Tag Archives: Peter Valentine Timlett

Twilight of the Serpent

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

Timlett Twilight of the Serpent

This final book of Peter Timlett’s occultist-inspired quasi-historical fantasy trilogy is set in Britain in the first century C.E. Chapter one introduces 10-year-old Jesus of Nazareth on a visit to England. I shouldn’t have been surprised, especially since an overture to this eventuality had been made in the second book (thousands of years earlier in narrative time). But neither Jesus nor the “Culdee” refugees from Palestine become central to the story told here, which is about the demise of British Druidry and the Roman conquest of Britain. The end of the book manages to tell the story of the Druid defeat after that of Boudicca’s rebellion against the Romans–although the chronology was the reverse–by means of some “Akashic” shenanigans, and it’s an effective device.

In some ways I guess it’s no worse than the standard fictional convention used to present all of the ancient conversations in English, but it really bothered me that the characters in the book used C.E. dates to reference events in their time. When the Druid high priest refers to “when the Romans first landed at Richboro nine years ago in 43” (169) it makes me wince. I’m sure Timlett worked hard to get his history right, and that his academic sources used C.E. dates, but inflicting them on his pagan characters when Christians are a small persecuted sect at best is just too much for me. He didn’t have his prehistoric Druids in the second book use B.C.E. dates, and this was hardly less anachronistic than that would have been.

The ceremonial magic elements were consistent with the earlier volumes, but the whole affair of the sacred tradition has obviously and consciously degraded in this later age, so that the priesthood is a weak thing indeed. Even so, the primitive Christians do not benefit from comparison to the Druids, despite their destiny to succeed them as custodians of the Light. Chapter seven is an excellent thaumaturgical set-piece, for which the chief operator is Gilda the Witch-Maiden, whose lunar and herbal sorcery is marginal to the solar cult of Druidry.

This book was perhaps my least favorite of the three, but they did fit together into a suitable whole.

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.

The Seedbearers

Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews The Seedbearers by Peter Valentine Timlett.

Timlett The Seedbearers

According to The Encyclopedia of Fantasy & Science Fiction, author Peter Valentine Timlett was “inspired to write fiction through what he learned by membership of the Society of Inner Light, the London-based occult group founded by Dion Fortune.” His novel The Seedbearers is the first of a trilogy set in an antediluvian world. Contrary to the jacket copy that calls it a “violent struggle in the Atlantis of ancient legend,” this story has hardly anything at all to do with Plato’s Atlantis, and the imperial island destroyed in its course is called “Ruta,” not Atlantis. There is a use of the Theosophical “root race” concept, though, so that the Rutan empire represents the twilight of the Atlantean root race.

Layered onto this deep-time “racial” theory of the occult sort (which does not need to imply vulgar racism), Ruta is populated by three racial types. The red-skinned Toltecs comprise the royal, martial, and sacerdotal castes. The fair-colored Akkadians are craftsmen. And the black skinned Rmoahals are purely warriors, maintaining a separate death-cult from the Toltec religion. The Akkadians are vassals to the Toltecs, and the Rmoahals are their slaves. (In Theosophical lore, these are “sub-races” of the fourth root race.)

The Rutan religion is centered in two temples, representing an outer solar cult maintained by a priesthood and an inner Sea Temple for priestesses and adepts. The priests are initiated through a series of degrees, of which the highest is the seventh. The fourth degree makes up the general council of the priesthood, while the fifth degree are its elect, and the seventh its executives and emeriti. Strangely, advancement seems to proceed directly from the fifth to the seventh degree, and the sixth is mentioned nowhere in the book. The priestly disciplines are mostly exercised in shared astral spaces, and there are evocations of “elemental kings” occupying a crucial part in the sacerdotal program. It is easier to see some value in Timlett’s representation of occultism in the structure and techniques of his priesthood than in the dubious “history” of the destroyed Atlantis.

This tale oscillates between exposition regarding Rutan society and religion on the one hand, and on the other acts of concupiscence and great violence. There is a rather moralizing tone throughout, culminating of course in the doom of the society itself. The “seedbearers” of the title are the virtuous minority of Toltecs and Akkadians (no Rmoahals) who are intended to re-found a purified civilization on other shores. This book made me think about the Yellowstone supervolcano, I can tell you.