Urthona printed journal and Urthona essays
Urthona Magazine, Cambridge UK, 07443 499384 urthonamag[at]gmail.com
Editor: Ratnagarbha (Ambrose Gilson)
Poetry Editor: Dharmavadana (David Penn)
Review Editor: Sue Bonnett
Submissions for print or web are welcome – essays, artwork and poetry – please email Word files or PDF to the address above.
URTHONA Buddhist arts journal covers contemporary art, western culture, and traditional Buddhist arts from a Buddhist perspective. It is published in a high quality, 68 page, glossy magazine format, and is beautifully designed.
To purchase the current issue go to ‘Urthona Shop’ page above.
This site contains selected material from back issues and longer essays on the arts. See page links above.
Urthona – the landscape: Our guardian spirits are the romantic and revolutionary writers of early 19th century London – Blake, Hazlitt and Coleridge – and the Zen poets of Japan who were similarly drawn to the open, outer reaches of mind and culture. Our founding inspiration came from the Western Buddhist teacher Sangharakshita who has always seen the arts as a key means of spiritual transformation in the contemporary world. Here you will find essays on the arts as a means of rousing the imagination and communicating a sense of the sacred in ways that are relevant to the 21st century.
You will find here a Romantic / Blakean concern for revolution as an attitude of mind which seeks to regenerate human perception as the fundamental means towards transformation of society. We value the language of myth as a fundamental means to explore human experience. The methods explored are those of the most inspired artists from the whole of human culture and the meditative techniques of mental cultivation which come principally from the Buddhist East. Here you will find essays on the arts as a means of rousing the imagination and exploring a sense of the sacred in ways that are relevant now.
The magazine takes its name from Blake’s spirit of the Imagination, Urthona, one of the four Zoas. In his temporal form Los, Urthona is the archetypal blacksmith who labours at his forge to beat out forms which will awaken mankind from spiritual slumber and remind us that this world is ‘all one continued vision of Fancy or Imagination.’ Urthona is run by Buddhists mainly associated with the Triratna Buddhist Sangha founded by Sangharakshita, who has always seen the arts as an important tool for spiritual transformation.
We explore particularly the work of artists and thinkers who are working to bring about cultural renewal by expressing the sacred dimension of the arts in ways which are relevant to the 21st century. We investigate artists and writers from all eras and cultures who, to borrow a phrase from Nietzsche, ‘grope their way along new experiences, open up new tracks’.
Here you will find essays, art, photography and poetry by some of the most inspired artists and thinkers of our time.
Past issues have included work or words by Gary Snyder, Kathleen Raine, Kevin Crossley-Holland, Robert MacFarlane, Cecil Collins and many more.
Each issue has a broad theme, recent themes have included:
Drama and Insight, Celtic culture, Landscapes of the Mind, Nature writing, Indian culture, Psychogeography, Buddhism and Ecology, Creativity, Writing as a spiritual practice…..
Each issue contains
- Essays on the arts as tools of transformation
- Art photography
- Fine art features from the best contemporary artists
- Poetry from the best modern poets such as Jane Hirshfield, Kevin Crossley-Holland, Mimi Khalvati
- Reviews of movies, books, music by insightful Buddhist writers.
EXAMPLE ISSUE – Number 32: Goddesses East and West –
From the editorial:
The symbol of ‘The Goddess’ with many names and forms, is one of the most active religious symbols of our age, and this is a fascination that many modern Buddhists share, especially as regards the liberated, intensely energised female figure of the Dakini. Indeed, the naked, blood drinking Dakini has some similarity to the wild and dangerous Valkyries, who collect the souls of the slain in Nordic mythology.
But why is the goddess such a force to be reckoned with in these times? In seeking to throw some light on this question Urthona turned to two women who are well qualified to talk about the goddess image in our age.
The first is Anne Baring author, with Jules Cashford, of The Myth of the Goddess: Evolution of an Image, an influential study of the history humanity’s relationship with the sacred feminine. We present a major essay, The Sleeping Beauty, based on a chapter from her new book, The Dream of the Cosmos: a Quest for the Soul.
Then we have an interview with priestess of Hekate, Sorita De Este. She is a lady who has been intensely involved in Western esoteric traditions for many years, and is well-placed to talk about the modern worship of goddesses.
Thirdly Jan Osborne has written a fascinating introduction to Kuan Yin, Bodhisattva of compassion. Taking into account the latest scholarship she shows how Kuan Yin is the most approachable of Buddha figures and how her depiction was influenced by Western figures of the virgin Mary.
Both Anne and Sorita have their own unique ideas, but having reflected on what they say, I believe that the modern goddess image is not primarily a figure to be worshipped, but a symbol that embodies a vision of the entire cosmos that is deeply, desperately needed in this age. In turning our hearts to the goddess, we are turning towards a sacred cosmos, in which each object and event is intimately connected to an interwoven Whole. This interwovenness, or interconnectedness, or ‘interbeing’ as Zen Master Tich Nat Hanh styles it, is a vision of life that in past ages was felt and known ‘in the blood’ without needing to be articulated. But it is a vision that, since the Renaissance, western culture has gradually, and disastrously, lost touch with.