"Come now my child, if we were planning to harm you, do you think we'd be lurking here beside the path in the very darkest part of the forest..." - Kenneth Patchen, "Even So."

Lost, child? Don't be afraid. You can navigate by using the side bar to the right, under the picture of that curious fellow. Read about what has been written, and what is being written, by looking over the Blog Archive or "Things Lurking in the Dark." Be sure to check out the novella, "Unquiet Slumbers," posted in its entirety.

Saturday, April 4, 2015


The following is based on a true story.  It is a retelling of events in the virtual world of Second Life.  The names of the people involved have been changed to protect their identities.  The story follows closely the one retold in the "Progeny." 


For they eat the bread of wickedness, and drink the wine of violence.

- Proverbs 4:17

She'd never been inside an interrogation room before.  It really didn't look like the ones you saw on Law & Order.  It was worn and tired and smelled of old coffee and nervous sweat.  The battered table in from of her was pock-marked and stained, the plastic chair impossible to get comfortable in.  

Anita Willis sat there hugging her arms, shivering, waiting for the detective to return.  Her teeth were clenched, grinding painfully, and her heart rate had been dangerously near a hundred beats per minute for at least an hour now.  If she got any dizzier, she would faint.  Wild-eyed, she glanced around the dingy room, catching sight of herself in the mirror.  It was so grimy she had to fight the urge to produce a tissue from her purse and clean it.  How long was this going to take?  They had to start looking for Danny now.

As if he heard her thoughts, the detective opened the door.  She had already forgotten his name.  He set a cup of machine dispensed coffee down in front of her; it smelled metallic.  Then he rounded the table and sat across from her.

"Why am I here?"  She asked him.  "Is anyone out looking for Danny?"  She felt hysteria rising in her chest, and heard it creep into her voice.  His name was almost a shriek by the time it burst from her mouth.

"I need you to relax, Mrs. Willis," he replied, watching her.  "I promise you we have people who will take care of all this."

She swallowed, her throat tight.  Closing her eyes she tried to take a deep breath.  "My God...the last thing I said to him..."

"I need you to tell me exactly what happened," the detective said, his voice low and calm.  It was almost a purr.  "From the beginning.  Everything."

She jiggled her head, aping a nod.  Still clutching her arms across her chest she rocked slightly back and forth.  Behind her eyes she saw the shadows slither, the flickering strobe of fluorescent lights.  The stench of blood was still in her nostrils.

The words came tumbling out.

She hated Bargain Galaxy.  Hated it.  The generic, plastic-tasting food, the Made In China garbage that was not the only thing they could afford.  She hated the shame of it.  Since Mike had gotten laid off their lives had been in a downward spiral, first losing the house, then the second car.  They had moved into a one-bedroom apartment and the kids slept in the living room.   And while she was pulling double shifts at the restaurant, Mike's only contribution was self-pity quenched in beer.  She was tired of coming home to dirty dishes in the sink, exhausted, the baby crying to be fed.  And more than anything else she hated having to shop at Bargain Galaxy.

Danny had been acting up.  He was hungry and cranky and Julia was bawling her head off.  It was nearly nine-thirty at night and she had no idea where her husband was.  And because there was nothing to eat in the refrigerator, she piled the kids into the car to head over to Bargain Galaxy before it closed.

"Do I have to?" Danny had started whining.  He had been watching TV.

"Danny please, not now."  She had replied, scooping the baby up.  "We need to get there before they close."

"But why can't I stay here?  I'm almost seven.  I can be alone."

"C'mon, Danny, we are going."

He had come, arms folded in the backseat, scowling.  Just to let her know how displeased he was, he kept kicking the back of her seat the entire drive over.  "Daniel Martin Willis if you don't stop that right now, I swear!"  She barked, exasperated.

"I hate this place, and I hate the new apartment, and I hate you!"  He had snapped, glaring at her.

As she turned into the parking lot, the baby still shrieking in the car seat next to her, everything just came to a boil.  She said the words.

"Oh yeah?  Well sometimes I hate you too."

She regretted it instantly, but was too angry, too tired, too sick to death of everything to take them back.  So she parked as close to the entrance as she could, gathered up the baby, and dragged her son into the store.

She noticed right away that the greeter was not there as you entered, some bored underpaid teenager or retiree who forced a smile and blurted "Welcome to Bargain Galaxy" to everyone who came in.  She always did her best to ignore them and avoid eye contact, cheeks burning with shame.  I don't have to shop here, she always wanted to assure them.  It's just a bad patch.  But this time she paused a moment, looking around wondering where the greeter was.  There was only ten minutes to closing.  Maybe they let him go early.  

As the automatic doors whooshed close behind her, she was struck by the silence.  The only sound was the canned muzak version of Top of the World lilting through the store.  Julia has mercifully stopped crying and Anita shifted the baby in her arms.  She nodded at a cart.  "Grab one please, Danny."

"Fine," he snapped, sounding exactly like his father every time Anita got on his case for getting drunk again.  Fine with an undertone of shut up you nagging bitch.  He yanked one of the blue BARGAIN GALAXY carts from the line and rolled it behind her.

As they moved from the entrance into the front of the store, Anita paused again.  The silence was very nearly deafening.  Turning slowly, she ran her eyeline across the silent registers.  There were no customers.  No cashiers.  She glanced at her watch just to make sure it wasn't already past closing time.  But even if it was, there were always people here late, the clerks glaring at them with those please go home so I can go home too looks.  But there was no one here.  It was like a tomb.

"Mom look at the lights," Danny said beside her.  "What's the matter with them?"

He was right.  Half the lights in the store were flickering, the white fluorescence blinking erratically.  As she watched them, her belly tightened, doing a slow roll.  The flickering was...moving.  Now it was the lights on the left side of the store...moving slowly aisle by aisle towards the right...moving from the back towards the front.

Moving towards them.

She opened her mouth to say something, but the words dried in her throat.  Because, of course, now she saw.  There in aisle 3, face down on the floor was a woman, half naked and soaked in blood.  One row over, in aisle 4, the register was spattered with gore.  Anita's eyes widened, her gaze now shooting around.

And there was the greeter, slumped against the wall between the bubblegum machine and another that dispensed Pokemon toys.  He was all of sixteen, his pale skin hidden beneath clustered constellations of acne.  He wouldn't need to worry about it clearing up any more. The teen's blue BARGAIN GALAXY vest was soaked scarlet, eyes bulging.  It looked like chunks of flesh had been torn from his throat and wrists.

Danny gasped.

The lights above them started flickering now, the entrance lit in weird paparazzi flashes.  The temperature seemed to drop twenty degrees.  Anita reached for Danny's hand, clutching the baby to her breast.  

Straight ahead, just a few yards away, a woman had just appeared out of nowhere, staring at her.  She was tall and blonde, and too well dressed to be a Bargain Galaxy shopper.  Instead of yoga pants and a sweatshirt, she was wearing what looked like Chanel.  And the woman was clutching in her arms a figure much larger than a baby, the limp and bloodied form of a dark-haired girl.  Her blue eyes fixed on Anita's.  "For the love of your God, run!"

Anita nodded, groping for Danny's hand again and coming up with only empty air.  The blonde woman shouted at her again.  The same thing.  "Run."

Anita turned, but where Danny should have been there was only empty space.  A rising tide of panic exploded up her spine.  Somewhere near she heard screaming, a mindless animal shriek of pure terror.  

It sounded like her son.

"He is dead already!" The blonde woman hissed.  She had moved with impossible speed right up beside Anita.  She was still holding the dark-haired girl, but now with just one hand. He other hand closed on Anita's arm like a steel vice.  "Take your baby and run!"

Anita shook her head wildly, eyes searching.  Someone was screaming Danny's name.  It took her seconds to realise it was her.

"Damn you we must go NOW!"

In the horrible, flickering strobe, the shadows were gathering.  There was a darkness like a fog, and pieces of it tore away from the whole to form vaguely human shapes.  There were at least a half dozen of them gathering around her, twitching like zombies in a B movie.  Anita was screaming.

"You impossible woman!"  The blonde lady shouted.  Anita was lifted off her feet with terrible speed, and the world dissolved into a whirl.  The blonde woman was carrying her, carrying her and the dark haired girl out of the store.

"OhgodnopleaseIhavetogobackintheremysonmysonmyson!!!!"  Anita was shrieking, screaming, pleading.  But the blonde woman was gone and she was alone with the baby in the middle of the parking lot, red and blue police lights flashing.

Anita Willis finished her story, shaking badly.  The detective across the table was scowling at her, and she was afraid he didn't believe her.  

"Please...it's true, I swear it's true.  They took my son.  They took Danny!"  She reached across the table and grabbed his hand, pleading with her eyes.  "Oh God you have got to help me!"

The detective looked away, towards the mirror, and nodded...not at Anita, but at whomever was on the other side of the glass.  Then he pulled his hand away from Anita's, gently, and patted it.  "I believe you, Mrs. Willis.  Wait right here a moment."

He stood, and quietly left the room.

Anita broke, sobbing, face in her hands.  She thought about her last words to him, the terrible thing she had said.  Oh please Lord Jesus don't let that be the last thing I say to him.  Please God bring back my son.

The door opened behind her, and she heard the click of heels on the floor.  Wiping the tears and the snot away from her face with her hands, she glanced up.  Her heart skipped a beat in her chest.

"Hello Mrs. Willis," the blonde lady said.  She took the detective's seat across the table.  "I am afraid we were not properly introduced.  My name is Athena Harrington-Temple."

Anita thought of how easily she had carried that dark haired girl, how easily she had lifted Anita herself off her feet.  A dozen questions jumbled in her head, each fighting to get out first.  Only one did.  "Where is my son?"

The blonde woman nodded, the corners of her mouth turned down.  "I am so very sorry, Mrs. Willis.  When you came home from work this evening your son was nowhere to be found."

Anita blinked.  "What?"

"I understand your family has fallen on hard times recently.  The loss of your home, your husband's livelihood.  He has taken up drinking, I understand.  Sometimes under such circumstances little boys run away."

The blonde woman's voice was soothing, and Anita felt her heart beat slowly.  "No...we went to Bargain Galaxy...I saw...I saw..."

"You called the police right away, understandably.  And they came immediately to your home.  They are out looking for him.  I am sure they will look very hard."

The voice...it was like slipping into a warm bath.  It washed over you like perfume, and the way those blue eyes seemed to glitter...  

"You never went to Bargain Galaxy tonight.  When you hear about the tragedy there, the gangs and their turf war and the massacre, you still won't recall going there tonight."

Anita nodded now, agreeing.  Danny was missing but it was going to be alright.  She just knew that, she could feel it from the sound of the woman's voice.  Danny was going to be alright.  The police would find him.

The blonde woman nodded, and stood.  She glanced up at the mirror and gave a single nod towards the people on the other side.  Anita followed her gaze, and for the smallest fraction of seconds felt a stab of fear.  She could see herself reflected there, her tear-stained face red and puffy from crying, and she could see the whole of the dirty room.  But there was no reflection of the blonde woman in the glass.  It was like she wasn't even in the room at all.

But it didn't matter.  Nothing mattered in the warm, soothing buzz the woman's presence radiated.  

Nothing mattered at all.








Saturday, March 28, 2015


The Simon Necronomicon (Schlangekraft, 1977) purports to be the survival of an ancient Mesopotamian magical tradition that subsequently influenced both the weird fiction of H.P. Lovecraft (1890-1937) and the occult teachings of Aleister Crowley (1875-1947).  None of this is exactly true.  This  Necronomicon is not exactly Lovecraftian, it's not exactly Sumerian, and it's not exactly Crowley...rather it combines the ideas and writings of Lovecraft's and Crowley's proteges, August Derleth and Kenneth Grant respectively, in an attempt to materialise the "astral Necronomicon" Grant so often wrote about.  The result is an intriguing, workable grimoire that puts many of Grant's theories into practice.

in keeping Lovecraft's work alive, Derleth--a devout Catholic--also added to and tinkered with the mythos, turning it into a radically different vision than that of Lovecraft.

The Mad Arab and August Derleth   

In his Introduction, editor Simon makes some comments about Lovecraft;

Lovecraft depicted a kind of Christian Myth of the struggle between opposing forces of Light and Darkness, between God and Satan, in the Cthulhu Mythos...(b)asically, there are two "sets" of gods in the mythos : the Elder Gods, about whom not much is revealed, save that they are a stellar Race that occasionally comes to the rescue of man, and which corresponds to the Christian "Light"; and the Ancient Ones, about which much is told, sometimes in great detail, who correspond to "Darkness".

This is, of course, absolutely not the case.  What Simon is describing is the work of August Derleth (1909-1971), a Lovecraft fan and imitator who played a vital role in keeping Lovecraft's tales and letters in print.  But in keeping Lovecraft's work alive, Derleth--a devout Catholic--also added to and tinkered with the mythos, turning it into a radically different vision than that of Lovecraft.  Pre-eminent Lovecraft scholar S.T. Joshi states the case nicely, and I will quote him at length;

The essence of the Derleth Mythos is as follows:

- There is a moral conflict between the Elder Gods (benevolent cosmic deities who battle on behalf of the human race) against the “evil” Old Ones (Cthulhu, Yog-Sothoth, etc.), who are intent on subjugating the human race. [In Lovecraft’s stories, there are no benign deities, and the Old Ones are for the most part not gods at all but morally neutral space aliens who have come to earth and encountered human beings and other earthly entities at random points in history.]

- As a result of this cosmic struggle, the Elder Gods have “imprisoned” the Old Ones in various obscure corners of the world or the universe. [In Lovecraft’s stories, none of the “gods” or space aliens are imprisoned with the exception of Cthulhu, and there is no evidence that his imprisoning was at the hands of any benevolent deity.]

- Accordingly, the Cthulhu Mythos is analogous to the Christian mythos, especially in regard to the expulsion of Satan and his minions from heaven. [Lovecraft, an avowed atheist, portrayed a bleakly amoral and atheistic vision of an insignificant humanity lost in the temporal and spatial depths of the cosmos.]

- The Old Ones are “elementals”—that is, they represent the four “elements” (earth, air, fire, and water) of ancient and mediaeval philosophy. [Lovecraft’s “gods” do not bear the slightest resemblance to elementals, especially as they have come from the depths of space where earthly elements may not exist.]

If you were a reader discovering Lovecraft in the 50s, 60s, or 70s, it is likely you did so via Arkham House, the publishing company created by Derleth in 1939 to keep Lovecraft's writings and letters in print.  This would have meant, however, that you were being exposed to Lovecraft's Mythos through a "Derlethian" lens.  It wasn't really until the 1980s that scholars and critics (in America...Lovecraft had been the subject of serious study in European scholarship for decades) took Lovecraft seriously enough to begin to distinguish his vision from his protégé's.  S.T. Joshi, quoted above, was one of those scholars critical to this process.  Simon, writing his Introduction in the mid-Seventies, was simply repeating what was thought about Lovecraft at the time.  Indeed, by his own admission in the book Dead Names: The Dark History of the Necronomicon, when he discovered the Necronomicon manuscript Simon claims he knew nothing about Lovecraft. Whether you believe that Simon edited the Necronomicon or authored it, it's easy to understand how someone writing about the Cthulhu Mythos in the 70s would mistake  Derleth's version for than Lovecraft's.  

The better question then, is why "the Mad Arab" makes the same mistake.

Describing a cosmology that marries Derleth to the Enuma Elish, the author of this Necronomicon writes of two warring pantheons of deities, the primordial Ancient Ones and the younger Elder Gods who defeated and imprisoned them.  The Ancient Ones are led by Tiamat, the ancient Sumerian goddess of chaos and the seas, and her mate Absu (lord of subterranean waters).  These are, of course, authentic Mesopotamian deities, but to their number the text adds a host of clearly Lovecraft-inspired horrors; Iak Sakkak (Yog Sothoth), Azag-Thoth (Azathoth), Ishniggarab (Shub Niggurath), and of course Kutulu (Cthulhu).  These ancient beings are convincingly Lovecraftian.  They are alien, inhuman, immense, and possessing monstrous power.  But against them are the Elder Gods, led by the Babylonian god Marduk.  He and his fellow "Zonei" are each associated with one of the Hermetic planets (Nanna with the Moon, Nebo with Mercury, Inanna with Venus, Shammash with the Sun, Nergal with Mars, Marduk with Jupiter, and Ninib with Saturn).  They defeat the Ancient Ones, steal their power, and imprison them.  Then their father Enki fashions Man (a point we will get to shortly).  

Now, these Elder Gods have very human attributes and concerns.  Nebo is patron of the sciences, for example, while Inanna oversees love and war.  All of this completely flies in the face of Lovecraft's mythology, where the "gods" are utterly alien and man is entirely insignificant to them.  This is the whole point of Lovecraft's horror; it rejects the traditional notion of cosmic powers at war over Man's soul.  For Lovecraft, the universe neither notices us nor cares.  Humanity simple doesn't matter.  And this, more than anything, is where the Necronomicon betrays itself as "Derlethian" rather than "Lovecraftian," because in its pages Man is a the very centre of the cosmic struggle;

And was not Man created from the blood of KINGU
Commander of the hordes of the Ancient Ones?
Does not man possess in his spirit
The seed of rebellion against the Elder Gods?

...Created by the Elder Gods
From the Blood of the Ancient Ones
Man is the Key by which
The Gate of IAK SAKKAK may be flung wide  

Far from being insignificant, Man is the centrepiece of the entire system, born of the Ancient One's blood and the breath of the Elder Gods he is the key that can release the Ancient Ones from their prison.  While Lovecraft struggled to create a mythology completely divorced from humanity, this Necronomicon returns to the very path he was departing from.  If we are to believe this is the "real" Necronomicon, the one that inspired Lovecraft's work, it is very difficult to explain why it more closely resembles the bastardised version created by August Derleth.

Simon Dissents

As we touched on briefly in Part One, one of the interesting features of the Necronomicon is that it speaks with two contrasting voices.  One the one hand we have it's author, the Mad Arab, who represents a very traditional viewpoint (from the Western esoteric viewpoint, that is).  For the Mad Arab there is a human race created by the gods and playing a central role in the cosmos, seven hermetic planets associated with fairly traditional correspondences that enclose and protect the world, and forces of Light and Darkness at war with one another.  Humanity is, naturally, urged to side with the Light in this struggle.  These are the same sorts of things we might find in Agrippa, Levi, or any of the medieval grimoires.

The Ancient Ones are not unspeakable horrors that must be kept imprisoned, but a Power, a force venerated in the East but demonised in the West.

Against this we have the voice of the editor, Simon, who speaks from a very nontraditional viewpoint.  He espouses views that started with Aleister Crowley and flowered through modern occultists like Austin Spare, Anton LaVey, Peter Carroll, and (most specifically) Kenneth Grant.  This is a view that transcends notions of Light and Dark and Good and Evil.  Where the Mad Arab has a very dualistic 'us against them' mentality (the 'Christian Myth' Simon mistakenly ascribes to Lovecraft), Simon seems to see the Elder Gods and Ancient Ones as part of a single continuum. When discussing the traditional viewpoint of the Mad Arab, for example, Simon calls everything into question.  Note the use of quotation marks and the statements made in the follow section;

There was a battle between the forces of "light" and "darkness" (so-called) that took place long before man was created, before even the cosmos as we know it existed.  It is described fully in the Enuma Elish and in the bastardised version found in the NECRONOMICON, and involved the Ancient Ones, led by the Serpent MUMMU-TIAMAT and her male counterpart ABSU, against the ELDER GODS (called such in the N.) led by the warrior MARDUK, son of the Sea God ENKI, Lord of the Magicians of this side, or what would be called "White Magicians"--although close examination of the myths of ancient times makes one pause before attempting to judge which of the two warring factions was "good" or "evil"...

"Light," "Darkness," "so-called," "White Magicians," "good," "evil..." Simon is clearly skeptical of the Mad Arab's traditional assumptions.  He is consistent in this.  When writing of Enki's opposite, the Ancient One AZAGTHOTH, he calls him the Lord of Magicians, but of the "Black" magicians, or the sorcerers of the "Other Side."  Again, "Black" and "Other Side" are enclosed in quotation marks.  And shortly after these comments, Simon sets aside a chapter of his Introduction to discuss the worship of the Ancient Ones in which it sounds suspiciously like he is defending the idea;

S.H. Hooke, in his excellent Middle Eastern Mythology, tells us that the Leviathan mentioned in JOB, and elsewhere in the Old Testament, is the Hebrew name given to the Serpent TIAMAT, and reveals that there was in existence either a cult, or scattered individuals, who worshipped or called up the Serpent of the Sea, or Abyss.

Bear in mind Simon's counterpart, the Mad Arab, speaks of these worshippers too, but always with absolute horror.  They are the "wreakers of havoc," "the ensnarers, the piers-in-wait, the blind fiends of Chaos," "secret priests initiated into the Black Rites, whose names are writ forever in the Book of Chaos."  Simon begs to differ;

It is this TIAMAT or Leviathan that is identified closely with KUTULU or Cthulhu in the pages of the NECRONOMICON...(t)his monster is well know to cult worship all over the world...the Dragon or Serpent is said to reside somewhere "below the earth;" it is a powerful force, a magickal force, which is identified with mastery over the created world; it is also a power that can be summoned by the few and not the many. However, in China, there did not seem to be a backlash of fear or resentment against this force as was known in Europe and Palestine...In the West, the conjuration, cultivation, or worship of this Power was strenuously opposed with the advent of Solar, Monotheistic religions...

These "Solar, Monotheistic religions" are what Simon meant with the phrase a "Christian Myth of the struggle between opposing forces of Light and Darkness."  It is a dualistic struggle Crowley would have called Osirian and which Simon enthusiastically dismisses;

The wholesale slaughter of those called "Witches" during the Inquisition is an example of this, as well as the solemn and twisted--that is to say purposeless and unenlightened--celibacy the Church espoused.  For the orgone of Wilhelm Reich is just as much Leviathan as the Kundalini of the Tantrick adepts, and the Power raised by Witches.  It has always, at least in the past two thousand years, been associated with occultism and essentially with Rites of Evil Magick, or the Forbidden Magick, of the Enemy, and of Satan...

Instead of a cosmic struggle between the forces of Good and Evil, Simon sees in the Necronomicon something completely different.  The Ancient Ones are not unspeakable horrors that must be kept imprisoned, but a Power, a force venerated in the East but demonised in the West.   The perception of them as Evil is one fostered by two thousand years of priestly propaganda.  

In Part Three, we will be taking a closer look at this idea, tracing it through Crowley, Spare, and Grant.





Tuesday, March 10, 2015


By the way—there is no “Necronomicon of the mad Arab Abdul Alhazred.” That hellish & forbidden volume is an imaginative conception of mine, which others of the W.T. group have also used as a background of allusion.

Lovecraft, Letter to Robert Bloch, May 9, 1933

A Book That Never Was

The Necronomicon is one of those literary inventions--like Atlantis or Noah's Ark--that certain circles of people desperately want to believe really existed.  The invention of American master of weird fiction Howard Phillips Lovecraft (1890-1937), the Necronomicon makes it's first appearance in the short story "The Hound" (1922), but is probably best remembered from "The Dunwich Horror" (1929), where it is a vital part of the plot and quoted extensively.  Composed around 700 AD by the "half-crazed" Yemeni Abdul Alhazred, the sprawling 800+ page volume describes the cosmic deities, alien races, and occult forces of the "Cthulhu Mythos," a term coined by Lovecraft protege August Dereleth.  The Necronomicon is just one of many fictional tomes invented by Lovecraft, and because it--like all elements of the Cthulhu Mythos--was something he freely shared with his literary circle and allowed other authors to borrow for their own tales, the Necronomicon began to enjoy an existence independent of its creator.  As more authors started writing about the Necronomicon, more readers started assuming it actually existed, forcing Lovecraft to set the record straight on several occasions;

Regarding the Necronomicon—I must confess that this monstrous & abhorred volume is merely a figment of my own imagination!

Letter to Margaret Sylvester, 1933

Regarding the dreaded Necronomicon of the mad Arab Abdul Alhazred—I must confess that both the evil volume & the accursed author are fictitious creatures of my own—as are the malign entities of Azathoth, Yog-Sothoth, Nyarlathotep, Shub-Niggurath, &c.

Letter to William Anger, 1934

Now about the “terrible and forbidden books”—I am forced to say that most of them are purely imaginary. There never was any Abdul Alhazred or Necronomicon, for I invented these names myself.

Letter to Willis Conover, 1936

Upon learning the Black Book never existed, some urged Lovecraft to attempt writing it.  To "Conan" creator Robert E. Howard he wrote in 1932;

As for writing the Necronomicon—I wish I had the energy and ingenuity to do it! I fear it would be quite a job in view of the very diverse passages and intimations which I have in the course of time attributed to it! I might, though, issue an abridged Necronomicon—containing such parts as are considered at least reasonably safe for the perusal of mankind! When von Juntz’s Black Book and the poems of Justin Geoffrey are on the market, I shall certainly have to think about the immortalisation of old Abdul!

Lovecraft never did get around to his abridged version of the sprawling volume, but by the 1970s, several others decided to try.  The climate, after all, was right for a Necronomicon.  The 50s and 60s had seen an occult revival, which by the 70s was drifting from Age of Aquarius white Magic towards something darker.  The Church of Satan was grabbing headlines and spawning imitators, Kenneth Grant was exploring the nightside of Eden, and Chaos Magic was coalescing.  And Lovecraft, who for decades had been banished to quiet semi-obscurity, was making a comeback. H.R. Giger published a collection of horrific art in 1977 under the title Necronomicon, and it helped land him the job of creating the terrifying xenomorph in Alien.  A bit earlier, von Däniken's Chariots of the Gods reawakened Lovecraft's themes of ultrarerrestrial deities and unearthly visitations.  Rod Serling's Night Gallery brought a few of Lovecraft's stories to the small screen, and the decade had kicked off with a film version of The Dunwich Horror. In short, there was a new interest in the Cthulhu Mythos, and coupled with the shadowy direction the occult scene had taken a Necronomicon was nearly inevitable.

Of the three major attempts the Seventies made at manifesting a Necronomicon, only one was viable.  1973 saw Owlswick Press publish a Necronomicon in the fictional, indecipherable language of "Duriac."  It consisted of about twenty pages repeated over and over again to make it look like a real book, and had little value as anything but a prop.  In 1978, the Hay Necronomicon appeared, "prepared from" encoded sections of John Dee's Liber Logaeth.   It's claim to fame was a long-winded ramble by Colin Wilson that the Necronomicon "had to be real" because Lovecraft was too much of a hack to have ever made it up, and went to great pains to show how this weird fiction writer would have come across it.  Vastly superior to the Owlswick attempt, it nevertheless rapidly faded back into obscurity.  But in 1977, a Necronomicon rose from the vortex of New York's occult scene that thirty-seven years and four editions later would still be in print, a little black book that televangelists would wave around alongside The Satanic Bible throughout the Eighties to scare the rubes.  Bearing very little in common with Lovecraft's accursed book, this Necronomicon nevertheless seized the title and made it its own.

It would come to be known as the Simon Necronomicon.

The Simon Necronomicon succeeded for several reasons.  For starters, it tapped perfectly into the zeitgeist of the 1970s. In addition to the trends of darker magic and H.P. Lovecraft mentioned above, the Simon Necronomicon added two other key elements.  The first was Aleister Crowley (1875-1947), who in the Seventies was making a comeback much as Lovecraft was.  The second was Sumer, which thanks to Zacariah Sitchin had replaced Egypt as the new epicenter of the "ancient astronauts" craze.  As we shall see, Sumer, Crowley, and Lovecraft are the three corners the Simon Necronomicon is written around, and all three were hot topics in the Seventies underground.  Bringing the Annunaki, the Cthulhu Mythos, and Crowley's Magick together was a stroke of genius.

A second factor had to be the book's graphic design.  The distinctive Gates and Seals throughout the Simon Necronomicon are nothing short of striking. Indeed, the "Arra-Agga-Bandar" Sigil adorning the front cover on the book rapidly became--alongside the Church of Satan's Baphomet--a universal logo of dark magic, recognizable on heavy metal album covers and back alley walls throughout the Eighties.  This is a real testament to the book's ability to grab the eye.  Being as much about aesthetics as anything else, the look of a magic system's occult mandalas is crucial to a grimoire's success.  The Necronomicon's sigils are far more convincing than any of the text itself.

...there is hardly a grimoire out there (or holy text for that matter) that doesn't make absurd claims about its origin.  The Key of Solomon was not written by Solomon.  The Corpus Hermeticum was not composed by Thrice Great Hermes.  The Sixth and Seventh Books of Moses weren't written by Moses, and the five books of the Pentateuch weren't either.  So the point is never what the text claims about its origination, but the fruit it bears...

The key element in the book's success, however, is that it is an actual grimoire.  It is a "fake" Necronomicon but a "real" book of magic.  There is a complete system of magic in the Necronomicon's pages, as unique and self contained as, say, the Enochian system.  Whether the claims it makes about this system are true or not (that it predates all modern magic systems and is an ancient tradition) doesn't change the fact you can pick up the book and work with it.  This, of course, is the only criteria that really matters with a grimoire; does it work.  Because there is hardly a grimoire out there (or holy text for that matter) that doesn't make absurd claims about its origin.  The Key of Solomon was not written by Solomon.  The Corpus Hermeticum was not composed by Thrice Great Hermes.  The Sixth and Seventh Books of Moses weren't written by Moses, and the five books of the Pentateuch weren't either.  So the point is never what the text claims about its origination, but the fruit it bears.

With this in mind, for the rest of our discussion we are going to lay aside questions of the book's authenticity and concentrate on it as a piece of occult technology.  To do this, we need to look at the volume's two parts; the text proper, and Simon's long Introductions and explanatory front matter.

Simon Says

"Simon" is both the man of mystery who brought this Necronomicon to press, and the Editor whose voice provides a modern counterpoint to the "Mad Arab" who is said to have written the text.  His Introductions (as of the 2008 edition there are four) and commentary take up nearly a quarter of the book.

Simon's presence in the Necronomicon is interesting, because the ideas he expresses so often run completely counter to what the Mad Arab is telling us.  For example, the Mad Arab's motivation in writing the book is to protect us from the very dark powers the Necronomicon discusses; "Seek ever to keep the Outside Gate closed and sealed, by the instructions I have given thee, by the Seals and the Names herein."  Simon, however, blithely dismisses these warnings;

After the long and poetic MAGAN text, comes the URILLIA text which might be Lovecraft's R'lyeh Text, and is subtitled "Abominations". It has more specifically to do with the worship of the Serpent, and the nature of the cults that participate in the Concelebration of Sin. Again, more conjurations and seals are given, even though the reader is charged not to use them; an inconsistency that is to be found in many grimoires of any period and perhaps reveals a little of the magicians's mentality; for there is very little that is evil to the advanced magus, who cares not if he deals with angelic or demonic forces, save that he gets the job done!

This seems to be the first of the roles Simon plays in the book...to urge us to look past the lurid horrors and dire warnings of the Mad Arab towards a deeper meaning in the text.  The Mad Arab reads like A. E. Waite, while Simon sounds like Aleister Crowley ("Ah! Mr. Waite, the world of Magic is a mirror, wherein who sees muck is muck..." Crowley famously wrote, chiding Waite for his pious fear of Goetia).  More to the point, given the nature of this Necronomicon, the Mad Arab reads like August Derleth and Simon like Kenneth Grant.

I mention these names because Simon's second role seems to be connecting the dots for us, bringing together Lovecraft, Crowley, and ancient Mesopotamia for us in the pages of the book;

That a reclusive author of short stories who lived in a quiet neighbourhood in New England, and the manic, infamous Master Magician who called the world his home, should have somehow met in the sandy wastes of some forgotten civilisation seems incredible. That they should both have become Prophets and Forerunners of a New Aeon of Man's history is equally, if not more, unbelievable. Yet, with H.P. Lovecraft and Aleister Crowley, the unbelievable was a commonplace of life. These two men, both acclaimed as geniuses by their followers and admirers, and who never actually met, stretched their legs across the world, and in the Seven League Boots of the mind they did meet, and on common soil . . . . Sumeria.

The gist of the initial 1975 Introduction is that the Necronomicon, as an ancient magical tradition, is the common source of both Crowley's Magick and Lovecraft's fiction (as well as the cult of Wicca and much of modern Satanism).  The problem with this is that both Simon's Introduction and the text itself are clearly derivative not of Lovecraft and Crowley, but their proteges...August Derleth and Kenneth Grant.  This is a matter we will be exploring in Part Two.   

Monday, February 16, 2015


New from the digital world.  An Interview with the Vampire.  An interview with my Second Life avatar in this month's Avi Choice magazine.  The interview starts on page 51.

Thursday, January 29, 2015


"You could fire a machine gun randomly through the pages of Lord of the Rings and never hit any women.”

-Neil Gaiman 

The Tolkien Misreader

Watching Peter Jackson's The Hobbit trilogy, TIME magazine's Ruth Davis Konigsberg wanted to know "Why Are There No Women In Tolkien's World?"  She's not alone in her inquiry; for decades people have been taking about the "anti-feminist" streak in his works.  The arguments usually come down to there being a lack of women, to his habit of putting women on pedestals, and to the "fact" that there are no female role-models in his Middle-earth.  All sorts of explanations are offered for this, ranging from his devout Catholicism to the death of his mother when he was twelve.  None of them are satisfactory, however, for one important reason: the fault lies in an assumption made the audience, not in the author's work.

I had a great-grandmother who walked into Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds once thinking it was going to be a documentary about our feathered friends.  Needless to say, she had a rude surprise coming to her.  If you pick up The Lord of the Rings, and expect it to be a modern novel, or mistakenly assume Tolkien was a "novelist," you are in for the same kind of shock.  Tolkien was exactly the opposite of a novelist.  Intentionally.

We need to think about the word a minute here, because as a professional philologist, that is exactly what Tolkien would do.  The word "novel," from the Latin for "new," means something that is "...new and different from what has been known before."  The word becomes associated with "narrative literature" only around 1640, because at the time, the novel was something novel.  

For, centuries, the role of the storyteller had been that of custodian.  The storyteller preserved the language, culture, and ethics of the past by passing them down, generation after generation, in the form of tales and fables.  Traditional literature, whether the Iliad or Odyssey, the Ramayana or Mahabharata, the Kalevala or Mabinogion, was simply oral tradition finally making its way into writing.  Sir Thomas Malory didn't invent Arthurian Romance any more than Hans Christian Andersen or the Brothers Grimm invented their fairy tales.  They were part of the older tradition, of preserving the past in writing.  In the late Renaissance, by sharp contrast, we see the emergence of modern novel--a new story invented by an author, and frequently as a social criticism meant to initiate change.  This was a complete reversal of previous written literature, and it is not until the 19th century that it rises to dominance.

J.R.R. Tolkien was an academic and a writer, but certainly not a novelist.  His career as a philologist, his groundbreaking work with traditional pieces like Beowulf and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, his academic writings, all make it clear he was dedicated to preserving the kind of literature that the modern novel was trying to supplant.  To read him as you might read Martin or Jordan is to completely miss the point.

Now you might be thinking at this point "but Middle-earth is just fantasy, it's something Tolkien 'made-up.'"  Yes and no.  It is true that Tolkien invented the Elvish tongues, with a smattering of Black Speech and Dwarvish for spice, but otherwise his "invention" was in fact a kind of "imaginative reconstruction."  Looking at the scattered fragments of fairy tales and legends of Northern Europe, especially the old Anglo-Saxon and Germanic bits, Tolkien played a game of trying to imagine where it all might have come from.  Who are the dwarves in Snow White?  Are they the same as the dwarves scattered throughout Arthurian romance?  What about elves? Goblins?  Trolls?  Tolkien sifted through all the pieces and tried to imagine a primordial myth cycle that might have originated them.  

The clearest example of this lies inside The Hobbit.  The dwarves in The Hobbit are all drawn from a section of the Norse Eddas call the "Völuspá," specifically a chapter entitled Dvergatal or "catalogue of the Dwarves." This ancient poetry fragment lists Durin, Kili and Fili, Bifur and Bombur, Thorin, et al.  Nestled among these names was one that to Tolkien would have stood out like a sore thumb...Gandalf.  Not only did it sound different than the others, it meant literally wand elf.  What was an elf doing in a list of dwarves, and what on earth was a wand elf?  Eventually he would conclude a wand elf was a wizard, not really an elf at all but a staff-bearing immortal from the Undying West where the elves lived.  Is he making this up?  Of course he is, but hardly from scratch.  He was trying to imagine what these things might have meant.

And this brings us back to the charges of anti-feminism.  Neil Gaiman is right; you could take a machine gun to The Lord of the Rings and not hit any women.  But the same could be said for Beowulf, or Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.  It would have been impossible for Tolkien, who so clearly and painstakingly tried to emulate traditional literature, to include Peter Jackson's version of Arwen, or the elf maiden Tauriel, in his works.  They would have stood out as obvious anachronisms.

Tolkien himself was aware of this.  Take for example his understanding of fine amor, the medieval tradition of "courtly love."  The idea, essentially, is of a pure and chaste woman who inspires a man to preform great deeds.  Loving her from afar, the hero elevates himself out of a desire to be worthy of her.  This is exactly the kind of relationship Arwen and Aragorn have, because if you are writing an authentic piece of medievalism like The Lord of the Rings then fine amor can't be ignored.  All the same, Tolkien, both as a modern man and especially as a Catholic, rejected the concept;

"Its (fine amor) center was not God but imaginary Deities, Love and the Lady.  It still tends to make the Lady a kind of guiding star or divinity - of the old-fashioned 'his divinity' = the woman he loves - the object or reason of noble conduct.  This is, of course, false and at best make-believe....The woman is (just) another fallen human-being with a soul in peril..."

- Letter to Michael Tolkien, 6-8 March 1941

Tolkien then is not the one elevating women to such a status, the genre is.  He recognizes the idea of a perfect, ideal woman as "false" and "make-believe," and that women are human beings just as flawed as men, but there is simply no way he could authentically preserve medieval literary tradition by omitting fine amor, taking Arwen down off her pedestal so she could go out adventuring with Aragorn as a modern writer (or filmmaker) might have preferred him to do.  

The Refusals of Galadriel

While we can agree that The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, like the literature they are meant to emulate, have few women characters, and that Tolkien includes the medieval trope of elevating women to paragon status in The Lord of the Rings, the claim he presents us with no feminist role models is simply wrong.  Again, I tend to think this oversight arises from a fundamental misapprehension of his work.  If you read The Lord of the Rings as a self-contained novel, which is in fact to misread it, then you are missing a full understanding of the character of Galadriel.  Only reading the book in the context of Tolkien's greater myth cycle, published in The Silmarilion, does it become possible to see Galadriel as exactly what she is; a role model.  Indeed, in Tolkien's mind she might have been the role model, for reasons we will soon discuss.  As this status does not depend on her gender, and if we accept feminism as being "the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes," this makes her a powerful feminist role model by default.

But before we get there, we need to cover a few concepts first.  Most importantly, we are not talking about Galadriel solely as a character in The Lord of the Rings, but as a key figure in a larger myth cycle.  This is crucial to fully understanding her significance. 

Keep in mind that in The Lord of the Rings Tolkien is writing a history, not a novel.  Consider his famous quote from the front matter of The Fellowship of the Ring;

I cordially dislike allegory in all its manifestations, and always have done so since I grew old and wary enough to detect its presence. I much prefer history – true or feigned– with its varied applicability to the thought and experience of readers. I think that many confuse applicability with allegory, but the one resides in the freedom of the reader, and the other in the purposed domination of the author.

Tolkien refers to The Lord of the Rings as a history time and time again, and for him, it was just the tail end of an immense saga stretching back eons, the final chapter of the great history of Middle-earth.  Because he is writing a history, he does things no sane novelist would ever do.  When Galadriel appears in The Fellowship of the Ring, for example, there is no real explanation of who she is or why she matters.  A novelist would never have done this, but a historian would.  Consider, when Sir Gawain's shield is described to us in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (a work I reference again because Tolkien knew it so well and translated it into modern English), we are told the inside of it bears the face of the Virgin Mary.  The anonymous author doesn't stop to tell us who Mary is...he simply expects us to know.  The same is true of Galadriel, who anyone in Middle-earth would presumably know of.  Telling us about her breaks the illusion of Middle-earth being a real world, and Tolkien likely hoped we would go and reference other documents (The Silmarilion) to get those answers.  If we did, our understanding of Galadriel in The Fellowship of the Ring would completely change.

Galadriel--based solely on her scenes in The Fellowship of the Ring--has been compared to Glinda the Good Witch by some critics, who see her as almost one dimensional in her cartoon goodness.  She is so virtuous and pure that when Frodo offers her the Ring she refuses it.  Then she gives the Fellowship some nifty parting gifts and sends them on their way.  And oh, how cute that she gives the dwarf Gimli three strands of her pretty hair.  It is easy to see her as little more than the goody two-shoes fairy queen, or--as others have more flatteringly hypothesized based on Tolkien's devout Catholic faith--some sort of reflection of the Virgin Mary. 

But if you read The Silmarillion, or Tolkien's notes and other writings about her, these scenes look completely different.  Galadriel is anything but sweetness and light, and she is certainly not the Virgin Mary.  In some ways she has more in common with Lucifer than the Mother of God.  She is an exceedingly complex character and central to one of the author's themes.

Let's get the Marian comparisons out of the way first.  Mary, in Catholic doctrine, is revered because of her submission to the Divine Will;

By her complete adherence to the Father's will, to his Son's redemptive work, and to every prompting of the Holy Spirit, the Virgin Mary is the Church's model of faith and charity.

- The Catechism of the Catholic Church

But "complete adherence to the Father's will" is hardly how you would describe Galadriel, who is defined primarily by her refusals, rather than obedience.  Galadriel is half Noldor, a race of elves that once dwelled in timeless Paradise by the grace of the Creator and his emissaries, the archangelic Valar.  Rebelling against the Divine Will, Galadriel and her brethren became exiles from Paradise, driven by pride and anger.  They were banned from these lands of bliss.  Later, given a second chance to return to grace, Galadriel was among those who refused again, too proud to surrender the queenly status she had attained in the fallen world of Middle-earth for the role of servant in the Undying Lands.  As Tolkien summed up the Marian comparisons;

I think it is true that I owe much of this character to Christian and Catholic teaching about Mary, but actually Galadriel was a penitent; in her youth a leader in the rebellion against the Valar (the angelic guardians). At the end of the First Age she proudly refused forgiveness or permission to return...

Letters, p. 407

Tolkien reiterated her position more strongly elsewhere;

(Galadriel) joined the rebellion against the Valar who commanded them to stay; and once she had set foot upon that road of exile, she would not relent . . . Her pride was unwilling to return, a defeated suppliant for pardon...Pride still moved her when, at the end of the Elder Days after the final overthrow of Morgoth, she refused the pardon of the Valar for all who had fought against him, and remained in Middle-earth...

-The People's of Middle-earth, p. 338

Again, this idea of "Fallen elves" is not something Tolkien was just "making up."  Elves, in pre-Christian mythologies, were a class of intermediary spirits between gods and men.  In medieval tradition they were reinterpreted in light of the new religion.  Folklore had it that after Lucifer's rebellion in Heaven, the third of the Angels who sided with him fell and became demons, the third that fought with Michael stayed in Heaven, and the third that remained neutral were cast down to Earth to become elves.  Tolkien's Noldor reflect that tradition; they are not strictly evil, but they are angelic immortals banished from Paradise.

But what does this have to do with Galadriel being a role model, let alone a feminist one? 

For starters, Galadriel is significant in her total equality.  When we meet her in The Fellowship of the Ring, she is the co-ruler of Lothlórien, described as equal in everything (including physical stature) to her husband, Lord Celeborn.  Tolkien calls her not only the "greatest of elven women," but also the "mightiest and fairest of all the Elves that remained in Middle-earth." She is second to no one, male or female.  Indeed, even her name implies a kind of transcendence of gender stereotypes; not "Galadriel," the name she has come to be called in Middle-earth, but "Nerwen," a name she bore in the Undying Lands that means "man maiden," given to her by her mother because she was as tall and strong as any male elf.  

This must not be taken as meaning her "mannishness" is what defines her.  Galadriel's feminine attributes are key as well;

...and she grew to be tall beyond the measure even of the women of the Noldor; she was strong of body, mind, and will [...] Even among the Eldar she was accounted beautiful, and her hair was held a marvel unmatched. It was golden like the hair of her father and of her foremother Indis, but richer and more radiant, for its gold was touched by some memory of the starlike silver of her mother; and the Eldar said that the light of the Two Trees, Laurelin and Telperion, had been snared in her tresses...

—Unfinished Tales, The History of Galadriel and Celeborn

The significance of her femininity is also reflected in the importance of being a mother, and in fact a grandmother to Arwen, the elf maid Aragorn loves.  

Thus, just as her beautiful hair combines the golden and silver light of the two divine trees, Galadriel combines qualities we might see as both masculine and feminine, but what really distinguishes Galadriel is her complexity.  In a cycle of tales often criticized for their "black and white morality," Galadriel stands out as very grey.  She is not, like Morgoth or Sauron, evil, but neither is she as loyal and obedient as Gandalf.  Galadriel knows her own mind.  And again, we come back to her refusals.  Not only did she refuse the command of the Valar to remain in the Blessed Lands, not only did she refuse to return, it was her refusal that started--indirectly--the fall of her entire race.  It was Fëanor, her kinsman, who fashioned the three Silmarils, enchanted jewels that captured the golden and silver light of the two trees that lit the Undying Lands.  The fallen angel Morgoth poisoned the trees and stole these gems, taking them to Middle-earth, and this is why the Noldor went into exile; against the wishes of the Valar they decided to go after Morgoth and the stones.  But Fëanor forged those jewels because of Galadriel's refusals.  For it is said her beautiful hair also captured the light of those trees, and Fëanor asked her three times for a strand of it.  Three times she refused, and so he made the jewels instead.

And here, her gift to the dwarf Gimli takes on special significance.  Reading only The Lord of the Rings we may think nothing of it, but it was a monumental act;

Her parting gift to Gimli is highly significant. He asks for a single hair from her head, which he intends to enshrine within imperishable crystal. In the elder days Fëanor had asked the same, and been refused three times, for her tresses were famed for seeming to contain the light of the Two Trees. . . . Now she gives Gimli three hairs, one for each of the ancient refusals, which were bound up with so much grief for the Elves. Galadriel's gift heals the long rift between her people and the Dwarves. It implies that she now repents of any part her pride may have played in the long tragedy. 

The Power of the Ring, p. 54

Here again is Tolkien's excellence as a mythographer and historian and "failure" as a novelist.  We cannot grasp the immense significance of Galadriel's gift by reading The Fellowship of the Ring alone.

Which brings us at last to the act that makes Galadriel heroic, and absolutely central to Tolkien's work as a role model to us all.  

Tolkien succinctly summed up his themes in a letter later published in The Silmarillion. "Anway, all this stuff is mainly concerned with Fall, Mortality, and the Machine" (The Silmarillion, p. xvii).  The Fall in particular haunts his tales, from the Fall of the Dark Lord and the Fall of the Elves to the Fall of the proud Men of the West.  As we have seen, Galadriel is bound tightly to the theme, and the Fall of the Elves.  But she does something amazing in The Fellowship of the Ring.  When Frodo Baggins offers her the One Ring, she refuses it;

"And now at last it comes. You will give me the Ring freely! In place of the Dark Lord you will set up a Queen. And I shall not be dark, but beautiful and terrible as the Morning and the Night!" . . . She lifted up her hand and from the ring that she wore there issued a great light that illumined her alone and left all else dark. . . . Then she let her hand fall, and the light faded, and suddenly she laughed again, and lo! she was shrunken: a simple elf-woman, clad in simple white, whose gentle voice was soft and sad.

"I pass the test," she said. "I will diminish, and go into the West, and remain Galadriel." 

Fellowship, p. 381.

This is not, as critics would have it, because she is one dimensional and too good to take it.  As we have seen, Galadriel has twice refused the Divine Will already, and chosen to "rule in Middle-earth rather than serve in Paradise," to paraphrase Milton. The One Ring signifies rulership of the world, and Galadriel is a fallen immortal who refused forgiveness because she desired to rule in Middle-earth.  Offering her the Ring is to tempt her with everything she ever wanted.  But unlike Lucifer, or Sauron or Morgoth for that matter, Galadriel refuses this.  It is this last of Galadriel's refusals that changes her destiny.  

It was not until two long ages more had passed, when at last all that she had desired in her youth came to her hand, the Ring of Power and the dominion of Middle-earth of which she had dreamed, that her wisdom was full grown and she rejected it, and passing the last test departed from Middle-earth forever. 

The Peoples of Middle-Earth, p. 338

Here at last we come to Galadriel the role model.  Tolkien famously said, "The Lord of the Rings is of course a fundamentally religious and Catholic work," and we have seen some of this in the many "Falls" that happen in the  mythology.  Morgoth falls.  Sauron falls.  Saruman falls.  The Men of the West fall.  And most of the Noldor elves fall.  Likewise, there are many who resist temptation and do not fall; Tom Bombadil, Gandalf, Samwise, Faramir, etc.  But Galadriel is very nearly unique in that she falls and is then redeemed, in a sense representing the whole of the human condition as Tolkien understood it.  There may be a shortage of women in Tolkien's quasi-medieval fiction, but we cannot simply dismiss the fact that the character that best embodies Tolkien's faith--that it is possible to sin and be forgiven--is a woman.  And a proud, self-possessed, regal woman at that.  

You don't have to be a Catholic or a a Christian to appreciate this; I am certainly neither.  But you are on very shaky ground when you accuse Tolkien of anti-feminist tendencies when one of the most important figures in his work is a woman.  Galadriel doesn't swing a sword or wear armor, but the strength she demonstrates in resisting temptation far exceeds any action-heroine antics.  The author clearly meant her to be a role model for us all, male or female.  Galadriel is neither Eve nor Mary, but an "every person" meant to represent us all.  If we are looking for feminist role models, and quality is to outweigh quantity, then Tolkien was perhaps a feminist after all.