When I reviewed a book on the egregores of occult belief yesterday, I noted that the concept originated from Éliphas Lévi, an occultist and ceremonial magician of the nineteenth century. He first applied the myth of the Watchers to supernatural entities that watch over human activity in 1868, in his book The Great Secret, though this book was not published until 1898. I will confess to not having read Lévi's book, but I was intrigued enough by the references to the Watchers, Giants, and Nephilim to read the chapter about them. This, in turn, surprised me greatly when I saw how Lovecraftian the material was, anticipating by seven decades the idea of titanic supernatural entities beyond time and space and beyond human comprehension, whose random movements affect human actions but which are utterly indifferent to us, as we care nothing for ants and mites. It is no wonder, therefore, that ceremonial magicians suspected that Lovecraft had channeled the same magical powers as Lévi. The similarities are uncanny, but not inexplicable. Lovecraft knew of Lévi's writing from an English translation of some of his work, published in 1896 and 1897, though this book did not include The Great Secret. Drawing on similar source material, both authors had struck upon similar ideas, with Lovecraft bending toward Lévi both because of his reading of him and his reading of secondary sources that discussed his ideas. While The Great Secret was translated into English in 2000, the text is under copyright, so I have translated the relevant chapter for my Library. It is well worth the read, both because of its relevance to understanding the occult version of the Watchers myth and for its anticipation of Lovecraft. My translation can be found here.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Esquire, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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