Sunday, July 31, 2016

Lovecraftian Thing a Day No.213: The Haunter of the Dark

I picked up this first edition of John Coulthart's adaptation of The Haunter of the Dark many years ago, so I suppose it must be something of a rarity these days; it was later republished in a collected edition of Coulthart's Lovecraft adaptations (including The Call of Cthulhu and a somewhat truncated version of The Dunwich Horror). Not only is the collected edition introduced by Alan Moore, but it also contains Coulthart's illustrations for a set of Lovecraftian Tarot cards which he and Moore were apparently working on (but have yet to see the light of day as far as I'm aware). Personally, I'm not sure that I really go for Coulthart's style; even so, the intricate weirdness of his work does an excellent job of representing the indescribable.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Lovecraftian Thing a Day No.212: The Case of Charles Dexter Ward

The Case of Charles Dexter Ward has always been a favourite Lovecraft tale of mine, so I was pleased when I.N.J. Culbard went on to give it the graphic novel treatment (Culbard has since gone on to adapt The Shadow Out of Time, At the Mountains of Madness, The Dream-Quest for Unknown Kadath, as well as Chambers' King in Yellow tales in graphic novel format). I was fortunate to win this copy at a Lovecraft event organised by Chris Lackey at the Bishopsgate Institute in London back in 2012, where I came first in the Lovecraft quiz (answering every single question correctly, I'll have you know!). Culbard was in attendance, so I was also able to get my prize signed by him. Nice.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Lovecraftian Thing a Day No.211: Lovecraft

Published by Vertigo in 2004, Lovecraft by Hans Rodionoff, Enrique Breccia and Keith Giffen prefigures the conceit of Alan Moore's more recent Providence in presenting a biography of Lovecraft in graphic novel form - but one which assumes that the horrors of the Cthulhu Mythos are real. Unfortunately my copy is currently in storage, but I seem to recall that Lovecraft was far too reliant on the pop-Freudianism of the L. Sprague de Camp biography - although it is nicely illustrated. I haven't been massively impressed by Alan Moore's attempt either, so I guess we will just have to wait for he definitive graphic novel biography of Lovecraft...

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Lovecraftian Thing a Day No.210: Zenith

Grant Morrison's Zenith is not only one of my favourite Lovecaftian comic-strips, but one of my favourite comic series of all time. First appearing in 2000AD in 1987, Zenith commences with a remarkable scene depicting Nazi superhero Masterman about to defeat his British counterpart in the ruins of 1945 Berlin - moments before the Americans drop the first atomic bomb on the city. This sets the scene for a decades-long Nazi conspiracy - about to reach fruition in late 1980s London - involving an occult programme underpinning Nazi racial policy to create superhuman meatsuits for the Lloigor or 'Many-Angled Ones' of Lovecraft's tales (I've always felt it was something of a shame that Morrison didn't push the race issue here, given the source material...)

In any case, the focal point of all this is the eponymous Zenith: a young and hip 80s popstar with inherited superpowers who is far more interested in being photographed by the paparazzi at high profile media events than saving the world. As such, the series is as much a commentary on the superficiality of celebrity culture and the MTV generation, as well as on the social and economic erosion instigated by the neoliberal policies of the Reagan-Thatcher era (one of the key characters is a retired superhero who has become a high-ranking minister in the Conservative Party), as it is about superheroes battling interdimensional horrors. In this regard Zenith Hasn't aged that well: the kind of neo-con/neoliberal ideology presented in its pages seems rather quaint and nostalgic in comparison to the truely monstrously Lovecaftian standards of today's neoliberal right-wingers...but I digress. It is, indeed, very much a product of its time: as with Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns (both of which also appeared in '86/'87), Zenith subverts typical superhero tropes to re-examine the moral relationship between power and responsibility - but on this occasion via a morally-disorienting encounter with Lovecraftian nihilsm. To my mind this is where Zenith as a series really shines, veering as it does into some very dark and horrifying territory as the truely cosmic scope of the Lloigor's plans are revealed, and (in its later phases) protaganists are forced into monstrous undertakings to defeat them - including (SPOILER ALERT) the destruction of entire universes. Quite literally, the moral distiction between gods and monsters - between superheroes and the quasi-divine cosmic awfulness of the Many-Angled Ones - is called into question. Great stuff.

Zenith is now available in multi-volume graphic novel form both in hardcopy and in ebook format from the usual suspects (Amazon, iTunes, etc.).

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Lovecaftian Thing a Day No.209: The Doom that Came to Gotham

It was inevitable, I suppose, that we were going to get a Batman-Cthulhu mash-up - given that Julius Schwartz (who acted as agent fof the sale of Lovecraft's At the Mountains of Madness to Astounding Stories) later edited the Batman line for DC during the period that Arkham Asylum became part of its mythology (although apparently it was Jack C. Harris and not Schwartz who added that particular institution to the DC universe). Mike Mignola's previous form with the Lovecraft-inflected Hellboy series, he seems a good fit as writer for The Doom that Came came to Gotham: the caped crusader's first official outing against the forces of the Cthulhu Mythos. This is, however, set in an alternative DC universe, and thus is pretty much at right angles to what I presume is the 'canonical' Batman timeline (and in doing so attunes elements of the original character's mythology with the Cthulhu Mythos). Whilst this didn't quite hit the right note of cosmicism for me, The Doom that Came to Gotham marks an interesting attempt to push Batman toward what might be seen as the kind of darker territory for which Bruce Wayne and his alter-ego are well suited.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Lovcraftian Thing a Day No.208: Gateways to Abomination

With the overwhelming weight of material currently being produced by presses both small and large, it feels like we are close to reaching critical mass where Lovecraftian fiction is concerned. Just to keep up with the mass of recent Cthulhuvian novels and anthologies, I made the decision to go digital. However, every now and then I encounter a unique voice in the field of weird and Lovecraftian literatur which voraciously reawakens my collecting habit. Matthew Bartlett is one such voice, whose work I have felt compelled to collect and buy in hardcopy editions. Hence today I present a weird menagerie of Bartlett's work: his initial, self-publushed endeavour Gateways to Abomination, along with the chapbook The Witch-Cult in Western Massachusetts, and his most recent offering, Creeping Waves - which collectively explore via a coterie of tales and vignettes the very weird locales and characters inhabiting witch-haunted Leeds, Massachussetts (not to mention the bizarre transmissions broadcast into the minds and lives of Leeds' residents by the local WXXT radio station). Whilst Bartlett's work is difficult to categorise, if you think Lovecraft channelling William Burroughs meets Rob Zombie's The Lords of Salem, you'll have some idea of the kinds of strange and horrible directions which Bartlett's work takes. Nice.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Lovecraftian Thing a Day No.207: Hypnogoria Podcast


Others before me have noted that there is something quite personal and intimate about podcasts. I also consider the podcast to be a very social medium; I live on my own, and listening to podcasts is one of my favourite pastimes - insofar as many podcasters are very active on social media and have built up significant online communities around their shows, I have certainly had the opportunity to interact online with some of my favourite podcasters, and in some instances have been able to meet and socialize with them (and the commnities that exist around them) face-to-face. I've twice met Mr. Jim Moon - who produces the Hypnogoria stable of podcasts, the focus of today's post - in person (both times as part of the notorious Black Dog Podcast social gathering - for which read 'massive piss-up' - which occurs every September in London).

I discovered both the Hypnogoria and Black Dog podcasts (which Mr. Jim also co-hosts) around 4 years ago. They represented a break from tradition in terms of what was my staple diet of podcasts back then (namely those which were gaming-oriented): at the time I was on a huge nostalgia trip - in part because of many radically life-changing events that were hugely and depressingly disrupting my life, leading me to naively seek solace in what seemed to be the more simpler, more innocent time of 60s and 70s cult tv. This led me to what was then the Hypnobobs podcast, which in turn led me to the Black Dog podcast (which isn't so much about cult tv, but is rather a weekly retrospective film review programme, often (though not exclusively) with a sci-fi focus). Without going into too much personal detail, binge listening to these podcasts got me through a very, very dark week in my life (indeed, the very title of the Black Dog podcast - as well as the reasons for its inception - were relevant to this). In any case, going back to the intimacy and the sociality of the podcasting medium, at that particular time shows like Hypnobobs and the Black Dog gave me (and still do) the sense of participating in a shared discussion and exploration of some of the geeky things that were and still are important to me.

Sob story aside, the later re-named Hypnogoria pidcast, recorded from the Great Library of Dreams, is without doubt one of the best podcasts out there if you have an interest in the weird and the wonderful in both literary and televisual endeavours. Whilst not Lovecaft-focused, the connosieur of weird literature will find much of interest in the hundreds of hours of podcasting goodness available from (or iTunes). Nonetheless, Lovecraft is well represented (a recent episode is dedicated to Lovecaft's Fungi from Yuggoth sonnet cycle), as are many other doyens of the weird, inclding: Machen, Poe, Ligotti and William Hope Hodgson (Mr. Jim Moon has, in fact, recently comletedvaudio readings of all the Carnacki tales) to name but a few. Hpnogoria also includes a number of ongoing series on folklore, Batman, Zombi movies, Egyptian mummies, as well as retrospectives on key weird writers, filmmakers and screen stars associated with genre film and tv. A particular favourite two-parter of mine looks at the occult roots of rock music; in another memorable three-episode mini-series, Mr. Jim even manages to turn his holiday to Florida into a wonderfully evocative and spooky sequel to Lovecraft's The Statement of Randolph Carter!  In any case, I absolutely cannot recommend the work of Mr. Jim Moon enough: make yourself a cup of cocoa, put your feet up, and prepare to be immersed into the strange and fantastic world that is the Great Library of Dreams...

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Lovecraftian Thing a Day No. 206: Lovecraft eZine Vidcast/Podcast

Not only does Mike Davis produce the excellent quarterly Lovecaft eZine, he also hosts regular panel discussion vidcasts via YouTube which are now available as audio podcasts via iTunes. If there is one place to get the sknny on whats hot and upcoming in the Lovecraftian milieu, watching/listening to the Lovecaft eZine 'cast is an absolute must - especially as the show regularly includes interviews with the big names as well as up-and-comers within the world of Lovecaftiana. Not only that, but panel discussants regularly include key players in the current Lovecraftian and weird lterary scene, including author, editor and Chambers scholar Joe Pulver, author and Lovecraftian chronologist Peter Rawlik, pulp-scholar and author Rick Lai, UK-based weird publisher Salome Jones, and editor (as well as resident oncologist) Matthew Carpenter. At the time of typing, I also discovered that Matthew Bartlett is being interviewed for the show in September - which I'm very, very excited about. In any event, the vidcast is scheduled to stream this very evening (24th July) at 6pm Eastern time (that's about 10pm in proper British time!).

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Lovecraftian Thing a Day 205: Virgil Finlay's Far Beyond

In a change from our scheduled transmission, today we celebrate the birthday of Virgil Finlay, illustrator of classic weird and sci-fi fiction, and the artist who brought us the image of Lovecraft as a periwigged 18th Century gentleman - possibly one of the most popular and best known artistic portrayals of HPL. Finlay of course also provided the cover for the First Arkham House edition of The Outsider and Others, as well as illustrating various of Lovecraft's tales. Far Beyond is the only dedicated collection of Finlay's work that I currently possess, and focuses primarily on the post-Weird Tales era; whilst it includes Finlay's illustrations of tales by Robert E. Howard and Frank Belknap Long, Lovecraft's work, unfortunately, is not represented here. Even so, it is a fine volume that celebrates the life and work of even finer artist.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Lovecraftian Thing a Day No. 204: H.P Lovecraft Literary Podcast

No discussion of Lovecraftian podcasting would be complete without a mention of Chris Lackey and Chad Fifer's The H.P. Lovecraft Literary Podcast, which has not only trawled its way through a discussion of pretty much all of Lovecraft's published fiction, but is currently working its way through the contents of 'Supernatural Horror in Literature' (as well as taking a closer look at the weird fiction of Lovecraft's contemporaries). I also managed to get in on the action via the Kickstarter campaign which the  HPLLP ran for their NecronomiCon 2015 live show, and subsequently appeared as a discussant on one of their vidcasts about post-Lovecraftian fiction. In any case, if there is one podcast that I would recommend to the prospective Lovecraftian podcast listener as a starting point, it is definitely this. And did I mention that I appeared on one of their vidcasts?

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Lovecraftian Thing a Day No.203: I Love Yog Radio!

My first encounter with the world of podcasts pretty much began in 2005 when I discovered the format via, which remains the premier site dedicated to Lovecraftian roleplaying Both in the UK and globally. At that time, Paul Maclean (the founder of and his compatriot Yoggies (sometimes known as the 'Innsmouth House Players') produced actual-play recordings of the classic Chaosium Masks of Nyarlathotep campaign for the Call of Cthulhu rpg, as well as a (roughly monthly) discussion-based podcast called Yog Radio which dealt the Call of Cthulhu rpg, Lovecraftian gaming, and the Lovecraftian milieu more generally. Ths was at at time when the now-burgeoning Lovecaftian renaissance was pretty much in its inception, and when the likes of Chaosium and were the principle bearers of the flame of Lovecraftian fandom. As I've noted before (see my earlier posts re: Chaosium's Cthulhu Mythos fiction line, and Carl Ford's Dagon zine amongst others), it was the gaming scene that played a significant role in revitalizing an interest in Lovecraft from the 1990s onwards. In any case, during the early 2000s there was no where near as much Lovecraftian media product available as there is today, and for me provided the mainstay of aural Lovecraftian entertainment at the time.

Today continues podcasting, producing the monthly Cthulhu Breakfast Club, as well as actual play recordings of various CoC campaigns; primarily these are for patrons of the site (and I would heartily recommend that readers support the work that the Yoggies do by become patrons - which you can do here); nonetheless, the Yoggies regularly release free samples of other recordings (many of which can be found on itunes), and they have made the entirety of their classic Horror on the Orient Express campaign recordings (70+ hours of listening) - as well as lots of other stuff - freely available on the YSDC Soundcloud page. Even if you are not a fan of roleplaying games, I would still recomend thar interested readers revisit some of the early days of Lovecraftian podcasting. Go on - you know you want to...

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Lovecaftian Thing a Day No.202: Tanis Podcast.

Offshoot from and sister podcast to yesterday's offering, Tanis follows the attempt of one of The Black Tapes producers to unravel the mystery of the short story 'Where is Tanis?', supposedly written by Jack Parsons for a pulp science-fiction magazine n the early 1950s. What unravels is a wider conspiracy involving the myth of Tanis, and exactly what it is: a place, a thing, an entity, a state of mind?

New clues, events and characters appear regularly throughout the series' narrative arc (often to be dopped suddenly, then unexpectedly resurrected in a later episode), all indicating how deeply interwoven the myth of Tanis is throughout the interstices of the everyday of the podcast's imagined world; however, over two seasons none of these have ultimately offer a clear or satisfactory indication of exactly what Tanis is: a cabin in the woods with uncertain physical dimensions, which mysteriously disappears and maybe the location of a 'breach' marking the intrusion of something alien (Tanis?) into our world; strange cults worshipping Tanis without really knowing what it is; movies found on the deep web which depict horrifyingly unspeakable acts, and which are somehow associated with Tanis; something known as Eld Fen - possibly a monstrous, primordial being (and also the name of a text about said being) which, as is made explicit in the mythology of the Tanis podcast, was also the original inspiration behind Lovecaft's Cthulhu Mythos - and which may be Tanis in the process of waking up...None - or maybe all - of these things may be relevant to understanding the mystery of Tanis. But as a serial podcast, Tanis is ultimately about the journey and not the destination - its concern is not really with the resolution of a mystery, but rather an interrogation of the ways - whether they be religion, myth-making or conspiracy theories - by which we seek to make meaningful that which is truely unknowable. All of which hopefully indicates that Tanis has a very Lovecaftian (albeit not typically Cthulhuvian) vibe to it.

Listen and be mystified.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Lovecraftian Thing a Day No.201: The Black Tapes Podcast

I was an early adopter of the podcast format (more on this in a later post), and I think it is reasonable to say that listening to podcasts has now become my prefered form of mediatised entertainment/infotainment. My taste in podcasts, whilst varied, does veer in the direction of those addressing aspecs of contemporary geekdom, cult tv, and the occult/conspiracies/and the paranormal more generally. Unsurprisingly, podcasts tackling Lovecraft and the Lovecaftian milieu are at the top of my list of preferences. Taking a break from the material artefacts which predictably constitute the bread and butter of the Lovecraftian Thing a Day, for the next week or so, I want to point interested readers in the direction of some of my current favourites when it comes to Lovecraftian-themed or inflected podcasts.

First up is The Black Tapes Podcast, a serialized docudrama involving an investigation of the work of skeptical psychologist Richard Strand - the eponymous 'Black Tapes' being a collection of videos documenting Strand's research into paranormal phenomena. Whilst The Black Tapes deals with tropes fairly typical of 'mainstream' horror and supernatural fiction - demonic possession and Satanic cults loom large in this respect - the overarching narrative involves a strange and apocalyptic conspiracy concerning sacred geometry/mathematics, quantum physics, interdimensional portals for calling forth ancient demons, as well as a recurrent 'unsound' first heard by a team of researchers in the Antarctic - all of who died within a year of hearing it. Along with direct references to Lovecaft, Hastur gets namechecked a few times, and the most recent episode has intimations of something akin to Machen's 'Little People' mythology. Whilst, admittedly, elements of genuine cosmic horror are rare, there is definitely a Lovecraftian vibe here - one which is perhaps even more evident in The Black Tapes' sister podcast, to which I will return tomorrow.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Lovecraftian Thing a Day 200: Cthulhu Tupilak

Today represents another landmark for the Lovecraftian Thing a Day as we reach the 200th posting. With that in mind, I present the harbinger of monstrous Outsideness that is the Cthulhu tupilak. Supposedly carved from a Gnoph-Keh tusk by the inhabitants of the long-lost Lomar (some sources claim that it was a mighty sorcerer and prestidigiter known as Krs'Laahqi who was the creator of these artefacts), this is twin to the item found by fellow anthropologist Professor Webb during his expedition to the Arctic in 1870. As you can see from the above image, the power of this item is such that projects a sickly violet aura of some yet unidentified radiation, kept only in check by the powerful seals and wards which guard my sanctum sanctorum.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Lovecraftian Thing a Day No.199: Cthulhu Chaosphere

'You know what would be cool? If we superimposed an octopus on a chaosphere then hit it with some zenithal spray-gun highlighting! That would be some super-scary hardcore Lovecraftian occult shit in an Alan Moore kind of way!' Which pretty much sums up my feelings about this piece.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Lovecaftian Thing a Day No.198: Cthulhu Mug

More crushing disappointment fom this hand-painted piece of Cthulhuvian pottery. I don't quite know where I got this from and, frankly, I no longer even care given the depths of nihilistic despair that acknowledgement of ownership of this piece of Lovecraftian tat has produced in my febrile brain. All I can say is that I was young and it seemed like s good idea at the time. Needless to say, it has earned itself a place in a shadowy nook at the very back of the lowest shelf of the Lovecraftian cabinet of curiosities. With such a shining endorsement, here's hoping that this isn't the creation of one of my Facebook friends...

Friday, July 15, 2016

Lovecraftian Thing a Day No.197: Lovecraft Playing Cards

More useless Lovecaftian ephemera - because everyone needs a set of playing cards with Lovecraft depicted as a joker with a tentacled hat! Classy. I need one of those Henry Weston's cocktails from yesterday...

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Lovecaftian Thing a Day No.196: Miskatonic Cocktail Club Glass

The fact that this week's entries comprise of various odds and ends with little commentary is, in part, due to the fact that I'm suffering from a bit of blog fatigue - time for a drink, then! And what better to sup from than this Miskatonic Cocktail Club Highball glass? It even comes with its own squid-like cheap plastic cocktail ornament...

The cocktail presented above (which I am shortly about to partake in) is a Henry Weston's Vintage Cider (8.2% abv) - the West Country's finest. The cocktail part being the ice. Chin-chin!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Lovecraftian Thing a Day No.195: Miskatonic University Keyring

The Miskatonic University keyring - another of the odds and ends I have floating around in my collection of Lovecraftiana.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Lovecraftian Thing a Day No.194: Mi-Go Brain Cylinder Cloissonne Badge

Another piece of ephemera from the Cthulhuosphere: a cloisonne badge in the form of a Mi-Go brain cylinder - which just goes to show that even the minutiae of the Cthulhu Mythos has a place within the material culture that has emerged from the Lovecraftian milieu.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Lovecraftian Thing a Day No.193: Cthulhu Money Clip

In a forthcoming academic piece I argue that

     'Lovecraft's imaginary monsters instantiate deregulated neoliberalism as the “enweirded” and
     morphologically monstrous...“motor of transformation that drives modernity…understood to be
     inhuman…and indifferent to the human"...the salience of Lovecraft's tentacular monsters
     lies, then, in their provisioning pop-cultural imaginaries...responsive to neoliberalism’s  
     indifference, expressed in the form of its own “Great Old Ones”: the immense, inexplicable and
     impersonal forces of global institutions to which personal agency appears subordinate, and the
     uncaring, predatory transnational corporate interests which render the human insignificant.'

This being the case, what better way, then, to signal one's alignment to the Lovecraftian apocalypse of modernity that is deregulated neoliberal capitalism by purchasing this stylish Cthulhu money clip, allowing you additional peace of mind knowing that the seal of the Dead Dreamer of R'lyeh is protecting your wads of cash from the grasping, grubby hands of the great unwashed?

The superimposition of Cthulhu's visage over Her Majesty's face here is, of course, totally coincidental.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Lovecraftian Thing a Day No.192: When The Stars Are Right - Towards an Authentic R'lyehian Spirituality

Bringing Lovcaftian Occult Week to a close is Scott R. Jones' When The Stars Are Right: Towards an Authentic R'lyehian Spirituality. Less a 'how-to guide', WTSAR is presented as more an 'auto-ethnography' and a philosohical disquisition on what, experientially, constitutes a Lovecraftian spirituality for a transhumanist epoch - a fact that demarcates WTSAR as quite uniqe in terms of recent contributions to the field of Lovecaftian esotericism. Scott - who I had the pleasure of meeting at NecronomiCon 2015 (where we both contributed to a panel on Lovecraftian occulture) is also a small press publisher of and contributer to various Cthulhu Mythos anthologies (including Oscar Rios' forthcoming Heroes of Red Hook, which I have mentioned in previous posts). Scott's edited collection Cthulhusattva: Tales of the Black Gnosis, which develops on themes explored in When The Stars Are Right, is also currently available from his Martian Migraine Press, and contains some extremely innovative occulturally-inflected tales. Both books are available here, as well as through Amazon in the usual meatspace and digital versions.

Saturday, July 09, 2016

Lovecraftian Thing a Day No.191: Epoch: The Esotericon & Portals of Chaos

Epoch: The Esotericon & Portals of Chaos is Peter J. Carroll's latest addition to the Chaos magickal canon. I purchased this only recently, so haven't had the time to either read it fully or consolidate the contents; however, the book appears to seek to synthesise the history of Western magical traditions - and the various god forms that have been central to it - into a 'Fifth Aeon' form of Chaotist technowizadry. Of interest here is the inclusion of Carroll's own take on the 'stellar magicks' of the Necronomicon (along with a set of 'Portal' cards, which include images of various of Lovecraft's alien gods for visualization and, presumably, oracular purposes). In truth, I found Carroll's take on the Necronomicon to be rather staid and traditionalist, insofar as it - like many other so-called Necronomicons - remains tied to the formalised ritualism of late 19th Century Western esoteric praxis, and in doing so seemigly fails to engage with the alien and hyperdimensional magics evident in Lovecraft's work. Indeed, some of the Chaos magicians I was working with in the early 2000s were, back then, already doing stuff that was far more innovative, creative and radical than found here. The portal deck which comes with the book is nice, but the cgi illustrations do feel rather dated. That said, Carroll's Necronomicon does contain some interesting conjectures from an occult perspective regarding the nature of Lovecraft's Old Ones, as well esoteric speculations on the relationship of Lovecraft's creations to (post-) modern and existentialist notions of selfhood - although in this respect it seems more of a consolidation of his older ideas rather than a radical rethinking of the subject matter.

Friday, July 08, 2016

Lovecraftian Thing a Day No.190: The Eye of Azathoth Ouija Board

The Eye of Azathoth is a relatively rare example of the occult divinatory tool popularly known as a Ouija board or spirit board. A small number of the particular board shown here were produced some years ago by an agent or agents unknown - although I am aware that at least half of the individuals who have come into possession of examples of The Eye of Azathoth board are known to have taken their own lives subsequent to having made use of its oracular powers. The content and nature of the kind of message which might cause one to take such an extreme course of action can only be speculated at.

The board shown here was provided by Prof. Jason McKittrick of the Department of Arcaeology at Miskatonic University (with whom regular readers may be familiar) who, after acquiring the item, laid it out for inspection only to find that the planchette - sculpted in the form of a faceless daemonic entity referred to in various arcane texts as a 'nightgaunt' (and said to serve 'The Lord of the Abyss') - began moving of its own accord; fortunately he was able to remove the planchette before it was able to complete its communique. To this day, Prof McKittrick refuses to reveal the few words that were spelt out, although I have it on good authority that they contained the most shocking inferences regarding the nature of the cosmos, and humanity's position therein. The good professor subsequently forwarded the item to me. Concerned readers will note that, in the images above, The Eye of Azathoth board is warded by four powerfully apotropaic idols, which Prof McKittrick also kindly provided. It is not recommended - for the sake of their lives and sanity (and possibly for those of humanity as a whole) - that interested readers attempt in any way to recreate or replicate the board based on the images reproduced here.

Thursday, July 07, 2016

Lovecraftian Thing a Day No.189: Polaria: The Gift of the White Stone

W.H. Muller's Polaria: The Gift of the White Stone appears to be something of a rarity (if some of the silly prices on are to be believed), and in truth it has been a long while since I read it; regardless, Muller's central claim seems to be that Lovecaft's works alchemically encode the routemap to a sacred quest for self-perfection and mergence/unity with trascendental Oneness - a quest which, as Muller has it, is also tied to the supposed polar symbolism of various esoteric traditions. Muller's style and approach - notably his intuitive leaps when it comes to establishing symbolic and numerological concordance - is akin to that of Kenneth Grant (albeit drier and less weirder than Grant - much to its detriment). It is also difficult to square Muller's affirmative, spiritualised reading of Lovecraft with the nihilistic terror that suffuses the Cthulhu Mythos (Grant at least retains the scariness and moral ambivalence of Lovecraft's universe with regard to his more antinomian approach to a sacralised Mythos).

The polar aspects of Muller's exgesis are, for me, of broader interest - particularly as they pertain to the topic of lost continents/lost civilizations such as Hyperborea, Thule and Atlantis; unfortunately one does not have to dig too deeply into the esoteric literature surrounding these speculated realms - especially amongst mid-to-late 19th and early 20th century European esoteric writers - to find them tied to a kind of ethno-spiritual primordialism, and subsequently mobilsed in support of traditionalist/right-wing nationalistic projects (often explicitly anti-Semitic in tone). For interested readers, Sumathi Ramaswamy's The Lost Land of Lemuria is an excellent acadmic starting point with regard to this topic.  The fact that casual references to said writers can all-too regularly be found in contemporay esoteric texts is telling with regard to how some of these modern esotericisms are happily aligning themselves with what Judith Nagata refers to as those 'ethnic chauvinisms' emergent from late modern globalised capitalism. In other words, the ill-informed racial exceptionalism which legitimised European colonialism in its 18th and 19th century phases - reducing the historically complex cultural systems of colonised peoples to an imagined 'Aryan' invasion (as in the case of India) - is alive and well today, and can be observed in claims regarding the 'white' origins of a variety of non-European indigenous cultures as speculated (and I use the term loosely here) in the work of hugely popular writers such as Graham Hancock. Rant over.

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Lovecaftian Thing a Day No.188: The Infernal Texts: Nox & Liber Koth

Day 3 of Lovecafian Occult Week brings us to Stephen Sennitt's The Infernal Texts: Nox & Liber Koth, published respectively in 1997 and 1998, and collected in the 2007 edition presented here. Nox is a collection of essays often incorporating Lovecraftian themes from a Left-Hand Path/Satanic/occulturally 'darkside' perspective. However, interested readers should be warned that Nox also contains essays by Anton Long and David Myatt (who may or may not be the same person), and which relate to the ideology and ritual practice of the controversial/notorious Order of the Nine Angles - a Satanic/Left- Hand Path order which has espoused a neo-Nazi ideology and apparently has links with neo-Nazi groups. This being the case, I will pass over Long and Myatt's contributions fairly quickly - other than to say one of these essays represents a point of overlap between contemporary New Right/neo-Nazi esotericism and Lovecraft's fictive mythology (an issue which I hope to explore in some of my academic work in the future). On a more positive note, Nox also contains an essay entitled 'The Nameless Sodality' containing some very informative Left-Hand Path perspectives on Lovecraft's mythology, but in this case thankfully free of the toxic Nazism - though still plenty of antinomianism and iconoclasm! Liber Koth develops somewhat from 'The Nameless Sodality', exploring the Cthulhu mythos by way of a synthesis of Typhonian, Voudon Gnostic, EOD and Chaos magic perspectives, and represents another keynote in esoteric understandings of Lovecaft's fiction. Overall, this may not exactly be the kind of book for you if your taste in the esoteric doesn't encompass some of the extremities of Left-Hand Path occultism, but nonetheless an important volume - historically speaking - in the development of Lovecaftian occulture.

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Lovecraftian Thing a Day No.187: The Pseudonomicon

I'm currently on my way to hear Phil Hine and others speak at the UK Satanic Abuse Scare, 25 Years On conference organised by the London School of Economics Information Network on Religious Movements (INFORM) and Treadwells bookshop. In light of this, it seems appropriate to present as today's offering Phil's own contribution to Cthulhuvian esotericism, The Pseudonomicon. First published in 1994 (the edition shown hete is the 1997 reprint), The Pseudonomicon was an early (and now classic) view of how the Cthulhu Mythos could be effectively utilized as a working paradigm withn a Chaos magical framework. Indeed, a few years after its publication I would find myself working with a sodality of Chaos magicians seeking to implement Lovcaft's fiction as a functional magical paradigm in ways that were informed by works such as The Pseudonomicon, as well as writings of Kennth Grant and others. Good times. In any case, The Pseudonomicon remains a formative text in the (still emerging) field of Lovecraftian occulture, and is available to purchase in multiple formats here.

Monday, July 04, 2016

Lovecraftian Thing a Day No.186: Nightside of Eden

Today marks the start of the Lovecraftian Thing a Day's 'Lovecraftian Occult Week', where we will be examining and exploring various texts, artefacts and other ephemera relevant to uses of Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos in contemporary esoteric theory and practice. First up is Kenneth Grant's Nightside of Eden  - the fourth in his nine-volume series which constitues the 'Typhonian Trilogies' - which explores the Tunnels of Set: a 'zone of non-being' represented by the averse side of the qabalistic Tree of Life, and is coterminous with the 'nightside' of human consciousness as well as the habitation of Lovecraft's nightmarish extraterrestrial entities. Regardless of what one might think of Grant (and many occultists have taken him to task for his 'creative' use of gematria), he has had a huge influence on the contemporary occult scene; along with the Simon Necronomicon, Grant has been key in developing and indeed popularising occult exegeses of Lovecraft's fictive mythology. In this respect, I think Grant's work has also played a major role in informing esoteric understandings of the UFO phenomenon which, in the last decade or so, have also come to reshape aspects of contemporary UFOlogical conspiracy theories in a more Lovecraftian vein.

Sunday, July 03, 2016

Lovecraftian Thing a Day No.185: The Age of Lovecraft

Today's offering is the recently published The Age of Lovecaft, a collection of academic essays concerning Lovecraft and Lovecraftian cultures edited by Carl Sederholm and Jeffrey Weinstock, which explores the manner in which the current Lovecraftian milieu gives expression to 'questions, anxieties, and desires that have become increasingly insistent since the close of the twentieth century and the start of the twenty-first'. I'm also privileged to know two of the contributers to this excellent volune - Patricia MacCormack and James Kneale - both of whose work herein offers sterling and salient additions to the expanding field of academic Lovecraft scholarship. You can purchase The Age of Lovecraft in digital and meatspace editions here.

Saturday, July 02, 2016

Lovecraftian Thing a Day No.184: Happy Birthday, Hannes Bok!

Today being Hannes Bok's birthday, I thought it right snd proper to present something in honour of such a superb artist associated with Lovecraft and Weird Tales. To this end, I offer Joe Broers ghoulish interpretation - in sculptural form - of Bok's classic illustration for Pickman's Model.

Friday, July 01, 2016

Lovecraftian Thing a Day No.183: NecronomiCon 2015 Passes

2016 being a leap year means that today's 183rd entry into the Lovecraftian Thing a Day marks the exact midway point of the series - only another 6 months/183 days to go! I had planned something special for today's entry, but unfortunately that has been over taken by the sadly depressing events in the UK, so I will save that for a later time. This also being the final day of the Lovecraftian SJW Week, I also thought some reflections on inclusivity in the Lovecraftian community would be appropriate by way of my NecronomiCon 2015 memorabilia. In regard to this, NecronomiCon 2015 got off to a rather awkward start with Robert M. Price's now infamous address seemingly making use of The Horror of Red Hook - one of Lovecraft's most overtly racist stories - in support of the orientalist 'Civilzation versus Barbarism' rhetoric informing much of contemporary Euro-American populist politics - an address which, I know for a fact, led to a number of attendees (who were also PoC feel unwelcome at the event). Ironically, this is the exact same rhetoric which has gone on to produce its own kind of barbarism in the UK in the past week, with an apparent five-fold increase in racially-motivated abuse and crime being reportedsubsequent to the decision to leave the EU.

Commendably, the NecronomiCon team responded swiftly to Price's address, not only making it openly clear of the unacceptability of such views at the event, but in the closing session vowing - to great applause, as I recall - to find ways of facilitating greater diversity and inclusivity as part of the convention's remit. Never have I felt so proud to be part of the (increasingly global and diverse) community of Lovecaftians. As this week's entries have, I hope, demonstrated, there has also been a groundswell of support and interest in Lovecraftian projects that seek not only to interrogate Lovecraft's racism and bigotry, but to recover - and reconfigure for a modern and diverse audience - his cosmicism from it. To this end I would like once more to strongly urge readers to support Brian Sammons and Oscar Rios' The Heroes of Red Hook, a collection of jazz-era cosmic horror short storied featuring immigrant, minority, female, LGBT, and other outsider protaganists.