The Once Upon a Time of Now

Mythic Adventures, Discoveries and Meditations in the Forest of Consciousness

Fiction - Inspirational
306 Pages
Reviewed on 08/01/2023
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Author Biography

With a lifelong involvement in Indian mythology and art history, author Hope West has worked closely with some of the world’s most prestigious scholars in the field of South Asian studies. Inspired by her research, as well as her many pilgrimages to the great temple complexes of Tamil Nadu, The Once Upon a Time of Now is a mythic tale that draws from her own insights to share the profound practices and wisdom offered by the uplifting philosophical traditions of the Sri Vidya of South India.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Alma Boucher for Readers' Favorite

The Once Upon a Time of Now: Mythic Adventures, Discoveries and Meditations in the Forest of Consciousness by Hope West is about a girl in a strange land who absorbs mystical ideas from magical teachers. Agnes finds a map inside a popped balloon while on the playground with her toy elephant G, and they are taken to a magical place the following day. G has been transformed and now has the head of an elephant and human legs. A spider informs Agnes and G that the map points to a lost temple, and the northern countryside is changed into a forest. Agnes and G are on an expedition to find the temple and are joined by a tiger named Streak and a giraffe named Finder. The new-found friends have a lot to talk about as they dance together, tell tales, and take advice from people they meet along the route.

The Once Upon a Time of Now by Hope West is intriguing and exciting. I was engaged from the beginning. This story of transformative powers was created from Indian mythological traditions, and the description of those on the list of characters was informative and interesting. The members of the group are happy, playful, and have fun. The friends grew as individuals and as a group. Agnes was my favorite. She was strong and learned to love the life she was leading. Each chapter begins with a statement that explains the book's teachings and as the story progresses, these quotes are affirmed. The story is well-written and one of a kind. It was much more than I expected.


I've read and reread Hope's book many times over and each time I learn more about ME. I did not expect this and I thank you Hope from the bottom of my heart for this gift. Your delightful friends travelling together, learning and sharing their magical journey makes my heart sing, So much to learn, so much to share, so much in Life to LOVE. M.XO

Laynee L.

Layers and layers of mystic and philosophical teachings conveyed in a fun, light-hearted manner. This book can be read/viewed in so many ways at so many levels and absorbed as you wish! Read it more than won't regret it.

M. Marceau

A beautifully accessible fable into the world of Indian mythology. This beautifully written little book reveals the vast knowledge of its author in Indian mythology and manages to enchant the reader with a rich, humorous and educational adventure in the discoveries of the self.

Rachel Dehning

Hope West's "The Once Upon a Time of Now" is a mystical, mythical, and thought-provoking story that teaches the art of appreciating your surroundings and making every moment count. One night, a young Canadian girl named Agnes, while marveling at the vast starry sky and weighed down by heavy questions, is presented with a mysterious object put in her lap from the heavens. Excitedly showing her best friend, G, the object of contemplation, they find themselves transported down a rabbit hole (of sorts) into the Forest of Consciousness. Meeting new friends and others of higher power, the group embarks on their preordained quest to locate the Lost Temple. Along the way, individuals and relationships transform physically, mentally, and emotionally, becoming newer and better versions and discovering their full potential. The journey presents secrets, raises questions, and reveals the undisclosed power held within us. "The Once Upon a Time of Now" is metaphorical as it includes deities and prominent figures in the Hindu religion, disguised within West's characters through their personality and appearances. A cast of "characters" is included at the conclusion to inform the reader, potentially improve their knowledge of principal figures in world religions, and answer questions regarding dialogue or descriptions.
The story reads as a fantasy reminiscent of a fairy tale with talking animals, miniature-sized people, and a quest with otherworldly obstacles to overcome; however, the amount of comprehension intertwined in the content proves a more mature audience is appropriate. There is a brief moment referring to gods "making love," but this is the extent of sexual talk or references. The text supports a higher-level reader with more comprehensive word choices; the feel of the story is philosophical as much is said and taught about self-reflection and understanding yourself. Multiple ways to meditate and engage in techniques are mentioned, with proper and beneficial breathing being a central theme. This reader found "The Once Upon a Time of Now" by Hope West as a whole, to be engaging, but there are slow moments, and with each new scene the characters are repetitive with their teachings. However, not having known about Hindu beliefs before beginning the story, this

L. J. Frank

How do you interpret years of deep research both of your subject and to a great
degree, yourself and allow that process to grow within the experience called India, and explore the rich, yet disquieted, socially layered landscape of its heritage as
expressed in its own self-consciousness and mythologies?
If you are able to, you tell a revealing story, not only about your subject but also about yourself.
In this case, the author has brought her world view and eloquence to that task - a seductive, exotic, spiritual, and brilliant, poetic tale. One that lingers through her poignant, naturalistic, and impassioned language.
Certainly, there are an array of traditions that inspire - from selfless love to deep reflection, the erotic, and the nature of consciousness to non-violence. Whereas the author is able to transcend the complexities of myth and heritage into approachable, thoughtful, readable, and lyrical verse. Not an easy task. This reads like a labor of love. Truly, a joy to read.

Rand Williams

I LOVED this book!! So thought-provoking. I learned a lot and enjoyed the story and characters so much. And the writing is beautiful!

Claire Emmett

The Alchemist meets Alice in Wonderland and they travel to India!

This is a fascinating book that really got me thinking about life. If you're interested in Hindu mythology, you'll love this sweet adventure. I felt I was on a magical journey the whole way. The meditations are clever and creative, and I loved having the chance to join the book in that way.