Sunday, 30 October 2016

Tolkien on saving an England out-of-touch with myth

Our situation is that of Smith of Wooton Major; as explained by Tolkien in the essay which describes the back-story and is published in the extended edition by Verlyn Flieger (2005).

The basic situation is a 'vulgarized' Wooton Major, Oxford, England, Western Civilization - a society out-of-contact with Faery: in more general terms, a society out-of-contact with myth. Hence vulgar, coarsened, materialistic; without depth, meaning or purpose:

"The crafts of Wootton, on which their present prosperity was based, actually owed their fame and commercial success in the beginning to the special skill and 'artistic' quality which contact with Faery had given to them. "But the commercial success had for some time begun to have effect. The village had become comfortable and self-satisfied. The artistic quality of its products was declining, and to some extent also their traditional manual skill, though this had not yet affected their market.

"But the village was in a danger which it did not see: a dwindling of its prosperity, which would not be maintained for ever by 'good name' and established connexions with eastern customers, nor by mere industry and business acumen. If the thread between the villagers and Faery was broken it would go back to its squalid beginnings.

"The vulgarization of Wootton is indicated by Nokes. He is obviously a somewhat extreme case, but clearly represents an attitude fast spreading in the village and growing in weight.

 "The festivals are becoming, or have already become, mere occasions for eating and drinking. Songs, tales music dancing no longer play a part - at least they are not provided for (as is the cooking and catering) out of public funds, and if they take place at all it is in family parties, and especially in the entertainment of children. (...)

 "History and legend and above all any tales touching on 'faery', have become regarded as children's stuff, patronizingly tolerated for the amusement of the very young. "This situation is evidently one that has aroused the concern of Faery. Why? It is plainly shown that Faery is a vast world in its own right, that does not depend for its existence upon Men, and which is not primarily nor indeed principally concerned with Men.

"The relationship must therefore be one of love: the Elven Folk, the chief and ruling inhabitants of Faery, have an ultimate kinship with Men and have a permanent love for them in general. "Though they are not bound by any moral obligation to assist Men, and do not need their help (except in human affairs), they do from time to time try to assist them, avert evil from them and have relations with them, especially through certain men and women whom they find suitable.

"They, the Elvenfolk are thus 'beneficent' with regard to Men, and are not wholly alien, though many things and creatures in Faery itself are alien to Men and even actively hostile. Their good will is seen mainly in attempting to keep or restore relationships between the two worlds, since the Elves (and still some Men) realize that this love of Faery is essential to the full and proper human development.

"The love of Faery is the love of love: a relationship towards all things, animate and inanimate, which includes love and respect, and removes or modifies the spirit of possession and domination. Without it even plain 'Utility' will in fact become less useful; or will turn to ruthlessness and lead only to mere power, ultimately destructive.

"It is probable that the world of Faery could not exist without our world, and is affected by the events in it — the reverse being also true. The 'health' of both is affected by state of the other.

"Men have not the power to assist the Elvenfolk in the ordering and defence of their realm; but the Elves have the power (subject to finding co-operation from within) to assist in the protection of our world, especially in the attempt to re-direct Men when their development tends to the defacing or destruction of their world. "The Elves may thus have also an enlightened self-interest in human affairs."


The situation of Wooton Major and England is as Tolkien described; and it was his lifelong endeavor to cure it - by means of re-establishing contact and communication - and love - between the world of Men and the world of Faery. 

Friday, 28 October 2016

The genius of John Michell

I have been reading quite a lot of John Michell (1933-2009) recently.

If you don't know who he is, this is a good source:

In a nutshell, he was the most influential of British 'New Age' writers, a modern day Platonist - and a lot more; including being one of the staunchest advocates of Albion Awakening of the past couple of generations.

The reason I write is that, by and large, I have found reading Michell to be a very encouraging and cheering experience that induces a positive mind-set. So I wanted to present a short-list of why.

John Michell regarded himself as a kind of Christian (a rather Unitarian and Gnostic type) but on the negative side - like almost all such - he was an advocate and adherent of the Sexual Revolution; and I think this needs to be borne in mind.

Most people report Michell as having had an unusually happy and harmless life, but I don't really believe this is the whole story.

Having married late, I have personally had reasonably extensive personal, friend- and acquaintance-based knowledge of the kind of sexually-liberated, serially-promiscuous life which JM apparently lived; and from that experience I simply don't believe it ever is that care-free, harm-free, victim-less life of pleasure it is claimed and advertised to be. By contrast, I think it is spiritually corrupting, plagued by existential loneliness and leaves a wake of damage.

I think this lifestyle explains Michell's undiscriminating socialising on the one side, and on the other the way his hospitality and resources were manipulated and exploited by so many people for so long; and the unenlightened indignity of a 2 month duration marriage to a younger woman at the age of 74 is, to my mind, indicative of a profound dissatisfaction.


But, leaving all that aside without forgetting it; I would like to list six positive and constructive reasons why I enjoy reading John Michell, believe he was 'a Good Thing', on the side of the angels - and a staunch foe of the forces of darkness.

John Michell was: 

1. True to himself but dedicated to the transcendent. It was this core and habitual honesty that was the source of his unique yet broadly appealing charm and style.

2. Driven by creativity and love; not by anger and resentment.

3. Made humble by a quiet self-deprecating humour.

4. A pure lover of learning for its own sake (and not for status, nor what it could get him).

5. A communicator from the sheer bubbling overflow of enthusiasm; and not in an attempt to shape others' minds.

In sum - I believe that John Michell lived, truthfully albeit imperfectly, in such a way as to nurture, sustain and express his genius; and this is what I find most inspiring in his example and attainment.

Thursday, 27 October 2016

War in Heaven

Reflections on Tremor of Intent by Anthony Burgess

At primary school, in the early 1980s, I became involved in what, for want of a more glamourous phrase, we called 'spy clubs'. There were two clubs, each with just one member - let's call the individuals Alfred and Guthrum - with an extra member joining one or the other occasionally. That was myself. The double agent. The 'third man'.

'We know all your secrets,' I recall Guthrum and I informing Alfred sententiously, violating the sanctuary of the cloakroom, where he sat tying his laces, his mouth a perfect 'o' of surprise and shame. I looked away guiltily. The hats, coats and scarves on their wooden pegs reminded me of Narnia and the wardrobe. It must have been winter. After school. Some extra-curricular activity. Certainly the playground was dark and frosty when Alfred fled, a broken reed. But we knew he'd already be scheming revenge, which was, of course, exactly what we wanted. It meant the game would go on.

Because that's all it was. A game. There were no secrets. Nothing either the British or Soviet authorities needed to be notified of. Why did we play it then?

I doubled up as an altar boy in those days. Perhaps that's why I empathise with the religious perspective offered by Denis Hillier, Burgess's protagonist in this 1965 spy novel:

'But what's it all for?' asked Clara. 'Agents and spies and counter-spies and secret weapons and being brainwashed. What are you all trying to do?'
'Have you ever wondered,' said Hillier, 'about the nature of ultimate reality? What lies beyond this shifting mass of phenomena? What lies beyond even God?
'Nothing's beyond God,' said Alan. 'That stands to reason.'
'Beyond God,' said Hillier, 'lies the concept of God. In the concept of God lies the concept of anti-God. Ultimate reality is a dualism or a game for two players. We - people like me and my counterparts on the other side - we reflect that game. It's a pale reflection. There used to be a much brighter one, in the days when the two sides represented what we know as good and evil. That was a tougher and more interesting game ... '


Tremor of Intent is a short book. In terms of story, it is a magnificent romp. Depending on your view, the novel sees Burgess (my fellow-Mancunian) either at his swashbuckling best or his most preeningly pretentious: 'I had waited in every evening, listening to Die Meistersinger. When Roper rang, Hans Sachs was opening Act III with his monologue about the whole world being mad: 'Wahn, warn.'

Returning to school days briefly, I recall the frequency throughout that time with which we were exhorted to 'stand on your own two feet.' 
'But what am I supposed to do,' I remember asking, 'once I'm on my two feet? Just stand here?' 
These are the questions, behind the literary pyrotechnics, that this novel plays with. Who am I? Why am I here? Now that I am here, what do I do? 
It is an existential novel, with a premium placed on commitment and engagement, the type of story one could imagine a mid-1960s Colin Wilson having written. It certainly bears the hallmarks of his worldview - his questing, religiously-orientated existentialism that stands at the antipodes of the despair-inducing 'absurdity' of Sartre and Camus. The book, at bottom, is a study in vocation - in the slow, mysterious unveiling of a vocation. It is, as Wilson himself might have said, a 'voyage to a beginning'.

What matters for Burgess here is the quest for meaning and value, especially relevant, surely, to an age like our own, which militates so stridently against such concepts. The alternative, after all, is nothing less than spiritual death - to disengage, to opt out, to spout empty words about the 'end of history', to become a a bland, benign and lukewarm neutral:

'The neutrals' said Alan.' If we could get down to the real struggle we wouldn't need spies and cold wars and spheres of influence and the rest of the horrible nonsense. But the people who are engaged in these things are better than the filthy neutrals.'
'And yet everything's an imposture,' replied Hillier. 'The real war goes on in heaven.'

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Beachy Head and Albion

This is a revised version of a post I put on my Meeting the Masters blog a few years ago which I think has relevance here. The picture above shows the cover of a book but it’s the picture I want to draw attention to not the book. It shows Beachy Head lighthouse standing at the foot of the chalk cliffs on the Sussex coast of England near Eastbourne. I used to live  in the nearby village of Meads and would regularly walk along the downs between Meads and Beachy Head, attracted by the calm and peaceful atmosphere of the place which was rather at odds with the cliff’s sinister reputation. The springy grasslands and flinty chalk spoke to me of an England of the distant past, while the view of the sea from high up on the downs had something almost timeless about it. I would look across the waters, occasionally blue as in the picture but more often grey, and feel connected to a period long before history. For me this was definitely a place where the veil between Albion and England was thin. But that’s only one reason for drawing attention to this photograph.

Sometimes it’s best not to try to interpret a symbol but just let it speak to the intuition without undue analysis. That way it feeds the imagination rather than the outer mind which gives it greater meaning. However on this occasion I would like to say a few words about why I consider this to be a suitable cover for a book about spiritual matters. 

When you begin to wake up, if I can put it like that, you see that there are three basic levels to reality which are the physical, the psychic and the spiritual. You only start to understand the true nature of the world when you acknowledge this and  learn to discriminate correctly between the various levels, seeing each in its proper place and not confusing one for the other as, in their different ways, the materialist and the New Age psychic both do. These three levels are shown in this picture by the land, the sea and the sky, otherwise earth, water and air. When we come to the limits of the physical world we find a new world, a world of imagination where thought can appear to take external form and form itself is malleable to the mind, but that is not the spiritual world though it may initially seem so to the unwary. The psychic plane, like the sea, teems with life of all descriptions. There is beauty and mystery. There are warm waters to bathe in and depths to explore but there are also sharks and even monsters. Like the sea, the psychic world is constantly moving, changing, reflecting images from above that disappear when you touch them, and, as with the sea, you have to learn to swim.

To find a more stable truth you need to go beyond the sea to the sky, beyond the psychic to the spiritual, but that requires an immense change in behaviour and attitude. It’s relatively easy to go from land to sea and most of us can swim to some degree at least. It’s not so easy to get up into the sky, and even when we do learn to spread our wings and fly we still have to penetrate an intermediate zone, that of the clouds, clouds of darkness and clouds of illusion, which can only be dissipated by the heat of the sun. That is to say, by the divine fire of truth.

So there are these three worlds of existence that are shown in this picture. There is also a lighthouse which we can say stands for guidance and illumination. It is a little bit of the sun come down to Earth. Normally a lighthouse warns ships to beware of rocks but this lighthouse, which we are seeing from the land rather than the sea, is fulfilling a different function. It is pointing up out of the sea into the sky and lighting the way clear to heaven. It is the beacon of spiritual tradition which is there to provide clear and reliable guidance. Nowadays most of us completely ignore it but it is always there, available to anyone who wants to find the path that leads to the sky.

The one thing you can't see in this picture is the sun, though without it you wouldn't be able to see anything. That also has a meaning.

This is where the previous post ended. Here I would like to add that for me this picture is a true image of Albion. For Albion is the white island and here we have both chalk cliffs and sea as well as a hint of the spiritual vastness to be encountered when one opens one's eyes to the vision of Albion and what lies beyond even that.

Friday, 21 October 2016

What they call The Hey - serpentine lines in country dancing

The Dance - by William Hogarth c1745
The lines, which a number of people together form, in country dancing, make a delightful play upon the eye, especially when the whole figure is to be seen at one view as at the playhouse from a gallery. The beauty of this kind of "mystic dancing," as the poets term it, depends upon moving in a composed variety of lines, chiefly serpentine, governed by the principals of intricacy. The dances of barbarians are often represented without these movements, being only composed of wild skipping, jumping, and turning around or running backward and forward with convulsive shrugs and distorted gestures. One of the most pleasing movements in country dancing which answers to all the principles of varying at once, is what they call the "hey."

From William Hogarth -  The Analysis of Beauty

The Hey:

From the 17th century English Dancing Master collection by Playford:

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Albion and Russia

He showed me a little thing, the size of a hazelnut, in the palm of my hand, and it was as round as a ball. I looked at it with my mind's eye and I thought, 'What can this be?' And answer came, 'This is all that is created.'

Julian of Norwich, Revelations of Divine Love


I remember how astonished I was as a boy, around 1982, or 1983, when I heard the High Tory statesman Enoch Powell refer to Britain and Russia as 'natural allies'. This, at the time, seemed wrong on every level. it was the height of the Cold War, and Russia (or the USSR or Soviet Union as it was more widely known) was viewed as the great enemy of the West and an existential threat, both to our freedom and physical survival. 

I had not read Dostoyevsky then. I did not know about the 'Holy Russia' that existed before the Bolshevik revolution of 1917 and had been so relentlessly persecuted by the Soviet state ever since. My geopolitical thinking, such as it was, ran in conventional East versus West lines. I lacked Powell's imagination, and the historical and political artistry which revealed to him Britain and Russia as kindred spirits. It seems as plain as a pikestaff now - two great powers on the peripheries of Europe, one to the East, one to the West, both with one foot in and one foot out. 

It is nothing new. Tension has existed in Russia for centuries between Westernisers in the mould of Peter the Great (1682 - 1721) and Slavophiles (Dostoyevsky being a good example) who regard the West as at best a corrupting influence and at worst a mortal threat to the Russian soul. A similar ambivalence towards Europe has been on view in Britain for much longer than is often supposed. One thinks, for instance, of the Imperial usurper Carausius, who declared himself Caesar in 286 and claimed Britannia for his own, an act which led to the province's recapture by Constantius Chlorus (the father of Constantine the Great) ten years later. The story is superbly told in Rosemary Sutcliff's The Silver Branch (1957), with its skilful interweaving of Roman and Celtic motifs - the 'Federal' and the 'National', if you like.

I have been reflecting a great deal of late on Powell's perspective, wondering if there might be a more meaningful affinity between our nations than the geographical accidents which he saw - in classic 'great game' style - as opportunities to wield joint influence to curb the ambitions of any overweening continental power. It is a tempting consideration. Certainly on the religious level. Maybe the political too. Russia, it appears, is leaving her post-Christian era behind, while Britain (and the whole Western world) wilfully races into one of her own. As terror becomes the 'new normal' in Europe, I have increasingly felt that our wisest course of action is to request Russian assistance. We seem incapable of arresting our own decadence and wholly unable to root out the enemy within. Would we do better under Russian auspices? Perhaps, but great discernment and caution is nonetheless called for. It is easy for me to sit here and invite Moscow to start pulling the strings. There are, however, traditionally-minded people a-plenty in the former Warsaw Pact countries who would not add their names to the invitation. I have no experience of Russian hegemony. They have.

It is crucial, therefore, that any partnership between Britain and Russia is built on rock not sand - not on projection, wish-fulfilment, fear or mutual convenience, but on a deep and rich appreciation of each country's spiritual essence and core. To this end, I would recommend that before any talking begins, a long period of silent contemplation is needed, because it is only in silence that space can be cleared for this inner truth to make itself felt. There are innumerable objects, themes and places that  both parties could focus on, but for now I will suggest just two, one Russian and one English, one an icon and one a chapel.

First, on the Russian side, the Descent of the Holy Spirit, a late fifteenth-century icon of the Novgorod school.

There is a stillness and quiet authority to this icon which I find utterly compelling. This is no pell-mell dash through Jerusalem on Pentecost morning, everyone speaking in tongues with flecks of fire dancing above their heads. What we see instead is pattern, harmony and peace, the Apostles and Evangelists sitting serenely in a semi-circle - a true community of faith - as the Holy Spirit descends discreetly in twelve short rays. Look at how much space there is - space for the Spirit to breathe, blossom and spring forth into the world, symbolised here by the weary-looking king at the bottom. His white garment bears the twelve scrolls of the Apostles, signs of his (and our) approaching liberation from the clutches of Hades.

'Beauty will save the world,' as Dostoyevsky famously wrote. It is on this level, I feel, that Russia can achieve her spiritual destiny - the fraternal, gem-like flame of her religious tradition pointing the way towards a more balanced, harmonious way of being, an alternative point of reference to the destructive mantra of 'individual choice' currently sowing so much chaos and unhappiness in the West and beyond.

As for our own country, well, there is clearly a Divine sensibility native to these lands. The British Isles, since long before the days of Carausius and Constantius, have been deeply receptive to the mystical and metaphysical. The Druids of Britain and Ireland, the stone circles of Avebury and Stonehenge, and the sanctity and courage of the Celtic saints bear potent witness to this. A whirl of commercial activity in recent centuries, allied to a coarsening and narrowing of vision, has served to obscure this underlying predisposition. But it hasn't left us. The Divine sensibility, and what it points to, remain - under the surface for now, but no less powerful and real for that. What it points to is the 'peace which passeth all understanding', and when one experiences that peace, a shift in levels takes place and that peace becomes all there is. All else ebbs and fades. Conflict becomes meaningless; discord and strife unthinkable. Peace is all that there was, will be, and is. It is 'all that has been created,' as Christ, the Prince of Peace, told Mother Julian.

When my wife and I stepped out of Julian's cell on a Sunday afternoon early in 2014, it felt like the world had been subtly transfigured, the Holy Spirit sprinkling largesse onto the rooftops, chimneys and turrets of Norwich. What happened in the cell cannot be framed in words, but I regard that sacred space as the architectural equivalent of the Novgorod icon, and it is in standing before this icon and kneeling in this chapel that Albion and Russia can meet, connect and begin carrying out God's work in the world.

The Icon and the cell are both sites of reality; zones of silence, stillness and prayer. Only the real carries weight. Anything else is a sham - self-promoting fantasy or another 'great game'. What is real saves, heals and gives life. No matter how tiny, feeble or insignificant it seems. The real breathes, blossoms, and springs forth into the world to turn the tables on Hades at the appointed hour. 

It is the destiny, I am sure, of our two great nations to be present and active at that hour. Let the great bell sound, therefore, the silence commence, and the peace which passeth all understanding - from Vladivostok to Tintagel - come down upon us all.

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

The Nation State

This post follows on from the earlier one on patriotism.

There are those who say that the days of the nation state are over and that henceforth we should live under the banner of one humanity by which they mean a humanity which adheres to egalitarian doctrines in which the only differences allowed are ones that submit themselves to the prevailing dogma. Spirituality of a sort would be permitted but it would preferably be non-theistic and certainly have to fall into line with the official political orthodoxy which would be unquestionable. There are others, of whom I am one, who think that this is a tactic to separate human beings from their roots so that they are more easily malleable and better able to be shaped to the requirements of a One World system of government which would present itself as benign but which would really be about total control. To this end all traditional loyalties are to be destroyed in the name of unity, and people are presented with a shiny new and sophisticated ideology to which everyone must subscribe. As always, the real powers deceive the well-meaning but naive by hiding their true agenda behind noble sounding words with which it seems no decent person could possibly disagree.

The idea of the nation state needs to be broken because it resists this orthodoxy by giving a focus for identity to something that conflicts with it. Thus it must be presented as divisive, out of date and probably racist too, and obligingly, because when you suppress the natural expression of something it reappears in a deformed and exaggerated state, groups spring up that do indeed tick all these boxes. However that does not mean that the principle in question is as described. The distortion of a truth is the distortion not the truth. Do we define a thing only by its negative aspects? Is Christianity only the Inquisition? Is marriage only divorce?

This is why mass immigration is now so much encouraged. New arrivals are naturally not going to have much feeling for the past of a country but it is the past that gives that country its identity. When that connection is weakened so is the sense of identity and a new one based on the universalist, humanity is one, modern ethos can be built up. People without a past are more easily controlled by the powers that be, whether they be political, economic or whatever, and they can be more readily herded into the direction desired by those powers. A new direction is not always a bad thing, of course. It all depends on what the direction is. The introduction of Christianity to the West was clearly a very good thing but now the situation is precisely the reverse. The agenda is the destruction of Christianity or any form of religion that points human beings away from the preoccupations of this world and towards the sense that life here is part of much larger field of existence, and promotes the idea that one's values should be based on the reality of that larger field not the small segment of it in which we currently live.

A nation state is probably the largest unit with which a person can feel a real sense of belonging. This is not just an imagined ideal, as in the airy dreams of the ivory towered intellectual, but a truly felt sense of participation which has depth and roots, blood and soul. One based in the earth as well as the mind. A real home unlike in the globalised world where, as they say, no one is a foreigner but no one is at home either. One humanity may seem a pleasant idea but it has no substance for it has no real distinguishing characteristics and nothing concrete to define it. It is just an abstraction. There is no individuality and what we love is individuality. The Frenchness of France, the Indianness of India and so on. This is not to say that humanity is not one. It very definitely is and in today's world should be seen as such. But, at the same time, it is made up of different constituent parts and its multiplicity is just as important as its unity and should not be destroyed in the name of the latter any more than the reverse should be the case. Are we so blind that we cannot see the virtue of the two existing together? I like to think of the Trinity as a pattern for everything and, for me, it certainly gives us a clue as to how things should be in the context of one world and many nation states. The one and the many are two sides of the same coin and neither should be neglected for the sake of the other.

Although often described as such, the nation state, or better put, the country, is not really a political entity. It is a cultural thing, certainly, but at a deeper level it is a spiritual thing. It can, indeed it should, change and grow but this growth should be faithful to the inner reality of which the country is the outer expression. If it is not there will be a rupture between inner and outer as is the case with virtually all countries now. This can only lead to disharmony within the nation and instability among the people. In this context it has to be said that England is increasingly losing its connection to Albion. One can only presume this is deliberately engineered so that we accept the brave new world being prepared for us and do so gladly, thinking it an improvement on the ignorant past. Let us hope there are enough inhabitants of England who can keep that connection alive in their hearts until the times be more propitious for its expression.

None of this means that present day nation states will not be fundamentally altered in the future. That is all part of the natural way life unfolds. But the motives of the forces which are ultimately behind the attempts to deconstruct them today are to do with power and control despite the humanitarian tone of the way their case is presented to the public. For the sort of oneness that is being promoted now is not a spiritual oneness but a distortion of that for non-spiritual ends. The devil is able to corrupt anything and, as Shakespeare tells us, 'can cite scripture for his purpose'.

Sunday, 16 October 2016

The Norman Kings - bad because illegitimate, not illegitimate because bad

The legitimacy of the Norman invasion and conquest of England by William I is usually discussed in terms of what went before - the promise of kingship to William by Edward the Confessor, and the relative claims of Harold Godwinson.

But a better understanding can be got from what happened afterwards - the reign of William the Conqueror and his descendants - and what that tells us about whether they were real monarchs, or merely glorified gangsters, tyrants and robbers.

The proper question is whether the Normans ruled as English kings, or whether they simply regarded England as a resource for their own exploitation.

The evidence of the events after the Battle of Hastings is perfectly clear - for many generations, the Normans did not rule as monarchs - as Fathers to the nation - but as thugs, tyrants and thieves whose actions showed that they despised the English and used the country as a playground.

1. The Harrying of the North in 1069-70. After putting down resistance from Anglo Saxon nobles - there was the attempt (within the constraints of time, technology and resources) to destroy Life in the North of England - men, women and children; animals; crops, forests, plant life.

Is it the act of a King deliberately to lay waste to a large part of the Kingdom?

2. Over the next generations, farmers were driven off vast tracts of productive agricultural land (to die of starvation); and these lands were made into wild forests for the exclusive recreation of the Norman nobles (their prey defended by arbitrarily conjured-up and draconian Forest Laws - e.g. amputation of hands for disturbing a deer).

The forestation of England - at the cost of the wealth and strength and well-being of the people - shows that that the Normans regarded the country as a playground, not a nation.

From the Harrying of the North and the mass destruction of agriculture, the country of England was much reduced in terms of useful land and living people. In addition perhaps ten percent of the population fled overseas - many to Constantinople.

After the Conquest, England was for many generations a reduced, impoverished, smaller and feebler nation.

3. The endless, petty and pointless - yet murderous and destructive - squabbles and civil wars between the Normans (twenty years of fighting between Stephen and his cousin Matilda - only for Matilda's son's to inherit the throne...) and their descendants (right down to the Wars of the Roses) - show that the invaders regarded England as a mere larder, to be grabbed - if possible - for their own personal consumption.

We ought to judge monarch's primarily by their motivations - not by their attainments (which depend on multiple factors beyond control). Thus, a monarch can only be good when he or she has the country's good at heart, and rules on behalf of God.

Several or many of the Angle and Saxon Kings were good, by that criterion. But after 1066 there was a period of hundreds of years until we could be sure that this was the case again - it was probably not until Elizabeth the First that I would feel confident that there was a real monarch again on the throne of England.

The evidence is strong and it is objective that the Norman Kings and their descendants were - nearly all of them, and for centuries - merely successful and effective louts and looters; not true Kings: not even trying to be true Kings, because that responsibility (and love) would limit their license to grab, grab, grab. 

Saturday, 15 October 2016

Monarchy - by David Starkey

Monarchy, by David Starkey, is a recent TV series focused on the Kings and Queens of England - and cheaply available on DVD.

I recommend this series highly as being extremely informative - I have learned a tremendous amount from every episode I have watched. Of course, as with all good documentaries, there is a point of view - and it is one I don't fully agree with - but it is close enough!

The series is fairly modest compared to most - and it avoids the cult-of-personality which ruins most documentaries. Starkey is, indeed, somewhat visually awkward as a presenter - but that means we focus on the words, information, interpretation - the story he is telling.

And that story is fascinating - and at times inspiring.

Note - If you can find a version, I would also highly recommend (but with reservations) Part 1 of Border Country, a 2014 BBC documentary by Rory Stewart -- The reservations are because I suspect that the author is a member of the Global Establishment conspiracy to subvert and invert Good; and that there are evil 'messages' embedded in the mostly superb analysis and exposition... Other than that; it's great!

Friday, 14 October 2016

King Harold Godwinson

Today, October 14th 2016, is the nine hundredth and fiftieth anniversary of the Battle of Hastings. With a surname like Fitzgerald, I must have had an ancestor who fought on the Norman side that day, yet I've always felt a strong dislike for Duke William and a profound affinity for his opposite number, King Harold II, the last of the Anglo-Saxon kings.

As a boy, I read everything I could on this period of history and I remember how affected I was by the English defeat at Hastings and the death of Harold. The only other episode in my reading which upset me as much was the slaying of Hector by Achilles (with a little help from Athene) in the Iliad, another example of outrageous injustice and misfortune.

To say that Harold was unlucky in his short reign from January to October 1066 would be an understatement. He did as much, if not more, as Winston Churchill did in 1940 to maintain his country's independence, yet the dice didn't fall his way and he had no allies overseas to distract, pressurise and push back the enemy. On September 25th, Harold crushed an enormous Viking army at Stamford Bridge near York in one of the most spectacular military triumphs of the Medieval era. Three days later, Duke William landed on the South coast. Harold could, and maybe should, have bided his time in York, resting his troops and gathering reinforcements. He couldn't bear, however, to remain in the North when the Normans were ravaging his own Earldom of Wessex. Such was his confidence in his men and his leadership that he raced hotfoot down to Senlac Hill and faced the invader with a footsore army at about half its optimal strength. Even so, the Saxons dictated terms for the first three hours of battle, until over-excitement led some of the soldiery to chase the struggling Normans down the hill, fatally compromising the defensive solidity which was central to Harold's strategy.

Harold has also suffered from the artistically sublime but politically biased Bayeux Tapestry. This famous picture of Harold swearing a solemn oath ... 

... that he would allow William to assume the throne on the death of the childless Edward the Confessor (1042 - 1066) creates a very slanted impression of what most likely happened. The precise reasons why Harold found himself shipwrecked off the coast of Normandy in 1064 remain obscure. But he was rescued by William's men and stayed in the Duchy for a number of months as a guest (or prisoner, a cynic might claim) of the Duke. Harold's vow was almost certainly made under some kind of duress. It is barely conceivable, considering the circumstances, that it could have been a freely given decision. History, sometimes, is indeed written by the winners.

When Edward died on January 5th, Harold - despite being the son of an Earl (Godwin) rather than a King - was clearly the only man capable of inheriting the Crown and preserving the integrity of the country. During the second half of Edward's reign he had shown himself to be a first class leader (especially in his campaigns against the Welsh) and a highly competent administrator. He had the character and personal attributes, once the threat of invasion was quelled, to become one of the great English Kings, in the lineage of Alfred, Athelstan and Edgar. But it didn't happen for him, through no fault of his own, and Norman propaganda has done its best ever since to airbrush him out of history.

Harold, in this respect, could be viewed as England's 'missing' King, the Grand Monarque the country never had. Certainly, in my view, Harold II is the great play that Shakespeare never wrote. For a long time after the Norman Conquest, stories and legends circulated that Harold hadn't died at Hastings, that he was hiding, biding his time before returning at the head of a mighty host to beat off the oppressor. Harold plays his part and finds his place, therefore, in our nation's great Arthurian tapestry. 

I have always felt as well, in a way which I can't quantify but which I feel to be vitally and existentially true, that Harold's death - even though it took place on the battlefield and not on the executioner's scaffold - in some way prefigures and foreshadows the terrible stain of Regicide, spreading across Europe, from our own Royal Martyr, Charles I, in 1649, to Louis XVI in 1793 and Tsar Nicholas II and his family in 1918. On this note, it is worth mentioning here that Fr. Andrew Phillips of St John's Orthodox Church, Colchester, will be celebrating a memorial service for King Harold and all his companions at the Church of St Mary Magdalene, Whatlington, East Sussex, on Thursday October 27th at 11 am. Further details here -

There is certainly a belief in some quarters that Harold was the last Orthodox King of England, the victim of a stitch-up between William and the Pope to impose the Roman rite once and for all on the country and banish the remaining elements of Celtic Christianity. How true this is I cannot say, but what is interesting is that Harold's daughter, Gytha, later married a prince of Smolensk named Vladimir Monomakh, who later became ruler and Grand Prince of a united Kievan Rus, a vast realm, stretching from the Baltic Sea in the North to the Black Sea in the South. They named their son, Harald, after his maternal grandfather, so there is a connection with the Orthodox world here and something of a happy ending too in that Harold's name and achievements lived on and took flourishing root overseas.

Harold's is a legacy, a story and a mythology, which can, and should, be tapped into today, here in his native realm. Those who voted 'Leave' in the June referendum, for instance, could do a lot worse, to my mind, than look to Harold as a symbol and exemplar of what fighting for independence really means and what it potentially costs. It is a spiritual aspiration, first and foremost, with absolutely no guarantee of worldly success, a thriving economy or material prosperity. You might even be forgotten. Airbrushed out of history. Traduced in a contemporary rehash of the Bayeux Tapestry. It is a risk and a leap of faith, but if you do it for the right reasons and in the right way - nothing to do with markets and trade deals, but everything to do with passion, heart and soul - then the people who matter - the poor, the weak, the humble, the little children who Christ welcomed into his arms - will cherish and bless your memory, until the wheel spins round and you come again -  in Russia, France, England and everywhere else - Arthur, Harold, Charles, Louis, Nicholas - the Once and Future King.


Tuesday, 11 October 2016

The evil Establishment are creating a world crisis... welcome it!

As the rate of top-down destructiveness accelerates - it seems that we are being stampeded into a world crisis; initially probably a proxy US-UK-EU versus Russia-China war in the Middle East, intended to become international and planned to lead onto mass international clamouring for the stability of a totalitarian world government...

I suggest that this is an over-hasty strike, due to panic not strength - consequently we should prepare ourselves to use the provoked situation as a chance for reversing decline and corruption.

This entails close attention to the Goodness of our personal motivations; ensuring that we, as individuals, are courageous from love and faith; and not merely provoked by fear and hatred into a state of hardened pride.

Then from this position to seek to clarify, explain, persuade - but not to attempt the futile, indeed counter-productive, task of imposing our will on others.

The global conspiracy is piling-on contrived crises, apparently pushing for full-scale proxy war in the Middle East and creating divisive social chaos at home. The use of false flag operations, remote/ deniable assassins, saboteurs and thugs, and subversion by fifth columnists is becoming more blatant. The media propaganda has taken its gloves off, and moved from subtle soft- to in-your-face hard-sell.

It certainly looks like the Establishment are in a hurry to provoke a collapse of international order by whatever means necessary - presumably so that they will then be 'asked' (or allowed) to intervene by ramping-up the system of totalitarian tyranny and mind-control.

But the sheer urgency of their current activities, suggest that the conditions are probably not yet fully conducive to their success; they seem to be working faster than planned, preparing to unleash their intended knock-out blow before all their preparations have been made - before all the pieces are in place.

The increasing rate of destructive change seems just too rapid to go un-noticed and unopposed, it is indeed provoking perceptible (albeit as yet feeble) backlash for the first time in many years  - which may well imply that the Establishment are afraid of delay.

Their urgency is our opportunity. If the Establishment strike too early - before the masses of The West are fully docile to their plans, they are much less likely to succeed.

We must not therefore fear the crisis. It will come, and it should come; because the social trends are so powerfully adverse to Good and must be reversed; if crisis comes sooner then we will be better able to resist and defeat it than if it comes later.

Bring it on! Fear not. 

So - let us assume that there will be a significant backlash against the secular Liberal agenda, and as individuals we need to be psychologically and spiritually ready for it.

Because any backlash will only be Good if it is well-motivated (overall); which for a Christian means motivated by Love, backed by a spirit of creativity and courage.

If, on the other hand, the backlash is motivated by fear, hatred and resentment; then it will certainly fail to be Good; it will merely loop-back into the demonic secular Left agenda -  it will simply mean a change of personnel, and not induce the necessary reversal of direction.

For Christians (as usual, as always) it is motivation, motivation, motivation that matters. And in the end motivation cannot be imposed but only inspired, cannot be from-without but only from-within.

(Who better to monitor and correct our own motivations than our-selves? Only then may we have the discernment to do the same for others.) 

What can be helpful to other people, crucially so, is to clarify the issues and choices - and maybe that is where we can each make a significant contribution.

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Michael Tippett (1905-1998)

I came across the composer Michael Tippett mainly via his collection of essays Moving into Aquarius (1959), which I found in the English bookshop in Athens on a prolonged holiday when I ran short of reading matter: the book seemed to 'call out' to me from its high shelf, and I re-read it intently over the next couple of years. I even wrote to Tippett to thank him and received a courteous and personal reply, expressing astonishment that the book had come to me via Greece.

The following year I became friends and flat-mate with a music student who was already a expert in Tippett and had met him several times - being a neighbour in Wiltshire: he took me through the entirety of Tippets recorded works then available (1980) - sometimes with a score to follow.

At that time Tippett became for me like a English Beethoven combined with Goethe! - an artist philosopher for our time. The peak was when I travelled overnight to attend Tippett's 75th birthday concert in London - missing just an afternoon of lectures, travelling the 300 miles to London by train for the concert, after which I briefly met the great man, then back by a slow train at midnight to attend the nine o'clock ward rounds the next morning... Heroic dedication!

However, when I was removed from the intense hothouse atmosphere of that phase in my life; my opinion of Tippett became much moderated - I remained fascinated by the best of his musical (and prose) output up to about 1960 (when he was aged 55) - but by nothing after that point. Indeed, my deepest appreciation is reserved for just four works:

1. The Concerto for double string orchestra - the slow movement of which is linked above.

2 The Fantasia on a theme by Correlli.

3. The oratorio - A Child of our Time; and

4. The opera - a Midsummer Marriage - including the Ritual Dances which are also performed as a separate concert piece.

These works are the core of Tippett's achievement; and they have an unique quality of serious, aspiring lyricism - which is intensely English (despite Tippett's cosmopolitan eclecticism, and in particular a deep affinity with German culture).

I should point out that in his overt stance, Tippett was a typical British upper class radical - variously a Communist, Pacifist, Sexual Liberationist and Revolutionary and into every 'good' Establishment cause under the sun. In appreciating his qualities, such aspects need to be set-aside (as they do for almost all great artists of the past 200 years, especially). What then remains?

For me, firstly his intense desire to heal the alienated and fractured soul of modern Man, through the creation of moments of exalted beauty and hope. Secondly, his writings on the creative work of a 'modern' artist' in relation to society - the struggle for an integrity which also connects with genuine problems. 3. Thirdly his example as an all-round 'Denker und Dichter' type - a thinker and poet; his (early) life of rural seclusion and patient working.

Overall, Tippett's vision has comprehensively failed and been rejected; and in the thirty-five plus years since I began to engage with his work its possibility has moved from unlikely to impossible. But however misguided and chaotic, his striving (up to circa 1960) was an honest effort to tackle the fundamental problem of his time - as he understood it; and to create beauty - so far as he was able; and for such reasons the slender body of work named above has permanent value. 


Thursday, 6 October 2016

Voyage to the West

Jennie looked at Cai. 'And where is this Court of yours? How do you get home?'
'I am home.' Cai grinned at her look of confusion. 'First, we walk back with you back to Carston. From there, well, let's just say it's not far. Logria never is. Under the leaves, in the reflections of a pond, you might just see it.'
He waved his hand vaguely at the winter country below them, at the farms and woods and the traffic on a distant road. 'Logria is out there,' he said.

Catherine Fisher, Fintan's Tower (1991)


The notion of Albion (or Logria, as it's called here) as a hidden reality underpinning daily life is one that stirs and stimulates the imagination. Several place-names and sites across Britain have become associated in the popular mind with this 'secret country'. One thinks of Tintagel, for instance, or Glastonbury Tor, or Avebury, or the White Horse of Uffington.

For myself, it is a particular train journey which is most emblematic of Logria - from Newcastle to Liverpool, from East to West, from the courts of the morning to the couch of the setting sun, from the North Sea and the banks of the Tyne to the mouth of the Mersey and the Irish Sea.

We begin on Tyneside. England's north-eastern seaboard looks out towards Scandinavia, calling to mind the successive waves of Viking raids, invasions and settlements that bedevilled Northumbria between 787 and 1066. As we proceed westward, a number of different but inter-linked Englands emerge, starting with the England of Christendom and the Ages of Faith, given such outstanding embodiment in the Medieval splendour of Durham and York Cathedrals. Next come the twin industrial powerhouses of Leeds and Manchester, separated by the Pennines, that stark and spectacular mountain range, the 'backbone of England' and the heartland of the formidable Brigantes tribe in the age of the Roman Conquest and the lost Ninth Legion that set out to subdue the Celts and disappeared without trace in the mists of the North.

At the westernmost edge of our journey, the train clatters through the tunnels on the approach to Liverpool Lime Street. Sunlight flickers on the moss-lined walls from narrow slits of bridges overhead. The world, between the bridges, turns shadowy and dim. My reflection stares back at me, pale and luminous in the darkened window. Then, just like that, it vanishes, rendered invisible by the brightness of the station, spreading out around us like a rough-hewn open air theatre. The city beyond, with its vivid sunsets, artistic flair, and princely (if sometimes shabby) air, has a faintly Otherworldly feel, not fully of a piece, it seems, with the country before the tunnels. Just as Newcastle looks out onto the Norse world, so Liverpool turns towards Wales rather than England, towards Ireland and the Western Ocean; as far as the Isles of the Blessed, those mysterious realms at the rim of the world, where this level of reality ends and the next begins.

The veil between the worlds is thin in Liverpool. It is a numinous place, a Celtic place, an in-between place, yet as vital a piece in Albion's mosaic as all the rest - Manchester, Newcastle, Leeds, the Pennines, and the Cathedrals of Durham and York, which find their echo and reflection in Liverpool's pair of twentieth-century Cathedrals. And it's this symmetry and symbolism which makes the journey what it is for me - this multi-faceted slice of national life and history - following the day from sunrise to sunset, from the sea-road to Asgard to the great white ship that sails every night for Tir-Na-Nog.

Whenever I set out on this this voyage, you see, I sense the existence of the underlying pattern behind these varied aspects of Albion's story. Sensing is one thing, however, piercing the veil another. To perceive the pattern as a whole, to recognise and comprehend the deeper reality - to name it and articulate it - that would be to unveil and usher into the light of day the hidden meaning and purpose of this island Kingdom. The return of the Holy Grail to Logres would be one way of describing it. The maverick English prophet John Michell suggests another:

'The answer, when it comes, takes the form of a revelation. That does not mean a god or a UFO descending, but something that enters minds just when it is needed. Basically it is a pattern or a codification of number, and as you study it you realise that it is the pattern of creation and the human mind.' (Confessions of a Radical Traditionalist, 2005, p.285)

Michell's understanding is true, certainly for himself and maybe for others, but not for everyone. Each  of us experiences reality in a form and manner unique to ourselves and our own characteristics. As a lover of the word, for example, I suspect that the revelation might appear in the form of a narrative - a story, perhaps, or a speech, song, poem or play. Shakespeare came close to expressing it, I think. As did Blake. So too, in a different key, did Winston Churchill. But the right word - or the right combination of words - is yet to come. That will be the 'something' that enters our minds when we most need it. 

I feel its approach though, its growing presence and strength, as the train rolls out of Lime Street and the lamps shine like silver moons in the dusk. Two station staff, a man and a woman, stand talking at the end of the platform. The man says something, then points to the sky. They look up, as do I, but it's no good, not for me, because we're back in the tunnels and it's dark again except for my reflection gazing back at me in the window. Then it comes - the revelation - or something like it - on the far side of my face - golden letters in a flowing script, standing out distinctly against the greeny black of the tunnel wall. There isn't much to see. A handful of lines, nothing more. Barely a paragraph. The train gathers speed and I catch a couple of words: 'Wasteland' and 'waters'. There's a 'when' and a 'tree' and a 'King' too. Then it's gone and we're out of the tunnels, rounding the curve of the engine sheds, past the city walls and into the country beyond.

The moment has passed; the vision departed. But I don't feel downhearted; not in the slightest. I smile and sit back. 'Logria is out there,' I say to myself, as the train rattles on through the night, towards the eastern coast and the return - nearer with every turn of the wheel - of the renewed, rejuvenated Sun and - I know it in my heart now - the rebirth and restoration of this holy land.

Review of The Angry Years by Colin Wilson (2007)

The Angry Young Men was a largely nonsensical media coinage for what was supposed to be the new generation of post WWII writers - the term was launched in 1956 by the play Look Back in Anger by John Osborne and The Outsider by Colin Wilson.

I became aware of the Angries only after discovering The Outsider in the summer of 1978, having read Kingsley Amis's novel Lucky Jim a year before (which, although from 1953 is usually regarded as an 'Angry' book; it is one of the funniest books I have ever read). For some reason I became very interested in the general idea of the 1950s at this point; and took to listening to Trad Jazz and wearing a corduroy jacket with leather patches - with or without trademark polo neck sweater.

I sampled a wide range of the literary output of the fifties - but aside from Colin Wilson I must admit I did not find very much to enjoy. Among those mentioned in this book I did not take to John Wain, Stuart Holroyd, JP Donleavy, Samuel Beckett, Arnold Wesker, Alan Sillitoe - and I never read John Braine or Kenneth Tynan.

I wasted a lot of time reading Amis, without finding anything else anything like as good as Lucky Jim - although his second and third novels (That Uncertain Feeling and I Like It Here) both had good stuff in them. Look Back In Anger was certainly original and had a kind of energy - but watching it was a torment; and Osborne's other works were entirely without interest.

I don't like it nowadays, but Iris Murdoch's first novel - Under The Net - was a favourite re-read for several years. And of course that miserable so-and-so Phillip Larkin (who is sometimes, absurdly, regarded as an Angry) was our last really worthwhile English poet.

Despite this long term interest, I have only just read Colin Wilson's account of the era. Especially considering the book was written in his mid-seventies - there is a lot of detail and energy in it - and I found it well-organised. Although I should warn that this book is certainly depressing in its sordid litany of lives ruined by drink, drugs, dissipation, sexual promiscuity and marital infidelities - Wilson is actually pursuing a thesis throughout: he clearly had a philosophical, almost spiritual reason for writing the book about his contemporaries and their successes and failures.

Indeed, as he approached the end of his life, Wilson seemed to be returning to the same focus as his second philosophical book: Religion and the Rebel - the necessity of a spiritual awakening, that Man needed a religion in order to live well. At times Wilson seems to argue himself right up to the very edge of theism, especially when analysing the demotivation and despair which overwhelmed so many of his friends, colleagues and acquaintances.

But to return to the theme of sex - and there is a lot about it; my conviction was again reinforced that sex has always been the nemesis of the recurrent romanticism revivals since 1800 - and that is what the Angry Young Men were. They were the British equivalent of the US Beat Generation, or the French Existentialists; and therefore in origin an 'attempted' or embryonic spiritual revival.

Whatever high ideals and ambitions were harboured by the best of these writers was wrecked on the writers unrepentant embrace and celebration of the sexual revolution. This took away much of the energy, created an atmosphere of exploitation and dishonesty, and blocked-off the only answer they could ever have found: Christianity. Consequently, they largely wasted their time and lives, running round in circles, showing off, and making excuses.

Wednesday, 5 October 2016


Is it possible to be patriotic without being nationalistic? As far as I can see the modern left/liberal consensus seems to be no. If you are one then you are almost inevitably going to be the other because the two are basically the same. But I think that's because the left takes a deformed version of the thing, the thing gone wrong, for the thing itself. Why is this? Could they be seeing what they want to see to justify a pre-conceived idea? I think that could well be so and the reason behind it is that they are primarily motivated by hate*. I don't say all, or even most, people tending to this belief system are like that but there are a number of people committed to the ideological left who are.  That is why they caricature love of one's country as antagonism towards other countries. This leads me to ask what their hatred is fundamentally of, and the most obvious answer seems to be that at root it is hatred of God. That, in fact, may be what the whole left wing project is based on.  I am sure there were originally nobler impulses at work, and there probably still are in the mix in many cases, but all the evidence from the French revolution onwards points to the fact that the prime motivation of the left, as in the dominating force behind it, is to banish God from the world.

I have put this to people on the left and most of them deny it while at the same time dismissing the idea of God as nonsense for children. Some even claim they would love for there to be a God and would gladly welcome evidence for it if there were any. But I find this disingenuous since there is plenty of evidence for God if one wants to find it. These people don't want to find it because they don't want there to be a God, and they don't want this because of what that would imply to their egos which are all important to them. They are rebels against truth because they cannot abide the idea that they are created beings with a duty to their Creator.

Patriotism means no more and no less than love of one's country. This includes its landscape, its people, its culture and its history but also something more, an indefinable spirit that nevertheless is clearly intuited by any real patriot. It is a natural and good human feeling. The man that does not love his country is not to be trusted because it is highly unlikely he can love anything. You may recognise certain things are wrong with the country but you do not fundamentally want to change it. It's the same as with a person. If you want to completely change a person you purport to love then you don't actually love that person at all. The patriot may hope for certain things to change but a root and branch transformation is the last thing he wants. When the left now claim to love England or America or wherever but want to radically transform them, or show no sign of concern that they are being radically transformed, you can bet your last dollar that they don't love those countries at all. What they want (love doesn't come into it) is an England or an America bent to the shape of their ideology because they are not concerned with real things but with abstractions and ideas. But this wouldn't be England or America any more because the result would be the same as in every other country on which they have imposed the same pattern, robbing each one of its innate individuality. Does love want to destroy the thing it loves?

This gives us a clue to what patriotism is. It is a concern with individuality. Many on the left don't seem to like real individuals but God does. He created us like that after all. Now, countries are not people but a true country does have this quality of individuality, and what patriotism is is a recognition of this quality and a desire to cherish it. Not to see it lost or trampled underfoot in the name of some so called higher uniformity. The fact that the true patriot, or I could just say the true person, loves his country does not mean that he looks down on other countries. In fact, I think that one true patriot would salute another, recognising a like minded individual. If I love my wife it doesn't mean I look down on you and your wife or dismiss the quality of your relationship. It's more likely I will respect that.

None of this means that patriotism cannot descend into nationalism but it is by no means a given. When love of one thing leads to hatred of another that's a corruption not a consequence. But then nor does it mean that all countries are necessarily equal. All are presumably valid on their own terms but some may be, at certain historical times, of more importance than others in the context of human development. I don't see how anyone could honestly deny this. But then patriotism is not about how important your country is. You love it for itself not for its achievements though you may well be proud of these and reasonably so.

I've written this piece in stream of consciousness mode and without an edit button switched on. It probably shows. But I hope the point I am trying to make comes through. Since this blog is by virtue of its subject fundamentally patriotic I thought I would attempt a brief and necessarily incomplete description of why patriotism is a good thing, and one that makes us more human not less so.

*I'm not happy about using this word but can't think of a better. What I really mean is 'againstness' or antipathy towards. Fundamentally it is that in a person which causes him to rebel against truth.

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

According to HG Wells (1934), modern Western Man is not civilized...

With the dawn of human foresight and with the appearance of a great surplus of energy in life such as the last century or so has revealed, there has been a progressive emancipation of the attention from everyday urgencies.

What was once the whole of life, has become to an increasing extent, merely the background of life.

People can ask now what would have been an extraordinary question five hundred years ago. They can say, "Yes, you earn a living, you support a family, you love and hate, but—what do you do?"

Conceptions of living, divorced more and more from immediacy, distinguish the modern civilized man from all former life.

From An Experiment in Autobiography (1934) by HG Wells

Note: This deep question version of 'what do you do?' was pretty commonplace up until, say, the early 1970s; but is now all-but absent from public discourse, and - I suspect - private conversation. It is a measure of our civilizational decline.

Any spiritual awakening would include a revival - in some version - of this question.

Monday, 3 October 2016

Christmas is coming...

An insightful correspondent writes:

I see that you have lately been writing concerning religious and spiritual matters, especially to do with the transcendental nature of the British Isles, and particularly of England... To this, I have very little to add except the very obvious:

Christmas is coming.

If there is still any remnant or understanding of Transcendental Christian Good in the hearts of the English, look for it in their faces and deeds at Christmas.

If there is any Magic left in England, it is strongest and nearest the surface at Christmas.

This is still true in spite of the Modern Cacophony that ever tries to drown it out. So obvious 'even' a child could spot it.

If spiritual revival is indeed coming, my guess would be that it will fall at Christmas; the religious festival to throw out the Dark.

Saturday, 1 October 2016

The Sleeping King

'The Kingdom of Heaven lies within'. Endless repetition might have dulled our senses somewhat to the significance of this phrase, so it's worth re-iterating that in the last analysis all things of value lie within the human heart and imagination. This isn't to imply that there is only the human heart and imagination. Far from it. The inner and outer interlink and dovetail together, a prime example being our latent sense of Royalty, this intangible but seemingly inbuilt human awareness of a Royal principle at work through the vicissitudes of the historical record.

Monarchy, seen in this light, is a natural and organic form of government, understood intuitively by individuals from widely varying backgrounds and levels of intelligence. Legitimacy is conferred from above (the Divine) rather than below (the people), but Monarchy remains part of the natural order and stands at a  substantial remove from random and artificial systems of government imposed on pliant, submissive populations. The Monarch is a symbol of his or her people's liberty - a guarantor of freedom of conscience and speech - existing not so much to rule as to serve. This Christological function finds expression in, among other places, the tales of King Arthur and his Knights, where we find a body of lore and a central mythological motif common throughout Europe and beyond - that of the Sleeping King, destined to wake at his country's hour of need.

The hold of Monarchy on the human imagination is markedly weaker today than at any time in the past. Since the Reformation and Renaissance, the focus and dynamism of the West has revolved around the external world, to the detriment of the inner milieu that animated Medieval mystics such as Julian of Norwich and inspired the construction of the great cathedrals of Canterbury, Wells, York, Durham, etc. Society has been de-sacralised and rationalised to such a degree since that it has become increasingly difficult for supra-rational concepts like Monarchy and religious mysticism to gain any degree of purchase in the contemporary imagination.

This link between Divinity and Royalty is a crucial one. In a well-ordered polity the Sovereign acts as God's regent; so when, for example, the Medieval French kings abrogated power from the Pope, they unwittingly undermined their own legitimacy and raison d'etre. Their lust for hegemony only succeeded in tipping the balance of the natural order askew and sowing the seeds of their own destruction.

Once this natural harmony is thrown out of kilter it becomes very hard to restore the balance. The French Revolution and the bloodbath which followed are suitable illustrations of the chaos which results from a shaken hierarchy. In the 1790s, however, matters had not yet descended to such a pass that the situation was wholly irretrievable, and Napoleon's more or less principled autocracy restored a little of the equilibrium and saved France from unmasked brutaliy. But by 1917 the world had been de-spiritualised to such an extent that the fall from revolution to tyranny was able to take place largely unimpeded. A semi-Arthurian figure like Bonaparte would have been unable to make an impression on post-1917 Russia simply because he belonged to a different era where the Royal principle still commanded a central (if somewhat diminished) position in hearts and minds.

C.S. Lewis famously remarked that 'one can tell the extent to which a man's tap root to Eden remains intact by his attitude to Monarchy.' Inner and outer harmony begin to disintegrate when this tap root, this intangible and utterly mysterious quality, is weakened and subsequently severed. If Man - the microcosm - falls into step with natural hierarchical patterns, then the outer world - the macrocosm - flows likewise in a harmonious fashion. The human heart is the point where microcosm and macrocosm meet, and it is here that the future of Monarchy - our own future as free and independent persons, in other words - will be decided. The heart is the throne of the Sleeping King. We will flounder and struggle to restore kudos and depth of meaning to Royalty in the outer world unless we come to acknowledge this Royal aspect within.

It will be a stiff task. Ours an obtuse, chatter-filled, technologically-driven age, where talk of 'hidden kings' and suchlike will inevitably appear obscure and inaccessible. Nonetheless, the responsibility and challenge is ours to start setting a creative, imaginative agenda, through our thoughts, words and deeds. There are forces arraigned against us, powers of iron and stone, seeking to rob us of vision, reducing us to impotent cogs in a vast collective machine or, failing that, to mindless, zombified consumers, the hungry ghosts of Buddhist iconography. 

It isn't good enough. Not for ourselves - the inheritors of Arthur and inhabitants of his holy realm. We are more, much more, than economic units shuffling around like atoms in some demented free-market disco. Our lives are more, much more, than a shapeless, rough and tumble scramble for comfort and security. Life is, or ought to be, an adventure, an exercise in nobility, and the traditional job of Monarchy is to serve as role-model and exemplar in that respect. 

As for us - as for the future - well, Restoration starts from within, with a heightening in our level of consciousness and a deepening of our perception. Our task, our mythological function and responsibilty, is a twenty-first century quest for the Golden Fleece - to unveil the Monarch within and awaken the Sleeping King.