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Unconventional Means: The Dream Down Under
Original trade paperback | 236 pages | June 2005 | ISBN 9781597190015
The Pearlsong Press edition of Unconventional Means is a revised & updated second edition of the 2000 In Circle Press edition.
Shattered by family tragedy in the early 1960s, an upper-middle-class Southern teenager finds solace in art and literature. Decades later, she is called to the continent whose literature comforted her, and to a magical connection with an Aboriginal woman transcending race and half a world.
In her authentic voice, Anne Williams takes us on a personal and yet universal journey to Australian sacred sites and into ancient sacred stories that still contain powerful medicine. Move across a world and a continent as two women, one American and one Australian, describe their reality in language that stirs your heart. Travel becomes adventure and life becomes the journey.
Anne Williams captures the art of the quest, showing how even perplexing or painful experiences can be ultimately understood as a necessary part of the soul's journey.
Unconventional Means: The Dream Down Under is a tapestry of stories woven together with reverence for the more subtle, intuitive realms of our nature. The author's connection with Lorraine Mafi-Williams, an Aboriginal elder, awakens the reader to honor our shared humanity. We are reminded of the vast inner world that connects each of us and is often forgotten or dismissed in our modern culture.
Anne's journey speaks to our universal need for healing the rift between the masculine and feminine in order to realize divine union within our own hearts. With vivid images that capture your imagination and take you there, she has painted a story within a story about opening up and trusting the essence of who we truly are.
The ebook edition of Unconventional Means contains the complete text of the original trade paperback, with color versions of the illustrations substituted for the black & white illustrations of the paperback. The ebook also contains a bonus section featuring color snapshots related to Anne's journey.
A spiritual travelogue & unconventional memoir
The essence of Unconventional Means is captured by its front cover. Ayers Rock, Australia's most famous natural landmark, is superimposed on a middle Tennessee landscape like a portal from Music City to the Land Down Under.
It's a surrealistic image, befitting the true story of a woman whose dreams, visions, meditation and intuition drew her halfway around the world and across a continent to find the Aboriginal woman whose ancient stories of a land and its people would help heal her.
Artist Anne Richardson Williams originally published Unconventional Means in 2000 through her own In Circle Press. Nashville's Pearlsong Press is published a revised and updated second edition in June 2005. The new edition contains additional illustrations, a glossary, and an update on events occurring since the first edition was released.
At the encouragement of Pearlsong Press editor and publisher Peggy Elam, Ph.D., Williams also added to the second edition text bridging the first section's account of her teenage attempts to cope with family tragedy through art and reading, eventually finding solace in a novel set in Australia, and her call to Australia decades later as she approached her 50th birthday.
Midwest Book Review called the first edition "a unique and moving work....a singularly unforgettable read." The second edition magnifies that promise.
"Anne Williams has written an intelligent, lyrical and inspirational tale about her excursion into the outbacks of Australia and of her soul," Steven McFadden, author of Legend of the Rainbow Warriors, said of the second edition. "The true story of her pilgrimage is beautifully and directly told, creating a literary roadmap of trust that readers might learn how one soul navigated unconventional—but vital—pathways forward."
PRAISE for Unconventional Means
"The author paints with her word a fascinating country, one most will never see. Her vision is interwoven with metaphysical beliefs and tales of ancient people, and she is more open to most to the 'coincidences' of life. Animals, dreams, people, images all have meaning and messages that apply to her quest."
from the Story Circle Network review by
Linda C. Wisniewski
Off Kilter: A Woman's Journey to Peace with Scoliosis, Her Mother, & Her Polish Heritage
Steven McFadden, author of Legend of the Rainbow Warriors (a revised edition of which was published in 2005), read the galley of Anne Richardson Williams' Unconventional Means: The Dream Down Under, the second edition of which was published by Pearlsong Press in June 2005.
It was a photo of aboriginal elder Lorraine Mafi-Williams, also known as "Alinta, Woman of Fire," in McFadden's 1992 book Ancient Voices, Current Affairs: Legend of the Rainbow Warriors that called to Anne so strongly that she ended up traveling halfway around the world to find her.
The revised & updated Pearlsong Press edition of Unconventional Means contains new material bridging Anne's childhood attraction to Australia, which developed after the heroine's journey in Nevil Shute's A Town Like Alice helped Anne cope with personal tragedy, with the adult events that precipitated her to the Land Down Under. The Pearlsong Press edition also contains a touching update to the original narrative.
Here's what Steven McFadden had to say about the second edition of Unconventional Means:
"Yesterday I put a double CD of "Four Bach Orchestral Suites" on the stereo, pushed the play button and sat down at my desk with the galley for Unconventional Means. It was a pleasure and a wonder to page along, and to re-read the story. Beautifully done. The typography and layout of the pages are a perfect compliment. I had a happy afternoon taking the journey again page by page and scene by scene. My sincere thanks for giving me a chance to take this meaningful reading pilgrimage with you, and to remember Alinta.
"Incidentally, I happened to catch an episode of the CBS TV series 'Survivor' earlier this week. It seems one of the teams on the show is called 'Alinta.' Hmmmm?
"At any rate, you are welcome to use any of this e-mail for the blurb, as suits the purpose. Here's an official attempt at blurbage:
"Anne Williams has written an intelligent, lyrical and inspirational tale about her excursion into the outbacks of Australia and of her soul. The true story of her pilgrimage is beautifully and directly told, creating a literary roadmap of trust that readers might learn how one soul navigated unconventional—but vital—pathways forward."
Author, Legend of the Rainbow Warriors
Director, Chiron Communications
Review of the 2000 In Circle Press edition of Unconventional Means
A Journey of Transformation
Michael White of Brush Creek, TN
In Australia there is a very famous rock known as Uluru, a monolithic red sandstone boulder of a mountain that shoots up out of the desert plain. In the evening as the sun is setting it glows radiant red, like an ember. It is one of the sacred sites of the Aboriginal peoples, who still use it as a place of pilgrimage and ceremony.
Unconventional Means is the story of a pilgrimage to that stone and, with that, a pilgrimage to the aboriginal places that lay veiled under the veneer of western, modern life in America. It is the real life adventure of a woman who is unafraid to explore the world, both externally and internally.
Anne writes very much in the tradition of Alexandria David-Neel, who published travel accounts of her journeys into Tibet in the 1930s. Anne, like David-Neel, is no ordinary tourist, and her account is both poetic and prophetic. She uses the teaching of the Aborginals and what she has gleaned from the esoteric traditions of the East and the West to lead her on her pilgrimage.
She is moving by unconventional means, and when decisions are made about where to go she uses the visions she sees in meditation, her dreams, and the signs that come to her in daily life to make the decisions. These are her portals into a reality very distinct from conventional western thinking.
Anne is watching what happens in her perception of the world in a way that is focused differently than the typical modern American. She has learned and practiced the techniques of the sacred, she has studied meditation and yoga, and has reached deeply into the traditional ways of tribal people. In particular, when she practices meditation, she is aware in such a way that what she sees becomes vision and in that vision she can find the solution to situations in her life and answers about what she should do.
But meditation is just one of the ports of entry into the aboriginal world. Dreams are another, and just as Anne watches in her mind's eye for visions, she watches in her sleep to see what transpires in her dreams. Finally, she also watches as the events of the day transpire to see in those events signs that can reveal openings that show the way.
She has entered the magical universe and is giving us a report of what it looks like and how to navigate in that terrain.
Her methods are very feminine, highly intuitive, and reflective of ways that can be used to reach conclusions without the deductive logic of western reason.
In 1993 Anne saw a picture in a book of an Aboriginal woman in Australia, an elder and a storyteller. Anne felt an immediate kinship that acted like a magnet to draw her halfway around the globe to seek out the woman. In 1997 she went to Australia with no assurance that she could ever find this person—and yet by her unconventional means she not only finds her but travels around Australia visiting ceremonial sites, hearing traditional stories and participating in ancient ceremonies.
In the course of her journey she tape-records many of the conversations in which Lorraine Mafi-Williams, who among her people is called Alinta, tells stories about the sites they visit. These stories are stories of initiation and transformation, used to hold people together and teach them who they are. Anne also gets to hear Alinta's life story, and we see that in Australia the elders among the Aboriginals grew up in the tribal culture only slightly removed from their ways before the invasion of the Europeans.
Alinta had grown up in an Aboriginal hut, living on the earth in a nomadic lifestyle. She tells of being schooled by the whites and how the Aboriginals would sneak off to learn from their own elders after the school day was done. She teaches Anne the techniques of "spirit journeys" that take place in the dream world. She tells that her ways, her ceremonies, are not lost and are still alive in the elders. These elders are willing to share them, not only with their own peoples, but with the white and black cultures as well, knowing that someday we will all be one people.
Anne is a harbinger of this awareness. Her book is a travel adventure in the life of the mind and a journey of transformation that has immense value as we move into the global consciousness that is now possible in the world. Her book, published by In Circle Press, is beautifully illustrated.
Michael White has compiled and edited two books: Safe in Heaven Dead: INterviews with Jack Kerouac & Light of the Three Jewels by Khenchen Palden Sherab Rinpoche. His stories, poems, essays, interviews and reviews have been published in the U.S., Canada, England, Italy, Japan and India.