Spirituality & Poetry

This week I decided to explore the exhibition titled The Life and Works of William Butler Yeats. After exploring the many displays placed around the various rooms, the section that stood out to me the most was the part of the exhibition that detailed The Hermetic Society of the Golden Dawn and Yeats’ involvement in the group. A secret society formed around the interest in ritual magic is always an intriguing thing to learn someone is a part of. I think that’s why I was so curious about Yeats’ involvement in the society. Being devoted to any practice of magic has strong connotations in modern society that likely held true for Yeats’ as well considering that it was a secret organization. The emphasis on rituals and symbols belonging to the order lends itself to thoughts about spirituality and artistry.

It is evident to me that this part of Yeats’ life would significantly impact the works of poetry that he produces. His creative nature mixing with the spiritual element of the order coincides within his own art. It certainly seemed to be a heavy influence in his life considering he had family in the organization including his uncle and wife. Some of his poems, including “Sailing to Byzantium,” do include this spiritual element in the poem that transcends the realm of the physical world. The mystery that revolves around organizations such as The Hermetic Society of the Golden Dawn tends to intrigue others and provide a basis for exploration. The meetings that Yeats’ would have attended require certain characteristics within the people that choose to explore them. I think the openness and vision that it takes to participate in occult life can also be found in the magic of poetry.

1 Comment

  1. I had no idea that Yeats had and interest in ritual magic. Now knowing this, I can see a lot of examples in his poetry. I wrote my post on the blood sacrifice motif that Yeats explores a lot. Sacrifice is an extremely ritualistic practice that occurs in every society even outside the realm of religion. It would be interesting to explore his use of ritual and the mystical in his poetry from the understanding that he actually practiced ritual magic.

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