‘Opposition,’ says William Blake, ‘is true friendship’.
So opens the Foreword to Defence of the Devil by Eugene Halliday. Although, he adds, ‘it would be safer to modify this to “Good willed opposition aimed at the disclosure of essential truth is true friendship”’. In this story, the angels endlessly praise God, and prefer to keep their habitual roles. They feel that all in eternity should remain the same. Under their T-shirts, bearing in silver the slogan, ‘We have a common source’, are hidden unique talents which God has given them, but which they have no intention of allowing expression which may be dangerous and disturb their heavenly bliss. But one angel dissents and voices his distaste for their lack of courage. He sees that although in relation to the infinite God all finite creatures may seem equal, in relation to each other there is inequality, because God has given each individual unique character and talents to enrich and glorify the whole creation.
This dissenting angel, Lucifer the Light-Bearer, offers to the other angels a Satanic, diabolic demonstration of the real meaning of God’s creation of the world. He is aware of the danger of becoming a ‘do-gooder’ attempting to cure the ‘good’ angels of the fruitless, eternal, repetitive praising which they do not even understand. In his self-sacrificial fall like lightning from heaven, the Devil-Lucifer, whose divinely appointed duty it is to tempt us to choose our own individual orientation, is saying to the not-so-bright angels, and to all of us, ‘Praising is raising’. Each being is unique in talent, and it is for each of us to demonstrate this uniqueness, ‘and so bring into the world some good new thing, for the great delight of the All of which we are modalities’.
This short, challenging and very Blakean book, was written in a white heat of fury following a family row around the end of the Second World War. While there may be aspects of the book critical of individuals close to the author, its real intent is of universal import, a message to humanity. Wake up, he says, to the true nature and relationship of ‘good’ and ‘evil’, to the purpose of the grinding mills of evolutionary processes and the inner, divine imperative to develop our potential — or die, even in a living death of insipid, pointless mechanical repetition.
Eugene Halliday (1911–1987), artist, writer and psychotherapist, came from a theatrical and musical family with roots in the Moravian church, the same community of which Blake’s parents were members. Both William Blake and Jakob Boehme (‘Behmen’ in Blake’s writings) contributed to his world-view. Originally intending to follow in his father’s footsteps as a musician, a childhood illness changed the course of his life. He attended the Manchester School of Art, training as an illustrator and cartoonist, and going on to work, first, as a journalist and illustrator. Having been introduced by his parents to philosophy and works such as Evelyn Underhill ‘s Mysticism, he launched himself into an intense course of self-study, covering languages, the sacred wisdom texts of world religions, philosophy, psychology and science.
During the war Halliday met and became friends with a number of German Jewish émigrés who came to Manchester, including the artist Käthe Schuftan, the doctor of philosophy Fritz Wiener, and the Jungian psychiatrist Franz Greenbaum. Käthe Schuftan, who, like Halliday, was a lover of Blake and Boehme, had escaped to Britain in June 1939 after suffering terribly under the Nazis. She and Halliday contributed work to art exhibitions and were frequently linked in reviews through their use of symbolism and their disturbing subject matter. Fritz Weiner, despite his qualifications, was first forced to work as a cook on his arrival in Britain, but was able to move on to teach and became the John Buchanan Lecturer in Esperanto at Liverpool University. A fine portrait drawing of him, by Halliday, is in their archives. Franz Max Greenbaum came to the North West rather than staying in London. He worked both in private practice, and for Salford Royal and Cheadle Royal Hospitals, and he lectured on psychology for the Manchester Jungian Group.
In the 1950s Halliday wrote for two magazines edited by the Rev. Alex Holmes who had a healing ministry at the Cavendish Chapel near the Art School. He taught drawing, lectured in philosophy and gave talks for a number of organisations, while beginning to develop his practice in psychotherapy. A gifted speaker, Halliday was a familiar figure in Manchester’s cultural scene from the 1930s–1950s, and a community of friends and students gathered around him. All were intensely involved in Biblical studies, Hebrew, Greek, and both Eastern and Western wisdom traditions including Indian Yoga philosophy; Kabala; the Tarot and the Zodiac as a guide to human psychological types; and the interrelationships between those systems.
In the 1960s he founded two organisations. First, in 1960, the International Hermeneutic Society (I.H.S.) in Liverpool, with Ken Ratcliffe and his wife Barbara. Their work was based on Yoga practice and meditation, and the studies which Halliday had introduced to his students. Halliday’s books, which up until then had circulated in typescript, were first published through the I.H.S. In 1970 Ratcliffe moved the I.H.S. to North Wales, establishing the UK’s first permanent Yoga centre at Tan y Garth Hall near Llangollen.
The second organisation Halliday founded was the Institute for the Study of Hierological Values (ISHVAL), in Cheshire, in 1965. The founding trustees were the philanthropist Fred Freeman and his wife Yvonne, with the actors David Mahlowe and his wife Zero. Here Halliday worked for the rest of his life giving monthly lectures and classes, working with individuals, teaching therapists, and writing. On Halliday’s death in 1987, David Mahlowe, his literary executor, established the Melchisedec Press to publish his writings in hardback.
Both the I.H.S. and ISHVAL, now operating as the Eugene Halliday Association (EHA), continue with active programmes as sister organisations.
Among Halliday’s works are:
Defence of the Devil
The Tacit Conspiracy
Contributions from a Potential Corpse
For details of his books visit www.melchisedecpress.net
For audio lectures and texts, visit www.eugenehalliday.com
For biographical material, visit www.eugenehalliday.net
For the Eugene Halliday Association visit www.ehassociation.org
For the I.H.S. visit www.tanygarthhallretreat.org
For Halliday, Schuftan, Boehme and Blake, visit www.firecrack.org