It seems best to start at the beginning -- the very beginning. Though my time may be limited, there should be enough time to set it all down. How much, if any, of this will be believed I don't know.
It all seemed so innocent at the beginning, no more than a bit of literary research, a whimsical exercise meant to amuse myself and my friends. I never thought for a minute that there was any truth behind the so-called "Cthulhu Mythos" -- but I was wrong, horribly wrong.
Let me make this point clear at the outset; I thought that the "gods" and demons that H.P. Lovecraft and later authors wrote about were entirely fictional. I thought my researches would lead only to the original sources that might have inspired the ideas behind the Mythos. The "Cosmic Fear" that Lovecraft spoke of so eloquently might have had some historical or legendary basis, I argued, and I expected only to find that there were some documents which would support my idea. I wish now that I had left things alone.
I began simply, by locating and reading as many Cthulhu Mythos stories as I could find. Most of these I was able to find in bookstores, as Lovecraftian fiction was undergoing one of its periodic resurgences, no doubt due to millennial jitters as the end of the century approached.
While I was on vacation I found that the Queens Borough Public Library was helpful in finding some of the less current books, but I was disappointed to find that few works published before the late 1970's were available. I was also somewhat disturbed to find that many books had been removed from circulation due to vandalism, and that others had been stolen.
I could understand, though never of course approve, that some of the books had been stolen. Many books on Lovecraftian themes are limited editions, expensive and hard to find. Some overzealous (and under-scrupulous) fans might give in to temptation and keep the books for themselves. But I have always detested vandalism to books, and am unable to imagine why it is so widespread. This vicious and inconsiderate practice had robbed me of important materials and marred my reading experiences many times over the years. One of the librarians at my local branch, a sympathetic woman in her sixties, told me that thefts and mutilations of works related to the supernatural were more common than in almost any other category -- and that Lovecraft was particularly prone to disappear from the shelves.
Ruefully I joked that it was a good thing that the library hadn't possessed a copy of the Necronomicon. To my great astonishment, the woman informed me that they did, in fact, have a copy! Of course, this turned out to be a paperback edition of one of the spurious editions put together to profit from the popularity of Lovecraft's fiction. This led to a discussion concerning the meaning of the title Necronomicon, which certainly did not translate as the subtitle used on the bogus paperback. I explained that it was supposed to be a Latin title given to a book purportedly written by the character of the "mad Arab," Abdul Alhazred. He had called the document Al-Azif, which was supposed to refer to the nocturnal insect sounds the Arabians considered to be the cries of demons.
This information seemed to trigger some memory in the librarian's mind. She appeared thoughtful for a moment, and said she believed she had recently heard of something similar in title. She could not recall what the title was or whether the item was a work of fiction or not, but she was reasonably sure that she had seen the name in one of the reference book lists which had not yet been added to the new computer system.
I was excited by this information and she obligingly gave me a large binder full of library bulletins to look through, as she had to tend to the school children who were beginning to flood in, as it was now after three in the afternoon.
Amid the scurry of youngsters searching for books for their year-end class work and access to the computers, I searched for any mention of the item that the librarian had associated with the legendary Al-Azif. Presently I came across the listing that the woman had remembered. It was a facsimile edition of a very rare 18th Century treatise from the British Museum's collection. The work was credited to a "Lord Whatelea." The tome was entitled Daemonic Voices: Being My Reading of Ye Kitab-al-Azif of Abdoolah-Azrad. And a reference copy was available at the main branch!
I sat there, reading the short missive over and over, not quite able to believe the words before me. There was a real Al-Azif, and it was written by someone with a name close to al-Hazred. Had Lovecraft cribbed his title and character from this work? Had he heard about it from someone? I remembered reading somewhere that a relative had suggested he use the name Abdul al-Hazred during his childhood Arabian Nights playacting. It was supposed to be a joke of sorts, his family being related to the Hazard family of Rhode Island. It could be that Lovecraft never suspected that the name and title were real. On the other hand, perhaps he did know.
Or was the whole thing a joke -- was this "manuscript" the product of some elaborate hoax by some British Lovecraft fan, planted and carried out with great care and enough verisimilitude to fool the experts? The quotation marks were around the name Lord Whatelea in the library material -- apparently it was assumed by authorities to be a pseudonym. Whateley was the family name of the half-human main character in "The Dunwich Horror," and other authors had used it in their own fiction. Was this a clue that the material was fraudulent or another indication that Lovecraft had some knowledge of this matter? Disoriented and excited as I was, it never once occurred to me that the manuscript was anything more than a curiosity; I assumed it was either a document about Arabic mythology or some kind of literary prank. How I wish I still possessed that smug certainty.
I went home to my cluttered basement room in the house I had lived all my life, happy and hopeful that I had discovered something important. I mused that this document could be the Rosetta Stone of Mythos research, the fount of inspiration for a writer who had reshaped the face of 20th Century horror. That would impress my friends -- and more, I thought. I entertained notions of becoming a minor celebrity in the insular world of horror fandom. Perhaps I might find material that might actually inspire me to write and finish stories of my own. I might get published, maybe even make some money trading upon the notoriety of the whole business. Such shallow, silly dreams they seem now.
The next day I rose earlier than usual (I worked an evening schedule), and made myself ready to go to the main branch of the library, which I hadn't been to in a number of years. On the bus trip there I daydreamed again about what I might find, oblivious to my surroundings as we traveled into the heavily traveled and rather run-down area where it was located. The main branch was an unremarkable modern building of several stories, right across the street from the bus terminal. Built in the late 50's or early 60's, it was a charmless, utilitarian place that, it must be admitted, served its intended purpose well enough. As I entered through the revolving glass doors, I was somewhat surprised to note that the wooden circular information desk was gone, replaced by computer terminals. This was progress, one supposed, and otherwise the interior was little changed. Various shades of beige and gray greeted me as I passed the rows of metal shelves with their beckoning books, but I was not to be distracted. I made my way towards the back, where the volumes regarding anthropology, comparative religion, myth, and folklore were to be found.
After obtaining a slip and filling out the pertinent information, I presented it to the librarian at the reference desk. This was a man in his forties with extremely long hair, as though he wanted people to know that he once had been a hippie. Perhaps he had been one, for he seemed gently disconnected from reality then, and the other times I was to visit.
He took the slip from me and after reading it over and nodding to himself, he put it into a stoppered cylinder and placed that into the pneumatic tube that would send it to the reference stacks in the basement. I then took a seat nearby, and thumbed through a book about vampires someone had left on the table. I knew it would take some time for the item to be found and fortunately, the vampire book was diverting, though I had read it before. To my annoyance, I found that someone had razored out most of the photo-plates, a sadly common practice. What did these people do with the damned things -- make scrapbooks? An unpleasant image, that -- it brought to mind some furtive Renfield-like character, obsessed with images he could not find in horror movie magazines. Or perhaps the act of depriving other people of them gave some perverse pleasure. I could not fathom it.
Soon I heard the subdued ping of the bell of the dumbwaiter, which brought books up from the stacks. I approached the desk, and the man handed me a volume bound simply with that greenish-black cloth binding tape, and covers of green chipboard. A label provided the title and essential library information. It was the type of thing in which college dissertations and other academic papers were published and distributed. Not very impressive, I thought.
Any disappointment I felt was temporary, however, for when I opened the book a forward informed me that the contents were made from a photocopy of the original text believed to be part of a larger work. Without reading the introduction any further, I turned the page to see the title page. There it was, in archaic printing that I at first took to be handwriting. Under the afore-mentioned title, printed in bold Italics with the old-fashioned long "s" was the following couplet.
Not as powerful or elegant as Lovecraft's version, yet it made more sense to me. This looked like more "evidence" that he had seen this document. Eagerly I read on.
"So begin ye Al-Azif of ye 'mad' Arab Abdoolah-Azrad, chymit & philoopher of Yemen -- but I have come to believe ye much maligned fellow wa not a madman. Before plunging into ye grim & weighty matter of ye Occult & le avory reache of Hermetic art reveal'd by my tudy of ye Great Booke, I am compell'd to warn of ye very real danger involv'd for ye uninitiate. Not for nothing have I entitle'd thi portion of my treatie Daemonic Voice. Ye Arab' work wa named for ye Crie of Daemon in ye night & he warned of their eductive wiper & temptation which may lead to madne & dammnation. Ye knowledge & formulae contain'd herein are powerful & may blat ye life & reaon of thoe who have not hardn'd themelve in ye fire of experience. Ye true hitory of ye Worlde i not for ye faint of heart & ye Dark Verity once learn'd are not ea'ly forgot."
It was signed boldly "Victor, Lord Whatelea, Mid-Summer Eve, ye Year of our Lord 1791", with a great flourish underneath. I can quote this verbatim, as I made a photostat of it that day. In days to come I would make copies of other pages, and I made notes on others.
The mention that this was a portion of a treatise sent me back to the introduction, which I now read in detail. According to the editor, one Lindsey St. Simon, this work was believed to be a deleted chapter from a book about alchemy and related matters entitled Secrets of the Hermetic Arts by a Victor De la Poer. This De la Poer resided in a small village (now extinct) on the northeast coast of England called Whatelea or Whateley. Though related to a aristocratic Norman family, the man held no title, and called himself Lord Whatelea as a bit of self-aggrandizing vanity.
Hermetic Arts had apparently been considered a fairly well written book of alchemy, though difficult to read by reason of its use of already outdated language, alchemical jargon (and its attendant intentional obfuscation), and published at a time when few people still took alchemy seriously. Despite its drawbacks, it had had some small success as a curiosity, an amusement with a few intriguing variations and departures from standard works on the subject.
The book had only a small self-published printing in 1791 (between four and five hundred copies), and the Daemonic Voices section and a final chapter expounding odd religious and philosophical views had been eliminated before the final printing. This was most likely done to reduce expenses, though it was rumored that De la Poer had misgivings about the wisdom of including the material. Evidently, De la Poer had a short run printed of the deleted material (or at least Demonic Voices), perhaps intended as an addendum. The editor speculated that this was probably done by a different, perhaps local printer, as the typeface was completely different from the book.
Although Secrets of the Hermetic Arts seems to have sold out, it was never reprinted. The author was offended that the work was not taken seriously, and disappeared from public life. The concluding chapter appeared to be lost, but De la Poer had sent a few unbound copies of Daemonic Voices to sympathetic friends around the world. One copy was anonymously donated to the British Museum in 1802, after De la Poer had somehow managed to blow up his house, along with himself and the rest of the household. It seems he had continued his alchemic dabblings to the very end. As to how this became known to the editor, it seems the anonymous donator had included with his gift a letter which detailed the history of the work and provided the connection between the unfortunate De la Poer and "Lord Whatelea."
My curiosity on these points satisfied, I turned back to the document. The reproduced document was hard for me to read, and to my frustration, large portions were written in Latin and Greek. I could read neither -- I took Spanish in high school, and remembered almost none of it. However, the parts that interested me most at the time were in English. These were items that seemed to correspond with the Mythos. I was looking for evidence, and I found it.
I scanned the text for names similar to Mythos entities. Nyarlathotep was easy; there were several references to Nyraloth-ho-tep, ". . . worshipped by the people of Khem as the God of the Night". (I'm 'translating' here, to spare you the effort of trying to read the archaic original text.) De la Poer wrote that Azrad called him 'The Whisperer' and that he gave his followers "secrets and prophesies that brought both power and doom to those who sought them". Azrad warned that he still had hidden cults around the world, despite repeated efforts to wipe them out. De la Poer echoed this idea, stating that ". . . the ghoul-cults are said to be centered in the mounts of far-away Thibet, and perhaps closer, if reports from Holland are to be believed." This made me think immediately of The Hound.
Yog-Sothoth was also simple to match; Yok-Saggoth was described as "the foul primal One, the Key to Many Doors, he who walks between the Worldes."
Questing further I found two names, Xuloth and Q'aath-Hulul, which sounded like Cthulhu. Xuloth was referred to as "the high priest of the Dark Gods," however, from the references I could not be sure if he was supposed to be a god, demigod, or human. Q'aath-Hulul seemed more likely, as he was called "the Sleeper that waits Undying" a titan whose ". . . tomb, God be praised, sank beneath the waves of the western sea before the coming of man." (Dagon was mentioned once as the "god of the Canannites, who exacted a high price for his bounty," but I could find no connection to Q'aath-Hulul or Xuloth.)
Undaunted, I looked for Shub-Niggurath, and found S'haibban-Gorath; "the Great Mother, knowne by many names." De la Poer wrote that "she was the loathsome model for the Magna Mater, brought to these very shores by the Roman invaders, curse'd be their memory." If The Rats in the Walls was based on his family history he'd have reason enough to curse the Romans, I thought.
Finding all this took some time, and I decided to leave fairly early. I had my copies and I wanted to get on the bus before school let out. The crush of teenagers could be as bad or worse than rush hour traffic, and I wished to enjoy my vacation.
On the ride home, I was quite happy with myself for my cleverness in discovering this material, though I had actually done nothing but make the connection between a nonfiction work and a genre with which I was familiar. There had been no real effort on my part -- I was lucky, I told myself. Even so, I had mixed feelings about the matter. I was vaguely disappointed that the Mythos was not entirely original. At the same time that I was excited that I might be the one to prove that there was a real mythology behind it all.
I was slightly distracted from my musings by a thin black man who kept muttering to himself. This fellow looked to be in his late twenties, and was wearing a tan suit, which, if one looked closely, betrayed its age despite the care with which it had been kept. A dark suit might have borne up better, I thought, noting similar signs of wear on his light green shirt and slightly frayed green and gold tie. I chided myself for my uncharitable scrutiny of the man. He was obviously under some stress, perhaps searching for a job to improve his circumstances. There had been times I felt like muttering imprecations after unsuccessful interviews. Not that I would do so in public, of course, as I am easily embarrassed by unwanted attention. Giving the man the same consideration I would want, I diverted my attention out the window. Yet for some reason the incident stuck in my mind.
Back at home looking over my notes, it occurred to me that I knew someone who was fluent in classical languages. I telephoned another old schoolmate regarding this fellow, Peter Van Hooten, as I didn't have his current listing. At my request for the new number, my friend became quiet for a moment before answering. He gave me the number, but cautioned me that our friend had changed oddly, and it was rumored that he was taking drugs, or involved in something that was affecting his personality and behavior. I was rather less surprised than I might have been, as Peter had always been somewhat wild. Even so, I did not telephone him that night, as the talk of his change made me uncertain how welcome the call would be. After all, we hadn't really spoken for nearly two years, other than a brief chat at another friend's wedding reception.
I did not need his help with the work I was doing at this point, but I had wanted to speak to him about my discoveries, as he was one of the few people I knew that had a real interest in the Cthulhu Mythos and kindred subjects. Most of my other friends' imaginative interests were in science fiction adventures with little liking for horror, other than a nostalgic fondness for old monster movies. Though we had never been "best buddies" we had been good friends in school, and remained friendly for years, largely due to our discussions about eldritch books, motion pictures, folklore, and other unusual subjects. It seemed a shame that we had lost touch, as I had with many of my old friends. But I didn't give him more than a few moments thought.
The next day, encouraged by my success, I went back to the library to look for other possible Mythos-related content. I came across Ygir the Serpent, who might correspond to Yig, Lovecraft's snake god of the American southwest. The name also reminded me of Ymir, the Norse sea serpent. I could not be certain there was a real connection, or if I was just finding what I wanted to find. For example, I couldn't find any analog to Azathoth, although the name Asturoth occurred a number of times, being described as the ". . . Lord of the Outer Darkness." This seemed likely to be a variant spelling of Astaroth, a demon mentioned in many common reference books. The name reminded me of Hastur as well, though I believed that name had come from Ambrose Bierce. One could not expect to find everything.
There were other familiar names from demonology, such as Asmodeus and Belial. Ahriman and Iblis, of Arabic origin, also appeared -- along with other names less familiar. One that caught my eye was Djir-Ahmin, "Father of Monsters," who was supposed to be a spawn of S'haibban-Gorath. He was called". . . the progenitor of Vampyres, Wehr-wolves, and other sundry horrors that beset mankinde." That he had been missed was a surprise to me, if my presumption was correct that this had been a 'generating text' for the Mythos.
I also found a reference to Nyghatras-Thoth (N'Gatrés in a parenthetical note), which sounded a bit like Kuttner's Nygotha, the only non-Lovecraft referent I did find in Daemonic Voices. According to De la Poer (and Azrad), he was "the many-faced Master of the Nygah and those djinn of evil sorceries, which some call Elementals." Hadn't Derleth tried to classify all the Mythos creatures as Elementals? It did seem more likely that such forces would be the servants of greater powers. The name Nygah also sounded familiar, but I couldn't place it.
There was more about this entity: De la Poer claimed that he had been worshipped during the middle ages in southern France by some debased splinter group of the Gnostics called the Fraternatie Noir. They had decided N'Gatrés was another name for Demogorgon, the demiurge who had created our sinful world -- and against the tenets of their religion, offered him homage. (The Gnostics believed that a perfect God could not create an imperfect world, thus some other entity had to be responsible. This being, maddened by pride, believed itself to be God. It was evil, their version of the devil -- so people who would worship such an entity would be comparable to Satanists.)
De la Poer held that it was largely the excesses of this group had led to the severity with which the Roman Catholic Church had put down the Gnostics in the early 13th Century. This seemed doubtful to me, though the Pope did launch an armed crusade against the Albigenses of that area and began the Inquisition. I would tend to believe that these people would have acted against any devil-worshiping neighbors before that if they had been so prevalent. Although they were heretics themselves, the Gnostics were not known for their tolerance.
N'Gatrés was, according to Daemonic Voices, ". . . in waiting in his vaults below & lurking in the starry gulfs above, pressing in from all directions, thirsting to reclaim his domain & glut his horrible desires." This passage had a true Lovecraftian feel describing an entity that existed in different places simultaneously, and was intent upon getting back to Earth! This being interested me greatly. Part of my motivation had been to find inspiration for stories of my own, and this looked promising. De La Poer warned that there were still in his time secret societies devoted to this N'Gatrés. These people were necromancers, using stolen bodies, murder, and human sacrifices to attain boons from their god. They were "a pestilence, the model for the deluded fools who invert the Christian Mass to worship the Devil." Only they were worse, according to De la Poer, for they could gain real power and not just damnation from their acts.
This assertion troubled me, because it was another indication from the author that he truly believed in the reality of these ancient religions, and thought they were dangerous. I realized that people in the past didn't share our modern mind-set, that they didn't always separate science from belief -- I knew that. But if De la Poer thought these groups worshipped actual supernatural entities and that they were a threat, why was he printing what appeared to be the forbidden rites of these cults? I couldn't read what was written in the Greek passages, but some of the Latin sections seemed to be invocations of some sort. That much I could tell, but no more. I was frustrated because the author seemed to be varying in tone, sometimes dismissive, and at other times almost fearful of the things he was writing about.
Impatiently turning the pages past what were to me incomprehensible quotations, I stopped at the end of a particularly long Latin excerpt. My eye had been drawn to a familiar name, Dr. Dee. John Dee had been a real person, an alchemist, mathematician, and astrologer in Queen Elizabeth's court. He had often been accused of being a necromancer -- and a fraud. Within the fictional world of the Cthulhu Mythos, he was credited with writing a version of the Necronomicon. His translation was supposed to be plagued with errors, and full of curious omissions. It was not surprising to find his name in a book about alchemy, but still I felt a twinge of real excitement. Apparently the preceding section was of some importance, and De la Poer took satisfaction in "providing the whole of what the charlatan Dr. Dee had seen fit to delete from his interpretation of the Book, rendering it useless to the serious scholar."
I felt a curious . . . blankness after reading this comment. It implied that John Dee did write a book having to do with this subject, though it was unclear whether it was a literal translation of Azrad's work or a commentary on it, like De la Poer's. I should have been even more excited, but somehow I was left with a hollow feeling. This could be either more proof that Lovecraft and his literary heirs had used these real-life myths as the basis of fiction, or that the document I was sending so much time on was a hoax. If a well-known figure like Dee had written the Necronomicon or anything remotely like it, it would be a fact circulated around the genre. There were too many real scholars involved in horror fiction for it to remain unknown.
It was a well known fact among Lovecraft fans: the Necronomicon and the Old Ones were a literary creation, given an air of verisimilitude through amusing 'collaborations' by the author and his correspondents. All the paperback translations were fraudulent, jokes or transparent deceptions everyone with a modicum of intelligence was expected to understand. That's the reason I thought I had uncovered something of importance, the first indication that the Mythos was based on something more than Lovecraft's dreams and fancies. Perhaps the emptiness I felt was the realization that I was simply out of my league in trying to figure out this puzzle. I was going to need help. I couldn't read large portions of the book; I simply didn't understand the languages in it which they had been written. I was going to have to have help -- I was going to have to share my 'discovery'.
I immediately thought of my friend Peter and his facility with languages. But I didn't like the idea for some reason. I suppose I had become a bit possessive about the matter. Leadenly I gathered together my materials, made photocopies of the pages I wanted, and took my leave of the library.
I was in much better spirits after dinner that evening. My trip home had left me somewhat depressed and irritated; I had a long wait for the bus and had to stand. Adding to my displeasure was the fact that the black fellow I had noted mumbling the day before was a passenger again, and he was muttering at a greater volume than previously. He was dressed in the same clothing and seemed to be listing something with great meaning to himself. I couldn't help noting that it appeared to be rather negative adverbs; ". . . slyly, deceitfully, faithlessly, clandestinely, secretively, surreptitiously . . ." and so on.
This litany began to fray my nerves after a few minutes. Why it should do so more than actual profanities is a question I could not have answered . . . Except I kept getting the unreasonable impression that his utterances were directed at myself, despite the fact that he was facing away from me. Even after he got off the bus, my mood remained sour. I had begun to run obsessively over the possible problems ahead of me, and arrived home in a decidedly ill humor. Fortunately, one of my favorite meals was served, and after enjoying it and agreeable conversation with my family, I was back to my usual self.
That evening I telephoned Peter Van Hooten and connected to his answering machine. The recorded message began with an organ passage from the Deus Irae before he began to speak in sepulchral tones. This melodramatic greeting was not surprising to me; Peter always had an unusual sense of humor. After being advised to leave a message "if I dared," I waited for the tone and then identified myself. Almost immediately Peter picked up the phone and spoke to me in his normal voice. He had been screening his calls, as he was trying to avoid certain bothersome individuals and telephone solicitors in general. I fell into neither category, and he seemed pleased to hear from me.
After a few minutes spent catching up with events in our lives, I told him of my discovery of the Daemonic Voices in the library. He seemed intrigued, so I casually asked him if he would have any interest in translating some of the sections in Latin and Greek. He hesitated a moment, doubtless wary of committing himself to any large project, then suggested that I bring what materials I had to his home the next evening. That way he could look them over and I could see his new apartment. This was agreeable to me, so I took down the directions to his new residence.
Peter had taken a basement apartment not far from his family's old home. The area was conveniently located near a bus stop and I had no trouble finding the place. He had directed me to go straight into the back yard where I would find a storm cellar entrance. I did so, and knocked on the heavy black metal doors set against the house at a forty-five degree angle. They reminded me oddly of the doors to a crypt, and that impression was reinforced by the sudden sound of a bolt being drawn back, and then their slow, creaking rising. It was Van Hooten, of course, making a dramatic entrance as usual. His appearance was fitting, tall, pale, and dressed entirely in black. If night had fallen, the whole performance might have given me the creeps. As it was, I merely smiled and greeted my host sardonically: "Ah, Baron Van Hooten, I hope my arrival has not disturbed your rest."
"Not at all, my dear Mr. Palmer," he replied archly. "Welcome to my castle. Enter freely, and of your own will."
We both laughed, and I carefully descended the concrete stairs to his apartment. I passed through a door set into the foundation of the house, which Peter informed me he kept open when he expected guests. If he didn't, often he couldn't hear knocks upon the storm door, particularly if he was listening to music. He was able to indulge his tastes in loud music without earphones due to the fact that his landlords, an elderly couple that lived above him were hard of hearing -- and the basement nearly soundproof.
I set down the package I had been carrying, a folder with my notes and a bag containing cold beer, some soda and snack food I had picked up after getting off the bus. The beer was an imported brand I knew he favored but seldom bought due to chronic penury. The soda and snacks I had brought along remembering his past incomprehension of the concept of nonalcoholic refreshment during social events. He was pleased to see his favorite beverage and opened his refrigerator, which contained, like many bachelor's, a lot of cheap beer, milk, bread, and little else.
After stowing away the supplies, I noted that the apartment was fairly spacious and well laid out, with a large living room and kitchen separated from a bedroom by a bookcase and curtain. The décor was dark, and mixed items from popular music and films with what appeared to be authentic occult trappings. He seemed proud of his place, and I complimented him. I would likely have a similar abode, if I moved out of my parents' home. Why move from one basement to another, I thought complacently.
We sat and partook of the beer while engaging in idle chat about new films and books and related topics. Peter mentioned that he had developed an interest in occult matters, mostly from a standpoint of sociological and philosophical research, partly for other reasons. When I inquired as to what they were, he hesitated briefly, then smiled and claimed that it helped him meet women. At my confused expression he informed me of the growing "gothic" movement which I was largely unaware of at that time. Apparently horror, vampires, and the occult were popular among young people who went to parties and nightclubs devoted to the theme. The young women were often very attractive (in an offbeat way) and reportedly uninhibited. I joked that things had certainly changed since I went to monster movie conventions, and he humorously agreed. Yet still, I felt that he was not telling me the full story. But I supposed it was really not my business to ask. I wish that I had.
This led to the subject about which I had come. Clearing a space on the coffee table, I spread out my notes and photocopies. Peter picked up the first page and read it with raised eyebrows. He was interested but dubious, gently advising me that the whole thing was most likely a hoax. I admitted my suspicions along the same lines, but urged him to read further. He did so, and as he continued, a change came over his demeanor. His eyes had a faraway look as he asked to see one of the Latin sections. This he read aloud, with little more effort than he would have had reading a newspaper. It's probably best that I don't remember in detail most of the items he translated that night, or the other times he read for me. The things I do remember I will not repeat here. Some of it is unimportant, and some of it I fervently wish I could forget.
But that was not how I felt then. None of the material seemed horrible to me at the time. I was excited; we both were -- though I suspect now that Peter's interests were already different from mine. He seemed particularly interested in the entity called N'Gatrés, as was I. Some of the material about him had been fascinating, speaking of how the entity "hungered for our world of sensations," granting knowledge and power to its servitors for letting it "see with many eyes and speak with many mouths." There was talk of altered states of being and expanded consciousness -- some of it much like certain Eastern philosophies. Peter thought there was a likely connection.
Created: March 12, 1999; Updated: August 9, 2004