TT: In the book, you hint about your own involvement with the occult. What can you tell me about that? Why are you mentioned in the “Special thanks” section of The Necronomicon? And what’s up with The Necronomicon, anyway? I always thought it was something that Lovecraft had made up, but the preface to the one edited by L. K. Barnes states that it was brought to him by some guy named Simon in a briefcase containing “additional material on The Necronomicon which provided his bona fides.” He also says that the briefcase contained “correspondence from various Balkan embassies.” This I at first took with a grain of salt but after seeing your name in the special
thanks section I grew curious.
I kind of like the fact that William Burroughs was into it, and wrote Simon and L. K. Barnes a letter praising it as an important spiritual breakthrough.
PL: My involvement was on the translation side. I’ve been around occult groups in New York since the late ‘60s. I was a friend of Herman Slater of the old Warlock Shop in Brooklyn Heights before it moved to Manhattan and became Magickal Childe. I was around during the famous Witch Wars of the ’70s, when it seemed that everyone was casting spells on everyone else. I was there when Gardnerians and Welsh Trads and Alexandrians and Sicilian Trads sat down around a table in the back of Herman’s shop to settle the War and make peace once and for all. Herman had once interviewed neo-Nazis in New York in the 1960s and we had a lot of interests in common. I never joined any of the groups, that wasn’t my intention or inclination—but I was a familiar face around the campfire, so to speak. My fascination has always been on the degree to which religion and occultism influence mainstream politics; Unholy Alliance began as an academic study of this before it turned into a Nazi history. As for The Necronomicon, it was part of stash of stolen books. The story is told, I think, in other places and I have been asked this before—also on the internet—so to summarize: in the 1970s a couple of Eastern Orthodox monks pulled off the biggest rare book heist in the history of the United States. It was a continuing crime, the books being taken from libraries and private collections all over the country (and, it was said, Canada and Mexico). They were finally busted, and did federal time, but most of the books were never recovered. The Necronomicon was part of this swag as were a lot of occult books. It was in Greek, handwritten, but the problem was that much of the Greek was unintelligible. My modest contribution to this was recognizing that some of the Greek was an attempt to phoneticize Babylonian and Sumerian worlds. I am not one of the people arguing that this Necronomicon is THE Necronomicon, or that Lovecraft was even aware that it existed. I think Lovecraft heard the name through one of his friends in the Golden Dawn, and used it creatively. If the Simon Necronomicon is a hoax, I think it would have been better done and more closely followed the Cthulhu Mythos. I kind of like the fact that William Burroughs was into it, and wrote Simon and L. K. Barnes a letter praising it as an important spiritual breakthrough.
- Parsons later killed himself in an accident involving fulminate of mercury. He had been driven crazy and proclaimed himself the Anti-Christ after becoming involved with one “Frater H,” who was actually a spy sent by Naval Intelligence to infiltrate the O.T.O. That spy’s name was L.Ron Hubbard!
- There have been no more successful, more dramatically impressive spies than a group of Englishmen who all met at Trinity College, Cambridge University in the 1930s. To one degree or another, they were active for the Soviet Union for over thirty years. They were the most efficient espionage agents against American and British interests of any collection of spies in the 20th century. One of them, Kim Philby, served the KGB for almost 50 years. (Crimelibrary.com)
- Pierre Plantard was the Priory of Sion’s Grand Master from 1981 until his resignation in 1984. His interviews with the authors of Holy Blood, Holy Grail provided much of the source material for that book and its sequel, The Messianic Legacy.
“This place is terrible.” This enigmatic phrase inscribed above the entryway at Rennes-le-Chateau has been the source of bafflement to many researchers. Why would any priest affix to their church a statement seemingly so at odds with the function and solemnity of a place of worship? A few observers have noted that it is actually a quote from Genesis, yet stop short of actually speculating on its possible meaning in this context. The actual passage (Gen. 28:17) describes an incident that happened to Jacob. He goes to sleep, resting his head upon a stone, and has a most unusual dream. In it, he sees a ladder stretching to heaven, and angels are ascending and descending upon it. When he awakes, he declares, “This place is terrible but it is the house of God and the portal to Heaven.” He anoints the stone and decides that a temple should be erected on that very spot.
What seems to be the relevant aspect of the Jacob story is what he saw in his dream: angels ascending to heaven and descending from heaven. An unusual vision, to be sure. But there is another passage in Genesis that refers to angels descending from Heaven and walking on the earth. In Genesis, it says:
“The Nephilim were on the Earth in those days—and also afterward—when the sons of God went to the daughters of men and had children by them, the same became mighty men who were of old, men of renown.”
In some translations of the Bible, the word giants is substituted for Nephilim. But Nephilim doesn’t mean giants, it means “Those who were cast down.” The reference to the Nephilim is extremely brief, and would hardly seem to convey any negative connotation. The “sons of God” took the daughters of men, and gave birth to a dynasty of “mighty men… of renown.” What’s wrong with that?
But immediately thereafter, the Lord becomes angry with man’s incessant evil and decides “to wipe humankind … from the face of the Earth.” Are we missing something? It would seem that there is much more to this story
which is being left out in this telling. And indeed there is. There is an entire apocryphal text called The Book of Enoch which deals with the Nephilim saga in far greater depth. It is, in fact, a book wholly dedicated to the Nephilim story in all its aspects. And its importance lies not just in the fact that it seems to be a record pertaining to the details of a missing chapter of biblical history, but that it seems also to be the retelling of a story that recurs in numerous mythologies: that of a race of Gods which comes to Earth to teach man their wisdom (only to end up intermarrying with the Earth women.)
It is supposed that The Book of Enoch was written in the first or second century BC. There is every indication that at the time the text was regarded as a valid piece of sacred literature in its own right. The fact that it is dismissed as an “apocryphal” text is misleading. The word “apocrypha” simply implies that it’s cryptic, and its use was intended only for the initiated. It was referred to by such figures as Ireneus and Clement of Alexandria, whom, we are told, assigned it an authenticity “analogous to that of Mosaic literature.” And Tertullian called Enoch “The most ancient prophet.” Archbishop Richard Laurence, who first translated The Book of Enoch, notes that references to the book show up in the Zohar, saying: “In this celebrated compilation of what was long supposed to constitute the hidden wisdom of the Jewish nation, occasional references are made to The Book of Enoch as a book carefully preserved from generation to generation.” Despite this, the book faded somehow into oblivion, and was not to be found in Europe for well over a thousand years. Then in 1773, a Scottish explorer named James Bruce found three copies of the text in an Abyssinian Church called the House of St. George.
“This place is terrible but it is the house of God and the portal to Heaven.”
Bruce brought the manuscripts back to Europe, donating one copy to the Biblioteque Nationale in Paris, and another to the Bodleian Library at Oxford. When Richard Laurence first published his translation of the text in 1821, Biblical scholars were taken aback. The Book of Enoch was equal in apocalyptic intensity only to The Revelation of St. John the Divine. It relates the story of Enoch the Prophet, a man reputed to have been the son of Cain. The story chronicles how the sons of God taught their wisdom to mankind, and in so doing, unleashed a tide of evil. It starts off with a reiteration of the
Nephilim scenario, except that in this version they’re called “the Watchers.” As it states:
“It happened after the sons of men had multiplied in those days, that daughters were born to them, elegant and beautiful. And when the angels, the sons of heaven beheld them, they became enamored of them, saying to each other, Come, let us select for ourselves wives from the progeny of men, and let us beget children.”
This book is probably a far more accurate record of how the Watchers were perceived than it is a reflection of who they were or what they did.
So the angels, 200 in number, swore an oath to one another in a pact to take as wives the daughters of men. Such a pact essentially constituted a rebellion against heaven. This detail would represent a decisive difference between the story of Enoch’s Watchers and the Nephilim of Genesis. If the Nephilim were “those who were cast down,” the implication is clearly that they were expelled from Heaven, or were fallen angels. The Watchers, in contrast, are plainly portrayed as willfully conspiring to rebel against Heaven. Enoch continues:
“Then they took wives, each choosing for himself; whom they began to approach, and with whom they cohabitated; teaching them sorcery, incantations… (and) all the secret things which are done in the heavens.”
And herein lies what seems to have been the real sin of the Watchers: to have shared “powerful secrets” with mankind, because “men were not born for this.” Each of the leaders of the Watchers taught some specialized field of knowledge, such as astronomy, the manufacture of goods, the dying of textiles, and so on. And certainly, while the teaching of such things as sorcery and astrology may have been viewed as ungodly at the time, one angel stands accused of “[teaching] men to understand writing, and the use of ink and paper.” This is odd, because elsewhere Enoch himself is described as a “scribe of righteousness,” and is often credited with being the inventor of mathematics, writing, and astronomy!
The great crime of the Watchers was to teach wisdom to mankind. The
subtext of the book would seem to be saying that wisdom begets evil. Like the Luddite sects who felt that man’s technological progress led him away from God, and created all the world’s ills and iniquities, the author of The Book of Enoch is telling us that higher understanding was contrary to man’s true nature, and resulted inevitably in woe. This book is probably a far more accurate record of how the Watchers were perceived than it is a reflection of who they were or what they did. It is axiomatic that people fear and mistrust those who know more than they do, or wield more power. And it’s also a given that people fear and resist the kind of change that accompanies knowledge and new ideas. This, by all accounts, is precisely what the Watchers brought to the ancients. We can see echoes of precisely this same sort of fearful attitude, in more modern times, in the account of certain tribes in Africa who were observed practicing a kind of negative eugenics. When a researcher watching from a hidden position in a bush saw a tribesman put to death a perfectly healthy child for seemingly no reason at all, he questioned the motive for their act. They replied that every so often a child was born who was too beautiful, too curious, or too intelligent, and it was simply understood that such people would eventually be the source of problems. Any individual who at so young an age was demonstrably brighter than his peers would inevitably grow up to promote ideas at variance with tradition. Such people create change, sow seeds of discord, and upset the equilibrium of the community, and such behavior constitutes a grave threat to the survival of the group as a cohesive whole. Consequently, dealing with the problem at the earliest possible time was not only prudent, it was a necessity.
In ancient times, wisdom was synonymous with power; and power, especially for those who don’t possess it, is more often than not perceived to be synonymous with oppression. Indeed, the Watchers were accused of such when it was written, “Let every oppressor perish from the face of the earth; Destroy… the offspring of the Watchers, for they have tyrannized over mankind.” As is common in apocalyptic Jewish texts, the oppressors are ascribed mythic attributes. In The Book of Enoch, the offspring of the Watchers are described as a race of giants who “devoured all which the labor of men produced; until it became impossible to feed them; when they turned against men in order to devour them.” They consumed birds and fish, “devouring their flesh one after another and drinking their blood.” This sounds like the highly exaggerated claim of any peasant anywhere, who watches his rulers feast on fatted calves while he and his family must subsist
on porridge. But that said, we must keep in mind what many major religions assert, which is that there was indeed a time when giants walked the Earth. Why would diverse and widely separated traditions all make the same outrageous claim unless it had some basis in truth? Or more to the point: if it weren’t true, what are the odds that all these traditions would concoct the same lie?
It must be remembered that the Book of Enoch was the first major text to be written after the Jews’ Babylonian captivity, and we can clearly see the emergence of the influence of the Zoroastrian ideas which they assimilated at that time. We see a more clearly defined dichotomy between notions of good and evil, the elect and the unrighteous. Before Enoch, the Lord was both Good Cop and Bad Cop—alternatively blessing and punishing, loved and feared. The devil was, if anything, a bit player in the drama. But in the Watchers we can see an emerging prototype of Satan, the adversary. And too, we can see a variation on the theme of original sin. Just as with Eve and the forbidden fruit, the sin of the Watchers involved a specific combination of infractions, having to do with both disobedience, and knowledge.
In ancient times, wisdom was synonymous with power; and power, especially for those who don’t possess it, is more often than not perceived to be synonymous with oppression.
If one were to look behind the mythic elements of the story of the Watchers, any number of more purely historical facsimiles of the events described seem to present themselves. What interests us is the persistence of the myth itself: the ongoing story of a race of gods and their descendants, who somehow come to be perceived as Luciferian. Often such figures are associated with water, the sea, or the Flood. At times they are presented as dwellers within the Earth (and often in connection with this, as giants). Some say that the Watchers themselves were imprisoned within the Earth, while The Book of Enoch places great emphasis on the notion that a flood was sent “so that their seed would perish from the Earth.” The question as to whether or not that seed did in fact perish is one of contention, because there is an interesting (and altogether perplexing) addendum to the tale.