Ernest Page Obituary

An obituary of Ernest Page, who died on 30th June, 1966.
Thought to be from a North London newspaper.

HIS HOMELESS FRIENDS AT
FUNERAL OF ASTROLOGER

Several homeless friends were at the funeral of astrologer and poet, Mr Ernest Britten Page, a member of a well known Hornsey family, who died at the end of June.

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Clipping courtesy    Stan Green

After the funeral they were invited for tea by his parents, Mr. and Mrs. A. Page, at their home in Clifton Road, Crouch End.

Mr. Page, who was a striking figure with long white hair and beard, had been homeless since 1956, when he felt that living between four walls had become too much of a burden.

Also at the funeral service, in Nodes’ Chapel, Crouch End, and Golders Green Crematorium, which was conducted by Mr Page’s brother, the Rev. Arthur Page, of St John’s Roman Catholic Church, Islington, were Preb. D. W. C. Mossman, vicar, and the Rev. H. Lacy, curate of Christ Church, Crouch End, where Mr. Page’s parents are prominent members, and the Rev. D. Black, minister of Ferme Park Baptist Church. His sister, Miss Ruth Page, who went from Ferme Park Church to be a missionary in the Congo, returned from there on leave two days before the funeral, and was present with his other sister, Mary.

Mr Page was born 52 years ago in Hillfield Avenue, Hornsey. He attended St Mary’s Church of England School, Hornsey, and Tollington School, Muswell Hill.

LAY PREACHER

He was a member for several years of Ferme Park Baptist Church and became, in his late teens, a lay preacher at Campsbourne Mission, Hornsey.

During the 1930s he took an active interest in politics, and was a speaker and demonstrator.

He was a life-long pacifist, and during the war was a conscientious objector, working as a hospital orderly at the Star and Garter Home for Disabled Soldiers at Richmond, where he made many friends.

At this time, while he was living on Highgate West Hill, he was received into the Roman Catholic Church at Farm Street Jesuit Church, Westminster.

This was the period when he wrote most of his poetry – some of which was published in a volume, 14 poems – and gave weekly poetry readings.

CAROLS, TOO

He had also written and set to music several Christmas carols.

In 1956, with what his family regard as typical suddenness, he walked out of church during Mass. He never, however, abandoned his faith, and his brother said of him at the funeral service, ‘I preach the gospel – but Ernest practises it.’

Despite the efforts of family and friends, he felt it was a burden to live between four walls, and for the last ten years of his life was homeless, though returning regularly to stay with his parents in Crouch End.

His interest in astrology began in 1956, and he became a well known figure in the British Museum, where he studied in the day. In the evenings he received his clients in restaurants in the West End. He shunned publicity for his work, but in this summer’s edition of the “Musical Express” gave predictions for the future of several pop stars.

He took a great interest in the homeless or those in trouble, and spent all his money helping them and visiting men and boys in prisons and Borstals all over the country.

He died in Hyde Park, sitting on a bench writing a letter.

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The Extended Tree

The Extended Tree: modern forms of the Kabbalistic Tree of Life and their origins
Cherry Gilchrist

An article by Cherry Gilchrist about a modern development of the
Tree of Life and its formulation by three Kabbalists:
Glyn Davies, Alan Bain, and Warren Kenton
(otherwise known as Z’ev ben Shimon Halevi).

The Tree of Life is a cosmic map used by Kabbalists to represent the flow of creation from first principles to physical manifestation. ‘Flow’ is a useful word because Kabbalah never is and never was entirely fixed as a system. Kabbalists, certainly in the last five hundred years, have experimented with different forms of the Tree, with variation in layout, the number of paths and how they are placed between the sefiroth. The version that we know best today is probably more fixed than it has been for centuries, but even so changes may sometimes be made, to try and represent different aspects of Kabbalistic teaching.

Tree

The Tree of Life

This has been the case with devising a glyph for the Tree of Life which can represent the four different levels, or ‘worlds’ of Creation. Each sefira on the Tree is said to contain all four worlds, and by the same token, there can be a Tree for each world. But if there is a Tree of Assiah, the material world, a Tree of Yetzirah, the imaginative principle, of Briah which is fiery and creative, and Aziluth which is the purest and most etheric form – then how might these be shown in an integrated form? Would it be possible to ‘extend’ the existing Tree somehow? Such questions played in the minds of Kabbalists, who are on the whole nosey people, and curious about how everything works. Could it be made to work better? Speculation is part of the game; the search for the Extended Tree was on.

This is where we can switch to a very particular account of how a modern form of the Extended Tree took shape, with its roots in a 1950s Kabbalah group, and formulated in different ways by three Kabbalists: Glyn Davies, Alan Bain, and Warren Kenton (otherwise known as Z’ev ben Shimon Halevi). The source was a circle of people who used to gather in Soho in the 1950s and 60s to study Kabbalah, who were known simply as ‘The Group’. I will return to them later. I will also just add here that I am writing this based on my own research first-hand observations, plus similar research by colleagues. But although I’m making this as historically accurate as possible, it will to some extent be influenced by the line that Glyn Davies founded, which is the path that I took, rather than that of Alan Bain or Warren Kenton. These three lines are indeed intertwined, and share certain values and a similar type of knowledge, but they do not share exactly the same outlook.

Glyn Davies’ group and the Extended Tree

In the early 1970s, Glyn Davies was casting around for a satisfactory way to draw up an extended Tree of Life, a Jacob’s ladder that could represent the interaction of the four worlds. At that time, my former husband Chris Gilchrist and I were members of Glyn’s Kabbalah group, which met on Monday evenings in the front room of his flat in Maida Vale. Chris and I had been introduced to Kabbalah in 1970 at meetings of the Society of the Common Life, in our final year as students at Cambridge University. We moved to London that summer and were eager to take our study of the Tree further. Glyn was originally from Wales, and had served in the RAF; during his service he learned about the Kabbalistic Tree of Life, and baffled the authorities by putting up a drawing of it above his bunk bed! He successfully argued the case for keeping it there on religious grounds, as that was the only kind of poster allowed. His teacher was said to come from a Kabbalistic line that came over to the United Kingdom from the Low Countries just after World War I. This line was also said to have a connection with the medieval movement of the Brothers and Sisters of the Common Life, hence the use of the term ‘Common Life’ in groups and public talks.

In 1972, in our informal sessions in Glyn’s kitchen, following the close of the formal Monday night group, we discussed the Four Worlds and how they might fit together in a diagrammatic form. There seemed to be no satisfactory model around for this.  Chris Gilchrist then took a look at Frater Achad’s  book, The Anatomy of the Body of God, which showed various colourful arrangements of multiple sets of The Tree of Life. Chris showed the book to Glyn, and said that in his view Achad’s diagrams didn’t work, but something along similar lines could. This was the spark needed; shortly afterwards, Glyn came up with the Extended Tree as we now know it. In this Tree, the Kether of the lower Tree becomes the Tiferet of the next higher one, and there are nine Sefirot down the right and left pillars, and ten (plus the ‘invisible’ sefira of Daat) down the centre.

The Extended Tree proved to be a very useful model for our ‘Common Life’ Kabbalah groups of the 1970s and early 80s. There was plenty of scope for working out what this new set of interconnections might mean, including equating it with the mystical and philosophical study of the ‘Octave’[i].

treein4

The Extended Tree showing the trees in each of the four worlds.
(The three smaller spheres at the top are specific to Alan Bain’s system).

Warren Kenton’s Development of the Extended Tree

However, back in 1972, at the time of the discovery, Glyn Davies showed the Extended Tree to Warren Kenton. Glyn and Warren were old companions on the esoteric path, and Warren had recently started his own Kabbalah group, which was to develop into a full teaching school over the decades. In fact, it was Glyn Davies who had introduced him to the Kabbalistic Tree of Life and its attributions; Glyn is described as his Instructor in Warren’s autobiography. (All Warren Kenton’s books on Kabbalah are published under his Jewish name of Z’ev ben Shimon Halevi). Warren decided to take on the Extended Tree, and published it in his 1974 book Adam and the Kabbalistic Tree, where he named it ‘Jacob’s Ladder’. The symbol of ‘Jacob’s Ladder’, stretching between heaven and earth, was an apt one for the kind of spiritual ladder that the Extended Tree represented and, as we shall see, Warren was not the only person to use it. Very probably too, the notion of a ‘Jacob’s Ladder’ kind of Tree might have been debated in the early Soho groups. As far as the Extended Tree diagram went, Glyn himself was not so sure that it should be published. This was not because of any individual claim he might have made to it, but more because he sensed that he had perhaps re-discovered an old, hidden tradition of Kabbalah. At around the same time that Warren’s book came out, Jill Purce published a diagram of the Extended Tree in her book The Mystic Spiral, also printed in 1974. This again originated from her contact with Glyn, and was never properly authorised for inclusion. However, by then the Extended Tree was out in the world, and Warren Kenton has made use of it as an excellent teaching tool and source of wisdom ever since. Warren, aka Z’ev ben Shimon Halevi, makes acknowledgement of this in his autobiography:

‘Jacob’s ladder [the extended tree] was rediscovered by my Instructor and another member of our circle. The latter brought him the reproduction of a modern painting of kabbalistic trees, set inside one another. The idea that within each sefirah there is a little Tree and within that another and so on until there were ten, is well known, but not in terms of a Ladder. The painting had several Trees telescoped inside one another, but in no obvious order. My colleagues then saw that if this image could be pulled out, like a telescope, it might make more sense. They redrew the model in terms of the four worlds and suddenly Jacob’s Ladder was there with the Great Tree on the central column. When the Kabbalah group was shown this scheme, we were stunned. It explained many of the obscure texts in kabbalistic literature where a ‘Ladder of Ascent’ is mentioned.

‘I took this ‘Extended Tree’ and used it as the basis for the Adam book…My job was to put the scheme together in a coherent way.’[ii]

According to the Kabbalah Society, Warren Kenton has since associated his teaching with the ‘Toledo line’ of Kabbalah, which flourished in the 14th and 15th centuries in Spain, and considers that he is an inheritor of that tradition. [iii] He has also since put in a great deal of work to develop the newly-discovered, or rediscovered Extended Tree (depending upon your perspective) into a practical form for the current era. Whether or not this Tree has an affinity with the Toledo tradition, I am not qualified to say.

So this accounts for two streams of work on the Extended Tree in the 20th and 21st centuries. The differences between the two usages of the system are probably slight, and it was formulated at a time when Glyn and Warren met regularly, exchanged many ideas, and helped each other with the correspondences that were attributed to the Tree. I recall the time when various scientific principles were chosen, with the two men hammering out the options in discussion. But what of the third Kabbalist in this equation, the Rev. Alan Bain, as he was known?

Alan Bain and the Extended Tree

For that, we must rewind to 1956, a time when Bohemian Soho was at its zenith. Coffee bars ruled the scene, and aspiring artists, musicians and writers, along with homeless runaways, mingled there on a daily basis. Many were just setting out on their journey, and they were true seekers, trying to pick their way through bomb-damaged London both literally and figuratively, as they endeavoured to make sense of the new post-war world. Here Alan Bain started meet-ups for those who were interested in spiritual matters, and the Kabbalah in particular. Informal discussions in cafes were the entry point to private groups which individuals who were serious about discovering a path to knowledge could join on a regular basis.

Alan Bain came into ‘the Work’ after a career at sea that ended in shipwreck, and a formative experience[iv] that established a connection with the spiritual planes. He studied in the British Museum Reading Room, taught Kabbalah, and later became ordained in the Independent Catholic Church. Glyn Davies too began attending Alan Bain’s new group, but was already knowledgeable; he took a place on the sidelines. Perhaps he introduced Alan to Kabbalah – but it is more likely that we shall never know the exact details of who learned what, when and where. The main point is that this was the start of a long, intermittent collaboration between two Kabbalists with, ultimately, rather different forms of teaching. And the main result in relation to the current context is that Alan Bain eventually devised his own form of the Extended Tree, which he too, like Warren Kenton, called Jacob’s Ladder.

It is in its diagrammatic shape almost identical with the versions used by Glyn Davies and Warren Kenton. However, Alan Bain chose to include the ‘three veils of Negative Existence’ as they are known (Ain, Ain Soph, and Ain Soph Aur), as spheres at the top of the Tree. This gives a total of 32 spheres in the extended tree, which Alan equated to the 32 paths of wisdom mentioned in the Sepher Yetzirah.[v] The whole of this teaching is written-up in Alan’s book The Keys to the Kabbalah, which may date from as early as 1970, although the introduction to the first printed edition states that it was completed in 1977. Does this show a relationship to the Extended Tree which Glyn first drew out in 1972? I believe that it does. For one thing, the two diagrams are very similar in form; it would be remarkable if two men who knew each other and worked together managed to draw up almost exactly the same version of the Extended Tree. Added to this, the timing fits, since Alan Bain was living back in London from approximately 1970 to 1972 after moving down to the West Country in the 1960s. Although by this time the two no longer worked in groups together, Alan visited Glyn to share his current thoughts and likewise Glyn was able to show him what he was working on. There was still a degree of collaboration present, and the two stayed in touch for many years afterwards. (Both are now deceased.)

Since publishing the original version of this article, however, information has come to light which suggests that Alan Bain was using his Jacob’s ladder diagram as early as 1967/68. This might indicate that the concept of the extended tree did originate earlier with Alan Bain, or, more likely, with the original Kabbalah group in the 1950s and 60s.

Conclusion

The argument is, then, that these three very different teachers of Kabbalah – Glyn Davies, Warren Kenton and Alan Bain – all derived their versions of the Extended Tree from the same initial impulse, instigated by the early Kabbalistic group in London’s Soho. At present, there is uncertainty as to whether Glyn Davies or Alan Bain was the first to produce a workable version, and whether these came about independently or through collaboration. There are several of us who can vouch for the emergence of the Extended Tree as used by Davies around 1972 and adopted shortly afterwards by Kenton. This was definitely a new formulation at the time, not copied from elsewhere. On the other hand, there is evidence that Alan Bain’s Jacob’s Ladder was probably around a few years earlier, in diagrammatic form at least. Perhaps these two Kabbalists had worked together in the early Soho Group on the idea of a ‘Ladder’, and independently, the seeds sown had come to fruition for both. At any rate, all three men here have acknowledged their connection to a far more ancient tradition of Kabbalah. And those who can connect with this particular ‘stream’ may find that ideas that emerge are not ‘personal’ in the normal sense. It may be possible to find an idea floating down that stream, which is ripe for re-visioning in our own time. Being the recipient of such an idea does not rule out real work though; the person or group usually needs to make long and persistent effort to formulate it, test it out, and make it accessible to others. Each of these three men has done that in their own individual way.

The mind of mankind encompasses the centuries, and true thinking and teaching lays down some kind of wisdom that those who come later may be able to access. Perhaps the arrival of the Extended Tree was indeed ‘a whisper from the School of Knowledge’, as the Zohar says.

It was (God’s) will…that mind should be placed in the midst as a prize that human souls may win…He filled a great basin with mind and sent it down to earth; and he appointed a herald, and bade him make a proclamation to the hearts of men: “Hearken, each human heart; dip yourself in this basin, if you can, recognizing for what purpose you have been made, and believing that you shall ascend to Him who sent the basin down.” Now those who gave heed to the proclamation, and dipped themselves in the bath of mind, these men got a share of gnosis; they received mind and so became complete men.[vi]

© Cherry Gilchrist 2017

Cherry Gilchrist is an author of books on mythology, alchemy and the Hermetic tradition, including Tarot Triumphs (Red Wheel Weiser 2016) and Divination. She wrote The Tree of Life Oracle with Gila Zur, and her forthcoming book Circle of Nine on feminine archetypes will be published in 2018. See http://www.cherrygilchrist.co.uk


Notes

[i] As often studied in Gurdjieffian and Ouspensky groups. More on the Octave and the Tree of Life is to be found at https://singinghead.wordpress.com/2017/03/01/the-octave-and-the-tree-of-life/

[ii] The Path of a Kabbalist – Z’ev ben Shimon Halevi, (Tree of Life Publishing, 2009) pps. 139-140

[iii] http://www.kabbalahsociety.org/wp/articles/an-introduction-to-kabbalistic-astrology/

[iv] Alan Bain describes this formative experience in an article at http://www.theos-world.com/archives/html/tw199610.html#ARTICLE0041

[v] Alan Bain’s system is outlined at https://esoterichistory.wordpress.com/2016/10/10/alan-bains-thirty-two-paths-of-wisdom/

[vi] Hermetica: 151, translated by Sir Walter Scott

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Alan Bain’s Thirty Two Paths of Wisdom

In the Kabbalah, the Thirty Two Paths of Wisdom are usually understood to be the ten sephiroth and the 22 paths between them on the Tree of Life diagram. However, there are different interpretations, and this article outlines the scheme developed by Alan Bain in his book The Keys to Kabbalah.

The Thirty Two Paths

The Sepher Yetzirah, one of the primary texts of the Kabbalah, opens with a reference to “Thirty two miraculous paths of Wisdom” which by implication are the ten sephiroth and the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet, although there is no direct reference in the rest of the text.

There is however an appendix found on some manuscripts of the Sepher Yetzirah, which explicitly describes the thirty two paths as a series of different types of ‘intelligences’ – for example, the Tenth Path is called the Resplendent Intelligence. This appendix is believed to date from the 17th Century, compared to a much earlier date (perhaps 200 C.E.) for the Sepher Yetzirah itself [1].

The Extended Tree

The extended tree (also called Jacob’s ladder) is an interlocking form of the Tree of Life where trees in the four worlds are shown as overlapping, so that for example the tree in the world of formation, Yetzirah, has its base in the sephira Tiphereth in the material world of Assiah. The extended tree was first publicly presented in Z’ev ben Shimon Halevi’s books published in the early 1970s.

treein4

Showing how the tree in each of the four worlds overlap to make the extended tree.

Alan Bain’s Arrangement of the Thirty Two Paths

Alan links the first three paths of wisdom to the veils of negative existence: Ain, Ain Soph and Ain Soph Aur. The remaining 29 paths are linked to the sephiroth on the extended tree in the order of the descending lightning flash, as illustrated in the diagram below:

treey

Example

To take an example: the 16th path, which is described as “The Triumphant and Eternal Intelligence. The delight of glory. The paradise of pleasure prepared for the just,” corresponds to the sephira which is at once:

Malkuth of Atziluth (the base of the divine world)

Tiphareth of Briah (the heart of the creative world), and

Kether of Yetzirah (the crown of the world of formation).

The full list is given below [3].

Greater Sephiroth

In addition to this arrangement of the 32 paths, Alan also treated the sephiroth on the central pillar as centres of ‘greater sephiroth’. These are shown as circles on the extended tree diagram above. So for example, the 16th path is at the centre of the greater sephira of Geburah, which also incorporates paths 13, 14, 15, 17 18 and 19.

The full list of greater sephiroth is given below [2].


Notes:

[1] The Thirty Two Paths of Wisdom seem to originate as an appendix to a Hebrew version of the Sepher Yetzirah by Joannes Stephanus Rittangelius in 1642. William  Wynn Wescott’s translation is here: http://hermetic.com/texts/yetzirah.html, but Alan Bain used A E Waite’s translation given in his book The Holy Kabbalah.

[2] The full list of the Greater Sephiroth is as follows:

Path Greater Sephira
4 Kether
7 ‘Hokma
10 Binah
13 ‘Hesed
16 Geburah
19 Tiphareth
22 Netzatch
25 Hod
28 Yesod
31 Malkuth

[3] The full list of the 32 paths is as follows:

Path Intelligence Location
1 Admirable Intelligence Ain
2 Illuminating Intelligence Ain Soph
3 Sanctifying Intelligence Ain Soph Aur
4 Arresting or Receiving Intelligence Kether in Atziluth
5 Radical Intelligence ‘Hokma in Atziluth
6 Mediating Intelligence Binah in Atziluth
7 Hidden Intelligence Daath in Atziluth
8 Perfect and Absolute Intelligence ‘Hesed in Atziluth
9 Purified Intelligence Geburah in Atziluth
10 Resplendent Intelligence Tiphareth in Atziluth, Kether in Briah
11 Fiery Intelligence Netzach in Atziluth,
‘Hokma in Briah
12 Intelligence  of Light Hod in Atziluth,
Binah in Briah
13 Inductive Intelligence Yesod in Atziluth,
Daath in Briah
14 Instituting Intelligence ‘Hesed in Briah
15 Constituting Intelligence Geburah in Briah
16 Triumphant and Eternal Intelligence Malkuth in Atziluth,  Tiphareth in Briah,
Kether in Yetzirah
17 Disposing Intelligence Netzach in Briah,
‘Hokma in Yetzirah
18 Intelligence of the House of Influence Hod in Briah,
Binah in Yetzirah
19 Secret Intelligence Yesod in Briah,
Daath Yetzirah
20 Intelligence of Will ‘Hesed in Yetzirah
21 Rewarding Intelligence Geburah in Yetzirah
22 Faithful Intelligence Malkuth in Briah,
Tiphareth in Yetzirah,
Kether in Assiah
23 Stable Intelligence Netzatch in Yetzirah, ‘Hokma in Assiah
24 Imaginative Intelligence Hod in Yetzirah,
Geburah in Assiah
25 Intelligence  of Temptation or Trial Yesod in Yetzirah,
Daath in Assiah
26 Renewing Intelligence ‘Hesed in Assiah
27 Natural Intelligence Geburah in Assiah
28 Active Intelligence Malkuth in Yetzirah, Tiphareth in Assiah
29 Corporeal Intelligence Netzach in Assiah
30 Collective Intelligence Hod in Assiah
31 Perpetual Intelligence Yesod in Assiah
32 Assisting Intelligence Malkuth in Assiah
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The Society of the Hidden Life

This is a memoir of work in Tony Potter’s group, written by the painter John Pearce.


THE TEACHINGS OF TONY POTTER
by John Pearce

THE WORK –

I first met Tony in 1964 or 65. Group meetings were held at his flat in Claremont Road, Highgate. The Group was called ’The Society of the Hidden Life’, and dedicated to ‘The Work’. The weekly lessons were read from a text called ’The Society Course’, which introduced the ‘stop’ exercise and self-observation in terms of four principles: Reflex, Instinct, Thinking and Feeling, and the ‘Paths’ which linked them. A fifth principle, ’Harmony’ was mentioned as an integrating centre acting on a higher level.

tony-potter-by-john-pearce

Portrait of Tony Potter by John Pearce http://www.johnpearcepainter.com/

One was given a specific exercise to be practised ‘during the week’. Each of the principles and paths had positive and negative characteristics, and progress was made by stopping, identifying the principles at work in a given situation and discriminating between positive and negative action.

When working on the paths we kept notes of exercises and observations, which were duly handed to Tony. After each lesson the class repaired to the saloon bar of The Red Lion and Sun in Highgate Village, where the group mingled socially and theory was put into practice, with the benefit of Tony’s proximity and influence. At weekends The Group, en-mass, arrived at a local party, clutching large (2litre?) cans of Charington’s, and the undercover work of stops continued, presumably to the incalculable benefit of humankind.

After 12 lessons the text of the Society Course was put aside in favour of an ad-libbed sequence of lessons, in which Tony unfolded the Cabalistic background to The Work, and the ‘principles’ were seen to correspond to sephiroth on the Tree of Life. The notion of ‘going through the veil’ in the central sephira of Tiphareth, (corresponding to ‘Harmony’ in the society course) was introduced as being a critical point in one’s awakening. It was death and rebirth and loss of ego – or rather a reconstruction of the relation between ego and Self.

Similarities were drawn between other teachings, particularly those of Carl Gustav Jung and The Work. Gurdjieff, Ouspensky, ’Subud’, and even Scientology, were more likely to be mentioned in the Pub than in the context of class meetings, but some members of the group had experience of them or read about them. Potter rather discouraged reading, beyond certain recommendations – these included Dion Fortune’s ‘Mystical Qabalah’, and Jung – in favour of first-hand experience.

Western civilisation was portrayed as stuck in the principle of thinking, and needed to balance it with feeling. The path between these two principles (Hod and Netzach) was called the Path of Mars and symbolised by the Tarot card The Tower. No civilisation had managed to traverse this path, and few individuals did so, and it would take great honesty, courage and unselfishness, but Tony seemed optimistic that it could and would be achieved, given the insights of Jung and others.

Crossing the Path of Mars, balancing the left and right, female and male pillars of the tree was significant in all conflicts, and also in relations between man and woman, and was an essential step on the way to Tiphareth, or Harmony, beyond the veil.

The Work now continued in terms of the Tree. The paths and sephiroth were explored in waking dream exercises which had to be meticulously written down. Apart from its value as a record to be read by Tony, this was also a safety device in bringing the attention down to earth. ‘Earthing’ was always considered important.

As time went on the Hebrew alphabet, numerology, gematria & notaricon, colour schemes, musical sounds, astrology and the Tarot were introduced and related to the tree consistently with the Golden Dawn system, and some of us equipped ourselves with copies of Aleister Crowley’s 777 and read books by Israel Regardie et al.

TOWARDS TIPHARETH –

Stopping and looking meant awareness of thinking, the ability to suspend and even dispense with thinking, and to see reality in terms of a truer, non-rationalised order. Explanations, reasons, identifying and naming, were all the work of the ego. (I wonder, looking back, whether there was actually very much real understanding of ‘feeling’ although the negative aspects, such as self-pity, were recognised and rightly forbidden.)

The very first essential step on the road to Tiphareth, was the individual becoming as independent and economically self-sufficient as possible, and that meant leaving home and mother, and was part of being ‘earthed’. One’s material life was said to be an indication of progress in the work, and Potter respected competence. What happened to you was held to be a reflection of yourself: ‘Attitude attracts environment’. But, while it encouraged one to take responsibility, this attitude sometimes led to people being unfairly judged in the light of their illnesses and misfortunes. Potter himself once spectacularly fell down a flight of stairs at a party. When criticised for this, he replied that there had been a malignant energy present in the atmosphere which his fall had ’earthed’.

Tony once described magic as the ability to operate with and to control subjective states. An example might be the ability to deliberately not think about something, or to think of a cat without thinking of the word ‘cat’. To take the first step in one’s psyche away from mechanical inertia was virtually impossible on one’s own, for the simple reason that to desire movement was avarice, and thus the vice of the first path, the path of Saturn. One needed esoteric help which could only come by way of an adept acting from Binah – a ‘Master of the Temple’ in Golden Dawn language, able to operate objectively in terms of the neophyte’s subjective experience.

That is explained, technically, by the fact that the paths refer to subjective experience while the principles, or sephiroth are objective, and that the principles above the veil are reflected in the paths below, and vice-versa. This is borne out in the Golden Dawn astrological attributions, so that Binah and the 32nd (1st) path are both signified by Saturn. Thus with help from the silence and stillness of Binah, the first step on the path could be taken with the purest of motives, or none at all, and it possibly explains why the ‘stop’ is really the be-all-and-end-all of The Work.

‘Ascending the tree’ was implicitly growth in consciousness, but the critical, and dangerous, point in Tiphareth is the ‘flipping’ of object and subject, conscious and unconscious, and experience of a state where ‘you are everything, everything is you’.

The Work has been of great value and influenced me. Paradoxically I remember Tony as somewhat conservative and conventional as well as rare and extraordinary. His effect has been incalculable.

John Pearce December 2015

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Stop Exercise

This article was originally published as the Exercise of the Month in the first issue of the Pentacle Journal, published in June 1985, edited by Tony Potter. It describes his approach to the ‘Stop’ exercise.

If we take even a cursory look at present-day society, it is clear that there is a restlessness, a turbulence which is not entirely due to the fact that, as it ever was, “the other man’s grass is greener”. Nor is this restlessness the sign of productive activity which it is often mistakenly taken to be.

It can be noticed, for example, that a large proportion of society responds to changes in their environment purely reflexively. Simply look around on a bus or a train and notice the number of people who are fidgeting, scratching, making unnecessary movements and generally behaving in a way which can only lead one to suppose that they are not in any way aware of what they are doing.

This much is fairly easy to notice in others; it is, however, nothing like so simple to spot in ourselves. For this reason, the next time you are in an environment which includes a large number of people, take note of this reflex movement and, at the same time and more importantly, notice your own posture and movements. What are your feet doing? Are you unconsciously tapping a toe or biting your nails? Are you scratching when you do not itch? Is your mind focused on the immediate moment or are you attempting to relive a past event which cannot be changed?

If you notice yourself doing any of these things, just try to envisage how much energy, and hence how much of your life, is being wasted on activity which is totally unproductive, and then STOP. It is precisely this unproductive effort which is symptomatic of the reflex state we see around us. Another such symptom is that of movement in a circle. Everyone is familiar with the way in which the mind, when occupied with a specific, worrying problem, moves round and round, being drawn to the same conclusions (often even more worrying than the problem) without any constructive end point being reached. Most people are also familiar with the organic symptoms which run in parallel with this state. The same physical actions are repeated over and over again (e.g., nail-biting, toe-tapping) which can, and sometimes do, lead to a purely pathological condition such as a nervous breakdown, loss of hair, nervous rashes, etc.

As mentioned, the way in which to avoid this unnecessary and unproductive loss of energy is to STOP at every available opportunity. By this is not meant a frantic screeching to a halt, but a gentle, controlled flow to a standstill. This is obviously easier to achieve, at first, when the body is relaxed. The mind can then be allowed to empty. Unfortunately, it is in these circumstances that the least advantage is gained. The greatest effect is achieved when one STOPs in the midst of an otherwise turbulent situation. This STOP only needs to be momentary. If it is done correctly, the depth of the effect is quite unexpected and, the first time it is experienced, somewhat startling. Indeed, it has been written:-

If, in the midst of troubled time, we stand aside,
And wait until the seeming storm subside,
We stand, though unawares, upon a hallowed ground,
For we have found,
Eternity.

This may sound a little melodramatic, but it is in fact, an explicit description of a properly executed STOP. It has the effect of removing one completely from the limitations of time and space and enabling one to observe the environment as a completely objective phenomenon. At the same time, since the superficial (and largely superfluous) activity of the conscious mind has been brought to a standstill, some of the activity of the uppermost levels of the unconscious mind is allowed to come into consciousness. Since the “language” of the unconscious is almost entirely symbolic, rather than explicitly concrete, the result can be very similar to a “vision”.

The effect of this process is therefore twofold. Since the constraints of time are removed, not only do one’s observations become objective, but a sense of perspective is established which cannot exist in normal circumstances. Secondly, since successive layers of the unconscious are brought to light every time a STOP is carried out, the process constitutes a highly successful method for the development of self-awareness.

As mentioned, the process is not one of applying the brakes frantically, but is very much a matter of allowing oneself gently to come to a halt, bearing in mind the fact that an unruffled, open mind is the natural state for the human psyche and that the hectic chasing of one unproductive thought after another is a pathological state which we have allowed to become our normal condition.

 

 

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Jean Hendy Harris on Ernest Page

The author Jean Hendy Harris has written an interesting memoir of Ernest Page on her blog here.

Jean met Ernest when she was a young woman living in Soho in the 1960s.  She describes his skill as an astrologer and his sensitivity to the human condition. She says:

“A number of young women like myself, suffering varying degrees of unrequited love, lined up on Friday and Saturday evenings to ask our strikingly similar questions. Ernest was consistent in his predictions for me – the man I adored did not adore me; he advised me to leave him but knew that I would not do so. He then told me precisely when I would leave, down to the very month – February 1968.”

In her book In Disgrace With Fortune: A Chronicle of HarlotryJean talks about this period in her life (although not directly about Ernest). Jean took up the life of a show girl in 1960’s Soho, meeting people like Stephen Ward and the Kray Twins. She fell in love with a man called Vidar L’Estrange who was fascinated by the occult and deviant sex. When she became pregnant Vidar insisted that their child be aborted. Jean took drastic measures in order to preserve the baby. Vidar attempted to control her actions with threats of magic, demons and ongoing curses and finally attempted to abort the child himself. Jean was determined to outwit him, and after a harrowing period of struggle, she finally left Vidar and their son was born shortly thereafter.

Vidar L’Estrange

Vidar L’Estrange (or Gebhard-L’Estrange to give him his full name), was born in 1928. His father’s family played an important role in the history of the Theosophical Society [1] and his mother was a great-grand-daughter of the Prussian alchemist and Rosicrucian Carl Adolf von Carlowitz [2]. In later life he translated a book by Alexandra David-Néel, the Belgian-French explorer, spiritualist, Buddhist, anarchist and writer [3].

In correspondence, Jean says that she thinks that Vidar had known Ernest for some years before she met him in the early sixties.

Other Friends

Through Ernest, Jean and Vidar met Vivian Godfrey (whom Jean knew as Vivien Godfrey-White). Vivian worked with Ernest in the Aurum Solis magical order [4], and later under the name Melita Denning she co-wrote a series of books about the order. Jean recalls that she and Vidar got to know Ernest and Vivian very well and that during the winter of 1963, Ernest stayed with them from time to time. Vivian, Vidar and Ernest had a number of interests in common – Metaphysics, Magic, Philosophy, Theology – and got along like a house on fire.

Later Jean saw Vivian more often without Vidar, and she describes in her book how, in her time of trouble with Vidar, she consulted Vivian about obtaining help from the Catholic Church, since Vivian had once been a nun. Vivian introduced Jean to an exorcist at Westminster Cathedral.

In the mid 1960s Vivian introduced Jean to Olivia Robertson, the author, artist, co-founder and high priestess of the Fellowship of Isis [5]. Jean liked Olivia very much, and saw a great deal of her when she was living in London during the winter each year. Jean has left a fond memorial on her blog here.


Notes:

[1] See http://www.theosophy.wiki/en/Gebhard_Family

[2] See the acknowledgement to Vidar L’Estrange on page 77 of Christopher McIntosh’s book “The Rosy Cross Unveiled” http://www.themasonictrowel.com/ebooks/freemasonry/eb0197.pdf 
“I am indebted to von Carlowitz’s great-great grandson, Mr Vidar l’Estrange, for allowing me to inspect certain of his ancestor’s papers, among which is a key to the cipher he used in his diaries.”

[3] For more on Alexandra David-Néel see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexandra_David-N%C3%A9el
The book Vidar translated was Tibetan Tale Of Love And Magic

[4] See the Ernest Page page 

[5] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olivia_Robertson

 

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About the Silence

This is an extract from a 1970 correspondence course on Witchcraft written by Colin Couchman. Colin had been involved with Gardnerian witchcraft since the early 1960s, and by 1970 he was working with Ruth Wynn Owen in her hereditary witchcraft system. He was also involved in a number of other traditions such as Gurdjieff/Ouspensky and Kabbalah. 

In a place of silence at the heart of every creature the Maker dwelleth, beyond sense, beyond thought, beyond desire.  This is the root of meditation. At the end of the Charge The Goddess, speaking through her representative, the High Priestess, points out the road within as the only way the quest can take. In the words of that Hindu writing called the Katha Upanishad:   “God made sense turn outward man therefore looks outward, not into himself. Now and again a daring soul, desiring immortality, has looked back and found himself.”

The above gives us a general direction to take but doesn’t offer much in the way of a map of the road within or of a practical method for travelling it. The first hint of such a method comes to us from the Indian Sage Patanjali who, in his yoga Sutra, likens the mind to a pool of water in the depths of which the Divine waits. The trouble, according to Patanjali, is that the surface ripples of sensations, thoughts and desires obscure our perception of the creator within. A corollary of this, which Patanjali does not mention directly, is of particular importance to the Craft. The Maker of Universes shows him or her self forth through each of his or her creatures but does so through a kind of continually shifting distorting lens which is the rippling of mind. Thus the divine quality of the love of life may show itself as the drive for security and the human rat race, the divine quality of the love of ones fellow man (or woman) may show itself as possessiveness and the divine quality of the love of God may lead to ‘holy’ war or the horrors of the Inquisition.   To offer oneself as a clear channel for divine power is the central act of much Craft Magical work. This act and the experience of the divine with which Patanjali was concerned are two sides of the same coin and both require the stilling of the mind. In addition to these somewhat exalted aims, techniques for the stilling of mind represent a purely mental method of purification, in other words of dropping the cares of the day prior to the performance of Ritual or meditation.

In the heyday of Alchemy certain persons made a precarious living by selling the putative secret of turning lead into gold: precarious because anybody sufficiently wealthy to be a suitable victim for this kind of con game was well able to exact vengeance on all but the most nimble of pseudo-alchemists. The tale is told of one of these con-men who devised the perfect out. This consisted of informing his victim that the operation would fail if at any time during it the operator thought of a hippopotamus. The removal of hippopotamus from the mind is a mighty labour as any may quickly confirm: mighty indeed is the quest for stillness.

The law governing the direction of power in Craft Magical work is as follows:-

WHERE THE ATTENTION GOES THERE THE POWER GOES ALSO

If we turn this law upside down it will help us in our quest for silence therefore:-

THAT FROM WHICH THE ATTENTION IS WITHDRAWN LOSES ITS POWER

This gives us the basic method which is to note everything that impinges upon awareness and deliberately switch our attention away from it.   The switch should be without effort as is normal when the attention moves from one thing to another.

Given the method, experience gives us the map. Start off in a comfortable position without major distractions. As you become aware of noises, smells and the like, flick the attention away from them.   After doing this for a while external sensations will become less obtrusive but bodily sensation rears its ugly head.   You will become aware of your heartbeat (You never heard it so loud), tummy rumbling and tickles from a remarkable number of places.  All these things should be dealt with in the same way as the outer sensations and after a while you will be filled with the rushing of many thoughts with which you do likewise.  After these have passed, desires arise and eventually, if your persistence endures that long, that silence which is the dwelling place of divinity.

Thus the map appears – as a ladder strung between the Maker of All and the outer world of the senses.

———–         THE MAKER
|
———–         THE SILENCE
|
———–         DESIRES
|
———–         THOUGHTS
|
———–         BODILY SENSATIONS (TICKLES ETC.)
|
———–         THE WORLD OF THE SENSES

What has just been described is the simplest form of meditation and is called ‘meditation without a seed’. Give it a fair trial and let us know how it goes.

————-

A variation of the above method called ‘meditation with seed’ is also used – some people find this method a great deal easier because it depends on switching the attention on to a particular object (the seed) rather than just switching it away from something. To do this you just hold the seed in your mind and whenever you become aware of something else you switch the attention away from it and back onto the seed.   This process passes up the ladder just as does the first method until just the seed remains. The seed is then allowed to fade away gradually into the silence. The seed is normally cither a sound repeated over and over again in the mind or a symbol held in the minds eye. In the east the sound is known as a mantra and the symbol as a mandala or yantra. As it is the seal of our group and therefore represents an aspect of the Crafts view of the Universe we would suggest that you use the following composite symbol by picturing it in white in your minds eye:

silence symbol 2

You will possibly recognise the elements of this symbol, it is made up of an old Egyptian symbol of life enclosed within a pentacle, this latter being to the Craft what the Cross is to the Church. We would like to hear how you get on with this version too.

© Colin Couchman

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