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About Gyrus

Gyrus

Photo by Karolina Urbaniak

Born in 1971, raised in the fens near Boston, Lincolnshire. Studied Film & Drama at the University of Reading. Since then I’ve stumbled merrily along my own path, which has involved DIY publishing and culture, grassroots environmental activism, Earth mysteries, modern magic, and a lot of mint tea. By day (actually, mostly by night) I build websites.

I’ve been researching, writing and publishing stuff related to archaic consciousness, altered states, occult practices and alternative thought since the early 1990s. My writings have appeared in HEAD, The Ley Hunter, Dream Creation, Chaos International, Northern Earth, Fortean Times and Strange Attractor Journal. I’ve been involved in a host of publishing and broadcasting projects, including editing and publishing the acclaimed journals Towards 2012 and Dreamflesh. My first collection of essays, looking at rock art, shamanism, altered states and prehistory, is Archaeologies of Consciousness. My first book, a slim study of debates around primitive war, primatology and ecology is War & the Noble Savage.

What’s with the name?

My given name—still current in some quarters—is Steven Taylor. During 2006 I was actually considering reverting to using it for publishing, for various reasons. Although taking the name Gyrus on in 1996 was partly motivated by not finding resonance for my core passions in my family history, I never wanted to erase my past or give the impression that I thought I was some sort of self-created pretentious type. Or did I?

Anyway, during the time I was considering reverting to my given name, prior to starting to push my writings again, I’d sent a copy of Dreamflesh Journal into a certain magazine to see if they’d review it. When I saw the next issue of this magazine, I quickly skipped to their reviews section to see. No Dreamflesh review; but a glowing appraisal of a fascinating-looking book called The Fall by a certain Steve Taylor. I’ve yet to read the book, but it’s uncannily up my street. Steve lists his main interests as “psychology, spirituality and anthropology”. Uncanny, indeed. Here, then, was my answer about changing my name back: “Sorry, in your chosen field this name is already taken. Keep the Gyrus thing, mate.”

The name started with a fascination with the spiral, its associations with vortices in altered states, and with the concept of origins. I had a hypnagogic vision around that time of a foetus, glowing with electric energy, curled into a “G” shape. So it would begin with a “G”.

In a Terence McKenna essay, I came across a W.B. Yeats quote that used the word “gyre” (which means “one turn in a gyration”). I liked it (even without knowing Yeat’s fascinating, rather esoteric attachment to the concept it represents), but it didn’t quite roll off the tongue. Thinking of the “gy” bit in relation to the feminine “gyn-” prefix (as in androgyny), and the male gods with “-us” on the end (Dionysus, Jesus, Zeus, Prometheus, etc.), I thought it would be a nice nod to cosmic balance to form “Gyrus”. (Damn, I thought I was trying to dispell the idea that the name was pretentious. Ah well.)

Settling on the name was followed by a bunch of initiatory dreams around it, then by the idea of actually looking in a dictionary to see if, by some wild coincidence, I’d happened across an actual word. Indeed I had:

gyrus n. (pl. gyri) a fold or convolution, esp. of the brain.

Basically it’s one of those wiggly ridges on the brain’s surface. Given my long-standing braininess, and interest in consciousness and its intersections with the flesh… I guess I chose well.

It’s pronounced with a soft “G”, and yes, it’s generally what people call me, as well as being a pretentious writing name ;-)

My webby tentacles

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