The experiences of other occultists intrigue me no end. Famous, infamous, even relatively unknown, their stories offer a window into the mechanics underlying our collective involvement with the weird shit roadshow that is modern magick. Those who share my passing interest in pop culture will no doubt be aware that two of the more influential thinkers in that sphere, Grant Morrison and Alan Moore, have many years invested in the exploration of the esoteric. The Invisibles, V For Vendetta, Doom Patrol and Watchmen, some of the most lauded comics of the last few decades sprang from the minds of these two diametrically opposed figures.
Fact is, neither seem to be able to see eye to eye on anything in the real world. Accusations of petty plagiarism abound, while both have also engaged in creating parodies of the other’s work, fuelling a literary cold war which has left many onlookers baffled. Of course this difference in tone has also extended to the paths each chose within the magickal sphere as well. Morrison hails from the remnants of the chaos current, while Moore leans instead towards very old fashioned ceremonial magick. Yet when their differences are put aside, both claim experiences with outside entities that seem to point to a common thread after all. That is our focus today.
Stories are only as good as their authors of course. The skills of the writer define the tale, and as a result experiences relayed by people who know how to create a compelling narrative will always carry more weight than those of a jobless lunatic like Crowley. So when listening to these giants of strange and unusual fiction describe their first flirtations with the esoteric we should of course allow for a certain amount of dramatic licence. Even outright embellishment perhaps. Nor should their desire to out do each other be ignored when viewing how they describe their initiations into the occult sphere either. But perhaps we can still learn something from the comparison.
Morrison’s practical exposure to magick seems to have been much earlier than that of Moore, though it is his abduction by what he once considered to be aliens way back in 1994 that is of the most interest to me. Taken at face value it illustrates a recurring feature of many other esoteric origin stories in our divided little community. It seems that interference by beings who seem to be able to ignore the normal rules of three dimensional space is the core catalyst for many to explore the esoteric realm, myself included. Outside influences contacting people who go on to become great occultists, driving them towards a strange and unusual destiny. Lam, anyone?
Taken away from normal reality by aliens crafted from ever shifting chrome and transported to what was assumed by Morrison at the time to be Alpha Centauri, the young magus was given the usual speech about taking that bizarre multidimensional experience and putting it into his work. From this, as well as a few other irrational events, Invisibles was born. Moore on the other hand credits a half hour long interaction with the demon Asmoday as a major stepping stone towards becoming convinced of the reality of magick. This was following a lacklustre attempt at ritual by both himself and a small group of friends late one evening.
Far from appearing alien, this entity was described as a lacework of spiders and lizards interspersed with the most brilliant peacock feathers, all of which shifted and blended in a manner that seemed impossible within classical physics. Not the usual depiction of that particular demon to be sure, but one that works within the limited mythology that surrounds it regardless. Later he would find references to Asmoday taking people on night flights, allowing them to see through the tops of buildings and observe the goings on inside. While not a part of the older demonological sources on the subject, this ability has been a mainstay of the fiction in which he appears for hundreds of years.
Said mobility would neatly describe fourth dimensional travel, an unfettered state that would allow us to view around the usual barriers to sight by virtue of our suddenly elevated status. Remember, Morrison was also taken somewhere else, a massively vaulted location that somehow existed outside of normal space and time. The strikingly similar origins of both these magickians seems an odd coincidence at first, but hints at a shadowy thread running through most ancient and modern esotericism. As previously stated, Crowley also made contact with an outside entity too. As such I am starting to wonder if this type of direct interaction is more common than we think.