LET NOT MY TEARS FALL UNNOTICED:
BEING THE SECRET JOYS OF A LACHRYMIST
BLAIR MacKENZIE BLAKE
“O’ Stone Lid of the Coffin, Shut!
To cut the Breath of the Sleeper;
That the Hands of Death may reach out,
Draw him down and ever deeper.
To dissolve amid the Endless years;
To drink from Hell’s own tear-fill’d cup.
Who once wast mourn’d is now the Weeper.”
-Andrew D. Chumbley
Of the many mysteries surrounding the prog-metal band Tool, in the early years, perhaps none was more perplexing than the group’s much mentioned interest in the tenets of the philosophy/religion known as Lachrymatory (translated literally as the science or study of crying). According to information provided in the bio included with promotional copies of the album Undertow (which was later made available on several ‘fan’ sites), the soul foundation of the unusual form of psychotherapy that so fascinated the four band members came from a book entitled The Joyful Guide to Lachrymology which was supposedly written in 1949 by a “crop-spray contractor” named Ronald P. Vincent. In fact, from remarks made by band members during the Undertow-era, so influential was Vincent’s book that it became the very inspiration for the formation of Tool, as well as being a unifying force among its individual members. But was the philosophical basis of Lachrymolgy really “a ‘tool’ to learn and gain from” as drummer Danny Carey once explained the band’s name? After searching for Vincent’s book and coming up empty handed (it wasn’t even registered in the Library of Congress), many decided to take this strange theology espoused by Tool with a “huge” grain of salt, although some were curious as to why they attempted to hoodwink their fans with a paradoxical belief system that was considered almost doctrinal.
As it stands today, most people who have attempted to investigate the murky origins of Lachrymology as detailed by its elusive founder in his equally elusive book believe that the whole thing was nothing more than an elaborate hoax perpetrated by the band to amuse themselves and their fans, or as a way to further fuel the Tool mystique. Others saw it as a parody on religious cults, in particular on dianetics and the Church of Scientology with the fictional character of Ronald P. Vincent being modeled after L. Ron Hubbard, the third-rate pulp writer and founder of the California based cult.
But even if it was all merely a spoof, to me, the most interesting thing was that it was evident from the various fan sites on the web that even to those who were so quick to dismiss Vincent’s composition as a complete fabrication by the members of Tool, many nevertheless found much credence in the basic principles of Lachrymatory of crying as therapy and the belief that only through pain, both physical and emotional, can one grow, and move on to a higher level of being.
Although these people deemed the essential ideas of the psychotherapeutic process of advancement through pain as worthy of further exploration, to my knowledge, no one ever considered an alternative possibility: that Vincent’s message both conceals and reveals a higher Arcanum. That it was actually a veiled and cryptic path to initiation. Having studied Vincent’s ‘book’ (yes, it really does exist) for many years now, that is exactly what I’ve come to believe The Joyful Guide to Lachrymology is. But not at first. Although I knew that Tool’s guitarist, Adam Jones did possess a copy of the ‘book’, and had met its enigmatic author on at least one occasion, upon reading the ‘guide’ (as it was then referred to) for the first time, I thought the “valid philosophical system” as the band members described Vincent’s school of thought in various interviews was just the incoherent ramblings (much like Hubbard’s science fiction drivel) of a crank who moved to California where he later attempted to establish a cash-cow cult of his own in Hollywood.
But, as I’ve just mentioned, this was after my initial reading. Several months later, for whatever reason (perhaps because the purple prose was so damned purple), I decided to read the thing again (although at the time I wasn’t looking forward to it – such was the author’s dense and, at times, [deliberately?] torturous writing style). This time I began to notice things that I hadn’t ‘seen’ the first time through. These were strange, cryptic little phrases that caused internal bells to sound; no doubt some of them ringing at a deeper subconscious level. After finishing the book and setting it down, I would soon find myself picking it up and starting all over again. The more I read it, the more it seemed to pull me in, until at times I felt like I was trapped in a labyrinth of sorts (and without the benefit of the thread of Ariandne to guide me). With the perverse artistry of its nebulous passages, Vincent’s narrative became a riddle or a puzzle that I somehow needed to solve. It was a mystery that I just couldn’t let go. Like an onion (with its allinase enzymes as a lachrymator – and one that nearly brought me to tears out of sheer frustration), I slowly began to peel away the various layers of subtle meaning until a different picture, or in this case, a different ‘book’ began to emerge. It was around this time that the band went silent on the whole subject of Lachrymology.
Before I proceed to give my opinion of Vincent’s Magnum Opus, let me first attempt to clear up some of the confusion and misconceptions about the ‘book’ itself. The Joyful Guide to Lachrymology that Adam obtained (at a local swap meet many years ago) is not really a book or a novel as it’s been described (privately published or otherwise). Rather, it is a mimeographed copy of a typed short story that reads more like a pseudo diary than anything else. It is only 49 pages long (the number of which I’ve come to realize as being very significant, but I’ll have more to say about that later) with a date typed at the top of the first page that reads 1949. I’ve now reason to believe that the date was specifically chosen to include the number 49, even though the ‘book’ may have actually been written at a later time, possibly in the 1950s or even the 1960s.
Keeping in mind that according to most people Vincent’s book doesn’t really exist because evidently no one other than Adam Jones has been able to procure a copy* (and as it’s not listed in any catalogs), I feel at this time that I should mention a couple of other similarly mysterious ‘occult’ books which may have been seized and suppressed, but whose existence was known to a select few.
According to Kenneth Rayner Johnson in his well-researched book, The Fulcanelli Phenomenon, in 1910 there appeared in France the private publication by an anonymous author of a book entitled Voyage en Kaleidoscope. On the surface, this appeared to be just another romance novel, but in actuality, if we are to believe his sources who the author describes as authorities on western esotericism , it was an alchemical treatise in disguise. For those with eyes to see, or so the sources from these Parisian occult circles acknowledged, some of the most carefully-guarded secrets of the Art were openly displayed in the esoteric symbolism of the book’s cover design. Still, other encoded instructions could be found in the actual phraseology of various sections of the text itself, including the name of the prima materia and all-important details as to the correct heating methods (furnace) of the alchemical process. The day after a small celebration of the book’s publication (amongst a few close friends), the anonymous author fell ill with a sudden fever and died. Although the cause of death was attributed to accidental poisoning from tainted oysters, those close to the author believed that the oysters were deliberately infected. A week later all but two copies of the book were purchased by “persons unknown” and destroyed, with the two surviving copies said to be in the private libraries of contemporary occultists. Just as The Joyful Guide to Lachrymology wasn’t registered with the Library of Congress, neither had Voyage en Kaleidoscope been officially registered in the catalog of the French Bibliotheque Nationale. Another similar case would be the strange history and mysterious circumstances surrounding the burning on the lawn at Bury House, Gosport, Hampshire in 1850 of almost the entire stock of Mary Anne Atwood’s A Suggestive Inquiry into the Hermetic Mystery (a book which has since been reprinted from a copy that survived the bonfire after the issue of the book was abruptly stopped).
* This despite the fact that urban dictionary.com describes Lachrymology as: A pop-philosophical of-sorts religion having its origins in the book “The Joys of Lachrymatory” (sic) by Vincent. Vaguely Nietzschean in tone, it has received a popularity boost of late due to the four members of the band ‘Tool’ being alleged proponents.
“The Knower of Truth should go about the world outwardly stupid like a child, a madman or a devil.” – Mahavakyaratnamala
Okay, so far we’ve seen just a couple examples of books that, for whatever reason, were for the most part destroyed by those who wished to prevent their distribution with a few copies surviving as ‘proof’ of their existence. But what about the author of The Joyful Guide to Lachrymology himself? From what I could gather from conversations with band members as well as from examining several old photographs of the author that had been inserted between the pages of the mimeographed short story, at first, although he might not have been the lunatic that I originally thought, Ronald P. Vincent was still a complete enigma. He was definitely a knave of sorts as is evident by the ludicrous story recounted in the Undertow-era bio stating that “In the late summer of 1948, Ronald P. Vincent decided that survival had become intolerable, that absolute anguish had become less fearful than suppression (my italics). Six months earlier, his wife had been dismembered in a tragic accident involving a snow plough, and from that moment on the crop-spray contractor’s life had become an unrelenting nightmare.” Although this might explain why many Tool fans came to regard the whole Lachrymology thing as a “snow job”, the story is, in my opinion, both laughingly tenebrific and terrifically absurd.
Over the years I have come to regard Vincent as both a clownish prankster and as a genuine seeker of knowledge. Despite a great deal of chicanery, he was someone who possessed a profound and intimate knowledge of things that have hitherto remained occult (i.e. hidden). He was a high adept who left an important (and at times even perspicuous) al-Khem-cal tract before walking off into the Transcendent Sunset. But there is an even better way to describe him. He is what was known as a Harlequin. The definition of a Harlequin is “a jester connected with the devil in French medieval mystery plays.” He has also been described as a clownish character who teaches by playing ludicrous tricks. Even though in the photos of Vincent that were stuck between the pages, the author wasn’t attired in the traditional garb of the pantomime clown – that is with clothing consisting of triangular multicolored patches*, with his face painted black (for wise), and carrying a staff (the original ‘slapstick’ that later evolved and became the magic wand), I nevertheless could easily imagine him as acting the buffoon as he imparted the wisdom of the “solitary, wandering Sufi teacher.” In writing of the Harlequin, Kenneth Rayner Johnson states: “He made paradoxical statements which, superficially, might have seemed mere buffoonery and clowning to the non-initiate. But they were, in fact, designed to trigger alternative thought-processes and frames of reference, rather like the seemingly illogical koans of Zen Buddhism.”
* In one photo, however, he is wearing a ‘patchwork’ flannel shirt.
But let’s take another look at the word itself: Fr. Harlequin, arlequin from Ofr. Hellequin.According to the author of The Fulcanelli Phenomenon, the name harlequin itself is derived from an Arabic play on words signifying ‘great door’ and ‘confused speech.’ Both of these will become important later. From my research into the Egyptian Tarot, I knew that the harlequin was related to The Devil trump card (see Aleister Crowley:, The Book of Thoth), which was, itself, attributed to the Hebrew letter ayin (0) which, according to occultists, represents the eye (as in the Watchers or Fallen Angels)
It is important to note that the there is a close connection between The Devil, The Fool, and the Harlequin. However, with regards to the Devil, there is an interesting footnote to my researches into The Joyful Guide that I’d now like to share with you. One night, while visiting with certain band members and talking about Vincent, someone in the room suggested that I check to see if his name might not be an anagram for something else. Admittedly, the thought hadn’t occurred to me before. Within minutes we typed Ronald P Vincent into an anagram program on the Internet ( I believe it was http://www.wordsmith,org/anagram) and waited for the results. And there were plenty of them, hundreds of different word combinations, but none of them seemed to spell out anything but garbled nonsense. After about a half an hour of sitting in the darkened room alone, straining my eyes as I scrolled down the seemingly endless column of meaningless arrangements of letters, suddenly there was something that caused me to lift my hand from the mouse. Under my breath I jokingly uttered “Bingo.” What I saw was DNA CLOVEN PRINT! Immediately I called the others into the room. My friend Camella Grace came in first, and stared at what I was pointing to on the computer screen with a mock-nervous laughter. She then went to get Adam who didn’t believe it until he saw it for himself.
When I scrolled down to check for other possible anagrams, NOTHING else even remotely substantial turned up, with all the other (English) words, such as the intriguing ‘NOVEL’, ‘PAIN’, and ‘LATIN’ all containing additional letters that rendered the phrase meaningless. As exciting as the DNA CLOVEN PRINT phrase was, knowing that DNA hadn’t yet been ‘discovered’ in 1949 (the date typed in Vincent’s pseudo-diary), I felt this was just a coincidence, but it certainly was a strange coincidence (and if the story was written at a later date as I strongly suspect it was, than maybe the DNA anagram should be more than just a footnote).
Writing in his The Book of Thoth, Crowley states that the Harlequin is an aspect of that fellow who is clad in motley, the Fool, and makes the important connection to the Coat of Many Colors of Jesus and Joseph, relating this to the iridescence associated with a particular stage of the alchemical process known as the Peacock’s Tail (might this also be related to the fact that peacock’s feathers are covered with eyes?).
Therefore, in the processional Hermetic fair, which itself was a science disguised as a grotesque parody of the Sacred Family (the deeper meaning already lost save for a few illuminated adepts), the Holy Fool was the Savior, the messenger who delivers his people from bondage and who has mystical powers over death (that is, one who has been liberated from the bondage of the ultimate illusion of life itself and who has experienced that which lies outside one’s self [i.e. the unknown universe or multiverse] whilst yet living). As Arcanum number zero, which is attributed to aleph and designated the eleventh path (between Kether and Chokmah) on the Qabalistic Tree of Life, The Fool thus represents the “unmanifest or transcendent.” As I saw it, with his modern-day ‘mystery play’, Vincent was playing the role of the Holy Fool – the crazy man, or mad one who dances on the brink of the abyss (the dominion of Choronzon) and who endeavors to transcend the earthly plane with the completion of the Magnum Opus or Great Work.
In another card of the Major Arcana, Adjustment, (Crowley changed the name of this Tarot trump which in the old pack was called Justice), we are shown a masked (female) harlequin figure who is finely balanced on the tip of her toes within a diamond (teardrop?). Crowley observes that she is “the partner and fulfillment of the Fool, and equates the dance of harlequin with the phantom-show of manifestation. Considering that the significance of the individual cards read by today’s fortune tellers is in all likelihood much different from what their original intended meaning was (although much of which is still relevant), there may be an even deeper occult formula associated with this card, one that Crowley either wasn’t consciously aware of or didn’t want to comment on. However, I am of the opinion that he at least had an inkling of the same portentous mystery that is adumbrated in Vincent’s pseudo-diary For in speaking of this card as the feminine compliment of the Fool, Crowley claims that the letters attributed to it, Aleph Lamed “constitute the secret key of The Book of the Law and that this is the basis of a complete qabalistic system of greater depth and sublimity than any other. The details of this system have not yet been revealed. It has been thought right, nevertheless, to hint at its existence by equating the designs of these two cards.” I believe this is exactly what Vincent was attempting to do in The Joyful Guide to Lachrymology. With the ambiguous symbolism and intentionally abstruse phrases such as “snuffing out the jeweled flame of illusion to find paradise in the black spark divine”, he was hinting at a formula that pertains to the qabalistic supernals that exist beyond the abyss. In order to find the ‘guide’s’ blinding snow-white light, dedicated scholars of the occult, or even better, those who possess certain necessary insights into these matters must first plough through it’s ‘darker’ opacities.
One wonders if it is this same system that was hinted at by Crowley in The Book of Thoth that we are given a foretaste of in Kenneth Grant’s Nightside of Eden (being the fourth book in his Typhonian Trilogies). In the book, Grant alluded to a proposed Nightside Tarot as has been outlined, albeit it in a rather shadowy manner (pun intented) by Robert Taylor in Starfire Magazine Vol. II, No, 2. (being the official organ of the Typhonian O.T.O.).
In the illustration that accompanies the article, as an example of the symbolic designs of the Nightside Tarot, we are shown a card from the Minor Arcana which Taylor (who designed it) tells us is provisionally entitled “The Ace of Stones.” Additionally, this card is said to be “the source from whence the entire pack is born and whence also it returns.” Speaking further of this stone, Taylor observes that the ancient Romans called it the Manalis Lapis meaning The Stone of the Dead, and that the magical glyphs of the Nightside Tarot itself are intended to serve as a gateway to realms of non-human consciousness, with the deck having been described by Taylor as “a latter-day Book of the Dead.” Therefore, it is somewhat similar to the Tarot trump Adjustment from the Thoth pack which in Outside the Circles of Time, the fifth book of the Typhonian Trilogies, Grant, in quoting Soror Andahadna (Nema), observes that “the Tarot trump that seems the most pertinent to the Ma’at eneries is Atu VIII: Adjustment. This formula… is linked to the Sun in a manner that is comprehensible only with reference to the nightside tarot which underlies it.” Ma’at is the key to the Egyptian Mysteries, and is the bridge between man and the gods. Accordingly, it is Ma’at’s symbols, the scales of balance, and the feather that are important here. For as Grant points out: “The magical siddhi (occult power) associated with this tunnel is the ability to balance upon the treacherous and funambulatory way that leads from the negative to the positive in the realm of creative chaos. In other words, it enables the magician to spin a web across the gulf of the Abyss, thus constructing a tenuous and perilous bridge between non-being and being.” (NOTE: If Vincent actually did write The Joyful Guide to Lachrymology in 1949 then it is interesting to consider that the Aeon of Ma’at is the Aeon that is to supersede the present Aeon of Horus, with Frater Achad having announced its inauguration on April 2nd, 1948 – I suppose he just couldn’t have done this on the 1st instead).
It should be evident by now that I don’t think Vincent’s The Joyful Guide to Lachrymology has anything to do with the evolution of one’s self through crying as therapy. As valid as a form of psychotherapy that Lachcrymology may be with regards to inner advancement and psychological development by learning to deal with any emotional and physical pain that has been inflicted upon one’s self, despite the lachrymose poetry, this was not the true message that Vincent was trying to impart to his readers. The tears themselves are NOT those shed by the lachryrmal glands via the eyes, but are the tears SECRETED by one’s third eye (i.e. the pineal gland). Therefore, rather than a psychotherapeutic process as described, it is in reality something wholly different. This is why in the very first sentence of the book Vincent asks his readers to “Let not my tears fall unnoticed.” Although sentences in the guide or manual such as “if raw onion chemistry is responsible for those tears, place a lighted candle nearby, for no worthy lachrymist uses a hamburger garnish to experience that blissful place” might indicate otherwise, there are too many cryptic allusions to things of an occult nature for the truly discerning reader to believe that the pseudo-diary is anything but that: occult. Mere foolishness to men, it is “the wisdom of God” or so Crowley might say: The Hidden Light.
Veiled behind the lachrymose prose, in the (paradoxical) onslaught of colors from Vincent’s tenebrant flame, is a secret formula of magical initiation. With the depressions of spirit and melancholy tone of the work, the author reveals himself to be the ‘Holy Fool’, complete with his crocodile tears (again, the pun is intended here – see Tarot trump Atu 0 for the corresponding symbolism, that which has been ‘Set’ in place).
“On my back and tumbling
Down that hole and back again. Rising up
And wiping the webs and the dew
From my withered eye.” – MJK ( Third Eye)
With regards to the third eye/pineal gland (I’ll assume the association with the faculty of inner sight needs no elucidation), there was one section in The Joyful Guide that I found to be particularly revealing. This pertains to the ‘lachrymology’ in ancient Egyptian mythology where “the God RA wept and his tears fell to the ground and turned into bees.” In his deliberately rambling fashion, Vincent then asks his readers “What kind of honey hunters in ancient Egypt were protected by royal archers? According to the author, this honey in question was not the sweet, syrupy substance made by bees as food from the nectar of flowers and found in the combs of hives. What? Nor was it the honey used for libations, delicacies or in the preparation of cosmetic green eye-paint that was so fashionable among Egyptian women of the time. Pretty soon, bells started sounding, the tintinnabulation of which wouldn’t cease. In my mind Vincent dwelled on this seemingly non sequitortoo long. Although he doesn’t tell us what this other honey was (not without a certain amount of ambiguity, at least), I have come to the conclusion that it was something known as The Golden (or prismatic) Tear of the Eye of Horus, a mysterious substance distilled in the al-Khem-cal vessel. It is these ‘tears of rainbow fire’, as they’re also called by occultists, that facilitates the “Grand Dreaming.”
“Thou hast taken account of my wandering; put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy register?” -PSALM 56:8
When writing about the utchat (amulets with the Eye of Horus symbol) and other paraphernalia of death, Vincent gives a detailed account of the lachrymals (or lachrymatories) of ancient Rome. These lachrymals were small vases, urns or vials that have been found in ancient Roman sepulchers and were believed by latter-day historians to have been receptacles which contained the tears of mourners. However, it is only a modern-day conjecture that these small, narrow-necked tear-shaped bottles were placed in tombs according to an ancient custom of putting the tears of the deceased person’s surviving relatives and friends in them as memorials of affection and sorrow as it is very difficult to find any trace of such a custom in ancient writings. However, according to Vincent, the ancient Romans believed these tears had special powers, and many of these lachrymal urns contained representations of a single eye on them. Often found on tomb reliefs from ancient Egypt, this was the divine eye or egg of the sacred pregnancy whose true meaning continues to elude both Egyptoloical scholarship and most genuine seekers of hidden knowledge. On some of these reliefs, the teardrops shed by the divine eye are shown turning into wings – “the majesty of death’s seraphic wings by which to escape the azure tomb” as Vincent described them.
(NOTE: There is a nice illustration of such a divine eye taken from a vignette of a papyrus in the British Museum on page 49 of a book about mystical biology entitled The Lion Path by Musaios).
“…Ancient fire to quench one’s thirst,
Now deathly cold in the Tomb of Birth…”
– Ronald P. Vincent
Knowing that the ancient Egyptians were preoccupied with death (and the deceased), if this “glitter of the sleepers, the true mumia of the divine embalmer, was what the royal archers were so protective of, then this ‘honey’ or residue of the effusion from the pineal gland may be related to a form of esoteric canibalism that I will dilate on in a projected lengthy commentary on the text of The Joyful Guide to Lachrymology. In the meantime, with regards to the disturbing of the skelet by those after its treasure, verse 49 of Qutub by Andrew D. Chumbley seems apropos:
“Unseen, Who stalked behind o’ Thee
Whene’er Thou dost walk out alone,
Who creepeth nigh all dying men
To separate their flesh from bone;
Then draweth down the dust of Age
To dry the blood spilt on the Page
And hide the Life within the Stone.”
As previously explained, in designing his Thoth deck, Crowley changed the name of the trump card called Justice in the old pack to Adjustment. In doing so, it seems to me that, at least on a subconscious level, he had a glimmering of this certain physiological safe-guards as well as the neurochemical basis of the trans-dimensional experience alluded to by Vincent in his pseudo-diary. With this in mind, the dance of harlequin of Vincent’s could be seen as the precise opposite or antithesis of Crowley’s woman-goddess harlequin, she being “the ultimate illusion which is manifestation; the dance, many-colored, many-wiled of life itself.” This might also explain why Crowley, in commenting on the cards in his The Book of Thoth, draws our attention to the fact that The Fool holds in his left hand a flaming pinecone (even though he claims this indicates vegetable growth) while in his right hand he holds a wand that is tipped to appear diamond-shaped (teardrop?). Could it be that Vincent was one of those rare individuals who entered and emerged through the holy tunnel of the qabalistic sephira known as Da’ath. That which Kenneth Grant calls “the gateway of manifestation of non-manifestation.
To interact with the Jewels of Telling in such an environment or plane of being, that as described in the various ancient guidebooks of the regions of the dead (Egyptian Duat, Tibetan Bardo) which most people today know nothing of (whist yet living) is rare in the extreme. A dark grail indeed.
And if, as the Book of the Dead teaches, it takes 49 days for the soul or life-force of the newly deceased to ‘reincarnate’ (the same amount of days as it takes for the first indication of pineal gland/third eye to appear from the moment of conception), then it is amusing to me that, according to E.E. Rehmus in his The MagicianÕs Dictionary: An Apocalypic Cyclopaedia of Advanced Magic(k)al Arts and Alternate Meanings “On a lower level of understanding, The Fool is the psyche between incarnations, recently divested or not yet possessed of earthly qualities.”
“The Well, that once gave life to Me,
Hath in the Drought of Love run dry.
The Desert’s Soul hath stole all Joy,
And taught the Very Muse to die.
Yet from this Cause of Vast Lament
Run tears – suffice all thirsts to quench:
Tears wept from Secret Pleasure’s Eye.”
– Andrew D. Chumbley