Don Butler, senior writer at The Ottawa Citizen interviewed me about my recent book, Trailing Sky Six Feathers: One Man’s Journey with His Muse. Here are some excerpts that appeared in Don’s article, September 22, 2014 – ‘How the two lives of Ian Prattis could help us all survive.’
“Prattis, a 71 year-old retired professor of anthropology and religion, writes about two of his lives in a new book, Trailing Sky Six Feathers, described on the jacket blurb as ‘Indiana Jones meets the Buddha with a dash of Celestine Prophecy.’ In this life, Prattis, who calls himself a Spiritual Warrior for Planetary Care, Peace and Social Justice, taught at Carleton University for 37 years, was ordained in India as a guru, leads weekly Buddhist meditation classes in the basement of his west-end bungalow, and founded Friends for Peace Canada at the outbreak of the Iraq war. Oh, yes – he also lived in a hermitage in Gatineau Park with his pet wolf for four years. In the other life, he was the chief of an Indian band in 18th-century Arizona, fending off Apache attacks, married to Trailing Sky Six Feathers, a powerful medicine woman in whose arms he died in 1777. As his life ebbed away, she vowed: “I will find you my husband, I will find you.”
”In his book, a mix of memoir, mysticism and manifesto, the British-born Prattis describes both lives and pivotal training he received from four North American sages that ultimately allowed him to reunite spiritually with his ‘muse,’ Trailing Sky. He issues a call for ‘spiritual awakening,’ necessary to ensure the survival of a world pushed to the edge of a dangerous precipice by climate change, ecosystem and financial collapse, corruption, terrorism and anarchy. It’s hard to predict how people will receive his book, Prattis acknowledges. For the longest time, his own logical, intellectually trained mind resisted accepting the fantastical tale.
“His journey started about 35 years ago, when he began decades of spiritual training with White Eagle Woman, an Ojibwa shaman from a reserve near Sault Ste. Marie. When they first met, White Eagle Woman “looked me straight in the eye and said ‘I don’t like you at all’ Prattis recalls. “But she said, ‘I’ve been instructed by my ancestors to train you.’” It was during that training that Prattis started remembering things about his past life. “It was a very slow process of remembering. I had to let the logic go and let the intuition speak more loudly.” In the early 1990s, Prattis retreated to a hermitage, a small cottage near parking Lot 7 in Kingsmere. His constant companion was a timber wolf he had encountered in the wilds of British Columbia who “made it clear that he was to come back with me to Quebec,” Prattis says. He dubbed the animal Wolfie, a name he dryly describes as “Highly original.”
“Trailing Sky, Prattis says, “represents the feminine aspect of Earth wisdom, the feminine face of the Buddha to which he has surrendered. …Given the existential threats facing us, spiritual awakening is essential, Prattis says. Without it, “all you can rely on is politics and economics. We need something more formidable than that.
“We seem to be waiting for a Gandhi, a Mandela or a Martin Luther King to step up and lead. They’re gone. It’s ordinary people that have to step up and make a difference. Spiritual awakening takes hard work and discipline, Prattis says. Living simply is important. So is mindfulness and developing community. One key strategy, says Prattis, is to respond, rather than react, when others say or do things that upset you.
Despite the threat of approaching disaster, Prattis says his book is fundamentally optimistic. “It really does have a message of empowerment. No matter how dire the situation is or how perilous, we can always come through.”
To order this and other books go to www.ianprattis.com