The Influence of H. P. Lovecraft on OccultismKerry Bolton
Lovecraft’s horror stories have become not just a literary cult like many others, but a tangible cult of the occult. The Cthulhu Mythos of the Old Gods with Unspeakable names are evoked and worshiped, and respected practitioners of the esoteric use the symbolism and mythos as the basis of a magical system. This essay examines some of the individuals, orders and doctrines of the adherents of the Cthulhu Mythos.
Rationalizing the Irrational
The adoption and adaptation of a theme from Lovecraft’s horror stories, that of the Cthulhu Mythos, is no less plausible than any other occult system or doctrine of magic. Magic is based on the irrational, on the intuitive, the unseen – literally that which is ‘occult’ or hidden, being summoned forth for individual or communal purposes by circumventing the causal relationships of the material universe.
Rituals, charms, spells, and incantations are used to produce the willed result, based around two principles, according to Frazer: ‘first, that like produces like, or that an effect resembles its cause; and second, that things which have once been in contact with each other continue to act on each other at a distance after the physical contact has been severed’. Frazer calls these principles, the ‘Law of Similarity’ and the ‘Law of Contact or Contagion’ respectively.(1)
Hence ritual magic is based on the ‘Law of Similarity’ and is generally a complex operation of aligning every word and element used in the ritual, using a system of correspondences,(2) which would in Western magic for example typically include the so-called ‘Elemental Weapons’, Wand, Cup, Dagger and Pentacle,(3) representing the elements of Fire, Water, Air, and Earth respectively; along with corresponding colors, incense, astrological times, etc. The creation of charms might use the ‘Law of Contact’.
One of the primary ceremonial magicians of the ‘magical revival’ that started in 19th Century England was Aleister Crowley, whose doctrines and practices are now often synthesized with the Cthulhu Mythos.
However, while the practice of occultism might employ a complex formulae of ceremony, or simply comprise the use of hallucinogenics to achieve altered states of consciousness, in the words of Nevill Drury, Australian occult practitioner and author, ‘I have found in my study of esoteric traditions that beneath the outer veneer of complexity – occult symbols, elusive meanings, passwords and “keys”, and other protective devices – there is a comparatively simple core essence’.(4)
Another form of magic that has become widespread over the last few decades is ‘Chaos Magick’ which is also heavily influenced by British ceremonial magician Crowley, with an added primary influence being another English occultist of the same era, the artist Austin Osman Spare.(5) Spare disposed of the complex rituals and based his work on sigil(6) meditations. In occultism this is a method called ‘path-working’ by which the practitioner chooses a symbol and meditates upon it, often as the sign on a doorway that is entered. The result is supposed to be what could be described as image association. Analytical psychology has a similar technique called ‘active imagination’ whereby a dream image is chosen for the purpose. Jung describing this method wrote, ‘start with any image, for instance, just with that yellow mass in your dream. Contemplate it and carefully observe how the picture begins to unfold or to change. Don’t try to make it into something, just do nothing but observe what its spontaneous changes are.’(7)
Both shaman and ceremonial occult practitioner, and one might add the LSD experimenters of the Leary generation, seek altered states of consciousness through acts of will. Additionally there is the interpretation of dreams which has a lineage far older than modern psychiatric analysis, the dream world being as important to the ancients as the waking world, just as it is recognized today by psychology. One might recall the particularly famous examples of dream interpretations or ‘visions’ by Daniel,(8) or that of John described in The Revelation, both examples being replete with esoteric symbolism.
The purpose of this brief diversion into basic occult theory is to explain that since any symbol could be used that has sufficient impact on the imagination, or the unconscious of the meditator it can be readily seen how the Cthulhu Mythos has sufficient influence upon the psyche to be of use as a complete occult system, despite its origins in 20th century short stories. The words, imagery and symbols portrayed by Lovecraft are sufficiently arcane to excite the imagination, no less than a medieval grimoire, or the Enochian ‘Calls’, alphabet and language devised by Dr. John Dee, Queen Elizabeth I’s Court scholar, around which has arisen a major occult school of Enochian magic since the occult revival of the late 19th Century.(9)
Against this fantastical background, we understand how occultists such as Frater Tenebrous, an adherent of the Cthulhu Mythos, explains that Lovecraft was, unwittingly, one of those fantasy writers who could convey genuine occult knowledge via dream.(10)
On that basis the Esoteric Order of Dagon, one of the primary organizations based on Cthulhu, has offered a particularly cogent explanation as to the legitimacy of Lovecraft’s mythos and indeed of Lovecraft himself as a seer, despite his own repudiation of the metaphysical:
Lovecraft’s fiction, first published in the American pulp magazines such as Weird Tales, presents an internally consistent cosmology, constructed through the literary realizations of the author’s dreams and intuitive impulses. This cosmology came to be known as the ‘Cthulhu Mythos’, after its central deity. These stories and novels contain hidden meanings and magickal formulae unknown even to their creator.
Lovecraft suffered from an acute inferiority complex, which prevented him from personally crossing the Abyss in his lifetime. He remained a withdrawn and lonely writer who retained a rational, skeptical view of the universe, despite the glimpses of places and entities beyond the world of mundane reality, which his dream experiences allowed him. He never learned the true origin of the tremendous vistas of cosmic strangeness that haunted his dreams. He never realized that he was himself the High Priest ‘Ech-Pi-El’, the Prophet of the dawning Aeon of Cthulhu.(11)
Frater Tenebrous similarly explains the relevance of Lovecraft’s stories for the serious occultist:
In the 1920’s, an American magazine of fantasy and horror fiction called Weird Tales began to publish stories by a then unknown author named H. P. Lovecraft. As his contributions to the magazine grew more regular, the stories began to form an internally consistent and self-referential mythology, created from the literary realisation of the author’s dreams and intuitive impulses. Although he outwardly espoused a wholly rational and sceptical view of the universe, his dream-world experiences allowed him glimpses of places and entities beyond the world of mundane reality, and behind his stilted and often excessive prose there lies a vision and an understanding of occult forces which is directly relevant to the Magical Tradition.(12)
While the shaman and the occultist will their altered states of consciousness, Lovecraft, a rationalist and materialist, is considered by his occult followers as what we might term an ‘unwitting shaman,’ whose ability to channel the denizens of the astral or unconscious realms through dreams is as legitimate as a willed channeling by the occult practitioner.
As for Lovecraft’s own world-view, he eschewed anything of a mystical nature, and saw the universe as mechanistic. However, Lovecraft nonetheless had an interest not only in science but also in ancient history and mythology. Lovecraft scholar S. T. Joshi writes that Lovecraft, ‘…confessed, acutely, that his very love of the past fostered the principal strain in his aesthetic of the weird — the defeat or confounding of time’.(13)
His fantasy is therefore a synthesis of the arcane/ mythic and the cosmological: the description of creatures lurking beyond the physical universe, waiting for entry through the nightmares of mortals. Hence, the ‘Gods with Unspeakable Names’ are an odd mixture of devil and ‘extraterrestrial’. But unlike J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis who wrote their stories in the hope of prompting an interest in the mythic and the religious in the face secularism and materialism, Lovecraft as an atheist had no such desire to see a religious revival. In deprecating attempts to relate quantum theory, for example, to religious beliefs, Lovecraft stated:
. . . Although these new turns of science don’t mean a thing in relation to the myth of cosmic consciousness and teleology, a new brood of despairing and horrified moderns is seizing on the doubt of all positive knowledge which they imply; and is deducing therefrom that, since nothing is true, therefore anything can be true . . . whence one may invent or revive any sort of mythology that fancy or nostalgia or desperation may dictate, and defy anyone to prove that it isn’t emotionally true — whatever that means . . .(14)
As a materialist with a mechanistic view of the universe Lovecraft regarded the supernatural as nonsense, but provided himself with sufficient, albeit scant, knowledge to enable him to include allusions to genuine esoteric figures and texts to provide his tales with arcane plausibility. According to Owen Davies, Lovecraft’s main source of occult information was the entry on ‘Magic’ in the Encyclopaedia Britannica.(15) For example when the Necronomicon was mentioned for a second time, on this occasion in ‘The Festival’, published in 1925 in Weird Tales’, the theme of the story was inspired by Lovecraft’s having read Margaret Murray’s The Witch-Cult in Western Europe,(16 & 17) which was itself an influential source for the rebirth of witchcraft or ‘wicca’ or at least the version synthesized into modern existence by Gerald B Gardner.(18) In ‘The Festival’, a descendant of New England witches finds three grimoires or occult texts, Saducismus Triumphatus,(19) Daemonolatreia,(20) and the Necronomicon, the first two being genuine grimoires.(21)
Several genuine characters of occult tradition are alluded to by Lovecraft in his stories, again giving them a tantalizing hint of genuine esoteric tradition, including the Elizabethan scholar and inventor of the ‘Enochian language’ and method of scrying, Dr John Dee.(22) Hence, when Lovecraft mentions in ‘The Dunwich Horror’ that John Dee provided the only English translation of the Necronomicon, this is taken up as a subject for commentary by Robert Turner, in which he describes his discovery in the British Museum of a letter by an ‘unknown scholar (dated 1573)’ written to Dee, concerning the ‘Towne of donwiche’.(23)
While Lovecraft’s knowledge of the arcane was limited, the vague hints in his tales are themselves the stuff of which esoteric lore and the occult Orders that form around it, are made. The allusions to Dee and grimoires, etc. provide those looking for a genuine occult tradition in Lovecraft’s tales with grounds for contending that Lovecraft was a channel for the transmission of an occult tradition that is traced from Sumeria through to the Lovecraftian ‘Mad Arab’, to John Dee, Aleister Crowley, Kenneth Grant, et al.
Ironically, Lovecraft’s occult interpreters are committed to precisely what their unwitting shaman found contemptible in his own day in those who “invent or revive any sort of mythology… and defy anyone to prove that it isn’t emotionally true…” Nonetheless Lovecraft provided his stories with sufficient plausibility for seekers of arcane knowledge to enable them to weave a tapestry out of the threads he provided.
‘The Call of Cthulhu’
The Cthulhu Mythos manifested first with Lovecraft in his short story ‘The Call of Cthulhu’, published in 1928.(24) The ‘heroes’ of the story, at least to the followers of the cult, are the Great Old Ones whose earthly followers might evoke them from extraterrestrial dimensions when astral alignments are right. Their followers were, from Lovecraft’s description, the most degraded dregs of the Earth:
They worshipped, so they said, the Great Old Ones who lived ages before there were any men, and who came to the young world out of the sky. Those Old Ones were gone now, inside the earth and under the sea; but their dead bodies had told their secrets in dreams to the first men, who formed a cult which had never died.(25)
Frater Tenebrous, rationalizing the existence of the Great Old Ones as objective realities, explains:
These entities exist in another dimension, or on a different vibrational level, and can only enter this universe though specific ‘window areas’ or psychic gateways — a concept fundamental to many occult traditions. Cthulhu is the High Priest of the Old Ones, entombed in the sunken city of R’lyeh,(26) where he awaits the time of their return. He is described as a winged, tentacled anthropoid of immense size, formed from a semi-viscous substance which recombines after his apparent destruction at the conclusion of the tale.(27)
The Cthulhu Cult is given a certain objective legitimacy by supposedly having extant remnants since time immemorial, examples alluded to by Lovecraft including South Seas Islanders, Voodoo worshipers, and the angakoks(28) of Greenland.(29) Hence, the present day Western adepts, dedicated to a return of the Great Old Ones to Earth to assume their godly mantles, claim to be part of a living tradition that has long existed, the very phenomena Lovecraft deplored in his own time.(30)
While it is difficult to discern the doctrines of this cult from Lovecraft’s stories, there is nonetheless sufficient indication to enable a weaving of a dogma that is clearly nihilistic or chaotic as is the nature of the Great Old Ones; the new earthly dispensation upon their return evoking a society that many people might consider to be a utopia of psychopathology. Hence Frater Tenebrous cites a passage from the seminal ‘Call of Cthulhu’:(31)
The time would be easy to know, for then mankind would have become as the Great Old Ones; free and wild beyond good and evil, with laws and morals thrown aside and all men shouting and killing and reveling in joy. Then the liberated Old Ones would teach them new ways to shout and kill and revel and enjoy themselves, and all the earth would flame with a holocaust of ecstasy and freedom.(32)
Frater Tenebrous attempts to bring this pathological, nihilistic outlook into accord with the doctrines of certain occult schools, including Templars, Assassins, Gnostics, and in particular the ‘Law of Thelema’ the new religion of Lovecraft’s contemporary, Aleister Crowley.(33) This is a theme that is especially adopted by Kenneth Grant and those of similar outlook who synthesize Cthulhu with Thelema. While the Aeon of Horus as a martial age would be ushered in by conflict, to compare the vision of a Thelemic society that Crowley advocates with the a global atavistic bedlam under the regime of the Great Old Ones is to offer a superficial analysis at best, despite all these adepts of Cthulhu seeming to also be well versed in Thelema.
Aleister Crowley (1875-1947) has had a seminal influence on the occult revival since the late 19th Century. His enduring legacy has been helped by the notoriety he sought as the self-described ‘Great Beast 666’, and the sensationalist headlines that appeared in the press in his time describing him as ‘The King of Depravity’ and the like. Crowley entered the crypto-Rosicrucian(34) society, the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, the basis of the occult revival in England, whose initiates included W. B. Yeats, in 1898.(35) As befits his temperament Crowley soon argued with the Golden Dawn, and in 1912 transferred his commitment to a so-called ‘sex-magical order’, Ordo Templi Orientis, at the invitation of its founder, journalist and German intelligence agent Theodor Reuss.(36) As one would expect from such an energetic personality Crowley became Outer Head of the Order, and used the Order as a vehicle for the propagation of his religion for the ‘New Aeon’, Thelema, a synthesis of mysticism and Nietzsche.
What Crowley advocated was a society that offered the individual the chance at discovering and fulfilling his ‘True Will’, or what might be broadly termed in a mundane sense self-actualization. However the Thelemic society Crowley advocated was anything but anarchistic let alone nihilistic, being hierarchically structured, and reminiscent of the Medieval era but with Thelema replacing Christianity. Crowley wrote of his Thelemic state as conferring both rights and duties, each individual being, ‘absolutely disciplined to serve his own, and the common purpose, without friction’.(37) The Thelemic social structure is based on the guild, which is also a feature of the organizational structure of Thelemic orders.(38) The premise of the Thelemic state Crowley described as being to, ‘gather up all the threads of human passion and interest, and weave them into a harmonious tapestry…’ reflecting the order of the cosmos.(39) This incorporation of all human passions and interests into a ‘harmonious tapestry’ seems remote from the raving, frenetic, murderous lunacy promised by the return of the Great Old Ones and looked upon with enthusiastic expectation by the Cthulhu cultists.
With this moral nihilism the cult of the Great Old Ones must be classified as part of the Left Hand Path, or the sinister tradition, the doctrine of Eastern origin that repudiates orthodox morality. The purest remnant is that of Left Hand Path Tantra as a heresy of Hinduism, where adherents in their rites partake of the substances prohibited by orthodox Hinduism, and include women in sexual rituals, regarded as a yogic interplay of the male and female cosmic principles represented by Shiva and Shakti. In India this is called Vama Marg, Sanskrit for ‘left path’, which according to Kenneth Grant, a Western initiate, who will be considered below, is ‘so called because it involves the use of Woman and/or certain organic substances that are usually regarded with abhorrence’.(40) Hence the interest by overtly Satanic cults in the West.
Cults of Cthulhu
1. Kenneth Grant and the Typhonian Cultus
The individual most responsible for the development of Cthulhu as an occult system seems to be the British occultist Kenneth Grant, one of several claimants to Aleister Crowley’s mantle on the latter’s death in 1947.(41) Grant has the advantage of having met Crowley and having been in correspondence with him as one of his magical students. Grant is also a practitioner of the sigil magic of the aforementioned A. O. Spare; hence synthesizing the two systems, while adding a third element, that of Cthulhu to form ‘Typhonian Thelema’. Grant created the ‘Typhonian’ Ordo Templi Orientis in 1955,(42) as the heir to the occult organization taken over by Crowley in 1922 from Reuss.(43) Grant’s assumption to head what was his own version of the OTO with the designation ‘Typhonian’, named after the Egyptian dark god Set(44), emerged in the predictable midst of a conflict of succession following Crowley’s death.
Grant has done much in an attempt to reconcile Lovecraft’s nightmare fantasies with ancient mythic entities, the view of Grant and others being that Lovecraft’s ancient (fictional) grimoire, The Necronomicon, is a legitimate esoteric text extant on the akashic or astral realm and accessed via dreaming. Grant writes of this: ‘As I have shown . . . it is not unlikely that Blavatsky(45), Mathers(46), Crowley(47), Lovecraft and others are reading from an akashic grimoire . . .’(48)
Grant regards Lovecraft and Crowley as parts of the same mythic and occult system, Crowley’s Book of the Law (also referred to as Liber Al) being ‘interpreted as the Book of the Law of the Great Old Ones; it is the grimoire containing the keys to mans’ intercourse with Them’.(49) Hence, Lovecraft’s fiction is regarded as a legitimate part of occult tradition, and an important part for Grant and others; as dream interpretation has been a major aspect of occultic, shamanic, and religious experiences from antiquity to the present, in which we might include the prophetic dreams and visions that are a feature of the Old and New Testaments.(50) Lovecraft attained to visions as a frequent and unwilled part of his dream-world while occultists work hard and long to achieve the same results via complicated magical formulas.. Thus, Crowley’s ‘Awaiss(51) Current’, Spare’s ‘Zos Kia Cultus’(52), and Lovecraft’s ‘Cthulhu Cultus’, ‘are different manifestations of an identical formula – that of dream control’.(53) Grant specifically alludes to Lovecraft as a ‘magician’:
Each of these magicians lived their lives within the context of cosmic dream myths which, somehow, they relayed or transmitted to man from other dimensions. The formula of dream control is in a sense used by all creative artists, though few succeed in bringing human consciousness into such close proximity with other spheres.(54)
The difference is that Lovecraft was a rationalist of middle-class background, who found the imagery evil and horrendous. As Grant explains it, Lovecraft held back from ‘Crossing the Abyss’, which prevented him from seeing his dreams in magical context and from detaching himself from moral judgements on good and evil Grant writes of this:
The quality of evil with which Lovecraft invests the types of his Cthulhu Cult and other mythoses is the result of a distortion in the subjective lens of his own awareness, and I have shown elsewhere how these images emerge when not so deformed, approximating sometimes to the point of actual identity with Crowley’s cult-types of Shaitan-Aiwass and The Book of the Law.(55)
Grant takes to task those Lovecraft fans who claim that their favorite author’s stories are uniquely original, rather than manifesting a long occult tradition; and for Grant Lovecraft’s status is thereby not diminished but enhanced, when he is recognized as a channel for cosmic forces of epochal or aeonic significance.(56)
Grant regards Lovecraft as having tapped through dreams, albeit in distorted manner, the same ‘Current’ as Crowley, of whom Lovecraft apparently had not heard, Grant providing a number of corresponded between the Cthulhu Mythos and that of Crowley:
Lovecraft: Al Azif The Book of the Arab; Crowley: Al vel Legis, The Book of the Law.
Lovecraft: The Great Old Ones; Crowley: The Great Ones of the Night Time.
Lovecraft: Yog-Sothoth; Crowley: Sut-Thoth, Sut-Typhon.
Lovecraft: Gnoph-Hek (The Hairy Thing); Crowley: Coph-Nia (a barbarous name in Liber vel Legis).
Lovecraft: The Cold Waste (Kadath); Crowley: The Wanderer of the Waste (Hadith).
Lovecraft: Nyarlathotep (a god accompanied by ‘idiot flute players’). Crowley: ‘Into my loneliness comes the sound of flutes’, Liber VII).
Lovecraft: The overpowering stench associated with Nyarlathotep; Crowley: ‘The perfume of Pan pervading ‘ (Liber VII).
Lovecraft: Great Cthulhu dead, but dreaming in R’lyeh. Crowley: The Primal Sleep, ‘In which the Great Ones of the Night time are immersed’.
Lovecraft: Azathoth (‘the blind and idiot chaos at the centre of infinity’). Crowley: Azoth, the alchemical solvent; ‘Thoth, Mercury: Chaos is Hadit at the centre of Infinity (Nuit)’.
Lovecraft: The Faceless One (The God Nyarlathotep); Crowley: The Headless One.
Lovecraft: The five pointed star carven of grey stone; Crowley: Nuit’s Star: the five pointed star with the circle in the middle. Grant explains: ‘Grey is the colour of Saturn, the Great Mother of which Nuit is a form’. (57)
Of these correspondences, however forced they appear to the non-adept, Grant states:
The table is interesting because it shows how similarly and yet how differently related were certain archetypal patterns characteristic of the New Aeon. But whereas to Crowley the motifs conveyed no moral message, to Lovecraft they were instinct with horror and evil.(58)
It could be contended that Grant places too much focus on Lovecraft’s failure to attain adeptship or occult understanding of what he was unconsciously channeling because of his alleged moral hang-ups; however, as quoted by Joshi, Lovecraft does not seem to have had any such moral prejudices, but rather like Nietzsche to have considered the universe to operate ‘beyond good and evil’.
2. Michael Bertiaux and the Lovecraftian Coven
Bertiaux is a Chicago-based practitioner of ‘Gnostic Voudoo’, synthesising Thelema and Lovecraft, who has received a lot of interest from Kenneth Grant. Bertiaux’s main vehicle for esoteric transmission is as Master of the Cult of La Couleuvre Noire, The Black Snake, and director of the Monastery of the Seven Rays.(59) Grant writes of Bertiaux that he ‘claims to have established contact with the “Deep Ones”, the fearful haunters of Outer Spaces that Lovecraft has brought so close to earth in his terrifying fictions’.(60)
The Lovecraftian Coven is a branch of the Cult of La Couleuvre Noire, and is led by ‘a priestess of the Black Snake Cult’.(61) The basis of the practice is that of sexual magic, or what might be called a version of Left Hand Path Tantra, ‘structured on the basic law of sexual polarity’, with the female principle represented by the sea-goat which corresponds astrologically with Capricorn, a ‘sea-shakti’, mated with the male principle as the Goat, or ‘sea beast’, or in Lovecraft Shub-Niggurath, the Goat of a Thousand Young.(62)
Grant claims that according to August Derleth, who continued the literary tradition of Lovecraft, parts of Wisconsin (where Derleth establish his publishing house) ‘ contain specific Cthulhu power zones’, the most potent being centered on a deserted lake. This area is frequented by Bertiaux and his followers where the ‘Deep Ones’ are evoked, whose point of entry to earth lies in the lake itself. The rites are performed when astrologically propitious and the ‘Deep Ones’ are said to ‘assume an almost tangible substance’. The performance is one of ceremonial magic and includes the use of paintings and statues of sea monsters, turtles, amphibia and batrachia, consecrated with the kalas (fluids) of the priestess. A special chant in Creole-French is particularly effectual.(63)
3. Church of Satan
Without getting too far off field with definitions, the reader might generally perceive by now that the Cthulhu Mythos comes closest to the Western or Judaeo-Christian conceptions of ‘Satanism’ and ‘evil’ in the normally accepted use of the word, although advanced esotericists such as Crowley and Grant would eschew the definition of ‘Satanism’ as too limited for their systems. Nonetheless, the Arabic word Shaitan does appear in the Thelemic cosmology and in particular in that of Grant.(64) Mankind throughout history and across ethnicities and cultures has had a conception of ‘good and evil’ as a necessity for living together in some type of workable accord. Taboos and commandments with divine sanction are devised to create society per se. Lovecraft saw his nightmares as representing figures as entirely negative or evil and life-negating in-so-far as he believed that ‘good and evil’ is defined as whatever serves the social fabric. Crowley, Grant, and Satanists advance the proposition that the cosmos is an interplay of polarities, the ‘evil’ or negation represented in Judaeo-Christianity as Satan, ‘the accuser and adversary’, which to such occultists is a necessary part of cosmology, otherwise stasis and eventual stagnation would ensue.(65) During the late 19th Century Satan even appeared to certain political rebels as the heroic, archetypal ‘rebel in the cosmos’.(66)
With the Cthulhu cultists it is difficult to see mere ‘rebellion’ or ‘heresy’ in a zealous commitment to supposedly ‘restore’ The Great Old Ones to sovereignty over the Earth. The only indication of what type of regime these Great Old Ones would impose is that of greater and more horrific ways of killing, and the imagery invoked is probably closer to the scenes from a blood-and-guts soaked Earth from the recent movie version of the ‘War of the Worlds’(67) where the outer ‘gods’ (?) proceed to feast upon humankind, than a 19th century romantic revolutionary image of a Miltonian Lucifer enthroned over a freed humanity, or the hierarchical and ordered society that Crowley himself proposed. Despite the attempts of occultists to put a positive and even liberating slant on the return of the Old Ones to reign over the Earth, Phil Hine has stated more realistically:
The Great Old Ones are served by various human, and non-human cults in wild and lonely places, from ‘degenerate’ swamp-dwellers to the innumerable ‘incestuous’ Whateley’s of the fictional region Dunwich. These cults are continually preparing both to bring about the return of the Old Ones, and also to silence anyone who does stumble across the awful secret of the existence of the Old Ones.
The return of the Old Ones involves, as Wilbur Whateley puts it in ‘The Dunwich Horror’,(68) the ‘clearing off’ of the Earth. That is, the clearing off of humanity, apart from a few worshippers and slaves. This apocalyptic reference can be asserted as metaphorical, or as referring to an actual physical catastrophe — Nuclear holocaust perhaps? Perhaps Lovecraft wished to emphasise that the Great Old Ones would give no more thought to wiping out humanity than we might give to wiping up water on a table. Exactly why the Old Ones wish to return to Earth is never clear, but we might assume that for them, Earth is close to the bars and convenient for bus routes!
Lovecraft is careful to point out that most of the Old Ones are, in fact, mindless, or ‘idiot gods’. Only those who are already insane or degenerate could worship them sincerely. Only Nyarlathotep, the Crawling Chaos, is given a human semblance of intelligence . . .(69)
One would expect that given Phil Hine’s description of the Great Old Ones as for the most part ‘idiot gods’ rather than teachers of man, whose servants are imbeciles, and whose only perceivable goal is to eliminate humanity, save for a few craven inbreeds, he would be a fervent rejectionist of the Cthulhu Cult among occultists, yet Hine is one of the principal members of the Esoteric Order of Dagon (70), which will be described below.
It is therefore not surprising that self-described Satanists have a considerable interest in the Cthulhu Mythos. The most overt manifestation of present day Satanism is of the Church of Satan founded in San Francisco in 1966 by Anton LaVey.(71) The principal exponent of the Cthulhu Mythos in the Church of Satan was Michael Aquino, who was a Magus IVº in the Church, i.e. LaVey’s deputy. LaVey’s Satanic Bible(72) had become a best-seller, and LaVey compiled The Satanic Rituals(73) in 1972 with Aquino’s assistance.
Aquino’s Cthulhuean chapters in The Satanic Rituals comprise a chapter on Lovecraftean metaphysics, ‘The Ceremony of the Nine Angles’, and ‘The Call of Cthulhu’. No other subject in The Satanic Rituals has as much dedicated to it as Cthulhu.
Aquino here regards Lovecraft as having penned ‘the most convincing and thoroughly terrifying works of macabre fiction in modern times’.(74) Aquino aimed in the essay to consider Lovecraft as a philosopher despite noting the scorn with which Lovecraft regarded any such metaphysics. Aquino suggests a Faustian theme of man’s drive for knowledge to the point of self-destruction and cataclysm represented by the Great Old Ones:
This theme of a constant interrelationship between the constructive and destructive facets of the human personality forms the keystone of the doctrines of Satanism, even as theism argues that the integrity of the individual can be increased by a rejection of the carnal and an obedience to morality.(75)
Aquino attempts to present the Cthulhuean monstrosities as somewhat benevolent towards mankind, as teachers that do not require worshiping other than to be evoked by festivals. Aquino invites the reader to compare a Cthulhuean festival to the ‘element of servility’ in Christian and other religions. Here then is a revival of the 19th century romantic notion of the devil as the cosmic rebel and teacher of humanity. It is also suggestive of the divine beings, the ‘Watchers’, who became the ‘Fallen Angels’ after rebelling against Jehovah and under the leadership of Azazel (or Samyaza), descended to Earth to not only mate with the daughters of man whom they lusted after, siring offspring of mighty renown,(76) but also teaching humanity all the arts of civilization.
Aquino continues with this type of theme, stating that Lovecraft sought to portray the Great Old Ones as ‘never conclusive stereotypes of good or evil; they vacillate constantly between beneficence and cruelty’. Conversely, it might be recalled, Kenneth Grant, contends that Lovecraft did regard these nightmare creatures as wholly evil and destructive and completely alien to human consciousness. The protagonist of each story ‘abandons every prudent restraint’ on a Faustian quest for knowledge.
It was from this introductory essay that Aquino proceeded with two Cthulhuean rituals. ‘The Ceremony of the Nine Angles’(77) is to be performed in a ‘closed chamber with no curved surfaces’, and lighted by a single brazier or flame-pot, before an altar behind which there is the sign of a trapezoid. All celebrants are masked to distort their facial features. ‘Yugothic’ language was formulated by Aquino to enhance the evocative atmosphere of the rite by the main celebrant, to whom the participants respond in their mundane language. The beings evoked are Azathoth as ‘great center of the cosmos’; Yog-Sothoth, ‘master of dimensions’; Nyarlathotep, ‘black prince from the Barrier’; and Shub-Niggurath, ‘father of the World of Horrors’. After evoking Nine Angles, each representing a cosmic sphere presided over by an Old One, the celebrant intones that ‘the hounds are loosed upon the barrier, and we shall not pass; but the time shall come when the hounds will bow before us, and apes shall speak with the tongues of the hornless ones. The way is Yog-Sothoth, and the key is Nyarlathotep. Hail, Yog-Sothoth. Hail, Nyarlathotep’.(78)
In ‘The Call of Cthulhu’ the ritual is performed in a secluded area ‘near a major body of water’, preferably on an overcast night, when the water is tempestuous. The chief celebrant assumes the role of Cthulhu, while the participants encircle a large bonfire. Participants evoke sundry water deities indulging Kraken, Poseiden, Typhon, Dagon, Neptune, Leviathan, Midgard, and Cthulhu.(79)
Something of the positive aspect Aquino aims to suggest is alluded to when the participants chant in unison that Cthulhu crossed the Abyss to walk upon Earth, and ‘taught the apes [humanity] to laugh and to play, to slay and to scream’. This is suggestive of the mad utopia described by Frater Tenebrous in referring to ‘The Call of Cthulhu’ when the Old Ones will teach humanity new ways to slaughter each other; apparently an update of what was taught millennia ago.
The participants state in unison: ‘I danced and I killed, and I laughed with the apes, and in R’lyeh I died to sleep the dreams of the master of the planes and the angles’. The ritual ends with a repudiation of the Christian God, as the ‘god of death’ who will be overthrown upon the return of the Old Ones.
Aquino explained in an article for Nyctalops Magazine(80) that he constructed the ‘Yugothic’ language by the patterns suggested in Lovecraft’s incantation given in the ‘Call of Cthulhu’: ‘Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn’.
There is nothing phoney about such an invention per se, within the context of the occult traditions. All such ‘magical languages’, other than those that are obscure or ancient languages used for a magical purpose, are contrivances, as are the magical alphabets. It is the very nature of their unfamiliarity that makes them evocative. On a more common level, Latin Mass might be particularly evocative to a non-Latin speaker. The most famous of the occult languages is Enochian, formulated by Elizabethan scholar Dr. John Dee, around which an entire system of magic has been practiced from the time it was revived by the Golden Dawn in England during the late 19th Century. Enochian is said to be the language of the angels, and Dee claimed that he scried with the use of the Enochian language and sigils and received communications from the Enochian denizens of other planes. Either one accepts that Enochian really is a supernatural language given to Dee, or that Dee made it up, but it has nonetheless remained a very evocative language.(81) A more familiar form of evocative language is the ‘speaking in tongues’ by some Pentecostal churchgoers. I heard this spoken several decades ago, much to my mirth at that time; however a Pentecostal friend of Indian descent recently offered a quite rational explanation as to its efficacy, stating that as a practitioner himself he finds it to be an efficacious means of altering one’s consciousness, like the mantras used in meditation by Eastern religions.
Aquino explains also that the ‘nine angles’ are the five points of the pentagram and the 4-edge angles of the ‘phi-trapezoid’ or the pentagon within the pentagram.(82)
In 1972, the year The Satanic Rituals was published, Aquino wrote in the Church of Satan’s newsletter the Cloven Hoof an article attempting to identify the location of R’lyeh.(83) Aquino identifies this as Nan-Madol, Ponape in Micronesia, Ponape being a destination for sea captain Ahab Marsh in ‘The Shadow Over Innsmouth’.(84) The immense and still mysterious stone walls of Nan-Madol, considered by the islanders to be haunted, is a convincing location, given that it matched key features for R’lyeh given by Lovecraft as an island in the Pacific with mysterious megalithic structures. Aquino states that island tradition tells of the city having been created by a race of gods, the Anti-Aramach, ‘who came down from the sky in great canoes’, while the great stones of the city flew down from the sky.
Aquino, like Grant, has attempted to draw objective parallels with the imagery presented from Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos, although while Aquino does this as an intellectual exercise in itself, Grant places literal significance on the mythos as being an echo of actual ancient traditions, cults and myths, mainly deriving from the demonology of Egypt and Sumeria.
4. Esoteric Order of Dagon
The Esoteric Order of Dagon (EOD), named after the society in Lovecraft’s ‘The Shadow Over Innsmouth’,(85) was founded in 1981. Randolf Carter had assumed the shape of a ‘thought form’ existing in the word of dreams (or the astral realm) even during Lovecraft’s lifetime, waiting for the right moment to manifest into a human consciousness. This occurred in the 1960s during the drug induced state of a young man, Steven Greenwood,(86) who assumed the name and character of Carter and issued The Manifesto of the Aeon of Cthulhu, which led to the formation of the Temple of Dagon, from which emerged the EOD. Greenwood (a.k.a. Randolf Carter) inaugurated his own Aeon, like Crowley with the Aeon of Horus, and Michael Aquino with the Aeon of Set; this having the numerological value as ‘Current 23’ equating with Chaos or Kaos and represented by the Great Old One named Azathoth.(87)
In 2007 Obed Marsh, representing the Supreme Council of the Temple of Dagon, went to England to meet Michael Staley of Grant’s Typhonian Ordo Templi Orientis, and the EOD became an affiliate of the Typhonian OTO.(88)
The EOD explanation on the Lovecraft mysteries followers the line of other occultists, that Lovecraft’s transmissions from the Great Old Ones are part of a genuine tradition, but Lovecraft himself was not capable of ‘Crossing the Abyss’(89) and of becoming an adept.
The EOD embraces Thelema, Wicca, Tantra, and like Grant traces its tradition back to Sumeria and Egypt, and to stellar worship centred on Sirius, the Dog Star that Grant has identified with Set.(90)
The EOD is loosely based on self-initiation with three degree, that of Neophyte, Initiate, and Adept.(91)
What is of particular significance about the EOD is that within this have coalesced the principal representatives of a number of primary magical systems and/or organisations including: Kenneth Grant, who is stated to have been an important influence on the formation of the EOD and has ‘graciously acknowledged his honorary membership’; Michael Staley, spokesman for Grant’s Typhonian OTO; Nicholaj de Mattos Frisvold of Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica(92); Phil Hine, previously mentioned, a philosopher of Chaos Magick; John Balance of the British industrial band Coil; Nema the formulator of Maat Magick;(93) Michael Aquino, previously mentioned author of the Lovecraftian elements within the Church of Satan, and founder of the Temple of Set,(94) along with authors, publishers, film-makers and artists.
From this it can be seen that the EOD includes representatives of Thelema, Chaos Magick, Industrial sub-culture, Maat Magick, and Setianism.
There have been several attempts to present to the discerning occultist public, editions of the Necronomicon, the dreaded grimoire for summoning the Great Old Ones alluded to in Lovecraft’s stories. As one should expect, Kenneth Grant has attempted to argue for the existence of the Necronomicon on an objective basis, albeit as a book that exists on the astral plane which might be accessed by occult practices or via dreams, as Lovecraft did unwittingly.
The Necronomicon was first mentioned by Lovecraft in 1922 in a short story, ‘The Hound’, which was published in 1924. The protagonists are an unnamed hero and his now mangled, dead friend St. John, who had both become so jaded in a Faustian quest for evil and decadence that they resorted to grave robbing, being collectors of diabolic antiquities:
Only the somber philosophy of the decadents could help us, and this we found potent only by increasing gradually the depth and diabolism of our penetrations. Baudelaire and Huysmans were soon exhausted of thrills, till finally there remained for us only the more direct stimuli of unnatural personal experiences and adventures. It was this frightful emotional need which led us eventually to that detestable course which even in my present fear I mention with shame and timidity — that hideous extremity of human outrage, the abhorred practice of grave-robbing.(95)
The corpse that was uncovered, that of a 500 year old satanic character, was adorned with an amulet bearing markings reminiscent of the symbols found in the Necronomicon, the book being introduced to Lovecraft’s reading public in a quite unassuming manner:
Alien it indeed was to all art and literature which sane and balanced readers know, but we recognized it as the thing hinted of in the forbidden Necronomicon of the mad Arab Abdul Alhazred; the ghastly soul-symbol of the corpse-eating cult of inaccessible Leng, in Central Asia. All too well did we trace the sinister lineaments described by the old Arab daemonologist; lineaments, he wrote, drawn from some obscure supernatural manifestation of the souls of those who vexed and gnawed at the dead.(96)
An account of the origins of the Necronomicon has been provided by Lovecraft, stating that the original title is, ‘Al Azif-azif being the word used by the Arabs to designate that nocturnal sound (made by insects) supposed to be the howling of daemons’.(97)
Composed by Abdul Alhazred, a mad poet of Sanaa’, in Yemen, who is said to have flourished during the period of the Ommiade caliphs, circa 700 A.D. He visited the ruins of Babylon and the subterranean secrets of Memphis and spent ten years alone in the great southern desert of Arabia — the Roba El Khaliyeh or ‘Empty Space’ of the ancients — and ‘Dahna’ or ‘Crimson’ desert of the modern Arabs, which is held to be inhabited by protective evil spirits and monsters of death.(98)
Abdul Alhazred wrote Al Azif in Damascus and died or disappeared in 733 AD, one account being that he was devoured by an invisible demon in broad daylight in front of a multitude of terrified witnesses, after having lived in madness for years, ‘worshipping unknown entities whom he called Yog-Sothoth and Cthulhu’.
In 950 AD Azif was translated into Greek as Necronomicon by Theodorus Philetas of Constantinople, followed during the Medieval era by translations into Latin and Spanish.(99)
With a quite convincing historical chronology provide by Lovecraft, the Necronomicon became the subject of much speculation as to its actual existence.
Avon Books published this dread document, said to induce insanity by its mere possession let alone by practicing its rites, in 1980, from a previous edition published in 1977 at the instigation of Herman Slater, proprietor of Magickal Childe bookstore, and himself a publisher under that imprint, in Manhattan. The edition was published thanks to a thought-form entering the consciousness of L. K. Barnes, publisher, which prompted him to enter Slater’s bookshop, ‘the crazed proprietor’ waving the MS of Azif about. Fortunately, Barnes had long been looking for the genuine Necronomicon, which since childhood he had known existed. This MS had been produced by ‘Simon’ who had the necessary documentation to prove the authenticity of Azif.(100) This edition makes it plain that it is an aspect of Thelema, and the preface to the second edition ends with a reference to entering the ‘New Age of the Crowned and Conquering Child, Horus, not in a slouch towards Bethlehem, but born within us at the moment we conquer the lurking fear within our own souls’.(101)
This version of Azif is rather interesting in that despite the situation of such a dread tome being published by Avon Books, a respectable amount of research has gone into tracing Mesopotamian and other parallels, reminiscent of the approach of Kenneth Grant:
It is of extreme importance to occult scholars that many of these deities had actual counterparts, at least in name, to deities of the Sumerian Tradition, the same Tradition that the Magus Aleister Crowley deemed it necessary to ‘rediscover’.(102)
A ‘Chart of Comparisons’ links correspondences between names used by Lovecraft, Crowley and Sumer, as follows:
Cthuhlu – The Great Beast CTHAH 666 – Ctha-lu; Azathoth – Aiwass – Azagthoth; Shub Niggurath – Pan – Shub Ishniggarab(?); Out of Space – The abyss – Absu; IA! – IO! IAO! – IA, EA; The Five Poutned grey Star carven – The Pentagram – The Ar; Vermis Mysteriis – The Serpent – Erim.(103)
The Avon Books Necronomicon proceeds with several hundred pages of incantations, spells and sigils. What is of interest again however, is that the corpus of the book is mainly drawn from Babylonian mythology, and includes the names of deities such as Inanna, Ishtar, Enki, Marduk et al., these being identified with what in the Cthulhu Mythos are the Elder Gods who defeated the Great Old Ones; which has its analogue in the Babylonian Creation Myth of the defeat of the dragon Tiamat by Marduk. It is not until one reaches the ‘Urilia Text’, or ‘the Book of the Worm’, that the diabolical adept gets to the Cthulhu conjurations, which provides ‘the formulae by which the wreakers of havoc perform their Rites’. These are the conjurations of the ‘hidden priests’ of the creatures that were defeated by Marduk, and here the author identifies Tiamat, ‘the Ancient Worm’, with Kutulu, slain by Marduk, ‘yet who lies not dead, but dreaming’, which is the manner by which Cthulhu is described by Lovecraft.(104) The demons evoked are from the Sumero-Babylonian traditions; such as Humwawa,(105) Pazuzu,(106) and Lilit[h].(107)
Given that Tiamat is the dragon or great worm of the primal chaos and moreover of the sea in Mesopotamian legend, defeated by Marduk,(108) the analogies between these Mesopotamian myths and the Lovecraftian theme of the Great Old Ones defeated by the Elder Gods, seems sufficiently close to contrive a convincing and workable system of occult theory and practise. At any rate, it captured the imagination of a sufficient number of Cthulhuean aspirants to prompt the Church of Satan to set up a website to ‘answer the large amount of e-mail the Church of Satan continually receives concerning this purported book, the Necronomicon, and its history and validity’.(109) The author of the Church’s response, Peter Gilmore, who assumed the role of High Priest on LaVey’s death, states that he had conversed with Herman Slater of Magical Childe about the book, who told Gilmore that the number of requests about the existence of a Necronomicon clearly showed that there was a large market for such a volume:
The book thus fabricated by the mysterious Simon is an artful blend of pseudo-Sumerian and Goetic ritual, with names crafted to resemble those of Lovecraft’s invented monster gods. More importantly for many would-be Black Magicians who bought copies, it had performable rites and plenty of arcane sigils. It was more than enough to sucker-in the gullible and it still sells well today.(110)
However, within the context of LaVeyan Satanism, this certainly does not mean that the Simon Necronomicon is without value. It could not consistently be stated otherwise, as LaVeyan ritual, including the Lovecraftian rites written by Aquino for LaVey’s Satanic Rituals (also published by Avon Books) are also contrived with introductory histories for each no more nor less accurate than those of the Simon tome. The advice of Gilmore is simply that one should not be fooled into thinking that the rites are authentic and arcane, regardless of whatever practical use they might be in shifting one’s consciousness. This accords with the nature of LaVeyan Satanism, as distinct from the schools of thought developed by Crowley, Grant, et al., that the entities being called upon are symbolic and without any objective existence on any plane. In that respect, LaVeyan Satanism is a form of ‘atheism’ with ritual trappings that are not claimed to be anything but ‘psychodramas’.(111)
While Tolkien penned his Ring Trilogy as a Mythos for Britain that he hoped would prompt a rejection of materialism and industrialism, having a strong moral outlook in regard to waging a chivalric war against ‘evil’, inspired by the Heathen ethos of England and Northern Europe; Lovecraft was quite different. He was a rationalist, who eschewed any notion that his stories and the nightmares that inspired them had any cosmic or moral consequences. Nonetheless, Lovecraft’s mythos has taken on a life of its own in precisely the same manner Lovecraft lamented the emergence of such crypto-religious and mythic revivals in his own time. Not surprisingly, the mythos has attracted the perverse fascination of occultists who are drawn to the ‘dark’ and ‘chaotic’ sides of life and the cosmos. There are moreover sufficient hints in the Lovecraft stories around which an entire occult system of theory and practise can be woven, especially when synthesised with other dark forms of occultism such as those of Crowley. Since the occult, and indeed in the wider context religion, has since times immemorial been based in no small measure upon dreams, dream interpretations and visions, often wilfully invoked by the use of rituals or of drugs, it is entirely fitting that some occultists would conclude that Lovecraft was unwillingly tapping into the astral plane, or what Jung called the collective unconscious, where there exist many atavisms repressed into the subconscious since the dawn of humanity, awaiting conscious awakening. Whether one calls such archetypes gods and devils is a matter of semantics or moral relativity. The Lovecraft mythos is just as ‘legitimate’ – or otherwise – as any other form of occultism or mysticism, and if it has sufficient force to impact upon the psyche then it is at least as proficient as any other, whether old or new.
1. J. G. Frazer, The Golden Bough: A Study in Magic and Religion (London: Macmillan, 1987), 11.
2. See for example the ‘Table of Correspondence’ in: Aleister Crowley, 777 and other Qabalistic Writings (Maine: Samuel Weiser, 1986), 2-38.
3. Alex Owen, The Place of Enchantment: British Occultism and the Culture of the Modern (London: University of Chicago Press, 2004), p. 67.
4. Nevill Drury, Music for Inner Space: Techniques for Meditation and Visualisation (Sydney: Prism Press, 1985), ‘Foreword’.
5. Adrian Savage, An Introduction to Chaos Magick (New York: Magickal Childe, 1988).
6. Magical symbol.
7. Carl Jung writing to a patient. Gerhard Adler and Aniela Jaffe (eds.) Selected Letters of C. G. Jung (Princeton University Press, 1973), p. 459.
8. Daniel, Chapter 5.
9. Pat Zalewski, Gold Dawn Enochian Magic (Minnesota, Llewellyn Publications, 1990).
10. Fra. Tenebrous, Cults of Cthulhu: H P Lovecraft and the Occult Tradition (Daath Press, 1993), 9.
11. Esoteric Order of Dagon, http://www.esotericorderofdagon.org/
12. Fra. Tenebrous, Cults of Cthulhu, p. 5.
13. S. T. Joshi, Introduction to An Epicure in the Terrible: A Centennial Anthology of Essays in Honor of H. P. Lovecraft (Rutherford, New Jersey: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1991), II.
14. S. T. Joshi, ibid., quoting Lovecraft.
15. Owen Davies, Grimoires: A History of Magic Books (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009), p. 266.
16. Owen Davies, ibid., p. 265.
17. Margaret Murray, The Witch-Cult of Western Europe, 1921.
18. Margaret Murray wrote the ‘Preface’ to Gardner’s seminal 1954 book Witchcraft Today (New York: Magickal Childe, 1982), pp. 15-16.
19. Joseph Glanvill, Saducismus Triumphatus, 1681.
20. Remigius, Daemonolatreia, 1595.
21. Owen Davies, p. 265.
22. Owen Davies, p. 266.
23. George Hay (ed.) The Necronomicon: The Book of Dead Names (London: Skoob Books, 1992), Robert Turner, ‘The Necronomicon: A Commentary’, p. 69.
24. H. P. Lovecraft, ‘The Call of Cthulhu’, Weird Tales, Vol. 11, No., 2, February 1928, Miskatonic University, http://www.yankeeclassic.com/miskatonic/library/stacks/literature/lovecraft/stories/callcthu.htm (accessed on September 29, 2010).
26. R’yleh, a city that first appears in Lovecraft’s ‘Call of Cthulhu’, where Cthulhu lies buried, dreaming.
27. Fra Tenebrous, p. 10.
28. High Priests of the Eskimo, suppressed by the Christian missionaries. Hinrich Rink, Danish Greenland: Its People and its Products (H. S. King, 1877; republished by General Books, 2009), p. 91.
29. Fra. Tenebrous, p. 10.
30. S. T. Joshi.
31. Ibid., p. 10.
32. H. P. Lovecraft, ‘The Call of Cthulhu’.
33. Fra. Tenebrous, p. 11.
34. Alex Owen, p. xvii.
35. Colin Wilson, Aleister Crowley: The Nature of The Beast (Northamptonshire, The Aquarian Press, 1987), p. 45.
36. Colin Wilson, ibid., p. 102.
37. Aleister Crowley, The Law is for All (Arizona: Falcon Press, 1985), p. 101.
38. Crowley, Liber CXCIV, ‘O.T.O. An Intimation with Reference to the Constitution of the Order’, paragraph 21, The Equinox, Vol. III, No. 1, 1919.
39. Crowley, Liber CXCIV, ibid., ‘concluding remarks’.
40. Kenneth Grant, Outside the Circles of Time (London: Frederick Muller Ltd., 1980), p. 294.
41. Others who claimed to be heirs of Crowley and created their own OTOs or Lodges, included rocket scientist Jack Parsons, who died in a laboratory explosion in 1952; Karl Germer, a German refugee living in New York who inherited Crowley’s papers and robes; and a Californian named Grady McMurtry who had received a Lodge charter from Crowley in 1946 and was appointed Crowley’s ‘Caliph’ or spiritual representative. Francis King and Isabel Sutherland, The Rebirth of Magic (London: Corgi Books, 1982), pp. 182-184.
42. Michael Staley, ‘Typhona Ordo Templi Orientis: A Brief History’, 1986, http://user.cyberlink.ch/~koenig/dplanet/staley/staley1.htm (accessed on September 27, 2010).
43. Michael Staley, ‘Typhonian Ordo Templi Orientis: The OTO after Crowley’, http://user.cyberlink.ch/~koenig/dplanet/staley/staley2.htm (accessed on September 27, 2010).
44. Grant etymologically derives the name Typhon as the Greek form for the Egyptian name Ta-Urt, ‘Mother of Set’. Kenneth Grant, Outside the Circles of Time, pp. 292-93.
45. Helena Blavatsky, founder of Theosophy, who claimed that a Book of Dzyan existed in an astral Tibetan realm, and formed the basis for her seminal Secret Doctrine (Madras, The Theosophical Publishing House, 1978); first published 1888. This set in motion a renewed tendency of occultists to claim revealed wisdom or a special mandate from ‘Secret’ or ‘Hidden Chiefs’, one of the more recent being the claim by Dr. Michael Aquino, formerly of US Military Intelligence, to have received The Book of Coming Forth by Night, from the Egyptian deity Set, which mandated the forming of the Temple of Set. Arthur Lyons, Satan Wants You: The Cult of Devil Worship in America (New York: The Mysterious Press, 1988), pp. 126-127.
46. McGregor Mathers, a founder of the Order of the Golden Dawn, Ellic Howe, The Magicians of the Golden Dawn: A Documentary History of a Magical Order 1887-1923 (Northamptonshire: The Aquarian Press, 1985).
47. Aleister Crowley claimed to be the prophet of a new aeon through the transmission of The Book of the Law by a messenger of the Gods, Aiwaz. Colin Wilson, Aleister Crowley: The Nature of the Beast (Northamptonshire: the Aquarian Press, 1987), pp. 71-72.
48. Kenneth Grant, Outside the Circles of Time, p. 167.
49. Ibid., p. 273.
50. Genesis 37:5-10 (Jacob’s dreams), Matt. 1: 20-24 (Joseph’s dream of Jesus’ birth), The Revelation (John’s visions), etc.
51. One of several spellings, as determined by numerological factors.
52. Kenneth Grant, Images and Oracles of Austin Osman Spare (n.d. or publication details). The once widely acclaimed artist Spare withdrew from society and existed in poverty to devote himself to the painting and writing of his hellish visions, and performing magic, the basis of which was ‘dream control’, masturbation, meditation upon sigils, and auto-suffocation via the so-called ‘death posture’.
53. Kenneth Grant, Aleister Crowley and the Hidden God (New York: Samuel Weiser, 1974), p. 94.
54. Ibid., p. 94.
55. Kenneth Grant, Aleister Crowley and the Hidden God, op.cit., pp. 35-36.
56. Ibid., p. 36.
57. Kenneth Grant, The Magical Revival (London: Frederick Muller Ltd., 1972), pp. 115-116.
58. Ibid., p. 117.
59. Kenneth Grant, Cults of the Shadow (London: Frederick Muller Ltd., 1975), p. 165. Grant also states that the Monastery of the Seven Rays is the ‘Outer Court of the Black Snake Cult’, and is a ‘cell of the OTOA, or Ordo Templi Orientis Antiqua’, a Thelemic order. Grant, ibid., p. 166.
60. Ibid., p. 166.
61. Ibid., pp. 186-187.
62. Ibid., p. 187.
63. Ibid., p. 189.
64. As a representative example see Grant, Outside the Circles of Time, p. 290, where Shaitan is identified as the Chaldean form of Set, worshipped by the Yezidis, with Crowley being, according to Grant, a reincarnation of the prophet Yezid who revived the Cult of Shaitan/Set. Shaitan is also identified with Aiwass (Aiwaz and variant spellings according to numerology), the extraterrestrial messenger of the Gods who supposedly dictated Liber al vel Legis to Crowley as the bible of the New Aeon.
65. For an historical survey on the concept of evil and its representation by demonic entities, see: Paul Carus, The History of the Devil and the Idea of Evil – From the Earliest Times to the Present Day (Illinois: The Open Court Publishing Co., 1974).
66. The anarchist Mikhail Bakunin wrote for example: ‘The Evil One is the satanic revolt against divine authority, revolt in which we see the fecund germ of all human emancipations, the revolution…’ Mikhail Bakunin, God and the State (New York: Dover Publications, 1970), p. 112. Baudelaire: ‘All-knowing lord of subterranean things/ Who remedy our human sufferings,/ Satan have pity on my long despair!…’ Charles Baudelaire, Marthiel and Jackson Mathews (eds.) ‘Litany to Satan’, Flowers of Evil (New York: New Directions, 1962), p. 172.
67. ‘War of the Worlds’, 2005, director Steven Spielberg, starring Tom Cruise.
68. H. P. Lovecraft, ‘The Dunwich Horror’, Weird Tales, Vol. 13, no. 14, April 1929, pp. 481-508, Miskatonic University Press, http://www.yankeeclassic.com/miskatonic/library/stacks/literature/lovecraft/novellas/dunwich.htm (accessed September 29, 2010).
69. Phil Hine, ‘H. P. Lovecraft: Visionary of the Void’, http://www.scribd.com/doc/3054993/Chaos-Magick-Using-The-Cthulhu-Mythos-by-Phil-Hine (accessed on September 29, 2010).
70. The Esoteric Order of Dagon, http://www.esotericorderofdagon.org/eod%20additional%20information.html (accessed on September 29, 2010).
71. Arthur Lyons, Satan Wants You: The Cult of Devil Worship in America (New York; the Mysterious press, 1988), Chapter VIII, The Church of Satan, pp. 104-24.
72. Anton S. LaVey, The Satanic Bible (New York: Avon Books, 1969).
73. Anton S. LaVey, The Satanic Rituals (New York: Avon Books, 1972).
74. Michael A. Aquino, ‘The Metaphysics of Lovecraft’, The Satanic Rituals. My reference is: Michael A. Aquino, The Church of Satan (Temple of Set, 1989), Appendix 69: ‘The Metaphysics of Lovecraft’.
76. Genesis 6:4.
77. Michael A. Aquino, The Church of Satan, ‘Appendix 70: “The Ceremony of the Nine Angles”’.
78. All of the ‘satanic rituals’ end with a ‘hail’ to some demon, devil or deity, and with the ‘sign of the horns’.
79. Michael A. Aquino, The Church of Satan, ‘Appendix 71: “The Call of Cthulhu”’.
80. Michael A. Aquino, Nyctalops Magazine, No. 13, May 1977; reprinted in Aquino, The Church of Satan, Appendix 72: ‘Lovecraftian Ritual’.
81. Donald C. Laycock, The Complete Enochian Dictionary: A Dictionary of the Angelic Language as Revealed to Dr. John Dee and Edward Kelley (London: Askin Publishers, 1978). I have heard Enochian spoken fluently by the New Zealand occultist and author Pat Zalewski when he was working as a Tarot reader at a Wellington market, and can attest to its efficacy upon the ear.
82. Aquino, The Church of Satan, Appendix 72.
83. Michael A. Aquino, ibid., Appendix 55: ‘Expedition to R’lyeh’, reprinted from The Cloven Hoof #6, July-August, 1972.
84. H. P. Lovecraft, ‘The Shadow Over Innsmouth’ (1936) http://www.yankeeclassic.com/miskatonic/library/stacks/literature/lovecraft/novellas/shadowin4.htm (accessed on September 29, 2010).
85. Obed Marsh, ‘An Introduction to the Esoteric Order of Dagon’ (Oregon: Yaddish Lodge, 2007), p. 3.
86. Esoteric Order of Dagon, http://www.esotericorderofdagon.org/eod%20additional%20information.html (accessed September 29, 2010).
87. Crowley’s Thelema (Will) Aeon is numerologically designated ‘Current 93’.
88. Obed Marsh, ‘An Introduction to the Esoteric Order of Dagon’ (Oregon: Yaddish Lodge, 2007), p. 2.
89. Ibid., p. 3.
90. Kenneth Grant, Outside the Circles of Time, p. 289.
91. Obed Marsh, p. 7.
92. Brazilian author, psychotherapist and astrologer. Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica is the ecclesiastical branch of the OTO.
93. Nema, aka Andahadna, declared the Aeon of Maat in Ohio in 1976. Kenneth Grant, Outside the Circles of Time, pp. 137-163.
94. Michael Aquino broke with LaVey’s Church of Satan in 1975, and declared the Aeon of Set. Arthur Lyons, pp. 126-127.
95. H. P. Lovecraft, ‘The Hound’, Weird Tales, Vol. 3, No. 2, pp. 50-52, 78. http://www.yankeeclassic.com/miskatonic/library/stacks/literature/lovecraft/stories/hound.htm (accessed on September 29, 2010).
97. H. P. Lovecraft, ‘The History of The Necronomicon’, Miskatonic University, http://www.yankeeclassic.com/miskatonic/library/stacks/literature/lovecraft/stories/hplnecro.htm (accessed on September 29, 2010). The reader is referred to the large collection of archives at Miskatonic University, Department of Literature, http://www.yankeeclassic.com/miskatonic/dliterature/authors/lovecraft/hplmain1.htm#hplstories
100. Necronomicon (New York: Avon Books, 1980), vii.
101. Ibid., x.
102. Ibid., xix.
103. Ibid., xxxix.
104. Necronomicon, ‘The Urilia Text’, 183.
105. Brother of Pazuzu, with a beard of human entrails.
106. Demon of famine and locusts.
107. In the Talmudic tradition of Judaism Lilith is Adam’s first wife. She is derived from a class of Sumerian demonesses, the lilitu.
108. George Smith (Tr.) Chaldean Account of Genesis (Minneapolis: Wizards Book Shelf, 1977), pp. 91-99.
109. Peter H. Gilmore, ‘Necronomicon: some Facts about a Fiction’, Church of Satan, http://www.churchofsatan.com/Pages/FAQnecronomicon.html (accessed on September 29, 2010).
111. Anton S. LaVey, The Satanic Bible, ‘The Book of Belial’, pp. 137-134.
Source: Irish Journal of Gothic and Horror Stories
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Very interesting! At the same time, I wonder whether this kind of magic is compatible with Right wing thinking. Some ideas, though not much thought through yet:
Right wing thinking circles around inequality, both in the sense of level of accomplishment or development and in the sense of otherness, difference. Inequality is a sign of life: all beings are striving upwards, each in his own way, and with varying degrees of success. Equality however, is a sign of death: everybody is kept down at the level of the lowest common denominator. All must remain in the swamp, so to speak.
Inequality does not preclude benevolence or love. A dog is different and on another level, but this does not mean that you cannot love the dog, or feel a certain compassion for his suffering.
The dark arts also imply inequality: after all, the magician seeks power. But here too, love is not excluded. The magician would only resist the Christian or humanist ideal of being ‘a good boy’.
Inequality however, can only be seriously discussed if it is measured against certain standards. I get the impression that the attractiveness of the Cthulhu cult is that they reject ANY standard. They may call it beyond “good and evil”, but is it not rather sinking back in the swamp? The liberation from all standards means that all can be considered equal: the liberal ideal through the ages.
The Cthulhu cult seems to me the ultimate expression of what Evola would call the chthonic. I sometimes feel rather uncomfortable with the wholesale rejection of the chthonic by Evola, especially if he identifies it with the eternal female. When reading about the Old Ones however, I feel that here his criticism would be completely justified.
The dark arts imply hiddenness and working with non-rational, unseen powers. But this is not the same as ugliness, atavism, irrationality, deformity and repellent (‘entartet’) forms.
So to my understanding, the Cthulhu cult is indeed evil, not just to a Christian understanding, but also from a right wing perspective: it embraces the ultimate liberal ideal of formlessness.
I assume Greg posted the article for general interest, because Lovecraft was a Rightist. It was originally written for a university journal.
There is nothing compatible between such stuff and the Right, and the article was not written to suggest there is. The ‘left hand path’ is based on hedonism, while the ‘right hand path’ – including Masonry, Theosophy and New Age-ism – are universalistic. None are compatible with the Right. Some, such as Grand Orient Masonry, remain enemies of considerable influence. Such cults and teachings are what Guenon and Evola called counter-tradition and anti-tradition , whether they are called ‘dark arts’ or ‘white light’.
My forthcoming book from Arktos Media documents the role of these cults in politics form Jacobinism to the present.
If you’re open to previewing of your book, can I ask what’s the bottom line with Freemasonry, Rosicrucianism, and Illuminati, and how do their activties fit with this counter-initiation idea? I scoffed at all of it for years and years until I realized that a number of powerful people who inflicted severe damage on Western civilization were Freemasons.
The Left Hand Path may be defined as,
Essentially, the left-hand path is the path of nonunion with the objective universe. It is the way of isolating consciousness within the subjective universe and, in a state of self-imposed psychic solitude, refining the soul or psyche to ever more perfect levels. The objective universe is then made to harmonize with the will of the individual psyche instead of the other way around. Where the right-hand path is theocentric (or certainly allocentric: “other-centered”), the left-hand path is psychocentric, or soul/self-centered. Those within the left-hand path may argue over the nature of this self/ego/soul, but the idea that the individual is the epicenter of the path itself seems undisputed. An eternal separation of the individual intelligence from the objective universe is sought in the left-hand path. This amounts to an immortality of the independent self-consciousness moving within the objective universe and interacting with it at will.
It is incorrect to say that the LHP is based on Hedonism. Antinomianism would be a more precise term.
Why would ANYONE want to unleash “The Great Old Ones” upon the Earth and humanity? There is absolutely NOTHING to be gained from it! Methinks that these groups and individuals who profess this desire, are nothing more than poseurs, revelling in being the ultimate in “bad”, but without falling foul of the ideological gate keepers.
If they REALLY want chaos and unrestrained brutality, why don’t they go and live in Haiti or Iraq?
Mike , That about sums it up. Rationalised psychopathy applied to religion, like bolshevism is rationalised psychopathy applied to politics.
Lew, Mansonry and the many cults and teachings derived therefrom see their mission to be the creation of a universal republic or alternatively a messianic universal kingdom, ususally based on the claim of having mandates from ancient Orders of elder brothers guiding the welfare of humanity. As Guenon and Evola pointed out, anti-tradition incorporates subversive movements such such Jacobinism in the service of Counter Tradition. Or, to put it briefly, anti-Tradition might advocate secularism or atheism or deism for the pourpose of destroying traditional religions, to be replaced by the new religious creeds of Counter Traditionalists, who are not atheists or secularists. Examples were the Cults of the Goddess of Reason and of Nature that were created under Jacobinism on the ruins of the Church, complete with their own liturgies, rites and baptisms. Mexico under Calles did the same.
The influence of Masonry on the present, for e.g. can be seen in the creation of the European Union, which is really ‘ Anti-Europe’, stemming from the aims of Count Kalergi, a Mason, who was funded by the US Warburgs and by Rothschilds. Masonry boasts of its role in creating the EU and in particular the secularist basis of ‘Europe’.
A drawback with may books and the plethora of internet material on such subjects, is the unreliability of many claims, and overly broad assumptions and exaggerations. These cults are however sufficiently prideful of their achievements to enable one to draw conclusions based on reliable documentation. The Axis and the Church were right to see them as foes.
In an occult journal (forget the name), Gerald Suster wrote a long review of the work of Kenneth Grant. He concluded with a quote from Grant about Insect Scientists from another dimension taking over the Earth. He then had the temerity to ask why this would be desireable. This little question applies to all Grant’s work – and the rest of them as well. These entitites (if real) are demonic or qliphoth to use the Kabbalistic Term. In no wise are they to be embraced by Man or the Earth. Great Adepts may have to deal with them, but that is all. Suster ended his review with a “Non Serviam” in relation to any of the denizens from the “Mauve Zone”.
From the point of view of the Traditions, none of this is desireable. The Occult should be part of a given Tradition and not by itself outside of it. The Occult flourishes like this when a Culture breaks up. It happened not just to the Jews but also the ancient Egyptians and to a smaller extent, the Greeks. Obviously Christianity, being extremely focused on Love and Theology, always had a problem with secret knowledge and banished this aspect to the extreme fringes. The other Traditions typically had a more graceful relationship with these things.
If you can understand what the heck Grant was on about, congratulations. I found him not only convoluted, but with a tendency to coin his own words , making what he writes even more obscure.
Why? Because Wilbur Whateley knows best, that’s why!
Good summary of the lunacy. Most of it utter fantasy; to the extent it is real, utterly evil. I’ve read some of Grant and his perversion of Crowley (himself questionable in some respects) is complete.
Lovecraft was a great writer and White Nationalist. Perhaps he was trying to warn of the coming madness via these stories. My favorite is the one about Innsmouth. White Americans don’t seem completely human anymore and even their physcial shape is begining to alter. On that note, why do so many Jewish Women have trouble talking without sluring their voices? It’s almost as if they were wearing an inner mask….
And White Women have gone beyond up talk to actually growling in their speech. Man is something to be surpassed? White men are less inventive, merely grunting in imitation of their dark skinned replacements. Man is something to be surpassed? Sure, but up or down?
And maybe the surpassing would be natural if “Man” was first lived fully in all his aspects and faculties? As the Sikh Saint Kirpal Singh said, Finding God is not hard, but being fully human is.
Good article, Kerry. What do you think of the possibility of a future White Nationalist religion based on the esoteric teachings of Miguel Serrano and Savitri Devi?
Europeans are already divided enough without formulating a new religion. It’s been tried with Creativity, some versions of Odinism, Aryan Nations…
Catholicism its intrinsic to the Western High Culture and to many national-cultures that are nothing if not Catholic. Likewise with Orthodoxy in regard to Russia and the Russian soul whose destiny is yet to be fulfiled.
Serrano, with whom I had communication, and savitri Devi wanted to make a religious cult out of Hitlerism. No thanks. Hitler undertook some fundamental and laudable reforms in regard to banking , ethical socialism, public health and welfare, and ecology. So did the NZ Labour Government of the 1930s. Credit where it’s due, but not a subject for religious veneration.
Is Jung one of your pantheon of White Thinkers? The Enemy thought him so. Sigmund told the other Black Magicians that Jung would bring the Gentiles to them, but he double crossed them and told them to honor their own Culture and Being. But was he racially aware?
Jay Sherry’s book, Carl Gustav Jung: Avant-Garde Conservative (Palgrave Macmillan, 2010), has this significant passage (pp. 82-83):
“It was with Reichl rather than his regular Zurich publisher Rascher that Jung brought out in 1928 The Relationship Between the Ego and the Unconscious, a greatly expanded version of a work that first appeared in 1916 as The Structure of the Unconscious. The most significant addition to this work appears in his discussion of the collective psyche. ‘[A collective attitude] means a ruthless disregard not only of individual differences but also of differences of a more general kind within the collective psyche itself, as for example differences of race.’ Jung elaborated on this statement in a footnote where he identified the following races: Aryan, Semitic, Hamitic, and Mongolian. This indicates that Jung had adopted racial categories current in the German-speaking world that were at variance with those generally accepted in the Anglo-American world. To appreciate what Jung was getting at, an accurate translation of the footnote’s first sentence is necessary. ‘Thus it is a quite unpardonable mistake if we accept the conclusions of a Jewish psychology as generally valid!’ (‘So ist es ein ganz unverzeihlicher Irrtum, wenn wir die Ergebnisse einer jüdischen Psychologie fur allgemeingültig halten!’) The English translation found in the versions of 1928 and the Collected Works differs from this in two significant ways: the exclamation point is replaced by a period and the ‘we’ disappears. This manipulation blunts what was intended to be a highly emotional wake-up call to his readers. He went on to say that ‘with the beginning of racial differentiation essential differences are developed in the collective psyche as well. For this reason we cannot transplant the spirit of a foreign race in globo into our own mentality without sensible injury to the latter . . .’ Involvement with other systems is then not merely an intellectual mistake but an invitation to injury as well. As we have seen, Jung had for ten years been articulating in public and in private his conviction that Freudian psychology had to be understood in racial terms.”
Given that Freudianism is Jewish, it should be understood in both racial terms (i.e. as a product of Jewish psychology) and anti-racial terms (i.e. as a weapon against the goyim).
Ah interesting. Wasn’t sure that he knew. I’ll have to look into it, perhaps order The Aryan Christ book. I know just from the title that it’s opposed but so what. I’ve learned alot about White Nationalism from the Enemy. They are so confident now in our conditioning that they tell the Truth as a reinforcer. Lying by telling the Truth – no mean feat. The best Black Magic of all.
Jung was a Conservative in the positive and traditional sense of the word. What little I know of him – considering the vastness of his works – he continues to have a lot to offer in the development of Rightist thinking. His theories on the inheritance of archetypes of the collective – folkish – unconscious – are valuable.
Perhaps the time has come to wrest him away from all the psycho-babblers and restore him to a place of honor. We will need a Psychology after all.
Thanks to Kerry Bolton for an excellent analysis of what is usually dealt with on the most superficial levels, if at all.
An excellent perspective on Lovecraft’s understandings might be found in the works of Colin Wilson, who someone said apparently devised an entire series of Rites around the Cthulu Mythos; well-informed, deeply considered Rites.
The issue remains that most experiments in esoteric arts are the functional equivalent of children sticking their fingers in the sockets of electric bulbs. In the case of Lovecraft and the Cthulu Mythos, it would seem we see what we seem to see in many instances of schizophrenia, a misfired Initiation, usually a self-Initiation.
We now resume your regular programming, already in progress.
Speaking of the LHP, interested parties would do well to obtain a copy of Stephen Flowers’ book Lords of the Left Hand Path.
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