“In ancient Greece methods of foretelling the future were widespread, whether they were official oracles of the gods or simple dice games to divine one’s luck. One of the most popular and accessible ways of determining one’s fate and fortune was through the ritual casting of animal bones, similar to the casting of coins or yarrow stalks with the Chinese I Ching.
Kostas Dervenis explains how to interpret the casting of the oracle bones—either traditional sheep anklebones or coins—to answer your questions on love, health, wealth, and the future. Using the original stanzas discovered in ancient Greek temples in Greece and Turkey, the author reconstructs the complete matrix of interpretation for each possible casting of the bones. He explores how this practice traces back to the Golden Age of the Neolithic period in Greece, Turkey, and Bulgaria—predating the I Ching—and how it is still practiced today as the popular folk game of ‘knucklebones.’
Providing the first complete guide to this ancient practice, Dervenis allows anyone to cast the bones for guidance, inspiration, and insight into their fate.” — flap copy
This tale of an Englishman’s gradual induction into Sufism in Turkey provides an engaging, mystery-ridden narrative, and some convincing descriptions of mystical states. The angle is highly experiential, with little explanation of Sufi doctrine, and only a modicum regarding practices. The author-aspirant is eventually received into the Mevlevi Order, but it is unclear whether Hamid, his principal teacher throughout the account, is himself of the Mevleviye. Important social subtexts include the outsider status of Feild (not an orthodox Muslim) and the proscribed status of Sufism in Turkey. This latter item suggests that the story—which offers no specific dates—took place prior to the Turkish government’s lifting of its ban on the Mevlevi Order in the 1950’s.
It is a quick read, and I found myself pretty sympathetic to its ideals—despite its invocation of the “New Age” in the last chapter. The indicia note that “Portions of this book have appeared in New Age Journal.” The “last barrier” of the title doesn’t even occur until the epilogue, but it involves a pristine example of spiritual development by magical means.
Perhaps this book would be a good pick for those who savored the initiatory mechanics in Fight Club. It has that abusive (yet illuminating!) guru groove. [via]
“During one ceremony in July 1909, in the Victoria Street studio, we invoked Bartzabel, the spirit of Mars.
One of those present was a man of importance in the Admiralty, a commander whose name is too well known to mention. He asked the spirit, which had been invoked in a specially purified and consecrated man, if ‘nation would ever rise against nation.’
Bartzabel answered that it would. Questioned further, the spirit said that war would break out within five years, and that the nations which would be smashed would be Turkey and Germany.
Within a fortnight of the end of those five years the Great War broke out.” [via, also]