Written in 1994 by the late Tim Keene for GardenStone
Translated from the Dutch by Willem Peletier
Ernie was born in a small village, around 25 kilometres from the city of York. He was quite a normal boy, but he was very eager to learn. Fairly often, he had to stay away from the primary school, because every year in the winter he got pneumonia, bronchitis and other similar diseases. Each year, for around six months, he was so ill that he could not go to school. When he became twelve years old, he left this first school and visited another school more to the south, to get a vocational training.
Some years before, when he was nine years old, he saw an article about sacrificing in earlier times and other historical customs. On account of this, he went to a nearby forest and carried out a ritual, for which he used a big stone as an altar. Something happened and heavily frightened he rolled off the hill. At that moment he was very scared, but he had proven himself that behind the visible world something else existed.
He experienced the vocational training as very severe, and there was no time for mystical things. He was clearly very unhappy, because he said that he had the impression that there were two hundred boys in the school whose only aim in life was to make him unhappy.
When he later started working in an ammunition factory, he came into contact with a man who had worked some time as traveling hypnotist. He taught to Ernie the workings of mesmerism and hypnotism, which he said, were not the same. One day this main said to him that in Wimbledon there were teachers who knew much about these things. He called them spiritualists. Ernie went there and was in luck. During this time his psychic capabilities started to develop. But even so, he was still not satisfied.
One Sunday there was in Wimbledon a lecture by a certain Robert King. After this lecture Ernie was beside himself with of excitement. He had to meet with this man. And that happened. At this first meeting King said: "We have met before, haven't we?"
King became his first teacher. Through King he also got into touch with the Theosophical Society, with a special inner circle, which was guided by King. "It is one of the fundamental groups behind many other fraternities and orders", he said. I don't know which groups he specifically meant, but it is likely that these groups formed part of the Liberal Catholic Church. In any case, that way Ernie got an entry in the occult movement.
After this, Ernie went into the army and fought in the First World War. He got wounded, but survived. In a hospital in the north of England he met King again. Some time later he went to India, where he stayed for some years. He got into contact with certain yogis, and learned a lot from them. He told later that it was also in India that he got into contact with the Gods of Wisdom, that is, the Masters of the Path. Later he never spoke about this again.
In the meantime he was already for some time a member of the outer circles of the Theosophical Society, and he requested to be admitted to the inner circle. He did not hear anything about this for a long time. When he was in Muttra, a small city at the border of the Sinn Desert, and where because of malaria, which he had contracted, he was hospitalised, he was visited by a woman who belonged to the Theosophical Society. "Splendid", Ernie thought, "That must have to do with my request for admission into the inner circle". She said: "The outer head (this was Annie Besant), lets you know that the leaders of the inner circle (with that she meant the Inner Chiefs), have decided, that in no way you will be admitted to that esoteric group." And that was it! But she continued: "I have brought this for you. "And she gave him a deep red rose. He thought: "How nice, that may be very nicely meant, but that does not bring me any further. In no way…."
Later, Ernie went back to England and married there. Some time after he read an article by Dion Fortune, which let all his bells ring. And so he wrote her a letter. He also tried to trace King, but could not find him. Dion Fortune invited him to come to Glastonbury, and there he met Dion and, also C.T. Loveday. During the conversation he told them the story of the rejected request for admission to the inner circles of the Theosophical Society. Loveday left them for a moment, and after a while came back with a cross with a rose on it. He asked Ernie, whether he had seen such a thing before. He said that he had, because King had worn such a cross. Dion laughed a moment and told him that he had been rejected by the Theosophical Society because he was not a member of that order. Therefore they had given him the rose of the Rosicrucians; this belonged, like Ernie, to the western tradition, and not, like the Theosophical Society, to the eastern tradition (This was maybe advice to go there).
Because of his contacts with Dion Fortune he joined "The Inner Light", the society of Dion Fortune. After some time she gave him the leadership of the lodge in Guilford. When the Second World War started, this lodge was closed.
The "Inner Light" lost some of its vigour after Dion Fortune’s death. Later some of its members founded a group named "The Helios Book Service." That was the predecessor of the order of "The Servants Of the Light " (S.O.L). This group included Dr. Basil Wilby, better known as Gareth Knight.
They developed a course in magic. Basil wrote the first seven lessons, Ernie the other forty-three! On account of this he said: "My contact with Dion Fortune had meant this, that the old contacts on the spiritual level, which I had a long time ago with King and during my Indian time, have been restored. My real (not-human) teacher, with whom I then was connected, has now again taken up his task."
The course is now the main programme of the S.O.L. Ernie said, that this course has been developed under protection and with advice of his inner teacher.
And with that I end this short summary of the life of Ernie Butler, as I know him. It makes my own life look a little dull. For me, the writings and books of Ernie Butler are something very special, and I have learned a lot from him, in spite of the fact that he has left this incarnation.