the work

Tarot de Marseille Fool - By Nicolas Conver ( [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

As I’ve said before, I want to write more on Richard Gardner‘s work, and I feel I really need to, like I’m being pushed to do this. This is a start on that.

Richard classed himself as a “metaphysician”, and was deeply interested in human consciousness, and the nature of consciousness itself. He is in many ways a voice from another age, and I think even more valuable for that.

Richard studied the tarot and wrote a number of books on the subject, from the point of view of the teaching he saw preserved within it, rather than for its “fortune telling”. In it he saw the working of consciousness for its evolution, and he considered the evolution of consciousness to be the driving force of life, and of ourselves as part of life.

He also saw the elements as key to this, and love as I think in many ways the great work of the evolution of consciousness. Love, with its great drives, and its promise of bliss and perennial dreams fulfilled, and the despair engendered by its frustration, was at once the most direct, subtle and luminous of instructors. Richard considered the understanding of sexuality and sex to be very important in this.

He used to write that in the tarot, “God” was most clearly represented by The Fool, the unconditioned, pure Life Force, and this also represented what he termed “super-consciousness”, which he considered miraculous. This card is either unnumbered or numbered “0”, and he likened it to the Divine Androgyne. Richard’s God was not a god of authority and rules though, but a god of life, love and pure adventure, divine play, rather than personage, for it was in and through everything.

This isn’t a “religious” philosophy in any conventional sense, indeed it isn’t philosophy as such, but a metaphysical teaching to be experienced, an attempt to get us to experience and live life more consciously and fulfillingly, and understand what drives us.


the chemistry of union

I have been saying for some time that I would do a follow up to the posts on Tammo de Jongh and Richard Gardner, and their work with the elements, so here it is.

If you’re new to this subject, you can find a bit of background here, here and here. What follows is a summary of information contained in the chapter on “sexuality” in The Future Will Be Green by Anelog (Tammo) and Brother Sebastien, with just a little of my own reflection. I will refer to Anelog as Tammo during the post, because though he was called Anelog towards the end of his life, most people searching for him will know him as “Tammo”.

Reading this chapter I am really reminded of Richard Gardner and his vision, expressed in books like the Purpose of Love or Evolution Through the Tarot. Tammo clearly did his own work and researches, but there are points in this chapter where Richard’s spark really shows through. I remember writing to Tammo in 1981, saying how much I was interested in transformation and bringing about mutations in consciousness, as per Richard’s ideas. He wrote back and told me that he was not interested in that. I think I can now (happily) see that was not entirely true. The reason I am choosing this chapter is that it has that spark so clearly, and deals with something that is also at the core of Richard’s teaching.

As I summarised in a previous post, Tammo’s scheme involved the ordering of the elements within a person, in terms of their relative strength, with the different positions working very differently to each other. So someone could be earth 1st, water 2nd, fire 3rd and air last, for instance. 1st element dominates the essential nature of a person. 2nd element is repressed and is a kind of shadow element (even though it is the 2nd strongest). 3rd element dominates the personality, and can easily become a relatively negative or superficial manifestation. 4th element is the one we reach fulfilment through, even though it is the weakest.

Tammo sees sexuality as being about an exchange of sexual energy, and one which can be miraculous in its effects:

“wonders happen where there is genuine love, expressed in a natural and spontaneous way as a true response”

Anelog/Sebastien The Future Will Be Green, 1996

Which sums up a great deal, and incidentally is pure Richard Gardner to my ears. What follows is a working out of the what and how of elementally magical relationship.

In Tammo’s scheme everyone is one of 24 types, based upon elemental orders and combinations (the above mentioned earth-water-fire-air order would be one of these 24).  The sexual relationship dynamics are strongly based upon polarity, but not the polarity of the biological sex of the people involved. It is a polarity of elements which is effective, not a polarity of genitals. Tammo here introduces two terms which encapsulate this polarity, while getting away from the idea of “men” and “women” (which is simply not relevant in itself). Depending on a person’s elemental ordering, they are either dard or voy. “Voy” we would think of as conventionally feminine in various respects, while “dard” we would think of as conventionally masculine, but we need to understand what we are describing by these terms, because they are not in actuality tied to a person’s biological sex. There are 12 dard types, and 12 voy types (making up the total of 24). What really determines a person’s nature is their last element, through which they gain fulfilment. If their last element is water or earth, they are voy. If their last element is fire or air, they are dard. The reason someone is dard  is not because they necessarily behave habitually in a “masculine” manner (they might or might not), it is because they gain their fulfilment through an element which is “masculine”. Similarly with someone who is voy. They may or may not behave habitually in a “feminine” manner (and there is a lot working against the expression of real femininity in our culture, especially for men), but their means of fulfilment lie in a “feminine” avenue of being. The terms “masculine” and “feminine” are of course misleading at the same time, because of conditioned association with one “sex” or the “other”, which is why using “dard”, “voy” and the elements is useful.

“each type has one of 12 essential natures which are the opposite of what he/she WANTS to be, once he/she becomes conscious of it. Everyone needs their ‘opposite’, the type they feel drawn towards – ‘opposite’ from an inner, psychic point of view – the kind of person they need for their inner growth and fulfilment”*


 “From a psychic point of view therefore, sexual attraction exists between dard and voy types primarily and generally between types opposite to each other, irrespective of gender”



“If people generally could become aware of the full potential of divine, receptive sexual intercourse they would be astounded at the power of love and the magic that would be released”


I think many occultists would not be surprised by the valuation of sex and sexuality here, and most people who have held on to a sense of innocence and romance instinctively understand the gist of this, but in the cynical, airy society we live in, sex has been reduced to reproduction, power plays or a superficial sport or recreation. That isn’t what drives sex though. We only become aware of what drives sex when we are opened by love to the inward. It is only in that state of innocence and defencelessness that two people can truly experience sexual love, and its transformative potential. But to whatever extent we can come closer to understanding ourselves and our own deeper desires, accepting ourselves and others, and welcoming love into our lives, we benefit thereby and live more fully.

Tammo divides the 24 types into three groups with different sexual dynamics: Nomadic, Agricultural and Urban. These don’t necessarily reflect actual social or economic lifestyles in themselves, they are more associative and suggestive. For simplicity I will use the archetype names for the element combinations shown in the diagram below.

circle of the 12 channels of consciousness painted by Tammo de Jongh, from "The Purpose of Love" by Richard Gardner

circle of the 12 channels of consciousness painted by Tammo de Jongh, from “The Purpose of Love” by Richard Gardner

The Nomadic group contains people with earth-fire (Slave) and fire-earth (Warrior) as their essence or nature, and attracts their opposites with air-water (Patriarch) and water-air (Child) as their essence or nature, so they complement each other. This group is described as relating to “animal force” or vitality, which we benefit from by controlling. “We have the image of the herd led by the Patriarch, the stag” (Ibid). This group unconsciously reflects characteristics of nomadic tribal attitudes according to Tammo, and finds monogamy difficult.

The underlying emotional-sexual “themes” of this group are conquest and surrender, and domination and submission. The dynamic is one of aggressor-victim, or master-slave. But these have to be understood in the context of love, sexuality and permission of course.

The Agricultural group relates to the “vegetable force” or kingdom, and a way of life determined by coupling and pairing, rather than living in a group. It contains people with earth-water (Mother) and water-earth (Enchantress) as their essence, and attracts those with air-fire (Magician) and fire-air (Joker) as their essence, who also form part of this group. These elemental “channels” are associated with cultivation, production, crafts, settled communities, growth and change. These elemental combinations tend to lead settled lives and relate monogamously.

The underlying emotional-sexual “themes” of this group are penetration and absorption, and manipulation and sensitivity. These involve a “total compensation” between the “masculine” and the “feminine”, as one partner has entirely “feminine” elements in essence, while the other has entirely “masculine” elements in essence. This is probably the most hetero-normative of the groups by tendency, though that doesn’t mean that its members will necessarily be heterosexual.

The Urban group relates to the “mineral force” or kingdom (characterized by dependence upon minerals and fossil fuels interestingly), and is more individualistic, with its sexuality tending more towards masturbation and stimulation. It contains people with air-earth (Observer) and earth-air (Old Woman) combinations as their essence, and attracts people with water-fire (Actress) and fire-water (Fool) as their essence.

The underlying emotional-sexual “themes” of this group are observation and display, and abandon and restraint. The dynamic here is of the desire for independence, and freedom to break with restrictions.

You can just see people being horrified or embarrassed by all this, because we still live in a society that demonizes sex and sexuality, even as it tries to use it in a distorted fashion to sell products and manipulate people. Difficult as it is to credit, we still believe, somewhere inside us, that sex is both primarily for reproduction, and yet also dirty in itself. We think producing babies in an overpopulated world is sacred, but that love is somehow perverted.

“For many centuries the connection between our psyche, or soul, and our sexual nature – which may include desires paradoxically considered to be ‘unnatural’ – was ignored and the majority of people today would still be frightened of and hostile towards it”


That really has to change.


How Does It work Out?

So we have people with different essential natures, who attract their “opposites” in an elemental sense, most crucially in terms of being dard and voy, and who can be grouped into a number of characteristic types. Remember though, we are not all equally self aware, and it is quite difficult for some types to be freely self aware in our present society. Some elements come to dominate our personality (notably the 3rd place element), but this will not lead us to our essential nature, or our way to fulfilment. My third element for instance is air, and I am superficially very airy, and sometimes that is what people latch onto. I write, I think a lot, I problem solve, I analyse, I think too much, I am too judgemental. And that is neither my essential self, which is far more earthy, nor my way to fulfilment, which is watery. If I identified with my 3rd element, and tried to relate from it, then I would probably be trying to act as a false dard, and it would not work, because I am actually a voy with water last. Similarly, if I sought out someone who say had a really fiery or airy personality (fire or air third), but who deep down needed to develop their earth or water, and where that fire was not part of their essence, it would not work, because they also would be a voy, and we would not fulfil each other.

I would not condemn or criticize anybody’s relationship where there is love, as love is always the teacher, not a theory, by Tammo or anyone else. But I think it is an uncomfortable truth that many miss their opportunity for deep happiness (when they aren’t denied it outright by our phobic and deluded society) through misunderstanding themselves, and the nature of real, deep, attraction. Most people know what it’s like to see someone and know, deep inside, that you have met your corresponding other, where the chemistry locks, and there is just no doubt of that chemistry. Relatively few people, unfortunately, believe in it with enough understanding, to know that “this is it”, when put in competition with credibility, ego, prejudice, cynicism, peer pressure, lifestyle, or past hurts. It’s a strange angel that helps us through this maze, but it does happen.

It seems that the things to watch out for negatively in this regard are:

 – relationships based on 3rd element, on superficial “personality” – because they will tend to be neurotic and unfulfilling

–  relationships between two voys or two dards, because these again do not provide the deep fulfilment that is sought in relationship

Tammo goes so far as to say that “the only valid relationships are in terms of the last elements”, meaning in terms of the kind of soul fulfilment we have been talking about. In terms of dard and voy, I understand where he is coming from. What I’m a little unclear on is how dogmatic he is meaning to be, in terms of which specific of the 24 types can fulfil which other types. I think the poetry of love can be surprisingly adaptable myself, but above all there needs to be chemistry.

To illustrate some of the dynamics, Tammo gives the following examples:

– the “Patriarch” (essentially air-water) who wants to rein in his/her fire third opposite (which also helps his/her opposite actualize their voy last element).

– the “Warrior” (essentially fire-earth) that wants to blow up the icy detachment of his/her air third opposite (and ditto).

– the “Fool” (essentially fire-water) who seeks to shock their air 3rd opposite and bring them to life.

– the “Observer” (essentially air-earth) who has to remain impassive and not react to their fire 3rd opposite, so that their voy nature can emerge.

Note here: if I am reading Tammo correctly, then when you reverse the order of the 3rd and 4th elements, you get an archetypal combination which is really important for the person’s fulfilment, and this seems to be something which is facilitated in these “live” relationships. So when you switch round the personal self (3rd and 4th elements) you get something very magical for the person. It seems as if this is where the weakest 4th element is able to flower into the fulfilment it can really become, while the superficially over-developed 3rd element is able to dissipate and retreat somewhat (along with its associated neurosis), and allow the deeper voy or dard nature to emerge spontaneously. A personality-based self characterized by the Patriarch (air-water) would give way to the Child (water-air) voy expression. A personal self characterized by the Slave would give way to the Warrior (fire-earth) dard expression. A personal self characterized by the Mother (earth-water) would give way to the Enchantress (water-earth) etc.

So you can see here, even really compatible people could have challenges, working with each other sincerely and with honest and deep feeling and regard, to overcome the dominance of personality, and give each other the support to bring out their element of fulfilment (the last element).

With respect to sexual emotions, desires and fantasies, Tammo says:

“If these are objective and true, such feelings must become an aid to discovering a deeper part of ourselves, apart from being helpful to those to whom we are attracted”.


The price of not helping people through a soulful understanding of love and sex is immense, as it underlies so much of our dysfunction. As Tammo says, we all too often punish or leave vulnerable someone seeking out the fulfilment of consciousness through sex (whether it is through destructive laws, scandal, prejudice or other kinds of small mindedness), but we encourage the violent criminal expression of the same elemental forces, and with less of a sense of moral outrage (fire 3rd is a placement which according to Tammo can easily lead to criminal activity and anti-social behaviour, when it needn’t). But the basic elemental drives which we all experience are always open to the fulfilment they are actually seeking in love.

Tammo, like Richard Gardner, saw our problem as largely being due to what he termed fire consciousness, which (amongst other things) has reduced what sexual freedom we do have to a vision of frivolous license, unwanted pregnancy, venereal disease and statistics. What they both wanted was for us to embrace the poetic and romantic world of water consciousness, which would see sex through the eyes of imagination, intuition, deep feeling, symbol, and beauty, as it sees other parts of life also. Tammo felt that there was a brief flowering of Water consciousness in art, from the end of the 19th century until the First World War.

I think fire consciousness has given us a great deal; modern medicine, technology, modern freedoms, insight into all manner of things, but at a price, and one which is ravaging our world. We need the dynamic of water consciousness,  deep feeling, imagination, healing, intuition, romance, innocence. We are beyond both ultimately (represented by both The Fool and The World in the tarot), but we can’t live with just one and not the other. We need to be guided by Love.

“The Age of Pisces …….. was characterized by division, two fishes swimming in opposite directions, ‘a man is this and a woman is that’. With the Age of Aquarius and Natural Psychology, the knowledge of dard and voy, sex will be better understood and therefore with a more honest and conscious approach to it people will consider the consequences of their actions. This is what is meant by conscience. Aquarian spirituality will not be a denial of sexual feelings, but an imaginative and truthful expression of these”.


Amen to that.

“The Kiss” by Francesco Hayez [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

* These 12 natures are shown in the diagram of the wheel of “12 channels of consciousness”. There are 12 of these, consisting of two elements each. The 24 types refer to the ordering of all four elements within a person.

treasure from the hour glass sea

I love paper, and have for as long as I can remember. Firstly it was the promise of the recreation of art, and later the treasure of books.

As a child I would draw on any paper I could get, usually with the biros that were lying around at home, on sheets of scrapped diagrams that my father brought home from the factory for me. Eventually I got my parents to buy me packs of typing paper from the newsagents. Those packs of clean white A5 paper seemed so fat to me. They were wealth indeed, and I would draw and draw and draw. I’m still quite happy to draw and shade using biros, and they give a unique quality, like any medium does.

Books I discovered later, and I loved our local library, and trips to WH Smiths in Ken High Street, which in those days had an entire, long wall filled with books, mainly paperbacks. Paper books are the vinyl of reading, and I think you either get the experience or you don’t, and the different levels of engaging with a medium, which is far from just abstract and mental. But there is a whole other side to books which appears when they come adrift of the immediate intentions of publishers and high street shops, and enter the world of the second hand. That parallel world is an intellectual pirate universe, where the lost and the out of print become the bedrock and the sediment, the reefs where the past lives on, yellowing and with covers that  were once unremarkable or just nice, but reveal themselves to be freakin’ awesome, precious archaeological objects.

The great thing that the internet has done for second hand books is that it has made them available, more comprehensively searchable, and way cheaper if you’re prepared to look. For years now I have depended upon sites like Abe Books to find books I want for just a few pounds. A lot of bookshops in London you can’t get into with a wheelchair, and I’m not going to leave Phil behind while I go trawling through bookshops, and new books are just too expensive for us to usually justify. I’m all for supporting your local book store if you can afford to (and if you’re lucky enough to have one), but we need our online second hand sellers, and I’m very grateful to them.

The fact that paper books are physical objects that can survive and go on their own, unregulated journey is wonderful, and it means that there are whole, tiny ecosystems of literature that keep on going, long after the surface commercial world has forgotten about them. Which brings me onto some memories, which make these dog eared treasures into emotional artefacts from a past which of course is always personal.

There was a small publisher called Rigel Press which was working from the late sixties through to the very beginning of the 1980s, coincidentally based out of Cloncurry Street in Fulham, which I passed every day on my way to and from school. They published a small range of books with largely esoteric subjects, amongst them the books of Richard Gardner. I’ve written about Richard elsewhere, he was an extraordinary man that I feel honoured to have known to the extent that I did. He was passionate, humble, knowledgeable, and devoted to his work of transforming human consciousness into all it could be. He was also kind and down to earth. In all my travels and moves, his books are some of the few that survived everything and that are still with me.

Also from Rigel Press was a booklet by Tammo de Jongh called “The Magic Circle of the Soul”, which was also concerned with the elements and their place in human consciousness (and I know that Richard and Tammo worked together, though he credits Tammo and his colleagues with the discoveries involved). Tammo’s art was featured on the cover of a King Crimson record, and nowadays you can find more on Tammo than you can on Richard on the internet (though it’s still pretty thin pickings), though I think it would be fair to say that if it hadn’t been for Richard, Tammo and his work would not have been able to become what it was, while Richard’s contribution remains largely unacknowledged and unquantified. I really would love to see Richard better remembered, because he was a true original, and as I said, a passionate and humble advocate for the miraculous flowering of human consciousness. But Richard really didn’t put himself in the picture, for to himself he didn’t seem to be important to it, as if he had forgotten himself in the wonder of what he had seen, and the application to a work which it implied. But he was important, and I would not have him be forgotten. He is now a golden memory.

Thanks to second hand books, you can still find him, and people like him. Below is my little collection of Rigel Press output.


a taster of the magic of the elements

We recently had some really wonderful hand readings from our friend Brent, who is also deeply interested in the elements work connected with Tammo de Jongh/Anelog and Richard Gardner. It was fantastic to have such in depth conversations with such a perceptive reader, especially one with whom you share an interest in an inspirational work. You can find Brent’s website here, his 500 Hand Project is really interesting, and I am so looking forward to seeing more of this stuff. I can confirm that this kind of hand work is potentially life changing.

Between this and contact I have had with another of my readers (Steve) who has shown great enthusiasm for Richard Gardner’s work, I wanted to put out just a little something about Tammo’s elements work, which was a key part of what Richard applied himself to.

In about 1971 Tammo published a booklet called “the magic circle of the soul – the 12 aspects of the mind”, with hand drawn illustrations and calligraphic lettering. I remember finding a copy at a bookshop in Victoria in maybe 1975, as a school boy on my lunch break. The whole of this work is based upon the traditional elements of earth, air, water and fire, their combinations and their reflections in art, psychology, love and human types. It is a relatively early expression of the study that Tammo was working on, which he had started with Barry Slater (a mathematician) and Kenneth Carter (a historian) following an awakening journey that Tammo undertook in 1956, and which Tammo (later called Anelog) continued for the rest of his life with Brother Sebastien and Herewood Gabriel at the “Green Monastery” in Kentish Town. In “The Magic Circle” Tammo mentions Freud, Horney, Jung and Gurdjieff as being influences on this study, which at this time he refers to as “cosmology”, though I think in later years it gets referred to as “natural psychology”.

As with Richard Gardner, the impression you get is far from a dry or theoretical study, in fact it is anything but, for it seeks to be a living understanding that a person must participate in to grasp. The elements cannot be a theoretical study, for they make up our experience and colour and shape our consciousness. A theoretical study of the elements would be like a book about water, as compared to finding yourself immersed in the sea. Both Richard and Tammo wrote books (though Tammo also painted and drew and made things like puppets and masks), and both worked to communicate something that could not be experienced in writing alone.

I would like to just talk a little about one idea from the book here, and that is the order of the elements in a person (if you want to see what I have written about the elements before, you can find that here), which affect so much for a person. By “order of the elements”, I mean the preponderance and relative strengths of them within an individual, 1st being the strongest, to 4th being the weakest or least preponderant.

1st element is strongest, and it dominates the essential nature of a person.

2nd element is next strongest, but it is repressed or denied (I found this quite fascinating).

3rd element is not our essential nature, but comes to dominate our personality.

4th element is the least preponderant, but crucially shows how we reach fulfillment or realization. This last is very important for a person’s relationship orientation amongst other things, and at the time The Magic Circle was written Tammo was classing “types” as feminine (for earth and water 4th) and masculine (for air and fire 4th), while emphasizing that this had no necessary relation to the physical sex of the person. Later I believe he came up with original terms to describe the types, without resorting to the terms “masculine” or “feminine” (which I thought was very intelligent and consistent with something not being dependent on maleness or femaleness).

As an example, I am earth 1st, fire 2nd, air 3rd and water 4th. There isn’t an easy way of ascertaining your balance (though in my case it follows my astrological chart fairly well), as you have to examine and observe your life and experience, though Brent Bruning is finding correlations with the hands, and did so with both Phil and myself. So I can say that I have at least some confirmation of what my elemental order seems to be.

I am actually very earthy. It’s not something I think of as myself especially, but it is right there, slap bang in the middle of things. I am essentially sloppy and accepting, sensual and settled. I’m stable and grounded in the way that usually gets you dismissed by “terribly psychic” people and flashy intellectuals alike, as kinda dull. But that’s ok, I can watch paint dry and be happy if it’s warm, there’s food, and no demands made of me, or there’s a handsome man in the room.

My second element of fire is …….. complicated. I’d say it’s my shadow element. It’s not that I don’t appreciate it, there are times when it has been central to my sense of a search for meaning, but biographically it has been a hard one to integrate, even if it was creative and eventful when it did get activated. It is my sense of personal lack though, that big, heroic, shining, adventurous, dominating, “fuck you” energy, that creative spark that the world quite rightly pays to see. I have actualized an amount of it after all this time, but I’ve had to get it by accepting that sometimes hell fire needs to do the job, so hell yes. And it’s funny, because it is my second strongest element, but that is how this stuff works, 2nd place is the last thing you get, but not because it isn’t there in you somewhere.*

3rd place, air, yeah. I am not an essentially verbal person at all, but I learnt, and then I ran with it. Air isn’t all comfortable, it’s a little too easy to get carried away with, too easy for me period, and personality is right. I do appreciate the element, but I also appreciate that it isn’t really me, nor what I most love. But its virtues are real even if its pitfalls are too. I can do air really well, but it’s kinda “so what?”.

4th place element is like your key (and it occurs to me that in some ways it’s a bit like the North Node in astrology). It’s the element you start off the weakest in, but because it holds that key to your fulfillment it is also a big deal for you, and you actually have a great potential to develop it in a way which is really valuable and transformative. This element is likely to be very positive for you. With me it is water, and the world of water (mysticism, love, imagination, enchantment, dream, feeling) was something I valued from early on, yearned for, but felt myself to be excluded from. I longed to be it, but felt I wasn’t really. The blessing in 4th place element’s tail is that its fulfilling potential for you actually does give you a place, and a special place, in that element’s world. There’s a karmic feel to this. The doors are actually unlocked. You just have to walk through them, and when you do, you’ll be amazed. Over the years I’ve actually developed a lot of water, and it even shows up in my hands. And the other thing that is accurate for me about Tammo’s scheme is that I end up as a “feminine” type, and though the language at this stage of Tammo’s writing is binary gender conditioned, I understand what he means, and he’s quite right. You need to take it out of the “biological gender” context (and ultimately away from the psychological “ghost” of biological gender, if you get what I mean), but I believe there is an important perception there.

Tammo’s work also combined elements in pairs, and illustrated them as archetypes, such as people are familiar with from Jungian psychology; eg the wise old man, the mother, the child, the divine fool, the warrior etc. You can see Tammo’s original paintings of the archetypes here, and Herewood Gabriel’s updated versions here. In terms of his elemental psychology he termed 1st and 2nd element as the essential self, 3rd and 4th as the personal self, 1st and 3rd as the usual self, and 2nd and 4th as the shadow self. The archetypes give a flavour of the character of the elemental combinations.

Tammo and his co-workers did refine and move on from the work expressed in “the magic circle of the soul”, but I hope you have found this interesting or helpful.

mo-tammo* Note 29th November 2013: if my own experience is anything to go by, second element is also a highly transformative element for a person, as it carries some of the quality of integrating “the shadow” with it, but it is very different in quality from 4th element, which a person needs and can benefit profoundly from exploring. 2nd element does not need developing, and may resist being developed, but it will need to be made conscious for someone to express their full potential. At least that is my impression.

a morning of the magicians

I am starting to think there are three kinds of people, or rather three types of consciousness, and I’m really liking this idea. Of course you could see more than three, but I’m finding this scheme useful.

It fits quite a bit with Richard Gardner’s ideas about fire and water consciousness, two dynamic elements in the evolution of awareness.

What I am seeing is that there are people who are solar (or going through a solar phase), and people who are lunar. The lunar has a wildness and an expanse of feeling and imagination to it, and it is both more inclined to go with the flow and also get stuck in attachment to the biographical past. In has both vision and personal phobias. One of its shadows is a kind of unenlightened consensual consciousness. Xenophobia is an essentially lunar phenomenon, but so are the wonders of trance, imagination and enchantment. There is something miraculous about lunar consciousness, but it can settle into the ignorance of emotional prejudice if it is never disturbed or awakened properly.

Solar consciousness is brilliant, and has the idea of individuality and freedom, progress and “civilization”. It dries out and warms our awareness, and gives us standards, criteria to judge by, the spark that goes into changing how we do things. But it can develop its own dogma, not the emotional dogma of lunar herd mentality, but the dogma of inculcated righteousness, or a black and white moral universe, a day irreconcilably opposed to a night.

These two, solar and lunar, are associated with fire and water consciousness in Richard’s scheme, and in the world of mass patterns and mass assumptions, they are conventionally associated with men and women respectively.

I was very lunar in my younger days, and I am just starting to really enjoy that quality again. I had to also go through a solar phase. But Sun and Moon are not all there is in the world.

A third consciousness also arises. A consciousness that spans both, travels between both, and yet belongs to itself as well, once you recognize it. This consciousness I will call Mercurial, and it is the alchemical, magickal consciousness. Here is lightness that does not shrink from darkness, morning that rejoices in night, dry crispness that lingers at the lake’s edge, women and men who are woman and man enough to not be man or woman at all. Here is the court beyond the king and queen, and a smile that floats in the delicately scented air of twilight.

Good morning.

Mercurius, Groningen, by ZanderZ (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

red as rust and sweet as honey

Probably due to the conjunction between the Sun and Mars that occurred this week, I have had some reason to think about the red planet, though I actually feel some real curiosity and interest about Mars in any case.

There’s a lot of traditional bad vibes attached to Mars, he’s a bit of a bad guy to a lot of people really, as the litany goes something like: war, violence, aggression, murder, rape, destruction and the kind of wildness that people don’t consider romantic and noble. But is that really the story?

There is a clue in astrology of course, for though he is traditionally the “lesser malefic”, he is in modern astrology associated with energy, vitality, drive and sex, as well as aggression and conflict and accidents. When we say sex of course, we don’t so much mean flirty, toying eroticism and all the refinements of love making. The eroticism of Mars is a fiery, locked on chemistry where you know already that full consummation is gazing right into you, intelligently and deeply.  You might say “no thank you” and so might they, but the horse power is on the tracks, and it shakes and humbles all. Not the chase and the charm, but the timeless end game. Put it down, condemn it as you like, try to control it as you will, the eroticism of Mars is the unfurled plot line of eroticism. Which in part is probably why Mars rules Scorpio as well as Aries.

If Mars is destructive, it is the destruction that life depends upon. If his wildness isn’t all nice or controllable, that’s because that is what real wildness necessarily includes. So have a heart for a god not so simple.

His metal is iron, that rusts red, that colours our blood red also, so that the blood can carry oxygen to our cells to burn fuel, and carry carbon dioxide away to dispose of the waste of respiration.

Iron that conducts lightning, and forms much of the heart of our own planet Earth, and gives us (along with nickel) a magnetic field that protects us from the radiation of space. Iron that is one of the last elements to be formed in stars, which can only be burned into heavier elements by the star exploding as a super nova.

Iron than gives rose quartz its delicate pink colour. Is it a surprise that Mars’ mineral is what gives rose quartz its pretty, misty colour, with its association with the heart? I don’t think so really.

And if Mars has an association with blood and muscle and exertion, there is surely an association somewhere here with menstruation and childbirth?

According to Ovid, Mars himself was born from Juno without being fathered, except by the touch of a special flower which Flora provided for Juno. The tale goes that Juno wished to bring forth a child all of her own, as Jupiter had brought forth Minerva from his head without a mother. Juno’s own child was Mars.

In fact Mars has associations not just with war, but old associations with agriculture. The kind of war he was associated with was a protective fight that should lead to safety and peace, not jubilation in  bloodshed. He is very different to the Greek Aries in this sense. He has associations with the wild as well, and with forests, but again there is a sense of a balance here. Wilderness must have its place, so that cultivation can as well. Mars’ animal was the wolf, which we endow with endangered nobility often nowadays (and I find them extraordinary and beautiful animals), though our fairy tales betray an older prejudice.

Some years ago me and my husband had a therapy business, combining hypnotherapy and Reiki. We had a number of concessionary offers, eg for students, and one of the concessions was for military veterans. I found people’s reactions to that to be puzzling, because some were quite bemused, almost verbalizing “why do you do that?”. Why would you make special offers for soldiers? Like, is that a necessary thing to do? As if no one should be looking after the soldiers themselves, as if that were a strange idea. It reminds me of people who seem to resent firemen their wages. Like, can’t they just get on with it, doing that physical, risky stuff? Didn’t they sign up to be sacrifices? Well, no. They signed up to protect you, and be respected for it, not to be your willing sacrifices. And I do wonder what part the eye on the blood sacrifice has to play in our attitudes and subconscious relationships to martial issues?

And as blood flows through the vampire myth with an almost mystical allure, morphing between sex, seduction, violence, bestial transformation, immortality, life, soul, magical power, the body and it’s transcendence, I would say that Mars has his place there as well.

Richard Gardner used to say that blood sacrifice was one of the fundamental characteristics of human civilizations. I don’t know how accurate that is anthropologically, but he made a poetically persuasive argument. Basically that we are here to transform energy, and the bargain basement way of doing it is bloodshed. That’s part of our relationship with the Earth, and with being here. It doesn’t need to be blood, but in the absence of a finer consciousness, blood becomes the default. Richard thought we could do away with this subconscious need for bloodshed through the cultivation of good will. Gurdjieff also used to characterize human civilizations as going through cyclical processes of periodically destroying everything that they had built and developed, a process which his Beelzebub bewails as a tragedy. Richard was of the opinion that we couldn’t transform consciousness (and so energy) effectively without the free and enlightened exploration of Mars’ other domain of sex, so enlightened sex also becomes a remedy for social violence, as well as much else in his view. Love transforms energy basically, so that violence does not need to do it as a default. On this he was in broad agreement with Wilhelm Reich I think.

The transformation of energy must inevitably fall partially under Mars’ domain astrologically, because he is our personal, passionate and fully embodied experience of energy. So it makes sense that Mars is associated with sex, drive, energy, violence (and you should probably add sacrifice), and of course, transformation of energy. He should also be associated with a profound kind of healing.

Mars is a great and mighty need. The Wolf cannot be condemned or denied by a few inches of conscious awareness, and a mountain of righteousness. Blood and sex will have their way, because what both he and they spell out is the transformation of consciousness.

It is not Mars’ fault if we choose our own default of denial. But it is an ever present opportunity, that we could have such wonders and bliss in a world where our relationship to energy was affirmative, enlightened and free.

 detail from "Mars and Neptune" by Paolo Veronese, retouched electronically. Original image in public doamin via wikimedia commons

detail from “Mars and Neptune” by Paolo Veronese, retouched electronically. Original image in public domain via Wikimedia Commons

beach combing for natural alchemy

I continue with my personal work of reclaiming lost voices that are meaningful to me, both for the joy it gives me, and also in the hope that these odd ball voices from an earlier era will not be lost.

It’s not always easy to explain to people nowadays what kind of a Witch and Pagan I am, like I can’t always give people the kind of definition they are looking for (plus it’s not the point), as our world has become so intellectually oriented, and full of classifications that need boxes, reference lists and qualifications. This isn’t all bad, but it didn’t used to be so; we were a broad and largely self qualified “church” of seekers once, and what we lacked in exactitude and hard headedness, we made up for in openness to inspiration and wonder. As intellect has shone brighter, the shades of the prison house have closed over imagination inevitably, and I would like to see that turn back, albeit with some wisdom and common sense gained.

As I indicated in my last post, I have found great value in the work of two mid 20th century authors in particular recently: Richard Gardner and Tammo de Jongh. The major thrust of their work related to understanding the elements of earth, water, fire and air, in a very direct and experiential fashion. For them this was a transmutational work, based in Nature, which could transform both individual lives and the world we live in.

Richard and Tammo taught that the elements could be seen as the source of different types of consciousness, ways of seeing and living. None of their books were “successful” pieces of writing in the conventional sense, they didn’t want them to be, because that would simply satisfy the “airy” part of our natures. Rather like Gurdjieff’s adage that to make knowledge your own you had to approach it simultaneously with intellect, feeling and instinct, Richard wanted his books to help goad and engage people into using more of themselves to apprehend the teaching he had pieced together and tried to distill into its  most basic and simple forms, so that people could live more fully. Both Richard and Tammo’s writings could be (or appear to be) enthralling, enchanting, embarrassing, inspiring, driven, endearing, brave, original, insightful or just plain nuts. I think their insight and vision couldn’t come out any other way, and the insights were very real.

One of the main contributions that I feel Tammo bequeathed us was a system which he called “Natural Psychology”*, in which the elements were understood in pairs (with one or the other preponderant, so there were thus two ways of combining each pair of elements). This gave twelve possible combinations: air and water, water and air, earth and fire, fire and earth, water and earth, earth and water etc. Each combination had associated natural phenomena such as mist and dew, volcanoes, lakes and seas, geysers and lightning, ice, hot air, sunlight, fertile soil etc, as well as colours, psychological qualities, and one of 12 archetypal figures such as “The Enchantress”, “The Joker”, “The Child”, “The Warrior” and so on. Richard further developed scripts for each archetype which a group could use to try and “tune in” to each, and so experience its energy. I took part in a 6 week workshop which Richard Gardner and Magenta Wise held in the mid eighties, using these scripts, and they work in ways which are surprising and have a “life of their own”.

The forms and names of these archetypes are not set in stone, but the essences of them, based in natural energies, are a creative and powerful way of experiencing the elements and their effects upon consciousness. Many Pagans work with the elements, but working with these nuanced pairs of elements seems more accessible to many people, and the archetypes give them anthropomorphic references to relate to. So we learn about the nature of the element of water for instance from experiencing water with fire, water with air, and water with earth, in a way which again is more  nuanced, and with more of ourselves involved in the process.

Richard was very concerned with the place of fire and water in our lives, the two elements which he considered to be dynamic, while earth and air he considered to be more moved by either of the dynamic elements. While fire was responsible for our drive, our “push”, our capacity for action and skill and individuality as usually understood, Richard considered water consciousness to be nothing short of miraculous, and something that we were desperately in need of. Water consciousness was the world of magic and poetry, romance, feeling and soul. He linked it (not so surprisingly) to the Moon, while fire consciousness was linked to the Sun (though he said there were two sorts of fire energy: the yellow connected with the Sun, and the red connected to the fire within the Earth). But Richard wanted people to be better able to utilize all the elements, and so truly become magicians. His ideal was characterized by the union of fire and water though, leading to “superconsciousness”, which he believed was especially realized through the magical lovemaking of compatible individuals. He associated this with The Fool card of the tarot, which he also considered to be a representation of androgenous divinity.

Richard would also come out with things which were just very simple and profound, like his statement that the biggest block to our evolution of consciousness is our tendency to judge, or that good will was one of the greatest accelerators of this process, one capable of completely transforming our unconscious need to shed blood, into peaceful and blissful ways of transforming energy. When he  said that, I understood he was saying something real. I think in a sense he was also a very eccentric kind of esoteric Christian, though I doubt that any Church would welcome his open minded valuation of sex, psychedelics and unconventionality, and I don’t think he felt the need of any label.

Tammo saw the elements and their relationships as underlying our way of life, form of society, politics, relationship with the natural world, art, culture, sexuality, relationship and spirituality. He was an artist and an early “Green”, an idiosyncratic visionary, and someone who devoted decades to seeing stuff in terms of the elements and Nature, and trying to do something with it. He even set up a tiny “Green Monastery” in Kentish Town for the last part of his life, with two other monks, devoted to their work promoting an enchanted ecology, “natural femininity”, water consciousness, and a comprehensively different way of life which they aimed for.

These men’s visions were not exactly my own in their details, we all have to find our own vision, but they found so much of such use and potency, and they did have such vision, and devoted so much work to it. I do indeed see through their vision, and it is like glimpsing a vast landscape, one that is still there, realer and brighter and more alive than “ordinary reality”, even after you have blinked and opened your eyes again. Even after you have got the bus to work.

Their work still returns to me, and still has the capacity to change my life. Water consciousness, a miraculous life, a life I can live freely in. It’s real. 

That their work could have such healing, freeing and transforming potential is I think because they experienced a real liberation at some point, and didn’t sell it back into a merely credible teaching for the society receiving it. In a world so hung up on the perfect menu, they chose to throw real food.

Almost 40 years later, the water way can still get you wet.

photo of the title page of “The Magic Circle” by Tammo de Jongh, published 1974

* Natural Psychology was developed since 1956, with a number of other individuals including Kenneth Carter and Dr Barry Slater during the 60s and 70s