“That which we call substance and reality is shadows and illusion, and that which we call shadow and illusion is substance and reality.” - HP Lovecraft
On the evening of September 28th, I had a dream. I dreamt I was in a church of some kind, but it wasn’t a traditional layout. It was more of a series of rooms and metal gates and dates. As I walked through the space, there were numerous Marian shrines, all with pots or plates or vases of water in them, filled to the brim. Each water source I passed I would dip my fingers in them and cross myself and whisper, ‘In the name of the father…’
The space had a central room, which was filled with two levels of pews. In the front was the typical altar but to the side was a two-story bronze or gold statue of Saint Michael. I found myself on the second story where the pews were stacked like stadium seating and they were filled with individuals all with various types of pets. They were all turned in their seats uncomfortably so that they could face and pray to Saint Michael. Looking down, I found in my hand an old birdcage where two woodpeckers roosted.
I bring this up because 1) I didn’t consciously know that it was Michaelmas Eve and I have never dreamt of the archangel before (I found out later that day that I was exposed to the date in the Rune Soup Premium Members Saints course, but it was not in my conscious memory at all prior to the dream) and 2) Our Lovecraft tale this week is the expansion pack of last week’s ‘The Silver Key’, Lovecraft’s ‘collaboration’ (I use the term loosely as I understand it is his collaborators idea to undertake the work but the prose is nearly all Lovecraft’s) ‘Through the Gate of the Silver Key,’ and both tales are firmly rooted in extensive oeneriomantic explorations.
My dream was similar in character to my dream of Saint Barbara last year, where I strongly feel that the spirit-form that is the saint was reaching out from her place in nearby Bloomingdale, IL at the Saint Andrew Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral. Archangel Michael is a different story altogether though and I find it imminently strange that he would reach out to me as I’ve never had angelic magic anywhere on my radar. That is the power of dreams, however, and the lessons herein. To ignore dreams, nay, to not respect dreams enough to record, quantify and otherwise indulge them fully is at a Lovecraftian Magic-User’s detriment or in some cases, peril.
We have a lot to get through so let’s dive on in.
We begin ‘Through the Gate of the Silver Key’ in a city familiar to an American incarnation of the Cult of Cthulhu:
“In a vast room hung with strangely figured arras and carpeted with bokhara rugs of impressive age... four men were sitting around a document-strown table. From the far corners… came the hypnotic fumes of olibanum… It was a singular and disturbing room… For here, in the New Orleans home of this continent’s greatest mystic, mathematician, and orientalist, there was being settled at last the estate of… Randolph Carter, who had… disappeared from the sight of man on the seventh of October, 1928, at the age of fifty-four.”
Which offers us a new date for our Lovecraftian Magical Calendar, October 7th — The Assumption of Randolph Carter.
The tale takes us back to ‘The Silver Key,’ reminding us of the location of Carter’s chthonic vortex:
“It was then that the country legends of the Snake-Den gained a new vitality. Farmers whispered of the blasphemous uses to which [Randolph’s ancestor,] Edmund Carter the wizard had put that horrible grotto…”
Before preceding to give forth new bones and connective tissue for us to work with:
“now the time for apportionment had come, and this vast, strange room in New Orleans was to be the scene of the arrangements.
It was the home of Carter’s literary and financial executor — the distinguished Creole… Etienne-Laurent de Marigny. Carter had met de Marigny during the war, when they both served… on a memorable joint furlough, the learned young Creole had taken the wistful Boston dreamer to Bayonne… and had shewn him certain terrible secrets in the… crypts that burrow beneath that brooding… city…”
We have talked about the region surrounding Bayonne before, in our exploration of ‘The Very Old Folk,’ possibly Lovecraft’s deepest act of hypernostalgia. Bayonne was already settled by the pre-historical proto-Basque peoples when it was occupied by the Romans around the 1st century AD. Bayonne is home to the Basque Museum that has in its collection one of the oldest Neronic Crosses in existence (along with an entire floor of witchcraftiana). The Neronic Cross, recognized today as the modern peace sign, is a symbol of Nero’s attempt to suppress the rise of Christianity.
Lovecraft’s inclusion of the Creole protagonist in the tale. It is said that, while Hoffman Price wrote the story initially, Lovecraft rewrote 90% of it. If, as popular criticism states, Lovecraft was an ardent racist and xenophobe, would he have made the choice to keep the protagonist in his tale a Creole? Further, HPL’s own avatar in the tale, Ward Phillips, is described as the ‘Providence Mystic.’ If HPL was the hardcore atheist, as his most famous critics claim, why would he not rewrite his own avatar in this tale, to that effect? The line for this argument lies between whether there is more truth in his fiction or in his correspondence (which his critics most often reference, often over the fiction itself). I maintain it is the former.
Putting this argument aside, let’s continue to get at how this tale is magically active:
“De Marigny, fingering the parchment found in Carter’s car, was speaking.
‘No, I have not been able to make anything of the parchment. Mr. Phillips, here, also gives it up. Col. Churchward declares it is not Naacal, and it looks nothing at all like the hieroglyphs on that Easter Island wooden club. The carvings on that box, though do strongly suggest Easter Island images.’… That antique Silver Key, he said, would unlock the successive doors that bar our free march down the mighty corridors of space and time to the very Border which no man has crossed since Shaddad with his terrific genius built and concealed in the sands of Arabia Petraea the prodigious domes and uncounted minarets of thousand-pillared Irem.”
This seems to suggest that while the manuscript was once in the employ of Easter Island holy figures or shamans, that it predates their own island societal/cultural evolutions. It suggests that the parchment was brought with their ancestors as they fared from Laurasia, Gondwanaland, or the more (relatively) recent Pacific Islands around 300 - 400 CE, but the key was a more recent invention, a symbol encasing other symbols, referring back to more, older symbols.
Another bit of interest here is the mention of Shaddad, the king of the Arabian city of Iram of the Pillars, it is mentioned in Sura 89 of the Qur’an:
‘In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful
By the dawn and the ten nights.
The night as it passes.
A profound oath, for one who possesses intelligence.
Have you noted what your Lord did to Iram; the town with tall buildings.
There was nothing like it anywhere.
Also Thamud, who carved the rocks in their valley.
And Pharaoh who possessed might.
They all transgressed in the land.
They spread evil throughout.’
The above quote giving us some insight that isn’t in the tale, as it is implied here that Irem, the City of Pillars (and by extension its king) were evil in the eyes of God and his people.
We have mentioned Etienne-Laurent de Marigny and Ward Phillips were in the room. The other two of four were Ernest Aspinwall (who is mentioned in the end of The Silver Key) and one Swami Chandraputra. Chandra is the name of the Hindu lunar deity and the word means ‘moon’ in Sanskrit, Hindi, and other Indian dialects. Putra means ‘son’ or ‘child’ in Sanskrit, so our Swami’s name is literally ‘Moonchild.’ We know, from our previous investigations, that Lovecraft was very aware of who Aleister Crowley (or ‘Lester’ as Ken Layne hilariously pronounces his name), so it is not a great stretch of the imagination to assume ye ol Swami is a nod to The Mega Therion. Swami Moonchild is the primary narrator of the remainder of the tale, recalling for us what Randolph Carter experienced following his performing the magical rite that resulted in his Assumption in the Snake-Den on October 7th:
“By the time the rite was over Carter knew that he was in no region whose place could be told by earth’s geographers, and in no age whose date history could fix… A gate had been unlocked… one leading from earth and time to that extension of earth which is outside time, and from which in turn the Ultimate Gate leads fearsomely and perilously to the Last Void which is outside all earths… There would be a Guide — and a very terrible one; a Guide who had been an entity of earth [before] man was [dreamt] of… Carter remembered what the monstrous Necronomicon had… adumbrated concerning the Guide…
‘And while there are those… who have dared to seek glimpses beyond the Veil, and to accept HIM as a Guide, they would have been more prudent had they avoided commerce with HIM; for it is written in the Book of Thoth how terrific is the price of a single glimpse. Nor may those who pass ever return, for in the Vastnesses transcending our world are Shapes of darkness that seize and bind. The Affair that shambleth about in the night, the Evil that defieth the Elder Sign, the Herd that stand watch at the secret portal each tomb is known to have, and that thrive on that which groweth out of the tenants within — all these Blacknesses are lesser than HE Who guardeth the Gateway; HE Who will guide the rash one beyond all the worlds into the Abyss of unnamable Devourers. For HE is ‘UMR AT-TAWIL, the Most Ancient One, which the scribe rendereth as THE PROLONGED OF LIFE.’”
We are not treated to many exact passages from the Necronomicon, but of those we do catch of glimpse of, they have a similar character. The Necronomicon, it seems, is closer in form to a narrative like the Bible than it is a grimoire like the Key of Solomon. The above quote from the Necronomicon also points us to our primary archetype, to be referred to presently as ‘The Guide.’ Swami ‘Lester’ Moonchild continues:
“Memory and imagination shaped dim half-pictures with uncertain outlines amidst the seething chaos, but Carter knew that they were of memory and imagination only. Yet he felt that it was not chance which built these things in his consciousness, but rather some vast reality, ineffable and undimensioned, which surrounded him and strove to translate itself into the only symbols he was capable of grasping…”
Offering us a highly accurate description of the results of the Active Imagination process, the black on black outlines of pictures, the knowledge that they are being produced by one’s own mind, and the equally potent knowledge that some of them possess a quality that is not of you, but of their own, stemming from someplace else. It is at this point that our narrator describes Carter’s first meeting with our archetype:
“There was [a] Shape… which seemed to… float over the cloudy floor… It was not exactly permanent in outline, but held transient suggestions of something remotely preceding… the human form… It seemed heavily cloaked… with some neutral-colored fabric… A moment later… the Shape [spoke] to his mind without sound or language. Randolph Carter… spoke back… and made those obeisances which the hideous Necronomicon had taught him to make. For this Shape was nothing less than that which all the world has feared since Lomar rose out of the sea… It was indeed the frightful Guide and Gaurdian of the Gate — ‘Um at-Tawil’… The Guide knew… of Carter’s quest and coming…”
Of all of the stories that we have examined since beginning this research, there have been many barriers, but no Guide. This is a turning point in the Lovecraftian Magical Aesthetic, as it is stated, a barrier next to the final one, through which lay oblivion. The Gate of Dreams is before the Gate of Time, which sits before the Gate of the Void.
The above passage also makes mention of the guide existing on (or around, or in connection with) Earth prior to the continent of Lomar’s existence, which is most popularly known as the lost continent beneath the Arctic where Clark Ashton Smith’s Iron Age Hyperborean cycle takes place. Hyperborea, which we may conflate with Lomar for our purposes, has older origins, however, being an imaginal landscape of the Greeks where a race of giants lived. Herodotus’ spoke of it in his Histories, as do Hesiod and Homer, placing it in an appropriate place in timedepth that a treatment similar to those found in the Greek Magical Papyri might prove effective in raising the sleeping spirits of the Boreas, as being some ten feet in height, pale white, and if possessing hair, it being fair. Further esoteric research into the Hyperboreans can be found in the work of Robert Charroux and those building on Charroux’s work, such as Jason Colavito and his ‘The Cult of Alien Gods: HP Lovecraft and Extraterrestrial Pop Culture.’
After The Guide assists Carter in passing through the first of the two barriers, or gates, present in this tale (the breaking through of barriers being one of the primary mechanics of Lovecraft’s fiction-as-spells), Moonchild describes for us the beginning of what is probably one of the most cerebral blocks of prose that Lovecraft has ever produced:
“the First Gateway had taken something of stability from him, leaving him uncertain about his bodily form… but it had not disturbed his sense of unity. He had still been Randolph Carter… Now, beyond the Ultimate Gateway, he realized… he was not one person, but many persons… He was… On earth, on October 7th, 1883, a little boy named Randolph Carter… yet at the same moment, in the… year 1928, a vague shadow not less Randolph Carter was sitting on a pedestal among the Ancient Ones in earth’s trans-dimensional extension, Here, too, was a third Randolph Carter in the unknown and formless cosmic abyss beyond the Ultimate Gate. And elsewhere, in a chaos of scenes whose infinite multiplicity… brought him close to… madness, were a limitless confusion of being which he knew were as much himself as the… manifestation now beyond the Gate. There were ‘Carters’ in settings belonging to every known and suspected age… ‘Carter’s of forms both human and non-human… Spores of eternal life drifting from world to world…”
Hitting at what is proving to be the heart of Lovecraftian Magic’s underlying metaphysics. The connection we have, through our own physical body, to all other manifestations of ourselves backwards and forwards through time depth. And it is this foundational metaphysics that also ties into the absolute of what Lovecraft’s fiction considers ‘horror.’ The narrator continues, revealing what our author feels is the most terrifying thing in the universe:
“No death, no doom, no anguish can arouse the surpassing despair which flows from a loss of identity. Merging with nothingness is peaceful oblivion; but to be aware of existence and yet to know that one is no longer a definite being distinguished from other beings — that one no longer has a self — that is the nameless summit of agony and dread.”
One of the principal tenants of atheism is that once we slough off this mortal coil, our ‘self’ ceases to exist. In ‘The Gate of the Silver Key’ HPL is making an admission that the ‘idea’ of becoming nothing, the atheist idea of death, is a peaceful thought, but the reality is much more terrible. In Lovecraftian Metaphysics, our end is in the primordial soup where what we once were is aware that we once were and is at the same time aware that we are everything. The ultimate knowledge of Buddhism, of non-being, of interconnectedness, is what drives the horror, the metaphors, and the incarnate spirit forms of Lovecraft’s fiction-as-spells, of his oeuvre-as-grimoire. In a way, he understands it at a much deeper level than most practitioners of Buddhism. At the same time, however, he is saying that this knowledge can be used to enact and prove retrocausation. This is the wisdom given to Dr. Louise Banks in Ted Chiang’s ‘Stories of your Life and Others’, more popularly visualized in the 2016 film ‘Arrival,’ and makes this probably one of the most ‘Lovecraftian’ films since the Aliens franchise. For a deeper dive into Arrival, I recommend Eric Wargo’s blog post ‘Altered States of Reading #6: Stories of Your (Future, Past) Life’ on his most excellent site, The Nightshirt. Wargo offers us an in-depth philosophical / metaphysical system in which we can understand the foundations of Lovecraft’s hypernostalgia and the magical practice of tuning our radio dials to our own path of retrocausation and sigil-phreaking these frequencies, as Carter did in ‘The Silver Key,’ to our own ends.
Retrocausative sigil-phreaking (emulating [or rather, alluding to?] Carter’s use of both the Silver Key, the sigils on the key and the heretofore unexplored mudras [what amount to magical hand-sigils in Lovecraftian Magic]) is the praxis that will allow us to activate the finer points of our emerging Lovecraftian Metaphysics.
Allow me to (re)quote from Carroll’s Liber Kaos the important passages that discuss how retrocausative enchantment is possible:
“Most magicians are comfortable with the idea that it is possible to divine for events hidden in the past or in the future. [Chaos Magic Theory] allows this but states that any information found represents, at best, the highest probability events that were likely to have occurred or that might occur, for the magician can only look through shadow time, as the ordinary psuedopast and future have no existence… Once it is remembered that the past and future in ordinary pseudo time do not exist except in terms of memory and expectation, then the conceptual difficulties with retroactive enchantment disappear. In retroactive enchantment an act of magic alters the probability structure of the ether patterns in the past shadow time of a particular ordinary pseudo time moment. This can result in a subsequent moment of ordinary pseudo time exhibiting a present real state and shadow time future, which may also manifest physically later, which is other than might have been expected…”
In the Silver Key, Carter, in an effort to gain better access to the collective Dreamlands, uses the key in the primordial Snake-Den, the chamber of enchantments (which follows the same magical aesthetics and symbology as Jung’s desert cave in The Red Book) of his forefathers and a recognized place of ‘hyperthickness’ to use Gordon White’s term to move back along Carroll’s ether patterns to alter the probability structure in a past pseudo-moment along his own timeline, said alteration creating for him a new life filled with precognition and more time dedicated to learning the arts that led him to the Snake-Den in a time prior to his enchantment. It was at this point, once the retrocausation had filled his present pseudo-time, that Carter was in a place to move further, past the Dreamlands, to gain an audience with the primordial guide. For our purposes, I will put forth some experimental praxis for achieving this first bit, phreaking own’s own probability frequency from the present by sigiling for events in one’s pseudo-past.
Before we do that, however, let’s finish Lester Moonchild’s narrative in relation to Carter’s experiences beyond the Final Gate:
“It was as though [Carter’s] body had been suddenly transformed into one of those many-limbed and many-headed effigies sculptured in Indian temples, and he contemplated the aggregation in a bewildered attempt to discern which was the original and which the additions — if indeed (supremely monstrous thought) there were any original as distinguished from other embodiments… It was as though suns and worlds and universes had converged upon one point whose very position in space they had conspired to annihilate with an impact of resistless fury…”
Taking a breath, it should be noted here that Lovecraft, an avid astrologer and cosmologist, is essentially aligning his fiction’s metaphysics with what, in his day, was the very unpopular and largely rejected Big Bang Theory. As evidence of the theory’s past history and state in Lovecraft’s timedepth-facet, I offer this quote from wikipedia’s article on the Big Bang:
“In the 1920s and 1930s almost every major cosmologist preferred an eternal steady state universe, and several complained that the beginning of time implied by the Big Bang imported religious concepts into physics; this objection was later repeated by supporters of the steady state theory. This perception was enhanced by the fact that the originator of the Big Bang theory, Georges Lemaître, was a Roman Catholic priest. Arthur Eddington agreed with Aristotle that the universe did not have a beginning in time, viz., that matter is eternal. A beginning in time was "repugnant" to him. Lemaître, however, thought that
‘If the world has begun with a single quantum, the notions of space and time would altogether fail to have any meaning at the beginning; they would only begin to have a sensible meaning when the original quantum had been divided into a sufficient number of quanta. If this suggestion is correct, the beginning of the world happened a little before the beginning of space and time.’”
Hold this in mind as we continue along with Carter as he questions what amounts to ‘The Singularity’ about the nature of his infinite facets, the infinite ‘Carters’ extant in the universe across quantum space:
“every figure of space is but the result of the intersection by a plane of some corresponding figure of one more dimension — as a square is cut from a cube or a circle from a sphere. The cube and sphere, of three dimensions, are thus cut from corresponding forms of four dimensions that men know only through guesses and dreams; and these in turn are cut from forms of five dimensions, and so on up to the dizzy and reachless heights of archetypal infinity. The world of men and of the gods of men is merely an infinitesimal phase of an infinitesimal thing — the three-dimensional phase of that small wholeness reached by the First Gate, where ‘Umr at-Tawil dictates dreams to the Ancient Ones. Through men hail it as reality and brand thoughts of its many-dimensioned original as unreality, it is in truth the very opposite. That which we call substance and reality is shadows and illusion, and that which we call shadow and illusion is substance and reality.”
Lovecraft is one of the first examples of multiverse theory in horror fiction. He is preceded by the likes of Margaret Cavendish in 1666 with her tale, ‘The Blazing World,’ (probably the earliest known example), Edwin Abbott’s famous ‘Flatland’ in 1884 and H.G. Well’s ‘Men Like Gods’. HPL’s work in this area is contemporary with ‘The Dean of Science Fiction,’ Murray Leinster’s ‘Sideways in Time’ - if not preceding it by a number of years in the same weird fiction magazines, so it might be construed that HPL kicked it off in earnest following its formulation by Einstein and his progeny.
There is another aside here, I am want to mention, in this tale which moves towards my thesis that the xenophobia and racism evident in Lovecraft’s tales is by and large perpetrated by materialist antagonists of which he is attempting to paint as the lesser minded, dimly lit souls. The lawyer, Aspinwall, uses a racial epithet in anger at the Swami Chandraputra (perhaps there is also something here about how the materialist paradigm viewed Crowely’s work [or mere existence, really]). It is more clear in this tale than others that Aspinwall, the skeptic, the materialist, is the enemy of Randolph Carter and moreover, the enemy of what Carter stands for. If we are to mark this instance and look back retroactively through the rest of the oeuvre, we will find that the other instances where racially-based narratives are extant are enacted by individuals of a similar character.
Our tale ends in a familiar Lovecraftian fashion, with echoes of Kafka and tones of Cronenberg.
Returning to our metaphysics and experimental praxis, I am compelled to offer a bit more on the nature of dreams and magic to flesh out the literature behind the methodology. Here I would like to quote from Andrew Chumbley’s slim post-humous tome, ‘Mysticism, Initiation and Dream.’ In this work, Chumbley speaks on the importance of and the long history of humans red-booking their dreams:
“Dream-books’ are collations of dreams and their interpretations… the dream-book bay be the most ancient unbroken continuous literary genre on Earth… as a genre the dream-book is a textual motif… such texts are formed by recording dreams and the physical events which follow after them; patterns are noted and thereafter for the ‘code’ of meanings; the symbology of a particular cultural mode of dream-interpretation… this logic of ‘repeat observations’ is… integral to the development of Mesopotamian script…”
If I am tracking this statement correctly, red-booking drove the development of writing in Mesopotamia, and thus, the whole of the written word including books, the internet, computer code, train graffiti… The magical act and drive to red-book can be said to be the cornerstone of our modern civilization. The author continues:
“the cosmos in all its diversity is subject to a unitive theophany of ‘meaningful’, and by such means the interpretative framework initiates us, back into the dream: ‘myth’ becomes the dream-thinking of culture…”
Reinforcing our idea that dreams are the engine that drive Lovecraftian magic and thus, Lovecraft’s myth-making from his dreams is a type of cultural niche-construction that has radiated out into the wider spiritual and fictional ecosystem, changing everything it touches. ‘Mysticism, Initiation and Dreams’ also loops back, in a low-probability way, to our tale this week when it is stated that:
“[In] contemporary… Haitian Voudon and New Orleans Voodoo… songs for calling the gods are frequently taught to devotees in dreams… a recent initiate of New Orleans Voodoo… came to receive initiation, not because of a waking vision, conversion or interest, but because he dreamed of a god called ‘Agwe,’ a sea-deity, and that in his dream he was singing aloud a praise-song to call this deity… his wife listened as he sang aloud in his sleep and confirmed much of his dream when he awoke; the dreamer had never heard of Agwe and only found out the meaning of his dream at a later date. A parallel example derives from another personal source, a researcher of Voudon in Haiti.. drawing from his field-research… played a recording to me of some dozen or so songs which he had taped during a Voudon ceremony… all of the songs — lyrics and memories — had been dreamed by the presiding houngan…”
Lending the setting of ‘Through the Gate of the Silver Key’ in Carter’s executor’s New Orleans office more significance if we take into account the importance of dream contact between spirit-forms and humans to the primary magical practice of that city.
Now, for our experimental praxis…
Imagine, if you will, that you are Randolph Carter, enacting the rite that you believe will give you access to your own self at a specific point in the past. Gaining access to this moment, you change multiple probabilities by embedding in your past self your knowledge of the world leading up to events at the moment of the rite. Carroll, again from Liber Kaos, explores this phenomenon when he states that:
“[Chaos Magic Theory] implies a certain symmetry between divination and enchantment. The very act of perceiving some event which might have occurred or which might occur actually raises the probability that it might have occurred or might occur. This is particularly a problem in presence, divination of the future. It is not merely a problem of self-fulfilling prophecy, but a more profound problem arising from the tendency of any image of the future to shape the future accordingly by etheric effect… All metaphysical theories involve some form of otherworld realm impinging upon the ordinary one. What has happened in quantum physics is that equations have been unwittingly written which describe some of the simpler effects of it.The problem for scientists is that they are observing and trying to describe effects due to something which they refuse to believe can exist. The problem for magicians is that they refuse to believe that the effects they create or observe could be due to something for which equations could be written.”
The Lovecraftian Underworld (one of them, anyway) is the realm of spooky effects endemic to quantum mechanics. This is the world that Carter enters and The Guide and the other instantiations of the Singularity that he encounters after gaining access to the ‘Final Gates’ through his original retrocausative enchantment in the Snake-Den.
For our praxis I would like to put forth the hypothesis that creating sigils with the intention of sending our past selves dreams of our present, a low-probability near-future of our choosing, or other formative (either positive or negative) events along our past timeline will move our present self into a low-probability frequency at an order of magnitude faster rate than just sigiling for low-probability events in our future from our present. As Carroll states above, ‘The very act of perceiving some event which might have occurred or which might occur actually raises the probability that it might have occurred or might occur.’
Now, these sigils could be your typical ‘Does not matter…’ paper and ink enchantments cast into the fire or into the maw of your local river dragon, or they could be something more in line with the Carterian metaphysics of multi-dimensional angles folding in on one another. Back in December of last year I wrote a post called ‘Quantum Sigil Magic,’ that I would like to revisit briefly, in that post I wrote that
‘If sigils behave and act in similar patterns as language learned from written resources does, can casting sigils be extrapolated to different, maybe earlier (maybe more potent) forms of symbolic expression?’
The form in question comes from Henry Rogers ‘Writing Systems: A Linguistic Approach’, who has this to say about written language’s predecessor, Mesopotamian three-dimensional word objects:
“From the period 8500-3000 OLD, a large number of artefacts known as tokens have been found. There are small clay objects of simple geometric shapes: spheres, cones, tetrahydra, cylinders, disks, lens-shaped disks, etc. tokens of this period are known as plain tokens. They are associated with the beginnings of agriculture [and] were used for record keeping… some have been found stored inside sealed, hollow clay balls forming envelopes around the tokens… these envelopes represented a way of safegaurding the record of the contract. If there was a disagreement, the envelope could be broken, and the evidence of the tokens would be inside.”
The quote from Roger sending my past self down this theoretical dirt path:
‘Extrapolating this practice into the context of modern witchcraft, this appears to be a very usable and possibly forgotten magical technology. If the origins of writing are in these three-dimensional object-symbols and the practice of encapsulating them as a form of binding, then it is plausible that the creation of three-dimensional sigils would be a potent practice. Moreover, instead of destroying the sigils, a common practice with paper sigils today, wouldn’t their encapsulation inside of a clay vessel serve a similar purpose? They would then forever be out of sight of the magician, existing only in her subconscious. The correlation with a binding or contract made real in the form of the clay sphere envelope is also especially potent. The magician is, in effect, binding the sigils, the psuedo-spirits, to their task. If the task is not fulfilled then the sigils could be removed from the vessel, and a new contract / ritual engaged until the magic is made manifest.’
If we are to embody the quantum aspect of Carterian Metaphysics, pulling our retrocausative sigils out of the second dimension and into the third by creating spheres, cones, tetrahydra, cylinders, disks and lens-shaped tokens in which to embed our sigils on, and then, as a part of the ritual, sealing them into clay vessels (which our future selves will still possess theoretically), could add a powerful physical metaphor to the enchantment. Coupling this with the intent of the sigils, to move into the underworld of quantum formulas and leverage the fourth dimension of time to our advantage, this particular experimental praxis will maintain a distinct and fundamental Lovecraftian shape as it has been offered us in this tale.
Our tarot match for ‘Through the Gate of the Silver Key’ is one of the most potent trumps in the deck, what Etteilla calls ‘La Force,’ better known as the Strength card.
Etteilla offers us two keywords, the namesake of the card, ‘La Force’ and ‘Le Souverain.’
Force, from the 13th c. on, means ‘strength,’ ‘power,’ or ‘compulsion.’ It stems from the Vulgar Latin *fortia meaning firm and steadfast. It is the plural of the Latin fortis, the singular of which is fort, whose PIE root is *bhergh-. *bhergh meaning a barrow, hill, or grave-mound. In the mid 14th c. force gained the meaning ‘power to convince the mind’ and ‘power exerted against will or consent’
Le Souverain, or Sovereign comes from the late 13th early 14th c. and means ‘supreme,’ or ‘chief.’ It is derived form the Latin super, meaning over, and is in turn related to the PIE root *uper, meaning over. *uper expands out into hyper, summit, and supernal, which means heavenly or divine and is the antonym of infernal.
When applied to our archetype, The Guide, and the context of Carter’s relationship with the cosmic entities he interacts with, we find that rather than being an indifferent universe filled with vast alien minds that think of humans as much as humans think of earthworms, we have before us a supernal power that we can use to guide our own journey to populating our past present and future with successful low-probability enchantments derived from the infernal realms of quantum science.