Length: 31 pages
My rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Pierre S. Freeman, in this non-fiction tale, describes the initiation process that Neophytes – the new entrants to an apparent esoteric order – go through as they become a part of the order. With the help of illustrations, Freeman has described not only the actual unfolding of events but also their relationship with the rituals followed by actual and real esoteric orders. With a glimpse into the meaning of each aspect of the ritual, Freeman describes its similarity and difference to the original order; and this is followed by his opinion, through commentary, on the cause for such difference as well as what the actual meaning of each ritual is supposed to be. Freeman takes a practical, logical and satirical take on the initiation process of AMORC and allows readers a glimpse into what goes on behind closed doors that could keep people attracted for years together.
The first thing that this book made me realize was that cults are dangerous – to the people involved in them and to all those that care for them. Although that is an obvious understanding, this short story amplifies that in a simple, yet effective, way. Freeman has provided an insight into the world of cults and mind control and the association between supposed esoteric orders and real ones. The simplistic style of the book, that states everything that is happening in a straightforward manner, gives you an insight into the processes and procedures used by such groups to keep people hooked. The simplicity of these methods themselves explain how and why people could get pulled in.
At the same time however, these methods have a base rooted in older, real esoteric group practices. Freeman makes these connection evident as he explains the supposed meaning of each practice and their origin. What this gives to the reader is an understanding of where such practices were derived from and how they have been construed, and in places convoluted, to suit the desires of power and money hungry individuals – all at the cost of the people pulled into this world.
Freeman makes a clear distinction between esoteric groups that truly know what they are talking about and doing – groups that are not led by people who have found a way to use these cosmic ideologies to control others – and groups that have turned cosmic concepts into a money making and mind controlling tool, that gives the, power over others. Freeman points out this distinction while maintaining a light, satirical tone that in effect, makes the distinction all the more real and at times, frightening.
On the downside, this book feels superficial – the information provided barely seeming to scratch the surface of concepts, ideologies, and a parallel world. Freeman, having been part of a cult himself, often forgets that he possesses experience and knowledge that not everyone else does. That is why the book gives off this vibe of expecting tacit knowledge from readers that, in truth, just doesn’t exist. The information that relates the continued practices to the real ones is too short to fully appreciate and I would have liked to read more about it. Additionally, Freeman adopts a style of writing that although enjoyable, can get a bit cumbersome to follow at times. Throw in the more than occasional typos and lack of proofreading and you find yourself getting irritated. After all, the book is only 30 odd pages. The last thing you want is mistakes in presentation that manage to intermittently spoil the flow.
In spite of its few shortcomings, the book is a quick, and definitely interesting, read. But it leaves a lot to be desired in the case of depth. Yet, Freeman does state at the very beginning that this abridged version is more of a teaser of the full version. So the only question that then remains is whether the full version can overcome the drawbacks of the abridged one. To summarize, I would say that for anyone who follows literature on cults or the cosmic world, or even human psychology, would find this book an interesting read. It managed to pique my interest and I will be reading the full version soon.