Discovering Fuerteventura 600 years ago

Puerto Lajas

When Fuerteventura was Erbanie…

…there were trees and natural springs and rivers in the valleys. It’s hard to imagine today. So I have uploaded an extract from The Canarian, written by monk Pierre Bontier and priest Jean le Verrier, two members who journeyed with Juan Bethencourt on his conquest of the Canary Islands.

Trees full of fruit? Streams? What a rich description of how things used to be! Viva Erbanie …

How to Approach the Esoteric teachings of Alice A. Bailey

It was twenty years ago when I began researching the Alice Bailey teachings for my PhD. I found myself in the School of Social Ecology at Western Sydney University under the supervision of Dr Lesley Kuhn who steered me in the direction of epistemology, a branch of philosophy concerned with the study of knowledge. I had to consider what kind of knowledge is conveyed in the Bailey books? I needed to explore the metaphysical underpinnings. But my main focus was studying esoteric ways of knowing.

I followed in the footsteps of William James’ The Varieties of Religious Experience and Evelyn Underhill’s Mysticism: A Study in the Nature and Development of Spiritual Consciousness. And I went on an experiential journey of my own. I’ll never forget those months of dedication and journalling. As I read and read, I applied the Alice Bailey teachings to myself and my life, noting any insights, reactions, observations as they sprang to mind. I laid myself bare. I wrote 100,000 words of journal material.

Esoteric Ways of Knowing

My engagement with the teachings led me to ponder esotericism as a way of knowing or perceiving ourselves and the world around us. I came across a paper by leading scholar of Western Esotericism Walter Hanegraaff in which he referred to two kinds of gnosis – occultistic and artistic. The former tends to regard esoteric knowledge as concrete truth and the latter adopts a more fluid approach, regarding esoteric knowledge as metaphoric rather than literal. This distinction between two ways of knowing lodged in my mind and I used it as a discriminatory tool in my thesis. 

What Hanegraaff was describing I knew all too well. Esoteric knowledge itself is always contestable and the sceptic can easily dismiss such knowledge as bogus or nonsense or fantasy. The spiritual seeker, on the other hand, meeting such knowledge for the first time, may not only decide that the knowledge represents something real, but that it is of itself absolutely literally true. It’s like auto-indoctrination.

Accessing Esoteric Knowledge

Esoteric ways of knowing rely on esoteric knowledge to access metaphysical reality. Access is gained through both imagination and intuition, both relying on esoteric knowledge to provide the map. 

Alice Bailey provides us with a map. 

It is very easy to mistake the map for the territory. It is very easy to get lost inside or lose your head inside esoteric knowledge. The Bailey teachings are abstruse and authoritative. They present an elaborate metaphysical cosmology in intricate detail, they position humanity, right down to the human unit – you, me, us – as central to the evolution of the entire solar system. It’s exhilarating and awe-inspiring as a whole new reality opens up in the reading. It might be worth using Chögyam Trungpa’s Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism as a companion read to offset the dangers of ego-inflation.

Esotericists talk of veils and hidden truth.

Somewhere on my own journey I realised the teachings, while magnificent in themselves, are, in their entirety, a veil. 

Isobel Blackthorn, PhD, is the author of The Unlikely Occultist: a biographical novel of Alice A. Bailey and the biography Alice A. Bailey: Life & Legacy. Her PhD, polished and rendered much more readable, can be found here She is also the author of Spiritual Changemakers, a documentary memoir of the Twelves meditation group as they advance the work of Alice Bailey’s Triangles.

How the Alice Bailey books were composed

Something I learned from researching Alice Bailey: That all of the teachings Alice Bailey wrote in telepathic rapport with the Tibetan, Djwhal Khul or DK, are fully edited and crafted re-writes of collated material derived from ‘stream of consciousness’ writing in which Alice Bailey was attuned to a higher source. For some, this is a contentious statement, for others it might be a revelation.

It’s also not immediately obvious which books were written by Alice Bailey as herself, and which are narrated in the voice of DK because they sound similar and all have the same plain blue covers.

Also, it is not the case that, for example, A Treatise of Cosmic Fire was written from start to finish in one go as a discrete text, but rather what we find between the covers is an arrangement of material pulled together to form the treatise out of a vast outpouring of esoteric knowledge/wisdom. 

When I first started reading the texts, it was as though DK was speaking directly to me. I really felt that. I felt strongly the spiritual power of the texts. I was indiscriminate, too. I didn’t really know which books were DK and which were Bailey herself. I wonder now if that really matters since the lines between Alice Bailey and DK are blurred. I still feel that pull, that energy that seems to flow out from behind the words and draw me towards them.

I am not writing this to detract from the teachings but rather to praise them and to praise Alice Bailey. (And also her editor Regina Keller) For what she achieved with her output is remarkable. She was so attuned, so aligned with her source, that a sense of spiritual purity comes through each and every word. What a remarkable feat. 

When quoting, however, I always attribute any passage to Alice Bailey as she is the author. 

Why have I written this? Because I think it is useful to take a step back and understand what we are reading. Even to question it. Or perhaps especially to question it rather than regard any sentence or idea as true because DK says so. That’s not an easy thing to do when dealing with metaphysics or any spiritual or religious texts as they tend to be written authoritatively. It is, however, what the Statement from the Tibetan appearing in the front of many volumes invites readers to do.

Isobel Blackthorn, PhD, is the author of The Unlikely Occultist: a biographical novel of Alice A. Bailey and the biography Alice A. Bailey: Life & Legacy. Her PhD, polished and rendered much more readable, can be found here She is also the author of Spiritual Changemakers, a documentary memoir of the Twelves meditation group as they advance the work of Alice Bailey’s Triangles.

‘Murder In Myrtle Bay’ by Isobel Blackthorn

Reviews don’t come any better than this!



When feature writer Ruth Finlay and her elderly neighbor Doris Cleaver visit an antique and collectibles market in the small town of Myrtle Bay, they get a lot more than they bargained for.

After Ruth’s old tennis coach is found dead, they discover that there’s no lack of people who harbor a grudge against the victim, and a tangled web of family ties and lies begins to unravel. But can Ruth and Doris find the killer in time to avert a second murder?

My Review

I have been a fan of Isobel’s work for a while now. I haven’t caught up with every book that she has written, which is something that I hope to rectify soon. I read the synopsis of ‘Murder In Myrtle Bay’, which is the first book in the series featuring Ruth Finlay, and I thought that it sounded just like the cosy mystery sort…

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Blog Tour: Murder in Myrtle Bay – Isobel Blackthorn

What a wonderful review on the Murder in Myrtle Bay book tour!

Bookshine And Readbows

*I received a free copy of this book with thanks to the author and Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources blog tours. The decision to review and my opinions are my own.*

Blurb: When feature writer Ruth Finlay and her elderly neighbor Doris Cleaver visit an antique and collectibles market in the small town of Myrtle Bay, they get a lot more than they bargained for.

After Ruth’s old tennis coach is found dead, they discover that there’s no lack of people who harbor a grudge against the victim, and a tangled web of family ties and lies begins to unravel. But can Ruth and Doris find the killer in time to avert a second murder?

A quirky feel-good mystery laced with intrigue, Murder in Myrtle Bay is the first book in Isobel Blackthorn’s ‘Ruth Finlay Mysteries’ series. Set in small town Australia, it is a sure pick for any fan of…

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New Migrant Overwhelm?

Migration, permanent or temporary, from anywhere to anywhere is never easy. I’ve migrated from Australia, and I’ve lived in Fuerteventura for a full eleven days. What an eleven days!

First up, I’ve come from a cold grey winter to bright warm sunshine, the maximum temperates double if not treble what I’ve been used to. It was 35 in the streets of Puerto del Rosario yesterday, with 80% humidity. And I wilt in the heat. The large shopping mall there has it’s air-conditioning set at the government mandated 27 degrees. Two days after my arrival, I suffered mild heatstroke sorting out my new mobile phone, saved only by the actions of a good friend and large ice cubes wrapped in a hand towel. There’s a sign up now warning people about the heat in the shopping mall and I wonder if my ‘episode’ had anything to do with that – I had to sit on the floor of the store looking very ill while the mobile phone and plan got sorted. How embarrassing! And those things always take ages! (Anyone migrating from a cool climate would be advised to arrive in the winter.) But, I did get my phone and now have a Spanish phone number! What a novelty!

While I slowly acclimatise, I’ve also tackled the essential paperwork for the Padron certificate and then the TIE – foreign identity card. Then there’s the shopping, everything from towels to a fitness mat. All the things that wouldn’t fit inside the two suitcases I came with.

Even though I have lived in the Canary Islands before, it was a long time ago and there is a lot to adjust to. I am embracing all the differences, large and small, and the way things are here. I’ve switched off comparing here to where I’ve come from as there is nothing to compare. Besides, I think I enjoy a permanent romance with this island. Many do. For one thing, the Canary Islands have the best climate on earth, I believe. And of course there are the magnificent beaches. Most come for the beaches…

I came for the mountains, and the history and culture. For the slow pace of life. And so I can walk by buildings with facades like this:-

I’m finding the local majoreros very relaxed and easy going, friendly, and also cautious. Perhaps, a bit curious. Who is this newbie woman? Why is she here? More’s the point, why isn’t she in one of the resort towns on the coast, where almost all the other expatriates are? I’ve come for the solitude, not the sand. And not everyone eyes me with curiosity. When the assistant who dealt with my Padron application last week shook my hand and welcomed me to the town, my heart swelled in my chest.

Something else I enjoy here are all the sculptures. This one is situated at the southern end of the plaza in La Antigua.

Such sculptures are everywhere. I enjoyed some of the sculptures in Puerto del Rosario on my holiday here in 2020.

After eleven days, I feel privileged to be here. It’s been a long hard road though, involving many moments of intense doubt and cold feet, but I am so glad I persevered. Ahead of me is masses to learn, not least the language. Without it, I can’t begin to really understand the culture. I’m looking forward to the challenge. Meanwhile, natural beauty makes a big difference when it comes to adjusting to a new way of life and Fuerteventura has that in spades.

Canary Islands Here I Come!

Photo by JF Olivares

Back in June I wrote a post announcing I had submitted my residency application to live in Spain –

Since then, I’ve been waiting two months to write this post. Two months anxiously waiting for my residency visa, and a month of that in limbo after I moved out of my former home and went visiting family and saying my farewells. It’s been a very emotional time as I’m relocating halfway around the world. The hardest part has been saying goodbye to my beautiful cat of ten years. I well up every time I think of her. But taking her was not an option and I know she now has a lovely new mum and she’s really happy in her new home. Separation from loved ones is always hard and that includes our pets. Many times I thought I would never go through with fulfilling my dream because of her.

Anyone who has dealt with immigration knows how edgy the process can be. There’s so much doubt and uncertainty, and simply not knowing what’s happening and where things are up to. Having sold my home, I came up with a Plan B (and a Plan C, too), options I could implement that I would be reasonably happy with if my visa application was rejected.

When your life depends on the outcome, as is so often the case, the stress of waiting is truly oppressive and psychologically crippling. Thirty years ago, the Australian government issued me with a deportation order over a failed residency application so I do know a little of what that’s like. This time, as the weeks dragged by, I began to think I wouldn’t get the visa – that I had somehow mucked up my application, thought I met the criteria and didn’t. I even began to implement Plan B (the UK option). I had got as far as choosing a location in the UK and even a possible house to buy. I was all set to call the Spanish consulate and ask for my passport back because the whole process felt doomed. Then, just as I was poised, phone in hand to dial the consulate, the phone rang. It was the consulate, informing me of my success! I was so happy, I cried.

Right now the news is still sinking in. I’m about to become a resident of Spain. I hope to make that permanent. I can’t know what the future will hold, but I’ve known for a long time that I need to be where I feel I belong. That said, I know that just around the corner is a bit of a culture shock. Still, I’m resilient. I’ve lived in so many different places and managed to find my way. And I do have a lovely set of friends on the island already. My Spanish has come a long way, too, thanks to Duolingo.

I left Lanzarote in 1990 with a single blue travelling bag and a heart full of sadness. This time, thirty-two years later, I’m arriving in Fuerteventura with just two suitcases and a heart bursting with joy.

Wish me luck! I’ll let you know how I get on…

Six novels set in the Canary Islands

Book Review – The Beached Ones by Colleen M. Story

About The Beached Ones

Daniel and his younger brother grew up in an abusive home. Daniel escaped. Now an established stunt rider, he intends to go back to rescue his brother. But then one jump goes horribly wrong . . .

He recovers to find himself in Iowa, unscathed, yet his life has drastically changed. His best friend won’t answer his calls. Even his girlfriend is hiding something. Increasingly terrified, he clings to the one thing he knows: He must pick up his brother in San Francisco. In five days.

From the isolating fields of Iowa to the crowded streets of San Francisco, Daniel must fight his way through a fog of disjointed memories and supernatural encounters to face the truth and pay a debt he didn’t know he owed.

My Thoughts

The Beached Ones is a remarkable and beautifully written exploration of love and loss, friendship, family, damnation, redemption. Daniel, who has died whilst taking part in a motorbike stunt show, wakes up in a world that is familiar and yet different. He does not know that he is dead, cannot understand why most people ignore him. He is driven by a burning imperative: in a couple of days time, he has to pick up his little brother from a summer camp in San Francisco.

Much of the book is a dreamlike journey towards that end, full of disconnected incident, obstacles, frustrations and yearning. Interspersed are flashbacks of memory, through which the terrible truth of Daniel’s story is not only revealed to the reader but confronted by Daniel himself. In counterpoint to this, there is deepening but troubled relationship with an ex-girlfriend, one of the few people who can see him in his ghostly state. Supernatural components are important but not overdone. There are themes of suicide and the book may be an unwise choice for vulnerable readers, but it is ultimately a brave, redemptive and life-affirming story, both haunting and memorable.

About the Author

Colleen M. Story has worked in the creative writing industry for over 20 years. Her last novel, Loreena’s Gift, was a Foreword Reviews’ INDIES Book of the Year Awards winner. A full-time freelance health writer, she also publishes nonfiction books for writers including Your Writing Matters and Overwhelmed Writer Rescue. As a workshop leader and motivational speaker, she helps attendees remove mental blocks and tap into their unique creative powers. When not writing, she’s playing the French horn, walking, reading, and exploring the beautiful Northwest. To learn more, see her website (, motivational blog (, and mystical blog (, and connect with her on Twitter (@colleen_m_story).

Book Review – The Portable Nine by Pete Mesling

About The Portable Nine

Meet Davenport, also known as the Mad Marksman of Malta. He is a hunter. Not of game or fowl, but of men. What he hunts he finds, and what he finds he exterminates—until his trusty revolver fails him at a crucial moment in Italy, that is, leaving a job unfinished and his resolve shaken. Mistakenly thinking the blow has been struck, a criminal mastermind known as the Black Phantom performs a cruel act of retaliation. The once and would-be assassin has no choice but to reunite with a storied band of skilled mercenaries in an effort to exact revenge.

Davenport. Abel Hazard. Miranda Gissing. Dr. Joseph Intaglio. Mr. Bonnet. Twitch Markham. The Butcher. Lovinia Dulcet. Robin Varnesse. These are the Portable Nine. They operate outside the law, but they are not without a code of ethics. Outcasts all, they are heroes to the underdog and enemies of the ruthless. Intelligent and fearless, they will stop at nothing to see that their brand of justice is meted out.

My Thoughts

I’m glad I read the preface to this novel. One often doesn’t but this is a curious book and the narrative framing of the preface gives it a depth and a context that might otherwise have passed me by. It’s a book, as it seemed by the end, about loyalty and betrayal, and about what morality is. Take nine of the worst, most amoral characters you can imagine, who live by ruthlessly murdering others. Are they friends? Yes and no. Can such people have friends? Yes and no. Is there honour amongst them? Yes and no. Are they any better than the people they murder? Well… Yes and no. It’s a book, in short about ambiguity.

I did not like any of the characters but I certainly remember them. Nothing that they did was particularly endearing – a certain amount of looking out for each other is the best that I saw – but in some curious way I did engage with their project and wanted them to succeed. The gripping writing carried me on, and afterwards I thought a lot about the characters. The book opens a series that could move off in various directions. I hope they go on asking interesting questions, as this book does.

Book Review – Hag of the Hills by J.T.T. Ryder

I’m delighted to be a part of the latest Blackthorn Book Tour review of yet another good book!

About Hag of the Hills

Brennus is destined from birth to become a warrior, despite his farmer’s life. But when the Hillmen kill his family and annihilate his clan, he now has the opportunity to avenge those who he loved.

Brennus must survive endless hordes of invading Hillmen and magic-wielding sidhe, aided by only a band of shifty mercenaries, and an ancient bronze sword.

Failure means his family and clan go unavenged. Victory will bring glory to Brennus and his ancestors.

Hag of the Hills is a historical fantasy novel set in 200 B.C. on the Isle of Skye, steeped in Celtic mythology and culture.

My Thoughts

Hag of the Hills is a rare achievement: a novel that makes real people with living minds out of slivers of historical evidence from a time before written records. The author is an archaeologist, and his knowledge of that hard evidence is clear throughout the book, but he has also dived in imaginatively to fill in the gaps in our knowledge and create a plausible social world. It is a world where people not only lived and died very differently – the two being permanently intertwined – but also thought very differently, interpreted the world very differently.

There are supernatural elements : the story is being recounted by the main character to a bard, and the supernatural components make sense of his story for himself and his listener. At the heart of the story are two promises – a supernatural promise to the main character that he will achieve greatness, albeit at great cost, and a human promise by the main character that he will protect a young druid woman. The working out of these two promises comes with much action, less romance than one might expect, and a great deal of learning. A really satisfying read.

Domingo Díaz Barrios

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