Friday, February 18, 2011

The Old Sod

Anyone who is interested in seeing what the life of a dedicated magician is like could be recommended to take a look at the recent biography of William G Gray just published by Skylight Press, written up by Alan Richardson and Marcus Claridge (W.G.G.'s godson) from the old boy's unpublishable and allegedly libellous autobiography. There they will find the reason for the choice of their somewhat startling title, (which was largely chosen by W.G.G. himself), and it  may also explain the reason why, as an enquiring friend of mine put it, ritual magicians sometimes seem such rather irascible folk. I don't know that we all are, but a lot can be put down to what pioneers like W G Gray had to put up with in previous decades - his main interest in life being completely ignored and misunderstood. He was a great pioneer and creative thinker who moved things on in a very substantial way that is still little realised by those who benefit from them. He had to wait until his late fifties before he received any public recognition and I count it as one of the better achievements of my life that I first published him - with The Ladder of Lights and Magical Ritual Methods, ground breaking works on the Qabalistic Tree of Life and on practical magic - and then later with the remarkable Rollright Ritual which did much for traditional pagan ways of working. This is shortly to be reissued by Skylight Press, along with Working with Inner Light, notes which he made when I was working with him in 1965/7 that formed the basis for his early books. You can read more on the Skylight Press website or blog which are easily linked from here.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

The Holy Thorn of Glastonbury

Following the recent desecration of the Holy Thorn at Glastonbury I have been led to seek out my old records to find a working I once did - in fact the first public directed visualisation I ever performed - at Hawkwood back in the morning of Sunday 24th May 1981. After thirty years it seems that there is still something of a need for it. You are welcome to meditate upon it or use it as you will as a re-affirmation of the roots and growth and flowering of the spirit of the holy thorn. There is a blessing on all who serve.

The Spreading of the Blessing of the Holy Thorn

We commence by visualising the walls of the hall in which we sit. These soon disappear and we find ourselves standing in the countryside outside, aware of the life of nature all about us.
The figure of Merlin appears, with that of Nimue‚ as a fair girl in floral dress bedecked with wild flowers.They lead us across a field to a stream, which we cross, paddling through it, and we then turn right to follow the stream down the hill, which towards the end becomes very steep and leads into a lake.
We proceed into and under the lake aware of the fishes and underwater natural life about us, the sand and gravel under our feet. We come, as the water deepens and the light less bright, to a wall of dark green weed. This is parted by Merlin and Nimue‚ to reveal a hall of dark green, in the centre of which is a great cauldron, about which stand nine maidens. The contents of the cauldron seeth and bubble as if full of vibrant life, and the maidens give each of us a small amount of the contents of the cauldron to drink, from small shell cups.
Upon drinking these waters of inspiration we find ourselves rising upward from the cauldron toward the surface, and as we do so we are aware of lines of golden light. These, we realise, are strands of a golden net, and upon breaking the surface we see we are within the net of a crowned, purple robed Fisher King in a small boat.
We clamber into the boat and it gently takes us toward a great beautiful castle on an island. We disembark, and proceed up the broad drive, through wide entrance gates, into the great hall of the castle. There the Fisher King indicates a small door, open before us and to the right, wherein we can see a room, richly furnished, in which, upon a couch, lies a very old, bearded King. He is being fed by a maiden, from a chalice and dish with wine and a communion wafer. The maiden, dressed like a princess, rises when she sees us, and comes and indicates that we follow her through another narrow door before us. Beyond the curtained doorway we find ourselves on a spiral stair which leads a long way upward, deosil, until we come to a small chapel, hung with purple velvet with a silver altar in the East before us. Upon this is a large cup, of the same design as the smaller one held by the maiden, and over it a spear. Upon the blade of the spear great drops of blood slowly form and drop into the cup. The maiden gives each of us, as we kneel, to eat and drink of the wine and the host.
Upon our receiving this sacrament the ceiling of the chapel opens wide above us to reveal an expanse of clear blue sky in which the sun is shining. We find ourselves ascending through the sky.
After a while it seems that we are at a level where there is a crystalline surface beneath our feet upon which we can stand. At the same time we see a large boat floating, as it were, on this same crystalline surface. It has three bare masts, of red, green and white. In its prow is a knight in golden armour with a white red cross shield, who appears to be Sir Galahad. And on a bier in the centre of the vessel lies the body of a fair maiden, an empty chalice upon her breast.
We ride in the boat for some distance and then it seems as if the boat becomes two. One form of the boat remains with us aboard it, floating in the crystalline sea; the other rises higher toward the Sun. As it nears the Sun the knightly form of Sir Galahad turns into the figure of Our Lord, and the maiden rises from the bier, and turns into the figure of Our Lady. The boat itself, on which they stood, turns into a great silver dove. Above them is the great gold shining orb of the Sun.
As we watch, a figure walks out of the Sun, radiant, robed and bearded, carrying a staff. We realise this to be, as it grows nearer, Joseph of Arimathea. He approaches our ship and suddenly strikes his staff into the deck. Immediately it shoots forth branches, leaves and flowers of the hawthorn - and the masts of the ship do likewise.
We fill our arms with great bundles of may blossom and descend through the sky, aware of the form of our native land below us. As we descend, may blossom falls with us, like gentle snowflakes or confetti, and we scatter it upon the land below us, which is stretched out in time as well as space. We are particularly aware of our loved ones, and all those with whom we work and play. Then, as we near the surface of the land, we concentrate upon and home in upon the physical place from whence we had started.
We reorientate into our bodies and go forth refreshed, to mediate the forces we have contacted to the world about us.
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