When The Stars Come Right Again
by Dame Patricia Hardy, Grand Master Emeritus
We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the deadly light into the peace and safety of a new dark age. - H.P. Lovecraft, “The Call of Cthulhu”
The identification of mundane awareness as a form of protective ignorance is a constant theme in the Lovecraft Mythos.
Lovecraft regarded science as a possible exception, but as the quote suggests, he thought that aside from a small elite mankind was incapable of accepting the truth. (Thus the motto today ascribed to Miskatonic University: The Truth Shall Make You Flee). In his view the universe, and the means of discovering it, would remain a fearful mystery to most humans. Symbols of this fear appear throughout the Mythos.
An Entrance Not a Barrier
The Mythos admits no celestial promise of cosmic benevolence—rather the contrary. In such tales as “The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath” Lovecraft distinguishes ‘the mild gods of earth’ from the incomprehensible alien gods, whose envoy is the diabolic Nyarlathotep. The distinction is easily grasped by anyone who compares the antics of rustic nature gods to the machinations of the Powers of Darkness. There is little Pan teaches that is not known to the beasts, as one may verify at any neo-pagan festival. With the Prince of Darkness, under whatever name, it is a different story. Only the most persistent seeker, who leaves familiar haunts and wanders the cold wastes of Kadath, will encounter Nyarlathotep. And the brush with Nyarlathotep—as with Loki, Tezcatlipoca and Mephistopheles—involves truth, deception, choice, risk—all matters of the psyche.
Another Mythos theme also found in “occult” lore, is the gate. Gates link consensus reality and other realms of time and space. The presence of such gates is marked by baleful folklore and religious superstition. Stone circles appear in both “The Dunwich Horror” and in “The Lurker at the Threshold” as such gates. They are used by some, discovered and explored by others—but for most, they are regarded with awe or dread.
Outside fictional accounts, such “occult” structures point to startling perspectives on the part of their architects. These structures are gates—material signs of the door between the known and the unknown, between the terrestrial and the cosmic. Yet this is recognized by only a tiny elite even today. For every person who reads Hawkins’ analysis of the astronomical nature of the megalithic circles in Stonehenge Decoded, there are hundreds of thousands who will tell you that these were the sites of “Druid sacrifices.” Similarly, for every Setian who reads Lockyer’s The Dawn of Astronomy there are thousands of New Agers who believe in “pyramid power,” and millions of folks whose ideas about the Pyramids come from watching The Ten Commandments.
Never was I more astonished than when I read that an ignorant rendering of ancient astronomy had converted the Precession—the “fall” of the constellation Draco from the axis of the sky in 3000 BCE and its return to that position in 26,000 years—into Biblical myths of the fall and future rise of the Dragon of “Revelations”! Ia Shub-Niggurath! May the gifted of Set rule on a thousand worlds when that night falls on Terra!—When the stars come right again!
Returning to the magical use of such symbols in the Mythos—these links with the Beyond may be incorporated into Setian Workings in order to destroy old horizons and bring new ones into being. Recall the discussion of Greater Black Magic in our guidebook:
“It is in the process of making the preliminary exploration of the subjective and objective universes that the Black Magician begins to discover and ultimately to know how things really work.”
What are some guidelines, then, that may be considered in Workings that use Lovecraftian themes?
First: explore the range of human response to the Unknown. Xeper is the principle which transformed apelike creatures into modern humans and which will ultimately transform modern humans into other forms; nor is there reason to think that we are alone. Read science fiction stories on First Contact and analyze the author’s tacit beliefs. Compare them to your own. Read historical accounts of contacts between different human cultures and a text on anthropology. Enhanced imagination and improved capacity to cope with both the familiar and the alien will aid the creation of successful Workings.
Consider, for example, the use of “Yuggothic” in the Lovecraftian rituals written for The Satanic Bible. The commentary on these rituals in Dr. Aquino’s book The Church of Satan describes the reasoning behind Yuggothic: a synthetic language that would reasonably convey the mentality ascribed to the non-human, extraterrestrial Old Ones. Contrast this with the New Age practice of ‘channeling’. ‘Channels’ never find it odd that dolphin group minds, Lemurian Ascended Masters and Space Brothers from the Pleiades use perfect English, nor do they think about of the problems of interpretation, such as typically concern U.N. translators and diplomats. They take it at face value. Even regarded as fantasy this is woefully lacking. For the sake of the ETs and humanity alike we must hope that none of these ‘channels’ are involved when the Arachnids from Denebola stop by.
Second: put aside the naturalistic formula, “technology vs. magic.” The Lovecraftian concept of magic as futuristic, alien technology calls for “mad scientist” toys as well as use of lighting and optical illusions, electronic sound and other techniques to help detach spatial and temporal awareness from their usual moorings.
Many devices sold for advertising or parties, such as light ropes, strobes, and laser light displays, can be adapted for this purpose. By now many Setians have experimented with plasma globes from Radio Shack and other sources—I have even seen a battery-operated model capable of being perched on a crystal ball stand.
One ritual chamber I know of has a number of mirrors suspended by wires in an irregular radial pattern over an altar positioned in the corner, thus producing multiple reflections. UV-sensitive paint and string may be used along with black lights to construct geometric structures “floating” in the chamber.
As for sound, Lovecraftian Workings benefit from certain types of industrial and synthesizer music. Avoid “cosmic lullabies.” Look for pure sweep tones and hair-prickling atonal mixes with strange rhythms, vaguely akin to the sounds heard near a jungle stream at dusk, yet evocative of polar vistas or deep space. One favorite selection of mine comes from The Insect Musicians by Graeme Revell—a Middle-Eastern drone created entirely from sampled and reprocessed sounds of several kinds of insects.
[Note: In Munich a few years ago the Aurora Borealis Lodge of the Order of the Trapezoid used as ritual music a stunning audio recording made from the electromagnetic emissions associated with the “northern lights.”]
For me, conventional incense does not really “fit” in a Lovecraftian rite. Negative ion generators and van de Graaff generators (which emit great quantities of negative ions) have an excellent effect on the chamber atmosphere. The ozone created by the spark of Tesla coils and Jacob’s Ladders is also suitable. Everything in the chamber must in one way or another reinforce the sense of approach to the unknown, of strange geometries and plasticity in the flow of time.
Ponder Rûna, and let your exploration be twofold. Address both the subjective meaning of the desire and the means of its objective fulfillment, the Abyss Within and the Abyss Beyond. Then the results of your Work may exceed your expectations—and I affirm this, having no certainty that I will attain the ultimate goal of my quest and no guarantee you will attain yours—but be prepared.
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