It’s been almost nineteen years since the veteran Qabalist and occult writer William G. Gray passed away at his Cheltenham home (coincidentally only a mile up the road from the Skylight Press offices). And it’s been forty-six years since he sat down at his old sit-up-and-beg typewriter and banged out the elucidating practical ritual magic script which has now found its way into print as Working with Inner Light, released this week.
During the mid 1960s the Regency spa town of Cheltenham was quite a centre of activity for those with a serious interest in the Western Mysteries. As well as being the home of Bill Gray, it was home to the pioneering occult bookshop Helios Book Service, and Murry Hope’s Atlanteans group also met regularly in the town, while Gareth Knight was living just up the road in Tewkesbury. During this period Bill Gray began to host a regular “at home” session on a Wednesday once a month, attended at various times by Gareth Knight, John Hall, Marian Green, E.A. St. George, Gerard Noel (founder of Pentagram magazine), and Doreen Valiente. During these meetings Bill would read out his typewritten notes on various magic-related topics, such as the use of words of power, magic circles, ritual behaviour and etiquette and the extension of consciousness through meditation on the Qabalah.
It wasn’t until a couple of years later that Bill began to write what are now his best known works, The Ladder of Lights, Magical Ritual Methods and The Rollright Ritual. His notes from his monthly meetings languished untouched in a ring binder until shortly before his death, when he handed it over to Alan Richardson, along with the script of his libellous autobiography, with an instruction to Alan to do what he could with them. The autobiography provided the basis for Alan’s book (with Marcus Claridge) The Old Sod, which tells the fascinating story of Bill’s life and psychic awakening. However the contents of the other ringbinder have remained unpublished until now, finally seeing the light of day thanks to the efforts of Alan’s friend Jo Clark, who painstakingly re-typed the manuscript from Bill’s notes and proof-read it with meticulous care.
Often when a “new” manuscript comes to light many years after an author’s death it turns out to have been unpublished for a good reason. Not so in this case; the work is of exceptional quality, and both Marcia Pickands and Gareth Knight have commented that it’s some of the best work Bill ever did. Written in the form of a journal between 1965 and 1967, it gives a thorough practical instruction in modern Qabalistic magic on both inner and outer planes, in a form which is more easily readable and digestible than his later books. It thus makes an excellent introduction to his work as well as being full of practical tips. The book also includes Bill’s original idiosyncratic biro sketches.
Through the generosity of Alan and Jo, 15% of our sales income from Working with Inner Light will be donated to the charity CLICSargent, which supports children with cancer.