Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Medieval Mysteries: A Guide to History, Lore, Places and Symbolism Paperback – March 1, 2014
|New from||Used from|
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
From the Author
Whatever their chosen path or wherever they are from, many today tell me they're on a quest. History, symbolism, places, and folklore continue to fascinate; many say visiting certain historical or sacred places has often greatly inspired or enlightened them. As an historian, I write my books for *all* of you, as we mutually step back in time to explore the history, unexpected wonders, marvels and mysteries of the past. Cross the threshold.. as we enjoy the journey!
About the Author:
Karen Ralls PhD, is a medieval historian, Celtic,and spirituality/world religions scholar and obtained her doctorate from the University of Edinburgh, followed by six years as Postdoctoral Fellow and Sr Lecturer (Univ. of Edinburgh) and Deputy Curator of the Rosslyn Chapel Museum art exhibition (Scotland). A specialist in the High Middle Ages period (1100-1300) period and noted for groundbreaking 12th-14th c. medieval research in particular, Karen is originally from the USA and is interested in exploring further links between history/heritage, archeology, symbols, folklore, and the landscape, and serves as a lecturer, conference speaker, historical and sacred sites tour guide (UK, USA, EU) and workshop/retreat presenter.
A musician (flute(s)and wire-strung Celtic harp) based in Oxford, England, and a perpetual student of Life itself, Dr Ralls is a member of the American Academy of Religion and also serves as Historical Advisor and consultant for film, travel, charity and heritage-related projects. She also completed a specialist Medieval and Renaissance Art History course at the Victoria and Albert (V&A) Museum (London) and was a former Visiting Scholar at UC Berkeley, California.
Her books include GOTHIC CATHEDRALS: History, Art, Places, and Symbolism, (2015, Ibis/RedWheelWeiser/USA); MEDIEVAL MYSTERIES: A Guide to History, Places and Symbolism (2014; Ibis Press /RedWheelWeiser/USA); The TEMPLARS AND THE GRAIL (2003, Quest Books, USA), The KNIGHTS TEMPLAR ENCYCLOPEDIA (2007, Career Press, USA), Music and the Celtic Otherworld (Edinburgh Univ Press & Palgrave Macmillan, USA), The Quest for the Celtic Key (Luath Press, Edinburgh), and others. She enjoys hiking, music, and stargazing, and has a Facebook Author page and the website is ancientquest.com
'Sharing the Wisdom of the past...a gateway to the future'.
From the Inside Flap
Cross the threshold and journey into the world of the High Middle Ages (1100-1300), to further explore the history, places, and symbolism of twelve of the most-frequently-requested medieval topics today. From Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, Hugo's Hunchback of Notre Dame, Umberto Eco's Name of the Rose, to the delights of Monty Python, the medieval period - pagan, Christian, and otherwise - continues to intrigue, inspire and fascinate many today. But what were some of the unexpected developments, interesting people, and key events of this epic time?
For general readers and specialists alike, medieval historian, former Rosslyn Chapel museum exhibition Curator and noted author Karen Ralls presents the key historical facts and associated history, places, and symbolism for each of the twelve medieval topics, providing a much-requested 'medieval anthology' -- a lively introductory portal for all readers, in one place, which includes the major historical facts as well as some of the lesser-known aspects about each of the topics.
The story of each subject comes alive as never before, providing a solid, engaging overview about each subject, as well as numerous full colour photographs throughout, a Recommended Reading List (from both selected general and academic sources), four appendices, Historic Sites to Visit, Notes, and a full Bibliography.
Topics covered include:
- The Knights Templar
- The Grail and the Grail quest
- Mary Magdalene: medieval places, traditions and shrines
- Black Madonnas: from springs, grotto and grove to Chartres...
- The courage of the Cathars
- Medieval Guilds, the Green Man
- The Troubadours
- Heresy, Heretics, and heresy trials
- Rosslyn Chapel
- King Arthur, Glastonbury, Merlin
Further explore the history and wonders of the High Middle Ages -- a time of potent symbolism, unexpected developments on many fronts, and much spiritual questing.
('Light shines in darkness' = Lux Lucet In Tenebris)
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
For this, her latest offering, she has approached ten individual subjects, all related one to another in some way, and presented us with what is both a splendid guidebook we can use for travel and a reference we can go back to time and time again. Her subject chapters are: the Knights Templar, Mary Magdalene, the Black Madonna, the Grail, the Cathars, Medieval Guilds, Heretics and Heresy, the Troubadours, the Arthurian Mysteries (King Arthur, Merlin, and Glastonbury), and, last but not least, Rosslyn Chapel. For each chapter she gives us an historical overview of the subject, its possible origins, associated legends and symbols, a suggestion of relevant sites and relics to visit, and the wisdom we might distill from learning more about it. We are tempted to look deeper into each topic with extraordinary color photography and references for further study.
The book is succinct and yet thorough, meticulously organized and beautifully illustrated. Ralls treats us to a journey rich with fascinating personages, intriguing stories, and facts that broaden our view of those times---all written in a style that is not at all boring or academic. I can honestly say I had fun reading this book. Though it’s not a lightweight volume, it was for me a fast read that I pursued with enthusiasm. Because the sections in each chapter are not long, I was able to put the book down and then pick it up a while later and not miss a beat. I can now go back and easily study each chapter in more depth if I so choose. And, while I thought I knew more than I did about that time period, I realize now that I’ve just barely scratched the surface.
A few interesting tidbits I heretofore had missed: There’s a Templar church in Siena, Italy; the gnostic “Abraxas” was a common form of the Jewish “Jehovah”; Black Madonnas can be found not just in churches, but also in forests, caves, and hedges; there’s a town named Sion in Switzerland; some think of the Grail as a stone from a meteorite; Edinburgh could also be Eden town; Friar Tuck was called the Abbot of Unreason; courtly love can be thought of as a medieval form of sacred Western Tantra; Merlin is another “son of the widow”, as was Horus, Christ, Parsival, and other questing heroes; there’s a cutting taken from the Glastonbury Thorn tree on the grounds of the National Cathedral in Washington, DC; and, some say the Masonic Hiram Abiff is a corruption of the Greek Hermes.
Dr. Ralls has a knack for putting together words in a very colorful fashion. Phrases like “The situation in the Languedoc was a combustible cocktail” run throughout her writing. However, while she sometimes uses levity to titillate and capture the reader’s interest, there is a strong message that echoes in all her books---not at all a somber message, but one that looks to a better time through a serious and disciplined search of what has gone before. It involves the “Quest” for knowledge itself. In her own words, “Yet, elusive as ever, questions remain and the perennial Quest continues. Indeed, that is the best pilgrimage of all---the process of making the spiritual Quest itself, the real treasure.”
This review first appeared in New Dawn magazine, issue no. 145
But don’t be fooled by the plethora of photographs and drawings; this is no lightweight glossary of the subjects that have been covered and re-covered so many times… this is a serious and scholarly work in all its detail.
The author has brought together twelve of the perennial subjects of the High Medieval period that fascinate and intrigue so many of us. From the Black Madonnas to the Knights Templar, from the Cathars to the Magdalene, Dr Ralls brings both her professional expertise and her personal passion to her work, creating an eminently readable book for both serious student and curious reader alike.
It is not a reference book… yet it is full of information and leaves a trail of references to follow. It is not a travelogue, yet descriptive writing takes you on a journey through time and landscape. It is not fiction, but it is full of the high romance of the Troubadours. What it is, is something that will appeal to anyone with an interest in the period, or simply in the mysteries it has generated.
You could sit down for a serious session of reading, or dip in and out at leisure… either way, the book will undoubtedly get your attention.
Each of the twelve main sections of the book deals with one particular mystery. Chapter Ten, for example, looks at Rosslyn Chapel and its environs with an unmatched intimacy. Dr Ralls knows the Chapel well and tells the story of the place, its people, its legends and landscapes with an insider’s eye. We learn of the original plans for the cruciform building, as well as the story of the Apprentice Pillar; we delve into Freemasonry and the Rosslyn-Hay manuscript, passing via the Rosicrucians to the ‘treasure’ of Rosslyn.
Throughout, the author’s own curious mind traces a personal journey of enquiry and discovery; always academically sound, frequently spiritual, sometimes lyrical, you can see how deeply some of the places, stories and concepts touch the writer at a personal level, and it is this that sets the book apart from many drier works.
The book is fully indexed and comes with appendices that would be worth the purchase price on their own… a comprehensive set of notes and an incredibly detailed bibliography to point the reader towards further information on their preferred subjects.
“May each topic covered here become a doorway, a portal, into a new Quest for all readers to explore,
deepen, and enrich their lives.”
She indeed takes the reader on a very intriguing journey that inspires a desire to travel and explore the great mysteries from the Templars to Rosslyn Chapel. A must read for anyone with a curiosity for medieval history, myths, and legends.
COLONEL (Ret) Craig L. Carlson, GCTJ, GMTJ, KSG