Category Archive: G

Feb 02

Henri Gamache

Ashley Ann Lewis

Ashley Ann Lewis

Director / Dept Chair Occult at National Paranormal Society
Ashley became interested in the paranormal at a young age, but at that young age she did not have much understanding in it at all. I wasn’t until 2010 that she really became interested. Thanks to a Resolve carpet cleaning can that flew across the room, Ashley among three others who witness what happen that night, they pulled a team together. Ashley is a heavy researcher and though she may find the answer to what she is searching for she’ll search even harder. She’s overly determined and takes her part in the paranormal field very seriously. Between working hard and spending every dime she had she became a found of a paranormal team that is based out of Historic Louisiana and was honored to take on a position as a Representative with The National Paranormal Society. There is still so much she does not understand which drives her to work even harder and to further educate herself on everything.
Ashley Ann Lewis

Latest posts by Ashley Ann Lewis (see all)

protectiongamacheHenri Gamache was the pseudonym of an otherwise unknown author who was active in the United States during the 1940s, and who wrote on the subject of magic. All his books were published in New York City and most of them consist of semi-scholarly popular compilations that draw from (and give credit to) previously-published works on occultism. His works are noted for their connection to the Afrocentric theories of Marcus Garvey.

Disputed identity
Henri Gamache’s most popular books are The Master Book of Candle-Burning, a classic of practical African American hoodoo folk magic, Terrors of the Evil Eye Exposed, a work dealing with worldwide belief in the evil eye, and Mystery of the Long Lost 8th, 9th, and 10th Books of Moses, which is based upon the Garveyist assertion that Moses, the leader of the Jews, was a Black African.

The identity of Henri Gamache is disputed. Some researchers take at face value the mid-1950s copyright renewal claims of a book publisher named Joseph W. Kay (a.k.a. Joseph Spitalnick), in which Kay claimed to be the actual author of all works by both Henri Gamache and a pseudonymous occult author of the 1930s, Lewis de Claremont (also spelled Louis de Clermont). The falsity of Kay’s claims with regard to the works of de Claremont is demonstrable, because the 70227 (1)de Claremont books were first published by another company and only assigned to Kay upon republication, and this obvious attempt at deception in turn casts doubt upon Kay’s claim to the Gamache authorship.

Joe Kay died in 1967, but interviews with younger members of the Kay family have brought out the fact that the elder Kay obtained copyright ownership and publication rights to the previously published writings of a Mr. Young, whose first name is lost, in exchange for a debt owed. Young is mentioned as a writer of occult books within the pages of the ghost-written autobiography of the famous African American stage magician Benjamin Rucker, better known as Black Herman.

Thus it seems that both Henri Gamache and Lewis de Claremont / Louis de Clermont were not pseudonyms for Joe Kay (Joseph Spitalnik), but for Mr. Young, the ghost-writer of the Black Herman autobiography.

In 2013, catherine yronwode published an account of an interview with Ed Kay, the son of Joseph Kay, in which Ed Kay stated that he recalled Henri Gamache as the pseudonym of a “young college educated Jewish woman who worked for my father and wrote books for him”.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henri_Gamache

Jan 25

Gerald Gardner

Ashley Ann Lewis

Ashley Ann Lewis

Director / Dept Chair Occult at National Paranormal Society
Ashley became interested in the paranormal at a young age, but at that young age she did not have much understanding in it at all. I wasn’t until 2010 that she really became interested. Thanks to a Resolve carpet cleaning can that flew across the room, Ashley among three others who witness what happen that night, they pulled a team together. Ashley is a heavy researcher and though she may find the answer to what she is searching for she’ll search even harder. She’s overly determined and takes her part in the paranormal field very seriously. Between working hard and spending every dime she had she became a found of a paranormal team that is based out of Historic Louisiana and was honored to take on a position as a Representative with The National Paranormal Society. There is still so much she does not understand which drives her to work even harder and to further educate herself on everything.
Ashley Ann Lewis

Latest posts by Ashley Ann Lewis (see all)

ggard

Gerald Gardner (1884-1964) is perhaps one of the best known and talked about figures in modern witchcraft to date. An English hereditary Witch, he was the founder of contemporary Witchcraft practiced as a religion. Some consider him a man of great vision and creativity who had the courage to try outrageous things during difficult times. Others look on him as a con man, deceitful and manipulative. He authored the now famous books “Witchcraft Today” and “The Meaning of Witchcraft”, both he wrote in the 1950’s. These two classic books inspired the growth and development of many traditions of modern Witchcraft throughout the United Kingdom, Europe and the United States.

Gerald Gardner was born on the 13th June 1884 in a small northern town called “Blundellsands” near Liverpool, England. Born of Scottish descent into a well-to-do family, his father was a merchant and justice of the peace. His grandfather is reputed to have married a witch, and he claims others of his distant family had psychic gifts. Gardner believed himself to be a descendant of “Grissell Gairdner”, who was burned as a witch at Newburgh in 1610. Of his ancestors, several became Mayor’s of Liverpool, and one “Alan Gardner” a naval commander, was later made a Peer of the Land, he had distinguished himself as commander in chief of the Channel Fleet and helped to deter the invasion of Napoleon in 1807.

Gardner was the middle of three sons, but was kept distanced from his two brothers as he suffered severely with bouts of asthma. As a result his parents employed a nanny “Josephine ‘Com’ McCombie” to raise him separately. Com persuaded his parents to allow her to take him traveling during the winter months to help alleviate his condition. Traveling across Europe, Gardner was often left alone to his own devices, but was content to read and study academic subject such as History and Archaeology. Later when he became a young man, his nanny married and went to live with her husband in Ceylon. Gardner went with her and started work on a tea plantation. He then moved on to Borneo and finally settled in Malaysia.

There with his interest in history and archaeology, Gardner became fascinated with the local culture and its religious and magical beliefs. Gardner also had a keen interest in all things occult and was particularly drawn to ritual knives and daggers, especially the Malay “Kris” (a dagger with a wavy blade). He made a name for himself in academic circles with his pioneering research into Malaya’s early civilizations. He also gained respect as an Author, and had some of his writings published in the journal of the Malayan branch of the Royal Asiatic Society. After 20 years of study he wrote his first book on the history and folklore of the Malay called “Keris and other Malay Weapons – Singapore, 1936”, and became the world’s foremost authority on Malaya’s indigenous people and their weapons.

From 1923 until he retired in 1936, Gardner worked as a civil servant for the British government, first as a rubber plantation inspector, then as a customs official and inspector of opium establishments. Gardner made a considerable amount of money in his dealings with rubber, which allowed him to indulge in his favorite pastime, Archaeology. On one expedition he claimed to have found the site of the ancient city of Singapura. In 1927 he met and married an English woman called “Donna”.

After his retirement in Malaya in 1936, Gardner and his wife returned to England and settled in the New Forrest area of Hampshire. Gardner continued to indulge his archaeological interests and spent much of his time traveling around Europe and Asia Minor. In Cyprus he found places he claims to have dreamed about, and was convinced he had lived there in a previous lifetime. In 1939 he wrote and had published his second book, A Goddess Arrives. It was based in Cyprus and concerned the worship of a goddess called “Aphrodite” in the year 1450 B.C.

By now the Second World War was looming and Gardner, anxious to do his piece for King and Country, turn his thoughts to Civil Defense. He wrote a letter publish in the Daily Telegraph stating that, “As decreed in the Magna Carta, every free-born Englishman is entitled to bear arms in the defense of himself and his household”. He further suggested that the civilian population should be armed and trained in the event of invasion. The German press picked up the article and front-page headlines appeared in the “Frankfurter Zeitung”, they where furious, raging against the man who had made such a “medieval” suggestion. Shortly thereafter the famous “Home Guard” came into being, known first as the “Local Defense Volunteers”. We shall probably never know if the “Magna Carta letter” was the impetus that instigated it?

Having settled in the New Forrest area of Hampshire, one of the oldest forests in England, Gardner began to explore its history. He soon found that local folklore was steeped in Witchcraft, and curiosity ignited he began to seek out involvement. Through neighbors he became acquainted with a local group of occultist Co-masons, a fraternity that called themselves “The Fellowship of Crotona”. A “Mrs. Besant-Scott” the daughter of “Annie Besant” a Theosophist, and founder of the women’s Co-Masonry movement in England, had established it. (The order was affiliated to the Grand Orient of France, and therefore not recognized by the Masonic Grand Lodge of England.). They had built a small community theatre called “The First Rosicrucian Theatre in England”, and there they used to meet. Gardner joined them and helped to put on amateur plays with occult and spiritual themes.

Within the fellowship another but secret group operated, a member of which spoke to Gardner and claimed to have net him in a previous life, he went on to describe the places Gardner had found in Cyprus. Soon after they drew Gardner into their confidence, claiming to be a group of hereditary Witches practicing a craft passed down to them through the centuries. The group met in the New Forest where he was introduced to “Mrs. Dorothy Clutterbuck”. Old Dorothy as she was affectionately known, accepted Gardner for initiation and in September 1939 at her own home, a big house in the neighborhood, and he was initiated into the old religion.

Old Dorothy’s coven was believed to have been the last remains of a coven directly descendant from one of the famed “Nine Coven’s” founded by “Old George Pickingill” some forty years earlier. In the following year 1940, while working with this coven, Gardner claimed to have helped with and took part in the now famous “Coven Rites”, aimed at and against the Nazi High Command and the threatened invasion of Hitler’s forces. This we now know was not true. The “Coven Rites” against Hitler had been orchestrated by “Cecil Williamson”, the founder of the Witchcraft Research Center, and was performed by “Aleister Crowley” the famous occultist. It’s possible though and more probable, that they performed some sort of rite of their own recognizance.

Just before the outbreak of war, Gardner met with Arnold Crowther, a professional stage Magician and Ventriloquist, he and Gardener formed a friendship that would last for many years. It was after the war in 1946, that Gardner first met Cecil Williamson. They met at the famous Atlantis Bookshop in London, where Gardner was giving an informal talk. Gardner had been eager to meet Williamson in order to extend his network of occult contacts. While they would meet frequently thereafter, their relationship was strained and would later end on bad terms. Williamson describes Gardner as a “Vain, self-centered man, tight with his money, and more interested in outlets for his nudist and voyeuristic activities, than in learning anything about authentic witchcraft”.

In 1947, his friend Arnold Crowther introduced Gardner to Aleister Crowley. Their brief association would later lead to controversy over the authenticity of Gardner’s original “Book of Shadows”. Crowley had allegedly been a member of one of Old George Pickingill’s original Nine Covens in the New Forest, and Gardner was especially interested in the rituals used by that coven, so to augment the fragmented rituals used by his own. He asked Crowley to write down what he could remember and implement them with other magical materials. Crowley by this time was in poor health and only months away from death, but he acquiesced to Gardner’s request. He also made Gardner an honorary member of the Ordo Templi Orientis (OTO), a Tantric sex magic order at one time under his leadership, and granted him a charter to operate his own lodge. Crowley was also an acquaintance of Cecil Williamson.

In the mean time, Gardner had moved from the New Forrest, to Bricketts Wood, outside St Albans. There he had bought a cottage on the grounds of a nudist club, from where he ran his own lodge. Not having a car or able to drive, Gardner would prevail on Williamson to drive him down to Crowley’s lodgings in Hastings for consultations. Williamson later claimed to have participated as an observer in some of Gardner’s, new lodge activities. The alter he said, was made up of an old “Anderson” air raid table with a metal top, and was used to perform the Great Rite (A rite involving sexual intercourse.). The lodge he say’s, had far more men than women with about 80 to 20 percent splitting the difference, this because many of the women who joined his lodge, didn’t favor the sexual rites. At one point Gardner had to resort to hiring a London prostitute to play-act the role of High Priestess, and engage in the sex act.

Over time Gardner accumulated a vast amount of knowledge on Folklore, Witchcraft, and Magic, and had collected many artifacts and materials on magical procedures and ceremonial magic. Much as he wanted to write about and pass on this knowledge, he was prevented from being too public. Witchcraft was still against the law in England and he was cautioned by Old Dorothy to remain secretive and not to write. Later she reluctantly allowed him to write in the form of fiction. The result was an occult novel called “High Magic’s Aid”. It was published in 1949, by “Michael Houghton” who was also known as “Michael Juste”, the proprietor of the famous Atlantis Bookshop in London. The book contained the basic ideas for what was later to become “Gardnerian Wicca”.

In 1951 there was a resurgence of belief and new interest shown in the Old Religion, brought on by the repeal of the last antiquated witchcraft laws still being enforced in England. Gardner was now free to go public and breaking away from the New Forest coven, he began to establish his own. This change in the law also made it possible for Cecil H. Williamson to open the famous “Museum of Magic and Witchcraft”, (formerly called the Folklore Center) at Castletown in the Isle of Man. Later that year after a dispute with his trust fund, Gardner turned up on his doorstep in financial trouble. Williamson took him in as the museum’s director, and soon he became known as the “Resident Witch”.
Through his association with the museum, Gardner became acquainted with everyone there was to know in occult circles at that time. His reputation as a leading authority on witchcraft began to spread. A year later in 1952, with his financial problems resolved, Gardner bought the museum buildings together with its display cases from Williamson. Gardner’s collection of artifacts and materials were not as extensive as Williamson’s, and he found that he hadn’t enough objects to fill all the cases. He asked Williamson to loan him some of his talismans and amulets. By now weary, if not openly disliking Gardner, Williamson reluctantly agreed but took the precaution of making plaster casts and imprints of each item. Gardner reopened the museum and operated it on his own.

n 1953 Gardner met “Doreen Valiente”, and initiated her into his coven. Doreen proved to be his greatest asset, it was she who helped Gardner rewrite and expand his existing “Book of Shadows”. Collaborating together, they embellished the numerous text and rituals he had collected and claimed to have been passed down to him from the New Forrest Coven. Doreen also weeded out much of Aleister Crowley’s materials on account of his black name, and put more emphasis onto Goddess worship. So it was between them, that Doreen and Gardner established a new working practice, which evolved into what is today one of the leading traditions of the Wicca movement, “Gardnerian Wicca”.

In 1954 Gardner wrote and had published his first non-fiction book on witchcraft, “Witchcraft Today”. In it he supported the theories of anthropologist “Margaret A. Murray” who purported that modern Witchcraft is the surviving remnant of an organized Pagan religion that had existed before the witch-hunts. Murray also wrote the introduction to the book. The book on its release was an immediate success and because of it new covens sprang up all over England, each practicing its dictates. The Gardnerian tradition had been born.

Gardner soon became a media celebrity and courted their attention. He loved being in the spotlight and made numerous public appearances, dubbed by the press as “Britain’s Chief Witch”. However not all the publicity was beneficial. Gardner was a keen naturist and his penchant for ritual nudity was incorporated into the new tradition. This caused conflict with other hereditary witches who claimed that they had always worked robed. Many also believed he was wrong to make so much public, what had always been to them considered secret. They believed that so much publicity would eventually harm the craft.

Gardner became difficult to work with, his egotism and publicity seeking tried the patience of his coven members, even that of Valiente, by now his High Priestess. Splits began to develop in his coven over his relentless pursuit of publicity. He also insisted on using what he claimed were “ancient” Craft laws that gave dominance to the God over the Goddess. The final revolt happened when he declared that the High Priestess should retire when he considered her to old. In 1957, Doreen Valiente and others members having had enough of the gospel according to Gardner, left and went their separate ways. Undaunted, Gardner continued on, he wrote and had published his last book “The Meaning of Witchcraft” in 1959.

In May of the following year 1960, Gardner was invited to a garden party at Buckingham Palace, this in recognition of his distinguished civil service work in the Far East. A few weeks later on the 6th June, he initiated Patricia Dawson into his coven and she in turn initiated his old friend Arnold Crowther. On the 8th November, Patricia and Arnold were married in a private handfasting, officiated by Gardner, and followed the next day with a civil ceremony. That same year his devoted wife Donna died. While she had never taken part in the craft or his activities within it, she had remained his loyal companion for 33 years. Gardner was devastated and began to suffer once more his childhood affliction of asthma.

In 1962, Gardner started to correspond with an Englishman in America, “Raymond Buckland”. Buckland would later be responsible for introducing the Gardnerian tradition into the United States. They met 1963 in Perth, Scotland, at the home of Gardner’s then High Priestess, “Monique Wilson” (Lady Olwen). Monique initiated Buckland into the craft, just shortly before Gardner left to vacation the winter months in the Lebanon. Gardner would never get to see the impact of his tradition in America. Returning by ship from his vacation, Gardner suffered a fatal heart attack. On the 12th February 1964, he died at the breakfast table on board ship. The following day he was buried on shore in Tunis, his funeral attended only by the Captain of the vessel he had traveled on.

In his will, Gardner bequeathed the museum in Castletown to his High Priestess, Monique Wilson, together with all its artifacts, his personal ritual tools, notebooks, and copyrights to his books. Monique and her husband continued to run the museum, and hold weekly coven meetings in Gardner’s old cottage, – but only for a short time. When they could, they closed the museum down and sold its contents to the “Ripley’s, Believe It Or Not” organization in America. They in turn dispersed the many artifacts amongst its various museums, some they sold on to private collections. Many of Gardner’s supporters were dismayed, even angered by these events and Monique was forced from grace as High Priestess. Other beneficiaries of Gardner’s estate were Patricia and Arnold Crowther (his old friends), and “Jack L. Bracelin” the author of his biography written in 1960 entitled, “Gerald Gardner: Witch”.

http://www.controverscial.com/Gerald%20Brosseau%20Gardner.h…
http://www.themystica.com/…/articles/g/gardner_gerald_b.html
n.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerald_Gardner_%28Wiccan%29

Jan 17

Karl Johannes Germer

Ashley Ann Lewis

Ashley Ann Lewis

Director / Dept Chair Occult at National Paranormal Society
Ashley became interested in the paranormal at a young age, but at that young age she did not have much understanding in it at all. I wasn’t until 2010 that she really became interested. Thanks to a Resolve carpet cleaning can that flew across the room, Ashley among three others who witness what happen that night, they pulled a team together. Ashley is a heavy researcher and though she may find the answer to what she is searching for she’ll search even harder. She’s overly determined and takes her part in the paranormal field very seriously. Between working hard and spending every dime she had she became a found of a paranormal team that is based out of Historic Louisiana and was honored to take on a position as a Representative with The National Paranormal Society. There is still so much she does not understand which drives her to work even harder and to further educate herself on everything.
Ashley Ann Lewis

Latest posts by Ashley Ann Lewis (see all)

NPSGraphic

kohnsKarl Johannes Germer, successor to Aleister Crowley as outer head of the order of the Ordo Templi Orientis (OTO), was born January 22, 1885, in Germany. His college career at the Sorbonne, University of Paris, was interrupted by World War I, when he was drafted into the German army. He served as a reserve officer and was awarded the Iron Cross, both first and second class, possibly for intelligence activity in regards to Russia.

After the war Germer joined the publishing firm Barth Verlag in Munich as a manager. In the early 1920 he worked with Tränker, a member of the OTO in the publication of several short works by Crowley, including Der Meister Therion: Eine biographische Nachricht (1925). By this means Germer became acquainted with Crowley and moved to England, where he worked publishing Crowley’s writings. Also with the help of Martha Küntzel, a former Theosophist, he founded Thelema-Verlag in Leipzig to publish German translations of Crowley’s books. In 1935, on a visit to Leipzig, he was arrested by the Nazi government, which was in the process of suppressing occult work. Germer was confined at Alexanderplatz prison and Esterwegen concentration camp for ten months and kept his sanity by reciting the Thelemic Holy Books, the essential writings of thelemic magic as taught by Crowley. Shortly before his release, he was given a vision of his Holy Guardian Angel, a major early magical step for all thelemites. (The word thelema, the central concept of Crowley’s magic, is derived from the Greek word for will.)

Germer then moved to Brussels and tried to keep in touch with the scattered OTO groups, but all of these were finally closed in 1937. In 1941 he was arrested again and spent ten months in an internment camp before he was allowed to get out of the country. He migrated to the United States, and Crowley named him the Grand Treasurer of the order. Germer concentrated on raising money to continue the fragile publication program of the OTO. He wrote an account of his experiences in prison but was never able to find a publisher. Among his duties as the highest ranking officer in the United States was mediating a dispute in the Pasadena lodge concerning the magical work of Jack Parsons. Germer worked through Grady McMurtry as his representative.

Crowley named Germer his successor as head of the order, then died in 1947. Germer lived quietly in rural California and seemed unwilling and uninterested in carrying out his duties as chief administrator of the OTO. In 1955 he chartered a lodge in England under Kenneth Grant, who formed the New Isis Lodge with instructions to limit his work to the first three of the eleven OTO degrees. When Grant began to work higher degrees, Germer withdrew his charter. He also chartered a Swiss lodge, but otherwise remained aloof from the members, many of whom were unaware for several years of his death on October 25, 1962.

Germer died without naming a clear successor or establishing a process for appointing a successor. His work was carried by several claimants, including Metzger in Switzerland, Kenneth Grant in England, Marcelo Ramos Motta in Brazil, and eventually Grady McMurtry in California, each of whom would head a separate branch of the OTO.

http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3403801901.html

Jan 03

George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff

Ashley Ann Lewis

Ashley Ann Lewis

Director / Dept Chair Occult at National Paranormal Society
Ashley became interested in the paranormal at a young age, but at that young age she did not have much understanding in it at all. I wasn’t until 2010 that she really became interested. Thanks to a Resolve carpet cleaning can that flew across the room, Ashley among three others who witness what happen that night, they pulled a team together. Ashley is a heavy researcher and though she may find the answer to what she is searching for she’ll search even harder. She’s overly determined and takes her part in the paranormal field very seriously. Between working hard and spending every dime she had she became a found of a paranormal team that is based out of Historic Louisiana and was honored to take on a position as a Representative with The National Paranormal Society. There is still so much she does not understand which drives her to work even harder and to further educate herself on everything.
Ashley Ann Lewis

Latest posts by Ashley Ann Lewis (see all)

NPSGraphic

G2eGEORGE IVANOVITCH GURDJIEFF (1877–1949). These brackets enclose seventy-two years of a life that, in spite of all that has been written about it, is incapable of exact documentation. It is a fact that Gurdjieff died in 1949, but since he gave his age differently at different times, the date of birth given here can only be approximate. This was all part of his enigma, of the sense he gave of deliberately playing a role, or, as P. D. Ouspensky wrote, after their first meeting, of being a man “poorly disguised.” His whole life, for the biographers, has the air of an authentic myth, in the sense of something heroic and significant but not to be apprehended except in so far as he could, by these very disguises, mediate it to the general understanding.

Born in Alexandropol, near the Persian frontier of Russia, of a Greek father and an Armenian mother and later tutored by the Dean of the Military Cathedral at Kars, he was brought up in an antique patriarchal world where children were put to sleep at night with the story of Gilgamesh. While he was still a very young man, however, Gurdjieff, true to his role, “disappeared”—as Odysseus must have seemed to disappear from his local world of Ithaca—into that cauldron of history, tradition and ideas that we know as the Middle East. Indeed, in his second book Meetings With Remarkable Men he describes an even wider orbit, taking in the Gobi Desert, Mecca and Tibet, though here the reader must decide for himself whether such names stand for places or symbols—they could equally well be either—in his unremitting search for a “real and universal knowledge.” “I was not alone,” Ouspensky quotes him as saying. “There were all sorts of specialists among us. We called ourselves ‘The Seekers of Truth!’”

It has to be inferred that by 1914 the Seekers of Truth had succeeded in their quest, for in the autumn of that year Ouspensky records his first meeting with Gurdjieff. “I realised,” he writes, “that I had met with a completely new system of thought surpassing all I had known before. This system threw quite a new light on psychology and explained what I could not understand before in esoteric ideas.”

From this time onwards, since among his pupils there was now one taking notes, Gurdjieff—though only in so far as he himself wished to be—was in the eye of history. For the first two years of the First World War he elaborated his teachings to groups in Petersburg and Moscow, but with the onset of revolution, flight was inevitable. His journey with his followers through Russia to the Caucasus, then to Constantinople and at last to the West has all the elements of a modern thriller. But it is given an epic quality and extra dimension by the fact that Gurdjieff used the hardships and dangers—always for him the true stuff of existence—to exemplify his teaching and required of his pupils that they should escape not merely with their lives but with their Life. It was not until 1922 that he succeeded in his aim of bringing to the West what he had found in the East by establishing his pilgrim band at the Château du Prieuré, near Fontainebleau, where he founded his Institute for the Harmonious Development of Man.

What was the source of his teaching? True to his role, Gurdjieff never openly disclosed it. By examining his writings and the numerous commentaries upon them it might be possible to discover parallels in various traditions—Tantric Buddhism, Hinduism, Sufism, Greek Orthodoxy—possible, but hardly profitable. For the fundamental features of his method cannot be traced to any one source. Ouspensky quotes him as admitting, “I will say that, if you like, this is esoteric Christianity.” There seems no reason to reject this when one remembers that Christianity, as Gurdjieff knew it, was the heir of the ages and must have drawn to itself elements from very early pre-Christian traditions, Hittite, Assyrian, Phrygian, Persian; and there is nothing so explosive as old ideas restated in contemporary terms as the Western world was to discover when Gurdjieff burst upon it. His impact was tremendous. It was clear that he had come not to bring peace but a special kind of inner warfare and that his mission in life was to destroy men’s complacency and make them aware of their limitations. Only by such means, by what he called “conscious labours and intentional sufferings,” was it possible to bring about their inner development. The Work, as his method came to be called, had, as it very soon appeared, been only too accurately named. Writers, artists, men from all kinds of professions—among them Thomas de Hartmann, Russian composer, A. R. Orage, editor of The New Age and later one of the subtlest commentators of Gurdjieff’s writings, Rowland Kenney of The Herald, Dr. Maurice Nicoll, Jane Heap of The Little Review—found themselves digging wells, chopping down trees and breaking stones by day, while at night they were required to take part in the sacred dances, or “Movements,” which were an integral part of the teaching, or assisting at one of Gurdjieff’s great feasts where, under the influence of good food, vodka and the watchful eye of the Master, opportunities were provided, for those who had the courage, to come face to face with themselves. The hardiest among them, those who could rise to the level of “being serious,” were allowed to transmit something of the teaching to newer pupils.

By 1924 the Work was sufficiently well established for Gurdjieff to set out on the first of his trips to the United States where in January, in New York, a group of forty pupils gave a series of demonstrations of his Movements. Two thirds of these evenings were devoted to the sacred dances and the last third to what was described as “Trick, Semi-Trick and Real Supernatural Phenomena.” The audience was invited to distinguish between them and reminded that “the study of the first two was held to be indispensable to the study of the third, since to understand the last a perfectly impartial attitude and a judgment not burdened by pre-established beliefs were necessary.” It is clear from Gurdjieff’s writings that hypnotism, mesmerism and various arcane methods of expanding consciousness must have played a large part in the studies of the Seekers of Truth. None of these processes, however, is to be thought of as having any bearing on what is called Black Magic, which, according to Gurdjieff, “has always one definite characteristic. It is the tendency to use people for some, even the best of aims, without their knowledge and understanding, either by producing in them faith and infatuation or by acting upon them through fear. There is, in fact, neither red, green nor yellow magic. There is ‘doing.’ Only ‘doing’ is magic.” Properly to realise the scale of what Gurdjieff meant by magic, one has to remember his continually repeated aphorism, “Only he who can be can do,” and its corollary that, lacking this fundamental verb, nothing is ‘done,’ things simply ‘happen.’

The American tour brought a new influx of pupils to the Prieuré and, as usual, Gurdjieff, by deliberate indirection, set them to find directions out. “The teaching,” writes one, “was given in fragments—often in unexpected ways—and we had to learn to put the pieces together and connect them up through our observations and experiences.” However, the year 1924 was to prove a landmark for the teaching. It was in the late summer that Gurdjieff, slowly reassembling his forces after a near-fatal motor car accident, himself began during convalescence to put together in the form of a book those separated fragments. Work activities were reduced. Gurdjieff, while sustaining those pupils who remained, wrote incessantly, whether at Fontainebleau, or on his frequent motoring trips or seated at a table in the Café de la Paix in Paris where he had long been a familiar figure. All and Everything the book is called, not inaccurately, since it sets out to cover every aspect of the life of man. Into this vast allegory of Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson, top-heavy from its sheer weight of argument and at the same time soaring off into space, like a great, lumbering flying cathedral, Gurdjieff gathered the fundamentals of his teaching. Man, we are told, has an unique place and function in the cosmological scheme and enters into obligation by the fact of being born. The awareness of all this is not, however, a gift of Nature, neither are Individuality, Consciousness, Free Will and an Immortal Soul—these attributes, which man mistakenly believes he already possesses, have to be acquired by his own special efforts. Above all, the book repeatedly insists that man is asleep. It is only at the moment when he awakens, not merely to consciousness but to conscience—to Gurdjieff the words were, in fact, synonymous—that his true evolution can begin.

The manuscript, constantly revised, now became the focal point of the teaching, not only in France but in New York during his two next American trips, in 1929 and 1933. But in the latter year, with the sale of the Prieuré, Gurdjieff’s life enters another phase. After enjoying for nine years a local habitation and a celebrated name, he appears, clearly for reasons of his own—for Gurdjieff never stood still, he was always growing, always experimenting, always searching—to retire into the shadows. “He is no longer teaching,” said his older pupils when new people wanted to make direct contact with him. But one of his pet tenets was that the Work was not designed to discover something new but to recover that which is lost. An intrepid few, a handful of Homers attempting to chart the course of Odysseus, set out to do just that. If he accepted them, they were put into small intimate groups, each member depending upon the others, like mountain climbers upon a rope, and no group had any connection with the others. This was in keeping with Gurdjieff’s earlier work in Moscow when Ouspensky quotes him as saying that he never mixed groups but occupied each with a different work “according to the state of their preparation and their powers.” When one remembers that Gurdjieff’s teaching was essentially intimate and personal, his insistence that by the very nature of the Work he could not have many pupils appears valid and inevitable. The published reminiscences of various members of these small groups bear witness to the fact that he was, indeed, teaching in the thirties, but quietly, as though it were a question of reculer pour mieux sauter,1 And as usual he was careful not to let his right hand know what his left was doing. Those who knew the Teacher could gather only by rumour and hearsay that there were other Gurdjieff’s—the healer of psychic illnesses, the one who could cure alcoholism, Gurdjieff the business man, and the Gurdjieff known as “Monsieur Bonbon,” an old eccentric gentleman whose sole mission in life, it appeared, was to dispense candy to local cronies and children. None of the latter could have guessed when, in May 1939, “Monsieur Bonbon” could not be found, that it was because somebody called “Mister Gurdjieff” had once again gone to America, a country he held in affectionate regard because of its “brotherliness.” On his return to Paris war was at hand and with the outbreak of hostilities Gurdjieff disappeared from the sight of all but his French pupils until the Liberation. It is said that he sustained himself through those lean years by putting about the rumour that he was heir to a Texas oil well. Nobody was more surprised than the French shopkeepers to find, when his British and American pupils streamed back and paid the bills, that the story was essentially true.

The year 1946 marked the beginning of the last phase of his teaching, a period that for those who had known him earlier was richer than any that had gone before. For a little over three years new adherents and old pupils bringing their own pupils and children, flocked to his small crowded room to listen to a reading of one of his manuscripts—All and Everything, Meetings With Remarkable Men, Life Is Real Only When I Am—to hear him play on his small hand accordion the music he had composed for the different chapters, or to sit at his table and receive the bounty of his teaching in whatever form it might be given. “If take, then take!” was one of his favourite aphorisms—no sipping, no trifling—and for many the special nourishment that was offered in addition to the delicious edibles was indigestible, hard to stomach. The exotic flavours and the vodka in which the famous “Toasts to the Idiots” were drunk (Gr. idiotes, private person, that which in myself I am) did not make things easier. But easiness was not the aim. The patriarchal host, massive of presence, radiating a serene power at once formidable and reassuring, dispensed this “food” in various ways, always unexpected; sometimes in thunderclaps of rage, sometimes telling a story that only one of all the table would know was meant for himself, sometimes merely by look or gesture thrusting home the truth. Masks were stripped off mercilessly. Beneath the exacting benevolence of his gaze everyone was naked. But occasionally, for those who could face their situation Gurdjieff, always fleetingly, would let his own mask fall. It was possible then to see that behind the apparent mercilessness stood sorrow and compassion. At such moments his “humanity-ness”—a key word in his odd English vocabulary—would radiantly declare itself. If his aim was to teach men how to rise to the possibility of saying “I am,” he never forgot that “Thou art” and “He is” complete the conjugation.

In addition to all this energy of work in his own apartment, Gurdjieff now instituted at the Salle Pleyel daily practices of the Movements, the sacred dances that were so essential a part of his teaching. It was not only in Paris, however, that the Work year by year so vigourously progressed. There were groups already in England and the United States and others were now established in Holland, Sweden, Germany and South America. And in New York, in 1949, on January 13th, his name day, Gurdjieff, on what was to be his last trip to America, announced that he was now ready to publish All and Everything. At the same time, those English disciples who, after Ouspensky’s death in 1947, had joined the Paris groups, arranged for the publication of In Search of the Miraculous, Ouspensky’s long-withheld account of his early years with Gurdjieff. These two books, the first giving to the second an added dimension and the second clarifying the first, opened up the teaching. Gurdjieff now belonged to the world for the brief time that was left him. His health was faltering, but such was his powerhouse of inner strength that few could be brought to believe it. Throughout the summer, after his return from New York, the Work went on with added intensity. Gurdjieff, while serenely putting his own house in order, used every moment as a moment of teaching and each aspect of his fading strength as a reminding factor for his pupils that “man must live till he dies.” To “live” in Gurdjieff’s sense, was consciously to labour and voluntarily to suffer. This he himself did, with constancy and deliberation, until the 29th of October, 1949.

Since his death his work has been continued by his chosen pupils and groups are to be found everywhere in the Western world. The Movements have been accurately documented in a series of films; his second book, Meetings with Remarkable Men, has been published and the third is in preparation.2 The siftings of time are likely to prove that these records are his proper monument. In them the man and his myth are one. Those who seek him there may repeatedly discern a single, authentic anonymous footprint. It seems a fitting recognition of his role that Gurdjieff’s grave in Avon, near Fontainebleau, is bare of any name.

http://www.gurdjieff.org/travers1.htm

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