Occultism in a Global Perspective, 11



Transnational Necromancy

Emily Aoife Somers


pp. 203-4 mugen no

p. 203

"Izumi Kyoka established by re-imagining the other-worldly features of mugen no (no drama that frequently dead with ghosts and the supernatural) into a contemporary esoteric format. ... . ... this practice ... derived from classical no ..., through occultism, ...

p. 204

imparted tremendous influence on one of Japan's foremost authors of fushigi (the mysterious), Izumi Kyoka (1873-1939). ... Kyoka reformulated no into a kind of folkloric occult whose necromantic staging of voices utilized such features as haunted geographies, mediumship ... in terms of the past relating to the present in unexpected ways that run against accepted narratives ... . ... Performed necromancy, in a ritualistic setting of an occultic drama, enacts a kind of ... epistemology for seeing beyond the normative knowledge that history ... propagates. The knowledge of the hidden -- in this case, the discarded social past and its forms of alternative knowledge, creates a ... magick of positions and movements ... . ... Thus, the esoteric ... of ... Kyoka's stagecraft developed a framework that was ... intercultural ... so as to expose hidden and repressed tendencies, in the form of ancestral memory, within the national landscape's landmarks of memory."

pp. 204-5 influences from Yeats on Japanese occultist authors

p. 204

"Previously, Yeats developed ... an interphase through which ancestral voices communicate into the present moment, often through esoteric channels : voices are recovered through se'ances and necromancy, from fairies and ghosts ... . His literary ethnography, The Celtic Twilight (1892, 1902), provides numerous examples of such channelling. Not long after its publication, Akutagawa Ryunosuke (1892-1927) provided translations of several chapters of

p. 205

Yeats's work in Japanese ... . In ... Japanese versions, Yeats's formulation had tremendous influence on other authors such as Yanagita Kunio, Saijo and ... Izumi Kyoka. ... In order to enact such a paranormal mode ..., Yeats and Kyoka reworked elements of classical Japanese no, especially those subgenres that in particular emphasized ghosts".

pp. 205-7 gendai no & kokkuri

p. 205

"Cognizant of the particular pressures of ... modernism ..., this development of occultic neo-no (gendai no) the alternative methodologies of occultism to critique the rapid transformation of the local, regional landscape ... . An anxiety for the possibility of ancestral erasure animates the ancestral presences ... . But, through portals crafted out of twilight spaces, the cultural past emerges still intact, yet spectrally transfigured, as personae of uncanniness who return as revenants, threatening normative understandings of the historical record ... .

p. 206

... Necromancy thus plays an occultic function in its potential willingness to uncover historical knowledge that has been actively suppressed ... . ...

As has been amply documented, Yeats's ... interests ... were in alignment with trends in popular culture of the era : a fascination for the immaterial {e.g., ghostly} legacy of subjectivity {viz., self-identity traced through ancestral ghosts}, and the means {i.e., spirit-mediumship} to access it. ...

As Michael Foster Dylan documents,

kokkuri, a kind of ouija board type contraption, became an evening's entertainment in a manner reminiscent

{any relation to Tailika-pada's guru, maha-siddha Kukkuri? /Kukkura/ signifieth 'hound; man of a mixed caste', while the herb of this name, Blumea lacera, "is used to drive away fleas" ("BLUP") : the tribe Psulloi ('Fleas') "were buried in the sands" (Herodotos 4.173 -- DG&RG"Ps"), for "on a sand-covered surface" ("MM", p. 9) is traced with a plachette the automatic-writing of spirit-possessed Chinese mediumship.}

of parlour rooms in Europe. ... Spirit communication had a decidedly transnational sensibility to it : ... seekers were

{The "transnational sensibility" is that of the "Ophite Diagram" (where "the great circular snake is ... an external boundary of the earth" -- FJMTG @31, p. 96) : for the tribe Psulloi were "famous in Roman times for their immunity to snake-bite" (Plinius NH 7:14; Dio 51:14 -- "HKWM", p. 326), much as in Chinese spirit-mediumship "Tang-kis have been known to practice with live snakes." (RThThR, p. 32)}

p. 207

free to experiment [with] (and [to] appropriate) considered secret intuitions of metaphysics as perceived to be present in other cultures."

"BLUP" = "Blumea Lacera -- Useful Plant". https://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/CropFactSheets/blumea.html

DG&RG"Ps" = Article "Psylli" in William Smith (ed.) : Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854). http://perseus.mpiwg-berlin.mpg.de/cgi-bin///ptext?doc=Perseus:text:1999.04.0064&query=label%3D%2316506

"MM" = Philip Clart : "Moral Mediums : Spirit-Writing and the Cultural Construction of Chinese Spirit-Mediumship". ETHNOLOGIES 25(2003).1:153-89. http://www.erudit.org/revue/ethno/2003/v25/n1/007129ar.html

FJMTG =Attilio Mastrocinque : From Jewish Magic to Gnosticism. Mohr Siebeck, Tu:bingen, 2005. http://books.google.com/books?id=qv6rkmFNDcMC&pg=PA96&lpg=PA96&dq= "HKWM" = Thomas Braun : "Hecataeus' Knowledge of the Western Mediterranean". In :- Brian Benjamin Shefton & Kathryn Lomas (edd.) : Greek Identity in the Western Mediterranean : Papers in Honour of Brian Shefton. Brill, Leiden, 2004. pp. 287-347. http://books.google.com.au/books?id=L-VmL59CfkcC&pg=PA326&lpg=PA326&dq=

RThThR = Margaret Chan : Ritual is Theatre, Theatre is Ritual. SNP Reference, Singapore, 2006.

p. 208 John Dee & Zeami

"Christopher Lehrich ... investigates no drama in relation to the political occultism of John Dee (Lehrich 2007:61-81). ... In Lehrich's presentation, Zeami's no plays function variously as a performative cosmology ...; an esoteric theatre of hieroglyphs; and a kokugaku ["nativist studies"] tool ... . But, through relating to Dee's alchemical procedures, an occultic current flows into Japan nativist prescriptions".

Lehrich 2007 = Christopher Lehrich : The Occult Mind. Ithaca (NY) : Cornell Univ Pr.

pp. 210-11 influence of mugen no on William Butler Yeats

p. 210

"Yeats's ... theatre underwent considerable evolution ... during the period 1913-17 ... . ... In London, Yeats and Pound benefited from the presentations of Kayano Ni-ju-ichi

p. 211

(Kori Torahiko), Gun Torahiko and Kume Tamijuro, who chanted utaibon (no texts) for their edification (1915).

In particular, the dancer Ito Michio had been an advisor to Yeats ... and so provided a catalyzing influence on Yeats ... .

{"Yeats also wrote short plays on the Celtic legendary hero Cuchulain, combined as Four Plays for Dancers. They were strongly influenced by the No drama of the Japanese court, which was being translated in 1913 by Ezra Pound." ("WBY")}

Ito believed in alternative theatrical possibilities in the spirit of comparativism, and so arranged Western and Japanese elements into ... an avant-garde style ... . ... Yeats seemed specifically drawn to mugen no because of its aesthetical associations with ... mysteriousness (yugen) [p. 228, n. 4 : ""mystery and depth" (Brower & Miner 1961:265)"], ghosts and communication with the dead."

"WBY" = "William Butler Yeats". http://www.celtic-twilight.com/ireland/yeats/index.htm

Brower & Miner 1961 = R. Brower & E. Miner : Japanese Court Poetry. Stanford Univ Pr.

p. 213 English & Irish litterary influences on Japanese authors

"Hinatsu Konosuke developed a kind of Japanese Romanticism from Wilde and Poe.

Saijo Yaso found in the Irish folk song a format for developing modern min'yo (folk song lyrics)."

pp. 213-4 stagecraft in Yeats's At the Hawks's Well

p. 213

"The no-derived qualities are most apparent in At the Hawks's Well's stage schematics. The sparse design is intentionally reminiscent of ... hinoki (Chamaecyparis obtusa) wood used for the classical stage. ...

p. 214

The musicians share the stage space, and furthermore act in the role of choral commentary. Yeats has swapped the traditional ensemble of set of nokan (flute), shoulder and hip drums (ko-tsuzumi, o-tsuzumi) for gong, western dru, and zither."

pp. 215 & 219-20 haunted pond or haunted well

p. 215

"The actual, geographical Hawk's Well (Ir : Tubber Tullaghan) sits atop Tullaghan Hill in County Sligo ... . ...

Alternating between bitter and sweet,

[p. 229, n. 7 : "the water in the well rises and falls with the tide".]

{At the Kekropia, "a well of sea-water immediately gushed out" (GM 16.c).}

the water has curative powers, ... with supernatural powers, that serves to vitalize the body. ... In terms of setting, the jutting form of

Hawk's Rock ... protrudes from gnarled hazel ... ." {In the translation of the Hagoro by Fenollosa, the tree, however, is a "wild olive" (HEF).

{"planting the first olive-tree beside the well." (GM 16.c)}

p. 219

"as Andrew Parkin has described : "Yeats wished to celebrate the haunted landscape of Ireland" (Parkin 1978:111)."

"In an essay on Swedenborg that he contributed to Lady Gregory's volume Visions and Beliefs in the West of Ireland, Yeats recounts [Gregory 1920:337] the occasions of Irish folk belief as to the possibilities of intervening in the affairs of ghosts".

p. 220

"written four years before At the Hawks's Well, Izumi Kyoka's Yasha ga ike (Demon Pond) reveals intriguing similarities ... . ... Yasha ga ike concerns a wanderer who approaches a haunted, secluded site : a belfry at twilight ... : "Kotohiki Valley, village of Shimaki in the County of Ono, Echizen Province" (Poulton 2001:119). There, the traveller, Gakuen, swaps old stories with the vigilant bell keeper, Akira. The latter relates a local legend about

the demon pond, a nexus of mystery, which draws in travellers ... . ...

{When travelers "came to the sulphur springs, The treacherous crust gave way" while they were walking upon it, and into those springs they (such as Kura-naituku) "sank and disappeared" (ML, p. 317).}

Thus, the bellkeeper says, concerning the relationship of storytellers to stories, "... I myself have become one of those tales ["monogatari"]" (Poulton 2001:129 ...). Meanwhile, ... a group of nearby goblins give their version of events ... . The final act depicts how ... Akira and the maiden Yuri experience a narrative memtempsychosis : ... Akira and Yuri both experience discarnation of personhood. However, this leads to a transmigration into new ancestral forms, even being born again (umarekawaru)".

HEF = Hagoromo, translated by Ernest Fenollosa. London : MacMillan, 1916. http://noh.manasvi.com/hagoromo.html

Parkin 1978 = Andrew Parkin : The Dramatic Imagination of W. B. Yeats. Dublin : Gill & Macmillan; NY : Barnes & Noble Bks.

Gregory 1920 = Isabella Augusta Gregory : Visions and Beliefs in the West of Ireland. NY : G. P. Putnam's Sons.

ML = James Izett : Maori Lore. Govmt Pr, Wellington, 1904. http://archive.org/stream/maoriloretraditi00izetuoft/maoriloretraditi00izetuoft_djvu.txt

Poulton 2001 = M. Cody Poulton : Spirits of Another Sort. Ann Arbor : Univ of MI Pr.

pp. 217 & 220 changelings & witches : unappeasable

p. 217

"much of Yeats's work on the ancestral involves changelings, such as fairies, who ... are transformed entities of uncanniness ... .

In At the Hawks's Well, the mountain witch is described as an "unappeasable shadow", a species ... whose metaphysical rage cannot be propitiated (Yeats 2001:303)."

p. 220

"Kyoka's oeuvre regularly emphasizes ... species of bakemono, fantastic changelings, which are caught between quasi-empirical states."

Yeats 2001 = David R. Clark & Rosalind E. Clark (edd.) : The Collected Plays of W. B. Yeats. NY : Scribner.

p. 222 derivation from Yoro

"Sekine Masaru and Christopher Murray link At the Hawks's Well to the classical no play Yoro ... . Dorothy Pound produced a typescript based on Fenollosa's notebooks, which Yeats had access to, but the text remained unpublished until printed in an issue of Paideuma (1975). ...

In Yeats's play,

the Hawk-Woman, as animated combination of bird and person,

{Kura-naituku, "a giant woman in the form of a bird, with wings and beak," (MM&L, s.v. "Hatupatu", p. 46b)

has a certain resemblance to the feather mantle of Hagoromo."

was deceived by an escaped hero coveting (MM&L, s.v. "Hatupatu", p. 47a)

In HAW, there are 30 : "Thrice ten angels In two ranks divided,
Thrice five for the waning,
Thrice five for nights of the waxing moon,
One heavenly lady on each night of the moon".

and "taking with him thirty red feather cloaks" (MM&L, s.v. "Hatupatu", p. 47b).

"Hagoromo (Celestial Feather Robe)" http://www.the-noh.com/en/plays/data/program_011.html brief synopsis

HAW = Hagoromo, translated by Arthur Waley. http://noh.manasvi.com/hagoromo.html In :- Arthur Waley : The No Plays of Japan. Alfred A. Knopf, NY, 1922.

MM&L = Margaret Orbell : The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Maori Myth and Legend. Canterbury Univ Pr, Christchurch, 1995.

{The hawk referred to may have a relation to how, in respect to the Indika of Ktesias, "commentators have long credited the Pygmies with the use of falconry" (CON F45g) -- but if so, owing to the small size of the Pugmaioi, theirs must have been the smallest of the falcon varieties, the merlin of the Kaukasos. These same Pugmaioi, Ailianos described as Psulloi (CON F45fg). One of their number, Pugmaion (also called Pugmalion), is famous for the vivifying of his statue of Aphrodite : with Aphrodite's "Entering into this image" (GM 65.a), cf. Kura-naituku's seeking to enter rock -- so that on that rock [MM&L, s.v. "Hatupatu", p. 48a] "are scratches made by Kurangaituku's fingernails." But the instruction (according to the Suite du Merlin) of Niniane (Nimue, "the Irish Niamh" -- "H&H") by Merlin ("He teaches her all" -- "NILE") is more like the teaching of Miss Doolittle by Prof Higgins (in My Fair Lady).}

CON = Andrew Nichols : Ctesias On India. Bristol Classical Pr (an imprint of Bloomsbury Academic), London, 2011. http://books.google.com/books?id=YVwBAQAAQBAJ&pg=PT83&lpg=PT83&dq=

"H&H" = Erin Chandler : "Huntress and the Harlot". http://vault.hanover.edu/~battles/arthur/ladyoflake.htm

"NILE" = "Niniane in the The Last Enchantment". http://www.angelfire.com/nj/niniane/stewart.html

pp. 224-5 masks & spirit-possession

p. 224

"the most important important instrument for occultic communication with the dead are the stylized masks that act in a necromantic way. The twilight conversations between different realms of being and time {viz., archaism vs modernism} are facilitated through his strategy of theatrical masks, which connote the access of alternative persona. ...

p. 225

In modernist mugen, occult language allows ... for vanishing {viz., ghostly} discourse, channelled through the mediumship of ... the mask. ... Yeats's masks were a kind of mono no ke (spirit possession)".

p. 227 the no stage as a S^into shrine

"Uzawa Hise emphasized the phantasmal semiotics that constitute the no stage as a ritualized space. She argues that the architectural framework is intentionally reminiscent of a Shinto shrine. The bridge leading onto the no stage (hashigakari) demarcates a transition into a liminal world ... . The torii-like entryway, which resembles the gate found at the entrance to Shinto shrines, is a portal through which phenomenon and phantasm can cross freely."


Henrik Bogdan & Gordan Djurdjevic (edd.) : Occultism in a Global Perspective. Acumen Publ Ltd, Durham (UK), 2013.