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The Dimensions of Paradise March 29, 2018

Posted by Luke in Book Review, Non-Fiction, Outside the Lines.
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Dimensions of paradise

It’s unfortunate that in recent years the ‘Da Vinci Code phenomenon’ has sensationalized and thereby trivialized the reality of multiple levels of information in ancient texts.  Such levels exist.  But they are not the sensationalized “code” of national bestsellers or Hollywood scripts.  The Dimensions of Paradise by John Michell is a work about the underlying information in the biblical book of Revelation, specifically the 21st chapter and the measurements of The New Jerusalem.  It follows along lines of ancient cosmology and language, not modern superstitions about the end of the world.

Unlike the mistaken way most interpreters grapple with Revelation, i.e. as if it were written to foretell the future, Michell approaches the text with something of the mind of the ancient Hellenistic world.  As a student of Platonic philosophy and the religious spirit of that time, he doesn’t make the mistake of reading a text concerned with eternal principles as if it were concerned with mere historical prediction.  He doesn’t approach the text as if it were written for the modern mind.

Michell’s interpretation of the symbols in Revelation begins with the ancient alpha-numeric science called “gematria.”  Many ancient languages, including the Greek in which Revelation is written, contain alphabets whose characters function not only as phonetic symbol, but numeric value as well.  In Greek, for example, there is no separate system of numeration.  If an ancient Greek writer wanted to short-hand a numeric value, he would string together a group of appropriate letters.  Because of this phenomenon then, every word in the language equates to a number value.  This word-number correlation gave rise to a system of encoding information through names, words, and phrases in a text that isn’t visible through the surface story, and is lost entirely in translation.  Michell understands this ancient method and uses it to unravel key information from the text.  He explains each step as he goes along.

Michell’s major contention is that the measurements of the New Jerusalem reflect a standard set of dimensions applied to numerous physical sites around the world, such as Stonehenge, as well as other mythical sites such as Plato’s imagined city of Magnesia.  This standard set of dimensions he terms the “Greek number canon.”  He dedicates an entire chapter to the major numbers of this canon and what they symbolize.  This canonization of number and proportion was intended to radiate into every aspect of society: art, education, architecture, and law.  If followed without deviation, civilization could expect continued health and prosperity.

This book will be more enjoyable for English readers who can read some ancient Greek.  It’s not written exclusively for those folks, however, as Michell translates the Greek words and phrase appearing in his book.  It’s written for anyone interested in the subjects of ancient cosmology, Greek number science, and biblical symbolism.

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Unmasking Egyptian Religion February 15, 2018

Posted by Luke in Book Review, Non-Fiction, Outside the Lines, Thoughtful Ramblings.
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The Kemetic Tree of Life

My fascination with ancient Egypt goes back as far as I can remember.  Sculpture, temple ruins, pyramids, animal headed gods, and walls filled with hieroglyphs have always remained a fascination.  But it’s been my experience that most books on ancient Egypt scratch only a little below the surface of its cultural remains or long-held conventional conclusions.

The Kemetic Tree of Life is for the serious seeker after the symbolism and mysticism of ancient Egypt.  It is an exploration of the oldest of the several major religious systems to come out of ancient Egyptian culture.  These several systems were in no way opposed to each other.  Rather, each one focused on a different aspect of the Egyptians’ concept of Immanent Reality.  The Kemetic Tree discusses the tradition that arose in the city of Anu, or the “Anunian Theurgy.”

“Kemetic” is an anglicized form of the ancient Egyptians’ term for their own country, the land of Khem.

Popular nonfiction works on ancient Egypt tend to be academically guarded and unwilling to offer conclusive specifics concerning Egypt’s spiritual systems, or they talk about Egyptian spirituality with constant reminders – subtle or otherwise – about its superstitious and primitive nature.  The latter is simply modern arrogance.  Dr. Ashby’s depth is refreshingly different.  He doesn’t approach the remnants of ancient Egypt as an academic, but as a practitioner of its spiritual science.  He appears to have a command of hieroglyphic symbol and the ancient Egyptian language.  His text incorporates approximations of the Egyptian vocabulary – key words and phrases relevant to an understanding of the Anunian Theurgy specifically and Egyptian spirituality generally.  I had to start a file to keep them straight.  In this way, his book parallels many Western works on Eastern philosophy and religion, e.g. Hinduism, where ancient Sanskrit terms are incorporated throughout.  He also does not use the classic Hellenized names for Egypt’s gods – Osiris, Isis, Horus, Anubis, etc., but instead retains the Egyptian approximations – Asar, Aset, Heru, Anpu, etc.  The Kemetic Tree also includes many figures of hieroglyphic images and mythological scenes.  Essentially, the book is intended to initiate the reader into living this spiritual science.  Its chapters include lectures, questions and answers, and sections to promote meditative journaling.

A drawback to the text is that it’s poorly proofread, if at all.  The author writes in a very conversational style which often sets an enjoyable pace for reading.  But it lends itself to run-on sentences, strange phrasings, and numerous grammatical errors that can grind that enjoyable pace to a halt.  Since Dr. Ashby is in something of a class by himself in presenting such profound and sophisticated teachings in an easily readable and digestible way, I wish the text’s final grammatical form were in pristine condition.  It would make The Kemetic Tree even more enjoyable.

Even though the style of writing is non-academic, as a seeker I enjoy seeing sources for the information presented, especially when an author makes claims and presents information very few others have offered.  The information Ashby presents is in no way outlandish, although it may certainly seem so to someone reading him without the proper background in ancient religious systems and symbols – the very different mentality of antiquity relative to the present day.  But nonetheless, the boldness and intricacy of Ashby’s statements seems to demand numerous and varied sources for credibility.  Unfortunately, he does not offer many sources outside his own writings.  He’s written prolifically; and The Kemetic Tree is not the first book he’s written.  Perhaps sources outside his own research and intuitive recognition are given in some of his other works.

We’re Going -Outside the Lines! September 12, 2016

Posted by stacey in Outside the Lines, Thoughtful Ramblings.
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Are you ready to see library staff-outside the library?! We’re coming to *you* this week while we participate in Outside the Lines, a nation-wide program that celebrates the creativity and innovation happening in libraries.

If you want to catch up with us this week, you’ll find us in a variety of places throughout the city. We’ll be looking for people reading -and that might win you a small reward!- at random times and places during the day. We’ll be asking you to stop by the Rocky River Senior Center (Monday, September 12th from 1:00-1:30) and Mitchell’s ice cream on Detroit Road (Wednesday, September 14th from 2:30-3:00) to talk about what you’re reading, or for suggestions on what you might want to read next! We’ll also be offering a brief walking tour of Rocky River’s historic Old Detroit Road area (Thursday, September 15th at 11:30 in front of Tartine Bistro.)

We look forward to seeing you this week -out and about!

— Stacey