Philip Oyler (the mage Trelawney)

Philip Oyler (1880 - 1973) Writer, poet, farmer, religious thinker and the acknowledged original (with Aleister Crowley) of the character Dr. Trelawney in Anthony Powell's 12 volume The Music of Time. A work from 1960. Later in life he seems to have become a fairly conventional Christian with anti-urban pastoral yearnings.

Leaves from the Tree of Life or Fruits of Experience. A few quotations:

In the way of God it is not necessary to read or write. What is of paramount importance is that we should at all times listen most attentively to the promptings of conscience, the small sweet Voice that tells us quite clearly when we ignore it. Study  of the scriptures or any eloquent sermon will avail nought unless we listen to that Voice.

Giving a toy to a baby is the way to make a baby look outside himself for happiness. Babies show their contempt for it by throwing it away, but fond parents pick it up again! Only the poor know how to give for they know what it means to lack. If we cannot be content with a little, we will not be content with a lot either. It is not the quantity but the outlook which is the deciding factor. Anti-city, pro-country sentiments -'man creep about in his cities, ignoring his destiny and his duty, blinded by the worship of self to such an extent that he does not know why he has been born.His brain is swollen; his heart shrivelled up...God help us! Bookride notes '...Oyler went on to live a long life as an educationalist, Utopian, 'New Lifer', country writer and 'Prophet of the Soil.' ... Tim D'Arch Smith, in the revised edition of his excellent work 'The Books of the Beast' has a chapter on Dr. Trelawney ('thaumaturge and seer') where he draws parallels with Aleister Crowley and Powell's fictional creation. At that point Powell, much amused, wrote to Tim D'Arch Smith and said that Crowley was indeed an inspiration but he also used a certain Dr. Oyler. He notes in his journal for 4/8/88 that Oyler was - '.an earlier avatar.who used to lead his mob of children in Grecian costume in runs across Grayshott Common., Philip Oyler he is reasonably well known especially as a country writer - his 1950 book on farm life in the Dordogne 'The Generous Earth' is regarded as a minor classic and came out in Penguin in 1961.,.Oyler nexts turns up in the 1940s near Sarlat in the Dordogne where he buys a farm and discovers a vanished pastoral world and becomes something of an advocate for the soil, for an acre of land for every countryman and other Utopian ideas....
In 1911 he had produced a little book of poems, 'Scarlyn' which reveals him as then more involved with Theosophy, Pantheism etc.,., 'Scarlyn' appears to be a sort of beautiful seer wandering with his love 'deep set in thought,/ the elfin autumn woods...' The book is illustrated with drawings of trees and windswept landscape by R. Wheatcroft and dedicated to 'My Mother-- who does not know me.' A sample of the verse - possibly the kind of thing he would have addressed to his followers on the downs:

'Walk circumspectly. Day is wrapped about With night, and all we know is still no more Than all we say is all of that we feel. The past is Now, Now is eternity. Our soul-life is in it, and when we live it We are in it too. What the past aspired To be, we are...'

2 thoughts on “Philip Oyler (the mage Trelawney)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *