There will be a review coming, but in order to save time, just go out and buy Peter Levenda’s The Dark Lord.
It’s a confident realignment of the Crowley current away from its contemporary state of intellectual stagnation toward an embiggened, Lovecraftian, creepy-space-god aesthetic. It’s basically this with less cursing.
Oh, and it’s drinking from the same well that Peter Grey is clearly drinking from when he talks about the unavoidability of The Devil in Apocalyptic Witchcraft. Which I would tell you to buy but I assume you already have.
This may well turn out to the be year of the Black Man of the Sabbat. Not a moment too soon, eh?
One of The Dark Lord’s fascinating but probably pointless tidbits is that the Stele of Revealing was found in the mortuary temple of Hatshepsut, scene of 1997 Luxor massacre (on 11/17), perpetrated by Ayman Al-Zawahiri… who is now the current leader of Al-Qaeda. It is also the location of the most famous depiction of Punt, called Ta-Neter, the ‘Land of the Gods’. Despite what you may read, this can’t have been Ethiopia as they were trading electrum in the Fifth Dynasty. It may well have been India or Elam… Either way… reasons.
And whilst I consider the Kings Chamber summoning more critical to the emergence of Thelema than the museum visit (an exhibit number is actually a fairly pedestrian sync when you think about it… I can get my beloved British Museum to sync like a seal clapping for fish) this is nevertheless a geopolitically weird through-line.
Let’s have a quote, because it provides context.
Grant’s anxiety -as expressed in Nightside of Eden and in his other works- is that the Earth is being infiltrated by a race of extraterrestrial beings who will cause tremendous changes to take place in our world. This statement is not to be taken quite as literally as it appears, for the “Earth” can be taken to mean our current level of conscious awareness, and extraterrestrial would simply mean “not of this current level of conscious awareness.” But the potential for danger is there, and Grant’s work -like Lovecraft’s- is an attempt to warn us of the impending (potentially dramatic) alterations to our physical, mental and emotional states due to powerful influences from “outside.”
This “extraterrestrial” race has already been here, already made itself known (and hence the antiquity of the Typhonian Tradition, according to Grant), and is returning to the planet in greater numbers than before and with an agenda that only adepts would be able to divine. This concept is emphasized in the Schlangekraft recension of the Necronomicon, where it is stated:
…for thou can never know the Seasons of Times of the Ancient Ones, even though thou can tell their Seasons upon the Earth by the rules I have already instructed you to compute; for their Times and Seasons Outside run uneven and strange to our minds, for are they not the Computers of All Time? Did they not set Time in its Place?
Thus, once again it can be shown that the Necronomicon, Crowley, and Grant are in agreement on certain specific points of interest concerning the advent of the New Aeon. The idea that the human race is not the first on the planet is one that has been picked up and developed into an entire mythos by H. P. Lovecraft and expanded upon b Kenneth Grant. It is linked to the Lovecraftian idea of the Great Old Ones, gods -or alien creatures, or both- who came to the earth in “aeons past” and who will return again. The recurring of the Aeon of the Great Old Ones is cognate with Crowley’s recurring Aeons of the Egyptian gods. It is also connected to another Lovecraftian theme, the idea that there are people on earth who are in secret communication, usually telepathically but also through ritual, with the Great Old Ones and are preparing the way for their return.
“Let my servants be few and secret; they shall rule the many and the known.”
So far, so very bad company. As previously mentioned, I happen to believe that our over-emphasis on text rather than context has put us at risk of missing some crucial components of the western esoteric tradition… at least insofar as public discourse is concerned. We appear to be assigning meaning based on our observation of the vertical axis when we should be looking at the horizontal.
And if one of the corrective measures turns out to be Simonomiconological… you’ll get no pushback from me.
A recent installment of Chris Knowles’s Star Trek post series triggered -to mix space stories- a bit of an Obi Wan moment when he mentioned Leslie Stevens. (“Now that’s a name I haven’t heard in a long time… a long time.”)
The case is convincingly made that Leslie Stevens -rather than Roddenberry- was at the terrestrial epicentre of Star Trek’s prescient high strangeness, which it inherited from The Outer Limits. Having worked in broadcast production before, there really isn’t any such thing as innocently sharing production resources. If Roddenberry was camped out with the The Outer Limits team for a whole year, then that very much means something.
What is particularly interesting is where Stevens Jnr himself got his information. And, according to Chris, it was from his extremely-well-connected father. Here’s the relevant part:
(Admiral Leslie) Stevens was naval attache in Moscow for three years, 1947-50, after a varied and distinguished career in naval aeronautics, in which, to quote the jacket, he “had a hand in the design or conception of all naval aircraft, aircraft carriers and carrier landing apparatus.”
Stevens, Sr. (a three star Admiral) was also on the National Security Council under Eisenhower and was instrumental in the formation of NASA ( he was US Navy Representative on the Governing Committee its immediate predecessor) and other, more exotic projects. His resume is such that he was a very likely candidate for membership on Majestic 12 or a similar working group.*
A number of interesting possibilities arise from this hotline from the Daystar offices to the seat of American military power. What’s particularly interesting is that Stevens’s aliens didn’t come to Earth in flying saucers, they came here through considerably more unsettling forms of transportation (all the more unsettling given that they parallel classified projects his father was working on at the time).
So I done did some diggin’ on Admiral Stevens, because I had heard the name before and figured it was MJ12-related and went digging in a Richard Dolan direction. Nope… it was ratline-related.
Stevens Jnr began his creative career in theatre. He actually ran away to New York at age fifteen to be Orson Welles’s assistant. (The story goes that Welles shouted “I need no valet to bugger!” Stevens told him he was overreacting. Welles laughed and hired him.) But his theatrical interest began at age 11 when he was living in London… while his father was naval attaché to the US Embassy.
That, of course, means that his transatlantic allies at the time included British spymaster Maxwell Knight and other strange military folk who would go on to form the London Controlling Section during the War.
After the war, it gets more interesting. Not only was Admiral Stevens, as Chris mentioned, part of Eisenhower’s Project Solarium, but before that he was instrumental in setting up what would become Operation Gladio:
Interesting, no? After this, he went on to run the CIA front, Radio Free Europe, which broadcast pro-capitalist propaganda into Soviet territories.
All of this means that, not only was Stevens Jnr potentially getting an insight into the postwar world of clandestine high strangeness from one of the creators of NASA, he was getting it from someone with first hand experience of using broadcast technology to manipulate the consciousness of entire populations. Paging Jules Verne.
I wonder how much of this must have slipped from his lips at 3am, with the 1960s Californian beach party fires burning low, coming down off the LSD and coming up on the weed… throwing around ideas for weird, low budget films. (Sidebar: Get the fuck out of my dream life, Leslie!) Even prior to Star Trek, he was certainly moving in the right west coast circles, circles that included Bucky Fuller, a man who -according to a number of my weirdo friends- should be at the top of anyone’s hypothetical list of ‘visiting aliens incarnating in human form’:
Reigning in his artistic extremism at this point, Stevens would work steadily in television for the next twenty years (primarily in TV movies) — but he never lost his desire to examine “cutting-edge” ideas. He became immersed in what turned into the “new age” movement in the late sixties, becoming chummy with cyberneticists like Buckminister Fuller and attempted to become a futurist prophet in his own right. In 1970, a slim volume entitled EST: The Steersman Handbook was published: the author’s name was L. Clark Stevens. EST, soon appropriated by “self-realization guru” Werner Erhard, stood for “Electronic Social Transformation,” and Stevens positioned himself as a simultaneously naïve and sophisticated social prophet.
Most tellingly, he understood the danger faced by any movement of social transformation came from those who would misappropriate its message. He termed these folk “neo-primitives,” those who spout a deranged, self-serving variation of the fragile new values being introduced as delicate tendrils in the highly toxic social soil. While Stevens was undoubtedly thinking of Charles Manson when he coined this character type, it might also have come from the dim memory of the disaffected Duke, whose powers of seduction only needed the right sugar-coated message (peace and love) to provide him with the tools to stage-manage a cult group.
Message misappropriation. That’s interesting. Like father, like son, maybe? It goes some way to explaining why Stevens seemed to be decidedly un-Hollywood when it came to receiving credit for his work. For instance, it has emerged that he wrote most of the original Battlestar Galactica script. Given that its original title was Adam’s Ark we may speculate that his biggest contribution was to de-Mormon it as much as possible. (It must have been awful on first read through. It’s still kinda awful.)
What was more important was the gestalt, getting the future right. A future of ancient lost civilisations spread out across the galaxy. Writing credits were secondary to this.
But before we get to Battlestar, we have to go through the guy that rebooted it, Ronald D Moore. As Chris points, out, his first episode of ST:TNG was The Bonding. In his original script, the child who lost his mother recreates her on the holodeck and then refuses to leave… which… given that Moore went on to prove that he can do small-scale human drama in space… may have been a rather sweet character meditation on grief and loss.
Regarding the spec script, Michael Piller gives him words to the effect of “Gene says that in the twenty fourth century, kids don’t mourn their parents. So we’re changing the holodeck to a discarnate alien presence beaming up from the ghostly ruins of a vanished civilisation on the planet below, one that messes with the emotions of a small child and the physical perception of reality of the entire crew for some reason. Because that’s what happens in the future.”
To drive home the notion that this story is Trek at its most “pure”, there is a model of a Constitution Class starship -the original Enterprise- in the dead archaeologist’s quarters. (Bonus sync: Images of Mars’s Valles Marineris stand in for the location of the civilisation on the viewscreen of the Enterprise in this episode, as opposed to the usual matte paintings. Hoagland thinks he’s found a large, ruined spaceship at the actual location. If that was a deliberate choice, it can only have come from Stevens by way of his dad’s stories.)
As Chris goes on to point out, Piller wrote Insurrection, or ‘Space California’, as well as creating DS9. So whatever kool-aid Stevens and Roddenberry were passing around, Piller was drinking it. I would suggest that this was Ronald D Moore’s first indication that the people circling around his beloved Star Trek were into some fairly weird shit. (For decades, Stevens and Roddenberry shared the same assistant, Rob Justman, passing him backward and forwards whenever one of them had a gig on. Justman would go on to be part of a military space futures experiment in the early nineties.)
The immediately preceding episode, for instance, Who Watches The Watchers, is about the accidental creation of a space cult focused on Captain Picard. After a Federation research outpost is discovered by the denizens of a primitive world, the crew are ultimately forced to reveal themselves to a Bronze Age civilisation as extraterrestrials on a space ship in order to prevent the indigenous inhabitants considering them gods. Because space men are gods for smart people. (You see?!)
Did Moore himself drink the kool-aid? Well, he may have sipped, but in the end, it doesn’t actually matter. Because the snake is eating itself. This is from an interview with RDM:
What initially got you interested in sci-fi? What were your influences?
What got my interested in science fiction was actually the American space program. When I grew up, I saw the moon landing and I was fascinated watching them as a child and that’s what really turned me onto space and science fiction and I started watching things like Lost In Space and that led me to Star Trek, which was a major influence on my life.
Were you a fan of the original Battlestar Galactica then?
I wasn’t a big fan of it, but I saw it in its original run. I certainly watched it every week. Since it went off the air in 78, I didn’t really see it again until I was offered the opportunity to re-do it, so I didn’t watch it for twenty years or so.
So RDM decided to get into Star Trek because Star Trek was a major influence on his life? Somebody’s spinning somewhere, eh? At this point, I remind you that you can see the Enterprise in the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum… which is weird in its own right… like installing Barbie in the Grand Prix Hall of Fame because of her collection of high performance automobiles.
If you think this is just an attempt to boost ticket sales by appealing to morons, then try and think of what the space faring future of the 23rd or 24th century looks like. In your head. Does it look like Star Trek? This is the unfolding of a Magonian agenda. I mean, we’re building warp drives right now!
Whether or not the Roddenberry/Stevens space cult reached its apotheosis with the end of DS9 -and stay tuned to the Secret Sun to find out- we may discern the impact of graduating from the University of The Nine in the revised cosmology of Moore’s Battlestar.
The most devout characters on the show are all robots (cylons), and they’re monotheistic, to boot. I interpret this as Moore distancing himself from the Mormon cooties of the original series. Humanity is polytheistic in the sense that the gods are probably real but not too many people give a shit. Mankind’s origin in the stars is confirmed by the fact that the Twelve Colonies are the twelve astrological houses.
Pulling through the original Stevensian gestalt, the story is a paranoid, archaeological and philosophical trek across the galaxy, staying one step ahead of the consequences of their technocratic actions. How much of that old school astrotheology is still in there and how far did Moore take it?
Well, there’s this:
That’s Galactica, a ship of human refugees from across the galaxy, orbiting above Africa, (current) home of the first modern hominids, in the final episode. The biggest/smallest change between the original and the reboot is Moore’s Battlestar is set 150,000 years in the past. It is an origin tale.
There is a curious emotional distance in the depiction of this very Sitchinesque outcome. In Star Trek and DS9, there is much more of a religious bombast in either the Bajoran Prophets or any of the random, discarnate, superior beings from TNG… they’re all haloes of light or phasing into higher dimensions.
Moore presents us with our extraterrestrial origins in a more exhausted, perfunctory way. Forget Kubrick’s monolith, the survivors of the Twelve Colonies observe the indigenous hominids from a distance:
Stevens may have gone to pains to de-Mormon the original Battlestar, and I think Moore went to pains to de-Nine the reboot. Which isn’t to say he rejected the thesis.
I think Battlestar was one of the last space shows that was allowed to explore the numinous. If you cut through Star Trek‘s abysmal science babble, it really is about gods and seances and magic and demonic possession and psychic powers. The reason I abandoned Fringe wasn’t just because it was derivative, but because it was Scooby Doo. God save the sci fi showrunner who tells a story that can’t ultimately be reduced to scientific materialism… to the groundskeeper in a bigfoot suit.
With Battlestar, Moore deliberately left open the question of what happened to Starbuck, and whether she was an angel or a god or whatever. And the neckbeards went nuts. The finale actually improves on re-watching. Battlestar gives us a -dare I say it- more spiritually mature response to the patently weird story of precisely where it is all this actually comes from.
Even the ‘robot evolution’ montage at the end ceases to appear clunky and forced and, instead, becomes creepily prescient given the whole NSA thing and the fact that Russia is now buying typewriters which with to write classified memos.
And then there’s that intro:
That’s the first few lines of the Gayatri Mantra:
The Vedas are some of the earliest scriptures, going back 2,500 to 3,500 years. Gayatri is mentioned numerous times as being the supreme mantra. In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna proclaims to Arjuna, “I am the Gayatri.” This means that all of Krishna’s attributes can be experienced by chanting Gayatri. You become Divine. For many centuries, Gayatri was kept secret by Gurus and Yogis because of its power.
The story goes that composer Bear McCreary used his wife’s interpretation of the mantra as guide music. Moore loved it and insisted on keeping it. Network execubots at the SciFi Channel (as it was called then) decided it was “too sombre” and insisted on changing it so it was only used in the UK release for the first two series. Then Moore eventually got his way and it was used in the US release. Then it got a (rather lovely) full version for one of the feature-length episodes:
Then it was reimagined again in the recent Battlestar: Blood and Chrome:
Quite a persistent journey for a temporary guide track. Here’s an interpretation in the exact words of Satya Sai Baba (whose ashram my mother the psychonaut stayed at several times):
“The Gayatri (Vedic prayer to illuminate the intellect) is the universal prayer enshrined in the Vedas (Divine Knowledge), the most ancient scriptures of man. It is addressed to the Immanent and Transcendent Divine, which has been given the name ‘Savitha’, meaning ‘that from which all this is born.’
Gayatri is Annapurna, the Mother, the sustaining Force that animates all life. So do not neglect it.
The Gayatri is considered as Vedasara –”the essence of the Vedas.” Veda means knowledge, and this prayer fosters and sharpens the knowledge-yielding faculty. As a matter of fact, the four mahavakyas or ‘core-declarations’ enshrined in the four Vedas are implied in this Gayatri mantra.” [20-6-1977]
Let’s have a look at the actual Sanskrit words and what they literally mean:
The first part of the gayatri mantra, om bhur bhuvah svah, which we mentioned at the beginning as not part of the mantra, is called vyahriti or the “great utterance.” This mantra is repeated not only in conjunction with the gayatri mantra, but also separately during havans or fire ceremonies. (Ed: this makes it unequivocally pre-Vedic, but you will have to take my word for that until somebody pours me some more whisky.) The word om is a auspicious sound made at the beginning of many prayers. The expression bhur bhuvah and svah is technical, but a simple way to think of it is as a “call to creation,” that the light of the sun (the light of God) shines on the earth (bhur), in the sky (bhuvah), and in space (svah), and therefore the implication is, “let that light also shine on me.”
The technical explanation vyahriti has to do with subtle practices of meditational yoga. This earth is simply one of many planes of existence. In fact, above this earth are six higher planes, heavens as it were. Including this earth, there are seven planes up (heavens) and seven planes down, or hells below this earth. The earth is in the middle. If you have ever heard the expression, “he is in seventh heaven” you should understand that this is a reference to the Hindu idea of heavens. The seventh heaven is the highest heaven. The first three of these planes starting with the earth are called bhur, bhuvah and svah. The utterance bhur bhuvah svah, therefore, refers to the first three subtle planes of existence that may be reached in meditation by a yogi.
Was Ronald D Moore aware he was opening his AAT show with a mantra that encodes the spirit of mankind’s earliest scripture? Yeah, probably. At some stage.
But did he unpack the line-by-line symbolism of it and discover that it is mankind’s earliest spell for rising off the earth, out into space and travelling back to our Divine home?
I am 98% sure here didn’t. Nevertheless, it is there. And it fits. It fits like exhibit number 666 fits the Stele of Revealing. Let’s go piece-by-piece through the little-used long version of the Gayatri Mantra:
- Om Bhur: Om and salutations to the earth plane (first chakra)
- Om Bhuvaha: Om and salutations to the atmospheric plane (second chakra)
- Om Swaha: Om and salutations to the solar plane (third chakra)
- Om Maha: Om and salutations to the spiritual region beyond the sun (fourth chakra – the Secret Sun?!)
- Om Janaha: Om and salutations to the second spiritual region beyond the sun (fifth chakra)
- Om Tapaha: Om and salutations to the third spiritual region beyond the sun, sphere of the Progenitors (sixth chakra)
- Om Satyam: Om and salutations to the Realm of First/Supreme/Highest Truth (seventh chakra)
- Om Tat Savitur Varenyam: Om and salutation to the Realm beyond human comprehension
- Bhargo Devasya Dhimahi: In that place where all the celestials (Devas) first…
- Dhiyo Yonaha Prachodayat: … Received enlightenment. Kindly enlighten our intellect.
So the short version goes earth -> atmosphere -> space/sun (blast off!) -> realm beyond all comprehensions where the celestials received enlightenment/apotheosis… please also provide us with enlightenment:
- Om Bhur Bhuvaha Swaha
- Om Tat Savitur Varenyam
- Bhargo Devasya Dhimahi
- Dhiyo Yonaha Prachodayat
On this planet, the Gayatri is the formula for rising on the planes that, by virtue of its extreme antiquity, is the mother of all other formulae. And here we find it opening one of the most popular (and most pirated) AAT space operas ever.
But consider this in the same way we consider the supervirus Mimi. Every time Dr Venter threw his bucket overboard from the Sorcerer II, he encountered hundreds of new viruses. Mimi stands in for a type of supervirus that can survive in space and probably colonise planets, but statistically, it’s unlikely she is the spaceship.
Similarly, this post isn’t an exegesis. It’s throwing the bucket overboard and pulling in some sync. It is a type of thing that happens. Which begs the inevitable question that Crowley asked Rose in the King’s Chamber after he had summoned that werelight: what’s the point of it?
I am quite sure we will eventually find out.