Off the Shelf

“Gnosis: The Secret of Solomon’s Temple Revealed”

By Marcus Pan

GnosisBefore I step into this review hardcore, I need to give some thanks to Alan Merredith, a poster on my blog who had shared some thoughts with me when he read my foreshadowing of the fact that the review of this book was not going to be overly favorable. Through a two-pronged discussion with him, I actually wrote a lot of what I planned to say when I write this column so I’ll be reusing some of it here. I appreciate his having made my review of Philip Gardiner’s Gnosis easier by doing that.

First off, Philip Gardiner had a few books previous – The Serpent Grail being one he gets favorable mentioned for. His writings are attempts to explain esoteric age-old knowledge, and while there are some decent points made throughout Gnosis: The Secret of Solomon’s Temple Revealed his treatment and modus operandi is to mish-mash all the cultural beliefs of the entire history of the world by using flawed reasoning and silly arguments similar to what one would do with, say, re-interpreting Nostradamus[1] or other Gnostic writers of that ilk.

Let’s start from my first annoyance – the editing was horrible. There is a complete lack of special characters in the final revision so that every time there's supposed to be a "-" dash there's a blank, so it reads and flows horribly. I find that annoying. But getting passed that…

Gardiner will break historical names apart and reassemble them, using the syllables to say “Oh look if you take the name Solomon apart by syllables you have Sol and sol is a word for sun so he was a sun god!” and what-not. The basis of his book is that the serpent or snake imagery of historical folk lore and deity construct is cross-platform – that is it means the same thing everywhere you go in time, space, culture and history. That is that the snake is the “guardian of esoteric knowledge.” In some cases, yes, it was – the naga for example. But that doesn’t mean that everywhere in ancient philosophy, architecture and culture you see a snake it meant the same thing. Here I will borrow portions of my conversation with Alan.

There are reasons why snakes appear in most mythologies in different parts of the world and it's not because they all "say the same thing," as he suggests. It's simply because snakes have been found in most different parts of the world. That simple. If his case were to be true, that there is a relation between ALL factions of religious belief, we'd see the references in areas without the animal. Polar north, for example. And there simply isn't. Additionally, his attempt to associate almost ANY straight/staff like object to be "the snake from other religions" is silly at best. He's pulling at straws.

Alan’s response to the above in my blog was typical: “And snakes around the world – because they are there? I don't agree with that, because there's ants all over the world and they are not worshipped everywhere - especially not in the same "creative" way.” Well I couldn’t resist. I took his ant example and ran off bellowing into the void of stream of conscious writing – which is what I believe created this book. Here’s what I ended up with in about two minutes of typing:

“For example, ants are represented in mythology. In Greece, Zeus grew the ants of the isle of Aeacus from ants to men so that Aecus would have somebody to rule. The more common ants are within the genus of Hymenoptera, which derives us the word "hymen" today, which is the membrane that separates a woman's womb, in some religions considered the most Holy place, and therefore shows us that ants have a male/female aspect duality as well. In the Bible, Proverbs vi. 6--8; and xxx. 25, God said "Go to the ant, thou sluggard, ... which provideth her meat in the summer," with the idea that mankind should learn the ancient knowledge of hoarding from these creatures, a wisdom they have taught for millennia. In Latin America the red ant, most common to the area, was a guardian of knowledge for god Quetzalcoatl.”

After weaving along this “snakes everywhere meant this one thing” Theory of Everything for a while, we are told as the meat of the book that the Temple of Solomon wasn’t a physical structure. It was, in fact, an analogy of the divine man – the building of oneself to godlike status and becoming one with the Universe, so to speak. I’m down with that. He goes running off with it to Matrix-level movie dynamics, but I dig the idea that the Temple was a story written to teach something via analogy. That is used all the time.

The temple story was developed as a guide to build the perfect human. I could go on and on about chaos theory and all that here, but that’s all it is mixed in with some historical bible quotes and myth tales. If I wasn’t so annoyed by the bad editing, high school writing, repetitive nature and silly attempt at associating everything with this “one truth” I might have liked the idea more. Indeed as a Gnostic and atheist myself I certainly find common ground.

But what bugs me is I didn’t need to read this pedantic stream of consciousness thing to get there. And the way he went from re-explaining the serpent idea (and certainly, the snake as a guardian of knowledge is prevalent in some mythologies) to somehow wiggling up to the Solomon thing and then combining a bit of string theory and throwing some common numbers around was boorish at best and teenagerish in that Necronomicon[2] believing sort of way.

I’m going to be told I’m “missing something,” indeed already have been. But that’s ok, there were a whole lot of mish-mashy things to miss here. I’m ok with missing most of it. Edited properly Gnosis: The Secret of the Temple of Solomon Revealed should read as follows: “The temple of Solomon is an analogy. I h@x0r & pwn ]<aos.”

“Gnosis: The Secret of Solomon’s Temple Revealed” by Philip Gardiner
Copyright © 2006 by Philip Gardiner
Photographs by Philip Gardiner
ISBN: 1 904126 04 9
Contact Information:
Radikal Books
Post: Willow Court, Cordy Lane, Underwood, Nottinghamshire, NG16 5FD, England
Phone: (0) 1773 764288
Fax: (0) 1773 764282
[1] The idea of comparing this to a Nostradamus interpretation comes about from my review of Ovason’s The Secrets of Nostradamus, who used similar reaching-for-straws techniques to form relationships during his interpretations. This book was reviewed in Legends #142.
[2] Indeed, the Necronomicon itself was referenced as a source text! I couldn’t find the footnote number in the paragraph that it applies to, but it says on Page 112 at end of Chapter 6 – "Other Religious Texts and Guides", footnote 7: "Necronomicon, Simon, 1995." Maybe this was a joke? Pray it’s so…

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