Esoteric Perth

Perth from the Hills

Something I have been meaning to do for a while, and which since the publication of me book has been of interest, is to a say a little about where we live – Perth, Western Australia. More particularly, about its esoteric dimensions. On the purely mundane-physical level, Perth is a wonderful place. Now a large city – too large for me – it is still a great place to live. Dubbed the ‘best kept secret’ in the world for many years, the city has been the favourite of many visitors to Australia for all sorts of reasons. When I stay with my beloved in the hills of Perth and drive down, seeing the whole city beneath me, I am always moved by awe and love for this wonderful home of mine.

Noongar Calendar for Perth

The land here is magnificent, though still bearing the pain and disruption of colonial advancement and aboriginal massacre. Our seasonal cycle is sixfold, something a small group of us discovered twenty years ago when we realised a reversed ‘Eight Sabbat Cycle’ was not right for the actual land we live in. We spent the better part of 1991 and 1992 attuning to and listening to the Land and eventually came up with the EarthDreaming cycle. Years later, we found the local Noongar recognise six seasons, though ours were out by about a month, mainly I feel ‘cos we get our food from supermarkets these days. (Most Pagan and Wiccan groups in Perth, apart from those in the EarthDreaming tradition, have done little to incorporate the actual Perth seasonal cycle in their rites and still work the imported Sabbat cycle created by Nichols and Gardner in the 40s.)

In 1962 astronaut John Glenn passed over Perth as part of his orbit of the earth and thousands of street and porch lights were left on so the city was clearly visible from space (the rest of Western Australia and the Indian ocean were completely dark). Ever since then Perth has been known as the City of Light. Some New Agers, Wiccans and others have appropriated this tag to refer to the special spiritual qualities of Perth, which I do honestly feel exist, and which are remarked upon continually by esoteric and New Age visitors. Not that Perth does not have its fair share of spiritual dodgyness – it certainly does :)

Atlantean author of the ritual?

Back in the 80s the buzz in New Age circles was that the ancient sunken city of Atlantis had moved ‘under’ Perth. Yes, under. No one I spoke to was quite sure how this remarkable feat had occurred, but several were sure it had occurred and were now ‘in contact’ with the ancient Atlantean Priests far below our fair land.  Perhaps this is the genesis of such wonderful spiritual rites as this The Full Moon Ritual of Atlantis which comes from a Perth Wiccan source at this time (no, I am not transcribing it). Note how, in true pluralistic Wiccan fashion, the magic circle is a ‘Gypsy’ circle, indeed a royal one – that of The Circle of Queyne Maude of the Gypsies. Nice. (I’m not transcribing this one either).

In any case, despite such unlikely tectonic manoeuvres, Perth does have a nice spiritual rep about it. When I attended a conference on spirituality back in 1989, the Buddhist and Muslim speakers were surprised to discover that each of their international groups sent people to Perth and Western Australia for spiritual retreat, recovery and pilgrimage.  And let’s be fair, it is a gorgeous place to live and has produced or attracted more than its fair share of esoteric and depth spiritual folk.

For example, Buddhism – most American Buddhist centres do not have a resident teacher; someone authorized to teach and holding regular lessons. Instead lay teachers may hold meditation meetings with their teacher visiting once or twice a year. Now in Perth, still a small-medium city, we certainly do have centres like this. For example, the Diamond Way centre of the controversial Lama Ole. However, we also have centres with resident Lamas and teachers. Just of the top of my head (please do not take offence if someone does not appear on this list) there are:

All of these teachers are also internationally regarded – they are the ones travelling to other places, giving Dharma talks

Church of St John the Divine, Perth

However, years before the Tibetan diaspora Buddhism, of a sort, had already been promoted in Perth by the Theosophical Society. The TS and its cousins, Co-Masonry and the Liberal Catholic Church all had major centres in Perth. The leading light of this triumvirate, C.W. Leadbeater, saw Australia as a special land in the forthcoming evolution of humankind and his second major hub in Oz, after Sydney, was Perth. He actually died here and his ashes are a stone’s throw away from where I type. Later the Theosophical Liberal Catholic flame was continued in Perth with several prominent Australian Theosophists and Bishops stemming from our fair city.

Once Perth had caught up to the cultural changes happening in the 1960s, Wicca came along. To be fair there had been (and still are) rumours of more ancient Pagan happenings in the hills of Perth going back to the 1920’s, but little evidence. Wicca though was big thing in the City of Light. The main Australian promoter and initiator of Wicca in Australia, the late Simon Goodman, was from Perth. Therefore, for a long time Perth was the Australian Witchcraft capital, and remained so for some time, even after Simon had moved to a cushy government job in Canberra where he made good use of the photocopier, copying entire books for his network of covens across Australia. He returned here to die, tragically young, on the Vernal Equinox in 1991, leaving his extensive collection of documents to Murdoch University which I catalogued shortly after his death.

Contemporary with Simon, but still going strong in all areas of life, another Perthite, the Rev Dr Gregory Tillett became one of the leading world authorities on the occult, Theosophy and many other matters. He still is :) Still in the 80s and 90s, Perth author, D. Jason Cooper published a number of good books on runes, numerology and other neat things with Llewellyn. At the same time, making good use of the ground broken by Simon Goodman, Perth became home to the first nationally recognised Neo-Pagan Church, The Church of Wicca, pipping the Canberra based Church of All Worlds to the title by a year or two. The CoW (an unfortunate acronym) was and is led by its flamboyant Arch-Priestess, Lady Tamara von Forslun, who it must be said annoyed more conservative and traditional Wiccans intensely. Despite once trying to convince me that a couple of vases (stamped on the bottom ‘made in India’) were from ‘the Temple of Diana’ in Rome and other shenanigans, I still have affection for the ol’ girl :)

So Perth has a fine and full esoteric history, and one that is continued today via the Internet, where a few of us have big shoes to full. Of the top of me head on the magical front alone, there is John McNair, esotericist, magician and musician for many years and producer of great Podcast interviews. Listen to his latest one with Bishop T. Allen Greenfield here.

Then there is the dashing and beautiful Mitzy Gaynor, a lady who is not afraid to tell it like it is, rub salt in self-inflicted wounds and challenge her Pagan community to give a damn and help stop kids starving in Africa. Mitzy also reminds me of the local Pagan charity WA-Pagan-Food-Pantry. And of course, there is the wonderful Fr. MvdV, magician in the esoteric Masonic tradition who has taken a break from Internet activity for a while, but who I hope will be back. All three, I am proud to say, were present at my book launch (Mitzy reverse-dragged up by donning a false beard and a bald-wig). There is also a fine and strong Wiccan and Pagan presence from Perth online – the excellent  Chaos Witch Blog – unscrewing the universe one lightbulb at a time (who can resist such a sub-title) and Teachings from the Temple, to name but two.

So, that’s Perth…small in one way, but very present in our online and esoteric world :) Yay for Perth!

20 comments

  1. Morgan Drake Eckstein · August 17, 2012

    I have dealt with several other occultists from Perth (online that is) and have came to the conclusion that Perth is just a hotbed of occult activity.

  2. I’m so honoured to have rated a mention! Don’t forget our local charity project http://www.facebook.com/pages/WA-Pagan-Food-Pantry/211390802279632. Re: lady Tamara, she copped an enormous amount of unwarranted abuse around the time of CoWA’s demise. This culminated in a Worst Australian front page gender-shaming article prompted by a small pack of disgruntled ex-members. I found that I usually disagreed vehemently with what she said in print, but her treatment by the community and press was appalling.

  3. Peregrin · August 17, 2012

    @Mitzy… whoops… sorry have now updated the page…thanks :) As for Lady Tamara, your words echo my thoughts exactly. I first defended her being attacked (but not her opinions etc) back in Rubicon 2, 1992. Nothing has changed between then and eve now…

  4. Peregrin · August 17, 2012

    @Morgan…hotbed… I like the sounds of that :)

  5. @Morgan yes we’re occult as fuck here :-D

  6. Lee · August 17, 2012

    Great article! I mainly spearhead the SCOTIF wordpress and it has basically died in the pants due to my diminishing enthusiasm (and our circle’s semi-hiatus), but ‘flipping the wheel’ has felt more and more false for me recently and we are cautious to incorporate the 6 Noongar seasons, which are indeed referenced in some of my accounts in our solstice celebrations via your link, due to fear of cultural appropriation and paying lip service to something we know little about beyond a link on the interwebs and the gazebo in King’s Park. I have tried my best in my own practice to observe the local seasons while at the same time still acknowledge the quarters and cross-quarters, which do have a certain celestial consistency beyond seasonal flux. I am reading your link about working with the land now- such great information!

    I especially like this article as it counteracts an insistent thread of reasoning (from those who find the SCOTIF web presence on the web so often, despite our status as definite ‘Eclectic Small Fry’ in the pagan community, anyone would think we were the only pagan group in Perth online) that there is nothing in Perth and it is impossible to find groups, open events, or general goings-on. I can sort of see their point of view as it seems to require a great deal of digging to get at anything decent and the dominant status quo insists that TvF essentially destroyed the Wiccan community in Perth single-handedly via the stroke of a sword… or something. The drama happened before my ‘time’ and my main source of interaction with the community is through the Combined Covens events but all I know of her is that she is a ‘person to avoid’. Your account makes me think again about most of what I hear, which is a good rule of thumb anyways! Thanks again!

  7. Peregrin · August 17, 2012

    Hi Lee,

    thanks for the comments. Please accept my apologies – I follow your blog in Google Reader and knew there was another blog to put on, but typing this up at lunchtime, I completely forgot it. Mea Cupla! :( I will edit it soon… love your blog BTW.

    I am so, so very pleased to have this comment from you regarding working with the Land other than ‘flipping the wheel’.

    One of the reasons we consciously did not research (and still have not really) the Noongar seasons during 1991-1992 was to avoid any conscious or unconscious cultural appropriation. That we came up with six seasons, closing matching the Noongar, discovered years later, merely confirmed what we knew from our experience and practice: the Land spoke to us and there really ‘are’ six seasons. The Land will speak to anyone who listens. I have no idea if how we celebrate and mark the six seasons in EarthDreaming is anything like how the Noongar did or do so today, and I am not sure it is relevant :) There is some EarthDreaming material here, not very well formatted etc, but there you go (I am not responsible :)

    http://webspace.webring.com/people/ac/cathdeg/earthdreaming/ED.html

    As you say, there is so, so, much in Perth, even though not a lot of web presence. There are many old and established groups and many younger ones too. As for Lady Tamara…no need to avoid her, she is a hoot, just don’t take anything seriously :) She won’t eat your liver or anything. :)

    I will be happy to discuss any of these topics further. Are you going to the Sept camp?

    Thanks :)

  8. Lee · August 17, 2012

    Excellent! Thanks for your reply. No fear on the liver- I haven’t even met her but her reputation is larger than life. She must be a personality indeed!

    I am scrolling through some Earth Dreaming material now. What a feast of information!

    I will definitely be at the camp, I am hoping you will bring along some of your books to purchase? Looking forward to your workshop!

  9. Peregrin · August 17, 2012

    @Lee… great. Enjoy the ED Material… not sure how much Ishara has left up there, so if anything feels missing, let me know. Yes, will have books at the camp for below list price :) I am looking forward to it too.

  10. MvdV · August 17, 2012

    Occult as fuck… Graffiti I’d like to see! Go P-town

  11. @Lee I can assure you Lady Tamara is a lovely person, you just need to occasionally take what she says with a grain of salt. The good folks at Combined Covens can confirm this. If there was any destruction it was within CoWA when it imploded. Other than being a little vexatious when she wrote anything, Tamara never affected my group at all.

  12. Peregrin · August 17, 2012

    @Mitzy and Lee – yeah, the idea that Lady Tamara “destroyed the Wiccan community in Perth” or even scuffed it up a bit is new to me. Even not being involved directly for ages, off the top of me head I can name half a dozen Covens who were, are and ever shall be unaffected by Tamara and CoWA. No damage apart from internally as far as I could see. Then again, I stem from the 80s when Wiccans were REAL Witches and attacks were never in print, blog or a prissy curse – it meant breaking down doors, assault and leaving sheep hearts on doorsteps. lol:)

  13. Ah the good old days. You must tell me about the sword incident some time. Even by my time in the 90s it was shrouded in secrecy and myth

  14. John McNair · August 17, 2012

    Yes Peregrin, very nice blog post. I will share on FB :)

  15. Mike · August 17, 2012

    Peregrin, you do have a way of writing about something I had been meaning to ask. Thanks for sharing Perth with us!

  16. Mike Howard · August 17, 2012

    As I remember Simon Goodman was a bit of a controversial character. He was initiated by Alex and Maxine Sanders on a trip to the UK I believe and also claimed to have been inducted into a traditional coven in Sussex. Is any of the information he collected online at all? I would imagine that as cunning folk went to North America then they must have gone to Australia with the early colonists as well. Does anyone know anything about Anton Miles actrivities in Sydney in the 1960s?

  17. Matt Baldwin-Ives · August 17, 2012

    Hi Peregrin ! Very interesting article (I have some distant relatives in Perth). Atlantis beneath the pavements of Perth ? Hell, why not….

  18. Pingback: Paganism and Real Live Nature | The Allergic Pagan
  19. Pingback: Interview with Robert Buratti – Crowley, Art and the Esoteric « Magic of the Ordinary
  20. Glennjeff · August 17, 2012

    Perth is pretty much exactly opposite the Bermuda triangle, a region where traces of ancient ruins have been found at the bottom of the ocean, so yes, technically Atlantis may be underneath Perth, geometrically.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s