Inner Circle Publishing
1410 South 14th Street
Yakima, WA 98901
Paper / 172 pgs. / $16.50 USD
OUT-look: a review
by Dallas J. Bryant
Mercurial Fig: Michaela Sefler’s Healing Tree
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.
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.
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.