A Review by Joey Media
Paul Brunton, perhaps best known for his Short Path to Enlightenment and theories about the Oversoul, was an explorer, spiritualist, and thinker in the great tradition of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. As humankind grappled with the Industrial Revolution and the question of the moral validity of Empire, Brunton and others like him sought to understand the varied religious, historical, and political systems of the world by experiencing them firsthand.
Prior to going to Egypt, he traveled to India, writing the precursor to this volume.
As Timothy J. Smith writes in the introduction, this journal is not only outward but an “inward journey of initiation.” When I first received it I anticipated a travelogue with valuable information about Egypt and its wonders through the lens of the 1930s. Although it is certainly that, detailed in its descriptions of buildings and people and filled with pictures—most taken by Brunton—it is also a great deal more.
If you’re interested in a spiritual explorer’s insights into the magick and mystery of Egypt, this is a treasure trove of unique experiences. Brunton heard the Sphinx speaking to him early on in his visit, and when he later spent the night in the King’s Chamber of the Great Pyramid he had a profound encounter with Demons as well as Angels of Light.
Brunton is not shy about his theories. He talks about Atlantis as though it is absolute fact (and it very well may be), based on what he hears whispered by the Sphinx and his own extensive studies.
Brunton has both the technical and descriptive skills to be a travel writer. He mixes history and science into his engaging prose. This edition of the book has ample maps and diagrams to bring to life even further his words.
A major draw is the encounters Brunton has with magicians, hypnotists, fakirs, Dervishes, snake-charmers, and other mystics. The entities most Westerners call genies are called in the Middle East the djinn. In my work as a paranormal researcher and novelist I have undertaken a thorough study of them. They are dark entities that can be called upon to help or protect a magician and there is abundant research indicating that those in power in certain places are there because they have made a pact with the djinn. It is said that King Solomon controlled the djinn by way of a magic ring and it was they that built his temple. Brunton’s encounter with a magician who kills a chicken with his mind in order to summon a djinn is a fascinating study.
Some of the capabilities of the mystics he encounters—to be cut without bleeding, to be buried in a box for a day or more and survive—are truly extraordinary. Brunton invites doctors to examine them, as he does with snake charmers, and they cannot provide explanations, although the mystics are consistent in saying that anyone can do these things with enough study and discipline. To put this to the test, Brunton undertakes a practicum in snake charming, including the handling of cobras. Talk about commitment!
Brunton’s experience here best illuminates his skepticism and commitment to finding the scientific mechanisms behind spiritual practices, although he is wise enough to know that the liminal, numinous, and what we might call supernatural are also clearly at play.
There’s a chapter devoted to the famed fakir Tahra Bey that’s a highlight of the book.
Perhaps the most important chapters in a real-world, contemporary sense, are Chapter 8, “In the Name of Allah, the Compassionate, and Merciful!” and Chapter 9, “An Interview with the Spiritual Head of the Muhammedans.” Brunton begins with a historical overview of the call of the Prophet Muhammad and the growth of the Islamic faith. He then looks at the evolution of Islam and explores the perceptions and misconceptions he and many Westerners have. And this is in 1936!
Things as you know have only gotten worse. For those who are looking for the truth amidst the propaganda that demonizes millions for the extremism of thousands, this is important reading. Chapter 9 derives from the time Brunton spent with Skeikh Moustapha el Maraghi, at the time the head of the Islamic world. The conversation is open and honest and most of all respectful.
For the Egyptologist, the sections on Abydos, Hathor’s Temple, Karnak, the Valley of Kings, and Luxor, complete with the author’s color photographs and detailed descriptions, including some floor plans, are ample reason to add this to your library.
Brunton also gets deeply into the Mystery Rites as they were taught and undertaken in these temple complexes. Although I have a considerable library and have studied for decades the symbolism of these death–rebirth and spiritual journey rituals over the centuries, there was much new and valuable here.
For enthusiasts, the Epilogue and Commentary on Epilogue unpack the fundamental meanings behind a typical Mystery Rite journey. Those familiar with Rosicrucianism and Freemasonry will see their roots in the rites and rituals of ancient Egypt.
Brunton closes the book by sharing his experiences with an Adept named Ra-Mak Hotep. These chapters also serve as a summation of all that has come before, as Ra-Mak Hotep is highly skilled and some of his revelations almost defy belief.
It is always surprising how many readers choose to skip forewords, epilogues, and the like. Even more skip About the Book. But this is a true must read, as everything from the photo choices to the book’s layout (all based on sacred geometric ratios) are explained by the editors. Also, given the cost of this edition ($110, unless you go to the Larson Publications website [https://www.larsonpublications.com/shop/product-detail.php?id=8], where it is normally $88 but right now is half price), you can understand what a special edition it is.
I encourage the reader to research Paul Brunton (not his real name): his life and explorations of the world of matter and spirit are as fascinating as the stories and characters in this book. Larson Publications is also the publisher of many of his works on behalf of the Paul Brunton Foundation.
TITLE: A Search in Secret Egypt
AUTHOR: Paul Brunton
PUBLISHER: Larson Publications