As serendipity would have it, I took a copy of Kenneth Grant's Convolvulus up to Yorkshire this weekend past. The wonderful Hannah Gilbert and I were intending to head over to Rievaulx for a bit of Gothic photography, but it got a bit late on the Sunday, so we started scouting around for a nearer location, when I stumbled across mention of the hyaena caves at Kirkdale. A few months ago, I had chanced upon an exhibit in the Pitt Rivers museum in Oxford chronicling the discovery of the same pre-deluge hyaena den by William Buckland in 1821.
Grant's poetry is a revelation, imbued with a strange incantatory meter, these are as grimoire rhythmed as his Typhonian trilogies and condense in verse many of his recurrent obsessions; a case in point being the sorceries of the Kabultiloa - from which he renders the poem "Hyaena". The Kabultiloa surface in Grant's tour of the tunnels of set as the playground of Zamradiel, the qliphothic guardian on reflex of the path of the lovers; a cannibal tunnel of love, inhabited by a menses devouring, shape shifting, bilocating scavenger, the magical hyaena. Grant references the work of Gerald Massey who in his tome, The Natural Genesis, discusses a town, the inhabitants of which have mastered the practice of lycanthropy:
In the Kanuri language of Bornu (Africa), the name of the hyena is Bultu, and from this is formed the verb bultungin, which sigmifies “I transform myself into a hyena.” There is a town named Kabultiloa, the inhabitants of which are said to possess this faculty of transformation. These doubtless originated in the hyena Totem, and the donning of the hyena skin in their religious masquerade.
The donning of hyaena skin is interesting when one considers The Lovers trump in the Crowley-Harris Thoth deck. The king and queen appear to be wearing collars made from the fur of hyaenas. A hint to the reflex of Zamradiel and the baser carnal mysteries of Grant's Nightside of Eden.
In medieval bestiaries, the hyaena is depicted scavenging tombs, dragging a corpse from its from its coffin. Allegorically, the animal represents two-faced people.
St Antony of Padua [12th-13th century CE] (Sermons): Hypocrites are compared to hyenas. Note that a hypocrite concealing himself under a sheep's skin is like the hyena, of which many wonderful things are related. It is a small animal; it dwells in the country; it digs up graves by night, and devours the corpses. It is fond of going where it can hear the voices of men; it haunts the folds of shepherds, and by listening attentively, learns to imitate the human voice, so that it can call a man at night, and devour him. It also imitates human groanings; and alluring them by its false sighs, devours the dogs, who, when they are hunting it, if they come within its shadow, lose their voice, and cannot bark. There is an extraordinary variety and change of colour in the eyes of the hyaena. ... It has no gums, and only one tooth, and that small; which, to the end it may not grow blunt, is naturally closed, after the manner of a chest. Whatever animal the hyaena goes thrice round, cannot move itself. Of this the Lord speaks in the 12th chapter of Jeremiah, in another translation: Mine heritage is unto Me like the den of a hyena. Thus the hypocrite is a being who lives in a brutal fashion; little, on account of his deceit; rustic, through the deformity of his deeds; and digging into sepulchers in the night of dissimulation. For he creeps, as the Apostle saith, into houses, and by seducing words allures the innocent.
Moreover, it appears that Leonora Carrington, pucelle of the Surrealist movement, was also privy to hyaena's habitat in the the deserts of carnality. Her painting (also titled) The Lovers depicts ritual activity, in some nocturnal Bedouin encampment. Cowled votives attend to the conjugal bed of the king and queen, the ceremony intruded by a crippled hyaena.
Explicitly, Carrington made it known that the hyaena was her creative familiar, like Ernst's loplop, an astral pet from childhood, first encountered on a trip to Blackpool zoo. She states,
'Hyaena's particularly attracted me in the zoo... their great virtue is that they eat garbage'
'Iam like a Hyaena, I get into garbage cans. I have an insatiable curiousity.'
In her signature painting Self Portrait (Inn of the dawn horse), a hyaena sniffs near the riding jodhpurs of the debutante Carrington, its teats swollen and lactating, suggesting taboo bodily functions. Carrington herself affirms 'In everybody, there is an inner bestiary'.... But more than a dweller on the threshold of womanhood, the hyaena is the anthropomorphism of Carrington's creative rebellion against her societal destiny.
The caves at Kirdale, the venue for a pre-deluge hyaena den reside like some kind of blasphemy, next to the minster of St. Gregory, an 11th Century Anglo-Saxon church with a sprawling graveyard furnished by gnarly trees. The porch contains some curious stones carved with Masonic runes.
Interestingly one of the dedicatees of Kenneth Grant's Convolvulus is "Gregory". With this neat toponymic link, it seemed appropriate to recite Grant's poem, in the porch, it being too dark to venture to the caves. Further explorations to the cave will be made in the coming weeks, but I close this heretical session of night-thoughts with reading by the late Dr. Alain Champagne's of Grant's "Hyaena"...
The Kirdale Hyaena Cult from English Heretic on Vimeo.