Lovecraft & Hermetics

Lb8535

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Any professional biography of HP will explain that he had no personal emotional interest whatsoever in the creatures he created or in magic or in spiritualism. He just liked writing short stories that someone might print and he liked writing in this genre. As for "HP and his friends" I'm not sure that he had any. His true personal devotion was for 18th century poetry, and he wrote passable imitations, but there aren't any sales in that genre. He was very intelligent and very well-read and knew a lot about a lot of things. Few of them paid.
Edit - and it goes without saying that for all his intelligence and reading his judgment with regard to social issues was terrible. Just think I cant leave the post without noting this.
 
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Ogdred Weary

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Any professional biography of HP will explain that he had no personal emotional interest whatsoever in the creatures he created or in magic or in spiritualism. He just liked writing short stories that someone might print and he liked writing in this genre. As for "HP and his friends" I'm not sure that he had any. His true personal devotion was for 18th century poetry, and he wrote passable imitations, but there aren't any sales in that genre. He was very intelligent and very well-read and knew a lot about a lot of things. Few of them paid.
Edit - and it goes without saying that for all his intelligence and reading his judgment with regard to social issues was terrible. Just think I cant leave the post without noting this.

He had many friends, mostly through correspondence but some he met in person. ST Joshi estimates he wrote 100,000+ letters, some tens of pages long.
 

C.O.T.

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Sorry, but this post will be quite long, cause i found some material between the 100.000 letters. It,s a narration that think that maybe have not been published, is because is the transcription of a dream, a quite strangelly long and very detailed dream.

Post a file with the whole narration, that is really quite good, post here a brief, triying not to do spoiler. Anyway is far better to read the full narration that is atached to this post, is a 10 pages tale, quite good, must say.

" As far back as 450 A. D. my retrospective sense adheres altogether to Britain; but behind that point...my memory becomes Roman-The Dream... subject was one of nameless, hovering horror,· and our respective us, near the little town of Pompelo at the foot of the Pyrenees, a monstrous doom was brewing in the hills. the Strange Dark Folk (in the dream the frequently repeated phrase was Miri Nigri) who held the monstrous Sabbaths on the Kalends of Maius and November. ... authorized me to company the cohort"

As it was predictable on a HPL narration, it all finitshes in a very bad way, the narration is too much detailed to a dream.

"It was the most vivid dream I have had in a decade, and involved subconscious use of odd scraps of boyhood reading long forgotten by my waking mind. Calagurris and Pompelo are real towns of Roman Spain, now known as Calabarra and Pamplona, respectively ! ."

This narration is not a tale, he tells to a friend that is simply the transcription of a dream, explains it on a explicit way on other letter days after:Then explains ideas to turn the dream into a tipical mistery pulp narration of the 20s, ( have to say that the planed aded ideas, that dont apear on this version, were very far on narrative power from the dream itself, and maybe decreased "the vividness and significance" there is a noticeable difference of style between the dream and the planed arrangements, as if were thinked for other person.)

"As to my Roman dream-well, young man, I hate to be naive, but the fact is that most of it really was a dream, just as Ramdolph Carter and certain parts of Celephais were ! And I certainly do intend to surround it with a motivating framework and sequel (which I have already described in an epistle to Dwyer) calculated to increase its vividness and significance .. ."

Can say that the Spanish data are consistent; the small towns still exist, the geographic data involving the close presence of Pirenaic mountains is true, and even the times of travel on horse ride are correct for the distance between Pamplona and the mountains.

So, putting all toguether, I would say that this dream was not a dream at all, and that by the action of the shamans of the mountain the spirit of the questor was sent 24 centuries ago, and that magic operations let Hp with a magic capability that was reached trough some dreams, but he, even suspecting it, dont completelly realized.

(Narration and explanation data can be found in the 2nd tome of the " HPL Selected letters, 1925-1929" edited by Arkham house on 1968, narration on page 188, explanations on page 202)
 

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Lb8535

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He had many friends, mostly through correspondence but some he met in person. ST Joshi estimates he wrote 100,000+ letters, some tens of pages long.
He was an old-fashioned correspondent but I do believe was almost entirely solitary. Didn't go out bowling or drinking with the guys, most of whom were nowhere near Providence or briefly NYC I was responding to the post above about practicing hermetics with his friends. He was also I think I remember a knowledgeable amateur astronomer so the story of him correcting a group staring at the sky rings true. But not apparently a member of a club.
 

ralfy

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Any professional biography of HP will explain that he had no personal emotional interest whatsoever in the creatures he created or in magic or in spiritualism. He just liked writing short stories that someone might print and he liked writing in this genre. As for "HP and his friends" I'm not sure that he had any. His true personal devotion was for 18th century poetry, and he wrote passable imitations, but there aren't any sales in that genre. He was very intelligent and very well-read and knew a lot about a lot of things. Few of them paid.
Edit - and it goes without saying that for all his intelligence and reading his judgment with regard to social issues was terrible. Just think I cant leave the post without noting this.

According to sources I found, including his own points in letters to others, he was much more than that. But I can't share them with you because the moderators won't allow it, so you'll have to find them for yourself.
 

ralfy

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He was an old-fashioned correspondent but I do believe was almost entirely solitary. Didn't go out bowling or drinking with the guys, most of whom were nowhere near Providence or briefly NYC I was responding to the post above about practicing hermetics with his friends. He was also I think I remember a knowledgeable amateur astronomer so the story of him correcting a group staring at the sky rings true. But not apparently a member of a club.

From what I gathered, he was much more than that, but I can't provide you with evidence because anything involving politics or that can be connected to it (which, unfortunately, can mean anything), can't be shared in this forum because it will lead to fighting.
 

stu neville

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But I can't share them with you because the moderators won't allow it, so you'll have to find them for yourself.

From what I gathered, he was much more than that, but I can't provide you with evidence because anything involving politics or that can be connected to it (which, unfortunately, can mean anything), can't be shared in this forum because it will lead to fighting.
To be specific, the material you cited - whilst very interesting - was also almost entirely and specifically political, which Enola Gaia explained to you is disallowed on this forum. It's not an arbitrary thing: if it's political it goes.
 

XEPER_

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It's a thread about the master of weird fiction, so it's only fitting that it should have so many weird posts in it. :D

I do not believe HPL was "into" magic or the occult other than using it as interesting source material for stories. I think if he HAD been more spiritual he would have been a happier person. I've read some biographies about him (along with all his stories, obviously, and plenty of Cthulhu mythos fan fiction) and I think he was a pretty gloomy guy in general.
 

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Any professional biography of HP will explain that he had no personal emotional interest whatsoever in the creatures he created or in magic or in spiritualism.

Probably true, but he did say that much of his material came to him through dreams. And dreams, as any Freudian will tell you, are often communications from the deep subconscious, so one might wonder - or at least I do - where, exactly, those images of supernatural terror came from . . . .
 

Lb8535

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Probably true, but he did say that much of his material came to him through dreams. And dreams, as any Freudian will tell you, are often communications from the deep subconscious, so one might wonder - or at least I do - where, exactly, those images of supernatural terror came from . . . .
My first line of argument - and it's always chancy to try to analyse people who are dead and left no personal notes - is that he was obviously a pretty scared and uncomfortable kid. I would go there way before dreamworld perceptions of other universes.
 
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ChasFink

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I'm not so sure he was always in a gloomy mood - he certainly seems to be in good spirits in some of his letters. He was very uncomfortable with unfamiliar surroundings and people who were different from him, which explains both his love of horror stories and his racial prejudices.

Speaking of his prejudices, I tend to think he was less a racist per se, and more a believer in things and people staying in their proper place. He did believe that those of English extraction were superior to, say, Africans or continental Europeans, but he would probably say those people in their homelands were justified in thinking him inferior. That out-of-place sense, I think, is the root of much of his fiction.
 

C.O.T.

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HP had a not usual familiar past at all, both his father and his mother get mad by siphilis infection and had to be confined on an asylum, think that it explains a lot of things both personal and stetically on him. But returning to the Hermetic things, The key is on the letters. Arkham house published a selection around 1968, and the dreams , that talk about. are by far the most noticeable from a magic point of view. Magic around dreams has not been a very extended kind on occident last centuries (more centered on invocation of spirits, akasic operations etc), but it has been ever a important part of the magic technics from ancient times. And the one closest to common man way of contact with non usual forms of perception.
Think on some of your own dreams, you will realize of some PSE like features, for example:
- time: nature of time is diferent on dreams, a 1 minute dream can be perceibed by the dreamers as easily as half an hour real time experience.
-diference on the nature of the experiences compared with awake: Dreamer a lot of times experience perceptions that dont come on the form of usual ones. Exem. Perceptions on witch a visual perception is at the same time the certainty of a mental concept, and some strong feeling.
See the Roman dream, really seems to you a normal dream? ...a dream usually, can be summoned on five lines, not 11 pages :D
Plus, aports data about distant places that he confess not to know, ... Man, if even that dream have another dream inside, cause is to long that gives time to the dreamer to go to bed and have another diferent dream inside that dream.
Keept on reading more letters and, very strangelly beforebeing working onthe idea of that dream as a narration, he suddenly leaves the idea, whitou saying why. Think that something on that dream scared him a lot.
He confess that Howard Carter came from a dream too.
 

Lb8535

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I'm not so sure he was always in a gloomy mood - he certainly seems to be in good spirits in some of his letters. He was very uncomfortable with unfamiliar surroundings and people who were different from him, which explains both his love of horror stories and his racial prejudices.

Speaking of his prejudices, I tend to think he was less a racist per se, and more a believer in things and people staying in their proper place. He did believe that those of English extraction were superior to, say, Africans or continental Europeans, but he would probably say those people in their homelands were justified in thinking him inferior. That out-of-place sense, I think, is the root of much of his fiction.
I think you're right that the not-fitting-in sense is an underlying theme, but what you are describing is racism. And I think he was more likely to hope that people of say African origin (regardless of how many centuries previously) would go back to their ancestral homes and do their obscene ululations there, not here. He grew up in a period of massive immigration of working class people from non-Anglo Saxon countries, and came from a culture that was probably frightened of the influx into Providence.
 

ChasFink

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I suppose I should clarify. I was speaking about the way he perceived the nature of things in order to understand the alien and unknown horrors that permeated his work. Cthulhu and his lot were scary because they operated according to different rules than we do, and have no sympathy for our ways. This, perhaps more than their raw power, is what makes them Lovecraftian horrors.

I think he was, at least sometimes, able to say he was not of a superior race when looking at things on a truly objective level. Trouble is he didn't experience things on an objective level, and didn't much care to. So for all practical purposes, he was a racist. He just had a more complex way of justifying it to himself than most.
 

Lb8535

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I think you're right that the not-fitting-in sense is an underlying theme, but what you are describing is racism. And I think he was more likely to hope that people of say African origin (regardless of how many centuries previously) would go back to their ancestral homes and do their obscene ululations there, not here. He grew up in a period of massive immigration of working class people from non-Anglo Saxon countries, and came from a culture that was probably frightened of the influx into Providence.
I'm clarifying this well after the post so that it does not confuse. "Obscene ululations" above is intended as a parody of HP's normal cruising-along-to-fill-the-story style. I did not in any way intend that it reflect anything remotely close to reality.
 

C.O.T.

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I'm not a moderator, but having started the thread think that must focus it. The thread is about the relation of HP and the group of friends with any kind of psychic activity or interest, and think that there is material for it....about the HP social and political ideas, i think that there is no point of discussion, is racist, clasist and philonazi...but as they were lot of persons in the usa of years 20 and 30s, discussion about political adscription of people from the past i think that makes no logical sense. They thinked as its time, a more interesting aproach would be, from the cultural point of view, to get a look of some characters of that time that had still some interest even being from very distant points of view as todays judgements, maybe the more interesting would be for example Ezra Pound, and maybe Hardgrave from the kibo kiff, but it would be more on the cultural side, maybe a thread called "Anglo fascist culture from the 20s" but i think that very easily it will became a figth about nowadays concerns, instead of a research of cultural elements from the past.
 

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Fairly well known chess master, mountain climber, not-bad poet, mediocre artist and fairly successful writer of several books on Magick (he preferred to use the archaic spelling to distinguish what he was doing from mere stage entertainment) Aleister Crowley defined "Magick" in the introduction to his 1929 book "Magick in Theory and Practice", as "The science and art of causing change to occur in conformity with the Will." Many commentators have added the words "in consciousness" after "change," but I think that this addition needlessly restricts the kind of effects that Crowley was interested in; it seems obvious from the context that he was referring to actual, measurable change in the physical world; not mere changes in consciousness.

And if we weren't paying attention the first, time, he gives us a secondary definition; "Any intentional act is a magickal act." Again, more recent writers have misunderstood what Crowley meant, making objection that, "well, that means that all human acts are magickal acts," but it means nothing of the sort. Followers of behaviorism and neuroscience tell us that there's no such thing as an "intentional" act; all human actions are, to use the Behaviorists' jargon, "conditioned responses to external stimuli" - in other words, none of us act from intention; we are all programmed robots. I think Crowley knew this before Behaviorism really got off the ground, but if he had had the jargon he would have said that yes, by far the majority of human actions are indeed programmed for us, by parents, teachers, politicians, religious leaders, advertisers . . . but it is possible - though very difficult - to break through all the programming, by various techniques - and to actually act from free will - or to "Create your own reality", to use a phrase popular among New Age folks.

In view of all this, my own (tentative) definition of Magic (or Magick, if you prefer), would be "the conscious, intentional creation and exploration of new realities".

So it would seem to me that our friend Howard Phillips Lovecraft, while claiming to be a strict atheist and materialist and having, in his own words, no real interest in magic or the occult, in fact in the course of his life, by the intentional act of writing his stories, created a whole new reality; the Cthulhu Mythos - a reality that has drawn in hundreds of thousands of readers, many authors who have used the Mythos as an inspiration for their own writings, painters of Cthulhu images, sculptors - good heavens, even manufacturers of plush toys!

Lovecraft, then, despite his protestations, might just have been the greatest magician of the twentieth century.
 

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And if we weren't paying attention the first, time, he gives us a secondary definition; "Any intentional act is a magickal act." Again, more recent writers have misunderstood what Crowley meant, making objection that, "well, that means that all human acts are magickal acts," but it means nothing of the sort.
I wouldn't be so sure. He states in Magick Without Tears: "1. Every intentional act is a Magical Act. By “intentional” I mean “willed.” But even unintentional acts so seeming are not truly so. Thus, breathing is an act of the Will-to-live."
Further, he says:
"Illustration: It is my Will to inform the World of certain facts within my knowledge. I therefore take “magical weapons,” pen, ink, and paper; I write “incantations”—these sentences—in the “magical language” i.e. that which is understood by people I wish to instruct. I call forth “spirits” such as printers, publishers, booksellers, and so forth, and constrain them to convey my message to those people. The composition and distribution is thus an act of MAGICK by which I cause Changes to take place in conformity with my Will."

Certain magical groups (or magickal if you prefer) look at it as this kind of thing, like Crowley using a pen to write a letter, as LESSER Magic, while performing some kind of ritual is GREATER magic.

I would agree that people like Crowley and Lovecraft have performed far greater and more profound magical acts, and had more magical influence on the world, just in their writings than in any rituals they might theoretically have taken part in.
 
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