Synarchy by D.C.S.

Synarchy
D.C.S.
SVT Publishing, 2009
216 pages

Note: This is a guest review by Bronwen Forbes, who graciously agreed to take on some of the extra review copies I had when I decided to go on semi-hiatus.

The second book on the stack that Lupa gave to me to guest review was Synarchy, a novel about the end of the world – the one currently scheduled for December 21, 2012.

As with most other fin de siècle tales, Synarchy features conspiracies, counter-conspiracies, power-hungry world leaders, intrigue, and super-advanced technology working to either bring about the end of the world or prevent the end of the world – all for the good of mankind. And this is only the first book in the series!

What makes Synarchy truly stand out from the other stories in the genre are an overabundance of appallingly amateur grammar and punctuation errors, frequent awkwardly constructed sentences, and too many character-building sentences that consist solely of a description of the person’s eye color. The fact that the author’s bio in the back of the book states that she is also working on a series of short stories based on the Synarchy 2012 txt roleplay game explains the abrupt descriptions, but does not excuse them.

A little digging on the Internet proved my suspicion that this is a self-published book – the basic grammar and punctuation issues alone speak of a total lack of an editor’s eye. I am aware that a lot of good books go unread by the general public because the established publishing companies don’t want to take a chance on an unknown author and/or niche market story. For those books and authors, I am all in favor of small press and self-publishing opportunities. I am also aware that a lot of stuff the established publishing companies reject they reject due to lack of unique story and basic writing skills.

That being said, the addition of ancient aliens (including one we referred to as the Norse God Loki) is a novel and interesting addition to the fin de siècle formula. Technogeeks may love this book and cope better with the Twitter-esque characters and odd sentence structure. Apparently this luddite curmudgeon reviewer is just not the target audience.

One and a half paws out of five.

Want to buy this book?

Advertisements

Beyond 2012 by James Endredy

Beyond 2012: A Shaman’s Call to Personal Change and the Transformation of Global Consciousness
James Endredy
Llewellyn, 2008
220 pages

Leave it to James Endredy to write a book on 2012 that actually makes sense. I’ve liked what I’ve read of his work, particularly Ecoshamanism (which is one of my absolute favorite books on shamanism). It took me over a year after I first learned about the book to get it and read it, but I’m glad I did–it came at a good time.

Most of the books on 2012 are gloom-and-doom–the world is coming to an end in 2012 because the Mayan calendar says so, and all the bad things in the world are just more reasons to sit and mope and/or pontificate about this. And yet….and yet….this always struck me as really nowhere near constructive–especially since the end of the world had been predicted numerous time and had never happened. Beyond 2012 completely reframes the 2012 situation. Not only is the world not ending (except, maybe, as we know it) but 2012 is a good marker for a shift in consciousness and the way we make our decisions regarding the very real world we face right this moment, rather than some apocalyptic fantasy near-future. Endredy takes the root information on the 2012 phenomenon and manages to make a great deal of sense about it.

While Endredy’s shamanism does play a significant role in the material in this book, it is not strictly a book on shamanism. The techniques that he includes are more open than that, and are practices for those who wish to put forth conscious effort in making a better world in the face of environmental, social, and other destruction. Building altars, for example, is a fairly common technique in modern spiritual practices, and many of the techniques he provides for self-reflection aren’t so different from many of the concepts I’ve been learning about in my graduate-level psychological training.

What Endredy does provide is a keen awareness of the interconnectivity that humanity has with all of the rest of Nature, and a thoroughly developed, deeply-felt series of relationships with natural phenomena. A large portion of the book is written to reflect dialogues he’s had with the various phenomena of Nature, some of his most important teachers. What has always struck me about his work, both through his writing and in the occasion I was able to participate in a rite of passage he facilitated, is how sincere it is–he’s about the least pretentious person I’ve ever run into, and this includes within his shamanic practice. The material in Beyond 2012 reflects a primary focus on rebuilding that connectivity and awareness on a greater scale, and offering people a variety of tools to choose from. I know I’ll be keeping this text in part for work with my therapeutic clients, because there’s a lot of versatility here.

And in fact, this book has a lot of potential readers. In addition to shamanic practitioners and pagan folk in general utilizing this in spiritual and other manners, environmental activists and mental health professionals both can take the ideas into the wider social sphere. Additionally, I would love to give a copy of this to every person who’s convinced that the world’s going to hell in a handbasket come 2012, to show them that there are much more constructive ways to look at this potentially transitional period. I never thought I’d give this rating to a book on this subject, but here goes:

Five optimistic pawprints out of five.

Want to buy this book?

Serpent of Light by Drunvalo Malchizedek

Serpent of Light: Beyond 2012
Drunvalo Melchizedek
Weiser Books, 2007
270 pages

There’s a saying that I’m fond of using when talking about spiritual practices:

It’s okay to have your head in the clouds, just so long as your have your feet firmly planted on the ground.

While trying to empirically prove any spiritual belief is most likely a lost cause, and belief is a heavily personal and subjective phenomenon, when beliefs intersect with more concrete concepts such as history and culture, quality of research becomes highly important. Unfortunately, much of the New Age has a tendency to eschew basic research techniques as “too academic”, and the proponents of a lot of New Age material prefer to not have anyone harsh their mellow, as it were. Hence why New Agers get a bad rap, including among neopagans, who do have a greater tendency to research history, mythology and other -ologies in an attempt to test their beliefs and experiences.

The whole 2012 morass is full of an unwillingness to do such litmus testing. In the spirit of the new Age “anything goes” attitude, the fact that the Mayan calendar ends in December 2012 has spawned an entire genre of “nonfiction” based on trying to prove that this means the world will come to an end exactly where the carvers ran out of stone on that particular timepiece. It seems as though the (primarily white) people who have latched onto the 2012 thing have done little to no research on the actual Mayan and other central American indigenous cultures, and instead pick and choose whatever bits of information will, however tenuously, “support” their claims. It’s one of the worst cases of cultural appropriation.

Serpent of Light is an excellent example of this: the entire book is the author’s ramblings about channeled information and other unverified personal gnosis that has absolutely no historical backing whatsoever. There’s the predictable hodgepodge of “Mayan” beliefs, Eastern philosophies (such as chakras), and New Agery (particularly the infamous crystal skulls, which have absolutely no historical relevance to the Maya or any other indigenous culture).

Here’s an example of what this all causes the author to do:

“I was preparing to go to the Yucatan in Mexico to place specially programmed crystals in jungle temples, and I had never been there before in my life” (p. 52).

So you’ve never been to a place, never interacted with the people, other living beings, spiritual denizens, or the place itself–and you’re going to presume to improve upon what another culture entirely created?

…and this is pretty much what the entire book is: White guy who makes up his own convenient version of history mucks around in other people’s cultural artifacts attempting to improve on them because of what his channeled messages say. I could go on and on, but it would just be more of the same. Unlike The Great Shift, the only other book on 2012 I’ve reviewed here so far, there’s not even practical advice to balance out the drek.

Not recommended.

One pawprint out of five.

Want to buy this book?

The Great Shift edited by Martine Vallee

The Great Shift: Co-Creating a New World for 2012 and Beyond
Edited by Martine Vallee
Weiser, 2009
256 pages

As 2012 approaches, it’s becoming a hotter topic. Just what will occur? Are we all doomed, or will absolutely nothing out of the ordinary happen? I suppose I should preface this review by saying that I don’t believe in the 2012 mythos, that significant events happen every day that are completely unrelated, and that I don’t take channelled texts literally–I don’t believe they’re more than the writer “channelling” some part of their mind not normally used. If you compare the results of channelling with the culture of the channeller, you see a lot of cultural similarities. So my approach to this anthology of channelled writings about 2012 is already biased.

The book is divided into three parts, one apiece for Lee Carroll “channelling” Kryon, Tom Kenyon “channelling” the Hathors and Mary Magdalen, and Patricia Cori “channelling” the High Council of Sirius. (Why doesn’t anyone ever channel anyone more boring?) About the only way I could take this book seriously was to look at it as purely a mythos, rather than a literal “we channelled this from beings who actually exist Somewhere Out There”. And in that light, there were actually some pieces of good advice that can essentially be summarized as:

–Take good care of your physical health and be aware of your body, instead of ignoring it until something goes seriously wrong
–Be good to yourself emotionally and mentally, and tend to your health there
–Be kind to other people; there’s enough nastiness in the world that needs balancing out

These are quite applicable pieces of advice in these times, and the writers often provide some really useful insights on how to accomplish these things. Western cultures, especially the dominant culture in the U.S., tend to lack interconnection and awareness, and I found some nice reminders to reach out to others, and to reach within myself as well.

Unfortunately, it’s couched in a lot of New Age material, including (of course) crystal skulls and Egypt, and star beings and not-at-all-vicious-as-in-the-Bible-angels. Because of this, I found myself twitching a good bit of the time I was reading. Still, to each their own. If you have more tolerance for New Age material, you’ll have an easier time with the book; even if you don’t, feel free to glean whatever’s useful from it.

Two and a half pawprints out of five.

Want to buy this book?