The Straight Path of the Spirit: Ancestral Wisdom and Healing Traditions in Fiji

Excerpts & Samples

By Richard Katz

Publisher : Inner Traditions/Bear & Company

ABOUT Richard Katz

Richard Katz
Richard Katz received his Ph.D. from Harvard University and taught there for twenty years. He is the author of Boiling Energy: Community Healing among the Kalahari Kung and The Straight Path: A Story of Healing and Transformation in Fiji. He is now a professor at the Saskatchewan Indian Fe More...



The inspiring story of one man's exploration of indigenous healing in a culture fighting to preserve its spiritual health.

• A firsthand account of a little-known healing tradition.

• A dramatic story of self-transformation by a well-respected Harvard-educated anthropologist.

In the late 1970s Richard Katz, a clinical psychologist trained in anthropology, spent two years living in a remote island community in Fiji, hoping to record the practices of its healers. At the foundation of their healing, he discovered, was the concept of the straight path, a journey through life whose truth is revealed only to the extent that it is searched for with honesty and faith. It is a way of healing that in its very essence is a way of living, a path that emphasizes the spiritual dimensions of health and the relevance of these to the community. But while interviewing healers at work, Katz was drawn into an increasingly suspenseful drama. Unexplained deaths, rumors and suspicions, and the intrusion of a zealous evangelist rocked the village and soon revealed to the author the dangerous alternative to the straight path: the misuse of power that some call witchcraft. 

The Straight Path is an engrossing story of indigenous healers and a dramatic account of cultures in collision. Through the story of his own self-transformation, Katz reveals not only those aspects of life essential for the Fijians as they struggle to hold onto their identity, but also what is of importance to all of us who seek to retain our humanity.

"His presentation is in the academic style of the psychologist and anthroplogist that he is, yet he makes the book readable and engaging."

American Herb Association, Vol 16:4

This is no New-Age vapor, but a sensitive, penetrating insight into a deeply mysterious aspect of humanity that has no parallel in Western culture. Katz was blessed by the Fijians, and imparts his blessing to us."

Elizabeth Marshall Thomas, author of The Harmless People and Reindeer Moon