The Labyrinths of Troy


I remembered that it was on that hill that nurse taught me to play an old game called 'Troy Town,' in which one had to dance, and wind in and out on a pattern in the grass, and then when one had danced and turned long enough the other person asks you questions, and you can't help answering whether you want to or not, and whatever you are told to do you feel you have to do it. Nurse said there used to be a lot of games like that that some people knew of, and there was one by which people could be turned into anything you liked, and an old man her great-grandmother had seen had known a girl who had been turned into a large snake. And there was another very ancient game of dancing and winding and turning, by which you could take a person out of himself and hide him away as long as you liked, and his body went walking about quite empty, without any sense in it.

This is an extract from “The Green Book” – a diary kept by an unnamed young girl – from Welsh author and mystic Arthur Machen’s 1899 Weird Tale “The White People”. The journal itself forms the bulk of Machen’s story, with a framing narrative in which two men begin by discussing the true nature of good and evil, and end in discussing the contents of “The Green Book” and the fate of its adolescent author. “The White People” is one of Machen’s finest, and weirdest, stories and this is largely thanks to the wonderful, eerie voice which he gives to his diarist. She writes so much, yet leaves almost everything to the imagination of the reader. A passage from the very beginning of “The Green Book” reads:

I am going to write here many of the old secrets and some new ones; but there are some I shall not put down at all. I must not write down the real names of the days and months which I found out a year ago, nor the way to make the Aklo letters, or the Chian language, or the great beautiful Circles, nor the Mao Games, nor the chief songs. I may write something about all these things but not the way to do them, for peculiar reasons. And I must not say who the Nymphs are, or the Dôls, or Jeelo, or what voolas mean. All these are most secret secrets, and I am glad when I remember what they are, and how many wonderful languages I know, but there are some things that I call the secrets of the secrets of the secrets that I dare not think of unless I am quite alone, and then I shut my eyes, and put my hands over them and whisper the word, and the Alala comes.

The White People” was a great favourite of American Weird Fiction author H. P. Lovecraft who called it “a triumph of skilful selectiveness and restraint” in his 1927 essay Supernatural Horror in Literature. Many of the supernatural seeds – hints of otherworldly names, languages, ceremonies, and even races – planted by Machen’s diarist have since blossomed in their own right, not least “the Aklo letters” mentioned above. Aklo was referenced in the diary of H. P. Lovecraft’s young occultist Wilbur Whatley in his heavily Machen inspired 1929 story “The Dunwich Horror”: “Today learned the Aklo for the Sabaoth [...] I wonder how I shall look when the earth is cleared and there are no earth beings on it. He that came with the Aklo Sabaoth said I may be transfigured, there being much of outside to work on.” The “dark Aklo language used by certain cults of evil antiquity” is also mentioned in HPL’s final Weird Tale, “The Haunter of the Dark” (written in 1935). Following Lovecraft’s own references, the Aklo the language made its way into the wider Mythos and has since been referenced everywhere from the Pathfinder roleplaying games, to Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson’s Illuminatus! Trilogy. The “old game called 'Troy Town’” mentioned in the quotation at the top of this essay sounds like yet another of Machen’s invented occult rites, but there is historic and even physical evidence of it, or at the very least of its namesakes.



The Lusus Troiae (Game of Troy) was an ancient custom revived by Dictator of the Roman Republic Gaius Julius Caesar in 46 BC. Images on a 7th century BC Etruscan wine-server depicting a group of youths emerging from a labyrinth carrying clubs and shields with images of horses on them are argued by some to be the earliest surviving evidence of the rite. The Lusus Troiae was said to have been brought to Italy by the mythic Trojan hero Aeneas, through whose son, Ascanius, the (also mythic) Kings of Alba Longa learned of it and passed it down to Rome proper. Julius Caesar claimed to be a descendant of Aeneas’ son Lulus, and so the revival of the custom was a way of making clear his connection to those kings said to have ruled the place that was to become Rome for centuries before Romulus founded the city officially.

What then actually was the Lusus Troiae? It was an elaborate ... Read More »

News Briefs 17-07-2017

RIP, zombie man...

Thanks to o@Tenebrisvacuum.

Quote of the Day:

Any idiot can face a crisis — it's day to day living that wears you out.

Anton Chekhov

Jones Iver: Alex Jones Rants as an Indie Folk Song

What happens when you set Alex Jones rants to folk music, as this clip from Superdeluxe does? They show how batshit crazy they actually are, when not delivered in a gravelly over-dramatic voice.

(Sometimes people ask me why I don't like Alex Jones, so here's my one-time answer. I'm not sure if these are somehow blind to the fact that he promotes hate and lies through his teeth constantly, simply to line his pockets at the expense of gullible people. But in short, he is pretty much the antithesis of everything I work to achieve with the Daily Grail: educating people, warning them to be skeptical and cautious of everything they read (both mainstream and alternative), not profiting off sensationalism or bias towards a belief or point of view, and promoting good. I cannot understand why a single person on the planet thinks he is worthy of respect. STOP LINING THE POCKETS OF AWFUL PEOPLE.)

News Briefs 14-07-2017

“Insanity is relative. It depends on who has who locked in what cage.”

Quote of the Day:

“Mysteries abound where most we seek for answers.”

Ray Bradbury

Lectures on 'Psychedelic Consciousness' from Breaking Convention 2017

The fine folks of Breaking Convention, a multidisciplinary conference on psychedelic consciousness held annually in Britain for the last four years, have kindly uploaded a bunch of videos from this year's instalment (held just a couple of weeks ago) that I'm sure many Grailers will be interested in.

I've embedded two of the videos in this post. Above, Rupert Sheldrake on "Psychedelic Experience And Morphic Resonance":

When people take psychedelic drugs, these drugs have a variety of effects on their brain activity. These effects are similar to those in people who have taken the same drugs in the past. According to the hypothesis of morphic resonance, similar patterns of activity in the past resonate with similar patterns in the present. This opens up the possibility that psychedelic experience includes a resonance from people in the past who have taken the same drugs. This may set up a kind of collective memory for each kind of psychedelic experience. Present experiences may tap into this collective memory and in turn contribute to it. This hypothesis is experimentally testable.

And below is Dennis McKenna's talk, "Is DMT A Neurotransmitter For The Gaian Brain?".

The possible functions of endogenous DMT as a neurotransmitter or regulatory neurohormone in mammalian physiology are incompletely understood, and a matter of controversy. Its ubiquity in nature, however, suggests it may function at the biospheric level as a messenger molecule. The planetary ecosystem – sometimes romantically likened to Gaia, the feminine Mother of all life in Greek mythology – is a complex homeostatic system that is regulated and stabilised by complex feedback loops and symbiosis. These processes operate via signal transduction, the exchange of information mediated by molecular messengers. Neurotransmitters are one of many kinds of signal-transducing molecules in the body, but in ecosystems, photosynthetic plants produce a vast array of secondary products that mediate their interactions with virtually all organisms in the environment, including humans. In this talk I will suggest that DMT and the ‘family’ of related tryptamines – may specifically target the big-brained primates to trigger cognitive evolution.

These are just two of the talks available - you can check out everything posted so far (30+ videos!) over at the Breaking Convention YouTube channel - and it might be worth subscribing so that you know when new videos are posted.

Massive thanks to the Breaking Convention peeps for doing this, it gladdens the heart of this Antipodean stuck on the other side of the planet.

Link: Breaking Convention YouTube Channel

News Briefs 13-07-2017

Qué horas son mi corazón?

Quote of the Day:

"Zen does not confuse spirituality with thinking about God while one is peeling potatoes. Zen spirituality is just to peel the potatoes."

~Alan Watts

Jesus and the Self-Mummifying Ascetics of Japan

The modern world is fascinated with mummies, from the ancient archaeological remains uncovered in countries around the world, to the modern monster mythos that remains a movie favourite. But while the former category is often equated directly with ancient Egypt - along with perhaps Peru, and the bog bodies of Europe - there are also some mummies found in Japan. And there's something unique about these mummies: they began turning themselves into mummies *before* they died:

Over a hundred tried, but just a few dozen succeeded. Living in the mountains, drinking arsenic-laced water, lacquer, and starving nearly to death - the life and death of the sokushinbutsu, the Japanese who mummified themselves.

The short video on the sokushinbutsu embedded above is part of a new web series titled 'Rare Earth', part of former astronaut Chris Hadfield's YouTube presence. Hosted by his son Evan, 'Rare Earth' is dedicated to uncovering unique stories and locations from across the globe. Host Evan Hadfield brings a humorous, rationalist approach to the series, so some might find the commentary slightly on the 'skeptical snark' side, although there's plenty of good points and funny asides if you don't take it all too seriously.

As is obvious from the topic in the above clip, the series has begun its worldwide tour of interesting places in Japan, and another of the videos from that location concerns the legend that Jesus escaped to Japan, and died there:

Did you know that Jesus wasn't crucified? It was his brother Isukiri, who 'casually' snuck onto the cross in his place. As it turns out, Jesus slipped away through Siberia and spent the rest of his life in Shingo, Japan. He stopped spreading the gospel and set up shop as a rice farmer. At least, that's what a man named Wado would have you believe.

I'm not sure about filing the 'Jesus in Japan' legend under 'conspiracy theory', as they do here - and it's interesting that in the discussion of how seriously we take various cults, Christianity itself wasn't mentioned as an examplar. But it's still a fun little series that should provide a few insights to some hidden history/'conspiracies' as it continues, so subscribe if you enjoy.

Related stories:

News Briefs 12-07-2017


Quote of the Day:

The louder he talked of his honor, the faster we counted our spoons.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

News Briefs 11-07-2017


Thanks @Grailseeker.

Quote of the Day:

For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.

H. L. Mencken