Sunday, March 18, 2012

Book Review (Poetry) - The Mexican Saga: A Journey Through the 20-Count by Elaine Stirling

Elaine Stirling
The Mexican Saga: A Journey Through the 20-Count
Greyhart Press
Publication Date: December 2011
eBook Edition
42 Pages (portrait view)


     Profoundly influenced by Carlos Castaneda’s Teachings of Don Juan and the collapse of civilization predicted to occur at the end of the Mayan calendar, The Mexican Saga: A Journey Through the 20-Count by Elaine Stirling is a snap-shot reflection of the life of an extraordinarily gifted child as her life-journey takes her from shaman initiate to full Nagual (shape-shifter.) This is a rare, though brief, look into what it may have been like to be a member of the Toltec community and is a true coming of age prose-narrative written from inside a culture that was truly ahead of its time. I’ve always believed that this variety of poetry is one of the most complicated to create but, it is also the most rewarding for the reader, especially if the subject matter is of interest. Thematic poetry can be complex and is often difficult to maintain but Stirling has created an inspiring epic in less than fifty pages. If only every poet could be that succinct. In my opinion, no poetry is ever perfect. Even in the mind of the creator it is ever- evolving, always changing but Elaine Stirling’s voice, rhythm and word choice demonstrates that she is passionate about the subject, has studied it thoroughly, and easily provokes in the reader the unique emotional responses intended. And, that’s what all good poetry is supposed to do.

     In The Mexican Saga Elaine Stirling has created prose-verse that blends ancient Toltec with contemporary Mexico and manages to successfully provoke considerable thought and image employing a compact and concise approach. She becomes the voice of an Indio shaman and her readers willing pupils. Mix two parts early spirituality, one part supernatural, and one part key, elegant phrasing and you’ll begin to appreciate the subtle nuances of The Mexican Saga. But this is not a re-telling in prose of the ideals and leanings of Castaneda or Don Juan. Rather, Ms. Stirling brings distinctive, creative, and clever ideas of her own to the table that draw you back to old Mexico where you can taste the flavors, hear the sounds, and experience the life of the high-desert philosophy as she traces the life of an emergent initiate. The only real complaint I have about this tightly woven book of poetry is that it was over well before I wanted it to.

My favorite passage:
"You own only two things in life:
Your death, he held up one finger,
Spooled around me,
And perception, held up another."

     Recommended for poetry lovers, anyone interested in shamanism, those attracted to the works of Carlos Castaneda, anybody mystified or fascinated by the Mayan calendar or the Toltec culture, and those who truly appreciate exceptional thematic poetry.

4 out of 5 stars

The Alternative
Southeast Wisconsin

Additional Reading:

Greyhart Press site

Elaine Stirling Site site

The Mexican Saga

Nagual Wiki Page

Toltec Culture Wiki Page



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