I have found my stash of Kenneth Grant letters, and I am reconstructing the book I wrote 15 years before he snuffed it. Here’s a sample. Facebook lacks the resolution dot com. ¶
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AROGOGO arogogo ru abrio. I wrote the words, Bob Ponton composed the tune, and Janice Ayers, Kenneth Grant and myself supplied the rubric to Scarlet Woman – a record with Crowley stuff on the back which never delivered any royalties to anyone but the publisher. And other liggers. Steffi Grant did the artwork for the front, Jan Bailey did the artwork for the back. Nice sleeve!
Memories get telescoped and morph into each other, so I had better put down some thoughts about dear Kenneth Grant before I forget them and enter my senile years.
It was forty years ago – that is a long time.
Kenneth, as I have written previously on these pages, was up for me going to India and meeting Shri Shri Gurudev Mahendranath (Dadaji). So much so that he bestowed the VII degree of his OTO on him. Lawrence Miles did not feel the same fraternal good wishes from his lair in India. I sent Dadaji my copy of the Magical Revival – a fine KG book as I thought. Over the next year, Dadaji sent me all sorts of bits and pieces wrapped up in a Magical Revival that he’d taken apart and used in fine Indian manner to send delicate stuff around the world. Not newspapers, the book was cut up.
When I visited Dadaji in 1978 he was slightly more than scathing about Kenneth Grant and John Symonds – Miles claimed he had met Crowley during one of the infamous Crowley libel trials and often visited him at 93 Jermyn Street. I mentioned this to Kenneth. Kenneth, having a huge collection of Crowley diaries via, I think, Gerald Yorke, scanned the pages and failed to find the young Lawrence Miles recorded. Not that that matters that much to the magi.
There is a huge gap missing in the sedimentary record of the 1950s – both in terms of Kenneth Grant and also Lawrence Miles. According to Dadaji’s own account, he tipped up in India in 1953 or so, and was immediately recognised by Lokanath as a man that should have been a Nath. Yet, according to Dadaji’s own words, registered in the now defunct magazine Values, he went to all sorts of places in Asia. He was in Australia for quite a while, as an agitprop. Dadaji – having fought in the International Brigade – had nothing but contempt for the British Army.
Strangely, Mr Grant wasn’t that hot on the British Army either. Having been conscripted into the war, Kenneth was forced to inhale lots of gas in a dark tunnel – he contracted asthma, and, I think, an interest in the dark tunnels of the mind that in his own words were the obverse of the bright and shining paths of the so-called Tree of Life. Kenneth told me, as a young creature, it was one of the most frightening things that had happened in his life.
Mr Miles, having fought in the International Brigade, had nothing but contempt for the British Army – the Ministry of Defence had contacted him in 1938 when the mandarins realised something was afoot Hitler-wise and tried to award him a commission. Instead, as a physiotherapist, Miles fomented a riot on a troop ship to Cairo. He was, in his own words, arrested for mutiny, but turned it round and the captain of the ship got his come uppance.
Dadaji had little time for Kenneth Grant – perhaps he was suffering from an attack of the jellybags. He did seem to know a lot of the same people Kenneth Grant did, including that strange woman in one of KG’s early trilogies who perished on a boat to Australasia.
The two were like chalk and cheese, but Miles spent a lot of his time in India and, like Ben Gunn in Treasure Island, all he wanted was a little bit of cheese. Michael Staley visited Dadaji in India, and so did Mogg Morgan. I’d be quite interested to hear their recollections. [No such luck, Ed.]
My friends, the naths, attempted to find any record of Mahendranath, a white guru in Memhadabad. They couldn’t find any record. But then – who keeps these records? Mr Akasha?
I have very fond memories of Kenneth Grant – very fond memories indeed. Unlike quite a few of my friends, I never got expelled from his Typhonian OTO, I resigned and he was gracious enough to allow me to exit, gracefully. I was a member of his Sovereign Sanctuary.
It all came about because of this. I wasn’t interested in Indian traditions at all, until 1974 or so, when a vivid dream woke me up to stuff. Kenneth, actually, was very knowledgeable about tha tantrik traditions. Apart from spending a great deal of time in India in the 1950s, he also contributed many articles about Hinduism to Man, Myth and Magic.
He was very sympathetic to me when in 1978 threw up a good job to visit Mahendranath (Dadaji) in Old Mehmadabad. I had corresponded with Dadaji for well over a year – I sought tantrik initiation.
In a very sympathetic conversation I had with Aossic Aiwass, the then OHO of the Typhonian OTO, I had spelled out my vivid dream to him, and I asked him for tantrik initiation. He said he had never had tantrik initiation. Shortly after this, I got a letter from Dadaji – he had had articles published in John Spiers’ magazine Values, and John Spiers and I had exchanged adverts with each other – me in my first magazine Azoth. Dadaji asked me to send him copies of Azoth and latterly SOTHiS magazine – Jan Bailey, David Hall and myself had just started this organ.
I felt I had to go to India and seek initiation into a tradition that suddenly appeared to be in my mind and in my heart and in my body. Kenneth conferred a VII degree honorary initiation on Mahendranath, never to my knowledge rescinded.
I continue to have the utmost regard for Kenneth Grant – his knowledge was deep, practical and full of wisdom. He knew Dylan Thomas in the early 1950s – his books of poetry show that Sarasvati sat on his tongue. He told me, when he was writing his first Typhonian Trilogy, that these books were also informed by poetry. He said that it was important, after you had digested wisdom, that you published it and made it available. He said that when you died, and began to get back to the Light, you would read stuff in books and it would remind you who you were before.
Digestion, he said, involved excretion too, and these were books. If you failed to write what you had learned, or felt, it was the equivalent of mental constipation.
He was devoted to the goddess in all of her guises.