The Goblin Universe – Ted Holiday
Llewellyn Publications – 1986
The Goblin Universe is a very serious work of non-fiction. It was written in the late 70s, but remained unpublished during the author’s lifetime as he was apparently unsatisfied with it. He supposedly rewrote the entire thing and ended up with a very different final product that seems to have gone unpublished. After Ted Holiday’s death in 1977, his friend Colin Wilson convinced Holiday’s mother to allow him to publish the original Goblin Universe manuscript.
The above information comes from Wilson’s lengthy introduction to this book. I’ve seen several instances of Wilson being listed as the co-author for this one, but while there is definitely a similarity between Holiday’s conclusions and what I’ve read of Wilson’s own ideas, I reckon that the central text here is actually Holiday’s work. Wilson is too critical in his introduction for me to believe that he had much input into the central text. He acknowledges that “The Goblin Universe would never convert a single sceptic; in fact, it would probably make him more certain than ever that ‘the occult’ is a farrago of self-deception and muddled thinking.” This acknowledgement follows a paragraph in which Wilson claims that Holiday’s attempt to show that Gilles De Rais was reincarnated as Edward Paisnel “convinces no one – even the believers.” Wilson poopooing the work that he is introducing will come as no surprise to long time readers of this blog. He was even harsher in his introduction to Roberts and Gilbertson’s insanely paranoid Dark Gods. (I actually first heard of The Goblin Universe in Colin Wilson’s introduction to Dark Gods. His description therein of the Exorcism of Loch Ness that is recounted in Holiday’s book ensured that I would track the latter down. More on Dark Gods later.)
Ted Holiday and Rev. Donald Omand performing an Exorcism of Loch Ness
So what the Hell is the Goblin Universe? I read this book fairly attentively, but I still don’t really know. It pisses me off when writers don’t explain their technical jargon, and Holiday completely fails to clarify the meaning of what is presumably the most important idea in his book. The phrase is exclusively used in very vague, confusing ways. I went through the book after reading it, and tried to note every time that the author uses the phrase “the Goblin Universe.” I have listed these instances here in an attempt to clarify his meaning:
Holiday claims that the ambiguity over the fact that photons can be observed as particles and as waves “is the very essence of the Goblin Universe”
“If we try to probe a little deeper into the mystery of being, we find ourselves in the Goblin Universe along with Alice having tea with mad hares in top hats. It is all great fun, but what does it mean?”
“The Goblin universe is the place in the play where the actor switches one mask for another”
“The Goblin Universe is a hall of distorting mirrors into which we are born with yelling protest.”
“The Hall of mirrors… is simply the external aspect of the Goblin Universe.”
“The Goblin Universe is a hydrogen bomb. Admit the truth about one thing and you will end up facing the truth about a thousand more, and your existing system blows up.”
“The Goblin Universe… will not be ignored.”
“medics [who] deny the Goblin Universe will never comprehend people like Graham Young.”
(Graham Young was a mass murderer who poisoned his family members. Holiday later claims that Young was possessed by a demon from a Nazi concentration camp.)
“To comprehend the Goblin Universe, we need a modified science of physics.”
“One or two of the real masters see everything, and they know how the Goblin Universe really functions.”
If I missed any instances of the phrase, I assure you, they were no more elucidating than the above.
According to Holiday, Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, mermaids, satyrs, the Surrey Puma and all sorts of cryptids are real, but they probably don’t exist in the same way that we do. If they were simple creatures of flesh and blood, we would surely have caught some during the act of sexual intercourse. Holiday suggests that these cryptids are actually semi-physical entities that have been placed here by intelligences far greater than our own. The reason for this placement is unclear; these creatures may be appearing to us to send us a message, but they might also just be appearing to confuse us or shock us into a reaction. The superior intelligences that are sending these appearances to us are probably aliens, or at least what we think of as aliens, the creatures that travel in UFOs. (Years ago they would have been considered fairies.) This can be proven by the fact that many cryptid sightings are preceded by UFO sightings in the same area. Oh, but some of the cryptids, particularly the ones that look like extinct creatures might just be ghosts.
This picture (presumably from another text) is included at the end of Holiday’s book with little context. A vegetable man.
Holiday goes on to claim that natural selection as the driving force of evolution is wrong. We actually evolve according to the desires of a mysterious yet intelligent force. This intelligent force may or may not be the same entity/group of entities that is causing the cryptids to appear. Holiday claims that our scientific method is incapable of describing these forces and must thus be torn down and rebuilt. Holiday accepts the reality of reincarnation, possession, astral projection, precognition and even the possibility of willing a human automaton into existence. Any new scientific method must be open enough to account for these phenomena.
I’ve come across ideas similar to these before, and I want to take a moment to discuss Holiday’s place in this kind of literature. In the introduction to this work, Wilson references the work of John A. Keel, Erich Von Däniken, Pauwels and Bergier, and T.C. Lethbridge, all authors whose work has already appeared on this blog, but in truth, Wilson’s own book, The Occult, was one of the first I read that used this kind of thinking. Holiday personally asked Wilson for comments on his work, so I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that he was writing in the same tradition. Just as Wilson’s work seems to have influenced Holiday’s, Holiday’s ideas seem to have had a major effect on Dark Gods by Anthony Roberts and Geoff Gilbertson. Holiday introduces the idea that a higher intelligence is causing cryptids to appear, and Roberts and Gilberston responded by affirming that this higher intelligence is malevolent.
This sequence is odd. Although The Goblin Universe was written several years before Dark Gods, it was actually published 6 years later. The influence might be explained by the authors’ mutual friendships with Wilson. Perhaps he had given them his copy of Holiday’s manuscript. (They probably would have asked to see it after reading about it in his introduction.) One of Holiday’s earlier books is also referenced in Dark Gods too, so either Roberts or Gilbertson knew of him already. I feel confident in saying that his ideas led on to theirs.
There’s lots of mental parts in this book. The author admits to having heard voices in his head. He claims that ghosts mostly appear in September because certain cosmic rays are shining parallel with Earth’s orbit rather than perpendicular to it. He believes that Uri Gellar is a real deal psychic, and he spends a chapter describing an exorcism at Loch Ness. Oh, and he also includes a ridiculous appendix on spirit photography written by our old friend Dr. Hans Holzer. There’s too much going on for the book to be coherent, even Wilson admits as much, but the general loopiness of the whole thing was entertaining.
I love this stuff.