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The Way of Wyrd by Brian Bates is a magical book that captures the ancient spirit of pagan Saxons, even if it may not be entirely authentic

Review by KEN KORCZAK

Over the past couple of years I’ve occasionally seen mention of a book called THE WAY OF WYRD by BRIAN BATES on sites such as Facebook and other online forums. It was one such prompting that motivated me to investigate what this book is about. I was surprised to discover it was published 30 years ago in 1983.

After reading The Way of Wyrd, I can understand its enduring popularity and the fond and even reverential praise it garners from fans.

This is a fictional tale centered on Anglo-Saxon pagan spiritual teachings and mythology. The year is 674 A.D. It tells the story of a Christian monk from England who is sent to some location on the European mainland so that he can study the gods of the Saxons. His purpose is what was always the purpose of Christians of that era – to find out just enough about the ancient pagan systems so that they could wipe it out and displace it with Christianity.

The young monk who gets the assignment is the humble and meek Wat Brand. Shortly after arriving in Saxon territory, he meets a shaman of extraordinary wisdom and power. This Saxon sorcerer, Wulf, immediately agrees to teach brand everything he can about the power of the pagan gods and spirits. The book plays out as a kind of master-student series of lessons in Saxon spirituality.

There is a spectacular amount of magical activity among the blissful natural setting of an unspoiled European forest. This combination of magic couched within skillful descriptions of sparkling rivers, pungent green forests and dramatic mountain landscapes appeals to those of us who long for an increasingly lost, pristine planet — long before earth was tainted by the pollution and ravages of the Industrial Age.

Either by design or by accident, the author benefits from the aura of J.R.R Tolkien. He chooses to call the land of the Saxons “Middle-Earth” which leverages the magic of The Lord of Rings. It’s true that Tolkien didn’t exactly invent the term Middle Earth, but he might as well have. Tolkien was the first to popularize Middle Earth as a modern description for what the ancients referred to as Midgard, Middenheim, Manaheim, or Middengeard.

Tolkien first encountered the term in 1914 when pouring over rare fragments of centuries old documents. He found this line by the Anglo-Saxon poet Cynewulf:

Éala éarendel engla beorhtast / ofer middangeard monnum sended.

Which translates to:

Hail Earendel, brightest of angels / above the middle-earth sent unto men.

Before Tolkien, no one was using Middle Earth as a popular description of pre-Chrisitian Europe, but now it’s fair game for all.

Brian Bates

While I enjoyed nearly every page of The Way of Wyrd and give it my top recommendation, I think the criticisms of how Saxon spirituality is portrayed are fair. Many question the authenticity of the presentation. The Way of the Wyrd reads as much (or more) like a modern New Age conception of magic as it does a scholarly documentation of what the pagan Saxons actually believed and practiced.

In the introduction of the book, Bates makes a strenuous case that his work is a faithful and accurate rendering of Saxon magic. He says his narrative is based on a 1,000-year-old manuscript written by a Christian monk who serves as the model for his character Wat Brand. He also sites a lengthy bibliography of resources.

But I say, no way. Granted, I’m not an expert in pagan spiritual practices, but my strong impression here is that the author granted himself copious poetic license and overlaid much of this with his own modern interpretations.

Also – the structure of the narrative is one that is tried, true and familiar – the story plays out as a series of lessons between master and student, the same vehicle that Carlos Castaneda used to churn out his best-selling (and phony) series of tales of a sorcerer and his apprentice. Richard Bach also used this structure in Illusions – as did many other authors – all of which hearken back to the Platonic dialogue developed in ancient Greece.

There’s nothing wrong with adopting this formula; it’s just that, Brian Bates is obviously a crafty writer who knows how to write a crowd-pleasing yarn – leverage a little Tolkien, execute the tale with a time-tested formula, and take as many liberties as you need to make the information appeal to a modern New Agey audience.

Good for him, I say, because we’re all winners. The Way of Wyrd is a beautiful book which has bolstered interest in the ancient pagan beliefs of Northern Europe – and those beliefs were more sane and sound than what passes for modern mainstream religion today.

Ken Korczak is the author of: MINNESOTA PARANORMALA

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“One Just Man” by Stan I.S. Law will be a mind expanding feast for some, but others may find it’s philosophical theme well-traveled and well-worn ground

Review by KEN KORCZAK

Two central motifs that pervade ONE JUST MAN center on dualism and paradox. And so it is appropriate that my review will be somewhat dualistic and paradoxical. That is, I am going to very highly recommend this book, but I will also offer some rather sharp criticism.

The premise is one common in literature: a man who has a Messiah complex, or a man who really is the Messiah, but doesn’t know it yet. It’s a theme that pops up across all genres: In science fiction there is Michael Morcock’s “Behold the Man” and Philip K. Dick’s “The Divine Invasion.” In New Age literature there’s Richard Bach’s Don Shimoda. In contemporary literature Chuck Palahnuik’s creates Victor Mancini. In classic literature there are many: Camus’ Meursault, for example. Of course, Nikos Kazantzakis reimagined Christ himself in his 1953 classic, “The Last Temptation of Christ.”

In ONE JUST MAN, then, we have Dr. Peter Thornton, a brilliant, up-and-coming Montreal physician who slowly begins to realize his powers of healing go well beyond medical science. He’s a resistant and reluctant messiah, but eventually his “gift’ overpowers him. As the novel progresses, he must accept his fate for what he is.

Because the best fiction is based on character author STAN I.S. LAW scores high marks for crafting a viewpoint character in a way that is subtle yet powerful – but it is another character that looms over every moment of the narrative in an even more subtle and powerful way – the family butler Winston Smith.

Imagine if you could a mix of Batman’s man Alfred with the legendary Hermes Trismegistus. Or maybe if you combined equal amount John the Baptist, Simon Magus, Erwin Schrödinger and Sir John Gielgud – you would then have the mysterious Winston Smith.

The first third of the novel is absorbing because Dr. Thornton’s fierce introspective struggles are compelling. We meet a cold-as-ice clinician who is the consummate professional, yet has a penchant for sleazy liaisons; he “relieves tension” by banging nurses in hospital linen closets, only to forget their faces before he gets his pants zipped up. All his off duty time is spent in heartless, robotic study of the chemistry and plumbing of the human body so that he can become the most efficient doctor, more akin to a mechanic of bodies than a healer of people with souls.

To paraphrase Viktor Frankl (echoing any number of Zen masters): “One does not pursue enlightenment; it must ensue.” This is the case with Peter Thornton. The time comes when he can no longer deny the reality that he has the power to heal by touch. His transcendence from ordinary doctor to messianic healer happens quietly but definitely. He doesn’t ask for it, but he gets it.

Thornton suddenly cannot suffer personal material wealth and possessions; prestige means nothing; all goals and graspings drop away. He becomes a simple “faith healer” of men, banishing pain, disease and suffering with a touch.

But then the novel goes drastically off course. Peter Thornton becomes a conduit for healing, but he has no control over his gift. The power of healing nearly kills him, even as it gives life to others. He then is rescued by the mysterious Winston Smith and proceeds to enter upon a long period of convalescence. Unfortunately for the reader, this period of integration involves endless discussion and heady philosophizing with his girlfriend in a remote cabin in the Canadian wilderness.

There’s a lot of lofty philosophical blather, but nothing happens.

All tension is drained from the narrative. Thornton and his partner are free to enjoy food, sex, blissful natural vistas and starlight as they ponder the enigmatic duality of soul and spirit, the paradox of matter as energy, and the numbing conclusion that a particle singularity exists simultaneous as a wave form.

One of the most inexplicable choices the author makes is to reduce Dr. Thornton’s love interest from a brilliant, beautiful, powerful woman crackling with aggressive sexuality into a simpering girlish sycophant – she goes from being one of the world’s most erudite physicists to a mildly confused scrub woman, cook and sex partner for her exulted new Messiah, who adopts the appallingly pretentious (egotistical?) name, Petrus Latter.

I mean, if the original Jesus Christ was as preachy, dull and bordering on maudlin as this guy, it’s little wonder he was crucified.

Stan I.S. Law

What seems to be happening here is that the author has contrived a fictional scenario to serve as a vehicle to deliver his metaphysical determinations – he does an excellent job of creating interesting, vivid characters, but then settles in to string them like puppets, commanding them to chatter on about the nature of human reality, physical reality and consciousness – and about how all of it is informed by implications falling out from quantum theory.

But does the author at least present a sound philosophy and metaphysics? Yes, he certainly does – and he does so with great lucidity and eloquence. Stan I.S. Law is obviously a brilliant guy, and a writer with a great heart. He is a marvelously elegant wordsmith. His prose is effortless and beautiful. However, in the meta-analysis, there is not a single revelation being made here that isn’t already known by a large segment of today’s reading public.

So the measure of how much you enjoy this novel depends on the level to which you understand timeless, universal principles of metaphysics (Vedic, Buddhist and Gnostic Christian ), and your awareness of how modern quantum mechanics appears to support what enlightened visionaries have been shouting out to us for millennia.

If you don’t know a lot of this stuff, you’ll find this book a scintillating, mind expanding feast. But if you already have at least an intellectual understanding of the metaphysical concepts presented here, you might be bored stiff through the last half of the book.

Ken Korczak is the author of: THE FAIRY REDEMPTION OF JUBAL CRANCH

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“Limitless Mind” by famed laser physicist Russell Targ combines the implications of remote viewing with Buddhist-inspired thought

Review by KEN KORCZAK

The CIA knew during the height of the Cold War that the Soviets were putting a ton of time and money into psychic spying research. It concerned our government enough to fund their own research. CIA spies may have even gotten reports that the Russians were having some success.

And so, a couple of brainy, eccentric physicists caught the attention of CIA Super Spooks. One was Russell Targ, who was an expert on lasers. The other was Hal Puthoff who was into gravitational physics. Both had worked successfully for years in their fields.

Incredibly, these two brainiacs had decided to put their careers and reputations on the line to study ESP – extrasensory perception, mind reading, clairvoyance – you know, all that voodoo. They were working out of a small lab at the Stanford Research Institute (SRI).

The CIA was worried enough about the Soviets to jazz up Targ and Puthoff with some serious government cash. And so the legendary top secret method of psychic spying “remote viewing” was born.

In this book, Russell Targ gives us a brief review of those early days beginning in 1972 of how remote viewing was developed. In his words, he says: “Ingo Swan taught us about remote viewing, we taught the army, and the army taught the world.

Ingo Swann was an obscure artist who had decided to volunteer as a one of Targ’s guinea pigs. It turns out that Swann had some amazing psychic abilities. (See my review of Swann’s free ebook, PENETRATION). It was Swann who coined the term “remote viewing.” So early on, Swann became a central figure in this strange quest which entangled all of them with the U.S. military the CIA, and international intrigue.

In general, however, that’s not what this book is really about. Rather, Targ’s work in remote viewing led him slowly but surely toward a more expansive view of life and reality, which was also heavily influenced by Buddhist thought.

Like many others, Targ could not help but notice the similarities between ancient Buddhist and Vedic teaching and a new model of reality emerging from the implications of quantum physics.

RUSSELL TARG

And so in this book, Targ gives us heady doses of Buddhist-influenced philosophy. But he also draws heavily upon New Age thinking — that which no doubt makes his peers — hard, reductionist, materialistic, scientists — gag!

Targ credits none other than A COURSE IN MIRACLES by Dr. Helen Schucman as the “main stepping stone” which finally propelled him to abandon his prestigious position at Lockheed Missiles and Space. In his words: “I launched myself on a different path to spaciousness that didn’t require a missile.”

Targ chose to live his life in a state of “non-wanting,” “spaciousness,” the “abandonment of the ego and striving” to live in a way that is at one with a Buddhist-Quantum conception of God – immersed in a kind of universal field of intelligence-love energy which Targ describes as a “loving syrup.”

Yes, Targ will plod through some of the statistical results of his early remote viewing experiments and tediously describe how double-blind protocols were set up, and what all the data means. He also spends a chapter talking about “remote healing,” a field in which is late daughter Dr. Elizabeth Targ was deeply involved.

In short – and I’m very sad to say – I think some will find this book a disappointment. Those looking for intensive information on remote viewing will get “more of the same” and the same basic information available on thousands of web sites or other books. Other might be surprised at the lectures on Buddhist philosophy (not really lectures, but more like Targ’s personal testament of what Buddhism has meant to him and what he believes it can do for others) – but the end result is a book that may seem disjointed. It’s not really enough about one thing, but then again not enough about the other thing either.

To be fair, however: I think Targ was attempting to present the legitimacy of remote viewing as a science by providing a greater overall framework – a new model based on new physics – to show how it all works together beautifully, and so has a foundation for credibility.

Aslo, I was already extremely familiar with remote viewing before reading this, and I have been practicing Zen meditation for 30 years now – so much of this information seemed old hat from my perspective. It may not be that way at all for you.

Ken Korczak is the author of: MINNESOTA PARANORMALA

Follow @KenKorczak