Orc in the fires of hell


I have just updated our website – let us know what you think of the new look. The featured image is now Blake’s engraving of Orc in the fires of energy, from his book America a Prophecy. Orc is Blake’s fiery spirit of youthful rebellion, who attempts to overturn the established order of society and bring new life and energy. He represents both political and sexual revolution. In America he taunts the controlling colonial power of Albion’s Angel. There are various theories about how Blake derived the name. So far as I’m concerned it is pretty clear that he adapted it from the Latin orcus – the name of a demon in hell who punished broken oaths, from the Greek Horkos, later becoming a name for the Underworld itself. In Blake’s later prophetic books it is Urizen, the embodiment of alienated reason who is at war with Orc. Goodness do they have at tough time:

His (Orc’s) fierce flames issued on all sides, Gathering strength in animating volumes, roaming abroad on all the winds, raging intense, reddening into resistless pillars of Fire rolling round and round, gathering Strength from the Earth’s consumed and heavens and all hidden abysses.

From The Four Zoas

Urizen resists with frozen storms and icy whirlwinds… Meanwhile the spirit of Imagination Los (aka Urthona) looks on horrified – sometimes taking one side sometimes the other. Orc cannot be denied, his energy must be faced and harnessed. Sadly recent events in the Middle East show us all too clearly what kind of destruction can be wreaked when this does not happen.


Sci-Fi issue progress report…

Urthona MasterYes, the next issue of Urthona magazine is in production. The theme this time is the sometimes neglected genre of Science Fiction. Science Fiction at its best can explore regions of human experience that no other kind of literature (apart from perhaps the heroic epic) is capable of doing justice to. It can greatly expand our perspective – opening up immense vistas of time and distance – providing thought provoking ways of seeing the world by contrasting (for example) human civilisation with that of alien races, or the puny temporal blips of recorded history, with the evolution and involution of an entire cosmos. The best writers open up these vistas with due regard for the subtleties of human psychology and human frailties. Such writers are moving into the same territory that Buddhists have been exploring for thousands of years.

Publication date: late summer / early autumn 2018. Here are some of the highlights:

  •  An interview with doyen of British SF, Christopher Priest.
  • Our amazingly knowledgeable movie editor Ed Piercy on classic alien encounter movies.
  • A vision of Transcendental Science Fiction, with a focus on Olaf Stapledon, and the Chinese classic novel The Story of the Stone.
  • Dharmavadana on that modern seer, Phillip K. Dick.
  • A feature on Arthur C. Clarke, including memories of meeting him in Sri Lanka.
  • Plus as usual a rich selection of new poetry, news, reviews and photography.

The only Megalith in Essex?

This standing stone was spotted just outside Hatfield Forest, north east Essex. Although it has clearly been set up by a farmer just outside his farmhouse as an interesting feature, the stone itself does look very old and extremely weathered. It is some kind of conglomerate with many small pebbles ingrained in the rock. Surely someone trying to manufacture a megalith would not use this kind of stone as it doesn’t look especially mythic or impressive. However its shape is certainly very like some of the smaller standing stones at Avebury. So if a forgery a clever one…

PS I hear rumours of a church somewhere in Essex that is supposed to have a ring of buried megaliths all around the edge of the grave yard. I hope to report on this properly at some point in the future. Any pointers gladly received…



The Old Straight Track

Stourbridge Common –

tracks to nowhere, the iron bridge, memories of the fair…

Blog Old Footbridge 1

Stourbridge Common is the nearest piece of semi-rural land to where I live in Cambridge. It is only a five minute cycle ride away but on dark winter afternoons it can take on an epic doom-laden appearance… The straight track across its centre becomes a walk into the infinite instead of a few hundred yards towards the railway bridge.

Continue reading “The Old Straight Track”

A walk in the Malverns

It was a sultry summer day, not very hot, but humid. There was a decadent end of summer feel even though it was only towards the end of July. I decided that August would be a herald of autumn rather than a glorious finish to the season, and so it was necessary to make the best of it, dress light and step out with determination along the languid maze of lanes that thread the countryside to the west of the great spine of the Malverns. Beyond that tawny ridge to the east I knew there are motorways, cities and the hundred million distractions of modern life. But here, west of that sheltering spine, just silence apart from what Heaney so memorably called ‘the distant gargling of tractors’. On the verges the thresh of bleached grasses is soaked in dew, there is a sense of rot about to happen, but for now the air is damp but cool and the lanes are empty and inviting. The sky is a mix of clouds and clarity. Sometimes for half an hour it appears to be going to cloud up completely and looks ominous, but the next moment the vapours dissolve and the sky goddess is back in her glory…

Continue reading “A walk in the Malverns”