Thursday, April 8, 2010

Review of The Pattern of Things

I give below a review of my book, The Pattern of Things, viewing Life through the Prism of the Five Elements, by Rob Ransome, who graduated from my first group of students at the School of Five Element Acupuncture. His review has made me re-evaluate my book, and given me further food for thought. I hesitated about including it in this blog, but then realised that it would help people decide whether this was a book for them. So here it is. Many thanks, Rob, for the thought you put into this.

“Nora qualified and gained her masters at the College of Traditional Acupuncture over twenty years ago. Her passion for the elements and Five Element acupuncture extends beyond the clinic or classroom and is embraced in her every breath. In her writing she endeavours to pass on her knowledge and love for the elements. Her fourth book is no exception.

The Pattern of Things is a series of reflections of how Nora experiences being an acupuncturist, the challenges this has thrown at her and the fears she has had to face as a result. In this book Nora shares her insights on how it is to be with a patient in the practice room, something that is quite rare. In doing so she has made me reflect on my own practice and the challenges I face working with my patients.

It is all too easy to think of an element as something static and not as qi in motion, or regard the next patient as a symptom or a CF, rather than as a unique person, or forget that the quality of patient-practitioner relationship also depends on us being fully in that relationship. Nora addresses this, looking inwardly at how she experiences each element within herself in order to gain greater understanding of both herself and the dynamics of her relationship with whomever she is interacting with. And by doing so, she invites us to do likewise.

One does not need to be a five-element practitioner, nor agree with Nora’s perspective, to gain from reading this book. Her challenge to the readers is to put under the microscope what they themselves do in their own practice and to learn from this.

The Pattern of Things could easily be a bedtime read. The danger for the reader is to gloss over the contents, missing the wisdom that lies within the simplicity and fluidity of thought, and failing to take the time to reflect on their own personal meaning. I found this to be a much easier and shorter read than her previous book, Keepers of the Soul. The new book evolved as a series of essays written over time, some having a beginning well before Keepers was completed. Thus the thoughts also evolve, perhaps revolving onto another page, or overlapping with ideas described in the Keepers, and this indeed is an example of continuous, reflective practice.

The author expressed to me an uncertainty as to whom the thoughts in her book are addressed, though in my view they are intended primarily for practitioners and students. As to the title, this was nearly given to Keepers of the Soul, though in the end it was relegated to a chapter heading there. The title, The Pattern of Things, has great significance for Nora. I have debated with her its appropriateness in relation to the material in her book. This led me to re-examine those fundamental patterns of life described in the Tao Te Ching and the early chapters of the Su Wen. On reflection, I am still unsure that her title encapsulates the contents. Perhaps this is something else for the reader to consider. But first I recommend that you read the book.”


  1. Very nice post. Informative. Thanks for sharing.

  2. The review was helpful in making me decide to read this book, especially as I was familiar with 'Keepers of the Soul'. As a layperson, I enjoyed the book very much. It set me thinking further about how an element might function in the presence of other elements, the strength of the spirit and also reminded me that nothing works in isolation in the real world - something I tend to forget while dealing with other people or my own problems!