OCTOBER, 2002 E.A.
The first of which being NIGHTMARES experienced by
While speaking to Tool's bassist on the phone the other day, he told me about a very disturbing dream he had the night before. In this dream, he said he felt as if he were experiencing things through the eyes of another person, which, for reasons he couldn't exactly explain, seemed to be an ancestor of his from the remotest antiquity. (NOTE: Justin felt like this person was a chief or even possibly the king of this particular region). As I listened to him recount this dream, it soon became evident that he was describing events that could have occurred during Samhain, one of the fire-festivals* of Celtic paganism (the precursor of today's Hallowe'en) which marked the decline of summer and the beginning of the 'black months' of winter. In the dream, initially, there was much merrymaking, with a great feast of wild boar and flagons of perfumed mead, followed by fantastic games beneath a star-lantern. Now I knew that the sabbat of Samhain, besides being an orgy of feasting and drinking, was a mystical occasion to the Celts of Northern Europe in which the barriers between the living and the dead were down, so that those still alive could make contact with the Other World and, conversely, the dead could gain access through an opened door into our world (this being the reason why children today dress in frightening costumes while trick-or-treating on Hallowe'en, with the treats representing offerings made to the deceased). But I was also aware that there was a darker side to the festivities which allegedly included rituals of human sacrifice in remote woodland sanctuaries. And it soon became clear that Justin had also glimpsed these gruesome spectacles of sacrificial murder in his troubling dream.
Here's how he described it to me over the phone: He was in a cleared area in the depths of a gloomy, moonlit forest where he had been placed inside a cage of sorts. This was a large wickerwork construction in the shape of a mannequin, the effigy of a mighty tribal warrior or king (or some member of the aristocracy) that was then set ablaze by the Druid magician-priests who presided over the rites. (NOTE: Saman is the druidic angel of death). To me this sounded exactly like the descriptions of those barbarous holocausts in shadowy groves attested to by Roman writers of the 1st century AD in which a colossus of wood and straw or interwoven branches (usually constructed in the shape of a grotesque mannequin) was filled with sacrificial victims and set alight, so that those sacrificed to the Gaulish God, Taranis, would be enveloped in a whirlpool of flames.
Detecting the troubling nature of this dream in his voice, I began to explain to Justin about some research I had done into the validity of these "barbarous" rites practiced by the Druid priests (as described by Caesar, Lucan and Strabo). In particular, I told him about a brilliant piece of deductive reasoning by author Jean Markale in his book, "The Pagan Mysteries of Halloween." Markale asks his readers to take a closer look at these human sacrifices that involved the victims being roasted alive in large wickerwork constructions, or "fiery baskets" as one Roman writer described them. To Markale, the key may lie in those marginal members of society, the leper-ropemakers who, being feared by others, were forced to live in the "restricted area" (i.e. outside inhabited areas) where they had the space and resources required for their profession. Markale then tells us that, according to folklore expert, Claude Gaignebet, the Carnival fire (or bonfire) was called a "catanelle" fire, a name for a cabin, or leper's hut in the remote woodlands. Now, these leper-ropemakers were known to have built a type of cabin from hemp, which they then lit while seated inside, inhaling the fumes which in turn induced mild hallucinatory states.
So perhaps the dark hints of human sacrifice described by the Roman chroniclers was purely symbolic (or of a hallucinatory nature), with the king, who was often the victim during the Druidic holiday of Samhain when all things were inverted, undergoing an initiatory death at the hands of the Druid-priests. After inhaling enough of the hemp smoke he experienced an inner vision while taking a journey to the otherside. In this way, there was a renewal of the king's power for the next season, which is what the festival of Samhain was really all about. Or as Markale puts it, " The old king needed to be killed (symbolically) so he can be reborn stronger." This would be achieved by the phantasmagorial visions seen during his contact with the mysterious regions of the Other World.
At this point, Justin stopped me: "I know about the cabins of the lepers... that those burning mannequins were nothing more than gigantic bongs once the ropes of hemp were lit... but you don't understand, Blair, the hemp was soooo shitty... and for a freakin KING at that... it was the most God awful weakest buzz, even for a bloody dream..." Oh, I thought. He was right. European hemp at the time didn't have near the potency of, say, Indian cannabis. So that's what he found so disturbing about this dream of his. Well, maybe they took magic mushrooms to enhance the hallucinogenic effect, I told him. After all, they were in the remote woodlands (and Druid means "knowledge of the oak."). "WICKED!" he replied. And when he hung up I'll bet he felt much better about the true meaning of the Samhain rituals.
* The other fire-festival being Beltane, held at the beginning of May.
Shocking. Dreadful. Terrible. Words that could best describe what happened on that day nearly a decade ago. I've never told this one before, because the events that unfolded on that afternoon are still so traumatic to both Danny and myself. Now I'm sorry if I sound as if I'm being overly dramatic, but the scars still run deep, and, for reasons that I'm about to explain, no one should be more traumatized by the ordeal than myself. If you don't think this story is true, I really don't blame you. Given what we know today, it seems utterly impossible that it could have happened as it did. In fact, it boggles the mind. But rest assure, it did happen. It did happen...
It all began with a phone conversation I had with the owner of a used book store in Ventura, Ca. During the course of our friendly conversation, which was primarily about a vintage book of flying saucers, I asked if he had anything by Aleister Crowley on his shelves. Well, he did have one rather interesting piece he said. This was the galley proof to Liber XXI, and what was even more interesting, was that it contained marginal notations written in Crowley's own hand (or so he believed). These were some corrections that were to be made before the book went to its final printing stage that Crowley had jotted down in pencil. (NOTE: Liber XXI, or Khing Kang King, The classic of Purity... was originally published by the O.T.O., London in 1939 in a limited print run of only 100 copies, a few of which were issued with an original pen and ink or watercolor drawing by the author [Aleister Crowley] on the back of the frontispiece). So I asked how much he wanted for it. He wasn't sure of the selling price yet, was his answer, but that it would probably be at least a few hundred dollars. Knowing that this book dealer would have a booth at the next book fair down here in L.A., I asked him if he would bring it with him so that I might have a look at it. He said that he would, and that I could examine it then.
It was a sunny day in November (that is, before a cloud of darkness descended over us like a shroud of ignominy that we both still wear to this very day). Danny and I were at the Burbank Book Fair, looking for anything by Crowley, Grant, or Spare to add to our ever-growing collections. (NOTE: in those early days of our bibliomania we didn't fully appreciate true first editions [or maybe we just couldn't afford them] and were often content with the 60s and 70s reprints). Before we began the process of checking the shelves of each booth for any hidden occult treasures, I went looking for the dealer from Ventura with the galley proof of Liber XXI. After finding him, I introduced myself as the guy who he had spoken to on the phone about the Crowley piece. He then reached under a table and found a large folder from which he carefully removed the galley proofs. These turned out to be nine individual sheets (the same number of pages that comprised the published version of the book), a few of which did have notations faintly written in pencil. Now to tell the truth, what I was really looking for (hoping for) was to find an original pen and ink (or better yet, a watercolor) drawing on one of the pages. But there was none. (NOTE: of course there wasn't one! These were galley proofs, but back then I was still new to the game). So for whatever reason, I told the book dealer that it was the original drawing that made the book so special. He disagreed, claiming that there were a hundred copies of the book, and at least several of them that contained the original drawings, but there was only one galley proof, which made his copy even rarer, and, consequently, worth more. Realizing that he had a valid point, I asked him how much he wanted for it? $600.00 was his firm answer. And that price was only for me, he said, because of our earlier conversation. I told him that I wasn't interested in it at that price, but would he be willing to sell it to a good friend of mine for the same amount? He said he would if my friend wanted to pick it up now. So I went and found Danny, so that he could check it out for himself.
Now here's where the story gets really frightening. Oh, I'm horror-stricken just thinking about it. Danny carefully examined the loose sheets, seemingly more interested in the marginal notations than anything else. Since neither of us had enough experience back then to know whether or not these pencil scrawls were in Crowley's own hand, Danny told the dealer that he would have to think about it, and that maybe he'd be back in a an hour or so. So we left... However, we didn't actually leave the bookfair, we just went outside to have a sandwich and beer. While doing so, we began to think about it some more. Khing Kang King was a rare motherf*****. What if we never found a bound copy (with or without an original drawing). Perhaps he'd better take a chance and jump on this one. Danny finally agreed. So AFTER FINISHING OUR SANDWICH AND BEER, we went back inside and approached the dealer. We were too late, he told us. He'd just sold it to another book dealer (who's name he wouldn't disclose) who had chanced to see it after he'd set it down on the table. This dealer was willing to pay even more, or so our book seller informed us.
Years later, Danny and I learned that a Crowley collector (who we believe to be Jimmy Page) paid many thousands of dollars for the galley proofs. Today, an ordinary copy, if you can find one- and, so far, neither of us ever have, might go for somewhere between **************************! This was truly the one that got away. Shameful! Unworthy! Humiliating!
This story contains another nightmare, or, to be more precise, two separate nightmares: A nightmare of mine that soon became a nightmare of Adam's. Some readers of the site may recall an article I posted a couple of months ago about the pre-Deluge agate art stone of the 'Shaver Mystery' that Adam purchased at a flea market near Casa Diablo (which I still believe is a little north of Bishop, California). For those who didn't get a chance to read the posting, I will now give a brief description of the 'Shaver Mystery' or 'Shaver Hoax', depending on which point of view you take. Richard Shaver was a spot-welder who, while during one of the more down and out periods of his life, found himself haunted by strange, far-off voices, screams of agony, and bizarre visions of some mysterious unknown world. These, he later came to learn, were emanating from a cavern world that was built just beneath ours.
As he recounted the story in a pulp magazine from the 1940s, the earth was once inhabited by a great race of beings who were known as the Elder Gods. But then the sun began to change, throwing off ejecta of detrimental radiation that eventually caused the Elder Gods to leave the Earth in search of another planet to live on (but not before they buried their marvelous technology to keep it safe from any future surface dwellers). However, not all of the beings were able to seek refuge in their fleet of spacecraft. Some of them, the more robotic clone-type workers of the Elder Gods were forced to bore underground, fashioning a cavern network that shielded them from the sun's poisonous rays. Over successive generations, these beings deteriorated both physically and mentally, and became known as 'deros' (a contraction of the words DEgenerate RObotS). In their degenerate state, the "psychotic dwarfs" began to torment those who remained on the surface. Over the centuries, many of these people were kidnapped and subjected to unimaginable torture and sadistic sexual orgies at the hands of the dero. So many so, that according to Shaver and others, the dero became the foundation of the Biblical devil and hell itself when these stories began to filter back to the surface dwellers.
Now of course, this whole business of the 'Shaver Mystery" reads like third-rate science fiction, and that was always my opinion of the entire thing - it was just one of the more fringe aspects of ufology in the 40s and 50s. But after Adam bought the slice of agate ( the 'dero art stone' which was a mounted wall plaque), he soon found himself having a series of lucid dreams. In fact, for months, we jokingly attributed this sudden increase in lucid dreaming to his new 'dero' stone.
Then one night while working on a Tool-related project up at Adam's manse, I happened to crash out on a couch in his living room. As I slept, I soon began to have really bizarre dreams. In these I seemed to glimpse the denizens of Shaver's cavern world. But was I merely dreaming this or was I experiencing visual projections beamed by the deros' 'mech' (Shaver's term for the technology left behind by the Elder Gods)? Soon I found myself in a kind of murkiness, surrounded by dissolving views of garish imagery: hideous viridescent specters with enormous bulbous black eyes and a multitude of bizarre variegated masks distorted as if in the mirrors of some alien funhouse. In the darkness I started to panic, flailing blindly at the ghastly repellent deformities that were all around me. Suddenly I heard the sound of something crashing... and then the 'cavern' I was in was filled with a brilliant light. And there was Adam standing there, looking at me as if I had gone stark raving mad. Evidently, I was having a bad dream and was sleepwalking in his house. Somehow I had managed to negotiate the flight of stairs that led to a room on the bottom floor. The very room where he kept his amazing collection of sci-fi toys, models, sculptures and horror and fantasy movie props. Looking down, I saw that I was standing amid a pile of shattered plaster - the remains of his prized possession that I had knocked off a pedestal. This was a life-cast of Vincent Price. And that was Adam's worse nightmare.
So I asked Maynard about his worst nightmare, explaining it was for the hell-oween newsletter. In a soft monotone he replied, " My worst nightmare would have to be those newsletters of yours, Blair." He then began a steady list of my past improprieties: " First you gave away the secret ingredient in my cookies in that Justin piece you did a couple of years ago. Last summer you wrote about my purchasing a guitar in London in which the price turned out to be exactly 666 LBS. That was okay, but you included a scan of my graphite AMEX card receipt on the site without blacking out the card number. So dozens of people were charging things to my account before I figured out what happened and had it removed from the site. That one wasn't too pleasant, I must say. Then you mentioned that I had whispered a barely audible message on 'No Quarter' from the Salival boxset. And we know what happened after people began listening to it, don't we.
Same thing with the subliminal thing on Lateralus. I thought you would have learned something from the 'No Quarter' experience, but apparently you didn't. Also, there was the thing about the mathematical formula encoded in the insert catalogue on the European issue of Aenima. Fortunately, nobody's figured that one out yet. In last year's X-mas issue, you gave away the source of the drone on Mantra before I had you change it to a multiple choice question. Recently you posted a scan of my latest ***** passes which people began to duplicate at home. So we had to take that off the site and re-design the things (and I really liked the designs the way they WERE). Not knowing anything about premium wines, in the last newsletter you had me ordering a bottle of Aste Spumante at the Italian restaurant. Not to mention you almost gave away the location of my Arizona home by mentioning that hill before I had Chris remove the reference. And I just know you secretly encoded the CO-ordinates of my favorite British pub in that piece you called "The Green Kiss." And not only that, Blair, you've all but given away what my favorite British dish is with that ***** bit. I'm surprised you just didn't say that it was the other pink meat. I don't know what you're planning for the Hallowe'en issue, but either go to Tibet and find some mariphasa or I'm going to buy myself some silver bullets." Click! Buzz...