Cultural Glimpse

Enjoying diversity

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US Reviews of Books Reviews My Book

Healing Wisdom (FRONT COVER) (1)

Book reviewed by Carol Anderson, D.Min., ACSW, LMSW

“There was a silence so sacred, it was as if the earth beneath us was knitting its soil into a blanket and placing that blanket around us to honor our desire to acknowledge, respect, love, and help heal her wounds.”

Written by noted author Weam Namou, this memoir delves into a deep relationship between her past, present, and future with insights from her varied cultural experiences. Her autobiography (Book 1) has 28 chapters that stretch over 341 pages. Interesting chapters include her first meeting with her shaman, the history of growing up in Iraq and what it was like to move to America, and the story of her eating disorder and how she struggled with self-worth issues, including her over-eating. The chapters on the Great Nurturing Mother and the Creative Rainbow Mother explore how women are taught to take care of others while struggling with finding their own creative paths in life. The “Personal Evaluation Paper” chapter evaluates how the ancient teachings have helped her to heal, and the book ends with an exquisite poem dedicated to her mentor.

The story begins as the author contacts Lynn Andrews, a noted American shaman and author whose Mystery School teaches about sacred practices for healing. She makes this contact as she has been struggling to regain her voice in her literary pursuits, especially in light of family struggles, cultural differences, and trying to live within these two cultures while raising her two children with her more traditional husband. She commits to four years at the school, primarily working with Leslie, her guide. Through this, she discovers her Rainbow Mother self, that self that wants to fly into creativity and expansiveness, while being married to a Nurturing Mother energy husband who is more about tradition and control. She especially examines the relationship with her own mother who was a Nurturer but became a Death Mother that focused on negativity and misery. Throughout the memoir, she develops ways to set boundaries, work with both familial and cultural differences, and pave the way for a balance within herself, family and others—as well as within her endeavors of writing and film making.

The creative writing within the juxtaposition of the past and the future allows the reader to delve deeper into an understanding of not only the author and her varied life experiences but also within the Middle Eastern culture in which she was born. Being born in Iraq, the family immigrated to Detroit, Michigan, when she was age ten because of the ongoing struggles within the Middle East. The story weaves back and forth between her Christian Iraqi upbringing, the beauty of the Quran, mysticism, and the struggles for Iraq and democracy, all while facing issues in her personal life. Because of the work she does through the Mystery School, the reader is enveloped in her range of feelings from joy to sorrow, from struggle to acceptance, and from the here-and-now to the transcendent.

The writing is well-researched, eloquent, crisp, concise, and, at times, beautifully poetic. This is an honest, heart-driven account into the reflection of her personal issues. It provides a depth within the education she provides the reader about Iraqi culture including mystical beliefs and traditional healing. Along with her own healing through various teachers and practices such as Native traditions including shamanism, Reiki, yoga, chakra work, and Seichim, this work allows the reader to delve into the depths of the author’s belief systems and how she started on a healing path for herself and for her family.

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Provoking Americans to Think and Become One Team

Today @ 3pm (EST) Ed Tyll will once again interview me. Will it be another political boxing match, as it was last summer? I had written a blog post of this very provocative 75 minute interview, where I’d predicted Trump would win and he’d called me, after many political punches, brilliant. Wonder what will happen today.

Cultural Glimpse

rainbow-flowerI was scheduled for a 20 minute interview at 2:30 pm by award winning talk show host Ed Tyll on Starcom Radio Network. Within a minute of our interview, I realized this was not the typical interview. It was a political rumble (one of my listeners called it egotistical bullying). I held my ground, threw my own political punches and 80 minutes later, he said, “You’re the most provocative person I’ve interviewed. You’re intelligent and brilliant and you never lost your femininity. I haven’t gone this much over an interview in 3 or 4 years.” He has been in this business for over 40 years. Oh, and he also invited me out to dinner.

Overall, the interview was fun, engaging and I saw, once again, how the lessons I’d learned from Lynn Andrews’ 4-year school about feminine power could be used as a tool to create harmony between people and…

View original post 210 more words

Publishers Weekly Review of Book 2 of My Memoir Series

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In this second installment of her four-book series, spiritual coach Namou continues to describe her personal journey through a shamanic school known as The Mystery School. Taking up where the first book left off, Weam shares some of her meaningful telephone discussions with mentor Lynn Andrews—for example, it’s important to “be responsible for yourself, before you can be responsible to deal at all with anyone else.” As Namou’s second year in The Mystery School requires her to expand her studies, the book includes descriptions of conversations with her second-year mentor, Fiona.

During these conversations with Fiona, other participants from Namou’s Mystery School cohort chime in to ask pertinent questions that push their collective spiritual journey forward. In addition to relating her experience with The Mystery School, Namou divulges more about her personal and family life, including her relationship with her husband, Sudaid, and their eight-year struggle with immigration into the United States. By the end of book two, readers will see firsthand that settling her undecided immigration status gave way for Namou to feel more freedom to write.

Link to full interview http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-1-945371-99-8

 

 

Kai Mann interviews me for her Talk Show

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The wonderful Kai Mann interviewed me during the summer about my experience as an Iraqi-American and as a former apprentice of Lynn Andrews’ school. The one-hour episode was recently released and, watching it, I’m reminded of the power of love, faith & spirituality. We cannot depend on anyone else to bring us these qualities because they are truly within.

Kai’s message, “We are all connected by our humanity.”

Marriage of Self to Self

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As I leave to join great author and mystic Lynn Andrews at a gathering, to learn and share more wisdom, I also announce the release of my next book. Healing Wisdom for a Wounded World: My Life-Changing Journey Through a Shamanic School (Book 3) highlights the third year of my apprenticeship in Lynn Andrews’ four-year shamanic school.

The third-year work focuses on balancing one’s emotions, building endurance, working deeply with the chakra systems, and celebrating the marriage of self to self. Through my journey, you will gain insight into these ancient holographic teachings where the past, present, and future exist simultaneously as our reality. This is a theory which goes back to the indigenous people who believed that we exist in a dream or illusion. Physicists across the world are now thinking the same thing and people are awakening to the possible idea of birthing a new story for our planet.

Link to Amazon page: https://www.amazon.com/Healing-Wisdom-Wounded-World-Life-Changing/dp/1945371978/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1474533590&sr=8-1&keywords=Healing+Wisdom+for+a+wounded+world%3A+My+Life-Changing+Journey+Through+a+Shamanic+School+%28Book+3%29

The China Connection: Nestorian Stele Tells Ancient Tale

Nestorian Stele

This article was originally published by The Chaldean News (January 2016) http://www.chaldeannews.com/the-china-connection-nestorian-stele-tells-ancient-tale/

A direct connection between China and the Church of the East has been brought to Michigan by Dr. Michael David Hanna.

This past fall, Hanna traveled to China on business as a senior technical consultant for an auto-part manufacturer. While there, he came in close vicinity of a famous stone called the Nestorian Stele.

For years, Hanna has been active in researching his ancestors’ history, the Shikwana family, who were scribes. The process led him to make connections with many scholars in different institutions, some of whom happened to be in China.

“One of these scholars made me aware of our church history in China,” Hanna said. “I talked to my friend, Deacon Khairy Foumia, about this information and he said that the church is interested to have a copy of the stele.”

Foumia already knew about the stele as he’d read about it in an Arabic article written in 1993 by Fr. Yousif Habbi, who lived in Iraq. In that article, Fr. Habbi addressed the spread of Christianity in China and described the text engraved in the stele.

The stele’s inscription describes in Chinese “the Messiah” and His virgin birth, and it states the preservation of 27 scriptures, a reference to the New Testament. It includes the declaration of the Christian faith, called “the Luminous Religion,” and a summarization of the history of Christianity in China as well as the manner in which some of the kings of China received and treated the Christians.

The last major part is a lengthy poem honoring God and the emperors who supported His church. The concluding lines give the date, name the ruling patriarch of the “luminous communities of the East,” and name the artist who inscribed the text on the stele. The Syriac sections list more than 70 bishops, priests and monks.

“There are a number of books written about the stele,” said Foumia, “but none written in Arabic.”

The Nestorian Stele is a limestone block that’s about 9 feet tall and 3 feet wide, weighing two tons, with text in both Chinese and Syriac describing the existence of early Christian communities in several cities in northern China. According to the stele, Alopen, the first recorded Christian missionary, and 17 of his fellow Syriac missionaries came to China from the Roman Empire in 635, bringing sacred books and images.

“Alopen and the missionaries went through the Silk Road, establishing many stations on their way, including in Afghanistan and India,” said Hanna.

On the stone monument is engraved the history of the Assyrian Church of the East in China between 635 C.E., the year this branch of Christianity arrived there, and 781 C.E., the year the stele was erected. According to author Yoshio Saeki, the missionaries arrived at a time in Chinese history that is “generally characterized by liberal-minded emperors who welcomed this variety of practical thinking.”

“The kings of China liked the missionaries and their message, but after a couple of hundred years, somehow Buddhism was favored and Christianity was stopped,” said Hanna. “There are a lot of books that talk about how Christians were forced to convert to Islam. It’s the same history that is happening to us in Iraq today.”

The stele is thought to have been buried in 845, during a campaign of anti-Buddhist persecution that also affected the Nestorians, and was not rediscovered until 1625.

“The Chinese language and culture was completely different than that of the missionaries,” said Hanna. “For example, the Chinese liked the cross, but the cross in Chinese character is the number 10. So there were some cultural mix-ups.”

Hanna said the Mesopotamians in China lasted more than 300 years as they intermarried and went back and forth to Mesopotamia to bring more people and help spread the word of Jesus and their knowledge of science and medicine.

“When they were persecuted, some of them went back to Mesopotamia,” he said. “That’s why some of our people have Asian features. They might have those genes.”

Hanna also noted that the time the missionaries went to China was around the same time that Rabban Hormizd Monastery was built in Alqosh, about 640 A.D.

“It was probably the hype of Christianity,” said Hanna, “because during that time, Mesopotamia was under the rule of the Persian Empire.”
The stele is housed in the Forest of Stele Museum in Xian. Since Hanna was far from that city, a colleague with family there told him he could help get a rubbing copy of it. This man went to the museum a number of times and consulted with the directors, and finally got a nice copy on rice paper.

“Ninety-nine percent of our people do not know about this stele that came from Mesopotamia to China,” said Hanna. “That’s why I felt very happy about bringing it here and making it known.”

When he brought the copy of the stele to America, the Chaldean bishop and priests marveled at it. It was gifted to the bishop’s library and currently the Chaldean Cultural Center is discussing ways to replicate it and include it in their museum.

“This stele is a treasure for our church in China,” said Foumia. “But it’s also a truly wonderful thing to have a very old and antique item in our museum.”

Iraq, Part of Our Heritage – Contrary to Popular Belief

Zuggarat

Ziggurat, a rectangular stepped tower, sometimes surmounted by a temple. Ziggurats are first attested in the late 3rd millennium BC and probably inspired the biblical story of the Tower of Babel (Gen. 11:1–9).

(This article was originally published in 2006. Since then, little has changed.)   

The words China and Egypt, Athens and Rome, bring to most people’s mind a mysterious history and a respected culture. Rarely will the word Mesopotamia, ancient Iraq, do the same. You’ll probably receive confused or weird expressions from children, even most adults, at the mention of Mesopotamia. In regards to Iraq, images of violence, terrorists, Islamic fundamentalists and war pop up all over. And that’s where the images usually end.

As for Iraq’s attributes, they are buried alive beneath lack of recognition. For whatever reason, history school books and TV programs fail to discuss the importance of ancient Iraq, even though it’s the mother of our current lifestyle and therefore, should not only be discussed but emphasized.

I stopped writing here, walked away from my computer and asked my niece, who was studying for a college course at the kitchen table, to call a couple of her friends, tell them she was doing a survey for her aunt and could they answer one question: “What is Mesopotamia?”

The people surveyed were in their mid-twenties to late thirties, and are either currently in college or have a college degree.

1st response is a first generation American, the daughter of Chaldean (Christian Iraqi) immigrants: “What the f_ _ _ is this for? I don’t know. I’m not good in geography. Are you kidding me right now? I can’t explain it like this. You caught me off guard. I don’t know. I have to think about it. You can’t do this. I wasn’t able to brain storm so go get your information from someplace else.”

Click. My niece laughed, knowing her friend overreacted having been put on the spot. She dialed the next number, this time putting a little twist in the question. “If an alien comes down from out of space and asks you what is Mesopotamia, what would you say?”

2nd response is also by the daughter of Chaldean immigrants: “Oh, my God! Well…. Long ago – long ago – okay, it’s an area of land in the Middle East. It’s our culture, where our people are from. Didn’t your aunt write a book on this? It’s a big spot and a war broke out there and everyone was separated to different areas.”

3rd response is by a Greek-American man: “I don’t know. Never heard of it. It’s a region. In Biblical times. That’s all I know.”

4th response is by an American woman: “It’s a country – an area – providence – an area in the Middle East. In an Arabic land. Where there’s King Tut and Egypt.”

5th response is by an Iranian woman: “It was an Eastern civilization that has something to do with the Ottoman Empire or Egypt.”

6th response is by a Jewish woman: “It’s a country or city.”

7th response is by an Irish-American woman: “Cancer.”
She must have mistaken the word for mesothelioma, I’m assuming?

The results of the survey did not surprise me. I knew from prior experience that people knew little if anything about the history of Iraq even though America has had political and media contact with that region for over two decades. I remembered how, after the Gulf War, many people called Iraq Iran and after I corrected them, they explained, “Oh, I always get these two countries mixed up.”

It seems that, when the British occupied Mesopotamia in the early twentieth century and carved it up like a pie, dividing the region into different countries and assigning them new names, they took its power away. After that, people did not connect the dots, that ancient Iraq is the cradle of civilization. Writing, the first school, law, literature, map of the world, and the idea of dividing time and space into a multiple of 60’s started in this historic land. Iraq is the birthplace of Prophet Abraham, supposedly the site of the Garden of Eden, and where many biblical stories occurred.

It’s ironic that the region where science, astronomy, and numerous inventions, like the wheel, were a prominent way of life, today it is perceived as, and in many cases it is, a barbaric land. One wonders how much of this regression was a result of this land’s own bloody history and how much of it was as a result of Western influence.

Trumbo’s Communism was the Islamism of the Time

My father, a lover of words and numbers, was the head of the accounting department for Baghdad Railway Station. On the side, he did translation, from Arabic to English and vice versa. His free services included being a bonesetter and representing people who could not afford an attorney in court. People trusted him because he was a just man and he knew how to play with words as if they were marbles.

Words can be used with good or bad intentions. My father used words to help heal and free people. Some people, like government officials and media personalities, play with words to instill fear and oppress people. They will take a word like communism and flavor it with all the necessary negativity to cause an unwarranted fear and create an Us vs. Them attitude.  Anyone slightly associated with that word is the “Bad Guy” and anyone against that word is the “Good Guy.”

Let me demonstrate a specific way the government played with words to help its war campaign against Iraq. The communists of Iraq are rarely mentioned because, for the sake of showing what a brutal man Saddam was, these communists were renamed anti-Saddamists. Look at the infamous black and white televised image of Saddam at the podium. He announces that “There are traitors among us (i.e. communists).” Then he calls off a list of names (given to him by US gov.). He wipes tears from his eyes because some of these men, although communists, were his friends. But he was willing to do anything to align with his western allies and gain power.

The US helped the rise of the Baathist Party because they did not want another communist country. From the beginning, they offered a list of 800 Iraqi communists to the Baathist insurgents, and all were killed. Many communists fled Saddam’s regime. The televised image of Saddam calling out the names of these communists (later called anti-Saddamists) was circulated to convince people that the world would be safer and more peaceful without Saddam.

Ironically, removing these 800 communists, then removing Saddam, has not made the world safer or more peaceful. We’ve actually achieved the opposite effect. Yet, when I watched Trumbo the other day, I realized that we’ll be doing more of the same thing and expecting a different result (the definition of insanity). We’ll continue to be tricked into a fear-based atmosphere which will distract us from what’s really going on and rob us of our true freedom.

I write not to point fingers. I write from experience. Having grown up in a totalitarian regime, I can smell oppression thousands of miles away.  For that reason, I strongly encourage people to not only watch Trumbo, but to learn from it.

An Iraqi Henna in America

I have been gone quite a while because, over the summer, I was busy keeping up with the kids’ activities (and going crazy in the process). I’m also busy trying to finish the details of my seventh book, Iraqi Americans: The Lives of The Artists, which is coming out in a few weeks.

I thought that things would slow down once school starts, but nope! I still have a million and one things to do, but last night, I attended my husband’s nephew’s henna party, and I could not resist sharing its beauty with the rest of the world. I’ve written about henna parties before, so I will not repeat this information in this post.

This is purely a visual post so enjoy!

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Witnessing a Genocide

Witnessing a Genocide FRONT ONLY

Earlier this year, I decided to write a book in remembrance to what happened in Iraq in the summer of 2014. The book is called Witnessing a Genocide, and in it, I share my visit to Iraq in 2000, a journey where I embraced Easter with relatives, remembered my magical childhood in Baghdad, and enjoyed my ancestors’ town of Telkaif in Mosul.

The trip, held dear to my heart and preserved through pictures of extravagant picnics, tours of ancient monasteries and other lively explorations, is soon drowned by the events that follow the 2003 US-led invasion. Like the rest of the Iraqi American community, I watched from a distance the destruction and devastation befalling my birth country.

The violence and persecution of Iraqi Christians caused most of my relatives still living in Iraq to flee. The emergence of the Islamic State further ravages this community. But Iraqi Christians are not the only targets. Over three million Iraqis, of different ethnic and religious background, have been displaced by the conflict in Iraq since January 2014.

Witnessing a Genocide, the second book in the Iraqi Americans book series, provides the Iraqi American view on Iraq and the Islamic State. Their perspectives, told through personal stories, have sentiments and information not found in mainstream media. I hope that people who read Witnessing a Genocide can start viewing the East’s vision as a counterpart to that of the West. Today, Mesopotamia, the biblical Garden of Eden, is a flat desert, thanks to inflation, overuse of agricultural land, and enemy invasions. The past is a warning of how our current civilization could destroy the environment of the future.