by Ethel Archer
with an introduction by Daniel Corrick
The poet Ethel Archer was a long-time associate of the occultist Aleister Crowley and a member of the A∴A∴, his magical order.
The Hieroglyph, her only novel, long out of print and here presented in a new edition with an introduction by literary scholar Daniel Corrick, is a mystical roman à clef of the highest order, revolving around her relationship with the magus Crowley and the various guises he took as poetic mentor, psychonaut, and mystical philosopher.
The story follows the scandal surrounding the ill-fated public ceremonies known as the Rites of Eleusis, through the cataclysm of the Great War and beyond into undreamt of quests for salvation. Archer’s reminiscences abound with descriptions of magical initiations, astral journeys and mescaline visions, as well as providing a speculative glimpse into the psychology of Crowley and the alternative fates which might have awaited him.
The present edition also includes, as supplementary material, the series of unsigned articles, two of which have never before been reprinted, which led to the downfall of the A∴A∴.
About the Author
Ethel Archer (1885-1962), the daughter of a clergyman, was born in Sussex, and expelled from school at the age of fourteen for asking questions in Scripture class. In 1908 she married the aspiring artist Eugene Wieland, and lived with him in West London. The couple made the acquaintance of Aleister Crowley, joined his A∴A∴ magical organization, and set up a publishing company called Wieland and Co., to publish Crowley’s periodical The Equinox, as well as other texts, including Archer’s first poetry collection The Whirlpool (1911). She published two other books, Phantasy and Other Poems (1930) and the occult novel The Hieroglyph (1932). For a number of years she contributed book reviews and other prose pieces to The Occult Review, the September 1921 issue of that magazine being where “The Unfinished Prayer-Mat” first appeared.