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Wednesday, May 14th, 2008

Time Event
10:35p
Oh, dear ...
Sometimes there are books that one really wants to like ... really, really ... but the author seems hell bent to make that ultimately impossible. Unfortunately, Rosslyn: Guardian of the Secrets of the Holy Grail by Tim Wallace-Murphy and Marilyn Hopkins is pretty much typical of this sort of book.

Now, one might think that a book titled "Rosslyn: Guardian of the Secrets of the Holy Grail" would be looking at rumors and legends that Rosslyn Chapel, some 7 miles outside of Edinburgh, Scotland, could possibly be the resting place of said relic (along with other Templar treasures) ... it seemed a logical assumption to me. However, this book is nowhere near that linear, and, frankly, that subject is, at best, pointedly ignored in favor of ... well, other stuff.

It seems that the genesis of this book lay in the interests of two people who did not live long enough to make it happen, one of whom was Trevor Ravenscroft (he who saddled those very serious Anthroposophical Society folks with so many wild-eyed "seekers" with his books on Rudloph Steiner's student W.J. Stein's purported Indiana Jones-esque escapades during WW2), with whom Wallace-Murphy had co-authored a book. There certainly is a sense here that the authors felt they were committed to producing a book, yet really didn't have a clear idea of what that book should be about!

The book meanders from topic to topic, sometimes veering off into "ooh, shiny", sometimes getting lost in the woods. The general drift is that there are these three "researchers" who are trying to find out something that has something to do with Rosslyn. The book, promisingly enough, does start with the Rosslyn Chapel, but then heads off into looks at what I am taking to be a highly romanticized view of the Celts and Celtic culture, the influence that had on the Celtic Church, and then into a look at how horrible the Catholic Church was to everybody they could get their hands on (not the least being the Templars). This ultimately serves to point to a lot of "Gnostic knowledge" having to be encoded into stone for its preservation. This also swings off into Baigent/Leigh/Lincoln territory about a "holy bloodline", but never much makes a point about it. As much as I was amused to have read a very large percentage of the books that get name-checked in here, it was a constant frustration where the authors would give the back-cover-blurb version of something, make some vague allusion to how this supported whatever they were dealing with, and then move on without providing anything of substance!

It turns out that the main "thrust" of the book is to posit an ancient pilgrimage route that followed an "initiatory path" corresponding the the chakras from one "ancient Druid site" (now covered by a church) to another, from the Atlantic coast of Spain, up through France, and on to Scotland. Oh, and these Druid chakra sites each were based on which God/planet was worshiped there prior to the Roman occupation (like Chartres being the site of "the Sun oracle" and Notre-Dame being "the Mars oracle"). To be honest, there is a lot of fascinating conjecture in this, with what would appear to be rather alluring possibilities ... and the concept of the "awakening chakras" through power points on the planet was certainly one that I hadn't heard before in relation to Rosslyn! But, again, they veer, and in what appears to be an effort to strengthen their argument, they throw in an extensive section of detailed "Egyptian Mystery School" rituals (all drawn from one book of very questionable scholarship) which is held up as corroborating evidence for their big theory.

This was probably my biggest gripe here ... the more "out there" a "newagey" source was, the more likely they were going to cite it as a reliable reference. It boggles the mind when authors rely on other people's "channeled information" to base their own arguments! Also, aside from "name checking" source books without much explanation, towards the end they start plugging in what can only be described as "shout outs" to stuff like reflexology, etc., which seems to fit a "of course I'll mention you in the book" scenario than anything logical in the telling. By the end of the book, things have reached such a mish-mash of newagey twaddle that the voices of "medieval mystics" they're citing manifest in the words of the likes of Chief Seattle, Black Elk, and Chuang Tzu!

Again, there are some interesting bits in Rosslyn: Guardian of the Secrets of the Holy Grail, and it's a pretty quick read, but unless you're the airy-fairy type, this is likely to drive you a little bit nuts waiting for the authors to get to the point ... any point. This is a Barnes & Noble book (which I found on a clearance table for 70% off last week), so that might be your first stop if you were interested in picking up a copy ... but Amazon's new/used guys have it for $3 new, and as little as 40¢ used.


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