I have five decades of experience in giving lectures to universities, clubs, societies, New Age centres and Masonic lodges. I offer a wide range of topics, including the following, arranged into broad categories. All talks are accompanied by PowerPoint presentations and in some cases by video clips.
Rosicrucianism, Hermeticism, Freemasonry,
Louisenlund: an Initiatory “Theme Park” in Germany
The remarkable Masonic/Rosicrucian/alchemical park at Louisenlund in Schleswig-Holstein, northern Germany, was built by Prince Carl von Hessen-Kassel (1744-1836) and is now occupied by a prestigious international boarding school. It was at Louisenlund that the famous alchemist, the Comte de Saint-Germain spent the last period of his life. For a beautiful video about the Comte de Saint Germain and Louisenlund, see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tPnvOevdVwo. One of the features of the park was a Freemasons’ Tower, also called the Alchemist’s Tower, which is now sadly a ruin, and there is a project to rebuild it, for which sponsors are being sought. This talk sets Louisenlund in the context of the German esoteric spirituality of the time, compares it with other parks in the same tradition and argues for the importance of the rebuilding project. For more information on the project, see http://initiatorysubculture.blogspot.de/2017/08/louisenlund-appeal-for-sponsorship-for.html#more
The Rosicrucian Vision
A survey of the Rosicrucian movement from the 17th century to the present day.
Rosicrucianism and the Origins of Freemasonry
Was there a Rosicrucian impulse that brought about the transition from “operative” to “speculative” Masonry? This talk examines the evidence.
A talk on one of the seminal figures of modern occultism, the subject of my book
Eliphas Lévi and the French Occult Revival (SUNY Press, 2011).
The Pagan Revival
The historical roots of the Pagan revival and a survey of its present-day manifestations
Light from the North
The spiritual legacies of the Nordic and Celtic peoples and the growing interest in them in the present age.
Their possible origins, their history, properties and use as an oracle and as a set of glyphs to describe the describe the world.
Visionary Art in Modern Russia
The theme of utopias and never-never-lands has long been present in Russian art, but has come more strongly to the fore in the aftermath of the fall of communism. In their search for new spiritual meaning many Russians are turning to various versions of this theme, including the notion of Hyperborea (the Land beyond the North Wind), a vanished utopia in the Arctic region, whose inhabitants they see as the precursors to the Russians of today. This has given rise to a remarkable school of painters, whose works evoke the imagined worlds of Hyperborea, Atlantis, Shambhala and other such legendary places. This illustrated talk takes the audience into the fascinating world of these artists.
Sacred Gardens and How to Make One (also available as a practical workshop)
This is an illustrated tour of sacred and symbolic gardens of different cultures and eras, or a workshop in which participants design their own sacred garden.
The Work of Ian Hamilton and the Garden of Little Sparta
The Scottish poet and artist Ian Hamilton Finlay (1925-2006) is famous for the remarkable poetic and symbolic garden that he co-created in the Pentland Hills near Edinburgh. This talk about him, his work and the garden is based on my friendship with him over a period of some 30 years.
King Ludwig II of Bavaria
A talk on “The Swan King” to use the title of my biography of Ludwig, a monarch of rare, imaginative genius (some would say madness), who built a gilded world of his own but whose life ended in epic tragedy. The talk is a vivid journey through his life and the fantastic castles which he built and which are now famous the world over.
The Quest for Shangri-La
Thanks to James Hilton’s classic novel Lost Horizon (first published in 1933) and the highly successful film of the same name (1937, remade 1973), the name Shangri-La has passed into our language, evoking the idea of utopian place of exotic beauty and bliss, far from the maddening realities of the everyday world. This talk explores the various antecedents and ramifications of the legend, revealing it as a particularly compelling example of the utopian dream.
Writing occult fiction (literary survey plus practical workshop)
My long experience in writing occult fiction includes a full-length novel Return of the Tetrad (Mandrake of Oxford, 2013) and three volumes of short stories. In this workshop we shall look at some compelling examples of occult fiction and then each participants will create a story of their own.
I also offer reading-talks based on any of my fictional work. The Lebensborn Spy reading is combined with a talk on East German espionage during the Cold War.