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My interview with the infamous Simon, editor of the Necronomicon first appeared in Behutet Magazine issues 16 and 17.

In the 1920’s a horror writer from New England spun a mythology through his short stories that have come to be known collectively as the “Cthulhu Mythos”. These stories focused on entities known as the Old Ones and often featured a certain book of black magick known as the Necronomicon. Other writers started adding stories to the mythos and as the mythology grew, so did interest in the supposedly fictional book.  In the 1970’s the dread Necronomicon finally surfaced, or rather several Necronomicons surfaced. One from Philadelphia that was nothing but the same 6 pages of Arabic repeated over and over, one from England that kept very close to the Lovecraft stories and claimed to be translated by John Dee, and another that was a book of occult related paintings by H.R. Geiger.  None of these however has even come close to the popularity and mystery of what has become known as “The Simon Necronomicon”.

Published in NY in 1977, the first edition of 666 leather-bound copies sold out quickly. The next edition of 3,333 copies also sold fast and Avon publications started putting out mass-paperback editions soon after. By far the best selling occult book of the century, The Necronomicon can be purchased at almost every bookstore in America .

The second edition to the Necronomicon contains a preface detailing the events and persons involved in its production. Only small hints however are given about Simon, the driving force behind the book.  It makes reference to him as a priest, a magician, and hints that he was also active as a spy. These colorful references painted an even greater mystery around the book and for some threw more doubt on its authenticity. Apart from the Necronomicon, he was an active lecturer at Magickal Child on subjects ranging from Ceremonial Magick to Herbalism. In 1981 Simon wrote The Necronomicon Report, a short piece detailing a simpler method for using the fifty seals of Marduk than is given in the Necronomicon proper. Shortly after the Necronomicon report was published he disappeared rather suddenly from the NY occult scene. That’s that last anyone has heard from Simon until now. 

In 2001 I decided to try to find Simon and interview him for Behutet. It was no easy task.  Even after I cleared up the matter of his identity, I still had trouble finding out where he had disappeared to. After a year of investigation I found Simon living in Malaysia, and he agreed to do speak with me about his time as a priest, his involvement in the intelligence community, his views on magick, and of course the infamous Necronomicon.  This interview was conducted via e-mail around Samhain 2002.

To my knowledge the last anyone has heard or read anything new from Simon was in 1981 when your book Necronomicon Report was published. The absence of your public presence and the cryptic descriptions of you in the preface to the 2nd edition of the Necronomicon, such as the mention of correspondence from Balkan embassy’s and a photo of an F-104 Fighter that you carried along with the Necronomicon in your attaché case, has lead to Simon becoming somewhat of an occult mystery. Even to people that met you in NY during the 70’s and 80’s you are somewhat of an enigma. I have even talked to people that don’t believe that you exist at all and that Simon was actually an alias of Herman Slater. I have even heard one theory that Simon is actually Sandy Pearlman, the producer/writer that penned “Don’t Fear the Reaper”. Realizing that you can’t fully disclose your identity, what can tell us about yourself and your background that isn’t covered in the Necronomicon?

Well, I'm neither Herman Slater nor Sandy Pearlman, as disconcerting or flattering as those assumptions may be!  I have gathered material for a book that will disclose more of the background of the Necronomicon and the stories of some of those involved, and will go into all of that in some detail at that time.  For now, though, a few items you mentioned deserve clarification:

The reference to the F-104 is genuine, although that paragraph was written tongue-in-cheek.  In 1969 I was privileged to sit in on a quiet little meeting between religious leaders in New York City to which a famous athlete was invited.  This gentleman had left the ring -- he was a wrestler, from the days when that was still considered a noble pursuit -- and was now (according to his own statements made during the meeting) working as a contract agent for the CIA in Lebanon .  His speciality was smuggling aircraft into Israel -- crated up in boxes or otherwise disguised -- via Luxembourg .  The jets would be assembled in Luxembourg (if my memory serves me correctly) and then flown into Israel .  The purpose of this arcane procedure evidently had something to do with circumventing Congressional approval for the sale of this aircraft.  The athlete in question died very young; it is virtually impossible to get detailed information about his life after the ring, although I tried to do so even while he was still alive in the 1970s and hit a brick wall.  Former athletes -- especially prize-fighters -- are susceptible to intelligence agency overtures.   There have been several other cases in the past, better-documented but still light on details.


As for myself, I have been involved in overseas activities since before the Necronomicon was ever published, and continue to do so.  I've spent a great deal of time in China , for instance, as well as in other countries in Asia ;  I've also had long experience in Latin America .  I was taken on a tour of Moscow by a former KGB officer who served in Cuba , for instance.  So, it is inevitable that stories develop about espionage activities or intelligence connections. Many of the Eastern orthodox churches are -- or were -- hotbeds of intelligence activity for both sides in the Cold War, and I was pretty much in the center of all that.  Readers interested in learning more about Eastern orthodox church involvement in the Cold War are recommended to the books by Christopher Simpson and others, such as Blowback,  Unholy Trinity, etc.  To be involved in Eastern orthodoxy in the 1960s was to be involved in the Cold War and in psychological warfare and intelligence activity.  Valerian Trifa, head of the Romanian Orthodox Church for most of the post-war years, is an excellent example.  He was in reality an SS Officer and committed Nazi who had never been ordained, but who took over the American branch of the Romanan Orthodox Church by force.  He was eventually indicted by the US government but fled to Europe before he could be arrested and died in exile.  And that is only one example.  The churches with which I was involved were all anti-Communist cells with heavy American intelligence involvement.

Are you still active as a priest? If so, for what church? If not, what happened?


I am hors-de-combat on that front.  My disillusionment with the church had much to do with politics, both internal and external.  


Were your superiors in the church aware of your occult interests?

Ha!  My superiors were, if anything, as fascinated with the occult as anyone.  Some had very definite ideas that anything occult was prima facie evidence of satanic influence; others found the subject tantalizing.  Of course, anyone involved with exorcism to any degree finds themselves involved in a study of occultism -- everything from shamanism to ceremonial magic -- as part of the general background necessary to their expertise. That is, one needs to determine the provenance of the phenomenon known as "demonic possession" in each individual case:  is it an example of true demonic possession, is it spirit possession of the type familiar to practitioners of voudon or Siberian shamanism, is there a third party involved, such as in a sortilege or some practices of santeria, etc etc.

The people who knew you back in the 70’s and 80’s that I spoke to all had no means of getting in touch with you. It seems you disappeared rather suddenly, which of course sparked more rumors of espionage. This time the rumor was that you were in some trouble with the
US Government. Any truth to this?


That is a difficult question to answer.  The US Government has many factions, some of which do not know -- or approve -- of what the other factions are doing.  I think I can honestly say that I have never been in trouble with the US Government per se, although have run slightly afoul of various elements of it from time to time.

I will write about that in more detail at a later date.  It involves a whole slew of other "suspects":  the anti-war movement, American and Soviet spying through the mechanism of the Eastern churches, etc.  Yet, in case anyone is wondering, the US Government never had a problem with me in that regard (that I know of!).


Sorry to be so cryptic.


One also has to realize that as the editor of the Necronomicon I was subject to some very insistent stalkers.  I had to use all sorts of strategies to evade some very amateurish surveillance; even out-and-out harrassment.  In addition, my political interests and involvements made the situation even more confusing!


For example, I was involved in commercial activities in China in the early 1980s, at a time when such activity of necessity included interaction with the military and intelligence organs of that country.  There came a time when I did not know who was trying to follow me around Manhattan :  occultists, Chinese agents, fascist priests, or agents of an unfriendly government ... my own!  (This sounds a lot more romantic than the reality, I hasten to insist.)  Further, I had made the acquaintance of several former US intelligence officers in the course of my career(s) and this has probably led to some of the "disinformation" concerning my espionage activities.   


However, I DID drop out of sight of the OTO elements in New York City rather abruptly, but for other reasons.  I objected strenuously to the "Blue Equinox" mentality of the McMurtry faction, finding in it an unhealthy whiff of fascism.  I gravitated more to a Liber OZ kind of Thelema.  I could not imagine how such a gaggle of warmed-over hippies would have embraced the noxious philosophy of the Blue Equinox regulations, so I guess I still harbor an unseemly Sixties mindset, unattractive in one of my advanced years, I am sure!


This unease was exacerbated by the McMurtry actions concerning the Crowley copyrights and other forms of what I saw as totalitarian behavior.  They are also in denial concerning McMurtry and the so-called "Solar Lodge" scandal, as so capably documented by Koenig, as well as the question of the validity of McMurtry as OHO.  So, I am sure that I did not make a mistake in abandoning the OTO in America at the time I did.  


I had made them an offer, though, at one point, before my disillusionment:  they were in some confusion over the validity of their apostolic succession (regarding the bishops of the EGC) and I suggested that I could arrange a more valid line for them, thus ensuring that their bishops would be at least as valid in the eyes of the dread Catholic Church as the Eastern orthodox churches.  They came perilously close to accepting!


My experience with the Order was not entirely negative, though.  There were a lot of good people around the OTO in the late 1970s and early 1980s in New York .  In fact, I had made a small contribution to the OTO revival in New York City .  During the course of promoting the Necronomicon, we also promoted the fledgling OTO lodge there and encouraged people to attend the Gnostic Masses which at that time were being held in the back of the Magickal Childe bookstore in Manhattan .  I stumped for the Order rather strenuously, though I never joined.  We held elaborate "book parties" and other promotional events to which the Order was invited and at which the Order and Thelema in general were introduced to the public.  Our "public" at that time consisted of a diverse audience of science fiction enthusiasts,  Tolkienoids, Illuminatus! true believers, and various artistic and musical types.   Many of these events were held at the infamous Bells of Hell in the West Village .  Sadly, it no longer exists, having been replaced over the years by a succession of fern bars, but in those days it was a comfortable English pub with a large back room where the events were held, and the occult cognoscenti of the time could be found there on most weekends ... and some of the less-frequently employed most other nights as well!  We held events on days of Thelemic and Pagan importance, such as Beltane, Crowleymas, Rose Kelley's birthday, etc.  That was in 1977, 1978 during the time that Mr Dowling was running the local lodge.  It may be Dowling that you are thinking of when you mention a Lodge Master who became a Christian, although I don't know if the Necronomicon had anything to do with it.   He is now the bishop of a distaff branch of Eastern Orthodoxy.  And so it goes. I continued to hold classes -- gratis -- for the Order until about 1982 or so after the transition from the Motta administration to the McMurtry version.  These were classes in ceremonial magic, tantra, Eastern mysticism, even apostolic succession!  They were heavily attended, and the atmosphere at the time was positive, cheerful, energetic, and ... muscular.  Discussions were wide-ranging, free-form and very informative for everyone involved.  You would find Kenneth Anger in attendance one day,  Quentin Crisp another, and we all felt we were accomplishing something.  Then the internal politics began to take over, to become more important than the Work, and things went a little sour.


As I see it, the problem with the OTO in New York in the early 1980s -- as it began to grow exponentially -- was simply one of insecurity and, like most organizations going through an insecure phase, they chose the conservative, extreme right approach.  There were also people of questionable reputation floating on the periphery of the Order, attracted by the light and heat.  I (and a few others, very few) felt betrayed by the Order's decision to go "Blue", and we had to sever connections.   Shortly thereafter, I found myself in Beijing .


For my first few years in China , I left copies of Liber AL everywhere just to see what would happen.  (No, I did NOT leave copies of the Necronomicon.  That would have been grossly unfair to the poor Chinese!) That the Chinese have loosened the strings of their government to the extent that Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou now resemble low rent versions of Las Vegas more than high rent versions of Minsk I attribute to the liberating effects of Thelemic proselytizing!  

 Just kidding.

Did you at any point consider heading your own occult group?

During the late 1970s when the OTO was undergoing a kind of rebirth in New York , there was a surreal moment when -- during a meeting with Grady at the Plaza Hotel -- it was bruited about that I should be the next OHO.  (This, even though I was not a member of the Order.)  This was thrown out as a logical possibility, but both Grady and I received the suggestion with distaste.  I, for one, found it actually humorous, but I don't think Grady was that amused.  But, then, it might have been the joint he was smoking at the time!

For years, people have asked me why I don't start an occult group or lead an existing one.  Many students have asked me to conduct initiations, etc., in spite of the fact that I have always criticized organized religious movements and spiritual movements since they suffer from the same stupid internal politics as, say, the SDS did during the 60's or the Catholic Church still does.  The organization soon becomes more important than its members, and the leaders more important than anyone else.  

When I refused to lead any such groups, I was criticized for being selfish!  It was all quite strange.  But the essence of my classes for years was an emphasis on individual attainment.  That is, after all, what ceremonial magic is all about.  It frees the individual from the constraints imposed by social groups since social groups are more concerned with the survival of the group at the expense of the individual.  To me, ceremonial magic was the perfect alternative:  it allows anyone to be responsible for their own spiritual growth, and permits them direct access to spiritual experience.    Israel Regardie published the Golden Dawn rituals, for instance, to permit individuals to work the system themselves rather than as part of a social organization.  This made excellent sense to me then, and still does.

But then, the inevitable question arises:  is there any value at all in gurus, the initiatory system, etc.?  My answer is this:  a spiritual guide should be just that:  a guide.  I see spiritual leaders as maps.  One uses a map to go from place to place, to find out directions and optimal routes and to plan a trip.  But the map is not the leader.  It is not the will of the traveler.  The traveler uses the map as a tool of his or her individual will.  The map has no desire to force the traveler into any one direction, or a requisite number of stops along the way.  The map simply IS.  And that, to me, is the essence of the best type of spiritual "leader".  Once the map starts telling the traveler where to go and how to get there and how fast to drive, then the map has lost its value and has become a "back seat driver".  That is the worst type of spiritual leader.  

In the end, we are all individually responsible for our own karma, for our own destiny.  That is why, I think, the practice of ceremonial magic is an ideal method of spiritual attainment.  And it is also why I have always refused to lead.  

Those who have attained a certain level of initiation -- or who think they have, anyway! -- should communicate:  write, speak, whatever; but they should not presume to lead.  They cannot take responsibility for the spiritual growth of another human being, and to suggest that they can is -- to me -- the worst sort of violence against the soul.  It wastes everyone's time.  We have seen what these self-styled gurus have done to thousands of followers over the years.  

Of course, ceremonial magic is not for everyone.  It takes a certain amount of courage -- spiritual courage -- to undertake that process.  For many, the organized rituals and scriptures of the church or temple are enough to ensure a certain level of growth.  Indeed, once one has gone through enough personal initiation (through magic or through some other means) one can return to religion and find a valuable resource in the rituals and structure of the faith -- albeit one not identical to the perceptions of his fellow-worshippers.  One begins to see behind the Veil of the
Temple , to realize what is really going on, and this can be an important insight leading to greater realizations.  After all, religions are the effluvia from someone else's enlightenment and there is always value to be found in examining religion carefully and cautiously.  

But leadership?  To paraphrase Goering, "Once I hear the word 'guru' I reach for my revolver."

In your introduction to the Necronomicon, there is the now famous warning about banishings. This section alludes to a “circle of initiates in another discipline” that was experimenting with the rituals and in the book. Can you give any details about the nature of the experiments and what results you received?

It is difficult to give information of this nature without a lot of context.  Let us say that as the book was being translated the rituals were attempted by people not aligned with any of the more popular occult lodges.  There was a certain amount of anxiety concerning the usual grimoires, as they are normally the fruit of Judeao-Christian perspectives on spirituality.  The 1970s were the heyday of the Pagan Revival, and pagans were naturally reluctant to get involved in ceremonial magic due to the heavy Judeao-Christian "spin" on the technology.  The Necronomicon seemed to offer a system of magic that was outside this tradition, that was purely "pagan", inside and out.  It was thus embraced by many pagans as a suitable technique of ceremonial magic that would not compromise their own beliefs and that could be used with impunity by pagans.  They felt that the banishing warning was certainly important, but perhaps more so for believing Christians and Jews than for pagans who felt -- rightly or wrongly! -- that they were more than the equal of any malevolent forces that would be raised.  Horned God, Mother Goddess and all that.  So, we had essentially two groups practicing the rituals and recording their results:  committed pagans who saw the Necronomicon as the ultimate (or, perhaps, only!) pagan grimoire; and the ceremonial magicians of every type, including Thelemic, who saw it as a powerful adjunct to their own practice.  Both groups received startling results:  paranormal phenomena that they could not explain by natural causes.  This, in addition to a lot of purely subjective reactions ranging from feelings of dread to outright horror.  I hasten to add that these individuals were practicing the rituals of the Gates.  We found, later, that invoking the names of Marduk -- while powerful -- did not seem to bring quite the same degree of paranoid infliction that the more stately rituals of the Gates and the Watcher produced.  While not entirely benign, invoking the names of Marduk outside of the system did not seem to be as inherently dangerous as walking the seven Gates.  To this day, I have not heard of any serious backlash to the Marduk workings, although I continue to receive reports on the serious spiritual ramifications of walking the Gates.

So you are still in touch with people that are working the gates? I myself have worked the gate formulas with interesting results. What would you consider to be the ramifications of walking the gates? What have you found the benefits to be?

It results in a kind of polarization of the spirit, an alignment of the psyche along certain lines that enable it to penetrate to the corners of human consciousness:  corners where we once thought it was all flat planes..  It IS a pagan grimoire using an ancient language that has not been spoken in thousands of years.  If there is such a thing as "genetic memory", the incantations of the Necronomicon unlock segments of that memory that have been dormant for millenia.  Walking the Gates is also an ancient practice, as much revered in the Far East as the Middle East .  It is a technology hard-wired into our nervous systems, or perhaps even deeper, at the cellular level.  Without trying to sound too "New Agey" about it, Walking the Gates is a technology of transformation and growth;  but it is an honest one, as full of danger as any real transformation, real growth must be.  

Apart from your work with the Necronomicon you were quite active in the NYC occult scene during the 70’s and early 80’s. Behutet has paid special interest to this place and time in Occult history and has done extended articles on both Herman Slater and Harry Smith. Are there any stories or insights you can share about the events of this period such as the so-called “Witch War’s” that were waged between the Gardnerians, Welsh witches, and Alexandrians?

Wow.  That is a book in itself.  I was there, of course, from the very beginning, when the Warlock Shop was a small little establishment in
Brooklyn Heights .  I was there the day it opened, and met the indomitable Herman Slater at that time.  I sincerely mourn his passing.  I was one of the last to speak with him in the hospital (by phone, I was nowhere near New York at the time) days before his death.  He was a notorious gossip and delighted in causing trouble, but anyone who knew him understood that it was not malicious but ... well, mischievous might be the better word.  

In those days, the Gardnerians were in pole position and I had already met Ray Buckland at his operation in Long Island ; later I would meet many of the other high priests and priestess of the Craft while not actually joining the Craft myself.  I attended coven meetings all over New York , and eventually began to understand that the Gardnerian Book of Shadows was essentially a Golden Dawn manual mixed with elements of the OTO and a lot of poetry by Kipling.  I admit I caused a bit of a stir when I handed one Gardnerian high priest a copy of poems taken from Kipling's "Puck of Pook's Hill", poems which contained some of the Gardnerian invocations!  The HP went ashen white, and asked to be excused so he could make a few phone calls ...  

There was a lot of "magickal attack" going on in the period 1972-75 roughly.  Different covens attacking each other, different sects attacking other sects.  It was largely through Herman Slater's efforts that the various warring groups came together in the back of the Warlock Shop in Brooklyn Heights to hammer out their differences, and I was privileged to have been there for the "public" part of the proceedings.  Herman had a knack for insulting everyone and thereby stripping them of their defenses and their egos enough so that they could start laughing and begin the process of healing.  Herman had "credentials" and people were forced to listen to him..  He was gay, of course, and had photos of himself in drag and was totally open about his sexuality; he also had suffered a bout of tuberculosis which caused him to limp, and he had one eye which was always aimed in a different direction.  But he had opened the Warlock Shop and made witchcraft and magic famous not only in New York  (John Lennon and Yoko Ono were frequent customers) but around the world as well. He had something to say.  And witches were spending more time attacking each other than attacking the common enemy:  racism, sexism, fascism, religious bigotry.  I believe Herman helped some of them to see that.  


The Welsh Trads felt they were more "genuine" as witches, because they were learning Welsh I guess.  Their Book of Shadows did not vary significantly from the Gardnerian (same pentagram rituals from the Golden Dawn, same poetry from Kipling), but they had a dress code.  The Gardnerians were "sky clad", a term taken from Hindu mysticism by the way.  The Alexandrians were another culture entirely, formed entirely around the personality of its founder Alex Saunders and more devoted to elaborate ritual magic and a self-conscious wooing of the media.  It was perhaps inevitable that the groups had conflicts.  There was also a difference in "culture" between the groups.  I remember that the Gardnerians on Long Island (not Ray or Rosemary Buckland but some of their inductees) were pretty aggressively blue-collar.  I imagined them holding circles in hot tubs.  Imagine "The Sopranos" as witches.  They were anti-intellectual for the most part (as were many Wiccans then), and looked down at the Welsh Trads for being "stuck up" emotionally, or sexually, or something; sort of "holier than thou".  The Alexandrians were considered effete and borderline Christian.  And then, of course, there was Leo Martello and his Italian strega tradition.  It was all very amusing.  I had fun.  


There is so much to that period, so many personalities and events, that I am tongue-tied for the moment.  Perhaps in the next few days I will think of something more profound to say, or come up with some more anecdotes.

You mention all the magickal attack going on, to your knowledge was the Necronomicon ever  used for this purpose?

Oh, yeah.  Sure.  But in very few cases, actually, and a bit later than 1975.  I am thinking of 1977-78.  People still tended to be frightened of the book and of using it ... incorrectly.  It had the aura of being so dark, so powerful when used in a normal way that to incorporate it in a magickal attack seemed virtually suicidal.  However, as we all know, there were many who were so addicted to that type of extreme experience and so consumed by hatred of their enemies that they dared to use the book for that purpose.  Let us say that the fallout was normally not worth the effort:  it was an occult case of "mutually assured destruction", PARTICULARLY when one did not perform the walking of the Gates prior to using the book as an engine of attack.


In one case, the Watcher was used as what the witches refer to as a "fetch".  The magician sent the Watcher to frighten an opponent; both were equally affected by the ritual, both suffered.  The Watcher has no sense of humor.

I have heard stories of a certain Lodge Master of the OTO developing severe paranoia regarding the book and the people working it that eventually caused him to leave the Order and become a fundamentalist Christian. Any truth to this rumor?


As far as I know, this seems to be an amalgamation of several individuals.  One in particular was quite paranoid about the book, but I don't believe he was a Lodge Master.  He did eventually leave the Order, but I believe he became a Scientologist (so ... he did not leave the Order entirely!).  But all of this happened after I extricated myself from the "scene".


The Necronomicon Report was republished as the Necronomicon Spellbook in 1987. This was supposed to be published with a second book called The Gates of the Necronomicon. Whatever happened to this book?


Ah, the famous Gates of the Necronomicon.  That book was written and handed over to Herman Slater.  I understand it was set in type and prepared for printing, but disappeared after Herman's death.  I have no clue what happened to it, although I did see it once advertised briefly and then disappear again.  If anyone has any clues as to its whereabouts, I would love to know.


Many parts of the Necronomicon seem to be derived from other ancient works such as the Enuma Elish, The Epic of Gilgamesh, and other books listed in the Necronomicon bibliography. This, coupled with the fact that no-one was allowed to see the original manuscript, has lead many to be critical of the story of the books origins. Is there any evidence that you can supply to establish the authenticity of the story, such as photo’s of the manuscript? Was the title Necronomicon mentioned in the original manuscript that was obtained from the monk’s cache of stolen books? Any response to the books critics?


This would require an entire article in itself.  Briefly, let me say this:  

The title of the ms was Necronomicon.  That was about all the actual reference to Lovecraft's tome that existed in the ms itself.  You should know that I myself knew nothing of Lovecraft at the time.  I had never read that type of fiction.  I was more interested in the actual technologies than in fictional speculation and the only time I gravitated towards fictional treatments of occultism was when I came across the Wheately novels which were romans-a-clef.  Aside from three Wheatley books, I read no occult fiction, no science fiction, no horror fiction.  Those particular genres don't interest me at all.  So, the name Necronomicon meant nothing to me at the time.  But it meant something to Herman Slater, who was an avid reader of all sorts of fantasy fiction.


As for the Necronomicon being a hoax, as I have said many times if it is a hoax it is a damned poor one!   There is so little there that corresponds to Lovecraft's ouevre that it might be embarrassing as a hoax.  The name "Abdul Alhazred" does not appear, for instance.  Many of the Lovecraftian concepts and myths are missing, or distorted.  I admit going out on a limb equating "Chthulhu" with "Kutu-lu" but it still seems valid to me today, more than 25 years later.  I also stand by my reading of "chthonic" as the "katonic" in "Miskatonic", and a number of other analyses made at the time.  


I am aware that Lovecraft insisted he made up the book.  I am also aware that he had relations with a number of individuals who were active in occult lodges, including the Golden Dawn which speaks in its literature about a mysterious book written in Arabic, which leads me to wonder if he had heard of the name Necronomicon or some of the Golden Dawn legends and then confabulated his own version for fictional reasons.  


The ms itself was part of a cache of stolen books.  The monks who stole these books and mss over a period of years made national headlines.  They were convicted and sent to federal prison.  There is no mystery about that.  But the ms was stolen, it was acquired illegally, and that is all I am prepared to say about the book's origins.


You mention Lovecraft knew people in the Golden Dawn and other Occult Lodges. Do you have any specific information as to who he might have known?

I have found a few references in the "John Carter" book:  "Sex and Rockets", on page 102 where Carter refers to the relationships existing between the Pasadena lodge of the OTO and Clark Ashton Smith and Frank Belknap Long, both Lovecraft correspondents I believe.  On page 60 of that same work, Carter mentions a E. Hoffman Price who claimed to have "introduced occult ideas to Lovecraft".   Those are the references to which I alluded.

The name Abdul Alhazzred doesn’t appear in the book, but the term “Mad Arab” does. Was this in the Manuscript?  

Yes, although his name is missing.  

The original run of 666 copies of the Necronomicon was printed in 1977. There have been many other Necronomicon’s, but none have come anywhere near the popularity of yours. I believe that it may be the best selling occult book of all time. How do you feel about the book now that it’s been circulating for 25 years?


I am proud of my participation in the project. I have a lot of feelings about the book's publishing history and I will get back to you a little later with more on the subject, but it is obvious that the book has a great deal of merit as an occult tool.  It has been on the bestseller list at
Fort Benning , Georgia for a long time for some reason.  The military has always had a fascination for the book, since the very first 1977 edition.  William Burroughs praised the book as a "landmark in the history of spiritual liberation",  pretty heavy (and totally unsolicited) praise from Burroughs who was as generous with his contempt as with his compliments.  I am only saddened to learn that Larry Barnes, Herman Slater and so many others are not around to share in the book's continued success.

Fort Benning ? Has the military contacted you about the book? What do you think that the military interest in the Necronomicon is? 

The military has never officially contacted me, although that first edition drew a lot of letters on official Army and Air Force stationery, including a letter of praise on the stationery of the Strategic Air Command which stands out in my mind as the most bizarre letter we ever received from the military.  Again, these were not official communications in the sense that the book was getting a Pentagon seal of approval!

The occult scene in New York City in the 1970s and 1980s was a source of concern for the government, or for certain factions thereof.  We all knew this.  There was always someone at the periphery of what was happening who had a shadowy government background, who played golf with Al Haig or had lunch with spies.  (I was not the only one accused of all this!)  We understood that there was penetration of the occult scene by the FBI which had successfully infiltrated themselves into the Klan, the American Nazi parties, the Black Panthers, and that the occult lodges and covens were a likely target as well.  In the case of the political parties, the FBI would have worried about Soviet manipulation and thus had (in their eyes, at least) legitimate cause for concern.  In the case of the occult lodges, they were viewed as nests of drug dealers, addicts, and counter-culture people who crossed over into the political arena from time to time.  One particular author on witchcraft and paganism is known to have worked briefly in the sugar cane fields of Castro's Cuba , for instance.  Thus, there would have been more than enough reason to look closely at the lodges and covens.

Then, of course, the famous Timothy Leary case.  

Add to that the CIA's interest in occultism from the point of view of the technicians of projects like MK-ULTRA and OFTEN who wished to assess the actual powers and abilities of occultists for military and intelligence purposes...

So, it should not be surprising to find every cross-section of American life involved in some way or another in the New York City occult environment of the 1970s-80s.  

There was also another concern, from my point of view:  the occult groups represented ad hoc social organizations that could conceivably be manipulated by an intelligent enemy, or could represent a threat to established social organizations: an alternative government, in a way.  We had people who were expressing loyalty to concepts and "churches" that were outside the American mainstream.  The formation, development, and administration of these groups would have attracted the attention of social scientists in government programs, I believe, since they mirrored so faithfully the fledgling political parties of the age:  groups like the SDS and the Weathermen, the Panthers, etc.  Had the occult movement found common cause with the anti-war and revolutionary movements then the
US government would have been in serious jeopardy, because then you would have had the perfect marriage between political ideology and spiritual technology and belief.  

One of the failures of Soviet communism, I believe, was its inability to completely replace religious and spiritual sentiments in the relatively few years of its existence. The scientific attitude to politics cannot adequately explain emotional power, paranormal phenomena, or the "purpose of life" to the average man or woman.  It can only complain that "religion is the opiate of the people".  Which may be true, but communism alone could not provide the equivalent of a spiritual methadone clinic.  

Thus, we have the spectacle of scientists like the late Carl Sagan who railed against what he called superstition, using rather (to my mind) unscientific methods to prove his points.  I wonder, not unkindly, if Sagan was comforted in his last moments by someone standing over his bed and reciting
Newton 's Second Law of Motion?

Is the attitude then, of modern scientists (quantum physicists generally excepted) really a "candle in the dark"?  Or is it mere whistling in the dark?

The problem rests in the inadequacy of language, I think, and the inability of occultists to express their ideas -- and their opposition to scientific posing -- in terms more intelligible than the usual political pamphlet or anti-war broadside.  Isaac Newton may have been the last great occultist-scientist and his writings were, alas, more devoted to the obscure jargon of alchemy and Biblical encryption than to a description of the soul's machinery.  Thus, science could "break" occultism (at least in the popular mind) by associating occultists with ignorance and superstition, loaded code words for people not blessed with government research grants.  The government could "break" the anti-war, revolutionary movements by associating them with all sorts of violence (often instigated by their own agents provocateurs) and marginalize their political views as "communist".  

Had the occultists and the revolutionaries joined forces, however, the whole history of the 1960s-80s might have been different.  Vide the
Thule Gesellschaft and the Nazi Party.  Thankfully, the occultist of the 1960s was less a social creature than an individual attempting to use ritual to reach God.  That type of occultism is rather less social than, say, religion which relies on a group mind and tightly scripted (and socially-approved) rituals.  The occultist of the 1960s was a revolutionary of the soul and, as such, could not be bothered by the more materialistic revolution promised by Marx and Engels, Lenin and Mao.  While the occultist may have short-circuited himself or herself politically, the service done to society as a whole has yet to be evaluated.  If nothing else, the self-centered and self-involved American occultist of the 1960s was removed from the great social upheavals of the anti-war movement in the sense that he or she did not bring any sophisticated cultic influence to bear on the political aspect of that movement, unlike the influence of Teutonic mystics on the German political movements of the post-World War One era. And for that, we have to be thankful, for the occultist of the period did not have the political intelligence or social skills to create a new movement that blended -- in a positive, life-affirming, liberty-affirming way -- both spirituality and political organization.  The best we could offer at the time was the Blue Equinox!  

Today those occultists -- those who have survived -- are of an age to make a real contribution should they choose to do so.  They have matured, they have lived through the same political upheavals as the rest of
America -- Vietnam , Watergate, the Reagan years, Iran-Contra, etc -- and have developed their spiritual understanding to a greater degree.  They have become more realistic, less ethereal, have more to say.  They have also witnessed science moving tentatively in their direction.  

We are, I believe, on the verge of a spiritual awakening and revolution in
America , one that was predicted by General Douglas MacArthur so many years ago when he said:

"We have had our last chance.  If we will not devise some greater and more equitable system, our Armageddon will be at our door.  The problem is basically theological and involves a spiritual recrudescence ... It must be of the spirit if we are to save the flesh."