Beyond The Veil
The Black Chamber
For centuries, nations around the world have operated Black Chambers, secret rooms where they attempted to decode secrets. The French operated the Cabinet Noir, in Vienna the Geheime Kabinets-Kanzlei, and in Britain there was Bletchley Park. All were heavily involved in cryptography and often did valuable work in that field – but all were also involved in trying to break the greatest codes of all, those of magic. With the secrets of Enoch, Abra-Melin or the Rosicrucians boiled down to their bare essence and married to science, a nation’s loyal mages could wield vast powers in a far more manageable way. This has always been the Great Work of what are now called technomages.
Things were no different in the United States, but efforts there had always been piecemeal – spread out among single experimenters – until after the first World War. The Black Chamber, otherwise known as MI-8 or Cipher Bureau was established in New York with a cover of being a commercial cryptography company producing codes for businesses who wanted to keep secrets, and a second-order cover of being a government code breaking effort. It even made significant contributions in both those areas. But its true mission was always decoding of the great works of magic, and then producing practical applications from that knowledge.
In 1929, shortly after the enigmatic Sam Mathers came to work alongside the then-director Herbert O’Yardley , the Black Chamber made a breakthrough in applied Enochian after Mathers’ cell of mage-codebreakers cracked important Vatican codes which were found to use an Enochian syntax far more accurate than John Dee‘s. Unfortunately, Yardley ignored warnings about the contents of those Vatican communications which could have perhaps headed-off the stock market crash of 24th October – Black Thursday – which the Vatican intercepts showed was part of a plan by powerful adepts dedicated to certain Elder Gods to immanantize the Estachon and bring about the return of the Old Ones to Earth. In a panic, on Halloween 1929 the U.S. government fired Yardley and supposedly closed MI-8 while actually keeping it going as a blacker-than-black program under Mather’s directorship. The new Black Chamber became Bureau 13 and was given a twofold mission: to continue working in magical R&D and to preserve the interests of the United States in the world Behind the Veil by any means necessary. Throughout the late 30s and early 40’s its main focus were the Nazi Thule Society and Ahnenerbe. In 1949 it was folded into the newly-founded NSA under yet another sobriquet as Department 23 (with its attention now turned towards the occult Cold War) and that’s how Top Secret internal memos refer to it to this day. It is funded out of the NSA’s black budget through a dozen or more channels, all themselves highly classified.
The present day Black Chamber – still known officially but secretly as Dept. 23 of the NSA – is organized into two main branches. R&D is based at an adjunct to a certain well-known but ultra-hush-hush test facility in Nevada. Operations is based out of the headquarters complex, a seven-level sub-basement of Liberty Island, New York which is reached by hidden elevators and stairs on the island or from Ellis Island, as well as a mini-train line which leads from a certain storage facility on Manhattan.