Revelations of the Aquarian Age is the second book of a planned trilogy, the first of which was Revelations of the Ruby Crystal. I did not read the first book and I'm not sure it would have helped me understand more of the second book if I had. The good news is that the books can be read separately. Sadly, the story aims to be deep but often reads like a torrid Harlequin romance novel.

In the first chapter, Jennifer, an American photographer, marries Armando, an Italian fine art painter. The wedding takes place in the family's Tuscan castle and the dialogue sounds pompous with a description of wealth intended to impress. As the story developed the feeling that this is a romance novel masquerading as a philosophical adventure never left me.

Taking inspiration from The Da Vinci Code, the hypothesized marriage of Jesus and Mary Magdalene is the main theme. Revelations' twist is the addition of several New Age ideas and conspiracy theories expanding the reach of secret societies back 17,000 years. Besides a fascination with early Christian philosophies that fell out of the canon of modern Christianity, Hand Clow also confusingly connects Jesus to Artemis of Ephesus and Goddess worship, reptilian possession, Atlantis, and the Templars hiding the Holy Grail in North America. This mishmash of heretical Christian theology and Ancient Alien level “scholarship” leads one to wonder whether the intent was to represent as many fringe ideologies as possible. The back cover summary is an accurate description of the storyline.

The characters seek to reveal mysteries that certain powerful Italian families have been holding secret and passing from father to son for untold generations. They use psychic powers to unlock past life traumas and shine light on their current investigation into the suppressed story of Jesus as a regular married man. Supposedly the Pope is only vaguely aware of the knowledge these families hold. Armando, the painter, is compelled to paint an image of Jesus trying to float into the heavens while an enraptured and clearly in love Mary Magdalene tries to hold him down by the feet. A bee that he paints unconsciously is said to connect this painting to Artemis, the Greek Goddess who ruled over bees. The painting is key to opening the Christ consciousness in the world.

A continuous theme throughout the novel is the corruption and sexual abuse of the Catholic Church and rape. Some of the characters admit to being molested by priests as children. Fortunate for the reader, these events are discussed but not relived. However some may find the sex scenes between the newly weds disturbing. Armando is described as being taken control of by a reptilian. At first I thought this was a description of the animalian, lower brain stem urges but in reading reviews of the first novel of this trilogy I learned that other readers believe this is a description of reptilian possession, a theory about reptiles taking over the bodies of humans to rule the world. Armando loses control. The sex scenes stop a few steps short of rape fantasies. The combination of obsession with ossuary reliquaries, the Talpiot tomb and the return of the Christ Consciousness to the world in the new age of Aquarius with these tawdry sex scenes might have been written to elicit shock.

World events, from the migration of Syrians into Western Europe to the ISIS attacks give a strange contrast because these are fairly straight forward depictions of the events. I suspect they were used as kind of a foil so the reader would see that this is accurate and perhaps not question the theological assertions. On page 115, Hand Clow's characters dialogue: “you just have to trust me or go read The Lost Gospel (by Simcha Jacobovici) yourself, but you won't....” Without proper scholarship, we are to believe that the story of Joseph the Just and Aseneth his wife is an encoded text in which they are surrogates for Jesus and Mary Magdalene. According to Hand Clow, the story of Joseph and Aseneth “is a theology of redemption by sacred sex.” In this wacky version of the Biblical story, Aseneth also represents the Greek Goddess Artemis who by her marriage to Jesus becomes the bridge to God. This utter confusion of Christian and pagan mythology might have been rendered less confusing if this book were a choose your own adventure story. If you would like to follow the pagan path to redemption, choose option 1: sacred sex and Goddess worship. If you prefer to follow the teachings of the ex-communicated Marcion, choose option 2.

As a silly novel to while away the time, it's mildly entertaining, sometimes laughable.

~review by Larissa Carlson

Author: Barbara Hand Clow
Bear & Company
310 pages, $18.00