Aleister Crowley in Golden Dawn clothing.
(As much of this section of the work concerns magick, I asked Oz Fritz if he would consider doing a guest post for me, and he kindly obliged.
Oz is a professional recording engineer who has worked with a variety of artists including The Ramones, Buckethead, Bill Laswell, Bernie Worrell, The Golden Palominos, Tom Waits, Primus and Iggy Pop. Although he is based in California, his excellent blog includes recent dispatches from Mali, Australia and Israel. His album, Oz Fritz: All Around the World received a positive review from Allmusic. com. He has studied magick for many years and once gave a copy of the American Book of the Dead to Sting. I am sure you will find his post as interesting as I did. -- The Mgt.)
(This week: Page 114 "After being lost for an hour in Hitler's old neighborhood" to Page 124 "but I've felt weird for the last week and a half.")
By Oz Fritz
This week’s reading begins on p. 114 right after the phrase “23 Skidoo…” Besides being old American patois, Skidoo recurs as the title of Chapter 23 in Crowley’s Book of Lies thus reading as 23 Skidoo. Crowley defines this phrase as “Get out” and turns it into an initiatory practice in that chapter. As this turned out to be one of the first things we studied in RAW’s online Crowley course, I suspect the pun intended especially since in the next sentence Clark Kent and His Supermen get out of Munich. Their band name appears an obvious glyph for transformation with the bonus of representing an instantly recognizable image from pop culture. That they were “lost for an hour in Hitler’s old neighborhood” mirrors the archetypal descent into the underworld or dip into the darkside that seems part of the course on the initiatory path.
Starting toward the end of p.114 we see Simon Moon inviting Joe Malik to a meeting which turns into a sex magick ritual. The ritual seems to be the authors’ own creation based on Crowley-style magic but viewed through the lens of someone programmed in the Judeo-Christian tradition. Malik calls it a “black Mass.” He interprets the “God is dead” chant as blasphemy. “God is dead” could refer to the famous quote by Friedrich Nietzsche which brings us back to Clark Kent and His Supermen, and transformation. The end of the paragraph in the book where Nietzsche first made that proclamation reads: “Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it?”
p.115: “They were in an elegant apartment…” important for the ritual because it shows what kind of space they were in – “elegant” ie high aesthetic. Next we see some obvious allusions to other preparations for the ritual, spelled out as it were, perhaps tempered at the end of the paragraph with Joe’s suspicion that it’s for a black Mass. “… the sounds of the automobile traffic …” introduces a sense of flow and movement into the environment. Also automobile = auto - mobile, ie get yourself going.
Readers can make of it what they will concerning the coincidence that these other preparations occur on p.115 which in the Gematria dictionary found in 777 = “Here am I,“ “The heat of the day,“ and “to make strong; vehement, eager.”
Next we see the classic Crowley greeting intended to begin all communications. The priest then gets introduced as “Padre Pederastia.” To me, this name sounds oddly prescient of the widespread pederasty scandals afflicting the Catholic Church in recent years. It could also have been inspired by the conspiracy rumor that the Roman Catholic Church power elite originated in the gay cabal power elite behind the Roman Empire. When they could no longer control their empire militarily, they learned to control the people ideologically through the Church.
p.116: Simon and his partner draw a pentagram. Some form of the banishing ritual of the pentagram usually begins a magick ritual as it works to focus and protect. The method the authors have of making the pentagram here is unique to my experience. They may have done it this way for the sentence: “A triangle was added to each side of the pentagon, forming a star – the special kind of star.” The triangle suggests Binah, the title of this chapter. The pentagon may represent the highly combustible energy of Geburah, the Sephiroth right below Binah on the Tree of Life. The path that connects Geburah with Binah = Cheth = The Chariot from the tarot. Crowley called The Chariot the formula of this modern age of Horus, a formula you can read about in his Book of Thoth. This formula also underlies this ritual up to the point where the demon Billy Graham makes an appearance.
The poem from the Wolfman movies Joe remembers on p. 116 looks quite accurate for ritual magick. You can be as pure and pious as anything and still get overwhelmed by primal energies when launching into those kinds of spaces. Strategies and techniques exist to not succumb, one of the most basic being the pentagram just given which effectively acts as a shield .
p.116: “Joe felt a strange, ashy, acrid taste…” Joe feels a space change, not uncommon symptoms. He’s no longer in Kansas.
“Ol sonuf vaoresaji” - the first phrase from the Enochian First Call that translates as “ I reign over ye.”
The Guardian they have to pass might signify psychic barriers that inevitably occur with these kinds of experiments. Notice how they get energy when stepping into the pentagram.
p.117: the woman with red hair and green eyes recalls Marjorie Cameron who had the same. She was the woman who entered Jack Parson’s life during his Babalon working eventually becoming his wife.
Jack Parsons and his wife, Marjorie Cameron
p.118: “the Malleus malificarum” isn’t a grimoire, it’s a medieval treatise put out by the Catholic Church on the persecution of witches, what they do, and how to discover them; seems to have nothing about sex rituals in it. I suspect Shea and Wilson included it to represent resistance to the operation because in the next sentence Joe sees the protective pentagram. Malleus malificarum translates as “Hammer of the Witches.” Hammer = 291; 290 (which can get read as 291) = Thine enemy.
p.119: “She was Ishtar, Aphrodite, Venus…” - seems a common practice in tantra, to identify with a godform , in this case those associated with Binah. This also seems closely related to verse 61 in the first chapter of The Book of the Law.
The priest then invokes Lucifer ending with fiat lux – let there be light, also the 3rd verse from Genesis - possibly another Binah allusion? Powerful energy enters the space then becomes contained by different formulae. We see an allusion to the Rosy Cross, and also “by Mary’s Son” which sounds a bit odd except that emphasizing Mary more than her son harkens back to Binah once again.
“- but the distraction of his attention had its cost.” – another key for handling situations such as these. If you’re a football or basketball player you have to work out regularly to keep your body in shape. Likewise, if you’re a Shaman, you keep the attention buffed up for when having to play to the max in the big leagues.
The whole Lucifer manifestation sounds a bit gothic and medieval which perhaps the writers acknowledge with the paragraph on p.120 that starts “It was just a room again…” It’s quite funny that this implied evil turns out to be Billy Graham, the ubiquitous face of evangelical Christianity when I was growing up. Sounds pretty right to me!
The scene changes right after Billy Graham arrives . Later we see some interesting notes about Lucifer and lux. The note that really grabbed me (p. 123): D.E.A.T.H. – Don’t Ever Antagonize the Horn . Does Pynchon know? The Horn could = the Hierophant , maybe. In previous times Crowley or Gurdjieff. It seems like good advice. In my opinion, after reading Against the Day (which came out after Illuminatus!), Pynchon definitely knows. I would even go so far as to surmise that Pynchon put one or two things in Against the Day to directly answer the question ( I suspect) RAW put to him in Illuminatus!
(Next week: Page 124 "Simon parked the car and held the door open" to Page 134 "his old impudent grin flashed wickedly.)