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Importance of towers

Towers are important: we see here towers constructed respectively by Robinson Jeffers, poet; Michael Montaigne, essayist; CG Jung, psychoanalyst; and, finally, the ruin of St. Michael’s church, Glastonbury. Jeffers and Jung built their towers with their own hands—Montaigne supervised his tower’s renovation. These towers are really “Merlin’s esplumoir”: Merlin liked to turn into a bird and, indeed, the Jeffers tower is called “Hawk Tower”—the esplumoir was where Merlin undertook his transformation, “a warm and dark place” to change form; to shed his feathers. Nobody has noticed the pun—the plume, “the pen” in French (the “la plume de ma tante” of schoolbook exercises); the tower is the place where you go to write with your feather, your quill.

Hence to “construct your tower” is also integrated into a process whereby magic is written into the world—and, indeed, the French writer Renaud Camus also has a tower, wherein he commits owly magic (he resembles an owl). Merlin liked to transform into a hawk—or a Peregrine Falcon—but he also transformed into an alchemical phoenix in his tower; and then he could make a prophesy. His esplumoir was said to be near Perceval’s home and the Grail itself—and it was inhabited by 12 maidens, counterparts to the 12 knights of the Roundtable. Merlin’s tower may be related to the Hotie de Vivienne in Brittany—a Druidic site said to be inhabited by the fairy Vivian (she and her consorts being the 12 ladies of the tower). The tower is a place to go to see the future.

At the 2012 Olympic opening ceremony in London, Glastonbury Tor appeared (Jeffers called his house “Tor House”, incidentally) but the church tower was replaced by a tree—a deliberate choice, to expunge the Christian legacy and to obscure the Grail (with which Glastonbury is intimately connected).

If you want to be a prophet you have to build a tower with your own hands, fill it with fairies—and shed your feathers in it.


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