The Esoteric Order of Dagon is a fictional order within the stories of H P Lovecraft. Outside of this fiction its name has been adopted by at least two groups who use it to work with the symbolism of the genre refered to as the Cthulhu Mythos. All such practioners agree that Lovecraft's fiction was a product of his dreams and attraction to other literature that may also be traced to dream at some point. Dream as is widely accepted being the gateway to the unconscious and its mysteries. The myth and magick of Lovecraft, which he refered to as his 'Yog Sothothery', while fragmented and sometimes inconsistent never the less resonates well with traditional mythology and occultism, no doubt due to study as much as gnosis. In particular it resonates with some of the darker or more deeper aspects of the occult often shrouded in secrecy or ignorance. This view is supported by the declaration of Austin Osman Spare to the eccentric Thelemite Kenneth Grant that Lovecraft was 'one of us'.
It was thus Kenneth Grant who first incorporated aspects of Yog Sothothery into his Typhonian Current within his OTO society, from where it defused to allied Orders. Though Grant's views were not published until the early 1970s he's association with the Cthulhu Mythos goes back to his friendship with Spare in the 50s and their activities were well known within the occult community of his time. Beyond Grant's idiosyncratic adoption of it however, it has more simply become associated with the magical worldview of Spare.
The Rise of Yog Sothothery
A plethora of tiny groups adopting this general paradigm emerged in the 1960s, mostly in North America, using various titles adopted from HPL's fiction. These also influenced the counter culture of '67 and '68 which would later find expression in the Illuminatus Trilogy of Robert Anton Wilson. A few of these worked with Grant's Qlipphotic Old Ones formula of Thelemic Atavism, then just emerging, but most were concerned with altered states of consciousness and an open dreamwork based on Lovecraft's stories or a more Sparean (or even Burroughsian) form of magic.
The majority of these groups use the Lovecraft Mythos of his middle period, where the Old Ones were still predominantly supernatural but ethically ambiguous. Few emphasize the early demonic period, later accentuated by the moral dualist writer August Derleth who further popularised Lovecraft's mythos, or the later period where the Old Ones become material, extraterrestrial beings. The only significant exception perhaps being crypto-Christian UFO cults, whose contaminated Channellings reveal Reptillian aliens to be behind human demonic experience. An entirely Lovecraftian concept if not one consciously acknowledged. Though these groups rarely regard themselves as occult.
By the 1970s many of the small groups had faded away or merged (or confederated) into larger associations, usually with short lifespans, one that out lived most was the Starry Wisdom Sect which continued to explore the Mythos. New groups also emerged in 70s typically within existing occult orders.
One influential group was Michael Bertiaux's Lovecraftian Coven within his Monastery of the Seven Rays, which combined some of the ideas of his friend Kenneth Grant with his own concept of the Anti Universe B and its chaotic interaction with our universe (said to produce Uncertainty, which he regarded as 'evil'). For Bertiaux the Deep Ones and the hybrid offspring of Yog-Sothoth were the denizens of this chaotic dimension (in reality probably a perspective on the Quantum Domain). Contact with such beings, whose forms he developed by their hybridization with his unique conception of Voodoo Loas, gave magical potential however and his favoured form of connection involved his lakeside reworking of the IIXth or IXth Thelemic degrees. This work was continued and developed further by the Adytum Azothos Lodge of the OTOA which tends more towards scrying and mantric distortion.
This was probably also somewhat influenced by another group emerging in the early 70s the Order of the Trapezoid. This was an independent invention of Michael Aquino within the Church of Satan, which he later took with him into his Temple of Set. The basic ideas behind this were two fold, firstly Lovecraftian litany was seen as supremely evocative, and ideal for allowing "the objective manifestations... of the subjective universe ... trying to 'break through' the merely rational mind-set of modern humanity", a task assisted by Aquino's mind numbing 'Yuggothic tongue'. Secondly it adopted La Vey's notion of 'haunted geometry', which associated hauntings, jinxes, madness and murder, with irregular angles and assymetry in architecture, in a form of dark Feng Shui, as well as other disturbing environmental factors such as electromagnetism and white noise. From this emerged the Ceremony of the Nine Angles and the evocative lakeside Call of Cthulhu. This 'Satanic' form of Yog Sothothery tends towards Faustian pacts with Demoniacal Old Ones. The Nine Angles formula was also adopted by the Neo-Nazi pagan group the Order of the Nine Angles, but heavily modified and contained very little Lovecraft beyond its mention of the Dark Gods. This Order was denounced by the Temple of Set, of more individualistic orientation, as 'immoral' in the 90s due to its alleged support of 'human sacrifice'.
Most of these paradigmatic groupings died out or had little influence beyond their limited circles, however one that proved to 'have legs' (or perhaps that should be tentacles) was the Esoteric Order of Dagon. There are currently at two known EODs in existance.
The Esoteric Order of Dagon
There were several small groups called the Esoteric Order of Dagon in the 1960s, including one highly influencial order founded in Massachusetts by Zoltan K, which later merged with the Starry Wisdom Sect. But the better known orders of that name emerged after Kenneth Grant published his influencial texts in the 1970s.
The 'original' Esoteric Order of Dagon was founded in 1980 by Stephen Greenfield, under the guidance of Kenneth Grant. It swiftly grew into an international confederation of lodges, absorbing many of the former groups and practioners of Yog Sothothery. Its close alliance with TOTO was a source of internal dissent from its inception however. Its remit was to further the adaption of the Lovecraftian mythos to Western Occultism.
The Dunwich (UK) Lodge was particularly active in synthesising prior Lovecraftian practise from many of the above sources into a system compatable with Grant's Typhonianism and Thelema in general. It specialised in the dangerous practise of Cthulhic Invocation. While the Ry'leh Lodge maintained a large library of relevant works.
A brief but facinating episode in this EOD was the creation within it of the Miskatonic Alchemical Expedition by Bill Siebert. Siebert had been expelled from TOTO by Grant in 1985 and subsequently formed his own Chthonic OTO, but his main activity was to be within the EOD and MAE. MAE founded a commune in New York State which practised a hybrid mix of Thelema, Alchemy, Shamanism and Psychedelia. Its main rites involved Sex Magick and use of the 'entheogenic elixir', a cocktail of psilocybin, LSD, hash, alcohol, coca cola and consecrated 'sexual fluids'. The EOD eventually disassociated from this group and it broke up in 1988. This incident heightened existing tension in the Order. An active dissident faction were the Kishites, who claimed to be a breakaway from the Starry Wisdom Sect. The hierarchy accused them of 'inventing' their history, but new little of the early history of the 60s Lovecraftians.
Further internal power struggles led the central Yaddith Lodge to announce the dissolution of the Order in 1992. Though it was subsequently stated that this dissolution was merely a 'period of silence' that might end.
During this 'period of silence' most Yog Sothothery became a lone practice, and Chaos Magicians began to adopt the paradigm due to the Spare connection. Most notably Phil Hine, who regarded the Great Old Ones not as Qlipphotic but as Primeval forces of nature, which could even be used for healing. However he warned that the in cautious use of the paradigm could lead to 'dangerous obsession, personality disintegration and infestation with vampiric entities'.
In 1997, a member of the original EOD, Frater Bokrug, petitioned the previous directors for permission to open a new lodge and on August 20, 1997 the EOD emerged from the ashes anew. Since the order had been disbanded in 1992, known former members were informed of the Order's "return" and Frater Bokrug took on a new magical name, Frater Eibon, as he accepted the role as new the Director of the Order. Many Kishites were also involved.
Alas further internal conflict emerged and in 1999, tired of power games, Eibon elected to retire, and chose to select Ghorl Nigral as his successor. This led to a split between the Old EOD hierarchy, still wed to a OTO paradigm, and the New EOD of Ghorl Nigral who wanted to disassociate from it.
Since then the line of Directors has continued unbroken from Ghor Nigral through Frater Yog-Shadotep, Frater H.P.Ghoule and Frater N'kai Ekwaynalkul, who is the current Grand Master of this E.O.D. lineage.
The Old EOD continued reject this development, regarding it an illegitimate schism and declared itself the 'authentic' or orthodox EOD, seeking closer alliances with TOTO and COTO. Stephen Greenfield remains a dominant hidden influence within this grouping taking on a Pope like role.
There also exists a latin branch of the Old EOD which a recently absorbed diseffected members of the OTOA.
The Eldritch Esoteric Order of Dagon
In recent years Grand Master N'kai Ekwaynalkul chose to restructure the EOD into a network of autonomous non-hierarchical lodges each empowered to intepret the mythos as they saw fit. Disassociating from the Old EOD and its Thelemic trappings, it was agreed that while members could adopt whatever paradigm they desired the Mythos should not be used as a new language for Thelema, Setianism, Typhonianism or Gnostic Voodoo, but rather stand on its own merits as a symbolic framework for the experimental encounters with the Other and the development of new understandings of magic.
The core of the eEOD thus practises experimental dreamwork and various forms of altered states of consciousness, similar to those of the 60s founders. Its autonomous chapters and lodges work a variety of experimental forms of Yog Sothothery, which includes both original work and that derived from the above sources.
An influential chapter of the eEOD with lodges in the UK and Australia is the Arcane Temple of Shub Niggurath, which practices an eclectic, Sparean, Dionysiac Metamagical system, combined with a radical Tantra, that is led by encounters with the unknown through the Mythos, rather than imposing preexisting concepts on it. Its Australian lodge is led by Orryelle Defenestrate the designated 'heir' to N'kai Ekwaynalkul.
Other chapters (of unknown degrees of activity) include the Vadyan Lodge / Leng Temple (US), Red Hook Lodge (NYC), the Vault of Sepulchre (Rhode Island), Benijah Hall (California), the Yuggoth Order of Dagon (Belgrade), the Carcosa Lodge and many more anonymous cells in North America and Continental Europe. The founding lodge of N'kai Ekwaynalkul is based in British Columbia.