Introduction by Sister Ethelnyd
Vice-chancellor, Iona Fellowship of Grace, Scotland
In recent decades, our urban authorities have begun to remove the soot that has for so long besmirched the elegant stone and brick buildings of our townscapes to reveal once more the pale-greys, yellows and reds that our forefathers saw. This soot was a product of an earlier age, an age of industry when coal burning in the boilers of great engines and the family hearth polluted everything with its sulphurous smoke. With coal came iron, the natural enemy of magick, whose magnetic properties disrupt the delicate energy fields by which those with the sight receive their insights and perceptions. But iron offered a glorious, and above all prosperous, future and the protest of those affected by its insidious power were ignored and derided. They were the enemies of science and social progress, and their powers thought out-dated and no longer relevant.
In truth, this new Age of Iron was but the latest chapter in a sorry saga. From the Holy Roman Empire of the 1600s when many thousands were persecuted and exiled, to the horrors of the anti-shamanic pogroms in Russia when some two hundred thousand practitioners and followers of magick were brutally slain, magick had been in slow, inexorable decline and even near the present day, it continued to be suppressed and as recently as 1977 the practise of magick was illegal in much of the American Republic.
But what has this to do with Tamburlaine MacGregor, you ask. It is this: for many years MacGregor’s interest in magick was thought quaint, the preoccupation of a man out of tune with his times, much like the Romantic Poets who spent their dotage raving against the intrusion of railways into their beloved mountains. Critics argued that MacGregor’s novels, particularly Acts of the Servant and its sequels, were suitable only for children and those obsessed with the quaint and the fantastic.
Yet times change and in the past few decades as we came to understand the damage industry and progress have done to the world and to our true selves, many turned again to MacGregor’s work and new editions of his novels have appeared; all alas still in the expurgated versions forced upon MacGregor by his publishers, but at least being read! At the same time, I have witnessed a resurgence of interest in the practise of magick and for many that interest began through reading Tamburlaine MacGregor.
Some have suggested that the practise of magick owes the Bard of Tweeddale a debt, believing that he is responsible for igniting the interest of a new generation, but I believe this understates MacGregor’s true significance.
Magick is vitally different from brick and stone: it is a living thing and its nature is capricious. It would not have waited for us to rediscover it beneath a layer of grime but slipped into the shadows and vanished altogether from the world of man. It would be as if the cleaners of those old buildings had removed the soot only to find beneath a rotten shell fit only for the wrecker’s ball for Magick, as a living, breathing force, would have faded from our lives as surely as the dodo. Had not Tamburlaine MacGregor kept the spark alive, we would only have memories, written accounts and the relics of magick, but its vitality would have left us. That Acts of the Servant and its sequels cost Tamburlaine MacGregor his health seems indisputable: what other price he may have paid remains the source of much speculation. We should be grateful and hope that, whatever the cost, he thought it worth paying.