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Reviews published in The Neworld Review:

The Voice across the Veil
Book by Sue Scudder
Review by Barbara Snow

Books that give us insight into our lives become friends we revisit. The Voice Across the Veil, by Sue Scudder, is such a book. Increasingly, quantum physicists document the holographic and multi-dimensional nature of our world while literature on verifiable, near-death experiences corroborates  those concepts with personal anecdotes.  This book offers us expanded possibilities in our own lives.

Sue Scudder nearly died when her body had an allergic reaction to general anesthesia. In clear and detailed language she describes her experiences, and more importantly, the effect on her life:

…the experience awakened an insatiable curiosity about the other side of life and all things mystical.

Yet it was 19 years before the call came to begin the assignment given, a memory blocked until then.

 You are to help others crossing from one side to another, just as you are experiencing.

 Souls would be drawn to her through her music and vibration. A gifted pianist, Scudder must work through intense discomfort to share her music. Also she must write a book triggered by a heart-breaking tragedy.

Human partners were given her, three other women with related gifts who “showed up” to do the work. Scudder’s description of releasing souls locked in this dimension to transcend to Source is clear and humble. One group had been her beloved community in a prior life. As Scudder describes how this past life was revealed, you may be reminded of similar situations in your own life. This riveting segment shows the reason for her remembering:  to free souls from that life still trapped by trauma.

The second part of Scudder’s story began with the tragedy that broke the heart of an entire mountain community and resounded across the country. Scudder comments:

…I realized the reason for my memory loss. Had I know nineteen years ago that, as a result of painful tragedies, I would be assisting and communication with ‘dead’ people, what would the last nineteen years of my life been like? Looking around every corner – what is the tragedy and who might it affect? Writing a book? I am not a writer! I would surely have lost my mind. It was a good and righteous thing to have had my memory erased for a time.

Prepared by her prior work, Scudder knew how to help. Her vivid account may comfort you and encourage your own process of growth and service. The messages from the other side are clear:

Think hard about your choices, as they make huge differences in the long run. As we become more connected with each other in a spiritual way, our loving thoughts alone will begin to make a shift in the consciousness of the world. We can heal the earth just by our loving thoughts and intentions. As we change our perceptions, we will consciously change the way we live…

The courageous young spirit who continues to help from the other side insists, “Love, love, love, it cannot be said enough.” Scudder’s honest questioning of her helpers on the other side produced insightful responses to philosophical and practical questions. The information in this book can serve your own spiritual evolution. The validations that help us all include (1) awareness of the multidimensional nature of reality, (2) the love and support available at all times by simply asking, and (3) the eternal nature of our own individual essence. Sue Scudder’s book, The Voice Across the Veil, consists of true stories showing what fully integrated spirituality looks like. You will be informed, uplifted and inspired.


Singing to the Plants
A Guide to Mestizo Shamanism in the Upper Amazon

By Stephan V. Beyer

Review by Barbara Snow

“Ayahuasca is a plant which has the effect that when you drink it, it allows you to see what otherwise is invisible, and it attracts the spirits. It is not that the ayahuasca takes one to another world, otherwise unreachable; it just opens one’s eyes to what is normally hidden. There is only one world, which is shared by all beings, humans, spirits, and animals.” ~ Anthropologist Marie Perruchon, married to a Shuar husband and an initiated uwishin. [i]

The territory occupied by the shaman is suffering, hope, failure, envy, spite and malice. [ii]

Human consciousness is no less complex in the Amazon than it is in New York city. In Singing to the Plants, Dr. Stephan Beyers undertakes a thorough and clear-eyed investigation into the nature of the ailments of all humans and the ways in which we experience healing. Healthy skepticism concedes to sometimes extraordinary results. This book presents a scholarly, balanced view of a potent form of indigenous spirituality and its place within modern times.

“Singing to the plants” refers to the icaros, songs a shaman sings in ceremony that are hymns to the spirits of these plants whose use expands human awareness. Work with the hallucinogenic plant ayahuasca, which contains naturally occurring DMT, is an integral aspect of South American shamanism. Present day investigators cannot account for the breadth of knowledge shamans have on the healing properties of plants, knowledge achieved through ceremonial ingestion of ayahuasca and a carefully cultivated relationship with the spirits of plants. This is not unique to the Amazon. Indigenous people on every continent employ hallucinogens to expand consciousness. Beyer speaks to the use of peyote in Native (North) American churches and many extensive efforts to legitimize these substances the US government has declared dangerous, Schedule 1 drugs.

Beyer writes with the humble respect of an apprentice as he chronicles his intimate relationship with two respected shamans. His is neither a romanticized journey into inexplicable magic nor an expose of pretenders preying upon the ignorant. Nor does Beyer try to downplay the wide-spread use of sorcery as a political equalizer. His rigor as an academic validates his commitment as he submits to the initiations essential to acquire shamanic power. Beyer also presents the ubiquitous struggle within people and communities for position, power and comfort and the layers of acculturation from various forms of colonization that continue even now.

Over the past two decades, indigenous young people have tended to discount what is familiar, embrace the glamour of encroaching cultures, and seek comfort and pleasure rather than discipline. At the same time affluent foreign seekers, disillusioned with standard forms of spirituality or drawn by curiosity or a hope for authenticity, have sought indigenous shamanic work. Some seek a magic pill to heal their wounds and make them happy without their needing to reflect or change. Although ayahuasco purging doesn’t feel magical and its visions generally initiate a longer process of transformation, this spiritual technology has generated an ever-increasing flood of spiritual tourists traveling south to feel the energy of sacred sites and sit in ceremony with shamans.

The widely touted prophecy of the eagle and the condor seems to support the phenomenon. The prophecy holds that when the eagle (representing either the human mind or the technological mindset of North Americans) and the condor (representing the heart or the nature-based awareness of indigenous peoples) fly together in the skies, earth will begin to heal. Admittedly, shamanic tradition changes as it adapts to the people it serves, but the effectiveness of the work endears it to those outside its normal confines. Beyer the researcher presents his explorations of the shamanic world in concrete, grounded terms, avoiding mystical, magical language, but all spiritual “work” must engage human consciousness. Whatever your means of spiritual expression, Singing to the Plants can help you evaluate the relationship between mystery and rationalism. After that, it’s up to you.

[i] Pg 37, Singing to the Plants

[ii] Pg 45, Singing to the Plants


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