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Author Topic: John Michael Greer  (Read 1907 times)

Cabal

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John Michael Greer
« on: April 05, 2015, 02:35:35 pm »
I was wondering how credible John Michael Greer is as a Pagan author? I've really wanted to read a few of his books, but was wondering if anyone has any opinion on his writings? He seems to combine a lot of the same things I do in my practice, and his books sound very intriguing to me.
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catja6

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Re: John Michael Greer
« Reply #1 on: April 05, 2015, 04:14:48 pm »
Quote from: Cryfder;173772
I was wondering how credible John Michael Greer is as a Pagan author? I've really wanted to read a few of his books, but was wondering if anyone has any opinion on his writings? He seems to combine a lot of the same things I do in my practice, and his books sound very intriguing to me.

 
I've only read his book on monsters. What I did like about it is that he did quite good and extensive research, and he seems to have a good solid dose of common sense and critical thinking--it's repeated throughout the text that the vast majority of "weirdness" you're likely to encounter is natural causes and/or wishful thinking.

The thing I remember very much disliking is that he's really heavily invested in the Western ceremonial magic tradition. Like, okay, fair cop, that's your thing. But it pissed me off the way he kept acting as if the HIGHLY SPECIFIC beliefs, assumptions and techniques of that particular tradition were, like, the Immutable Laws of the Universe, and the ultimate key to dealing with any and all entities.  His critical thinking skills seemed to break down when it came to examining his own assumptions about what would work and why. If there had been even a little bit of "this is my trad, and it has worked for me; there are other approaches too," it would have mitigated it somewhat. But as it is, the whole book wound up leaving a bad taste in my mouth. Like, the world is not obligated to adhere to your metanarrative, dude--and assuming that it IS seems like a recipe for problems.

Cabal

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Re: John Michael Greer
« Reply #2 on: April 05, 2015, 07:06:25 pm »
Quote from: catja6;173773
I've only read his book on monsters. What I did like about it is that he did quite good and extensive research, and he seems to have a good solid dose of common sense and critical thinking--it's repeated throughout the text that the vast majority of "weirdness" you're likely to encounter is natural causes and/or wishful thinking.

The thing I remember very much disliking is that he's really heavily invested in the Western ceremonial magic tradition. Like, okay, fair cop, that's your thing. But it pissed me off the way he kept acting as if the HIGHLY SPECIFIC beliefs, assumptions and techniques of that particular tradition were, like, the Immutable Laws of the Universe, and the ultimate key to dealing with any and all entities.  His critical thinking skills seemed to break down when it came to examining his own assumptions about what would work and why. If there had been even a little bit of "this is my trad, and it has worked for me; there are other approaches too," it would have mitigated it somewhat. But as it is, the whole book wound up leaving a bad taste in my mouth. Like, the world is not obligated to adhere to your metanarrative, dude--and assuming that it IS seems like a recipe for problems.
Thank you for you're opinion and observations! I will definitely take them into consideration! Yeah, I got the inclination that he has a really set way of looking at things, and gives advise through his spiritual viewpoint as a whole?
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Melamphoros

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Re: John Michael Greer
« Reply #3 on: April 05, 2015, 07:42:16 pm »
Quote from: catja6;173773
I've only read his book on monsters. What I did like about it is that he did quite good and extensive research, and he seems to have a good solid dose of common sense and critical thinking--it's repeated throughout the text that the vast majority of "weirdness" you're likely to encounter is natural causes and/or wishful thinking.

The thing I remember very much disliking is that he's really heavily invested in the Western ceremonial magic tradition. Like, okay, fair cop, that's your thing. But it pissed me off the way he kept acting as if the HIGHLY SPECIFIC beliefs, assumptions and techniques of that particular tradition were, like, the Immutable Laws of the Universe, and the ultimate key to dealing with any and all entities.  His critical thinking skills seemed to break down when it came to examining his own assumptions about what would work and why. If there had been even a little bit of "this is my trad, and it has worked for me; there are other approaches too," it would have mitigated it somewhat. But as it is, the whole book wound up leaving a bad taste in my mouth. Like, the world is not obligated to adhere to your metanarrative, dude--and assuming that it IS seems like a recipe for problems.

 
Adding to this, I tried to re-read the monster book last year (because I didn't have internet access and needed good snark-bait).  I think I may have left a mark on the wall from throwing the book at it too much.

In my edition, at least, Greer comes off as extremely anti-science to the point of not seeming to know how science works.  I'm not just talking about not understanding that science needs hard evidence to test.  No, that would be understandable and not different from many other new age writers....

In the introduction, he claims that Ebola outbreaks are caused by imbalances in the ecosystem.

Aside from that, the only other thing that sticks in my mind was something in the section on vampires.  He claimed that the Ancient Egyptian ba and ka were analogous to the astral and etheric bodies.  I have asked and apparently this is a load of bull.  I thought Greer just pulled this out of his ass, but after reading The Jewel of the Seven Stars I realized this has been a part of Western Mysticism since at least the Edwardian Era.

If I have the time/energy/fucks (which, given everything going on atm, is unlikely), I might go through at least the vampire section and post some of the more questionable things he said for the amusement of the board.


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RandallS

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Re: John Michael Greer
« Reply #4 on: April 05, 2015, 07:44:39 pm »
Quote from: catja6;173773
The thing I remember very much disliking is that he's really heavily invested in the Western ceremonial magic tradition.

This is common in all of his works that I've read. If you are interested in the Western ceremonial magic tradition, Greer's books on it are excellent. However, as Catja notes, his training therein colors his worldview and therefore everything he writes.

Personally, I considered Greer one of the best authors of the late 20th century -- ewhen the subject is ceremonial magic. He manages to actually explain CM well enough that someone new to the field can understand it without talking down or completely boring those who already know something about the field. With CM, this is quite an accomplishment given that most books on the CM assume background knowledge that few beginners have.
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Re: John Michael Greer
« Reply #5 on: April 06, 2015, 02:36:33 am »
Quote from: RandallS;173778
This is common in all of his works that I've read. If you are interested in the Western ceremonial magic tradition, Greer's books on it are excellent. However, as Catja notes, his training therein colors his worldview and therefore everything he writes.

Personally, I considered Greer one of the best authors of the late 20th century -- ewhen the subject is ceremonial magic. He manages to actually explain CM well enough that someone new to the field can understand it without talking down or completely boring those who already know something about the field. With CM, this is quite an accomplishment given that most books on the CM assume background knowledge that few beginners have.
He's also extremely good on modern revival Druidry. One of the best authors I've read on the subject.
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Re: John Michael Greer
« Reply #6 on: April 06, 2015, 07:53:22 am »
Quote from: Naomi J;173785
He's also extremely good on modern revival Druidry. One of the best authors I've read on the subject.

I don't believe I've read anything of his on modern Druidry. Is there a book you'd recommend?
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Re: John Michael Greer
« Reply #7 on: April 06, 2015, 07:55:01 am »
Quote from: RandallS;173791
I don't believe I've read anything of his on modern Druidry. Is there a book you'd recommend?
The Druid Magic Handbook is really good.  http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/aw/d/B0036B8TIA/ref=mp_s_a_1_10?qid=1428321269&sr=1-10&pi=AC_SX110_SY165&keywords=John+Michael+Greer
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Re: John Michael Greer
« Reply #8 on: April 06, 2015, 11:31:37 am »
Quote from: Cryfder;173772
I was wondering how credible John Michael Greer is as a Pagan author? I've really wanted to read a few of his books, but was wondering if anyone has any opinion on his writings? He seems to combine a lot of the same things I do in my practice, and his books sound very intriguing to me.

 
I'll echo a lot of what others have said, in that his druidry works are top knotch and his viewpoint in ceremonial magic colors everything he writes. Make of that what you will.

One book of his that I love, and recommend to others, is his book on polytheism. http://www.amazon.com/World-Full-Gods-Inquiry-Polytheism/dp/0976568101 It's one of the few books I've found that takes a modern practitioner's take on the philosophical argument for polytheism. It's a pretty decent book and in my opinion a fine book for building up one's theology.
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Re: John Michael Greer
« Reply #9 on: April 07, 2015, 10:34:08 pm »
Quote from: SerpentineSorcerer;173795
I'll echo a lot of what others have said, in that his druidry works are top knotch and his viewpoint in ceremonial magic colors everything he writes. Make of that what you will.

One book of his that I love, and recommend to others, is his book on polytheism. http://www.amazon.com/World-Full-Gods-Inquiry-Polytheism/dp/0976568101 It's one of the few books I've found that takes a modern practitioner's take on the philosophical argument for polytheism. It's a pretty decent book and in my opinion a fine book for building up one's theology.
Thanks for everyone's input on this topic! I will definitely take into consideration what everyone has said! I am very much into ceremonial magic and Druidry, so I believe he is right up my alley and should be helpful to read his book.
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Re: John Michael Greer
« Reply #10 on: April 08, 2015, 11:58:46 pm »
Quote from: Naomi J;173785
He's also extremely good on modern revival Druidry. One of the best authors I've read on the subject.

 
I second this idea. Browsing through his book "The Druidry Handbook" on a whim is what sparked my interest in modern Druidry and it's been the path that's resonated and stuck around the longest thus far. He does get into a lot of ceremonial magick in his Druid Magic Handbook, which really isn't my cup of tea, but his treatise on the core principles of Druidic philosophy combined with his pragmatic environmentalist attitude tend to be very useful. Though I think he does get a bit on the high horse occasionally, overall I'd recommend him.

I can't really speak to his non-Druidry related writings, such as his encyclopedias or speculative environmentalist fiction. I've had his polytheism book in my library for a while now but haven't had the time to really dive into it.

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