Creating Our New Book “The Enchanted Healer”
Every moment that I wasn’t working on Plant Healer Magazine projects or the HerbFolk Gathering in the last two years, I have been giving to the creation of our next book, “The Enchanted Healer.” The second in what will be our trilogy for Healers of very kind, this will be our first full color book, and the first to bring light to subjects of plant spirit, shamanism, awareness, the senses, and awakeness and enchantment in our work and lives. For those of you who enjoy feeling like a part of our efforts, here below are some journal entries about the production process. They are numbered rather than dated, but roughly appear in chronological order.
Entry #1: Inspiration For A New Book
As important as clinical research is to a healing practice, just as important is the child-like curiosity, entrancement and obsession that leads to fruitful investigation and new ways of perceiving and practicing. The faculties that can make us better Healers are the same senses and sensibilities that make it possible for us to truly, deeply enjoy our studies and work. Reason and emotional, spiritual and “magical” ways of perceiving are not mutually exclusive, and in fact, ultrasensory engagement, heightened awareness, shamanic therapies, and an open mind are all crucial to a powerful practice… and enchantment is often a necessary ingredient to remaining in love with and satisfied by our work and missions. Hence what will be our next book, “The Enchanted Healer.” Much to do, to pass on the necessary information and tools, and to cast the equally necessary spell of awakeness and delight.
Entry #2: Who This Book is For
“The Enchanted Healer” is written with our core audience in mind, our community of wild-hearted folk herbalists, wildcrafters, alternative therapists and natural Healers… but also many other kinds of Healers doing their best to contribute to the wholeness of our bodies, families, neighborhoods, societies, and ecosystems. This includes people giving helpful holistic counsel, doing body work, making natural medicines and body care products, cultivating endangered medicinal herbs and other species, creating visionary paintings and films, teaching healthful values and tools to either children or adults, opposing environmental destruction or injurious s, practitioners of with the aim of increasing not only a healer’s effectiveness but also their enjoyment of every aspect of a life of ultra-awareness, deep connection, inspirited and heartful service.
Entry #3: New Book Chapters Selected!
The final choice of chapters for our new book “The Enchanted Healer” have been selected! There will be 25 chapter topics and a bunch of sidebars and Kiva essays, that I am anxious for a chance to announce. Included will be the following, and more:
• The Portal: Opening To The Magic & Wonder
• The Healer: Seeker, Seer, Shaman, Nurturer & Culture-Shifter
• Seekers & Teachers
• Deepening Awakeness
• Lessons of The Hummingbird: Agent of Awakeness, Bringer of Life
• Practicing UltraPresence
• The Work & The Reward: Self Exploration & Self Worth
• The Feeler: Healing, Emotion & The Senses
• Planet Eros: Connection, Wholeness & Bliss Through Enlivened Sexuality
• Body Mind Balance
• Growing & Exercising All Levels of Awareness
• Prophecy & Destiny
• The Healing Arts & The Aesthetic of Healing
• Sacred Indulgence: Nurturing & Tending Ourselves
• The Enchantment of Cooking
• Satisfaction & Hungering
• Inner Sanctums: Creating a Sanctuary Conducive To Our Enchantment
• Imaginariums & Cabinets of Wonder
• The Enchanted Drum: Healing Reconnection Through Rhythm
• Walking The Edge: High Water & Ecstatic Living
• The Totemic Journey: Finding & Learning From Our Plant & Animal Guides
• Places of Power
• The Healing Quest
• The Song of Gaia: Epiphany of a Living Earth
• The Enchantment
Entry #4: Kiva Rose Contributions
Hardly a week goes by that we don’t get emails asking when my partner Kiva Rose is going to bring out a book of her works. She still plans on an exhaustive collection of her personable herb profiles, though delayed because of her having so many “irons in the fire.” I was, however, able to encourage her writing 10 amazing pieces that reflect her spirit, interests and passions more than any before – strongly and sensually evocative, folkloric with mythic sensibilities and intent, celebrating what is most enthralling about the healing arts and being an herbalist. As fascinating as her personal story and style, their most powerful contribution to “The Enchanted Healer” is the way they provoke the reader’s own exploration and embrace of their true selves, of the mysterium, and of contemporary Healer roles. So far we’re sure this book will include these Kiva’s pieces:
• Creating New Healing Traditions
• Reinhabiting – 3 Steps To Here
• The World In a Flower
• A Ballad of Brambles (Plant Folklore)
• Enchanted Medicine Making
• Flowers From Stones
• My Spiraling Return
• Talking With Plants
• Enchanted Medicine Making
• Where My Skin Ends & Flowers Begin
Entry #5: Involving Other Writers
My original idea was to include sections from other writers in “The Enchanted Healer,” much as I did with the previous release, “The Plant Healer’s Path.” But several of the people whose wisdom I especially value turned out to be predisposed. We were sad that Paul Bergner and David Hoffman, due to family and professional responsibilities, did not have the time to provide contributions like they did for the last book, and Phyllis Light needed to turn attention to nurturing and healing herself after an accident that blessedly slowed her down are helped refocus her priorities. It is just as well we didn’t have more pieces to try to include, however, since the illustrations are taking up so much space. And there are still substantial wise quotes by Paul, amongst the hundred or so other author/teachers whose remarks I’ve managed to include among the chapters.
Entry #6: Design & Color
With the order of the chapters for “The Enchanted Healer” decided on, and with nearly all the chapters written, I need to think about illustrations. A big factor is whether to go with color or black and white interior, since picture selection hinges on it. Many extraordinary photos require color for contrast as the tones are near the same, and if it is to be B&W like “The Plant Healer’s Path”, then I need to select for contrast ahead of time. I’m getting more and more attached to the idea of color content, I confess, though we can expect it to cost a lot more. Why? Because this book is meant to literally enchant and not only inform but enchant, visuals are at least as important as words for that purpose, and there is nothing as effective in that regard as incredible, lush, vibrant hues. The many fairytale-like images are evocative and transportive when dressed up in color, supporting the book’s central theme of revealing the enchantments of the healing arts, the magical in nature, and the wondrous in the everyday.
Entry #7: Course Materials Included
We’ve decided to add about 15 pages of helpful self-exploration questions and practices/exercises, mostly taken from the “Senses” and “Awareness” sections of the Anima online courses. With the courses temporarily suspended and available to only a few exceptions, here is my chance to share some of the core material that we’ve seen help our students so very much.
Entry #8: Book Appearance & Flavor
This book just keeps getting bigger, and it is now going to be impossible to keep much below 300 pages in length! To take maximum advantage of the big 8.5×11” color format, I built full page color images in Photoshop that fill all the way to the edges of the paper, with special framing, the text often appearing atop beautiful botanical image “bleeds”, contrasting color fonts, collages and design elements. Kiva and I spend hours picking out what we consider to be the most perfect possible illustrations for each chapter section or page, selected from among tens of thousands of images. Every photo and painting then requires editing and sizing, before being inserted into the design. Making these full page composites is taking many, many times longer to arrange and lay out than the quarterly Plant Healer Magazine issues, even though roughly the same length. Even though it is my own hands manipulating the trackpad, I fees as surprised and excited as any child to see each page take shape out of the mist – on this MacBook “screen of infinite possibilities.” I can only hope that our readers will find it as exciting to turn to each page, and as hard to leave each page behind… that it they will come away not only thinking new thoughts but with a feeling. Elation. Inspiration. Exhilaration. I started to write “I can only hope,” but I can do so much for than that. I can give this book my very best.
Entry #9: Book Design
I chose Times New Roman font as the most legible for the main text, and Cretino for the main titles. The complex Cretino family has the feel of old folkloric letter styles while evoking an edgy contemporary feel, hopefully conveying that folk healing and enchantment are as vital today as they ever were in our historic past. Illustrations include classic paintings, amazing plant portraits, Left out of “The Enchanted Healer” are the sometimes campy or tongue-in-cheek images that I enjoy having in the magazine, and I’ve instead gone only for the art and photos that may contribute to the enrapturing of its readers.
Entry #10: The Decision To Print in Color
Today Kiva researched the cost of printing an initial run of a few hundred copies of “The Enchanted Healer” books, for nearly 300 pages of color, on high grade coated paper with a soft cover… turns out it requires as much money as a new luxury car, and more than I spent on materials to build the cabin that we wrote it in! Scariest, of course, is that we have to pay it all up front, emptying our business account with no certainty of how many copies will sell or how quickly the investment will be recouped. Recouping the expense will be slower regardless, since printing costs are so high we feel we can’t mark the price up very much above what we pay for them. As crucial as is is that we meet our expenses, making an income has never been as important to us as affecting, affirming, inspiring, and stirring as many good people as we possibly can… and an all-color, highly visual book just might help with that!
Entry #11: The Book is Done!
Okay, wow, it is finally finished! “The Enchanted Healer” is now completely illustrated and laid out, after many 16 hour days of hard work on it…. all except for the Introduction which I still need to write, a Foreword (possibly by our esteemed friend Matthew Wood), the finalized table of contents with page numbers, and the graphic covers of course. I can’t seem to stop myself from repeatedly scrolling through the thumbnails of the finished pages, first looking for any little glitches in need of fixing, then just enjoying the way the color themes and striking forms transition from one chapter to the next. I so hope it helps to bring increased delight, wonderment, and indeed enchantment… to our loving Healer readers.
Entry #12: April Book Release
With another issue of Plant Healer Magazine to put together soon, I am pressing hard to first get “The Enchanted Healer” completely ready for the printers, probably in the next few weeks. The plan is to begin accepting pre-orders sometime between now and March, with the first copies being shipped out in March or April (yes, 2014). We’re so very excited!
Entry #13: Help Reaching Beyond The Choir
This is the first book I’ve written in awhile that has the potential to be appreciated and utilized by folks outside of the herbalism and natural healing fields. With “Healer” defined more broadly, there are many people involved in self exploration, the heightening of awareness, spiritual seeking of any kind, ceremony and ritual, teaching and counseling, shamanic studies and cultural -co-creation who would surely benefit from the information and inspiration that we intend “The Enchanted Healer” to provide. Kiva and I will be depending on our devoted core community to help announce and network this book to other audiences, online and otherwise. We will likely ask folks soon for suggestions in this regard, as well as requesting assistance in getting this message of empowerment and enchantment out “beyond the choir.”
Entry #14: Feedback
Before printing a book, I always send my manuscripts out to a few folks whose feedback helps improve the end product. I value the response whether positive or not, I often put to use any suggestions, and I especially need to know when and how I might ever offend some group. My aim is to stretch readers to seeing things beyond and outside of their assumptions, but I need folks to hear me and consider what is said and I can’t have them closing their ears to what might help them the most. The first feedback to come in is from the herbalist, Plant Healer writer, and care-giver Virginia Adi. Besides her other helpful observations she wrote that: “I actually feel as though it was written just for me and I am pretty sure most of your other readers will have the same reaction, feeling ourselves indeed to be seers, nurturers, artists and visionaries….Wonderfully readable. There are some excellent observations and quotable remarks that I have read so far and I will give you more feedback when I finish it – I do not want to forget to remark on the little stuff as I go too. Some favorite lines from “The Enchanted Healer” include:
• ‘Healing who and what needs healing-not just bodies and not just people’
• ‘We can be neither right nor particularly effective if our powers of seeing are limited by the fears of what we might find, or if the truth of something is distorted or obscured by our assumptions, our expectations, or our projecting onto something what we want to see.’
• ‘We need to feel enchanted again…’
Entry #15: Enchantment Book Cover
Alright, the front cover for “The Enchanted Healer” is done. I had so many ideas for what to put on the cover that is was difficult narrowing it down to a single image. My first temptation was to draw something for it, but for this book trilogy I’ve opted to work with photographs and photoshop instead. Since this book begins and ends with allusions to portals – openings to enrapturement and wonder in the everyday world – I felt strongly that their needed to be a picture of a natural opening in a forest or in the cliffs. Perfect for this purpose seemed to be a view looking out to the light from inside a special, magical feeling cave. Given the title, Kiva agreed it also needed a human figure worked into it, and it needed to be a figure that is clearly turning to face the opening before stepping out into an amazing world of limitless possibility. Now that the cover is ready for people to see, I can post some of these entries about the book creation process, and share with us our growing excitement.
I hope this handful of entries give some insight into the creative process here at Plant Healer, and afford a sense of the love and devotion that goes into each publication. We pour into them not only our hearts and knowledge but also the hours of our finite existence, making “The Enchanted Healer” not just a gift of enchantment but a gift of our very lives.
If you have a well read blog or newsletter, or are able to post on a popular online group or site, you may be interested in writing an advance book review. If so, send us details along with your request at: PlantHealer(at)PlantHealer(dot)org
–Jesse Wolf Hardin
(Thank you for re-posting and sharing)