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Blog Book Review

Medicine of the Imagination: Dwelling in Possibility

An Impassioned Plea for Fearless Imagination

By Imelda Almqvist

Published by Moon Books, 30 October 2020

It was with great delight that I received Imelda’s latest book through the post. I’d been looking forward to this day. It was a day that should have come in a forest in Sweden, in June this year, but, alas, the world had other ideas. In August it was there, waiting for me upon returning from a morning’s swim adventures. It hadn’t fit in the post box at the end of our drive, this being a weightier tomb than Imelda’s previous offerings so our post person had put it through the door and luckily it had survived the attentions of our over-enthusiastic Spaniel – DanSpan, perhaps because he was once again wearing a cone.

Back to the book! Imelda’s books aren’t to be skipped through lightly and quickly. They take the reader on a journey of exploration of themselves and the world around them. An activity is set at the end of each chapter, giving you a wonderful excuse to treat yourself to a new journal (and for me a new coloured ink cartridge in my pen!)

Initially the title and endorsements inside took me back to childhood and often being told I had “a very vivid imagination” (which, on the whole, I’d like to think I’ve put to good use) and constantly being told to stop day dreaming, by both teachers and parents alike. In I waded with excitement and in trepidation: what will this book reveal about me, my imagination and the world around me, and how I view it and all who inhabit it?

Chapter one offers a true education in the use of words such as Shamanism, which have become so mainstream, without taking into account context, or more importantly counter-cultural appropriation. Why do we use Californian Sage here in the UK when we have our own sacred herbs growing all around us?

You can read this book, or you can be this book. There are so many nuggets of information which can transform your world and your life, if you allow your imagination to run with them. Imelda invites us to choose to use our imagination in a new way, or even to actually use it rather than following a societal, cultural or religious path, that we don’t give much thought to. This book is an invitation to explore the possibilities of our own imagination for the good of not only ourselves but all beings.

This book may well take you to some places deep outside your comfort zone, you may wish to run from them but I urge you to stop and sink into the fears that arise. This book will test your moral compass and perhaps, at times, you will find the needle flying round most alarmingly.

There are so many thought-provoking questions/statements and carefully chosen quotes.

I can’t believe how much I loved writing my own obituary!

The activities, or what may sometimes feel like serious tasks, are there for a reason. Why read the book and skip them? Some of them aren’t for the fainthearted and they will find you questioning your own thoughts and attitudes but…this book is what you make of it. Imelda lays the foundations for you to build upon. It is a book to be savoured rather than rushed. You may find yourself with a list of things to do after reading this book; things to get your life in order! Chapter 7 gave me a very long To Do list.

Reading this book, you will learn to flex your muscles of imagination, or perhaps find muscles that you never knew you had, or at least haven’t used since childhood. We often find ourselves saying, or hearing someone else saying, “I can’t begin to imagine…….” This book invites us to begin to imagine. When our moral compass is spinning and we face a moral dilemma, how often do we let our imagination run riot to all possible outcomes?

Where do we find and meet our compassion? This book gives you many tools and ideas on how to use our imagination, how to use it for yourself and the world as a whole, to create a better future, a better world for all. From dreaming to healing, knowing that by healing ourselves we send ripples out, and in effect healing others around us, those who came Before Us, After Us. Not only people but lands, all beings, remembering that all that inhabit Mother Earth, our planet from stars to stones from trees to tadpoles all are alive.

The summary list (in the final chapter) is a hefty list! We have covered some stuff in this book, it does indeed raise more questions than it answers - but is this a bad thing? No! It’s good that these questions will take you outside of your comfort zone, and invite you to face the things that we often shy away from.

This book explores excess on many levels; in my lifetime I’ve seen such a change in our landscape. Our number of beautiful Curlews (here in the UK) has declined. As I write this they are on the RSPB red list. The excess of human beings has a far-reaching effect on all other beings, often inadvertently. Too often we think just of ourselves; greed, profit, want-want-want, me-me-me. We don’t consider, or even see, the effects. Just imagine if we all listened to Imelda’s impassioned plea paired with that of the writer of the Foreword: Anita Sullivan! Just imagine if we all followed the suggestions for “Reducing Suffering”! Just imagine, even if we only follow some of them, what a wonderful world we would all live in, not just the human beings but all beings.

Yet this book also leaves a feeling of excess, of wanting even more! But the more there is within you, the more is possible in terms of how you change, the life choices you make… and the more there is you looking within you, using your imagination fearlessly! I feel on a high knowing what it can mean. The feeling is to be savoured so it can easily be remembered and revisited.

If we are to hold space for others, if we are to step into a place of healer, cradling people at their most vulnerable, we must look at our own shadow, it is imperative that we do our own shadow work and Imelda brings home this message loud and clear, in this new book.

We are back to where we began - words, language, as well as the beautiful book Lost Words by Jackie Morris and Robert MacFarlane mentioned by Imelda. Please look up Landmarks by Robert MacFarlane. I wrote a swimming blog for a year using words from it! I loved it. I’m sure my swim partner did too. New words bring excitement, exploration of language, vocabulary. I’m aware I’ve not flexed this muscle for a while and I know I use the word ‘beautiful’ way too often!

As a total aside I love the feel of this book, its text, layout, the paper which - if you’re a book sniffer like me - you’ll totally appreciate!

This book is so needed right now, during the global pandemic, timing couldn’t be more perfect, but then again of course it is – the spirits know!

If it’s not already on your wish list or in your basket on pre-order I recommend it is. I would urge you to order from your local independent bookstore, remember many small bookstores have increased their online presence this year. If that’s not possible for you it is available on Amazon, follow the links below

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