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.
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.
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.
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.
- Discussions at Tusculum
- On Duties
- Laelius: On Friendship
- On The Orator
- 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”.
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.