The Scarlet Letter
Volume IV, Number 1 | March 1997
The Magical Diaries of Ethel Archer
By Mrs. E.J. Wieland

Ethel Archer was a poet and novelist born during the 1880's. She was a student of magick and a member of the A.'. A.'., and was married to Eugene J. Weiland, the publisher of the Equinox. Many of her poems appeared initially in the Equinox, and in 1911 her first book of poetry, The Whirlpool, was published with a forward by Aleister Crowley, in which he describes her effort as “the bell of sterile passion glowing in the heart of the bell of desolation.” We guess that he meant that as a complement. She and Victor Neuberg were friends, each dedicating poetry to the other. After observing that many of her poems concerned a female beloved, he dubbed her “Sappho” an honorific she embraced, even while explaining that she was addressing the female beloved within. Archer and Crowley stayed in touch throughout his lifetime; she died in 1961.

This is the first installment of that which survives of her magical diary circa 1912, from the collection of Gerald J. Yorke, who transcribed these entries from loose pages in E.A.'s hand. Thanks to H.B. for making me aware of, and providing me with this material.

N. V. Continuity P.

February 24, 1912

I had a rather curious and decidedly pleasant experience this morning; it must, I think, have been about 5 p.m. [sic]. I experienced the, to me, somewhat familiar sensation of being borne through the air upwards at a terrific speed, so that the wind rushing past my ears excluded all other sounds. I remember a very faint suspicion of fear at first, but this was quickly overpowered by the exhilerating feeling of lightness and pleasant curiosity.

I shot upwards far above the earth, up, up, up, until the air seemed so rarified that its elastic sparkling buoyancy seemed very light itself.

I saw what appeared to be the birds eye view of an immense town of red-roofed houses nestling amongst green fields and pleasant valleys and to the right of the town was a mountain so large and high that beside it the houses seemed as little red specks of dust.

I sped upwards beyond the mountain, still up and up, —and then I was in some flat open country like an immense moorland. There were no trees, but great fields of corn or it may have been stubble. A little lane went past one of the fields and coming towards me I saw a little girl with intelligent dark eyes in a red frock like the child of a peasant. I felt strangely drawn towards her, somehow she reminded me of my earlier self. I took her hands and she drew me to (a) small house surrounded by creepers. The roof was composed of a species of rafter bound round with dark green turf. I peeped through a small window and saw someone walking about inside in a white gown.

Then, thinking I was intruding, I returned to the lane.

Three strange looking black dogs came slowly out of the garden, rather like fantastic french poodles, and thinking that they were elementals I banished them with the pentagram of earth.

Turning, I saw three red bulls coming leisurely towards me, and from the opposite direction beside the stubble field. Though not exactly afraid I thought they might turn nasty; almost immediately I returned to my body.

February 24

I dreamed that there were several new moons in the sky; this also was overlooking a river.

February 25

I remember hearing a voice from somewhere say “goodnight, Ethel” or goodbye. I forget precisely which, but I know that I felt it was final, and thought perhaps the grandmater is dead. I remarked on it to Bunco (Weiland, her husband ——G.J.Y.) but he didn't take much notice. Sometime afterwards I felt a flash of vivid yellow light, so distinct was it that a storm was brewing I imagined and asked Bunco if he saw the lightning, he said “No.” When this happened I was fully awake; afterwards I slept. It was a curious dream I had. I remember looking out of the window and admiring the jagged stormy looking clouds and the deep indigo sky, then to my astonishment I perceived an immense full moon coming up above the horizon, much after the manner of the targets at a rifle-range, that's strange, I mused, because there is a moon in the sky already, perhaps it's the sun, but it doesnt look like her. Bunco and I both looked at it without much astonishment, rather curiosity, then the dream changed.

I was on the top of a bus going to Victoria, it was very late at night and it was practically the last conveyance, suddenly I found that I was going completely wrong and got down in a great hurry I asked a policeman the right direction and whilst he was goodnaturedly chaffing me at not knowing London better, I suddenly saw an immense golden shooting star; as it fell to the earth it changed to a crystal globe about the size of a large tennisball, while we were exclaiming numbers of stars appeared in the sky many of them were meteors (? —G.J.Y.) but they were all as crystal globes, and they looked strangely beautiful. Some moved in a sort of sinuous chain and I remember likening them to an opal necklace, lit by the fire of the moon. By this time there was collected a small crowd of persons—unlike ourselves they seemed somewhat frightened at the phenomena and were speculating on the probability of one of these falling globes setting fire to their barges! By the way by this time I was by the side of a canal or it may have been the Thames in the reign of Charles II or thereabouts; also there was snow and ice on the ground and in a vague manner I knew that it was the fire of the stars.

Then by the side of the river I saw what at first appeared to be two immense grey cats fighting and playing. I subsequently discovered that they were small panthers and belonged to a lady, one of the owners of the barges. Afterward the dream became more or less incomprehensible.

February 28, 1912

11:20 a.m. Asana in God position. Tried to go on an astral visit to that mountain. No success. Found sentences such as “One is She, the Elohim, the spirit of Life” constantly recurring as a species of mantra. Easily lost bodily sensation, but, just as I felt something pleasant was about to happen became all at once conscious of my breathing, which seemed as that of another person. It was very forceful and regular and ceased as suddenly as it commenced. Then I seemed surrounded by some magnetic influence, also I longed infinitely to fling myself into the arms of some glorious being that I felt was just within reach. I found myself formulating passionate prayers in an ecstasy of adoration to Adonai; repeating them 'till I almost swooned, —and always, just as I was about to rise with my lover some gravitating force compelled me to earth. Now I was conscious of an exhilerating coldness which seemed to bathe me in a sparkling yellow light. On opening my eyes to see if it were caused by the sun, it appeared to be streaming from my own eyes; also I found that my hands had raised themselves from my knees and were about ten inches above them almost on a level with my chest! The strenuous breathing had again commenced, when I couldn't say, but it seemed that at each breath my body grew lighter and imperceptibly my hands and arms were raising themselves, though speaking correctly, I didn't feel them do so.

I identified each breath with the propelling of a [?] and closing my eyes exerted all will power to get out of myself again and rise. Then I knew that my feet were quivering and the heels of my shoes had left the ground. My hands were on a level with my shoulders in the position of the swimming stroke, elbows out.

Again with closed eyes I tried yet harder to forget all, then I knew that my arms had moved backwards in a wide circular sweep to the shoulders, and were coming forward again, just as a man swimming. My feet and legs were vibrating at a terrific rate and quite automatically, I felt that if prolonged sufficiently I should have eventually risen, but thought “this can't be right” so stopped the experiment.


(1) Would anything have occured if I had been properly robed, instead of being in my ordinary clothes (boots, stays, etc.)

(2) Is this supposed to happen? Personally, I should think not. I started with the idea of going on an astral journey, instead of which I find my physical body trying to rise.

After writing this I looked at the clock. It was 2:25! It had seemed scarcely an hour.

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