Nightingales: July Zoom Cyber Room…

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The Self, is it real or a psychological illusion?

In this hour of focus on what many consider to be our most precious possession, we will look at the arising of the self and its potential.

Many mystics have considered that we have a self and a Self.

What is the difference?

Does one subsume the other or do they meet halfway.

Join us for some spiritual companionship, fun and discussion on what might just be the most important topic of our lives…

***

“We’re really close to the Church that we tried to get into before lunch the other Sunday but which was closed.”

“What, the one with the remains of a standing stone in the graveyard?”

“That’s the one.”

As we approach the South door, I can hardly contain my excitement and take the lead. I can hear voices within… there is some sort of tour going on in there.

“…and to your right we have the South door which is the oldest working church door in Buckinghamshire…” I twist the door handle and lean into the door fully expecting it to open onto the interior of the church which it does not. “…since 1211…hold on a moment there… the door is barred. I’ll just open it for you.”

There is a heavy thud from the inside of the church and then a scraping sound and slowly the door creaks open to reveal the aged but very friendly face of the tour guide…

“…the door was barred, I’ve just unbarred the door for you,” he smiles and then nods somewhat knowingly and resumes the narrative of his tour, “Further to your left…”

I cast a cursory glance at his charges, three elderly looking tourists, two male and one female who are doing their best to affect an air of nonchalant acceptance of our unscripted entry.

I glance too at Wen who has skipped into the church and whose mirth appears palpable.

Suppressing my own mirth and sense of triumphalism at gaining entry to the church I head for a most impressive stained glass window depicting our old friend George with his Dragon and Damsel and… I am instantly transported…”

“Sire”
“…”
“SIRE”
I turn to the enquirer, imagining it to be one of the tourists and somewhat irritated that my reverie has been so rudely interrupted. But it is not one of the tourists, it is someone who I have never seen before. A small, weasel-like man dressed in rough leathers is standing at the front of the church just before the nave.
If this were not shocking enough, the church itself looks very different from the one I stepped into mere moments before. It is also ram jam full of people who are all looking intently at me, awaiting my response.
I turn back to the window hoping that the nightmare will abate but the window too has changed and, instead of depicting my beloved George with his blessed Dragon and lovely Damsel, it depicts a farmer sowing seeds upon the ploughed earth.
“Sire, the court is awaiting your response.”
I gulp… and turn… and start to walk down the centre of the church.
“My response?” I muster,  attempting to affect nonchalance. As I progress down what used to be the central aisle of the church, I notice out of the window that what remains of the standing stone is not a standing stone at all but a village cross. Next to the cross stands a hooded executioner sharpening his axe blade…

… I come back, still scrutinising the rich colours and beautifully executed form of the stained glass window before me and immediately glance over my shoulder… The scene has returned to one of relative normality. The tour guide has manoeuvred his charges into the chancel and, from Wen’s position in the church, I would estimate I have been gone for only a matter of minutes. I move over to her, still a little shaken by recent events, to find she is busy photographing two more utterly stunning windows which bear the epithet, “I bore you on eagle’s wings and brought you into myself.“…

The Triumph of Horsenden – The Initiate

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THE INITIATE

Book One of the Triad of Albion

Stuart France & Sue Vincent

The Initiate is the story of a journey beyond the realms of our accustomed normality.

It is a true story told in a fictional manner. In just such a way did the Bards of old hide in the legends and deeds of folk heroes, those deeper truths for those ‘with eyes to see and ears to hear’.

Don and Wen, two founding members of a new Esoteric School, meet to explore an ancient sacred site, as a prelude to the School’s opening event. The new School is to be based upon a nine-fold system and operate under the aegis of the Horus Hawk.

The trip does not unfold as planned.

Instead, Don and Wen, guided by the birds, find themselves embarking upon a journey that will lead them through a maze of spiritual symbolism, to magical mysteries and the shadowy figure of the Ninth Knight.

As the veils thin and waver, time shifts and the present is peopled with shadowy figures of the past, weaving their tales through a quest for understanding and opening wide the doors of perception…

Now available via Amazon worldwide.

Paperback UK     Kindle UK    Paperback Amazon.com    Kindle Amazon.com

The Great Mystery…

*

Approach to the mystery

is silent, solitary

and free from all self-seeking.

*

It is silent because in comparison

with the mystery all speech

is feeble and imperfect.

*

It is solitary because the mystery

draws closer to us in solitude.

*

It is free of self-seeking because

the souls of our ancestors

ascended to the mystery

in wordless adoration.

– Ohiyesa

WHAT’S UP DOC? Lines of communication IV…

*

…’All colour had faded from the sky and although the big board by the gate creaked slightly in the night wind, there was no passer-by to read the sharp, hard letters that cut straight as black knives across its white surface.
They said…’

Bugs… (pause) CARROTS! (pause) Reads…

THIS IDEALLY SITUATED ESTATE
COMPRISING SIX ACRES
OF EXCELLENT BUILDING LAND
IS TO BE DEVELOPED
WITH HIGH CLASS MODERN RESIDENCES
BY SUTCH AND MARTIN, LIMITED
OF NEWBURY, BERKS

Cara… In the context of the story then, this notice spells doom for the rabbits and the warren…

Bugs… So, what’s going on? Why have we presented you with these cards?

Cara… A spanking, brand new pair of Bunny ears for anyone who can tell us?

(Interplay)

BugsIf no takers… Well, you are all now Rabbits anyway…Why?

Because you are in the same position in relation to the first inscription on the card as the rabbits in the story are to the second… (both Cara and Bugs elaborate on that position) So, to emphasise that position…

*

Cara… In the darkness and warmth of the burrow Hazel suddenly woke, struggling and kicking with his back legs…

Bugs… It was Fiver, who was clambering over him, clawing and grabbing like a rabbit trying to climb a wire fence in panic.

*
Cara… ‘Fiver! Fiver, wake up… It’s Hazel. You’ll hurt me in a moment. Wake up!
He held him down. Fiver struggled and woke.

*
Bugs… “Oh, Hazel! I was dreaming. It was dreadful.
You were there.
We were sitting on water, going down a great, deep stream, and then I realised we were on a board, like that board in the field.
There were other rabbits there but when I looked down the board was made of bones and wires…
I was looking for you everywhere and trying to drag you out of a hole in the bank.
You said, “The Chief Rabbit must go alone, and you floated away down a dark tunnel of water.”

*
Cara… Well, you’ve hurt my ribs, anyway.
Tunnel of water… What rubbish!
Can we go back to sleep now?

*

Bugs… “Hazel – the danger, the bad thing. It hasn’t gone away.

It’s here – all round us.

Don’t tell me to forget about it and go to sleep.

We’ve got to get away before it’s too late.”

*
Cararepeats… ‘The bad thing.

It hasn’t gone away.

It’s here… all around us…’

So, we ask again…

Is our script.

Our unknown script good or bad?

Repeats invocation…

*
Bugs… Is it worthy or unworthy of ridicule?

If any Companions claimed to know at outset let them reveal, alternatively, Reveal…

This is a fragment of angelic language used by Dr John Dee.

It is part of an invocation…

*

Cara… ‘I reign over you, saith the God of Justice.
ELEXARPEH
COMANANU
TABITOM.
Move therefore and show yourselves.
Appear unto us; open the mysteries of your Creation, the balance of
Righteousness and Truth.’

to be continued…

WHAT’S UP DOC? Lines of communication II…

*

…Cara: If we can’t trust the written word what can we trust?

Bugs settles at the West and Cara at the East.

Bugs: Vertical Polarity!

Cara: recites…

OL SONUF VAORSAGI GOHO IADA BALTA.

ELEXARPEH COMANANU TABITOM. ZODAKARA,

EKA ZODAKARE OD ZODAMERANU. ODO KIKLE

QAA PIAP PIAMOEL OD VAOAN.

Bugs: (Addressing the Companions) Don’t say what this is but if anyone does know what it is please raise your hands. (If any hands are raised to each of those who raised their hands) – Just say ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Do you know what it means? (if so) – Please don’t take part in the next bit. So, everyone else.  Those of you who feel that this piece holds power, raise your hands.  (If any hands are raised) Would anyone like to expand on that? Would anyone like to categorise how that made them feel.  In a general way was that feeling Good or Bad? We’ll come back to this…

Cara: But first…

Cara walks to the central altar and removes the cover from the Top Hat and Ears, lifting out the rabbit ears in time honoured fashion they are revealed to be part of two rabbit masks…

Bugs: For those with ears to hear…

Bugs walks to the central altar. Cara hands one of the rabbit masks to Bugs (Black) and keeping the other for herself (White) they both don them.

Cara (now wearing a white rabbit mask) … A story about rabbits…

Bugs: (now wearing a black rabbit mask) … ‘What’s up Doc!’

Bugs explains that the cards have two inscriptions, one on either side but that the companions must not turn the cards over to read the second inscription until directed to do so by the utterance of the ‘Trigger’ word- ‘Carrots’ as Cara hands out the cards. After handing out the cards Cara returns to the central altar. Bugs and Cara circle the altar and then Bugs retreats to the east, while Cara retreats to the west.

TO EACH READ, IN TURN, WHILE CIRCLING…

*

Bugs… The primroses were over…

The May sunset was red in clouds, and there was still half an hour to twilight.

The dry slope was dotted with rabbits…

Here and there one sat upright on an ant-heap and looked about:

ears erect

nose to the wind.

The blackbird, singing undisturbed on the outskirts of the wood, gave lie to their caution.

There was nothing to alarm the peace of the warren.

*

Cara… At the top of the bank where the blackbird sang was a group of holes hidden by brambles.

In the green half-light, at the mouth of one of these holes, sat two rabbits side by side.

The larger of the two came out of the hole, slipped along the bank, hopped down into the ditch and then ambled up into the field…

A few moments later the smaller rabbit followed.

The first rabbit stopped in a sunny patch and scratched an ear with rapid movements of a hind-leg.

He looked as though he knew how to take care of himself.

There was a shrewd, buoyant air about him as he sat up, looked round and rubbed both front paws over his nose.

Once satisfied that all was well he laid back his ears and set to work on the grass.

His companion seemed less at ease.

He was small, with wide eyes and a way of raising and turning his head which suggested a sort of ceaseless nervous tension.

His nose moved continually and when a bumble-bee flew, humming, to a thistle bloom behind him he jumped and spun round with a start…

*

to be continued…

WHAT’S UP DOC? Lines of communication…

Presentation from, The Jewel in the Claw workshop, April 2018…

 

*

For those with eyes to see…

*

Floor Set up

Altar, placed centrally on chequered floor and covered… With, placed on it, top-hat, upended, with, placed in it, rabbit mask and ears x2, and ‘pack-of-cards’, all also covered. South and North lined with nine chairs for Companions.  Adjudicator 1 (male) to sit on central chair of South. Adjudicator 2 (female) to sit on central chair of North. Two chairs in East. One chair in West.

Bugs and Cara initially sit on chairs in East. When all Companions have entered and are seated Cara and Bugs rise to stand, simultaneously, and Cara walks clockwise to stand in front of the west chair.

*

Bugs: Friends, Britons, Countrymen…Welcome to our presentation. In keeping with our Shakespearean theme this year, we have determined to develop some of the concepts of the weekend…

Cara: Horizontal Polarity!

(Bugs and Cara walk anti-clockwise. Bugs to stand before West chair. Cara to stand before East chairs. On the way, Bugs hands Adjudicator 2 Gold Parchment with a sonnet printed on it. On reaching the West Bugs declares…)

Bugs: Love!

Cara:  recites the Shakespearean sonnet as a ‘lover’…

Being your slave, what should I do but tend

Upon the hours and times of your desire?

I have no precious time at all to spend,

Nor services to do, till you require.

Nor dare I chide the world-without-end hour

Whilst I, my sovereign, watch the clock for you,

Nor think the bitterness of absence sour

When you have bid your servant once adieu;

Nor dare I question with my jealous thought

Where you may be, or your affairs suppose,

But, like a sad slave, stay and think of nought

Save, where you are how happy you make those.

   So true a fool is love that in your will,

   Though you do anything, he thinks no ill.

(Adjudicator 2 ‘follows’ the recital from the Gold Parchment. On finishing the reading Cara and Bugs switch positions again but this time they move clockwise. On the way Cara hands Adjudicator 1 Silver Parchment with the sonnet printed on it. On reaching the East, Bugs declares…)

Bugs: Loathing!

Cara: recites the same Shakespearean sonnet but this time as a ‘loather’…

(Adjudicator 1 ‘follows’ the recital from the Silver Parchment. On finishing the reading Cara moves clockwise to the South to collect Adjudicator 1 and leads him to the central altar. Bugs moves clockwise to the North to collect Adjudicator 2 and leads her to the central altar. Both Adjudicators follow the central line of the ‘board’ and square corners around the altar, to stand facing each other centrally as directed by Bugs and Cara. Once at the altar they are asked to verify that both the scripts are the same. When they have done so they swap parchments and then are led to opposite seats and re-seated.)

Bugs returns to East.

Cara returns to West.

(During the following exchange they circle the altar, alternating between East and West as they speak.)

Bugs: Ladies and Gentlemen, please, a hand for our adjudicators…

Cara: And so, we see, that, Horizontal Polarities are interchangeable, and represent two sides of the same coin…

And we can also see, that, opposite ‘emotions’ can be evoked by the self-same words?

Bugs: The written word, it seems, needs context…

Cara: But if we cannot trust the written word what can we trust?

to be continued…

Backstone Beck

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As the sun continued to rise at our backs, the light dancing and changing with every passing minute, the three of us, Steve, Stuart and myself, headed over… and up… towards Backstone Beck. The water tumbles down the moor, over boulders of millstone grit, sparkling clean, yet coloured with the amber of peat and iron. Nothing tastes quite like it, no other drink, for me, assuages the thirst of body and soul like a clear draught taken from these moorland streams, with naught but hands for a cup. Ilkley was famed for its healing springs long ago, and the gentry came from far and wide to bathe and drink the waters described as  “mellifluent, diaphanous, limpid, luminous transparent, pellucid” and “its purity and softness , which makes if more efficacious, by passing sooner and to the utmost and finest limits of the circulation than any water known.” I, however, am reminded of my younger son, a child still, and halfway up Ben Nevis; quenching his thirst at a mountain stream and saying in wonder that he was drinking the clouds. Here, perhaps, it is the earth we drink.

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I know this stream well. I played here as a child, so did my sons, damming the waters… a futile game, of course, as the water always finds a way through the pebbles. But that was never the point… it is the relationship between the child and the land, the movement and the stone, the flowing together of child, rock and water. It is play. It is a place of memory. Odd to think that of the thousands of rocks and pebbles that line the stream, some I have held in my hands, decades ago, and yet they now lie, unrecognised, in the water.

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We crossed the stream, stopping to drink, and followed the path that runs beside it as the moor climbs to the next level. Many visitors look up from the Cow and Calf at the edge of the moor with its steep cliffs and think that is the highest point. Those casual visitors who climb to the ridge seldom leave the path that runs along it… there is, after all, little reason to do so. They might, if they did, find the poet’s rest where we waited a while, watching the sun. The view is spectacular, the heather, when it is in flower, is a sea of purple and there are rocky outcrops, huge stones and cascading streams enough for any walk. For now the fresh green of young bracken cloaks the hills. Yet venture ‘further up and further in’ and the atmosphere changes. Traffic noise… almost non-existent at this time of morning anyway… simply falls into silence. You are alone with the breeze and the bracken, the stones and the sheep, the sky and the songbirds in a place that seems untouched by man, save only for his tracks through the heather.

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Yet look closer and you can see where the old ones walked. There are hut circles, ancient settlements, strange carvings on the boulders; stone circles and cairns dot the moors and if you are lucky, and very observant, you may find the knapped flint tools… arrowheads, blades and scrapers… with which they carved out their lives. Memories in stone that go back nine thousand years. There are older lives in the rock too…of creatures and plants that lived in the sea that covered these high moors four hundred million years ago. In the vast sea of uncurling bracken and nascent heather, that knowledge alone strips you of many masks, leaving you feeling simply a human… being.

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The birds led us onward; tiny meadow pipits, skylarks with their characteristic flight, grouse noisily protesting our intrusion…The small birds hopped and flew, a few paces, a few curling fronds at a time, looking back and waiting, for all the world as it they wanted us to follow them… which, of course, we did, following their lead to find the ‘lost’ Backstone Circle. And all the time the glorious sunrise unfolded behind us.

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Bah’t ‘at

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Well, two of us were up there on Ilkley Moor bah’t ‘at… the third stubbornly clung to the trademark headgear that makes him look like something feral. To be fair, it was a little chilly up there.

idiots abroad

We had arrived early and, after fortifying ourselves with a toasted teacake and a coffee apiece, headed off to the parish church to look at the ancient Saxon crosses and Roman altars, now safely ensconced in the base of the bell tower to protect them from the depredations of the elements. We had an hour before Steve was due to arrive, and that was enough to see what we needed to see and wander out into the morning sunshine. It was going to be a long day.

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We… the inner team of the Silent Eye… were meeting to tramp the moors in search of a landscape for use in a private School event. From the Cow and Calf to the Swastika Stone, by way of White Wells, Heber’s Ghyll and the ancient petroglyphs I took them to the places of my childhood, places where I have dreamed, wept, laughed and played.

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It was a beautiful day. Regardless of the fact I will be returning there soon, there were the inevitable tears on leaving. I cannot help it, the place has a home in my heart deeper than any other or perhaps it is that my heart has its home there. As we turned the car off the moorside road a red kite flew over… I have not seen them there before… the sight of that distinctive silhouette in the air, wings outstretched, felt like a blessing. A perfect way to end the day.

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Tall the cliffs of stone
That mark the entry to my heart’s domain,
Wild and empty in its vastness
The solitude of living earth.
The wind lifts the heart
And bears it through the storm
To where the lichen crusted rocks
Cling to the clouds.
Part of my heart remains there
Scattered with the ashes of a lost love
Mingled with the joy and pain of memory,
Of childhood wonder and a lover’s kiss.
Deep the roots which bind me to that land,
Like the weathered pines that cling for life
To the purple hillside…
Genuflecting, but standing, still,
Naked in the mist.
Or the great stones,
Ice carved in aeons past
Into a landscape of dreams,
Marked by ancient hands
With figures of Light,
That I may stand beside them,
Millennia apart,
And recognise my kin.

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Extreme, Absolute and Sacred

dawn 0081

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There were three conversations yesterday about essentially the same subject. Three viewpoints, three different perspectives.  And a blog post that I just scrapped as over-complicated.

When we began working to build the Silent Eye, it quickly became obvious that there needed to be a melding, a synthesis, of approach to the Work. For those who haven’t come across the School yet, let me explain. We seek to create a School of Consciousness that has its feet firmly rooted in the soil of this life, is not fluffy and yet reaches for the Divine, by whatever Name you choose to call It. That which Is neither within nor without but which pervades All. We see a need to bring the intellect to bear so that knowledge and reason play a significant part, and for the emotions to be engaged so that what is discovered is both felt and experienced vividly, so that it is Lived in full awareness.

Most of all, we see a need to practice what we preach, and that means learning to Live and Be as fully as we can on all levels. It is a natural state and at the simplest level requires only that we accept ourselves as we truly and fully are. And that, of course, is never as simple as it sounds.

It is easy to get caught up in the emotions of the mystic, the blaze of Light blinding our eyes to the everyday realities of life and growth. There is a yearning for oneness with the One where the world can be forgotten. Or we can become so lost in study and the pursuit of knowledge that we lose sight of the reason for which we began the quest, stalling over questions and speculations to which we may never find an answer. There is a fine line, however, between the two where they blend and fuse into what one could call an alchemical marriage.

This blending and melding is also part of the key to the Work, where on yet another axis both human and divine can be fully realised in a life. This spiritual evolution happens whether we will or no, slowly and inexorably over time. It is when we enter into this quest consciously, however, that we become aware of its impact on our lives. By actively seeking that growth we engage with aspects of ourselves and the greater reality and find what one could call an accelerated evolution.

Preparing one of the presentations for the School’s launch weekend, the Song of the Troubadour in April 2013, a dear friend and I have been delving into the symbolism in medieval art. There is a particular painting where the Christ is portrayed standing in the river at the moment of baptism. The reflections in the water are not those of the world around Him, but are subtly different. We were discussing this yesterday, wondering if this were an attempt to portray the altered perspective and clarity of vision that comes when one learns to walk in the world fully in both the human and divine aspects of Self.

dawn 005

This threw up another train of thought and the third conversation. Most faiths and paths teach us to leave the ego behind and forget self, striving towards the ethereal goal of Divinity. This puts the Divine at a distance and leaves us stripping ourselves bare, flaying ourselves on the thorns of life in an attempt to reach for an intangible dream. Yet these same schools of thought also tell us that we are part of God, of His creation, or are his children. And they call it Love. Which means there is no distance and we are striving for something we can find within our innermost selves, in each other and in everything around us.  And suddenly you are confronted with this glimpse of Glory and have to realise it is part of the greatest Ego there is… and It is part of you.

Just to make things even more complicated, some of us are driven to find a way to teach that without looking like members of the lunatic fringe.

It is a spiritual culture shock, glimpsing something so truly Awesome through the myopic eyes of life, wondering who on earth we are to be worthy of It, yet sensing also that we are OF It and a way must be found to reconcile the two and simply Be It.

Which, as I said to my friend, is a bit of a bugger to come to terms with.

 

Blinded by the Light…

*

… So, we return to the quest and turn shining eyes to the south.

Not that we ever left it, yet the churches had definitely ‘fallen off-line’…

Until Skipton.

Until one particular stained-glass window in Skipton.

It is tempting to think that later traditions lose much that is essential to preceding ones.

In magical traditions derived from the Hebrews, the Archangel Mikael is a guardian of the south quarter and if a ‘Michael Window’ is present in a church, it is a relatively safe bet that it will be found on a south wall of that church.

So, why were we charging around St Michael’s, Hathersage, looking at stained-glass windows on the north wall, with such singular precision?

Because we were desirous of another window.

This headlong, wilful charge, bugles blaring, could well have been our undoing, had we been alone.

There was no ‘Michael Window’ in St Michael’s, Hathersage.

But there was this…

*

*

So, what to say about this banner?

It is a work of art, certainly.

It is a work of art that transcends the medieval style of its composition, although, the ‘S’ as an ‘eight’ and the ‘M’ as an ‘omega’ are both remarkable.

The ‘lance’ too, as ‘Celtic crozier’, is a sublime touch.

*

Was the dragon always golden?

*

Does this hue, denote the beginning or even the end of a process?

*

Was the beast once much bigger?

*

Is this really how one earns one’s ‘spiritual wings’?

*

The spirals on the Saint’s shield are, to say the least, suggestive…

“What if the Dragon is time?” Says Wen…

*

NUANCES OF NICOLL

The Keys to Heaven

Stuart France

Available via Amazon

Psychologist, Maurice Nicoll studied under Fourth Way exponents G.I Gurdjieff and  P.D. Ouspensky, and presented his own philosophy in a series of works published during the Mid Twentieth Century.

In his seminal work, Living Time… he makes no bones about insisting that the psychological states and concepts that he is expounding, and their utilisation, are ancient and stretch back through Christianity, Judaism, the Greek Philosophers and on into the mysterious climes of Pre-Dynastic Egypt…

In re-presenting these ideas as a series of poetic explorations, author and essayist, Stuart France uncovers a series of links with the Mediaeval Traditions of the Northmen, and the Matter of Britain!

What is the original story of our week? How does the moon harrow hell? Prepare to be enthralled, entertained, educated, and enlightened, as new light is shed on the enigmatic figures of Wotan, Merlin, and King Arthur.

They do not write books like this anymore, if indeed they ever did!