A Discussion of ‘Azoth’, ‘Atazoth’ and ‘Azathoth’

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[Written originally as a casual response in conversation with V.K. Jehannum, then organically turned into a closer look at Typhonian Trilogies references to Azoth.]

In reference to this: https://vkjehannum.wordpress.com/2016/10/19/atazoth-at-taghut/

And to a lesser degree, to this: https://vkjehannum.wordpress.com/2018/01/05/regarding-the-scandalous-origins-of-satanism/, wherein said conversation with V.K. Jehannum is found.

WS was on point, whatever else she was saying, that there is no conclusive linkage, other than speculation, between ‘Atazoth’ and ‘Azathoth’. Also, O9A (in Anton Long’s hand) never claims a link to Lovecraft’s ‘Azathoth’, and distinctly names and defines ‘Atazoth’ as something different.  I will explain why a step at a time. Your essay basically jumps to the conclusion:

All of the ONA’s descriptions of Atazoth find their origin in the Typhonian Trilogies by Kenneth Grant.

Then you proceed to jump between mentions of ‘Atazoth’ and ‘Azathoth’, but nowhere in any of the documents are these two actually linked, and that claim supported by concrete analysis. The only mention that jumps out is Peter Carroll’s of Azathoth as increase in ‘Azoth’, but this is published in 1992, claimed only at a point where he could have been said to be taking influence from the O9A (Naos, Hostia, etc. predate it by many years and at least an article or two by him make a curious and illogical addition in a relatively early issue of Fenrir zine).

It is worthy to mention that Opus Vrilis, not a central O9A document, or an official order document as far as I understand, contains mentions of both Atazoth and Azathoth, but as entirely different entities and meanings1.

I checked out the relevant literature (said book by Grant, The Magical Revival, from 1972), and while Grant’s juxtaposition of the Lovecraftian mythos with Crowlean derivations is interesting in its own way, there does not seem to be anything concrete linking ‘Azathoth’ to ‘Azoth’ itself, except the insignificant claim, and there is certainly no mention of ‘Atazoth’ in Grant’s work.

There also seems to be a discrepancy in the nuance of understanding of the full meaning of ‘Azoth’ between the Golden Dawn line and the Traditional Alchemy line, which might further enhance the discrepancies between O9A’s and Typhonian ideas, reinforcing the lack of borrowing by the former from the latter.

In MS ‘Azoth’, O9A states: “Unsurprisingly, therefore, and for quite some time – since at least the days of A.E. Waite, Crowley, et al – ‘azoth’ has been (mis)understood as Mercurius, and connected to the Qabalah.
However, esoterically – and anciently, in alchemy – azoth was the term used to describe not ‘mercurius’ but rather the stable amalgam of the three basic alchemical elements: mercury, sulphur, and salt; a combination which many alchemists sought to find by various alchemical processes.”

While Crowley writes in 777: “Binah is connected with the Azoth, not only because the Azoth is the lower Moon, but because the Azoth partakes also of the Saturnian character, being the metal lead in one of the Alchemical systems.

You might want to read, in detail, Julius Evola’s Introduction to Magic (1971)2.  He makes mention of that “Philosophical Lead or Philosophical Azoth” but with a more complex understanding the nuance of which makes it differ from the distortions (intended or not) of the Golden Dawn: “We find this metal in the mine of Saturn. Root of the perfect metals, just as of the imperfect ones, it is endowed with a certain saturnine spirit and is manifested as the mine of Mercury. It is called Philosophical Lead or Philosophical Azoth, from which we are used to distil the Virgin’s Milk, and it has a venereal property.” Thus showing us how that misunderstanding of ‘Azoth’ equating ‘Mercury’ or ‘Lead’ might have come about, and how the original understanding was pointing at properties and origins more complex.

Curiously enough, between 1972 and 1977, Kenneth Grant does alter his concept of ‘Azoth’ from the previous interpretation which had led him to link Crowley’s ‘Thoth’ with ‘Azoth’ and so with Lovecraft’s ‘Azathoth’, to one that slightly conforms ‘Azoth’ to O9A’s reading of Alchemical texts. Despite the critical alteration to the original error3, which was responsible for linking Azathoth with Azoth in the first place, is never properly corrected although the concepts are discretely separated and no longer associated4.

With thy hands thou shalt touch, and with thy eyes thou shalt see Azoth! The Universal! Which alone, with the internal and external fire in harmonious sympathy with the Olympic Fire, is sufficient for thee: by inevitable necessity, physicochemically united for the consummation of the Philosopher’s Stone” —Khunrath, Amph. Sap. Etern., Isag. in fig. Cap. 8., quoted in M.A. Atwood’s A Suggestive Inquiry Into the Hermetic Mystery (1850).

WS’s mention of the alchemical tractates is relevant insofar as the concept of ‘Azoth’ differs from Crowley’s, and so from the way in which O9A would conjure up a deity named ‘At-Azoth’ (‘an increase of azoth’), with a completely different meaning than that interpreted by Kenneth Grant from Lovecraft’s ‘ Aza-thoth’5 at which point he jumps from using Crowley’s ideas regarding ‘Azoth’ towards a new interpretation based on the partition and the reading of ‘Thoth’ in it. Word games and clever-sounding claims often based on numerology, but nothing more. These poetical conjectures are all right as creative writing, which is what I do for a free-style meaning-finding and creation, but they do not constitute concrete proof of anything.

Furthermore, the O9A’s own definition of At-Azoth as ‘increasing of Azoth’ is free of any link to Lovecraft, even if it is made up by appending the prefix ‘At-‘ to signal ‘an increase of’. And nothing at all links this to Grant’s work, but to the traditional term in the far older tradition of Alchemy, itself based on Greek notions.

Then again, Kenneth Grant never links ‘Atazoth’ to ‘Azathoth’, and the definitions of each in the respective camps appear to mean wildly different things: increase of universal alchemical magnetic unification, versus evil-demon-mother chaos-at-the-centre-of-the-universe Egyptian-magic-god/Hebrew-occult-descended-knowledge-Daath.

I appeal to your reason.


Notes:

1 Handling ‘Atazoth’ within the ‘Nythra Kthunae Atazoth’ context as the traditional O9A’s ‘increasing of Azoth’; while elsewhere, in a local Typhonian-Lovecraftian-mythos ritual, ‘Azathoth’ is mentioned as “center of the cosmos” and “acausal force of Chaos”.

2 In p. 240, for a far more involved discussion of Azoth in Alchemy than that presented by Kenneth Grant (who does more Crowlean numerology and derives his concepts from that line of thinking). Also, in the same work in pages 278 and 279, Evola mentions and discusses Azoth in connection with Basilius Valentinus, who is directly mentioned in O9A’s MS ‘Azoth’, wherein O9A focus on said author’s linking of Azoth with the Graeco-Roman tradition, predating Qabalistic adoptions of it.

3 In The Magical Revival (1972): “Azoth, the alchemical solvent; Thoth, Mercury; Chaos is Hadit at the centre of Infinity (Nuit)”. In contrast, in Nightside of Eden (1977), p. 259: “Azoth: An alchemical term for the fluid. The combined essences of the fully polarized power zones in the human male and female organs“. However, in p. 182 of the latter book, Grant describes ‘Azoth’ as a dissolving secretion of “infinitely corroding light“, and then simply claims that “Lovecraft has conceptualized this notion in terms of his own scientific materialism as Azathoth, the blind and idiot chaos as the centre of Infinity”. Nothing actually maintains this link between ‘Azoth’ and ‘Azathoth’ except Grant’s ignoring the corrected definition of ‘Azoth’ that he includes, while forgetting said link was based on an older concept he gradually leaves behind. In time, only the concept of the link remains, while the link itself is eroded.

4 Kenneth Grant’s Outside the Circles of Time (1980) reads, in its single mention of ‘Azoth’:”The number 401 is that of ATh, ‘essence’, a precise definition of Orissor and a synonym for Azoth, ‘the sum and essence of all, conceived as one’.“I.e., Azoth is no longer linked to ‘Thoth’ and ‘Chaos’. In this book, no mention of ‘Azathoth’ is made. Then, in Hecate’s Fountain (1992) Grant revives Azathoth as “An entity given prominence in the Necronomicon Mythos because it typifies the supreme reflex of Daath in the form of Aza.” In this last book, no mention of ‘Azoth’ appears any longer.

5 In Keneth Grant’s Nightside of Eden (1977), p.182: “The name Azathoth is composed of two distinct concepts, Aza and Thoth“. Wherein ‘Aza’ is defined as “The evil mother of all demons.” and ‘Thoth’ explained as “The Egyptian god of magic whose vehicle is the kaf-ape. In an occult sense Thoth is synonymous with Daath.”