I have begun experimenting with digital audio ritual aids this week. It comes out of necessity. I have been experiencing some cascading prosperity sigil effects from back when I first started doing sigils properly around a year and a half ago. The, maybe, side effects, of these prosperity sigils have been a steep increase to the amount of responsibility and intellectually taxing projects at work.
Now, I used to live in a different world. As I was putting myself through college at night I worked as a boiler operator and a facility engineer. This was a much different pace to working in a professional architecture office as an information professional. From what I have been able to discern, architects are by and large workaholics and put in obscene amounts of hours. I bit I have held on to the tightest from my past life is the skilled tradesman’s attitude towards the amount of hours put in during a week. If there were more than forty (this is in the US, where forty is the standard) then you were compensated extra for your time. Your time was valued. Now, as a Schwa-vian Office Drone when you put in more hours than you are paid for, you effectively devalue yourself. Any bulldada about how you are furthering your career by bringing more value to the company, even the best company (and the one I work for is pretty OK) is just so much fertilizer in the 21st c. Thusly, I don’t do it. Which, in the wake of this extra work generated by my prosperity sigils (I mean, the jump in responsibility and intensity from what I was doing before is so improbable, it can only be the result of magic) maintaining my personal constraints on working on work outside of the office has been difficult. Even when off my mind tends to wander to these intellectual challenges and off of what is important, like family and magic and writing for y’all. Hence this newest experiment.
I get up between 4 and 4:30 AM every morning and normally I would listen to a podcast for coffee and then commit sometime to daily magic. That time in the morning has been cut short and I’ve been finding myself in the office earlier (because arriving before all the humans and focusing on these projects in the early morning is infinitely more palatable to me) which cuts into the passive occult podcast learning and actual practice. That is where the experiment comes in.
I am trying to combine the hour or so that I normally listen to podcasts with magical practice. I have started recording my dawn invocations of planetary spirits (mostly from the PGM and Clavicula) and then instead of the occult podcast, I pop in the airpods and focus on my own invocations (backed with some looped ambience from Naturespace [an excellent iOS app]. I found that I was able to carry with me a sense of ritual into the day, as well. This past Thursday and Friday I kept up the looping invocation as I was driving to work and then while I was at work as long as I was doing something mind-numbing. I also used the same for preparing to enter the Dreamlands at night before bed. The effect of this constant brain-feed of invocations dedicated to the day’s spirits has been pretty powerful. I am able to really focus and deconstruct what the invocation is saying to the Celestial Spirit, what I am saying to the Spirit. Bits of them have started to lodge in my memory and my imagination has been better able to build visualizations around them (like Hermes’ as the Ethiopian Dog-Faced Baboon).
Friday night, after dosing with 1 mg of melatonin (for the first time since my kids were born, really) I feel into sleep with the invocation playing in my ears and had the first fairly intense and memorable dream I’ve had in months. When I awoke however, around 1:30 AM, with the recording still playing, I could tell things were off. There was a shadowy hulk in the corner of the room and my own voice whispering in my ear was being interpreted by my brain as decidedly threatening and terrifying. That isn’t a deterrent for me, at least where magic is concerned. Rather, being on the borders of an initiatory space (initiation by nightmare) only encourages me to keep up the experiment.
As mentioned, I have been pulling my daily invocations, when I can, from the PGM. This takes a bit of research, but it can be done. There are two that I am baking into the experiment discussed above that are particularly relevant to the theme of this week’s Lovecraft tale, archetypes of the Divine Feminine. They are PGM IV. 2785-2890, the Prayer to Selene for any spell (mapped to Monday and the moon as the celestial sphere for that day) and PGM IV. 2891-2942 the Offering to the Star of Aphrodite (which maps to Friday, the day for Venus). Let’s take a look at these in turn, beginning with Selene:
“PGM IV. 2785-2890
Prayer to Selene for any spell
‘Come to me, O beloved mistress, three-faced Selene; kindly hear my sacred chants; Night’s ornament, young, bringing light to mortals, O child of morn who ride upon fierce bulls, O queen who drive your car on equal course with Helios, who with the triple form Of triple Graces dance in revel with the stars. You are justice and the Moira’s threads: Klotho and Lachesis and Atropos. Three-headed, you’re Persephone, Megaira, Allekto, many-formed, who arm your hands with dreaded, murky lamps, who shake your locks of fearful serpents on your brow, who sound the roar of bulls out from your mouths, whose womb is decked out with the scales of creeping things, with pois’nous rows of serpents down the back, bound down your backs with horrifying chains.
Night-crier, bull-faced, loving solitude, bull-headed, you have eyes of bulls, the voice of dogs; you hide your forms in shanks of lions [Note: This is Cybele], Your ankle is wolf-shaped, fierce dogs are dear to you, wherefore they call you Hekate, many-named, Mene, cleaving air just like Dart-shooter Artemis, Persephone, Shooter of deer, night shining, triple-sounding, triple-headed, triple-voiced Selene. Triple-pointed, triple-faced, triple-necked, and goddess of the triple ways, who hold untiring flaming fire in triple baskets, and you who oft frequent the triple way and rule the triple decades, unto me whom’m calling you be gracious and with kindness give heed, you who protect the spacious world at night, before whom daimons quake in fear and gods immortal tremble, goddess who exalt men, you of many names, who bear fair offspring, bull-eyed, horned, mother of gods and men, and nature, mother of all thing, for you frequent Olympos, and the broad and boundless chasm you traverse. Beginning and end are you, and you alone rule all. For all things are from you, and in you do all things, eternal one, come to their end.
As everlasting band around your temples you wear great Kronos’ chains, unbreakable and unremovable, and you hold in your hands a golden scepter. Letters ‘round your scepter, Kronos wrote himself and gave to you to wear that all things stay steadfast: Subduer and subdued, mankind’s subduer, and force-subduer; Chaos, too, you rule.
Hail, goddess, and attend your epithets, I burn for you this spice, O child of Zeus, Dart-shooter, heavn’ly one, goddess of harbors, who roam the mountains, goddess of crossroads, o nether and nocturnal, and infernal, goddess of dark quiet and frightful one, O you who have your meal amid the graves, Night, Darkness, broad Chaos: Necessity, hard to escape are you, you’re Moira and Erinys, torment, Justice and Destroyer, and you keep Kerberos in chains, with scales of serpents are you dark, O you with hair of serpents, serpent-girded, who drink blood, who bring death and destruction, and who feast on hearts, flesh eater, who devour those dead untimely, and you who make grief resound and spread madness, come to my sacrifices, and now for me do you fulfill this matter!
Offer myrrh, sage, frankincense, the pit of a stone fruit for doing good. For doing harm, offer the hair of a dog or a goat.’
To protect oneself against Selene: Take a lodestone and carve a three-faced image of Hekate, the middle face be a maiden with horns, the left face a dog, and the right face a goat. Clean with sea salt and water, and make a food offering, saying the same spell above.”
My digital invocatory programming experiment has, after just two days, honed my attention to the words being spoken in these invocations to a order of magnitude higher than it was previous to the experiment. It isn’t only the imagery, such as the bull and the three headed goddess, but the correspondences offered here in this PGM spell. What does it mean when Selene’s form is layers on top of Persephone’s and Artemis’? Or that she wears Kronos’ chain about her head like a laurel. How is she related to the spirit that rules over Saturday? How do the two daily invocations tunnel between each other? What of this image: ‘whose womb is decked out with the scales of creeping things, with pois’nous rows of serpents down the back, bound down your back with horrifying chains.’ To me, this is at once an layering of the Gorgon Medusa and imagery straight out of Clive Barker’s Hellraiser films (the first and second one, you know, the one’s that were actually terrifying and beautiful).
This powerful and alien mix of imagery is one of the primary reasons that I prefer the PGM over, say, the Clavicula or the Hygromantiea’s daily invocations. These are based on the power of words and have had the imaginal stripped out of them to some extent.
Friday’s invocation is a bit less on the alien imagery and, truth be told, I’ve adapted it slightly for a more universal feel, taking out some of the love spell language. I believe this is a valid move, especially now after exploring Saint Hildegard’s philosophy towards the greening of language and last week’s theorizing on the book as spirit-form. Let’s take a look at the invocation as I have adapted it:
“PGM IV. 2891-2942
Offering to the star of Aphrodite [Venus]
Wormwood and Myrrh burnt on coals. Also useful is a tooth from a donkey or heifer tied to one’s left arm.
‘But, if as goddess you in slowness act, you will not see Adonis rise from Hades, straightway I’ll run and bind him with steel chains; as guard, I’ll bind on him another wheel of Ixion, no longer will he come to light, and he’ll be chastised and subdued.
Wherefore, O Lady, act, I beg. Come with rapid step to my door, me, NN, whom NN bore, and to the bed of love, driven by frenzy, In anguish from the forceful goads today, at once, quickly, for I adjure you Kythere!
NOUMILLON BIOMBILLON AKTIOPHI ERESCHIGAL NEBOUTOSOUALETH PHROUREXIA THERMIDOCHE BAREO NE
O foam-born Kythereia, mother of both gods and men, etherial and chthonic, all-Mother Nature, goddess unsubdued, who hold together things, who cause the great fire to revolve, who keep the ever-moving BARZA in her unbroken course; and you accomplish everything, from head to toes, and by your will is holy water mixed, when by your hands you’ll move RHOUZO amid the stars, the world’s midpoint which you control. You move boldy desire into the souls of men and move women to man, and you render woman desirable to man.
Through all the days to come, our Goddess Queen, come to these chants, Mistress
ARRORIPHRASI GOTHETINI Cyprus-born, SOUI ES THNOBOCHOU THORITHE STHENEPIO, Lady SERTHENEBEEI!’
So that for me, NN, whom NN bore, [Insert demand], blessed RHOUZO, grant this to me, NN: Just as into your chorus mid the stars a man unwilling you attracted to your bed, and once he was attracted, he at once began to turn great BARZA, nor did he cease turning, and while moving in his circuits, he’s aroused, Cyrpus-born goddess, do you now fully fulfill this chant.
Perform at night under an open sky and look up at this point, searching for a steadily shining star lengthened like a length of a flame. If you see this phenomenon, your will is done”
Right away there are two bits on this Friday invocation that I love, the first ‘O foam-born Kythereia, mother of both gods and men, etherial and chthonic…’ fits Venus into the Lovecraftian Magical aesthetic so well in a way that her invocations from 15th - 17th c. grimoires just can’t muster. Anytime Lovecraft places his tales near the sea there is discussion of the sea foam. Also, her name here, Kythereia and how it gives her dominion of the cthonic, adds richness to what I’ve always seen as a fairly two-dimensional celestial archetype whose job was only to ‘stir the heart.’ The second bit I really like is where it states ‘by your will is holy water mixed…’ for I have always, at a deep level, syncretized the Blessed Virgin Mary with Venus. This fragment of her invocation makes that intuitive connective concrete.
Let us then, see how Lovecraft engages with the divine feminine in his tale, The Moon-Bog. Now, I have heard and read in countless places how Lovecraft does not ‘do’ women well and that when he writes them they are disempowered, outcasts, monsters even. The Moon-Bog is definitive proof that Lovecraft not only recognized how terribly powerful woman is, but The Moon-Bog is in its entirety an invocation of that power in narrative form. We begin our tale in Kilderry, Ireland in the familiar aesthetic of an old castle graced with an overlooking tower. The protagonist, an American by the name of Denys Barry, after striking it rich has decides to spend his twilight years in the home and on the property of his ancestral line.
The buying back of the ancestral home and property is a definite theme in Lovecraft’s oeuvre and likely an excellent target for Lovecraftian Magic, either targeting actual property or repossessing it in the imaginal. I can identify well with this theme myself, as I have largely lost access to the family farm I grew up on. Access could be targeted, in this case, as actual property, or in that space in my mind where my childhood exists — the later probably being the more powerful, enriching, and obtainable. This theme can extend to anyone that is from a diasporic culture or ancestry where reclaiming of ones ancestral land by an individual is even more remote a probability.
This tale is not just an invocation to the divine feminine, as we see in the next quote:
“The peasants had gone from Kilderry because Denys Barry was to drain the great bog. For all his love of Ireland, America had not left him untouched, and he hated the beautiful wasted space where peat might be cut and land opened up. The legends and superstitions of Kilderry did not move him, and he laughed when the peasants first refused to help…”
It is also a story of the genius loci, feminine spirits of place.
The tale is narrated by a close friend of Barry’s, a familiar narrative device of Lovecraft’s that has the effect of, in a way, inspiriting the narrator’s role with the reader. The theme of spirits-of-place is deepened as the narrator recalls the following:
“When I heard the fears which had driven the people from Kilderry I laughed as loudly as my friend had laughed… They had to do with some preposterous legend of the bog, and of a grim guardian spirit that dwelt in the strange old ruin on the far islet I had seen in the sunset. There were tales of dancing light in the dark of the moon, and of chill winds when the night was warm; of wraiths in white hovering over the waters, and of an imagined city of stone deep down below the swampy surface. But foremost among the weird fancies… was that of the curse awaiting him who should dare to touch or drain the [bog]…”
This tale again shows Lovecraft’s sophisticated grasp of the types of magic perpetrated by us and our ancestors. His mythos is not ‘made-up,’ but rather, an extension of very real magic that can be practiced today. Guardian spirits, spirits of place, are keenly felt by both the mage and the muggle alike
We are then given a new tome for our Lovecraftian Magical Library, the first mention in this research, the Book of Invaders:
“In the Book of Invaders it is told that these sons of the Greeks were all buried at Tallaght, but old men in Kilderry said that one city was overlooked save by its patron moon-goddess; so that only the wooded hills buried it when the men of Nemed swept down from Scythia in their thirty ships.”
The Moon-Bog is connected to Ceridwen, a new addition to our growing list of Lovecraftian Spirit-Forms. Her story can first be found in the Black Book of Carmarthen, the earliest manuscript written entirely in Welsh. Her name either means Crooked Woman [Crone] or Blessed Woman. The last portion of her name, ‘Wen,’ is often affixed to the names of female saints. She is the mother of Morfran, a hideous and powerful warrior under King Arthur, and Taliesin, the poet who authored the Book of Taliesin. Ceridwen is, one could wager, not only the goddess of rebirth, the archetype of the moon, but also a goddess of literature, a patroness of the imaginal book. She is also a quintessential witch, known for her magic cauldron, a non-human person by the name of Awen.
After having the predictable derision-laden conversation of local legends between two materialists, one hopeless, the other on-the-fence, as we’ve seen in so many other story structures during this project, our inspirited narrator carries us to bed:
“After Barry had told me these things I was very drowsy, for the travels of the day had been wearying and my host had talked late into the night. A manservant shewed me to my room, which was in a remote tower overlooking the village… and the bog… Just as I dropped to sleep I fancied I heard faint sounds from the distance; sounds that were wild and half musical, and stirred me with a weird excitement which coloured my dreams… my mind had in slumber hovered around a stately city in a green valley, where marble streets and statues, villas and temples, carvings and inscriptions, all spoke in certain tones the glory that was Greece.”
We haven’t encountered a Tower for awhile, but here is the primary Lovecraftian aesthetic playing host again to vivid dreams, journeying and contact events. The tale’s narrator muses on his vision throughout the next day, and then the very next night in the tower, the tone changes:
“that night my dreams of piping flutes and marble peristyles came to a sudden and disquieting end; for upon the city in the valley I saw a pestilence descend, and then a frightful avalanche of wooded slopes that covered the dead bodies in the streets and left unburied only the temple of Artemis on the high peak, where the aged moon-priestess Cleis lay cold and silent with a crown of ivory on her silver head.”
Adding two more new additions to the Lovecraftian pantheon. Artemis, the twin sister of Apollo and the goddess of the hunt, wild animals, and the wilderness. Artemis is as old as 4th century Babylonia and is related to the mother Goddess, in an archetypal sense, Cybele, whom we have discussed expands through time to assume the role of Saint Barbara and is deeply related to the archetype of the Tower, where our narrator is having his visions.
According to the article Artemis of Ephesus on livius.org, Artemis was:
“originally, before her cult was taken over by the Greeks, called "Artimus", and her temple - one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World - received gifts from the Lydian king Croesus (c.560-c.547). She is related to other Anatolian mother goddesses, like Cybele. The Ephesians believed that Artemis was born in Ephesus (and not on Delos, as was commonly assumed), and accepted the shrine as an asylum.note. Later, the Persians patronized the cult; the high priest was called the "Megabyxus", a Persian name that means "the one set free for the cult of the divinity". The original cult statue was made of wood, but was probably lost after the great fire of 356 BCE.”
I couldn’t find much literature on Cleis, the child of the poet Sappho, save this document entitled Beloved Cleis that examines the fragments of Sappho’s poetry. Cleis might also be Sappho’s mother, the wife of the river spirit Scamander, in which case the maternal Cleis would likely have been a river nymph. Both are equally ephemeral (at least to this researcher, I invite any expert to point out new information) and are again a testament to Lovecraft’s deep grasp of pagan mythos.
It is at this point that the narrator’s dreams in the Tower become flesh:
“I have said that I awaked suddenly and in alarm. For some time I could not tell whether I was waking or sleeping, for the sound of flutes still range shrilly in my ears; but when I saw on the floor the icy moonbeams and the outlines of a latticed Gothic window I decided I must awake and in the castle at Kilderry… Yet still there came that monotonous piping from afar; wild, weird airs that made me think of some dance of fauns on distant Maenalus…”
Maenalus is a reference to the Mainalo mountain range in Arcadia, Greece, and with the inclusion of the forested peak we have another connection to Cybele and the ancient mother goddess as an archetype. Maenalus, the mountains namesake, was a son of the Arcadian king Lycaon. Lycaon sought to test Zues’ omniscience by killing, cooking, and serving one of his children to the King of Gods. As punishment, Lycaon was turned into a wolf along with the rest of his sons, thus creating the race of the magical beings known as the werewolf.
Our narrator, once awakened in his tower of black dreams, is drawn to look out over the early twentieth century Irish landscape:
“Only by chance did I go to the north window and look out… I had no wish to gaze abroad, for I wanted to sleep; but the flutes tormented me… How could I have suspected the thing I was to behold? There in the moonlight that flooded the [bog]… To the sound of reedy pipes… there glided silently… a mixed throng of swaying figures, reeling through such a revel as the Sicilians may have danced to Demeter… under the harvest moon beside the Cyane… the shadowy moving forms… produced an effect which almost paralysed me… half of these tireless, mechanical dancers were the labourers whom I had thought asleep, whilst the other half were strange airy beings in white… wistful naiads from the haunted fountains of the bog.”
The mention of Demeter in Sicily, like the mention of Ceridwen and Sappho before them, are what mark this as a tale as definitively populated with the power and mystery of the goddess. That Lovecraft is using he bog as the metaphor, or the landscape through which the metaphor of the feminine is expressed, is highly sophisticated. The word bog fades back to the PIE root *bheug-, which means to bend, to be pliable, or to be curved. It is also related to the Old English term ‘baeg,’ the word for ring. The ring is the opposite of the phallus, a symbolic gateway to power, just as the Moon-Bog in this tale is proving to be.
This is as much a tale of the terrible power of the divine feminine as it is an allegory of the male materialist agenda to drain away that power and enslave the feminine for its own purposes.
Our narrator, shaken by the past night’s events, wants to confront his friend but is not given the opportunity due to his own latent fear of being ridiculed. The narrator, if it is Lovecraft or if it is a inspirited shell through which we experience this invocation as fiction, represents the liminal space between Materialism and Animism, the uncertainty, fear and confusion inherent in the transition or imbrication between the two. Denys Barry is the blind materialist perspective, unshaken in his convictions. We know now that this archetype in Lovecraft’s tales never meets a happy end.
We return to the tower for one final night:
“Whether the events of that night were of reality or illusion I shall never ascertain… I retired early and full of dread, and for a long time could not sleep in the uncanny silence of the tower… But before my fears cold crystallise… I had fallen asleep… Probably it was the shrill piping that awakened me… I crept to the east window and looked out whilst the maddening, incessant piping whined and reverberated through the castle and over all the village. Over the bot was a deluge of flaring light, scarlet and sinister, and pouring from the strange olden ruin on the far islet… it seemed to rise majestic and undecayed, splendid and column-cinctured, the flame-reflecting marble of its entablature piercing the sky… Trembling with a terror mixed with ecstasy I crossed the circular room to the north window from which I could see the village and the plain at the edge of the bog… on the ghastly red-litten plain was moving a procession of beings… the white-clad bog wraiths were slowly retreating toward the still waters… guided by the… piping of those unseen flutes, beckoned in uncanny rhythm to a throng of lurching laborers… I heard again the beating of the drums [on the island ruin]. Then silently and graceful the naiads reached the water and melted… into the ancient bog; while the line of followers… splashed awkwardly after them and vanished amidst a tiny vortex of unwholesome bubbles… leaving the village of doom lone and desolate in the wan beams of the new-risen moon… My condition was… one of indescribable chaos… I believe I did a ridiculous thing such as offering prayers to Artemis, Latona, Demeter, Persephone, and Plouton…”
And so once again the materialist is fully converted to paganism, animism, the magical life, what-have-you. Another nail in the coffin of the Pop Lovecraftian critique that HPL was an atheist and promoted an atheist world view. His fiction, which I would argue is significantly more important and impactful then his body of personal correspondence, clearly paints an animist landscape where the unknown forces of the universe (the Cthulhu Mythos) co-exist with the terrestrial deities of Greek, Roman, and Celtic cultures. The Moon-Bog being a significant contribution for it adds in one concentrated dose the terrific power of the crone, mother, and maiden across these pantheons into one potent and iconic feature.
Our tarot card match for The Moon-Bog is the Ace of Batons.
Etteilla offers us two keywords, ‘Chute’ or ‘fall’ as in descent or plunge and ‘Naissance’ or ‘birth’. Immediately we can see how feminine a card this is. The Fall of Man begins at the hands of women, but what is the subtext? The woman derives the knowledge of the universe, she collects for herself divine power with the aid of the fallen angel Lucifer, forever her partner afterwards for having such a primary role in creating the earthly kingdom over which he reigns. And with her knowledge of the ebbs and flows of the universe she is also born with the ability to create life, meaning we are all of us indebted to the divine feminine in a way that we can never repay.
The etymology of the word ‘fall’ connects deeply to the spell-as-fiction of The Moon Bog, stemming from the Proto-Germanic *falliz, which means ‘a sinking down,’ and the Old English ‘fealle,’ which means a ‘a snare or trap.’ This perfectly encapsulates the plot of our tale as the laborers set by the materialist archetype to exploit the Green Mother are snared by the flutes and sink to their doom. Birth has had its modern meaning since Proto-Germanic and is related to the PIE root *bher-, which means the same and is the hypothetical source for the Sanskrit ‘bharati,’ which means ‘to carry’. The second meaning of *bher- in PIE is ‘bright,’ or ‘brown’ and is connected both to the animal and polished wooden objects, which at this point in time depth are manifested as animist fetishes of the animal spirits our ancestors co-existed with.
In this second version of *bher- we can also expand into the future embodying the hypothetical source for the Greek word phryos, or ‘toad.’ The final incarnation of all those that challenged the guardian spirits-of-place of the Kilderry Bog with their materialist agenda and capitalist motivations.