Tuesday, January 30, 2007


Much of the information on occultism relies on the work of James Webb. THE OCCULT UNDERGROUND, THE OCCULT ESTABLISHMENT and THE HARMONIOUS CIRCLE contain a broad spectrum of information without which a great deal less could be known of the dark side of religion. Webb, unlike most occult writers, has credibility. Trinity College, Cambridge is said to have granted a biennial James Webb Memorial Prize awarded in his honor.

Anyone who wishes to keep information about occultism secret must contend with James Webb's work. For that reason a book titled THE DAMNED by Gary Lachman raises some curiosity since it seems to discredit Webb if the review at Fortean Times is any indication.

The review tells of Webb's relationship with Joyce Collin-Smith during the time of his marriage to Mary. This is the same Collin-Smith, sister-in-law of Rodney Collin, who was with Collin at his commune in Mexico City. Collin-Smith met Webb when he was doing research for his book on Gurdjieff, a book he completed not long before he died. The review does not say that the relationship was sexual; it merely hints that it was. It also tells of Webb's mental breakdown and the suicide that ended his life. Webb shot himself during or immediately after what appears to have been a psychotic episode. He was about to write a book about Rudolf Steiner when he died.

Joyce Collin-Smith confirms much of the detail in the review at the Gurdjieff website. In writing of Webb's breakdown, she reveals

...he wrote: 'Over the past four or five months I have been changing positions so rapidly that I haven't known whether I was on my head or my heels. I would go to bed a Manichee and rise from it a Buddhist. The day after I would be convinced by Cabala or Gnostic Christianity. The symbol of the Celtic Cross has come to mean a great deal to me - the circle of reincarnation transformed by the symbol of redemption."

That would seem to be a nice description of the dangers of interreligious dialog.

In her biography of Webb, Collin-Smith recounts his description of "two years of nightmare" in which he had "a full-scale nervous breakdown, with hallucinations, visions, and a fine repertoire of subjectively supernatural experiences."

Visions and supernatural experiences are the sum and substance of Catholic apparitions. Yet here is evidence that these phenomena can occur outside of the context of faith. In Webb's description of the medium who worked with Rodney Collin there was an example of the stigmata appearing outside of the Catholic religious context. It is for this reason that the approval of the Church for any supernatural phenomenon is essential before Catholics in the pew take it up. Whether we argue that satan mimics religious events or that the subconscious does it, efforts to bring these events about through techniques are a movement into precarious territory. For this reason the efforts promoted by monks and others to induce contemplation should be monitored closely by the leaders of the Church with the Church's teaching on New Age clearly a criteria of discernment. Yet that is not happening.

In any case, Webb's credibility does seem to be challenged by this evidence of his real psychological problems, yet that must be balanced by the historical details he presents in his books.

It would appear that at the end of his life Webb was searching for religious context that would accommodate the bulk of his findings, yet it seems that he could not find one suitable to all of them. He does seem to have found astrology credible if Collin-Smith's description of his last years is accepted as accurate. Given that she is a noted astrologer and tarot reader, a bias is inevitable, however. There is no hint of a sexual union in her account of Webb.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Weblog Commenting by HaloScan.com

<< # St. Blog's Parish ? >>