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Return of the Tetrad, Christopher McIntosh, ISBN 978-1-906958-18-3, Mandrake of Oxford (PO Box 250, Oxford OX1 1AP, UK. mandrake.uk.net), 246pp. £9.99, $15 ------------------------Review by Tobias Churton
From New Dawn website, $5.95 : http://www.newdawnmagazine.com/latest-issue/new-dawn-140-septemberoctober-2013
Good men often wear their hearts on their sleeves; good writers may wear their hearts on the page: “Today we are erring on the rational side. The world we live in is becoming more and more mechanical, and the spirit of man is shriveling up as it is cut off from the springs of nature and the old values of truth and beauty.” (p.52)
“The thing that is common to all these theories is the belief that fragments of the great wisdom possessed by the vanished race passed into a secret tradition which has been handed down to the present day.” (p.95) “There is a fashion today for what one might call the ‘reductionist’ philosophy. Matter is ‘nothing but’ a collection of atoms moving according to certain fundamental laws; life is ‘nothing but’ a complex chemical process; love is ‘nothing but’ an illusion based on conditioning and physical need.” (p.226) These three philosophical reflections constitute the anti-reductionist message of Christopher McIntosh’s very enjoyable tale, Return of the Tetrad. It will be observed that all three statements not only encompass 40 years of the author’s published output but also summarize the chief findings of the spiritual revolution of the late 1960s and early 1970s, in which period this story, thankfully, takes place. I say ‘thankfully’ because Return of the Tetrad is a wonderfully old-fashioned story, told in a very clear and modest way with old-fashioned scholarly values and peppered with wise, self-deprecating and unobtrusive asides that reflect wide knowledge, spiritual sensitivity and independent intellect. It is not too distant from Dennis Wheatley’s more famous, but less sensitive, black-magic novels that were so popular during the period concerned; Return of the Tetrad would make an excellent ‘Hammer’-style movie or short, very popular TV drama series. Many viewers, as well as readers, are waiting for a good story with both magic and ‘something to think about’ like this: hard to find these days. McIntosh’s story is told through the eyes of Paul Cairns, its chief character and something of a revealing self-portrait. Cairns opens his mind to us with recurring dreams of a ‘wild man’ that have begun to disturb his life as a staff writer on a broadbriefed up-market magazine; the psychological implications are handled deftly. It is somewhat amusing to see the distance in culture between Cairns’s time and our own. Finding a wild man image similar to his nightmares in the world of heraldry, Cairns drops in on London’s College of Arms for an interview with an authority, like James Bond in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Nowadays, most of this initial search would barely occupy an hour on the internet, but it all serves well to lead Cairns to McIntosh’s entertaining and somewhat Gerald Yorke-influenced character, Gilbert North, a deus both ex and in machina. The Crowley touch is unmistakable. Without revealing too much of the fast-moving and meta-morphing plot, we may note that the ‘tetrad’ refers to four principal magical instruments which, when assembled, constitute a new force for civilization. The idea of the ‘Four’ is central to the book’s gentle symbolism. The author and his chief character are in search of a base, a solid new beginning of a spiritual and magical character that can reconcile, in creative embrace, religion and science. We are in the territory of Jung’s ‘quaternity’ of intuition, feeling, reason and sensation, and of Blake’s “Fourfold Vision”, as well as Crowley’s Book Four. The enemy then is “Single Vision and Newton’s Sleep”, personified in the novel by a range of apparently irredeemably evil characters and one arch-demonic foe. But the novel has a poignant, subtle twist in its tail that first appears to turn the entire story and philosophical thrust of the novel on its head. How it resolves – and it does resolve very satisfyingly – I shall leave to the pleasure of the reader. A book with such kindly, eirenic and, if you won’t mind me saying so, gentlemanly intentions, deserves a wide audience: a relief from the mire of much modern fiction that so often seem to takes us into psychological darkness without moral or spiritual compass. My only criticism is that there are occasions when the author seems unaware of what a really good plot he has got going and fails to extract all the dramatic tension that he has built up. There is a scene where the hero has to return a
very special, but outwardly suspicious, object to his country by carrying it through customs. This scene had great potential for massive, toe-curling suspense, but McIntosh is a little too eager to keep the story flowing. I can only hope that this minor flaw may be rectified when Return of the Tetrad comes to big or small screen. Tobias Churton -------------------------------------Review by Leigh J McCloskey: I enjoyed reading Return of the Tetrad immensely. The books romantic sense of detail and richness nicely sets the scene for examining belief in magical realms and the question of the truth of occult powers. The author utilizes the drapery and story of the eternal fight between forces of good and evil, light and dark, one secret society against another. All of this is quite an adventure but it really becomes the framework for exploring the implications of a much deeper truth and question which has to do with the nature and purpose of belief itself. This is the books real value I believe as it gives a modern audience the opportunity to ask the questions of what is true or real and how does our thinking shape our experience and interpretation of events. The key and fascinating undertow of this novel can be described as purposeful play, known in tradition as the ludibrium. The journey thatReturn of the Tetrad shares with us is a dynamic realization of how significant the deceptive nature of the need to believe really is and yet how essential it is in ones development. I had the great pleasure of attending a lecture given by Christopher McIntosh on the implications of purposeful play, the ludibrium, as the basis of the early Rosicrucian movement. The revelation he expressed in that talk regarding the ludibrium has grown through his artistry as a writer and scholar into a remarkable novel full of important ideas and liberating insights all told in a way that makes one want to turn the next page and the next. Bravo, Christopher McIntosh on creating a gem of a book and the mystical adventure known as, Return of the Tetrad. ** I am forever honored that Christopher has utilized my Tarot drawing of the Magus to grace the cover of his book, Return of the Tetrad, Review by Herbie Brennan (Ireland) – This review is from: The Return Of The Tetrad (Kindle Edition) Christopher McIntosh’s `Return of the Tetrad` is that rarest of commodities, an intelligent, vivid, well-written and, above all, authentic occult thriller that grips like a man-trap and provides an ending at once surprising and ultimately satisfying. The McIntosh style is reminiscent of Colin Wilson’s early novels, presenting thought-provoking ideas and deep-rooted esoteric concepts in an easily-digestible form that never becomes either difficult or patronising. This is occult fiction as it should be, but seldom is. McIntosh, himself an academic expert in the esoteric, has mastered the art of suspending reader disbelief until the time comes for revelations that are as convincing as they are unexpected. According to the author,the first draft of the work was completed 40 years ago and has undergone various rewrites and revisions ever since. The end result is worth the wait. I read this book with enormous enjoyment and no little admiration. Highly recommended.
The Return Of The Tetrad Christopher McIntosh978-1-906958-18-3 £9.99/$15 Paul Cairns, the narrator of this story, is a young journalist with a penchant for the occult. Prompted by a mysterious recurring nightmare, he seeks the advice of Gilbert North, scholar, country squire and occultist, who leads him on an extraordinary series of adventures involving a quest for the Tetrad, four primal magical objects corresponding to the elements and the suits of the Tarot. Cairns' life becomes full of weird and supernatural happenings in a great magical battle between dark and light. But in the world of Gilbert North things are not quite what they seem. Layers of reality and unreality are peeled away until the deeper meaning of the whole quest is revealed. Christopher McIntosh describes himself as a romantic who has been in search of the "strange and bizarre things of life" since his childhood. To survive in the world of mammon, he became successively a publisher, a journalist, a United Nations official and a university lecturer, while continuing to pursue his quest by writing books. As well as fiction, his works include biographies of Eliphas Lévi and King Ludwig II of Bavaria, two books on the Rosicrucians and a study of sacred and symbolic gardens. Having travelled widely, he is now settled in Bremen, north Germany. Online catalogue: http://www.scribd.com/doc/17679813/Mandrake-Catalogue-13 for sales and reviews use this email no problem mogg Mandrake.uk.net Publishers PO Box 250, Oxford, OX1 1AP +44 1865 243671 homepages: http://www.mandrake.uk.net http://www.ombos.co.uk
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