Reviews



Contact Us


Table of Contents


Search Site


home  Home


Google listing of all pages on this website


Site Map


Toby Johnson's Facebook page


Toby Johnson's YouTube channel


Toby Johnson on Wikipedia


Toby Johnson Amazon Author Page

Secure Site Comodo Seal

Secure site at

https://tobyjohnson.com



rainbow line

Also on this website:


Toby Johnson's books:

Toby's books are available as ebooks from smashwords.com, the Apple iBookstore, etc.


Finding Your Own True Myth - The Myth of the Great Secret III

FINDING YOUR OWN TRUE MYTH: What I Learned from Joseph Campbell: The Myth of the Great Secret III


Gay Spirituality

GAY SPIRITUALITY: The Role of Gay Identity in the Transformation of Human Consciousness


Gay Perspective


GAY PERSPECTIVE: Things Our Homosexuality Tells Us about the Nature of God and the Universe


Secret Matter


SECRET MATTER, a sci-fi novel with wonderful "aliens" with an Afterword by Mark Jordan


Getting Life

GETTING LIFE IN PERSPECTIVE:  A Fantastical Gay Romance set in two different time periods


The Fourth Quill

THE FOURTH QUILL, a novel about attitudinal healing and the problem of evil




Two Spirits
TWO SPIRITS: A Story of Life with the Navajo, a collaboration with Walter L. Williams



charmed lives
CHARMED LIVES: Spinning Straw into Gold: GaySpirit in Storytelling, a collaboration with Steve Berman and some 30 other writers


Myth of the Great Secret


THE MYTH OF THE GREAT SECRET: An Appreciation of Joseph Campbell



In Search of God


IN SEARCH OF GOD IN THE SEXUAL UNDERWORLD: A Mystical Journey



Unpublished manuscripts


About ordering


Books on Gay Spirituality:

White Crane Gay Spirituality Series


rainbow line

  Toby has done five podcasts with Harry Faddis for The Quest of Life

rainbow line

  Articles and Excerpts:

Review of Samuel Avery's The Dimensional Structure of Consciousness


Funny Coincidence: "Aliens Settle in San Francisco"


About Liberty Books, the Lesbian/Gay Bookstore for Austin, 1986-1996


The Simple Answer to the Gay Marriage Debate


A Bifurcation of Gay Spirituality


Why gay people should NOT Marry


The Scriptural Basis for Same Sex Marriage


Toby and Kip Get Married


Wedding Cake Liberation


Gay Marriage in Texas


What's ironic



Shame on the American People


The "highest form of love"


rainbow line


Gay Consciousness


Why homosexuality is a sin


The cause of homosexuality


The origins of homophobia


Q&A about Jungian ideas in gay consciousness


What is homosexuality?


What is Gay Spirituality?


My three messages


What Jesus said about Gay Rights


Queering religion


Common Experiences Unique to Gay Men


Is there a "uniquely gay perspective"?


The purpose of homosexuality


Interview on the Nature of Homosexuality


What the Bible Says about Homosexuality


Mesosexual Ideal for Straight Men



Varieties of Gay Spirituality


Waves of Gay Liberation Activity


The Gay Succession


Wouldn’t You Like to Be Uranian?


The Reincarnation of Edward Carpenter


Why Gay Spirituality: Spirituality as Artistic Medium


Easton Mountain Retreat Center


Andrew Harvey & Spiritual Activism


The Mysticism of Andrew Harvey


The upsidedown book on MSNBC


rainbow line


Enlightenment


"It's Always About You"



The myth of the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara


Joseph Campbell's description of Avalokiteshvara


You're Not A Wave



Joseph Campbell Talks about Aging



What is Enlightenment?



What is reincarnation?



How many lifetimes in an ego?



Emptiness & Religious Ideas



Experiencing experiencing experiencing



Going into the Light



Meditations for a Funeral



Meditation Practice



The way to get to heaven



Buddha's father was right



What Anatman means



Advice to Travelers to India & Nepal



The Danda Nata & goddess Kalika



Nate Berkus is a bodhisattva



John Boswell was Immanuel Kant



Cutting edge realization



The Myth of the Wanderer



Change: Source of Suffering & of Bliss



World Navel



What the Vows Really Mean



Manifesting from the Subtle Realms



The Three-layer Cake & the Multiverse


The est Training and Personal Intention



Effective Dreaming in Ursula LeGuin's The Lathe of Heaven


rainbow line

Gay Spirituality


Curious Bodies


What Toby Johnson Believes


The Joseph Campbell Connection


The Mann Ranch (& Rich Gabrielson)


Campbell & The Pre/Trans Fallacy


The Two Loves


The Nature of Religion


What's true about Religion


Being Gay is a Blessing


Drawing Long Straws


Freedom of Religion


rainbow line


The Gay Agenda


Gay Saintliness


Gay Spiritual Functions



The subtle workings of the spirit in gay men's lives.


The Sinfulness of Homosexuality


Proposal for a study of gay nondualism


Priestly Sexuality


Having a Church to Leave


Harold Cole on Beauty


rainbow line


Marian Doctrines: Immaculate Conception & Assumption


Not lashed to the prayer-post


Monastic or Chaste Homosexuality


Is It Time to Grow Up? Confronting the Aging Process


Notes on Licking  (July, 1984)


Redeem Orlando


Gay Consciousness changing the world by Shokti LoveStar


Alexander Renault interviews Toby Johnson



rainbow line


Mystical Vision


"The Evolution of Gay Identity"


"St. John of the Cross & the Dark Night of the Soul."


Avalokiteshvara at the Baths


 Eckhart's Eye


Let Me Tell You a Secret


Religious Articulations of the Secret


The Collective Unconscious


Driving as Spiritual Practice


Meditation


Historicity as Myth


Pilgrimage


No Stealing


Next Step in Evolution


The New Myth


The Moulting of the Holy Ghost


Gaia is a Bodhisattva


rainbow line


The Hero's Journey


The Hero's Journey as archetype -- GSV 2016


The  Gay Hero Journey (shortened)


You're On Your Own


Superheroes


rainbow line


Seeing Differently


Teenage Prostitution and the Nature of Evil


Allah Hu: "God is present here"


 
Adam and Steve


The Life is in the Blood



Gay retirement and the "freelance monastery"


Seeing with Different Eyes


Facing the Edge: AIDS as an occasion for spiritual wisdom


What are you looking for in a gay science fiction novel?


rainbow line


The Vision


The mystical experience at the Servites'  Castle in Riverside


A  Most Remarkable Synchronicity in Riverside


The Great Dance according to C.S.Lewis


rainbow line

The Techniques Of The World Saviors

Part 1: Brer Rabbit and the Tar-Baby


Part 2: The Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara


Part 3: Jesus and the Resurrection


Part 4: A Course in Miracles


rainbow line


The Secret of the Clear Light


Understanding the Clear Light


Mobius Strip


Finding Your Tiger Face


How Gay Souls Get Reincarnated


rainbow line


Joseph Campbell, the Hero's Journey, and the modern Gay Hero-- a five part presentation on YouTube


rainbow line


About Alien Abduction


In honor of Sir Arthur C Clarke


Karellen was a homosexual


The D.A.F.O.D.I.L. Alliance


Intersections with the movie When We Rise


More about Gay Mental Health


Psych Tech Training


Toby at the California Institute


The Rainbow Flag


Ideas for gay mythic stories


rainbow line


People


Kip and Toby, Activists


Toby's friend and nicknamesake Toby Marotta.


Harry Hay, Founder of the gay movement


About Hay and The New Myth


About Karl Heinrich Ulrichs, the first man to really "come out"


About Michael Talbot, gay mystic


About Fr. Bernard Lynch


About Richard Baltzell


About Guy Mannheimer


About David Weyrauch


About Dennis Paddie


About Ask the Fire


About Arthur Evans


About Christopher Larkin


About Mark Thompson


About Sterling Houston


About Michael Stevens


The Alamo Business Council


Our friend Tom Nash


Second March on Washington


The Gay Spirituality Summit in May 2004 and the "Statement of Spirituality"


rainbow line

Book Reviews



Be Done on Earth by Howard E. Cook


Pay Me What I'm Worth by Souldancer


The Way Out by Christopher L  Nutter


The Gay Disciple by John Henson


Art That Dares by Kittredge Cherry


Coming Out, Coming Home by Kennth A. Burr


Extinguishing the Light by B. Alan Bourgeois


Over Coffee: A conversation For Gay Partnership & Conservative Faith by D.a. Thompson


Dark Knowledge by Kenneth Low


Janet Planet by Eleanor Lerman


The Kairos by Paul E. Hartman


Wrestling with Jesus by D.K.Maylor


Kali Rising by Rudolph Ballentine


The Missing Myth by Gilles Herrada


The Secret of the Second Coming by Howard E. Cook


The Scar Letters: A Novel by Richard Alther


The Future is Queer by Labonte & Schimel


Missing Mary by Charlene Spretnak


Gay Spirituality 101 by Joe Perez


Cut Hand: A Nineteeth Century Love Story on the American Frontier by Mark Wildyr


Radiomen by Eleanor Lerman


Nights at Rizzoli by Felice Picano


The Key to Unlocking the Closet Door by Chelsea Griffo


The Door of the Heart by Diana Finfrock Farrar


Occam’s Razor by David Duncan


Grace and Demion by Mel White


Gay Men and The New Way Forward by Raymond L. Rigoglioso


The Dimensional Stucture of Consciousness by Samuel Avery


The Manly Pursuit of Desire and Love by Perry Brass


Love Together: Longtime Male Couples on Healthy Intimacy and Communication by Tim Clausen


War Between Materialism and Spiritual by Jean-Michel Bitar


The Serpent's Gift: Gnostic Reflections on the Study of Religion by Jeffrey J. Kripal


Esalen: America and the Religion of No Religion by Jeffrey J. Kripal


The Invitation to Love by Darren Pierre


Brain, Consciousness, and God: A Lonerganian Integration by Daniel A Helminiak


A Walk with Four Spiritual Guides by Andrew Harvey


Can Christians Be Saved? by Stephenson & Rhodes


The Lost Secrets of the Ancient Mystery Schools by Stephenson & Rhodes


Keys to Spiritual Being: Energy Meditation and Synchronization Exercises by Adrian Ravarour


In Walt We Trust by John Marsh


Solomon's Tantric Song by Rollan McCleary


A Special Illumination by Rollan McCleary


Aelred's Sin by Lawrence Scott


Fruit Basket by Payam Ghassemlou


Internal Landscapes by John Ollom


Princes & Pumpkins by David Hatfield Sparks


Yes by Brad Boney


Blood of the Goddess by William Schindler


Roads of Excess, Palaces of Wisdom by Jeffrey Kripal


Evolving Dharma by Jay Michaelson


Jesus in Salome's Lot by Brett W. Gillette


The Man Who Loved Birds by Fenton Johnson


The Vatican Murders by Lucien Gregoire


"Sex Camp" by Brian McNaught


Out & About with Brewer & Berg
Episode One: Searching for a New Mythology



The Soul Beneath the Skin by David Nimmons


Out on Holy Ground by Donald Boisvert


The Revotutionary Psychology of Gay-Centeredness by Mitch Walker


Out There by Perry Brass


The Crucifixion of Hyacinth by Geoff Puterbaugh


The Silence of Sodom by Mark D Jordan


It's Never About What It's About by Krandall Kraus and Paul Borja


ReCreations, edited by Catherine Lake


Gospel: A Novel by WIlton Barnhard


Keeping Faith: A Skeptic’s Journey by Fenton Johnson


Dating the Greek Gods
by Brad Gooch


Telling Truths in Church by Mark D. Jordan


The Substance of God by Perry Brass


The Tomcat Chronicles by Jack Nichols


10 Smart Things Gay Men Can Do to Improve Their Lives by Joe Kort


Jesus and the Shamanic Tradition of Same Sex Love by Will Roscoe


The Third Appearance by Walter Starcke


The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight by Thom Hartmann


Surviving and Thriving After a Life-Threatening Diagnosis by Bev Hall


Men, Homosexuality, and the Gods by Ronald Long

An Interview with Ron Long


Queering Creole Spiritual Traditons by Randy Conner & David Sparks

An Interview with Randy Conner


Pain, Sex and Time by Gerald Heard


Sex and the Sacred by Daniel Helminiak


Blessing Same-Sex Unions by Mark Jordan


Rising Up by Joe Perez


Soulfully Gay by Joe Perez


That Undeniable Longing by Mark Tedesco


Vintage: A Ghost Story by Steve Berman


Wisdom for the Soul by Larry Chang


MM4M a DVD by Bruce Grether


Double Cross by David Ranan


The Transcended Christian by Daniel Helminiak


Jesus in Love by Kittredge Cherry


In the Eye of the Storm by Gene Robinson


The Starry Dynamo by Sven Davisson


Life in Paradox by Fr Paul Murray


Spirituality for Our Global Community by Daniel Helminiak


Gay & Healthy in a Sick Society by Robert A. Minor


Coming Out: Irish Gay Experiences by Glen O'Brien


Queering Christ by Robert Goss


Skipping Towards Gomorrah by Dan Savage


The Flesh of the Word by Richard A Rosato


Catland by David Garrett Izzo


Tantra for Gay Men by Bruce Anderson


Yoga & the Path of the Urban Mystic by Darren Main


Simple Grace by Malcolm Boyd


Seventy Times Seven by Salvatore Sapienza


What Does "Queer" Mean Anyway? by Chris Bartlett


Critique of Patriarchal Reasoning by Arthur Evans


Gift of the Soul by Dale Colclasure & David Jensen


Legend of the Raibow Warriors by Steven McFadden


The Liar's Prayer by Gregory Flood


Lovely are the Messengers by Daniel Plasman


The Human Core of Spirituality by Daniel Helminiak


3001: The Final Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke


Religion and the Human Sciences by Daniel Helminiak


Only the Good Parts by Daniel Curzon


Four Short Reviews of Books with a Message


Life Interrupted by Michael Parise


Confessions of a Murdered Pope by Lucien Gregoire


The Stargazer's Embassy by Eleanor Lerman


Conscious Living, Conscious Aging by Ron Pevny


Footprints Through the Desert by Joshua Kauffman


True Religion by J.L. Weinberg


The Mediterranean Universe by John Newmeyer


Everything is God by Jay Michaelson


Reflection by Dennis Merritt


Everywhere Home by Fenton Johnson


Hard Lesson by James Gaston


God vs Gay? by Jay Michaelson


The Gate of Tears: Sadness and the Spiritual Path by Jay Michaelson


Roxie & Fred by Richard Alther


Not the Son He Expected by Tim Clausen


The 9 Realities of Stardust by Bruce P. Grether


The Afterlife Revolution by Anne & Whitley Strieber


AIDS Shaman: Queer Spirit Awakening by Shokti Lovestar


Facing the Truth of Your Life by Merle Yost


The Super Natural by Whitley Strieber & Jeffrey J Kripal


Secret Body by Jeffrey J Kripal


In Hitler's House by Jonathan Lane


Walking on Glory by Edward Swift


The Paradox of Porn by Don Shewey


Is Heaven for Real? by Lucien Gregoire


Enigma by Lloyd Meeker


Scissors, Paper, Rock by Fenton Johnson




Toby Johnson's Books on Gay Men's Spiritualities:




Gay
Perspective cover
Gay Perspective

Things Our [Homo]sexuality
Tells Us about the
Nature of God and
the Universe


Gay Perspective audiobook
Gay Perspective is available as an audiobook narrated by Matthew Whitfield. Click here







Gay
Spirituality cover
Gay Spirituality

Gay Identity and 
the Transformation of
Human Consciousness



gay-spirituality-audiobook
Gay Spirituality   is now available as an audiobook, beautifully narrated by John Sipple. Click here








charmed lives
Charmed Lives: Gay Spirit in Storytelling

edited by
Toby Johnson
& Steve Berman







secret matter
Secret Matter

Lammy Award Winner for Gay Science Fiction

updated







Getting Life
Getting Life in Perspective

A Fantastical Romance





Getting
Life in Perspective audiobook
Getting Life in Perspective is available as an audiobook narrated by Alex Beckham. Click here 






The Fourth Quill

The Fourth Quill

originally published as PLAGUE




johnson-the-fourth-quill-audiobook
The Fourth Quill is available as an audiobook, narrated by Jimmie Moreland. Click here






Two
Two Spirits: A Story of Life with the Navajo

with Walter L. Williams




Two Spirits
audiobookTwo Spirits  is available as an audiobook  narrated by Arthur Raymond. Click here






Finding Your Own True Myth - The Myth of the Great Secret III
Finding Your Own True Myth:
What I Learned from Joseph Campbell

The Myth of the Great Secret III








In
Search of God in the Sexual Underworld
In Search of God  in the Sexual Underworld










The Myth of the Great Secret II

The Myth of the Great Secret: An Appreciation of Joseph Campbell.

This was the second edition of this book.




rainbow line



Toby Johnson's titles are available in other ebook formats from Smashwords.



Two Spirits -- Reviews

To order an autographed copy from Toby Johnson
  
About reviews: I think to a writer the best comments always have to do with the book being compulsive reading ("I couldn't put it down") and with it bringing tears!

I've gotten several such informal, personal "reviews" from readers.


Wade Mccollum
Recently I've gotten email from Portland-based gay performance artist, singer, and playwright/producer Wade McCollum (his most recent album "Beauty is a Streelight"--lovely music--available from iTunes).
Wade wrote: "Can I tell you how many times I cried reading TWO SPIRITS?  SO beautiful...  like coming home."

New York writer John Caminiti wrote: "I just finished reading "Two Spirits" and I wanted to say that I found it to be one of the most moving novels I have read in a very long time. . .  It is still resonating with me. I can't get some of it out of my mind. I had a very similar feeling when I read Song of the Loon. Both books spoke to me in very deep emotional ways.




 Published Reviews: TWO SPIRITS


From a WONDERFUL review on Jessewave by Cole:
"Lastly, I want to encourage those of you who, although you might think that this story sounds wonderful, are afraid to read it. It is true that this story is far from a typical story in the M/M genre, but the two essential things that make up a romance are present here: a sweeping love story and a HEA [Happy Ever After]. Yes, I admit I cried several times while reading this, often in frustration and sometimes with joy. I won’t say that it was an easy story to read, because it isn’t. I often had to put this book down and take it up later. But that was the key: I always wanted to pick it back up. And more than anything, I felt like I took a journey with the characters and they became my friends. What more can you ask for in a book?"




by Blondie at Rainbow-reviews.com:

"What can I say about this book. It was AWESOME. I felt like I was there among the Dine, in the Sweat Lodge, in Santa Fe watching Joelle sing. I could see the mountains and feel the hot air and all the glory of the Southwest. I would highly recommend this book for anyone who loves historical fiction with gay characters in it. I'd give this book 10 stars if I could, but definitely 5 stars."



  by "Betty Conley" ElizConley@aol.com   elizconley
    Mon Aug 21, 2006

    Two Spirits: A Story of Life With the Navajo
    By Walter L. Williams and Toby Johnson
    Lethe Press 2006 $18.00

    Set in the New Mexican Territory in the Civil War era, TWO SPIRITS focuses on a little known and shameful fact of American history. Thousands of Navajo Indians, who refer to themselves as Diné, were held in US Government sanctioned concentration camp-like captivity, at Fort Sumner, from 1864 to 1868. Walter L. Williams, Ph.D. and Toby Johnson, Ph.D. combined their knowledge and talent to pen a historically accurate fictional account of the Diné's incarceration.

    TWO SPIRITS' factual story line centers around the callous treatment the Diné suffered under the supervision of the righteous Union General James Carlton. Carlton, an Indian fighter, devised a plan to relocate almost twelve thousand "savages" from their fertile homeland at Canyon de Chelly (now northeast Arizona), to the Bosque Redondo outside Fort Sumner. The Diné were forced to walk a distance of 325 miles, in winter, with insufficient wagons to carry the young, old, and infirm. More than three thousand people died en route to the desert area. Carlton's Indian "experiment" had the support of officials in Washington who wished the Indians pacified. The officials saw to it that sufficient funds for food and housing for the Diné were regularly sent to Fort Sumner. The funds, unfortunately, made General James Carlton a wealthy man. During the Diné's four years of captivity without government subsidies, and unable to grow crops in the arid soil, another quarter of their population died. The vulnerable Diné were also victims of raids by the New Mexicans. General Carlton never ordered the soldiers to defend his charges against these attacks.

    Adding appeal and fast pace to TWO SPIRITS' plot, Williams and Johnson developed a beautiful love story between a young Virginian, William Lee, and a high ranked Diné, Hasbaá. Will had been shunned by his fundamentalist preacher father after being found in a barn with another young man. With the advice and help of an influential townsperson, Will went to Washington, D.C. and was fortunate to be hired as an apprentice Indian Agent. Assigned to Fort Sumner, Will realized immediately that the Indians were poorly treated, then learned the previous agent was dead. Feeling fully responsible for the Indian's welfare, Will conscientiously wrote reports to his superiors in Washington requesting additional aid for the starving Diné. Will was not yet aware of Carlton's duplicity.

    Will frequently visited the Diné camp and after proving himself worthy was accepted into their talk circle. He became captivated with the spiritual person, Hasbaá. A two spirit person, Hasbaá was honored and respected by the people. According to Diné lore, people possessing two spirits were blessed with twice the spiritual gifts, both male and female, and thus had special powers to oversee healing rituals and other sacred ceremonies. Hasbaá and Will grew close and fell in love. The Diné celebrated their union, as was their custom.

    Will discovered Carlton's treachery so with the help of Hasbaá and other Diné, set out to prove Carlton's unworthiness as leader. Some of Williams and Johnson's characters, such as General James Carlton, were actual people who played significant roles in the circumstances  surrounding the Navajo's incarceration. In TWO SPIRITS' pages, the authors show how spirituality, wisdom, and true understanding of human nature existed among the native people of our continent for thousands of years before European settlers arrived.

    Williams and Johnson's TWO SPIRITS is a very important work with far reaching social significance. TWO SPIRITS is a highly recommended five star read.


The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Student Support Services Library, located at Bloomington Indiana

by Sarah Stumpf

Do you like historical fiction? How about standing up to corruption, challenging racism, and falling in love?


Two Spirits: A Story of Life With the Navajo by Walter L. Williams and Toby Johnson is one of the best fiction books I have read in a long time. Johnson is an award-winning gay writer and Williams is an expert in same-sex relationships among the Navajo (or Diné as they prefer to be called). Together they create a beautiful work of fiction that blends historical truth with compelling fictional characters.

Shortly after the Civil War Will Lee arrives in the harsh desert of New Mexico to be the new Indian Agent at Fort Sumner and to escape his fire-and-brimestone father. He quickly finds himself captivated by Hasbaá, a Diné two-spirit, a man who lives like a woman and has a sacred role in the community. Her gender transitiveness fascinates and frightens him, as he is forced to examine himself, his spiritual beliefs, and his place in this world.

Is he falling for her? Can he help expose the corruption of the Army officials in charge of the fort as well as face his own racism? Is he willing to give up the privileges of being a ’straight’ white man to live in the Diné’s world? And would she even have him if he was able to get over his own issues?

You could call this book gay fiction or trans fiction, but the labels don’t matter as much as the strong characters, sexual and sensual relationships, beautifully harsh settings, and historical realism that William and Johnson are able to create.



Washington Blade (Aug 8, 2006)

Exploring a spiritual history (Gay)

New novel about a gay Navajo and his white lover examines gay identity

By GREG MARZULLO
Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The history of gay identity on the North American continent is totally absent from the educational system of the United States, and until recent years, the travails of the American Indians have been reduced to the myths of the bloodthirsty Injun or the noble savage.

With "Two Spirits: A Story of Life With the Navajo," gay authors Walter L. Williams and Toby Johnson deftly unveil the great histories of gay people as seen through the mythic and cultural expressions of the Navajo.

The novel is set shortly after the end of the Civil War, when Will Lee, a white Virginian, runs away from home upon being discovered naked with his best friend by his stridently religious father. Will joins up with the Office of Indian Affairs and heads out West to his new post at Fort Sumner, New Mexico.

The Navajo were forced to live in the parched desert surrounding Sumner after the U.S. Army drove them from their ancestral lands in what is now northern Arizona. The tribe remained at the fort as prisoners from 1863 until 1867 when they were restored to their homelands.

While there, Will falls in love with Hasbaá, a "two spirit" shaman of the tribe.

"The Navajo as well as many other American Indians honored people -- who we today would call gay -- as spiritually gifted,” says Johnson. "They were understood to possess both the spirit of a man and the spirit of a woman.”

Two spirit people usually displayed signs of gender variance by dressing in clothing that was opposite of their biological gender and engaging in activities that were nontraditional for their gender. They held a spiritual position of honor within the community and worked as healers and intermediaries between the human and spirit worlds.

"The way America thinks of homosexuals is not as spiritual leaders," says Johnson, 61. I think in the long run it's more important that gay people change how we understand homosexuality than it is how we get straight people to change their minds about it."


THE AWAKENING OF gay consciousness, one of the book's central themes, is nothing new to the writings of either author. Johnson's nonfiction works "Gay Spirituality" and "Gay Perspective" have become classics in the queer spirit genre, and Williams, currently a senior professor in the gender studies program at the University of Southern California, wrote a seminal book on the two spirit phenomenon titled "The Spirit and the Flesh: Sexual Diversity in American Indian Culture."

Both writers seamlessly weave their academic backgrounds into the fabric of Will's and Hasbaá's story. Surrounded by the culture and myths of the Navajo people, Will begins to embrace his sexuality as a vehicle toward liberation, happiness and a deepening sense of empowerment.

"One of the great mythological patterns is that people become heroes not because they set out to be a hero, but because they got drawn into it because of personal drive," says Johnson. "Those personal drives are more sexual most of the time. In writing a gay story, we wanted to be more open about the sexuality.

Researchers like Williams have determined that two spirit shamans regularly engaged in same-sex eroticism and even married their paramours.

"Same-sex marriage is as American as apple pie," Johnson laughs. "On American soil, there has been same-sex marriage for 5,000 years. It's the Christians who came along and objected 200 years ago. They're the new ones."


Book Marks, Sept 25, 2006

Review by Richard Labonte

Two Spirits: A Story of Life with the Navajo, by Walter L. Williams and Toby Johnson. Lethe Press, 332 pages, $18 paper

Cliched passion between the Sensitive White Man and the Noble Savage has been a subset of gay romantic and erotic fiction since Richard Amory's Song of the Loon set the standard almost five decades ago. The bar has been raised much, much higher by this compassionate collaboration between academic Williams, whose scholarly The Spirit and the Flesh explored sexual diversity in American Indian culture, and novelist Johnson, whose several books blend gay fiction with spiritual wisdom. Their enchanting and suspenseful romance, set in Navajo-territory New Mexico shortly after the Civil War, eschews those unfortunate cliches: the young Virginian and the two-spirit native who come to love each other here are fully dimensional characters. The story hews closely to real history, too, as it recounts the callous eviction of the Navajo from their sacred homelands, a shameful era of cultural oppression and brutal discrimination in America. Two Spirits bristles with an angry depiction of regrettable history, but any hint of didactic overload is totally tempered by fine writing.


RFD, Winter 2006-07

Review by B

Two Spirits, A Story of Life with the Navajo
by Walter L. Williams & Toby Johnson
Lethe Press, 331 pages, 2006

"Two Spirits, A story of Life With the Navajo", is an eminently accessible novel. It is written with joy and sensitivity and successfully evokes the post-Civil War era. In addition, it offers a lucid and simple (at times almost too simple) view of Dine (the word the Navajo peoples have for themselves) spirituality and the unique role of the Two Spirit people in Dine culture.
In the first three chapters we are introduced to the hero, Will Lee (a distant relative of Robert E.) who arrives at Ft. Sumner NM to take up duties as an apprentice to the Indian Agent. Following chapters alternate between his earlier life in Virginia and his experiences at the Fort. Will, we learn, has had some questions about his sexuality; had a brief romantic/ sexual experience with his best friend, Michael; and is discovered just after the act by his Bible-thumping father with the expected dire consequences. Michael escapes to Norfolk to follow his dream of becoming a sailor; and Will, through the intervention of a local lawyer is given a copy of Walt Whitman's recently published "Leaves of Grass"; given a letter of introduction to the lawyer's friend in the Department of the Interior and encouraged to escape to Washington, D.C. where he is assigned to the post at Ft. Sumner.

Through this devise of alternating episodes between his earlier life and life at the fort, a picture of a sensitive and caring, though confused young man emerges. He meets, and is very attracted to Hasbaa, a Dine Two Spirit spiritual leader of his/her people. Will is appalled at the destitute conditions to which the Dine are subjected by General Carlson, the Fort Commander, and gradually discovers the extent of the General's perfidy.

Love blooms between Will and Hasbaa and as he learns about the Dine life and spirituality the reader gains a clear picture of the profound reverence for life and the joyous and innocent sexuality evidenced by the people. The device works well and the adventure provided by the pursuit and ultimate downfall of Gen. Carlson and the return of the Dine to their homeland makes for a satisfying tale.

If you are interested in Native American culture and spirituality I highly recommend" Two Spirits". It will be a treasured addition to your library.



Midwest Book Review  Dec. 2006

by Lori L. Lake, author


This is the first work of fiction I've read that speaks about the world of the berdache with such clarity, depth, and soulfulness.  The novel draws much of its historical fact and information from Walter L. Williams' nonfiction book THE SPIRIT AND THE FLESH: SEXUAL DIVERSITY IN AMERICAN INDIAN CULTURE, but despite its historical base, the book never feels dry.  Instead, it is lively, entertaining, and a fascinationg look at a time gone by when two people from completely different cultures came together as friends, lovers, and trusted allies to prevail over an enemy that seemed impossible to defeat.  Highly recommended.



Ashe Journal Vol 5, Issue 4

Also from Toby Johnson, this time joined by anthropologist Walter Williams, comes a new work of historical fiction: Two Spirits: A Story of Life With the Navajo (Lethe Press, 2006, 331pp, $18.00). Set in the Civil War era of the 1860’s, Two Spirits tells the story of a feckless Virginian who finds himself captivated by a Two-Spirit male. This is a fascinating book that combines tragedy and oppression with a tale of love, beauty and self-discovery.



Barnes & Noble.com

This book I could not put down, with its visual beauty and its base in historical truth, I found it enthralling.  I am most grateful to learn yet another piece of who we are, and understand more fully why we are here.
--- Craig A. Lee



Lambda Book Report
Winter 2007


BY THOM NICKELS

Novels are generally written by one author, but Two Spirits: A Story of Life with tlte Navajo, is co-authored by Walter L. Williams and Toby Johnson. Williams. of course. is known for his classic overview of Native American sexuality. The Spirit and the Flesh, a must-read for anyone interested in American (sexual) history or Native American life. In that work Williams explains the dynamics and the ways of the berdache, or the Two Spirited-third gendered male. usually gay, who would often dress as a member of the opposite sex, take a husband or wife (Two Spirited persons were male or female) and live among the tribe as a shaman or holy per-son. As a link between male and female. such persons were thought to have the ability to tap into mystical realms. and to create power-ful influences among the tribe.

Toby Johnson, the author of a number of spiritual books and former editor of White Crane Journal, a gay men's journal of spiritu-ality, is a logical choice to team with Williams. Being on the same page spiritually would indeed be a prerequisite for such a venture.

The novel follows the adventures of Will, a young son-of-a--preacher man who runs away from home after his father discovers him in the arms of his best friend, circa 1868, in—as it turns out—-a not so secret hayloft in the family barn.

Will runs away from home because he fears for his life and be-cause his preacher father (a 19th century version of the Religious Right) seeks to make an example of him before the congregation. Will feels that his father will hang him although at one point he contemplates hanging himself. He alters course when he runs to a family friend, an older unmarried man and
Walt Whitman devotee, who lectures him on the value of people who are "different." Although homosexuality or same sex attrac-tion is never mentioned per se. the old man talks to Will about the love of comrades, and Will. if only subliminally, gets the message. The old man also suggests that WiIl leave home immediately for Washington D.C. to see a friend of his in the government who might be able to get him a job.

This promise of employment is the springboard for Will's new life, and he ven-tures forth into the bureaucratic labyrinths of Washington D.C. where his introduction pays off. The old man's network of "secret comrade friends" helps the young man ob-tain the dangerous yet exciting job as an
Indian Agent. What follows is the story of how young Will travels to the displaced homeland of the Navajo people (who yearn for their original home in New Mexico) and how he slowly integrates himself into their community.

On the reservation Will encounters top military brass hostile to Native American interests; indeed, all the standard anti-Indian prejudices of the day are in full bloom there. Complicating matters, Will meets the Navajo Two Spirit, Hasbaa, and begins a personal odyssey of self discovery. His fascination for Hasbaa leads eventual-ly to a consummated love relationship or marriage within the tribe that has dire consequences for Will both personally and profession-ally.

The authors' acute eye for historical detail and fact make this a historical novel worth reading. This combination adventure story. history lesson, and love story/soap opera are as compelling as the early novels of Herman Hesse. While the straightforward narrative can sometimes have a "young adult" feel, the book is a page turner nonetheless, even if the grafting of erotic sequences and history lessons sometimes have the feel of self conscious constructions.

In the description of Will's making love to a Two Spirit Mexican before making his commitment to Hasbaa. we read:

As his kiss deepened, everything went out of Will's mind. He felt himself go all to jelly as his muscles began to move on their own as by reflex. His testicles contracted, and the warmth deep inside moved upward and out onto his belly against Jose's. He shuddered and convulsed in pleasure like never before.

In passages like these, this reader sensed an awkward confluence or clash of two writing styles.

Reading these explicitly erotic passages is a little bit like taking a supersonic transport from the 19th to 21st century. In one erotic dream sequence we read how "Hasbaa sucked and caressed Will's cock with her tongue," and how Will. getting it from behind in a menage-a-trios dream fantasy, felt "himself filled with the warrior's maleness and that that maleness was being pumped into him in this act. "

Eroticism is fine but here it feels very much out of place. The authors fare much better in their descriptions of the private rela-tionship lovemaking of Hasbaa and Will. This is perfectly in context in this historically im-portant and even beautiful story.

Thom Nickels is a Philadelphia-based author/journalist/ playwright. and the author or eight published books including Out in History and Philadelphia Architecture.




An Exceptional Spiritual Adventure in Cross Cultural Love

June 14, 2007
By  Fred Stewart

I found Two Spirits to be a delightful and entertaining book bringing
together compelling history, culture, romance, and spirituality. The
authors vividly tell the story of the historical plight of the Navajo
(Dine) tribe forced to languish in an extremely hostile environment
far away from their homeland in an experiment in Indian management" by
the U.S. military following the Civil War.

The writing is lucid and the characters are exceptionally
well-developed. I readily experienced the hardships and the profound
spirituality of the tribe as I entered their world and joined the
journey. The tribal ways, rituals, and governing are rich in detail. I
became aware that under the horrendous hardships the tribe managed to
maintain an enduring sense of human hope, trust, and love. Tribal
members displayed this love and trust for each other and their
spiritual leader. The eventual acceptance of the "hairy face" (as the
Native Americans referred to white men) into the tribe's midst is a
lesson of tolerance and acceptance, especially when contrasted by the
ugliness of discrimination practiced by the tribe's so-called
'protectors'.

Two Spirits is a must read for anyone who seeks to understand an
aspect of Native American culture that has been denied far too long.



GAY SHAMANS AS HEROES AND WARRIORS

A Book Review by Lewis Elbinger

Walter L. Williams and Toby Johnson, Two Spirits: A Story of Life with the Navajo,
Lethe Press, New Jersey, 2006, 331 pages


    Some books have veils over them.  That means you cannot read them until you are ready for the message contained therein.  Two Spirits: A Story of Life with the Navajo was such a book for me.  I bought it immediately after it was published, but it sat on my shelf for almost a year before the veil was lifted and I could enter the world the authors created and described.

    Perhaps the barrier that prevented me from plunging into this novel of American frontier life in the 1860s was the harsh and accurate description of the injustices suffered by the Native Americans at that time.  I found the situation too painful to contemplate and refused to do so.  When the veil was finally lifted, I was surprised and delighted to find a plot that veered from comedy to horror and back with an underlying message of hope, triumph and redemption.  At one point I was moved to tears by the magnificence of the characters and the skillful manner in which they were portrayed.  That, the shedding of a joyful tear evoked by artistic talent, is the surest sign for me that the authors have succeeded in their mission.

    This book reminded me once again of the power of fiction to reflect and affect the so-called "real world."  Toby Johnson literally wrote the book on gay spirituality (Toby Johnson, Gay Spirituality, Lethe Press, New Jersey, 2004, 296 pages).  Here, with co-author Walter Williams, he delivers a message about the beauty, power and glory of gay shamans in the guise of historical fiction.  The book has several levels: it is a story about the love between two men from radically different worlds, about the differences between those worlds and, ultimately, about the reconciliation of those worlds.  The plot hinges on historical characters, situations and places, but incorporates a variety of elements, including magical realism, that make the story memorable, interesting and exciting. 

    The word "Navajo" is the Spanish name of a Native American tribe that calls itself Dine which means "the people."  In the 1860s, the Dine suffered a devastation comparable that experienced by the Jews in Nazi Germany.  They were forcibly deported from their homeland and relocated to a barren track of land outside of Fort Sumner in what is currently New Mexico.  Their violent resistance to this deportation provided the excuse for further oppression.  With little food, water or shelter, people died by the thousands.  Eventually, the Dine made a treaty with the U.S. government that allowed them to return to their homeland from the brink of extinction. 

    Certain heroic and decent personalities among both the Dine and U.S. government facilitated this fortuitous conclusion.  In this fictionalized version of the story, Williams and Johnson posit a love affair between a young Indian Agent from Virginia named William Lee and a Dine nadleehi (gay shaman) named Hasbaá.  While the plot contains the heart-pounding twists and turns of an exciting movie, the underlying message of the book is William Lee's discovery, understanding and acceptance of Dine holistic and humane cosmology in contrast to the cosmology of his own tribe of rapacious and callous Americans.  The love between Lee and Hasbaá served as a bridge between two utterly diverse and hostile cultures.  This love allowed healing, growth and understanding to develop in an atmosphere in which only violence, oppression and cruelty flourished.

    Love exists on four levels: physical, emotional, mental and spiritual.  It was the spiritual bond between the white American and the red Native American that drew them together and allowed them to foster reconciliation between their antagonistic societies.  William Lee's curiosity and fascination with Dine culture and religion in general and with Hasbaá's exalted position as a religious figure in that culture in particular opened a window onto a world which was closed to most white Americans.  The reader is privileged to gaze over Lee's shoulder as he peers into the forbidden and foreign world that most of Lee's compatriots considered savage and barbaric.  One wonders who is the savage and who is the barbarian when the truth is known about the values and behaviors of each society. 

    One message of Toby Johnson's considerable literary output is that the homosexual perspective makes a valuable and necessary contribution to the evolution of human consciousness.  This book presents the same idea in an entertaining, interesting and enlightening way.  After finishing the book, I bought three copies of it as gifts for friends who would appreciate the concept of same-sex love as a vehicle for intercultural understanding.



TWO SPIRITS REVIEW
by Ruth Sims   


Two Spirits combines a moving love story with a dark part of American history. Most American know, and choose to ignore, the historic treatment of the peoples who “were here first,” the broken treaties, the broken promises, the broken hearts and lives. It would be silly to pretend that the Indians (if I may use that non-p.c. term) didn’t war among themselves because they did. But they didn’t have machine guns and railroad trains and the belief that God gave them all the land from coast to coast, a.k.a. “manifest destiny.” Two Spirits is about one small group caught on the dark side of that manifest destiny: the people Americans called Navajo, but who called themselves Diné.

In 1864 the Diné were forced to walk 325 miles in winter from their green, fertile homeland in what we call Northeast Arizona, Canyon de Chelly, to what was actually a concentration camp at Bosque Redondo near Fort Sumner. At least 3,000 of their number died on the way. This was General James Carlton’s version of “pacifying” the natives. Carlton, by the way, was a real person. The U.S. Government allocated what probably was sufficient money for the displaced Diné to feed, clothe, and house them, but the money found its way into Carlton’s private coffers. Not only were the Diné starving and unable to grow crops in the inhospitable land, living in substandard shacks, and dying from illnesses, Mexican bandits regularly struck from what became New Mexico, carrying the Diné children to be sold into slavery. Carlton did nothing to protect his charges.

Into this living hell comes a shy, uncertain and untrained Indian Agent named William Lee from Virginia, a young man kicked out by his father for loving another man. Young Will is truly tested by many fires—both from within and without. He’s puzzled why he’s fascinated and attracted to the beautiful healer and wise woman, Hasbaá, a loved and revered member of the tribe. A near-tragedy reveals Hasbaá’s physical strength and Will soon learns that the beautiful, spiritual, strong woman is really a man—a two-spirit. Far from being shunned, as she would have been in white society, Hasbaá is considered blessed. Will and Hasbaá fall deeply in love and are joined in a union by the customs of the tribe.

There is plenty of action and danger in this book, as Will, the Diné, and Hasbaá face persecution and annihilation when Will uncovers Carlton’s corruption and evil. He delves deeply into the life and spirituality of the Diné and his beloved Hasbaá.

As an incurable reader of forewords, afterwords, and footnotes, I especially appreciated the commentaries at the end. “About the Historical Accuracy of This Novel” is as interesting as the book itself, explaining as it does about, among other things, the use of peyote, some of the mystical references, and the acceptance of two-spirit people. This is followed by “A Commentary” by Wesley K. Thomas, a member of the Diné. These brief extras are the cherry on top of the sundae.

Highly recommended!

Ruth Sims is author of the wonderful romance novel The Phoenix


From amazon.com

Two Spirits: A Story of the Life With the Navajo, November 5, 2006
By  John W. Burkert 
(LA, CA)
   
As an acquaintance of Professor Williams through having read some of his other books, I highly recommend the reading to any others interested in the Southwest Indiam culture. This is true history with a mix of touching fiction.



Little Known Americana, September 28, 2007
By     Amos Lassen  (Little Rock, Arkansas


Little Known Americana, "Two Spirits" is set in the territory of New Mexico during the period that America was engaged in the Civil War. The book focuses on a piece of American history that few know of--thousands of Navajo Indians (referring to themselves as "Dine") were held in a concentration camp which was sanctioned by the government of the United States at Fort Sumner. The authors, Walter Williams and Toby Johnson have taken this and written a historical novel about what happened.

The true story of what happened reads like this. The Navajo were treated with callousness and suffered untold indignities under the supervision of the "righteous" Union general, James Carleton... Williams and Johnson took the story and added a love angle between William Lee, a young man from Virginia and a Dine of high rank by the name of Hasbaa. ...
 
I love historical fiction and "Two Spirits" is such a book. It is well written and the characters are unforgettable. The way the ceremonial acts of the Dine is depicted is sheer reality. It is easy to see the authors' passion for their material. The novel is based on real history buy it is the characters and their way of life and spirituality that makes this book such a treasure. This book is part of American history regardless of the shame it provides. Even though the book is categorized as fiction, the accounts are historically accurate. It brings together compelling history with spirituality, culture and romance and the writing is both literate and lucid. The history of the Native American has been hidden from us for a long time but with this book we get a glimpse of what really went on. History can often be dry but this book never does.


     
Two Souls  October 4, 2008
By  Ruth Thompson "Booksmania" 
(Venice Florida)
   
The setting of this book is Fort Sumner where the Navajo Indians were kept in captivity by our government…. This is an interesting book that is filled with facts of the Navajo's way of life.

Ruth Thompson is the author of "The Blue grass Dream: A Wilderness Adventure of Early Settlers” and “Natchez Above The River: A Family's Survival In The Civil War”


Two Spirits: A Story of Life With the Navajo, June 30, 07
By Waneta Falcon "Love to read"  (Seattle, WA USA)

   
This is one of those books you just can't put down. Although it's categorized as fiction, there are historically based non-fiction accounts blended in. I highly recommend this book for all ages.

rainbow line

Toby Johnson, PhD is author of nine books: three non-fiction books that apply the wisdom of his teacher and "wise old man," Joseph Campbell to modern-day social and religious problems, four gay genre novels that dramatize spiritual issues at the heart of gay identity, and two books on gay men's spiritualities and the mystical experience of homosexuality and editor of a collection of "myths" of gay men's consciousness. 

Johnson's book GAY SPIRITUALITY: The Role of Gay Identity in the Transformation of Human Consciousness won a Lambda Literary Award in 2000.

His  GAY PERSPECTIVE: Things Our [Homo]sexuality Tells Us about the Nature of God and the Universe was nominated for a Lammy in 2003. They remain in print.

FINDING YOUR OWN TRUE MYTH: What I Learned from Joseph Campbell: The Myth of the Great Secret III tells the story of Johnson's learning the real nature of religion and myth and discovering the spiritual qualities of gay male consciousness.

 back to top


BACK to Toby's home page


valid html

Visitors
Essential SSL