Thursday, 29 September 2011
To commemorate the feast of the Archangel Michael, the signature date on my book Mysterium Artorius, I am re-posting this piece, originally published here exactly 2 years ago, that I feel to be appropriate for the date considering his role in the great War in Heaven. Some of this can be found in the preview section of its website. The Glastonbury Qabalah section also appeared in Avalon magazine in 1997. The most notable upgrade is the image above, painted last winter by Yuri Leitch, that will eventually appear on the cover of a whole book covering this subject.
Remarkable events occurred during the Second World War that I have come to feel represent Glastonbury’s finest hour so far. It seems strange to me that they are not better known. To any occultists of the time it was obvious that the Nazis were making use of magical techniques. They had helped to mobilise a nation’s consciousness through the manipulation of folklore and mythology. The energy unleashed by this was immensely powerful and had easily swept all before it.
Dion Fortune felt that a British response was urgently needed. We had plenty of traditions of our own that could be invoked. The mediocrity represented by years of appeasement and non-entities like Neville Chamberlain needed to be transcended. What followed was a new departure in the history of magic.
Dion Fortune as magical priestess by Chesca Potter.
Shortly after the start of the war, letters were sent out every week to a group of associates across the country. They contained details of visualisation meditations that were to be carried out in unison every Sunday morning. The focus became Glastonbury Tor. Imagery gradually built up over a period of months. The participants would find it coming to life and developing of its own accord. Feedback would be exchanged and this would influence the next sequence. It was believed that messages from discarnate sources were received.
To begin with, the scene consisted of a large cavern inside the Tor. A red rose on a cross of gold hung in the air.
For those initiated in the Golden Dawn tradition this was seen as a more detailed glyph covered in magical symbols.
Tor Rose Cross and Qabalistic colour rays by Yuri Leitch.
Three rays of light, red, purple and blue, emanated from a point above and behind the cross.
The fully developed form of the imagery saw Christ at the apex of the converging rays. The purple light was central, reaching down behind and beneath the cross.
Our Lady of Glastonbury
At its base could be seen the Virgin Mary, holding a chalice.
The red beam came down at an angle to the left of the cross and culminated in an image of Arthur, sitting on a white horse and holding Excalibur aloft.
To the right of the cross, the blue ray projected a vision of Merlin, holding an orb of sovereignty. The imagery was arranged over the broad schemata of the Qabalistic Tree of Life, a design and philosophy that Fortune had written a whole book about, it having formed the basis of her magical education.
To me, it seemed a very powerful equilibration of Britain’s pagan and Christian heritage. When it mattered, they functioned from a space of unity. From this inner plane realm, spiritual forces streamed through into the soul of the nation fortifying it against the potent will of Nazism. That’s what Dion Fortune and her associates believed and my temperament inclines me to agree with them.
My sense of that time was hugely expanded by the unbearably poignant powerful feeling of the Tor as the spiritual heart of the nation, from where the guardians of the Grail fought the forces of darkness. There was something else that amplified my feeling for the magical Battle of Britain even further. I’d been fascinated by the subject of Nazi occultism since the start of the decade. I had done a dissertation on it towards my degree. I saw something very clearly that Dion Fortune may never have known the details of.
Himmler had taken control of a Schloss at Wewelsburg in Westphalia. He had lavished immense time and resources into turning it into a Grail castle for his SS. People can argue about the extent of Hitler’s occult interests and their effect on his career but with Himmler, there is no doubt of the matter.
The SS were quite clearly conceived of as a modern chivalric order after the manner of the medieval Teutonic Knights. Schloss Wewelsburg was a place for their elite. It was a shrine to German history. There was actually a circular table there around which twelve men would gather.
Ceremonies took place in the crypt that one can only speculate upon. Without doubt, processes of a meditational, ritualistic and occult nature were generally engaged in over a period of years.
We don’t have to go as far as Trevor Ravenscroft in The Spear of Destiny as to see Himmler as some empty shell manipulated by demonic forces, but the man’s track record speaks for itself. Wewelsburg was his spiritual base. It was believed that many ley lines passed through it. This was where he and his buddies like Reinhard Heydrich recharged their batteries.
The thriller writer Duncan Kyle wrote a novel about Wewlesburg. It’s a tale of espionage rather than occultism but its title evokes the magical reality: Black Camelot. The place can be thought of as a kind of antithesis of Glastonbury, it’s polar opposite.There is no mention of it in Dion Fortune’s published letters of the period. It does seem that the Nazis managed to keep the place secret. How appropriate that the Tor, our British inner plane Grail castle, situated in a landscape imbued with Arthurian associations, functioned as the focus of spiritual resistance.
There’s been a tendency in recent years to try and detrimentally deconstruct the myth of the finest hour. It really does seem that Hitler was never completely committed to invading Britain. His main concern was always Russia. The construction of fleets of apparent invasion barges at channel ports was, on one level, a form of psychological warfare. Coupled with the Luftwaffe bombing campaign, he hoped to intimidate Britain into surrender. Therefore, so some have argued, the Battle of Britain wasn’t really that important after all and so on. Our stiff upper lip, fight them on the beaches attitude had nothing to do with the reality of the situation and subsequently, by some trick of logic, becomes devalued. I shall merely say by way of response, that the number of people who knew where Hitler was really at was very small. None of the German soldiers along the French coast had any sense of being involved in some huge ruse. Their superiors were not in on the joke either. As the barges got built, all were full of apprehension and excitement for an imminent huge undertaking. A lot of plans were drawn up for it. The pilots of the planes that bombed Britain were not exhibiting the relaxed disposition of a bunch of guys out having a laugh. They were potentially open to attack at any moment and therefore the whole business was clearly a matter of life and death to them. To the British public and armed forces, the threat of invasion was perceived as the most fundamental and urgent reality. It brought out a quality of response that has become the stuff of legend. The basic point is this: invasion may never have been as real a possibility as it seemed but the morale and character demonstrated by the British in the face of that apparent threat was real and nothing can diminish that. Period.
At the time of the fiftieth anniversary of the end of the Second World War in 1995, I was inspired to recreate Dion Fortune’s visualisation of the inner realm of the Tor. The result was entirely satisfying and I gave considerable attention to it during the time of my moving to Glastonbury shortly after. On December 6th 1996, in acknowledgement of her birthday, I put on a public event in Glastonbury with the intention of using the same material again to see how a group of people would respond to it in the modern world. I was very aware, through reading the wartime letters collected together and published by Gareth Knight as The Magical Battle of Britain, that Fortune believed the Glastonbury work was not just relevant to the immediate circumstance of the war but also to the regeneration of the national consciousness in the future and the birth of a New Age.
As the time drew near I found that I spontaneously thought of vivid imagery that developed from the original core to create a full Glastonbury Qabalah. Notice that I term it a Glastonbury Qabalah, not the Glastonbury Qabalah. I claim no exclusivity or definitiveness about it. It may mutate as time dictates. The main point is that cultivating a feeling for “British music” and the Grail epoch material so important to the western mystery tradition was a vital precondition for the appearance of such inspiration. Much work was later done with this revival and expansion of Dion Fortune’s work, including an episode on the night of Princess Diana’s funeral, but that forms part of another tale.
This material is presented in a form which can be used for pathworking visualisations if desired.
The Company of the Avalon of the Heart invite you to join them.
Come, by whatever means, to the cavern in the Mount of Illumination, where the brethren assemble and those who come in light appear. In the air hangs, in a blaze of light, a red rose on a cross of gold or, for those with such a background, the Golden Dawn Rose Cross in all its complex detail. This image is of the sphere of Tiphareth, realm of the sun, equilibrium and harmony. By its light is the cavern made visible. A celestial perpetual choir intones unseen in the background.
Be aware that a winding stone staircase cut in the rock joins the cavern with other chambers above and below it.
Beneath is a path that reaches deep into the earth where dwell ancient ones, ancestors, faery folk, elementals, chthonic deities.
Immediately above the cavern is a Hall of Learning, a library, where volumes of arcane knowledge await the seeker. Look in its books for answers to your deepest questions.
Above this is a Grail Chapel. A place of devotion and grace, of sublime spiritual power. This corresponds to the physical space of the church and monastery atop the Tor.
The Tor tower is the physical sign of an inner plane Watchtower where a silent watcher, cowled and cloaked, stands in perpetual vigil, seeing the inner tides of the destiny of nations.
All of these places are accessible but let those who would join the Watcher’s vigil take heed of the warning that here is a place of power not suitable for all.
Having sensed the other chambers of the Hill of Vision focus again on the cavern lit by the Rose Cross.
Above the cross, from the realm of Kether, the most high, a sphere of white light appears. Within it as vision and presence emerges the figure of Christ. He wears a diamond encrusted crown of pure white brilliance flecked with gold.
Beneath the cross appears a purple sphere of light. Yesod. Within it a vision of Glastonbury Abbey on a full moon night. The Virgin Mary walks along the centre of its ruins. She wears a black cloak covered with shining silver stars. A crescent moon adorns her head. She carries a Grail Chalice. The geometric grid plan of the Abbey foundations light up in silver from beneath the ground. The presence of the monks of the Company of Avalon can be sensed all around.
The monks of the Company of Avalon from Glastonbury Abbey
To the right of the centre of the cross a blue sphere. Chesed. Within it, seated on a stone crystal throne, is Merlin. He is dressed in blue-violet and deep purple and is holding a diamond sceptre and orb. Representing the most archaic of lineages, he wears a stag-antlered headpiece. A unicorn can be glimpsed somewhere behind him.
Opposite, to the left of the centre of the cross, a red sphere forms in the air. Geburah. Here is Arthur, sitting on a stationary white horse, holding aloft the sword Excalibur.
So is a cross formulated that harmonises Glastonbury and Britain’s Christian and Pagan heritage. Around the four points of the Rose Cross the images hover in their spheres of coloured light in the great cavern. Four more spheres will now join them.
Joseph of Arimathea with the Glastonbury Zodiac by Yuri Leitch
On the right above Merlin’s sphere, but a little below the level of that of Christ, a grey ball of light appears. Chokmah. In it a vision of Wearyall hill. It is daylight. A grey mist surrounds the foot of the hill like a sea. The sky above is a clear spring blue. Across it can be seen shining the outline forms of the Glastonbury Zodiac. The Holy Thorn comes into focus. It is in bloom. Joseph of Arimathea is standing with his right outstretched hand around its trunk. He is facing to the left towards the Tor so we see in profile his bearded face.
Opposite, above the sphere of Arthur, comes Binah. Firstly a black sphere like ink. In that deep dense liquid darkness many flickering points of light can be seen. Moving nearer to them in vision they reveal themselves as innumerable candles. The location is the Chalice Well gardens at night. Many are present for a rite of silent contemplation. In the inner sanctum around the well-head, the vesica piscis cover is raised and its metalwork shines with reflected candle light. Standing to its left and facing right, wearing a black outer robe of concealment, is Morgan. A raven is perched on her shoulder. In the shadows behind, sensed more than seen, is another presence. A mature woman. Dion Fortune herself.
A vision of beauty triumphant
Beneath Merlin and the cross but above the level of Mary, on the right forms a green sphere. Netzah. In here is Chalice Hill in spring sunshine. The Tor can be seen behind. All around are spring flowers. Bees hover and buzz about them. Now comes a naked Venus like Botticelli’s. She wears a head-dress of roses. Women looking like the graces of Primavera accompany her. They are the Melissae, the Bee Priestesses. This is the inner plane realm of their secret garden. They are keeping bees for an alchemical nectar. Somewhere beyond the Tor they work their rites of the Chalice of Green Fire to bring a vision of beauty triumphant to earth.
Opposite, beneath Arthur, an orange sphere. Hod. Bride’s Mound as it is physically today. Superimposed upon the scene its inner plane reality as sanctuary and powerhouse of Brigit. A perpetual flame is burning. Priestesses go about their duties. Brigit stands to the forefront holding a snake staff.
Within the cavern now is access to a complete Glastonbury Qabalah and the chambers of the cavern itself. Any of these realms can be worked within. Perhaps connections seek to be made between them. And the conduit of manifestation, the earthing in Malkuth, is we ourselves and our lives that change through connection with these ideas. And it is the land itself. Following the end of an epochal century of word-historical destiny, Great Britain needs to take stock of its sacred history and inner resources to regenerate itself for the vast unknown future.
Let there be no misconception that because Christ, Mary, Merlin and Arthur represent old traditions that they are now ineffectual, outmoded and generally redundant. These forces were, at one point in the war, bravely invoked by Dion Fortune to purge the nation of all that was corrupt and inert so that progress could be made. This can be done again. Masks that these beings are given by different eras can likewise be purged and their raw essence remains. Arthur and Merlin are no staid Victorian gentlemen when they are contacted today. Indeed, during the two minutes silence on VE Day 1995, before the lighting of beacon fires across the nation, Arthur Pendragon was seen by one person as naked and powerfully ithyphallic within the Tor. The mysteries of Sophia and the Magdalene are now explicitly inherent in the Abbey vision of Mary. And an ever more enigmatic and powerful Gnostic, Essene, Buddhist, Druid, Magician, revolutionary (the list is endless) Christ calls the many emanations of the One to unity at the divine heart that is Consciousness itself. Is it any wonder that the totality of the mystery that Glastonbury represents is activating ever more strongly and that a beacon shines from the Mount of Illumination? Light your own torch from it and go forth. Now is the time.
Most of the text of this blog entry comes from Mysterium Artorius
Wednesday, 14 September 2011
Long time, no blog post.
What have I been doing?
First and foremost, the birth of my second son at the start of August made a bit of a difference to my writing schedule!
Secondly, after nearly a year of working on a Dion Fortune centred book that will be a companion volume to my Aleister Crowley and the Aeon of Horus, I have suddenly had a series of synchronicities and general indications that I need to return to Aquarian Phoenix, the follow-up to Avalonian Aeon. The material already written is full of 2012 related themes so it seems a good idea to try and actually finish it and get it published before that much anticipated year has come and gone. It's going to be unashamedly far-out in all the best ways, dealing with Glastonbury, Giza, Shambhala, Quetzalcoatl,and a Zechariah-Sitchin-free wealth of Nephilim material from the work of Andrew Collins. All of this will be focused around psychic questing and the seven Meonia swords.
I am also developing a new website with more options. When I feel it's fully ready, I will invite you all over.
Here then is a little taster of the work in progress, a section quite near the beginning that deals with the early nineties expansion of the crop circle phenomenon.
It was an event that rapidly attained mythic status, making verification of some of the details difficult to establish. The location was the quiet Wiltshire farming village of Alton Barnes, a few miles away from the famous megalithic sites of Avebury and Silbury Hill. During the early hours of the morning of July 12th 1990, the local dogs began barking and would not stop. Some accounts mention a thunderous rumbling sound in the sky, possibly suggestive of a low-flying plane. Farmer Tim Carson was moved to investigate his fields around 2.20am. He was aware of a vague anomalous shape in the wheat. Daylight revealed a scene that would soon be shared across the world via an immediately ravenous media. It was a huge crop formation consisting of circles, keys or tridents, rings, and straight lines, in a design that appeared both meaningful and inexplicable. The scale and design exceeded all previous manifestations. A uniform flatness of the indented crop, coupled with the clockwise swirling in the circular sections, added to the mystery. Local car batteries were now suddenly dead. It was as if a force field was emanating from the mysterious pictogram. TV crews, so it was said, found their equipment malfunctioning within it.
Strange circles had been appearing in summer fields with increasing regularity during the eighties. The subject had begun to intrude into popular consciousness. Theories ranging from rutting hedgehogs and plasma vortex whirlwinds to ETs had been put forward. 1989’s summary of the action so far, Circular Evidence by Pat Delgado and Colin Andrews, became a major publishing success. The Alton Barnes pictogram was a quantum leap in the phenomenon that made conventional naturalistic explanations seem unlikely.
In the weeks ahead, the Carson farm opened itself up to a remarkable influx of visitors drawn from across the world. A most peculiar mood was apparent. There was widespread euphoria. Strangers readily conversed. A kind of contact-high was in evidence. Simply setting foot in the temporary temple seemed to induce an altered state of consciousness. In some, these changes were to prove radical.
The agri-glyph seemed to be a message in some tantalising unknown language that many felt they somehow recognised and were strangely moved by. The image was rapidly spread through the media across the planet. Led Zeppelin featured it on the cover of their Remasters compilation album.
In the coming decade, what came to be generally known as Crop Circles would function in a similar way to the UFO phenomenon during the sixties, serving as a strange trigger effect whereby a whole expansive package of unusual ideas were activated. In fact Warminster, Britain’s major focal point for classic sixties UFOlogy, was remarkably adjacent to the main Wiltshire matrix. Some minds immediately leapt to Extra-Terrestrial conclusions. The ingenuity involved in interpretation was considerable.
Monday, 20 June 2011
To celebrate the season when our mythic landscape is most powerful and evocative I am reposting a unique version of the introductory mood-setting section of my first book Mysterium Artorius that was initially created 2 years ago.
Here can be found the entire chapter British Music embellished by photos,piccies (will be happy to acknowledge artist of Puck image if I can find out who they are), music videos, and some additional text inserted specially to focus on Kipling's Puck of Pook's Hill which begins on Midsummer Eve.
I have developed methods to enhance my receptivity and pleasure in the moods evoked by the landscape that involve artfully cultivating an ongoing mood, an ambiance, a constant background evocation. A relentless combination of history, art, literature, poetry, music, magic, and mysticism, fills me with the spirit of what the great literary seer Peter Ackroyd has called “English music” which I would adjust to “British music”. It’s like connecting with an indigenous landscape songline. There is nothing parochial and exclusive about the results.
See you the dimpled track that runs,
All hollow through the wheat?
O that was where they hauled the guns
That smote King Phillip's fleet.
See you our little mill that clacks,
So busy by the brook?
She has ground her corn and paid her tax
Ever since Domesday Book.
See you our stilly woods of oak,
And the dread ditch beside?
O that was where the Saxons broke,
On the day that Harold died.
See you the windy levels spread
About the gates of Rye?
O that was where the Northmen fled,
When Alfred's ships came by.
See you our pastures wide and lone
Where the red oxon browse?
O there was a City thronged and known,
Ere London boasted a house.
And see you, after rain the trace
Of mound and ditch and wall?
O that was a Legion's camping-place,
When Caesar sailed from Gaul.
And see you marks that show and fade,
Like shadows on the Downs?
O they are the lines the Flint Men made,
To guard their wondrous towns.
Trackway and Camp and City lost,
Salt Marsh where now is corn;
Old Wars, old Peace, old Arts that cease,
And so was England born!
She is not any common Earth,
Water or wood or air,
But Merlin's Isle of Gramarye
Where you and I will fare.
Rudyard Kipling. Puck's Song.
“Something eternal - universal - the very breath of freedom lives in this land. It stretches out, embracing the whole of humanity. It still speaks to us through the hills and the valleys, the rocks and caves mentioned in the Arthurian legends. The winds and the waves sing of it, the atmosphere is full of it. It is necessary to find contact with this invisible Power which, in only one of its forms, appears as the Arthur of the legend. This Power in reality is the Eternal Spirit of this country ---. Could we but realize this, a cultural element would be born again, English in its innermost depths. It speaks to all human beings wherever they live and to whatever nation they belong.”
Walter Johannes Stein. Is King Arthur a Historical Character?
“Legend and history and the vision of the heart blend in the building of the Mystical Avalon”.
Dion Fortune. Avalon of the Heart.
It begins with a sense of place. Arthur’s name has been attached to so many. Glastonbury and Tintagel best embody the feeling. Regardless of the strong historical arguments against the validity of their Arthurian associations, something seems to connect the legendary locations that frame his life from conception to burial. The fundamental factors are landscapes that profoundly impact on the human psyche, places that will inevitably attract a numinous mythology.
Neither place is just a repository of history and legend in the past tense, some kind of museum. That which has given them their unique identity remains alive and functioning, potent with power for transformation. I would affirm that there exist certain special places, somehow able to inspire the tribal tales that any culture needs to understand its identity and needs, its potential destiny. I believe that Glastonbury and Tintagel seem to be such places, where history and mythology, two hemispheres of one greater brain, are almost impossible to separate.
It was surely a mysterious quality of the landscape that attracted people to Glastonbury in the past. Geoffrey Ashe has noted this in King Arthur’s Avalon and Avalonian Quest. For example, the Tor can be seen from a considerable distance away. It totally dominates the visual field. As one approaches and circles around it, a continual shape-shifting is occurring. It presents a different aspect from every vantage point. And yet, there are places in the town where the Tor cannot be seen. The view from its summit is extensive but does not include the abbey, which is hidden by Chalice Hill, apart from the late addition of the abbot’s kitchen. The tower, which is clearly visible from miles away, doesn’t really seem that tall when you’re inside it. The early inhabitants of Britain led lives far more intimately connected to the land than most people do today. The distinctive qualities of the Glastonbury environs would suggest it was a place of the Otherworld. In those far-off times much of the area was underwater as well. The Tor and its adjoining hills would have been virtually islands. Despite subsequent draining much of the spell remains intact. The whole locale seems to participate in an endlessly shifting perspective.
John Cowper Powys in his astounding novel A Glastonbury Romance attempted to express, “the effect of a particular legend, a special myth, a unique tradition, from the remotest past in human history, upon a particular spot on the surface of this planet together with its crowd of inhabitants of every age and of every type of character”. The “special myth” is the book’s heroine, the Grail, “much older than Christianity itself”, for, “ages before any saint or Saviour of our present Faith appeared in Glastonbury --- the earth-goddess had her cauldron of the food of life safely guarded in our Island of the West.” “Its hero is the Life poured into the Grail. Its message is that no one Receptacle of Life and no one Fountain of Life poured into that Receptacle can contain or explain what the world offers us”.
Powys decided to make the landscape, history, and mythology of Glastonbury a character in his novel. The different elements cannot be separated. They constitute an elusive something that can interact with a person as strongly as a human character, stirring passion, idealism, madness, asceticism, horror, mysticism and eroticism in all possible combinations. This approach would later be developed in the psychogeographical London work of Peter Ackroyd and Iain Sinclair.
During the nineteen-twenties HV Morton had visited Glastonbury as part of a nationwide car journey that resulted in the hugely successful book, In Search of England. He had noted that “It is, perhaps, not strange that all places which have meant much to Man are filled with an uncanny atmosphere, as if something were still happening there secretly: as if filled with a hidden life. Glastonbury is like that.”
Photo Stu Quigley.
The occultist Dion Fortune may well have been familiar with the work. In her mystical, poetic book about Glastonbury, Avalon of the Heart, she wrote that, “Where strong spiritual emotions have been felt for long periods of time by successive generations of dedicated men or women - especially if they have had among them those who may be reckoned as saints because of their genius for devotion - the mental atmosphere of the place becomes imbued with spiritual forces, and sensitive souls capable of response are deeply stirred thereby when they come to it”.
Fortune wondered if we “miss much when we abandon the ancient custom of pilgrimage?” “Every race has its holy centres, places where the veil is thin”, that contain, “power to quicken the spiritual life and vitalise the soul with fresh enthusiasm and inspiration.” “Glastonbury is a spiritual volcano wherein the fire that is at the heart of the British race breaks through and flames to heaven”.
Tintagel is another such place. Many would agree that the area around the cliff-top castle ruins by the sea carries an archaic feeling of tangible magic. Imagine the end of a perfect summer day. The all but cloudless sky has become a symphony of gradations of portentous pink focused on the sun setting into the sea. As its reflection touches the water, a rippling ray spreads out from the horizon back across the foaming Mediterranean turquoise waves to the beach, like a sword of shimmering light. From a vantage point up on the cliffs, amongst a riot of small wild flowers, looking across at the ruined castle and down to the entrance of the famous Merlin’s Cave, one can forget all the intellectual arguments of history, feel the Arthurian mythos alive in the very air, and believe. Wordsworth’s famous lines on the landscape around Tintern Abbey come readily to mind.
“And I have felt
A presence that disturbs me with the joy
Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime
Of something far more deeply interfused
Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,
And the round ocean and the living air,
And the blue sky, and in the mind of man:
A motion and a spirit, that impels
All thinking things, all objects of thought,
And rolls through all things.”
Place stirs feeling. Inspires poetic mystical sensibilities. Fills the heart with the intuition of music that is constantly present if not always audible. During the late nineteenth and early twentieth century there was a great British musical revival that produced a huge corpus of work inspired by love of the landscape. Perhaps the most famous examples are The Lark Ascending and Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis by Ralph Vaughan Williams.
Both pieces were composed just before the First World War. In retrospect, they do seem to carry an incredible nostalgia for a vanished world and lost generation, but they also speak of some more archaic mystical quality of supreme sublime beauty that remains an ever-present force emanating from the very earth of our sacred “sceptred isle”. Williams’ third symphony and the haunting first movement of the fifth can produce a similar response.
The obvious superstar of the scene was Elgar. He is primarily known for his Last Night of the Proms anthem, Pomp and Circumstance, which includes the great soundtrack of Edwardian imperialism, Land of Hope and Glory. I feel that’s rather unfortunate as it gives a very one-dimensional sense of the man and has possibly kept some people from wanting to investigate him further. Elgar composed many works inspired by nature and the nostalgia of childhood that are in turn, passionate, wistful, melancholic, mellow, and mystical.
As a small child he would sit by the banks of the River Severn, “trying to write down what the reeds were saying”. This continued into his adult life as he walked and bicycled around the Malvern Hills. In a letter to a friend he said, “the trees are singing my music or have I sung theirs?” There’s a visionary sequence in Ken Russell’s inspired 1962 black and white BBC drama documentary on Elgar which depicts him as a young man riding on a white horse across the Malverns to the stirring accompaniment of the Introduction and Allegro for Strings and shafts of sunlight.
A number of the more prominent composers of the great revival were mystically inclined with interests in Celtic and Arthurian mythology, faery lore, and so on. They were not of the status of Beethoven and Wagner but are unfairly neglected. Bax, Bantock, Butterworth, Delius, Finzi, and Ireland, all help to back up Vaughan Williams and Elgar very nicely in creating an evocational soundscape.
Ralph Vaughan Williams and John Cowper Powys were both born in 1872 and lived to truly ripe old age, producing stunning work well into their seventies. As people they were considerably different. In his Autobiography, Powys gives little space to music. To me though, both men expressed something poignant and powerful that was quintessentially of the land and its history.
A Glastonbury Romance and the music of Vaughan Williams have become inseparable in my consciousness. Powys had said that, “the symbolism of the Grail represents a lapping up of one perfect drop of noon-day happiness as Nietzsche in his poignant words would say, or as Nature herself, according to the hint given us by Goethe, whispers to us in more voices than at present we are able to hear, or to understand when we do hear.” A particular Avalon of the Heart reverie of mine became my personal expression of that idea: a May morning on the Tor, the unique Somerset mystical misty blueness of the sky around the horizon’s rim providing a perfect backdrop for ascending larksong. Blossom and blooming abound as the landscape rolls away like surging strings, a hymn of ancestral voices, ever young and hopeful.
In John Michell’s City of Revelation I first read of the idea of Glastonbury’s Perpetual Choir. Apparently, a Dark Age work known as the Welsh Triads mentioned three “perpetual choirs of Britain”. These were ecclesiastical establishments where relay teams of monks kept up a constant liturgical chant. They were located at Amesbury, just down the road from Stonehenge, Llantwit Major in South Wales, and Glastonbury. Michell noted some kind of alignment relationship between the sites and extrapolated geometrical data that led him to talk of a “Circle of Perpetual Choirs”. Elgars’ Malverns were in the centre of it. The material seemed a bit vague but something about this idea inspired me in a way I couldn’t yet make fully conscious.
Rudyard Kipling’s classic children’s tale, Puck of Pook’s Hill provides another potential doorway into the zone. The story begins with two children in a fairy ring in woods near their home. They give a little performance of selected extracts from Midsummer Night’s Dream on the eve of the very night itself. This conjures up Puck, the ancient spirit of the hills. “I came into England with Oak, Ash and Thorn, and when Oak, Ash and Thorn are gone I shall go too.” He has watched all of history pass by with a benevolent and mischievous eye, occasionally intervening in human affairs.
Puck becomes the children’s guide for a history lesson of their immediate locale. From this particular saga, involving landmarks familiar to them, the greater vista of the life of the whole British nation unfolds. They meet a Roman soldier who goes off to serve on Hadrian’s Wall, a Saxon from the time of the Norman conquest, a Jew from the Magna Carta epoch, and so on. With Puck we encounter not only humans but old gods as well. The cult of Mithras is sympathetically portrayed. The narrative continuity comes through a rune covered singing sword made by Saxon deity turned smith, Weland. The sword has a subtle auspicious effect on the lives of the subsequent generations, leading through to Magna Carta. Through all this Kipling affirms the diverse elements in the layers of history that make the mixture that is Britain.
The idea of Puck watching from ancient hills enhanced my sense of “British music”. The feeling of a primordial past somehow still living through the very land itself and the ongoing mythos it generates became ever stronger for me. The land has a consciousness of some kind. A voice that can be heard. A feeling that can be communicated. At certain places and times, on hills at dawn and sunset, by wells, streams and rivers, in moonlit woods, amongst poignant ruins and remains, it lingers on, surprisingly potent, waiting to inspire in diverse circumstances; poets, soldiers, musicians, mystics, militants, all ages and genders across the whole social spectrum.
Such is the preparatory ambiance. A number of powerful ideas are coming together. At least in some poetic sense, Glastonbury, the Avalon of the Heart, is a perpetual choir that is helping to compose and to play “British music”, an expression of some vast mystical landscape mystery. All of our great artists, from the designers of Stonehenge and Glastonbury Abbey through to Powys and Vaughan Williams are part of Albion’s greater perpetual choir. Its supreme symphony, in which untold multitudes have participated in innumerable ways in every epoch from the megalithic to the present is the mythos of Arthur and the Grail.
It's a mighty fine book. You could buy it now from anywhere in the world right here!
Tuesday, 14 June 2011
I am returning to the Blog Talk Radio format. After changes in their programming earlier this year, meaning that the potential hour of free broadcasting had been reduced to 30 mins, I wondered if my information-dense presentations could still be effective. This has led to a rethink and the initial result is now available.
Intro to Avalonian Aeon: Synchronicity and Destiny.
My most recent book massively features Glastonbury, Crowley, Psychic Questing, and 2012 but its fundamental themes are the mystery of destiny, the glimpses we catch of it through synchronicity, and what that means about the nature of our true identities. In this half hour, I shall discuss some aspects of the work of Whitley Streiber and Carlos Castaneda and the possibility of playing games with synchronicity to provoke it. Although an extended advert for the book, the material featured stands in its own right as capable of provoking deep processes.
Listen to it here:
Friday, 6 May 2011
I shall be giving an unashamedly cosmic expansive presentation at
The Grail Centre, 24 Chilkwell St, Glastonbury, BA6 8DB
on Thursday May 19th between 7:30 and 9:30.
The most extraordinary exposition of the whole Glastonbury Zodiac corpus was by onetime Professor of Philosophy, Oliver Reiser. The Aquarian effigy is an uncharacteristic phoenix centred on the famous Tor, also believed to display a unique maze design on its slopes. Reiser wondered, ‘Is it possible that the labyrinth will turn out to be the morphogenetic field pattern for the embryogenesis of the World Sensorium?’ This dense concept will be unpacked with reference to the comparable Noosphere of Teilhard de Chardin, and Lovelock’s Gaia in the context of American visionary Robert Coon's belief in Glastonbury as Global Omega Point.
A powerful visualisation based on Paul’s unique experience of a vision quest within the Glastonbury Zodiac and its relevance to 2012 will also be featured and should help bring the ideas to life.
Aquarian Phoenix by Chandira.
All material featured in my Avalonian Aeon. Buy it here.
Thursday, 14 April 2011
As Beltaine approaches and mythic archetypes stir in Great Britain, it seems a good time to give this material an airing again. It has appeared in various forms since my first ever journey along the line almost exactly 20 years ago.
In July 1990, during a visit to Glastonbury with my friend and psychic questing colleague of the time, Alex Langstone, I had a wild idea. Why not try and traverse the entire length of the famous St Michael leyline, initially presented by John Michell in The View Over Atlantis, during the Mayday Bank holiday weekend (a time when the sites along it are alleged to align with sunrise)? The pace we would set led to the event being named the Michael Line Rally. It was conceived of as a holiday, a pilgrimage, and an experiment. Some sort of activity other than simple site-seeing was intended for each place we visited. Perhaps a meditation or ritual of some kind.
The sites represented a tremendous diversity of aspect. A theme was needed to link them together, to provide some conceptual continuity. I was looking for something that could incorporate the idea of pilgrimage through the multi-faceted sites, within the continuum of earth energy currents of the St Michael force and its counter-balance, the newly formulated St Mary Line, which weave their way around the basic line of sites. (For a full explanation of the Michael/Mary interaction, see The Sun and the Serpent by Hamish Miller and Paul Broadhurst.)
I put my mind to work.
In the extraordinary Green Stone of Graham Phillips and Martin Keatman there is an episode known as the “Lights of Knowledge” Quest. From my association with Andrew Collins I knew details of this not mentioned in the published version. The main point is that in traversing most of the Michael Line, heading down towards Cornwall, Graham Phillips came to believe that various sites along it resonated with the energies of the Qabalah in an orderly sequence, so that a coherent Tree of life could be drawn with them mapped out upon it.
For what follows I have to assume some prior knowledge of the Qabalah in the reader. Here’s a listing of various sites assigned to the Tree of Life. See if they feel right to you or not.
Kether. The Merry Maidens stone circle.
Chokmah. St. Michael’s Mount.
Binah. Dozmary Pool, Roche Rock, Hurlers stone circle area.
Netzah. Avebury, Silbury Hill.
Hod. White Horse of Uffington, Wayland’s Smithy area.
Yesod. Dorchester on Thames.
The Merry Maidens stone circle is not normally considered to be a part of the alignment. In recent years Miller and Broadhurst’s dowsing work has suggested it does connect to the main current. A Malkuth site was never designated. I opted for Bury St Edmunds as a workable possibility.
The Michael Line has sometimes been thought of as a possible spinal column of a Blakean Albion figure. This is not conceived of in the sense of physical earthworks in the manner that the Glastonbury Zodiac landscape supposedly models giant effigies. It somehow lives in an inner realm of the nation’s consciousness. A Suffolk village named Eye has influenced views on which end of the line the head would be. Central to Qabalistic lore is a giant cosmic being named Adam Kadmon on whom the Tree of Life can be drawn. His feet are in the earthly realms, his head at the Crown of Creation. The path of High Magic lies in realising that cosmic figure is latent within us all and can be activated, thus raising us to our highest, fullest, most total capacities. In the specific physical locations on this figure of the different spheres of the Qabalah, a similarity can be seen with the Yogic concept of the chakra centres of energy along the spinal column. The middle pillar of the Qabalah correspond s to the spinal column of Adam Kadmon and ourselves. There are specific practices arising out of the Golden Dawn tradition for working with and energising the centres of this middle pillar. Knowing that Blake was aware of the Qabalah, I didn’t find it hard to broadly equate Albion with Adam Kadmon. I wondered how far, working with Graham Phillips’ material, the analogy could be profitably extended? Maybe the giant’s head was in Cornwall?
I began to toy with the idea of taking it as read that, in some archetypal realm, an Albion figure exists along the Michael line and that treating it as a kind of Adam Kadmon and playing Qabalistic games with it would be doing it a favour. My attitude was to treat it as an experiment with reality. Believe it and see what happens as a result of believing it. I also felt that Adam Albion was generally conceived of as being distinctly male. I didn’t think it was taking too many liberties with Qabalistic thought to think of the figure as androgynous in some way. It was in keeping with the theory of the Qabalah, if not always the practice. This idea could be taken further with the concept of the dual Michael/Mary energies that wind, like a caduceus, around the spinal column, in the manner of the Ida Pingala currents of Kundalini yoga.
As pilgrims of the path of light, we would start at the source, the crown, trying to fill ourselves up with light and take it down through ourselves, through Albion following the downward eastern path of its manifestation in the sunrise orientation. By the end, hopefully, we would have helped to in some way activate the centres of this figure and their corresponding areas in ourselves. This was the plan to get the line humming.
The middle pillar would be our centre of gravity and the caduceus of Michael/Mary a continual balancing process throughout the journey. I felt that the Middle Pillar sites needed the Qabalistic cosmic figure emphasised, but how to do it? I also knew that Graham Phillips had done some unpublished work using the Tarot in the landscape. He believed that sometimes certain sites embodied the aspects of particular cards. Once this was understood the card could be used as a gateway into the inner realms of the place. In the Golden Dawn/Crowley tradition the Tarot cards are assigned to different places on the Tree of Life. The 22 Trumps correspond to the paths between the Sephiroth. Regarding the middle pillar, the path from Kether down to Tiphereth is Atu II, the High Priestess. Tiphereth to Yesod is XIV Temperance. Yesod to Malkuth, XXI the World.
I looked at the Michael Line sites that corresponded to the middle pillar of the Qabalah and the Tarot cards that joined them to see if there might be any possibilities for visualisation pathworkings. What I found was so apt and fertile for creative exploitation I could hardly believe it possible. I shall give a detailed description of these examples, and how they were used, as it possibly gives the essence of the feel of our journey.
Glastonbury Abbey’s ruined Mary chapel was the place I chose to enter the realm of Atu II, the High Priestess, linking Kether with Tiphareth. Its floor no longer exists and the crypt Chapel of St Joseph of Arimathea beneath it has now effectively merged with it, creating one vibrant space. We sat in front of the altar focusing, in our imaginations, on a cross that used to sit atop it in those days. A point of blue light emanated outwards from it filling the whole place, until seeming to have become a transparent veil with the pillars of the Temple and Qabalah, at either side of it. Behind the blue light, the cross faded, leaving the outline and sense of presence of a female form. With this the veil parted, revealing the Virgin Mary in a Queen of Heaven Isis aspect, seated on a throne. Behind her, steps led up to a door opening onto the landscape we had travelled from Cornwall, in particular the Kether Merry Maidens site.
The Qabalistic sphere of Yesod is concerned with the astral realms. It incorporates lunar and water symbolism. Graham Phillip’s Yesod site was at Dorchester in Oxfordshire. This is the place where the Michael Line and the River Thames cross. To bring the energy from Tiphareth to Glastonbury, we would pathwork with the Temperance card. The particular one that had inspired me was in the Mythic Tarot, in which the figure represented (often the Archangel Raphael), was Iris, the Rainbow Goddess, and which featured a rainbow as a prominent part of its imagery.
Now think of all the many versions of this card you may have seen and try to picture our scene. It is dusk by the banks of the Thames in early May. The evening star hangs in the heavens and reflects rippling in the river’s waters. Around a lantern at the water’s edge we sit now, closing our eyes. In our imaginations the light of the lamp expands outwards, through and around us, until an egg of glowing energy encompasses us. Just beyond we begin to see, as if in daylight on the bank, a shimmering wavelet of light that condenses into an ever clearer form. The Rainbow Angel of Temperance stands tall and serene before us. One foot is in the waters of the river and one is on the bank. In each hand is a chalice. One is gold and is filled with the solar aspects of the Michael Line. The other is silver and of the Thames and Mary. Endlessly, gracefully, the Angel pours the contents of the chalices between them. Eternal equipoise in the harmony of the two currents at this site. In the mid-distance the Dorchester landscape blurs as a giant rainbow arches across the sky. As it reaches the ground on the left we see Hod with the White Horse of Uffington and Wayland’s Smithy. On the right we see Netzah, Avebury and Silbury Hill. In the centre, just beneath the rainbow, in the far distance, we see Glastonbury Tor. We try to feel a sense of energies moving through the landscape to find their harmonisation at Dorchester.
A painting specially commissioned from Glastonbury artist and Michael Line Rally veteran Yuri Leitch for my 2006 Megalithomania conference presentation.
Bury St Edmunds proved to be a good Malkuth. Its ruined Abbey provided the setting for the Qabalistic climax to our epic journey. Two ruined pillars, once joined as an arch, formed the frame for an imagined recapitulation of our complete travels to that point. We saw ourselves dressed as monks and pilgrims travelling from site to site and finally emerging through the gateway between the pillars to rejoin our physical bodies sitting nearby. We then saw, using AtuXXI, the World card as a jumping off point, the figure of Albion flanked on either side by St Michael and the Virgin Mary. Behind Albion, on the horizon, the sun appeared, ascending, and as it moved just above him, Michael and Mary both reached a hand out into it, and on doing so, it became a crown which they placed upon his head. Mission accomplished. A rendition of Blake’s Jerusalem was in order regardless of what any passing tourists may have thought.
Drawing by Yuri Leitch from 1991 depicting the journey from Michael's Mount to the ruined church at Hopton that included recurring lion and unicorn imagery.
The Michael Line Rally was carried out in full in 1991 and 92. In 1997, now living in Glastonbury, I felt the need to try the journey again when the General Election was announced for Mayday. It seemed likely that the archetypes and energies of the sacred landscape would be massively switched on. Sure enough, in the week leading up, I had a major brainstorm in which a flood of further Qabalistic Tarot imagery enabled me to make good use of the complete Major Arcana linking all of the spheres. As we travelled the line I did wonder if this cerebral Qabalah was imposing a structure onto the landscape that was not appropriate, however much it seemed apt to me.
On returning I discovered that, during the course of our journey, at a place near the course of the Mary current, a crop formation had appeared in the form of a complete Qabalistic Tree of life with all 10 sephiroth and the 22 paths between them. Regardless of how it arrived there, the concept of “hoax” would have to be re-defined in order to accommodate its synchronistic levels of meaning. Crop circles have been appearing for a long time now. A Tree of Life could have manifested on numerous occasions. As it is, it waited until a group of people were travelling the landscape carrying out detailed Qabalistic pathworkings at sacred sites (and not that many people are doing such things anyway). This was all the affirmation I needed. My work with the Michael Line continues to develop and represents one of the great joys of my life.