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    Graceful contemplations of the sacred and mysterious

    By NIELA M. ELIASON

    © St. Petersburg Times, published October 1, 2000


    Horn, the author of Native Heart, Contemplations of a Primal Mind and several children's books, wrote The Book of Ceremonies after the death of his wife, and in many ways it is a tribute to her and those "sacred and mysterious" connections.

    Just as Horn's wife was about to make her "great transition into the mystery," she told her husband that he would write another book and the letter "C" would be in the title. She died two days later of breast cancer.

    A year later, the publisher of the New World Library called Horn and said that he had dreamed of a book by Horn with a "large crescent-moon "C' in the title." In his dream, he could read the title: The Book of Ceremonies. It was, however, another year before Horn could find the voice to write.

    The result is a book of contemplations on different topics, such as love, marriage and divorce, birth and death, dreams and visions, seasons and healing. Horn's voice is graceful and elegant, and his concern for both humans and for the natural world is predominant.

    Although times have changed, "certain elements of the human condition have not," writes Horn, who teaches writing, literature and Native American philosophy at St. Petersburg Junior College. "Many are now seeking to satisfy their need for ceremony once again. Something sacred and mysterious connects us all."

    Many of the essays concern older women and their wisdom. One of these women counsels a young couple about to be married.

    "Be kind to each other," she says, as though speaking from the generations before her, "for it's really such a short journey after all."

    The essays and poems in this collection, which would make a good gift book, are meaningful, and the American Indian tone is meditative and enriching. Even the cover, in dark colors and smooth to the hand, encourages contemplation.

    Of special note is the artwork in The Book of Ceremonies. It was done by Horn's 18-year-old son, Carises, who has been drawing since he was old enough to hold a pen. By the time he was 11, Carises had done artwork for the walls and new publications of the Dolphin Research Center in the Florida Keys. He now is a drummer with the band Sundog and attends St. Petersburg Junior College. His drawings add charm and delight to his father's words.

    Niela Eliason is a St. Petersburg writer.

    Festival author

    Gabriel Horn will be among the authors participating at the Times Festival of Reading on Nov. 11-12 on the Eckerd College campus.

    THE BOOK OF CEREMONIES:

    A Native Way of Honoring and Living the Sacred

    By Gabriel Horn

    New World Library, $20

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