Fifth Wednesday Post

The Castle of Heroes

I really wonder sometimes how many people nowadays realize just how drastically the great occult revival of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century has been scrubbed from the officially approved histories of our time. It’s hard to discuss the matter without bringing in words like “censorship.”  Whole chapters of the cultural history of the Western world have been blanked out, and figures who had a massive presence in the collective life of the time have been erased as completely as former Politburo members from a Stalin-era Soviet photograph.

Marie Corelli. In her time, she was more famous than Dickens.

When scholars and pundits today discuss Victorian novelists, for example, how often does Marie Corelli’s name come up?  She was the number one bestselling British writer of her day; she was Queen Victoria’s favorite novelist, and a major cultural presence. Since she was a feminist, a lesbian, and the illegitimate child of Rev. Charles Mackay, the author of Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, who overcame the stigma of her birth to become a wildly popular public figure, you’d think today’s woke academics would be busy lionizing her, right?

Think again. Marie Corelli has been all but deleted from the history of Victorian literature. Her unforgivable sin was that her bestselling novels view the world through the perspective of standard late nineteenth century occultism, and Christian occultism at that. Her occultism offends today’s rationalists, and her tolerant, mystically oriented Christianity offends today’s evangelical Christians just as much as it does today’s Neopagans. is maintained by devoted fans of her work, and Corelli gets some discussion in the better grade of Victorian-themed websites, but other than that and the occasional mention in odd corners of academia, she’s been canceled for her deviations from the modern-culture party line.

(And if the fact that Queen Victoria’s favorite novelist was a lesbian occultist suggests to you, dear reader, that maybe, just maybe, a few teensy little things got left out when the talking heads in schools and the media taught you what you know about the Victorian era, good. You’re beginning to catch on.)

G.R.S. Mead. One of the most influential scholars in his field, back before the censorship cut in.

Corelli is far from alone in being plunged into posthumous oblivion. Consider G.R.S. Mead, the most important scholar on ancient Gnosticism in the English language in his time; he’s been purged from the realm of acceptable scholarship because of his connections to the Theosophical Society. Consider Jessie Weston, one of the first women to become a major presence in the field of folklore studies and the author of a book on the Holy Grail that T.S. Eliot used as the basis for his brilliant poem The Waste Land; she’s been made a nonperson in today’s scholarly literature because of her connections to G.R.S. Mead, and also because her interpretation of the Grail legends strayed into territory that materialists and rationalists won’t touch with a ten foot pole.  I could go on; there’s quite a profusion of other examples.

Some people were too famous to be erased, however, and it’s one of these that I want to talk about this week. The Nobel Prize winner in literature in 1923, William Butler Yeats was one of the dozen or so greatest poets the English language has produced, and he was also a political figure of some importance, a proponent of Irish independence in the last turbulent decades of English rule over Ireland and a senator in the Irish Free State once the long struggle was won. As a poet, a dramatist, and a promoter and supporter of Irish arts and literature, he played a crucial role in helping the Irish to see themselves as a nation rather than as second-class Englishmen and Englishwomen.

Yeats as a young man. Imagine him in the robes of a ceremonial magician.

He was also an occultist—not merely a dabbler in occultism, but a serious lifelong practitioner, widely respected as such by other occultists. Like G.R.S. Mead, whom he knew and disliked, he began his occult studies with the Theosophical Sociey as a young man.  Unlike Mead, he found Theosophy unsatisfying, even when he advanced to the Inner Section of the Society and studied directly with Madame Blavatsky herself.  After a short time he proceeded to join the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, the most famous and influential occult order of the time. In the early days of his career, when he was scraping together a meager living in London and had to dye his stockings black with shoe polish to keep from drawing too much attention to the holes in his shoes, he still found the time and resources to pursue the Golden Dawn’s demanding course of study in magic, divination, and occult philosophy.

He was not simply your run of the mill Hermetic occultist, however.  One of the things that always set Yeats apart from most of the other members of the Golden Dawn is that he recognized the wider possibilities of magical action in the world. He joined the Golden Dawn in 1890, and by 1891 he was already writing to Maud Gonne, the woman of his (unfulfilled) dreams, about the potential for using magical ritual to rekindle the Irish spirit, invoke the gods of old Irish paganism, and bring about a cultural and political resurgence in Ireland that would make the country’s independence a foregone conclusion. On his urging Gonne joined the Golden Dawn, though she did not remain a member for long.

The castle in Lough Key. Imagine that as a setting for rituals.

In 1895 he discovered what he thought would be the perfect setting for the project. In Lough Key, a lake in Ireland, is a small island named Castle Rock; unsurprisingly, it has a castle on it, no longer inhabited in his time but still intact enough to be renovated and put to use. When he first saw it, the thought of that castle on its island as a center for an Irish occult order seized Yeats’s imagination.  Further brooding over the idea inspired him to draw together all his occult knowledge and call on his large and enthusiastic network of occultist friends to work on a project for a new occult order, which he called the Castle of Heroes.

The papers of the Castle of Heroes project make unexpected reading for those whose sole exposure to occultism has to do with ceremonial magic. There isn’t a magical ritual, in the ordinary sense of that phrase, in the entire collection—nothing, that is, intended to summon spirits, charge talismans, or make things happen in the world. Instead, the Castle of Heroes papers include a series of rough drafts of initiation ceremonies for members, an extensive sequence of exercises in meditation and the training of the imagination, and a great deal of material for study, dealing with old Irish myth, legend, and symbolism, and with the basics of occult philosophy. That selection of subjects was anything but accidental. It went straight to the core of what his project was about.

William Morris. He wasn’t a very good portrait painter, and I don’t think he ever wrote a play. Other than that…

Yeats had his own distinctive understanding of occultism, which was powerfully shaped not only by his own experience as a poet and dramatist, but also by his friendship with William Morris—the colossus of the Victorian art world, a man whose creative talents covered so broad a range that it’s easier to list the things he wasn’t good at than the ones he was—and by scores of other creative people: writers, poets, painters, actors, and the list goes on.  He understood, perhaps more fully than anyone else before or since, the shifting borderlands where occultism overlaps with the creative arts, and where both of them spill over into the realm of archetypal patterns that shape the collective consciousness of a culture.

That last defined what he meant to do with the Castle of Heroes project.  To awaken the Irish people to a different future and transform the oldest and most thoroughly plundered province of the British Empire into a modern nation, he believed, required more than politics or propaganda. To succeed, such a project had to reach down to deep places where the collective consciousness of humanity merges into the secret inner life of the land itself.  Do that, he hoped, and the Irish cultural renaissance of which he was a part might become an enduring presence, transforming the collective landscape of European culture and making continued English rule over Ireland not merely unsustainable but absurd.

Yeats filled notebook after notebook with magical lore.

The traditional mythology and folklore of Ireland provided the symbolic keys he meant to use for his project. He had already explored Irish myth and lore for poetic purposes, and his close friend Lady Gregory was hard at work compiling her famous collections of Irish legend and folktales.  He had the raw material. He needed to synthesize it into a coherent symbolic system, and test it out with the help of other experienced occultists. Once that was done, he simply needed to raise funds to buy or lease Castle Rock, renovate the building as needed, and start admitting members to his planned occult order.

Maud Gonne. I admit I don’t see the attraction.

The first half of that project went well.  His connections in the Golden Dawn and the Celtic literary world made it easy for him to assemble a team of gifted visionaries and occult practitioners, Maude Gonne among them, who could waken the old mythic imagery to life using the standard toolkit of the occult societies of his day. Surviving letters and documents from the project paint the picture of an eager circle of capable mages devoting many hours of time to study and practice, with the dream of an Irish occult order hovering just ahead of them like a mirage.

It probably would have happened, too, except that the Golden Dawn was heading toward a major crisis. Like many another occult society, it was better at teaching philosophy and practice than it was at managing its own internal politics. Worse, the effective head of the order in its last years, Samuel Mathers, and his wife Mina were among the most effective and influential figures in the group helping to create the Castle of Heroes—and Yeats and the Matherses ended up on opposites sides of the conflict in the Golden Dawn when it finally broke out in 1900. By the time the rubble had finally stopped bouncing in 1903, the Golden Dawn had split into three competing fragments, many of its members had left in disgust, and the team Yeats had assembled around the Castle of Heroes project was shattered beyond repair.

Georgie Hyde-Lees, as she was then.

Yeats became one of the leading figures in the Stella Matutina, the largest of the three fragments of the original Golden Dawn, and he had his hands full for years with that order, so there was another reason for the Castle of Heroes to go onto the shelf. Another member of the Stella Matutina was Georgie Hyde-Lees, a talented occultist and clairvoyant in her own right, who fell head over heels in love with him. Yeats still had his heart set on winning Maude Gonne, but years passed and it finally sank in that he was wasting his time. In 1917, after proposing to Gonne one last time and being turned down flat, and then proposing to Gonne’s daughter and being turned down more gently but just as firmly, he finally accepted the inevitable and married the woman who loved him.

Georgie Yeats has rarely been given the respect she deserves as an occultist. Like her husband, she had risen through the Golden Dawn system to the rank of Adeptus Exemptus, the highest grade of initiation the order offered. In the process she had mastered the entire body of Golden Dawn occult studies:  not a small achievement, and one that embarrassingly few occultists these days have managed, even among those who work in the Golden Dawn tradition. Occultism was inevitably part of the Yeats family’s married life from the beginning. Four days after the wedding, Georgie began work with automatic writing—a practice that involves taking pen in hand, releasing the control of the conscious mind, and letting the hand and pen write whatever comes through. Yeats described his reaction vividly:

The team that created A Vision.

“What came in disjointed sentences, in nearly illegible writing, was so exciting, sometimes so profound, that I persuaded her to give an hour or more a day to the unknown writer, and after some half-dozen such hours offered to spend what remained of life explaining and piecing together those scattered sentences. ‘No,’ was the answer, ‘we have come to give you metaphors for poetry.’”

The basic structure of primary and antithetical gyres.

The resulting texts provided the imagery and metaphors for most of Yeats’s most famous poems, but they also became the raw material for A Vision, the longest and strangest of Yeats’s prose writings and his one published foray in the field of occult nonfiction. A Vision starts by setting out a basic pattern of two interpenetrating gyres, alternately widening into the void or narrowing to unity. The gyres are defined by two paired factors:  Will and Mask, which are desire and the object it seeks, and Creative Mind and Body of Fate, which are mind and the world it tries to comprehend.  There are twenty-eight positions or, in the language of the book, phases in the cycle set out by the expanding and contracting gyres, and these relate symbolically to the twenty-eight nights of the lunar cycle and the twenty-eight Mansions of the Moon in astrology.

Every completed sequence of events in human life, A Vision argues, goes through the complete cycle of the phases. This is true, it claims, of every creative project; of every individual life; of the sequence of lives through which every soul passes in the process of reincarnation; of the rise and fall of every artistic, cultural, social, or political movement; and of the rise and fall of entire civilizations. Our civilization began the 23rd phase of its history in 1927, entering the last quarter  of its existence; exactly where it stands on the wheel of the phases, each student of A Vision must sort out personally, for Yeats does not say. Even so, it’s easy enough to realize from the material in the book what to watch for, and Yeats has already scored some direct hits.  “What discords will drive Europe to that artificial unity—only dry or drying sticks can be tied into a bundle—which is the decadence of every civilization?” Nowadays we all know about the discords, and can put a name quite readily to the bundle.

The Great Wheel of 28 phases.

Had the Castle of Heroes project succeeded in founding an Irish occult order, offering initiations to members in the halls of the old castle on Lough Key, it seems likely that the material that went into A Vision would have become the core teachings of its inner circle. Given the way that the material gave him “metaphors for poetry”—some of the greatest poetry in the language, in fact—and the rich and complex interface between occult practice and artistic creation generally, it seems entirely plausible that the project would have done what Yeats hoped it would do, and transform the Irish renaissance of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries into an enduring phenomenon.

But the project never got that far, of course. From an occult perspective, it’s worth suggesting that the work Yeats and his fellow occultists did on the Castle of Heroes project may well have contributed substantially to the transformation of Ireland’s thought and culture that ended nearly a millennium of English domination over the island and saw the Irish Free State and then the Republic of Ireland established.  The act of reaching down into the deep levels of mythic consciousness to give strength to a nation is far more effective than rationalists dream; that was how a network of German and Austrian occultists headed by Guido von List and Jörg Lanz von Liebenfels set out to transform the collective consciousness of the Germanic peoples beginning just after 1900, and how a network of British occultists headed by Dion Fortune set out to strengthen the collective consciousness of Britain in the dark days of 1940, when the metastatic horror launched by the heirs of von List and Lanz von Leibenfels stood poised on the brink of the English Channel.

Guido von List. Magic is not necessarily harmless.

As this last example suggests, the power that can be summoned from the deep places of the psyche and the land is just as potent for destruction as for the opposite. The Ariosophists who set out to waken the Germanic folk-soul never understood that a working of this kind succeeds when it focuses exclusively on building up what it wants to support, not on tearing down what it thinks it opposes.  You can win temporary victories along that latter path, as the example of Nazi Germany shows, but every victory you win simply gives additional strength to your opponents, and eventually they will overwhelm you—as the example of Nazi Germany also shows.

Jörg Lanz von Liebenfels. A young man named Adolf Hitler was a devoted reader.

Yeats, and for that matter Dion Fortune, knew better than to go down that path. His work with the myths and powers of ancient Ireland was aimed not at defeating the British Empire but solely on strengthening the Irish folk consciousness until British rule over Ireland disintegrated of its own weight. There is only one reason why Irish occultists today can’t pick up where Yeats left off and try to complete the trajectory he set out, to rouse the mythic forces of the Irish land and create the kind of self-sustaining cultural efflorescence he hoped to spark; there’s only one reason, for that matter, why people in other parts of the world can’t draw on his example for similar projects elsewhere.

The reason is that the Castle of Heroes material has never been published. Practically everything else Yeats ever wrote, down to stray jottings in notebooks, has already seen print, but the only place I know of where his Castle of Heroes writings have appeared since his death is in an obscure doctoral dissertation in the 1970s—I have a copy, which is how I know the details of the work. His draft initiation rituals are vivid, fascinating stuff, and so is much of the other material in these papers. Even for those who don’t happen to be interested in occultism, but simply want to know more about the imagination of one of the western world’s great poets, they’re worth reading.

Yeats as an old man. His Body of Fate, according to the system of A Vision, is titled “enforced failure.” so he probably wasn’t too surprised.

I have no idea if they’ll ever see print, however. The prejudice against occultism that has erased Marie Corelli, G.R.S. Mead, Jessie Weston, and so many other major figures of their time from the memory and imagination of ours remains fixed in place; a good many Yeats scholars still edge nervously around his lifelong commitment to occult study and practice, and ignore as much of the occult dimension of his work as they possibly can. Maybe that will change someday, but in the meantime, much of our own past remains hidden away behind a conspiracy of silence.

*  *  *  *  *

Not coincidentally, Jessie Weston, G.R.S. Mead, William Morris, and a flurry of other forgotten figures are central to my latest book, The Ceremony of the Grail: Ancient Mysteries, Gnostic Heresies, and the Lost Rituals of Freemasonry, which is hitting the bookstore shelves as I type this. It’s a sequel of sorts to my earlier book The Secret of the Temple, and focuses on Jessie Weston’s theory that the Grail legends are lightly garbled accounts of a Gnostic ceremony of initiation—a theory for which I introduce significant new evidence.  The book’s a bit of a wild ride, and admittedly speculative in places, but it covers quite a bit of fascinating ground. If you’re interested, you can order it here in the United States, and from your favorite full-service bookstore or online venue elsewhere.


  1. Thanks for the fascinating read. I’ve been the guy who has been nominating Yeats for the extra post for the last couple years and am happy to read more about him.


  2. What’s the title of the doctoral dissertation? This is one Irish occultist who’s been dying to read more about the Castle of Heroes for over twenty years.

  3. I know it’s a big thing to think about, but I’m wondering what a Castle of Heroes project might look like for the United States. Cultural and historical influences here are so complicated here that I wonder if it would even be possible to do such a thing. It seems that the focus would need to be tight and specific and not try to cover everything for everyone.

  4. Thanks for a fascinating post. I remember studying Yeats as an undergraduate and being struck by the embarrassment of scholars at the “silly” parts of the man, not least his occultism, when it seemed intuitively obvious that you couldn’t have the poetry without the whole package. One minor nitpick – his Nobel prize was awarded in 1923, I believe.

  5. William Morris’ News From Nowhere backfired on me so badly it made me want to go cut down a tree and buy shares in Halliburton. 🙂

    Also I have discovered Meme Generator and yesterday made my first meme:

  6. @ JMG – Am I correct in a assuming that the version of “Castle of Heroes” that appears in the doctoral dissertation you mention, is incomplete?

  7. Twitter is so much worse than you can even know. After descending to the depths of “hell”, for lack of a better word, on Twitter I did ended up having a spiritual awakening and was able to connect with and receive messages from my dead mother through Twitter. Crazy story that boils down to my mother sending me an Emerson quote!

    Do you still think that North American society is heading towards a Transcendental society?

    If so I feel that I am the Messiah of this message and look forward to reporting the glory of the universe and, as a starting point, the idea of Emerson’s of the “transparent eye”. Meaning, basically, that by connecting with nature we are able to go beyond just seeing it, but that we become immersed in it and actually becoming a “bit or part of God”. Which gets at a lot of what you have talked about of course. Meditation also can connect us in this way. (I’m going to start with you readings on meditation!)

    I can’t tell you how transformed I am! My entire outlook on the world is transformed from the biggest atheist/doubting Thomas into not just a believer but wanting to spread the message. To think that 2 months ago I didn’t like reading your posts about magic! Now I want a copy of the Castle of Heroes materials so I can build a similar movement here, but based around Transcendentalism/nature and the land of North America. (To be clear this was not a Christian experience at all! Completely Thoreau and Emerson in it’s outlook. More like I had always been reading them but never understood AT ALL what they were really saying!)

    Also, I am writing a book about the experience that I think people will enjoy, and not just here but the “general public”.

    Looking forward to going back and reading all the magic posts I’ve skipped!



  8. Hei JMG,

    could you give the details (author, editor etc ) of the dissertation that you’ve mentioned about “Castle of heroes”?

    Thanks for this great article about one of the few poets that i keep reading year after year as I’m getting older

  9. Another fine post on alternative, or should I say “truthful”, history. It’s amazing to me how when the onion of the official narratives are peeled back, how the picture changes.

    The events of the last 20 years or so, and especially the last few, make it painfully obvious (to me anyway) that the manufactured narratives span the entire spectrum of topics. I wonder if “real history” can ever be ascertained?

  10. Another figure who, like Yeats, was too great a poet to be erased from history was the mystic and visionary, William Blake (†1827). Not that academia didn’t try hard to erase him …

    When S. Foster Damon wrote his brilliant study of Blake’s coherent mystical vision, and proposed it as his dissertation for a Harvard PhD, his department rejected it as dealing with a poet–Blake!–too minor and inconsequential to merit study for a PhD.

    Yet Damon’s study eventually became his magisterial early book, William Blake: His Philosophy and Symbols (1924) — which is now out of copyright and freely available on the web. (Damon himself was not simply a poet and professor of English literature, but was also very widely read in occult studies, with a strong focus on alchemy and on the phenomena of spiritualist mediumship.)

  11. Are the notebooks at the University of Delaware, the National Library of Ireland or elsewhere? Is the Gaelic name of Castle Rock Thoor Ballylee? Trying to see if this is ignored in the index of the National Library or renamed.

  12. “…archetypal patterns that shape the collective consciousness of a culture.”

    Can you comment on the ones shaping our current collective conciousness?

    This also connects for me with a youtube discussion I was watching for some mental relaxation about Sauron vs. Bombadil and the difference between power (Bombadil) and force (Sauron). I think Yeats was tentatively grasping Power, inherent in the land through myth, whereas the English had force via the Machine in it’s regiments, cannon, and debt-money.

    Any ideas on how to get the tattered remnants of the English to walk away from the Machine and find their way home? I have no idea how to get people to wake up.

    Thanks, as always.

  13. Thank you indeed for this. I’ve had a deep love and respect for Yeats’ work since I was a young man first discovering poetry. When I realized that poems like Byzantium and Michael Robartes and the Dancer required a knowledge I didn’t have I took a run at A Vision, but it defeated me. I resigned myself to reading them on a visceral level, more sound than sense, which wasn’t hard to do – lines such as “that dolphin torn, that gong-tormented sea” that ends Byzantium speak to me on some deep level. I’ll have to take another stab at it.
    I had never heard of Marie Corelli. Amazon has a number of her books, quite cheap. I’ve ordered Vendetta and The Soul of Lilith.
    Thanks again

  14. JMG
    I must confess that as a long-time reader of your work. I have always been most interested in your political, social and economic writing, that in your spiritual and occult articles. Today was different because of Lough Key.

    My wife grew up on a farm, overlooking Lough Key. As a child she loved to wander the fields and woods alone and visit old people. An unusual pastime for a child of her generation. She tasted almost every plant she found and grew up with an encyclopaedic knowledge of plants. She is a first-rate horticulturist and herbalist.

    She has an extraordinary ability to read human beings. Countless times down the years, I came home and told her stories about my interactions with people that day, and she would add details about what happened that I had not told her. Her most extraordinary power of all, is an uncanny ability to know that a woman is newly pregnant, without being told. On countless occasions she has come home and said I met so and so today, and I think they are pregnant. As sure as night follows day, a few weeks later the news would come out that so and so was indeed pregnant. I once asked her how she knows someone is pregnant. She replied, “I don’t know how I know, I just do”.

    She has never studied the occult and has been an agnostic all her adult life, but she is, what in traditional rural Irish society, was called a wise woman, or in more common English parlance a witch. I have often wondered where her powers came from, but after reading your article today, I suspect she absorbed some of the spiritual power of the special place where she up, during her solitary childhood wanderings on the shores of Lough Key.

    I might pay closer attention to your occult writings from here on in.

  15. I know what you mean about erasing people and events from history. I just learned that the US government compensated slave owners for loss of the slaves after the Civil War. Which slave owners? Oh the ones in the North. They paid out quick too – in 1866, unlike the pensions for the soldiers which didn’t start until several years later.

    The federal government also compensated slave owners in Washington DC (gee I wonder if they were government bureaucrats and elected officials?) in 1862 after “freeing” the slaves.

    I never knew they rewarded slave owners like this and it makes me scratch me head wondering why they couldn’t pay off the ones in the South too and avoid the war completely. And it makes me angry that slaves themselves got zilch.

    I can’t imagine the reasoning of pushing the country into a civil war and keeping it going so long, and so brutally. When Steiner says that the invention steam engine affected people, I believe him.

    And then there’s that whole American Protection League of 1916 which involved over 250,000 people and just poofed out of existence.

  16. Regarding the Irish renaissance and the Castle of Heroes, one wonders what such a project would do for our poor beleaguered country

  17. “To awaken the Irish people to a different future and transform the oldest and most thoroughly plundered province of the British Empire into a modern nation, he believed, required more than politics or propaganda. To succeed, such a project had to reach down to deep places where the collective consciousness of humanity merges into the secret inner life of the land itself…”

    I’ve been wondering if Manchan Magan is at the same thing…

    Disclaimer: I have not (yet) read this book, but a previous book of Magan’s has put this one on my to-read list.

  18. But, I beg your pardon, sir, wouldn’it be possible for you to scan and send to the world such an important material?
    Many of us are young folks, still very naive, but eager to break through the shackles of the censorship you so completely described!

    As an exemple, in Europe, we are losing every good part of our collective consciousness in a self destructive spiral of energy cuts, inflation and madness of our self proclaimed lords.

    If there is to be a path of sovereignty for our people, it will be a work of imagination, I’m fondly agreeing with you.

    Would you be so kind as to extend a beacon of light across the Atlantic?

    P.S. Fun fact: the stone making the base of The Statue of Liberty was carved 17minutes from where i reside right now, and a Dolmen (dolmen des Courades) is still near the site, made from quite the same stone!

  19. Great post! Not sure if still active but ritual magician Elegwen O Maoileoin (aka Frater R.C.) started a sort of re-adaptation of The Castle of Heroes called The Order of Celtic Mysteries, drawing on, among other things, Kalogera’s thesis. There’s a website here ( where, incidently, you are quoted, John:

    “[William Sharp] was the direct influence on Yeats that caused him to decide on an Order of Celtic Mysteries rather than an Order of Irish Mysteries. Though, since Brother John Michael Greer has so fabulously done the work of composing the Welsh (Brythonic) system of mysteries, what falls to us is the mission of doing as good a job for the Irish, and Gaelic mysteries. Yet we shall draw from any and all that is a part of the Celtic family.”

    And, yes, it is quite shocking how the Magical Papers have not been edited and published, while nearly everything else has… Not that they are hard to find either…(


  20. Fascinating stuff, and i’m adding all them to my reading list!

    Do you happen to know if there is a similar reason for the banishing of Iris Murdoch, another great Irish writress?

    A best selling author starting in 1950, bisexual, awarded many prices and proclaimed a Dame by the queen herself. I discovered her novels some years ago, and found it of a stunning depth and mastery. Today, she seems rather forgotten.

  21. Hi, I’ve been reading your blogs almost from when you started, and some books, but I think this is the strongest presentation of your case for the place of imagination in the human condition. My favorite poem from a college textbook of WBY was “Fairy Song”, which regardless of my lack of talent musically, I could hear a melody of it in the pentatonic (?) scale, so it was easy to memorize. It was about that time I realized I was no scholar and dropped out.

    I guess this coming year my central project will be connecting imagination to ground. There seem to always be side projects, and then, finding some missing key to my will. Seems like I’ve been drifting for the past 18 yrs. I got a compass, but where did I put that tiller? It was a very nice tiller too.

  22. One of the least-known facts about Yeats is that he died in France in 1939, and was buried at the village of Roquebrune-Cap Martin on the Mediterranean coast. His body was disinterred a decade later, and ceremonially returned to Ireland. Or was it? The burial in 1939 was in a mass grave, and it’s not at all obvious how much (if any) of Yeats actually returned home.

    From this story, the French novelist Maylis Besserie (who’s already written a novel about Beckett) has recently produced a novel, Les Amours Dispersées, about an attempt by some of the village’s current inhabitants to find out what actually happened. What’s interesting, though, is that the book tackles the occult head-on. The ghost of Yeats is a character in the book, still pining after Maud Gonne, and Yeats’s occult interests, as well as the séances that led to A Vision, are given a lot of space. If you read French and are interested in Yeats, you should check it out.

    One thing that surprises people (it’s in the novel as well) is that Yeats was a Protestant, as were a fair number of supporters of Irish independence going back to the eighteenth century, when there was a mood among some of the big landowners of English extraction that was not much different from the mood in America at the same time. At the point, Ireland was considered too strategic to be given its independence, because of its potential as a rear base first for Spanish Catholicism and then for French Republicanism. (The French made a serious attempt to send forces to support Irish independence, in the 1790s, and actually managed to land a few thousand troops). Yeats’s attempts to revive Irish mythology and culture had nothing to do with Catholicism, and I wonder whether that fact made his involvement in occultism easier. (The Catholic Church in Ireland was pretty antediluvian at the time.),

  23. JMG,

    Thank you very much for this post. By now I have a small collection of different translations of the Mabinogion and other Welsh texts such as the Book of Taliesin. It sometimes makes me laugh when I read the footnotes and endnotes from academically-oriented publishers. At times they go to absurd lengths to avoid interpretations that might have occult implications and not be respectable!

    I’m very interested in Irish mythology, especially the stories of the Tuatha de Danann, but I have yet to find much commentary that is helpful in unlocking the occult meanings.
    Your commentary on the Mabinogion–especially the framing of the names–was much appreciated. Aside from the dissertation you mentioned, can you suggest any resources for delving further into Irish mythology from an occult perspective?

  24. Greetings all!

    Fascinating stuff really.
    (1) I sense a connection between the ceremony of the grail and
    the castle of heroes project, especially when you wrote: the power that can be summoned
    from the deep places of the psyche and the land is just as potent
    for destruction as for the opposite.
    (2) Would this power explain why the Grail is such a secret and so much sought by many
    throughout the ages?
    (3) I am curious as for the omission for the reference to that obscure doctoral dissertation of the
    70’s. Very unlike you…Mmmmm…..mysterious….

  25. I will also add that my mother who is a widely published poet and was a state Poet Laureate considered WB Yeats to be the best poet in the English language. Interestingly, he was not her favorite as a matter of taste, just the obvious choice as best.

    I don’t think the link between occultism and creativity is limited to the arts. There is a similar squirming discomfiture when you start asking too many questions on Isaac Newton’s alchemical studies. Rationalists say he wasted his genius on superstition. I wonder how many of his breakthroughs were somehow inspired or facilitated by his occult studies.

  26. Since @hwistle #21 brought him/her up, I thought I’d mention William Sharp, aka Fiona Macleod as well. You’d think today’s gender activities would be all about spreading knowledge of William and his other personage as Fiona. Again the whole pesky occult thing probably interferes.

  27. Jacques, you’re welcome and thank you for your patience.

    Duncan, it’s Yeats’s Celtic Mysteries by Lucy Shepard Kalogera, and it was a Ph.D. dissertation with Florida State University in 1977. You should be able to access it online for a fee.

    Jacques, it would have to be regional, not national. The United States is not a single nation, it’s a federation of fifty nations of varying size. Some of those can be grouped together — New England is a coherent magical unit, for example — but many others cannot.

    DH, thanks for the correction — I’ve fixed that.

    Yorkshire, News from Nowhere is to my mind Morris’ worst novel. You might find his fantasy novels — he’s the guy who invented modern fantasy fiction — more to your taste. I like the meme!

    Engleberg, see my response to Duncan a little higher up in this comment.

    Ben, yes, in two senses. The work wasn’t finished when the crisis in the Golden Dawn put everything on hold, and I’m far from sure the author of the thesis got everything that was finished.

    Orion, if there’s ever a Transcendentalist messiah, it’ll be all of us. 😉 By all means write that book and get it out there!

    Denis, see my response to Duncan a little higher up in this comment.

    Drhooves, no human being can comprehend real history, because it contains every event that ever happened. An accurate history of one week in a small town would fill shelves! The historian is an artist, who selects those incidents from the past that tell a meaningful story and cast a light on both past and present. That’s why many histories can be written on the same events — but it’s also why the rigid dogmatic uniformity being imposed on history by today’s corporate liberalism is so toxic. Freeing up the past is an essential step to freeing up the future…

    Robert, Blake’s another wild one. Marsha Keith Schuchard’s books on his connections to occultism and alternative spirituality were a real revelation to me; I haven’t yet read Damon, but a copy of his book is downloading as I write this.

    Drew, I believe they’re in the National Library of Ireland. As for Thoor Ballylee, no, that’s the tower in Galway that Yeats rebuilt and lived in; it’s still very much in existence, and has a website here.

    Benn, the problem with contemporary culture in the industrial world is that people aren’t attuned to archetypes — they’ve been fed a steady diet of fake corporate imagery instead, and they’re spiritually starving to death on that very unhealthy diet. If you want to change that, you need to start with yourself, using spiritual and occult practices to reach down into the nameless forces that surge through the deep places of the land. Then you need to figure out where they’re headed, and cooperate with them. They won’t be your servants, and it’s a bad idea to let them be your masters; cooperating and co-creating with them is a challenging task, as it requires great self-knowledge on your own part and an openness to the spirit that most people can’t handle. But it’s worth doing.

    Bill, it’ll be a couple of years yet, but once my monthly book club finishes with Eliphas Lévi’s Doctrine and Ritual of High Magic, the next book on the list is A Vision. We’ll take it a step at a time.

    Kevin, a wise woman indeed. It doesn’t surprise me that she’s an agnostic; the social forms of religion in modern Ireland don’t offer a lot of room for the kind of interface with the spirit of the land that gives wise women and cunning men their skills.

    Denis, abolishing slavery north of the Mason-Dixon line was an inconvenience to the owners. Abolishing it south of the line meant eliminating an entire economy and a way of life; if the Federal government had made the offer, it would have been turned down angrily. The Civil War was a much more complex thing than current historical notions admit — among other things, it was about which section of the country was going to dominate the national government, as the tidewater South did after the Revolution, and about whether the US was going to be a major industrial power or a source of raw materials for British and French mills.

    Bill, well, depends on which country you have in mind…

    Scotlyn, it certainly sounds like it.

    Thomas, I take copyright fairly seriously — the willingness of people to pay for my books is what allows me to pay my rent and keep food on the table. So, no, I can’t simply scan it and make it public, not so long as it’s under copyright — I can’t ask other people to follow rules I’m not willing to obey myself. I’ve already given the title, author, and pub data of the dissertation above, so if you want to, you can get a copy and see what you can do with it.

    Hwhistle, I hope they can make a go of it. It’s very seriously needed.

    Pixelated, good question. Since I don’t do videos, I’ll leave these for others to assess.

    Guillem, also a good question. I’m not familiar enough with her work to hazard a guess.

    Mark, thank you. If I can make that point firmly enough that people start picking it up and doing constructive things with it, I’ll be satisfied.

    Aurelien, hmm! That definitely sounds worth my while, and yes, I have a reading knowledge of French.

    Samurai_47, the Irish myths never did much for me and so I don’t really have any resources to offer. Anybody else?

    Karim, oh, there are definitely echoes and clues to follow here. I’ve given the info about the dissertation above, so those who want to find it can do so. As for The Ceremony of the Grail, why, yes, and it does have the full text of my reconstruction of the Grail ceremony in it…

    Samurai_47, good! Yes, there’s a skeleton in the closet of modern science, and it wears a tall pointed hat decorated with moons and stars.

    Justin, of course. He helped Yeats on the Castle of Heroes project, btw.

  28. If I may… 😉

    The censorship problem is a real thing, and often makes certain phenomena (from the Renaissance to Romanticism and beyond) more difficult to comprehend than they would have been otherwise. This is true of certain strands of Christianity as well. C S Lewis comes to mind, and I believe you mentioned that certain strands of Pietism (often depicted as a super-gloomy orthodox movement) were really also influenced by esotericism.

    As for Queen Victoria, I actually read in a “serious” book on the Victorian Age that she wasn´t particularly Victorian, but had to keep pretenses up, being the nominal head of state of the British Empire. Apparently, even “normal” royal ritual bored her to death! Didn´t know about the lezbo occultist, but it certainly fits the frame…

    Thanks for an interesting blog post! Your book isn´t available in Sweden yet, but I´ll buy it as soon as it becomes available (probably Jan 2023).

  29. Hi John Michael,

    So we did get to failure, in a roundabout sort of way. 🙂

    On a very practical note, it is far easier to tear down, than it is to build. And takes far less energy too. I have one word to describe the ‘tear down’ process: Lazy. You don’t often hear that word being used nowadays, but that’s what it looks like to me. And there are always consequences for choosing that path, it is not wisdom.

    Ah, to listen to the land, and be frightened by what it may have to say. Why would anyone want to do that, especially when they never before had so much fun?



  30. Fascinating! For some reason it makes me think of the Ghost Dance and the ruthless way it was put down by the US gov’t. (Did they *really* think it was a war party or did they actually understand just how much power reviving the spirit of the people might hold?) The way the native american spirituality was fought against by the american government for so long makes me think there were people “in the know” who did understand there was power there and did everything they could to stop any resurgence. If there had been a way to keep the Ghost Dance movement more secret and keep it going for longer, I wonder how much success there might have been from it on a spiritual level. The fact is that native american spirituality really did eventually make a resurgence but not until the Civil Rights era. I’ve read some about it and it’s fascinating stuff. But there was a long, long time when there was a whole lot of oppressive laws, a lot of shame in the community about traditional spiritual practices and secrecy in practice for those who hadn’t become “good Christians.” But it seems there are still so many battles to be fought on every level for the native american communities. I just wonder what the world would be like if the Ghost Dance had brought back spiritual health to the native people instead of being crushed so hard.

    Back on topic! I enjoy Colette and her wonderful Bealtaine Project in Ireland ( – there’s also a youtube channel that’s lovely). She has a bit of spiritual stuff weaved in with the practical permaculture aspect to land care. She’s talked about William Butler Yeats as being a prophet and a poet, but not all the things you’ve mentioned here. Your post reminded me of what she’s hinted at about him and the spiritual aspect of things. She’s very tied into the spiritual roots of Ireland. She’s spent the last few years inspiring thousands of people around the world to restore woodland, too, if anyone’s interested.

  31. JMG and Jacques,

    The idea of a Castle of Heroes for the United States is something that’s been in the background of my mind for some time, and JMG I was very interested in your point that it would need to be regionally, rather than nationally based. I think that this is true, though there’s more to it than that. The following are disjointed thoughts trying to speak themselves at once:

    1. I’ve finally gotten around to reading Albion’s Seed by Fischer, which you discussed many years ago on the old ADR. This book, American Nations by Colin Woodard, and The Nine Nations of North America by Joel Garreau form, in my view, a trilogy of books necessary to understand the nation and its history. To these I add a fourth, which is any very broad introduction to Native American culture for general readers, the type that surveys the entire continent. The reason for this is that it is easy to see that the culture regions identified by every scholar of Native American history overlap almost perfectly with the Euro-American regional cultures identified by Fischer, Woodard and Garreau. And this is the case even as, at the exact same time, the antecedents of American regional cultures can be found in various parts of pre-colonial Great Britain! The land has its powers, and the land is not truly one land but many. Each land within the land is its own world and has its own Gods. Some of these worlds were once ruled by Powhattans and later by Puritans; others were ruled by Lakota and later by cowboys. They are the same worlds.

    2. Reading Albion’s Seed, it’s clear that each of the four settler groups Fischer discusses has its own light, its own higher ideal, equivalent to the Castle of Heroes, to the hidden mythical Britain that Lewis called Logres in his novels and Fortune invoked in her working. The groups, for those unfamiliar, are the Puritans in New England; the Quakers and allied cultures in the Mid-Atlantic; the Cavaliers in the Chesapeake; and the Scotch-Irish or Borderers in Appalachia and the backcountry generally. From our perspective here, it’s easy to see each as the children of a particular planet or conjunction of planets. The Puritans, with their work ethic and their universities, are pure Saturn; the Quakers, common people who seek the Inner Light, children of the Moon, though Saturn is found here is well; the warrior Borderers nearly pure Mars, with a lunar element; the Virginians, with their devotion to ancient forms of religion and to the chivalric ideal, Jovian, and also Solar.

    3. Each of those four has its shadow as well, and that brings us into the present time. The Puritans’ devotion to work and their belief in the capricious God of Calvin has become the attacks on holidays and on national institutions that characterize the modern Left, headquartered in the universities of New England. The modern white Wokester who can never fully rid himself of his racism is a sinner in the hands of an angry God. The inequality of the economy of the Cavaliers in Virginia, by far the most extreme of all the regions, has expanded to encompass the entire nation today, and there isn’t a great distance between racial slavery and a labor-force of illegal immigrants. The Quakers’ commitment to a limited form of diversity, in which the adjacent hills and valleys of Pennsylvania were inhabited by autonomous but compatible German or Welsh or Irish settlers who retained much of their former culture, has metastasized and become the ideology of Diversity, ending in the destruction of any basis for unity in even the smallest communities, let alone towns, states, or regions. And the Scotch-Irish history of immigration, characterized by massive ships filled to the brim with the desperately poor, with mortality rates as high as those on African slave ships, is repeated again in today’s human trafficking, even as the endemic violence of Borderer communities has been transmitted to every major urban center in the nation.

    4. Each people has its Light, each people has its Shadow. Each has its Heroes, and I am using that word in the precise sense in which it was used by e.g. Iamblichus– men who are more than men, who come to produce bring forth new cultural forms that endure beyond them. William Penn is a hero, and so are William Berkeley and John Winthrop. The Founding Fathers are Heroes who came later and created a new unity, but I think that in a certain real sense it is a less real thing than the regional cultures which were founded by the earlier heroes and which blend in such obvious ways with the natural forces of the land and which, as I said, mirror the regional cultures that were already present. The separate unities found in the regions are the unities of the First Hypothesis of Parmenides, the national unity in the Second.

    I think the following is true:

    1. Working to invoke the Light of each of the peoples of the many regions is the way to overcome the Shadows that now engulf the entire country.

    2. The Light of any region becomes a Shadow when spread to others.

    3. You said to Benn above, the powers of the land will not serve, but are poor masters as well; in this sense they are daimonic, like Eros or like Mammon. This should be kept in mind.

    4. I suspect that scrying into the deep places where the spirits of the guides the people and the spirits that have always moved in the land are found together will reveal certain very strange things as yet unimaginable.

  32. @JMG, I too have been looking forward to Yeats!

    1. I would love to work on a Welsh version of what he attempted!

    2. Could Central Europeans build something like this from Pre-Roman Celtic sources? Would attempting to do it with Germanic gods put them too close to a dark egregore from the war? Maybe the gods would keep them safe.

    3. As for the Americans, I submit to the Lakelanders for their meditations Johnny Appleseed for Earth, Lief Erikson for Air, and Kitchi Gammi for Water.

  33. Kevin Sweeney,

    Welcome to the club. It just kind of…finds you, where you are, even if you weren’t really interested.

  34. JMG,
    If New England is a coherent magical unit, what might we have down here? The Appalachians? Lower Appalachia specifically? I can’t even imagine the areas on the western side of the divide being of the same stock as those on the eastern side – the land is so different. One side is the Cumberland Plateau and flows into the Gulf or the Mississippi, and one side flows to the Atlantic. Among other things. But I’m ready to be educated. Or to engage in such education, may be a better way of putting it.

  35. @Benn #14 re: “Any ideas on how to get the tattered remnants of the English to walk away from the Machine and find their way home? I have no idea how to get people to wake up.”

    Tolkien tried it in Lord of the Rings.

  36. Well, the bit about the gyres in A Vision certainly adds intrigue to the first line of his legendary poem The Second Coming…

    “Turning and turning in the widening gyre”

    I’ll have to see if I can get my hands on a copy.

    In a bit of synchronicity I just recently read a transcript of an English Literature course taught by the late Jorge Luis Borges where he speaks at length of William Morris and at one point says:

    “Now, Morris had always been interested in stories, but he believed that the best stories had already been invented, that a writer did not have to invent new stories. That the true work of the poet—and he had an epic sense of poetry—was to repeat or recreate these ancient stories”

    This repeating or recreation seems to me to be a way of talking about channeling archetypal myths. I forget where I once heard of a sculptor describing his un-chiseled block as already containing the figure of say, Hercules, and his job as just to discover it. In fact, the ways creativity has been often thought of in the past—whether as inspiration from a muse that speaks to you, or collaboration with the God of some art or other—feel fundamentally incompatible with the popular contemporary commercially commodified view. If the art itself is defined by the shared relationship of the creator and the audience of an archetypal reality, then how much value can one place on the intermediary people and structures that manage such meaningful experiences for mere monetary gain?

    Thanks for another thought provoking essay, JMG!


  37. This post brings up a question that has started to make my mind itch… why do great occultists who take on worthwhile projects sometimes fail?

    The short answer must be that of course even mages are only human. The long answer has been hinted at by some Anthroposophists I’ve been talking with: there are intelligent forces in the world aligned against the evolution and betterment of humanity.

    Is this a taboo topic among occultists? You’ve given some pretty big hints with your mention here of the two German occultists who inspired (literally, ‘put breath into’) the Nazi movement. Rudolf Steiner’s lifetime seems to have been squarely placed in the same historical moment and cultural milieu, and there are indications in Anthroposophical lore that he didn’t receive all the help he was supposed to get in his public work, and instead faced significant opposition.

    Starting to view historical hinge points through this lens is very interesting, and of course it has even more interesting implications for our present historical moment.

    In this month’s book club chapter, Levi breaks off his discussion of the occult dimensions of the French Revolution rather abruptly, which seems to me as good a clue as can be that these matters are both important and for some reason more shrouded in secrecy than other occult topics.

  38. Thank you so much for this post. It was inspiring. I have much research to do using the sources you mentioned.

    – A French Canadian stuck between Three Rivers

  39. All–

    Not on topic for the week, but I’d like to make a prayer request. My daughter has a doctor’s appointment this coming Monday re some significant issues she’s been facing. Any spiritual support that could be provided would be appreciated. Thank you.

  40. If you (or someone else) felt up to it, you could publish the Castle of Heroes material.

    Since Yeats died in 1939, he entered the public domain in 2009. Life plus 70 applies here. Thus, not only could The Castle of Heroes be published, it could be released worldwide.

  41. By the way, it was lovely to see Marie Corelli remembered here. My maternal grandmother, Zena, delighted in her novels, and Corelli’s theories influenced her own occult views and those of her two daughters. She even named her two children after characters in Corelli’s novels, Edris from Ardath (1889) and Muriel from Ziska (1897).

    The academic world seems to have rediscovered Corelli quite recently. A collection of essays on her appeared in 2019: Reinventing Marie Corelli for the Twenty-First Century. It includes a couple of essays on her connections with Soiritualism and Theosophy.

  42. There is only one reason why Irish occultists today can’t pick up where Yeats left off and try to complete the trajectory he set out, to rouse the mythic forces of the Irish land and create the kind of self-sustaining cultural efflorescence he hoped to spark; there’s only one reason, for that matter, why people in other parts of the world can’t draw on his example for similar projects elsewhere.

    The reason is that the Castle of Heroes material has never been published.

    You reconstructed that material for that Johnny Appleseed working, right?

  43. I have always loved Irish and Welsh, more than Norse or (what is extant of) Western Germanic mythology. Your mini-biography of Yeats and his circle is fascinating, and even more fascinating is how much of it has been omitted from this recent piece on The Atlantic. I had hoped to see analysis of his poetry itself, but perhaps you plan to leave that for next week!

    At the end of the open post, I mentioned João Guimarães Rosa, the Brazilian author who might very well have received a Nobel prize, had he not died first. While I don’t know any poetry he might have written, his prose is the most sound-conscious and creative I know. It is rooted in the landscape of the cerrado, the savannah of the interior of his home state Minas Gerais. Not a few of his characters are transformed by the contemplation of mountains, rivers or even the whiteness of manioc. While the stories might seem rural and local, some of them are headed by citations from Plotinus.

  44. Tidlösa, thanks for this. There’s always the problem that people may believe one thing at one point in their lives, and something very different at another — and may edit their history accordingly. Given the amount of robust occult lore in Tolkien, I’ve suspected more than once that as a young man he strayed well away from the strictly conventional Catholicism of his middle and later years.

    Chris, it’s lazy, yes, and in more than the obvious sense. One of the reasons people turn to evil political magic is that doing things the right way requires you to think good and hard about what you actually want. If your real goal is to maintain the supremacy of the privileged class to which you belong at the expense of others, say, but you aren’t willing to be honest with yourself, it’s so much easier to just insist that you’re fighting evil, and use that label “evil” against anyone who threatens the disproportional control your class has in economic and political matters. Lazy — and also ultimately self-defeating.

    A, I think the destruction of Native American spirituality was essential to the conquest of the Americas. Traditional societies establish what we might as well think of as a spiritual ecosystem, in which they and spiritual beings interact in a relatively harmonious way. Wrecking that pattern is a necessary part of conquering the land and imposing a new pattern on it — the Romans had their own way of doing the same thing, for example. It’s just that if you do that, the new pattern is always fragile and eventually implodes.

    Steve, many thanks for this. One caution, though — those basic structures don’t necessarily apply as broadly or as strictly as book-learning might suggest. Southern New England, for example — Connecticut, Rhode Island, and southeastern Massachusetts — isn’t Puritan; its archetype is the religious separatist a la Roger Williams or William Blaxton, who refuses to accept another’s God and won’t force his on anyone else either. (Johnny Appleseed is a figure of the same kind.) I suspect that similar lines can be drawn within many another region!

    Cs2, three fascinating possibilities, all of which would require much meditation.

    Grover, I don’t know the region well enough to hazard a guess. What do you think?

    Reggie, that’s exactly what Yeats was talking about — the widening gyre is the sign that one cycle is about to end and another is about to begin, and the rough beast slouching toward Bethlehem — “The uncontrollable mystery on the bestial floor” of one of his other great poems — is the next influx, which always takes a form opposite to the previous one. As for Morris, that’s an odd thing for Borges to say, given that Morris did indeed write wholly original fiction, and indeed invented an entire new genre of fiction — as I noted above, he’s the guy who invented modern fantasy fiction.

    Dylan, occultists aren’t omnipotent — far from it. They can very easily take on tasks that are beyond their powers, and they can also take on tasks that might or might not succeed, and then fail. The desire to do something really large and important comes easily to those with occult training, and that brings with it the risk of failure. Steiner’s a good example. He did indeed fail to get the help he needed, and thought he could count on; that’s why the Misraim-dienst went nowhere and the Mystery Plays were abandoned in mid-course. He had a grand vision, but circumstances made it impossible to fulfill it; that’s why he did the smart thing, regrouped, and launched the Anthroposophical Society, a less demanding project and one that ended up accomplishing much more.

    TiChum, you’re welcome and I’m delighted to hear it.

    David BTL, positive energy en route!

    Teresa, it’s rather more complex than that, since there are apparently more papers than appeared in the Kalogera dissertation; getting access to those would, I think, require the approval of the Yeats estate.

    Robert, glad to hear Marie is finding her way back in from exile! I’d like to see her finding readers among the general public, to be frank, but a presence in academe is a start.

    Bei, thanks for this.

    Anonymous, did you read his paper? It’s an attempted debunking. As for the Johnny Appeseed working, not exactly, no.

    Aldarion, good heavens, I don’t presume to analyze poetry. Poetry is to be experienced, not analyzed. The Atlantic piece is exactly the kind of embarrassing drivel I’d expect from that periodical, though at least it gave Georgie Yeats some of her due. With regard to João Guimarães Rosa, I’m looking forward to being able to read Portuguese; right now it’s still a matter of limping through familiar texts, picking up little by little the modifications that separate it from other Romance languages. It’ll be a couple of years at least before I have a good sense of the language itself.

  45. @samurai_47

    You might start with the Ulster Cycle and read on the Warriors of the Red branch, Cu Chullainn, and the amazing Cattle Raid of Cooley; Táin Bó Cúailnge.

    I also enjoyed the stories of Fionn mac Cumhaill from the Fenian cycle. Though these seemed to have been reduced a little to children’s tales more so in my opinion at least.

    There is more as well if you search for it!

  46. JMG
    Thanks for an enlightening post. It is strange how completely Yeats’ occult orientation has been erased by academia. i took a ( I thought at the time ) very interesting adult ed course on him by an extremely intelligent retired English professor who had done his PHD on Yeats in the late 1940s, including a lot of time spent talking to Geogie Yeats. As far as I can remember he either made no mention of Yeats’ occult involvement, or certainly didn’t emphasize it. He was a very honest person and had also written an incredibly good account of his own WWII experiences. I knew nothing of Yeats’ personal story at the time, but it didn’t feel the professor was actively trying to conceal anything. It just seemed that academia had collectively, and perhaps almost unconsciously made a decision to ignore it. Ignoring the occult was, perhaps, just part of the religion of material progress of the times.

  47. This is a very interesting take on history. It makes me wonder what a similar attempt to revive American culture through symbolism and the arts might look like. Do you think we have something similar going on presently? I guess what you talk about in The King in Orange is kind of similar but that political magic did not strike me as very artistic in nature.

  48. Chris at Fernglade Farm #33,

    ‘It is far easier to tear down than it is to build’

    Except for U-boat pens. They’re nearly impossible to get rid of. 🙂

  49. You are a hard one to follow, JMG, but well worth it. You works read easily, but your comment streams must also be examined and they have grown longer and longer over the years since “the Long Descent.”

    Take your response in #31 to Benn #14. Not only does he give me power vs force to ponder, but your reply! Five sentences! In just five sentences you summon up a life’s work and illuminate a entire Universe! [insert chef’s kiss]

    The only similar experience I have had was from a throw-away footnote in one of Gilbert Strang’s text books on Linear Algebra that, like a lightening flash, lit up all of Mathematics for a brief instant.

    You may find it curious that my book shelves are filled with works from the two of you, but Mathematics and what you study are not so different from the right vantage point.

    But that, perhaps, is my life time’s study, not yours…

    I sincerely thank you.

  50. Really enjoyed this. I often wonder (other than e.g. Dion Fortune using magic to defeat the nazis) what it is practised for. After visiting Newton’s Colsterworth home this summer and seeing occult-like signs carved into the wall, knowing that his parents or at least mother was illiterate, and if Shakespeare was really written by Shakespeare given all his family were illiterate – did magic bring them success? Obviously if you have the luxury of education, it may not reflect actual intelligence if your family was illiterate. Either way, we are certainly not taught about their interest in the occult.

  51. John Michael,

    I’ll have to think on that. I can tell you that every week I drive through the suburbs of north metro Atlanta, southeast of here, for work, and there is a pretty specific ecotone just after Sawnee Mountain in Forsyth County. Not just geographically, but culturally as well. After that you’re genuinely on the piedmont and in the ‘burbs. Farther downhill, below the fall line, on the coastal plain, it’s a different world – geologically, demographically, magically, all of it. So one thing I can say with a fair amount of certainty is that “Georgia” is not a coherent magical unit, much less “the South.”

    Further refinements will require conversations and explorations!

    Do you think it advantageous to live within a coherent unit like New England, or is there the usual boost in energy to be had along a magical ecotone, just like with a geographic one? Too much energy maybe? Too chaotic?

    Thanks for the poke on this, and for an excellent piece this week.
    That castle on the island just screams MAGICAL PLACE!!

  52. Ever since you mentioned that culture is downstream from imagination I have become fascinated with the potential for projects like this, and have begun working with someone who is rekindling the fires of certain traditional practices. It was difficult to have the necessary conversations at first because of all the cultural censorship baggage, but now he is seeing results and starting to embrace the idea of cooperating with forces that have a will of their own. This is a tough sell for most people, but it seems like the world has gone so insane that an increasing number of them are more likely to ask “what else are they wrong about?” It would appear that the resistance to meaningful ideas is breaking up like boats trapped in an ice sheet.

  53. #44, Patricia,
    True, but I guess the other myths created by the Machine were stronger…
    I do think he got Mordor and Sauron wrong, though. Mordor is ablaze with neon, Sauron works very hard to make peoples lives better through efficiency and rational planning, and just can’t understand why those backwards-looking idiots at Minas Anor would have a problem with what is obviously beneficial, efficient, and inevitable.

  54. Your three sentence reply on the Civil War causes was the most cohesive summary I’ve heard from anyone. Thank you. With all the ongoing blather about it the past several years, I’ll pick up a book about it, and I feel like they are all written to prove a theory and much is being obscured. Two things I find curious: the soldiers from both sides who held reunions with each other until their deaths, and the Wide Awakes paramilitary unit. I can make all sorts of assumptions about what the men meeting means, but haven’t found letters or diaries about it. But the Wide Awakes and when they were deployed pre-War and by who doesn’t seem to exist anywhere in archival materials I’ve found yet.

    How much of what I learned in history classes is true? 50%? 10% There are facts taught, but it’s so selective.

    This whole post makes me wistful for an alternative history where Yeats succeeded.

  55. Just came across this Yeats quote in the Talisman Baha’i archive:

    “We Irish should keep these personages much in our hearts, for they lived in the places where we ride and go marketing, and osmetimes they have met one another on the hills that cast their shadows upon our doors at evening. If we will but tell these stories to our children the Land will begin again to be a Holy Land, as it was before men gave their hearts to Greece and Rome and Judea.” (Preface to Lady Isabella August Gregory’s book Cuchulain of Muirthemne)

    Unfortunately, I find it difficult to identify my religiosity with any such nationalist projects–of whatever country–although I wish them all well. (The internationalist projects are not much better.)

  56. @Steve T & JMG:

    A lot to think about there. That’s interesting about the overlap of regions from the Native American times to the Euro-American…

    In perusing the Occult Philosophy Workbook, the section on the Soul / Group Soul of Nations is of particular interest with regards to this essay and discussion of other lands and countries. JMG, you wrote about how a lot of people from the group soul of Rome probably reincarnated in what has become the USA. That makes total sense to me.

    It got me thinking about George Washington and how people compared him to Cincinnatus. It kind of made me wonder if Washington was a reincarnation of him. Whether or not this is true, it certainly seems the spirit, daimon or intelligence that once identified as Cincinnatus came forth to give new inspiration to the people on this land.

    So it seems to me there are broad characteristics of what it means to be a part of the American group soul, from sea to shining sea, and then these other nuanced regional patterns and variations in the land.

    For instance, here in Zinzinnati, the German influence is deeply felt (and because of that I’m looking forward to taking part in some Krampus activities later this month -they’ve been put together by the local Germania Society 🙂

    But Cincinnati is also adjacent to / neighbor to Appalachia. So the influence of lots of Scotch-Irish coming into this area for jobs following up the hillbilly highway, is all around. In a recent academic book “Industrial Strength Bluegrass” edited by Fred Bartenstein he and the other authors explore the explosion of bluegrass music in Southwest Ohio as people like my own grandpa and others came up from Kentucky to work in the factories.

    There is a definite switch of feeling however when I cross the river into Kentucky. And crossing some of the smaller rivers over into Indiana there is again a different feeling to the land -though still with that larger “midwest” sense. (A lot of the midwest seems to be in the mideast of the country though!)

    And then when I think of comedians like Dave Chappelle (who also lives in southwest Ohio) and David Letterman from Indiana, you get the great deadpan midwest sense of humor.

    Anyway it seems there is a lot to explore in land magic, from the hyperlocal spirits in the springs and groves a few blocks away, to national group souls, to more regional areas, the genius of a city, to the personality of a neighborhood.

  57. A most thought-provoking essay — thanks!

    I’d also like to record my thanks to Steve T. (#35). Even if the regions need to be further subdivided as JMG suggests, your points about the light, the shadow, and the heroes of each region are memorable and, I suspect, fruitful.

    Gray Hat

  58. @SteveT #35 – Thank you, yes! That’s just the data I need, since I’ve been tracking that pattern as well as the generational turnover pattern, from the say I first discovered them, and have been testing them against my own observations just as long. If you could expand your observations and include those of the Indians (they do prefer that term. My source for that: the radio program Native America Calling, our of Albuquerque, via NPR, and formerly my regular lunchtime drive-time listening) and publish it online or as a Word document, I think you’d get a good many takers. Including me.

  59. @Grover #38 – the cowboy culture and the Appalachian are at least close kin, as note the widespread musical genre “country & western.”

    Here in Gainesville, we’re Deep Dixie, but it’s sure not Tidewater Dixie. The local accent is more of a twang, and there’s plenty of lore about “cracker cattle,” “Cracker cabins,” and the like. Go-to source, Cross Creek, by Marjorie Rawlings and other books. Also check out a local comic strip called Shrimp & Grits, especially note the Florida Wage Class characters/caricatures – a wet-country version of Li’l Abner (well before your time, probably.) Shrimp is a little girl, I think intended to be the conscience of the group, but comes across as an unbearable little snot at times.

    Miami-Dade, like New Orleans, is a Caribbean enclave at the tip of the peninsula.

  60. Unusual synchronicity – I’ve just seen the image of the primary and antithetical gyres in a completely different context. In this video on diving safety it’s used to illustrate optimal decision-making time: It first appears at 16:35, then there’s a re-enactment of a near-miss incident, and you see it again at 26:24 with further details. I don’t know if this has any significance but it seemed worth pointing out.

  61. Hi John,
    Thank you so much for this. As someone who went through the Irish educational system, Yeats’s esoteric interest were never even hinted at. One of the things that was instilled in us was the national pride that we should draw from our literary giant-Yeats, James Joyce, Samuel Beckett and George Bernard Shaw (not a fan of the last, especially regarding his self-serving affection for the USSR).
    Yeats though was seen as a fountainhead of this Gaelic Revival, and reading your essay I have a better understanding of why exactly this is so. I am reminded of what Hilary Mantel said of history ‘Facts are not truth, though they are part of it…. And history is not the past- it is the method we have evolved of organising our ignorance of the past. It is the record of what’s left of the record’. Thanks for adding more to the “record” for me John, it has opened a window for me that I had only pried a little loose.
    I remember reading and essay by George Orwell on Yeats, and in Orwell’s opinions, a proto-fascistic yearning could be gleaned from his works. It’s a long time since I read this and maybe the commentariat could set me straight and whether I have this muddled-up. I guessing maybe he Yeats’s ‘September 1913’ stirred these feelings in Orwell. What do you think of this opinion (If true)?

  62. The cycle disclosed to Yeats through automatic writing seems identical to the synodic cycles of Sun/Moon and other planetary conjunctions now routinely used by many astrologers…a very interesting correlation…And now I can see where some of the images and ideas in Yeats’ work, which is very dear to me, come from..
    This is a remarkable piece, JMG, just amazing!..I had two courses in Victorian history from eminent professors (one of whom had extremely rare pictures of the Crystal Palace Exhibition), and none of these people were mentioned..It’s only been much later that I’ve been getting the real flavor of Victorian civilization and its richness…which is very much in contrast to the blandness of 20th century culture…I’ll be ordering your new book, but is there a compilation of your historical columns somewhere?…

  63. Analysis is maybe not the right word, but Dante himself did not consider it below his dignity to set out in prose, in “Vita Nuova”, what he intended to say with his sonnets and canzoni.

    In fact, you have already provided some hints in your comment to Reggie about the widening gyre and the slouching beast. If one hasn’t studied A Vision oneself, such references will simply pass one by, and I think most people who write about Yeats’ poetry haven’t read A Vision either!

  64. Dear JMG,

    Forgive me if this is an obtuse newbie question, as I have very, very little knowledge of occultism (and most of what I do have has been gleaned from your online posts).

    I’ve been wondering if you feel that the overall extent of occult practices, as opposed to ‘mainstream’ religiosity (if such an opposition can even be made), has varied widely throughout history, more specifically in the Western civilizations? And if so, what might be, or might have been, the ramifications and impact (if any) of that varying extent of occult practices on the respective societies in general?

  65. @samurai_47

    Just as a follow up note;
    In the Catle raid of Cooley there are ancient expressions of archetypes that I personally found fascinating. Especially around the obscure translated names in some of the accounts describing processions of warriors.

    In this ancient warrior culture it seems they were quite specific about what kind of warrior archetype particular individuals expressed. These forms tied deeply into personality perhaps.

    I assume a talented person could build a kind of a code of ethics/discipline around Cu Chullainn’s life, though that may be overboarding a little.

  66. JMG-
    Thanks for another great article. You never cease to deliver.

    Steve @35
    I’m familiar with Fischer, Woodward and Garreau’s work but I’m having trouble finding an Native American equivalent. Do you have any recommendations?

  67. From above: “P.S. Fun fact: the stone making the base of The Statue of Liberty was carved 17minutes from where i reside right now, and a Dolmen (dolmen des Courades) is still near the site, made from quite the same stone!”

    I haven’t finished reading the comments yet, had to skip down and reply on this: when I read it, I got a voice in my head saying “this is important, pay attention.” Over the years I have learned to listen to that voice. Unfortunately, figuring out WHY it is important is usually left as an exercise for the student.

  68. Ah-hah! The estate might not want to release the papers (the embarrassment factor). Too bad you can’t find The Castle of Heroes in a drawer somewhere because even if the estate doesn’t like it, Yeats is in the public domain.

  69. Just a wee thought on power vs. force: with power, you enable others to have the strength to act, and with force you make people comply with your wishes. The King is the poorest, most overworked person in the kingdom. The slave-owner is the richest.

  70. Yeats was haunted by guilt for having helped to inspire the 1916 Easter Rising. “Did that play of mine send out Certain men the English shot?”

    When magic and blood and soil nationalism combine the result can lead to lots of people being killed. I expect that one reason occultism is so unfashionable isn’t just that the religion of progress dismisses it as superstitious nonsense but also because of the way the Nazis were involved in dark magic.

  71. @Jacques (#71), and all:

    McGillis’s essay, to which you linked, cites Yeats’s very important 1901 article titled “Magic.” You can find it online at:

    A related piece of Yeats’s writing is his other article, “Swedenborg, Mediums, and the Desolate Places” (1920), which you can find online at:

    In 1974 George Mills Harper (who directed Kalogera’s dissertation on Yeats.) published Yeats’s Golden Dawn, one of the few studies to take Yeats’s occultism seriously. It was probably he who provided Kalogera with copies of trhe texts that she edited there

    In an appendix Harper published Yeats’s privately circulated “Is the Order of R.R. and A.C. to remain a Magical Order?” (1901). You can find that brief appendix, too, online at:

  72. Raymond, you’re most welcome.

    Stephen, the best way to erase something is simply not to teach it. When Virginia Moore published The Unicorn: Yeats’s Search for Reality in 1954 — the first attempt by a scholar to take Yeats’s occult studies seriously — most academics responded as though she’d let a loud fart in public. Nobody wanted to talk about it. (Frances Yates got the same reaction when she started talking about the role of occultism in Renaissance culture.) Only recently, as the pressure to find something new for a publication has reached crisis levels in most fields, has the old taboo broken down, and even so, the academic literature on recent occultism (anything since 1850 or so, really) tends to be hedged about with defensive maneuvers. Next to nobody wants to grapple with the fact that occultism is an enduring part of modern industrial society, with its own perspectives — from which it’s possible to watch academics at their antics, and chuckle.

    Stephen, not at the moment, no. We’re in one of those intervals of history that’s waiting for an adequate literary or artistic expression.

    Brian, I’m glad to hear that. Mathematics more complex than Euclid is mostly a closed book to me — like Goethe, I don’t have the right kind of mind for it — but I’m glad to hear that there are those who draw the connections I don’t see.

    Pholiate, Newton was an alchemist, full stop, end of sentence. He devoted more of his time to alchemy than he did to his research into gravity or light. His alchemical work was publicized in a big way in two books by Betty Jo Teeter Dobbs some years ago, and it was hilarious to watch rationalists of the Carl Sagan variety instantly eject Newton from his role as Hero of Reason as a result.

    Grover, there are advantages and disadvantages; I settled in a place that has a very long tradition of occult practice, dating back deep into colonial times, and have been exploring the possibilities ever since.

    Kalihi, this is excellent news! May it continue.

    Denis, there are two unspeakable truths about American history. The first is that its various convulsions have been caused by conflicts over the distribution of political and economic power; the second is that there’s a very strong regional element in those conflicts. Admit those, and it becomes uncomfortably clear that what’s behind the current set of conflicts is not a bunch of moral arguments — we’re good, they’re bad — but the distribution of political and economic power, with a strong regional element…

    Bei, your attitude’s very common these days, as it always is in the autumn of a civilization. The passionate rootedness to the land that Yeats described is a springtime thing, and Yeats — knowing that the end of the cycle was coming — had his eyes fixed on the early phases of the future spring.

    Justin, excellent! Yes, exactly — even in a relatively small and homogeneous nation such as Ireland, there are regional and local differences in culture and in the energy of the land, all the way down to “this patch of land is a good place for this activity, and that one isn’t.” The United States, if it succeeds in reviving its national culture from its current near-death state, might succeed in becoming an overarching form for at least a good part of its current notional land area, but only if it can make room for plenty of local and regional diversity (you know, the kind of diversity that the current diversity mavens can’t stand).

    Yorkshire, interesting. Hmm!

    Dermotok, you’re welcome and thank you. “Proto-fascistic” was one of the labels that was much used in the mid-20th century to defame occultists; it’s true, of course, that a good many leading Nazis were occultists, and that made it a convenient stick with which to thrash one’s opponents. At the same time, a lot of people in the 1930s hoped to harness the fascist movement in Europe and elsewhere and direct it toward constructive ends, since the Great Depression made the current system of corporate oligarchy disguised as democracy look a good deal less appealing to them. The world looked very different before the Second World War…

    Pyrrhus, there’s definitely an echo of the synodic cycle, but the boobytrap hidden in Yeats’s system lies in taking it literally in astrological terms. The age of the moon in your natal chart emphatically does not determine your personality phase! As for my history posts, no, they haven’t gone into a book. It would be a very strange book! Still, I’ll glance back over them sometime and see if there’s enough of a common theme to make it work.

    Aldarion, well, I’m not Dante! I may also be reacting too harshly to the current vogue for artist’s statements, in which artists who aren’t good enough to make their artworks communicate anything to anyone babble in sloppy prose about what it’s allegedly supposed to mean. But I think it’s worth drawing a distinction between analysis and commentary. When we get to A Vision in the book club posts, I’ll be citing a fair number of Yeats’s poems, since he did a fine job of elucidating his own ideas in his verse.

    Jacques, thanks for this — that article’s pretty solid.

    Alan, nope. Occultism has always been with us and always been avidly practiced. All that varies is the willingness of the chattering classes — pundits, journalists, professional intellectuals, and the like — to talk about it and admit its existence. I like to point out that right now, in the midst of our supposed Age of Science, there are more people professionally employed as astrologers than there are professional astronomers — and there always have been.

    Wyatt, you’re welcome and thank you.

    Teresa, well, we’ll see what might be possible. In the meantime, I have most of the material and I’ve told all my readers where they can find it…

    Robert C., of course that’s an issue. Nonetheless an absence of magic does not mean an absence of people running out and getting shot! For that matter, Nazi occultism — “irrationalism” in the lingo of the time — has long been used as a way to avoid talking about the disastrous failures of European politics and economics that gave Hitler his opportunities, just as similar rhetoric is now being used to avoid talking about a comparable set of failures now playing out a little further east.

    Robert M., many thanks for all these! My favorite edition of A Vision, Norman Jeffares’ A Vision and Related Writings, includes “Swedenborg, Mediums, and the Desolate Places” and “Per Amica Silentia Lunae,” both of which are necessary to understand A Vision. “Per Amica” can be downloaded here:

  73. JMG, that’s a good point– of course I’ve never been to New England, but I was using “Puritan” as a catchall simply because the author of Albion’s Seed does. But I certainly wouldn’t attempt to work with the spirits of any place without knowing it directly!

    I wonder if the variations within regions don’t themselves follow regional patterns. Williams and Blaxton are not Puritans, but they share with Puritans a common motive of dissident forms of Protestant Christianity, even if Williams and Blaxton were dissidents against the dissidents! On the other hand, in the area founded by the Quakers– Pennsylvania, Delaware, Southern New Jersey– you often see regional change reflected in the cultural identity of the people in explicitly ethnic ways. If one had grown up where my wife did in South Jersey, for example, one could be forgiven for believing that the whole of humankind was constituted by Irish and Italians (and perhaps also Jews, though the latter don’t advertise themselves by wearing shirts with Israeli flags or the words, “Smart, Good-Looking, and Jewish”). West of Philadelphia, the Jews disappear, and markers of German identity put in an appearance, with Christmas shops advertising “authentic German goods” and breweries like Troeg’s in Hershey, PA making (excellent) German-style beer. Where I grew up, in western-central PA, we still had Germans, Italians and Irish, but to these are added Poles and a host of smaller, mostly Catholic ethnic groups like Hungarians and Slovaks, most of whose forebears came over to work in the (Welsh-owned) coalmines. The landscape changes accordingly, from flatlands around the Delaware River, to rolling hills in Central PA where the Germans turn up, to steeper mountain ridges and highlands in the more diverse West. Again, I could be wrong, but my sense is that in other regions, the sub-regions will be marked out by very different sorts of distinctions among the human sub-cultures.

    In any case I think the point is that it’s necessary to become deeply acquainted with a given region in order to work it on a magical level. And in my experience, this isn’t always possible. I’ve lived in many parts of the country. Even before I had the language to describe it, I could tell you that in certain places the land seemed to welcome me, in other places to tolerate me, and in still others to totally reject me. Later this same experience was reflected in my magical work, and in other parts of my life. In California, for example, whenever I would do the Bardic Grade pathworkings of the Celtic Golden Dawn, I would find myself in landscapes resembling those I had grown up with in Pennsylvania or, in the Fire Grove, that I had known in Arizona, but almost never those of Santa Barbara County, where I actually live. Now, though, when I do elemental magical work, the images I experience are very much in tune with the landscape of Central Maryland, where I live. I recently read Dion Fortune’s book about Glastonbury, and I would like to be able to do for my country what she did for hers or Yeats did for Ireland. I believe that, if I put the work into it, I could do that for Maryland or for Pennsylvania, but could not have for California and may even have been harmed in the attempt!

  74. If you don’t mind me carrying on on this topic for a bit…

    I used to go running through a woodland in California in which the dominant trees were Pacific Live Oak, Canary Palm, and Australian Eucalyptus. The understory featured many California “natives” but also an abundance of wild fennel and mustard, originally from Europe. To a good environmentalist I suppose it wasn’t a natural place at all, but mess of “invasive species,” but the birds and the animals and the insects didn’t care, and neither did I. I suppose we were all invasives as well.

    This landscape endures in my mind as an image of the spiritual landscape of America, and its future. The climate of Southern California, the presence of the Pacific with its cold waters, the barrier islands protecting the coast from tsunamis, the mountains preventing the moisture from moving inland– all these are the immovable gods of the landscape, eternal titans who determine which of the more transient phenomena will endure, and which will pass away. Among the flora, the eucalyptus have come to stay, and the whole region is so much the better for it, including the endangered monarch butterflies for which they provide shelter. So is the canary palm. The banana trees which feature in much of the region’s landscaping will not endure past the presence of humans willing to water and propagate them. Among those humans and their cultural habits, nearly all are from other parts of the world, as are the Australian gum trees, but some are there to stay, while others won’t last any longer than the bananas. I was among the latter. I couldn’t abide the lack of seasons, or attempting a hayride or a corn maze in 90 degree Fall weather. Corn mazes, pumpkin patches, and hayrides are for the Northeast, or the Midwest, but not for Santa Barbara.

    These same patterns are found on the inner planes. Of foreign gods and ways of worship some become nativized, while others only remain as long as there is someone to propagate them. Magian bibliolatry seems to be of the former kind, as it has taken root in some form or another everywhere in America; Roman Catholicism is of the latter, as it dries up within a few generations and must be renewed by yet another wave of immigrants bearing living shoots from the Old Country. But the deep, old gods of the land decide, and I think that they are as willing to call themselves Jesus or Mary as White Buffalo Calf Woman or Tezcatlipoca, and to speak through Bibles or acid trips or AA meetings as they were through their older forms.

  75. @JMG (#80):

    Thanks so much for the pointer (and link) to Yeats’s Per amica silentia lunae, which had not been on my radar screen. I have just downloaded it, and will commence reading shortly.

  76. @ Wyatt317, Patricia Matthews and others re. Native American culture regions (I’m going to continue to use that term because I’m familiar with it, though I don’t especially like it either)–

    I have a number of books on this topic, but all at my mother’s house, so the specific sources I was thinking of are going to have to wait until the next holiday. But if you google “Native American Culture Regions” and hit image search, a number of maps come up:

    These can then be productively compared with the maps that Colin Woodard provides for his American nations:

    or the Nine Nations of North America:

    Again, there are a number of books which shouldn’t be too hard to find which do attempt to survey all of Native North America. Two of the ones that are somewhere in my mom’s basement are coffee table books from the late 90s, and so very easily accessible even if they aren’t masterpieces of scholarship. One book which isn’t explicitly on this topic but which might work in the meantime that is coming to mind is an anthropological survey from the ’60s entitled Man’s Rise to Civilization by Peter Farb. Farb looks at Indian cultures in the Southeast (Cherokee), Plains (Lakota), Southwest (Shoshone), and Northwest (Kwakiutl, I think). His lens is political anthropology, which (at the time at least) categorized human societies as bands, tribes, chiefdoms, or states, and his aim is to show the difference between these social forms, as well as to make snide comments about their inferiority to Western civilization. But his book provides a wealth of information on the societies he looks at, and if you consider that many of the same cultural forms found among these peoples were found among their neighbors as well, it has a lot to say on the question we’re discussing.

  77. Re: Tolkien

    Even when he did settle down into Roman Catholicism, it was borderline heretical. He believed that at least some of the old gods of the pagans were actually angelic beings preparing the ground for Christ’s redemption. I wonder Christianity might take on a distinctly Tolkienian flavour over the next few centuries.

  78. Consider Jessie Weston, one of the first women to become a major presence in the field of folklore studies and the author of a book on the Holy Grail that T.S. Eliot used as the basis for his brilliant poem The Waste Land

    I’ve been trying to work through my reading list, but my attempt has just gone down in flames. Sigh. Add it to the list.

  79. Patricia Mathews,

    Anywhere south of Gainesville (maybe Ocala) is nothing but Yankees! Until you get to the Hispanic/Caribbean enclaves you touched on. I took a 4-day vacation to Tampa (Ybor City and environs actually) back in 2016, and it was a foreign country. Truly. The architecture was Spanish and foreign to me. The people were much more subtropical Latino. I live in a pretty white bread neighborhood…

    Yeah, Tidewater Dixie is what I was referring to with my coastal plain comment. I know Gainesville is on the coastal plain, but it’s far enough inland to be different in its own way (if there is such a thing as “inland” on the Florida peninsula), and very different from where I live now.

    You probably know I graduated from UF, but have been gone for a long time. I would speculate that north-central Florida is a different “magical unit” than its coastal cousins. I can just hear that rural Alachua County accent in my head as we speak!

  80. JMG,

    I imagine you have been exploring that! If I know anything at all about you. Thank you for the candid opinion. I can imagine old New England suiting you right down to the ground.

    I’d be curious to hear from others about magical ecotones, though, if we can go ahead and call them that?

    Where do people draw the line between one coherent magical unit and the next? What is it like, energy-wise, at the border? I’m very curious now.

  81. Steve T,

    What you say about New England having a Saturn connection makes sense. Where I live, digging a hole turns up at least 50% rock. It’s difficult and takes a fair amount of time if digging by hand. The winters are long and harsh. For much of the year, everything is grey: from shadowed snow to heavy storm clouds, everything is grey. Even the bare trees are greyish brown. You can easily go weeks without seeing the sun. Even so it’s a beautiful place to live. The brief flash of a cardinal inspires a burst of joy in such a landscape.

    I’ve always felt that the spirit of Vermont is a mature woman though. She’s demanding and tolerant and nurturing in no particular order. I don’t have any skill communicating with land spirits, so I could be quite wrong.


    Have you seen the series “The Secret World of Trees” hosted by Manchan Magan? For a while it was available through a streaming service. I would gladly watch it again but it isn’t available for streaming anymore, or as a DVD, at least here in the US. Thank you for the heads up on “Listen to the Land Speak”. I want to read that!

    Chris in VT

  82. BTW, Mr. Greer,

    Just out of curiosity, do you feel like you’re home for good now, in East Providence? I remember you saying something about leaving your papers to Brown.

  83. JMG,

    > As for my history posts, no, they haven’t gone into a book. It would be a very strange book! Still, I’ll glance back over them sometime and see if there’s enough of a common theme to make it work.

    A theme from your writing on this and similar topics that I would love to read more about is the ‘real history’ of the west, for lack of a better term. A simple story running through the last 500 odd years of Europe describing a world that is anything _but_ the approved narrative would be absolutely fascinating. For example I find your occasional asides about how incorrect our perceptions of the reality of Victorian values are tantalising – not that I desire a comprehensive study of history but simply a brief exposition of that point, and the same across the entire timeline would be exceptional. And the same could be done for the Americas.

    I think the issue I have is that so much of reality is obscured by the stories we are told, or, as at present, flat at contradictory of the stories we are allowed to say. I am so thoroughly fed up with the highly polished rational hagiographies of ‘chosen ones’ on our way to the stars that a book simply saying the unsayable (about many of the same people nonetheless) brings such immense relief that I’d buy the book without a second thought.

  84. @Grover #58 – same with Virginia. There’s the Tidewater, the Piedmont, and the Mountains. I’ll bet a map of the coastal South would show the same thing in the Carolinas.

    You get a similar pattern on the West Coast. In Oregon, “over the Cascades” is mountain-and-basin high desert country, quite unlike the coastal Willamette Valley where the big cities are. Same with Washington State, except that Oregon’s capitol is in the coastal area, and Washington’s, in the dryland east. California divides out the same way, only more so – coast, inland valley, mountains — and North/South as well. Can’t speak for any other regions.

    Even the Southwest: New Mexico, with its large Heritage Hispanic population that predates the Pilgrims and Jamestown both, and it’s large Indian population, heavily Pueblos in the north and center, and the spread-out Navajo and Apache Nations, is quintessentially Southwestern, but differs from Anglo-dominated Arizona amazingly.

  85. “To succeed, such a project had to reach down to deep places where the collective consciousness of humanity merges into the secret inner life of the land itself.”

    Well, this perked my ears up.

    “Some of those can be grouped together — New England is a coherent magical unit, for example…”

    What’s the next thing that has to happen, for a New England edition of Yeats’s project to become a reality?

  86. Benn (no. 60): And Wormtongue should have been an economic advisor, trying to extract Gondor from its precarious overdependence on pastoralism.

    Gandalf is an upper-class elite type who tells everybody what to do, and can’t be gotten rid of.

    Tom Bombadil is a tech guy like Elon–apparently all-powerful, but doesn’t do much more than talk and party.

  87. 100% agree that the only way to understand the American Revolution is as a power struggle between elites.

    I’ve often wondered if the public school systems which were installed around the 1910’s with administration from the state capitols (previously schools were locally run), was done so students minds could be streamlined. No more of that those pesky traditional beliefs of one’s people, and a concise and catchy version of history for everyone. After three generations in the schools, there would be no one alive who could remember what was missed.

    What else is missing that you know of that you don’t have the time or interest to research? I love a good rabbit hole.

  88. @samurai_47: You might check out the books of Steve Blamires. Specifically the titles: The Irish Celtic Magical Tradition and Glamoury: Magic of the Celtics Green World. I have not worked through the books, so cannot totally vouch for them, but I picked them up used somewhere along the way. I too was interested in possibly working with a system based on the Irish pantheon, but I have not gone down that road any further at this point.

    As far as books or translations of the Tain Bo Culain and related tales, I have enjoyed the work if Randy Lee Eickhoff. I haven’t read all his Irish myth books, but the ones I read I enjoyed. He also wrote some westerns, so he has a good sense of action and adventure.

    And fwiw, it wasn’t until I went on a trip to Texas and felt the atmosphere of the old cowboy culture around me that I really got a sense of what the whole cattle raid thing is at least in part about. Until then it had been foreign to my city slicker ways.

    And fwiw Eickhoff is a Texan himself. Something about that place and cattle I guess.

    The Flight of Michael McBride, a western fantasy novel by Midiri Snyder set in the 1800s was also part of what helped click in the Tain stuff for me a little better. I read it on the trip out there.

    Wishing you succes to your work!

  89. Steve, there are certainly regional patterns, and in fact the state boundaries are fairly well drawn in this part of the country (though southeastern Massachusetts really ought to be a state of its own). That was less true of Maryland — go west of Frederick and you pass from mid-Atlantic with a Tidewater garnish into Appalachia good and proper. Not far away from Cumberland, where I used to live, was a thoroughfare named Bear Holler Road, and that’s how they spelled it on the road sign; the local term for moonshine is “branch water,” and yes, I tried and enjoyed some. So your point’s a good one — it requires close attention to the realities of place to practice that kind of magic.

    Robert, you’re most welcome! If I recall correctly, that’s where he first sets out the antithesis between the primary and antithetical tinctures.

    Luke, I certainly hope so!

    Cliff, the book by Weston you want is From Ritual to Romance, and it’s available for free download here:

    It’s a good quick read.

    Grover, the thought of a really well-developed science of magical ecology, complete with a discussion of energetic ecotones, is very appealing indeed. How to get there? Start researching! As for settling down, I certainly hope so; it’s a very pleasant region with much the same feel as southwestern Britain (which I love), I get along well with the climate and the people, and moving is a pain in the rump. That said, I don’t pretend to know what the future has in store for me.

    Daniel, I’ll certainly keep that in mind!

    Patricia M (if I may), er, not so! The capital of Washington state is Olympia, which is on the wet side of the Cascades — in fact, it’s in roughly the same relation to Seattle that Salem, OR is to Portland, being a modest distance pretty much due south.

    Walt, the next step would be systematic research into the magical dimensions of the land: sites, stories, and strange phenomena.

    J.L.Mc12, yep. And that’s part of why everyone talks about Charles Darwin as the discoverer of natural selection and nobody talks about Alfred Russell Wallace, who got to the same ideas at the same time.

    Denis, it’s more a question of what isn’t missing. Choose a period of history and a region that interests you, and go looking for books about its history that were written before you were born — is a good resource here. Prepare to be gobsmacked.

  90. @Grover and @ Patricia Mathews,

    I have enjoyed your reading your comments about magical ecotones. I would say that “the Carolinas” are definitely NOT one magical ecotone. NC has a very different feel than SC.

    Regarding how to draw the line between magical ecotones, I think it depends on the mage. For me, there are some places that feel good and some places that feel icky. There are a variety of different ickies… sometimes it feels chaotic (which to me is an icky feeling). Sometimes it feels “off”. Sometimes it just makes me feel like I want to be anywhere else.

    I looked at a geologic map of my state; it didn’t quite seem to fit where places feel good vs icky. I looked at a map of fault lines; that doesn’t seem to fit very well, either. But the map of watersheds? Yeah, that seems to fit very well. Charleston and Savannah seem like they should have a similar feel… they aren’t really that far apart and they are both on the water, etc. But they feel very different and there are two watersheds in between them. And looking at the other watershed areas in my state, there are definitely places I enjoy visiting and definitely places I avoid.

    I would be curious if you feel any correlation between watersheds and the magical ecotones you perceive in the areas you are familiar with.

  91. @Ian Duncombe,

    Thanks very much for this. I have read the cattle raid stories in various forms, but I need to take a closer reading. Is there a specific edition or translation you recommend, particularly with regard to the archetypes and whether the translation really brings out the gold in the warrior names?

    @Justin Patrick Moore,

    Many thanks for this! I thought I had worked through my reading list…now it is full again.

  92. @Grover #87 – thanks for that! When I moved down here, I expected to hear the deep molasses accents I heard from two of the people I’d talked to on the phone – and some of the staff (‘associates” in today’s parlance) actually do have those accents and are a pleasure to hear. The twang I actually did hear grated on me badly, but now does not. I also used to get the Alachua county weekly, and send it onto JMG & Sara, but it’s starting to feel more suburban now, and the recipe column has completely gone.

  93. @JMG – OUCH! Where did I get the idea it was Spokane?

    I also had a picture of Oregon State in Corvallis as being further west than it is, until I saw the map in my grandson’s brochure. And noted, for all it’s practical “Moo U” courses and similar ones (Marine biology in my grandson’s case) there was a ton of pure wokish courses. OUCH!

  94. Patricia M, good question. I don’t think Spokane was ever in the running. Ellensburg, which is in the middle of the state just east of the Cascades, almost got the nod, but it’s been Olympia since territorial times.

  95. This post has been well worth the wait, JMG. As always, things happen when they are meant to: certainly, your discussion of Yeats with the commentariat is richer than it may have been a couple of years ago given the ground that we have been covering together. Many thanks for the post.

    I must confess that about a year ago, I gave A Vision a try, but could not get more than a quarter into it. Maybe the timing was wrong; or maybe it’s just me. I really wanted to ‘dig it’, but there just was no spark. On the other hand, at the same time I read Yeats’s published notes of conversations he had with common Irish folk about all sorts of things (in 1890/91, if I recall correctly), and I fell in love. A man of obviously elite stock, living in highly stratified late Victorian Britain, actually listening and paying attention to what an Irish ‘son of the soil’ has to say about the past, or ghosts, or ‘the fair folk’ or whatever! Reminiscent of Wordsworth (before him) and Walter Evans-Wentz (after him). As I read, I saw that Yeats was drinking deeply from the ancient well, the faintly beating heart of Ireland, was spell-bound by it, and wanted to foster it. Until reading this week’s post, I had no idea about Yeats’s Castle of Heroes project, but it is clear that he certainly laid the groundwork well in advance.

    It is a popular habit of mind to play the ‘what if?’ game. What ‘if’ the Castle of Heroes has blossomed and become a bastion of Irish-Celtic revival? Why did the project have to get scuttled so early on? Etc. But to my simple, mystic mind, I believe that it accomplished all that it had to. Like giving a boulder on top of a hill a little push: time and the forces of nature will take care of the rest. The Celtic culture of the Irish and Highland Scots is like their whiskey: very potent stuff and – when you get down to it – very ‘alien’ to the Anglo-Saxon culture that has been slashing and burning it down for more than a millennium. Just a wee dram of the stuff will get the blood flowing and warm you down to your toes. Best not to down half a bottle in one go! Besides, the span of a single human lifetime is a trifle in the multi-millennial arc of the forces that are at play.

    As for your reply to Bei – “the passionate rootedness to the land that Yeats described is a springtime thing, and Yeats — knowing that the end of the cycle was coming — had his eyes fixed on the early phases of the future spring” – now, that sounds like a worthwhile venture! That seems to be what my life has been turning towards, ever so gradually, for more than a decade – and has greatly accelerated ever since the trucks blared their horns across my great country in late January of this year (I know these words must seem silly to many readers, but so be it – it is the truth). I am falling ever deeper in love with the land that has borne me and nourished me for nearly all of my life and I feel compelled to be, in my own, humble, way, a voice for her. I appreciate both the caution that you gave Benn (don’t let the nameless forces that surge through the deep places of one’s land be one’s masters) and the encouragement that you gave him. Those words speak to me too. Thank you.

  96. @Samurai_47: others have given you good sources to consult regarding Irish mythology, but I can’t resist giving my two cents’ worth. One of my most cherished books of all time is Celtic Myths and Legends by Peter Berresford Ellis. Now, the book is a mix of traditional tales from all over the British Isles as well as Brittany, so it gives one a good feeling of the different ‘flavours’ of the Celtic peoples’ stories. Personally, I found the Irish tales to be the most entrancing – pure magic! And while Ellis does not ‘unlock’ the occult teachings that are within the stories, as a Celtic linguist par excellence and a great story-teller to boot, he is able to bring out so much richness from the original-language stories (including giving the meaning of the Celtic place-names that have been somewhat corrupted over the centuries and telling the stories that gave the places their names, thus rooting the culture to the very land that birthed it) that the occult which permeates ancient Celtic culture practically bubbles over in the book. At least, that was my experience. You may want to check it out.

  97. Hey jmg

    On the subject of Wallace, did you know that the famous British comedian and actor Bill Bailey did a 3 part miniseries about him? I know you don’t do video, but I watched it and it was quite enjoyable.

  98. @JMG

    Just wanted to add a historical tidbit – the Easter Sunday Uprising of 1916 (which Yeats supported) inspired a similar uprising in India – that of the 1930 Chittagong Uprising, which was conceived, planned and led by the Indian revolutionary Surya Sen. This may sound surprising, but to a student of the history of the Indian independence movement, it’s not; while the official version of the history gives credit to Mr. Gandhi and his ‘mass movements’, the unofficial story is that the Brits were far more terrified of armed Indian revolutionaries than they were of Gandhi (who I consider to be an example of controlled opposition), and these revolutionaries were often at least inspired by, if not helped by, the Irish revolutionaries. This is one more reason behind the friendly relations between Ireland and India. There were other reasons too, like the pro-India leanings of Irish people like Annie Besant and Sister Nivedita (born Margaret Noble), but this is one of the lesser-known ones.

  99. Fascinating. Thank you. Reading of anti occult prejudices reminded me that Adrienne Rich once called Yeats a “table rapping fascist.” Grossly unfair, yes, but I always thought it a clever insult.

  100. Robert Clayton #78, from the film Michael Collins and the graphic novel Preacher, I got the impression the Irish independence movement was seriously divided. On one side were those who thought in symbolic terms like Eamon de Valera and Padraig Pearce. They wanted to do something that would inspire resistance for generations to come. Then there were those like James Connolly and Michael Collins who just wanted to win and get it over with in a few years. The latter thought the former’s desire for symbolism let to futile and doomed acts.

  101. The subject of the energies and the archetypes of the land is a quite interesting one. I have wondered for a time already why it is that the myths and legends which appeal to people are not always the myths and legends of the country where they live. The myths and legends which appeal to anyone can even be from far-off countries with which one doesn’t have anything to do. Is this a particularity of declining civilizations, of modern Western civilization, or is it more universal? I have the impression that it is the more traditional societies where the customs, the myths, archetypes and religion are all congenial to its inmates whereas in other societies (civilizations for example) these things don’t necessarily coincide at all.

    About Germany, there are differences of culture and character of the land between different parts of Germany; for exampla, Bavaria has its own distinctive culture and character, and so have the parts of Germany at the Baltic sea. But there isn’t a strong cultural egregor which would unite Germany as a whole in an organic fashion, rather it is like a somewhat artificial union, accomplished in 1871 after the Franco-Prussian war in a nationalistic and militaristic mood, which is not a real solid basis for a national culture.

  102. What is it with occultists and castles? The Nazis were the same at Wewelsburg. Is it just because castles are cool or is there more to it?

  103. RandomActsofKarma,

    I think the watershed delineation is a great place to start for sure. Maybe tempered by landforms after that. We all seem to be in basic agreement that the mountains are not the piedmont are not the coastal plain, magically-speaking, whether in the same watershed or not. Another large-scale demarcation might come from geological parent material – the underlying bedrock type that produces the soil above. At our cabin here we sit atop fairy cross bearing micaceous schist, but in town, by the rivers, we are on the classic red granite that gives the South its distinctive stain. The granite-derived soil is more fertile, at least from a plant’s perspective, and the magical influence is different in both places.

    And that’s just in one county in north Georgia! Whew boy, this could get interesting.

    In order to go anywhere with this, though, we’ll have to find somewhat larger units to delineate, like “New England” or similar. At least initially. Or we may lose the forest among the trees.

    You know, if you look at the coastal plain, piedmont, and mountains as nested magical ecosystems, it looks like a good site for a castle…just sayin’. 😉

  104. Thank you for this piece, JMG! I remember reading about the Castle of Heroes in an academic textbook on the history of the Golden Dawn. There is a hidden underground researching these things within academia, but you have to dig pretty deep to find it.

    Regarding Alfred Russell Wallace and Charles Darwin: I once worked a temp job for the Natural History Museum in London. They had removed the statue of their founder, Wallace, from the top of the stairs, and replaced it with Darwin, to fit in with the Darwin cultists. Worse, all the new staff were given the same story about how Wallace was a silly religious creationist Christian and Darwin was an intelligent rational scientist (*cough cough and Christian butwewontmentionthatbitcough*).

  105. Hello JMG and kommentariat. I have started reading the weekly post today, and I’ve read the name of Marie Corelli…What a surprise! Last time I went to an “old books” bookshop meeting (some months ago), I saw some Corelli’s novels. Of course, there were in English and in a state similar to this one…,eto:3486480320507071748_0,pid:3486480320507071748&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwia8vSXh9v7AhUnQ_EDHWa8BBYQ9pwGCAg

    I had no idea until today who was Marie Corelli in her time, so I regret not having paid more attention on that unknown writer.
    It’s really unfair that writers not so far in the past like Corelli had been forgotten for spurious reasons.

  106. “Her occultism offends today’s rationalists, and her tolerant, mystically oriented Christianity offends today’s evangelical Christians just as much as it does today’s Neopagans.”
    I understand that situation, as “eccentric and heterodox” Christian I’ve seen some of that thing around me and the few people with similar beliefs…when you don’t fit on the standard plastic boxes of beliefs systems.

  107. @randomactsofkarma #99, Steve T, JMG, et al: Ecotones, magical ecology, good stuff!

    Randomactsofkarma: I think the idea of using watersheds as one lens of looking at things is quite good. Its a useful lens because it can go from the larger regional watersheds all the way down to the hyperlocal. So, for me, I’m living in the Ohio River Basin. But between that I’m living in the Miami Valley, between the Great Miami River and the Little Miami. Closer still I am living in the Mill Creek Watershed (Maketewa -home to Shawnee and Miami Indians). Yet closer still are some smaller cricks going into that. Most of those are now underground sluices and storm drains, but are still active as creeks. If I was still at the house where I grew up the big tributary to the Mill Creek would be Lick Run, and so on.

    The Mill Creek is interesting, as I live and work in the valley, where it runs. But it runs through there because it was carved out I believe by the Licking River in KY at one point long ago. The steep hills remain, but the Mill Creek goes in what was once a bed of a much deeper river.

    I know that in the AODA curricula (which I did not do, but I read some of the books on it) they suggested reading a few books of natural history from your local area, and I did do that. It seems like it would be one part of developing the work further around regional land magics.

    The link shows a view of the Mill Creek a few blocks from me and my wife and I frequently walk our dogs along that path there, and I always like to say hi to the Maketewah. Spring Grove cemetery is across the street, a truly wonderous place and great example of landscape architecture. Many of the springs are still there. The bottom part of my neighborhood was once mostly wetland. The Indian trails nearby later became places where folks like Mad Anthony Wayne brought their troops and camped out. My street still has barrack buildings on it from the time when my neighborhood was an army camp, and Mad Anthony street is just a block away.

    …so local history is a bit of a passion for me, and I suspect would be another element in the toolkit of regional and local land magic…

  108. JMG, thanks for pointing out Yeats and the others.

    “Come away, O human child!
    To the waters and the wild
    With a faery, hand in hand,
    For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand.”
    Yeats – The Stolen Child

  109. I have pre-ordered JMG’s latest book and am looking forward to reading it! Lately I’ve been doing a lot of research on early Christianity and the birth of the Grail Legends. My focus has been more on the incorporation of pre-Christian Greco-Roman and indigenous Western European religious practices into Christianity from Late Antiquity through the Medieval era.

    I’ve started looking at Gnosticism, and am amused to discover that while Gnosticism was among the early “Christian heresies,” the Gospels work overtime to establish Christ’s connections to John the Baptist and the Nasoreans. The Nasoreans are still around today, but are better known as Mandaeans, from the Arabic word for “knowledge” or, in Greek, gnosis. And of course you don’t write a story about three Magi visiting an infant unless you want to imply that said infant had a special connection to the Zoroastrian-influenced Magians. (Who later become serious competitors, as we see in the story of Simon Magus).

    I had hitherto avoided popular books on the Grail and Gnosticism because so many of them are bullshale. I’m glad to see that somebody with decent research chops has decided to take matters in hand!

  110. Re: watersheds: The Rio Grande runs through Albuquerque, and often is a disappointing, muddy stream (drought country) but you can always tell where it and any tributaries up north are, because there’s where there are trees. It’s fed by the Colorado River, but part of that may be artificial. The Rio Grande Valley is clearly distinct from the prairie country on the other side of the Sandia Mountains to the east, but the steep rise at the Sandias is a massive marker. There is an interim region, the Foothills, which has been developed rapidly, and whose homeowners are always complaining about bears and coyotes invading Their Property and eating their cats and lapdogs. Well, it’s classic Mountain & Basin country, but you can pretty well tell which side of the state you’re on once out of the city limits. For what that’s worth.

    All these spells calling for you to throw something into the nearest running water calls for a long drive to the riverside, finding a parking place, walking down, and hope you don’t get fined for littering.

    BTW – if any of you have read Neil Stephenson’s Anathem – and yes, he does a long riff on contemporary culture in a world that logically should not be any more like ours than the ancient Romans, but then, taking sideswipes at contemporary follies has a long history in science fiction – the scenes of when the narrator gets out into town on his decennial leave catch the weedy, trashy flavor of a run-down high desert town so perfectly, I wonder where he lives or was brought up.

  111. “…you need to figure out where they’re headed, and cooperate with them. They won’t be your servants, and it’s a bad idea to let them be your masters; cooperating and co-creating with them is a challenging task…”

    This, in the comment thread, was about working with the spirits of the land… BUT…

    …strikes me as being every bit as true of people…

    …we, too appear to make reluctant servants and poor masters, but are not bad at some forms of co-operation and co-creation…

  112. @Piper,

    That’s my favorite Yeats poem 🙂

    Where the wandering water gushes
    From the hills above Glen-Car,
    In pools among the rushes
    That scarce could bathe a star,
    We seek for slumbering trout
    And whispering in their ears
    Give them unquiet dreams;
    Leaning softly out
    From ferns that drop their tears
    Over the young streams.
    Come away, O human child!
    To the waters and the wild
    With a faery, hand in hand,
    For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand.

  113. Ron M, A Vision isn’t easy going, and it doesn’t help that it starts out with a burst of high abstraction heavily larded with quotes from the Greek Presocratic philosophers. (Yeats was an exceptionally well-read man, even by the standards of his generation.) I’m not surprised you had trouble slogging through! When the monthly book club gets to A Vision, I expect to spend quite a few posts unpacking that first chapter. As for listening to the land, that’s something that needs doing; I have a book project with that focus currently under way — more about this later — but it’s not something that can be limited to one person, or one person’s habits of work.

    J.L.Mc12, no, I didn’t. Interesting.

    Viduraawakened, that doesn’t surprise me at all. Too many Western historians like to think of India during the Raj as isolated, backward, and ignorant — that portrayal fits Eurocentric narratives — but that’s just more of the usual pernicious nonsense. Intellectuals in early 20th century India were entirely up to speed on the latest cultural trends in Western countries; Sri Aurobindo’s a great example here, since his writings are fully informed by Western as well as Indian philosophy, but I’d also cite Sri Yogendra and Swami Kuvalayananda — they both drew on the language and rhetoric of Western physical culture to attract favorable attention to their revival of hatha yoga. As in philosophy, so in politics: anybody who supported the cause of Indian independence would have been paying close attention to other movements opposed to European colonial domination, and Ireland was a good example of how to do it and win.

    D., it’s a clever insult indeed — but notice the implications. She was equating spiritualism with fascism; a lot of people did that.

    Booklover, I think the habit of seeking inspiration only from the myths of distant countries is part and parcel of closing oneself off to the influences of one’s own country. In declining civilizations, it’s very common for elite classes to wall themselves off from their own laboring classes, and slamming the doors on the folk culture and subtle dimensions of the land is part of that.

    Yorkshire, I think it’s just that castles are cool. Plenty of other occultists used different styles of architecture for their ritual spaces.

    Luke, oh, I know — I’ve been in contact with a few of them. As for the blacklisting of Wallace, that’s interesting. I wonder what else he might have been up to.

    Chuaquin, if you can handle e-books, 25 of her titles are currently available for free download on Project Gutenberg:

    There are a lot of good writers whose work has vanished for the same reason. One of my favorite children’s-fiction authors when I was young, Joan North, has been deep-sixed the same way; her novels The Cloud Forest, The Light Maze, and The Whirling Shapes all have a lively spiritual dimension, which is why I liked them so much, and why they’ve been dumpstered in recent years.

    Piper, you’re most welcome!

    Kenaz, if you haven’t already done so, make a beeline for Jessie Weston’s From Ritual to Romance. She’s a little too much under the spell of Sir James Frazer for modern tastes, but she makes some very important points. You’re right that the vast majority of what’s currently out there in the popular press about the Grail and Gnosticism is utter horseradish, I’m sorry to say; older books have their value here as usual.

  114. This comment is inspired by:
    “Kenaz Filan says:
    #118 December 2, 2022 at 10:54 am”

    The development of Christianity out of some strange combination of the Judaisms of late antiquity, Mediterranean spiritualities and Graeco-Roman and later indigenous Western European practices is perhaps the biggest rabbit hole a person can jump into. Mystery piled on mystery. In one way or another, I’ve been investigating that for a substantial part of my now substantial life (while attempting to earn a living), and I appreciate any decent research I can lay my hands on.

    So much material today is hyper-academic, presenting arguments based on academic insider baseball and not relevant to anyone but a Ph.D. candidate or someone seeking tenure. It’s very difficult to sift through and arrive at anything useful. Minutae and (to borrow a useful term from Jewish scholarship), pilpul. Like reading a news story and finding that nothing in the body of it refers to what’s in the lede (something I find is very common these days).

    I suspect that our host’s gentle pointing to some of the now-forgotten 19th century worthies whose work is no longer “respectable” enough is a good indicator of where to look.

    What I’m discovering, basically, is what my inner guide has been saying all along (that I have had difficulty believing), and it comports well with what we are discussing on this site. Dion Fortune, WB Yeats, GRS Meade (sp?), et al. were on to something and later (contemporary academic research) stuff mostly obfuscates what the pioneers of the 19th and early 20th century had already begun to present to us. I, too, look forward to reading what our host has in his most recent book, cited earlier.

  115. Regarding A Vision: the story of Huddon, Duddon, etc., is intriguing and (probably deceptively) easy going; like a set piece that might stand up well on its own. The accompanying poems add something more. But then comes the Great Wheel… and the gyres, which have so far gyred right over my head. I guess it pays to keep trying, however.

  116. I’ve been mulling over your insights about the primal archetipes, roots, and foundations of the European peoples, and how they were summoned in the first half of the 20th century, and the diferent outcomes in each nation.

    All this somehow helps me to understand better our civilian war, wich i now see, was a very sad last chapter of the Two-Spains dilema of the XIX century, ending tragically with one of the “Spains” slain for good.

    Speaking more generally though, don’t you think that it was precisely that “primal calling” one of the main reasons that exhausted the vitality out of the European culture? Maybe that’s why now we can be bounded together, like a bundle of dry sticks…

  117. @JMG

    I thought Adrienne Rich was ahead of her time – equating spiritualism (and romanticism) with fascism. I didn’t realize it was an old trick!

  118. D #108 re: ““table rapping fascist.”
    Table rapping is also a traditional way of showing appreciation in German academia, so there may have been additional connotations implied.

  119. Hi John Michael,

    Yup, it’s no good. Doesn’t seem to stop people trying it on though. Certainly it is a hard way to learn, but that is what you get I guess when the past is trampled upon. Such enlightened days, these.

    Hey, so poets right, I’m assuming that they use the tools of imagery, metaphor and allegory to invoke energies and forge paths, and more importantly speak aloud the things needing to be said in a climate where more direct words may create blow-back?



  120. Hi Darkest Yorkshire,

    Perhaps proving that reactions can set in motion equal and sometimes greater forces… Ain’t you heard of Tall Boys and Grand Slams? 😉

    My wife’s father was an old bloke when she was born. He’s now dead, but during WWII he was a young bloke in the Czech republic (or whatever it was called back then) and he told me a story about the German’s recruiting teenagers to man the U-Boats. He said it was well known that by that stage of the war, that the U-Boats had lost their effectiveness. The pens are a great example of the psychology of previous investment. And interestingly, that lot also had the Messerschmitt Me 262 which was technically superior in every way to what they were sent out to fight. Did that make a difference? Nope, and they were equally vulnerable on the ground as any other aircraft. History has a lot to tell us, if we but dare take a look.



  121. In case you or any of the commentariat are near an archives with Yeat’s work and want to see the originals, here’s a link to where they are

    Archivists have developed this SNAC website to link collections to famous people. It’s always all spread out across multiple archives, and this helps people find it. Helpful to quickly see who else is their contemporary.


    The article above is hardly news to most around here, but note where it was published. It seems to be either a mainline Anglican magazine, or perhaps a Anglo-Catholic ditto. In Canada, of all places.

    Yet, it touches on precisely the topics dealt with here: the interface between religion, esotericism and – surprise – science. Some interesting links also, mostly to books sold by Amazon which not even I have read!

  123. @Justin Patrick Moore,

    Ooo, I like the idea of breaking the watersheds down into smaller “chunks”. In SC, the PeeDee watershed is one that is not compatible to me, but there are places (mostly near the coast) that have wonderful energy. The salt marshes along the coast are an ecotone between the PeeDee watershed and the Atlantic, so now it makes sense that the coastal areas would have a very different feel than the inland areas of the same watershed. Thank you for giving me more to think about. 🙂


    Yes, that is quite an interesting hypothesis! I had looked at a map of fault-lines, thinking that each piece (probably not big enough to be considered a tectonic plate… a tectonic saucer, perhaps?) might have distinctive energy, but that didn’t seem to work. But your comment inspired an internet search that led to this map: This fits way better (for me, anyway). I grew up in an Upper Cretaceous area. But I am much happier in a Paleocene/Eocene/Miocene place. I dearly love the coast, but am much too pragmatic to live there. The house that we are restoring (to retire to) is on Highway One, which is quite inland. But (to me) it has some of the same energy as the coast. In doing my local ecology readings for the AODA curriculum, I learned the Highway One (in my state) is based on an old trail that followed the edge of where the coast used to be (millennia ago).

    And I would think it is quite reasonable that different people are sensitive to different types of energy. I’ve always loved rocks and been able to feel energy from rocks, so it makes sense that I would feel the energy from the bedrock. But some people might be more attuned to plants or water or something else.


    I have wondered if perhaps the deities I have (which don’t align with my genetic ancestry or my geographic location) might have something to do with the latitude and agricultural zone where I live. The latitude where I live and the latitude of the historical areas that worshipped the same deities are really close. And my agricultural zone is 8; the historical area is 10 (which seems close) (or maybe a few thousand years ago, they were an 8, too). That means that the seasons are probably similar. (And I don’t think I am worshipping my deities because I live where I do; rather, I think my deities probably had me incarnate here.)

  124. Ron M,

    Many thanks for the recommendation. I read Peter Berresford Ellis’ The Druids, and got a lot out of it. I will look into his Celtic Mythology book!

  125. I was just reading about Yeats and his involvement in the Golden Dawn in Ch. 7 of Living Magic, by Frater U∴D∴. I came to this book because of a comment you made about Ioan Culianu’s magical practice, which eventually led me to a blog posting by Frater Acher on Culianu, whose other blog postings led me to this book (among others) by Frater U∴D∴, which I saw you had some positive things to say about. I mention this only to say that this blog does engender productive research threads. Ch. 7, which is short, also has an interesting tidbit about Rudolf Steiner, which is enough to put some of his work into historical perspective. Frater Acher also led me to Wouter J. Hanegraaff, Hermetic Spirituality and the Historical Imagination (Cambridge University Press, 2022), which is a study of Gnostic spirituality from a sympathetic perspective. This makes it interesting to see mentioned “Jessie Weston’s theory that the Grail legends are lightly garbled accounts of a Gnostic ceremony of initiation”, since the Grail legends are part of the cultural knowledge of some of us.

  126. Phutatorius, it’s when the gyres show up that things get crunchy, I know. That’s where a detailed commentary ought to help.

    Guillem, that’s an interesting hypothesis. I tend to think that the descent into dry stickhood was part of the natural cycle, and the summoning of the deep energies of the land was an attempt to hold back the process for a little while, but it bears thinking about.

    D., it’s a very old trick. There haven’t been many new tricks for a long time.

    Kerry, hmm! Interesting.

    Chris, heh heh heh. Yes, and we’ll be talking about that in a week or so.

    Denis, many thanks for this.

    Tidlösa, hmm! Interesting. I’ve linked to it.

    Bei, er, were you under the impression that the Church of Ireland isn’t Irish?

    Asdf, glad to hear it.

  127. @Cliff #86
    Thank you for the humor about the reading list. I recently came across the idea of treating your to-do list like a river, not a bucket. I see this as learning to surf the wave, with otter taps for course adjustments. This post may have turned the river of reading lists into a flood. And, having been a long-time reader from the Archdruid Report (ADR) days, gleaning wonderful suggestions from the diverse commentariat, my lists have always been eternally optimistic. Pages and pages of “Books, Poems, and Essays to Read.”

  128. JMG (no. 137) “Bei, er, were you under the impression that the Church of Ireland isn’t Irish?”

    It may be Irish, but it hardly counts as a religion!

    But seriously, I understand that he wasn’t very interested in it. And while Protestants figured prominently among early Irish nationalists, the movement became more and more Catholic over time, to the point where Catholic family law (divorce) became a nationalist cause.

  129. I think both things may be true. No doubt, peoples and nations get old and lose vitality over time, or as you pointed out years ago, at least civilized peoples do.

    I was thinking along the lines of the 5th line of the 28th hexagram of the iching, where an old tree blossoms, exhausting his energies and accelerating his end.

  130. Chris at Fernglade Farm #129, I’ve got the Osprey book on U-boat bases and their toughness was amazing. There’s a recon photo where the entire rest of the shipyard is like a ploughed field, and the U-boat pen doesn’t even have a scratch. I don’t think they were ever penetrated even by Grand Slams. The shockwave could kill people inside, but they never actually got through the roof. The best successes they had was bombing the bay in front of the pens and sending huge waves in, if the gates were open. In one case that lifted a mini-sub out of the water and slammed it against the wall. 🙂

    But I was really thinking of the post-war era. Even with the sites under complete control, most are still in use because nobody knows how to pull them down. It’s the same with the Berlin flak towers. I’m not sure how much this is exaggeration, but I remember someone saying you could let off a nuclear bomb inside some of those fortifications and they’d still be standing. Supposedly the Russians welded together a metal sphere strong enough to contain nuclear explosions, so it might be possible.

    There’s a book called Oil and War by Robert Goralski and Russell Freeburg that’s an agonising chronicle of what fuel shortages are actually like. It includes Luftwaffe ground crews using teams of oxen to tow Me262s onto the runway, because there wasn’t any fuel for the motorcycle half-track that would normally do it. 🙂

  131. @JMG

    Thank you for your reply. I didn’t know about Sri Yogendra and Swami Kuvalayananda, so thanks a lot for the heads-up.

    Also, regarding how occultism has been scrubbed from the officially approved historical accounts in the West, here’s a lesser-known vignette of Indian history that discusses occultism in an episode of the history of the Maratha Empire (which was the de facto ruler of most of India save the Sikh territory in the 18th century, before the Brits took over India by defeating the Marathas and the Sikhs):

    While officially approved histories of India do not explicitly take into account the role of occultists, history books written in vernacular languages do occasionally discuss episodes pertaining to occultism. The above episode is an example of the same.

  132. One thing I have never understood about the Irish faerie lore is that in the accounts of visits to them, “the glamor wears off” or the person “sees the truth” and we get a thin, ragged, scruffy faerie family living in a pile of leaves. The leaves I understand, but the rags and destitution?

  133. @samurai_47
    It seems I am on a wild goose chase now looking for specific passages I think I remember from viewing these texts some years ago. I would correct my earlier post and note that I am referring more to descriptions of the character of the warriors, not necessarily always the names themselves.
    I have Kinsella’s translated compilation; The Táin. Chapter XIII ‘companies advance’ contains descriptions of mustering Ulster warriors. It is Fergus’s descriptions of them I find interesting. Though there are half a dozen translations of this tale that all differ depending on author and original translation used.

    It might be you are interested in the full Book of Leinster of well, which in part includes the cattle raid story. It also includes many other gems however along the same strain we were discussing earlier.
    Although some do not enjoy reading on the internet, here it is for public viewing;

    To point you to an even more colorful portrayal of warrior processions within link above;
    Vol 5 – 1171 – The Intoxication of the Ulstermen – Mesca Ulad

    I find these descriptions even more fantastic. Though unfortunately I still have not found what I am looking for… I am wondering if I dreamed up some archetypal characters the night after reading passages like this below;

    ‘Outside and to the east of the fort,’ said Cromm Deróil, ‘I saw a large-eyed, broad-thighed, broad-shouldered, huge, tall man with a splendid tawny cloak about him. Seven smooth black hoods about him, each upper one shorter, each lower one longer. There were nine men on either side of him, and in his hand a dreadful iron club, one end violent, the other mild. This is his game and his feat: he lays the violent end across the heads of the nine men so that they die in an instant: then he lays the gentle end across them so that they are brought back to life in an instant.’

  134. Manuel, and All

    In one of those research plunges I take from time to time I ended up corresponding with Frater R.C a year ago after I asked JMG something related to Yeats and his work over at DW. He quotes the dissertation on the tube and reads from it (and my jaw dropped when he mentions JMG by name on that video, just after I had asked!) but I was somehow unable to find it in ProQuest. I really did try and I am supposed to be good with computers! I even contacted the university and got shoved so I shrugged, stashed the info I found on a folder and saved it for later.

    Last I heard from him, he was waiting for pandemic restrictions to get lifted and he was looking into an intensive week of initiations for the people interested and then go through a three year period of work. As far as I know, that hasn’t happened yet. He seems very capable, buuut I was turn off by one of his comments about ritual magic and entheogens and he really liking it, which to me sounds like a very bad idea that looks like a good idea while you are tripping. But I am none to judge, he has 30 times more experience than I do and I don’t seem to need much external help with psychism but seems a little reckless to me.

    (The link you provided btw, isn’t more than an index of the manuscripts) This is my prompt however, to try ProQuest again.

    An interesting related point about the wild lands of the Mexican south, regarding the energy of the land and it’s force on its people, is that in 2028, for the first time in centuries since the Conquest, the ceremony of the New Fire traditionally held every 52 years at the sacred mountain of La Estrella near Mexico City will be held again after retrieving the missing pieces through study of codexes, indigenous contact and the revival of their practices for the past two or three decades. I wonder if such a thing would have a similar effect to what Yeats had in mind.

  135. “The passionate rootedness to the land that Yeats described is a springtime thing, and Yeats — knowing that the end of the cycle was coming — had his eyes fixed on the early phases of the future spring.”

    Fascinating thought.

    This 62-year-old woman, living in the autumn of her life, in the autumnal period of her civilisation, too often wakes from springtime dreams of breastfeeding babies, and of protecting babies in hazardous situations.

    The Chinese TaiJiTu symbol attests to a small bit of summer enclosed in every winter and a small bit of spring enclosed in every autumn… We bear, and protect the seed now, that is yet to be born in some distant future…

  136. RandomActsofKarma,

    Tectonic saucer…I love it. Glad the bedrock hypothesis is stirring some correlation! I may dig into this some more and see what I can figure out.

    Patricia Mathews,

    I find the rural Alachua County accent quite pleasant. Beats the north Georgia hillbilly garble hands-down. BTW, I lived in Washington state too, for several years. Met my wife out there. Lovely country in its own way, but you’re right, one side of the Cascades or the other makes for very different climates! Spokane, where my wife grew up, is located on a serious ecotonal intersection between the Rocky Mountains to the east, the scablands to the west (Bretz’s flood damage), and the Palouse wheat region to the south. Very high energy town.


    Hmmm! I like the sound of a science of magical ecology, too! Could be a lot of fun. I might just have to get serious and dig in. I know both areas of study in my life could always use more practice…

    I doubt we’ll ever move to England, even if we could, but I like the SW too, the Welsh marches particularly. At least what I’ve seen on video. I’ve never been there.

  137. Bei, Yeats was very powerfully influenced by the Church of Ireland in his youth, though he ended up going away from it once he encountered occultism. That’s quite common — I know a lot of occultists and Pagans who grew up in one of the sacramental churches, loved the prayer and ritual, but couldn’t stand the toxic ideology and the politics.

    Guillem, hmm. Definitely something for me to think about.

    Viduraawakened, I only know about Sri Yogendra and Swami Kuvalayananda because I did a bunch of research into the early history of the transmission of hatha yoga to the West, and of course their work was impossible to ignore in that context. As for the accursed statue, yep — these things happen, and I’m not at all surprised to hear that the Aghoris were into that sort of thing. Ugh.

    Patricia, a century ago that was no mystery at all. One of the most widely held takes on the faeries back then was that they were the earlier inhabitants of the land, who retreated into isolated and desolate regions to avoid the newcomers, lived in eath-sheltered dwellings (the hollow hills of legend), and got very, very good at messing with the heads of the bigger, clumsier, and less magically gifted peoples who supplanted them. Doubtless in the later history of those communities, the survivors were thin and impoverished, and used leaves for warmth in cold weather.

    Scotlyn, Yeats wouldn’t have been a bit surprised. He noted, among other things, that the seasons in the Otherworld were the opposite of those here, so that autumn winds blow through their forests when ours are first breaking into leaf.

    Grover, I’ve had the very great pleasure of two visits to Somerset, both centered in Glastonbury but with long walks outside the town. It’s a source of amusement to me that here in Rhode Island, the stone under my feet is part of the same extraordinarily ancient landmass as Britain’s west country — in Paleozoic times, an island about the size of Madagascar, that got squeezed between two continents later on and then torn apart by continental drift. Geologists call it Avalonia…

  138. @Randomactsofkarma & Justin Patrick Moore:

    I’d like to pipe in about ecotones and watersheds from a personal perspective. Toronto, where I have spent most of my adult life, has four major watersheds. I have lived within the confines of each of them and found some distinct differences. The two watersheds in the eastern portion of the megacity (the Rouge and Highland Creek) have a calm, pristine feel. The fact that until a few decades ago these watersheds were almost entirely farmland – and are now mostly suburban – may contribute to it, but there is more to that: the feeling that I have feels very ‘deep in time’: kind of like a ‘happy hunting ground’. The watershed that dominates the centre of the city – the Don – has a similar feeling, but there is a superficial (recent-time) feeling of human coarseness. The spot where the Don meets Lake Ontario is the harbour around which the town of “Muddy York” (later, Toronto) and all its industry took root. The major watershed on the west end of town – the Humber – has an entirely different feel. That watershed gives me the willies (though its tributary, Black Creek, feels a lot better). The special thing about Humber River is that historically it was used as the ‘highway’ between Lake Ontario and Lake Huron. There was a French fort at the mouth of the Humber for several decades (before the Brits muscled them out). The horrid feeling that I get from the Humber is of terrible bloodshed. The fact that there is a gigantic abattoir within the watershed does not help; but my feeling is of much older blood: repeated battles among various Indigenous groups for dominion over this ‘highway’ over the course of many centuries. I have not yet found the ‘facts’ to back me up on this, but the part of central Ontario which Toronto belongs to was the battleground between the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois), the Hurons, the Anishinabee and the Neutrals (to the point that the Neutrals were exterminated) during early colonial times. The whole watershed has a ‘black pall’ over it and I am always relieved whenever I leave it.

  139. JMG wrote: “A Vision isn’t easy going, and it doesn’t help that it starts out with a burst of high abstraction heavily larded with quotes from the Greek Presocratic philosophers.”

    @JMG: Are you familiar with Edward Hussey’s “The Presocratics”? Is it useful as a companion volume to “A Vision”? I have to confess that both of these books have been on my bookshelf, since the 1970s, and I’ve made occasional attempts, mostly futile, to come to grips with ’em.

  140. @@JMG – Impoverished, displaced aboriginal inhabitants – oh, now that makes perfect sense! And as for Rhode Island being on the same landmass as Britain’s West Country – wow. And geologists having enough taste of the magic in it to call it Avalonia.

    I find a lot to like about north-central Florida. What Grover said about Alachua County – I’m going to consider it a magical unit in itself. That just plain feels right. Though the thought of ending my days (or this incarnation) in a revived CSA is a little daunting.

    OT: my daughter texted me today. Her dad passed last night. She said he waited until she and her sister were back home with their families to do so. (Or that he hung on until then.) “So it went as well as possible,” she said. I agree.

  141. @Grover and anyone else interested in bedrock:

    JMG’s comment about Avalonia got me interested in seeing if there was a gizmo where you can view continental drift step-by-step.

    Found this: You can type in a location and it “pins” it. Then you can type in a second location and it adds another pin. And then you can pick dates (from 0 to 750 million years ago) and see where they are in relation to each other. (Bottom right are instructions that you can use arrow keys on the keyboard, rather than have to use the drop-down at the top; that makes it easier (for me) to see the transitions.)

    And I know it probably doesn’t matter to anyone but me, but the house we are restoring has Paleocene bedrock and according to the interactive map, that was when it was on the coast. Ha! (And, from 340 mya to now, it and Greece have had very similar latitudes.) I am just tickled by this. 🙂

  142. Random question. Is it better from a reincarnation standpoint/making sense of this life in the ether etc. to die before dementia sets in and memory goes?

  143. Grover, Steve T: I don’t know if this will be helpful, but the mentions of Cumberland and local mythoi remind me of the webcomic The Adventures of Dr. McNinja, a sort of simultaneously serious and absurd freeform pastiche of elements of regional myths, global myths, contemporary mass culture imagery, and American national identity symbols, set in the author’s hometown of Cumberland.

    It’s not meant as particularly deep. One episode might see McNinja fending off a Thriller-style zombie attack caused as a side effect of Dracula tricking a cloned Ben Franklin into self-experimenting with an immortality serum ingredient that actually turned him into an unwitting Dullahan (whose compulsion to not have his head attached is sublimated into a compulsion to eat hair); another might see the White House getting turned into a giant pyramid, or McNinja getting into an abortive theological argument about his deep personal relationship with Batman, or chanting the Ghostbusters melody to focus his ki so he can combat a vengeful astronaut ghost (who coincidentally resembles the version of Death on the arcana “Singularity” from surrealist Uel Aramchek’s art project higher-octave Tarot), or saving a terminal Paul Bunyan’s disease patient by infiltrating a pharma lab to steal an experimental mustache removal ointment, or trying to escape an alternate dinosaur timeline by breaking a seal imprisoning a genetically engineered superpeacemaking dinosaur version of Abraham Lincoln, only to be tricked into activating the seal’s self-destruct sequence stopped by a laser shot from Dracula’s moon base. I mention it in case you have time to skim it and see if there was something you could use there anyway.

    One recurring feature of the plot is a network of tunnels below Cumberland, and a timeline portal hidden inside them. The tunnels had been used as a secret meeting place by the American revolutionaries, and the timeline portal was key to the main antagonist’s refugee invasion world-fusion plan.

    Regarding Florida, just the other day on Twitter an offhand doodle social map of Florida went viral:

    The artist (@edelstudio) couldn’t figure out any qualities to assign to the area around Jacksonville and St. Augustine and just labeled it “?”. A longtime resident concurred. (Someone else suggested “people who want to be astronauts”; maybe that counts as a synchronicity.)

  144. From USA Today of all places,

    “What is manifesting?

    As a verb, manifesting is “to make evident or certain by showing or displaying.” In other words, manifesting is the act or practice of bringing something into your life through belief.

    Candice Nikeia’s lessons in manifestation arrive at a place of gratitude. For her, manifesting is more than just wishing for physical items — a new car, a house, clothes — it’s acknowledging what you already have.

    “It’s really about learning how to love yourself, thinking of yourself as something that you desire to be, believing in yourself, striving for more than you can ever imagine,” Nikeia says. “Trusting that what’s out there for you is out there for you; what’s meant for you is meant for you.”

    Kathleen Cameron is a wealth manifester. For her, manifestation is all about mindset — the art of “becoming a new version of yourself that you have yet to become in order to create the life that you have yet to experience.”

    Wealth manifester? Oh good grief. Prosperity Gospel by a different name.

    Snort snicker tee-hee. At least it made me laugh. I’m glad I wasn’t drinking anything at the time.

  145. Phutatorius, I’m not familiar with that specific text, no.

    Patricia M, maybe it’s time to revive the aboriginal theory of faerie! Condolences, fwiw.

    Random, thanks for this! It’s much easier this way to watch the emergence of Avalonia from the coast of Gondwana, its long Paleozoic history as an island chain (more or less like Japan, but less curved), and then the way it got caught between two continents, squeezed, and split up once they started moving apart again.

    Quick, doesn’t matter a bit. If it’s your karma to experience dementia, you’ll experience it — in this life or another. If it’s not, take good care of your brain and keep using it, and you should be fine.

    Siliconguy, classic old-fashioned New Thought. Seeing it in USA Today — yeah, that’s quite something.

  146. Who would have thought a cold Saturday night could be so funny.

    About the FTX debacle. $5 billion went poof for sure, and this is what the Great Genius in charge had to say;

    “Mr. Bankman-Fried’s remarks suggest that FTX customer funds flowing into Alameda bank accounts could have been recorded in two places—both as FTX customer funds and as part of Alameda’s trading positions. Such double-counting would have created a huge hole in FTX’s and Alameda’s balance sheets, with assets that weren’t really there. Mr. Bankman-Fried denied that double-counting affected FTX’s financials—but acknowledged that Alameda’s liabilities might not have been fully recorded.

    There are lots of ways that one could have done this in a responsible way,” he said. “Clearly what we did was not one of them.””

    Yah think? It’s a little long for an epitaph, but it fits. (Up to and including Faustian Civilization.)

    “In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Mr. Bankman-Fried distanced himself from Alameda, saying he had stepped back from running the firm and had little insight into its workings even though he owned 90% of it.”

    Alameda was run by the upper-popping girl friend who appears to have an appointment with the underside of the bus if Bankman-Fried has anything to say about it. At least she’s keeping her mouth shut. He seems to be incapable of not digging his hole deeper.

  147. @David by the Lake,
    I’ll add your daughter to my morning prayer–tomorrow I perform my special one addressing the total muck-up the COVID pandemic has made of the world. I’ll make a special mention of your daughter at the end.

  148. (JMG, my first try didn’t seem to go through. If this is a repeat, please delete it.)

    I read through your post twice, and some parts more, to try to organize my thoughts, and I am afraid they are still not very well organized. But I’ll plunge ahead because this pertains to one broad area I have been aching to address in your recommended daily 15 minutes of free writing. So I am starting a file and will keep adding to it and distilling it. It has occurred to me that I spend much more than 15 minutes each morning composing messages to all sorts of people, so this might be a good way to break out of my writer’s block.
    Until about a year ago here on Ecosophia, I was completely unaware of the occult’s prominent role in US history. I’d had a few hints (Mormon history, Nathaniel Hawthorne and the way the Mormon Church spoke disapprovingly of the occult—as if it were a big thing), but these seemed like oddities in what for all other accounts was a time of wall-to-wall Calvinistic and Victorian prudery. The superstitions and irrationality my father so strongly disliked were linked entirely to fundamental theocratic Christianity (of which I saw plenty of examples in Utah), though he also equated them with barbaric pre-Christian rituals among people supposedly too stupid to know, for example, that the sun was coming back after the solstice regardless of their performance.
    Buddhism, which he’d fortunately adopted, provided him the ability to see the limitations of rational thought. Otherwise he’d never have tolerated my foray into Eastern spirituality. (Most importantly from his perspective, I never felt the need to persuade him of any “indisputable truths,” as I couldn’t see any truths that were indisputable. I was just enjoying life in another way that was, for me, more meaningful.)
    Your description of Yeats’ “A Vision” strongly reminded me of the origins of the Fuji Faith. The visionary founder, Hasegawa Kakugyo, had, like Yeats, “eager circles of capable mages” and “a team of gifted visionaries and occult practitioners,” drawing on a number of Eastern spiritual traditions. Unlike Yeats, he is known solely for the movement he founded. He was a Fujiwara descendent born in Kyushu in the early 1500s, at the peak of Japan’s civil warning period. His parents were so distraught at the continued strife, that as an act of filial piety, he embarked on Shugendo, seeking power from the spiritual realm to end the fighting.
    He trained near Mito, where I live now (a complete coincidence, and in fact said to have been within walking distance of the station where I am reporting the loss of insects and birds), and after completing the course, proceeded to Mt. Fuji, where he took up the ascetic practice of standing upright for 1,000 days and nights atop a wooden pillar inside a lava cave (which happens to be within walking distance of where I used to live), punctuated by cold water misogi. By standing perfectly still like the mountain within this sort of “womb” he hoped to become as one with the mountain. He thereafter traveled around the country, practicing asceticism and acquiring unique spells, mandalas and symbolic writings from the Fuji deity (Sengen Dainichi) via dreams. Some of these were found to be particularly effective at curing illnesses and were distributed the citizens of Edo during epidemics. This was one, but not the only, reason for the wild popularity the Fuji Faith achieved during the Edo period. It is debated how much of a role he actually had in bringing peace to Japan (the only solid evidence of any relationship between him and Tokugawa Ieyasu outside of legend is a record of a special tax exemption granted to the community near the cave), but as peace was one of the chief goals of the religion he founded, his followers played a clear role in the stability of that which followed.
    The Fuji followers still chant some of Kakugyo’s spells, which constitute a unique part of the sect’s liturgy. In my initial attempts to translate them, I didn’t realize these were intended as spells. They are highly evocative of Mt. Fuji in the entirety of experiencing life there, but have layer upon layer of meaning, which gets lost obviously in translation. The best I could do was put forth a novice’s impression and add copious notes. In the past, followers were encouraged to write out the entire liturgy in their own hand, and make minor changes if inspired from within as their own personal version, so the liturgy slowly evolved. The original scrolls still survive as well.
    I really ought to read Dion Fortune’s work and your posts related to it, which I lacked the time for before. It would make me better able to participate in discussions of the occult and magic here. I’ve been mostly a keen listener, but I think Kakugyo, along with other legendary leaders, provides a very powerful example of what you mean by “magic.”

  149. Wow, are you lucky or what to have that copy of Yeats’ Castle of Heroes! As it happens, I’ve been reading his Celtic Twilight, I love these kinds of texts that gives us a glimpse into the inner life of a certain folk, it’s the first book I’ve read by him, what a man.

    On the other hand, few years ago I’ve been thinking of something in similar lines, to connect and explore the secret life and teachings of my people and how that corresponds to the knowledge I’ve learned from other occult sources and how it will evolve. I believe our land (the Arabian Peninsula) holds more than it shows behind its harsh deserts and mountains. Actually, there’s a saying by the Prophet that there will come a time when “rivers will run” through this land again. The semiotics of the Arabic language are so vast and mysterious, even dare I say dangerous. Unfortunately, I only know of one person other than me who’s willing to take that seriously and they’re preoccupied already.

    A bit further from the subject, I’ve always wondered what was the true cause for the Golden Dawn conflict that lead to its disintegration? My intuition is saying that something “natural” happened in the collective consciousness of the group as some ascended in their initiations in ways that might’ve surpassed the heads of the Order, I’m not sure though as I haven’t delved deeply enough into the matter. This brought to my mind a curious yet humorous image lingering in my memory: it’s said that Crowley in the Blythe Road incident came to the scene wearing a tartan and a black cross on his chest, cursing and making shapes in the air haha. If anyone can validate this I’d really appreciate it.

    Thank you John as always.

  150. Thanks for the social map of Florida! I’ve downloaded it and emailed it to myself and to Jean in Oregon.

    Jacksonville is Florida’s biggest city, with all the usual Big City vibes.

  151. I found this map of Avalonia and I’m surprised to see that I’ve only ever lived in places that were part of it. I’ve lived in the south of the UK, but I’m also surprised to see northern Germany included, I’ve lived there for a time, too. Now I’m based in Nova Scotia, also part of the former landmass. So interesting!

    By the way, I haven’t thanked you yet for this post on Yeats, it and the ensuing discussion on the feel of landscapes is thought-provoking. Nova Scotia feels quite different depending on where you travel within the province but it has a muted feel to me, as if it didn’t have wide extremes in the land itself. Much of it has acidy, rocky soil, poor soil for farming, with some areas very rocky combined with a lot of wetland. I’ll often pick a new spot in the province to explore, and go around getting a sense of the feel of it.

    Unrelated, it struck me looking at the Great Wheel that there are similarities and differences between the Wheel of Life in the DMH. I looked in the bibliography of the DMH and saw that you included A Vision, but looking at the diagram of the Great Wheel and comparing it to the Wheel shows they have the same mandala structure but then seem to differ from there (no 28 phases in the Wheel of Life). But the gyres in opposition seem on the surface to relate to the opposed solar and telluric currents. Much to think on!

  152. JMG, do you think that artificial intelligence will be the equivalent of spiritualism in modern times? It is also something mysterious and not fully understood that seems to have powers and insights beyond mortal ken.

  153. Siliconguy & JMG – “What is manifesting?” When I read that headline, I parsed it as “What is it, now becoming obvious in the world around us, whether we’re ready or not?” It resonates with the theory of “Manifest Destiny” and (especially in this Christian season of Advent) “God, in Christ, made Manifest”, and “what rough beast, its hour come round at last, / Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?”

    There are many answers, of course. The End of Cheap Energy, for one. The numerous frauds, errors, and tragedies of the coronavirus pandemic. The illusory nature of cryptocurrency. The senility of American political leadership, and the incompetence of younger leaders elsewhere. The long-term damage done to the players of American football (mostly concussion brain damage).

    All: Feel free to add your own contributions. What do YOU see “manifesting”?

  154. Siliconguy & JMG –

    A PS to my prior post on Manifesting. It would be a bigger surprise to me to see an article in USA Today exploring my interpretation of the word, rather than the approach they actually took. A sober-eyed view of long-term, widespread predicaments? Of course not! Just focus on a few woo-woo self-promoters. (Are they selling books, or seminars?)

  155. JMG – Post-post-script. What is it, with the term “New Thought”, anyway? It was already older than almost all living persons when the New English Bible came out (1961, which makes it hardly qualified as “new”, either). And don’t get me started about the internal contradiction of “post-modernism”! 😉 (The only way that “post-modern” makes sense to me is as a reference to the unmanifest future.)

    ((On the other hand, “post-modem” can also refer to this era when we no longer rely on dial-up internet service. That’s POST-MODEM, if I have to shout to be understood. 🙂 ))

  156. @Ron M,

    I am glad to know I am not the only one who gets the willies just by being in a place. I hadn’t considered how human interaction might effect the rivers, but now that I do, you are right. Where I’m at, there’s a convergence of three rivers. The bedrock changes, too, so the rivers are filled with massive boulders. My history lessons (in public education, so take them for what they are worth) taught that ships could travel from the coast to here, but the boulders here made the rivers impassable, so the ships could go no further. (Further up the rivers, the rivers are wider and more shallow, but smaller boats could travel on them, so our city started as a place where cargo was switched from one side to the other.) The rivers have a very nice energy, but it is amazing how much the energy changes going from one side of the river to the other.

    Thanks for sharing about your ecotone. It is interesting to read about the magic of places.

  157. For those interested in ecotones, I thought you might be interested in this book: The Healthy House by Sydney and Joan Baggs, published by harper collins in 1996. The authors write from an Australian perspective, but their ideas can apply anywhere. The first part of the book is devoted to the study, on a very deep level, of the role of Sacred Geometry (at least the five Platonic solids) and the work of anthropogeographers like Ellsworth Huntington in the planing of where to live that would provide the most beneficial location. They also include mapping in overlays, the underlying soil and rock, geomagnetic effects along with EFM’s, underground water, lay lines and fault lines.

    Feng Shui is also featured prominently in this book along with other traditional building and siting traditions.

  158. Clarke #123: “Rabbit hole” is a good description. I have absolutely seen that hyper-academic tendency toward “siloing.” A fair number of archaeologists have only a cursory understanding, if that, of the mythology and legends surrounding the ancient cultures — and vice versa.

    One big issue for me is that a lot of thinking on Christianity (by supporters and detractors like) assumes there was a Pagan Europe, then the Christians came in, slaughtered all the Pagans, and suddenly there was a Christian Europe. Roman Catholicism, my ancestral tradition and field of specialization, was enormously inspired by Greco-Roman philosophy, religion, and Neoplatonism. We may have burned a sacred grove here and there — and the conversions by the sword numbers are as exaggerated as the number of purported Christian martyrs — but we also declared many pre-Christian deities and heroes to be saints and incorporated many Pagan practices into local church tradition.

    Last night before Saturday evening Mass I stood beneath a beautiful statue of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel and said a Rosary. That statue was purchased in the early 20th century by devout Italian Catholics whose ancestors said prayers beneath beautiful statues over 2,000 years ago. Critics regularly accuse Roman Catholicism of “idolatry” and “Paganism.” For me the fact that a tradition with a 2,000 year history also incorporates more ancient philosophical and theological concepts is a feature, not a bug. Tolkien said that anybody who sincerely seeks the Truth will receive a glimpse of it. There were sincere Truth-seekers long before Christ, and I cannot imagine that a just and merciful God would allow them to stumble in darkness.

    One story that I find very interesting: the last recorded Cynic philosopher, Sallustis of Emessa, was active around the end of the 5th century. About 50 years after his death we see the first Holy Fool — St. Symeon of Emessa. The earliest biography of Symeon reports that he did crazy things like “carry a dead dog around with him.” The name Cynic is an allusion to “canes,” or dog. And his behavior was in all ways identical with that of Diogenes & pals, minus the public masturbation.

    If Symeon was a Christian cynic, and it’s very hard to read his story without thinking so, a tradition which started at least a century before Alexander the Great is still alive and well today in Russia, where many yurodivnye (Holy Fools) are still active.

  159. One of the first books I read about shamanism included the Otherworld having inverted seasons. It said the residents there appreciate it if you keep your beanpoles up through the winter, so they can use them in their summer.

  160. @jubucks #164. I noticed the northern borders of Avalonia, too. Denmark is cut off, Scotland is cut off (and possibly part of the Danelaw in England) and Northern Ireland is cut off. One Scandinavian country, one country that could be, and whose eastern side has been, Scandinavian, and the part of Ireland where the Vikings has a foothold at one time, and then the Ulster Scots.

    Yet – Britain is a single island, though it’s never been a single nation except in theory; same with Ireland. English culture is heavily diluted Germanic – diluted enough to lose the “make a beeline for Ragnarok” element in their national character – Britain is England with the Celtic fringe. Ireland – as far as I can see – tends to turn everyone who settles there into “Irish in temperament, if not politically.” (My idea of the best solution is a very loose Federalism – complete Home Rule for Scotland, and Wales if they want it, but the same open borders, mail, etc as the several states in the U.S.)

    If & when the E.U. goes away, a huge chunk of the obstacle to Irish unity will go with it.

    End diversion into one person’s opinion.

    Meanwhile, Florida’s landmass is very similar to that of the Yucatan, and may even be contiguous with it, but don’t ever confuse the Seminoles with the Mayans. Totally different cultures, as far as I can see.

  161. @Kenaz Filan – Holy Fools never quite died out, and in the 13th Century, a very obvious one, beloved to this day, was canonized: Francis of Assisi.

  162. Siliconguy, no surprises there. Any time the business world goes gaga over supposed wunderkinds, this is the sort of thing they can expect.

    Patricia O, thanks for this. Yes, exactly! It wouldn’t be a mistake to translate “magic” into Japanese as “western Shugendo” — though there’s also a lot of magic, in my sense of the term, in Shingon Buddhism and in a good many other Japanese traditions, such as Onmyodo. The Japanese approach to magic involves a lot more austerity (and in particular, much more cold water) than the Western version, though I think we could seriously use more misogi shuho; based on what I know about both, however, the basic principles are much the same. In Western magical tradition, btw, magic spells shouldn’t be used in a translated form — they should be used in the original language, because the sounds themselves have effects. “Change not the barbarous names of evocation,” say the Chaldean Oracles, “for they have in the sacred rites a power ineffable.”

    Aziz, that’s fascinating, and in more ways than one. Muhammad was very likely right about those rivers; the Arabian peninsula got monsoon rains not that far in the (geological) past and will likely get them again as climate change pushes the climate bands northwards. As for the Arabian peninsula more generally, I’ve never been there, of course, but everything I’ve read makes me think there are a lot of strange things hidden away in the deserts and mountains — or maybe it’s just that H.P. Lovecraft set one of his spooky stories, “The Nameless City,” in the Arabian desert. 😉 With regards to the struggle that broke up the GD, it was in large part the result of a bad organizational structure and partly the result of inept management by Samuel Mathers, who was a very skilled occultist but not a gifted leader; you’re right, though, that some of the other members were getting very far along in their own development, and that would have put strains on a less insecure person than Mathers was. And Crowley? Yes, indeed he did; he’d been initiated into a supposed Scottish Highland tradition of magic by Mathers, and being the doofus that he was, waded into the Battle of Blythe Road wearing full Highland kit and generally acting like a buffoon.

    Jbucks, fascinating. If you’ve noticed similarities between Yeats’s wheel and mine, er, they aren’t accidental; I’ve been studying A Vision for well over thirty years now, since I first found a copy in a used book store in Seattle.

    Martin, I think of artificial intelligence as being rather more like the quest for perpetual motion — lots of people have lots of gimmicks that supposedly work, but none of them ever actually does what it’s supposed to do.

    Lathechuck, it’s a standard marketing gimmick to claim that something is brand new, especially when it isn’t. (“New and Improved,” anyone?) New Thought is a brand name.

    Kay, many thanks for this.

    Yorkshire, hmm! Interesting.

  163. Martin Back #165: the thing with artificial intelligence is that it works by identifying patterns in the training data fed into it. So it cannot come up with anything that is not related to that training data in some way. This is why if you feed a piece of Latin that is similar to a well-known text that has been translated in the past into Google translate, it will usually provide a fairly good translation. But if you feed in something quite unique (or something in a language for which it does not have much training data) it can give you rubbish as it has no concept of the semantics. The dirty secret of machine translation is that it is dependent on having been trained on existing translations by skilled human translators. (Just as the image AIs which are all the rage right now are dependent on having been fed art created by humans and photos taken by humans which have been tagged by humans for their content.)

  164. JMG (no. 175) ” …H.P. Lovecraft set one of his spooky stories, “The Nameless City,” in the Arabian desert.”

    Preceded by Istakar from “Vathek” (Wm Beckford). If memory serves, part of it was even set in the Empty Quarter, where Abd al-Hazrat went mad.

  165. Hi John Michael,

    Yes, it’s intriguing isn’t it? 🙂 For a minute there I thought you might want to be writing about the Messerschmitt Me 262 relative to say, I dunno an F-35, but yeah… 🙂 There are some interesting parallels to be drawn between the two.

    It’s funny but history does get re-written to stomp out the uncomfortable bits. I’m reading a book written in 1966 and set in California. The book is: “The Fox Valley Murders”, penned by Jack Vance. It’s a good read, and one of the recurring themes of the book is how the progressives are battling the existing culture. The protagonist being one of the old timers. It interests me because the book clearly shows the progressives as a bunch of idealistic grifters out for power and mad cash. Hardly flattering, but there you go.



  166. @JMG – Do you mind giving a brief definition of “powers” as in and in relationship to “gods, spirits and powers”? In the context of this topic, I, at first, thought of it as either elemental forces or energies deep within the land but then I read your reply to Benn:

    “….nameless forces that surge through the deep places of the land. Then you need to figure out where they’re headed, and cooperate with them. They won’t be your servants, and it’s a bad idea to let them be your masters; cooperating and co-creating with them is a challenging task….”

    The quote above implies to me more than impersonal energies and some sort of consciousness on the part of the nameless forces.

    I think this post has “scratched an itch” amongst many Ecosophians. There are only a few mentions of the “secret inner life of the land” in this post but many of us are focusing on the land we find ourselves upon and our relationship and future relationships with it.

  167. Greetings John Michael.
    I woke this Monday morning with set plans for the day and then encountered this article and its comments. Three hours later I have finally managed to read it all as best as my diplopia permits me. The act of reading (and writing) is a slow, tiring, even painful process for me and yet today, instead of feeling weary and migraineous, my sensations are of elation and inspiration after reading your post and all its comments.

    Where to start?
    I came to this forum recently via, where I had probably read nearly all the hundreds of your articles going beyond the ArchDruid Report back to 2004 and the days of and

    Perhaps the reference to “ArchDruids” probably explains my reticence. I was inculcated in Roman Catholicism in a strongly Protestant dominion of The Crown (the City of London) and intimately informed in English White Supremacy by the BBC (NZ’s dominant media force).
    So I have long associated words like “occult, Druids, Maori, cult, conspiracy*, oriental, occidental, commons, commie and pagan with weirdness, black magic and malevolence. Living in the world of Missionary Irish Catholic Nuns, Priests and Archbishops in the 1950s may have compounded my sense of the weirdness of it all.

    Re mention of the Taijitu (yin~yang) symbol and Yates in the comments.
    The people of Aotearoa NZ are now the most tattooed men (human beings) on the planet. Yet less than 20 years ago tattoos were only associated with drunken sailers, prostitutes and Maori people. I swore only to wear a tattoo I would die for. In brief, I came to conclude the Taijitu symbol is the most sustainable graphic symbol ever created in known history. So now I wear a tattoo of it on my wrist where once I wore a Roman time watch now I have learned how it reminds us in profound ways of the connection of the sun above, the earth below us and the cyclic nature of all things.

    Re mention of India and Gandhi
    Read eg article
    You are correct re unknown history of Victorian period. Seems ideas got around the world pretty fast in those days, including news of the passive resistance of Maori at Parihaka against English troop deployment.
    In brief, The Crown banker-merchants of the Raj forced Indians (Bengal) to grow opium and Chinese to buy it, thereby funding the biggest off-shore army on the planet to attack Maori for their land.
    The story of Parihaka was well known in South Africa when Gandhi lived there and the reports of Maori passive resistance techniques informed both South African and Indian resistance movements. Note: Parihaka Maori were superb gardeners.
    Note re* conspiracy, which actually means sharing of the breath. The hongi (sharing of the breath in greetings) is a profound, sacred act for Maori.

    Re German Nazism. You well know the terrible geopolitics of mineral oil/gas this past century JMG. The atrocities we call WW1 andWW11 were both primarily instigated and driven by the merchant-bankers of The Crown in their obsession to own and burn mineral oil – especially after the Rothschilds et al installed Churchill as the “First Lord of the Admiralty” to convert the English Navy from coal to oil. Britain had no known reserves of mineral oil then. Churchill himself admitted the decision meant terrible, continuous warfare and holocausts thereon. See e.g. war preparations 1912

    Re English Romantic Poets
    Having failed engineering, then maths and physics, then psychology at Canterbury University NZ I somehow ended up doing a paper in the English Romantic Poets. I still am uncertain what poetry is.
    My main memory is of Professor Garret lecturing us obout Byron’s life, how he died young because of his “revolutionary” activities in Greece and, peering at us, Prof Garret proclaimed it was a warning of what happens to students who rebel. Understand in 1968 we students were at risk of being conscripted and sent to slaughter the people of Vietnam (for the mineral oil of the region). So I staged a one-man protest by walking out of the lecture room.
    Only William Blake impressed me. However I now realized the reactionary response of Romantic Poets actually enabled the English Combustion Revolution. I wish to the heavens that you had been my lecturer instead and taught us of the world of Yeats.
    Note: my father’s sername is McArthur and recently I learned one of my mother’s grandfathers (a Townsend?) came to England from Ireland. Recently I tried to learn more of my Celtic origins but the English Crown is so psychopathic that it charges for access to my ancestors’ records.

    Re the “need” for copyright.
    Give care. My conclusion is English Copyright law contains within it the seeds of the self-annihilation of humankind. That is why my endeavours are freely available and are funded by working evenings as a school cleaner this past 18 years. You may be interested in this article

    Re your statements “Every completed sequence of events in human life, A Vision argues, goes through the complete cycle of the phases… The act of reaching down into the deep levels of mythic consciousness to give strength to a nation is far more effective than rationalists dream…”

    Earlier this year I posted you a link to a series of essays I am posting on You kindly acknowledged the link. My thesis is there is a universe in every use of any word and phrase. (Shades of William Blake). Unlike academic cognitive linguists, I have developed ways of employing the principles of physics to evaluate the sustainability of a word so we can better transcend the paradox of communication. Basically it involves checking out the etymology of word(s), then checking any changed meaning against Conservation of Energy Principle and and comparing changes in behaviour over the last few millennia. The process is also summed in a couple of crude cartoons, so can be seen at a glance.

    This process forms a fascinating way of reaching into mythic consciousness. My latest essay is very relevant to your post about the importance of communing with and being sustained by the soils and waters of one’s homeland. It discusses the meaning of the words fuel, fossil, mineral, geology, energy and more. See

    PS I think I know have 5 followers on Medium after 7 essays. Smile. Thanks for all.

  168. As a follow up to my previous comment my thought after reading this is the message of this topic is that the key to working with or unlocking the secret inner life of the land is to be found in the 1st region of the astral plane – creative imagination.

    I wonder if this is why Pink Floyd’s Echoes in Pompeii (link below) resonates with me. I don’t know if they did this consciously or subconsciously or if this communicated with the genius loci of Pompeii instead. Even if they purposefully did this as a form of communication doubt it approaches the level of what Yeats and company were doing at Lough Key but think it serves as an example of communication with the land via using the 1st region of the astral plane.

  169. Augusto, thanks for this! Yes, that’s the one.

    Bei, you mean Abu al-Azrad Ja’far ibn Husayn al-Hadrami, I imagine. 😉 And of course he didn’t go mad; he just realized that the universe doesn’t make rational sense, and stopped pretending that it did!

    Chris, hmm! I didn’t know that Vance also wrote mysteries. Not especially surprising — most of the writers of the golden age of SF worked in other genres as well. I may see if I can scare that one up.

    Scotty, when I use the word “powers” in ritual, and often more generally, it’s a catchall label for everything that isn’t a god and isn’t a spirit. There are a lot of things in the spiritual side of the cosmos very difficult to classify; the land-forces are among them. Sometimes they act like impersonal energies and sometimes they act as though there’s consciousness and will in there.

    Dave, hmm. Thanks for this.

    Scotty, the better rock bands — and Pink Floyd was certainly among them — caught on to quite a few secrets of working with astral and etheric energy; it’s kind of hard to be the center of attention in a rock concert, with thousands of people pouring life force at you, and not notice what’s going on! It’s by no means impossible that they knew exactly what they were doing at Pompeii.

  170. JMG Regarding the grocery store phenomenon you noticed, I’ve noticed the same thing… more English and German heavy than Irish but still happening. I don’t live too far from you in New England… if you’re still down to grab lunch sometime I’m in.

    What I’ve noticed over the last few years is that the number of Upper Class Europeans moving here has increased significantly. Your posters on the other blog, noted Manhattan as one destination. (Who in the middle class can afford to live in manhattan?) Most of the European expats I’ve been meeting are retires….

    I haven’t pressed them about why they are coming but being fairly wealthy and retired is a common trend among them. They all say “New England is nice.” When you consider New England is very like the old world in terms of land spirit, etc. it makes sense. Also the only major war fought in New England was the American Revolution…..

    It feels kinda like the elves moving into the West to avoid diminishing. (LOTR Nerd)

    But yeah that is my read on your grocery store issue.

  171. Kerry #176, I know that AI works by pattern matching. So does our intelligence. Which is why I believe that as AI gets better, it’s going to become a bigger part of our lives. I disagree with JMG that it’s a gimmick.

    YouTube’s automatic subtitles are pretty good these days. On occasion I switch them on because I couldn’t make out what the speaker was saying. So YouTube’s speech processor is better than my brain’s in some cases. When subtitles were first introduced they were laughably bad. It shows what years of relentless progress in data acquisition and processing power can do.

    “Ah, but it doesn’t know what the words MEAN,” I hear you say.

    Hang on a mo. How do WE know what words mean?

    Take a chair. As a young child you learn to associate the word “chair” with an actual chair. Pattern matching. Later on after seeing lots of different chairs you get a rough idea of “chairness”, i.e. you can say of an unfamiliar object whether it can be classified as a chair or not, or can be used as a chair or not. You have an understanding of what the word “chair” means. How did you do it? Nobody knows. Just like nobody really knows what goes on inside an AI.

    Our current advantage over AI is that we have many more inputs, not just images and text/speech. We have feel and smell and mass and texture and emotion, which gives us a more sophisticated and multidimensional understanding of meaning. But AI could be equipped with sensors we cannot emulate — mutispectral scanners, laser contour mapping, who knows what? Ultimately there could be an AI super-intelligence as good or better than ours, but alien.

  172. Aziz: have you written your thoughts on Arabia somewhere public, or would you be willing to discuss them with a non-Arabian? I’m not Arabian, Arab, or Muslim (South American, probably still atheist) – just someone with a great interest in history and let’s say national reconstruction, who’d like to hear more about them.

  173. JMG (no. 183) “Bei, you mean Abu al-Azrad Ja’far ibn Husayn al-Hadrami, I imagine.”

    Well I’d have to check with my wife, but yours may be a more plausible reconstruction. “Abdul” (“slave of…”) should be followed by “God” (whence Abdullah) or one of His attributes (e.g. Abdulrahim, “Slave of the Merciful”), but al-Hazrat means “the Presence” and is mainly used of Shi’a imams; the combined name smacks of ghulaw or “exaggeration.” (Could the Mad Arab be a sectarian Shiite of some kind?) You have “Abu” (“father of”), which suggests “Azrad” is the son’s name. Have to look up the Hadrami nizbah, don’t know where that is. Anyway, simple religious differences might explain his reception and reputation…

  174. JMG, and commentariat, the energies of Southwestern Britain are something which I myself have experienced at the several occasions when I was there on vacation several times quite a few years ago. It has a magical quality of its own, whereas the energies of Northern Hesse, where I live, are more subtle and more down-to-earth, but still, in its own way, congenial. About other places, I can’t say as much, because I was at them only for short times. At any rate, as far as I can see, I haven’t ever been outside of the old continent of Avalonia, or only infrequently so.

  175. Scotty #182: I don’t like very much videos, like JMG uses to say, but that Pink Floyd video is very very cool!!

  176. @Scotty: Cool thoughts about Pink Floyd and their Live at Pompeii. It’s a great piece of work, for sure.

    …and with what @JMG is saying about all the life force going into them from fans in their concerts, the film of Live at Pompeii would have been different because they weren’t playing for a crowd except the film crew. In this sense they were isolated from the audience influence and could have more readily tapped into the genius loci and made it manifest through their own vibrations -and it still Echoes 😉

    On a similar note, I’d sketched out some ideas related to the rise of electro-industrial music in Vancouver, B.C. in the early eighties with Skinny Puppy and the likes of Bill Leeb and Rhys Fulber with their Front Line Assembly project (I’m much more of a Skinny Puppy fan than FLA, but the latter do have some great tracks and excellent sound design, though I like their Delerium side project much better). It seems like that music could have only been birthed at that time and that place. And I sense something of the spirits of the land that kind of emerged and spoke through the people in that subculture, giving rise to a period of creative ferment. Something very tribal emerged. And they took the blueprint of industrial music from the likes of Throbbing Gristle, Cabaret Voltaire and Nocturnal Emissions in England, and did something different with it up in Cascadia, taking it in a direction that really does to me have a feeling of the Pacific NW embedded within it.

  177. JMG, Aziz, if I may and if this does’t drift away too far from this week’s topic: When you mention more abundant rainfall in Arabia in the past, are you talking about the mid-holocene or hypsithermal, ca. 8000-4000 BCE? That would be the same time as the “green Sahara”, at a similar latitude. Last week, JMG, you hypothesized that field agriculture was triggered “along the southern border of Eurasia” by the droughts of the hypsithermal. I think in the context of Western Asia you are referring to the “Fertile Crescent” in modern Jordan, Syria, southern Turkey, Iraq and western Iran? This would mean that the rain patterns were shifted northwards in the mid-holocene: tropical monsoons reaching today’s deserts in Northern Africa and the Arabian peninsula, arid conditions reaching today’s drylands agricultural regions further to the north.

    It hit me that dry climate might be the explanation why agriculture reached Mediterranean Europe later than it did Central Europe. The path of agricultural spread throughout Europe seems to have been from modern Thrace and Bulgaria northwestward into modern Hungary, Bohemia and parts of Germany, and only then southwestward into the Italian and Iberian peninsulas.

    This recent and freely readable study looks both at climate simulations and at preserved pollen and concludes that in ~ 4000 BCE, precipitation was around 10% lower in Southern Europe than it is today (in winter and especially in summer), and large parts of southern Europe weren’t covered by woods. I wonder if rainfall would have been even lower in ~ 6000 BCE, at the height of the hypsithermal – low enough to discourage agriculture.

    Of course, all of this is immediately relevant for the climate of the coming decades.

  178. How are neoplatonism and hermeticism related? (not necessarily their origin but their practices and metaphysics).

  179. @JMG “Pholiate, Newton was an alchemist, full stop, end of sentence. ” – “it was hilarious to watch rationalists of the Carl Sagan variety instantly eject Newton from his role as Hero of Reason as a result.”

    Same thing with Giordano Bruno, and Johannes Kepler. They love their work on planetary motion and observations of the universe but NEVER whisper even a word about their astrology. That some of Newtons most famous theories where done essentially over a weekend as a side hobby says it all.

  180. With respect to artificial intelligence, I think one needs to separate marketing/hype from reality. The following is from What is Artificial Intelligence (AI)?, and IBM, if anyone, should know.

    Weak AI—also called Narrow AI or Artificial Narrow Intelligence (ANI)—is AI trained to perform specific tasks. Weak AI drives most of the AI that surrounds us today. ‘Narrow’ might be a more accurate descriptor for this type of AI as it is anything but weak; it enables some powerful applications, such as Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, IBM Watson, and autonomous vehicles.

    Strong AI is made up of Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) and Artificial Super Intelligence (ASI). Artificial General Intelligence (AGI), or general AI, is a theoretical form of AI where a machine would have an intelligence equal to humans; it would have a self-aware consciousness that has the ability to solve problems, learn, and plan for the future. Artificial Super Intelligence (ASI)—also known as superintelligence—would surpass the intelligence and ability of the human brain. While strong AI is still entirely theoretical with no practical examples in use today, AI researchers are exploring its development. In the meantime, the best examples of ASI might be from science fiction, such as HAL, the rogue computer assistant in 2001: A Space Odyssey.

  181. JMG, thank you for your cautioning me about translation of spells. (I wonder if this is what has been at the root of my writer’s block.) I should make it very clear if I go to publication that what I have produced cannot be called a translation, but is merely a beginner’s first impression of what turned out to be spells. Because what they do for me is evoke the natural environment of places in deeply isolated forest clearings or the severe environment toward the summit, not only would a person need to recite them in the original Japanese, but he or she would also need to have spent a lot of time around Mt. Fuji. In fact, the most important act of austerity required by the Fuji Faith has always been to climb Mt. Fuji. When I was accepted into the Fuji Faith, our shamaness gave me the name Shingyo Seishin, meaning “physical austerity-refinement of spirit,” because I engage in these austerities with uncommon vigor.
    In Japanese, there is the term “kotodama,” which means “the spirit of words.” To have a very nice translation worthy of the term, I thought I needed to focus not only on individual words as jewels, but also on the rhythm and flow of the words, and I even tried to enlist Quin Arbeitman as a jazz musician to help me with this, but of course that is asking way too much. What I really ought to do in the name of fostering interest in this dying tradition is work up a recording of a bunch of us reciting the liturgy and link to it in the book. A part of our ceremonies has been recorded and is available to the public at the museum near the Hitoana cave, where Kakugyo performed his austerities.
    I’ll write later about how suppression since the Meiji era, followed by neglect after the war has crushed this vibrant movement, leaving only a few scattered remnants. Our shamaness passed away in isolation in the summer of 2020, and more of our mostly elderly members have been succumbing each year since. I have tried to write down what I can about the religion while it is still within living memory, and there is a younger Japanese follower who is doing likewise and agrees it would be good to translate into English as well. Already the loss of parts of the traditions are being lamented by people who remember them, but not well enough to reconstruct them. I perform misogi, but I don’t know exactly how they used to perform it because there was no one who could tell me. So I perform Tsubaki Taisha’s version and add elements from the Fuji Faith, such as calling on Kakugyo.

  182. More on Blake and S. Foster Damon:

    I just found a bibliography of Damon’s publications, and–lo and behold–in the 1920s he even contributed a few articles on alchemy and spiritualism to The Occult Review, the most significant and widely read British journal devoted to esoteric and occult subjects. His views on alchemy seem to align with the views of Mary Ann (South) Atkinson and Ethan Allen Hitchcock, both of whom he had read. His articles provoked a long response from R. Watson Councell, a then well-known practicing physician and alchemist. (Councell was also the occult mentor of the esoteric novelist Sax Rohmer.)

  183. @Walter Mendell: I visited the similarly laid out Hopeton Earthworks just over a year ago, last December. They are no longer “there” in that the mound aspect is long gone, but the traces of it is still there, and its an almost identical design as the Newark Mound (which I have been to yet…unfortunately it is on the property of a private golf course / country club, and is only open to the public a few days a year 🙁 “golf ruins a good walk” ) .

    I have been to the Miamisburg Mound several times, which is also shown in the article. It’s pretty darn amazing place.

    Right across the Scioto river from Hopeton is the Mound City group which I also visited on that day trip ( )

    More on Hopeton here.

    The Great Hopewell Road is a road that was discovered connecting Chillicothe to Newark. It has been surmised that a lot of these sites were places of pilgrimage and that the whole Chillicothe area was a sacred center of the cultures at that time. It’s interesting that Chillicothe became the first capital of Ohio as a state of the USA. I still think it remains a spiritual capital of the area.

    On my visit there, I met a friend who had moved to North Eastern, Kentucky and we hiked up the top of a large hill at Great Seal State park after visiting the mounds. It was all kind of a pilgrimage for me. The view of the hills from the park became the great seal of Ohio, and hence its later designation as a park.

    “The famous seal depicts a sheaf of wheat representing Ohio’s agricultural strength and a bundle of seventeen arrows shows Ohio to be the 17th state to enter the Union. The mountains and rising sun signify that Ohio was one of the first states west of the Alleghenies. The Scioto River flows between Mount Logan and the cultivated fields in the foreground. The design is said to have been the cooperative inspiration of Thomas Worthington, “Father of Ohio Statehood;” Edward Tiffin, the first governor; and William Creighton, first secretary of state. After an all-night meeting at “Adena,” the magnificent estate of Worthington, they viewed the sun rising over Mt. Logan and the hills of what is now Great Seal State Park thus inspiring the scene of the Great Seal of the State of Ohio.”

    All of these kind of things and similar things that we can find in our local states and counties all have so much to offer -and we in turn to offer back to others, and the land.

  184. > Maud Gonne. I admit I don’t see the attraction.

    Well, she is a very cute lady – and has a certain romantic “type”

  185. As far as one can see, the AI business is currently, in part, a tremendous racket, in so far as they say:

    ‘Yeah, we’ll probably get to human-like AI, or even super-human, by about 2070 or later. So advanced that we can only guess what it might be like in reality. In the meantime, keep paying up and how’s my pension fund looking?’

    Interesting that some of them refer to the creation of an ‘AI God-mind’.

  186. for Aldarion:

    The Long Summer by Brian Fagan is a book you might want to read. It covers the effects of climate on the development of agriculture in that time period.

  187. @ Chris in VT: Sallustius assigned the sphere of Saturn to Ceres, the goddess of agriculture. (Saturn himself is an Intelligible God, abiding beyond the material universe.) When I work with astrological charts, I interpret the planet Saturn as potentially representing Saturn himself or Ceres, depending on context. JMG also assigns Saturn to Ced the Earth Mother in the Dolmen Arch system, and that makes perfect sense to me.

  188. It occurs to me that the regions could be more accurately characterized by incorporating the signs as well as the planets. So it might be that New England is Saturn in Capricorn, but Southeast New England is Saturn in Aquarius. The Borderers are ruled by the Mars in Cancer in Appalachia– Cancer representing the inwardness and insularity, as well as the damp hollers of the Appalachian mountains. Cancer is also the Fall of Mars, where he expresses himself in unproductive violence and interpersonal conflict. But spreading West to the plains, Mars enters Leo, the sign of the Sun and charismatic authority, and becomes the cowboy driving the Sun-God’s herds over the range.

    And a final late-in-the-day comment on this subject–

    A revival of American regionalism would produce moral clarity in our politics like nothing else would.

    Our current political system is one in which two parties represent diverse interests jockeying for control of the nation. And it’s actually totally reasonable that each would want to control the nation, because the power of the federal government is such that whoever doesn’t control it is harmed by it. But nobody is able to say that, so each side frames its quest for power in terms of a moral Crusade. Stop the Nazis! Stop the abortions! And so on.

    Hiding underneath all the moral preening is class conflict. But I think that the conflict between the regions, which are in fact separate nations, is antecedent to the class conflict. Indeed, it makes perfect sense that in a multi-national state with a multi-national economy, class itself is downstream from region, which is to say, from nation. The Massachusetts Wokester may think he hates “bigots” in Appalachia because “They’re racist.” Really, he’s aware on some level that he’s a member of the Professional Managerial Class looking down on the working class. But beneath that, he’s a citizen of Yankeedom (say), and his people have colonized Appalachia in the same way that the English colonized Ireland. The shrillness of the first level of illusion, and its equivalents on the other side, is meant to distract from the second level, the level of class conflict. But if both were swept away, we’d be left with a conflict between nations.

    This view both provides a solution to the problem– independence or autonomy for the regions– and does so without the need for the sort of zero-sum winner-take-call conflicts we see now. Moral crusades are nauseating hypocrisy; class conflict is oppression; but no one is surprised when neighboring countries go to war with one another. It’s unpleasant, but it’s part of the nature of things. Moreover, it was not necessary to destroy England or to de-legitimize English identity for Ireland to become independent. It is no more necessary to destroy New England or Yankee identity for Appalachia to become independent. It is as legitimate to be a Yankee as it is to be an Englishman. Indeed, if Yankees and others were forced to pay a fair price for Appalachian coal, Midwestern beef or Cascadian timber, it might actually strengthen Yankee identity. Self-reliance and honest opposition are both conducive to the formation of identity in any group, or individual.

  189. We are a long way from general AI and I’ve got plenty of reasons to suppose we will never get there. However, some current techniques have occasionally been able to pick up on subtle patterns that have eluded experts. I saw a recent example where a machine learning algorithm was able to distinguish between photos of male and female retinas with about 85% accuracy. Apparently it’s not clear how and no human is able to replicate this particular feat.
    In the final analysis we are going to see new applications where algorithms are capable of producing useful and economically improved results. Situations where humans show a clear advantage will remain the domain of humans.
    That said, I was a little bit sorry when the game of Go was finally conquered. I spent far too much time as a student trying to master it, and I can easily see why someone who has dedicated their life to the subject would feel like they’ve had the foundations of their world kicked away. I expect we’ll get over it in the same way that we culturally got over the fact that trains and cars go faster than athletes. A sad moment all the same.

  190. Austin, yes, you should have posted this on the journal. Still, interesting.

    Bei, thank you! I spent quite a bit of time trying to figure out a plausible Arabic name that von Junzt could have garbled into “Abdul Alhazred,” which as we both know is gibberish in Arabic. The Hadrami nisbah is from Hadhramaut, aka the southern coast of the Arabian peninsula, which has quite an array of spooky legends around it; the name Hadramaut itself is folk-etymlogized in Arabic as hadara mawt, “death has come,” which adds nicely to the ambience. Yes, the ibn Husayn part of the name is meant to suggest Shi’ite origins, though Alhazred (the medieval Latin version of his name, in my fiction) was way out past the fringes of any kind of acceptable Islam! (/geek)

    Booklover, interesting. I spent most of my life outside Avalonia but I’m glad to be here.

    Aldarion, exactly. Thank you for the study — that’s a very useful data source for predicting our future, since we seem to be returning to conditions comparable to the Hypsithermal, as you noted.

    Sam, er, I think you asked this on Magic Monday too. I answered it there.

    Michael, I like to mention to astronomers that Kepler’s work as an astrologer was just as innovative and influential as his work as an astronomer. They turn the most enticing colors.

    Asdf, that is to say, ANI exists — I wonder if anyone realizes the rude Latin pun that makes — while AGI and ASI are what happens when geeks smoke too much weed. Got it.

    Grover, it’s got its problems, but it also has its advantages…

    Walter, many thanks for this! For what it’s worth, though, most British neolithic sites are bigger than Stonehenge, too — one of the things that makes Stonehenge so fascinating is that it’s such a marvel of compactness, given the available technology of the period.

    Patricia, are you familiar with Ann Lewellyn Evans’ fine book Shinto Norito? It gives a set of prayers and the like in Japanese, Romanized transcription, and rough English translation, along with some useful discussion for context. Of course it’s imperfect, as any translation must be, but it communicates quite a bit and is much used by gaijin Shinto practitioners here in the US — I got my copy at a jinja in Washington state. Something like that, as a first sampling, might be worth creating for the Fuji Faith. Just a thought.

    Robert, hmm! Fascinating — and not completely surprising, since there was more interaction between occultism and academia in those days.

    European, “cute” is not a word I’d use for that face. She looks like a thoroughly unpleasant person.

    Steve, that works very well indeed.

  191. Even Yeats himself says of Maud Gonne in Man and the Echo “I thought my dear must her own soul destroy So did fanaticism and hate enslave it” I think thoroughly unpleasant person is putting it mildly. She inspired violence and did great harm to her country.

  192. @JMG (#207) wrote:

    “not completely surprising, since there was more interaction between occultism and academia in those days”

    Absolutely right! In addition to S. Foster Damon in English, Brown also had Prof. Curt DuCasse in Philosophy, back in the days before analytic philosophy took over the profession, and the department here. DuCasse was keenly interested, as a philosopher, in the problems posed by psychic research, the phenomena of Spiritualism, and the evidence for reincarnation. It is thanks to him that the Brown University library has wide holdings in 19th- and early 20th-century spiritualism and psychical research–from which I, too, benefited greatly back in the day. Both men joined Brown as faculty in the later 1920s, when the University was still just an educational institution, not yet a research-grant magnet.

    On DuCasse see:

    LiIkewise, on Damon:

    Curiously enough, the Brown University library also holds a manuscript grimoire in French, Les clavicules de Rabby Salomon, copied in London in 1798. It was given to the library by a certain Paul Beekman Taylor, who received his PhD from Brown in 1961 and eventually became a Professor at the University of Geneva (in Switzerland).

    So there was a time, back in the day, when at least one Ivy-League university was quite hospitable to esoteric studies.

  193. As for Maud Gonne, I could see the initial attraction, at least. She looks like a “statuesque” figure (which has always had visual appeal to me). When I was a teenager, I drooled over the Venus de Milo statues and the “Three Graces” by Canova.,_between_1813_and_1816,_%D0%9D.%D1%81%D0%BA-506.jpg

    On the other hand, I also find the expression on her face a bit off-putting. No matter if a woman looks like a super-model or a diva, I can’t get excited about her if I don’t like her.

    For me, emotional appeal and a kind, compassionate personality trumps “Greek Goddess” looks every time.

  194. PS to my most recent previous post:

    I got curious about Paul Beekman Taylor, and discovered that he has had life-long esoteric interersts himself. He knew Gurdjieff as a child, and studied with him somewhat later in life. Not only did he earn his PhD at Brown, but he taught there for a few years afterwards.



    So Brown University was quite a friendly environment for esoteric interests in the earlier 20th century, even more than I had realized until today.

  195. JMG,

    I’ve always wondered if getting ahead of global warming wasn’t just another part of collapsing ahead of the rush. Move north while it’s relatively easy. I like where we are, though, and we’re in no danger of rising tides. A rising tide of coastal Floridian refugees worries me, though. We’re already seeing it in living color actually. Our county has probably doubled in population in the 10 years we’ve lived here, and it’s mostly half-backs. (You know, NY and NJ folks who moved to south Florida, and then halfway back!)

    Thinking about NE, though, makes me wish we’d reserve the rest of the oil for chainsaws and the maintenance thereof!

    My wife really wants to visit Newport, NH. Feels a certain draw to the town.
    I’m betting you’ll see us at a Summer Solstice gathering in the next year or three.

  196. Love the discussion on applying the Castle of Heroes to America. My first thought in reading this was the Golden Section Fellowship is the framework on which a project like this could be built for any number of regions in America.

    On those regions… being born and raised in NYC, I don’t even see the boroughs themselves as regions. I would think these sorts of projects would work better on a neighborhood level (or other similarly scaled communities outside of cities.) Perhaps this is an expression of Tamanous.

  197. JMG – Thank you! I continue to be amazed at all the untold stories. Makes me wonder, what else aren’t ‘they’ telling us.

    So many great comments – lots of food for thought.

  198. JMG, yes! I have Ann Lewellyn Evans’ book right here, which I bought at the very same shrine you did. It’s been a wonderful help to me in a number of ways, including with the Fuji Faith liturgy, which includes lines from standard Shinto prayers. She did a really lovely job with her book. We visited her shrine up near Vancouver, too, but she was away. People are really motivated to excellence by these spiritual experiences.

  199. Well, if it weren’t for this conversation, I wouldn’t have realized the etymological connection between Latin anus and Latin anulus, which gives us the English anular, the Spanish anillo, the Italian anello, and so forth as well.

  200. Robert C, I ain’t arguing. If I met someone with that face I’d do everything in my power to avoid her thereafter.

    Robert M, many thanks for all these leads!

    Michael, there are Greek goddesses and then there are Greek goddesses. She looks like the kind who liked to watch humans she disliked get devoured by serpents or something.

    Grover, I’ll look forward to it. I’ve never been to New Hampshire but what I’ve read of it sounds enticing.

    Jack, the GSF has a lot of possible uses, and the book I’m currently writing in that sequence — The Earth Mysteries Handbook: A One Year Course in the Enchantment of the Land — could be seen as a contribution along those lines! As for New York and regions generally, landscapes are fractal; it’s also amusingly true that differences that seem vast to those who are right next to them are unrecognizable to those who stand a little further away. Shocking as it seems, I probably couldn’t tell somebody from Brooklyn apart from somebody from Queens.

    PatriciaT, why, everything that matters, of course!

    Patricia O, glad to hear it. Might be worth considering as a model, then.

    Asdf, hmm! That’s curious. The etymology I’d always heard for the English word “anus” was from Roman soldier’s slang — anus in Latin is “old woman.” (Think of a toothless old woman with a puckered mouth…)

  201. If we set aside the question of whether AI can be powerful, I think that if AI can be powerful and goes badly, it will probably be as a result of something one could interpret as a center failing to hold; just a different sort of center than the one Yeats was attending to in 1919.

    The first work trying to seriously grapple with a core problem of AI value alignment was, in a sense, C.S. Lewis’s “The Abolition of Man” (1943). There is a problem that one might (whether purposefully or inadvertently) apply technology to shape intelligences — in C.S. Lewis’s case, human intelligences — so that, if those intelligences were apply technology to shape further intelligences, and so on, some essential generating core of virtue and value-groundedness might be lost. Lewis called this core, for lack of a better term, the Tao.

    The arguably best intellectual community of theorists working on foundational philosophical questions of AI alignment is centered on the work of Eliezer Yudkowsky, with more recent contributions from Scott Garrabrant and John S. Wentworth. Yudkowsky independently invented something functionally relatively similar to Lewis’s criticism, which he termed the thesis of “fragility of value”. Most AI alignment theorists in research organizations one step away from Yudkowsky’s intellectual community acknowledge this thesis as a possibility. Most theorists in organizations two steps away don’t, and instead unthinkingly assume that AI techniques sufficient to produce human-equivalent or greater intellectual capabilities will necessarily also be basically sufficient to produce what we might call human-equivalent concern for the Tao. (The standard post explaining the obvious problem with this assumption is called “The Genie Knows, but Doesn’t Care”.)

    The members of Yudkowsky’s community with more of a humanities intellectual background might acknowledge Lewis’s antecedent work, but it hasn’t had much reason to come up in public discussions. Yudkowsky himself might instead emphasize that Lewis’s work is in one sense useless, because it has no avenues for being rendered into the kind of mathematics that is Saturnine enough that one could have sufficient chances to notice that one might be fooling oneself about its implications. However, he might also black-comedy-cheerfully agree that 90+% of the people working in AI don’t even understand as much about the problem as Lewis managed to understand without knowing any relevant mathematics at all, and for them “The Abolition of Man” might at least serve as the beginning of a corrective.

    There’s room here for a pun about the future that the less responsible AI labs might be yeeting us all into.

  202. I just want to pipe up before it’s Wednesday again and say this week’s essay and the commentary have been exciting and useful. This whole constellation of topics is compelling to me, and I’m busy at work on a writing project to try and contribute something to the collective imagination in this area. I didn’t catch up on these comments until tonight and won’t launch in now, but I am taking a lot of notes.

    Thanks everyone for your contributions!

  203. “there are Greek goddesses and then there are Greek goddesses. She looks like the kind who liked to watch humans she disliked get devoured by serpents or something.” 😆

    Josh Slocum, in his “Disaffected” Substack and podcasts, points out that men who have had abusive mothers (including most, if not all, gay men)tend to be “fatally attracted” to glamorous, shrewish women (such as opera divas). I wonder what Yeats’ upbringing was like?

  204. Dear John Michael Greer,

    This essay went off like a beautiful firecracker in my mind. And there, I keep seeing Bel Bulben on a cloudswept day.

  205. @JMG True, but Lewis and Short give “old woman” as the second meaning, with the “a” short. The first meaning, with the “a” long, is “a ring; hence, the fundament.

  206. JMG, I see, thanks for explaining that part about the GD, I wonder though what specifically is that Scottish Highland tradition of magic? I don’t recall reading about it. I’ll have to read that short story by HP Lovecraft, it will probably be my introduction to his work. Btw, what I also believe is meant by the Prophet’s saying about the rivers is also rather esoteric; that our nation will be revived spiritually and that might reflect outwardly. Definitely what’s going on nowadays with the crazy and greedy metropolitans is not part of that, despite their delusions that they are taking our nation into the stars haha.

    S. T. Silva, I do have a blog and I post different topics occasionally, I will probably talk more about our spiritual traditions in the near future, if you’re patient and willing to read an auto translated version of my writings I’d be more than happy, you can check it out here:

    I come from the heart of the Arabian Peninsula (KSA), our ancestral lands extend to the southern parts of the Levant. Our background is of mixed bedouin and village dwellers, our Prophet was of the latter, I do believe he received a certain type of spiritual knowledge, emphasizing on the unity and oneness of God, but there’s more to it. It’s interesting (though risky) to revaluate his teachings at these times as we move further into the Aquarian Age and its current. Don’t believe 90% of what Muslim mainstream personalities and thinkers are saying, few know that just after the Prophet’s death at his time the degeneration began. Read the sayings of Ali Ibn Abi Talib and the Twelve Imams, also the Sufi writings of Ibn Arabi, Mulla Sadra and Rumi.

Comments are closed.