All of the subsequent pseudohistories of the Necronomicon weave the book in and out of actual occult history, with John Dee playing a particularly conspicuous role. According to Colin Wilson, the version of the text published in the Hay Necronomicon was encrypted in Dee’s Enochian cipher- text Liber logoaeth. Colin Low’s Necronomicon FAQ claims that Dee discovered the book at the court of King Rudolph II’s court in Prague, and that it was under its influence that Dee and his scryer Edward Kelley achieved their most powerful astral encounters. Never published, Dee’s translation became part of the celebrated collection of Elias Ashmole housed

at the British Library. Here Crowley read it, freely cobbling passages for The Book of the Law, and ultimately passing on some of its contents indirectly to Lovecraft through Sophia Greene.

Crowley’s role in Low’s waggish tale is appropriate, because Crowley certainly appreciated magical confections of hoax and history. For in many ways the history of the occult is a confabulation, its lies wedded to its genealogies, its “timeless” truths fabricated by revisionists, madmen, and geniuses, its esoteric traditions a constantly shifting conspiracy of influences. The Necronomicon is hardly the first fiction to generate real magical activity within this potent twilight zone between philology and fantasy.

Lovecraft’s Necronomicon is the occult equivalent of Orson Welles’ 1938 radio broadcast of War of the Worlds. As Lovecraft himself wrote, “No weird story can truly produce terror unless it is devised with all the care and verisimilitude of an actual hoax.”

Take, for example, the anonymous Rosicrucian manifestos that first appeared in the early 1600s, claiming to issue from a secret brotherhood of Christian Hermeticists who had deemed it time to come above ground. Many readers immediately wanted to join up, though it is highly unlikely that such a group existed at the time. But this hoax focused esoteric desire and inspired an explosion of “real” Rosicrucian groups. Though one of the two suspected authors of the manifestos, Johann Valentin Andreae, never came clean, he made veiled references to Rosicrucianism as an “ingenious game which a masked person might like to play upon the literary scene, especially in an age infatuated with everything unusual.” Like the Rosicrucian manifestos or Blavatsky’s Book of Dzyan, Lovecraft’s Necronomicon is the occult equivalent of Orson Welles’ 1938 radio broadcast of War of the Worlds. As Lovecraft himself wrote, “No weird story can truly produce terror unless it is devised with all the care and verisimilitude of an actual hoax.”

In Foucault’s Pendulum, Umberto Eco suggests that esoteric truth is perhaps nothing more than a semiotic conspiracy theory born of an endlessly rehashed and self-referential literature—the intertextual fabric Lovecraft understood so well. For those who need to ground their profound states of consciousness in objective correlatives, this is a damning indictment of “tradition.” But as Chaos magicians remind us, magic may be nothing more than groundless

subjectivity interacting with an internally consistent matrix of signs and affects. In the absence of orthodoxy, all we may have is the dynamic tantra of text and perception, of reading and dream. These days the Great Work may be nothing more or less than another “ingenious game,” fabricating itself without closure or rest, weaving itself out of the resplendent void where Azathoth writhes on his Mandelbrot throne.

Excerpt from THE ROAD OF EXCESS

BRIAN BARRITT

FULL MOON AT BOU SAADA

Bowling along dusty roads with Tim driving a beat-up Deux Cheveaux with the flat of his hand, sending terrified chickens screeching from under the tires, while the sun beats on the roof. South to Bou Saada away from the trials and tribulations of the Panthers1 out into the desert where only the sand grows.

We stop at the Hotel Caid, a brand new desert fortress arched and domed, to pick up a suitcase of garments that Tim and Rosemary left on their previous trip, and as soon as we are out of town we take the acid and hash out of the shoes, drive amongst the dunes and pull over near a dried up riverbed with only a trickle of water winding its way slowly through the sand.

We sit on the river bank watching the sunset and waiting for the tabs of Orange Sunshine to hit, Timothy in a wind-cheater, myself dressed in a jellaba with the hood up. The wine that I consumed at the Mutton Fest has left me feeling wan and the lump of Afghani hash I am chewing is all I have eaten today and is spacing me already.

Silence, night and time pouring through the hourglass of the Sahara. Frogs croaking, stillness, the dunes like pyramids on a lunar surface. When you have lost your ego there is only the surroundings left, you are the hills and dunes looking through the eyes of Mother Nature at different aspects of yourself. The sand shifts and wavers in infinite layers of gossamer that gently rise and fall in rhythm to my breaths.

I take deep lungfulls of air and the desert breathes me.

Into my head comes the image of a man surrounded by a whirlwind of sand, the dust devil spinning a thin shroud around his figure, and from out of nowhere the name Dr. John Dee and the impression of a scrolled manuscript wafts through my brain.

The sky is on fire, massive cycles of energy swirl across it, massive sweeps of time career through the ages, the very sight of them turning us immortal. Space Gods parade in a circle around us, with stars for eyes and stars in the palms of their hands, clothed in night with the cosmos blowing through them. Time stretches every which away, at a twitch of the mind the history of Africa blows across the gem studded sky, mythic dramas unfold in scrolls and curlicues where e’er the mind tarries, and behind it all the interstellar hiss

of creation as the energy pours forth from the Om.

Into my head comes the image of a man surrounded by a whirlwind of sand, the dust devil spinning a thin shroud around his figure, and from out of nowhere the name Dr. John Dee and the impression of a scrolled manuscript wafts through my brain.

I stand a mile high, time is wrapped around my ankles causing flurries in the atoms of sand, spinning universes around me, building galaxies, creating microcosmic stars. And then it is all gone and I am back in my ego again, staring with eyes as big as flying saucers over the endless cones of sand.

The ego is a piteously small area of consciousness when seen from the bird’s eye view, a bounded circle, tunnel vision zooming-in on a minute area of the universal canvas with a dilating lens. It dilates because the cosmos is straining to get through it and out into the hardcore world of downtown reality, it pulses to the beat of ancient hearts, ancient hands clapping, ancient feet stamping the hard earth.

I am sitting at the entrance to a cave, looking through the flames of a fire up into the vast dish of the sky. As a log ignites, a shower of sparks explode, like stars, and the firmament becomes a copy of the thoughts sparking in my brain. I suddenly see that the huge dome of the heavens is no bigger than the inside of my own skull, and that the Little Bear (Ursa Minor) crouched on top of my head, is my ego, turning with its tail the handle of the sky.

The throbbing earth-beat pulsing through my blood grows louder, powered by the clapping hands and stamping feet of all the ancestors who have gone before me, beating in time to the new generations as they pour forth from the Earth’s womb. I see fabulous creatures painted on the wall of my skull, archetypes, the touchstones of humankind, flash past like arrows fired through the animal kingdom into the future, aimed at the microcosm, the perfect mirror, the “Mighty Micro” of MAN!

Other images loom massive and awesome, inside the cave of my skull are beasts not of this planet, men not of humankind.

The arch of the sky is the dish of a radio telescope relaying broadcasts via my brain from a shaman of long ago, simultaneously he is speaking from the future in cosmic rhyming-slang, “odd, ode, code, toad,” overdubbed on mind-

frames of events yet to take place.

He is using my brain as an inter-galactic air terminal, silver channels streak from my third eye, massive galactic spaceships blink into being, fresh from hyperspace, gigantic stratocruisers shrink me to the size of an ant as I look up at their immensities. Golden vessels with the faces of Egyptian Gods on their prows glide between life and death. Each star is a grain of sand on the cosmic beach, ships of the desert surf the golden Sahara, sahasrara, beauteous cities glide by composed of materials not yet invented, towers twist skyward…

Through a window a woman with the face of an angel and the body of a spider is chatting me up with her eyes. I am climbing up the rungs of a vertical ladder leading to the entrance of her flying saucer, pushing my feet well through the spaces between the rungs so that I won’t fall backwards, when there is a sharpness to my ear—Tim is saying something, he’s asking me what I am doing? I look down at him and find my spirit has dragged my body halfway up a sand dune. I croak a word of reassurance and carry on walking up the ladder, but now it’s the face of the moon I am climbing towards. At the top of the dune the moon is so big it blocks out the rest of the sky—she has the features of Elizabeth.

Tim is performing a ceremony, in the background I can hear him repeating “Solve et Coagula” as he walks up and down.

What’s the chance of us tripping by accident in the same location as Crowley and Neuburg? Of all the acid houses in the world we have to trip out in this one? Play it again Aleister!

Tim is performing a ceremony, in the background I can hear him repeating “Solve et Coagula” as he walks up and down. Telepathy has been working between us off and on throughout the trip and I am not sure which thoughts are his and which are mine, against a backdrop of eternity we could be pulling out thoughts from any time. It doesn’t seem to matter as long as I remember them. I think of Elizabeth back in Algiers and project the image of a Moebius strip slowly revolving on itself across space and time to the villa Cent Trent in Morretti.

On the way back the Deux Cheveaux crawls happily along like a scarab beetle winding in and out the dunes of sand, but wherever we move the

horizon always keeps us in the center of its magic circle. We pull over, park, and watch the sun rising in all its glory on one edge of the horizon as the full moon sets on the other, with Venus, Mars and Jupiter (I think) spanning the arch between them. Behind the planets the stars have laced themselves together into fantastic complexities that spin off Catherine Wheels of vibrations that stream across the solar system right down to Tim and myself, standing with arms spread soaking them up through the palms of our hands. It’s Easter Sunday.

Seven Up album cover, music by Timothy Leary, Brian Barritt and Ash Ra Tempel, 1972

When I arrive back at Morretti, Liz is waiting to welcome me. “You look illuminated” she says and shows me the Moebius strips she has been drawings. She has drawn them in a multitude of combinations and colors, as if my telepathic image has gone through a mirror and refracted.

BOU SAADA DECODED.

To you, I say, how learned so ever you be, Go burns your Bookes and come and learne of me

—Sir Edward Kelley.

Back at Immensee, when we’re not fiddling with the Book, we are comparing

the acid levels and clarifying our PSI maps, the pleasantest occupation possible as far as Timothy and myself are concerned.

One evening I am lounging in front of the fire in the downstairs room glancing through a copy of The Confessions of Aleister Crowley that Bobby Dryfus has left behind, when I read that in 1909 Crowley himself held a magical ceremony in the dunes, just outside Bou Saada, with a poet called Victor Neuburg.

It’s not reincarnation we are thinking of so much as recurring cycles with different representatives each time around.

When I read it out loud Tim grabs the book, his face all alight with interest. We look at each other in amazement. What’s the chance of us tripping by accident in the same location as Crowley and Neuburg? Of all the acid houses in the world we have to trip out in this one? Play it again Aleister!

I remind him of the manuscript I saw during our trip and the name Dr. John Dee—we look at each other in double amazement. The book says that the manuscript that Crowley used for his conjurations was composed by Dr. John Dee! Tim and myself tripped for the first time together in the same area in which Crowley and Neuburg dropped mescaline and performed a magical ceremony using Dr. Dee’s script!

The new information shakes and impresses us both. It’s not reincarnation we are thinking of so much as recurring cycles with different representatives each time around. We feel we are riding the same current that powered Dr. Dee and Edward Kelley in the 16th century and Crowley and Neuburg at the beginning of this one. I see a similarity between Kelley, Neuburg and Barritt paralleling the one between Dr. Dee, Aleister Crowley and Dr. Leary.

Suddenly the earth moves under my feet. I feel as though somebody just walked over my grave, as if I have been stomping about in seven league boots without seeing what’s going on between my strides. I have been moved like a chess piece from London to Bou Saada without being aware of the real cause, my instincts had been told what to do and all the in between actions were only the rationalizations of my intellect. There are synchronicities and there are synchronicities, this is no Jungian beetle crawling over a windowsill, this is international! The mysterious force that brought Tim to Bou Saada had to get him out of prison in the States first, fly him across the

Atlantic and drive him out of Algiers itself by using Eldridge Cleaver.

Was it the same unconscious directive that scooped up Aleister and Victor 60 years ago and deposited them amongst the cones of sand? They seem to have had no more idea of their mission than we had. Crowley’s writing shows some of his puzzlement: