The Return of the Bear: The Tudors and Magic


As part of my wider research, I have been looking for the legacy of magic in the English Tudor family. It is clear that Elizabeth was well versed in magic, but, drawing from the historian William Thomas Walsh, I strongly believe occult pre-Masonic forces in England were at least partially behind instigating the Reformation.

Well, reading David Starkey’s Six Wives: The Queens of Henry VIII, I came across an interesting passage. When Catherine of Aragon was brought to England to marry Arthur Tudor, the first son of Henry VII, Catherine was greeted with a pageant that involved the star Arcturus as well as Ursa Major, two celestial entities curiously linked with the mythological figure after whom Arthur Tudor was named.

Moreover, Starkey, in this scene, notes Henry VII’s fondness for astrology.

The return of Arthur or the Great King was a common mythological trope present in Indo-European culture from Virgil’s “Fourth Eclogue” to J.R.R. Tolkien’s Return of the King. 

Also, the movement of the constellation Ursa Major plays a major role in the work The Expulsion of the Triumphant Beast by occultist Giordano Bruno who would later visit England in the Elizabethan period.

Clearly, Henry envisioned (perhaps ironically) his son Arthur as the return of the king that would bring about a restored Golden Age under the constellation Ursa Major.

But is there a deeper occult significance behind this?

How deeply was Henry VII into astrology?

Certainly, figures in the Elizabethan period, like the magus John Dee and poets who were very likely at least at one point “dabblers” like Walter Raleigh, Edmund Spenser, Sir Philip Sidney, and even Shakespeare himself, do not simply show up out of no where. They clearly were part of a tradition of some kind that existed in the shadows.

Two final questions: Why was a trip to England so important for wizards like Giordano Bruno and Cornelius Agrippa?

Was there a connection with the Kabbalah and the Jewish community that fled to England after 1492?