Events Programme






Saturday 12 February 2022


Temenos Academy Young Scholars Day

Human Endeavour and Mother Nature:

The Boundaries of a Healthy Civilization


KEYNOTE SPEAKERS: Dr Rosy Daniel and David Cayley


In the chair Kamil Sawicki and Siyi Qi

Venue The Royal Asiatic Society, London NW1

Open to those aged 18 – 35 yrs




Monday 21 February 2022


The third Annual Yeats Lecture generously sponsored by the Toureen Group

Yeats’s Poems of Faeryland




In the chair Professor John Carey

Venue  Brunswick Ltd  (formerly The Lincoln Centre)

Doors open 5.40pm   Lecture begins  6.15pm – 7.45pm   Admission FREE


W. B. Yeats’s first-published poem, known to few of his readers even today, was about the faeries (Yeats’s spelling). The faery world allowed Yeats to explore many issues personal, imaginative, and cultural in new ways. He wrote about the faeries, studied them, invoked them, and occasionally identified with them. The paradoxical world of faerie allowed him to say things otherwise unsayable, and became the theme of some of his most memorable early poems. The lecture will include close readings of several poems, offering access to a realm which lies beyond the logic of our human questions and answers.


GREVEL LINDOP was formerly Professor of Romantic and early Victorian Studies at the University of Manchester. His books include The Opium-Eater: A Life of Thomas De Quincey; Charles Williams: The Third Inkling; Travels on the Dance Floor; A Literary Guide to the Lake District; and seven collections of poems, most recently Playing With Fire and Luna Park. He is writing a book on the spiritual life and poetry of W.B. Yeats. Grevel Lindop is Chair of the Academic Board of the Temenos Academy.


Monday 7 March 2022


What it Means to be Human: Exploring African Philosophy of Ubuntu




In the chair Professor Grevel Lindop

Venue  Brunswick Ltd  (formerly The Lincoln Centre)

Doors open 5.40pm   Lecture begins 6.15pm – 7.45pm   Admission FREE


The most basic and fundamental philosophy of African peoples is often captured with the Zulu word, Ubuntu – a person is a person through other persons; I am because we are. This talk will explore four principles that are deducible from Ubuntu philosophy and how they contribute to our understanding of reality, existence, and the human, and how it contributes to the building of inclusive, peaceful, balanced, and cohesive human communities: (i) the ontological equilibrium principle; (ii) the humanist principle of interdependence; (iii) the inclusivity of difference principle; (iv) and the relational hermeneutic principle.  These principles deeply rooted in Ubuntu philosophy emphasise a simple but profound factuality of our being:  that all things are interconnected and dependent on one another to exist meaningfully and that solely focussing on autonomy and rights while ignoring relationships and duties to others threaten our very humanness and creates imbalances in our intrinsically linked metaphysical and social realities.


ELVIS IMAFIDON teaches at the Department of Religions and Philosophies, SOAS, University of London. He is Fellow of the Johannesburg Institute of Advanced Study (JIAS). He specializes in Comparative African and Western Philosophies. His research interests include African ontology and ethics, African philosophy of difference, African philosophy of medicine and healthcare and African philosophy of disability. He is the author of the books The Question of the Rationality of African Traditional Thought:  An Introduction and African Philosophy and the Otherness of Albinism, and the editor of Ontologized Ethics: New Essays in African Meta-ethics and Handbook of African Philosophy of Difference.


Wednesday 16 March 2022


The Symbolism of the Pentagram Star


In the chair Julia Cleave

Venue  The Royal Asiatic Society

Doors open 6.15pm   Lecture begins 6.45pm – 8.30pm


£8 or £5 Members of the Temenos Academy/Concessions   Full-time students with student ID card FREE


Geometry visibly embodies the eternal and unchanging relationships of number. In this way it forms a bridge between humanity’s physical experience, through the five senses, and the capacity for knowledge through the intelligence.

A place of religious worship, such as a great Gothic cathedral, embodies this ‘bridge’ because its fabric is built to harmonious geometric measurements. To enter such a place is to physically enter into the eternal realm. But to worship and ritually process around a cathedral is also to animate its body, in much the same way that blood carries the breath or ‘spirit’ around the incarnate human form.

The heart of a cathedral is its quire. In the first English Gothic cathedral – in the city of Wells – the quire is the same shape and has the same dimensions as the Temple of Solomon. This ‘Jerusalemic’ symbolism of centrality is also associated with the fivefold pentagram star – sometimes known as the ‘Seal of Solomon’ as well as being an ancient symbol of Jerusalem. This talk will focus upon the use of the pentagram in the design of Wells Cathedral as well as its association with the senses, protection, wisdom, and Resurrection.


TOM BREE is a geometer-artist, teacher and writer residing in the city of Wells. He teaches practical geometry classes and gives talks for organisations in the U.K. and abroad, but primarily for the Prince’s Foundation School of Traditional Arts, where he studied under the renowned Master-Geometer Professor Keith Critchlow.

For the past decade Tom has been studying the use of geometry, cosmology, and musical ratios in the design of Gothic cathedrals, with a particular emphasis upon the first English Gothic cathedral in Wells. He is about to publish The Cosmos in Stone, a large and fully illustrated book on the subject. Tom has recently instigated an educational project in Wells, The Wells Institute for Sophia in Education (WISE), which fuses practical arts with philosophy in the light of sacred tradition.


Monday 21 March 2022


A Quest for Wisdom – how do we craft a philosophy for life?




In the chair Ian Skelly

Venue  Brunswick Ltd  (formerly The Lincoln Centre)

Doors open 5.40pm  Lecture begins 6.15pm – 7.45pm   Admission FREE


At the age of 24, David Lorimer pressed the ‘Eject’ button from a conventional career path in merchant banking and set off on his quest for wisdom and deeper understanding of life. He arrived at Champagne Moet & Chandon in Epernay in the autumn of 1976 with four boxes of books. There, he combined reading with guiding visitors around the 18th century cellars. Since that time, he has devoted his life to education in the broadest sense.

In this talk David will discuss the evolution of his philosophy for life, his quest for wisdom and the main influences on his thinking, such as Albert Schweitzer, Emanuel Swedenborg and Peter Deunov. He will give an overview of the themes of his latest book, A Quest for Wisdom: Inspiring Purpose in the Path of Life (Aeon Academic, 2021):  philosophy, meaning and spirituality; consciousness, death and transformation; and responsibility, ethics and society. David hopes that people will be inspired, as Albert Schweitzer put it, in our task ‘to become more finely and deeply human’ for the common good. Nothing less is required of us at this time.

DAVID LORIMER is a writer, poet, lecturer, and editor. He is a Founder of Character Education Scotland, Programme Director of the Scientific and Medical Network and former President of Wrekin Trust and the Swedenborg Society. His books include The Protein Crunch (with Jason Drew) and A New Renaissance (edited with Oliver Robinson). He has edited three books about Beinsa Douno: Prophet for our Times, The Circle of Sacred Dance, and Gems of Love. His book on the ideas and work of the Prince of Wales – Radical Prince – has been translated into Dutch, Spanish, and French. David is the originator of the Inspiring Purpose Values Poster Programmes, which have reached over 300,000 young people.


Hommage à Kathleen Raine

The Temenos Academy is among the sponsors of a conference devoted to the work of Kathleen Raine, principal founder of the Temenos Academy, to be held at the Sorbonne on 24-25 March. Temenos Academy Fellows Hilary Davies, Professor Grevel Lindop, Dr Joseph Milne, and Vinod B. Tailor, as well as members of Kathleen’s family, will be participating; many of the presentations will be in English.

For information about the conference, and how to book, please refer to:


Tuesday 29 March 2022


Sacred Texts and Fragile Heroes: Some Recent Stained-Glass Projects




In the chair Hilary Davies

Venue  The Royal Asiatic Society

Doors open 6.15pm   Lecture 6.45pm – 8.30pm


£8 or £5 Members of the Temenos Academy/Concessions   Full-time students with student ID card FREE


Thomas Denny has been making stained glass for thirty-five years, almost always in churches, and often in extraordinary and beautiful buildings. In this talk, he will show images of windows in Leicester, Durham, Hereford and Gloucester Cathedrals, as well as various smaller churches. The demands of the setting, the idiosyncrasies of the medium, and aspects of subject matter will be explored. The windows embody scriptural texts, but in some cases are also commemorative, celebrating, for example, Ivor Gurney, King Richard III and Thomas Traherne.

THOMAS DENNY was born in London in 1956, and studied painting at Edinburgh College of Art. Since 1993 he has lived and worked in Dorset. He has been responsible for some sixty stained-glass windows, including the Reconciliation Window at St John’s, Tralee, Co. Kerry (the land of his ancestors), 2017, and, just recently installed, three windows at St James’ Grafton Underwood, Northants.






The Royal Asiatic Society, 14 Stephenson Way, LONDON NW1 2HD

Nearest Underground: EUSTON SQUARE    (NB. The back roads from Euston Main Station are currently closed.)

Please note that we do not accept credit/debit cards – thank you.


Brunswick Ltd  (formerly The Lincoln Centre)  18 Lincoln’s Inn Fields,  London WC2A 3ED

Nearest Underground:  HOLBORN


ADVANCE BOOKING for ALL events  to

An email confirmation will be sent to you upon receipt of your booking. We would be grateful if you could please let us know if you are unable to attend the talk as places are limited.  Thank you!

TELEPHONE:   (01233) 813663


Please do not attend if you or a member of your household has tested positive for Covid-19/has symptoms associated with the virus/are feeling unwell.

The rules of the venue will apply and we ask that you maintain social distancing for the safety of all attending. It is probable that we will ask attendees to please wear a face mask if they are not exempt from so doing. In the current circumstances the talks are subject to cancellation at short notice – if possible, please check the website for any last-minute changes before setting out.





Wednesday 8 December 2021


‘In these hills at last I am come to dwell’

Lord Gawain Douglas

In the chair: Hilary Davies


A talk on the 9th century Tang Dynasty Chinese poet Bai-Juyi (Po Chui), and his remarkable 20th century translator/re-creator, the polymath Arthur Waley.  The talk is interspersed with the recitation of various short poems, including one or two in Chinese spoken by Jane Zeng, Head of Mandarin at St Paul’s Girls’ School, and concludes with the masterpiece ‘The Temple’, an account of Bai-Juyi’s ‘s ascent with friends to a temple at the top of a perilous mountain, ‘Wang Shun’s Hill’.

Bai-Juyi was many things: a poet, a musician, a mountaineer, a naturalist, a humourist, and a melancholic.  Like many of us, he had a lifelong conflict between the demands of the world, of officialdom and his work, and the deeper call to transcendence; to seek this transcendence in the freedom of hills and streams; all this aligned to a deep Zen Buddhist faith.  He finds his illumination in ‘The Temple’, a work of radiant joy, but as is usually the case, it fades, as he probably knew it would.  He falls back into the world’s mire.  Buddhist or Christian we are imperfect beings.

The talk highlights the remarkable commonality of thought and feeling between the modern English mind and a Chinese government official and poet 1200 years ago; also, the extraordinary feat of recreation by Arthur Waley in the transmission of that duality in one stream of thought and language.

Lord Gawain Douglas is a teacher, performing poet and musician. His recitations include the ‘Sonnets’ of Shakespeare, and T. S. Eliot’s ‘Four Quartets’ and ‘The Waste Land’.



Tuesday 30 November 2021


Wassily Kandinsky and Franz Marc: Art and Apocalypse

Colin Pink

In the chair: Professor Grevel Lindop


Between 1911 and 1914 Wassily Kandinsky and Franz Marc (two of the founding members of Der Blaue Reiter artists’ group in Munich) believed that they were working together to create a new art for a new spiritual era that was about to dawn.

Influenced by a syncretic mix of ideas derived from German Romanticism, and Theosophy’s blending of Western and Eastern mysticism, Kandinsky and Marc created a highly symbolic art using colour symbolism to represent spiritual ideals and began to explore the possibilities of an art made out of colours and forms independent of the representation of external objects.

As Marc stated in an article in Pan magazine: ‘Today we seek behind the veil of appearances the hidden things in nature that seem to us more important than the discoveries of the Impressionists… We seek and paint this inner spiritual side of nature…’

Around 1913 this endeavour took an apocalyptic turn with both artists producing visions of devastating events which they believed were about to unfold and would hasten in a new era of spiritual perfection.

The apocalypse did indeed take place, but it took the form of the destruction wrought by the First World War. Kandinsky, as an enemy alien, had to flee, first to Switzerland and then to his native Russia. Franz Marc joined the German army and died on the Western Front in 1916.

Colin Pink is a poet and art historian. He lectures at Morley College, London and is an accredited Art Society lecturer. He specialises in the relationship between art and ideas.


Monday 22 November 2021



Maggie Fergusson

In the chair:  Hilary Davies


George Mackay Brown was born on 17 October 1921. In this his centenary year we are delighted to welcome Maggie Fergusson to speak about his life and his literary legacy. Mackay Brown was one of the foremost Scottish writers of the last century. Seamus Heaney called him ‘the praise singer’, and Orkney ‘his gateway to the completely imagined’. He was a friend of Kathleen Raine who published him in the first issue of Temenos. Despite suffering from physical and mental ill-health Mackay Brown, in addition to journalism produced an impressive body of work that includes poetry, novels, short stories, essays and plays. Apart from short periods living on the mainland, including as a mature student of Edwin Muir, Mackay Brown spent his entire life in Stromness on Orkney (the Hamnavoe of his fiction). His biographer and friend, Maggie Fergusson, will reflect on why he was right to stay put.

Maggie Fergusson FRSL is the Literary Editor of The Tablet and the author of George Mackay Brown: The Life (John Murray, 2006).


Wednesday 3 November


Leonardo’s Adoration of the Magi

Andrew Wolpert

In the chair  Ian Skelly


This lecture will explore the traditional iconography, Leonardo’s originality, what subsequently happened to the picture, the Gospel background, and the esoteric significance of this now recently cleaned masterpiece.

This ‘unfinished’ work raises questions about the biography and the genius of the artist.   Sometimes the concept “unfinished” is rightly applied knowing the intentions of the artist, and sometimes to the more or less legitimate expectations of a patron or later viewers.  There is also a sense in which a work of art merits being seen simply as it is today.

It is indeed a salient, if also unexpected, characteristic of the Renaissance that the art is not complete until the observer becomes active in the process of beholding. Our interaction with the architecture, sculpture, or painting brings the dimension of time and process to what otherwise remains a spatial reality. Leonardo, more than any of his contemporaries, challenges us to engage with him and dare to collaborate in the artistic process he began.

Andrew Wolpert’s research in Renaissance Art History is part of a wider interest in the Evolution of Consciousness as expressed in all the arts.  He has given courses in various institutions in Europe, Asia and Australia, including Emerson College and the University in Stuttgart for Waldorf Teacher Training.



Tuesday 19th October 2021


Dante and Spiritual Intelligence

Dr Mark Vernon

In the chair  Dr Jeremy Naydler


The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri, who died 700 years ago this year, is many things: a personal crisis, a diatribe against corruption, an unsurpassed poem, a celebration of love. But as it is celebrated this year, it’s possible that its heart, as Dante described it, is side-lined or overlooked. He called it realising that ‘I am more than I am’, discovered by journeying through three domains of reality. So what is the nature of this perceptual expanse and how does it come about?

The lecture will examine the transformation Dante underwent, which human beings can still undergo. It will focus on what might be called the emergence of Dante’s spiritual intelligence, which is different though not divided from his rational and emotional intelligence. Spiritual intelligence knows many things: that descent and ascent are intimately linked; that time can be experienced in dramatically different ways; that virtues are crucial not so much for moral reasons but because they connect with reality; that the whole of life is one life, unified not through uniformity but, as Dante describes it, like a book of many leaves bound by love, each with its part.

In wisdom traditions, this is called the beatific vision and nondual consciousness. Dante recognised himself as a modern poet. His vision of what we are capable is no less inspiring, and important, now.

Mark Vernon is a psychotherapist and writer, based in London. He is also a broadcaster and podcaster, and regularly gives talks and lectures. He has a PhD in philosophy, and degrees in theology and physics. He is the author of A Secret History of Christianity (John Hunt Publishing), which focuses on Owen Barfield; and of Dante’s Divine Comedy: A Guide for the Spiritual Journey (Angelico Press), published on 13 September 2021, the 700th anniversary of Dante’s death. He is also the author of books on friendship and ancient philosophy, love and the good life. He began his professional life as a priest in the Church of England.


Monday 4th October 2021


A Tribute to Warren Kenton (Z’ev ben Shimon Halevi)

Introduction to Kabbalah

Reverend Marie-Elsa Bragg

In the chair  Professor Grevel Lindop


Throughout biblical times the mystical tradition of both Jewish and Christian Kabbalah has been hidden, or adapted its terms to new religious and philosophical ideas. However, the basic teaching of the Tree of Life, otherwise known as ‘Jacob’s Ladder’, with its four levels and dynamic network of paths and principles has remained the same. The word Kabbalah comes from the Hebrew root ‘to receive’ and the esoteric map within this tradition is passed on to every generation in the hope that it might both guide and awaken us further into relationship with ourselves, the world and the divine.

Marie-Elsa Bragg is a writer and priest. She studied Jewish Mysticism and Jewish festivals at Leo Baeck Rabbinical College and Theology at Oxford University. She has been a Spiritual Director for over twenty years, and a student of the late Warren Kenton (Z’ev ben Shimon Halevi) for over twenty-five years.







28th June 2021


The Transmigrations of TALIESIN: The Mystery of the Ancient Child

Professor John Carey


Taliesin was already celebrated in the ninth century as one of the great poets of the age of Arthur, and was later said to have been ‘chief of the bards’ (pen beirdd) at Arthur’s court. He may originally have been a historical individual, flourishing in the sixth century; but he became a figure of legend, the prototypical poet of the Welsh, famed as a master of magical speech and supernatural knowledge. It was the Taliesin of the imagination who provided some of the primary inspiration for Robert Graves’s The White Goddess, and who was used as a persona by the poets Charles Williams and Vernon Watkins. This talk will consider the figure of Taliesin, the tales concerning him, and the wisdom attributed to him, in the broader context of Welsh and Irish tradition.

John Carey is Professor of Early and Medieval Irish at University College Cork, where he teaches medieval Irish and Welsh language and literature; he is also general editor of the Temenos Academy Review. His books include Ireland and the Grail (2007), Ten Basic Principles That Inspire the Work of Temenos (2017), The Mythological Cycle of Medieval Irish Literature (2018) and Magic, Metallurgy and Imagination in Medieval Ireland (2019). He is the O’Donnell Lecturer in Celtic Studies, University of Oxford, for 2020-21; a Member of the Royal Irish Academy; and a Fellow of the Temenos Academy.


7th July 2021


Icons, Image and Presence

Sir Richard Temple


Images of Christ and the saints are just a visual expression of something universally true, something that was never not there: Divine Presence. Byzantine and medieval Slav painters, drawing on traditions of ancient knowledge as well as from their own spiritual disciplines and contemplative practice, could create images imbued with Presence.

The illustrations will suggest that the origin of the icon is to be sought in Egypt where, in the second century, there came together painters of the ancient Hellenic traditions of art, representatives of the Schools of Egyptian Wisdom and Christians. From such a meeting flowered the religious culture of monasteries of the Egyptian desert and Sinai.

This culture gave rise to what later came to be called Hesychasm and a tradition sometimes referred to as esoteric Christianity. Academic historians and academic theologians tend to relegate all this to an impenetrable labyrinth where one can feel more and more lost. Icons on the other hand provide a direct experience, a living experience, of the higher realities whose existence is all around us, and present in us, but not perceptible to the rational mind and the physical senses.

Sir Richard Temple  founded the Temple Gallery, London in 1959 as a centre for the study, restoration and exhibition of ancient icons and sacred art. He is the author of Icons and the Mystical Origins of Christianity (1990) and ICONS Divine Beauty (2004).


12th July 2021


Ascending the Hermeneutic Ladder:

Botticelli’s La Primavera and Ficino’s Venus Humanitas

Julia Cleave


Most commentators on this painting are content to take their cue from Giorgio Vasari’s terse description: Venus, whom the three Graces deck with flowers, denoting the Spring. In interpreting Botticelli’s lyrical presentation of nine mythological figures, they seldom venture beyond the second rung of Dante’s hermeneutic ladder.

If we are to enlarge our response, and engage with the picture philosophically and soulfully, we need to turn to the writings of Marsilio Ficino who appears to have played a key role in its genesis.

Far from being a merely picturesque tableau, Botticelli’s composition presents us with a sacred performance in three acts, a drama of emanation, rapture and return. Three of Ficino’s letters in particular, provide us with some important clues as to the true nature of Love, and the real circumstances behind the commissioning of the painting, which have a lot to do with the moral and spiritual education of the young Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco de’ Medici.

Ficino believed that the function of the visual arts was to remind the soul of its divine origin by creating resemblances to the ideal forms. In the painting we see Venus and Mercury acting in concert with divine Eros as hierophants in a triple sequence of initiations, each involving a synthesis of dialectical opposites.

The central figure of Venus – a perfect embodiment of Ficino’s Venus Humanitas – appears like an epoptic vision at the climax of the Mysteries: the life-changing revelation which was said to banish the initiates’ fear of death and confirm their immortal destiny. Acting as psychopomp, Hermes-Mercury indicates the journey heavenward with the distinctive angle of his caduceus. That all four of the quadrivium subjects – those ways to wisdom believed to confer immortality on the human soul – play a role in the composition, is further proof of Botticelli’s anagogical intent.

Julia Cleave is an independent scholar, a Fellow of the Temenos Academy and a member of its Council and Academic Board.




16th February 2021


Dr Jeremy Naydler


The spiritual symbolism of light has a long history. Because the sun is the life-giving source of light and warmth upon which all creatures on Earth depend, the light emanating from the sun provides a natural symbol of the creative power of the divine source of existence. Many spiritual traditions also affirm that within the human being, too, there is an interior sunlike source of light and warmth. In this lecture we shall reflect on some of the mystical, theological and philosophical teachings concerning this inner source of light, the goal of becoming inwardly illumined and of shining light into the world. We shall seek to understand how bringing light to the world may be understood as our deepest human vocation.

Jeremy Naydler, PhD is a Fellow of the Temenos Academy and author of two recent books on technology and the human spirit: The Struggle for a Human Future (2020) and In the Shadow of the Machine (2018). This lecture further develops themes touched on in the lecture “From Smart Planet to Sacred Earth” given on September 28th, 2020.




[Image: Part of a larger Batik painting, The Holy City, by Thetis Blacker]






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