1. Psyche
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This piece is about Tolkien’s Mythology, and I propose that for Tolkien, as for Dion Fortune, a key role was to help the National mind of England during the transition to the Age of Aquarius, and to set the tone for the new Age. This followed by a pathworking to Rivendell, to meet Arwen Undómiel. I am not alone in having worked with this Mythology for a long time, but I clearly recall my first steps in the Mysteries when I attended a work shop where we were taken on an inner journey to the top of a tower to contact one’s spirit guide. As I entered the room there was a figure with his back to me. He turned around, laughing: It was Gandalf the Grey. I thought to myself- ‘why on Earth am I meeting a fictional character, better get back to the day job.’ I’ve learned a lot since then, but I know that the (supposedly) fictional and recent nature of the mythology is an obstacle for some and I want to give those of you who haven’t yet worked with the material an opportunity to do so. As Dion Fortune said: an ounce of practice is worth a pound of theory!
References
  1. http://dionfortune.co.uk/articles/dion-fortune-and-the-other-arthuriad
It is not for me to teach the Psychologists their business, however great the need.
Peter Nascien Accepted Answer
Moderator
Thank you, Psyche, for posting your talk on the website and I appreciate the opportunity to read it at leisure. It had not occurred to me that there were so many parallels to be found between the work of Tolkien and of Dion Fortune - but of course each enriches our understanding of the other.
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Psyche Accepted Answer
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Hello Peter
It is not an obvious connection is it? However even their definition of magic has similarities. So Dion Fortune had her famous art of changing consciousness in accordance with will . Whereas Tolkien talked about entering into a state of enchantment which was a shift in consciousness.

I am glad you enjoyed it.

Psyche.
It is not for me to teach the Psychologists their business, however great the need.
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JMG Accepted Answer
Psyche, thank you for a fascinating article and one on a subject that's also dear to my heart.

One thing that I'm not sure has been explored enough by any of the biographical writers on Tolkien is the possibility that he may have been aware of at least some of Fortune's ideas by way of Charles Williams. Williams' book Witchcraft includes a chapter that discusses polarity workings in terms that will be instantly familiar to anyone who knows Fortune's writing, and Williams' friendship with C.S. Lewis, I would argue, is probably behind the inclusion of some very familiar Arthurian themes in That Hideous Strength. I don't happen to know whether Williams ran with any FIL members, but he certainly could have read Fortune's books.

There's also a core element in Tolkien's story that had to come from occultism: the particular form of the Atlantis legend that appears in the form of Tolkien's Numenor. The idea that Atlantis sank because its inhabitants turned to evil magic and the worship of the powers of evil was introduced by Blavatsky in Isis Unveiled and developed at much more length in The Secret Doctrine; it appears nowhere before she introduced it, and was mostly in occult literature until the second half of the twentieth century, when it spread through pop culture. (The way that so much of the older fantasy fiction was rooted in Theosophy is a story all by itself.) Yet Tolkien picks up exactly this theme and makes it central I don't doubt that Tolkien was as devout and orthodox a Catholic as he claimed, but he apparently fed his imagination on stranger sources.

All of which is to say that there may be even a closer connection than you've suggested...

-- JMG
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Psyche Accepted Answer
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Ah! Always delighted to speak about Tolkien...thank you so much for an interesting post!

With such a group of friends so attuned to the powers of the imagination, it is hard to believe they didn't discuss such matters. There is of course also the connection with Owen Barfield and his links to theosophy. I agree that Tolkien's imagination ran deep.

Tolkien was very attuned to the Atlantis story from a young age, and had recurring dreams of the Wave as a young boy, as, I believe, did one of his sons. I believe that Tolkien could never have written such a deep and spiritually coherent work if he were not contacted. He may not have thought of it in that way but I cannot imagine how would have come about without this. His descriptions of faery too, leave one in no doubt that he had been there.

In Tolkien's mythology Numenor, like Atlantis, was of an earlier era, and the Numenoreans from ,one perspective were proud and stepped over the mark in seeking Immortality. Another perspective would say that a cycle had come to a close and that the wisdom and knowledge gained in Numenor really needed to be brought to Middle Earth. The Numenoreans got a bit ahead of themselves and one can't help but be sympathetic. Well I can't anyway!

I didn't realise that it was Blavatsky who introduced the idea of black magic in Atlantis. That's really interesting. We do sometimes risk taking such matters as gospel don't we, and don't always question the premises on which they are built.

Interesting stuff! Thank you again,
Kind regards,
Psyche.
It is not for me to teach the Psychologists their business, however great the need.
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JMG Accepted Answer
Psyche, I have no doubt that Tolkien had at least some experience of Faery. Do you recall the fascinating essay in one of the last volumes of the History -- I think it was <i>Morgoth's Ring</i> -- where he talks in detail about what Elves look like now, and how you can tell the lingering Eldar from the fallen Avari? Christopher Tolkien, if I recall correctly, was in some perplexity about how to take the essay in terms of the fiction -- understandably, as it doesn't read like fiction at all. Nor do I think it's anything of the kind. It's Tolkien's treatise on the discernment of spirits, and combined with all those references here and there in the writing about glimpsing Elves in the woods, meeting an Elven princess in the woods and being struck motionless for a long while, etc., etc., -- I think it refers to one or more actual experiences.

With regard to Blavatsky and Atlantis, that came as a thorough surprise to me too! When I was doing the research for my book on the Atlantis legend, I set myself the task of reading everything written on the subject in English before 1950 or so, and that was when I discovered that Blavatsky introduced the idea that Atlantis had fallen due to the Atlanteans getting into evil magic, and that a minority that didn't fall into that trap escaped the way Elendil did. It's not in Plato, it's not in Donnelly, or any of the other older writers; it shows up first in Blavatsky, and from there goes all through the occult community and then into fantasy fiction. Mind you, I don't discount it just because Blavatsky introduced it; she was a much more complex figure than I think a lot of people realize.

With my best,

JMG
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Psyche Accepted Answer
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hello
ah...that's going to drive me nuts...need to find that- thank you for giving me a project! I don't think i do recall that one. I agree with you absolutely the quality of his descriptions, and what they imply and convey rather than spell out, for me is the most convincing. For me what you say about the truth is really important. It reminds me of his 'on fairy stories' essay where he says that making the fairy world believable is no mean feat. He certainly talked about his own impression that he was writing the truth.

Regarding Blavatksy and her thesis- did you get a sense of where her idea of black Atlantean magic came from?


Psyche.
It is not for me to teach the Psychologists their business, however great the need.
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JMG Accepted Answer
Dear Psyche,

No, I didn't find any trace of a source for Blavatsky's narrative, at least in that particular. It's possible that I simply haven't read enough mid-nineteenth century occult literature, but it certainly didn't seem to be in the Atlantis material until she put it there. Now and again I've had the uncomfortable feeling that she may have somehow foreseen the mess we've made of the climate today, and the flooding that's likely to result from it, and put that into her mythos as a wry warning; and of course there's always the possibility that she got it from the inner planes. But it's an open question.

I wish I had a copy of the relevant volume of The History of Middle-Earth! Looking at online tables of contents, I think the essay I have in mind was in volume 11, The War of the Jewels, but I'd have to look to be sure. If I can get to a library that has a copy, I'll see what I can find.

-- JMG
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Psyche Accepted Answer
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Dear JMG, I have that One! I shall scour it. Thank You!

we do tend to rather forget the force of nature until it bites us, don't we. I recently had a break by the sea and was smartly reminded of the power of the wave when I was picked up by one and landed rather unceremoniously on my Knees! A message there for me perhaps. :)

One wonders too whether the waves in question are physical, or Astral?
Psyche.
It is not for me to teach the Psychologists their business, however great the need.
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JMG Accepted Answer
Dear Psyche,

Having been knocked down by waves rather more than once, I can testify that they've certainly got a physical embodiment!

-- JMG
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Wendy Accepted Answer
Dear JMG

I was very interested to read your comments on Atlantis, and on Blavatsky's interpretation of it. Atlantis has become one of the 'core' elements in esoteric circles and subject to much theorizing and moralizing, but I recently came across the information that there are over 300 'Flood Myths' throughout the world, which really surprised me! (Unfortunately I can't remember the reference but it may have been Dorothy B. Vitaliano: Legends of the Earth: their geologic origins )

Apparently a common theme to these myths is the belief that the world is ‘re-created’ as a result of the flood, providing an opportunity for starting over again with new practices or a new ‘covenant,’ particularly those practices that happen to have been adopted by the culture that tells the story of the myth and naturally features prominently as the rightful inheritor of the new earth! Also, that the flood is caused by an angry deity as a punishment for various wrong-doings real or imagined - including, in Mesopotamia, the destruction of an entire people because they were too noisy. I wish I knew the secret of that one.....

This makes me question why we tend to think of Atlantis as a bit special, or a bit different, to all the other 300 examples? Are we perhaps just kidding ourselves? Maybe we need a myth like this! I've heard it said that if Atlantis didn't exist we would have to invent it and I'm wondering if there's some truth in that. It would feel sort of wrong if it wasn't there in the background.

Best regards, Wendy
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JMG Accepted Answer
Dear Wendy,

Yes, I think it was the Vitaliano book! I read that while doing research for my book on the Atlantis legend and found it hugely useful.

More generally, I think there are a couple of things going on here. To begin with, we do live in a post-Flood world; when you look at the immense amount of inhabited dry land during the most recent ice age, that's underwater today, it's clear (at least to me) that most of us belong to cultures that still carry the scars of the terrible age of rising seas that began around 9600 BCE. (That we may be on our way to another round of the same thing, due to our own cluelessness, is just one of history's ironies...)

But I've come to believe that there's more going on here than that. I think a case can be made -- and I may try to make it in print one of these days -- that the esoteric traditions we follow do descend, in part and via a great many intervening steps, from the traditions of the Ice Age civilization of the northern Atlantic basin that we remember dimly as Atlantis. We look toward Atlantis because we sense that there's where our roots are...

With my best, JMG
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Wendy Accepted Answer
Dear JMG

I look forward very much to the publication of your book on Atlantis! It's high time that something sensible was written about it. I know that a number of books about it have been published over the years but the majority of them seem to be quite subjective and maybe reveal more about the author, and the current fashions of esoteric thinking of their time, than the subject itself. The opportunity to learn some basic facts will be invaluable. Bring it on!

All best wishes, Wendy
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JMG Accepted Answer
Dear Wendy,

Thank you! Actually, it's been out for a while --

Atlantis: Ancient Legacy, Hidden Prophecy

It doesn't deal with the occult traditions in as much detail as I'd do if I were writing it today, but hindsight is always 20/20...

With my best,
JMG
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Nova Genista Accepted Answer
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Dear JMG

Many thanks for the pointer to 'Atlantis: Ancient Legacy, Hidden Prophesy'. We will certainly look it out.
Hindsight is always a great thing is it not, but is it not also that we, and all around us, change with time and circumstances so that, looking back and thinking that we might/should have done something differently, is not always because of some shortfall in what we did before but because things (including us) have changed in the interim? Maybe the time is ripe for a new version dealing with the occult traditions?! :)

Best regards
Nova
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