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  • Magic Ritual Disaster, 1983 December 8, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary , trackback

    gareth knight

    Greystone was a converted manor house in Wiltshire (UK) that Gareth Knight (pictured), perhaps the most celebrated post-war British ritualist, used for his magic. From 1977 to 1983 a series of rituals were carried out by Gareth to connect the upper with the lower world: the aim was to bring earth and the underworld back into tune with each other. Participants mediated before coming to Wiltshire on ‘a dark goddess’, hell and destructive energy and ‘releasing the souls beneath the sea in [‘Atlantis’s] collapse’. There are no particular vivid memories of the first six rituals but the seventh and last in 1983 made a strong impression on those who lived through it and may entertain or interest some readers: Beach is not a believer in magic, btw, but certainly believes in the power of the unconscious and apparently attendees were so shook by the events of that day that they ran outside and linked arms around a tree! When, for example, Tanya Luhrmann (Persuasions of the Witch’s Craft) spoke to ‘Tom’ while investigating the New Age in London in the late 1980s, she was struck by how the 1983 ritual had changed him (286).

    ‘I’m not so sure that even [Gareth Knight] was aware of everything that happened… I always ‘believed’ in my ‘belief’ [in magic]’ but after May 1983 ‘I’ve had experience, I know’.

    Another group of participants were told that they would be dead within a year by a helpful medium (227): they didn’t die.

    So what actually happened. Beach quotes from Luhrmann.

    Two high level magicians, considered by the others to be adepts, worked together as they had done in all previous occasions. Knight, as usual, was responsible for designing the ritual action. Normally, he and his (female) partner would sit facing opposite each other, with ritual officers on either side. But this year, Knight placed his wife in the centre of the foursome and the displaced partner explained ‘but the magical flow won’t go through living bodies… [Knight’s wife] was going on about her impressions when suddenly I got a strong contact… I told [the contact], go back, go back, we’re not ready yet. And it got furious. At one point, Knight leant around his wife and said, ‘Are you are all right, Augusta?’ Something in me snapped. You don’t use Christian names in a magical ceremony… I let [the contact ‘this thing’] loose, and it walloped Knight. He rocked slightly. Then it picked me up and strode down the corridor with me until it left.’ She collapsed, apparently gasping and shaking, clutching the wall. (140)

    And what actually, actually happened? Well, it is tempting to speculate that there was some unusual personality clashes here between ‘Augusta’, Gareth Knight and Knight’s wife, which, was projected onto a back screen of hell, escaping souls buried beneath the sea and ‘a dark goddess’, which got everyone running for the nearest tree. Gareth Knight clearly found this episode interesting as well and wrote about it in I Called It Magic. He describes first how  he intended to ‘restore order and balance and release some of the pent up Atlantean powers in an equilibrated manner’ (112-113).

    As the work proceeded I began to sense that something was not right with Dolores [aka Augusta, one or both authors have changed her name] in the west, who had elected to arm herself with a strange looking staff. I asked her if all was well with her, at which she rose to her feet, apparently completely possessed.  Obviously she had been taken over again, this time by some dominating male figure, and evidently all was not well with him! He badly wanted to take over the show. After uttering a series of hardly coherent but obviously displeased remarks, Dolores turned and rushed down the hall and out through the door. Indeed, had the guardian not thrown it open just in time she might well have crashed straight into it! (113)

    Later Knight had revealed to him by a couple in his group that the ‘interloper who took over Dolores was no less than Merlin, who had thus deliberately broken up the working into parts so that the two of them could perform sex magic in their rooms at the same time that Roma and I were going through the work again in the hall.’ Knight was sceptical.

    Did anyone tell the Daily Mail?

    Dolores/Augusta may have another version of events to tell: drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com as may others who were there that day.