Cultural Glimpse

Enjoying diversity

Category: Nature

3rd Publishers Weekly’s Review of My Books

Front Cover for Healing Wisdom Book 4 (300)

It’s difficult to get one book reviewed by Publishers Weekly let alone 3 books! But it can happen – as it did in my case, 3 books in a row!

Much love to my teachers Lynn V. Andrews and Nancy who worked with me on this fourth and final year of Lynn’s 4-year school.

Publishers Weekly review:

Accomplished spiritual coach and author Namou (The Flavor of Cultures) concludes her four-part memoir by describing her final year in Lynn Andrews’s shamanic school, Storm Eagle. Her new mentor, for the fourth year of the school, is Nancy. Just as in the other three books of this series, this new spiritual teacher has a profound impact on Namou’s journey. Nancy explains that the fourth year is about the apprentices working on themselves and that the year is designed to “help you come out into the world.”

A major portion of the book focuses on the preparation for the graduation ritual, and the ritual itself, which Namou describes in detail that draws the reader in. Familiar names from the previous books in this series make appearances. By the conclusion of this fourth book, it is apparent how Namou has benefitted as a person and writer. The weaving of family life and spiritual life throughout the series helps forge Namou into the person she is today, and she uses what she has learned to help others on their spiritual paths.

Link to full review http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-1-945371-94-3

Cleopatra’s Dance of Darkness

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Cleopatra and Caesar (1866). Painting by Jean-Léon Gérôme

An old friend, a Native American whom I call in my books the Red Indian, is the focus of my upcoming book, Conversations with My Native American Friend. Over the weekend, we continued a conversation we have been having for a while about Cleopatra. Here is some of what he said:

Cleopatra was a matriarch and that’s why the war happened. There were big wars at that time which people didn’t know about, and Cleopatra actually won a couple of big wars. She kind of took over the Roman guy, Caesar. It was like she married him, not he married her. Everything is negative toward that woman, and everything is Caesar, but it was Cleopatra that was the ruler at that time, in the Roman Empire. That’s why Rome was burned.

They didn’t write the history like that, that Cleopatra was the clan mother, that she won. They call her Caesar’s wife and point to her femininity and promiscuity because she is female. They write all about that because it takes away from all the positive things she did. They focus on her negativity to make her a negative person, but she took care of thousands of families and she almost took over the Roman Empire.

Cleopatra was in the middle of the world, the middle of the clan system. When she married the guy from Rome, Caesar, she did that for a reason, but they took her power away. They thought in their mind that they suppressed the clan system to start what we know now as the judicial system. They’d rather not have the clan system. They’d rather have the judicial system.

The court system is the largest corporation in the United States. It’s a form of tax and it’s operated on billions and billions of dollars. If it’s a clan system and you pass a red light, you say, ‘Hey girl, give me the keys. You can’t drive for two or three weeks. Your sister will drive you or you have to wait.’

With the judicial system, you pay a big fine. Making a mistake is monetary with the judicial system.

So back to Cleopatra…  Ancient people, her people, did the dark dance, where it gets cloudy for so long that there’s no crops. That’s how she won a great battle by using the powers at hand. Her enemies had no food. People became sick and died from starvation with no sun coming from the cloud. The problem with the dark dance is not only did the enemies have nothing to eat but neither did you.

If you have a weapon and you decide to use it against someone else, then you have to be willing and able to take that medicine too. If you wish something on someone else, like your enemy, you really should be able to take that on yourself without harm – or you die.

The patriarch society was forced on the matriarch society but that does not mean that the matriarch society is still not there. It just means that it’s not as prevalent. Everything that happened on the earth was because the Creator made it like this. There’s a reason. It’s not good or bad. If you look to the Creator, you will always find a reason why.

 

For more information and updates about this book, visit wwww.weamnamou.com

 

Publishers Weekly Review of My Book

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Spiritual coach Namou (The Flavor of Cultures) describes her personal journey in this first volume of her four-part memoir. It begins with a phone conversation between Namou and author Lynn Andrews that was an essential part of Namou’s development; quotes and themes taken from this conversation are woven throughout the book, which recounts how Namou processed and came to terms with her childhood arrival in Detroit, Mich., after emigrating from Baghdad at the age of nine.

Andrews encourages Namou to participate in the Mystery School, a lineage of learning based on Native American shamanic teachings, and this brings Namou a sense of release from the traumatization of being suddenly uprooted at such an early age to move to a vastly different culture.

This thorough and descriptive first installment includes a deep look into her Iraqi past and Chaldean Christian background, and explores how that spiritual upbringing has influenced her present life. Spiritual terms and symbols that could be new to some readers are explained well throughout the book. Readers interested in personal journeys of faith will be eager to follow Namou along her spiritual path. (BookLife).

To read original post, visit:  http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-9776790-3-4

The Healing Circle

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Exactly a year ago today I sat in front of Lynn Andrews during what’s called the Healing Circle as she brought me to the very place she took me to the first time we talked four years prior – Baghdad. The city which I thought I had let go of, which I wanted to put behind me, kept pulling me in its direction. What did this city want from me? Why wouldn’t it let me be? Or what did I want from it? Why did I keep holding on?

Those questions were finally answered and that part of my story finally released. Healing Wisdom for a Wounded World: My Life-Changing Journey through a Shamanic School (Book 4) is the fourth and final of the four-book memoir series of my apprenticeship in Lynn’s school. One major lesson I learned in this school is that you can create a new interpretation that takes you out of your past and into the present and a new future. You do that once you identify the story that is running your life. You release that story and are then able to pursue your dreams while enjoying healthy relationships and living a sacred family life. In this school, through the ancient teachings and with the help of my wise teachers, I used my storytelling abilities to change my narrative and, since then, I’ve helped others transform their lives by changing their own narratives.

For over two decades, medical practice has increasingly recognized the significance of what’s come to be called “narrative medicine” to the person’s healing. Narrative medicine is a wholesome medical approach that recognized the value of people’s narrative in clinical practice, research, and education as a way to promote healing.

A number of medical schools such as Columbia University now have Narrative Medicine master’s program. Columbia states on their website that “The effective practice of healthcare requires the ability to recognize, absorb, interpret, and act on the stories and plights of others. Medicine practiced with narrative competence is a model for humane and effective medical practice. It addresses the need of patients and caregivers to voice their experience, to be heard and to be valued, and it acknowledges the power of narrative to change the way care is given and received.”

Since I graduated from Lynn’s school a year ago, I’ve watched various discussions about shamanism, what it is or isn’t, who is considered a real shaman and who isn’t. I just observe and listen and think of how I entered into a shamanic school not knowing what shamanism was, not knowing who Lynn Andrews was, but wanting to change my story. It was toward the end of the second year that I googled the word shamanism and learned, for the first time, its real definition. This was not a matter of ignorance, but of innocence, of trusting God to lead me in the right direction.

Available on Amazon

Paperback: https://www.amazon.com/Healing-Wisdom-Wounded-World-Life-Changing/dp/1945371943/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1477997035&sr=8-3&keywords=Weam+Namou

eBook: https://www.amazon.com/Healing-Wisdom-Wounded-World-Life-Changing-ebook/dp/B01LYMYLRR/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1477997102&sr=8-1&keywords=Weam+Namou%2C+eBook

A Conversation with a Native American about Shamanism

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This is a conversation I had with the Native American man I’ve known for decades who I call in my books the Red Indian. This portion is about shamanism and is taken from my memoir series but one day I will write a book solely about him because he has fascinating perspectives worth sharing.

When we spoke about shamanism, he said, “Shamanism was like a society that made sure people stay well. The society policed themselves. All Natives have different societies inside their tribe, a group of people that study the same things, like the plants, the animals, the stars, the rocks. It’s like your writers group. It’s a society.” He paused momentarily before he continued. “You know what the dreamcatcher is? It was a society that disbanded, and the dreamcatcher was given away to the people. That’s why there’s a dream catcher hanging in everyone’s car or in their house or key chains.”

“Why are some natives very angry that people use the word shamanism to describe healing?” I asked.

“Because some people are belittling everything around them to look more powerful than everyone else when in fact it’s the other way around. Everyone is more powerful than them.”

“But if it’s a good thing, wouldn’t it make more sense for natives to share this knowledge with people and educate them?”

“We’ve done this all along. We shared everything with people. We felt it was our duty to share and as soon as they found out, they put us in jails and killed us. As it says in the bible, don’t throw your pearls before swine. We were a very giving people. We fed people and gave information, and what came back to us was some guy hanging on the tree. Wow! It went from giving good things all around the world to receiving back very, very bad things. Most native people that I know are pretty quiet on what they say. It’s not that it’s a secret, but it’s a society, like doctors in the hospital who no one sees. They gather and discuss certain issues and no one knows about it, not even the nurses.”

“I read somewhere that one reason natives get angry about how others use the word shamanism is because Hollywood misuses and abuses this word.”

“Natives had a very hard time with Hollywood,” he said. “You know what Hollywood is? Holly wood is the stick that comes from the holly tree, and Merlin was the king’s magician in Europe who would go around the country like a politician telling people what’s good for them and why they should vote for him. Historically, magician’s wand is made of holly wood. Magicians were good at what they did and made people believe there was magic behind it all when it was really an illusion.”

“Couldn’t an illusion be the same as reality?”

“If you want to believe that way, yeah,” he said. “It’s like believing the sun comes up at six o’clock at night. It’s not real. It’s an illusion. If you believe it, it’s real to you but it’s not real to nature. That’s what an illusion is. It’s a trick. So people who call themselves shamans are for natives just an illusion, trying to call themselves something that’s not real. On the other hand, there are people that can do a cause-and-effect on earth here. It’s usually not personal. Of course, it’s a prayer. You ask the Creator to do something. If people say they can do it themselves, they’re probably a pretty big devil. It’s one evil person trying to cause something for themselves or other people and that’s not good. When you ask something from the Creator, then it’s the best thing for you. It might not be what you want, but it’s the best thing for you. Oh Lord, I need patience, and I need it right now!”

He laughed at the irony, and we were silent for a moment.

“The reason I mentioned Hollywood is because that’s the magician’s wand, and it’s not real. The whole Hollywood thing is not real. They depict something and tell a story, have you believe it’s real and of course it’s not real.”

“It’s like that movie Captain Phillips. They made him a hero when he jeopardized the lives of his crew. Even though the people on the ship came out and told the truth, no one did anything about the non-truth. They did not boycott the film. It was accepted as is.”

“That’s what I mean,” he said. “There are people that relish in the thought of shamanism. Anyone with this much authority that can create the cause-and-effect of things is very humble, and they wouldn’t want you to think of them as a magician. They wouldn’t call themselves shamans to begin with and they would have much experience because they take care of a lot of people, children and grandchildren and those who come to them with problems. They’re normally wiser people. Generations of people make wise, not fifteen minutes of class.

“Just because a person is old doesn’t mean they’re wise. Some portray elderly native people as very wise, bla, bla, bla, but to native people, a baby could be very wise. No one person is greater than another. Wise people make decisions with consideration to the seven generations that are not born as opposed to what I need right now. I can make a decision for something I want right now, but it might not be a good thing for my grandchildren. A decision can be made by looking at the seven generations behind and the seven generations to come. It’s harder to look into the future than it is to look at the history. It’s still a consideration for the future.”

My Life-Changing Journey Through a Shamanic School

Front Cover (large)“The school helps you to be heard not just by others listening to you, but by you listening to yourself,” said Lynn Andrews during the second year of her four-year shamanic school. “You have to do that in order to create a mirror for yourself, for your act of power. We’re peeling away the clouds of ignorance that cloud your vision. Then you begin to see that you really do have something important and wonderful to say, and more and more you’re appreciating yourself. Patience and diligence are important in this.”

In the second year of the shamanic school, we focused on understanding how to bring form into the world; to experience holding energy and moving it out into the universe; to develop the ability to move energy into objects for healing and sacred work; to learn how to use sacred tools in a powerful way without manipulating ourselves or others; and to prepare for the building of dream bodies and develop the skills for lucid dreaming.

Lynn said to me, “You need to stay focused on one project and just get it done. You need to have faith in it and see it being strong and wonderful. I think you have a fabulous project. I wouldn’t blur it with other projects. And if you can, stop worrying about it. Just do it. If God wants to help you, He wouldn’t know what to do. You’re kind of all over the place.”

Her preciseness and honesty tasted like sugar cookies. They were sweet and light and yet extremely important. They helped me see why I kept hitting a slump.

“Stick with that, with the book,” she said. “Do it! Live it! You’re really onto something wonderful. If you were speaking to God, what would you tell him you want? Tell God what you want!”

I did.

 

Book 2 of my memoir series about this school was released today. It’s my 10th book to date and it’s available in paperback and eBook.

Healing Wisdom for a Wounded World: My Life-Changing Journey Through a Shamanic School (Book 2)

https://www.amazon.com/Healing-Wisdom-Wounded-World-Life-Changing/dp/1945371994/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1469275283&sr=8-1-fkmr0&keywords=Healing+wisdom+for+a+wounded+world

A Lavenderly Writing Experience

 

IMG_7397 (2)The world news was infused with negative stories and my kitchen had dust galore as men tore down one of its walls. I could not be happier to leave this chaos and the news behind and transport myself to the Detroit Working Writers Boot Camp which was hosted at the home of author, gardener, educator, and my great mentor Iris Underwood. Her home being in an organic lavender farm, I knew I was in for a treat.

Within half-an-hour, I was out of the city noise, driving through unpaved roads of a small town that still has a post office that has been in operation since 1884. I found the home tucked amongst a thick silence, with the only sounds coming from the rustling tree leaves and the bees over the flowers. I walked around the house and down a hill of green pastures to where the writers gathered outside. They sat on large wooden bench tables under a large canopy and were surrounded by lavender plants.

Author Cynthia Harrison led the workshop, discussing Character, Conflict, and Setting in a most vivid, humorous, and loving way. She shared her experience of when one day, shortly after she got married, there was a storm in the 1970s that flooded her basement, where a box of her notebooks was stored. Needless to say, her poetry and other writings were drenched and, for the most part, disintegrated. While at that moment she reflected on her career, her then husband wanted to know, “What’s for dinner?”

She brought us much laughter and inspiration to write from the heart. We later enjoyed a delicious lunch of salad, lavender scones and lavender brownies. We took a tour of the farm. I visited the little building with a yellow door and sign that read “Girls Only” and found it was occupied by four pretty healthy hens. We were offered scissors to clip the lavender plants and take some home. We then sat beneath another canopy where two musicians sang country songs while playing the mandolin and guitar.

Iris started this farm because lavender had healed her in several ways. Lavender oil is known to reduce anxiety and emotional stress, heal burns and wounds, improve sleep, restore skin complexion and reduce acne, alleviate headaches, slow aging with powerful antioxidants, and has many other beneficial effects. No wonder I walked out of her property feeling like I’ve just walked out of a therapeutic, a magical, bath.

Ziplining through the Yucatan Peninsula Jungle

Today’s freezing cold reminded me of the beautiful warm weather in Cancun, particularly the day we ziplined in the Yucatan jungle. The video here is the second zipline adventure we did, and it was mild in comparison to the first one, where the zipline was so high, they paired us with our children.

I was proud to have participated in something excitingly frightening – until on the flight home, I watched Everest and felt that this zipline really paled in comparison to most adventures. Anyway, I still take credit for doing something outside my comfort zone. When you’re in that area, surrounded by nature, it becomes natural to do physical activity.

The Yucatan Peninsula consists largely of the ancient Maya Lowlands, with many Maya archaeological sites such as the Chichen Itza, Tulum, and Uxmal. In modern history, it was largely a cattle ranching, logging, chicle and henequen production area. Since the 1970s, and the fall of the world henequen and chicle market due to the advent of synthetic subtitles, the Yucatan Peninsula’s economy has leaned more on tourism.

Due to this, we were able to enjoy a stroll in a Mayan town, having lunch at a family-owned Mayan restaurant, and experiencing several ceremonies with Mayan shamans, which for me was the most delightful adventure!

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Shamanism, Bringing This World from Darkness into Light

Healing Wisdom  (FRONT COVER) (1)

For a long time, I struggled to fit into two worlds, my birth country of Iraq and my home, America. The process made me feel like a yo-yo, and oftentimes, like I was living a double life. It was especially difficult when I had to witness the wars on Iraq, the sanctions, the suffering that these political acts created, a suffering that still trails into our lives through television sets and other media outlets, holding up mirrors on how conflict can leave such awful residue on our souls.

From the time I was in my early twenties, my priorities have been family, writing and service. Though it had its challenges, combining family and writing was something I knew I could do and do it successfully. Combining writing and service, however, was questionable, especially after the 2003 U.S. led invasion when, for the first time in my life, I doubted the work I was in. While I loved being a writer, I figured what was the use of articulating thoughts and facts on paper when women were kidnapped and raped, men slaughtered, and children orphaned?

On the radio, on TV, in newspapers, online, everyone, including myself, put their two cents in. But women were still kidnapped and raped, men slaughtered, and children orphaned, in a place that I’d visited only three years prior, during a time when a woman such as myself could step out of the house wearing her Western clothing without anyone batting an eye let alone threatening to kill her, or simply killing her, if she didn’t veil and remove her makeup. True, people were tired then because of the UN imposed sanctions and Saddam’s regime but they were safe from the senseless and random violent acts that grabbed hold of the country like coyotes attacking a chicken hen. That also grabbed hold of me.

The violence drained my creativity and led me to a dark place where I lost my literary voice. Then I met a shaman, I met Lynn Andrews. Her teachings dusted off the residue that clogged up my creativity, one by one removing the particles of fear and sadness, eventually bringing me from darkness into light. These teachings also brought me, through my writings, to a place of service.

Once someone asked, “What is shamanism?” To me, shamanism is a healing, through love, through nature, through the Creator. It’s a natural way of living which had survived harmlessly for hundreds of thousands of years, for even longer, until the agricultural revolution occurred in ancient Mesopotamia, now called Iraq, when people began to control others through food production. Shamanism opened my heart and healed my voice, to where I was able to write full-time, today publishing my eighth book. It’s an ancient teaching that works in the twenty-first century, and I believe, will continue to expand and be embraced because we’re beginning to realize the benefits it offers our world.

 

Healing Wisdom for a Wounded World: My Life-Changing Journey Through a Shamanic School http://www.amazon.com/Healing-Wisdom-Wounded-World-Life-Changing/dp/0977679047/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1454348624&sr=8-2&keywords=Weam+Namou

Blessed by Mayan Shamans

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It was a full moon, a Wolf Moon. Before 3:00 pm, I walked to the trail leading to the Mayan ceremony. I came upon a narrow pathway to the right, with a bowl of incense beside a large shell. Over it, a sign read:

“Enjoy a relaxing experience and feel yourself being reborn with this mystical old-age rite. The Temazcal steam bath is good for the soul. It mixes a spiritual journey with a truly delightful encounter with the basic elements of our planet: water, fire, earth, and wind…”

I went into the narrow road that seemed hidden within the beautiful trees. The road led to a round area where three men dressed in white trousers prepared the burning of large black stones. They greeted me and asked that I take a seat on the bench, besides an Indian couple who also happened to live in Michigan. I then watched as the men continued to make the black stones hotter and redder.

During the ceremony, we had the opportunity to reflect on our negativities and then to throw them away, using maple syrup chips, into the incense bowl that the shaman came to us with. We drank a bowl of tree sap, were asked to close our eyes and dream in our new vision, and we were blessed by the shaman in the Mayan language. Then we were led into a sweat lodge.

The sweat lodge was dark, with only four lit candles. Soon the hot stones were brought in by a wagon and piled in the middle of the room. The room became warm, and when the men poured aromatic water over the stones, producing steam, it became hotter and hotter.

“I will eventually blow out the candles and the room will be completely dark,” he said, both in English and Spanish so all seven people would understand him. “If you feel you want to leave, that’s okay, just clap your hands and we will help you out. But I ask that you stay and take advantage of this opportunity. Allow the prayers to transport you to another place in time. Allow the steam created by the herbs and hot stones to envelope your body as it purifies your spirt, then experience a rebirth as you abandon to the warm shelter of mother earth’s womb.”

He talked about the feminine power, the importance of women in this world, how they are the backbone of society and therefore, needs to be treated well by men. He then talked about the four elements of our planet. Not long after he blew out the candles, with the steam rising higher and the room getting hotter, I did have this urge to escape, to clap my hands. I tried to stay still, but I felt very uncomfortable, and then I asked myself, “What am I afraid of?”

Suddenly, I relaxed. I relaxed enough to listen to the answer which I was afraid to look at. I received much wisdom in this submission and remembered my teachers from Lynn Andrews’ school who had also held sacred space for me as I faced my dark side, and how facing my dark side has also helped me find the light.

We walked out of the sweat lodge into a waterfall of pure water. We returned to the circle for another drink, and to give gratitude. The shaman thanked us for keeping this thousands-year-old Mayan tradition alive by our participation. We thanked him for this amazing opportunity.

The last time I had gone to Mexico was twenty years ago, to chaperone my niece and her friends for their Spring Break. Back then, shamans were not a part of any excursion. Back then, few people had ever heard the word shaman. Luckily, today is a different story. Today that tradition is not only alive and well, but available to everyone who understands and appreciates the healing and rejuvenation it provides for us and our Earth.