Saturday, September 27, 2014

The peak of 1920's occult book publishing

In the 1920's English publishing companies released many attractively designed titles on the occult and the esoteric.

Here are some striking examples of the imaginative beauty that went into the design of some of the bindings of the 1920's esoteric books published in the United Kingdom.

Contacting The Others

The variety of experiences within the tradition.

Angels, John Dee, 1659.
Incubi and succubi, d'Ameno, 1882.
Spirits, Underwood, 1896.
Aliens, Pazzaglini, 1991.

The Astral Afflictions of Mrs. Deane

From F. W. Warrick's book, published in 1938 by Rider, which was based on his extensive experiments with Mrs. Ada Emma Deane. Strange luminous phenomena erupted during more than one occasion.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Freemasonry from the Stars

Here are some curious pages from a book that has been gathering dust on my shelves for years. Its title is The Ancient Mysteries And Modern Masonry, and written by Rev. Charles H. Vail, it was published in 1909.

While the mode of thought behind the writing draws attention, his ideas clearly hark back to the philosophy developed by Blavatsky in her spurious Stanzas of Dzyan. This Vail clearly acknowledges, it is therefore not especially groundbreaking in the sense of the presentation of an original idea or concept. However, its concept, namely that the origins of freemasonry are extraterrestrial, is highly interesting.

It is curious how this strain of thought entered the fringes of freemasonry, and cropped up in 1950's contactee lore again. I do recall that in an older tome also gathering dust here and published in the 1840's, its author, who was also a cleric and freemason, George Oliver claimed something similar, which predates Blavatksy. I'll have to dig that reference out one day.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The 23 Enigma

In the Illuminatus Trilogy by Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea I first encountered the rudiments of the 23 enigma. As the history of the origin of the 23 enigma has it, Robert Anton Wilson first heard of this puzzling bit of Forteana from William Burroughs. Writes Wilson in the May, 2007 issue of Fortean Times:
"According to Burroughs, he had known a certain Captain Clark, around 1960 in Tangier, who once bragged that he had been sailing 23 years without an accident. That very day, Clark's ship had an accident that killed him and everybody else aboard. Furthermore, while Burroughs was thinking about this crude example of the irony of the gods that evening, a bulletin on the radio announced the crash of an airliner in Florida, USA. The pilot was another captain Clark and the flight was Flight 23."
This chain of events so struck Burroughs, that he began to collect data on odd incidents and synchronicities involving the number 23. The 23 enigma did not, however start with Burroughs' Captain Clark in the 1960's. Neither did it start with what is probably the earliest example from Burroughs' collection of cases involving the 23 enigma and notorious gangster Dutch Schultz during the 1930's. Inspired by Burroughs, Wilson began to collect data on the 23 enigma after 1965, and it is said that he believed that Burroughs' was the first person to notice the 23 enigma. But that notion of the 23 enigma can be found decades earlier as the following three examples demonstrate. 
I was leafing through the pages of the German pre- second world war occult periodical Zentralblatt für Okkultismus, in search of something else, when I found an intriguing item on page 460 in its July, 1930 edition. It was written by Rolf Zahlmann and entitled 'Schicksalszahlen' (Fateful Numbers).
Rolf Zahlmann, Schickzahlszahlen, Zentralblatt für Okkultismus, July 1930

In it, Zahlmann writes:
"Eight years ago I read in the book Der Geist meines Vaters by Maximilian Dauthendey, that the number 23 had played a possessive part in his life. The occult began to resound in my being. I was curious, if in my life too, a number would obtain a special meaning. To my surprise I noticed that I was a companion in fate of my fellow country man. I am born at a twentythird...."
After which Zahlmann lists a number of correlations in eventful affairs in his life with the number 23, ending with the remark:
"...The list could be substantially expanded."
Zahlmann referred to German painter, poet and writer Maximilian Dauthendey (1867 - 1918). Dauthendey's Der Geist Meines Vaters was published in Germany in 1912. About his strange affiliation with the number 23, and describing himself as a ‘numbers fanatic' who kept a keen eye on lucky and unlucky numbers in daily life, Dauthendey had this to say:
"My burdensome fateful number that accompanies me throughout the entire life is the number 23. Twentythree years after the death of my mother my father died, and I can be certain, that always the twentythird of the month delivers some burdening message, a twist of fate, a rare case of luck or an extraordinary case of bad luck..."

Max Dauthendey, Der Geist meines Vaters, München, Albert Langen Verlag, 1921 edition
Then there is the strange case of motorcycle patrolman Charles Stahl, of Alton, Illinois. The 23 enigma somehow had developed a liking for him. "No. 23 Following Patrolman Stahl", as the header of a short article in the Alton Evening Telegraph of 30 October, 1940, announced.
"Motorcycle Patrolman Charles Stahl of 436a East Eight street waited with interest today to see if it were to be 23 for him as result of the draft lottery in the national capitol.
"Stahl rides city motorcycle No.23 which bears city licence No.23 And between 2 and 3 p.m. Monday he rode to the headquarters of the local draft board in the Armory of Battery F of the 123rd Field Artillery to see what number had been assigned him.
"It was No. 2323."

Alton Evening Telegraph, Alton, Illinois, 30 October 1940
Stahl returned the curious affliction that the 23 enigma had for him. He tried to secure a state automobile licence numbered 232323. As the Alton Evening Telegraph of 17 December, 1940, noted:
"His request was not precisely filled. He drew number 232322. "Those 23's are evidently in real demand, Stahl remarked."
Alton Evening Telegraph, Alton, Illinois, 17 December 1940
The strange twist in Stahl's 23 enigma was published nationwide in a number of American newspapers (sofar I counted four), with headers such as ‘Figure 23 Dominates Cycle Patrolman's Days' and ‘Blue Coat Finds Figure 23 Important.'

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Admiral Byrd and the new Atlantis

Did Admiral Byrd fly not only over the poles of the earth, but also inside them, to discover new continents inside the earth? The answer would be a resounding no. Admiral Richard Evelyn Byrd (1888 – 1957) was an Antarctic explorer, pioneering aviator, and US Naval Officer. On May 9, 1926, Byrd, as the navigator, and pilot Floyd Bennett made what may be considered the first aeroplane flight over the North Pole, in a 15 and a half hour flight. They flew from King's Bay, Spitsbergen, Norway, to the North Pole and back again. There is some controversy as to whether they actually reached the pole.

In 1928, Byrd began his first expedition to the Antarctic involving two ships and three aeroplanes. He undertook three more expeditions to the south pole from 1933–35 and 1939–41, culminating in Operation Highjump from 1946-1947, the largest Antarctic expedition to date. The genesis of the apocryphal tale that Admiral Byrd flew not only over, but also inside the poles, comes from a book that was published in 1959 by an obscure author, who published the book at his own expenses. Entitled Worlds beyond the Poles, its author, Francis Amadeo Giannini, postulated that Admiral Byrd not only flew towards, and over the poles, but also beyond them – and as a consequence discovered a vast and as yet unknown hinterland.

From Giannini's Worlds beyond the Poles
Who was Giannini? In one contemporary newspaper article he is described as ‘a philosopher’ and ‘an intense, black-eyed man from Cambridge, Massachusetts who once served as an antarctic chartmaker for bearded Sir Hubert Wilkins’. But while legend has it that Admiral Byrd flew inside the pole and thus travelled inside the earth, the author of the strange book was by no means a proponent of the hollow earth theory. Giannini had an even more remarkable tale to tell. He postulated that the earth was not a globe, but that the portions of the earth form a small part of an endless landmass that stretches forever beyond the poles into space.

Giannini’s cosmology was not without its forerunners. Thomas Erskine’s utopian novels Armata (1816), and The Second Part of Armata (1817), describe the discovery of an inhabited planet attached to the South Pole, which can be reached by a sailing vessel. In his The Austral Globe (1892), Milton W. Ramsey also described a journey to a planet attached to earth at the South Pole. Thomas McGrady described in his Beyond the Black Ocean (1901) an inhabited sphere attached to the Earth at the North Pole. The scientific attainments of the inhabitants include airships and communication with Mars occurs. The transmutation of Giannini’s supposition is to be found in the magazines of Raymond Palmer. Here it became a story of a travel inside the earth.

In later years, a purported diary of Admiral Byrd surfaced, which alleges to be the account of what he discovered there. Consensus is that Admiral Byrd did no such thing. However, I found a mysterious letter tucked inside a book that was sent to him by a female correspondent. The book that was sent to Admiral Byrd is entitled A Dweller On Two Planets, the author given as Phylos. The book was astrally dictated to the young author, who wrote it when but 18 years of age. In it, we are taken to an incredible world where long lost Atlantis was a fact, where airships fly and where there are numerous instances of fabulous technologies employed by that ancient civilisation.

Map of Atlantis in A Dweller On Two Worlds
The letter found in this book is dated December 9th, 1933, consists of two pages and was written by one Lulu G. Tingey. In it, she writes:

'Dear Sir, Pardon my taking the liberty in sending you the enclosed two books. I am following what they call in your country "a hunch". May you press the Button which will reveal the New Atalantis (sic) in which "The Dweller on Two Planets" states. "Babylon"is unique in its symbology. Wishing you + your Party the Very Highest + Best. I remain yours humbly, Lulu G. Tingey.’

Admiral Byrd's reply - if any - to this strange letter is not known. For whatever reason, the letter remained tucked inside the book all the ensuing years. The book itself was part of the library of Admiral Byrd, until it was sold some years ago. The cryptic letter opens up a new and unsuspected field of research in the strange legends that surround this legendary man and his equally legendary career.

A longer version of this article with notes was published in Gazette Forteenne, vol. 3, 2004, and Strange Atttractor, vol. 2, 2005.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

With Adamski's mothership to Venus in 1930

Famous contactee George Adamski needs no introduction. Flying Saucers have Landed, cowritten with Desmond Leslie (1953) was published worldwide. In it, Adamski claimed to have had contact with Orthon, the Venusian occupant of a UFO, in the California desert. Afterwards would follow Inside the Spaceships (1955) and Flying Saucers Farewell (1961). Before these books saw print, Adamski founded an esoteric society, the Royal Order of Tibet in 1934, and wrote a science fiction book Pioneers of Space: A Trip to the Moon, Mars and Venus (1949).

But years before Adamski's evocative descriptions of the UFOS and the large motherships and intelligent life on Venus, a Swedish science fiction author had developed that theme. In 1930 Nils Meyn's Die Reise zur Venus (the Voyage to Venus) was published in Germany. In the book an inventor discovers that each planet has a unique charge. Building a spaceship the Urania, he calculates the charges for Venus and Earth, since a body is attracted to a planet when it has the same charge, hence, also his spaceship when he gives it the same charge. On Venus they discover a prehistoric world with saurians but also human beings. 

Nils Meyn (1891 - 1957) wrote Rejsen til Venus. Fantastisk fremtidsfortaelling (Voyage to Venus. A Fantastic Tale of the Future) in 1915. Apparently the only foreign language edition was published in Germany. 

Meyn debuted in 1911 with his Med Luftskib til Mars (With an Airship to Mars). He also wrote other science fiction books for a juvenile audience. One, entitled De flyvende Tallerkener (the flying saucers) was published in 1953.

Another, Invasion fra Månen (Invasion from the Moon), published in 1957, again features on its cover a mothership - this time even with flying saucers emerging from it. A detail Meyn or the illustrator of the cover undoubtedly had picked up from Adamski.

These and other images, giving a fascinating insight in early Danish science fiction are found here.

Doubly Damned: Dorothy's Disappearance

During the course of the publications of his Book of the Damned, Lo!, Wild Talents and New Lands, Fort wrote and received many letters. These letters became scattered after his death in 1932. Fortean researcher Mr. X managed to locate several collections of Fort’s letters, and today we can find a number of these transcribed on his website.

Fort made efforts to probe deeper into some reported odd events by writing letters to newspapers or principle witnesses. As the result of this, Fort concluded that often these witnesses did not exist: ‘I have had an extensive, though one-sided, correspondence, with people who may not be, about things that probably aren’t.’ Who very much did exist, but would vanish completely off the earth, was Dorothy Arnold.

Fort wrote in his Lo!: "Upon Dec. 12th, 1910, a handsome, healthy girl disappeared somewhere in New York City. The only known man in her affairs lived in Italy. It looks as if she had no intention of disappearing: she was arranging for a party, a tea, whatever those things are, for about sixty of her former schoolmates, to be held upon the 17th of the month. When last seen, in Fifth Avenue, she said that she intended to walk through Central Park, on her way to her home, near the 79th Street entrance of the park. It may be that somewhere in the eastern part of the park, between 59th Street and the 79th Street entrances, she disappeared. No more is known of Dorothy Arnold."

A few years ago, two of Fort's letters surfaced, pasted in a first US edition of Lo!. One letter was written by the owner of the book, the other the reply by Fort. The owner, H.J. Barrett from Norwalk, Connecticut, wrote to Fort care of the publisher, dated April 10th, 1925. The publisher dutifully sent the letter to London, where Fort was living at that time. Fort’s reply is dated April 26th, 1925. It is not known if Barrett sent Fort more letters. References in Barrett’s letter to obscure esoterical publications as Revue Cosmique and Pistis Sofia, and occultists as Peter Davidson and Mary Baker Eddy point towards a more than cursory interest in the occult with a penchant for ritual magic. The exchange between Barrett and Fort offers interesting materials such as vitrified forts and Barrett’s thoughts on the existence of a secret "Black Occult Order" and the correlation between it and earthquakes elsewhere.

There remains one sinister aspect to the whole case to be told. In the margin of page 90 of Lo!, where Fort writes of Arnold's disappearance is scribbled in pencil, in all probability by Barrett: ‘she took a train for (to? From? Illegible) Philadelphia. I was asked to party!’ Throughout the book, it is the only annotation. What had happened some 21 years before Barrett scribbled that cryptic annotation in the book? Was it a case of murder most foul? Are Barrett’s occult interests of any relevance, is there any occult clue as to Arnold’s disappearance? Or is this a case of tragic Fortean coincidence? Did Barrett send more letters to Fort? Perhaps we may never know.

A longer version of this article, with notes, was published in Gazette Forteenne Vol. 2, 2003 and Fortean Times issue 175.

The Necedah Miracle

What do apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary, UFOs and the Hollow Earth theory have in common? While the first two have been connected by various ufologists in the past and is again the topic of two books, the latter two are also an old theme in ufology. On the first two, two new books of a projected trilogy have been written by Dr. Joaquim Fernandes and Fina D’Armada, titled Heavenly Lights, The Apparitions of Fatima and the UFO Phenomenon (2005) and Celestial Secrets: The Hidden History of the Fatima Cover-Up (2006). But a connection between all three? For this we have to travel back to a small rural town called Necedah, in Wisonsin, and a farm nearby. It was here that May Ann van Hoof, a farmers woman and mother of seven children, claimed that the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to her, beginning in November 1949.

A year, seven apparitions and several messages later, throngs estimated between 50,000 and 100,000 people flocked the farm, rivalling those at Fatima, Portugal, decades earlier. Not unlike Fatima, unusual atmospheric phenomena were reported. A participating priest who was there would later claim, acording to a newspaper, to have seen
"The sun whirl over the barren farm at midmorning, when the sun momentarily appeared through the clouds... I saw it (the sun) whirl clockwise and it also jumped." 
A number of women and a newspaperman also claimed to have seen the same phenomena. There are more similarities to Fatima: in the second of their proposed trilogy, Fernandes and D'Armada examine the role of the Jesuit Order in what they claim is an elaborate cover-up of the truth. In the case of Mary Ann van Hoof a Jezuit priest conducted a full scale investigation into her claims. He subsequently told the newspapers that she had hoaxed the whole affair.

As the Blessed Virgin did not appear to the thousands of onlookers, people with ailments hoping for miraculous cures, and the devoted, her reputation dwindled, although she never changed her claim of the Blessed Virgin appearing to her . In later years, Van Hoof was forbidden to visit her local church, but a small but loyal group sprang up around her. The Van Hoofs moved to a new house near the farm, which burned down due to a defective heater in the basement, the local police claimed. Van Hoof, who died a widow in the mid 1980's, had led a strange life. She emigrated to America from Transylvania, Hungary.

Her mother, Elizabeth Bieber, was a spiritualist and allegedly practiced witchcraft with Gypsies in Transylvania. Bieber held seances in Kenosha, Wisconsin. With Mary Ann she attended Spiritist camps in Wonewac, and became vice-president of the Kenosha Assembly of Spiritualists. As a youth, Mary Ann suffered from an abusive father and epileptic seizures. It is alleged that her mother always was behind her during the apparitions. One of the messages that Van Hoof claimed to have received and that was later published by members of her group, was that
"...a SPACE SHIP coming to take us away before the coming chastisement... This space ship will be guided by someone called "Alex". The SPACE SHIP with a 1200-year-old man will come and take them to the MIDDLE EARTH, where they will be spared the chastisement and then emerge to re-populate the world and establish Christ's TRUE CHURCH."
Middle Earth is of course the hollow earth, where a subterranean civilisation awaited them. In the late 1960's, Charles Manson would gather his family for searches in Death Valley for Devil's Hole, another supposed opening to the inner earth, where the Family too could hide and await upcoming Helter Skelter.

The sleepy town of Necedah saw many strange figures arrive in ensuing years such as selfstyled Pope Clemens XV, head of the Order of Saint Michel and the founder of the New Church. This sect believed in the salvation of mankind with the help of extraterrestrials. One of his followers was German engineer Franz Philipp, inventor of the Sonnenkraft-Triebwerk (Solar Power Motor) and author of the very strange book Deutscher Raumflug ab 1934, ein unbequemes Buch (German Spaceflight since 1934, an unpleasant Book) which was published in 1970. Philippp was found dead in his Berlin appartment in the late 1970's, after having laid there for two weeks. Rumor has it that the CIA had tried to assassinate him at least once. And, while countless other apocalyptic contactee cults disbanded, faded away or sometimes even committed mass suicide, the small group around Mary Ann van Hoof is still waiting for the space ship to take them to the center of the earth.

Nazi Germany and the Ark Re-engineered

The weirder aspects of Nazi Germany are en vogue once more, but this time in more scholarly books than their 1960's and 1970's illustrious counterparts. Two books, Himmler's Crusade : The Nazi Expedition to Find the Origins of the Aryan Race (2003) by Christopher Hale and The Master Plan : Himmler's Scholars and the Holocaust (2006) by Heather Pringle focus on the bizarre beliefsystems of Himmler's roster of archaeologists, scientists and researchers.

They were encouraged by the head of the SS himself, who harbored his own particular and weird ideas. Where this all might have led to, has been the source for many wild theory and conjecture over the years, and, some say, lay also at the basis for the first Indiana Jones film, Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981).

That Himmler's researchers, who can be seen as Indiana Joneses gone to the dark side, clustering at an evil Hogwarths called the Ahnenerbe Institut, is the main focus of Pringle's book. Her immensely readable study was preceded by the groundbreaking work of Michael Kater, Das Ahnenerbe der SS 1935 - 1945 which first appeared in 1969, was published in 1974 and remains in print, but is lesser known outside Germany as it is still untranslated.

In these post-Von Däniken times with its legacy of explaining the wonders of old as feats of advanced technology, two authors have proposed a theory as to what the Ark of Covenant really might have been. In their article Re-engineering the Ark which was published in Fortean Times 207, authors Michael Blackburn and Mark Bennett speculate on the Ark as being a source of electrical energy. This theory appeared much earlier in Nazi Germany.

In 1938 a book by Konradin Aller was published suggestively entitled Moses Entlarvt: die Wunder Moses als Luftelektrische Vorgange (Moses Unmasked: The Miracles of Moses as Atmospheric Electrical Events), with drawings by Werner Graul (the drawing of the Ark by this post is taken from this book). The premise of the book was that Moses was a hoaxer; all the divine miracles that accompanied him were merely the effects of laws of nature. Thus the Ark was nothing more than a repository of electricity. That it would have been a marvel in itself and would have made a Von Däniken proud to postulate that two millennia ago people already understood the intricate workings of electricity and were able to build a complex machine with it, cleary eluded the author.

Graul, who made a series of evocative black and white drawings for the book, also designed the film poster for Fritz Lang's 1926 dystopian classic science fiction film Metropolis. The film was produced by German film production company UFA. Around that time, a set painter named Albin Grau was employed at UFA. Grau became a member of the Berlin occult order Fraternitas Saturni, founded in 1928 after a rather tumultuous visit by Aleister Crowley. The order specialised in an unusual mixture of avantgarde technology and magical ritual partly based, or so it claimed in the pages of its official organ Saturn Gnosis, on the theories of Nikola Tesla.

Neither had Aller postulated a new theory; in his article A Fairytale of Electricity, published on September 9, 1915 in Manufacturers' Record, Tesla wrote:
"...Moses was undoubtedly a practical and skillful electrician far in advance of his time. The Bible describes precisely, and minutely, arrangements constituting a machine in which electricity was generated by friction of air against silk curtains, and stored in a box constructed like a condenser. It is very plausible to assume that the sons of Aaron were killed by a high-tension discharge, and that the vestal fires of the Romans were electrical." 
Grau's paintings and drawings adorned several of the five lavishly produced Saturn Gnosis issues. The last issue was published in 1930, the Berlin order disbanded not long afterwards, due to the prohibition imposed by Nazi Germany on the esoteric societies. To remain in biblical terms; UFA had its ateliers at Babelsberg.