The title refers to a poem by Aleister Crowley entitled Dust Devils which can be found here
Barbara and Sophie arrive at Daath where they are right off the map finding The Beggar and the Fountain. They encounter Crowley twice once in female form riding a camel ("When I'm like this you can call me Alice") and then performing the Chornozon working with Victor Neuberg. They also find another version of Austin Osman Spare but he does not remember their last encounter. They disintegrate and wind up at Binah.
"God help me, I wish I was dead." - Sophie
"I'm already dead. I just wish I'd never been born." -Promethea(5), pg 4
"We're right off the map here." - Sophie, pg 5
"I think that says "Daath" over the arch." - Sophie
""Daath?" What, like Daath Vader? - Promethea(5), pg 6
"When I'm like this, you can call me Alice." - Aleister Crowley, pg 8
"Here, Magicians become magic itself. The Penetrator becomes the Penetrated. Male becomes female." - Aleister Crowley, pg 9
"It was like something H.P. Lovecraft pulled out of his nose." - Promethea(5), pg 11
"…if you knocked the top crossbar off the Pi symbol, it's that "eleven" we saw. And because calculating Pi goes on forever, I guess that like the abyss, it's sort of bottomless…" - Sophie, pg 11
"A black tower. Y'know, for sayin' there's supposed to be nothin' here, this place is pretty scenic." - Promethea(5), pg 15
"Of this I know nothing. Of this, nothing may be said." - Austin Osman Spare, pg 16
"This is the Tower of the Adepts, the Black Brothers, and it is at Daath. No light is here emitted." - Austin Osman Spare, pg. 16
"The three heads of God were sundered from existence. Who shall say that this was accident? And likewise, who shall say that accidents be not but arabesques within some wider figure? Of this nothing is known." - Austin Osman Spare, pg 17
"Like its shattered plant or its unseen color, Daath is that knowledge, knowable only by its absence. It is the neither-neither. It is that knowledge here pursued by the black brother in the Tower of the Adepts. No light is here emitted. Fare you well sisters." - Austin Osman Spare, pg 17
"Well, if he was embarraseed about running into an old one-night stand, he only had to say." - Promethea(5), pg. 17
"Waters breaking. Waters breaking in the womb. Water of the great sea, breaking on the shores of Binah our Black Mother…" - Promethea(5), pg. 18
"It was like I wasn't there, like I was just a speaking tube for something……a hollow reed." - Promethea(5), pg 19
"Maybe he thought being torn to pieces was necessary." - Sophie, pg. 21
NOTES & ANNOTATIONS
First here is some discussion about this issue at Barbelith Underground
Anonymous who has access to Alan Moore himself told me that the Beggar and the Fountain were just made up by Alan Moore.
Here is the full version of how he found out in his own words
I once had someone who is annotating Alan Moore's comic Promethea writing to me on an almost daily basis asking me questions about the various occult minutiae of Promethea. In the end I told him I'd ask Alan. So I asked Alan, 'What did you mean when you wrote about this qabalistic pathway called "The Fountain", there isn't a qabalistic fountain path, this guy who's annotating Promethea keeps emailing me asking me questions about it.' Alan looks at me: 'I made that shit up Joel…' Now you know the inner workings of creative talent, the deep significance embedded in each creative choice that some worker ant will later write a commentary on, annotating every detail with voluminous notes. I smiled: 'Now I understand why you aren't on email.'
Joel Biroco's website
Page 1: Note that Panels 4-5 are copied almost exactly as Page 24, panels 1-2.
Note that unlike on the front cover where the caduceus points upwards here it is pointing downward on the equivalnet image in Panel 3.
Pages 2-3 Nice creepy spiral effects in the sky.
Pages 4-5 middle panel Spiral effects more focused in the sky.
Page 5 panels 3-5: Nice disorientating effect of turning our viewpoint upside down. I remember a similar effect being done in the movie Papillon.
Pages 5-6 top panel: Here are some links to interesting information about Daath:
Page 14 panel 4: Note the Crowley like bald head partly visible on one of the stone slabs. Nice distortion effect on the Black Tower.
The tower itself reminds me some of the building seen in From Hell Chapter IV.
Page 15 Panel 4: Even though this is a different version of Austin Osman Spare he still has those weird brightly colored figures floating around him.
Page 16, Panel 2: "…the Black Brothers"
TL advises me that:
The "black brothers" are the black magicians who do not succed in crossing the abyss. Crowley talks about them in "Magick in theory and practice".
Before crossing the abyss, you attain the grade of adeptus exemptus. This is an elevated state with mastery over time and space.
If you go lost in the Abyss, you will isolate yourself from the universe and become a vampyre, a hungry ghost who feeds on the energy of others.
In the contrary, if you give up your ego and "give your blood to the chalice of Babalon", you will cross the Abyss and become magister templi (master of the temple).
Here is the first account of the Black Brothers of the Left Hand Path. Each Exempt Adept must choose between the Crossing of the Abyss to become a Master of the Temple, and the building of a false tower of egoism therein.
(Crowley's own annotation to the 12th aethyr and the "dark brothers")
The "dark brothers" are mentionned in "The vision and the voice", 12th aethyr (this passage is also quoted in "The book of Thoth", chapter "lust"):
And this is the meaning of the Supper of the Passover, the spilling of the blood of the Lamb being a ritual of the Dark Brothers, for they have sealed up the Pylon with blood, lest the Angel of Death should enter therein. Thus do they shut themselves off from the company of the saints. Thus do they keep themselves from compassion and from understanding. Accursed are they, for they shut up their blood in their heart.
They keep themselves from the kisses of my Mother Babylon, and in their lonely fortresses they pray to the false moon. And they bind themselves together with an oath, and with a great curse. And of their malice they conspire together, and they have power, and mastery, and in their cauldrons do they brew the harsh wine of delusion, mingled with the poison of their selfishness.
Thus they make war upon the Holy One, sending forth their delusion upon men, and upon everything that liveth. So that their false compassion is called compassion, and their false understanding is called understanding, for this is their most potent spell. Yet of their own poison do they perish, and in their lonely fortresses shall they be eaten up by Time that hath cheated them to serve him, and by the mighty devil Choronzon, their master, whose name is the Second Death, for the blood that they have sprinkled on their Pylon, that is a bar against the Angel Death, is the key by which he entereth in
Some extra information sent in by TL:
Crowley talks about the Abyssus in Liber OS Abysmi vel Daath (Liber CDLXXIV = 474) and in Liber Taw-Yod-Shin-Aleph-Resh-Bet (ThIShARB) VIAE MEMORIAE sub figura CMXIII (Liber 913). In Liber OS, he describes how the study of dialectics (Kant, Hume, Hegel, Huxley, Berkeley, Buddhism) shatters the ordinary Ego and how the adepts finds again the holy guardian angel - similarly, Promethea is separated from Sophie in issue # 19, and reunited with her in issue # 21.
From Liber OS Liber OS:
10. Now let him consider special problems, such as the Origin of the World, the Origin of Evil, Infinity, the Absolute, the Ego and the non-Ego, Freewill and Destiny, and such others as may attract him.
11. Let him subtly and exactly demonstrate the fallacies of every known solution, and let him seek a true solution by his right Ingenium.
12. In all this let him be guided only by clear reason, and let him forcibly suppress all other qualities such as Intuition, Aspiration, Emotion, and the like.
13. During these practices all forms of Magick Art and Meditation are forbidden to him. It is forbidden to him to seek any refuge from his intellect.
14. Let then his reason hurl itself again and again against the blank wall of mystery which will confront him.
15. Thus also following is it said, and we deny it not. At last automatically his reason will take up the practice, sua sponte, and he shall have no rest therefrom.
16. Then will all phenomena which present themselves to him appear meaningless and disconnected, and his own Ego will break up into a series of impressions having no relation one with the other, or with any other thing.
17. Let this state then become so acute that it is in truth Insanity, and let this continue until exhaustion.
18. According to a certain deeper tendency of the individual will be the duration of this state.
19. It may end in real insanity, which concludes the activities of the Adept during this present life, or by his rebirth into his own body and mind with the simplicity of a little child.
20. And then shall he find all his faculties unimpaired, yet cleansed in a manner ineffable.
21. And he shall recall the simplicity of the Task of the Adeptus Minor, and apply himself thereto with fresh energy in a more direct manner.
22. And in his great weakness it may be that for awhile the new Will and Aspiration are not puissant, yet being undisturbed by those dead weeds of doubt and reason which he hath uprooted, they grow imperceptibly and easily like a flower.
23. And with the reappearance of the Holy Guardian Angel he may be granted the highest attainments, and be truly fitted for the full experience of the destruction of the Universe. And by the Universe We mean not that petty Universe which the mind of man can conceive, but that which is revealed to his soul in the Samadhi of Atmadarshana.
24. Thence may he enter into a real communion with those that are beyond, and he shall be competent to receive communication and instruction from Ourselves directly.
25. Thus shall We prepare him for the confrontation of Choronzon and the Ordeal of the Abyss, when we have received him into the City of the Pyramids.
Liber ThIShARB describes a method to go back in time and remember past
From Liber 913
1. It is of such importance to the Exempt Adept that We cannot overrate it. Let him in no wise adventure the plunge into the Abyss until he have accomplished this to his most perfectest satisfaction.
2. For in the Abyss no effort is anywise possible. The Abyss is passed by virtue of the mass of the Adept and his Karma. Two forces impel him:
(1) the attraction of Binah,
(2) the impulse of his Karma; and the ease and even the safety of his passage depend on the strength and direction of the latter.
3. Should one rashly dare the passage, and take the irrevocable Oath of the Abyss, he might be lost therein through Aeons of incalculable agony; he might even be thrown back upon Chesed, with the terrible Karma of failure added to his original imperfection.
4. It is even said that in certain circumstances it is possible to fall altogether from the Tree of Life, and to attain the Towers of the Black Brothers. But We hold that this is not possible for any adept who has truly attained his grade, or even for any man who has really sought to help humanity even for a single second, Those in possession of Liber CLXXXV. will note that in every grade but one the aspirant is pledged to serve his inferiors in the Order. and that although his aspiration have been impure through vanity or any similar imperfection.
5. Let then the Adept who finds the result of these meditations unsatisfactory refuse the Oath of the Abyss, and live so that his Karma gains strength and direction suitable to the task at some future period.
Another quote about the Black Brothers
In Magick Without Tears, the Beast 666 tells us (by way of a letter to an often confused sister of the Order) that the ultimate secret of the Ordo Templi Orientis could be used by the Black Brothers but that they would only succeed in destroying themselves with it. According to Grant, Crowley had regretted that Austin Osman Spare had become a Black Brother by
"'shutting himself up in a tower and immersing himself in the Pool of Narcissus', by which Crowley meant that Spare had resorted almost exclusively to the use of the magical formula known in the O.T.O. as the VIII°."
That is to say, somewhat crudely, magical masturbation .
It should also be noted, and I refer the reader to pages 109 through 117 of Magick Without Tears (Llewellyn Publications, 1973 E.V., Letter No. 12), that a Black Magician and a Black Brother are not the same thing and should not be confused. Crowley compares them to the sneak thief and a Hitler, respectively. He tells us that one who is about to become a Black Brother constantly restricts himself, satisfied with very limited ideas and is afraid of losing his precious individuality. He goes on to say that the Black Brother probably deserts his Angel when he realizes just what must be done, i.e. the destruction of the ego and all that pertains to it, and that, perhaps, from the very beginning, it is actually his Evil Genius which he has evoked. When this is done the man breaks off all relations with the Supernal Triad and attempts to replace it by inventing a False Crown of Daäth, as it is called in Qabalistic literature. To such men as these, that is, Black Brothers, Knowledge is everything and A.C. reminds us that this Knowledge is nothing but the very soul of Illusion. These adepts-gone-wrong, as it were, abstaining from the true nourishment of the Supernal Triad, lose their structual unity and must then be fed by continual doses of dope in miserable self-preservation. They declare Choronzon to be the child of Understanding and Wisdom, when in fact "he" is the shell or excrement of the Supernal Triad, and the bastard of the Svastika. What A.C. then tells us is most important for he says that Daäth and Choronzon are the Whirlpool and the Leviathan which is written of in the Holy Qabalah.
Quoted from this Source
Pages 16-17 middle panel: nice creepy effect of a black brother in one window pane. Not sure what the yellow triangle, etc. in the other window is though.
Page 16 panel 4 & Page 17 panels 1 and 3: Good distortion effects on the images here.
Page 17 Panel 2:arabesques:
French, from Italian arabesco Arabian in fashion, from arabo Arabian, from Latin Arabus
Date: circa 1656
: of, relating to, or being in the style of arabesque or an arabesque
an elaborate or intricate pattern
definition from your Dictionary.com
pages 20-21 top panel: Note the 3 dead birds at the points of the triangle.
Page 20 Top Panel:
According to Crowley's The Vision and the Voice The Cry of the 10th Aeyr the events depicted here occured:
on Dec. 6, 1909, between 2 and 4:15 p.m., in a lonely valley of fine sand, in the desert near Bou-Sada
Note that Crowley and Neuberg's head are starting to dissolve slightly like Sophie's shoes on page 12.
Here are some questions and answers about the positions of Crowley and Neuberg from the Wildstorm Promethea Message Boards:
Okay, obscure Promethea question. I’ve been working on annotations for Promethea, and in my research I’ve been reading biographies of Aleister Crowley. The biographies agree that he was a “bottom”, preferring the passive, receptive role in homosexual lovemaking.
Your rendition of the encounter between him and the poet Neuberg (damn, forgot how to spell his name) shows him taking the active, penetrative role. Was that your artistic decision, or was it specified in Moore’s script? Did you have a source describing Crowley deviating from his usual practices for this working, or did you choose this position to depict Crowley as the dominant personality in the relationship? I’m not criticizing, just puzzling over the meanings.
Question from Weeping Gorilla
that particular scene you are mentioning was specified by Alan for Crowley to be the "top". Even though its been documented for Crowley to be on the bottom he always had a pervasive personality and could be quite dominant. To be honest I'm not sure if Alan has an actual document describing the accurate details of their pairing during the ritual. But from what I can gather Alan was making a statement on Crowley's dominance in that situation. I will see if I can find out if there are any hard facts about this or not.
Further comment on this issue from Perigill
Just to add a word about the Choronzon summoning... Crowley (the fictional one) did imply that they both had to "expend their wills." Maybe a ritual that powerful required both magicians to be penetrated in order to "become the magic."
I doubt dominance had anything to do with it. As both heteros and gay folks should know, the partner on the bottom can be quite dominant.
And Weeping Gorilla’s thoughts on this
Maybe “expending the will” in Crowley’s system required a penile rather than a prostate orgasm.
On the other hand, given that Crowley’s plan seems to have been to summon Choronzon into himself rather than into Neuberg, I would have thought he would be the one requiring penetration.
The person in the top position seems dominant during sex. (As an aside, there’s a midrash that suggests that Adam’s first wife Lilith was cast aside because she climbed on top.) I could understand a writer or artist choosing that image to suggest the roles of each man in the relationship.
XI degree in OTO
Page 20 Panel 2:
For fuller details see Do What Thou Wilt, pgs 202-204.
Also Crowley’s The Vision and the Voice and Confessions
Pages 22-23: 3 great skull like faces being stretched in agony in the background
Page 24: As mentioned earlier panels 1 and 2 on this page are almost exact duplicated of panels 4 and 5 on Page 1
Transcript to be fixed up later Issue 20 Crowley
No other side
Endless falling waiting for impact that will never come
3 hours blackout
awakening fallind dream reality flourescent desert barren eeriness fantasy plummeting horror weeping into the slipstream
Note that Page 1, Panels 4-5 are copied almost exactly as Page 24, Panels 1-2 except that there is no lightning in sky in the 2nd panel at the end
No point lost
I wish I was dead.
I’m already dead. I just wish I’d never been born
Place horrible radioactive weeds busted up paving slabs
The Beggar right off the map here
Abyss gap old stories kings disguise themselves as beggars
False invisible sephiroth
Collapsed Daath Vader nice Star Wars joke
Hebrew word knowledge
Dayglo centipede colored like black light
Invisible sephiroth ultra violet
Camel path ruins
When I’m like this you can call me Alice
(NOTE: "Crowley's personal homosexual pseudonym, Alys Cusack" - Lawrence Sutin Do What Thou Wilt pg. 289)
Riding route 13 gimmel high priestess up to the crown
Magicians become magic itself
Penetrator becomes the penetrated male become female
Gimel to tiphereth to Kether
Camel in Hebrew
Pretty little V with a cleft
Men awful vulgar creatures the camel’s hoof
I’ve an appointment with the crown of creation.
Five footprints of the camel VVVVV
Toodle pit dearies
Planets extra one betewen Mars and Jupited now the asteroid belt
Planet once represented this sphere
But got destroyed
Animals things that symbolize this place don’t really exist anymore
Daath 11th sephiroth
sword jellyfish snake beetle fish
black hole mauve
Hole right through the entire tree
Hole through existence
Lump in throat
Nothing here pretty scenic
Not in nonexistence god not god tower of the adepts black brothers daath no light is here emitted
Knowledge that’s beyond sense in great beginning sephiroth as true as any Beggar Fountain tress was of a whole God was not separated from God’s universe Fall cataclysm
Lightning energie of god descending overwhelming the structure of existence lower spheres broken from 3 divine supernals
Daath dreadful absence
Marvellous crack in everything
Whole universe all of existence broke in half. Living in a borken cosmos because of this fall disastrous accident
3 heads of god sundered from existence
arabesques within some wider figure
of this nothing is known
shattered planet unseen color
knowledge knowable only by its’ absence
intellectually, emotionally, spiritually lost ruined pathway
unreadable highway marker
chesed the beggar to daath to fountain to binah
waters breaking in the wombs great sea breaking on the shores of binah black mother
wasn’t there speaking tube hollow reed throat chakrah
Crowley freak Victor Neuberg Choronzon working
Desert demon dispersal chaos constantly tearing universe into pieces
Called demon into himself horrible transofrmations & possessions destroyed their relationship & nearly destroyed Neuberg
Maybe he thought being torn to pieces was necessary
Reduced to nothing
Wind I’m still alive & falling none of the rest was true fall swim nightmare desert Binah