W. B. Yeats is perhaps one of the most literary influential figures in the past century. His poetry and prose earned him a nobel prize and he was one of few Irish men to achieve such prestige. Despite, Yeats literary achievements, there remains an unequivocal deep mystery to him. As very few know W. B. Yeats, played a tremendous role in development of the occult, mystical, and theosophical mysteries. His later poetry is full of mystical reference.
A STORM BEATEN old watch-tower,
A blind hermit rings the hour.
All-destroying sword-blade still
Carried by the wandering fool.
Gold-sewn silk on the sword-blade,
Beauty and fool together laid.
William Butler Yeats, grew up in a seemingly religious battle ground. On the one side you had his grandfather who was a deeply religious and orthodox christian, and on the other was his father an atheist. The two opposing sides in Yeats life always conflicted. On the one side there was the desire and need to believe and the other side was to use logic at all times. Yeats attended the Metropolitan School of Art and it was here that he began his first literary works. It was in school that Yeats took up an interest in William Blake. In the late 1800’s yeats collaborated with Edwin Ellis to create the first complete edition of William Blake’s work.
It was surely William Blake that became the major catalyst for Yeats interest in the mystic and spiritual. It was around the same time that Yeats was working on gathering Blake’s work that he had helped to form the Dublin Hermetic Order. The same year the theosophical society had opened up its own branch. Yeats was quick to join the Theosophical Society and in time met with and philosophized with Madame H. P. Blavatsky. The theosophical society held a great sway over yeats, but over time his interest wane as he grew weary of theorizing.
Yeats and several other initiates gathered to explain their situation and thoughts to Madame Blavatsky and she Acquiesced by creating the Esoteric Section. A group whose goal was to further the development of spiritual studies and develop evidence of its existence. After many failed attempts at spiritual ritual, with no tangible results, Yeats grew frustrated and decided to explore the spiritual world on his own. It was at this time that Yeats met MacGregor Mathers, member of The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. Yeats was quick to join and even his wife became actively involved in the order.
The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn was comprised ritual magic and ceremony. Yeats became a great proponent to the development of the Golden Dawn and brought with him many of the ideas and concepts he learned while in the Theosophical Society. It is here that Yeats began creating some of his most fantastic poetry. In 1921 Yeats finally left the Golden Dawn.