The actual meaning of this phrase has taken volumes to explain, but roughly it concerns the uniting of the conscious Self, a process of individuation which culminates in a rite called "Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel"; the Angel signifying the pure, evolved Self.
Yet, there are many terrors on the Way to the Self, and an Abyss to cross before victory can be declared. Demons, vampires, psychic leeches, ghastly forms accost the aspiring magician from every angle, from every quarter around the circumference of the magick circle, and they must be destroyed lest they devour the magician himself. When Crowley professed to have passed the obstacles, and crossed the Abyss of Knowledge, and found his true Self, he found it was identical with the Beast of the Book of Revelation, 666, whom Christianity considers to represent the Devil. Indeed, Crowley had nothing but admiration for the Shaitan (Satan) of the so-called "devil-worshipping" cult of the Yezidis of Mesopotamia, knowledge of which led him to declare the lines that open this Introduction. For he saw that the Yezidis possess a Great Secret and a Great Tradition that extends far back into time, beyond the origin of the Sun cults of Osiris, Mithra and Christ; even before the formation of the Judaic religion, and the Hebrew tongue. Crowley harkened back to a time before the Moon was worshipped, to the "Shadow Out of Time"; and in this, whether he realised it as such or not, he had heard the "Call of Cthulhu".
That a reclusive author of short stories who lived in a quiet neighbourhood in New England, and the manic, infamous Master Magician who called the world his home, should have somehow met in the sandy wastes of some forgotten civilisation seems incredible. That they should both have become Prophets and Forerunners of a New Aeon of Man's history is equally, if not more, unbelievable. Yet, with H.P. Lovecraft and Aleister Crowley, the unbelievable was a commonplace of life. These two men, both acclaimed as geniuses by their followers and admirers, and who never actually met, stretched their legs across the world, and in the Seven League Boots of the mind they did meet, and on common soil . . . . Sumeria.
Sumeria is the name given to a once flourishing civilisation that existed in what is now known as Iraq, in the area called by the Greeks "Mesopotamia" and by the Arabs as, simply, "The Island" for it existed between two rivers, the Tigris and the Euphrates, which run down from the mountains to the Persian Gulf. This is the site of the fabled city of Babylon, as well as of Ur of the Chaldees and Kish, with Nineveh far to the north. Each of the seven principal cities of Sumeria was ruled by a different deity, who was worshipped in the strange, non-Semitic language of the Sumerians; and language which has been closely allied to that of the Aryan race, having in fact many words identical to that of Sanskrit (and, it is said, to Chinese!).
For no one knows where the Sumerians came from, and they vanished just as mysteriously as they appeared, after the Assyrian invasions which decimated their culture, yet providing the Assyrians with much of their mythology and religion; so much so that Sumerian became the official language of the state church, much as Latin is today of the Roman Catholic Church. They had a list of their kings before the Flood, which even they carefully chronicled, as did many another ancient civilisation around the world. It is believed that they had a sophisticated system of astronomy (and astrology) as well as an equally religious rituale. Magick, as well in history, begins at Sumer for the Western World, for it his here, in the sand-buried cuneiform tablets that recorded an Age, that the first Creation Epic is found, the first exorcism, the first ritual invocations of planetary deities, the first dark summonings of evil Powers, and ironically, the first "burnings" of people the anthropologists call "Witches".
Lovecraft's mythos deals with what are known chthonic deities, that is, underworld gods and goddesses, much like the Leviathan of the Old Testament. The pronunciation of chthonic is 'katonic', which explains Lovecraft's famous Miskatonic River and Miskatonic University, not to mention the chief deity of his pantheon, Cthulhu, a sea monster who lies, "not dead, but dreaming" below the world; an Ancient One and supposed enemy of Mankind and the intelligent Race. Cthulhu is accompanied by an assortment of other grotesqueries, such as Azathot and Shub Niggurath. It is of extreme importance to occult scholars that many of these deities had actual counterparts, at least in name, to deities of the Sumerian Tradition, that same Tradition that the Magus Aleister Crowley deemed it so necessary to "rediscover".
The Underworld in ancient Sumer was known by many names, among them ABSU or "Abyss", sometimes as Nar Mattaru, the great Underworld Ocean, and also as Cutha or KUTU as it is called in the Enuma Elish (the Creation Epic of the Sumerians). The phonetic similarity between Cutha and KUTU and Chthonic, as well as Cthulhu, is striking. Judging by a Sumerian grammar at hand, the word KUTULU or Cuthalu (Lovecraft's's Cthulhu Sumerianised) would mean "The Man of KUTU (Cutha); the Man of the Underworld; Satan or Shaitan, as he is known to the Yezidis (whom Crowley considered to be the remnants of the Sumerian Tradition). The list of similarities, both between Lovecraft's creations and the Sumerian gods, as well as between Lovecraft's mythos and Crowley's magick, can go on nearly indefinitely, and in depth, for which there is no space here at present. An exhaustive examination of Crowley's occultism in light of recent findings concerning Sumeria, and exegesis on Lovecraft's stories, is presently in preparation and is hoped to be available shortly. Until that time, a few examples should suffice.
Although a list is appended hereto containing various entities and concepts of Lovecraft, Crowley, and Sumeria cross-referenced, it will do to show how the Editor found relationships to be valid and even startling. AZATOT is frequently mentioned in the grim pages of the Cthulhu Mythos, and appears in the
NECRONOMICON as AZAG-THOTH, a combination of two words, the first Sumerian and the second Coptic, which gives us a clue as to Its identity. AZAG in Sumerian means "Enchanter" or "Magician"; THOTH in Coptic is the name given to the Egyptian God of Magick and Wisdom, TAHUTI, who was evoked by both the Golden Dawn and by Crowley himself (and known to the Greeks as Hermes, from whence we get "Hermetic"). AZAG-THOTH is, therefore, a Lord of Magicians, but of the "Black" magicians, or the sorcerers of the "Other Side".
There is a seeming reference to SHUB NIGGURATH in the NECRONOMICON, in the name of a Sumerian deity, the "Answerer of Prayers", called ISHNIGARRAB. The word "Shub" is to be found in the Sumerian language in reference to the Rite of Exorcism, one of which is called Nam Shub and means "the Throwing". It is, however, as yet unclear as to what the combination SHUB ISHNIGARRAB (SHUB NIGGURATH) might actually mean.
There was a battle between the forces of "light" and "darkness" (so-called) that took place long before man was created, before even the cosmos as we know it existed. It is described fully in the Enuma Elish and in the bastardised version found in the NECRONOMICON, and involved the Ancient Ones, led by the Serpent MUMMU-TIAMAT and her male counterpart ABSU, against the ELDER GODS (called such in the N.) led by the Warrior MARDUK, son of the Sea God ENKI, Lord of Magicians of this Side, or what could be called "White Magicians" - although close examination of the myths of ancient times makes one pause before attempting to judge which of the two warring factions was "good" or "evil". MARDUK won this battle - in much the same way that later St. George and St. Michael would defeat the Serpent again - the cosmos was created from the body of the slain Serpent, and man was created from the blood of the slain commander of the Ancient Army, KINGU, thereby making man a descendent of the Blood of the Enemy, as well as the "breath" of the Elder Gods; a close parallel to the "sons of God and daughters of men" reference in the Old Testament. Yet, though the identity of the Victor is clear, there were - and are - certain persons and organisations that dared side with the vanquished, believing the Ancient Ones to be a source of tremendous, and most unbelievable, power.
Worship of the Ancient Ones in History
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