V. THE LOA MASTERS
You would like to know more about the Loa Masters? So would we all. But for the moment, your curiosity can be given a little relief.
My name is Karol Lewandowski. I was a professor at the Academy of Philosophical Inquiry at Krakow. It was during my studies there that I became involved with the occult, and eventually ran afoul of the Loa Masters. I have been paid an honorarium by certain parties to give this internet lecture from a secure location.
The first thing you must understand is that this is a group of magicians, not religious leaders. They are workers of the will, not intermediaries between humanity and the spiritual world. Their system of magick synthesizes elements of Obeah, Candomble, Santeria, Myal, Curanderia, Hoodoo, Brujeria, Voudoun, or Voodoo, African Orisha religions and even borrowings from Appalachian folk magic and Native American practices. Synthesis, in this case, is a very appropriate term, although “theft” and “perversion” might get to the point more quickly.
You see, every one of the traditions I’ve named here are either religions or healing practices with a great reverence for the natural and supernatural alike. Shamans and houngans and the such are not cheap conjurers or baleful warlocks sticking needles into dolls of their zombie slaves. They’re religious figures who guide flocks, teachers and healers who work hard every day—they’re people who think and feel in added dimensions for the benefit of their communities.
In short, they are everything that the Loa Masters are not.
The Loa Masters have been mistakenly described as a subsect of the Voudoun faith. This is an error. They are not Voudoun, nor any other true faith. Faith has nothing to do with what they are. They regard their way as the “natural order” of magick, it is true, but only in the same way that any believer in supremacy sees a divine precedence of reality as being their own boot on the face of all others. They do fuel their magic with the power of every kind of spirit, bright and dark, grey and absolute, and they act as overseers and owners. But they are not a cult—they are an order. They deem themselves the invisible aristocracy of all the worlds; the kings and queens in exile of a realm they are destined to command for eternity.
Permit me to interrupt this lecture.
It would be vulgar and insincere for me to dispute the earnest Professor Lewandowski in his claims about what we are. He is certainly correct in describing us as aristocratic, but his words imply that we are some form of occult hereditary banditry, or the spiritual equivalent of some boring, mundane fascism. This is a terrible injustice!
We are artists. We appreciate the finer things in every facet of existence: Life… death…and that which is neither.
There is no purpose to existence without art, and the purpose of art is to touch—to provoke—to “comfort the disturbed, and to disturb the comfortable.”
We, the Loa Masters, seek only to give art its proper place at the center of things. And our art is universal in its scope: Everyone will participate, in time.
For some, legends are wonders, for others, warnings—and for a few, they are signposts leading to dark treasures. Every cliché of the folk magic world, from curse-effigies to zombie enslavement, has been made a reality by the Loa Masters. They revel in the fear their powers generate, and they love the poetry of bloodstains in an earthen floor. They have seized the cruel symbols of colonization and brutality and made them their own. The Loa Masters have found power in making old ideas new, false ideas true, and nightmares into waking life.
The tales of the Dacianos, who were said to steal children and cut and twist them into freaks for sale…
Exaggerated stories of headhunters and cannibals, with filed teeth and tattoos and ritual scars…
Urban legends and campfire tales, and even children’s “creepypastas,” made-up myths of hook hands on doors, blood writing on mirrors and mysterious stick-figure men who carry little ones away…
Adolescent “gothic” notions of blood magic and graveyard spell casting, cargo cults turning corporate merchandise into ritual talismans…
Cheap pop cultural junk from television and cinema, lurid magazines and comic art, plastic toys and song lyrics and spoken word…
The madness of the webs of conspiracy, finding connections everywhere that have no basis in reality, rotting your mind as it finds link after link after link of chains of effect that have no causality…
All these things—and more—the Loa Masters have learned to weave together with their power. The symbol, valid or not, becomes valid—becomes reality—because they know that spirit guides flesh, flesh guides spirit, and both bow to symbol. The symbol speaks through the one who reads it, and the dream lives within the dreamer.
(Laughter) Again, it is impossible to honestly refute the good Professor! We do use a very broad palette of ideas, for ideas shape reality, just as he states. I suppose that in some ways we are what the modern world of literature and arts labels “postmodern”—we take up the castaway things of the mundane world, all the half-forgotten dreams and lingering lies, the prejudices of the past and the xenophobia of the present, the strange and the subconscious. And we mold it, and let it color what we mold.
A childlike fantasy of the Other remains a powerful thing. It is a glimpse of the Unknown that leaves it a mystery. After all, imagining what is scratching on the other side of the bedroom door does not actually tell you what wants to visit you after midnight, does it?
When one lets the horror that is Real dress itself in the rags of the horror that is Unreal, it is like oiling a machine for the greatest efficacy. Those who face your power must first glimpse the thing they expect… then see the truth they did not suspect.
Symbols speak, but they use our voices to do so. We are made of memory, and memory is not reality, but through us it is real. If a spirit… a loa… is anything at all, it is this conduit between what is aggressively real and what is quietly unreal, the sentient passageway between symbol and fact. To master the loa is to shape reality.
This is art. You may call it “outsider art,” but we are outcast sovereigns, wearing strange crowns and foreign robes. You cannot expect us not to take pride in our workings, even so!
The Loa Masters have a single unifying goal. Like actors who wish to tear down the curtain and let audience and performers mingle, they wish to dissolve forever the boundary between life and death—to usher in a universal undeath, or unlife, if you prefer. They have described the bizarre reality that would ensue with great relish, illustrating it in nightmares.
A corpse that gives birth to a living baby; a ripe red crop sown with the ashes of the dead; carnal love of the dead and the living; an eternal dance of horrors that never die but also never live. These fragments of fevered delirium would become moments in a day as dark as night that never ends. Time would be one, only a universal now, and in it there would be no true entropy and no true growth.
Only physical, spiritual and mental mutation. A frolic of the damned, a Boschian Graveyard of Earthly Delights. This is the paradise of the Loa Masters, and in it, they would be the singers of songs and the tellers of tales, little gods of whim and cruelty.
They are the enemies of everything that exists, in every plane of existence. They must be utterly destroyed.
Our enemies have been many. We have warred with the Obeah Man of Trinidad, and striven with the Biochemist of Haiti; we have shown our mettle to Dahomey and the Congo, and made uneasy truce with the Great One of Trinidad. Even the most puissant Houngan of Port-Au-Prince has struck hard at us, calling our great wisdom an “abomination,” but we do not fear—we are fear—and we survive while the mighty and the holy must fail. It is no rumor that the entelechy called Dutty Boukman is bound angrily by our charms, nor is it falsehood that King Behanzin himself held us but a heartbeat from binding his immortal self into a Great Charm.
The True Peoples of the Americas hate us, as they hate all the magicks of unnatural things; but we let them all stew in their loathing of our mastery of nature. Diverse and disunited, they imagine their New World was once separate from our Old Truths. We do not care! Let them all suffer in the small prisons given them by the colonizers. We want the world.
We still have terrible foes. The one called “Saint Death,” the Holy Ending, the great mother of peaceful darkness—we hate and fear her, as you should, for you also have wishes that you would not want her to answer. She is mother to the end of suffering, which alone would make her our enemy.
True peace is our enemy. We want nothing of that. The peace of the moment, false peace that may shatter in a heartbeat… that is our friend.
If you know the name of the one called “Teach,” who was “Blackbeard,” you know one of our infernal founders. If you know she was called Marie La Veau, you know one who walked among us, then found her own way, then walked with others, and returned to us briefly anew. None but she could ever have succeeded against our craft, but Madame La Veau had other quarrels to settle and other webs to spin.
Miss Pleasant was a great teacher, and she walked with us a while on our path; the Prince of the Birds saw too much and we blinded him, while Charley was our amusement at our left hand. Liga and her prodigy have seen us as monsters since your parents don’t know when, but at the last of the matter, we may act beyond their reach and around the world and none can stop us then.
Our way is not clear, and is not meant to be clear. It is a great thicket of thought and feeling; unless you bear a sharp blade and a strong arm, expect the thorns to cut you!
Even then, there is a toll.
Shall we talk of granny witches, of ash-faced magick in the Appalachians? There we find the power of druids and their bloody cauldrons, of hexes cast by the smoky firelight, and of a golden bough older than they think. The Hoodoo of one style or another, of the Jezebel of old or the one brought across the water; to us, it is all the same. The root is deep—it sinks into the blood.
Shall we be part of the Church of Rome, for all of our Lwas, Loas, and Saints? Shall we worship the saints, in veriest blasphemy, where blasphemy speaks for all of our doubts and uncertainties?
Lemon grass, tulsi, tree oil and jasmine; blood and rum and tobacco and iron; we call you now, for you live in our back-brains, desire and fury bring you to the fore…
Shall we chatter on of le zombi, le gris-gris, and of the red-eyed queens who have ruled the new avatar of great Orleans? Should we make the wax effigy and the great design drawn in blood on the goatskin banner? Ouncongo or Ourobouros? In all these things, we make you comfortable. We want your comfort. Without it, what value has the bridge of death and life, or the serpent’s worship? After all, it is you that we wish to bring across.
In the City of Camps, there must be those who sit by the fireside and wait for dreams.
Brujeria, Santeria, mask-faith, saint-faith, witch-faith; Magia Blanca and Magia Negro and—most of all—Magia Gris, all of the outlawed and colonized, oppressed beliefs (truly, ways of seeing and knowing) are our ways. We combine the American television with the Dominican spirit-belief, the British artifice with the Cuban supernatural; we are the makers of a twilight line between night and day, and it is our home.
But the folk themselves are gentle. The folk themselves are kind. They would live among you, and so would their priests and priestesses, their healers and great ones. It is we few, we wiser than most, who will not leave things alone.
To hell with their gentle priests and priestesses. We of the Loa Masters wish power. And damn you who sit idly on the sidelines!
To kill them is not enough. The Loa Masters are not finished with their work in our world when they die.
They are intimates of the spiritworld, and nothing that is of it is truly alien to them. They understand the power of spirit in the material plane, and the metamorphosis of death does not reduce this knowledge or power.
When they die, they stay close to the living world and continue to act within it. Unless they are banished to far-off planes we barely know, they will revenge themselves upon their killers and carry on with their plans. Their allies are ghosts and darker, elder spiritual entities—and of course, their living sisters and brothers. The vengeance of the Loa Masters and their unseen armies can be a terrible thing. I know this myself, and I still sleep badly because of it.
They are led by one who styles herself the Bloody Reverend Mother Charon Skull; although her whereabouts are not easily found, she lives somewhere in the city of New Orleans. She never calls herself a priestess, but never corrects anyone who calls her such.
Their organization is insidious and many-faceted. Some Loa Masters are family dynasties, while others are networked as covens or partnerships or individuals—each cell of their hidden collective is tenuously linked to a few others, but only the Bloody Reverend Mother knows them all.
If she can be destroyed, then they may falter and fail. They would lose cohesion and be unable to work together, or so it is hoped.
There is a rumor she no longer lives in New Orleans at all. Some say she has relocated, due to sensing some sort of great upheaval in the spirit world. If this is true, perhaps she is more vulnerable in her new lair. Or she may be more terrifying than ever before.
There is so much that is unknown about the Loa Masters, but perhaps these few words will help you in your efforts to face them… whoever you are.
The Bloody Reverend Mother Charon Skull, as she styles herself, is more Delphic oracle than field marshal to our harmonious brother- and sisterhood. For chieftains, you may as well look to us all. We are the bearers of dreams forgotten; who is to say if we lead the dreams, or the dreams lead us?
Those who are merely made strange, the blood drinkers and the shape twisters, they hold this minor difference up and call themselves alien. But those who are born odd, conceived in singularity and gifted with the weird… we know what is truly “wrong” for the “right universe.” We know, and we celebrate.
To you, dear reader of this transcript, this is just a nice little part of a game.
I like that.
You see me now, in these symbols that speak, but I will see you when you dream.
A Vampire is an undead spirit that stays inside its body, using the energy of the living to remain anchored to the living world. It is nearly always a spirit that actually still thinks it is alive, despite all evidence to the contrary! This makes them both challenging and easy to manipulate, for many of the magicks that can command a spirit cannot easily sway a flesh-bound Vampire—but many of the words that can confuse a living person can trick them instead!
They’re only people who have a dependence and fetish for the corruption of the Vampire. This makes them no more or less interesting than other men and women (and children), but it does mean that when you seek Vampires, they are an easy telltale sign of the presence of the undead.
The spirits of the dead are the clay that we sculpt and mold, the paint with which we embellish the world. The first test of the Loa Master is to master your fear of the dead: If you cannot do this, you cannot be one of us. Once you have conquered your fear of death, and of the dead, then reality becomes yours, and with your brothers and sisters you may shape it.
The Loa Masters’ greatest enemies are the so-called “Necromancers,” who are truly an abomination against nature and supernature. Their dangerous ideology is a creeping cancer in the worlds of science and magick alike, because the Necromancers seek to bridge and destroy the barrier between life and death and let the two worlds mingle indiscriminately in a chaotic mess. The Loa Masters understand that life and death and should coexist, but it must be in an orderly and controlled manner, one guided by artistic souls, passionate hearts and inspired minds—our own. If the Loa Masters are the aristocracy of an occult world, poets and philosophers, then the Necromancers are power-grubbing little strivers, accountants and mechanics shoving and forcing and categorizing and dissecting. They have no art, no elegance, no majesty and no vision. One masters spirits as a great equestrian masters horses—a Necromancer “gets it done fast and easy” by sticking electrodes into dead flesh or merging ether and electricity. A Loa Master’s powers are a dance of grace, a wonderful thing; a Necromancer’s powers are like watching an ugly little man drive a Yugo in the mud. They are crude and unfeeling, lacking in the subtle joys of malice. If only for their relentless, grey, termite-like efforts to turn the Great Beyond into a box store of power, it would be necessary to destroy the Necromancers. Knowing that their goals are directly in conflict with our own, and that they dare to try to prey on us and our works, means that it is imperative and a pleasure to do so.
Weak fools who serve hazardous entities can be found everywhere in the world. These Cultists are the very antithesis of the Loa Masters—they serve the spirit, rather than bringing the spirit low and causing it to obey them. Luckily, this makes them perfect for the great works of the Loa Masters. Some of them are wiser and more dangerous than the others, but most Cultists are simple folk who want easy answers from the world beyond. We know such answers do not exist, but we understand their allure. And this is why we so often snare and dominate impressive and seductive spirits and then send them to answer the call of Cultists. The Cultists worship the spirits, and do their bidding… and as the spirits do our bidding, so do the Cultists.
Children with guns and knives, driveling psychopaths and shaven-headed militiamen—these are the Slayers, who are nothing more than the dregs of an ancient and useless order of sheep who imagine themselves shepherds. Their ways cannot control the darkness, but only stab and heave it back from their campfires for a time… and not a long time. We cannot cooperate with them, even in careful deception, because all the things that shape our dark enchantments raise the hackles on their dog-like necks. All of reality is a great theatre of shadows, and these fools are the clumsy understudies who don’t know any of their lines. They are too lethal not to take seriously, but they are too awkward and brutal to see as anything but loose cannons rolling wildly on the deck of a ship in a stormy sea.
The Lunar Covenant
A weird and beautiful enchantment flows in the blood of these seemingly human beings. The Covenant lives in two timelines: The first, which is their conscious, waking, “human” selves, full of all the same inhibitions, doubts, questions and manners that shackle most civilized people and takes the inspiration from their souls. And a second life, a dreamworld, which is their animal nature: Satisfying its needs, chasing its wishes, seeking answers rather than fretting over questions, letting the moment shape the action and not mutable, hypocritical rules. How few humans live with such freedom! Their lack of interest in building and shaping the world makes them somewhat less interesting, because they wish only to live in the pattern of reality instead of leading in its dance. But they are sometimes useful, these shapeshifting animal-people, and always exciting. You are never more alive, nor closer to death, than when you are in the presence of the Lunar Covenant.