The North Atlantic Books List 2: Categories

by Richard Grossinger on March 11, 2010

Chapter Eight
The North Atlantic Books List 2:
Major Categories of Publishing

In this chapter, anything approaching a comprehensive citing of titles for our major categories would be unwieldy and turn the text into a list, so I direct readers of this blog to www.northatlanticbooks. com.  On the home page, click on the topic(s) that interest you.

1. Martial Arts

If there is an underpublished area, it is martial arts, although that is not why we bumbled into it.  We began publishing these books out of circumstance (and interest) and continued to build the list as a unique literature with samurai and zen overtones.  There wasn’t all that much competition initially for serious martial-arts projects, and our martial-arts library has partly grown exponentially because the territory was quite wide-open for us coming in, and it took a while for other companies to catch on.

Perhaps because so many down-market excuses for publishers put out such sorry ass-kicking, Soldier of Fortune rags for so many years under martial arts, few respectable publishers regarded the territory as substantial or worthy of “real” publishing.  Its real scope overlooked, it was viewed as kind of rough-and-tumble subcategory of fitness or sports or the military.  Thus, the breadth and depth of an important and fertile domain was missed.

If there is a dramatically over-published area in the trade, it in fact is sports, particularly pro sports. Martial arts is its antipode.  Martial-arts books on the averagae are more consistently successful than sports books, yet perceived wrongly as their subcategory.  I remember divulging to my long-time acquaintance, sports/literary entrepreneur George Plimpton, the numbers of martial-arts and bodywork books we routinely sold and seeing his eyes open wide with astonishment and envy because they outstripped his beloved literature and sports combined.

One can do elegant, profound, even literary martial-arts books without even making a fuss about it, as North Atlantic (and a few other presses) have demonstrated.  We simply overrode the prejudice of what a martial-arts book should be and made high-level, textured books out of the best avaiable material.  Some of them were as much like cookbooks of Chinese philosophy and iconography as Lao-Tzu or the I Ching.

Over the years North Atlantic Books/Frog, Ltd. has developed likely the most extensive list in the world of books on martial arts in the sense of the psychospiritual, yogic, therapeutic, philosophical, aesthetic, and metaphysical aspects of martial arts, and these in the context of a broader world library of sophisticated martial-arts tomes in general.  Most recently this publishing has been placed under the Blue Snake imprint that we created in 2005.

When Mark Ouimet joined North Atlantic from the executive echelons of PGW as associate publisher in 2005 (see Chapter Twenty), he set himself the immediate task of branding our books.  He asked where I thought he should begin the identification process, and I suggested that we should create an imprint for all new martial-arts titles and gradually gather our old titles under it.  In fact, I had had the notion for years, but hadn’t known how to implement it.

Mark knew what to do immediately.  Soon he was developing a Blue Snake logo and insignia, making announcement posters, reselling the backlist category and its items under the imprint, and partnering with Disney as a co-sponsor of a martial-arts tournament in Orlando.  Although the latter turned out to be nonproductive in the long run, Disney’s interest was revelatory as to the stature of our list.  They selected us as a tournament sponsor and offered a terrific bargain on the price in order to make sure we said yes.  As those guys who showed up at our office with the emblem of Mickey on the breast pockets of blue blazers informed us solemnly, “It’s not everyone who gets the endorsement of Mickey.  It’s not everyone who gets to play with the Mouse.”  Would that Mickey had had a better game in Orlando, but the message was clear.

Our martial-arts category should be distinguished from the pulp manuals of fighting methods referenced above insofar as these comprise mainly creative ways to beat people up, kill them, and commit general mayhem without regard to context, ethics, or inner development.  That is a also an established publishing rubric at about the cultural level of auto repair and lingerie.  Our martial-arts list is about the development of the internal, self-reflective heart- and spirit oriented aspects of any paradigm of fighting (or oppositional) relationship, particularly martial ones—which is why the Mouse liked us.  It is more like a psychospiritual, shamanic, or psychotherapeutic literature.

“Internal” fighting requires learning a full-blown system of visualization, ethics, and self-development along with techniques and protocols for defeating an opponent.  Our books are authentically martial in that regard and martially strategic too, yet they are martial within a philosophical, aesthetic, and social context, either individually or made so by the Blue Snake rubric (even if sometimes barely so as with, say, Martial Arts America or Vladimir Putin’s Judo, Blue Snake’s biggest “reaches”).

Blue Snake emphasizes: A) those martial arts associated with and encompassing medicinal and spiritual systems (e.g. t’ai chi ch’uan, pa kua, aikido, and the like) and B) those martial arts incorporating other arts  (e.g. capoeira, a musical and dance form generated by and incorporating fighting moves).  These emphases also means that we prioritize the medicinal, philosophical, and spiritual aspects of all martial arts, even those that are most often affiliated with kick-ass fighting techniques (karate, taekwondo, wing chung, judo, kung fu, Brazilian jiu jitsu, etc.).  In addition (C), we publish books on a number of martial arts that do not have notably internal aspects but define non-Western and/or cross-cultural traditions of warriorship, both olden and modern; these titles thus far represent indigenous Hawaii, indigenous Peru, traditional Thailand, traditional Malaysia, and modern Israel.  We are hoping someday to include Indian, American Indian, Northern European, and Persian systems as well.  Through all of these world systems we are in the process of creating a general, nondemoninational Gaian library of martial arts.

In a few instances we publish absolutely conventional martial-arts books because they are of particular interest for one reason or another.  For instance as noted both above and earlier, we published Russian president Vladimir Putin’s book Judo History, Theory, Practice in concert with a Russian-American friendship program.

T’ai chi ch’uan marked the beginnings of our martial-arts venture, as I published a small book put together by my teacher Benjamin Pang Jeng Lo in San Francisco in 1979.  That did so well that Ben enlisted me to bring out the work of his own afore-mentioned teacher, Cheng Man-Ch’ing, the most prominent Asian teacher in the U.S. in the 1970s.  As the late Cheng’s most senior student in the New World, Ben was the liaison to the Estate.

After studying with Lo for a year, I switched to his more philosophical and less rigorous co-author of Essence Martin Inn.  Thereafter I continued to train in t’ai chi with a number of different teachers, most notably the mythical Peter Ralston through the 1990s and, though I never advanced in the art to the degree I would have if I had started younger, I did something else of equivalent if not equal value: I added all of them as well as many of their associates to our list.

T’ai chi was followed at North Atlantic by aikido after I met Richard Heckler through Polly Gamble and, as detailed in the previous chapter, Richard led me to Bira Almeida and capoeira.  Capoeira is a unique mixture of dance, politics, martial arts, music, Brazilian and African mythology, and life philosophy (see also Chapter Two and our NEA capoeira grant).  Viewing Bira Almeida’s class on San Pablo Avenue in Berkeley in 1983 was one of the absolute and inspirational peaks of my publishing career.  I felt at once as if I had stumbled upon a previously undiscovered megalith or uncontacted tribe with its own totemic pantheon. I was espying an esoteric science in full regalia in a storefront on a busy urban street—the reenactment of a Afro-Brazilian shamanic ritual.  There was no book in English on capoeira at the time.[1]

Our martial-arts publishing is also characterized by the following:

•We publish more books on certain martial arts than all other publishers (at least of which we are aware) put together.  This comes out to about fifty or so t’ai chi ch’uan and t’ai-chi-ch’uan-related books, about twenty capoeira books, and eight books (either published or soon to be published) on the Israeli martial art krav maga.  For many martial artists, we are, as noted, the publisher of choice, even over commercial New York houses.

•We publish translations and new editions of the key early twentieth-century Asian texts on the Taoist martial artists (as per our consulting editor Jess O’Brien and initially under his direct stewardship when he worked at North Atlantic).

•We publish martial-arts biographies, including (most notably) a small library of books on Bruce Lee.

•We publish general books on martial-arts philosophy, for instance, Daniele Bolelli’s On the Warrior’s Path, Stuart Heller’s Dance of Becoming, Peter Ralston’s Ancient Wisdom, New Spirit, Zen Body Being, and The Book of Not Knowing, and Robert Spencer’s The Craft of the Warrior.

•We publish nonsectarian books on self-defense, such as John Townsend’s Self-Defense for Peaceable People.

•We publish martial-arts fiction and tall tales, for instance John Gilbey’s The Way of a Warrior and Jack Sabat’s Zen and the Art of Street Fighting. Note also that our failed children’s book Little Lord Farting Boy was meant as a t’ai-chi primer for young children.

•We publish a few titles on martial arts for children.

•We publish the complete opus of two major American fighters and martial-arts innovators, Peter Ralston (the controversial one-time World Champion in a free-form forerunner of Mixed Martial Arts and founder of the Cheng Hsin system) and Bruce Kumar Frantzis, Asian-educated practitioner of Taoist martial arts.  We also publish a fair selection of Pete Starr’s martial books.

•We publish books relating martial arts to other arts and practices (e.g. The Beauty of Gesture: The Invisible Keyboard of Piano and T’ai Chi by Catherine David and Aikido and the New Warrior, edited by Richard Strozzi Heckler).  Some of our capoeira books, of course, deal with music and art explicitly, while other books in our overall publishing program (for instance, Spiritual Tattoo by John Rush and Faces of Your Soul: Rituals in Art, Maskmaking, and Guided Imagery with Ancestors, Spirit Guides, and Totem Animals by Kaleo and Elise Ching, who are t’ai-chi and chi-gung practitioners) address warrior and shamanic disciplines related to martial arts.

•We publish a large and growing literature on chi gung, the core healing system in a Taoist complex that includes t’ai chi ch’uan, ba gua, and hsing-I as its fighting forms.  Bruce Kumar Frantzis is the highest-ranking Western-born lineage holders in chi gung (and we have published more than ten of his books beginning with Opening the Energy Gates of Your Body and The Power of Internal Martial Arts: Combat and Energy Secrets of Ba Gua, Tai Chi, and Hsin-i), while Kaleo Ching (Chi and Creativity: Vital Energy and Your Inner Artist) and Gilles Marin (author of Healing from Within: Applied Chi Kung in Internal Organs Treatment and Five Elements, Six Conditions: A Taoist Approach to Emotional Healing, Psychology, and Internal Alchemy) are othernotable healing-energy practitioners.  It is also worth remembering that I first encountered our bestselling author Paul Pitchford as a t’ai-chi teacher, and Healing with Whole Foods is fundamentally a Taoist compendium.  In its earliest drafts, HWWF was conceived as a nutrition book for t’ai-chi students.

•We publish and distribute packages of high-production four-color books on martial arts from overseas: karate, capoeira, judo, jiu-jitsu, etc.

A few of the nearly one hundred new martial-arts titles published since 2000: Enlightenment Through Aikido by Kanshu Sunadomari, An Obese White Gentleman in No Apparent Distress (a posthumous semi-autobiography of aikido master Terry Dobson) by Terry Dobson and Riki Moss, The 64 Hands of Bagua Zhang by Gao Jiwu and Nigel Sutton, Walking the I Ching: The Linear Ba Gua of Gao Yi Shing by Allen Pittman, The Dragon and the Tiger (two volumes of Bruce Lee biography): The Birth of Bruce Lee’s Jeet Kune Do and The Oakland Years by Sid Campbell and Greglon Lee, Capoeira 100: An Illustrated Guide to the Essential Movement and Techniques and Capoeira: The Jogo de Angola from Luanda to Cyberspace by Gerard Taylor, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (two volumes): Basic Techniques and Advanced Techniques by Fabio Gurgel, Black Belt Karate by Chris Thompson, Krav Maga: How to Defend Yourself Against Physical Assault by Imi Side-Or and Eyal Yanilov, Martial Mechanics: Maximum Results with Minimum Effort in the Practice of the Martial Arts by Philip Starr, Muay Thai (two volumes): Introductory Thai Boxing Techniques and Advanced Thai Kickboxing Techniques by Chrstoph Delp, The Complete Taiji Do: The Art of the Chinese Saber by Zhang Yun, Arnis Self-Defense: Stick, Blade, and Empty-Hand Combat Techniques of the Philippines by Jose Paman, Warrior Arts and Weapons of Ancient Hawaii by Sid Campbell, The Xingyi Quan of the Chinese Army: Huang Bo Nien’s Zingyi FIst and Weapon Instruction by Dennis Rovere, Taekwondo: A Technical Manual by Gilles R. Savoie, Hidden Hands: Unlocking the Secrets of Traditional Martial Arts Forms by Phillip Starr.
 
 

2. Somatics/Bodywork

This area is usually neglected in the book world as, on many publishing lists, it is conflated with massage, physical therapy, exercise, or even internal medicine (for instance, in anatomy-based osteopathic textbooks).  We define it discretely, addressing it as deserving its own subject area—in part as the study of the body (somatics) in contrast to the study of the psyche and emotions (psychology) and in part as the application of psychotherapy itself to the body.

Bodywork should be viewed as psychotherapy of the body as opposed to being delegated to rubrics of massage, manipulation, or exercise drills, for there is no mere uninternalized visceral corpus or emotionally dead anatomy in life forms; hence, discussions of anatomy always incorporate emotional and psychospiritual parameters. The potential range of somatoemotional literature, while not nearly as expansive as the voluminous literature arising from psychoanalysis and psychoanalytic theory, is otherwise parallel to it; that is, in regard to parameters of philosophy, aesthetics, etiology, and human nature and potential.

An astonishing richness and diversity of manual therapeutic techniques have developed cross-culturally in a way that I did not grasp while writing Planet Medicine thirty years ago, before Polly Gamble, Richard Heckler, Randy Cherner, Michael Salveson, Elizabeth Beringer, Kathy Park, Michael Wagner, and Amini Peller (among others) set me on the path (see Chapters One and Seven).  Once I began to realize the vastness of this territory, I decided, as consciously and intentionally as with martial arts, to create our own growing library and bibliography of the topic as I came upon new modalities, authors, and texts.  As we did so, projects turned out to be both complexly interrelated and subtly differentiated from one another, and the landscape took on an unforeseen range, diversity, and scope.  At the same time, I kept changing my map of the landscape in revised editions of Planet Medicine.

In that sense somatics is a literature mostly waiting to be born, its “Freud” and “Jung” classics of “somatoanalysis” yet unwritten.  It is a perfect emergent topic for us, falling between standard holistic health and some nascent academic discipline on the psychology and cultural history of the body that could ultimately extend to memes of cosmetic surgery, organ transplants, life-extension technologies, prosthetics, transsexual surgery, tattoos, piercing, self-cutting, make-up, fashion, etc.  All of these are somatics.

For instance, we publish the anthropologist John A. Rush who writes on tattooing in the context of spiritual traditions in general and the Egyptian Book of the Dead in specific.  His Spiritual Tattoo: A Cultural History of Tattooing, Piercing, Scarification, Branding, and Implants is a genre-defining book, and it is followed on our list by his opus The Twelve Gates, a map for using the Egyptian Book of the Dead in one’s own death and reincarnation practice.  Insofar as Rush himself is tattooed from head to foot with figures and schemes from Egyptian cosmology, the book is illustrated with his body’s tattoos and comes with a matching deck of cards!  Here martial arts meets somatics meets tattoo meets mortuary practices—the sort of jumble that is North Atlantic’s favorite chosen territory.

The guiding belief behind our commitment to somatics is that a change in human society has to come from a change in individuals, but individuals are not capable of personal transformation, of opening to radical new paradigms of life, unless they have a way of contacting and releasing traumas and habits locked in their bodies.[2]

Simple (and not so simple) as that.

The ultimate goal of somatic therapy is to break the link between an unexamined and rigid imprint in the mind and hardened and habitual patterning in the body.  Somatic awareness must awaken in human consciousness and enact, on a collective level, the same compassion and energetic reorganization that shamanic and psychic and naturopathic healers attempt on an individual level.

The premise is that a great deal of social and ecological damage is done unintentionally and in the service of impulses and events long dead or defunct but vestigially filled with sensation somatically.  Unless the blocks engendered by the somaticization of trauma and pain are dissolved, people are bound to repeat the same destructive deeds again and again and reproduce the same sociopathy and dysfunctional societies.  As these blocks continue to be re-somaticized in multiple quadruple, quintuple binds (and more) over time from force of habit, it is a big job and earns a thoughtful and nuanced literature.  The North Atlantic list is a bare beginning.

A post-somatic politics can evolve only after a recognition that the body politic is the body.  A publishing program dedicated to somatics entails a commitment to trying to free our species from its historic physically internalized trap before so much environmental and social damage has been done that restoration is impossible.

Somatics involves a number of very distinct domains that more and more overlap these days, as individual practitioners and healers now usually draw on diverse sources of training, becoming eclectic and syncretic in their approach and practices.  People continue to meld and rename older traditional disciples, even as they alter them by their practice.  Here are some of our baseline rubrics:

•The Western tradition of manual medicine, most notably represented by osteopathy and chiropractic and their offshoots in visceral manipulation, Polarity therapy, the different craniosacral therapies (Upledger-based and/or biodynamic), cranial osteopathy, dynamic manual interface, and Rolfing.  Rolfing is a discrete anatomically-oriented tradition with loose connections to osteopathy; our attention to it also includes such Rolfing offshoots as Structural Integration, Kinesis, anatomy trains, and Hellerwork.

•The lineage of psychotherapy-based somatic healing practices usually associated with Wilhelm Reich and his disciples, Fritz Perls’ gestalt therapy, and the practice and development of these and other related disciplines at Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California.  John Conger (Jung and Reich: The Body as Shadow and The Body in Recovery: Inquiries in Somatic Psychology)was our trail-blazing author in this area.  We plan to explore more bioenergetics and orgonomy in the future.

•Educational systems for training people in the use and reuse of their bodies.  Sometimes, in the initial development of the technique, these are dancers, actors, and/or singers.  Such systems include Feldenkrais Method, Alexander Technique, Ideokinesis, Aston Patterning, and some aspects of Continuum.  We are gradually collecting the previously published and unpublished works of Moshe Feldenkrais, the founder of the system that bears his name, in new editions under our imprint with Feldenkrais Resources as our copublisher.

•Various modalities of physical therapy usually affiliated with textbook houses such as Williams and Wilkens, Churchill Livingstone, Mosby, and Eastland Press.  We copublish a series of osteopathic textbooks by Sharon Weiselfish Giammatteo and Tom Giammatteo with their organization Dialogues in Contemporary Rehabilitation (DCR) under the category “integrative manual therapy” and a briefer series on complementary osteopathy by Alon Marcus.

•Standard somatic emotional anatomies out of mixed psychoanalytic and osteopathic traditions such as Lisbeth Marcher’s and Sonja Fiche’s signature and definitive opus developed in Denmark, Body Encyclopedia.

•Innovative systems that combine visualization, “cell talk,” massage, and self-healing (Continuum and Body-Mind Centering primary among them).

•Non-Western (usually Asian) systems of body practice, most notably chi gung and yoga.  These overlap (as noted above) with some of our martial-arts publishing.

•New Age, generally off-body somatic systems such as Reiki and Applied Kinesiology.

•We are always publishing the interfaces among somatics, martial arts, spiritual practice, shamanism, and healing, so that books on entheogens (Ayahuasca Visions by Luis Eduardo Luna and Pablo Amaringo or The Road to Eleusis by R. Gordon Wasson et al.), breathing (Nancy Zi’s The Art of Breathing and Joy Manné’s Conscious Breathing), metaphysical yoga (Leonard Orr’s Breaking the Death Habit), and a host of other topics ranging from ecomimicry to the treatment of grief should be cross-referenced into our somatics library too.  Our somatics and martial-arts lists can likewise be viewed, in the context of our overall alternative medical publishing, as different faces of the same mind-body-spirit axis.

Structural Integration practitioner Thomas Myers recently proposed to me that somatics as a whole, including both its Western and Eastern modalities and components, should be re-categorized as spatial medicine by contrast with two other related fields: chemical medicine (both pharmaceutical and naturopathic) and temporal medicine (psychoanalysis and shamanism).  Whereas, he explained, psychotherapy aims to realign people with time, somatics attempts to realign them with internal and external space (in themselves and in contact with and movement through the environment).

Our program in somatics/bodywork is also characterized by the following rubrics:

•We publish not only individual disciplines as enumerated above but titles which combine disciplines and their techniques.  In this regard we have published a series of trans-modality anthologies in conjunction with the only Ph.D. Somatics program in the country at the California Institute of Integral Studies.  These books, either edited or co-edited by Don Hanlon Johnson and Ian Grand, include Bone, Breath, and Gesture; Groundworks; and The Body in Psychotherapy.

•Even as somatics is a potential entire literature, I consider craniosacral thought to comprise its own unique emerging subliterature within the somatics coda, providing a general inquiry into rhythms, pulses, cell communication, biodynamics, and embryogenesis.  We publish each of the four distinct lineages or traditions of craniosacral therapy itself: A) the Upledger Institute’s trademarked CranioSacral Therapy; B) Hugh Milne’s Scottish osteopathic craniosacral work (we developed Hugh Milne’s two-volume classic entitled The Heart of Listening: A Visionary Approach to Craniosacral Work) as well as a single book by his training assistant, Charles Ridley (Stillness: Biodynamic Cranial Practice and the Evolution of Consciousness); C) the biodynamic system most associated with Franklyn Sills and Polarity Therapy (we publish Michael Shea’s huge Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy volumes of which three all told are planned, plus all of Franklyn Sills’ books, two of them under the title Craniosacral Biodynamics (Volumes 1 and 2); and one book by Sills’s disciple Roger Gilchrest: Craniosacral Therapy and the Energetic Body); and D) the broader osteopathic system often identified as cranial osteopathy, which overlaps with the other three and segues into our embryology publishing, e.g. my own embryogenic books and Erich Blechschmidt’s texts in proposal of a science of organ development.

•We publish many variations of somatic psychology, including those of Marion Rosen, Ian Grand, Andre Bernard, Peter Levine, Danis Bois, and Lisbeth Marcher.

•We publish anatomy books adaptable by practitioners of all somatic healing and training systems as well as by conventional medical doctors and students, many of them in a series packaged by Lotus Press of England, including The Concise Book of Muscles, The Concise Book of Trigger Points, The Concise Book of the Moving Body, The Anatomy of Stretching, The Anatomy of Pilates, etc.

We also publish unique individual anatomy texts on areas essential to bodyworkers, such as R. Louis Schultz’s The Endless Web (fascia) and Out in the Open (the male pelvis), Jeffrey Maitland’s Spinal Manipulation Made Simple: A Manual of Soft Tissue Techniques, and the original version of Bill Weintraub’s book on tendons and ligaments.

•We publish all the books by the creator of Quantum Touch, Richard Gordon and his associates (Your Healing Hands, Quantum Touch: The Power to Heal, Supercharging Quantum Touch, etc.).

•My own book, Planet Medicine in two volumes, is the only text, at least of which I am aware, that describes most of the key Western and non-Western somatic modalities while tracing their individual histories and relationships and the interweaving of them into new syncretic systems.

•We have, as noted, a strong list on Taoist chi gung as a somatic system with the works of Bruce Kumar Frantzis, Gilles Marin, and Elise and Kaleo Ching.  Our yoga list is highlighted by Yoga Beyond Belief: Insights to Awaken and Deepen Your Practice by famed teacher Ganga White; J.A. Balakrishnan’s Yoga for Stuttering, Mark Stephens’ Teaching Yoga: Essential Foundations and Techniques), Shandor Remete’s Chaya [Shadow] Yoga, and Palash Jyoti Mazumdar ‘s esoteric Circle of Fire.

3. Nutrition

Within holistic health, nutrition has been arguably our single most successful topic, particularly the guiding theme of “food as consciousness” rooted in Healing with Whole Foods by Paul Pitchford.  In 1981 when I informally talked Paul into writing a book, I did not foresee anything like what occurred.  The project was initially scoped as no more than a ninety-page manual, tentatively titled The Art of Cooking Grains and Vegetables,and it was actually meant to be ghost-written by Rebecca Lee, Paul’s then-girlfriend and disciple.  After they broke up, he took the project back and began reconceiving and rewriting it.

“Rewriting” is a mild word.  “Mutating” or “exponentializing” or “plowing under” fit better.  Pass by pass, month by month, year by year, the modest manuscript turned into a foot-tall scroll of continuous sprocketed computer paper, with tiny type covering its entire width, even the sprocket holes and lines between pages where they got in the way.  After each editing of this compendium on our end, the monster returned months later as a fatter continuous scroll.  It took over a decade of these exchanges and re-edits to produce an actual paper-and-glue inked object.  In the meantime we kept announcing, canceling, reannouncing, and canceling the title again with PGW, getting more and more frustrated,[3] as Paul remained perfectionist, persnickety, and zen to the end.

Yet he crafted his opus paragraph by paragraph, even phrase by phrase, into a reader-friendly, compassionate, Buddhist-oriented food encyclopedia and life book, launching the theme of “food as medicine, food as consciousness.”  It was well worth the time and grief  (my apologies, Paul, for my impatience).  (See also Chapter Twenty-Two for a side story.)

Many other, competing books have been written before and since, more peremptorily, with the market slurpily in mind, and they can neither squelch nor hide their condescending hoopla-hoopla tone, no matter how subtle or faux disingenuous its restraint.  Or maybe it is their pseudo-medical Big Brother/Good Hombre voice that they can’t disguise.  They want to sell more than they want to heal or teach.

Healing with Whole Foods, bottom line,was written by a committed spiritual practitioner with real compassion for his reader; with his or her health and well-being as its actual, not feigned or convenient, goal.  It reflects that commitment—Paul’s persistence and sincerity have been rewarded.  Over the ten-plus years of HWWF’s development, yes we were stymied by both the long delay and the burgeoning size of the book—but that unorthodox trajectory ended up making it a volume for the ages.  HWWF is exhaustively thorough and deliberately thought out, having earned and cultivated a gentle, humble, respectful tone that matches its content.  Paul’s mindful and deep breathing of his text could only have been carried out on its own trajectory and timetable.

The second phase of our nutrition/“food as consciousness” program encompasses the books of Gabriel Cousens, founding director of the Tree of Life Healing Center in Patagonia, Arizona.  Cousens, a Columbia University M.D., advocates more directed dietary changes than Paul Pitchford, who addresses people more gently right where they are, even if devotees of Big Macs and Coca-Cola.  Gabriel pushes hard for an immediate live-food corrective and cleansing diet, a push that gave rise, in effect and over time, to our separate live-food list.

Our dietary books by Dr. Cousens include Conscious Eating, Rainbow Green Live Food Cuisine, and Spiritual Nutrition. Like Pitchford, Cousens adopts the perspective that diet is a psychospiritual process as well as a mechanical intake system and that making changes in one’s food catalyzes parallel changes in one’s lifestyle, consciousness, spirit body, and belief system.  In this sense diet is not diet at all; it is spiritual practice.

I will add (parenthetically) that one thing I appreciate about our overall alternative medical publishing is that a number of our author/doctors—Gabriel Cousens, the late Edward Whitmont, John Upledger, and Harvey Bigelson (Doctors Are More Harmful Than Germs: The Truth About Chronic Illness) notable among among them—as well as “barefoot” healers like Paul Pitchford, Peter Levine, James Forleo, and Franklyn Sills, spend their professional hours, not writing slick marketing tomes, self-promoting, or giving talks and interviews, but treating patients.  They are not media-savvy authors or talking-head cultural gurus.  Actual healers are the mainstay of our health list.  Because they are (or were, while alive) busy practicing, they never remotely approached the world stature of an Andrew Weil or Deepak Chopra, though in theory (and with a different personality and agenda) they could have.  Weil and Chopra are invaluable for educating the public, and their messages are dead-on, but they are marketers and sales-people  at least as much as they are doctors—and their medical prowess is secondary to their education of the public.

Meanwhile, Cousens, Whitmont, et al. comprise a critical second tier of cultural spokespersons for holistic health, metabolizing books directly out of their practices.  Hopefully that doesn’t sound too grandiose.  And it is hardly limited to North Atlantic Books; we have but a tiny tiny complement of this coterie of true healers.

The major new developing category of our nutritional publishing is, as foreshadowed, raw (or live) food[4], a serious modality as well as a rapidly expanding health fad and lifestyle that began at North Alantic in the pages of Conscious Eating, its foundation text.  In fact, Gabriel and our authors Victoria Boutenko and David (Avocado) Wolfe are widely considered the godfathers and godmother of the modern live-food movement.  All three of them are spiritual teachers, with diet being simply one of their modalities.

From 2005 through 2009 we have launched an entire live-food line similar to our martial-arts and somatics lists.  This includes an all-star team of practitioners: Wolfe (Superfoods as his most recent widely popular title), Cousens, Victoria Boutenko (Green for Life, 12 Steps to Raw Foods, Green Smoothie Revolution, and Raw Family Signature Dishes), Gabrielle Chavez (The Raw Food Gourmet), Wendy Rudell (The Raw Transformation: Energizing Your Life with Living Foods), David and Annie Jubb (LifeFood Recipe Book: Living on Life Force; Secrets of an Alkaline Body, and Jubb’s Cell Rejuvenation: Colloidal Biology), Ruthann Russo (The Raw Food Lifestyle: The Philosophy and Nutrition behind Raw and Live Foods), South Africans Pete and Beryn Daniel (Rawlicious: Delicious Raw Recipes for Radiant Health), and the owners of the popular Café Gratitude (I Am Grateful: Recipes and Lifestyle of Café Gratitude, Sweet Gratitudes, and a related book, Sacred Commerce).

Our other major nutrition titles include health-oriented cookbooks and dietary guides like Everyday Vegan by Jeani-Rose Atchison, The New Seaweed Cookbook by Crystal Madeira, Macrobiotics for Life: A Practical Guide to Healing for Body, Mind, and Heart, and Galaxy Global Eatery Hemp Cookbook by Denis Cicero; metabolic diets (The Nutrition Solution by Harold Kristal and James Haig); and the only two books—other than an obscure, privately published manual—on the radical dietary and rejuvenation system called Body Electronics, which was founded in the 1970s by the late John Whitman Ray in New Zealand.  Body Electronics is a mixture of diet, body/mind/spirit cleansing, psychotherapy, and somatics.  These stand-alone books are How We Heal: Understanding the Mind-Body-Spirit Connection by Douglas Morrison and Body Electronics: Vital Steps for Physical Regeneration by Thomas Chavez.

4. Homeopathy

Homeopathy was our first nonliterary topic and our first holistic medicine.  However, here is the simple unevadable truth: The AMA serves as a total damper on homeopathy in the U.S., as it enforces a scientistic credo that microdoses created at potencies below Avogadro’s number[5] can have only a placebo effect—so forget any significant domestic sales: our homeopathy titles do far better, per capita, in Canada, England, and Australia.  The argument against homeopathy is final in the more materialistic environment of the United State, but it is less totalistic in other countries willing to entertain nonmaterial paradigms of healing.

Our homeopathy list, developed over many years since the late 1970s with Dana Ullman, includes approximately thirty titles that comprise one of the larger homeopathic libraries of any American publisher, though only one of them, one of our two animal ones ironically, is a consistently strong seller, Homeopathic Care for Cats and Dogs by the veterinarian Don Hamilton.

The most long-term influential homeopathy books we have published are those by the afore-mentioned Edward Whitmont, a Jungian psychologist who melded analytical psychotherapy with homeopathy.  Psyche and Substances: Essays on Homeopathy in the Light of Jungian Psychology is his classic of not only homeopathic prescribing but vitalistic science and archetypal thought in general, as it investigates the chemistry and psychomorphology of homeopathic remedies in the context of Jungian archetypes, excavating an arcane shadow-zone in which elemental components of molecular substances resonate with elemental psychic components.  Whitmont analyzes actual molecular substances for intrinsic psychomorphological meanings.

Another book of this author that we publish, The Alchemy of Healing, is also a therapeutic classic that crosses disciplines: it has as its central thesis that a physician—any physician in any tradition—unconsciously projects both diseases and cures, hexes and remedies on his or her patient from his own unexplored traumas, wounds, and neuroses; thus, that the psychospiritual evolution and holistic health of a doctor are as critical to the success of his/her treatments as his formal and technical training and actions.  Drawing simultaneously on alchemy, shamanism, and Jungian psychology, Whitmont tells physicians how to “heal thyselves.”   In his mind, an M.D. routinely offering a chemical substance recommended by pharmaceutical companies, with no deep understanding of the subtle workings of synthetic chemistry, telekinetic epiphenomena, or mind-body interplay is practicing a sterile and dangerous discipline, projecting grandiose attitudes and blind fantasies on his or her patients—and, I should add, violating the premises of both of Dr. Whitmont’s texts.  See my “Primary Reading List” elsewhere in this site.

Our two most successful long-term homeopathy titles regarding the diagnosis and treatment of humans are specialized ones: The Homeopathic Treatment of Children by Paul Herscu and Homeopathic Psychology by Philip Bailey.  Our most popular general title is Dennis Chernin’s The Complete Homeopathic Resource for Common Illnesses.

Other homeopathic books of note include: The Homeopathic Emergency Guide by Thomas Kruzel, Dreams, Symbols, and Homeopathy by Jane Cicchetti, A Homeopathic Guide to Partnership and Compatability by Liz Lalor (homeopathy can be used like astrology or the enneagram to match types), Homeopathic Remedies for the Stages of Life and The Spirit of Homeopathic Medicines by Didier Grandgeorge, and Ullman’s own The Homeopathic Revolution.

5. New Age

A. General

I have often defined who we are as a publisher by saying that we are not New Age.  Yet New Age is a curious concept in the sense that most publishers who are called “New Age” hate and decry the term even as they prime it for sales.  There are virtually no serious self-proclaimed New Age publishers, only spiritual, esoteric, and occult ones.  The self-proclaimed ones are basically marketing schemes using books.

North Atlantic has developed many significant so-called New Age books over the years.  In fact, we sit, willingly or unknowingly, at the heart of New Age publishing insofar as New Age publishing is, to my mind, about redefining ancient esoteric wisdom in terms of contemporary visualization, psychic energy and healing, metadimensional visions, and Earth prophecy.

I would basically consider the following as New Age Grand Central: books about spiritual experience outside of any specific spiritual lineage, religion, or philosophical tradition; channeled books and books about channeling; any material arriving from disembodied or unembodied entities and intelligence in other planes, including those who have died or ascended to other realms and those who communicate through machines, signs, and meteorological events, however metaphysically interpreted; all Reiki and off-body or extraterrestrially derived and managed healing systems; all modern and Atlantean astrology; non-Christian prophecy and Harmonic Convergence/Mayan Calendar/2012 gossip; hardcore aliens and UFOs including extraterrestrial avatars and intruders like the putative Greys; sacred geography and crop circles in both passive geometric and active energetic forms; fairies, sylphs, undines, gnomes, salamanders, and other elemental spirits; and discussions of astral projection, healing at a distance or in absentia, spirit guides, and non-biological entities and intelligences.

New Age publishing isn’t confined solely to familiar New Age themes.  In truth, it overlaps many other areas of our North Atlantic gnosis: internal martial arts and alternative healing (which both work with psychic and psychosomatic energy), traditional Eastern and Western occult systems (which are the historical forerunners of their reimaginalized New Age versions), and diet (which has a spiritual, metaphysical component in “food as consciousness,” e.g. the transition from the physical to the spiritual molecularization of templates).

In addition, much New Age material is reconceived Christian mysticism, Zen, Renaissance alchemy and magic, and shamanism adapted for modernity and mass readership. Io was sourced in such artifacts and, as such, was one of the first formative New Age journals.

We are not a New Age publisher in the sense that Inner Traditions is. Inner Traditionsis in fact the premier New Age publisher among comparable and competitive presses.  It is not that any one thing that ITI publishes is more New Age than another esoteric publisher (like us); it is that ITI has adopted a New Age rubric, look, and branding for all its books, emphasizing prophecy, affirmation, and the connection between indigenous wisdom and contemporary psychic work and channeling.  Even when it doesn’t publish distinctly New Age materials, it publishes them within a New Age vibration.

B. The Face on Mars

We are responsible for a number of key New Age books, and their most explicit public and commercial starting point for us is the “face on Mars,” whether there is in fact such an artifact or not.  In any case, the proposition is serious, the mystery (even if naively conceived and hyped) is imaginatively intriguing, and it encompasses a larger paradigm within it.  The consideration of how to search for and identify alien objects on other worlds is universally relevant, even for SETI (Search for Extraterrrestrial Intelligence) folk.

We released The Monuments of Mars: A City on the Edge of Forever by Richard C. Hoagland in 1987.  Strictly speaking, at its time of publication it was viewed more as computer-nerd/“star trekky” than New Age as such and, correspondingly, my interest in it arose out of my lifelong involvement in real astrophysical stars and planets (as a teenager, for instance, I had a scrapbook on all things Martian), and not out of my quite separate interest in the occult realms of tarot and alchemy.  In addition, the positive response I got while courting Hoagland came partly from my recent publication of The Night Sky, a book that he admired for its aspects of sober astronomy (see the previous chapter).  The “face on Mars” was distinctly not posed as New Age; it became New Age only in the way that it was received, conceptualized, subtextualized, and interpreted.  Furthermore, in the absence of the kind of data that could only be brought back by astronauts traveling to Mars, it was a static riddle unless people played with its reasons and nature metaphysically.  And that’s precisely what they did.  It was a kind of meta-astronomical, exobiological artifact that morphed into an occult symbol in order to remain an active commodity.

Once Monuments… was fervently adopted by a broad New Age audience, it became sold to that audience consistently ever since at the relative deficit of a scientific one.  Likewise, Hoagland adapted his spiel and expanded and revised the book to meet his captive market.  After beginning as Mr. NASA, Esquire, over two decades he morphed into a David Bowie-like creature increasingly more prophetic and New Age, even loony.  The Richard Hoagland we met in 1985 was a scientistic skeptic of astrology and astral realms of any design or ilk, plus he knew about them.  He was a science groupie.  The made-over Richard Hoagland lectured regularly at Whole Life Expos, discussing the denizens of other dimensions, paraphysical energies, UFOs, and 600,000-year-old Nazi tanks frozen in archaeo-time, rolling across Mars just where NASA happened to bounce-land one of its cameras.  It has gotten to the point where I can’t tell if current stuff circulating widely on the Internety about life forms and fossilized humanoids on Mars is for real or a parody of Hoagland.

When Monuments debuted in 1987, it quickly became the hottest book we had ever published.  It peaked at about 2000 copies a month in 1989-90 and has dwindled ever since, with small spikes in response to new editions or publicity hits.  For instance, Hoagland frequently appears as a guest on “Coast to Coast,” and the book always spurts a bit after he has been on the air, stirring night owls with conspiracy theories about Martians, NASA, and assorted alien visitors.  He is a very persuasive dude, almost a blend of Jimmy Swaggart and Carl Sagan.

Monuments….is, despite later revised and revisionist sections, first and foremost an “alien intelligence/life on Mars” classic.  The underlying topic is an enticing one, as geometric objects and fractally confirmed artificial-looking clusters did appear on NASA’s Martian photographs.  As alien spoors, they are far more concrete and stable than any UFO or channeled entity.  If real, they change major paradigms of the universe, not only of astronomy and astrobiology but genetics.  The face is human, primate.

The saga and drama all began in 1975 when NASA photographed a “mesa” in the Cydonia region of Mars, a worn rock of many miles length and width both, that looked suspiciously and embarrassingly (to the presiding scientists anyway) like a skyward-gazing human face.

Whatever it is or isn’t, the “face” is not an optical illusion as NASA sloppily declared at the time, but a three-dimensionally symmetrical “sculpture” of a “visage” that holds its structural integrity at different sun angles, and it breaks the fractal charts for angles and curves of artificiality.  Our later “face on Mars” author, Mark Carlotto (Martian Enigmas) was a premier U.S. Defense Department contractor for analyzing photography over the old Soviet Union then, and he liked to make pronouncements like, “If these artifacts [at Cydonia] had been photographed in Siberia, alarm bells would have been going off all over the Pentagon.”

Hoagland was a science journalist when he happened upon the Martian Sphinx while he was researching a very different and quite ordinary article on the rings of Saturn and looking for a high-resolution image-processing system that had been applied elsewhere in our Solar System.  Soon thereafter he saw the “Face” for the first time by chance, searched its vicinity and found its neighboring “City,” and then began heralding “the most important discovery of the twentieth century if not of human life on Earth: we are not alone!”

As a self-taught astronomer and planetarium nut, he was astute enough to grasp the potential of Cydonia from the moment he glimpsed its raw images on a sample slice of processed Martian datafiles.

Though subsequently underwritten by a book advance from Simon and Schuster, Hoagland never finished the project to their satisfaction, and they eventually reverted the contract.  The best part of that story—and I always get a laugh out of this—is that his exit editor at S&S, from among many he had there, claimed that there couldn’t be a statue of a face on Mars because, as she bizarrely put it, “If there were a face on Mars, the astronauts who went there would have seen it.”  The gross errors and cluelessness of scale, space history, and geography contained therein boggle the imagination.  Even if astronauts had gone to Mars (they haven’t), they would hardly have covered every acre of a land area equal to that of Earth in a visit constrained (as well) by oxygen limitations and other mechanical issues.

At revealing moments like these, one realizes that some of the neophytes who end up in commercial publishing are hardly rivals, even under the hoopla of their famous press names.  The fact that a publisher is Doubleday or Simon and Schuster does not mean that the editors there are all at the professional level of the company historically.  It is no wonder that there has been room in the marketplace for independent publishers to emerge.  At least those of us who have acquired, edited, and published for decades know our territory.  Some of the corporate publishing employees esconced in New York are naifs just out of college, young men and women who are professionally promiscuous and looking for the nearest upwardly mobile path.  The major publishers may be older and smarter in many ways than us, but their individual staff-persons can at times be arrant fools, e.g. astronauts would have seen the face on their last visit to Mars.

Hoagland actually wrote much of Monuments in LA County jail. He never should have been there, but a silly mistake, a bureaucratic oversight, in New York followed by a corrupt attorney in California apparently landed him there. As the story goes, the warden liked the Martian concept enough that he let Dick use the facility computer to work on the project (while he also wrote the kitchen manual for staff use).  In fact, once the warden got wind of the gist of his inmate’s project, he became a great supporter and encouraged his “charge from Mars” to broadcast installments of Monuments to the prison at large over the loudspeaker at night.

Bored, surly males awaited their amusement at the bewitching hour, ever in suspense for the next phase of the tale of the unknown aliens and their Martian city.  I don’t know if they laughed or cried, or even if this actually happened but, if it did, the book’s original captive audience was  a Dickens-like fan club hearkening to the nineteenth century.

Hoagland is a unique mixture of amateur scientist, genius inventor, scam artist, and performer, blending true, legitimate speculative science with his own extrapolations, tall tales, and inflations.  He is a brilliant and glorious myth-maker and a evidence-based scientist at the same.  The Face on Mars is powerful speculative science in an exobiological, archaeo-astronomical context virtually unexplored before him.

To Art Bell (and others) on late-night radio Hoagland was an ex-NASA subcontractor and genius—and he was, from central casting.  Dick’s brilliant insights and careful analysis of the Martian imaging are real stuff, organized rationally enough that many real geologists, electrical engineers, and astrophysicists have credited him with landmark discoveries.  He was also legitimately selected for a prestigious international award from a science organization: the Angström Medal for Excellence in Science from the Royal Swedish Academy of Science in 1993—a silver medallion as the discoverer of a paraphysical energy grid on Mars and other local Solar System planets.  He got the prize for taking the geometric ratios of Cydonia and applied them to planetary bodies with the promise of a source of unlimited free energy in the future while warning of a danger of exploding planets, including our one, that the Earth could go kerflueey at any time.

The compelling issue of whether there are in fact artifacts of an ancient extinct civilization on Mars will not be resolved until a manned craft lands beside the Face or some other Martian geometry.  So, for the foreseeable future, verification is a nonissue and, no matter how many times NASA rephotographs and debunks the Face as a humungous decaying rock, Hoagland’s work will remain the benchmark guide to this topic.

If the Face does not look quite so pretty these days after being subjected to merciless close-ups and NASA paparazzi runs, it still retains a curious and inexplicable symmetry, not only in its primate and lynx features but the pedestal on which the protuberance rests.  And old humanoids never look quite as beautiful again as in their youth.

Among a number of other books that we have published related to the Face on Mars are Mark Carlotto’s afore-mentioned Martian Enigmas and, most recently, The Cydonia Complex and then The Martian Codex by George J. Hass and William R. Saunders.  Their illustrated text is based on geological and artistic speculation about the relationship between structures across the entire Martian surface and “comparable” Mesoamerican artifacts.  If Hoagland created a fantastic Mars, Haas and Saunders have peopled and artifacted it as thoroughly as Edgar Rice Burroughs.  But then there still are those curious glass worms and tunnels that even the wary Arthur Clarke considered a smoking gun for Martians.  And if not, what are they exactly?  (See the back cover of the revised Monuments for an image.)

I have no idea what any of this means, but it does at very least have to do with “meaning” itself, “meaning” at the heart of life and the heart of the universe.  Like crop circles and UFOs, the “butterfly” and “mirror” Martian morphologies and designs that Saunders and Hass have “discovered” or derived speak to, take your pick, an archetypal principle more primordial than any culture or intelligence, the remnants of a civilization with that mythical unlimited budget (plus a symbolic inclination), or a kaleidoscopic means of producing artforms out of geologies—the elusive Martian (not martial) arts (with intelligence only on this side of the camera unfortunately: intelligence and a healthy gullible imagination).

Carlotto’s more traditional scientific work appeared in the early 1990s and represented the acme of Martian photographic data analysis at the time.  His Martian Enigmas was the most scientific account and stood until a new generation of NASA satellites began reimaging the Red Planet and a new generation of astrophysicists began ignoring the Face as their parents’ generation’s mirage and a hoax of the sort of Piltdown Man.

More traditionally astronomical among our authors from the Mars-elicited crowd is the late retired Naval Observatory astrophysicist Tom Van Flandern.  The Martian Face and City occupy only a small portion of TVF’s North Atlantic legacy (satellite orbits and the Big Bang are more central), but they are what got him to us, and even those represented a smaller portion of the Martian whistle-blowing he would have done if he thought he could ring a loud enough bell and wake up the producers on Larry King and Oprah.

As it is, TVF has created a different sort of masterpiece.  Focused on his specialty of celestial mechanics, Dark Matter, Missing Planets, & New Comets: Paradoxes Resolved, Origins Illuminated has gone through four printings, a popular Japanese edition, and two revisions, as it ranges from relativity theory and the Big Bang to Neptune’s eccentric moon Nereid and the search for Planet X.  Van Flandern’s book is pure astrophysical entertainment that lovers of celestial puzzles have founbd irresistible; it sold well but not at a level that satisfied the author, so I never got him to forgive us our “failure” or to write the definitive, astronomically-sanctioned (Ph.D. and all) mind-blowing book on the Face.  Instead he departed with his secrets.

C. Nothing In This Publishing Company is True (Blue Indigo)

At the time that I met Bob Frissell in 1992, Monuments of Mars was still our all-time best-selling book.  Although I contacted Bob solely as a rebirther who had a listing in the local practitioners’ Common Ground, I soon discovered that this Fargo native and former all-star bowler had a priceless New Age rap, sort of like Everyman in Oz.  It included—in fact featured—Hoagland’s Face on Mars.

For a while I went once a week to Bob’s Oakland apartment for the ten-session (and then some) rebirthing sequence, performing the excruciating array of connected unified breaths, hyperventilations, and affirmations, thanking the universe for having gotten me to this pickle.  Then, as I lay recuperating each time with a blanket wrapped around me, we talked Mars Mars Mars.

Bob was a charming naïf, a latter-day pilgrim in search of a grail who seemed to have walked out of a Coen Brothers movie.  After studying rebirthing with the founder of the technique, Leonard Orr, he then took the Flower of Life workshops from their self-anointed (and self-renamed) avatar, Drunvalo Melchezidek.  Frissell melded Drunvalo’s psychic spaceships with Orr’s trauma-releasing breathwork to fabricate his own cosmology in which the Face on Mars played a central role as the insignia of the tragic Lucifer Rebellion on the Red Planet, a psychic upheaval that spread to Earth.

The Lucifer Rebellion was the penultimate self-betraying deed of a civilization of misguided alien immigrants to Mars who trapped themselves (and later the Earth) in a mentality of mechanism, materialism, and spiritual alienation, forfeiting our birthright to ostensibly inalienable psychic and telekinetic powers and cosmic intelligence and stealing our capacity to leave secular Newtonian space and travel through our home universe.

Frissell offers the antidote to, machine-dominated consciousness: breathing your own spacecraft (a merkabah) out of and around your aura in order to switch dimensional location, escape the Earth, and soar through the astral realms, using as propellant—what else?—the fuel and vibration of pure love.

Pulling in all manner of conspiracy theories from the Secret Government to time-dislocated refugees of the Philadelphia Experiment (one of whom, according to Bob, even stumbled into the New York Jets training facility on Long Island and was befriended by then-coach Pete Carroll), Frissell proposed both a core transdimensional shift based on the Mayan calendar and a personal Rapture mediated through the connected, affirmed breaths of the ancient immortal yogis—and the extragalactic geometrical breath hierarchy of the Flower of Life that Drunvalo used to journey from the other side of the universe to here, a journey occurring over millions of years.  As Bob put it, “He spent a long time getting here, so he is presently in no hurry to leave.”

From the moment that this intensely sincere but goofy North Dakotan began regaling me with such stuff in a matter-of-fact manner as though cooking fondu, I found his riff fascinating and revivifying, though I took it with a magnitude of salt.  The schema was at worst a brilliant metaphor for personal transformation and a way to conceptualize our cosmic and spiritual plight.  As a publisher meanwhile, I saw a potential book of such zaniness that, if we could pull it off, it would be almost like a wonderful prank.  Then gradually, with the aid of Bob’s girlfriend and our editor Kathy Glass, I helped him turn his dictated notions into a rough manuscript, a thing he wanted to call Internal and External Merkabas, though for the life of me I couldn’t think of anything better.

Then one afternoon I took Lindy’s and my then-seventeen-year-old daughter to meet Bob and hear his spiel.  She listened patiently for over an hour and, on the way back to the car, remarked, “Nothing he says is true, but it’s exactly how things are.”[6] What a great line!  I played with it in my mind until I got a viable title out of it and then I convinced Bob to change to Nothing in this Book is True, But It’s Exactly How Things Are. The wonderful thing was that he had a gracefully ironical view of himself and a full-blown sense of humor.  He didn’t need much convincing; he loved it too.  In fact, over the next fifteen years, he built his whole subsequent enterprise and empire around branding by that Nothing in This Book…. phrase.

Miranda had come up with the perfect epigraph for not only the book but our New Age publishing and the entire New Age.  Only if one is light and playful around apocalyptic and cosmic-conspiratorial omens can we feel both credulous and incredulous, hopeful and inspired.  The point is not to test every wild premise literally but to use them and the wonder and terror. they evoke to arrive at a transformational belief system reflecting more profound but indisputably real paradoxes and mysteries at the heart of the actual strange universe.

To the astonishment of all, myself not least, Nothing…. sold two small print runs almost instantly, as it earned an incredibly positive review in the freak techy mag Wired. Although its major sales were in the 1990s, it continues to be a successful cult classic, having sold over 300,000 copies lifetime.  Bob’s sequels, Something in This Book Is True…. and You Are a Spiritual Being Having a Human Experience are now each approaching 100,000.  Mr. Nothing has become his own institution and publishing category, giving far-out workshops at New Age gatherings and teaching his exotic and ever-morphing conflation of rebirthing and the Flower of Life…a long way from those first conversations and that apartment in Oakland.

A couple of years after we published Frissell, I got a phone call from the maven of rebirthing, Leonard Orr, who declared with evident pique, “If you can do that [make a bestseller] for my poor student, what could you do with the master himself?”  Trouble was that the master wasn’t a charming naïf and had already enjoyed considerably more than his fifteen minutes of rebirthing fame.  Nonetheless, using the same editor, Kathy Glass, we improvised some of Orr’s rambling manifestos about immortal yogis and their practices into Breaking the Death Habit: The Science of Everlasting Life, a reformulation of the yoga of rebirthing as a working model and tool for regular-guy-and-gal immortality.  These were essentially the same techniques employed by the great Indian saints including the most famous of all deathless, timeless superstars, Babaji.

Soon after we published Breaking the Death Habit, Wynn Free, one of Drunvalo’s more active scribes on his Flower of Life website, offered us a manuscript by and about a hot young rookie psychic whose life and work startlingly replicated the biography of the legendary medium and psychic healer Edgar Cayce.  David Wilcock in his early thirties had already developed a noisy following.  The book we published via Wynn was titled The Reincarnation of Edgar Cayce?:  Interdimensional Communication & Global Transformation. Wilcock’s prophecies, channeled messages, and philosophy are remarkable in themselves, but then there are uncanny parallels between his and Cayce’s life, as Wynn spells out.

Wynn Free (AKA Edwin Friedlander), an unrepentant New Ager, first impressed this manuscript on us with unseemly urgency to get it published, bandying hoopla along the lines of “this is going to be the best-selling book of all time and it will even challenge the Bible.”  Then he rudely and abruptly withdrew it when he thought he had established a line to get it published by New York bestseller machine Judith Reagan, Mayor Giuliani’s girlfriend of the time.  That seemed almost as unlikely as the Bible challenge, and I told Wynn such and forgot about him and his book.

Two months later, without notice or forewarning, he parked his living-room hippiemobile outside our office, slept there overnight, and appeared at our doorstep upon an employee turning the key at nine AM to attempt to show penance for “my terrible mistake of hubris,” as he put it.  “What can I do to prove my sincerity?”

It didn’t require such drama.  Just as every author is seduced in his mind by fantasies of appearing on Oprah, so is every author convinced that he or she has a Judith Reagan lurking somewhere and longing to hear from them and make their fortune.

Since the Wilcock/Cayce success, Edwin the Free has delivered New Age works to our portal beyond our margins of credulity, claiming now to be himself the reincarnation of Joseph Smith and Benjamin Franklin combined and, with his muse the damsel Daphne, to be channeling interstellar deities.  We elected not to publish The Daphne Papers, though it is about as over-the-top a jumble of New Age troubadour love quest (initially unrequited) qua “we come from outer space” as you can get, at least since the days when we published Wayne Turiansky’s Sand Cast. In that sense, no, we are not a New Age publisher.  A more recent chapter to “The Reincarnation of Edgar Cayce and Wynn Free” appears on this website under the title “Kaua’i Notes 2010.”

Crop circles are significant because they contain an unsolved mystery but also because they may be a harbinger of a cosmic and/or psychospiritual agency from beyond our realm.  Since the world is in dire need of a paradigm shift or a catalyst for unlocking human potential, these spontaneous patterns in grainfields offer something potentially paraphysical (if not hoaxes) that is truly on the ground—explicit and irrefutable.

North Atlantic has been responsible for three fully illustrated color books on crop circles: The Deepening Complexity of Crop Circles: Scientific Research and Urban Legends by Dutch physicist Eltjo Haselhoff; Vital Signs: A Complete Guide to the Crop Circle Mystery and Why It is Not a Hoax by Andy Thomas with a foreword by British film-maker Mike Leigh; and Crop Circles: The Bones of God, a probing inquiry at the deepest forensic and meta-semantic levels by architect Michael Glickman.

Most crop circles are at very least not hoaxes.  They are well beyond the capacity and ingenuity of Doug and Dave and their hypothetical colleagues to devise, say, on the guarded lawns of Andrew Lloyd Weber or behind security fences in Russia.  Either they are messages transmitted on Earth (or from elsewhere) by an unknown psychic microwave technique, or they are coming neutrally from a disembodied and/or extraterrestrial intelligence, or they are the detritus of a natural, meta-meteorological sort of recurrent and regionally inclined vector that science has not pinpointed.  Any way you look at it, they are a major, open mystery (heavily disposed to the English lei-line countryside)—and BTW forget any movie that has Joaquin Phoenix thumping their makers over the head with a baseball bat.  That’s about as yahoo and uninformed as it gets.  Of course, they could still be hoaxes, but that would be one hell of an international conspiracy.

Regarding the hoopla around crop circles and purported hoaxes I will enclose a piece of a description of a conference that I attended in 2008 at the Abode of the Message Sufi Center:

My own panel opened awkwardly, as Paul Devereux gave a stuffy speech during which he offhandedly dismissed crop circles as a ruse, saying he knew who did them (‘All of them, all over the world?,’ I wondered—more on that later).

I gave my talk midway through.  I thought it went well.  When I stood up, my head was clear (I had been struggling with a migraine), I felt confident, it was like a sudden window in the clouds.  Mine was the least academic presentation of the cosmology panel, and  I got good support from the audience plus a bunch of questions—all but one legitimate.  In that instance this guy  got up and ate into my ten minutes making a ridiculously inappropriate speech about pacificism on a ruse of refuting something I said, which he wasn’t; it was an utter non sequitur. I finally asked him what his question was.  He just went on.  Then I said, “Do you have a question or do you just want to give a speech?”

He looked miffed and said, “I have something important to say.”

I said, “Then why don’t you come up here and join us?”  I pointed to the dais.

He shook his head and promptly sat down.  I was kind of surprised that I said that, but I was running on fumes and felt a rush of energy in holding my space with some sort of honor.

The rule of our panel was that Paul Devereux’s wife rang a bell when your ten minutes were up, so she cut off everyone in turn (except William Irwin, see below).  Paul Devereux was the only one who overrode the bell, being ha-ha funny by saying, “I don’t have to mind her,” and stealing an extra five minutes.  When I was at about nine minutes, Lindy raised her hand and proposed a question that would have drawn me into a brewing controversy about direct sacred activism versus social theory. I wanted no part of it in my remaining thirty seconds, so I said, “Now that’s even worse than a wife with a bell.”  Then the bell rang.  It made for a humorous closing

William Irwin Thompson, whose work I have always admired, is a leprechaun-like Irish man, more than a bit surly and sarcastic and also mega-arrogant.  He has written some amazing books (google him if you are curious), including At the Edge of History and The Time It Takes Falling Bodies to Light. He closed our panel by giving a brief (three-minute) exegesis on the history of Earth and its life forms and civilization, from the first bacterium to global culture, and then he concluded, “That’s the whole thing, and I didn’t even use my ten minutes.  There!”  It was a tour de force.  My respects, Bill.

Here is a further development in the incident regarding Paul Devereux and crop circles and me, an email exchange with our NAB Crop Circles author Michael Glickman:

Date: Sun, 31 Aug 2008 07:49:57 -0700

Subject: Event today

From: chard@northatlanticbooks.com

To: michaelccr@hotmail.com

Lindy and I are at a conference launching a new Sufi University in New Lebanon, NY.  Yesterday I was on a panel with a variety of speakers including William Irwin Thompson and a man named Paul Devereux who, entirely out of the context of the discussion, chose to attack crop circles and call them a fraud and say that he knew who was doing them.  I approached him this morning on the breakfast line to discuss the matter, mainly out of curiosity, and I provoked a bizarrely aggressive attack on me.  He acted like some sort of stuffy British dean rather than a participant in a goofy spiritual conference.  I merely indicated that no one really knew their cause, but he said that he did.  He refused the notion that he was merely one of many competing voices and said that I was the victim of a fraud perpetrated for the sole purpose of making money.  He said that Michael Glickman and Andy Thomas were conmen and in on the fix.  I replied, “If I were the judge and had no firsthand experience of the crime, then you are merely the lawyer for one of the vying parties.”  At that comment he got apoplectic, said he was not a lawyer (also missing my point), and again insisted that he had the truth and I was gullible and, in addition, being unpleasant.  His wife then chimed in, accusing me of siding with those who were ecologically destroying the Earth and said it was people like me causing the planet to be in such peril.  How? I asked. “Because you are upholding lies and deceit,” she said.  I found their vehemence astonishing and rude.  Finally Devereux patted me on the back condescendingly, said, “Have a good life,” and walked away.

On 8/31/08 9:30 AM, “Michael Glickman”        <michaelccr@hotmail.com> wrote:

Dear Richard,

Thank you for your amusing, but ultimately tragic, tale.

I read it through to John Michel who knows Devereux personally and was not at all surprised. He characterizes him as an envious and embittered fascist.

Personally, I am very encouraged by the desperate vehemence of these people.  I am always reassured when they become disproportionately animated.  This—more than anything—proves that they are wrong!

yours, Michael

For pure sacred geography itself we have published guidebooks to two major sites: The Mystery of the Serpent Mound by Ross Hamilton (an Indian mound east of Cincinnati, Ohio, off Highway 73) and The Secrets of the Avebury Stones by Terence Meaden (a Stonehenge-like site in England).  We have also published a lively book on astral projection: Portals and Corridors: A Visionary Guide to Hyperspace Portals and Corridors: A Visionary Guide to Hyperspace by Monica Szu-Whitney and Gary Whitney.  This includes delightfully grotesque and also elegant color paintings of bizarre creatures encountered by the authors during travels in the astral realm.

Reiki tends to fall in between old-fashioned somatics and New Age psychic healing, as it is 1) a system of healing by off-the-body “massage”; 2) an elaborately ritualized form of energy transfer; 3) a way to tap a dimension not recognized by science in order to bring about molecular and psychosomatic change; and 4) channeled participation in healing on Earth and in this plane by disembodied entities.

Reiki is the ultimate New Age science and medicine.

For a long time we didn’t have a Reiki book, and I felt deprived, as I envied those of other publishers.  So in 2002 I jumped at the opportunity to publish Barbara Emerson’s Self-Healing Reiki when it arrived unsolicited out of the blue.  It contained supposedly proprietary and secret information in a nonmystical, straightforward format, requiring neither the purchase of an expensive initiation nor hoodoo passwords.  It took Reiki out of its cultish, voodoo context.  Our second book in this topic, Reiki: The True Story: An Exploration of Usui Reiki by Don Benson, is another instance of a practitioner offering techniques and landmarks while transforming them through his own system into something accessible.  Benson made the transition from Buddhist meditation, where he was coming up empty, to Reiki, where the entire inner frequency suddenly opened up to him.

Dolphins are a central New Age/New Science habitant, and our most shamanic sea mammals are presented not in a separate book but in Lessons Out of School, the autobiography of John Upledger in which he presents craniosacral and energy-healing sessions with attending dolphin aides.

We have also published one encyclopedic New Age dolphin-intelligence book: Souls in the Sea: Dolphins, Whales, and Human Destiny by Scott Taylor, a compilation that hits both the nature/ecology niche and the broad New Age interspecies-intelligence community.

In more recent years, a variety of new mystics, prophets, and psychic practitioners have arrived at North Atlantic by a variety of paths and prompts, usually within six degrees of separation.  One of our psychology authors directed the wandering Alaskan channeler, itinerant scribe, whitewater raft guide, airline pilot, caribou hunter, and hydrogen-technology expert Alights on Cloud True Blue Indigo to North Atlantic.  In True, Book of the Courtier meets Eckhart Tolle to produce a manuscript that is both Indian-Hippie and Italian Renaissance, about the beauty and graciousness of the old forms of etiquette and classic virtues of the soul.  Presented as an antidote to the self-absorption of modern culture and the moralizing of the religious Right, A Personal Aristocracy: Cultivating the Power of Spiritual Nobility is as unlikely a guide to dignity, honor, reverence, truth, and right living by as unlikely an author as you will find.  Unfortunately the readership hasn’t been there, and True has fallen on hard times trying to promote his work and its practice from his traveling van.

Jess O’Brien emailed me the work of a young tantra teacher, occult musician, and pilgrimage-leader whose agent, Ja-Lene Clark, had submitted the book to his present employer, New Harbinger—not what they publish.  Padma Aon Prakasha is an Indian-born, now London and Hawaii dweller who has been the medium for an astonishing variety of messages.  Inner Traditions is publishing his book on the Shakti circuit (18 Pathways to Your Divine Woman), an experiment in cultivating the kundalini.  Findhorn Press had already contracted his next book, The Christ Blueprint: 13 Keys to Christ Consciousness. Ja-Lene wanted us to take on Holographic Communication, Padma’s illustrated manifesto of light, color, and sound, ancient and modern, but we wanted “in” at an earlier phase if we were going to get involved.  I did not want to follow two accessible, low-priced books with an expensive four-color encyclopedia, especially without even knowing if the author would sell.

After negotiations that would have done the GMs of the Boston Red Sox or the Minnesota Timberwolves proud, I managed to secure the North American rights for The Christ Blueprint from Findhorn, essentially a UK publisher, and also, with Findhorn as recompense for their concession, the rights to two other Padma books: Holographic Communication and Nine Eyes of Light: Ascension Keys from Egypt. Findhorn yielded on North America for The Christ Blueprint but gained two other books for which we paid the advance, and we got an entry into the potential Padma market with a book about the many facets and archetypes of Christ Consciousness distributed throughout the modern world.  Elsewhere, in response to this manuscript, I wrote:

“Christ no longer plans on reincarnating, but his blueprint is there to assemble, injected into Earth potentiation in soul-seeds, Mary and Joseph among them; even Judas and the anti-Christ are aspects of the Christ blueprint.  Whatever Christ phase we seem to fathom, we move instantly beyond it into the unknown.  The true Apocalyptic Christ-evolution is deeper and more foundational than anything we planned for, foresaw, or knew how to depict…”

We also followed up with Thierry Bogliolo, publisher of Findhorn, who was originally miffed at us for inserting ourselves in this and other deals going back a decade, in further collaborations on X7 and craniosacral therapy.

D. Parapsychology

We have generated a number of parapsychology books, the most prominent ones being Jule Eisenbud’s classic, Parapsychology and the Unconscious and Jean Millay’s Multidimensional Mind: Remote Viewing in Hyperspace, a project funded by The Institute for Noetic Sciences.  Neither was notably commercial, but both were important in the field in their own different ways.

Eisenbud appeared first in an interview in Io/14, the third Earth Geography Booklet. There he proposed, in an extension of Freudian logic to the paranormal realm, e.g. that our weaponry and wars were a grotesque attempt to suppress our latent psychic powers—that we tended toward overkill with bombs and tanks to conceal from ourselves our dread capacity to slaughter with our mere naked minds.  I used his conceit as a seminal item in Planet Medicie in the sections on voodoo death and shamanic initiation.  For what it’s worth, Parapsychology and the Unconscious has a delightful one-of-a-kind music-playing ghost and some mindbending remote viewings.

Russell Targ, not our author (as least not yet), is the world champion of remote viewing, having worked for Stanford Research Institute for thirty years, some of it doing imaging or, more often, overseeing the imaging by other talented viewers, of Soviet and Chinese military installations for the Defense Department.

Years ago Russell approached me with a project over the phone, but I didn’t “get” him; he seemed arrogant and narcissistic, openly boasting of being both Dzogchen master and an advanced physicist when, in fact he came off more like an aggressive, vain, needy author with a book to sell.  Real combo avatars don’t talk that way—so I gave him a wide berth.

I was wrong.  I misread him, and he took his book, and his subsequent books, elsewhere (Hampden Roads and New World Library).

What I missed was that Russell is a true eccentric beyond niceties or courtesies; he a bit of a rube, a physics-nerd persona through which a real seeker radiates.  That reality manifested years later when I met him again, in person this time, in Los Angeles, by chance (or telepathic set-up) at my Aunt Suzanne’s salon.[7] I realized then that Russell regarded Dzogchen and Zen texts as a physicist might approach quantum-mechanics equations—dispassionately with an eye for the inner causations and the truth.  In that sense (and that alone), he is a Buddhist master.

Russell is invaluable, and I hope we shall do books by him someday, for he is blending an aspect of the most advanced Buddhist inquiries with the most advanced physics research.  As a working technology guy he is no slouch either: after a devastating Dallas airline crash he developed a program conferring on aircraft the capacity to detect and elude wind shear.

In any case he melds his scientific acumen with his empirical and Dzogchen inquiry into the mystery of our nonlocal existence in time and space, an uninvented-as-yet post-Einsteinian physics that is made necessary by the inexplicable Remote Viewing and Psi capacity of ordinary people.  That is what Russell was trying to tell me the first time; only he said it far too directly and assertively for me to hear it, so it sounded immodest.  He was too transparent, so I heard him as faux disingenuous.

As he himself puts it, “My interest in ESP has been more physics-oriented than from the standpoint of human potential.  My feeling is that it tells us something very important about the nature of the world we live in, rather than something special about ourselves.  My passion these remaining days is not necessarily to understand precognitive dreams, but rather to understand causality as it is contradicted by precognition.  If I can know something days before it is randomly chosen, then there is something wrong with our linear view of causality—which is a pretty big thing to have wrong.”

Who are we?  Where are we?  And whatz happ’nin?

 

The other significant parapsychology-related books that we have published are by our old Io/1 reader from Amherst, Jon Klimo, a psychologist in Berkeley now (see Chapter Two).  Our three by Jon thus far are Channeling: Investigations on Receiving Information from Paranormal Sources; Suicide: What Really Happens in the Afterlife; and Handbook to the Afterlife, the latter two co-written with Pamela Rae Heath.  The hefty text of Suicide includes channeled interviews with those who took their own lives, including suicide bombers expecting their reward of 72 virgins, and assorted other fanatics and terrorists.  The upshot seems to be that some of them were disappointed and regretful while others were still glad they did it, but all were disoriented and confused when they encountered the karma of their acts and the actual in-your-face afterlife as explicit and unexpected in its own way as life itself.  Nowhere was the ideologized mythology on the basis of which they took their bon voyages. Same for other suicide practitioners.

Kilmo and Health both have many other books on channeled communications in the works, including channeled technology and inventions from elsewhere in the universe, channeling through machines (old-fashioned gramophones to Apple digital devices) but particularly machines that talk like radios and televisions, and general extraterrestrial sources of information and confused transpersonal texting.  These may lie in NAB’s future.

In 2003 we published a unique New Age biography, Dreaming in Real Time: The Shanti Shanti Story by Linda Forman, complete with a musical CD of the group.  It never sold much at all, but it has filled a niche in the larger North Atlantic logos.

I discovered Shanti Shanti when they performed at an Ayurvedic banquet in Berkeley to which I got invited by Vijaya Stallings, a professor at JFK University who had used Planet Medicine in his courses, a guy who was a Green Beret and then a Colorado real-estate mogul before he had a midlife career change.  The kind of North Atlantic reader we should run American Express style ads with!

Shanti Shanti is a pop, mostly a capella duo of two young girls, Andrea and Sara Forman who astonishingly, according to their mother (and the book’s author), began reading and speaking Sanskrit spontaneously as young children.  They revealed this talent first by picking up Linda’s bilingual books and reading the “wrong” (Devanagari) sides of pages, something that seemed totally normal to them.  Eventually Linda  break this piece of news to her husband, and his first response was, in her words, “one of those defining comments that is immortalized the instant it’s uttered: ‘I think we have a major problem.’”

Both girls went on to sing Hindu chants as well their own Sanskrit soft rock and folk music, sometimes joined in their band by their dad, a former Country & Western star, and their brother.  They performed at various spiritual functions and accompanied Deepak Chopra at conferences, the Dalai Lama at talks, and the hugging saint, Amma Amritanandamayi at group sessions—and of course they created their own pop venues.

Our book is the mother’s account of how the girls’ gift manifested and the parents came to understand and nurture it.   Not everyone will take this story at face value, but it is a classic New Age odyssey.  Plus, for years, Shanti Shanti had been on the verge of breaking out into national recognition.  With their fresh movie-star look, they were the anti-Britney Spears, the compassion-based antidote to Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton, and those Reality Television divas.[8] During a brief window before the girls grew up and went on their separate paths Shanti Shanti manifested the feminine spirituality and anima that these other performers warp and distort to create marketable erotic personas and achieve fame.  Of course the same divine archetype underlies both sets of female performers, just different forms, different manifestations.

Since Andrea Forman has broken off on her own from Shanti Shanti, she is now (she told me) working a book which teaches the roots and spiritual meanings of Sanskrit.

E. How The Whole World is Conspiring….

Our premier New Age book has to be is the Antidote for Paranoia: How the Whole World is Conspiring to Shower You With Blessings by Rob Brezsny.  I have known Rob from 1972 at Goddard College where he was a student and I was on the faculty and I have followed his career as poet, raconteur, performance artist, rock musician, and astrologer ever since.

Brezsny pulls together a lot of different literary and pop-cultural threads and transforms them into his own “crazy wisdom” mantra.  He founded two iconic music groups, Tao Chemical and World Entertainment War—the latter represented at the end of his life by Bill Graham who promised Rob that he was going to make WEW as big as The Grateful Dead, and then, as collateral on his vow, took off his pants and handed them to Rob, a variation on a cliché: “I won’t give you the shirt off my back, but….”  Sadly his helicopter hit power lines north of San Francisco before he had a chance.

Rob is also the guy whom Tom Robbins called “the future of American literature.”  Now neither a Rolling Stone superstar nor a literary darling, he is primarily high priest of his own internationally syndicated astrology column (Roboscopo in Italy).

We published Rob’s writing first in Io in 1978:his “Qabalistic Sex Magick for Shortstops and Second Basemen” was the defining piece, the indispensable gem at the heart of Baseball I Gave You All the Best Years of Life; one reviewer referred to it as “so far out it must have been written on Mars.”Twenty-two years later under Frog, Ltd., we published Rob’s first novel, The Televisionary Oracle, which he took on a national tour, blending his “band” persona with his calling as a novelist—but then that was precisely what the book was about: a magical realist account of a rock star parleying personal alchemy and occult transformation

Pronoia…. is a New Age masterpiece, an oversized compendium of prayers, spells, affirmations, tidbits, news items, etc., collated on the premise that the universe is friendly and life is a game created for illumination and inner development.  Brezsny carries this conceit off at a level of intelligence, esoteric depth, and wry ribaldry.  See his preface to my book The Bardo of Waking Life for a further exposition of the Pronoia thesis.

Rob’s pronoic motto and koan point to the fact that there is somehow a whole deeper layer to our New Age publishing that is just now blossoming after gestating latently for decades since Io. It wasset in motion at last by a karmic offshoot of the PGW bankruptcy, an event that almost scuttled us but instead seems to have vibrated us to a different octave (see also Chapter Twenty).

It starts, in my mind, with our old friend Lonsdale.  Astrologer and anthroposophist Ellias Lonsdale is a long-time author and a teacher and visionary of millennial significance who, as noted elsewhere, doesn’t sell a whit.  He is the nearest present earthly vibration to Rudolf Steiner, both in the tenor of his vision and the core meaning of his cosmological system.  Being of this post-Steiner era, he did not have to write a whole encyclopedic mythology and science to actualize his seerdom or fulfill his destiny.  Even so, there is enough written material by Lonsdale to fill ten books, but we have produced only four so far because of a paucity of readers.  We are in a holding pattern, accepting that we represent the opus of a major mystic but one without a portfolio or following here.  Just recently (2011) we have begun work with a group of Lonsdale aficionados who have their own press in Ohio at bringing out his whole dormant opus, Christ Letters and Future Keys among them.[9]

The Ellias titles that we have published so far are Star Rhythms (an Io anthology), Inside Planets, Inside Degrees, Inside Star Vision, and, to my mind, the most powerful channeled transmission about the nature of death since the Tibetan and Egyptian Books of the Dead and Dante’s Divine Comedy, at leastin this planet’s literature: Book of Theanna: In the Lands that Follow Death.

Lonsdale believes implicitly and with second sight that the single-most breakthrough awaiting sentient life on Earth is a coming dissolution of the veil between those who are alive and those who have died, which is only superficial if trenchant and habitually reinforced.  He considers that barrier a massive, trancelike delusion that unconsciously sets our materialistic and short-sighted civilizational agenda and traps us in a false worldview that makes it impossible to address our human and ecological plight.  He once offhandedly remarked to me,“People don’t get it: The dead are not merely somewhere else, being weird, while we’re here having fun.”  He also commented, “The trance we are all in is not an accidental effect of civilization; it is civilization’s main purpose and goal.”

WhenI asked him why he thinks his books don’t sell, he sighed and offered, “People want ‘Into the light!  Into the light!’  They don’t want to hear that we’ve got problems and work to do, that it’s not all beautiful and they’re going to float happily in enlightenment, that there are some serious complications.  They want to be inspired and reassured.  They don’t want to know what it’s actually like.”

Lonsdale’s small coterie of fans holds him in avatar-like esteem as a psychic and channeler, and  I consider him one of NAB’s two or three seminal authors, a throwback to the old masters—Paracelsus, Meister Eckhart, Gurdjieff.  He speaks a real and original gospel rather than some medley of ornate Aquarian images gussied up in the habitual language of sales and marketing—something that even many supposed great psychospiritual teachers fall into without realizing it.  Lonsdale is not into sales of any sort, even metaphysical ones.  Yet he dwarfs Eckhart Tolle and Ken Wilber in the way that Pulp Fiction dwarfed Forest Gump, while losing all the awards, or the way that Al Gore should have dwarfed GWBush.  The soul of our publishing is to put out books by prophets like Lonsdale, whether they develop a salubrious rate of movement or not.

In any case, on December 2006, on the day of the PGW bankruptcy, a new line of esoteric books began appearing at our doorstep, and the first of them was an account of Ellias’ teaching by one of his disciples, Mark Borax.  It had a title then that read something like A Seer Dancing on the Edge of Infinity, and it was a completely rewritten version of a manuscript that I had rejected three years earlier as sentimental, solipsistic, and gaudy, with virtually no redeeming qualities other than its quotes from Lonsdale.   I know that sounds harsh, but that’s what Mark asked me for—an honest critique.  At his request I typed uncensored aggravations and wake-up calls across the pages of his file: comments like “Delusional,” “Psychobabble,” “Romantic self-aggrandizement,” “Banal confessionalism,” “Ungallant sexual boasting,” and “People Magazine mysticism.”  I didn’t think I’d ever see it again, and yet it chose the darkest day in our history to reappear at our door (again, see Chapter Twenty).

On 12-26-06 Borax’s self-indulgent bleat was, in truth, the last thing I wanted to find on my desk, but it was really the only thing that belonged on my desk, for it was the shadow of the PGW bankruptcy in its most redemptive and restorative sense.  Our survival and future were both threatened and revealed to us at the same time.

It took me about a month to understand the esoteric circumstance and another year to figure out how to bring it to fruition (the inimitable Kathy Glass became its line editor and midwife).  In 2008 we finally published a complete transmutation of “The Guy Dancing on Infinity” as 2012: Crossing the Bridge to the Future.

Almost as soon as I committed to Borax’s occult memoir, a slow but steady procession of unprecedented, extraordinary books about reincarnation and communication with spirits and extraterrestrial entities began to arrive from unlikely and unalike sources.

The next visitor was a book from an Arizona advertising executive: By Your Side Forevermore.  The author, Mark Ireland, is the son of one of the leading psychics of the twentieth century, the late Richard Ireland.  But his father was not at home for the latter part of Mark’s childhood, so he grew up in a normal American household without particular affiliation with or belief in telepathy and/or spirit communication.  Then his teenage son Brandon tragically died on a hiking expedition, leaving Mark devastated and bereft.  Soon thereafter, he began receiving messages from mediums that his father and his son were together in the afterlife, trying to contact him.  His book, renamed Soul Shift: Finding Where the Dead Go, tells the story of his initiation from the other side.

Next, Mark directed Cullen Dorn to me.  Cullen had been a follower of Richard Ireland and also a magical initiate in a Golden Dawn genre order, all this after starting out as a gang guy in Spanish Harlem and presently being employed a field operator and jet refueler for Southwest Airlines in Orlando.  Cullen had self-published a near illiterate but brilliant novel to which he gave the title Infinitude, a name on a yet-to-be-written tome shown him in an astral dream-state by an angelic being.

In 2007 Mark sent the self-published lulu.com edition to me in Maine over my protestations, as I didn’t want to be bothered then by any unsolicited and unlikely manuscripts—and an occult novel by an unknown jet refueler was as unlikely as they get.  In fact, Mark knew that I didn’t want to see it in Maine, so he sent it to the Berkeley office for my return; yet for inexplicable reasons, it found its way into a UPS box going to me.

Infinitude had a kind of magnetic aura about it, so I decided to read the first chapter.  I was hooked.  I read right through the inconsistent verb tenses and subject-verb disagreements, driven by the energy and beauty at the book’s core.  Infinitude turned out to be a riveting transdimensional drama that enchanted and possessed me.  I was reading it for the next month.

After failing to find a suitable editor for the book through either our daughter Miranda or Robert Kelly (for instance, I suggested that Robert make it a class project at Bard), I spent 85 hours myself that winter rewriting it into something grammatical and literate, hoping to retain its innocent power.  I also renamed it.

Cullen initially resisted my impulses because his own name for it had a sacrosanct origin.  Once he saw what I was doing to his book, he formally extended me the right to alter it.  I was a guy born a few years before him and a few blocks away, across the 96th Street divide where the train from Grand Central roars out of the ground, setting the boundary invisibly between Upper Park Avenue and Lower Harlem (as railroad tracks legendarily do).  And I was someone who shared his vision of the Great Dance.

Populated by souls in bodies amid bodies seeking souls, The Hierophant of 100th Street blends the grandeur and cosmic tragedy of West Side Story with the spiritual wisdom of A Course in Miracles. Cullen Dorn’s landscape is as bleak as modern Earth—from the drug-ravaged Spanish Harlem streets and forced clitoridectomy in Egypt, down to the bowels of the American penal system and its gangs—yet, at the same time, as transcendent as Afro-Reggae and the channelings of Edgar Cayce.  This is a novel whose characters are truly born again and again and again….as they meet uncannily in drug dens and prison lavatories and blind on the streets of cities, just at the moments that revelation requires it, just in the way they need to in order to be redeemed and transit to the next phase of being.  Cullen has been through the worst of it and has glimpsed the epiphany, and he was able to take its dictation, even though he lacked education and training in written text.  Even when it was still the funky lulu edition, Infinitude moved me to tears at least a dozen times.

Two or three books beyond Mark’s and Cullen’s, it almost seemed as though manuscripts were being dispatched and authors subliminally directed to us from the other side.  The spirits were choosing and laughing at us, as though saying: “Wait till they see this doozey!”

Through a contact we made six years earlier on a journey to look at yurts for a possible land-conservancy project in Downeast Maine, we received a bizarre manuscript by a woman in rural Idaho using the name Tarra Light.  She was an acquaintance of a friend of the woman who was hanging out in the woods by Machiasport, researching yurts for her own book (that we never published, see Chapter Six), a person who had been in all 49 states except Maine till then.

Anyway, long after her yurt book went elsewhere, she posted us Tarra Light’s story of her many reincarnations with the failed magus Adolf Hitler, the last of which placed her in a concentration camp. The Angel of Auschwitz: A Spiritual Memoir of Forgiveness and Healing was a harrowing and yet credible telling of life in a Nazi camp but, most tellingly, it offered one of the few new and revelatory views of Hitler, the failed divine wizard from Atlantis, as well as the glimmerings of how the holocaust could be salvaged and transformed into, yes, forgiveness and light, and the forces of evil and darkness could yet be overcome on this planet.

As if North Atlantic could suddenly redefine itself by not being New Age after merciless bombardment by this sort of stuff—we had turned tail and were becoming an exception to prove our own rule!

Soon after that, Sherri Defresche, a teacher in Oklahoma, mailed us the rough, very personal manuscript for Reunion on the Rainbow Bridge: My Parents’ Past Lives and the One They Shared With Me. This was another raw, authentic vision of something—something, as Lonsdale prophesied, that is coming in as we approach 2012 and the unknown aeons beyond.  Sherri’s submission was followed by Sheldon Stoff’s more educated and philosophical revelation, The Western Book of Crossing Over: A Guided Tour to an Afterlife. Then Robert Schwartz, a Dartmouth graduate living in Cleveland, sent us his self-published book, Your Soul’s Plan: Discovering the Real Meaning of the Life You Planned Before You Were Born.

Of these, only Your Soul’s Plan really found a market, but we had really just begun.  In ensuing years we published Mark Ireland’s father’s abandoned and posthumous manuscript, Your Psychic Potential: A Guide to Psychic Development, with a foreword by Mark, and the sequel to Lonsdale’s and Borax’s 2012, entitled Cosmic Weather Report: Notes from the Edge of the Universe. It included the following passages, not only pure Lonsdale but grand central for our North Atlantic vision:

“I have learned,” Lonsdale says, “that nausea and vertigo and raging symptoms are not so much signs of something wrong with you as they are signs of beling alive in a physical human body, and having the emotional body of the species flushing two thousand years of history through you.  What you do at such times is you don’t try to slip out of the intensity…but dive into the gist of who you are and what you’ve got to give.

“You do that by asking, ‘Where’s this taking me?  How can I move with this moment rightfully, whatever it is?  How can conflict and contradiction and void and nausea lead me forward?  How can everything intense that’s happening blast a tunnel of evolution through the Void…”

“There is no neutral space here at the cusp of ages.  Either I ask for help in any way that’s rightful, or I don’t ask, and detrimental forces swoop in and say, ‘Yo Charlie—we’ve got another dead zone here, huh, let’s take over….'” (CWR, pp. 156-157)

“When I was young and foolish and first tuning into higher worlds, I believed the Earth experience was on its way out.  I believed that it was becoming passé to take on a body.  It was becoming obsolete to get immersed in all the gritty gunk of the physical plane like sex and love and food and digestion and parking tickets.  I believed cosmic transcendence was gonna take charge around here, to such an extent that Three-D Reality would fall away, and we’d ascend into greater and greater worlds and be done with all this.

“What I feel today is that, yes, that’s a cool idea, in its way.  That idea has some merit.

“But there’s something about this world, this moment, this way of being here in this level of existence that is so profound that I wouldn’t trade it in for any cosmic space however sublime.  Rather, I want to renew my physical existence, quicken it, come to it afresh, find all over again what it’s all about.  I want to immerse myself in the great give-and-take of human beingness.  I want to stay with this outrageous Festival of the Senses until I give it everything I’ve got and it gives me everything it has in store for me.

“I know there are finer worlds out there.

“But there’s something about this moment in history in this world that is so worth getting into that I don’t want to squander any of it.  I don’t want to sleepwalk through this changing of the guard.  I don’t want to waste on nanosecond at the festival wishing I was some place else….

“The reason spirit beings care so much about what goes on here, the reason they work diligently and lovingly for our species, is to catalyze something that’s never been in the entire Eternity System.  What’s never happened is for spirit to sink to the utter depths of matter and ignite.  We don’t know what that looks like; nobody anywhere in the universe knows what that looks like, but we will soon.

“The great human experiment is to see if the high spirit forces could inject a dose of their refined essence into a dense physical speices, stepping down their cosmic voltage into the lower frequency of humans, and seed that species in the Earth, giving them free will to make their own choices, and have that species not get totally bogged down in the density but awaken to its greater potential and fill the physical plane with its light.

“What’s it like to fly through Cosmos while being right here on Earth?  What’s it like to be in the body with all senses aroused, with no wish to be gone from any of it, but a profound urge to share it and partake in it and be with it all?

“Do you realize that you got yourself here?  You weren’t involuntarily drafted.  Nobody forced life upon you.  You weren’t shanghaied from paradise and pressed into service.  Life isn’t a prison term but a great privilege not to be squandered.  Earth isn’t a penalty for errant souls but a profound treasure….

“Life on Earth is something you agreed to out of your entire heart and soul and being.  It’s something you chose, when you had the foresight to know what you were choosing.  Your life path is something you co-designed, in tandem with higher beings, to release the unique gift of your inner nature to the world.  Life is something you knew you could give yourself over to, and by doing that, receive everything in return….

“And everything that appears to be not-love is really love in disguise, love delayed, love warped and twisted until you untwist your own heart and mind and become the love you are.”  (CWR pp. 80-82)

“Earth has become the new hot spot in evolution.  It’s all here now. The whole Eternity System is flocking to our planet because it senses something uncanny about to happen—human spirit, having embedded itself into the densest period of all, is about to light up the galaxy with the force of its awakening….

“Whoever you are, wherever you’ve gotten to, something is being asked of you now that you haven’t gotten to.  Do not fall for the error of thinking you’ve done this.  You haven’t….

“Existence is throwing you a great dare to show up as you really are, which is something you don’t know yet—any of us—and something you will only find when you stay with that edge, and hone it, and come to it all over again each living moment, and share from there, and mean it.” (CWR pp. 192-3)

As we became a “New Age” publisher, I felt as though I had been training my whole life to be able to sort through dross for materials like these, to distinguish actual transmissions from faux or insubstantial ones (which arrive also in legion, have always arrived and continue to arrive)—to recognize when pearls appear among the slush.   Here’s some typical slush from central casting channeling an average business day:

“One quiet evening in March 2002, she was suddenly startled by an entity that came into her body and began chanting.  He identified himself as White Eagle.”  Among White Eagle’s messages: “Lo, I am with you even unto the ends of the Earth….  There is a mission you must complete.  In this way, you will serve mankind….  I say to you now, a new Earth is about to emerge from the chaos….  In bliss, there is oneness with all life….  The vortex is ushering you across the threshold of higher vibration….  The vortex represents the beginning of the ascension process of evolution….  We are the Brotherhood of Light.  Your aura is being tinged with violet light so that you can merge with us in a swirling eddy of energy….   We are the keepers of the universal Truths….  We are the connection between the Red Man and the Stars.  Know this: When the new dawn comes, there will be a bridge restored to the stars….” (CID 127-9, 141, 151, 171).

I am not saying that this rap is not authentic.  I have no idea one way or the other.  Maybe it is the general dumbed-down message to Earth from cosmic central these days on all frequencies.  I am just saying that it is stock and predictable.

One tends to lapse onto “New Age rejection-letter autopilot” after hundreds of such soft-minded, badly commercialized drivel and personal occult and channeled revelations: More of this shit! No! No! No!  What used to be quilting for some folks have become recreational channeling and cosmologically solving the universe.

You have to cultivate a sixth sense—because the bad ones don’t sound all that different initially from the magnificent ones.  You have to let your attention be snared by some hidden cue. The mark is always, it seems, despite any other amateur or ditzy or mega-ornamental characteristics:

Does it resonate as real?  Does it sound as though the person is writing from experience?  Is it fully internalized.  Are the words original and fresh-sounding?  Do they have heart in them?  And most important: Do they give me the chills?  Otherwise, it doesn’t matter if they are literate or not.  One can always turn a poorly written but authentic transmission into a great book.

Once upon a time also I used to say, in an absolute and doctrinaire fashion, that we didn’t publish channeling—no exceptions.  But that meant the sort of channeling that the Barbara Clows of the world do, stuff that always sounded to me like the work of a poet who couldn’t write poetry or an imagination-less science-fiction writer.  Cleverly switching genres, they sold millions of books.  The whole thing rang hollow somehow—like anyone could make up this stuff like this and say it’s channeled.

In fact, a lot of popular channeling sounds like people trying to market amateur poetry as if it were coming from the Pleiadians, and it somehow works, just the way George W. Bush’s idiot mouthings came across as folksy wise—they got him elected Chairman of the Freeworld for crissakes.  Reading like B-grade science fiction, this stuff has all the life of a grocery list.  I can start inventing them in my mind right now: “Earthlings, a great transformation awaits you.  Shed your false….”

Local music critic and former habitant and watchman of our Ninth Street warehouse in the days of Mondo 2000 (see Chapter Twelve) Robert Phoenix has been working on a manuscript for us about sacred sound, but, more to the immediate point, he directed us to the self-published books of a true channeler in the old biblical sense, Patricia Cori, an American living in Italy and transmitting from entities in the Sirian star system.  Her inspired items include: Atlantis Rising: The Struggle of Darkness and Light; The Cosmos of Soul: A Wake-Up Call for Humanity; No More Secrets, No More Lies: A Handbook to Starseed Awakening; her Egyptian channeling from the Pyramids: Where Pharaohs Dwell: One Mystics Journey Through the Gates of Immortality; Before We Leave You: Messages from the Great Whales and the Dolphin Beings; and an anthology: Beyond the Matrix: Daring Conversations with the Brilliant Minds of Our Time.

Cori echoed Jane Roberts channeling Seth, Ellias Lonsdale reaching back to some vestige of the Atlantis.  Her prophecy was filled with insights travelling from center of the Galaxy about the nature of life on Earth and in the Milky Way and the future for all life forms in this present evolving cosmos.  It had heart.  It gave me the chills.  It was real.  New Age diva though she was, she was more channel and less diva than Barbara Clow.

None of this stuff may be literally true, but, yes, as Bob and Miranda recognized, it’s exactly where we are—that is, where we are as spirits—and where we have to go.

Since then books in this widening zone have continued to arrive, as the world itself approaches both the metaphor and omega point of 2012. This is David Wolfe territory.

Whereas most of David’s emphasis is on changing consciousness through nutrition and live foods (with a bit of alchemy thrown in), his recent book (with Nick Good), Amazing Grace: The Nine Principles of Living in Natural Magic, is a template for surviving in apocalyptic times.  David’s proposition is that everyone alive now chose to be born here, at this time on this world, in order to participate in one of the greatest episodes of transformation in the history of the universe.  His message is stop moping, stop worrying, stop feeling frightened and overwhelmed, stop hiding your light under a bushel—carry out the mission you and you alone were given.  We need you.  The planet needs you.  Do it.  Nothing is stopping you, nothing but fear and cynicism.  It is not that far off Barack Obama and “Yes, we can!”  They are habitants of the same New Age/Old Age planet.

Amazing Grace is a compendium of lessons, techniques, and stories to that end, an echo of the more upbeat parts of Nothing in This Book Is True…and a companion guide to Brezsny’s living pronoically, “as if the whole world (and the whole cosmos) were conspiring to shower you with blessings.”  It provides tools at different levels of diet, ritual, practice, and belief for realizing your destiny, which you are doing anyway, unconsciously.  It not only dovetails with most of our other New Age publishing but gives our psychospiritual bounty a motto, a charismatic spokesperson, and an active shaman/magician casting spells.  When David tells people, “Have the best day ever,” he means it is the only day we have. It is not a banality or a jingle but a blessing.  (For much more on David’s co-author for Amazing Grace, the spiritual trainer and foreman of David’s Hawaiian farm Noniland, Nick Good see my “Kaua’i Notes 2010” on this website.  Nick’s books from North Atlantic should start appearing in 2012.)

Even as we were publishing more New Age material, I rediscovered the Berkeley Psychic Institute (BPI) and began taking courses there in April 2008, initially in Psychic Meditation and then, in the fall, Psychic Healing.  Ironically North Atlantic had already reissued Amy Wallace’s and Bill Henkin’s The Psychic Healing Book, an excellent, thorough summary of the techniques and world-view of BPI circa 1975.  After being published in 1978 and blowing through many print runs, it had gone out of print with Wingbow Press in the early aughts.

The Psychic Healing Book includes preliminary training in reading auras and chakras, healing individuals in present company and at a distance, and cultivating one’s innate capacity for intuition.  The book is self-reflective, ironical, and modest, e.g.: “The healer can operate from an intention which uses the harmonious, neutral energy of the cosmos instead of his own energy….  …when the healer is not resisting the illness, the person who is ill is not resisting the illness, and the illness is not resisting either of them, the faith healer can choose—from his heart, and without striving—for the illness to disappear.”  But I didn’t look inside this gem until much later.

The Institute in fact had been around the whole time I had been in Berkeley, but I had never really noticed it, even in its present incarnation occupying a small city block in the bulls-eye center of town, right next to Berkeley Main, the post office.  What cursory notice I did give it was scornful, as if it were purveying trash occultism with its monthly Psychic Fairs and gypsy-like hoopla.

That was before I had a month-long flu that left me wasted, hopeless, and bored with everything earthly, including my former favorite foods and activities.  I couldn’t even watch ballgames or movies on TV.  The only activity that seemed to relieve this funk was reviving my two most serious, lapsed practices: sitting meditation and my t’ai-chi set.  In the service of reconstructing the latter, I called one of my favorite people in the world, Ron Sieh, my former t’ai-chi teacher, who had moved back to his hometown of Minneapolis over a decade earlier when he gave up on being able to earn a living in Berkeley (more on Ron later in Chapter Ten, and then he will close this blog in Chapter 22).  Anyway, in the course of our conversation, he heard my lament and exclaimed, “I can’t believe that you’ve lived in Berkeley for over thirty years and never been to the Berkeley Psychic Institute.  I miss it every day I’m not there.”

Some teachers are always on the mark.  I walked in the BPI door the next day.

As soon as I began courses, my sense of the universe and its realms of spirit changed.  Discouragement and alienation dissolved into undiscovered layers of unconscious energy, and suddenly, quite apart from my studies, new authors began appearing, writing on exactly the topics taught at BPI.  Our unsolicited but welcome visitors included Indigo Children, Irish fairies, Cathar parfaits, angels,  andundines (Undines: Lessons from the Realm of Water Spirits by William R. Mistele, a Franz Bardon cohort of my old Goddard student Bill Cranstoun; see also “Kaua’i Notes 2010” on this website for more on Mistele and undines),  and also that Alaska-based Cheyenne shaman True Blue Indigo with precepts for how to regain our inherent spiritual aristocracy and the real nobility of our souls.  And that is when I discovered that we had already republished The Psychic Healing Book, a virtual house organ of BPI.

Javier Thistlethwaite, the director of BPI, is a former stock-car racer, a half Mexican guy with an esoteric name, who, by his own admission, first went to BPI to pick up girls.  This alone qualifies him an original and as further demonstration that the psychic realm is where we normally live anyway, and all this stuff is, as Javier notes, not some kind of proof of past lives or telepathy but just “me as spirit talking to you as spirit.”

At BPI they like to say that they are teaching us what we already know.  Even so, I am a babe in the woods there, surpassed routinely in skill by teenagers and itinerant twenty-year-olds from the ’burbs and by young travelers from Norway, Russia, or Brazil.  My teacher for my second course was a twenty-five-year-old pizza delivery guy who constantly told us to “fake it until you make it.”  But isn’t that the story of the whole, Nothing in This Book thing?  (For much more on BPI and my “initiation” there, see my book 2o13: Raising the Earth to the Next Vibration.)

While at the 2008 London Book Fair, our rights manager, Sarah Serafimidis, met Lucy Harmer, who was teaching her own version of related psychic material, and we signed three fully realized books, Discovering Your Spirit Animal: The Wisdom of the Shamans; Shamanic Astrology; and The Art of Space Clearing and Intuitive Feng Shui.  We carried this particular deal off almost like normal publishing, acquisitions done at an international book fair—real advances, normal contracts.10 Unfortunately a jealous feng shui teacher in England blocked the publication of the third book with a host of legal threats, claiming the whole territory for herself and forcing Lucy to rewrite the book as something else.

Then Marcia Schmidt, the publisher of Rangjung Yeshe, our distributed line, hired a ghostbuster to clear her Mendocino house of quarrelsome energies, and she was so impressed with the woman, Diana Burney, that she directed her to us as the queen of the house-cleansing trade, urging us not to even think of missing this manuscript: Spiritual Clearings: Sacred Practices to Release Negative Energy and Harmonize Your Life. It offered precisely the sort of skills that I was being taught in my psychic kindergarten at BPI.

After beginning my own psychic education at BPI, I started a local psychic group for the months that we were in Maine, fisherman Wendell Seavey, local healer Emily Davis, and environmental lawyer Karin Marchetti among its stalwarts.  We were each others’ students and teachers.  One of the members, Rebecca Brugman, directed me to an online site out of Australia by way of Portland, Maine, on a group working on clearing the karma of the Earth’s cities, city by city.  I tracked those posts back to the source and finally ended up with the profound and profoundly compassionate and high Australian psychic Sri’ama Qala Phoenix as our author, and we eventually released her first book: Opening our Spiritual Eyes: Karmic Clearing for Humanity and the Earth.

For years my aunt Suzanne Taylor with her New Age salon in Los Angeles had been directing books to us without a match beyond the crop- circles circuit.  In 2008 she hit the jackpot.  Not only did we receive Crop Circles: The Bones of God but a Quebecois psychic phenomenon entitled Welcome to the Fifth Dimension: The Quintessence of Being, The Ultimate Secret of Ascension by Diane LeBlanc (Bianca Gaia) and The Cracking Tower: A Gnostic Strategy for Facing the Singularity and Transcending 2012 by Hawaii resident Jim DeKorne.

The Cracking Tower transfers 2012 from “out there” in space and time to inside us where we face the task of solving and living out the true meaning of confusing gospels, apocalypses, and ephiphanies.  As Avocado proclaimed, we must become our own mythological heroes and find our own fresh direction.

Following our early 2012 attempts (Lonsdale/Borax a market success, Dekorme’s Cracking Tower a 90% return rate, I guess a little too intellectual and heavy duty for the growing pop apocalyptic market and the rise of superstars like John Major Jenkins and Daniel Pinchbeck, though I told Jim to leave out the “perennial philosophy” overlay and he blew that off), we went straight indigene, publishing first Gaspar Pedro Gonzalez’s 13 B’aktun: Mayan Visions of 2012 and Beyond, translated by Robert Sitler, more like Maya 3.0 than a beginner’s guide to the calendrics, and then Sitler’s own book, The Living Maya: Ancient Wisdom in the Era of 2012.

After I ended my study at Berkeley Psychic Institute because of a cultlike “spiritual agreement” requirement for entering the Clairvoyant Program there, I began to study with John Friedlander, a Michigan theosophically oriented psychic.  My work with John is discussed at length in my books 2013: Raising the Earth to the Next Vibration and Dark Pool of Light: Reality and Consciousness (in progress in 2011 as I write this section).  In addition, at North Atlantic we got involved in John’s psychic philosophy and practices in a series of books and audios.  The first book, cowritten with Gloria Hemsher, is Psychic Psychology: Energy Skills for Life and Relationships, and John’s audios are Practicing Yoru energy Skills for Life and Realtionsips: Meditations, Real-Life Applications, and More and Navigating the Seven Planes of Consciousness: Advanced Skills.

In 2009, while I was working on 2013, a series of fortuities and synchronicities led to a new North Atlantic imprint, Evolver Editions.  The first link in this chain actually came while I was working on my prior book, The Bardo of Waking Life. Rob Brezsny told me about a writer and New Age commentator named Daniel Pinchbeck who had accused alien-abduction superstar Whitley Strieber of hexing the human race, and I built a piece out of that notion (the hex and the mantra of its antidote) toward the end of my book.

Subsequently, when I was working on 2013, both Rob and long-time Io reader and North Atlantic author-to-be David Ulansey (Mysterium) told me that they had called Daniel’s attention to my work and that I should send him some of my books and enlist him to write an introduction to my next book.  By then I realized that Daniel was the author of two New Age category books: Breaking Open the Head, a book about entheogens, and 2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl. I had not read either of them.

That summer Lindy and I were again at the Abode of the Message, the afore-mentioned Sufi Center on  the New York-Massachusetts border, and ended up participating in randomly-formed triads, groups of people who selected two mostly unknown partners from a room full of people to engage in a brief process of joint spiritual and life-path query.  One of the members of my group turned out to be Jonathan Phillips, one of Daniel Pinchbeck’s associates, an editor of his news network Reality Sandwich and community director of his social network, Evolver, L.L.C.  At the end of the weekend I enlisted Jonathan, who was already working actively with the publicists at North Atlantic, as a go-between.

Daniel’s response, when it eventually came, was a bit of a zen slap.  Since I admitted rather disingenuously that I hadn’t yet read his work, he basically wanted to know why the hell he should be considering writing an introduction to my book.  I had drifted into presuming that because of Rob and David and our seminal roles in the generation or half-generation ahead of Daniel that I got a free pass.  Embarrassed at taking a prerogative that would have offended me if the tables had been turned, I immediately checked Breaking Open the Head out of the Southwest Harbor library and read it over the weekend while packing up to leave Maine, and then I read Robert Simmons’ copy of 2012, The Return of Q the following week at his and Kathy’s house.  The pair of books dramatically altered my perspective in the last section of 2013 and also gave me a compass and a foundation to write a long introduction to my book in the form of a history of 2012 prophecies.  I also wrote Daniel a summary impression of his work, and we agreed to meet in New York City the following week.

Daniel, Lindy, and I had dinner on November 2, 2009, at the Caravan of Dreams, a David Wolfe inspired eatery on the Lower East Side.  It was the day before Daniel flew to L.A. to be involved in the premiere of the movie 2012. Although in the end Daniel did write a brief foreword to 2013 at a moment of inspired despair from a 2012 conference in Guatemala the following year, we had moved on.  We ranged far and wide over topics during the meal, and it became the official birth of the collaboration Evolver Editions.

Subsequently Daniel and Jonathan and their associate Ken Jordan and creative director Michael Robinson took up discussions with North Atlantic associate publisher Douglas Reil and, together, they set the terms for the series.  The mission statement read: “Evolver Editions presents the leading voices of the transformational movement, the new spiritual counterculture that explores humanity’s most visionary potential and the tangible, pragmatic steps that we can take to access it.  Evolver Editions authors range over a wide variety of subjects—from shamanism to environment design, cutting-edge theories in cosmology to strategies for political organizing—and share a hopeful, developmental outlook on the current state of the world and our opportunity to cocreate a planetary culture based on empathy, higher consciousness, and collaboration.”  In other words, no hexing allowed!

The subtext of the series was to hook up North Atlantic’s more traditional approaches to source material and tools with Evolver’s more politically edgy and new-consciousness approaches.  North Atlantic reflected the revelations and discoveries of my sixties generation and its counterculture and Whole Earth visions, whereas Evolver represented a radical transformation of those visions by people born ten to twenty years later.  However, there was also plenty of overlap in terms of both generation/age and theme.  The first six titles in Evolver Editions were: Sacred Economics by Charles Eisenstein, Manifesto for the Noosphere by José Arguelles (see Chapter Eleven for the ironical full circle come here), What Comes After Money, edited by Daniel Pinchbeck and Ken Jordan, The Secret Tradition of the Soul by Patrick Harpur, The Four Global Truths by Darrin Drda, and The Electric Jesus by Jonathan Talat Phillips.

North Atlantic Books has always been a kind of inexplicable magical energy show with a life of its own and a guide through my own life along a parallel world.  In that sense, it is a New Age event all by itself—esoteric, mysterious, quantum, nonlinear teaching me and others and leading us rather than being created by us.  Nothing seems to kill it, and nothing seems to vault it into being an Inner Traditions commercial juggernaut.  It has its own unique trajectory.

I can only do the work and try to eanct the teachings sincerely as best I can, from cloudy hands and monkey stepping back to modes of energy breathing and affirmation to Jungian dreamwork to craniosacral palpation to grounding cords, protection roses, and house clearings.

It’s where the life and the books run together, exchange accoutrements, and become the same.

Chapter 9: The North Atlantic Books List 3: Other Rubrics and Themes | Table of Contents

Footnotes

[1]
This experience is recounted in the chapter entitled “The Brazilian Master in Berkeley” in my book Waiting for the Martian Express, pp. 55-64.
[2]
Moshe Feldenkrais said, in effect, “Freud was right. We are trapped by habit. But it is not always habit grounded in trauma. It is usually habit grounded in other habit.” He meant somatic habit.
[3]
Remember, by the time the book came out, PGW considered it an undistributable lemon and didn’t even want to sell it to the trade.
[4]
Interestingly, Paul Pitchford is a contrarian on this topic, as he believes that food should be cooked to release the nutrition in cells, and he considers that too stringent a live-food diet can lead to serious health problems (no more than twenty percent is his yardstick). In this case, we are the publisher, not the jury, so we provide the forum for an intelligent debate and dialectic that probably have unforeseeable resolutions and rapprochements at a deeper, nonlinear level. The paradox is that both raw and cooked foods have values, and they are not incompatible. In any case, the books are books, sincere and worth publishing in their own right, beyond ideological arbitration, and it is up to individual readers to figure out how to apply them to their lives—probably some raw or even predominantly raw, but not all raw.  And PP reminds us, “There are still an awful lot of parasites in the world,” and they don’t read books or know their “place.”
[5]
The maximum allowable molecular dlution (or minimum molecular quantum) for there to be a residue of chemical substance in the medicine.
[6]
At the time we didn’t know that our daughter was Miranda July, the performance artist, writer, and film-maker. Back then she was a freshman at U.C. Santa Cruz, soon to drop out. Now she is the screen-writer, director, and star of Me and You and Everyone We Know as well as the author of the international prize-winning book of short stories, Nobody Belongs Here More than You.
[7]
Suzanne Taylor also led us to all our crop-circle authors and has made a documentary film on crop circles, What on Earth?: Inside the Crop Circle Mystery.
[8]
“Can you believe,” Tom Petty of the Heartbreakers noted recently, “that rock stars are now created on Reality TV.”
[9]
This fulfills the recommendation of Robert Sardello of Goldenstone Press that we collect the remaining portions of Lonsdale’s opus, or at least a selection from them, and make more books, one of which might be a basic Lonsdale reader. Unfortunately the greataer Lonsdale manuscript has been in hock for a long time. That is, the cartons containing this sacred material are being held in the warehouse of some freight company in Hawaii until Ellias pays his bill for shipping them there from the Continent when he moved a few years ago (I asked him the sum, and he chuckled inappropriately—or ironically—and said, “You don’t want to hear it. It’s absurd.” After raising a prior family, he now has four young children and a vagabond life sustained solely by psychic readings. His finances are in disarray, and it is hard to predict how these matters will resolve or if the texts will even survive the financial exigencies. But Ellias is and will be an authentic prophet.
[10]
We later signed a contract with Lucy’s sister Pip Waller for her Holistic Anatomy.

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