Blood Feathers and Holy Men, a story of 10th century America, is a dramatic, richly detailed adventure story by former Coast resident Ben Nuttall-Smith who launched his new novel (published by Libros Libertad) at the Sunshine Coast Arts Centre earlier this month.
The book describes the amazing journey of Irish monks kidnapped by Norse slave traders who then sail westward. Their Viking ship is blown off course and they land in the Americas where some of the monks, traders and an Irish slave girl live with the peaceful First Light nation.
The pious Father Finten is not unhappy with this chance to convert those he deems to be heathen, but Rordan, his young proselyte, goes native and later becomes a shaman for the people who live with the buffalo. Rordan is tormented by dark visions of a future crisis in a far off locale. Both Finten and Rordan are embarked on spiritual quests in their own ways, and both will suffer violence and forms of insanity. Eventually they are both drawn to the area around Chichen Itza, now the Yucatan, where they will find their fate among the Toltec warriors.
Nuttall-Smith, who now lives in Crescent Beach, was a brother in a Catholic teaching order for 22 years, evident in his intimate knowledge of the monks’ aspirations. But this novel grew out of an accident. He broke his leg on a visit to Oaxaca, Mexico, and spent six weeks of enforced idleness in the marketplace reading stories of the feathered god Quetzalcoatl and of Mexican history.
The author did intensive research to determine how the indigenous people of North American tribes lived and worshipped in the tenth century, prior to the Spanish invaders. Some were peaceful healers; others were brutal and war-like. An interesting feature of this book is the suggestion that the deity Quetzalcoatl was said to be fair skinned and bearded and that he directed his people to turn away from bloody human sacrifice. Could he have been a Celtic monk? Thereby hangs the story.
You can order the book for $23 from your local bookstore or read about it on the author’s website: www.BenNuttall-Smith.ca.
Elizabeth Blakely of Pender Harbour is also known by the pen name of Agnes Toews-Andrews. Blakely has spent much of her life in a spiritual quest. Powerful events form the basis of her writings in her latest book, The Goddess Lives, a collection of poetry, prose and prayers in her honour, written lovingly by someone who wants to serve humanity with enlightenment and inspiration.
Blakely’s writing career didn’t start with such lofty goals. In fact, it began with a humble vegetable. Her first book, The Incredible Potato — a Cookbook and History, was self-published in 1985 and became a best seller. Blakely promoted it in supermarkets, and its appeal continues today.
Blakely’s travels took her through the Middle East, the ancient sites of England and to spiritual centres in America. She lived in Israel for a time and became a master of reiki, a healing modality. Her life in Israel is to be found in Garbage and Flowers: My Year’s Sojourn in the Holy Land.
For those new to the concept of goddess worship, her latest book may mean jumping in at the deep end, spiritually speaking. If interested in the concepts that Blakely presents, see her 2004 book, Awake! A Spiritual Primer (not to be confused with the Jehovah Witness publication). It describes Blakely’s own awakening and is full of prophecy, insight, humour, diet advice, tips on correct manners when meeting extraterrestrials, contacting one’s spirit guides, fairies, elves and other friendly non-corporeal helpers. There’s a section on crop circles, UFOs and life changing experiences at various sacred sites. If that sounds a bit strange, be assured that Blakely doesn’t worry about it.
“I am a very balanced person,” she said. “Taste and see, I always say, be open and willing to receive.”
During her research, Blakely found that the Goddess had been deleted from history when patriarchal religions replaced it with earth-based spirituality. This erased the divine feminine and honouring of women and, in her opinion, created much war and chaos.
Blakely feels that there is still a need to empower women on earth and that the material presented in The Goddess Lives honours women as birthers, hearth-keepers, lovers of the sensual, warriors, environmentalists, spiritual teachers, artists, community healers and peacekeepers.
The Goddess Lives has a gorgeous cover photo by Coast photographer Tella Sametz and can be found at Woods Showcase, Gibsons; Talewind Books, Sechelt; Shanti Gifts, Wilson Creek and Bluewaters Books in Madeira Park for $16.95.