Notes from a Reading Life
In The Lyre of Orpheus. Robertson scares us with a vision of what happenss to creative spirits that won't give their best work. Here's how the dead Hoffmann describes his current situation:
Notes from a Reading Life
In The Lyre of Orpheus. Robertson scares us with a vision of what happenss to creative spirits that won't give their best work. Here's how the dead Hoffmann describes his current situation:
Pat Conroy's memoir My Reading Life has prompted me to publish more of my adventures in reading and how they spill into my experience or the world, and the roads I travel in dreams. Listen to Pat Conroy:
"Writers of the world, if you've got a story, I want to hear it. I promise it will follow me to my last breath. You will hearten me and brace me up for the hard days as they enter my life on the prowl. I reach for a story to save my own life."Conroy's word magic never falters as he gives us his memoir of his life as a reader. He made it his practice to read at least 200 pages a day. "Reading," he insists, "is the most rewarding form of exile and the necessary discipline for a novelist who wants to get better."
This has been going on for as long as I can remember. You might say I got a jump start by being thrown out of my body and into other worlds at an early age. At age 3 and again at age 9 I was pronounced clinically dead in hospitals during crises of illness. Today we talk about near-death experiences but I still think of this as dying and coming back, which is what Australian doctors told my parents I had done. During one of these experiences, during a few minutes under a surgeon’s knife, I seemed to live a whole lifetime with a different people in another world. So I have always understood that there are worlds beyond the physical world that are no less real – and possibly more real – and that we can travel there by shifting consciousness.
Art: "Flying into the Blue" by Peter Sis.
I try not to rush to organize my dream memories as a linear narrative. I love stories with a beginning, a middle and an end. However, I am also aware that in dreaming we may shift from one scene - or one world - to another. Dreams may be nested inside each other, or playing on many screens at the same time. Dreaming, we can act and observe simultaneously in multiple realities on multiple tracks.
My dreams from the last cycle of sleep overnight remind me of Borges' story “the Garden of Forking Paths”. Riffing on the detective genre, Borges anticipates the Many Worlds hypothesis in physics with his account of a legendary unfinished Chinese novel whose plotline is quite different from most narratives. In fiction, as in ordinary life, a character typically comes to a point of decision, makes a choice, and then the paths not taken fade away. In Borges’ fiction within a fiction, all possible outcomes of an event are manifested simultaneously, opening different event tracks. The proliferation of possibilities is enacted again and again along each track. The constantly-diverging paths may converge again, as the result of new circumstances.
In the Borges story, the stakes include life or death and vital wartime intelligence. My brief report from a dream excursion last night involves small decisions without scary consequences. I find it entertaining as a dream introduction to the forking paths of the Many Worlds.
Four Tracks to Prague
After many hugs with people from the group, I am alone and need to find my way from the castle to a hotel near the city center.
I explore at least four options. Though they are laid out here as a sequence, I think I travel on all four tracks simultaneously in the spacious reality of dreaming.
1. I follow the crowd from my lecture. I see lots of people walking to the city center along railroad tracks. I walk parallel to them, across the tracks. Then
2. I am on a train. A laughing girl puts a hat on my head that isn’t mine as we come to a station. I retrieve my hat from an overhead rack. It is soft tweed like an Irish walking hat. Someone has removed the leather band. When I try it on, the hat is too small for me and the crown has changed shape. It now looks like the "topper" on a cartoon leprechaun. I forget the hat because now
3. I am walking down the hill from the castle to a pleasant shopping district. I meet an elegant lady in furs from Vienna. She is sampling several fine wines and may be a dealer. She tells me, "I am here for the wine". We discuss sharing a taxi. Before this happens
4. I manage to hail a cab in a different neighborhood Solo again, I wait for the driver to make room for my packages. The taxi morphs into an armored military vehicle bristling with weapons. The soldiers are friendly and soon we are speeding along the highway towards Prague.
Feelings: Entertained. Glad to have some new material relevant to one of my favorite themes: living consciously in the multidimensional universe.
Reality check: I was scheduled to lead a retreat in northern Bohemia this week, before the pandemic forced me to put a hold on in-person workshops and international air travel. I have taught and traveled in the Czech Republic many times over the past decade. Transit issues involving the Czech Republic are not an exotic element in my dreams.
I have taught and traveled in Ireland, have some Irish ancestry and am not a stranger to leprechauns.
I like good wines but not as much as the lady from Vienna, known only to me in the dream.
I love trains, though I rarely ride them these days. I am alive to the symbolic resonance of a train (as in training) and a track (as in line to a certain destination) in dreams.
The switch to a military vehicle in #4 may reflect security concerns in relation to literal travel.
My dream travel agent, also no doubt my dream scriptwriter, gave me at least four ways of getting to my destination As I noted, I don't think options 1-4 are a linear sequence. They appear to be glimpses of events unfolding on four parallel tracks in alternate realities, between which the focus of my dominant personality shifts back and forth. I am arriving at the station, amid the funny business with the hat, at the same moment I am speeding along a highway towards Prague, in the armored car.
Maybe this isn’t so different from life anywhere – except that in ordinary reality we are often quite oblivious to the fact that we walk in many worlds.
Top Photo: View from Nové Město nad Metují by Robert Moss
What has this got to do with dreaming the future? Everything. In French, déjà vu literally means "already seen". The phrase begs the question of how we can possibly have "already seen" something we have not set eyes on before. In most cases, what is going on when we experience déjà vu is this: an event we once dreamed is now manifesting in waking life. We may have forgotten the dream, but now that it is playing out in the physical world, we remember something. If we wanted to describe the phenomenon more accurately, still borrowing from French, we would call it déjà rêvé, "already dreamed".
What comes back to us, in déjà vu, is a memory of the future. We traveled ahead of ourselves, in a dream, and forgot the trip until we found ourselves back in the same place.
The sporadic experience of déjà vu is just our entry point here, just a way to establish that we are talking about something that is common, if not universal, human experience. To get better at remembering the future, we need to become active dreamers. In dreams, we are time travelers. Released from the laws of Newtonian physics and the consensual hallucinations we harbor in our everyday brains, the dream self travels into past time, future time, and alternate realities.
I have the impression that every night, my dream self is traveling ahead of me on my possible roads into the future, scouting the ways. He brings me memories of the future, the way you or I might bring back postcards and souvenirs from a trip abroad. Part of my daily practice is to scan every detail that I remember from my dreams with this in mind, asking: is it remotely possible that any of this could happen in the future, literally or symbolically?
Memorias do futuro. Memories of the future. I once saw that sign on a bar in a dusty town in the northeast of Brazil. If we truly have memories of the future, does that mean that the future already exists?
Yes and no. Any future we can foresee is a possible - not inevitable - future. When we wake up to the fact that we have access to memories of the future, especially in dreams, we can start drawing on this data bank to change things for the better. We are not condemned to stay on a particular event track unless we have totally forgotten where it leads, and refuse to consider switching to a different line. We can use souvenirs of the future, delivered in dreams, to avert an unwanted future event, or to bring a happy future event into manifestation.
To do these things, we need to grow our understanding and our practice. For simplicity, we can distinguish several modes of knowing the future:
Through precognition, we see events and circumstances ahead of time, as they will be played out. A precognitive dream may be literal, or symbolic or both. For example, a dream of a twister might turn out to be both a preview of a literal disaster and advance notice of an emotional storm that will hit with the force of a tornado. Once you have confirmed your ability to see - or rather remember - the future in this way, you are ready to do much more interesting things.
In dreams and intuitive flashes, and through the play of coincidence, we may receive an early warnings of a possible future development we may not want - a crisis at work, the bust-up of a relationship, a health problem, a car accident.
If we read the clues correctly, we can use such early warnings to avoid a possible future problem by taking preemptive action.
Our dream self returns from his night excursions with tips about coming opportunities. These tips require action if we are going to manifest a future we'll enjoy.You remember a dream in you are in your ideal home, or doing the work that nourishes your soul and your bank account, or you are with your soulmate, who is someone you have not yet met in the regular world. You need to take physical action to get yourself, in your physical body, to where your dream self has already been.
Alternate Event Tracks
Dreaming, we discover and inhabit the true nature of time, as it has always been known to dream travelers and is now confirmed by modern science. Linear time, as measured by clocks, and experienced in plodding sequences of one thing following another, always heading in the same direction, is an illusion of limited human awareness, at best (as Einstein said) a convenience. In dreaming, as in heightened states of consciousness, we step into a more spacious time, and we can move forwards or backwards at varying speeds.We not only travel to past and future; we travel between alternate timelines. With growing awareness, we can develop greater and greater ability to choose the event track - maybe one of infinite alternative possible event tracks - that will be followed through a certain life passage, or even the larger history of our world.
This may be a case of the observer effect operating on a human scale. It is well understood that at quantum levels, deep within subatomic space, the act of observation plucks a specific phenomenon out of a mass of possibilities. It may be that, when our dream selves observe something of the future, we select a certain event track that will begin to be manifested in the physical world. By a fresh act of observation, through active dreaming, we can then proceed to alter that event track, or switch to an entirely different one.
Photo: Covered Bridge on Metuje River by RM
If we are to be whole, we must gather and bring together the divided aspects of our selves. Some parts of our soul may have been missing for a very long time - from the time of trauma in early childhood, or in the birth canal, or even inside the womb. Dreams will put us on the track of these lost boys and girls, as will a childhood memory. Caring friends, gifted therapists and genuine shamans can help us to bring them home.
With or without help, bringing the vital energy of our younger selves home to our present bodies can be a bumpy process. Say you have succeeded in making contact with a child self who checked out of your life many years ago because the world seemed so cold and so cruel. To persuade that younger self to come into your body and your world now, you will need to persuade her that you are safe and you are fun. To do that, you'll need to promise that she will never be shamed or abused again, and that you'll do things and eat things that please her. She may not believe your promises unless you can invoke some powerful helpers. Here the animal guardians can play an essential role, because a young child who doesn't trust you may trust the bear or the tiger that is supporting you.
If you succeed in reclaiming a younger part of yourself, the blessings may include fresh energy, imagination, skills - and joy. But to keep that part of your vital soul with you, you are going to have to make good on your promises over the long haul. There will always be the risk that if that part of you senses a recurrence of an old trauma, or simply finds you drab and boring to be around, she'll try to take off again.
In my personal work in facilitating soul recovery over many years, I have found Great Mother Bear an impeccable ally. She is renowned as a fierce protector of her young, especially against possible harm from the males of the species. On several occasions when a child self was reluctant to come home to an adult self - or was threatening to leave again - I have found that invoking Great Mother Bear can serve wonderfully to confirm or re-make the union.
In a gathering of active dreamers on a mountain in the New York Adirondacks, I introduced a group journey to work with Great Mother Bear in this cause.
We had begun, as we usually do, by finding ourselves standing with a special tree, rooted in the earth rising between earth and sky, drinking the light.
I invited our dreamers to go down through the roots of the tree, into the Cave of the Dreaming Bear.
"You will find yourself with a family of bears of all ages. Going deeper, you will find yourself with Great Mother Bear. Let her fold you in her deep embrace. You will receive blessing and healing and nourishment in her lap.
"When you feel ready, turn around in the lap of Mother Bear so you are facing out. Extend your arms and invite a younger part of yourself - one that has been missing or tends to go absent from your life - into your own embrace.
"When you feel that younger self in your arms, let Mother Bear fold you both in her great embrace and bring you closer together, so close that you become one."
After giving these directions, I drummed for the group and each member pursued her own journey down through the tree roots, into the Place of the Bear.
At the end of the drumming, we shared our journey reports. Most of our dreamers reported experiences that were vividly real, comforting and energizing.
"I had the wonderful sense of being rocked in the arms of Mother Bear," one of our dream journeyesrs told us. "When I extended my arms, my four-year-old self came to me. We were then blessed by an amazing family reunion. My favorite grandmother, who died when I was four, came to join us, taking on the appearance of a child of the same age. Then my two daughters, also looking as they did when they were four, came to join the party. I feel like having a birthday party for all of them."
In the Cave of the Bear, another traveler told us, she had "a kind of Goldilocks experience." She met three young bears that shapeshifted into child aspects of herself. They joined her in the family hug, and then they all proceeded to set up a tea party.
One of our dreamers had the experience of rebirth, of being born through the generous body of Mother Bear.
Another woman in our group had tried, in the past, to reach out to her own four-year-old self who had gone missing because of abuse. In one encounter, that very young self had told her. "I can't be with you all the time because you get too distracted." Then the child self added, fiercely, "All your good ideas are from me and you have to make them happen." At the start of the drumming, the four-year-old reappeared and told her, "I'll spend the weekend with you because this stuff is really cool." She did not consent to enter the dreamer's embrace, within the arms of Mother Bear. Instead, what came was a "golden child" who seemed to be more than a younger self, carrying great gifts of creativity, innocence, and light energy.
Yet another dreamer met a younger self who was urgent for her to go beyond the Cave of the Bear, back to the childhood home where bad things had happened. She complied, and found herself intervening, as her adult self, to close and lock the bathroom door, so her child self would have safety and privacy. She felt deep closure and resolution, and commented, "If you can strengthen the adult, you can save the child."
Art: Top "Dancing with the Bear" by Robert Moss
Middle: "Drumming Bear" by Cristina Flueras
Bottom: "Dreaming Bear" by Tracy Cunningham
Art: Top "Dancing with the Bear" by Robert Moss
After more than twenty hours of travel by plane and coach, followed by dinner with conference staff, I was ready for bed when I got to my room in Pratt's hotel on South Parade in Bath. The room was charming, as is the Georgian city, but the night was very far from still. Raucous, sometimes feral, bands of drunken youths ranged the streets, howling and squalling, even in front of the seeimingly dormant police station a block away on Manvers street. The packs were often fifteen or twenty strong.-
The noise did not abate until 4 a.m. Some of the drunks were no doubt students who had not learned to hold their grog (or to kick it) since Bath is essentially a city of universities and retirees; others looked very lumpen, unlikely material for any academy. I wondered if there were some holes in the otherwise elegant city's sewers and drains through which unpleasant creatures of the Netherworld spewed forth after dark.
Despite the racket, I drifted off for a time, then surfaced in that liminal hypnopompoic state that is a promising place for visions. At last Bath seemed to be blessedly quiet. In my second body, I drifted to the window and looked out.
My window looked down on Duke Street. I was fascinated to observe, in this depth of night, that a semi-circle of figures were gathered on the pavement, looking up at my window. They were dressed in the garments of many different periods. There was a woman with flaming red tresses I knew to be a priestess from the time when a fierce ancient Celtic goddess, Sulis, was worshipped in association with the famous thermal waters of Bath, long before anyone thought of bathing in them in the way that became fashionable for Romans and Georgians in their contrasting modes. There were Romans in togas, and in the armor of a centurion. There was a Regency dandy in tailcoat, high collar and exorbitant stock and top hat. There were figures from the time of the Great War, and of World War II, and from quite recent times. And I knew that I was in the presence of the dead.
Drawn by curiosity, I had drifted through the window and down among them. I realized it might not be a good idea to have unfiltered contact with these local spirits., especailly since some of them might have contributed to the disorder of the human rat-packs that had bothered me earlier.
I felt the need for a guardian. He was there before I reached for him, standing at my left shoulder, a tall, strapping figure with a great mane of hair. He held a long-handled hammer, something like a croquet mallet, balanced against his left shoulder. I knew his name, because many years ago, in a time when I needed to re-set and maintain psychic boundaries, I had dreamed repeatedly of carrying a similar weapon as I parolled the borders of my property. The recurring dream symbol has prompted me to do some research, and I came up with images and inscriptions relating a Celtic god named Sucellos in Gaul. In Gaulish, "Su-cellos" means the "Good Striker". He seemed like the very image of the right gatekeeper in this environment, especially since he als has an association with beer and is sometimes depicted carrying what may be a beer pot.
I now felt confident that I could safely engage with some of the ghostly figures on Duke Steet. The red haired priestess took me into a time long before the Roman baths, when the waters bubbled and steamed, unconfined, in a swampy landscape. I did not enter those waters; this, it seemed was not how they were used.
This was the proscenium to some more dramatic episodes, in the hours before dawn, when I journeyed deeper into what lies beneath the stone and asphalt of Bath Spa. On such explorations, it is always a good idea to take along a friend with a big stick.
- Bath Spa, Somerset February 19, 2011
You find the villages of the Temiar when a shady path through the rainforest opens out onto a field of hill rice or a clump of man-high tapioca plants. This people of the Malaysian rainforest live in the old way, by slash-and-burn agriculture, moving their thatched houses when their fields get tired. They live very close to their land. Their stilt houses are walled with bamboo poles, laid horizontally so there are gaps between them. There are also gaps between the bamboo slats of the floors. Earth and trees are always visible. No solid boundary is set between human settlement and the natural world.
It is not surprising that, in this setting, people have an intimacy with the Earth that colors and informs their dreams. They believe that everything is alive and conscious, and that in dreams human spirits, traveling outside the body, encounter spirits of plants and animals and mountains and rivers. There is great power in these encounters, especially when a tiger or a tree gifts the dreamer with a song that can later call in its energy for healing. A song of this kind, received in a dream and freighted with the power to summon an animal guardian, or wake a mountain, is called a norng, which literally means a “road”, or pathway. The kind of path that can get your body safely through the forest, or guide a soul to where it belongs.
I learned about the Temiar through the beautiful work of American musicologist and anthropologist Marina Roseman, who has not only recorded their dream songs but has sung in the women’s chorus when healers sing over a patient. I have listened to her recording of a tiger dream song. It is thrilling. Above the tapping of bamboo sticks, you hear the gravelly voice of the tiger as he rises from a nap to become an ally in healing, by driving away a disease spirit, or lending his own fierce vitality to a sick person.
One of the songs Roseman translated reveals the process of acquiring a healing song from a plant spirit. A man named Uda Pandak had been seeding and tending keralad plants, patting and shaping the earth around the roots. In the time when the keralad came into flower, he smelled its fragrance strongly inside a dream. After releasing its odor, the plant took human form and announced a spiritual connection with the dreamer. “It is you that I want.” As a human, the plant now began to sing, giving the dreamer a new song for healing. Notice the stages in this process, which proceeds like the natural growth of fruit and flower. You make a connection in the natural world, by getting your hands in the earth, seeding and weeding. The plant releases its odor. Then its spirit morphs into human form, initiates conversation and finally produces the song.
The ability to receive songs from spirit guides in dreams promotes a Temiar dreamer to the status of "a person with halaa", a powerful medium. In the narrative of Uda Pandak, he did not ask for a song or a visitation by the plant spirit. However, he laid the ground by tending the earth around its roots. The keralad plant's "head soul" emerged of its own volition and met the "head soul"of the dreamer. Interestngly, Roseman found that Temiar, for the most part, do not request songs from the spirits. They believe that the spirits will come spontaneously when they are living close to the earth and respecting life upon it.
1. Marina Roseman, Healing Songs from the Malaysian Rainforest.: Temiar Music and Medicine (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993) 52-58.
There is a world between time and eternity with structures created by thought that outlast anything on Earth. This is the Imaginal Realm. You may enter it through the gate of dreams, or the gate of death, or on nights when you drop your body like a bathrobe. Here you will find schools and palaces, places of adventure, healing and initiation.
The Imaginal Realm is a fundamental ground of knowledge and experience. It is a region of mind between the world of time and the world of eternity. In this realm human imagination meets intelligences from higher realities, and they co-construct places of healing, instruction and initiation. Here ideas and powers beyond the grasp of the ordinary human mind – call them archetypes, tutelary spirits, gods or daimons – take on guises humans can begin to perceive and understand.
The great medieval Sufi philosopher Suhrawardi insisted both on the objective reality of the Imaginal Realm and that the way to grasp it is the way of experience: “pilgrims of the spirit succeed in contemplating this world and they find there every object of their desire.” To know the realm of true imagination, you must go there yourself. Happily for you – once you wake up to what is going on – the doors may open to you any night in dreams, or in the fertile place between sleep and awake, or in a special moment of synchronicity when the universe gets personal and you know, through your shivers, that greater powers are in play.
In dreams, we awaken to other orders of reality. When we wake up in our regular bodies, we may have fallen asleep in another world. Sometimes, lying in the drifty state near sleep, I sense that as I grow drowsy, a second self, back to back with me on the bed, is stirring awake, ready to prowl. I call him the Traveler.
I track the Traveler by recording his exploits – the ones I manage to catch – in my journal. In one report he seems to be very like my present self, just two days ahead of me, on my present probable event track. Sometimes he is much further ahead, or on a different event track, or in another body in another time or another world..
The traveler’s tales in my book Mysterious Realities are "just-so" stories in the sense that they spring from direct experience in the Imaginal Realm, my own and that of other dream travelers who have shared their adventures with me. This territory is more familiar to you than you may currently realize. You are a traveler in your dreams, whether or not you remember them.
You visit realms where the dead are alive. You travel into the possible future, scouting the roads that lie ahead. You travel into the past, into scenes from your present life, and other lives that are part of your story. You go to studio sets, where dream movies are made by production crews behind the scenes, to arouse and entertain, or to shock dreamers awake. You slip into parallel lives, where your parallel selves are moving on different event tracks because they made different choices.
What is going on in your dreams doesn't
necessarily stop when you wake up or switch to a different screen. The action
may play on, like episodes in a television series that continue to run after
you turn off the set.
It gets more interesting. When you exit a scene in a life you are leading somewhere else, you may or may not remember where you were and who you are in that other world. When you do remember, you tag what lingers in your mind as a dream.
When you exit a dream that is also a visit to a parallel life, your parallel self continues on its way. While you go about your day, your other self may dream of you.
Magic carpet collage by Michele Ferro
"Man attracts spirits according to his own temperament," as William Butler Yeats observed. To "the sanguine, the spirits of fire, and the lymphatic, those of watery nature, and those of a mixed nature, mixed spirits." While observing that like attracts like, Yeats was also fascinated by the way that opposites may be drawn together, to complement and complete each other, and to spark that creative friction that brings new things into being.
Your own will come to you.
Æ summarized the law of spiritual gravitation in this phrase. I find this a vital practical truth. He also wrote:
I found that every intense imagination, every new adventure of the intellect [is] endowed with magnetic power to attract to it its own kin. Will and desire were as the enchanter’s wand of fable, and they drew to themselves their own affinities. ..One person after another emerged out of the mass, betraying their close affinity to my moods as they were engendered.
In our lives, this plays out through chance encounters, through the dreamlike symbolism of daily events, when we turn up the right message in a book opened at random or left open by someone else on a library table. If the passions of our souls are strong enough, they may draw “lifelong comrades”.
In his beautiful little book The Candle of Vision, Æ gave a personal example. When he first attempted to write verse, he immediately met a new friend, a dreaming boy “whose voice was soon to be the most beautiful voice in Irish literature” This was of course William Butler Yeats. “The concurrence of our personalities seemed mysterious and controlled by some law of spiritual gravitation.”
In his later life, Æ found a soul companion in the Australian writer P.L.Travers, the author of Mary Poppins and also a deep student of the Western Mysteries and a world-class mythographer. AE wrote to P.L.Travers about a further aspect of spiritual gravitation: “I feel I belong to a spiritual clan whose members are scattered all over the world and these are my kinsmen.”
By the way, it deserves to be better-known that the inspiration for P.L. Travers' idea that Mary Poppins came from a star was the author’s childhood vision of her dead father transforming into a star. Another case of spiritual gravitation, working beyond the apparent barrier of death.
The Magnet in the Book
Sometimes, beyond the play of the shelf elves who make books and papers appear and disappear, I sense other minds and other hands. In the early hours one morning, I found my copy of Yeats' Autobiography off its shelf, on a table where I had not placed it. There was no occult reason for this; it had been moved, with a small pile of other books relating to the poet, as part of a house cleaning.
I accepted the invitation to revisit Yeats' life through his words. Opening the book at random, I found myself reading a lively chapter on his mixed relations with Æ.
Later that morning, I opened another book in that pile. It is a collection of occasional pieces, mostly literary and art criticism, by Æ, titled The Living Torch and published by Macmillan in 1938, that I found in a used book store near Mount Vernon in Washington State a couple of years ago. I had placed it in my forest of books without examining it closely.
This was evident, because when I opened The Living Torch at random, I found five loose pages hidden inside the book. They are written a fine lady's hand from an earlier time. They are fair copies of five of Æ's poems. The lady who made these copies was meticulous. She noted the publication date (1926) of the edition of Æ's Collected Poems from which she borrowed the lines she copied, and the number of the pages where these poems may be found.
I sat very still as I read the poem on the top page. It is titled
"Magnet" and it begins as follows:
I had sweet company
Because I sought out none
But took who came to me,
All by the magnet drawn.
For me, in the final stage of completing a book on the workings of synchronicity, this was quite, quiet perfect. Within the past week, I had actually borrowed a line from A Candle of Vision as a section title in my own book: "Your own will come to you." It develops the idea that we draw people and situations to us magnetically, through the energy that is with us. I did not know that Æ had written a poem on this theme until just now.
The later part of his poem, I must note, develops a darker tone. It seems that Æ (described by Yeats as first and last a "religious teacher") is reflecting, ruefully, on an affair of the heart which tempted him to set aside the austere spiritual discipline he imposed on himself. I wonder whether, in her secret heart, the unknown copyist was stirred by her recognition of herself in a similar drama to make "Magnet" her own, by putting it in her own hand.
Art: Æ, "The Bathers"