Monday 4 January 2016

Houses On The Borderland - Last Broadcast At Boleskine

In the conclusion for "Anti-Heroes", I noted, with respect to one of the celebrants, actor George Sanders, "… the archetypes continue to conflate, to line up on the platform to Tartarus. The Black Plaque candidates are like Russian dolls, one inside another. George Sanders leads to the even bigger cad Dennis Lorraine, serial womaniser and fraudster who fathered at least fifteen children and managed to dupe politicians and celebrities, including Sanders, into investing in his rogue sausage company. Part of the reason Sanders managed to evade prison was that the list of investors went from Charlie Chaplin and Jane Mansfield all the way to the future Prime Minister Ted Heath. If there is a Da Vinci type illuminati controlling the world then it's likely to involve something as ludicrous as a sausage company. Cosmic absurdity is the great weapon to dismantle our own Phil Dickian megalomanias"

The problem is that bathetic remark has come back to haunt me over the last month and I am more convinced than I would like to be that the word of the aeon is porcine.

At the end of November I took a much needed holiday and headed up to Banchory in Aberdeenshire for a friend's wedding. The hotel and its surroundings were pure The Beast Must Die territory. From Banchory we drove across to Loch Ness. If we were visiting the higher regions of Scotland then Crowley's Boleskine House would have to a site of pilgrimage and a place to execute some heuristic field recordings. Having booked in at the Loch Ness Inn, I was pleasantly surprised to find our room number - 11. Magick with a K, the augurs were with us. However, the sense of comforting serendipity began to warp into something more unsettling.

I was preparing for a talk at this year's Exploring The Extraordinary conference which was to discuss volcanic consciousness, UFOlogy and outre occultism, and going through the presentation realised that our intended visit to Boleskine House coincided with the date of Crowley's death - 1st December. This was not a consciously advised trip, but perhaps the subconscious has a greater calendrical awareness than we ascribe to it. I must have read that date many times. And here's where psychology reverses itself; it seemed odder that I didn't make the connection between the date of our visit. It's as if some kind of psychic fugue rendered me blind to the obvious.

In our room we decided to trawl through the various Boleskine documentaries online, and from the warm qabalistic assertion of our magickally propitious door number to the slightly confounding date with Crowley's death, I found an even more disconcerting loop with my Black Plaque researches.
Browsing these documentaries, I discovered, incredibly, that the house had subsequently been bought by Dennis Lorraine, the serial fraudster who had duped George Sanders. Indeed Boleskine House was at the centre of the sausage scandal that rocked the 60s. One of Lorraine's sons, Clive Kristen has recently published a biography of his fraudster father, the wonderfully titled "Fucking On Fridays, My Old Man and the great sausage scam". It provides some insight into Boleskine House, its myths and its ominous spectre over Loch Ness, the locals and the houses' inhabitants. What struck me in particular, reading Kristen's account of family life at Boleskine House, is the curious interdimensionality of the place - it is a house on the borderland to borrow from William Hope Hodgson's surreal horror.

Dennis Lorraine
Dennis Lorraine bought Boleskine House for his estranged wife Molly in 1962. On the 29th November that year he set up a company Loch Ness Foods. Boleskine was to be the prototype for their pig rearing operation. The house had actually been chosen by Molly by a weird whim. She had seen a portrait in an Inverness art gallery of woman named Mary Lorraine who bore a resemblance to herself. Mary Lorraine had been a former occupant of Boleskine House and her husband had blown his brains out in the gun room. Perhaps Molly was aware that Boleskine was trapped in some Sapphire and Steel loop and that her role was to fulfil its curious animistic desires. She was also aware and excited by its occult connection with Crowley. According to Kristen's biography, Molly set up "a specially made circular bed with tailor-made black sheets" at the centre of the former location of Crowley's oratory room in the south-west section of the house. She also conceived and bore her last child in the bed.

Both Molly Lorraine and her new partner descended into alcoholism during their tenancy of Boleskine, the pilot scheme for the pig rearing operation proved unviable, the building fell into disrepair, and the animals starved in the fields adjoining the house. The next owner, a retired army officer, blew his brains out in Crowley's temple. Boleskine is not just a House On The Borderland, it's Polanski's vampiric and paranoid apartment in The Tenant - it forces recidivist impulses. Colin Wilson has suggested the prevalence of Loch Ness monster sightings post Crowley's Abramelin Working might be as a result of the magician trafficking with preternatural entities. In the whacked out world of remote viewing recent channelers have come up with a unique theory - the Loch Ness monster is the ghost of a dinosaur. But I would suggest that Crowley's tenancy was another recidivist impulse of the house itself.

There's a juicy psychogeographic memorat concerning a tunnel that supposedly connects the house to Boleskine graveyard. The graveyard sits immediately below Crowley's former abode and whilst a connecting tunnel seems feasible it is also a trope of the haunted house myth. That said Kristen's account of life at Boleskine hints at the possible veracity of this tunnel. Two of Molly's children, Richard and Laurence, discovered a some kind of secret passage leading from the cellar and partially collapsed. Kristen also claims that one of the boys, Laurence, developed a lifelong 'apostolic' devotion to Crowley, became addicted to heroin and followed the hedonistic philosophy set out in Liber Legis. Like Trelkovsky in The Tenant, Laurence assumes the Godform of the place's previous occupant.

The current owners of Boleskine House with justification post warnings that trespassers will be prosecuted. Aware of their desire for privacy, and intrigued by the possibility of this connecting tunnel, I decided to perform the recording session in the graveyard. It was sodden afternoon, the rain liberating in some way, smudging the camera lens and providing some interesting micro-rhythms I as wandered among the tombs. There is a mortuary house at the bottom of the graveyard next to a great fungus infested tree stump. Someone had propped stones against the wall of the building allowing me to lean into the interior top floor of the hut. I was able to record some vocalisations using the death space as an echo chamber. There is a sign at the entrance to the graveyard -  "Please Close Gate". As I often do, I recorded the creaking of their iron hinges. A form of natural EVP, when time stretched the sound of sepulchral gates provide an effective tocsin from the underworld.

Following the session, we drove up through Farigaig Forest, with its giant moss stones, like the set of yet to be filmed documentary on the flora of Lovecraft's dreams. It struck me then that activities in the burial ground were a gate opening exercise to the future terrains of post-Crowleyean researchers.
Lovecraft's interdimensional imagination owes so much to William Hope Hodgson's, The House On The Borderland - the uncanny house as architectural seal to cosmic horror. In Hodgson's utterly claustrophobic and psychotic horror, the strangest inhabitants of the nightmare are the humanoid swine creatures, that pursue the reclusive owner of the house across space and time. As the main protagonist searches for the source of ingress of the creatures he discovers a tunnel leading to a great chasm. The pigs come from the most outre pit of the fantastic. The image of the sight of dead pigs in the fields of Boleskine following Sanders and Lorraine's disastrous business venture echoes the visions of Hodgson's book. Like the lichen infested backwaters of Boleskine, the hero in The House on The Borderland succumbs to a voracious and luminous fungal disease.

Crowley's chose Boleskine House for its compliance with the ritual rubric laid out in The Book of the Sacred Magic Of Abramelin the Mage. Part of the protocol stipulated that the terrace area be covered in fine river sand, to capture the footprints of encroaching demons - forensic occultism of the medieval kind. But as I dig deeper into the circular history of Boleskine, I am more inclined to believe the house chose Crowley. On the 22nd December a few weeks after our visit Boleskine House was largely destroyed by a fire, but it's not the first time this has happened. According to local legend, and one promulgated by Jimmy Page, the house may have built on the site of a former church that burned down killing the entire congregation. Presumably the adjoining burial ground is part of the original constellation of the legendary church. It would seem the fate of Boleskine House is a circular myth, like the double house of William Hope Hodgson, now a literal ruin of a fabled ruin. The fire at the old church seems like rural legend, but it does at least prophesy Boleskine's recent demise. Perhaps the congregation trapped in the the church are the demons leftover by Crowley's abandoned working centuries later.

What's also interesting is the influence Hodgson's tale seems to have had on another modern paranormal tale, The Amityville Horror. In that book, the Lutze's daughter Missy develops an imaginary friend, a demonic pig-like creature with glowing eyes, hoofprints of an enormous pig appear on the snow outside. If Amityville and Hodgson's house in Ireland share the same cosmic estate agent, then together with Boleskine there's clearly a powerful consortium directing events at these locations. Jay Anson allegedly took the title The Amityville Horror from Lovecraft's The Dunwich Horror, though arguably it would seem he's excavating the influence of Hodgson for some of his building specifications. George, In The Amityville Horror, like Trevolsky in The Tenant begins to mimic the behaviour patterns of the previous occupant. Where Trevolsky inexplicably starts smoking Malboro reds in the café frequented by the Egyptologist, George hangs out at the Witches Brew, drinking hole of DeFeo, the murderous former owner of the possessed house. What we're talking about here is the ultimate nightmare of the mortgage contract - repossession. All the houses are available at knock down prices for the very good reason that they are owned by the devil.

In the Summer of 1904, following the reception of the Book Of The Law, Crowley remarked that Boleskine suffered an infestation of taxonomically unclassifiable beetles. Their distinguishing morphological feature was a single long 'horn'. They were sent to the Natural History Museum for identification. Similarly, Amityville is plagued by a swarm out of season flies. It would suggest that the provenance of Behelzeebub to these houses on the borderlands, is their local fauna of anomalous insects.

Talking of Cryptozoology, it's finally worth mentioning a mythical creature confined to North East Scotland. It's called the Yird Pig, a dreaded subterranean swine that was believed to live in graveyards, burrowing among the dead bodies and devouring them. Sightings of the creature seem to be exclusively confined to Aberdeenshire and it's suggested that the beast or its myth derives from one particular kirkyard at Walla. Legend has it that the swine's teeth could be heard crunching on coffins by those who pass within earshot of its abode. I can't help but feel that on our journey from Banchory to Loch Ness we picked up the revenant of this occult pig and when I untwine the recordings from Boleskine Burial ground I will discover aural evidence of its hideous practice.

On the mourner's bench at Boleskine there's a plaque with an enigmatic inscription "Finally With Her Ancestors". Boleskine House is now the ruin in the nightmare of William Hope Hodgson, but very much an animistic ruin, a personification of place with a desire to manifest a primal story through the tribulations of its tenants and their atavisms.

The story of the Dennis Lorraine, George Sanders and the great sausage scandal reads like some weird pastiche of the recent allegations against the higher echelons of society. Ted Heath takes centre stage as the pinned political pawn compromised by his business relations with Lorraine. Kristen's memoir even suggests at a possible dalliance between Heath and Jayne Mansfield. Mansfield cursed by Anton La Vey, cover queen of Kenneth Anger's scandalous Hollywood Babylon. I can't help but think If I were scatter fine sand outside English Heretic's holy temple the footprints of the encroaching demons would match those of my Black Plaque recipients.