Noted scientist and kayak adventurer undertakes a journey of spiritual healing Jon Turk has kayaked around Cape Horn and paddled across the Pacific Ocean to retrace the voyages of ancient people. But, the strangest trip he ever took was the journey he made as a man of science into the realm of the spiritual. In a remote Siberian village, Turk met an elderly Koryak shaman named Moolynaut who invoked the help of a Spirit Raven to mend his fractured pelvis. When the healing was complete, he was able to walk ...
Noted scientist and kayak adventurer undertakes a journey of spiritual healing Jon Turk has kayaked around Cape Horn and paddled across the Pacific Ocean to retrace the voyages of ancient people. But, the strangest trip he ever took was the journey he made as a man of science into the realm of the spiritual. In a remote Siberian village, Turk met an elderly Koryak shaman named Moolynaut who invoked the help of a Spirit Raven to mend his fractured pelvis. When the healing was complete, he was able to walk without pain. Turk, finding no rational explanation, sought understanding by traversing the frozen tundra where Moolynaut was born, camping with bands of reindeer herders, and recording stories of their lives and spirituality. Framed by high adventure across the vast and forbidding Siberian landscape, The Raven’s Gift creates a vision of natural and spiritual realms interwoven by one man’s awakening.
Thirty-odd years ago, adventurer and environmentalist Turk (Cold Oceans) watched his dog root around in newly thawed dirt and jump wildly in response to some primeval scent in the earth. In that moment, Turk had a clear vision that the margin between life and death depends on a tactile, sensory awareness of the environment that incorporates but also transcends logic. Although he gradually forgot this lesson, it came hurtling back to him one day in July 2000 when he met Moolynaut, a Siberian shaman who introduced him to the “Other World” and the ways it impinges on the “Real World.” In prose by turns ponderous and lively, Turk narrates his journey to Siberia, the people he meets, and his introduction to the mysterious Moolynaut, who seems, like Shakespeare’s Prospero, to have created a storm that washes Turk and his companion onto the shore of her village. Eventually, Turk finds himself standing naked, balancing on one foot, holding his right hand behind his back and pointing straight in front of him with his left arm as Moolynaut heals his fractured pelvis. During these moments, Kutcha, the Raven Spirit, teaches Turk to see that the Other World and the Real World are united. In what could have been an intriguing memoir but instead is mundane and uninspiring, Turk unconvincingly rehearses many of the mantras of New Age spirituality magic—even as he offers a breathtaking glimpse of life in a small, forgotten Siberian village. (Jan.)
Canadian science writer and outdoor adventurer Turk (In the Wake of the Jomon: Stone Age Mariners and a Voyage Across the Pacific, 2005, etc.) explores metaphysical and anthropological territory on the far side of the Bering Strait. At the turn of the present century, writes the author, he began a quest to visit the remotest parts of the Kamchatka Peninsula as part of a long kayak journey along the Arctic rim of the Pacific Ocean. On that daring journey-as he notes, "a kayak is the smallest oceangoing craft and the North Pacific is one of the most tempestuous seas in the world"-he met a Koryak shaman, an elderly woman named Moolynaut. Through Moolynaut and other members of her family and tribe, the author learned firsthand about the lives of native people in Russia under communism and its successor-Moolynaut says they were forced "to move into villages and become ‘mouse eaters.' " Mice figure in the Koryak world, but so do bears, wolves and ptarmigan, all of which have lessons to impart. Turk also learned culturally important truths, sometimes reluctantly delivered, about native views of life, death, the afterlife and other issues that, sadly, were crowding in on him at the time. He proves a sensitive traveler between two worlds, though he mentions once or twice too often his status as an outsider "learning to discard my Western prejudices and to open myself to a mysterious way of thinking." One hopes that his account is more anthropologically accurate than the works of Carlos Castaneda, whom Turk cites approvingly. Regardless, the author offers a sort of higher truth in his passing observation that we are losing a great mass of knowledge with the erasure of the old ways, the victims, inthis case, not just of communism but of modernity as a whole. A moving account worthy of shelving alongside Vladimir Arsenyev's Dersu Uzala (1923), Barry Lopez's Arctic Dreams (1986) and other explorations of native ways of life in the Far North. Agent: Richard Parks/Richard Parks Agency
From the Publisher
"The northern lights have indeed seen strange sights, but none quite compare to Jon Turk's adventures on the frozen tundra of Kamchatka. There he encounters a great-great-grandmother spiritual healer who mends his body of damage sustained in a long-ago skiing accident. The tension between his own logical scientific background and the mysterious shamanistic wisdom of his healer is at the heart of this wonderfully-told story of Koryak life and his own personal transformation."—Henry Pollack, author of A World Without Ice and Uncertain Science...Uncertain World
JON TURK is the author of twenty-five environmental and earth science text books and two previous adventure travel books. He is a world-class adventurer whose expeditions are backed by Necky Kayaks, for whom he serves as a national spokesman. He writes frequently for many different magazines and alternates his time between Fernie, British Columbia and Darby, Montana.