Kenneth Grant: The Ninth Arch — Typhonian O.T.O.

The Ninth Arch


Kenneth Grant

The Ninth Arch - Kenneth Grant

Starfire Publishing Ltd is proud to announce the publication on 21st December 2002 of this long awaited book, the ninth and final volume in the series of Typhonian Trilogies. It is available in a first edition of 1,000 copies. The book is hard-back, sewn binding, 640 pages long, including Appendices, a Glossary and an Index. There are also 26 pages of monochrome plates. The frontispiece is a colour reproduction of a 1955 pastel, ‘Man is a Bu Osman Spare; whilst the volume closes with a colour plate consisting of the front cover designs for all nine volumes of the Typhonian Trilogies. The standard issue is bound in black Wibalin, and comes protected by a dust-jacket with colour design back and front by Steffi Grant.

The first 97 copies comprise a deluxe issue, now SOLD OUT, available only from the publishers. The covers are bound in hand-made paper, and quarter-bound in black Morrocco, with coloured endpapers, and matching top and tail bands to the binding. Each copy includes the dust-jacket, and is individually numbered and signed by Kenneth and Steffi Grant. The deluxe issue is SOLD OUT.

The price of the standard issue is £30, and the price of the deluxe issue is £65. Postage and packing is extra, depending on where the order is to be sent; the rates are as follows:




United Kingdom



Americas, Canada






Australasia, Pacific Rim




The book can be ordered directly from the publishers. Please add the cost of postage and packing, as above. Despatch outside the UK is by airmail printed papers rate. Payment in Sterling only please, payable to "Starfire Publishing Ltd", and send your order to:

Starfire Publishing Ltd.
BCM Starfire
London WC1N 3XX

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Glimpses Through the Ninth Arch

The Ninth Arch, comprising the Book of the Spider (OKBISh), is the final volume of a series of Trilogies which trace the emergence into historic times of an ancient body of occult doctrine known as the Typhonian Tradition.

In order fully to understand its purpose and content, The Ninth Arch should be scanned against the background of the larger canvas on which it is painted. Such an approach will facilitate insight into the Oracles of OKBISh and their accompanying comments. As an additional aid to focussing salient features of the Tradition, the author’s Nightside Narrative, Against the Light (Starfire Publishing, 1997) should serve as a helpful and explanatory ‘footnote’ to the circumstances existing at the time OKBISh was ‘received’.

The Oracles were communicated audibly, and occasionally visually, to various members of New Isis Lodge (1955-62) and at certain stages of magical ritual. The Current which generated the material began, sporadically, as early as 1939, with the initial movement of a transmission which developed over the years into the text known as the Wisdom of S’lba (see Outer Gateways, Skoob Books Publishing, 1994). In 1945, the Wisdom – then in its nascent stage – was recognized by Aleister Crowley as an authentic communication. From that time, the Informing Intelligence went on to complete the Wisdom, and proceeded to produce the massive series of Oracles presented in The Ninth Arch. The mode of reception has been described in the Introduction. The method of documentation confirms beyond cavil the validity of serial qabalah, as used previously in analyses of the Wisdom. The richly complex pattern of magical correspondences, in both cases, has proved of unparalleled value in determining genuine contact with occult forces possessed of Knowledge and Prescience concerning important terrestrial Events. That the pattern reflects direct contact with an indefinitely ancient yet ever new Typhonian Gnosis, is demonstrated by the application of relentless and rigorous qabalistic exegesis, as recorded in the comments.

For readers interested in significant relationships between Numerical (physical) and Magico-Mystical (metaphysical) concepts, The Ninth Arch contains an exhaustive thesaurus of the Typhonian Tradition. But beyond considerations of gematria, the Oracles of OKBISh adumbrate Events likely to overtake planet Earth within the lifetime of many of the book’s readers; and – for individuals who are able to interpret the Oracles in terms relative to their own magical universe – they issue warnings of the dangers that lie ahead of those unprepared to invoke the Sign of Protection against the oncoming wave of Outer Forces set to assume control of the planet. Now, at the turn of a millennium, it seems appropriate to release this Knowledge.



Launch for "The Ninth Arch" by Kenneth Grant

The launch for "The Ninth Arch" was held on the evening of 21st December 2002 in the function room of The Plough Inn, Museum Street, London. The launch started at 6pm, and shortly afterwards a buffet reception was served. Michael Staley explained that Kenneth was unable to attend the launch, and so in the absence of the organ-grinder people would have to make do with the monkey this evening. Copies of the standard edition of "The Ninth Arch", signed by Kenneth and Steffi Grant especially for the launch, were on sale.

At 7.15pm, Michael gave the first of two talks, a brief overview of Kenneth Grant’s work prior to "The Ninth Arch". The talk included extracts from various of Grant’s books, and these were read out by Caroline Wise. The text of this talk, which was well received, follows:



Part I: The Typhonian Trilogies

The Typhonian Trilogies consist of nine volumes, spread across thirty years, from the first, The Magical Revival, in 1972, to the final, The Ninth Arch, published now in 2002. Although each volume is complete in itself, taken in series they represent a developing body of work.

Before considering this series in more detail, we need to know something of its origins. Grant's formative years are the years of New Isis Lodge, the magical group he founded in the early 1950s, whose main body of work ran from 1955 to 1962, and who disbanded a few years later. As a young man, Grant was passionately interested in the occult, and read widely in mythology, comparative religion, mysticism and magic. In the course of his studies he came across the work of, among others, Aleister Crowley and Austin Osman Spare, and was attracted to both. In 1944 he initiated a correspondence with Aleister Crowley, and lived with Crowley for a short time in 1945 as his chela or disciple, singing for his supper by acting as secretary. During this time Grant received oral instruction from Crowley. He also received Crowley's portrait of Lam, to which he had felt drawn on first seeing it in Crowley's portfolio, and which Crowley finally gave him in gratitude for help during a particularly bad night for his health. In 1991 Grant published a memoir of his association with Crowley, entitled Remembering Aleister Crowley. This is an affectionate memoir, but it does not shrink from depicting a relationship that was at times difficult. Crowley was old, ill, and frail, and was often cantankerous. Nevertheless, Grant learnt a lot from Crowley. There is a tradition of darshan, of receiving initiation from being in the presence of the guru; that just as a picture tells more than any amount of words, there is an understanding and an insight that is passed from adept to adept which is priceless.

A little after Crowley's death in 1947, Grant finally met Austin Osman Spare. This was a longer relationship, lasting until Spare's death in 1956. And also, to judge from the account published by Kenneth and Steffi in their Zos Speaks! in 1998, as well as the earlier Images & Oracles of Austin Osman Spare, published in 1975, it was a deeper, perhaps less formal relationship. It is my impression, as a reader of Grant's work, that Spare had the greater impact on him. Spare's work is certainly more fugitive than Crowley's, but is somehow closer to the source of consciousness in cosmic imagination. An account of the relationship between the Grants and Spare is given in Zos Speaks!. It was due in no small part to the urgings of the Grants that Spare reconstructed much of the Alphabet of Desire and other aspects of his system which he had largely forgotten over the years, and committed much else to paper.

During the early 1950s, a circle of occultists accumulated around Grant that formed the core of a working group, New Isis Lodge. Several of the members had been members of the O.T.O. under Crowley - Kenneth and Steffi themselves, of course; a furrier and alchemist, David Curwen; and a woman who Grant refers to by her magical name Clanda. Spare himself was never a member of New Isis Lodge, preferring to work alone. He did though support the Grants in their endeavours, and designed several backdrops for the Lodge. The Grants described New Isis Lodge as a dependent cell of the O.T.O., and it had a grade structure and programme of work which owed much more to Crowley's Astrum Argenteum than to the O.T.O. as it was in Crowley's day. The relationship with Curwen was also instrumental in Grant obtaining a copy of a commentary by a Kaula adept on a tantric text, the Anandalahari. This gave important insights into tantric sexual magic, approaching sex magic from a very different direction to that of Crowley. Crowley's approach to sex magick is basically solar-phallic, not to say phallo-centric. That is, there is great emphasis on the importance of the male sexual energies, but very little on the female energies. Often, the woman partner is merely a cup into which the male magician pours his starfire. The Kaula text approached the matter from a different perspective, accentuating the role of the kalas and how they vary through the menstrual cycle.

The Grants issued a Manifesto of New Isis Lodge on its launch in 1955, in which they spoke of the discovery of a planet beyond Pluto, the transplutonic Isis, and what it might mean for the evolution of consciousness on this planet. Leaving aside the matter of whether or not there is a planet in this solar system beyond Pluto, it is surely obvious that the Grants were not talking about the discovery of a physical planet. Such a discovery would have been more relevant to an astronomical journal. If we bear in mind that the first sephirah, Pluto, is attributed to Pluto, then a transplutonic planet, would the "One Beyond Ten", the Great Outside. Grant expressed it thus some years later, in Aleister Crowley and the Hidden God:

In The Book of the Law, the goddess Nuit exclaims: "My number is eleven, as all their numbers who are of us", which is a direct allusion to the A.. A.., or Order of the Silver Star, and its system of Grades. Nuit is the Great Outside, represented physically as "Infinite Space and the Infinite Stars thereof" - that is, I s i s. Nuit and Isis are thus identified in The Book of the Law. Isis is terrestrial space, illuminated by the stars. Nuit is outer, or infinite space, the undying darkness that is the hidden source of Light; She is also, in a mystical sense, Inner Space and the Great Within.

Throughout the years 1959 to 1963, the Grants produced a series of monographs, the Carfax Monographs, each one on a different subject. Years later, in 1989, these were published in one volume as Hidden Lore.

Grant has not published a great deal about the magical rituals of New Isis Lodge so far, but a number of anecdotes arising from the workings, what Grant calls 'magicollages', are scattered across many of the nine volumes of the Typhonian Trilogies, principally Hecate's Fountain, published ten years ago, in 1992. There are also glimpses of Lodge Workings in Grant's fiction.

Grant's subsequent work arises out of the work done in New Isis Lodge. These years were thus extremely formative ones for him. Before New Isis Lodge he had an extremely broad and deep learning, as well as his association with Crowley and Spare. However, all these influences were synthesised through the magical workings of New Isis Lodge. It is the experiences gained through these workings, the initiation, the insight, which powers Grant's subsequent work. It is the well-spring without which Grant's work would have dried up. Without it, he would have become just another imitator of the work of others - and god knows we have enough of them.

An article was published by Grant in the 'International Times' at the end of the 1960s, about Crowley, in which he states that he has written a study of the work of Crowley and others, called Aleister Crowley and the Hidden God. Subsequently he submitted this to the London publishers Frederick Muller, who expressed their interest in it, but suggested that due to its size it should be split down into two volumes. The first volume was published in 1972 as The Magical Revival .

The Magical Revival is a study and analysis of a variety of occult traditions which have survived over many thousands of years, and which are now reviving in fresh forms and new vigours. In particular the genesis and development of the Draconian Cult throughout the Egyptian Dynasties is traced, and against this more ancient backdrop are examined the more modern manifestations such as Blavatsky, Crowley, the Golden Dawn, Dion Fortune, and Austin Osman Spare. It is demonstrated that though these are recent manifestations, they are rooted in the much older magical current which has nourished and sustained all subsequent efflorations. Included as a plate in the book is a reproduction of Crowley's drawing of Lam, the first time it had been published since its original publication in The Blue Equinox in 1919.

This was succeeded in 1973 by the second volume, Aleister Crowley and the Hidden God. This is a study more specifically of Crowley's system of sex magick, amplified by a consideration of the Kaula commentary referred to above. There is also a chapter on 'Nu-Isis and the Radiance Beyond Spare', in which Grant refers to New Isis Lodge and its programme of work.

Cults of the Shadow was published in 1975, and explored obscure aspects of occultism that are frequently viewed negatively as 'black magic', the 'left hand path', etc. Of particular note is a chapter on the work of Frater Achad and the Aeon of Maat, in which Grant takes a somewhat sceptical view of Frater Achad's claims of the dawning of the Aeon of Maat. Subsequently Grant came to change his views. The book also contained a couple of chapters on the work of Michael Bertiaux.

The second Trilogy opens with Nightside of Eden, published in 1977. This is essentially an exploration of the Tunnels of Set, which lie under the paths of the Tree of Life. This work was based initially on a brief and obscure work by Crowley, Liber 231, first published in The Equinox. This book consists of sigils of the genii of the 22 scales of the Serpent, and the sigils of the 22 cells of the Qliphoth, and some obscure oracles. This work evidently fascinated Grant, and the exploration of these cells of the Qliphoth forms the backbone of the work of New Isis Lodge. Grant has been criticised in some quarters for working with what some regard as the evil and averse aspects of magic. However, the darker aspects of experience are just as necessary to understand as the lighter aspects; an understanding of both is necessary.

In 1980 Grant published Outside the Circles of Time, a work that covers an extremely wide area and exposes, to quote from the cover blurb: "a network more complex than was ever imagined: a network not unlike H.P. Lovecraft's dark vision of sinister forces lurking at the rim of the universe". The book is most famous, perhaps, for showcasing the work of Soror Andahadna, a contemporary Priestess of Maat whose work had parallels with the work of Frater Achad many decades before. Many Thelemites have problems with the Aeon of Maat. As far as they are concerned, each Aeon lasts 2,000 years; we are at the beginnings of the Aeon of Horus, so Maat is a way off yet. They will echo Crowley's famous retort to the young Grant: "Maat can wait!". However, the following passage from Outside the Circles of Time puts the matter in a much more interesting light:

Myths and legends are of the past, but Maat should not be thought of in terms of past or future aeons. Maat is present now for those who, knowing the 'sacred alignments' and the 'Gateway of Inbetweenness', experience the Word ever coming, ever emaning, from the Mouth, in the ever new and ever present forms that are continually being generated from the mystical Atu or House of Maat, the Ma-atu ...

But the book is about much more. It is a potent weaving of a host of apparently diverse strands into a single, broad and powerful current. Though Grant's books are all different from their predecessors, Outside the Circles of Time seemed to herald a jump into a different dimension.

Outside the Circles of Time was the last book published by Muller, and there was a break of 12 years until 1992, when Skoob Publishing published Hecate's Fountain. Grant had originally conceived this as an account of the rituals of New Isis Lodge. However, as is often the case, the work took on a momentum of its own and threw forth a quite different flower. The book was still woven around the work of the Lodge. However, this work is illustrated as anecdotal accounts of specific workings, illustrating in particular what Grant refers to as 'tangential tantra', whereby a magical working has curious and sometimes alarming side-effects at odds with its apparent purpose. Grant traces these anomalies to a catalytic interface which he calls 'the Mauve Zone', existing between the realms of dreaming and dreamless sleep. There are movements, whorlings and eddies in the Mauve Zone which give rise to tenuous wraiths, dreams, images which enter the awareness and are clothed in the imagination.

The third Trilogy opens with Outer Gateways, published by Skoob in 1994. This book continues and amplifies some of the themes of Hecate's Fountain. It contains a lengthy account of the apparently contradictory strands of The Book of the Law, explores Crowley's work in relation to the Sunyavada, has some remarkable things to say about creative gematria. However, the core of it is undoubtedly The Wisdom of S'lba and the several chapters of analysis which follow. S'lba is a beautiful, highly-charged and rich transmission received over many years by Kenneth Grant since the late 1930s, the bulk of it received during the years of New Isis Lodge.

There is a good deal of misunderstanding about the nature of transmissions. It is not a case of simply taking dictation from a discarnate entity. Contact with what is referred to as the inner planes is a great deal more complex and more subtle than that. Take for instance the following introductory note by Grant:

The series of verses entitled collectively the Wisdom of S'lba ... were not written down at any particular time or place, although the state of consciousness in which they were received was invariably the same. The process was initiated as early as the year 1939 when the Vision of Aossic first manifested in the manner described in Outside the Circles of Time (chapter 8). The vision unfolded sporadically throughout the time of Aossic's association with Aleister Crowley and Austin Osman Spare. But the dynamic aspect of the Working, that is to say the integration of the Vision into a coherent whole, occurred during the period of New Isis Lodge's existence.


The next volume, Beyond the Mauve Zone, was just about to go to press when Grant's publishers, Skoob Publishing, decided that they would publish nothing further by him. No reason for this was ever given. The result was that a few more years went by until its eventual publication, by Starfire Publishing, in 1999. Beyond the Mauve Zone is, as its name suggests, a deeper consideration of that region between dreamless sleep and dreaming which fecundates imagination, and in particular a consideration of various methods of accessing the Mauve Zone. There are three chapters on the Kaula Rite of the Fire Snake, giving much more material from the initiated Kaula commentary obtained from David Curwen. There is also a protracted analysis of Liber Pennae Praenumbra received by Soror Andahadna, and an account of the work of the Serbian Zivorad Mihajlovic Slavinski.

Looking back over these first eight volumes of the Typhonian Trilogies, we can see how much Grant's work has changed, and yet has reintegrated with its source. Great and deep though the earlier volumes are, they give little hint of the glorious flowering that is the third and final Trilogy. It is the last volume, The Ninth Arch, to which our attention next turns.

However, to close this part of the talk, there is a passage from Outside the Circles of Time which I have always found inspirational. It expresses a concept which is the keynote of much of Grant's work, and it does so in a way which is exceptionally beautiful and intensely moving. It is the closing two paragraphs of the Introduction to that extraordinary book:

One final point is here relevant, and I state it without apology. It is not my purpose to try to prove anything; my aim is to construct a magical mirror capable of expressing some of the less elusive images seen as shadows of a future aeon. This I do by means of suggestion, evocation, and by those oblique and 'inbetweenness concepts' that Austin Spare defined as 'Neither-Neither'. When this is understood, the reader's mind becomes receptive to the influx of certain concepts that can, if received undistortedly, fertilize the unknown dimensions of his consciousness. In order to achieve this aim a new manner of communication has to be evolved; language itself has to be reborn, revivified, and given a new direction and a new momentum. The truly creative image is born of creative imagining, and this is - ultimately - an irrational process that transcends the grasp of human logic.

It is well known that scientists and mathematicians have evolved a cryptic language, a language so elusive, so fugitive, and yet so essentially cosmic that it forms an almost qabalistic mode of communication, often misinterpreted by its own initiates! Our position is not quite as desperate, for we are dealing primarily with the body-mind complex in its relation to the universe, and the body-aspect is deeply rooted in the soil of sentiency. Our minds may not understand, but in the deeper layers of subconsciousness where humanity shares a common bed, there is instant recognition. Similarly, a magician devises his ceremony in harmony with the forces he wills to invoke, so an author must pay considerable attention to the creation of an atmosphere that is suitable for his operations. Words are his magical instruments, and their vibrations must not produce a merely arbitrary noise, but an elaborate symphony of tonal reverberations that trigger a series of increasingly profound echoes in the consciousness of his readers. One cannot over-emphasize or over-estimate the importance of this subtle form of alchemy, for it is in the nuances, and not necessarily in the rational meanings of the words and numbers employed, that the magick resides. Furthermore, it is very often in the suggestion of certain words not used, yet indicated or employed by other words having no direct relation to them, that produce the most precise definitions. The edifice of a reality-construct may sometimes be reared only by an architecture of absence, whereby the real building is at one and the same time revealed and concealed by an alien structure haunted by probabilities. These are legion, and it is the creative faculty of the reader - awake and active - that can people the house with souls. So then, this book may mean many things to many readers, and different things to all; but to none can it mean nothing at all, for the house is constructed in such a manner that no echo can be lost.



It being the Winter Solstice, minced pies and mulled wine were then served. At 8.15 pm approximately, Michael then gave a second talk, this time giving a taste of "The Ninth Arch". There were two extracts early in the talk which were read by Caroline Wise. Extracts from ‘The Book of the Spider’ were read by Mary Hedger. Again the talk was well received (mulled wine has its uses), and the text of it follows:



Part II: The Ninth Arch

The Ninth Arch is woven around a transmission received over the course of New Isis Lodge workings, 'The Book of the Spider' or 'Liber OKBISh'. This transmission first started during a magical working of the 29th Tunnel of Set, Qulielfi, around 1952. The principal medium for the transmissions was a priestess known as Soror Arim. She appears in Grant's novel Against the Light as Margaret Leesing. She was not the only medium for the transmissions, but she played the larger role and co-ordinated the work of several priestesses of the Lodge.

The Book of the Spider is essentially a collection of cryptic oracles which were received over a number of years, and were in retrospect arranged into 29 chapters, each of 29 verses. Some of the verses were not heard, or have been lost, but this is the basic pattern. A couple of years after the original transmission was received, the Current once again became active, and a second transmission was received. This was a smaller number of verses, and again was arranged retrospectively into 3 additional chapters, again of 29 verses each.

The transmissions were sometimes audible, but sometimes apprehended visually also. Thus there are sigils amongst the verses.

With all this talk of transmissions, I think that we had better stop and remind ourselves of what Grant had to say in relation to the transmission of the Wisdom of S'lba:

The series of verses entitled collectively the Wisdom of S'lba ... were not written down at any particular time or place, although the state of consciousness in which they were received was invariably the same. The process was initiated as early as the year 1939 when the Vision of Aossic first manifested in the manner described in Outside the Circles of Time (chapter 8). The vision unfolded sporadically throughout the time of Aossic's association with Aleister Crowley and Austin Osman Spare. But the dynamic aspect of the Working, that is to say the integration of the Vision into a coherent whole, occurred during the period of New Isis Lodge's existence.

Transmissions are not a matter of establishing some sort of radio contact with a discarnate entity and transcribing what it has to say. A transmission can be via any of the senses. Often it will be intuited or subtly apprehended, with the imagination as catalyst. Imagination is not whim or fancy, though this is the baggage that the word has accumulated in modern times. Rather, imagination is the space in which things occur. It is cosmic, though there are individual areas of awareness of imagination, and it is those areas around the individual of which he or she is more immediately aware, that we regard as "our" imagination. The truth is, though, that it is not "ours", but a common or cosmic area, the local reaches of which we are more immediately aware.

Transmission takes many forms. It is an inspirational flow into the more personal areas of imagination, and will often become garbed in forms drawn from the personal subconscious. We see this in Lovecraft's work for instance, much of the inspiration occurring through dream, and expressed through imagery drawn from the extensive reading and day-dreaming of Lovecraft's childhood. This is not to be wondered at. Much as light is refracted and transformed by its passage through a prism or a piece of coloured glass, or as the setting sun through atmospheric matter produces a pageant of glorious and stirring colours, so the transmission of a Current will be coloured by the personal areas of imagination. This is absolutely inevitable. The wind, for instance, only becomes manifest in the stirring leaves of the tree through which it moves, the perfumes which it agitates, the skin against which it brushes, the shapes into which it swirls the desert sand.

At the time of the New Isis Lodge workings which attracted and then incubated this informing Current, the main Priestess, Margaret Leesing, and many of her colleagues, were extremely caught up in occult fiction, and in two books in particular - Dope by Sax Rohmer, and The Beetle by Richard Marsh. At this time, New Isis Lodge had evolved a magical ritual technique which involved the dramatization of fiction. As Kenneth Grant describes it in The Ninth Arch :

As already mentioned in the General Introduction to this book, the ritualists of New Isis Lodge utilized certain novels and stories as other magicians might use paintings or musical compositions to affect perichoresis and astral encounters. They entered into a tale as they might enter into a given picture, a scene, a desert, a crowded drawing-room, or other venue. Applied to the novel, the process develops dramatically as a vividly kinetic experience that becomes startlingly oracular. We used, principally, Richard Marsh's novel The Beetle, and Sax Rohmer's 'A Tale of Chinatown' or Dope, for no other reason than because the chief Skryer had recently read these writings, and because other Lodge members also were acquainted with them. Marsh's tale, in particular, was chosen because it contained the only published account known to the present author of the Children of Isis, and therefore seemed en rapport with the Wisdom of S'lba and with the oracles of OKBISh.

These are the circumstances, the prism, the coloured glass, though which the verses of the Book of the Spider is expressed. There is reference, for instance, to such characters as Shöa, the Evil Woman; to Sin Sin Wa, the Chinese villain and sage; to Tling-a-Ling, his pet raven and familiar; to Sam Tûk, his revered Ancestor; all these characters are drawn from Sax Rohmer's Dope. There are also references to other characters drawn from fiction, such as Helen Vaughan and Mrs Beaumont from Arthur Machen's story The Great God Pan. These are masks, clothing, and are not intended to point to profundities of meaning inherent in the stories in which these characters occur. There are references to scenes in novels, such as The Brood of the Witch Queen by Sax Rohmer; or characters from Lovecraft's stories, such as Joseph Curwen in The Case of Charles Dexter Ward. Take the verses of chapter 6, for example:

Oily waters, murky, lapping, licking the rotten timbers of the wharf encrusted with Limehouse slime.
Perhaps it was a Chandu dive where first I met her, Shöa, the Evil Woman.
No telling where a roamer might end up and find himself face to face with the bird of Sin Sin Wa.
There were in those days
Sails on the misty Yellow River
Chinese dreams, junks on the poppy trails. Nothing relevant to an aeon of
remorse except the faint green spirals of incense curling about the ecstatic features of a barbaric goddess ...
Shöa! Shöa! Shöa!
How the silent river fled and hid the white frills of its troubled surf between the dark flanks of the Witch-Queen, below Festat!
Only one plumbed the depths of that river and found nothing there
but the bones of innumerable crocodiles - bound for Fayûm, beneath the sacred lake.
And these bones assembled themselves
and made an immaculate Goddess in alabaster wrought,
or plaster bought of an image-caster in London's Chancery Lane.
Again the chinless abnormality with the lantern eyes and meldrum snout no yellow veil may hide. Darkening to a silhouette against the pure pale azure sky ... sixteen teeth and the sharpness of death washed by a surging vermilion foam.
Nightmare in the eyes. They increase, they wax, growing enormous they eclipse the whole accurséd face.
Floating in their abysmal skies the junk rides the gentle ripple as it laps the wharf.
A single lantern showers its beams on deserted streets licked by the encroaching tide
as it eats tiny holes in the decomposing planks. They overlap the water - calm now, swaying gently like the lantern.
They see - these eyes - where the steep staircase cleaves a deep furrow in the outer waves, and plunges.
All nautical now, reeking of fish and decaying hunks ...
It is possible at this point to swing oneself onto the staircase by means of the hawser-web the Spider spun but yesterday when
strolling down Chancery Lane in brilliant sunshine.
I collided head on with that indescribable monstrosity.

Much of this imagery is drawn from Sax Rohmer's novel Dope. The references to Limehouse, to Ho-Nan, to Chandu, to Shöa, to the Yellow River, to the poppy trails, for instance. There is the languor of dream, of reverie; the images seem to drift, to shift, to coalesce - to emerge, to flicker, to fall back.

There is another element. Several years ago we published a short story by Kenneth Grant entitled Against the Light, subtitled 'A Nightside Narrative'. This was written as a dramatization of some of the elements of The Book of the Spider, written as an introduction to it in fact. This was supposed to have been published between Beyond the Mauve Zone and The Ninth Arch, but this programme was disrupted by Skoob suspending publication of Grant's works. In the event it was published before Beyond the Mauve Zone. It stands very well as a novel in its own right, but it is very interwoven with The Book of the Spider and hence The Ninth Arch. Anyone acquainted with Against the Light will recognise the echoes in the verses just quoted - the oily waters, the rotting timbers of the wharf, the crocodiles, Chancery Lane in brilliant sunshine ...

There is much in the verses of The Book of the Spider which bears on the life of Kenneth Grant, and it seems at times as if the informing Current is principally directed at him. We should not be surprised at this. We are all of us expressing an informing Current of magical energy. None of us can express an absolute truth, but convey truth as we see it. The work of an adept is always in a sense intrinsic to him or her. The light is one but the lamps are many, and each lamp transmits that light in its own way.

Non-fictional characters are also woven into this Spider Web. These are the verses that are gathered into chapter 11:

It needed but one to reveal it. But the spider knew.
[From the destruction of mind that gives birth to Chaos
a zone of mauve is created, a desert of sand above the Tunnels of Set. The winds
hurry through them,
a sinister piping bearing the Beetle on its wings.]
It had in its mandibles millions of years; spanned infinite oceans.
No gulf too wide, no chasm too deep, that its fathomless wisdom does not embrace.
Flung into the heights the Shadows of the Outer Ones
play upon the walls of the Empty Place
above the secret cell where in the lidless cask the echoes of aeons reverberate
bringing down fresh fever
and a Word ...
spoken by another prophet when One arises and One descends, invoking the Beast.
Lam's legions through the eyes
burnings of Isis bring fresh fever
from the skies
Another woman shall awake
and slake the hunger of the Snake!
Yes - the Shadow falls: Shöa, the Evil Woman; Lilu, too, Hekt and the she-Goat OZ, and that Great Spirit that cannot be invoked because
It sleepeth. The Fire of the Earth and of Lam.
When She joins with the fever from the skies, Truth will prevail.
There is She.
(He that heeds these shadows of S'lba
goes in danger of destruction by the Children of Isis.)
A silent sampan glides upstream.
Wharf ... lanterns ... mist descending ...
Riverboats, their foghorns muffled in the dark of a Limehouse winter.
The jewelled tray, mother-of-pearl, the serene boatman. Dancing scintillations ... the cosy household fire ... the domestic hearth ... childhood. Flickering shadows on the walls, the napery, tea is served ...
Black man ... Black Eagle
Stone ... crumbling ... the still weir ...

In the course of The Book of the Spider, we become aware of a doctrine of avatars, whereby several persons living at the same time can each be embodiments of an entity. As anyone who has read Against the Light will know, it concerns a witch called Awryd, an ancestor of Grant's who was executed for witchcraft in the Sixteenth Century. Awryd returns, in the guise of Margaret Leesing, Soror Arim, the chief seer, and before her, Yelda Paterson, Spare's witch-mentor. However, the situation becomes more complex when several people living at the same time are each avatars of Awryd - for instance, Margaret Leesing and Clanda Fane, both contemporaries of Grant in New Isis Lodge. Some of the avatars are characters drawn from fiction, such as Helen Vaughan from Machen's The Great God Pan, or Besza Loriel from Grant's novel The Stellar Lode. There are references to David Curwen, another contemporary of Grant's in New Isis Lodge who had a strong interest in alchemy, being an avatar of Joseph Curwen, the alchemist whose dark presence looms large in one of Lovecraft's best stories, The Case of Charles Dexter Ward. Before going further, let us hear chapter 22:

Write these
Spells - they are woven by Awryd;
picked up by the first alchemist
passed on to the second after centuries had passed.
These are things Earth should know ... that when Joseph became David, Awryd's formula was made complete. Zos had it from a page of Grant's Grimoire, even in Yelda's time.
Explain, but darkly, how Awryd and Vaughan are one, that she became Yelda and Loriel and Fane. Machen knew the secret, but the Master did not.
When Aossic showed him S'lba, the Master knew that the nest had been found.
and that the nest is S'lba -
Ixaxaar Lam-Aiwass Ilyarun-bel-Aossic.
What a lugubrious game!
But Earth should know this:
that out of lost time
the Qliphoth of Daäth will descend
below Malkuth and void themselves through the Tunnels of Set.
A man named Black will open the Gate.
Those will fall through whom Black Eagle lets pass.
You will recover the Stone - you who hold the Sword of Zin and understand the knowing wink of Zos, and the unwavering glance of Sin Sin Wa whose Eye is single; and the Word
that arose. Set all this forth in a special Book so that those that read will quote the words of the Master's Angel: "Why hast thou whispered so ambiguous things?"
And if they reply: "Be precise!", ask them where they are from and where their destination.
They can not reply.
Or ask of them their Name as the Yellow One asked of me.
Only those of Khem - they know their Name - which was Their Word.
It took flesh of itself and in Festat manifested.
They can tell you why the coffer was void in the Pyramid without a Name.
It is without a Name because born of the Aeon without a Word outside the circles of time ...
and of the Tangled Light, Qrixkuor -
Awryd's Elemental of the Black Wings
--- the Tripod and the Stone
... and the Raven of Ho-Nan.

The reference to " ... explain, but darkly ... " is because there is something here which cannot be well articulated, but I shall try. It concerns the imagination, which as discussed earlier is cosmic. We misuse the term "imagination" when we use it to mean whim, fancy, something not rooted in fact. On the contrary, we are adrift in imagination. Images created in the imagination can take on a form perceptible to others. There are areas of the occult which are concerned with the creation of thought-forms. The fulcrum of group ritual magic is the creation of common images - images which all members of the group can draw upon. Imagination is the fulcrum of all this because it is the image-making faculty.

Helen Vaughan was not created by Machen. Rather, Helen Vaughan became perceptible to Machen. Essentially, she intruded into the localisation of imagination around Machen.

The Ninth Arch consists not only of The Book of the Spider, but of a verse by verse commentary. The fulcrum of commentary is the number of the verse running in serial order, whereby verse 1 of chapter 2 becomes 30, and so on. The verse is then commented upon taking into account gematrical correspondences for that number. Kenneth Grant has accumulated a vast amount of gematria over the years, and has drawn upon it exhaustively for this commentary. Having said that, there is a great deal of material in the commentary other than gematria.

The Ninth Arch is the diadem of the Typhonian Trilogies. I have the impression that although the work done in New Isis Lodge was Grant's formative work, the foundation of everything which he has done since, by the same token it is the work done over the years since New Isis Lodge which has enabled Grant to understand fully the work of those earlier years, and to take it to another level. Kenneth Grant's initiation continues apace.

To close this introductory talk on The Ninth Arch, I should like us to hear the final collection of verses, chapter 32:

From the stairhead she descended
bearing the battered volume 67964
an innocent tale for children
who became the Children of Isis.
A page of it is enough to send you beyond sleep.
A torn page of it covered in childhood scribbles and scrawls - if held against the light
reveals ...
I followed the critter's advice.
That is why I know the contents of Grant's Grimoire and the secret of the Ninth Arch.
Why not follow the Spider's web?
Hop from strand to strand of its glittering tracery ...
Meet the awesome insect
Like a vast beetle emerging from the vulva of Isis!
Why not? To do so signals the end of this world-web, and as one dangles over narrow voids above Dunsanian gulfs ...
even a Sime would hesitate.
Let us then close the grimoire.
Let us not dive into the arms of Her, whose brow bears the telltale mark of an alien qliphoth.
Phineas Black; deep mysterious Phineas Black took back to the Stars the secret of an awful spawn.
Tarry awhile, 'though your feet slip upon the crazy pathway ...
'though the arches fly past in your abysmal fall like the cavernous eye-sockets in a skull from which Baphomet even would recoil ...
The shadow of Anubis
like Mr. Meldrum
walks unbidden in a human walker
stalker of nightmares in the aftermath of holy days ...
Hunted the hunter hunts
no bright survivor
and an aeon of darkness; the Darkness that is undying wherein the nosferatu eat the shades.
On the table-cloth with knife-crisp folds is spread the feast ...
Fall to!



A few languourous remarks followed from Michael, in which he thanked various people for their help in bring "The Ninth Arch" to publication. Specifically, Robert Taylor, his fellow director in Starfire Publishing; Soror Artemis, the third director; Peter Smith, for great assistance with typesetting; and most importantly, Kenneth Grant for writing the book in the first place. He also thanked Mary Hedger and Caroline Wise for their part in the two talks of the evening.

The remainder of the evening was spent in feasting, drinking, and talking, otherwise known as networking. Thus ended a most successful and enjoyable evening.

It is planned to hold more launches and similar events in the future. If you would like to be added to the Starfire mailing list, please let us know.


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