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Authors: Robert A. Wilson

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BOOK: Masks of the Illuminati
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After posting this missive, Sir John began to have serious doubts about whether a Scottish Presbyterian would, or would not, credit the continued existence of Satanic lodges in the modern world. He also wondered if he had acted prematurely; but Jones was on holiday in France and Sir John had no one else to advise him.

A few nights later, Sir John visited his cousins, the Greystokes, and met again the aged Sicilian, Giacomo Celine, who seemed to be related to a South European branch of the family. Somehow, the conversation turned to ghost stories after the brandy and cigars were circulating.

The Monk
is still the most blood-curdling book ever written,” Sir John ventured at one point.

“But that’s technically not a ghost story at all,” Viscount Greystoke remarked. “It’s a story of demons.”

“Of course,” old Celine said. “Ghost stories really are quite dull, actually. Mrs. Shelley’s
is not a ghost story, either, and I think it at least as terrifying as
The Monk
. And that young Irishman from Sir Henry Irving’s theatrical corporation—what’s-his-name—Stoker—he has written the most frightening book ever:
. And that doesn’t deal with ghosts, either. Ghosts are comparatively tame compared with the real horrors a lively imagination can conjure up.”

“That reminds me,” old Greystoke said, “there’s a novelette around that is more terrible than anything we’ve discussed, and it has no ghosts, either. Ghosts, after all, are only dead humans, and humans can be wicked enough
as we all know, but it’s the non-human creature of evil that really makes the blood run cold, as the saying goes. The non-human is not limited by the traits which even ghosts share with us.”

“Quite so,” Sir John agreed. “And what is the name of this novelette?”

“Oh, here it is,” Greystoke replied, prowling among his bookcases. “If you want a bad night, try reading
before bed.” And he handed Sir John a slim volume of stories entitled
The Great God Pan
, by Arthur Machen.

The penny-farthing bicycle in a garden. Sir John, age six, with a little girl, same age, he with pants down, she with skirts up, comparing genitalia.
Sir John’s voice:
“Oh, God, Jones, that
A grinning statue of Pan above Sir John’s head.
Voodoo drums
Hawk shrieking.
Hawk shriek; voodoo drums
The eyes on the statue of Pan turn and look at Sir John.
Voodoo drums
“There is an evil power behind it all …”
Dr. BENTLEY BOSTICK BABCOCK and VISCOUNT GREYSTOKE dining. SIR JOHN, age twelve, at far end Of table.
Voice [Dr. Bentley B. Babcock, continuing]:
“Just look at the record: 1900, King Humbert of Italy assassinated; 1901, Bogolyepov, the minister of education assassinated in Russia and President McKinley assassinated in the United States; 1903, King Alexander of Serbia assassinated.”
SIR JOHN listening to the adults with horror.
Dr. Babcock’s voice-over:
“It has to be an international conspiracy, I tell you.”
Pan To:
At the far end of the room, in a huge overstuffed red chair, GIACOMO CELINE, smiling privately. He is reading
Not the Almighty
with the eye-in-triangle design on the Cover.
Voodoo drums

Sir John retired to bed with Machen’s
The Great God Pan
around eleven and indeed he had a bad night. He quickly became convinced that he had discovered another member of the Golden Dawn and one who knew a great deal about the dark Satanic lodges working in opposition to the Great Work. “There are sacraments of Evil, as well as of Good,” Machen wrote, and his title story was a most
daring approach to almost describing the sacraments of Evil explicitly.

Even worse for Sir John’s peace of mind, Machen recounted, as fiction, a weird and terrible story of which
Clouds Without Water
might actually be a missing chapter or a sequel.
The Great God Pan
tells of two men, Clarke and Villiers, who share a common interest in the bizarre and mysterious side of London life. Although Clarke and Villiers do not join forces until the climax of the story, each of them finds, working independently of the other, parts of the history of a most strange and dangerous woman, called “Helen” in the text. In each chapter, either Clarke or Villiers encounters a victim of this woman, or hears a yarn of incredible events which seems to relate to her mysterious doings. When Villiers and Clarke finally intersect each other’s investigations and begin to compare notes, most of the truth begins to emerge, although not all of it, since Machen restricts himself to hints and euphemisms. What is clear, however, is that “Helen” is a worshipper of the Horned God, who has lured countless men and women into unspeakable erotic practices—sexual excesses leading at first to ecstasy and then to a chain of nervous breakdowns and suicides.

It could almost be the story of Lola Le vine; and Sir John wondered if it were, in fact, her story.

How much of Machen’s terrifying tale was fiction, and how much fact? Why had Machen published, even as fiction and even with the worst of it veiled in vague hints, so many dreadful secrets which the world was better not to know at all? Why had the Secret Chiefs of the Order allowed Machen to publish this dreadful tale, for that matter? Sir John found himself thinking, without humor, of the Rev. Verey’s dark warnings that the world was entering the last days and the final conflict between Good and Evil would soon be upon us all. The Grey stokes, who had family connections in every branch of the government,
it often seemed, were worried more and more lately about the possibility of a greater war than the world had ever known….

Sir John uneasily climbed out of bed and looked again at the most disturbing passage in
Clouds Without Water
, in which the Rev. Verey said:

Unblushing, the old Serpent rears its crest to the sky; unashamed, the Beast and the Scarlet Woman chant the blasphemous litanies of their fornication

Surely the cup of their abominations is nigh full!

Surely we who await the Advent of our blessed Lord are emboldened to trust that this frenzy of wickedness is a sure sign of the last days; that He will shortly come

Could it be that the true purpose of the Golden Dawn was not merely to raise the human mind to communication with the divine, but to train warriors of God to do battle against the forces of diabolical magick threatening the planet? Why did the first teaching say so harshly, “Fear is failure, and the forerunner of failure,” if the members were not expected, eventually, to confront the most fearful evils and do battle against them?

Sir John performed a most earnest banishing ritual, drank a double shot of cognac, and crept back to bed, severely troubled in his mind. His dreams were not pleasant.

The Hermit carrying a rotlantern was leading him down a Naranhope alley in some low, disreputable neighborhood of London. Orofaces out of Hogarth’s etchings and Doré’s illustrations of Dante’s
glared gorm on all sides; Oscar Wilde and Lord Alfred Douglas rose up from a violet cellar muttering incoherently, “the love of Jesus and John … the love of David and Jonathan … the love that dare not speak its name.” The Hermit began to
fondle Sir John on the rougeway carriage again and a terrific explosion shook the vertetrain. “They are dropping bombs from monoplanes!” somebody shouted. “The Anti-Christ is coming: Night, the Almighty. London is aflame!” Voices sang the
and looters ran through the streets carrying indigo garters and boxes with moving pictures on them. “It’s probably a magnetic phenomenon,” old Celine said reassuringly. “I Never Risk Inquiry.”

And this is the horror
, said Eutaenia Infernalis,
and this is the Mystery of the great prophets that have come unto mankind, Moses, and Buddha, and Lao-Tse, and Krishna, and Jesus, and Osiris, and Christian Rosycross; for all these attained unto Truth, and therefore were they bound with the curse of Thoth, so that, being guardians of Truth, they caused the proliferations of countless lies: for the Truth may not be uttered in the languages of men

Lola sang in clear, lark-like soprano:

The harlot’s cry from street to street
Shall weave old England’s winding sheet

Sir John, seven years old, hid in the closet. They were playing hide-and-seek. The Cuntease of Salisbury entered the room. He backed farther into the rear of the closet, behind his mother’s skirts. The Cuntess opened the door and groped him by the throat. He tried to tell her to stop, but he was choking and could not speak. Then he knew it was Lola again.

“You’ve been a bad boy,” she said, “playing with blue garters and your mother’s skirts.” She flung him to the floor, where Count Draculatalis leaned over him to whisper in his ear, “The true Eucharist is the Eucharist of blood, the lunar force unleashed upon earth once a month. Take ye and drink.”

Hooded, red-eyed figures crouched around the garden chanting, “Io Io Io Sabao Kurie Abrasax Kurie Meithras
Kurie Phalle. Io Pan Io Pan Pan Io Ischuron Io Athanaton lo Abroton lo IAO. Chaire Phalle Chaire Panphage Chaire Pangenitor. Hagios Hagios Hagios IAO!”

Oscar Wilde, wearing Sherlock Holmes’ deerstalker cap, bent to examine Sir John’s penis through a magnifying glass. “It is very, very long,” he pronounced solemnly, “but very, very beautiful.”

A form was crystallizing in the dank air: a dark blue ribbon edged with gold, a mantle of blue velvet, a collar of gold consisting of twenty-six pieces, Saint George fighting the dragon …

And Pan, ithyphallic and terrible, arose in the midst of them, Lola bending to present his vile gigantic organ with an obscene kiss.

“Charing Cross, Jeering Cross!” the conductor shouted. “All mystics off at Charing Cross!”

But on the platform, everybody was staring and Sir John realized he was wearing his mother’s skirt.

“Sonly a beach of a pair to plumb this hour’s gripes,” muttered the fox, but John Peel lit a great flashing light with a goat sow gorm in the morning and Sir John blinked, shuddering into wakefulness as warm sunlight flooded his bedroom. It was dawn and the night and night’s black agents had vanished into air, into thin air.

Sir John ate a very subdued breakfast. “A war between the great powers,” Viscount Greystoke had said, extremely worried, only a few weeks ago, “might destroy European civilization, or throw us back into the Dark Ages.” Was it possible that the dark, chthonic forces of the ancient pagan cults, the beings that Lola and her friends were trying to unleash again upon the world, intended such a frightful transformation of what had been an age of enlightenment and progress? Or was he taking the chaotic symbolism of the dream, a feverish blend of the worst in Gothic fiction and black magick, too literally?

He decided to take a long walk around his estate,
meditating on one of his favorite lines from the Golden Dawn Probationer ritual: “We worship thee also in the forms of bird and beast and flower through which thy beauty is manifest even in the material world.” His eyes opened as he repeated the phrase over and over: every bird call seemed to remind him that God was truly good, that even on the plane of accursed material existence the divine radiance showed itself to those with spiritual vision. The deer were the gaiety of God, the trees His mercy, the stream His ever-flowing love.

A strutting robin came pecking the ground near him and he watched it with affection. It was a creature, he suddenly realized, more alien to himself than the Martians imagined in the fantastic fiction of H. G. Wells, and yet sentient as he and with its own intelligence. How can we live among so many wonders and be so blind to them? Sir John remembered the great Psalm: “The heavens declare the glory of God and the earth sheweth His handiwork.”

Then he saw two foxes copulating and blushed, turning his eyes away from the temptation to lewd thoughts. We must love the beauty of this world, which is Gods gift, he reminded himself, but we must never forget its fallen nature nor let it seduce us from seeking the beauty of the spiritual world of which this is the grossest shadow. For to worship nature as it is was to fall into the error of the sensualists and Satanists, of “Helen” in
The Great God Pan

Sir John returned to the volume when he was back in his library and had read two more of Machen’s macabre tales, “The Black Seal” and “The White People.” Both dealt with the ancient Celtic lore of the faery-people, but not in the sentimentalized manner which Shakespeare had established in
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
The Tempest
and which has been naïvely copied by writers ever since. Rather, Machen followed the actual lore of the peasantry of Ireland and Wales, to whom the “little people”
were not benign beings at all but a terrifying inhuman race of malign tricksters who lured men with vistas of beauty and sublime wonder only to lead them into a realm of unreality, changing chimerical shapes, formless forms, time distortions and nightmare, from which few returned totally sane. Sir John, who had studied this lore in his investigations of medieval myth, realized that Machen’s picture of faery-folk was far truer to peasant belief than the charming fantasies of other writers on the subject. The Irish, Sir John remembered, called the faery “the good people,” not out of real love or respect, but out of terror, because these godlings were known to punish most terribly those who slighted them. The faery, Machen obviously understood, were denizens of Chapel Perilous unleashed somehow from the astral realm into temporary appearance in our material world. In fact, “Helen” in
The Great God Pan
was first reported to Clarke as a small child in Wales allegedly seen playing with one of these terrible creatures.

BOOK: Masks of the Illuminati
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