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)
Macrobiotic Home RemediesI spent some of this evening reading an old book on macrobiotic home remedies by Michio Kushi -- one of the few relics I still have of my extended flirtation with the macrobiotic diet back when I was young and wet behind the ears and willing to try just about anything. It was, in several senses of the word, an educational experience; it taught me among other things that my body doesn't handle a vegan diet at all well -- I don't process vegetable protein adequately, and so I ended up with the classic vegan syndrome, pale and gaunt and catching every cold that came through, before I figured out that my body was desperately trying to tell me that I needed a cheeseburger or the close equivalent every so often to stay in good health. 

The thing is, there's actually a lot of wisdom and a lot of useful material in the macrobiotic tradition; it just got taken to unproductive extremes -- again, in several senses of the word. The notion that meat is always bad, that sugar is always bad, that this whole list of vegetables over here is bad, and so on and so forth, was neither necessary nor healthy, and let's not even talk about the pervasive tendency in a lot of macrobiotic scenes to push people toward the extreme forms of the diet, just rice and a few suitably yang vegetables and fermented soy products and tea. That's great if you're a Zen monk in a monastery, not so great if you live in the midst of a modern city and stay active in the world. 

And then there were the overblown health claims, especially the insistence that the macrobiotic diet would cure cancer. In some cases, maybe;but Aveline Kushi, one of the most respected macrobiotic teachers in the world, who'd been eating macrobiotic meals for I forget how many decades, died in 2001 of -- you guessed it -- cancer. She wasn't the only leading macrobiotic person to go that way, either. (People who promote cancer-curing diets tend to die of cancer at a rate that seems to exceed chance. Adele Davis, I'm looking at you...) 

And yet, again, there's a lot of wisdom and a lot of useful material in macrobiotics. You can treat quite a few ordinary ailments (colds, digestive upsets, etc.) with the preparations in the book I was reading, and prevent many others by adjusting what you eat to bring your body back into balance in various ways. Some of the other things that got caught up in the macrobiotic movement were invaluable -- Do-in, a system of self-massage related to acupressure, is high on my list here; it's a very effective self-healing modality. And a lot of the food tastes good. :-)

I read online just now that the Kushi Institute in Massachusetts shut down a few years ago owing umpty-thousand dollars in back property taxes. What was once a thriving movement seems to be on its last legs, the victim of its own excesses. (Too much Yang, not enough Yin, and I don't think a change of diet would have fixed that.) It's probably a good thing, since the extreme macrobiotics types were just as abrasive and self-righteousness as evangelical vegans nowadays, but I'll be sad to see a lot of good tossed out with the mistakes. 

Or maybe it's just that I'm well into middle age, and watching the dreams of my youth fade out.
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