Book Review – Divining With Animal Guides: Answers from the World at Hand by Hearth Moon Rising

March, 2019

Book Review
Divining With Animal Guides
Answers from the World at Hand
by Hearth Moon Rising

I was delighted to discover that Divining with Animal Guides is not a cookbook dictionary, concretizing the “meanings” of animal encounters. Author Hearth Moon Rising has created a manual for learning to observe and discern and ultimately, to shift our strictly human viewpoint. Only when we look at the context in which the animals offer us their messages are we able to fully understand their invitations and gifts.

Rising weaves science, mythology, mathematics and storytelling into each of the chapters. There are 9 in total, covering the cat family big and small, alligators and crocodiles, horses, bees, scorpions, ravens, woodpeckers, deer and the antlered ones, and cranes. This is not a purely “magical” discussion of these beings, although she provides a short review for each animal guide, briefly listing magical qualities and applications and other associations. She focuses instead on laying the groundwork for an understanding of the animal’s place and workings in nature through its evolution and biology, and then delves into its mythology and historical associations. So, in the chapter on Cat, Rising brings the cat forward from its origins in Egypt to its association with witches in Europe right up to its appearance in quantum physics as Schrodinger’s Cat. She also provides a story or poem to place the animal in a particular cultural context so we can begin to sense how its powers interact with its world. I was fascinated at how well Rising created this weaving of science and mythology and found it difficult to put the book down at points. She evokes the energetic field of the animal’s entire biological and historical existence so we can connect to it and make our own associations.

Rising’s instructions for using math and geometry in observing and interpreting signs and messages are wonderful. For example, she asks us to consider that bees construct hexagonal honeycombs and launches into an analysis of the hexagon and the significance of the number 8 that is guaranteed to deepen your understanding of any messages you have ever received from Bee. And if you find a lone animal that usually travels in pairs or groups, reflect on why only one appears now.

Rising emphasizes scientific observation of the animal and an appreciation of the context – environmental, biological and metaphoric – in which it appears or communicates with you. Observing it closely where and how it appears rather than jumping to a conclusion about what it “means” makes the difference between a superficial understanding of its message and truly receiving it and allowing it to unfold over time. Rising uses each animal to demonstrate a different aspect of observation – ravens for sight and seeing, woodpeckers for hearing and listening, deer (rarely seen nor heard) – tracking through confusing signals until you find your way. In other words, discerning the root what is meant and which clues in the message to follow. As she points out, “A paradigm shift cannot occur with the disintegration of beliefs and the subsequent disorientation…The most profound animal signs are not the ones that tell you where to go next or what to expect in the year ahead. They are the signs that open the world, allowing you to see something new, even to realize a deeper lever of truth.” She pushes us to cultivate observation skills beyond our “usual” boundaries so we can feel the energy of the deer we hadn’t seen standing next to us in the bushes. She asks us to lose our limited human viewpoint and remove our ego-centric blinders so we can receive the fresh information that the natural world continually offers to us – “divination in nature is not for those who have no room for questioning their beliefs.” In order to help us loosen the grip of our firm convictions, Rising offers provocative questions for reflection in each chapter, too. I found them to be koan-like; I had to stop and really consider what those questions were asking of me.

This book is a jewel. It is much more than a book about the animal powers. It is a guide for how to open our perception to the world around us and broaden our ability to communicate with our co-inhabitants. It is so much more than a dictionary of totem animals. It will challenge you, make you laugh and invite you to step into “the moment of power, the instant when a door opens and one thing changes into another…” as Rising says in her Final Words to us. Divining with Animal Guides: Answers from the World at Hand is well-worth adding to your library.

Divining with Animal Guides: Answers from the World at Hand on Amazon


About the Author:

Susan Rossi is a Practitioner and Teacher of Shamanism. She is a long-time explorer of The Mysteries – the connections between mind, body, spirit and how to live in right relationship to all of the energies streaming through the cosmos. She works with clients as an astrologer, coach, ceremonialist and guide to the wisdom that each of us has the capacity to access. Her focus is on guiding clients to unblock and rediscover their inner wisdom. , exploration of the birth chart, ceremony, legacy writing, hypnotherapy, energetic healing practice and creation of sacred tools are integral pieces of her practice.

Susan trained in Soul Level Astrology with master astrologer Mark Borax. She delights in exploring with individuals the planetary pattern under which their soul choose to incarnate.

Flying to the Heart

Open Channel Astrology:

Children’s Book Review – The Natural Storyteller: Wildlife Tales for Telling by Georgiana Keable

December, 2017

The Natural Storyteller is a gorgeous heart-warming book full of stories that children (and people any age!) can relate to. It is a collection of stories, carefully gathered over a period of years, from all over the world (different sources, locations, periods in history). Some are based on myths, others on legendary figures or even saints (e.g. St Francis of Assisi makes an appearance – but in the story we meet his child self!) or extraordinary things that happened in the lives of ordinary people.

What steals my heart about this book is that it unflinchingly addresses the turmoil and realities of life in the 21st century. The author does not shy away from tackling themes such as deforestation, war or corporate greed.

My favourite story is the King of the Deer (perhaps because I live in the forest in Sweden for part of the year where I see deer daily and observe them very closely). I had a rather traumatic encounter with deer hunters only two weeks ago and this story (about the King of the Deer putting a stop to the hunting of all animal species) really pulled at my heart strings.

I live in London for the larger part of the year and there is a lovely story about a London woman who finds a wounded baby sparrow on her doorstep during World War II. She takes him in and he becomes her companion, eventually bringing comfort to people who lost their homes in air raids. The woman was called Clare Kipps and I am under the impression that this story is based on a real life person.

The author describes herself as going on hikes and actively asking strangers to tell her stories. Predictably many people first say they don’t know any stories before proceeding to tell a very unique story indeed. Many of those stories are about friendships between humans and animals.

I love the scope of subjects, characters and locations. I also love the fact that she does not shy away from the difficult aspects of life. When children hear about characters in stories surviving such things and even finding courage or beauty under challenging circumstances – then that same resilience is reinforced and inspired in the audience.

Many stories end with a Q&A section where the storyteller can ask questions to test if the children have understood the storyline correctly. There is also a Myths from the Land of You section where children are encouraged to connect the story to their own lives and experiences.

This book is that rare thing: it unlocks emotions, ideas and a wild surge of creativity. Even I now want to take myself off on hikes around London and ask complete strangers to tell me stories about sparrows and crows (and may just do that for a day!) Stories about other subjects would be welcome too…

(Full disclosure: I was asked by HawthornPress to review this book as a teacher and author of a book about innovative work with children myself).

Imelda Almqvist, 9 November 2017, London UK


About the author:

Imelda Almqvist is an international teacher of shamanism and sacred art. Her book Natural Born Shamans: A Spiritual Toolkit For Life (Using shamanism creatively with young people of all ages) was published by Moon in 2016.  She is a presenter on the Shamanism Global Summit  2017 as well as on Year of Ceremony with Sounds True. She divides her time between the UK, Sweden and the US. She is currently working on her second book Sacred .

For Amazon information, click image below.  (website)  (blog)  (Youtube channel: interviews, presentations and art videos)

Tink About It

June, 2016

The Making of… Mr. & Mrs. Deer

A few years ago after a full moon celebration with friends we were drumming and talking about making our own drums. Most of us had never done that before, but together we shared some experience. We decided then and there to get this show on the road! We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into though…. We prepared the best way we could and started fresh. We couldn’t find a lot of info on the www, except for some video’s on YouTube. I decided to document the process in pictures, for ourselves and for others that might be interested. Here’s the ultra-short version:










We wanted to make everything from scratch where possible. I decided to use the frame of my first bodhrán (of which the skin was ripped). Ron (my husband) wanted to make a 13-sided drum. We chose birch (my frame was birch too) and started searching. We found a local entrepreneur that has a sawmill for hobby. He knew exactly where the wood came from, he cut the tree down himself. The planks were beautiful but rough. Ron sawed them smaller and into pieces. I made calculations to see what edge to saw. To make a 13-sided drum we needed a 13.8 degree edge; 13 pieces of 13 by 9 cm made a drum with a diameter of approximately 54 cm (21.26 inch). That’s big, but Ron is tall and strong. Because we knew we would often use the drums outside in all kinds of weather we decided (even though it’s not natural) to lacquer the frames with a special weatherproof yacht varnish.

We got the skins for the drums from a butcher. They were ‘leftovers’ that otherwise would have been destroyed. We did a ritual to honour and thank the animals for the skins (and the tree for the wood). The deer were hunted by professionals with permission for population control. The skins weren’t very clean; we had to cut quite some flesh away. That was hard work of which Ron did the major part. He used the back of a double-handed curved cheese knife (a tip from one of the many YouTube-video’s he watched). I did the finer work with a smaller very sharp knife. We rinsed the skins a few times to clean them. Ron stitched a hole with a suture needle and thread.

The other people used parachute cord to tighten the skin to the frame. Ron and I wanted to use only natural material. Ron made the lacing out of the leftover skin, I used tvinningsbennen (or lucet) to make a cord of light and dark (real) sinew. We watched a lot of YouTube-video’s to find the best way to stretch and tighten the skin around the frame. We used a hole punching tool to make the holes, because that gave less risk of tearing the skin. We tightened the skin wet (both skin and lacing). The drying took quite some time. After a few weeks we gave the lacing an extra layer to tighten it even more. In the meantime we had made beaters from leftover birch wood and leather.

We wanted the drums to have the complete skin with hair, but they were too thick for a good sound. So we shaved the skins with a hair trimmer, a little bit each time until we were satisfied with the sound. During the process I had nicknamed our drums Mr. & Mrs. Deer with the intention to find a real name later. The names suited the drums remarkably well though, so we kept it at that.

It was a long process (months), but it was very worthwhile and rewarding. Perhaps we’ll make more drums in the future but I don’t think we’ll make more drums from scratch as we did this time, because that was very time- and energy-consuming. You could use ready-made frames and prepared skins; you put your own energy and time in it to make the drum your own.

The drums feel so good, they sound wonderful together. Mr. Deer has a deep and healing sound, and Mrs. Deer definitely has her own charm and slightly higher sound. The spirits of the deer connect with our energies and that works out amazingly well. We’ve been using them for quite some time now. Outside we sometimes have to tighten the skins by keeping them near a fire, but most of the time they sound great. When they aren’t used they hang on display in our hall, so they are never far and easy to grab for a drum session.