Book Review: Supernatural; Meeting with the Ancient Teachers of Mankind

Supernatural; Meeting with the Ancient Teachers of Mankind by Graham Hancock

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This is the third book I have read by Graham Hancock. The previous two were Fingerprints of the Gods, and Underworld. Fingerprints of the Gods does a side by side comparison between the ancient Egyptians and ancient Central Americans cultures like the Olemecs and the Mayans that suggest a third party interacted with both ancient societies. Underworld explores global flood myths and underwater archaeological sites trying to piece together evidence of a pre-ice age global civilization. In short this author has a reputation as someone that challenges what we know about ancient history. I expected nothing less from Supernatural.

In this book Graham Hancock  reaches in to mankind’s past and tries to find the root of religion. The book is a roller-coaster ride of unlikely topics getting puzzle pieced together. He initially sets out discover why there was spontaneous changes in human behavior that lead us from primitive animals bent on just survival to cultures with religion and artistic expression. He believes this is humans stumbling in the realm of Supernatural. Early man had some sort of encounter with other that sparked the idea of gods and spirits. He believes there is more to the myths than making some shit up to explain natural events like rain and earthquakes. He believes that various early human groups around the world stumbled in to various hallucination methods that launched shamanistic practices that lead to the creation of religions. The logical thing for him to at this point was to study shamanism cultures to find similarities. His studies lead him to taking hallucinogenic drugs with shamans in the Amazon. But his search for answers takes an interesting twist. He looks at various studies conducted by universities on hallucinations and makes some startling discoveries. humans seam to see the same basic themes over and over again leaving him to ask but why?

The meat of the book compares the striking similarities between shamanic trances, studies on drug hallucinations, alien abductions, and fairy encounters. He throws out the various hypotheses as why all these people under vastly cultures, time frames and situations keep seeing the same things. My understanding of his writings is that he believes some form some intelligent design (aliens, inter-dimensional beings, Gods) programmed information in our DNA that is only accessible under certain conditions. These conditions are trigger by a chemical reaction in the brain caused by either drugs, trance states, or physical stress. Alternatively the mind / contentiousness of individuals slip in to an alternative world like a radio station turning the dial. I that I felt he ultimately left it open for the reader to decide.

I found it an entertaining read that presented some very interesting evidence and arguments. How does this book effect my personal beliefs? I find the idea of a common human condition to see the same symbols regardless of when and where they are from fascinating. I also think it gives me a new perspective on ancient art and myths. So I would say it adds to my study of symbolism.

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Book Review: Arcana Mundi; Magic and the Occult in the Greek and Roman Worlds.

Arcana Mundi; Magic and the Occult in the Greeek and Roman Worlds – A Collection of Ancient Texts Translated, Annotated, and Introduced by Georg Luck.

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This book is contains pieces from 130 ancient text ranging from the eight century BCE to fourth century CE. Georg Luck has arranged these text in to six categories: Magic, Miracles, Daemonology, Divination, Astrology, and Alchemy. He gives introductions to each category and explaining its importance in the ancient world. The texts he uses illuminate the migration and acceptance of ideologies from outside cultures like the Egypt and Persia.  Most of these text give first or secondhand accounts of the various subjects and how the impacted everyday life in Ancient Greece and Rome.

In his selection and presentation of these text Georg Luck tries to show how peoples attitudes toward magic evolved. The epilogue takes the reader in to the lingering legacy of ancient magic in the middle ages, particularly in the church. If he had an agenda in this book it was to illustrate where these church practices originate. He does so in a rather scholarly way that I feel doesn’t  bash pagan or Christians. He includes a very interesting Appendix article titled Psychoactive Substances in Religion and Magic that hypothesis that both the Old Testament and the Early Church used incense with psychoactive substances to enhance their religious experience.  There is also a glossary of Greek and Latin words that are relevant to the subject of ancient magic.

I think this book is a great research tool for anyone wanting to delve deeper in to the subject of magic learning where traditions started and how they were practiced.  This book is also great for anyone studying early Christian history along with ancient Greek, Roman, and Egyptian cultures. I enjoyed the read, personal I feel the older the source materials are the closer we are to understanding how our ancestors thought. Learning the evolution of  cultures helps us not only understand our past, it helps us see where humanity is possibly heading.

Book Review: Cicero On The Good Life

This book contains five of Marcus Tullius Cicero’s ( 106 – 43 B.C.E.) works. I have include available Wikipedia links on the works for the curious mind to explore further.

  1. Discussions at Tusculum
  2. On Duties
  3. Laelius: On Friendship
  4. On The Orator
  5. The Dream of Scripio

First off I want to say what an excellent job the the translator Michael Grant did in creating very informative introductions for each of Cicero’s works. He explains during which part of Cicero’s life each piece is written. He explains what point of history Cicero is referring to in his works. He includes information that gives details about who, what, and when Cicero is referencing other pieces of literature.

“The Discussions at Tusculum” is written as a conversation between Cicero and his friends. The Discussions are made up of five parts but this book only includes the last part. The conversation that takes place largely focused on debating what whether of a happy life is mostly derived from living virtuously or luck and favoritism of fate and the gods. They also discus the various aspects of virtues and what is “a good life”. I found it reminiscent of Plato’s characterization of Socrates.

“On Duties” to quote Michael Grant is “a manual which provided a system of applied ethics and, in the process, sought to justify Cicero’s own standards of behavior and his carer.” It is dedicated to Cicero’s son Marcus and sums up his view of how society had evolved and the direction he feels it should aim itself.

“Laelius: On Friendship” discusses the  importance of friendship, how to develop it and how it should ideally work.

“On The Orator” was my least favorite of the five works in this collection. Much like “The Discussions at Tusculum” it reads like a debate among friends about what is oration. They discuss why they feel it is a necessary skill and a noble occupation.

“The Dream of Scripio” was my favorite part of the book. It delves in to the subject of immortality and the afterlife. It is poetic in the way it describes how people are all made from the stars and connected to the universe. It also shows just how much the Romans Knew about geography and astrology. For me one of the real philosophical treats was the discussion of how the planets made music and connecting music to the sacred mystery of the universe. To be honest if I was to piece together my own bible from ancient literature “The Dream of Scripio” would be included along with Cicero’s other great work “On The Nature of The Gods”.

 

 

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Book Review: Tribes of Ancient Britain and Germany

Tribes of Ancient Britain and Germany by Publius Cornelius Tacitus (56 – 117 C.E.), Edited and Introduced by Bob Carruthers.  This book talks about the conquest of the Britain and Germany by the Romans from the Roman point of view. As such, it is a great resource for studying all three ancient cultures.

The first section of the book is only 31 pages long and is titled, “The Tribes of Ancient Britain” follows the career of  Tactitus’s father-in-law Cnaeus Julii Agricola. He served a military apprenticeship in Britain under the command of Sutonius Pallinus. The passage follows Agricola after his apprenticeship giving a brief glimpse into Roman politics. It also gives a glimpse of the world of the ancient people of Britannia. It includes the story of the British uprising lead by the warrior Queen Boudicea.  Agricola returned to Britain shortly after Boudicea’s uprising had been put down, and took up arms against the remaining British resistance.

The second section is titled “A Treatise On The Situation, Manners And Inhabitants Of Germany”. This section is 65 pages but it includes a lot of foot notes that sometimes take up most of a page by themselves. This reading would have been improved upon, if a map had been added by the editor. To me, the most interesting part of the section was towards the end, when the author is discussing the religion of the ancient Germans. This depiction is similar to the rituals of the Celts / Druids described by Julius Caesar in his book “Conquest of Gaul”, which is another great primary source if you are interested in the Romans or the Celts.  I feel this work went a little further than Caesar’s account because it compares the religious practices of several different tribes against each other. These differences include gods/goddesses, sacrifices and divination. The one common thread is the veneration of sacred groves of trees.

Overall I feel Agricola’s work a must read for anyone studying Ancient Roman, Celtic, or German culture. It is also a good read for individuals that enjoy military history.

 

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First Weeks Fall

September is gone and October is just begun.  In those first few weeks of fall I spent my leisure time gathering walnuts from both my back yard and the woods to get enough to make walnut baklava later.  I also went paw-paw  hunting. For those that don’t know a paw paw is a tropical like fruit that grows in the Appalachian area of the USA. It can only be harvested during mid September. It is a local only treat that taste like summers’s last hurrah, with its banana /mango like flavor and custard texture.

My garden is just about done for the season. My pepper plants are still doing good, still producing hot peppers. My daughter harvested her 50lb pumpkin that she grew from the seeds of last years Jack-o-lantern. My cabbages were under the pumpkin leaves and it stunted their growth. I am hoping they will make a come back now that the pumpkin plant has been removes from the garden bed.

I celebrated Mabon with the Three Cranes ADF grove again. I don’t think they have the video of the public ritual up, but they did make a video for solitary practitioners that I am including in this post for those interested.

I came across a YouTube video called “A Tale of two Heras” that got my creative juices flowing. I am thinking about adding a category to focus on my view of the various Greek and Roman gods.  To supplement between my garden updates, and book reviews.  I have also been listing to a few other of Mirth and Reverence videos that has got me reflecting on my early days of learning about Wicca. I have been so busy with work and school and life that I haven’t focused as much as I want to on my spiritual growth as I have wanted to. (or blogged for that matter.  Been thinking on how I can fit it in to my busy schedule better. Been wanting to reread several of my books to brush up on Neo-Pagan basics. I haven’t done any proper meditating lately, let alone try trance working. I want to get more familiar with the Ogham system of divination. I also need to get through my pile of books sitting on my night stand. So I am going to make a point of trying to do more of those things between now and the spring equinox. Also still debating about whether I want to just stay as a “friend of the grove” or buy the full ADF membership. I want to join but until I finish this degree I don’t have the time to dedicate to it like I want.

So that is my summery of this part of the season, hope all is going well with you my dear readers.

Farewell to Summer

This has been a rather remarkable summer for me. July started by me finally getting my Triple Goddess tattoo finished. I had a basic outline of the triple moon )0( on my chest when I was 18. Seventeen years later I had the center moon filled in to resemble the silver millennial crystal from sailor moon to represent transformation and growth. The side moons were colored in gold so the whole thing looks like a piece of jewelry. I then had a laurel wreath added behind it to represent my dedication to the Greek and Roman pantheon.

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The boyfriend took me to see the Roger Waters Concert, which was a neat experience. We then hit up the Dublin Irish Festival and watched The  Three Cranes Grove do their Lugahnasadh Rite.  I also manage to make it to two of their Druid Moon events which are much smaller celebrations to individual Celtic deities. I have been a solitary practitioner since I was 16 years old and working in a group setting a fun and challenging. Learning so much from the Druids been bringing elements of the ADF in to my home practice. I learned Wiccan principals early on because that is the only books you could find back in the day.  But I can say that I find the ADF format more satisfying. While Wicca seems to have a larger focus on spell craft the ADF is more focused on the connection with the Deities, Ancestors, and Nature Spirits.

The highlight of the summer was driving the six hours down to southern Kentucky to see the total eclipse. We drove down the day before and camped in Logan county. It was neat getting to meet so many other people at the campsite that came to see the same thing. Some came from as far as Vermont, New York and Florida. It was a fantastic yet fleeting moment. The sky looked like it was simultaneously sunrise and sunset, all purple and pinks.

My garden produces tomatoes and peppers faster than we could eat them and had to get creative with them in the kitchen making salsa, dehydrated tomatoes, homemade pasta sauce, and pizzas. The ground cherries were a fantastic first and going try lots more next year. we also got a pumpkin that is taking over everything like a slow moving monster. Pumpkinzilla has crowed out my cabbages…so no cabbages this year. 😦

Spent lots of time at the local metro parks enjoying the mild weather and all the flowers and trees. Had several close encounters with blue herons, owls, turtles and deer at the parks which was neat.

The days are shorter, the nights are cooler and there is a hint of autumn in the air. Plus pumpkin-spice-a-palooza has begun. Things are great here in the Buckeye state.

June in the Garden

In my last gardening post I was chomping at the bit to get outside and get my hands in to the dirt. Turns out I should have waited  a little longer cause we had a late frost a week after I got everything planted. Despite putting a frost cover over my plants I lost several and some of my seeds never germinated. Well I guess that is what I get for being impatient.

Despite the set backs my little garden is growing well. I have already gotten several salads from my lettuce and radishes. I am growing four different kinds of tomatoes, and peppers. Got squash, carrots and cabbages again this year. The new veggies I am trying to cultivate are potatoes, asparagus, and ground cherries (a cousin of the tomato). Got a lot of new herbs too, sage, basil, rosemary, chive, parsley, and spearmint. why so many new plants? Its because I have doubled my garden bed from last year. I have four 5*5′ beds. I also created a 20*3 long strip by my fence for blueberry bushes. The one down side of  the blueberry bushes is it will be several years till they are mature enough to harvest.

I also am fortunate enough to have a mulberry tree in my yard and have picked over a gallon of berries off of it so far. I have dehydrated 1/3 of them for use in tea though out the year. I have made pancake syrup, and popsicles with some of the fruit and frozen the rest for convenient use in smoothies or pies.

So far so good. I hope my fellow gardeners are having great luck with their gardens too.