Shapeshifting with Our Animal Companions
by Dawn Baumann Brunke

Bear & Company, 2008. ISBN 978-1-591-43083-4.
Reviewed by Penny Leisch
Posted on 06/07/2010

Nonfiction: Memoir; Nonfiction: Faith/Spirituality/Inspiration; Nonfiction: Nature/Place/Environment; Nonfiction: Animal Companions

Shapeshifting with Our Animal Companions, by Dawn Baumann Brunke, explores the spiritual connections and awareness of all life. Brunke is known and respected in her field and her book takes readers beyond the basics of animal communication and into spiritual awareness through a merging of consciousness with other life forms. The idea is that humans can expand their perception and release their fear of death by experiencing the world as other species see it.

Having read Rita Reynolds, Marta Williams, and others, I feel that it's increasingly obvious that humans have a lot to learn. It's also apparent that the field of interspecies communication now attracts well-educated people, who take their discoveries and research seriously. Since indigenous peoples around the world consider it an honor to have animals as their companions and guides, the idea is far from new.

Brunke's book defines shapeshifting as moving in and out of shared awareness with others, specifically animals, in this case. Barney, Brunke's dog, shares his wisdom and leads her through a variety of lessons. With Barney's guidance, she attempts to share "an image of the web of life." It makes one wonder in a new way about Walt Whitman's reference to "a sharing of atoms" in the Leaves of Grass. Readers who are open to a variety of belief systems will enjoy pondering the ideas that don't click immediately. Others with a background in this subject will find new ideas that go beyond the more common beliefs.

Barney takes the reader along on journeys into many realms of science, spirituality, and religion. So many philosophies blend that some people may have difficulty reconciling all of them. However, the book is worth reading to the end to see where it's going. In fact, it's the only way to give this deluge of new material fair consideration. Brunke includes a wonderful list of related books to facilitate exploring this subject further.

From forms of consciousness to expanding our perception and to death as a transformation, there's a lot to digest. Brunke could have elaborated or footnoted more of the history and origins for those readers who aren't already well versed in a variety of spiritual beliefs. However, readers with an inquiring mind will still be able to dive in and continue the exploration. This isn't the typical animal communication how-to book.

While some people may question the information in this book, it's a fact that a growing number of animals prove to be self-aware. In addition, medical schools now teach at least one form of energy healing. How can we be sure what we have yet to learn? If you enjoy broadening your thinking, love animals, and reach eagerly into new realms, this is the book for you. The lessons are a bit like peeling off layers of an onion and gently moving deeper toward the core, one ring at a time.

Dawn Baumann Brunke specializes in metaphysics, animal communication, and spirituality. She's the author of Animal Voices and Awakening to Animal Voices. Brunke graduated summa cum laude from Lawrence University and has been the Editor of Alaska Wellness for thirteen years. Her home is in Wasilla, Alaska with her husband, daughter, dogs, and other animals. Visit her website.

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