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The Curious Case Of Erotocomatose Lucidity


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So we all know the Uleria spell reflects a divinatory technique promoted under that name by Aleister Crowley. Greg was in touch with a lot of deep cats, read widely and Chaosium publications have always been packed with in-jokes, so the nod and the wink make sense, right?

But there's a problem. Unlike the public "Energised Enthusiasm" available to all, Crowley never published the technique or any description of it in his lifetime. It's still officially a secret teaching. The details only appear in manuscript instructions for very high level initiates (maybe 20 people worldwide in 1985 if you squint), and sub rosa in Kenneth Grant's Aleister Crowley and the Hidden God as well as a few bootleg publications. It's not the kind of thing you just have on the shelf and decide to incorporate into your game world. And while Greg was hip, the treatment of Lovecraft in Call of Cthulhu would probably have bent in a very different direction if he was conversant with Grant. 

Of course the technique circulated by word of mouth in the Bay Area as hardcore seekers made pilgrimages to Grant and brought back a book or two. The original bootlegs stem from this source and once it was in print it kept circulating around the fringes to this day. Was this Greg's milieu circa 1984-5? While some overlap is always possible (the original manuscript of the Book of the Law, for example, wending its way to the Change of Hobbit bookstore), you had to be pretty far inside to get this kind of word of mouth and I've yet to hear anyone from that crowd mention Greg hanging around.

Nonetheless, the existence of the spell requires transmission from somewhere, right? Today I think I solved the case:

mmm.png.44926722ff9fa78043fee275dd321bab.png

Man, Myth & Magic, ladies and gentlemen. Ubiquitous desk reference into the 1980s and readily available to someone hunting spells for the courtesan of heaven. A little less heavy than the alternative hypothesis, but it fits the biographical data a lot better.

Where did MMM get their information? Tantric scholar Benjamin Walker, who read Grant and bears further scrutiny.

Edited by scott-martin
clarifying around ABA book list
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6 hours ago, scott-martin said:

So we all know the Uleria spell reflects a divinatory technique promoted under that name by Aleister Crowley. Greg was in touch with a lot of deep cats, read widely and Chaosium publications have always been packed with in-jokes, so the nod and the wink make sense, right?

But there's a problem. Unlike the public "Energised Enthusiasm" available to all, Crowley never published the technique or any description of it in his lifetime. It's still officially a secret teaching. The details only appear in manuscript instructions for very high level initiates (maybe 20 people worldwide in 1985 if you squint), and sub rosa in Kenneth Grant's Aleister Crowley and the Hidden God as well as a few bootleg publications. It's not the kind of thing you just have on the shelf and decide to incorporate into your game world. And while Greg was hip, the treatment of Lovecraft in Call of Cthulhu would probably have bent in a very different direction if he was conversant with Grant. 

Of course the technique circulated by word of mouth in the Bay Area as hardcore seekers made pilgrimages to Grant and brought back a book or two. The original bootlegs stem from this source and once it was in print it kept circulating around the fringes to this day. Was this Greg's milieu circa 1984-5? While some overlap is always possible (the original manuscript of the Book of the Law, for example, wending its way to the Change of Hobbit bookstore), you had to be pretty far inside to get this kind of word of mouth and I've yet to hear anyone from that crowd mention Greg hanging around.

Nonetheless, the existence of the spell requires transmission from somewhere, right? Today I think I solved the case:

mmm.png.44926722ff9fa78043fee275dd321bab.png

Man, Myth & Magic, ladies and gentlemen. Ubiquitous desk reference into the 1980s and readily available to someone hunting spells for the courtesan of heaven. A little less heavy than the alternative hypothesis, but it fits the biographical data a lot better.

Where did MMM get their information? Tantric scholar Benjamin Walker, who read Grant and bears further scrutiny.

That’s Cavendish right?

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Thanks all. Yeah, very pleased to see this page hiding in plain sight after months of asking people where they encountered the technique back in the day and getting a lot of puzzled shrugs. Those who came up after the Eighties can forget how scarce and mysterious some of these texts were back then, which is why this makes a great sort of trial run on something larger.

All who coveted MMM as children can of course now get sets at reasonable prices while they last, or simply avail themselves of the electronic versions.

Cavendish and fellow popularizers are due their share of data mining.

As for the notion of a typhonian Call of Cthulhu, I guess we just have to keep watching the skies!

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Greg most certainly would have known members of the OTO and other Crowley adherents in the Bay Area socially, there was a notable cross over with science fiction fandom, SCA, etc at the time. In particular the notorious Walter Breen, known pedophile at the time, and his wife Marion Zimmer Bradley (only a notorious abuser much later), were not only people who Greg (and other people associated with early RuneQuest and Glorantha) would have known of socially, particularly via the SCA (and some group houses that were social centers and the site of many parties), but were interested in Crowley - Breen was also infamous as a known book thief of Crowley rarities to local booksellers - and allegedly the original inspiration for the corrupt followers of Nysalor. 

i don’t think you needed to know anything about Grant to get access to that material. It was considered degree restricted at the time I think?, but Practicus grade of the A.’.A.’., which isn’t that high a degree - I think there would have been several around Berkeley at that level? Thelema Lodge in Berkeley was very active. And besides Berkeley, no need to visit Grant in England - besides Phyllis Seckler/Soror Meral’s group in Los Angeles, the Head of the OTO at the time was Grady McMurtry, who was living in Berkeley.
And those restrictions were not always strictly adhered to - a few things made into antiquarian bookstores, private collections, etc. for various reasons, including deceased estates, and burglary. 

None of which is to say that the Cavendish theory isn’t highly plausible. But Greg plausibly had access to people knowledgeable about Crowleys work, including less public parts, as well.

And definitely without any need to invoke Grant, considered a somewhat ‘out there’ and confused pretender and occult eccentric by the more orthodox, and far more numerous, ‘caliphate’ OTO that was centred in Northern California, just down the road from Chaosium, at the time. 

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4 hours ago, davecake said:

Greg most certainly would have known members of the OTO and other Crowley adherents in the Bay Area socially,

Care to name a few? I'm honestly curious because while the proto-SCA (for example) had a little overlap with Rusty Sporer's Knights of Baphomet, that was a Canadian thing. Grady's crew was remarkably insular in his final days, largely due to the Motta Affair and Bill's benign gatekeeping.

4 hours ago, davecake said:

considered a somewhat ‘out there’ and confused pretender and occult eccentric by the more orthodox, and far more numerous, ‘caliphate’ OTO that was centred in Northern California, just down the road from Chaosium, at the time.

This is not the scene my informants report. People like Llee Heflin who wanted access to De Arte went to London and came back with the goods they weren't getting at home. Eventually the PR changes but if someone else was blabbing IX material, I need to know who! If a rogue Solar Lodge manuscript got out, how did it travel?

We can do this! I did not know about the Crowley vibe at Greyhaven!

Edited by scott-martin
eagerness
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16 hours ago, scott-martin said:

All who coveted MMM as children can of course now get sets at reasonable prices while they last, or simply avail themselves of the electronic versions.

In my home town, the personal collection of one "Manly P. Hall" was parted out to several small bookshops, some more esoteric than others.  Crazy magical stuff that just looked goofy and ridiculously earnest to a budding teen skeptic with little pocket change, but that I realise now was kind of amazing.  I did, however, stumble into the 24-volume collected set of MMM a few years later during the second round resales of Mr. Hall's literary estate.

!i!

[Edit: Never thought of looking up Manly P. Hall on the Internet before tonight.  Turns out he died in 1990, nowhere near my home town.  How his "Ex Libris" turned up in Bellingham in the '80s, I don't know.  Also, upon closer inspection, my set of MMM appears to have not been part of his library.]

Edited by Ian Absentia
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Dragging this thread further off-topic, I've been leafing through several volumes of my set and I'm surprised to be reminded of the page count devoted to the dissection of Nazism and its connection to para-science and the occult.  I'm also reminded that when these articles were written in the '60s and '70s, the political and psychic impact of WWII was still fresh in people's minds, as was the shock that a modern world power would so overtly employ occult symbolism and paraphernalia, as well as more covert practice, in a bid for domination.  There's a tone of reckoning regarding Light<-->Grey<-->Dark magic, where does modern magic fall on this spectrum?  It's definitely a snapshot of the era.

!i!

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On 1/19/2021 at 2:32 PM, scott-martin said:

Care to name a few?

I mentioned Breen, and I've been told the story of him and Bradley being the inspiration for Nysalor a few times. I think Isaac Bonewits was briefly involved with the OTO around that time, who Greg of course knew (as his publisher) - and Bonewits in turn had published eg Bill Heidrick. I also know that there was a significant overlap between the occultist community and science fiction fandom (and the nascent gaming community), Berkeley wasn't that big a place. Enough, for example, that when fan and bookseller Tom Whitmore found the original handwritten Book of the Law randomly in the basement of his new house in 1984, he knew exactly what he had found, and knew more than one OTO member personaly  (including Grady). And there were plenty of people with Crowley interests around outside of the OTO in the Bay Area as well. 

I would like to know more about the scene around that time. 

From here I think we seriously get into the Thellemic weeds, of little interest to anyone else. 

On 1/19/2021 at 2:32 PM, scott-martin said:

People like Llee Heflin who wanted access to De Arte went to London and came back with the goods they weren't getting at home.

 

That probably has more to do with Heflin falling out with the Caliphate OTO? 

On 1/19/2021 at 2:32 PM, scott-martin said:

Eventually the PR changes but if someone else was blabbing IX material, I need to know who! If a rogue Solar Lodge manuscript got out, how did it travel?

I think part of the confusion is that the Eroto-comatose Lucidity material was also available separately to the Arte Magica, that one chapter available as Liber CDLI of Liber Samoam, and I think was part of the syllabus of the A.'.A.'. at a much lower grade? And I think that was more widely available - was much of the A.'.A.'. material grade restricted?

Not that the IX material was allegedly as secret as it should have been - I've heard stories of the 'IX Emblems and Modes of Use' document, that essentially was the IXth degree material, was available as photocopies around that era.

But in any case, De Arte Magica including the Eroto-comatose Lucidiuty chapter had been published by Francis King in the book Crowley on Christ in 73? 

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*Sigh*, what so few people realize is that Baphomet is actually the Templar depiction of Islam's prophet Mohammed before which their initiates were forced to prostrate themselves in order to teach them the price of failure in the Holy Land.  In fact, given that we live in an age of Anti-Mohammed cartoons, technically that was likely the first, and is certainly the oldest depiction of Mohammed for anti-Islamic purposes in the West.  What is funnier is that Satanists are worshiping at a cartoon depiction of Mohammed.  Sometimes the History of Symbols is quite comedic. 

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51 minutes ago, Starcarr said:

Uh oh, the guy presently responsible for all Gloranthan magic is sending out curses! Hide under your hats guys!

David is good at deflecting my curses. I think it bounced off him and hit UK Customs, which is why our pallet of Malleus was turned around. Let that be a reminder kids, don't thoughtlessly curse!

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20 hours ago, Darius West said:

*Sigh*, what so few people realize is that Baphomet is actually the Templar depiction of Islam's prophet Mohammed before which their initiates were forced to prostrate themselves in order to teach them the price of failure in the Holy Land. 

Give the occult community some ability to understand what they are doing when they reinterpret and adopt earlier imagery. The Baphomet of Éliphas Lévi is not that of Phillip IV, or of the first crusade. There is a significant element of conscious syncretism and deliberate reinterpretation and reclamation of symbology. And if you don't recognise that is going on, that's your problem, not the Satanists and other occultists, who are often very self aware of this sort of thing (and I can assure you, also find a lot of it very funny, though probably for different reasons). 

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On 1/24/2021 at 1:50 AM, davecake said:

Give the occult community some ability to understand what they are doing when they reinterpret and adopt earlier imagery. The Baphomet of Éliphas Lévi is not that of Phillip IV, or of the first crusade. There is a significant element of conscious syncretism and deliberate reinterpretation and reclamation of symbology. And if you don't recognise that is going on, that's your problem, not the Satanists and other occultists, who are often very self aware of this sort of thing (and I can assure you, also find a lot of it very funny, though probably for different reasons). 

I have always found the occult community to want to seem edgy but are actually deeply conservative and hold great reverence for old things, quite disproportionate to their worth.  Éliphas Lévi perhaps was not privy to the documentary findings of the Papal court that outlawed the Templars, but the anti-Muslim symbology is all nested in the image to be drawn out by a worthy scholar.   Baphomet even sounds like Mohammed.  As to "reclaiming" symbology, don't you mean appropriating?  I mean, this symbol starts as a Templar image, not associated with any actual religion other than Christian propaganda, and exists solely to literally demonize another monotheist sect.  Who is "reclaiming" that?  The only people who can are the Muslims, and somehow I don't think they are inclined to.

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1 hour ago, Darius West said:

I have always found the occult community to want to seem edgy but are actually deeply conservative and hold great reverence for old things, quite disproportionate to their worth.  

You perhaps, then, simply don’t know the occult community as well as you believe. 
like many sub-cultures, the most visible and stereotypical members you’ll find on the internet won’t teach you much about the core. 
But to be honest, I don’t really have much interest in you telling me smugly why you think are cleverer than other people, and think it of limited interest or relevance. 

Edited by davecake
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