It has been a solid week of preparation, the timing and space-weather alignments this week were stacked up nicely and continue through the end of the month. From a technical standpoint, I’ve been using the app Todoist and the ‘Luna’ site from Ghostly Harmless to dig into some finer timing throughout the day. Since I am focusing on wealth and prosperity magic, I’ve been setting Todoist to bring up a persistent notification on my phone whenever Jupiter’s hour hits during the day. When I get the notification, I get up from my desk, go find a quiet place, and work on wealth and prosperity sigil statements. It feels pretty right using productivity tech to further along wealth and prosperity enchantments.
I changed how I ate and drank in anticipation of the operation (that is the word the Clavicula uses, so I’m trying to adopt it into my magical vernacular). I perpetrated a Lent-ish type fast where I had coffee and broth in the morning and then just broth throughout the day. This might not be the case for everyone, but I certainly felt like I was making a sacrifice for the purposes of the operation. The Clavicula strongly reccomends fasting, and even offers a prayer to say in the morning and at night on the days you fast, but I believe the context of the Clavicula is less about the sacrifice you are making and more about purifying your body in preparation of invoking the spirits. This tracks with Dr. Skinner’s thoughts on purification and cleanliness from his appearance on the Higher Side chats. I suppose anything towards this end of being pure is good practice when trying to align with a more Solomonic shape in one’s practice.
I’ve nearly finished my first read through of the Veritable Key, the one thing that really jumped out at me was, actually, my own preconceptions of the grimoire. I had a cursory knowledge of it and, when I was younger, had copies of Mather’s work laying around but was, of course, not really serious about magic at the time. Nevertheless, I came away from those youthful forays with the distinct feeling the the Key of Solomon was wall-to-wall demon invocation. It’s not. The spirit of this grimoire is word magic, sigils, timing, prayer, and behavioral guidelines for the Solomonic magician. I’ve been thinking about how later grimoires have so much demon in them, and how the Clavicula fits in their DNA code. There is a great deal of talk about experimentation in the Clavicula and how to conduct them safely and effectively. I think the Clavicula is a type of lab manual that is to be used to set up other, more specific magical experiments. In antiquity, these experiments, working off of this lab manual, are what were codified as other grimoires.
This week begins a four week soujourn into the Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath by H.P. Lovecraft. The Dream Quest is not only one of Lovecraft’s few pieces of really long fiction, it is, ostensibly, his version of the Silmarillion. It touches nearly every other story both before and after it, allowing previous characters new afterlives in the Dreamlands of Man.
To accompany this month long meditation, I will be attempting some journeying / active imagination work along with a more aggressive practice, to further enchant the bits of reality that I touch. These active imagination sessions will at least begin in areas detailed in Lovecraft’s tale. The Dream Quest is so rich with landscapes and cosmologies, it is the perfect backdrop to take a Lovecraftian Magical Aesthetic up to the next level. Further, to clarify what I mean when I say Active Imagination, I offer the short video below from the Asheville Jung Center. I was introduced to it in the Rune Soup Premium Member Journeying Course and it made the most sense / had the most impact on my practice. I applied it early last year when walking through the Tarot Trumps via Gareth Knight’s model, which in turn led to an extended model of the structure of the tarot that I am still working out. The key that really unlocked the door for me is the dialog around surprise:
The protagonist in Dream Quest is one Randolph Carter, which you will recognize from other tales that we have wrestled with in the recent past, is a dynamic, complex character that maps to Etteilla’s ‘Le Capuchin’ Trump, or The Hermit in a more traditionally aligned tarot deck. The image on Le Capuchin is that of a monk, walking with a cane, pointing down to a dog, with a three windowed tower in the background. We will go into this symbolism at the end of the post, as has become the tradition, but I needed to point it out here so that the extended archetype of Carter makes a bit more sense.
The Capuchin’s were a subset of monks that originated from the Franciscans. The Capuchin’s, in summary, didn’t feel the Franciscan’s were monk-y or Franciscan-y enough and so went off on their own, more austere path. They wear robes, sandals, a rope around their waist, and grow great beards in direct opposition to the clean shaven convention of other Catholic priests. Essentially, they were the hipsters of their particular scene. If we extend the metaphor of Randolph Carter into Le Capuchin, and beyond, we can pull a conspiracy theorist cork board string of yarn between Randolph Carter and Saint Francis himself. Why it is important to invoke Saint Francis will become more clear as we progress through the entire exercise.
Maybe we should talk a bit about Saint Francis, so that we are all on the same page and reading the same book. That book happens to be The Golden Legend. Saint Francis’ story begins with an explanation of his name, which apparently was weird in 12th c. Italy:
“whenever he was filled with the ardor of the Holy Spirit, he burst out with ardent words in French…divine providence conferred [the name Francis] upon him, in order that by the unusual name awareness of his mystery might be spread more quickly… francais is derived from… fierceness [and] the terror he aroused in driving out demons…”
The last bit, being able to cause terror in demons, makes Francis, and by extension Carter, a very good archetype / spirit to have an open line of communication with when performing magic with a Solomonic shape. The Golden Legend continues:
“born in the city of Assisi. He bacame a merchant and, until he was twenty years old, lived a vain and frivolous life.”
So, using the same logic that associates Saint Cyprian with magicians, because that was his life prior to being saved and then martyred, Francis should be an excellent ally for matters of money, wealth, and luxury, due to this association. Pulling another red piece of yarn across the cork board, let’s make another connection to Francis’ work relationship with demonic hordes:
“The lord cardinal Leo of the Holy Cross once invited Francis to be his guest, and he stayed in his house for some time. One night demons came and gave the saint a severe beating. he called his companion and explained the thing to him” ‘The demons are the Lord’s bailiffs, whom he sends to punish excesses… it may be that he has allowed his bailiffs to attack me because the fact that I am lingering in the courts of the powerful…”
Now, I have a very limited knowledge set regarding gnosticism, but the above excerpt appears to me to have a very gnostic shape. Demons as the bailifs of the Lord fit a model where the earth is a prison and we are subject to fate and the punishment of the demiurge. The portion about ‘lingering in the courts of the powerful,’ is also intriguing. Why would he be driven from the audience of the theological elite? What did they know, or what did he know, that would shift the cosmic balance of power?
And finally, to close this front section of the post, let’s examine one last excerpt from Francis’ tale where instead of demons he tangentially engages with their boss, Lucifer:
“A friar who was a close associate of Francis was rapt in ectasy, and say, among the other seats in heaven, one that was particularly distinguished and glorious… and heard a voice saying: “That chair belonged to one of the fallen princes and now has been made ready for humble Francis… Emerging from the prayer, the friar questioned [Francis, who replied:] To myself I seem to be the greatest of sinners… At once the Spirit said in the friar’s heart: ‘Know by this how true your vision was, because humility will raise the humblest of men to the seat that was lost through pride.”
So is this the throne of Lucifer? As it is well known that pride was the sin that caused his fall to earth. Seen from a different perspective, pride is what allowed Lucifer to inherit the Earth as his kingdom and placed him in charge of man. What are the magical implications of Saint Francis assuming the throne of Lucifer in Heaven? This places him at the same level of the demonic hierarchy, i.e. the very top. To me, this is more evidence that Saint Francis is a good spirit to have on your side when engaging with the demons and even Lucifer himself. There is also something, I’m not sure what, but there is something here about humility and pride, and what area of the magical map one or the other deposits you in. I offer the below video from Jordon Peterson to further complicate the issue:
Here we have manifestations along the sliding scale of humility and pride. Being open to negotitation moves the tick mark closer to humility, as well as allowing the weaker opponent to win, to consciously throw the match but not in a way that doesn’t push your challenger to her limits before you lay down and give up the fight. That, according to Peterson, is a form of encouragement and, by extension, a way to give power to your opponent. Saint Francis was, if the prophecy from his bro in the Golden Legend held true, given Lucifer’s throne. Is this the Demiurge allowing man to win, so that they don’t get bored or discontented with the Matrix and follow the white rabbit? I don’t know. I mean, look at the qualities of humility, allowing yourself to be bargained with, allowing the lesser entity to overpower you even though you could crush them at any time, isn’t that the relationship we have with spirits or, in particular, demons? And if so, what does that say, that Lucifer and his hordes are closer to God than man, man being a creature not as naturally prone to humility, instead sliding the scale towards arrogance and pride more often than not?
For this week’s imbrications, let’s take a look at a few manifestations of Lucifer in popular media. The first is taken from the show that shares his name and shows an interesting side to our friend, as he confronts his ‘Dad’ about being thrown out of the house as a teenager and the lasting psychological damage that it did him (I can totally relate, bro):
Second, let’s step up the quality of the interaction several notches, and witness the beauty that is Viggo Mortensen as Lucifer in The Prophecy:
“For while Heaven might be closed, I am always open… Humans… know more about treachery and evil than any angel.” Lucifer begins, showing his love for man, but is it because we are evil and therefore like him? In the next scene, he questions “What is the one thing essential to an Angel… faith…” I’ve talked about faith here before, how perhaps Cyprianic magic doesn’t work unless you profess (not possess) faith in Christ. Here Lucifer is calling the angelic horde out as the prideful ones, for how can one be humble but still demand that others have faith in their power and abilities. Faith is a way of empowering arrogance. In the end of the clip, we are offered one final line as Gabriel dies, “Your war is arrogance… that makes it evil, that’s mine…”, which places angels clearly on the pride side of our spectrum.
For our final clip, since we already have the dial turned up to 9.5, let’s crank it up to 11. Now, Lucifer doesn’t exactly manifest here, but he is clearly involved in some way:
The arrogance in the final scene of the Ninth Gate is easy to spot. It would be hard to be more arrogant than Boris Balkan. Even when he prostrates himself, taking to his knees, to pray to Lucifer to open the Ninth Gate, you can tell that he is struggling for sincerity in his supplication. In the end, arrogance is not rewarded by Lucifer, and why is that? It is because Lucifer and all the spirits of Hell possess a degree of humility, they are more like the creator than us, and it is only when the magician can slide the scale away from pride that he begins to listen.
ASCENDING THE PEAK
With these concepts in place, let’s begin our journey into Lovecraft’s Middle Earth, the Dreamlands, as he calls them. We begin with a scene of Randolph Carter positioned over a city so beautiful, that it completely enraptures Carter, setting his question in motion:
“Three times Randolph Carter dreamed of the marvelous city, and three times he was snatched away while still he paused on the high terrace above it. All golden and lovely it blazed in the sunset, with walls, temples, colonnades, and arched bridges of veined marble, silver-basined fountains of prismatic spray in broad squares and perfumed gardens, and wide streets marching between delicate trees and blossom-laden urns and ivory statures in gleaming rows; while on steep northward slopes climbed tiers of red roofs and old peaked gables harbouring little lanes of grassy cobbles.”
Carter, can not, however, enter this city, as he is held back by the governing dieties of the Dreamlands, the same chaotic bio-spirit forms that haunt the real earth in the rest of Lovecraft’s ouvre:
“he felt the bondage of dream’s tyrannous gods; for in no wise could he leave that lofty spot, or descend the wide marmoreal flights flung endlessly down to where those streets of elder witchery lay outspread and beckoning… the gods made no answer and shewed no relenting, nor did they give any favouring sign when he prayed to them in dream, and invoked them sacrificially through the bearded priests Nasht and Kaman-Thah”
Here, early in the tale, we find two bearded priests, hipster Capuchins, that, while discouraging (“Kadath? Oh, you’ve probably never heard of it.”) when Randolph states that he is going to seek out the dieties, whom it is presupposed still reside in the Dreamlands in a physical form, like good hipsters they discourage Randolph but can’t help sharing their superior ‘knowledge’:
“no man [had] ever been to unknown Kadath, [and] no man had ever suspected in what part of space it may lie; whether it be in the dreamlands around our world, or in those surrounding some unguessed companion of Fomalhaut or Aldebaran.”
The above phrase is important, as it lays the foundation for a very curious physics that need to be applied to any journeying / active imagination work. The Dreamlands surround our world and share borders with the Dreamlands of other worlds, so that a journeyer can travel between them with more ease than if she were to travel through physical space. This also reinforces the idea that we all share one dreamland, that the Dreamlands and the physical world share this characteristic, they are one place and we are many beings that live in that one place. You can start to see how successful journeying in Lovecraft’s Dreamlands can offer a great deal of power and influence over the real world, which is every magician’s aim. Let’s follow Carter away from the beginning of his journey and to the first gate he must cross:
“So asking a farewell blessing of the priests and thinking shrewdly on his course, he boldly descended the seven hundred steps to the Gate of Deeper Slumber and set out through the enchanted wood… In the tunnels of that twisted wood… dwell the… secretive Zoogs; who know many secrets of the dream-world and a few of the waking world, since the wood at two places touches the lands of men…”
This is where I plan to begin my active imagination session in the Dreamlands, at the Gate of Deep Slumber, found at the foot of seven hundred stairs, where a path lays open through a thick, haunted, and twisted wood. Why I haven’t left that spot yet in my preliminary visualizations, Carter has, and in his journey we encounter more of Lovecraft’s dream physics. It is possible to be in a dreamland that is manufactured by yourself and is wholly different from the dreamland that all humans share. Also, it appears that men live in both places, so that, for Randolph, the real world is the waking world, but for others, the real world is the dreamland and their dreamland is the Earth. There are farmers and peasants and priests and many living beings that make the dreamlands their physical home. In his explorations he learns about the place that the Great Ones, the dieties he is seeking in order to ask for passage to the city of his obsession, used to live and that there were humans there that had ‘interactions’ with them:
“Much of the Great Ones might be learnt in such regions, and those with their blood might inherit little memories… they would have queer loft thoughts misunderstood by their fellow, and would sing of far places and gardens so unlike any known even in dreamland that common folk would call them fools, and from all this one could perhaps learn old secrets of Kadath…”
I see a stronger connection to the Hermit card, or Le Capuchin at this point. In Ettellia’s deck, the Hermit points to the dog, the sign of the Fool, as there is where the wisdom lies. This can also connect to the fact that dogs can visit the dreamworld too, especially if given ayhuasca, and the fact that one can use a dog as protection from demons, as is detailed in the Clavicula, as long as her coat is bathed with the exorcised water and hyssop. A lot more connections with dogs than I would have suspected. This is also interesting when seen from the Ojibwe perspective, who have had dogs as companions longer than anyone, probably, but keep them from all spiritual implements. This means that they can alter the spiritual character of drums, pipes, ceremonies, etc. But I digress too much…
Carter continues on his way, finding himself in the city of Dylath-Leen:
“On the seventh day a blur of smoke arose on the horizon ahead, and then the tall black tower of Dylath-Leen, which is built mostly of basalt…”
Giving us another juxtaposition of modern evidence of Laurasian or Laurasian influenced cultures and the blackened, smoking tower that we found in the tale Haunter of the Dark. Basalt is the material that Nan-Madol is made of as well as many of the figures on Easter Island, which is explicitly referenced in Haunter. It is from here, that Randolph is shanghai’d and, after some investigation, finds that he is being taken to the Moon, to be fed to good Ol Nyarlathop, in his Crawling Chaos manifestion. He is rescued by, and this is truly implausible, by cats. And when I say implausible, it isn’t because I don’t think cats could physically acheive the behavior in the text, but rather, because I know cat’s are self-centered assholes and would rather turn over and sleep as opposed to show any loyalty to a human:
“through that star-speckled darkness there did come a normal sound… It was the midnight yell of the cat, and Carter knew at last that the old village folk were right when they made low guesses about the cryptical realms which are known only to cats… Verily, it is to the moon’s dark side that they go to leap and gambol on the hills and converse with ancient shadows… Now much of the speech of cats was known to Randolph Carter, and in this far, terrible space he uttered the cry [for help] that was suitable… he need not have done, for even as hi slips opened he heard the chorus wax and draw nearer, and saw swift shadows against the stars as small graceful shapes leaped from hill to hill in gathering legions…”
And then we are treated to a very relatable and very Solomonic shape:
“A yowl now came from the farther peak, and the old leader paused abruptly… It was one of the army’s outposts, stationed on the highest of the mountains to watch the one foe which earth’s cats fear; the very large and peculiar cats from Saturn… They are leagued by treaty with the evil toad-things[, Randolph’s former captors,] and are notoriously hostile to our earth cats…”
Saturn, the cold throned one who can’t generally be bothered by the affairs of humans, manifests here in the form of special cats that only tolerate him and no other planetary spirit. Following Randolph’s rescue from the Dark Side of the Moon (now I have to listen to that, thanks a lot Drew) we find more evidence of Laurasia, or more specifically, the sunken city of Atlantis as extant in Lovecraft’s Dreamland:
“On the fifth day [of Carter’s journey out of Dylath-Leen to Oriab] the sailors were nervous, but the captain apologised for their fears, saying that the ship was about to pass over the weedy walls and broken columns of a sunken city too old for memory, and that when the water was clear one could see so many moving shadows in that deep place… That night the moon was very bright, and one could see a great way down in the water. There was so little wind that the ship could not move much, and the ocean was very calm. Looking over the rail Carter saw many fathoms deep the dome of a great temple, and in front of it an avenue of unnatural sphinxes leading to what was once a public square… As the ship drifted on a little the floor of the ocean rose in hills, and one could clearly mark the lines of ancient climbing streets and the washed-down walls of myriad little houses… Then the suburbs appeared, and finally a great lone building on a hill, of simpler architecture… and in much better repair. It was dark and low and covered four sides of a square, with a tower at each corner… Probably of basalt, though weeds draped the greater part… a temple or monastery… by the watery moonlight he noticed an odd high monolith in the middle of that central court… a sailor in the silk robes of Oriab, head downward and without any eyes [bound to it]…”
and finally, we will leave Randolph for this week, as he finds his way to the mountain that possesses the peak he seeks:
“His course [to the peak of Ngranek] now led uphill through wilder and partly wooded country, and the camps of those who gathered resin from the groves…”
Revisting, as promised, the deeper meaning of our tarot trump, we find more yarn stretched across the recently abandoned apartment as the FBI breaks down the door. The dog in the image, which if Randolph had his way would probably be a cat, corresponds to Hermanubis, St. Christopher, and as has been pointed out, The Fool. Randolph is alone, not wanting any companionship save the zebra he rides, and at the close of the first quarter of the novella finds himself on a perilous mountain pass. This is, symbolically, the path of least risk, of austerity, reflection, and preperation. Those are all qualities that map directly to the story of Saint Francis. In the background we see the three windowed tower, which might as well be the basalt tower of Dylath-Leen. This connects us to Saint Barbara, who is swiftly becoming the patron and protectress of all protagonists in our Lovecraftian Grimoire. Etteilla’s card’s upright keyword is ‘Traitor’, which curiously maps to Guidance and Mentorship, etymologically. Reversed, this card warns about not heeding the counsel of others, which is pretty much all Randolph does, wandering around the Dreamlands, willfully not heeding the words of those that tell him he is going to get too close to the fire and get burned.
Next week, we will move on to a new archetype, a pattern we will repeat until we find our own way through Lovecraft’s Dreamlands. I will have more to share then about the active imagination exercises and any meaningful effects the process has on my practice.