Friday, 17 August 2018

School history teaching about Albion should start with the Mesolithic

A rare surviving photograph of some druids emerging from the ancient mist

I was reading a (somewhat jokey, but actually serious) little essay by John Michell saying that modern school history teaching was made dull and inadequate by its avoidance of the great span of years before the Romans - and recalling that there used to be a great deal of vivid information taught about the Ancient British which is now left-out.

Michell was, without naming him, clearly discussing Geoffrey of Monmouth's book about the Ancient British Kings, which for several hundred years was something all educated people would know. Geoffrey's account goes right back to the discovery of Britain by Brutus the Trojan, when the land was won from the giants or titans who inhabited it - and there is a list of King (some with detailed biographies) from this point.

But I think he was correct - and I see many good reasons why British children should be taught their history right back to the Mesolithic hunter gatherers of the post-ice age (about 12 000 years ago). Plenty of interesting stuff can be inferred about such people - not just from the (scant) archaeology and understanding of climate, flora and fauna - but by comparison with the detailed knowledge of hunter gatherers in similar situations elsewhere in the world. Presumably these Mesolithic Men were either ruled-by or preyed-upon by the resident giants...

Then comes the Neolithic - with more archaeology but also more scope for reasonable and plausible inferences about the advent of agriculture - herding, then planting; and the role of their religion with its underground tombs, hilltop temples, ceremonial paths and - in general - vast sacred landscape.

At this time Britain - at least the southern parts - was probably like Ancient Egypt - highly organised, stable, peaceful, intellectual - and, I think, literate. It is hard to imagine how else such a complex society could have been administered, and over dozens of generations. There are plenty of complex, symbolic rock markings from this era, although there is no recognised archaeological evidence for written communication, yet.

The so-called Bronze age was not distinct - but divides into an early part that was an extension of the Neolithic; and a later part that was culturally like the Iron Age. Bronze itself made Britain central to Europe - because Cornwall was one of only a couple of sources for the tin required to make it; and there were enormous copper mines in Wales that were exporting all over the place.

From the late Bronze Age (including Stonehenge) Britain was a kind of post-apocalyptic world, where the high civilisation, literacy and national peace of the Neolithic collapsed - to leave small, warring tribes. Human sacrifice was almost certainly a major feature of their religion. However, this developed into the age of the druids - who perhaps were a remnant of the Neolithic priesthood; and a time when England became famous as the centre of druidical colleges.

This was also the era when recorded history begins to overlap with myth - as Julius Caesar made the first Roman attempt to conquer the Island. And thus we join-up to the standard curriculum; not forgetting the narrative of the young Jesus visiting Somerset and Cornwall and his uncle Joseph (of Arimathea) later building the very first Christian church in the world, in Glastonbury. And the later activities of Arthur and Merlin...

The point is that the supposed facts of archaeology and science (which are changeable, anyway) are regarded only as a basis or framework for intuitive imagination; to bring the past to life for children by vivid pictures and stories of 'what it was like' to live in those very different times; when people had very different priorities and interests.

The stories need to be plausible and coherent - and they need to be linked to some vision of national purpose - if so, then such a history is 'our' history, personally relevant - and perhaps inspiring.   

History, to be valuable, must be a story; and to be memorable a story must be engaging. The imagination comes first, not as a bolt-on optional extra. As such - this kind of history could, and should, be at the centre of all education.


Thursday, 16 August 2018

You are too late - I told you so

I'm not one to say 'I told you so' - But I told you so.

Even before I was a Christian, and very actively from about 30-15 years ago I used to be active (in journalism, in professional 'politics', giving lectures etc) against all these trends for New Leftism (identity politics), Political Correctness, Bureaucracy - the politicisation of science, medicine, academic, education.

I was at that time just arguing from (what was then) 'common sense' - on the usual mainstream assumption that 'we wanted' a prosperous, comfortable, efficient, effective materialistic society; and pointing-out that that was precisely what we were incrementally destroying by the prevalent ideology. 

(This is a matter of public record, which can be inspected by anyone interested-enough; much of it is available or referenced at hedweb.com/bgcharlton ).

I was active then because I realised that then was the last time such measure might be effective - and could be undertaken without much risk of any serious adverse sanctions.

When that time was passed, when it was too late, I stopped politicking and polemicking...

Now it is too late for 'normal politics' to stand much or any chance - and the obedient drones, the dishonest and careerist, the timid and unprincipled are far more numerous and more powerful - and even more fearful and compliant.

Of course, now that it is too late; the alternative media are full of people (most of these would-be thought-leaders and culture warriors themselves cringing behind net-anonymity!) calling for active resistance Now - but now there is almost nobody able (and even fewer willing) to resist. I don't object to the handful or relatively-uncorrupted trying - it is not ruled-out as absolutely impossible; but I don't believe they will achieve anything - because now it's too late, now they are too few.

That's what being too late means.

That is why I now address individuals not groups, and why I emphasise the absolute priority and necessity for spiritual awakening - before anything good can come-about. Being too late also means that we ('the people') are now our-selves too corrupt to be able to rely on socio-political pressures to 'implement' our will: it is now our will that is corrupt.

That perverted will must be fixed - or political changes will only make things worse, but worse in a different way.

We missed the boat; we did not act when it could have been effective; we need to take that on board and act accordingly.

And, in a way, it is better that it be so - because, when our fundamental metaphysical assumptions have been so very wrong for such a long time; all the 'fixes' I used to ask for (15-30 years ago) would never have done more than delay the inevitable. The underlying errors were still in-place.

However, it is significant that we did not even try to correct the obvious problems; instead - as a society - The West embraced its own destruction some decades ago, and we are currently well en route.

But from where we are now; our assumptions will necessarily be the proper ones, and our actions will be properly motivated.


Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Sunset in the West

The philosopher Seneca who lived during the time of the Roman emperor Nero, sometimes regarded as a forerunner or type of the Antichrist, said that when the state was corrupt beyond repair and degenerate to the core, the wise man would not pointlessly battle against it but look beyond it to the greater cosmos and become a citizen of that. He would detach himself from worldly passions and remain rooted in reason, and so find his freedom in living above the messy disorder of the lower world.

An admirable point of view and almost certainly the one we should take during these distracted times.  And yet there is something in me that says we can't just turn our backs on the world. We have to continue, however fruitlessly it may seem, to point out its many and deep flaws. For if even one person is sustained and encouraged by that, it is worthwhile. If people who know the truth don't speak out against its destruction, how can those who are struggling against the corruptions of the modern world ever find support? We may be shouting into the blast of a mighty gale but to remain silent in the face of such a desecration of what is sacred and true is almost an act of complicity.

Sometimes people ask themselves how they might have behaved under the Nazis. Would we have been enthusiastic collaborators or would we merely have gone along with the regime without questioning anything too much? Most of us like to think we would have stood out against the tyranny. But that's easier said than done when practically the whole of society is pushing in one direction and goodness is defined as conforming to that direction with evil being resisting it. Because, you see, a very similar thing is happening today. That may seem absurd to many people but the fact is we are being led down ideological garden paths, indoctrinated with lies and falsehood, and most of us tamely follow the party line. In fact, we don't just follow. We believe it.

It has occurred to me that the supernatural forces behind the Nazis might not have been too unhappy when they lost that battle because they knew they could regroup and corrupt humanity using different tactics. This time they switched from a hard assault to a soft one. We were still to be made slaves but willing slaves this time for we would so react against the Nazi excesses that we would go the opposite way and throw out practically any kind of discrimination against anybody or anything. What is anybody called who fails to adopt the leftist ideology now? Why, a Nazi, of course! And that despite the fact that it is clear that most people who actually fought against the Nazis, such as my own grandfather and father, would probably be branded Nazis today for the opinions they held if these had remained what they were at the time of World War Two. Amusing, no?

When people are wrong about something, you have to ask why they are wrong. What is making them wrong? After all, truth should really be something to which our own nature responds almost automatically because it is true. What is true is right. It's that simple. But we have been gifted with free will and that means we can go wrong, go against truth. We have that choice. I would say there are two reasons for error, one centred in the mind and the other in the will. So first there is ignorance and then there is sin. Today much error is to do with the will, that is to say it derives from the rebellion initially against God and then against Nature, so first the Creator is rejected and then the creation and the natural order. This is all to do with the attempt by a created being to be its own god and create its own reality.

The rebellion against nature is one of the signs of a decadent civilisation. How does this manifest in our present age? Firstly, in the toppling of traditional hierarchies, those based on the natural order. Now these hierarchies can certainly be abused and become tyrannical but that does not alter the fact that they are based in reality. A thing cannot be defined by its corruption. So they might need to be reformed but they should not be overturned.

The rebellion against nature follows on from the rebellion against God, the creator of nature. This is shown nowadays in the almost total legitimisation of homosexuality and in feminism or what feminism has become for it had a certain validity at first as a correction to an over-balance on the masculine side. But it has progressed from seeking a fair opportunity to express a person's talents to a grab for ever greater power and 'top dog' position as the female seeks to usurp the male (just as the male sought to usurp God). But feminism has had a highly detrimental effect on women, above all spiritually but evident to the alert eye in their manner and even their appearance. It has caused them to betray their true nature in pursuit of a false reality. It has also been responsible for the reduction of grace, beauty, magic, mystery and love in the world, all of which are linked to the feminine (not the female) which is what feminism most despises. Unfortunately, this ideology is supported and promoted by those who wish to overturn the natural order of being to their own advantage and also because of resentment and envy. The cry of equality is a red herring. Equality does not exist in the universe and nor should it for the only true equality would be in a universe in which nothing was expressed. In a created universe, everything reaches its fulfilment by conforming to its archetype and not by seeking to appropriate the archetype of another. The idea of equality between the sexes is an irrelevancy. The sexes are not meant to be equal which is why there are two of them.

Western civilisation is currently pursuing its own destruction whether through mass immigration and below replacement fertility or through relativising its cultural achievements, easily the greatest of any civilisation ever, or through allowing lower standards to prevail in the name of fairness, diversity and equality. Boundaries, which protect as much as they exclude, are being smashed in the name of a spurious unity with the inevitable consequence of a vulgarisation of taste and culture. These are clear signs of a society that has lost its confidence and become tired of its own existence. Most critically of all, it is mindlessly allowing the destruction, both from within and outside, of Christianity which is its primary inspiration and the basic glue that holds it all together.

So this is a call to repentance, both individual and collective. We have to turn away from ourselves and back to God or we are lost. I started this piece by referring to Seneca and saying where I disagreed with him, but I will conclude by saying that basically he was right. In these days when the world is burning we have to detach ourselves from the always transient lower worlds of change and decay, and focus our hearts and minds in the higher world of eternal goodness and truth. We may not like being alive at a time of such spiritual decline but we wouldn't be here unless we were meant to be. It is quite possible that we asked or were, at least, willing to be born in these times so we should learn the lessons that they provide. Sometimes it's easier to turn to God in a world that turns away from him.



Sunday, 12 August 2018

We need faith in spiritual 'processes'

It is clear that even real Christians often lack faith in spiritual processes. In theory we all believe that the visible world of human institutions, the world of communications and media, of power and systems; is only on the surface and that the real stuff goes on behind-the-scenes, imperceptibly, by the spirit...

But how seldom we are able to make this real to ourselves - and how often we pin our hopes, and expend our efforts, on worldly activities... How often we measure our success by public, measurable, 'objective' outcomes (such as statistics and surveys, or government and media reports, or what high status people are saying and doing).


Some denominations are very good about emphasising prayer; but this can again become an effort of organisation - with success measured by how many people can be gathered in prayer meetings or in other mass activities; or when the success of such prayer is itself measured by the perceptible effect on public discourse and policy.

This is dangerous, and tends to lead to despair in a world where institutions are deeply corrupted and habitually dishonest, and where the public arena is so controlled.

I think the answer is that we each, as individuals, need to base our understanding solidly on that which we personally know; and know directly by our best and solidest intuitions.

We cannot usually persuade other people of the validity of these personal intuitions - and we should not try to. We should speak, live, work, evaluate, (and especially) think from these intuitions - but not try to 'defend' them using the publicly-acceptable means of 'evidence', 'logic' etc.


An example is miracles. My conversion to Christianity was confirmed and solidified by a few miracles in response to prayer - I have never told anyone about the nature of these miracles because I know that they would sound feeble to a skeptic; and that there are plenty of alternative explanations for them. But I know they were miracles, and I also know that they were meant for me specifically.

Once we start to think this way; we will find that there are many events in our lives that confirm, sustain and increase our faith - but (as a general rule - recognising exceptions) we must not yield to the temptation to try and use these 'spiritual gifts' to convince other people.

We should be grateful for them, and use them in our personal lives, as evidence of how we ought to be living. 

Thus we may build-up a solid, sustaining faith in the reality and power of 'spiritual processes'.


Wednesday, 8 August 2018

What's the Difference between Nationalism and Patriotism?

What's the difference between nationalism and patriotism? This has been in the news recently with the serpentine Peter Mandelson commenting on the motives of people who voted to leave the EU. He clearly belongs to the ranks of those who claim to love their country but are happy to see it disappear.  Surely if you really love something, you want to preserve it? Growth and organic change are fine but you don't want to radically overhaul it. Would you say to your wife, "I love you darling but I just need you to look completely different and get a new personality"? Would you appreciate it if she said that to you?

Nationalism and patriotism are often (deliberately?) confused by people who style themselves progressive and who prefer the abstract to the particular. (Note: the abstract doesn't actually exist). However it's very easy to define the difference between the two. The patriot respects, or even admires, patriots of other countries but the nationalist does not. The patriot loves his country. The nationalist does not really love his country, at least not in his mode of nationalist. He merely identifies with it personally and from that he dislikes others who do not share in his identification. And then the nationalist is more likely to see his country as his while the patriot reverses this distinction seeing himself as part of the country. It's rather similar to the difference between the individual and the ego, and the two should never be confused since the latter is actually a perversion of the former.

The person who does not love his country is probably incapable of loving anything to any degree. Far from being the last refuge of the scoundrel (Dr Johnson was actually referring to false patriotism not the genuine article), patriotism is the mark of a healthy human being. Your country is like your family. Unless it has become radically corrupted, it is right and natural to love it which does not mean you dislike other countries any more than you would expect their natives to dislike yours.

This was all illustrated by CS Lewis in one of the key works for this blog, That Hideous Strength, when he wrote that just as there is a Logres (or Albion in the context of this blog) behind Britain so most countries have a hidden ideal counterpart behind their mundane outer self. As far as I remember, he specified France and China but you could add India, Russia, America, Greece, Italy, Egypt, Japan and many others. But not, dare I say it, all others. I don't think that all countries are divinely inspired but some clearly are, and they are the ones that leave an evolutionary mark on the world. However one can be a patriot of any country because all countries have their land and their national character, and this is what one loves, real things, actual qualities, not theories or nebulous abstractions. And this is what distinguishes the patriot from the nationalist on the one hand and the internationalist on the other. He loves.



Tuesday, 7 August 2018

Why the recent suppression of conspiracy theorists?

Everyone posting on this blog, and almost all of the commenters, are 'conspiracy theorists' according to the current designation; in other words we are those who regard those who have greatest (material) power and influence in the world (The Establishment) of undertaking 1. coordinated strategic action having 2. malign intent, overall.

But this is now regarded, by those with the power and desire to enforce their will upon others, as not merely a mistaken view, but one that needs coercively to be excluded from public discourse - by whatever means are effective.

At present the main tactics are de-funding and de-platforming - in other words, 'conspiracy theorists' are not allowed to make money, speak, write or display media in the public arena.


De-funding applies only to those 'conspiracy theorists' who make a living from their work - which is not many, since dissent is a minority view, mostly among the poorer and weaker and more despised of the population. De-funding has worked by various ways of drastically reducing public visibility of disapproved online contents in the social media mega-platforms (e.g. by changes to search engines, or linking), and by deleting the payment methods (banning from fundraiser sites, removing monetization etc).

De-platforming is another means of de-funding - because if a person is banned from the mainstream, mass media, they can't usually make much money. 

De-platforming means that they/ we are (and I mean here and now, already happened not as some theoretically possible future) not allowed to give lectures - anywhere, or to anybody, not even in private invitation-only groups; we are not allowed to put-up posters, publish books, make videos or... anything. They/ we are not allowed to have a 'platform'.

Of course, the implementation of this policy is as yet very partial, but it is increasing quickly - and anyone such as myself is aware that at any moment all our publicly accessible communications (especially online) may suddenly and irreversibly be eliminated. The intention is that fear will intimidate sufficiently that widespread enforcement will not be required.


I personally don't think that anything much can be done to 'fight back' against this, except in a small way; but as the suppression of conspiracy theorists becomes more aggressively and more obviously and openly coordinated, this explicitness is potentially valuable because it encourages 'the public' to recognise something that has been going-on more covertly and selectively for at least fifty years.

Since many or most people are by now very deeply corrupted and demotivated by the lack of core theistic beliefs; I presume that those who are doing this suppression are confident that they can 'get away with' pretty much anything they want to do. They are emboldened...

This, I guess, is exactly why we are seeing such very explicit suppression of anti-Establishment views.


There is a sort-of irony (for what it's worth) in the spectacle of 'revolutionary' Leftists aggressively protecting The Establishment against criticism or disloyalty; but this is only because the Establishment are themselves solidly Leftist; and a major platform of their dishonesty is that the small, feeble, impoverished, despised and mocked 'conspiracy theorists' are themselves (somehow!) The real Establishment!

Anyway, such ironies will not get us anywhere, since (again) such ironies have been around for many decades; and are seldom recognised and even lees often do they make any significant difference to anything...

But for those of us whose motivations are primarily spiritual; greater clarity is itself of considerable value. In the end; all that can be hoped for is that people will see clearly, will understand, and will then decide.

How people decide, in what direction they decide, is something we cannot (and should not try to) control - although we should try to influence for Good in whatever honest and personal fashion presents itself.


We should be reassured that because the mass media (and mass propaganda) is net-evil; anything along the lines of suppression will overall weaken the hold of the mass media, and will therefore do net-good.

To suffer the elimination of the tiny counter-current of Good within the mass media and public discourse is a small price to pay for the consequent weakening of grip suffered by the system as a whole.

Insofar as a secret 'samizdat' interpersonal (not public) network of Christian dissent develops in Albion; just so far will the spiritual awakening have begun - and exactly that state is being forced upon us by the enemy.


Monday, 6 August 2018

England's Dreaming - Wayne Sturgeon's 'Albion Awake'



Brother Ninnias came with him to the end of the beanrows. Aquila had half expected that the monk would say something about what had happened, but, tipping up his head to look about him with a wide, quiet, all-embracing gladness, he said only, 'The storm is over, and it is going to be a glorious day.'
And Aquila, looking about him also, saw that the moon was down; but the dark had paled to grey, and the grey was growing luminous. The eastern sky was awash with silver light, and somewhere down by the stream a willow wren was singing, and the whole world seemed poised on the edge of revelation, about to spread its wings ...
'Do you believe in blind chance?' he asked, as he had asked it once of Eugenus the Physician, long ago. 'No, I remember that you believe in a pattern of things.'
'I also believe in God, and in the Grace of God,' Brother Ninnias said.
Aquila stood quite still, his face lifted to the light above the wooded valley that was setting the east singing like the willow wren. At last he stirred. 'I must be away to my men. Give me your blessing before I go.'

Rosemary Sutcliff, The Lantern Bearers

*

It has often been said that in a time of spiritual and cultural disintegration (like our own) renewal will come not from the centre but the periphery. A society's institutions - government, media, churches, etc. - are so infected with the follies and miasmas of the age that they serve to stifle rather than engender creative thought and action. Wayne Sturgeon's collection of essays, Albion Awake (2013), belongs undoubtedly to the periphery, yet future historians, I feel, may come to regard it as an intellectual stepping stone towards the revitalised, spiritually-resonant centre that will soon - very soon, perhaps - replace the corrupted, crumbling centre we wrestle with today.

Albion Awake is not always an easy book to read. The essays - originally published between 1999 and 2013 in a variety of Anarchist and Third Position journals - are marred by spelling mistakes, repetition, and a patchy use of grammar throughout. This is not the author's fault. He has health conditions which leave him dependent on others to type up his work. But in actual fact these layout and presentation issues are quite striking in their own way. They give the book a certain Samizdat, 'underground printing press' feel. Whether the editor intended this or not I cannot say, but it did remind me of the anarcho-punk scene of the 1970s and '80s, which Sturgeon himself belonged to. There is the same DIY spirit and the same lack of respect for technical finesse, but also - and this is crucial - the same level of energy, commitment and artistic integrity. And this, ultimately, is what sticks in the reader's mind - not the typos or missing full stops, but the depth of the author's engagement with the political and social issues of our day, the mythical and religious dimensions this opens up, the breadth of his reading, and - most impressively of all - the joyful, heartfelt love he displays for his country - England - a love which shines out from every page like the 'countenance divine' shining forth upon 'England's clouded hills' in Blake's famous poem.

Wayne Sturgeon (b.1967) is not an 'establishment man' or a member of any political or cultural élite. He is an Outsider (in the Colin Wilson sense of the word), but he is also a humble and ordinary man with his own set of challenges in life. He lives in Brighton, has a family, supports people with learning difficulties, and lives with severe dyslexia and a chronic fatigue-type illness. Reading and writing do not come easily to him but he makes the effort because he knows he must. He is driven by an inner imperative, like the readers and writers of this blog, to do whatever he can to rouse Albion from the dreadful sleep of materialism and one-dimensional thinking he has fallen into. 

Sturgeon's religious trajectory has also been far from smooth. He has, as it were, worn a lot of hats since becoming a born-again Christian in the late 1980's, veering from the extremes of liberalism (Quakerism) to the extremes of narrow literalism (the British Israelite movement) before finding his true spiritual home in the Orthodox Church. He has made mistakes along the way. This goes for his writing as well. He regrets, for instance, the essay in this volume entitled, Anarcho-Illuminism. But these are fertile mistakes, the kinds of errors and misjudgments that someone seeking seriously for truth and meaning - on both the individual and collective levels - often makes and sometimes needs to make if they are to learn, grow and develop.

Reading Albion Awake straight through, one can see how Sturgeon's thought has matured and become more well-rounded over the past two decades. It is a book, in my view, which works on four levels. The first of these is an analysis and understanding of where twenty-first century Britain is becoming dysfunctional. Sturgeon is extremely wary of mass movements and totalising forms of politics and religion. He values what the poet David Jones called 'that which is counter, original, spare, strange.' What he cherishes most of all is individual freedom, but this must not be confused with the two false conceptions of liberty - economic and social Liberalism - which the rulers of this age are currently foisting upon us. 

Economic Liberalism sees the individual as an atomised consumer whose raison d'être lies in his or her spending power in an ever-expanding 'free' market which blindsides and bewilders us with its revolving door of constantly upgraded goods and services. This is the fake freedom the West told the peoples of Eastern Europe they had to have after the fall of Communism. It is a cause for rejoicing then that countries such as Poland, Hungary and Slovakia are seeing through such an impoverished vision of the human person and are turning towards a more rooted, organic understanding of politics, culture and society.

Social Liberalism walks hand in hand with its economic sibling. Just as, in classical Liberal theory, the removal of tariffs and trade barriers facilitates commercial growth, so too the undercutting of traditional (i.e. Christian) morality is said to liberate the individual from repressive and arbitrary social structures. The sexual revolution may well have been a liberating experience for certain well-insulated types who enjoy playing fast and loose with family structures, but it has had a devastating effect on those who cannot afford such transgressive fun and games and rely on family for emotional and practical support. It is my belief, for instance, that the economic warfare waged on working-class communities by Margaret Thatcher's government would not have wrought such havoc had those same family structures, which kept these communities strong throughout the Great Depression and the Second World War, not been undermined a decade before she came to power by the advent of the sexual revolution.

Social and economic Liberalism are every bit as destructive of the Personalism Sturgeon champions as were Communism and Fascism. Liberalism is more subtle, but just as lethal. It severs men and women from their roots; erases their ancestral memories; mocks their attachment to family, faith and flag; strips them of identity; promotes restlessness and confusion, and brings the chaos of the free market into every sphere of life, even the most personal. It aims to conquer and crush the personage David Jones calls the 'Tutelar of the Place': 'She that loves place, time, demarcation, hearth, kin, enclosure, site, differential cult ...'

This is exactly Wayne Sturgeon's understanding of individual liberty - a physical, emotional and spiritual state where we feel connected to something larger than ourselves - family, locality, religion, etc. - but where our identity is not subsumed into that wider whole à la Fascism (race-consciousness) and Communism (class-consciousness), nor stripped down and deconstructed as is becoming the norm under liberalism today. As Sturgeon writes in his essay, The Matter of Britain:

'At root, the problem is finding a balance between the individual and the community; we need both; if capitalism as a political ideology sacrifices the community to the individual and communist ideology sacrifices the individual to the group, the time has come to envisage a society where belonging is something that is not only understood in individualist western terms but on a deeper social significance, a holistic national/psycho spiritual dimension that seeks integration with the role of kinship and national identity. A "communal-individuality." This is beautifully expressed by the British myth of 'Albion' as found in the writing of the libertarian William Blake, Albion being the personification or archetype of the hidden soul of an alternative Britain not bound by the chains of Babylon and the New World Order.'


*

Freedom, therefore, is a precious and a fragile thing. Sturgeon is very aware of how easily it can be corrupted by the big batallions of left and right. He cites the example of the Wandervogel movement in Weimar Germany; a youthful fellowship united by a love of Germany's forests, hills and rivers, which was hijacked by the Nazis and twisted into the Hitler Youth. An analogous fate, he reminds us, befell the UK's 'New Age Traveller' scene of the 1980s, which has been shorn of its anarchistic core by the far-left and is today little more than a mouthpiece for Cultural Marxism. 

Establishing a 'third way' in British politics and society consequently becomes a very difficult thing to do. The second level of Sturgeon's book - how to make it happen - focuses chiefly on a number of economic measures, such as Mutualism, Social Credit and Distributism, which unfortunately fall outside my range of expertise. I do know, however, that these and similar concepts were highly influential during the inter-war period and remain key components of Catholic Social Teaching. They have enjoyed a renaissance in recent years thanks to Phillip Blond's book, Red Tory: How Left and Right Have Broken Britain (2010), and the work of his think tank, ResPublica. The Blue Labour movement, which leans heavily on the thought of the poet and theologian, John Milbank, has also been at the forefront of efforts to steer Britain in a less quantitative, more person-centred and tradition-friendly direction. Milbank's most recent collection of poems is called The Dances of Albion (2015) and Blue Labour would do well, perhaps, to focus more on this mythical aspect as it is here - at his book's third level - that Sturgeon's writing really starts to bounce and fizz. Behind the surface bustle of current affairs and culture wars stands Britain's spiritual dimension, which alone is real, though currently hidden. As Sturgeon says in The Matter of Britain

'It is only when an individual has found his or her place in a society that has achieved and fulfilled its destiny in manifesting its national spirit that we can then begin to live in creative harmony with the green earth ... Such a concept of mythology (the poetic expression of the folk soul and collective national psyche) can be a valuable tool in helping to restore and heal communities torn apart by ethnical hatred, bigotry and cruelty. For indeed it is not just individuals who need healing or wholeness but sometimes a collective race or nation needs a restoration whether in culture or race memory.'

This is a 'concept of mythology' which looks forward as well as back. In Wyrd Albion (an essay written in 2017, so not included in Albion Awake) Sturgeon hails Charles Williams' poetic suite, Taliessin Through Logres as:

' ... a highly imaginative psycho-geographic mind mapping for the revival and renewal of a prophetic vision of a Christian earth spirit, where lines of pilgrimage and correspondence activate spiritual centres throughout a feminised union of both pagan and Hebraic sites of historic importance. With the coming collapse of industrial civilization, will not the ancient practice of pilgrimage to sacred shrines, holy wells and points of healing power once again rekindle their mystical charm?'

Britain's spiritual dimension goes by different names. Some, like Williams, call it Logres. Others, like Blake, know it as Albion. David Jones personifies the land and christens it 'The Sleeping Lord.' 'Does the land wait the sleeping lord?' he asks. 'Or is the wasted land that very lord who sleeps?' This  brings Arthurian themes to mind, of course, and ties in nicely with what for me is the strongest essay in the book, Anarcho-Monarchism. Sturgeon portrays the monarch here not as some 'lord and master' type ruling over all, but rather as the servant of his subjects and the symbol and guarantor of their freedom:

'Monarchy can be reinvented as a concept to serve a distinctly libertarian ethos, if one can see in the monarch a symbol of sovereignty that is reflected in the absolute sovereignty of the free individual. The word "king" is derived from the word "kin" - so kingship denotes kinship, the king or queen being a symbolic guardian of the people's freedom and self-determination. Thus handed down generation to generation, the monarch carries the genetic inheritance of the people in a bond of mutual co-inherence. This is beautifully and poetically proclaimed in the tradition of British mythology that refers to King Arthur and the quest for the Holy Grail, in that the concept of kingship that is envisaged in the Arthurian mythos is interpreted as one of service and humility towards the people whom one 'rules'. A similar theme is found in the Christian Gospels where Jesus  says to his disciples, "Whosoever shall be considered the greatest, let him first become the least and the servant of all." (And in this mythological context, Christ is the fulfilment of all archetypes such as Arthur, as well as the indgenous British and Norse mystery traditions such as Druidism and Odinism in particular.)


*

Sturgeon's reference to Christ leads us to the fourth and most profound level of Albion Awake - the specifically Christian resolution it proposes to the societal challenges outlined above. In 1989-90, shortly after becoming a Christian, he spent a year at the Monastery of the Holy Trinity in Crawley Down, West Sussex. The monastery belongs to the Community of the Servants of the Will of God, an Anglican contemplative order for men and women. The community recites the Jesus Prayer several evenings a week and celebrates a sung Liturgy of the Hours every day.

Sturgeon's year at Crawley Down proved a pivotal and formative experience. Holy Trinity's openness to Orthodox spirituality, particularly the Jesus Prayer, gave him an anchor and a bedrock - through good times and bad - which set him on the path to his eventual reception into the Orthodox Church in 2015. It is significant for the times we live in, I feel, that it should be a monastery rather than a parish church or a cathedral which played such a central part in his religious formation. This is exactly the kind of guidance and encouragement that monks and nuns gave to many 'sheep without a shepherd' in the chaos which engulfed Western Europe after the fall of the Roman Empire. The monasteries and hermitages of that time looked both forward and back - back to the classical civilisation of Greece and Rome, the remnants of which they single-handedly preserved; and forward to the great age of Christendom to come, setting minds and hearts on fire with their holiness, integrity and radiant love for God's creation. Brother Ninnias, in Rosemary Sutcliff's novel, The Lantern Bearers (1959), steers the hero, Aquila, away from a futile quest for vengeance for his slaughtered family and towards a more constructive way of fighting the Saxons - a life of dedicated service under the future High King, Ambrosius Aurelianus. Aquila's rage is channelled in a manner which brings him emotional healing and allows his talents and abilities to flourish. Brother Ninnias, like Julian of Norwich and many other contemplatives, has the gift of reading souls, and he uses this grace to point people in the direction that suits their nature and gives their God-given gifts the best chance to blossom.

Our own time, in many respects, is not dissimilar to this post-Roman milieu. I believe that a revival of monasticism, as in that era, could restore to Christianity the contemplative depth required to engage effectively with the spiritual needs of people today, which are not the same as they were in the High Middle Ages, the nineteenth century, or other periods of relative cultural stability. I also have the sense that Orthodoxy has a role to play here as well. Wayne Sturgeon definitely thinks so, and it could well be that the future of Christianity in Britain belongs neither to the heirs of the Protestant Reformation nor the advocates of a Catholic restoration. A turn towards Orthodoxy would, I feel, reconnect the country in a very profound way with the monks and nuns of the Dark Aged and with that host of British saints who gave such outstanding witness in the thousand years prior to the Great Schism of 1054. In this respect, Orthodoxy could potentially become the religious version of the third way Sturgeon has found so elusive in the political sphere. Certainly, it is hard to find fault with the sanity and balance of his personal Credo, presented to us in his introduction to Albion Awake:

'My personal Christian faith which informs and inspires all of this for me, is that of the traditionalist and ancient Orthodox and Catholic Christianity which existed before the Great Schism of 1054. I would, therefore, as regards my faith, describe my position as being Orthodox but not Eastern, Catholic but not Papal and Anglican but not Protestant, although I have always been open and sympathetic to the speculative and esoteric forms Christianity has taken, particularly in mystics like Jacob Boehme and Jane Leade and more recently Valentin Tomberg, etc.'

Sturgeon hopes to set up a skete in the Sussex countryside - a small centre devoted to prayer, work, study and contemplation - informed equally by Orthodox spirituality and the Matter of Britain. The skete will take inspiration from Joseph of Arimathea and the earliest days of the Faith in this land, and look forward to the reanimaton of those sacred lines of force - pagan and Christian - which Charles Williams hailed in his Taliessin poems and which lie like a string of jewels across this holy earth. That is a terrific vision to have, I think, and one which offers hope and encouragement to all of us who feel overwhelmed and paralyzed at times by the downward drift of the world.

It would be fitting at this point to let Wayne Sturgeon have the last word, except to say that 'first word' might be more appropriate. Having read Albion Awake and the author's more recent essays (plus this interview in The National Liberal) and spoken to him in person, I am sure that everything which has gone before on his spiritual journey can be considered a prologue and that, as the Italians say, Il più grande è avanti - the greatest lies ahead:

'Lastly, I do not see the future as closed. I am not a fatalist, I am not waiting for the "rapture"; my understanding of eschatology is that of a "conditional futurism" that is open both the verb and dynamic of grace and of human free will and agency. The choice is clear though - either we make and fight for a future or it will be made for us. The English punk band, The Sex Pistols, once sang that "there is no future in England's dreaming," but there is a future if we can dream it and so in my mind England is still dreaming, only this dream is the dream of Albion and one day this Albion will awake.'