As most of you know, I’m a generalist. A jack of all trades and a master of none. Generally the books I read reflect this. I have a grand collection of “Complete Idiot’s Guides” and many “Encyclopedias of” or “Guides to”. However when given the chance to read “Path of the Sacred Pipe: Journey of Love, Power, and Healing” by Jay Cleve, PhD I took it despite its narrow focus. It wasn’t long before I realized there was a whole world around which the pipe is centered.
I was amazed to learn how the whole earth is represented in the Native American’s sacred pipe. By learning about the parts of the pipe, Cleve shares the history, mythology, and modern day beliefs of primarily the Lakota, but also other Native American tribes as well. Not only do you learn about the spiritual, but you learn about the actual nuts and bolts of owning and using a pipe. As you might guess, one doesn’t just stuff any old stuff in there, light it up and go. Cleve discusses what gets used, care and maintenance, and the role the pipe plays in different rituals.
I had never imagined that a book about the Native American sacred pipe would give me a look at the Sun Dance ritual, or an overview of the Medicine Wheel, or stories of White Buffalo Calf Maiden. Cleve truly shows how the sacred pipe is fully woven into the fabric of the Native American culture, and because it is, “Path of the Sacred Pipe” ends up being a surprisingly thoughtful and entertaining read.