Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Faery Gates of Avalon

My latest book has just been published - "The Faery Gates of Avalon"

This is a mind blowing re-take on the function of the ladies of the knights of King Arthur’s Round Table.

How in the earliest Arthurian romances they were faery women acting as guides, guardians and lovers to the knightly heroes, inciting or enticing them onto quests that were in reality initiations into Faeryland.

I have taken the stories of Erec, Yvain, Lancelot, Perceval and Gawain from the Old French romances of Chrétien de Troyes - who got them in turn from Welsh and Breton story tellers steeped in Celtic myth and legend - and have high lighted the faery dynamics that have been obscured by later writers - whether pious monks or secular chivalry buffs.

What is more, “opening the faery gates” remains possible and relevant to us today, and these tales can tell how best to go about it.

For full details on how to buy this book go to the publisher’s web site www.rjstewart.net

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Keepers of the Planetary Flame

Some thirty years ago I started a project known as the Keepers of the Planetary Flame inviting any of my students or anyone else of good will to take part in a small personal ceremony each day with the interests of the planet Earth at heart. The main concern at that time was to perhaps do something to discourage our fellow human beings from launching a nuclear holocaust. This dangerous corner having been passed, it seemed, the loose informal fellowship was discontinued.

However, in the new millennium it seems that even bigger crises await us in terms of our capacity to destroy the environment. This is currently expressed in terms of avoiding climate change, yet those who are conscious of the inner side of things and our spiritual stewardship of the planet should be concerned with rather more than improving our carbon footprints.

This can be aided by meditational work, and all you need is a stone or crystal, a candle, and the good will to devote a few minutes each day to the cause. My good friend Coleston Brown has agreed to set up a site dedicated to the running of this scheme, for full details of which you have only to go to www.magicalways.com/KPF.html

I hope you will join us in this good work and that as a Keeper of the Planetary Flame many blessings may flow back to you.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

The Glastonbury Zodiac

Much seems to be happening down Glastonbury way these days, including at least a couple of my former cohorts intent on stomping round what is generally, although slightly misleadingly, called the Glastonbury Zodiac.

In 1925 Katharine Emma Maltwood, working in Chilton Priory, her strange, towered abode, looked over the landscape of Somerset, getting the feel for a map she had been commissioned to produce for a new edition of The High History of the Holy Graal. As she pondered the curious appearance of a lion in the story, she had a flash of vision and saw the figure of a great lion shaped in the hills and hollows of the countryside before her. She later associated this effigy with the ancient constellation of Leo.

Wandering the landscape and referring to topographical maps she quickly outlined other effigy figures. Among them a phoenix, a great rider and horse, a giant fish, a bull's head, a mighty hound, a sheaf-bearing goddess, a divine child, and another bird in the centre. Thus did she first discern the great star temple in the holy Vale of Avalon.

She initially announced her findings anonymously in A Guide to Glastonbury's Temple of the Stars (1929) and would spend the rest of her life refining her research. In the esoteric community, support for her work came from an assortment of figures including A E Waite, Ronald Heaver, Rene Gueneon, Oliver Reiser and Lewis Spense.

The subject was controversial from the beginning, and remains so now. Nonetheless, KEM mentions in several of her letters how the RAF used the effigy figures as landmarks for training new pilots. Later, she commissioned her own aerial photographs of the complex and in 1937 published them as a supplement to her Guide. In 1938 she moved to Canada where she carried on her work until her death in 1961, in a series of articles that included a walking tour of some of the important localities within the Enclosure.

KEM recognised in the effigies a prehistoric initiatory pattern that had later infused the tales of Merlin's Round Table, Arthur, and the Graal, and there is no doubt that she saw it as vital, not only for understanding the past, but for a new spiritual vision of the future. As my esteemed colleague R J Stewart has long been teaching, the stars and earth are closely bound up with initiatic experience. Indeed, the fundamental mystery of the Hermetic and related traditions, such as the alchemical and Rosicrucian, is concerned with the celestial powers inside the earth. These are the key to the transformation and regeneration of mortal beings and of matter itself.

To learn more about this fascinating subject you can do no better than to refer to the website of The Magical Ways Open Mysteries Directive which has just been brought to my attention, where you will also find useful information on Working with Sacred Sites, Contacting Spiritual Beings and The Magical Tree. What is more, contents may be freely quoted in whole or in part for purposes of study and teaching, both private and public, as long as due acknowledgement is given to the author. (Something which, outside of a den of thieves, should go without saying!)

All this is courtesy of a former student of mine, Coleston Brown, who has trod the Glastonbury land and followed up in the tracks of Katharine Maltwood on Vancouver Island. You can find out more on http://www.magicalways.com/

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Spirit Cord and The Sphere of Art

Two books, mercifully slim, have appeared in the last few weeks which are well worth a perusal. Both are from the pen of R J Stewart and entitled, respectively, The Spirit Cord and The Sphere of Art. What I find refreshing and important about them is that they encapsulate the essence of magical practice without most of what traditionally has been thought to be essential associated haberdashery, real estate, group membership and symbolic appurtenances. For the first you need simply a cord and for the second not even that, although paradoxically the whole world and immediate environment becomes your temple.

Stewart and I have interacted in various ways over the past thirty years and more, almost like complementary serpents on the caduceus of Hermes, with my own inspiration deriving ultimately from Dion Fortune and his from the Glastonbury adept Ronald Heaver, both of us, in our time, having passed through an instructive if turbulent magical apprenticeship under the irascible old adept W G Gray. (For an insight into whom, by the way, Alan Richardson’s biography The Old Sod from Ignotus Press is worth more than a passing glance. The somewhat ambivalent title was how William Gray chose to describe himself, and in many respects he certainly lived up to it. Nonetheless he is a key figure in the development of late 20th century occult theory and practice.)

I have recently praised another book for cutting much superfluous detritus out of magical practice, in Catherine MacCoun’s On Becoming an Alchemist but R J Stewart’s books do the necessary in a somewhat different manner. MacCoun’s approach is a chatty style that should appeal to the more general esoteric public, Stewart’s gets down to basics without feeling the need to sugar the pill.

The Spirit Cord reveals practical methods of Cord meditation, empowered vision and spiritual magic using a physical cord in a set of simple and powerful practices that range from mystical ancestral traditions through to a unique set of contemporary methods for transforming consciousness. Cords have been used in spiritual and magical practices for centuries, to bless, to bind, to curse, to liberate, knotted or plain, or strung with beads in religious practice, to say nothing of more intimate cords such as the umbilical cord by which we came into the world, the spinal cord that carries us through it, and the cord of continuity between incarnate lives. Stewart has distilled much of this lore into a handbook, with accompanying CD, on how to procure our own cord and then how to empower it as a device for sacro-magical techniques.

What struck me in particular, as one whose magical training consisted of magical temple work over many years – and training others in the same way – with the concomitant problems of organisation and financing such endeavours, was that in the Spirit Cord we have a device that can produce much the same effects without all the hassle.

Much the same can be said for the techniques described in The Sphere of Art which to my mind encapsulate much of the structures and dynamics of a full blown magical temple that can now be accessed by the lone operative – or the so-called lone operative! It should be apparent that, as Stewart affirms in his concluding remarks, the practices described should not be undertaken lightly – for there are responsibilities to accept and a need to be focussed and disciplined. However, beyond the early training stage of discipline and responsibility, the way becomes simple and clear, opening up into a regenerated state of awareness that perceives the world of nature as at one with the cosmos. This is a radically altered state, not an intellectual concept. Incidentally, the alchemical diagram on the front cover of the book illustrates it all.

It should be said that The Sphere of Art embodies the most advanced work of R J Stewart’s “Inner Temple Traditions Inner Convocation” that he has taught internationally since 1988. A further development is promised in his next book The Purifying Fire. You can find further details of all this on his web site www.rjstewart.org along with his publication of books by a variety of authors, whose numbers I hope shortly to join with my study of early Arthurian tradition The Faery Gates of Avalon but of this – more later!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Midsummer Message 2008

Magic is where you find it. Some thirty years ago, the Managing Director of a very respectable religious publishing house in England, A.R.Mowbray & Co., was looking into his shaving mirror one morning when the message came to him, out of the blue, "Why not publish a book on the history of white magic?" He cast around what few contacts he had who might have some idea about such an arcane subject and in the end was referred to me. The consequence was, and I hope he did not lose his job as a result of it, the publication of "A History of White Magic" by Gareth Knight.

It caused a few ripples at the time, a bit of fluttering amongst some readers of the Church Times, one of whom wrote in condemning the publication without going to the trouble of actually reading it, though I hope he bought a copy if only to throw it away - unless he was as socially responsible as one of Dion Fortune's readers who returned a well thumbed copy of "The Winged Bull" to the publishers for fear of corrupting the scavengers if it ended up in the trash can. Anyhow, some people liked it, it translated into French and Greek and later had an American edition under the title of "Magic and the Western Mind".

I felt it was an opportunity to present my favoured subject to the world at large, either directly, or for fellow students of the subject to present to their friends and relations as an intelligent and reasonable justification for their taking up with such an out of the way subject. Of course in the years since then, the world has become a less strait laced place, and interest in the esoteric become almost commonplace. Nonetheless what I had to say in the book retains a use and validity I feel. Thus I am happy to announce that it has now been made available again, in the form of a disc you can put into your computer, and bringing for the first time the joys of full colour illustration.

The point I have to make in the book is that the world of magic is one of high imagination, and an art and science with applications as universal as those of mathematics. Yet its unique scope, encompassing both science and religion, has caused it to be denigrated in modern times. Physical science has discarded it as superstition or a pseudo-religion. Religion has regarded it, as it once regarded science, with deep suspicion, thinking it to be an impious attempt to trespass on sacred preserves. But I consider magic to be a middle ground between science and religion, reconciling them in a technology of the imagination, which can bring about personal regeneration and spiritual fulfilment.

In a wide historical survey I show how the higher imagination has been used as an aid to the evolution of consciousness, from the ancient Mystery religions, through alchemy, Renaissance magic, the Rosicrucian manifestoes, Freemasonry and 19th century magical fraternities up to the 20th century occult revival. The message of the whole book is that we have sadly neglected the contribution that the higher imagination can make in bringing about an ecological responsibility to science and a restoration of nerve to religion. Now that we and the environment are threatened with a Faustian disaster, could a re-appraisal of the function and importance of magic be the key to our survival?

To find out, if you have not already read a copy of the book, go to http://www.ritemagic.co.uk/ to obtain a copy of the PDF file.

Review comments:
"It is quite a book. It deserves to do well and to be treated with respect and attention. As to its main theme, I know nobody better qualified to write it, and it is a grand sweep of very well digested and understood - and researched - information which is not available to my knowledge anywhere else in this kind of form." - Publisher's reader.

"As a chronicle of the evolution of consciousness and culture in Western Europe this may be compared favourably to Bronowski's 'Ascent of Man' " - Sangreal Magazine.

And may the sun continue to shine brightly on you all,
Regards, Gareth Knight

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Practical Guide to Qabalistic Symbolism update

In response to a recent query from Paul in Ireland it seems worth repeating what I wrote some time ago when I started this web-site. This concerns various comments I made in A PRACTICAL GUIDE TO QABALISTIC SYMBOLISM which many feel somewhat outdated, not to say pontifical and repressive in light of current social and moral attitudes. This is because, like any other book from human hand, it never was infallible, and almost 50 years after it was written is not unnaturally showing the effects of its age. (Like me!) For reasons of publishing economics it has not been possible to revise the text but in the latest one-volume paperback edition from Red Wheel Weiser I have been able to insert a foreword that covers some of these issues as best I may. If anyone does not have a copy of this edition but would like to read the foreword I will be happy to send it by e-mail.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Magic and the Power of the Goddess

First review of Magic and the Power of the Goddess has just come to my notice, and sums up what I had in mind for the book very well. I quote:

“Over the years, Gareth Knight has been very much an innovator and opener of new ways in the Western Mysteries. At a time when this stuff was generally reserved for secret lodge meetings and when many groups frowned upon individual thought and inner work, he was one of the first to encourage people to meet and practice magic in living rooms and public workshops. Magic and the Power of the Goddess – perhaps the best in the list of impressive titles that have flowed from Knight’s prolific pen – is very much an expression of this original, initiating spirit.

“Originally published in 1985 as The Rose Cross and the Goddess, then later substantially revised and expanded under the title Evoking the Goddess, this latest edition has a new preface by the author. In many ways the book was, and still is, ahead of its time. For it presents the Western Mystery Tradition not as an inalterable secret “system” controlled by a hierarchy of reticent adepts, but as a dynamic, living approach to sacred lore. It is a way of transformation and spiritual service.

“The book is divided into two main parts, which taken together provide a rare opportunity to work magic from beginning exercises to advanced levels of service. Indeed, the book could well be taken as a course of training in and of itself and I would certainly wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone interested in the Magical Way.

“Part One, entitled The Magic Circle Maze Dance, is a masterful résumé of magical practice. Here you will learn about treading the sacred spiral, becoming one with the earth, invoking the fourfold elemental powers, working with the cycle of time and the central flame. The section concludes with a consideration of the need to balance oneself in the Three Worlds or Realms, a vision of the Goddess and a call to respond to her. There are times in this book, particularly in the practical segments, where Knight’s literary style, already accomplished and impressive, seems overshadowed by yet a greater voice. A poetic muse of spiritual contact seems to speak with unusual power from those passages.

“Part Two deals with the application of this practical instruction to the figure of the Goddess as she appears in various traditions. Gareth Knight offers insightful analyses of the myths and legends of Andromeda, Isis, Mary, Alchemical Venus, and the Queen of Faery – each followed by a visionary practice.

“In the chapter on the Queen of Faery, Knight remarks more fully on an important theme running through the book. This is “the democratization of the Mysteries”, which he rightly links to the power of the Goddess. He mentions the current spate of books and workshops on once secret doctrines and practices as evidence of this process, and from my own experience as a teacher of magical ways, it does indeed seem as if the roles of priest and priestess are moving with equal haste away from confinement in both conventional religion and traditional mystery lodges into wider, more accessible and integrated expressions in the daily lives of spiritual people.

“The book closes with a chapter on the Initiation of the Earth, in which Knight gives visionary examples of how this new priest and priestess-hood is undertaken in the context of the Goddess and sacred sites. Effective participation in this kind of spiritual service requires, the author tells us, “breadth of vision and largeness of soul” – a phrase which aptly applied to both the work and person of Gareth Knight.”
C Y H Brown

This appears on Colestone Brown’s website www.magicalways.com which is worth a visit not least for a view of the current activity and publications of this highly active and promising former student of mine.
The book itself ISBN 978-159477235-1 is published by Destiny Books, Rochester, Vermont, 224 pages, 9 b&w illustrations, at $14.95. Further details from www.DestinyBooks.com

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Spring message 2008

Well Spring has finally sprung after what has been somewhat of a hard winter and among the first green shoots to show is publication of MAGIC AND THE POWER OF THE GODDESS on April 15th by Destiny Books, which some of you may already have met in its former incarnation as “Evoking the Goddess”. It has evolved out of a great deal of practical work of mine over the years in public workshops and private groups and on looking through it again I think it to be one of the best things I have done and so thoroughly deserving this new presentation.

The Goddess, the divine feminine, is no mere product of a trendy esoteric fashion. She has been with us from the beginning of time, and I have tried to show some of the paths of her expression over the past couple of thousand years in her many guises as maiden, mother, initiator, protector, sorceress and faery queen – along with a manual of magical and mystical, active and contemplative techniques for contacting her.

For more details of this and of their other excellent publications log on to http://www.destinybooks.com/

I regret that as I press on towards the further end of my eighth decade I am having to curtail some of my travelling about and so unfortunately will not be present at the Hawkwood or Glastonbury events that I mentioned in a previous blog. However by all accounts they will be none the worse for my absence and promise to be even more powerful and rewarding events than in the past. Meanwhile I concentrate my efforts on the written word and inner rather than outer travelling, with particular emphasis on Arthurian and Faery origins. But more of that later.

I shall also be continuing to contribute regularly to the Inner Light Journal (details http://www.innerlight.org.uk/) with whatever takes my fancy.

Blessings to all!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

On Becoming an Alchemist

"On Becoming an Alchemist - a Guide for the Modern Magician" by Catherine MacCoun has just dropped onto my door mat. I was sent this book to read in manuscript some time last year, asked to review it, and was much impressed by it.

Here is what I said:
"Catherine MacCoun is a great communicator and she knows her stuff from the inside too. This book blows a bright and refreshing breeze through the musty halls of hermetic and magical symbolism, and lays it all on the line. Highly recommended."

I see that some respected fellow authors have been similarly impressed. Thus from David Spangler (author of Blessing and Everyday Miracles):
"A true alchemist, Catherine MacCoun has transformed profound ideas into a gold standard of what a book on magic should be. Excellently written with prose that sparkles with clarity and wit, this book can serve the novice and advanced practitioner alike with equal grace and insight. She inspires with her vision, and effortlessly transforms magic into the practical living art it is meant to be - as a part of life and an expression of who we are. I highly recommend it."

And from Dr Larry Dossey (author of The Extraordinary Healing Power of Ordinary Things):
"Many discussions of alchemy are hopelessly dense and opaque; this one is full of light and life. With admirable clarity, MacCoun shows how alchemy can benefit one's life here and now. This is uncluttered, everyday wisdom; the most accessible discussion of the psychospiritual dimensions of alchemy to appear in years."

Published by Shambhala Publications, Boston and London, under their Trumpter Books imprint, (ISBN 978-1-59031-369-6), it should have excellent distribution in bookstores both sides of the Atlantic. Need I say more? Don't miss one of the best books on magic I have read in years.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Extension to web site

We have now produced an extension to my web site, giving details of the Avalon Group, which is the name of the former Gareth Knight Group, founded by me in 1973 and which is now in the capable hands of Wendy Berg. For details click here: The Avalon Group