I found a document from 2007 that thanked my students for the years of teaching them and their children. Here it is.

Dear friends and students, 

I have been reflecting on the adventure of teaching at Carleton University over the past 37 years, particularly as I retire very soon.  It has been a great privilege and blessing to enjoy your presence at Carleton and in my classes.  The wonderful support from gifted cameramen and technicians helped create two classic television courses, which have become a legacy for future generations of students.  They may be shown long after I disappear into the magnificence.  It is time, however, to move on, as for some students from 37 years ago I have had the pleasure of teaching your children, but regret that I will not be around for the similar pleasure of teaching your grandchildren!

 Retirement will be busy, as I am the Co-ordinator for Friends for Peace – – though a better job description may be that of chief janitor and fixer.  As the resident Zen teacher of a Buddhist community in Ottawa, I guide it as an eco-community so that we learn to leave a very small footprint on mother earth as we bring everyday mindfulness to full flower.  My retirement has also prompted a few invitations to be a Dharma Teacher in Residence at a number of locations.  The one that really appeals is Florida during the winter months.  My latest work – Failsafe: Saving The Earth From Ourselves – is being made into a documentary film.  Thank goodness for Al Gore’s Oscar for An Inconvenient Truth, as it opens the door for similar projects.  A film studio in Florida, which have made award winning documentary films, is working on the Faifsafe project.  It does appear that I will not have the same opportunity to be so lazy as when I was a full time professor.

 I have greatly enjoyed your fresh young minds and the inspiration you provide.  My last year of teaching has been a joy, the culmination of 37 years of doing just what comes naturally and actually being paid for it.  I wish for you similar joy and fulfillment in your path throughout life. Thank you so much.

 A deep bow of gratitude to all of you,

 Ian Prattis

Professor of Anthropology and Religion

Carleton University, Ottawa.

Testimonial – FOUR PHASES: Lost, Impermanence, Bittersweet, Caring

Professor Koozma J. Tarasoff

A book of 91-pages that raises the fundamental issues of peace, climate change, Coronavirus pandemic, respect for nature, and the survival of our species deserves public attention. Ian Prattis, retired anthropology professor in Canada’s capital Ottawa, Guru in India,  Zen teacher, Founder of Friends of Peace, and award winning author attempts just that. He does it by combining nonfiction with poetry (an innovation in itself), shows us how to set a moral example to our children, uses metaphors of kindness to make good things happen spontaneously, and gives us the tools of dealing with stress and burnout. All this was done by a mature man who once befriended a wolf as a pet, met with female shamans, and went to India for two years of training with wisdom people. With a gentle smile, he invites us to walk carefully as we breathe in and out in search of peace, healing and mental health. On our part, we need to visualize a better state of being by connecting reality to the magic state of mind and the silence within. This path is courageous, but requires us to pay attention to our surrounding ecology. In search of peace, for example, we need to get to know the stranger if we are to survive on our beautiful planet. Bravo, Ian, you have given us hope in a troubled world. For the purist at heart, Ian offers the following: ‘Activism without mindfulness practice can lead to disillusionment. Also spirituality without an engaged expression is equally unbalanced.’

Writing Books

WRITING BOOKS and INTERVIEWS                                                          Dr. Ian Prattis


Interview by Suha Mardelli for Ottawa Independent Writers

“Award winning author Dr. Ian Prattis has just released his 18th book – Past, Present, Future: Stories that Haunt. Ian is a Professor Emeritus at Carleton University and an Ambassador for Peace. Through his numerous public talks and retreats around the world, Ian encourages people to find their true nature, so that humanity and the world may be renewed. Ian’s book is a collection of short stories and poems published by Manor House. Ian, thank you so much with being here with us tonight.”

“Thank you Suha, I appreciate it.”

 “Your new book has already received wonderful reviews. What can you tell us about it?”

“With the revenues from this 2021 book – Past, Present, Future; Stories that Haunt – I created the Dr. Ian Prattis Scholarship for Indigenous, Black and Racialized Students, at Carleton University, Ottawa. Value $2,000.  It will be awarded annually to outstanding Indigenous, Black or Racialized students. I was a professor there from 1970 – 2007 and present the scholarship to graduates who are outstanding, diligent and intelligent.

I wrote this book Past, Present, Future: Stories that Haunt, because I had to. My responsibility of holding the pen was a mere posture to place words in a sequence that would resonate in the reader’s mind. I had a sense of reciprocity about what I felt was necessary to heal the world from climate emergency and pandemic. The chapters play their part throughout as a sort of call and response meter that leans on kinship and community rather than corporate greed. The chapters become as seeds in the mind of the reader, so my work cannot be buried or lost. There is a strong emphasis on Indigenous Wisdom that pulls chapters together while displaying how easy it is to fall into destruction.

This collection contains stories, personal essays and futuristic writings. They illuminate facets of humanity that are both wholesome and deadly. There is a subtle tapestry from Indigenous Wisdom throughout the three phases that must apply to our damaged planet if homo-sapiens is to have a home. The Past dwells on the significance of indigenous history and beliefs, a spirituality that crosses centuries to realize redemption and connection. These stories stand in contrast to the ethnocentric illusions of the wider society where violence, fear and betrayal are rampant. Present includes flash fictions to highlight the destructive illusions and the gentle memories of modern society. The remaining chapters seek to mentor and inspire children to save the world. “Respecting Indigenous Wisdom” provides a pause through poetry to outline a different foundation for humanity. Future is not kind to homo-sapiens and their habitation on Mother Earth. Scientists scramble to provide an exit from the Earth, seeding far away planets. A single person remains in the High Arctic’s last outpost while pioneers who occupy a new planet must fight to prevent terrorists from taking it over. Very little has changed.

Past, Present, Future: Stories that Haunt published in 2021 is drawing exciting testimonials. Taste these views:”

Bob Allen, Founder and CEO of IDEAS has this to say:

“These tales operate at three levels. First, the characters are all of “US.” Their stories are the One Human Story of struggling to live in this world. Dig deeper, and you’ll find the rich metaphor pointing toward truths about the way our species has evolved and why our permanent dominance of the Earth is a fiction that will not stand up to any real scrutiny. At their root, Dr. Ian Prattis has pointed out that “reality” is not action-over-time but it is connectedness. These stories take their place with other great cultural myths as a shaman’s call to the central village fire asking us to listen, engage and imagine.”

Krystina McGuire-Eggins, Therapist says:

“Ian Prattis’ new book, Past, Present and Future: Stories that Haunt is a brilliant collection of stories, writings and essays in fiction and non-fiction. The book leads the reader through thought provoking perspectives about the treatment and respect Western society has thus far shown toward Mother Earth. Dr. Prattis presents the current state of our Earth through a lens that is alarming and sobering at moments. In his true fashion, he offers hope by educating the reader on how Indigenous wisdom has been passed down for generations to provide a pathway that the human race can choose to embrace for a better future. This is an excellent read, very appropriate for our current times.”

Gayle Crosmaz – White Raven, Spiritual Activator

“I was deeply struck by the poem-chapter Respecting Indigenous Wisdom. It transports one to the river of life, the river of our spirit. The descriptive words capture the imagination as you feel the forest and the rivers rhythm. They remind me of a Wampum Belt teaching. In the section where Ian talks about “The Last Man on the Planet” – Failsafe is the word that jumps off the page, as I feel we are currently in that stage by the way of nature itself. These are two stand-out chapters in a brilliant array of other chapters.”

Claudiu Murgan, Author

“The Spirituality of the indigenous cultures is something that recently, I took a great interest in. It’s a facet of humanity that slowly disappears, trampled by the modern mind, too busy with the tangible reality of the surrounding world. Dr. Ian Prattis’s “Past, Present, Future” tells us to cherish such treasures otherwise we are only empty shells without the meaning and the connection to the spiritual world.”

Tammy Ruggles for Readers’ Favorite.

“Past, Present, Future: Stories That Haunt by the award-winning and influential Ian Prattis is one of the best books on the environment and future survival that I’ve ever read. When he says he wrote this book because he had to, you believe him. He feels a deep responsibility to connect with readers and help them understand the urgency of his message. Climate emergency will become as real as the word “pandemic” has become. He hopes his ideas will be rooted within the reader and stay. You’ll note that Indigenous Wisdom streams throughout the text, and this elevates this book higher than an environmental cause. I like many things about this book. It breathes. It has life. It has energy. And this is partly due to the presentation of the content in essays, stories, poems, opinions, etc. The narrative is lyrical and well-written, and this book puts a human, literary, aesthetic face on the future, not just covering it in environmental, scientific, political, or economic jargon. I also like the spiritual aspect of the writing and his attention to nature, love, and beauty. The author points out that one way to reverse the course is to reconnect with the spiritual side of life, the planet, and our resources. Past, Present, Future: Stories That Haunt by Ian Prattis will leave an imprint on your psyche that could change the way you think about the environment.”

Germaine De Peralta, Journalist, Reiki Master

“Dr. Ian Prattis’ new book, PAST, PRESENT, FUTURE is a testament to the sacred interconnectedness and interdependence of humankind and our community, nature, the elements and the animal kingdom. It is these relationships that enable us to survive, thrive, heal and grow. Yet there is an underlying message that these very relationships can become fragile and worn, if we become complacent and fail to nourish and tend to them. Portrayed against a rich backdrop of nature and the seasons, Ian Prattis’ stories explore themes of purity and darkness, cruelty and compassion, revenge and forgiveness and finally acceptance. One will delight in the authenticity, depth, and sincerity of his characters.”

  • REDEMPTION – Lost Manuscript and a Movie 1975

The greatest gift one can receive is that of finding one’s true nature. The human spirit is resilient and can triumph over tragedy and psychological dependence. Learning to find our inner strength can conquer mental illness, alcoholism and depression. It is one factor in the complex reality of modern day suffering. It took me a while to come to these realizations and the avenue was through a book I wrote some 40 years ago. This novel – Redemption – is in fact an allegory for depression and life difficulties that I once experienced, though I did not realize it at the time. The themes are writ large in this book – a turbulent Hero’s Journey to emancipation. The novel illuminates startling cycles of maturing and downfall experienced by the book’s main character – Callum Mor – a gifted child, master mariner, derelict drunk, who finally gains wisdom from a hard life’s journey.

Redemption was a “lost” manuscript, first written in 1975, forgotten until spring 2011. The narrative was vivified and refined with hindsight forty years later. It reads like an extended prose poem reflecting the primal forces of nature and of human nature.  Callum Mor takes the reader on a deep Hero’s Journey. This novel moves from the rhapsody of Callum Mor’s idyllic childhood through tragedies to the derelict zone of his alcoholic drowning out of pain and suffering. It opens with his childhood in the Hebrides. He draws wonderful mentors to him; his schoolteacher, who lights the spark of a bard in him, animal friends such as an otter, a brutal fisherman who shields his darkness from the boy as he matures. Callum Mor thrives despite the poverty of his home in an island nurturing with gentle humor and adventure. 

He becomes the best fisherman in the region before grave misunderstandings tear his love, Catriona, away from him. This displaces his gifts as he drives himself and his crew to the very limits of endurance. Callum Mor’s sensitivities and mind snap, as he enters the dark zone of alcoholism and withdraws from society. With only his animals keeping him this side of sanity he survives in a bleak solitude.  Until a family with a small girl seeking refuge from a storm come to his house. Slowly he edges away from his self-destruction. He saves the girl’s life in a winter blizzard. The glimmer of awakening dawns in him while sheltering in a cave with the child warmly ensconced in a gutted carcass of a sheep he killed to keep her from freezing. He sees his life pass in front of his eyes and this sets the stage for the final drama that illuminates the resilience of the human spirit.

Redemption is my fourteenth book and first novel, though actually the first book I ever wrote.  In 1975 I was unable to get it published.  I found this “lost” manuscript in an old filing cabinet, read it through and could scarce believe it.  I requested a couple of friends with critical eyes to read it through, just in case I was dreaming. Modern technology enabled the yellowing typed manuscript to be transformed into a computer ready document. My friends thought it was incredible; one could not put it down and mused about the film to be made; the other friend cried through most of it. All of which encouraged me to bring Redemption to life. I was tempted to leave this gem from 1975 in its pristine state, but realized that my insights some forty years later could enhance the narrative and flesh out “Callum Mor” into a character of epic proportions.  Redemption caught the interest of an American film maker. A screenplay script was duly commissioned but the exec-producer died from cancer and so the movie is on the shelf at present.

The story is an allegory for the life difficulties I experienced at that time – 40 years ago. The surprise for me was how could I have written such a book while in a miserable state of mind? I was not in a good place physically or mentally – with a failing marriage in the Hebrides and trying to keep a career going at Carleton University in Canada. I was not doing a good job with either. Publishing this book in 2014 was an imperative for me, as a necessary part of my own life-journey.

Lucille Hildesheim, International Harp Artiste had this to say:

“What marks a great work of art is that it touches the heart and soul. Redemption touched mine very deeply. It is so vividly descriptive of both scenery and people, drawing you into the life of Callum Mor, making you cry for him, cheer for him, and wishing you could continue on his journey with him. It is a book to be read over and over again, from which to take away life lessons and inspiration for our own personal journey. This is a book to share with those who touch your life.”

  • TRAILING SKY SIX FEATHERS 2014. Sacred Stalker – Awakening In Our Times

When I speak to an audience about Trailing Sky Six Feathers: One Man’s Journey With His Muse the first question is usually “Why did you write this?” Here is my reply:

“Global citizens are staring into the abyss, yet instead of being eaten up by it all, I say to them: “Awaken Spiritually,” for that transforms everything. We have made our world an unpredictable beast because we fail to work with it intelligently. Rumi’s wise words are cogent: “Sit down and be quiet. You are drunk and this is the edge of the roof.” We have to take back control of ourselves and this is a spiritual matter. Turning on the switch of awakening seems to be a good idea. We just need to touch the sacred in ordinary experiences of life to find the courage and determination to transform.”

Trailing Sky Six Feathers delivers a vigorous message about personal transformation in order to become different stewards of the earth and society. Extensive shamanic training is highlighted, as it was the instrument to overcome my childhood abuse. The journey of remembering childhood wounds and past lives will draw in people searching for interior solutions. I show in Trailing Sky Six Feathers that we can transform the damage and limitations of the past and step onto a path of enlightenment for all who suffer from road blocks in the mind. People around the world are overwhelmed by distraction, fear, suffering and violence – all of which keeps them frozen in a state of inaction – deeply wounded and unable to make changes within themselves and for the planet. The inner journey that occupies this book demonstrates that we do not have to be caught by our suffering, fear and maladaptive responses to climate change and violence.

My life as a global traveller stretched my attention beyond any limits I could have placed on it. From teenage volunteering in Borneo with Britain’s Peace Corps to being a Yogi in India and a Zen teacher in Canada – expansion of mind was inescapable. My challenging journey navigates shamanic healing of childhood abuse, guru training as well as a near death experience in an ashram in India. From this vast range of experience I found an ability to sculpt narrative in a novel way. I certainly stumbled through the first part of life, but then stood strong in my own sovereignty in the latter part. In India, Arizona, France and Canada’s wilderness, I went to extraordinary lengths to transform karma. Over a period of thirty years, extraordinary medicine people enhanced my process of remembering. I learned how to reconfigure my understanding of time, place and consciousness. I chose to listen to the feminine voice of Earth Wisdom rather than to the multitude of competing voices in my deep unconscious.

In Trailing Sky Six Feathers readers may be inspired as they watch my intention and strength of purpose to transcend patterns carried since childhood. Past life memories collide head on with the present, all thanks to the Muse who refused to give up on me. Karma is reversed; the internal battles are over as I begin to live life as a Meditation for Gaia. The relentless shadowing by this engaging Muse brings understanding not only to me, but to anyone engaged in overcoming the darkness of their past.

This book caps my long-term fascination with consciousness. As a Professor of Anthropology and Religion I taught courses on Ecology, Symbols, Engaged Buddhism and Meditation Systems. I am a healer, mentor and educator, able to encourage people to find their true nature so that humanity and the world may be renewed. I am a Zen teacher, also a recognized guru in India. My initial task is to refine my own consciousness, so that I can be an authentic vehicle to chart a path for spiritual friends. Trailing Sky Six Feathers is a screenplay-worthy epic that weaves together seamlessly to create inspiration for a wide range of fellow spiritual seekers, environmentalists, generation X, feminists, students and academics alike.

Blue Ink Review has this to say;

“Though this fantastic tale leaves room for wonder, readers will be swept up in this saga of self-examination, revelation and indeed, exhilarating global adventure. Prattis writes with erudition, charm and humor, ridiculing his own blunders as much as he praises his teachers.Prattis presents a unique viewpoint hewn from hard won exploration of traditional wisdom, offering all of us the overarching advice to “awaken spiritually” so that we may create a stable economy and way of life on Mother Earth.”


Science and rationality can serve a changed consciousness, but they cannot create the structure and organizations needed for a new world order. They can only produce the same old formulas, fight the same old wars, now with newer and more destructive technologies. Changing the collective human consciousness is the key. Once consciousness changes to a foundation of clarity and compassion, then structure and organization will quickly be redefined, as intelligent responses to our social and environmental crises emerge from a different foundation of understanding. “Can we fix the planet?” I ask. “This is the wrong question. Our present values and patterns of consumption are the architects of the present global emergency. The right question is “Can we fix ourselves?” Failsafe describes how human ignorance will rule until the global situation deteriorates to a breaking point. This breaking point will then act as a catalyst, activating consciousness so it is propelled into expansion, deliberation and change. The book shows that we have the capacity to make positive changes: that there is hope for future generations to occupy a healthy planet and faith in the human consciousness to save a niche on the planet.

Dr. David Suzuki provided a Foreword:

“…..If we no longer perceive the planet as our sacred home, then we will continue to degrade the biosphere. In Failsafe, Ian Prattis offers a way to a perceptual transformation that is absolutely critical if we are to find a truly sustainable future.”

Peter Cutler, writer and artist, Boston USA.

“It’s brilliant, so thoroughly researched, eloquently written and, most of all, so needed. It’s a wonderful book. Frightening to read while observing the band aids and half measures being proposed in the US.”  

Several years ago at the beginning of spring after a severe winter in Canada, I participated in a sweat lodge ceremony with respected elders from the Ojibway, Dene and Mohawk First Nations. We made deeply personal and collective commitments to serve the Earth. At the end of the final round of the ceremony we emerged into the pristine beauty of a late snowfall under a clear star studded sky. There had been a two-inch snowfall during the ceremony. As we walked barefoot to where we were camping I turned round and saw our footprints in the snow. It seemed as though these were the first footprints on the new earth.  I gestured to my companions to stop and look. They silently shared the same insight with soft smiles. In that instant the stillness and silence renewed our commitments to serve the earth with all our hearts and minds. Failsafe was born from that moment at the end of winter in 2006. I was giving a talk about this experience to an audience in Vancouver. I suddenly found myself talking about two previous books that I had written and the next three books that were ready to dance in the sunlight. I realized that Failsafe was the fulcrum or midpoint between two trilogies. They had been writing me although I did not know it. There was a life work that was in fact writing me!

Failsafe is by no means finished. There are bright minds to take it further, find loopholes in it and re-fashion it. All this I gladly welcome. I look forward to the dialogue as it helps us move on. My hope is that you enjoy the book and share it with friends.

  • OUR WORLD IS BURNING: My Views on Mindful Engagement 2017

Our World is Burning examines our fragile future and offers an alternative way of living based on Mindful Engagement in sixteen essays. I offer examples of how to respond to the most serious social, economic, environmental and personal challenges of the Twenty–First century. I advocate mindfulness practice to cultivate awareness as an ethical framework to guide actions, to create steadiness and equanimity, and to replenish body, mind and spirit. This book offers a lightning bolt that will singe incredulity and cynicism.

Laurence Overmire, Author of “The One Idea That Saves The World”

Our World is Burning is an inspiring and informative read …we are living in challenging and perilous times. Ian Prattis offers us valuable insight, wisdom and perspective in finding our way to a healthier world, one based on compassion and commitment, mindful of how everything we do impacts the whole.”

Melissa Studdard, Author and Poet

“Amidst the fear, greed, and pain of our burning world, there is a cool garden where you can recover hope for posterity and cultivate your best life. Ian Prattis’ words are one of the surest pathways to that garden. Both analytically rigorous and fearlessly honest, this book is a must read for anyone asking, “What can I do?”

Jacqueline Schoemaker Holmes, PhD

“Dr. Ian Prattis is a visionary and leader in the world of engaged Buddhism. This book reads like an invitation. Ian provides what we need in troubled times – clear guidance, practical steps to take, and a warm and open hand in a world that so many fear is becoming too cold and distant. Ian’s writing gifts us with the impossibly perfect teachings of interconnection and heart opening. In this book, Ian makes an excellent contribution to existing commentary on world change and inspires action through the wisdom of his engaging story-telling.”

Jim Ebaugh, Founder of Water in the Wave Community

“Dr. Prattis has been a voice, a teacher, a passionate advocate for the earth and all her species for decades and long before the word eco-dharma entered our vocabulary. His books transcend time and space. Ian Prattis was at the forefront of awakening to the threat that climate change posed to our home and our mother – the Earth. Ian’s books are a creative, imaginative read as we struggle to find a new paradigm for our culture – away from rampant, unfettered consumerism and global corporate oligarchies demanding ever increasing short term profits at the expense of earth and all her species. Prattis leads the way in this collection of essays.”

Peggy Lehmann, Author and Medium

“Ian’s essays on mindful engagement are an overview of a lifetime’s work that started with a younger version of himself and a goal of saving the world. Through his books Redemption, Trailing Sky Six Feathers, and New Planet, New World readers saw glimpses of the man and his message both evolving and growing to new levels of spiritual understanding. At a time on earth when hope is badly needed, Ian’s essays have universal appeal, assuring us that a better world is possible and that each of us must contribute to its creation.”

Professor Michael B. MacDonald

“I was introduced to Ian Prattis and his work when he was founding Friends for Peace. I was deeply engaged in a personal struggle to articulate a way of living that was committed to anti-oppression, anti-war, and anti-inequality. Ian helped me understand that fighting against injustices needs to be built around the cultivation of new ways of being, being together, and being on the planet. I began to learn about the importance of consciousness in the struggle to want less, want peace, love. Ian’s vision is complex and important. His ideas are rich and rewarding if you take the time to sit thoughtfully with them. Ian is committed to changing the world, and unlike those who may wait for a new world to come, Ian has developed practices to bring a new world into being. I hope this book is read widely, and ideally, in community.”


The Foreword by Jana Begovic provides the opening to my book of poetry:

“This collection of poems features six thematically distinct parts displaying a full spectrum of human emotions, and capturing in verse the shared aspects of our experience…..His poetry aims directly for the heart speaking to the reader in clear and loud words, sometimes screaming the truth; it is incisive, devoid of redundant imagery and heavy-handed symbolism that might obscure the truth, both the poetic and human one….. With the multi-layered quality of the poems, Prattis takes the reader through the immensities of joy and pain, through the infinite and the mysterious. He dissects the dissonance of the modern world with the scalpel of his poetic musings, and describes the interflow between the human soul and the spirit of earth, paving his quest for spiritual evolution and higher meaning.

Prattis’ poetry is a poetic narrative of our basest attributes as a species, our greed and propensity toward a savage violence, as well as our ability to love beyond the telling power of words. His verses awaken the sense of the infinite within us surging our hearts with the power of their message. They restore the possibility of the ancient dialogue between humans and nature, and most of all they restore a sense of optimism.”

A Five Star Review from Kathryn Bennet brings this thread home. She wrote:

“I read this book three times before settling in to write this review. Each time I felt that I uncovered another layer with the collection of poems that I had missed the last time through. To me there is something truly magical about a work that can do that…….The poems strike right at the heart of the journey the author himself has taken in life, and yet it also has an ability to resound with others. The title Painting with Words is truly a perfect description of this poetry collection; you can see the images come to life before your eyes as you read….This collection of poems takes the reader through the full gamut of human emotions. The author has masterfully used his own life experience to transport the reader through this journey, while striving to leave a mark directly on the reader’s heart.”

The significance of poetry made a major presence for me in 1985. In the 1980’s there was quite a battle within Anthropology – and you can bet that I was in this fight!

Professor Ivan Brady: Anthropological Poetics

“It fits into an intellectual niche whose actual dimensions are not easily known ….. developing a comparative perspective that leaves options open for describing experience….. The American Anthropology Association published Ian Prattis’s collection in 1985 as “Reflections: The Anthropological Muse.” In his volume the idea was to place anthropology through poetry…There is no shortage of heart or brains in any part of “Reflections” … and certainly no more resonant portrayal of the personal marrow of anthropological experience has ever been published.”

Professor Dell Hymes

“Prattis hopes that the writing of poetry will become a part of reconstruction of anthropological methodology ….. It involves a greater risk – that of being judged in terms of the craft of poetry as well as the craft of anthropology… Such concerns have always been present, but never so near the centre of the anthropological stage…. This work of anthropologists will lead to the recognition and development of poetic forms found most adequate to the union of two crafts – ethnographic and poetic…..Dan Rose, William Carlos Williams and many others cite the bold stance taken by Prattis – a new dimension of anthropology ….”

Professor Ian Prattis

Reflections: The Anthropological Muse is the flowering of a seed first planted in Professor Tony Leed’s kitchen in Boston (1980) when he recited poetry about Portugal and I drank his scotch, listening within to possibilities. It carried through strongly enough for me to cultivate further poetry books in 2018 and for the spring of 2022. Their titles:


2022 – FOUR POETIC PHASES: Ignored, Impermanence, Bittersweet, Caring.”


This book review by Susan C. Morris says more than I can!

“Yet there is always a glimpse, a possibility of stepping through the darkness and touching a warm knowing light that spurs us on.”

“Educator, prolific writer, spiritualist, and environmentalist, Prattis delivers an SOS to the world to save the earth and its inhabitants from destruction. The work draws upon written accounts from scientists, philosophers, social activists and spiritual thinkers, including the wisdom of First Nation communities, all who make a convincing case for the need to take immediate action to rescue the planet. His futuristic scenarios are a wake-up call to honor the Paris Climate Agreement and the horrific physical, environmental and social consequences that civilizations will face should the earth fall further into demise. Prattis elucidates the dangers of corporate carbon emissions and their contributions to the destabilization of the earth. He emphasizes that the continuous search for wealth accumulation has come at the sacrifice of the planet. His compelling personal narratives take readers to the Canadian wilderness, the Hebrides in Scotland, and to an Ashram in India, where he writes of his near-death experience.

Throughout the book, the author reaches beyond the scientific to the spiritual, emphasizing humankind’s oneness with the earth. Most notable is his example of the environmental activist Greta Thunberg and the global Children’s Movement, which recommends such alternative, earth-friendly ways as “not having children, living car-free, and taking trains instead of planes.” In particular, the author’s experience with White Eagle woman, his shaman mentor, is an exceptional narrative on how her wisdom helped him to heal sexual abuse during his childhood. Prattis’s volume is an opus on the healing of humanity’s inner soul, together with the healing of the earth, so that both can live harmoniously.”


It happens – that moment when unexpectedly one’s writing receives glowing confirmation. Luckily I have had a taste of that. At a writer’s retreat, the facilitator who had read my book Redemptionspoke that it was not so much a read but as if she were listening to music. The cadence of the writing struck her forcibly. I often describe Redemption as an extended prose poem but liked her musical note much more! Then a phone call that Trailing Sky Six Feathers had received the Quill Award from Focus on Women Magazine, an advocacy group for women’s issues worldwide. I was delighted that the first award for this book came from a women’s group. Other awards include Gold for Redemption at the 2015 Florida Book Festival, Silver for Environment from the 2014 Living Now Literary Awards for Failsafe: Saving the Earth from Ourselves. The 2019 Gold from the eLit Excellence Awards went to Our World is Burning. My book Shattered Earth also received their 2020 Gold Medal. Past, Present, Future: Stories that Haunt got the 2021 Silver Medal Winner from the eLit Excellence Awards. I had also received the 2011 Ottawa Earth Day Environment Award and in 2018 the Yellow Lotus award from the Vesak Project for spiritual guidance and teaching dharma.

When reviewers hit the mark it is a big “wow” when they seem to read one’s mind. Julia Ann Charpentier in her review must have been sitting right next to me! She describes Redemption,

“An admirable command of language brings to every scene a striking visual clarity… The novel falls into the realm of timeless storytelling… This eye-opening book will be a memorable experience for anyone who enjoys reading about primordial tendencies. Beneath a polished urban facade remains a part of human nature that few want to acknowledge, either due to fear or simply because it is easier to deny the basic instincts that have kept us alive on an unforgiving earth.”

Anita Rizvi, Therapist said;

Redemption” is a riveting novel chronicling one man’s journey through the stages of innocence, darkness, destruction and transformation…..Individuals are suffering all over the world from the chaos that life brings, be it violence, abuse of power, cheating, torture or the destruction that comes with war. What is so exquisite about this novel is the tenderness and honesty which the author deals with the human condition. Callum Mor draws us in as he demonstrates an intuitive understanding and respect for nature. When Callum Mor’s journey moves him even closer to the abyss, the author refuses to “sanitize” his experiences….The story pulls you in….. It is beautifully written, exploring the human condition in its entirety, even the darkest elements. The author does this with grace, elegance, compassion, and without judgement.”

A wonderful cap to all this musing was recent when I went to send some books through the Post Office. The young woman at the counter had posted many packages of books I had sent to competitions and I always gave a copy to her to read. She gave me a big hug and told me that my book – Trailing Sky Six Feathers– had changed her life. This is really why I write.

I told her that the final bookend of that trilogy takes characters from the book she has read and places them on a new planet in the immediate future. I gave her those two other books. My expeditions to the post office are a highlight for me these days.

You can find my work at

The Future of War by Ian Prattis

The Future of War

 “I want to talk to you about our children and the kind of future we create for them. Do we teach them peace? Or through neglect do we allow violence to flood their minds, hearts and consciousness so they learn war? Even worse, do they live out our own personal wars expressed through our violent attitudes, speech and actions towards them? Are we creating intergenerational violence and trauma? I ask every adult, particularly men, to deal with their internal wars so that only the best is passed on to our children, not the worst in terms of violence. How do we deal with our internal wars, hatreds and fears? 

We must stop running; stop hiding behind our addictions and busyness. We come to a stop, look deeply into the eyes of our children and make a commitment to face our internal demons and transform them by stepping onto the path of compassion. Not by transmitting our wars and internal afflictions to the children of the world. We need community to support us in sacred ceremony, love for ecology, meditation and creative spirituality. We raise our consciousness by retraining our minds, through refining our speech, attitudes and actions. We show our children the way to peace by learning to be peace. The present level of hate and violence globally has increased dramatically. Excessive violence has been used to damage our planet and populations. This is not the way to proceed. There is no “them” and “us.” We either learn to live peacefully together or we all suffer and die together.

All violence is injustice and we have to teach our children the truth about war. Not about winners and losers, but about the long term suffering on both sides. It is only citizens of the world standing together for peace and saying “No to War; No to Destructive Climate” that will stop it. But the hatred grows and the suffering increases. What can we do as individuals to change this? We go to work on ourselves. First of all we must uproot the violence and war within our minds. To prevent war we nurture non-violence. We practice meditation and prayer for our planet in daily life to transform the poisons within our minds and within our nation.  

We enter into true peace negotiations by learning the methods of deep listening, of respectful and non-violent communication; by understanding and bringing our mindless, selfish agendas to a stop. We create peace by knowing that compassion is the antidote to violence and hatred. We must also make peace with Mother Earth. If we injure Mother Earth with deadly poisons, we injure ourselves. Our civilization has caused such deep harm to the earth that we humans may soon become an endangered species.

The solution is not political or economic, these are secondary. The primary solution rests on an understanding of robust ecosystems. Every faith and spiritual tradition must renew its ethics and responsibilities and honour the interconnected nature of humanity with Mother Earth. We must make it clear to our political and corporate leaders that the violence they commit in our name is no longer acceptable. We must hold them to account and influence them with our clarity, wisdom and courage. The actions we take now are shaping the possibilities for future generations.

Many years ago, (2008), I published Failsafe: Saving the Earth from Ourselves. I wrote about homo sapiens as perhaps a failed genetic experiment. I delivered the content of this book to students at Ottawa’s Carleton University in a television course I created on “Ecology and Culture.” Halfway through the course I looked out at the young, eager students and offered an apology – that my generation had not left a healthy planet for them. Much later in 2019, I participated in the climate strikes on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. I recalled my apology when surrounded by thousands of magnificent children. It was quite emotional for me to hear them shouting out for politicians to get behind the science. I was in admiration of their strike, yet sad that earth matters had not changed for the better. I noticed that I was not the only grandparent who cried a bit.

            However, a brilliant pushback to climate denial had been made by Polly Higgins, a fellow Scot. She was a barrister and created a world-wide campaign to criminalize ecocide; the name given to describe the destruction of ecosystems by the carbon cabal and their political lackeys. The legal instrument of ecocide has been promoted by President Macron of France and the European Union. Polly Higgins’ idea has garnered worldwide momentum to hold corporate executives and governments liable for the damage they do to ecosystems and humanity. The legal work demanded specific legal changes to protect the earth for future generations of all species. Unfortunately, Polly Higgins died from cancer on Easter Day, April 21, 2019. Her strong belief was that such a law would change the world. Her work continues with a vast legal team in many countries. Her everlasting quip will never be forgotten:

“I have a choice to protect our Earth, or let it be destroyed.”

These are the stakes we all face. International jurist and human rights expert, Valerie Cabanes, has this to say,

“The current climate and ecological disruptions are fuelling injustice and geopolitical tensions while those ransacking the planet go unpunished. It is therefore urgent to demand new forms of responsibility and solidarity, by recognizing a fifth international crime, the “crime of ecocide.”  

Did anyone notice that degradation of the Earth’s ecology was the catalyst for radical Climate Change? Food crops were destroyed by horrendous heat waves as carbon dioxide and methane poured into the atmosphere. Did no one realize that food riots and world panic trace back to one cause – the economic agenda of corporations? The undercover deal between governments and multi-nationals was invested in political and economic structures that centered on the carbon combustion complex. This collective agenda destabilized world order and endangered the world’s populations. Billionaire backers protected their profits, downplayed scientific conclusions, and deliberately dulled the intelligence of the general public. They paid selected scientists to promote the position that the existing evidence on climate change does not support crisis warnings. This is a bought and sold lie! Everyone knew the lack of truth – the US government, corporations, and industrialists – all knew the truth. To keep the bottom line of profits in their favour, they were willing to accept that civilization would be destroyed in the not-so-distant future.

The brilliant indigenous response from Robin Wall Kimmerer’s Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants (2020), is very clear.

            “What was needed was the wisdom of environmental science, the clarity of philosophical analysis and the creative power of the written word, to find new ways to understand and reimagine our relation to the natural world (283). We seem to be living in an era of economics of fabricated demand and compulsive overconsumption….we continue to embrace economic systems that prescribe infinite growth on a finite planet…..we need reforms that would ground economics in ecological principles and the constraints of thermodynamics (300). Climate change will unequivocally defeat economics that are based on constant taking without giving in return (363).”

            Her views were ignored, yet her sharp, pungent views directed some Canadians to shiver in fear. The summer of 2021 in British Columbia was ridden by mass forest fires, followed by winter flooding that destroyed thousands of farm animals. This massive flooding destroyed roads and railways crippled by landslides across the interior of the province. Such disasters can be expected every year as the merciless Climate Change rests on ignorance by homo-sapiens. Yet the open-ness of Canadians elsewhere brought support to those evacuated from fire and floods.

So here is our challenge. We have to experience peace, a deep peace shared between many traditions, cultures and religions. This experience evaporates into nothing if we do not translate it into action. Begin the work on yourselves today, so that your attitudes, speech and actions become an example to your children, friends and communities. Take the practical steps to make peace with Mother Earth in terms of what you consume and support. Then represent your community, in coalition with other communities, to political and corporate leaders. Show clearly that we are choosing peace and harmony within ourselves, within our communities and with Mother Earth. Together we can do it.

We are Ambassadors of Peace after all.”

COVID-19 and Walking Meditation

COVID–19 and Walking Meditation

Dr. Ian Prattis                                                               

Anxiety and fear fuel the internal stress about the Coronavirus driven by the global pandemic. Masks, distancing and smaller gatherings are necessary as COVID–19 overwhelms practices that help to maintain healthy mental health. Our society faces collective disruption and the uncertainty of polarization as the COVID–19 virus continues to mutate. It does not discriminate, so no-one is safe. Until such time as populations are fully vaccinated, this virus will continue to spread a variety of deadly variants The pandemic is global and at the present time vaccines are required. I have lost several friends and colleagues who died from COVID–19. They did not have vaccines.

It is not really a matter of choice – it is a societal measure. Failure to vaccinate puts others at risk. Simply examine the deaths and cases in Canada over the past months and notice the number of people without vaccines. Spiritual beings, holistic and natural healers are not immune, though many think they are.

In this situation it is often impossible to calm and meditate, yet we can walk with normal breaths for 15 minutes – in our home, in our back yard or around our streets – making sure we honor distance from others. We know from our experience of hikes in nature, or neighborhood walks after dinner, that sudden flashes of insight often arise in concert with our footsteps. We then see clearly how to handle the predicament of COVID–19. Imagine what can happen when we add conscious awareness to our footsteps. When we concentrate on our breath and focus on slow walking, we actually have a brilliant piece of engineering to quiet the mind and body. When we add a third concentration – aware of how our feet touch the earth – we have a meditative practice designed for our difficult times. We focus our mind on the mechanism of each foot touching the earth – heel, then ball of foot, then toe. We slow down even further and with our body – not our intellect or ego – we make a contract with Mother Earth to leave a smaller footprint. We examine our consumption patterns, COVID–19, energy use and the impact of Climate Change – all from walking with awareness, our breath, our legs and noticing how our feet touch the earth.

With this concentrated focus of walking meditation there is very little opportunity for the mind to worry about past events or future anticipations. The meditation keeps us present, here in the moment of being fully alive. It slows us down step by step so that our mind enters silence. This is aided by another component we can add to walking meditation – a gentle half smile to nurture the peace and silence within. With the deepening of this internal silence, insight naturally occurs.

Walking meditation is a powerful methodology for healing and mental health. We start by breathing in and out with full attention to the in-breath and to the out-breath. Co-ordinating our breath with our steps we breathe in, saying silently to ourselves – “Breathing in” – as we take two or three slow steps. Then as we breathe out, we say – “Breathing out” – as we simultaneously take two or three slow steps. Practice this for several minutes just to get used to the concentration and co-ordination of breath and steps. Be fully aware of breathing in and out, and of walking slowly step by step.  Allow the breath and lungs to find a natural rhythm with your steps. It is the concentration and awareness that matters, not whether you take two or three steps, but do remember to wear a half smile on your lips! 

As you take each step, you can add a concentration that brings you solidly into contact with Mother Earth. Concentrate on your foot touching the ground in this sequence – heel, ball of foot, toe. This particular concentration assists you to be fully with your stepping on the earth, keeping you alert to earth rhythms.

At Carleton University where I used to teach, I would walk from the bus stop and take a detour around the greenhouses of the Botany department and come to the Rideau River that runs along one side of the campus. From there I had a kilometer of riverbank to practice walking meditation before arriving at my office building. It is quite secluded in parts and the river has sets of rapids that greatly enrich my walk. One section of the path takes my steps through a cedar grove, and I always felt a sacred blessing from these beautiful trees. I slow my walking right down to a three – three rhythm when I enter the cedar grove. The path is never the same, as the seasons change their character. Autumn leaves give way to snowfall as winter leaves her embrace. My clothes and footwear change, yet my steps, breathing and feet touching the earth remain constant.  The rustle of autumn leaves is replaced by the crunch of snow and ice, which gives way to the mud and rain of spring before the heat of summer allows me to walk in sandals or barefoot. The birds and foliage change with the seasons, as does the river – iced over in winter, turbulent in the spring and calm in summer and fall. Students with their books and friends congregate by the river when the weather is sunny. 

I notice the changes in the seasonal round of nature, yet remain with my breathing, footsteps and the earth – so that I am not drawn into unnecessary thought. It takes me approximately twenty minutes to arrive at my office. I am in a clear, calm state and better able to be of assistance to students and colleagues and bring my own sense of calm and clarity to the university. On leaving the university I retrace my steps of walking meditation along the river before going home, or to appointments in the city. The experience engenders the same calm and clarity. This walk is paradise and a constant reminder to me for those occasions when I am not in touch with the Earth Mother.  We do not need to walk on water, or over hot coals.  We simply need to walk on the earth and touch her deeply with our full awareness.  That is all that walking meditation is.


Ancient Wisdom

During my career as an anthropologist I was fortunate to encounter many First Nation story tellers across North America: Dene, Hopi, Ojibwa, Algonquin, Inuit – to mention a few. Their poetic recounting of myths and history had a deep impact on how I thought and wrote. I would say that without poetry, cultures implode. Extraordinary indigenous medicine people enhanced my process of remembering the power of the poetic voice. Through their mentoring, I learned how to reconfigure my understanding of time, place and consciousness. I chose to listen to the sacred feminine voice of Earth Wisdom rather than the multitude of competing voices in my deep unconscious.

I made a radical turn in the 1980’s to reconstruct anthropological methodology, as the poetic voice was always required for investigation of the cultural other. I felt that the language of the anthropologist could not represent the raw experience of other cultures – therefore poetry was philosophically essential to the work of anthropology. I saw poetry as an uninterrupted process whereas field notes were not. I suggested to colleagues that the poetry of observation is what anthropologists are supposed to be doing. Anthropologists who commit themselves to poetry in order to say something different about field experience are the tricksters and shamans of the discipline. I have been described as much worse! 

The radicalization of the discipline and an evolution into a different kind of anthropology was required. A continuation of this perspective emerged several decades later when I brought out a personal volume of poetry in 2018 – Painting with Words, Poetry for a New Era. The poems were split into six parts, each with its own distinctive theme. The final part is dedicated to Ancient Wisdom where an epic poem awaits the reader’s attention. It was written when I accompanied two friends on the first leg of their cross Canada canoe expedition. My good friend, Keith Crowe, teamed up with me and a yellow canoe. I had never undertaken anything quite like this. This long poem about Ancient Wisdom was written during the canoe trip, under oil skins, during portages, while cooking in the rain and once when standing drenched and half clothed in a Quebec laundromat. 

            My creation of this poem had a double focus. I wanted to leave a document about Canada’s wilderness for my grand-children, so they could be inspired by Mother Earth. When experience and inspiration sparked, I would shout out to Keith in the stern of the yellow canoe that I had to write. I would bring out the oil skin envelope stuffed with poems about the journey. I also wanted to weave in the Wisdom of the Elders, to speak about Canadian waterways from the reverence of First Nations, so that my grand-children would understand the meaning of rivers, forests and mountains.

            The words “without poetry, cultures implode” leaves the door open for our species and leaders to change. I choose to complete this story with a moment from the focus on Ancient Wisdom. It pulsates with the rhythm of the river and the spirit of nature of its ancient inhabitants. In this epic poem I criticize human greed and its destructive impulses that result in pollution, contamination and annihilation of the natural world. I am nostalgic for the ancient ways of the people who had held Mother Earth in sacred regard, so I take readers into the heart of nature’s Zen-like serenity, and sheer “thereness.” The reader is hurled at the same time onto the path of nature’s fury expressed through extreme weather conditions. In spite of being exposed to the merciless harshness of the elements, the poet – that is me – still smiles because I am a part of this world, just like a tree or a rock.

I see Ancient Wisdom as the tabernacle of our collective memory, and I harvest these ancient energies and weave them into my own history. In the poetry volume of 2018 I took the reader through the immensities of joy and pain, through the infinite and the mysterious. I dissect the dissonance of the modern world with the scalpel of poetic musings and describe the interflow between the human soul and the spirit of Earth – paving a quest for spiritual evolution and higher meaning. I provide a poetic narrative of our basest attributes as a species, our greed and propensity toward a savage violence, as well as our ability to love beyond the telling power of words. Ancient Wisdom awakens the sense of the infinite within us, surging our hearts with the power of their message. My poetry aims directly for the heart, speaking to the reader in clear and loud words, sometimes screaming the truth. This restores the possibility of the ancient dialogue between humans and nature.

I take a small portion of the epic in order to talk about The Forest. The connection between humans and nature is illustrated with a solitary tree and a man. In each other’s presence, their feelings of aloneness vanish. 

The Forest

Whisper of wind through pine needles.

Shimmering aspens and soft poplars of the forest.

Green – spring fresh green,

a relief to the year round darkness of the spruce’s

darker timbre and twin pronged sheaths.

The river denies our passage

so we walk through sheltered forests

rather than meet

our death by foolishness.

We wander and find herbs, trilliums white in dense bush,

hiding among the wild strawberries

un-bodied with their

rich red summer promise.

Guardian trees, lichen laced,

protest the spring violets pushing upwards.

In the forest a great many entities

of the earth and sky speak of before

and what is to be.

Clearings sunk into the earth

await further visits.

In the center of one clearing

stood a single tall aspen

  • lonely.

Waiting for companionship,

fragile in its aloneness,

in her aloneness,

in our aloneness.

I stand within her circle

  • this tree and I –

and for a brief moment,

neither were alone.

About The Remembrances


Author Dr. Ian Prattis Releases

I met a visiting Rishi in 1995 – a holy man from India who recognized me and insisted I go to India for spiritual training. I took leave from my Canadian university and spent two years as a yogi, where the spiritual treasures of India were opened to me. I went there to teach and train in Siddha Samadhi Yoga, a system of meditation for adults and children. It was committed to global religious harmony and program participants work to heal and transform deeply rooted schisms in Indian society – through rural development, civic responsibility, and anticorruption programs. Also required was a marvelous outreach to introduce meditation into schools. colleges, universities, and factories. I was privileged and honored to experience so many treasures of India.

Then, in November and December of 1996, I became seriously ill in India. As I observed my body’s systems crashing one by one, I knew there was a distinct possibility of death. I was surprised by my calm and lack of panic. As December drew towards its close, I totally surrendered. I will always remember Saturday, December 21, 1996 as if it were yesterday. On that day, I let go of all attachments to my body and surrendered to a sense of freedom never before experienced. I was living in a small ashram in the city of Mumbai – reserved for saints and holy men. I did not qualify for either category yet felt their grace at hand. I felt at one with all my spiritual ancestors, their wisdom, love, and gentleness as a tangible presence.

One humorous manifestation of that grace occurred one morning when I woke up and opened my eyes to greet one of my swami mentors. He smiled broadly and helped me to sit up, then surprised me with his words:

“We are all so happy Ian that you have decided to die with us in India, if indeed you are to die. And we will be most happy should you live.”

To the best of my memory I just smiled and said “Me too!”

He made me some tea with herbs and beamed love and understanding to me before leaving. When I went to sleep that night I was content and happy. I thought about my many mistakes and chose not to deny them or brush aside the bodily pain. I felt very simple, that I was living properly without panic. I felt all my teachers throughout lifetimes gathering together inside and around me, without boundaries.

I felt very calm about the impermanence of my bodily existence. My heart opened wide. While I did the meditations on “Looking Deeply and Healing,” I thought about my many mistakes, and chose not to deny them or brush aside the bodily pain in this moment, for I knew that the experiences of joy and freedom that were flooding through me were dissolving both. I felt very simple, that I was living properly. I was without panic and present with whatever arose. I did not fear death. This lack of fear gave me freedom and strength, and

opened a huge door to send love and joy to all. I felt my true self, peaceful, not pulled in any direction. Despite all that was going on, I was solidly and timelessly present. I could freely share whatever gifts, skills and energies I had. I finally understood the real significance of the Buddha’s words about The Five Remembrances.

To be with myself at this time—happy and content in the moment—was all I had, and it was enough. As I practiced this meditation, I felt that each moment of life was absolutely precious and somehow, I was communicating this to all that I connected to. Before I slept that night, one last meditation secured me in the refuge of all my spiritual ancestors. Although the focus was on the Buddha, I felt all my teachers and guides throughout lifetimes gathered together inside and around me, without boundaries, and they stayed while I slept. When I fell asleep, I was content and happy.

The next morning, to my surprise and joy, I woke up! Over the next six months, I slowly recovered my health. Friends in North America who tune in to me very closely had booked airline tickets in December to take me out of India to recover. While I was touched by their love, I said no to their proposal. Whatever the outcome, this particular journey was to be in India. I had written countless Christmas cards to friends and loved ones all over the world and signed them with “Blessings and Love from Ian.” That is what I had wanted to send before my death. Then I lived! And I was even more happy that the cards were sent.

My work in progress took me back to India six years later. My wife Carolyn and I embarked on a pilgrimage with Shantum Seth – In The Footsteps Of The Buddha – through North India and Nepal in February 2003. We journeyed to Rajghir, Bodh Gaya, Varanasi, Sarnath, crossed into Nepal at Lumbini and then to Kushinagar, Vaishali and Sravasti. I created insight poems to provide a glimpse of experiences that are too immense to otherwise communicate. My wish was to record Living Dharma – people, life and experience in their vibrant mundanity. The Footsteps of the Buddha pilgrimage was full of wonder and miracles. It was a journey to the center of being so that everyday life becomes a pilgrimage. Every reality I am engaged with is also a pilgrimage.

You can find my work at  

REVIEW for Past, Present, Future; Stories that Haunt

Whistler Independent Book Awards Review for Past, Present, Future; Stories that Haunt.

The Review concludes – “I encourage many people to read this important book. Don’t just stand there, do something!”

ORDER Past, Present, Future; Stories that Haunt at  Links to Amazon and Indigo. Ottawa folks can get an autographed book from my home and receive FREE any prior book – no postage costs. Tel. 613 726 0881, 1252 Rideout Cr, Ottawa ON Canada K2C 2X7.

Criterion ,         Description                                                                                                                                             Rating
A coherent, well developed narrative arc; appropriate and satisfying ending Good
Comments: Dr Ian Prattis explains that he wrote his new book with a sense of urgency. I approached the task of reviewing his book with trepidation. My head is in the hot sand. I live in Vancouver where we have experienced some of the hottest days on record. Global warming not a reality? With each chapter I discovered that his book indeed is appropriate for our time. Humanity’s future is precarious, brutal, dark and unsure unless we solve our climate, health and cultural emergencies. He structures the book in three sections. Bringing the ‘Past’ forward using Indigenous wisdom to save all species from extinction; the ‘Present’ contains short fiction and views modern society and our personal and local relationships through a lens that is realistic and sobering; the ‘Future’ intimates very little has changed and there are dark times to come. Yet it holds out hope there is a light to spur us on. Obligations and rights are not incompatible. As Dr Prattis intimates in his book, Nature can provide inner guidance. Even though the stories are a little discordant, they are well paced and will easily hold the attention of readers. Some of the short chapters were more interesting to read than others. I was drawn into his personal stories of love and loss. Honest and authentic. Wholesome and deadly.    
Pace The plot unfolds effectively to keep the reader’s attention Adequate
Comments: Chapter 11 in the Present: Although the book employs many different kinds of narrative I found this chapter out of synch with the creativity that preceded it with over reliance on newspaper reportage. Perhaps that is what the author intended. Covid 19 as a symptom of an exhausted planet. Relationship between humanity and Mother Earth. May take several years for normal life to return. New Covid / Earth task force? Chapter 5 Death of Eagle Speaker. Too many paragraphs similar in length. Daunting to read. Shorter sentences, variety would have made it better. The prose would have benefitted from contrasting longer and shorter sentences.  
Characters are fully realized and believable
Comments: This book contains many different characters that were fully formed and believable. Many like Shaman White Eagle Woman are fully realized. When asked which totem he should choose, “Choose the most powerful ones, dammit!”
“She refused to give up on me regardless how dense I was in present time.” (Excellent observation) The sad sailor who wanted the sea to take him. The survival instinct kicked in. Will humanity have the same experience? A little unexpected humor was welcome in such a weighty tome. The Scottish lighthouse keeper salvaged whisky from a sinking ship that was destined to the US “relieved of his post at the lighthouse.” Recklessness rewarded. I was not in the right place. I did not belong here. So down I went into the graceless oblivion that alcohol and depression permits. Leave the sea and embark on a spiritual journey. (Blisteringly honest) The anti-Islamic sentiment in the ‘Future’ was jarring, yet underscores that Radical Islamists are a grave danger to the very best of humanity. Many organized religions divide between ‘us’ and ‘them’. (Reviewer’s note: I am a very sad and divided Catholic who is weary of the dogma of authoritarian and flawed institutions). Rituals labelled as ‘pagan’ devalue and criticize those who are not believers. Sow mistrust and fear. Everything beyond the boundaries of the privileged are considered as ‘pagan’.
Dialogue reveals, reflects and reinforces the character of the speaker
Comments: Skillful blend of fiction, non-fiction and biographical narrative. Individuals engaged in environmental interaction. The author has a good ear for dialogue. Of course, I imagine as a university professor he has many years of experience with thousands of student dialogues! How does one deal with an evil person? “You must be a constant living rebuke to his lies and rottenness.” “Ian boy, I don’t know how the hell you did that. In all my years I have never seen anything like it.” “I knew it was not me who brought the boat safely home.”
Setting: Time and place are well presented, authentic and contribute to the narrative
Comments: Excellent description of getting caught in the storm with the tourists and his son. I was right there with the author as he navigated the boat. Each chapter took place in a different, believable setting. The author presents time, history and context clearly, accurately and vividly. We have a good sense of place which is essential to the narrative and the conflicts within the community and characters are well presented. The author’s love of Indigenous culture is clear and in the “Past” section he uses appropriately evocative passages representing all the senses to firmly ground the reader in place. This is a vast universe, the author reminds us. Take pleasure in the beauty and wonder of the world. While you can…
Writing: Sentence structure is varied; writing is imaginative, effective and clear
Language – Comments: Skillful blend of fiction, non- fiction and biographical narrative. Very descriptive use of words. “His work became dusted with Stephen’s dignity and began to show a maturity and breadth of vision not there in his previous writings.”
“His loss became a memory that turned into a scar that would not heal.”
“His dark shadow of self-contempt seeped into his relations with other men.”
“When you die, I will be the last portion of your consciousness to dissolve. Before that moment of dissolution I will guide both of us as one integrated mind into the next adventure.” (Gorgeous writing)
Language: Comments: Dr Prattis is a master story teller. I am sure he was an excellent professor who could keep his classroom engaged. The language is fresh and appropriate for each story. In some stories the author has opted for informal and conversational style to great effect. Although line and copy editing are not my strengths, I think in the “Present” chapters the verb tenses are erratic.
Themes are well developed and use vivid imagery to add depth to the narrative
Themes: Comments – Two forks in the road. Which will we take? Dark, bone chilling and captivating. Inter-connectedness and interdependence of humans, community, nature elements and animal kingdom. Relationships allow us to survive, thrive, heal and grow. The prevailing theme of survival and love in humanity and in nature despite their challenges. As Nature suffers so do humans. Greatest gift is to find one’s true nature. Triumph over tragedy, conquer one’s inner demons. Thoughts, values and attitudes are internal pollution. Ego-sphere not eco-sphere (excellent observation). The overwhelming terror of Gaia crashing down on us in unbearable. Is it true that trans formation in human consciousness requires 2 % of the world’s population to meditate on a daily basis. Sounds do-able but where does that exact figure come from? Sharing and caring or we will stay in this global mess. World economy fabricated demand.
Production: Cover is well designed and appealing; interiors are professionalFair
Comments: This is a slim volume, yet packs a lot of stories and information within the 192 pages. The cover is evocative. People are paralyzed as they watch the hands of the clock. A new purpose for The Doomsday Clock, a symbol that represents the likelihood of a man-made global catastrophe. Maintained since 1947 by the members of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, the clock is a metaphor for threats to humanity from unchecked scientific and technical advances. The font size is perfect for my Baby Boomer eyes. Pathological consumption degrades the planet. ‘Badass’ consciousness. Industrial system is devouring itself. Are we at the end game without a philosophy for the future? Our tomorrow will be shaped by the actions we take right now? There is still time to ground economy in ecological principles and the constraints of thermodynamics. Dr Prattis envisions a world that is legendary and ideal, perhaps not real and historical. Will we come together to awaken a sense of wonder and participate in the inscrutable mystery of being? Facing hardship you feel the sting recede as you calm your mind. Let go or be dragged (I want that fridge magnet). Look around and see who is with you. Consciousness, mindfulness? Or will we go shopping?      
“Who was he to turn his back on the world and live as he pleased?” When I observe our current tribe of Canada’s political leaders, I recall what noted short story writer Anton Chekov observed: “Any idiot can deal with a crisis, it’s day to day living that wears you out.” As Dr Prattis observes, people fear change and uncertainty. Yes, we are in the midst of a health and medical, cultural and environmental crisis. There have been certain steps taken to mitigate the emergency. But how do we proceed from here, from now to the future, if there is to be one? It was so much easier when we could identify the enemy (Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot) but the enemy now is us and our unsustainable way of living with others on this beautiful fragile planet. (Reviewer’s note: I worked with a woman whose brother was part of the UBC team that first coined the term ‘man’s carbon footprint’. Over twenty years ago he told his sister “Go and get as many credit cards as you want, do whatever you want to do. It’s too late. We’ve past the point of no return.” When she related his bleak advice, I was sad beyond human measure. Our first grandchild will be born in November; I want to believe there is still time to turn things around.) I am hopeful that our First Nations brothers and sisters will revive the ways and traditions of their elders and forbearers to help guide the way. We must open authentic conversations with their knowledge keepers during these challenging times. The achievements of those primal Indigenous societies are worthy of emulation and they must become an integral part of our future human consciousness. Dr Ian Prattis is a keen observer of the exterior and interior life. The earth is burning and the author writes Humanity owes an apology to the children of the world. In our modern culture we have created empty and repetitive rituals around the Easter bunny, going shopping, cheering for sports teams. But most ritual fails to honour the deepest human feelings. Empty rituals will not facilitate human wellness and our need for sacred connection and the ultimate power of the unconscious mind. We have deprived our children of meaningful rituals that provide meaning and significance where healing can take place, the primary means by which people get their inner houses in order both as individuals and community. I will encourage many people to read this important book. Don’t just stand there, do something!  

3 Bad-Ass Poems

I noted that Frontier Poetry invited poets to try out for their $5,000 prize. Perhaps one of these bad-ass poems will get through!!

  1. Nature Ignored

The treads of boots

leave prints in the snow,

banked softly in the quietness

of dark pines.

Looking down from high

the trees say nothing.

Resting through winter,

waiting for the Spring sap surge.

The jagged boulder

in the middle of the path,

another kill-site for Winter,

could easily upend us

bringing death everywhere.

Silence dominates our broken feathers.

From blood in snow.

The echo we cannot hear.

No memory weaves our mind,

static speaking over media chatter.

Too busy counting the death of pandemic,

while greenhouse gas infiltrates our lungs

and thus we are broken.

No voice beyond the senselessness

of this COVID death

just burning bodies in the frigid dark

ripping open without a chance.

No longer do we speak of seasons

or notice the flight of geese.

There is only death

frozen in the forest.

Without sense of the loss

we blindly suffer

and decline to pick up the phone.

Locked down sterile humans,

unable to procreate,

have now become the myth.

Everything else arounds us,

stretching their own lives.

Trees, rivers, rocks, oceans and mountains

survive in our absence.

The oceans are lost to our minds,

as we ignore

the language of whales calling.

Unable to hear their range of symphony.

Boot prints in the snow

are all we left behind.        

2. Too Late For Refuge

We take refuge

where there is no place

that waits for flames to inflame logs

yet keep us warm.

Leaving our breath

to play in broken sanctuary

so our oxygen is not used

all at the same time.

Yet she was too stubborn to die

behind barricades of fire.

She wore a summer frock

without shoes,

dancing across the road,

reflected in the window

of the baker’s shop.

Departing with two baguettes,

the girl returns to sanctuary

to breath and survive.

Wise poets create magic

– or so they think,

when baguettes morph into space

with red wine the color

and taste of blood.

Worlds bigger than ours

tower over us

with huge anger

and yet a delicate fragility.

They dwarf homo-sapiens

left behind by stupidity,

without knowing how trees cry

about the travesty of barren oil sands

and coal mines.

Trees have a different music.

Their sophisticated internet

creates majestic forests and fires with the

epiphany of inter-connection,

without corporate domination

building the way of destruction.

Cedar forests

know what is not natural,

to be without pain and desperation

required by Mother Earth

to soothe hurts beyond danger.

A new tapestry evolves

to welcome the rising up of mountains,

forests and oceans and the return

of water creatures.

It masters the unthinkable haunted decline.

All of them carefully watch humanity,

who consume without noticing that

animals leave tracks in the mud.

3. Dreams of Nightmares

Dreams smooth then haunt

the time between sleep and waking

throughout our bones.

Huddled in dark clusters,

feeding off ragged moments of fears

and sorrows from long time ago.

Yet here we are

still haunting our better selves

in the desert tumbleweed

with the worst of our actions.

Sharing universal shards of memory

breaking through greed and racism,

screaming that our world

is now different.

With Black Lives Matter

along with all lives –

reminding that we are better

than vague clusters of nightmares.  

In a language of sighs and nods

to be perfectly understood,

the balmy evening hides moonlit stars,

shimmering through tall pines

from across the river.

His hands shake like tall grass

bending in the squall of rain.

Thinking her fingertips

were placed on the grave

of his loved one.

She hears every soft word he murmurs.

A Writer’s Dream

A WRITER’S DREAM                                                                     Ian Prattis

It happens – that moment when unexpectedly your writing receives glowing confirmation. Luckily I have had a taste of that. At a writer’s retreat, the facilitator who had read my book Redemption spoke of it that it was not so much a read but as if she were listening to music. The cadence of the writing struck her forcibly. I often describe Redemption as an extended prose poem but like her musical note more. Then a phone call that Trailing Sky Six Feathers received the Quill Award from Focus on Women Magazine, an advocacy group for women’s issues worldwide. I was delighted that the first award for this book came from a women’s group. Other awards include Gold for Redemption at the 2015 Florida Book Festival, Silver for Environment from the 2014 Living Now Literary Awards for Failsafe; Saving the Earth From Ourselves. There was the 2019 Gold from the eLit Excellence Awards.  I received the 2011 Ottawa Earth Day Environment Award and in 2018 the Yellow Lotus award from the Vesak Project for spiritual guidance and teaching dharma. Also my book “Shattered Earth” received the 2020 Gold Medal from the eLit Excellence Awards. 

When a reviewer hits the mark it is a big wow when they seem to read your mind. Julia Ann Charpentier in her review must have been sitting right there. She describes Redemption, “An admirable command of language brings to every scene a striking visual clarity… The novel falls into the realm of timeless storytelling… This eye-opening book will be a memorable experience for anyone who enjoys reading about primordial tendencies. Beneath a polished urban facade remains a part of human nature that few want to acknowledge, either due to fear or simply because it is easier to deny the basic instincts that have kept us alive on an unforgiving earth.”

A wonderful cap to all this musing was recent when I went to send some books through the Post Office. The young woman at the counter had posted many of the packages of books I had sent to competitions and I always gave a copy to her to read. She gave me a big hug and told me that the book – Trailing Sky Six Feathers – had changed her life. This is really why I write.  I told her that the final bookend of the trilogy takes characters from the two books she has read and places them on a new planet in the immediate future. I gave her that book. My expeditions to the post office are a highlight for me these days.

My latest book – PAST, PRESENT and FUTURE: Stories that Haunt – is drawing exciting testimonials. Published in 2021. Taste these views:

Claudiu Murgan, Author

The Spirituality of the indigenous cultures is something that recently, I took a great interest in. It’s a facet of humanity that slowly disappears, trampled by the modern mind, too busy with the tangible reality of the surrounding world. Dr. Ian Prattis’s PAST, PRESENT and FUTURE, tells us to cherish such treasures otherwise we are only empty shells without the meaning and the connection to the spiritual world.

Krystina McGuire-Eggins, Therapist

Ian Prattis’ new book, “PAST, PRESENT and FUTURE: Stories that Haunt” is a brilliant collection of stories, writings and essays in fiction and non-fiction. The book leads the reader through thought provoking perspectives about the treatment and respect Western society has thus far shown toward Mother Earth. Dr. Prattis presents the current state of our Earth through a lens that is alarming and sobering at moments. In his true fashion, he offers hope by educating the reader on how Indigenous wisdom that has been passed down for generations can provide a pathway that the human race can choose to embrace for a better future. This is an excellent read, very appropriate for our current times.