Tag: Gurdjieff

Recent events and some talks on the way

As many other people were, in recent weeks I was saddened by the terrible events in Ukraine. In my own case I can say that it was one of the few times when I was disappointed to have been proved right. How so? In my book The Return of Holy Russia I point out that Ukraine, and especially Kyiv, have a peculiar attraction for Vladimir Putin, and not only in the sense of his apparent aim to regain the “near abroad,” the lands lost to Russia with the breakup of the USSR. As I show in the book, Kyiv in the time of Kievan Rus’, was the birthplace of what we know as Russia, and it remains in the Russian cultural consciousness as a kind of Golden Age, what is called “the Lost Kingdom”, their equivalent, say, to the Arthurian legends. And in AD 989, when Vladimir I converted from Slavic paganism to Greek Orthodox Christianity, the Russians became the “Christ-bearing people,” a character that would later give rise to ideas of Moscow as the “Third Rome,” following the fall of the first and the loss of the second, Constantinople, to the Turks in 1453. Out of this came the notion of “Holy Russia,” a mantle that, cynically or not, Putin does seem to be gesturing to, in order to give the Russian people some sense of identity and purpose, something that seems to have eluded them since the economic free fall of the late 1990s. If nothing else, the sixty foot statue to Vladimir I he had erected just outside the Kremlin in 2015 suggests that the current Vladimir identifies more than a bit with his namesake.

When the book came out it drew some attention, mostly, it seemed, from readers interested in Russian Freemasonry, which I do write about – at least this was what I could tell when I saw that it had hit No. 1 in Freemasonry on amazon. Soon after Putin sent his troops across the border, I saw that the book was getting some attention again – I think it was No. 1 in Secret Societies this time. Although I can’t say I wasn’t pleased with this and didn’t mumble a sub-vocal “I told you so,” I was unhappy about the reason why. Not long after, David Fuller of Rebel Wisdom got in touch and asked if I would be up for talking about the book. Here is a link to that conversation. In it I refer to some material I go into in Dark Star Rising: Magick and Power in the Age of Trump that has quite a bit about Russia and the strange geopolitical ideas informing the Russian president.

I had an earlier conversation about Holy Russia with Jeffrey Mishlove, and here’s the link to that video.

And for a quick look on some of the people on Putin’s reading list, you can check out this short article on “The Philosopher Tsar.”

On a less troubling note, my latest book, Dreaming Ahead of Time: Experiences with Precognitive Dreams, Synchronicity and Coincidence is now out in paperback and Kindle in the UK, and Kindle only until May 24 in the US.

I’ve done two interviews with Jeffrey Mishlove based on the book. One is devoted for the most part to dreaming; the other to time.

And I’ve done podcasts about the book with Aeon Byte , The Higherside Chats and Rune Soup.

On May 27 I’ll be continuing my series of lectures on a Short History of Occultism for the Last Tuesday Society with my segment on C.G. Jung, the mystic who masqueraded as a psychologist – or was that the other way around…

I’ve added some extra lectures to the series:

On May 12 I’ll be talking about my experiences with precognitive dreams, based on the new book.

On July 5 I’ll be talking about Rudolf Steiner: Spiritual Scientist

On August 23 we’ll be looking at the Dark Side of the Age of Aquarius: The Occult Roots of the 1960s.

And on September 28 it’s Gurdjieff, Ouspensky and the Fourth Way.

On April 5 I will be making my first live appearance since last Halloween, at the London Fortean Society gathering at the Miller Pub in Borough. I will be talking about precognitive dreams and I can tell in advance that you will all be there…

On April 10 I will be talking about Dreaming Ahead of Time to Theosophical Society.

On April 25 I will be back in zoomland, speaking once again about my dreams – and yours – to the Science and Medical Network.

But in June, I will be joining Iain McGilchrist, John Pickering, Shantena Sabbadini, and other engaging speakers at the Pari Center in Tuscany, Italy, for a weeklong exploration of the idea of Re-Visioning Consciousness. I will be talking about my experiences with dreams, hypnagogia, synchronicity and other unordinary experiences and will do my best to put any participants to sleep during a workshop aimed at inducing these strange states.

I hope you can join me in some, if not all, of these events.

Recent talks, and a forgotten teacher

Here are some links to some talks I’ve given in recent months.

A Secret History of Consciousness, a three part series of lectures for the Theosophical Society, based on my book A Secret History of Conscious

In Part One: The Search for Cosmic Consciousness, I look at some contemporary scientific views about consciousness, and contrast these with the experiences of R.M. Bucke, William James, P.D. Ouspensky and others with what they called “cosmic consciousness.” How cosmic was it? Find out.

In Part Two: Esoteric Evolution, I trace a counter-tradition of evolutionary thought, beginning with Madame Blavatsky’s critique of Darwin, and leading to Rudolf Steiner’s strange union of theosophical cosmology and Goethean epistemology.

In Part Three The Presence of Origin, I give an overview of the life and work of the German-Swiss philosopher Jean Gebser, whose ideas about the “structures of consciousness” offer important insights into our contemporary post-everything world.

Here’s a video of a symposium on the Swedish mystic and artist Hilma Af Klint that I contributed to some years ago at the Moderna Museet in Stockholm, 2013.

A cheery conversation about death.

A talk about Owen Barfield.

The “forgotten teacher” mentioned above is Maurice Nicoll, who taught the Gurdjieff/Ouspensky Work in England for many years in the first half of the last century. Nicoll started out as the leading British disciple of Jung, but after meeting Ouspensky in late 1921, he switched his allegiance to the Fourth Way. Nicoll spent a year at Gurdjieff’s Institute for the Harmonious Development of Man in France, and on his return to London continued his studies under Ouspensky. In 1931, he was deputised to teach the Work himself, which he did until his death in 1953. He is most known for his exhaustive Psychological Commentaries on the Teaching of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky, and for his books The New Man, The Mark, – which deal with an “esoteric” reading of the Gospels – and Living Time, which marked him as, in J.B. Priestley’s words, a “time-haunted man.” He was also the author of the first book on Jung’s psychology written in English, Dream Psychology. Nicoll was also a deep reader of the works of Emanuel Swedenborg, and those familiar with Swedenborg’s, and Jung’s, ideas, will be aware of their presence in the later volumes of Nicoll’s Commentaries.

I have been asked to write a book about Nicoll, a sympathetic but critical study to complement the portraits of him left by some of his followers. A Go Fund Me page has been set up, asking support for this project. Readers of this blog know that I’ve written books about Jung, Ouspensky, and Swedenborg, and that Gurdjieff often turns up in my other books. I’ve written an article about Nicoll, published in Quest magazine a few years back, that should explain why he is important. The fact that he had Jung, Gurdjieff, and Ouspensky for teachers is enough to make him unique among modern seekers of wisdom. But that he introduced Jungian and Swedenborgian ideas into a Fourth Way teaching makes him an unusual instructor in that tradition. Nicoll was also keenly interested in the latest developments in science, in the work of Erwin Schrodinger, and the early findings in split-brain psychology, which was just beginning to get started toward the end of Nicoll’s life. Gurdjieff had entrusted Nicoll with the task of bringing the science of the west and the wisdom of the east into some creative union and in his last days he began to do just that.

Nicoll has been served well by his earlier biographers, Beryl Pogson and Sam Copley, but they were students and understandably biased toward their teacher. A recent discovery of a 1000+ page set of Nicoll’s diaries, covering crucial times in his life, also makes a new, non-partisan study of his life and work timely. Among other things, Nicoll’s diaries show a man struggling to find some way of life, some discipline, that could help him to unify and harmonise what for him were two mutually powerful but often antithetical drives, toward the spirit and toward the senses, toward the inner life of the soul, and the outer one of the body. A short video of an interview with me about Nicoll and why he deserves a new look can be found at the Go Fund Me page.

Holy Russia, Aeon Bytes, and Ends of Days

Here’s short notice of two live interviews about my new book The Return of Holy Russia.

Tonight, 15 May, at 9:00 PM UK time, I’ll be speaking with Michael Deacon about the book on his You Tube program End of Days

And tomorrow, 16 May, at 1:00 PM Central time, I’ll be speaking with Miguel Connor at Aeon Bytes about the book too.

Also, here’s a link to an interview I did about the book with Jeffrey Mishlove at the New Thinking Allowed.

Hoping you all are safe and well in these unusual times.



Barfield, Ouspensky, and oh yeah, that Trump book…

I’m giving a talk next week at Rudolf Steiner House here in London on the work of Owen Barfield. Readers of A Secret History of ConsciousnessRevolutionaries of the Soul, and Lost Knowledge of the Imagination will be familiar with Barfield and how his ideas have been a central influence on my own work. I’ve talked about Barfield’s work in the context of other topics, but this will be my first talk on his life and ideas directly. I am looking forward to it and to returning to Rudolf Steiner House, where I gave a talk on Lost Knowledge  not too long ago.

I’m also giving a talk later in the month on one of my favorite writers on consciousness and esotericism, and one of the first that I read, many years ago, P.D. Ouspensky. My first biographical book was about Ouspenky, and over the years I have found myself going back to his work on a number of occasions. Last year I made a kind of pilgrimage to Virginia Water, about twenty miles outside of London, where for a time in the 1930s and ’40s, Ouspensky had his own version of Gurdjieff’s Institute for the Harmonious Development of Man. This will be the first talk on Ouspensky that I’ve given in quite some time. The only other one I gave was when In Search of P.D. Ouspensky was first published, in 2003. As you might expect, I am looking forward to this too. Both talks will be videoed and, gods willing, posted on You Tube.

In other news, Dark Star Rising: Magick and Power in the Age of Trumphas finally risen. It was released in the US today – 29 May – and briefly occupied the No. 1 position at Amazon in, I’m not quite sure, magic, metaphysics, whatever genre it falls into in our increasingly classified times. (Remember when there used to be just an occult section in bookshops? Those were the days.) It’s holding on to that slot in Kindle and I don’t know how the audio book – which I’ve yet to hear – is doing. So far it’s garnered a few reviews; here are some links: Liberty Law Site, Forbesthe Faith Matters blog, and my favorite so far, Prof. Bruce Charlton’s splenetic response to the book. I have, in his words, “crossed the line”, “abandoned all” my “earlier standards of scholarship and fairness” and “joined the forces of darkness.” I have also been “corrupted” – very rapidly it seems – by “Global Elites” and have embraced their “moral inversion.” Or actually my hitherto hidden embrace of their “secular progressivism” is now clear as day.  News to me but then I never get the memos.

I can only thank Prof. Charlton for being moved enough by my book and the outrage it sparked to put his ideas into print – or pixels. I can also only say that if he thinks I am an agent of secular progressivism he has not read my previous books as attentively as he suggests. But of course in our highly polarized time, if you are not on one side you must be on the other and of course there are only two. For an idea of my take on progressive ideas, readers – and I include Prof. Charlton – may want to take a look at my article “What is Jordan B Peterson Really Saying?” in New Dawn magazine. Unfortunately the article isn’t online and I can’t disseminate hard copies. I don’t profit by it, but if you plump for a copy it may give you pause for thought next time you think of bemoaning the fact that I have been corrupted by the forces of godless globalization. If only.

Dark Star will continue to rise this week, and, I hope, for many weeks to come. I am on BBC Radio 3’s Freethinking broadcast this Thursday evening, 31 May – GMT – discussing the book with Matthew Sweet. And on Friday evening I am being interviewed for RT for their program Watching the HawksI’m not sure when this will air, but when I know, I’ll spread the word. And on 26 June I’ll be talking about the book to the Fortean Society at Conway Hall, a venue which, in its day, welcoming figures like Bertrand Russell, was most likely a veritable hotbed of secular progressivism. Drat, tarred with that brush again!

I should also mention that my online course for the CIIS on Lost Knowledge of the Imagination begins today. Something else I am looking forward to.

In the meantime, if you’d like to join me here, in my work for the forces of darkness, by all means do. Buy the book, read it, post a review, and then together we will look for a flashlight.

For the year ahead…

Today I start my sixty-second turn around the sun; here’s what’s in store so far for 2018. For one thing the print edition of Lost Knowledge of the Imagination will be available in the US on January 15th. It’s been out in the UK since October, and the Kindle edition has been available stateside since then too, but for those yanks who like to crack the spine of whatever they’re reading, they’ll soon have a chance to do this with my latest effort as well. Later in the year, on May 29th in fact, Dark Star Rising: Magick and Power in the Age of Trump, will be published in the US. It comes out about a month later here in Britain, and I suspect the Kindle version will be available before then too. This time around I’ll also be published audibly; Dark Star will be coming out as an audio book, my first. As I understand it, the rights were sold before I had even finished the book, on the strength of it being about Trump. Forgive my selfishness, but I hope he stays in the news at least until the book is out. I’m curious who will narrate it; I’d be happy to do it myself but I haven’t heard from the publisher.

Also on the horizon is Carl Abrahamsson’s Occulture, for which I’ve written a foreword. I’ve known Carl for some time – we met, I think, at an OTO seminar held here at London’s Canary Wharf – and have participated with him in several conferences and other esoteric get-togethers, both in London and abroad. He has a keen eye for the unusual, as readers of his journal, Fenris Wolf, know. I also recently had the pleasure of writing an introduction to a new edition of Colin Wilson’s second book, Religion and the Rebel, a book as important as The Outsider, but which was practically universally panned on appearance. That Wilson carried on writing after taking such a beating shows that the one thing an aspiring Outsider needs is a tough hide. (I know this is out already but I thought it wouldn’t hurt to slip in a plug for it here. It is an important book and should be much better known.) In other Wilsonian news, I’ll be giving a talk on Wilson’s interest in the work – ahem – of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky, something that was with him from the start, at the Second International Colin Wilson Conference, to be held at the University of Nottingham on July 6th. When they say international, they mean international; some of the speakers come from as far afield as Australia and New Zealand. Last year’s conference was a landmark event and I suspect next year’s will be as well.

I’ll be giving talks in London too. So far three are lined up. On January 23rd I’ll be speaking about Lost Knowledge of the Imagination at Rudolf Steiner House. If you don’t know it, it is a good example of Steiner’s architectural principles; an extra attraction is that the Sherlock Holmes Museum, at the fictitious 221 B Baker Street, is just around the corner. For some reason I find that not only appropriate, but significant. I’ll also be divulging some lost knowledge at Watkins Bookshop, one of the oldest – if not the oldest – esoteric bookshops in London; past customers included W. B. Yeats, Aleister Crowley, and Mick Jagger. I’m scheduled for a talk on February 15th, but it isn’t up on their site yet.

Speaking of Crowley – well, I will be speaking of him, at the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea Library on March 15th. I’ll be joining Antony Clayton, who will talk about Crowley’s last days in a boarding house in Hastings, run by eccentrics and where he was visited by a number of interesting characters. Antony put together a fascinating book, Netherwood: The Last Resort of Aleister Crowley, about this last stage in Crowley’s life, to which I contributed a chapter. Antony will talk about the Great Beast’s sunset years, and I will get him to them.

The big project for 2018 is a work I’ve been commissioned to do by Inner Traditions. It’s a follow-up to Dark Star Rising. Where in that book I focus on the strange occult politics surrounding Precedent Trump, in the next – title to be announced – I look into the strong messianic current that runs throughout Russian history. I ask to what extent does Tsar Vladimir tap into this? How do ideas about how Holy Russia will resist the decadent West inform his plans for the future? And what will that mean for the twenty-first century? I go into these questions to some extent in Dark Star Rising, focusing on the ideas of Alexandre Dugin, who occupies an orbit around Putin somewhat similar to Steve Bannon’s around Trump. But to say more now would be inadvisable.

I wish everyone who reads this – and everyone who doesn’t too – a very good Christmas. May 2018 find us ready to meet the challenges it will undoubtedly present. Oh, and thank you all very much for the birthday wishes.

Evolutionary Revelations

David Moore has posted an exhilarating and deeply probing essay about Lost Knowledge of the Imagination on his Ritual in the Dark web site. I met David last year at the Colin Wilson Conference held at Nottingham University, where he gave a brilliant talk on the links between Wilson’s ‘new existentialism’ and his investigations into the occult, as evidenced in Wilson’s novels The Mind Parasites and The Philosopher’s Stone, and I am happy to see that he will be speaking again at next year’s conference. I also understand that Colin Stanley’s Paupers Press will be publishing a collection of his essays sometime in the near future. I hope that future is very near, as I look forward to reading more of, well, Moore’s work – due credit to the god of unintentional puns given. It is encouraging and heartening to see new minds taking up the Wilsonian banner, and if it is simply not done for a writer to applaud an essay about his own work, then I accept the calumny such action entails. Diffidence be damned: it is a fine piece of writing.

Getting Beyond the Robot at Watkins Bookshop: Colin Wilson, Outsiders, Peak Experiences and More

Here is a link to a video of a talk I gave at Watkins Bookshop here in London on Friday November 11. Watkins is the oldest and most well-known of London’s esoteric and occult bookshops, having catered to a clientele that included W. B. Yeats, Aleister Crowley, and Mick Jagger – Sir Mick, I mean. It’s a landmark spot, on Cecil Court, an atmospheric alley off Charring Cross Road in the West End, lined with rare book stores and memorabilia shops. I talk about my latest book, Beyond the Robot: The Life and Work of Colin Wilson, to an appreciative crowd. Watkins has a publishing wing and in recent years has released new editions of some of Wilson’s work, specifically The Occult  and Beyond the Occultthey also published one of Wilson’s last works, Superconsciousness.

Colin Wilson goes Beyond the Robot on Rune Soup

Here’s a link to an interview I did recently with Gordon White on his pungent Rune Soup website. Gordon knows his Wilson – and much else besides – and as usual, we discuss many things over a wide range of topics, most of which have something to do with Wilson, existentialism, phenomenology, the occult, consciousness, and what place the Outsider has in our day and age.

Go Beyond the Robot at Metapsychosis

Jeremy Johnson at the new and fascinating website Metapsychosis has posted an excerpt from Beyond the Robot: The Life and Work of Colin Wilson. Jeremy is a mover and shaker within the burgeoning alternative consciousness studies field – which is a clumsy way of saying that he writes intelligently and with insight about important thinkers such as Jean Gebser, William Irwin Thompson (who had some nice words about my book The Secret Teachers of the Western World), Teilhard de Chardin and others who see consciousness as something more than a steam given off by our hardworking brain cells. I’ve corresponded with Jeremy and found him to be an honest, engaging, and, not surprising, integral thinker. Here he shares my account of Colin Wilson’s introduction of “the robot” into his phenomenological vocabulary.