New World Library cofounder and bestselling author Shakti Gawain passed away on Nov. 11, 2018. Originally named Carol Louise Gawain, she was born in Trenton, New Jersey, on September 30, 1948, to the late Theodore Gawain and Elizabeth Miller Gawain.
Shakti attended Reed College in Portland, Ore., for several years before transferring to the University of California-Irvine, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in dance in June 1971. Her first, and only, nine-to-five job after graduation was as a receptionist at the South Vietnamese Embassy in Washington, D.C., shortly before the end of the Vietnam War. After that, she spent two years living in Europe and traveling in a van to places like Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.
When she returned home to the United States, she moved to San Francisco and began pursuing her passion for consciousness and metaphysical studies in earnest. That’s where her path first crossed with Marc Allen’s in 1974. He nicknamed her Shakti, which is the Sanskrit word for the divine feminine creative force. It was such a perfect representation of the way she showed up in the world that her new name stuck.
Marc and Shakti started leading workshops together and writing and producing educational booklets out of the kitchen of their small apartment in Oakland, Calif. It was a shoestring operation that started with very little capital and extremely minimal sales. All that changed with the publication of Shakti’s first book, Creative Visualization, which experienced strong word-of-mouth sales right from the start. And then, in the early 1980s, Oprah Winfrey invited Shakti to be a guest on her yet-to-be-syndicated television show.
When “The Oprah Winfrey Show” went national in 1986 and re-aired Shakti’s interview, Creative Visualization was on its way to the international bestseller status it enjoys today, with over seven million copies sold worldwide. New World Library, which was called Whatever Publishing at the time, was also on its way to becoming the widely recognized independent publisher that it is today.
Shakti went on to write several other books, including Living in the Light, Return to the Garden, The Path of Transformation, The Four Levels of Healing, Creating True Prosperity, and Developing Intuition. Her books have sold more than 10 million copies and have been translated into 38 languages.
Shakti met and fell in love with Jim Burns, her husband of 28 years, on a beach in Big Sur, Cali., in 1988 during a beautiful sunset. They were married in August 1990 at her home on the island of Kauai in Hawaii, which was one of Shakti’s favorite places on Earth.
Shakti left New World Library in 1992 to start a publishing company with Jim called Nataraj Publishing, and she also opened a healing center in Mill Valley, Calif. She spent the remainder of her career mentoring individuals, publishing books and offering workshops.
Shakti was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in the late 1990s and later with Lewy body disease. She lived with the diagnosis with the amazing strength and grace that made her who she was. In 2015 Shakti made the hard decision to step back from her public life so that she could focus on her own healing and spend time with Jim. With him by her side, she passed away peacefully from complications following hip surgery.
Shakti was an extraordinary example of a life well lived, and she will be greatly missed. She is survived by her husband, Jim Burns, and was preceded in death by her parents, Elizabeth Miller Gawain and Theodore Gawain. We are grateful that her legacy will live on through her books, audios, and videos — and in the lives of so many people she not only touched emotionally but genuinely helped to have better, more fulfilling lives.
Services will be planned at a later date. Memorial contributions can be made in Shakti’s name to the Lewy Body Dementia Association. Visit Shakti’s website at www.shaktigawain.com. Visit the Lewy Body Dementia Association donation link at www.lbda.org/go/honor-and-memorial-gifts
~ Kim Corbin, Senior Publicist, New World Library