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!

Jason Pitzl-Waters