Bobby Lake-Thom,
Call of the Great Spirit:
The Shamanic Life & Teachings
of Medicine Grizzly Bear

(Bear & Co., 2001)

Call of the Great Spirit is one of the best Native American books on the market. The author has packed so much information into this book that it seems like a combination of several books: a collection of Native American stories, a personal memoir of a shamanic journey, a healing manual, a compilation of shamanic case studies and a suspense novel. Whatever your reading tastes, there is something here for you.

Bobby Lake-Thom begins his story with his attempt at suicide when the pain and effects on his life from advanced arthritis became unbearable. He carries us through a spellbinding tale of intrigue, action and suspense as he sought a Native American medicine man and underwent a healing ceremony. I almost jumped out of my seat when the bear broke down the front door and came charging through! It took this near-death experience for him to realize that the Great Spirit had called him many years before.

The next section introduces us to the shamans that have worked with Bobby during his years in training. He tells the stories and legends about them in a way that will enthrall any reader. Then comes my favorite part: "Learning How to Deal with Demons, Ghosts and Sorcery." This was the best section of the entire book, though there was definitely never a lull in this book anywhere. It is followed by a discussion of how Western medicine and religion have changed native healing. There are 20 case studies and a final chapter on living a spiritual life. Appendix 1 is the "Shamanic System of Knowledge and Cosmology" and Appendix 2 tells "The Story of Grizzly Bear and Mt. Shasta."

Throughout this book you will experience Bobby's emotions, confusion and bewilderment as he searches for answers and ends up with more questions. You will journey alongside him in his shamanic quests, laugh with him, cry with him and even panic with him. You will love the characters, especially wise-cracking, psychic Gina. You might even discover your own spiritual quest. It is marvelous for pleasure reading or to learn about the Native American shamanic path. It is filled with native traditions and culture.

Bobby Lake-Thom, who has served as the professor of Native American Studies at Humboldt State University, has a gift for storytelling. His adventure flows smoothly with clarity and vivid descriptions. He is extremely picturesque in his writing. His explanations are stated simply and are easy to comprehend. He can reduce the most complex issue to casual conversation. He can also leave you with a thought-provoking cliffhanger, as is proven with his "after-story comment."

- Rambles
written by Alicia Karen Elkins
published 24 May 2003

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