I am just returning to work after a long holiday weekend. As I write this it is the infamous X-Day of the Church of the SubGenius, a group of which I am still permanently a part of yet completely out of touch with. The Church of the SubGenius has evolved past what it once was in the early 90s when I joined. They were more esoteric, they were stranger, more 'wrong' somehow. They were my gateway drug into Chaos Magic and seeing the world magically, of applying literature and metaphor to the world around me in such a way that it becomes enchanted and I, myself, become the enchanter.
Yesterday I took the family on a trip to the Cave of the Mounds in Southern Wisconsin. It had been probably thirty-five years since I had been in that cave, it was a distant memory of when I was a child and school was still relatively enriching and fun. I wanted to take my wife and children to see this place that I remembered from so long ago. I also wanted to experience a catabasis, a descent into the underworld, and to visit what promised to be a really nice rock shop.
Something happened on the way there that I cannot shake, it sort of marked the trip for me, which I'll admit I thought I was reaching to connect the dots to make an enchanted journey. I thought that maybe this was significant but probably it was just a trip with the family and that the mundane necessarily has to sit along side magical reality, for if everything is magic, then what is the difference from the drudgeon's toil?
On the way there, driving on I-90 between Milwaukee and Madison, far down a hill at the side of the freeway, at seventy miles an hour, I caught a brief glimpse of Death. Not the grim reaper, or a flash of my life or those inevitable thoughts of being crushed in oncoming traffic but a glimpse of the Death that graces trump number thirteen in every Tarot deck. Down the hill, against a barbed wire fence, a skeleton stood inexplicably, dressed in a plaid shirt, his right hand in the air waving hello, a grin across his skullish visage. I can't shake it, it was so random and so poignant and so much like the archetype that had actually revealed itself reversed in my personal reading for this particular cycle.
I wasn't playing this game, the one Michael Hughes talks about it on his visit on the Rune Soup podcast, a game where you look for the major arcana in your life as a way to get to know them better, to understand them more intuitively. He mentions that when the archetype actually reveals itself it bowls you over with its intensity and strangeness. I wasn't playing his game but that is what this was.
That was the first thing, the second was driving through Mount Horeb, Wisconsin. I grew up near to this area but had never visited Mount Horeb, which it turns out is the Troll Capital of the World. The minute you hit its historic downtown you begin to see them, trolls in every yard, a giant rendition of what can only be Baba Yaga's hut, more trolls, businesses named after trolls, trolls on the street signs, an enchanted landscape with small town American distinctive understated charm.
The visit to the caves was short lived. My kids decided to abort the mission about half of the way through. I resisted the change, a little, wanting to continue on the path that I set for them and we all suffered from my reticence, a bit. I have been trying to tell myself that I resisted too much and that I caused unneeded hardship, my kids whining and crying and fussing, distracting everyone from the tour for a few minutes but really, upon reflection, I changed direction pretty quickly for the person I used to be. Change is hard, even small ones, and accepting it should be celebrated and seen as progress.
Back in the gift shop early, we all picked out some rocks. I grabbed (what was probably designed to be a coaster) a disk of translucent selenite, or moonstone. I plan on using this magic technology to scry on my immediate future and to spot any astrologically-induced misfortune that might be heading my way. It's a new strategy, brought about by some of the things I learned in the Rune Soup Premium Member course on the 36 Decans. That's all I'm going to say about the course here as the monthly fee is nominal and if you are interested in how to avoid your predestined fate you just need to put cash on the barrel head and take the course yourself.
On the way back to Milwaukee, we counted an unusual amount of turkey vultures.
I was pretty excited about my moonstone scrying mirror actually, and when I got home I set about performing some ten cent research on the internet, looking for correspondences and appropriate uses. Most of what I found was pretty unhelpful. One site dug into how selenite is formed and warned me not to get it near water, which was helpful because I had planned to use it as a component in water divination. Other than that site the rest were entirely too new age to be of any interest to me. There were no threads back to the kind of magic that I practice, the older, darker more maleficent kind. I left that information search session disappointed.
The next day, I found my way (my dark, chaos magic-y way) into the moonstone, through none other than the Prince of the Amoral Cosmos himself, HP Lovecraft. I was reading the prose poem 'What the Moon Brings' for another project and everything in that short piece synced up with my experience acquiring the moonstone. There were references to how the moonlight makes the seemingly normal and mundane take on a horrific, more magical reality. The protagonist focused intently on the dead and their journey after death, where they migrate to a mighty Clive Barker-ian dream sea bathed in the yellow light of a pregnant bulging moon, the waves tipped with this light. The description of the sea and the association with the dead and ‘unknown things’, this line in particular:
"I longed for nets that I may capture them and learn from them the secrets, which the moon had brought..."
connected to the moonstone the act of scrying and speaking with spirits or demons.
The protagonist then focuses on a black condor, not dissimilar to the turkey vultures we saw on our trip back from our family-time catabasis. The condor landed on what he first imagined to be a rock but soon realized (with appropriate terror) as the dream sea peeled back that the condor was sitting on a pinnacle of a coral city of the dead, where sea worms dined gloriously on corpses. This necropolis, in turn, was only the crown of what Lovecraft referred to as an 'eikon,' a word I was unfamiliar with.
Upon investigation, eikon is used to describe a representation of a sacred personage, like a saint. This Eikon, however, was a real thing and not a depiction on wood or plaster, this is a beast miles in height, hiding just beneath the surface. The Eikon, which is the only noun Lovecraft uses to describe the horror, is shown to have hooved feet, thick black skin, and a broad forehead. In my mind's eye I see an underwater elk of epic size whose antlers are made of coral and are dressed with the corpses of every graveyard, writhing with sea-worms.
Lovecraft’s Eikon is now my moonstone spirit, it is through this terror that I will seek the voices of the dead and of other things unknown to man, petitioning them to reveal to me the obstacles in my path.