Inner Journeys

Language and Communication Books

The Magic Thread:
Astrological Chart Interpretation Using Depth Psychology
Richard Idemon, edited by Gina Ceaglio
264 pp., paper, $14.95, ISBN: 0-87728-864-x, Samuel Weiser, Inc.
Once your natal astrological chart has been established, the most difficult part is interpreting it into something useful and coherent. Perhaps it is all the more difficult because the chart—even the natal horoscope—represents a process and not a written and definite destiny. Richard Idemon views it as an intricate network, mirroring the famous Greek myth of the labyrinth at the very heart of which dwells a profound Minotaur figure “who, maybe in some way, we call a shadow.” A collective—and personal—monster demanding sacrifices until it is overcome.

Drawing freely upon Greek mythology and Jung’s psychology, Idemon undertakes to reproduce archetypal themes in the specific “dialogs” planets are having in a chart. The aspects the planets make among themselves point to specific archetypal situations to be confronted and integrated. Starting with the personal, family, social and collective myths as our personal basic ground, Idemon moves into what he calls inferior psychosensitive functions which consume an enormous amount of our psychic energy and often trigger psychological defense mechanisms in the form of denial, repression, projection, sublimation and/or compensation. In other words, Idemon uses the chart to undertake an in-depth analysis of the personality.

A fascinating and very lively book, it is the transcription of a series of lectures given during a 1986 seminar where experienced astrologers actively participated. After expounding the basics of his interpretation technique, Idemon, and the participants, study the charts of several famous people whose names are not divulged until the end. Bit by bit we see the tendencies, the strengths, the potential crises, and so on…slowly emerge into a whole picture, much like a puzzle. The individual’s shadow takes shape and the revelation of the person’s identity finally gives the results of his/her struggle with his/her innermost “demons.” Reading this book is a striking experience, particularly because Idemon’s astrological interpretation opens up possibilities and does not focus on a definite and absolute destiny. His method is highly original and convincing, particularly his interpretation of the ascendant as the mask.

One of the most interesting astrology books I have read, this book is a must for professional astrologers and will be a welcome tool for anyone open-minded enough to use astrology for an in-depth search for self-knowledge.—Donvez

A Mystical Key to the English Language
Robert M. Hoffstein
200 pp., paper, $12.95, ISBN: 0-89281-309-1, Destiny Books (Inner Traditions)

Language is one of the means by which we convey meaning. However, the recent studies of Freud (I am thinking of his analysis of the Wolfman in particular) and Jacques Lacan, among others, have revealed that there is a hidden meaning within language, a meaning used by our subconscious. Yet another system, the Qabbalah, developed long before psychoanalysis, also attributed meanings and numbers to the letters of the ancient Hebrew alphabet, thereby revealing a deeper spiritual—or mystical—meaning hidden within language. A watered-down version of one aspect of the Qabbalah is known to the public under the name of numerology.

Author Robert M. Hoffstein, who has studied Qabbalah with Morris Frank for 18 years, felt another aspect of it, namely, the attribution of meanings to the letters of the Hebrew “Aleph-Beth,” could be applied to the English “Alpha-Bet(a).” Although it can be argued that the two alphabetic systems are very different, one being hieroglyphic the other analytical—and it can also be argued that ancient Hebrew is traditionally a “sacred” language and treated as such, while English is not, and that this method was to be used on sacred texts, not regular texts—the results of Mr. Hoffstein’s study remain stunning!

Because our alphabet is loosely derived from a transliteration of the Hebrew, most of the meanings and correspondings traditionally given to the vowels, consonants, and simple consonant combinations in Hebrew seem also to work in English. From this Qabbalistic basis, the author derives the rest. The reader is thus given a taste of the true “power” of language, a power and meaning usually hidden from the conscious mind but always deeply touching the unconscious. A power revealing the spiritual connection between letters and the Word (of God).

Hoffstein’s intent was to “unearth the traces of a remarkable mystery teaching buried in the midst of our own English alphabet, a teaching that may well transform our lives if we can open ourselves to it.” The sheer force of one aspect of the Qabbalah is clearly seeping through and the author certainly achieved his aim. Perhaps one of the most interesting points of his conclusion is that our living in duality is reflected in that “nearly every word in the language generates its opposite.” The words themselves betray the way to achieve unity….

I hardly know anyone who would not be touched by this message. Although it concerns but one aspect of a powerful spiritual teaching applied to another kind of alphabet, A Mystical Key To The English Language will fascinate poets, writers, believers, and ultimately anyone speaking and/or writing English. It also seems a good introduction to the power of the Qabbalah for those who have no notion of the Hebrew alphabet.—Donvez

Going by the Book: Past and Present Tragedies of Biblical Authority
Ernie Bringas
220 pp., paper, $12.95, ISBN: 1-57174-022-8, Hampton Roads

A very intelligent, well documented, and interesting criticism of authoritative Bible interpretations, all the more daring because Ernie Bringas is an ordained United Methodist minister. Condemning any form of bibliolatry (the Bible as the divine word of God to be followed unequivocally as the ultimate authority), the author supports knowledge and discernment as necessary ingredients in understanding religion and faith today.

“The belief that divine revelation is absolute is an aberration that is woven into the fabric of our faith and, for that matter, all belief systems that claim special knowledge. This crippling presumption prohibits personal growth by denying the validity of any new knowledge which conflicts with the sacred scrolls. On this basis, we have misdirected the Christian family—and everyone else—for almost 2,000 years.”

This belief supported by the Church and most preachers today has been the basis for present and past tragedies. Starting with the relationship between the Book’s interpretation and the existence of slavery, torture, anti-Semitism, hatred of women and gays and the burning of witches, Ernie Bringas moves into a thorough criticism of some of the strongholds of the Christian “blind faith.” His use of historical and modern documents to place his criticism in context makes it all the more convincing. The author not only criticizes but also proposes a certain number of intelligent solutions to integrate knowledge and discernment in order to change one’s perspective on ideas which are generally received as is.

This intelligent book is a breath of fresh air and should be widely distributed and read. Not one person in the Western world—the peoples of the Book—can claim not to have been in one form or another damaged—if not physically, then psychologically, morally, intellectually, spiritually, unconsciously, and so on—by the ignorance scattered by the Church since its inception. But the potential reader should be reminded that behind his criticism Bringas’ attempt is to clear a path to the truth. After all, “truth is truth; no special declaration of authority is needed to make it so.” His ultimate message is that true faith goes hand in hand with intelligence.—Donvez

Logic and Mr. Limbaugh
Ray Perkins, Jr., cartoon illustrations by Mike Marland
200 pp., paper, $9.95, ISBN: 0-8126-9294-2, Open Court

This book is tagged as “Current Affairs / Logic.” It is designed to be a teaching text on logic, as we might expect from a professor of philosophy and critical thinking, but it will also engage the novice or casual reader. Perkins begins with introductory chapters on “Basic Logic” and “How to Spot Fallacies”—then demonstrates the fine points with analysis of dozens of fallacies transcribed directly from radio scripts of Rush Limbaugh's shows. Perkins has found a rich vein; the examples are thorough, cogent, and lively. Rush’s conservative commentary seems an endless fountain of suspect reasoning. The author does give credit when Rush’s reasoning is sound, but the book will not be a winner with the millions of devoted readers of Limbaugh’s own mass market paperbacks, the “dittoheads.” In the words quoted on the cover of Martin Gardner, respected science author and commentator: “Rush Limbaugh may be funny, entertaining, at times lovable, and even right, but his reasoning skills could hardly be more primitive…” For liberals, independent thinkers, college students studying just about any social science not to mention logic proper, and sensible readers everywhere—this will likely be the most entertaining and humorous book on clear thinking available this decade.—Lourie

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