Tamed by a Bear
Coming Home to Nature-Spirit-Self
Counterpoint Press, 2017
What if your still small voice had a name? In this memoir of one transformative year, a scholar of religion comes to know her spirit helper as a jovial and affectionate Bear. Through shamanic-style journeys, Bear nudges her toward joy and offers gentle wisdom for navigating life’s rough patches. Their heart-opening conversations suggest that overcoming humans’ separation from nature requires a reinvigorating of nature spirituality in everyday life. Tamed by a Bear shows one person responding to the call of her heart, which is also the call of Earth to all human beings today: to listen to a more-than-human wisdom in order to address the social and environmental crises born of our separation from nature. For those wishing to grow in love and in their ability to hear the quiet voice of spirit.
Praise for Tamed by a Bear
“Stuckey’s book teaches me to pay attention to the other beings accompanying us on our daily journeys. Whether we listen to their voices or not will make the difference in our future together.” —BOULDER DAILY CAMERA
“Many seek deeper self-understanding and want to live sustainably with nature. Through dialogue, the author’s new-found spirit helper, named Bear, has been guiding her toward a nature-based spirituality.” —ALBUQUERQUE JOURNAL
“Writer and religious studies professor Stuckey draws on wisdom learned from nature about how to listen and trust our own perceptions more deeply.” —PUBLISHERS WEEKLY
“Dialogue is a staple format in mystical writings, and for good reason. Whether we’re eavesdropping on Arjuna and Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita or the pilgrim and his staretz in Way of a Pilgrim, the conversations can start to feel personal, because in a very real sense, Arjuna is a stand-in for you and me; his questions are uncannily close to the ones we ourselves would raise if we could. Taking up a shamanic practice brought Priscilla Stuckey to the infinitely wise and tender teacher she calls, simply, ‘Bear.’ Their conversations, recorded in Stuckey’s lovely new book, prove definitively that the mystical dialogue is alive and well. More than that, they demonstrate the age-old power of the format itself—to draw us in and make us feel that Bear is our teacher too—our staretz, our Krishna.” —CAROL LEE FLINDERS, author of Enduring Grace: Living Portraits of Seven Women Mystics
“Priscilla presents an unfolding universe that protects the life within it, a world in which we humans can find our own point of connection, a world where a bear can bring forward understanding. With wisdom and a sweet tempo, Priscilla shares her process of trust and receiving through a beautifully envisaged and shaped journey.” —JOANIE CLINGAN, PHD, Prescott College, Faculty Emeritus in Sustainability Education and Arts & Humanities
“An openhearted, playful account of learning to listen to the wisdom of interconnection.” —ELIZABETH ENSLIN, author of While the Gods Were Sleeping: A Journey Through Love and Rebellion in Nepal
“Not only will this book change the way you see the world, it will change your life. With artistry, mastery, and patience, Priscilla Stuckey, along with the help of Bear, breaks through the barriers of the skeptical mind and invites the reader to share in the intimate dialogue between a human and their unseen Helper. This book is not another philosophical discourse on the relationship between nature and spirit. Nor is it an abstract discussion about the value of invisible realities. Rather, it is a love story between two very real beings, who together will open both your heart and mind.” —BETSY PERLUSS, PHD, Wilderness Guide, School of Lost Borders
“In Tamed by a Bear, Priscilla Stuckey chronicles her journey into the heart of this numinous living world, guided by a stunningly wise and delightfully down-to-earth bear spirit. This story is an extraordinary and courageous gift, full of wisdom riding on the shoulders of joy. And of course, as Bear says, love, the thing we humans do best, and which we need so much more of, especially now. May we all learn to listen to the rich wisdom of nature and spirit, and may we all find more joy, wonder, trust, and, yes, love along the way, as Stuckey has with Bear.” —SUSAN J. TWEIT, author of Walking Nature Home: A Life’s Journey
“What affinities does Tamed by a Bear have with other works of spiritual seeking and connection? Purge the hallucinogens from Carlos Castaneda’s The Teachings of Don Juan, and you might approximate it. Or perhaps it comes close to a nonfiction version of Daniel Quinn’s Ishmael, with a playful bear as a guide, not a Socratic gorilla, of course. In the end, Tamed by a Bear may be in a category all its own, an account both personal and heartfelt about the author’s journey to listen more fully to the voice within and the world without, even when that means—especially when that means—letting go of the known for uncharted territory. The reader may walk away with the feeling that the material and the spiritual are not so far apart as most of us think; as Bear admonishes: ‘It’s not necessary to divide things up that way.’” —GAVIN VAN HORN, Center for Humans and Nature, coeditor of City Creatures: Animal Encounters in the Chicago Wilderness
“In Priscilla Stuckey’s latest book, we are warmly encouraged to enjoy rearranging our lives to honour our relations in the larger-than-human world. This is not another DIY shamanism or self-help manual. It is an intimate reflection on listening, on trusting our senses, on being in the world. It is about rooting ourselves in concern for well-being for everyone we know and encounter, including ourselves.” —GRAHAM HARVEY, Open University, UK, author of Animism: Respecting the Living World and editor of Shamanism: A Reader
“‘One doesn’t have to feel clear to be of great value and make a great contribution. One only needs to be malleable.’ So says Bear, the spirit Helper of a wryly skeptical narrator struggling to find a path forward when doors seem to be slamming closed around her. The fundamental inseparability of spirit and nature imbues Bear’s gentle teachings. Every page of this book sparkles with wise, clear, profoundly important insight that will resonate with anyone seeking reconciliation and communion with the Earth community. This is not spiritual wisdom by proclamation from on high, but spiritual wisdom earned by quieting enough to receive guidance from within and without. In a time when technological clamor threatens to overwhelm our lives and devastate the planet, Priscilla Stuckey offers a simple, but not easy, path forward through the noise. This is essential reading for any spiritual or ecological warrior.” —ELIZABETH ALLISON, PhD, Founder and Chair of the Ecology, Spirituality, and Religion graduate program, California Institute of Integral Studies
“Priscilla Stuckey shines a brilliant light on the relationship we long to cultivate with the deepest wellsprings of our wisdom and love. With Bear, her animal Helper, she shares her journey to a life of communion between spirit and our physical nature. This is a groundbreaking book, written with extraordinary clarity, beauty, and radical honesty.” —GAIL D. STOREY, author of I Promise Not to Suffer: A Fool for Love Hikes the Pacific Crest Trail, winner of the National Outdoor Book Award
“In Kissed by a Fox, Priscilla Stuckey explored the relationships between the human world and the natural world. Now, in Tamed by a Bear, she takes a radical step further as she engages a spirit animal Helper. Whether you ‘believe’ in the shamanic realm or are a skeptic, the insights Stuckey reaches along the way are compelling indeed. She and her Helper clearly and unequivocally convey the message that we must move from an attitude of using to loving. Best of all, Tamed by a Bear is an exquisitely written book. The writing carries the reader along, with ‘oohs’ and ‘ahs’ as the author pens one beautiful turn of phrase after another. Her story—both the outer story of her search for a new place to live and the inner one of her journey to come home to herself—is told in a powerful narrative you won’t soon forget.” —LINDA TATE, author of Power in the Blood: A Family Narrative
“As Priscilla finds her path unfolding, one step at a time, we too are shown how to listen deeply and find more acceptance and joy … and a deeper relationship with all of life. This book is warm, engaging, and wise. A journey worth taking.” —RIVVY NESHAMA, author of award-winning Recipes for a Sacred Life: True Stories and a Few Miracles
“Tamed by a Bear is an adventure story, about an inner journey available to us all. Author Priscilla Stuckey shares with honesty and insight her relationship with Bear, the spirit guide and helper who appears in her inner world to teach her about the things we need to know most: joy, relationship, receiving help, and welcoming the adventure or everyday life. Her stories delight and challenge us to consider the inter-beingness of reality and the wealth of support and guidance that is available to us all. It lifted me, reminded me of what I thought I could never forget. And I am grateful.” —ORIAH “MOUNTAIN DREAMER” HOUSE, author of The Invitation
Priscilla is a writer and spiritual counselor with a passion for reconnecting people with nature. She received a PhD in religious studies from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley and has taught graduate-level environmental humanities, feminist studies, critical thinking, and thesis writing at Prescott College in Prescott, AZ, and Naropa University in Boulder, CO.
Nature advocacy started for her many years ago in Oakland, where she founded a small nonprofit land trust to preserve a nearby creek. In various communities where she has lived, she has cleaned and restored urban creeks, fed baby birds in wildlife rehab, and cofounded a local rights-of-nature group.
Her first book, Kissed by a Fox: And Other Stories of Friendship in Nature (Counterpoint, 2012), won the WILLA Award for Creative Nonfiction. Tamed by a Bear: Coming Home to Nature-Spirit-Self (Counterpoint Press, 2017) is a spiritual memoir of the first year of listening to Spirit’s voice through shamanic-style journeys.
She and her partner, Tim, live on Maui, where they are learning to know the life in the sea.