Monday, 10 January 2011

The Occult Peter Parker Of Holborn

One of the more impenetrable mysteries of Kenneth Grant's mythos is Auguste Busche's Emporium. The place crops up in Hecate's Fountain. It appears that the young Kenneth visited this shop just prior World War II to buy some occult nick nacks, but inadvertently walked off with a statue of the devil. Mundane distractions inexplicably prevented him from returning the object until 1958! However on visiting the emporium, a mere 20 years later, Grant was surprised to find the place closed down with a "To Let" sign up. At the time of his appropriation of the statue Grant states he was living in Fetter Lane, Holborn. Auguste Busche's Emporium was on Chancery Lane (just around the corner).  
On our recent walk through Holborn, Mark pointed out the building on Chancery Lane that Crowley shared with Allan Bennett. There's a great description of the pad on Lashtal, courtesy of the Daily Mail!
"The visitor passed from the cold stone dusk of the stairs to a palace of rose and gold that has long since vanished. Gold-black Japanese wallpaper covered the rooms and the place was lit like a brothel by an ancient silver lamp with a red bulb. The floor was covered with leopard skins and on the wall there was a huge crucifix in ivory and ebony.

There were two temples, one to good, the other to evil. In Crowley's 'Black Temple', actually more of a cupboard, a blood-stained skeleton sat before an evil altar, made of a round table supported by the figure of an ebony negro standing on his hands.

On the altar a sickening perfume smouldered in a container and one visitor claimed the stench of previous blood sacrifices filled the air."

frame 1: The Busche Emporium, frame 2: Fetter Lane, frame 3: Printer's Devil Pub, Fetter Lane

Could it be that Auguste Busche's emporium is a magical rendering of Crowley's flat and that Auguste Busche is a qabalistic cipher (A.B being the initials of Allan Bennett). It maybe a playful poke at Crowley himself, who chided Grant for his use of "mock qabalah". Grant claims his "mock qabalah" is perfectly legitimate and derives from something called "Theosophical Qabalah".
In Remembering Aleister Crowley, Grant defends himself,
"My 'mock' qabalah is perfectly legitimate.  It is known in some circles as the 'theosophical' qabalah, the word theosophical being used in its etymological sense and having no connection with the Society of that name.  Ouspensky alludes to the Theosophical Qabalah in connection with the 17th century mystic, Gichtel, author of the Theosophia Practica.  The system has been widely used ever since."

Funnily enough, we also found a pub called "The Printer's Devil" on Fetter Lane, a paranoiac double of Grant's stolen statue?

In the final tome of the typhonian trilogies, Ninth Arch, Grant obsesses about Busche, but also makes an allusion to the Holborn Viaduct referring to,
"a spectacle that arrested his [Frater Aossic - i.e: Grant!]  attention whilst passing along High Holborn. In deep shadow, the thread of a spider's web underwent a sudden magnification and presented a solid seeming cable whereby one could swing from the (Holborn) viaduct on to staircase. This he did, and found himself strolling down chancery lane in brilliant sunshine."

One has a vision of a young, sensitive Kenneth Grant, undergoing some kind of arachnidal transformation, an occult Peter Parker, swinging through the smokin', jazz infused streets of 50's London.

What's also interesting is that Austin Spare was born near Holborn Viaduct and attended the church school of St. Sepulchre Without Newgate. The church stands on the junction of The Old Bailey and The Viaduct Pub. There is a legend that The Black Dog of Newgate haunts this area and used to appear before executions. According to the legend the black dog began haunting Newgate after a scholar tried for sorcery was eaten by fellow inmates, before he could be executed.

Frame 1: Holborn Viaduct, Frame 2: The Staircase of the Viaduct; Frame 3: St. Sepulchre Without Newgate Frame 4: The Viaduct pub
What's also clear from Ninth Arch (see page 306), is that the Busche Emporium is one of the nine hotspots in Grant's often bewildering magical world. To summarise they are:

1] Dongola, in the Sudan associated with the Children Of Isis
2] Kabultiloa in South Africa associated with the Cult Of The Spectral Hyaena
3] Ku in the Chinese Province of Honan
4] Leng on The Sino-Tibetan border
5] R'lyeh associated with the Cult of Cthulhu
6]Limehouse, the abode of Sin Sin Wa Wa
7]Chancery Lane associated with The Busche Emporium
8] Bond Street, the abode of Kazmah
9] Candleston in South Wales associated with The Cult of Qrixkuor.

I think the time is ripe to pick apart these various psychogeographies, to draw a map of the delirious other world of Kenneth Grant, we could find ourselves exploring a Trouille like dream terrain of confabulation and the hyper-realised mundane.

The Art of Clovis Trouille, what the inside of Grant's magickal lodge might look like?

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