Tag Archives: The Festival

Through the Gates of the Silver Key: Discovering What Happened to Randolph Carter

“I will say this – this is some kinda slam-bang story. There’s more wonderful loose ends, trippy metaphysics, and crazy fizzy-pop ideas in this story than in virtually any other Lovecraft tale of like length.” Kenneth Hite from Tour De Lovecraft: The Tales (2011).


Over a large part of 2017 Lovecraftian Science will focus on the science associated with H.P. Lovecraft’s Dream Cycle of stories and the Dreamlands in general. This will include discussions on the theory of multiverse, the structure and nature of matter, quantum mechanics, the ecology of the various ecosystems of the Dreamlands and other topics.  Thus, “Through the Gates of the Silver Key” written by H.P. Lovecraft and E. Hoffmann Price will be the start of these investigations as we move through 2017.  I included Kenneth Hite’s quote above to emphasize the point that “Through the Gates of the Silver Key” is filled with a variety of metaphysical and scientific ideas and concepts.  To delve into these, I will be conducting this analysis on a chapter by chapter basis. This article will cover Chapters 1 and 2 of “Through the Gates of the Silver Key.”

The story begins with four people at the home of Etienne Laurent De Marigny of New Orleans to discuss the estate of Randolph Carter who has been missing for four years.  While the attorney Ernest B. Aspinwall is anxious to declare Carter dead and divide his estate up among his heirs, a strange individual named Swami Chandraputra opposes this action since he claims he knows that Carter is alive and what has happened to him over the last four years. The rest of the tale documents Carter’s adventures.


Randolph Carter by Andrew Johansen

It should be noted that “Through the Gates of the Silver Key” is sort of a sequel to “The Silver Key,” which we have discussed in previous articles and Chapters 1 and 2 summarize the occurrences in “The Silver Key.” Carter takes the key to back to the wooded hills and into a “strange cave in the forest slope, the dreaded, “snake-den” which country folk shunned…” In the farthermost corner, deep in the cave, Carter approaches a granite wall and pulls the silver key out of his pocket. As a result, present day, adult Carter disappears but young Carter in the past has acquired the ability to predict future events and discoveries.

Initially, these circumstances appeared to result in a “time loop” of Carter forever going back into the past with the aid of the Silver Key only to reach that point when he uses it to again go back in time. However, I hypothesized that the first Carter loops back to give his younger self the Silver Key to alter his own timeline so that he can eventually break out of our Space-Time and “Through the Gates of the Silver Key” supports this hypothesis.  This more quantum view of time is sometime referred to as the “river model,” where our Space-Time is not just one of many Universes but is also one of many Times. Indeed, in “Through the Gates of the Silver Key” a friend and distant cousin of Carter, Mr. Ward Phillips, claims that Carter “…was still alive in another time-dimension and might well return some day.” This “time-dimension” may be a reference to an alternative time-line.

As the individuals were discussing Carter, De Marigny presents the group a strange piece of parchment that was found in Carter’s car on the day of his disappearance. While no one can translate the characters on the parchment, they are similar to characters that have been observed in an old book Harley Warren once had. Remember Warren was the person in “The Statement of Randolph Carter” (another tale of Lovecraft’s previously reviewed) who entered an underground crypt in Florida, encountered some creatures and did not return to the surface. It was hypothesized that this crypt was actually a portal to the Dreamlands that ghouls were using to enter our Space-Time.

the_silver_key_and_dream_parchment_fragment_by_jasonmckittrick-d83xfq0                                                                     The Silver Key and the Dream Parchment Fragment by Jason McKittrick (www.cryptocurium.com)

Thus, to summarize so far, Carter used a key and parchment (which he memorized but left in the car) to leave our Space-Time. The parchment had similar characters used by Warren to enter a place that may have been a portal to our Space-Time by ghouls. Additionally, the “snake-den” portal was near Kingsport, a location also known to have a Universal connection with the Dreamlands Universe. In “The Festival” this known portal or connection may actually be underneath the town itself; is it possible that there are a series of catacombs and grottos underneath Kingsport and the surrounding lands that can be used to leave our Space-Time?

In Chapter 2 of “Through the Gates of the Silver Key” we get more information in what was in the “snake-den” when Carter disappeared from our Space-Time. Turns out the simple snake-den was an unknown, inner grotto with a rock wall shaped like a large pylon. A keystone appeared on the wall and above it was a large, sculptured hand. Carter then used the silver key with some motions and intonations to “…cross the barrier to the untrammeled land of his dreams and the gulfs where all dimensions dissolved in the absolute.”

snakeden_glinda_chen               Is the Snake-Den near Kingsport a portal to another Space-Time? Artwork by Glinda Chen

Finally, recently it has been reported that scientists have actually created time crystals, which are essentially a unique and possibly new form of matter. These crystals have an atomic structure that repeats not just in space but also in time. Essentially, their atomic lattice matrix structure is in perpetual motion without the introduction of an external source of energy. This unique form of matter is not in equilibrium. Thus, these crystals oscillate in their ground state, keeping them in a constant condition of non-equilibrium in the absence of any applied energy. Keep in mind this is fairly new and largely theoretical research; while two teams and generated results, such research needs to be repeated and confirmed by other labs. However, if proven true, the ability to oscillate or repeatedly flip their atomic spin without the application of energy will provide valuable insight into additional applications of quantum mechanics. Are similar forms of non-equilibrium matter needed for inter-dimensional travel to other Space-Times? Is the Silver Key composed of some unique form of non-equilibrium matter, similar to a time crystals? Without examining the key, we may never know.

view-into-ion-trap-apparatus       Physicists plan to create a “time crystal” — a theoretical object that moves in a repeating pattern without using energy — inside a device called an ion trap. Image: Hartmut Häffner (www.wired.com)

Next time we will review Chapter 3 of “Through the Gates of the Silver Key.” Thank you – Fred.

What Made the Old Man Terrible in H.P. Lovecraft’s “The Terrible Old Man?”

57128-rpwpirhncloakanddaggergames                                               The Terrible Old Man (by Cloak and Dagger Games)

In one of Lovecraft’s shortest tales “The Terrible Old Man” three thieves decide to rob a very old and seemly feeble man who lives in Kingsport, Massachusetts. The old man appears to be very eccentric; he is observed talking to a set of bottles, each one  with a small piece of lead in it suspended from a string. As the old man speaks to the bottles, the pieces of lead appear to move or vibrate as if in communication with him. During the night of the attempted burglary, two of the three thieves go into the house, screams are heard but they don’t come out. The third man is afraid they had to kill the old man. When the third man, Mr. Czanek, heard someone leaving the house he assumed it was his partners. It turned out to be the terrible old man “leaning quietly on his knotted cane and smiling hideously.” Later, three unidentifiable bodies, horribly slashed, were washed in with the tide.

king1 Kingsport (www.mundotentacular.blogspot.com)

First, it should be noted that the story takes place in Kingsport, a place we discussed earlier with “The Festival.” It is hypothesized that Kingsport may be one of those placed in our Universe that is a portal or door to a parallel or alternate Universe. “The Terrible Old Man” noted that the three thieves were not of Kingsport blood – this may be a reference to the strange beings, possibly highly evolved, sentient forms of annelid worm (ringed or segmented worms such as earthworms or leeches). Those of Kingsport blood may be related to these extra-dimensional worm entities. Indeed, the unusually long-life and strength of such a “feeble” old man may be due to his unique genetic heritage.

In addition to the potential connection to “The Festival,” the fact that the Terrible Old Man talks to the lead fragments in the bottles and they seem to respond as if in conversation, as well as the names written on the bottles, indicates that the lead fragments may be a means either of storing the consciousness of the named victims and/or serve as a conduit for communication to wherever the victims exist. Is it possible that “Scar-Face,” “Long Tom,” “Spanish Joe,” and the others named, including the three new victims who attempted to rob the old man, are in the other universe referred to at the end of “The Festival?”

the_terrible_old_man_by_pixx_73 The Terrible Old Man by Pixx 73 (www.deivantart.com)

Finally, it is particularly interesting that the fragments suspended in the bottles are specifically noted to be lead. Lead is one of the first metals ever utilized by humans.  The oldest known use of lead is a lead figurine from Egypt that dates to 4,000 B.C. The ancient Romans used lead in the construction of water pipes and lining baths. In the environment lead is typically absorbed onto sediment particles and it generally not a toxic problem under most natural conditions.  However, like many heavy metals as the pH becomes acidic and there is an increase in hydrogen ions, this increases the mobilization of heavy metals including lead. It is when the lead is mobilized or in a dissolved state that it can be assimilated by organisms and result in physiological damage.

inside-flint-pipes-min-tang-and-kelsey-pieper Corrosion of pipes and the mobilization of lead has led to negative health impacts on the residents of Flint, Michigan, with a particularly strong impact on the children.

The mobilization of lead in water can have a devastating impact on aquatic life as well as that of humans. This last point was clearly demonstrated in Flint, Michigan, where river water (Flint River) was used instead of lake water (Lake Huron) as a source of potable water for the residents of Flint. The river water is 19 times more corrosive than the lake water and no anti-corrosive agent was being used to treat the water. Thus, the more corrosive river water mobilized the lead in the aging service lines to the homes of the community, where almost 42% of the residents live below the poverty line (www.cnn.com). Such negligence has a direct and negative impact on health of these residents.


Lead can have devastating impacts on human health, particularly children. The metabolism of lead is similar to that of calcium so excess lead can be deposited in the bone, where it can remain for years. Inorganic lead poisoning can produce fatigue, sleep disturbance and anemia. Severe lead exposure by children, primarily through ingestion, can lead to encephalopathy and mental retardation. Finally, organic lead (lead attached onto a carbon molecule) has an affinity for the brain and can result in insomnia and restlessness and in higher levels of exposure result in delirium, hallucinations, convulsions, coma and even death (A Textbook of Modern Toxicology by Ernest Hodgson and Patricia E. Levi, 1987).the_terrible_old_man_by_monicagarciaart-d6kbodh The Terrible Old Man by Monica Garcia art (www.deivantart.com)

In addition to the documented toxicological impacts of lead, a study has recently come out from some researchers at Harvard University and U.C. Berkeley that rates of violent crime, in particular homicide, considerably increased between 1921 and 1936 in cities where lead service pipes were installed in the late 19th century (Feigenbaum and Muller, 2016; Lead Exposure and Violent Crime in the Early Twentieth Century). The study does admit that if lead exposure does increase crime, it is only one of several factors that include, but are not necessarily limited to, local crime as well as economic and sociological circumstances. However, the studies did use several different methodologies to arrive at the same conclusion.

Was the terrible old man’s violent nature at least partially attributed to his exposure to high amounts of lead, associated with him handling the lead fragments? Were his conversations with the lead fragments in the named bottles communications with his victims from another universe or was this behavior a result of a combination of delirium and hallucinations as result of his exposure to organic forms of lead? If people have actually witnessed the lead fragments vibrating in response to the old man’s discussions there may be more to this; however, some degree of lead poisoning may also account for the old man’s terrible and violent nature.

the_terrible_old_man_by_snoopymd-d9gppc1 The Terrible Old Man by Snoopymd (www.deviantart.com)

Next time we will initiate a series of discussions on “Through the Gate of the Silver Key” co-written by H.P. Lovecraft and E. Hoffmann Price. Thank you – Fred

Are the Winged Things in Lovecraft’s “The Festival” the Byakhee?

“A horde of tame, trained hybrid winged things that no sound eye could ever wholly grasp, or sound brain ever wholly remember. They were not altogether crows, nor moles, nor buzzards, not ants, nor vampire bats, nor decomposed human beings; but something I cannot and must not recall. They flopped limply along, half with their webbed feet and half with their membranous wings…”


A Byakhee by Michael Bukowski (www.yog-blogsoth.blogspot.com)

This is a description of the strange winged beasts that the entities in H.P. Lovecraft’s “The Festival” rode at the end of that tale, deep into some underground caverns beneath Kingsport. Some call these beasts byakhee however, it should be noted that Lovecraft never used this word in describing these creatures. August Derleth used the word byakhee to describe similar creatures in several of the chapter-stories in The Trail of Cthulhu. According to The Encyclopedia Cthulhiana, 2nd Edition by Daniel Harms (1998) the byakhee were first described in Derleth’s tale “The House on Curwen Street;” however, the word byakhee is first used in the chapter-story “The Watcher From the Sky.”

There has been no definitive confirmation that Derleth’s byakhees are the same strange, winged steeds from Lovecraft’s “The Festival.” In Derleth’s stories the byakhees are described as “…a great bat-like bird…” and “…monstrous black-winged bat-like creature…” Thus, while Derleth’s byakhees are morphologically similar to Lovecraft’s winged beasts in the “The Festival,” the descriptions are not exact and thus they may be two distinctly different organisms. At a minimum they may be two distinct species within the same genus.


Byakhee by King Ovrats (www.deviantart.com)

In Lovecraft’s “The Festival” it has been hypothesized that the strange winged beasts would transport the inhabitants of Kingsport to a parallel universe, possibly the Dreamlands. Evidence for this was presented in the previous article. The winged beasts may have carried the strange inhabitants into an alternative Kingsport through some underground caverns underneath the city; in fact, the protagonist of the tale may have visited this alternative Kingsport.

In Derleth’s stories individuals drink a golden liquid called “space mead” and go to sleep. In their dreams the byakhees are called with a whistle and a chant. The summoned byakhee can then transport the individual to another time or place, which may also include a parallel universe. According to S. Petersen’s Field Guide to Cthulhu Monsters (Sandy Petersen, Tom Sullivan and Lynn Willis, with Peter Dannseys, E.C. Fallworth, L.N. Isinwyll and Ivan Mustoil; Chaosium Inc., 1988), the byakhee have an organ called a hune that is “attuned to the galactic magnetic field.” In interstellar space the hune can generate a space-time pattern called a keim. Within this keim field the byakhee can supposedly travel up to 400 times faster than that of light. Beyond this very little else is known about the keim field and how it is generated by the byakhee’s hune.


Byakhee by Tom Sullivan (from S. Petersen’s Field Guide to Cthulhu Monsters)

It is unlikely that anything in our universe can travel faster than the speed of light much less 400 times faster than light. Even if Derleth’s winged beasts are from another universe with alternative natural laws, it is still highly unlikely that they travel 400 times the speed of light. Assuming this 400 times faster than light is based on the collection of actual empirical data, an alternative hypothesis would be that the winged beast can travel through higher dimensions outside of our space-time and then re-enter in a different time or place. Such interstellar travel in the blink of an eye would appear to be faster than light, similar to Keziah Mason or Walter Gilman’s ability to travel within and between universes with the aid of higher forms of inter-dimensional mathematics. Thus, the hune organ within the byakhee may naturally preform the same function and through the generation of the keim field. A clue to how the hune accomplishes this task may be in the phrase that this organ is “attuned to the galactic magnetic field.”

It is interesting to note that while the galactic magnetic field is mentioned in Peterson’s Guide (1988), actual confirmation of a galaxy-sized magnetic field was only recently discovered in June of 2015. An optical / radio telescope study of the galaxy IC 342 (approximately 10 million light years away from Earth), identified a magnetic field coiled around the galaxy’s main spiral arm. These observations help to explain how galactic spiral arms are formed and also how gases can be funneled toward the center of the galaxy, which possibly contains a black hole that uses this steady flow of gases to generate new stars. The study also helps to support the idea that gravity alone could not create the spiral arms of a galaxy; thus, magnetic fields must also play an important part in the creation of spiral arms. This work was conducted by the National Science Foundation’s Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array Telescope and the Max-Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany. The first image below is a combined optic and radio image of Galaxy IC 342, while the second image below is radio wave image of Galaxy IC 342.


Combined radio/optical image of galaxy IC 342, using data from both the VLA and the Effelsberg telescope. Lines indicate the orientation of magnetic fields in the galaxy (from http://www.public.nrao.edu; CREDIT: R. Beck, MPIfR; NRAO/AUI/NSF; graphics: U. Klein, AIfA; Background image: T.A. Rector, University of Alaska Anchorage and H. Schweiker, WIYN; NOAO/AURA/NSF.).


Large-scale Effelsberg radio image of IC 342. Lines indicate orientation of magnetic fields (from http://www.public.nrao.edu; CREDIT: R. Beck, MPIfR).

Astronomers estimate that there are at least one hundred billion galaxies in the observable universe. If each one is generating a galactic magnetic field, with the definition of a field being a physical quantify in space and time that has energy, that is an incredible amount of energy generated in the cosmos. Maybe the byakhee take advantage of these magnetic fields, lining up (or attuning?) with the flow of the field, receiving a sufficient amount of energy to “unfold” the higher dimensions of space. The use of the galactic magnetic field, by a biological entity to travel faster than the speed of light is interesting hypothesis that should be tested.

Finally, a brief mention of the strange space mead; based on the Derleth stories, an individual needs to drink the mead before traveling on a byakhee. In the first story (The House on Curwen Street) the space mead appears to put the individual into a particularly unique state of slumber that allows one to travel inter-dimensionally. However, in the second story (The Watcher From the Sky) the space mead was still required but it was not explicitly associated with sleep. However the space mead works, maybe it makes the individual more resilient to the stresses of inter-dimensional travel. Thus, if Walter Gilman drank some of the mead before his inter-dimensional travels maybe he would not have experience alien sunburns and punctured eardrums. It would be interesting to conduct a chemical analysis of the space mead.


Byakhee by Imerlo72 (www.deivantart.com).

Next time a discussion will begin on Lovecraftian scientists and their varying roles in Lovecraft’s tales. Also, as a side note I am teaching a class for the spring of 2016 on Watershed Management so the articles may not be posted as frequently and/or they may be shorter in length over the next few months. Thank you – Fred.


Byakhee, version VII by King Ovrats (www.deviantart.com)

Kingsport – Where our Brane and the Dreamlands Brane Meet

H.P. Lovecraft’s “The Festival” may be a documented account of an individual having contact with beings from another world or even parallel universe. More than likely this is another example of the close proximity between our space-time reality and that of the Dreamlands, which exists in another universe.


Kingsport by JMD3 (www.deviantart.com)

As we have previously discussed, one current theory on the structure of reality is that our universe is a four-dimensional island on a “brane” in higher dimensional spaces. Our 4D brane is a lower-dimensional object, floating in a higher-dimensional space (Robert Adler, The Many Faces of the Multiverse – in New Scientist: The Collection, Issue Two: The Unknown Universe, editor Graham Lawton, 2014). In a way, our universe can be thought of as a circle drawn on a balloon, quickly expanding in area as the balloon inflates and increases in volume. This is why the universe “appears” to us as being flat, even though we know it to be curved. Indeed, this has been experimental verified by the WMAP (Wilkinson microwave anisotropy probe) satellite. Based on the inflationary universe theory, the expansion of the universe happened so quick and so fast that whole regions of the universe will forever be beyond our reach (Michio Kaku; Parallel Words: A Journey through Creation, Higher Dimensions and the Future of the Cosmos, 2005).


Proposed Timeline for the Inflationary Universe Theory (www.nature.com)

So according to the inflationary universe theory our universe (or at least our part of the universe) is expanding and according to some of the more generally accepted versions of the theory an accelerated expansion of specific areas of the universe may give rise to budding and the creation of new or baby universes through other big bangs. Attempting to fuse these concepts on the structure of the universe / multiverse with the known physical forces has proven to be very difficult, something that even Einstein failed to do. Currently, the leading theory that has supporting evidence to fuse the multiverse (inflationary universe theory) with the natural forces and varying particles of matter (string theory) together is the M-theory.

As previously mentioned our universe can be thought of as a 4 dimensional brane existing in an 11 dimensional hyperspace (Kaku, 2005). Two branes can be floating microscopic distances away from each and their boundaries can give rise to higher dimensional space, which in turn may serve as a conduit between our universe and another. Thus, it is through the multi-dimensional hyperspace that it may be possible to cross from one brane (or universe) into another. The creation of new universes can give rise to space-time with varying sets of natural laws, which may or may not be conducive to matter and life as well define it. In fact, string theory predicts that there will be approximately 10500 universes (Robert Adler, 2014), each with its own set of physical laws, some similar to ours and others being very different.


The creation of new universes through a budding or bubble process on our 4D Brane (www.wired.com)

So what does this all have to do with a sleepy little New England town during the Yuletide season? Well, of all of the locations identified or suggested by Lovecraft as having connections to other universes, Kingsport seems to be a particularly active site. This connection to another universe through Kingsport has been mentioned in other stories by Lovecraft, such as in “The White Ship” and “The Strange High House in the Mist.” While the Dreamlands are somewhat mentioned in both of these tales, there is no mention of the Dreamlands in “The Festival.”  Still, the connection between Kingsport and the Dreamlands in the other tales supports the idea that what is documented in “The Festival” is another instance of an inter-universal connection through multi-dimensional hyperspace.

The protagonist reached Kingsport in the early evening of Yuletide Eve and states “…on toward the very ancient town I had never seen but often dreamed of.” Right away this indicates that the protagonist has been to a “Kingsport” found in another universe, possibly the Dreamlands. Perhaps he was getting reality and his dreams confused.


Kingsport (wwwthegillmanhouse.tumblr.com)

The other Kingsport was very different from the Kingsport found in the protagonist’s space-time. The “other” town seemed to be disorienting and somehow not quite right. All of the homes appeared to be ancient, no motor cars were seen and while the protagonist was told there were trolleys in Kingsport, there was no evidence that such a mode of transportation was present. No overhead wires were seen. Also, we find out later there is a hospital near the old churchyard on Central Hill in the Kingsport in our space-time. There was no such hospital near the old churchyard in the evening, Yuletide Kingsport.

More evidence that the protagonist was not in our space-time in his Yuletide visit to Kingsport was his description when he turned to look outside of the church threshold and states “…I turned once to look at the outside world as the churchyard phosphorescence cast a sickly glow on the hilltop pavement.  And as I did so I shuddered. For though the wind had not left much snow, a few patches did remain on the path near the door; and in that fleeting backward look it seemed to my troubled eyes that they bore no mark of passing feet, not even mine.” In this “Dreamlands Kingsport” is gravity slightly different relative to Earth’s or are the density of water and the structure of ice slight different?


The “Great White Church” in Kingsport, illustration by Alan D’Amico (www.alandamico.wordpress.com)

In the caverns underneath the church there is “…a belching column of sick greenish flame.” This strange green-colored light casts no shadows and produces no heat like practically all other sources of light familiar to us. The next day when the protagonist is found half dead clinging to some driftwood in Kingsport Harbour (after the previous evening’s bizarre Yuletide rituals, which we will discuss in the next episode), he finds himself in the “Real-world Kingsport” with motor cars, trolleys and buildings of more contemporary architecture.  So the story essentially begins with the protagonist being in the Dreamlands and ending up in our space-time.


The sickly green column of light in the underground caverns of Kingsport, illustration by Dark Precipice (www.deviantart.com)

All of the ideas presented in the story support the hypothesis that “The Festival” documents an encounter in an alternative universe, more than likely the Dreamlands. Next time we will focus on the sentient beings and their hybrid steeds the protagonist encounters in the underground grotto underneath the church. Thank you – Fred.