Book review: Dawn Behind the Dawn

by Geoffrey Ashe



Seven. Seven, 7, seven. Most of the book is taken up with this mystical number, a number with little practicality to explain its lofty status. Our seven-day week, for example, derives directly from the Hebrew reverence for this number, but it’s clumsy; seven divides neatly into neither a 30-day month nor a 365-day year. Why not a five-day week?

As a scholar of Revelation, I’m certainly familiar with the number seven. Seven churches, seven seals, seven angels, seven trumpets, seven bowls of wrath, seven-headed dragons, and more. The number seven bleeds into the Gospel of John as well, with seven I AM’s and seven signs. But the mysticism of this number precedes Hebrew beliefs and is inexplicably common throughout several civilizations, dating back thousands of years.

The subtitle of Ashe’s book is “A Search for Earthly Paradise,” and while the analysis of the number seven is interesting, it isn’t worth half the book; it doesn’t bring us very close to paradise. More interesting is the author’s research into shamanism and the various myths of a northern mountain paradise, an exalted Eden.

In the end, uncovering an earthly paradise is revealed to be too lofty a goal; at best, the most the author uncovers is a distant memory of a golden age of female shamans, with implications about a cultural source or seedbed somewhere between Siberia and Mongolia, which may have been a sort of paradise of Goddess wisdom. By book’s end, even this has dissolved into a number of obscure theories about the origins of our myths and mystical numbers. I’m afraid paradise is forever lost, my friends.

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