The Moon Knight : Marvel’s Moonchild

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Most readers of the site, I’m certain, are aware of the concept of Aleister Crowley’s Moonchild. I realize this concept is old material for many of you (and oft repeated in this field), but for those not as versed in the subject matter, I’ve provided a quick break down as I best as I see it to set the baseline of this analysis.

What is the Moonchild?

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Beginning with Crowley’s “Our Lady Babalon and of The Beast wheron She Rideth. Also Concerning Transformations,Magick in Theory and Practice, Book 4, Part III, Crowley states that there are two discernible ways to conceive of a magical body that allows God or some other elemental to manifest as life on this plane of existence:

  • The first is to create a homunculus by building up an “appropriate body from its elements”
    • This method, Crowley states, is very tedious and difficult, as it implies creating a material body out from the cosmos for the express purpose of creating a magical body
      • It is implied, I believe, in Liber CCCLXVII that this methodology of homunculus creation requires the removal of a fertilized egg from the female body, and the future gestation of the egg to survive and develop in an artificial setting
  • The second method is to take an existing life form, drive out the life form’s magical being, and take possession of it

To better understand the second methodology recommended by the Great Beast in respect to the creation of a homunculus, let’s quickly review the work of Liber CCCLXVII De Homunculo.

  • A homunculus is a living being resembling a member of the human species, and with that resemblance, that being carries “intellect and the power of speech,” but lacks a human soul
  • For the first three months of the pregnancy, Crowley states that the fetus does not carry a human soul
    • After such time, the fetus attracts an Ego of it own nature of Karma and the Ego of the Karma combine in some successful way as to prevent miscarriage, stillbirth, or the “birth of an idiot”
  • It is during this initial three month period a magician, if so desired, can block the attachment of a human Ego to the fetus, preventing a) the attachment of a human soul to the fetus and b) providing the means for the Incarnation of some planetary or elemental, non-human spirit
    • However, due to the overwhelming spiritual power and motivation  of the Ego of Man to attach the fetus, the magician’s attempt to prevent this attachment is a “task of colossal awe”
    • The magician is also at odds to combine a spirit that is viable to the fetus as the Karma of the fetus must match the Karma of the elemental Ego

Easy enough, yes?  The work of De Homuncolo, goes on to provide an outline on how to entertain the creation of such a homunculus, which in turn I believe was used by Jack Parsons, Marjorie Cameron, and L Ron Hubbard in the infamous Babalon Workings.  For what it is worth, Liber CCCLXVII is almost comedic in script, and it is alleged that Crowley stated in a letter to Carl Germer:

“Apparently Parsons or Hubbard or somebody is producing a Moonchild.  I get fairly frantic when I contemplate the idiocy of these idiots.”

Whatever the case may be, this is apparently the basis of the Moonchild; through some type of magic, block the power of a human soul and its attempt to attach to the fetus at an early stage of pregnancy, find a elemental attached to the cosmos or the planets wishing to manifest existence on this plane of existence, magically provide for and allow for this fusion of matter and energy, and provide for the birth of a homunculus.  At least in an explicitly, sensational, detailed sense…but let’s not forget the statement in the above Lady Babalon work:

“You take some organism already existing, which happens to be suitable to your purpose. You drive out the magical being which inhabits it, and take possession”

This will be key in the development of this analysis…enough Crowley already, let’s move to stage II of Marvel’s Moonchild.

Khonsu – The Divine Placenta Representative of the Lunar Moon

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Khonsu, as we shall later see in respect to the main character of analysis in this article, has a bit of a mixed personality in ancient times.  Per Thebian mythology, Khonsu was the child, or placenta, of the union of parent deities Amun and Mut.  Known as the “Wanderer,” Khonsu represented the movement of the Lunar Moon’s path across the morning and evening skies.  Being the divine child of the Triad of Deities, or the Triad of Thebes, Khonsu represented the “the lock of youth,” or “the Reckoner of the Life Span.”  Often depicted as a human headed sky deity, Khonsu was also represented as a deity carrying the head of a hawk.   His head dress typically represented a full moon above a crescent moon.

In later religions, Khonsu was made to be a terrifying figure of death and destruction; the “angry one of the gods” who strangled to death lesser deities of the universe and consumed the hearts of the dead.2

Initially, the word Khonsu was thought to derive from the words “placenta” and “king,” or the personification of the Royal or Divine Placenta, and was responsible for the lighting of the Lunar Moon, human and animal fertility, and associated with “the termination, healing, extension, and regeneration of life.” 3

Watterson argues in her book Gods of Ancient Egypt that future research indicated Khonsu is ultimately derived from the verb “to cross over,” or “he who traverses [the sky].”4

A bit of a mixed bag, Khonsu will share some qualities with a Marvel superhero character created by Doug Moench and artist Don Perlin in 1975.  With that said, let’s proceed to phase III of Marvel’s Moonchild…

Marc Spector Meets Khonshu

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Meet Marc Spector.  Spector is a “gifted” soldier of fortune.  He is a veteran of three African wars, five South American revolutions, and has experience as a CIA adviser.  His resume includes : weapons expertise, martial arts expertise, experience as an ex-prizefighter, and a US Marine commando background.

The story presented of Marc Spector begins with an apparent terrorist campaign in Africa in the late 1970’s/ early 1980’s. As depicted in The Macabre Moon Knight! (writing credits to Doug Moench), we meet Spector as a member of a team of terrorists, led by a warlord by the name of the Bushman in Africa; during this campaign, Spector apparently begins to have a change of heart regarding his occupation as a hired gun, and devises a plan to leave The Bushman’s militia.  At that same time, a father / daughter archaeological team, located near the militia, are concerned that the Bushman and company will raid their archaeological encampment and melt down their gold archaeological findings for wealth.

The father of the team, grabbing a gold dagger from what appears to be discovered from a previous dig, attempts to assassinate the Bushman;  Spector, standing nearby, breaks up the assassination attempt.  The Bushman then snaps the neck of the father, and Spector, having heard the request from the dying father to save the father’s daughter, later attempts to scare the daughter away from the area with the threat of death.  At some later point in time, the Bushman’s militia executes the remainder of the civilian archaeological team in cold blood in order to take control of the archaeological findings; Spector steps in, voices his opposition to the Bushman and his tactics, and is beaten down by the Bushman and dragged into the desert to die.

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Symbolically, Spector is now leaving the embrace of the Sun; the Sun is ultimately killing the mercenary as he wanders through the desert landscape.  Fortunately for Spector, against the back drop of the crescent Moon, he manages to happen upon the second part of the father/daughter archaeological team, Marlene Alraune, and collapses within a nearby temple she too happens to have residence in.

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It is at this time that Spector apparently dies from dehydration and the influence of the Solar Sun…

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And then is reborn with the spirit of the Lunar Moon; resurrected as one with the Divine Placent, the Lunar deity known as Khonsu…

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Marc Spector, an origin story…a harbinger of death, who in turn finds death courtesy of the Solar Sun, who in turn is resurrected by the Lunar Moon; the Egyptian deity known as Khonsu. Returning to Crowley’s statement:

“You take some organism already existing, which happens to be suitable to your purpose. You drive out the magical being which inhabits it, and take possession”

The Solar Sun has driven the magical being out of the corpse of Marc Spector; Marc Spector is now possessed with essence of the Lunar Child of Amun and Mut, Khonsu.

The Four Phases of Marc Spector

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What I find interesting about the story line is that the character that is ultimately Moon Knight isn’t a simple dichotomy of a super hero; there isn’t a Bruce Wayne/Peter Parker vs Batman/Spider Man plot line.  Instead, the creators of Moon Knight decided to give the character four unique personality types after the character’s previously discussed Resurrection and return to the United States.  These include:

Marc Spector

Again, as noted before, this character is the origin of Moon Knight, and was/is a heavy asset of the United States Military Industrial Complex.

Steven Grant

The Bruce Wayne archetype, Steven Grant is the millionaire personalty who parlays his soldier of fortune bounties into a Wall Street fortune.  In line with his ties to the Military Industrial Complex, Spector’s character apparently also has a Wall Street connection; Spector made the bulk of his fortune through the buying and selling of shares of a certain copper mining company  that had ties to an African mountain range that Spector had once used as a base of warfare/possible CIA operations.

Interestingly enough, it is Grant who appears to be the personality preferred by Marlene. As it turns out, after the Spector and Marlene adventure in Africa, Marlene has chosen to return to the United States as the partner/love interest of Spector/Grant.

Jake Lockley

A taxi driver’s profession chosen of all things, Spector uses Lockley’s character to infiltrate the streets and stay current on rumours of the night.  Two key contacts in Lockley’s arsenal are waitress/diner owner by the name of Gena, Gena’s two sons, and an interesting character by the name of Crawley. More on him in a bit.

Moon Knight

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And then of course, the character of Moon Knight, and his assorted gadgets, skill sets, and weapons.  Accompanied by his former soldier of war associate by the name of Frenchie, enormous wealth generated by insider trading, and later using a very odd UFO/Moon looking helicopter to roam the skies at night, Moon Knight’s hunts the streets of New York City in search of judgement and punishment.  When the Moon is full, Moon Knight appears to have “supernatural” strength; when the Moon is New, Moon Knight has the baseline strength of Marc Spector.  It is alluded that this strength to Lunar phase correlation is due to an early conflict with Marvel’s Werewolf, but later is inferred to responsible to Khonsu’s possible possession of Spector’s dead corpse.

Side Note I : The Use of Water as an Agent of Transmutation (Millionaire Style)

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What appears obvious on the part of the writers of this set of stories attached to Moon Knight is that the character has no need or desire to return to Marc Spector.  It is apparent that the personality of interest is Steven Grant; not only does Spector want to bury his military industrial background, but so does his love interest, Marlene.  Featured numerous in this compilation of stories is the use of water to “reset” the character of Moon Knight back to Steven Grant.  As an example:

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Returning to one of my favorite reference books, Cirlot’s A Dictionary of Symbols, I’d like to summarize a few key points of interest regarding water and its symbolism:

  • Egyptian mythology held that any volume of water represented the primeval ocean and prime matter
    • All solid bodies existed in this state of prime matter prior to the acquisition of “form and rigidity”
  • Alchemy attributed the term water to quicksilver whilst quicksilver was in its first stage of transmutation
  • Mesopotamian cosmogony attached the symbolism of water to the mysterious abyss, or “unfathomable, personal Wisdom”
    • Waters represent fons et origo, or source and origin, which precedes all form and creation

And more relevant to the conversation at hand, immersion into this prime matter or fons et origo:

“signifies a return to the preformal state, with a sense of death and annihilation on the one hand, but of rebirth and regeneration on the other”

Immersion into water dissolves and returns all forms back to a fluid state, wherein the dissolved elements can later be reorganized into different forms.  Impurity is washed away to allow for purity, and to possibly allow for death to be resurrected as life.

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As is the case with the character of Moon Knight, we see on multiple occasions the character of Marc Spector attempting to rid himself of the personality of Moon Knight by diving into a pool filled with water; what I find interesting is that the character Spector is attempting of resurrect his “pureness” as Steven Grant, not as a redeemed Marc Spector.  This confusion, undoubtedly, will play into the Moon Knight mythos in the future of the comic book.

Side Note II : The Lunar Moon as a Symbol of Sleep, Insanity, and Death

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Returning to the previous notion that the media, comic book or otherwise, perpetuates an association of the Lunar Moon to sleep, insanity, and death.  Let’s take a quick run down on all three.

Sleep

Imagery depicted directly to sleep is non existent; of course, if one parlays sleep into human unconsciousness, and the nightmares that live deep within it, sleep is a very important part of the Moon Knight mythos.  You have an individual who has profited greatly from the military/industrial/Wall Street complex, and having possibly felt some guilt and regret for the actions of his former self, attempts to resurrect three new personalities to atone for the former self.  Of course, this attempt to carry varied, compartmentalized personalities leads to …

Insanity

Another interesting character development on the part of the authors is the inclusion of dissociative  identity disorder .  Dissociative identity disorder, as defined by the Google Machine, states that the disorder is “characterized by the presence of two or more distinct personality identities.  Each may have a unique name, personal history , and characteristics.”

The main character of the Moon Knight series initially has no issues keeping the identities separate from one another; his significant other, Marlene, however, initially begins to comment on the multiple personalities, and shows interest in Spector’s Grant persona.  As the story line moves forward, the writers begin to embrace the possibility of conflict and confusion of a Spector/Grant/Lockely/Moon Knight, and Moon Knight’s ability to compartmentalize the four personalities begins to crack as Moon Knight : Bad Moon Rising, Volume 1, concludes.

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Death

As discussed above, the origin of this Marvel character is predicated on the death of a mercenary by the name of Marc Spector.  It is only through the influence of the Lunar Deity Khonsu that resurrection is possible.

As of this edition, the character of Moon Knight apparently is not a vigilante predicated on execution for a means of judgement and vengeance. There are two deaths in volume I of the collected works; one in which a villain throws his body on a sword that Moon Knight holds; the second, the death Marc Spector’s brother, Rand Spector, who apparently suffers from a more severe form of multiple personality disorder, and becomes a serial killer known as the Hatchet Man.

Returning to the Crowley Correlation and the Moonchild: Ankh-f-n-Khonsu

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Returning to the intro, let’s take a second look at that much repeated phrase found in this area of research: the Moonchild.  During Aleister Crowley’s fabled Cairo Working, it is speculated that one of the magical triggers for the working was a painted Egyptian funeral stele of the Twenty-fifth Dynasty belonging to the preist Ankhef-en-Khonsu.  Ankef-en-Khonsu meant “may he live as the traveler,”and depicted a priest who chose to worship the deity Khonsu.

The author Peter Levenda takes this line of thought further in his book The Dark Lord. Levenda speculates that that this royal or divine placenta, this child of Mut and Amun, embodied as the Lunar Moon is referred to, multiple times, in Crowley’s Book of the Law.  Crowley, Levenda argues, is ultimately associating himself with this Moonchild, Khonsu, and is acting as the priest Ankhef – en – Khonsu did hundreds of years ago.  Representing the spirit of Khonsu, Crowley is indeed identifying himself as the child-god who defends the king; in this case, Crowley is defending the archeytpe of Amun, or the “Hidden God.”

What if the basis of Crowley’s homunculus wasn’t necessarily an alchemical construction or possession of a fetus in the early stages of its mother’s pregnancy?  What if Crowley insisted on a personal, magical kinship to the Deity known as Khonsu, and in turn, placed the creation of a magical being instead on the hypothesis that one could be possessed by an elemental of the cosmos; one could be possessed by the essence of Isis, Jupiter, Mars, or in this unique case, the Lunar Moon?  By removing the dreaded Ego of man or woman, Incarnation and manifestation of some grander Elemental essence was possible at any point in a human being’s life span.

It is also interesting to note that a main character of the Moon Knight mythos contains a homeless gentleman/informant by the name of the Crawley.  As one reads through the material, the character is consistently presented as disheveled and surrounded by a cloud of flies.  It will be interesting to see where the writers take this character’s development in future installments (or past installments, depending on whether you’ve read this story line before I have). My initial guess is that there is more to the intent and design of the Crawley character, but I could well be very wrong.

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Other Interesting Facts Related to The Marvel Epic Collection Moon Knight Volume 1

A collection of random statistics I thought to summarize while putting this article together (in percentages…like Moon Knight and Khonsu, I too apparently have different personalities, one of which is that of a cost accountant that uses spreadsheets for data analysis):

  • Other Marvel Characters Met in Bad Moon Rising
    • The Werewolf, Fantastic Four’s The Thing, Spider-Man, the Incredible Hulk, Nick Fury, The Defenders
      • Wonderful story featuring the Defenders and a villain called Scorpio who, in the spirit of Jack Kirby and the essence of Crowley’s Our Lady Babalon and of The Beast wheron She Rideth. Also Concerning Transformations , creates a group of eleven homoculi who embody the essence of the cosmic Zodiac through the harnessing of the Solar Sun
  • Left versus Right Handed Symbolism
    • The artists of Moon Knight use a left hand/left foot strike image 48% of the time
    • A right hand/right foot strike is depicted 52% of the time
      • I did ignore images where simultaneous left/right strikes were depicted
  • Frequency of Personalities Featured
    • Marc Spector is featured/mentioned approximately 18% of the time
    • Steven Grant is featured/mentioned approxiamately 23% of the time
    • Jake Lockely is featured/mentioned approxiamately 18% of the time
    • The Moon Knight wins out and is featured 41% of the time
  • Frequency of Panels Depicting the Lunar Moon
    • The Full Moon is depicted 79% of the time Luna is drawn
    • The Crescent Moon is featured 18%
    • Quarter/Gibbious phases are depicted less than 3% of the time

And one more odd image included here that caught my eye on first glance:

Sure, Pegasus is the winged horse that represented Mobil Oil…a likely a strange coincidence of words and feelings too, but interesting nonetheless, especially considering the panels being placed in The Defenders vs Zodiac Moon-children story briefly described above.

A Preliminary Conclusion

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With all that being said, what was the point of me spending so much time writing and researching this article?  My initial inclination to investigate and analyze this Marvel comic book character was the curiosity of what memes or symbolism were attached the Lunar Moon in the Marvel Universe, circa late 1970′ and early 1980’s, as discussed with a recent chat with Crrow777. Fortunately for me, the Moon Knight series did not let me down and led me to areas of Crowley, alchemy, and Egyptian Lunar Worship.  Findings I found meaningful:

  • Inferences of death, insanity, and possibly sleep within the Volume I of the collected works of The Moon Knight
  • Solar Hero / Lunar Hero archetype construction
    • The death of a fictional character by means of the Solar Sun leads to the resurrection of a superhero symbolized by the Lunar Moon
  •  A resurrected superhero who created three unique personalities after his resurrection, and, who over time, begins to have difficulty compartmentalizing the sum of four, total personalities
    • Also of interest is that Moon Knight’s superhuman powers are tied to the phases of the Lunar Moon
  • Khonsu, known as the Divine Placenta of the Moon, or possibly the original Moonchild, was a point of emphasis and focus on the personal philosophy of Aleiseter Crowley
  • As Crowley stated, to create a homunculus, a second means is to an “existing life form, drive out the life form’s magical being, and take possession of it”
    • The Sun drives out Spector’s existing life form’s magical being, and allows for the completion of the homunculus in the form of the spirit of the Lunar Moon
  • Alchemical symbolism related to the Lunar Moon, water, and the attempt to reduce multiple personality disorder through possible transmutation of the psyche by diving into a luxurious mansion’s swimming pool

 

And, at the end of the day, the discovery of Khonsu:  an Egyptian, Magical Moonchild that inspired Aleister Crowley, and later, a ancient deity writers chose to personify as a Marvel superhero known as Moon Knight

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All things considered, not bad for a comic book created in the mid-1970’s by creative writer Doug Moench and artisy Don Perlin, and a solid start for a fledgling researcher hoping to understand more about the Greater Mysteries.  Looking at future anthologies to buy, and the writers attached to them, I am curious to see what the Marvel collective unconscious (or agenda) does with the characters’s development and evolution.  And with a possible pending Netflix/Disneycorp presentation of the Moon Knight in the future, I can hardly wait to see how this character is portrayed to a larger audience in the near future.

If you are still  here: apologies to any one who has spent time on this post who is already familiar with the character and plot line of Moon Knight; I haven’t read any of the Marvel literature regarding the character, but plan to continue to read, analyze, and present future anthologies I have yet to work through.  Being a Batman fan as a child, this is an interesting character in the Marvel Mythos to work through, so please stay tuned. As always, please feel free to drop a line or point out something I’ve possibly misinterpreted. And feel free to reach out to me as well with any questions.

Hart G. A Dictionary of Egyptian Gods and Goddesses. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul; 1986.

Pinch G. Handbook of Egyptian Mythology. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO; 2002.

 Asante MK, Mazama A. Encyclopedia of African Religion. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE; 2009.

Watterson B. The Gods of Ancient Egypt. New York, NY: Facts on File; 1984.

Webb D. Overthrowing the Old Gods: Aleister Crowley and the Book of the Law.

Levenda, P. (2013). The dark lord: H.P. Lovecraft, Kenneth Grant and the Typhonian tradition in magic. Lake Worth, FL: Ibis Press.

 

One thought on “The Moon Knight : Marvel’s Moonchild

  1. Pingback: Rosetta and Philae : An Isis Fairy Tale – Sagesigma Unbound

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