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Secret Societies, Occult Religious Beliefs, New Theories
on 23 August 2004
Picknett and Clive make bold assertions about "secret" revelations they researched regarding religion and the 'occult' knowledge and practices of the Knights Templar, Freemasons, and Cathars. These groups are presumed to have based their beliefs and religious practices to the time of Solomon and the ancient religion of Egypt, Osiris and Isis. While it is not a scholarly work in the strict scientific sense of the word, these authors do a fine job of connecting symbols, paintings, sculpture, and ancient church architecture to religious practices that do not conform to what was the common practice at the time. This reader is convinced they have revealed some of the "mysteries" upon which the secret societies and groups of the past based their esoteric knowledge. They include a fascinating mix of myths, legends, and "Indiana Jones" type archeological research associated with religion, which captures the reader's attention and keeps it transfixed as a complex maze of detailed revelations are brought forth for the reader's examination.
Some of the most complex connections made in the book relate to the information about why John the Baptist is held in high regard by the Knights Templar and Priory of Sion. In fact, the Grand Masters are often refered to as "John". Another interesting fact is that in the south of France, there are many "Black Madonna" sites where a church is often built to honor the Mary Magdalene. The authors connect the "Black Madonna" cults to the goddess worship of Isis which was the predominant religion of the area before Christianity. They also connect the concepts of fertility and goddess worship to secret practices within some of the societies. There were two levels of membership in the societies, the outward stated one, and an inner "secret" level, where only those who were initiated could understand and practice certain sexual rites. There are assertions that Jesus and Mary Madelene may have been married or, if not married, were participants in some secret rituals of this nature. There are references to gnostic writings which intimate a very different level to their relationship than is depicted in the New Testament version. The role of women as Apostles in the New Testament has been diluted. based on the prevalent Jewish dominant cultural view at the time. The religious questions the authors raise and possible connections they make do point to some fallacies in current religious practice, although there is no scientific proof to the relationship assertions. The findings of the Nag Hammadi scrolls in 1945, have been now revealed to the public. They shed a new light on the religious outlook of different groups of people who were living during the time of Jesus ministry, both before and after the crucifixion and resurrection. His life and teaching is given new meaning ... While this reader can not accept at face value the "true identity of Christ" as presented by the authors, indeed, there is room for more research. The New Testament books as carefully selected and edited versions of books that were copied and recopied from the past, do not reveal the full measure of Jesus life and teachings either. This was a fascinating book which read partly like a mystery which explained myths and legends, partly like a sociological research paper, and partly like an archeological exploration of religious symbolism and practice. Since it mixes so many unlikely topics, the reader needs to keep an open mind balanced with some healthy skepticism. Highly recommended. Erika Borsos (bakonyvilla)