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Everything Oahspe - About Oahspe Origin and History of Oahspe - Book review by Sean Casteel January 15, 2010
 

A UFO DIGEST BOOK REVIEW
OAHSPE AND THE REMARKABLE MR. NEWBROUGH
A brief article on OAHSPE: Raymond A. Palmer Tribute Edition
by Sean Casteel

What is OAHSPE? The answer to that question is a complicated one. For starters, it is a book by a man named John Ballou Newbrough, who claims it is a New Bible. It is also an extremely long and complex mixture of religious history and prophecy that has at times the feel of science fiction as it grapples faithfully with ancient scripture while at the same time adding a whole new mythology of creation and the ethics God requires of his Chosen People today. There are those who claim it is the most arc kind of blasphemy and must be thoroughly denounced so that no one is taken captive by its enthralling yet "demonic" rewriting of some of the Biblical stories as we know them. arch

Let us begin with the story of OAHSPE's "sort of" author, John Ballou Newbrough. An entry from the "Occultism and Parapsychology Encyclopedia" is posted on a website called Answers.com and gives the reader an excellent history of Newbrough and his controversial take on the ultimate spiritual truths of God as handed down to mankind through the ages.

Newbrough was born near Springfield, Ohio, on June 5, 1828, the son of a schoolteacher. He was educated in the local schoolhouse and devoted much time to self-education as well. He attended the Cincinnati Medical College and practiced both medicine and dentistry. In 1949, he migrated to California and was fortunate to be there for the great Gold Rush of that historic year. He married a woman named Rachel Turnbull and the couple moved to New York where Newbrough resumed his medical and dental practice. Around this time he began to devote himself to the emerging Spiritualist movement and became a trustee of the New York Spiritualist Assocation. His Spiritualist interests were not shared by his wife and may have contributed to their eventual divorce.
It is claimed that Newbrough had remarkable psychic gifts. He could allegedly paint in total darkness with both hands at once. He was also able to close his eyes and read printed pages of any book in any library as well as to bring back recollections of astral travels or projections. He was even said to be able to lift weights of as much as a ton without apparent effort while under the control of certain spirits.

But Newbrough grew bored with the standard forms of contact with the spirits and wanted to engage them in gathering more important metaphysical information. Thus he set in motion the events that resulted in "OAHSPE: A Kosmon Bible in the Words of Jehovah and His Angel Ambassadors."

He told the story of what had happened in a letter to the editor of a publication called "The Banner of Light." Dated January 21, 1883, the letter said, "I was crying for the light of Heaven. I did not desire communication for friends or relatives or information about earthly things; I wished to learn something about the spirit world, what the angels did, how they traveled, and the general plan of the universe. I was directed to get a typewriter which writes by keys, like a piano. This I did, and I applied myself industriously to learn it, but with only indifferent success. For two years more the angels propounded me with questions relative to heaven and earth, which no mortal could answer very intelligently."

One morning the die was cast for real. A light struck the backs of both of Newbrough's hands and led him to his typewriter for fifteen minutes of a vigorous pounding of the keys. Though he had never mastered the art of typing on his own, suddenly he was serving as a channel for a very competent typist. He was told not to read what he was typing, and, fearful of losing his spiritual connection to his source, he obeyed that order reverently. The basic pattern repeated itself morning after morning.

He spoke little to the people around him about the typewriter channeling process or perhaps more accurately "automatic writing." One morning he looked out the window and saw that the light animating his hands extended out his window and up into the heavens. Three pairs of hands materialized physically over his head, and a female angel stood behind him with her hands on his shoulders.

"For 50 weeks," Newbrough's letter continued, "this continued, every morning, half an hour or so before sunrise, and then it ceased. I was told to read and publish the book, "OAHSPE." The peculiar drawings in "OAHSPE" were made with pencil in the same way."

Newbrough claimed that the book came from the higher heavens and was "directed and looked over by God, the creator's chief representative in the heavens of this earth." A group formed around Newbrough's revelations and in 1883 they named themselves the "Faithists of the Seed of Abraham," a term that came from the book. They moved to Las Cruces, New Mexico, where they established Shalam, a community founded to carry out the "OAHSPE" injunction to care for foundlings and orphans.

Newbrough married a second time, choosing a woman from among the Faithist community. By 1891, a residential home had been erected capable of housing 50 disadvantaged children, but an outbreak of influenza devastated the area and Newbrough was stricken and died. His associate Andrew Howland continued the community for a time, but it quickly disintegrated.

But the book that inspired the Faithist movement lives on. While it has been published in many different ways and forms, the most recent republication of note is the new Raymond A. Palmer Tribute Edition from Inner Light Publications, a massive effort spearheaded by publisher Timothy Green Beckley. Not only is the original text of "OAHSPE" beautifully rendered (it is more than 1,200 pages long!) but also included are the complete pencil drawings that Newbourgh did as well as the original color paintings of the Prophets that Newbrough channeled in his darkened office. Some editions may boast of leather book jackets and fancier binding, but there is no other edition in the world that has all the color paintings reproduced in their Technicolor glory.

As to why it is called the Raymond A. Palmer Tribute Edition, Beckley offers his explanation in a short introduction.
"Raymond A. Palmer," Beckley writes, "was a true pioneer, one of the most important individuals in the field of esoteric and arcane knowledge of the last 100 years. He was the editor of Amazing Stories, a futuristic ‘sci-fi' magazine published in the mid-1940s which presented the fantastic stories of Richard Shaver and his subterranean worlds. Palmer was also one of the founders of Fate Magazine and later started his own publishing empire with such titles as Mystic, Search, Forum and Space World.

"He also issued reprints of hard to find works," Beckley continued. "For a while, he possessed the only copy of a first edition of "OAHSPE" and issued 2000 copies in a private edition even at a financial loss just to get the word out about this amazing book, which was one of his all time favorites."

Palmer was an early mentor to Beckley, helping the young fledgling paranormal journalist establish his first toeholds in the publishing business, so it is with much affection that Beckley next presents Palmer's own short essay on "OAHSPE," and why the late editor and publisher thought it was such a significant piece of work. Palmer waxes ecstatic over Newbrough's melding of science with religious mythology and the profound use of new words and spiritual languages employed to express the history and meaning of Creation and the gods and angels who inhabit it. The title "OAHSPE" itself is one of those newly revealed words and translates as "Sky, earth and spirit. The all; the sum of corporeal and spiritual knowledge as at present."

Palmer writes, "If you should happen to have a mystical streak in your makeup "OAHSPE" ought to prove a goldmine of interest to you. The subject of religion, as related to history (OAHSPE's history) is an intriguing one. If you have any ideas about life after death, about ‘heaven' or ‘hell,' here is a book that has as much claim to greatness as does Milton's "Paradise Lost" and "Paradise Regained."

"And finally, to the philosopher, here is another ‘complete' picture of things as they might really be," Palmer goes on. "Or, as might better be said, as close to reality as any concept can be. Reality is that elusive thing which is impossible to reach. We conceive of no ultimate reality, of no ultimate Creator, of no ultimate truth - and in that sense, "OAHSPE" will be as eminently acceptable to the philosopher as any philosophy yet devised; and who can say to what degree it is ‘reality approached'?"

Perhaps we should catch our breath a little and look at some of the claims made for "OAHSPE." A new and more relevant Bible? A mystical work equal to the classics of Milton, and perhaps we should throw in Dante for good measure?

While this reviewer has read only a small part of the more than 1,200 pages of "OAHSPE," some definite impressions did take shape. Like all "inspired" scripture, there is a living energy to the words on the printed page. It reminded me of a few lines from Bob Dylan, from his 1975 song "Tangled Up In Blue," which go like this: "And every one of those words rang true and glowed like burning coal, Pouring off of every page like it was written in my soul."

Again, that sounds like high praise indeed, right? Just what is it about "OAHSPE" that produces this kind of positive yet extreme reaction? Perhaps it strikes such resonant chords within us because it is what it claims to be, the words of Jehovah and his multitudes of angels and servants as given to a 19th century dentist who had been a clairvoyant and clairaudient since childhood and eventually attained to his destiny as a true prophet.

"OAHSPE" is perhaps too lengthy and complex to approach as reading for pleasure, but it will most likely reward the reader who devotes reasonable and patient time and energy to it. It fleshes out ideas and events only briefly touched on in the Bible. For example, Revelation 12:7 says, "Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought." "OAHSPE" does more than briefly mention that heavenly war, it gives a blow by blow account of it. It's the kind of passages that Ray Palmer said had science fiction overtones, with the various gods of the earth fighting it out in the skies above us mere mortals. It should also be noted that "OAHSPE" includes the first known reference to a "starship," which is especially significant in view of the fact that the book was published in 1882, many decades before the term became commonplace. Even total skeptics must admit that there is still a kind of prescience at work there.

As stated at the beginning of this review, there are a few websites that denounce "OAHSPE" as blasphemy. Perhaps if Newbrough had not made such vaunted claims for it, calling it a "New Bible," he would not have drawn such virulent criticism. Whenever you write anything that has to do with your personal religious beliefs, you will inevitably create controversy and discord. Nevertheless, it is a testimony to his devout faith in his otherworldly sources that he took that kind of risk and called it a New Bible, as he was instructed to do.

In any case, "OAHSPE" still functions as a kind of 19th century "Theory of Everything," an ambitious effort to explain the entire universe both seen and unseen. As Palmer so rightly points out, while it cannot be called the complete truth of Creation, which we as mortals are not capable of knowing anyway, it still manages to make as close an approach to that probable truth as anything written in the post-Biblical era.

If you enjoyed this article, please visit Sean Casteel's "UFO Journalist" website at www.seancasteel.com

THE END

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