Here is the next section of Prospero’s Book:
In this context let it be noted the Circus figures are all magical in origin; and of course the Fool is of Prime importance. In fact, as we will further discover, the circus is the Universe in miniature. Its moving spirit the Ringmaster; its clown and Fairy Goddesses; the tumbling of acrobats and trapezes weaving a lattice in the big top; the fluxions of order and disorder; the passions of the horses corralled and controlled by the riding ladies; the recognisable, even today, affinities with the Cretan dances and bull dances in the honour of the Great Goddess. It’s all there in the circus tradition, a microcosm of the magic universe.
This photo of George Winter, taken during his later years, conveys something of his great charm and wicked sense of fun.
The typescripts of The New Pagans’ Handbook have a dedication page that reads
‘Dad’ was Chalky’s private nickname for George. At the time Chalky first began to plan and draft the Handbook, in autumn 1982, George was still alive. He died in March 1983.
George, like Chalky, was a member of the Royal Windsor Cuveen which was founded by Robert Cochrane (Roy Bowers). Chalky and George planned the Regency together, and though Chalky wrote the rituals, he consulted closely with George at every stage.
‘Winter’ was not George’s real surname, but it was the name he preferred to be known by in the Regency. I have been told that in his youth in Norfolk he was befriended by an old gypsy or traveller woman called Mrs Winter. She taught him traditional witchcraft lore, and he took the name ‘Winter’ in her memory.
Why did Chalky call George ‘Dad’? I don’t know. But ‘Dad’ was also George’s nickname for Chalky. The pair of them enjoyed bewildering bartenders with exchanges like this:
“Would you like a pint, Dad?”
“Don’t mind if I do, Dad,” and so on.
Photograph of George Winter © John of Monmouth
Continuing Prospero’s Book, Ron White’s essay on magic:
To a certain extent I must refer to Physics, which astonishingly is rediscovering the basis of magic on its own terms. Our present generation has gotten used to the improbabilities of present scientific speculation. One such is the “Uncertainty Principle”. We magicians call this the Fool Factor and it is represented in all magic, and has to be reckoned with. Generals who fight wars are well aware of it. “The Fog of War” they call it.
Mitchell’s Fold and Tintern Abbey
Stones stand, still in the sunlight,
Circles or cloisters; each holding
Hundreds of wishes
And plenitude of prayers.
The choked up orisons
The chants imprinted here
On ruined chancels of Millenia bygone.
Do they despair to heaven? Their hands up —
Surrendering through stone
The fierce beliefs, mad rituals,
The blood and the bone, and the body.
No one knows. A plainchant
On the one hand, and on the other?
At the Stiperstones.
At the end there is always the same end.
A God nailed to the altar
Of our wishes,
And the women weeping at his death.
© The Estate of Ronald M. White
More from Prospero’s Book:
Our waking time is mostly experienced as a linear progression of events with effects following causes. There are sufficient instances of this being only a simplification of experience for us to handle it with care.
Effects sometimes come first causes afterwards. Once more, “Verdict first: evidence after.”
Here is the second instalment of Prospero’s Book:
Knowing the whole is knowing Magic. All else is just knowing about.
It is a fair guess that like a large number of things in the Universe knowing the whole may be never quite possible. Nearly but not precisely there. Nearly Absolute zero but never exactly that. Like recurring decimals, double spirals and so on.
To understand this at the outset is to realise that this oddity is essential to the manifestation of the Magical Universe. We can never solve it completely, not even in the Magical Keys, which we will study later, where the Fool jumps from one place to another, is in two places at once and carries opposite qualities immediately.
Prospero’s Book is a long essay on magic which Chalky began to write in 1989. It was never sent out to a publisher and exists only in longhand. We shall be posting it in instalments, as it is typed up.
I first began to make notes for this book in 1966. Since then many magical ideas, under one guise or another, have become acceptable to a developing consciousness of the the environment, to a developing physics, and a developing appreciation of the role of consciousness itself.
It has taken a long time to try, and one can only try, to sort and order the material; for the matter of magic is the universe itself.
This ceramic head of the Goddess, made by Ronald White, was used at the Regency’s Candlemas ceremonies.
Many thanks to John of Monmouth for sending us the photo.
The Structure of Longing
Where is the structure of my longing made?
Is it about the empty centre,
Which all too physically is hung
Strung on lattice and rib?
No, for longing lives everywhere.
It is part, in part, and whole of that strange emblem
(Striving of soul) we seek beyond ourselves.
Space is a comfort, friend
In the dark asking for more
Of emptiness – signal me space,
Show the dark lanes and deeps
That mark the endless echo,
Leaving time trapped
Ever in love’s free fall.
© The Estate of Ronald M. White
Here with the final section of The New Pagans’ Handbook is a photo of Ronald White in the Shropshire hills, taken at around the time he began to write it.
The note on recommended reading completes the text of the Handbook, which is now all online. I hope shortly to make some minor corrections and combine the sections into a pdf file, for ease of use.
There is more material from Ron to come, including the text of his unfinished work on magical theory, which he called Prospero’s Book.
Notes for Suggested Reading
There are so many books relating either entirely or in part to the Myth, the festivals and the developing philosophy of the New Paganism, that any selection of the myriad articles and volumes that I have read over the last forty years or so, will be perforce far from a full offering. Also many ideas that later came to fruition had their beginnings in hints, intuitions and odd paragraphs in unrelated works; and like a jigsaw the pieces only fell together later or were fortified by subsequent research. The essence of the search is curiosity, so I only offer a few suggestions, knowing that to any dedicated student the materials will fall, magically as it were, to hand. I have therefore confined myself as far as possible to works that are still in print. There are many omissions, but the inclusions may illumine and deepen the significance of my matter, as they have done for myself.