ecosophia: JMG in lecture mode (Default)
DruidsChasing down leads on the origins of the material that went into The Druid Magic Handbook and The Dolmen Arch, and finding something unexpected...

Here's a quote from Letters on Tellurism by Gioacchino de Prati, which was published in an English magazine in 1834 and 1835, and which talks at great length about the solar and telluric currents: 

"The intelligence of individuals is, in regard to the absolute divine intelligence, nothing but the organs by which and through which the great act of revelation is performed."

Here's a quote from The View Over Atlantis by John Michell, which was published in 1968, and which also talks at great length about the solar and telluric currents: 

"The instrument of all human enlightenment is an educated mind illuminated by revelation. [..] whom the great discoveries in every age are made, are always those who have prepared themselves for revelation by the cultivation of such interests as characterize the natural philosopher."

It's quite possible that Michell read de Prati -- he was ferociously erudite and knew a great many obscure byways of occultism -- but there's more going on here than the possible continuity of a tradition. 

Down through the years there's been a lot of sloppy talk about the purpose of occult training. What makes it sloppy is the rather too common assumption that there's just one purpose, and all the different systems out there are better or worse methods for reaching the same ends. Not so; different systems presuppose different goals. These days, even though quite a few of the old occult schools have gone extinct, you can find various schools with their own goals -- those in the Rudolf Steiner tradition, which focus on developing seership; those pursuing various forms of Christian mysticism, which focus on seeking union with God through love; those in the broad Golden Dawn tradition, which use the methods of ritual magic to open up contact between the lower self and the higher self; and so on. 

What de Prati and Michell are talking about is something else again: a system of training that starts with "such interests as characterize the natural philosopher" and proceed from there to develop the capacity for revelation, which in the sense these authors have in mind means intuitive insight -- "the order of art and science seen in a flash" -- guided by an awakening sense of the whole cosmos and the place of each individual phenomenon in it. 

Two reflections come to mind: 

First, I'd wondered for quite some time why the Druid Revival didn't get into operative magic until quite late in its history -- as far as I can tell, not until the implosion of the Golden Dawn in 1903 sent a lot of well-trained Hermetic magicians into the Druid scene. This may be why. The goals outlined in de Prati and Michell fit very well with the image of the Druid in 18th and 19th century culture, and it may be that a careful study of old Druid writings will show other traces of the training meant to prepare the mind for revelation. 

Second, it seems to me that the particular skill set I've sketched out here is not something that existing occult schools teach, and it's something that the world could really, seriously use right now. Educated minds illuminated by revelation could accomplish much. 

Now to figure out more about the methods...
ecosophia: JMG in lecture mode (Default)
dolmen archI field questions now and again about the origins of the material I put into my book The Druid Magic Handbook and my forthcoming two-volume set The Dolmen Arch, and they're questions I have a hard time answering in any satisfactory manner. The very short form is that after I became head of a nearly defunct Druid order in 2003, I got handed various documents, some of which had to do with the Ancient Order of Druids in America (AODA), some of which had to do with AODA sister orders such as the Order of Spiritual Alchemy and the Modern Essene Fellowship, and some of which had nothing to do with any of these but got sent to me anyway. 

It was a real gallimaufry, and one of the projects I've had in mind for a while now is getting more of it in order and in the hands of people who might be interested in it. The relaunching of the Order of Essenes correspondence course, a fine presentation of the best of the New Thought system, was part of that, and I'm delighted to report that that's been well received -- there's been a steady stream of students for the lessons, and some have already finished the first course with flying colors and qualified for the more challenging second course. 

The things that fascinated me most, though, were scraps of teaching that had to do with a system of Druid Revival philosophy and practice I'd seen referenced here and there. There's a system of correspondences that assigns things to seven symbolic Cantrefs, which I'd seen referenced but never described in a classic occult work by David Conway; there's an odd series of hints about Rosicrucian connections -- "the mistletoe on the oak is also the rose on the cross," and the like; there were portions of two lessons of an old mimeographed correspondence course, which I expanded into the Dolmen Arch course, soon to be published in book form; and running through the whole thing, there's a distinctive take on magical energies, which focuses on the interplay between the solar or cosmic current descending from the heavens and the telluric current rising from the earth. 

I'd also encountered that before, in hints and scraps. The late John Michell, who knew an extraordinary amount about occult tradition and wove any number of hints into The View Over Atlantis and his other books, talked learnedly about the two currents here and there, and explored their symbolic numbers. Some years back, my fellow archdruid Gordon Cooper succeeded in tracking down an odd series of essays from the early 19th century, "Letters on Tellurism, Commonly Called Animal Magnetism," which were written by Swiss mesmerist Gioacchino de Prati and talk about the two currents in some detail; and there are also things in Dion Fortune that suggest a knowledge of it -- when we get to the relationship between the Solar Logos and the Planetary Spirit in my monthly commentary on The Cosmic Doctrine, we'll get into that. 

Now I have another few scraps. 

For quite a few years now I've practiced a system of acupressure self-treatment called Do-In -- that's pronounced "dough-inn," and it's the Japanese version of the Chinese term Daoyin. Most of the books I have on it were published in America, and when they get into philosophy at all they mostly talk about the macrobiotic diet. There are a few books by French authors, though -- Jacques de Langre and Jean Rofidal -- that head off in their own direction. Both of them drop plenty of references to the Druids...and both of them talk at some length about the cosmic and telluric currents. 

The connection's not hard to trace. There's been a very large Druid Revival scene in France since the late 19th century at least, and it linked up in various ways with Asian and especially Japanese spiritual traditions when those reached Western Europe -- the macrobiotic teacher George Ohsawa and the controversial Breton nationalist Druid Neven Henaff even co-wrote a book on the health benefits of vitamin C, which was published in 1977. French Druid traditions adopted a version of East Asian yin-yang theory, using the Gaulish words samos and giamos ("summer" and "winter" respectively) for yang and yin. Thus de Langre and Rofidal had plenty of chances to learn a Druidized version of Do-In, and that's apparently what they did. 

So clearly whatever teaching de Prati knew in the 1830s was still known in France in the 1930s, in the US somewhere around that time (the mimeographed pages I got didn't have dates on them but I'm guessing from context), wherever John Michell got his knowledge in the 1950s and 1960s, and in French macrobiotic circles in the 1970s and 1980s. (I've also got a lead on some kind of neo-Templar tradition along the same lines, which identifies the solar and telluric currents with Sophia and Baphomet respectively, but that's a whole 'nother story.) 

Piecing things together, bit by bit...

ecosophia: JMG in lecture mode (Default)
No one expects the Spanish inquisitionI fielded a distinctly unexpected email the other day from a Wiccan I've met several times in a professional context. The topic was a book of mine; more to the point, the topic was this person's insistence that the book in question was wrong, wrong, wrong -- oh, and did I mention wrong? -- because the practices and teachings it included aren't the same as the ones that you'll find in use in your common or garden variety American eclectic Wiccan coven. 

What made this startling to me is that I never claimed anywhere that the book conformed to American eclectic Wicca. I wouldn't have imagined that anyone would expect me to do so -- after all, ahem, I'm a Druid, which is not the same thing, and a Druid in the traditions of the 18th and 19th century Druid Revival, which is emphatically not the same thing. It's not just that we keep our robes on during ritual, though of course that's true; it's also that the teachings, symbolism, practices, and philosophy taught in Druid Revival traditions differ sharply, and not just in superficial ways, from those you'll find in American eclectic Neopaganism. Thus insisting that a book by a Druid is wrong because it doesn't conform to American eclectic Wicca is roughly on a par with insisting that a book by a Buddhist is wrong because it doesn't talk about Jesus and quote the Bible. 

Two possible explanations for this odd tirade occur to me. The first is that the person in question was simply melting down about my political writings online, which of course don't support the sort of mainstream liberalism that's standard in many Neopagan circles these days, and (worse still) don't conform to the mainstream liberal stereotype of the only alternative to mainstream liberalism. (I've found that many American liberals these days react far more heatedly to, say, a moderate political stance than they do to actual fascism; I think it's because, given the increasingly shrill moral dualism that pervades American political discourse these days, the existence of any viewpoint other than the extremes causes a pretty fair case of cognitive dissonance in those who've bought into the claim that the only alternative to their own viewpoint is some suitably mustached variety of evil incarnate.)

The second is rather more troubling, at least to my mind. There's always been a certain tendency among many members of the eclectic Wiccan mainstream in the US to treat what they do as real Paganism and relegate everyone else in the Neopagan scene -- Druids, Heathens, polytheists of various kinds, and so on -- to a kind of second-class status. That's typical, and though it can be annoying, most of those of us who've been assigned that status have learned to live with it when dealing with the Neopagan community. Over the last few years, though, I've noticed a hardening of boundaries on the part of the mainstream, and the first signs of an effort to impose doctrinal and ritual uniformity on the entire scene. So far, this has usually been presented in velvet-soft forms -- "I just want to see every Pagan joining together in one big tent, all singing 'We all come from the Goddess'" and that sort of thing -- but you don't have to be a weather mage to tell which way the wind is blowing. 

So I'm wondering whether other people outside the American eclectic Wiccan mainstream have begun to field anything like the kind of diatribe I got. As Monty Python reminded us, no one expects the Spanish Inquisition...but I'm beginning to wonder whether it's time for those of us who aren't part of the mainstream to keep a weather eye out for Neopagan fundamentalism. 
ecosophia: JMG in lecture mode (Default)
Coelbren Alphabet book As mentioned earlier, the folks at Llewellyn have obligingly given me a set of discount codes for my backlist, one per month, 20% off if you order it directly from the Llewellyn website. For the month of July, the book on sale is The Coelbren Alphabet, my book on the traditional poetic, magical, and divinatory alphabet of the Welsh bards. ("Welsh runes" is a pretty good short description.) You can order a copy here; enter the discount code JMG0818 at checkout for the 20% off. 

While you're waiting for it to arrive, if you've got questions about the book, why, I'm the one to ask. ;-)
ecosophia: JMG in lecture mode (Default)
It's been a while since I last posted one of my podcasts -- I know, forgetful of me. Yesterday afternoon I spent an hour and a half or so having a great conversation with Niles Heckman of An Infinite Path; you can download it for free here.  
ecosophia: JMG in lecture mode (Default)
The Celtic Golden Dawn coverAs mentioned earlier, the folks at Llewellyn have obligingly given me a set of discount codes for my backlist, one per month, 20% off if you order it directly from the Llewellyn website. For the month of July, the book on sale is The Celtic Golden Dawn, arguably my most innovative magical textbook -- a complete system of magic that uses classic Golden Dawn technique but the gods, powers, and symbolism of the Druid Revival traditions. You can order a copy here; enter the discount code JMG0718 at checkout for the 20% off. 

While you're waiting for it to arrive, if you've got questions about the book, why, I'm the one to ask. ;-)
ecosophia: JMG in Archdruidical robes (Archdruid)
Yet another book of mine to delight the hearts of fans of the Druid Revival...

I've heard the Coelbren described as "Welsh runes," and yes, they look kind of runic. They were invented by Iolo Morganwg -- yes, I also just heard the sudden gasp from the more doctrinaire end of the Celtic Reconstructionist scene -- and used for a while by Welsh bards before the Gorsedd movement succumbed to creeping respectability. A chance discovery on my part -- a reference to a medieval Welsh grammar, the Dosparth Edeyrn Dafod Aur, translated, annotated, and published by Iolo's disciple John Williams ab Ithel in 1856 -- led me to what is apparently the only surviving source on the symbolism and meanings of the Coelbren alphabet, and the result is this book. Divination, symbolism, meditation, scrying -- yep, it's all there. You can order a copy from the publisher here.


ecosophia: JMG in lecture mode (Default)John Michael Greer

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