[Bear & Company, 320 pages]
I grew up fascinated with the supernatural and the unexplained. In elementary school, my classmates and I avidly watched Unsolved Mysteries, read Goosebumps and Christopher Pike books, and made our own Ouija boards. In high school, it was The X-Files, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Roswell.
As we grow older, our practical side wins out and we look to science or logic to explain things we don’t fully understand; but every once in a while, we come across something that moves us and we can’t explain why.
Empirical study with childlike wonder
In Power Places and the Master Builders of Antiquity, author Frank Joseph uses childlike wonder to describe the experience of visiting the book’s various locations, while providing a historical and cultural context for each. He then studies the phenomena associated with each location by providing readers with scientific and empirical knowledge.
Although he seems to generally favour the “mystical” explanations, he never pushes the reader to do the same. Rather, he asks us to appreciate the spirituality that’s so intertwined with humanity. Whether we’re believers or not, spirituality is an integral part of the world’s cultures and is, in one way or another, what links all of us together.
Power Places and the Master Builders of Antiquity is an anthology of some of Joseph’s articles that were published in FATE magazine. FATE is America’s longest-running periodical devoted to providing an objective explanation of the world’s mysteries, and it helped establish the new genre of “paranormal.”
It’s clear that Joseph relished in investigating these mysteries. He personally visited the culturally significant places featured in the book and interviewed many people, while observing, studying and gathering information along the way.
Powerful visual and written imagery
Photographs and illustrations help the reader visualize some of the book’s sites. Where relevant, Joseph also provides detailed descriptions of the sites. Thankfully, his style of writing is clear and accessible.
With this visual and written imagery, the reader is well equipped to embark on Joseph’s journey with him. Each article provides the reader with information and context, but also leaves the door open for the reader’s own interpretation. We’re meant to be active, not passive, readers.
This is most evident in “Remote Viewing the Great Sphinx,” the only article in the anthology to invite the reader to participate in an exercise. “Remote viewing” is the “ability to perceive hidden or remote information by anomalous psychic means.” Remote viewers can successfully tap into the “mental sphere” or noosphere, a global information resource that connects all things.
I understand the noosphere as a universal radio frequency for the mind, which some individuals can tune into by adjusting their dials. By applying certain methodologies, they can access or envision people, places or things separated by time and space.
Joseph takes the reader through the simple procedure of Controlled Remote Viewing (CRV). The goal of CRV is to facilitate the transfer of information from the remote viewer’s subconscious into waking consciousness, where it can be “decoded” and broken down in a way that can be understood and explained. Even if you’re not suited to participate (as was yours truly), it still makes for a fascinating read, particularly when Joseph describes the commonalities in his viewers’ accounts.
“Power places” are defined by spiritual energy
Another striking aspect of the book is the section, “Places of Power in America.” As far as I understand, “power places” are geographic areas of any size that possess energy fields that hold significance for people. Throughout history, people have been drawn to these areas and have built structures in very specific places within them, in order to signify or even enhance their cultural, religious or spiritual importance.
When cultures become extinct or move on, sometimes others will take their place and repurpose the existing structures. Well-known power places include Stonehenge, the Egyptian pyramids, and the Parthenon, but power places also exist where we’d least expect them to be, such as in the American Midwest.
“Human beings are instinctively drawn to places like Starved Rock because of their inherent need for personal empowerment and spiritual replenishment.”
One such example is Starved Rock in Illinois, which has seen many people come and go throughout the centuries. Results of archaeological digs put humans in the area as early as 3,000 years ago.
To this day, Starved Rock continues to attract those on a spiritual quest. Joseph explains that whenever “great, natural Earth power and dramatic human actions interact, they produce a sacred center of extraordinary numinosity. … Human beings are instinctively drawn to places like Starved Rock because of their inherent need for personal empowerment and spiritual replenishment.”
Most importantly, despite the bloody history that accompanies some of these power places, it’s the positive energy found within them that endures and makes a profound impact on people. How people feel when visiting these places awakens something within them, and in that moment, they’re connected to all those who’ve come before them.
The point of visiting isn’t to find answers to the mysteries these places hold, but for us to see how spiritually interconnected the world is, and to continue to connect with the world’s energies and our own.