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A Cthulhu Working

A Chaos Working calling the Priest of the Elder Gods

-Michael J Dangler

Last night, Tina was out.

So I did a long chaos working.

To Cthulhu.

It was a strange night. It's turning into a stranger day.

Last night I was dancing naked in the basement, covered in body paint and sweating up a storm.

This morning, my hands are red from the drumming I did, and my voice is slightly raw from shouting, but as the day progresses, things are better. At least physically.

It's strange trying to break paradigm and get out of the role I was in last night as pure devotee and ecstatic. I invoked the presence of Cthulhu and was awed by it, and feared it.

I've done this before, yes, but every time there's a similar feeling: one of cold darkness, murky where the sunlight can't reach it. It's a mixture of ecstasy and despair, the quickening that fear without care brings followed closely by the weight of knowledge of your own mortality.

(all photos on this page link to larger ones)

Altar view 2 | Altar view 3

I stood before my altar, the single black candle lit. Below, an image of Cthulhu stood, gazing stoically and disapprovingly at me. A sword hung on the altar, and a flogger. To the left was one Necronomicon, the blasphemous tome of the ancient Sumerians. To the right was another Necronomicon, this one a modern translation with description of the rites and a critical overview of the many works that have influenced its various incarnations in history. In front of the altar lay a truly unique book. This one is no sham, no ignorant fool's childish toy. This book is truly blasphemous, and I know that it is the only one of its kind. From it I read:

Ia Azathoth,
Ia Panphage

I pulled the ropes over my shoulder, and began to beat the drum in a low, monotonous manner. I repeated the chant, slowly centering my voice deeply into it. The drum beat caused my body to move, and soon the chant had become a mad rush and the drum beat was matching my heartbeat as it sped blood through my body. My feet began to move, and my body writhe in ecstasy. I had forgotten where I was, what I was doing, and was centered only on the chant, only on the movement, only on the mad beating of my heart.

I danced for a long time, lost in the movement. I danced until my muscles begged me to stop, until the blue paint mingled with my sweat and dripped onto the floor, and then I danced longer. The chant became louder as strange white noise seemed to enter the room.

Finally, I stopped.

Ya na kadishtu nilgh'ri stell'bsna Nyogtha,
K'yarnak phlegethor l'ebumna syha'h n'ghft,
Ya hai kadishtu ep r'luh-eeh Nyogtha eeh,
S'uhn-ngh athg li'hee orr'e syha'h.

I called out into the darkness. I did not practice the invocation before, because reciting the words aloud is dangerous in any setting, but in a ritual one they're somewhat controlled. Or so one likes to think. In reality (if indeed there is a reality of these things), there's no safe way to recite them.

Some people call the Necronomicon and the Lovecraftian Old Ones a bunch of hokum. They're right. Problem is, when you are kneeling before an altar, candles lit, drum pounding, and small blasphemous book before you, it's hard to believe in hokum, and easy to believe in Cthulhu.

My arms flew out from my sides, and my face turned to the ceiling:

Ia Cthulhu F'htagn!
Ia Cthulhu F'htagn!
Ia Cthulhu F'htagn!
Ia Cthulhu F'htagn!
Ia Cthulhu F'htagn!

The chant ripped itself from my throat and resonated in the walls. I stood for a moment, and then shouted it again. Another moment, and again the words tore themselves from my throat. I broke again into the dance and the drumming, and as I look back on it now, I'm not sure that what I did was wholly of my own volition.

I danced and drummed, chanting as loudly as my voice would now allow. I twisted and cried out, my feet leaving the cold ground and my arms wildly spinning, and then my hands quickly returned to the drum to prevent a loss of rhythm.

Finally, I reached the dream state of total exhaustion. The point where what is real collides with what is not. I had pulled gnosis.

Phnglui Mglwnafh Cthulhu R'lyeh Wgah Nagl F'htagn!

I stopped for a moment, silent and anxious with fear and awe, then:

I have called you by your True Name, Old One, and I command you to do my bidding.

Here, I think Phil Hine said it best:

"My carefully-nurtured magician-self ("I can command these beings, I can!") goes into momentary overdrive and then collapses, exhausted by the inrush of eternity. Run away. Hide."

I came across that quote today, while trying to make sense of the whole thing.

I was knee-deep in the ritual, enjoying the feeling of exhilaration and attainment that comes with ordering these deities around like they were a couple of six-year-olds. I was awakening Cthulhu in R'lyeh, and I could see his dream-crusted eye opening to gaze out onto the world again.

His tentacles moved, and his eye continued to open. I felt the rush of power, the feeling of control crescendo in my ears, an amazing amount of white noise that pounded down a mountain.

It was then that I realized I was crashing down the mountain with it.

I fell, clawing at the mountain in fear. The slope was too much, the rocks too sharp. Faster I fell with the water, speeding to a place where the mountain ended, and I knew an abyss lay beyond.

I knew the depths of that abyss.

At the bottom would be a dark thing. I knew its name but I could not speak it. My voice was hoarse, my throat dry with fear, and my mind seized with terror.

The torrent of water approached the pit, and I with it, the waters now black and full of slime. Still these waters beat against the rocks, and still I fell. I could clearly see the abyss now, and could find movement within it.

Despair hit me. Fear won out. I'd made a mistake. My skills were not up to this challenge. I would die, or worse, if I went over that cliff.

And over I went.

Now I saw deep into the pit, that sea of darkness below me, and I saw the things man is not meant to see. Man is meant only to dream of these horrors when the night is so dark that only evil moves.

I fell into the darkness, the things looming larger below me. Shapes came into view: star-shaped entities appeared and slid into deeper dark; tentacles from unknown and unseen bodies reached for me and fell back; I fell past things that might have been giant buildings for their size and structure, and yet they breathed.

I fell for a long time, horrors swirling in and out of my vision. On occasion, I would hear the call of the soggoths: Tekeli-li! Tekeli-li! The sound does not appear horrific on paper, but when heard as you approach the depths of madness, there is nothing more terrifying.

For a time I forced myself to see, to listen. The last vestiges of the Magician still holding fast to the idea that this was an adventure, but soon even those traces left my mind. I shut my eyes against the things I saw, and pushed my hands against my ears to shut out the noises, though it did not help. I curled my knees to my chest, and tears were whipped away by the howling wind. I fell further still.

Finally, I could bear it no more. I cried out:

Na'ghimgor thdid lym.
Myn th'x barsoom lu'gndar.
In'path gix mth'nabor.
In'path nox vel'dekk.
Yig sudeth M'cylorum.
M'xxlit kraddath Soggoth im'betnk.
Nog s'dath blexmed!

I forced my eyes open again. I pulled my hands from my ears. The soggoth-sound had ceased. The falling sensation was gone. I felt, though I could not see, that I was floating parallel to the ground.

Below me was a mass of tentacles. They bubbled and stretched, breathing as if they were each alive, each in control of itself. Covering them was a black ooze, primordial and ancient.

At the center of these tentacles, I saw the dream-encrusted eye. It stared through me, still sleeping in its deep watery grave, where death one day would die.

I screamed, not knowing what else to do, as the eye burned its way into my mind. It is still there now, and I see it clearly. I screamed forever, hanging there, pitiful, cowardly, and lacking any will of my own.

Rational thought was gone, but a final irrational thought surfaced. It was no more than a whisper, but it had passed my mind enough that in these situations I could count on it.

Banish with laughter, it whispered. Banish with laughter.

It was the absurdity of that statement alone that sent me into a fit. When faced with Cthulhu, how can laughter help? What good is a simple giggle, or a snicker, or a full-on belly laugh?

Simple: it is no good. And that is why I laughed. I laughed at the eye, I laughed at the ooze. I laughed at the tentacles that were now reaching for me. The laughter of a madman, it was; the laughter of someone with nothing left to lose. I laughed until my side split, and then I laughed longer. I shut my eyes, and tears began to form. I clutched my stomach and doubled over.

When I could finally open my eyes, I was lying on the floor, still experiencing giggle-fits. The thought of the tentacles made me giggle harder as Cthulhu was relegated to a simple anime tentacle monster, attacking schoolgirls at the bus stop. The thought of the ooze was worse, and the eye was equally funny (though the image alone is still fearful). I looked up at my altar, where the fake books sat, along with my lone original, and laughed at them. I gazed at the miniature Cthulhu and imagined it in women's' underwear, and had to shut my eyes again as tears rolled down my cheeks. The blue paint on the floor, smudged into a strange pattern, was like a Rorschach test, and I saw many obscene things in it.

When I calmed down, I rolled onto my feet. I stepped to the bathroom and turned on the shower, careful not to drip paint anywhere else. The hot water hit me as I closed the curtain, and I laughed again at the blue swirling down the drain. Then the sounds began, and my laughter stopped.

Tekeli-li! Tekeli-li! I heard. Tekeli-li! Tekeli-li!

My eyelids jumped open. I grabbed the curtain and threw it back, paint and water spinning out of the stall. I stood there, looking into the bathroom, out the door, and a cold chill hit my dripping body.

I slammed the water off, and listened.

No further sounds came.

I smiled to myself finally, thinking again about the obscene Rorschach I would need to clean up, and turned the water back on. Non-existent deities don't follow people out of trances.

I finished my shower and dried off. While doing so, I noticed something strange: four bruises on my back, high on my left shoulder and fresh. I looked at them in the mirror for a while, trying to place them, and found I could not. I pulled on some clothes and sat down to read.

Tekeli-li! Tekeli-li! I heard. Tekeli-li! Tekeli-li!

A shiver ran down my spine. I was sure I heard them that time! Had the soggoths come to get me, to dissect me and leave my body in their deep cities beneath the ice?

I stood, and searched the house. Nothing was there. I began to smile again, to laugh. Fiction has a way of getting to you, but it isn't real.

This morning, I was sleeping soundly. It was Magellan, one of my cats, perfectly still a moment ago, who was now hissing in my ear that woke me up. I sat up in my bed, and looked at Magellan, his fur raised, his eyes on the floor next to the bed.

Tekeli-li! Tekeli-li! I heard. Tekeli-li! Tekeli-li!

The noises were from under the bed.

By this time, I was sick of the soggoths following me. I was angry at them, and no longer willing to play nice. Monsters do not hide under my bed.

I threw my head over and stared hard into the darkness under the bed. I was greeted only with dust bunnies. Soggoths are more dangerous, but dust bunnies are more real.

The day continued like this. Tekeli-li! Tekeli-li! I would hear. Tekeli-li! Tekeli-li!

When I would seek the source, it would not exist. At work, I heard their voice, but when I turned I found a co-worker asking a question. When I went dancing this evening, I heard them call, but when I approached the corner, I found only an empty shot glass. Many things lurked in that club, but while most of them were masks, there were people behind them.

I do not hear them now, at least not so much. I think the effects of the rite are finally gone.

Body paint view 2 | Body paint view 3

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