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This collection of stories and illustrations—all about the wonders of the spiritual realm—takes you on a captivating ride from the great myths of ancient civilization to astounding discoveries of the modern era.
In his amazing New York Times bestseller The Secret History of the World, Mark Booth introduced the enthralling history of the world’s greatest secrets. From Greek and Egyptian mythology to Jewish folklore and Christian cults to Don Quixote, he delved into the hidden wisdom going back three millennia—and the light it sheds on humanity’s greatest achievements.
Now, in The Sacred History, Booth tackles the great spiritual myths of history, examining the varying explanations—both ancient and modern—of the mystifying realm of angels. These are the stories of how people have been helped, in times of crisis and joy, by angels and other spiritual beings since the beginning of time. Drawing on these awe-inspiring stories, Booth examines how the spiritual world has shaped our history, our beliefs, our civilization, our religions, and ultimately, our sense of self.
Philosophical, passionate, entertaining, and filled with gorgeous illustrations, The Sacred History is a gateway into the spiritual world that will open up the possibility of angels to even the most skeptical of readers.
|Product dimensions:||6.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.80(d)|
About the Author
Mark Booth taught philosophy and theology at Oriel College, Oxford, and has worked in publishing for more than twenty years. He is currently the publishing director at Century in London.
Read an Excerpt
The Sacred History
In the beginning there was no time, no space, no matter—only darkness.
Scientists have almost nothing to say about this time—and neither do mystics. Whichever way you look at it, it’s almost impossible to discover anything at all about this darkness or even to find any words to begin to describe it.
But while scientists claim it was nothing more than nothingness, believers claim it was nothing less than the teeming mind of God.
It is from this point of disagreement, on an issue about which both sides should admit that they know almost nothing at all, that great epoch-making arguments have flowed—the inquisitions, the persecutions, the imprisoning, the torture, the executions, the wars that continue into modern times.1
One thing we all know for certain, whichever side we are on, is that in order to get to where we stand today, there must have been a transition from a state of no matter to a state in which matter began. Scientists have offered theories to explain this very mysterious transition, such as the “steady state” theory that says that matter is coming into existence all the time, that it is steadily precipitated out of the darkness. Then, of course, there is the Big Bang theory. This says that matter and space and time all sprang into being at once, bursting out of a single dimensionless, timeless point called “the singularity.” But whether it happened steadily or in one quick splurge, that is to say whatever the speed of the process, if you had been there with two physical eyes and been able to look at these events through the most powerful microscope, you would have seen very fine, at first almost abstract subatomic particles evolve and take shape as atoms. The cosmos was becoming suffused with stuff in the form of a very thin mist.
You might have been reminded of the wonder you felt as a child when you woke at dawn and went out into the garden to find that dew had precipitated out of thin air. Even though it looked as if it hadn’t rained overnight, the early rays of the sun revealed a lawn sparkling with drops of water. In Jewish mystical tradition the mystic dew of creation is sometimes thought of as softly falling from God’s great shaggy mane.2
Or you might have been reminded of the wonder you felt in the chemistry lab when among the Bunsen burners and racks of test tubes you first saw beautifully shaped crystals forming in a solution, as if ideas from another dimension were squeezing into our material dimension. And if you are a believer, that is exactly what did happen—and that other dimension, the one that lends shape and form to our material dimension, is nothing less than the mind of God.
In the visions of the mystics, the process of creation began when God began to think—when thoughts began to emanate from the mind of God, wave after wave of them. And in the same way that wave after wave dashing upon the shore smooths the pebbles on the beach, so wave after wave coming out of the mind of God fashioned the first matter.
Look at this mystic version of events more closely, look with imagination, and you can see that these waves of thoughts are actually made up of millions of angels. The first wave is made up of gigantic angels who fill the whole cosmos. Next comes a wave of lesser angels which the greatest angels have helped to create, and together these generate a third wave of smaller angels. This sequence flows down until we finally reach minute spiritual beings. They work to weave together what we recognize as the material world around us, the rocks and stones and trees.3
Equating the thoughts of God with angels may seem odd. These days we tend to have a lowly conception of our own thoughts, seeing them as abstract things which hardly exist at all. But there is an older, perhaps more illuminating way of looking at thoughts that comes from the great religions. This sees thoughts as living beings, with a level of independent existence and a life of their own as we send them off into the world to do our bidding.
Table of Contents
Introduction: The Mystic Vision 1
1 Softly Falls the Dew … 6
2 Mother Earth and Father Time 12
3 The Angel Michael and the Serpent 16
4 The Spider Woman Weaves Her Spell 23
5 Isis and the Mystery of the Perfect Fit 28
6 Godly Lovers and Angelic Wives 34
7 Odin and the Angelic Theory of Evolution 43
8 The Story of the Precious Ring 52
9 The Mighty Men, the Men of Renown 58
10 The Gods Turn to Humans for Help 66
11 Orpheus, the Sphinx and the Timelock 72
12 Noah and the Waters of Forgetfulness 83
13 Rama and Sita-the Lovers in the Forest 88
14 Krishna, Snow White and the Seven Maids 96
15 Gilgamesh and the Elixir of Immortality 103
16 Abraham, the Father of Thinking in the Head 109
17 Moses and the Gods of War 120
18 Solomon, Sex and Beauty 132
19 Elijah in Between the Worlds 141
20 The Buddha's Story 151
21 Socrates and His Daemon 159
22 Jesus Turns the World Inside Out 170
23 The Sun at Midnight 185
24 The Age of Miracles 197
25 The Mountain Comes to Mohammed 207
26 Charlemagne and the Paladins of Pain 214
27 Perceval Makes a Fool of Himself 222
28 Tales of the Arabian Nights 230
29 St. Francis Takes the Gospels Seriously 244
30 The New Arabian Way of Loving 252
31 Dante, the Templars and the Road Less Traveled 263
32 Christian Rosencreutz and the Birth of Yoga 273
33 Joan and the Key to the Small Door 283
34 The Fairies Want Our Juice 294
35 Paracelsus and the Mysteries of Spiritual Healing 304
36 The Cobbler Has Another Way of Knowing 313
37 Shakespeare and the Rosicrucians 325
38 Supernatural Stories in the Age of Science 337
39 Napoleon-the Great Magnet of the Age 348
40 Abraham and Bernadette 355
41 The Nabob of Odd 367
42 The Great Secret of This World 379
43 The Story of Life After Death 387
44 Jung and His Daemon 393
45 Fátima and the Secrets of the Guardian Angel 400
46 Hitler and the Hungarian Angels 408
47 The That Without Which 414
48 Lorna Byrne and the Mysticism of Everyday Life 424
Selected Bibliography 489