In this dreary and mind-numbing expanded and revised version of his Master's thesis, novelist Bren-nan (Faerie Wars series) offers the unremarkable thesis that since ancient times people have communi-cated with the spirit world and have sought guidance from that world. Surveying history from ancient Egypt to modern Germany, Brennan recounts case after case of a culture's deep belief in the power of spirit figures to affect the well-being of humans; he traces the rise of mediators -- prophets, shamans, witch doctors—who then communicated with these spirits on behalf of others. Brennan concludes that the development of such whisperers follows Darwinian evolutionary principles, so that some "primi-tive human was born with a genetic mutation that allowed him or her to hear a voice or perhaps see a figure that others could not;" these humans proved so valuable to the survival of society, that they evolved into an elite group. Brennan uses an outdated argument—science debunks the spiritual—in an attempt to establish that the world of spirits is real, and ironically can use only empirical evidence to demonstrate the reality of that world. (June)
“From the hair-raising to the eyebrow-raising, this is a scintillating account of meetings with spirits throughout history. Hats off to J.H. Brennan!” —Mark Booth, author of The Secret History of the World
“An authoritative new study of the influence of apparent spirit contact on the course of history from ancient times to the present day.” —The Daily Beast
“Here is the history that you didn’t learn about in the classroom. Whisperers is a challenging and thought-provoking work.” —Christopher McIntosh, Fellow and Lecturer at the University of Exeter
“Chillingly convincing.” —Kirkus Reviews
Prolific Irish author Brennan, writer of fiction ("Faerie Wars" series) as well as nonfiction on occult topics (Occult Tibet), presents an occultist's compendium of encounters and communications between humans and the spirit realm. Brennan provides what he sees as evidence that these "whisperings" are not mere audio hallucinations but emanate from spirit entities either brought in by magical conjuring or ritual séances or through appearing spontaneously (e.g., poltergeists and indwellers—disembodied entities taking up residence in a human). Brennan's examples of spirits' impact on human history go back to the pre-Christian era, when, he asserts, the gods literally directed the movements of Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar as well as combatants in the Trojan War. Spirits also influenced Renaissance royalty via the conjuring of alchemists and astrologers such as Nostradamus and John Dee, Brennan writes. He notes the occult character of disturbing Nazi rituals in search of the true Aryan religion. Brennan goes on to explore today's esoteric schools (he is associated with at least one) that work with spirits and consider psychology's investigation of manifestations, including scientific experimentation with hallucinogens, as gateways to connection. VERDICT Sprawling and a bit heavy-handed for the casual ghost story seeker, this book will appeal to serious readers of the arcane and occult, who will also appreciate its extensive bibliography, whether they accept the author's premises or not.—Janet Tapper, Univ. of Western States Lib., Portland, OR
Prolific Irish author and lecturer Brennan's (Magic & Mysticism in Tibet, 2010, etc.) lifelong fascination with psychic phenomena fuels this comprehensive analysis of potential supernatural influences on history. The author engagingly embraces the phenomenon of spiritual interaction with the living in a dense exploration of historical figures who he asserts have become influenced by suggestive spirits. In early sections, Brennan examines the spirit beliefs of the Ubaidian people and the Egyptians, who etched spectral "utterances" into pyramid walls. He then moves on to profiles of prominent historical leaders believed to have both directly and indirectly altered history through spiritual intervention. They include Joan of Arc, Nostradamus, Rasputin, 18th-century Christian mystic Emanuel Swedenborg, Napoleon Bonaparte, controversial occultist Alessandro Cagliostro and a loosely formed spirit-human association with Adolf Hitler. Brennan's sweeping examination also cites modern evidence by incorporating the use of Ouija boards, mesmeric suggestion and conjurations into the mix. An equitable author who recognizes that his assertions, for some, will be construed as "superstitious hocus-pocus," Brennan posits that visions and voices may arise not from the spectral plane, but from historical experimentation with mind-expanding hallucinogens such as peyote, mandrake root and LSD. He logically ponders whether these drugs simply induce artificial delusions or expand the human consciousness sufficiently to receive phantasmal messages. The source for Brennan's unblinking faith in such a predominantly conjectural subject may lie in late, hair-raising chapters describing his own eerie, nonverbal encounters with spirits and poltergeists in Ireland. Ultimately, his deftly corralled, intriguing research translates into unsettling, if academically written, "proof" of the existence of spiritual suggestion. Certain hokum for skeptics, but the more open-minded will savor this chillingly convincing testimonial.