Friday, February 21, 2014

Dear Kamog

Dear Kamog
Bobby Derie

Dear Kamog,

While following up on some additional sources on “Sex & the Lovecraftian Occult,’” I came across references to a supposed Lovecraftian occult text or work called The Book of the Forgotten Ones while browsing through the chapter on Lovecraftian magick in Robert North’s New Flesh Palladium (2006, 4th edition), which in turn appears based on some extensive quotes from the work in Kenneth Grant’s Outside the Circles of Time (1980), both referring to the Cincinnati Journal of Ceremonial Magick, a mid-to-late 70s publication of the ‘Bates Cabal,’ a group of thelemic practitioners in the area.

Supposedly, The Book of the Forgotten Ones is a received text by Soror Andahadna, AKA Nema, a priestess of Maat. The first chapter is published in the CJoCM vol. 1, no. 2 (1977) as “The Forgotten Ones”; Nema then expanded on this with “Return of the Elder Gods” in CJoCM vol. 1, no. 3 (1978) - a ritual discussed in The Necronomicon Files (2003, 120-1) (the paragraph in The Book of Lies 145 seems based directly on The Necronomicon Files). The brief second chapter was published as “The Second Book of the Forgotten Ones” in The Cincinnati Journal of Ceremonial Magick vol. 1, no. 6 (1979), with a much longer exegesis by magician-artist Allen Holub, and it is this which Grant quotes from fairly extensively and is of the most interest as it goes into greater detail about the beliefs and practices involved with this group and their workings.

In content, these snippets of The Book of the Forgotten Ones are both disappointing and interesting. Yes, it is OTO/Kenneth Grant-style sex magic - refreshingly clearly discussed in Holub’s piece - but despite the similarity of names these are expressly not Lovecraft’s creations set in a magical framework. There influence of Grant’s The Magical Revival (1972) and Cults of the Shadow (1975) seems quite strong and obvious, and the sex magick rites described by Holub seem to be taken more or less directly from standard thelemic practices. It curiously parallels some bits in Donald Tyson’s Necronomicon series, though I take that more as sharing similar sources than any direct borrowing.

Curiously, I have found some correspondences for the Book in the oddest of places: Lovecraft's letters concerning William Lumley, the aged and deluded seeker who, like Grant, thought that Lovecraft's fictions touched on occult truth. Consider this fragment, from a letter I purchased online at an exorbitant sum:

Perhaps I’ve mentioned him—William Lumley of Buffalo, N.Y. He is very crude in some ways, though amazingly erudite in the lore of mediaeval magic, & possessed of a keen & genuine sense of the fantastic. He is slowly evolving a strange tale of mystical adventure to be called “The City of Dim Faces”, & what he has quoted of it to me sounds astonishingly promising. There is a place in art and literature for the delination of reality in its sternest phases, but that does not detract from the value of phantasy—the literature of escape. Some writers take naturally to the one phase, while others inclined toward the other. It I always the unreal and the marvelous—the vague and expectancy-fraught world of dream, wherein anything is possible—which have primarily fascinated me. The idea of a land of darkness is excellent, and one footnote telling of ancient MSS. Which even the Egyptian priests could not read excited my imagination tremendously. That kind of thing resembles my own (purely mythical) “Pnakotic Manuscripts”; which are supposed to be the work of “Elder Ones” preceding the human race on this planet, and handed down through an early human civilization which once existed around the north pole. We may think we’re writing fiction, and may even (absurd thought!) disbelieve what we write, but at bottom we are telling the truth in spite of ourselves—serving unwittingly as mouthpieces of Tsathoggua, Crom, Cthulhu, and other pleasant Outside gentry. Indeed—Bill tells me that he has fully identified my Cthulhu and Nyarlathotep He also speaks often of a mysterious friend of his—“The Oriental Ancient”—who is going to get him a forbidden book (as a loan, and not to be touched without certain ceremonies of mystical purification) from some hidden and unnamed monastery in India. I shall try to straighten out the text, & may type some of it—but I think I’ll ask for charitable cooperation in the latter process. Lumley has no machine.

That is the end of the relevant portion. Needless to say, "The City of Dim Faces" was never published and the manuscript is non-extant, but the bare hints have strong correspondences with the places described in the Book. I know you and I have argued many times on the truth of Lovecraft's occult abilities and education - whether he was as he claimed the dedicated materialist, a mere dreamer on the nightside, or a conscious or unconscious adept of mysteries older than Egypt and Atlantis. We know from his grandfather's masonic connections that some material transmission was at least theoretically possible, and the circumstances of his conception were never satisfactorily explained - you've seen the horoscopes that Price and the others cast. 

I don't mind telling you that Grant was scared of him, and not just at the end. All that stuff he wrote, the truths buried in the numbers that never added up, wrapped up in doggerel and traps that only one reader in ten thousand could decipher...yet at the end, he made the same claim that Lumley had made forty years before; and Soror Nema channeled the same current after that...well, I may not be ready to believe, but I will keep an open mind. Even after all these decades, all that has been written of him, Lovecraft retains some of his secrets.

Yrs. in anticipation of the New Aeon,

Frater Typer

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