I believe writing is a spiritual practice, and so I was drawn to the title of Jill Jepson's book. She approaches writing through four gateways to the sacred: the mystic, the monk, the shaman, and the warrior. It is a book full of writing ideas as well as affirmations for the writing life.
The mystic helps us "develop our own unique perspective"; the monk teaches us to foster silence and solitude as well as the "importance of community in the writing life"; the shaman teaches writers to "journey in the realm of memory, imagination, myth and dream and how to draw energy from our relationship with the natural world." Lest you feel the need for down-to-earth practical advice, the warrior's training teaches and inspires "focus, discipline, and strategic skill."
Jepson begins the book saying: "If you are reading this book, you have already heard the call." That simple sentence is an honoring of the life we writers have chosen, or more accurately perhaps, the life that has chosen us.
One of the "sacred tools" presented early in the book is "Offering Your Story." This means offering our story to a particular person or to the world, while keeping our personal gift of writing in mind. When our story is finished Jepson suggests we infuse it with love, light a candle and "hold the story up toward the sky or close to your heart." As Jepson writes: "Whatever you can do to ritualize your offering will confirm that you are bestowing a gift that is not only priceless, but unique in all the world."
Each chapter offers philosophies and beliefs central to the four gateways and paths and is filled with exercises, activities and prompts. There is much that is affirming and inspiring here with quotes from writers and practices from indigenous people. Jepson has invented many "sacred tools" as influenced by her decades of studying spiritual traditions all over the world.
Each pathway offers sage advice and there are numerous practices to use on your own or with your writing circle. Jepson writes "...the opportunity to write is a gift that comes with great responsibility." She honors the practice of writing and teaches that we have the task of "serving the living and non-living world around us...to give them voice."
Jill Jepson is a writer, traveler, linguistic anthropologist, and college professor with degrees in Asian studies, psychology, linguistics, and writing. She offers spiritual and transformational coaching, workshops and classes through her company, Writing the Whirlwind, LLC. Jepson lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota with her husband, John Beyer, and three cats.
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