Nyarlathotep, the Devil, and the Unconscious

This is a long one.[1]

This article is ultimately about how the Conscious bridges or connects to the Unconscious, how the individual ego connects to the cosmos and the cosmos’s depths but also our own psychological and spiritual depths. Well, at least mine. In doing so, I’ve woven together several threads to get to where I’m thinking on these topics, so let me walk you through how I get at these ideas in this post. I begin by looking at HP Lovecraft’s Nyarlathotep and that figure’s role as intermediary between human rational consciousness and the irrational (and perhaps non-human, or non-Earthly socialized?) cosmic depths, and I frame that mediation in terms of ecstasy. From there, I move on to talking about my own magical work, developing my “magical image” of myself and how I’ve encountered my own deeper spiritual self both as something calmly confident and self-possessed out there and as an ecstatic, practically diabolic or Nyarlathotep-like experience closer to here. The nature of that experience is by no means new, and it’s found all throughout magical and religious traditions. I situate that ecstatic experience as my own negotiation of the Conscious and the Unconscious, in broadly Jungian terms, with the understanding that Unconscious also extends into the super natural. The negotiation of that supposed divide between Conscious and Unconscious I liken to a lightning bolt, and I try to get at why that “ecstatic Crowess” seems, well, Nyarlathotep-like, or demonic, or can seem such. I then connect the modern figure of Nyarlathotep to a more folkloric conception of the Devil, especially from within a traditional witchcraft perspective. Each of us can have our own “devil” even as The Devil can also exist. I conclude by looking to what I’m taking away from all of these thoughts, and what do I do with it all.

Crawling Chaos

XXI. Nyarlathotep
And at the last from inner Egypt came
The strange dark One to whom the fellahs bowed;
Silent and lean and cryptically proud,
And wrapped in fabrics red as sunset flame.
Throngs pressed around, frantic for his commands,
But leaving, could not tell what they had heard;
While through the nations spread the awestruck word
That wild beasts followed him and licked his hands.
Soon from the sea a noxious birth began;
Forgotten lands with weedy spires of gold;
The ground was cleft, and mad auroras rolled
Down on the quaking citadels of man.
Then, crushing what he chanced to mould in play,
The idiot Chaos blew Earth’s dust away.
—from Fungi from Yuggoth, H. P. Lovecraft[2]

Many folks have argued about Lovecraft’s racism, misogyny, and more, and sonnet XXI here participates in some of that. The Crawling Chaos Nyarlathotep is probably my favorite figure from Lovecraft’s writings because hir/it straddles the line between the human world and the cosmic depths. Cthulhu, Azathoth, and company remain primarily non-human intelligences and serve, I’d argue, as magical/archetypal images for the cosmicist angst that informs much of Lovecraft’s work. Or, they represent the human experience of the cosmic as horror.

I’d argue that, in part, cosmicism predicates itself on the terror of human social constructs being exploded by an infinite and diverse cosmos in which humanity. We shape and make sense of our everyday experience and existence through these constructs, and we use them to help justify why we go to work or put up with assholes, and so forth. We use them to imagine our place in the culture, the world, and the cosmos. With Lovecraft, in particular from the context Lovecraft was writing from, these constructs reflect the rational, male, white Western European-derived, materialist ego, and that ego is in the scale and scope of cosmicist things little more than a speck. Part of that angst gets at the social constructedness of human institutions: gods and stars and hurricanes and super-volcanoes and gamma ray burst events care not for the linguistic, political universe humans paper over the cosmos.[3]

Nyarlathotep occupies a distinct position within the Mythos Lovecraft helped inaugurate, and it is an intermediary figure who is the “messenger” of those cosmic gods, often disdainful of those it ostensibly serves, and Nyarlathotep is typically disdainful of most humans, too, who haven’t recognized the cosmic abyss and adapted to its reality. The sonnet above frames him as “from inner Egypt” and “The strange dark One,” pointing to that old, racist idea of “darkest Africa” even as elsewhere the figure is often termed the “Black Pharaoh,” after one of its more infamous forms.

However, as I think about it, there’s something far closer to home about Nyarlathotep, I think, than just another invocation of racist anxiety. In the original short story Lovecraft wrote for Nyarlathotep (aptly entitled “Nyarlathotep”)[4], the description of this “messenger” is more nuanced:

[He claimed] old native blood and looked like a Pharaoh. The fellahin knelt when they saw him, yet could not say why. He said he had risen up out of the blackness of twenty-seven centuries, and that he had heard messages from places not on this planet. Into the lands of civilisation came Nyarlathotep, swarthy, slender, and sinister, always buying strange instruments of glass and metal and combining them into instruments yet stranger. He spoke much of the sciences—of electricity and psychology—and gave exhibitions of power which sent his spectators away speechless, yet which swelled his fame to exceeding magnitude.[5]

What precisely a “Pharaoh” looks like is quite open to question, especially for a New England writer in 1920, especially in terms of skin tone. I would hazard, though, that this “swarthy, slender, and sinister” figure is not just a deepest, “darkest Africa” racist caricature. The West’s view of ancient Egypt as the earliest and most magical civilizationout of which Hermeticism emerged, and with which we know Lovecraft had some passing familiarity, at least as popularly known.[6] The rising “up out of the blackness of twenty-seven centuries” seems to echo Yeats’s “The Second Coming” with its reference to “twenty centuries of stony sleep” while some “rough beast, its hour come round at last, / Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born.”  I say seems to echo because both works were published for the first time in November 1920.[7] I’ve also heard arguments that the engineering aptitude and “electricity and psychology” may point to Tesla’s public demonstrations of, well, teleforce and such, and “swarthy” has had quite a bit of variance for the skin tones it can describe, even as what constituted “white” has also varied over time. We might keep in mind we’re also in the early period of Jungian depth psychology (Psychology of the Unconscious had come out in English translation in 1916) and Freud’s heyday, and early psychology often had unsavory and occult associations, especially with Jung.

One thing that occurs to me in many representations of Nyarlathotep is that it’s quite at home in western, white spaces, and I note that there’s something curiously, maybe even defiantly, “white” about many Nyarlathotep representations. Of course, the Crawling Chaos has been represented as having an indefinite number of forms it can assume: it is a shapeshifting “trickster,” and one of the more common depictions is of a gigantic leathery-skinned tripedal being with a tentacle/tongue for a head. However, the more racist or misogynistic representations have been more often avoided in popular depictions, and you can’t really have Mr. Triped McTongue-Face in a work without it just being a monster movie: Nyarlathozilla. Part of this choice in representation probably reflects modern sensibilities: depicting the Crawling Chaos as an African or Semitic evil magical engineer is likely to end up being, well, racist.

In contrast, Boom Studios’ Fall of Cthulhu incorporated this more modern adaptation by having the Crawling Chaos disguise itself as Mr. Arkham even as the demonic, pharaonic, divine version of the character appears later, albeit as a non-human “Pharoah.” While Nyarlathotep in Fall of Cthulhu is, well, a non-human deity, the fact that he spends so long as the white male Mr. Arkham can end up associating that identity with the Crawling Chaos. In the supernatural reality of the Dreamlands, Mr. Arkham/Nyarlathotep allows his full divinity to come forth. At least arguably for readers, the demonic Pharaoh becomes the idealized, amplified Mr. Arkham.

What also occurs to me is how, well, serial killer-riffic these Nyarlathoteps can seem—or perhaps how Nyarlathotep-like serial killers can seem. Peter Levenda explores this cultural motif for the cultic serial killer in his Sinister Forces trilogy with an extended treatment on the Manson family and others from America in the twentieth century. Levenda also incorporates explorations of the intersections of modern occultism, MK-ULTRA and -OFTEN, and American culture—not counting Levenda’s own exploration of the intersection of Aleister Crowley, Lovecraft, and Kenneth Grant’s Typhonian tradition of magic in The Dark Lord.

It began to seem to me that there is something almost wish-fulfilling in that image of Nyarlathotep-as-Serial-Killer-Supreme. You can also compare DC’s The Joker as a practically supernatural “Agent of Chaos” and how many folks want to identify with The Joker, and who they often tend to be.[8] And if Lovecraft’s works often articulated elements of the angst that “the rational, male, white European materialist ego” experienced, that angst seems to emerge often in response to this irrational but quite competent force[9]—I hesitate to term it ego—that threatens to expose the constructs of rationality as mere constructs. There’s also something of a cliche of the disgruntled white male villain who tries to embrace the supernatural magical power of some some other culture: the sort of thing that the Kurtzes of the world might do.

And if I had to offer a quick descriptor for that irrationality, I might call it ecstatic.

(My) Magical Image & Ekstasis

gregorio_lazzarini_-_orpheus_and_the_bacchantes_-_wga12527

Orpheus and the Bacchantes (1710) by Gregorio Lazzarini

Great nurse of Bacchus, to my pray’r incline, Silenus, honor’d by the pow’rs divine
And by mankind at the triennial feast illustrious dæmon, reverenc’d as the best:
Holy, august, the source of lawful rites, rejoicing pow’r, whom vigilance delights
With Sylvans dancing ever young and fair,
head of the Bacchic Nymphs, who ivy bear.
With all thy Satyrs on our incense shine, Dæmons wild form’d, and bless the rites divine;
Come, rouse to sacred Joy thy pupil kin, and Brumal Nymphs with rites Lenæan bring;
Our orgies shining thro’ the night inspire, and bless triumphant pow’r the sacred choir.
LIII. To Silenus, Satyrus, and the Priestesses of Bacchus, Orphic Hymns, translated by Thomas Taylor

In my magical practice, I’ve found that I have my own “magical image”—that is, the magical image of myself. When I relax and let go of the conscious, rational hold over my mind—meditation is good for that—there is an image of myself that shines forth. I’d noticed my magical image before when actually doing magic, when I’d feel whatever I was doing do something—I’d have moments of double-vision where I’m here but also there—in moments where the Conscious and Unconscious, where this world and the Otherworlds, would synch up.

Of course, none of these things are themselves particularly newsworthy: what I’m doing is what most anyone who works with subtle bodies, bodies of light, auras, energy work, and so forth winds up doing at some point.[*] Now, I note how my magic and practice work better when I can integrate my magical image with whatever I’m doing, and I’ve noted how I feel better, more whole, more self-possessed, more myself when I can integrate her just in regular life. However, I also have come to realize that comes from someplace deeper that I typically don’t have reliable access to: the Unconscious.

I first noticed her in a dream half a lifetime ago: I looked into a mirror and saw a face that was mine but also different, and in that dream, we both seemed surprised by the other.[10] And it was around the same time that I started writing poetry. In hindsight, most of my poetry has been ecstatic stuff that most folks have no idea what to do with it, but that’s true for most folks and poetry. But she seemed to come out in that ecstatic poetry, and if she is my Unconscious self to any degree, then that makes a certain sense. I was essentially engaging in active imagination and getting the ecstatic explosions of HER! out of the experience.

I didn’t properly recognize that at the time.

At times, I’ve worked to try to strengthen the “channel” or “signal” between us. Dialogues proved interesting. I remember first initiating a dialogue as a kind of automatic writing exercise and how nonverbal she initially seemed—though, I wonder how much non-English she was rather than non-verbal—but there was a fitful, at times explosive or ejaculatory, quality to the dialogues.

I did something like this the other night, as well. I’ve been using the Headspace app, and one of Headspace’s techniques is to have you focus on something—typically your breath and/or a visualization, from what I’ve heard so far—and then to “let go” and let the mind do whatever it wants and to release the previous focus. And during those letting go points, she was there and shining forth. And those moments weren’t “ecstatic” and honestly pointed more to the other side of my experience of her, Unconscious Crowess. These experiences tend to emphasize a calmness and collectedness, exultation mingled with quiet confidence: all the kinds of things I’d really rather have more of in my Conscious life.

But the other night, after spending some time with that experience of my magical self, I tried to bring her forth for another dialogue. In doing so, I was struck again by the ecstatic quality of the experience. At points, I would find myself tensing up and scrunching my eyes shut with something like a pressure behind my eyes. Sometimes, I recognize that what’s happening in those moments is that I’m resisting those depths. However, I think also sometimes I’m trying to force too much through me. Nonetheless, the dialogue was again ecstatic, and it reminded me of this giddy, wild, mad woman trying to come forth—something almost Nyarlathotep-like or even demonic in nature.

Of course, the Crawling Chaos came to mind, but despite that modern image that Lovecraft gives us,  I chose ekstasis for the heading for this section of this post because I wanted to emphasize how old I think what I’m noticing is. Nyarlathotep, I want to argue, represents a modern take on this phenomenon, maybe even these days a critique of how it’s often handled, but I also recognized that there was something akin to the Bacchanal ecstasies to this—or even something people recognized in the Dionysian, in the demonic, in the daimonic.

So I asked myself why she was, or seemed, demonic in those moments whereas she seems sardonic, composed, laconic otherwise.

Unconscious & Conscious Lightning

Lo, a shadow of horror is risen
In Eternity! Unknown, unprolific!
Self-closd, all-repelling: what Demon
Hath form’d this abominable void
This soul-shudd’ring vacuum? — Some said
“It is Urizen”, But unknown, abstracted
Brooding secret, the dark power hid.
Times on times he divided, & measur’d
Space by space in his ninefold darkness
Unseen, unknown! changes appeard
In his desolate mountains rifted furious
By the black winds of perturbation
For he strove in battles dire
In unseen conflictions with shapes
Bred from his forsaken wilderness,
Of beast, bird, fish, serpent & element
Combustion, blast, vapour and cloud.
Dark revolving in silent activity:
Unseen in tormenting passions;
An activity unknown and horrible;
A self-contemplating shadow,
In enormous labours occupied
—from The Book of Urizen, William Blake

I had recently heard how tricksters often act as intermediaries between the worlds (Duh, I reminded myself at the time), and that mediation struck me as something like a lightning bolt, crossing from the Otherworldly Sky to the Earth—often with thunderous and explosive results.[**] Now, magical work often relies on intermediary spirits or allies to mediate and bridge different entities or activities or worlds, but the same is potentially true for ourselves.

I went looking for something to quote here on this topic for this intermediary role for the trickster—tricksters are often reduced to being “agents of chaos” in popular discourse—and I found this passage that seems quite pertinent:

That the trickster is a mediator is something on which Jung and Lévi-Strauss agree, albeit from different angles. Jung sees in the trickster the animal, unconscious half of man, which contains in itself an enormous potential for conscious development, based as it is on “a considerable eagerness to learn”; he is “God, man and animal at once,” for he symbolizes the potentiality within every man to rise to full consciousness without obliterating the animal nature of his origins. Were it feasible, the conjunction of animality and humanity would be nothing short of divine. On the other hand, Jung remarks that “[the trickster’s] universality is coextensive, so to speak, with that of shamanism” and that “There is something of the trickster in the character of the shaman and the medicine-man”…According to Jung, the ‘good’ trickster becomes ‘evil’…when man attempts “‘to forget his transformation from an animal into a human being’” and then proceeds to project the animal trickster on his fellows (whether they be neighbours, racial minorities or whole nations). [William] Golding fictionally vindicates this Jungian insight [in The Inheritors] by isolating projection as the prehistoric root of man’s belligerent attitude to man: the good trickster has perished, and his evil counterpart has taken on the demonic features of a possessed shaman who perpetuates the projection instead of dissolving it.[11]

Now, I’m quite fine with the idea of big-T Tricksters having their own reality and presence and intermediating things, but this Jungian, “shamanic” trickster strikes me as someone far closer to home: the human potential to mediate the worlds and to mediate their own spiritual natures.

Accordingly, I wonder how much my experience of this ecstatic-me is that intermediary, “trickster” me, straddling the Depths and Here with lightning-like intensity. In engaging with her, I recognized how emotionally mild many of my magical experiences have been, and how limited my visualization skills often are. However, in engaging with T-Crowess (versus Deep-Crowess, I suppose), all that old ecstasy and intensity surged forth—vivid and clear and bright and many-colored.

But there’s still something rather demonic about her, but that’s probably how she does not give a fuck about the restrictions and worries and papered-on concerns of life around here. And if she seems demonic or Nyarlathotep-like, then that probably speaks more to how my enculturation here has discouraged embracing and exploring and embodying those “animal” and “divine” sides of myself, let alone ambition. The human blending of the bestial and the divine is well-established, and we find it in stories as old as Gilgamesh, where Gilgamesh moves “from god to human,” and Enkidu moves “from animal to human,” with their relationship juxtaposing animal and divinity as parts of the same continuum.[12] In avoiding and partitioning off T-Crowess (and by extension, Deep-Crowess), had I also been rendering her “evil” by, as Jung and Francois argued, forgetting the “transformation from an animal into a human being”?

My experiences of her are typically brief. I think about the Bacchantes roaming the countryside in their ekstases—letting their intermediary daemons out to be wild and free with ritual aids—and tearing apart Orpheus. Or I think about those Nyarlathotep-like men being their own monsters and would-be dark gods. Radical and often chemically-propelled trance states were involved for both groups, which are something I don’t really have access to most of the time. I also wonder how much conscious and socialized repression during mundane life had backed up a kind of existential, spiritual pressure that exploded into violence.

I also have to wonder how much that perception of the demonic is itself an artifact of the conscious ego encountering its Other.

The Devil & Nyarlathotep

michael_pacher_004

Saint Augustine and the devil, or Saint Wolfgang and the devil (1471-5) by Michael Pacher

XXXII. Alienation
His solid flesh had never been away,
For each dawn found him in his usual place,
But every night his spirit loved to race
Through gulfs and worlds remote from common day.
He had seen Yaddith, yet retained his mind,
And come back safely from the Ghooric zone,
When one still night across curved space was thrown
That beckoning piping from the voids behind.
He waked that morning as an older man,
And nothing since has looked the same to him.
Objects around float nebulous and dim—
False, phantom trifles of some vaster plan.
His folk and friends are now an alien throng
To which he struggles vainly to belong.
—from Fungi from Yuggoth, H. P. Lovecraft

The Devil has often been a trickster figure in the Western tradition—and I’m not talking about “Lucifer” or “Satan.” As Gordon White observes about the Devil in Western European folklore, the Devil often serves as a floating signifier to project the unknown (if not wholly super natural) onto: “Witness the hundreds of peculiar landscape features with the name ‘Devil’ in them: Devil’s Elbow, the Devil’s Teeth, the Devil’s Steps. Many of these sites have long been loci of Fortean and UFO Phenomena, pointedly reminding us of the Old Master’s ancient Trickster status.” At the same time, some traditions like Iberian folklore treat the Devil as a demiurgic figure with authority over the Earth and its affairs, including magic. Accordingly, witches would seek out the Devil for success in magic, not necessarily to worship him, and White points to how “the spirit lists of the Central European grimoires invariably have him in there somewhere, where he usually fulfils the equivalent function as he does for the less literate classes.”[13] And just as the Devil helped bring knowledge—of magic and good and evil and natural lore—in the Christian traditions, so too do you have other trickster figures doing similar things: Coyote and Prometheus bringing fire, Nyarlathotep bringing electricity and psychology.

In The Origins of the World’s Mythologies, E. J. Michael Witzel associates the demiurge figure with the trickster, and these figures “bring various features of culture to humans.” These figures often bridge the divine world—and more specifically divine knowledge—to humanity even as they often help shape the world into its inhabitable form.[14] Now, I have to wonder how much the Devil is the face we put on the intelligence that comes from out there and for whatever reason came down here and decided to help humanity learn. It’s easy—maybe tempting in a twentieth and twenty-first century intellectual way—to leave the Devil as that empty signifier or as “just an archetype.” To do so relocates the Devil out of the actual archetypal, Unconscious, Otherworldly, and uncanny and into a nebulous and dangerous “symbolic” status that’s likely to bite you in the ass when the symbol proves far more real.

So, let’s assume the Devil or your preferred trickster is real. I like Loki myself, but I’m open to a broader world than just the Norse ones. In making that transition from the Unconscious and Depths and into this world—often represented as a fall, from a perspective that paints the world as a piece of shit no spiritual being would want to tread upon—did that change the Devil (or Loki or Coyote, or whoever), rendering him lightning-like, demonic/daimonic-like? And is that super natural quality, a quality perhaps emerging from that lightning-like mediation, frightening and beyond the social world we normally inhabit? Well, yes.

Everyone’s a Devil, Even the Devil

But the liminal self that is bridging—or maybe only exists within that bridge—Conscious and Unconscious, she’s also super natural, frightening and not particularly caring about the social world the Conscious ego has here. She and who lies deeper know things, and my Conscious apprehension of T-Crowess seems demonic, trickster-like, and so on, at least on first glance. It can be tempting to view her also as something “symbolic” or merely “psychological,” like the modern world often treats the Devil or tricksters in general.

But she’s not, is she?[15]

Isn’t that just, well, how this works? I have found my way here through self-reflection, working towards integration, through meditation, through magic and ecstatic poetry and visionary work. And I suspect that everyone who gets at magic and the Unconscious and Otherworlds comes up against that demonic/daimonic self. How often has that trickster, daimonic self been mistaken for the Devil or demons and then forced away while focusing on becoming a good, pure, sanitized, normative personality, papering over the animal-human-divine with social constructions?

The Devil and witchcraft have always been quite worldly and quite oppositional, quite subversive. Politicians and authority are typically corrupt, and magic and ecstasies are often your go-to at those points—seeking knowledge and ways of advancing yourself in the world, psychologically, spiritually, magically, politically.[16]

In a way, everyone’s a devil, even the Devil. The trick is that devils aren’t necessarily trying to swallow your soul or sacrifice babies or any of that. But what about the Nyarlathotep-like or Joker-like or “Satanic” monsters out there? Well, demonic possession is still a thing—even if your devil is the one doing it. And the Devil may be the Trickster-in-Chief, but he’s probably not your buddy. And how much do we magnify the daimonic into the demonic through repression, abuse, and hiding shit away? As Peter Carroll famously observed, “A god ignored is a demon born.” And we’re trying to get at our gods, as it were, without sacrificing the animal and the human.

In thinking about this topic, I can’t help but think about the Thelemic Abyss and Choronzon-like things. As far as I understand it, the magician/adept/awesome person seeks to master their self and their magical discipline until they can cross the Abyss, survive their encounter with the demon Choronzon, and emerge onto the other side into Reality (or the City of Pyramids, or wherever). In a way, the egoic self must disintegrate its Conscious pretensions to cross the Abyss to get to Reality and the Real and so on. Crowley and others represented that challenge as a one-off deal: complete the quest, gain the achievement, Really Real Adept-Unlocked. Jan Fries has framed it differently and perhaps more pragmatically: one can cross the Abyss and attain that Reality for a bit, but upon returning to this world and the Conscious, you’re back on this side of the Abyss.

What do you bring back, though?

I can imagine how I am here, and T-Crowess lies along the “Abyss” between the Conscious and the Unconscious, and the glorious Real Deep-Crowess is there beyond. But I want to avoid buying into the essentialist premise that the Abyssal mythology relies upon. I am here, and I am there already, and there is a path, current, lightning bolt bridging here and there, me and her and us. We’re not discrete but part of our continuity, and the expression of that continuity in this world may come out of that daimon, that lightning bolt.

These are deep, treacherous spaces. They have to be navigated.

So I wonder about figures like the Devil. Believe me, I’m a bit relationally-agnostic about the Devil: I’d rather deal with other tricksters? But it strikes me that whatever Devil one deals with, our own daimon is perhaps a good being to start with, and may deal better with the Devil than we would consciously do so. So I suppose I should do the devil’s work, to reference Michael Moorcock here at the end, and I should all keep crawling towards chaos.

Featured Image: via Pixabay

[1] As I was working on this one, I also realized/remembered that I’d started or had thought about writing about Nyarlathotep before, but it always fell away before I could quite get my mind around whatever I was going to get at. Maybe not this time. Meanwhile, yes, I am familiar with Peter Grey’s writings.

[2] Yes, Lovecraft wrote poetry and even a whole sonnet sequence! I think Fungi is among his best work because the sonnet form forced him to edit and better craft his images and turns of phrase.

[3] Of course, you can substitute out Cthulhu, Azathoth, and company for Michael, God, and company and reach much the same conclusion. Most of us like to paper over angels and deity as caring about–say, for Americans–America, guns, apple pie, and flags, but…

[4] I cannot tell you how often in writing this post that I have had to use the autocorrect for Nyarlathotep.

[5] H. P. Lovecraft, “Nyarlathotep” (1920).

[6] Gary Lachman points to Lovecraft’s knowledge of the occult at least well enough to mention “Eliphas Levi and theosophy in some stories”: see Gary Lachman, Aleister Crowley: Magick, Rock and Roll, and the Wickedest Man in the World (New York: Tarcher/Penguin, 2014), 373n59. Peter Levenda has also addressed the thematic “coincidences” between Crowley and Lovecraft and Kenneth Grant’s fusion of them in his Typhonian tradition: see The Dark Lord: H. P. Lovecraft, Kenneth Grant and the Typhonian Tradition in Magic (Lake Worth, FL: Ibis, 2013). See also Chris Knowles who’s also looked at Lovecraft connections with the occult.

[7] For Lovecraft, he published “Nyarlathotep” in The United Amateur, 20, No. 2 (November 1920), 19–21. For Yeats, he published “The Second Coming” in The Dial in November 1920.

[8] I suspect I could have used The Joker as opposed to Nyarlathotep, but the Crawling Chaos is unquestionably super natural and an intermediary between the human rational world and the irrational cosmic depths.

[9] Also, cf. the modern mythology of the super-competent serial killer with almost preternatural, might as well be magical, abilities to plan and act, whether through intellectual or physical power.

[*] I wonder, though, how much some folks project their conscious image of themselves onto themselves as they do their work—or even how much they imagine a “magical image” for themselves that’s a conscious idealization (I think it’ll always be an idealization, but where’s that ideal coming from?). I don’t think there’s a real answer to such a notion, and I think most folks don’t think much about it, especially if they get the results they want.

[10] But, well, mirrors.

[**] I’m actually reminded of the image of the “lightning bolt” on the Tree of Life, but that’s a model for conceiving of a similar action on the macrocosmic scale that, for me, ends up unnecessarily further mediating the bridge between Conscious and Unconscious on the microcosmic scale.

[11] Pierre Francois, Inlets of the Soul: Contemporary Fiction in English and the Myth of the Fall (Amsterdam: Editions Rodopi, 1999), 112. It goes without saying that shaman, medicine-man, and even animality are problematic terms coming out of the period Jung wrote within.

[12] Harold Scheub, Trickster and Hero: Two Characters in the Oral and Written Traditions of the World (Madison: U of Wisconsin P, 2012), 5.

[13] Gordon White, Pieces of Eight: Chaos Magic Essays and Enchantments (Kindle edition), chapter 10.

[14] E. J. Michael Witzel, The Origins of the World’s Mythologies (Oxford: Oxford UP, 2012), 366. Witzel also acknowledges “the multifaceted role of the ‘devil’” in “European folksongs, customs, and fairytales that do not fit biblical topics at all” (286). Hat-tip to Gordon White for pointing to Witzel in the first place.

[15] Rhetorical question. The answer is, “No, she’s not.”

[16] See Peter Grey’s Apocalyptic Witchcraft and his writings, in general. I just really hate having to read his prose, though. Mind you, you could probably read some Aradia and Faust and get at similar territory.

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4 thoughts on “Nyarlathotep, the Devil, and the Unconscious

  1. Love your post!
    For me the Mythos Lovecraft wrote about always felt more ecstatic than horror. Nice to see there are more out there who feel the same.

    Like

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