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Mystery Teachings From The Living Earth: An Introduction to Spiritual Ecology Paperback – 15 Apr 2012

4.0 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Weiser Books (15 April 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 157863489X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1578634897
  • Product Dimensions: 15.4 x 1.1 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 915,259 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

It s rare that I m this impressed, this enthused about a book. If you can only afford to buy one spiritually orientated book this year, make it this one. And that s saying something, because I have 2 books out this year. In part Mystery Teachings has evidently been written in response to the shortcomings of some aspects of New Age thinking. Anyone who has ever twitched about New Age stuff, is going to love what Greer has to say. Anyone interested in New Age material really should read this book as a counterpoint. This is an overview of the kinds of thought forms that Mystery Schools teach. It s presented, in keeping with the zeitgeist, in ecological terms. The result is a beautiful, rich, inspiring description of how reality works, and how to work with it.  I had to read it slowly, because there was so much to take in, many sections I read twice. There is a generous stream of humour through the book as well, it s full of things that made me laugh out loud, especially the deflation of the ridiculous. There are shades of the boy shouting The Emperor s got no clothes on here, which may make it uncomfortable reading for some, but it needs to be read. For anyone interested in magic, or personal growth, or the inside of their own head, or how they interface with the rest of reality, this book has a wealth to offer. For anyone exploring mediation, there are some stunning meditation approaches suggested here, methods that will enrich life and awareness. Having read the book straight through for review purposes, I mean to go back and do it slowly, and actually do the work involved. I ve lost count of how many courses I ve read for review down the years, this is the first one that has been at an appropriate level for me and actually inspired me to want to follow it. Unusually, this is a book I think offers plenty to the newbie, and also has a lot to say to anyone who has been exploring their path for some time. It is, quite simply, a must have. I cannot recommend it enough. Nimue Brown --The Druid network / www.druidlife.wordpress.com / Goodreads

About the Author

John Michael Greer is the current Grand Archdruid of the Ancient Order of Druids in America (AODA). He has studied the Western Mystery Traditions for decades and is the author of numerous articles and eighteen books, including The Druidry Handbook. He lives in Maryland with his wife Sara.


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Format: Paperback
John Michael Greer is a prolific writer on pretty much everything, from Green spirituality and ritual magic to peak oil and 2012. Greer is the current Archdruid of the Ancient Order of Druids in America (AODA). This book seems to summarize the author's spiritual teachings, a low-key, unpretentious version of Neo-Pagan Green spirituality.

Greer sharply criticizes the New Age version of the prosperity gospel, and also the bizarre idea that one can become an immortal, ascended master in ten easy lessons (I didn't know that milieu was so widespread - see my review of Susan Shumsky's "Ascension"). Real spirituality takes effort, study and experience. And while Greer does believe in magic, he is at pains to point out that magic works on the subtle level. It cannot levitate rocks, nor can it break the Law of Balance or the Law of Limits of the spiritual cosmos. Black magic is real, but it also affects the magician himself - see the Law of Cause and Effect. Thus, even magic cannot work magic. It cannot give us all we want, whenever we want it.

Indeed, this seems to be the main point of "Mystery Teachings from the Living Earth": we are humans in vast cosmic web, and although we have untapped spiritual potentials, in the end we nevertheless have to accept and work with our human limitations. This is especially true of the material reality, which is governed by unbreakable ecological laws we ignore only at our peril. The human condition is something to accept (or perhaps to gradually change), not something we can magically transcend or apocalyptically break free from. Greer rejects both the modern idea of Progress and various apocalyptic scenarios (such as the Rapture). World history is cyclical, and there is no easy escape clause.
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John Michael can always be trusted to provide excellent value with anything he writes about. The plain talk penetrates deeply and opens our minds to listening and paying attention. Witty, frank and always entertaining, you'll enjoy reading about "The Mysteries" as explained by John Michael Greer.
Planet as Self: An Earthen Spirituality
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Format: Paperback
"Mystery Teachings from the Living Earth" is a short book by John Michael Greer, a prolific author on ecological and spiritual subjects. Most of the ideas in the book will be familiar to avid readers of Greer's other works. It seems the main purpose of writing this particular volume was to counter the craze around "The Secret", or rather to flesh out some lessons after that particular fad ended in disaster. The author's alternative form of spirituality won't win any popularity contests!

Greer emphasizes balance, wholeness, gradual evolution and, above all, limits. Many of his "spiritual laws" are really basic laws of ecology. The gradually unfolding evolution of the cosmos didn't had our species in mind, we can't change the universe simply by changing our mental attitude or thinking, nor are the heavens obliged to give us anything just because we happen to want it. Most secularized readers will find this critique of "The Secret" obviously true, but the author has something to tell us, too. Limits, balance or cause and effect means that our modern, industrial civilization will inevitably decline and fall. Death and suffering are inevitable parts of the human condition, human civilizations rise and fall in a cyclical fashion, and our material greed is one key factor not just in the rise of modern culture, but even more so in its future demise. Indeed, Greer seems to think that everyone, secular, Christian or The Secret-inspired, is caught up in a kind of negative "magical thinking", where we imagine that we can get something from nothing. He tops off by criticizing apocalypticism as simply the flip side of the secular myth of progress.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x985e5120) out of 5 stars 16 reviews
33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8cb50e88) out of 5 stars Thought provoking, odd little book 13 April 2012
By Jonathan Blake - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I have always found what John Michael Greer says thought provoking, and this book is no different. The premise itself is intriguing. He sets out to derive laws from ecology that are in harmony with modern mystery school traditions, hence the title of the book.

He begins the book by detailing seven laws drawn from the world of ecology and shows how they can be applied to personal development. Each law comes with a meditation to help readers to see how the law applies to themselves and the objects around them. I was especially struck by the Law of Limits and its claim that power and beauty come from limitation. My marriage, for example, is an exercise in limitation.

He goes on to describe ritual magic (not the stuff of stage magicians and fantasy novel wizards). His explanation of the mechanisms of magic and what real-life mages do helped even me, an avowed materialist, to see how magic might be something I would want to do. He piqued my interest.

Later he dispels some of the misconceptions surrounding the mystery schools. He details some of their methods - such as meditation, initiation, and the keeping of secrets - and how these methods foster personal evolution.

In his last chapter, he applies mystery school teachings to the evolution of human societies as a whole.

The Afterward offers a helpful list of books for any bibliophile interested in learning more about the mystery traditions.

My strongest criticism is that throughout the book the author presents the mystery schools almost as if they speak with one voice which incidentally agrees with what the author has to say. I have no expertise in this area to contradict him, but I suspect that he has oversimplified a diverse tradition.

The book also left me wishing it said more about specific mystery schools, but as the author points out, there are thousands of them. It might be difficult to cover just a few while leaving out many others. Maybe it was better to keep that genie in the bottle.

This was a quick read that will be provoking thought for a long time to come. It probably lives in an odd niche in the book world, but it hit a sweet spot for me.
21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8cb50e4c) out of 5 stars Greer delivers truths you can use 16 April 2012
By DE - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
John Michael Greer has authored a remarkable collection of some twenty books and many articles over his decades-long career. As a peak-oil historian, novelist, longtime blogger, archdruid of an American-based Druid order (the AODA), practicing mage and cultural critic, Greer continues to deliver deep insight and uncommon sense, salted with his own wry brand of humor. This latest book is a worthy addition to his growing body of work, and its comparative brevity (140 pages) should in no way obscure its value. In a very real sense, what is left unwritten here is for us to fill in with what we actually do with his provocative ideas.

Greer draws on tested hermetic and mystery traditions (hence the title) and more recently the text of W. W. Atkinson's book The Kybalion (1912) to recast seven ancient principles of spiritual law in ecological terms. (It may not be mere coincidence that this year is the centenary of that earlier book's publication.) With an explanatory section and accompanying meditation for each law, Greer expands on each principle to demonstrate how it plays out in daily experience. These deceptively simply principles have not changed in millennia, and civilizations including our own ignore them at their own peril. With environmental degradation at an all-time high, Greer's revisioning of these principles as the underpinnings of ecology is insightful, timely and valuable.

Just as valuable, given the current hype and hysteria over the supposed 2012 apocalypse (how quickly we forget all the previous ones that didn't happen!), is how Greer takes apart the misunderstanding and half-application of some of these principles in poorly-founded New Age thinking and careless interpretations of end-time mythologies. In its place these principles continue to offer sound (though less sensational) guidance.

Finally, in three chapters on the spiritual ecology of magic, initiation and history, Greer links the limits and potentials expressed in spiritual law to inherent human capacities for development and change. As Greer observes, "the laws of nature are the laws of spirit." As we come to terms with the hard limits of industrial civilization and a finite planet, ideas like these point the way to surviving and thriving through both the easy and rough times ahead.
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa09b2944) out of 5 stars Ancient teachings. Modern metaphor. 19 May 2012
By Anna from InannaWorks - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Ecologist and Druid John Greer believes that in today's world we can most easily find the ancient secrets of the universe by observing the workings of the natural world. Detaching from nature has caused an imbalance which has resulted in a mass search for deeper meaning. Greer teaches that putting that search back into the context of natural systems will produce more answers than trying to force natural systems to accommodate our intentions.

According to Greer, the true mystery schools are, and always have been, small groups which meet quietly to pass on the secrets of raising consciousness in order to further universal spiritual evolution. They are not, he says, large, profit-generating organizations offering quick fixes and instant gain. The true laws of the Universe, he tells us, are natural not human-determined. We don't create reality. We were created by the reality in which we live. We can make changes to that reality by changing our consciousness, but changing consciousness requires work, lots of work, and it must always take into account the balance of the system within which we function. When someone focuses on accumulating money rather than on the natural flow of money through their world, it creates an imbalance that will eventually circle back into their life. The recent cycle of bubble and bust has been a perfect example of that.

If all this makes the book sound like a downer, please know, that it is just the opposite. While reading it, I began to feel as if a great weight was being lifted off my shoulders. It's a great comfort to be told that you are part of something that grows and changes and heals itself as it moves everything within itself to a higher level. Our world has a natural order -- Greer describes it as the Laws of Wholeness, Flow, Balance, Limits, Cause and Effect, Planes, and Evolution -- which will carry us along no matter how we participate in it.

This book is a gentle gift -- filled with insight, meditations, and affirmations -- which can quietly put the reader onto a path that will truly change his or her life.

(InannaWorks.com received a free review copy of this book.)
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8d924f90) out of 5 stars No mystery 15 Dec. 2012
By Ashtar Command - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
John Michael Greer is a prolific writer on pretty much everything, from Green spirituality and ritual magic to peak oil and 2012. Greer is the current Archdruid of the Ancient Order of Druids in America (AODA). This book seems to summarize the author's spiritual teachings, a low-key, unpretentious version of Neo-Pagan Green spirituality.

Greer sharply criticizes the New Age version of the prosperity gospel, and also the bizarre idea that one can become an immortal, ascended master in ten easy lessons (I didn't know that milieu was so widespread - see my review of Susan Shumsky's "Ascension"). Real spirituality takes effort, study and experience. And while Greer does believe in magic, he is at pains to point out that magic works on the subtle level. It cannot levitate rocks, nor can it break the Law of Balance or the Law of Limits of the spiritual cosmos. Black magic is real, but it also affects the magician himself - see the Law of Cause and Effect. Thus, even magic cannot work magic. It cannot give us all we want, whenever we want it.

Indeed, this seems to be the main point of "Mystery Teachings from the Living Earth": we are humans in a vast cosmic web, and although we have untapped spiritual potentials, in the end we nevertheless have to accept and work with our human limitations. This is especially true of the material reality, which is governed by unbreakable ecological laws we ignore only at our peril. The human condition is something to accept (or perhaps to gradually change), not something we can magically transcend or apocalyptically break free from. Greer rejects both the modern idea of Progress and various apocalyptic scenarios (such as the Rapture). World history is cyclical, and there is no easy escape clause. In many ways, Greer's book reminds me of David Spangler's books.

However, there is one serious problem with "Mystery Teachings": like most spiritual teachers, Greer portrays his ideas as ancient, even as the ancient and original teachings of the mystery schools. This seriously distracts from the overall message of the book. It seems many people in the New Age milieu can't believe a message on its own merits, but simply *must* have some kind of reassurance that everything from aromatherapy to transplutonian astrology comes from ancient Egypt or Sumeria. I think it's unfortunate that JMG falls in the same trap. Most of the spiritual laws he mentions are based on modern ecological thinking, and some are ultra-modern. The Law of Evolution is otherwise known as Neo-Darwinism, with Greer actually polemicizing against Stephen Jay Gould or perhaps his self-proclaimed epigones. (He never mentions Gould by name, though.) When Greer interprets the legend of Atlantis, it suddenly looks remarkably similar to his own theory of "catabolic collapse"...

But surely a spiritual message must be judged on its own merits, rather than on the basis of how old (or new) it is? Besides, if the cosmos evolves, new ideas should be able to emerge. After all, Greer's own "Druid" religion isn't older than the 18th century, something he happily acknowledges in another book.

That being said, I give the book three stars as a good introduction to JMG's own mystery teachings.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa09b1318) out of 5 stars Spiritual Ecology Mystery Solved 10 Jun. 2012
By Rebecca L. Elson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Originally published on The Magical Buffet website on 5/30/12.

Honestly, I can be a real jerk. Case in point, when I received a copy of "Mystery Teachings from the Living Earth: An Introduction to Spiritual Ecology" by John Michael Greer. I immediately, without a moment's pause, tossed it aside. Nothing against nature or the earth, I thought, but I didn't need to read another "hippy" book about how the earth has much to teach us and let's learn her ways and live on dirt and etc., etc. I get it, nature is an awesome thing, and I do love it from the window seat in my climate controlled home, but I just didn't need to read another book about it.

Then I don't know what happened. I kept shuffling the book from one spot to another in the apartment. For a while its spine stared out at me from under our laptop. Then it was bumping my elbow for a few days while I was working at my computer. You get the idea. Somehow this book, no matter where I shoved it, always seemed to end up in my way. As my mom would say, "Like a pile of horse manure, always in the middle of the road." Finally I decided the only thing left to do was to read the stinkin' thing.

Holy crap am I glad I did.

There is no peace sign throwing, tie dyed flag waving, hippy jargon to be found in "Mystery Teachings from the Living Earth". Instead, John Michael Greer uses some of the most basic observable things to be found in nature to explain fundamental principles of modern mystery schools. Consider me very impressed. Many apologies to the venerable Mr. Greer whom I never should have doubted.

Greer breaks down the mystery teachings to seven core principles: The Law of Wholeness, The Law of Flow, The Law of Balance, The Law of Limits, The Law of Cause and Effect, The Law of Planes, and The Law of Evolution. These may sound abstract, but by repeatedly using the familiar setting of a grassy meadow (even this allergy pill junkie can manage reflecting on a grassy meadow) these Laws become easier to understand and to relate with the others. With the addition of an affirmation, a theme for reflection, and a meditation to each Law, these Laws go from being just an informational stepping stone to a mystery practice itself.

After that Greer does an excellent job explaining what magic is like in the Western occult traditions, what it is like, or more precisely, what it should be like to be an initiate in a mystery school, a bit of context of where mystery schools are in the history of spirituality, and lastly an afterword that advises readers as to what to look for in potential mystery schools and suggests a few books.

John Michael Greer's "Mystery Teachings from the Living Earth" is the best book I ever read for explaining the fundamentals of the Western occult traditions. You could give this book to someone who knew absolutely nothing and they would walk away with a better understanding than most. However this book isn't just for beginners. Although not an expert or an advanced practioner I suspect that someone like that would find this book a wonderful tune up for their practice. A touchstone to some core principles to breathe a little fresh air into your system. I guess what I'm saying is buy this book, buy it now.
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