Sunday, December 30, 2007
Wyrd New Jersey- The Tree of Death
A year ago today, I gassed up the Saturn and took a short road trip out to the final resting place of Edward Alexander Crowley (1875-1947). I had discovered that his ashes had been buried practically in my backyard while browsing through an old issue of Weird New Jersey at a book store (appropriately named "Pandora's"). I came upon the revelation that Karl Germer, Crowley's successor as leader of the OTO, had either buried or scattered the beast's ashes near a tree on the grounds of his "estate" in Hampton, NJ. By doing a little more reading on the topic I was able to pinpoint where the estate had been and decided to check it out sometime.
"Sometime" came about 6 months or so after reading the article. You see, I have a confession to make: although I'm fascinated by the man's colorful biography, I never got the whole Crowley thing. About 20 years ago, one of my roommates ran off to follow the Grateful Dead and left behind a bunch of occult books like The Kabbalah Unveiled by McGregor Mathers and The Book of Thoth by Crowley. I tried reading some of these books and just didn't get it. My brain just doesn't work that way. I loved the Casteneda books, though.
I stopped at the Cross of Lorraine gas station before starting my journey. Hilariously and synchronistically, There was a Jeep parked there, brandishing a homemade wheelcover featuring the Beast of X-Men fame! I've long suspected that Crowley was essentially a practical joker, was he orchestrating his Kaufmanesque gags from beyond the grave?
After a short drive on one of NJ's increasingly hazardous expressways, I hit the highlands. Hampton is not far from the sprawl, but is a world away. It's largely rural, rustic Jersey. But as with the rest of the Skylands, it's being invaded by strip malls and superstores.
As you can see here, it's also being invaded by pyramids, which are sprouting like mushrooms around here.
Anyhow, after getting lost a few times (and coming across a magnificent-looking ruined Victorian), I found the road which led to the location of the old Germer place. At least as was described in the article.
However, it looked as if the old Germer place was now a working dairy farm. I didn't think it prudent to go knock on the door and say, "Oh, hi there. I'm looking for the earthly remains of the Wickedest Man (no longer) Alive, the Great Beast 666. Could you help me out?" That kind of crazy talk can earn you an ass full of birdshot in Hampton.
Feeling slightly stupid, I scanned the grounds, trying to see if any tree seemed particularly gnarled or evil. Was there an unearthly light hovering over any of them, preferably in a color unknown to our light spectrum? Well, see for yourself...
Feeling slightly defeated, I left. Was this the place? I passed the bend in the railroad tracks described by a Hamptonite in the article, so it seemed like it was. Sigh.
Ashes to ashes, Uncle Al.
I stopped at the Golden Arches before getting on the highway home. Much to my amusement, when I came out someone had parked next to me brandishing a Thule brand rack. Oh, Aleister, you're a panick!
So, at the end of day, no portals opened, no saucers descended, no spirit-beings beckoned and no toads rained from the sky. I felt a little sad for the old Beast. He - like so many other practitioners of the dark arts - died penniless, miserable and forgotten. And his earthly remains now reside beneath a cow pasture in the New Jersey sky country. Perhaps the mischievous old scamp would appreciate the humor in it.
EDIT: In a real time synchronicity, I wander over to Jake's place after posting this and discover the same motifs were going through his mind...
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