Find out the latest indie author news. For FREE.


Christina Donnell
Encounters with Living Language
Encounters with Living Language: Surrendering to the Power of Words chronicles a series of illuminations occasioned by language and its deeper function in human awakening. Drawing from her experiences of ninety-two language illuminations and the subsequent changes in the structure and quality of her awareness, Christina reveals the unfolding of a transfiguration in perception through the embodiment of language. As sensory impressions of the spoken or written word deepened within her, thought gave way to direct perception, inner sensations yielded to a feeling of universal participation, and a level of awareness far beyond normal was revealed. No longer was there a self separate from other; as well, infinity and eternity had become physical realities. Encounters with Living Language provides a riveting account of these discoveries and an invitation for readers to welcome an embodied experience with living language and explore the dormant places within them still waiting to awaken. It is a hymn of love during these dark times, promising that through the metamorphosis ignited by words a new world is emerging quietly, unobtrusively, reconnecting human consciousness to the whole of life.
This consciousness-expanding title from Donnell (author of Transcendent Dreaming) digs into flashes of profound insight that might strike one while reading, those moments of revelatory connection to language and, perhaps, something else beyond it, such as the very “source from which words rise and return.” In short chapters Donnell, a clinical psychologist and spiritual seeker, chronicles the 92 “illuminations on language and its deeper function” that she experienced between 1997 and 2015, instances where the “sensory experience of the spoken and written word” becomes intense and transformative, often revealing “fresh truths from beyond.” She likens these experiences, documented in contemporaneous accounts collected here, to evolutionary mutation, finding in them “a progressive attunement with the greater universe.”

That sounds heady, but Donnell recounts her moments of illumination with inviting clarity and context, guiding readers through almost 20 years worth of these encounters with words, establishing how she arrived at each and what wisdom she now draws from it. Some insights are highly specific—she reports engaging in discussions with indigenous spirits, the disappearance of “the notion of a self separate from others,” and even, from her first encounter, a premonition of the sexual abuse scandal that would shake the Catholic Church. Others offer lessons that nudge readers, in a more general way, into the “infinite depth” of words, accessible when we stop “immediately conceptualizing rather than experiencing” them.

Donnell holds to no established spiritual dogma, drawing inspiration from Rilke and Eliot and Q’ero culture of the high Andes. She takes from her illuminations what she herself finds in them and demonstrates, in welcoming language, how readers can do the same. As a scientist, she approaches them in a systematic manner, breaking down how these “privileged moments” change both the “quality and the structure of awareness”—in other words, they heighten the senses while also pointing towards “a unification of all parts of awareness to form a total system.” Seekers and transcendent-minded readers will find Donnell’s accounts fascinating, and her example of growing with each “illumination” heartening.

Takeaway: Fascinating moments of transcendence, inspired by language, and insight into experiencing them.

Great for fans of: Neal Shubin’s The Universe Within, Joan Parisi Wilcox’s Masters of the Living Energy.

Production grades
Cover: B
Design and typography: A-
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A-
Marketing copy: A