I don’t know if it is my long-term sigils coming to fruition, the increased momentum of starting back at magic after letting oneself be tossed around by Empire for several months, or the benificent blowback that Power of Eight style enchantment can have on the practitioner, but my weekend has been so full of low probability events, I can hardly believe it.
Things I have counted on have fallen through only to be replaced by something much better as soon as the planetary hour comes around to match the day. Today, I was able to have a crucial car repair done that 1) nearly everyone I called said couldn’t be done until the middle of the week 2) Had the repair done at a shop I had already walked out of because of a crazy high quote and 3) Ended up being charged zero dollars for the repair altogether.
The shop was the first place I visited, they said they could do it and proceeded to high-ball the price. I walked out, went to half-a-dozen more shops, only to be told that it was impossible.
I sat in my Jeep for awhile, thinking. My Irwin Naturals CBD caps have been a real blessing for me as they allow a normally always anxiety riddled mind to slow a bit and focus on situations. After thinking it over I decided the only thing I could do was eat crow and return to the first shop and hope the kid at the desk would be human about it.
When I arrived back, the entire shop was in a state of total churning chaos and the original kid that helped me was badly shaken up due to some accident that happened (apparently as I pulled up). Another, much nicer young man came out, took the part I had pre-bought, and had the repair done in around ten minutes. The original clerk was so shaken by the accident that he didn’t even remember me from an hour earlier. He asked me what they had done, I told him, and he told me I was good and there was no charge (where it was previously north of hundred dollars). I smiled (like a demon) all the way home knowing (sort of finally) what magic really looks like, in the real. It isn’t pretty, humans get stepped on, and the air is charged with chaos, but I think I finally ‘get’ what it means to (as Gordon White has often said) be ‘moved around the board.’
There were other events, like a babysitter falling through only to be replaced by another perfect candidate who’s name was a perfect reflection of the planetary hour she contacted us in.
Yesterday was a perfect day, according to the Hygromanteia, for career related divination. This morning before dawn, at the last Saturn hour of Saturday, I performed the first card reading I have done in probably a year. I asked the cards to show me my present career state, the future of the path I was on, my obstacles to an ideal path, and what that ideal path was. Below was the result:
Most significant of course to me is that my ideal future career is represented by (either figuratively or literally) The Magician. While the card tells me a number of things, what it screams at me is that my ideal work is actually here, in front of your eyes right now. It is the life of the occult writer, a life filled with research and the magical subjects I am filled with passion about.
This post marks what is necessarily a two-parter on the archetype of Charles Dexter Ward. He is himself, one of Lovecraft’s richest characters and his narrative is so filled with magical tech it makes it difficult to traverse with pausing every few inches to re-examine some phrase or nested narrative. We begin with an introduction to Charles Ward’s archive fever:
“Charles Ward, as we have see, first learned in 1918 of his descent from Joseph Curwen. That he at once took an intense interest in everything pertaining to the bygone mystery is not to be wondered at… No spirited and imaginative genealogist could have done otherwise than begin forthwith an avid and systematic collection of Curwen data… he decided to visit Salem and look up Curren’s early activities and connexions there, which he did during the Easter vacation of 1919. At the Essex Institute [https://www.pem.org], which was well known to him from former sojourns… He found that his ancestor was born in Salem-Village, now Danvers, seven miles from town, on the eighteenth of February 1662; and that he had run away to sea at the age of fifteen, not appearing again for nine years…”
This passage offers us the Lesser Feast (Feb 18th) for the necromancer, Joseph Curwen, as well as a site of pilgrimage in Danvers, MA. Another note of interest here is that young master Curwen acquired his culture and learning after taking to the sea. Metaphorically, this anti-hero is pointing to the sea as a place that holds magical wisdom, which is quite fitting for our Lovecraftian Magical aesthetic.
Ward’s research continues, lending even greater authority to the ‘armchair’ aspect of magic. For a Lovecraftian Magic-User, the armchair is the bulk of the work required to uncover the truths that lead to greater and greater enchantments:
“But of the greatest immediate interest was the Orne material. It took Ward only a short time to prove from identity of penmanship a thing he had already considered established from the text of the letter to Curwen; namely, that Simon Orne and his supposed son were one and the same person… Orne had apparently been careful to destroy most of his correspondence… but [Ward gained access to a] few letters and papers… There were cryptic formulae and diagrams in his and other hands which Ward now either copied with care or had photographed, and one extremely mysterious letter in a chirography that the searcher recognized… as positively Joseph Curwen’s.
This Curwen letter, though undated as to the year, was evidently not the one in answer to which Orne had written the confiscated missive… Ward placed it not much later than 1750… The recipient is addressed as ‘Simon,’ but a line… is run through the word.”
I am becoming more and more convinced of my theory that the source of the imaginal grimoire known as the Simonomicon, is in fact, Simon Orne the Salem Necromancer, an imaginal grimoire can easily spring from an imaginal source and be made very real. The letter mentioned also contains some very powerful tech, an example of which is in the following quote:
“I am not unready for hard fortunes, as I have told you, and have long work’d upon ye Way of get’g Backe after ye Laste. I taste Night struck on ye Words that bring up Yogge-sothothe, and saw for the first Time that face spoke of by Ibn Schacabao in ye —. And It said, that ye III Psalme in ye Liber-Damnatus holds ye Clavicle. With Sunne in V House, Saturne in Trine, drawn ye Pentagram of Fire, and says ye ninth Verse thrice. This Verse repeat eache Roodmas and Hallow’s Eve; and ye Thing will breed in ye Outside Spheres.
‘And of ye Seede of Olde shall One be borne who shall look Backe, tho’ know’g not what he seeks.’”
This is some hyper-specific astrological timing for the utterance of this short phrase. Beginning at said time when the Sun enters your Fifth House and this coincides with Saturn in Trine, I imagine drawing a red pentagram would suffice (as lighting unnecessary fires is not the best practice, magic-user or no) and then the following phrase is uttered three times:
‘And of your seed of old shall one be born who shall look back, though knowing not what he seeks.’
And then every September 14th and October 31st following this astrological instance the phrase is uttered again. In the context of the tale, this is used to assume the body and mind of one’s heir. For practical purposes, this could be used as a spell for longevity or divination into the distant future of your heirs. I imagine it could also be used for establishing contact with one’s direct ancestors as it is designed to call up the dead in a powerful enough way that they could potentially possess the living.
So in my personal case (and many thanks to Ghostly Harmless for the lightning astrological consult), on Saturday, March 9th when the Sun is in my Fifth House and Saturn is in Sextile to the Sun (which, according to my dear friend [because I am astrologically very dumb] can be read like a trine) I can begin the Curwen Operation through drawing a red pentagram (the fire-adverse option) and repeating the phrase above three times. Then on September 14th and October 31st, I repeat the phrase.
This operation could also be potentially enhanced by lighting a votive for the Lesser Feast (the birth day) of Joseph Curwen (Feb 18th) and the Greater Feast (his death day at the hands of Ezra Weeden) on April 12th.
When Lovecraft is read with a close esoteric eye, it is quite easy to see his corpus as a type of grimoire encrypted in fiction.
Continuing his research, our archetype Charles Dexter Ward, takes us further into the richness of his research-mind, a familiar and fertile place planted with overgrown evidence-vines and idea-berries among brambled dead-ends and falsely laid deer paths:
“[Ward learned from] the Nightingale-Talot letters in which he learned of the portrait painted on a panel of the Curwen library. This matter of the portrait interested him particularly, since he would have given much to know just what Joseph Curwen looked like; and he decided to make a… search of the [old Curwen] house in Olney Court… Early in August that search took place… He paid especial attention to the large panels of such overmantels as still remained; and was keenly excited after about an hour, when on a broad area above the fireplace in a spacious ground floor room he became certain that the surface brought out by the peeling of several coats of paint [held] an oil portrait of great extent… the work of restoration progressed, Charles Ward looked on with growing interest at the lines and shades gradually unveiled after their long oblivion… the subject was a spare, well-shaped man with dark-blue coat… a thin, calm, undistinguished face which seemed somehow familiar… Only at the very last… did [Ward] grasp with astonishment at the details of that lean pallid visage [which confronted] the bewildered Charles Dexter Ward… with his own living features in the countenance of his horrible great-great-great-grandfather [Joseph Curwen].”
Many aesthetics are reinforced here, the old decrepit mansion, the power of the oil painting (which is something that modern audiences will probably never fully know), and of course the connection between Lovecraft’s ‘modern’ time and the deep American past, rooted in an Imperial context. Time travel takes so many different forms in Lovecraft’s grimoire-as-fiction.
This past weekend I watched an off-book film called ‘The Endless,’
The film opens with a Lovecraft quote and it is a fantastic example of a film that captures a true Lovecraftian aesthetic. While there are hints of a monster throughout, the core driver of the plot are a maze of temporal loops that the inhabitants of a particular mountain region are subject too. Only the protagonists can travel through the loops and as they do, the mystery begins to unravel (along with their minds). Time travel magic, to the future and the past, is the core driver of the horror offered by the author. Charles Dexter Ward is no different and the gears begin to enmesh at this point, where the oil painting is discovered. The portrait of Joseph Curwen is Ward’s talisman for time travel magic and a key for us, how these portraits of the past can be used towards magical purposes, broadening our own retrocausal barriers, our own magical reach into the past.
The portrait itself is also a physical of gateway to greater knowledge in the text, for behind it Ward found a number of documents sealed in the wall that gave details about his ancestor’s life that no one save Curwen himself would know. These documents consumed Charles Ward and one in particular, with the familiar title ‘To Him Who Shal Come After, and How He May Gett Beyond Time and Ye Spheres’ was entirely in ciphered idiograms — pulling in the very particularly Lovecraftian Magic acts of encryption and decryption. It was this document and a store of letters that spurred Ward further into his hyper-specific biography of his ancestor:
“During October, Ward began visiting the libraries again, but no longer for the antiquarian matter of his former days. Witchcraft and magic, occultism and demonology, were what he sought now; and when Providence sources proved unfruitful he would take the train for Boston and tap the wealth of the great library in Copley Square, the Widener Library at Harvard, or the Zion Research Library in Brookline, where certain rare works on Biblical subjects are available. … Late in March Ward added to his archive-searching a ghoulish series of rambles about the various ancient cemeteries of the city. The cause appeared later, when it was learned from City Hall clears that he had probably found an important clue. His quest had suddenly shifted from the grave of Joseph Curwen to that of one Naphthali Field… [having] actually found a fragmentary record of Curren’s burial… which stated that the curious leaden coffin had been interred [in] Naphthali Field.”
This passage give us definite clues into the research activity of Lovecraft the author and how he obtained his extensive knowledge of the occult. The Widener Library has been mentioned before in our research. The Library in Copley Square is none other than the Central Library of the Boston Public Library system, otherwise known as the McKim Building. This library was built in 1895 (and must have truly been grand at a mere thirty some years old in Lovecraft’s time and was designed by Charles Follen McKim. The Copley Square building is the host to the Boston Library’s entire research collection. The Zion Research Library at Brookline has an incredible story as well, beginning its life as a sixty room mansion in Bay City, Michigan and being moved, stone by stone, 770 miles to Brookline, Massachusetts. The location is still a research library but is guarded from the public by a fence and security guards, which does little to dispel any nefarious connection it might have with the practice of Lovecraftian Magic.
The mention of Naphtali Field is also interesting. The Tribe of Naphtali is one of the ten lost tribes of Israel — the Ten Lost Tribes being a primary tool to strengthen colonial discourse and to justify the perpetration of genocide in the Americas. Burying Joseph Curwen, an archetype of the magician subverting the will of Empire for his own gain, is significant. Empire took his corpse and hid it, nested it inside one of its own most powerful tools.
When the Sun and Saturn are in Trine, it means that they are working towards the same goal, they support each other. It is a time for large achievement and reaching impossible goals. It is also a period where knowledge can be passed through generations. In our context, Ward is downloading Curwen’s memories and knowledge from the books and letters discovered with the painted gate was removed. Lovecraft is also transmitting his own knowledge to us in the encrypted format of his grimoire-as-fiction. We are nearing the end of the primary body of this research effort and our determination has paid off. Saturn in Trine with the sun pulls on our momentum, slowing us down, making us more pragmatic and organized as we near the end.
Next week we will conclude our exploration of our tale’s namesake, Charles Dexter Ward, and reveal where he falls on our Lovecraftian Magic / Tarot map.