Thursday, 2 January 2014


In Neil Gaiman's The Sandman series, we are definitely told by no less an authority than Destiny of the Endless that Roderick Burgess founded the Order of Ancient Mysteries at the turn of the twentieth century and yet in Sandman Midnight Theatre (New York, 1995), someone speaking for the Order announces that, seventeen hundred and eleven years previously, the mage Anilin had fled from Constaninople " Albion, where he became the Order's first magus." (p. 41)

Does the Order claim to have records of an unbroken line of maguses from Anilin to Burgess? Gaiman here parodies those who claim ancient credentials for current practices. Someone in a local moot claimed that her family had preserved a Book of Shadows for forty generations but Pagan scholars ridiculed such a claim. We were surprised when a Traveler woman recounted how she had been brought up in a polytheist community but that community had dispersed by the time she was telling us about it.

The OAM is a fictitious organization and Gaiman makes clear that its leaders are dishonest, even compromising and blackmailing wealthy supporters. He invented the Order as background for the imprisonment of Dream in The Sandman comic but, fortunately, was given the opportunity to expand on it further in the Sandman crossover special, Midnight Theatre.

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