Online Lecture Papers


Temenos published a series on online papers as a temporary substitute for our regular programme of evening lectures during the 2020-2021 lockdowns brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.

You can read all 17 papers here:


10th June 2021

An Alchemical Reading of Shakespeare’s Antony & Cleopatra

Julia Cleave

No other Shakespeare play has so divided opinion as to its genre, ethos, structure, and the natures of its twin protagonists. Failure to recognise the shaping role played by the Magnum Opus in its conception has led to frequent misreadings and authorial purposes mistook, while the finest critics have intuitively divined its presence. Coleridge commended ‘the manner in which the fiery force is sustained throughout.’ Its manifold operations – in which chemical processes were deemed analogous to transformations within the human psyche – are found to be determinants of the drama at every level: plot, themes, lexicon and symbolism. Spiritual alchemy’s declared project of human ennoblement, of making ‘defect perfection’, directs us towards Shakespeare’s deepest concerns with wholeness and fulfilment of being, and the maturing powers of ‘pure love’.

JULIA CLEAVE is an independent scholar with a special interest in the Pythagorean, Hermetic and Mystery traditions as they are to be found, still largely unacknowledged, in Renaissance and Early Modern art and literature. She is a member of the Council and Academic Board and a Fellow of the Temenos Academy.

Online Paper 17  HERE


8th May 2021

Dante on the Way to Rome and Jerusalem

Andrew Frisardi

Medieval Christians’ geography was spiritual geography. Pilgrims journeyed inside the Book of Creation, not merely across the naturalistic or snapshot landscapes of modern commercial tourism. Destinations such as Rome and Jerusalem corresponded to stations in the spirit’s journey. Jerusalem was the spiritual center of the world, the omphalos or holy mountain, the place of Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection. Rome was the place of the martyrdom of SS. Peter and Paul, the providential foundation of Christ’s Church on earth. For Dante, then, these sacred cities were fundamental religious and poetic symbols. This essay, a slightly revised version of a chapter in Andrew Frisardi’s recent book Love’s Scribe: Reading Dante in the Book of Creation (Angelico Press, 2020), explores the symbolic imagery of Rome and Jerusalem in Dante’s writing.

The publication of this paper commemorates the 700th anniversary of Dante’s death, in 1321.

Andrew Frisardi is an independent Dante scholar, writer, and translator from Boston who has lived in the Lazio region of Italy for many years. He has published annotated translations of Dante’s Vita nova (Northwestern University Press, 2012) and Convivio (Cambridge University Press, 2018), and is a Fellow of the Temenos Academy.

Online Lecture Paper 16 HERE


1st April 2021

Imagining Kells:  A Poetic Exploration of the Book of Kells

James Harpur

In 1999 James Harpur was commissioned to write a poem about the Book of Kells, Ireland’s greatest medieval illuminated manuscript, and found inspiration in a number of different sources, including Plotinus, Rilke, Abbot Suger, Paul Klee and Bernard of Clairvaux.  He expressed his poem through a number of voices, including those of an anonymous illuminator, a scribe, and the churchman Gerald of Wales; and various themes evolved, twisting and circling throughout the poem like the decorative scrollwork of the Kells illuminations, including the nature of pilgrimage, the idea of ‘home’, and the aesthetics of sacred art. This illustrated essay describes his poetic exploration of Book of the Kells, as well as some of the processes of his own artistic creation.

James Harpur’s latest book of poetry is The White Silhouette (2018), which includes his poem ‘Kells’. A new book, The Oratory of Light, featuring poems inspired by St Columba, is due to be published by Wild Goose Press in June 2021.

Online Lecture Paper 15 HERE


1st  March 2021

Poetry and the Dimension of Myth

Jules Cashford

This paper explores the idea that Poetry and Myth are related at the deepest level in the psyche. Myth in its original Greek meaning of ‘story’ is universal, for we all, as a race, religion, culture and individual have a story about the world in which we live, and our place and purpose in it – one which seeks to render life transparent to an intelligible source. Some stories are believed to be literally true, and others are felt to be symbols of states of mind – almost, but not wholly, beyond us. What the stories have in common is that they are all ultimately constructions of the human psyche, for the world is not given as fact but inhabited through interpretation. It will be suggested that the stories which shape our sensibilities and our lives – whether through Revelation, Inspiration or Imagination – are those that reach us as Poetry in its widest meaning of ‘the making of soul.’

JULES CASHFORD was educated at St Andrews and Cambridge universities. A writer, film-maker and analyst, she is a Fellow of the Temenos Academy and has lectured for Temenos on the Egyptian and Greek Mysteries, Wolfram’s Parzival, and Imagination in Blake, Coleridge and Yeats.

Online Lecture Paper 14  HERE


2nd February 2021

A Reflection on Words, Silence and Love

David Cadman

David Cadman, a Quaker, looks at how the current pandemic could enable us to adopt a new way of being – through the practice of Silence – “And this Silence is the place of Love”.

DAVID CADMAN’s work is centred upon teachings of love and compassion, wholeness and connectivity.  For many years David held professorial titles or fellowships in universities both in the UK and America.  He is currently a Harmony Professor of Practice at the University of Wales Trinity St David. Formerly Chairman of The Prince’s Foundation and a Trustee of the Prince’s School of Traditional Arts, he is a Fellow of the Temenos Academy.

Online Lecture Paper 13  HERE


6th January 2021

Symbolism as the Language of Imagination

Jules Cashford

Through the voices of the Romantic poets – Blake, Coleridge, Wordsworth, Shelley, Keats, and Yeats – this essay explores how Imagination expresses itself through the non-dualistic language of symbolism, and why the poetry likewise requires of us a unified response of our whole being. If Imagination, as Coleridge writes, ‘brings the whole soul of man into activity,’ it follows, in art and life, that the whole soul be brought into activity to embody and understand it, for anything less than this is in some part an abstraction which separates us from what we would deeply know.

JULES CASHFORD was educated at St Andrews and Cambridge universities. A writer, film-maker and analyst, she is a Fellow of the Temenos Academy and has lectured for Temenos on the Egyptian and Greek Mysteries, Wolfram’s Parzival, and Imagination in Blake, Coleridge and Yeats.

Online Lecture Paper 12  HERE


20 December 2020

The Fresh Air of Tradition: In Praise of Dogma, Goodness and Tradition

Aidan Hart

This paper is adapted from Aidan Hart’s book Beauty Spirit Matter (2014).

AIDAN HART, a member of the Greek Orthodox Church living in Britain, has been a full-time icon painter and carver for over twenty-five years. He has works in more than twenty countries of the world and in many cathedrals and monasteries. He is a Fellow of the Temenos Academy.

Online Lecture Paper 11 HERE


1 December 2020

The Quarantine Quatrains – A new Rubaiyat

Malcolm Guite, with illustrations by Roger Wagner

This poem of forty verses of four lines each is modelled on Fitzgerald’s translation of The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. The accompanying illustrations by Roger Wagner are inspired by the tradition of Persian miniature painting. First published by The Parchment Press in 2020 in a limited edition of 600 copies (now sold out), with all profits donated to The Care Workers’ Charity, we are pleased to be able to share the poem as the first on-line paper of December.

THE REVD. DR MALCOLM GUITE is a Life Fellow, and the former Chaplain, of Girton College, a poet, musician, and the author of studies of Coleridge and of C.S. Lewis.

ROGER WAGNER read English at Oxford and studied art at The Royal Academy of Art. Since his first exhibition in 1985 he has created a distinguished body of work in a broad range of media, praised by Peter Levi and Rowan Williams.

Online Lecture Paper 10 HERE


2nd November 2020

As You Like It and the Nature of Love   

Jill Line

In Philip Sidney’s Arcadia a duke leaves his disordered state seeking to discover the true state of his soul in a pastoral life among the shepherds; he is followed by two young princes attempting the Platonic path of love. Twenty years later Shakespeare used similar themes in As You Like It but from a far higher level of understanding.           This paper considers As You Like It in the light of the Arcadian tradition and the way Shakespeare unfolds the true path of love as his characters discover their own nature in the beauty of Nature herself.

JILL LINE is a Shakespearean scholar with a particular interest in the Classics and Platonic philosophy.  She has taught and lectured for many organisations and is the author of Shakespeare and the Fire of Love (2004).  She is a Fellow of the Temenos Academy.

Note: this paper was given at the Temenos Academy Study Day ‘Shakespeare’s Vision of Nature’ on 30 November 2019.

Online lecture paper 9 HERE


1st October 2020

The Purpose of Yoga and What Stands in the Way

Professor Ravi Ravindra  

This paper by Professor Ravi Ravindra replaces a lecture he would have given this term.

RAVI RAVINDRA is Professor Emeritus at Dalhousie University in Halifax. Ravi Ravindra’s spiritual search has led him to the teachings of J. Krishnamurti, G. I. Gurdjieff, Zen, Yoga, and a deep immersion in the mystical teachings of the Indian and Christian classical traditions. He is the author of several books on religion, science, mysticism, and spirituality. His most recent book is The Bhagavad Gita – A Guide to Navigating the Battle of Life (Shambhala Publications, 2017). He is a Fellow of the Temenos Academy.

Online lecture paper 8  HERE


12th September 2020

A Secret Philosophy: W. B. Yeats and the Dublin Hermetic Society 

Professor Grevel Lindop

As our on-line paper for September we are pleased to publish the first chapter of Mysterious Wisdom: the Spiritual Life and Poetry of W. B Yeats by Grevel Lindop, a work in progress to be published in due course by Oxford University Press.

GREVEL LINDOP was formerly a Professor of English at Manchester University. His recent books include a collection of poems, Luna Park, and a biography, Charles Williams: The Third Inkling. He is a member of the Council and a Fellow of the Temenos Academy, and chair of its Academic Board.

Online lecture paper 7  HERE


15th August 2020

A Beginner’s Guide to Symbolic Geometry: An Interview with Professor Michael Schneider

Christine Rhone

Among the many honours given to the late Professor Keith Critchlow, co-founder of The Temenos Academy, was one from his close contemporary and respected colleague John Michell, who dedicated his final work to Keith as ‘our modern Pythagoras’. This book, How the World is Made: The Story of Creation According to Sacred Geometry, was the summation of John’s life work as a geometer and an artist. A generation younger, Professor Michael Schneider was encouraged in his research and teaching of symbolic number by John, who brought him several times to see Keith lecture or to visit him. All three ascribe to the ideal of geometry as the art of the ever-true, with acknowledgement of divinity and dedication to spiritual vision, each bringing that ideal forward and shaping it in his own way.

This paper is published in the new Temenos Academy Review 23 which is now available for sale in our publications catalogue.

Online lecture paper 6  HERE


3rd August 2020

A Taste of Paradise – Designing the new Cambridge Mosque Garden

Emma Clark

This article will look at how the principal elements of Islamic garden design, along with their profound spiritual symbolism, are integrated into this very English of urban settings. One of the key ingredients of an Islamic Paradise garden is the idea of the sanctuary, reminding all visitors of the importance of nurturing the inner ‘garden of the heart’ as well as the outer garden of trees, flowers and water.

From the beginning of the design process, the principal intention for this garden was to offer the visitor a calm green space to walk through, or sit in for a moment, on the way to prayer. It serves, not only as a quiet transition area between clamorous, traffic-ridden Mill Road outside and the peace of the Mosque within, but also aims to give a little taste of Jannat al-firdaws, the Gardens of Paradise described in the Qur’an.

This new Cambridge Central Mosque is Europe’s first eco-friendly mosque and was completed in 2019. Readers will be interested to know that all the geometric patterns used in the Mosque (the atrium floor, wooden doors, mashrabiyya – wood and metal screens – and stained-glass windows) were designed by the late Professor Keith Critchlow, co-founder of the Temenos Academy.

The Islamic-inspired garden within the Mosque boundary is open to all, Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Since the virus restrictions have been relaxed this is now open from 11am – 5pm. (

There is also a narrow Community garden lying between the pavement of Mill Road and the Mosque railings. This consists of four planting beds with birch trees and is open to the public all the time. Indeed, a bus stop is located here with a particularly good view through the Mosque railings into the Islamic Garden!

Online lecture paper 5  HERE

Cambridge Mosque Photos HERE  (Part 1)

Cambridge Mosque Photos HERE  (Part 2)


14th July 2020

St Bonaventure & the Divine Order of Creation

Dr Joseph Milne

In the thirteenth century scholarship was torn by disputes over Aristotelianism. The two greatest contemporary scholastics, Bonaventure (1221-1274) and Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274), were both swept up in these disputes. When seeking to reconcile Aristotle with Scripture a central problem was Aristotle’s conception of the eternity of the world. For Aristotle time was merely series of isolated moments having no causal order in their sequence. The hierarchy of causes simply cut across time. This left no scope for the Christian conception of the unfoldment of a sacred cosmic history stretching from the beginning to the end of the world.

Aquinas resolved this problem by placing eschatology outside Aristotelian time. Bonaventure resolved it by rejecting Aristotelian time altogether on the basis that God had created nothing without a definite form or structure. For him a sacred history informed chronological time and gave it a shape ultimately culminating in God. In adopting this view Bonaventure takes Scripture as revealing the order of the manifest world, not in a naïve literal sense but as presenting an archetypal order that permeated all created orders.

This archetypal order not only informed sacred history. It also informed the ascent of the mind in mystical contemplation through the different modes of knowledge. For Bonaventure there is nothing in existence that is not directly informed by the presence of God and which therefore shows some footprint or trace of God. Drawing upon Patristic, Victorine and Cistercian biblical exegesis and refining it, Bonaventure articulated a complex mystical vision of the Creation.

Since the Reformation this Christian vision of the sacred cosmic drama has been largely forgotten along with the allegorical and mystical study of the Scriptures, and so the West has been bereft of a specifically Christian cosmology. In this lecture we will seek to recover something of this lost tradition through an exploration of Bonaventure’s Collations on the Six Days and his Journey of the Mind into God.

Online lecture paper 4  HERE


10th June 2020

The Gates of Perception: Landscape, Place and Vision in the work of John Clare, Samuel Palmer and Stanley Spencer

Hilary Davies

This lecture will look at how the landscapes in the work of John Clare, Samuel Palmer and Stanley Spencer bear out Blake’s words, ‘I know that this world is a world of imagination and vision’. The hinge that links these realities is the visionary capacity of the artist/poet to move into a reality, first approached through the world available to our sensory perceptions, but which is then illuminated and transformed by abundant, symbolic and even transcendent meaning.  This ability both to show the physical and the numinous simultaneously has characterised a particular thread in British poetry and art for well over a thousand years. It is also a thread that has, at various times, been overlooked, disdained or dismissed as irrelevant to contemporary concerns.  In this lecture, I shall look at how John Clare, Samuel Palmer and Stanley Spencer contribute to this tradition.

Online lecture paper 3  HERE


27th May 2020

In Search of Merlin  –  Professor John Carey

Merlin is known to all of us as the great magician of the Arthurian cycle, but he is more than that: on a profound level, he is that cycle’s originating author. It is he who devised the Round Table, he who engineered the conception of Arthur himself, he whose foreknowledge contained the whole glory and downfall of the Arthurian age. But what are the roots of this enigmatic figure? It seems symptomatic that Geoffrey of Monmouth, the first author to use the name ‘Merlin’, gave two accounts of him, so different that it was almost immediately concluded that there had been two Merlins: the clues lead in divergent and increasingly puzzling directions. This talk will examine the earliest evidence, placing it in the broader context of the narrative traditions of the Celtic peoples, and suggesting a possible source for the legends.

Online lecture paper 2  HERE


20th May 2020

An Introduction to Blake’s Mythic System  –  Dr Susanne Sklar

William Blake’s mythic system is designed to change the way we think and see. Featuring Zoas, Emanations, and different states of being, it evolved throughout his working life. This talk outlines the basic features in Blake’s system, as well as the sources influencing key concepts in his poetry, his prophetic vision.

Online lecture paper 1  HERE

Accompanying Powerpoint HERE










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