Kabbalistic Connections

by R. J. Stewart

(titles referred to below are found on our Bibliography page)

The Sanctuary of Avalon has two active locations, one in Britain and one in the USA. The British location for the Sanctuary of Avalon in the Glastonbury area changed in early September 2022, and is not currently open for visitors. A number of people have asked me to describe what encouraged my contact with ARH, and why such a connection was established and maintained for a few brief years during the mid to late 1970s, ending with Ronald’s death in 1980.

As mentioned in several places in my biography of ARH, The Hidden Adept and the Inward Vision, and in my previously published articles about ARH from 2002 onward, I was not a “student” of his in the manner that is normally understood, in that I did not have frequent meetings, classes, or a study program set for me. In some ways this is not surprising, as ARH did not “teach” in the usual manner, but often relied upon wordless mediation or subtle hints to those who were able to receive them (“whosever has ears to hear…let him hear ”is a classic Kabbalistic opening phrase found in Jewish tradition, one that ARH would quote). The detailed mentoring task fell to the late W.G.Gray, with whom I studied for seven years, from 1969 to 1976.

By the time I met ARH in the 1970s I had been studying and practicing Kabbalah/Qabalah for five years, partly with WGG and especially through the inner meditations and practices that are demanded by the tradition itself. Thus ARH would have found me to be a young man who was already training in the strict disciplines that he himself had embodied since the 1930s, and which he had experienced first hand in the Holy Land during his visits there. Furthermore, ARH and WGG had met and had been in correspondence on Kabbalistic and esoteric subjects for some years; this connection is described by Gray in the biographical anthology The Old Sod, first published in 2003. This biography of W G Gray, with essays from various contributors, includes the first article outlining ARH’s life and work to be published since the 1960s, in addition to Gray’s own report on his visit to the original Sanctuary of Avalon. The full text of WGG’s account is found in Chapter One of The Hidden Adept. I do not know if Bill Gray wrote to ARH about me (he would not have told me, in any case), though he certainly wrote to me about ARH, describing him as “one of the Old Ones” and as his “Superior Officer” in the initiatory and priestly lineage.

New Age and Old Age

Many, though not all, of ARH’s visitors were involved in the burgeoning New Age movement of the 1970s, and the “New Age problem” was often a subject of discussion and some vexation to both Ronald and his partner Polly Wood; a long teaching from Ronald on this subject can be found in Chapter Five of The Hidden Adept where a comparison is made between New Age sheep and Old Age sheep, with a touch of ironic humour. During the 1970s and 80s the New Age incrementally became something very different from the original redemptive visions of Swedenborg and Blake, who first used the term to mean a renewal of inner spirit in esoteric Christian revelation. ARH’s understanding of the New Age was derived from that of Swedenborg, and Blake, enhanced by his own profound meditative and prophetic insights.

Of the many visitors to Castle House where ARH and Polly Wood lived and held the original Sanctuary of Avalon, few were Kabbalists; Gray was a highly experienced mature example, while I was a rare younger, less experienced example, and during that time was training with Gray. It was in this context that ARH revealed the inner Melchizedek and Tree of Life practices, especially the relationship between a unique formula of the Name used to attune the Sanctuary of Avalon, and the energetic sphere that such a sanctuary generates. It would be thirty years before I wrote The Sphere of Art (vol I) and The Purifying Fire (vol II) based on the Aesch Mezareph practices that ARH had used not only to heal his own disabilities in the 1920s, but to sustain the sacromagical forces of the Sanctuary from 1959 to 1980.

Visitors to Castle House would sometimes be told that there were special energized substances buried beneath the Sanctuary; these were derived from the Aesch Mezareph elevation techniques of Kabbalistic alchemy; some of these sacromagical alchemical methods of Elevating the Elements are described in The Purifying Fire. While listening to ARH or reading his scattered writings, the Kabbalistic hyper-textual content was, at least in part, known to me. It has become better known to me over time, after more than forty five years of practice.

To Each According To Their Measure

I noticed that ARH would talk to one person one way, and in a quite different manner to another, “according to their measure”, this being a Masonic term that both ARH and WGG employed. David Spangler also observed and sensed this method of communication during his visits to Castle House, while traveling with Peter Caddy, and describes it very accurately in his account that is quoted in The Hidden Adept . David remembers visiting Castle House on at least two occasions, first when ARH was still walking with two sticks, and later when he was more confined with limited movement.

Thus, as I was not associated with the redoubtable Peter Caddy, not a Findhorn member, and not a New Age enthusiast, I received more Kabbalistic content from ARH, according to my measure. As David Spangler states so clearly, there were always sub- and hyper-textual nuances of consciousness flowing around and from within ARH. These were of greater significance than any outer words, though often such outer words as were uttered were encoded according to Kabbalistic tradition, having more than one level of meaning. Some of these multi-level meanings are analyzed in the chapters of The Hidden Adept wherein ARH’s Vigil announcements and other texts and letters are quoted.

In contrast to this Kabbalistic connection, I knew very little about astrology, and nothing about sidereal astrology as practiced by ARH. So with his typically acute perception he barely mentioned astrology, choosing instead to focus on spiritual forces of the archangels and the Divine Name in sacromagical practice, both being subjects that were of deep interest to me in my early twenties. They have remained, with ever deepening interest, in my life to the present day.

Interestingly, the idea that (ever popular) ley lines were connected through the center of the Earth, with angular aspects of relationship, was mentioned by ARH more than once; angular aspects are a feature of astrology. Thus a few brief statements regarding the relationship between Glastonbury and Jerusalem as being angular and running through the center of the Earth, laid the foundation for an entirely new conceptual art of the relationships between sacred sites, and how to discover the true nature of ley lines. The sacredness of the center of the Earth has played a strong role in my work from the 1970s to the present day. I am still waiting for a sidereal astrologer to work with me to follow ARH’s hints further.

Another area, one of special enthusiasm within the New Age movement, was the mysterious Comte de St Germain, Prinz Ragoczy, originally a figure from the 18th century to whom much legend and speculation has become attached. While ARH recounted his meeting with this immortal (in a Swiss hotel) to those who had an interest, including David Spangler and Peter Caddy, Le Comte was not mentioned to me at any time.

The more obscure ideas, however, of Inner Plane Contacts and Centripetal Mediation (as distinct from meditation), were voiced; these concepts and associated practices bring the practitioner into a consciousness relating to traditions of the exalted immortals and transhuman inner plane mentors. Such traditions are found in every mystical tradition worldwide, and variously describe the immortals and their tasks of mediation on Earth.

Ritual Magic and Kabbalah

W.G.Gray was a practical Kabbalist; he would have said “Qabalist” to distinguish Hermetic Qabalah, of the Renaissance period’s esoteric revival, from the branches of Jewish traditional  mysticism that continued quietly unabated until the Holocaust destroyed many of the rebbes who embodied the various teaching and mediating lineages. Thus W.G.Gray was an initiated magical adept, who used, wrote about, and taught, magical ritual methods.

A.R.Heaver was an esoteric Christian mystic, and an initiated Kabbalist and esoteric Mason, deeply rooted in the Jewish mystical tradition; he often seemed opposed to the idea of magical ritual, and made a point of laughing, albeit kindly, when I asked him about Dion Fortune during one of our meetings; I suspect that he was laughing at my curiosity, rather than at Dion Fortune herself. It is well known, however, that spiritual mentors of the previous generations were more subtle than they seemed, making thought provoking statements to challenge and hopefully mature the erstwhile student. It is not possible to understand most of ARH’s writing, conversation or spiritual mediation fully, without Kabbalistic training, though it is possible to relate to its outer or surface meaning, as he always wrote, and spoke, on at least two levels at once.

ARH’s stance on ritual magic and occultism was indeed more subtle than it seemed, for while he was strongly opposed to lurid occultism and magical techniques for self-aggrandizement, he did not hesitate to make midnight invocations to the Archangels, or to time sacromagical actions according to sidereal astrology and the Planetary Hours; we have firm evidence of all of these from his own letters and esoteric writings, quoted fully in the various chapters of The Hidden Adept. Yet ARH seldom talked about such sacromagical practices to visitors, possibly because of the innate secrecy within the initiatory traditions, or more likely because any such talk would be misunderstood.

His letter to a lady living in Findorn in the early 1970s, quoted in full in Chapter Six of The Hidden Adept, makes it very clear that he knew how people within the oft -naive New Age movement were prone to spiritual inflation and potential delusion, no matter how well-intentioned they might be. Sadly this trait has continued and expanded over the forty or so years since ARH wrote his stern but kindly words to “Athena”, who had confidently asserted, by post, that she had successfully conducted rituals to affiliate defiant Luciferic spirits with the cosmic Christ.

Traditional Kabbalah teaches that certain methods may be dangerous for the untrained, leading to potential imbalance. The “Athena” letter, short as it is, contains a wealth of material providing insights into ARH’s stance on occultism, the relationship between imagination, delusions, demonic influences, and New Age egoism; it also reveals a balanced mix of firm spiritual authority and compassion.

W.G. Gray and A.R. Heaver were both determined that people should stand on their own two feet, and get through to higher consciousness, to Divinity, for themselves. Thus they each strongly encouraged individual discipline and dedication, especially through Kabbalah and sacromagical or ethical theurgic methods. Gray was focussed primarily on the effect of beneficial and ethical ritual methods, while Heaver focussed more (but not entirely) upon the via negativa of esoteric Christian and Jewish spiritual traditions. Although the subject was never discussed with me by either WGG or ARH, both were Masons. ARH’s esoteric Masonic connections reached all the way from London in the 1930s to a lodge in Jerusalem (during his visits there in the 30s) that still convenes today, as I was to discover as recently as 2014. The clue is hidden in the Caves of Zedekiah.

A further link that I sense today, albeit in retrospect, was that W.G.G. had initiated me into the Inner Lineage some three years before I first met A.R.H. Gray’s lineage came through well established esoteric French-Russian connections that, though secret when I came into their ambience, have been widely published in recent years. Heaver was involved in French alchemical esoteric traditions, which had a lively revival in the early 20th century, best known through the popular work of Renee Schwaller de Lubicz and the enigmatic figure of Fulcanelli, author of La Mystere des Cathedrals.

This initiatory lineage was, therefore, a foundation that both men shared, a foundation upon which I was tentatively standing, often with more dedication than skill, as a young man in the early 1970s. Such initiations involve a transfer of spiritual subtle forces, networked through the generations in various ways, according to tradition. To ARH’s spiritual perceptions, this early Kabbalistic initiation, which I barely understood at first, would have been immediately apparent. He substantially helped me to understand the implications and the responsibilities of initiation, and these have lived in and through my work for many years.

Finally I would like to repeat, or re-state in another manner, something that is described astrologically in Chapter One of The Hidden Adept (having learned some astrology in the intervening years), as the Metonic cycle influence at work after death. Put more simply, the subtle content from ARH, that so many people felt in his company, was substantially present in his words and wordless communication, during the period immediately before his death. Between 1980 and 1999, however, I barely sensed it, as if a veil had been thrown over it all. Only from around 2000 did it begin to resurface in me, coming into shape in new ways.

It is these new ways that we teach and practice today in the re-attuned Sanctuary of Avalon, in Britain and the USA, through the long established Inner Temple Traditions Inner Convocation network that has been active since 1988. From 2006 to the present day a new phase of our ITIC work has been developed, with a long term teacher training program directed by my partner Anastacia Nutt. This program includes the practice of Aesch Mezareph elevations, referred to above.

More information can be found at: Inner Convocation web resource.

Our outreach work in Israel involves bringing together people from varied religious and cultural backgrounds to meditate and do sacromagical work together without any dogmatic burden, meeting as friends. During my first meeting with ARH he encouraged me to explore the connections between Glastonbury and Jerusalem. Our network aims to be an organism rather than an organization, as ARH was fond of saying.

R.J.Stewart © 2015 (Orcas Island WA, & Glastonbury, 2015)
The Sanctuary of Avalon