Wednesday 31 January 2018

The Advent of Arthur

Rob Floyd, Summer Solstice (2012)


When the Emperor Honorius withdrew the Roman legions from Britain in the year 410, there were many who thought the country's collapse was close at hand. The land was plagued by pirates - Saxons to the South and East, Picts to the North and Irish from the West. How could the Britons survive without the might of Rome to protect them?

Later that year, Rome fell for the first time, while in Britain, Constantine the Strong - half-Roman, half-Briton - was crowned High King at Winchester. He made a new flag for the country - a red dragon on a gold background - and unfurled it for friend and foe to see from the highest tower in the city. He rallied the people, and for thirty years held all  enemies at bay.

But Vortigern, Prince of Gwynned, was jealous. He put poison in the High King's cup and killed him at the royal table. Vortigern was crafty. He had already won the support of a large number of nobles, promising them money and land and an easier life than they had ever had under Constantine.

As soon as the High King slumped face-forward, Vortigern's men drew their swords and ran through the castle, searching for Constantine's two teenage sons, Ambrosius and Uther. But they were nowhere to be seen. It was only on the eve of his coronation that Vortigern learnt the truth. The boys had been spirited away on the night of the murder by a mysterious stranger, a tall young man in a red and blue cloak. They were in Brittany now, already plotting their return. Many leading Britons had joined them there.

Vortigern, his reign barely begin, was consumed with anxiety. Sensing weakness, the Saxons thrust further inland than ever before, harrying Lincoln and the market towns of the East Midlands. The Picts stormed Hadrian's Wall again, while the Irish seized captives galore from the Welsh coast. Vortigern didn't know what to do. He wasn't the kind of leader who could inspire men to fight and die for him. His usual ploy was to offer them gold, but now he had no gold to give as he was spending it all fighting the barbarians and protecting his throne from Constantine's sons.

He withdrew to the mountains, gathered his druids and asked their advice. 'Stay here, O King,' they replied, 'and build a high tower. Call the master builders, pay them well with what little remains, and you will see a tower rise that neither force of arms nor guile can ever overthrow.'

Vortigen followed their guidance. The foundations were dug and the stones laid up. At the end of the first day the tower was halfway built, but the very next morning the builders arrived and found their work in ruins. Blocks and shards of stone lay scattered and strewn all over the hillside. And it was like that every morning for fourteen mornings. The tower was built by day and cast down by night. Vortigern called back his druids and demanded an explanation.

They studied their lore for three days and nights. Then the Chief Druid stood before the High King and said, 'My Lord, the gods require a sacrifice. You must find a man with no mortal father and slay him here in your throne room. Any man will do. The only thing needed is that his father must be immortal. Only then will they permit your tower to be built.'

Vortigen groaned. He didn't believe a word of it, but felt he had no choice in the matter. So he sent his messengers far and wide and was surprised the next evening when two of them returned with a tall young man in tow. He had a thatch of black hair; dark, deep-set eyes; and a hawk-like nose. He stood before Vortigern in the throne room, carrying himself with dignity and pride, as if he were the king and Vortigern the subject. The setting sun slanted in through the high, narrow windows, lighting up the stranger's haughty face.

'Who are you?' growled Vortigern.

'My name is Myrddin Emrys. In my home town, Carmarthen, I am known as Merlin.'

'Why are you here?'

'It is said in Carmarthen that my mother, Rheged of the Red Hair, was visited by an angel nine months before I was born. Some say an angel of God, others an angel of Lucifer. My mother died shortly after my birth so I never had chance to ask.'

'Kill him at once, Sire,' hissed the Chief Druid in Vortigern's ear. 'The gods grow impatient. He is dangerous too. I smell a threat to your throne.' But Vortigern waved him away. He was curious, and greatly struck by Merlin's nobility of bearing and speech.

'Tell me more,' he said. 'Who raised you after your mother died?'

'I was adopted by Blaise the Bald, the Hermit of the Northern Marches, he who lived to be a hundred and twenty and was reputed the wisest man in the Empire. He taught me many things, some of which will be of interest to your person.'

Vortigen leaned forward. 'What things?' he whispered.

'Blaise taught me wisdom,' said Merlin. 'He showed me how to look deeply: how to see beneath the surface of things. I have studied your tower and can tell you that sacrifice will be no use whatsoever. I say this not to save my life but because it is the truth. Come outside with me, order your men to dig  down beneath the foundations, and you will see.'

So Vortigern ordered everyone outside. The tower, which was made of white stone, loomed above them in the sunset, half-finished as it always was at the end of each day. The builders grumbled when they were told to keep working, but it wasn't long before they had dug down past the foundations and not long after that when suddenly there was no more earth to dig. A vast, round cavern opened up below them, with bare brown earth in the middle and grey rocks around the sides. Two mighty dragons lay sleeping on the rocks, a white dragon to the left and a red dragon to the right. 'Light your braziers,' said Merlin to Vortigern's servants. The sun sank, the torches were lit, and straightaway the dragons awoke, rushed together in the centre of the cave and started to fight. They flailed, clawed and belched out fire all night long. The ground shook and the tower trembled. At first the white dragon had the advantage. He pushed the red dragon back to the rocks until, around the third watch of the night, the red dragon turned the tide and thrust the white dragon back in turn. As dawn approached it seemed certain that the white dragon would be killed but somehow he recovered his strength and charged the red dragon until they were locked together furiously in the middle again. The tower fell at last with a mighty crash, and then, once the sound of tumbling masonry had ceased, a bell began to ring, far-away but clear as crystal in the pre-dawn air.

Vortigern knew the sound. It was the bell for Matins at Saint Martin's Monastery in Deganwy, over the mountains and by the sea. At the third chime the dragons turned away from each other, went back to their rocks and fell asleep at once. Vortigern ordered everyone back inside. Merlin stood before him in the throne room once again.

'What does all this mean?' asked the King.

'The fight,' replied Merlin, 'is a picture of Britain under your rule. The land is paralysed. There can be no peace - no victory for either side - as long as you sit on this throne.'

'No peace?' Vortigern interrupted, but Merlin raised his right hand imperiously and carried on talking.

'No peace,' he repeated. 'The white dragon stands for the Saxons, and the red for the Britons. The white dragon cannot kill the red. If it was your destiny, despite your present difficulties, you would find a way to turn the tables and drive the invader back, as far as the Saxon Shore and beyond. But he would only recover his strength, as the white dragon did, and come at you again, waging war for ever in the middle of your kingdom. But this is not your destiny, nor is it Britain's.'

'Destiny?' yelled Vortigern, standing up and towering over Merlin. 'What do you know about destiny - mine or my country's? Who gave you the authority to pontificate like this? Did Blaise teach you to see into the future as well?'

Merlin neither blinked nor flinched. 'Blaise,' he said, 'gave me wisdom, as I have said, but my father, the angel, gave me the gift of prophecy, and this is what I see. Very soon, Ambrosius and Uther will return to avenge their father. You will not escape. They will crush the Saxons, Picts and Irish, and one of them shall father a son who shall be the greatest king this land will ever know. He will never die and will come again in glory at the end of time to save this realm from its gravest peril and prepare the way for the second coming of Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.'

Vortigern sat back down, shaking his head, a broken reed all of a sudden. He knew, in his heart, that Merlin was speaking the truth.  His words and manner had the ring of authenticity. 'But what about me?' he pleaded. 'What must I do?'

'Repent and pray,' said Merlin softly, and he would have said more but one of Vortigern's men who had been watching Merlin closely stood before the High King and shouted, 'Sire, do not believe his weasel words. He is a traitor and a spy. For I have seen him before. On the night we slew Constantine. For it was this man and no other who shepherded his sons to safety.'

There was an almighty commotion and the King's men rushed forward to lay hands on Merlin, but right at that moment the sun rose outside, arrowing in through the high windows and blinding their eyes. When they could see again, Merlin had vanished - gone entirely - as if he had never been in the room at all, as if his presence and prophecies had all been as insubstantial as a dream.


That was exactly what Vortigern's druids told him. That it had all been a dream. But he had no more faith in them. He went to Deganwy instead and confessed his sins to the monks, repenting of the jealousy that had led him to kill Constantine. But everything fell out just as Merlin had predicted. Ambrosius and Uther landed at Falmouth three days later at the head of a great force. Three days after that and they were in Snowdonia, taking Vortigern's stronghold by storm. The fighting was brief but bloody. Vortigern was killed along with most of his men. Some of his druids escaped to the isle of Ynys Môn but Ambrosius, who was the elder brother, decided that too many lives had been lost already and chose not to pursue them. He was crowned High King at Stonehenge four weeks after, and it was Merlin himself who presented him with the royal and ancient British crown, first worn by Brutus the Trojan in the dim and distant days at the very beginning of our island's long, unfolding story.

From that day forth, Merlin was always by the side of one or both of the brothers, inspiring, guiding and illuminating. But Ambrosius, in truth, did not need too much advising. He knew his own mind very well. He had a silence and stillness about him as well that commanded respect - this lithe, slim figure, with his oval-shaped face and cap of dark hair. He had green eyes that the wise women said were twice as deep as the Irish Sea. He was a far-sighted man, a visionary leader, who meditated deeply on the rumours coming from Rome that the city had fallen for the second time. One more fall, he thought, and that will be the end of the Empire for ever. 'If only,' he told Merlin, 'we can make Britain strong enough so that when Rome falls again we can pick up the torch and restore the Empire here in this land, carrying the light of civilisation forward for generations yet unborn.'

Ambrosius, many believed, was well on the way to fulfilling his vision, but he met his death too soon - on a stag's antlers one crisp January morning while hunting in the Royal Forest. Merlin and Uther were far away, marching through the Wirral peninsula to head off a detachment of Irish. That night, a blazing comet scorched across the sky from East to West, bursting apart into two smaller comets, one of which broke up quite quickly in a spectacular display of fire and light. But the other kept going and going and growing and growing until it passed out of sight at the Western rim of the world, three times bigger, brighter and longer than the original comet. Merlin and Uther gazed up at the sky. Merlin sighed and put his hand on the young man's shoulder. 'Your brother, the High King, is dead. See, the first comet burns in his honour. But good shall come from his passing. The second comet is for yourself. You shall fight like a lion and go down in a blaze of glory. And the third comet is for your son, he whose advent I foresaw five summers ago in Vortigern's throne room, the great monarch who will restore all things for Christ, not once but twice.'

So Uther was crowned High King. But his coronation was a rushed and hurried affair, and he struggled for a while to set his lands in order, for the Saxons, Picts and Irish swooped down once more, hoping that Ambrosius' death had left the country rudderless and adrift.

Uther was as strong as an ox and as brave as any man who ever lived, before or since. But he wasn't as mentally sharp as Ambrosius and he relied on Merlin a lot to help him make the big strategic decisions. But after a few months he was happy enough with his progress to declare a week-long coronation party at Caerleon. He invited all of his nobles together and their wives, and that was the first time he set eyes on Ygraine, the wife of Gorlois, Duke of Cornwall. Uther was impulsive and hot-headed, and he fell in love at first sight, showering Ygraine with attention and gifts. She complained to her husband, and Gorlois took her back to Cornwall and his ancestral seat at Tintagel Castle.

Uther was furious and laid siege to the castle. Merlin counselled against it, as Gorlois was one of the King's best and most loyal generals. His castle was impregnable as well - perched high on the rocks, far above the waves. The only way in was to climb up a long, narrow causeway that only let one man pass at a time. Uther had brought ten thousand men with him but he might as well have come on his own for all the help such strength in numbers gave him.

The siege dragged on for fourteen days and nights. Many lives were lost. Merlin decided to visit the King's tent and urge him, as strongly as possible, to make peace. But as he stepped into the March night he beheld a star shining above the castle which hadn't been there before. It was green and translucent and throbbed and glowed like a ruby or sapphire. Merlin ran his hand through his hair and wondered what it might mean. Perhaps it was a sign? He returned to his tent. Better wait a night or two and see if the star remained. And it was there the next night, and the one after that, and the one after that. Merlin knew then that it was indeed a sign and that the great king to come was destined to be conceived at Tintagel. But how was he to get Uther over the causeway and into Ygraine's chamber?

He pondered the matter deeply. He had been to the castle as a boy with Blaise once, so he knew his way around a bit. He made up his mind and appeared in the King's tent exactly an hour before midnight. 'My Lord,' he began. 'It is time to speak plainly. You cannot win the Lady Ygraine by force. You must try another way.'

'What way might that be?' Uther asked wearily.

'Follow my instructions and I will give you two hours with Ygraine in her chamber.'

'Two hours!' snorted the King. 'I haven't come all this way and lost all these men for a measly two hours.'

Merlin nodded. 'Yet a measly two hours, O King, could lead to many more. Once you make a start and set the ball rolling, none of us - not even myself - can predict how destiny will work itself out.'

Uther threw up his hands. 'Very well. I give up. I can't go on bleeding my army dry, can I? What must I do?'

'Nothing. I will cast a spell and transform you into the very image of Gorlois. I will become the likeness of his right hand man, Briastus, and together, this very night if you wish, we will cross the causeway. No-one will think anything of it, only that Gorlois has left his camp to visit his wife.'

Two hours later, Merlin and Uther were on their way. 'Promise me this,' whispered Merlin as they approached the causeway. 'If by any chance Gorlois should be killed and you marry Ygraine, and if by any chance a child is born nine months after this night, then you will give that child to me and let me raise him.'

'I don't understand,' muttered Uther.

'Surely you have not forgotten what I told you on the night your brother died?'

'No, I have not forgotten. But a child, to be honest, is the last thing on my mind right now. I will do it if I can, but I doubt I will be able to. Gorlois is too shrewd a soldier to get himself killed.'

'Well, we'll see,' said Merlin.

The guards waved them through, and Merlin showed Uther the door to Ygraine's chamber. He withdrew to the courtyard, watching and waiting as the scudding clouds raced across the sky. The star, he observed, was shining brighter than ever, sparkling and twinkling in the raw spring air.

It was a long way back to the camp. When they got there, all the lanterns were lit and everyone was astir. Gorlois, inexplicably, had launched a night raid and had been killed in the subsequent skirmish. Uther was astonished. Gorlois was normally such a cautious general. But there it was, and one hour later Uther was back in the castle, not in disguise this time, but as himself - a conqueror.

He stayed for a year and a day. Ygraine sorrowed grievously for her husband, but over the following weeks and months she grew very fond of Uther and they were married on Mid-Summer's Eve.  He was aware from an early stage, of course, that Ygraine was pregnant. 'It is a mysterious thing,' she told him, 'that at the hour Gorlois was said to have been killed, he himself, or one exactly like him, visited me here in my chamber.' So Uther told her the truth - about the comet in the sky, Merlin's prophecy, and his own promise to hand the child over. Then Ygraine wept again. She had already lost a husband and now she was to lose a son. Yet she marvelled at the same time and wondered greatly at the extraordinary destiny predicted for the boy.


Uther kept his word and handed the babe to Merlin on a frost-flecked late-December night. Ygraine had wrapped him carefully and tenderly in white swaddling clothes to keep him warm. Merlin held him in the folds of his cloak and headed down the sands via a path through the rocks he had made himself and that no-one else knew existed. At the bottom was a cave, which he had carved out of the rock, and in the cave was a pool, and on the pool a wooden boat, which Merlin had spent the last two months building. He stepped aboard, unfurled the sail and pushed out the oar. He was voyaging to a secret place that Blaise had told him of years before, where the wise women who came often to Ambrosius would bring the boy up until the time was ripe for him to appear in the world.

Merlin rowed steadily for five minutes then turned around to look at the castle. It had disappeared into the night. Only the lanterns in the windows and the green star hovering above told him where it was. And as he looked he heard a noise - not with his ears but with his heart - far-away but crystal clear - the sound of falling towers and tumbling masonry. And he knew it was a sign and that Rome had fallen for the third and final time.

He kept looking and the star seemed to grow and expand and change colour, so that it was as big as the sun and not just green any more but green, red, gold, blue and white, all together and all at the same time. It whirled and spun like a wheel of rainbow fire, faster and faster, fizzing and crackling, until it burst asunder into ten thousand shafts of light, a legion of shooting stars, filling the firmament and bathing the world in warm, rejuvenating light. And then, one by one, the spears of wondrous light dipped and fell into the sea - splash after splash after splash after splash, leaving silence and peace in their wake as an almighty hush descended. The silence of the Holy Spirit, thought Merlin - the richest, deepest silence, stillness and peace that he had ever known. 

He held the child tight in the crook of his arm, turned back to the sea and pushed out the oar again. And all he could hear was the beating of his heart, the lapping of the waves and the soft, rhythmic breathing of a new-born babe.

Monday 29 January 2018

Sad, true, but partial reality of the social media/ smartphone world

An astute and hard-hitting - albeit cynical, bitter and despairing - animation by Steve Cutts. Much too close to my daily experience to be written-off.

What is missing is the spiritual and Christian perspective that points to something better; because - taken at face value - this animation tends to reinforce the bottom-line morality of materialistic and hedonic values... It is based on the assumption that what-is-wrong is insufficient real peace, prosperity, kindness, comfort and excitement.

It does not challenge the distinctively-modern assumption that these values are what-life-is-about; merely suggest that the masses are being fed a fake, a simulacrum, via their smartphones.

The implicit 'message' is that what is wanted is that such things be really-real - not virtual.

But this is wrong, because many people already had such things; and before the current utter dominance of personal social media - there was (for many people, in many places) a world of substantial peace, prosperity, kindness, comfort and excitement... But it was not enough!

Materialism is not enough, and that was the good insight of the late sixties and early seventies counter-culture; when it was last recognised that materialism is not the answer, and indeed the attainment of material success in The West brought the fact into stark prominence. Material problems were solved - and yet the core problems of Life remained, untouched.

Since then, the Western masses have 'dealt with' this factual reality by ignoring it; by simply Not-Thinking - helped by the near universal addiction to the distractions of the mass and social media, and self-gratifying consumerism generally (plus drugs). Masses of people go through almost all of their life in a stunned, delirious and distracted state - never thinking about anything for more than a few minutes, tops...

This is the sense in which Albion and The West is asleep; albeit the sleep often involves frantic, ultra-short feedback-loop mental activity.

This is the state from which we must awaken - even though that awakening will initially be experienced as a slowing, an under-stimulation, a feeling of boredom - by contrast with the normal-everyday Western psychological state of hyped-up, brain-frantic insensibility.

Thursday 25 January 2018

What is Evolution?

Years ago I wrote a book (never published) which I called From Savage to Sage. It attempted to outline the unfoldment of human consciousness from its early state of absorption in nature through our current mode of consciousness to an eventual godlike state of active union with the whole of life. The process was summed up as going from unfallen Adam to fallen Adam to risen Christ, otherwise a state of unconscious union to conscious separation and then finally to conscious union.

It is this process, I believe, that is the real meaning of evolution. It is therefore evolution of consciousness, though the form may also evolve, the better to express the more developed consciousness. In complete contradistinction to our current understanding of evolution, this is not a random development but fully purposeful, and the process is like that from a seed to a tree in that the end result is already present, though in an inchoate form, right from the very beginning. This is evolution as in unfoldment of something existing, in potential, at least, at the start.

We have come a long way. We have left behind our spiritual childhood of instinctive union with nature and moved out of that infantile condition, separating ourselves from the natural world which we have then sought to 'conquer' and bring under our will. This is all right and proper, and helps us develop our innate will and intelligence, two things associated with a sense of self. And this is precisely what we have been doing, developing our sense of an individual self. Early man either did not have this at all or else had it in a limited way. His consciousness would have been tribal before it was individual.

So we have made great progress on our evolutionary journey and are now right in the stage of separation, which is the result of our focus on self. But here is the problem. We should have moved on from this. We should have started to re-embrace a spiritual world view and begin the journey back upwards, envisioning this journey in the form of a U where the top left is the start of the journey, the bottom is our current position and the top right is spiritual completion.

We should have done this but we haven't. We have got stuck in what some people describe as a case of arrested adolescence. Since we are basically rebelling against our Creator, our Father, and asserting ourselves and our independence, that is a good description. The rejection of tradition, the sexual revolution, the all-pervasive leftism, the concern with image and the attempts by the old to emulate the young all point to the same conclusion of spiritual immaturity.

In all its details this process is immensely complicated but fundamentally it is very simple. God creates human beings as individual souls with free will. This is a real creation not a semblance of such. He gives them (us) part of himself, his own reality, and we share in his being even to the extent of being potential little gods ourselves. His children, in fact. God does this for two reasons. One, his nature is love so he wants to share, to give. And two, so that his creation may be more interesting to him. Imagine a creation that runs like clockwork. Pretty dull really. But imagine if you create something and that has the potential to create itself from within. Then you can observe the results which might be surprising even to you, the original creator. Of course, this is crudely expressed and might appear to ignore the fact (I don't think it does really) that God sees the whole of time now, in this very moment, but it does, I believe, cover something of God's purpose in creation.

We start as new born spiritual babes, one with our environment and not consciously separated out from that. But then as we grow and start to explore and experience the world we become more aware of ourselves as the inner subject. As time goes by, the inner subject dominates our consciousness more than the outer object though our lives exist as an interaction between the two. But eventually we become wholly identified with the inner subject, and this results in a sense of alienation which is fairly obviously our current position. It's the bottom of the evolutionary arc. Now is the time to ascend, to go back to the understanding and realisation that we are one with life and to become full participants (I'm borrowing this phrase from Bruce Charlton's writings) in the wholeness of being, but this time in an active, conscious mode which includes creativity and will. Thus attempts to revert to the securities of spiritual childhood, which range from fundamentalist religion to neo-paganism along with a whole host of other manifestations of escapism, are not what is required.

The solution is to grow up spiritually, which we do by accepting the transcendent dimension of life and then seeking to attune ourselves to it though a conscious attempt to think and to know according to its reality. We move from the Adamic state of passive oneness with life, or nature, to a self-consciousness in which the sense of separation is primary, but that means that freedom can start to be known and will developed. That, in turn, leads to the prison of the self-enclosed ego. We have to break out of that, and the only way is to seek our true being in God. Not in the sense of being absorbed by him. The aim is to become conscious partners with God in an ever-expanding celebration of creation. Not equal partners, of course, but joined in a relationship of oneness in love.

So much for the path to be trodden, but how, practically speaking, do we tread it? I think the key to it all is Christ. He was the forerunner who showed us the way but he is also, as he said, himself the Way. It is through him that the path is trodden. He cannot be set aside or even regarded as one way amongst many. He is the Way and the Goal.

Saturday 20 January 2018

The nature and aim of Christianity, now (from Rudolf Steiner)

Edited from Life between Death and Rebirth - a lecture by Rudolf Steiner from 1913.

We will need to bring understanding to every human soul in its essential character. For this communion we can only prepare by gaining an understanding of all religious confessions.

Prior to the Mystery of Golgotha this was not necessary, because the experiences in the spiritual world were each different then. Now it has become essential, and the correct understanding of Christianity is a preparatory step toward it. 

We cannot encounter what constitutes the essential being of Christianity in other religious creeds. It is not correct to place Christianity next to other religious creeds. Indeed, perhaps certain Christian confessions are narrow-minded. Nevertheless, Christianity - rightly understood - bears within it the impulse to grasp all religious creeds and tendencies.

How has the Westerner grasped Christianity? Consider Hinduism. Only those belonging to the Hindu race can be adherents of it. If a racial religion were prevalent in Europe, for instance, we would still have a Wotan cult today that would be the equivalent of an occidental racial religion. 

But the West has accepted a confession that did not arise out of its own folk-substance. It came from the East. Something was accepted that could only work through its spiritual content. The Christ impulse cannot be sucked up into a racial or folk religion. 

(Actually, the folk among whom the Christ appeared did not acknowledge Him. That is the remarkable fact about Christianity. It contains the seed enabling it to become the universal religion.)

One need not take an intolerant attitude toward other religions. The mission of Christianity does not consist in bringing dogma to people. Naturally the Buddhist smiles at a confession that does not even contain the idea of reincarnation. Such a confession must appear to him as erroneous. 

Christianity rightly understood, however, presupposes that every man is a Christian in his inner being. If you go to a Hindu and say to him, “You are a Hindu and I am a Christian,” it will be seen that you have not understood Christianity. Christianity has been truly understood only if you say of the Hindu, “Inwardly this Hindu is as good a Christian as I am. He has as yet only had the opportunity to become acquainted with a preparatory confession. I must endeavor to show him where his religion and mine correspond.”  The best thing would be for Christians to teach Hinduism to the Hindus and then attempt to take Hinduism a stage further so that the Hindu could gain a point of contact with the general stream of evolution. 

We understand Christianity only if we look upon each individual as a Christian in the depth of his heart. Only then is Christianity the religion that transcends race, color and social position. That is Christianity.

We enter a new age. Christianity can no longer work in the way it did over the last centuries. It is the task of anthroposophy to bring about the new understanding of Christianity that is needed. In this connection the anthroposophical view of the world is an instrument of Christianity. 

Among the religions of the earth, Christianity has appeared last. New religions cannot be founded anymore. Such foundations belong to the past. They followed one another and brought forth Christianity as the last flower. 

Today the task is to form and apply the impulse of Christianity. That is why in our spiritual scientific movement we endeavour to consider all the religions of the world more consciously than heretofore, and in loving participation. In this way we also prepare ourselves for the period between death and rebirth when we experience loneliness if we cannot perceive and have no access to other souls within this realm.

This excerpt, and the lecture it comes from, is a representative sample of Steiner and encapsulates my attitude to him.

There seems to me great insight and wisdom here - necessary for the future of Albion and the West in general; and yet I am clear that there are aspects that I don't accept, and which I regard as mistaken. I don't accept Steiner's views on reincarnation - although I am not hostile to them (and they seem similar to the convictions of William Wildblood). There are many other things in the full lecture that seem just mistaken, or wrong-headed...

I am puzzled by his having not mentioned Islam - which came after Christianity and is now at least as large a religion and growing fast by natural increase and conquest. But at the time Steiner was writing, it did look to many Western people as if Islam was on the road to extinction - certainly it was at its lowest ebb around 1900.

Yet, ultimately, any Christian would have to agree with Steiner that Christianity is the 'last' religion, although its nature has developed considerably.

Some further sentences from this lecture are also inspiring to me - when extracted and edited from their accretions:

Since the Christ has united Himself with the earth, we have to gain an understanding on earth for the Christ. We have to bring a Christ understanding with us because otherwise the Christ cannot be found after death

That is the important factor — that the understanding of the Christ must be stimulated on the earth. Only then it also can be preserved in higher worlds.

The Christ impulse stands as a fulcrum at the center of earth evolution, the point from which the ascending curve begins. 

To maintain that Christ can appear repeatedly on earth is like saying that the beam of a balance must be supported at two points. But with such scales one cannot weigh. A conviction of this sort is as senseless in relation to the physical world as the statement made by certain occultists that Christ goes through repeated earth lives. 

One has gained an understanding of the Christ impulse only if one is able to grasp that the Christ is the only god who has gone through death, and hence first had to descend to the earth.

Thursday 18 January 2018

The English Radical Tradition - discrimination by Christian motivation

I am currently reading a very interesting book by Geoffrey Ashe - The Offbeat Radicals: the British tradition of alternative dissent. As always with this author, this is full of insights; yet it lacks the necessary Christian framework.

I accept that - quite often - the radical critique was at least partially-valid, often it was mostly-valid; yet if we consider the motivation of radicals, then it becomes clear that most of them were materialists.

Ashe includes William Blake, and he has many excellent things to say about Blake; but he makes the error (at time) of 'bracketing' Blake with Shelley, as if they were both the same kind of thinker and writer. But; although both Blake and Shelley were extremely critical of Established Christianity - their fundamental motivations were opposite.


When considering radical ('romantic') critique of The Establishment in general, and the Christian Church/ Priests in particular, it is vital to distinguish by motivation.

In particular whether - like Blake  - the author is critical of The Establishment because its Christianity is too feeble, restricted, impersonal, insufficient - or whether - like Shelley or Byron - the Establishment criticism is because Christianity is too oppressive, too restrictive of liberty and license.

Blake wanted Christianity to be a total perspective and medium of the whole of life - he wanted Christ and spirituality to dominate the inner life of everyman; however, Shelley and Byron wanted to be rid of Christian restrictions, to clear space for them to do what they personally very much wanted to do - which was often sexual: sex with people forbidden by Christianity.

It would be foolish to neglect the revolutionary sexual impulse behind radicalism - sex may even be the primary albeit covert motivation for radicalism, for which politics was only an excuse.

Certainly that would seem plausible from here-and-now; when mainstream-Left political 'radicalism' (and anti-Christian propaganda and coercion) is almost-wholly focused on the sexual revolution. And almost all of the anti-Christian radicals listed by Geoffrey Ashe lived-by and advocated one (or many) aspects of the sexual revolution.


My attitude to the post 1780-ish romantic-radicalism is that something indeed needed to be done; but the proper question is what?

Radicals were objectively-wrong to suggest that poverty was the main problem and economics ought to be the focus of reform.

This was an error; based on the fact that after the industrial revolution the poor would survive in poverty rather than simply dying.

From about 1800, the poor raised large (poor) families such that several children reached adulthood; instead of (pre-1800) typically failing to raise any children at all - they would have died in infancy or childhood. In other words, from 1800-ish there was a lot more poverty - but only because there was less mortality; evidence for which is that the British population grew very rapidly, and mostly among the poor.

(An analogous situation can be seen in recent Africa - In the past the child mortality rates were colossal such that the African population was stable and low. But Western medicine nowadays enables most African children to survive, in extreme poverty. Mass African poverty is therefore a product of Westernisation/ the industrial revolution; much as mass 19th century British poverty was a product of economic and technological progress, and a rise in standards of living.)


So radicalism can be divided into the worldly-hedonic on the one side (e.g. Shelley and Byron) - the typical Leftist radicalism which seeks as the primary (and only) goal to enhance short-medium term happiness in mortal life, and/or alleviate suffering in mortal life. Mortal life is an end-in-itself; and indeed the only end.

The contrast is with the radical religious motivation (e.g. Blake and Coleridge) - which is to enhance motivation, energy, purpose, spiritual depth, morality, beauty and truth - by orientating mortal life to its ultimate and eternal goals. To a significant extent, this entails regarding mortal life as a means to eternal ends - certainly not as an end in-and-of itself.


For example; the Leftist-atheist radical is typically against priests, and wants there to be no priests at all (or else feeble and ineffectual and optional priests: priesthood as a 'job') - because for them priests represent oppression and limitation. Whereas a Christian radical may be against priests on the grounds that every Man should be his own priest. So the contrast is between no priests, and everyone a priest.

With respect to authority; a Leftist radical want no authority and multiple truths, each having his own, and authority must not constrain this. Whereas a Christian radical sees it as a matter of each Man being his own best authority (because no external authority can be trusted with my soul - unless I personally choose so to trust), with every sincere Christian over time freely and spontaneously-converging on the single truth.

The Leftist radical sees the main problem as physical-material oppression with physical-material solutions; whereas (in stark contrast) the Christian radical sees the main problem as oppression by material-ism: that mental oppression that regards Man as essentially an animal... In other words exactly what Blake most railed-against.


Thus the Leftist and Christian romantic-radicals have opposite motivations, and Blake and Shelley ought not to be bracketed together!

Wednesday 17 January 2018

The Best Image of Christ by an English Painter?

(Note: This post is something in the way of a companion to the previous one).

William Holman Hunt painted more than one version of his famous painting The Light of the World. The original, painted in 1853, is at Keble College, Oxford, and there is a second one at Manchester City Art Gallery. But my favourite is the one below in St Paul's Cathedral. 

This was painted fifty years after the first in collaboration with Edward Robert Hughes, and is thought to represent Holman Hunt's last word on the subject. It's my favourite because of Christ's face. It's in shade in the reproduction above but here it is close up.

The painting shows Christ knocking at the door of the human soul, and is based on the text from Revelation."Behold I stand at the door and knock; if any man hear my voice and open the door I will come in to him, and will sup with him  and he with me". It is rich in symbolism. The door is covered with overgrown weeds indicating that the spiritual life of the individual concerned, who is Everyman, has been neglected. It has no handle, showing that it cannot be opened from the outside. We have to make the move to invite Christ into our heart. The night sky with a bat flying at top left above the midpoint between Christ's hand and head (obscured here unfortunately but you will see it if you zoom in) shows that the hour is late, and the fallen apples by his feet refer back to the Garden of Eden and our fall from divine grace.

The painting is called The Light of the World referring to the passage from St John in which Jesus says I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." There are two lights depicted. The first is that of Christ himself, his halo, and the second is the lantern he carries which is what shows us the way to eternal life, and maybe eventually is passed to us so that we too may have the light within ourselves. Spiritual truth and reality is best understood in terms of light, and Christ is spiritual light personified. I don't mean this as a metaphor. I think it is literally true.

This painting became extraordinarily popular in the early 20th century. It was described as a sermon in a frame, which indeed it is, and it even went on a world tour, visiting many towns in Canada, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, and supposedly being seen by millions of people in the process. Reproductions hung in church halls, schools and nurseries. I venture to say it might have inspired many with a greater love for Jesus Christ than countless more conventional sermons achieved at the time. Such is the power of the  true artist.

Tuesday 16 January 2018

Christ is the Doorway to Eternal Life

Everyone comes to spirituality from a slightly different perspective, reflecting their life conditions, personal inclinations, experiences, upbringing, culture etc. So we will all have a slightly different take on it. That's only to be expected and more of a good thing than a bad since it prevents petrification of truth and keeps multiple expressions of it open, advantageous because no one expression can capture all of it. Nor can multiple expressions for that matter but they can incorporate different sides.

But the fact of these various spiritual perspectives and expressions cannot be taken too far. Truth is truth. There is only one truth even if it can take different forms. Moreover all truth for us human beings is centred on Christ who embodies it, who actually is it.

That is why an image that came into my head seems a viable one. It is this. 

Ignore the colour. That's not relevant. But what I thought was that human beings come at spirituality from many directions but ultimately these must all converge on Christ who is at the centre of this symbol. So the lines on the left of the X represent human beings in this world. The image only includes the outermost lines. You have to imagine multiple lines between these two representing the great variety of different people. But they all have, or should have if they are to conform to the real, a common focus which is Christ at the centre. He is the doorway through which we all must pass to gain entry to the kingdom of heaven which is on the right of the X symbol. Once through that door we may all find diverse expressions of our realisation but these all are coloured by and centred on the reality of Christ. Going through that doorway in the centre indelibly marks the soul with its quality.

You might say that, according to this symbol, Christ is not actually in heaven himself but it's only meant to be a representation of how human beings approach truth and of their access to it. It only shows Christ in his aspect of doorway to reality. And the fact that it looks a bit like the cross of St George turned to one side is coincidence. At least, I think it is.

Friday 12 January 2018

Redditor Lucis Aeternae

I am currently reading The Anathemata by David Jones, a book-length poem, published in 1952, exploring the cultural and spiritual history of Britain. Here is a brief extract. The speaker is 'The Lady of the Pool', a kind of Medieval tutelary spirit of London:

    And then, as if he perceived a body - coming
as if he hails a personage
                          where was but insentience
and baulk of stone
                          he sings out and clear:
These, captain, were his precisive words - what sentiments I
can't construe - but at which, captain, I cried: Enough!
                          Let's to terrestrial flesh, or
bid good-night, I thought.

And here is a footnote provided by the poet to illuminate the Latin phrase:

REDDITOR LUCIS AETERNAE - 'Restorer of the Eternal Light'; this is inscribed on a gold medallion found at Beauvains near Arras, struck to commemorate the relief of London in AD 296 by  the Emperor, Constantius Chlorus, the husband of St. Helena (and father of Constantine the Great). He is mounted and with a lance, his horse stepping down from the gang-plank of a boat at a turreted gateway inscribed LON, where a female figure kneels with welcoming arms. The words, 'Redditor, etc.' are inscribed above the figure of the Emperor. Although this may but commemorate a chance victory in a war of rival generals, none the less Constantius, at that moment, was the outward sign of something and was himself the implement of what he signified, namely: in the domain of accidental fact, the saving of London from immediate sack; in the domain of contemporary politics, the restoration of Britain to unity with the West, and in the domain of perennial ideas, the return to Britain of the light of civilisation. (p.134)

In AD 296, the Roman naval commander, Carausius, usurped control of Britain and northern Gaul and declared himself joint-Emperor. The Imperial government found him a difficult opponent and Britain remained under localised, independent rule until Constantius' expedition ten years later. The episode (known as the Carausian Revolt) is superbly dramatised in Rosemary Sutcliff's 1957 novel, The Silver Branch. Here, Carausius sets out his stall before the two young soldiers, Justin and Flavius:

'The Wolves gather,' Carausius said. 'Always, everywhere, the Wolves gather on the frontiers, waiting. It needs only that a man should lower his eye for a moment, and they will be in to strip the bones. Rome is failing, my children.'

Justin looked at him warily, but Flavius never moved; it was as though he had known what Carausius would say.

'Oh, she is not finished yet. I shall not see her fall. My Purple will last my life-time - and nor, I think, will you. Nevertheless, Rome is hollow rotten at the heart, and one day she will come crashing down. a hundred years ago, it must have seemed that all this was for ever; a hundred years hence - only the gods know ... If I can make this one province strong - strong enough to stand alone when Rome goes down, then something may be saved from the darkness. If not, then Dubris light and Limanis light and Rutupiae light will go out. The lights will go out everywhere.' 

He stepped back, dragging aside the hanging folds of the curtains, and stood framed in their darkness against the firelight and the lamplight behind him, his head yet turned to the scudding grey and silver of the stormy night. 'If I can steer clear of a knife in my back until the work is done, I will make Britain strong enough to stand alone,' he said. 'It is as simple as that.' (pp.36-37)

Unfortunately for Carausius, and perhaps for the country, he did not escape a knife in the back. He was assassinated in AD 293 by his finance minister, Allectus, who clung onto power until the Roman reconquest. 

The Carausian revolt erupted just a decade after the end of the so-called 'Gallic Empire', where, between AD 260 and 274, the usurper, Postumus, had assumed control of Britain and Gaul in an almost identical manner. It surprises me greatly that none of this history, so far as I can tell, has been referred to in the endless media commentary surrounding Brexit. Carausius, in many ways, can be seen as the first Euro-sceptic. His revolt shows that in some sense Britain is indeed 'set apart', as William Wildblood cogently argued in his post 'Albion Set Apart' on 18th November 2017. 

Britain, on this view, is temperamentally unsuited to life as one cog among many in a giant European power-bloc. Geographically, the UK stands at one remove from the continent and that needs to be reflected in the way the country is governed. Britain, as Carausius intuited, is a nation that needs to find her own way in the world. She is independent by nature and it would be going against the grain  to corral her into compliance with a supra-national, overseas authority, especially one perceived to be 'hollow rotten at the heart.'

So far, so straightforward. But there is more going on here. Jones talks about the 'restoration of Britain to unity with the West' and the 'return of Britain to the light of civilisation.' For him (and the designer of the Beauvains coin), the restoration of direct Roman rule is clearly a good thing. But that is because Constantius openly declares himself the representative and restorer of a higher principle - the 'eternal light' of civilisation, heaven and the gods. The contrast with the European Union, jumping to contemporary times, couldn't be more stark. One of the great misjudgements of the Remain campaign, in my view, was to conflate Europe with the EU. Europe is a civilisation - at least 3000 years old - and a vast physical space, stretching from the Mayo coastline to the Ural Mountains. The EU is an institution, no different in essence from any other institution - Barclays Bank, for instance, or Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs. It exists to maintain and perpetuate itself. It is grey, bureaucratic and faceless, with little of the romance, glamour and rebel-chic some Remainers project onto it. It has no links with any higher principle, as symbolised by the EU flag, twelve yellow stars in a circle on a blue background with absolutely nothing in the centre. You would get extremely long odds on a functionary like Jean-Claude Juncker styling himself Redditor Lucis Aeternae. Juncker himself would be appalled at the thought, and that says everything, to my mind, about where his institution stands spiritually and philosophically. Nowhere at all, in brief.

The EU's big problem is that it has no spiritual dimension whatsoever. It doesn't know how to connect with people on the level of spirit and imagination. It has no spark, no fire, and has, in recent years, become increasingly hostile to the Gospel despite the religious faith of its founders and its roots in post-war Christian Democracy. More sobering than the EU's shortcomings, however, is the sad fact that were a Restorer of the Eternal Light to turn up at a British port tomorrow he would most likely be deported straightaway. It is someone or something on this level, I believe, that 52% of the British people were, perhaps unconsciously, voting for in the 2016 referendum. Something essentially spiritual. But this has been not been understood, acknowledged or reflected in all the debate that has gone on since in Westminster and the media. Pro-Leave circles are perhaps the worst. A paper like The Daily Telegraph, for instance, views Brexit exclusively in terms of its potential for economic growth and increased global trade. It doesn't see it as an opportunity for spiritual and cultural renewal. It doesn't even go there, and this, I feel, is emblematic of a stunning lack of imagination and independent thought running right through the UK establishment.

The Brexiteers would be better advised to start forging links with the EU's Central and Eastern European members, particularly the 'Visegrad Four' of Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. These countries have displayed a fierce national pride and a feisty independence of spirit in their recent dealings with Brussels. Decades of communist tyranny havre taught them the value of their own national patrimony and also the preciousness and precariousness of European civilisation as a whole. They are also (with the possible exception of the Czech Republic) profoundly Christian in outlook and orientation. In November 2016, for example, the Polish government officially placed the nation under the patronage of Christ the King, while Hungary's President, Viktor Orban, recently said this:

'Ever more frequently nowadays I hear that sixty years ago the European Union's founding fathers marked out the route. Europe, as Robert Schuman said, will be Christian or it will be nothing. The year 2017 has presented European countries with a historic task. A new task has been given to the free nations of Europe and the national governments elected by free citizens. We must protect Christian culture. We must do this not to oppose others, but to defend ourselves, our families, our nation, our countries and Europe, "the homeland of homelands,"'

Now, I'm not naive enough to think that the V4 don't have challenges and temptations of their own, but they are at least facing in the right direction, which is probably more than can be said for the UK at this moment. The only thing that can reorient us, I believe, is something that will never happen because the world today is so addicted to restlessness and ceaseless change. Britain needs to step off the wheel, in short. She needs to take a break and gather her thoughts, pressing the pause button for as long as it takes, so her inhabitants can start to feel their way into the essence and soul of the country, beginning to think seriously about what British identity is and what kind of relationships we would like to have, first of all between the UK's four constituent parts, then towards Europe, and finally to the world beyond.

Such a space for quiet recollection will never be officially sanctioned, as I say, but there's nothing to stop us engaging in it ourselves as individuals or groups. We could read John Michell's The Traveller's Key to Sacred England, maybe, and visit some of the sites he mentions. For more on this, please see Bruce Charlton's post of 4th January 2018. Or, as Bruce also suggests, we could read Geoffrey of Monmouth's, History of the Kings of Britain, or immerse ourselves in any of the titles discussed in William's Albion Awakening Booklist post of 17th December 2017.

Whatever we choose to do, it is less opinion and debate that is required and more thought and reflection. We have become fixated, to a degree, on political procedures and solutions. But there is a pre-political level of myth and intuition which drives the direction a society takes at a more fundamental level. It's all about the kind of stories we tell ourselves and the stories we believe to be true or false. We need to return for a while to the primal, archetypal level of things, then tune back in to the land we have become alienated from, and listen to the story it's telling us. Where does it want to go? What does it want us to do? Then we can step forward into the future in confidence and clarity of mind.

Maybe what emerges from our time in the wilderness will appear strange and unsettling. The Russian Orthodox priest, Fr. Andrew Phillips, has proposed on his blog ( the dissolution of the UK and its replacement by another acronym, IONA - The Isles of the Northern Sea. He wants Westminster to become the site of a devolved English Parliament and for central government to relocate to the Isle of Man, an island rich in British mythological lore and within sight, as it were, of all four countries.

It could well be that such a radical reimagining of who we are is exactly what is needed to propel us out of the current impasse. But nothing authentic or original will come to the surface without contemplation and stillness. We have to get beyond the head level - into the heart, the imagination and the guts. Argument and counter argument will get us precisely nowhere. We'll be stuck at the level of cliché forever, more and more dependent on the market and the state (and increasingly technology) to provide us with answers to problems we don't have the imaginative capacity to deal with any more. 

Silence is the key. As Cardinal Robert Sarah points out in his recent book, The Power of Silence:

Mankind must join in a sort of resistance movement. What will become of our world if it does not look for intervals of silence? Interior rest and harmony can flow only from silence. Without it, life does not exist. The greatest mysteries of the world are born and unfold in silence. How does nature develop? In the greatest silence. A tree grows in silence, and springs of water flow at first in the silence of the ground. The sun that rises over the earth in its splendour and grandeur warms us in silence. What is extraordinary is always silent. (p.34)

The still small voice that Elijah heard on Mount Horeb is there for nations just as much as it is for individuals. And it is that still small voice - more than any Emperor, military commander or  referendum result - which is the true Redditor Lucis Aeternae.

Monday 8 January 2018

Who was the real Merlin? From Geoffrey Ashe

From Merlin the prophet and his history, by Geoffrey Ashe, 2006.

(Ruthlessly edited from the Epilogue - pages 218-221.)


Merlin stands alone, and there is nobody like him.

The Britons had a paramount god who was comparable to Apollo - who was, among other things, a god of inspiration and prophecy. Britain was his 'precinct' or temenos, and he was Britain's tutelary deity.

This god has a special association with Moridenum (Carmarthen, Wales); and thus acquired the sobriquet Myrddin, which applied both to himself and to those inspired by him. Ambrosius and Lailoken were Myrddin-men, or simply Myrddins.

Geoffrey of Monmouth picked up the sobriquet and made the change from Myrddin to Merlin.

There were thus several Merlins, perhaps many. But if we want a Merlin par excellence, the original of the main legend, the place to look is Dina Emrys. Here the Merlin who speaks the prophecies is localised at a place which is known to have been occupied at the right time by someone who could be identical with him. Here story joins hands with archaeology.

As for Merlin's final fate, preference is a matter of taste... Legend traces him in several directions, to several eventual ends, after his triumphant years as royal adviser and magician. He dies at Marlborough and is buried under an inordinately big mound. Or he passes into suspended animation in Cornwall or Brittany.

Or, Merlin is alive and well, and living on Bardsey Island. His dwelling is an invisible house of glass. Some say he is asleep, but he may not be. If awake and active, he is not alone: he has nine companions.

Merlin is the guardian of the Thirteen Treasures of the Island of Britain - things of power that embody Britain's ancestral magic. Among them are the Chessboard of Gweddolau, the Chariot of Morgan the Wealthy, the sword of Rhydderch the Generous, a cloak of invisibility that once belonged to Arthur, the red coat of Padern, horns of plenty and talismanic objects that test valour and virtue.

No one knows what the Treasures look like, and they may have the same shape-shifting qualities as their custodian.

Finally, Merlin also has the true throne of Britain, and will enthrone Arthur when the king returns...

Who else, indeed, would have that right?

Sunday 7 January 2018

False Awakening

In a recent post on his blog Bruce Charlton made the following point. The original post is here.

Bruce wrote, "If we challenge only one aspect of the falsehood, while continuing to accept another falsehood, then we are still living in falsehood. Only when all of the foundational falsehoods are challenged simultaneously can we escape the Matrix." 

This is a perennial problem in the world of spirituality and religion. We may break out of the prison of materialism and atheism, and adopt a spiritual world view of some sort but this may well be based on illusion. Just because something is called spiritual does not mean it is true. There are many people propagating half truths these days, partially true but incomplete spiritual speculations emanating from the lower mind. I expect that's always been the case but the problem is greater now because there are so many people who take their spirituality from multiple sources, including not just revealed religion but personal experience and conjecture too, and mix them together to form a subjective version of what passes with them for truth. I admit I do that to an extent myself because there is no one thing that incorporates the full truth in this world, but I would also maintain that there is a big difference between someone who does this under the guidance of an awakened intuition and someone (to be honest, the majority) who does this from the more limited and less spiritually objective position of their own mind and personal preferences.

False awakening is different to partial awakening. However in one sense all awakening is partial but there is that which is partial but sufficient for our current stage of development, and then there is that which is incomplete even for where we are now. Usually the latter is still dominated by what Bruce has called residual positivism in which the individual adopts a spiritual position but fits that into his pre-existing worldly, materialistic assumptions, whether these be inspired by leftism, Darwinism, feminism or any one of a number of currently fashionable ideologies. Of course, the correct procedure is exactly the opposite to this. Spiritual awakening requires one to reassess all one's previous assumptions and to see them from above. If it is cut down so that it accords with already existing beliefs, it is fairly useless. That is because the point of a spiritual awakening is to orientate us towards the soul, the spiritual component of our being. If this soul is seen in the light of the worldly self then it is not seen at all. The soul is not an extension of the earthly being but the true spiritual self that exists beyond that and above that, and which is our connection to God. The fallen earthly self is always wrong and must be renounced. Any spirituality emanating from this fallen self is a false spirituality.

False awakening is similar to this. It is basically adopting a spiritual perspective on life but within the framework of a false metaphysics. I believe it was Chesterton who said that a thing stands straight at only one angle but will fall at many. There are indeed many approaches to spiritual truth that do not coincide with reality but are outgrowths of human experience and mental formulations. Again, you might say that no one has a completely true metaphysics, but there are those that do correspond more closely to truth and then there are those that deviate from it. Whether these originate from human error or demonic manipulation is not my concern here (actually, they originate from both) but the fact is that a false metaphysics will lead to a false or inadequate spiritual practice.

False metaphysics tend to come from one of two misconceptions which are an insufficient understanding of transcendence and an insufficient understanding of immanence. Modern Christianity suffers from the latter, New Age religion and neo-paganism from the former.  A rounded metaphysics includes both transcendence and immanence but, and this is important, it puts transcendence ahead of immanence, that is, it recognises that God within is an expression of the Creator who is the source of all and must come first. Put another way, you could say that those who teach immanence as primary (many Eastern religions do this) do not understand transcendence properly but those who put transcendence first also acknowledge immanence. Or should do. They may not if they lack imagination but they do at least have things the right way round. For the two are complementary but not equal. God out there is the cause of God in here not vice versa. The transcendent God is the source of God immanent. 

So, a full and proper spiritual awakening requires at least two things. One, the recognition of God as Creator, and two, the understanding that he is present within us as the source of our being. Our task is to increase awareness of both of these perceptions. It is to see God as present in ourselves, in the world (nature) but, pre-eminently, as the Creator responsible for all this. Much more could be said but this, I believe, is a bare minimum for true awakening.

False awakening can usually be identified because it materialises spirituality. It fits into the modernist ethos without too much discomfort and does not demand radical transformation. And there is one other easy way to identify it. It is motivated not by love of God and wanting to do his will but by spiritual desire. That is, the individual seeks to get more than to give. His spirituality is a search for personal benefit and not a means to express his love of truth and God. I believe that it is dedication to Christ that safeguards us from spiritual selfishness. I dare say that for us in the West there is no true and complete spiritual awakening that does not have Christ at its core. Any awakening without Christ is at best partial because he is the summation of all spirituality. I know a lot of people will resist that idea, probably in reaction to the huge influence of Christianity in the past, but it would be a pity if they rejected truth because of human failings in seeking to express it. Of course, there are other valid forms of spirituality in the world but they are all incomplete without Christ at their centre. In effect, they all need baptism like the paganism of old, though I would say this is now an inner thing and does not mean that they should all be absorbed into Christianity as it currently exists externally.

Friday 5 January 2018

The covert decline of even apparently-growing Christian churches

In general, my impression is that Christian churches are declining in the West - declining in numbers and in quality.

Obviously this applies to the 'mainstream', liberalised denominations such as Anglicans, Methodists and Roman Catholics; which are not just declining but collapsing. However, this decline has even begun to affect new Christian churches that have until fairly recently been growing in The West, such as Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses.

Seventh Day Adventism is apparently growing in the UK, but almost entirely among recently arrived immigrants.

A few churches apparently thrive - mostly those of a conservative evangelical type and Pentecostals. But I think this apparent growth is deceptive, because:

1. Growth is substantially of recent immigrants (especially, Chinese mostly-converts and Africans who are already Christian), and

2. Growth is substantially of already-Christians (e.g. mainstream Anglicans, Methodists and Catholics) who have transferred into more traditionalist from the apostate and anti-Christian toxic atmosphere of the liberalised denominations; mostly in response to the permeating, corrupting and collapse-inducing effect of leftist 'social justice' politics - especially the sexual revolution.

(For example, every single Christian denomination that has institutionally instituted female priests or pastors has rapidly and irreversibly begun to collapse.)

In sum, a critical and honest analysis of UK data would - I believe - reveal across-the-board decline in all Christian churches without exception.

In the US there is a small exception, which is the growth by natural increase - high fertility and retention - of 'enclosed' groups like Amish and Hutterites.

So, the picture in The West, among Western populations, is abandonment of Christian churches; with no counter examples except among those churches who substantially reject modernity and cut themselves off from The World.

What are the implications? Well, one is that none of the types of Christian conservatism or traditionalism are viable. They are certainly less rapidly-suicidal than the liberalised churches; but they are not truly thriving among the western populations.

Nobody - not one single church - can any longer regard themselves as a successful 'model' for Christianity in the 21 century in The West and for Westerners.

 This is important, because most of the less-obviously-failing churches are trying to restore an earlier type of Christianity: the Roman Catholics hope to re-set their church and its liturgy to how it was before Vatican II, Anglicans hope that Bible-based evangelicalism will hold the line on morality and grow their churches; 'confessional' Protestants hark back to the earlier eras of Calvinism, Lutheranism, Methodism...

In general these serious Christians are doubling-down on traditionalism in response to liberalism and apostasy - however, the best that can be said for this as a strategy is that it is less of a failure than liberalisation... It is not actually succeeding. 

What to do instead? Well, when no known, no tried-and-tested, option has any track-record of succeeding - then I presume what we ought to do is... whatever we ought to do.

And I mean whatever we, individually, ought to do - because the institutional church is demonstrably failing: all-round and everywhere.

Either we need new kinds of institutions, or new kinds of individual Christianity.

It may be that this is the major task for Western peoples here-and-now - learning how to become and how to remain real Christians; as the churches - and I mean All the churches - collapse around us.

Thursday 4 January 2018

The Traveller's Key to Sacred England - by John Michell (1988): a book recommendation

The Traveller's Key to Sacred England is a guide book by John Michell, which focuses on the kind of English places likely to be of interest to Albion Awakening readers, and provides the kind of information Albionites are most likely to value.

It would be an ideal book to give ideas of 'what to do' for someone visiting the country, or a native thinking about where to take a holiday.

Michell's comments are beautifully expressed, and generally very sound (at least as-of about thirty years ago - of course, some places have 'gone off' since then).

I shall open it 'at random' to give a flavour of the book:

St Catherine's Chapel Guildford: At the foot of the hill is the site of a religious establishment which vanished so long ago that no one knows whether it was a priory or a nunnery. The stretch of Pilgrim's Way which passes it goes between charming old cottages to the river, where the pilgrim's ferry has now been replaced by a footbridge. On the right of the path, just before it reaches the river, a spring well up from the bank. This is the holy spring of the Virgin Mary that refreshed every pilgrim on the way to Canterbury. Its waters are clear and refreshing today. 

Sherbourne Abbey, Dorset: The abbey was rebuilt in the twelfth century, and in the fourteen a parish church, All Hallows, was added on to its west end. Its parishioners used the abbey font for baptisms until 1437, when a quarrel broke out between the people and the monks... When a new font was set up in All Hallows, the monks smashed it. A riot broke out, and it is said that a priest of All Hallows shot a flaming bolt towards the abbey, which was then being rebuilt. It caught fire and was largely destroyed... A boss in the choir vault [of the rebuilt Abbey] shows the flaming arrow, shot by the clergyman of all Hallows, which caused the burning of the abbey. The monks of the time must have had great tolerance and humour to allow this event to be commemorated so soon after at had happened. 

Mother Shipton's cave and petrifying well, Yorkshire: Mother Shipton, born Ursual Sontheil in 1488, had the proper parents for a girl of supernatural powers, her mother being an outcast beggar woman and her father a local spirit or demon who haunted the forests outside Knaresborough... She is said to have been a hideous little creature, deformed , shrivelled and lame, with a huge twisted nose and pimples that were said to glow in the dark. Even so, she found a husband and became Mrs Toby Shipton. 

As compensation for her appearance, Mother Shipton had second sight and the gift of seeing into the future... The Major triumph of her lifetime was over the powerful Cardinal Wolsey, who she had prophesied would never enter the city of York. Hearing this, Wolsey swore that not only would he enter York but he would go on to Knaresborough and burn Mother Shipton as a witch. He was... 12 miles from York when the king's officers arrested him on a charge of high treason. He died at Leicester on the way back to London.

The mizmaze on St Catherine's Hill, Winchester: ... the date and the ritual purpose of the mizmaze are unknown; estimates of its age vary from three hundred to more than a thousand years. Treading the maze, by walking the furrows between its raised banks, is a mystical and therapeutic experience. It may be that in following the spiral patterns of natural growth and energy, one orders the mind and attunes oneself to nature's rhythms. The labyrinths which sometimes occur on the pavings of medieval churches traditionally represent the pilgrim's journey to Zion. 

In sum - people who like this sort of thing, will find this the sort of thing they like. 


Monday 1 January 2018

New Year's Day

I've always loved Christmas, both for the fact that it is the season when truth and goodness and light in a completely pure and unadulterated form entered the world (I could sense this even when very young as I think all children can), and also because it is the time when families get together and there is (usually) a feeling of real good will that may not be so prominent at other times of the year. I have even gone back to believing in Father Christmas as a kind of nature spirit representing the best of paganism, but baptised and Christianised as all paganism now must be if it is not to lapse into an atavistic spiritual dead end. Of course, I don't mean I literally believe in Father Christmas, but as a personification of a spiritual truth, why not? Now that my children are getting older Christmas is not so magical a time for them, and therefore me, as it was when they were younger, but it still maintains something of its wonder. That wonder is centred on light in darkness which is why winter is the natural season for Christmas.

By the same token, I've always disliked New Year's Eve and all the hyped up celebrations that surround it. This is a relatively recent thing, I think. The excessive nature of it certainly is. January 1st only became a public holiday in England in 1974 (presumably to allow people to recover from their hangovers). What are we actually supposed to be celebrating? I do understand that the idea of a fresh start and new beginning does have some meaning but this must be a spiritual thing, an entry into a higher realisation of life, real growth and opening up to a deeper reality, not just a hope for the same as before but with greater personal happiness and prosperity.

Because we live in a world without God, we live in a world without meaning. Consequently we try to project meaning onto things that don't have it such as the idea of a new year that begins at a totally arbitrary time, not linked to any astronomical or natural or religious factor. A purely materialistic thing with no inner meaning. Therefore our celebrations are empty, and I imagine we subconsciously know this which is why they revolve so much around excessive noisiness, drunkenness and false bonhomie.

The instinct to celebrate the new is a good one but it is totally misplaced when directed at the new year as it now is. This is yet another example of a materialization of a spiritual truth, another example of the corruption of the good. That is why it is fundamentally so empty and needs copious amounts of alcohol to sustain it. I'm not against wine and beer and so on. I think they are one of God's great gifts to a fallen world. But like all magical powers (which is what they are if you think about it), they need to be treated with respect and not abused or taken as a means to escape emptiness. 

Fundamentally all our celebrations are a search for meaning. There is more meaning in Christmas than anything else except perhaps Easter. There is none at all in a materialistic new year. You might say that it doesn't matter what our search for meaning is directed at. It is the quest for meaning that matters. But to look for meaning in something that doesn't have it will just lead to disillusion and living an artificial existence. It really is a false celebration of nothing. When will we wake up and realise this? When will we look for meaning in the only thing that has it which is God?