A feast for the first night of the Prophet and his Bride
by Frater IAO131
This feast is celebrated on August 12, and its primary purpose is to celebrate the anniversary of Crowley’s marriage to Rose that made possible the reception of The Book of the Law. Crowley comments, “There should be a special feast on the 12th day of August in every year, since it was the marriage of The Beast which made possible the revelation of the New Law. (This is not an Apology for Marriage. Hard Cases make Bad Law).”
In terms of E.G.C., this ceremony represents the Collect of Marriage, which involves the union of all things, not only the legal proceedings of marriage. In terms of M.M.M., this ceremony represents II° insofar as this shows the soul “how it may best carry out its object in the eucharist of life. It partakes, so to speak, of its own godhead in every action, but especially through the typical sacrament of marriage, understood as the voluntary union of itself with each element of its environment” (Confessions, ch.72).
This feast has five scenes that follow the basic 5-act structure. Each scene refers not only to semi-historical events but also to important parts of each star’s journey in accomplishing their Wills:
The first scene involves Rose, who is the hero of this story and symbolizes each aspirant, and her Father, who symbolizes the “great dragon” of tradition and authority, being a microcosm of the Old Aeon of slave religion in general. This scene symbolizes the oppression of the values of the Old Aeon, both historically as well as individually in terms of the various constraints, beliefs, habits, and values of youth that must be discarded and transcended in the process of growth.
The second scene involves the arrival of the Beast, who represents Crowley historically and the Holy Guardian Angel of each individual symbolically. Rose confides in the Beast about her arranged marriage and he resolves to marry her to absolve her of her obligation. This represents, more generally, the Trance of Sorrow where the aspirant becomes dissatisfied with the world and is given the motive to start upon the Path of the Great Work.1
In the third scene, Rose is then given a choice to adhere to the security of tradition and authority as symbolized by the Father on the one hand or the Liberty and Light of the path of the Great Work as symbolized by the Beast on the other hand. Rose chooses to follow her own True Will, and leaves with the Beast. This represents every aspirant’s choice to begin the journey out of the Darkness of ignorance and into the Light, out of the Old Aeon and into the New. The scenes therefore get more and more comedic as the Laughter of the Child slowly overtakes the Sorrow of the Dying Father.
The fourth scene involves the marriage of the Beast and Rose. Before being married, the Beast or Holy Guardian Angel teaches that she must be balanced in herself before uniting with him. “Equilibrium is the basis of the Work.”2 The Beast tests Rose in the Four Powers of the Sphinx as a form of acquiring balance or equilibrium of the Four Elements.
The fifth scene involves the marriage of the Sphinx and Pyramid, Rose and the Beast, which is the act of conception that will eventually lead to the birth of the Child of The Book of the Law. This can be seen as symbolically reflective of the task of all individuals in uniting with their Gods or Holy Guardian Angels so they may bring forth their own Word to the world.
☿: Master of Ceremonies – Dressed in white robe with yellow stole, i.e. as a Deacon. He performs the role of narrator and conductor of the People.
☽: Rose – Dressed in red/scarlet dress. She performs the role of Rose Kelly who is symbolic of the soul of the aspirant.
☉: The Beast – Dressed in blue/azure. He performs the role of Aleister Crowley who is symbolic of the Holy Guardian Angel/Beast.
♄: The Father – Dressed in black garments or a black robe. He performs the role of the father of Rose who is symbolic of the “great dragon (c.f. Zarathustra) of authority, obligation, and the Old Aeon in general.
✪: The People – Dressed as they will. They participate when appropriate.
* * * * *
SCENE I: Rose & her Father
☿: Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
✪: Love is the law, love under will.
☿: Upon all that this day unite with love under will let fall success; may strength and skill unite to bring forth ecstasy, and beauty answer beauty.
✪: So mote it be.
☿: In the eucharist of life, the soul partakes of its own godhead in every action, but especially through the typical sacrament of marriage, understood as the voluntary union of itself with each element of its environment. Every mundane marriage is therefore symbolic of the union of the soul and the elements of its world, and – on a higher level – the union of the Adept with her God.
[pause, focus shifts to ♄ and ☽]
☿: We are gathered here tonight to celebrate the feast for the first night of the Prophet and his bride, which made possible the revelation of the New Law. We must therefore go back in time, 110 [change accordingly] years ago, before Rose and Aleister were married.
♄: My dear Rose, I have tended this garden with careful watch for many seasons. The weeds of temptation have been uprooted so they could not corrupt you; pure waters of the Lord’s word were gathered for you to be fed. I have labored for years so that you, my flower, could one day be plucked to be worn as boutonnière.3 My dear Rose, you are like the red, red rose that’s newly sprung in June. O my girl’s like the melody that’s sweetly played in tune.4
☽: Your words are kind and full of lightness, Father, yet I hear a dark and heavy drone that weighs down my soul.
♄: What mean thing could possibly besmirch your fair bosom with weight at such a joyous time? I have arranged for you to be married to a noble man, noble and gold-endowed! All the preparations have been made; there is no reason left for you to fret.
☽: It is just that, my lord. Make no mistake. To you I am bound for life and education. My life and education both taught me how to respect you: you are the lord of duty. I am hitherto your daughter.5 I wish I could profess such undying duty to my future husband.
♄: Do you doubt my judgment in selecting a suitor? I have called in every favor to make for the most profitable and secure arrangement for you.
☽: Yes, profitable and secure, indeed. With that I can agree.
♄: What else would could one wish for in the future father to one’s children?
☽: I would that my heart was as well-endowed as my purse.
♄: A heart requires health, and the greatest health is gained through comfort and security.
☽: [aside, said sarcastically about her father] Bright star, would I were steadfast as thou art!6
♄: What is that, my dear?
☽: Nothing, father, you are kind in your care for me, and you know me well.
♄: Aye, of course I know you well, and you are a worthy daughter for honoring your father. A thought almost occurred that you might be balking at my carefully cultivated arrangements.
[The father walks off mumbling to himself]
☽: Nobody knows this little Rose… I might a pilgrim be.7
SCENE II: The Arrival of the Beast
☿: Later that night, Rose attended a gathering organized by her brother Gerald Kelly. There she met the Beast in whom she confided her secret suffering.
☽: …and he is arriving from America in no less than a week. Though I am indebted to my father through duty, I cannot in good faith accept the suitor arranged for me. I don’t love him; I barely know him! Oh, what a troubling song my heart-strings play!
☉: My fair Rose, duty that is imposed by others is naught but tyranny. A rose is rightly colored with love’s strong pulse, never by the bloody stains from traitorous refusal of your soul’s decrees. [Rose is distressed] Don’t upset yourself about such a trifle.8 Luckily for such a damsel as yourself, I am pledged through a solemn oath to battle all forms of oppression.
☽: Such wise benevolence and incorruptible justice9 you display! What must I do to acquire your aid?
☉: All you must do is marry me.10 I will absolve you of your obligations, and you will be responsible only for your own conduct.
☽: But my father will never accept our treacherous tryst!
☉: I would only that your fate were free, not for any benediction of paternity.
☽: Bright star, would I were steadfast as thou art!11
☉: Ah, you speak in sweet poetry that bewitches even the Beast! Yes, we will confront your father soon, when the sun next rises! There is a budding morrow in midnight12… who knows what species of fortune may flower?
SCENE III: The Confrontation
☿: The next morning, Rose and the Beast went to confront her father.
[Rose enters the Father’s room]
♄: Good morning! What signs do your petals unfold to tell today, young Rose?13
☽: Father, my lord, I have come with my bridegroom.
♄: Here already? What great fortune! Bring him in!
[The Beast enters]
♄: What? Who is this ghastly beast of a man?
☉: Great and wild Beast to you, good sir. Although my friends may call me Little Sunshine.14 I am to wed your Rose today.
♄: What sins have you committed to be indebted to such a devil?
☽: I owe no debt but undying gratitude. I marry him of my own free will!
♄: How dare you! Thou shalt honor thy father and thy mother!15
☽: Ah, Father, every scale on your serpentine skin glitters a golden “Thou shalt.” The values of ages long-since past are etched in your scales. You are the great dragon that I am no longer inclined to call Lord. “Thou shalt,” you say, and “Thou shalt not.” To that, this man lent me a portion of his lion-spirit and now I say to you, “I will.”16
♄: You are indebted to me for life and education, remember? I own you and you will marry as arranged!
☉: There is no property in human flesh.17
☽: I own myself and answer only to myself!
♄: O Rose, you are sick. The invisible worm that flies in the night in the howling storm has found out thy bed of crimson joy, and his dark secret love does your life destroy.”18
☉: O Rose! Who dares to name thee! I can see you no longer roseate now, nor soft, nor sweet, but pale, and hard, and dry, as stubble-wheat. Kept twenty-eight years in a drawer…
☉: Kept twenty-nine years in a drawer, I’m not surprised your name shames thee.20
♄: Where is the modest woman I raised so carefully?
☉: The veil of the modest woman is the veil of sorrow and the pall of death! She has torn down that lying spectre of the centuries and veils not her vices in virtuous words any more!21
♄: I fear that my own shock and sorrow have paralyzed me. [He leans against a table or bed] Go now, Rose. Go now, you miserable Beast! I must lie down and hopefully awake from this horrible nightmare.
[Rose starts to exit]
☉: A Woman under Tabu is loathsome to Life, detested by her fellows, and wretched in herself.22 To me, a woman is Herself, absolute, original, independent, free, self-justified, exactly as a man is.23
☽:[Rose grabs the Beast] That is enough! Indignation may stir the dragon out of his cave and we will miss our chance. Let’s go!
SCENE IV: The Equilibration
☿: Having chosen liberty over obligation, Rose set upon a dangerous path. Before the marriage, the Beast described the preliminaries that would need to be undertaken.
☉: Through my extensive travels in the lands of mysticism and magick, I have fashioned myself four-fold as a proud Pyramid. My sides are life, love, liberty, and light, and my apex is poised to receive the kisses of the stars.24 Being that I am such a monument of man, I will have no bride but a spotless Sphinx.25
☽: Ah, I know this riddle!26
☽: Though these ideas are new to me, I pray that you would test my present ability.
☉: Fine then, let’s jump right in! I will put four questions before you and let’s see if you sink or swim.
☽: Although I’ve been cloistered, I believe I’ve still learned my fair share. Do your worst, ‘you miserable Beast!’
☉: First, what is true knowledge?
☽: True knowledge is not known but what’s felt as innately right, the heart’s subtle understanding is one’s sole guiding light.27
☉: A bit sentimental and a bit unclear, but I’ll accept your answer and press on, my dear. Now, tell me, what is true will?
☽: When the heart’s understanding is wed to the brain’s bright wisdom, the foot walks with a solemn swiftness towards the Lord’s kingdom.28
☉: Though harmony of the soul’s faculties is the prerequisite thereof, you will one day find that the star you seek is within and not above.29 Now, pray tell, what is true daring?
☽: A will that desires demons and dangers on all sides,30 not sett’ling in security of what comfort decides.
☉: Though father Friedrich31 said living dangerously’s the secret of success,32 even Liberty’s greatest warriors require repose and recess. Your answers are satisfactory but I require a final proof; now with Pontius Pilate33 I ask most solemnly of you… What is Truth?
[Rose takes a breath with her finger in the air to give another answer, but she hesitates, looks puzzled, and puts her forefinger to her lips in deep thought]
☉: Wise you are, indeed! Wise beyond your years! Beyond my highest hopes you’ve dispelled my fears. Who knew that a lotus and not a rose sprung, from the dark mire of your education’s dung, that your roots in blackened depths produce fruit fresh and new, that your petals hide Harpocrates in his egg of blue!34
Ah! this lyrical exchange has quelled all my insecurities about this arrangement. Let us defy convention and pre-emptively consummate our marriage, at least until the evening star arises35 to preside over the proper legalities.
SCENE V: The Marriage
[☿ stands behind the Beast and Rose but not out of sight, presiding at the priest for the marriage]
☉: For the many years of your youth, you have beared the weight of tradition and custom as a camel. You then defied law and convention as a lion, replacing the “Thou shalt” of tradition with the “I will” of independence. Now, having created freedom for yourself, you must become as a little Child,36 and find your own way with a holy Yea unto one’s new life.
☽: What a heavy burden has been lifted from me! I can feel the lightness of liberty that this new life allows!
☉: On the contrary, my dear Rose, for freedom is the greatest restriction of all. Having extricated yourself from the web of obligations to others, one must re-affirm with equal intensity one’s duty to oneself. Though the Child of the spirit is free from all convention, he is bound with equal obligation to his own law. You must find your true destiny, the purpose on this earth for which you were fitted, and adhere solely to it. This is the apotheosis of Freedom but it is also the strictest possible bond,37 for having begun to tread the path of the Great Work, you are bound to continue walking thereupon and never swerve therefrom.
☽: What a strange and terrible oath I have unknowingly taken!
☉: Terrible, indeed, the most daunting task that one can possibly attempt. Yet it is also the path to complete peace, true wisdom, and perfect happiness.
☽: What is my goal upon this long and winding road of attainment?
☉: One must never ask or ponder about the final goal but always focus one’s energies upon taking the Next Step.38
☽: My love for you is undeniable and unconquerable. Lead me to take this Next Step!
☉: Love is indeed the right motive and fuel for this path, yet your marriage to me is but a symbol of your true goal. Even as you wed me today, you must seek the inward marriage of the soul with your God. With all the love you love me today, it must be inflamed a thousandfold towards the attainment of the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel. Though I vow to guide you in whatever way may be of use, you must do the work and it is only you that may take the final plunge. No one can ever do that for you, nor can any man ever know the Name of another’s God. It is the most universal and unique of all goals, it is the Holy of Holies.39
☽: I vow to attain the Knowledge and Conversation of my Holy Guardian Angel. Nothing will deflect me from this most holy and austere obligation.
☉: May this ring be a seal of your solemn oath, forever reminding you of the promise you made today.
[☿ approaches to stand between the Beast and Rose]
☿: With your vows being made, I now proclaim you man and wife!
[The Beast whispers in ☿‘s ear]
☿: Excuse me… I now proclaim you Beast and whore! You may kiss the harlot.
☉: It is accomplished, the marriage is complete. What Child this union may bring we know not yet. There are many events in the womb of time which will be delivered.40 For our honeymoon we will travel to the land of the Sun. To Egypt, where the other Sphinx and Pyramid stand as we now do!
[The Beast and Rose exit]
☿: It was on this day of August 12, the first night of the Prophet and his bride, that the events were set in motion which would lead to the revelation of the New Aeon several months later with the reception of The Book of the Law. Even as Rose’s marriage to the Beast led to the birth of the Child of the New Aeon, so too must each individual come to unite with their own Gods and give their Words to the world. So mote it be.
☿: But ye, o my people, rise up & awake!
[☿ motions for all to stand]
[☿ motions for the feast to be brought out and for everyone to sit at the table or stand around the table with food]
Aye! feast! rejoice! there is no dread hereafter. There is the dissolution, and eternal ecstasy in the kisses of Nu.43
[☽ stands at the head of the table and knocks 3-5-3]
☽: Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
✪: What is thy Will?
☽: It is my Will to eat and to drink.
✪: To what end?
☽: That I may fortify my body thereby.
✪: To what end?
☽: That I may celebrate the feast of the first night of the Prophet and his Bride.
✪: To what end?
☽: That I may accomplish the Great Work.
✪: Love is the law, love under will.
[☽ knocks once]
☽: Now please direct your attention to the Beast.
☉: I’d like to make a toast, so everyone please get a drink.
[☿ and other appointed helpers give everyone a glass and pours drinks]
☉: First, as always, to Nuit, our Lady of the Stars!
✪: To Nuit!
☉: To Rose, who played an integral part in the revelation of the New Aeon!
✪: To Rose!
☉: To the prophet of the lovely star, the Beast!
✪: To the Beast!
☉: To our great Thelemic fraternity, the O.T.O.!
✪: To O.T.O.!
☉: To [insert local body name]!
✪: To [insert local body name]!
☉: And finally, to all of us!
✪: To all of us!
☉: You may now feast and rejoice!
Crowley wrote in Little Essays Toward Truth, “The Aspiration to become a Master is rooted in the Trance of Sorrow.”
2 Liber Librae sub figura XXX.
3 A boutonnière is the flower worn by men at formal occasions in general and worn on the chest of a bridegroom in particular.
4 Adapted from Robert Burns’ poem, “A Red, Red Rose.”
5 Adapted from Shakespeare’s Othello, Act I, Scene 3, lines 182-185.
6 The first line of a sonnet by John Keats, which Crowley notes in his Confessions (chapter 46) is a line that Rose often quoted.
7 Adapted from Emily Dickinson.
8 A direct quotation of what Crowley claims he said to Rose in his Confessions, chapter 45.
9 A reference to Confessions, chapter 45, where Crowley writes, “There is something in my character which makes people confide in me. I think the bottom of it is my chastity. They instinctively understand that I have no personal axe to grind; that I shall display a wise benevolence and incorruptible justice, being detached from every form of desire.”
10 Another adapted quotation of what Crowley claims he said to Rose in his Confessions, chapter 45.
11 The first line of a sonnet by John Keats, which Crowley notes in his Confessions (chapter 46) is a line that Rose often quoted. It is here said truly, to be contrasted with its sarcastic tone when directed at Rose’s father in the previous scene.
12 From Keats’ poem, “Ode to Homer.”
13 An obscure reference to the first lines of “AHA!”, “Master, ere the ruby Dawn / Gild the dew of leaf and lawn, / Bidding the petals to unclose / Of heaven’s imperishable Rose, / Brave heralds, banners flung afar / Of the lone and secret star.”
14 Crowley tried to explain this name in court when he testified in a 1934 lawsuit. He was asked, ‘Did you take to yourself the designation of ‘the Beast 666′?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Do you call yourself the ‘Master Therion’?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘What does ‘Therion’ mean?’ ‘Great wild beast.’ ‘Do these titles convey a fair impression of your practice and outlook on life?’ ‘It depends on what they mean.’ ‘The Great Wild Beast and the Beast 666 are out of the Apocalypse?’ ‘It only means sunlight; 666 is the number of the sun. You can call me ‘Little Sunshine.”
15 One of the Ten Commandments of the Old Aeon.
16 This entire speech is adapted from the first chapter of Thus Spake Zarathustra, “The Three Metamorphoses of the Spirit.”
17 Adapted from Crowley’s Liber Aleph where he writes, “There shall be no property in human flesh.”
18 Adapted from William Blake’s poem “The Sick Rose.”
19 Rose was 29-years-old when she married Crowley, who was 28.
20 Adapted from Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s poem “A Dead Rose.”
21 Adapted from The Book of the Law, II:52.
22 Quoted from Crowley’s New Comment to Liber AL, II:52.
23 Quoted from Crowley’s New Comment to Liber AL, III:55.
24 A reference to Liber Aleph where Crowley writes, “Now then at last art thou made ready to confront the Pyramid, if thou art established as a Sphinx. For It also hath the foursquare Base of Law, and the Four Triangles of Light, Life, Love and Liberty for its Sides, that meet in a Point of Perfection that is Hadith, poised to the Kiss of Nuith.”
25 Crowley writes in Liber Aleph, “Now then this Sphinx, being perfect in true Balance, yet taketh the Aspect of the Feminine Principle that so She may be partner of the Pyramid, that is the Phallus, pure Image of Our Father the Sun, the Unity Creative.”
26 A reference to the Riddle of the Sphinx to which Oedipus famously gave a solution with the answer, “Man.”
27 This refers to the distinction between Knowledge which is below the Abyss (Da’ath), and Understanding which is above the Abyss (Binah).
28 Qabalistically, “Wisdom” is Chokmah, “Understanding” is Binah, and “the Lord’s kingdom” is Malkuth.
29 A reference to Crowley’s poem “One Star in Sight” where the last stanza is “To man I come, the number of / A man my number, Lion of Light; / I am The Beast whose Law is Love. / Love under will, his royal right— / Behold within, and not above, / One star in sight!”
30 A reference to Thus Spake Zarathustra, chapter 7, where Nietzsche writes, “The atmosphere rare and pure, danger near and the spirit full of a joyful wickedness: thus are things well matched. I want to have goblins about me, for I am courageous. The courage which scareth away ghosts, createth for itself goblins – it wanteth to laugh.”
31 A reference to Friedrich Nietzsche who Crowley claimed was a Prophet of Thelema and who is listed as a Saint in the Gnostic Mass.
32 Adapted from Crowley’s reference to Nietzsche in Liber Aleph where he writes, “Yet this I charge thee with my Might: Live Dangerously. Was not this the Word of thine Uncle Friedrich Nietzsche?” This is itself a reference to what Nietzsche wrote in his book The Gay Science, “For believe me: the secret for harvesting from existence the greatest fruitfulness and greatest enjoyment is — to live dangerously.”
33 Pontius Pilate asked Christ “What is Truth?” as in John 18:38.
34 Harpocrates or Hoor-paar-kraat is the god of Silence who is often depicted with his finger on his lips. He is also, in the Western Hermetic tradition, often depicted in an egg of blue or Spirit on top of a lotus.
35 The evening star is actually the planet Venus, which is the planet of Love and Union.
36 A reference to (1) Matthew 18:3 (“And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven”), (2) to the “Three Metamorphoses of the Spirit” in Thus Spake Zarathustra, and (3) to the fact that the New Aeon is that of the Crowned and Conquering Child of Horus.
37 A quotation from “Liber II: The Message of the Master Therion” by Aleister Crowley. This entire speech is an adaptation or paraphrase thereof.
38 The Next Step is a reference to the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel. Crowley wrote in The Vision and the Voice that he “became aware of his True Will, of the purpose for which he had undertaken Incarnation. And this was expressed thus: to aid Mankind to take the Next Step. And at the time he understood this as meaning: to lead them to aspire to the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel.”
39 A paraphrase of “One Star in Sight” where Crowley writes, “It is impossible to lay down precise rules by which a man may attain to the knowledge and conversation of His Holy Guardian Angel; for that is the particular secret of each one of us; as secret not to be told or even divined by any other, whatever his grade. It is the Holy of Holies, whereof each man is his own High Priest, and none knoweth the Name of his brother’s God, or the Rite that invokes Him.”
40 A quotation from Othello, Act I, Scene 3, lines 369-370.
41 Liber AL vel Legis, II:34-36.
42 Adapted from Liber AL vel Legis, II:37.
43 Liber AL vel Legis, II:44.