Mark Booth: The Secret History of the World

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Mark Booth The Secret History of the World
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They say that history is written by the victors. But what if history—or what we come to know as history—has all along been written by the wrong people? What if everything we’ve been told is only part of the story? What if it’s the wrong part? In this groundbreaking new work, Mark Booth embarks on an enthralling intellectual tour of our world’s secret histories. Starting from a dangerous premise—that everything we’ve been taught about our world’s past is corrupted, and that the stories put forward by the various cults and mystery schools throughout history are true—Booth produces nothing short of an alternate history of the past 3,000 years. History is more than a list of things that have happened; it’s a measure of consciousness and experience. And in The , Booth’s take on history is relentless, charging through time and space and thought in interdisciplinary fashion; embracing cognitive science, religion, psychology, historiography, and philosophy, a new timeline is drawn, and a huge swath of our cultural heritage that has for long been hidden is restored. From Greek and Egyptian mythology to Jewish folklore, from Christian cults to Freemasons, from Charlemagne to Don Quixote, from George Washington to Hitler—Booth shows without a doubt that history as we know it needs a revolutionary rethink, and he has 3,000 years of hidden wisdom to back it up.

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Mark Booth


As Laid Down by the Secret Societies

Frontispiece of Sir Walter Raleigh’s The History of the World, 1614


THIS IS A HISTORY OF THE WORLD that has been taught down the ages in certain secret societies. It may seem quite mad from today’s point of view, but an extraordinarily high proportion of the men and women who made history have been believers.

Historians of the ancient world tell us that from the beginnings of Egyptian civilization to the collapse of Rome, public temples in places like Thebes, Eleusis and Ephesus had priestly enclosures attached to them. Classical scholars refer to these enclosures as the Mystery schools.

Here meditation techniques were taught to the political and cultural elite. Following years of preparation, Plato, Aeschylus, Alexander the Great, Caesar Augustus, Cicero and others were initiated into a secret philosophy. At different times the techniques used by these ‘schools’ involved sensory deprivation, breathing exercises, sacred dance, drama, hallucinogenic drugs and different ways of redirecting sexual energies. These techniques were intended to induce altered states of consciousness in the course of which initiates were able to see the world in new ways.

Anyone who revealed to outsiders what he had been taught inside the enclosures was executed. Iamblichus, the neoplatonist philosopher, recorded what happened to two boys who lived at Ephesus. One night, lit up by rumours of phantoms and magical practices, of a more intense, more blazingly real reality hidden inside the enclosures, they let their curiosity get the better of them. Under cover of darkness they scaled the walls and dropped down the other side. Pandemonium followed, audible all over the city, and in the morning the boys’ corpses were discovered in front of the enclosure gates.

In the ancient world the teachings of the Mystery schools were guarded as closely as nuclear secrets are guarded today.

Then in the third century the temples of the ancient world were closed down as Christianity became the ruling religion of the Roman Empire. The danger of ‘proliferation’ was addressed by declaring these secrets heretical, and trafficking in them continued to be a capital offence. But as we shall see, members of the new ruling elite, including Church leaders, now began to form secret societies. Behind closed doors they continued to teach the old secrets.

This book contains an accumulation of evidence to show that an ancient and secret philosophy that originated in the Mystery schools was preserved and nurtured down the ages through the medium of secret societies, including the Knights Templar and the Rosicrucians. Sometimes this philosophy has been hidden from the public and at other times it has been placed in plain view — though always in such a way as to remain unrecognized by outsiders.

To take one example, the frontispiece of The History of the World by Sir Walter Raleigh, published in 1614, is on display in the Tower of London. Thousands file past it every day, missing the goat’s head hidden in its design and other coded messages.

If you’ve ever wondered why the West has no equivalent to the tantric sex on open display on the walls of Hindu monuments such as the temples of Khajuraho in central India, you may be interested to learn that an analogous technique — the cabalistic art of karezza — is encoded in much of the West’s art and literature.

We will see, too, how secret teachings on the history of the world influence the foreign policy of the present US administration regarding Central Europe.

Is the Pope Catholic? Well, not in the straightforward way you might think. One morning in 1939 a young man aged twenty-one was walking down the street when a truck drove into him and knocked him down. While in a coma he had an overwhelming mystical experience. When he came round he recognized that, although it had come about in an unexpected way, this experience was what he had been led to expect as the fruit of techniques taught him by his mentor, Mieczlaw Kotlorezyk, a modern Rosicrucian master.

As a result of this mystical experience the young man joined a seminary, later became Bishop of Cracow, then later still Pope John Paul II.

These days the fact that the head of the Catholic Church was first initiated into the spirit realm under the aegis of a secret society is perhaps not as shocking as it once was, because science has taken over from religion as the main agent of social control. It is science that decides what it is acceptable for us to believe — and what is beyond the pale. In both the ancient world and the Christian era, the secret philosophy was kept secret by threatening those who trafficked in it with death. Now in the post-Christian era the secret philosophy is still surrounded by dread, but the threat is of ‘social death’ rather than execution. Belief in key tenets, such as prompting by disembodied beings or that the course of history is materially influenced by secret cabals, has been branded as at best crackpot, at worst the very definition of what it is to be mad.

In Mystery schools candidates wishing to join were made to fall down a well, undergo trial by water, squeeze through a very small door and hold logic-chopping discussions with anthropomorphic animals. Ring a bell? Lewis Carroll is one of the many children’s writers — others are the Brothers Grimm, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, C .S. Lewis and the creators of The Wizard of Oz and Mary Poppins — who have believed in the secret history and the secret philosophy. With a mixture of the topsy-turvy and child-like literalness these writers have sought to undermine the common sense, materialistic view of life. They want to teach children to think backwards, look at everything upside down and the other way round, and break free of established, fixed ways of thinking.

Other kindred spirits include Rabelais and Jonathan Swift. Their work has a disconcerting quality in which the supernatural is not made a big issue of — it is simply a given. Imaginary objects are seen as at least as real as the mundane objects of the physical world. Satirical and sceptical, these gently iconoclastic writers are undermining of readers’ assumptions and subversive of down-to-earth attitudes. Esoteric philosophy is nowhere explicitly stated in Gargantua and Pantagruel or Gulliver’s Travels, but a small amount of digging brings it into the light of day.

In fact this book will show that throughout history an astonishing number of famous people have secretly cultivated the esoteric philosophy and mystical states taught in the secret societies. It might be argued that, because they lived in times when even the best educated did not enjoy all the intellectual benefits that modern science brings, it is only natural that Charlemagne, Dante, Joan of Arc, Shakespeare, Cervantes, Leonardo, Michelangelo, Milton, Bach, Mozart, Goethe, Beethoven and Napoleon all held beliefs that are discredited today. But then isn’t it rather surprising that many in modern times have held the same set of beliefs, not just madmen, lone mystics or writers of fantasies, but the founders of the modern scientific method, the humanists, the rationalists, the liberators, secularizers and scourges of superstition, the modernists, the sceptics and the mockers? Could the very people who have done most to form today’s scientifically oriented and materialistic world-view secretly have believed something else? Newton, Kepler, Voltaire, Paine, Washington, Franklin, Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, Edison, Wilde, Gandhi, Duchamp: could it be true that they were initiated into a secret tradition, taught to believe in the power of mind over matter and that they were able to communicate with incorporeal spirits?

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