William Butler Yeats & the Leprechauns

Is anybody here familiar with the Irish poet’s life? There are some incidents in his life which are very strange, including Wikipedia’s mention of his involvement with the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, and befriending a spirit at one of the seances that he regularly attended. HOWEVER, the most bizarre story I have read concerns an incident that allegedly occurred on October 14th 1892 which he describes in “Celtic Twilight.” Yeats, his uncle and a cousin went to an area known to be a haven for faeries and leprechauns. Yeats claims that he made a magic circle on the ground and invoked an incantation to conjure up the wee folk. His uncle saw nothing but heard sounds like children playing and music far off. His cousin supposedly saw a bright light and many of the faeries dancing about. But wait, it gets even more bizarre! Yeats himself claims to have had a lengthy conversation with the “Queen of the Faeries” and at the end of it all she wrote in the sand to “be careful & do not seek to know too much about us.”

Well Faith & Begorrah! What in the world was going on that night? Is anybody here familiar with this tale that sounds like a lot of blarney? Any ideas?

I’ve never Googled Yeats hallucinogens before:

Yeats wsa into all sorts of whacky occult stuff. H spent years of his life working on his book A Vision, based on his wife’s automatic writing, and setting out a complex mystical system. A lot of concepts from it, such as “gyres”, wind up in his poetry too.

If you ever want an Experience, visit the Temple of Isis at Clongal Castle in Ireland. Their Archpriestess, the Hon. Olivia Robertson, went to a seance with Yeats when she was a young girl. If you don’t buy it, it’s loopy, but still awesome.

Her take is, of course, that it’s all very real. And if he said he was with the fairies, well…that’s where he was.

Did anyone else see William Butler Yeats & the Leprechauns as a band name?

Was Yeats ever involved with Aleister Crowley and his gang of satanists?

Crowley was an occult newbie when he became involved with the Order of the Golden Dawn; conflict ensued. (I might be back with more details on this very involved story; Avram Davidson’s *Adventures in Unhistory *is one source on hand.) Crowley (who was never exactly a “Satanist”) & Yeats became enemies & remained that way.

The most important thing about Yeats is how he moved through & beyond various phases & remained a great poet until the end of his life…

Or one of the smarter episodes of Bonanza

What’s so bizarre about it?

For more on Yeats and his involvement with the Golden Dawn, I recommend Alex Owen’s The Place of Enchantment as a good starting point.

As Left Hand of Dorkness’s quote makes clear, drugs were sometimes used by 1890’s occultists, to induce visionary states and such. Now, within the Golden Dawn itself, drug use was never part of the order’s official rituals or teachings – indeed, many of the adepts wouldn’t touch the stuff. Some did, though, Yeats amongst them. If I remember correctly, he used at least marijuana and (after 1897) mescaline, too.


Crowley was not a Satanist. Where did you get that idea?

Quoted for hopped-up holy goddamned motherfrakking truth.

I love the guy, but he had a daily subscription to woo and got it delivered by the truckload.

More precisely: During the “Revolt of the Magicians”, the bulk of the London G* D* temple thought there was something fishy about Macgregor Mathers’ latest “contacts” with the Secret Chiefs, and told him to go chase himself. Mathers sent Crowley (who later turned against him as well) to London. Crowley, for some reason, decked himself out in Highland dress and arrived to demand the submission of the Temple. Yeats took one look, and told him to get lost, while the rest of the dissidents were running around in headless-chicken fashion. (It was at this time that Yeats wrote that “My Cabbalists are hopelessly unbusiness like”.)

Crowley tried to get even with Mathers and Yeats by dancing around the libel laws while caricaturing them in his novel MOONCHILD. Then, remember Crowley quarreled with almost everyone who was ever associated with him.

For my money, Yeats was more of a magician than the rest of those clowns put together.

As for the original post: what you seem to be asking is “Was Yeats telling the truth when he wrote THE CELTIC TWILIGHT?” (Not “Celtic Twilight”) Since none of use was there, I do not see what we can usefully say.

Yes, but let us leave Wilde out of this matter.

Thanks for the laughs.

Yeah, that’s a very simplistic way of phrasing it. He certainly was a Left-Handed Path Magician & could fairly be accused of Demonology.

Oh, good grief. :slight_smile:

You might like to take a look at this book http://www.amazon.co.uk/Yeats-Secret-Masters-World-ebook/dp/B00APLNSMG

Since this thread has risen from its slumber in the past, I’ll add a little note. I’ve got Celtic Twilight on this little netbook; I installed the Kindle software several times before I actually broke down & bought one.

The word “leprechaun” only appears once:

The book consists of peasant tales and the poet’s interpretation of them, including speculations on their roots. We don’t read of his personal efforts to raise them. Maybe in another book? Yeats was certainly known to deal with ghosts–like the one who haunts Leap Castle. (Although Oliver St John Gogarty’s account is the more memorable.) And may have attempted to raise all sorts of things in his Golden Dawn days.

But Yeats & leprechauns? Not really…

Oh, they knew each other, all right, but it was Crowley who was for a time involved in Yeats’ “gang,” the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn – that is, Yeats was in it first, and stayed in it, and Crowley eventually struck out on his own and founded his own order (two of them, actually).

From Avram Davidson’s essay on Crowley, “The Great Rough Beast” (originally published in Weird Tales 1988/89) (collected in Adventures in Unhistory: Conjectures on the Factual Foundations of Several Ancient Legends):

Nitpick: Crowley did not found the O.T.O.

The O.T.O. was almost certainly founded by Theodor Reuss, no later than 1906, or, less likely, by Carl Kellner, sometime between 1895 and 1906.

Crowley only got involved a few years later, ca. 1910-1912. When Reuss died, Crowley took over. Chosen successor or dastardly usurper? Well, the debate continues. Without providing any evidence whatsoever, Crowley himself claimed that Reuss had appointed him (Crowley) the new head honcho before dying – and Crowley’s followers, to this day, trust him on this. Others say hell no, Crowley was an impostor, fuck that douche.