While geomancy was being thus popularized, its more serious students were carefully studying earlier works on the subject in an attempt to build geomancy into an overall philosophical and magical system. One such student was the novelist Bulwer Lytton (1803-73). He was best known as the author of a number of historical romances
and occult novels, a successful playwright and a politician who rose to be Secretary for the Colonies. During his life, his novels dealing with the supernatural were dismissed as aberrations that would soon be forgotten. Today his occult works such as Zanoni, A Strange Story and Zicci are as well known, if not better known than his other works.
Bulwer first became interested in mesmerism at Cambridge where he met the mesmerist Chauncey Hare Townshend. His marriage in 1827 against his mother's wishes resulted in the withdrawal of his allowance and the subsequent need to write to support himself and his wife. In 1838, two years after separation from his wife, he was created a baronet. Greater financial freedom gave him time to study the medieval and Renaissance writers on divination and magic. His novels increasingly reflected his interest in these subjects.
His favourite method of divination was geomancy, combining this method with astrology. He wrote a long prediction of the career of Disraeli which proved to be amazingly accurate, and drew up horoscopes for various personal friends.
Amongst the books of his library was a well-thumbed copy of The Geomancie of Master Christopher Cattan published by John Wolfe in 1591, together with John Heydon's Theomagia which also contained much geomancy. From a letter he sent to Hargrave Jennings, author of a two-volume work on the Rosicrucians, it appears that Lytton belonged to at least one Rosicrucian organization. He is also reputed to have organized a club for the practice and investigation of ceremonial magic, to which he recruited the occultist Eliphas Levi among others. Members are said to have attempted to evoke elemental spirits on the roof of a building in Oxford Street in London, in 1853.
His reputation for being interested in magic grew and he was invited to take part in the Society for Psychical
Research's investigation of the amazing medium D.D. Home. However, when the Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia appointed him as their Honorary Patron he refused the honour (not surprisingly considering that the Society decided on the appointment without consulting him, only actually notifying him of the appointment, on a letterhead on which his patronage was already printed!). The Society however spawned one of the best known magical fraternities, the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn.
Was this article helpful?