Seven Guideposts on the Spiritual Path
The Shamanic Story in Genesis
by Matthew Wood
It makes no sense if you take it literally; it is nothing to do with persons called Rebecca, or Esau, or Jacob. It is all within you that this drama is unfolding.
–––– Neville Goddard
A Reading of Jacob and Esau(1959)
What could shamanism and the old story of Adam and Eve have in common? Everything, as it turns out. The sagas in the book of Genesis date back three thousand and more years, drawing on a time when oral history not only preserved stories of ancestors and the origins of the world but reflected the universal primal spiritual tradition of ancient times––raw experience, rather than theologically combed over second hand experience of later writing. The universal themes and spiritual technology of shamanism are all here: the coming-to-consciousness of the animal self (Abraham and the ram), the Castaneda-like wrestling with the spirit being (Jacob and the “angel”), the wisdom of Nature (Melchizedek), spiritual obedience and spiritual freedom (Ishmael and Isaac), warriorship (Tamar) and dreaming true (Joseph). There is no virtue in “believing” in these stories; they are to be experienced—“it is all within you.”
These stories are “hidden in plain sight,” not behind monotheistic glosses, but in wordplays designed to be unraveled by intuitive association, or recognition of similar events in one’s own life, not by rational deduction. The method of thinking in ancient and indigenous people is different from our own: understanding this method is itself transformative. Seven Guideposts turns up layers of meaning in the words of the ancient storytellers. Understanding the knowledge, so familiar but so forgotten, touches upon another world. And yes, there are seven guideposts on the spiritual path, the seven rungs on the “shaman’s ladder”––“Jacob’s ladder.”
Readers of Matthew Wood’s first book Seven Herbs, Plants as Teachers (1987), will find the same themes introduced in that book developed in greater depth, drawing on thirty years of experience and expansion of spiritual vocabulary.
Review by Sandra Ingerman, MA
Teacher and Author on Modern Shamanism
"Matthew Wood asks us to embrace the understanding that the book of Genesis is actually a precise guide to shamanic development. The connections he has made between the book of Genesis and the ancient teachings of shamanism are woven together in a truly brilliant and surprising way. He clearly creates a roadmap leading readers into the deep mysteries showing the universality of the practice of shamanism.
I was so engaged while reading this book and so appreciated the groundedness in Matthew’s writing as I could clearly follow the road he leads us on to a deeper understanding of the magic, the challenges, and the tasks faced for all of us traveling a shamanic path.
Seven Guideposts on the Spiritual Path: The Shamanic Story in Genesis is a revelatory book that holds a deep wealth of spiritual teachings to carry you deeper into your own spiritual path for years to come.
I really love this book and the passion that Matthew imbues in his writing. This is an important book for the times we live in."
Sandra Ingerman, MA, author of 12 books including Soul Retrieval and walking in Light: The Everyday Empowerment of Shamanic Life
Discussion and Q&A with Matthew Wood