Book Reviews Perceptions Magazine, September 2022
Ecology of Souls:
A New Mythology of Death and the Paranormal
By Joshua Cutchin
Published by Joshua Cutchin, Horse and Barrel Press
ISBN-13: 978-1-7339808-5-2 (Vol. 1, $29.81, 372 pages)
ISBN-13: 978-1-7339808-6-9 (Vol. 2, $29.95, 429 pages)
Both volumes $59.76
ISBN-978-1-7339808-7-6 (Ecology of Souls Companion for $22.95, or for free with online URL provided in volumes one and two, 342 pages.) Appendices, 4,200 endnotes, and bibliography. Total cost for all three paperback books $82.71.
A Kindle version of the two volumes is provided for $9.99 on Amazon, or for free with a Kindle Unlimited membership.
Reviewed by Brent Raynes
After having met Joshua Cutchin at Nashville’s Strange Realities conference in 2019, and later in reading his and Timothy Renner’s Where the Footprints End: High Strangeness and the Bigfoot Phenomenon, Volumes 1 and 2, I was extremely impressed at his ability to so thoroughly research extraordinary anomalous phenomena and unveil their profound implications, connecting numerous high strange aspects and details that seldom receive the recognition they deserve.
Now, in Joshua’s Ecology of Souls: A New Mythology of Death and the Paranormal, Volumes 1 and 2, he dives even deeper into the high strange. Ecology of Souls provides a really unique, exhaustive and comprehensive treatment of Forteana. I’ll even add the word scholarly to the mix. He really rolled up his sleeves and provided a very rare and penetrating glimpse behind the curtain of Oz. Originally intending to write a single book, once he waded into the dark waters of this oceanic and complex anomalous and archetypal realm, he came to realize, I am sure, that this was going to be a major project that would require the big guns of his literary and research skills to effectively present and detail the proverbial “Big Picture.” He had already been in the field long enough to realize that it wouldn’t be an easy task to penetrate the wall of psychological resistance and cognitive dissonance of many researchers of the unexplained, from UFOs, the paranormal, and cryptozoology. As Keel had stated years earlier, it’s hard to lead the charge and present alternative theories and ideas when so many have already embraced the “cult literature” that prevails in these various belief-ridden disciplines. Few are comfortable in thinking outside the box. “This is a book of contradictions,” he warns his readers. “It is a book about ghosts; it is not about ghosts. It is a book about hauntings; it is not about hauntings. Most importantly, it is a book about death, but it is that neither. It is about existence.” He states that Forteans (those who are familiar with the works of the late Charles Fort) are often better prepared to work at connecting the many bewildering dots that we pigeonhole in so many different categories and disciplines of belief. Folklore and things described as anomalous. “This work illustrates how paranormal entities – faeries, aliens, even many cryptids – might be best understood as an ecology of souls, viewed through the lenses of death and human soul tradition,” Joshua adds. “More explicitly, these beings correspond closely to psychopomps (guides to the deceased), one of our multiple souls, ancestors, and the generalized human dead – a flood of possibilities springing from the headwaters of death.”
Volume 1 begins by establishing a comprehensive foundation of ancient soul traditions from a historic and global background while Volume 2 looks closely at UFO and entity/cryptid cases and how they reflect older themes of belief and awareness, from yesterday’s shamans to today’s contactees. Hundreds of different names, accounts, and sources are reviewed and presented herein. It’s a vast landscape of innumerable puzzle pieces carefully fitted together and presented for the reader’s benefit.
Whether you’re just taking your first baby steps in this alternative approach or you’ve been at it already for a pretty good while, Joshua’s volumes belong in your home library, both for relevant and handy references and for ideas, concepts and information you may not have previously considered or known anything about.
This is a treasure trove of information.