Spotlight: Farming Soul

Whilst this isn’t my particular cup of tea, I am more than happy to share a spotlight on something that perhaps one of you might enjoy.


Title: Farming Soul
Genre/Keywords: Non-Fiction
Length: 207 pages (ebook) | 184 pages (paperback)
Publisher: Leaping Goat Press
Release date: July 15, 2014 (ebook) | July 4, 2014 (paperback)
ISBN-10: 0991309820
ISBN-13: 978-0991309825
Extras: Goodreads
Purchase: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | iBooks

Book Summary:

Robert Sardello described this as a “feast of a book” (from his Foreword to the forthcoming second edition). The story/memoir is one in which I bring together paths of spiritual, ecological, and psychological exploration, paths questioning the assumptions of psychology since the 1900s.

One thread of Farming Soul follows my professional path to becoming a Jungian analyst—a path filled with critical review committees, possessive therapists, and unexpected teachers. It offers perspective on the complicated dynamic of therapist/patient bond and individuation, and a personal account of when one must step out on one’s own.

Another thread is about rediscovering my connection to the earth—a path into subtle energy through Biodynamic agriculture and the philosophy of Rudolph Steiner. This path contains continual echoes of my childhood on a Midwestern farm. It integrates stories from across a lifetime—six generations in working the land— and the reclaiming of my connection to the soil I inhabit.


Reviews of Farming Soul:

“A brilliant autobiographical account of the author’s individuation process. The depth and insightfulness of Damery’s book should be the standard for all autobiographies in the future.”
– Amazon review by Thomas Beyerley

“Patricia Damery has provided us with a source book of the many pearls of wisdom and insight that the great Carl Jung left as his legacy. She not only re-awakens us to the many forgotten aspects (or historically rejected aspects) of his teachings, but she also takes us on her own journey to individuation that she as a Jungian analyst has taken.”
– Amazon review by Grady Harp, Author of War Songs.

“Patricia Damery leads us on the journey of her own soul and spiritual development, exhibiting courage and integrity. A significant part of that journey includes her practice of biodynamic farming which as a basic tenet seeks to develop one’s farm as a unique individuality. As she develops her own individuation in our human task here on Mother Earth of integrating body, soul, and spirit, she experiences at the same time an awakening to the individuality of her farm.  I can highly recommend this book not only for those in the professions of psychology and psychiatry, but also for the grower or farmer contemplating or already practicing biodynamic agriculture. No other book available describes so well the positive spiritual consequences when one practices biodynamic agriculture.”
– Hugh J. Courtney – founder of Josephine Porter Institute for Applied Biodynamics, Inc. and Earth Legacy Agriculture LLC.

“This is an unusual account of one individual’s efforts to learn to apply a native gift for sensing the emergent irrational to the disciplines of depth psychotherapy and Native American healing.  Patricia Damery’s memoir details how, inspired by the experience of tending an organic farm, she learned to live with the power of this intelligence and apply it responsibly to healing endeavors.  In part a cautionary tale, Damery’s story reveals what can happen when professional training does not entirely validate one’s natural way of using one’s heart and mind.  Not every therapist who reads this book will have had to take such an arduous journey to self-affirmation, but to anyone in the healing professions who has wondered whether it is possible for a wounded healer to be healed, Damery’s story will lend considerable comfort.”
– John Beebe, MD, author of Integrity in Depth

“In Farming Soul, Damery offers an intimate account of her quest to follow her inner voice amidst the Paths she treads. Farming Soul will inspire all who seek the richness of an examined life. Damery’s writings invite us to go deeper into silence, connect more with our intuitive nature, and expand into the ecological world we inhabit. It is a hopeful account of cultivating a consciousness that will tend the needs of our planet and our future.”
Melissa McLaughlin, MBA,  Marketing Director, Harms Vineyards and Lavender Fields.

“On rare occasions in my own life, I have had… “teaching dreams,” nighttime dreams in which I experienced a teacher of guide who seemed to be explaining some aspect of consciousness or understanding that could help me transform, transcending my everyday ego self. Indeed, this book conveyed a similar feeling, as if Damery herself appeared in my sphere of consciousness to guide me on a path toward greater illumination by showing me the landscape she herself has traversed.”
– From review, “The Alchemy of Individuation,” Jung Journal: Culture and Psyche,by Bonnie Bright, founder of Depth Psychology Alliance.

Excerpt from "The French Executioner" by C.C. Humphreys

– one –

The Gibbet

It was unseasonably cold for a late May night, but the gibbet’s former occupant was too dead to care and his replacement too unconscious. It was the three men-­at-­arms who grumbled about it, and though the removal of the skeleton from the torso-­shaped cage required some strenuous snapping and pulling, they were not grateful for the warmth of the exercise. With their prisoner finally wedged in and the cage’s key replaced on its hook, they returned to their horses. Pressing themselves against the warm flanks, the soldiers brushed the gibbet’s leavings from their cloaks, and grumbled still.

“Such a beautiful night.” The voice came silky and warm from beneath folds of cloak and fur, the breath a steady stream into the frosty air. “Look, a comet! In Siena we’d say: there’s another virginity gone.”

There was a laugh, as silken as the voice, followed by a cough. A piece of red cloth dabbed at the lips.

Heinrich von Solingen turned toward the man who had just spoken, the man whose every command he obeyed. Heinrich was confused. He liked things ordered and simple. They had gotten what His Holiness wanted. Wrapped in velvet, it rested now in His Holiness’s saddlebags. Confusion made him angry and bold enough to question.

“I don’t see why we are here, my lord. Why didn’t we just kill the Frenchman back at the inn?”

“I think you tried, didn’t you?”

“I mean after, when he was unconscious.”

The smaller figure shifted in his saddle. Moonlight fell on a sharp forehead, a long straight nose, fleshy lips. There was a touch of something sad in the silkiness now.

“Really, after what he did, we should have tried him as a heretic then given him to God’s redeeming fire. Alas, the time is not right for his story to be told abroad. So we give him here, into God’s hands.”

“But my lord archbishop—­”

The blow surprised Heinrich because the Italian was neither young nor, he thought, especially strong. Pain contradicted that impression.

“I’ve warned you about using my title in a public place.”

“I am sorry, my lord, but there is only the prisoner and my men—­”

The hand emerged again from within the cloak and moonlight glinted on heavy rings, which explained the blood now running down Heinrich’s chin.

“Enough! You are a fool and I another to let you question me. There may be a gibbet keeper nearby who would recognize the rank. And your men did not know it till now. I must think. Get them to find the keeper.”

A curt command and the three soldiers began to search where they could, yet there was little there: a bare crossroads a league beyond a village with neither tree nor bush nearby. Little for the full moon to shine upon but the dangling, vaguely human iron form, the crossbeamed support and the midden of gibbet filth on which, in six parts now, sprawled the cage’s last tenant.

The men reported their failure.

“Very well.” The Italian coughed, a gout of blood caught in the swiftly raised cloth. There was little he could do now; and even if the keeper did lurk and had somehow heard Heinrich’s indiscretion…Well, how could a creature of such an occupation threaten a prince of the Holy Church?

Giancarlo Cibo, Archbishop of Siena, decided he could take the risk. He didn’t take many—­it was how he survived the hurly-­burly of life back in Italy after all. He wouldn’t take another with Heinrich’s men. Heinrich would have to deal with them himself, later, a fitting punishment for his indiscretion. Perhaps incorporating some unusual methods. The archbishop would like to see that. It would truly upset the surly German. The archbishop would like to see that too.

“Put double the usual coins in the offertory. Let’s pay the keeper well,” he said, all silk and smoothness again.

Ducats were dropped into a small box at the base of the gibbet, and Heinrich went back to join his men. There he listened to his blood drip onto the pommel of his saddle, kept his silence, and watched from a distance as the archbishop pushed his horse right up to the gibbet.

The Italian leaned forward until it looked as if he was almost kissing the cage’s iron-­slatted face. Until he could feel the breath of the man inside on his own lips. The man’s breathing was erratic; Heinrich’s men had beaten him badly when they finally felled him. Not surprising, as the Frenchman had killed two of their number and incapacitated two more, his strange, square-­headed sword dancing graceful and deadly among the suddenly leaden-­footed Germans. Heinrich had said it was an executioner’s sword, much favored in France as a more humane way of dispatching traitors, if their rank and purses deserved it. The sword would make a fine trophy on his palace wall, for he knew just whose neck had last been severed with it. A neck and something far more unusual—­a six-­fingered hand.

“Why did you do it, Jean?” Cibo whispered into the cage. “A belief that it could heal, like the bones of St. Agnes? Is that what you thought she was, Jean, a saint and martyr for the new religion? Or was it gold? The most powerful relic in the world would have fetched more than you could have earned in a lifetime of head taking.”

The unconscious man had no answer for him, beyond his shallow breaths. The archbishop studied the face before him. Features somewhat finer than was common among the French, a smaller nose, thick black hair now slick with the blood and sweat of the fight. It was ordinary. He was always surprised when ordinary men did extraordinary things.

“I do wonder about you, Jean. Sadly, I will never know. But it’s mine now, a greater weapon than any executioner’s sword for myself and for Mother Church. We’ll have to see how best we two can use it.”

And with that, Cibo turned his horse and broke straight into a gallop. He was proud of his horsemanship and his steeds were trained to respond to his instant whim. The Germans were surprised and, with Heinrich bellowing orders, followed as swiftly as they were able.

Such was the speed of their departure, such their pleasure in forsaking that dismal place, that no one even glanced back at the gibbet cage and its new occupant. If they had, they would have seen that the first effects of their beating had worn off.

Jean Rombaud, master executioner and recent slayer of Anne Boleyn, had woken up.

The French Executioner [Review]

If you ask any Tudorphile the significance of 19th May 1536, they may react with a smile or with a sigh. Queen Anne Boleyn was executed on Tower Green. She, the woman who Bluff King Hal moved heaven and earth to claim for his second wife, was beheaded by a French swordsman. It seems strangely fitting for a woman who in her life seemed more French than English. However, the charges against her were false yet as she stood on the scaffold, Anne Boleyn was gracious and kind. She beseeches everyone to honour the king, forgave the executioner who found himself so moved that he distracted her so that she would not know when he would strike.

And strike he did.

However, it was not just one strike. It was two. Not only did her head come off; so did her hand. The hand with the sixth finger.

Yes, you read right. In this novel, Anne did indeed have six fingers and she was also a witch. If you’re a hardcore history fan, unwilling to read such things, then you’ll likely want to stop right here. However, the book is fiction and in that, fantasy. There’s a few other mentions of things about Anne that have long since debunked. However, if you’re willing to look past all of that, you’ll be in for a good right. Granted, there are moments where it’s dreadfully slow and you might be wondering, “Why am I continuing on?” But then it picks up and you forget that the thought crossed your mind.

Admittedly, I would have liked a bit more history in it. When Anne Boleyn herself is plastered upon the front cover, you expect to have more of her in it. Sadly, she is cut short, just as she was in real life. The rest is basically trying to get her hand back, to do Anne’s bidding and avoid getting killed. That’s the sum of it, in my opinion. So it can be disappointing if you’re expecting one thing but you get another.

I rather enjoyed the book overall; it was adventure packed, dramatic save for a few spots where it was dry and I kind of wished I skipped ahead. I stayed the course, however, and ultimately am glad that I did, merely because I think Jean got somewhat of a happy ending. If there is a series, I’m on the fence if I will continue on, but you never know! If you enjoy adventure and sword-fights and fantasy, you’ll really enjoy this.

Guest Post by C.C. Humphreys!

WHY WRITE A NOVEL ABOUT THE MAN WHO KILLED ANNE BOLEYN? Where do the ideas for novels come from?

I remember exactly what I was doing when the idea for The French Executioner hit me like a bolt of lightning. I was working out.

I was living in Vancouver at the time. Making my living as an actor. I’d written a couple of plays. But my dream from childhood had always been to write historical fiction.

I wasn’t thinking of any of that, on that day in a gym in 1993. I was thinking about shoulder presses. Checking my form in the mirror.

This is what happened. (It also shows you the rather strange associations in my brain!)

I lift the weight bar.

Me, in my head. ‘God, I’ve got a long neck.’

Lower bar.

‘If I was ever executed,’ – Raise bar – ‘it would be a really easy shot for the ax.’

Lower bar.

‘Or the sword. Because, of course, Anne Boleyn was executed with a sword.’

Raise bar. Stop half way.

‘Anne Boleyn had six fingers on one hand.’


Flash! Boom! Put down bar before I drop it. It came together in my head, as one thing: the executioner, brought from France to do the deed, (I remembered that from school). Not just taking her head. Taking her hand as well, that infamous hand – and then the question all writers have to ask: what happened next?


I scurried to the library. Took out books. I knew it had to be a novel. I did some research, sketched a few ideas. But the problem was, I wasn’t a novelist. A play had seemed like a hill. A novel – well, it was a mountain, and I wasn’t ready to climb it. So I dreamed a while, then quietly put all my research, sketches, notes away.

But I never stopped thinking about it. The story kept coming and whenever I was in a second hand bookstore I’d study the history shelves and think: if ever I write that novel – which I probably never will – I’ll want… a battle at sea between slave galleys. So I’d buy a book on that subject, read it. Buy another, read it.

November 1999. Six years after being struck by lightning. I’m living back in England and I find a book on sixteenth century mercenaries – and I knew the novel I was never going to write would have mercenaries. Twenty pages in, I turn to my wife and say: “You know, I think I’m going to write that book.” And she replies, “It’s about bloody time.”

I wrote. The story, all that research, had stewed in my head for so long, it just poured out. Ten months and I was done. I wondered if it was any good. I sent it to an agent. She took me on and had it sold three months later.

I was a novelist after all.

In continuation with sharing poems I like, today’s sonnet is from John Donne. I first heard this poem recited in an HBO movie production called ‘Wit’. It was such a moving movie and I haven’t seen the play, unfortunately. The synopsis is that the action of the play takes place during the final hours of Dr. Vivian Bearing, a university professor of English, dying of ovarian cancer. She recalls the initial diagnosis of Stage IV metastatic ovarian cancer from her oncologist, Dr Harvey Kelekian. Dr Kelekian then proposes an experimental chemotherapeutic treatment regimen consisting of eight rounds at full dosage. Vivian agrees to the treatment.

Over the course of the play, Vivian reflects on her life through the intricacies of the English language, especially the use of wit in the metaphysical poetry of John Donne. Throughout the play, she recites Donne’s Holy Sonnet X, “Death Be Not Proud,” while reflecting upon her condition. (In the revised edition of John Donne’s Holy Sonnets, “If Poysonous Mineralls” and “Death Be Not Proud” are sonnets IX and X, respectively.) As a professor, she has a reputation for rigorous teaching methods. She has lived her life alone, is unmarried and without children, her parents are deceased, and she has no emergency contact.

Vivian recalls undergoing tests by various medical technicians and being the subject of grand rounds. She remembers sharing a love of language and books with her father. She flashes back to her experiences as a student of Dr E. M. Ashford, an expert on John Donne. Bearing later finds herself under the care of Dr Jason Posner, an oncology research fellow who has taken her class on John Donne. At the hospital, she recognizes that doctors are interested in her for her research value and, like her, tend to ignore humanity in favor of knowledge. Gradually, she realizes that she would prefer kindness to intellectualism.

Vivian reaches the end stage in extreme pain as Susie Monahan, a nurse at the medical centre, offers Vivian compassion and discusses with her the option of exercising her final option, “do not resuscitate” (DNR), in case of a severe decline in her condition. Vivian decides to mark the DNR option. Dr Ashford, in town for her great-grandson’s birthday, visits the hospital after learning of Vivian’s cancer. She comforts her and offers to read a Donne sonnet, but Vivian, scarcely conscious, declines. Instead, Ashford reads from Margaret Wise Brown’s The Runaway Bunny, which she had bought for her great-grandson.

When Vivian flatlines, Jason tries to resuscitate her, and calls in a medical team to administer CPR. Susie tries to stop him, pointing out the DNR instruction. Jason eventually realizes his mistake and calls for the CPR team to stop. The play ends as Vivian, unclothed after her death, walks from her hospital bed “toward a little light”. (Courtesy of Wikipedia.)


However, Emma Thompson was in the movie and as always…she was simply stunning and moving. Below I’ve included the video of her voice over. However, here is the text…I hope that you enjoy it and you really think about the meaning of the words. It’s very, very deep and exceptionally moving. Thought provoking! That’s the term I was looking for.

Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;
For those whom thou think’st thou dost overthrow,
Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be,
Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee do go,
Rest of their bones, and soul’s delivery.
Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell;
And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well
And better than thy stroke; why swell’st thou then?
One short sleep past, we wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.


Spotlight: The Bitter Trade

Please join Piers Alexander as he tours the blogosphere with HF Virtual Book Tours for The Bitter Trade, from October 13 – November 14.

02_The Bitter Trade

Publication Date: April 7, 2014


Formats: eBook, Paperback; 448p

Genre: Historical Adventure/Thriller


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Read an Excerpt. Listen to an Excerpt.

In 1688, torn by rebellions, England lives under the threat of a Dutch invasion. Redheaded Calumny Spinks is the lowliest man in an Essex backwater: half-French and still unapprenticed at seventeen, yet he dreams of wealth and title.

When his father’s violent past resurfaces, Calumny’s desperation leads him to flee to London and become a coffee racketeer. He has just three months to pay off a blackmailer and save his father’s life – but his ambition and talent for mimicry pull him into a conspiracy against the King himself. Cal’s journey takes him from the tough life of Huguenot silk weavers to the vicious intrigues at Court. As the illicit trader Benjamin de Corvis and his controlling daughter Emilia pull him into their plots, and his lover Violet Fintry is threatened by impending war, Cal is forced to choose between his conscience and his dream of becoming Mister Calumny Spinks.

The Bitter Trade won the PEN Factor at The Literary Consultancy’s Writing In A Digital Age Conference. Jury Chair Rebecca Swift (Author, Poetic Lives: Dickinson) said: “The Pen Factor jury selected The Bitter Trade based on the quality of writing, the engaging plot, and the rich and unusual historical context. Dazzling and playful!”

Praise for The Bitter Trade

“A fantastic debut novel” – Robert Elms, BBC Radio London

“The ambitious, cheeky Calumny Spinks is a great guide through the sensory overload of 17th century London, in an adventure that combines unexpected insights with just the right amount of rollicking ribaldry. I hope it’s the opener to a series.” – Christopher Fowler, author of the Bryant and May novels

“This debut novel is a gripping evocation of late seventeenth century London, rich in persuasive dialect and period detail and with a bold protagonist. An unusual thriller that just keeps you wanting to know more about the many facets of this story. You’ll never view your coffee in quite the same way again.” – Daniel Pembrey, bestselling author of The Candidate

“A very exciting and superbly researched novel” – Mel Ulm, The Reading Life

Buy the Book

Amazon UK (Paperback)

Amazon US (Kindle)

Barnes & Noble (Nook)



About the Author03_Piers Alexander

Piers Alexander is an author and serial entrepreneur. After a successful career as CEO of media and events companies he became a Co-Founder and Chairman of three start-up businesses. In 2013 he was awarded the PEN Factor Prize for The Bitter Trade. He is currently working on the sequel, Scatterwood, set in Jamaica in 1692.

For more information visit Piers Alexander’s website. You can also find him on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

The Bitter Trade Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, October 13

Review at Back Porchervations

Spotlight at Literary Chanteuse

Tuesday, October 14

Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Wednesday, October 15

Interview at Back Porchervations

Guest Post at Historical Tapestry

Thursday, October 16

Spotlight & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages

Monday, October 20

Review at Flashlight Commentary

Tuesday, October 21

Review at Oh, For the Hook of a Book!

Wednesday, October 22

Interview at Oh, For the Hook of a Book!

Thursday, October 23

Guest Post at Historical Fiction Connection

Tuesday, October 28

Spotlight at What Is That Book About

Wednesday, October 29

Spotlight at Unshelfish

Thursday, October 30

Review at Broken Teepee

Saturday, November 1

Review at With Her Nose Stuck in a Book

Monday, November 3

Review at Book by Book

Review & Interview at Dab of Darkness

Tuesday, November 4

Review at Just One More Chapter

Spotlight at CelticLady’s Reviews

Wednesday, November 5

Review at Turning the Pages

Guest Post at Just One More Chapter

Thursday, November 6

Spotlight at Let Them Read Books

Monday, November 10

Review at A Book Geek

Tuesday, November 11

Review at Book Nerd

Wednesday, November 12

Spotlight at Layered Pages

Friday, November 14

Review at Anglers Rest

Review & Giveaway at Booklover Book Reviews

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