Singing to the North Wind: The Calling of an Extraordinary Life

Title: Singing to the North Wind: The Calling of an Extraordinary Life
Publisher/Author: Susannah Ravenswing

Singing to the North Wind: The Calling to an Extraordinary Life is the autobiography of smith and shaman Susannah Ravenswing, author of The Duergarbok. An eARC was provided to me by the author. 

The book starts with a clarification of the author’s view of shamanism. There are three kinds of shamanism practiced by modern Westerners; her kind is Northern Tradition. She uses the term shaman rather than volva, seithkona, or spaekona because the general public knows the word shaman but not the other words. Ravenswing discusses shaman sickness, and how it sometimes appears similar to mental or physical illness. She says most Northern Tradition spirit workers are either neuroatypical, gender atypical, or have a mental or physical illness. Ravenswing has CAH, which caused her to be born intersex. She discusses how this has impacted her life throughout the book. Each chapter begins with an original poem related to the chapter’s contents. 

The biographical part of the book starts with a fascinating study in contrasts between awful childhood experiences with people versus poetic descriptions of nature and relationships with the spirits thereof. Many of the author’s childhood experiences had me nodding in recognition of the similarity with my own life, even though the details were different. The same happened with the interpretations about spirituality. 

The author moved to a city to be a professional smith, but eventually brought nature back into her life and literally lived her dream, using her psychic abilities to plan a home and communicate with the nature spiris there. It’s a beautiful story.

Ravenswing’s life history held my interest as she shifted from crafting to spirit working. She made that change both because of deepening religious practice and because aging affected her ability to do her craft. 

For readability, this book stands with similar biographies aimed at an average reader. Any unfamiliar terms and concepts are explained as they come up. A relatable autobiography filled with beautiful descriptions of nature, Singing to the North Wind tells many interesting stories about craft, gender, and spirituality. I recommend it for anyone interested in those topics. 

[Reviewed by Erin Lale.]