Elemental Shaman: One Man’s Journey Into the Heart of Humanity, Spirituality & Ecology by Omar W. Rosales

shamanReviewed by Chris Phillips

Rosales is a man with a mission that can’t be a mission; with a goal that he has to keep seeking without seeking. This book is a travel journal with more then the usual sites to see, people to meet and places to go. Rosales leads the reader through his personal spiritual journey and into the realm of the mystical.

From the American Southwest and the Mexican borderlands, through Guatemala and then to Bhutan, Rosales travels in search of something. He is guided by his dreams, but like most dreams not all is revealed in them. He only has some images to guide him to where these people are. Each of the spiritual beings that he seeks is a shaman in their own right. However, it becomes apparent that he has developed into a shaman in the meantime. He does not acknowledge this anywhere in the book, not even in the epilogue, but he shows his readers a path that many who are not able to go to the far ends of the earth can learn from.

He reveals, openly and honestly, how each step happened for him. This alone is very refreshing and enlightening. He describes each situation in sufficient detail that a proactive seeker could repeat much of his adventure; even if the people have changed or moved on, there will be others who may help in the same manner.

Technically, there are some difficulties that tend to distract and detract from the story. Rosales spends time describing where he is, his feelings at those times, and the people he encounters, but many of the metaphors fail to evoke the images he strives for, a trail is described as “…like the first sip from a glass of merlot, lingering, slightly vanilla, and ever so sweet.” That seems not only contradictory; merlot doesn’t generally have a vanilla taste, but also obtuse as the description of an easy climb.

There were few typographic and grammatical errors to Llewellyn’s (the publisher and hopefully editor) and Rosales’ credit. However, many phrases and statements cause hesitation and require some mental twisting to decipher. Also, Rosales has a tendency to become a bit “preachy” in tone from time to time, as if he must evangelize the reader to his way of thinking. As with many books dealing with spirituality, Rosales draws on the strength of his convictions. He then advocates the lesson in this preachy manner. Unfortunately the book covers several years and several encounters, which lead him to advocate a different practice or concept in another chapter or section. Then he changes his mind, advocates another one and maintains the same preachy attitude when contradicting the previous stance.

Overall, Rosales provides an interesting journal of his adventures discovering truth. Enlightenment is an individual path, but as he describes it, something that can be learned by experience and passed on to others in retelling. Spiritually uplifting, he relates insights that can only come from one who is searching and hasn’t finished the journey. Hopefully, his last paragraph indicates that he will share with the world additional insights from his further travels.

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