This hasn’t been a week for practice, but that hasn’t stopped a cascade of results to flood into my reality.
I saw the fox again. Yeah, maybe it is normative now for an urban fox to display themselves in broad daylight next to a softball game with tons of people and cars, maybe. I don’t really buy it. I grew up in the country, like, after a sign that says ‘pavement ends’ kind of country. Growing up, I literally can count the amount of times I spotted a fox on one hand. We live on an urban river corridor, so its presence isn’t the weird part, its the fact that I see it when there are a lot of other people around and that not one other person seems to see it.
Maybe its a Mom and she has a den of kits in the thicket next to the river and the softball field. That would be rational, I can buy into that. What I find significant is the sheer amount of times I’ve seen her and the syncs those sightings have had with improbable events.
Last week, I talked a lot about shadow people. I received some tweets from people that I respect stating that they haven’t seen them more than a handful of times themselves, and that the amount that I see them seems unusual. Maybe, maybe it is, it would make sense, I’ve sigiled for increased spirit contact in the past. Almost exactly a year ago, to be exact.
So yeah, I saw the fox again and that night I had two contact events. The first was accompanied by sleep paralysis, which I haven’t experienced in quite awhile. It was, I’m almost certain, a shadow person making contact. It started out as a dream, and in that dream there was a person that I know, from work, odd that I dreamt about him but not that odd. He had this different character to him, however. A quality that I am familiar with.
It goes like this, I see another person in my dream, known to me or not, and when I approach them there is something in their eyes. Something not human and malevolent… they don’t overtly act out malice, most times they are quite friendly, reaching out a hand, coming in close for a whisper, and at the last moment, that is when I notice this alien-ness about them. It invokes in me absolute terror, but that frustrating dream terror where the screams are funneled off and are not cathartic in anyway.
The night of the day I saw the fox again I had that dream and then awoke from it frozen on the couch where I had fallen asleep sitting up. My breath was tight and I knew there was something in the room, something else… I heard my wife walking on the creaking floorboards of our house upstairs and tried to call for her. I was able to move a bit from the couch but then blinked and I was right back there, breathing was harder, and the presence was stronger. This happened four times before I was able to finally shake off the sleep paralysis and head upstairs to bed.
There are, as far as I can tell, two regular spirit forms in our home. A woman, who was identified by a Santera we had bless the home when we moved in, and a child, an infant. My wife and I have both seen the woman while in a state of sleep deprivation (holding babies all night), and she has seen another pervy shirtless man that I have yet to encounter. We have both also heard the baby. We only hear it crying, and we only hear it in our bedroom. Well this night, the night of the sleep paralysis, I awoke from a dead sleep hearing the crying of a child. We have two kids so crying wakes me up immediately. I sat up, listened, heard the crying again coming from the area of the baby monitor, verifying that some little one was in emotional distress. I got up, went to the kids room, and both were sawing logs, sound asleep. Thanks a lot, ghost baby.
I picked up and absolutely tore through Phil Hine’s Psuedonomicon last week. This little sixty page book is phenomenal on so many levels. It is the first book I’ve read (there haven’t been many, which is intentional) that connects with my own thoughts about Lovecraftian Magic almost exactly. It is also an excellent primer for chaos magic and the magica vitae.
When Hine references Lovecraftian Spirits, he doesn’t treat them as fictional entities or try to map them to Greek Gods. He, and I, push back against that practice:
“I... persistently disagree with attempts to mesh [Lovecraftian Spirit Forms] into existing magical systems, their power lies in the fact that they are ‘undimensioned and unseen.’ Likewise, the dark terrors of the psyche retain their power because they can never be fully bound.”
This quote hits me right in the mouth, especially the bit about ‘The dark terrors of the psyche retain their power…’, to me, that indicates that the Shadow (and by extension, Shadow People) are always attracted and fed during Lovecraftian Magical Operations, if they are done correctly, for the fear never leaves, it only increases, as the operations and maturity into the anti-system of Lovecrafitan Magican progresses.
Hine makes an excellent distinction between Western magic and Lovecraftian Magic when he states that:
“western [magic] has a very ‘indoors’ feel to it... Just as scientists have retreated from the chaotic complexity of nature, in favor of laboratory testing and the search for microscopic particles, so magical theory tends to create an internal Tower of Babel, where symbolism shields the user from direct perception of reality. [Lovecraftian] magic stands outside the edifice of symbol systems and carefully constructed hierarchies of spirit.”
I’ve spoken before about the use of encryption in Lovecraftian Magic, when I first read this quote, my mind conflated encryption and symbolism. A bit of thinking separates the two. Symbolism encodes a lot of information inside of an efficient package. Encryption obfuscates information, creating more complexity in the interpretation of it. Complexity but not complication (a dichotomy I reference a lot in my life as a real boy trying to bring my coworkers back from the precipice of inefficiency) is the point I’m trying to get at here. Complexity still has an inherent pattern, a natural element to it, even though it feels chaotic. Complications introduce entropy, the loss of power through fragmentation, through the breaking down of energy. Counterintuitively, I think what Hine is saying here, is that the use of symbolism, by packing information behind archetypes, we are actually contributing to a type of personal magical entropy. Through the act of encryption, however, we are engaging with and building on the complexity required to move the needle of probability in our direction. The Psuedonomicon continues, pulling Lovecraftian Magic away from the larger category of Western Magic:
“A great deal of magical technique is designed to focus awareness along a single directional vector. The use of sigils, meditational symbols, mantras, etc. help to achieve a state where consciousness of object is lost, and the focus of attention... is projected forth... [Lovecraftian] Magic [develops] a reverse talent, the widening of awareness without particular focus, until one perceives all aspects of the immediate environment as a medium for possible communion.”
Reading this has me thinking that Lovecraftian Sigils, then, should increase the complexity of the message, not simplify it. The widening of focus is an excellent, and parallel, method of removing the focus of the sigil from the consciousness of the magician. These differences, as called out by Hine, has me thinking… Lovecraftian Magic is like the Delta Blues of systems of enchantment, right? It is, like Blues, Jazz, and Rap, a distinctly North American type of magic, when we pull away all of the ‘esoteric cruft’ placed on top of it by all of the popular critics and imitators of what I am increasingly starting to think of as ‘Pop Lovecraft.’ You know, the focus on monsters, on Providence, on the major tales and the largely expanded mythos… This ‘Pop Lovecraftian Aesthetic’ is a bit like a Led Zeppelin album. Its appeal is incredibly wide and everyone recognizes the estoricism in it but looks past the ‘weird’ that would normally turn them off because the songs are so catchy and powerful. They look past the fact that Led Zeppelin simply wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for Mr. Johnson on that lonely crossroads, asking the Devil to teach him something new, something original, something that would change the planet and filter into everything we do and say and sing on the North American continent today. Like Old Scratch at that crossroads in Mississippi, Lovecraftian Magic and Lovecraftian spirit-forms (of which I am for certain including the Shadow People) can give the mage what they ask for, but in such a way that it also fulfills their larger agenda. Quoting Hine again:
“the very fact that [Lovecraftian spirit-forms are] not interested whatsoever in human aims, desires, and most of the things which we think are important is in itself useful. If you work from this perspective, and of course you were going to see humanity as ants, but it is also likely that you will get a new insight into your own complex of desires, attitudes, and motivations.”
Lovecraftian Magic is a method of deconstructing the ego through associating ones practice with vast, titanic, angelic-minded cosmic entities whose motivations are wholly alien to typical human aims like money, sex, and political power. It is a method of communing with the non-human, of understanding the world outside of our anthropomorphic blinders. As the Psuedonomicon states:
“a core feature of [Lovecraftian Magic] is transfiguration, evolution into a new mode of being, such as a deep one or cool. This transfiguration brain is not only a new perspective, but also the ability to live in other worlds, and the kind of self-sufficiency that does not depend on other people’s views and judgments.”
Transfiguration into a semi-human, a hybrid spirit human entity with a foot in both worlds… This, in keeping with the aesthetic, is a method of transforming yourself into a Gate which other might pass through.
This is the first of three posts where I will wrestle with that most famous of Lovecraft’s tales. Thinking back, the Deep One has been part of my thoughts ever since I was first a teenager. This was, I’m ashamed to say, maybe fifteen years before I actually read Lovecraft. I have the living saint of metal, James Hetfield, to thank for placing the seed in my head. Here he is with the rest of his crew, playing the official theme song for the Lovecraftian Chaos Mage:
I’ve said this before, there is no shortage of metal bands that draw inspiration from Lovecraft. Metal was born out of both rock and classical music, and we know that rock wouldn’t exist with Mr. Johnson’s scratchy demon-infused riffs, so in a way metal is a multi-layered embodiment of the Lovecraftian Aesthetic. For our next imbrication I’d like to introduce a band that is new to me, Alkaloid, with their invocation of the trinity’s primary focus:
And finally, I can’t escape this section without bringing you some Cradle of Filth, these cat’s are extreme, it is fun to squint at them and think, ‘OK, where is the influence of Muddy Waters or Mozart on this track?’ It’s there, keep looking.
DIGGING TUNNELS IN CLAY
If you haven’t intuited by now, for the next three weeks we will be wrestling with Lovecraft’s ‘The Call of Cthulhu.’ I’d like to interject here that Chaosium Inc. and their ‘copyright’ on the phrase ‘The Call of Cthulhu’ can kiss my, as the phrase goes, ‘lily-white arse.’ Cthulhu as a spirit form is as real as the Virgin Mary, and no one has slapped a trademark claim on the Queen of Heaven.
I’m going to be giving you a lot of the Psuedonomicon in this three part series. It was hugely influential for me, one of those qualifying moments when you realize that paths your thoughts have taken you on, while weedy, have been trod before, and you are thankful to have the memory of those footsteps leading the way. Let’s begin our exploration into the Mystery of Cthulhu by engaging with its primary method of transmission, dreams. From the Psuedonomicon:
“revelations through dreaming is a strongly recurrent theme throughout the Cthulhu mythos, and it is well known that Lovecraft gained much of his inspiration from his dreams. Cthulhu is generally understood as being the Lord of dreams, and is entombed in the city of R’Lyeh in the deep ocean, he is analog us to the chaotic perceptions and desires chip and sealed it will become elite within the subconscious mind… R’Lehy... partakes of a strange geometry, which, when… explored, constantly shift and work so the tunnels and pathways collapse in overlap each other. This description will surely be familiar to anyone who is worked the Tunnels of Set.”
This passage immediately reminds me of the House of Leaves and as such, pulls in a vector for the Minotaur, creating a Minotaur / Cthulhu syncretism. Further extending this correlation, the Cult of Cthulhu can be mapped on top of the Cult of Mithras.
Lovecraft begins the first section of The Call, entitled, The Horror in the Clay, by invoking those under appreciated spirit-friends, the Theosophists:
“Theosophists have guessed at the awesome grandeur of the cosmic cycle wherein our world and human race form transient incidents. They have hinted at strange survivals in terms which would freeze the blood if not masked by a bland optimism… all dread glimpses of truth, flashed out from an accidental piecing together of separated things... old newspaper (items)... notes of a dead professor...”
The Cthuhlu Trinity is revealed through the manipulation of probability, the improbable juxtaposition of seemingly random elements of text that reveal patterns in chaos. This brings to my mind another High Priest of the Weird, William S. Burroughs, and his Cut-Up Technique.
The time for the first part of our tale is the inter-winter period between 1926 and 1927. Lovecraft has referenced this time before and it was significant to the original pagans as well as the Tuetons and Norse, the ‘deep’ part of winter stretching from December through January, filled with holidays and spiritual significance the world over. Our archetype, the first manifestation of our trinity, is one Professor George Gamell Angell. The first manifestation of the Cthulhu Trinity is the angel, Gamaliel, known well to the gnostics and called by name in many a classical and modern grimoire. Gamaliel is a transmitter of knowledge, but not of the divine, the infernal. Our nameless narrator (presumably Lovecraft) is playing the part of Melchizedek. This is better illustrated by the writer of the blog, Gnostic Sophistries:
“Who is the mysterious figure of Melchizedek? In the Old Testament he is the priest-king of the ancient pre-Israelite city of Salem. He is described in Genesis 14:18 as the “king of Salem” and “priest of the Most High God.” There are some theological paradoxes involving this figure which will be addressed in this article. These issues may be summarized in the following question: Does Melchizedek really fit into the “orthodox” scheme of Bible theology; or is he really a prime example of the Bible’s inherent contradictions or paradoxes?
Before we move along to the issues in question, we must briefly touch on the historic place of Melchizedek in early Gnostic tradition. The fact that early Gnostics assigned importance to this figure may be seen in the treatise named after Melchizedek which is part of the Nag Hammadi Library. Unfortunately this text has succumbed to the ravages of time and is in very poor condition. Large sections of the text have been reduced to fragments; and many sentences in the restored text are little more than theoretical reconstructions. For this reason it is difficult to determine exactly what is said in the text aside from a few key themes, which will be summarized in brief below:
In this treatise Melchizedek is placed within the Gnostic scheme of salvation history; and spiritual secrets are unveiled regarding him. The main theme is where a certain angel named “Gamaliel” appears to Melchizedek and reveals the mysteries of the Godhead. This angel also reveals future events regarding the Savior Jesus and the crucifixion. Evidence of an actual link to Gnostic tradition may be seen in the mention of certain familiar “aions” such as Barbelo, and the four luminaries Harmozel, Oroiael, Daveithe and Eleleth, as mentioned in the Apocryphon of John . It seems that this text is meant to portray the initiation of Melchizedek into the mysteries of the Most High. If my reading is correct then Melchizedek is the archetypal Gnostic priest. In Bible history he is the first of the Gnostics—not in the literal sense, but in the sense that Melchizedek is a symbol of the Truth in the Old Testament which transcends the Law of Moses and the Rule of Jehovah and his Angels.”
Gamaliel is one of the aforementioned Tunnels of Set, the first tunnel that leads into the shifting maze of the Qliphoth. The modern Grimoire of Tiamat makes this connection as well as revealing another manifestation of Gamaliel, the Mušḫuššu:
“In historical sources, Mušḫuššu is called the ‘Furious Snake’ and depicted sometimes as a composite creature made up from the parts of a serpent, a lion, and a bird… Its early depiction show the creature a dragon with a lion’s head… Within the rites of magic, Mušḫuššu appears to the practitioner as a vampiric entity… connected with necromancy and death principle, feeding on blood and sexual energy… as a black bat-like dragon… She endows the practitioner… with the ability to transform the astral body of shadow and to fly through the astral plan as a wraith, a winged vampiric entity who can suck the life-force of a sleeping person. These characteristics resemble the nature of a succubus or an incubus, vampiric demons residing on the dark side of the moon, the qlipothic sphere of Gamaliel… In dreams and visions, she sometimes appears accompanied by creatures of the Sabbat… Mušḫuššu comes with wraiths and black shadows… She presides over the works of necrophilia and indices eroto-necromantic dreams.”
The Gnostics have an extensive treatment of Gamaliel, which we can derive from the Nag Hammadi library:
“And the Father nodded approval; the whole pleroma of the lights was well pleased. The [ministers] came forth: the first one, the great Gamaliel (of) the first great light Harmozel, and the great Gabriel (of) the second great light Oroiael, and the great Samlo of the great light Davithe, and the great Abrasax of the great light Eleleth. And the consorts of these came forth by the will of the good pleasure of the Father: the Memory of the great one, the first, Gamaliel; the Love of the great one, the second, Gabriel; the Peace of the third one, the great Samblo; the eternal Life of the great one, the fourth, Abrasax. Thus were the five ogdoads completed, a total of forty, as an uninterpretable power.”
Gamaliel represents the love of the Deep One, The Love of Cthulhu. This, we will see, is represented by obsession over his manifestation in the dreams of others by Professor Angell. Continuing with the Nag Hammadi text:
“After five thousand years, the great light Eleleth spoke: "Let someone reign over the chaos and Hades." And there appeared a cloud whose name is hylic Sophia [...] She looked out on the parts of the chaos, her face being like [...] in her form [...] blood. And the great angel Gamaliel spoke to the great Gabriel, the minister of the great light Oroiael; he said, 'Let an angel come forth, in order that he may reign over the chaos and Hades.'"
We now see that Gamaliel is also the beginning, it is it that calls for the angel that ‘reigns over Chaos and Hades. It is our professor that first calls for, that first plants in the collective imagination, the Deep One, stirring. Gamaliel is the evil manifestation of the sephiroth Yesod, the path where all knowledge of archetypes of the unconscious are located and unlocked, expect Gamaliel’s reign is over the archetypes of hell and madness.
And further, since Lovecraft denotes the narrator’s grand uncle is also the Professor Emeritus of Semitic Languages, another parallel vector in our archetype of Professor Angell is the Rabbi Gamaliel. This edge becomes less opaque when we review these words spoken by the Rabbi, in which he compares his students to different classes of fish:
“A ritually impure fish: one who has memorised everything by study, but has no understanding, and is the son of poor parents
A ritually pure fish: one who has learnt and understood everything, and is the son of rich parents
A fish from the Jordan River: one who has learnt everything, but doesn't know how to respond
A fish from the Mediterranean: one who has learnt everything, and knows how to respond”
Rabbi Gamaliel’s teachings on how students are different classes of fish is incredibly Lovecraftian and sending us back to his first primal oceanic spirit form, Dagon, and the white obelisk covered in hieroglyphs, revealing its cult of merpeople.
Lovecraft leaves us a number of locations of potential Gates where we, as twenty-first century Lovecraftian witches and mages, can tap into the vastness of this first mystery in the Cthulhu Trinity:
“The writing... was... in Professor Angell’s... hand... the main document was headed ‘CTHULHU CULT’... the manuscript was divided into two sections... the first of which was headed... 1925... Dream and Dream Work of H. A. Wilcox, 7 Thoms St. Providence, RI, and the second, ‘Narrative of Inspector John R. Legrasse, 121 Bienville St. New Orleans, LA... The other manuscript papers were all brief notes... accounts of the queer dreams of different persons... citations from theosophical books and magazines (notably W. Scott-Elliot’s Atlantis and the Lost Lemuria)... references to passages in... Frazer’s Golden Bough and... Murray’s ‘Witch-Cult in Western Europe.”
The first location, still extant, is the Fleur-de-lys Studios in Providence.
and the second, at one time a series of waterfront buildings, is now a tranquil park on the water in New Orleans, Woldenberg Park. Below is a historic photo from the turn of the last century. One can use this to journey back to a place suitable to open the Louisiana Gate to the first mystery of the Cthulhu trinity.
As can be seen in the above quote, our kind and learned guide also offers us a few reference texts found among the affects of Professor Angell. We can consider these all required reading directly from the gnostic librarian, Gamaliel:
The often cited Golden Bough from Frazer
and another favorite, found often in the vicinity of Lovecraftian Spirit Forms and magical events, Murray’s Witch Cult in Western Europe.
Professor Angell’s primary vehicle for transferring his Cthulhu Gnosis to our nameless Melchizedek is an account of the dreams of one H.A. Wilcox. These dreams lead up to a period where Wilcox, after suffering a type of fever attack, lies in a semi-coma between March 23rd and April 2nd. March 22nd coincides with the Festival of Attis. From Frazer’s Golden Bough:
“On the twenty-second day of March, a pine-tree was cut in the woods and brought into the sanctuary of Cybele, where it was treated as a great divinity. The duty of carrying the sacred tree was entrusted to a guild of Tree-bearers. The trunk was swathed like a corpse with woollen bands and decked with wreaths of violets, for violets were said to have sprung from the blood of Attis, as roses and anemones from the blood of Adonis; and the effigy of a young man, doubtless Attis himself, was tied to the middle of the stem. On the second day of the festival, the twenty-third of March, the chief ceremony seems to have been a blowing of trumpets. The third day, the twenty-fourth of March, was known as the Day of Blood: the Archigallus or highpriest drew blood from his arms and presented it as an offering. Nor was he alone in making this bloody sacrifice. Stirred by the wild barbaric music of clashing cymbals, rumbling drums, droning horns, and screaming flutes, the inferior clergy whirled about in the dance with waggling heads and streaming hair, until, rapt into a frenzy of excitement and insensible to pain, they gashed their bodies with potsherds or slashed them with knives in order to bespatter the altar and the sacred tree with their flowing blood. The ghastly rite probably formed part of the mourning for Attis and may have been intended to strengthen him for the resurrection.”
April 2nd is a bit more difficult to nail down, but is often cited as coinciding with the Festival of Eostre, the Teutonic Goddes whose traditions have infected the modern day Easter Celebrations. The worship of Eostre has little actual evidence and could be considered a mystery cult, if it is still in existence. Pathos has a few excellent insights into Eostre:
“Another candidate for the “historical Eostre” is a a localized goddess worshipped by the Anglo-Saxons in present day county Kent in Southeastern England. It’s in Kent where we see the oldest references to names similar to that of Eostre (Eastrgena appears in 788 CE). It’s recently been argued that perhaps she was a Germanic Matron Goddess . Linguist Philip Shaw (see his book Pagan Goddesses in the Early Germanic World) links a localized Eostre to the German Austriahenea, a matron goddess connected to the East. Shaw downplays the connection to “dawn” and focuses on linguistic evidence linking the two deities to the East (though the dawn connection might still exist even there since the sun rises in the East). If Eostre is indeed linked to goddesses like Austriahenea she might not even be a single goddess. Matron goddesses were often worshipped in triplicate.”
The speculation about Eostre being a matron goddess and the fact that Lovecraft bookends her festival with that of her consort, Attis, establishes a possible vector to Cybele, the Phrygian Mother Goddess and consort of Attis.
The Professor is cited as having engaged a ‘Cutting Bureau’ to pull together different news articles from around the world that meet different parameters. Two of these are of particular interest to us as we populate our reality with the Lovecraftian Magical Aesthetic. First is described as:
“A dispatch from California describes a theosophist colony as donning white robes en masse for some ‘glorious fulfillment’ which never arrives…”
This is very likely the Beachwood Canyon Compound , many of the buildings are still extant, making easy access for any Los Angeles Lovecraftian Magicians wishing to pull the veil between the Festivals of Attis and Eostre.
The second, in the author’s words, was:
“One case, which the note describes with emphasis, was very sad. The subject, a widely known architect with leanings toward theosophy and occultism, went violently insane on the date of young Wilcox’s seizure and expired several months later after incessant screamings to be saved from some escaped denizen of hell.”
Which can only be referring to the inimitable Rudolf Steiner , making any of his lectures or writings, especially those written towards the end of his life, significant for exploring our first mystery.
The tarot card that maps to the first archetype, Professor Angell, in the Cthulhu Trinity, is the Knight of Coins. Our Etteilla deck offers us the keywords of Utility and Inaction.
Utility breaks down into its primary component, ‘us,’ which in Etteilla’s native French means a custom or practice. Inaction, on the other hand, is the opposite (in-) of action. Similarly, in Old French, we have accion, which connects to the Latin actionem, a putting in motion, inaction can then be construed as ‘making still,’ or a removing from motion. It is a card of ritual and a card of rest, a ritual that speaks to that which forever lies.
Our Sola-Busca deck maps the Knight of Coins, with text in the upper right that reads SARRAFINO.
Peter Mark Adams corresponds this to the poet Serafino dell’Aquila, but I think we are better served by looking at the source of the word, seraph, or the burning one, cohort of the cherubim of which are plentiful in the deck. Focusing on the deconstruction of the word allows us to pull back and see the encoding beyond the theory that these cards are focused on historical figures. PMA’s correspondence to Serafino dell’Aquila is a bit problematic anyway, for the poet and his published works are nearly contemporary of the Sola-Busca deck’s printing and usage.
For our purposes, the Knight of Coins is representative of the angel Gamaliel, the first Tunnel of Set, the first mystery in the Cthulhu Trinity who imparts the knowledge of the Deep One as he sleeps in the form of patterns hidden deep in the chaos of dreams.