Sunday, August 31, 2014

The New Sleepwalkers




2014 marked the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the First World War, hastening a lot of observers to mark the parallels between the world of the Sleepwalkers of the early 20th Century and this strange fugue state the world finds itself in today.

1914 saw a world of fading empires-- Austria- Hungary, Britain, the Ottomans, Czarist Russia-- locked in struggle with rising powers such as the United States and the new Germany. 2014 sees the rise of a new power bloc, the so-called BRICS; Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, all massive, resource-rich, (mostly) population-dense powers tired of living under the boot of the NATO alliance of North America and Western Europe. 

Whereas the powers of 1914 were interlocked through a Byzantine series of military alliances, the entire world is operating today under a number of post-Cold War trade agreements, all of which were written to benefit the rich countries at the expense of the poor.


Another reality is a major population boom in the post-WWII era, thanks in large part to advances in medical technology (antibiotics, specifically) and food production technology (irrigation and fertilizers). Systems were put in place to manage the flow of capital, resources, commodities and labor. The assumption has been that as long as relative peace was kept and no major disruptions happened within the food supply, the world could basically run on autopilot. 

The next order of business was Alexander's old dream: a single world order, in which the world went along its business sharing (roughly) a one world government (we started hearing the term the "International Community" as if it applied to a specific body on news outlets such as NPR, as in "The International Community believes that the Iraq situation is…." , though who comprised this community was never made clear), and if not a globalized, then harmonized systems of culture, sport, finance, etc. It is interesting to note how many countries have parliamentary systems, have football as the national sport, do business in English or Spanish, frequent the same fast food restaurants, etc.


Periodically, shocks erupted, to the financial system, the job market, various regional conflagrations. Those were all manageable to a certain extent, or at least theoretically manageable. But then the Bush II Administration came along, deciding the pace wasn't moving swiftly enough for the keyboard commandos and desk jockeys that promised Bush the Lesser dreams of a new American Imperium, starting with Alexander's old stomping grounds Afghanistan and moving onto his father's arch-enemy Saddam Hussein in Babylon. 

The pretext was that in the wake of 9/11, mustache-twirling Hussein couldn't wait to unleash waves of jihadis on the US, armed with WMDs and nuclear suitcases and all the rest of it.

Of course, the fact of the matter was that Hussein hated the jihadists and they hated him. He didn't have any WMDs. His strong arm rule kept the jihadists on a leash, and gave the various religious minorities of Iraq relative sanctuary. So now the jihadists are running across Iraq like the maniacs they are, slaughtering the few Mandaeans, Yezidis, and Assyrians they haven't driven out of the country. 

A lot of these minorities have sought sanctuary in Kurdistan but also in Syria, led by another strongman whose country is getting a dose of Freedom® and Democracy®. It looks as if the dogs may get called off there though, since someone in Washington seems to have figured out that Islamic State really are insane. 

Bush and his neocon lunatics are to blame for this but equally so is Obama, since he let a two-bit thug dictate the terms of US withdrawal. But that just leads us to wonder what the real agenda is behind ISIS, or ISIL, or Islamic State or the Caliphate or whatever the fuck they're called this week. 

Again, an entire blog couldn't unravel that mess. I won't even try here.

Obama seems to be sleepwalking himself, drifting from one elite golf course to another while Iraq burns and and a civil conflagration unfolded on US soil. If the entire news media weren't in his pocket I'd say Ferguson was his Katrina moment, and 2014 does feel a lot like 2005.  

Black Americans have been getting squeezed like no time in my memory under Obama, driven from their neighborhoods by runaway gentrification and dealing with heavy competition in the labor market by immigrant workers. I don't think Ferguson was all about a police shooting and I don't think it's the last eruption we'll see.

Which only goes to prove my maxim that when they put your guy in the White House, look out. Going back to at least LBJ, it means they're about to stick the knife in.



But there's another problem, one that people seem to be sleepwalking through. As people continue to pour into California and the Southwest, the water continues to pour out. We're now starting to hear that this drought may not be the usual two or three year endurance test, that California experienced two-hundred year long droughts in the past. 

Now California is talking about forcibly moving people out of state- some counties are so dry people can't do their laundry. 

What does this mean to the rest of us? Been paying attention to your grocery bill lately?

While America is focused on Iraq and problems at home, Russia is carving out chunks of Ukraine for itself and all the toothless old men of Europe can do is wave sanctions at Putin. They seem to be forgetting that whole BRICS thing, that a new power bloc is emerging in resistance to the Globalist powers of the EU. What's more, it seems that Germany is interested in cutting its own deals with Putin, perhaps a signal it has no confidence in its own EU project.

Back to the Sleepwalkers, Webster Tarpley ties all of this back to the Masonic intrigues of King Edward and the entente powers of Britain, France and Czarist Russia, even tying the activities of our old friends Madam's Blavatsky and Bailey into mix, citing them as Edward's agents. 

Blavatsky, I have trouble with, given her work with the Indian Nationalists, but Alice Bailey is a gimme. She and her apostles such as David Spangler and Benjamin Creme were all tied up in the United Nations, for reasons never made clear, but they did score at least one top ranking UN official at one point, Robert Muller.

My guess is that the Alice Bailey organization was a dry run for what would bear fruit in California, with the Presidio Russia project, IONS and CIIS and the Zen Center. The Baileys were too weird and too crazy (Bailey said the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were "the greatest spiritual event which has taken place since the the human kingdom appeared") but as we saw in the Secret Star Trek series there was obviously an interest in some kind of syncretic spiritual movement that could take the place of the churches (most of which had become anti-Communist during the Cold War) for diplomatic purposes.

All of which plays a major role in the story we're trying to wrap our heads around today, since it was that axis of Rockefeller-funded New Age centers that first brought Boris Yeltsin to the US, thanks to the efforts of Rockefeller hand, the Rev. Jim Garrison. And it would be Yeltsin's kleptocracy that gave rise to Putin and by extension this new power bloc that is threatening to go off the dollar and adopt the Yuan as the new reserve currency.

Was Crimea the new assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand? Are we all sleepwalking towards some kind of global conflagration? Will we see another global pandemic, similar to the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918? Already we're hearing scientists warn of the end of antibiotics. Let's all pray that doesn't come to pass.

Are countries like Britain- already tinderboxes- sleepwalking towards serious civil unrest, especially if some shocking (and highly probable) revelation of high-level complicity in the Muslim* grooming gangs emerges from within the Labour Party or the BBC? I grew up at a time when riots were a regular occurrence in England. There's a lot of people over there who've been swallowing a lot of rage for a long time (as I told Gordon of Rune Soup, the agenda of the past decade in the UK seems to have been "let the agents provocateur run wild"). 

If there's a major terror event there, all bets are off.

And so it is in America. Obama has presided over the greatest movement of wealth upward this country has ever seen, and millions have left the workforce entirely for lives on public assistance. Most jobs created during his presidency have been low-paying service jobs and most of those have gone to immigrants. 

The Democrats dreamed of dethroning the Republicans only to realize that the GOP was never running anything, except errands for the Globalists. 

 Meanwhile, onetime liberal bastions like San Francisco, New York and Boston are like open air laboratories in the study of rampant economic inequality. Class struggle in the Bay Area has gotten to a point that the vandalism and intimidation are sending Silicon Valley dollars to the Republicans (not so shocking if you get past the mythology of founding fathers like Steve Jobs or the actual business practices of these companies). And futurists are all warning Americans that automation could eliminate the very idea of employment itself for most Americans. 

The economy seems to be growing, but for whom?

Cellphones and social media seem to distract most people from all these problems but what happens when the first major whole breaks open in the dam and everyone starts to take on water? What won't happen is what you saw in previous depressions when Americans had a sense of common identity and purpose.  

Americans may be sleepwalking but it's not a particularly restful sleep.

 It's because of all this that I think study of deeper truths is more important than ever. Perhaps even changing the very way we think, the way we use our minds. The way we perceive the "real." It may be all you're left with.


A hundred years ago, people believed they lived within a constellation of fixed realities, only to see them all blown apart to shit, along with everything around them. 

The Old World died forever on the killing fields of the First World War and I'm not sure we've yet recovered from those shocks. I think we've been entertaining ourselves as a way of avoiding the questions that war raised, and a lot of the answers we let people give us were, at best,  risible. 


I can't begin to imagine what a Third World War would look like, I can only imagine I never want such a thing to come to pass. But I certainly don't want the robot world of the futurists, and I think the Transhumanist pipedream will stay locked in the pages of bad science fiction novels, for my lifetime at least.


For now, we have to work with what we've been given. A good first step is waking up from the media-induced hypnosis so many of us live under.  




 *Not "Asian" as the BBC and Guardian call them; Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists and other Asian groups are horrified by these pedophile rapists and greatly resent the association.

Notes: Interesting to note that the campus "multiculturalists" have ignored Muslim persecution and mass murder of Arab Christians in Egypt, Syria and Iraq and paid only minor lip service against the wanton slaughter of the Yezidis et al. Why is that, you think?

Alice Bailey's worship of the bomb is making me wonder if her organization was being parodied in Beneath the Planet of the Apes. The Lucis Trust were headquartered in New York like the mutants, and the female mutant was named Albina, or should I say "Al Bina." The original writer of Beneath is Paul Dehn, who came straight out of British Military Intelligence, so he'd be familiar with that world, certainly.


Saturday, August 23, 2014

Ancient Aliens Buries the Lead


"The Great Stone Face," 1957

Ancient Aliens is now in its seventh season. I DVR it, but don't really watch it that often. It's gotten to the point where it's not telling me anything I don't know already, and having been on the other side of the camera a number of times I know how the game is played. 

What is very clear with the Ancient Aliens style of interviewing is that the producers are looking for soundbites. They will prompt the speaker to repeat the question in their own words and then give the required answer. And anyone who's watched a number of episodes of Ancient Aliens probably can recite the answers along at home.

I've sometimes defended Ancient Aliens, not out of a great love for the show, but because so many of the people who've attacked it are doing so on behalf of the Fundamentalist/Creationist/Theocrat axis, a fact they fail to disclose to their audiences. But the fact of the matter is that I have a lot of problems with it, and only took down my critique of it when Filip Coppens passed away (I've since put it back up).


But I'm mature enough enough to realize that any criticisms I have of the show are irrelevant. It is what it is, as the people say. It wouldn't be on around the clock if people weren't watching it and it wouldn't have been renewed six times if it wasn't making money.

But compared to the original two-hour specials (which I do think were very well done), the show is running on fumes, content-wise. It makes for pleasant enough background noise from time to time, but hasn't told us anything new for a while (The Satanic Conspiracy episode, while misleadingly titled, did have some good information on the Watchers).

But this latest episode was something else. Not only did you have the stock answers that you could hear on any episode on any topic, they blew the lede here in a major way.


"Jacob Wrestles the Angel", portfolio piece, 1980 

As I've been writing about since this blog went live, comic book superheroes didn't just materialize from the ether like tulpas -- as the Ancient Aliens cast of regulars repeatedly suggested-- a good many of them were created or co-created by Jack Kirby. And the ones he didn't create or co-create, he had a hand in, like Iron Man and Spider-Man.

And Jack Kirby is a guy who was not only doing stories about ancient astronauts long before Erich Von Daniken (there's practically enough of those to fill a stadium by now), he was using AAT as the basis of the superheroes he was creating, beginning with The Inhumans in 1965.

Kirby was so obsessed with AAT that it consumed the latter part of his career; three of his titles for Marvel in the 1970s were built around the theme and he did a number of other AAT projects after he left comics for animation.

What's more, his prescient "Face on Mars" story from the late 50s showed a distinct Theosophical influence with its ancient extraterrestrial civilizations, demonstrating he may have been exploring the same material that inspired Edgar Rice Burroughs for his own Mars material.


But aside from Kirby, you also have Otto Binder, who was not only one of the great writers of the Golden Age of Comics, he was also a prolific sci-fi writer, editor of Space magazine, and the co-author of the classic AAT text, Mankind, Child of the Stars. 

Binder is not as well known as Kirby today but he worked on Captain Marvel, which at the time was Superman's #1 rival on the stands, selling upwards of a million copies a month and inspiring a number of spin-offs.

It's really too much to ask at this point; a tiger doesn't change its stripes. And in a way I'm glad Kirby wasn't drawn into the reductionist POV of Ancient Aliens, a show which does its best to make none of these old stories seem alien, as in god-damn-what-the-fuck-you've-got-to-be-kidding-me alien. 

It's just more naturalism, more materialism, more shopping-mall American midnight.

More despair.

You see, materialism doesn't lead to a nation of scientists, rolling up their sleeves and boldly pressing at the frontiers of human knowledge. It leads to a nation of YOLO hedonists, drinking J├Ąger shots from each others' navels while running the Visa bills into the red at Cabo and Ibiza. Materialism gives us Kardashians, not Carl Sagans.


The evolution of Giorgio into Internet laughing stock- cui bono?

I could be wrong, but Ancient Aliens comes across as a show for people who've never had an alien experience, for people who've never tripped balls and ripped at the coffin lid of infinity, or for people who've never had such an experience forced upon them.

It's just the same old, same old; mind-blowing mystical experience (which nearly all of those ancient texts describe) reduced to a 1980s Saturday morning cartoon.

It comes across as a show for people who haven't had their worldview shaked and baked and then been thrown back and had to pick up the pieces again. As a show that takes the magical and makes it mundane, that takes the psychotronic and makes it pseudo-scientific.

I want to defend Ancient Aliens, really I do. But I won't. This was a golden opportunity- a major architect of today's pop culture who was also obsessed with ancient astronauts- and they blew it. Just blew it. I'm sure Gerry Jones told them about Kirby, I'm sure their other comics guests probably did as well. But what do we get? The same soundbites you hear on every episode.

Go back and watch all the AAT documentaries from the 70s, with Rod Serling and William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy and so on and so forth. Even if you don't believe a word of it, that stuff still holds up and still kicks ass. And you definitely get the feeling that those motherfuckers were experienced.


Note: I know it's spelled "lede", but it looks weird as a headline.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Cult Fictions


Note: This is part of a larger research project I'm working on. This may be included, or it may not. It's a bit broad (and very first-drafty) so I may simply use it in my notes and preliminary material.


Throughout history, cults of all sizes and shapes have created exciting dramas to spread their doctrines to the uninitiated. Many of the same elements we see in comic books, paperback SF and fantasy novels and Hollywood movies were first introduced in these stories, not as entertainment per se, but as literal propaganda, meaning as messages designed to 'propagate the faith'.

In antiquity, pagan cults would put on lavish theatrical productions, reenacting the passions of their favorite gods. If you were in a major metropolitan area during the Hellenistic or Roman era, you could attend any number festivals in which the stories of Isis and Osiris, Demeter and Persephone, Adonis and Aphrodite, Cybele and Attis or several lesser-known stories would be used in what basically boiled down to recruitment drives. 

Street performers and vendors selling refreshments, icons and amulets would cluster around outside, adding to the carnival atmosphere. Kind of like the Dragon*Con of their day.


In the early Christian era, these dramas took the form of Passion Plays and hagiographies, or the biographies of the Saints. These stories were often so outrageous that the Vatican itself disowned many of them a long time ago. A lot of them are also simply appropriations of well-known figures from pagan mythology.

With the rise of Rosicrucianism and Freemasonry during the Enlightenment you had novels such as Francis Bacon's The New Atlantis and Johann Andreae's The Chemical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz, both meant to make the complicated theories of their respective fraternities accessible to the unitiated.

Fast forward to the 19th Century, with the incredible explosion of occultism and Spiritualism that followed in the wake of the Industrial Revolution and the American Civil War. You had superstar novelist Edward Bulwer-Lytton, whose own passion for Rosicrucian ideals lead to Zanoni. Ironically, his novel Vril, The Coming Race, would inspire a cult all its own, not to mention thousands of imitators.

Aleister Crowley wrote the novel Moonchild to try to make his thorny magickal writings more palatable for the casual reader (accent on the "try"). Similarly, occultist (and Theosophist) Dion Fortune would find success with a series of occult detective stories which explored her own positive magickal ideals. Sax Rohmer was best known for his Fu Manchu novels but also wrote a number of books propagating his own magickal theories.

The most notorious bit of backwash from the pulp/occult crossover was ultimately Scientology, dreamed up by former pulp writer L. Ron Hubbard when he realized he was still being paid the same penny a word he was when he entered the racket. 

Besides his "best-seller" Dianetics, Hubbard would advertise his cult with a sci-fi novel entitled Battlefield Earth. Following L Ron's death, celebrity Scientologist John Travolta would use his post-Pulp Fiction clout to stage a big budget adaption of the novel, which would go down in Hollywood's ledger book as one of the worst movies ever made.


Although the parallels are invisible to outsiders, many Mormons believe that Glen A. Larson generously leavened the 70s version Battlestar Galactica (which is credited as a Leslie Stevens creation by its original director) with LDS doctrine.

In the 1990s, the Christian Dominionist cult would rack up amazing numbers in the bookstores (well, the book section in Wal*Mart, at least) with Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins' Left Behind novels, based on the Dispensationalist concept of the Rapture. These novels were little more than political propaganda, but struck a nerve with the then ascendant religious right. As of this writing, a feature film is the works with Nicholas Cage in the lead.

More recently, the Objectivist cult has produced three feature films based on Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged, explicitly to spread Rand's philosophies. Unfortunately, the producers got a stark lesson in the reality of the Holy Marketplace that maybe those philosophies didn't prepare them for.

These are just a handful of examples. There have been any number of books, comics, films and plays created by sects, cults, churches, movements over the years, so much so that cataloging them would fill a blog on their own.

Think about this when you turn on your TV tonight. Cults aren't always theological, they're just as often political these days. Or 'scientific'. With the kind of big salaries we used to see receding from the mass media,  people go into documentary film-making especially to propagate their own beliefs, or better yet, the beliefs they've been trained to believe are their own.


UPDATE: Pedro at our Facebook group, The Lunar Barbecue (see right column) recommends Metamorphoses aka The Golden Ass by Apuleius. It's one of the oldest surviving novels, it's based in the old Roman Isis cult, and it's a work of magic unto itself. It's also hilariously funny and surprisingly easy to read. Check it out, either online or from the library. 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Lovecraft Redux: Strange Travels



I've been thinking about the Lovecraft issue, and the curious simultaneity of Lovecraft and Bailey's parallel update on forty year-old Theosophical doctrine, which is especially strange at a time when the Theosophists themselves were locking crazy old Grandma Blavatsky up in the attic in order not to scare the rubes away from their chosen one, Krishamurti.

Even if you're one of those people who hasn't read any of the texts in question and wants to dump it all onto Scott-Elliott, you have a situation in which his books were well over twenty years old at this point. And nothing ages faster than old cult literature, especially old cult literature that's on the outs with the new cult poobahs.

How curious is it that both Lovecraft and Bailey would be doing so not only at the same time but in the same city? Neither were native New Yorkers, but there they were.

Lovecraft had no reason to stay in New York- he hated it there and his wife had moved away. Yet, there he was. Bailey had a reason to be there- she was headquartered there, right in the middle of the financial district. Go figure.

I was reading Brinsley Le Poer Trench's (Irish peer and the 8th Earl of Clancarty) book The Sky People, published in 1960. Yes, the same year as The Morning of the Magicians. Sensing a pattern here? Like Bailey, Trench too was a "Back to Blavatsky" apostle. He's also several years ahead of Erich Von Daniken, but there's a virtual parade of those.

Trench doesn't mention Bailey but he does commend Desmond Leslie, another Irish peer (outed by Jacques Vallee as an intelligence operative) who himself cites Bailey's Treatise on Cosmic Fire in the  foreword of his 1953 best-seller, Flying Saucers Have Landed, which has the dubious distinction of introducing the work of George Adamski to the world, a California hamburger vendor who for some strange reason had been given a diplomatic passport by the Office of Naval Intelligence and an audience with the Pope.

We have waded into strange waters now, with a strong undertow.

Returning to the Lovecraft issue, there's been a nagging detail that I just can't seem to get out of my head. It has to do with the fact that a dirt-poor pulp writer seemed to have all kinds of money to travel all across the fertile fields and sparkling seashores of North America:
During the last decade of his life, Lovecraft devoted nearly every summer to extensive travels up and down the eastern seaboard, from Quebec to Key West…He came to love the town of Charleston, South Carolina, second only to his native city of Providence, Rhode Island. His trip to Vermont in 1927, recorded in his essay “Vermont—A First Impression,” was instrumental in the writing of “The Whisperer in Darkness”…“Observations on Several Parts of America” (1928) and “Travels in the Provinces of America” (1929) reveal…his fascination with such locales as Philadelphia, Maryland, and Virginia. “A Description of the Town of Quebeck” (1930–31) is his single longest work…
OK, there's a problem here. This is the 1920s and the 1930s, taking us well into the Great Depression. Unless Lovecraft was riding the hobo circuit and stowing away on a freight car, all this travel was expensive. This is a quarter century before the Interstate highway system was created, so all this travel meant travel by rail, which meant carfare, which meant food and lodging.

This kind of travel was prohibitive for many prosperous Americans, especially so during the Depression.

Can any Lovecraft fans out there explain to me how a writer who was allegedly living hand to mouth was able to afford this kind of luxury?
Throughout his life, selling stories and paid literary work for others did not provide enough to cover Lovecraft's basic expenses. Living frugally, he subsisted on an inheritance that had almost gone in his last years, by which time he sometimes went without food to afford the cost of mailing letters. He was forced to move to smaller and meaner lodgings with his surviving aunt.
He sometimes went without food but could afford to hopscotch all across North America? Something is not right here. Let's read about his financial situation "during the last decade of his life."
After their marriage...Greene and Lovecraft relocated to Brooklyn and moved into her apartment. Soon the couple were facing financial difficulties. Greene lost her hat shop and suffered poor health. Lovecraft could not find work to support them both, so his wife moved to Cleveland for employment. Lovecraft lived by himself in the Red Hook neighborhood of Brooklyn and came to dislike New York life intensely.
  In the last year or so of their marriage, Greene lived on the road, traveling for her job. She sent Lovecraft a weekly allowance that helped him pay for a tiny apartment in the then-working class Brooklyn Heights. During this time, Lovecraft claimed in letters that he was so poor that he lived for three days on one loaf of bread, one can of cold beans, and a hunk of cheese. A few years later, Lovecraft (who had returned to live in Providence, Rhode Island) and his wife...agreed to an amicable divorce... After her marriage to Lovecraft ended, in 1933 Greene moved to California.
Yet back in Providence we read that:
Lovecraft lived in a "spacious brown Victorian wooden house" at 10 Barnes Street until 1933.
OK.

I don't have any answers here. I don't have any theories. I have only very big questions. How do the Joshi books explain all this? I can't seem to find any explanation of this raging contradiction online and my main Lovecraft source is stumped (though he admits he hasn't read up on this particular topic recently). I welcome any intelligent, well-reasoned, and cordial feedback from Lovecraft fans.


Because this doesn't make any sense.

UPDATE: I've got the details on Lovecraft's travels and I have to say I'm even more confused. Some of his trips are self-evident- the long visits to future Rockefeller and Guggenheim fellow and Lovecraft penpal R.H. Barlow (then only a teenaged boy) in Florida- but others are less so. And though a lot of his travel was by bus, you still have an awful lot of expense for a man with no apparent means of support other than a small allowance from Sonia and whatever pittance he could earn from his stories. Very odd.

For instance, the starving artist at one point paid three bucks for a scenic plane ride around Cape Cod; three bucks would buy a lot of cans of beans in the Depression. What we should also remember is that the pulp business itself was in bed with some interesting characters; the Mafia used the pulp mills to smuggle Canadian liquor over the border and the newsstands themselves were notorious money laundering operations.  There's also the fact that Lovecraft's one-time writing partner Harry Houdini was recently outed as a spy.

Does that anything to do with Lovecraft per se? No, it just shows that he was swimming in some pretty murky waters his entire career. And you should always remember that nothing is ever as it seems.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Did You Hear? UFOlogy is Dying. Again.



New York Magazine spends the slow weeks of midsummer declaring "The End of UFOs!" The title is a major misnomer, as the article in question is actually about the latest death of UFOlogy (or UFOOLogy, as it's alternately known). UFOlogy has died so many times I've lost count. I wrote about this boom and bust cycle two a half years ago myself.

Every 10 years or so a new wave of enthusiasts gets all excited about UFOs. It's often preceded or accompanied by a hit movie or TV show, which in turn inspires a clutch of imitators. That brings outs out a new wave of UFOlogists, and rekindles interest in the works of elder statesmen in the field. The topic gets a lot of play in the media, there are a lot of sightings and rumors of sightings and all kinds of expectations arise and all sorts of prophecies are made. 
The problem is that the UFOs themselves never seem to care much. The flaps die down. Sometimes there are major hoaxes or accusations of hoaxes and nothing ever seems to go anywhere. Then all of the new, young UFOlogists turn around and declare UFOlogy 'dead' and competition breaks out to see who be the most militant born-again debunker or have the most dramatic skeptical conversion epiphany.

In the past, Keel wrote of UFOlogy's death in the late 50s following the Contactee nonsense and NICAP scandals, only to have it come charging back in 1966 with Interrupted Journey and the 1966 UFO wave. Similarly, Vallee wrote of how the field seemed all but dead in the wake of 1969's Condon Report, only to be reborn with the '73 flap, which became the '74 and '75 flaps.

It would simmer down yet again, only to get a boost with Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Jimmy Carter's inauguration in 1977. Carter not only reported a UFO sighting, he unleashed a torrent of secret UFO documents under the Freedom of Information Act, a move that kept UFOlogy busy for much of the Eighties.

Just as the lustre from those revelations began to fade, Whitley Strieber unleashed Communion, with its iconic Grey book cover, setting in motion a tidal wave of a movement that researchers such as Budd Hopkins, John Mack and David Jacobs were only too happy to surf. Old time UFOlogists for the most part cast a jaundiced eye in the abductees direction, arguing they were attempting to construct a science, and the religious- and often mystical, usually Christian ("Communion") tone of the abductee material was undermining what they saw as the rigorous work of soil sampling, number crunching and radar analysis.

But UFOlogy has always been a fringe movement, even if major media productions like Close Encounters dragged in the curious. I'd say more often than not most people's first UFO convention was their last (I've never attended one myself) since hard facts and physical evidence has always been the movement's Achilles Heel. And anyone who spends even a few hours poking around UFOlogy sites will see a lot of rancor and infighting. At the height of his celebrity, Strieber was quoted as saying that "so-called UFOlogists are probably the cruelest, nastiest and craziest people I have ever encountered."

Such is the cyclical nature of UFOlogy that Keel himself wrote in the 1996 edition of Operation Trojan Horse, at what many would see as the apex of 90s UFOmania, "The UFO cults would diminish in size in the early 1970s until no one was left except for a very small group who built their dark, paranoid personal worlds around the semi-religious concepts of the contactees of the 1950s and, later, the abductees of the 1980s." Bear in mind, that "UFO Cults" is Keel's term for UFOlogists, not Heaven's Gate or Raelians. 

He adds that surviving "hard-core UFO cultists (there are fewer than 1,000 in the U.S.) responded by simply ignoring this vast literature and making fools of themselves on the tabloid television shows by promoting their now­ archaic extraterrestrial theologies."

You'll find the same kind of bitterness among a lot of old UFOlogists today, many of whom are now mea culpa flagellants, confessing to the sin of flying saucers. They can't quit it, they can't walk away, they still talk about them endlessly, but now they sit and lament what fools they were. Those damned Reticulans never came and took them away from all their troubles! Oh, cruel stars!

What I think it really comes down to is that there's no money in UFOlogy. There was for a while when Laurence Rockefeller was interested and now Bigelow Airspace seems to be running their own privatized UFOlogy (the story goes that the FAA and the like refer all sightings now to Bigelow) for reasons we can only guess at, but they certainly have no interest in sharing the wealth. They have their own UFOlogists, thank you.

This is no small thing because this speaks to a larger story, the expansion of government secrecy, the privatization of National Security, and the increasingly opaque nature of the intelligence apparatus even in the wake of the Snowden and Wikileaks revelations. The fact of the matter is that most of what we know about UFOs and the government dates back to those Carter-era document dumps, and very little has come to light since. Nothing much of substance either for or against has come to light since 9/11.

And the other story here- of course- is the Internet.

The Internet has ravaged the entire book publishing industry, it's all but destroyed the newspaper industry and magazines are barely hanging on by a thread. UFOlogy is filled with older men trying to sell books speculating about what those lights in the sky mean. But there's an entirely new UFOlogy on the Internet where people are taking pictures and videos of their own and posting their own speculations about what those lights in the sky mean, thank you very much.

The New York piece makes this very important observation:
None of this, however, was a reason to close the books on flying saucers. This would be impossible, since if you happened to have laid eyes on something you sincerely believed to be a UFO, it tends to stick. 
I will never be free of that cold winter’s night in 1989 when, along with my wife, I saw a saucer-shaped object fly down the East River and soar beneath the Brooklyn Bridge. The way the craft seemed to coquettishly blink its lights as if to say, "even here, I appear, and then disappear" told me, that against all rationality, this particular interface with the ineffable was meant for me.

And so it has been since human beings first looked up in the skies. UFOlogy is just a passing phase, a Cold War relic. A fleeting attempt to tame the ineffable with the hopelessly inadequate tools of the Enlightenment. An attempt to trace a fractal with a t-square. It won't be missed.

On a purely symbolical level, the UFO has been an agent for massive cultural change, as Jung wrote about, as Vallee wrote about. That's during a time of peace and prosperity.  As the American Empire cracks up before our eyes, as both unimaginable intranational and international conflagration loom on the horizon, we can only guess at what role it will play.

UPDATE: Gee, funny how this all tends to be coordinated, isn't it? Pilkington's decidedly not-new Mirage Men gets featured in The Guardian. Strangely enough the reviewer is skeptical. Good on him.
By the way, Richard Doty told a number of stories about being involved with The X-Files that are all total nonsense. So why believe anything he says about anything?

UPDATE: The always-unforgivably-brilliant Gordon White has been working this same vein from the other side of the pond. If you don't have Rune Soup bookmarked/newsfed, you are starving your mind.

UPDATE: "UFOLogy is dying," the media tells us. Yet MUFON reports a record number of sightings in 2012 and 2013,  Hangar 1 gets a second season, Giorgio Tsoukalos's haircut gets its own show, Ancient Aliens is now in its seventh season (and is on H2 seemingly around the clock), there are about a hundred UFO docs on Netflix and Chris Carter has a new Area 51-themed show coming out on AMC.

How exactly does the media define dead? Interesting to note that the writers chosen for this latest round of media inoculation weren't really willing to go along with the program, either. Strange times we live in.


Monday, August 11, 2014

Lovecraft's Secret Source for the Cthulhu Mythos



H.P. Lovecraft claimed in a letter to Conan author Robert E. Howard that the Cthulhu Mythos was his own creation. Even diehard Lovecraft fans don't buy that anymore. Lovecraft was a voracious reader (meaning he was poor and not exactly prolific) and was a hardcore fanboy before fanboys were a thing. He famously wore his influences on his sleeve (Dunsany, Poe, etc), but maybe there were some he kept a bit closer to his vest.

"The Call of Cthulhu  is one of my favorite Lovecraft stories ("The Festival" and "Colour Out of Space" probably round out my top three) and is probably one of the richest for symbol mining. It's rife with stock pulp riffs but also displays a familiarity with esoteric literature that belies his self-image as a hard-bitten materialist.

The Wikipedia entry for the story lists some of the influences Lovecraft scholars have cited in the story, including Tennyson's The Kraken, de Maupassant's The Horla, Dunsany's  The Gods of Pegana and William Scott-Elliot's The Story of Atlantis and The Lost Lemuria. 

One story they overlook- and a story I am cosmically certain he read- is Jack London's The Red One, which deals with (among other things) a crew of sailors who discover a remote Pacific Island tribe who worship an alien probe that landed on Earth. The florid language of the "starry gulfs" and "pitiless rule of natural selection" should ring a familiar note with any serious Lovecraft fan.
Even as he lay here, under the breadfruit tree, an intelligence that stared across the starry gulfs, so must all the universe be exposed to the ceaseless scrutiny of innumerable eyes, like his, though grantedly different, with behind them, by the same token, intelligences that questioned and sought the meaning and the construction of the whole.  So reasoning, he felt his soul go forth in kinship with that august company, that multitude whose gaze was forever upon the arras of infinity. 
Who were they, what were they, those far distant and superior ones who had bridged the sky with their gigantic, red-iridescent, heaven-singing message?  Surely, and long since, had they, too, trod the path on which man had so recently, by the calendar of the cosmos, set his feet.  And to be able to send a message across the pit of space, surely they had reached those heights to which man, in tears and travail and bloody sweat, in darkness and confusion of many counsels, was so slowly struggling.
  
And what were they on their heights?  Had they won Brotherhood?  Or had they learned that the law of love imposed the penalty of weakness and decay?  Was strife, life?  Was the rule of all the universe the pitiless rule of natural selection?   
Of one thing he was certain: No drop of red dew shaken from the lion-mane of some sun in torment, was the sounding sphere.  It was of design, not chance, and it contained the speech and wisdom of the stars. 
What engines and elements and mastered forces, what lore and mysteries and destiny-controls, might be there!   
While I'm certain Lovecraft read The Red One, I'm also certain he read a corpus of literature altogether more esoteric, and he subtly signals to his readers this fact throughout the text. Here's a telling example from "Cthulhu":
Theosophists have guessed at the awesome grandeur of the cosmic cycle wherein our world and human race form transient incidents. They have hinted at strange survivals in terms which would freeze the blood if not masked by a bland optimism. 
Ah, yes- Theosophy.

While most Lovecraft fans seem to think Helena Blavatsky was the only Theosophist who ever picked up a pen, there's another Theosophist who in her own way was just as influential, and was certainly more influential on the UFO scene and its relations than the old Madam.  (Note that Scott-Elliot, cited on Wikipedia, was also a Theosophist)

Alice Bailey was a Theosophist who became a scare figure in Christian conspiracy literature thanks to her knitting circle New Age foundation known as the Lucis Trust, formerly known as the Lucifer Publishing Company (Lucifer was the name of the official Theosophist newspaper for many years).

Bailey claimed to telepathically channel an "Ascended Master" known as 'The Tibetan' aka Djwal Khul, who allegedly dictated a virtual library of nearly-impenetrable Theosophist literature. Bailey was a Blavatsky loyalist and pretender to the throne who was kicked out of the Society when Annie Besant took control. Undaunted, she started her own operation, including a publishing arm and branch offices in Europe and North America.

The Lucis Trust's star rose as the Theosophists' star began to fall and although Bailey and the Trust are relatively obscure now they had a huge influence in their time. Many, including the esteemed religious scholar J. Gordon Melton, have credited her as the founder of the New Age movement. As many as one million people had some involvement with her teachings, according to one source on modern religions.

Bailey had some influence on the United Nations as well, much to the horror of said conspiracy theorists. Which makes this story all the weirder...

THE CALL OF KHUL



Beginning in 1922's Initiation, Human and Solar,  Bailey- I'm sorry, Djwal Khul- revealed a dense and elaborate cosmology of angelic beings that came to Earth from the Sirius star system (via astral projection), took human form, and through means not entirely made explicit began to evolve primitive apemen into modern homo sapiens.

Mind you, this is 50 years before Zecharia Sitchin or anyone like that. And way, way before Ancient Aliens. 

The Tibetan's telepathic transmissions ran the gamut; Lemuria, Atlantis, Shamballa, Masonic lodges on Sirius and the Pleiades, the whole Theosophical kit and kaboodle. As in the Cthulhu mythos many of these beings went into a kind of hibernation, keeping in contact with an appointed priesthood through telepathy and awaiting the dawning of the New Age.

Though Bailey was a Blavatsky apostle by confession, her own books reveal fascinating revisions to Theosophical mythology, revisions that would account for many of the innovations in the Cthulhu Mythos that had been previously credited to Lovecraft alone.

Besides Lucifer's house magazine The Beacon, Bailey would publish two more books predating the debut of "The Call of Cthulhu", Letters on Occult Meditation and A Treatise on Cosmic Fire.

All three of these books contain cosmological elements that would directly predate Lovecraft-- given the fact that he namechecks Theosophy seven times in "Cthulhu",  I would suggest that it's highly probable Lovecraft had access to this literature and it's possible he was keeping it secret from his circle of correspondents (or at least some of them), most likely to safeguard a source for material. As we'll see, his own writings reveal a powerful motive for this. (Note: see postscript)

It's even possible that the Wilcox character in "Cthulhu" was based on an acquaintance of Lovecraft's ("he called himself 'psychically hypersensitive'") who was interested in Theosophy, and was his source for the material that Lovecraft was plundering for his new mythos.

Here's a bullet-point summary of the arguments I'll be making here:
• Alice Bailey was a well-known Theosophist who expanded on Madam Blavatsky's work 
• Beginning in 1922, Bailey began preaching a prototype of what is now known as Ancient Astronaut Theory 
• Bailey's work contains several unique innovations on Blavatsky's exegesis  
• Careful study of Lovecraft's "Call of Cthulhu  shows the distinct influence of Bailey's work on the so-called Chthulu Mythos 
• This influence is shown in the names, origins, physical natures, relationship to humanity, past history and other unique details 
• Specific clues to Bailey's influence can be found in "Cthulhu" as well as "Shadow Out of Time"
• Bailey's original appeal for Lovecraft may have been that she had written a sequel to the Book of Dzyan, a phatasmagorical Theosophical text that HPL found inspiration in 

With that, let's begin with Bailey's origin story...

Bailey and Lovecraft's Alien Hierarchies

From Initiation, here is Bailey's elevator pitch for her millions-years old alien gods:

THE FOUNDING OF THE HIERARCHY
Its Appearance on the Planet 
Suffice it for our purpose to say that in the middle of the Lemurian epoch, approximately eighteen million years ago, occurred a great event which signified, among other things, the following developments: - The Planetary Logos of our earth scheme, one of the Seven Spirits before the throne, took physical incarnation, and, under the form of Sanat Kumara, the Ancient of Days, and the Lord of the World, came down to this dense physical planet and has remained with us ever since... 
With the Ancient of Days came a group of other highly evolved Entities, who represent his own individual karmic group and those Beings who are the outcome of the triple nature of the Planetary Logos. 
Those who are now the inner group around the Lord of the World have been primarily recruited from the ranks of those who were initiates on the moon chain (the cycle of evolution preceding ours) or who have come in on certain streams of solar energy, astrologically determined, from other planetary schemes….

Fundamentalists made hay with "Sanat," claiming it was an anagram for Satan, but either way he and his entourage made their way to Earth and took physical form. From "Call of Cthulhu , essentially the same story, less portentously phrased:
They had, indeed, come themselves from the stars, and brought Their images with Them. 
These Great Old Ones, Castro continued, were not composed altogether of flesh and blood. They had shape - for did not this star-fashioned image prove it? - but that shape was not made of matter. When the stars were right, They could plunge from world to world through the sky; but when the stars were wrong, They could not live. But although They no longer lived, They would never really die. 

To recap, both impossibly ancient godlike aliens who travel via astral projection. Lovecraft makes a point- exactly as we see in Initiation- that astrology determines the success of their travels. Remember now that Lovecraft claimed not to believe in any of that claptrap. Why would he include that detail? Because he was following someone else's script. It gets better, or worse, depending on your point of view here.

GREAT ONES

Here's where we get into the nomenclature, the Old Ones and the Deep Ones and the This Ones and the That Ones. From "Chthulu":
My knowledge of the thing began in the winter of 1926-27 with the death of my great-uncle, George Gammell Angell, Professor Emeritus of Semitic Languages in Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island. Professor Angell was widely known as an authority on ancient inscriptions, and had frequently been resorted to by the heads of prominent museums; so that his passing at the age of ninety-two may be recalled by many.
The surname "Angell" (named after Lovecraft's old Providence address) provides our first clue, because as opposed to Blavatsky's Dzyan verses (cited most often by Lovecraft scholars as his primary Theosophist source), Bailey repeatedly uses the term "Angel" interchangeably with her descriptions of the ascended antediluvian masters.



OK, big deal, right? Perhaps another important clue; Lovecraft undoubtedly knew that in the ancient traditions, angels- or Cherubim- were chimeras, made of many different parts of animals (Just like Cthulhu!). Even in the more modern tradition angels are chimeras of man and bird.

Further,  I'm not certain if Lovecraft was aware of this but the surname Gammell means "Old One", but given his track record there's a good chance he did. It seems too much of a coincidence here.

Which brings us to our first exhibit- the naming of these extraterrestrial beings.

Lovecraft uses the "Great Old Ones", Bailey used "Great Ones" and the like throughout Initiation. Lovecraft refers to the Elder Things, Initiation refers to the Ancient One. Two races of impossibly ancient godlike extraterrestrials who travel to Earth via astral projection, two nearly identical names.

Here are some examples from Initiation, Human and Solar:
"He is the greatest of all the Avatars, or Coming Ones
"To cooperate with the plan of the Great Ones as he sees it and as best he may."  
"It is not easy to love as do the Great Ones, with a pure love which requires nothing back" 
"They are not very many in number, for the majority of the Great Ones pass on steadily and increasingly to other and higher work, as their places can be taken and their functions carried on by members of our earth evolution, both deva and human." 
"Those who do the work of wielding forces, or electrical magnetism for the use of the Great Ones on all the planes, pass to this Path." 
"Great waves of ideas and surging currents of public opinion on astral levels, as well as on the higher levels where the Great Ones work, are manipulated by them." 
"These mighty Four, Action and Love, in wise cooperation work with their Brothers of a lesser grade, the three Great Lords we know." 
"He with the Name we mention not, save in utter adoration; the Youth of Endless Summers, the Light of Life itself, the Wondrous One, the Ancient One, Lord of Venusian Love, the great Kumara with the Flaming Sword, the Peace of all the Earth."
There's more in her other books, but you get the idea. And this quote from Initiation feels especially Lovecraftian:
"To the greatest Lord of all, before whom e'en that Ancient One bends in obeisance low; before whose throne of effulgent light Angels of highest rank, Masters and Lords of uttermost compassion, prostrate themselves and humbly bend, waiting the Word to rise."
Identical beings, identical names. But what about the exact nature of these beings? First Lovecraft:
These Great Old Ones, Castro continued, were not composed altogether of flesh and blood. They had shape - for did not this star-fashioned image prove it? - but that shape was not made of matter. 
Bailey:
(The Ancient of Days) came down to this dense physical planet and has remained with us ever since. Owing to the extreme purity of his nature…he was unable to take a dense physical body such as ours, and has to function in his etheric body. He is the greatest of all the Avatars, or Coming Ones.
Identical origins, identical names, identical natures. What do did these beings do here on Earth, respectively? Lovecraft, you're up:
It was then that he began that rambling tale which suddenly played upon a sleeping memory and won the fevered interest of my uncle. There had been a slight earthquake tremor the night before, the most considerable felt in New England for some years; and Wilcox's imagination had been keenly affected. Upon retiring, he had had an unprecedented dream of great Cyclopean cities of Titan blocks and sky-flung monoliths, all dripping with green ooze and sinister with latent horror. 
Then, whispered Castro, those first men formed the cult around tall idols which the Great Ones shewed them; idols brought in dim eras from dark stars.

From another Theosophical text, The Book of Dzyan (published 1888), concerning the descendants original Seven that Bailey also writes of in Initiation.
STANZA IV.
1. . . . Listen, ye sons of the earth, to your instructors -- the sons of the fire. learn, there is neither first nor last, for all is one: number issued from no number.
2. Learn what we who descend from the primordial seven, we who are born from the primordial flame, have learnt from our fathers. . . .
 
43. They built huge cities, of rare earths and metals they built, and out of the fires vomited, out of the white stone of the mountains and of the black stone, they cut their own images in their size and likeness, and worshipped them.
OK, gods descending from the stars, building huge stone cities, building idols of themselves and making them objects of worship.

All published FORTY years before "The Call of Cthulhu."

But what happened to this giant stone city of the space gods? Howard?
The great stone city R'lyeh, with its monoliths and sepulchres, had sunk beneath the waves; and the deep waters, full of the one primal mystery through which not even thought can pass, had cut off the spectral intercourse.  
Dzyan: 
44. They built great images nine yatis high, the size of their bodies. inner fires had destroyed the land of their fathers. The water threatened the fourth. 
45. The first great waters came. They swallowed the seven great islands.
The Dzyan texts are key to this mystery. We'll return to them shortly.

MYSTERY OF THE BAYOU

Here's a giveaway; a detail that Lovecraft threw in, tipping his hat to his source material by adding in a scene meant as an editorial comment on the potential moral hazards that this Theosophic hoodoo posed to polite society, one I'm sure most readers missed.

Let's get some background first...


In Initiation, Human and Solar makes it clear that the new religion is a revival of the ancient Mystery cults:
THE PARTICIPANTS IN THE MYSTERIES 
The participants in the mysteries are generally known, and no secret has been made of the general personnel and procedure. It is only sought here to impart a greater sense of reality to the data already given by a fuller exposition and a more pointed reference to the parts played by such during the ceremony.
Picking up on the Mystery cult angle, Lovecraft shows just well-read he is when he takes us to the swamps of Louisiana. I'll tell you why shortly.
Animal fury and orgiastic license here whipped themselves to daemoniac heights by howls and squawking ecstacies that tore and reverberated through those nighted woods like pestilential tempests from the gulfs of hell.  
From a wide circle of ten scaffolds set up at regular intervals with the flame-girt monolith as a centre hung, head downward, the oddly marred bodies of the helpless squatters who had disappeared. It was inside this circle that the ring of worshippers jumped and roared, the general direction of the mass motion being from left to right in endless Bacchanal between the ring of bodies and the ring of fire. 
Only two of the prisoners were found sane enough to be hanged, and the rest were committed to various institutions. All denied a part in the ritual murders, and averred that the killing had been done by Black Winged Ones which had come to them from their immemorial meeting-place in the haunted wood.  

Just as he does when he namechecks the Theosophists, Lovecraft reveals his sources by comparing this ritual to the ancient "Bacchanals."
Ever since the rites involved the admission of men among the women, and with the added liberation of darkness, absolutely every crime and vice was performed there. The men had more sex with each other than with the women. Anyone who was less prepared for disgrace and slow to commit crimes was offered up as a sacrifice. To consider nothing wrong was the principal tenet of their religio. 
Men, as if insane, prophesied with wild convulsions of their bodies, married women in the dress of the Bacchants with streaming hair ran down to the Tiber carrying burning torches, which they dipped into the water and brought out still alight . People were said to have been carried off by gods; they had been strapped to a machine and snatched from sight to hidden caves. Those seized were people who had refused to join in conspiracy or participate in crimes or engage in sex.   
ROMAN PERCEPTIONS OF THE BACCHIC CULT
Livy, History of Rome 39.8-13 (abridged)

Note the precisely parallel citations of A., furious rites, B., human sacrifice, C., the machines of death and D., people killed by gods who emerge from their ancient hiding places. 

Lovecraft knew his Livy.

This is just an excerpt- you can find all sorts of descriptions of Bacchanals where women rip animals apart with their bare hands and eat them raw, all sorts of yelling and screaming and self-mutilation; these rituals got pretty hairy (though not all Mysteries were as crazy as the Bacchic, certainly).

For a buttoned-up conservative like Lovecraft to see a crazy woman like Alice Bailey desiring to resurrect the ancient Mysteries? Well, you can imagine the horror.

This is a major clue. You can imagine your stock voodoo cult in a horror story, but for Lovecraft  to cite an ancient Mystery cult so specifically- and within the context of all the other parallels- suggests to us he was reading Bailey.

DELUGE

Lovecraft speaks of an ancient calamity in which the city of the Old Ones sunk beneath the waves. But this was just a temporary inconvenience- the Old Ones are just biding their time until they rise again. The "spectral intercourse" between god and man goes on.
In the elder time chosen men had talked with the entombed Old Ones in dreams, but then something happened. The great stone city R'lyeh, with its monoliths and sepulchres, had sunk beneath the waves; and the deep waters, full of the one primal mystery through which not even thought can pass, had cut off the spectral intercourse. But memory never died, and the high-priests said that the city would rise again when the stars were right. 
Bailey speaks of the same ancient deluge, only in Atlantis, and the same continuing relationship between the gods and humanity, referring to the First World War which had ended only five years earlier. We will soon see that Bailey's "forces of light" and "forces of darkness"also battled in space, or in "the stars."
The Hierarchy thus took advantage of the discriminative faculty of mind, which is the distinctive quality of humanity, to enable him, through the balancing of the pairs of opposites, to reach his goal, and to find his way back to the source from whence he came. 
This decision led to that great struggle which distinguished the Atlantean civilization, and which culminated in the destruction called the flood, referred to in all the Scriptures of the world. The forces of light, and the forces of darkness, were arrayed against each other, and this for the helping of humanity. The struggle still persists, and the World War through which we have just passed was a recrudescence of it.
Lovecraft too has Cthulhu and his host of chimeras waiting in the watery wastes of R'lyeh after the ancient deluge, looking to the stars for a signal.
Those Old Ones were gone now, inside the earth and under the sea; but their dead bodies had told their secrets in dreams to the first men, who formed a cult which had never died. This was that cult, and the prisoners said it had always existed and always would exist, hidden in distant wastes and dark places all over the world until the time when the great priest Cthulhu, from his dark house in the mighty city of R'lyeh under the waters, should rise and bring the earth again beneath his sway. Some day he would call, when the stars were ready, and the secret cult would always be waiting to liberate him.
Both Lovecraft and Bailey are following in previous Theosophical footsteps, but we are seeing fresh impetus from texts that were now contemporary with Lovecraft. Which brings us to a new Book of Dzyan...

NEW TESTAMENTS

Bailey, a Blavatskyian to the core, published a new series of "Stanzas of Dzyan" in A Treatise on Cosmic Fire in 1925.  These would be just as florid and Lovecraft-ready as the first batch. Perhaps more so, as we shall see.


Now read this excerpt from Bailey's Dzyan and compare to Lovecraft's quote from "Call":
STANZA X
The waters arose. All sank and was submerged. The sacred remnant, in the place appointed, emerged at later date from out the zone of safety. 
The waters dissipated. The solid ground emerged in certain destined places....When the lesser Fifth had midway passed and all the lesser four were peopling the land, the Lords of Dark Intent arose...They constructed other forms. They called for cosmic fire. The seven deep pits of hell belched forth the animating shades.  
The period of destruction extended far on either hand. The work was sadly marred. The Chohans of the highest plane gazed in silence on the work. The Asuras and the Chaitans, the Sons of Cosmic Evil, and the Rishis of the darkest constellations,  gathered their lesser hosts, the darkest spawn of hell. They darkened all the space. The early Third produced the monsters, great beasts and evil forms. They prowled upon the surface of the sphere. 
The watery Fourth produced within the watery sphere, reptiles and spawn of evil fame, the product of their karma. The waters came and swept away the progenitors of the fluidic spawn.
Stunning. There's your Mythos right there, evil beasts in the ocean in communion with evil spirits in outer space. Note the florid prose and emphasis on astrology.

Bailey is obviously riffing on Blavatsky here but doing so in a more sci-fi adjacent manner, offering an exegesis ready made for pulp exploitation. And remember again this is all being credited to a "spirit being" named Khul.

With this, we have the exact allure of Bailey's work for Lovecraft; he was besotted with the Dzyan verses, and to get a whole new source, ripe for pulp exploitation, must have been a godsend. As he wrote in 1933:  "I'm quite on edge about that Dzyan-Shamballah stuff. The cosmic scope of it --- Lords of Venus, and all that --- sounds so especially and emphatically in my line!" (Selected Letters, vol. IV, p. 153).


There's another crucial clue: it would be Bailey's work- and not Blavatsky's- where Shamballah would be fully explored. Initation, Human and Solar is rife with references to the mythical city and obviously fresher in the public's mind. Blavatsky's work was 50 years old at this point and includes only two passing references to Shamballah.


As in Secret Doctrine, Bailey's Treatise on Cosmic Fire would also contain these new, sci-fi Stanzas of Dzyan as well as references to the "Lord of Venus" and Shamballah, where like the Great Old Ones, Bailey's "Great Ones" dwell in etheric bodies. All in a more recent and easier-to-digest package.



Alien Overlords? Lucifer? What could be the problem?

Lovecraft keeps hitting the same notes as Bailey. Here we have an old pulp standby but old pulp standbys didn't appear out of the ether, they were lifted from Theosophy and other occult traditions. "Cthulhu":
What the police did extract, came mainly from the immensely aged mestizo named Castro, who claimed to have sailed to strange ports and talked with undying leaders of the cult in the mountains of China.
Bailey too has the priests of her space gods in China as well, the Gobi desert to be precise, operating in etheric (or undying) form:
This Hierarchy of Brothers of Light still exists, and the work goes steadily on. They are all in physical existence, either in dense physical bodies, such as many of the Masters employ, or in etheric bodies, such as the more exalted helpers and the Lord of the World occupy. 
The central home of this Hierarchy is at Shamballa, a center in the Gobi desert, called in the ancient books the "White Island." It exists in etheric matter, and when the race of men on earth have developed etheric vision its location will be recognized and its reality admitted.
Amazing. Lovecraft must have been confident his audience- young, male, nerdy- would never go near Theosophist literature, which was written for a largely older, mostly female audience. How else can you explain such brazen appropriation?

But Bailey goes Lovecraft one better- the ancient space gods didn't just come here and do their funky mojo- they came here to make "animal man" a fit receptacle for their consciousness, thereby giving us a pretty clear - or as clear as we're going to get in a Theosophical text- example of Intervention Theory. 

So they didn't come here just to build giant stone cities and make themselves gods, they came here to speed up human evolution (see postscript):
The decision of the Planetary Logos to take a physical vehicle produced an extraordinary stimulation in the evolutionary process, and by his incarnation, and the methods of force distribution he employed, he brought about in a brief cycle of time what would otherwise have been inconceivably slow. The germ of mind in animal man was stimulated. 
The fourfold lower man, was coordinated and stimulated, and became a fit receptacle for the coming in of the self- conscious entities, those spiritual triads (the reflection of spiritual will, intuition, or wisdom, and higher mind) who had for long ages been waiting for just such a fitting. The fourth, or human kingdom, came thus into being, and the self-conscious, or rational unit, man, began his career. 
(Note: Bailey is expanding here on Scott-Elliot by adding an evolutionary sheen to the Theosophical Walk-In hoodoo. Curiously, Lovecraft didn't seem to cotton to this, perhaps betraying his own Darwinist impulses).


Lovecraft writes of his Old Ones in their watery tombs, dead but not dead, waiting for for the time when they could burst forth from their prisons.
They could not live. But although They no longer lived, They would never really die. They all lay in stone houses in Their great city of R'lyeh, preserved by the spells of mighty Cthulhu for a glorious surrection when the stars and the earth might once more be ready for Them. But at that time some force from outside must serve to liberate Their bodies. The spells that preserved them intact likewise prevented Them from making an initial move, and They could only lie awake in the dark and think whilst uncounted millions of years rolled by. 
 This too reads like an excerpt from the Book of Dzyan. Here is the same lament, dead but not dead, in a gloomy ocean, waiting for an inevitable resurrection:
Nor Aught nor Nought existed; yon bright sky
. Was not, nor heaven's broad roof outstretched above.
 What covered all? what sheltered? what concealed?
 Was it the water's fathomless abyss
 There was not death -- yet there was nought immortal,
 There was no confine betwixt day and night;
 The only One breathed breathless by itself,
  Other than It there nothing since has been.
 
Darkness there was, and all at first was veiled
. In gloom profound -- an ocean without light --
The germ that still lay covered in the husk 

Burst forth, one nature, from the fervent heat. 
Thou wert. And when the subterranean flame
 Shall burst its prison and devour the frame. Thou shalt be still as Thou wert before
 And knew no change, when time shall be no more.
Oh! endless thought, divine ETERNITY."
And as with so much of this material, note how closely Lovecraft aped the portentous syntax of the Dzyan material, whether Blavatsky's or Bailey's. It's uncanny.

TELEPATHS

Finally, Lovecraft has his Great Old Ones telepathically speaking to the living from their watery tombs, to the "sensitive," through their dreams.
They knew all that was occurring in the universe, for Their mode of speech was transmitted thought. Even now They talked in Their tombs. When, after infinities of chaos, the first men came, the Great Old Ones spoke to the sensitive among them by moulding their dreams; for only thus could Their language reach the fleshly minds of mammals.

Here is where I finally begin to conclude that "The Call of Cthulhu  began life as a Theosophist, in particular an Alice Bailey,  parody.

Bailey claimed that not only was she in contact with a Secret Chief, she claimed she was in telepathic contact with one. The possibilities must have been too rich for Lovecraft to resist. Not only is she in telepathic contact with one of these characters- named Khul, remember- but she claims he's the avatar of a multimillion-year-old alien god who astral projected from a Masonic lodge in the Sirius star system.

I mean, the stories write themselves, don't they?

And so one of the central features is that Cthulhu and his Great Old Ones- as opposed to Khul and his Great Ones- also communicate telepathically with their future cultists, who just like Bailey claimed for the Theosophists, are based on the ancient Mystery cults. 

After all, there is a huge precedent for a major pop culture mythos (immensely more popular in its heyday than Lovecraft) being drawn from Theosophical speculation- Edgar Rice Burrough's John Carter of Mars series.



Lovecraft scholar Robert M. Price cited Ascended Master/Secret Chief Khoot Humi (aka "Kuthumi" aka Koothoomi) as a source for Chthulu's name, but like most academics he tends towards the misconception that media-appointed figureheads represent the totality of heretical movements (Von Daniken equals all Ancient Astronaut Theorists, Blavatsky equals all Theosophists, Alex Jones equals all Truthers) and so his work on the Lovecraft-Theosophy connection completely overlooked contemporary Theosophists to HPL such as Bailey.

The final giveaway that Lovecraft was reading Bailey is Djwal Khul- he provides the "hul" in Cthulhu.

Kuthumi and Djwal Khul--
Kuth- Khul--
Cth --hul-U--
Cthulhu.

So now we can shovel dirt on the idea that "Lovecraft created Ancient Astronaut Theory." The true fact of the matter is that Lovecraft ripped off Ancient Astronaut Theory from Alice Bailey, straight up, no chaser.

Of course, this only makes the Mythos all the weirder and more resonant, taking it out of the dry, dead world of neckbeardery and Academia and plugging it into the world of the Occult and parapolitics, where it belongs. 

This proves yet again that our most resonant myths come only from the world of the irrational and the truly weird, and that without movements like Theosophy and the Golden Dawn there'd be no science fiction or horror or superhero fiction.

What is most important to remember is that the devils here are in the details. The influence of Theosophy on pulp fiction is not a news flash. I wrote about it in Our Gods Wear Spandex. Lovecraft's interest in the proto-ancient astronauts of Madame Blavatsky was explored by Price over thirty years ago.

What is striking here is how close and how specific Lovecraft's appropriations of Bailey's "new revelations" are, how detailed they are. Lovecraft was thrilled by Blavatsky's Dzyan pseudo-history, and was almost certainly equally thrilled to find a fresh wellspring of Theosophical hoodoo to exploit- his livelihood depended on it.

Lovecraft was not a creative person as the term is commonly understood- he was a master synthesist of other people's material (Dunsany, Poe, etc). And that would provide a very clear motive for keeping his discovery of books such as Initiation, Human and Solar secret from his circle of fellow pulp fictioneers.



Note: This is a blog in progress (blogress?). Your contributions are most welcome.   




POSTSCRIPT:  Like this- Bruce Rux notes that the god-channeling Peaslee character in Lovecraft's 1936 story 'Shadow Out of Time' is remarkably like Alice Bailey, and his "Great Race" bear a striking resemblance to Bailey's "Great Ones", who also sought hosts for their consciousness.

Bailey, Initiation, Human and Solar: The fourfold lower man, was coordinated and stimulated, and became a fit receptacle for the coming in of the self- conscious entities, those spiritual triads.

 Lovecraft: Now and then certain captives were permitted to meet other captive minds seized from the future - to exchange thoughts with consciousnesses living a hundred or a thousand or a million years before or after their own ages. 

Note also the Bailey/Peaslee surnames, one meaning "berry wood", the other meaning "bent grass wood" (Peaslee is a variant of Beasley, tantalizingly close to "Bailey").

Lovecraft seems to tip his hand to Bailey when he writes in 'Shadow': "A few of the myths had significant connections with other cloudy legends of the prehuman world, especially those Hindu tales involving stupefying gulfs of time and forming part of the lore of modern theosophists." (italics mind)

This is a direct parallelism to Chapter IV of Initiation, Human and Solar, from which we see "Sanat Kumara" and his "Avatars" coming to Earth some 18 million years ago. At time Lovecraft wrote that story- almost 50 years after Blavatsky's death- Bailey was certainly a "modern Theosophist" of some reputation.

Again, 'Shadow Out of Time' provides us with more compelling evidence that Lovecraft was indeed studying Bailey's work. With this and the Dzyan reference in the previously cited letter it would seem he wasn't exactly hiding his sources from his friends (or readers, for that matter), he just wasn't naming them specifically. Which may be splitting hairs, but pulp writing was a tough racket.

Why do you think Hubbard decided to start a religion?

To reiterate, while I can't find any evidence that Lovecraft referred specifically to Bailey, there certainly is overwhelming evidence that he was reading her and putting references to her in his work, and in at least one letter he seems to have been referring to her Dzyan work, as opposed to Blavatsky's.

I don't have any evidence (at the moment -this is a work in blogress) of him referring to Blavatsky by name either- yet no Lovecraft scholars deny he was reading her. In fact, Blavatsky's name only appears on one page in Joshi's two-volume biography of Lovecraft and it's in reference to HPL referring to her by name.

Again, there are two possibilities. First, Lovecraft may have been guarding a source for material, something authors do every single day as part of their jobs. Given the weight of the evidence here, that would be my guess. Lovecraft could very likely have encountered the Bailey material from a street vendor since she was located in the city and was publishing there at the very same time Lovecraft was living and working in New York.

But there's also the possibility that he simply may not have always distinguished the Theosophists from each other, seeing them all as the same breed of fantasy-prone hysterics. Given what we know about HPL, that can't be ruled out either. Given that Bailey presented herself as the "back to Blavatsky" Theosophist while the organization itself was moving away from its founder to push their new messiah Krishnamurti, it's actually highly probable.

UPDATE: I've moved the replies to critiques of the essay here.


©2014 Christopher Loring Knowles. All Rights Reserved. 

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