William Butler Yeats


W.B. Yeats, the famous Irish poet and playwright, developed an early interest in esoteric studies and mysticism both of the Western (Celtic) and Eastern traditions. Hearing about the Theosophical Society and its modern, syncretic blend of occultism and Eastern philosophy, he researched it and soon found himself meeting the great Helena Blavatsky. Evidently impressed with her presence and knowledge, he joined the society at its London branch. Desirious of delving deeper into mysteries of existence that the outer Society only touched upon, he soon became involved in its special Esoteric Section, which experimented with the practical mysticism that is magic. Not satisfied by this group's limited penetration into the depths, he soon found his way to the Order of the Golden Dawn.

Yeats found in the Golden Dawn a serious and well-structuted magical order that did not dilly-dally with esoteric subjects but actively pursued the gnosis through a variety of means, mostly of the European and Middle Eastern (gnostic Christian) tradition. Yeats' impressions of Mathers, the head of the Order, further confirmed him in his decision to become an Initiate.

Eventually Yeats' restless spirit led him on to further peregrinations and he evolved past the G.D. framework to a more individualistic form of working, largely through his literary endeavors which brought him worldwide acclaim. Late in life he would spiral back around to a higher level of esoteric creation with his mystical tome, A Vision. It seems clear that his short period in the Golden Dawn prepared him for his later researches and explorations.