My hermetic friend
"Contemplate the fire, contemplate the clouds, and when omens appear and voices begin to sound to your soul, abandon yourself to them without wondering beforehand whether it seems convenient or good to do so. Our god is named Abraxas, and he is both the god and the devil at the same time. You will find in him both the world of light and of shadows. Abraxas is not opposed to any of your thoughts nor to any of your dreams, but he will abandon you if you become normal and unapproachable. He will look for another vessel in which to cook his thoughts.”
- Hermann Hesse
Perttu Häkkinen was a significant force in Finnish culture: a well-known electronic musician, non-fiction author and journalist with his own weekly radio-show, which delved into murky, marginal and esoteric subjects. His sudden, accidental death will leave a permanent mark in the landscape of the Finnish collective soul. Perttu Häkkinen had a wife and two children. Because several in-depth eulogies have already been written about him that focus on his significance on a wider, cultural level, I will in turn write about Perttu as a friend – such as I knew him.
Perttu and I connected over our common interest in esoteric subjects, such a the mysteries of the Grail, the mythos of Montsegur in Southern France, the Gnostic diety Abraxas, and many other such topics. We also bonded over our appreciation for at times dionysian revelries and drinking. And so it was the we experienced perhaps our greatest moments together when these two passions converged: we could have an enlightening dialogue about, for instance, the nature of the Gnostic Demiurge or the philosophy of Julius Evola, all the while sitting in a dive bar and carousing the night away. The next day these moments of radiant clarity would be inevitably crystallised in my mind, although the evening would have otherwise descended into chaos. Those moments were convergences of the higher and the lower, the immanent and transcendent – as was the story of Perttu’s life as a whole.
If my memory serves me correct, the first time I went to meet Perttu at his house, the co-author of his book Valonkantajat (“The Lightbearers”), Vesa Iitti, was also present. Our nightly bacchanalia soon took a swirling descent into quite chthonic, atavistic spheres, which involved runic stance and chant, as well as wrestling in the backyard. In the heat of the activities, I forgot my flask and suit-jacket at Perttu’s place. Soon after our evening, I received a message from him: “Ave! Have you missed your jacket and flask? Both are here, although the latter was emptied of its contents during a moment of weakness.”
The next time I visited him, to mark the occasion, he had prepared a sandwich-cake which he decorated with the algiz-rune using cherry tomatoes – knowing that it was a central talisman in my life.
I was a guest on Perttu’s radio-show twice, once to discuss runes, and another time to talk about pilgrimage, about which I had written a book. I also interviewed Perttu on a few occasions. He was a guest on our podcast, Radio Wyrd. We also had a public dialogue organised by Suomalainen Kirjakauppa to promote Perttu’s book, during which we conversed about Aleister Crowley and the Faustian soul. At the end of the talk, I recited Crowley’s classic Hymn to Pan into the microphone: it was a normal afternoon in the bookshop, and some elderly ladies browsing cookbooks were no doubt startled hearing the obscene text - Perttu instead just chuckled contentedly.
The same Hymn to Pan was read at the funeral of Aleister Crowley, without doubt one of the most famous (and infamous) occultists of our time, founder of the religious-magical system Thelema. The hymn was also often heard recited by Jack Parsons, a Thelemite occultist and rocket engineer during rocket launch tests. A few days after Perttu died, there was a memorial gathering held at his site of death. I thought it fitting to recite the Hymn to Pan in his honor one last time. Before the large crowd of people, I raised my voice for the invocatory poem, after which I poured a libation of whisky on the ground.
Once, out of the blue, I received a phone-call from Perttu from Cefalu, Italy. “Hey, tell me how to find that Abbey of Thelema.” The above-mentioned Crowley had in his time founded an abbey in Cefalu, known among its residents as “the Whore’s Cell”. Perttu finally managed to find the ruined abbey, and wrote an insightful column about it. One of our last conversations happened to also be about Crowley, especially about his diaries from Cefalu, The Magical Record of the Beast 666, which Perttu was fond of quoting. In the diaries, Crowley, then at the mid-point of his life, pondered about where his magical path had really led him. I felt that Perttu could relate to that pondering on some level.
Perttu and Vesa were giving a presentation on the subject of their book Valonkantajat at the new age fair Hengen ja Tiedon Messut, and somehow Perttu had managed to convince me to give a talk there also, even though he knew how I felt about such fairs. Moments before I started my lecture, he rushed on stage and poured my cup full of brandy. Then he sat down in the front row, smiled and sipped from his bottle while I gave my polemic speech, which was anything but “feel good”.
One of my fondest memories of Perttu is the time we were at his house with Jykä Varpio, poet and cocktail-alchemist of Radio Wyrd. We were examining the “bleeding stones” Perttu had found in the Pyrenees of Southern France, which have been connected with the Grail. According to a popular theory, the Holy Grail is not a cup, but a stone which fell from Lucifer’s crown when he was cast down from heaven. These stones did in fact bleed a kind of blood-like substance when spit upon and rubbed. Perhaps Perttu had indeed found the Grail.
There was also another moment connected to the Grail that I remember. Via Perttu, I got to meet Richard Stanley, director of the documentary film The Secret Glory, which was about Otto Rahn and his search for the grail. Perttu had just interviewed Stanley after a screening of his film in Helsinki, and we chatted about Otto Rahn, Montsegur and Julius Evola. As I had just been immersed in writing my forthcoming book, which includes a section on Rahn, I found this little moment edifying and inspiring.
I felt that Perttu really knew me on some profound level. Once, as I had returned from a more than two-month long pilgrimage of Europe, where I had travelled from one sacred site to the next, we sat in his study drinking and conversing. I pointed at a portrait of Elias Lönnrot hanging on his wall, which he had received from a relative, and expressed how much I appreciated the picture: “It is inspiring that Lönnrot went around on foot, collecting oral folk poetry and spells, and that he managed with his great work to shed some light on the fleeting holiness of his people”, I said. “That is what you are doing as well”, said Perttu.
Once at the end of a shared jaunt, I somehow ended up safekeeping some paintings for Perttu which he had just bought. The oilpaintings were portraits depicting the children of the now deceased and infamous devil worshipper and nazi Pekka Siitoin. The pictures haunted my hallway for a few weeks, until I finally got to return them to Perttu - much to the dismay of his wife.
Something telling about about Perttu’s endless curiosity and objectivity is revealed in the fact that he explored magick not just in theory, but also in practice. Perttu would not, for instance, deny the possibility that he might have mistakenly summoned up some sort of malicious spirit with his workings, which was now locking random doors and in other ways disturbing the life of his house. From meditation, on the other hand, Perttu told me that he had found a new kind of inner serenity.
At times Perttu moved, in addition to liminal spaces, also in quite murky waters, dealing in his writings and programs with genuinely disturbing subjects, so much so that I sometimes wondered how he kept from loosing his head. But Perttu was a genuinely Faustian soul, and was ready to go to great lengths for knowledge, no matter what the cost. It has also been said that laughter is the best form of banishing ritual, and Perttu was truly one of the funniest people I have ever met. His quirky and iconoclastic sense of humour, along with his eternal playfulness, shone a light into the dark territories which he sometimes dealt in, and he made me laugh like few others.
Perttu did not long to simply be around like-minded people. He was genuinely able to appreciate differing opinions and worldviews, and had friends from many disparate, even probably mutually hostile cirlces. He especially valued individuals with bold and original views, even if he did not agree with them. In contrast, he hated mob-mentality and so-called “call-out culture”, the targets of which genuine dissidents often are, such as he himself a few times.
Perttu was a manifestation of the Hermes archetype. He wore a pendant depicting Thot, the Egyptian god of wisdom, magic, science and writing, who the ancient Greeks connected with Hermes and the Romas equally with Mercury. Mercury-Hermes is also the escort of the dead to Hades. As these divine figures, Perttu traveled between our world and the underworld, brining messages and knowledge from the heights and the depths, transforming them to become a part of mainstream culture via alchemical means. For this reason I put out libations of spirit drinks on our household altars, along with a suitable card from Crowley’s Thot-Tarot deck, depicting the Magician, Mercury.
On the night Perttu died, we at my family’s old ancestral villa on the sandy beach by a ritual fire, gazing up at the stars in the hopes of seeing a shooting star from the Perseiden meteor shower. The next morning, autumn was in the air. We planted a tree, an oak, and I was reminded of an old Latvian pagan prayer: “The gods look favourably on those who plant trees along roads, on farms, holy sites, at crossroads and by houses. If you marry, plant a wedding-tree. If a child is born, plant a tree. If someone close to you dies, plant a tree for the vėlės (soul of the departed).”
Then we received the news of Perttu’s death. Sorrow washed over me like a violent torrent. We gathered at the now faded ritual fire, drank and wept. I once received a bottle of Kirschwasser from Perttu, which I did not really enjoy that much. But now we finished that very bottle and lifted libations for Perttu. A storm rose from the sea, thunder rumbled in the distance. The tree we planted would henceforth be Perttu’s soultree.
Every time I met Perttu, I felt that our conversations were cut short for one reason or another – time was always the enemy. When I met Perttu the last time, he was visiting us with his family. It was a beautiful, warm early summer day. I grilled suitably esoterically themed burgers, inspired by the Blue Dragon restaurant in Rennes-le-Chateau. As our children played in the garden, we sat for moment in my study. We talked of possible future travels together – Perttu had long wanted to visit the temple of Hecate – and I gifted him with a pendant depicting the Gnostic deity Abraxas. As Perttu drove off from outside our house with his family, I was standing on the street waiving goodbye to them with my daughter. For some reason, we stayed there standing for a longer while, watching their car recede slowly into the distance, and finally disappear behind the horizon.
When Perttu was a guest on our Radio Wyrd podcast, he shed some light on his view of Lucifer. He saw something profoundly human in the myth of the beautiful and proud angel who was cast out of heaven. When I heard about Perttu’s death, I could not but be reminded of his destiny as distinctly Luciferian, exactly in the way that he himself had envisioned it.
According to the Gnostic tradition, we are living in a fallen, imperfect world. We can certainly see Perttu’s untimely and tragic death as one evidence supporting this view. The world is irrevocably poorer without his shining star.
Although Perttu was in many ways a mercurial figure, I would like to believe that I also knew him on some fundamentally human level. He was a good father, and it was heartwarming to witness the sincere love and joy with which he treated his children and wife. For me he was a beloved friend, for whom I wish a good journey.
I shall end this incomplete tribute with an ancient heretic greeting we often used with each other:
”Luzifer der Unrecht geschah, Grüsst dich!”
(”Lucifer, who was wronged, I salute you!”)
Porvoo 19.8.2018 e.v.