The Gnosticism of Frankenstein
The subtle expression of cosmic Truth hides in plain sight
Better timing of this article would have likely been nearer to the shambling approach of Halloween but what are you gonna do? Inspiration strikes when it pleases and this one just happens to fall on the wrong side of Halloween, as Frater Pera, The Living
Saint Dead becomes Frater Pera, The Living Saint Santa.
I’ve been reading Richard Kaczynski’s Crowley biography, Perdurabo, lately as it occurred to me that the closest I’ve ever come to a birth-to-death bio of the man is Last Podcast on the Left’s expansive but deeply flawed series on him. For what it’s worth, it’s a great read, researched as it is with an eye for academic detail, that contextualizes the sort of childhood and upbringing that calculates the vector of a man like Aleister Crowley but it’s also written in such a way that’s breezy and entertaining. I’ve also been crying, and crying, and crying on social media lately about “Wahhhh! I don’t feel like doing magic, lately!” in a way that my followers are probably sick of hearing and getting into Crowley’s head while I inch my way back to daily practice is solid strategy on top of taking Marco Visconti’s advice to shut the fuck up and actually do something. Something ended up taking the form of daily Liber Resh practice and wouldn’t you know it? Like all the other Crowley methods that I’ve approached in the past, it has a weird way of working for me in a way that other methods do not. Who knew that addressing and adoring the sun in its four aspects would recharge the old mystic batteries in me? Believe you, me, a proper analysis of the ritual is coming soon with both the elemental signs and the LVX signs.
Over the last year I’ve been chasing an idea that I don’t yet understand enough to write about but have hinted at it in my ambitious and mostly-unread 4-part analysis of The Hellier phenomenon and its missing pieces, Kenneth Grant and H.P. Lovecraft.
Therein, I touch on a half-baked notion that both Lovecraft and Crowley were connected to the same source of information but expressed it in vastly different ways. Crowley, of course, has Liber AL Vel Legis (not to mention a bunch of other sacred and alien Class A documents). It’s a fairly typical take on the divinity-to-prophet transfer by which most religious texts are written and the gravity of such experiences lends a certain weight to the received text that implies that it is serious business to be taken seriously. Lovecraft received the same information, but being that he was a woefully broken man whose childhood followed a remarkably similar trajectory as Crowley’s (insane parents, declining wealth, plagued by death), he expressed the revelation by means of terror and dread. Their cosmologies are extremely similar, refer to the Hellier/Lovecraft article for specifics, and I feel vindicated in this by the way Lovecraft’s mythos aligns with Liber AL through the use of the UFOnaut Cipher. However, and most-ironically, of the two men, the one who I think expressed the mechanisms of revelation most effectively was the insufferably materialist Lovecraft. Crowley protected his source in a way that maintained the mystery. Aiwass was the voice which spoke to him and no one else. For Lovecraft, however, he expressed this idea in a much more obtuse but open-source way. In his classic novella, The Call of Cthulhu, the titular call is a broadcast of eldritch information which emanates from the sunken city of R’Lyeh, and the only people receptive to it are people of a more abstract mind. The artists of Providence, most notably one Henry Wilcox, are reporting restless nights and horrifying dreams because of the call.
“Wasn’t this article supposed to be about Frankenstein?”
Chill. I’m getting there.
My point is, that the Capital-T Truth may not be subtle whispers of voices from beyond, received only by disciplined magicians with the ears to hear them after years of dedicated study and practice. Those voices are being blasted at us from hidden loudspeakers that creative individuals don’t realize that they’re hearing but express it, nonetheless. The metaphor of Cthulhu’s phantom call coming from a forgotten place, deep beneath the waves of the South Sea is fairly blunt when you think about it.
Ask me about Philip K. Dick sometime.
So. Frankenstein, right?
The movie is great, a classic in every way. Boris Karloff is the shit, but it bears only a passing resemblance to the book by Mary Shelley, which fucking rules.
You know the story in the broadest strokes, probably. Victor Frankenstein is an ambitious student of science, he builds a man out of various bits and pieces of corpses and then brings it to life. While the creature was intended to be beautiful, the result is a being over eight feel tall with milk-white eyes and skin you can practically see through. Horrified by his creation, he flees and later returns to his lab to find The Creature gone. In the intervening time, The Creature flees to the country, where he discreetly provides for various needs of a nearby poor family who eventually reject him, too. Out of anger, The Creature returns to Geneva, murders Victor’s brother and frames his nanny, who hangs for the crime. Frankenstein and The Creature meet again, there’s demands that Victor create a woman for him, which goes badly, and then more death, some revenge, and a wild climax at the Arctic Circle.
It is a wonderful book, through and through, and perfectly summarizes the gothic literary movement. There’s madness and murder, tormented antiheroes, a sympathetic monster and a ubiquitous vibe of crumble and decay that haunts the story from cover to cover. It goes in a million weird directions and makes it known to the world that Percy Shelley ain’t shit and that his wife, Mary, is the original hot goth girlfriend with the real chops to write.
Now, let’s talk a bit about The Apocryphon of John and its heavy metal cousin, The Hypostasis of the Archons. Both Gnostic texts present a secret history of the universe. In the beginning was The Monad, a singular point in spacetime from which literally everything was birthed. There was nothing before it and there is nothing beyond it. It is the ultimate, unknowable source of creation, a perfect super-intelligence. From that point sprang The Aeons, near-perfect cosmic intelligences similar (but not exactly) in nature to the Sephiroth of the Tree of Life. Among them is an Aeon named Sophia who, without the balanced triad of male/female/divine creative balance, gives birth to a being the she calls Yaldabaoth. Because of the creative imbalance, this new being is a heinous abomination and Sophia’s fear, disgust, and shame drive her to cast it into a hidden place where the other Aeons won’t find it. It’s there in this fallen place that it comes to know its own creative power and goes on to create its own, flawed version of the pleroma above it, with its own evil reflections of the Aeons in the form of The Archons. From there, Yaldabaoth seizes on the echo of Sophia’s regret and her confession to The Monad of what she’s done, and creates Adam as a further perversion of the creative power above.
Shelley wrote Frankenstein in the early 1800’s when Freemasonry and The Rosicrucians were still a big deal. A wedge hadn’t yet been driven between alchemy and science, so there’s a pretty good chance that Shelley was familiar with some of the spiritual pursuits of scientists at the time, but both The Apocryphon of John and The Hypostasis of The Archons were still undiscovered under the earth of Ethiopia, so the similarities between the two stories strike as particularly unusual. Bits and pieces of the texts, thought to have been written in 2nd century, were out there but were still quite obscure, particularly when you consider that Mary Wollstonecraft was 18 at the time of Frankenstein’s writing. So why are the parallels between Frankenstein and these Gnostic tales of creation so strong?
Out of sheer curiosity both Victor Frankenstein and Pistis Sophia create something from the same void that the outermost Monad produced from. The result, expected to be beautiful and perfect, was actually a terrible abomination that both creators cast out. The rejection of both The Creature and Yaldabaoth diverge a bit in the details, The Creature tries and fails to be helpful and a boon to the poor while Yaldabaoth was blinded an unaware of his origins but their reactions were quite similar with The Creature swearing an oath of revenge on his creator and society, as a whole, and Yaldabaoth created, as his mother did, and then stuck his creation into a terrible prison of torment and cruelty. Also, in both cases, both The Creature and Yaldabaoth have qualities about them that make them somewhat sympathetic. The Creature ends up doing terrible, terrible things and Yaldabaoth is basically the framework by which Christians understand Satan but both of these creations were the products of hubris and blind ambition and were then cast out with maximum cruelty. How else were they expected to behave, brought into existence fully realized and then immediately rejected for reasons beyond their power? Immediately thrust into the world and never knowing love? Come on. Both creations long for companionship, too. The Creature demands a bride but is again denied by his creator’s horror, Yaldabaoth addressed this in the third party by creating Eve for Adam and as we all know, that all goes sideways in spectacular fashion, creating more misery.
The endings are wildly different where The Creature comes to a satisfying end in the Arctic wastes and we’re all still hanging out here, waiting for the curtain call.
What I’m suggesting here is that the same signal that spoke to the authors of The Apocryphon of John and The Hypostasis of the Archons (or whatever single-source those books were based on) spoke to Mary Shelley and the message emerged into the world through both authors in different tales but symbolically similar. In the same way that the signal that identified itself to Aleister Crowley as Aiwass spoke to H.P. Lovecraft, and that, say, the same voice that spoke to Richard Shaver spoke to Greg Newkirk as David Christie/Terry Wriste, all telling the same story to both parties but whose symbols were interpreted differently. Crowley built a religion and initiatory order based on his revelations and Lovecraft spawned a rich fictional cosmology. The Shaver Mystery was turned into a pulp science-fiction empire by Ray Palmer while playing a large role in the the black lodge cosmology of Poke Runyon and the backbone of the Hellier saga.
The broader implications of this idea, to me, dovetail neatly with the ideas put forth in Passport To Magonia by Jacques Vallee, where the phenomenon is something that we can never understand. It exists in a space that is fundamentally unknowable but still reachable either by our consciousness reaching up to them and theirs reaching down to us. But the best they can do is send symbols and it’s up to our consciousness to contextualize them to their best of our understanding. The common thread in this hypothesis is creative people. Authors and Magicians create in the same manner but with different missions. They both bring ideas and symbols to life in a rich visual language but their subjective experiences are going to color the outcome variably in fictional or non-fictional terms.
A brief final example: In the days before Roswell, before the Mount Rainier sighting, before aircraft in the sky were even a common sight there were still plenty of UFO sightings around the United States. They bore all the usually reported experiences, including encounters with the pilots of the crafts and strange men in uniforms who would hang around afterward, menacing the witnesses. But back in those days, the experience bore a vitally important difference: The reported crafts were not the flying saucers of post-World War 2. They were airships, zeppelins. They would land in remote places near dwellings. Their pilots would get out and present to the witnesses as men in shiny uniforms, sometimes bearing capes and other qualities of dress that stood out to the witnesses as unusual. Sometimes they looked human. Sometimes they looked human-ish. The people of the time were encountering the same phenomenon as UFO experiencers today but interpreting the phenomenon in the context of their time.
Consider that the Roswell craft was never identified as a flying saucer. It was already trash in the desert by the time it was discovered. The craft of Mount Rainier were witnessed as lights in the sky which dropped molten metal. I’m sure I’ll be corrected here in the comments so go gentle on me, guys, but the craft identified as flying saucers appeared after the 1950 release of the movie The Flying Saucer, which spawned a rapid burst of other flying saucer space invasion movies, thus providing the consensus with the context to witness UFOs as disk-shaped space craft. The actual form of the Phenomena is something we can never properly grokk. The Phenomena is a meme in the truest sense of the word which depends on our consciousness to give form to.