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Not the Wisdom of the Pharaohs!
on June 19, 2000
Unfortunately this is a terribly pointless book that splices questionable "translations" of arbitrary excerpts from the corpus hermeticum together to make up a whole new series of poems. The relationship between these poems to the original ideas is left unclear, and you must basically rely on the understanding and synthesis of the ideas by the authors. Given any book and one can splice random segments together to say just about anything, and the qualifications of the authors seem unclear at best. What is unfortunately clear is that they mostly want to sell the book to silly new agers, not to anyone who may have a serious interest in the original ideas and their sources, which are an interesting multi-cultural mishmash of late pagan neoplatonism, Christianity and yes, local but very degenerated Egyptian folk ideas. The arguments about the relationship to very ancient Egyptian ideas is totally feeble, and has no basis is fact. What is clear is there are no sources in the actual (and extensive) ancient Egyptian texts that have survived that give any credence to the hypothesis that real corpus hermeticum is some kind of faithful transmission of ancient Egyptian ideas (especially not from the time of the old kingdom) much less this hopelessly re-edited mishmash. If you want to learn about real ancient Egyptian religious ideas about the cosmos there are plenty of translations of the real thing. If you are interested in the origin of hermetic ideas you would be better off buying another book, either a real translation, or any honest book on the subject.
The shallowness of this book is for me summarized by the silly meaningless hieroglyphics that are included along side of the text, presumably to convince somebody that the poems are a kind of translation of the ancient Egyptian (for example, they stop just where the text of the poems stop). Of course the hieroglyphics are just a decoration, with the same meaningless series of signs repeated over and over again. They haven't even tried to reproduce the actual appearance of real hieroglyphics. The whole book smacks of a deliberate manipulation in favor of something that might sell well to shallow new agers. This books should be called not "The Lost Wisdom of the Pharaohs" but "The Wisdom of Freke and Gandy", something which clearly has questionable value. They get no points from me for their poem since they so deliberately obscure the actual sources of their composition (not translation!).