What’s In A Name? Destiny
Once upon a time…Isn’t that how all good stories start? Right. So, once upon a time an adventurous young woman decided to move another country and experience what life was like in a different culture. The desire to do this had been with her for a long time. Not that she didn’t love her native country. She did, but she was also filled with curiosity about the larger world and wanted to see more of it. Having been brought up in rural and suburban settings, she particularly wanted to live in a city that offered a vibrant mix of people, interesting history, lots of live theatre and art galleries. When she landed a job in such a city, it was time to begin the adventure.
She had few possessions so it did not take long to get settled in a flat. One cool Spring afternoon, she decided to explore the local used-book stores. One of the advantages of city life was not needing a car so she walked everywhere which was great exercise, but also limited what she could carry home. Just as well when you’re on a tight budget. Our girl was a real book-lover. She was especially fond of old books and had a small collection of Victorian first editions with hand-tinted illustrations, fold-out maps and an occasional newspaper or magazine clipping left by the original owner as a bookmark. The books themselves were documents of an age long gone, when time was more fluid, less fractured into units than in our day. Despite the noise from horse-drawn carriages with iron wheels, or newly invented tram cars clanging along their tracks, the absence of radios and television meant that there were long silent hours every day and night, the hours of sewing, reading aloud, studying items one might have stumbled upon whilst rambling through a curio shop, or perhaps even time to play an instrument and sing. Since it was mainly the leisured classes that could afford such pleasures in Victorian days, it was also the leisured classes that bought and read books and in doing so left a legacy far more precious than money. At least, that is how our fanciful young friend thought about it. So, on the afternoon in question a small, dingy bookstore wedged between a bakery and a cheesemonger, beckoned her inside.
What’s In A Name? Destiny
The shop was indeed tiny, almost Lilliputian, dimly lit by a single bronze desk lamp from about 1920 or so judging by the art nouveau style of it. This artifact of a more graceful age warmly glowing through a vellum shade invited a hushed attentiveness to the messages on the spines of the books that toppled over each other in a kind of Bohemian profusion. David Copperfield vied with the Vicar of Wakefield for her attention. But it was the small, slim volumes that attracted her today. The Stones of Venice caught her eye but as she reached for it another tiny book, almost hidden by its more imposing neighbours, was dislodged and threatened to fall if she didn’t catch it. With her left hand on Ruskin, she caught Yeats in her right. Oh, Yeats. How lovely. Serendipitous, in fact. He was her favourite poet and the book that had literally fallen into her hand was The Countess Kathleen, a play that Yeats had written for the Abbey Theatre in Dublin.
Order of the Golden Dawn
In addition to being a poet and playwright, Yeats was also an authority on Irish folk tales, legends and myths. Yeats’ temperament was mystically inclined and the appeal of the long history of fairy lore proved irresistible to his romantic spirit. He even pursued his mystical interests by joining the Order of The Golden Dawn.
Although the “Order” underwent substantial reorganization in its first three decades as members created splinter groups and disagreements caused friction, a number of prominent artists and political activists joined the group. The novelists Arnold Bennett and Bram Stoker, the actress and political activist Maude Gonne, the scholar Evelyn Underhill who would go on to write a definitive study of mysticism, A.E. Waite of Rider-Waite Tarot Deck fame, the deck’s illustrator Pamela Colman Smith, and the controversial occultist, Aleister Crowley, were all members. Their objective was to understand and be initiated, level by level, into the Ancient Mysteries dating from the early days of Hermetic culture derived from various Greek, Egyptian and Kabbalist traditions.
- Introduction—Neophyte 0=0
- Zelator 1=10
- Theoricus 2=9
- Practicus 3=8
- Philosophus 4=7
- Intermediate—Portal Grade
- Adeptus Minor 5=6
- Adeptus Major 6=5
- Adeptus Exemptus 7=4
- Magister Templi 8=3
- Magus 9=2
- Ipsissimus 10=1
As you can see from the list of levels above, the members had to master esoteric texts, pass examinations on them and learn the ritual expression of each esoteric principle. You may notice that all of the numerical combinations of the levels add up to 11. Although she did not appreciate the full significance of this fact at the time, her decision to purchase the Yeats volume containing both Land of Heart’s Desire and The Countess Kathleen would eventuate in a Synchronicity that led her to her Destiny. W.B. Yeats (above) reading from The Celtic Twilight: Fairie and Folklore.
It wasn’t until she got home later that afternoon, that she noticed the bookplate inside the front cover of her little book. It seems that the book had been given as a prize for academic achievement and inscribed beneath the school’s shield was the name Aoife MacDubhshith. She noted the Irish spelling and the date of the award, November 1, 1929, the same year this edition of the book was published. After reading both short plays, it was time to add the volume to her collection. The obvious place for it was between The Celtic Twilight and the Collected Poetry of Yeats so there it sat until a few years later.
A trip to a part of her native country she had never visited before was the next step toward Destiny. She had been resisting the idea of this trip for some time but as her mother was aging and wanted to see her birthplace one last time, the trip was duly organized and they set off for a remote corner of the world where there were rumoured to be more sheep than people and mountain goats roamed the rocky outcrops along the coast. Wild landscapes (like the coast of Ireland above) were a passion with our girl and the more stark the better as far as she was concerned. There were, of course, obligatory visits to old cemeteries in search of family graves but the deep wild grasses that choked the old burial sites added a challenge that made the expedition less gruesome. The first Synchronicity that augured a significant discovery was when she searched for a place to stay and discovered that the owner’s name was the same as her mother’s sister! Since neither the first nor surname was common this was an interesting co-incidence. Over the next two days, they were re-united with various relatives. Our girl had had an inexplicable feeling of reluctance that persisted from the time they arrived in the country. It felt like Destiny and she had been avoiding it for years. But as tends to be the case, the faster we run away, the faster we run headlong into Fate.
Opening The Door To Fate
It was the day before they were to leave the little town. The B&B owner had arranged for a local man to drive them out to visit two old ladies who were cousins of her father. The B&B owner’s little girl was sitting inside the front door and our girl was keeping her entertained with a storybook when the doorbell rang. Moving the little girl safely to one side, she opened the door and there he was. It took only one look for them both to know that something momentous had just happened. It was the strangest meeting of her life. The man before her had golden eyes with green around the edges of the iris, as though amber had somehow been caught in peridot. He stared at her with amazement and an instant of recognition passed between them. But others were observing so she opened the door fully and her hostess welcomed the man in. His name was Diarmuid MacDubhshith (MacAfee or MacPhee in English). Because she only heard the name and did not see the spelling the co-incidence did not hit her then.
The Fates Gathering In the Stars by Elihu Vedder, 1887.
Her mother took to Diarmuid immediately but our girl dared not show any reaction other than politeness. After all, they were complete strangers and had barely met; anything more would be inappropriate despite the feeling that she had known him all her life - and then some! This needed some careful thought but Destiny has its own pace and before the evening was over Diarmuid would go to considerable lengths to demonstrate that they were third cousins, established that she was not married, and then over drinks at a pub in another town revealed the source of her reluctance. He was married. In fact, he’d practically been born married! His wife grew up on a neighbouring farm and as soon as they reached marriageable age, it was a foregone conclusion that they would marry and two farms would be combined eventually. There was only one problem, after the birth of their second child his wife was diagnosed with a disabling and incurable illness. Their lives would never be normal. He did his best by her and the rest of the family and so had acquired one smallholding after the other over the years, trying to keep the land that once belonged to family members intact. Diarmuid was the soul of discretion in public but in the car in the near blackout conditions of roads between farms, he revealed what he was thinking. He had a dream of one day going to New Zealand. He’d heard that the prospects for sheep farming were still good there. Had she ever been to New Zealand? No, but she had considered it as a destination once and still wondered what it would be like to live there. He kept the conversation going in this exploratory vein finding out more about her and revealing more abvout himself though they both knew that when they said good-bye the following day, that would be the end of it.
Her mother had, of course, picked up on the vibes despite our girl’s determination to keep her tone casual and un-emotional. She was completely accepting Diarmuid and it was obvious she would be delighted to have him as son-in-law if ever the circumstances allowed. There was no sleep to be had that night and the next day when she met Diarmuid’s still beautiful wife, it was also apparent that they had little sleep. She had the distinct impression that he had confided everything to his wife and there was a slight aura of sadness about them both despite their best efforts at hospitality. Fate is not always kind and Destiny…well Destiny is what it is.
On returning to her adopted home, our girl wrapped up her copy of The Countess Kathleen and sent it to her cousin explaining that it only seemed right that the book be kept by someone in his family. Some part of Aiofe would go back home. It seemed the only way to co-operate with Destiny. It wasn’t until she arrived at the post office that she noticed the date, November 1, 1992…
For more information on the Order of the Golden or any of the books shown above visit Delia’s “A List” Amazon Shop: HERE.
Image credits: Abbey Theatre, Rosy Cross, Yeats: Wikipedia, Wikimedia Creative Commons.