In the east, mantras have been used for millennia to stir, cultivate, and channel cosmic energy. If the vast powers said to be contained in mantras are beginning to be more fully understood in the West, it is in part because of the work of Vedic priest Thomas Ashley-Farrand, author of the popular book Healing Mantras (Ballantine, 1999).
In Shakti Mantras, he focuses on "the Great Feminine energy that exists both within and without our bodies" and the specific mantras, dedicated to feminine deities, that can tap that energy. He devotes much of each chapter to stories about particular goddesses and what they represent (for example, Saraswati, the "Power of Knowledge and Speech"; Parvati, the "Power of Consciousness and Spiritual Growth"; and Radha, the "Power of Divine Love"), then details mantras used to invoke their respective powers.
A newcomer might find the scope of this material almost unfathomable, but Ashley-Farrand writes in a warm, highly readable voice that encourages rather than intimidates. All in all, this is a valuable addition to the literature of mantra.