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To: alt.horror.cthulhu,alt.magick.tyagi,alt.necronomicon,alt.necromicon
From: (ny'rl'toth'p)
Date: 29 Mar 1997 09:55:43 -0800

Jose Cuervo :
>   Yes there was a real Necronomicon.  It was a collection of poems and
>   historical events written down by an Arab on drugs.  The last copy I
>   heard of was lost during WWI, when Hitlar was collecting occult
>   objects.  I have a nice artical on the subject. I'll try to post it in
>   a few days. 

Donovan Loucks  writes:
>Funny how this article never showed up...

perhaps he was talking about this Low blow?

[from (reformatted)]

                   	THE NECRONOMICON ANTI-FAQ 
   Each thing evokes its opposite
   Kendrick's Nemesis
   Reasons are dried gripes
   Q. What is the Necronomicon?
   Q. Where and when was the Necronomicon written?
   Q. Who was Abdul Alhazred?
   Q. What is the printing history of the Necronomicon?
   Q. What is the content of the Necronomicon?
   Q. What are the "Old Ones"?
   Q. How are the "Old Ones" Evoked?
   Q. Why is the Necronomicon connected with Norse mythology?
   Q. Why did the novelist H.P. Lovecraft claim to have invented the
   Q. Who was Nathan of Gaza?
   Q. Where can the Necronomicon be found?
   The Sigellum Dei Aemeth
   The Necronomicon of Alhazred, (literally: "Book of Dead Names") is
   not, as is popularly believed, a grimoire, or sorcerer's spell-book.
   It was conceived as a history, and hence "a book of things now dead
   and gone". An alternative derivation of the word Necronomicon gives as
   its meaning "the book of the customs of the dead", but again this is
   consistent with the book's original conception as a history, not as a
   work of necromancy.
   The author of the book shared with Madame Blavatsky a magpie-like
   tendency to garner and stitch together fact, rumour, speculation, and
   complete balderdash, and the result is a vast and almost unreadable
   compendium of near-nonsense which bears more than a superficial
   resemblance to Blavatsky's The Secret Doctrine.
   In times past the book has been referred to guardedly as Al Azif , and
   also The Book of the Arab. Azif is a word the Arabs use to refer to
   nocturnal insects, but it is also a reference to the howling of demons
   (Djinn). The Necronomicon was written in seven volumes, and runs to
   over 900 pages in the Latin edition.
   The Necronomicon was written in Damascus in 730 A.D. by Abdul
   Little is known. What we do know about him is largely derived from the
   small amount of biographical information in the Necronomicon itself.
   He was born in Sanaa in the Yemen. We know that he travelled widely,
   from Alexandria to the Punjab, and was well read. He spent many years
   alone in the uninhabited wilderness to the south of Arabia. He had a
   flair for languages, and boasts on many occasions of his ability to
   read and translate manuscripts which defied lesser scholars. His
   research methodology however smacked more of Nostradamus than
   As Nostradamus himself puts it in Quatrains 1 & 2:
     "Sitting alone at night in secret study;
     it is placed on the brass tripod.
     A slight flame comes out of the emptiness
     and makes successful that which should
     not be believed in vain.
     The wand in the hand is placed
     in the middle of the tripod's legs.
     With water he sprinkles both the hem
     of his garment and his foot.
     A voice, fear; he trembles in his robes.
     Divine splendour; the god sits nearby."
   Just as Nostradamus used ceremonial magic to probe the future, so
   Alhazred used similar techniques (and an incense composed of olibanum,
   storax, dictamnus, opium and hashish) to clarify the past, and it is
   this, combined with a lack of references, which has resulted in the
   Necronomicon being dismissed as largely worthless by historians.
   He is often referred to as "the mad Arab" or "the mad Poet", and while
   he was certainly eccentric by modern standards, there is no evidence
   to substantiate a claim of madness (other than his chronic inability
   to sustain a train of thought for more than a few paragraphs before
   leaping off at a tangent). It is interesting that the word for madness
   ("majnun") has an older meaning of "djinn possessed", the significance
   of which will become clear below (see What are the Old Ones?).

   Alhazred is better compared with figures such as the Greek
   neoplatonist philosopher Proclus (410 - 485 A.D.). Proclus was
   completely at home in astronomy, mathematics, philosophy, and
   metaphysics, but was sufficiently well-versed in the magical
   techniques of theurgy to evoke Hekate to visible appearance. Proclus
   was also an initiate of Egyptian and Chaldean mystery religions. It is
   no accident that Alhazred was intimately familar with the works of
   No Arabic manuscript is known to exist. The author Idries Shah carried
   out a search in the libraries of Deobund in India, Al-Azhar in Egypt,
   and the Library of the Holy City of Mecca, without success. A Latin
   translation was made in 1487 (not in the 17th. century as Lovecraft
   maintains) by a Dominican priest Olaus Wormius. Wormius, a German by
   birth, was a secretary to the first Grand Inquisitor of the Spanish
   Inquisition, Tomas de Torquemada, and it is likely that the manuscript
   of the Necronomicon came into his possession during the persecution of
   Spanish Moors ("Moriscos") who had been converted to Catholicism under
   duress and did not exhibit the necessary level of enthusiasm for the
   doctrines of the Church.
   It was an act of sheer folly for Wormius to translate and print the
   Necronomicon at that time and place. The book must have held an
   obsessive fascination for the man, because he was finally charged with
   heresy and burned after sending a copy of the book to Johann Tritheim,
   Abbot of Spanheim (better known as "Trithemius"). The accompanying
   letter contained a detailed and blasphemous interpretation of certain
   passages in the Book of Genesis. Virtually all the copies of Wormius's
   translation were seized and burned with him, although there is the
   inevitable suspicion that at least one copy must have found its way
   into the Vatican Library.

   John Dee
   Almost one hundred years later, in 1586, a copy of Wormius's Latin
   translation surfaced in Prague. Dr. John Dee (left), the famous
   English magician, and his assistant Edward Kelly (below, right) were
   at the court of the Emperor Rudolph II to discuss plans for making
   alchemical gold, and Kelly bought the copy from the so-called "Black
   Rabbi", the Kabbalist and alchemist Jacob Eliezer, who had fled to
   Prague from Italy after accusations of necromancy. At that time Prague
   had become a magnet for magicians, alchemists and charlatans of every
   kind under the patronage of Rudolph, and it is hard to imagine a more
   likely place in Europe for a copy to surface. Edward Kelly
   The Necronomicon appears to have had a marked influence on Kelly,
   because the character of his scrying changed, and he produced an
   extraordinary communication which struck horror into the Dee
   household. Crowley interpeted this as an abortive first attempt of an
   extra-human entity to communicate the Thelemic Book of the Law. Kelly
   left Dee shortly afterwards. Dee translated the Necronomicon into
   English while warden of Christ's College, Manchester, but contrary to
   Lovecraft, this translation was never printed - the manuscript passed
   into the collection of the great collector Elias Ashmole, and hence to
   the Bodleian Library in Oxford.
   Parts of the Necronomicon were translated into Hebrew (probably in
   1664) and circulated in manuscript form, accompanied by an extensive
   commentary by Nathan of Gaza, mystical apologist for the
   pseudo-messiah Sabbatai Tzevi. This version was titled the Sepher
   ha-Sha'are ha-Daath, (the Book of the Gates of Knowledge). The story
   surrounding this version is so unusual that it is treated fully below
   (see Who was Nathan of Gaza).
   There are many modern fakes masquerading as the Necronomicon. They can
   be recognised by a total lack of imagination or intelligence,
   qualities Alhazred possessed in abundance.
   The book is best known for its antediluvian speculations. Alhazred
   appears to have had access to many sources now lost, and events which
   are only hinted at in Genesis or the apocryphal Book of Enoch, or
   disguised as mythology in other sources, are explored in great detail.
   Alhazred may have used dubious magical techniques to clarify the past,
   but he also shared with the 5th. century B.C. Greek writers such as
   Thucydides a critical mind, and a willingness to explore the meanings
   of mythological and sacred stories. His speculations are remarkably
   modern, and this may account for his current popularity. He believed
   that many species besides the human race had inhabited the Earth, and
   that much knowledge was passed to mankind in encounters with beings
   from "beyond the spheres" or from "other spheres". He shared with some
   Neoplatonists the belief that the stars are similar to our sun, and
   have their own unseen planets with their own lifeforms, but elaborated
   this belief with a good deal of metaphysical speculation in which
   these beings were part of a cosmic hierarchy of spiritual evolution.
   He was also convinced that he had contacted beings he called the "Old
   Ones" using magical invocations, and warned of terrible powers waiting
   to return to re-claim the Earth. He interpreted this belief (most
   surprisingly!) in the light of the Apocalypse of St. John, but
   reversed the ending so that the Beast triumphs after a great war in
   which the earth is laid waste.
   It is abundantly clear that Alhazred elaborated upon existing
   traditions of the "Old Ones", and he did not invent these traditions.
   According to Alhazred, the Old Ones were beings from "beyond the
   spheres", presumably the spheres of the planets, and in the
   cosmography of that period this would imply the region of the fixed
   stars or beyond. They were superhuman and extrahuman. They mated with
   humans and begat monstrous offspring. They passed forbidden knowledge
   to humankind. They were forever seeking a channel into our plane of
   This is virtually identical to the Jewish tradition of the Nephilim
   (the giants of Genesis 6.2 - 6.5). The word literally means "the
   Fallen Ones" and is derived from the Hebrew verb root naphal, to fall.
   The story in Genesis is only a fragment of a larger tradition, another
   piece of which can be found in the apocryphal Book of Enoch. According
   to this source, a group of angels sent to watch over the Earth saw the
   daughters of men and lusted after them. Unwilling to act individually,
   they swore an oath and bound themselves together, and two hundred of
   these "Watchers" descended to earth and took themselves wives. Their
   wives bore giant offspring. The giants turned against nature and began
   to "sin against birds and beasts and reptiles and fish, and to devour
   one another's flesh, and drink the blood". The fallen angels taught
   how to make weapons of war, and jewellery, and cosmetics, and
   enchantments, and astrology, and other secrets.
   These separate legends are elaborated in later Jewish sources such as
   the Talmud, which make it clear that Enoch and Genesis refer to the
   same tradition. The great flood of Genesis was a direct response to
   the evil caused by humankind's commerce with fallen angels. The fallen
   angels were cast out and bound:
     "And I proceeded to where things were chaotic. And I saw something
     horrible: I saw neither a heaven above nor a firmly founded earth,
     but a place chaotic and horrible. And there I saw seven stars of the
     heaven bound together in it, like great mountains, and burning with
     fire. Then I said: 'For what sin have they been bound, and on what
     account have they been cast in hither?' Then said Uriel, one of the
     holy angels who was with me, and was chief over them and said:
     'Enoch, why dost thou ask, and why art thou eager for the truth?
     These are the number of the stars of heaven which have transgressed
     the commandment of the Lord, and are bound here till ten thousand
     years, the time entailed by their sins, are consummated.'"
   Arab traditions hold that the Jinn or Djinn were a race of superhuman
   beings which existed before the creation of humankind. The Djinn were
   created from fire. Some traditions make them a lesser race than human
   beings, but folk-tales invariably endowed them with unlimited magical
   powers, and the Djinn survive to this day as the genies of the Arabian
   Nights and Disney's Aladdin. Islam has subordinated the Djinn to the
   Koran, and like elves and fairies they have lost their dark and
   extremely sinister qualities with the passage of time. In Alhazred's
   time the older and darker traditions of the Djinn were still current,
   and Arab magicians ("muqarribun") would attempt to gain forbidden
   knowledge and power through commerce with the Djinn.

   It is now generally agreed by occult scholars that the Enochian system
   of Dee and Kelly was directly inspired by those sections of the
   Necronomicon which deal with Alhazred's techniques for evoking the
   Old Ones. It must be remembered that the Necronomicon was primarily
   intended as a history, and while it provides some practical details
   and formulae, it is hardly a step-by-step beginner's guide to
   summoning praetor-human intelligences. Dee and Kelly had to fill in
   many details themselves, so their system is a hybrid of ideas taken
   from the Necronomicon and techniques of their own invention There
   seems little doubt that the Sigellum Dei Aemeth (above), the Enochian
   language, and the Enochian Calls or Keys are authentic borrowings, and
   we must doubt Dee's claim that Kelly received them from the archangel
   Uriel. Bulwer Lytton, who studied Dee's manuscript of the Necronomicon
   in the last century, asserts bluntly that they were transcribed
   directly from the book, and if they were received from Uriel, then it
   was Alhazred who did the receiving!.
   The very name of their system, "Enochian", is a clue, if there were no
   other, that it was inspired by the age-old traditions recorded in the
   Book of Enoch, and it was Dee and Kelly's intention to contact the
   Nephilim, or Great Old Ones. The manuscript of the Book of Enoch was
   lost until the late 17th. century, and Dee would have had access to
   only the few fragments quoted in other manuscripts, so the name of
   their system would be somewhat enigmatic if we did not know that they
   had access to Alhazred's compilation of legends concerning the Fall
   and the end of the world. There is no doubt that Alhazred would have
   had access to the Book of Enoch, as it was current throughout the
   Middle East in the ninth century.
   Another clue can be found in the Call of the Thirty Aethyrs, the
   nineteenth of the Enochian Calls. Aleister Crowley called this Call
   "the original curse on the Creation". It is uttered as if by God, and
   is an appalling (and immensely literate [1] ) curse on the world,
   humankind, and all its creatures, ending, "And why? It repenteth me
   that I have made Man."
   This is identical to the sentiment of Genesis 6.6 where it states "And
   it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved
   him at his heart". This verse immediately follows the verses which
   describe the evil done by the Nephilim and the resulting sinfulness of
   the world, and it is followed by God's decision to wipe out all the
   life on earth with a great flood. Aleister Crowley, using his immense
   knowledge of the Bible, recognised the Call of the Thirty Aethyrs for
   what it was: God's curse on the Nephilim and the evil they had caused.
   It was this curse which cast them out of the earth and consigned them
   to the Abyss.
   It is difficult to underrate this clue. To summarise: the key or gate
   to exploring the thirty Aethyrs is a Call in the Enochian language,
   said by Dee to be the language of the angels, and this Call is the
   curse by which the Nephilim were assigned to the Abyss in the first
   place. This is consistent with an age-old practice for controlling
   demonic power: whatever means have been used to subordinate an entity
   in the past can be used by the magician as a method of control. This
   formula is used in almost every mediaeval grimoire. In some cases the
   magician is quite explicit in naming precisely those occasions where
   the entity has been controlled by means of a formula. The entry into
   the thirty Aethyrs begins with a divine curse because it is a means to
   assert control over the entities it evokes: the Nephilim. The Fallen
   Ones. The Great Old Ones. This establishes beyond any doubt that the
   Enochian system of Dee and Kelly was identical in spirit, and almost
   certainly in practice, to the system of Alhazred as described in the
   Crowley knew. One of his most important pieces of magical work
   (recorded in The Vision and the Voice) was his attempt to penetrate
   the Aethyrs using the Enochian Calls. He did this while crossing the
   North African desert in the company of the poet Victor Neuberg. Why
   the desert? Crowley says he had "no special magical object" in going
   there, and he "just happened" to have the Enochian Calls in his
   rucksack. He is dissembling. He chose the desert for this work because
   he had had difficulty in entering into the 28th. Aethyr during his
   initial investigations in Mexico, and wanted to reproduce Alhazred's
   praxis as closely as possible. Alhazred carried out his more
   significant investigations while wandering in the Rub al Khali, a vast
   and empty desert wasteland in the south of Arabia - the remoteness
   from other human beings helped to shift his consciousness into the
   utterly alien perspectives of the Aethyrs. Crowley had read Alhazred's
   account (see below) and it was in his nature to attempt to emulate
   people he particularly respected and admired - he spent a good part of
   his life trying to outdo the exploits of Richard Burton, the explorer,
   adventurer, writer, linguist and field researcher into obscure
   oriental sexual practices.

   The apocalyptic nature of Norse myth, and detailed comparisons between
   Ragnorok and events prophesised by Alhazred, have caused a number of
   commentators to speculate whether there might be a connection, however
   unlikely this must seem at first sight. Recent research has revealed a
   bizarre and completely unexpected link.
   In Norse myth the gods of the earth and humankind, the Aesir and
   Vanas, exist against a backdrop of older, hostile powers, represented
   by the frost and fire giants who dwelled to the north and south of the
   Great Abyss Ginnunga-gap, and also by Loki (fire) and his monstrous
   offspring. At Ragnarok, the twilight of the gods, these old powers
   return once more and lock in mortal combat. Most deadly of these
   adversaries is Surtur and the fire giants of Muspelheim, who complete
   the destruction of the world.
   This is essentially Alhazred's prophecy of the return of the Old Ones.
   This is Crowley's prophecy of the Aeon of Horus, the god of conquering
   fire. The fire giants of Muspelheim are none other than the Djinn, and
   it is even plausible that Surtur is a corruption of Surturiel. Uriel,
   the angel set to watch over the Nephilim, is named after the Hebrew
   word for fire. Like Surtur, he carries a fiery sword.
   Uriel comes up again and again in connection with the Necronomicon.
   While ostensibly one of the mighty archangels of the Presence of God,
   there is a shadow side which surfaces from time to time and one
   wonders whether he guards the Nephilim or commands them. This could
   reflect our ambivalence towards fire, but it could also be that angels
   and Old Ones are the flip sides of the same coin.
   These links between Alhazred's Necronomicon and the myth of Ragnorok,
   frail though they may seem, are no longer believed to be a
   coincidence, and the story of how the Necronomicon arrived in Iceland
   is quite remarkable. The story begins in the town of Harran in
   northern Mesopotamia.
   The town of Harran was remarkable in that while the rest of the region
   was conquered by the Arabs in 633-643 A.D. and converted to Islam, the
   Harranians did not. They continued to practice paganism and worshipped
   the moon and the seven planets. Even more remarkable was the fact that
   they possessed large numbers of hermetic and neoplatonic documents,
   and when they were eventually pressed (in A.D. 830) to name a prophet
   "approved" by the Koran, they named Hermes Trimegistus and his teacher
   Agathos Daemon. Many Harranians moved to Baghdad where they maintained
   a distinct community and were known as Sabians. Their familiarity with
   Greek gave them access to a wide range of literature, and many became
   famous in areas such as philosophy, logic, astronomy, mathematics and
   medicine. Alhazred speaks of the Sabians and describes them as being
   "famous for lore and knowledge of things long gone". It is highly
   probable he studied with them. It was a learned community that had
   managed to maintain direct links with the paganism, philosophy and
   secret traditions of both the Arab and Greek worlds long after they
   had been proscribed elsewhere.
   The Sabians survived as a distinct community up to the 11th. century,
   but the forces of Islamic orthodoxy increased to the point where we
   hear nothing of them after about the year 1050. It was about that time
   (Norse sources imply a date of 1041 or 1042) that a large body of
   documents arrived in Byzantium and came into the hands of Michael
   Psellus, the famous historian, neoplatonist and demonologist. The bulk
   of the documents formed what has know come to be known as the Corpus
   Hermeticum, but there were other documents, including a Syriac copy
   of Al Azif, which Psellus promptly translated into Greek. There seems
   little doubt that a prominent Sabian must have moved from Baghdad to
   Byzantium in a search for a more tolerant atmosphere. Whether he found
   it is unclear!
   The 11th. century was what the Chinese call "interesting times". Duke
   William of Normandy invaded England and killed King Harold Godwinson.
   King Harold Godwinson's daughter married Prince Vladimir Monomakh of
   Kiev (whose own mother was the daughter of Constantine IX Monomachus
   of Byzantium). The Russians, assisted by large numbers of
   Scandanavians, invaded Byzantium in 1043, an event witnessed by
   Michael Psellus himself standing at the side of the Emperor. Harald
   Hadrada ("the Ruthless"), who later became king of Norway, joined the
   Byzantine army with a large following of northmen ("Varanger"),
   campaigned widely, and ripped out the eyes of the Byzantine emperor
   Michael Caliphates in 1042. King Harald Hadrada of Norway invaded
   England in 1066 and was killed by King Harold Godwinson ... who was
   killed by Duke William at the Battle of Hastings. There are few soap
   operas to compare with these pan-European goings-on. So much for the
   Dark Ages.
   The popular image of Vikings in furry jerkins and horned helmets is
   inaccurate. They were among the best equipped and most experienced
   heavy infantry available at that time. Their trade routes spanned
   thousands of miles, from North America, to Greenland, Britain and
   Ireland, the entire Atlantic coast of Europe, and through Russia to
   Byzantium. They were employed in significant numbers as bodyguards
   (Varanger) to the Byzantine emperors. Most Varanger spoke fluent
   Greek. The exact year in which Harald went to Byzantium is unclear due
   to a minor mismatch between Norse and Byzantine sources, but the
   account in the Heimskringla claims he served the Empress Zoe the Great
   sometime around 1030-40. The description of their arrival in longships
   is spell-binding:
     "Iron shielded vessels
     Flaunted colourful rigging.
     The great prince saw ahead
     The copper roofs of Byzantium;
     His swan-breasted ships swept
     Towards the tall-towered city."
   It was the custom in those days that when the Emperor died, the
   Varanger were permitted to plunder the palace and anything they laid
   hands on, they could keep. These were turbulent and violent times
   (with the Empress Zoe strangling husbands in the bath) and Harald took
   part in three such plunders. According to the chronicle he amassed
   great wealth.
   Harald had two close companions, Halldor Snorrason and Ulf Ospaksson.
   Halldor was blunt, imperturbable and dour to the point of rudeness,
   the son of Snorri the Priest, a leading Icelandic chieftain. Ulf was
   extremely shrewd and well-spoken and eventually married Harald's
   sister-in-law, becoming a Marshall of Norway. He was an incorrigible
   schemer, a keen poet, fluent in Greek, and he like to spend time with
   Psellus, partly to discuss Greek poetry, but mainly to keep a finger
   on the pulse of Byzantine palace politics. He watched Psellus
   translating Al Azif, discussed its contents, and in the confusion of a
   palace plunder arranged for a number of Psellus's manuscripts to be
   "removed". Fortunately Psellus still had the original Syriac version,
   otherwise the Necronomicon would have been lost to history.
   At this point we must conjecture. We do not know how Halldor obtained
   Al Azif. We know that Ulf and Halldor returned to Norway with
   Harald, and Halldor went back to Iceland, taking with him the story of
   Harald's adventure and a great deal besides. We know this because
   Halldor's descendent was Snorri Sturluson (1179 - 1241), the most
   famous figure in Icelandic literature and the author not only of the
   Heimskringla and many other important works but author of the Prose
   Edda and the source for almost all of our surviving knowledge of
   Norse myth. It is known that Sturluson had a large quantity of
   material available for his historic researches, and we can now be
   reasonably certain that elements from the Necronomicon were mingled
   with traditional Norse myth in Sturluson's description of Ragnarok.
   What happened to the purloined manuscript of Michael Psellus? Good
   question ...
   The answer to this interesting question lies in two people: the poet
   and magician Aleister Crowley, and a Brooklyn milliner called Sonia
   Greene. There is no question that Crowley read Dee's translation of
   the Necronomicon in the Bodleian, probably while researching Dee's
   papers; too many passages in Crowley's "Book of the Law" read like a
   transcription of passages in that translation. Either that, or
   Crowley, who claimed to remember his life as Edward Kelly in a
   previous incarnation, remembered it from his previous life!
   Why doesn't Crowley mention the Necronomicon in his works? He was
   surprisingly reticent about his real sources. There is a strong
   suspicion that '777', which Crowley claimed to have written, was
   largely plagiarised from Allan Bennet's notes. His spiritual debt to
   Nietzsche, which in an unguarded moment Crowley refers to as "almost
   an avatar of Thoth, the god of wisdom" is studiously ignored; likewise
   the influence of Richard Burton's "Kasidah" on his doctrine of True
   I suspect that the Necronomicon became an embarrassment to Crowley
   when he realised the extent to which he had unconsciously incorporated
   passages from the Necronomicon into "The Book of the Law".
   In 1918 Crowley was in New York. As always, he was trying to establish
   his literary reputation, and was contributing to The International and
   Vanity Fair. Sonia Greene was an energetic and ambitious Jewish emigre
   with literary ambitions, and she had joined a dinner and lecture club
   called "Walker's Sunrise Club" (?!); it was there that she first
   encountered Crowley, who had been invited to give a talk on modern
   It was a good match. In a letter to Norman Mudd, Crowley describes his
   ideal woman as
     "... rather tall, muscular and plump, vivacious, ambitious,
     energetic, passionate, age from thirty to thirty five, probably a
     Jewess, not unlikely a singer or actress addicted to such
     amusements. She is to be 'fashionable', perhaps a shade loud or
     vulgar. Very rich of course."
   Sonia was not an actress or singer, but qualified in other respects.
   She was earning what, for that time, was an enormous sum of money as a
   designer and seller of woman's hats. She was variously described as
   "Junoesque", "a woman of great charm and personal magnetism",
   "genuinely glamorous with powerful feminine allure", "one of the most
   beautiful women I have ever met", and "a learned but eccentric human
   phonograph". In 1918 she was thirty-five years old and a divorcee with
   an adolescent daughter. Crowley did not waste time as far as women
   were concerned; they met on an irregular basis for some months.
   In 1921 Sonia Greene met the novelist H.P. Lovecraft, and in that same
   year Lovecraft published the first novel where he mentions Abdul
   Alhazred ("The Nameless City"). In 1922 he first mention the
   Necronomicon ("The Hound"). On March 3rd. 1924, H.P. Lovecraft and
   Sonia Greene married.
   We do not know what Crowley told Sonia Greene, and we do not know what
   Sonia told Lovecraft. However, consider the following quotation from
   "The Call of Cthulhu" [1926]:
     "That cult would never die until the stars came right again
     [precession of the Equinoxes?], and the secret priests would take
     Cthulhu from His tomb to revive His subjects and resume His rule of
     earth. The time would be easy to know, for then mankind would have
     become as the Great Old Ones; free and wild, and beyond good and
     evil, with laws and morals thrown aside and all men shouting and
     killing and revelling in joy. Then the liberated Old Ones would
     teach them new ways to shout and kill and revel and enjoy
     themselves, and all earth would flame with a holocaust of ecstacy
     and freedom."
   It may be brief, it may be mangled, but it has the undeniable ring of
   Crowley's "Book of the Law". It is easy to imagine a situation where
   Sonia and Lovecraft are laughing and talking in a firelit room about a
   new story, and Sonia introduces some ideas based on what Crowley had
   told her; she wouldn't even have to mention Crowley, just enough of
   the ideas to spark Lovecraft's imagination. There is no evidence that
   Lovecraft ever saw the Necronomicon, or even knew that the book
   existed; his Necronomicon is remarkably close to the spirit of the
   original, but the details are pure invention, as one would expect.
   There is no Yog-Sothoth or Azathoth or Nyarlathotep in the original,
   but there is an Aiwaz...
   Nathan of Gaza precipitated one of the most profound events in the
   history of Judaism. In 1665, while only 21 or 22 years old, he
   proclaimed that Sabbatai Tzevi was the Messiah. In itself this would
   not have been extraordinary, as there had been other messianic
   claimants in the past, but due to the extraordinary personalities of
   Nathan and Sabbatai Tzevi, the news of the Messiah's coming spread
   like wildfire all over Europe. The repercussions of this event lasted
   for centuries. Judaism would never be the same.
   Nathan was born in Jerusalem in 1643 or 1644. He married the daughter
   of a wealthy merchant in Gaza and moved there. He was a brilliant
   student of Torah and Talmud, and took up the study of Kabbalah in
   1664. The atmosphere at that time was charged with the expectation of
   the coming of the Messiah. The brilliant and charismatic Kabbalist
   Isaac Luria had hinted that the process of restoration was near to
   completion, and the time of the redemption and the Messiah was nigh.
   One of the key attributes of Luria's Kabbalah was the belief that, due
   to a primordial catastrophe during the creation of the universe, the
   souls of human beings had become immersed in a grossly material world
   which was nigh to the realm of the Klippoth. The Klippoth were the
   source of evil. The word means a husk or shell, and the implication is
   that the Klippoth were the husks or shells of materiality which
   ensnare the spirit.
   Luria's Kabbalah was based on very old traditions. One such tradition
   was that God created several worlds before this one, but they were
   unbalanced, unstable, and disintegrated. The 3rd. century Rabbi Abbahu
   wrote "God made many worlds and destroyed them until he made the
   present universe". This was combined with the Biblical legend of the
   Kings of Edom which were but are no more, to produce a highly
   elaborate myth concerning the creation of the universe. The quality
   that Kabbalists call Din, or judgement, is that quality which
   separates on thing from another. The Klippoth represent an extreme
   embodiment of this quality. The creation of the universe was
   essentially a process of definition and separation, and hence an
   expression of Din, but the powers of Din were too concentrated for a
   viable universe and had to be separated out for a second, viable
   creation to take place. These concentrated shards of the original
   creation, pure Din, fell into the abyss. Unfortunately some sparks of
   light fell with them, so that the Klippoth were more than just empty
   shells. They had life. Not much life, but enough. Human sinfulness
   reinforces the Klippoth because it transfers some of our life to them.
   If I am selfish, for example, I am creating a separation between
   myself and another, so the Klippoth are reinforced by my selfishness.
   The need to free the sparks of light from the Klippoth was one of the
   dominant themes of Kabbalah. It was believed that living according to
   the commandments of the Torah and combining this with mystical
   insight, concentration, and intention, could help to free the trapped
   sparks, but living sinfully was a sure way of strengthening the
   Klippoths' hold. In later developments the Klippoth were regarded as
   primordial, demonic powers with seven kings, reflecting the seven
   destroyed worlds of the orginal creation.
   The Klippoth held a strong fascination for Nathan of Gaza. Sabbatai
   Tzevi appears to have been a manic-depressive. In his manic states he
   had the most extraordinary force of personality, and there are many
   reports of his face literally shining like the sun. In his ecstatic
   states he would do things which no pious Jew would do. Nathan wrote a
   document entitled Treatise on the Dragons (the dragons being the
   Klippoth) which was an attempt to mythologise Tsevi's behaviour,
   explaining it in terms of the Messiah's need to descend into the world
   of the Klippoth to redeem the remaining sparks (just as Christ is
   depicted harrowing Hell, and Orpheus descents into the Underworld to
   rescue his love). The mythic credentials of the Treatise on the
   Dragons are impeccable.
   Before the publication of the Treatise, Nathan circulated a curious
   document, the Sepher ha-Sha'are ha-Daath. He described this as a
   commentary on two chapters of the Book of the Alhazred, an ancient
   history of the world. The title means "the Book of the Gates of
   Knowledge". The word for knowledge, da'ath, has a technical meaning.
   When the Bible was translated into Greek, the word da'ath was
   translated as gnosis. Da'ath has a very peculiar status in Kabbalah,
   being a kind of non-existent, a nothingness. In modern Hermetic
   Kabbalah it is sometimes represented a hole or gate into an abyss of
   consciousness. Crowley's experiments with the Call of the Thirty
   Aethyrs led him into this abyss.
   Da'ath has a dual aspect; on one hand it is our knowledge of the world
   of appearance, the body of facts which constitute our beliefs and prop
   up the illusion of identity and ego and separateness. On the other
   hand it is revelation, objective knowledge, what is often referred to
   as gnosis. The transition between the knowledge of the world of
   appearance and revelation entails the experience of the abyss, the
   abolition of the sense of ego, the negation of identity. From within
   the abyss any identity is possible. It is chaos, unformed. It
   contains, as it were, the seeds of identity. It is from this point
   that an infinity of gates open, each one a gateway to a mode of being.
   These are what Nathan is referring to as the "Gates of Knowledge".
   Nathan's purpose appears to have been to develop a methodology for a
   systematic exploration of the realms of the Klippoth, as part of his
   mission to redeem the sparks, using some of Alhazred's techniques. It
   is an extraordinary development of Alhazred's work, identifying the
   Klippoth with the primordial Old Ones. It has a modern counterpart in
   Kenneth Grant's Nightside of Eden.
   Nathan developed a huge following and for many years Judaism was riven
   with charges of heresy. Many prominent Rabbis and community leaders
   sided with Nathan, and it took most of a century for the drama to
   unwind. Eventually the Sabbatean movement went underground, and while
   it is a certainty that a copy of the Sepher ha-Sha'are ha-Daath exists
   in a private library somewhere, no one is admitting that they have it.
   Nowhere with certainty, is the short and simple answer, and once more
   we must suspect Crowley in having a hand in this. In 1912 Crowley met
   Theodor Reuss, the head of the German Ordo Templi Orientis (O.T.O),
   and worked within that order for several years, until in 1922 Reuss
   resigned as head in Crowley's favour. Thus we have Crowley working in
   close contact for 10 years with the leader of a German masonic group.
   In the years from 1933-38 the few known copies of the Necronomicon
   simply disappeared; someone in the German government of Adolf Hitler
   took an interest in obscure occult literature and began to obtain
   copies by fair means or foul.
   Dee's translation disappeared from the Bodleian following a break-in
   in the spring of 1934. The British Museum suffered several abortive
   burglaries, and the Wormius edition was deleted from the catalogue and
   removed to an underground repository in a converted slate mine in
   Wales (where the Crown Jewels were stored during the 1939-45 war).
   Other libraries lost their copies, and today there is no library with
   a genuine catalogue entry for the Necronomicon. The current
   whereabouts of copies of the Necronomicon is unknown, but there is a
   story of a large wartime cache of occult and magical documents in the
   mountainous Osterhorn area near Salzburg - this may be connected with
   the recurring story of a copy bound in the skin of concentration camp

   One thing which struck me very forcefully while researching this
   document was that the Necronomicon was not a book out of time and out
   of place. Alhazred did not compose it in a vacuum. Extraordinary
   though its content is, it is little more than an extrapolation of
   existing knowledge. Many writers have followed similar lines, though
   not to such extremes. If we were to marry Blavatsky's Secret Doctrine
   to Grant's Nightside of Eden, and ask Nathan of Gaza to edit the
   result, then we would have something similar in spirit if not in
   content to Alhazred's magnum opus.
   Perhaps we expect too much from the book. It is, after all, only a
   book. No real book, however esoteric, can fill the shoes of a mystery,
   and it is the mystery that people aspire to. The mystery of the
   creation. The mystery of good and evil. The mystery of life and death.
   The mystery of things long gone. We know that the universe is immense
   beyond any power of imagining. What is out there? What has happened?
   What alien powers impinge on us?
   The ancients asked these questions. They were not afraid to weave
   myths and they were not afraid to imagine. We do it too, but our Star
   Treks and Babylon Fives reassure us that the universe is a safe and
   comfortable place where everyone speaks English and goes to Living
   with Diversity classes.
   The Necronomicon succeeds not because of its content, but because of
   the existential terror induced by its existence. It doesn't reassure.
   It doesn't tell us the universe is a safe, cozy place. It tells us we
   are just a speck of dust in a vast and alien cosmos, and lots of
   strange things are going on out there. Look in any current astronomy
   or astrophysics textbook.
   You know it's true.
   [1] Crowley writes: "[the Keys] contain passages of sustained
   sublimity that Shakespeare, Milton and the Bible do not surpass". I
   agree. There is a great deal of repetition, but some passages are
   simply superb. To echo Crowley, if Kelly was a charlatan, he was a
   literary genius of the calibre of Isaiah.
   The version from which this was purloined was edited September 1995, 
   copyright © Colin Low, 1991-1995
   This anti-F.A.Q. was compiled using information obtained from The Book
   of the Arab, by Justin Geoffry, Starry Wisdom Press, 1979
   I owe an immense debt to Parker Ryan for his research on Arab magical
   Colin Low has never read the Necronomicon, never seen the
   Necronomicon, and has no information as to where a copy may be found.


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