When the stars are right , Cthulhu speaks its Name, which is also its Call, and we who have made of our minds suburbs of the great city of R’lyeh hear it. We hear it, snaking through the twisted streets and warped alleyways we have carved in our own heads. The Name moves like sentient smoke through a consciousness made R’lyehian. We hear it, and breathe it in, and allow it to enter us in unfathomable ways, and we know (44).
I recently had the good fortune to read the most recent book by Scott R. Jones, When the Stars Are Right. If you are a Lovecraft fan in search of spiritual guidance, this book is most definitely for you. Jones has deftly interwoven an academic quality of Lovecraftian knowledge with philosophical and spiritual interpretation, and added a dashes of wry humor throughout that will bring forth nods of approval from the true R’lyehian. However, there is more to this book than first meets the eye, and one need not necessarily be fully committed to the R’lyehian faith in order to find value here.
So, what is this book about? Well, it’s NOT a biography of Lovecraft or a dry academic study of his world or writing. Instead, Jones has taken the time to actually consider the different Great Old Ones in their pantheon and determine their position and influence upon the spiritual nature of our lives. While you may think, at first glance, that this book is a parody of similar types of spiritual books for other more mainstream religions, this book has some seriously good discussion of the unknowable nature of what came before, what will come after, and the important parts in between. The book is constructed of a series of meditations on different aspects of a R’lyehian religion. This book is full of thought provoking passages, and I found myself continually taking notes and underlining. For example, on the search for understanding the Great Old Ones:
The R’lyehian breaks down the pathetic wall (because, like all walls, it demands to be broken down) and launches herself upon those black seas to sail or swim or sink as the tides decide, for the Great Old Ones are to be experienced, felt as living realities, embraced, merged with. We cannot know them as they know themselves, but we must try nevertheless (22).
on the hunger that creates Time:
Not for nothing is Shub-Niggurath portrayed in much of the Mythos-related fiction as a deity of vast appetite, for she is the embodiment of the First Rule of the Universe: Everybody Hungry. This hunger manifests in various ways: for food, territory, information, experience. All these things must be consumed, in whole or in part, and all to feed the First Hunger itself: the hunger for Time, or the Future, a hunger that can only be sated through sex and procreation (33).
on the qualities of Cthulhu that are significant and advantageous, such as dreaming, waiting, and – the one I found most interesting – sorcerous consciousness:
The R’lyehian is non-Euclidean in her adaptability: of persona, of action. There one moment, as a creative, compassionate, or ambivalent member of human society, and gone the next, donning and exo-personality that allows for slipping off between dimensions, performing incomprehensible feats … Multiple personality disorder not as a disease (or even disorder, for that matter) but as a lifestyle choice, as fashion statement, as a suite of tools and skins for navigating strange angles (52-53).
Jones covers a variety of aspects related to spiritual belief, including practice, artistic renderings, sex, death, and beyond. Throughout it all, there is an engaging balance of serious examination and entertaining aside, an explanation of the spiritual thought that helps you think through your beliefs and actions and answer the question, “Are you keeping it R’lyeh?”
I absolutely loved this book! If you are looking for a way to start off the new year right, you should definitely check it out. It will help you ramp up your spiritual practice and prepare yourself for that day, when the stars align, and when the Great Old Ones return for our glorious destruction … or, you know, just help you be more thoughtful about your life on a daily basis.