In ancient times, people would regularly bless each other, their labors, their homes, their land, and their animals. Nowadays, this spiritual practice is often limited to religious services and ceremonies, the occasional "bless you" when someone sneezes in public, or the response of a homeless person after receiving a gift of change.

Philosopher David Spangler (Parent as Mystic, Mystic as Parent; A Pilgrim in Aquarius) wants us to change all that and come to see blessing as a regular, natural, and grateful part of our everyday lives: "A blessing is not the function of a particular role. It is the natural expression of the fiery love and inclusiveness of our inner spirit. It is the manifestation of a soulfire, and each of us can be its hearth."

Spangler gave a blessing to a woman who asked for one back in 1966 in Los Angeles and ever since then he has practiced this art, which he believes is an affirmation of our interconnectedness with others, our creativity, caring, and kindness. "A blessing is the passing of spirit between us. It's a slash in the flesh of the ego so that the blood of the soul may be exchanged and we may become life brothers and life sisters. . . . In the act of blessing, we consecrate each other. We give of ourselves to each other."

The author has taught a course on blessing, and much of the material in this satisfying and edifying book is taken from his experiences and those of his students. Spangler outlines the four steps of this practice and then presents a blessings workbook replete with imagery exercises and suggested ways to bless a place, another person, the non-human world, an activity, inner work, and world work.

All blessings emanate from a deep and holy place of gratitude within us. Anyone trying these practices will reap the benefits of extending his or her love to others. We agree with Spangler's imaginative approach to this spiritual art. In these uncivil times, blessing is more important than ever.

Try a Spiritual Practice on Gratitude