Sunday, 17 April 2011

Alan Moore: Words, Worship and Glycon

Magically it is very fitting that the very act of writing itself revealed the divine nature of his work to Alan Moore.
While working on 'From Hell', an epic exploration of the shape of time and the nature of reality ostensibly presented as an examination of the Ripper murders of 1888, Moore had a character say the following:

'The one place Gods inarguably exist is in our minds where they are real beyond refute, in all their grandeur and monstrosity.'

Moore quickly realised:

'Having written that and been unable to find an angle from which it wasn't true, I was forced to either ignore its implications or change most of my thinking to fit around this new information.'

Choosing the latter Moore took the opportunity of his fortieth birthday to announce that he would now begin working as a ceremonial magician.
The transition seemed quite natural to Moore:

'I believe that magic is art, and that art, whether that be music, writing, sculpture, or any other form, is literally magic. Art is, like magic, the science of manipulating symbols, words or images, to achieve changes in consciousness… Indeed to cast a spell is simply to spell, to manipulate words, to change people's consciousness, and this is why I believe that an artist or writer is the closest thing in the contemporary world to a shaman.'

Having made his decision the next step was to decide on the form his magical work would take. Inspired by Steve Moore, a friend and fellow writer who also practised magic through the worship of Selene, the goddess of the Moon, he began to look for a suitable spiritual guide for this new journey.
Soon after, for reasons entirely unrelated to his spiritual quest, Steve Moore happened to show him an image of Glycon, a snake god with long, flowing hair who had his origins in ancient Macedonia.
Alan Moore has described this experience as 'love at first sight' and felt an immediate affinity to the deity.
Initally he was attracted by the notion of a snake god itself, with its potent mythological legacy as an image which Moore felt could be traced from fertility cults in prehistory through the Rod of Asclepius in antiquity all the way to the double helix of DNA which has defined our understanding of creation in the 21st Century.
Just as importantly, there was a very good chance that Glycon was a hoax.
The Greek prophet Alexander of Abonutichus had revealed the god, hatching him from a gooses egg in the middle of a marketplace and then over the week showing the people of the city of Abonutichus the prodigious growth of this new deity.
By the end of the week Glycon was the size of a human and had the features of a man on his face along with a full head of long blonde hair.
Glycon was a fertility god and would accept tributes from women who hoped to have children.
Lucian, a local satirist, decried the cult as a hoax claiming that Glycon was nothing more than a giant puppet and that Alexander's methods of increasing fertility in the local area were a lot less than magical...
Moore became fascinated by the idea of worshipping a god that had been proved NOT to exist. If the only place that gods truly exist is the imagination than their existence in the physical world was incidental.
The idea of Glycon would be enough to justify his worship.
A religion without any other followers was also intrigued him.
Ever the writer Moore found the concept of 'religion' linguistically unappealing.
From the same etymological root as 'ligature' the idea of religion had always been to 'bind people together. Moore couldn't understand why people, so different physically, psychologically and emotionally from one another, would decide to correspond exactly on something as vital as spirituality.
Moore has rejected entirely the idea that his worship of Glycon is religion:

'There is no church and no other followers. There's just me.
And I'm not recruiting...'

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