From 1987 to 2000, the Holy Thelemic Kingdom of Man continued to rule the human world, controlling its territory but not its people…there were power struggles amid the secret sanctums of the Beast and his Bride. A Caliphate sprang up, valuing worldly power over esoteric guidance…they were soon destroyed by their own corrosive souls, with the original Ordo Templi Orientis (Crowley’s magical order dating back to the early 1900s, and the esoteric arm of the Kingdom…the Knights Templars indeed) taking no notice. The Typhonians were a bigger problem…they based their cult on the War Engine that Parsons had brought to bear upon the world government of the time, and one of their leaders claimed to be in touch with the extraterrestrial intelligence that had designed it, or at least a member of their race. The Typhonians wished to bring about the meeting of humanity and this alien race, and the eventual subjugation of the Kings by beings from another world. This naturally made them anathema to the Thelemite rulers of society, and they were mocked and opposed, even as they delved further into excessive magical experimentation.
Granted, they were losing their grip on reality…but even if by some off chance they had contacted powers beyond the ken of the mainstream magical orders, Liber Oz (Crowley’s foundational declaration of human rights, predating even the Second Great War) did not protect them against being spoken against. It only protected their right to speak all the nonsense they pleased. The only thing that the establishment feared was that Lam, the being the Typhonians believed they had contacted in outer space, might actually exist, and that he might offer a fleet of War Engines to the Typhonian government. This would be what was commonly known as an unmitigated disaster…it would bring down the whole enterprise and leave very little standing in the way of human rights or human Light. And so the latter half of the 1990s became a magical shootout between the O.T.O., the A:.A:. (the British order in whose name Crowley had published most of his foundational documents), and the Typhonian O.T.O. with the future of establishment government hanging in the balance…and meanwhile Chaos continued to grow its currents in the underground, sometimes mixing with the ceremonial rituals of Thelema, and sometimes inspiring the growing neopagan movement.
This took many forms, and was ridiculed by most of the Thelemite magicians…it had been founded by a disgruntled magician of the O.T.O. in the mid-1950s, who had simply repackaged Crowley’s ideas into another form and sold them to unsuspecting seekers, with sadomasochism and sexual liberty at no extra charge. Similarly (but not under the dreaded neopagan banner), beginning in the 1950s and 60s, Jack Parsons’ student L. Ron Hubbard had marketed Thelemite ideas mixed with science fiction and a healthy dose of misinterpretation of the events that had been caused by the War Engine in the late 1940s, turning the Holy Law into a cult of the worst kind, a commercial charnelhouse called Scientology that owed more to the Typhonian ideas of today and B-movies current to the late-1950s era that had spawned both Scientology and Gardner’s cult Wicca than any Gnosis. And the less said about LaVey and his “Church of Satan”, the better. Truly, the post-War era was a paradise for any fool with the money to make his ideas heard…
And underground, things were no better. The IOT had been torn apart by a series of ideological and magical conflicts with the Blue Queen of Wonderland, who ruled a frozen wasteland known for its large population of Jabberwocks. These “Ice Wars” had claimed the lives of many young mages, while Frater U.D. – the man whose bumbling attempts to steal the Blue Queen’s secrets had begun the wars – remained unscathed. It really was unfair, claimed people like Carroll and other leading lights. Phil Hine was forced underground due to his neutrality – out somewhere between Thelema and the IOT, unaffiliated with the Ice Wars on either side, he had been caught in many crossfires and ended up abandoning chaos entirely for Buddhist practice. Ray Sherwin was forgotten…Alan Moore and Grant Morrison were two of the top mages in the scene (an entirely accurate term, unfortunately) of the day, comics authors and innovators who conquered minds through art.
Joel Birocco was gaining ground, having returned to Wonderland after the Ice Wars in pursuit of the truth, a new continuation of Thelema known as the 156 current that acknowledged Babalon and Chaos (spelled Khaos in his work due to the Hebrew letter values of the altered spelling making 156, as did the word Babalon) as the true forces behind the Crowleyite 93 current. The male and female duality of the Gnostic Mass…dark, sexual energies…it was all familiar and yet rock star edgy at the same time. It was winning adherents right and left…yet it was the figure of Babalon, the all-conquering, all-loving Whore at the End of The Quest and who she resembled in the Lands Below that was the most dangerous part of the whole idea…
* * * * *
HadNu Towers, Thelemic Central District, New York City
The crowd milled about, preparing for their daily shifts. Brokers, businessmen, janitors, call girls, even a few taxicab drivers…this was New York at its most vital, the way it had always appeared in fiction throughout time. In the center of the square there was a large globe of golden-white light, supported by black iron struts…above the square, between the HadNu Towers at about 666 feet up hung an infinitely black canopy made of strong cloth, with holes punched through it at strategic points. It would always be Night underneath the canopy…and the Stars would shine upon the infinite throng of people. A joint monument to the primary dual godforms of Thelema, Hadit and Nuit, this would remind them of their potential and their infinite glory as Kings, reasoned the designers of the tower. And so they would serve the glory of Man, carrying out their Wills and making all the trains run on time…
Jim Conley, former O.T.O. 3°, walked towards the entrance to the Hadit Tower, the one embodying the male, active pursuits out of the businesses that rented space in the HadNu complex. The Nuit tower, to his right about three hundred yards, embodied the female side of business. It was an arbitrary divide, in some cases, but in this reality it was not considered sexist at all. It was understood as esoteric, founded on Qabalistic theory going back to Neo-Platonist Greece…the weapons designers and athletic management, etc., went in the Hadit Tower, and the education, natural reserves, aerospace ventures, and so on were located in the Nuit Tower. It was the nerve center of the business world of New York – the media was located in its traditional areas…Madison Avenue and so on. Jim was fine with this…he’d been born in the late 50s, and Crowley’s legacy was all he’d ever known. He worked as a magical systems theorist on Floor 37 of good ol’ Hadit…that was part of why he wasn’t 4° O.T.O. or above. There was money in this, and he had a 13-year-old daughter to feed at home, not to mention a 4-year-old son…Robin and Jay were his world. But so was chaos magic…an unacceptable pursuit for high-degree O.T.O. members. The way he saw it, he could provide a legacy for his kids this way, in more ways than just money.
They would have magical knowledge outside the lines…things the tired, dead dinosaur the O.T.O. had been becoming since before Rob was born couldn’t fathom, much less use regularly. They’d be raised without dogma, without fear…without the iron presence of The Demon Crowley that even publicly sanctioned copies of the old codger’s book Magick in Theory and Practice warned against. He’d warned his own students…and they hadn’t listened! But Jim had…and he’d be damned if his own kids grew up toeing the dogma line and poor, too. The orders couldn’t provide a living unless you went into the priesthood full-time. They claimed it was a logistics issue, but Jim wasn’t buying it. This was the world government claiming that, after all…if they told the people on the streets around him that they could provide the means to achieve their Wills there would be a revolt!
But it was all gravy. He was doing some neat research on retroactive enchantments and shadow time today…shooting sigils back in time to affect reality as much as three months ago. And he was doing it with strobelights, lasers and a heavy metal soundtrack to charge the sigil…oh, and did he mention he was getting paid for it? It was normally a piece of cake to condense an intent into a small pictogram or sequence of notes, or even a story…and then charge it through either mentally active or meditative states of consciousness while gazing at the pictogram, or listening to the melody…firing the sigil. But doing it for money, at the edge of reality? Even easier! He approached the Hadit Tower, gripping the briefcase full of pens, a pocket PDF reader, and scratch paper notes on subjects from alchemy to Zos, most of which he had done outside of standard work assignments…this Monday was going to be amazing. Just like every other Monday since he’d joined here. Jim smiled widely, stepping through the revolving door and nodding to the Ouroboros figure painted around the glass chamber the door revolved in.
The elevator ride was peaceful…ritual ambient music from the likes of Zero Kama played instead of dreadful Muzak, settling his mind into a tenuously charged peace, like a cobra about to strike. He visualized a few runes…Sowilo for victory, Fehu for charging, Ansuz for new ideas….then the Doomchain Linker from the old Marauders album covers just to make things interesting. It was meant to make reality less mundane…the intensity of his meditative state was not strong enough to cause any real change, and this was more of a warm-up routine…but reality was about to become far less mundane indeed.
The office door opened with a click, and he passed under the motto “Where we’re going, we don’t need roads!” and into the heart of Banzai Research and Technology Laboratories, a subsidiary of Yoyodyne Hermetic Industries, itself affiliated with the Adams Trust. Time to put his Tennant grants to work being a crazy sonuvabitch who had an office job to sanction his craziness. He pulled out a sigil pad and started doodling, listening to VNV Nation, Assemblage 23, Front 242, Die Krupps and a little New Order (just to shake things up) as he theorized and plotted the best intent for testing his ideas on retcon, as he fondly referred to retroactive magical operations.
New York Airspace, Thelemic Central District, New York City
Slithering. Whiffling. Burbling. Manxome. Blood-red. Mad. Beyond control. These were words which described the Jabberwock eminently well…it had managed to avoid detection by the Thelemic Air Force so far, even their advanced jets using War Engine tech…it was thirsting for blood more and more with each mile it covered towards its goal. But the thirst for blood was matched by a hunger for destruction, for flames engulfing its target and creaking steel, the sounds of explosions and the screams of terrified humans. Heh…humans. Nothing more than popcorn shrimp, if that. The real target was the ley line node directly under the Hadit globe in the Thelemic Central District square…it had been authorized to feed by its dread master, the Red Queen. And feed it would…once the HadNu Towers had been reduced to quivering dust.
The Jabberwock soared downward, using its innate magical talents to mask itself from view…it was not three hundred feet from the Hadit Tower, where Jim Conley had been standing six minutes earlier. It breathed in a giant whiffling gulp of air, smelling the civilians below…some of them were picking up on its presence. The beast’s supernatural hearing detected talk of a strange presence…it could psychically see the more superstitious among them drawing a banishing pentagram and whispering “Bahlasti! Ohmpeda!” – a phrase said to drive out enemies of the Law, taken from the Book of the Law itself. But that kind of thing couldn’t scare away most beings, much less a Jabberwock…Jabberwocks were physical beings. Banish all you like – it could be said that the Jabberwock had no spirit to drive away. Its glass heart had been stomped into sand Aeons ago, by the Red Queen…
This made the Jabberwock laugh, with a sort of snuffling chuckle that seemed unusual for the embodiment of chaotic evil. The poor woman truly thought she was Babalon…truly thought she was the incarnation of a magical being from Above, and she was using the pitiful human 156 current to justify her domination over other living beings in sheer defiance of everything Wonderland stood for. Even a primal snake whose jaws were snatching death and whose claws were catching, crippling fear of the hunter, whose breath was fire and whose blood was acid, whose mind was the rape of the innocent by the forces of the cthonic chaos current could understand this. There was so little sanity to her actions it was astounding – freedom fighting was one thing, but sowing of discord and desire for thrones was another.
Why, then, did he serve? Simple. Because he was hungry.
HadNu Towers, Thelemic Central District, New York City
The Jabberwock closed the remaining three hundred feet, then quickly removed its visibility cloak, clearing the area below it with a breath of fire from its voluminous lungs, like the bellows of Hell pumping fire into the Forge of Doom. Human beings screamed and writhed, flesh bubbling and melting as the attack began. They were powerless to stop this being, and none of them were on its primary target list anyway. They could only watch…watch as the Wyrm from Below sundered the Hadit Tower’s television antennae in a matter of seconds. Looking up, they could see as it laughed at them, a gleam in its eye. The symbolism was not lost on the beings in the crowd, at least those whose minds remained intact. Pain from a Jabberwock attack does interesting things to its victims…
A massive tail-whip smashed windows in the Nuit Tower, opening the 31st floor to the warm spring air. A claw reached inside and ripped the building in half, raping the womb of Night in a symbolic Mass Unto Madness…
Jim Conley heard the ruckus and stood watching, mouth agape. There was nothing he could do….if that thing was anything like a typical dragon, it would be about useless to even try to run. He pressed some buttons on his computer, loading up Assemblage 23’s song “30,000 Feet” on Windows Media Player, and sitting in quiet meditation…thinking of a man whose last moments were taken up by a phone call to his wife and kids about the imminent crash of his plane. But he wasn’t going to harm Maria, Robin and Jay…they would live on without him.
On Floor 93 of the Hadit building, Todd Beamer was roused from a quiet nap in a waiting room by the chaos. He was an adventurous man, and happened to be carrying a gun as part of his work in the O.T.O. Special Forces…it was emblazoned with martial symbols and even a few Thurisaz runes, its bullets were silvered and blessed by priests of the Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica, Thelema’s holiest church. They had their ways…they’d made his gun something special. And he had a chance. Dialing a number on his cell phone, Todd Beamer smiled. “Honey? Yeah…the HadNu’s been attacked by a dragon of some kind. Yes I’m serious…no I don’t know why. I’m going to try to take it out…I love you, girl.”
He visualized the form of his Holy Guardian Angel, before and about him….the angel of his Will, present in this very moment as his life’s thread was cut and sewn into the armor he’d always meant it to be. “Let’s roll,” he whispered hoarsely under his breath. Then he picked up a fire extinguisher and smashed the large window behind him…as human cattle ran for the exits and the building shook underneath him, he screamed in rage and took aim at the beast’s eye. Unloading his clip as fast as he could while still keeping his aim true, he vibrated the name of Ra-Hoor-Khuit, Thelemic god of war…speaking it loudly from his diaphragm in much the same way as a professional singer would create their final opus. The time was now!
Roaring, the Jabberwock clutched at its burning, bleeding eye…then let loose a column of fire towards Todd, purifying the last of his body in an alchemical explosion. His True Will accomplished, the man who might have been the last hero of the Aeon of Horus passed into the embrace of Babalon.
83 Dee Street, Staten Island, New York
Robin Conley rolled out of bed, once again cursing this dumb neighborhood they’d been forced to live in…she much preferred the West or the Midwest. New York was full of jerks and stupid people…but she was twelve, and her Will was to go where her parents did. The sun was bright, and the day was cool…it might not be such a bad day to walk to school after all. But there was a curious vibe in the air…one of danger, and fear. Her Mom was gone, off to gods know where leaving her to take care of cute yet annoying little Jay…dumb three-year-olds. She hated them. Well, all except Jay. Sometimes he was pretty smart…he’d gotten the same genes she’d gotten from her parents…
Robin wondered if he’d gotten the same vibes she’d got as soon as she woke up. Time to stop doting on her dumb, smelly three-year-old brother and find out what was going on…she picked up the cordless and tried her Mom’s cell. Nope…no luck. Dad would be busy shooting sigils back in time…couldn’t bother him. So she simply turned on the TV – the news might explain it, as she couldn’t smell a gas leak or smoke or anything immediate…
“Oh my god.” The HadNu Towers were burning! The announcer spoke of a dangerous snake-like beast, about sixty feet in length, that had attacked Thelemic Central and taken hundreds of people with it…residents were advised to “Beware the Jabberwock!” Robin watched, bursting into tears…her life was unraveling as her daddy died…
Jay stumbled out of his room sleepily, clutching a blanket. “Wha’s wrong, Robbie?” Robin turned off the TV quickly and grabbed Jay into a massive hug.
“I’ll tell you later, kiddo…just keep me company for now, okay?”
HadNu Towers, Thelemic Central District, New York City
Jim Conley was roused from his meditative trance as the towers shook and groaned, as glass shattered like so many lives underneath his feet. His office was miraculously untouched…he had a chance to escape, maybe. But he wasn’t dumb. He knew the tower would give way soon enough…then he’d be dead. But it was time to be an expert at retroactive enchantment…time to take fear gnosis and the greatest work he’d ever done and make his life count for something more than feeding the kids. Science was only useful if you were still alive, after all…and he could achieve immortality in his work, if not through escaping death entirely. Scribbling a sigil on a Post-It note, he quickly added the Doomchain Linker and a glyph that stood for his daughter…for Robin. Then he stood, selected “Document” by Assemblage 23, and hit play, gazing at the sigil.
To leave a scar
To raise a voice from within the dark
Existence falls apart
So I must leave my mark
This is a document
To prove that I was here
This is a document
To prove I was at all
And when my voice ceases to be
Will the echo still ring loudly?
And when there’s nothing left of me
Will my memory still go on?
Around him, hell began to burn and the screams of steel and flesh lit his mind and heart on fire…but he would hold on as long as he could. He would truly gain death gnosis and complete his work…a lot of Wills were reaching their final act today. The violent, sick roars of the Jabberwock outside gave him the strength to stay at his post…he couldn’t let that thing hurt his kids. Wherever Maria was…she could take care of herself. Jim chuckled, lip curling into a quizzical yet angry expression as the Jabberwock appeared outside his window…
Man and beast gazed into each other’s eyes. The Mage observed Choronzon, silently smiling…and then a wall of flame. The last thing he saw was the sigil…then he was ash in a vessel, blood in Babalon’s cup. He was home…and Robin Conley had the tools to bring about some feats of magic no one had ever imagined outside of the office at Banzai Labs, now making its final death charge towards the Jabberwock at high speed. Collapsing steel smashed into the head of the Wyrm…a computer fell from the sky and smashed with a resounding report on the pavement 37 floors below, a life’s last song dying in an instant…then the flames. The Jabberwock was burning, falling…finally dead, supported by the canopy of Nuit.
The fighter jets were just beginning to arrive.
83 Dee Street, Staten Island, New York
Robin looked up from cuddling Jay, drying her tears as she saw something she hadn’t noticed before, resting on top of the TV…her Dad’s briefcase. Stuffed full of all his cool papers, too…but it hadn’t been there eleven minutes ago! She grinned. “You know, Jay…our daddy’s the best magician ever.” Then Robin hugged her baby brother one more time, knowing that she had a bunch of awesome adventures to get started on…
“He’s better than mama?” Jay’s eyes were wide.
Robin nodded. “Right now he is. He’s all the way with Babalon, I think…”
Jay nodded solemnly in his usual way. He’d been around the block a few times, and read more than three-year-olds were expected to. He knew what that meant. “I hope he’s happy…”
Robin shook her head. “No, Jay. He’s in infinite joy, because he did what he’s supposed to and now he’s just a part of the whole universe…part of you and me. And you and I have to use that part to create some wonderful adventures and maybe save the world someday…or maybe I’m running away with myself. But in any case we shouldn’t cry for him anymore…we should celebrate how cool our Daddy was – and is, even now.”
The consciousness of the continuity of existence, and the omnipresence of my body… Robin wondered if that felt like the awesomest hug ever, or even more…
Jay nodded. “I gotcha. So how about breakfast? Dad makes otsome eggs.”
Robin chuckled. “You got it, little bro. And bacon!”
And so the New Aeon drew to a symbolic close, the heart of the Holy Thelemic Kingdom of Man gutted in a heartbeat. Not the political heart, or even the economic nerve center…such things yet lived, even beyond destruction of the most hallowed edifices. But the strength of the people had been gutted like a fish…the paradigm of all but the wildest imagineers shattered. For there were dragons, alien to this world…and none amongst the establishment’s greatest minds could say what they were, who had sent them, or where they had come from…and all of the world suspected another attack. Fear was the word of the Aeon…
And over the next eleven years, chaos continued to creep upon the embankments of Law. There would be no escape…but two heroes would rise, at the eve of another fear-driven millennial panic. Both sides would fight to control their power…but only their True Wills could determine the victor. Other stories would intertwine with theirs…all over the world, and both remembrances of things lost to Magical Memory and things yet hidden in the Arcana. Epic tales were about to be told…
For this was The Aeonic Edge!