Friday, May 7, 2010

Dark Corners of the Earth: Intro.


“Then we arrived within the moats profound,
That circumvallate that disconsolate city;
The walls appeared to me to be of iron...
More than a thousand at the gates I saw
Out of the Heavens rained down, who angrily
Were saying, 'Who is this that without death
Goes through the kingdom of the people dead?'
And my sagacious Master made a sign
Of wishing secretly to speak with them.”
- Dante,
Inferno (The City of Dis)

“It is extreme evil to depart from the company of the living before you die.”
- Seneca. Roman philosopher, mid-1st century CE.

“The mechanic says: If you’re male and you’re Christian and living in America, your father is your model for God. And if you never know your father, if your father bails out or dies or is never at home, what do you believe about God?”
- Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club.

***


You can call me Jack.

On April 18th, 1984, I entered the world. I was born in Tonopah, Nevada. It sits in the middle of what you might call The American Hell, which is better known as the state of Nevada. Thirty miles beyond the broken and dwindling mining town is Area 52; seventy miles away is the better known Groom Dry Lake, or Area 51.

Tonopah was established as a major mining spot when silver was discovered in its vicinity; over time the veins dried up, and so did the town for the most part. The 2006 census lists the residents of the town at around 2,627 individuals. Many of the employees worked for the United States military, which until 1992 continued to detonate nuclear weapons beneath the surface of the earth. As to whether or not there were nuclear detonations at Area 52 or not, I do not actually know. My family, however, has stated that they were within proximity to feel the 'earth-quakes' and tremors caused by the underground detonations. In any event: the radiation most likely contaminated nearby water, and to this day my mother and others living in Nevada at that time have thyroid issues.

My mother was a teenage cheerleader, and military brat; her father worked at the military base. The man whose genetics I bear – by which I do not mean to imply that he is a 'father' at all – was also a bastard, adopted and with his records sealed. He became worried my mother would leave him and head away to college and decided it was somehow necessary to cut a condom. He attempted contact once when I was six; he called, asked my mother if she had a boyfriend, and hung up upon being told that she was married. He never asked about me. I'm told it's quite possible I have a half-brother I've never met; but I've never desired to know my father.

Two months after I was born my mother took me to a park. A woman was sitting at a bench on the west side of the park; she was sobbing. My mother came over, seated herself, and asked what was wrong while holding me. The woman sobbed: “I... I also just had a baby.”

I wanted a boy so badly,” she sobbed softly, “but I had a girl.”

Suddenly, the sobs stopping, she fixed her gaze on my mother and said: “You have a boy there with you. Would you trade me?”

My mother, obviously, did the smart thing and left in a hurry. Three to four months we moved, with my grandparents and other family, to California and left the wasteland behind. I think the event traumatized her, because being told tales of changelings and the special horror of the fae – not to mention Satanic Serial Killers Seeking Young Scott-Irish Boys for Sacrifice (it was the 1980s, after all) – became weirdly common.

I visited Tonopah for first time in 2003. Most of the town was boarded up; even the McDonald's had closed. I walked up a half-green, half-brown hill and looked at the newly installed High School. “What did you do for fun here?”

We went out into the middle of the desert,” my mother told me, “we took drugs. We drank. We partied. Sometimes we hoped tomorrow would never come; sometimes we clung to hope that we'd get out.”

It sometimes startles neo-Pagans when I express the belief that there are dark places on earth. Places touched by old, wild, and mad things. The belief is that you can conveniently ignore them; pretend that the blasted shells of what civilization left behind aren't there. But that doesn't make them go away. Some of us are still born there; some of us leave towns named things like “Hidden Spring,” and later look back and realize that something lives there. Something old, and creepy, and dingy, and that... Well, it (and all its kind) might not just have our best interests in mind. But nonetheless it is there, and we must look it right in the eye. Acknowledge it for what it is.

Of the important traits a witch must possess, Robert Cochrane writes that: “above all they can tell the Maze and cross the Lethe.”

By using the term 'Lethe' he's alluding to the River of Death, which is to say, one must be able to enter the land of the dead by some manner and learn the lessons that come with that landscape. When I visited Tonopah, years ago, I realized something: it was dead. The inhabitants just refused to acknowledge that, and by clinging to that broken and blasted space, slowly and surely seemed to go mad.

I count it as a blessing I was not there longer.

***




The Dark, the Spooky, and the Cookery!
It's spring, and that means 'spring cleaning.' So this year, for this month, I'm going to air out some of my crazy! I felt Cthulhu's call, as it were, and it's time to bring forth my giant bag of: “oh my god, get the tinfoil cap!”

Sitting dead center of all the associations for the following blog entries that I've chosen, is a man named H.P. Lovecraft. For whatever reason almost every male Chaos Magician you'll probably ever meet has decided to chat up Dark Gods, Dead Gods, and Deep Fried Gods. Foremost amongst those that hand out blind, raving idiot daemonic gods is Mr. Lovecraft. As such he made the perfect focal-point for my insanity this May. Through him I may discuss racism (not in his stories; but in our world, today), horror, old things returning(!), fear and other topics.

To warn you: nearly all of this information will be filtered through a heavy layer of pure cosmic nihilism. I'm hoping it'll get it out of my system so I can go back to worshiping sexy ladies, dudes with horns, star deities, and eldritch shit that lives in the hollow earth. (Because: seriously, after about a week you're like: “Hekas, Hekas, H.P. Lovecraft!”)

What you can expect:

Fairies, UFOs, “THE GATE BETWEEN WORLDS DISSOLVING!” … John Keel, shadow things, and who knows what else.

What you shouldn't expect:

Cruelty to animals. Harming one's fellow humans for, like, fun. Etc.

10 comments:

Frater A.I.T. said...

Frater,

Deeply enjoying your blog. Keep up the good work!

AIT

Jason Miller, said...

The Lethe is not just a river of Hades, its the river of forgetfulness. It winds around Hypnos's cave and erases the memory of all who travel to the underworld.

In a private conversation with someone connected with Evan John Jones's group, they suggested that Cochrane's meaning was to remember previous lives. This however could be misdirection. Lots of folks from that tradition practice that form of Cochranes "gray magic"

Jack Faust said...

@Jason: Mmmm. I was aware of that to a degree; it seems for years I've been conflating "Nepenthe" (the anti-sorrow drug) and Lethe. Ack!

Ironically, I'd probably have continued without realizing it had you made that comment.

I have more to say about the subject, but... I think I'll keep silent for now.

Jack Faust said...

@AIT: Thank you, sir! I hope you continue to enjoy the entries!

Gordon said...

Definitely with you on the "dark places of the earth" bit.

Maybe it's a chaos magic predisposition? Or maybe we've just been to more remote, blasted places? (Anyone who wants to know what the Great Old Ones feel like just needs to overnight somewhere in the outback that Australian Aborigines avoid. Yikes.)

Dohmnaill said...

While I have never directly felt so, your post reminds me of a Burroughs quote, "America is not a young land: it is old and dirty and evil before the settlers, before the Indians. The evil is there waiting."

I will admit to feeling that some places just are not right.

Jack Faust said...

@Gordon: I actually have an up-coming blog about that. When your comment arrived, I was sitting with Deus and we chatted about it. We decided: "that's a feature, not a bug!"

But honestly, I've always felt that Chaos Magick was an 'anti-tradition' of a sort that revolved around questioning things and finding your own way. As a byproduct, you tend to find yourself in odd places, doing odd things sometimes. A Black Swan to the head, if you will.

Other times you get into it largely because everyone else is so frickin' freaked out. "Yeah! AND I CAN CONTACT NYARLATHOTEP, MOFO!"

But in the end the point is what you've done, what you've learned, and what you've brought back from the Other Spaces. Not all of it is pretty, but I've discovered much of it is useful... If I used my time wisely.

Jack Faust said...

@Dohmnaill: That Burroughs quote goes great with the entry. Thank you.

And it's cool to disagree; I posted this entry largely because it's at variance with most of the popular assumptions. I'm not sure that makes me right, however. Just crazy. (Which is a good thing.)

jez379 said...

Enjoyed, enlightened, related. I remember as a girl knowing that certain places were just bad, right down deep to the earth's bones, it becomes stained. The earth remembers what the mind forgets.

Z. E. Accordino said...

This was an awesome and fascinating post. I was enthralled the whole way through.