Oh those Golden Dawns
Storytime! Brought to you by two small poetry books I just found in a box. In 1988 or so I went to the Yeats International Poetry School in Ireland and it was an interesting round of small workshops and classes (Seamus Heaney, Eavan Boland, and a guy named Tom Paulin who clearly didn’t want to be there) And deadly boring poetry readings / drinking sessions where Yeats’s grandnieces’s cousin would play the harp and someone would beatifically recite When I went out to the hazel wood on a little stage while people chain smoked.
Most of this trip is a haze to me because I had a killer sinus infection and a fever for half of it and had to stay in the horrible youth hostel on codeine and antibiotics absolutely dying while brutally healthy German girls played the guitar and sang far into the night, but I do recall amidst the nervous chain smoking academics and the earnest poets these two complete weirdos absolutely swanned into the entire scene and they were real live serious devotees of Aleistair Crowley.
The guy was small, skinny, ferretty, wore a giant gold medallion and I believe often some sort of robe and he would stroke his little goatee like a caricature supervillain while he talked in a weird nasal voice about the Order of the Golden Dawn in its modern day incarnation, and how he was a Druid. He came across as just a giant creep. The girl in this couple was more interesting and nice, with a giant smile, tall, floofy blond hair, big chunky hippie jewelry, kind of seemed rich, and had a cheerful breezy manner — and she would talk constantly about druid sex magick. I actually liked her. One could not figure out why this perfectly nice lady hung upon every word of the fool Druid.
I thought they were hilarious especially because everyone was so disapproving of them (why were they THERE? I mean, I get why, but, ?! somehow? Money?! They were both Yeats Enthusiasts and were also very clearly out to do lots of psychedelic drugs and sleep with anyone who was interested in a little Druid Sex Magick as a palate cleanser between the Baileys and the bee-loud glades. (I did not partake) I also didn’t think either of them wrote very good poetry (neither did I but I had an excuse: being 18 years old)
So coming across these books, I looked them up. The Druid died in 2014 and you can read all about him and his translating and how he liked to spend summers in the basement of the Cairo Museum. I wonder if he was a legitimate translator, or what? https://www.darengo.co.uk/terence-duquesne/
The druid Priestess, Dwina, now that I look her up, seems to have been in a long and successful open marriage with Robin Gibb from the Bee Gees. Interesting! “Dwina Gibb, his second wife, whom he met through her cousin in 1980, when she was running a beanbag factory in London while trying to make it as an artist….. The couple lived together in the Biscayne Bay mansion once owned by President John F. Kennedy and a 100-acre Oxford, England, estate, where tapestries and tarot-card tiles adorn the walls of their 12th century converted monastery and the Gibbs built a druid place of worship.”
It was truly hilarious like being inside A Dance to the Music of Time, maybe at the end where Widmerpool goes running off in robes or whatever. Maybe it’s time to re-read that whole series again!