PROMETHEA – AN APPRECIATION
My own formal introduction to Magick came with Grant Morrison’s seminal series “The Invisibles.” It was the 90s, and I was an impressionable young freak. “The Invisibles” was like a 6-year-long acid trip, and when I finally came down I was at a bit of a loss: so I skimmed through all the books on any weirdshit I could find, and decided that I was now an enlightened sage or something.
The first vaguely Magickal exercise I tried that involved some small amount of effort involved Selene. I found a pathworking 1 , recorded it onto tape and later that night I followed my voice as it led me on a guided meditation. Selene on the moon…
Well that was alright but it was hardly going to change my life. Perhaps, then, the point was to throw out the baby with the bathwater, and to trash the bathroom and demolish the house while I was there. Magick, right? Why bother with those past-their-sell-by-date gods and goddesses and concepts, when I could just invent my own and make them all sexier? Fuck Kabablah, I remember thinking. All that numerology and Hebrew looked dull and impenetrable.
I’d been having all sorts of strange sophomoronic thoughts about Art, about using the Dadaist Marcel Duchamp’s idea of “Readymades” as a battering-ram, in some kind of quixotic crusade against the very notion of “Aesthetics.” It therefore made perfect sense – I’m sure you will agree – to invent my own Holy Guardian Angel: to create a fictional character and to imbue that character with all my best qualities; and subsequently to make him real enough to gradually take my place. “Fiction suit”.
Around this time…
(Hey, I will mention “Promethea” in a minute, I promise. I’m building to something here, see?)
Around this time we had the Mormons come to the door:
“Can we interest you in some dogma? Guaranteed psychic slavery or your money back.”
“Well no. But I’ll spend one day as a Mormon if you likewise convince yourself you’re an atheist for twenny-four hours.”
Neither of the poor sods went for it, but I did anyway, and obtained for my troubles the classic vision of Christ on the cross. Christ in agony. The crown of thorns. The sword wound. The nails, taking the weight of the body. The vinegar. The flesh cut to bloody pieces from whipping. And the things they can’t show you on stained glass: you’re stripped and you’re sweating and you’re slowly dying in the Middle East heat. There are insects everywhere. Your entire body is itching, irritating, and you have no way whatsoever to even scratch yourself?
Next up came Mercury. So shallow of me: I wanted to travel, I hated the thought of having to (eurgh) work with, like (eurgh!) normal people at some terrible (eurghhh) job. So I backtracked and performed an elaborate ritual to Mercury, and asked him to throw some money my way. He laughed and instead got me what I really needed, which happened to be that job. Oh yeah. I’d spent so much time in my own head over the years that I’d almost completely forgotten how to relate to people on a human level. The real world actually isn’t that bad. Far from it. Communication: thank you.
On mushrooms I kept heading back to him, to the Mercurius construct… vague intimations concerning chess and gender… honest masculinity… need for balance… so we briefly become Venus… her butterfly and his snakes… archetypes… transformation… transforming Hermaphrodite from their son… to their actual union… Hermes… Aphrodite… fucking itself.
Balance. At this point I first heard of “Promethea”, already twenty-something like me. I stumbled onto Eroom Nala’s annotations (his real name is Percival Pennyworth by the way) to try to get an idea of whether this was as good as everybody seemed to be saying. Or more of the Image and post-Image crap that Alan Moore does manage to churn out? “Mercury Rising”? Aha!
Book One was pretty good. Engaging story. Some nice ideas. Absolutely wonderful Art & Design going on here. Apparently it all got better. Book Two: indeed it did. The episodes on Tantra and Tarot were fantastic. Apparently the whole thing got more like this. Cool. I just had to wait for Book Three to come out.
I started reading quite a lot of conscientious “anti-establishment” journalism, mainly stuff by Pilger and Chomsky. It’s not nice. Behind our own comfortable wired-Western lives the world is a vast concentration camp, history an endless atrocity. Everything we take for granted, the entire sick structure of the global Control Culture, is designed to siphon off power and wealth and worth from the majority, in order to feed the ever-more-greedy elite. In Central America in Burma in Indonesia in every country you can see on the map we are being tortured, degraded, and generally fucked every which way. And you are filled with righteous anger and you begin to think “I’m Spartacus!” well why not? Why not unite to fight our common oppressor, that the world may once more be a common treasury for every WoMan to share?
And then you calm down and then, if you’re like me, you remember what happened to Spartacus, to Gerald Winstanley, to all the Jesus kids. History is not my fault. Humanity is not my responsibility. You can’t fight Evil. All you can reasonably do is nurture what is Good.
So – ahem – all this stuff in my head and then I read “Promethea” Book Three and that head plain exploded. This is Kaballah? Take the imaginative route up to the moon, to Selene. Up the Art path to the higher self, to Jesus dying… amongst the risen Gods. Backtrack to Mercury playing chess with the boys. Down to Malkuth deep breath then flutter by Mighty Aphrodite. Surrender… Victory… I’m not gonna forget that night in a hurry. You know you make me wanna…
Shoot up. “For I am like a refiner’s fire…” Harsh but… precise.
And on it goes. I have of course been talking about myself here much more than I have “Promethea” but – wouldn’t you know it? – that’s kinda the point. Much as “The Invisibles” once fired me up by telling me the future, so “Promethea” now has the same effect, only by describing my past to an incredible degree of accuracy, and offering possible futures. So it turns out I’ve been dragging myself around the Tree of Life for a while, and up until now I didn’t even have the Rough Guide to show me all the best places to stay.
In conclusion, blah. This book implicates the reader. It latches on to all the delusions and fantasies hiding just below the everyday conscious mind; all the coincidences waiting around the corner. It takes everything you’ve got, twists it into a rather attractive shape, then says: “Now you have a go.” Okay then. I will. Thanks to YOU for reading or skimming this essay, or maybe you didn’t bother at all, I don’t blame you frankly. Me though, I’m off to spend the next few months tripping my balls off while hurtling round the globe soaking up whatever bizarre energies might come my way. Then come the end of the year I’ll get Proglotidia Book Four and hopefully it’ll all have made sense.
You know, I don’t talk like this when I’m down the pub.
FOOTNOTE: 1 a5e - at the edge of chaos
NOTE from Eroom Nala.
My real name is not Percival Pennyworth. I wonder where he got that name from. Sounds a bit Dickensian to me
The Selene evocation referred to is by none other than Alan's old friend Steve Moore (no relation)