In The Hidden Adept & the Inward Vision R.J.Stewart has produced the story (as far as it is known) of Ronald Heaver, a remarkable adept closely associated with Glastonbury and the Garden Tomb of Joseph of Arimathea in Jerusalem. A whole generation of spiritual teachers were influenced or inspired by him – including Peter and Eileen Caddy, founders of the Findhorn Community, Sir George Trevelyan founder of the Wrekin Trust, Ruth Nesfield-Cookson, latterly of Hawkwood College , David Spangler, and even, quite remarkably, William G Gray, not one to be easily impressed, but who regarded him almost with awe and remarked that he was “one of the Old Ones” .
Born in London in1900 Ronald Heaver was sent to a preparatory school at Taunton in Somerset where on half-day holidays he liked to climb a local hill from which Glastonbury Tor could be seen fifteen miles away. The distant view of the Tor held an irresistible fascination for him, although a decade was to pass before he learned about the legend of Joseph of Arimathea founding the first Christian church there. Nor could he foresee the time when he would be intimately concerned with what is known as the Garden of Joseph of Arimathea in Jerusalem.
At the age of sixteen, after one of his brothers was killed in the Battle of the Somme, he succeeded in “wangling himself” under-age into the Royal Naval Air Service, and after only three and a quarter hours of dual instruction made his first solo flight. Joining a squadron in France, his Sopwith Camel was shot down in a dog fight with the von Richthofen “flying circus” and he crashed over enemy lines. Despite being a target for machine gun fire he emerged from the wreckage unscathed apart from a badly sprained leg, although the shock to his spine was to cause bouts of paralysis in later life.
He was a prisoner of war until 1919 and then after demobilisation experienced a spiritual transformation whilst walking over Westminster Bridge – resonant with Wordsworth’s poetic lines inspired by the same location in 1802: “Earth has not anything to show more fair…” It had him exclaiming “All this is new. I have never seen life through these eyes before…” and led a few weeks later to him realising the force of the words of St Paul in the second epistle to the Corinthians: “He that is in Christ Jesus is a new creature. Old things have passed away, all things have become new.”
He was particularly struck by the principle that a spiritual experience would happen first, and necessary confirmation follow afterwards, a principle that he held to in later life with visitors to his Sanctuary of Avalon. No prior instruction was given but visitors were simply invited to sit there in silence for a short time and then debriefed on what they had experienced. A typical experience was of being in a vast interior space apparently extending to infinity in a deep silence that was a living presence in itself.
But Ronald Heaver was in for a shattering experience of a different nature, seven years after the one on Westminster Bridge. One which seemed to imply a close attachment to the group soul of the nation. On May 3rd 1926 newspapers came out with headlines about the General Strike – “Last night paralysis swept over the country!”. Coincident with this he became completely paralysed himself and was given only 48 hours to live.
However he did survive, only to be told he would never walk again, but he simply refused to accept this, in light of the Biblical assurance that those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength and “mount up with wings like eagles.” And although under orthodox medical treatment he made no progress at all, after he rejected it he progressed by his own methods to a remarkable recovery. Within two years he was driving a car to Barcelona and back to prove that he had really regained personal independence.
Nine years after his paralysis, at the age of 35, he became unexpectedly appointed to an executive position in the British Israelite movement, which led to his involvement in negotiations to preserve the site in Jerusalem discovered by General Gordon who claimed it to be the Garden of Joseph of Arimathea and thus true site of the Holy Sepulchre.
All this led to a wide sector of spiritually related activities in which Ronald Heaver became involved, central to which appears to have been a thaumaturgical talisman – traditionally associated with Glastonbury and Joseph of Arimathea – that had been in the possession of the Order of Essenes – and that Ronald Heaver was empowered to bury at the site of the Garden Tomb, where it remained for 21 years until, by a series of coincidences, returning to England in 1955. The sequence of synchronicities involved make this strange tale quite compelling, and R.J.Stewart’s book provides as much supporting testimony as is known - including Heaver’s own account.
More intriguing still is a connection with an investigation of telluric energy sources in pre-war Austria at much the same time, in which Heaver also became involved. This was a subject of clandestine interest to the great powers as clouds of war were beginning to gather, the traces of which are enmeshed in a complex web of military intelligence, alternative science, alchemy, and spiritual intention. Recently discovered coded telegrams in the Austrian national archive may yet throw some light on all this.
That there were also deep spiritual matters involved is suggested by Heaver’s initiative to set up National Days of Prayer during the 2nd World War. He really had quite extraordinary contacts in government and even royal circles. And the War was arguably a fundamental struggle against “spiritual wickedness in high places” beyond the perceptions of most human politicians and power brokers involved.
In the late 1950’s he set up house at Castle House, Keinton Mandeville, in Somerset, midway between Cadbury, a traditional site for King Arthur’s Camelot, and Glastonbury. Here, with his close associate Polly Wood, he set up a “Sanctuary of Avalon”, with the declared intention that its spiritual influence was to counter “nuclear Armageddon” – a very real threat in the Cold War at that time.
Sparsely furnished, with just an altar and a few chairs, the place held no more than ten or twelve people and was dedicated on St Michael’s Day 1960 to Silence and the Power of the Divine Name. It was said to have been constructed in silence and over the years, as no word was ever spoken therein, the spiritual power that built up was tremendous. A hint of the nature of the power that filled the Sanctuary is carved on Ronald Heaver’s gravestone in the churchyard at Keinton Mandeville: Aesch Mezareph - or the Purifying Fire. Aesch meaning “fire” and Mezareph a transformation through purification within an enclosed or sealed vessel.
The process in the sanctuary was described simply as “the means whereby people may find their spiritual path for themselves.” The discovery was made by sitting in silence there for a few minutes, which could directly inspire, empower and transform an individual, even if with little or no former spiritual or esoteric experience. A radiant power of lucid inspiring authority brought them swiftly into a clarity that could endure subtly over a long time.
R.J.Stewart avers that his own visits as a young man in his twenties substantially changed the course of his life. And that receiving what he describes as a Fire Temple initiation there in 1980, (the year of the adept’s death), he inherited, with his partner Anastacia, a spiritual partnership that was started by Ronald Heaver and Polly Wood, that mediates the powers of a new Sanctuary of Avalon via physical sanctuaries in quiet locations in Britain, America and elsewhere.
A.R.Heaver occasionally made critical remarks about what he regarded as outmoded forms of occultism and magic. In his view, a true “New Age” had no need of such redundant trappings, and he was certainly capable of powerful invocatory work on his own terms. It is thus somewhat intriguing to learn that a number of British occultists, including the contentious and redoubtable W.G.Gray, much involved with such trappings, visited him with harmonious accord.
As a former colleague and publisher of W.G.Gray myself, from whom I learned a great deal, and as one who has devoted a life time to work of a similar nature, either with my own group or in public workshops or with the Society of the Inner Light, I do not feel that the traditional magical arts are necessarily redundant, although ever capable of revision and development. One of which I think is a distinction between Kabbalah and Qabalah, the original Jewish mystical tradition and that tradition as modified by modern Gentile esotericists. There is room for both of course, and Heaver was evidently an adept at the former.
My old sparring partner over forty years, the Reverend Anthony Duncan, (1930-2003), poet, mystic and shepherd of souls, made a crucial distinction I think in differentiating between “inner planes” and “inner space”. The first the “psychic nuts and bolts” of the created world, the second the Void within the Mind of God in which the created universe is projected. In modern Qabalistic theory this is familiar as the Ain Soph Aur – the Limitless Light, which it is perfectly possible to contact without having to scramble up all the Spheres in between in a complex ladder of initiation. These few lines by Anthony Duncan, and which I think might be endorsed by Ronald Heaver, show the way forward, banal as it may seem.
The Lord, who made an ass articulate
in Holy Writ has, in these latter days
inspired my dog who, noticing my state
observed: “You seek our Lord in many ways;
you meditate for hours, breathe Yoga breath,
contort yourself in postures and awake
your inner depths to nightmare and near-death,
perform the Dhikr, and contemplate, and make
an inner Tantric sound; and go to bed
exhausted and tormented in the dark.
You make of Love such heavy work!” she said.
“With all these arrows, do you hit the mark?
Our Lord is here,” she said. “Can you not see?
Our Lord is Love, and loving. Just like me!”
The Hidden Adept & The Inward Vision – the Story of Ronald Heaver, Polly Wood and the Sanctuary of Avalon by R.J.Stewart is published by R.J.Stewart Books, 2012.