Books Reviews



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Author: Glen A. Mazis (@)
Title: The Trickster, Magician & Grieving Man
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Bear & Company
Rated: *****

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First off I must say that the final conclusion of this book reminds me much of Mysteries of the Dark Moon by Demetra George except that there is more of a focus on they way that situations can be mishandled, especially by men. I must also say that for anyone who already feels that they have their own issues with 'typical male' characteristics and have strived not to fit this stereotype you may want to skip forward to Chapter 6 and begin reading here. From this point on the book is excellent. Unfortunately, the redundance of the prior chapters made me almost not finish the book.

The main attitude of the book has much to do with how men relate to emotions both their own and those around them. It also tends to suggest the interconnectivity of all things. It is finally stated in this book that men should truly allow themselves to feel their grief and the grief of others around then rather than attempting to build walls to shut this out. By building these barriers we tend to create a situation in which we are more liable to do much more harm then good to those around us and eventually to ourselves.

The main interest in the first 5 chapters is that the author sites many examples of this male ego which tends to barricade, fly above situations or simply attack from afar. He sites examples from a range of modern film, ancient mythology as well as the Desert Storm of recent years. I especially like the mention of such films as Falling Down, The Fisher King and The Unforgiven and how the male characters in these movies relate (or lack to relate) to their environment and the individuals they affect. I am surprised that there was no mention of the ever popular film The Wall by Pink Floyd as this is another great example of what the author depicts and what 'not' to do.

Overall, I think it's a good book but not great though the information contained within the last few chapters is. It almost seems as if the author began his writing at chapter 6 and then elaborated on the last paragraph in the book to create the first 5 chapters so his novel would be large enough and there would be a beginning and end tie in.

The last few chapters I would highly recommend that any man read simply because even when we try not to become the 'typical male' we sometimes end up there and it can sometimes be our own undoing, especially in relationships. I would also recommend the entire book to anyone who would continue to idolize the typical hero characters in which the hero is depicted as having to detroy his enemies or do any other such harm in order to achieve his goals. This is what the author calls the Herculean model of the hero and he offers the alternatives through the Trickster, Magician and the Grieving Man.

Note from Glen: I'm including this as it helped me better understand the book's structure and I hope it will assist others as well.

Thanks for reading the book and thanks for the review. It was interesting to read it. You obviously are a sensitive person. There is a sharp break between the first five chapters and the rest of the book. I wrote the first part of the book at a somewhat earlier point and was inspired in that part of the book by much of my own
anger against what males had done to each other and by various hurts I had suffered (especially from my own father). After I wrote that part of the book and let it sit for another six months, I took up writing the second half of the book with a different
level of excitement and feeling nourished by the writing process. I guess that shows in the book. Anyway, thanks for the thoughtful and fair response to the book. Take care, Glen

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Author: Erich Neumann
Title: The Origins and History of Consciousness
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Rated: *****

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This is one of the first of Erich's works to be translated into English. As a student of Carl Jung, with an introduction by the same featured in the book, it is obvious that not only did Erich manage to fully grasp the concepts of Jungian depth psychology but Jung himself declares that his student has surpassed and compiled his works. This book is broken up into two main sections in which we first step through the evolution of 'myth' utilizing the archetypes contained therin. Erich makes it very clear that he utilizes multi-cultural aspects from various world myths from differing timeframes. However one can easily see the basic development of myth that is used throughout all of mythology. The second portion of the text takes us again through the same basic steps only this time we are tracing the evolution of consciousness and the ego. One begins to readily understand how mythology works as a symbol to understand our own conscious development not only individually from the womb but also as a collective consciousness and culture in general. While some may view the Jungian perspectives as be patriarchal I personally find anyone who does so to be limited in their thinking and trivial as it is obvious that while we are speaking of a collective we can see the obvious turn our world's religions and cultural societies have taken toward patriarchy. I believe the growth will continue and turn toward feminism again. Not only that but if you think Erich is patriarchal in his views then why would he have even taken the time to write The Great Mother. About a year ago this month I was reviewing Joseph Campbell's The Power of Myth. In reading books like Neumann's Origins.. it becomes very easy to see where mythologists like Campbell get their ideas from. Jung is recommended and practically required reading for anyone interested in the study or elevation of consciousness regardless of the method used. You will find many modern metaphysical works with obvious influences from Jungian depth psychology as well. Neumann can simply save one a lot of time reading all the collective works of Jung with his summation and extensions.
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Author: Joseph Campbell
Title: The Power of Myth
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Anchor Books/Doubleday
Rated: *****

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Based on a six-part PBS television series hosted by Bill Moyers in which Moyers interviews with mythologist Joseph Campbell and asks many questions regarding his life's study and writings regarding world myths and their meaning and influence on the human experience. My own impression was that this book (and the series of interviews) are very revealing of the human psyche and our search for the meaning of our existence, how myth is the root of all the world's religions and that mythic symbolism is the same throughout. If you wish to have a much broader understanding of world mythologies and religions then I highly suggest you first read this book. It is a true eye-opener! Campbell has a unique way of bringing the knowledge and mythology of ancient cultures into perspective for modern minds and can just as easily help the common laymen understand mythic symbols in ancient Sumerian culture as he can in George Lucus' Star Wars epic. Through the medium of mythic symbols Campbell helps display how all world religions are connected and that they are all attempting to portray an understanding of the human spiritual existence and the nature of the world around us. In other words myth portrays the unseen and sometimes 'unknown' around us but that is all part of universal or cosmic law and structure. With this understanding one realizes that all religions are valid and all religions are flawed to some extent as well. True spirituality seekers will learn to read beyond the religious dogma or mythic stories of the ages and see the universal Truths held within them all. "The main motifs of the myths are the same, and they have always been the same. If you want to find your own mythology, the key is with what society do you associate?...The only mythology that is valid today is the mythology of hte planet" If nothing else we can all learn to at least follow these words of Joseph Campbell to help improve our own quality of life, "Follow your bliss". "Are you going to be a person of heart and humanity--because that's where the life is, from the heart...". He also makes some interesting statements regarding such ancient traditions as ritual and magic which help shed some light on these subjects which remain severely clouded by those individuals in our society who are unfamiliar with it's practices. He also defines ritual as the enactment of a myth. In the following passage he discusses how these traditions differ from fundamentalist religions today in their relationship with nature. "In the nineteenth century, scholars thought of mythology and ritual as an attempt to control nature. But that is magic, not mythology or religion. Nature religions are not attempts to control nature but to help you put yourself in accord with it. But when nature is thought of as evil, you don't put yourself in accord with it, you control it, or try to, and hence the tension, the anxiety, the cutting down of forests, the annihilation of native people. And the accent here separates us from nature." There are many other aspects of the book which could keep anyone discussing the topics for ages. He discusses everything from Jungian philosophy to the Gaia Principle, Christianity to Paganism, The human psyche and the unconscious mind, various symbols and myths worldwide and how they have affected our culture both in the past and the present. You will also find much discussion about sacredness, vision quests, shamanism, and many other aspects of our human quest for the divine.
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Author: Joseph Campbell
Title: The Hero With A Thousand
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Rated: *****

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With this book Joseph Campbell takes the reader on a journey which deciphers the ancient archetypes of myth to make them more understandable and bring to light the spiritual Truths within. Using comparisons from various world mythologies one begins to comprehend the meaning behind the stories and their relevance to mankind from all ages past and present. It seems that recent studies in psychology have helped to uncover the archetypes of the subconscious mind through methods such as dream therapy. These are the same archetypes of mythology worldwide. This book goes much further in depth than The Power of Myth and it becomes easy to see a larger scale picture of ancient spiritual practices and beliefs, their relevance, and how modern man can utilize this to rebuild part of the missing psyche of today and why many of us have the issues we do. One can easily see that all world religions and myths hold the Truths of spirituality of mankind and that they are the same basic concepts for all systems. I would consider this a must read for anyone interested in studies in consciousness, meditation, mythology, spirituality or ritual.
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Author: Diane Wolkstein (@)
Title: Inanna: Queen of Heaven and Earth
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Perennial
Rated: *****

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This book comes highly recommended as the most informative book written so far regarding the goddess Inanna of ancient cultures. The Sumerian hymns and stories included are translated from the actual cuneiform tablets which compose the most complete collection of these writings so far. This book is an excellent read for anyone interested in learning about Inanna whether for personal (spiritual) reasons or for historical reasons this book is essential. Interestingly enough I found my introduction to these ancient writings a bit revealing. It seems that not only were the Sumerians to hold what is known as the first story of creation in the huluppu tree which predates the biblical Genesis by thousands of years but it seems that they also wrote the first erotica for there are many references to Inanna's vulva in the text. Following the stories and hymns are some very informative commentaries. These give some interesting information regarding the "cradle of civilization" and its history, culture and literature. It also discusses the deciphering process and the history of the finding of the tablets and the process of putting the pieces together. You will also find some interpretive discussion regarding the text and annotation about the art used in the book which are mostly photos of pictographs and sculptures from ancient Sumeria.
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