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My 2016 book The Michael Line, the Qabalah and the Tarot: Visionary Ley Pilgrimages is now available on Kindle.
From the Preface
The Michael Line, the Qabalah, and the Tarot was one of the first public presentations I gave in Glastonbury after moving here in 1995. Since then the material has increased and I have periodically returned to the subject. It was aired at one of Andrew Collin’s Questing Conferences in London. I commissioned Yuri Leitch to paint the artwork now featuring on the cover of this book as far back as 2006 to accompany my talk at Glastonbury’s first Megalithomania gathering. A short article featuring two of the landscape tarot visualisations appeared firstly in the ASH (Albion’s Sacred Heritage) journal and then Glastonbury’s Avalon magazine in the nineties. It has long been somewhere in the back of my mind that I should turn it into a book.
This is not a work of history and archaeology. That’s probably not a big surprise to most people but there might be a few who get the wrong idea of what realm of discourse I think I am involved in here. It’s not news to me that the concept of leylines has not exactly been entirely accepted by academics. I also wouldn’t dispute that the reasons for that are often valid. The story starts in the realm of psychic questing, a subject even further out on the fringe. There’s no shortage of people who start foaming at the mouth when the topic is raised, particularly the Green Stone story. For the record, I was seriously involved in Questing as part of a group led by Andrew Collins and I consider the Green Stone to be part of the greatest paranormal drama played out in Britain in the twentieth century. What matters here though is how useful that story became in stimulating some faculty in me that helped the creation of a fabulous framework for a magnificent journeying. Picking around the minutiae of the original story would miss the point here altogether.
Andrew Collins included the Lights of Knowledge story in his original version of The Seventh Sword but the publishers asked him to remove it. I had the strange experience of reading it again, twenty five years later, thanks to Andy and Michael Tazzar, who has the manuscript. My account is brief. I hope that Andy’s full version of this remarkable adventure appears in print one day. It is the fundamental inspiration for my own material. Without it, there would have been no Qabalistic tarot Michael Line journeys. The questing of the Lights of Knowledge and the later ley pilgrimages have very different flavours. Seeing them together though presents a mysterious and powerful unity, an affirmation of psychic questing and the numinosity of the sacred landscape.
Some serious adepts of the Qabalah might get annoyed about all kinds of things. The use of the Jewish mystical system by western occultists of the last century or so, primarily the Golden Dawn tradition, is consistently contentious. And the most contentious point of all is the placing of the tarot into that framework. A nineteenth century invention we are reliably informed. As to which cards are supposed to fit the various paths, well that seems to be somewhat variable as well
I have made use of the Golden Dawn tarot attributions in this work. They were accepted by Dion Fortune and, with one notable exception that will feature in the narrative, by Aleister Crowley, the two most important and influential occultists of the twentieth century. I make no arguments for anything being set in stone however. I have simply found that the material worked amazingly well in the context in which I experimented with it. It served a purpose. It served the purpose of leading me and, over the years a number of other people, on unique journeys that took in a diverse selection of ancient mystical sites across an endlessly inspiring landscape, an expansive journey that left an enduring appreciation of Britain’s extraordinary heritage and that showed how the magical traditions sit alongside poetry and history as profound creative vehicles. I certainly seek to stir poetic sensibilities though my combination of influences. The presence in the narrative of William Blake helps make that clear.
The wonderful cover painting by Yuri Leitch is an example of where artistic concerns have taken priority over magical details. In the Qabalisitc terms later explained here, the rainbow should connect the lower spheres depicting the White Horse of Uffington and Silbury Hill and pass beneath the image of Glastonbury Tor. I felt it worked better passing over all three.
Maybe we can say that the subject matter of this work is a bit psychogeographical inasmuch as it deals with the interaction of the human psyche with the landscape and makes use of some distinct mental mapping techniques to do so. Perhaps that might make some a bit more comfortable as that is a realm where we are allowed to be a bit weird and quirky.
I’ve travelled along the Michael Line in 1991,92,97,98 and 2011. I’m not going to feature any details of ’92 and ’98 here. It’s not because they weren’t great journeys. 1992 was a real biggie on a personal level. It’s simply a case of avoiding repetition. There were no innovations to the format in those years.
My friends often joked with me about how long it was taking to complete my Avalonian Aeon. In the end, it was ten and a half years. In recent times I have gone to the opposite extreme. The Glastonbury Zodiac and Earth Mysteries UFOlogy and Glastonbury Psychogeography were each created in two weeks, albeit making use of some already written material, in both cases with the aim of launching at a conference. This process has now reached probably its maximum level of crazy intensity as I have gone from ten years to ten days to create this work for Laura Daligan’s Avalon Tarot Conference. I sincerely believe it is a feast for all tarot enthusiasts and leyline pilgrims, presenting remarkable ideas in a way that will hopefully inspire many to go forth on their own journeys.
My book Atargatis is now available globally in Kindle format. It is probably my favourite work as it covers such a wide spectrum of subject material.
A wild story of complete immersion in a magical mystical lifestyle. An Astonishing East-West New Age Blend.
A Goddess Extravaganza. Atargatis, Ishtar, Astarte, Asherah, Tanit, Isis, Babalon, Inanna, Nuit, Aphrodite, Lilith, Matronit, Shekhina.
Psychic Questing. Green Stone, Sobek Neferu Re, Typhonian Thames, The Temple of the Blue Flame, St Bega: the Egyptian star, Avebury Form of the Serpent, Dream Demons, Egyptians and Phoenicians in Ancient Britain.
Magical Fictions. Twin Peaks, Robin of Sherwood, Jewel of the Seven Stars, The Sea Priestess.
Locations across Time and Space.Margate Seashell Grotto, Hierapolis, Glastonbury, Hadleigh Downs, Babylon, Shambhala, Brean Down.
Also Includes: UFOlogy, Fellowship of Isis, Tibetan Buddhism, Past Lives, Reiki, 11:11, Dolphin Channelling, Rebirthing.
Featuring: Dion Fortune, Aleister Crowley, Kenneth Grant, HP Lovecraft, Whitley Strieber, Carlos Castaneda, Andrew Collins, James Rendell Harris, Jose Arguelles, Morien O Morgan, Solara, Graham Phillips, Timothy Wyllie, Elagabalus, James Joyce, Cunning Murrell, Ozric Tentacles.
The Gurus. Osho Rajneesh, Swami Muktananda, Sai Baba, Meher Baba.
Create your own Synchronicity. Hack your destiny code.
A few of my video lectures feature material from the book .
This lecture served as the Glastonbury launch of the book.
Not all of the intense material in this lecture is in Atargatis but a lot of it is and it gives a good indication of the mood of the book.
This lecture contains some of the core material in the book.
The family stories in this video are included in an appendix.
Ten years on from its initial publication, Aleister Crowley and the Aeon of Horus is now available in Kindle format.I’m still very proud of it and feel the sections on the Babalon Working, Jung and the Seven Sermons, Leary in the Algerian desert, Loch Ness, UFOlogy, the Montauk legend, and the L Ron Hubbard appendix are pretty damn good.
There are filmed lectures of mine where I have dealt with topics featured in the book. I have posted them before over the years but I’m gathering them together again together now as part of the promotion for the new format.
This presentation from the March 2015 Glastonbury Occult Conference is by far my most watched video. The recent TV series Strange Angel has helped to increase interest in Jack Parsons.
I talked to Gordon White on Rune Soup about Parsons in 2018 on the anniversary of his death.
The October 2014 Glastonbury Occult Conference saw me discussing what I feel is one of the core subjects in my Crowley book, a comparison between The Book of the Law and Jung’s Seven Sermons to the Dead.
I tackled the Jung Crowley interface again with this blend of visuals, music, and text.
I’m very happy with the combination of material I assembled in the book on the bizarre subject of Crowley and the Loch Ness monster.
I’ve come an interesting full circle now. When I first conceived of the project that became my recently published The Occult Battle of Britain, I thought of it as a companion piece to the Crowley book (pictured above with the cover of the first edition). Inspired by Robert Anton Wilson, it would be a meta-programming Reality Tunnel experiment whereby I looked at a very similar period of time with another model, moving from the Aeon of Horus to the Age of the Archangel Michael, supposedly begun in 1879, that was so important to Rudolf Steiner. The work developed its own dynamic and I omitted the originally intended present day material but I still consider the two books as sitting together so it is great to get them both up on Kindle within a month now that the huge writing cycle they represent is completed.
During the eight and a half years that I was periodically engaged in my writing project that was recently concluded with the publication of my The Occult Battle of Britain I gave a number of public presentations where I road-tested the material. A few were filmed. My launch at the Glastonbury Occult Conference included two presentations. One was a lecture featuring material from the book. The second consisted of me discussing the wild and intense personal background to my immersion in the subject. Both of these events were filmed. I have posted two of these videos before here but I thought it would be useful to bring them together as a further promotion for the book.
Here is a video of a special Glastonbury presentation I gave on Dion Fortune’s birthday (Dec 6th) in Abbey House. It covers the broad topic of the Great War and interwar period roots of the 1940 Glastonbury visualisations. Includes Wellesley Tudor Pole, Alice Buckton, Rudolf Steiner, Angels of Mons, the 1922 Glastonbury pageant. The whole thing also serves as a teaser preview for the book I’m currently working on that should be published in February 2019.
After the basic idea for the Glastonbury William Blake Festival had been anchored, and events over a three-day-period organised, a further inspiration came to me. I conceived of a preliminary episode.
I was aware that we were working with an intriguing tension when bringing Blake and Glastonbury together. The famous hymn Jerusalem is often taken to refer to a story that the young Jesus had physically visited Glastonbury with Joseph of Arimathea. It is actually not at all certain that this is what Blake meant to convey or that he was familiar with any such notion. Despite having drawn the Arimathean at the very start of his artistic career, Blake never mentions Glastonbury. He does make copious references to many place names throughout his great prophetic works Milton and Jerusalem but Glastonbury is not amongst them. The linking of our second national anthem with Glastonbury seems to be in a kind of liminal zone.
We have a similar situation pertaining to the alleged grave of King Arthur. Arguments continue to rage concerning the nature of the events back in 1191 when bones attributed to him and his queen were supposedly recovered. They were later displayed in a lavish tomb the site of which is signposted in the Abbey grounds and serves a daily focus for many visitors, some of whom leave simple floral offerings behind.
Blake had some characteristically odd things to say about Arthur. I thought it would be intriguing to read some of them aloud at the tomb site. I wondered if anyone had ever done such a thing before? I approached the undertaking in terms of atmosphere, of nuance, as an expression of what Dion Fortune referred to as ‘the poetry of the soul’ writing itself at Glastonbury.
I read a passage from the 1809 Descriptive Catalogue where ‘Mr B’ explained a huge painting of his called The Ancient Britons which is now tragically lost. We do at least have these words to ponder on.
‘Arthur was a name for the constellation Arcturus, or Bootes, the Keeper of the North Pole. And all the fables of Arthur and his round table; of the warlike naked Britons; of Merlin; of Arthur’s conquest of the whole world; of his death, or sleep, and promise to return again; of the Druid monuments, or temples; of the pavement of Watling Street; of London stone; of the caverns in Cornwall, Wales, Derbyshire, and Scotland; of the Giants of Ireland and Britain; of the elemental beings, called by us by the general name of Fairies; and of these three who escaped, namely, Beauty, Strength, and Ugliness, Mr. B. has in his hands poems of the highest antiquity. Adam was a Druid, and Noah; also Abraham was called to succeed the Druidical age, which began to turn allegoric and mental signification into corporeal command, whereby human sacrifice would have depopulated the earth. All these things are written in Eden. The artist is an inhabitant of that happy country, and if every thing goes on as it has begun, the world of vegetation and generation may expect to be opened again to Heaven, through Eden, as it was in the beginning.
In the mean time he has painted this Picture, which supposes that in the reign of that British Prince, who lived in the fifth century, there were remains of those naked Heroes, in the Welch Mountains; they are there now, Gray saw them in the person of his Bard on Snowdon; there they dwell in naked simplicity; happy is he who can see and converse with them above the shadows of generation and death. The giant Albion, was Patriarch of the Atlantic, he is the Atlas of the Greeks, one of those the Greeks called Titans. The stories of Arthur are the acts of Albion, applied to a Prince of the fifth century, who conquered Europe, and held the Empire of the world in the dark age, which the Romans never again recovered.
In this Picture, believing with Milton, the ancient British History, Mr. B. has done, as all the ancients did, and as all the moderns, who are worthy of fame, given the historical fact in its poetical vigour; so as it always happens, and not in that dull way that some Historians pretend, who being weakly organized themselves, cannot see either miracle or prodigy; all is to them a dull round of probabilities and possibilities; but the history of all times and places, is nothing else but improbabilities and impossibilities; what we should say, was impossible if we did not see it always before our eyes.
I paid tribute to Geoffrey Ashe, whose 1971 masterpiece Camelot and the Vision of Albion has been inspired by the same passage and was a fundamental source for my own endeavors.
I also made brief reference to Allen Ginsberg, who visited the Abbey in 1965 and proved to be a powerful influence on the Glastonbury event. I have dealt with all of this in my book William Blake and the Glastonbury Gnosis.
The performance of the Grey Monk at the Garden of Love musical evening in the Glastonbury William Blake Festival involved layers of complexity that demonstrate the extent of the mysterious and exhilarating dynamism that drove the whole event.
I knew from the moment that I started writing my book William Blake and the Glastonbury Gnosis that Allen Ginsberg would be featured due to his importance in championing Blake in the sixties and I was fairly clear about how I was going to do that. The full extent of his inspiration was something I could not have remotely anticipated.
I began writing and reading about Ginsberg on June 3rd. The next day I realised that it had been his birthday. This is the kind of sign I take as indicating that I have connected to the inner core of a writing project. Strong proof of this soon followed.
The three days of our event were determined firstly by the availability of a venue for our intended finale, a musical evening. August 10th was our Friday option. The previous week had been considered but was already booked. With this in place, the previous night was secured for my book launch lecture in the Town Hall, which in turn changed my pace of work to ensure it had been finished in time to be delivered for that date. The Wednesday was set aside for an afternoon public poetry recital around Glastonbury Market Cross.
I started to investigate videos of musical performances of Blake poetry in the hope of inspiring our musicians. Allen Ginsberg had recorded a whole album of them. I was aware that he had memorably sung a version of the Grey Monk during the legendary Democratic Party Convention protests of 1968 that had been met with what official reports later described as a ‘police riot’. When I looked into it further for the purpose of what I believed to be simply getting some details for a brief account in my book, something very striking made itself known.
The Grey Monk is a very interesting poem with the usual Blakean multiple levels of meaning. It is a consideration of tyranny. One of the most powerful of the poet’s responses to the revolutionary agitations of his time, in the USA, and particularly France, was his warnings concerning how idealism can be corrupted into tyranny. This cycle might take a long time. His feelings concerning the USA have considerable contemporary resonance in this respect. The monk himself is a personification of the victims of this idealism gone wrong.
A definite stirring of these negative aspects had been in the late sixties and Ginsberg, as a great Blake enthusiast, recognised this. His performance of the poem was perfectly timed. It has often been suggested that the behaviour of the police in Chicago that day was a prefiguration of the flavour of the imminent Nixon administration and a period of considerable darkness in American politics.
The poem also deals with the major issue of how to resist tyranny. This had been important to the counter-culture as it organised protests against the Vietnam War and attempted to find new political forms of discourse. Armed revolt against tyranny readily becomes what it has resisted. For Blake, the French Revolution was the great example.
There are slightly different versions of the poem, one included in a kind of interlude in the long multi-form Jerusalem. It was born out of one of the few real dramas in Blake’s life, the time he appeared in court after an altercation with a soldier and stood a real chance of receiving the kind of punishment that would have comprehensively ruined his life. The poem depicts a tortured pacifist who will not recant. The broader backdrop sees the recent horrors of the French Revolution as failing to accomplish their stated aims and ending up repeating the strategies of tyrants down through the ages.
The version of the poem in Jerusalem features in a kind of interlude between sections after a short essay to The Deists. ‘Those who Martyr others or who cause War are Deists, but never can be Forgivers of Sin. The Glory of Christianity is, To Conquer by Forgiveness. All the Destruction, therefore, in Christian Europe has arisen from Deism, which is Natural Religion.’ The eighteenth century rationalists, Voltaire, Rousseau, Gibbon, and Hume, are deemed responsible for the intellectual climate that could distort the revolutionary impulse into terror and repression.
“I die, I die!” the Mother said,
“My children die for lack of bread.
What more has the merciless Tyrant said?”
The Monk sat down on the stony bed.
The blood red ran from the Grey Monk’s side,
His hands and feet were wounded wide,
His body bent, his arms and knees
Like to the roots of ancient trees.
His eye was dry; no tear could flow:
A hollow groan first spoke his woe.
He trembled and shudder’d upon the bed;
At length with a feeble cry he said:
“When God commanded this hand to write
In the studious hours of deep midnight,
He told me the writing I wrote should prove
The bane of all that on Earth I lov’d.
My Brother starv’d between two walls,
His Children’s cry my soul appalls;
I mock’d at the rack and griding chain,
My bent body mocks their torturing pain.
Thy father drew his sword in the North,
With his thousands strong he marched forth;
Thy Brother has arm’d himself in steel
To avenge the wrongs thy Children feel.
But vain the Sword and vain the Bow,
They never can work War’s overthrow.
The Hermit’s prayer and the Widow’s tear
Alone can free the World from fear.
For a Tear is an intellectual thing,
And a Sigh is the sword of an Angel King,
And the bitter groan of the Martyr’s woe
Is an arrow from the Almighty’s bow.
The hand of Vengeance found the bed
To which the Purple Tyrant fled;
The iron hand crush’d the Tyrant’s head
And became a Tyrant in his stead.”
Ginsberg had clearly chosen to express his feeling of closeness to Blake in this intense situation where he himself could easily have been arrested. America was now the Empire. He left an account that told of the circumstances and the date when he got the tune in his head. He was returning from the funeral of his friend, the Beat Generation legend, Neal Cassady, who had inspired Jack Kerouac to write On the Road. It was August 10th 1968. Exactly fifty years ago to the day from our musical evening. It was immediately obvious to me that the Grey Monk simply had to be performed that night to Ginsberg’s tune. Now I had to inspire someone with the same enthusiasm I felt to actually do that.
There is a recorded version of Ginsberg’s rendition on a later album of Blake songs. I have to admit that his vocals are not always to my liking and I can only listen to so many of his Blake performances in succession before having to stop.
At the end of June I was present at an event celebrating the 70th birthday of local musician and prog-rock legend Judge Smith (a founder member of Van der Graaf Generator). I found myself chatting with another local legend, Michael Tyack, also a man with prog credentials as presiding genius of the band Circulus. I told him the Ginsburg 50th anniversary Grey Monk story and he enthusiastically affirmed that he wanted to perform it. I knew that he could make something from Ginsberg’s tune that would be worthy of the occasion.
I felt that something quite powerful and mysterious was going on and assembled some photos of Ginsberg from that period, and particularly Chicago ’68, with the intention of projecting them during the performance.
A free-floating musical combo assembled that occasionally appear in different forms as the Mystics of Avalon. Most of the musical evening featured the performers, with Grey Monk seeing them all come together with Michael Tyack to perform what he had arranged. Accompanying him were Brakeman on balalaika, guitar and vocals, Judge Smith and Tim Gallagher on percussion, and Violet on tampura and vocals.
The Grey Monk performance was the final piece of the evening. I’m very happy that our recording of it makes clear how fantastic it was. Michael Tyack’s wall of sound, created through his cosmic dulcimer, a Turkish instrument called a Saz, and ably assisted by the other musicians was, to my ear, incredible. Hearing Ginsberg’s tune set to a backdrop far better than his own version on that special anniversary night was really something.
There were profound frustrations however. The light show projections had worked fabulously all through the evening. I had supplied some imagery I had used in my book launch presentation and created a few fresh visuals as well. This had all been woven in with our projectionists stock of effects and imagery very well. Now, for reasons unknown, he was simply unable to access the black and white photos he had stored separately in his device. There was virtually no imagery projected at all. It was also later found that the camera that had filmed the whole evening had gone repeatedly out of focus throughout the performance. It did have a tendency to do this, and there are examples in other numbers and in the recording of my lecture but, in this case, it was doing it throughout the performance.
I was left with a feeling of sadness that it could have been so much better. At least we had a record of how good the musical performance had been. A memorable fancy took hold to explain the mystery of why things hadn’t quite gone a hundred percent. I recalled the story of Beach Boy Brian Wilson’s frazzled mind-state during the attempt to record the follow-up to Pet Sounds. Smile became the great lost album of the sixties.
Wilson had conceived of an Element Suite featuring sections inspired by Fire and Water etc. The Fire music was recorded in a typically eccentric manner by musicians dressed in fireman hats. A bucket was brought in containing burning wood so that everyone would be aware of the evocative smell. A few minutes of the original recording remain and it’s pretty damn strange. Recurring fire alarm noises feature throughout, set against hypnotic drumming. It can be placed alongside the Beatles Revolution 9.
A huge mythology has grown up around this episode with variant details. A nearby building caught fire the same night. Or a few fires broke out in the local area within 24 hours. Wilson freaked out and felt that his music had pyro-kinetic qualities. The tapes were placed in a vault. Extreme versions have attempts to literally destroy them by setting fire to them failing. A muted rendition did appear but it took decades for Wilson to process what had happened and the piece was finally performed live as part of his presentation of a finished version of the original Smile project in 2004.
As a full-blown Glastonbury mystic, I was willing to believe that, if our presentation of the Grey Monk had fully manifested as intended, we would have somehow helped to stir up tumultuous events that would have been dangerous, too much to handle, and might have messed up our minds for years to come.
Glastonbury has its darker side and I am well aware of it, having catalogued murders and deaths redolent with occult strangeness in a number of my books, primarily Glastonbury Psychogeography. The tropical summer of 2018 helped to up the edginess here. A group of boozers and druggies who larged it in the High St were erupting into violence on an almost daily basis. There had been a stabbing in St John’s churchyard whilst an event was occurring inside. This had happened on June 22nd, right in the middle of the solstice period and a few days before the feast day of the saint the church is dedicated to.
I wrote of the Gordon Riots in my Blake book. In the UK a Street Fighting Man vibe was in the air. I was aware that, in the USA, intense tumult was ‘just a shot away’ and in our Garden of Love event I preferred to affirm that love was ‘just a kiss away’.
We had in fact been saved to return with a larger scale Blake Glastonbury event that would morph in with the fiftieth anniversary of Woodstock on August 15th to 17th 2019. There would be no getting away from the accompanying big Manson 50 that will just precede it. We would have plenty of opportunity to become part of bigger agitations in the Body of Albion that will no doubt accompany the deepening of the Brexit process. Who knows what the state of play might be in the USA by then? We had a year to prepare ourselves. I recognise that this is not a normal way of considering how reality might function but neither was the whole conception behind the event. Whatever the case, the Grey Monk performance on that 50th anniversary night was a richly satisfying experience.
From the Glastonbury William Blake Festival, here is my book-launch presentation.
It covers my usual wide range of diverse subject matter, including including 18th century occult underground, the antiquarian vision, Gordon Riots and punk, Allen Ginsberg, Nicholas Roerich and Jose Arguelles, the Glastonbury Zodiac, and ‘Jerusalem’ as Shekhinah.