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Iona Dreaming: The Healing Power of Place Paperback – April 1, 2010

4.6 out of 5 stars 28 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"Through Clare Cooper Marcus's poetic landscapes we are transported to Iona on a journey of transformation and healing. Mythology, dreams, the wisdom of rock, tree, and sea all weave a fabric of inspiration and guidance, where at the end we meet ourselves and become whole. Magical, poetic, and uplifting, this book will sneak into your dreams and beckon you to set out on your own path of inner exploration. Clare is a talented, intelligent, and lyrical writer." -Linda Joy Myers, Ph.D., president of the National Association of Memoir Writers, author of The Power of Memoir--How to Write Your Healing Story, and Don't Call Me Mother

"Do you wish for a special place that is a wise and loving friend that empowers you, heals your illness, soothes your worst fears and disappointments? A place that holds you in its embrace and makes you whole? Clare Cooper Marcus writes of her such place and in so doing instructs us to discover places where we can be fully alive. In turns literary and primal, Iona Dreaming will imbue you with sensuous reasoning and change you forever." -Randolph T. Hester, Professor, Department of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning, University of California, Berkeley; author of Design for Ecological Democracy, and Cultivating Sacredness in the Everyday Landscape.

"Clare Marcus's prose lifts us beyond intimate contact with this magical island into the spaces in our own hearts that we have closed off. Her touch, her eye for light, her honest memories of old pain, her joy in birdsong and small woodland plants--these open us to the power of place and we are healed too." -Louise Dunlap, author of Undoing the Silence: Six Tools for Social Change Writing

"This is a travel book in the truest, deepest sense. In describing her sojourns on the luminous Scottish island of Iona, Clare Marcus also moves us to journey into our own inner world. There we discover, as she does, the importance of place: how we have been altered and enriched by the landscapes of our lives. Draws from archetypal psychology and her love for this living Earth, the author's personal story becomes the most trustworthy of guides." -Joanna Macy, author, World as Lover, World as Self

"This is an enchanting book about geographies of the heart, sacred landscapes of desire, longing and memory. Clare Cooper Marcus invites us to accompany her to many landscapes of her remarkable life's journey--from the childhood terrors of wartime England, to hippie California, and finally the rugged solitudes of the Scottish island of Iona. Clare's acute perceptions balance her warmth and compassion as she describes Nature's many healing qualities in facing life-threatening illness and the many challenges experienced in a life well lived." -Wendy Sarkissian PhD, author of Kitchen Table Sustainability

"Both personal and professional experience illuminate Clare Cooper Marcus's deep understanding of an important, over-looked truth: the quality of our lives depends on our relationships not only with people, but also with places. On her journey from her childhood's English countryside, to healing gardens in America, to the magical island of Iona, she shows us how to look past our own fragile boundaries to the great world outside, where we can find unsuspected strength, wisdom, and joy." -Winifred Gallagher, author of The Power of Place: How Our Surroundings Shape Our Thoughts, Emotions and Actions, and Rapt: Attention and Focused Life

"In this hauntingly beautiful memoir, Clare Cooper Marcus traverses the liminal spaces of the landscape of Iona and the inner terrain of the soul with a sensual eloquence. Through this pioneer in the field of therapeutic landscapes, we encounter a personal story of transformation and healing that points beyond itself to the numinous power of place, unfolding through memory, insightful reflection, and a rich tapestry of dreams." -Susan Williams, Jungian Analyst, and Teaching faculty at C.G.Jung Institute, San Francisco

"Clare Cooper Marcus was the first person to alert me to the emotional meaning of our environment. In this moving memoir, she turns her writerly eye to the power of place in our spiritual, emotional and physical healing. Eloquent, evocative, and original." -MJ Ryan, author of Attitudes of Gratitude and This Year I Will...

"This is a fascinating book about an impressive woman who 'turns within' after retirement from a prestigious academic career and life threatening bouts with cancer to make peace with herself, nature and, yes, even God. Exquisitely written and self-revealing, Clare Cooper Marcus' chronicle of her journey to the Scottish Isle of Iona provides real insight into what 'inner life' means and what rewards await those who cultivate it." -Roger Doudna, PhD, Findhorn Foundation Fellowship Coordinator

About the Author

As consultant and freelance writer in the field of people-environment relations and environmental psychology, retired University of California at Berkeley Professor of Architecture and Landscape Architecture Clare Cooper Marcus has written several books on architecture and community. Professor Marcus has consulted for the Department of Housing and Urban Development in Washington DC, San Francisco City Planning Deptartment, New Zealand Department of Public Works, the Canadian Housing Design Council, as well as private architecture and engineering firms.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Nicolas-Hays (April 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0892541571
  • ISBN-13: 978-0892541577
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #796,827 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Clare Cooper Marcus was born in London and as a child was evacuated from the
blitz to live in the countryside during World War 2. As a young woman, she traveled to the United States to study at the University of Nebraska for a masters degree in historical geography. Returning to England she worked at the University of Sheffield, the Ministry of Housing, and London County Council before returning to the US as an immigrant. At the University of California, Berkeley she obtained a second masters degree, in city and regional planning. This was the '60s. The time and place radically changed her views and values. Her master thesis, which later became the book - "Easter Hill Village: Some Social Implications of Design"- was pivotal in the emerging field of people-environment relations. Joining the faculty at Berkeley in 1969, her teaching in architecture and landscape architecture questioned many of the assumptions long held in those professions, for example, that the designer-as-artist knows what is best for the client. With colleagues and students, she authored several award-winning books which feature what is known from research about user-needs in the design of housing and public open space. These books include "Housing as if People Mattered" (with Wendy Sarkissian); and "People Places" (with Carolyn Francis). Her unique research in - "House as a Mirror of Self"- incorporates accounts of people's intimate relationships with house and home, was featured on the Oprah show, and won the Book of the Year Award from the Detroit Free Press. After early retirement in the mid-90s, Cooper Marcus co-authored/edited "Healing Gardens: Therapeutic Benefits and Design Recommendations" (with Marni Barnes), thus beginning a passionate interest in the links between nature and healing, and the importance of incorporating gardens into healthcare facilities. This interest continues to the present time with consulting, research, lecturing and the publication, with Naomi Sachs, of "Therapeutic Landscapes: An Evidence-based Approach to Designing Healing Gardens and Restorative Outdoor Spaces " (New York: John Wiley and Sons, 2013). After retirement and a bout with life-threatening illness, she went to live alone on a remote island in the Scottish Hebrides where she explored the landscape, reflected on her wartime childhood, read, thought about dreams - and wrote. The result was the book "Iona Dreaming: The Healing Power of Place - A Memoir" (2010).

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
The island of Iona, a wind-bitten chunk of rock jutting out of the sea proves not only to be hospitable, but nurturing to both soul and body in this more than memoir. This book is worth keeping," one you are not likely to loan out haphazardly, or relegate to an obscure shelf in your library. You won't ever have to go more than arm's length looking for it. It is daring, in the sense that Eudora Welty wrote that "all real daring begins within," candid when it need be, and reserved in respect for the inexplicable.

Superbly written, she weaves from the War in Britain as a child at the Rothschild's estate outside London, to waitressing at a small island hotel, and along the way earning a professorship in Environmental Psychology at Berkeley in the School of Architecture, and giving birth to a son and daughter. It is one story, many changes, all bound by the masque of a lone island in the sea flourishing in the beauty and mystery that hunts us all if we would only risk the going. Here are the workings of a keenly observing mind and a brave soul, facing not only seas and rocks, but the trials of major illness-- all with keen determination and tenderness, images of a life drawn by the mystery and beauty of our islanded life in the stream of events, inner and outer, that we call our time.

I shall not surrender my copy easily. On the other hand I would buy many copies to give away to those who stand where two roads diverge in a yellow wood, and who care deeply about making a difference by taking the road less traveled.

Marv Hiles
Director of Iona Center,
Author of All The Days of My Life and An Almanac For The Soul
and the quarterly, The Way Through.
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"Iona Dreaming" captured me like books rarely do. In reading about the author's Iona experiences and their relationship to her dreams and memories I became in touch with my own and found my way toward healing. Ways to heal through examining my dreams, both waking and sleeping; ways to remember the past as blessings of my present and my future. "Iona Dreaming" became a personal journey for myself lived through the narrative of the author's sojourn on the island of Iona. Everyone seeking personal peace and healing should read this book.
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A long score of history and a natural beauty can truly make a place a spiritual experience. "Iona Dreaming: The Healing Power of Place" is a collection of reflections from Clare Cooper Marcus as she speaks of her time she spent on the Scottish Island of Iona and what it aught her about her life and how it can help others bring new insight into theirs as well. "Iona Dreaming" is a thoughtful and spiritual read, a solid addition to any spirituality or memoir collection.
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I'm not sure how much pleasure this book would give a reader unfamiliar with Iona and with no plans to visit there, but if you know Iona, or are planning to go there for more than a brief visit, this might be a good book for you. The author spent 6 months on Iona, mostly in solitude, but not completely so. Her candid exploration of her own life and dreams is not perhaps as interesting to the reader as it is to the protagonist, but her descriptions of specific places on Iona are lyrical and, to the best of my recollection (I've stayed there several times), gloriously accurate. Iona is one of the most beautiful places on this planet, and the author's descriptions powerfully attest to that reality. She also includes considerable information about being on retreat, Jungian dreamwork, and Celtic spirituality.
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I absolutely loved this book! Clare Cooper Marcus' depiction of her healing from cancer, her reflections on her life, and her deep appreciation of nature are so beautifully expressed in evocative poetic language. Her descriptions of Iona, the peaceful Scottish island she loves, inspired me to look more closely at my own surroundings and to consider the places that are restorative, calming, and joyful to me.
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A highly personal account of the impact of place on the author.
For an Australian reader familiar with the significance of Aboriginal Dreaming, this book did not quite fulfill its promise of an overarching mythology giving meaning to place and experience. Nevertheless a profoundly personal interior journey.
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Here is a lyrically written love song to place, quite literally life saving. This is a powerful and personal book, an intimate portrait of a woman challenged by terminal illness, a memoir recounting an English WWII upbringing and a spiritual journey that unfolds on the island of Iona where these two worlds meet. A chance meeting offers Clare Cooper Marcus the opportunity to live on the remote island of Iona (West coast of Scotland) for six months that becomes her spiritual retreat. Iona gradually reveals itself as her touchstone, her place of power that figured promently into her healing process. Along with a regular medical course of treatment, she compounded her healing process through the use of visualization and dream work. If you really want to experience the spirit of place written in a courageous and spiritually joyous manner that is pure joy to read, then "Iona Dreaming,The Healing Power of Place, A Memoir" is your ticket to an adventure. One you won't soon forget and there is no extra charge for baggage.
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