What is the story told by the album, *Imaginos*?
Sandy Pearlman, in an interview with *Kerrang* magazine (September
1988) says, "Basically, it's an interpretation of history - an
explanation for the onset of World War I, or a revelation of the
occult origins of it.
Imaginos is the main character, and is what I call 'an actor in
history'. He plays different roles in history and was born as a
modified child, modified by an alien influence, and his mission is
to present the human race with the challenge of evil.
The aliens are playing with our history as if it's a game, and he
motivates the game and presents the choices to the human race.
They react as they will." Sandy Pearlman also says that the story
explains what the "Blue Oyster Cult" is. "They are aliens.
When Imaginos is dying on a beach (in the song 'Blue Oyster
Cult'), they announce their presence to him and give him a choice
- side with them or die as a human. He chooses the former and
realizes he was one of them after all. In 'Astronomy' he realizes
he is descended from the stars."
Of course, the above statements leave much left untold, and
subject to interpretation. Such discussion went on between various
individuals on BOC-L, and this discussion was captured, distilled,
and condensed into a sort of mini-thesis by BOC-L member Bryce
"The Subhuman" Baker.
His complete work may be available (either now or soon) in the
BOC-L archives. An edited version of his work is presented here
(note: quotes that go unreferenced are either from the liner notes
or song lyrics):
The Saga of Imaginos begins with the discovery of the New World by
the Spanish. "Out beyond the Europe's rim the Spaniards met the
Indians." The Indians: the natives of the New World, the Aztecs,
Haitians, and others. "To the Spanish, agents of a Catholic
Sovereign, the New World was no place of grace ... anti-genesis,
anti-Eden, seat of evil, pit of darkness ... the priests in the
expeditions could imagine no place worse than this place ...
visibly in the thrall of invisible spirits." These spirits: Les
Invisibles - The Invisible Ones.
It is assumed that the Indians of the New World (in particular,
the Aztecs and the Haitians) worshipped Les Invisibles (which we
also assume to number seven). Les Invisibles' seat of power is
Haiti, "... still a dream world, seat of Les Invisibles ...",
suggesting a connection between their world and our world. This is
not taken to be a physical connection (as a portal, for example),
but a religious connection, as The Vatican is the seat of the
Roman Catholic Church.
Haitian Voodoo references are indeed present in Imaginos, Baron
Samedi (see the lyrics to 'Les Invisibles') is reportedly the
Voodoo lord of graveyards, and Les Mesteres (also in "Les
Invisibles") is reportedly another name for the Loa, the seven
African spirits worshipped in Voodoo.
Regarding the dance of Don Pedro, ghost-dancing (a group dance for
communication with the dead) plays a large part in Haitian
religious beliefs, and apparently played a similarly large role in
Aztec religious customs; drums seem to have been the instrument of
choice (see lyrics in 'Les Invisibles' and 'Del Rio's Song').
As to the identity of Don Pedro, the emperor Montezuma supposedly
had a Spanish-sympathizing son named Don Pedro who helped rebuild
the Mexican capital after its destruction by the Spanish. How this
could tie in is unclear, and may simply be a coincidence.
If rich in its evil, the New World was also rich in its gold. At
first, to the Spaniards, the gold was "no luminous mirror of
delight, but rather, a mirror of blackness."
But as fear turned to greed, in this gold, this mirror of
blackness, "the Spaniards discovered for themselves an image of
self without limit ... the invention of all new things, the
invention of genocide." Greed overcame fear. Civilizations were
wiped out (under the guise of religious purification), and Spanish
power in Europe rose, fueled by the gold from the New World. "For
hundreds of years, all the gold ... came from the New World ...
the seduction of the Old World by the New World - innocence
Ultimately, the Spain/Portugal monopoly on the New World was
broken by England, under the reign of Elizabeth I (1558-1603).
"Her occult advisor was a Dr. John Dee. He spoke, he said, with
invisible spirits and in his possession was a magic mirror of
black volcanic glass... it was fashioned in Mexico."
Dee's associate, Edward Kelly, looked into the stone, and Dee
recorded his visions (this mirror and some of Dee's other
paraphernalia are on display in London in the British Museum). The
interpretation relative to the Imaginos story is that Les
Invisibles somehow made this mirror available to Dee, and
information gained from using it was used in the destruction of
It has been suggested that this was a form of 'retaliatory strike'
at Spain by Les Invisibles for invading Mexico and eradicating
much of the religion devoted to them. However, it is seems more
likely that this wasn't a 'retaliatory strike' at all, but part of
a larger, centuries-spanning scheme by Les Invisibles to cause
strife and bloodshed in Europe, continuing all the way to World
War I, and perhaps beyond.
It should be noted that in contrast to the relative black mirror
of New World gold mentioned in the first paragraph, here we have
the first appearance of an actual, physical black mirror.
In the early 1800's, (perhaps in the month of August) Les
Invisibles cause the birth of a 'modified' child - Imaginos - in
New Hampshire. His powers include the ability to see the future to
some degree ("singing songs nobody knew and stories left undone")
and to change his shape ("actually this Buzzardo was Imaginos in
Ignorant of his future role and billing himself as somewhat of an
adventurer, he travels North America (at least Vermont and Texas)
before winding up in New Orleans in 1829. Still acting as an
"adventurer", he heads up an "expedition", sailing the Mississippi
south towards Mexico.
Realizing that there may be more of a reason behind his powers
than he previously believed, and perhaps having visions or some
other drive, he has goals for the expedition he isn't telling his
He is heading south to the Yucatan, to a place "just between the
verse and me" where he will find something "lost, last and
luminous, scored to sky yet never found".
Somewhere along the trip, the boat is shipwrecked near land. As
Imaginos lies on the shore, seriously injured and dying, his
friends, the survivors of the shipwreck, leave him alone to die
"on a shore where oyster beds seem plush as down".
The morning tide washes in and he drowns. As can be seen here,
Imaginos' ability to see into the future is limited to some
degree, or he would have been able to foretell of his upcoming
This shipwreck, however, was no accident. As he drowns, Les
Invisibles come to Imaginos and show him everything: "the
Invisible [Ones] visible at last and manifest; no mere hints or
traces". Knowing who and what he is and the role carved for him in
future events, he agrees to become the Invisible Ones' agent on
earth; he becomes one of the "Blue Oyster Cult", the servants of
Les Invisibles, acting through the "oyster boys" (some kind of
fish-like creature) resurrect Imaginos from the dead. He is now
their agent, "unleashed to forge a new destiny; he is Imaginos
After the shipwreck, it is clearly stated in the liner notes that
Imaginos dies. The song "Blue Oyster Cult" contains a bit about
"The Dream of Luxor", which is an Egyptian reference to rebirth:
"Luxor, site of the southern Temple of Amun, built essentially by
Amenophis III and Ramesses II.
The image of Amun from the temple at Karnak spent the flood season
here ... at Luxor, Amun took the form of Min, a mummiform,
ithyphallic fertility god ... fertility gods in Egyptian religion
were associated with rebirth and immortality." (Jean Lansford)
"We understand, and so do I" and "One deal is what we made" from
"Blue Oyster Cult", taken along with the liner notes for
"Astronomy" point to the "all is made clear" inference (and also
to the 'I didn't know what the hell's going on with me' inference
mentioned above). It isn't really very clear just who or what the
Oyster Boys are, just that they somehow are connected with The
The next songs in the cycle are mainly descriptive, rather than
playing out the story. "I Am the One You Warned Me Of" - Imaginos,
reborn, fully aware of who and what he is. "Fresh from zones of
moisture": on that "shore where oyster beds seemed plush as down"
to a drowning young Imaginos.
We almost get a sense of 'excitement' from this song. Albert
Bouchard had an interesting comment on the song and the lyric "and
afterwards the meat": "This song was influenced by "Memo from
Turner" and was supposed to be about Imaginos getting down and
"In the Presence of Another World" - Imaginos, the earthly agent
of Les Invisibles, still aware of his former self, but now so much
more, and forebodings of the evil to come.
"The Siege and Investiture of Baron Von Frankenstein's Castle at
Weisseria" - the continuation of Les Invisibles' influence on
earth - earlier, through corruption by gold, now through
corruption by technology.
The liner notes have a lot to say on the reborn Imaginos:
"This then is Imaginos of whom it will be said, between what he
can realize and what he can imagine, there is to be nothing and no
distance. His will be the perfect sight. 'Behind closed eyes
realize your sight.'
Through the powers of perfect vision and Imaginos, vested in him
by Les Invisibles, he will bring the world to a rendezvous with
its own destiny, to change the world's course, to -write- history,
to tilt the axis of destiny - Imaginos becomes the world's
greatest actor, a transcendent role player, an actor in history."
It can only be assumed that between his rebirth (~1829) and the
next song in the story (Magna of Illusion, ~1892), Imaginos is
somehow living up to this role, involving himself in key events
that will lead up to the grand conclusion.
1892, Imaginos, now in the role of an old sea captain:
"Out beyond the Europe's rim and further by far, beyond the sphere
of light, into a place where darkness is omnipotent and never from
hungry. In Mayaland in the Yucatan he will discover an unheard-of
temple or pyramid.
At the core of the pyramid, with only one way in and no way out,
is a chamber of jade, curiously sculpted with impossible angles,
itself surrounding something hardly there, a new germ, made from
'pieces of the perfect black.'
[jumping down a paragraph in the notes...]
"In the chamber of jade is a mirror carved of blackest obsidian,
black volcanic glass, tempered with blood: 'the sugar of
sacrifice.' Obviously a magic mirror, it is nothing less than the
Magna of Illusion: the last song in the cycle. In it Imaginos, now
playing the of an old English sea captain in the 1890's, takes the
mirror from Mexico (which is nowhere) to Europe.
He takes it by crime and blood from the jungle to give to his
granddaughter on her birthday. It sits in her family's attic in
misty Cornwall for ten years or more. Poisoning Europe ..."
[moving back up a paragraph in the notes...]
"When thrust in vivo into Europe's all too fertile soil, this new
germ will - having grown ever more powerful and mature, having in
fact become an organism - beam ridding voices direct to the brains
of the (European) multitudes. The voices call in hunger for
absolute darkness and absolute light. They are ready. We are
ready. It is ready"
[moving back down...]
"And then World War I breaks out. A disease with a long
Some random general reflections:
1. If you follow the story, it is obvious that the songs on the
album are in the wrong order. There is, however, this 'random
access history' disclaimer. It has been speculated that the
record company screwed up the order of the songs and the random
access bit was added afterwards.
That is completely unsubstantiated, and probably not true, but
who knows? In the liner notes, an order is listed, but my
interpretation of the real order (substantiated by Albert
1. Les Invisibles
3. Del Rio's Song
4. Blue Oyster Cult
6. I Am The One You Warned Me Of } these two could flip flop
7. In The Presence Of Another World }
8. The Siege And Investiture...
9. Magna Of Illusion
2. An issue that has not been explored is the origin or the
location of Les Invisibles. From the liner notes and overall
feel of the album, you get the impression of another, mystical
world, beyond our time and space, and that is how the story has
been interpreted above. But to throw in a wrench, I quote
Albert Bouchard in Morning Final #10:
"Basically, what it is that this guy comes down from a
spaceship, and he lands in New Hampshire. I don't know if he
has a son or not, but there's a young Immaginos (note:
"Immaginos" was Albert's intended spelling) that is hatched
from the spaceship in New Hampshire. He drifts down towards
Texas. When he's in Texas he discovers that he has all sorts
of powers that regular people don't have. I guess that he's
probably not completely aware that he's an extra-terrestrial."
Note that his interview was in 1982 (and done for some metal
magazine, it was never published), a lot could have changed in
the time between the interview and when the final version(s?)
of the story was settled on. But if you look at some of the
lyrics out of context, we have:
"the rhyme of the star clock" [Les Invisibles] "this starry
wisdom" [I Am The One ...] "how even space can modulate"
[In The Presence ...] "the milky way abyss inclines" "the
buried city in the stars" "from the glare of stars, the starry
wisdom" [The Siege And ...]
Again, the above quotes are -completely- out of context and
are meant just to provide a (weak) counterview to the mystical,
almost religious viewpoint. Also, a mystical location and an
outerspace location are by no means mutually exclusive. But, to
tighten that wrench:
"and don't forget my dog, fixed and consequent" [Astronomy]
"Astronomy...a star!" [Astronomy] "approached the sun, in
Sirius: The Dog Star, a star of the constellation Canis Major,
the brightest star in the heavens. Used for navigational
purposes because it usually remains fixed in the sky. The Dog
Days ... the period of in late summer (between early July and
late August) when Sirius rises and sets with the sun.
And according to Dr. Paul Mather:
"Okay, here's another Sirius connection. I remember R.A.
Wilson making much about the connection between the "Dog Days"
and Sirius. There is a "primitive" African tribe - the Dogon
tribe - who, it seems, accurately detected the companion to
Sirius and mapped its relationship to Sirius. This companion
is invisible to the naked eye, and can only be detected by
x-rays (I seem to recall). The tribe detected its presence
long before modern radio astronomy."
The plot thickens ...
"The Dogon tribe worship a half-man, half-fish god, who is
said to come from the companion star, and who is said to have
come down to Earth."
This account was later shown to the bogus result of the tribe
mixing modern astronomy with their mythology, or something like
that [from FoFP].
But it was still widespread and certainly available to
influence a young Sandy Pearlman ...
In any event, as mentioned above, "outer space" and "beyond
time and space" are certainly not mutually exclusive.
3. A few other BOC songs (not from *Imaginos*) have, either by
title or lyric, a similar sort of feel to them: Harvester of
Eyes, Flaming Telepaths, Stairway to the Stars, Workshop of the
Telescopes ("by those who see with their eyes closed, they'll
know me by my black telescope", "the power that was undine"),
ME-262 ("watch me in mirrors", and "Captain Von Ondine" - see
discussion below on the term, "undine").
Another BOC fan has speculated that there may be a
relationship between the line "Dance the Don Pedro", and the
hallucinogenic cactus San Pedro. A definition of the cactus
reads as follows:
San Pedro. A common ornamental cactus which is still widely
available for landscaping from local nurseries, particularly in
desert states. Known to the natives as the sacred cactus of the
four winds. This plant is native to the western slopes of the
Andes of Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador where it can grow to over 5
Used traditionally in divination, diagnosis of disease,
finding lost or stolen property, and to possess another
person's soul. A form of the original San Pedro religion still
survives to this day, around Huacanada, Peru.
Aside from the speculation that the cactus was perhaps part of
the Imaginos story, the definition of "sacred cactus of the
four winds" suggests a possible connection to the four winds
bar in "Astronomy".
There are some speculations as to how the song, "Workshop Of
The Telescopes" fits into the Imaginos story. It is possible
that the line "Sees through the charms of Doctors and their
wives" refers to Dr. John Dee and his associate Ed Kelly
Dr. Dee believed that Kelly was in touch with cosmic forces,
and Kelly was presumably using this belief to get Dr. Dee to
allow him to sleep with his wife.
"Salamander Drake" may refer to a fire-breathing dragon:
salamander - a mythical animal having the power to endure fire
without harm, an elemental being in theory of Paracelsus
inhabiting fire; drake - dragon. Note: There may be more to
this, as the BOC lyric book capitalizes the words "Salamander"
and "Drake", implying perhaps a proper name rather than a
Perhaps "Drake" actually refers to Sir Francis Drake, who,
under approval of England's Elizabeth I, raided Spanish ships
bringing gold from Mexico (this ties in with some of the
concepts of *Imaginos* -- European conflict originating from
the New World).
"Undine" (also mentioned in the song) is, according to the
Swiss-born alchemist and physician Paracelsus, a water-spirit
that can obtain a human soul by bearing a child to a human
husband. This may also refer to "Captain Von Ondine" in the
song, "ME-262" (perhaps Captain Von Ondine is the child born of
a water spirit - this also appears to tie in with some of the
concepts of *Imaginos*).
A further note about the term "Ondine". There is a rare brain
disorder known as "Ondine's Curse" where the victim can not
breathe involuntarily. Ondine refers to a nymph of Greek
mythology who offended the gods. As punishment, she was
sentenced to think about every breath. She could never sleep,
for sleep would mean not thinking about breathing, and she
Finally, the term "Ondine" may have simply come from a club in
New York called "Ondine's". A 1967 issue of *Crawdaddy*
magazine mentioned a concert by The Doors there.
From all of this discussion, it appears that the inspiration for
the story of *Imaginos* appears to come from various sources.
Another possible source may be Jean Ray's 1965 collection of short
stories entitled *Ghouls in my Grave*. One of the stories is
entitled "The Black Mirror", and contains the following 2
paragraphs which suggest that perhaps Sandy Pearlman had read it:
"In 1842 the collection of curios formed at Strawberry Hill by
Horace Walpole was sold at auction. Among the singular objects
contained in it was the famous black mirror of Dr. John Dee,
physician, surgeon, and astrologer of Queen Elizabeth I.
It was a piece of beautifully black coal, perfectly polished and
carved into an oval shape, with a handle of brown ivory. It had
formerly been in the collection of the Earls of Peterborough,
bearing this description: 'Black stone by means of which Dr. Dee
called forth spirits.'"
"Yes, but Edward Kelley, the sinister pirate who clung to poor Dee
like a shadow, used the mirror for discovering hidden treasures
and for committing his mysterious crimes."