I have just heard that Gareth Knight - real name Basil Wilby - died on 1 March of this year at the ripe old age of ninety-one.
Knight was a continuation of the 'pantheon' of Romantic Christian writers - and was for me, after the death of Geoffrey Ashe, a strong candidate for Greatest Living Englishman; albeit holding that title only for a few weeks...
And now that GK has left this mortal life, there are no obvious candidates to take over the role.
I have written about his work several times on this blog; and William Wildblood wrote about his books on Albion Awakening. GK was a ritual magic practitioner, scholar and author - probably the most known and respected 'magician' in the British Isles.
(Despite or because of which; his passing seems to have gone unremarked in the mainstream mass media.)
William and I agree that Experience of the Inner Worlds is probably the best of his many worthwhile and enjoyable books. Others I especially liked included his autobiography I called it magic, and The magical world of the Inklings; also his books about Dion Fortune (to whom he was probably the spiritual successor); these served to introduce me to the life and work of this brilliant and appealing woman-genius.
Knight convinced me of two things.
First; by his life, writings and example; that magic could be a valid path of Romantic Christianity; albeit that the roots in Christianity seem substantially to have disappeared from contemporary magical practitioners - and indeed a hostility is more evident.
(Like all institutions over the past century, the world of ritual magic practitioners has by-now 'converged', and substantially assimilated to (subordinated to) leftist politics.)
Secondly; that the power of ritual magic dwindled through the twentieth century.
Magic began as practiced by highly organized and hierarchical societies, practicing formal rituals that reliably producing highly objective-seeming results; and being almost a vocation (like a priesthood). But later, incrementally, magic became more improvisatory, more subjective; and more dependent on charisma, surprise, shock, even trangressions; in effect more like a dramatic pageant, a 'happening' or avant garde performance... and the effects more psychological and interpersonal.
Therefore my conclusion, overall, is that magic was, but is no longer, a possible and effectual spiritual path for Christians.
This because of the waning objective power of ritual, symbol, allegory, disciplined mental-training etc; but also because of the corruption of institutions and the consequent necessity (and waxing power) of individual human consciousness - of 'primary thinking' - which is free, generative, creative and more fundamental than externally, or socially, defined structures.
I didn't know Gareth Knight had died. He was the best writer on magic over the last 50 years and definitely on the side of the angels unlike some in that world.
Post a Comment