The Centrifugal Eye
November 2008 - Review: Sefler
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Healing Tree
by Michaela Sefler

Inner Circle Publishing
1410 South 14th Street
Yakima, WA 98901
Paper / 172 pgs. / $16.50 USD

OUT-look: a review
Dallas J. Bryant

      Mercurial Fig: Michaela Sefler’s Healing Tree
                                                         A Collection of Mystical Poems

        I thought that because this issue of The Centrifugal Eye was focusing on mysticism as one of its sub-themes, I’d be brave and take a peek into the world of “mystical poetry.” I wasn’t exactly sure where that would land me, but in the case of Healing Tree, one of several collections of such poems (said to be based on ancient Qabbalistic knowledge) by self-billed-“mystical” poet Michaela Sefler out of Montreal, Canada, I found myself parked in the flathills of meditation.

        Healing Tree is somewhere around 165 poems— no, make that prayers. All are written in short lines, designed to emphasize the mystic images and abstract idealizations, centered in format (to emulate “centeredness?”), and sounding like miniature sermons. (It seemed to me that murmuring or chanting might imbue the poems with even greater spiritual purpose.) These are not classical forms, however. There is no rhyme, no meter, no discernible patterns. They are free verse in nature, and especially concerned with content over rhythm or sonics.

        The collection, Healing Tree, is rampant both with physical symbols — artistically displayed on each page after each poem, employing assorted arcane icons such as goddess spirals, astrological glyphs, Celtic knots and medieval floral motifs — and symbolism. The title poem, "Healing Tree," is a prime example, filled with divination symbolism, and strives to teach readers the importance of mystical and metaphysical messages and connections: “A fig, influenced by Jupiter, which represents the beginning of life.” An eagle, “a symbol of swiftness.” Oaks and mandrakes and grapes.

        In Sefler’s poem, “Metals,” a list of ores are made to shine in association with celestial bodies — Gold with “the glorious sun, Silver, sensation of the world.” Iron, too, is hefted in the hand of Mars, in “reflections of the battles” he’s waged.

        As I read various poems looking for a focus for the collection, it occurred to me that here was an assembly of spiritual affirmations. And that was the poet’s intention. The “poems” are really vehicles for the abstract thoughts behind them, rather than exercises in writing. One would not pick up a copy of Sefler’s poems in order to find stylistic innovation or profundity of craft — the purpose of these affirmations are to serve the soul with spiritual reflections. This conclusion is neatly summed in her poem, “Aspirations,” which also represents Healing Tree’s hope to act as catalyst for “curing the soul from ails of ignorance.”

        A study of titles yields the reader a catalog of helpful treatments. Examples: “Order of Virtue,” “This Moment,” “All Encompassing,” “Miracle,” “One is Infinite,” and “Evolution of Spirit.”

        A book loaded with meditations like these would also make for a useful oracle. Let’s try. Flip through random pages and we stop on “Constraints.” “And each man is created / with his own limitations, / for each is unique / in accomplishment.” I can vouch for that. Here’s another counsel. From “Stepping Up a Ladder,” I’m encouraged to try “mastering the ropes / of unknown mysteries.” Sefler, as mystical poet, further exemplifies how to let go of erring ways by asking for guidance: “Vanities I cast away / help me return / the value / that I once believed in.”

        This type of reading material is exactly the sort of thing that sells commercially in New Age bookstores, and as a mainstream crossover in the form of “gift books,” so Sefler should find a ready audience for her well-intentioned messages of spiritual health. Almost every type of writing has a market somewhere, and although it’s not exactly my cup of herbal tincture, Healing Tree will cheer those who find inspiration and spiritual healing in the esoteric.

You can learn more about Michaela and her varying collections of mystical poetry at her website.

"Crystal Clear"
E.A. Hanninen

Dallas J. Bryant is a U.S. West Coast photographer, graphic artist, writer/critic and occasional poet. He's also a part-time staff-contributor and reviewer for The Centrifugal Eye.


"The mind, that ocean where each kind
Does straight its own resemblance find;
Yet it creates, transcending these,
Far other worlds, and other seas."

                   ~ Andrew Marvell, The Garden


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