The Power of the Serpent

Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews The Power of the Serpent by Peter Valentine Timlett.

Timlett The Power of the Serpent

This second of Peter Valentine Timlett’s archaic occult fantasies is set many ages after the first. It does include a visionary reminiscence featuring the sacred Atlantean emigrants of The Seedbearers. But the immediate setting of this sequel is a conflict between the Druids of prehistoric England and their predecessor solar cult the Wessex Priests, who have fallen into degenerate practices.

When the novel starts, the two priesthoods are already at war. As the story progresses, the Wessex demonstrate their depravity by embarking on efforts to incarnate a powerful inhuman “Dark One” through a ceremony combining incest and human sacrifice. The Druids have an alliance with the Egyptian priesthood, and receive emissaries from Egypt who join them in opposing the Wessex villainy. The main viewpoint character seems to be the visiting Egyptian priest Ramin, but the third-person omniscient narrative oscillates between the good Druids and the evil Wessex.

Rituals in this book are even more patently drawn from twentieth-century occultism that those of the prior volume, with fragments of the Golden Dawn pentagram ritual and the adoration from the Neophyte temple opening. Timlett was an initiate of an order in that tradition. At one point, the Egyptian high priest Menahotep and Druid Elders Druin and Vaila make a spiritual visit to the “Universal Inner Lodge,” which is effectively von Eckartshausen’s Interior Church, or the Council Chamber of the City of the Pyramids in Thelemic parlance. There they are informed that the universe requires a balance of opposing forces, so that good must not triumph over evil.

For all their melodrama and violence, these books are good fun, and I’m a little sad that there’s only one of them left for me to read.