Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Hyper-Carbolating the Furtive Gates of Becoming 2: Between

   Now she changed her shape
dared to become someone else.
   She took up five scythes
   six hoes past their prime:
she fashioned them into claws
fitted them to be her feet;
the shattered part of the craft
   she put under her;
the sides she slapped into wings
the rudder to be her tail;
put a hundred men under a wing
a thousand at her tail tip --
   the hundred swordsmen
the thousand fellows who shot.
And she spread her wings to fly 
as an eagle lifted off...
     -- The Kalevala

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Swami Chandraputra/Dr. Challenger/znore (a quintessential unreliable narrator) continues to tell his(?) dubious tale:

In the back chamber of the cavern, the “Snake-Den,” Randolph Carter approached the “pylon” gate and commenced the ritual that would open it:

Then he drew forth the Silver Key, and made motions and intonations whose source he could only dimly remember. Was anything forgotten? He knew only that he wished to cross the barrier to the untrammelled land of his dreams and the gulfs where all dimensions dissolve in the absolute.

Four things in particular stand out in this quote, and these four indicate that Carter is explicitly conducting a form of magic that is universally found throughout the cultures and ages of this world. To open the gate Carter requires a key, ritual movement and arcane intonations. These three elements are extremely important, but the fourth is even more so: intent. His expressed desire and wish is to cross into the realm of his dreams and then beyond this into the absolute.

The order of Carter’s intentions here is at the crux of Lovecraft’s whole creative project, and it has implications for all such journeys over the threshold. Carter’s primary concern, as we’ll find out, is to bodily enter the lost kingdoms of his dreams. His desire to merge into the infinite or eternal beyond both space and time is also a fundamental motivation, but is not the initial propelling force.

Carter, who is certainly Lovecraft, is driven by his dreams. It is the astral “extension” of this world through the first gate that he is really seeking, the origin and location of “dreams,” and not, at least in the beginning, the inexplicable absolute that beckons behind the second.

To really understand Carter’s intentions requires going further back into Lovecraft’s series of stories about Randolph Carter, and to show within these how the mind of Lovecraft is directly reflected in that of his favourite character.

But before going there let’s return to the cow pastures at the edge of the Colombian rain forest. This involves a leap, or an overlay, of time from October 7, 1928 to March 4, 1971, and a magical flight from Arkham to the Amazon.

The efficacy of the Experiment at La Chorrera -- an ad hoc magical working couched in pseudo-scientific terminology and methods -- was also dependent on the four preconditions pinpointed above.

The experiment itself was highly ritualized. The setting, time, motions, etc. were chosen not to conform with the scientific method, despite the lip service given to it, but according to synchronistic or magical correspondence. The crucial use of sound and vocal intonation -- supposedly activating "electron spin resonance" -- also finds a match in Carter's incantations. Finally, the ayahuasca plus psilocybin mushrooms together constituted the silver key.

The stated intention of the experiment, however, appears to have been quite different. The exploration of the dream realm was never an expressed aim of the McKenna brothers. The intermediary dimension was not the primary destination. Instead, the goal was the creation of a alchemical hyper-object that was a fusion of both matter and spirit.

This may turn out to be an important distinction as this exploration proceeds. However similar the Arkham and Amazon workings were structurally, Carter's/Lovecraft's intent was quite unique.

Homesick For Ethereal Lands

Yet Randolph Carter is not exactly H.P. Lovecraft. Carter is said to have been fifty-four years old when he disappeared in 1928. At this time Lovecraft would have been only twenty-seven, a difference of also 27 years. But it is in the inner lives of the two men -- author and character -- and quite apart from differences in age or other superficial considerations, where the deep parallels become evident.

Carter, like Lovecraft, is a writer of weird fiction and it is suspected in both cases that these stories are not as fictional as they let on to be. From Through the Gates of the Silver Key:

His career had been a strange and lonely one, and there were those who inferred from his curious novels many episodes more bizarre than any in his recorded history.

And many of these bizarre episodes occurred, for the two men, while dreaming. In both his letters and in his poetry, which give the feeling of direct autobiographical experience, Lovecraft extols the importance of his dreams. According to his letters he was not a user of drugs or psychedelic plants, as the McKenna brothers and many other inner explorers certainly were and are, but he considered his dreams to be a far superior key to these realms.

The occultist Kenneth Grant quotes from one such letter of Lovecraft’s in The Magical Revival, in which Lovecraft is claiming not to need opium, as did Thomas de Quincey, in order to achieve visions of other times and worlds.

I never took opium, but if I can't beat him [de Quincey] for dreams for the age of three or four up, I am a dashed liar! Space, strange cities, weird landscapes, unknown monsters, hideous ceremonies, Oriental and Egyptian gorgeousness, and indefinable mysteries of life, death, and torment, were daily -- or rather nightly -- commonplaces to me before I was six years old. Today it is the same, save for a slightly increased objectivity.

At some stage, however, if we continue the comparison of Lovecraft with Carter, it seems that HPL’s capacity to dream in this deeply visionary manner did nearly dry up. Lovecraft wrote a whole series of stories about the life and adventures of Randolph Carter, beginning with The Statement of Randolph Carter in 1919 on up to Through the Gates of the Silver Key in 1932-3, but it is in the second last Carter story, The Silver Key, where the process of alienation from dream is best described. This story begins:

When Randolph Carter was thirty he lost the key of the gate of dreams. Prior to that time he had made up for the prosiness of life by nightly excursions to strange and ancient cities beyond space, and lovely, unbelievable garden lands across ethereal seas; but as middle age hardened upon him he felt these liberties slipping away little by little, until at last he was cut off altogether.

Perhaps something similar happened to Lovecraft at some stage in his adult life. Certainly there is a conflict evident in his writing, in both his fiction and his letters, between the visionary awareness arising from his dreams and his hard stance of scientific materialism and skepticism. And at the age of thirty, at least in Carter’s life, the latter had for the moment won out.

Wonder had gone away, and he had forgotten that all life is only a set of pictures in the brain, among which there is no difference betwixt those born of real things and those born of inward dreamings, and no cause to value the one above the other. Custom had dinned into his ears a superstitious reverence for that which tangibly and physically exists, and had made him secretly ashamed to dwell in visions.

Although Carter strove to take an interest in scientific discoveries and in the materialist culture of his peers, invariably he was dissatisfied. Nothing compared to the incredible and extraordinary scenes and adventures of his youthful dreams.

He walked impassive through the cities of men, and sighed because no vista seemed fully real; because every flash of yellow sunlight on tall roofs and every glimpse of balustraded plazas in the first lamps of evening served only to remind him of dreams he had once known, and to make him homesick for ethereal lands he no longer knew how to find.

Science was too limited. Religion was a scam. Bohemian nonconformity was even more contrived, and thus more unappealing, than traditional conformity. Earthly travel was merely a mockery of the beautiful and sublime places he used to visit in dreams. The Great War, likewise, was a pale comparison in terms of excitement. His friends bored him with their circumscribed imaginations.

Carter began to actively seek out the bizarre and uncanny, but soon found that even popular occultism was too commonplace for him. He delved deeper and weirder, to the very depths of the esoteric and the arcane, becoming an expert in this lore. And in this he did encounter supernatural and horrible things, as told in the other Carter stories, but again these exploits fell far short of what he had known in his dreams.

Eventually, sick of his world-weariness, he made vague plans to kill himself, yet even suicide required an energy and interest that he no longer possessed or cared to possess. He wholly retreated into memories of the dreams of his youth and, to his surprise, he began to dream again. Then, as related in the last essay, his grandfather appeared and told him where to find the silver key.

And so started the chain of events that led to his disappearance in October of 1928. The account of The Silver Key is really the account of Carter’s associate Ward Phillips, who later attended the meeting concerning Carter’s estate in New Orleans. At the end of The Silver Key, Phillips presents his own theory of what may have happened:

There is talk of apportioning Randolph Carter’s estate among his heirs, but I shall stand firmly against this course because I do not believe he is dead. There are twists of time and space, of vision and reality, which only a dreamer can divine; and from what I know of Carter I think he has merely found a way to traverse these mazes. Whether or not he will ever come back, I cannot say. He wanted the lands of dream he had lost, and yearned for the days of his childhood. Then he found a key, and I somehow believe he was able to use it to strange advantage.

According to Phillips, Carter (and by extension Lovecraft himself) had returned in body to realms that he had previously visited only in dream. And this may have been the case. There is no indication in Phillips’ story, assuming that he wrote it as nonfiction, that Carter had anything further or more profound in mind. And there is no talk of the second gate.

But Phillips, as insightful as he is, also gives no indication that he has any idea of what really happened after Carter left from his car with the silver key in hand. Four years later in New Orleans, however, Swami Chandraputra did claim to possess such knowledge.

The Limited Supply of Whirling Fancy

Thus, according to this account, Randolph Carter stepped beyond the first gate, well beyond our “narrow, rigid, objective world of limited causation and tri-dimensional logic.” Once inside, the inner cave and its arched gate neither existed nor ceased to exist. He himself was simultaneously both the man of 1928 and the boy of 1883. He had entered a “space” of contradiction and paradox.

By the time the rite was over Carter knew that he was in no region whose place could be told by earth’s geographers, and in no age whose date history could fix. For the nature of what was happening was not wholly unfamiliar to him... A gate had been unlocked—not indeed the Ultimate Gate, but one leading from earth and time to that extension of earth which is outside time, and from which in turn the Ultimate Gate leads fearsomely and perilously to the Last Void which is outside all earths, all universes, and all matter.

The scenes that he witnessed, that he participated in, in this “extension of earth” were both like his dreams yet very unlike them. All was in flux, in a state of becoming. He was unsure of even his own form.

There floated before Carter a cloudy pageantry of shapes and scenes which he somehow linked with earth’s primal, aeon-forgotten past. Monstrous living things moved deliberately through vistas of fantastic handiwork that no sane dream ever held, and landscapes bore incredible vegetation and cliffs and mountains and masonry of no human pattern. There were cities under the sea, and denizens thereof; and towers in great deserts where globes and cylinders and nameless winged entities shot off into space or hurtled down out of space. All this Carter grasped, though the images bore no fixed relation to one another or to him. He himself had no stable form or position, but only such shifting hints of form and position as his whirling fancy supplied.

The familiar places and landscapes of his dreams were nowhere to found. Those places had names and definite outlines and borders. These new places, in comparison, were entirely unknown and undefined, almost as if it was from these primal locales of the imagination that all other places, both in dream and in “reality,” emerged.

He had wished to find the enchanted regions of his boyhood dreams, where galleys sail up the river Oukranos past the gilded spires of Thran, and elephant caravans tramp through perfumed jungles in Kled beyond forgotten palaces with veined ivory columns that sleep lovely and unbroken under the moon. Now, intoxicated with wider visions, he scarcely knew what he sought.

Tales Told of Stone and Stem

Carter had entered the gate into the astral extension of the Earth through a cave, and the cave has always been an entry portal for shamanic initiation. Another traditional point of entry, though, is the tree, and at La Chorrera it was after an ascent of the tree when the gate opened.

Dennis's story was the classic description of a shamanic night journey. He said that he had gone to the chorro and had meditated in the mission cemetery we had visited before. He had begun to return to camp when he confronted a particularly large Inga tree near where the path skirted the edge of the mission. On impulse, he had climbed it, aware as he did that the ascent of the world tree is the central motif of the Siberian shamanic journey. As he climbed the tree, he felt the flickering polarities of many archetypes, and as he reached the highest point in his ascent, something that he called "the vortex" opened ahead of him — a swirling, enormous doorway into time.

And from within the treetop vortex, scenes from humanity’s ancient past, of the pyramids and Stonehenge, and scenes from the even more archaic past of distant worlds were visible. These scenes are strikingly similar to what Carter beheld after passing beyond the first gate.

The German anthropologist, Hans Peter Duerr, noted in his incredible book, Dreamtime: Concerning the Boundary between Wilderness and Civilization, the sacred connection between the tree and the cave:

At the cave of ll am Warscheneck one finds on the wall of the rock just past the crawl stone a small tree with a cross-shaped root. We are reminded how even much later the tree of the world, the axis mundi, guarded the entrance to the lower world. Representations of trees are seen quite often at entrances to caves.

It is at these points, at these sacred junctures indicated by caves and trees, that a space/non-space of transition, of in-between-ness, of rapid flux and transformation suddenly opens up. And from the earliest days of the Paleolithic, shamanic initiations have been held at these sites. The gates leading from this world to the next are found at these feared and hallowed spots, and it is clear that the Snake-Den cavern on the outskirts of Arkham was one of these.

That Randolph Carter was undergoing shamanic initiation becomes obvious with the news of his first encounter beyond the gate. His whirling visions began to somewhat stabilize and he witnessed a circle of towering stone pedestals. On each was seated an as yet indiscernible form.

But hovering lower and just before the pedestals was a similar form which began to communicate directly to Carter’s mind. Carter at once knew the identity of this terrible figure, for his long occult studies had prepared him well for this meeting. He recalled the words of the “monstrousNecronomicon:

...all these Blacknesses are lesser than HE Who guardeth the Gateway; HE Who will guide the rash one beyond all the worlds into the Abyss of unnamable Devourers. For HE is ’UMR AT-TAWIL, the Most Ancient One, which the scribe rendereth as THE PROLONGED OF LIFE.

And sure enough this was the guard of the gateway, the lurker at the threshold, the master of all transitions:

For this Shape was nothing less than that which all the world has feared since Lomar rose out of the sea and the Winged Ones came to earth to teach the Elder Lore to man. It was indeed the frightful Guide and Guardian of the Gate -- ’Umr at-Tawil...

But in worldwide shamanic lore this personage has yet another title, the "Master of Animals". Duerr provides a fairly typical account of a meeting with this intimidating presence deriving from the Desana Indians of, appropriately enough, the rain forest of Colombia. The Desana are avid users of ayahuasca.

The Desana Indians of the Vaupés river possibly possess a similar view of the world. After aspirating the hallucinogenic vihó powder, the shaman climbs into a cave in the surrounding hills in order to meet with Vihó-mahsë, the master of animals. With him, he exchanges animals for the souls of dead fellow tribesmen who then enter into the cave in order to maintain the balance of nature, as it were.

A principal function of the Master of Animals is to bestow upon the shaman the power of becoming, and specifically the power of becoming animal. The initiate, passing beyond the first gate and not yet arriving at -- or choosing not to approach -- the more formidable second gate receives from the Master the ability, the siddhi, to transform his or her own physical form.

File:Horse Bit Cheekpiece, about 700 BC, Luristan, Iran, bronze - Cleveland Museum of Art - DSC08162.JPG

This ability, akin and in tandem with the mastery over dreams, suffuses the threshold realm of the “extension,” which is often also called in occultism the astral plane.

The shaman or the sorcerer, then, who passes beyond the first gate brings his or her knowledge of the astral -- the knowledge that the world is composed of the stuff that dreams are made of -- back into this physical plane. The sorcerer demonstrates that the becomings of this world are not firmly fixed by law but can, as in a lucid dream, be altered by will.

Echidnaing Thru the Interkingdoms

It is in three sub-sections, entitled “Memories of a Sorcerer,” of the plateau “1730: Becoming-Intense, Becoming-Animal, Becoming-Imperceptible...,” that Deleuze and Guattari, in A Thousand Plateaus, return to their discussion of Lovecraft. In the opening sentence of the first of these sections the duo both characterize this variety of becoming and admit their own roles in relation to it:

A becoming-animal always involves a pack, a band, a population, a peopling, in short, a multiplicity. We sorcerers have always known that.

Each one of the protagonists under investigation here, each a possessor of the silver key -- Lovecraft, the McKennas, Deleuze and Guattari -- are revealing themselves as sorcerers. Each, it seems, has opened the gate and crossed the threshold to the space/non-space of transition, of in-between-ness, of rapid flux and transformation. And each is providing clues, in his own fashion and capacity, of what this space is like.

To D&G the becoming in question is always a becoming of multiplicity. Animals always roam and howl in packs, and in the deepest circles of the unconscious -- being simultaneously furthest out into the extension, the wilderness, the “dreamtime,” -- the animal is coupled with the multiple.

The sorcerous takes us to a level far deeper than the single Oedipal animals or “pets” of Freud -- in no sense can they be reduced to the Father or the Mother -- and deeper still than the heraldic or “State” animals, the archetypal animals, of Jung. Instead, these animals are manifold, swarming, shape-shifting, bewildering and, in a word, demonic. The sorcerers, Deleuze and Guattari, quote Lovecraft:

Lovecraft applies the term "Outsider" to this thing or entity, the Thing, which arrives and passes at the edge, which is linear yet multiple, "teeming, seething, swelling, foaming, spreading like an infectious disease, this nameless horror."

It is this “nameless horror,” which passes beyond the edge, into the realm of dreams, into the astral, that the shaman-sorcerer inevitably merges into. He or she becomes many, becomes demonic (or daemonic to avoid the moral overtones of the prior), and the boundaries between him or her (or him and her) begin to blur with other demonic beings.

Each becomes less of what we think of as a thing, or a noun, and more like a process, a verb. Thus, a wolfing, a lousing, a moosing, a flamingoing. Past the gate, after initiation from the Master of Animals, identity begins to break down. Boundaries are crossed.

D&G speak of “interkingdoms,” of strange participations with other species. Fluid, many-sided, inter-penetrating, porous, furred, clawed, horned, antennaed; wriggling, twitching, droning, chirping, screeching. And at times an artist or a writer slips across unprepared, without intending to do so. Fervent imagination alone provides the key.

And for even the most equipped, as Randolph Carter certainly was, the journey is entirely dangerous, but for the unaware it is very often deadly:

If the writer is a sorcerer, it is because writing is a becoming, writing is traversed by strange becomings that are not becomings-writer, but becomings-rat, becomings-insect, becomings-wolf, etc. We will have to explain why. Many suicides by writers are explained by these unnatural participations, these unnatural nuptials. Writers are sorcerers because they experience the animal as the only population before which they are responsible in principle.

Throngs, Packs and Covens

The “unnatural nuptials” part of this is particularly unnerving. Sexual energy is the primary energy of the astral. It is what fuels all dreams, breaks down all barriers, and there is no force more powerful (especially when it is fully sublimated as pure love -- but this still lies beyond the second gate) or more fatal. Duerr comments on Paleolithic cave art:

The figures presumed to be shamans, such as the famous one of Lascaux, are sometimes represented with an erect penis... This maybe means that his flight into the other world was above all a sexual event.

The archaic significance of the cave and the tree becomes absolutely unmistakable here. Layer after layer of animals, painted one upon the other for thousands of years in the darkest depths of primeval caves, signified a force far more fundamental than mere “hunting magic.”

The womb of the Earth is the source and birthplace of all physical and imaginative forms. The sorcerer, the artist, the would-be-creator, worships and attempts to beget here, but he provides only a spark, only a match to see in the dark, just as the boy Carter strikes in the Snake-Den.

He (and in this case always “he”) is but one of a series, like Molly Bloom’s many -- actual or envisioned -- lovers, arriving in humility and cast off later. The Creator is the ultimate Cuck. The real creation has occurred long before, the song has already been sung. But even to arrive here, one must pass over the threshold, become betwixt and between, and here every boundary is erased.

Sorcerers have always held the anomalous position, at the edge of the fields or woods. They haunt the fringes. They are at the borderline of the village, or between villages. The important thing is their affinity with alliance, with the pact, which gives them a status opposed to that of filiation. The relation with the anomalous is one of alliance. The sorcerer has a relation of alliance with the demon as the power of the anomalous... the demon does not himself have the ability to procreate, he must adopt indirect means (for example, being the female succubus of a man and then becoming the male incubus of a woman, to whom he transmits the man's semen).

Yet this is by no means the occupation solely of men. On the contrary it was women who performed this role of intermediary between the worlds for far longer. It is the figure of the witch especially that is exemplary here, and Duerr briefly outlines the part the witch plays in history:

As late as the Middle Ages, the witch was still the hagazussa, a being that sat on the Hag, the fence, which passed behind the gardens and separated the village from the wilderness. She was a being who participated in both worlds. As we might say today, she was semi-demonic. In time, however, she lost her double features and evolved more and more into a representation of what was being expelled from culture, only to return, distorted, in the night.

And what followed, as we know, are the truly horrific witch hunts and trials leading to the slaughter of millions of innocent women. This mostly occurred not, as commonly supposed, in the Middle Ages, but in the Renaissance and especially in the Reformation/Counter-Reformation period when the assault on the imagination was at its most fierce.

Male hermeticists, “heretics,” also suffered during this period and beyond (most infamously Giordano Bruno is burned at the stake in Rome in 1600), but they mostly fared far better than women. The hermetic/occult tradition, to the extent that it survived, largely became dominated by men, and the sexual current within it became deeply buried.

Pile On

This began to change during the very late nineteenth century and into the early twentieth. Kenneth Grant, in Aleister Crowley and the Hidden God, explains how this new current (called the “93 current” by Croweyites) was ushered in by Crowley and how he employed this in a similar way to the sorcerers of the Old Stone Age:

The Scarlet Woman, as representative of Nuit, is the gateway to the Void. She is the magical embodiment of that stellar goddess whose metaphysical symbol is Infinite Space typified as the night-sky sewn with stars. She is the "yoni strewn with flowers" imaged in the Hymn to Kali, for the stars of Nuit and the flowers of the nubile virgin goddess are identical. Babalon -- literally the Gate of the Sun or solar-phallic energy -- is therefore the terrestrial formula of Nuit, and her vulva is the pylon through which the cosmic forces sweep into manifestation when the magical seals (mudras) have been opened.

The “pylon” that Grant mentions here must have been directly taken from Lovecraft, a massive influence on Grant, and in the quote we see how the gate is opened and the passage made.

Another occultist, a contemporary of Crowley’s and the actual teacher of Grant, who applied these techniques was Austin Osman Spare. Spare, a visual artist and ceremonial magician, provided a working definition of sorcery. He is quoted by Grant in The Magical Revival:

Sorcery is a deliberate act of causing metamorphoses by the employment of elementals. It forges a link with the powers of middle nature, or the ether, the astrals of great trees and of animals of every kind. Will is our medium, Belief is the vehicle, and Desire is the force combining with the elemental. Cryptograms are our talismans and protectors. The will, or nervous energy, must be suppressed in order to create tension, and released only at the psychological moment.

For Spare, as with Crowley and Grant, this forged link with “the powers of the middle nature,” dwelling in the intermediary astral plane or Earth’s extension, was often explicitly sexual. But for Lovecraft -- Victorian as he essentially was -- the sexual element of these “unnatural nuptials” was obscured if not wholly absent. The sexual, for Lovecraft, was entirely sublimated to the imaginative.

Fictional Disguises

Yet regardless of this apparent prudishness, and in spite of Lovecraft’s declared skeptical materialism, Grant was fully convinced of Lovecraft’s occult knowledge. Grant claimed (in Aleister Crowley and the Hidden God) that in fact Lovecraft’s varied and abundant occult experiences were “disguised as fiction,” and in light of Lovecraft’s admitted "literary" influences his esoteric affiliations become evident:

Lovecraft numbered Arthur Machen and Algernon Blackwood among his compères; this in itself is an admission of contact with dimensions outside those which Lovecraft accepted as scientifically permissible, for both Machen and Blackwood were at one time members of the Golden Dawn. The former was a close friend of Arthur Waite, whose effusions are too well known to need comment. Lovecraft deplored Machen's style, so it was not a literary influence that he acknowledged. What he really acknowledged was a magical influence that streamed, via the Golden Dawn and MacGregor Mathers, direct from the Draconian Tradition that in all its outward manifestations Lovecraft categorically denied and rejected.

In The Magical Revival, Grants devotes a couple of pages of direct, side-by-side comparisons of the work of Lovecraft and Crowley, although there is no evidence that the writer had any knowledge of the English magician.

Among the points listed in parallel are Lovecraft’s Al Azif - The Book of the Arab with Crowley’s Al vel Legis - The Book of the Law, Yog-Sothoth with Sut-Thoth, and the deep dreaming of Cthulhu in R’lyeh with the “Primal Sleep” of Crowley’s “Great Ones of the Night of Time.”

But in Aleister Crowley and the Hidden God, Grant explains that the more fundamental similarity of the magical methodology of Lovecraft with that of more open occultists like Crowley and Spare lies in his mastery of dream control:

Crowley's Aiwass Current, Spare's Zos Kia Cultus and Lovecraft's Cthulhu Cult are different manifestations of an identical formula -- that of dream control. Each of these magicians lived their lives within the context of cosmic dream myths which, somehow, they relayed or transmitted to man from other dimensions. The formula of dream control is in a sense used by all creative artists, though few succeed in bringing human consciousness into such close
proximity with other spheres.

Grant further explains that the manner by which several magicians transmitted their knowledge of these dreams realms, as shamans earlier conveyed it to their tribe through song, was through fiction. This is certainly the case with Machen, Blackwood and Lovecraft.

Fiction, as a vehicle, has often been used by occultists. Bulwer Lytton's Zanoni and A Strange Story have set many a person on the ultimate Quest. Ideas not acceptable to the everyday mind, limited by prejudice and spoiled by a "bread-winning" education, can be made to slip past the censor, and by means of the novel, the poem, the short story be effectually planted in soil that would otherwise reject or destroy them. Writers such as Arthur Machen, Brodie Innes, Algernon Blackwood and H.P. Lovecraft are in this category.  (Magical Revival)

This, however, does not necessarily imply that such authors are conscious transmitters of these ideas. Often it is the case that these notions and images might slip by existing internal censors as well. An author might be fully aware of the power of his or her work, but he or she may have no idea to what extent this was granted from beyond, and even of its true worth.

In fact, Grant argues that the less a writer is aware of exactly where and how his or her work originated then the greater that work is likely to be. Genius, in other words, is -- as in its original meaning -- quite apart from ego.

It is a well-known fact that few artists, even among the great, are capable of fully understanding the true nature and worth of their best work. The reason for this state of affairs is not so well known; it is because the artist is not responsible for his work. The degree of his achievement is in direct ratio to the degree of his absence when the work is performed. (Hidden God)

From Lovecraft’s letters it seems that he also had this experience of the unconscious transmission of genius. An essay by Patricia MacCormack, “Lovecraft through Deleuzio-Guattarian Gates,” quotes one such letter in which Lovecraft confesses the presence of “some strange and perhaps terrible mediation”:

I am not even certain how I am communicating this message. While I know I am speaking, I have a vague impression that some strange and perhaps terrible mediation will be needed to bear what I say to the points where I wish to be heard.

Whether or not Lovecraft was an active shaman or sorcerer, a conscious practitioner of dream control, and/or an actual initiate or affiliate of esoteric orders like the Golden Dawn, his work has profoundly resonated with subsequent inner explorers like the McKenna brothers and Deleuze and Guattari.


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