Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Green Children of Woolpit.

In the Chronicum Anglicanum of Ralph of Coggeshall and the Historia rerum Anglicarum of William of Newburgh, we find a record of a fascinating marvel which was said to have occurred in the village of Woolpit in Suffolk, at some point in the twelfth century. Woolpit was named from the Old English wulf-pytt, which were deep trenches which had been excavated to trap wolves. It is said that one year during the harvest, two mysterious children emerged from one of these ditches. Their skin was light green in hue, and their clothes were also an unusual colour, fashioned from a material the local reapers didn’t recognise.

As the language the children spoke was also unfamiliar, they were brought to the home of a local landowner named Sir Richard de Calne. Here, the children remained distraught, and refused to eat any of the food that was presented to them for a few days. Finally, the villagers brought them fresh beans with the green stalks still attached, and the children were happy to eat these.

It seems that of the two, the girl, who was the eldest, was far better equipped to survive away from whatever home the children had wandered from. The boy, on the other hand, became depressed, wasted away, and died. The girl prospered. She was baptised, adopted the name ‘Agnes’, gradually lost her anomalous green skin tone, and eventually married. She had adapted to the ways of the human world, though perhaps not fully, as Ralph of Coggeshall noted that she was “rather loose and wanton in her conduct.”

When later queried regarding how she and the boy had arrived in Woolpit, she told the following story. She and the boy (who was her brother) came from a place of perpetual twilight which she called the “Land of Saint Martin.” There everybody was green like the children had been. Like the Underworld of antique Greek myth, the Land of Saint Martin was bordered by an expansive river, across whose banks could be seen a mysterious luminous country. One day, ‘Agnes’ and her brother were tending their father’s flock in the fields. The children followed the animals into a cavern, where they heard the sound of bells chiming. Following the sound, the children went deeper and deeper into the cave, until they finally arrived at a bright exit, whereupon they stepped out into the blinding sunlight of Woolpit in the height of the harvest.

There has been little agreement as to whether the story is a pure folk tale, or a garbled account of some real historical event. There are indeed elements of the story that would suggest both. The idea of caves or caverns as points of entry into the Otherworld is an extremely common motif in folk-tales and the antique mythologies of various nations; similarly, the Children refusing to eat until they are presented with the green-stalked beans is strongly suggestive of the internal logic of correspondence common to many folk-tales. However, it is extremely rare for visitors from the Otherworld to actually stay in ours; the Green Children of Woolpit is perhaps the only ever instance of this. To those who would take the perilous but very pleasing expedient of taking the tale largely at face value, several exotic explanations present themselves. The Children may have been refugees from some subterranean country akin the imaginary cavern worlds which were popular in the scientific romances of the 18th century, and are avowed a reality by some occultists to this day. To a modern reader, the Children might suggest stranded extra-terrestrials of some kind, and this interpretation of the tale goes back much further than you would imagine. In the Anatomy of Melancholy of 1621, Robert Burton opined that the Children might have “fallen from Heaven”, an idea which found its way into Francis Goodwin’s fancy The Man in the Moone (1638), a work sometimes regarded as the very earliest example of science fiction.

Whatever its ultimate origin, the endlessly suggestive beauty, simplicity, and perfection of the tale cannot be denied. A village sign in Woolpit today depicts the children in silhouette; local folk singer and author Bob Roberts wrote in his 1978 A Slice of Suffolk: "I was told there are still people in Woolpit who are 'descended from the green children', but nobody would tell me who they were!" Perhaps the visitors from beyond the ditch are with us still.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Market Hermes: A Quotation Cut-Up.

I believe that the moment is near when by a procedure of active paranoiac thought, it will be possible to systematize confusion and contribute to the total discrediting of the world of reality.

Salvador Dali.

The market-place of Pharai (in Achea) is an old-fashioned, big enclosure, with a stone statue of Hermes in the middle that has a beard: it stands on the mere earth, block-shaped, of no great size….They call it Market Hermes and it has a traditional oracle. In front of the statue is a stone headstone, with bronze lamps stuck onto it with lead. You come in the evening to consult the god, burn incense on the hearthstone, and fill up the lamps with oil; then you light them all and put a local coin on the alter to the right of the god; and then you whisper in the god’s ear whatever your question is. Then you stop up your ears and go out of the market-place, and when you get out, take your hands away from your ears and whatever phrase you hear next is the oracle.

Pausanias, Guide to Rome.

At close range, the UFO phenomenon acts as a reality transformer (or, in Bertrand Meheust’s words, a reality exchanger), triggering for the witness a series of blinking colored lights of extraordinary intensity, inducing a state of intense confusion for the subjects who are vulnerable to the insertion of new thoughts and new visual experiences.

Like the technology of the cinema, the UFO technology is a meta-system. It generates whatever phenomena are appropriate at our level, at a given epoch, in a given state of the “market”.

Jacques Vallee.

The only images capable of conveying a lofty idea are those which create in one’s consciousness a state of surprise and insecurity calculated to raise this consciousness to the level of the idea in question, where it can be grasped in all its freshness and strength. Magic rites and genuine poetry serve no other purpose.

Louis Pauwels, Jacques Bergier, The Morning of the Magicians.

The person who experiences the fantastic event must opt for one of two possible solutions: either he is the victim an of illusion of the senses, of a product of the imagination – and laws of the world then remain what they are; or else the event has indeed taken place, it is an integral part of reality – but then his reality is controlled by laws unknown to us…..The fantastic occupies the duration of this uncertainty.


Many are they who, looking at a painting or listening to a piece of music, have shared the sensations of “otherness” imparted to the work by artists who created it.

Unusual juxtapositions of colour, a mysterious massing of shades, strange perspectives such as those introduced by Chirico or Delvaux, have the power to plunge the mind into aeonic and nightmare abysses. The weird spectres of Max Ernst; Dalinian pavements haunted by the elongated shadows of dusk; Bertiaux’s fourth dimensional cubes and astral portraits of the “Deep Ones” from the gulfs of space, all are potent to release the mind from its mundane limitations, thus permitting the full flowering of the obsessive ideal. All the mantras of magick and the spells of sorcery are vibrated and cast with the intent of releasing consciousness from the thraldom of the physical body.

But there is another faculty of human consciousness, the intuitive or “inseeing” faculty; one might almost describe it as the fourth dimensional faculty. It is a faculty that appears sometimes in the artist, the poet, the occultist, and in a certain kind of scientist, and it functions also, though rarely, in almost everybody. It is epitomized on the Tree of Life by the third sphira, Binah, the Sphere of Understanding. Not the understanding of empirical things, but the insight into the hidden side of things made possible by a sudden total identity of the mind with its substratum, pure consciousness, wherein all ideas are stored and which under stands, or stands under, the mechanism of mentation.

Kenneth Grant.

We are like flies crawling across the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel: We cannot see what angels and gods lie underneath the threshold of our perceptions. We do not live in reality; we live in our paradigms, our habituated perceptions, our illusions; the illusions we share through culture we call reality, but the true historical reality of our condition is invisible to us.

William Irwin Thompson.

The apparent incoherence of bees in flight, the dances executed by them, are, so it is thought, precise mathematical figures and constitute a language. I would like to write a novel wherein all the experiences of a life, the fleeting ones and the significant ones, chance ones and inevitable ones, would equally compose precise figures – would in fact disclose themselves for what they may well be: a subtle discourse addressed to the soul to help it accomplish itself: a discourse of which the soul comprehends, in its entire life, only a few disjointed phrases.

Louis Pauwels, Jacques Bergier, The Morning of the Magicians.

The literature of fantasy and the fantastic, especially in science fiction, is much in demand, but we still do not know its intimate relationship with the different occult traditions.

Mircea Eliade.

Whereas such marvels are vociferously denied (or simply ignored) in the halls of academic respectability, they are enthusiastically embraced in contemporary fiction, film, and fantasy. We are obviously fascinated by such things and will pay billions of dollars for their special display, and yet we will not talk about them, not at least in any serious and sustained way. Popular culture is our mysticism. The public realm is our esoteric realm.

Jeffrey J Kripal.

We are from Kansas. We are from ANYWHERE, but we’ll be in Cuba tomorrow.

Thinner and thinner hedges, in the garden of our destiny, separate us from a perfectly preserved Yesterday and a completely formed Tomorrow. Our life, as Alain remarked, “is on the brink of wide open spaces.”

Louis Pauwels, Jacques Bergier, The Morning of the Magicians.

Men do not sufficiently realize that their future is in their own hands…..Theirs is the responsibility, then, for deciding if they merely want to live, or intend to make just the extra effort required for fulfilling, even on their refractory planet, the essential function of the universe, which is a machine for the making of gods.

Henri Bergson.