The Aetherius Society

Francois Strachan, editor of the Aquarian Guide (1970) ,  in her summary of the Aetherius Society is pretty accurate:

‘Metaphysics, Flying Saucers, Spiritual Healing, the Coming of the Next Master, the Space Message, Yoga, Magic, Karma and Reincarnation…these are some of the occult subjects dealt with by The Aetherius Society, whose President, George King, is himself a renowned Western Yoga Master…’

Well, perhaps not totally accurate. Metaphysics, Yoga and Karma are not strictly ‘ occult subjects ‘. However, it’s true that this mish-mash of discrete topics were, and perhaps still are, part of what Aetherius is all about , and judging from its presence online the society is thriving. 

And Strachan is also right in regarding the ‘ Reverend ‘ George King, or ‘Dr’ George King, DD, Th. D or sometimes George King D. Sc, D. Litt, or even George King, D Sc., Th. D  as the presiding genius of the Society.

It all came about like this. One sunny day in May 1954 George King, a London cabbie, was washing dishes in the kitchen of his flat in Maida Vale when he suddenly became aware of a strange Voice. It didn’t come from within him, he later declared,  but was an exterior presence, and it said to him in English:

    ‘ Prepare Yourself. You are to Become the Voice of Interplanetary Parliament.’

King later called this ‘The Command’ and although he hadn’t a clue what this Interplanetary Parliament was, and despite knowing nothing about Flying Saucers or beings from Outer Space, he paid serious heed to this Command. Soon afterwards a being from Venus which he dubbed Aetherius, visited him and explained what King was expected to do. He was to act as a conduit for messages from the Gods of Space. In the following year King set up The Aetherius Society to promote the wisdom of highly evolved intelligences from other planets ‘. 

King’s background may have had some influence on his conduct. Born in Wellington, Shropshire in 1919, even as a boy King was interested in spiritual matters. At some point he became a Quaker and during the Second World War declared himself a Conscientious Objector, replacing military service with service as a Fire Officer during the Blitz. At about this time he became interested in yoga and practiced it for 8 – 10 hours a day—not for its health benefits, but for its spiritual qualities. During the ‘fifties, according to the Aetherius promotional material, ‘he honed his psychic abilities and entered some of the highest states of consciousness it is possible to achieve on earth’ as a Western Yoga Master.

The HQ of the Aetherius Society since 1958 has been at 757, Fulham Road, not too far from Parsons Green Underground station The premises were modest at first, but as the funds rolled in during the hippy era of the mid sixties, the floor space expanded and before long Mr King and his cronies had added a George King Chapel from which the Blessed Leader received messages from Outer Space. In the seventies the Reverend Doctor, at some point christened ‘ The Metropolitan Archbishop ‘, moved to California, where he died in 1997 aged 78. He left behind him a loyal following in many countries and several books (some hardly more than pamphlets) many of which can still be bought online. Titles include Jesus Comes Again, This is the Hour of Truth, Become a Builder of the New Age, Visit to the Logos of Earth: a True Contact with the Lords of the Flame, You are Responsible and Contacts with the Gods of Space. The blurb of the latter extols the virtues of ‘this fascinating book (which) explains the seemingly unexplainable, introducing an array of mind-blowing spiritual revelations on subjects including life beyond Earth, UFO’s, mediumship, Karma, reincarnation, Atlantis, Lemuria, Maldek, Cosmic Missions, Ascended Masters, life after death, spiritual energy, holy mountains, spiritual ecology, prophecy, and even the future of life on Earth !’ Also available are issues of King’s magazine, Cosmic Voice, dating back sixty years.

Continue reading

John Buchan and AI

As a lover of the works of John Buchan and one not unconcerned about the precarious future of this planet I consulted ChatGPT using a famous and prescient quote by Buchan from his thriller The Power House (1916).

I asked them this: “John Buchan wrote in 1916 “ think that a wall as solid as the Earth separates civilisation from barbarism. I tell you, the division is a thread,a sheet of glass. a touch here, a push there, and you bring back the reignof Saturn.” Is this still true in 2023?” 

25 seconds later they replied: “The quote by John Buchan is certainly still relevant in 2023, as the line between civilization and barbarism remains thin and fragile. Though the world has made great strides in terms of technological advancements, social progress, and global connectivity, there are still forces that work to destabilize these achievements and push society back towards chaos and conflict. Whether it’s geopolitical tensions, economic inequality, racial divides, or environmental degradation, the challenges facing humanity require us to remain vigilant and work together to maintain and strengthen the bonds of common humanity that hold us together. In short, the quote from John Buchan remains a timeless reminder of the need for vigilance, empathy, and unity in the face of adversity.”

A good answer. He/she / it is definitely more Bernie Sanders than Logan Roy. I went on to ask it for a parody of John Buchan. In a past Jot we have a very good Buchan parody by a young girl at boarding school in the 1930s. It is many miles better than Chat’s brave effort. As the old unreconstructed Dr Samuel Johnson said (in about 1760) of women preachers: “Sir…(it)is like a dog’s walking on his hind legs. It is not done well; but you are surprised to find it done at all.” Tune in again soon to see both parodies..

Zen and the art of Wordle

Are there ways of solving Wordle in 2 or 3 goes? One go is pure chance, although undoubtedly a glorious feeling, to get it in two is very lucky– possibly  with a touch of inspiration and nouse, three is quite do-able but feels great when achieved.  So aiming at three tier wins and hoping for  better this is a method, the Tao or Zen of Wordle…Partially inspired by re-reading Martin Amis’s now rare and very dated Invasion of the Space Invaders and  his advice for winning  the game Scramble where, inevitably, a swarm of deadly red snowballs come hailing at you from the east. Firing at them is apparently useless–Martin’s advice in order to survive is to go into “a sort of low level Zen trance.” It’s the same with Wordle (the NY Times version). Those smarty New Yorkers know all about the standard openers— so say goodbye to Adios and Adieu, ignore opening words like Least and the 15th century Helmet known as a Salet and just type in the first 5 letter word that pops into your mind the exact moment the NYT Wordle page opens— probably best to avoid words with 2 of the same letter like truss, tests etc.,


Getting into slightly occult, not to say Wu-Wu or pseudo science territory it may be better to do Wordle towards the end of its 24 hours. Our own great organic farmer Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, evidently a Wordle player,  tweeted about “the controversial (but appealing) theory of morphic resonance, which predicts that puzzles should get easier to do once a critical mass of human minds have solved them…’ This theory was advanced a while back about crosswords – it was suggested  that they were easier to solve the next day when everybody had done them and even the answers were printed. I have a feeling some tests were done..

You need all the help you can get with Wordle and if tapping into Jung’s Collective Unconscious (or the Unified Field) helps, let it be. The other day the opening word that came to mind was  ‘risen’ giving me 3 right letters all in the wrong place so I went to Crisp, which gave 3 letters (ris) in the right order and I triumphed at 3 on Brisk (Frisk is a bit British and NY is a brisk sort of place). If no inspiration comes I use the word Nymph or Lymph, for no good reason— and that’s a good reason.



Trader and Sheila Faulkner in 1950s Chelsea


Jot 101 Faulkner front cover 001

We don’t know whether the Australian actor and flamenco dancer Trader Faulkner ( 1927 – 2020) acquired a copy of The Good Time Guide to London not long after he arrived in London from his home in 1950, probably accompanied by his mother Sheila, a former ballerina. But we do know that the couple moved into a houseboat named ‘” Stella Maris “moored off 160, Cheyne Walk, Chelsea, sometime in the early fifties. The Guide, which was specifically aimed at foreigners new to the metropolis, had a section on Chelsea.


‘…this is Chelsea, undisputed artists’ quarter of London. You can wear what you please, and nobody will give a damn. Though the painters and the designers, the ballet dancers and the actors ( my italics) may be outnumbered by the sober citizens, it is their spirit which dominates. Without it, Chelsea would lose the greatest part of its attraction…Cheyne Walk and Cheyne Row is where many an ambitious London dreams of buying a house some day…’


The same Guide also featured a section on ‘Ballet ‘, most of the contents of which would have been familiar to the Scottish-born Sheila, who under her given name of Sheila Whytock, had danced with Pavlova  and had been in the audience when Diaghilev’s Ballet Russe had performed at Covent Garden in 1911. Three years later she and her English husband John Faulkner , a silent film star ( and inventor of a fridge and an elastic sided shoe ) , nearly two decades her senior, emigrated to Australia where in 1927, aged 56, he  fathered Ronald, whom he nicknamed ‘ Trader ‘ after seeing him exchange some of his illicitly distilled whisky for marbles. Continue reading

The Man who tapped the Secrets of the Universe

Jot 101 Faulkner front cover 002We’re not talking here about such major scientists as Albert Einstein, Niels Bohr, Heisenberg, Paul Dirac or even Steven Hawking. The man in question is the self-taught American Walter Russell (1871 – 1963 ), who in addition to being a successful  painter and sculptor was also, according to a pamphlet by the religious writer Glenn Clark,  a ‘ super genius ‘ who knew the ‘hidden secrets of the Universe’.

A copy of this pamphlet, which once belonged to the ballerina Sheila Faulkner, was found at Jot HQ. In it  Mr Clark, a former teacher of English at an obscure liberal arts college, was one of many published by ‘ The Malecaster Park Publishing Company ‘ of St Paul, Minnesota. Others Clark titles published by Malecaster Park  include What Would Jesus Do?, I Would Lift Up mine Eyes, The Thought Farthest Out and The Secret to Power in Business.

This particular pamphlet, which sold for 50 cents in the U.S. and bears the UK price tag of 3/9d, seems to have been a particularly big seller. First published in 1946 in an edition of 25,000, it had sold solidly for nine years and by 1955 had reached its sixth printing. This is not entirely surprising. After all, who wouldn’t want to discover the Secrets of the Universe on the way to achieving those very American goals of ‘ Health, Wealth and Happiness’.

However, the main reason why so many people bought the book was that they wanted to know more about the multifarious career of Russell, who began as a $8 a month hotel bell boy, found fame as a popular painter and sculptor who owned  a hotel-sized mansion, became inter aliaa sort of business guru who lectured on the secrets of success to IBM employees and gained a reputation as an all-round visionary thinker. In addition, he promoted some scientific theories that on examination have elements in common with those of the quantum physicists, such as Dirac and Bohr, who had challenged the Relativity of Einstein in the 1920s.     Continue reading

Oddities of London

Jot 101 Oddities of London Golden Boy picAbstracted from The Good Time Guide to London(1951)


The statue of George IV in Trafalgar Square shows the king, without boots or spurs, riding a horse without saddle or stirrups.


True. Incidentally,  Sir Francis Chantrey’s bronze of 1829 was originally made for Marble Arch.


On the floor of the entrance hall of the National Gallery is a mosaic of Great Garbo.


True .The Bloomsbury set mosaic artist Boris Anrep was commissioned to provide a number of art works for the Gallery based on specific themes and featuring a number of contemporary figures. On the half-way landing the actress Great Garbo appears as Melpomeme in ‘ The Awakening of the Muses ‘. 


On October 23rd, 1843, a few days before the statue of Nelson was erected, 14 persons ate a rump steak dinner on the top of Nelson’s column


True .Doubtless Punch ( founded 1841) would have had something witty to say about this matter. Continue reading

The Jesuit and the poet

ledwidge devas verse pic 001Inscribed on the inner board and flyleaf of a copy of the posthumously published collection Songs of Peace(1917) by the Irish poet and soldier Francis Ledwidge is this note and commemorative verse composed by Father Francis Charles Devas, the Jesuit chaplain of his battalion who had befriended him.


Corporal Ledwidge was just thirty years old when, ‘ on the morning of the feast of St Ignatius of Loyola’ ( in the words of Devas ) he was ‘ blown to bits ‘ by a German shell while sitting on a mud bank in a Belgian trench drinking a mug of tea with his mates in the 1stBattalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. Just a few hours before, Devas had conducted Mass in a wood not far from the battlefield. Ledwidge was there and Devas had heard his confession, given him absolution and performed Holy Communion with him.


Back in London, Ledwidge’s publisher, Herbert Jenkins, who had brought out his debut collection, Songs of the Fieldstwo years earlier, were preparing Songs of Peacefor the press. It eventually appeared a few weeks following the poet’s death, with a Introduction by his great supporter in Ireland, Lord Dunsany, dated September 1916, in which he praised the simplicity of  his protege’s verse, his yearning for Ireland and his courage in fighting for the cause of peace.


‘…this devotion to the fields of Meath that, in nearly all his songs, from such far places brings his spirit home, like the instinct that has been given o the swallows, seems to be the key-note of the book…’ Continue reading

Drug-induced mysticism

In a pile of magazines here in our archive at Jot HQ we found a copy dated Summer 1964 of the Tomorrow magazine cover 001magazine Tomorrow, which was devoted to ‘parapsychology, cosmology and traditional studies’. In it a review of Aldous Huxley’s Doors of Perception, which had originally appeared in Asia ten years before, reopens the dispute as to whether an artificially induced state of transcendence is equivalent in quality to a similar state achieved through a religious experience.


The author, Whittall N. Perry, an authority on Eastern mysticism, argued that Huxley’s claim that the consumption of mescaline had enabled him to  change his ordinary mode of consciousness and so know ‘ what the visionary, the medium, even the mystic were talking about ‘was  an example of the sort of ‘specious logic’ that has persisted among Westerners over the years. Huxley claimed to have attained some sort of Platonic state, whereas Perry argues that he had broken  with Platonic teaching on the issue of Being and Becoming by elevating the senses over reason and intelligence through the operation of a drug.


The error comes from confusing the Archetypal and principle realm of Platonic Ideas with the ‘mathematical abstractions’ of modern philosophy, and is what Rene Guenoncalls “ a complete inversion of the relationship between Principal and manifestation” Continue reading

A  Nazi sympathizer on The Black Arts

Major-General J.F.C. Fuller (1878  – 1966) was a celebrated military tactician and theorist, an JFC_Fullerinternational expert on the use of tanks in warfare who was a strong influence on the German tactician Guderian, but also a Nazi sympathizer who met Hitler, and the only top-ranking officer in the British Army who in 1939 was not invited to join the fight against the Fuhrer. Nicknamed ‘ Boney ‘ by his peers presumably for his combative mien and brilliance as a strategist, and indeed height ( he was only 5’ 4”) Fuller was disliked by many for his high-handedness and argumentative nature. But some of this unpopularity may also have had its origin in his devotion to the occult, on which he wrote articles and books, including a study of Aleister  Crowley. Indeed we at Jot 101 first came across his name in the April 1926 issue of The Occult Review, where he contributed a long article entitled ‘ The Black Arts ‘.


In the piece Fuller agued that throughout time people bewildered by the mysteries of life and death have sought meaning and comfort in spiritual systems. Many of the less curious, and less intelligent, he contended, have turned to conventional religions that encourage ‘ pauperization of thought ‘ while the more adventurous and intellectually inclined looked for answers in what others have regarded as evil forces allied to Satan. However, these occult resources, argued Fuller, were not reservoirs of evil at all, but were in the hands of practitioners like Friar Bacon. Paracelsus and Dr Dee, valid paths to enlightenment and truth. Even Isaac Newton and Copernicus, Fuller contends, can be regarded as ‘black magicians’.


And as the age of ‘ strange spells ‘ is succeeded by the ‘Black Age of the steam epoch ‘ the anarchist arises as a rebel against the materialism of Capital; then, according to Fuller, in opposition to the rationalism of a new priesthood of Science ‘ strange forms ‘ arise in opposition—‘ spiritualism, psychical research, theosophy and all the baby prattle of “ higher thought “ ‘. To the rationalist, Fuller argues, these too are ‘black children ‘, but children that will eventually grow into ; strapping boys and girls ‘. Continue reading

The church in the station

If you were catching a train to or from Denmark Hill railway station in Camberwell, London, any time between 1920 and 1929 you might be surprised to find that one of the waiting rooms Denmark Hill station church waiting roomthere had been converted to a place of worship. But not any place of worship. Around 19
20 a disused waiting room on the first floor was let to one Mary Elizabeth Eagle Skinner for use as a temple dedicated to her Mystical Church of the Comforter, a religious foundation, which she claimed had ancient foundations, but which she had re-established in 1901.


Little is known about Mary
Skinner ( 1875 – 1929) apart from the fact that she was a Rosicrucian of the Ymir Temple, was married to a schoolteacher, called herself ‘The Messenger ‘, but was popularly known as ‘ mother ‘. Her full-page advert in the April 1926 issue of The Occult Reviewwhich we found at Jot HQ recently , tells us a little more about the teachings of her Church, which were no doubt laid down by herself, she being to all intents and purposes a one-woman band.


One curious newspaper reporter in 1926 described the Temple thus:


One end of the room had been transformed into an altar, painted white and surrounded by the seven colours of the rainbow. Seven steps lead up to the altar, and at the side are two pillars representing Beauty and Strength. Everything is done by symbols, and the badge worn by members is a dove standing in the circle with a seven-leaved branch in its beak’   Continue reading

Advice to Theology students

This comes from a piece of paper I’ve never been able to throw out, as it intrigued, even shocked me so much (‘classics not worth the paper they are printed on’ indeed).   If this becomes a jot, hooray! I shall be able to dispose of the paper, at least.  It is online advice to Theology students, which I printed off for myself.  I thought it revealed an interesting (to say the least) attitude of the theologian to what might be called popular (normal, even?) religious feeling, response or attitudes.  By searching on ‘Childs Martin Danker’ for the acceptable books, lo and behold I came across the whole document I had excerpted from  here dated 2009 and entitled  ‘Theological Statements Guide’.   However, no bibliographic details for Childs etc. are given there.  So I can’t be much wiser.

“N.B. Popular and devotional literature and most works written for laypersons are not acceptable for this assignment. Many popular commentaries are written by nonspecialists who may be articulate speakers or well-known in other fields, but whose exegesis and comments are often technically uninformed.  This applies to the material in the “Exposition” section of the old version of The Interpreter’s Bible.  Many reprints of older works are useful, if used carefully, but many of the so-called classics are not worth the paper they are printed on.  A discussion of acceptable older and more recent works are found in the bibliographic resource guides by Childs, Martin, Danker, etc.  The student is responsible for finding and using suitable resources. If in doubt the student is encouraged to ask the professor, who can be reached at…

Focus—a magazine for the alternative lifestyle

Utopian fiction— as purveyed by H. G. Wells, Ford Madox Ford and Aldous Huxley ; the vegetarian movement, calisthenics and other health –promoting practices, including naturopathy and hydrotherapeutics, and psychoanalysis—were all increasing in popularity among the chattering classes of England in the years that followed the end of WW1. And Focus,which advertised itself as ‘to the point in matters of health, wealth and life’, was one of the magazines that catered for this new demand. Focus cover June 1928 001

Rooting through the archive at Jot HQ we found two copies of this ‘little’ magazine ( it was only the size of a prayer-book) and one of the first things that struck us was the high proportion of adverts in them. In the issue for June 1928,  out of its sixty pages a quarter were adverts. And these ads told you a lot about the magazine’s readership. Perhaps the most interesting advert was for the famous Stanboroughs Hydro, near Watford. Here among 200 acres of parkland the Hydro offered cures of all kinds, including Electric Baths, Ionisation, Diathermy, Phototherapy, Artificial Sunlight, Massage and X –Rays. Incidentally, Stanborough is still there. Other adverts were for similar health farms , such as Uplands, the ‘Nature Cure’ retreat near Hereford. This establishment offered such regimes as the Exclusive Milk Diet and way-out psycho therapies, such as Auto-Suggestion by the Coue method. Focus also gave space for the alternative life-style gurus, such as Dr H Valentine Knaggs (1859 – 1954), whose self-help booklet, Blood and Superman,was less to do with the influence of Nietzsche and more to do with the purity of the blood stream in the attainment of the higher faculties. Other titles from Knaggs included The Mischief of Milk(1920), The Salad Road to Health (1919), and the Right and Wrong Uses of Sugar (1923). Such warnings seem amazingly prescient to us in 2019. But as if to prove that Focus 
was not the whacky reservoir of alternative medicine that some of its content appeared to suggest, the editor also included an article by the Swiss nutritionist who popularized muesli, Dr M. Bircher-Benner ( 1867 – 1939) entitled ‘Into the Interior of the Atoms, ‘ a survey of the latest discoveries in particle physics, and in particular the recent theories of Niels Bohr, which was  illustrated by an amazing diagram of the electron paths of a radium  atom.


But Focus was nothing if not eclectic. In the same issue we find a piece by  Patrick Braybrooke, who as well as being the father of Neville, who became a prominent literary figure in the neo-romantic movement of the 1940s, was also an authority on G. K. Chesterton, H.G.Wells and Thomas Hardy. In part six of his series of features on ‘ Philosophies in Modern Fiction’  Braybrooke examines the philosophy of Chesterton, which he sees as being inimical to a rational view of society, but which instead promoted an essentially humanitarian sense of wonder towards the ‘ picturesque, the glories of the old legends (and ) the glamour of the Middle Ages’. In this, Braybrooke suggested, he opposed ‘any superman ideas ‘.This invocation of the idea of ‘ superman ‘ was probably  a dig at the atheistic, ‘ progressive ‘George Bernard Shaw, whose play ‘Man and Superman’ dealt with the philosophical implications of Nietzsche . It is likely that Braybrooke saw Chesterton’s old school Catholicism both as a corrective to these notions and part of the movement towards the attainment of a simpler, alternative lifestyle which was underpinned in his case by religious faith. Continue reading

The Aquarian Guide to Occult, Mystical, Religious, Magical London

Occult list London 001The MacGregor Mathers Society.

This is one of the more exclusive societies listed in Ms Strachan’s book. According to the entry it was founded by ‘ two writers in the occult field during the course of  a cream tea at the Daquise Restaurant, South Kensington, and its object is to commemorate  the memory of S .L. Macgregor Mathers, Comte de Glenstrae’.

Apparently, the Society was a dining club whose exclusive male membership was limited to ‘twelve English members and four honorary corresponding members’. It had neither Constitution nor rules except ‘insofar as the Founders invent ( and then forget) them as the occasion demands’. Several important dates are listed on which the members met to dine. These included Mathers’ birthday ( January 8th), his wedding day ( June 21st) and the anniversary of his ‘ famous ‘ manifesto to the R.R. et A.C. ( October 29th).These dinners only took place two or three times a year. It goes without saying that membership of the Society was by invitation only.

So who was  MacGregor Mathers?  It turns out that this celebrated occultist ( full name Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers)  was born in Hackney in 1854, and after working as a clerk in Bournemouth, became a Freemason and a Rosicrucian in London and was head of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn for years before he was drummed out in 1900 for financial irregularities. He married the lovely Mina Bergson, sister of Henri Bergson, the philosopher, became a vegetarian (and possibly a vegan) at a time when such people were thin on the ground, and had among his enemies Aleister Crowley. A polyglot, whose languages included French, Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Gaelic and Coptic, he was well placed to translate various mystical and occult texts.

Ms Strachan doesn’t reveal what the letters R.R. stood for ( A.C was presumably Aleister Crowley), who the two founders of the Society devoted to the memory of Mr Mathers were, why they thought so highly of him, or why they were consuming a cream tea in a restaurant specialising in Polish food. Never mind. The elitist nature of the Society doesn’t make it an attractive proposition. In fact, it no longer exists. Luckily, the Daquise Restaurant is still there, looking as it might have done fifty years ago, though it no longer serves cream teas. Continue reading

Occult London circa 1970

Occult list London 001Edited by the specialist in such books, Francoise Strachan, and published in 1970 by the Aquarian Press, the Aquarian Guide to Occult, Mystical, Religious, Magical London and Aroundis a handy paperback directory of practices, beliefs, individual practitioners, groups, national and international societies in the metropolis and its environs together with various short features on spells and associated esoteric matters.

For someone fascinated by the Occult at this fag end of the hippy movement, this was probably the most definitive guide on the market. Certainly we at Jot HQ haven’t come across anything like it. The most interesting aspect of the book is the chapter listing the esoteric societies that were flourishing in the UK in this period. Some have disappeared without trace over the past 48 years; others are still going strong. In the spirit of discovery we thought it would be instructive to mention a few of the more prominent and outlandish outfits around in 1970.

The Order of the Cubic Stone

This was run by ‘ Wardens’ and had its HQ at the ‘ Lodge’ in Penn, near Wolverhampton, a rather dreary village on the edge of the Black Country and one of the last places you would expect to find such an outfit. Its aim was to ‘ train its students in the group’s approach to Ceremonial Magic’ and their system was based on the Qabalah and The Golden Dawn. The Order also had its own system of ‘Enochian Magic’. I wonder if this was anything to do with Enoch Powell, who was a prominent figure at the time and who lived just a few miles from Penn. Today, its leading light is  Mr David F. Edwards, who has his own website, where you can read a little prayer he has composed just for you.

The Institute of Pyramidology.

Founded in London in 1940 by Adam Rutherford, who in 1967 moved the HQ to his   modest Victorian villa in Station Road, Harpenden. The building is still there but Rutherford died in 1974. Apart from Eric Morecambe, who I don’t think was at all interested in the symbolism of pyramids, the only other notable figure associated with Harpenden was the brilliant gay artist and poet  Ralph Chubb  (see Bookride ), who was born there. Continue reading

A Los Angeles philosopher

Found – a small and very rare book Happy in Hell (Freedom Hill Pressery, Burbank, 1924) by  ‘Freedom Hill Henry’ (Dr. Henry Leroy.) He founded a commune in the Shadow Hills district above Burbank which flourished between 1913 and 1930. It was known as Freedom Hill. This small book was limited to 957 copies and printed and bound by the author. He wrote another book called Miserable in Heaven and also a study of Jacob Beilhart  of the Spirit Fruit Society, an influence on him. A bit of a joker he has a note at the front: “Dear Comrade: If you like this booklet, lend it to your poor friends and tell your rich friends to buy a copy. If you don’t like it, keep quiet, and consult a specialist on mental diseases. I am an insane specialist and I can readily tell whether any one is just right in his mind. If you agree with my notions, then you are all right. If you don’t agree with me, then I know you are crazier than I am.”


Leroy’s philosophy, if that is not too lofty a word for his ideas, is hinted at in the titles of his books Miserable in Heaven and Happy Hell. He was influenced by Edward Carpenter, Walt Whitman, the Theosophists, Vivekenanda, Martin Luther and even Luther Burbank. It was essentially a loving philosophy aimed at helping people to think for themselves and realize that they could change the way they had always looked at things and to be ‘happy in hell’ (or purgatory.) He writes:

freedom_hill_henry_smallWe are in slavery as long as we can’t get what we want, all that we want, and nothing but what we do want. Do you think we shall ever become skillful enough to get all that we want and nothing but what we do want? Or, in other words, do you think we shall ever become free? If we can’t become skillful enough to get what we want, maybe WE CAN BECOME SIMPLE ENOUGH TO WANT WHAT WE GET, and that would amount to the same thing. In order to do and to get what we please we may have to change our pleases. If we could change our pleases to what we do do, and to what we do get, then our doing and our getting would correspond with our pleases. Then we could say we do as we please and get what we please. It is wonderful how logic can make impossible things easy. The way to do as we please is to be pleased with what we do. The way to get what we want is to want what we get. The way to be free is to be content with our lot. Now I have given you a secret of happiness— a secret worth a million dollars to you if you will take it and use it.

Continue reading

Illustrator E.J. Detmold’s religious books

440px-Edward_Julius_Detmold0Found –Life (Dent, London 1921) an unillustrated book of aphorisms by the great illustrator E. J. Detmold (Edward Julius – the portrait is by his twin brother Charles Maurice and the rabbit is by E.J.). The book is the publisher’s own retained copy with their stamp on  the fep   reading  ‘FILE’. Also a pencilled note by someone at Dent revealing that Detmold wrote 2 other similar philosophical/ religious works for Dent both published anonymously ‘Greater things, and a greater than things’ 1923 and ‘Selflessness’ 1922. WorldCat did not know these were by Detmold and we have added a note at their vast site All 3 books are scarce.  His biographer Keith Nicholson notes:

Life, his only unillustrated work, a book of aphorisms, was published by J. M. Dent in 1921. A key book to an understanding of Detmold’s mind, Life is an inauspicious-looking small volume printed on one side of the leaf only. In his preface the author writes: `The following words have come to the writer, over a period of many years, as the fruits of self-overcoming.’ From the curious, mystical text we learn that there are two ways of attainment: `The direct positive way – through progressive liberation – passing from the lesser realization of the body, to the greater realization of the mind, and therefrom to the realization of the infinite through the soul; and the direct negative way -through disillusionment – which comes of infatuation with things in themselves, and the inevitable passing thereof.’ In the event, ‘Life’ was Detmold’s farewell to the public world of books, and his testament. Resigned from the world, Detmold went to live in Montgomeryshire where, after a long retirement and almost totally forgotten, he died in July, 1957.”

Its a curious, deeply religious work, some of it written as if channelled from the unconscious, or beyond. Page 24 merely has these words:

“I am spirit

wherein alone, the souls of men,

meet in perfect oneness;

I am the root of true friendship.”

Page 16 has just these words at the  top and bottom of the page:

” Dominion is life.

Subjection is death.”

In 50 pages, beautifully printed by Charles Whittingham and Griggs (Chiswick Press), there are less than 1500 words.  It seems a shame that such a talented illustrator should stop drawing for the last 36 years of his life. There are many cases of this in art and literature, creative persons who suddenly stopped producing work, often for religious reasons – Alvin Langdon Coburn, Rosemary Tonks, Raduan Nassar come to mind. Please let us know of any others.


Robert Lenkiewicz—one of the great eccentrics of our time


Lenkiewicz picFound, a page torn from a copy of the Bookdealer dated 13th November 2003 previewing the forthcoming sale at Sotheby’s of the collection formed by the artist and book collector Robert Lenkiewicz.

Because of his reclusiveness, little was known about Lenkiewicz before he died in 2002 aged just 60. A media frenzy then broke out. There are so few genuine eccentrics in the art world that the press can hardly afford to ignore such a prime example as Lenkiewicz. Here is a passage from the preview:

‘Here we have a man who faked his own death some years before he died …and lived for a few days in hiding at the Cornish home of one of his patrons, the Earl of St Germans. He was notorious for befriending and patronising vagrants and tramps, in particular one Edwin McKenzie, who lived in a concrete tube on a rubbish dump and preferred to be known as Diogenes. Since Diogenes’ death in the 1980s the whereabouts of his bodily bits were a mystery, until his embalmed remains were discovered in a secret drawer in a bookcase at Lenkiewicz’s Barbican library. ‘

‘If you remain unimpressed there were other discoveries including what was left of the condemned 16th –century witch, Ursula Kemp. Her skeletal remains, which had been nailed to the coffin, are believed to have been disinterred in Victorian times. This find nicely compliments his great book collection, illustrating as it does Lenkiewicz’s obsessive curiosity with life and death’. Continue reading

David Watson—the British evangelist who filled churches

David watson pamphlet 001
Found among a pile of ephemera at Jot HQ, a clipping from the Cambridge Evening News, dated 24th May 1980, plus a printed sermon entitled ‘I know where I’m going ‘ by The Rev David Watson, vicar of St Mary-le-Belfry Church, York. As a true evangelist Watson wanted to get his message across, so not only was his sermon broadcast on Radio 4, but printed copies of it were obtainable from his own home from 20 copies for 40p (plus postage) up to 240 copies for a very reasonable 240p (plus postage).

Watson also wanted to fill churches, and indeed marquees. In May 1980 he and a group of five young devotees were to be seen touring the UK delivering the message of Jesus to packed venues. In the first week of June, 1980, we learn from the newspaper clipping, he was due to address a crowd in the 3,000 seater ‘ Supertent ‘on Midsummer Common in Cambridge. Amazingly, ‘ over 200 churches of all denominations in the Cambridge area ‘ had come together to stage the festival. It is not known how many attended this free event, but we can be sure that there would have been plenty of printed sermons in that Supertent together with piles of his new book, My God is Real.

We in the UK are used to hearing about American evangelists of all sects broadcasting on radio, filling venues, publicly baptising new converts, speaking in tongues and wrestling with rattlesnakes, but twentieth century Britain has no great tradition of Anglican evangelism. So David Watson seems to have been a maverick. Nonetheless, he was seen by others as the answer to the spiritual malaise that was afflicting the Anglican church at that time. Continue reading

Cushiest/ hardest jobs in the year of the Whitechapel Murders

Barmaid Victorian

Some examples from 1,000 Ways to Earn a Living (1888)

Secretaryships to institutions

‘Are held usually by clergymen or retired military men. These positions are much coveted, and in a recent instance 967 applications were received in reply to a single advertisement in The Times. Secretaries of clubs are frequently members of distinguished families. Such positions fall only to the fortunate. The renumeration is from £400 to £1,500 per annum, including apartment and board.

Private, Household Cavalry

1s. 9d a day plus rations, lodging, clothing &c equal to 15s per week.


‘Speaking of it as a profession, the Church is one of the widest of all. Most of the professors at our Universities, the masters in our schools, and numbers of secretaries of religious and other bodies, are qualified priests. In order to become a clergyman it is almost absolutely necessary to obtain a University degree, although it is not requisite ( as is popularly understood ) that that degree should have been granted by either Oxford or Cambridge… From the point of view of a livelihood, it is unfortunately too well known that the Church is far from being a lucrative profession, though, like others, it has its co-called prizes…yet…there is no reason why a clergyman’s leisure time should not be profitably employed in a material as well as a moral sense. The pursuits of tuition or literature are always open to him… Continue reading

Seth speaks…


Agharti 1982Found in the Peter Haining Archive ( though how it got there is anybody’s guess) is a letter addressed to Alec McClelland, author of The Lost World of the Agharti from someone called John Hanning-Lee.

Bearing no year date ( but it must be dated after 1982, when The Lost World of Agharti appeared ) it urges McClelland to read Seth Speaks by the American psychic and author Jane Roberts (1929 – 84), who from 1964 received spirit messages from a male being called ‘ Seth’, whose pronouncements were later made the subject of a number of published works by Roberts collectively known as the ‘Seth material’. In his letter Hanning –Lee particularly focuses on the chapter in Seth Speaks devoted to the lost underground civilisation that predated Atlantis. Hanning-Lee describes the inhabitants and their civilisation thus:

‘They had blown up their own civilisation prior to that and the underground existence that followed was, of course, a reincarnational one. They excavated whole cities, by that I mean they excavated extensively so that their cities and communicating passages were entirely beneath the surface. The means of doing this was by means of sound vibrations where certain low notes sounded with power can cause a tunnel to form where there was solid earth. I suppose an analogy would be if you were to manipulate iron filings so that a path was formed through a mass of them placed on a sheet of paper and the paper tapped lightly. These ‘ caves ‘ they formed were, then, far more extensive than the ordinary idea of the word ‘cave’ and ran for miles, Their knowledge of the plates of the Earth’s crust and the science of earthquakes was almost certainly far superior to ours. Continue reading