Book Reviews to Come

Thought I would give a list of the books I plan on reviewing in the months to come.

So here they are in no particular order.

  • Transcendental Magic by Eliphas Levi
  • Secrets of Gypsy Fortunetelling by Ray Buckland
  • Cicero by Anthony Everitt
  • The Nature of the Gods & On Divination by Marcus Tullius Cicero
  • Carthage Must Be Destroyed by Richard Miles
  • The Inheritance of Rome by Chris Wickham
  • 1177 B.C. The year Civilization Collapsed by Eric H. Cline
  • Star.Ships A Prehistory of the Spirits by Gordon White
  • Magician of the Gods by Graham Handcock
  • Caeser by Christian Meier
  • Seven Against Thebes by Aeschylus
  •  A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Centrury by Barbara W. Tuchman

This does not include any additional reviews from by guest blogger Arieanna

If you have any other books titles of books you would like to see reviewed please comment below. If there is a book in this list you would like me to move to the top of my reading schedule feel free to let me know.

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Book Review: Eliphas Levi and the French Occult Revival

Eliphas Levi and the French Occult Revival by Christoper McIntosh

This book was a fantastic read and I recommend it to any one interested in French History or Occult history.

The book itself is divided in to three parts. The first part starts in 1720 and it sets the stage for everything else to come. It weaves an interesting story of how religion, philosophy and  politics were interwoven and influenced each other.  It talks of the birth of the French branch of the Masons and their part in sparking the infamous French revolution. It is full of short biography of colorful character’s like; Saint -Germain, Martines Pasqually, Abbe Fournier, Antonine Joseph Pernety,  and Emanuel Swedenborg.  One of the characters that was influential to  Levi was Franz Anton Mesmer the pioneer of Hypnotism.

The second part of this book is Eliphas Levi’s biography. he was born February, 8th 1810 as Alphonse Louis Constant. His life is a bit of a roller coaster. He spend the early part of his life in the Catholic church devoted to becoming clergy. He reached the rank of Decon in 1835, but then he realized that love was missing from his life and so he left the church and well I don’t want to divulge too much but his love live could have been scripted by a those unsavory talk shows like Jerry Springer or Murray. After those failed adventures and several trips to jail for distributing politiacal propaganda he turned too the Occult full time and became one of the most influentual writers on the subject. If Gerald Gardner is the Father of Wicca Eliphas Levi is its illustrious grandfather.

The third part of the book goes on to describe the contentious developments in French occultism focusing on Levi’s influence. Fun fact Aleister Crowley believed himself to be the reincarnation of Eliphas Levi.

As a follow up to this book I am now reading Eliphas Levi’s Transcendental Magic, the A.E. Waite translation from 1896 reprinted in 1971. After reading his biography I feel reading some of his famous writings is a must. I feel it is important to follow the true geneology of modern occultism as far back as I can to understand why people now a days do things the way they do. I have a desire to filter out the modern fluff, glitter and black fingernail polish to discover the true core of  (for lack of a better terms) the occult, spirituality and paganism.

 

Book Review: “The Omniverse, Transdimensional Intelligence, Time Travel, the Afterlife, and the Secret Colony on Mars

“The Omniverse, Transdimensional Intelligence, Time Travel, the Afterlife, and the Secret Colony on Mars,”  by Alfred Lambremont Webre. Published by Bear & Company, 2015, 213 pages

Review by Guest Blogger Arieanna

Another library find. Hmm, how to start this.  I really enjoyed this book’s subject matter. It’s all about the scientific evidence supporting the existence of extraterrestrials, interdimensional civilizations, time travel, reincarnation, and the possibility that ET’s are involved in the reincarnation  of human souls for their own reasons. To me, the part of the book that delves into Barack Obama’s Mars experiences, presented fairly early in the book, is the hook to get you to read the rest of it. Because this book is not, repeat not, an easy read. I likened it to trying to slog your way through an organic chemistry textbook. Interesting subject matter, but hell to read.  It is a scholarly work obviously written for a scholarly audience. Even with a bachelor’s degree, I found myself consulting Dictionary.com several times to figure out what the author was trying to say. He LOVES expensive words and uses them almost to the exclusion of finding an easier way of explaining things. This is a shame, because if it was more accessible to a larger audience, his hypothesis might have a greater impact.  (A disclaimer; it’s quite possible that the fact I deal with 8th graders, who sometimes don’t read at grade level, has lowered my ability to adequately process higher level tomes.)

That being said, here is the author’s hypotheses:

These equations are the basis for the hypothesis I have termed “the dimensional ecology of the Omniverse.” . . .  Dimensional ecology, then, is the analysis and study of intersections among organisms and their environment in interlocking dimensions of existence, including the universes of the multiverse and the spiritual dimensions.” (pg 3)

Whew.  The easiest way I have come up with to try and bring his work down to my level of understanding, is that he is explaining the science behind the “out of this world” stuff that is shown in modern sci fi/fantasy/space movies. You know, the star-gate type teleportation portals that let the participants travel through time, space and dimensions. The author never makes this analogy, but its the best way I’ve come up with to explain this book.  He lays out his arguments and presents evidence to support them. He bases his arguments, more or less, on what it would take to prove his case in a court of law, using both legal and scientific evidence. (Which, come to think of it, could explain the high falutin’ language. Apologies, but it really was a challenge.) The bibliography and notes indicate that he references his own work quite a bit, not a huge amount but enough that I noticed it.  He also references various interviews that took place on the Coast to Coast AM radio show. I’ve listened to this show and can vouch that I often heard about things on that show that even though it sounded on the edge of believability, would later prove to be true. But I’m sure there are those out there who would consider such a source somewhat suspect because of the nature of quite a few of the shows’ eclectic content.

I am somewhat familiar with some of the topics and evidence he presented.  The descriptions of reincarnation experiences and those of higher level spiritual beings and the messages they convey, coincided quite nicely with the last book I reviewed.  I also think I might have heard at least some of the radio broadcast(s) he refers to. The coming earth changes and Transformation that he refers to are also familiar themes, to anyone who is paying attention to the world around them.

It is my opinion that he proves his hypothesis.  I would like to see it reworked so it would be more accessible to a wider audience.  It makes perfect sense.

Book Review: Many Lives, Many Masters

Many Lives, Many Masters by Brian L. Weiss, M.D. Copyright 1998, First Touchstone edition 2012, 220 pages.

Review by Guest Blogger Arieanna

I picked this book up at the local library.  It is an engaging, accessible read. The most ‘technical’ aspect of this book was the preface in which Dr. Weiss lists his impressive and extensive qualifications.  He is a prominent psychiatrist and this book is based on his experiences with a patient starting in 1980. This patient, Catherine, came to him for treatment for various issues.  During her treatment, he hypnotized her to try and uncover forgotten childhood memories that might be at the root of her problems. Lo, and behold, she regressed beyond this life to a previous incarnation where she lived in ancient Egypt.

Dr. Weiss was completely taken aback by this unexpected development as none of his previous patients had ever regressed past their current lifetimes; and the idea of reincarnation was not an idea that he had previously entertained. The book details the progression of Catherine’s treatment, and various lives that she had experienced; as well as Dr. Weiss’s research into reincarnation and his realization that there is much more to know.  He also discusses his own struggles to comprehend what was happening and how to mesh it with his scientific training and education which often discounted the soul. He also explores his personal spiritual awakening as, over time, Catherine’s regressions brought forth other souls, guides and masters, that informed Dr. Weiss that these experiences were for him and not just Catherine.

The book is well written, and straightforward.  He discusses how there really is a ‘cosmic karma’; that our actions in this life will have an impact on the next, until our soul learns the lesson.  The essential message I derived from this book is that death is not to be feared. Most of us have lived many lives, each one to learn something we need to know, and that we will live other lives to complete our soul’s education. “Our bodies are temporary.  We are souls. We are immortal; we are eternal. We never die; we merely transform to a heightened state of consciousness, . . . We are always loved.”(pg 219) How beautiful. Give this book a whirl, it’s worth the time to read it and it’s message of hope and love. It will most assuredly make you think.

Clash of the Pantheons:

The description of my blog is “a blog dedicated to my adventures in studying Neo-Paganism in central Ohio.”, and I feel like I have not written a whole lot on that topic. So today I thought I would tackle a topic not often talked about. “Clash of the Pantheons”.

Back in the late 90s-early 2000s there was a strong trend in Wicca of “plug-and-play” deities. It was widely excepted that the gods were just archetypes and any deity of the desired archetype could be inserted ritual and spell work. As someone that was devoted to a specific Pantheon that rubbed me the wrong way. I felt to was kind of disrespectful to the deities. I also robbed the practitioner and the deity of the full richness of that deities cultural background. while I still feel that way I realize now that experimenting with different deities till you find the ones that resonate with you is not a bad thing for beginners.

Moving forward to the present. As I have mentioned before I have been attending ADF Druid rituals to celebrate the Wheel of the Year. I am running in to a road block as it were. They are Druids and as such a majority of their rituals are to Celtic deities. I only work with the Roman/Hellenistic pantheon. While at first it was neat learning more about Celtic deities I am beginning to feel uncomfortable attending the rituals. Giving lip service to a god I don’t honor just to socialize feels shallow. On top of this the increasing dissatisfaction with the politics of this grove is making socialization itself feel shallow. The simplest solution would be to stop attending but that is not the overall point of this post. The point is asking the question:

“How do you deal with being at a public ritual that honors a deity you don’t know or care about?”

I asked around on Facebook and got the following suggestions:

  • Enjoy the socialization and community of the other attendees.
  • Look at it as an opportunity to learn a new deity.
  • Identify and Appreciate the Archetype

Yeah Okay I’ve tried all that. Those may work for other people but it is not working for me. It is like going to the birthday party of someone you don’t know just because your friends are there. It is awkward and rude. It also feels like I am disrespecting my own pantheon when I work with other deities. Maybe I am just too set in my ways? Maybe I should take people’s advise and get over my feelings and go anyways? But why? If I am not getting anything out of attending what is the point of going? It would be no different than an Atheist going to Church just because the people he want to be friends with are? It is faking it in hopes things will get better. Dose that ever really work? No wonder so many people prefer to be solitary practitioners it is so much easier. No social drama and no dealing with a Clash of Pantheons.

I suppose from the outside looking in a clash of pantheons is a ridiculous situation. My imaginary friends and your imaginary friends don’t want to play together. Does this count as an adventure in paganism? Dealing with the pitfalls of group dynamics, emotional discomfort, and strange gods? Well it would if this was a game of Dungeons & Dragons it would so sure an adventure then.

How many other people out there have a similar problem? How do you deal with going to a public / group ritual where they are honoring deities foreign to you?

 

 

Book Review: Desperate Passage

Desperate passage: The Donner Party’s Perilous Journey West, By Ethan Rarick

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Did you ever play the game Oregon Trail? If you did you may have a small idea of the dangers faced by pioneers as they plodded west in hopes of a better life. Grass is always greener on the other side of the continent right? Anyway this book focus on the story of the Donner party. The Donner party was made of several families with lots of kids. They had sold all their various properties, packed their wagons and plodded west towards the Francisco bay with excitement and optimism. They faced a race against time, once they left Independence, Missouri in May they had to traverse the the vast distance to the Sierra Nevada Mountains and cross them before the winter.  It seamed like an easy goal, but much like the infamous Titanic  it is common knowledge that they failed that race.

So if we know they failed why bother to read this book? Because this book is exactly why I love reading history,  the truth is far stranger than fiction could ever be. This story is not just a true life American horror story, it is story of survival. It is a story of  of the enduring human spirit and tenacity. It is about heroes, self sacrifice and family bonds. This book also begs the question “What would you do if you found yourself in the same situation?’ Would you eat the body of your dead family members just to stay alive, or feed them to your children to keep them alive? Could you cross a mountain with no food and in a blizzard facing certain death for the of slim chance that it could save everyone else? You should read the book to see how these pioneers wrestled with these issues and social taboos. You should also read it because it is a great story of overcoming what the world throws at you.

 

 

 

Book Review: Herbal Tea for the Pagan Spirit.

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Herbal Tea for the Pagan Spirit; Inspirational Stories of the Pagan Path by Emerys Somerled.

A Short review for a short book, only 141 pages.  This is a collection of feel good stories about people practicing paganism, similar to the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” book series. It is the kind of book one can in squeeze in to short amounts of time like coffee breaks at work. It leaves you feeling all warm and fuzzy. This is a book I plan on loaning out to friends because it is a great pick me up for people that feel are feeling a disconnect from their chosen spiritual path. It is also a great read for solitary practitioners that are feeling a little too isolated and alone and want to feel some connection to the larger pagan community.

If you are are looking for more books that are full of pagans sharing their personal stories you might also want to check out . Cakes and Ale for the Pagan Soul, edited by Patricia Telesco