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Dwellings: A Spiritual History of the Living World

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Whether she is writing about bats, bees, procupines, or wolves, contemplating the mysteries of caves, or delving into the traditions, beliefs, and myths of Native American cultures, Linda Hogan expresses a deep reverence for the dwelling we all share--the Earth. 16 line drawings.


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Whether she is writing about bats, bees, procupines, or wolves, contemplating the mysteries of caves, or delving into the traditions, beliefs, and myths of Native American cultures, Linda Hogan expresses a deep reverence for the dwelling we all share--the Earth. 16 line drawings.

30 review for Dwellings: A Spiritual History of the Living World

  1. 5 out of 5

    Barbara

    I just finished reading this book, which is so beautifully and gracefully written. Linda Hogan's prose is indeed filled with poetic language, in which she reminds us of our connectedness to the natural world, of the natural world's connectedness to the spiritual and mythic world, and that every action, however small and insignificant to us, has the most profound effect on others. So here, not only are we humans and animals alive; the mountains, the trees, the water are also alive, and contain me I just finished reading this book, which is so beautifully and gracefully written. Linda Hogan's prose is indeed filled with poetic language, in which she reminds us of our connectedness to the natural world, of the natural world's connectedness to the spiritual and mythic world, and that every action, however small and insignificant to us, has the most profound effect on others. So here, not only are we humans and animals alive; the mountains, the trees, the water are also alive, and contain memory of everything that has ever touched it. Imagine, old as water is, what it knows. This means, then, that we should live mindfully. She tells us of her everyday actions, from performing a small ritual with sage for a dead elderly and decrepit porcupine on her street, and from which maggots emerge, rapidly developing into so many different kinds of insects, which, upon reaching the other side of the street, are quickly devoured by the ants awaiting them there. So from one death, so much life, whose deaths feed more life. Hogan telescopes (or microscopes) in and out, from these sorts of details in a finite space and time as above, to the geological time it takes for water to carve a canyon through a hill, and what layers of life burrow their way into what is now cliff face. How this cliff, this half a hill hums with the collective sound of bees nesting within it. In her "Dwellings" essay, she tells us of the fallen and abandoned bird's nest outside of her home, which is woven with old grass, sage, threads from her old skirt, her daughter's hair from an old hairbrush. How it is that the strands from her life and family become a shelter for these other lives. Throughout this collection of essays, Hogan continues to pull back, widen the view, until we are presented with the planet, which is the nest in which we have made our home, this nest resting in branch of a larger tree that is our galaxy. Still, let the above not stand as a new age-y or uncritically Utopian message of "we are all one." I especially appreciate about Hogan that she is not blameless. When she speaks of a "we" who has lost touch with indigenous ways of knowing, including knowing how to live as stewards of the life on this planet, she includes herself as a part of this modern human culture. In this way, there is a message of hope, that each and every one of us and our seemingly little deeds of saving and honoring lives, can amount to something significant. She cites all manners of other voices; artists, poets, scientists, who have in common that they have paid close attention to the physical, spiritual, or mythical world, in order to hear its voice. It's important to be mindful, Hogan is telling us, to live mindfully, to respect all life, as we are connected to them as they are to us.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Rae

    One of the best sets of essays I have ever read. Hogan uses tremendous imagery here, just like in her poetry. I especially loved the essay on bats. ...they live with the goddess of night in the lusty mouth of earth... ...bending over the stone, smelling the earth up close, we drank sky off the surface of water...

  3. 4 out of 5

    missy jean

    As far as I'm concerned, this book is perfect. "Drinking the water, I thought how earth and sky are generous with their gifts, and how good it is to receive them. Most of us are taught, somehow, about giving and accepting human gifts, but not about opening ourselves and our bodies to welcome the sun, the land, the visions of sky and dreaming, not about standing in the rain ecastatic with what is offered." As far as I'm concerned, this book is perfect. "Drinking the water, I thought how earth and sky are generous with their gifts, and how good it is to receive them. Most of us are taught, somehow, about giving and accepting human gifts, but not about opening ourselves and our bodies to welcome the sun, the land, the visions of sky and dreaming, not about standing in the rain ecastatic with what is offered."

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jan Priddy

    Some of these essays touched me, prodded me, lifted and soothed and strengthened me more than others. They are all good. "The Kill Hole" is my favorite. I shared "A Different Yield" with my students. A brief passage from a chapter about working in a raptor rehabilitation center: "The most difficult task the birds demand is that we learn to be equal to them, t feel our way into an intelligence that i different from our own. A fiend, awed at the thought of working with eagles, said, 'Imagine knowin Some of these essays touched me, prodded me, lifted and soothed and strengthened me more than others. They are all good. "The Kill Hole" is my favorite. I shared "A Different Yield" with my students. A brief passage from a chapter about working in a raptor rehabilitation center: "The most difficult task the birds demand is that we learn to be equal to them, t feel our way into an intelligence that i different from our own. A fiend, awed at the thought of working with eagles, said, 'Imagine knowing an eagle.' I answered her honestly, 'It isn't so much knowing the eagles. It's that they know us.' " These are wise rumination about knowing how our lives fit into the landscapes, the animals and plants and flowing water of our home here on earth. Oh! The last chapter of this book ends on page 159.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Monique Stevens

    Beautiful, simply beautiful! Hogan's reflections on nature are part prose, part poetry. I will be re-visiting this book again. Beautiful, simply beautiful! Hogan's reflections on nature are part prose, part poetry. I will be re-visiting this book again.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Natalie

    Quiet, beautiful, and hopeful. If I had my own copy, I would have dog-eared so many pages. Other random thoughts: -It takes a very special person (and the best kind of nature-lover) to write as beautifully and lovingly about a trail of maggots leaving a dead porcupine as of an eagle soaring through the air. -I want to read everything Linda Hogan has ever written now. -I was so excited by the story she told about Naomi Shihab Nye, because I also love Naomi Shihab Nye's work, and OF COURSE THEY ARE F Quiet, beautiful, and hopeful. If I had my own copy, I would have dog-eared so many pages. Other random thoughts: -It takes a very special person (and the best kind of nature-lover) to write as beautifully and lovingly about a trail of maggots leaving a dead porcupine as of an eagle soaring through the air. -I want to read everything Linda Hogan has ever written now. -I was so excited by the story she told about Naomi Shihab Nye, because I also love Naomi Shihab Nye's work, and OF COURSE THEY ARE FRIENDS. <3

  7. 5 out of 5

    Alison Saperstein

    I enjoyed her voice and many of her descriptions, and I think I will look at some of her other writing. But I failed to detect any narrative thread or dramatic arc within or across the essays. After about halfway through, the lack of cohesion, tension or progression made reading this book rather boring and tedious. Rather than a "spiritual history," this was an assortment of individual chapters containing observations and musings which had been previously published, later gathered hastily into t I enjoyed her voice and many of her descriptions, and I think I will look at some of her other writing. But I failed to detect any narrative thread or dramatic arc within or across the essays. After about halfway through, the lack of cohesion, tension or progression made reading this book rather boring and tedious. Rather than a "spiritual history," this was an assortment of individual chapters containing observations and musings which had been previously published, later gathered hastily into this one volume without any overarching purpose.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Becky Norman

    While I enjoyed the perspectives and quotable sentiments in this collection of essays, it lacked cohesiveness for me - both within the individual essays and as a collective. Towards the end of the book, especially, the writing appeared to be more random observations than pointing the reader to specific conclusions. Perhaps it was too subtle for me, but I would have preferred knowing what Hogan was driving at with the random ideas she shared.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Daniel

    A collection of deep and rich observations of the world around us. Having been so wrapped up in thoughts about the past, future, career, and everything stressful, this book felt like fresh balm to my spirit with its gently bringing my attention and gratitude back to earth and nature, to all of its beauty and mistery hidden in plain sight. A book I find myself going back to, which never fails to take a weight off my shoulders with its meditative and contemplative considerations.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Zainab

    I have not read such an amazing book in a while. Wow! That was how I felt the whole time I was reading this book. It spoke to my soul, to the deepest part of my heart. Actually I felt it reflects me and the way I think and feel. I’m grateful for my Professor for introducing Linda Hogan to me. I completely love this book, and I highly recommend it to anyone willing to open up to understand how we are part of this universe and are not the masters but rather equals to all living organisms.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Eric

    A thoughtful and inspiring series of essays, digging into the foundations of the relationship between humans, other living creatures and the land. It was thrilling to see a skillful writer use Native American experiences and concepts to show how we can rethink our relationship to "nature" without preaching. Show, not tell. Do, not preach. A thoughtful and inspiring series of essays, digging into the foundations of the relationship between humans, other living creatures and the land. It was thrilling to see a skillful writer use Native American experiences and concepts to show how we can rethink our relationship to "nature" without preaching. Show, not tell. Do, not preach.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Claudia

    "Our work is our altar." That line resonated so much for me, and it put the book into focus for me. The dwellings in this prose-poem are all the sacred places where humans meet others dwelling in this space. Sometimes in peace, sometimes not. Quiet, short musings with elements of memoir and insight...a reverential walk down a dusty path with a friend. "Our work is our altar." That line resonated so much for me, and it put the book into focus for me. The dwellings in this prose-poem are all the sacred places where humans meet others dwelling in this space. Sometimes in peace, sometimes not. Quiet, short musings with elements of memoir and insight...a reverential walk down a dusty path with a friend.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Rima

    I have never felt this connection with Earth. I picked it randomly and i couldn’t really understand its significance at first but as i went on, it turned out to be a beautiful ride. Worth revisiting every now and then

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jacqueline Bussie

    An utterly profound exploration of the natural and spiritual world by indigenous author Linda Hogan. The last sentence of this book is simply the Best: “You are the result of the love of thousands.“ YES.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Casey

    Beautiful. So important to view the world through this perspective. Life and death are intertwined; humans can be both the destroyers and the healers. We all need to watch, listen, and feel more. Very quick read (finished in two sittings).

  16. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

    This book is one of my go-to pieces for reconnecting to earth and nature. I read and re-read it, memorize passages, recite portions like mantras. I love this book so much.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Rune Rasmussen

    One of the most wonderful books I have ever read.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Ashley Chapman

    I will probably read this book over and over again throughout the course of my life because it is so incredibly beautiful.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jasiel79

    Beautiful, poetic, inspiring...

  20. 4 out of 5

    Trusttruce

    25 year wife of WWE wrestler Hulk Hogan.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Sabiha

    "We must wonder what value can ever be spoken from lives that are lived outside of life, without a love or respect for the land and other lives." "We must wonder what value can ever be spoken from lives that are lived outside of life, without a love or respect for the land and other lives."

  22. 5 out of 5

    Joann Calabrese

    Beautifully written!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Nella / Fionnlagh

    A beautiful and poetically written book on the importance of human connection with the earth.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Erikka Durdle

    I loved every word.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

    Enchanting! I didn’t realize the publication date until one small statement about California condors. It really stands the test of time as a dedication of love to nature!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Lorraine

    "You are the result of the love of thousands." "You are the result of the love of thousands."

  27. 4 out of 5

    Marie S.

    It's hard to review this book, but I'm just going to note that Linda Hogan really made me think differently about wolves, bats and snakes and I want to thank her for that. It's hard to review this book, but I'm just going to note that Linda Hogan really made me think differently about wolves, bats and snakes and I want to thank her for that.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Suzi Kaye

    Sounds at the Edge of Our Lives How do we communicate the importance of the relationship between people and the earth? How do we acknowledge that all things are connected and destruction of or disconnection with any one part harms all of the others? Chickasaw poet Linda Hogan ponders these questions in her work Dwellings: A Spiritual History of the Living World. But she finds a way, as she uses metaphor to make the connections where language fails. “What we are really searching for is a language t Sounds at the Edge of Our Lives How do we communicate the importance of the relationship between people and the earth? How do we acknowledge that all things are connected and destruction of or disconnection with any one part harms all of the others? Chickasaw poet Linda Hogan ponders these questions in her work Dwellings: A Spiritual History of the Living World. But she finds a way, as she uses metaphor to make the connections where language fails. “What we are really searching for is a language that heals this relationship, one that takes the side of the amazing and fragile life on our life-giving earth.” (59) Hogan paints word-pictures for us to see the gaps in our ways of thinking and living and uses stories (parables?) to help us make the connections. She tells us: “There is a still place, a gap between the worlds, spoken by the tribal knowings of thousands of years. In it are silent flyings that stand aside from human struggles and the designs of our own makings. At times, when we are silent enough, still enough, we take a step into such mystery . . .” (20) Silent flyings in a place between the worlds. Tribal knowings. Hogan may not have the words to represent these things in our concrete world, but she gives us a sense of how they function. She then asks, “How can we get there from here, I wonder, to the center of the world, to the place where the universe carries down the song of the night to our human lives?” (28) She gives us a few examples, beginning with bats, who “hear the sounds that exist at the edges of our lives.” Another example she offers is of a man preparing for an important ceremony with drum and chant. Even while traveling in a car, with others speaking around him, “He doesn’t speak. He is moving between the worlds, beginning already to step over the boundaries of what we think, in daily and ordinary terms, is real and present. He is already feeling, hearing, knowing what else is there, that which is around us daily, but too often unacknowledged, a larger life than our own.” (58) As I read description, I can clearly comprehend that sense of need to cross the threshold and step beyond the artificial boundaries we set for ourselves and our world as humans. It speaks to me of fences and walls we put up to separate ourselves from what we don’t know and/or don’t want to know, whether that is a spiritual truth or another people group. “He is going into the drum,” she says, “going into the center . . .” (58) It is such a stretch for us to go into the center, even of ourselves. But Hogan tells us that our connection with the earth is still strong. “Many of us have lost the inner substance of our lives and have forgotten to give praise and remember the sacredness of all life. But in spite of this forgetting, there is still a part of us that is deep and intimate with the world . . . Something in our human blood is still searching for it, still remembering, still listening.” (83) Certainly our blood is not searching and listening with eyes and ears, but the intensity of search is conveyed so clearly here that I find myself shivering. Not only can I mentally see the picture Hogan is creating with this metaphor, I can feel myself being passionately carried along by the sense of it. For me personally, the most meaningful metaphor is one about water. Hogan talks about a clay water jar that some friends had filled for her when she visited them in Mexico. She noted that this was a bridge between the elements (earth, fire, water, and air) and also a bridge between people in caring for one another. “That water jar was a reminder of how water and earth love each other the way they do, meeting at night, at the shore, being friends together, dissolving in each other, in the give and take that is where grace comes from.” (46) Perhaps we are still searching for the language, but in Hogan’s beautiful use of pictures in the natural world, the knowings are made clear.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Amber Foxx

    Poet and novelist Hogan, a member of the Chickasaw tribe, writes of the spirituality inherent in the natural world. Her insights into the relationships between living creatures and our own souls is anchored in places and in specific experiences—with hot springs in a cave, or at work at a bird sanctuary. She doesn’t write about animals in general or earth in general, but this piece of earth, this particular sunflower, this colony of mud-building bees. When she cites other writers, often scientist Poet and novelist Hogan, a member of the Chickasaw tribe, writes of the spirituality inherent in the natural world. Her insights into the relationships between living creatures and our own souls is anchored in places and in specific experiences—with hot springs in a cave, or at work at a bird sanctuary. She doesn’t write about animals in general or earth in general, but this piece of earth, this particular sunflower, this colony of mud-building bees. When she cites other writers, often scientists, she finds passages so beautiful they flow into her own essays like the breath of the same breeze. Her topics range from wolves, to the Amazon rainforest, to the life cycle of water and rock, to the deeper meaning of ape language experiments, and more. These essays wake the reader up to the aliveness of every moment, as the author hears the song of corn, or discovers the liquid, graceful, wing-wrapped mating of two bats she rescued from their fall back into hibernation in a sudden spring chill. “I put them in a warm corner outside, nestled safe in dry leaves and straw. I looked at them several times a day. Their fur, in the springtime, was misted with dewy rain. They mated for three days in the moldering leaves and fertile earth, moving together … then apart, like reflections on a mirror, a four-chambered black heart beating inside the closed tissue of wings.” In addition to this subtle observation of their beauty, she sees the bats from a Native spiritual perspective. ‘The bat people are said to live in the first circle of holiness. Thus, they are intermediaries between our world and the next. Hearing the chants of all life around them, they are listeners who pass on the language and songs of many things to human beings who need wisdom, healing and guidance in our lives, we who forget where we stand in the world.” This forgetting where we stand is Hogan’s’ theme. We need to heal ourselves back into what she refers to in her novel Power as “the real human beings. If you love language, you will love this book, and you may come away from it loving every living creature, every crack in a rock, every sound when the wind blows, as if you had never seen and heard and known them before. I have read this book before, and re-reading it brought me the same sense of wonder and discovery as the first time, like going to a sacred and special place in nature that I can never tire of.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Bonnie Randall

    Dwellings is a deep piece of wisdom literature I’ll return to again and again for its reflections will widen and shift the lens upon every new life stage and major transition I experience. Hogan conveys a reverent appreciation for the Earth and all the Earth has given birth to, has nourished, and has reclaimed. Her prose illustrates, with great beauty, the deep, spiritual tie all living creatures have with the Earth, and what results is a reading experience that is both meditative and emotive. D Dwellings is a deep piece of wisdom literature I’ll return to again and again for its reflections will widen and shift the lens upon every new life stage and major transition I experience. Hogan conveys a reverent appreciation for the Earth and all the Earth has given birth to, has nourished, and has reclaimed. Her prose illustrates, with great beauty, the deep, spiritual tie all living creatures have with the Earth, and what results is a reading experience that is both meditative and emotive. Dwellings made me pause, think, reflect, and consider things from a much bigger, and certainly more ancient, perspective than I have before. There are countlessly breathtaking passages throughout this small tome, but one I found the most moving was this: At times, when we are silent enough, still enough, we take a step into such mystery, the place of spirit, and mystery, we must remember, by its very nature, does not wish to be known.….

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