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Old 01-02-2010   #21
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Re: Arthur Machen and The House of the Hidden Light

I'll probably go with the later though how whimsically it was intended is up to debate. The personal interior strangeness the complex phraseology mask are probably ment in earnest.

From a purely practical perspective the narrative seems to follow little set out ritual pattern or formula. To my eye the exchanges seem far to random to be a coded rites. If the whole thing was ment as a magical text it certainly wasn't intended to be an instructional one. (though the themes and general aim remain similar the same the only thing set down with any great goal seems the Three forms of Light notion)

It is interesting to note that towards the end Waite refers to the narrative as possibly being their journey through the White Stage of the Alchemical Process* For Machen's life at least the years proceeding the Annus mirabilis fill the role of the Nigredo very well.**

*Presumably the three stage process since he previously mentions the black state of the stone and anticipates a “glow and redness”.

** Chapters IX & X of Things Near and Far gives an interesting look at the strange times that immediately followed Machen “blackest point”
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Old 01-05-2010   #22
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Re: Arthur Machen and The House of the Hidden Light

I’m quite convinced that The House of the Hidden Light was an elaborate game played by Machen and Waite. It records their meetings and relationships with various women, some of them requiring discretion. A number of people have tried finding an occult significance in the text (including Crowley) but have failed, and this seems no more than wishful thinking in the light of Bob Gilbert’s extensive research. That is not to say that it isn’t of some significance….

I don’t think The House of the Hidden Light can be considered a hoax or a spoof because it doesn’t seem to have been intended for general circulation. A great deal of trouble was taken to print just three copies (there was also at least one set of proofs.) The man who paid for the printing and who put in all of the effort on behalf of the authors was Wellby, Waite’s publisher at the time. In return he received one of the three copies. It would be interesting to know whether he had hopes of publishing it properly, or was simply content to create a bibliographical rarity. (He apparently guessed the identity of some of the hidden characters in the book.)

Here is the key (as far as I am concerned), from Bob Gilbert’s Introduction to the Tartarus edition:

Both men knew the extreme difficulty of conveying through the written word the true nature and content of mystical experience, indeed of any type of experience associated with exalted psycho-spiritual states. Machen addressed the problem through the lyrical prose of his fiction, and Waite approached it by way of ritual texts for the ceremonies of his various esoteric Orders. Transforming the mock-serious letters of their Annus Mirabilis, so that adventures in this world could be made to represent a spiritual quest, provided another avenue.

As Machen entrusted Waite with the final revisions (and allowed him to “forge” at least one letter) to make it artistically and ritually coherent, it seems to have been more Waite’s project than Machen’s. I think Bob Gilbert is right to say that it was an attempt to represent a spiritual quest by way of a ritual text. That is far more interesting to me than the idea of it being an occult text.
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Old 01-05-2010   #23
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Re: Arthur Machen and The House of the Hidden Light

Quote Originally Posted by tartarusrussell View Post
I’m quite convinced that The House of the Hidden Light was an elaborate game played by Machen and Waite. It records their meetings and relationships with various women, some of them requiring discretion. A number of people have tried finding an occult significance in the text (including Crowley) but have failed, and this seems no more than wishful thinking in the light of Bob Gilbert’s extensive research. That is not to say that it isn’t of some significance….
Didn't he think some of the entries were actual letters or journal entries (afterwards changed into the esoteric jargon of The House) Waite speaks about editing out some of the "more intimate" parts. I wonder if any of the original letters it was based on survive.

Out of interest what was Edith Rosse's last name before she married in 1902? (not sure about the date). In most things about Machen I've read she is refered to as Vivienne Pierpont, presumably her stage name.

Quote Originally Posted by tartarusrussell View Post
I don’t think The House of the Hidden Light can be considered a hoax or a spoof because it doesn’t seem to have been intended for general circulation. A great deal of trouble was taken to print just three copies (there was also at least one set of proofs.) The man who paid for the printing and who put in all of the effort on behalf of the authors was Wellby, Waite’s publisher at the time. In return he received one of the three copies. It would be interesting to know whether he had hopes of publishing it properly, or was simply content to create a bibliographical rarity. (He apparently guessed the identity of some of the hidden characters in the book.)
Yes, it was Welby's copy that went walk about about wasn't it? I think we turned one of the site news posts into a discussion about Crowley & Machen a few months back. A site member; MorganScropion, exaimined it and Crowley's copy of The House of Souls years ago.
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Old 01-05-2010   #24
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Re: Arthur Machen and The House of the Hidden Light

Hi Evans,

The book is apparently based upon the original letters exchanged by the two “Fraters”, which Waite then edited. Waite’s own side of the correspondence doesn’t appear to have survived (which raises the question of him keeping copies, or Machen sending them back for publication.) Bob Gilbert says that Machen’s letters were dispersed in the 1970s, and so may be available for comparison with the book at some time in the future?

Edith Rosse is a fascinating character. (I don’t believe that anyone has tracked down her maiden name?) Machen and Rosse (The Shepherdess because she had been married to Harry Sheppard, who died tragically at sea), Waite and Dora Stuart-Menteath presumably had a fine old time gadding-about in turn-of-the-century London. Arthur and Edith were presumably drawn to each other following the recent deaths of their spouses.

Yes, Pierpont was her stage-name. Godfrey Brangham wrote an interesting article about her in Faunus (the journal of the Friends of Arthur Machen) She met the dodgy Maundy Gregory who may well have murdered the poor woman for money (which she may well have obtained through blackmail in the first place.) Hers is a fascinating but rather sad story.

Yes, Wellby’s copy of The House of the Hidden Light is the one that resurfaced, through Gerald Yorke. Newport Reference Library have a photocopy, with the annotations apparently by poor old baffled Crowley. I have a photocopy (a couple of generations old by this time) of this version but it doesn’t offer any insights.
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Old 01-05-2010   #25
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Re: Arthur Machen and The House of the Hidden Light

Hello Ray, thanks for the info. Sorry to bombard you with questions.


Quote Originally Posted by tartarusrussell View Post
Bob Gilbert says that Machen’s letters were dispersed in the 1970s, and so may be available for comparison with the book at some time in the future?
Doesn't he quote one in a footnote? About an incident were they had been drinking in Menteath's rooms and the parlour maid had tripped over the recumbent (and generously inebriated) Machen in the dark.

Quote Originally Posted by tartarusrussell View Post
Edith Rosse is a fascinating character. (I don’t believe that anyone has tracked down her maiden name?) Machen and Rosse (The Shepherdess because she had been married to Harry Sheppard, who died tragically at sea), Waite and Dora Stuart-Menteath presumably had a fine old time gadding-about in turn-of-the-century London. Arthur and Edith were presumably drawn to each other following the recent deaths of their spouses.

Yes, Pierpont was her stage-name. Godfrey Brangham wrote an interesting article about her in Faunus (the journal of the Friends of Arthur Machen) She met the dodgy Maundy Gregory who may well have murdered the poor woman for money (which she may well have obtained through blackmail in the first place.) Hers is a fascinating but rather sad story.
Yes I knew about Gregory thing. He was another very strange fellow.


Quote Originally Posted by tartarusrussell View Post
Yes, Wellby’s copy of The House of the Hidden Light is the one that resurfaced, through Gerald Yorke. Newport Reference Library have a photocopy, with the annotations apparently by poor old baffled Crowley. I have a photocopy (a couple of generations old by this time) of this version but it doesn’t offer any insights.
Ahhh I think Morgan saw the Yorke copy at the Courthauld Institute library. Strangely enough the British Library itself doesn't appear to have a copy (By that I mean a text copy or the Tartarus Press printing)
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Old 01-05-2010   #26
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Re: Arthur Machen and The House of the Hidden Light

I'll have to look up that footnote. I don't recall it, but it sounds very likley

If the BL don't have a copy of our edition I'm not sure I have a spare to send them. Maybe it will add to the enigma . . .
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Old 01-20-2010   #27
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Re: Arthur Machen and The House of the Hidden Light

Last night I read a fantastic essay on Arthur Machen in the new issue of ABRAXAS: An International Journal of Esoteric Studies (Autumn Equinox 2009) titled, "Transmutations of Good and Evil: Alchemy, Witchcraft and the Graal in the Works of Arthur Machen" by Edward Gauntlet. It's quite long, in-depth, and full of great info. It was packed full of stuff I didn't know about Machen and some fantastic analysis of his work, primarily "The Great God Pan" and "The White People".

It really gets into why Machen had such a strong connection/inspiration with place and Welsh psychogeography. It also mentions why he and the Golden Dawn weren't such a great fit (which he later admitted), as his innate mystical leanings leaned more towards Welsh witchcraft and sabbatic contact with pagan forces/intelligences rather than the precise operations employed in hermeticism. It contains a lot of food for thought. It also discusses how latter day occultists, like Kenneth Grant and Ithell Colquhoun have found deep & powerful esoteric content in his stories, of which, perhaps, even Machen wasn't aware; possibly included unconsciously.

It appears Machen had a lot more occult knowledge than I gave him credit. According to Edward Gauntlet, Machen worked for years in a private library sorting and cataloging arcane texts. This library contained one of the largest collections of rare occult texts in Britain. Gauntlet claims Machen read these rare tomes voraciously. Further, the author believes Machen had more occult insight (both instinctive and learned) than even Aleister Crowley -- quite a statement. It's a wonderful read. In fact, ABRAXAS is a very high quality journal in general. Highly recommended.

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Old 01-21-2010   #28
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Re: Arthur Machen and The House of the Hidden Light

The ABRAXAS article sounds fascinating - I'll have to get hold of a copy.

I'm not sure it is quite correct to suggest, though, that Machen worked for years in a private library sorting and cataloguing arcane texts. The instance referred to is presumably the job he had in 1885 cataloguing occult literature for George Redway. He seems to have gained a very wide knowledge of all manner of occult matters through this, and presumably continued his own personal researches down avenues that he found most interesting. (The history of the Holy Graal being something of an obsession.) The Redway period is a very interesting one in Machen's life and obviously had far-reaching effects on his development as a writer (although the effects would often be quite subtle and, yes, perhaps unconscious.)

Whether or not Machen had more occult insight than Crowley depends, perhaps, not just on one's feelings towards Crowley, but the occult in general. I assume that, as with the Golden Dawn, Machen would have dismissed any organised occultism as a sham, but with roots in the past that couldn't (and shouldn't) be dismissed?
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Old 01-25-2010   #29
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Re: Arthur Machen and The House of the Hidden Light

Regardless of any real relevance for the stories I adore some of the wonderful terms occult and particuarly alchemic texts contain. I don't know why but I find them so fascinating and beautiful. (I don't have much occult knoweldge but this area delights me. And I speak no more for I have been burnt by the Fire of the Wise...)

Quote Originally Posted by The New Nonsense View Post
It appears Machen had a lot more occult knowledge than I gave him credit. According to Edward Gauntlet, Machen worked for years in a private library sorting and cataloging arcane texts. This library contained one of the largest collections of rare occult texts in Britain. Gauntlet claims Machen read these rare tomes voraciously. Further, the author believes Machen had more occult insight (both instinctive and learned) than even Aleister Crowley -- quite a statement. It's a wonderful read. In fact, ABRAXAS is a very high quality journal in general. Highly recommended.
Yes there is a bit about the cataloguing business (and Machen's views on occult texts in general) in the first chapters of Things Near And Far. There used to be a short but very splendid article on The White People on Jessica Amanda Salmson's website but I think the link is dead now. (Though if we are in the business of throwing Male and Female Principle names at statues I say Lilith and Samael are so much more appropriate than Gog and Magog.)

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Old 01-28-2010   #30
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Re: Arthur Machen and The House of the Hidden Light

Quote Originally Posted by Evans View Post
There used to be a short but very splendid article on The White People on Jessica Amanda Salmson's website but I think the link is dead now.
Maybe, this?
The Shock of the Numinous: Arthur Machen's "The White People"
commentary by rbadac
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