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: 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.

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

 

Book Review: Empedocles; Fragments and Commentary

Empedocles: Fragments and Commentary

Translated by Arthur Fairbanks 1864 -1944

I first came across the name Empedocles while reading The Praeger Encyclopedia of Ancient Greek Civilization. Yes I am that level of history geek that I read an encyclopedia front to back A-Z. The entries were good short reads while I was on break at work. I always got a book in my locker. Anyways it is a good acquisition for any serious scholar, I got mine used for three bucks from the local pagan shop The Magical Druid a few years ago.

So back to the subject at hand Empedocles. He was a Greek Philosopher that lived 490 – 430 B.C.E. making him a contemporary of Zeno of Elea.  The thing that caught my attention about his entry was that he had written an alternative cosmic cycle myth. I was curious to see what other origin myths the Greeks had come up with apart from what Hesiod and Plato had wrote. Apparently this philosopher had written two works On Nature and Purifications. The surviving works are in fragments and partially preserved as quotes in other authors works which is the “Commentary” part of the book. Aristotle and Plato are the authors that are used specifically as the commentators in the back of this book. Which because of its age is available free on the internet here is Empedokles books if you want to read it for yourself.

My assessment on the works themselves; I think that this is a great original source read for modern pagans. It is one man struggling to explain his vision of the forces of nature and comes up with the idea that every thing comes from the polarity of Love and Strife. He describes what we now call Yin & Yang. He talks about after the influence of the polarity struggle every thing is made up from the four elements  Earth, Air, Fire Water. He teaches reincarnation and transmigration of the soul. Wiki says this is because he was influenced by the Pythagoreans.  Yin & Yang, the Four Elements and Reincarnation! Empedocles is teaching Wicca 101!

On a theological note the Deities that he references in his works are The Muses, Aphrodite, and Strife.

 

Book Review: The Triumph of The Sea Gods

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The Triumph of The Sea Gods; The War Against The Goddess Hidden in Homer’s Tales. By Steven Sora.

This book blew my mind when I read it. I have been obsessively reading about ancient cultures for years trying to understand the how all the oddities that just don’t add up. From sacred geometry, parallel myths, complex astronomy, megaliths, lost civilizations like Atlantis, Lemuria and Mu. This book suddenly made every thing I have been reading make sense.

It is hard to compress a all the information in to a few paragraphs but I will try and perhaps it will be enough to inspire you to read this book for yourselves. Steven Sora boldly makes several arguments in this book that is not only believable it also challenges common assumptions about the origins of western culture. One of the things that he writes about is that Plato’s Atlantis, and Homer’s Troy are two variations of the same story. He then presents compelling evidence that this Trojan civilization is not in modern day Turkey but on the coast of Portugal. Some of the evidence he uses is the descriptions of weather and geography in Homer’s tales fit the Atlantic Ocean not the Mediterranean sea. He also uses archaeological data, and linguistics studies to support his case.

As for the books sub title “The War Against The Goddess Hidden in Homer’s Tales” He claims that the combined disaster of war and natural disasters of earth quake and tsunamis had a profound and demoralizing influence on peoples’ faith in the goddess centered religion(s) making the it easier for the incoming patriarchal religions  from the Indo-European cultures to take over. I am just summarizing  but it is worth it to read his detailed analyzes.

The author also spends a few chapters taking the reader through Odysseus homeward journey describing the most likely locations for his various ports of call. I don’t want to spoil it for the reader so I will not say were he ends up but when you find out I think you will be surprised.

I can honestly say stumbling upon this book at Half Price Books was meant to be. It honestly feels like I have been looking in all the wrong places for the answers to the questions burning in my mind. For I truly believe that understanding mankind’s ancient past is the key to finding out what 42 really means, well at least to me.