April 30, 1945 is the day when it was alleged that Adolf Hitler committed suicide in the Berlin bunker.
April 30, 1975 is the day when Saigon fell to the North Vietnamese army, signalling the end of the Vietnam War.
April 30, 1978 is the day the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan was proclaimed, with disastrous consequences.
And on and on.
Into the north window of my chamber glows the Pole Star with uncanny light … The Pole Star, evil and monstrous, leers down from the black vault, winking hideously like an insane watching eye which strives to convey some strange message, yet recalls nothing save that it once had a message to convey.
—H. P. Lovecraft, “Polaris” (1918)
Lovecraft’s conscious employment of the Great Bear and Polaris in his stories may be an indication that he was aware of the role these astronomical entities play in the cults he describes with such terror. Frater Achad—whose strange insistence on a contemporaneous Aeon of Maat we have already described—had this to say about the same constellation:
The first boy and his mother were called Sut-Typhon.
Sut means “The Opener,” and this may be taken in the physiological as well as the astrological sense. The Child was the opener in the sense of being born of the un-mated Mother. The Sun is the Opener of the Day, while Sut as the Star-god was considered the Opener of the Year with the rising of Sothis, and on his rising was the Great Bear cycle founded.149
While Achad links the Great Bear with Set in his writings, Grant does the same in the Typhonian trilogies:
Celestial, not terrestrial, lineage was the matter of contention. In the course of ages, the ancestors of the Terrestrial Typhonians came to be typified by the Great Bear constellation connected with vastly ancient myths inspired by dim memories of the earliest colonisers of earth, and descended from Typhonian star systems.150
Thus we can see that Grant believes that the earliest colonizers of earth came from a region we identify with the Great Bear constellation which is consistent with the Lovecraft short story referenced above, “The Whisperer in the Darkness,” in which alien beings from the Great Bear constellation began coming to earth in aeons past and concerned themselves with mining a specific ore from our planet. Grant is referring in this work to the idea that the type of “lineage” typified by such popular authors as Dan Brown in his DaVinci Code and in other works—fiction and non-fiction—that have come out of the Holy Blood, Holy Grail genre does not refer to an earthly bloodline but to a celestial one (not necessarily a “heavenly” or “divine” bloodline, but one that comes from off-planet). This is a type of lineage that transcends genetics as we understand it and manifests as occult currents through the ages, much in the way that apostolic succession is a “lineage” within the Catholic and Orthodox
churches except that, in this case, the lineage to which Grant refers has its origins not on earth or within earthly organizations but in the stars. It is this type of lineage that makes itself known in the works of both Crowley and Lovecraft as we have seen: works produced by these two men, unknown to each other, yet displaying an uncanny pattern of coincidence and agreement. It is what prompted Grant to speak of a Thelemic current as well as a Necronomicon and an Egyptian current, and to identify them as three separate strands of the same lineage.
The Lovecraftian idea that these ancient, extraterrestrial beings came to the earth in order to mine a specific stone has deep resonance with a whole host of concepts connected with alchemy, sexuality, and Tantra, and it is a theme that Lovecraft has explored in more than one short story.
Aside from the oeuvre published under his own name, Love-craft is known to have helped other authors with their stories, in some cases rewriting them entirely but permitting them to be published as original works by the same authors. One particular story reinforces the Grant thesis that Crowley’s mysterious “Tulu” and Lovecraft’s Cthulhu are one and the same.
This is the story entitled “The Mound” and attributed as the work of Zealia Bishop. It was written in the period 1929-1930 and appears in the collection of Lovecraft’s “other” works, The Horror in the Museum, edited by Lovecraft scholar S. T. Joshi. In this story we have references to “ingots of magnetic Tulu-metal”151 and the “sacred and magnetic Tulu-metal.”152 This story also has a reference to a sunken city, referred to in a Mexican dialect as Relex. Anyone familiar with how the Spanish “x” is pronounced will immediately realize that this word is pronounced “Rel-eh” with a hard “h,” thus giving us a form of R’lyeh.
In this story we have again the theme of mining specific metals, in this case Tulu metal, which is magnetic and therefore of a north-south polarity consistent with the Necronomicon Gnosis and its emphasis on the north- south axis versus the solar east-west axis. It should be pointed out once again that the word “Tulu” is specific to both Lovecraft and to Crowley: it is a point of tangence between the two authors that reflects a deeper connection than we normally attribute to the horror writer and the prophet of the New Age.
Mircea Eliade, the famous historian of religion at the University of Chicago, wrote concerning sacred stones in his The Forge and the
It is not very long since the kings of Malaya kept a sacred block of iron which was part of their regalia and surrounded it with an extraordinary veneration mingled with superstitious terror. …It was not a question of fetishism or of the worship of an object in itself or for its own sake; it was not a matter of superstition but a sacred respect for a strange object outside their own familiar world, an object coming from elsewhere and hence a sign or token of the ‘beyond,’ a near-image of the transcendental.153
Eliade equates the practice of mining with a whole host of concepts related to alchemical transformation. The miner was an initiate of the dark mysteries: by working in the caves and hidden places of the earth he was in constant contact with the spirits that dwelled in the underworld. He was also privvy to the secret processes whereby a stone could become gold. He knew where objects were buried and hidden. His day turned into night as he descended into the bowels of the earth, below any visible horizon and thus out of reach of the sun and the stars.
The cult of Mithra conducted its mysterious initiations in caves, in the place of mines and buried treasure, away from the light of the sun. For this reason (and several others), I believe that the Mithraists were not worshipping the Sun god and that the sacred Bull that was slain by Mithra was not an emblem of the zodiacal sign Taurus but of the constellation known as the Great Bear. I develop this theory more carefully in Stairway to Heaven, but basically I identify nocturnal worship with stellar worship, especially in the case of cults and religions that had no other reason to meet in secret since they were not being suppressed or engaging in antinomian practices.
There was an ancient understanding that there was an analogue between the bowels of the earth and the embryonic stages of gestation. The earth gave birth to gold and other precious metals through a long process of metallurgical gestation. The alchemist understood these processes and knew how to hurry them along, to “induce labor” one might say so that the earth gave up its treasures more quickly. The natural process of human evolution may, one day, result in a being of higher intelligence and spiritual illumination; but it is the work of the magician to “induce labor”
in the initiate, to hurry along the natural process of spiritual evolution so that it takes place (at least for the individual) in a single lifetime.
This has relevance for the discussion of the reptilian brain, above; for just as human beings evolved over the long term from watery creatures to amphibious mammals to mammals and finally to homo sapiens, so the human embryo goes through a similar process of living in an aqueous solution until it “crawls out onto dry land,” i.e., is born into the world as an air-breathing creature, crawling on all fours and eventually walking upright. In this sense, every magician and every alchemist is an embryo going through the same process as the human embryo, as the metals in the earth, as the entire human race itself. But it must begin by probing the reptilian brain and discovering its contents and neutralizing them, making them servants of the Will. And what better representative of the reptilian brain and the danger and loathesomeness that it conceals than the hideous form of the High Priest of the Great Old Ones, Cthulhu himself?
The Necronomicon Gnosis recognizes that some of the steps along the way were evolutionary dead-ends, at least from the point of view of homo sapiens. While some creatures did not survive and became extinct on our world, the Gnosis insists that not all of them died out permanently but that their scars remain on our DNA, dormant, “dead but dreaming” of the day when they will be “turned on” by environmental or other factors and rise with a roar from the bowels of our own, individual R’lyehs.
In his house at R’lyeh dead Cthulhu waits dreaming.
—H. P. Lovecraft
Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.
—C. G. Jung
Lovecraft’s core story, “The Call of Cthulhu,” is the repository of all the basic themes and motifs that appear in his later tales. It reflects his basic preoccupations with ancient races, mysterious cults, non-Euclidean geometry, and the power of dreams. It also introduces us to Cthulhu, the high priest of the Great Old Ones, and the sunken city of R’lyeh where Cthulhu lies dead, but dreaming.
The idea of a sunken or buried civilization is something that has been with us for thousands of years. Plato famously referred to the vanished civilization of Atlantis; and rumors of a Lemuria and a Mu—more sunken civilizations—became prevalent in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Then there was the Hollow Earth theory and the claim that Admiral Byrd had seen the entrance to this “inner earth” through a hole in the vicinity of the North Pole. So the sunken city meme has been a staple of fantasy history for quite some time.
Lovecraft’s genius lay in reinterpreting these stories from a darker point of view. Lovecraft’s sunken city of R’lyeh is where the Great Old Ones were defeated by some quirk of space or time, and where Cthulhu lies buried in his house-like tomb beneath the waves. This ancient city is older than Atlantis or any of its other mythical counterparts. It was built—using geometry that was all “wrong”—by the race from the stars, a race that used to own the planet Earth in aeons past and which is on the verge of returning when the “stars are right.”
If we analyze this story from the point of view of depth psychology, we can see a certain level of consistency with modern ideas concerning the unconscious and the danger of repressing unconscious feelings and especially the knowledge that lies buried in the deep, forgotten corners of the human mind. In this approach, R’lyeh becomes the unconscious itself,
and Cthulhu is the Shadow that waits to be discovered: the potentially dangerous, violent, evil aspect of human nature. An aspect that communicates with us the same way Cthulhu communicates with his followers: in dreams.
Freud famously claimed that dreams were the “royal road to the unconscious,” and Lovecraft might have agreed. To the gothic horror writer, dreams were certainly the royal road to R’lyeh, to the dead but dreaming High Priest, Cthulhu. He writes that Cthulhu is in communication with his human followers through a kind of telepathy that manifests in their dreams. This is what triggered the creation of the Cthulhu sculpture by young Wilcox and which sets in motion “The Call of Cthulhu.” We learn that this “call” is indeed the dream-stream sent by Cthulhu from deep within the sunken city, from deep within what Jung called the “collective unconscious.”
It may be a truism that what demands to be known in our dreams is not some beautiful image of heaven or some pleasing, loving memory—but something more sinister, something uglier that needed to be “put down,” that needed to be suppressed in order that the rest of the personality could survive in the real world. The only persons who deliberately evoked those nightmares to visible appearance were the mystics, the magicians, and the shamans. I have written at some length in other works about the shamanistic initiations, and of course Mircea Eliade has discussed this at some length in his seminal work on the subject, Shamanism. This type of initiation involves a direct confrontation with the suppressed psychic material that involves the death, dismemberment, and re-integration of the individual psyche. For someone who has come through this type of experience the dread Cthulhu could hold no fears.
It may also be a truism that this suppressed material is connected with sexual issues. It may involve sexual trauma of the individual at a very young age, or physical or emotional abuse of some kind by an older person. While the exact identity and nature of the trauma will be different from person to person, the Minotaur in the Labyrinth is the same: the different types of abuse reflect different pathways in the Labyrinth, but they all lead to the same Monster at the center. Lovecraft called this Monster by a name he heard or invented or dreamed: Cthulhu.
As described in the Schlangekraft recension of the Necronomicon, the ancient Sumerians had just such a sunken city in their myth cycles. The
gate to this underworld palace was through the city of Gudua, the city that became Cutha and Kutu. Cthulhu is Kutu-lu, the Man of the Underworld. He is a hybrid creature, as envisioned by Lovecraft, something crustacean or squid-like. As a High Priest of the Old Ones, he is the liminal figure between humanity and the ancient race from the stars. He lives in the Underworld, in R’lyeh, and can be summoned by those who hear his call through their fevered dreams.
In “The Call of Cthulhu” Lovecraft reveals that the rituals required to summon the Great Old Ones involve orgies by people who are of mixed races, the implication being that they are not white Europeans but Arabs, Africans, and Asians … all races of which Lovecraft was deeply suspicious and fearful. This conflation of unbridled sexuality and exotic races and ethnicities is a common theme in colonialist literature and was a feature in the castigation of the practice of Tantra in India by the British colonizers. Again, Lovecraft has touched on a deep current of occult tradition and methodology in his fantasies, understanding that contact may be made with the darker aspects of the human mind through avenues provided by sexuality. He was not alone in this, of course. The French Decadent poets and authors also made that connection, and the stories of the Black Mass with its worship of Satan combined with sexual orgies are representative of this idea. It was Lovecraft, however, who extended this concept even further by associating the sexual orgies with the worship—not of Satan, or of any human-created or human-inspired boogeyman—but of the most ancient, primordial and non-human race that once controlled the planet and which was on the verge of returning again to reclaim it. Lovecraft wanted to go deeper, darker, into more dangerous territory. He understood that there were levels to human consciousness that could not be plumbed by spiritual dilettantes, and that the rituals employed by sorcerers and magicians had implications far beyond what these individuals believed to be possible … or desirable. To evoke Cthulhu or any of the Great Old Ones was to invite disaster (from the original meaning of the word, dis-aster or “evil star”) and destruction for the entire planet. It was to cause a mental or nervous breakdown for the entire human race.