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.
Desperate passage: The Donner Party’s Perilous Journey West, By Ethan Rarick
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.
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
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.
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.
Supernatural; Meeting with the Ancient Teachers of Mankind by Graham Hancock
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.
Arcana Mundi; Magic and the Occult in the Greeek and Roman Worlds – A Collection of Ancient Texts Translated, Annotated, and Introduced by Georg Luck.
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.