Saturday 23 February 2019

The Long Man of Wilmington

When I was about 10 years old I went on a school trip which remained in my memory long afterwards as a very enjoyable time even though I couldn't remember much specific about it. I knew it was somewhere on the south coast of England but had forgotten exactly where though I did remember the highlight of the trip being an excursion in which we had walked across grassy downs on a bright sunny day, blue sky above, birds singing in an English morning, suddenly to discover at our feet a massive chalk figure carved into the hillside. The teacher had wanted to surprise us and he did. I knew the figure was of a man holding what appeared to be sticks in each hand, but it was one of those indistinct childhood memories that have receded so far into the past that they have become almost dreamlike. Nonetheless, the impression of having encountered something otherworldly stuck with me and the sight of this enigmatic figure awoke my imagination to the deep, ancient past of this island.

Fast forward thirty odd years and I was living in the Sussex town of Eastbourne. One day I was talking to someone who asked me if I'd seen the nearby Long Man of Wilmington yet. I'd heard of it but not realised it was in the vicinity. It turned out to be about 6 miles away so off I went to have a look. There was the figure of my childhood.

This is how he appears when seen more or less from the road. He is standing facing forwards though his feet are set sideways. He is depicted in outline with no features which makes him appear more archetypal than individual. It also gives him the air of mystery I noted when I first saw him as a child, an air that his companion in Dorset, the Cerne Abbas giant, does not have though that is for other reasons too. He conveys an impression of watchfulness and seems almost like a guardian so it is no wonder some people have speculated that he stands at the door of the underworld (not hell but a spiritual realm beyond this earthly one), guarding the threshold from unworthy intruders. The fact that he is positioned on the side of a hill emphasises this even though that was undoubtedly more for reasons of display since, as far as I am aware, all English chalk figures are on hillsides, making them visible to more than the birds. But still, this gives the impression of a gateway into somewhere beyond this mortal world.

What are those things in his hands? Are they sticks or staves, symbols of his office perhaps or the remains of what were once agricultural tools, or are they the sides of a doorway, the gate he guards as he blocks the entrance to the next world with power and authority for he does indeed embody those qualities, his muscular frame and bold stance telling us that, if we are not entitled to pass, we shall not pass.

The Long Man is 235 feet tall which makes him the largest representation of the human figure in Europe. It was once assumed that he came from the Neolithic or Iron Age (there is a long barrow nearby), probably representing a pagan deity, but it turns out that there is no documentary evidence for him from before the 18th century, and the general consensus now is that he goes back no further than the 16th or 17th centuries. But if he does who or what is he supposed to be? He used to be known as the Green Man because that was how he appeared before a 19th century restoration embedded chalk into his outline, for though he is carved into a chalk hill, the soil on top of the chalk is relatively deep. This name, of course, also links him with the old pagan religion.

Maybe he is no more than a few hundred years old, but he surely reaches back to something much earlier. For me, the idea of him as some kind of guardian of the land makes the most intuitive sense since, even if this was not his original role, it is what he has become. I am tempted to speculate that he might even be a representation of Albion himself, a giant carved in the white earth on the southern shores of England protecting the land from invaders, but also welcoming people as he stands at the entrance to England. My feeling when I first saw him as a child was he did have something sacred about him, something that is linked to the land of which he is a part. Could it be that he was always there on the ground but sleeping until the 16th or 17th century when he was not created so much as woken up? This time period does, after all, coincide with the rise of British power, albeit material not spiritual power. Perhaps this means he is still only half awake (the lack of facial features supporting this idea) and we await his true rising.

If you are looking for a depiction of Albion, here is one as good as any.

Saturday 16 February 2019

Maumbury Rings

Between 1985 and 1988 I lived in Bridport in the county of Dorset, during which time I worked 15 miles down the road in Dorchester at the Dorset County Museum. Dorchester and the area around it are interesting in that this is a region which has been continuously populated since at least Neolithic times, and by cultures that have left their mark. There are not many parts of the country you could say that about.

My job at the museum was to sort through the enormous amount of material that existed in the museum's archives, mostly the result of archaeological digs over the previous decades. This included Stone Age axes, pounders and arrowheads, Bronze Age jars and pottery, Roman glass and ceramics (usually broken which is why it was stored and not actually exhibited), mosaic tesserae and medieval monastery tiles, often beautifully decorated. There were even around thirty large boxes of oyster shells going back to Roman times, all lovingly catalogued and kept on shelves in the deconsecrated All Saints Church on the High Street just down the road from the main museum. Experts could tell weather patterns of the time by examining the shells, of which there were so many because oysters had been a staple food back then. I learnt on the job and it was fascinating to handle all these artifacts and find out their history, together with the ancient history of the area in which they had originated.

There are several earthworks in the area, of which Maiden Castle is the most famous. This is an Iron Age Hill fort though archaeological digs have shown that the site has seen human activity going back almost 6,000 years when there was a Neolithic causewayed enclosure there consisting of an oval area surrounded by two ditches. We will come back to that in a minute.

During this period it is probable that the site would have been of religious significance since for human beings at this time life was essentially religious. They lived in much deeper communion with nature and their gods than we can imagine. I believe that faith would not have been a major part of their spiritual life. It did not need to be since their consciousness was open to spiritual reality, though largely in a passive sense. They experienced a kind of primeval identification with their environment, both physical and psychic.

Later on in Iron Age times, this form of interaction with the landscape and the spirit world had begun to fade away. The site, perfectly positioned for defensive purposes, became a hill fort, one of over 100 built at that time in the West Country. But this one was expanded over the years until it became the biggest in Britain and one of the biggest in Europe. Walking on the springy turf up there still has the power to take one back in imagination to a distant past when human beings lived lives tied to the land and the cycles of nature, and had not fully separated themselves from their environment. At least, it does if you can respond to that sort of thing and have not, like so many people have, spiritually "dumbed yourself down".

There is another earthwork actually in the town and I would occasionally go there during my lunch break just to sit and absorb the peaceful atmosphere. This is Maumbury Rings, a Neolithic henge. Here's an aerial photograph.

We have returned to the oval area enclosed by a ditch. That is to say, there would originally have been a ditch, formed by the construction of the outer banks, but that has long since been filled in. But still the basic layout of an oval demarcated by a border remains. Now, forgive me, but what does this remind you of? All I can say is that I have to assume it was constructed as a sacred space dedicated to the Mother Goddess. In its time it's been a Roman amphitheatre, a fort in the Civil War and even an execution ground in the 18th century during the Monmouth Rebellion, not to mention farmland and a place of assembly. But it is over 4,000 years old and its original purpose would have been religious. Archaeologists frequently say of ancient things when they are not sure what they are for, "used for ritual purposes" and I expect they are often right in that, but this clearly was a sacred space used by the local tribe for their most profound encounters with the numinous. When I used to go there 30 odd years ago it still had a feeling of peace and stillness, and there was also a sense of being safe and secure. Is it too fanciful to think of it as a kind of spiritual womb? Rites of death and rebirth are among the oldest and most widespread forms of human spiritual activity, and I think that is what Maumbury Rings would originally have been associated with.

England has one of the highest proportion of prehistoric sites in the world, and many of them retain an atmosphere that links to their past. If you approach them with an open imagination, you can, to an extent, 'tune in' to the consciousness of our ancestors, and if you manage to do that you will find that our modern view of the world is really very limited. Obviously, no one is suggesting that we should, even if we could which we can't, return to that mode of being, but we can certainly learn from it and seek to incorporate it in our own modern consciousness insofar as that is possible. What we have lost in the sense of identification with the natural and spiritual environments can be recovered but in a higher form in which we are no longer simply passive experiencers but can become creative participators in a spiritual world that extends beyond this one yet is fully enmeshed with it. But the world is a creation and we can only really achieve the kind of spiritually conscious interaction with it I am talking about when we acknowledge that, which means acknowledge the Creator. For creation, and that includes ourselves, is only properly understood when we see it in the light of God of whom it is the expression.

Wednesday 13 February 2019

The imaginative archaeology of Francis Pryor

Looking like an avuncular viking...

I came across Francis Pryor - the archaeologist of 'prehistory' (stone, bronze and iron age Britain) via the wonderful TV series Time Team - and have since watched his Britain BC TV series, and read in the book of similar name, and (currently) another called 'Home' which is about prehistorical family life.

Although (as befits an Emeritus Cambridge Professor) he describes himself as an agnostic-atheist, and he is not (yet?) 'red pilled'; Pryor has a genuinely dissenting nature, and the deepest spiritual discernment of any modern archaeologist that I have encountered.

Pryor seems empathically to understand the spiritual consciousness of our remote ancestors; and is able to paint vivid word pictures of their lives.

In particular - and this is derived from the mass of direct achaeological evidence, as well as from contextual knowledge of biology, geography and anthropology - Pryor appreciates that our ancestors led primarily spiritual lives: the 'unseen' world loomed-larger for them than the mundane.

He is a prolific of material aimed-at the interested layman - and I would recommend his work to the Albion Awakening readership.


A rare and remarkable photograph of a Bronze Age craftsman making a log canoe at Flag Fen - Francis Pryor's famous East Anglian excavations. Coincidental background details suggest a much higher level of technological sophistication during this era than is generally recognised. 

Friday 8 February 2019

A Call to Arms

Western civilization is clearly in decline. The signs are everywhere and range from the loss of the sense of transcendence and resultant materialism, to deterioration of the arts and sciences, to mass immigration which erodes identity (and is intended to), to greater involvement of women in the workforce and political process which (whatever you think of its rights or wrongs) has practically always marked a culture in its terminal phase*, to familial breakdown and sexual licence and so on. I am not making a judgment here. I am simply describing what is taking place and pointing out that it is what always takes place whenever a civilisation has passed its zenith and started its decline. Members of that civilisation all want to share in its bounty, bounty that has been produced by exceptional people fired by exceptional energy and creativity. But the rich and relatively stable society such people produce leads to a situation in which everyone wants a piece of the pie and demands a say in its running.  Democracy is the result of that and the result of democracy is cultural relativism which substitutes quantity for quality. This is where we are now.

There is a saying that hard times make strong people who make good times which make weak people who make hard times. We are weak people. Weak people prize the gentle virtues, in particular compassion and empathy. Obviously I am not arguing against compassion, but I am saying that it is a virtue that will lead to downfall if it is not balanced by wisdom and discrimination. For if unbalanced compassion has its way, everything is reduced to the same level and that level will increasingly be determined by the lowest common denominator. 

In a collapsing culture people are unable to distinguish between what bestows spiritual benefit and what material, particularly when the two conflict as they often do. This means that the increase of pleasant feelings and reduction of unpleasant ones is all that is deemed to matter. Reality is defined in terms of personal happiness and suffering, pleasure and pain, and subjective feelings become more important than objective truth. This leads to a vicious circle or downward spiral in which mistaken attitudes breed further errors which, in turn, lead to deeper illusion.

The true spiritual way demands repentance and inner transformation. One must literally turn one's life around and redirect one's mind to new paths. Compassion without wisdom says we are all good as we are now. No sacrifice, no renunciation, no repentance is necessary. Just love everyone for who they are. This is a damnable lie for no man is good in and of himself. We are all, as traditional Christian teaching correctly affirms, sinners. That means we are all out of proper harmony with spiritual reality. What the modern world has forgotten is that the way to heaven is always through the crucifixion. Any form of spirituality that ignores this is just self-help and that is basically disguised egotism^.

Given this diagnosis of the modern world as one in decline, how can one say that human consciousness is evolving? But I do say it. After all, this is why the Christianity of the past is no longer adequate for many modern people who have the distinction, due to a more developed intellect and sense of self, to need to know things for themselves. But there is no reason why both assessments of the present time cannot be true. They are not necessarily contradictory. On the one hand, the old civilisation is dying for reasons of exhaustion and because of a decadence that is the result of a loss of spiritual energy and capitulation to material forces. On the other, there is a development of consciousness which sees a much greater and more widespread mental awareness of reality and positive engagement with it. 

Perhaps the fact that this is widespread gives us a clue. In the past, there was a relatively small spiritual and intellectual elite who drove the cultural agenda, and they worked from within a spiritual framework, or one that was heavily influenced by such.  The vast majority of humanity was purely passive. Now, however, there are far more people both determining and responding to intellectual life but they do so in a philosophically materialist society. From a situation in which very few people really thought, we have moved into one in which more and more men and women are becoming intellectually active, but the quantitative increase is not reflected qualitatively. It's a classic example of a little knowledge being a dangerous thing but probably inevitable at the earlier phase of a new cycle.

The question is, can humanity progress from this current state of awakening intelligence to a deeper awareness before it destroys itself spiritually? To put it at its simplest, can we move on from a state in which knowledge is our chief aspiration and focus to one of wisdom? In a state of ignorance, the majority of the populace could be guided by traditional religion. In essence, they did as they were told. Now, as we leave our spiritual childhood we are learning to think for ourselves, but knowledge without wisdom has led to our corruption because, although we have begun to think for ourselves, we are not yet capable of thinking very deeply.

These are the two problems that confront us and to which we must find a solution. Our civilisation has reached the end of the line and is in the process of dismantling itself in various ways but which can often be reduced to preferring equality to quality. And then our newly developed mental powers have given us the ability to engage with reality to a greater extent than before, and even force it to our will to a degree, but we are restricted in this to the material plane. We must start to sow the seeds of a new spiritual civilisation or we face destruction.

* See The Fate of Empires by Sir John Glubb 

^ I'm not saying that the attempt to improve oneself is egotism, just the attempt to do so without reference to a real (i.e. not abstract) transcendent source beyond the self.

Saturday 2 February 2019

More Brexit

EU remainers like to point to a common European culture, one represented by Dante, Shakespeare, Goethe and the like, and claim that leavers are rejecting this noble heritage for an insular little Britain attitude. Maybe some people are like that, maybe even a lot are since it can't be denied that the attitude exists and leave voters are a mixed bunch which is probably both their strength (in that they won) and their weakness (in that they may not have that much common ground). But the point is the EU is not Europe. Its long term purpose is and always has been to create a Federal Republic of Europe with all power centralised in a heavily bureaucratic transnational body while national parliaments exist merely as administrative branch offices, little better than local government.

The EU is fundamentally materialistic which is shown by two things, one obvious and one symbolic. The real unifying force of Europe was Christianity, a shared spiritual identity and transcendental belief. A religion.That is not part of modern EU ideology at all since it is based on Enlightenment values which, it could be reasonably said, actually trashed many real traditional European beliefs. I am not rejecting the Enlightenment which was a valuable, indeed essential, step forward, but it should have been built on religion not used to push the latter aside which is what happened, and is the attitude behind EU ideology. After all, most of the great men of European history were not only believers in God but that belief inspired their work.

To my mind, the EU flag reveals something fundamental about the project. It has no centre. And that means it has no heart. This is precisely because the EU is an atheist project. It likes to pretend it stands for intelligence and culture but what sort of intelligence and what sort of culture? I would say that it is actually a technocrat's dream and what is the important thing for technocrats? It is efficiency. A technocratic society must be one that is highly ordered and tightly controlled to bring about maximum efficiency. It has no place for anything that cannot be measured. Outwardly humanitarian, it actually rejects much of what it really means to be human because its concept of humanity is a shrivelled little thing without a soul.

Now, I know that most people who voted to leave the EU were unlikely to have framed their reasons in this way. They were concerned about mass immigration and its effects on their jobs, schools, housing etc. Or they didn't like being told what to do by foreigners. Or sundry other reasons. But perhaps in many cases behind these tangible outer reasons there was a sense that this country was slipping away from them, and they were deeply uncomfortable with that. Their identity was being stripped away. The EU offers nothing in this regard because it has no identity of its own. It is a hollow thing whose purpose is only functional. But man cannot live by bread alone.