CREATION'S HEARTBEAT: Following the Reindeer Spirit by Linda Schierse Leonard

CREATION'S HEARTBEAT: Following the Reindeer Spirit

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Another unconvincing call to women to run with wildlife--this time the reindeer. Leonard (Meeting the Madwoman, 1993, etc.), a Jungian analyst, explores the cross-cultural archetypal meanings of the reindeer. She unearths many myths among Northern peoples, particularly the Sami of Lapland and the Evens of far northeastern Siberia; some cultures see reindeer as shamanic messengers, other believe they are goddesses. She argues that the realities of these animals' lives help to explain their symbolic importance to humans; the seasonal shedding of their antlers, for instance, suggests decay and rebirth. They can also represent survival and even generativity, especially for women, since reindeer annually make their seasonal migration when females are pregnant. The way Leonard integrates myth with natural reality to explain why reindeer are important in northern cultures is often sound. However, she wants to universalize the reindeer's significance in a manner that is not always plausible. The reindeer clearly has a different meaning for New Agers living in San Francisco (Leonard's current home), than for Laplanders who depend on its meat for survival. Some of her analogies between humans and reindeer also seem a stretch, as when she writes, ""Transforming hopelessness into faith requires digging into the depths of the soul, just as the reindeer must dig deep in the snow for lichen""; after all, much of the animal world digs around for food. Leonard's contemporary pop spirituality clich‚s (""reindeer dance,"" ""wisdom,"" ""spiritual pathfinder"") may also frustrate readers whose sensibilities have not already been dulled by such stuff. Foggy logic and bland language will leave many seekers uninspired.

Pub Date: Nov. 13th, 1995
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Bantam