The history as it was taught -
(The following information was compiled from correspondences between Mark Roberts and Imre Rainey.)
Mark Roberts was in England in 1961, pursuing his interests in archaeology and studying with Thomas Maughan, Arch Druid of the Druid Order, when he met Margaret Lumely Brown. He doesn't remember exactly how his networking led him to Margaret, however, he does remember that they met at a 'social-metaphysical' gathering, where they spent time sharing backgrounds. Mark remembers telling Margaret that he had "seminary training with the Methodists as a minister, been initiated in a New Orleans Coven, was in personal training with the Arch Druid, had married into a key Wiccan family trad of England," and had much experience traveling the world and "participating in archaeological excavations in prime religious sites." Margaret, in turn, told Mark about the Faerie Faith. Consequently, Mark began visiting Margaret at Chalice Hill Cottage, which had been Margaret and Dion Fortune's home.
Mark describes his training as "several meetings involving sharing of backgrounds/training/beliefs." In 1963, he "was given the Mysteries and the three prime lessons of the Faerie Faith." "The lessons were written, word for word, from Margaret." "When the time was correct" a ritual was experienced with Margaret and "several of her friends/coven." The remaining seventeen rituals were "talked through with an outline in writing." They continued "to have meetings in the same cottage."
Margaret selected Mark "with the intent of taking the Faerie Faith to the Americas," which he did. He returned to the U.S. and met a woman, who, eventually, came to be known as Morgan McFarland. Mark initiated Morgan into part of his background, yet kept the Faerie Faith a secret until after he and Morgan separated. His reason for this was that Gwen, "a Welsh High Priestess of the Faerie Faith," disapproved of passing the Faerie Faith Mysteries on to her. Finally, in 1977, Mark initiated Rhea as the first Faerie Queen in the U.S.
(All of the information above comes from emails sent to Imr? Rainey by Mark Roberts. The only exception is the date of Rhea's initiation which was supplied by the McFarland Dianics.)
The history as researched -
In late 1998, Imr? Rainey began researching the history of the Faerie Faith. His prime objective was to document the tradition for future generations. He began the project under the assumption that all that he had been told, regarding the history of the tradition, was, generally, truthful.
The following information is presented in as straightforward a manner as possible. We are not expressing opinion, but relaying facts and observations. We have no intention of slander. We only offer this information so that the reader may form an informed, personal opinion on the matter. Further, we are not claiming that this information is exhaustive.
Margaret Lumely Brown (MLB) -
(The information that follows was made available through the generosity of Gareth Knight, The Society of the Inner Light, MLB's personal friends, and those who are responsible for MLB's published works, personal diaries, magical diaries, and inner plane communications.)
In January of 1913, Margaret Lumely Brown, her sister, and a friend were living in a house in the neighborhood of Marble Arch. She had an "underlying interest in what is summed up as Theosophy, New Thought and Spiritualism, but un-based on experience or study," (MLB, Both Sides of the Door). In her book, Both Sides of the Door - a Psychological Sketch, she describes her psychic temperament, at the time, as follows: "though more or less clairvoyant in dreams, [I was] not psychically developed in any other way at the time."
Shortly after moving into the small house, the three women began to have unusually similar dreams. Curious about the meaning of their dreams, they decided to perform various psychic experiments. Immediately, the experiments yielded powerful results, which, they learned, were precipitated by their location. It turned out that their little house had been built on the site of a 'house of ill repute.' There was a long history of prostitution, gambling, opium, and, generally, mayhem right under their feet. It became evident that the location's dark past had left behind a malevolent energy. Within a very short period of time, the experiments got out of hand and MLB began to experience, what would prove to be, a very frightening psychic awakening.
"We were so utterly at a loss to know what steps to take or to whom to apply for advice until the worst stages were well over," MLB wrote many years later. The "obsession", as she called it, lasted for a grueling three weeks. Towards the end of the experience, her sister enlisted the help of prominent Theosophists of the time. Once the house was cleared of the poltergeist activity, Robert King, a Theosophist/psychic who helped them, advised MLB to "never involve herself with psychic work again." MLB did not take his warning to heart, but allowed the events of January 1913 to pave the road for her future as "the finest medium and psychic of this Century."
MLB became very interested in Atlantis. She closely followed the adventures and works of Col. P. H. Fawcett. In 1923, she received a discouraging letter from Col. Fawcett in response to a request that she had made regarding esoteric societies. Apparently, she was looking for a group to join. In his letter, he explained that "there is no actual 'Lodge' in England, of the kind you seek...There are however many Messengers and Members of the Occult Communities to be met if you can recognize them!" Undaunted by his letter, MLB wrote to him again. In late 1924, he responded to her letter and, again, discouraged her search, explaining the difficulties of finding a genuine "Occult Community."
In 1942, after the death of her sister and during a financially difficult time, MLB met Dion Fortune. Whether through "an act of altruistic kindness on Dion Fortune's part or whether she had an eye to her potential gifts," Dion Fortune offered MLB "accommodation at her headquarters in Queensborough Terrace."
At the Society of the Inner Light, MLB was trained as a medium. When Dion Fortune died in 1946, MLB's training led her to "develop her psychic gifts so that she could take [Dion Fortune's] place." "The ongoing work of the Society of the Inner Light was largely inspired and sustained by her remarkable abilities. She was, in title and in function, its Arch Pythoness. That is to say, the principle receiver of inner plane communications, whether private advice and instruction to those responsible for running the Society, or more publicly to the membership at various meetings." She remained resident at the London headquarters until sometime in the 1970's.
MLB had many interests. She was fascinated by the story of Thomas the Rhymer. She dreamt of Atlantis. She wrote poetry and published articles and books. She communicated with spirits, the little people, and various beings who traversed the Astral Plane. Throughout her life, she kept personal and magical diaries as well as a sketchbook in which she represented the beings that she saw and communicated with early on. Yet, she never wrote an article, a diary entry, or drew a picture of anything that would be considered, even remotely, Faerie Faith. Her diaries, of which there are approximately a thousand pages, cover many topics and the broad range of her interests, but never mention Faerie Faith or Ogham, which is the foundation of Faerie Faith. She does speak of the Little People, as did, most of the British, Scottish, Irish, etc. (refer to The Faery Faith in Celtic Countries by Evans-Wentz), but that does not make a person a practitioner of Faerie Faith, which is a religious paradigm centered on the Ogham and its mysteries as revealed through thirteen lunar and five solar passages.
In response to a letter asking the Society of the Inner Light about MLB and a possible interest in Faerie Faith, the Society asked Gareth Knight, her biographer and friend, to respond. After Mr. Knight's initial response, many months of communication followed. In one of his early letters, Mr. Knight wrote, "MLB and Dion Fortune were not all that closely associated in life as they only met in 1944 and Dion Fortune died in 1946. However MLB more or less carried on her work." In response to questions about a possible coven, Mr. Knight wrote, " It would be a mistake to think in terms of "covens". They worked on a much broader front of the Western Mystery Tradition seeking a three stranded approach of Christian mysticism, Hermetic magic, and Nature/Elemental contacts." Further, in response to a letter asking about the possibility of MLB having been involved in a coven, practice, religion, etc. outside of the Society, Mr. Knight wrote, "She had been a senior member of the Society of the Inner Light for nearly 20 years keeping a daily diary, most of which I have seen, and it would have been against the rules of the SIL for her to have participated actively in any other group, or done any private magical activity on the side," and in another letter, "she led a very cloistered life in the SIL by virtue of her esoteric duties there."
Towards the end of her life, MLB moved out of the SIL headquarters and in with her niece. Unfortunately, her niece's daughter was suffering the degeneration of cancer and MLB felt that "she was an additional load." After a short stay, MLB moved in with her close friend Margaret W. She and Margaret W. had been companions in occult interest and Margaret W. was happy to offer MLB a place of peace and quiet in which she could "just think her own thoughts." Mr. Knight was kind enough to write Margaret W. and ask her of any possible connection to Faerie Faith that may have been, however unlikely, missed. Margaret W. wrote Mr. Knight back and told him that she knew of nothing that would help make that connection. She went on to explain that MLB continued attending meetings at the SIL headquarters, but that that was the extent of her involvement.
(Gareth Knight has written a book about the life and work of MLB. Pythoness explores MLB's life, writings, poetry, and work with the Society of the Inner Light. The book will be available in bookstores in the Fall of 2000.)
The Lessons of the Faerie Faith -
According to tradition, MLB gave Mark Roberts three "prime lessons of the Faerie Faith" in 1963. The lessons were copied "word for word" from "MLB's handwriting" and later typed. The heading of the first lesson states: "A lesson in Fairy Vision and awareness of the Nature Spirits as shared in 1963 by Margret Lumely-Brown, in England." Copies of the lessons were sent to Gareth Knight, who replied: "Received copy of FF1 this morning, many thanks. However, I had a certain sense of deja vu..."
In 1962, Gareth Knight asked MLB to please write him a few articles for a new magazine, called "New Dimensions", that he was going to publish. In late 1962, MLB gave him the first article which was entitled "The Urwelt - the Elemental Other World". The article appeared in the first issue of "New Dimensions", April/May 1963. Faerie Faith Lesson One, it seemed, was a very abridged version of the same article.
The article had no mention of the term 'Faerie Faith' which was sprinkled in a number of places in the lesson. In one example, the article states "to clairvoyant vision the Oversoul appears..." and the corresponding line in the lesson states "to one of the Faerie Faith, the Oversoul appears..." Another difference in the two is that the article had a number of lengthy personal experiences that were not conveyed in the lesson. Further, the language of the article was more formal and expressive than that of the lesson. This clarified a number of obscure and incomplete passages in the lesson (passages ending with or containing "...").
As for lessons two and three, they also had counterparts in "New Dimensions", however, they were not written by MLB, but by a man named David Williams, author of The Road to Herod's Hill. Mr. Knight explained that he had petitioned David Williams to write a series of articles for the magazine. What precipitated was a four article series entitled "Hidden Truths and Fairy Tales". The articles ran from 1963 to 1964. The articles of particular interest ran in the first, April/May 1963, and third, August/September 1963, issues of the magazine. Mr. Knight wrote "I find that FF2 and FF3 are in part taken word for word from these articles, including the quotation from Maimonides, in part freely adapted but following lines of thought in the articles, and in part original work. I don't know who may have been responsible for this part-copying, part-adaptation from someone else's work..." Curious about the whole matter, Mr. Knight approached "the person [in England] likely to know most about what goes on in pagan and faery circles." "Marian Green, on the phone this morning," he wrote, "happened to mention that it was not uncommon, particularly on the pagan front, to find material appearing in America that has been lifted from UK sources without acknowledgment." Latter, Mr. Knight wrote, "Of Mark`s being invited to participate in rituals she [Marian Green] is somewhat skeptical as, particularly at that time in the early 60`s, when people were only just beginning to "come out", it is unlikely in the extreme that anyone of any caliber or authority would have invited a passing stranger into any ritual activity of any significance."
Chalice Hill Cottage -
According to tradition, MLB and Dion Fortune lived in Chalice Hill Cottage and, many years after Dion Fortune's death, this was the place where Mark received his Faerie Faith training. About the cottage, Gareth Knight wrote, "you mention him meeting her at a place called Chalice Hill Cottage. I had up to now assumed this was a natural error for Chalice Orchard, at the foot of the Tor." "I elicited that the Society of the Inner Light sold the site and chalets at Chalice Orchard in 1958..." It turns out that Chalice Orchard - not Chalice Hill Cottage - did belong to Dion Fortune from 1922/23 until her death in 1946. At that time, the ownership of the chalet passed into the hands of the Society of the Inner Light. The Society maintained the chalet until 1958, when it was sold to Mary Gilchrist. MLB never lived there. She lived at the Society's London headquarters from 1944 until sometime in the 1970's, at which time she moved in with a niece and, later, with a friend.
Thomas Maughan -
Mark has always claimed to have been a student of Thomas Maughan's. In a series of emails that he sent me throughout 1999, he claimed that Thomas Maughan had bestowed upon him the title Merlin. With the dawning of his new group in Dallas, Texas, he began referring to himself, and signing emails, as Merlin. In light of the information that I had found about Mark's other claims, I decided, in the Fall of 1999, to look into his association with Thomas Maughan further.
Thomas Maughan was the Chief of the Druid Order from 1964 to 1976. If Mark had studied with him, it would certainly have been during this time. I emailed the Druid Order and asked if they had any information about Mark. Within a few weeks, I received a response from Jennifer Maughan. She told me that there was no information within the Order that would corroborate Mark's claims of having studied with Dr. Maughan, certainly not officially. Further, she was very surprised about the claiming of the title Merlin. She explained that the title was considered extremely important and would not have been treated lightly. Anyone who had been given the title would have had a number of important responsibilities to carry out.
After having read her letter, I sent her as much of Mark's own words as possible, just in case something that he, himself, had written would help her find any information. In response, she reiterated that neither she nor the Druid Order had any information about Mark or any training that he claimed to have received. She did write, however, that she remembered that Mark and a companion had visited her father on one occasion.
Shortly after our correspondences, I received a letter from Morgan McFarland. In her letter, Morgan told me that she and Mark had visited Thomas Maughan while traveling in the U.K., trying to put together a mythic tour of England. They wanted either Dr. Maughan, or another member of the Order, to lecture on Druidic beliefs. In a recent letter, Morgan clarified that, "Thomas did tell me about one other meeting with Mark some time earlier." It seemed that Mark had indeed known Dr. Maughan from a previous meeting, but that their relationship was not much more intimate than a few hours of conversation, certainly not the years of training that Mark often claimed.