Robert John (R J) Stewart was born in Edinburgh, Scotland. His father came from a Gaelic speaking family originally from the Western Highlands. His mother was Welsh, from a Welsh speaking family from the Gower Peninsula in South Wales, with a tradition of singing and playing the Welsh triple-harp. He is known today as a composer, author, and teacher, with 40 books in publication, translated into many languages worldwide. He is widely experienced in theater, film, and television, and is a skilled performer and presenter.
In 1996 R. J. was admitted to the USA as "resident alien of extraordinary ability", a category awarded only to immigrants of outstanding achievement in the arts or sciences. He now lives in Northern California and in Maryland.
From the late 1960's to the 1980's (as Bob Stewart) he worked with traditional British folk music, medieval music, and his own compositions, playing guitar, cittern, and the unique 70- stringed psaltery. During this period he made several albums of Celtic and original music, and wrote music for theater and media. In 1974 he wrote and recorded theme music for The Hobbit (Decca Records) read by Nicol Williamson.
In theater R J wrote music and songs for several major productions in England, and co-founded a theater company, The Avon Touring Co. During the late 1970's and early 1980's he composed and recorded original music for film and television, including working on major feature films, Joseph Andrews directed by Tony Richardson, and The Dark Crystal, directed by Jim Henson. He also composed and recorded original music for a number of BBC radio dramas, and for documentary feature films for the BBC and for ITV. Through these films his music has been heard all over the world, and various artists have recorded his original instrumental pieces and songs. Between 1975 and 1983 R J worked with several well known Irish musicians, making an album of original music with Finbar Furey, and working with Van Morrison, writing and producing Van's recording of the ancient Irish epic, the Cuchullainn saga. The basis for this production was one of R J's books on Irish mythology, Cuchullainn, published by Firebird book.
Writing and teaching
From 1980 R J gradually reduced his commitment to concert touring, to spend more time as a writer and teacher. Between 1980 and 1996 he wrote a series of books on Celtic mythology, two books on music and consciousness, edited two editions of historical texts from the 16th and 17th centuries, and published many original stories in anthologies, and in his own books. R J's books have been translated into French, German, Dutch, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Japanese, Korean, and Czechoslovakian. A full list of publications, recordings and other works are featured on this site.
R J Stewart's series of books on the Underworld and Faery traditions (which he has restored and presented to the public almost single-handed over the last 20 years) have encouraged many people worldwide to work with these ancestral land-oriented spiritual paths.
From 1980 to 1988 R J worked extensively with the Merlin tradition, writing two original and influential books translating and exploring genuine medieval Merlin texts. These have remained in print for over a decade (now published in one volume as Merlin: the Prophetic Vision and Mystic Life, by Penguin Arkana). He also created the best-selling Merlin Tarot, (Harper Collins) comprising a substantial book and a deck of cards (painted by Miranda Gray) showing visions from ancient Merlin texts, and revealing the true historical origins of tarot. This publication has remained in print and selling from 1986 to the present day, and has been translated into Japanese, French, Italian, and German.
From the 1980s onwards R J also advised on, wrote for, and appeared in, a number of television documentary films on magic, mythology, and history. These include four BBC films directed by Ann Paul, Earth Magic, about contemporary magical and pagan practices in Britain; From Hungary with Love and Standing up for Joe, two films on Conductive Therapy for disabled children; and A Royal Family Album, a historical documentary based upon Royal Family photograph collections from the 19th century. R J also appears (heavily disguised) in Crusades, originally broadcast by the BBC and the History Channel in 1997: he wrote cittern music and lyrics, and performed the role of minstrel, for this documentary series by award winning director Alan Ereira. He was also featured in the popular ITV series Desperately Seeking Something which explored various spiritual paths worldwide.
Teaching, workshops, and performing, to the present day.
From 1988 to the present day R J Stewart has taught workshops and classes in the UK and USA. These include work with Celtic and classical mythological traditions, the Faery and Underworld traditions, music and consciousness, and a unique original ongoing program of transforming awareness and spiritual vision, called Inner Temple Traditions. In 1993 he co-wrote his last Celtic book, Celtic Bards, Celtic Druids, (Published by Cassell, Blandford Press) with harper and storyteller Robin Williamson (founder of The Incredible String Band). Today R J focuses on innovative material, developed out of the foundations of tradition, and continues to write fiction and non-fiction books.
In 2000 R J started performing on more musical events and tours, including a tour in the USA with Finbar Furey, and recording a new CD, Aran, with Finbar, featuring original music for uilleann pipes, psaltery, flute, and other instruments. In 2001 RJ recorded Ballad Magic, a live presentation and concert, exploring and singing ancient magical ballads from British, Irish, and American Appalachian tradition. At present he is working on a new CD of original songs, to be released in the Spring of 2003.
The Miracle Tree
In February 2003 RJ's new book on the Tree of Life will be published by New Page, USA: The Miracle Tree: demystifying Qabalah. Offering a revolutionary and highly practical direct approach to working with the Tree of Life, this book is unlike any other on the subject. RJ approaches Qabalah not through literary lists and attributes, but by intense practical forms, whereby anyone can experience the Tree of Life direct.
Later in 2003 a further new book, Faery Healing will be published by Muse Press, USA. This book on the spiritual insights and methods associated with the ancient faery tradition includes a CD of original music and guided visualization. The book is based on 10 years of workshop teaching and practical experience of the faery and spirit healing arts that emerge from the old faery tradition, into contemporary practice.
2003 will also bring reprints of RJ's classic titles Living Magical Arts and Advanced Magical Arts, with additional new material in both books, to be published by Thoth Publications, UK. These titles have been out of print for several years, and much in demand.