Book Review – Shamanic Plant Medicine-San Pedro: The Gateway to Wisdom by Ross Heaven

July, 2019

Book Review
Shamanic Plant Medicine-San Pedro
The Gateway to Wisdom
by Ross Heaven

San Pedro: The Gateway to Wisdom is one in The Shamanic Plant Medicine series authored by Ross Heaven. Each book introduces a plant medicine teacher and medicine ally. This well-written, accessible book introduces us to the Cactus of Mystery, San Pedro, native to the Andes and used by Andean shamans in healing ceremonies.

Mr. Heaven, who died in 2018, has left us with a practical and nuanced introduction to San Pedro. The book gives us an overview of the plant’s history and the lore relating to its sense of mystery, which certainly drew me in to wanting to know more about it. Here are some of the fascinating bits of lore that Heaven provided: Legend has it that St. Cyprian was instructed by Jesus to hide the keys to Paradise from the Spanish invaders and Inquisition in a cactus under the watchful eye of St. Peter, keeper of the keys to Heaven– hence this entheogen’s name. It also has many nicknames, one of which is punku – doorway or gateway – for its ability to open a doorway beyond the world of illusion, as author Heaven wrote. Its active ingredient is mescaline and its healing and nurturing action has earned it another nickname: Grandfather. As Heaven wrote in a different book: “There is a sort of mystery surrounding San Pedro and a sense that knowledge of the plant must remain secret or at least be earned through preparation, participation and worthiness of those who drink it.”

Heaven provided a detailed chapter on why San Pedro’s medicine is sought after and descriptions of various ceremonies and methods of use by San Pedro shamans. Heaven also discussed various modes of preparation, while urging respect, safety and caution working with this teacher plant. While it is not a how-to, step-by-step manual, the book provides excellent guidance on what to look for when seeking someone to conduct and support a ceremony. The personal accounts of people who experienced San Pedro’s healing effects in ceremony with Heaven and other shamans are engaging, encouraging and worth reading.

The most fascinating and instructive section examines the effects of San Pedro on creativity. There is an overview of the early research with psychedelics in the 1960s, specifically with their effect on artists. Heaven equated the ability of the creative process – to “shift” the brain into perceiving and functioning differently – with the nature of the entheogenic experience. Both processes are “nonrational and nonverbal, the insights coming at an almost cellular level through the remodeling of the self. Trying to capture this experience in words is too limiting for those who have undergone it.” Heaven’s description of these processes is reason alone to read this book! A discussion of shamans as artists as they engage with the creative flow of energy in the healing process is also worth the read. There are also deeply engaging personal accounts of visual and musical artists who described the effects of San Pedro on their work and their search for self-knowledge.

Heaven ended the book with a chapter on working responsibly with San Pedro. There are in-depth recommendations regarding environment, introducing yourself to the plant with respect, what to expect during the work itself and legalities of possession and use of San Pedro.

If you are interested in working with San Pedro, or simply in learning more about entheogenic plant medicine in general, this book is a great place to start. It is an easy to read, well-researched and information beginning. I will keep it on my bookshelf as a good reference and already plan to read the other books in this excellent series from Moon .

Shamanic Plant Medicine – San Pedro: The Gateway to Wisdom 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.

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Book Review – The Art of Doodle Words by Sarah Alberto

April, 2019

Book Review
The art of Doodle Words
by Sarah Alberto
144 pp.
Race Point Publishing

“The art of Doodle Words” is an inventive, amusing look into a playful art style: Sarah Alberto’s “doodle words” are hand-lettered art pieces which incorporate fun pictorial imagery into the construction of a hand-lettered word or phrase. For example, the word “tools” can be spelled out with different types of tools, or a line of cursive may be incorporated into a larger drawing.

The introduction walks the reader through the basics of creating doodle art (including some suggestions for brain-storming and laying out a specific design), while the first part of the book gives numerous examples of different letter form styles: basic handwriting, a few script examples, bubble letters, block letters, and several other styles to give lots of variety and options to the imaginative artist. Different letter styles are offered side-by-side with numerous examples of phrases rendered in that style.

Part Two of “The art of Doodle Words” contains numerous examples of fully doodled words, each example broken down in a step-by-step process so that the artist can follow along and practice creating them. Many of the examples would make good signage for parties or invitations, and fuel the imagination for more. Creative children may enjoy this book especially, as doodle words can work with any skill level and level of creativity; it could also add playfulness to any journaling or scrap-booking practice. 

This isn’t a book that teaches fancy hand-lettering or calligraphy, but if you’re drawn to learn Alberto’s playful style of typography, you’ll doubtless find many uses for this technique, and have a lot of fun learning and experimenting along the way. “The art of Doodle Words” doesn’t teach anything besides this very specific style, but the style is one that has an infinite capacity for variety and experimentation — certainly a great tool for any hand-lettering or crafting enthusiast!

The art of Doodle Words: Turn Your Everyday Doodles into Cute Hand Lettering! on Amazon


About the Author:

Sarah McMenomy is an artist and witch. Her craft incorporates herbalism, spellwork, trance, divination, auras, and more. Her work can be found at