Paul Andruss, author of Thomas the Rhymer and Finn Mac Cool, reviews “The Initiate”. Paul blogs at Odds and Sods: A Cabinet of Curiosties.
I have only read spiritual writing as a tourist, never a seeker. Yet I am often captivated by the images the words conjure in my imagination. Sometimes it feels like a thousand lights are turned on inside, while I peer greedily through a chink in the curtains. Standing open-mouthed, gawking in wonder at glimpsed fragments, without ever knowing the whole.
Is this not our world? The infinite casually swapped for the instant; meaning for sensation. We insatiably wade through today in search of tomorrow, relegating each experience to yet another tick on the bucket list. Tick… tick… tick… tick… tick… like the second hand of a clock, punctuating infinity. Cherry picking a soundbite here, a photograph there; souvenirs to prove we dared brave unknown realms.
It is not possible to review Sue Vincent and Stuart France’s ‘The Initiate’ as a novel, for it is not plot or character driven, instead it is a revelation – in the true sense of the word. It is to be experienced not dissected.
‘The Initiate’ belongs to that ancient and revered tradition where a physical journey is synonymous with the soul’s progress to enlightenment. The same device was used in ‘The Epic of Gligamesh’: the first story ever written down. It is found in sacred texts from India, Persia and China, in ‘The Golden Ass’ and ‘The Clementine Recognitions’, and even John Bunyan’s ‘Pilgrim’s Progres’s. It was used as a teaching tool by Gurdjieff, Blavatsky, the magicians of the Golden Dawn, Don Juan Matus and Lobsang Rampa.
But that does not mean it is earnest or dull. It is actually a light and enjoyable read. You find yourself saying…oh just one page more then I really must get on! And then saying the same thing twenty minutes later!
Those familiar with the Sue and Stuart’s writings know what to expect and will relish the breathless adventure they are about to be plunged into. As for the novice, rather than the initiate, I advise you to hold onto your hat for it will be a bumpy ride. Often you will not know where you are going, or appreciate what you see. But when emerging on the far side you will know yourself changed. You will not be able to say how, for you will not know, but you will know something happened; inside: where it counts.
Sue and Stuart’s writing about the ancient, mystical British landscape is no simple travelogue. It is not like visiting a tourist trap where all you find is a frozen moment caught out of context. Unless knowledgeable in history and folklore you have no idea of purpose or reason for the ancient landscape that surrounds you. Even if you know the what, you cannot appreciate the why. Why sacred places endure over the aeons. Why they continue to fascinate even in today’s bubble-world of instant gratification and electrickery.
In the guise of Wen and Don, Sue and Stuart provide an eclectic and erudite commentary on the sacred ancient landscape that is rich in myth and meaning. Although we may dimly be aware of some things they say, most lie beyond our day to day. So in that case, why do their words resonate so deeply in our collective unconscious?
Their prose, well poetry really, anchors the reader in a swirl of time and place where past, present and future collide; a world that stood for aeons before we came and will endure even longer after we cease to be. It is a shock to see it suddenly naked and unveiled. Like the blind man, cured at the holy well, we gape as a hawk spooks a raven on a misty morn. For an instant we see what our ancestors saw; the sun renewing the world, by forcing night to flee.
When young I read the Morning of the Magicians – a miscellany of the esoteric and occult. One passage stayed with me all my life. ‘This is not meant to be read cover to cover’, it said, ‘this is a tool to be used and re-used to meet your needs, whatever they may be at any moment in time.
The foreword went on to claim the book was a weapon against complacency; a psychic bomb to blow your mind. It was. And I was never again the same.
Now I offer another tool, just as potent. It will take you on a journey you cannot yet imagine. Until suddenly, cresting the hill, you see the world before you, so clearly that, in truth, you realise you were never anywhere else.