“AE” [George Russell], Candle of Vision [1925; rev. 1937] (Coracle Press 2008) – Extracts.

[Source: Fiona Gault, ‘Subterranean Journey and the Symbol: the Spirituality of Poetic Appetite’ - UG Dissertation, UUC 2009.]

There is nothing incredible in the assumption that every cell in the body is wrapped about with myriad memories. He who attributes least mystery to matter is furthest from truth, and he nighest who conjectures the Absolute to be present in fullness of being in the atom.

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If I am reproached for the supposition that the soul of earth preserves memory of itself by casting off instant by instant enduring images of its multitudinous life, I am only saying of nature in its fullness what visible nature is doing in its own fashion without cessation.

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These myths were born
out of the spirit of man and drew their meaning
From that unplumbed profundity. I think
In after ages they will speak to us
With deeper voices and meanings. In one age
Men turn to the world about them and forget
Their old descent from heaven.


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It is only when I turn to the literature of vision and intuition, to the sacred books and to half sacred tradition, to the poets and seers that I find a grandiose conception of nature in which every spiritual experience is provided for. I have not entered the paradises they entered but what little I know finds its place in the universe of their vision. Whether they are Syrian, Greek, Egyptian or Hindu, the writers of the sacred books seem to me as men who had all gazed upon the same august vision and reported of the same divinity. Even in our own Gaelic wonder tales I often find a vision which is, I think, authentic, and we can, I believe, learn from these voyages to the Heaven-world more of the geography of the spirit and the many mansions in the being of the Father than we can from the greatest of our sightless philosophers. The Earth-world, Mid-world, Heaven-world and God-world spoken of in the Indian scriptures are worlds our Gaelic ancestors had also knowledge of. When Connac enters the Heaven-world and is told by those who inhabit it, “Whenever we imagine the fields to be sown they are sown. Whenever we imagine the fields to be reaped they are reaped,” he saw the same world as the seer who wrote in the marvellous Upanishad: “There are no chariots there or roads for chariots. The soul makes for itself chariots and roads for chariots. There are no joys or rejoicings there. The soul makes for itself joys and rejoicings. For the spirit of man is creator.” The visionaries of the future will finally justify the visionaries of the past.

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It is those who live and grow swiftly, and who continually compare what is without with what is within, who have this certainly. Those who do not change see no change and recognise no law.

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He who has followed even in secrecy many lights of the spirit can see one by one the answering torches gleam. When I was made certain about this I accepted what befell with resignation. I knew that all I met was part of myself and that what I could not comprehend was related by affinity to some yet unrealised forces in my being. We have within us the Lamp of the World; and Nature, the genie, is Slave of the Lamp, and must fashion life about us as we fashion it within ourselves. We are indeed most miserable when we dream we have no power over circumstance, and I account it the highest wisdom to know this of the living universe that there is no destiny in it other than that we make for ourselves. How the spirit is kindled, how it feels its power, when, outwardly quiet, it can see the coming and going of life, as it dilates within itself or is still! Then do we move in miracle and wonder. Then does the universe appear to us as it did to the Indian sage who said that to him who was perfect in meditation all rivers were sacred as the Ganges and all speech was holy.

 

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