the Ringing cedars of Russia
Vladimir Megre English translation by John Woodsworth

Book 8, part 2. The Rites of Love (2006)

A voyage of self-discovery

Translator’s Afterword


And the Lord said unto me, Arise, take thy journey before the people...

— Moses (Deut. io: n)


It has been a long and interesting journey indeed. This journey began for me in the autumn of 2004 — in a manner of speaking, aboard ship. The ship was the Patrice Lwnumba, and belonged to one Vladimir Nikolaevich Megre, a seasoned entrepreneur who traded up and down the Ob River in Western Siberia, selling produce and manufactured goods brought from southern cities to northern villages and buying up local handicrafts in return. As with the vast majority of Megre’s readers, the description of the Lumumba in Book 1, Chapter 1 (“The ringing cedar”), served as my first introduction to the much more powerful (mentally speaking) literary vessel known as the Ringing Cedars Series (RCS).

I was invited on board the RCS by its editorial ‘Captain’, Leonid Sharashkin, who had in turn been commissioned by Admiral’ Megre to sail across the seas and bring the ship’s precious cargo of ideas to the land of Anglophonia. I was hired as an English-speaking ‘navigator’ familiar with this new land’s linguistic waters, and equipped by forty years’ experience in Russian-English translation to present these ideas in a format capable of reaching the hearts and minds of Anglophones. The adventure sounded promising, and, admittedly impelled by a sense of divine guidance, I gladly signed on, eager to set sail with a Yo-heave-ho! (or Ey-ukhneml — as the Volga boatmen

were said to chant). Eight times (count them!), no sooner had we delivered a shipment to its destination than we went back for more.

Now, as we approach a layover of indefinite duration (following the completion of our ninth voyage), I can look back and honestly say that the experience really has delivered on its promises — these trips have been truly rewarding in terms of both excitement and education,1 and I am actually going to miss the many ups and downs that my editor and I have been tossed about by in this particular venture in literary navigation. Part of me will be sad, at last, to disembark onto terra firma (safer, perhaps, but not nearly as exciting), but I shall content myself with the ‘glad’ part — watching from afar as the nine shipments of ideas we helped deliver begin bearing fruit in the consciousness and lives of Americans, Australians, Britons, Canadians, New Zealanders, South Africans and countless others who for some reason have had the English edition of the RCS land in their hands.

From a translator’s point of view, each of the linguistic shoals, sandbanks and icebergs we met along the way (not to mention the occasional typhoon!) offered a particular challenge. Some of these challenges were more formidable in appearance than others. My editor and I soon discovered that the task at hand was not just a matter of translation, pure and simple, for we were soon confronted in our journey by a whole host of cultural phenomena (references to people, places, institutions, historical events and cultural traditions) that would not be as familiar to Westerners as they were to native Russian readers of the Series, and hence required (sometimes substantial) research and documentation.


Mindful of the lessons of the Titanic, I hope we were at least moderately successful in resisting the temptation to place too much trust in technology or to become over-confident and over-reliant on our own previous professional experience.  The above-mentioned challenges, both large and small, were met through constant reference to both paper-published and on-line ‘charts’ (Russian and English dictionaries, thesaurus- es, encyclopaedias and Google searches) — sometimes it came down literally to ‘phone a friend’, and on several occasions to a prayer for more of that ‘divine guidance’ that had urged me to climb aboard in the first place! Not only that, but results were checked over and over again before being entered into the final ‘log’.

On occasion we even found ourselves exploring hitherto uncharted waters and had to navigate, as it were, by the seat of our pants. For example:

How to describe a Russian dacha and its primary function as a vegetable-raising centre to North Americans (and other anglophones) raised on vacation cottages with their swimming, boating and sundry recreational facilities?

How to select a suitable English equivalent for the word chelovek — a Russian word that still designates a human being of either gender — when faced with a choice between (a) human, derived from words associated with lower concepts (like the ground) and (b) man, which originally (like chelovek) described a ‘thinking, intelligent being’ of either gender but has since become narrowed in meaning to include (in popular parlance, at least) only half the human race?

How to portray dolmens and other ‘sacred sites’ to a culture more accustomed to high-rise construction sites and Internet web sites?5

How to put across the concept of one’s millennia-old Rodina (‘Motherland’) to readers whose roots in their current place of residence may go back no more than a few years or even mere months?6

How to express concepts of the pre-Christian Vedic Russian culture in an intelligible manner to English-speak- ers, when such concepts are still unfamiliar to many Russians themselves in their native tongue?!7

How to reproduce the author’s plethora of writing styles (from ‘choppy novice writer’ to authentic-sounding ‘blue- collar dialogue’ to the ‘poetic prose’ of Anastasia’s metaphysical descriptions — not to mention poetry itself) in such a way as to convey to the reader not only the semantic meaning, but, just as importantly, the literary feeling of the original work?8

It is the RCS’s readers (even more than its literary critics) who will be the ultimate judges of our success in meeting these challenges.

Then, beyond the translation questions (which, after all, can sometimes get bogged down in the nitty-gritty of historical etymology and psycholinguistic nuances), lies the broader issue of how the Series as a whole is reaching an anglophone readership far more attuned to Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek or J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter than to the Holy Bible or the a readership that is only too ready and willing to embrace phenomena that lie outside traditional physical perception, provided that the works presenting them are duly confined to the ‘Fiction’ or ‘Occult’ shelves of their local library, bookshop or video store.

After all, one doesn’t have to read too far into the RCS before encountering passages that look as though they might be right at home in a Star Trek episode or a sci-fi novel — Anastasia’s telepathic ray,    for example, or the “fiery sphere” described to the author as watching over Anastasia as a baby.11 Or her later reference to the not-so-mythical fire-breathing “Gorynytch Serpent”.

It is all too easy, on the basis of such examples, to dismiss the whole Series as just another (albeit very intricately woven) sci-fi yarn. It is all too easy, upon first glance, to classify Anastasia’s descriptions (in this present volume, for example) of so-called ‘pagan’ rites in the pre-Christian Vedic Russian civilisation as just another fanciful foray into the esoteric, or the occult. Or to pass off the RCS as yet another entry in the ‘wishful thinking’ category, where a number of critics have pegged recent ‘feel-good’ films such as The SecretA

What distinguishes the RCS from science fiction (or, at least, from the vast majority of science fiction works) is the fact that it attempts to show how even such ‘far-fetched’ accounts as those mentioned above could actually refer to naturally occurring, scientifically explainable phenomena rather than just mere literary inventions or the occult fantasies of the human mind.14 After all, in 1865, Jules Verne’s From the Earth to the Moon was written and received as a science-fiction classic, only to turn into scientific reality a little more than a century later with the success of the Apollo XI Moon mission on 20 July 1969.15 As for the charge of‘occultism’, Anastasia (through the author) takes great pains, especially in Book 6, to distance her concept of the Universe from any kind of occult phenomena. These only lead mankind, she says, to being “completely disoriented as to the Space created by God”.16 And in regard to the “rites of love” in particular (described in the present book), Anastasia’s grandfather assures the author: “None of these rites was characterised by occult superstition, as today. Each one served as a school of higher learning, an examination by the Universe.”

Anastasia says... ’ Anastasia’s grandfather does... ’

Yes, in almost any discussion of Vladimir Megre’s Ringing Cedars Series among its readers, phrases like these tend to trip off the tongue without a second thought, leaving many outsiders (and even some ‘insiders’) to wonder: Who is this Anastasia? Which brings us to what may be the most frequently asked readers’ question of all — one which Quebec writer Mado Sauve chose as the opening sentence of her review of the Series in the Spring 2007 issue of Le Journal Vert-.

‘Anastasia existe-t-elle ?” (Does Anastasia exist?)

I have a feeling Sauve expresses what is on many readers’ minds as she continues:

Does she really live in the Siberian taiga or was she born of the imagination of a clever entrepreneur? Even after reading the first four {books} of the Series ... it is still difficult to answer this question.

A broad range of opinion on this issue has indeed been expressed to date by RCS readers collectively — from those who dismiss her as a mere figment of the author’s imagination to those who see her as the reincarnation of some ancient

prophet. But to me this only begs a further set of questions: What does it mean, to ‘exist’? Is ‘existence’ an objective or a subjective state? Is ‘existence’ confined to material perception, or can it be determined by non-material criteria (faith, for example)? Megre quotes Anastasia herself as saying:

“I exist for those for whom I exist.”  What could that possibly mean?

In pondering the question of the existence of Megre’s Anastasia and her family, it might be worthwhile considering a few other personages whose existence has been a subject for questioning over the ages — names like Shakespeare, Santa Claus (Father Christmas), Job in the Old Testament and even Christ Jesus in the New. In a civilisation so reliant upon physical, material evidence as the primary, if not the only criterion for proof of existence, perhaps it is little wonder that sometimes figures with a larger-than-life reputation fall prey to public suspicion as to their very existence. Are we not almost globally educated to be sceptical about anything that departs from a society-defined, materially determined norm?

Such is the case with the man considered to be the greatest writer the English-speaking world has ever produced. No simple village-dweller, some have said, could have possibly produced all the time-tested plays and sonnets credited to the Bard of Avon.  And yet few today would deny that the

writer universally known as Shakespeare actually existed in some form. After all, his masterpieces did not magically appear one day out of a vacuum!

Many people today, not only in America but elsewhere in the world, are familiar with the appeal of a little eight-year-old girl named Virginia O’Hanlon to the editor of the New 'York’s Sun newspaper in September 1897:

“Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, £If you see it in THE SUN it’s so.’ Please tell me the truth: is there a Santa Claus?”

And few can forget the key phrase (italicised below) from veteran newsman Francis Church’s memorable reply, even if they are not as familiar with the writer’s name or his remarkable justification for this reply:

Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except {what} they see...

Tes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy...

And lest anyone hasten to dismiss Santa Claus (in contrast to Shakespeare) as a completely mythical figure, it should be remembered that St Nicholas was indeed a real human being in the flesh. He was the Bishop of Myra in what is now western Turkey, back in the 3rd century C.E. It was his reputation for secret giving to the needy that eventually evolved into the popular story of the world’s ultimate holiday gift-giver.

A similar question hangs over the Old-Testament character of Job in the Bible. According to Dummelow’s Bible commentary:

It has always been a question whether the book of Job is to be regarded as history or parable. Among the Jews themselves the prevailing opinion was that it was strictly historical, though some of their Rabbis were inclined to think that the person of Job was created by the writer of this book in order to set forth his teaching on the problem that was vexing human thought. ... The opinion of Luther is probably the correct one, viz. that a person called Job did really exist, but that his history has been treated poetically.22

Can we expect a similar commentary to be written about the person of Anastasia a millennium or two hence?

While Job may indeed have been mainly an allegory written for moral instruction, what of that most celebrated among the human figures of the Bible — namely, Christ Jesus,4 whose life and works form the very foundation of the whole movement of Christianity? Many Christians believe Jesus to be the earthly incarnation of God Himself; others accept him, rather, as God’s Son and messenger to mankind, but there are few indeed who deny his historical existence. And yet the authenticity of the Gospel records is occasionally called into question, and not just by atheists.

It is instructive to examine the writings of two late-nine- teenth-century spiritual thinkers on this point — one of them a peasant philosopher in Russia and the other the founder and leader of a world-wide Christian movement headquartered in America. While neither of them actually question Jesus’ existence themselves, both shed a non-traditional light on the ultimate significance of that ‘existence’.

On 12 May 1888 the Molokan  peasant writer Fedor Ale-kseevich Zheltov (1859-1938), a deeply committed Christian, sent a treatise he had just written to Leo Tolstoy (whom he regarded as a mentor), entitled “On life as faith in Christ”.

Toward the end of the treatise he makes a rather startling declaration:

None of the actions and events accompanying Christ’s sermon are a stumbling-block for me — I do not rely upon them as a basis for understanding truth, and it makes no difference to me whether they happened or did not happen, or how they happened, whether they were imaginary or real, whether the Gospels were written by the apostles or by someone else — none of that makes a difference nor is it dear to me. What is dear to me is only the truth which Christ imparted — it in itself is a precious jewel and my task is to know its price and to know why it is so precious.25

About two decades later, on 1 December 1906, the discoverer of Christian Science,  Mary Baker Eddy (1821-1910), published a statement  in the weekly magazine she had founded, the Christian Science Sentinel' detailing her professional relations with Rev. James Henry Wiggin (whom she had hired as a publishing consultant) and refuting public allegations that he had had a hand in the authorship of her seminal work Science and health with Key to the Scriptures. In this statement she reports Rev. Wiggin as asking her the question: “How do you know that there ever was such a man as Christ Jesus?”

To which she replies (in part):

I do not find my authority for Christian Science in history, but in revelation. If there had never existed such a person as the Galilean Prophet {i.e., Jesus], it would make no difference to me. I should still know that God’s spiritual ideal is the only real man in His image and likeness.

It is evident that for both Zheltov and Eddy it was not the person of Christ Jesus that was sacred and significant, but the ideas (the ‘Christ ideas’, one might say) that Jesus presented to the world — ideas which could be effectively practised in our age and their practice taught to others, as Eddy proved not only by her own remarkable works of healing, but, more importantly, by the thousands upon thousands of spiritual healings brought about by her students, their students and students of their students, right up to the present day  For

these students, textbook study and class instruction, while an acknowledged help, inevitably have taken second place to individual prayer, to their own direct mental and spiritual connection to God as their ultimate Teacher and ultimate Healer.30

And, lest there be any doubt as to how Eddy viewed her own role as a presenter of the science of spiritual healing to the world, in her later years she stated unequivocally: “Those who look for me in person, or elsewhere than in my writings, lose me instead of find me.m

So now, perhaps, we can look at the Journal Vert reviewer’s question “Does Anastasia exist?” in a new light.


32 It was the same question Sauve had put to me in an interview in preparation for her review, where she quotes my reply (in French) along these lines: I believe that Anastasia certainly exists in some form, but not necessarily in a fleshly body visible to our material eyes, even though I would not rule that out. As I see it, there is no doubt that she exists as a very powerful idea and that she is a force of inspiration. She exists in the words, in the rich thoughts of feelings and promises as transcribed by Megre.

And today I would add (in the spirit of Zheltov): “She exists in the hearts of them who are ready to seek out and apply for themselves the ideas she presents, and this is what is truly dear to me.”

Does that mean that the author’s portrayal of Anastasia as a living human being is irrelevant or unimportant? Not at all. For some readers, accepting her as a bodily personage, at least to begin with, may be extremely helpful. By identifying with a figure who expresses what seem like incredible qualities of the Divine and yet still affirms “I am Man”,  many readers may get their first glimmer of awareness of their own innate capacities. But the more they read — especially in a second or third examination of a text they have read before — their initial impressions may gradually evolve away from personage and more into idea.

When Francis Church identified the real Santa Claus with the spiritual qualities of “love and generosity and devotion”, he did not thereby obliterate the image of a jolly old man in a sleigh from a young child’s mind, but enriched her temporary image of‘Santa’ with a new dimension, a new idea. As the child grew older and developed her reasoning capacities, she would have been able to retain this new idea in her thought even when she no longer clung to the old image of a personal gift-giver.

In each of the cases we have looked at, we can witness the evolution of an image at work in individual human thought.  In Book 6, Chapter 6 (“Imagery and trial”), Anastasia describes the image as “an entity of energy invented by human thought, ... created by a single Man or by several together”, and further likens it to an actor’s portrayal of a dramatic persona on stage — a portrayal in which “the invented image acquires a temporary embodiment”. Note that the portrayal of one and the same persona will vary from actor to actor, and even from performance to performance by the same actor, especially as the actor gains new insight into the deeper dimensions of the character he is portraying.

But just as Zheltov’s image of the central figure of the New Testament evolved into one focused more on the truth itself than the person of its human embodiment, just as Eddy (a real-life historical figure who frequently found herself targeted by both adoring worshippers and malicious critics) finally urged her followers to stop looking to her as a person and start practising the truths she revealed by healing their own and others’ mental and physical ailments, so Anastasia, whatever personal form she may possess, urges (through Megre) a similar charge upon her would-be followers.36

In Book 2, for example, in reply to the author’s query as to whether she personally might have been helping him in a particular situation, Anastasia tells him:

Everything in the Universe is interrelated. To perceive what is really going on in the Universe one need only look into one’s self.37

And in Book 3 when Vladimir expresses curiosity as to the extent of her abilities — “Can you answer any question confronting science today?” — Anastasia offers the following reply:

Many of them, perhaps. But every scientist — indeed, every Man — can find the answers. Everything depends upon the purity of one’s thoughts, and the motive for asking.

Over and over again she emphasises that the ideas and powers she possesses are within the grasp of every individual on the Earth, because they all come from the same source, i.e., the Creator (God). Over and over again both she and her grandfather keep urging Vladimir (and, by extension, every reader of the RCS) to resist the temptation to rely upon them as a personal source of wisdom and seek instead to find and utilise the ideas within themselves.

“Try not to wallow in all your information and contemplations, Vladimir,” Anastasia’s grandfather exhorts in Book 4. “Decide what’s real for yourself.”

And in Chapter 1 (“Love — the essence of the Cosmos”) of the current volume he accuses Vladimir of “laziness of mind” for constantly pestering him with questions when he should be looking for the answers within.  Subsequently he admonishes: “I speak, and you listen, and instead of working out your own conclusions in your thought, you are merely taking note of mine.”

Similarly, time and again Anastasia urges Vladimir not just to accept her conclusions at face value, but to reason things through for himself by logical thinking — a capacity which (as her grandfather points out), when not actively cultivated, is in danger of being lost by mankind.

She, too, warns the author against “laziness of mind”. In Book 8, Chapter 5 (“Divine nutrition”), when Vladimir confesses: “It’s still not too clear to me just how I should be thinking”, she gently assures him: “It will become clear if you are not too lazy to think.”

Again in Book 8, Anastasia cautions Vladimir to be wary of relying on words alone. When asked by Vladimir about the role of words, she replies: is not the words that are important, but, rather, people’s conscious awareness. Words, of course, are necessary to bring it forth. A conscious awareness of eternal life will help perfect Man’s way of life.

Words are similar to outward appearances: they often play an important role in shaping one’s initial conscious awareness of an idea. But, like one’s early person-focused impressions, they tend to fall away as the image evolves in the direction of the Divine.

Hence, if one is truly to follow Anastasia, it would seem wise to heed her own advice and start seeking her out (as many readers are already doing) not in person, and not just in words about her (as fascinating as those may be), but in idea — the idea which, she says time and again throughout the Series, exists in every single one of us, if we are only alert enough to harness our mental capacities to discover our own innate purity and power of thought in the likeness of our Creator. And then to start applying this idea to renewing and improving our day-to-day lives.

And because the evolution of an image is primarily an individual phenomenon (although yes, it may at times be collective, i.e., a shared individual experience), we shouldn’t be surprised if our own discovery of Anastasia and her idea appears to evolve in a different way or at a different pace from that of other readers, or is different from the perception we ourselves had in a previous reading.  Like an actor honing a portrayal on stage from performance to performance, each one of us is evolving our own image of her as a persona. But the more we seek and find her not so much “in history, but in revelation” — the more we focus on the message rather than on the person of the messenger — and within our own hearts and minds, the stronger a position we shall be in to discover harmony within ourselves and with others, and the more deeply we shall be able to comprehend and appreciate her own beautiful self-declaration: I exist for those for whom. I exist.

The power of the Anastasia idea’ presented throughout this Series was certainly one of the reasons I signed on to these ‘voyages’ three years ago, and the fascinating concepts that have multiplied therefrom have indeed made the whole venture most worthwhile.

Anastasia’s (and her grandfather’s) emphasis on the need for logical thinking and a conscious application of universal ideas to one’s life-practice is a clear example of how the RCS eminently transcends what is popularly classified as science fiction. In my Translator’s Preface to Book 1,1 described the work (and, by extension, the Series) as a chronicle of ideas — a metaphysical treatise

...set forth with both the supporting evidence of a documentary account and the entertainment capacity of a novel. In other words, it can be read as any of these three in isolation, but only by taking the three dimensions together will the reader have something approaching a complete picture of the book. And all three are infused with a degree of soul-felt inspiration that can only be expressed in poetry

Having completed the whole Series, I would now add that it is a chronicle which touches upon very many of the disciplines traditionally defined as ‘academic’, but in the context of their interrelation with each other and their application to our daily human life. As I look back over the RCS, apart from its obvious focus on ecology and environmental science, I can think of references to astronomy, biology, chemistry, physics, forestry, agriculture, horticulture, geology, archaeology, engineering, architecture, medicine and the healing arts, psychology and psychotherapy, sociology, criminology, political science, economics, philosophy, religion, drama, literature, music and poetry, linguistics, foreign languages and quite possibly several more — all presented with a view to their application to everyday life, including work and leisure activities, along with love, marriage, family and other interpersonal relationships. The voyage of the RCS has taken in all these ‘ports of call’ along the way, and not just from a sailor’s point of view (try an astronaut’s perspective!). The voyage, indeed, reaches unto the very stars!

In line with the ‘Moses’ epigraph above, I have now taken my journey And by the time you read this, you may well have already taken yours, at least once. But I trust the ideas you have taken in along the way will stand you in good stead for many ages yet to come.

As your English-speaking ‘navigator’, I salute you and wish you a hearty Bon voyage! as you set out on (or continue) your own voyage of self-discovery in the likeness of the Creator.

See you on a star! On a star see уa!


Ottawa, Canada

31 December 2007 John Woodsworth


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