Book Review: The Divine Feminine in Ancient Europe

Book Review

The Divine Feminine in Ancient Europe: Goddesses, Sacred Women and the Origins of Western Culture

      by Sharon Paice MacLeod

Review by Karl Schlotterbeck

Cover for Divine Feminine in Ancient Europe.This work is an exploration of the presence of the Divine Feminine throughout European history in all her diversity. The book is intelligent without being dry, uses image without falling into fantasy, and is factual without boring the reader. Rather than some cold piercing gaze of analytics, Sharon Paice MacLeod embraces her subject with clear-eyed warmth.

She works through the first half of the book deconstructing our popular modern mythologies about the Feminine Divine by taking us through Paleolithic, Mesolithic, Neolithic, and Bronze-age periods, describing what we can know of history based on burial practices, architecture, artistic creations, implements and other artifacts. She shows us a much richer tapestry of European development than would be evident in many popular accounts. In so doing, she restores the beautiful diversity and depth of the Feminine Divine by exposing modern myths promulgated by empire builders and cultural biases – such as myths about the singular basis of our culture in Greek and Roman civilization, and the reductionist notion of a pervasive Mother Goddess tradition. Goddess-based religions, she shows, were not uniform nor based only on fertility or mothering, but arose everywhere, in many different forms, reflecting every aspect of life.

Most chapters begin with a brief narrative story of how things might have been, given the information she then explores. She gives the reader a feeling of being inside the subject, from a place where the people lived out the things she discusses. She provides enough data to give us a feel for the times without getting lost in minutiae.

Recognizing that history is connected to the present, without being preachy, she calls attention to parallels between our own time, climate changes in the Paleolithic and Mesolithic times, and enriches her text by using quotes from indigenous peoples who still have a close relationship with the Earth as did our ancestors.

The Divine Feminine in Ancient Europe is a firm but gentle call to restore our ancestors’ place in history, which was shaped by the land, with recognition of the interactive relationship among humanity, the Earth and its cycles, and the wide spectrum of roles play by the Divine Feminine.

She helps us to remember – not just remember history, but to honor the breadth and intelligence of our ancestors’ lives and their spiritual relationships, as well as calling us to restore our own relationship with and responsibility to the world around us. I hear in her writing a call to heal our “collective soul loss” and recognize that our land, our culture and our interaction with the Divine all exist in living interactive relationships.

Highly Recommended.

Published by McFarland, Jefferson, NC, 2014.

Available at Amazon.com.

(On the basis of the intelligence, readability, perspective and depth of The Divine Feminine in Ancient Europe, I’ve purchased the author’s previous work, Celtic Myth and Religion: A Study of Traditional Belief, with Newly Translated Prayers, Poems and Songs.)

 

Review: Garbology – Our Dirty Love Affair With Trash

GARBOLOGY: 
        OUR DIRTY LOVE AFFAIR WITH TRASH

By Edward Humes

Reviewed by Autumn Rose

Autumn Rose

Autumn Rose

And now for something completely different.

This may seem an odd choice of book to review in a publication about Druidry, but there's a rationale for the choice. As pagans, we are by definition committed to tending and healing the earth. Some of us have been doing this for so long that we do it more out of habit than out of the passion that motivated us in the beginning. This book provides new fuel for that passion. Call it a booster shot.

The art and science of waste management is as old as humanity itself. Needless to say, it has undergone many permutations, from the simple middens of cave dwellers and nomads to the towering garbage mountains and waste-to-energy plants of the present day. Humes's book deals with the present day and the United States in particular. Its major thesis is that waste management in the 21' Century is - to understate the case — problematic. Much of the book is devoted to describing the problems, of which two stand out: first, that we generate far too much trash; and second, that discarded plastics are unmanageable and everywhere. Hume presents absolutely mind-boggling facts about the situation, a few of which are listed here.

Garbology Book Cover

  • The amount of space needed to accommodate one American's lifetime output of trash is equivalent to the space occupied by 1100 graves.
  • While many people know about the collections of trash that have accumulated in the world's several oceanic gyres, many more are not aware that the top few feet of the seas everywhere are filled with plastic confetti.
  • At least 25% of the American food supply is thrown away — by some estimates, as much as 40%.
  • Every year we throw out enough aluminum to replace the entire commercial air fleet four times over, and enough steel to duplicate Manhattan. Repeat, every year.

Having presented an updated picture of the problem, Hume next turns to possible solutions. The first, and sadly the most difficult, is to change our attitude towards trash. He makes the rather startling observation that the "hoarders" currently starring in several TV reality shows have only reacted in a pathological way to what used to be a nearly universal human impulse: an aversion to waste. Hume suggests that we need to cultivate this aversion anew while applying it with more forethought and practicality than hoarders are able to manage. He quotes a statement by the Berkeley Ecology Center: "If it can't be reduced, reused, repaired, rebuilt, refurbished, refinished, resold, recycled or composted, then it should be restricted, redesigned or removed from production." That's advice for legislators, designers and manufacturers, but it can be adapted for indivduals and households by replacing the words after "then" with 'don't buy it."

Hume tells the story of one family who were able to collect an entire year's accumulation of non-recyclable waste in a quart Mason jar. (To learn how they did it, read the book.) The planning and discipline required by their program would be too onerous for most of us, but there is no question that we could all reduce the amount of trash we produce with a bit of thought and care.

The author also reviews waste management efforts by various levels of government, with special attention to ease or difficulty of execution, and to what has worked and what hasn't. Readers can mine these chapters for ideas as to what trash regulations and disposal methods they would like to promote to their representatives.

Read the book. It will benefit you at both ends, opening your eyes and delivering a kick in the pants.

Garbology: Our Dirty Love Affair With TrashGarbology Book Cover
Paperback: 336 pages
Dimensions: 1 x 5.2 x 7.8 inches
Publisher: Avery Trade; Reprint edition (March 5, 2013)
ISBN-13: 978-1583335239

[This reveiw was originally printed in Henge Happenings #100 - Samhain 2013 - ed]

 [amazon_enhanced asin="1583335234" /][amazon_enhanced asin="B00E295ZTG" /][amazon_enhanced asin="B00CAYJRLW" /]

Review: The Druid’s Primer

The Druid's Primer

by Luke Eastwood

   Review by Morgan Daimler

There are many books on the market that aim to introduce the seeker to the basics of Druidism, but The Druid’s Primer by Luke Eastwood is perhaps the single best introduction book I have read. It's greatest strength is that it manages to present a great deal of modern Druidic material fairly and with clear references to the sources. The author has done a great deal of research into the historic material, which is also presented well and in an easily accessible manner.

The book begins with a chapter that summarizes the historic material. This was very well done, with the material being covered thoroughly and concisely. This section touches on everything from the early Celtic period and what we have from secondary sources such as Pliny and Caesar up to the modern era revival. Although not gone into as deeply as in other books the single chapter effectively summarizes the highlights and is more than enough to get a beginner started or serve as a basic refresher for a more experienced person.

The next chapter tackles possibly the most complex subject in modern Druidism, defining what a Druid is. The book does an excellent job of presenting the different current theories fairly, including the possible etymologies of the word "druid" itself. The different historical sources are once again drawn upon including Irish mythology and the later Barddas, which the text acknowledges as a well known forgery but also influential on the revivalist period. The author also discusses his own view of what a Druid does and who a Druid is, creating a fascinating and complex picture of the modern Druid.

From here the next seven chapters discuss: Gods & Goddesses, Myth & Legend, Elemental Forces, Cosmology, Inspiration, Imramma, and Animism & Animal Worship. Each chapter is a blend of well-researched history and modern application that manages to offer a balanced view of modern Druidism without favoring any one particular path or focus. In most cases multiple views are offered for the reader to consider with sources given so that the reader may further pursue anything of interest.

This is followed by a section, Cycles of the Sun, Moon and Earth, that looks at the historic and modern way that Druids would honor the passing of time and holy days. The author discusses a system of lunar rituals based on Alexei Kondratiev's book [amazon_link id="0806525029" target="_blank" ]The Apple Branch: A Path to Celtic Ritual[/amazon_link] that could be used by modern Druids seeking to connect to the moon. This is followed by a discussion of the solar year and it's holidays, including all of the eight holidays of the modern pagan wheel of the year.

Next is a section on tools, which looks at the tools historically attributed to the Druids. It begins by discussing clothing, rather in depth, including the colors likely worn and the Irish texts referring to dress and color. Sickles, wands, staffs, the Druid egg, cauldron/chalice, magical branch, musical instruments, the crane bag, and sword are discussed. The four treasures of the Tuatha de Danann are also mentioned in a modern context as tools that Druids today may choose to use, although they have no historic basis in that context.

The final four chapters look at divination, the Ogham, medicine & healing, and justice & wisdom. Each of these was important in some way to the historic Druids and so each chapter looks at how the subject relates to historic Druidism and how these can relate to modern practice.

Overall this book is more than worth the money and certainly the best book to begin with if one is interested in learning about the path of Druidism. It is full of the history of Druidism and also shows the wide array of modern possibilities that are open to new seekers. For more experienced Druids this book will serve as a great refresher or reference.

[amazon_image id="1846947642" link="true" target="_blank" size="medium" ]The Druid's Primer[/amazon_image]

[amazon_link id="1846947642" target="_blank" ]The Druid's Primer[/amazon_link]
Paperback: 318 pages
Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.5 x 1 inches
Publisher: John Hunt Publishing; Reprint edition (February 16, 2012)
ISBN-10: 1846947642
ISBN-13: 978-1846947643
List: $26.95 - Amazon: $19.67 -
Kindle $7.99

[amazon_enhanced asin="1846947642" /]

Review: Invoking the Scribes of Ancient Egypt

Invoking the Scribes of Ancient Egypt:
The Initiatory Path of Spiritual Journaling

by Normandi Ellis and Gloria Taylor Brown

Review by Aauriane Veleda

Book Cover: Invoking the Scribes of Ancient EgyptTo be honest I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect when I volunteered to be a book reviewer. I wanted to get more involved in Keltria and this was a chance to help redirect my life to where I thought it should head. Much to my delight I got this book in the mail and at the same time I was a bit lost as to how to relate a book on the Egyptian Scribes to my personal Celtic journey contemplating the Druid path. I undertook the reading; what follows are my interpretations of this text.

This book, as it will tell you, was actually the start of a trip to Egypt for a group of writers wanting to expand upon their own abilities and challenges; each was drawn to Egypt for their own special reasons. Some knew they had been there before and others felt called, but none of the characters in the book knew each other previously. They represented a mix of cultures and it was interesting to read they always sought the blessings of the directions in their own ways before undertaking any journey. In this instance it was offered by Kathyrn Ravenwood and who shared her mix of Native American, Egyptian and Christian belief.

Each participant in this journey shared of themselves and their writings as they traveled. A selection of some of the special ones are included  in each segment. Responses to each piece of writing from the other travelers are also included.

Some of the exercises included the Personal Universe Exercise, Meditation on a Journey Down the Nile, Writing About Your Hero’s Journey, Writing the Stepping Stones, and Writing the Becoming Poem. These are focused on the Egyptian theme of the trip and the interest these authors have in the Egyptian way. This book offers an opportunity to look at the Egyptian spiritual and religious life in a different way. It encourages the reader to take the Hero’s Journey, Make the Salmon leap and find the dark inner part and bringing it to light so you may know yourself and your path better.

Can it be applied to Druidry? Absolutely!  The authors’ personal feelings, thoughts and experiences can be applied to a metaphorical spiritual journalling while traveling in the Celtic lands if you take the exercises and apply them to the sites you wish to experience. And with planning and forethought one could potentially set up an entire “Druidic or Irish” journey and plan writing activities at each site, imbuing the energy and mystery of the places into your own writing and self journey.

I will use the ideas in this book as part of my own process to learn more of myself and my path. A few of the exercises, even in their Egyptian context, led to some interesting insights.

I recommend this book for anyone who would like to see Egypt through a writer’s passionate gaze or as a guide for looking into the journey of spiritual writing regardless of your path. This book is an excellent guide for basic layouts for writing and as such I will continue to work with. The writers share some deep and truly beautiful insights into the land of the Scribes of Egypt. Come join them, take a beautiful journey and then embark upon your own Spiritual Initiatory Journaling experience.

Invoking the Scribes of Ancient Egypt: The Initiatory Path of Spiritual Journaling
Paperback: 336 pages
Dimensions: 8.9 x 6 x 0.9 inches
Publisher: Bear & Company; Original edition (October 28, 2011)
ISBN-10: 159143128X
ISBN-13: 978-1591431282
List: $18.00 - Amazon: $11.53 - Kindle $9.90

[amazon_image id="159143128X" target="_blank" size="Medium" link="true" container="" container_class="" ]Invoking the Scribes of Ancient Egypt: The Initiatory Path of Spiritual Journaling[/amazon_image]

Commentary on Reading Buhner’s Ensouling Language

Review by Karl Schlotterbeck, MA, CAS, LP - Archdruid

Photo of Karl Schlotterveck

Karl Schlotterbeck

I first heard of Buhner’s writings when a shamanic teacher recommended one of his earlier books, [amazon_link id="B004WLCSC6" target="_blank" ]The Lost Language of Plants [/amazon_link]  (2002 by Chelsea Green Publishing). In that book he wrote about the deep relationship between humanity and the natural world and how much of our human world is not only losing its ability to communicate with the natural world, but also altering it through our use of pharmaceuticals, most of which pass through the body unchanged into the environment.

[amazon_image id="1594773823" link="true" target="_blank" size="medium" ]Ensouling Language: On the Art of Nonfiction and the Writer's Life[/amazon_image]

Buhner advocates knowing things so deeply that there is a response from them. It is an active and interactive perception that does not just see, but is also aware of being seen by what, to the blind, is a lifeless object.

Thus, he advocates more than a writing style, but a deep way of being that has escaped many of the schools of psychology that purport to help us, and most of the religious movements that want to tell us how to live. He asks for nothing less than an awareness and integration of the imaginal, feeling and thinking realms – not just having emotions and thoughts, but developing the capacity to feel into a subject, to be able to touch something from a distance – a form on non-physical touch. He calls for integrity and being aware where one’s baggage interferes with one’s intent, and the kind of choice one has to make about reality.

Writers in our time are caught up in a great conflict between two competing worldviews. It is in many ways the great problem our species now faces: whether the world is alive, filled with intelligence and soul, or whether it is just a ball of resources hurtling around the sun, there for our use in any way we see fit. (p. 370)

This, of course, has implications regarding what rights and responsibilities we grant corporations, social movements, governments, trees, stones and soil. Our treatment of the vulnerable will reveal who we are; and we begin to see a link among women, children, the elderly, ill, homeless, poor, mentally ill – and the environment. Do we recognize value and worth only when something (or someone) is of use to us? Only for what can be mined from it? Or do we walk through the world with respect and honor, recognizing that we are part of a community – not only of people, but of spirits, creatures, stars and the earth itself? Thus, the act of writing, when done well, reflects a deep awareness (both objective and subjective), and deals honestly with suppositions about the nature of life that must be examined, decisions about the distribution of power (in all its forms) that will be healthy for a community, and how we place value on people and things, and whether one can actually tolerate truth.

In America there is debate about whether corporations have the same privacy rights as actual human beings, or whether real people have a right to know the truth about how the power of wealth is used to influence their lives; there is debate about the role of government in business, economic and sexual worlds, and about who has what responsibility for the vulnerable, and whether we as a community care at all about who owns our natural resources and who can profit from them.

Unfortunately much of the debate is framed in sound-bite-sized thoughts passed around with shrill commentaries, avoiding any deep thinking or examination of principles beyond surface allegiances. Instead, we have packaged opinions manufactured by both sides of the debate, poured into our media outlets with a force dependent not on their truth but on the wealth of their backers – as if the more times it is said the more true it must be.

This debate is healthy and necessary; its execution, however, has been dishonest. The Cup of Truth will have been shattered many times over; the Goddess of the Land will have withdrawn her favor at the lack of honor in too many leaders; tribal lords in the form of corporate bosses and religious tyrants run amuck like warlords who justify their predatory nature with religious, political or anarchic clichés under cover of some self-appointed “divine” mandate. This is not so different from Middle Eastern countries with their hunger to free control from an autocratic power only to be faced with tribal warlords who will fill the vacuum. The ordinary people who want to live, want to raise their families and protect their children, to do some honest work and to enjoy what this world’s beauty has to offer are used for fodder in military, political and economic warfare. It seems little different from what is happening here in America: we can see the dissatisfaction in things as they’ve been here.

In Western culture, it may well be the poets, writers and other artists who have been carrying the mantle of Druidry, seeking obedience to their gods, celebrating the life found in all of nature, and reminding us of the truths lost in media onslaught, the race for the next dollar and the manufactured propaganda of our politicians, corporate behemoths, separatist militias and religious movements.

Any piece of Nature, broken off, immediately begins to degrade. Everything here in this place is meant to be biodegradable (including ourselves). (p. 368)

What might all this mean for Druids? I propose that we should expect honest, evidence-based and respectful debate. There’s hardly one answer here, but some application of the principles of Truth, of Honor, and of Courage should carry some weight – perhaps to inspire us to hold our leaders (both governmental and business) accountable to community values, to the ancestors, and to the Natural world that we share and hope to pass down to our children. This is not an easy road. If we honor truth, we must honor it not only in our own positions, but also where it might be found in the position of our “enemies.” In America, it seems we have two great forces: one shaped by its fear, hatred and drive for conformity; and one by its guilt, lack of commitment and spinelessness.

It’s not the assertions of the right or the left that is my first allegiance, but what keeps us in healthy relationship with Nature, what honors our ancestors and what brings me alive. Is what I profess consistent with reverence for the Nature Spirits that, from the beginning of time, have given us the means to live? Does it honor our ancestors, which includes our elders who are soon to become ancestors, and the children for whom we will one day be an ancestor? Are my philosophies worthy of the gods I say I worship? If we approach this with honor, with truth, with awareness and integrity, it would be of great service to ourselves, our families, our communities, our world, our relationship with the Otherworld, and our Druidism.

[amazon_enhanced asin="1594773823" /]

Review: Tree Readings: 13 Ogham Tree Oracle

Tree Readings: 13 Ogham Tree Oracle

by Carmen Reyes

Review by Tony Taylor

Book Cover - Tree Readings 13 Ogham Tree Oracle - Carmen Reyes

Tree Readings is a lovely little book that walks the reader through thirteen of the ogham consonants.  “Q” and “Z” are not included nor are the vowels, however, because they really are about kennings and the tree lore that is okay.  She helps the reader discover their tree allies and inspires cultivation of relationship with the trees and the goddesses related to them.

The book is divided into two major sections, first the Tree Signs.  In the Tree Signs, Carmen assigns an ogham to standard trees and then focuses on the benefit of the ogham.  For example, Holly’s ogham is “Creativity and Mastery.”  She includes a “Lady” she associates the ogham with, adds some key associations, words, poetry, and a Celtic astrology association.

In the Kennings, Charms & Treasures section, the author provides botanical highlights, associations for the Word Ogham, various other associations, and, most interestingly, to a particular Goddess.  I was distracted by the inclusion of Roman & Greek deities; however, adhering to one pantheon os specific to Keltrian practice.

She finishes the book with a Tree Calendar, information on tree essences, references to further reading, supplies, and a nice bibliography.

Carmen is a member of the Henge of Keltria and I considered nominating her book as the “Best academic book” by a Keltrian, to the Druid Academy Nomination Award Committee  (DANAC) for an “Oakie” award.  However, there are no DANAC awards this year, but I am hoping I will still be able to submit her fine book next year.

I recommended Tree Readings for anyone wishing to develop their relationship with trees.
[amazon_link id="1453690719" target="_blank" ]Tree Readings: 13 Ogham Tree Oracle[/amazon_link] Tree Readings: 13 Ogham Tree Oracle

  • Paperback: 76 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace (July 29, 2010)
  • ISBN-10: 1453690719
  • ISBN-13: 978-1453690710

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Review: Pagan Astrology

Pagan Astrology: Spell-Casting, Love Magic and Shamanic Stargazing

by Raven Kaldera

Reviewed by Karl Schlotterbeck, MA, CAS, LP

There are two worthwhile gems at the heart of this work. One is the author’s insight that we can be more than a passive recipient of cosmic cycles. In fact, we can be an interactive and creative participant in the unfolding drama of our relationship with those forces personified as gods and goddesses in astrology.

The second gem is in the set of practical ideas he presents to give us the tools to show us how to be active participants with the forces. These tools include rituals, altars, stones, colors, icons, invocations, prayers, and associated magical objects. In fact, his general approach could be used without reference to actual astrological data, but as ways of affirming and balancing the various energies operating in all of us. And so I see here the potential of a psychological development program.

That being said, some of his assertions are not equal to the brightness of these two gems. (As we look at some of the shortcomings of this book, however, they do not invalidate the value of his central thesis: that we can participate with cosmic forces represented in astrological figures in a way to maximize beneficial aspects and to ameliorate afflicted ones.)

He makes reference to a “Celtic solar calendar of eight holidays” even though there is no evidence that the Celts celebrated anything but the four “cross-quarter” holidays (which are not really solar). In addition, he would place these cross-quarter days “exactly between” the equinoxes and solstices, which would place them not at the first of the month on which they are now celebrated, but around the 6th of the month in the case of Samhain. (He makes no mention that Samhain, like Beltane, is a month name and would hardly begin on the 6th.) Even if the cross-quarter holidays were placed at the full moon near that time, they would seldom fall exactly between the other holidays.

I found his “Astrology of Magical Tools” interesting since those associated with my own Sun, Moon and Rising signs have always attracted me. He also recognizes the eight phases of all planetary cycles – common in reference to the moon but generally forgotten for the other planets and pairs of planets. He makes a significant error, however, in describing the quarter phases of the moon as falling in particular signs, given the starting position of the New Moon. His description implies a static cycle when, in fact, the sun also advances during the cycle and, if the New Moon is late in a sign, the subsequent phases may advance to later signs than he suggests. Thus, one would do better to check a calendar for the moon phases than using this particular system.

A hefty book at about 350 pages, more than half of it consists of tables of associated implements, colors, stones, invocations, poetry, spells and actions for signs, planets, events and combinations thereof.

I’d never considered that astrology might be sectarian and therefore to be Pagan or otherwise (although some Christian sects decry it). Even with the Pagan deities’ names for signs, planets and asteroids, the Pagan connection seems irrelevant unless one identifies the planet Mars with the god Mars. The breadth of the book’s value is larger than its title and its basic thesis can be applied by anyone of any persuasion. However, Pagans and those with a New Age background may find the concepts more accessible than many mainstream readers, for sure.

Again, these very real shortcomings still do not erase the value of the author’s realization that we can take an active, participatory, and interactive role in addressing the forces in our lives, whether they come from deities, cosmic forces or mundane challenges.

I recommend this book for all readers who can keep their eyes on the prize here (the possibilities in interacting with the forces of our “fate”) and not take Pagan Astrology as a source book for Celtic studies or history.

  • [amazon_link id="1594773025" target="_blank" ]Pagan Astrology: Spell-Casting, Love Magic and Shamanic Stargazing[/amazon_link]
  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Destiny Books; 1 edition (September 28, 2009)
  • ISBN-10: [amazon_link id="1594773025" target="_blank" ]1594773025[/amazon_link]
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594773020
  • List Price: $18.95

[amazon_image id="1594773025" link="true" target="_blank" size="medium" ]Pagan Astrology: Spell-Casting, Love Magic, and Shamanic Stargazing[/amazon_image]

Book Review: Founding Fathers, Secret Societies

Freemasons, Illuminati, Rosicrucians, and the Decoding of the Great Seal
by Robert Hieronimus, Ph.D

Review by Karl Schlotterbeck

Cover - Founding Fathers, Secret SocietiesCertainly, this is a book for anyone interested in American history or in the various secret societies that may have had an influence on America’s founding. Dr. Hieronimus uses the development of the Great Seal and the relatively recent appearance of the reverse side of the seal as signifying a positive change in America’s destiny.

Beginning with the way the Iroquois Confederacy was used as a model for the development of this country, he writes, “This rich Native American democratic tradition was the real source of the new Americans’ distinctive political ideals. Indeed, centuries before Columbus arrived in the New World, democracy was alive and well, just waiting for the Founding Fathers to discover it.” Also mentioned are pre-Columbian visitors to North America and legends of Masonic concepts and practices existing among Native groups – including the speculation of one writer that this may have come through Druids.

In his historical context of his subject, he includes the development of Freemasonry, Rosicrucians, various Illuminati groups, along with biographical information about of Washington, Franklin, Jefferson (including their astrological charts) and lesser known players.

Of particular interest to Hieronimus is how both sides of the Great Seal were designed but only the one side was ever struck – the side we usually see with an eagle, arrows, stars, etc. The reverse side (with pyramid and eye-in-triangle floating over it) was never struck and did not even come to public display until it was put on the one-dollar bill in the 1930’s. Fundamentalists have objected to the design on the reverse with paranoid ideation linking (in their imagination) the pyramid with such nefarious organizations as the United Nations, Zionism, NATO, Communism, taxes and secret societies.

All-seeing Eye / Eye of Providence

All-Seeing Eye

Hieronimus, if I read him accurately, makes a more indirect connection between the design and these groups, giving the design a much deeper and archetypal meaning that speaks of the Founding Fathers’ dual vision for this country. The two sides, as he sees it, indicate their vision that included both physical and spiritual destinies. To that end, Hieronimus analyzes the symbols found on both sides, including the Latin phrases (which contain both Pagan and Christian origins). For example, he relates the pyramid to the sacred mountain and thereby the Great Mother, the floating eye to the Eye of Horus and the polestar, and the number 13 as representing transition - not just the number of states. The reverse side of the seal is more than a sign for some time-limited society; it is an archetypal image pointing to our self-realization and rebirth.

Further, Hieronimus asserts that the rise in interest in the reverse side of the seal during the last century paralleled the rise of feminine consciousness and may be “initiating a higher level of integration in the American consciousness. . .”

In Appendices to the main body of the work, Hieronimus also includes various theories about the age and meaning of the pyramids; and a discussion of the nature of talismans.

On a personal note, I knew Robert Hieronimus when, in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, he taught classes in symbology and was well-known in Baltimore for his symbolic murals and other paintings. His interest and expertise in symbols is one of the primary cornerstones of his work.

Founding Fathers, Secret Societies is a rich feast of history, esoteric movements, symbology, and psycho-sociology.

Founding Fathers, Secret Societies: Freemasons, Illuminati, Rosicrucians, and the Decoding of the Great Seal, by Robert Hieronimus, Ph.D., with Laura Cortner. Published by Destiny Books, 2006. Recommended.