Frederick Bligh Bond
A team led by Roberta Gilchrist, a professor of archeology at Reading University and a trustee of the Glastonbury Abbey, have completed a multi-year project to collect, reinterpret and publish records of 36 seasons of excavations from 1904 through 1979 (online and with a 500-page book). Glastonbury’s press release quotes Professor Gilchrist,
This project has rewritten the history of Glastonbury Abbey. Although several major excavations were undertaken during the 20th century, dig directors were led heavily [by] Glastonbury’s legends and the occult. Using 21st century technology we took a step back from the myth and legend to expose the true history of the Abbey.
Colorful legends of Apostles and Arthur have likely wrong-footed many scholars. As Professor Gilchrist put it, “Research revealed that some of the best known archaeological ‘facts’ about Glastonbury are themselves myths perpetuated by the Abbey’s excavators.” But one dig director stands out as having been led by the “occult.”
Frederick Bligh Bond (1864-1945) was an architect with extensive technical knowledge about old church buildings. He served at Glastonbury from 1908, when the Church of England bought the property, until 1921. His productive digs satisfied his superiors. Then in 1918, Bond published The Gate of Remembrance (here) and its sequel in 1919, Hill of Vision. Bond explained candidly how he had so efficiently and effectively rescued long-lost buildings from oblivion.
His career fell apart.
Illustration by Moina Bergson Mathers
Early Carl Jung bookplate
Carl Jung (1875-1961) was a pioneer in psychology, trained in medicine, who firmly grounded his scientific work in empirical and clinical observation. Yet Jung’s ideas about synchronicity, the collective nature of much of the unconscious, his technique of “active imagination,” his investigations of spiritualist seances, the I Ching, astrology, alchemy … in a few words, his lifelong fascination with the occult and integration of occult-friendly concepts into his scientific work, mark him as an unusual scientist. In contrast, William Butler Yeats (1865-1939), the Irish writer and Nobel laureate in literature, immersed himself in the occult, unconstrained by scientific aspiration or self-identification.
This posting introduces a brief 7500-word essay, entitled “Magic,” that Yeats wrote in 1901, while Jung was still working at his first job as a psychiatrist. The full essay, reformatted and annotated, may be downloaded from the blog’s Unlinks page. Yeats anticipates several of the then as yet unknown Jung’s later ideas and methods.
“Magic” offers a study in the synchronicity (“the coincidence in time of two or more causally unrelated events which have the same meaning,” as Jung would define his term) that surrounded the substantially independent emergence of parallel insights in two great thinkers of the last century. Continue reading
A vever drawn by Maya Deren
In an earlier post, we met Stanford anthropologist Tanya Marie Luhrmann, who immersed herself in the spiritual practices of modern witches and evangelical Christians to learn more about the psychology of religious experiences. She was not the first scholar to use herself as a guinea pig in this way. Maya Deren, a filmmaker and dancer, went to Haiti to document Voodoo rituals in the 1940’s and 50’s, and ended up being initiated into the religion.
Although Deren was not an anthropologist, she worked with those who were when she abandoned her film project to write Divine Horsemen: The Living Gods of Haiti. Her book climaxes with Deren’s first-hand account of being possessed by the Voodoo goddess Erzulie.
Deren tells us what happened before and after she was overcome by the loa, the goddess, but she cannot describe the experience itself, because she wasn’t there. Erzulie was there instead. Continue reading
Anthropologist Tanya Marie Luhrmann gave a preview of soon-to-appear psychological research in an interview with Jill Wolfson, which is featured in the current issue of Stanford University’s alumni magazine,
Based on her guarded description, Professor Lurhmann’s experimental work contributes to a venerable series of investigations into what may be a shared basis for vivid religious, paranormal and psychological depth experiences. Continue reading