jon turk_jpg_t285I've had the privilege of sharing a book signing table with author and world traveler, Jon Turk, at Madison's Canoecopia outdoor show for a number of years. At first I thought it was just cool to sit beside and share stories with such a master writer and explorer. However, that feeling eventually waned and the idea of sharing time with him changed. I was then honored to befriend such a unique and "pure" enthusiastic person who loves to experience life. Jon writes with wisdom, insight and compassion. And for that reason I urge everyone to check out his latest book — to be released January 19th. It's titled The Raven's Gift: A Scientist, A Shaman, and Their Remarkable Journey through the Siberian Wilderness (published by St. Martin's Press).

This is Jon Turk's view of the book (check out his web site for more ravensgift).

I have kayaked around Cape Horn, traversed the Northwest Passage and paddled across the North Pacific Rim. But, the strangest trip I ever took was the journey I made into the realm of the spiritual. In 2000, in the remote Siberian village of Vyvenka, I met an elderly woman named Moolynaut, a Koryak shaman, and learned about her voyages to the spirit world. A year later, Moolynaut entreated the spirit of a great, black raven to help mend my pelvis, which had been previously fractured in a mountaineering accident. When the healing was complete, I was able to walk without pain. As scientist, I could find no rational explanation for the healing and the experience changed my life, irrevocably altering my view of the connectivity between the natural and spiritual worlds. Searching for the Raven Spirit, I traversed 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 is a life-altering vision of the ties between the natural and spiritual realms, informed by one man's awakening and guided by the ancient Spirit Bird with wide black wings and the power to heal.

Siberia is a harsh, frozen land so you might think that it is a place where survival depends mainly on left-brain logic and pragmatism. But it is here that I learned that magic and dreams underlie strong deeds. It is here that I learned that magic flies around us all time, waiting only to be recognized -- to be realized.