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”*

Ibid

 “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”

Ibid

Further:

“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”

Ibid

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”

Ibid

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”.

Ibid

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”.

Ibid

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.

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.

wheeling worlds and pirate havens

Continuing some reflections from Tammo de Jongh‘s work (and I have to acknowledge the great conversations with Jemmy here), I keep returning to the realization that there are many different worlds which we experience and can tune into through the elements of Earth, Air, Fire and Water.

The trigger here for me is something which breaks through the sense that consciousness is something stuck in your head, because when we actually experience a different state, we see and connect with a whole world through it. That would be the crux of it, beyond intellectualizing consciousness in the way which is so typical of our culture, and seeing that there are worlds out there. Of course we are trained to think that there is just one real world out there, but it’s actually a real multi-world beyond our preconceptions. We can’t get away from the subjectivity and interrelationship, even when we are striving to be externally objective. When we think there is just one real world it’s because one channel of consciousness has become dominant in the world we live in. 

The corollary of such a domination is that there is just one kind of consciousness, and one kind of person (or limited range of people) that gets accorded validity. The rest must try and find a niche somewhere, or learn conformity and suppression of their deeper perceptions and sensibilities. A lot of people learn to view themselves as some kind of failure, become alienated from themselves, and loose the faith they once had in life, if only in glimpses.

But that “failure” is actually a clue to our greater wholeness. That some people actually cannot fit, however hard they try, finally at the end of day, is a blessing. That’s why we love heretics and outsiders, and the creativity they bring to bear on the job we all face of living with both ourselves and the world. Though being such an outlander is not the point of multifaceted reality (quite the opposite in fact), such an arising of individuality is pretty awesome when it is in its own rhythm and flow. The “fuck it” principle is pretty unavoidable here I think, in getting past the dogma of a one-channel world. You know – you can’t do that, can’t be that, because you’ll lose, be alone, poor, excommunicated, ugly, laughable, dangerous, suspect, unwanted, unemployable, have your kids taken away, be unhealthy, non-credible, fat, stupid, mad, not like us, and die.

Fuck it.

When you realize that the world is not just one way, though it gets presented that way in the interests of conformity and consensus, then your position and your assumptions about yourself and everybody’s place become open to a great exercising of imagination, and alternative intention. Life becomes palpably magical in its inherent potential, because it actually already is.

Of course this is only heresy to the one-track world, because these “heresies” are the greater whole, while the one-and-only reality is an artificially maintained island. So I wouldn’t play the heretic tag too much. Just think of it as a beautiful kind of piracy. Think of it as a recreation of culture.

It should actually be play, the great game, the great adventure. But sometimes you have to say “fuck it” first.

Charles Laughton & John Carradine in Captain Kidd. Film screenshot (Benedict Bogeaus Productions) [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

letting go into simplicity

We recently moved and are really happy with where we are, for the first time in a long time. Everything has fallen into place, and whatever the learning curve was, the wave has broken and we are home in our blessed lagoon, with the help of our gods.

I’d also describe it as like a village for us, though we are very near the Isle of Dogs. There is so much good earth energy here, and our plants are loving it, and so are we! What a relief.

It feels as if an entire phase of our life is over and a new one beginning. I think I could describe this arrival and homecoming as something of a holotropic experience, and as with other such experiences I’ve had, there is a sense of drawing the essence of different parts of my life together from distant times, and flowing together and re-enlivening with a great freshness and innocence throughout it all.

One of the first things I did here was reread two books that I last read about 40 years ago as a teenager: The Weirdstone of Brisingamen and The Moon of Gomrath by Alan Garner. These were books which flooded my consciousness when I first read them, with the purest sense of an “Old Magic”, and of a sense of Paganism more poetic, actual, and subtle than that which I subsequently lost in the beaten path of a subculture.

The flood continued to inundate and irrigate, and I found old voices and pictures coming back and shining, of Richard Gardner (a largely forgotten one off esotericist) and his muse the artist and proto-Green Tammo de Jongh. Innocence had already dissolved the conditions of false struggle, and a magical world of life and love is where we are.

As we went round our new home town it felt like a world from an earlier time, a seaside town where the magic did indeed live, in an entirely understated, English way. This is the only place to live, the perennial time of the eternal present.

In pure locality and the timelessness of home, the magic has always lived. And as Richard used to say, you could realize it all by just understanding the weather, if you could just see it directly. See it like a child.

And that’s who I am, and what life really is.

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