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Author Topic: The Real Middle Earth  (Read 6689 times)

RandallS

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The Real Middle Earth
« on: August 15, 2013, 09:11:14 pm »


Title: The Real Middle Earth
Author(s): Brian Bates
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
Publication Date: October 2004
ISBN: 1403966834
ISBN-13: 978-1403966834
Current Price and More Info from Amazon

[size=+1]Description:[/size]
J.R.R. Tolkien claimed that he based the land of Middle Earth on a real place. The Real Middle Earth brings alive, for the first time, the very real civilization in which those who lived had a vision of life animated by beings beyond the material world. Magic was real to them and they believed their universe was held together by an interlaced web of golden threads visible only to wizards. At its center was Middle Earth, a place peopled by humans, but imbued with spiritual power. It was a real realm that stretched from Old England to Scandinavia and across to western Europe, encompassing Celts, Anglo Saxons and Vikings. Looking first at the rich and varied tribes who made up the populace of this mystical land, Bates looks at how the people lived their daily lives in a world of magic and mystery. Using archaeological, historical, and psychological research, Brian Bates breathes life into this civilization of two thousand years ago in a book that every Tolkien fan will want.

[size=+1]Special Notes:[/size]


[size=-1]Legal Notes: Some description text and item pictures in this post may come from Amazon.com and are used by permission. The Cauldron is an Amazon Affiliate and purchases made through the Amazon links in this message help support The Cauldron.[/size]

[size=+1]Discussion and reviews of this book are welcome in this thread. If you've read the book, please tell us what you think of it and why.[/size]
Randall
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Sage

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Re: The Real Middle Earth
« Reply #1 on: August 15, 2013, 09:13:26 pm »
Quote from: RandallS;119060


 
Just started this myself and about halfway through it. It's better than a lot of intro Pagan books and he's got a pretty universalist approach to his Heathenry, but a few things do rub me the wrong way. More detailed thoughts when I'm done with the book.
Maker, though the darkness comes upon me,
I shall embrace the light. I shall weather the storm.
I shall endure.
What you have created, no one can tear asunder.

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Sage

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Re: The Real Middle Earth
« Reply #2 on: August 15, 2013, 09:20:54 pm »
Quote from: Sage;119062
Just started this myself and about halfway through it. It's better than a lot of intro Pagan books and he's got a pretty universalist approach to his Heathenry, but a few things do rub me the wrong way. More detailed thoughts when I'm done with the book.

 
Whoops, just kidding. This is what I get for reading faster than I process. I'm actually reading Travels Through Middle Earth by Alaric Albertsson. Disregard my previous post. :)
Maker, though the darkness comes upon me,
I shall embrace the light. I shall weather the storm.
I shall endure.
What you have created, no one can tear asunder.

-Canticle of Trials 1:10

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Aiwelin

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Re: The Real Middle Earth
« Reply #3 on: August 17, 2013, 11:47:43 am »
Quote from: Sage;119063
Whoops, just kidding. This is what I get for reading faster than I process. I'm actually reading Travels Through Middle Earth by Alaric Albertsson. Disregard my previous post. :)

 
Haha, I was wondering what you were talking about :).  You should post your thoughts on that book as well though!
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Aiwelin

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Re: The Real Middle Earth
« Reply #4 on: August 17, 2013, 11:55:00 am »
Quote from: RandallS;119060


Title: The Real Middle Earth
Author(s): Brian Bates
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
Publication Date: October 2004
ISBN: 1403966834
ISBN-13: 978-1403966834
Current Price and More Info from Amazon

[size=+1]Description:[/size]
J.R.R. Tolkien claimed that he based the land of Middle Earth on a real place. The Real Middle Earth brings alive, for the first time, the very real civilization in which those who lived had a vision of life animated by beings beyond the material world. Magic was real to them and they believed their universe was held together by an interlaced web of golden threads visible only to wizards. At its center was Middle Earth, a place peopled by humans, but imbued with spiritual power. It was a real realm that stretched from Old England to Scandinavia and across to western Europe, encompassing Celts, Anglo Saxons and Vikings. Looking first at the rich and varied tribes who made up the populace of this mystical land, Bates looks at how the people lived their daily lives in a world of magic and mystery. Using archaeological, historical, and psychological research, Brian Bates breathes life into this civilization of two thousand years ago in a book that every Tolkien fan will want.

[size=+1]Special Notes:[/size]


[size=-1]Legal Notes: Some description text and item pictures in this post may come from Amazon.com and are used by permission. The Cauldron is an Amazon Affiliate and purchases made through the Amazon links in this message help support The Cauldron.[/size]

[size=+1]Discussion and reviews of this book are welcome in this thread. If you've read the book, please tell us what you think of it and why.[/size]

 
I must admit I'm only halfway through at this point; but it's getting difficult for me to plow ahead because I have so many problems with the book.  I don't consider myself an expert on the Anglo-Saxons, or the Norse or Celts (all of whom the author often mentions without making a distinction between them), but I know enough to be put off by what seems to be little respect for factual history.  The author created a very romanticized and lovely version of Anglo-Saxon England from 0 AD to 1000 AD; but it stands out strongly as a creation, and a very fanciful one at that, rather than a historical account of religious or spiritual beliefs.  There is a paragraph where he argues that dragons are an ancestral memory of dinosaurs :hdsk:

There are a few ideas he brings up (creations or historical exaggerations, I don't know) that I may come back to later for possible use in my practice, but largely I have found the volume to not be of any use.  It's possible that there's better information in the second half, and I will try valiantly to finish it up, but at this point I'm pretty frustrated with the content.
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RandallS

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Re: The Real Middle Earth
« Reply #5 on: August 17, 2013, 08:37:22 pm »
Quote from: Aiwelin;119171
 There is a paragraph where he argues that dragons are an ancestral memory of dinosaurs :hdsk:

Did they live peacefully with people like the Creationist say?

This bit of info just convinced me that I really don't need to read this book.
Randall
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dionysiandame

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Re: The Real Middle Earth
« Reply #6 on: August 18, 2013, 10:10:50 am »
Quote from: RandallS;119178
Did they live peacefully with people like the Creationist say?

This bit of info just convinced me that I really don't need to read this book.

 
Maybe he was saying that when ancient people stumbled across fossils of dinosaurs they created stories about dragons? Maybe...we're hoping?
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RandallS

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Re: The Real Middle Earth
« Reply #7 on: August 18, 2013, 06:35:02 pm »
Quote from: dionysiandame;119203
Maybe he was saying that when ancient people stumbled across fossils of dinosaurs they created stories about dragons? Maybe...we're hoping?

Wishing and hoping?
Randall
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Aiwelin

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Re: The Real Middle Earth
« Reply #8 on: August 19, 2013, 06:36:13 pm »
Quote from: dionysiandame;119203
Maybe he was saying that when ancient people stumbled across fossils of dinosaurs they created stories about dragons? Maybe...we're hoping?

 
I went back to look at the passage just in case I missed something.  Nope - not a mention of fossils or bones.  Just the one line - dragons may have been a remnant of an ancestral memory of dinosaurs.  I think I may abandon it now, I've just gotten Hutton's The Pagan Religions of the Ancient British Isles and I'm WAY more interested in reading that.
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Riothamus12

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Re: The Real Middle Earth
« Reply #9 on: August 22, 2013, 05:08:05 pm »
Quote from: Aiwelin;119171
I must admit I'm only halfway through at this point; but it's getting difficult for me to plow ahead because I have so many problems with the book.  I don't consider myself an expert on the Anglo-Saxons, or the Norse or Celts (all of whom the author often mentions without making a distinction between them), but I know enough to be put off by what seems to be little respect for factual history.  The author created a very romanticized and lovely version of Anglo-Saxon England from 0 AD to 1000 AD; but it stands out strongly as a creation, and a very fanciful one at that, rather than a historical account of religious or spiritual beliefs.  There is a paragraph where he argues that dragons are an ancestral memory of dinosaurs :hdsk:

There are a few ideas he brings up (creations or historical exaggerations, I don't know) that I may come back to later for possible use in my practice, but largely I have found the volume to not be of any use.  It's possible that there's better information in the second half, and I will try valiantly to finish it up, but at this point I'm pretty frustrated with the content.

 Is it at least an interesting vision he creates with his work? Because I might end up looking this up as a sort of piece of speculative fiction if that's at least the case.
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Aiwelin

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Re: The Real Middle Earth
« Reply #10 on: August 22, 2013, 06:38:15 pm »
Quote from: Riothamus12;119700
Is it at least an interesting vision he creates with his work? Because I might end up looking this up as a sort of piece of speculative fiction if that's at least the case.

 
I guess it depends on what you mean by interesting :).  His writing is rather nice, I'd enjoy it, as you said, as a work of speculative fiction - but it's not particularly original, just repeating old fallacies about the inherent good of our Pagan ancestors and they loved the land and everything was pretty perfect right up until those nasty Christians came along.
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Riothamus12

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Re: The Real Middle Earth
« Reply #11 on: August 22, 2013, 06:50:43 pm »
Quote from: Aiwelin;119715
I guess it depends on what you mean by interesting :).  His writing is rather nice, I'd enjoy it, as you said, as a work of speculative fiction - but it's not particularly original, just repeating old fallacies about the inherent good of our Pagan ancestors and they loved the land and everything was pretty perfect right up until those nasty Christians came along.

 
In all fairness though, they did have a reverence of nature though some people in the upper rungs of some of those societies chose to disregard such things and they were more progressive than the Christian world in some ways. Though we do have a tendency to overlook the blood sacrifice, the head hunting, the some times deeply sexist social attitudes among certain groups, the general brutality in war, severe ethnocentrism among certain groups, slavery, and other less than pleasant aspects of said societies. So yeah I see what you're saying. :p I don't overlook the problems, I just try to avoid them and stay on the path of wisdom.
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Aster Breo

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The Real Middle Earth
« Reply #12 on: August 22, 2013, 07:55:07 pm »
Quote from: Riothamus12;119717
In all fairness though, they did have a reverence of nature though some people in the upper rungs of some of those societies chose to disregard such things

Not necessarily.  IIRC, there is archeological evidence of environmentally harmful practices, such as clear cutting, strip mining,and various kinds of pollution, in many parts of the world. The primary difference was that there weren't nearly as many or as large instances of those kinds of practices as there are now, simply because there weren't as many people then.  Also, they didn't have access to as many nasty chemicals and efficiently destructive machinery as we do.

I'm not saying there weren't sustainable practices too. Just that we shouldn't assume that the ancients were any better at environmental stewardship than we are.
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Re: The Real Middle Earth
« Reply #13 on: August 22, 2013, 09:36:04 pm »
Quote from: Aster Breo;119724
I'm not saying there weren't sustainable practices too. Just that we shouldn't assume that the ancients were any better at environmental stewardship than we are.

 
The Industrial Age sure as hell didn't drive the wooly mammoths extinct.
Maker, though the darkness comes upon me,
I shall embrace the light. I shall weather the storm.
I shall endure.
What you have created, no one can tear asunder.

-Canticle of Trials 1:10

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Re: The Real Middle Earth
« Reply #14 on: August 22, 2013, 10:50:07 pm »
Quote from: Sage;119730
The Industrial Age sure as hell didn't drive the wooly mammoths extinct.

 
Damn, now I need a new plot for my steampunk novel.
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