Show Notes – Episode 1.3

Visions of Enlightenment: Mysterious Manuscripts, Macchu Picchu, and Machine Guns

For our second Thrift Store Find, Paige chose James Redfield’s The Celestine Prophecy. Served up in our local Goodwill’s New Age section, and with a name like The Celestine Prophecy, you can guess that this pick is going in a similar direction to our first Thrift Store Find. However, contrary to what Jennifer had originally thought, this is, in fact, a work of fiction. Perhaps this is better than a mystical self-help book? Perhaps not? We’ll get to that at the end of the post. Either way, Redfield is simply using a fictional story as a vehicle for plugging his nine step program to achieving enlightenment, although what kind of enlightenment he means is not necessarily the woo-woo mumbo jumbo you may be expecting.

James Redfield, c/o goodreads

Redfield grew up in the Birmingham, Alabama area, and attended school at Auburn University. While in school he studied several eastern schools of thought, such as Taoism, while earning a degree in sociology. He later got a Master’s degree in counseling, which kick-started a fifteen-year long career in counseling. Though working with abused adolescents was undoubtedly a fulfilling career for Redfield, he explains in his personal bio on his website (link below) that he felt increasingly drawn to write about, “interactive psychology, Eastern and Western philosophies, science, futurism, ecology, and history.” He actually published The Celestine Prophecy himself, through Satori Publishing in 1992. By 2005, the book had over twenty million copies sold and was available in thirty-four different languages, a kind of success that most self-publishers can only dream of. This was only the first of many subsequent successful books, wherein Redfield reveals further ‘steps’ in his program. The Celestine Prophecy is described by Redfield as being a parable,

Paige walks listeners through the nine steps as presented within the story about a man (who is never named, although they call him John in the movie adaptation – let’s call him ‘John’ from now on), who embarks on a wild Peruvian adventure after becoming dissatisfied with his life and learning of a mysterious manuscript discovered in Peru, one that points to a path to achieve enlightenment. While the Catholic Church is trying to suppress knowledge of this manuscript emerging, as it rather understandably represents a threat to their own spiritual teachings, some brave souls that ‘John’ meets serendipitously along the way are not going to let an ancient institution or a few gun fights stand in their way. Yes, I said gun fights, as there are a disproportionate number of gun fights in this story, likening it to a Jason Bourne or a James Bond movie. Did anyone else notice that those two have the same initials? Anyway, “John” is helped by various people who reveal subsequent insights necessary for spiritual awakening to him.

This beautiful photo of Macchu Picchu, where ‘John’ has a spiritual experience, is by rhett sorensen on Unsplash

Redfield fluctuates between preaching an ascension gospel and providing advice that you would expect to find in a therapy session, undoubtedly stemming from his background in counseling. Things like releasing emotional or spiritual burdens, marketed in the story as forgetting your past, are common fare in the therapist’s office. Further, Redfield discusses how to recognize toxic people and behaviors at length, though not in so many words. Instead, this is billed as ‘transference,’ and ‘John’ learns there are four different types of behaviors that are designed to gain energy (or attention) from other people: the interrogator, the intimidator, aloof, and the ‘poor me’. This section was perhaps the most practically applicable portion of Redfield’s work as we all know people who match these behaviors, or perhaps even recognize these behaviors in ourselves from time to time. It is part of being an emotionally well-adjusted being to learn how to avoid these detrimental habits, and if necessary, cut out people in our life who embody them.

It seems that while the story itself, and definitely the movie by all accounts, comes across as kooky, some of the basic ideas within it are much more relevant to your daily life than you might expect. We are almost 100% certain that Redfield does not actually believe that we are going to turn into beams of light like some sort of apocalyptic Rapture – he says as much in his bio. Rather, The Celestine Prophecy can be taken as an exaggerated how-to guide to achieving greater mental clarity and peace. Perhaps Redfield felt that a fictional tale would be more palatable to the average reader than an esoteric nonfiction text. However, for us, placing his ideas in this context makes them more difficult to take seriously. Clearly though, his books’ incredible popularity indicates that they speak to a lot of people, including the former owner of Paige’s copy, who wrote extensively in the margins of certain chapters. While Paige is definitely not recommending The Celestine Prophecy to anyone any time soon, this doesn’t necessarily mean it won’t add value to your life.

We foresee these links being useful:

  • Here’s the IMDB page on the movie adaptation of The Celestine Prophecy. Apparently it is available to watch if you have Amazon Prime! But with a rating of 23 from Metacritic, be warned…
  • Stargate SG-1, Atlantis, and Universe (the whole current Stargate saga) is now available on Hulu and through Amazon Prime. If you have either of these subscription services and you haven’t checked out Stargate yet, what is your excuse really?
  • There are literal tons of fun links to learn more about Stargate, but here are a few: Gate World is a complete guide to the Stargate universe and also has a page for the upcoming and mysterious Stargate Origins spin-off, the Stargate Wiki is – as you can imagine – the place to be for any scrap of Stargate info you might have a question about, and finally don’t miss the new Stargate Command YouTube channel where you can catch cast interviews, classic clips, original YouTube shows, and much more! Really, Jennifer could talk about Stargate all day, so if you want, you can hit us up on social media or comment below.
  • Check out Celestine Vision to see other books Redfield has published, of which there are many, and upcoming Redfield events.
  • Redfield also provides an in-depth bio on the above website, which is pretty revealing.

Tune in next Monday for Episode 1.4. Follow us on social media if that is your thing, and be sure to check out our Patreon for extra BBE content!

Show Notes – Episode 1.1

Big Book Energy on Ancient Astronauts

Our first episode is on Zecharia Sitchin’s The Lost Realms. This is the fourth installment of his series, The Earth Chronicles, which documents extraterrestrial activity in early human civilization. This was also the first book chosen for our Thrift Store Find theme, courtesy of our local Goodwill. Jennifer chose this book because as someone with historical training and an interest in ancient civilizations and archaeology, she has always been simultaneously fascinated and infuriated by ancient astronaut theories, a la History Channel’s Ancient Aliens. When she spotted it nestled in the New Age section shelves, she knew it was meant to be. But did it fulfill her expectations?

Sitchin was born in Azerbaijan, then the Soviet Union, in 1920. While receiving a formal education from the London School of Business, Sitchin was assiduous in developing his side hobby of archaeological study and translation of ancient Sumerian texts. Lack of formal education in related disciplines notwithstanding, Sitchin developed an equally outlandish and intricate theory about the source of ancient civilization. It was, in fact, quite out of this world (I’m sorry). Inserting himself within the already prolific arena of ancient astronaut theorists, Sitchin argued that an alien race living on a dying Planet X came to earth to mine critical precious metals that would mean their salvation. These aliens, dubbed the Annunaki, after tiring of mining themselves, mixed their genetic material with other early hominids to create homo sapiens who would act as servant and partner in these endeavors.

As we discuss in this week’s episode, Sitchin’s book extends this theory into the New World, linking the Olmec, Aztec, Maya, and Incan civilizations back to an apparently older and dominant Sumerian one. Using mythology, linguistics, archaeology, and a smattering of other fields [inaccurately], Sitchin pieces together what he argues is convincing evidence for this theory. Spanning from Teotihuacan to Macchu Picchu, Sitchin systematically strips away all agency and potentiality of the Americas’ earliest residents. In truly astounding intellectual leaps, supported by mere suggestion, Sitchin tramples through the mythology and culture of native peoples in a way that should cause discomfort. During the podcast, Paige and Jennifer cover some of the finer points of Sitchin’s theories, the subtle (or not so subtle) racism that is threaded throughout the book, issues of amateurism in the historical field, and distrust of the academic mainstream. Below are a list of [admittedly many Wikipedia] relevant links for this episode and, of course if you are interested, please check out our Listen page or find us on your favorite podcast provider!

The pyramids at Giza, built at the coveted ~52 degree angle that Sitchin discusses in Lost Realms. Current scholarship agrees that the Pharaoh Khufu began construction on the Great Pyramid in 2580 BCE.

Photo courtesy of Martin Widenka.

The Bent Pyramid, constructed by Pharaoh Sneferu in 2600 BCE. You can see from the sides that the angle of ascent changes roughly halfway through construction – from 54 to 43 degrees.

Photo courtesy of Nacho Díaz Latorre.

An aerial shot of the temple complex at Teotihuacan, north of modern day Mexico City. This shot shows the avenue leading to the Temple of the Moon, which is quite distinct from the Egyptian pyramids with stepped sides more reminiscent of Mesopotamian ziggurats.

Photo courtesy of Ricardo David Sánchez on Wikipedia.

An example of the Olmec statue heads from the episode. These basalt statues are huge and really cool and they do not represent people of African descent as Sitchin adamantly argues in Lost Realms.

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

Lastly, a list of Sitchin or ancient astronaut related sites:

Tune in next Monday for Episode 1.2. Follow us on social media if that is your thing, and be sure to check out our Patreon for extra BBE content!

January Sneak Peek

Welcome to Big Book Energy! A bookish podcast by book lovers for book lovers. As January, and the new decade (!) unfold, please stop by to check out new content. Also, follow us on the socials below, if that’s your thing. Here’s what’s coming on BBE this month:

Our inaugural episode will be our first Thrift Store Find pick: Zecharia Sitchin, The Lost Realms. The fourth installment in his Earth Chronicles series, Sitchin continues his ancient astronaut theories into the New World.

Next up comes Albert Camus’ classic, The Stranger. An absurdist piece of literature, Jennifer chose this as a Book We Hate, but will Paige agree?

Continuing with our New Age-y vibe, the second Thrift Store Find pick is James Redfield’s The Celestine Prophecy. Stay tuned to see if Paige and Jennifer will use the nine insights to ascend to higher plane of being.

Our first bonus episode will be a deep dive in the J.R.R. Tolkien classic, The Hobbit. Bonus episodes will be available in part to all listeners, and available in full to Patreon subscribers.

And that is a wrap for January 2020. Make sure to find us on Instagram and Twitter for behind-the-scenes content, updates on BBE news, and more. Cheers to the new year!