This is my aunt, Betty Gwendoline Hubert, née Smith, born in 1912. The photo was taken by an early boyfriend, who was reputed to be dashing and quite a catch, and wanted to marry her. But she chose a less sensational option, an older man with more spiritual inclinations. Betty and my uncle Ted (born in 1900) were both interested in theosophy and astrology. Somewhere in our family archive there is a photo of Ted with Annie Besant, but I don’t have it to upload right now. When I visited their house I could lay my hands on early theosophical books and, in more recent years, I inherited some of these, which included a first edition of The Treatise on the Seven Rays by Alice Bailey and the now rare Watchers of the Seven Spheres by Hugh Challoner, with colour illustrations.
When Betty was 18 her mother, Theoline, died, leaving Betty to be mother to the five other children – the youngest were twins aged five. My mother, Christine, was one of the twins. When I was nine years old, my aunt sent a birthday card with a picture of a lamb on it. Inside she had written “you really are a little lamb – ask your mum”. My mother explained I was born under the sign of Aries and showed me a serious theosophical publication about astrology: From Pioneer to Poet by Isobel M. Pagan. My childhood in a remote situation in the English Cotswolds meant I was very aware of starry skies at night and astrology made perfect sense to me.
In Sigil I, Beth recalls Naomi saying:
How impertinent to assume the universe is not interested in the manic activities of humankind. How can it possibly be that we live our lives separately from all this cosmic glory? If we do not listen to divine wisdom written in the stars, this arrogance will surely lead to our downfall. Humanity has a responsibility to steward Mother Earth, with due reverence to our place in the whole of Creation. You don’t have to believe in a vengeful Yahweh, like my Jewish ancestors, to imagine that, if we wreak havoc on our planet, there will be a serious kick-back.
We need to experience ourselves as co-creators, not being ‘at the mercy’ of fateful operations of the ‘gods’, but running our personal and social lives in harmony with the deeply embedded, universal patterns of time. As Shakespeare tells us:
The fault is not in our stars, dear Brutus, But in ourselves, that we are underlings (Julius Caesar (Act I, sc. ii)
There is a tide in the affairs of men, Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune… (ibid Act IV, sc. iii).
In The Angel of Secrets, several characters believe that getting hold of the cosmological information in The Book of Raziel will open opportunities for them to seize power. It becomes a very dangerous game when individuals seek this kind of power for themselves, for their tribe, or for their nation, without due respect to the future of humanity as a whole. This wisdom is not to be owned by people who claim any kind of supremacy due to gender, race or intelligence. This will be the path of Lucifer, as depicted by Milton in Paradise Lost, whose hubris leads to hell.