Both Sides of the Veil

FRONT MATTER

“I have frequently wondered if the majority of mankind ever pause to reflect upon the occasionally titanic significance of dreams, and of the obscure world to which they belong” - H.P. Lovecraft

I worked ahead for all my posts this entire month, researching them, planning out their proposed course, which included pulling this quote. Little did I know (but should start to suspect at this point, really) how significant this quote would be for my practice.

I think I mentioned in my post last week, that I put my daily practice on hiatus. Mainly because some of the behind-the-scenes stuff in my life wasn’t going the way I had planned or enchanted for, and I needed to take a step back to examine my practice, which is hard to do while you’re in the middle of it. At least, it is hard for me to do. Daily practice can get tiring, in fact, that is a big part of the point, the sacrifice. I had been calling out (trying to find other terms other than ‘working with’) to the planetary spirits, the decans, and a trio of saints, Barbara, Cyprian, and Santa Muerte, but for two weeks now no candle has been lit and no incantations uttered.

It was Sunday night or Monday morning, when I had the dream. I was in a house, a cabin maybe, it was rustic and not a place I had been before. You know, those kinds of houses that you visit in a dream, or landscapes, they seem familiar but strange at the same time. I had the sense that I was in that house because I was ghost hunting. I walked from a furnitureless middle room into a living room. There was an old console television with pictures on top of it, and a ratty chair. It was not a big space. There was a hallway to a closed front door leading off of the living room. I don’t recall any windows and every surface seemed to be made of wood. My attention was drawn to the pictures. There was one, a portrait of a man that frankly, no one had any business taking a picture of. He was a sailor and I saw his first name on the frame; ‘Boone’. My dreamself knew that was the spirit in the home.

I had a ball, or a piece of foam, and knew that a particular part of the house, down the hall by the front door, was a trigger point for paranormal activity. I walked out of the living room back into the middle room and threw the ball down the hallway. It hovered in mid-air and was kicked back to me. I repeated this a few times and then, maybe bored, maybe seeking a stronger point of contact, I called the spirit in the place out by the name I had seen on the picture frame. I demanded that he appear.

The entire house responded. The walls, doorframes, wood panels and flooring, began to tilt to shake with a terrifying ferocity. I was genuinely petrified. Standing there, trying to maintain my bearings in the tilting crooked shifting reality of the place, I felt an arm and hand reach out and grab my left arm. It grabbed it again and again and my terror reached the point that I was more animal than man, at which point I tried to bite the phantom hand that kept grabbing me.

That is when I woke up, as my wife pulled her hand away from my dream bite in the real. We laughed a lot about it later. She rolled her eyes at ‘another ghost dream’, not in a, I-don’t-believe-you way but a why-you-haz-so-many-of-these way, if that makes sense. She said she was used to getting bit by our two year old, who is teething now.

Laying in bed right after the dream I tried to make sense of it. At first I connected it to our own house, thinking maybe there was a spirit there, a local in-the-place spirit trying to make contact. But then, later, the spirit’s name popped back up, I had heard it before, in a Rune Soup Premium Member Q+A cable. I don’t recall the question, only Gordon White uttering the phrase ‘Oh, poor Bune.’ The memory sent me down the rabbit hole and I discovered (rediscovered, idk at this point) the Goetic Spirit by the name of Bune. 

Bune, for those that are like I was, and are not versed in the what and who of this spirit, Bune is a spirit mentioned in the Lesser Key of Solomon. She is described as appearing as a three headed dragon, with the heads being that of a griffon, a man, and a dog, or as a man, or as a woman. More importantly, Bune is the Lord of the Graveyard and co-opts the spirits of the dead, turning them into demons to do his (or the magician’s) bidding. That part stuck with me right away. Saint Cyprian and Santa Muerte are both in that same sphere of influence. I had recently done a lot of work over Halloween and into the month of November trying to repair what I felt was a relationship with the dead that I had damaged. It seems rational (magico-rational) that this work trying to heal my general relationship with the dead and trying to heal or fix the after-life lives of some close family members, could have attracted Bune to me or lined me up with his sphere of influence.

Bune’s alignment wasn’t the only magically adjacent thing that happened with me this week either. In the US, this is Thanksgiving week, and as such the wife and I packed the kids into the car and made the two and a half hour sojourn to the area where I grew up to have a country meal. We had a grand time, as always, at my brother Mike’s compound, which is situated about five miles from the farm I grew up on. After dinner, for literally the first time since my grandmother died in 2002, I felt comfortable enough to take the wife and kids, as the sun was setting on fields still being picked, the quick hop over the Pecatonica River to the family farm. The house I grew up in is no longer there, replaced by a very nice and functional machine shed by my uncle who now owns and works the land. I saw lights on and some heads bobbing back and forth so I pulled in. The result was a second visit with my uncle whom I hadn’t seen in person since maybe my wedding and meeting two great young cousins of mine, his grandkids. My uncle, almost immediately, had my daughter in the cab of a tractor and within minutes her gleeful five year old self was steering the John Deer front loader out across some empty fields. We stayed and chatted, my boy got absolutely covered in dirt, it was super. I think that my ancestor work had a lot to do with this. The house up the hill, now dark and uninhabited for years, is where I am convinced my grandparents still are. The chances that my uncle and his grandkids would be working on Thanksgiving is actually pretty good and if you are from a farm community you know this is fact, but what placed them there, in that shed, right by the road I was just sight seeing on? I’m going to say that’s evidence of the spirit world at work. 

We actually talked about building bridges between the living (and aging) members of the family quite a bit and I came away from the visit with a part of my heart lit that had been dark for quite awhile. I’m taking away from that experience that it is just as important to connect with family (real, inherited, or chosen) as it is with ancestors tooling about the after-life. I am thinking now, after that visit, that those two pieces of work — the healing of connections with family in this life and connecting with ancestors in the afterlife — are two sides of the same coin.

There has also been a lot of talk in my cohort revolving around American Indians and Mound Builders and generally the localized pre-historical ghost forest of the Americas. I have some experience with the local American Indian community in Milwaukee, and wanted to say a bit about how to make connections to these spirits. If you are magically operant or adjacent and you, admirably, seek to make contact with, appease, or otherwise engage with the spirits-of-place in your area that are the in-the-real ancestors of American Indians walking around today, I want to encourage you to follow the same model I have found to work with my family (on both sides of the veil). If you are seeking out abandoned Indian Mounds, leaving water or tobacco or squash or other offerings, make an effort to flip that coin over and also reach out to the living American Indian community in your area. Volunteer at a Native American church, attend some Pow Wows, find some craft fairs, buy some gas, chips, and venison at a reservation gas station. Don’t just work with the dead, but make connections to their family in-the-real as well. I think you’ll find that your work on both sides of the veil will be that much more rewarding.

IMBRICATIONS 

This week’s imbrications are all fairly straight-forward magical intersections with our Lovecraft tale and my own magical adjacencies. The first was pointed out to me on the Rune Soup Premium Member forums when I asked an open question about resources for working with Bune. I really learned to appreciate both community and extended friends and family in a much deeper way this week, which is pretty much a sea-change as I’m a inveterate introvert. The first resource I was pointed to was this really insightful reading and interpretation of Bune from Alkistis Dimech of Scarlet Imprint.

 

Now I wouldn’t say I am 100% aligned with this interpretation, I think it might go a bit too far across the occult correspondence table for my liking (the reason I don’t want to go that direction, btw, is because that was all the magic I used to manage, charts and correspondence and no real practice, this is nothing against Alkistis fine essay). What did pop out, however, was her alignment of Bune with the sea (her representative in my dream was a dead sailor) and especially where she goes into how Bune uses terror as an initiation. The fact that I had never heard this essay prior to my dream and all the elements that lined up between them had a profound effect on me.

The second imbrication comes from Trey Spruance of Secret Chiefs 3 (and formerly the lead guitar for the late great Mr. Bungle). He recently collaborated with the Kronos Quartet and I’ve shared the Soundcloud file below. I consider this an imbrication due to my long standing fanboydom of Secret Chiefs 3. They were probably one of the first musical manifestations of the magical aesthetic that I was introduced to. Normally, Trey brings a real Djinn / Sumerian feel to his work (accompanied by Hellbilly Surfrock and other [read: pretty much all] musical genres) but this composition crosses over into a ceremonial magic adjacency, with the second movement being a type of invocation of Baphomet. Check it out below.

Our third and final imbrication is, at the very least, something every magically adjacent individual needs to see. It is Dr. Dean Radin’s latest presentation on the study of magic and its alignment with the past 150 years of psi-research. Lovecraft was, and especially in the tale we are going to examine, one of the first to make the ancient alien / occult / ceremonial magic / cutting edge tech connections in his weird fiction. Watch this one through to the end. I wasn't able to embed this one, so click on Dr. Radin's pic to be taken to the Slideslive site.

COSMIC WORD-PICTURES

This week’s Lovecraft tale is Beyond the Wall of Sleep. An early layering of technology and ultra-dimensional occult entities by Lovecraft. The protagonist is one Joe Slater, a denizen of the back country, a citizen of a loose cohort of neighbors and kin. To reiterate the quote from the beginning of the post, the unnamed narrator of the tale states:

“I have frequently wondered if the majority of mankind every pause to reflect upon the occasionally titanic significance of dreams, and of the obscure world to which they belong.”

At this point it is clear that this entire post was set in motion and revolves around the significance of dreams, dreams of my grandmother that resulted in my necromantic power-ups and now, possibly, that power-up and my chattering at two other necromantic folk heroes has put the Goetic spirit Bune on my scent. Beyond the Wall of Sleep, among other things, is a tale of journeying. It is described by Lovecraft, the first instance that sent the good Ol’ Boy Joe Slater down the mountain and into the hands of the local sanitarium:

“One day near noon, after a profound sleep begun in a whiskey debauch… the man had roused himself most suddenly… rushing out into the snow, he had flung his arms aloft and commenced a series of leaps directly upward in the air; the while shouting his determination to reach some ‘big, big cabin with brightness in the roof and walls and floor, and the loud queer music far away.”

his is a curious excerpt that makes me think of how, when journeying, we are given more than we can understand and that our minds, as is the theme in Lovecraft, often interpret, redefine, or rephrase what we are given in a journey. We have incredible magical potential as humans but are limited by our materialist conditioning, by our culture, and our religion. I think is true for Lovecraft's 'rustics' as well as the educated, encultured, or seasoned magician. 

There is also described a spirit entity antagonist, named only as 'The Thing That Shines and Shakes and Laughs'.

We will come back to her.

Pulling a bit harder on the journeying silver cord, we find this short description of the world that Slater visits in his dreams:

“great edifices of light, oceans of space, strange music, and shadowy mountains and valleys”

 

I quite like this as this simple sentence could be used to focus and begin a journeying session on, offering us some very usable Lovecraftian magical tech. 

As one would expect in an analysis of Lovecraft, there are multiple layers of meaning here, it isn’t just a tale about journeying. Take for instance the below sentence:

“The alienists soon agreed that abnormal dreams were the foundation of the trouble; dreams whose vividness could for a time completely dominate the waking mind of this basically inferior man.”

Unpacking this sentence we see several things, that Lovecraft is writing not from a place of superiority, for he writes the alienists as essentially clueless when it comes to the true nature of the man's visions. He is also reapplying the trope that those of 'rustic' mind, the others, those not part of civilized society, are in fact the ones that are in touch with universal consciousness.

And then we are given a glimpse of some more of Lovecraft’s particular brand of Steampunk technology, along with some fairly intuitive theorizing on the nature of thought and mind:

“It had long been my belief that human thought consists basically of atomic or molecular motion, convertible into ether waves of radiant energy like heat, light, and electricity. This belief had early led me to contemplate the possibility of telepathy of mental communication by means of suitable apparatus, and I had in my college days prepared a set of transmitting and receiving instruments somewhat similar to the cumbrous devices employed in wireless telegraphy at that crude, pre-radio period. These I had tested with a fellow student; but achieving no result had soon packed them away with other scientific odds and ends…”

There is a solid imbrication here with the movie, City of Lost Children, as the dream reading apparatus described in ‘Beyond’ and shown to us in CoLC are one and the same.

the-city-of-lost-children-credit-canal.jpg

We are also given a specific date, the 21st of February. This is the day that the human counterpart of Joe Slater meets his end and contact is made with an extra-dimensional being. February 21st, The Feast Day of Joe Slater, should be observed through practicing some form of journeying and a celebration of the folk wisdom of the Appalachia or similar areas in other parts of the world. Those places you have to pass a sign that states something along the lines of ‘Pavement Ends’ in order to reach.

The day after the Feast Day of Joe Slater, February 22nd, is also mentioned as significant in the end of ‘Beyond’:

“On Febuary 22, 1901, a marvellous new star was discovered by Dr. Anderson, of Edinburgh, not very far from Algol. No star had been visible at that point before. Within twenty-four hours the stranger had become so bright that it outshone Capella. In a week or two it had visibly faded, and in the course of a few months it was hardly discernible with the naked eye.”

This event actually occurred on the 21st as well. The astronomer, Thomas D. Anderson was the first recorded as noticing what is now known as nova GK Persei. This star’s explosion connects this story and our tech to the distant past, the year 367 AD, to be exact. This is the year where what is known as ‘The Great Conspiracy’ took place, setting in motion a year long state of war in Roman controlled Britain that ended their occupation of the island and brought Saxon, Pict, and Caledonian culture to Britain, Scotland, and Ireland. If, on the Feast Day of Joe Slater, you are looking for some more material to fuel your journeying’s magical aesthetic, you can try with the first novel in Stephen R. Lawhead’s Pendragon Cycle, Taliesin, which folds in the fall of Atlantis and the events set in motion by the Great Conspiracy. It is also worth noting that Nova GK Persei, or the Thing That Was Once Joe Slater, was pursued and tormented by The Thing That Shines and Shakes and Laughs. Given the Nova’s location in the sky when it occurred, it can be extrapolated that Joe Slater’s extra-dimensional antagonist is none other than the Demon Star, Algol. If we are to believe (and I do) the work and theories of Peter Mark Adams in the Game of Saturn surrounding this star, the Feast Day of Joe Slater takes on an incredible new complexity in our magical calendar.

The Thing That Shines and Shakes and Laughs is also our archetype when we map this tale to the tarot. Using her reversed form, we find that the Queen of Coins is an excellent map for Lovecraft’s representation of Algol as the Thing that Shines and Shakes and Laughs. Etteilla gave her reversed form the key phrase ‘Mal Certain’. This is a bit difficult for me to translate, as I normally rely on the babelfish to do this and I might have stuck my pink towel a bit too far down my ear canal the last time I showered, as it didn’t spit out anything coherent.

That doesn’t stop a linguist, however, so I broke it into its two components, ‘Bad’ and ‘Certain’. The term ‘bad’ was rare before 1400, when evil was a more common term, which tells us that ‘bad’ is a synonym of evil, or at least it was. It has since lost its potency. ‘Bad’, in the 15th c. context means ‘wicked’, ‘evil’, ‘visions’, and ‘counterfeit’. Joe Slater was, in the end, considered a counterfeit human version of the entity that was forced to dream itself as a human throughout Slater’s young life. If we use this same logic, Algol has or did have a human form somewhere on the planet, I’d like to think of Algol as a Victorian era woman who nightly dreamt of being one of the most powerful interstellar demons in the sky. 

The term ‘Certain’, from the same period means ‘determined’, ‘fixed’, and ‘settled’. In Old French, it is the past participle of ‘decide’, which maps back to ‘sift’, ‘separate’, or ‘to sieve’. ‘Certain’ is also related to the Greek word ‘krisis’, which means a ‘turning point’, or a ‘judgement’. If we look again at the Great Conspiracy we can see this as a turning point for Britain and British magic, which then saw an influx of the myth, lore, and tech of the barbarous tribes that overran the inheritors of Alexandria.

We can view the Queen of Coins as a representation of ‘A Fixed Evil’, which suits her astronomical manifestation of Algol, the demon star. Her traditional reversed definition  suggests a lack of self-sufficiency, vulnerability, shyness, and barriers to realizing ones potential. I’d like to think that when we apply our Lovecraftian magic to this definition, that The Thing That Shines and Shakes and Laughs is an archetype that can help the magician break through her barriers and realize her full potential as she paints cosmic word-pictures on both sides of the veil that separates the real and spirit manifestations of life on our planet and beyond.