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Graves's sources for The White Goddess
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Mark Carter
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Location: Bloomington, IL, USA

PostPosted: Tue Jul 16, 2002 11:46 pm    Post subject: Graves's sources for The White Goddess Reply with quote

I guess since nobody else is posting here I'll jump in and (hopefully) start some interesting conversation. Usually I'm a little hesitant to speak up about Graves since I'm just a common reader and the Graves list, the Society and the message board seem to be filled with well known authors and people with degrees in subjects I only dabble in. I feel out classed quite often.

I'm curious to know if anyone has ever attempted to compile a list of sources Graves drew on to write The White Goddess. Maybe someone has written something along the lines of Road To Xanadu for The White Goddess or some sort of annotated bibliography? I realize that Graves intentionally refused to cite his sources or provide a bibliography in an attempt to remain non-scientific, yet it also seems to me to be a method to conveniently cover his tracks. I suspect that such a list would be shorter than the average reader would assume from the book itself and that it would contain a large number of books that were considered outdated even at the time of his writing. I believe it was John Vickery who said something to the effect that a bibliography of works consulted for White Goddess would not so much prove Graves's vast amount of research as it would prove his bias. Graves himself said that many of the works cited came from his Father's library and that much of this library itself came from his Grand-Father's library.

Personally, I feel readers would better understand the book if they understood it's origin and could place it in context with it's sources and it's own time frame. Of course, books like Frazer's The Golden Bough are common enough these days and average readers (like myself) may be familiar with such books. On the other hand, how many readers are familiar with Margaret Murray? I suspect only those who have joined the modern neo-pagan movement would even recognize her name. Likewise, can the average reader draw connections between ideas in The White Goddess and Cook's Zeus? Can they even find Macalister's Secret Languages Of Ireland or O'Flaherty's Ogygia? I had to special order a copy of Macalister and I see that Ogygia is currently selling for $150 at Amazon. Lastly, has anyone considered that the hand signaling system Graves offers in White Goddess owes something to Robert Perceval Graves's Life Of Sir William Rowan Hamilton? This is a book I've not been able to locate but Richard P. Graves mentions in The Assault Heroic that his uncle was particularly interested in the diagrams of hand signaling this book contained.

Many people have already observed that The White Goddess isn't actually a history book in any sense but is a statement of Graves's poetic system. Yet, has anyone gone through the book and actually separated out the historically accurate statements from the inaccurate or tried to show where Graves deviates from accepted historical theories to support his poetic system? As a common reader, these questions fascinate me. I suspect a large amount of the answer lies in the books Graves consulted during writing. This particularly interests me now that I've read the article by Steven Trout, which shows how Graves distorted and misrepresented his sources in GTAT. Similar methods seem to appear on nearly every page of The White Goddess.

In short, can someone suggest some criticism of The White Goddess that goes into this sort of detail? I've already read a good deal of criticism of Graves's works, but I can't seem to find anything dealing with The White Goddess in these sort of terms. I've even considered writing such a book myself but my lack of authority or any sort of qualifications makes me leery of attempting anything of the sort. I'm sure something along these lines has already been written and I'm simply not finding it because I don't have access to the resources needed.
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ian
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Joined: 25 May 2002
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 17, 2002 5:33 pm    Post subject: difficult questions Reply with quote

Good questions Mark.

First of all, I don' think you have to apologise for not having the "credentials" that many of the individuals working on Graves whose names appear on the site have. After all, Robert himself had very little time for academics who tried to trump a solid argument with a degree Very Happy.

I think the collection of essays that I've edited with Grevel Lindop will go some way to setting out what those with "credentials" know about Graves' sources. The essays in the collection are by no means exhaustive but will show you where research in different areas seems to be going.

As for collecting sources for a "guide" to sources, personally, I think that's an excellent idea.

Ian

ps. thanks for kicking off the discussion!
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Mark Carter
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 15, 2002 1:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, since I didn't exactly inspire any deep debates with my last post I thought I'd try again. Acually, I just have some free time today and some questions to ponder. Smile

Has anyone yet suggested that the secret hand signalling method Graves gives in White Goddess is acually based on the signalling method created by Sir William Rowan Hamilton? I have just read in R.P. Graves's The Assault Heroic that Robert was impressed with Hamilton's signalling method as a child and practised it with his sister. The method was given in Robert P. Graves's Life Of Sir William Rowan Hamilton, 1882. I've been unable to find this book and confirm anything myself. Can anyone confirm if the two signalling systems are alike in any way?

Has anyone asked why Robert Graves mistranslates George Calder's Auraicept Na N-Eces into Hearing of The Scholars in White Goddess? He mentions the book more than once and in every case he refers to it as Hearing of The Scholars instead of the correct translation, The Scholar's Primer. Yet, he knew of the Calder translation and cites it. I can only assume that Graves never actually had Calder's translation in front of him as he wrote but was instead depending on second hand information. Looking at the Ogham research that Charles Graves published in Hermathena I see that he also gives an incorrect title for the book, calling it Uraicept Na h-Eicsin rather than Auraicept Na N-Eces. Not being able to read Gaelic I'm at a loss, but would Charles Graves's Uraicept Na h-Eicsin translate into Hearing of The Scholars and therefore account for Robert's error? If not, can anyone offer another idea? It seems to me that Graves was working from second hand information obtained from someone who couldn't translate correctly and this puts him on thin ice in my opinion.

Just a couple thoughts for the day..... Smile
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f.trenchard
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 22, 2002 12:18 pm    Post subject: Sources of White Goddess Reply with quote

The White Goddess and the Truth

Mark’s question about Graves’ sources for the White Goddess springs from a concern about the truth of Graves’ many and varied assertions about ancient history, about Greek, Celtic and Jewish mythology and about the dominant patterns of human life.

Obviously it is possible to make true statements about Graves’ sources and these would be interesting. Mark mentions his father’s library whose books were largely collected by his grandfather. He also mentions The Golden Bough, an epoch-making book in its time but now widely regarded by academic anthropologists as out of date.
The picture painted by Graves himself is that once the need to write the book had been forced upon him by ‘little Gwion’, the books he needed came to him unasked by a felicitous process which he does not call - but might have done - synchronicity. There was therefore a static background to Graves’ knowledge – his father’s library- and a dynamic process, which we may call, adapting his own usage, ‘little Gwion’. Expanding upon this stasis-dynamis antithesis, we may see the myth as icon as a static representation of some important aspect of the dynamics human life.
For Graves it is clear that the right to determine what are the important aspects of the dynamics of human life for a particular society belongs not to the academic with his concern for sources but to the poet with his right of access to the source of all sources, the Hippocrene spring on Mount Helicon. I am neither poet nor academic but as an armchair truth fancier I hang about now in one group now in the other according to whether I fancy living dangerously and perhaps a bit too fast for my lungs or need the security and ordered repose of academe.

Not surprisingly, The White Goddess left me breathless so I welcome the chance to walk among the colonnades rubbing shoulders with men and women in gown and mortarboard and hear the question asked: ‘Oh really? Now is that so?’ But I do not want my experience with the White Goddess to be reduced to the status of a moth in a lepidopterist’s collection. There is no Herculean resurrection for the victims of the lepidopterist.

So I am an ordinary man, a consumer not an inventor of poetry. It is the breath of life that I need to make life interesting and worthwhile. Its price – that is its value to me - is far above rubies but what is the price I have to pay to get it? What has Graves got to say about this? Is he speaking the truth? According to Graves, a poet discovers the truth through his muse who is necessarily an incarnation of the Goddess; he dedicates himself to her because he divines in her the presence of the Goddess and he brings her gifts of poems which are the true expression of himself; he knows they are true when she accepts them. But the poet has a weird at whom the Goddess is always looking over his shoulder. When the summer solstice comes he, as the avatar of the God of the Waxing Year, must give way to this shadowy figure, the God the Waning Year. He must die a real death in order to have a real resurrection when the Winter solstice comes and Robin slays Wren, or Vran.

We might be tempted to dismiss this picture as a rendering of the peculiarities of Graves’ psychology. But then we would need to explain why we join a forum on the White Goddess. We might point out that Graves’ own muse, Laura Riding, grew tired of the strain the Goddess role imposed upon her and resigned. But still we read the book and still it makes upon us the impression of sincerity and truth. If the Golden Bough was an epoch-making book so too is the White Goddess. The new epoch it introduces is the post-Christian epoch which without losing what Christianity brought us must live in ever-increasing awareness of all that official Christianity suppressed.

Any attempt to sum up the book’s relevance to modern life would include ideas along the following lines:
1. Human beings cannot fulfil themselves if they let Apollo be sole arbiter of reality: there must be a source of truth which the individual discovers for him or herself within the context of his own life and which takes into account his sexuality.
2. While it is excellent that women are now able to take a full part in all aspects of our public life the right relationship between the sexes is not one of competition for positions of power. There is a fundamental pattern which governs these relationships and this must be honoured. (We may wonder whether Graves has said the last word on what that pattern is but we cannot doubt that he has brought into focus a significant aspect of it: the question of deity, i.e., of what is worthy of worship, of ultimate value.)
3. It is a truism City life divorces us from our historically rural life. But history is not just a matter of texts and sources it is a living reality affecting our deepest motivations and controlling our creativity and the power to be happy.
4. Poetry is a form of divination. To divine where we are going in life whether as individuals or as a society we need a poetic apprehension of time. Graves’ association of the calendar and the alphabet offers us just that. Unfortunately we would all have to live in the country to get anywhere near appreciating it.
5. The question where we are going remains open.
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Tonal
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 07, 2002 2:56 pm    Post subject: Graves' sources Reply with quote

Hi Mark and Tami.

I'd been studying religous mythology for years before I ran into Graves' 'Goddess'. Graves is auwsome, where many of his predecessors went no further than remarking that ancients alphabets where based on a secret systemology linking the gods with the calender etc etc, Graves seems actually to have been working on how this was done.

I agree with mr. trenchard that Gaves' sources where probably largely dated, even in his time.

I do however have an idea as to what some of these outdated sources might have been.

First:
Geoffrey Higgins, best known for two (very voluminous) book:
1) Celtic Druids
2) Anacalypsis: or an attemt at draw aside the veil of the siatic isis.
The second of these is, by the way, the book upon which H.P.Blavatsky (founder of the theosophical society) moddeled much of her 'Isis Unveiled'.
Though many of his conclusions are outdated his works are a treasure trove of mythological links and obscure facts and ancient traditions. I'm pretty sure Graves must have studied 'anacalypsis' quite thouroughly.
Second:
Gerald Massey: an 19th century egyptologist
1) Book of beginnings
2) The natural Genesis
in these books G. Massey uses a method of comparative typoplogy to analyse ancient myth (concentrating on the egyptian) and comes to many of the same conclusions that Graves does.
I'm less sure about these as a source, but they could well have been.
Third
Thomas Taylor (the platonist)
Well know as being one of the first to translate many of the greek classics to english and using a system of interpretation much like that of Graves.

Generally speaking many of Graves ideas' where current amoung a group of researchers who where active between the end of 18th and the beginninmg of the 19th century. The theosophists being the most well know. (I'm not a theosofist but it can not be denied that virually everything Graves said about the meaning of alphabets and calenders can be found, allbeit in a more general form, in H.P.Blavatsky's 'Isis Unveiled' and 'The Secret Doctrine'. Realistically, going by the content of Graves 'Goddess' and Blavatsky's 'Isis' and 'The Secret Doctrine' it seems very likely that Graves was familiar with her works and her ideas.)

An interesting link for those interested in Graves mythology is the work of Ernst McClain (published in the 1970's) who performed the same service for music and the scale (that is: the ancient science of musical accoustics) that Graves did for the alphabet and the calender and there are many (very) obvious links.

Another very intersting book in this context is Santillana and v. Dechend's 'Hamlets Mill' (an essay investigating the origins of human knowledge and its transmission through myth).

As Tami's suggestion for discussion: I'd love to, especially if we can get into the content of the book. Discussions on sources and validity of methodology are important, but they do seem to have been covered extensively in the past. The outcome seems to be: some people like what he did, others don't. I do.
So, Tami, anything in particular with which you would like to start a discussion?

Regards
Tonal

(Blavatsky's works can be downloaded form the theosophical societies website; Higgins and Massey are available from Kessenger publications, and McClain works are in print at Nicolas Hayes publishing; Hamlets Mill is in print from nonparalel books; T.Taylor's translations (and explanations) are currently being reprinted by Prometeus Trust.)
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Tami Whitehead
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 08, 2002 4:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Tonal, Glad you could join us. Jump on in anywhere, I guess. I am currently discussing giants in Grave's GM in another thread, check it out.
Considering there isn't much discussion going on in general, I'd say just throw something out, and see who bites.

Interesting what you say about Graves and a possible connection to Theosophical Society. I too have wondered about his spirituality, and wondered if maybe he had some ties to any of the groups we know about. I content myself that whatever else, in his soul he was of the "tribes of the moon." His reverence for the Goddess seems sincere, and compared to Budge, downright level-headed. What an interesting time and place Graves was in, caught between worlds as it were, coming in just after what we think of as a classical education was the norm for boys from good families, when so many wonderful discoveries were being made, and the old tabus of the English approach to myth being discarded in light of objective sociology.

But anyhow, like I said, jump on in anywhere. Comment exhaustively, get technical, theorize, pontificate, question, or rant. There's another thread going on in Grave Greeting, just below this thread, and I am sure another thread will be starting soon. Again, thanks for checking it out.
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Mark Carter
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 09, 2002 12:36 am    Post subject: Sources Reply with quote

Well, I'm going to write a little on this thread too, in regards to Tonal's comments, just out of boredom at the moment. Smile

I never considered that Graves might have read Geoffrey Higgins's works. To be honest, I've never read Higgins myself so I can't make the comparison. However, Graves does draw on a few other Celtic researchers who were popular within the same time frame (late 18th and early 19th cent.). So, Graves may have read Higgins as well or he simply found most of the same ideas in other authors of the time. The research of a lot of these authors overlapped a great deal. We have to remember that there was a big rise in popularity regarding Celtic Lit. at about this time.

The Celtic sources that we can be sure of include Edward Davies, D.W. Nash, Iolo Morganwg, Lady C. Guest, R.A.S. Macalister, the Myvyrian Archaiology (by various contributors), the Calder translation of Auraicept Na N-Eces and Rodrick O'Flaherty's Ogygia. These are the sources Graves mentions by author or title within WG. I suspect, but can not yet prove, that Graves also drew on Skene's Four Ancient Books Of Wales for some alternate translations of the early Welsh poets.

The 1st thing we notice with these sources is that they were all out dated by the time Graves wrote WG. Macalister was the most recent and his Secret Languages Of Ireland dates to 1937. Why did Graves draw so much on older sources? Graves was supporting a lot of ideas that had already gone out of style by the time he wrote WG and he was forced to go back to older sources that upheld those older ideas. In particular we can cite Edward Davies. Graves draws a lot from this man, even tho Davies was pretty much crazy. Graves himself calls him "hopelessly erratic". Matthews called him "eccentric in the extreme" and Seymour called him "unbalanced". He wrote a lot of hype about the (false) idea that Bardic poetry concealed a large portion of the druidic religion. Graves picks over Davies, taking what he wants and leaving the rest.

Nash was author of Taliesin: Or The Bards And Druids Of Britain (1858). For some reason Graves never mentions Nash's book by title but it's obvious that this is the book Graves is speaking of. Taliesin was mainly a reaction to the ideas of Davies. Nash blows Davies out of the water and pretty much disproves the whole idea of druidic survival in Bardic poetry. This may link back to why Graves never cites Nash's book by title. Graves takes a lot of Nash out of context and maybe he didn't want anyone following up behind him and realizing just how much he had done so. I suspect this is also why WG has no bibliography. It wouldn't so much reveal the extent of Graves's research as it would reveal his bias. However, because Graves couldn't read Welsh himself the Myvyrian Archaiology was worthless to him. He needed to draw on English translations and that is why he drew from Nash. Nash translates over 50 of the 77 poems attributed to Taliesin. Nash is almost the sole source of all of Graves's translations.

Lady Guest's translation of the Mab. was also out of date by the time Graves wrote WG, but we can't blame him for drawing on it. The Guest trans. was still the standard and was the most popular trans. of the Mab. at the time he wrote. I think there were 2 other translations in print when Graves wrote but I won't swear to it. I'm too lazy to actually go and look right now. Smile

The Auraicept Na N-Eces was a medieval primer of the Irish/Gaelic language which survives in multiple copies. Graves claims to have draw from the Calder translation of this work but in his 3 or so mentions of the book he never gets the title right. This leads me to believe that Graves never had the book in front of him as he wrote. How could he have the book and never get the title right? Calder translates Auraicept Na N-Eces as The Scholar's Primer but Graves calls it Hearings Of The Scholars and refers to it once as a "manual of cryptography" found in the Book Of Ballymote. For the record, Graves's grandfather Charles Graves, also wrote about Ogham and drew from the Auraicept and got the Irish title wrong. Is it possible that Graves found the incorrect title given by his Grandfather and thus arrived at the incorrect English translation of Hearing Of The Scholars? Even if this is true, why didn't Graves catch the mistake when he drew on the Calder trans.?

Lastly, although it's not a source of Celtic lit. I'd like to suggest that Life Of Sir William Rowan Hamilton by (the other) Robert Graves was a source for WG. Early in the 1st vol. of that book Graves gives a system of hand signaling that may have left a mark on the later Graves. Seymour-Smith explains that Graves had learned this system as a child and used it between himself and his sister. It doesn't have much in common with Graves's Ogham signaling system but I still think there's a link. If nothing else, both systems group the vowels together neatly instead of putting them in their correct places. Macalister also suggested that Ogham was used in secret signaling and the idea does have a little support in Celtc myth, but exactly how the system worked is unknown. This left Graves free to create whatever system he wanted.

The mention of Life Of Sir William Rowan Hamilton leads to another point. I suspect that Graves was familar with a lot of these Celtic sources since childhood. These out dated Celtic books are exactly the sort of thing his Father would have in his library. Graves mentions the impact of his Father's library on his early education in GTAT. I can't prove this, but I suspect a great many of the sources for WG came from that library. Graves may have laid out his general ideas from memory and then gone back to check it against those very same books he had read as a kid. This is just my guess. Maybe someone out there can help me with where Graves found some of the more rare sources for WG? I know there are some letters in which Graves mentions various people helping him find certain books. Anybody?

Frazer, Murray and Harrison are also sources for WG, but that is obvious. Graves had read them early and hints of this can be found in his poetry. Vickery covers this so I'll spare repeating it to those who are more familar with Graves's work than I am.

Two other books which I suspect Graves drew from are Briffault's The Mothers (1927) and Harding's Women's Mysteries (1935). Neither are mentioned in WG, but as I said, Graves frequently fails to mention his sources in WG. I think someone else has already proven Graves did not draw from Briffault, but now I can't find the material in question. Does anyone know anything about this? I don't want to repeat (or contradict) anyone who has done more research than I've been able to do. It seems unreal that Graves would not use Briffault tho. The 2 men had so much in common that it was unreal to think Graves wasn't aware of The Mothers by the time he wrote WG.

As for Harding's Women's Mysteries, I'm fairly convinced Graves read it. He may have failed to mention it because Harding drew so much on Jung, which Graves detested. Harding deals with moon symbolism, lunar links to menstruation, images of a 3x goddess, the linking of bull horns to the crescent moon and the symbolism of the unicorn. More interestingly, Graves cites a couple of obscure pieces of ancient art which Harding also mentioned. I don't have the sources on hand to cite them (I'm not writing from home at the moment) but I will find them if anyone want them.

Just some ideas. Feedback anyone?
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Tami Whitehead
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 09, 2002 5:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mark, you said:
"The Auraicept Na N-Eces was a medieval primer of the Irish/Gaelic language which survives in multiple copies. Graves claims to have draw from the Calder translation of this work but in his 3 or so mentions of the book he never gets the title right. This leads me to believe that Graves never had the book in front of him as he wrote. How could he have the book and never get the title right? Calder translates Auraicept Na N-Eces as The Scholar's Primer but Graves calls it Hearings Of The Scholars and refers to it once as a "manual of cryptography" found in the Book Of Ballymote. For the record, Graves's grandfather Charles Graves, also wrote about Ogham and drew from the Auraicept and got the Irish title wrong. Is it possible that Graves found the incorrect title given by his Grandfather and thus arrived at the incorrect English translation of Hearing Of The Scholars? Even if this is true, why didn't Graves catch the mistake when he drew on the Calder trans.? "

OK, I'm going to go out on a limb here...what if he is aware of the discrepancy, and put it there deliberately to be found? What if it is a riddle? I mean, given the nature of the book, and the importance of the asking and answering of riddles, what if he wanted to drive his point home by planting an obscure little 'thang' in the work itself, to be picked up on by some future adept scholar...He spends a lot of time in WG trying to show how to encode and how to decrypt, how to know when to...

I think there is something to this. Perhaps a reasonably serious read of it would reveal the mistranslation to a few, but perhaps that's not enough. Perhaps there is some arcane punch-line to the particular way it's mistranslated, or refers to some familial monograph or an inside joke. Just my two cents. This is fascinating. Smile

You said:

"The 1st thing we notice with these sources is that they were all out dated by the time Graves wrote WG. Macalister was the most recent and his Secret Languages Of Ireland dates to 1937. Why did Graves draw so much on older sources? Graves was supporting a lot of ideas that had already gone out of style by the time he wrote WG and he was forced to go back to older sources that upheld those older ideas. In particular we can cite Edward Davies. Graves draws a lot from this man, even tho Davies was pretty much crazy. Graves himself calls him "hopelessly erratic". Matthews called him "eccentric in the extreme" and Seymour called him "unbalanced". He wrote a lot of hype about the (false) idea that Bardic poetry concealed a large portion of the druidic religion. Graves picks over Davies, taking what he wants and leaving the rest. "

Interesting. Forgive me if I sound silly asking this, but when you ask the question of why he used dated material, are you implying there were more contemporary sources for him to draw on? I am still learning a lot about Graves and the general subject matter he deals with, so please bear with me.

You mentioned older sources to hold up older ideas...and that his father wrote about Ogham...was this a topic that very much was written about? Was the whole tree alphabet thing something that was general knowledge?

Great information in the post, BTW! Lots of good stuff to think about. This is gonna be fun Cool

Tami
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 09, 2002 12:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well Hello there,

this is interesting, I'm used to being told that I'm not being 'scientific' when I talk about these things, being encouraged to rant is quite a new experience. First off I should warn you, I'm not a native english speaker and I'm a bit dislectic, so you'll have to forgive my many language mistakes. The first one of which was a typo in my last post: I wrote:
"many of Graves ideas' where current amoung a group of researchers who where active between the end of 18th and the beginninmg of the 19th century.", obiously it should have read "between the end of 18th and the beginninmg of the 20th century".

as for Graves actually being a theosophist: I don't think so. The Theosophists are studying the largely patriarchal system that followed the one graves was studying. As I understand Graves was looking for the original 'Goddess' religeon before is was combined with what he terms (patriarchal) 'ideas from the east'. It's interesting to note that according to Blavatsky the same development (from pure goddess to combined male female; later perdominantly male) occurred in India before the new syntnesis was transported west.

They do however use the same method of comparative mythology and both assume that myth, far from being a 'disease of primitive man' as Huxley would have it, must be based on a coherent manner of though, strange as it may seem to us. They cover a lot of the same material and agree on most of the details of interpretation. Going by the dates and content he must have read her work and taken at least some clues from it.

In all honesty, I haven't finished 'Goddess'. I bought it a few years ago because I really liked graves 'Greek Myths'. I never got around to reading it untill some financial setbacks turned my attention to my bookcase (in stead of the bookstore). I was a good 50 pages into the book before I started hitting myself in the head for not reading it before.

Over the last decade I've been studying a similar system, in this case of calender and musical scale, 'hidden', in its most compleet form, in the dialogs of plato, but traces of which can be found in may religous texts.
I've been trying to get people interested in the subject for years but achademicy seem to have a strange (and strong) aversion to anything 'hidden' in historical research. Accusing me of projecting neo-platonic myths about pythagoras onto plato etc. I've gotten a lot of flak from people who've never taken the trouble to actually look at the subject.
In defence of going of on the Plato tangent on this website I'd could point out that in his letters Plato indicates that his doctrines where taken from what he considdered to be the ancient mysteries, probably Eulusis and/or samothrace. If there was any place in Plato's time where a relatively unmollested version of the goddess religeon was to be found it would have been there.
I have next to no knowledge Irish/Celtic sources (yet) as it is a subject I'm just starting on, but I'm well read in what we might call 'mediteranian' sources.
In dayly life I'm a computer programmer, which gives me a bit of an edge on using the internet. I've got an great collection of religous e-texts (which I'd be happy to share with anyone who's interested). By the way: does anyone know of any internet resources on Irish texts, so far I've found only one.

My hopes are this: if we could convinsingly and systemetically relate Graves alphabet calender to McClains Musical calender, it might give us enough information to compleet another one of these systems whether it be hebrew, egyptian, babylonian of Indian. From there we might be able to expand such systems to cover more (or) all of the so called 'sacred sciences of the ancients'. That is: I assume that if the ancients (neo-platonists) are right about a hidden system relating alphabet to calender and number systems (of which music is one) in ancient doctrines they might well be right about all the sciences being connected.

I'd love to see if I can explain the musical stuff to you all but I don't know how people would feel about leaving the subject of graves as such for a time; diving into something seemingly compleetly different before ythe links become obvious.
If we do we might be able to continue with what Graves was doing instead of just rehashing Graves discoveries (not that there is anything wrong with that) en discovering more about these ancient systems of hidden relations.
For me anyway reading the first 393 pages has left me with 47 pages of notes and a 67 point to do list. I haven't been this exited for a long time and I can't wait to get a copy of Graves Hebrew Myths.

So let me know: if anyone is interested I'll start a new thread, explain the musical stuff (this could take a while) and then we would be in a position to continue studying the links together. Which would be relief for me as I've been studying this stuff for 14 years without EVER having been able to discuss it with ANYONE.

In response to Tamy: what I was actually suggesting was that graves used Higgins' anacalypsis as a source for his non-Irish research, namely his interpretation of classical and judio-christian material (which is comparable to Blavatsky's; Higgins was actually one of her mos important sources for this material) and also for his general ideas about the development of the alphabet. For a man like Graves who could read Irish, Higgins' Celtic Druids is a 90% rehash of what had allready been written (and outdated). There is one exception (I'n not sure if its in anacalypsis or celtic druids): Higgins comments on the then (and now) current assumtion amoung researchers that the Irish (and norse) alphabets where all taken at a relatively late date from the romans with whom they'd been in contact. If these are later copies, he askes, then why do these alphabets originally contain only those letters (he has 17 discounting the H-aspirate) that where original to the roman alphabet centuries before (the romans having extended their alphabet with extra letters by the time they hit Gaul and the rest of northern Europe)?
I think this argument found it's way into Bavasky's 'Isis' and SD as well.
I'm ammazed that you've actualy heard of Higgins, I thought it was a pretty abscure source that only people studying Blavastky knew about.

One more general question: I've run into a lot of references on Irish material over the years, but never paid much attention to original sources. Can anyone give me an idea of what to start with in terms of books?

Time to get back to work Crying or Very sad

Regards
Tonal

p.s. I was in Bretonge last summer. Went to see most of the megaliths at Carnac and the surrounding area. Absolutly awe-inspiring (if you can manage to ignore the rest of the tourists), and there are some (possible) links with the calender and scale (possibly alphabet) in the engravings of the Gravinis and Tablue de Marchats Dolmens.
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Mark Carter
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 10, 2002 5:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello again everyone,

Just a couple of quick replies here. Tami had suggested that Graves's mistake over the Auraicept Na N-Eces may have been intentional, as a form of a riddle. I guess I can't rule out the idea considering some of the other crazy stuff in WG, but I really don't think he would have done something like that. Graves is really poor about citing his sources in WG and I think part of that is that he didn't want anyone to follow up on his research. Following up would only reveal his bias. I also tend to think that for many of his references Graves was working from memory. This is unlikely for many of the books he mentions but certainly not for them all. I'm fairly sure that Graves could have quoted more common sources like the Bible or some of the better known poems from memory. With other sources, like Frazer, he may not have been able to quote from memory but he was familar enough with them to cite the point he wanted to draw on.

We can see from the book itself that Graves knew his Frazer inside and out. He also knew Cad Goddeu since childhood, as he admits early in the book. He had also covered a lot of points in Keats's La Belle Dame Sans Merci in an earlier book. These are sources he's familar with.....but I'm drifting from my point.....

The point is, I don't think Auraicept Na N-Eces was a book Graves was familar with before his WG research. Nor do I think it's a book he could have expected his readers to know, with the exception of a few Celtic historians who probably caught the error instantly. So, Graves either had to consult the book himself or have someone do it for him and report back their findings. I don't think Graves could read the Auraicept in its original Irish. (Someone please correct me if I'm wrong in saying Graves couldn't read Gaelic or Welsh.) So he either read it in Calder's translation or he had someone else do the research and report back to him. Maybe someone else did the research and they had read it from the original and mistranslated it when they reported back to him? Just an idea. This is more likely than the idea that Graves consulted a book 3 times and got the title wrong all 3 times despite the fact that the title is clearly marked on the cover of the book. Either that or there is an earlier translation that I'm not aware of which mistranslated the title into Hearing Of The Scholars.

Granted, maybe Graves did introduce the error intentionally and so far nothing I've said rules this out. However, there were people at the time who would have found such an error instantly. It wouldn't be as if Graves was making a riddle which would take years to find. The experts of the day would have noticed instantly and, considering they are the only ones who would notice, I dobut Graves was trying to suggest a riddle to them. The riddle would have been lost on anyone but a Celtic expert and those experts wouldn't have seen it as a riddle but only as another error in a book in which they found many other questionable claims. As far as there being some sort of hidden joke or punch-line, I don't know. I'm not enough of a Celtic historian to know but I would think that if there were such a thing concealed in WG only the experts would catch it and I'm not sure Graves was shooting for an expert crowd anyway or if he was, if they would apperciate the joke. Then agian, the dry academic sense of humor is usually pretty lame by common standards anyway.

Tami had also said, "Interesting. Forgive me if I sound silly asking this, but when you ask the question of why he used dated material, are you implying there were more contemporary sources for him to draw on?"

I'm sure there were, but I'm not able to name any of them off the top of my head right now. (I'm away from home and my books at the moment.) I will look into it if you like. I can say for sure that by the time Graves wrote WG Frazer was already in decline. So was Murray. Rose's A Razor For A Goat had picked apart Murray. (Even tho Razor's suggestions were equally faulty.) Harrison was based on Frazer, so when Frazer went into decline so did she. I'll have to dig up the sources on this for you tho. I should know them off the top of my head but I don't.

The Celtic aspect of WG was clearly outdated. Really Graves was dragging up an old idea, that Bardic poetry contained hidden elements of druidism. Davies had suggested this in the early 1800's and by 1858 Nash had killed the idea. There were 2 other translations of the Mab. by this time too. I'll try to find which ones they were for you. Lastly, nobody depended on Iolo Morganwg by the time WG came out. He had been suspected of forgery from day one and by the 1940's he was being laughed at by just about anyone outside of the druidic revival groups. I'm sorry I can't give you titles and dates from memory but I will look for you. I know that if you check Hutton's The Triumph of the Moon you may find some stuff about the decline of Frazer and Murray. Also, the stuff that John Matthews is reprinting in his collections regarding Celtic Lit. will show the development of ideas since Davies and Nash had it out in the 1800's. I'll check into it for you.

Later.......... Very Happy
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Tami Whitehead
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Joined: 28 Sep 2002
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Location: Southeast Texas

PostPosted: Sun Oct 13, 2002 1:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Guys,
You must please forgive if I do not post much the next few days...my husband is home from his job, and I am kinda busy Cool

But please let me take this opportunity to thank Ian for putting this little shindig together. Among his other duties, he is the host of our little clatch, and hats off to him for his efforts...I know that myself at least was very much in need of a Graves forum, to pick other people's brains and bounce ideas off of. I am by no means anything that could qualify as a 'Graves scholar' but I try. I have learned a lot so far just posting with those who know so much more, and I have 100 questions to ask, I am just glad you guys are here and that this forum exists to give us a place to meet and "hash over" things.

One more thing, and I am outta here... some of us on this list have Yahoo, and since I do too, p'raps we can convene on say, Saturday nites and chat... just an idea, but it would be fun, to talk to other 1% of the population. Anyhow, I usually chat with my Campbell group (don't throw anything, I just did it to be able to talk myth) on Saturday nites, so I thought why not see if you guys wanted to chat, which I would prefer over analyzing everyone's dreams anyhow...

So, if you have yahoo, I'll buzz you. Very Happy
Tami
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Tami Whitehead
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Joined: 28 Sep 2002
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Location: Southeast Texas

PostPosted: Mon Oct 14, 2002 6:05 pm    Post subject: Riddle Me This, Batman! Reply with quote

Hi Mark,

I just wanted to drop a few lines in response to your response to the possibility of Grave's riddling his readers...

I admit, it was a shot in the dark. I am used to reading occult writers and alchemical texts, and of course myth, so I am only too ready it seems to think there may be hidden messages encoded in arcane documents, that persistant and sometimes compulsive students such as myself can figure out...Given the nature of WG, and the exhaustive attempts of our intrepid Mr. Graves to illustrate the encoding of Battle of the Trees, well, I guess I just thought it was possible...

I did dream of this, in a way, the other nite. Just a flash, an old-timey nursery high up in the house, with a little school desk, ink pots and a painted pony. On the blackboard were the words "Cooper's Celtic Grammar" and some more writing, like that was the lesson for the day. The nursery hadn't been used for many years. I don't know if this signifies anything at all, or nothing at all Smile

I am curious about your statement, that Graves was poor in citing his sources because he didn't want anyone following up his research...Do you really think so? Was this a jealously guarded secret or something? Do you think he had plans to publish more on the subject, and didn't want anyone stealing his thunder? Or what? More please...

I would believe what you said about him working from memory on some things, especially in a rough draft of a work. I would be disappointed, though. I may have the entirely wrong view of Graves, but I did think he was somewhat more, er, scholarly than that.

Perhaps I am misguided. Does anyone know what the opinion of his book was in the Celtic scholar circles, especially when it first came out? I have seen him referred to by many writers, like you said in an earlier post, and it seems that he was respected...did I get the correct opinion? You also said that you didn't know of any contemporary writers that he might have consulted on the subject, but I still get the impression that you think he should have had less dated material to work with. Am I missing something?

Hope everyone had a great weekend. We went to the Zwolle Tamale Festival just over the border in Louisiana. It was ok, but they didn't have all the families selling their own tamales...commercialization, I guess. But it was better than staying home and folding clothes Very Happy

Anyhow, that's it for now.
Tami
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Mark Carter
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Joined: 01 Jun 2002
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Location: Bloomington, IL, USA

PostPosted: Wed Oct 16, 2002 8:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello again Tami;

Just some quick notes again....

You said, "I am used to reading occult writers and alchemical texts,". Have you tried reading The Book Of Lambspring, which Graves cites in WG? It's a short alchemical text with some interesting symbolism. It mentions the unicorn, stag, dog and Phoenix...some of the prime symbols of WG. Yet, it takes those symbols in another direction, seemingly away from the meaning Graves would like to put on them. It really reminds me more of something like Yeats's A Vision and the symbolism he tried to use in some parts of that book. If I recall properly, Graves and Yeats put very different meanings on the unicorn. I tend to think that Graves's comments about the unicorn in The Book Of Lambspring might have been a clever attack upon Yeats's ideas in A Vision. A Vision was highly influenced by alchemical texts like Lambspring. Graves, on the other hand, detested most occult books and detested Yeats as being too involved with the occult. I sometimes wonder if Graves was jealous of Yeats. After all, Yeats had already played out many aspects of Celtic mysticism long before Graves came along. Not only did Yeats cover these points but he did so in a way Graves didn't agree with. So, Yeats sort of stacked the cards against Graves long before Graves ever wrote WG. Anyway, you can read The Book Of Lambspring at http://www.levity.com/alchemy/lambtext.html

Tami said, "Given the nature of WG, and the exhaustive attempts of our intrepid Mr. Graves to illustrate the encoding of Battle of the Trees, well, I guess I just thought it was possible... "

I agree that it's possible. I just don't think it's likely. I'm sure Graves could have hidden anything in WG if he wanted to. My question would be, what was hidden, why, and who did he expect to find it? I suspect most readers weren't qualified to find anything hidden in a mistranslation of a book title and that those who were qualified wouldn't apperciate the trick for what it was anyway.

Tami said, "I am curious about your statement, that Graves was poor in citing his sources because he didn't want anyone following up his research...Do you really think so? Was this a jealously guarded secret or something? Do you think he had plans to publish more on the subject, and didn't want anyone stealing his thunder? Or what? More please... "

Well, maybe I'm just being anal but I think he could have done a lot better in citing his sources. A good history book usually has a bibliography and when this is lacking I start to ask why would an author not want to show his sources. Anyone who did solid research would want to prove it by listing his sources. This would help readers follow up on their own if they wanted to. It would also help him back up his claims if asked. He could whip out his source books and show where his ideas are supported by other authors. When a author fails to give a bibliography I wonder if it is because he didn't do the research or if there are no supporting sources behind his claims.
There is also the fact that Graves's research may have been biased. I tend to think he had set out his "findings" from the start and then only consulted the books he needed to "prove" his findings. He pretty much admits this himself near the end of WG when he mentions that he already "knew" the answers and simply had to verify them with the proper texts, which he claims fell into his hands over a short period of time. Someone else has already pointed out the fact that Graves would have reached the same conclusion regardless of what sources he used. He already knew what he wanted to "find" and it was just a matter of consulting the right books, ignoring the conflicting evidence and bending the sources when needed. He did consult a lot of good sources for the ideas he wanted to uphold, but even if he had consulted less worthy books he would have reached the same result....he simply would have bent his sources a little more to get there. I'm reminded of a saying that someone once told me. "When your only tool is a hammer, all of your problems look like nails".
Nor is the lack of bibliography the only problem with his sources. He also fails to cite them correctly in the text and this leaves us hanging. Sure, we all know the Bible, we all know that when he says "Frazer" he means The Golden Bough but what about other sources? Less familar books should be cited by title, author and year. Failure to do this means that the reader may not be able to follow up on any given source. I know that a lot of the titles mentioned in WG were unknown to me. In order to reconstruct a bibliography for WG I had to flip thru the book and enter each of the titles into www.bibliofind.com and pull up the book. This allowed me to find the full title, author and year of many obscure books I never heard of. Before Bibliofind came along how could we have found those books we had never heard of or look up the authors Graves mentions without telling us the book title?
Even with Bibliofind I still couldn't find all the books or authors. I can only think of a single example from memory. Graves draws on the work of someone named E.M. Parr 2 or 3 times in WG, but never mentions who he is or what he's writen. I've searched Bibliofind and nothing by this author comes up. Who the hell is he? What did he write? Why are we to accept his opinions? For all we know he's a nobody. If he was well known when Graves wrote WG he has since sunk into oblivion. I suspect he's some specialist in some field and that people within that field today may be familar with his works, but the rest of the world has no clue who the man is and why Graves would quote him or why the reader should believe anything he says. By the same token, Graves mentions Erich Ludendorff. How many people realize who he was? I could hardly remember, but I had a slight memory of him being the Nazi leader who tried to reconstruct Germanic paganism in the early days of the Nazi party. I did some research and found I was right. Yet, all the research in the world has failed to turn up E.M. Parr.
Of course, part of this is the fault of the reader. We can't blame Graves if the reader is uneducated. I only had a slight idea of who Ludendorff was, or who Colley Cibber was. That's my own fault. Those are people who should probably never be forgotten. OTOH, there are people like Parr, whom we have forgotten, and probably rightfully so. There are others Graves mentions as well, but I don't have WG in front of me to find them all right now.

Tami said, "I may have the entirely wrong view of Graves, but I did think he was somewhat more, er, scholarly than that."

Well, I don't mean to imply that Graves was uneducated in any way. He was clearly one of the most literary men of his time. He saw connections between these myths, poems and history in a way few people could grasp. I just think he could have done a better job documenting his research and I tend to think that maybe part of the reason he didn't do this is because he made certain leaps which the readers may not have agreed with.

Tami said, "Does anyone know what the opinion of his book was in the Celtic scholar circles, especially when it first came out?.....You also said that you didn't know of any contemporary writers that he might have consulted on the subject, but I still get the impression that you think he should have had less dated material to work with."

In the introduction to WG Graves mentions that he ran the 1st few chapters of the book in Wales magazine and recieved only a single reply, which was negative. Everyone else seemed to avoid the book totally, as Graves admits in the introduction. Graves realized that the experts were avoiding the book, or at least avoiding the task of passing their opinion on it. There are a couple of places in WG where Graves mentions that the experts will denounce the book or avoid it altogether.
As for contemporary writers, Graves did consult with a few of them. The best known of them was probably R.A.S. Macalister, the ogham expert. Graves mentions exchanging letters with Macalister regarding ogham. There are a couple other places where Graves mentions letters from various contributors, but none of them are people we recognize today. I think Macalister was the only Celtic historian Graves wrote to but I won't swear to it.

Looking back I see I have writen (another) long and probably boring rant. I only check this board when I'm bored and have time to kill so I guess you can see that my posts get away from me when I have nothing else to do. As a final thought, I wish this board had a spell checker! Smile
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Tami Whitehead
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 19, 2002 8:36 pm    Post subject: I Found EM Parr Reply with quote

Hi Mark,

Thanks for the reply. Thanks also for the link to the alchemical texts. Many of them I had not read before, and most I do not have copies of, so it will come in handy. I checked out Lambspring as you suggested, and I see what you mean about different direction for the symbols. I have some ideas, though, and if we ever get into a specific discussion on alchemical symbolism in Graves' work we can explore that. Smile

While looking over some of the woodplates for Lambspring, the 9th image in particular caught my attention, as it is the "traditional" image of The Emporer of the tarot: crowned figure holding an orb with a cross, seated on a square throne...just thought I would throw that in.

I feel a bit better after your explanation of Graves' weakness in citing sources sometimes. I too have been frustrated sometimes trying to track down or flesh out some obscure reference he throws out, as I stated in one of my first posts to this list. I read a review of WG recently that said that WG was Graves' attempt to put on paper his internal rationalization of his personal beliefs, or something like that...I guess I can see it better if I remember to look at it in that light--less of an actual "textbook" than a journey in reasoning and 'lunar thought.' That makes the gaps and hand grenades in WG more digestable, to me at least.

Oh, I did some digging, and have found a reference to a work by E.M. Parr. Apparently he was a co-author on a paper or book called Excavation at Medieval Kinet, Turkey: A Preliminary Report, and that work is used as a reference in a journal of Ancient Eastern studies. You can read about it at http://www.peeters-leuven.be/journoverz.asp?nr=1

So, don't despair! I hope that helps...

Tami
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ian
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Joined: 25 May 2002
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 19, 2002 10:38 pm    Post subject: Re: I Found EM Parr Reply with quote

Tami Whitehead wrote:
Hi Mark,

Oh, I did some digging, and have found a reference to a work by E.M. Parr. Apparently he was a co-author on a paper or book called Excavation at Medieval Kinet, Turkey: A Preliminary Report, and that work is used as a reference in a journal of Ancient Eastern studies. You can read about it at http://www.peeters-leuven.be/journoverz.asp?nr=1

Tami


That appears to be quite a recent publication and isn't likely to be the same E.M. Parr.

That said, I've searched the Bodleian Library catalogue and can't find an E.M. Parr reference to match... so this is troublesome. Where in TWG does the reference occur?

Ian
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