Emily Dickinson: A Medicine Woman for Our Times

Review
In his book Emily Dickinson: A Medicine Woman for Our Times Steven Herrmann examines the life and writings of the poetess from a number of challenging perspectives… As with all individuals who teeter on the edge of society’s norms, Dickinson’s self-enforced isolation from her peers and community is shown by Herrmann to have been an inevitable consequence of her disillusionment with many traditional core American values. This was particularly evidenced by her increasing disillusionment towards her traditional Christian upbringing. Given her family’s important standing in the community, ceasing to attend church must have taken no small amount of resolute determination on her part. As Herrmann points out, it was this part of her strong and fiercely independent nature that has caused her to become evaluated as one of the forerunners of the feminist movement and which probably caused her to remain single throughout her life. In the closing of Emily Dickinson Herrmann takes a more personalized approach to her legacy. Firstly, he describes a number of synchronicities that took place that surrounded his writing of the book. Secondly, he offers the reader a number of different approaches they can take to keep the spirit of Dickinson alive resonant to today’s shifting interpretation of the sanctity of marriage, as well as using her as a guide to adapting to these societal changes into the emergence of a new social order―that of Spiritual Democracy, of which Emily Dickinson should be seen as a leading dispenser of a new American myth for our times… From reading the opening of this work I was immediately drawn into an account of perhaps one of the best examples of a soul who was totally committed to the fulfillment of the Great Work. For that reason the story of Emily is fascinating enough but Herrmann’s evaluation of the many other undercurrents of her life and poetry takes the reader into unexpected, but rich, terrain. It makes sense to evaluate Dickinson within a largely Jungian construct for, as anyone in the field of spirituality will tell you, his specific type of psychological analysis lends itself well to those who commune with the deeper aspects of their inner cosmology. It not only makes sense for Steven Herrmann to employ Jungian themes to his investigation of Dickinson but, as the reader discovers for themselves, her difficult and challenging life can perhaps only truly make sense within this context. When approaching a work like this one has to ask whether the legacy of the subject has been enhanced through such in-depth analysis. In the case of this excellent work this is a resounding yes, for Herrmann has fulfilled a unique role in bringing the energy, passion, foresight, and vision of a fascinating character to life―someone who shied away from expressing it herself during her own lifetime. This highly recommended work will be a glorious revelation to all Emily Dickinson fans; as well as to anyone interested in the role and power of the reemerging feminine archetypal energy of the Goddess along with its embryonic seeds of its manifestation which emerged in so many ways during the latter part of the 19th century and early part of the 20th. Throughout this work Herrmann offers a vital exploration of Dickinson and in this context, Emily Dickinson is a work that carries a great spiritual force―one that is adeptly channeled, interpreted, and directed by Steven B. Herrmann; and which is encapsulated in a work that resonates with a powerful sense of destiny.
―Spirituality Today

Emily Dickinson: A Medicine Woman for Our Times