The DARK LORD
H. P. Lovecraft, Kenneth Grant and the Typhonian Tradition in Magic
One of the least understood manifestations of Thelemic thought may be found in the works of Kenneth Grant, the British occultist and one-time intimate of Aleister Crowley, who discovered a hidden world within the primary source materials of Crowley’s Aeon of Horus. Using complementary texts from such disparate authors as H. P. Lovecraft, Jack Parsons, Austin Osman Spare, and Charles Stansfeld Jones (“Frater Achad”), Grant formulated a system of magic that expanded upon that delineated in the rituals of the OTO: a system that included elements of Tantra, of Voudon, and in particular that of the Schlangekraft recension of the Necronomicon, all woven together in a dark tapestry of power and illumination.
Author Peter Levenda posits a mystic alliance between the thematic content of Lovecraft’s fiction and the magical writings of the primary exponent of the Law of Thelema, Aleister Crowley. Levenda explores the roots of the beliefs and doctrines Crowley utilized to develop his system. And he plumbs the depths of Lovecraft’s fears. The reader may expect to be introduced to Yoga and Buddhism, Gnosticism,
The DARK LORD
H. P. Lovecraft, Kenneth Grant and
the Typhonian Tradition in Magic
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Preface: DANCING WITH THE DARK LORD
Introduction: THE BEAST IN THE CAVE
Chapter One: STRANGE AEONS
Chapter Two: GODS, THE BEAST, AND MEN
Chapter Three: UNSPEAKABLE CULTS
Chapter Four: THE NECRONOMICON GNOSIS
Chapter Five: SONS OF GOD, DAUGHTERS OF MEN
Chapter Six: THE MAUVE ZONE
Chapter Seven: THE DARK LORD
Appendix: KALAS, TITHIS, AND NITYAS
Glossary of Terms
Kabbalistic Tree of Life
DANCING WITH THE DARK LORD
- Now shalt thou adore me who am the Eye and the Tooth, the Goat of the Spirit, the Lord of Creation. I am the Eye in the Triangle, the Silver Star that ye adore.
- I am Baphomet, that is the Eightfold Word that shall be equilibrated with the Three.
23. I am the hideous god, and who mastereth me is uglier than I.
27. Whom I love I chastise with many rods.
—Liber A’ash vel Capricorni Pneumatici
THIS IS A WORK OF HERESY, a book meant to challenge. What else would the reader expect from that Dark Lord who inhabits the most primal and hidden depths of the unconscious? The Lord of the Shadow Realm, whose very existence has been hysterically lambasted as an evil aberration, who has been conceived as blasphemous and terrifying since people first sat around campfires near the openings to their caves, whose devotees have ever been feared and hunted. The Enemy, the Other, the Adversary, He who inhabits the undiscovered territory which must be charted and mapped by any who wish to consider themselves worthy explorers of the psyche. Lovecraft has warned us against these dark mysteries in the most dramatic terms. Crowley assumed the mask of the Beast 666 to frighten away the shy, the reticent, the cowardly. Kenneth Grant celebrated this archetype in an almost frenzied literary oeuvre that straddles the lines between scholarly discourse, imaginative fiction, and poetic invocation.
In The Dark Lord, Peter Levenda, has, once again, applied his considerable erudition and creative mind and pen to the unity of various streams of consciousness. Describing what he calls “the tip of an eldritch iceberg,” Levenda posits a mystic alliance between the thematic content of
the fiction of H. P. Lovecraft and the magical writings of Aleister Crowley, and makes a compelling case for the confluence of events that existed in real time between their efforts.
Crowley is known as the Prophet of the New Aeon, inaugurated in 1904, the founder of the magical system and religion of Thelema. His sweeping intellect and spiritual exaltation allowed him to explore and synthesize all the world’s then-known sacred beliefs and practices and distill their essence into his own system of Scientific Illuminism—the Method of Science, the Aim of Religion. Scientific Illuminism has proven to be a perfect paradigm for our modern world, in which images and information travel with the speed of the electron, and the established religions have become increasingly irrelevant.
The dimensions explored by Lovecraft’s fevered imagination continue to haunt and resonate in popular culture nearly a century later. Lovecraft’s words and phantasms are a staple of derivative modern fiction, graphic novels, art, film, and music. The extraordinary popularity of Simon’s Necronomicon (over one million copies in print since 1977!) is a case in point. The talented painter H. R. Geiger has brought Lovecraft’s terrifying visions to life in his own artistic Necronomicon. The brilliant Australian artist Rosaleen Norton, whose compelling painting of the Dark Lord is featured on the jacket of this book, was another adept of the Darkly Splendid Worlds.
Kenneth Grant, the British writer and occultist, shared Levenda’s fascination with both Crowley and Lovecraft. Grant is celebrated the world over for his biographies of Aleister Crowley and Austin Osman Spare— who each served as teachers and guides to the young magician. Yet it is Grant’s writing on the Typhonian Gnosis that captures Levenda’s attention in these pages. Grant’s embrace of the hidden byways of imagery and symbolism, and the obscure and antinomian practices of widely divergent peoples the world over, evoke the darker dimensions of the shadow-self of humankind.
Levenda conducts a veritable symphony with strains of religious and esoteric knowledge as he explores the roots of the beliefs and doctrines Crowley utilized to develop his system of Thelema. The reader may expect to be introduced to Yoga and Buddhism, Tantra and Gnosticism, Kabbalah, Alchemy, and Egyptology, Confucianism, Daoism, and Afro-Caribbean magic, as well as the more-familiar Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. You
will walk through ancient Sumerian temples of the third millennium BCE, participate in the magical circles of the nineteenth century Golden Dawn, and witness contemporary rites of the Typhonian Order. You will learn details about the shadow side of myth that never quite made it into your copy of Larousse or Bullfinch. Nor is Levenda’s discussion of Tantra what your mother understood as the ritual of the “five M’s.”
This book will be of interest to people across a variety of disciplines. Fans of Lovecraft will find his worldview explored in ways that may shock or frighten. They will learn that Lovecraft’s fearful fantasies may have a greater connection to reality than they might have hoped. Certainly, readers of Kenneth Grant will be delighted to have the mysteries of his writings made more clear by Levenda’s penetrating explication and high regard for Grant. One can imagine Grant himself smiling with satisfaction in the Field of Reeds as he reviews Levenda’s analysis of the complex ideas he worked so hard to communicate during his lifetime. Students of Crowley are in for a whirlwind ride of speculation, insight, historical, mythic, and spiritual associations that will enlighten and entertain, as they may also stimulate intense disagreement. (Since Levenda discusses The Book of the Law quite openly, those with the strongest objections are free to identify him as a “centre of pestilence” and thereby recover their serenity.) In my opinion, there is more here for Thelemites to learn than to reject.
Peter Levenda and I have known each other for so long our hair was jet black when we met. Larry Barnes, the publisher of the Necronomicon, introduced me to Simon, the book’s translator and editor, in 1977. Larry proposed that I design and produce the book for Schlangekraft/Barnes Graphics. This would become my first project in Studio 31. Simon introduced me to Peter, who acted as his literary agent and production editor: proofreading various iterations of the typography and dealing with the ever-frenetic Larry. Yes, Simon meticulously scrutinized the seals we had commissioned to be redrawn for publication based on his original and precise felt-tip pen renderings. Simon also paid particular attention to proofing the language of the spells themselves. But Peter handled the bread and butter day-to-day progress of the book. This was well before the days of personal computers so Simon’s manuscript needed to be totally retyped by the typesetters, a process offering limitless possibilities for errors. We were all very busy indeed.
Unlike Peter, I am a member of what he refers to as the “Caliphate”
O.T.O. (I call it “the O.T.O.”) To be fair to the storm of critics who may question my presence in these pages, let me begin by saying that Peter is my friend. Furthermore, he is one of the best researchers into the world’s religions on the literary scene today. His Stairway to Heaven and Tantric Temples are two of my favorites of his books. His quest for human dignity forced him to also look into some of the darkest political conspiracies of our time, such as those recorded in Ratline, his recently-published history of the Nazi escape routes following Germany’s defeat in World War II. I am thus honored to play a small part in The Dark Lord, despite the fact that Peter and I may part company on a number of important issues.
However, when a religion or creed is successful, it opens itself to a broader exposure and discussion in the wider culture. Certain forms of doctrinal exegesis may, of necessity, be confined to those who identify themselves most closely with the specific writings and magical system under discussion. But aspects of the system will make their appearance in literature, music, art, and philosophy in an “unsupervised” manner. While some will undoubtedly reject excursions by those outside the confines of established orthodoxy, such thinking may well herald the death of innovation and the establishment of dogmatic rigidity.
One conclusion that is inescapable here is that the author brings much intelligence to his subject. He shares his vast scholarship of the religious traditions of all times and places in his exploration of the congruence of the archetype vibrated and celebrated by Aleister Crowley, popularized and feared by Howard Phillips Lovecraft, and researched and embraced by Kenneth Grant. Here is a book to study and explore, to weigh and consider, one that will serve as a basis for additional study, exploration, and discussion. It is also a book to enjoy. The author is an excellent writer with a subtle wit and sense of humor that have become his literary trademarks.
The Dark Lord presents perhaps the most compelling and encyclopedic compilation of this archetype—the nightmare figure of humanity’s earliest and most persistent childhood fears.
Yet, at the end (and this is the point) when we do at last encounter Him, who will we meet but ourselves?
- I have hidden myself beneath a mask: I am a black and terrible God.
- With courage conquering fear shall ye approach me: ye shall lay down your heads upon mine altar, expecting the sweep of the sword.
- But the first kiss of love shall be radiant on your lips; and all my darkness and terror shall turn to light and joy.
—Liber Tzaddi vel Hamus Hermeticus
THE BEAST IN THE CAVE
The creature I had killed, the strange beast of the unfathomed cave, was, or had at one time been a MAN!!!1
AS IS PROBABLY WELL-KNOWN to readers of this study, Crowley was in Cairo in the spring of 1904 when he received The Book of the Law.
What is not so well known is that—during the very same period—a young man of high school age was composing a short story, one of his earliest, and it would reflect so completely a vision that was experienced thousands of miles away at the same time that the coincidence is indeed uncanny.
The writer was H. P. Lovecraft, considered by many to be the father of the modern gothic horror story. And this early attempt at writing supernatural fiction was entitled “The Beast in the Cave.”
As we know, Crowley called himself the Beast, and identified with the Beast in the Book of Revelation. In Lovecraft’s story—written when he was only fourteen years old—the Beast is at first thought to be some sort of monster living in the bowels of the earth but is instead revealed to be a human being—a man.
As Lovecraft’s stories often involve dream communications and the transmission of information by psychic means or through the visions of artists and other sensitive souls, could it be possible that Lovecraft—an artist himself, of course, as a writer of imaginative fiction—“picked up” the events of Cairo that were taking place at the very same time he was composing and writing his story about a Beast who was really a man? As outlandish as this suggestion may seem, it is reinforced by further evidence in Lovecraft’s own stories, as we shall see. But before we dive into the strange and otherworldly material of Lovecraft, Crowley, and the British occultist Kenneth Grant, we should set the stage for what is to follow.
There are two sides to existence, to life itself. There is a bright side, where we live and work every day; and there is a dark side, what Kenneth Grant calls the “nightside” of the Kabbalistic Tree of Life.
Spies know this. Criminals and the police who fight them know this. Sexual predators know this. Serial killers know this. Business people know this. Politicians know this.
And occultists know this.
Everyone who has a secret they desperately want kept secret knows this.
There is a dark side to everything from politics to religion. And it is in the dark side that the most tangible, the most basic elements of life can be found. The prima materia. The fons et origo. One cannot truly know life without knowing the dark side, without peering into its depths, for it is in the dark side that seeds are planted, that sustenance is taken, that dreams are born and take root in the damp recesses of the sunken cellar of the human soul: the cave wherein the Beast resides, the Beast that is—as Lovecraft tells us—a Man.
In average human beings, this dark side is to be found in their unconscious minds, unrecognized and unacknowledged without extensive depth analysis (the term “depth” is instructive); but its impulse can be sensed in their darkest conscious desires, the ones they keep secret from society at large and from their closest loved ones. It is not only sexuality, although sex can be the doorway to knowing the dark side. Freud knew this. Wilhelm Reich knew this. Jung knew this and trembled at its power. Kabbalists knew this, and called it the Sitra Ahra, the realm of the damaged gods they called the qlippoth. The Tantrikas know this. And Kenneth Grant knew this.