Monday, December 30, 2013


First bright spark in my new year comes in the form of a little book by R J Stewart entitled The Arch of Heaven.  The subject of the book and its contents will not be unfamiliar to anyone who has worked with RJS over the years,  who has read his books The Underworld Initiation or Living Magical Arts,  where they are quoted, or indeed  has attended any of his workshops, or worked with him in a magical capacity. It concerns that most evocative of openings to any transcendental work   that begins:

In the Name of the Son of Light – The Son of Maria – Foster-son of Brighd in Avalon – Keystone of the Arch of Heaven – Who joins as One the Forks upholding of the Sky.....

And concludes with:

.....Do you see us here – Oh Son of Light? – Says the Son of Light: “I See!”

There are many of us who can vouch for the evocative power of these lines to the point that – imitation being the sincerest form of flattery – a number of us have used them within our own workings on various occasions.  What this little book does is to give a run down on how these evocative lines came about, and to what use this opening can be put in the wider field of esoteric working.

As a prayer  it provides a simple and effective means for liberating those who are trapped after physical death, and may be unable or unwilling to move on. It also offers a method of attuning a location, typically a room or a house (room by room). It can be recited aloud from the printed page, although is best learned by heart.

As a meditative practice, undertaken daily, it provides the means of attuning to deep spiritual forces and consciousness of liberation, redemption, beauty and harmony.  It gently brings us into balance not only in our consciousness but simultaneously within our bodies.

As a ceremony, it can enable a group or an individual to consciously attune a dedicated or chosen space to compassionate spiritual forces.

Many of us had assumed The Arch of Heaven to be of ancient Celtic provenance, it certainly has that feel to it, along with the unique ability to be at one with those of a Christian or a pagan religious persuasion, and it  is thus usable in a variety of circumstances and with mixed groups.  However, its origins are far from what anyone might have expected, as is revealed in the first part of the book, describing the origin of the verses and their content.  Quite an instructive little ghost story in itself!

The second part of the book describes various ways of working with it and, to my mind, includes some very perceptive and relevant remarks and guidelines on the dynamics of inner plane contact and those assumed to be communicating from there. A lot of this ought to be compulsory reading for a whole host of those who aspire to or who claim to be working along these lines.

As R J Stewart says in his Introduction – “It has taken more than thirty-five years to write this book. Rather than being solely a development of text, it has been a deep current within my life, and in more recent years within the lives of others trained to work with The Arch of Heaven. As the main text affirms, you can use the verses beneficially in many ways without the special training that such deeper levels require. Anyone can open The Arch of Heaven when spiritual aid is truly necessary; please read on to discover why and how, and what happens when you do so.”

Amen to that!  This is certainly a little gem of a book – indeed a potential classic – that deserves a place on anybody’s bookshelf of even handbag or back pocket!

Published by R.J.Stewart Books, printed in USA and UK, contact

ISBN 978-0-9856006-1-7 $14.95  £10.00

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christ and Qabalah

December 23, 2013 by PeregrinWildoak on his blog magicoftheordinary. Happy Christmas everyone!

I was lucky enough to read the main subject of this book, the late Rev. Anthony Duncan, way back in the day, when I first started out on this esoteric caper – in fact before I read any Gareth Knight. This was due to the local Theosophical Society Library holding a copy of his The Christ, Psychotherapy and Magic. Even though I was immersed in and espousing my newly adopted Pagan ‘faith’, the book touched me deeply and I daresay held me fast during many years of theological speculation and confusion.

Far from being an ordinary village or city Anglican vicar, the Rev. Duncan was also a mystic of great depth, a lover of faeries, a part-time ghost-buster, a natural psychic and a wonderful exponent of the esoteric truths behind Christianity. The Church of England occasionally throws up such a soul, but rarely do they flourish within and outside the bounds of the Church as Rev. Duncan did.

On the outer reaches of the Church one only has to look at his classic The Elements of Celtic Christianity which had wide appeal back in the 90s, even to a Perth Pagan audience :)Within the church one can look at his long career as a parish priest, the respect he garnered and one or two more ‘out there’ moments. Take for example, his authorship of the clergy-only document The Psychic Disturbance of Places describing a rationale for psychic disruptions of places, ghosts and place memories and how a priest may assist in their resolution (which somehow made it past the church’s Doctrine Commission).

Christ & Qabalah, by the respected elder of English Magic, Gareth Knight, traces the meeting and esoteric interaction of ideas and works between himself and Rev Duncan. One can imagine that two innovators within their respective spiritual fields would have much to say to one another, much to spark off each other and much to gain from each other’s depth. Without being unduly intimate, Gareth Knight’s sharing of correspondence, diary entries and poems allows the reader to enter a wonderful and intensely personal relationship. As he describes, even though the two lived in the same town for only a short time as young men, afterwards they were ‘seldom out of each other’s heads’.

Knight recounts their relationship in a largely chronological manner, allowing the development of ideas and works, the refinement of beliefs and practices of each other to be clearly shown. This book is far more than a simple sketch of the life of Rev. Duncan; Knight draws out, places in context and shows how each influenced the other and the ramifications of their work for the greater esoteric and ‘post-Church’ worlds. His writing, as always, is clear, engaging and attractive, here with the addition of personal elements and anecdotes, as the author is quite happy to present the differences between himself and Rev. Duncan when they arose.

The great strength of the book is the snapshot into the diversity and depth of the work of Rev. Duncan, and also (when he elaborates on it) the work of Gareth Knight. Duncan is revealed as a man of great depth and mystic awareness, a (literally) inspired writer and proficient poet.

Myself (of which I make so great

a fuss) is a mere, brittle spike

of consciousness on the circumference of being;

a tiny terminal of unplumbed depth. (‘ME’, p.7)


Our being falls towards this point

Where all the lines converge” (‘NIRVANA POINT’, p.35)

Or in a more elemental mood:

Sprits of wood and water, stone and field,

whom my sophistication disallows, yet abide

and creep beneath my carapace. I know you well; (‘DEVELOPMENT’, p152)

There are many aspects to Duncan’s work and ideas that could easily be labelled ‘Pagan’, his deep faerie and land connection for instance. And the influence of Gareth Knight, steering him towards the Qabalah, produced material which may easily be called ‘magical’ by some people. However, the book shows that throughout it all Duncan was clear and insistent on the need for a Christocentric view of the occult and the hidden dimensions. He was devout in only the way those who have gone to the very depth of their traditions, seeing the Mystery clearly, eye to eye, can be. For Duncan, nature revealed the ‘grandeur of God’ (as Knight aptly summed it up in the words of the poet, Gerard Manley Hopkins) but was not God in toto. And as for magic and esoteric theories:

…magic, the art of making consciousness in accordance with the will, is a ‘lower pyramid’ exercise only. Its fulfilment is in Christ – but then it is no longer magic! (p.93)


Christians believe, not in avatars or incarnations, but in The Incarnation. “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us” as a Person of that One Creature, Mankind. The integrity of the one and the many – and the One – are all bound up inextricably. Mankind is a Love Affair…We have hardly begun to think about the implications of The Incarnation for Mankind. It is easier to waffle on about theology, or “incarnations” or vague “cosmics” of one sort or another, while Godhead lies, like a time-bomb in our midst. (p.139)

The book reveals however that Rev Duncan fully and firmly accepted the reality of the inner worlds, the faeries, reincarnation, psychic power and other mainstays of the occult. He also simply accepted the core Christian doctrine that despite our best efforts we sin (move away from the One) and only with the grace of the One (through Christ) can we hope to begin to ‘want to want God’. Our own efforts, such as his definition of magic, described in quotation above, are bound to fail. These and other aspects of the Christian tradition, which remained core to his understanding of the world, are described and explored well in the book (and in some of Gareth Knight’s other works). They remain both a challenge and an opportunity for all modern students of western magic, and as such this book is ideally suited for anyone interested in magic, the occult or the deeper sides of Christianity. It is as unique as the two men, the two soul friends, who produced it. Highly recommended.

Christ & Qabalah: Or, the Mind in the Heart. Gareth Knight with Anthony Duncan. Skylight Press.


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Three facets of the Faery Melusine

At Christmas time the traditional role for a faery seems to be perched on top of a Christmas tree, possibly, in a secular age, standing in for one of the angels who scared the pants off the shepherds as they watched their flocks by night. Although the faery Melusine of Lusignan, who knew all about meeting humans more than halfway, insisted that she was a good Christian, along with the belief that a bit of magic never did anyone any harm. Not that all ended up roses for her – but that was largely because of her husband’s fault. Trust a human to muck things up!

Anyhow her story comes to mind for me this Yuletide with the reissue, by Skylight Press, of my first book about her: Melusine of Lusignan and the Cult of the Faery Woman, and it may be helpful to distinguish this approach to Melusine as compared to my other two books about her The Romance of the Faery Melusine and The Book of Melusine of Lusignan in History, Legend and Romance. Each one shows a different facet of the lady.

I was so struck by the legend of Melusine that when I first came upon it I was moved to write out her story for myself – including that of her amazing relations – her faery mother Pressine, who hailed from Scotland (as Queen of Albany) and was on close terms with Morgan le Fay and her magic island that one only finds by chance – her sisters Melior and Palastine, respective guardians of an initiatory test of the hawk each midsummer’s day, and of a great treasure hidden in a mountain guarded by a giant - and her ten sons, most of them marked in some way as a consequence of their faery origin – one with one all seeing eye, another with three. Four of them were great heroes and rescued rich damsels in distress to become kings of Switzerland, Bohemia, Armenia and Cyprus. They had a younger brother, Geoffrey Great-tooth, who was a giant killer but subject to boar like rages and killed his brother Fromond after he had become a monk – by burning down the abbey along with the rest of the community. Then there was the aptly named Horrible, and the less said about him the better. Even his mother suggested having him put down in infancy before he grew up to be completely uncontrollable. There can be quite a savage side to those of the faery kingdoms – they are not all sugar and spice and flimsy draperies. To these stories I added a little of my own experience of contacts with faery and modern facets of the tradition with a chapter on Melusine today. All this has been supplemented in the new edition of  Melusine of Lusignan and the Cult of the Faery Woman, with a fabulous front cover of the picture of the faery flying round her castle from the Duke de Bery’s “Book of Hours” – he being a lord of Lusignan in his day. 

But for those who want to be transported by the story of Melusine by a master story teller can do no better than immerse themselves in The Romance of the Faery Melusine, which is my translation of the story as told by the brilliant French novelist AndrĂ© Lebey –  and I can do no better than quote from a review at the time from the librarian of the Society of the Inner Light:

·         I loved this book. I read it with the music of  French folkies “Malicorne” playing in the background, and I savoured every word. Yes, the descriptions are so evocative that one can almost taste them! Lebey/Knight have achieved a hyperrealism through an almost hallucinatory pageant of minutiae which build and heighten the sense of time and place, of mood, of emotion, creating from the bare bones of legend a world entire. And it’s action packed! All human life is there, love and loss, bravery, betrayal…The people are real, though distant in space and time; we are shown, as it were, a myth through a series of masques or tapestries that dazzle and delight the senses. Comparisons are odious, but if you are thinking to yourself “the reviewer loves it, but will I?” then if you like what Evangeline Walton did with Celtic myth, you probably will. There is in Lebey/Knight’s book a particularly French sensibility which makes it unique, of course. Here is a master of story weaving his magic and bringing the lovely lady Melusine back to us once more, impressing the legend firmly into our mind’s eye.

Suffice to say that it is one of the best selling Skylight fiction titles and one that I am very proud of, to the extent of attempting another translation of a Lebay title all about druids – but more of that later.

Finally, for those who like to buttress themselves with the factual is The Book of Melusine of Lusignan in History, Legend and Romance as a consequence of my own visit to Lusignan from which I have culled the story of Melusine as recounted by a local parish priest; a definitive essay on Melusine by the French academic Louis Stouff who edited the original text of her romance; some photographs and descriptions of the church and town of Lusignan, which the faery was also said to have built, along with a crib of the first English translation of the Melusine story of c.1500-1520. All topped off with a couple of chapters of my own researches into a historical outline of the Lords of Lusignan (a couple of whom were Kings of the Crusader Kingdoms of Cyprus and Jerusalem) and of Faery Tradition and  Jerusalem. As one of my readers, the Avalonian Ian Rees, has remarked: As someone who lives in Glastonbury and who works regularly in Jerusalem I see much potential in what is being offered to us in what can seem like a quaint story of faery ancestry. The juxtaposition of the apparently ethereal world of the Faerie with the blood and guts and ancient hatreds and holiness of Jerusalem might seem a trivial thing – a bit like calling on Tinker Bell to save the world, but trust me, Faerie can handle it. The encounter with the Christian mystery with Faery is at the heart of the Grail and Arthurian traditions and in these books it seems to me we are seeing a new unveiling of the mystery.

For more information on all this and more, take a trip to the Skylight Press web site.