Apostles and Inklings
- The Cambridge Apostles was, is, a secret and elite Cambridge University
group, founded in 1820, which was originally intended to bring fresh impetus
to Christian revelation and create a basis of deeper scholarship as a surer
foundation for the Church. In itself a high ideal. There must, at the time,
have been a yearning for the coming revelations of Spiritual Science, for a
key to deeper understanding of the Christian Mystery than was currently
possible. However, the rigid format and structure of the group, based on
past social structures and forms of consciousness proved unreceptive to such
Cambridge University has long been an Establishment institution, as was
- and is - the Anglican Church. With twelve founder members The Cambridge
Apostles was initially conversational, evangelical and aspirationaly
apostolic in nature, a forum for 'higher' thought where members debated
ideas and read their essays to one another. They developed their own code
and private jargon, always a sure means of strengthening a group and bonding
members. Those who joined but attended only occasionally were known as
'Angels' and said to 'take wing'. Those not yet fully accepted as members
were secretly assessed and screened and known as 'embryos'.
It is still in existence, still secretive, a society whose current
members, for whatever reason, are unwilling to talk about it. Today the
Apostles are best known for the spies Burgess, Blunt, Maclean, and Philby,
the infamous Cambridge Four, recruited by the KGB.
It is a Society that turned about over the years. Its exclusive nature
and secrecy ensuring that it became antithesis rather than Ideal of
Christian Brotherhood. Its original ethos was of an elevated, intellectual
and fructifying intercourse between men, which they referred to as the
'Higher Sodomy', which they believed would give birth to new revelation.
Despite the original pure idealism of 'Higher Sodomy', from the 1830's
onward highly promiscuous physical homosexuality became almost a basic for
the Cambridge Apostles although a few members were heterosexual. The docks
were a favourite source of anonymous and transient young men for casual sex
for some Apostles, whence came the now famous greeting 'Hello sailor.'
'Even the womanisers pretend to be sods, lest they shouldn't be thought
respectable' Duncan Grant
Since homosexuality was illegal at the time, secrecy was all the more
necessary within the society and strengthened bonds between members. A
common technique of secret societies even today is for members to commit an
illegal act, which can then be levied as blackmail, enforcing close
'brotherhood' ties. A highly Ahrimanic and coercive technique, inimical to
real brotherliness which surely is founded in openness and freedom. Members
of such closed groups have outlaw status in common.
Maynard Keynes and Lytton Strachey were the chief protagonists of what
became a cult of homosexuality within the group, which waned somewhat when
Ludwig Wittgenstein, although homosexual himself, rejected the idea of 'The
Higher Sodomy' and homosexuality itself as cultus.
Modern Apostles tend to be reticent about membership and keep silence
concerning the group. We do know of some. Apostle Dr Jonathan Miller now
completes the about turn of the original society by promoting his 'devout
atheism' in a series of television programs, using the Freudian concept of
'religion as thought disorder' We may recall Rudolf Steiner's assertion
that atheism is an illness...
The Apostles guard their secrets still, and there is something in such
secrecy that is inherently destructive of purposed ideal. The narrow Path
is still the open road, where, Wayfarers all, we meet Everyman and walk
beside him. Narrowest path is wide enough for 'two or three', easily wide
enough for meetings with One Who might walk in their midst...
To have maintained the integrity of their original ideal of refreshing the
Church, to be modern ev-angels the original Cambridge Apostles needed what
was yet to come, the revelations of Rudolf Steiner, the Christian Initiate.
Later Apostles failed to take them up, although there were great minds and
souls amongst them.
Within the Establishment Elitist University of Cambridge, once attended by
Bacon, it is particularly difficult to escape the reductionist scientific
ethos for which it is world famous. Oxford University, an equally Elitist
Establishment similarly has a long tradition of secret brotherhoods. But
beautiful Oxford-Shire and Oxford University life also nurtured Tolkien and
was the meeting place of another, loosely formed, open society of friends,
Speaking humorously, one might say that the immutable Sod's Law (Murphy's
Law is the US version) came into play and it was the Inklings from rival
Oxford who, in friendship and shared high Christian endeavour, actually
realized the pure Ideal of what the Cambridge Apostles called the Higher
The word sodomy derived from Sodom, but there is another sod,
differently rooted, meaning seethe, sodden, bubbling up, wellspring or
soaked earth. (Whatever I research at this time seems to lead me directly or
indirectly to water, bearer of life patterns and rhythms, open interface
with ethers.) Great wellsprings of wisdom and story bubbled up in this real
brotherhood of questing friends.
One important difference between Cambridge Apostles and Inklings, was a
genuine devout humility, password and key to Grail Castle. While aspiration
to Apostleship can only be laudable, the magical word Inkling is, for me,
perhaps for most of us, more apt and perhaps no less mighty in scope.
Inkling, intimation or hint, has something of peep, crack, glimpse,
something most appropriately High Elven about it. An Inkling is a flash, a
glint, passing waft of heaven on the wind, a tease of memory, irritating
prick of Thorn, sparkle of star seen through Eye of Needle, gleam enough to
steer a ship by. Vast horizons can be viewed through the narrowest fissure.
The trick is to bring Peep to Gaze, Glimpse to 'Behold!'
'When I most wink then do mine eyes best see'
The Inklings were lovers of trees and trees hint, tease, prick and Inkle us
all the time we are with them. C S Lewis was a keen and energetic country
walker, briskly covering many miles a day in company with one or two close
friends. He did not enjoy walking with Tolkien, however, as Tolkien would
continually stop to Inkle insects, flowers and trees. He called Lewis a
'ruthless walker'. Much Inkling was done in the course of those country
walks, in the shade of great list-ening, conversing trees, overheard and
commented upon by Angelic and Elemental Beings.
Rudolf Steiner often hinted, leaving those who have the inner sense for it
to follow mere trace of golden thread or mind-harrow old science for new and
fertile forces on the strength of glimpse.
Husk and crust, while dry and broken, can be bread for those whose Inkling
hinted talent is for Cosmic Re-sourcing and Rest-Oration, who have found
fount of aqua vita, have art of moistening into growth what is withered and
While in the Cambridge Apostles group, old and outworn initiation
practices of elitism and secrecy proved unable to bear New Wine, in Tolkien
and friends past mysteries fermented, rose refreshed, were transformed,
adventured as story and thence into many souls as Ideal and Hope, as Wink
and Glimpse and Inkle, mighty Idea of halfling-human on greatest quest to
full human Grail-Bearing stature, grown to overflowing strength of 'Brother,
what ails Thee?'
C S Lewis, close friend of Anthro Owen Barfield exposed many of the
machinations and techniques of Screwtape, gave children access to Narnia.
Barfield brought impulses from Anthoposophy to the Inklings in most potent
form of friendly converse.
Quote from 'The Forgotten Inkling' by Joseph Pearce
'Although Barfield was too modest to allude to the fact in our
conversation, he is generally considered to have exerted an important and
benign influence on Lewis throughout the 1920s. Lewis would later describe
him as the wisest and best of his unofficial teachers. Barfield¹s 'Poetic
Diction: A Study in Meaning', published in 1928, exerted a profound
influence on both Lewis and Tolkien. It was, in fact, a discussion between
Barfield, Lewis and Alan Griffiths, one of Lewis¹s pupils, which was to
prove instrumental in edging Lewis closer to Christianity. Barfield and
Griffiths were lunching in Lewis¹s room when Lewis happened to refer to
philosophy as ³a subject². ³It wasn¹t a subject to Plato,² Barfield
retorted, ³it was a way.² ³The quiet but fervent agreement of Griffiths, and
the quick glance of understanding between these two, revealed to me my own
frivolity,² Lewis wrote in 'Surprised by Joy.' ³Enough had been thought, and
said, and felt, and imagined. It was about time that something should be
done.² end quote
Lord of the Rings, active Wayfaring Manual for Everyman is primarily a
celebration and exploration of the true Ideal and immense, vital power of
Brotherhood, the power of Two or Three who, in freedom and with love, share
difficult destinies, lighten loads, undertake seemingly impossible tasks,
make sacrifices. Who,together, are able to Stand and withstand ultimate
evil. This gigantic potential for transformation of the Two or Three in
friendship is surely the greatest open secret, its potency so threatening to
the Adversaries that they use every possible means to isolate and undermine
those who might become friends. Secrecy and exclusivity suit Ahriman.
The Inklings were open to any who could speak their language, a language
not created to exclude but to express, to make available. They met in pubs
or member's rooms, took long conversational walks. Oddballs, eccentrics all,
odds and sods outside the mainstream yet well within the wider evolutionary
flow of kindred, inkling humanity.
'We were talking of dragons, Tolkien and I
In a Berkshire bar. The big workman
Who had sat silent and sucked his pipe
All the evening, from his empty mug
With gleaming eye, glanced towards us;
'I seen 'em myself', he said fiercely.'
C S Lewis.
There were, of course, human flaws and kinks and failings in this highly
individual bunch of Michaelites. Inkling Charles Williams, a complex and
hugely fascinating character was not without certain sadistic tendencies,
perhaps inevitable in one who delved so deeply into human nature, dared so
much, risked and wrestled Black Magic in quest of Light, but there was
freedom in the single agreed Inkling restraint of 'nothing cruel or
pornographic' allowing good old fashioned Jest and Bawdy to antidote
scorpion sting with humour.
Interestingly the Inklings group was preceded, perhaps seeded, by a
smaller one, the 'Coalbiters' a name taken from the word Kolbitur, an
Icelandic term for those who sat so close to the fire that they could bite
the coal. There is more to coal-biting than sitting Hobbit like too close to
the fire and hogging all the warmth. Those who, like me, remember long past
winters when we children sat around coal fires on dark evenings, and,
although playing with fire was strictly forbidden, illicitly poked and fed
it with sticks, sparkled it with coal dust or sugar, scorched paper to age
our pirate maps, melted nails, halfpennies, lead soldiers and sent secret
notes for fairies flying up the chimney whenever our parents were not
looking. We heated pokers to red and white, seared logs, roasted chestnuts,
inevitably burned fingers, went soul-wandering through immense golden or
scarlet caverns, shapeshifted in smoke, floated on warmth, sank into
blackened depths of grate and hearth.
Ancient forests bloomed again in burning coals, aromatic pine oil flared
in rainbows, spurted blue-green gas, lit salamander castles, glowing gnomic
cities that fell into mysterious grey ruin overnight.
Would Rudolf Haushka have understood the transformation and metamorphosis
of substance so deeply if he had not played as a child before his
Grandfather's forge, seen molten metal plunged hissing and spitting into
cold water? Are not all Blacksmiths initiate-friends of Wayland Smithy,
(Weland, Volund, Volundr) Elven King and Saxon God of metal work? What
children learn in dangerously ad-venturing across Hearth Threshold is not
lost, is never lost, flares up later in forged thought, gnome wisdom of
ancient coal-pressed forest that has passed through fire.
In their latter days, the Inklings met around an electric fire in Lewis's
room... a symptom, sign of the times, but nothing wrong with that. Orcs
were rising, seeking release from intolerable de-pressing in gravity-grabbed
sub ethers. Screwtape was twisting into ascendancy. The Beast lurking.
Tolkien understood, had Inkled consciousness and being of ethers, the
fallen consciousness and coerced being of sub ethers, knew Who it was that
alone could Raise them, and wove all into tale, poetry, song and story that
inspired millions and gave them hint of Map.
There were Michaelites among the Cambridge Apostles also. No go areas do
not exist for Michaelites. No path is too long, too thorny, darkened or
perilous for adventuring. If we go the long way round, it is to see what is
there, if are lost awhile it is because we are Prodigal Son. We get drunk on
honey, lie overlong on the seductive breast of poisoned flower, forget who
we are and where we are going, sleep and dream, sleep and drink nectar to
excess, sleep and are are sated, are starved into remembrance and stirred,
Thorn-spurred to further travailed travel.
There were such among the Cambridge Apostles. This is no polemic against
them. I make no criticism of them as individuals. Very few who form such
elite brotherhoods know what is really going on. The ties may be karmic,
may be Manichean. They are, like the rest of us, going the long way round.
I did, spent too long dreaming in the hollow hills, en-thralled by fairy
pipes, drifting, reckless, spendthrift of time, in love with the idea of
flotsam. Prodigal Son takes the winding path, misses nothing, meets
Everyone. Mystery Tramp has only a hole in his pocket. Bob wrote 'When you
got nothing you got nothing to lose' but, paradoxically, much to give.
So why draw comparisons between these disparate groups? Because the
danger always, exists, is even acute, of groups and societies, however
Ideally founded, becoming their opposites. And it seems to me that greatest
care must be taken to remain open, permeable, inclusive. It is not easy,
crawling through Mordor. Frightening numbers of people are going down,
losing their grip, losing hope. Many tell me that they long to take ship to
the Grey Haven. There is ache and longing in those who Inkle. But the ache
can be Hint and prick of Thorn. Tolkien ached and asked
Where now is the horse and the rider? Where is the horn that was blowing?
Where is the helm and the hauberk, and the bright hair flowing?
Where is the hand on the harp string, and the red fire glowing?
They have passed like rain on the mountain, like a wind in the meadow;
The days have gone down in the West behind the hills into shadow.
Who shall gather the smoke of the deadwood burning,
Or behold the flowing years from the Sea returning?
And answers, 'Such is oft the course of deeds that move the wheels of the
world: small hands do them because they must, while the eyes of the great
When the black breath blows,
And death's shadow grows,
Come Athelas! Come Athelas!
Life to the dying,
In the king's hand lying!
And I would say, not in secret Masonic handshake, but in friendly clasp...
- Dear Jan,
> The Cambridge Apostles was, is, a secret and elite CambridgeUniversity
> group, founded in 1820, which was originally intended to bring freshimpetus
Thanks for that. It reminds me of the Leadbeater case (who originally
was an Anglican priest).
- So pleased to know you are still alive, Bruce.
Peace be with you, my friend
From: "888" <fireofthe12@...>
Sent: Saturday, May 14, 2005 2:52 AM
Subject: [anthroposophy] Re: Apostles and Inklings
> Dear Jan,
> > The Cambridge Apostles was, is, a secret and elite Cambridge
> > group, founded in 1820, which was originally intended to bring fresh
> Thanks for that. It reminds me of the Leadbeater case (who originally
> was an Anglican priest).
> List owner: email@example.com
> Yahoo! Groups Links
- Hello Bruce,
How nice to hear from you. Yes, this is a fascinating topic, and the more
so as it is inevitably interwoven with individual karma and biography.
It seems that these situations arise as a result of the old Kundalini
Rising direction of energy flowing from lower chakra to higher chakra, which
was the old path of Initiation. Rudolf Steiner gives a reverse path, of
course, which is suitable for this time and this emerging new consciousness.
He says somewhere, and I'm writing in haste before an appointment so can't
check it out, that sexual energy is 'not suitable' for transformation to
energy for spiritual cognition.
The exercises and meditations he gives are safeguards against this
overwhelming of the pupil by sexual energy. Many of the exercises are plant
based, for instance.
The Rose Cross meditation, of course, is invaluable here.
We know that occultists who venture into supersensible worlds without
necessary purifying and preparation can fall prey to a magnification and
intensification of sexual forces, as well as to greatly enhanced lower
egotism and their 'revelations' are consequently skewed and unclear if not
actually misleading. There is also the question of teacher-pupil abuse, of
taking energies and forces from the pupil, and the danger of something
unwholesome and untoward invading the pupil from the teacher. It is
interesting that in such cases the pupils or participants selected tend to
be boys or young girls, in any case those with youthful refreshing energies
to be reaped, as is also the case in other Black Magical practices, such as
sacrificing babies. Demonic entities, of course, come into play.
Inkling Charles Williams deliberately engaged with sexual energy and with
desire itself, as he did with every motive force that he could identify
within himself or others. He attempted to 'turn back' these forces,
another difficult if not dangerous practice, which in his case also led to a
tendency to treat other people in a careless even cruel manner. However, as
I said before, intent is all important and those who dare deep, compelling
forces and mysteries often fall, but may be able to garner much by balancing
karma in new incarnations, if the intention was initially pure.
Again, I don't have time to reference it, but Mabel Collins too speaks of
how in the soul garden of the occultist a weed may grow to vast proportions,
whereas in the ordinary man it does not so flourish. Steiner speaks too of
how people can 'become worse' when spiritual development is begun without
sufficient care for balancing thinking, feeling and willing, and working
with the monthly exercises.
The Anglican Church, of course, which has given rise to quite a few cases,
is inevitably tainted by its Established condition, being part of the State.
Which is not to say that there are not genuine and aspiring souls working
within it, of course. However, in Britain today I see the Church as largely
destructive in effect, more by sin of omission than anything else. Without
knowledge, it has become its opposite in many important ways.
On another level we are seeing a truly horrific 'reaping' of youthful
energies today as a result of the sexualizing of children, with sex
education beginning in primary school and 'exploring' even teaching
masturbation 'techniques' to children. While the teachers are not, of
course, practicing occultists, they must be unwitting agents of Asuric
beings, and children are certainly harmed by the consequent acceleration of
their sexual development. I have heard stories of real damage and distress
in children subjected to this teaching from their mothers, some of whom have
removed children from schools.
The phenomenon of so called 'bi-curious girls' is much promoted by
television soap operas, teen magazines and advertising, as well as the sex
education classes in schools. Girls are urged to try lesbian sex. It is an
'have it all try everything' approach. As this is pressed upon them before
they are really ready for any sexual experience it adds to their confusion
and vulnerability, which in turn opens them to other forms of manipulation
and abuse via media and marketing. Paying for Speed Dating is considered
normal. 'Mac Sex' has led to a massive increase in the incidence of sexually
transmitted disease, causing infertility in many young women. There is an
occult dimension to all this, and an agenda behind it.
Again, this is a complex and fascinating area of observation and study,
which we need to keep well in view and in relation to the insights available
in spiritual science.