Thursday, 29 September 2016

Geoffrey Ashe (1982) on spiritual rebirth

Edited from Avalonian Quest (1982) by Geoffrey Ashe, pp 254-5:

I believe in a rebirth. The Strong Magic is creative as well as demoralising.

But if a rebirth is ever to happen, it cannot be forced. No one knows what form it  should take or what it is that the presiding beings intend. And to try to exploit the energies is dangerous

The future must be allowed to unfold, and perhaps its logic will be plain without human effort.

Recent years may have been witnessing a necessary prelude. The winds have blown away at least some of the nonsense, at least some of the delusion, at least some of the attempts of would-be gurus to domineer and dictate.

To be aware of Glastonbury with all it implies is to see an ample prospect. The place has to be Christian - local instinct is right in that respect - but it could be the home of a more exploratory, adventurous, questing Christianity - nourished from many sources.

Today the road of Christian prgress is widely assumed to lead in another direction. Theologians seek to demythologise, cutting out not only what is pre-Christian but a good deal of what is Christian too. The pruning process is meant to define a Highest Common Factor capable of uniting divided churches...

To such a conception of the Faith I can only reply: 'Not so, not so!'

Part of the Avalonian destiny may be to remind the Church of a different way, a way of enrichment and development, acknowledging mystery, acclimatising the mythic, absorbing wisdom from many traditions, interpreting Christian doctrines better in the light of them.

This is how it often was in the Church's creative centuries. That is how it might be again...

Better any number of quests, even if some are illusory, than the arid pretence that there is no quest at all. 


I turned to Avalonian Quest after reading (and reviewing on this blog) Geoffrey Ashe's novel The Finger and the Moon (1973) last week

Like every book I have read on the subject of Glastonbury, it is flawed and ultimately unsatisfactory - but overall this is probably the best. Its flaw is that the entire central half of the book is focused on the subject of the (perhaps?) labyrinth or maze around Glastonbury Tor - making it very unbalanced, and not really what it purports to be.

However, the rest of the book is highly insightful, and with an appealing 'personality'. I was particularly pleased by Ashe's acknowledgement of the dark 'vibes' of Glastonbury, the ill effect it has on many people and its repeated failures (rather than the usual rose-tinted nonsense about the place); also his skewering of the utterly unjustified and counter-evidential way in which modern 'scholars' assert that the tomb of Arthur discovered in Glastonbury Abbey in 1191 was a complete fraud. Ashe argues (convincingly to me) that there is every reason to assume that the monks discovered something highly significant and interesting, and in some fashion closely bound-up with the Arthurian legends. 

What of the closing passage of the book, which I have excerpted above? It seems to me that Ashe was spot-on in his diagnosis and also his recommended 'treatment' - and that what he believed and hoped-for was indeed exactly what was needed; although in the event it was not what happened.

(For which I lay the blame at the doors of ingrained Leftism and esepcially the sexual revolution - which in practice the most influential people put as their priority ranked above that of spiritual awakening).

Ashe is saying that what is needed must primarily be within the frame of Christianity; but that what is needed must also go beyond historical Christianity in terms of involving a more wide-ranging and overtly 'spiritual' quest - some of which directions we should expect to be 'illusory' and to fail in their hope or promise.

We must, therefore, be ready to acknowledge and repent what turn out to be errors. Nonetheless, we must boldly quest: boldly set-out and pursue what seem like the most fruitful directions for quest.

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