At the center of this complex of ideas rests the unholy book itself, the Necronomicon. To Lovecraft, this book contains the spells used by members of the Cthulhu cult and instructions on how to keep the Gate between Us and Them—the ultimate “liminality”—closed forever. The
spells are in a language that is unknown, containing diagrams that seem meaningless yet somehow unnerving in their weird geometry. It is a repository of bits and pieces of ancient knowledge—like our dreams, like our own unconscious—and to read it is to become entranced, to enter a dream state while awake, to fear oneself going insane. It is a book of Death, as its name implies, a collection of antique ceremonies and smatterings of images from our collective past. It offers a symbol set that speaks directly to the unconscious, to Cthulhu, in the language Cthulhu uses for communicating to us in our dreams. Instead of Freud’s famous Interpretation of Dreams it is a book of dreams that interprets us. It is our collective dreamworld as humans, fragmentary and filled with lacunae as it may be, a satanic semiotics that offers a two-lane pathway to our darkest memories as a race of humans and of our contact—at some distant, immemorial past—with another race of being, a contact that was perhaps not quite so pleasant as we may wish to believe. It enables us to interpret and decipher our dreams (the messages from Cthulhu) but also provides a means for communicating back. As Grant understood, the Necronomicon is also a manual not only of dream interpretation (a la Freud) but of dream control.
It’s how we communicate with the denizens of the sunken city, whether we call it R’lyeh or the collective unconscious. And it uses the fiber optic cable of the serpent brain to transfer its bits and … “bites.”
- And, conversely, liberation theology with anti-ecclesiastical movements, but that is another story for another time.
- H.P. Lovecraft, “The Call of Cthulhu.”
- Kenneth Grant, Outside the Circles of Time, London: Frederick Muller, 1980, p. 14 133 Kenneth Grant, Outer Gateways, London: SKOOB, 1994, p. 149
134 Kenneth Grant, Nightside of Eden, London: SKOOB, 1994, Chapter Six “Typhonian Teratomas.” 135 This is possibly a reference to the ancient Babylonian concept of the lilitu: demons of the night. 136 H.P. Lovecraft, “The Dunwich Horror.”
- From the Memorandum of The Surrealist Revolution, 1925.
- That this might have been a veiled or even unconscious allusion on Lovecraft’s part to incest has not escaped the author, of course. Yet, as we have seen, allusions to incest are integral to the Star Sapphire Ritual that Crowley wrote under intense spiritual stress and these two eruptions of incest symbolism may be related to the subject under discussion.
- Kenneth Grant, Aleister Crowley and the Hidden God, pp. 15-16.
- C.G. Jung “Answer to Job” in his Collected Works, Volume 11, Psychology and Religion: West and East.
- C. G. Jung, Memories, Dreams, Reflections, 1983, London, p. 262. 142 H.P. Lovecraft, “The Shadow Out of Time.”
- Kenneth Grant, Aleister Crowley and the Hidden God, pp. 97-98. In this section he references violence as only one way among many to arouse Kundalini.
- See the pioneering work of Paul MacLean-the discoverer of the reptilian brain—in this regard.
- See, for instance, this from Lovercraft’s “The Shadow Out of Time”: “According to these scraps of information, the basis of the fear was a horrible elder race of half polypous, utterly alien entities which had come through space from immeasurably distant universe and had dominated the earth and three other solar planets about six hundred million year ago.” Thus, our reptilian brains and this “horrible elder race” are contemporaneous, if not consanguinous!
- H. P. Lovecraft, “The Whisperer in the Darkness”
- Kenneth Grant, Aleister Crowley and the Hidden God, p. 122
- Due to the precession of the equinoxes, the hour has shifted slightly from year to year. See Simon’s Gates of the Necronomicon for specific dates and times.
- Frater Achad, The Egyptian Revival, p. 2. It should be noted that “Sut” is Achad’s rendering of “Set,” the Dark Lord.
- Kenneth Grant, Outer Gateways, p. 35
- Zealia Bishop, “The Mound” in The Horror In The Museum, edited by S.T. Joshi, Arkham House Publishers, Sauk City, WI, 1989, p. 135.
152 Ibid., p. 151
- Mircea Eliade, The Forge and the Crucible, p. 27. The author can attest that blocks of sacred stone—surrounded by iron fences to keep the profane at a distance—are still in evidence in the Archipelago.
SONS OF GOD, DAUGHTERS OF MEN … AND
… Sophia’s focus on her desire and passion to “know” the Father resulted in an amorphous nasty miscarriage.154
It was in the township of Dunwich … that Wilbur Whateley was born at 5 a.m. on Sunday, the second of February, 1913. This date was recalled because it was Candlemas, which people in Dunwich curiously observe under another name … Less worthy of notice was the fact that the mother was one of the decadent Whateleys, a somewhat deformed, unattractive albino woman of 35, living with an aged and half-insane father about whom the most frightful tales of wizardry had been whispered in his youth. Lavinia Whateley had no known husband …155
The incursion of extra-terrestrial influences into the human life- wave, unconsciously or consciously attracted to the individual embryo, would be a means of incarnating such mutants. The intense magical operations which Crowley performed (especially those which occurred between 1920 and 1924) could, and probably did, engender strange and “unearthly” children.156
THE SUBJECT OF THIS CHAPTER concerns the most controversial and perhaps most titillating aspect of the Grant ouevre: his focus on sexuality within the context of magic. We have touched on it briefly here and there in the pages that precede this one, but the author would like to dwell a bit more deeply on this issue since it is so critical towards an understanding of Grant’s Typhonian Tradition and many readers possibly would find it difficult to reconcile such material with Lovecraft’s known reluctance to discuss sexuality at all in his own work.
In order to do justice to this difficult subject, we will be reverting from time to time to Gnostic texts and interpretations since it may come as a
surprise to some readers that the early Gnostics were very concerned with human sexuality and its place in the universe. There were probably as many different versions of “spiritual sexuality” among the Gnostics as there were Gnostic sects. Our sources for this material are unfortunately restricted to Christian commentators who were notoriously hostile to Gnosticism and whose data is thus suspect, as well as the surviving Gnostic fragments themselves such as the Nag Hammadi scrolls. What we will find in this discussion is a justification for much of what passes for “sacred sexuality” in the Thelemic framework, but also an elaboration of Lovecraft’s own fears—perhaps unconscious—concerning the potential disasters of “liberated” sexuality and especially of intercourse—carnal and otherwise—with discarnate entities, gods, demons, and … others.
We will also have recourse to Tantra, as Grant relies more heavily on Tantra than on Gnosticism for an understanding of the inner workings of magic and the relevance of sexual practices to Thelema. Like the Gnostics before them, Thelemites are concerned with sexuality as a form of worship and/or magical power. In this they are no different from the Tantrikas of India, Nepal and Tibet and indeed they share many ideas and concepts in common. To Grant, this was a genuine revelation and he saw a broader context for Thelema in the occult practices of Asia and Africa as well as within the framework of the Necronomicon Gnosis which is not bashful about confronting the nastier bits of occult praxis.
One of the antipodes in this study concerns the weird polarity of H. P. Lovecraft and Aleister Crowley. The former was notoriously sexually ambivalent, virtually asexual. He lived most of his life as a celibate, married for only two years and even then did not live with his wife for much of that time. The latter was notorious in an entirely different way: Crowley had sex with anyone and it seems anything within reach. Male or female, young or old, of whatever race, whatever degree of physical health or actual physical deformity (like poor Lavinia Whateley, above, who would have made a perfect partner for the English magician, but who had to settle for her “half-insane” wizard of a father).
Their approach to magic was similarly opposite. Crowley enthusiastically engaged in sexual magic for the purpose of creating spiritual offspring who would carry out his various tasks. Lovecraft found such behavior revolting, but in his stories there is a tacit acknowledgement that the system worked, just not in the way Crowley would have anticipated. To Lovecraft, human sexual intercourse with gods, aliens, demons, etc. could only result in hideous monsters out to destroy all of humanity. To Crowley, such intercourse would produce servants who would be more capable than the human version, “You can’t get good help nowadays” being the operative principle.
In Lovecraft’s stories there are no “good” magicians except for those who become battlefield trained in order to undo some other magician’s work, to close the Gate and to send Wilbur Whateley’s twin back to where it came, etc. To Lovecraft the person, magic was superstition and at least one cause of humanity’s distress, so his position was relatively consistent: no matter how you looked at it, either as a believer or as an atheist, magic was bad. At best it was a waste of time, at worst it was an unholy practice designed to enslave humanity.
Thus, in Lovecraft and Crowley we have two oppposing points of view and two very different personalities. We especially have two very different approaches to sexuality, as well. Then how were these two men somehow “picking up” some identical information?
We can say that Lovecraft was a natural sensitive—as are many true artists—and that regardless of his ideology he was nevertheless in tune
with the occult currents of the day. In this he was different from Crowley in that Crowley’s art was always in service to his ideology; his novels are occult romans-a-clef his poetry is designed to be used as keys to his magical worldview. Crowley used his novel Moonchild to attack and ridicule those he despised, such as Arthur Edward Waite and MacGregor Mathers. Lovecraft used his stories to praise and recognize his friends, such as Clark Ashton Smith.
In fact, Lovecraft had friends: a wide circle of friends with whom he pretty much stayed in contact for most of his life, usually through his voluminous correspondence but also in visits out of the State of Rhode Island where he lived to New York City, Florida, and other parts of the country. Crowley, on the other hand, alienated many of his friends over time and those who stuck by him were few and far between. It’s hard to be chummy with the Prophet of a New Age.
So for all of Lovecraft’s sexual timidity he had more consistent social contacts than the man who would engage in any form of sexual intercourse with just about anyone. They were opposite poles, indeed, and their common interests kept them on the same axis. Both Lovecraft and Crowley wrote of contact with extra-mundane forces, of ancient races, lost temples, bizarre occult practices, and strange, devil-worshipping cults. It is in the tension between their two, diametrically-opposed, points of view that we find the most valuable information and inspired insights.
Lovecraft’s most notable discussion of how magic might be used to create hideous beings when coupled with sexual practices is in his famous short story “The Dunwich Horror” which was made into a film back in 1970. It concerns the “half-insane” old wizard Whateley and the unnameable rites he performed on his deformed, albino daughter Lavinia. There were two genetic Whateley lines, the decayed and the undecayed lines according to Lovecraft and, of course, Old Whateley belonged to the decayed line. Thus there was the implication that this particular genetic strain was already tainted and the pattern of abnormal births was an indication either that something was amiss with the wizardry since long ago, or that the genetic abnormalities were somehow necessary to the effectiveness of the rites.
Wanted: Dwarfs, Hunchbacks, Tattooed Women, Harrison Fisher Girls, Freaks of all sorts, Coloured women, only if exceptionally
ugly or deformed, to pose for artist. Apply by letter with a photograph.157
Crowley was not averse to having sexual relations with women of different racial and ethnic backgrounds, as well as with women who were physically different in some obvious way. He was also not averse to having homosexual relations, and often as the “bottom” or receiving partner in acts of anal sex. There is no indication that Crowley received much in the way of sexual satisfaction from these acts, and his Confessions and other writings tend to support the view that he approached virtually all sexuality from a magical standpoint which was inextricable from a psychological one. As it is almost certain that Lovecraft did not enjoy sexuality (at least, not enough to seek out sexual opportunities with any degree of passion or determination) we might say that these two men shared a common approach. Neither Crowley nor Lovecraft engaged in sexual activity with the primary intention of obtaining sexual satisfaction or gratification. For Crowley, sexual activity was subordinate to the demands of the Great Work: it was ritual and a pragmatic utilization of his psycho-biological apparatus, a method to be used to plumb the depths of his psyche as well as to make contact with other forces in the universe. For Lovecraft it just wasn’t an issue at all. For both men, it could be claimed that sexuality was not about physical satisfaction or even need. It was about something else entirely.
The conflicts now raging in the world are due to the birth-pangs of the Aeon of Horus. Sexual methods of establishing contact with entities more evolved than man will be perfected and there are already signs of their development.158
As mentioned previously, there are several similarities that can be noted between the sexual mysticism of Thelema and the Gnostic conception of sexuality and marriage as represented by the Valentinians. We have already seen that the Aeons of Valentinian Gnosticism have their parallels to the Thelemic Aeons. In the case of human sexuality, there are even deeper connections and they can be used as a prism through which to understand Grant’s preoccupation with Tantra as a means of reinterpreting Thelemic magic.
The Christian commentator Clement of Alexandria (c. 150-c. 215 CE) wrote extensively on Gnosticism in order to refute it. The Valentinians, alone among the various Gnostic sects, attract his approval because of their positive view towards marriage as the attempt to bring down the divine emanations. The Valentinians—according to Clement—saw human marriage as the earthly representation of the syzygies: the male-female pairs that were the first emanations of the Father and which eventually resulted in the Creation as we know it.