Book Review, OUCH: The Theban Oracle

August 24, 2014 by  
Filed under books, reviews

Book Review, OUCH: The Theban Oracle

The Theban Oracle
By Greg Jenkins, Ph.D.
Weiser Books, May 1, 2014
ISBN 978-1578635498
256 pages
Reviewer: Patrick Dunn
No starNo starNo starNo starNo star
 

This book is set on an intriguing foundation: take the symbols of the Theban alphabet, assign each to a famous occult figure, and use them for divination. This idea is so rich and interesting, it’s easy to imagine productively pondering the biography of some famous occultist, and trying to weave his or her life into your own in a relevant and meaningful way.

I wish I could say The Theban Oracle lives up to that very rich premise. But it just doesn’t. Worse, it pollutes the whole concept.

Greg Jenkins has plagiarized portions of The Theban Oracle. For example, in the entry on Paracelsus, we read

“At the age of sixteen, Paracelsus began his formal education at the university of Basel, where he studied alchemy, surgery, and medicine. . . . By adulthood, he had become known as the precursor of modern chemical pharmacology and therapeutics, and as the most original medical thinker of the century.” (134)

Alchemylab.com’s page on Paracelsus has this to say: “At the age of sixteen, Paracelsus entered the University at Basle [sic] where he applied himself to the study of alchemy, surgery, and medicine” and “Manly Hall called him ‘the precursor of chemical pharmacology and therapeutics and the most original medical thinker of the sixteenth century.'”

If you have a Ph.D., and if you choose to advertise that fact on the cover of your book, and if you make a statement in the introduction about being “engaged in the task of scholarly research” (XI), then you do not get to copy people’s exact words and claim them as your own, whether those words come from the internet or a published book. And changing a few words around does not make it your own words. College sophomores know this. High-school freshmen know this, for goodness’s sake!

Sometimes the plagiarism is a little better disguised, such as here:

“By the late 16th century, when the plague gripped London Simon Forman remained to help the sick, while the doctors who condemned him fled for personal safety. This act of bravery, along with saving many lives, including his own as a result of his alternative medicines, would forever place his image in the light of god, in spite of the many insults he endured from his detractors” (116)

Compare with the Mysterious Britain website:

“When the plague gripped London in 1592 and 1594, Dr. Forman remained in the city whilst a great many members of the medical profession left. This act of courage (although other circumstances may have been behind his stay) aided his reputation, and during those days he saved many lives, including his own; After contracting the plague, Dr. Forman cured himself with his own medicinal waters, quite a feat and one that raised his profile in the eyes of the London people.”

That’s more subtle, certainly, but the ideas come in a particular order, and even the sentence-structure is similar. Rearranging the words of a sentence is not a valid paraphrase, and taking other people’s ideas without citation is, indeed, plagiarism.

Other times, it’s clear that the author has used the thesaurus to disguise the plagiarism, but of course as many a student learns, this is not the same as having your own thought, and can sometimes lead to some ridiculous prose:
From Alchemy Lab, again:

“This high-handed behavior, coupled with his very original ideas, made him countless enemies. The fact that the cures he performed with his mineral medicines justified his teachings merely served further to antagonize the medical faculty, infuriated at their authority and prestige being undermined by the teachings of such a “heretic” and “usurper.””

and from The Theban Oracle:

“By denouncing the revered works of Galen and the standard practice of medicine as a whole, as well as the teachings of his own university, he become [sic] so unalterable in nature that school officials and other authorities would come to consider him a heretic and a despot” (134).

“Despot” and “usurper” are, of course, synonyms — but that doesn’t mean they mean the same thing. Paracelsus might indeed have been seen has trying to usurp Galen’s place. I doubt anyone mistook him for an absolute ruler, which is what a despot is. It’s also likely that “unalterable” is a thesaurus substitution for the word “intractable,” which actually would make sense there. I suspect there are other sources, probably print sources, that I have not found.

When the author is writing his own prose, it is often turgid, sometimes bizarre. Take this example from early in the book: “In what appears to be a simple cipherlike code, and having no bearing in any known language, nor able to form the necessary elements to create verbiage as we might understand it, the alphabet has no other purpose other than to code common words” (21). I read that four times (five, as I copied it here), and I still have no idea what it might mean. A “cipherlike code” — well, a cipher is a kind of code, so does that just mean “cipher”? How does something have “no bearing in . . . “? Don’t things usually have a bearing on, rather than a bearing in, and moreover, what does that mean? Does that mean we can’t link it to a known language? But of course we can! It’s clearly meant to write Latin; it is essentially the Latin alphabet (with one highly impractical and unlikely punctuation mark). It certainly has the “necessary elements” to “create verbiage as we might understand it,” but I’m not sure that this author does.

This example of prose is representative of the whole. It’s not that the style isn’t very good — it’s not, being far too adjective-heavy, but I give that a pass. It’s that the style is nearly opaque to meaning. Words take on meanings they never have had before, and are put together in sentences that defy the laws of syntax. But I’d give all that a pass, with the exception of the plagiarism, which is unforgivable.

The real question is, how does it work? And the answer is — not terribly well. The biographical descriptions are oddly brief and lack detail: we’re told pretty much everyone was loved and honored, until murdered by someone or other, in a rather cavalier fashion, and then some pieties about how wonderful they were, unless they weren’t. There’s a general narrative thread of a liberal, proto-New-Age, gentle soul being savaged by poor, ignorant, usually Christian, fools. Historical facts are glossed over. It matters why the church killed Giordano Bruno, and it had little to do with his magical work. Sometimes minor facts are also changed. I always thought it was a snowstorm, not a thunderstorm, that sent Trithemius back to the monastery. If, of course, the author had cited his sources, I could perhaps find out that my memory is faulty. Similarly, the author makes it sound as if Pietro De Abano was forced to deny the existence of spirits by the inquisition, when of course he was actually charged with heresy for denying the existence of spirits and angels, which according to standard Catholic doctrine at the time, existed.

Every figure’s life is reduced to a few ideas or concepts, a kind of reductionism that might be a bit simplistic. Hypatia is, for example, “The Sovereign Female Spirit, Inward Wisdom, Search for Enlightenment.” The first one is obvious: she’s one of only three women in the whole alphabet. One other, Joan of Arc, is apparently “The Journey Ahead, Change, a New Development.” The third is Bethany (Bethany who? A citation would be more than handy here, since Googling reveals nothing). But why is Hypatia “Inward Wisdom”? Why not “Math”? And who in this list, with the possible exception of some of the frauds (whose fraudulent behavior is often glossed over), isn’t seeking Enlightenment of some kind? Moreover, why isn’t Joan of Arc something like “purpose” or “divine mission” or “absolutely insane”?

The author admits that there are just far too many “luminaries” to include, which is fair. But those sensitive to diversity at all will be disappointed by the inclusion of only three women and few people of color. This dead-white-man list might be due, in large part, to the time-period he has selected from which to draw the names of important figures; but since this time period stretches back to Hypatia, perhaps there could be room for one or two other important women, here or there. There’s also no clear rhyme or reason why certain figures are assigned to certain letters.

These last points — the lack of diversity, the inadequate biographies, the lack of citations, the impenetrable prose — are quibbles in the face of the plagiarism. It is possible for an author to be confused, to forget that a set of notes were copied verbatim rather than original, or just lose track of citations between drafts. This kind of carelessness is forgivable. However, when an author puts Ph.D. after his or her name, it’s a promise of a certain kind of intellectual training and carefulness. Even a Ph.D. may make an accidental slip. But a Ph.D. should know that you cannot use another author’s unique words or ideas without quotation marks and a citation, and you cannot use another author’s ideas without indicating their origin. Basic integrity demands that you do not make use of the work of another without giving them credit. Writing is hard work, and the products of that work deserve respect.

Zero stars.

Review ©2014 by Patrick Dunn

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Comments

10 Responses to “Book Review, OUCH: The Theban Oracle”

  1. In regards to the Theban Oracle

    This is an interesting review; though I’m not sure I can agree with Mr. Dunn’s over-zealous candor and straight-forward meanness. I can, however, understand how a learned professor can acquire the ivory tower mentality, especially when his or her students flower over them. It happens, especially in liberal colleges across the land, and most notably in the United States. I feel it’s the sheer meanness that intrigued me, and still cannot understand why a culture would choose to be so nasty to one and others.

    The more reviews I read, the more I get the feeling that it’s the self-attained glamor that gets the most attention today, like that of the many so-called reality television programs that plague your entertainment. It’s the sheer cruelty that captures your attention. And to be sure, it is not only the television programs, but certainly in your literary reviews. Critique is without question the foundation of the arts, and so it should be. Artists certainly need outside opinions, as they tend to help that artist find a spot from where to reflect. This is well and fine, though when that person uses such an opportunity simply to be mean, the critique becomes a simple rant against his or her subject, and nullifies the purpose all together. What concerns me more is that this appears to be the mainstay of American policy regarding critical reviews of the arts, sciences and other disciplines. Not to be on the case of America alone, but having lived in South America, Puerto Rico and in Europe since an early age, I can only relate that this kind of behavior is not tolerated, especially by collegians. We tend to regard this as bad form.

    I am not a magician or occultist as those who read from this website, though was given this book by a friend who is. She thought it was a great book, but then, who is not a person like those who read from this website. I found your website when looking for information about the subject matter (Theban), as well as the author’s information. I was amazed to find that nearly all reviews were much like this one; and practically no positive critique found, except from the Amazon website; the later, no doubt due to reasons of selling the book. As for this review’s topic of focus, that of plagiarism, I can see the problem, though only from one perspective, and one that only made sense to me after I referred directly to the publisher, which is Red Wheel Weiser Books. I spoke directly to a Mrs. Guetebier, and editors with the publishing company and found some interesting information about this problem, and more.

    Firstly, this company stated that there were more than one versions of the manuscript, where the one chosen was much less than the other for reasons of publishing the book along with a set of mystical stones with letters etched on them. The stone idea was let go that the last moment and what you see is what you get.

    Secondly, the topic of plagiarism was not considered only because certain words were used in the stead, and that sentence structure was different. It is also important to note that the book company does not publish textbooks. After probing more on this, I was informed that a book full of footnotes and scholarly quotations, such as found in APA, MLA, Chicago et al, might be too confounding to their readers, which are not always scholars or professionals in the area of expertise.

    Recap:

    “At the age of sixteen, Paracelsus began his formal education at the university of Basel, where he studied alchemy, surgery, and medicine. . . . By adulthood, he had become known as the precursor of modern chemical pharmacology and therapeutics, and as the most original medical thinker of the century.” (134)

    [Alchemylab.com’s] page on Paracelsus has this to say: “At the age of sixteen, Paracelsus entered the University at Basle [sic] where he applied himself to the study of alchemy, surgery, and medicine” and “Manly Hall called him ‘the precursor of chemical pharmacology and therapeutics and the most original medical thinker of the sixteenth century.’”

    I think that although there is a similarity in sentence structure, we can all be critical, though from what I see from the Theban Oracle, Mr. Jenkins chose to follow suit in a common demeanor. By this I will refer to a simply sentence that Mr. Dunn choose to exemplify: “At the age of sixteen, Paracelsus entered the University at Basle [sic] where he applied himself to the study of alchemy, surgery, and medicine” and…”

    Below are [9] links to references of this exact same sentence, without the type of in-verse quoting Mr. Dunn was speaking of. As you will find, from the earliest examples (1923-1965) to the more recent, this sentence example is profoundly similar. Please note, I found close to 68 of such references before I got tired of looking. In short, I think Mr. Jenkins was just paraphrasing related and common documentation for the sake of getting his point across. When I asked Mrs. Guetebier and others at the Red Wheel Weiser company about this fact, they noted that the Theban book was not meant to be an exhaustive resource of magical figures from history, rather to give a simple, and more importantly (short) example in order to get to the subject matter across, or as a brief introduction. Also, that resource material was offered in the back sections, which I found in order.
    Whether or not Mr. Jenkins will talk with me about this is unknown, but I will try to write him through the publishers. For now, here are those links for your inquiry:

    Dated from a 1965 treatise: http://www.teosofia.com/Mumbai/7207movement.html
    New World Encyclopedia: http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Paracelsus
    University of Penn. http://knarf.english.upenn.edu/People/paracels.html
    From the book: The life of Paracelsus, Theophrastus von Hohenheim, 1493-1541 by Anna M. Stoddart (1923): http://www.amazon.com/The-Life-Paracelsus-Theophrastus-Hohenheim-ebook/dp/B009OLV00A
    The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Alchemy By Dennis Hauck:http://books.google.com/books?id=x9PCBsiP4oIC&pg=PA246&lpg=PA246&dq=At+the+age+of+sixteen,+Paracelsus+entered+the+University+at+Basel&source=bl&ots=UAaRzXoGvP&sig=3IHIysvkFPVtJACg2ZRJ_f-pZic&hl=en&sa=X&ei=B0kNVJfdKba1sQT8w4GoDw&ved=0CC8Q6AEwAjgU#v=onepage&q=At%20the%20age%20of%20sixteen%2C%20Paracelsus%20entered%20the%20University%20at%20Basel&f=false
    http://cdict.net/q/Paracelsus
    http://www.cosmovisions.com/Williams020701.htm
    http://www.refdictionary.com/d/p/a/r/a/paracelsus.html
    http://www.lindakayeastrology.com/documents/MedievalAlchemyMedicineAstrologyandParacelsustheGreat.pdf
    The Encyclopaedia Britannica: A Dictionary of Arts, Sciences, Literature:
    http://books.google.com/books?id=yyTKrDK2c0sC&pg=PA749&lpg=PA749&dq=At+the+age+of+sixteen,+Paracelsus+entered+the+University+at+Basel&source=bl&ots=YqhmVyNOUd&sig=1AozDO19KQL-9AkpP2MoIvm5yII&hl=en&sa=X&ei=4UYNVIOTD8XCsATjx4GADg&ved=0CFAQ6AEwCQ#v=onepage&q=At%20the%20age%20of%20sixteen%2C%20Paracelsus%20entered%20the%20University%20at%20Basel&f=false

    Thirdly, and most notably, in my understanding is the simple fact that the reviewer of this “critique” is also the author of several such books published solely by the competitor Red Wheel Weiser Books, which is Llewellyn Books. Mr. Dunn’s books are:

    Cartomancy with the Lenormand and the Tarot: Create Meaning & Gain Insight from the Cards (Jul 8, 2013)

    Magic, Power, Language, Symbol: A Magician’s Exploration of Linguistics (Aug 8, 2008)

    Postmodern Magic: The Art of Magic in the Information Age (Jun 8, 2005)

    When we examine the common need to boast and support our own philosophies, and or principles, it becomes painfully clear that, in this case, a negative review should be expected. That is not to say such should be done. There is a matter of etiquette that Mr. Dunn is lacking, in spite of his place in the college system and his apparent place within such communities as this one. For instance, I read statements like:

    “If you have a Ph.D., and if you choose to advertise that fact on the cover of your book, and if you make a statement in the introduction about being “engaged in the task of scholarly research” (XI), then you do not get to copy people’s exact words and claim them as your own, whether those words come from the internet or a published book. And changing a few words around does not make it your own words. College sophomores know this. High-school freshmen know this, for goodness’s sake!”

    And

    “When an author puts Ph.D. after his or her name, it’s a promise of a certain kind of intellectual training and carefulness. Even a Ph.D. may make an accidental slip. But a Ph.D. should know that you cannot use another author’s unique words or ideas without quotation marks and a citation, and you cannot use another author’s ideas without indicating their origin. Basic integrity demands that you do not make use of the work of another without giving them credit. Writing is hard work, and the products of that work deserve respect.”

    These statements are not necessary, and should be viewed as an attack rather than a personal opinion. Getting that personal is like the American way of politics and voting, where every grain of nastiness comes out in order to demean and defeat the opponent. I am sure the author will not take such comments too seriously, especially considering the source and the reason that you just read here. However, I think I understand why we do such things as attack those we do not know personally, or in this case, a review with what appears to be a hidden agenda. I do also think that if you went to McDonalds fast food restaurant and asked what they think about the hamburgers being served at Burger King, we might expect what the answer would be: “Don’t eat at Burger King!”

    In ending, I would ask the gentle readers of this book, should they venture forth and read it against the advice and intention of the reviewers here, to keep this advice in your mind: Be your own judge, without the help or commands of others. You are your own person, and not those who feel they are above you.

    As for the way Americans, and many other Western cultures’s critique, I feel Valerie Stivers-Isakova of the Huffington Post explains this best.

    According to Ms. Stivers-Isakova:

    “I’ve been thinking a lot lately about being mean in book reviews, or rather, how to strike a balance between honest and being fair, and if meaningful critique is worth doing in a small book-reviewing world where the de facto style seems to be politeness, encouragement and praise. And then, this ranty rant in Book-Riot, anti the New York Times, inspired me to formulate some rules…”

    1. Do write a brilliant, opinionated takedown of a major literary figure. Everyone will read it, talk about it and give you lots of attention, bad or good. Which, let’s face it, if you are a book reviewer, is an unfamiliar sensation.
    2. But, make sure the figure you critique isn’t someone likely to cause you any harm. Old Canadian ladies, popular authors, authors not in New York, authors so famous and remote that it really won’t matter. Dead authors. All good choices.
    3. In all other cases, write something positive, even if doing so requires sophisticated acrobatics. It’s a small literary world, and either you may know the author you’re reviewing, or definitely you have friends who know them, or you may need them for career advancement later.
    4. Try to congratulate yourself on your acrobatics. Saying something good about a terrible book takes some doing.
    5. Be aware that if you are writing for a major mainstream publication, you will get pushback on any note of critique, even in an otherwise glowing review. This can be from your editor, or from the book’s author, publisher, publicist, friends, etc., on Twitter, on Facebook, in person. The editor version is particularly insidious, because editors tend to say “If you didn’t like this, let’s not run it,” on the valid-ish grounds that the readers want recommendations. In that case, you read a bad book, wasted your time, got a fraction of your fee, and had an aura of failure hang about the venture, not likely to lead to more assignments.
    6. Admit to yourself that all this pressure is quelling. I have written decent-ish reviews of books I thought sucked. I have written nice things with no critical notes about friends’ books. I have elected to not review bad books by distant acquaintances. And every time I do criticize a book, I imagine its author’s child denying my child a job someday, when I am dead, and the world is 200 degrees, and a spot in the air-conditioning in a corporate tower of the future is a matter of life or death.
    7. Wonder why you — ok, this list is about me — why I am doing this, anyway. I started writing about books, despite the low pay and small audiences, because I love to read, and I love books, and I wanted to speak eloquently about them. If I’m not being honest in a book review on my personal blog, what, dear god, is the point?
    8. Read this Tweedledum and Tweedledee debate about book reviewers. Are they in decline? Do we even need book reviewers, when we have Amazon and our friends to recommend books? Can anyone make money at this these days? — besides writer Peter Damien of Book Riot, whose myriad well-paying alternative press editors, unicorns all, with long silky manes, if they’re reading this, please call me!
    9. Remember that in our fairly bleak and corrupt world, literature and the arts are one of our few forms of enlightenment, transcendence and salvation. Great books matter, and intelligent debate about them matters. A problem with the culture of toothless commentary is that people seem to forget there’s a difference between saying something well and having something to say. What does a book mean? What is its message? Does it display any moral depth? The author can talk, but are they worth listening to? I find that’s the question I most often have to steer away from, if I want to be diplomatic.
    There are books that save lives, books that change lives, books that crack your head open and pour in a new substance and you walk around with your brain sloshing for weeks. There are books you’ll never forget. There is a difference between these books and most others, and that difference is worth articulating.
    10. Have integrity. Write the truest thing you can about what you read, in the most generous way possible. I do not always succeed, but I do try.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/valerie-stiversisakova/10-rules-of-writing-a-bad_b_4572229.html

    Although I have not yet interviewed this author of the Theban Oracle, I have found one exemplification of his book in his own words at the World News Network website:

    Brought to you by Red Wheel Weiser publications.

    1. What was your prime motivation and inspiration for creating your new book, “The Theban Oracle Discovering The Magic Of The Ancient Alphabet That Changes Lives”?
    My primary motivation was simply a love for all things of a mysterious nature, specifically arcane wisdom from the ancient mystery schools. Medieval Metaphysics has always fascinated me, especially the secret orders that had risen out of the madness of the church, which had killed at least 80, 000 people during the Burning Times, and their need to encode and hide the works from being destroyed. Secondly, though my book states ‘oracle,’ it should be understood that it’s not meant as a literal oracle that will predict the future or resolve issues by way of magick…No, this refers to the magick that already exists within each of us, and the power to resolve our own problems and to answer our own questions by way of reason. The Theban Oracle is represented by notable sage and magi through the ages, both by their wisdom and by their downfalls. Finally, because I have always enjoyed these types of ‘games,’ such as the popular Rune Stone kits and such, I wanted to add to the body of literature with something unique, yet simple to grasp for everyone. Overall, it’s meant to be a tool for self-inspection, self-reflection and self-repair-where-need-be.
    The ‘spell casting’ section follows this original statement; where again we create our magick no matter how we represent it. Instead of literal Harry Potter-like examples of what spell work is, I refer to it from the foundation of Sir James Frazer, the English anthropologist and author of the great book: The Golden Bough, who explains how sympathy, homeopathic and contact/contagious aspects of the human condition can cause change and affect outcome by way of the ritual and similar odes to gods and goddesses, and what have you. Again, we create the magick, the blessings and curses and such by our belief…In this manner; we can heal or kill with such understandings.
    2. How would you recommend getting a set of stones? Do you have to make them yourself?
    You can buy these stone made in various minerals online, but I would suggest making them yourself. It’s far easier than you think, and can be done as simple as painting the symbols on small stones or purchasing an engraving tool and simply etch them on. Or, you can purchase all natural clay and make them that way, then glaze if you wish and have them fired in a kiln much like the market stones are. This way is good too, so long as the material is non-synthetic. I have always believed that what comes from the earth is best, as plastics and plastic-coated papers simply do not connect betwixt the human spirit and the spirit of Gaia naturally. Moreover, using wood shards, bones and sea shells all work well, so long as they are all around the same size. Remember, we are of the earth, so having such tools that are of the earth will always be preferred.
    3. Could you share some history with us regarding The Theban Oracle from the perspective of other cultures they have been used in?
    A great question and one that has baffled scholars for centuries. Culturally, the majesty and wonder of the Theban enigma and its significance to the realms of ancient magick has found its place primarily in Western societies, though not directly. That is to say that to my knowledge I am the first to adhere the Theban script to a divination game/self-help/oracle system…At least having published such a system. Gerald Gardner is said to have been fascinated with the artistic script, as well as Francis Barrett before him. Yet, as far as other cultures, some scholars suspect that the Theban script may have its origins in the Middle East, bastardized from certain groups there, though no proof can be found. Nonetheless, it continues to be of great inspiration for modern scholars. Past the initial formulation and construction of this codex and oracle system devised centuries ago, right on through its modern applications, I found an incredible ease associated in recognizing and indeed, comprehending its seemingly mystical placement beyond the typical understanding since its origin.

    Whether engaged in the task of scholarly research, or while in the practice and testing of this codex system as a tool for oracle-like practices, I discovered a systematic and remarkable flow of wisdom appearing to me in an auspicious comportment. Indeed, I have no doubt that the beholder of this system, whether used as a game with friends and family, or as an oracle that has survived the centuries, you will also find a singular magick, which emanates from this unique means of divination, serving you well throughout the years to come. Although at first glance the contents of this book may appear to be highly intense in comprehension, requiring many skills within the area of both low and high magick, it is designed specifically for those who possess both an average understanding of the magi arts, and those who already embrace a higher awareness in such preternatural realms. In either case, I am sure you will find a particular feeling of enlightenment and a sense of the sacred within the worlds of medieval metaphysics and the Theban oracle, both as a game of wisdom and as a method for personal transformation.

    I feel it important to explain that this oracle’s primary functions are to aid the user in the gentle art of living through one’s own spiritual intuitions. As you hold these stones, or other articles that bare the mysterious icons of this alphabet system, such will absorb, assess and spiritually relate what is already within you. Your spirit and the incredibly intense and interlaced patterns of your psyche shall pass on to these stones. In essence, they will convey your personal and scared vibrations via a form of psychic-osmosis. The answers you receive, though seemingly esoteric at times, shall resonate that which is already within you…for you are the one holding the force of the universe in your hands.

    The process of the Theban oracle was designed to enhance the deeply rooted psychic awareness we all possess within us. While for some the process of psychic catharsis will come naturally, there will be those, however, who will need to delve deeper into their soul before a true understanding can take place. Have the patience and tenacity to keep practicing, and an awareness of the divine shall become more pronounced for you as it has for me. In the end, you will find clarity to even the most arcane aspects of your life and find the solutions for many of the problems you face each and every day. Since many of us who are involved in the scared arts of magick and divination understand that these natural gifts of divine presence and heavenly assistance are ever present within us as individual beings, as well as surrounding us as a whole family; therefore, it is vital that we take the next soulful steps in improving our state of mind, emotions and spirit. Because we understand that the love and compassion within each of us at times may falter and wane from the stresses we encounter daily, I implore all who take part in this experience to find your sacred place beyond the oftentimes soulfully-sick world in which we live.

    http://article.wn.com/view/2014/06/02/Greg_Jenkins_on_The_Theban_Oracle/

    That’s my response to the review of the Theban Oracle. I think the last section, penned entirely by the author of the book explains his idea the best, in spite of what others believe the book is meant to be about, or how the methods he subscribes to are meant to work. I do hope this answer to the above review of Mr. Dunn finds the reader well, and that under no circumstance is it meant to be an attack or in slander/liable in any way. I look forward to reviewing more of such books in the future, and to see this lovely website grow.

    With kind regards,

    Dr. Esperanza S. Cavallo-Voss, PhD, CCA (Ret.)

    Formally El Universidad del Turabo, Department of counseling psychology, former inspector and welfare review board for the Policía de Puerto Rico, General Psychiatry, Puerto Rico Institute of Psychiatry, Rio Piedras (1991-2002).

    Dios los bendiga y la paz siempre

  2. Let’s try this again. Thanks to Dr. McAddam, I am posting again as my e-mail address had been blocked. Let’s see if they will allow these comments to be posted before Mr. Dunn has them removed.

    There is absolutely no reason to continuously reject my statements here. Why are you afraid Mr. Dunn? This is my response, and you, and this website’s administrators have my email address to face this issue. I’m not going to harm you; I simply wish to offer my response in kind to yours. There is nothing here to frighten you, I don’t use black magic and will not send a demon to eat you, and believe me sweetheart, we have many, many practicantes mojo oscuros here in Puerto Rico if I wanted to do to that you, and so why do you hide in the shadows?

    Is there so much uncertainty in the pagan community that you should restrict those who challenge you? Please, wise profesor, let your readers make up their own mind. Be brave, all will be well for you. Bendiciones para ustedes!

    ***********************************************************************************

    In regards to the Theban Oracle

    This is an interesting review; though I’m not sure I can agree with Mr. Dunn’s over-zealous candor and straight-forward meanness. I can, however, understand how a learned professor can acquire the ivory tower mentality, especially when his or her students flower over them. It happens, especially in liberal colleges across the land, and most notably in the United States. I feel it’s the sheer meanness that intrigued me, and still cannot understand why a culture would choose to be so nasty to one and others.
    The more reviews I read, the more I get the feeling that it’s the self-attained glamour that gets the most attention today, like that of the many so-called reality television programs that plague your entertainment. It’s the sheer cruelty that captures your attention. And to be sure, it is not only the television programs, but certainly in your literary reviews. Critique is without question the foundation of the arts, and so it should be. Artists certainly need outside opinions, as they tend to help that artist find a spot from where to reflect. This is well and fine, though when that person uses such an opportunity simply to be mean, the critique becomes a simple rant against his or her subject, and nullifies the purpose all together. What concerns me more is that this appears to be the mainstay of American policy regarding critical reviews of the arts, sciences and other disciplines. Not to be on the case of America alone, but having lived in South America, Puerto Rico and in Europe since an early age, I can only relate that this kind of behavior is not tolerated, especially by collegians. We tend to regard this as bad form.
    I am not a magician or occultist as those who read from this website, though was given this book by a friend who is. She thought it was a great book, but then, who is not a person like those who read from this website. I found your website when looking for information about the subject matter (Theban), as well as the author’s information. I was amazed to find that nearly all reviews were much like this one; and practically no positive critique found, except from the Amazon website; the later, no doubt due to reasons of selling the book.
    Firstly, this company stated that there were more than one versions of the manuscript, where the one chosen was much less than the other for reasons of publishing the book along with a set of mystical stones with letters etched on them. The stone idea was let go that the last moment and what you see is what you get.
    Secondly, the topic of plagiarism was not considered only because certain words were used in the stead, and that sentence structure was different. It is also important to note that the book company does not publish textbooks. After probing more on this, I was informed that a book full of footnotes and scholarly quotations, such as found in APA, MLA, Chicago et al, might be too confounding to their readers, which are not always scholars or professionals in the area of expertise.

    Recap:
    “At the age of sixteen, Paracelsus began his formal education at the University of Basel, where he studied alchemy, surgery, and medicine. . . . By adulthood, he had become known as the precursor of modern chemical pharmacology and therapeutics, and as the most original medical thinker of the century.” (134)
    [Alchemylab.com’s] page on Paracelsus has this to say: “At the age of sixteen, Paracelsus entered the University at Basle [sic] where he applied himself to the study of alchemy, surgery, and medicine” and “Manly Hall called him ‘the precursor of chemical pharmacology and therapeutics and the most original medical thinker of the sixteenth century.’”

    I think that although there is a similarity in sentence structure, we can all be critical, though from what I see from the Theban Oracle, Mr. Jenkins chose to follow suit in a common demeanor. By this I will refer to a simply sentence that Mr. Dunn choose to exemplify: “At the age of sixteen, Paracelsus entered the University at Basle [sic] where he applied himself to the study of alchemy, surgery, and medicine” and…”
    Below are [9] links to references of this exact same sentence, without the type of in-verse quoting Mr. Dunn was speaking of. As you will find, from the earliest examples (1923-1965) to the more recent, this sentence example is profoundly similar. Please note, I found close to 68 of such references before I got tired of looking. In short, I think Mr. Jenkins was just paraphrasing related and common documentation for the sake of getting his point across. When I asked Red Wheel Weiser company about this fact, they noted that the Theban book was not meant to be an exhaustive resource of magical figures from history, rather to give a simple, and more importantly (short) example in order to get to the subject matter across, or as a brief introduction. Also, that resource material was offered in the back sections, which I found in order.
    Whether or not Mr. Jenkins will talk with me about this is unknown, but I will try to write him through the publishers. For now, here are those links for your inquiry:

    Dated from a 1965 treatise: http://www.teosofia.com/Mumbai/7207movement.html
    New World Encyclopedia: http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Paracelsus
    University of Penn. http://knarf.english.upenn.edu/People/paracels.html
    From the book: The life of Paracelsus, Theophrastus von Hohenheim, 1493-1541 by Anna M. Stoddart (1923): http://www.amazon.com/The-Life-Paracelsus-Theophrastus-Hohenheim-ebook/dp/B009OLV00A
    The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Alchemy By Dennis Hauck:http://books.google.com/books?id=x9PCBsiP4oIC&pg=PA246&lpg=PA246&dq=At+the+age+of+sixteen,+Paracelsus+entered+the+University+at+Basel&source=bl&ots=UAaRzXoGvP&sig=3IHIysvkFPVtJACg2ZRJ_f-pZic&hl=en&sa=X&ei=B0kNVJfdKba1sQT8w4GoDw&ved=0CC8Q6AEwAjgU#v=onepage&q=At%20the%20age%20of%20sixteen%2C%20Paracelsus%20entered%20the%20University%20at%20Basel&f=false
    http://cdict.net/q/Paracelsus
    http://www.cosmovisions.com/Williams020701.htm
    http://www.refdictionary.com/d/p/a/r/a/paracelsus.html
    http://www.lindakayeastrology.com/documents/MedievalAlchemyMedicineAstrologyandParacelsustheGreat.pdf
    The Encyclopaedia Britannica: A Dictionary of Arts, Sciences, Literature:
    http://books.google.com/books?id=yyTKrDK2c0sC&pg=PA749&lpg=PA749&dq=At+the+age+of+sixteen,+Paracelsus+entered+the+University+at+Basel&source=bl&ots=YqhmVyNOUd&sig=1AozDO19KQL-9AkpP2MoIvm5yII&hl=en&sa=X&ei=4UYNVIOTD8XCsATjx4GADg&ved=0CFAQ6AEwCQ#v=onepage&q=At%20the%20age%20of%20sixteen%2C%20Paracelsus%20entered%20the%20University%20at%20Basel&f=false

    Thirdly, and most notably, in my understanding is the simple fact that the reviewer of this “critique” is also the author of several such books published solely by the competitor Red Wheel Weiser Books, which is Llewellyn Books. Mr. Dunn’s books are:
    Cartomancy with the Lenormand and the Tarot: Create Meaning & Gain Insight from the Cards (Jul 8, 2013)
    Magic, Power, Language, Symbol: A Magician’s Exploration of Linguistics (Aug 8, 2008)
    Postmodern Magic: The Art of Magic in the Information Age (Jun 8, 2005)

    Here’s a tidbit from an anonymous employee of the publisher regarding Mr. Dunn’s statements:

    “Bah! Don’t let him rattle you. We probably rejected a book of his last year and he’s bitter. Your book rocks and so do you. Get your faithful readers to put positive reviews up on Amazon. They don’t have to buy the book there, but a lot of people read the Amazon reviews. I’ve never even heard of that journal that guy writes for so he can basically ______ it, to put it in technical terms!”

    ~Anonymous

    When we examine the common need to boast and support our own philosophies, and or principles, it becomes painfully clear that, in this case, a negative review should be expected. That is not to say such should be done. There is a matter of etiquette that Mr. Dunn is lacking, in spite of his place in the college system and his apparent place within such communities as this one. For instance, I read statements like:
    “If you have a Ph.D., and if you choose to advertise that fact on the cover of your book, and if you make a statement in the introduction about being “engaged in the task of scholarly research” (XI), then you do not get to copy people’s exact words and claim them as your own, whether those words come from the internet or a published book. And changing a few words around does not make it your own words. College sophomores know this. High-school freshmen know this, for goodness’s sake!”
    And
    “When an author puts Ph.D. after his or her name, it’s a promise of a certain kind of intellectual training and carefulness. Even a Ph.D. may make an accidental slip. But a Ph.D. should know that you cannot use another author’s unique words or ideas without quotation marks and a citation, and you cannot use another author’s ideas without indicating their origin. Basic integrity demands that you do not make use of the work of another without giving them credit. Writing is hard work, and the products of that work deserve respect.”

    These statements are not necessary, and should be viewed as an attack rather than a personal opinion. Getting that personal is like the American way of politics and voting, where every grain of nastiness comes out in order to demean and defeat the opponent. I am sure the author will not take such comments too seriously, especially considering the source and the reason that you just read here. However, I think I understand why we do such things as attack those we do not know personally, or in this case, a review with what appears to be a hidden agenda. I do also think that if you went to McDonalds fast food restaurant and asked what they think about the hamburgers being served at Burger King, we might expect what the answer would be: “Don’t eat at Burger King!”

    In ending, I would ask the gentle readers of this book, should they venture forth and read it against the advice and intention of the reviewers here, to keep this advice in your mind: Be your own judge, without the help or commands of others. You are your own person, and not those who feel they are above you.

    As for the way Americans, and many other Western cultures’s critique, I feel Valerie Stivers-Isakova of the Huffington Post explains this best.

    According to Ms. Stivers-Isakova:
    “I’ve been thinking a lot lately about being mean in book reviews, or rather, how to strike a balance between honest and being fair, and if meaningful critique is worth doing in a small book-reviewing world where the de facto style seems to be politeness, encouragement and praise. And then, this ranty rant in Book-Riot, anti the New York Times, inspired me to formulate some rules…”
    1. Do write a brilliant, opinionated takedown of a major literary figure. Everyone will read it, talk about it and give you lots of attention, bad or good. Which, let’s face it, if you are a book reviewer, is an unfamiliar sensation.
    2. But, make sure the figure you critique isn’t someone likely to cause you any harm. Old Canadian ladies, popular authors, authors not in New York, authors so famous and remote that it really won’t matter. Dead authors. All good choices.
    3. In all other cases, write something positive, even if doing so requires sophisticated acrobatics. It’s a small literary world, and either you may know the author you’re reviewing, or definitely you have friends who know them, or you may need them for career advancement later.
    4. Try to congratulate yourself on your acrobatics. Saying something good about a terrible book takes some doing.
    5. Be aware that if you are writing for a major mainstream publication, you will get pushback on any note of critique, even in an otherwise glowing review. This can be from your editor, or from the book’s author, publisher, publicist, friends, etc., on Twitter, on Facebook, in person. The editor version is particularly insidious, because editors tend to say “If you didn’t like this, let’s not run it,” on the valid-ish grounds that the readers want recommendations. In that case, you read a bad book, wasted your time, got a fraction of your fee, and had an aura of failure hang about the venture, not likely to lead to more assignments.
    6. Admit to yourself that all this pressure is quelling. I have written decent-ish reviews of books I thought sucked. I have written nice things with no critical notes about friends’ books. I have elected to not review bad books by distant acquaintances. And every time I do criticize a book, I imagine its author’s child denying my child a job someday, when I am dead, and the world is 200 degrees, and a spot in the air-conditioning in a corporate tower of the future is a matter of life or death.
    7. Wonder why you — ok, this list is about me — why I am doing this, anyway. I started writing about books, despite the low pay and small audiences, because I love to read, and I love books, and I wanted to speak eloquently about them. If I’m not being honest in a book review on my personal blog, what, dear god, is the point?
    8. Read this Tweedledum and Tweedledee debate about book reviewers. Are they in decline? Do we even need book reviewers, when we have Amazon and our friends to recommend books? Can anyone make money at this these days? — besides writer Peter Damien of Book Riot, whose myriad well-paying alternative press editors, unicorns all, with long silky manes, if they’re reading this, please call me!
    9. Remember that in our fairly bleak and corrupt world, literature and the arts are one of our few forms of enlightenment, transcendence and salvation. Great books matter, and intelligent debate about them matters. A problem with the culture of toothless commentary is that people seem to forget there’s a difference between saying something well and having something to say. What does a book mean? What is its message? Does it display any moral depth? The author can talk, but are they worth listening to? I find that’s the question I most often have to steer away from, if I want to be diplomatic.
    There are books that save lives, books that change lives, books that crack your head open and pour in a new substance and you walk around with your brain sloshing for weeks. There are books you’ll never forget. There is a difference between these books and most others, and that difference is worth articulating.
    10. Have integrity. Write the truest thing you can about what you read, in the most generous way possible. I do not always succeed, but I do try.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/valerie-stiversisakova/10-rules-of-writing-a-bad_b_4572229.html

    Although I have not yet interviewed this author of the Theban Oracle, I have found one exemplification of his book in his own words at the World News Network website:

    Brought to you by Red Wheel Weiser publications.
    1. What was your prime motivation and inspiration for creating your new book, “The Theban Oracle Discovering The Magic Of The Ancient Alphabet That Changes Lives”?
    My primary motivation was simply a love for all things of a mysterious nature, specifically arcane wisdom from the ancient mystery schools. Medieval Metaphysics has always fascinated me, especially the secret orders that had risen out of the madness of the church, which had killed at least 80, 000 people during the Burning Times, and their need to encode and hide the works from being destroyed. Secondly, though my book states ‘oracle,’ it should be understood that it’s not meant as a literal oracle that will predict the future or resolve issues by way of magick…No, this refers to the magick that already exists within each of us, and the power to resolve our own problems and to answer our own questions by way of reason. The Theban Oracle is represented by notable sage and magi through the ages, both by their wisdom and by their downfalls. Finally, because I have always enjoyed these types of ‘games,’ such as the popular Rune Stone kits and such, I wanted to add to the body of literature with something unique, yet simple to grasp for everyone. Overall, it’s meant to be a tool for self-inspection, self-reflection and self-repair-where-need-be.
    The ‘spell casting’ section follows this original statement; where again we create our magick no matter how we represent it. Instead of literal Harry Potter-like examples of what spell work is, I refer to it from the foundation of Sir James Frazer, the English anthropologist and author of the great book: The Golden Bough, who explains how sympathy, homeopathic and contact/contagious aspects of the human condition can cause change and affect outcome by way of the ritual and similar odes to gods and goddesses, and what have you. Again, we create the magick, the blessings and curses and such by our belief…In this manner; we can heal or kill with such understandings.
    2. How would you recommend getting a set of stones? Do you have to make them yourself?
    You can buy these stone made in various minerals online, but I would suggest making them yourself. It’s far easier than you think, and can be done as simple as painting the symbols on small stones or purchasing an engraving tool and simply etch them on. Or, you can purchase all natural clay and make them that way, then glaze if you wish and have them fired in a kiln much like the market stones are. This way is good too, so long as the material is non-synthetic. I have always believed that what comes from the earth is best, as plastics and plastic-coated papers simply do not connect betwixt the human spirit and the spirit of Gaia naturally. Moreover, using wood shards, bones and sea shells all work well, so long as they are all around the same size. Remember, we are of the earth, so having such tools that are of the earth will always be preferred.
    3. Could you share some history with us regarding The Theban Oracle from the perspective of other cultures they have been used in?
    A great question and one that has baffled scholars for centuries. Culturally, the majesty and wonder of the Theban enigma and its significance to the realms of ancient magick has found its place primarily in Western societies, though not directly. That is to say that to my knowledge I am the first to adhere the Theban script to a divination game/self-help/oracle system…At least having published such a system. Gerald Gardner is said to have been fascinated with the artistic script, as well as Francis Barrett before him. Yet, as far as other cultures, some scholars suspect that the Theban script may have its origins in the Middle East, bastardized from certain groups there, though no proof can be found. Nonetheless, it continues to be of great inspiration for modern scholars. Past the initial formulation and construction of this codex and oracle system devised centuries ago, right on through its modern applications, I found an incredible ease associated in recognizing and indeed, comprehending its seemingly mystical placement beyond the typical understanding since its origin.

    Whether engaged in the task of scholarly research, or while in the practice and testing of this codex system as a tool for oracle-like practices, I discovered a systematic and remarkable flow of wisdom appearing to me in an auspicious comportment. Indeed, I have no doubt that the beholder of this system, whether used as a game with friends and family, or as an oracle that has survived the centuries, you will also find a singular magick, which emanates from this unique means of divination, serving you well throughout the years to come. Although at first glance the contents of this book may appear to be highly intense in comprehension, requiring many skills within the area of both low and high magick, it is designed specifically for those who possess both an average understanding of the magi arts, and those who already embrace a higher awareness in such preternatural realms. In either case, I am sure you will find a particular feeling of enlightenment and a sense of the sacred within the worlds of medieval metaphysics and the Theban oracle, both as a game of wisdom and as a method for personal transformation.
    I feel it important to explain that this oracle’s primary functions are to aid the user in the gentle art of living through one’s own spiritual intuitions. As you hold these stones, or other articles that bare the mysterious icons of this alphabet system, such will absorb, assess and spiritually relate what is already within you. Your spirit and the incredibly intense and interlaced patterns of your psyche shall pass on to these stones. In essence, they will convey your personal and scared vibrations via a form of psychic-osmosis. The answers you receive, though seemingly esoteric at times, shall resonate that which is already within you…for you are the one holding the force of the universe in your hands.

    The process of the Theban oracle was designed to enhance the deeply rooted psychic awareness we all possess within us. While for some the process of psychic catharsis will come naturally, there will be those, however, who will need to delve deeper into their soul before a true understanding can take place. Have the patience and tenacity to keep practicing, and an awareness of the divine shall become more pronounced for you as it has for me. In the end, you will find clarity to even the most arcane aspects of your life and find the solutions for many of the problems you face each and every day. Since many of us who are involved in the scared arts of magick and divination understand that these natural gifts of divine presence and heavenly assistance are ever present within us as individual beings, as well as surrounding us as a whole family; therefore, it is vital that we take the next soulful steps in improving our state of mind, emotions and spirit. Because we understand that the love and compassion within each of us at times may falter and wane from the stresses we encounter daily, I implore all who take part in this experience to find your sacred place beyond the oftentimes soulfully-sick world in which we live.

    http://article.wn.com/view/2014/06/02/Greg_Jenkins_on_The_Theban_Oracle/

    That’s my response to the review of the Theban Oracle. I think the last section, penned entirely by the author of the book explains his idea the best, in spite of what others believe the book is meant to be about, or how the methods he subscribes to are meant to work. I do hope this answer to the above review of Mr. Dunn finds the reader well, and that under no circumstance is it meant to be an attack or in slander/liable in any way. I look forward to reviewing more of such books in the future, and to see this lovely website grow.
    With kind regards,

    Dr. Esperanza S. Cavallo-Voss, PhD, CCA (Ret.)
    Formally El Universidad del Turabo, Department of counseling psychology, former inspector and welfare review board for the Policía de Puerto Rico, General Psychiatry, Puerto Rico Institute of Psychiatry, Rio Piedras (1991-2002).
    Dios los bendiga y la paz siempre

    • Patrick Dunn says:

      I didn’t reject your earlier comment. It takes some time for me to be notified of pending comments. When I am notified, I read and approve any comments that does not contain profanity.

  3. Greg Jenkins says:

    Dear Dr. Cavallo-Voss,

    Thank you for defending me, and taking an interest in my book. Yes, it is like you suggested, it’s not meant to be a textbook, nor is it to take the place of such books of high magick and what have you. It was designed to act as tool or more appropriately a “thinking game system” for aiding people in figuring out their questions out for themselves in a holistic manner. I am a mental health counselor, like yourself, as well as an expressive arts therapist, so I tend to use examples in order to offer my clients a foundation, along with paraphrasing. Basically, I use the Carl Rogers method along with art therapy techniques. So, the format is often subjective. As far as the plagiarism is concerned, Dr. Dunn, whom I will refer herein as “my attacker” is simply incorrect. It is true there are similarities, but the text, in paragraphed form, is augmented so not to plagiarize, and is completely legal from teaching points-of-view. My attacker, however, might and should instruct against this use, unless properly citing the author’s work, only when quoting directly.
    Interestingly enough, you gave a barrage of links with what my attacker claimed to have originated on a website called alchemy lab, written by someone named “A. Cockren.” The original text is not dissimilar from my paraphrasing, and not created by that author. Their work is actually someone else’s, in this case from a document dated 1889.

    It’s also important for this forum’s readers to know that most, if not all of a manuscript undergoes massive change and/or overhaul before it goes to print. A professor of English/Literature should know this, especially if he/she has published. I’ve published 12 books, and have written hundreds of articles for several professional periodicals, and I can sure tell you, a lot gets axed or is changed by the publishing company’s editors. It’s their job to make for the best sale for a worldwide audience. If my attacker wants purely professional, by-the-book material, he should go directly to textbook publishers; one notably is McFarland Press, which is very meticulous in what it puts out to the public. Indecently, I was able to find out that this person’s attacks are not uncommon, and seem to steam from people/author’s and would-be authors working for Llewellyn Books, historically a publishing company that deals heavily in reprinting ancient works (e.g., De Occulta Philosophia libri III) and others, as well as purely pixie-dust spell books filled with many colorful and enchanting magick spells, though none of these books constitute the level that my attacker sees fit to have publish. Interesting, no? Moreover, I have received some hate mail by two others since; one, an embittered woman from Jacksonville, Florida who wrote one article for FATE Magazine, and another from a man who operates a similar new age forum-like web page. This gentleman sent me his forum and review, along with a photo of himself. He was dressed in a dark cloak, wielding a staff with a small animal’s skull on it, and bearing a face that made me think of a Harry Potter film crossed with a bad episode of a television show about motorcycle hoods called “Sons of Anarchy”

    …For heaven’s sake

    Thank you again; I appreciate your efforts to fight the angry mobs hunting be down with flaming touches and pitchforks (laughing). And please feel free to contact me at my personal email, as I would enjoy hearing of your teaching and counseling methods.
    Most sincerely,

    Rev., Dr. Greg Cledwyn Jenkins, Ph.D. Th.D., CEAT, C

    (;) Yes, I used my credentials…)

  4. Patrick Dunn says:

    I reviewed your book honestly, offering my honest reaction to it and to the fact of your plagiarism. That honesty is the obligation of a reviewer, whether or not it may hurt someone’s feelings. I did not attack you and have no intention of attacking you. I’m sorry you’ve received hate mail; I would certainly never send someone any such thing. If people are sending it in reaction to this review, then I would want them to stop immediately. A review exists so that you can judge whether or not you wish to read a book, not so you can attack the author.

    • Greg Jenkins says:

      Dear Mr. Dunn, I hope this note finds you well, and thank you for your timely reply.

      Though I’m sure you meant well, in a rather unprofessional way, I don’t hold anything against you, nor take your review as anything serious. You most certainly did not hurt my feelings, though I think Mrs. Voss felt otherwise for some reason (I have friends in strange places). At any rate, when I was notified about your review (and yes, I consider your review more of an attack to that of a serious critique, as it is chock-full of redundancy and nasty remarks), I checked it out and found it amusing, though certainly not propelling to hurt my feelings as you say…Most touching. Beyond that, however, I can see where you must attack, as we’re natural enemies, from a literary point of view “Weiser vs. Llewellyn.” Our publishers will always be at odds, wouldn’t you say? Heck, the great Edgar Allan Poe had often contended to the typically nasty Rufus Wilmot Griswold and his protégé Richard Henry Stoddard, and even Thomas Dunn English, (relations?) the editor of the “John Donke.” Though Mr. Poe certainly had his flaws, it’s shocking to see such negativity nonetheless. And worse yet, that we have come, not-so-far.

      Again, once I reread the review, especially regarding the accusations of plagiarism, I contacted my publisher and went through my work again. Indeed, I can see what you’re saying, and again I must stress that the original citations for those passages, along with roughly 35% of extra documentation per representation of historical figures had been removed in order to shorten the overall context for sales. I’m not sure if you’re an editor, but apparently this is a matter of form, and to be expected during the preliminary, median and final editorial review. Moreover, the aspects in which you referred to as plagiarism are in fact, plagiarized, should we follow the auspices of your review. Is this a case of a thief stealing from a thief? (Fascinating, Mr. Spock) Therefore, I must ask you to take your query and findings, such as they are, directly to my publisher, Red Wheel/Weiser:

      Attention: Mr. Michael Kerber, President & CEO or Jan Johnson, Publisher, Red Wheel/Weiser — Customer Service, Foreign Rights, and Publicity, Red Wheel/Weiser/Conari, 65 Parker Street, Suite 7, Newburyport, MA 01950 – Phone: 978.465.0504 Fax: 978.465.0243 http://redwheelweiser.com/p.php?id=3

      As a seasoned author yourself, I’m sure you realize that an author has far-less control of his/her work than one might expect. This too is simply a matter of form. I challenge you to bring your finding as they are to the proper authorities, in this case the publisher, and go from there. You certainly have that right. You may also wish to take legal action, as this must fall under some regulation worthy of a barrister’s attention.

      On a personal note:

      As you may know, my wife and I live in Oak Park, Illinois, where I have a small studio and art academy. My wife is a registered nurse, and friends with several faculty members at the University of Chicago, including the Director of Poetry and Poetics, and Professor of Practice in the Arts, John Wilkinson, and others too. We like to schmooze with the royalty of collegians, and have a well-rounded group of friends that might be able to offer you a position in one of their departments. They’re always looking for an ax man to weed out the scourge of proper diction and prose… We’re in Belgium right now, but will be back in the New Year, and if you would like to introduce yourself with such people, we’d love to have you.

      And you thought I was mad at you…

      Good day to you, sir, and again, I hope this note finds you well. Cheers!

      Rev., Dr. Greg Cledwyn Jenkins, Ph.D. Th.D., CEAT, C

      • Sheta Kaey says:

        Mr Jenkins, I just want to say how much I enjoyed your sock puppets! Readers of this enormous comment thread (wow, some people are not very succinct, are they?) should know that the following IP addresses made the prior comments:
        71.55.9.54
        71.55.6.178
        71.55.0.16

        They’re all in the same Florida area, where Mr. Jenkins currently resides.

        Resorting to sock puppet defenses is very 1999, Mr. Jenkins. You should read up on the anonymous Internet experience. Nice try. I guess.

        • Greg Jenkins says:

          Dear Sock Puppet (I say that in jest),

          Close, but no cigar…Here’s one final “Enormous and Succinct” thread.

          Firstly, just to address your comments, quickly. [Item #1] Please know that my publisher and all publishers do not simply give out their author’s personal information. They will normally contact the author and either gets your OK to connect with a fan or concerned reader of your work or they will attach that person’s email and/or physical address for the author to respond if he/she desires to do so. (Please confer with Dr. Dunn on this). If you read the first or second thread I posted, you will see 2, maybe 3 parts directly from other sources. That’s because I “cut & pasted” them there. When I responded to several emails, I posted their findings and/or queries directly to your blog. I did this for Mrs. Cavallo-Voss too, by adding her Barnes & Noble comment to an Amazon comment because she does not have an account.

          Also, I put in their email addresses on your blog so you could respond directly. I know that Gary, the last guy who wrote me is from Hendersonville, North Carolina, and Dr. Cavallo-Voss is from Florida. Simply write them if you suspect me as the author, or as you call: “A Sock Puppet.” This brings me to the last item…

          [Item #2] I have a blog page; not that dissimilar from yours, in that I can also check IP Addresses to see where a commenter/contributor comes from. Many are generated from bots, and coming from scamming systems, while others are real. My computer(s) are equipped with very simple, but effective features, like (1) a filtering system that can limit IP information and/or misdirect that information, thanks to the Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) Properties feature on all computers, and to tp-LINK Systems. (2), I have Proxy Genius too, which osculates IP Addresses from your region or from another locale, simply by activating it. Right now, its 7:42 AM, Tuesday morning, October 7, 2014 (GMT+2), in Antwerp, Belgium; having a French press and Pain D’amandes while jotting this down. You will either pick up South, Central or Gulf Coast Florida, Alabama and possibly Missouri…You will not get Antwerp, Belgium, Chicago, Illinois or McMurdo Sound Air Base, Antarctica, just because of these simple devices (It’s so 2014).

          And just for your information should you wish to do the same thing, please refer to:

          http://proxy.org/

          OR

          http://blog.laptopmag.com/how-to-change-your-routers-ip-address

          *Please keep in mind I actually work in the human services/mental health field, where much that work is spent in residential communities and psychiatric hospitals. Moreover, because our technological age spawned much advances for good people, it also opens up possible threats by bad people, like stalkers, mentally disturbed persons, et al. I’m sure you can appreciate this.

          I hope this answers your questions, and finally hinders any animosity that may have risen during these communiqués. I certainly don’t wish that, but it really does seem that today the “witches have indeed become the witch-finder generals.” Just too much meanness, professionally rendered or not, we really should be more civil to each other, don’t you think? As a “worker of the light,” I’m sure you can appreciate this too.

          I wish you and yours, and all your contributors and readers’ happiness, much health, joy and wealth for the forthcoming years ahead — I wish nothing but the best…So mote it be!

          Greg

          “Have you heard that it was good to gain the day? I also say it is good to fall, battles are lost in the same spirit in which they are won…”

          Walt Whitman

  5. Dear Mr. Jenkins

    Wow, first of all, I wanted to say how much I enjoy your book! My wife loves it too and we use it quite a bit actually. I know we’re not supposed to drink alcohol at the same time, but we do. I hope that doesn’t screw up the process that much. She made stones with the letters painted on, but we found some carved ones online so we’ll order a set soon. Anyway, I love reading these reviews! Most of time you get a good one, and other times you just get bullshit. Dude, I’ve been practicing alchemy actively for about a decade, and have read a good deal about its founders in both original documents and the new stuff as well. There’s a lot of whack jobs out there who think they are all knowing, but when it comes down to it, they don’t know the first thing about chemistry, or in this case medicine as a part of alchemy and the relationship. I’m not an English professor, but do have my bachelors in organic chemistry and my M.S. in chemical engineering from Georgia Tech. Having an interest in the subject matter, from a practicing standpoint, I can honestly say that the stuff you wrote about is practically considered dogma by today’s standards. The book reviewer here sounds like he’s involved in it too, and must have read a good share about it, which is why he’s pointing out these things. For example, if you look at the ‘Paracelsus’ statement, it sounds like all the rest, which you might have changed it up a little more. That’s the only thing I can see, but its not word for word. When someone ‘plagiarizes’, it usually means word for word. I’m not seeing that here though.

    Here’s the passage that the book reviewer is looking at in your book (pp. 133-134):

    “At the age of sixteen, Paracelsus began his formal education at the University of Basel, where he studied alchemy, surgery, and medicine. . . . By adulthood, he had become known as the precursor of modern chemical pharmacology and therapeutics, and as the most original medical thinker of the century.”

    *This one is from the Alchemy Lab as stated by the book reviewer. By the way, I can’t find it, exactly as it here, but let’s just say it’s there. As you can see there is very little similarity, at least word for word.

    “…the age of sixteen, Paracelsus entered the University at Basle [sic] where he applied himself to the study of alchemy, surgery, and medicine” and “Manly Hall called him ‘the precursor of chemical pharmacology and therapeutics and the most original medical thinker of the sixteenth century.’”

    Though there is a similarity, it ends with the way you change words and structure. Science has a different way of writing, and we never, never write as if it were a love poem. Most of our research is taken directly from existing sources, only not if its word for word without direct citation. Take a look at how the words are different.

    Yours says: “By adulthood, he had become known as the precursor of modern chemical pharmacology and therapeutics, and as the most original medical thinker of the century.”

    The Alchemy lab: “…Where he applied himself to the study of alchemy, surgery, and medicine” and “Manly Hall called him ‘the precursor of chemical pharmacology and therapeutics and the most original medical thinker of the sixteenth century.

    These two paragraphs are not alike, they are very are different, but they say the same thing. Right? I suppose you could have gone a little differently, but from the idea of stealing someone’s work, the accusation is just wrong. I think this Manly Hall was a famous mystic-seer who wrote about Atlantis, I’m just confused how these mix here. I think that’s where this guy is claiming you stole it. Even so, the lab’s sources are taken the same way and in the same manner as you did. Take a look at the sentence from Wikipedia:

    “At the age of 16 he started studying medicine at the University of Basel, later moving to Vienna….”

    There is a similarity here as well, but the citations are put in footnote form. Maybe (you) and everyone else, apparently, could have done it this way. Just a thought.

    Wikipedia source:

    1. Johannes Schaber (1993). “Paracelsus, lat. Pseudonym von {Philippus Aureolus} Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim”. In Bautz, Traugott. Biographisch-Bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon (BBKL) (in German) 6. Herzberg: Bautz. cols. 1502–1528. ISBN 3-88309-044-1.
    2. Marshall James L; Marshall Virginia R (2005). “Rediscovery of the Elements: Paracelsus” (PDF). The Hexagon of Alpha Chi Sigma (Winter): 71–8. ISSN 0164-6109. OCLC 4478114.

    Here’s a quote from a periodical published by the ‘Theosophical Movement,’ dated January 1965:

    ‘…At the age of 16 Paracelsus entered the University of Basel, where, among other things, he studied alchemy…’

    Here’s a quote from the University of Pennsylvania :

    ‘….at the age of sixteen entered Basel University where he studied alchemy…’

    Note that instead of putting a normal citation, as from a professional article or research paper, they put the source at the end of the document: Biography from Arthur Edward Waite, Lives of Alchemical Philosophers (1888) You did the same thing in your book, so this must be acceptable, right?
    And lastly, here’s one example from one of my personal books, which I just happened to open up to take a look. Guess what, here’s what Anna M. Stoddart says in here excellent book ‘The Life of Paracelsus’ (1840-1911):

    ‘…At the age of 16 he started studying medicine at the University of Basel, later moving to Vienna…’

    By the way, there is no citation in the entire chapter, at least not as we were taught in college, only at the end sources, and even that doesn’t give a page or chapter note to identify it. Maybe this was normal in her day. It all looks the same to me, so are all these examples plagrerized? Why is this guy after you? Here’s one possible reason.

    Taken from the U of I webpage:

    The Indiana University Code of Student Rights, Responsibilities, and Conduct (2005) indicates that students may be disciplined for several different kinds of academic misconduct. These include cheating, fabrication, plagiarism, interference, and violation of course rules.
    In particular the code states:

    #3. Plagiarism.
    Plagiarism is defined as presenting someone else’s work, including the work of other students, as one’s own. Any ideas or materials taken from another source for either written or oral use must be fully acknowledged, unless the information is common knowledge. What is considered “common knowledge” may differ from course to course.

    (quoted from Code of Student Rights, Responsibilities, and Conduct, Part II, Student Responsibilities, Academic Misconduct, By action of the University Faculty Council (April 12, 2005) and the Trustees of Indiana University (June 24, 2005).)
    https://www.indiana.edu/~istd/definition.html

    (OK, Stop right here) Firstly, the common knowledge part comes in because this entire passage commits to literature already stated. In fact, these paragraphs that have caused so much ballyhoo were written more than a century ago, putting it in the public domain, I think. And at least should be considered ‘common knowledge’, especially for those involved in alchemy and such. The links the other person put here has one of these for an example as well.

    Secondly, ‘directly quoting another person’s actual words, whether oral or written; using another person’s ideas, opinions, or theories.’ without acknowledgment. I think you might have used the standard way of citation, like: According to Capt. Kangaroo, Paracelsus….blah, blah, blah, but I’m not sure about how you’re supposed to write a book like yours. So far I haven’t seen a lot that do it this way. We have Ralph Blums Rune Stone book, and he gives his sources at the end like yours.

    Anyway, it seems that everyone plagiarizes if we go by the standards expected. Good God, I’m guilty too!!!

    Cool book man! Keep writing in spite of the competition

    Gray Gorjan

  6. Sheta Kaey says:

    All traffic is good traffic. The more people he sends here to see the review, the more new readers we have. Give us some new stuff, Patrick! ;)

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