But that is not the end of the story. Eventually, the Entity spends “many years in Assam studying with a Tantric Adept” after which they both disappear, only to “surface” in a network of tunnels underneath Kamrup which Grant calls “the terrestrial power-zone of the Fire Snake.” The Entity then assumes the identity of an eccentric scientist—I am not making this up—who has an image of Nu-Isis in a cabinet before which burns an eternal flame. The image was of a woman, “suave, metallic, her body cast
in vitrified ojas …” and at a particular time the image comes to life and the scientist “cohabited regularly” with this “alien embodiment of the Fire Snake” until an explosion destroyed the scientist’s laboratory and “the surrounding terrain was violently upheaved by the impact of a series of elemental disasters.”191 However, all was not lost for a daughter had been born out of the cohabiting of the scientist with the statue—although she seems somewhat unpleasant.
After this, Grant writes that it is not a magical allegory but an account of the “recent astral history of the earth.”192
Let us take a moment to deconstruct the narrative, for it will yield some fascinating fruits.
In the first place, Assam is considered by some historians to have been the birthplace of Tantra. It is located on the far north-eastern end of India connected to the rest of the sub-continent by a narrow pass throught the mountains. Its ancient name was Kamrup, and it represented an independent kingdom bordering on Tibet. Grant identifies Kamrup as the ancient capital of Assam, but that is not technically true as Kamrup was the name of the entire kingdom (now a district of Assam).
It is the story of the eccentric and reclusive scientist, however, that is intriguing for a number of reasons.
In the 1930s H. P. Lovecraft went to Florida to visit Robert Barlow, a young man who was an aspiring writer. They had developed a friendship through correspondence, and Barlow was thrilled to have his idol come down from Rhode Island to see him in the Sunshine State. After visiting Barlow in De Land, Volusia County, Lovecraft went down to Key West. This first visit was in May—June of 1931. There were several other trips to Florida thereafter.
However, this visit to Key West opens up a number of intriguing possibilities. At that time, there was a strange, eccentric and reclusive scientist living in Key West, moreover someone who had been involved in the occult back in his native Germany, and who had spent time in India studying with gurus before eventually winding up in Australia at the beginning of the First World War. Significantly, he befriended a Sri Lankan monk who was a friend of Crowley’s mentor, Alan Bennett.
His story was one of the most bizarre episodes in Florida (or any state’s) history. The man was known variously as Count Carl von Cosel, or Carl
Tanzler, or Georg Karl Tänzler (1877-1952).
Tanzler was born in Dresden, Germany, and according to a lengthy article he had written for Fantastic Adventures magazine, he had paranormal experiences since he was a young man living in his family’s castle. He had recurring visions of a lovely woman—a famous ancestor— and another vision of a woman whom he called by various names, including Ayesha. But these were incorporeal women and disappeared as soon as he was aware of them. Fearing he was being haunted, he contacted several important paranormal experts in the region around Dresden.
These included names that are perhaps not as well known today, but were famous in their time. In the list were Carl du Prel (1839-1899), J. K.
F. Zöllner (1834-1882) and Carl Kiesewetter (1854-1895) among many others. The problem with Tanzler’s list is that most of these men would have been dead by the time he was having his experiences. In fact, du Prel died at the age of sixty and would have been alive at the time Tanzler was having his strange visions, but Zöllner would have died when Tanzler when was only five years old, and Kiesewetter would have died when Tanzler was only eighteen. According to Tanzler’s own account he was 20 years old when he asked these venerable gentlemen to assist him in his confusion. So it seems Tanzler was not being completely honest in compiling this list in an article published in September, 1947.
Eventually he left Germany for a tour to Asia, stopping first in Italy where he had another strong vision of this ethereal woman, Ayesha. Then at some point before the outset of World War One Tanzler found himself in India.
In that country, where he claimed he was studying Indian religion, he woke up one day to find himself in a morgue. Evidently something had gone wrong with one of his meditations and the local people thought he had died.
From India, he went to Australia where he was interned during the War even though he had become a naturalized British citizen. While he was in the internment camp, he made the acquaintance of a Sri Lanken monk named Nyanatiloka Thera. This particular monk was a friend of Crowley’s mentor Alan Bennett when the latter was known as the Bhikku Ananda Metteya. The two monks lived in the same ashram for a period of time.
From there, Tanzler went back to Germany after the end of the war and was encouraged by his family to emigrate to the United States. He stayed
in Germany from 1920-1925, the period that saw the collapse of German society due to their loss of the war, the Depression, and the rise of Nazism with the famous Beer Hall Putsch of 1923. In April, 1926 he arrived in the United States and moved first to Zephyrhills, Florida and then to Key West where he found work as a radiologist in 1927.
On April 22, 1930 he met a young woman, a tuberculosis patient by the name of Maria Elena Milagro de Hoyos. She was a twenty-one-year-old Cuban-American woman and a local beauty. Tanzler recognized her as the woman in the visions he had been having all his life, and fell in love with her. He courted her even though they were both married to other people. He tried various means to cure her of her illness, and claimed to have made good progress. But her family intervened. They did not want her seeing this self-professed medical man, but instead insisted that she return to the hospital and do whatever the regular doctors told her to do.
Maria Hoyos died on October 25, 1931. That should have been the end of the story, but things became increasingly strange after that.
Tanzler built her an elaborate mausoleum in the local cemetery, one to which he alone would have the key. While visiting her constantly he began a series of bizarre medical procedures designed first to keep her from decomposing, and then to raise her from the dead. In fact, as far as Tanzler was concerned, she was not really dead at all.
The story of how he attended to her is told in great detail in the Fantastic Adventures article, but suffice it to say that he claimed his ministrations were successful. Maria Elena was able to open her eyes, move her limbs, and speak. Tanzler kept several IVs pumping fluids into her body and removing other fluids and fighting a constant battle with maggots, but in the end he was certain that he was successful in bringing her back to life.
It was only a hurricane—Grant’s “elemental disasters”—that disrupted Tanzler’s operation. He was forced to take Maria Elena’s body out of the mausoleum in the dead of night and bring it to his home—where he built a special cabinet for her (in the shape of an aircraft … Tanzler had been making preparations to fly them both out of Florida as soon as she was “well enough” to make the trip).
Eventually, however, he was discovered by members of the young woman’s family. This was in October, 1940. That means almost ten years
after her death. Tanzler had been living with the corpse in his house and— according to some accounts—“cohabiting” with it—all that time.
He was arrested but the charges were dropped due to the expiration of the statute of limitations for corpse-tampering. Maria Elena’s body was buried in an unmarked grave and Tanzler, who could no longer stay in Key West due to the notoriety, moved back to the Zephyrhills area and then eventually wrote the story that appeared in Fantastic Adventures.
We have one certain indication, other than Tanzler’s own insistence, that he was involved with the occult long these events transpired. He wrote an article about his experience in the Australian internment camp for none other than the Rosicrucian Digest, published in March, 1939. This was before his arrest, but years after the death of Maria Elena Milagro (“miracle”) de Hoyos. When he finally died in 1952, he was found with a life-size effigy of Ms. de Hoyos.
Some dreams never die.
There are so many coincidences between this story and the one told by Grant in Beyond the Mauve Zone that we are forced to consider the possibility that they are one and the same. Add to this the idea that Lovecraft almost certainly knew of this story—it would have appealed to him immensely—and one wonders if it could have inspired his famous story “Herbet West—Re-Animator” (1921-1922) except this tale was written ten years before the events in question, while Tanzler was still in Germany. Another case of Lovecraft seeing into the future?
Tanzler does not refer to any German or American occult orders or initiations in his few autobiographical writings. He seems to have belonged to AMORC—the publisher of the Rosicrucian Digest—and he claims to have lived for awhile in India (somewhere in the period from about 1912- 1914 or so) and studied yoga and Indian mysticism. His close friendship with one of Alan Bennett’s fellow monks is also intriguing, but in the end we do not have much more information than that.
Was Tanzler a member of any occult lodge or secret society? We can’t answer that for sure, but his account of how he tended to the corpse of his beloved Maria Elena has all the hallmarks of an occult operation and seems to fit some of the details given by Grant—who may have heard the story from someone else. The interesting detail given in Grant and not in Tanzler is the existence of a “child,” a daughter (presumably non-human) born out of this unholy wedlock. Depending on how Tanzler was
“cohabiting” with her corpse—if there were Tantric elements involved— Grant could have been revealing some privileged knowledge about the case.
The woman that Tanzler kept seeing he identified at one point as a priestess named Ayesha. Ayesha then materialized in the form of Maria Elena, who then died from tuberculosis before they could be married. Tuberculosis, of course, is the illness most associated with popular ideas about vampirism: the condition of a corpse who has died of TB bears resemblance to ideas about vampires, and as someone wastes away from the disease they exhibit all the symptoms popularly associated with having their blood sucked from their bodies.
There is much to work with here, indeed, and perhaps one day we will come a little closer to understanding what really motivated Tanzler—an otherwise responsible, scientific-minded German, a world-traveler, a man of at least three nationalities (his native German, plus his naturalized British then his naturalized American citizenships), friend of monks and practitioner of Asian mysticism, and even member of a Rosicrucian group.
But what brings it all together is sexual magic.
Sexuality is the key that opens the Gate to the Mauve Zone. That does not necessarily mean that sexual intercourse within a ritual setting is the only way this can be done. Instead, other methods of awakening the Fire Snake may be employed, including purely passive methods such as meditation and yoga, as well as the other means of “deranging the senses” that are available, from drugs to drumming. Systems that involve the autonomic nervous system directly are the easiest—i.e., fastest—way to accomplish this goal, but they are also (obviously) the most dangerous. Tantric experts insist that no self-initiation in Tantra is possible; that one should always seek the help and training of a qualified guru. The problem with this advice, as good as it is, is that so many gurus have been exposed as dangerous themselves, or at least as unreliable and corrupt. Thus, many seekers have fallen back on self-initiation as the only possible way, not realizing that this path may be at least as dangerous as following a false teacher.
The sorcerers that populate Lovecraft’s works often work in groups. There was the orgiastic cult in “The Call of Cthulhu,” and the devil- worshippers in “The Thing on the Doorstep,” as well as the Starry Wisdom
cult, and the Dagon worshippers in “The Shadow Over Innsmouth.” But there were also solitary practitioners, such as Old Whateley in “The Dunwich Horror.” What connected all of these disparate characters was the Tradition itself.
Lovecraft’s Weltanschauung is fairly consistent. There was an ancient race from beyond the stars who visited or populated the Earth at some vastly distant time, but whose devotees still exist in the world, usually intent on bringing back the Old Ones to rule the Earth again. Alternatively, there are ancient texts found by independent sorcerers—texts like the Necronomicon—that provide formulas for evoking these seemingly unpleasant creatures from their extra-dimensional, supramundane homes for reasons that are hard to fathom. No one really knows why Old Whateley wanted to bring down one of these creatures to impregnate his own daughter. No one really explains why these cults in the swamps outside New Orleans would want Cthulhu to awaken from his million- years-slumber. It seems to be understood, if unspoken, that there exists in some human beings a deep desire to experience what is on the other side of the great divide that separates us from true knowledge; that the experience of the occult is addictive; and that contact with beings from “other worlds” may be scientifically impossible or unproveable, but nonetheless real to those who have had that contact—for it changes their lives forever.
Many people have experiences that can be described as paranormal or otherworldly. No matter how much scientific minds try to explain these experiences away using perfectly rational arguments, the emotional content of these experiences remain stronger than the best common-sense explanation. The occultist makes a deliberate attempt to have as many of these experiences as possible, in a controlled environment and under repeatable circumstances. The approach to these paranormal or otherworldly experiences is a carefully-constructed one. It often has as its purpose the attainment of superior knowledge and ability, or the acquisition of paranormal powers. This has the potential to derange the average person.
The human psycho-biological organism has been trained for survival. Every action must be understood as somehow promoting that need. When actions do not make sense as survival strategies—such as ritual magic, and other processes deemed “retroversions” of the survival instinct—then the organism is stressed. It finds itself forced to come up with a rationale for