The Mystery of the Haunted Vampire

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Wednesday, April 05, 2006


Paging Dr. Armitage. Dr. Armitage to the courtesy phone please. Since one of my desires is to emphasis more sites featuring arcane lore, let us begin with the Necronomicon. Forget all you've heard about the Necronomicon being made up by H.P. Lovecraft. A school of thought exists that Lovecraft was referring to an actual book.

The answer to this interesting question lies in two people: the poet and magician Aleister Crowley, and a Brooklyn milliner called Sonia Greene. There is no question that Crowley read Dee's translation of the Necronomicon in the Bodleian, probably while researching Dee's papers; too many passages in Crowley's "Book of the Law" read like a transcription of passages in that translation. Either that, or Crowley, who claimed to remember his life as Edward Kelly in a previous incarnation, remembered it from his previous life! Why doesn't Crowley mention the Necronomicon in his works? He was surprisingly reticent about his real sources. There is a strong suspicion that '777', which Crowley claimed to have written, was largely plagiarised from Allan Bennet's notes. His spiritual debt to Nietzsche, which in an unguarded moment Crowley refers to as "almost an avatar of Thoth, the god of wisdom" is studiously ignored; likewise the influence of Richard Burton's "Kasidah" on his doctrine of True Will. I suspect that the Necronomicon became an embarrassment to Crowley when he realised the extent to which he had unconsciously incorporated passages from the Necronomicon into "The Book of the Law". In 1918 Crowley was in New York. As always, he was trying to establish his literary reputation, and was contributing to The International and Vanity Fair. Sonia Greene was an energetic and ambitious Jewish emigre with literary ambitions, and she had joined a dinner and lecture club called "Walker's Sunrise Club" (?!); it was there that she first encountered Crowley, who had been invited to give a talk on modern poetry. snip In 1921 Sonia Greene met the novelist H.P. Lovecraft, and in that same year Lovecraft published the first novel where he mentions Abdul Alhazred ("The Nameless City"). In 1922 he first mention the Necronomicon ("The Hound"). On March 3rd. 1924, H.P. Lovecraft and Sonia Greene married. We do not know what Crowley told Sonia Greene, and we do not know what Sonia told Lovecraft. However, consider the following quotation from "The Call of Cthulhu" [1926]:
"That cult would never die until the stars came right again [precession of the Equinoxes?], and the secret priests would take Cthulhu from His tomb to revive His subjects and resume His rule of earth. The time would be easy to know, for then mankind would have become as the Great Old Ones; free and wild, and beyond good and evil, with laws and morals thrown aside and all men shouting and killing and revelling in joy. Then the liberated Old Ones would teach them new ways to shout and kill and revel and enjoy themselves, and all earth would flame with a holocaust of ecstacy and freedom."
It may be brief, it may be mangled, but it has the undeniable ring of Crowley's "Book of the Law". It is easy to imagine a situation where Sonia and Lovecraft are laughing and talking in a firelit room about a new story, and Sonia introduces some ideas based on what Crowley had told her; she wouldn't even have to mention Crowley, just enough of the ideas to spark Lovecraft's imagination. There is no evidence that Lovecraft ever saw the Necronomicon, or even knew that the book existed; his Necronomicon is remarkably close to the spirit of the original, but the details are pure invention, as one would expect. There is no Yog-Sothoth or Azathoth or Nyarlathotep in the original, but there is an Aiwaz...
But is the connection between Lovecraft's wife and Crowley true or a clever spoof? And isn't the best way to hide the truth is to pass it off as fiction?


Blogger protected static said...

There's a funny subthread running through the current open thread at Making Light about Crowley and the OTO and their reach. Evidently he was a sort of dark Kevin Bacon...

Oh yeah - and he might be Barbara Bush's father.

Or not. Your mileage may vary. ;-)

Word verification: Vzygyct. An obscure royal title from one of the 15th century Magyar principalities in Hungary. The title is as meaningless as it is difficult to pronounce.

4/06/2006 12:19:00 AM  

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