Metzner, a widely acclaimed authority on shamanism and entheogens, are precious and well-written.

The book throughout is very readable; there is no ethnobotanic gibberish, and the editor has mastered the task to unite different energies into a powerful laser.

I had an immense interest and pleasure reading this book, and it captivated me page after page. It is an absolute must-have in a personal growth library, in a spiritual library, in a library about tribal peoples, in an ethnobotanic library, and in a specialized library about shamanism. Continue reading

The Invisible Landscape


The Invisible LandscapeMind Hallucinogens and the I Ching, New York: HarperCollins, 1993.

The Invisible Landscape is the most esoteric of the three Terence McKenna books reviewed here. Many of the topics he treats in his other books, he treats here as well, but he presents them under a slightly different light, or in more subtle language.

His standard theme psychedelics, for example, assumes a new dimension, together with his regard upon science:

Psychedelic drugs have always been and remain the most useful molecular probes available to science for exploring the relationship between the subjective experience of mind and neurobiological processes. /Preface XIX

Despite its pretensions to objectivity, science, like any other human institution, places a certain vested interest in its own self-preservation; thus it is likely to be less than enthusiastic, if not openly hostile, toward any investigative strategy that could potentially call its most basic assumptions in question. /Id.

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