Tuesday, 27 January 2015

A January Tale

It has been said, 'If you want to put the world right, begin with yourself'. In its measure this is true counsel, but it needs a corollary. The Alchemist says, 'If you want to work upon your inner self, start working on something outside yourself.'”

What does Druidry really offer to Humanity? By Vivian Godfrey

In July 2012 I pulled together a blog about the magical aspects of the successful campaign to save Oxleas Woods from a proposed new East London River Crossing. If Trees Could Cry – Oxleas Wood - a 20th Century adventure in eco-magic told the story from the viewpoint of an active member of Dragon and T.R.B. rather than the well-known public campaign by the marvelous folk in People Against the River Crossing (PARC). I've subsequently received a number of emails from people asking for more about the campaign. So, at the fag end of January 2015, here is a little more about Dragon's campaign.

Recently I was reminded by an old friend of one of the many awareness and fund-raising campaigns Dragon supported to galvanise interest in saving this special ancient London woodland – the Save Oxleas Woods Calendar. This was an innovative and creative way to raise some funds and secure more publicity-- a few years before the popular film Calendar Girls had burst on to the scene. It was also a great way for people to work on themselves as alluded to by the earlier quote from Vivian Godfrey. We often forget that sometimes the best way to work magic or change is to work on outside factors. There are times for mundane world activities such as petitions, protests and fund-raising just as much as there are times for meditation, visualisation and ritual! This simple truth often seems to be forsaken.

Two key Dragon members-- one an accomplished artist and graphic designer, the other a very well connected priestess who was actively involved in publishing and the Fellowship of Isis-- were both critical in creating the calendar. Without their love, energy and passion for Oxleas, the calendar would never have been published nor would the additional campaign funds have been raised. Well-known esoteric writers were contacted and asked to donate short pieces of writing on the months of the year. A wide range of published writers rallied to the call of this ancient woodland and donated freely some fantastic contributions including Ronald Hutton, Marian Green, Mike Howard and the late Melita Denning (Vivian Godfrey) as well as the wonderful recently departed and much missed Olivia Robertson.

The calendar sold out quickly and helped to grab yet further public interest in stopping the dark forces that wanted to carve up this beautiful open space.

As we are still (just about) at the doorway to 2015, I thought I'd share my favourite extract from the calendar in all its glory – Melita Denning's contribution for January. I hope you enjoy it!

The Month of January

The Roman calendar, on which ours is based, developed from a ten-month Etruscan form combined with an older calendar of twelve lunar months with an intercalary space in winter. In 153 BC the beginning of the year was transferred from March to the beginning of January, to follow the mid-winter feast:

Midwinter is the rise of the new sun and the close of the old one” (Ovid).

The month takes its name from the god Janus, the Door keeper. He is shown with two faces, usually bearded, to look to past and future, and the bears staff and key. He is the divine guardian of all portals. He is 'The Sower', bearing the seed of the past harvest to propagate the next. In Rome he was invoked at the outset of any great undertaking, and before any other deity, for it is he who gives access to them. New Year's Day is thus propitious for every prayer.

Because the first day of January sets a pattern for all, workers who hope for an active and prosperous year should at least handle the implements of their work on this festive day. Dates, figs and honey are the traditional festal foods and gifts, to sweeten the year now beginning. Not only the New Year, but daybreak, and the first day of each month, are under Janus' protection.

His great feast however, is on the 9th January. His offering is of spelt (a variety of wheat) with salt; this mixture thrown upon flame is said to give prompt response to a petition.

The traditional incense for rites of Janus is saffron, which can be mingled with mastic or gum arabic.

Sunday, 4 January 2015

The Cosmic Doctrine & its Seven Laws

Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.”

The Cosmic Doctrine is perhaps Dion Fortune’s most overlooked and undervalued work. Next to The Mystical Qabalah, it is also possibly her most important. The text presents a near complete cosmogony stuffed full with enough images and concepts to keep the adventurous seeker busy for a lifetime. As a comprehensive philosophical and magical system, it presents a detailed interpretation of the origin of life, the Universe, Deity and Humankind. Like any cosmogony, it has some imperfections, interspersed with occasional annoyances and contradictions. This article is offered in the hope that it will whet readers’ proverbial whistles to further explore the depths of The Cosmic Doctrine.

Before we go any further, it’s probably important for me to set out a key foundational premise – the honoured place of cosmogony in the occultist's toolbox. In any longer term esoteric endeavour, a basic knowledge of cosmogony is vital. Without a functional cosmogony as a cornerstone for the Work a superstitious disposition can exacerbated due to the lack of a model to relate effects to their prime causes. Possessing an effective cosmogony enables the occultist to see the Western Mystery Tradition for essentially what it is – a means to an end, that end being the betterment of the individual, their community, nation and planet. Newer readers may wish to review an earlier blog In Order To Serve to get some wider background on this.

Many students who approach The Cosmic Doctrine dive for safe cover at the earliest convenience, settling for an arguably easier cosmogony such as that offered by the Qabalah or Astrology. This is understandable for it is not a book that you can read or understand in the normal sense. It is more like a mysterious treasure trove waiting to be mined over a lifetime for precious metals and rare gems. If you do try reading it like a Tony Parsons novel, you will probably suffer chronic indigestion and most likely never come back for a second helping. No-one has ever been able to extract the benefits of a deep mineral mine from the comfort of an armchair. Instead, The Cosmic Doctrine is a work to be approached with all of one’s efforts, intuition and imagination. It will only be through drawing diagrams of its concepts, contemplating, meditating and relaxed pondering that the text will open the inner doors of understanding. A generous smattering of perseverance helps too.

The material was originally communicated from the Inner Planes between July 1923 and January 1924, while Dion Fortune was based in Chalice Orchard at the foot of Glastonbury Tor. However, due to Alan Richardson’s sterling researches, we also know that some of the basic elements of the text display at least a surface façade of similarities with some of Theodore Moriarty’s Aphorisms of Creation and Cosmic Principles. There could be a number of reasons for this and plagiarism isn’t one of them. My personal view is that Dion Fortune had spent a great deal of time learning from Moriarty and was essentially working on the same contacts as he and his group. The Inner Plane Adepti tend to utilise the existing symbol system in the receiving medium’s mind – well stocked or otherwise!

In The Story of Dion Fortune, Charles Fielding tells us that the communications were accompanied by a mêlée of notable physical phenomenon, due to the need to use elemental forces as a backup to provide a stronger communication channel. On at least one occasion, the altar light’s flame “rose about five or six feet in height where normally the light only came up about an inch.” During one of the sessions the scribe, “almost fainted as there was also a great rush of wind when the flame increased.” Anyone who has been around the Tor, particularly at the liminal portals of dawn and dusk, when it is quiet and empty of New Age Travellers and sightseers, will appreciate the dynamism of the full spectrum of elemental activity in the area.

Very importantly, on the first page of The Cosmic Doctrine, the Communicator makes it abundantly clear that this is an altogether different type of work which should be approached in a particular manner:-

In these occult teachings you will be given certain images, under which you are instructed to think of certain things. These images are not descriptive but symbolic, and are designed to train the mind, not to inform it.

Casual readers would do well to heed this, particularly the section I have italicised, which is often misquoted, resulting in a subtle but importantly different meaning. The language within the text can be exceptionally difficult at times and some of the terminology can be easily misinterpreted if taken out of context or at face value.

The question at the forefront of many commentators’ minds has been, “Does The Cosmic Doctrine have any practical relevance for the 21st Century”? This is an important one to ask, for arguably the most important keynote of the Age of Aquarius is practicality. Gone or fast fading are the patriarchal days of the Piscean Age. “So long and thanks for all the fish....” Increasingly in this epoch, responsibility rests squarely with individuals to take the lead in their own life journey and developmental opportunities. Practical application is a crucial enabler with this. “Greetings and welcome to the Water Carrier!”

Now, practicality coupled with responsibility can be a tough old thing for the best of us. Many students appear to pursue the Western Mysteries for the opposite reason, for some respite from the burdens of life’s responsibilities and practicalities. They often do this quite unconsciously. Being unable to cope with mundane challenges and not finding it easy to get on with others, they seek an escape route. Indeed the avenues of escape from modern life are legion, from smart phones, computer games and social networking to complete submersion in the enticing opiates of the global entertainment industry.

However, occultism is no way to escape from the responsibilities of life. Even a short period invested in thoughtfully mulling over the images and concepts presented in The Cosmic Doctrine should encourage the seeker into a further immersion into the depths of the Game of Life with its attendant joys, pains, challenges and rewards. That can only happen if we get up and go to work, leaving the comfort of the coal fire and armchair behind, along with endless attendant theorising. While theory may well provide many happy hours in the armchair with accompanying warm and sweet feelings of excitement, practice, work and play will bring a far richer life journey.

Within the deep mine shafts of The Cosmic Doctrine there is much practical advice to be found. While some of the material can take years to percolate, much of it is immediately practicable. Perhaps the most rapidly accessible advice found within the communication is that relating to the text’s Seven Laws.

Some of the implications of these interdependent laws are so far-reaching that one can rapidly leave considerations of practical application behind if not careful. Other aspects have far more immediate application in mundane life. Ultimately the full value of these Seven Laws will be better appreciated once a wider understanding of the concepts from The Cosmic Doctrine is gained alongside further practical work.

A brief analysis and commentary on the Seven Laws is offered below. It assumes a basic appreciation of the esoteric concept of the Seven Planes. For those readers who do not already have an understanding of this, in order to more fully understand what follows, I would encourage you to check out Dion Fortune’s own comments throughout her published works on the Planes prior to reading the next section.

1. The Law of Action and Reaction

In one sense, this is not dissimilar to Newton's third law, the law of action-reaction, which explains the nature of the forces between two interacting objects. According to Newton’s law, the force exerted by one object upon a second object is equal in magnitude and opposite in direction to the force exerted by the second object upon the first one.

In The Cosmic Doctrine this Law goes beyond that and postulates that action and reaction are both equal and opposite on the Plane of their operation. But as an action on one Plane causes a reaction on another Plane, then the active and reactive forces are related by a definable ratio. This ratio can be determined by the number of Planes separating the levels of inception and reception of the forces in question.

The related potency can be seen as rising by the square law. So, as an illustrative example, if a person’s particular action on the physical or 1st Plane gives rise to a reaction on the next Plane, then the potency of the original action would be squared, and the equivalent amount of energy would be released on this 2nd Plane. Understanding this is essential for practical magical purposes, in particular, in relation to working with elemental forces which can readily be rendered available on the 2nd Plane.

Needless to say, the converse is also true. So, if an action on a Plane reacts on a lower Plane, the originating energy will also be reduced to its square root. If we extrapolate this thinking, it doesn’t take much to figure out that the effects of raising a force in the human being from, for example, the instinctive level of the 2nd Plane to the abstract mental level of the 5th Plane, have a significant and far reaching consequence.

Using this line of thinking, and continuing with the mathematical analogy, it can be suggested that normal Involution, the journey into manifestation, takes place by repeated addition. From this we can also surmise that on the Evolutionary journey, progress is made by repeated multiplication. This is why you will sometimes hear it said that successful initiation leads to condensed personal evolution. Conversion of energy from one Plane directly to the next higher Plane is marked by the squaring of the original force. It is doubtful if the body of the lower level would carry this force. Hence what Dion Fortune says in The Mystical Qabalah, “.......and God (Jehovah) said to Moses, 'Thou canst not look upon My face and live.'”

In terms of practical use, if an Inner Plane communication takes place to a contacted physical Western Mysteries group, the communicator essentially brings force “down” the Planes. For this to happen successfully, the physical terminal must be thoroughly well prepared to raise a similar quantity of energy and consciousness to the same level if satisfactory contact is to be made. Aristotle was close to the mark when he said, “horror vacui” - nature abhors a vacuum - even a partial one.

2. The Law of Limitation

At its most basic level, this is perhaps the most easily deducible Law to see in use or indeed to personally use for simply getting things done in day-to-day work and play.

Limitation is essentially “a restricting rule or circumstance”, and, as such, the mastering of this Law is a key enabler of all matters to do with the workings of force and form. To some degree there is something of the magical symbol of the Cord in this.

Limitation can be seen as the primary law of manifestation and the first law of power. For example, in The Cosmic Doctrine, even the Logos circumscribed (or limited) Itself when manifesting.

This second Law implies a concentration of power by the rejection of all that is superfluous to that which is to hand. To invoke a force without directing it is to disperse it. In order to bring energy into manifestation it is necessary to provide it with a limited form to act as a vehicle.

Magic can be defined as the science and art of building forms for the reception, direction and utilisation of spiritual forces. If the operation furthers the ends of Evolution and serves the betterment of Humankind, its magic in the past would have been called "white"; if not, it was called "black". While life has mostly moved on from this two dimensional monochrome version of magic, these labels are very worthy of further pondering from time to time as the occultist struggles with the ethics of their art.

By the development and expansion of consciousness, the basis of limitation is achieved. Limitation implies discrimination and the careful selection of experience. But a limited, undeveloped consciousness implies only the exclusion of experience. That sort of limitation is an altogether different matter.

Essentially, this second Law governs the processes of Involution, the "descent into matter". This always reminds me of Dion Fortune's words, “Until the descent into matter is complete, the ascent into spirit cannot begin.” This leads us nicely into the third law.

3. The Law of Death

Death comes to all living things. For many people it is a thing to be feared. Ultimately some change how they live their lives out of this fear. The Cosmic Doctrine presents a detailed and compelling commentary on death which can ultimately help individuals to take the sting out of death.

After the death of a particularly close relative, I was profoundly affected by the words of John Spencer Muirhead shared by the relative’s church minister. Muirhead wrote:-

I know no birth, I know no death that chills;
I fear no fate nor fashion, cause nor creed,
I shall outdream the slumber of the hills.
I am the bud, the flower, I the seed:
For I do know that in whate’er I see
I am the part and it the soul of me.”

For the first time in days since the death, I felt a wave of light flow through me; I felt invigorated and truly alive. My deep-seated fears of death departed like the morning fog. The Cosmic Doctrine does something similar. Anything which takes the sting or fear out of death has huge practical import. A huge amount of energy tied up with worrying about death of self or others around you can be realised for far more productive use.

The original text goes to great lengths describing the full spectrum of deaths, indeed, the chapter in the original edition is entitled “The Seven Deaths”. However, the essence of what it says is as follows:-

Action and reaction are equal and opposite upon the Plane of their inception. However, when transmuted from one Plane to another, they stop manifesting upon the first Plane and come into being in a different form on the next Plane.

If this transmutation is viewed from the Plane of the inception of these forces, it is called "death". If viewed from the Plane of reception, it is called "birth". Both are interdependent and it is impossible for one to happen without the other.

4. The Law of Impactation

In the original text this section has the uncatchy subtitle “The transmission of action from one Plane to another.”

The Oxford English Dictionary rather unhelpfully defines impactation as “the condition of being or process of becoming impacted.” We are perhaps more used to the term being used to describe the situation of one tooth growing underneath another. However, in the esoteric sense, impactation can be regarded as the act of bringing a force of a subtler Plane through to a denser plane during the process of Involution. Two tangential forces are locked into a functional unit on the lower level. This was the method of creation of the original Cosmic Atoms described in The Cosmic Doctrine.

Thus, impactation is the act of advancing the development of a force by developing it upon the "form" aspect. The next section on the Law of Polarity, will further help those readers who are not familiar with this concept.

This process must be most carefully distinguished from the same process performed during Evolution. This is called "degradation".

5. The Law of Polarity

In the text this section is fully entitled, “The Law of the aspects of force or polarity.” The interaction of positive and negative etheric bodies has a great revitalising force. Ultimately, all polarity is rooted in the Rings Cosmos and Chaos, both of which are well described in the text. These are the primal Pillars of the Temple of the Mysteries, and from them stem all true complementaries. Illustrative examples of these include:-

Negative - Positive
Action - Reaction
Male - Female
Attraction - Repulsion
Anabolism - Catabolism
Light - Darkness
Evolution – Involution
Spirit – Matter
Manifest – Unmanifest
Day - Night

It can be helpful to spend time making your own further complementaries and keeping a record of them, for they will be useful in your later esoteric endeavours. From two forces, one positive, the other negative, a form is built. This process is universal. Force is a unity and form is a duality. Magic is about form building. Indeed, it is the prime human activity!

6. The Law of the Attraction of Outer Space

This particular law can be particularly hard-going. My old teacher rightly called it “abstruse”, a term also used recently by Gareth Knight to describe The Cosmic Doctrine generally. Essentially its relevance is often not apparent until later, more advance stages of practical work. However, it may be useful to summarise its key elements now to seed later work.

It is the aim of "will" to function unconfined, just as it is the tendency of "form" to centre on conditioning and limitation. The text suggests that when a unit of consciousness is released from a manifested System by transcending Law, it becomes a Great Entity in its own right. However, when a unit of consciousness that has not mastered the Law escapes from the System, it functions as an unconditioned will. This is the mystery of evil, often personified as the devil.

This penultimate Law teaches that Godhood is not attained by running away from the limitations and conditions of form, but by adjusting the balance to a dynamic and dancing equilibrium. The image of a whirling dervish comes to mind. In some respects, this is the “Great Work” or “Summum Bonum”.

7. The Law of the Attraction of the Centre

This last Law contains the secret of Evolution within this System. It refers to the mystery of Cohesion, which can be seen as the mystery of Love.

In grappling with this it can be a useful starting point to consider that that which is a multiplicity in its manifestation, by the perfection of its development, arrives at Unity. The approach to what The Cosmic Doctrine calls “the Centre” is not simply a movement in space, but a unification.

The difference between unification and simplification should be carefully considered. Unification can be seen as the final synthesis; simplification as the ultimate analysis, or alternatively as a return to type. The former is an advancement to completion, whereas the latter can be seen as a failure in purpose or regression to the commencement.

The essence of Evolution as put forward in The Cosmic Doctrine and many other Western Mysteries frameworks is unification. The manifestation of the unificatory principle upon the planes of form is Love. Love, in all its aspects, is the symbol of the Logos as One. Whoever loves, no matter how dim may be their understanding of Love, is manifesting a unification. Deity is One; Love makes one; therefore it is truly said "God is Love".

We often confuse Love with sentiment, but this can be unhelpful at the best of times. Taking this last Law into consideration, it is possible to review Love and see it in an altogether new light, where it can be seen as being the functional cohesion of the Cosmos. This has practical applications for how we view and carry out relationships with both our fellow humans and the wider environment.

It is hoped that this initial introduction to the Seven Laws within The Cosmic Doctrine provides some inspiration for future explorations. To conclude the article, I thought it would be apposite in the current political environment to include a quote from the final page of the original text:-

Whosoever expresses Love brings Spirit, which is One, into manifestation.
To be loving is to be good.
Whosoever expresses hate brings separateness into manifestation.
To be separate is to be dead.
Therefore, choose Love and live.”

Some sources:

The Cosmic Doctrine, Dion Fortune (1949, 1966 and 1995 editions)
The Story of Dion Fortune, as told to Charles Fielding and Carr Collins, Weiser, 1985
The Cosmic Doctrine – How it all began, Gareth Knight, 2013

Thursday, 1 January 2015

A thought for 2015

I sat one winter's night, musing upon the significance of the simple and beautiful story around which all the rejoicing and festivity of Christmas are centred, and preceding, each year, the miraculous rebirth in Nature which is Spring. Could a nation shorn of the fruits of an outwardly lustrous past find rebirth and put forth new strength and growth? The fall and disappearance of proud empires down the winding road of time did not encourage such a hope; yet where before had thrived a brotherhood of nations such as ours? Must the great spirit of this ancient people give place to inner dissension and the cleavage of its vital force?”

- Ronald Heaver


Sunday, 28 December 2014

Avalon of the Heart

"It is to this Avalon of the Heart the pilgrims still go. 
Some in bands, knowing what they seek. 
Some alone, with the staff of vision in their hands, 
awaiting what may come to meet them on this holy ground. 
None go away as they came."

- Avalon of the Heart by Dion Fortune

Sunday, 28 September 2014

The Flight of the Phoenix

For the egg was now red-hot, and inside it something was moving. Next moment there was a soft cracking sound; the egg burst in two, and out of it came a flame-coloured bird. It rested a moment among the flames, and as it rested there the four children could see it growing bigger and bigger under their eyes.
Every mouth was a-gape, every eye a-goggle.
The bird rose in its nest of fire, stretched its wings, and flew out into the room. It flew round and round, and round again, and where it passed the air was warm.”

The Phoenix and the Carpet by Edith Nesbit

In the biography Dion Fortune and the Inner Light, Gareth Knight writes an illuminating chapter entitled “The Flight of the Phoenix.” Appearing towards the end of the book, the chapter summarises an important transformational point in the story of Dion Fortune and the Society of the Inner Light. Somewhat like a pressure cooker, the weight of circumstances—which had been building in the background since the group’s formal ritual Inauguration of the Lesser Mysteries on the 21st December 1928—seems to have reached a critical state. Something needed to shift, and the winds of change were demanding it!

In 1961, the then Warden, Arthur Chichester, had dismantled the Society’s grade structure and stripped everything right down to the bare bones of the First Degree. At the time it was felt that this was needed as a safety valve. However, as Knight himself comments, “If the enclosed part of the Society of the Inner Light retrenched to preserve the spiritual principles of Dion Fortune in a condition of pristine purity, so, after another manner, did the spirit of Dion Fortune or rays from the Inner Light move out into the world.”

The reality was that this kind of restrictive modus operandi couldn’t remain unchanged indefinitely. The Inner Plane Adepti need a range of alternative routes to express and teach the Mysteries. Key Society members of the time also felt that the wider magical and ceremonial methods previously taught in the Society—but which had now been ceased—had a particular relevance for the emerging Aquarian epoch. The Phoenix needed to rise and fly out into the world to allow the regeneration of these methods in new forms appropriate for a New Age. 

The Phoenix seems a most apt symbol for this part of the Inner Light’s story. It is often seen as a symbol of the Risen Christ because of its regenerative abilities. Similarly, in Ancient Egypt, the Bennu bird had also been the symbol of the resurrected god Osiris. Within the Qabalistic Tradition, the Phoenix is also seen as the symbol of Enoch, who “walked with God, and was not, for God took him,” eventually becoming the eternal Archangel Metatron. Transfigured and transformed by the Divine fire, Enoch became the deathless “Prince of the Countenance”.

In Egyptian mythical tradition, each 500 years the Phoenix would fly across the skies of the world until it came to the temple city of Heliopolis. There the priests and priestesses had prepared a large mound of sweet smelling frankincense wood for the bird’s arrival. This would serve as both a cremation pyre as well as its fiery nest and womb for the immortal bird’s subsequent rebirth. Once the Phoenix alighted, the light of the Sun would be directed to further ignite the wood and the bird would be consumed by the flames. Later on the same day, the Phoenix would arise anew as the “Bird of Splendid Flame,” exemplifying the Mystery of Regeneration.

Gareth Knight’s “The Flight of the Phoenix” tells a little bit about some of the key personalities and groups which, for want of a better word, flew out from ashes of the old forsaken methods and teachings of the Inner Light; going out into the world to teach afresh and further develop the Western Mystery Tradition along the lines promulgated by Dion Fortune. Like the Inner Light itself, many of these groups or indeed their own offspring are still around today, some quite public and others remaining hidden from the well tread roads.

One of the senior members Gareth Knight mentions as having departed the Society in the 1960s on the flight of the phoenix was Charles Fielding. With two other ex-members of the Society he would go on to first form the Society of Western Mythologists and then, in 1975, the London Group, based for over three decades in the capital city before moving to the heart of England. Two photographs of the London Group's publicity leaflet are shown below. On the other side of the pond, Fielding would also form the Star and Cross group on Euclid Avenue, in the Highland Park district of Dallas, Texas, with the help of talented Jungian Analyst and writer, Dr James Hall MD, and wealthy philanthropist, Carr P Collins Junior.

Fielding would also leave a legacy of two important books. The first of these was The Story of Dion Fortune published by Red Wheel/Weiser in 1985 and again in 1998 by Thoth Publications. Despite its incompleteness, flaws and occasional misassumptions, for many years, this was arguably the most definitive book on the subject matter by insiders who were living and breathing the Western Mysteries.

Following this, Fielding wrote The Practical Qabalah which was first published by Red Wheel / Weiser in 1989 and then again in 2008. In many respects it remains one of the simplest, clearest and most profound expositions available on a magical and psychological approach to the Qabalah. The postscript to this book nicely captures the encouraging, pragmatic and occasionally provocative approach he and his groups applied to seekers and initiates alike:-

Why did you read this book? What is the point of it all? Where are you going now?

The point of it all is the regeneration of yourself, your community, nation and planet: the fulfilment of the plan. And what is the Great Plan after all but the sum-total of the fulfilment of each individual’s own plan? So your efforts and struggles and triumphs are all parts of the whole and supremely worthwhile.” 

With the exception of some lectures and meetings in London, Fielding remained a relatively private man who was keen to avoid the pitfalls, glamour and distractions which often plague those who choose a public life in magic.

Living during the 1950’s in the Society’s enclosed community of 3 Queensborough Terrace, Bayswater, Fielding embarked on a career with the Royal Air Force, eventually working as a University lecturer, as well as getting married and raising two children. Born in Elstead, Surrey, on the 21st of October 1929, he passed over to the other side on the 16th of March 1998 in Shropshire. Not much else about his life is currently in the public domain.

As one of the people described by Knight in “The Flight of the Phoenix,” who figuratively flew forth from the Inner Light, Fielding’s wider esoteric legacy—apart from his limited published works—is likely to remain hidden to the majority of people, at least for the foreseeable future. Whether this will change over time remains to be seen. However, I suspect that is exactly as he would want it.

Readers may be interested in the following extract from an erudite article written by Fielding, and published in Quest during 1972. Much of what he says remains fresh and relevant some 42 years later, although I’ve made a very small number of edits for clarity’s sake.  I hope you enjoy it.

Occultism – the White, the Black and the Fatuous

About fifty years ago Dion Fortune wrote a series of articles about her local occult scene. Later, in summing up her findings, she said that three sorts of occult activity existed; the white, the black and the fatuous.

That was half a century ago, yet the situation today is curiously similar. Once again there is a marked increase of interest in occultism, magic and ritual and a proliferation of groups, Societies and covens of all shapes, sizes and shades of whiteness. In the writer's opinion, black occultism is very rare as it calls for a one-pointed dedication to evil as complete as the white adept's devotion to good. And true adepts (of either hue) are few and far between - very few and far between. The dividing line between fatuous and serious activities is fairly simply defined. The fatuous operation is performed for personal amusement or self-aggrandisement, while the serious one is carried out either for personal regeneration or the good of humankind. The first is self orientated and seeks to draw something towards the operator; the second is universally orientated and intended to give out something to all humanity. The former attracts, the latter radiates.

Obviously all generalisations such as this are over simplification and must be unfair in some cases. Most serious occultists start their career with a nebulous philosophy, ill-formulated aims and enormous enthusiasm. But after a series of flirtations with Abramelin, Crowley and the Golden Dawn, the serious seeker starts to analyse their own motives and to define their goals. The answers they get determines their subsequent involvement. Either they decide to get themselves trained in the theory and practice of their art or remain a dabbler. The difference is the same as that between a knight and a collector of weapons and armour. The latter shows off their toys and has fun dressing up and waving their sword about; but the knight uses lance and blade in the quest for the Holy Grail. To the one it is a hobby; to the other a way of life.

The word “occultism” is often used as if it were synonymous with the Western Mystery Tradition. It is not. Occultism is simply a set of techniques. A plough is not to be confused with the cultivated land which its proper use produces. Neither should the occult powers be confused with the goal of the initiate, yet they are the means whereby that goal may be attained. Humankind is by nature a form-builder and the occultist simply extends their operations to other levels. By their knowledge and the proper use of their tools they build a structure which towers into the other worlds. But the object of the form is simply to enable them to observe the higher planes and work therein. Once they have established themselves, the scaffolding can be removed.

Magic” is another subject of great interest these days. Rightly for it is simply applied occultism. One definition of magic describes as “the science and art of building forms for the focussing, direction and application of subtle forces”. This is a very illuminating interpretation, if properly considered. Again there is the idea of a structure, purpose built to perform a stated task. Neither do ethical considerations apply to a structure; only to the way it is used.

Four things really determine the difference between the fatuous and the serious in the occult world: aptitude, dedication, training and context. The serious worker, whether a solitary or a member of a group will display natural aptitude for occult work. They will not merely be a sensation-monger or a dabbler trying out a few techniques to see if they work. They will be a committed person. They will also be a person either already trained (and the training may have gone on for many lives) or in the process of being trained by competent people. And finally, and possibly most important of all, they will see the work they are doing in context, as a part a great structure, a structure which is universal and not merely personal.

Which brings up the subject of the Structure itself. Occultists do not like creeds. No serious occult group will ask a prospective member to prove their suitability for entry by reciting a list of "I believes". And a very good thing too, because no one really knows. A neophyte's experience in working on the material enriches the group experience. But if they disagree constructively and offers an explanation better than the traditional one, then so much the better. Nevertheless, despite the need for a liberal attitude and a questing mind, serious work can only be performed against an agreed background or frame of reference. Certainly facts must be assumed as axiomatic or at least agreed upon as a working hypothesis if results are to be achieved in occultism as in any other field. A first solo is not the best time for a pilot to question the law of gravity. A minimum of fundamentals must surely be agreed upon between occultists working together, the question is which?

On a matter of this sort no one person can make the laws for another, but the writer would hesitate to do any serious work with anyone who could not accept as working hypothesis the following:

·         - that there is an invisible reality which lies behind physical phenomena and that material forms and forces are the outer manifestation of inner causes

·         - that humanity is an evolving spiritual being of the same nature as the Deity, although vastly junior to It in development, and possessed of free-will in the limits of the system which it is currently working

·         - that everything is in a state of evolution and that there exists a plan or purpose which guides evolution

·         - that Humankind has its own individual part to play in the great evolutionary scheme

·         - that the evolutionary scheme in which Humankind is currently working is hindered by its errors and by the action of intelligent forces deliberately working against the evolutionary plan

·         - that Humankind assumes many bodies in its long evolutionary journey and that, as action generates reaction, so is a human's present state environment the result of attitudes and actions set in motion by them in the past

       - that when a person has learned the lessons of matter,  they need no longer incarnate but continue to evolve on non-physical levels

·         - that the concepts of the evolutionary scheme are passed down an inner hierarchy of beings of whom physical Humankind is the terminal in dense matter responsible for embodying these ideas in the material world

Possibly all occultists take these things for granted, yet the amount of ineffectual dabbling makes one doubt it. If we train others, let us do it properly. If we are looking for someone to train us, let us accept nothing but the best and be prepared to search until we find what we want.

If all the fatuous were properly trained, the devil would have a hard time of it!

Further sources readers of View from the Big Hills may wish to explore include:

The Story of Dion Fortune, Fielding and Collins, Thoth Publications
The Practical Qabalah, Charles Fielding, Thoth Publications
Dion Fortune and the Inner Light, Gareth Knight, Thoth Publications
Yours Very Truly, Gareth Knight, Skylight Press
I Called It Magic, Gareth Knight, Skylight Press
Priestess, Alan Richardson, Aquarian Press
The Quest for Dion Fortune, Janine Chapman, Weiser
Persuasion's of the Witches' Craft: Ritual Magic in Contemporary England, Tanya M. Luhrmann, Harvard University Press
Fifty Years of Wicca, Fred Lamond, Green Magic
Sects, Cults and Alternative Religions: A World Survey and Source Book, David Barrett, Blandford Press