Welcome to Steeped In Books, a place for book promotions of all kinds: reviews, give-aways, author interviews and a quiet rest station on your blog hop. I'm glad you stopped by for a visit. The tea is ready,...or maybe you would prefer coffee. Whatever your preference, enjoy a cup of refreshment while you browse what is offered here for your enjoyment.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Review of Dr. Niamh Clune's Orange Petals in a Storm

Hmm…Now I know where the name Orangeberry comes from.  Oh, I’m not going to tell youYou’ll have to hop over to Smashwords, Amazon, Amazon Print Copy or Amazon UK and order this marvelous read for yourself. Suffice it to say that Orangeberries are quite magical and when processed just right, help give the delightful Skyla McFee her extraordinary gifts to impact an old plague on humanity  - bullying.

And it takes magic to get Skyla out of the terrible conundrum she finds herself in, living with a cruel narcissistic stepfather who is after her deceased mother’s fortune, the “Gram” from hell who is the brains behind Skyla’s abuse, and two nasty step-sisters even Cinderella would have found a tad too much to bear.

Yes, it’s an old theme at its base – one that seems to be prevalent in many European faery tales and novels: the wicked step-parent, the malevolent step-siblings, the orphaned child abused after the decease of its almost sainted parent and, of course, the huge fortune at stake.  The popularity of such a set-up speaks volumes about the culture that produced it.  But that cultural discussion has already been covered very well in several of the interviews Dr. Niamh Clune has given on the Orangeberry Book Tour.  (See the links below if you missed any of those interviews).

What’s new here?  This time the ancient theme is used as a base metal setting for a multifaceted gem of a story.  Skyla’s escape from her torturers doesn’t come with going to the attic and talking to the birds who whip her up a ball gown to meet her rich prince.  Enough with that old tale – modern women know what that 
prince-in-shining-armor stuff is all about.  Cinderella probably ended up bullied again by her new in-laws. (Oh, shades of Dianna)  Skyla moves us instead into a brilliant world of fantastic imagery, where a new path to resolution of a very old problem is concocted in the crucibles of magical incantation.  You’ll enjoy this delightfully imaginative journey into possibilities for a better world right here on the earthly walk.  It’s a faery tale with a modern outcome.

You’re likely to come away with a new sense of hope for our weary species.  Could we ever stop the chain of domination and bullying that is literally destroying our world?  And has the answer been awaiting us inside all along?  This mystical read will have you asking questions – and that’s always the sign of a good book.

As one of the new authors on the Orangeberry Book Tour, I’m just hoping the Orangeberries will work their magic as well for us and our budding careers.  Thank you, Dr. Niamh Clune, for a wonderful story and your spirit of paying forward that has been contagious on this tour. 
Now, please join me in welcoming Dr. Niamh Clune, who stopped by for a little visit.

I'm happy to be here with you and your readers today, Georgia 

You are a Ph.D.  Could you tell us, please, what your field of specialty is?

My Ph.D is in Acquiring Wisdom through the Imagination. It is a creative synthesis of Philosophy, The Ancient Wisdom teachings and Jungian Psychology. I wanted to show how Psyche functions at much deeper levels than had been previously shown. 
Carl Jung 1875-1961

Jung spoke of archetypes, but he usually described only mythic ones, those underlying cultural patterns and themes such as Mother, Trickster, Fool, and Hero etc. In my work with hundreds of people over many years of practice, I discovered a core level of psychic functioning that is inherent, that is in itself of noumenal reality. By noumenal, I mean transcendent, or spiritual.

Immanuel Kant 1724-1804
According to philosophers such as Kant, noumenal reality cannot be known, not even that it exists.  I wanted to show that though science cannot test measure or verify noumenal reality; at least, it can attempt an understanding. I used doctoral research to show how those deepest undercurrents and psychic themes break through into people’s personal lives and stories. Some find themselves living out a myth. By myth, I do not mean falsehood. I mean a mythological, transcendent journey that is extra-ordinary.

Some also have deeply mystical experiences that are encounters with what can only be described as being in the ‘presence’ of the numinous. We are modern-day prophets and mystics that live beyond the limits of doctrine or religion. We experience the Divinity within - the light that guides and informs us and speaks of archetypal ideas, or the underlying patterns of creation itself. We are visionaries, ‘seeing’ into that ‘otherworldly’ beauty. There is, of course, a price to pay, which I won’t go into now.

My Ph.D was a huge undertaking. It was groundbreaking in terms of research into spirituality and mysticism. I might publish it in a simplified form one day for the philosophers among us.

I certainly hope you will publish your research in a simplified form.  I’m sure many would like to read that.  What inspired you to study that subject to the Ph.D level?

In my younger days, I was a gifted healer. I made it my business to make a study of the Ancient Wisdom teachings including a study of Sanskrit terminology and importance of root derivations of Words. I became disillusioned with the so-called New Age, (which is where I became pigeonholed because of my ‘gifts.’) This was never a comfortable fit. I was a round peg in a square hole. I railed at how the ancient teachings and the exquisite philosophy upon which they were based was being commercialized, made palatable, divorced from its root and re-packaged into sexy little ‘spiritual’ clichés.  Those wanting to sell angels and all manner of superficial, misunderstood, spiritual teachings dished them up, the fluffier the better, at a time when the world was searching for, and in need of Truth, Meaning and Change.

I divorced myself from all it stood for. I gave up my work as a healer and teacher, as I found that those beginning their healing journeys came already re-conditioned. Most were spiritual workshop junkies, buying yet more straws cast to the drowning; sold yet more un-thought-through, flimsy belief systems. They were unwilling to undergo initiation into the ancient mysteries contained within the trans-personal psyche. Undoing someone else’s conditioning is like taking candy from a baby. No one can undo the conditioning of another – or magic up an authentic experience on demand. The skilled can guide, and know what waits to be discovered - know the true from the false. Jung declared that a therapist could only take someone as far as s/he had gone. However, most would not want to sojourn in the underworld, learn its secrets and find their way out again. It really is an initiation – dying to be reborn into the life of spirit – the inner crucifixion.  Each must discover the truth of their being for themselves.

I didn’t think it my place to strip away conditioning to reveal what is essential and authentic in another. I can guide them to it; I can facilitate wonderful experiences, but I can’t make a person pay heed. The New Age became littered with therapists and spiritual teachers vying to hold sway over the psyches of others. I met so many wanna-be healers that were seriously screwed up - driven by a deep-down sense of personal inadequacy. They needed power. Their egos were fragmented, disintegrated, and instead of ‘owning’ or confronting such shadow stuff, they covered it over with transcendental elegance promoting a kind of psychic congestion that was positively dangerous. 

 So many vulnerable people were being misled by glamorous gurus and new hierarchical dogmas based only on assumption. It seemed just as bad as the old religions to me, and just as fallacious. Anyone could claim ANYTHING! I gave up my teaching practice and hid my ability. The world has always treated true mystics and prophets the same way…You cannot sell spirituality, or teach it to another. The truly enlightened do not need to speak of it. They have discovered the purity of Self, which might never be tarnished, polluted or corrupted by anything life casts up. In them, the awakened heart is alive to the suffering of the planet whilst not shrinking from the knowledge of shadow. That is why, I decided to write simple stories about a child who is pure in heart in a modern faery-tale format. It is magic realism…harshness is interlaced with beauty, ordinariness with the supernatural – the existence of which, is never questioned. My heroine shines her light on the world and makes it a better place.

Thank you for helping to separate the real mysticism from the for- profit snake oil variety  What do you see as the highest purpose of mysticism today?

Just to participate in the beauty of the day, to exalt the beauty in each other and demonstrate humility and generosity of spirit. Those who manage that, even for a split second of the day, are in touch with the Divinity within. They are souls incarnate. And goodness knows, the world needs soul.

I don’t think anyone is going to argue with that assessment.

Thank you, Dr. Clune, for giving our readers the benefit of your accumulated knowledge and wisdom.

My pleasure, Georgia

Dr. Clune has been popular with the featuring bloggers during this tour.  Below are links to some great interviews and reviews, if you missed any of them. 

November 6, 2011  Paying it Forward – Guest Post by Niamh Clune

November 8, 2011  Interview with Niamh Clune

November 9, 2011  A Poem  “Waiting”

November 10, 2011 

November      Review of Orange Petals in the Storm

November 12, 2011  Interview with Niamh Clune

November 13, 2011 Meet and Greet with Niamh Clune

November 17, 2011  Featured at Jeff Horton’s Blog

November 18, 2011  Review of Orange Petals in the Storm

November 22, 2011  Paddy’s Green Shamrock Shore – Guest Post by Niamh Clune

November 24, 2-011  Interview with Niamh Clune