Having a re-read of Weaveworld

7 min readNov 24, 2020

I read this book when it first came out, many moons ago.

I thought it was a great read back then and i’m now enjoying it all over again; It’s still most engaging.

It starts with an omen from ‘the birds’, as any portentous endeavour should. The movement and congregation of birds is an early indication that something special is around the corner, at least for those with ‘eyes to see’. Such gatherings seem to act like a language written into the very fabric of reality; A language, however, far removed from the kinds we are used to.

There are lunar themes aplenty here. The main protagonist goes by the name of Calhoun Mooney and is faced by a three-fold antagonist; A creature somewhat akin to the neopagan triple goddess, made up of the maiden, the mother and the crone. This is also a lunar diety. The three figures not only symbolise the separate stages in the female life cycle, they also symbolise phases of the moon; Either the Waxing, full and waning moon, or the crescent, full and dark moon.

This is mirrored mythologically in the three ‘Moirai’ or fates in the Greek ‘Orphic’ tradition, which are also said to represent the three divisions of the moon.

The fates are deities of destiny. They are also depicted as weavers and spinners; These three ‘forces’ spin, weave, and twine the thread of life.

They are traditionally portrayed as a young girl who spins the thread of life, an older woman who measures it and an elderly woman who cuts the thread. They symbolise birth, active life, and death.

In Norse mythology they are called the ‘norns’; And they weave the web of Wyrd (fate), ruling the destinies of gods and men.

This is a story of two worlds: The kingdom of the cuckoos, which is the name given to our everyday world and ‘the fugue’, which is the ‘weaveworld’; that subtle world of ‘other’, encoded in the magic carpet.

‘Fugue’ appears quite an apt name though, as the main character seems to be the embodiment of what is termed psychologically, ‘the fugue state’. This is characterised by a ‘wandering away, disappearance and forgetting’.

There are real barriers between such worlds and the barrier of perception may well be the trickiest to overcome. As with the familiar boundary between the world of sleep and the world of wakefullness; What might have appeared vivid, profound and powerful in a dream can soon fade like the morning mist, leaving nothing but a vague memory.

It is interesting that the event that restores Mooney’s memory of the fugue is his finding and eating fruit belonging to that other world. Eating food seems to be one of the strongest pacts one can make with a world. To actually consume and assimilate a part of it. This act seems to be like dropping an anchor, it states ones intention to be bound to that world.

The ‘menstruum’ holds a central role. It appears to behave like a mobile, intelligent power from some other, more fundamental world.

The author spells out, in the early part of the book, that it is really the ‘blood of the subtle body’

The name of course relates directly to the moon, via ‘menses-monthly’ and also refers to the alchemical term for a solvent.

And we read later, when Susanna enters ‘the gyre’:

her blood sped then soared; her mind soared and plummeted by turns. But that was only flesh. Her other anatomy — the subtle body which the menstruum had quickened — was beyond the control of the forces here; or else was already in such accord with them it was left to its own work. She occupied it now — telling it to keep her feet from rooting and her head from sprouting wings and flying off.

This seems to parallel the occult notion that we inhabit two bodies here on ‘earth’: The physical and the etheric body.

The landscape of the gyre feels familiar; a transitional place or way-point like the fabled clearing in the forest with the myriad shallow pools, each a portal to another world.

the landscape of the gyre was lit with an amber phosphorescence that rose from the very earth beneath her feet. The reversal upset her equilibrium completely. It was almost as if the world was turned over, and she was treading on the sky. And the true heavens?; they were another wonder. The clouds pressed low, their innards in perpetual turmoil, as if at the least provocation they’d rain lightening on her defenceless head.

This also reminds me of the ‘world behind the wall of fog’ that Castaneda describes:

I felt a command to examine the environment. As I looked, I clearly remembered having seen it before. We were surrounded by small round mounds that looked exactly like sand dunes. They were all around us in every direction as far as we could see. They seemed to be made of something that looked like pale yellow sandstone, or rough granules of sulphur. The sky was the same color, and was very low and oppressive. There were banks of yellowish fog or some sort of yellow vapor that hung from certain spots in the sky.

I noticed then that la Gorda and I seemed to be breathing normally. I could not feel my chest with my hands, but I was able to feel it expanding as I inhaled. The yellow vapors were obviously not harmful to us.

We began to move in unison; slowly; cautiously; almost as if we were walking. After a short distance I got very fatigued and so did la Gorda. We were gliding just over the ground, and apparently moving that way was very tiring to our second attention; it required an inordinate degree of concentration. We were not deliberately mimicking our ordinary walk, but the effect was much the same as if we had been. To move required outbursts of energy, something like tiny explosions, with pauses in between. We had no objective in our movement except moving itself, so finally we had to stop.

The first thing I told her upon awakening, was that I had been in that barren landscape several times before. I had seen at least two aspects of it; one perfectly flat; the other covered with small mounds like sand dunes.

She patiently described everything we had seen, said, and done. She added that she too had been in that deserted place before, and that she knew for a fact that it was a no-man’s land; the space between the world we know and the other world.

“It is the area between the parallel lines,” she went on. “We can go to it in dreaming. But in order to leave this world and reach the other, the one beyond the parallel lines, we have to go through that area with our whole bodies.”

— Castaneda , The Eagles Gift

Like in the world of faerie tales and the ‘subterranean’ land inside the fairy-hill; It is lit, neither by sun or by moon.

Indeed, it is the very fabric of the world that gives off its own uniform dull, phosphorescent amber glow.

And back to the ‘fugue’ and forgetfullness, which is really a losing of oneself and ones purpose; a kind of madness. We see this in Immacolata who succumbs to the forgetful madness of grief and with the angel of the waste, who falls into the forgetful madness of loneliness.

The angel appears more golem than celestial host though; A sleeping sentinel. Left and forgotten. An automaton of great power tasked with a simple command, which it will carry out irresistibly and without mercy; It’s judgement carried out with fire and flame.

Like all pure things, it was vain and easily spoiled.

There is an interesting comparison between the ‘gyre’; The churning ‘loom-centre’ , which is the creative well spring of the fugue, and the garden guarded by the angel, which, as the fertile progenitor of our world, performed a similar role.

The ‘terrible angel’ imagines the ‘seer-kind’, like the gnostic archons, as ‘things that should not be’. Accidental splashes from the creative process. Beings ‘not according to law’; They are ‘as old as the hills’ and had the guile to escape the creative process before any attempt was made to gather them back in.

The story is both faerie tale and cautionary tale.

Aesop’s admonition to ‘be careful what you wish for, lest it come true!’ hit the mark millennia ago and still illuminates the way.

‘Shadwell’, as the merchant mind personified, believed that everything has a price. He starts the story as a seller, but then turns possessive. He fell in love with the fugue and it’s magic, but his desire was to own it; The dream slipped through his hands and he felt spurned. Love so easily turns to hate and at the last, all his heart desired was to take revenge on this ‘corruption’.

‘Hobart’ was the zealot. He longed for the purity and ‘cleansing’ power of fire and became both the knight and the dragon of faerie tale. His was a sacrificial role and in the end he was redeemed by fire.

It turned out that he had not lost ‘everything’. He could offer himself.




Head in the clouds, but really quite practical. Fine art trained, but frequently seduced by the promise of science. https://instagram.com/goat777etc