A (Shamanic) Bee In The Bonnet

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  March 28, 2006 — 7 Comments

Looks like there may be some trouble in the shamanic community. Simon Buxton, author of the book “The Shamanic Way of the Bee: Ancient Wisdom and Healing Practices of the Bee Masters” is being accused of fabrication and having the book ghost-written. This might not be a big deal if it was from a disgruntled fan, but the accusations are (allegedly) coming from his former writing partner and fellow shaman Ross Heaven. Heaven, author of “Vodou Shaman: The Haitian Way of Healing and Power” (more on that in a moment) has posted (or allegedly posted) a review claiming he wrote most of the book.

“I notice some questions here from reviewers about whether this book is a true story or not. Since I actually (ghost)-wrote most of it for Buxton, allow me to answer the question and advise potential purchasers categorically that if you choose to buy this book, you will purchasing a work of dramatic fiction which, furthermore, was largely unwritten by Buxton himself. Buxton’s major contributions to the book as I recall them, in fact, were his accounts of how to keep bees and if that is what interests you then you should enjoy this book. Other parts of the story, however…came directly from my imagination…I am disappointed, therefore, to see Buxton presenting this book as a work of his own and, moreover, describing it as a non-fiction book of his personal shamanic experiences. Had Buxton pitched this as a fantasy novel or a work of shamanic fiction, it wouldn’t have made a bad read. Had he presented it as a semi-fictional account which included the dramatic embellishments of a ghost-writer or even a ‘collaborator’, it would be accurate. But he did neither.”

Buxton’s book, which won an award from Ash? Journal and the praises of pop-star Tori Amos is the current heavyweight on the neo-shamanic scene. It should be interesting to see how Heaven’s allegations play out. Depending on the ghost-writing deal (if that is indeed the case) Heaven may be prohibited from legal action regarding the work, and there is always the possiblity that this is a case of sour grapes (or bitter honey if you prefer) since he isn’t pulling in a percentage of sales and isn’t credited on the book.

Heaven himself isn’t free from controversy however, It seems there is an ongoing dispute between Heaven and Mambo Racine an American convert to Haitian Vodou who makes money performing initiations in Haiti for curious seekers (including Heaven at one point). Racine posts the following in the review page of his “Vodou Shaman” Amazon page.

“Helllo! I am Mambo Racine Sans Bout, the same Mambo Racine about whom Ross Heaven has so many nice things to say in his book, “Vodou Shaman”. It is with some regret that I must warn the prospective reader that most of what is in this book never actually happened – Ross is willing to say anything for a buck, apparently. He never let me see what he was writing until the book was published, and I never imagined he would make up so many stories! Now that I have refused to support his activities he is very angry with me, but the fact remains that this book is 99% BUNK.”

Another reviewer named “AE” on the page calls Racine a charlatan and re-posts a scathing letter from Heaven about Racine.

“Kathy [Mambo Racine] has been spouting for 2 years, without proof, that I revealed djevo secrets in my book, Vodou Shaman. And for 2 years I’ve been saying the opposite and asking for evidence. None has ever arrived…what happens in spambo’s djevo (all these “great and mystical blessings of Guinea” that spambo keeps spouting about), is a big fat boring zero. What you WON’T get are the proper passwords (and, yes, there are more than one), be shown how to call or control spirits, taught any liturgy (or why Vodou is the oldest religion, according to spamflaps), prayers, or songs, shown any magic, the correct use of the asson (or passwords for it) – or, in fact, receive anything of use or value – and no further teachings will follow (I’ve received nothing else from spambo – apart from BS – in the 5 years since I initiated with her). What you will do is lie on a dirt floor, bored, for the best part of a week and maybe if youre un/lucky (depending on your perspective) spambo may drop by a few times if she’s not too stoned to bore you still further with BS. If you’ve got a spare $2,500 lying around I cant think of a better way to waste it.”

Strong stuff. There are two ways you could look at this. Either Ross Heaven is a man of integrity who keeps getting mixed up with charlatans and con-men, or, he is a canny opportunist stirring up controversy to inflate his own status. Considering how little I know of these various controversies I’ll refrain from making any final judgements in the matter. Here you thought our Witch-Wars were bad!

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Jason Pitzl-Waters

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  • Anonymous

    If the guy’s passing it off as nonfiction when it’s not, then that’s definitely questionable.However, the whole POINT of ghostwriting is that the ghostwriter’s name isn’t mentioned anywhere! If Heaven wanted credit he should’ve arranged for coauthorship instead. Does he not know what ghostwriting means? I don’t get the impression that he was invited as a collaborator and then his name got dropped afterwards…

  • Anonymous

    I live in the UK and Ross Heaven is pretty well known as the ‘bad penny’ of shamanism over here and he has fallen out not only with his Vodou teacher Mambo Racine and with Simon Buxton but with many others too, including Howard Charing who was the co-author with Heaven of the new book Plant Spirit Shaman and Dr. Geo Cameron, the authority on celtic shamanism. That’s quite a pattern dontcha think? And anyway, the new paperback edition of Buxton’s book is just out, and carries no mention of Heaven – so his publishers have obvioulsy felt no obligation to associate him with it . My opinion? This guy Heaven is toxic.

  • Anonymous

    Strangely enough I’ve attended workshops with all of the people mentioned in the last post, with the exception of Racine.Geo Cameron is arrogant and bad-tempered and believes herself God’s gift to Celtic shamanism. She will vigorously attack anyone she believes is stepping on “her” turf (even though she’s never published a book so she actually doesn’t have a turf!)Howard G Charing is arrogant and goes beyond bad-tempered into outbursts of anger towards and in front of his students and has real control issues, including violently insulting a prominent shaman in the Amazon recently during an ayahuasca ceremony and alientating himself from the whole community. Simon Buxton is well known in shamanism as a plagiarist and a fantacist who is only in it for the money. He didn’t appear aggressive to me like the other two, more weak, insipid, and creepy. Ross Heaven, compared to that little lot, was like a saint on the workshop I went to, if only because he just got on with it, taught us some good techniques and insights and didn’t bring his own issues, ego, neediness, or dramas into the weekend.I don’t think Heaven has done himself any favours by getting tangled up with people like Buxton, Charing, and Cameron, because, of course, if you hang out with filth for long enough some of the dirt will attach itself to you, but I think it’s entirely wrong to call him a ‘bad penny’ when he has in fact disassociated himself from the frauds, conmen, and control freaks as soon as they revealed their true natures. Maybe he’s learned his lesson by getting himself taken out of Buxton’s softback book, which wouldn’t be that surprising either as it’s widely known that Buxton ripped it off from Heaven and took all the credit as well as wrongly presenting it as a true story when it is actually a work of fiction. My opinion? The previous poster seems to know a lot of toxic people. Heaven isn’t one of them.

  • Anonymous

    The last two posts are completely irrelevant as far as I’m concerned. Buxton is the issue here.If he’s been passing off a book as his own and grabbing credit for it when he didn’t write it, he needs to answer that allegation.And if the book’s real author claims it was made-up, not a true story as Buxton says it is, that’s another serious matter for Buxton to answer.If he answers neither charge, at the very least, he may be conning people out of the price of the book under false claims (which is fraud, I think), or even out of hundreds of pounds if they go on workshops with him as a consequence.What would answer this once and for all, is proof from Buxton that he wrote the whole book himself and proof that it relates his personal and real-life experiences.In the absence of either, Buyer Beware, and it doesn’t matter in the slightest who drew Buxton’s deceit to public attention. It’s still deceit.I notice that Buxton’s been very quiet about all of this, and as far as I know he’s offered neither of the proofs this matter needs in order to be resolved and his name to be cleared. I wonder why.

  • beewatcher

    Interesting and uncannily similar pattern of language use and angles of character assassination used in many of the pro-Heaven, anti-Buxton comments across message boards – my guess is that ‘Anonymous’ is an often used alias of Ross Heaven…

  • Runt-like Hungarian

    Stuff this for a game of dominoes! These guys can’t lose. They all get that wonderful thing called publicity. Shaman-wars are hitting the New age news, Big deal.One thing I’d like to know….about all of them…would any of them be shamans, I ask, if there was no-one there to watch them? no acolytes, no publishers, no fit birds, no Gods, no Spirits, nothing at all? Would they do all their magical spiritual stuff just for the sake of truth? Or just to make the dog smile….or some other worthwhile result? If they wouldn’t….then I wouldn’t recommend going to any of their workshops. But I bet the real answer would be no. They’re all in it for the bucks, guys! And the affirmations, and the fit birds! So go away. Be your own Shamans, your own counsel. All they’ll end up giving you is glamour, of one kind or another, and a wee hole in your credit-card.

  • Squit

    The world of Shamans is pretty small….the politics quite unbelievable!
    None of this surprises me and I find it very hard to work out what's going on, but I do know Ross Heaven and know that he met that teacher of his when he was a lad living near Wales. Fact.