Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Confiteor


I became involved in an altercation on a train last week concerning the wearing of masks. I was 'anti', my fellow-passenger 'pro' and, let's just say, heated words were exchanged. I would like to think that I had truth on my side but I did not, to be frank, conduct myself in a manner worthy of a representative of the truth. I was far from cogent or congruent in the approach I took and the words I used. Much pent up frustration at the willingness of so many to embrace authoritarian solutions - and then insist on them for others - came spilling out. I lost more than I gained in short.

What this farrago underlined for me, however, is the truly apocalyptic nature of the Coronavirus era. I use the 'a' word here in its original Greek sense of Apokalypsis - an unveiling or a showing forth of what has always been there but has previously remained hidden. The virus and our reactions to it are telling us so much about ourselves, both individually and collectively. From this perspective we can perhaps see the present moment as a time of mercy and illumination, with the onus on ourselves to make the most of what is being shown us before the door of spiritual opportunity slams shut again.

What I saw in garish neon lights last Thursday was that I am technically 49 years old yet in no way have I outgrown the raw, spiky and vulnerable teenager I was in the mid-1980s. I still am that boy. He remains my deepest, most essential reality. Everything I've done since - in thought, word or deed - is a sham, a veneer, a pretence. I am not who I think I am. That explains why I had the odd sense during the argument that I was wearing my old petrel-blue High School jumper, even though that would have been impossible and of course I wasn't.

Later that evening, while reflecting on the matter, I saw very clearly why it is that two novels in particular - Alan Garner's Elidor (1965) and William Golding's Free Fall (1959) have become such foundational texts for me. I carry these books around in my heart. I relate to them in a very intense, very personal way, and that is because the protagonists in both - Roland Watson in Elidor (above, front) and Sammy Mountjoy in Free Fall - are archetypal teenage figures, railing and raging against a world of straight lines and hard edges that refuses to see them, refuses to recognise them, rejects the qualities they possess, and repudiates their dreams and visions. Roland (who might actually be a bit younger than thirteen) invests everything he has, spiritually and emotionally, in the parallel world of Elidor. He wants to save it, needs to save it, pours his heart and soul into it, and believes in it with such ferocity that his siblings, who are less enraptured by the adventure and its repercussions, find him almost impossible to handle.

"Elidor! Elidor! Elidor! Have you forgotten?"
"OK," said David. "We don't want the whole road to hear."
"But you're pretending it doesn't matter ... Didn't it mean anything to you - Malebron and the Treasures, and that golden castle, and, and - everything."

Roland's visceral, deeply-embedded loyalty to Elidor and its fugitive king, Malebron, pushes him to the brink of madness and possibly beyond. The book does not tell us what happens to him afterwards. Sammy Mountjoy, in Free Fall, is driven past the point of mental endurance and emerges on the other side with a transformed, transfigured understanding of the world and his place in it. But it is a hard won vision. Sammy, a successful artist who hangs in The Tate, is emotionally wounded to a profound degree and is compelled to write his book by the need to find that moment when, as he puts it, 'I lost my freedom' - the ability to think and act from the centre of his being and not be pulled around by unconscious forces and other people's agendas. As a teenage boy he transposes this drive for pattern and coherence onto his contemporary, Beatrice Ifor, with long-term results that are the opposite of Dante's life-enhancing, fructifying relationship with his own Beatrice. He learns the hard way that you cannot project the most essential part of yourself onto someone else. Roland's experience vis-a-vis Malebron is similar. What they see as signposts to Heaven are in fact just pointers to different parts of Plato's cave. They are still stuck in the world which oppresses them. They have failed to transcend it, and the original wounds which propel them like Furies remain unacknowledged and unhealed.

Later in life, during the Second World War, Sammy is flung into solitary confinement in a German prisoner of war camp. There, in the darkness, he senses the presence of something soft and slimy in the centre of the room - a horrible monster, he supposes, which will sniff him out, crawl all over him and perform all kinds of unspeakable acts on him. The terror of this prospect 'fast-tracks' him to a place beyond thought and reason - the edge of insanity which Roland approaches at the end of Elidor. But instead of a breakdown and subsequent disintegration, Sammy achieves a breakthrough and a radical restructuring of the mental and spiritual categories which had hitherto framed his life in a series of one-dimensional, self-sabotaging ways.

'Therefore,' he reflects, 'when the commandant let me out of the darkness he came late and as a second string, giving me the liberty of the camp when perhaps I no longer needed it. I walked between the huts, a man resurrected but not by him. I saw the huts as one who had little to do with them and the temporal succession of days that they implied. So they shone with the innocent light of their own created nature ... Beyond them the mountains were not only clear all through like purple glass, but living. They sang and were conjubilant. They were not all that sang. Everything is related to everything else and all relationship is either discord or harmony. The power of gravity, dimension and space, the movement of the earth and sun and unseen stars, these made what might be called music and I heard it ... Standing between the understood huts, among jewels and music, I was visited by a flake of fire, miraculous and pentecostal; and fire transmuted me, once and forever.'


Sammy's 'monster' is wet and slimy. Mine is hard and splintery. Yours may be different again. When the commandant releases him, light pours into the cell, and Sammy sees that what he has been so terrified of is only a sponge left behind by a forgetful orderly. He is able now to see the evil that torments him in its true form - small-scale and insignificant - like the hunched and shrunken figure of Satan in Dante's Inferno. But he is only able to perceive its essence because the 'dark night' of solitary confinement has stripped away illusions and wishful thinking and forced him into a direct confrontation with the deepest, darkest aspects of himself - everything about him he has been running away from; everything within him he has been pretending (and hoping) does not exist.

Even then, Sammy's epiphany is only a voyage to a beginning. It is a start - a base camp - nothing more. It is only after this that that he can begin to see where his freedom was lost, make reparations for his many wrongs, and commit his insights to posterity. What matters is that he is facing the right way at last - towards the Sun; not away from it as before.

What then if this is the deepest, most essential element to keep in mind in our reaction to Coronavirus and its aftermath? What if the various political and social evils we see gathering momentum in its wake are in fact distractions and red herrings aimed at diverting us from 'the one thing needful' which the virus has perhaps been sent to offer us - an illumination of conscience, an awareness in our lives of unacknowledged wounds and deep-seated patterns of sin which keep us far from God and stop us shining like the beacons of light and goodness we need to be at this hour? Only then, in truth, can the decks be cleared, the dross purged, the gold revealed, and that Metanoia which Christ calls us to in the Gospels - that total, 360 degree reorientation of our spiritual compass - begin its vital work of salvation and renewal.

Maybe this is what is meant to happen at this time. After all, there are enough demons active in the world right now, and we cannot hope to overcome them without seeing and bringing to God those festering inner sores - so securely established, so craftily hidden - which poison our wellsprings, stymie our growth, and steer our actions, however well-intentioned, down paths dictated by the Evil One. In the words of the Anglican priest and mystic, Father Gilbert Shaw (1886-1967):

'Foremost must come penitence - for ourselves, for we are part of the failure of the Church. If we are to pray for unity, not only of the Church, but all mankind, it will be through acknowledgement of failure, praying in penitence, that God will fulfill his purpose through our self-emptying ... It will be out of penitence for the past and in the acceptance of the day of judgment that the patient endurance of the saints will give life and new meaning to the new age which is in the throes of its birthpangs.'

Friday, July 24, 2020

Beyond the Ruins (Announcement)

I had originally conceived this story as having no more than three episodes. It has grown and expanded considerably in my mind and I now find it no longer suits the format of posting a chapter fortnightly on this blog. So I'm going to go away and give it the time and attention it needs away from the self-imposed pressure of needing to 'get something out there' every two weeks. I will continue to post here on other matters.

Thanks and all the best,

John.

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Beyond the Ruins (VI)


Dindrane paused and inclined her head to the right, towards the dome of St. Andrew's. The wind had dropped, the night was still, and it felt like the stars themselves, hoping to hear her better, had drawn in closer to the tower. And I saw her then as I'd seen her when I first picked up the coin two days before - the noble set of her jaw, the lips parted as if on the brink of speech or song, and the deep wellspring of emotion visible in the one eye I could see. I felt in my pocket. The coin was still there. Then she turned to us again and carried on with her story.

'We sat down together on the fallen sandstone, Merlin facing me and Brisen beside me. I noticed a chipped marble laurel wreath lying on the ground at my feet. I picked it up and turned it around in my hands as the High King's enchanter spoke.

'"Princess Dindrane," he began. "You will have heard how Joseph of Arimathea brought the Holy Grail to Britain after the death and resurrection of Our Lord. You will also have been told how he settled in the Island of Apples and built a chapel there, which over time became a church and then an abbey, watched over by the Grail King, a descendent of Joseph, and by his spiritual counterpart, the Grail Priest, Nasciens, who, for a crime committed long ago against the Arimathean, was given the penance of living hundreds of years beyond his natural span, until he who is destined to take the titles of both Grail Priest and King comes into his maturity."

'Merlin probed me with his eyes - testing me out, I thought. They were as black as his hair - as black as coal. I coolly returned his gaze. "Yes," I said. "I know that story." Most people did, in truth.

'"Eighty years ago," he continued, "when the Romans left these shores, my master Blaise made the Grail realm disappear, so that it exists now more in the Otherworld than here. He wanted to hide it from the Saxons, so that is why one cannot find it now as one would find Venta, Eboracum or Deva, by walking, riding, or studying maps. Blaise did not, however, separate it wholly from this world and nor did he wish to, for that would be to deprive our land of a matchless grace and beauty. And so it is that now and again a man or a woman might stumble upon this in-between place, as Balin of Tyneside, one of Arthur's lieutenants did three years ago. But Balin failed to perceive the mystery, and in his confusion wounded the Grail King, Pelles, with a spear he had no right to bear, let alone throw. Instantly the Grail lands became waste and desolate, the abbey collapsed into ruin, and only the tower which houses the chapel itself remained intact. Pelles lies on his litter now, racked with pain, in a room adjoining that chapel, awaiting the advent of he whom I told you of, he who will hold both crook and flail and will let loose the waters and cause the trees and flowers to blossom again in that parched and barren land."

'As I say, I had heard this tale, or variants of it, in the streets and squares of Venta and elsewhere. I was intrigued by it, as were we all to an extent, but the thought of visiting Carbonek (as the Grail realm was commonly called) or being in any way involved with it had never crossed my mind. Until my friendship with the Lord Taliessin I had never envisaged any other future than taking vows at Almesbury. But what Merlin told me set my thoughts in a different direction, towards an incredible, almost inconceivable possibility. And what if ...? Then Brisen - as soft and golden as her brother was dark and angular - placed her hand on my knee and said soothingly, as if reading my mind, "How and when this prince is to be born and who his parents will be is not your concern, Princess Dindrane. Merlin and I will take the matter in hand. But he will not be able to be brought up by his mother and father. The boy will need someone else to raise him, and we can think of no-one better, no-one purer, no-one more devoted to the holy and the beautiful than you. All we ask for now is that you take some time to reflect on what his coming might mean, both for Britain and for yourself. I will be honest. A sword shall pierce your heart - yes, more than one sword too - yet you will find in this vocation the deep and lasting joy your heart has always cried out for."

'I was shocked beyond measure at these words. There was shame as well, for I had hoped that they would ask me to be the child's mother, as the angel Gabriel had asked Our Lady to bear Christ in her womb. I told them to stay where they were while I went for a walk to clear my mind and beg God's forgiveness and help. I handed the marble laurel wreath to Brisen - I have no idea why - and stepped outside into the fresh sea air, with the white cloud above me and the shouts of workmen and soldiers ringing around. I stood at the foot of the old Roman Pharos and gazed up at the mighty stone tower, with its beacon brazier, recently relit by Arthur himself, blazing away on top as it had blazed for so long in the days of the Empire. Then I returned to the storeroom and asked, "If I accept can I still be a sister at Almesbury?" And when Brisen said, "Yes," my heart leapt in my breast, for I had seen in those flames what my true calling was and how everything else, even this weighty responsibility, would revolve around that.

'I told the Lord Taliessin in the lamp-lit Praetorium later, and there was sorrow and joy in the time we had together that evening. And so it was that some four and a half years later, on an ice-cold Wednesday night, I was sat at the door at Almesbury, listening for visitors, while the sisters sung Compline in the chapel. I heard a snuffling outside, so I undid the latch and beheld a white wolf with coal-black eyes and a new-born babe in swaddling clothes on his back, tied with scarlet bands.

'The wolf looked up and I smiled and went to the cupboard to fetch the knife. "Merlin and I will take the matter in hand," Brisen had promised. Indeed so. I cut the scarlet bands and held the babe up to the light. His eyes were green and translucent and his hair the colour of vivid flame, the same shade and tint, I recalled, as the burning brazier at Rutupiae. I glanced down but the wolf was already gone, a vanishing speck against the empire of ice. The sisters came rushing up and the babe began to cry, and we blessed and welcomed him and gave thanks to God for the unprecedented gift He had bestowed upon our house.


Saturday, June 27, 2020

Beyond the Ruins (V)



'I was with the Logos in the light and silence of the Blessed Trinity before time and space began. With your assistance, I made his vision reality at the foundation of the world and was with Him again when He took on flesh and blood and lived among us. Like Marcus, I am known by more than one name and have been active in many times and places - from the Persian mountains to the walls of Troy - and on all these occasions I have had very little notion, almost until my dying day, of who I truly am in the mind of God. So it is for all of us on this turret when we are asked to engage with this world. The memory of our heavenly home never leaves us but it comes in hints and flashes only. And we would do well to pay attention to these. Anamnesis, the poets call it. Remembrance. Recollection. Until the day dawns when the truth breaks in on us and we see and feel things in the round again.' 

I felt sure, in my youthful naïveté, that the truth she spoke of was already breaking in on me and would never depart. I had no conception of how far I still had to fall and how deeply I would forget - and worse than that - to deny to myself, though mercifully not to others, that these events had taken place. But I knew no better at the time. What I did know was that her words were true. They had the mark of authenticity. It wasn't just the evidence of my senses - the hunger in my belly (because, of course, I was now very late home for my tea), the cool evening air, the breeze whipping her hair across her face. It was more than this. It was that sense of homecoming again, that consciousness which had been growing ever since Marcus beckoned me over, of being in the right place with the right people - my place, my people. 

'I was last on Earth in Arthur's time,' she continued. 'My name is Dindrane. I have been nearly fifteen hundred years in the sacred city of Sarras, which is invisible to human eyes and will remain so until the day of the Great Unveiling. Upon my return, two nights ago, I found the Empire more shattered and broken than ever I could have imagined. Not so much in its physical form, which is ephemeral and far from essential, but in spirit and imagination. So much has been lost; so much forgotten. And we have brought it on ourselves. Neither Saxon nor Turk could have wrought such inner havoc. To forget is the gravest sin of all, both for an individual and a civilisation. And that is why I have been sent - to kindle the fire of anamnesis and to guide and inspire you as we rebuild the Empire, first as a counterpoint to the darkness and then as its conqueror. 

'I was born in Dumnonia, in the far South-West. My father, Gerren the Fleet Owner, was King there, and my brother, Percivale, as is well known, later supped from the Grail with Galahad and Bors. There was no High King in Britain at that time. Vortigern, who had last claimed that title, was dead and gone, duped by the Saxons he had hired to keep the Picts at bay. The country was a chaos, a smoking ruin, a formless, pirate-riven mess. Our father mourned the Romans' departure and hoped that Brittania would one day return to the Imperial fold. But there was very little of the Empire left after Vortigern's death, so he swore allegiance instead to the young Romano-British prince Ambrosius Aurelianus who was quietly gathering his forces in the mountain fastnesses of northern Cymru. And when the call to arms came, my father's ships harried the enemy so effectively in the Channel that the campaign was already half won before the cavalry routed the Saxons at the Durobrivae Bridge. Then Ambrosius became High King and ruled southern Britain from Venta Belgarum for fifteen years, while Arthur, the Dux Brittaniorum, pushed the barbarians back in the North and East as far as the Antonine Wall. 

'I was just three when our father sent us to live with Ambrosius at Venta. Gerren had an eye on our education, for the High King had a passion for learning and had invited scholars from Hibernia and Gaul to teach Latin, Greek and Divinity to the children of rich and poor alike. Ambrosius was a slight, dark man with clear grey eyes that glimmered with a soft and secret golden light. He was unmarried and childless and treated us as his own offspring. We loved him greatly and sorrowed deeply when he died, gouged on the antlers of a royal stag while hunting in the woods one frosty Friday morning.

'So Arthur was crowned High King in his place, and with his magus Merlin beside him extraordinary things started to happen. Camelot was built and Caerleon remade. Churches sprang up across the land and the flames of countless votive shrines were lit along the Roman roads and our ancient British trackways. Arthur consecrated his realm to the Mother of God in a solemn Mass at Canterbury, and there was joy and expectation everywhere, a sense that we were standing on the brink of something wonderful and unprecedented. 

'Arthur was like the Sun. Like Christ. With his brown hair and beard he reminded me of the icons of the Saviour at the convent at Almesbury. Ever since coming East, I had wanted to join the sisters there and spend my life in silent adoration. And now I was seventeen, with just a year left before I was deemed old enough. But I became very close at that time to the Lord Taliessin, the King's Poet and Captain of Horse. I see him now. I see him always - thin and intense, with wide blue eyes and a shock of wild blonde hair. I came alive in his presence in ways I had thought impossible, and my heart and mind were torn. I would accompany him sometimes on various official trips, and on one of these, to the Roman fortress of Rutupiae on the Isle of Thanatus, my fate was decided in a singular and unexpected fashion. 

'It was an August afternoon, the sun concealed behind banks of high white cloud. Taliessin had gone with Bors to inspect the new sea defences and I was left alone to wander the jetties, with the cries of gulls and the hammers and saws of the stone-mason's yards and the boat sheds ringing in my ears. Then, in a quiet place I had found to pray in - an ancient store room lined with sandstone blocks of fallen vaulting - I beheld, as if waiting for me there, Merlin and his sister Brisen, both tall and slender, he with hair as black as a raven's pinions, her as bright and golden as Venus herself. I could tell by the intensity of their gaze that they had come to tell me something serious, but I had no idea that after fifteen hundred years in Sarras and with the weight of eternity behind me that it would be only now - this very night on this very tower - that I would start to sense the full import of the request they made. I am only glad that I said yes. It has been a cross as well as a joy, but I know how easy it is to miss a vocation and I am grateful to have had my destiny shown me so clearly. Not once but twice, as it turned out.

'My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my saviour.'

Saturday, June 13, 2020

Beyond the Ruins (IV)



We met her in the middle of the hall, half way between the dais and the door. As we approached, I observed a slender golden chain attached to the cross she was holding. She handed this to Marcus, then lowered her head as he placed both chain and cross around her neck. Then she passed him the bowl and he raised it to his lips and drank from it. When he looked up it was as if a shining jewel had been fastened to his brow. His already noble face was lit with a new and princely light. Marcus gave the bowl to me and I drank too, then passed it to the companion on my left, whose name was Adam, a portly gent with white hair and tweeds, whom I yet remembered as a mighty force of nature at the beginning of the world, a titan of ice and fire who fashioned the poles with his bare hands and fixed the extremities of heat and cold from North to South and East to West.

The drink was cool and invigorating, and laced, I felt, with a secret, subtle power. My mind felt clear and my body sharp and alert. The woman in red and gold was standing in front of me, the bowl back in her hand. She had such a compelling presence that it was hard to look elsewhere, but my eyes, nonetheless, were drawn more to the picture of the purple staircase behind her on the wall. I felt like Edmund and Lucy at the start of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader when the painting of the ship comes alive and they see the sails billowing and feel the wind and spray on their cheeks. I had no idea why or how but it seemed that the purple stairs were standing out somehow from their golden backdrop and inviting us to take the first step up.

So when the woman said, 'Come, let us ascend to the top of the tower,' it came as no surprise. She led us to a corner of the hall, to an alcove beside the dais and a plain wooden door which she opened with her foot, not even breaking stride. A stone staircase swept upwards before us, curving around from right to left. We followed in her wake and started to climb.

The stairs were surprisingly broad, and we were able to walk two or three abreast. It was, however, rather dim. What light there was seemed like a blend of the torches in the hall below and the moon and stars above. There were little slits of windows every twenty paces or so and I paused at the third one and looked out at the poplar trees waving in the breeze. Beyond them, on the other side of the disused railway, I could see the brick façade of the laundry and the corrugated gleam of the old air raid shelters.

I became convinced, as I resumed my climb, that I had called the tower into being, albeit unwittingly, through my contemplation of the purple stairs. I was sure I hadn't seen a tower when I'd stood up on my pedals before to look at the transformed ruins, though admittedly the light had been weak and there were lots of trees about. And what, I asked myself, if my eyes had focused on another image - the eagle, for instance, or the book? Would that have become the focal point for the adventure instead? I recalled Malebron's remark to Roland in Alan Garner's Elidor on the power of the imagination: 'What appears only fleetingly in your world is here as real as swords.'

The staircase, I noticed, was starting to feel brighter, as if it had its own source of light after all. Then, as we turned a corner onto small, square landing - more like a platform really - we saw where it was coming from and we stood stock still before it, spellbound and amazed. It was a door, thick and sturdy and carved from the same grey stone as the slabs surrounding it. A round, iron handle tempted me momentarily, but deep down I felt neither the need nor desire to go inside. The same could be said for all of us, I think. It was enough to stand outside and let the silver light that streamed out from the gaps between the door and walls work its magic on our hearts and minds.

I say 'silver' because that's the closest approximation I can find, but in reality it was like no other colour I've seen before or since. No words can do it justice. It was like the sun and moon and stars all rolled into one. That silver fire brought me so much peace and joy - as if the Holy Spirit was holding and caressing me - that I have searched for it ever since, in all the wrong places usually, and will remain forever restless until I meet it face to face again.

There was a smell as well, a mingled scent of daffodils and incense. I heard bells and voices too - a high angelic chant - the same song we had sung around the blessed throne before the dawn of time. Then Marcus spoke, cutting through the rapture and bringing me back to the ground beneath my feet and the round solidity of the tower. 'Friends,' he said, 'the time will come again, when this work is done, to enter in and sing once more the liturgy God gave us long ago, the Solemn Mass that brings the Dark Age to a close and baptises the returning Golden Age. But that is for the future. Tonight we have our mission to receive. Let us climb higher and hear the story Dindrane has returned to tell us.'

I don't know how long after that it took us to reach the top. I had lost all track of time to be honest. But when we got there the woman Marcus had called Dindrane was waiting for us, as tall and straight as a spear-shaft against the scudding clouds and sparkling stars of Orion's Belt. To her right, above the trees and beyond the railway and my house and street, loomed the Byzantine-style dome of St. Andrew's RC church. To her left, past the bowling green and the hedge and across Wilmslow Road, the spire of the Anglican Shrine of King Charles the Martyr pointed up to the quarter-full moon. And it seemed auspicious to me that we should be standing on this mysterious turret - this thin place, this place both in and out of time - exactly midway between these two great symbols of local Christianity.

The bronze bowl each of us had drank from in the hall stood perched between two battlements on Dindrane's right. She picked it up and drank from it, and the cross on her chest appeared to glow with a fiercer, more insistent light. She put the bowl back and I saw in her eyes, like summer lightning , the same silver, Pentecostal fire that had given us its blessing on the parapet below. Then she started to speak ...



Saturday, May 30, 2020

Beyond the Ruins (III)



They shook my hand, kissed me and bade me welcome. The man with the purple sash had gone ahead and stood facing us now from a dais at the far end of the room. I saw him there first as the others had their backs to him. When they saw me looking they turned and saw him too and we all walked forward towards the dais.

The golden hangings above us to left and right impressed me greatly. There were six in all, three on each wall, with purple line drawings depicting in turn an eagle, a chalice, a tower, a lightning flash, a book, and a flight of stairs. On the dais, in front of our leader, was a round table with a red and gold covering. 'Come friends,' he said, and we climbed onto the dais and formed a circle around him. I was the eleventh and last and so I found myself standing in the middle, face to face with him from the other side of the table.

'Fratres,' he began. 'You may call me Marcus, though I am known by countless names and have many roles across both time and space. I have been asked by Heaven to rekindle in Britain the civilisational and spiritual light of Rome in all her manifestations, from the princely city of Troy to the Pax Romana of Augustus to the Holy Roman Church and the Christian Empire founded by Constantine, right up to the Houses of Romanov in the East and Habsburg in the West, the last representatives, thus far, of the Imperial principle.'

His expression was earnest, his eyes wide and deep like pools of sea-green light. 'The Pope,' he went on, 'is with us still, serving as bridge and mediatior between Heaven and Earth. He holds the keys to the City of God and guides souls to its gates. But his counterpart, the Emperor, who watches over the City of Man and fashions it into a mirror of the Divine order, has been absent now for sixty-four years, and this is a gap the world feels keenly. It is a wound which speaks.'

I glanced down and saw a golden cross imprinted on the table's vivid red. Beneath it were the words, IN HOC SIGNO VINCES. 'Saint Paul,' Marcus continued, 'in his second letter to the Thessalonians, speaks of the Katehon - the restrainer - he who holds back evil and keeps the Antichrist at bay. This, traditionally, has been the role of the Emperor, so what happens when the restrainer is removed, as he has been since the demise of the Russian and Austro-Hungarian Empires? Decline and degeneration, as we see, and the setting of the stage for that ape of Christ, he whom the Apostle calls "the man of lawlessness." The Roman Emperor, my friends, is this Katehon, and it is the will of God that his throne be re-established and that he join hands once more with the Roman Pontiff and cast his protective, restorative aegis over all the realms of the Empire and beyond.'

I'm not sure if it was the potency of his words, the red ceremonial glare of the torches or the deep archetypal pull of the purple pictures, but somehow I felt myself lifted up, to the third heaven, as it were, a still point from where I saw and felt the rise and fall of civilisations - the power, glory and pity of it all - and the multiform incarnations of the Roman spirit throughout the ages. From such a height the vacuity and emptiness of our own time struck me, even as a child, with tangible force - the arrogance and blindness of an epoch which had voluntarily lopped off its own head. But Marcus was speaking again now, and he was talking about Britain.

'In the year Three Hundred and Six, when Constantine was acclaimed Emperor in York, this country was a mere outpost - the wind-swept, North Western fringe of the Empire. Our Lord Himself lived, died and rose in the Imperium's opposite corner - the South East. Transformation and renewal, this shows us, come not from the centre but the periphery. And so it is that the wheel is come full circle and the chain of Emperors begins anew in this land. It is our God-given task, my brethren, to forge the first link and set the chain in motion, as we did before the dawn of time when we stepped forth from the Heavenly Halls to bring shape and definition to the Holy One's new world.'

As he spoke, the mise en scène inside me shifted again and I was in a wild and formless void, lashed by wind and rain, with my companions beside me. And we were changed utterly, ordinary people no more, neither young nor old but beings of power and light, moulding and shaping the elements, raising the mountains, setting down valleys and fixing the boundaries of land, sea and air.

Then we entered a more primal region still - a timeless, mysterious place - quite indescribable. We stood around a throne in a semi-circle, chanting an ancient liturgy, and the figure on the throne shone with such intensity that we - high angels though we were, and Marcus the highest of all - could hardly bare to look. But there were thirteen of us gathered there, not twelve, and Marcus was standing next to me on my right. In the middle, facing the throne, was a woman in red and gold with long dark hair, holding up a small golden cross. And she alone could look directly at the light.

Back in Didsbury, I heard Marcus say, 'One comes after me now who ranks above me because she was before me. From age to age she carries out the works of God on Earth. Day and night she gazes upon the face of the Most High and her countenance is stamped with the splendour of His light. She it is who will guide us into truth. Look now where she comes.'

Together again on the dais, we turned as one to look, and there she was, standing in the doorway, the swings and slides of the playground visible behind her still in the dying light. But she was like the sun, clad in red and gold, bearing a golden cross in her right hand and a bowl of burnished bronze in her left. Though looking nothing like a nun, I knew her straightaway as the woman on the coin. She held the cross aloft, and her voice was akin to a rushing, cleansing wind, sweeping through the hall and making everything new.

'In hoc signo vinces,' she said. 'By this sign we will conquer, create, and once more renew the face of the Earth.'

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Another World is Possible - Guest Post by Wayne John Sturgeon

I think we're about halfway through the Beyond the Ruins story at the moment. Parts 3 and 4 to come within the next few weeks. So here, to break things up, is a guest post from Wayne John Sturgeon, author of the book Albion Awake...



... which I reviewed on the Albion Awakening blog in 2018 here, and organiser of the Visions of Albion conference at Crawley Down, Sussex, in October 2019, at which William Wildblood and myself spoke. 

In the reflection below (which originally appeared in April in the print-only fanzine The Information) Wayne imagines how things might have worked out if a couple of well-meaning types had succeeded in 2030 in going back in time to assassinate Karl Marx. I particularly like his depiction of Britain and Ireland as The Isles of the Northern Sea (IONA) and his evocation at the end of the piece of the transfigured reality which awaits us at the end of the age; what Orthodox theologians (and Wayne is one, I think) call the Eighth Day. It's all good stuff. So enjoy!


*

Imagine a parallel universe with a different timeline: Russian anarcho-Futurists and Cosmocists from the year 2030 discover time travel in a secret underground base in Switzerland and, in a bid to halt the advent of the New World Order and the arrival of the Biblical antichrist, travel back to late nineteenth-century England. Their aim? To assassinate Karl Marx in the British Library in London.

They figure that this one act will trigger a completely different historical timeline, which will subvert the contemporary historical paradigm that humanity is currently trapped in. This is that of late modernity – a fusion of neo-liberalism with cultural Marxism and religious relativism. They are warned by the sudden appearance of two mysterious religious figures, as if out of thin air, not to do this but to no avail.

With the death of Karl Marx, the anarchist Bakuninn takes over the First International. Instead of the international workers’ movement, embracing an ideology of state socialism, it propagates a mass movement of Proudhonist mutualism and free-market anti-capitalism. The Bolshevik revolution never happens, and in Russia the pacifist and vegetarian Christian anarchist Leo Tolstoy convinces the Russian Orthodox Tsar of the necessity of implementing a Georgist land value taxation scheme to eradicate poverty. This will also empower the Tsar’s loyal and devout peasant population of eastern Christian old believers. There is no Maoist cultural revolution in China. There is no national socialist movement in Germany, and no arms race.

The land reforms of the Russian Tsar are inspired by an American political and economic visionary, Henry George. Being seen as a success, they are also adopted on the other side of the Atlantic, in George’s native USA, and by the British Parliament where they are combined by a theory called ‘social credit’, or a citizens’ basic income. This idea is inspired by the revolutionary but non-violent mass youth movement, the Kibbo Kift Kin, which is led by a Quaker called John Hargrave. The Westminster unionist parliament is dissolved, and devolved into a Britannic Confederation with parliament being transferred to the Isle of Man, at a location where all four brother nations of the UK can be seen with the naked eye. Britain is now renamed ‘Iona’, or the Isles of the North Atlantic. At other times, it is simply known as Albion.

In Europe, the Catholic Church calls for an 8th ecumenical council and removes the ‘filioque’ from its creed in favour of economic distributism, personalism and solidarism in countries where it holds influence. Genuine decentralization and subsidiarity prevails in the varied cultures and nations of Europe, in a completely non-hegemonic fashion.

Inspired by this, the state of Alaska bordering Canada forms a native American Eskimo pan-Slavic Nordic alliance under the name ‘Northern Soul Cathedral’, rumoured in certain circles to be descendants of the lost tribes of Israel. A new spiritual dynamic emerges, a mysticism close to a kind of Christian animism. Some of its adherents believe that the earth, sun and other planets – even rocks and trees – are sentient beings, and that the birth of agriculture was actually the historic Biblical fall – wheat actually being the forbidden food, as evidenced in some ancient Hebraic traditions.

At this time, there is an increase in sunspot activity. This is commonly believed to be causing and triggering major earth changes. According to two famous, mystic scientists – one a Jewish rabbi called Enoch and the other a Greek Orthodox priest called Elijah – this is about to cause a partial pole shift, which they proclaim will be an instrument of God’s judgement on the world.

Certain reactionary currents and deluded activist groups claim these effects are being caused by human CO2 emissions, but they are rightly discerned by most people to be advocates for an anti- humanist death cult and are so ignored.

Along with Iceland, Iona joins the Northern Soul Cathedral. Known as the Brothers of the North, it has a monarchy and its king and mysterious bishop are rumoured in esoteric circles to be mystically related, and descendants of an ancient fifth-century order of bards and druids. Now lost to history, this has a relic of the Lord’s Supper in its possession.

However, there also emerges a counter initiation via an underground occult organization called The Black Sun International, a synarchist cabal of bankers seeking to bring back the usury and finance speculation that had been prohibited by papal decrees. There is a Luciferian faction that is successful in infiltrating and co-opting interfaith organizations to advocate a new perennialism, attempting to unite all religions into embracing a third temple of all faiths. Integral to this is a new peace and safety plan centred upon a document and international treaty called World Village 2030, suggesting that if sunspot activity or even CO2 emissions are causing earth changes, it is time to embrace a global form of central planning or democratic centralism to meet the challenges. This will also reject the worship of a father god figure and instead worship mother earth, symbolized in its promotional literature by the image of a beautiful and seductive woman riding a bull.

The political force for this is known as the Pan European Social Communitarian Union Movement (SCUM). They also believe that a basic income would be better distributed by advances in new technology such as a microchip, and point to how successful this has been in China’s own adoption of social credit by its own Eurasian Communitarian People’s Party.

Also integral to the World Village 2030 vision is the uniting of the three Abrahamic faiths of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. An attempt is made to comprise a common purpose Bible that, on completion and translation by a new Templar fraternity of Freemasons, is published under the titleOrange Catholic Bible. This is greatly influential in providing impetus to the formation of a new One World Religion known as the Harmonic Abrahamic Imperial League (HAIL), which has its headquarters in a building in Germany that strangely resembles the Tower of Babel.

The year 2029 arrives on the Russian cosmocist anarcho-futurist timeline with the advent of the Biblical antichrist. The satanic acceleration finally exhausts itself under the image, mark and name of Ouroboros, the world snake or serpent that devours its own tail. This satanic incarnation and manifestation of organized entropy brings the whole world down in a configuration of cataclysmic forces by the end of the year. Very little of humanity survives, as the cyclical sunspot activity did indeed bring about a partial pole shift in spite of the Black Sun’s peace and safety plan. A remnant of humanity survives, with those nations comprising the Northern Soul Cathedral based around the previous North Pole now at the centre of the world geographically.

They call for an international day of prayer and repentance to be held on the ancient Hebrew festival of Yom Kippur, the biblical Day of Atonement. Leading the prayers that day is the rabbi Enoch and the priest Elijah, and they condemn the impious act of the Russian cosmocists in playing God and attempting to manipulate time, however well meaning. Truly, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

The final conflict comes to be seen and understood as a living icon of non-duality. Time is discovered to be non-linear, as had been commonly understood – running from past, present to future – or cyclical, but rather as emanating from the future. The singularity is Christ in his second coming and so, as the rabbi and priest pray for repentance, suddenly everything and everyone is opened to a blazing trail of light, and a cosmic explosive holism occurs producing a flat ontology as earth particles transform or collapse into a wave, unveiling glory after glory. The world is transfigured into uncreated light. Time is no more.

The rabbi and priest change into two angels holding a lamp in their hands, and they point to an icon of the Holy Trinity known as the Hospitality of Abraham. They sing in unison, “Remember the future. Repentance is the last true rebellion. Another world is possible but it is the same one.”