Fundamentals of Initiation in Thelema

Fundamentals of Initiation in Thelema

Fundamentals of Initiation in Thelema

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

Introduction

In Thelema, the term “initiation” is used often and in varying ways. This essay is intended to elucidate the basic meaning and fundamentals of initiation, especially in the context of spiritual system of Thelema.

Basic definition: “Initiation” essentially refers to the path of spiritual progress of every individual. The “path of initiation” is synonymous with other terms such as “the path of attainment” or “the quest for enlightenment.” It is sometimes called the Great Work, or “climbing the Tree of Life,” or simply “the Path.”

Along the path, one reaches various “degrees” of initiation which can be construed as certain levels of insight or understanding or simply certain shifts in one’s awareness that move progressively from the ignorance of the mundane view of self and the world to the “initiated” or enlightened view. These “degrees” of initiation refer strictly to an internal process, and the ceremonies and “degrees” of temporal organizations can only be a symbolic reflection of one’s inner initiations. As Crowley wrote, “The Master Therion warns all Aspirants to the Sacred Wisdom and the Magick of Light that Initiation cannot be bought, or even conferred; it must be won by personal endeavor” (letter to W.T. Smith, 1934 e.v.).

This leads to some general principles of initiation that are true across all forms of spirituality:

1) Initiation can ultimately only come from the endeavors and work of the individual.

2) True initiation is always in the form of the direct experience of the individual.

3) Initiation cannot be bestowed from others through words, symbols, rituals, or any other way. The most another can do is help point the way and aid one to avoid common pitfalls.

Initiation in General

The basics of initiation are explained fairly succinctly in a text called Liber LXI vel Causae or simply Liber CausaeIt reads:

“In all systems of religion is to be found a system of Initiation, which may be defined as the process by which a man comes to learn that unknown Crown.”

This establishes that all systems of religion have some form or another of approaching the same Truth. They all contain some form of “the process by which a man comes to learn that unknown Crown,” which is here called “Initiation.” The “unknown Crown” is a Qabalistic reference to the first Sephirah on the Tree of Life, Kether, which literally means “Crown” and represents the Unity of Godhead to which man may attain. Some have called this “unknown Crown” the term “God,” some have called it “liberation,” or “unity,” or “Truth,” and countless other names. Ultimately, it is “unknown” and nameless because it is beyond the dualities of knower and known, beyond the dualities of the subject and object of language, and therefore cannot be accurately named. It is, to use the language of the Gnostic Mass, always “beyond speech and beyond sight.” Initiation is defined as the process whereby one may come to learn That. Liber Causae continues:

“Though none can communicate either the knowledge or the power to achieve this, which we may call the Great Work, it is yet possible for initiates to guide others.”

Here we are told what was mentioned above as a general principle of initiation: Initiation cannot be bestowed from others through words, symbols, rituals, or any other way. “None can communicate” does not mean there is not anyone smart or enlightened enough to communicate this Truth, but it is a Truth whose nature is simply incommunicable by virtue of it being beyond all names, forms, signs, and symbols.

Here we also see the process of “Initiation” being equated with the term “the Great Work,” as mentioned previously as well. We also learn that initiates may not communicate “that unknown Crown” but they can guide others toward it. Liber Causae continues on this theme:

“Every man must overcome his own obstacles, expose his own illusions. Yet others may assist him to do both, and they may enable him altogether to avoid many of the false paths, leading no whither, which tempt the weary feet of the uninitiated pilgrim. They can further insure that he is duly tried and tested, for there are many who think themselves to be Masters who have not even begun to tread the Way of Service that leads thereto.”

Here we have affirmation of another general principle of initiation mentioned before: Initiation can ultimately only come from the endeavors and work of the individual. We also learn that the path of initiation must involve overcoming obstacles and exposing one’s illusions about reality. As another important foundational text says, “Thou then who hast trials and troubles, rejoice because of them, for in them is Strength, and by their means is a pathway opened unto that Light… Rejoice therefore, O Initiate, for the greater thy trial the greater thy Triumph” (Liber Librae).

There is a reaffirmation of the fact that initiates may help guide others in order to enable them to not fall into common pitfalls. There is also an assertion that “there are many who think themselves to be Masters” who are not even close, “Masters” being a name for those who have succeeded in treading the Path. Those who “think themselves to be Masters” includes people who earnestly may think they have attained but have only obtained minor glimpses of truth as well as those who may be called “charlatans” insofar as they knowingly prey upon earnest seekers by deception and manipulation.

One thing that is particularly striking is the mention that “the Way of Service” is what “leads thereto,” i.e. to becoming a Master. There are several ways to understand what is meant by “the Way of Service” that are all connected. Firstly, there is the fact which has already been mentioned repeatedly: one function of initiates is to be a guide to others on the path. In many systems, once one has become judged to be sufficiently advanced in understanding (or “attainment” or any other similar term), one becomes a teacher or guide to others – there are many traditions that involve the “transmission” of wisdom from guru or Master to disciple, from the initiated to uninitiated.

Related to this way of understanding “the Way of Service” is the fact that, especially within Thelema, there is an emphasis on “coming back to the world” once one has attained. This is virtually identical to the bodhisattva vow in Mahayana Buddhism whereby one swears to return from nirvana (liberation, attainment, etc) back to samsara (the mundane world of ignorance) in order that all beings may be liberated. There are plentiful examples within the Western tradition of this same idea, often involving the symbolism of someone who has attained returning from a distant and/or isolated place; prominent examples include returning from a mountain (e.g. Moses, Muhammad, and Nietzsche’s Zarathustra) as well as returning from the wilderness (e.g. Jesus). That is, becoming a Master is tied up in the Way of Service for one does not become a Master solely for enlightening oneself but also to help others attain to the Light.

Finally, connected to these other two ways of understanding “the Way of Service,” one can understand this Service in a more general sense:  it requires a diminishing of one’s attachment to the ego, the personal identity or sense of self, and one cannot become a Master if one clings to this self with its self-oriented goals. In all systems of attainment, one seeks the “unknown Crown” which is always beyond the personal sense of self or “ego”; it is, to use the language of the Gnostic Mass again, “Thou who art I beyond all I am.” It should be noted that in none of these ways of understanding the Way of Service is there any semblance of “servility,” of abasing oneself before others or self-denigration: it is a Service of strength, of one who overflows with Light and so bestows it upon others that they may partake of it.

“Now the Great Work is one, and the Initiation is one, and the Reward is one, however diverse are the symbols wherein the Unutterable is clothed.”

This is an especially important point: essentially, initiation always leads to the One, to “that unknown Crown,” to “the Unutterable.” The mystics and initiates of all times have spoken of the same “Great Work,” but everyone has used different symbols and language to explain it. In a Holy Book of Thelema it is written, “There must ever be division in the word. For the colours are many, but the light is one” (Liber LXV). This is a beautiful image where the Light, the “Unutterable,” is always One, but it enters through the prism of the world and each individual who speaks about it represents one color among many. There must always be a diversity of expression, but they are all facets pointing to the one Light. An identical idea is expressed in another Holy Book of Thelema where it is written:

“To you who yet wander in the Court of the Profane we cannot yet reveal all; but you will easily understand that the religions of the world are but symbols and veils of the Absolute Truth. So also are the philosophies. To the adept, seeing all these things from above, there seems nothing to choose between Buddha and Mohammed, between Atheism and Theism” (Liber X). 

The Mysteries in the New Aeon

It is understood that there is a single Light, “the Absolute Truth,” “the Unutterable,” et cetera, and the diversity of expression are simply different ways to symbolize and veil that Unity. In Thelema, there is a further understanding that there are different “formulas” of initiation or attainment that are efficacious in one time but that need to be updated for a new era or “aeon.” A virtually identical notion is held in the Hindu doctrine of the “yugas” or epochs (e.g. the Kali Yuga) where the requirements to attain liberation change with each “yuga.”  This is the essential meaning behind the idea that we are in a “New Aeon.” Let’s look into this idea in more depth:

In the world of Western esotericism or “occultism,” there is a certain symbolic way that the “Mysteries” of the path of initiation are explained. In general, there are a series of ceremonial rituals which each candidate undergoes, symbolizing the stages of illumination and offering guidance on the Path. Most importantly, there is a “Hierophant” (literally meaning “one who reveals sacred things”) whose purpose is to serve as the dispenser of the Mysteries. Ultimately, this Hierophant represents or reflects the God within each individual who is the true Hierophant of every initiate.

In one esoteric tradition, that of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, the Path was symbolized in various psycho-dramas of the various “degrees” of initiation. The Hierophant sat in the East, the place of the rising Sun, while other officers sat in other quarters. This Hierophant not only dispensed the Mysteries as the “initiator” but also represented the “formula” of the Mysteries themselves. In this system, the Hierophant was represented as Osiris, a god who underwent death and was resurrected in a more “divine” form. This essentially means that attainment was achieved through a life-death-resurrection process, the “formula” of Osiris. This, of course, includes the formula represented by the death and resurrection of Christ who is seen as one expression of the “Osirian” formula (along with Attis, Adonis, Dionysus, et cetera).

In something called the “Ceremony the Equinox,” the various officers rotate around the room, taking on new offices with a new individual becoming the Hierophant. In the same way, there was an “Equinox of the Gods” where the gods themselves shifted their positions: Osiris no longer represented the formula of initiation. This is why the era or aeon where his formula was active is called the “Aeon of Osiris” or the “Aeon of the Dying God.” Now Horus sat in the East as the Hierophant and a new formula of attainment was put in place: “the word of the Law is Thelema” (AL I:39).  This is the symbolism at work in The Book of the Law when it is written, “Abrogate are all rituals, all ordeals, all words and signs. Ra-Hoor-Khuit hath taken his seat in the East at the Equinox of the Gods… Hoor in his secret name and splendour is the Lord initiating” (AL I:49). In Thelema, this Equinox of the Gods is said to have occurred on the Vernal Equinox of 1904, with the new Book of the Law – a new Law for a new aeon – being received a few days afterward. Crowley comments on this verse of The Book of the Law: 

“This verse [AL I:49] declares that the old formula of Magick — the Osiris-Adonis-Jesus-Marsyas-Dionysus-Attis-et cetera formula of the Dying God – is no longer efficacious. It rested on the ignorant belief that the Sun died every day, and every year, and that its resurrection was a miracle. The Formula of the New Aeon recognizes Horus, the Child crowned and conquering, as God. We are all members of the Body of God, the Sun; and about our System is the Ocean of Space. This formula is then to be based upon these facts. Our ‘Evil’, ‘Error’, ‘Darkness’, ‘Illusion’, whatever one chooses to call it, is simply a phenomenon of accidental and temporary separateness. If you are ‘walking in darkness’, do not try to make the sun rise by self-sacrifice [i.e. the formula of Osiris], but wait in confidence for the dawn, and enjoy the pleasures of the night meanwhile. The general allusion is to the Equinox Ritual of the G[olden] D[awn].”

There are many aspects of the path of initiation that have changed – or rather, are better understood – in the New Aeon. A more in-depth look into the major aspects that have changed is given in the series of essays “New Aeon Initiation.” What is notable in Thelema is the understanding that the Law of this Aeon will shift again in the future: Thelema is for this Aeon and a new Law will come about when there is another shift, another “Equinox of the Gods.” This is what is spoken to in another line of The Book of the Law:

“But your holy place shall be untouched throughout the centuries: though with fire and sword it be burnt down & shattered, yet an invisible house there standeth, and shall stand until the fall of the Great Equinox; when Hrumachis shall arise and the double-wanded one assume my throne and place. Another prophet shall arise, and bring fresh fever from the skies; another woman shall awake the lust & worship of the Snake; another soul of God and beast shall mingle in the globèd priest; another sacrifice shall stain the tomb; another king shall reign; and blessing no longer be poured To the Hawk-headed mystical Lord!” (AL III:34).

There will be a “fall of the Great Equinox” and, instead of Horus, the god “Hrumachis” will arise, and a new god – “the double-wanded one” – will be installed in the East as Hierophant with a different “formula” for a new aeon. Crowley comments, “Hrumachis is the Dawning Sun; he therefore symbolizes any new course of events.” Therefore “Hrumachis shall arise” is another way to say the light of a new aeon will come. Crowley continues, “The ‘double-wanded one’ is ‘Thmaist of dual form as Thmais and Thmait’, from whom the Greeks derived their Themis, goddess of Justice.” Crowley is referring to Thmaist as an officer of the Golden Dawn ceremonies; Thmaist is identical to the Greek “Themis” and the Egyptian “Maat” or simply “Ma,” all gods of Justice and balance. Crowley continues, “Following him [Horus] will arise the Equinox of Ma, the Goddess of Justice, it may be a hundred or ten thousand years from now; for the Computation of Time is not here as There… Strength will prepare the Reign of Justice. We should begin already, as I deem, to regard this Justice as the Ideal whose Way we should make ready, by virtue of our Force and Fire.”

Summary

Initiation is the process whereby we come to the one Light, the “unknown Crown” within each of us. It can only be attained through our own efforts, although other initiates and adepts may guide us to point the way and help avoid common pitfalls. Fresh Fever From the Skies: The Collected Writings of IAO131There is a single Light, although it is expressed in many different ways; it is the same Light regardless of belief or tradition. The old initiatory formula of Osiris became no longer efficacious with the dawning of the New Aeon of Horus whose word of the Law is Thelema. Further details of the nature of initiation in this New Aeon can be explored in the series “New Aeon Initiation.” In the distant future, the Aeon of Horus will itself end and a new god, that of Justice, will arise with a new Law.

Love is the law, love under will.

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The First Act of Magick

The Primary Act of Magick

The First Act of Magick

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

The Will is the dynamic motion of your Being, and your sole right and duty is to do that Will (AL I:42). Most of us go about our lives in a state of darkness: there is ignorance about who we really are and we are not in touch with our Will.  Battered about by thoughts, emotions, and circumstance, we can be like a rudderless boat adrift in the sea. Really, we are all like this to a certain extent, sometimes more so than at other times, but we have all been “wandering in the Darkness” as it is said in the Neophyte initiation ceremony of the Golden Dawn.

Although not all individuals are called to the Path of striving to do one’s Will, there are those of us – most likely including yourself if you are taking time to read this – who have perceived that there is something more to life than merely being a victim of circumstance, of simply eating, working, sleeping, and then dying. There is a greater purpose awaiting, a fuller way to live: there is the possibility of Light. 

Magick is the Science and Art of causing Change in conformity with Will. This means that Magick is essentially the science and art of Life. Those of us who are called to the Path engage in some form of Magick in order to try to find the Light of Will, whether through meditation, ritual, or whatever else. No one would engage in any form of Magick if they did not believe in the possibility of improving themselves and their lives; the very act implies a conscious desire to change. Since we perceive the possibility of the Light and don’t want to live in darkness, the most basic form of Magick involves altering the way we act in the world, trying to become more conscious and intentional in the way we engage with circumstance. That is, we don’t want to just stumble about the world through the darkness; we want the light and freedom of conscious intent. This involves, in some way or another, the discipline of not reacting to things in our typical, conditioned, habitual ways. We  – for example – try to eat better, think in new and different ways, not be carried away by emotions, and not follow out every passing whim or desire. We do these things when we remember to do them, and we fail when we forget ourselves and our Path.

This is then the primary act of Magick: remembering. If you do not remember to do something, you will not do it, regardless of whether you have the strength and skill to carry it out or not. For the sake of example, if you are trying not to insult people out of anger, there are two possibilities: you will either forget and insult someone out of anger again or you will feel angry and you will remember your Path. Only then is the possibility of change open to you. Your discipline allows for the possibility of choice: without remembering you will simply react in the same habitual way. Remembering is the possibility of liberty, and forgetting is the resignation to slavery.

The most important thing to remember is who you really are. So who are you really? You are not the physical stuff of your body, the thoughts that pass through your mind, the emotions that well up, or your desires. You are not your personality or your career or your possessions. In the language of Hermeticism, you are not the four Elements: you are Spirit. You are the Light of consciousness itself, the “Khabs” or star, and every aspect of experience is merely “the dance of the Veil of Life upon the Face of the Spirit” (Liber XV). Actually, you are even beyond consciousness. Consciousness is simply the vehicle of the expression of That which you really are: boundlessness. Call it infinity, Godhead, Dharmakaya, the Absolute, True Self, Atman, the Truth, or whatever else you like, but this is ultimately what we are. This is what every mystic, yogi, and buddha who has ever lived has tried to express and this is also what Thelema expresses.

In a sense, The Book of the Law is a text telling you to remember who you really are. Crowley wrote, “There are many ethical injunctions of a revolutionary character in the Book, but they are all particular cases of the general precept to realize one’s own absolute God-head and to act with the nobility which springs from that knowledge. Practically all vices springs from failure to do this” (Confessions).

Well, what does The Book of the Law have to say about remembering? There are two instances of the word “remember” and they both essentially say the same thing: Remember that you are Hadit. In the second chapter where Hadit is the speaker it says, “But remember, o chosen one, to be me; to follow the love of Nu in the star-lit heaven; to look forth upon men, to tell them this glad word” (AL II:76). Remember to be me, to be Hadit. You are the inexhaustible, procreative life-will, the expression of Energy through Possibility, the “love of Nu.” From this Hadit-perspective, every Experience is a sacrament, a Fulfillment of the union of Hadit with one of the infinite possibilities of Nuit. Where are your petty quarrels, your resentments, and your fears when you remember you are Hadit? “Dost thou fail? Art thou sorry? Is fear in thine heart? Where I am these are not” (AL II:46-47).

Also in the second chapter, the Book says, “Remember all ye that existence is pure joy; that all the sorrows are but as shadows; they pass & are done; but there is that which remains” (AL II:9). If you remember that you are Hadit, you will naturally know that existence is pure joy: if you are All, then every Event is the fulfillment of your Will, every Experience is a new note in the music of your rapturous love-song to Nuit. Insofar as we identify with those things that pass and are done, we fall back into darkness, we become shadows and sorrow is naturally our lot. Crowley wrote, “For in each Man his Inmost Light is the Core of his Star. That is, Hadit; and his Work is the Identification of himself with that Light” (Liber Aleph).

This is the primary act of Magick, the foundation upon which all other acts should be based: Remember.

Love is the law, love under will.

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Top 10 Myths about True Will

Top 10 Myths about True Will

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

The concept of “True Will”, or simply “Will”, is fundamental to the Law of Thelema since our central tenet is “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law” (AL I:40), along with “Thou hast no right but to do thy will” (AL I:42) and “There is no law beyond Do what thou wilt” (AL III:60). Thelema, after all, means “Will.”

For Will being such a central concept in Thelema there are many misconceptions about it that limit our understanding as well as limit our potential for accomplishing or manifesting our Wills. Many of these myths or misconceptions are highly interrelated, but they are also different in their emphasis or approach; the list is not meant to be exhaustive or comprehensive but to hopefully lead to further thought and clarity about the notion of Will. Most fundamentally, this is a short list intended to challenge some common misconceptions about the Will in order that we may know and do our Wills more freely and joyously.

1) True Will is found at a certain point in time.

The first myth is that True Will is discovered during a discrete event, a certain point in history. This means that you don’t know your Will but in the future you might, upon having some kind of insight or experience, suddenly know it. In contrast, Crowley informs us that “The will is but the dynamic aspect of the self…” (Liber II). In this sense, the Will is simply the expression of our Nature. However poorly or incompletely, our Nature can’t help but be expressed in some way, which is to say: We are always doing our Wills to some extent, but we could also always do a little “better” in the sense of doing it more fully and with more awareness. Even if we do have sudden or life-altering insight into the nature of our Wills, this doesn’t mean that this understanding might not need to change or be revised in the future.

2) True Will is something to be found in the distant future.

Related to the first myth is the notion that True Will is not found in the present but at some point in the future. That is, one thinks “I don’t know my Will now but I will hopefully know it in the future.” Now, it is perfectly reasonable to believe that one’s knowledge or understanding of one’s Will may increase in the future, but – again – we are always doing our Wills to some extent. That is, the Will is not “found,” but our awareness and understanding of it may increase. Viewing Will as something found in the future forecloses on the potential for us working our best to do our Wills in the present moment. We may bemoan our circumstances, wishing that “if we only knew our Wills…” that everything would be alright, rather than working with ourselves in the present to be more fully aware and joyful with what is already occurring. That is, our very concepts of the Will as being something distant prevent us from seeing what is already here: we are all stars (AL I:3) and Hadit, the flame of our Wills, is always at the core of our Being (AL II:6). It is our job or duty to figure out how to work with ourselves and our environment in order to most fully manifest that inherent Truth within us.

3) You’re either doing your Will or you’re not doing it.

The language used around Will is often “digital” in the sense that we speak of it in “on or off” terms. I believe it is both more effective and more accurate to think of Will in “analog” terms, i.e. that we are always doing Will to some extent. The language of “True Will” implies this kind of digital dichotomy of true/false. In contrast, the idea of “pure will” is one of a matter of degrees. A totally “pure” Will is 100% Will with no admixture or contaminants, just like pure juice is 100% juice – there is no moral connotation whatsoever. We may (for the sake of explanation) say that we may not be currently doing 100% of our Will but we may be at 30% or 80% of our potential at any given moment. This puts the responsibility on ourselves to try to enact our Will in the fullest, most “pure” way possible. It also means that we don’t need to think of others in terms of them doing or not doing their Wills; rather, everyone is doing their Will to some extent or another, and we can all engage in more intentional effort to get closer to the ideal of “100% Will.”

4) True Will is a single, unchanging thing.

The language used around Will also often implies that Will is a single thing, i.e. “It is my Will to be a doctor.” In fact, the idea of Will being a certain career in particular is one of the most common examples of this misconception. One example Crowley speaking in this way is when he writes, “to each will come the knowledge of his finite will, whereby one is a poet, one prophet, one worker in steel, another in jade” (De Lege Libellum). The error comes in taking the idea of “Will = the right career” literally rather than metaphorically. That is, a career is a metaphor for what you do with your life, hopefully suited to your proclivities, talents, and aspirations. Obviously the Will is not confined to a single career – especially nowadays when most people on average have multiple careers throughout their lives – as is apparent with Crowley’s own life. It would not be correct to say it was Crowley’s Will to be a poet because it would neglect that he was a magician; it would not be correct to say it was Crowley’s Will to be a mountain climber because it would neglect that he was a chess player, etc. In fact, the Will is – as already mentioned – “the dynamic aspect of the self…” (Liber II). It is dynamic, meaning constantly in motion. Crowley reinforces this when he writes that the “True Self[‘s]… Nature is to move continually, it must be understood not as static, but as dynamic, not as a Noun but as a Verb” (Duty). This dynamic nature of Will is further implied in the language that describes it as “Motion” as when Crowley writes that the Will is “the true Motion of thine inmost Being” (Liber Aleph, chapter 9). 

5) True Will can be completely encapsulated in a phrase.

Connected to the previous misconception is the notion that Will can be completely encapsulated in a phrase. Since the Will is dynamic, its Nature being “to Go”, no phrase can ever completely encapsulate it. There are certainly benefits to being able to encapsulate one’s Will in a phrase such as having a consciously articulated standard by which one can judge if a certain course of action is expressive or inhibitive of the Will. For example, one might formulate the Will as “It is my Will for my body to be healthy,” which can act as a standard by which you determine that eating junk food is not part of your Will (for all practical purposes). That being said, there must be an understanding that the Will is ultimately beyond verbal articulation. As it is said, “Also reason is a lie; for there is a factor infinite & unknown; & all their words are skew-wise” (AL II:32). The Will is supra-rational insofar as it cannot be accurately described or completely described by the faculty of Reason and thought. As Crowley says, “[The mind] should be a perfect machine, an apparatus for representing the universe accurately and impartially to its master. The Self, its Will, and its Apprehension, should be utterly beyond it” (New Comment to AL II:28). The mind with its thoughts and Reason is simply a part of one’s Being; the Will is the Verb of our whole Being so naturally a small part can not entirely comprehend or encompass the Whole.

6) True Will requires a mystical experience.

In connection with Myth #2, there is a tendency to believe that knowledge of the Will only comes with some kind of mystical experience, whether one believes (or conceives of) it as Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel, enlightenment, crossing the Abyss, or whatever else. While we might say that Knowledge and Conversation (or other mystic experiences) might help clarify the Will or get rid of some of its obstacles such as excessive egotism, the Will is both always present to some extent and can always be worked with to some extent. The notion of Will as only knowable through mystical experiences neglects the fact that there are very simple, straightforward, and even “mundane” ways in which we can work with ourselves to do our Wills better or more fully. For example, one could realize that a certain relationship is not working anymore: it causes constant turmoil, suffering, bitterness, and resentment. One could then realize that, in order to do one’s Will more fully, one needs to end the relationship. “O lover, if thou wilt, depart!” (AL I:41). There are many things in our lives that we know, on some level, can be changed to more fully enact our Wills such as getting rid of certain habits that are already known to be troublesome. Whether this is as simple as “watching less television” or as concrete as “quitting opiates” or more subtle like “being less attached to expectations” or more general like “becoming more mindful and less emotionally reactive”, there are many ways to work on ourselves that are available to everyone without the slightest experience of or inclination toward mystical experiences. Even more troubling, believing that only some mystical experience in the future can be used as an excuse or a “spiritual bypass” to avoid dealing with these more “mundane” issues such as unprocessed emotions or unwanted habits. 

7) It is everyone’s Will to attain.

A generally pervasive belief among Thelemites is that there is a certain kind of “true Thelemite” or “ideal Thelemite.” Another essay more fully explains why this is a misconception but, in short, it relies on having preconceptions as to what is “right” and “wrong” for others’ Wills when the entire foundation of Thelema rests on the notion that each individual is unique. One manifestation of this preconception about what is “right” is the notion that everyone should be striving to “attain,” meaning achieve some kind of mystic gnosis or enlightenment. In fact, The Book of the Law says in the same line as its central maxim: “Who calls us Thelemites will do no wrong, if he look but close into the word. For there are therein Three Grades, the Hermit, and the Lover, and the man of Earth. Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law” (AL I:40).This is further explained in The Vision and the Voice when it is said, “The man of earth is the adherent. The lover giveth his life unto the work among men. The hermit goeth solitary, and giveth only of his light unto men.” It is not inherently everyone’s Will to become a hermit and attain the heights of spiritual illumination – it may very well be someone’s Will to live their lives without concern for these things. More clearly, it says in The Book of the Law that “the Law is for all” (AL I:34). This insistence that everyone must “attain” can easily devolve into a form of spiritual self-superiority that is contrary to the spirit of Liberty that permeates the Law.

8) Your Will has nothing to do with other people.

It is typical to conceive of the Will as something inherent in the individual that has nothing do with other people or their circumstances. I believe this is simply a fault of the language used to describe Will rather than a reality. We are all embedded in a complex interconnection of forces – we are all stars in the web of Infinite Space – and we both affect and are affected by everything around us: “his actions affect not only what he called himself, but also the whole universe” (Liber Librae). Seeing as how the Will is the dynamic aspect of our Nature, it must inherently adapt to the situation or circumstance in which it finds itself. Crowley speaks to this when he writes that the Will is “our true orbit, as marked out by the nature of our position, the law of our growth, the impulse of our past experiences.” (Introduction to Liber AL). Our “position” constantly changes and the Will is “marked out” in part by the nature of our position. Our “position” involves our environment and the people around us. Virtually any kind of articulation of the Will – however provisional or tentative – must include the environment or other people in some way. To say “It is my Will to eat less” involves the food in your environment; to say “It is my Will to be kind” involves your kindness toward other people; to say “It is my Will to promulgate the Law of Thelema” involves those to whom you are promulgating, etc. Even to say “It is my Will to attain Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel” necessarily requires that you create the properly conducive environment to attain that goal. In fact, some of the best lessons come from being attuned to one’s environment and those around you as opposed to ignoring its import or impact. If you are getting constant messages in the form of unnecessary difficulties of whatever type, it is perhaps a lesson to alter the way you are adapting to your environment rather than insisting more strongly on going about your way and just bulldozing over others.

9) True Will means you’ll be free from suffering.

The idea of True Will often leads to unrealistic utopian notions as to what Will looks like. The idea that doing one’s Will frees one from suffering is unrealistic on multiple levels. Firstly, suffering is inherent in existence in some form or another insofar as we all get sick, suffer loss, get old, sustain injury, and die. We will always encounter some form of resistance or difficulty in our lives. This should not be seen as some kind of mark of failure on your attempt to do your Will; rather, these inevitable occurrences of suffering, resistance, and difficulty are the means by which we learn and grow. As it is said, “Thou then who hast trials and troubles, rejoice because of them, for in them is Strength, and by their means is a pathway opened unto that Light… the greater thy trial the greater thy Triumph” (Liber Librae). This idea that “doing your Will = no suffering” also depends on the notion that Will is either “on” or “off” as mentioned in Myth #3: even if we are in the mode of “100% Will” for a while, we all inevitably make missteps, encounter unforeseen difficulties, or simply “slip” and don’t do the best we can. Further, the very desire to be free from suffering is, in a sense, an Old Aeon idea: Thelemites do not seek to transcend the material world, exempt ourselves from Samsara, or even avoid suffering. We acknowledge reality as it is without insisting it conform to our a priori ideals as to “how the world should be.” We accept suffering and difficulty in life as “sharp Sauce to the Dish of Pleasure” (Liber Aleph, chapter 59). I believe it is more accurate to say that doing one’s Will means you’ll be free from a great deal of unnecessary suffering. A great deal of our suffering is indeed not inherent or necessary but we, through our various poor habits and misconceptions, subject ourselves to difficulty that can be avoided largely or entirely if we become more aware of and tuned into our Wills.

10) True Will means you’ll be free from conflict.

Connected to the previous myth is the notion that doing one’s True Will means we will be free from all conflict. This is usually based on the fact that The Book of the Law says “thou hast no right but to do thy will. Do that, and no other shall say nay” (AL I:42-43) and Crowley wrote that “[the Law] seems to imply a theory that if every man and every woman did his and her will— the true will— there would be no clashing” (Liber II). Realistically, there will always be people who “say nay,” regardless of the extent to which you are doing your Will, and there will always be “clashing.” The real issue comes from an understanding of “clashing”: If clashing means interpersonal conflict in the form of disagreement and argument, there will never be an end to this unless we all become unthinking, desire-less automatons which is certainly not the goal of the Law of Liberty. Similar to the previous myth, I believe it is more accurate to say that doing one’s Will means you will be free from a great deal of unnecessary conflict. Much of our conflict with others depends on our insistence on knowing what is “right” for others, our own expectations and standards placed upon others, insisting on maintaining a position based on our ego’s self-esteem and identity being tied up with our position, and many other missteps that often naturally fall away to the extent that one focuses on Will rather than arguing. Perhaps that is one reason we are taught to “argue not; convert not; talk not overmuch!” (AL III:42). Again, it is a somewhat Old Aeon fantasy for the world or one’s life to be conflict-free. I believe the acceptance of and involvement with conflict is a distinguishing mark of one who has a New Aeon mentality rather than an Old Aeon one. As Crowley wrote, “Combat stimulates the virile or creative energy” (Duty). Even the most trivial and mundane forms of conflict such as opposing teams in sports or opposing viewpoints in a debate allow for the fun of the game to occur in the first place. Rather than seeking to be free of conflict, we might do better to examine the conflicts in our lives and determine to what extent they are a result of our inability to fully actualize our Wills in order to live more fully and joyfully.

Fresh Fever From the Skies: The Collected Writings of IAO131What all 10 of these myths imply is a view of Will as something always present to some extent, always dynamic and changing, always able to be worked with and worked on regardless of having mystical experiences or not, embedded within the context of our surroundings and other individuals, and accepting of suffering and conflict as things inherent in existence and things to be worked with rather than avoided. This list is not comprehensive in any way, and there are obviously many nuances to the idea of Will and many ways to approach understanding it. Nonetheless, my hope is that challenging some of these ideas as myths or misconceptions can help free our thinking up in order to become aware of the great potential in every moment to enact and rejoice in our Wills.

Love is the law, love under will.

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Feast for the Supreme Ritual & the Equinox of the Gods

A Feast for the Supreme Ritual & the Equinox of the Gods

Feast for the Supreme Ritual & the Equinox of the Gods

NOTE: This ritual is not “official” in any way: It is not traditional in any form nor is it the official ritual of any organization whatsoever. It is simply a way that one might celebrate these Feasts of the Times. 

BACKGROUND

This dramatic ritual combines two feasts, the feast for the Supreme Ritual and the feast for the Equinox of the Gods. The Equinox of the Gods is celebrated on the Vernal Equinox and – since the Supreme Ritual is celebrated on March 20 – they will virtually never fall more than 2 days apart from one another. Since they fall close together on the calendar, since they share a single line in The Book of the Law, and since they are both related to the shift from the Old Aeon to the New, I have combined them into a single ritual and feast.

The Supreme Ritual celebrates the invocation of Horus that was performed on March 20, 1904 and the Equinox of the Gods celebrates the changing of the Aeons from Old, where Osiris ruled, to the New, where Horus now rules. Crowley comments, “The Supreme Ritual is the Invocation of Horus, which brought about the Opening of the New Aeon. The date is March 20. The Equinox of the Gods is the term used to describe the Beginning of a New Aeon, or a New Magical Formula. It should be celebrated at every Equinox…”1

This combined feast has five parts. The first four parts or scenes show important semi-historical events that are relevant to the revelation of the New Aeon, and the last scene involves audience participation in a renunciation of the slave-ideals of the Old Aeon:

  1. The first scene goes back approximately 2,600 years to the time when the Stele of Revealing was created as a funerary stele for Ankh-af-na-khonsu. Since this Stele is an important symbol for Thelema, this scene involves a reading of the content of the Stele of Revealing. There is then a list of the seven Magi that have come to Earth and give their Words since that time. This scene therefore serves to educate the People about the Stele of Revealing and the Magi of the past.

  2. The second scene jumps forward to March of 1904 when Crowley tried to invoke the sylphs, the elementals of Air, through the preliminary invocation of the Goetia (also known as the “Bornless Ritual”), which put Rose into a trance who has vague messages that foreshadow the coming of the New Aeon. Crowley then questions Rose to ascertain the accuracy of her message. He then leads Rose through the Boulaq Museum in Cairo where she points to Stele #666, the Stele of Revealing.

  3. In the third scene, Crowley performs the Invocation of Horus, which “brought about the Opening of the New Aeon.”2

  4. The fourth scene dramatically re-enacts the Equinox of the Gods itself. Osiris’s seat in the East is taken by Ra-Hoor-Khuit and the New Aeon is established.

  5. The fifth scene involves the renunciation of the slave-gods by everyone present who wills to do such. Crowley wrote in a letter to Karl Germer, “You can take outsiders; but everyone who has anything to do with us at all must make a formal renunciation of ideas denounced in AL 49-56. Cap III.”3 He also wrote to Frater Achad, “I am inclined to propose that you should prepare a formula, to be presented at your lectures, by which any person can publicly renounce the errors of Christianity and so on, and accept the Law. Such a person should at that time burn a copy of his old ‘sacred book’, Bible, Mrs. Eddy, or what not, and be marked by you with The Mark of The Beast, to wit, the Acid on the Pulse of the Left Wrist.”4 The renunciation is based on rituals developed by T Polyphilus and T Omphalos.

PERSONS

: 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.

A: Ankh-af-na-khonsu

Dressed in Egyptian garb, or a plain white robe.

: The Magi

Dressed in white robes or in garments proper to the culture of the Saints.

: The Beast

Dressed in blue/azure. He performs the role of Aleister Crowley.

: Rose

Dressed in red/scarlet dress. She performs the role of Rose Crowley.

: Osiris/ Jesus

Dressed as Osiris, as Jesus, or in a black robe, representing the Aeon of Osiris.

: Horus

Dressed as Ra-Hoor-Khuit, or in scarlet and gold.

d : Ma’at

Dressed as Ma’at, representing the Aeon of Ma’at/Thmaist in the future.

c : Isis

Dressed as Isis, representing the Aeon of Isis of the past.

: The People

Dressed as they will. They participate when appropriate.

PART I: Ankh-af-na-khonsu in Egypt & the Seven Magi

[☿ stands in the East]

: Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

: Love is the law, love under will.

: We are gathered here tonight to celebrate the feast for the Supreme Ritual and the feast for the Equinox of the Gods. Crowley wrote, “The Supreme Ritual is the Invocation of Horus, which brought about the Opening of the New Aeon. The date is March 20. The Equinox of the Gods is the term used to describe the Beginning of a New Aeon, or a New Magical Formula. It should be celebrated at every Equinox.” To understand the Supreme Ritual and the Equinox of the Gods, we must go back in time over two and a half millenia.

[He says the following while moving to the West where A stands in Osiris Risen in front of the Tomb]

: Over 2,500 years before the reception of The Book of the Law , Ankh-af-na-khonsu, a high priest of Mentu, lived in the Egyptian city known as Thebes. As was customary, a funerary stele was prepared for Ankh-af-na-khonsu.

[☿ moves behind A and holds up the front of the Stele over A ‘s head]

On the front it said:

A:

Above, the gemmed azure is
The naked splendour of Nuit;
She bends in ecstasy to kiss
The secret ardours of Hadit.
The winged globe, the starry blue,
Are mine, O Ankh-af-na-khonsu!

I am the Lord of Thebes, and I
The inspired forth-speaker of Mentu;
For me unveils the veiled sky,
The self-slain Ankh-af-na-khonsu
Whose words are truth. I invoke,
I greet Thy presence, O Ra-Hoor-Khuit!

Unity uttermost showed!
I adore the might of Thy breath,
Supreme and terrible God,
Who makest the gods and death
To tremble before Thee:
– I, I adore thee!
Appear on the throne of Ra!
Open the ways of the Khu!
Lighten the ways of the Ka!
The ways of the Khabs run through
To stir me or still me!
Aum! let it fill me!

The light is mine; its rays consume Me:
I have made a secret door
Into the House of Ra and Tum,
Of Khephra and of Ahathoor.
I am thy Theban, O Mentu,
The prophet Ankh-af-na-khonsu!
By Bes-na-Maut my breast I beat;
By wise Ta-Nech I weave my spell.
Show thy star-splendour, O Nuit!
Bid me within thine House to dwell,
O winged snake of light, Hadit!
Abide with me, Ra-Hoor-Khuit!

[☿ then holds the back of the Stele up] 

: …And on the back it said:

A:

Saith of Mentu the truth-telling brother
Who was master of Thebes from his birth:
O heart of me, heart of my mother!
O heart which I had upon earth!
Stand not thou up against me a witness!
Oppose me not, judge, in my quest!
Accuse me not now of unfitness
Before the Great God, the dread Lord of the West!
For I fastened the one to the other
With a spell for their mystical girth,
The earth and the wonderful West,
When I flourished, o earth, on thy breast!

The dead man Ankh-f-n-khonsu
Saith with his voice of truth and calm:
O thou that hast a single arm!
O thou that glitterest in the moon!
I weave thee in the spinning charm;
I lure thee with the billowy tune.
The dead man Ankh-f-n-khonsu
Hath parted from the darkling crowds,
Hath joined the dwellers of the light,
Opening Duaut, the star-abodes,
Their keys receiving. The dead man Ankh-f-n-khonsu
Hath made his passage into night,
His pleasure on the earth to do Among the living.

[☿ then steps away, gives the Stele to A , and A backs into the Tomb, which is then covered]

: There was then great darkness as the Aeon of Osiris took hold upon the earth. Throughout these times of darkness, the Secret Chiefs send forth certain men to bring Light to the world know as Magi. There are many magical teachers but in recorded history we have scarcely had a dozen Magi in the technical sense of the word. They may be recognized by the fact that their message may be formulated as a single word, which word must be such that it overturns all existing beliefs and codes.5 The essential characteristic of the Grade is that its possessor utters a Creative Magical Word, which transforms the planet.6 He then is called the Logos, or Logos Aionos, that is to say, he Word of the Aeon or Age, because he is verily that Word.7

[Pause]

First, there was Lao-Tzu, whose word was TAO.

[Lao-Tzu comes out with a candle and a copy of the Tao Teh Ching. He places the Tao Teh King on the High Altar and turns to face the People while holding the candle.]

This Tao is the true Nature of Things, being itself a Way or Going, that is, a kinetic and not a static Conception. Also He taught this Way of Harmony in Will… So then this Tao is Truth, and the Way of Truth, and therefore was He Logos of His Aeon, and His true Name or Word was Tao.8

(Lao-Tzu): The Tao that can be spoken is not the eternal Tao The name that can be named is not the eternal name The nameless is the origin of Heaven and Earth The named is the mother of myriad things Thus, constantly without desire, one observes its essence Constantly with desire, one observes its manifestations These two emerge together but differ in name The unity is said to be the mystery Mystery of mysteries, the door to all wonders.9

[Lao-Tzu turns to place his candle on the High Altar, which he then kneels and adores]

(led by ☿): So mote it be.

: Next came he whom Men call Gotama, or Siddartha, or the Buddha, and His Word was ANATTA. [Siddhartha comes out with a candle and either a statue of Buddha,a copy of sutras, or a copy of the Dhammapada. He places the object on the High Altar and turns to face the People while holding the candle.]

The Root of His whole Doctrine was that there is no Atman, or Soul, as Men ill translate it, meaning a Substance incapable of Change. Thus, He, like Lao-Tze, based all upon a Movement, instead of a fixed Point. And His Way of Truth was Analysis, made possible by great Intention of the Mind toward itself, and that well fortified by certain tempered Rigour of Life. And He most thoroughly explored and Mapped out the Fastnesses of the Mind, and gave the Keys of its Fortresses into the Hand of Man. But of all this the Quintessence is in this one Word ANATTA, because this is not only the foundation and the Result of his whole Doctrine, but the Way of its Work.10

(Siddhartha): There are these two extremes that are not to be indulged in by one who has gone forth. Which two? That which is devoted to sensual pleasure with reference to sensual objects: base, vulgar, common, ignoble, unprofitable; and that which is devoted to self-affliction: painful, ignoble, unprofitable. Avoiding both of these extremes, the middle way realized by the Tathagata — producing vision, producing knowledge — leads to calm, to direct knowledge, to self-awakening, to Unbinding.11

[Siddhartha turns to place his candle on the High Altar, which he then kneels and adores]

(led by ☿): So mote it be.

: Next there was Krishna who has Names and Forms innumerable, and we know not His true Human Birth, for His Formula is of the Major Antiquity.

[Krishna comes out with a candle and a copy of the Bhagavad Gita. He places the Bhagavad Gita on the High Altar and turns to face the People while holding the candle.]

The true Word of Krishna was AUM, importing a Statement of the Truth of Nature.12 The word AUM is the sacred Hindu mantra which was the supreme hieroglyph of Truth, a compendium of the Sacred Knowledge. It represents the complete course of sound. Symbolically, this announces the course of Nature as proceeding from free and formless creation through controlled and formed preservation to the silence of destruction. The three sounds are harmonized into one; and thus the word represents the Hindu Trinity of Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva; and the operations in the Universe of their triune energy.13

(Krishna): The Supreme Self is eternal, and the visible world including the physical body is transitory. The reality of these two is indeed certainly seen by the seers of truth. The Supreme Self by which all this universe is pervaded is indestructible. No one can destroy the imperishable Self. One who thinks that the Self is a slayer, and the one who thinks Self is slain, are both ignorant. Because Self neither slays nor is slain. (2.19) The Supreme Self is neither born nor does it die at any time. It does not come into being, or cease to exist. It is unborn, eternal, permanent, and primeval.14

[Krishna turns to place his candle on the High Altar, which he then kneels and adores]

(led by ☿): So mote it be.

: There was also Tahuti, or Thoth, whose word was AMOUN.

[Tahuti comes out with a candle and a papyrus or a statue of himself. He places the object on the High Altar and turns to face the People while holding the candle.]

Amoun was “the concealed one” from whom the Hebrews borrowed their holy word “Amen.”15 The true Word of Tahuti, AMOUN, therefore made Men to understand their secret Nature, that is, their Unity with their true Selves, or, as they then phrased it, with God.16

(Tahuti): True, without Deceit, certain and most true. As Above, so Below, and as Below, so Above, in the Accomplishment of the Miracle of the One Thing. And just as all things have come from One, through the Mediation of One, so all things follow from this One Thing in the same Way. Its Father was the Sun, the Moon its Mother. It was carried in the Womb of Air, and the Earth was its Nurse. It is the Father of every Willed Thing in the whole World. Its Power is perfected if it becomes as Earth. Separate the Earth from Fire: the Fine from the Gross, gently and with great skill.17

[Tahuti turns to place his candle on the High Altar, which he then kneels and adores]

(led by ☿): So mote it be.

: There was then a follower of Tahuti was an Egyptian whose Name is lost; but the Jews called Him Mosheh, or Moses, and their Fabulists made Him the Leader of their Legendary Exodus. Yet they preserved His Word, and it is IHVH [Yod-Heh-Vav-Heh].

[Tahuti comes out with a candle and the Old Testament or Tanakh. He places the Old Testament on the High Altar and turns to face the People while holding the candle.]

This Word is itself a Plan of the Fabrick of the Universe, and upon it hath been elaborated the Holy Qabalah, whereby we have Knowledge of the Nature of all Things soever upon every Plane of By-coming, and of their Forces and Tendencies and Operations, with the Keys to their Portals.18

(Mosheh):  And God spake all these words, saying, I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.19

[Mosheh turns to place his candle on the High Altar, which he then kneels and adores]

(led by ☿): So mote it be.

There was also Dionysus.

[Dionysus comes out with a candle and statue of himself or a papyrus. He places the object on the High Altar and turns to face the People while holding the candle.]

His Word hath spread into many Lands, and we know it today as INRI with the secret IAO concealed therein. And the Meaning of this Word is the Working of Nature in Her Changes; that is, it is the Formula of Magick whereby all Things reproduce and recreate themselves.20 This formula is the principal and most characteristic formula of Osiris, of the Redemption of Mankind. I is Isis, Nature, ruined by A, Apophis the Destroyer, and restored to life by the Redeemer Osiris.21

(Dionysus): I call upon loud-roaring and revelling Dionysus, primeval, double-natured, thrice-born, Bacchic lord, wild, ineffable, secretive, two-horned and two-shaped. Ivy-covered, bull-faced, warlike, howling, pure, You take raw flesh, you have feasts, wrapt in foliage, decked with grape clusters. Resourceful Eubouleus, immortal god sired by Zeus When he mated with Persephone in unspeakable union. Hearken to my voice, O blessed one, and with your fair-girdled nymphs breathe on me in a spirit of perfect agape.22

[Dionysus turns to place his candle on the High Altar, which he then kneels and adores]

(led by ☿): So mote it be.

Then, Mohammed, who followed, is darkened and confused by His Nearness to our own Time, so that we say not save with diffidence that His Word ALLH may mean this or that.

[Mohammed comes out with a candle and a copy of the Qur’an. He places the Qur’an on the High Altar and turns to face the People while holding the candle.]

But we are bold concerning His Doctrine of the Unity of God, for God is Man, and he said therefore: Man is One.

(Mohammed): There is no god but Allah.23 Say: He is Allah, the One and Only; Allah, the Eternal, Absolute; He begetteth not, nor is He begotten; And there is none like unto Him.24

[Dionysus turns to place his candle on the High Altar, which he then kneels and adores]

(led by ☿): So mote it be.

[Pause]

: All words are sacred and all prophets true; save only that they understand a little.25

[The veil is drawn to encompass the Magi and the candles]

It was not for over a millenium that another Magus arose…

PART II: The Discovery of the Stele

: For over 2,500 years, the Stele of Revealing laid undisturbed until it was discovered by a French archaeologist and placed in the Boulaq Museum in Cairo, Egypt under the inventory number 666. In March of the year 1904 era vulgaris, Rose and the Beast were on their honeymoon in Cairo, Egypt when the Beast decided to try to show Rose the elementals of Air known as the “sylphs.”

: Thee I invoke, the Bornless one. Thee, that didst create the Earth and the Heavens: Thee, that didst create the Night and the day. Thee, that didst create the darkness and the Light. Thou art Osorronophris: Whom no man hath seen at any time. Thou art Iabos: Thou art Iapos: Thou hast distinguished between the just and the Unjust. Thou didst make the female and the Male. Thou didst produce the Seed and the Fruit. Thou didst form Men to love one another, and to hate one another. I am Ankh-af-na-Khonsu Thy Prophet, unto Whom Thou didst commit Thy Mysteries, the Ceremonies of Khem: Thou didst produce the moist and the dry, and that which nourisheth all created Life. Hear Thou Me, for I am the Angel of Apophrasz Osorronophris: this is Thy True Name, handed down to the Prophets of Khem.26

[A brief pause]

: Hmmm… no sylphs in sight at all…

[☽ sways as if in a trance]

: They are waiting for you.

: What’s that?

: They are waiting for you.

: Who is waiting for me?

: It’s all about the child.27

: What nonsense is this?

: You have neglected and offended him. You must invoke him!

: I make a sport of exposing people who claim clairvoyance, my dear. You should beware.

: He is waiting for you.

: Well, then, let’s prove the identity of this waiter and your authenticity as his messenger. What are his moral qualities?

: Force and fire.

: Describe the conditions caused by him.

: Deep blue light.

: Who is his enemy?

: Forces of the waters – the Nile.

: What is his lineal figure?

: A triangle pointing downwards.

: Its color?

: Red.

: What is his planetary nature?

: Mars.

: What is his weapon?

: The double wand of power.

: What is his place in the temple?

: The West, but it will soon change.

: Out of this list of names, which one is he?

: Horus.

: [aside] Here is a novice to magick, a woman who should never have been allowed outside a ballroom, but she is now speaking with the authority of God, and proving her clairvoyance by unhesitating correctness. [To Rose] Come with me to the Boulaq Museum, and you will pick out his image.

: They traveled to the Boulaq Museum in Cairo so that Rose could pick out the image of the god she saw. She passed by several images of Horus and the Beast smiled with glee at thinking he had disproved Rose’s message. They went upstairs, and a glass case stood in the distance, too far off for its contents to be recognized, but Rose instantly recognized it.

: There! There he is!

: The Beast approached the case and saw that it was marked as Stele #666. At that moment he could not debate the authenticity of Rose’s message, and he resolved to immediately rectify his previous scorn of Horus through an invocation.

PART III: The Invocation of Horus

: Unprepared and uninvoking Thee, I, Perdurabo, Brother of Rosæ Rubeæ et Aureæ Crucis, am here in Thy Presence – for Thou art Everywhere, O Lord Horus! – to confess humbly before Thee my neglect and scorn of Thee.28

How shall I humble myself enough before Thee? Thou art the mighty and unconquered Lord of the Universe: I am a spark of Thine unutterable Radiance.

How should I approach Thee? but Thou art Everywhere. But Thou hast graciously deigned to call me unto Thee, to this Exorcism of Art, that I may be Thy Servant, Thine Adept, O Bright One, O Sun of Glory!

Thou hast called me – should I not then hasten to Thy Presence? With unwashen hands therefore I come unto Thee, and I lament my wandering from Thee –but Thou knowest!

Yea, I have evil! If one blasphemed Thee, why should I therefore forsake Thee? But Thou art the Avenger; all is with Thee. I bow my neck before Thee; and as once Thy sword was upon it, so am I in Thy hands. Strike if Thou wilt: spare if Thou wilt: but accept me as I am. My trust is in Thee: shall I be confounded?

This Ritual of Art; this Forty and Fourfold Invocation; this Sacrifice of Blood – these I do not comprehend. It is enough if I obey Thy decree; did Thy fiat go forth for my eternal misery, were it not my joy to execute Thy Sentence on myself? For why? For that All is in Thee and of Thee; it is enough if I burn up in the intolerable glory of Thy presence.

Enough! I turn toward Thy Promise. Doubtful are the Words: Dark are the Ways: but in Thy Words and Ways is Light. Thus then now as ever, I enter the Path of Darkness, if haply so I may attain the Light. Hail!

[Drums begin a slow war-like beat or some other war-like music is played]

[People are prompted to ‘sing along’ for the occurences of ‘Thee, Thee I invoke!’ ‘I invoke Thee!’ and ‘ABRAHADABRA’]

Strike, strike the master chord! Draw, draw the Flaming Sword! Crowned Child and Conquering Lord, Horus, avenger!

O Thou of the Head of the Hawk! Thee, Thee, I invoke! [At every ‘Thee I invoke,’ throughout whole ritual, give the sign of Apophis; Rose can also put incense on the censer]
Thou only-begotten-child of Osiris Thy Father, and Isis Thy Mother. He that was slain; She that bore Thee in Her womb flying from the Terror of the Water. Thee, Thee I invoke!
O Thou whose Apron is of flashing white, whiter than the Forehead of the Morning! Thee, Thee, I invoke!
O Thou who hast formulated Thy Father and made fertile Thy Mother! Thee, Thee, I invoke!
O Thou whose garment is of golden glory with the azure bars of sky! Thee, Thee, I invoke!
Thou, who didst avenge the Horror of Death; Thou the slayer of Typhon! Thou who didst lift Thine arms, and the Dragons of Death were as dust: Thou who didst raise Thine Head, and the Crocodile of Nile was abased before Thee! Thee, Thee, I invoke!
O Thou whose Nemyss hideth the Universe with night, the impermeable Blue! Thee, Thee, I invoke!
Thou who travellest in the Boat of Ra, abiding at the Helm of the Aftet boat and of the Sektet boat! Thee, Thee, I invoke!
Thou who bearest the Wand of Double Power ! Thee, Thee, I invoke!
Thou about whose presence is shed the darkness of Blue Light, the unfathomable glory of the outmost Ether, the untravelled, the unthinkable immensity of Space. Thou who concentrest all the Thirty Ethers in one darkling sphere of Fire! Thee, Thee, I invoke!
O Thou who bearest the Rose and Cross of Life and Light! Thee, Thee, I invoke! The Voice of the Five. The Voice of the Six. Eleven are the Voices. ABRAHADABRA!

Strike, strike the master chord! Draw, draw the Flaming Sword! Crowned Child and Conquering Lord, Horus, avenger!
By thy name of Ra, Hawk of the Sun, the glorious one, I invoke Thee! [At every ‘I invoke Thee,’ throughout whole ritual, give the sign of Apophis; Rose can also put incense on the censer]
By thy name Harmachis, youth of the Brilliant Morning, I invoke Thee!
By thy name, Mau, Lion of the Midday Sun, I invoke Thee!
By thy name Tum, Hawk of the Even, crimson splendour of the Sunset, I invoke Thee!
By thy name Khep-Ra, O Beetle of the hidden Mastery of Midnight, I invoke Thee!
By thy name Heru-pa-Kraat, Lord of Silence, Beautiful Child that standest on the Dragons of the Deep, I invoke Thee!
By thy name Apollo, O man of Strength and splendour, O poet, O father, I invoke Thee!
By thy name of Phoebus, that drivest thy chariot through the Heaven of Zeus, I invoke Thee!
By thy name of Odin, O warrior of the North, O Renown of the Sagas, I invoke Thee!
By thy name of Jeheshua, O child of the Flaming Star, I invoke Thee!
By Thine own, Thy secret name Hoori, Thee I invoke!
The Names are Five. The Names are Six. Eleven are the Names! ABRAHADABRA!

Behold! I stand in the midst. Mine is the symbol of Osiris; to Thee are mine eyes ever turned. Unto the splendour of Geburah, the Magnificence of Chesed, the mystery of Daath, thither I lift up mine eyes. This have I sought, and I have sought the Unity: hear Thou me!

In my hand is thy Sword of Revenge; let it strike at Thy Bidding! By the Sword I invoke Thee! The Voice of the Five. The Voice of the Six. Eleven are the Voices. ABRAHADABRA!

Mine is the Head of the Hawk! Abrahadabra!

[Give Sign of Apophis at each ‘Abrahadabra’]

I am the only-begotten-child of Osiris and Isis! Abrahadabra!
Mine is the Apron of flashing white! Abrahadabra!
I have formulated my Father and made fertile my Mother! Abrahadabra!
Mine is the garment of golden glory with the azure bars of the sky! Abrahadabra!
I have avenged the Horror of Death, I raised mine Head and the Crocodile of the Nile was abased before me! Abrahadabra!
Mine Nemyss hideth the Universe with night! Abrahadabra!
I travellest in the Boat of Ra, abiding at the helm! Abrahadabra!
I bearest the Wand of Double Power! Abrahadabra!
About me is shed the darkness of Blue Light! Abrahadabra!
I concentratest all the Thirty Ethers in one darkling sphere of Fire! Abrahadabra!
Mine is the Rose and Cross of Life and Light! Abrahadabra!

[Remain in the sign until the conclusion of the invocation; drums/music ceases]

Therefore I say unto thee: Come forth and dwell in me; so that every my Spirit, whether of the Firmament, or of the Ether, or of the Earth or under the Earth; on dry land or in the Water, or Whirling Air or of Rushing Fire; and every spell and scourge of God the Vast One may be THOU. ABRAHADABRA!

[Sounds of storms: rain, lightning, thunder, etc]

PART IV: The Equinox of the Gods

[♄ as Osiris/Jesus is in the East on a Throne that is within the opened veil of the High Altar; d as Ma’at is in the North; c as Isis is in the South; ♂ as Horus/Ra-Hoor-Khuit is in the West. The Holy Bible with Old & New Testament is on the superaltar in the East. The sounds of the storm continue.]

: The Voice of the Lord upon the Waters: the Terror of God upon Mankind. The voice of the Lord maketh the Skies to tremble: the Stars are troubled: the Aires fall. Cursed, cursed be the Earth, for her iniquity is great. Oh Lord! Let Thy Mercy be lost in the great Deep! Open thine eyes of Flame and Light, O God, upon the wicked! Lighten thine Eyes! The Clamour of Thy Voice, let it smite down the Mountains! Let us not see it! Cover we our eyes, lest we see the End of Man. Close we our ears, lest we hear the cry of Woman. Let none speak of it: let none write it!29 No!

d : No!

c : No!

: All is changed!

d : All is confounded!

c : Naught is ordered!

: The white is stained with blood!

d : The black is kissed of the Christ!

c : Return!

: Return!30 Tremble ye, O Pillars of the Universe, for Eternity is in travail of a Terrible Child; she shall bring forth an universe of Darkness, whence shall leap forth a spark that shall put his father to flight.

d : The Obelisks are broken!

c : The stars have rushed together!

d : T he Light hath plunged into the Abyss:

c : The Heavens are mixed with Hell!

: My Father shall not hear their Noise: His ears are closed: His eyes are covered with the clouds of Night.

d : The End!

c : The End!

: The End! For the Eye of Shiva He hath opened: the Universe is naked before Him: for the Aeon of Saturn leaneth toward the Bosom of Death!31

: It is a new chaos that thou findest here: chaos for thee: for us it is the skeleton of a New Truth!32 I have opened mine eye, and the universe is dissolved before me, for force is mine upper eye-lid and matter is my lower eye- lid. I gaze into the seven spaces, and there is naught.33

[♂ chases ♄ out of his Throne to the West and then to the South and then to the North where he sits]

: I have gone forth to war, and I have slain him that sat upon the sea, crowned with the winds. I put forth my power and he was broken. I withdrew my power and he was ground into fine dust. Rejoice with me, O ye Sons of the Morning; stand with me upon the Throne of Lotus; gather yourselves up unto me, and we shall play together in the fields of light. I have passed into the Kingdom of the West after my Father. Behold! where are now the darkness and the terror and the lamentation? For ye are born into the new Aeon; ye shall not suffer death. Bind up your girdles of gold! Wreathe yourselves with garlands of my unfading flowers! In the nights we will dance together, and in the morning we will go forth to war; for, as my Father liveth that was dead, so do I live and shall never die!34

[♂ takes the different books and objects from the High Altar that were set thereupon by the Magi and with each, ♂ holds them up and says:]

Curse them!35

[After all have been thrown down, ♂ says:]

Bahlasti! Ompehda! I spit on your crapulous creeds.36

[♂ spits on them and tramples them underfoot; d takes the Stele of Revealing and places it on the superaltar and then sits in the West; c takes The Book of the Law, places it below the Stele on the superaltar, and then she sits in the South; ♂ sits in the throne in the East]

: Abrogate are all rituals, all ordeals, all words and signs!

d : Ra-Hoor-Khuit hath taken his seat in the East at the Equinox of the Gods!

c : And let Asar be with Isa, who also are one!

: But they are not of me!

d : Let Asar be the adorant, Isa the sufferer!

c : Hoor in his secret name and splendour is the Lord initiating!37

[A pause. ♂ gets up and stands before his throne]

: The word of the law is Θελημα .38

cd ☿: A ka dua / Tuf ur biu / Bi a’a chefu / Dudu nur af an nuteru!

: Every man and every woman is a star.39

cd ☿: A ka dua / Tuf ur biu / Bi a’a chefu / Dudu nur af an nuteru!

: Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.40

cd ☿: A ka dua / Tuf ur biu / Bi a’a chefu / Dudu nur af an nuteru!

: The word of Sin is Restriction.41

cd ☿: A ka dua / Tuf ur biu / Bi a’a chefu / Dudu nur af an nuteru!

: So with thy all; thou hast no right but to do thy will. Do that, and no other shall say nay. For pure will, unassuaged of purpose, delivered from the lust of result, is every way perfect.42

cd ☿: A ka dua / Tuf ur biu / Bi a’a chefu / Dudu nur af an nuteru!

: Love is the law, love under will.43

cd ☿: A ka dua / Tuf ur biu / Bi a’a chefu / Dudu nur af an nuteru!

: There is no law beyond Do what thou wilt.44

[ ♂ takes his seat in the throne]

cd ☿: A ka dua / Tuf ur biu / Bi a’a chefu / Dudu nur af an nuteru!

PART V: The Renunciation of the Slave-Ideals of the Old Aeon

[☿ passes out slips of paper and pens, and generally acts as the facilitator of the People]

: If it is your Will to renounce the slave-ideals of the Old Aeon, Please write upon this paper, silently, and as briefly as you can, the name of the religion that you grew up with and the essential falsehood or wrong conduct taught by that religion.

[Pause for ~1 minute]

: Is there anyone present who wishes to disavow their previous ties to slave-ideals of Old Aeon religion with the ambition of embracing the Law of Thelema? Please rise.

: Hoor hath a secret fourfold name; it is Do What Thou Wilt. Four words: Naught—One—Many—All… Thou—Child! Thy Name is holy. Thy Kingdom is come. Thy Will is done. Here is the Bread. / Here is the Blood. / Bring us through Temptation! Deliver us from Good and Evil! That Mine as Thine be the Crown of the Kingdom, even now. ABRAHADABRA.

[brief pause]

: Brothers and sisters, is it your will to renounce the superstitious oppression of the Old Aeon?

: It is.

: We have to fight for Freedom against oppressors, religious, social, or industrial; and we are utterly opposed to compromise. Every fight is to be a fight to the finish; each one of us for himself, to do his own will; and all of us for all, to establish the Law of Liberty. Let every man bear arms, swift to resent oppression, generous and ardent to draw sword in any cause, if justice or freedom summon him! [Pause] Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

: Love is the law, love under will.

: I am come against sorrow, against weariness, against them that seek to enslave you. I pour you lustral wine, that giveth you delight both at the sunset and the dawn. Come with me, and I will give you all that is desirable upon the earth. Because I give you that of which Earth and its joys are but as shadows. They flee away, but my joy abideth even unto the end. Only those who fear shall fail. Those who have bent their backs to the yoke of slavery until they can no longer stand upright; them will I despise. But you who have defied the law; you who have conquered by subtlety or force; you will I take unto me, even I will take you unto me. Only if ye are sorrowful, or weary, or angry, or discomforted; then ye may know that ye have lost the golden thread, the thread wherewith I guide you to the heart of the groves of Eleusis. My disciples are proud and beautiful; they are strong and swift; they rule their way like mighty conquerors. The weak, the timid, the imperfect, the cowardly, the poor, the tearful – these are mine enemies, and I am come to destroy them. This also is compassion: an end to the sickness of earth. A rooting-out of the weeds: a watering of the flowers. O my children, ye are more beautiful than the flowers: ye must not fade in your season.45

: Please come forward and place your slip of paper in the fire. [☿ aids the People in accomplishing this, while ♂ says: ]

: I am in a secret fourfold word, the blasphemy against all gods of men. Curse them! Curse them! Curse them! With my Hawk’s head I peck at the eyes of Jesus as he hangs upon the cross. I flap my wings in the face of Mohammed & blind him. With my claws I tear out the flesh of the Indian and the Buddhist, Mongol and Din. Bahlasti! Ompehda! I spit on your crapulous creeds. Let Mary inviolate be torn upon wheels: for her sake let all chaste women be utterly despised among you! Also for beauty’s sake and love’s!46 There is no law beyond Do what thou wilt.47

: You will now stand in the posture that we call dieu garde, with your feet together at a right angle, and your thumbs linked before you. [ ☿ demonstrates]

: It is in this position that we break the bonds of slavery and forge those that lead to Freedom. You will now renounce the slave-ideals of the religions of the Old Aeon and their superstitions. At each query, make the loud declaration, “I renounce it!”

[Pause]

♂ Do you renounce the superstition of the Old Aeon?

: [lead by ☿] I renounce it.

Do you renounce the tyranny of the Old Aeon?

: I renounce it.

♂ Do you renounce the oppression of the Old Aeon?

: I renounce it.

♂ : Repeat after me… BAHLASTI!

: BAHLASTI!

♂ : OMPEHDA!

: OMPEHDA!

♂ : The word of the law is Θελημα. Every man and every woman is a star. Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law. The word of Sin is Restriction. Thou hast no right but to do thy will. Do that, and no other shall say nay. For pure will, unassuaged of purpose, delivered from the lust of result, is every way perfect. Love is the law, love under will.

[Pause and hold up Mark of the Beast stamp]

: By the Sign of the Mark of the Beast, I applaud your renunciation of the slave-ideals and celebrate that you have broken the bonds of the slave-gods of the Old Aeon.

[♂ puts the Mark of the Beast on the inner left wrist of each individual with ☿ attending him if needed. After marking an individual, ♂ says to each:]

: There is no law beyond Do what thou wilt.

[When finished with the last person, ♂ goes up to the throne in the East]

: Conquer! That is enough. Thou shalt have danger & trouble. Ra-Hoor-Khu is with thee. Fear not at all; fear neither men nor Fates, nor gods, nor anything. Money fear not, nor laughter of the folk folly, nor any other power in heaven or upon the earth or under the earth. Nu is your refuge as Hadit your light; and I am the strength, force, vigour, of your arms. Refuse none, but thou shalt know & destroy the traitors. I am Ra-Hoor-Khuit; and I am powerful to protect my servant. Success is thy proof: argue not; convert not; talk not over much! Them that seek to entrap thee, to overthrow thee, them attack without pity or quarter; & destroy them utterly. Swift as a trodden serpent turn and strike! Be thou yet deadlier than he! Drag down their souls to awful torment: laugh at their fear: spit upon them! I am the God enthroned in Ra’s seat, lightening the girders of the soul. To Me do ye reverence! to me come ye through tribulation of ordeal, which is bliss. There is success.48

[The veil is drawn]

: I witness and commend your renunciation of slave-ideals of the Old Aeon. A feast has been prepared to celebrate the Supreme Ritual that invoked Horus and the Equinox of the Gods, when the world entered a New Aeon of the Law of Liberty, ruled by the Crowned and Conquering Child.

[☉ or ☽ 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 Supreme Ritual and the feast for the Equinox of the Gods.

: To what end?

: That I may accomplish the Great Work.

: Love is the law, love under will.

[☉ knocks once, makes toasts if (s)he wills]

References

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1 New Comment to Liber AL, II:40.

2 New Comment to Liber AL, II:40.

3 Letter from Aleister Crowley to Karl Germer, March 14, 1942.

4 Letter from Aleister Crowley to Charles Stansfield Jones, a.k.a., Frater Achad, April 1, 1919.

5 Confessions, chapter 49.

6 From Crowley’s “One Star in Sight.”

7 Liber Aleph, “De Magis Ordinis A∴A∴ Quibus Caro Fit Verbum.”

8 Liber Aleph, “De Magis Tempori Antiqui: Imprimis, De Lao-Tze.”

9 Chapter 1 from Tao Teh Ching.

10 Liber Aleph, “De Gautama.”

11 Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta, translated by Thanissaro Bhikku.

12 Liber Aleph, “De Sri Krishna et de Dionyso.”

13 Magick in Theory and Practice, chapter 7.

14 An adaptation of chapter 2 of the Bhagavad Gita.

15 Liber ABA, part II.

16 Liber Aleph, “De Tahuti.”

17 Adapted from the Emerald Tablet of Hermes.

18 Liber Aleph, “De Quodam Mago Aegyptiorum, Quem Appelunt Judaei Mosheh.”

19 Exodus 20:1-6, King James Version

20 Liber Aleph, “De Sri Krishna et de Dionyso.”

21 Magick in Theory and Practice, chapter 7.

22 Adapted from the “Invocation of Dionysus” from Orphic hymns.

23 The first part of the “shahada” of Islam.

24 Sura 112 of the Qur’an.

25 Liber AL vel Legis, II:56.

26 From the “Preliminary Invocation of the Goetia,” which is more likely similar to what Crowley actually performed rather than Liber Samekh, which has changes that obviously occurred after the revelation of the New Aeon.

27 These are both things that Rose reportedly said to Crowley after the Bornless Invocation.

28 This entire invocation is adapted from the one used by Crowley as reported in The Equinox of the Gods, chapter 6.

29 The Vision and the Voice, 29th Aethyr.

30 This entire exchange also comes from The Vision and the Voice, 29th Aethyr.

31 This exchange comes from The Vision and the Voice, 30th Aethyr.

32 The Vision and the Voice, 29th Aethyr.

33 The Vision and the Voice, 22nd Aethyr.

34 The Vision and the Voice, 22nd Aethyr.

35 Liber AL vel Legis, III:50.

36 Liber AL vel Legis, III:54.

37 Liber AL vel Legis, I:49.

38 Liber AL vel Legis, I:39.

39 Liber AL vel Legis, I:3.

40 Liber AL vel Legis, I:40.

41 Liber AL vel Legis, I:41.

42 Liber AL vel Legis, I:42-44.

43 Liber AL vel Legis, I:57.

44 Liber AL vel Legis, III:60.

45 Liber Tzaddi, lines 10-14, 18-19, 23-27

46 Liber AL vel Legis, III:49-56, as stated in the letter from Crowley.

47 Liber AL vel Legis, III:60.

48 Liber AL vel Legis, III:11, 17, 42, 61-62, 69.

 

 

Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica - The Gnostic Mass

The Officers of the Gnostic Mass – pt.3: The Deacon, Children, & the Congregation

Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica - The Gnostic Mass

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions related herein are strictly my own. They do not represent any kind of official stance of Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica, Ordo Templi Orientis, or anyone else. 

THE DEACON

1) The Master of Ceremonies: Leader of the People

The Deacon generally serves as the “master of ceremonies” in several ways. The Deacon acts as the leader of the People (i.e. the Congregation) right from the beginning. Before the Mass begins, the Deacon commonly is the individual who explains the participatory elements of the Mass to newcomers, he is the Officer that technically opens the door of the Temple to lead in the Congregation,  and the Deacon leads the People in the participatory elements (Step, Creed, Signs, Anthem, et cetera) within the Mass itself. This “role” of the Deacon is intertwined with several others:

2) The Mediator: Mercurial Psychopomp

Similar to being the leader of the People, the Deacon acts as the Mercurial “psychopomp.” The psychopomp was traditionally the spirit or god (or whatever else) that led someone through the afterlife like Mercury, Virgil to Dante, Valkyries to the Norse, et cetera. In this way, the Deacon symbolizes the mediator between several things. The Deacon is the mediator between the Supernal Triangle (represented by the High Altar) and the rest of the Tree of Life; the Deacon is able to go up to the High Altar and come back down in the beginning of the Mass, and he is also able to go up and receive the Eucharist for communion to bring it down for the Children to hold. The Deacon therefore also serves as mediator between the Priest/Priestess and the People, either leading the People to emulate the Priest/Priestess (as when the People are guided to strike their breasts like the Priest) or helping the Priest to communciate with the People (such as by holding the Lance).

3) Aid of Priest & Priestess

In a similar role as above, the Deacon acts as the aid for the Priest and Priestess. The Deacon brings the Priestess the Priest’s robe, cap and crown, he holds the Priest’s Lance, and he also aids the Priest and Priestess by generally taking care of and leading the People as previously mentioned.

4) The Faculties of the Conscious Self

Much like the Deacon literally aids the Priest in his endeavors, the Deacon can symbolize the faculties of the conscious self. If the Priest represents the Subject-hood of each individual, the Deacon symbolizes the various conscious faculties of memory, volition, imagination, desire, and reason. Qabalistically, this can be seen as the Priest being Tiphareth (Sol) and the Deacon represents the surrounding Sephiroth that aid and are coordinated by Tiphareth. This also shows several other ideas symbolically at play: Firstly, this symbolism shows the conscious mental faculties (the Deacon) as that which helps mediate between the Self (or “Individuality”; the Priest) and the physical world, including the body (the People/Congregation). Secondly, it shows the conscious mental faculties as guiding the Self and inflaming it to continue to union with the Not-Self (the Unconscious; the Priestess), as when the Deacon remains “below the Abyss” and intones the Collects while the Priest and Priestess commune in the Supernal Triangle (the High Altar).

5) The Vav of Tetragrammaton: The Hermetic Androgyne, Mercurius

In terms of the symbolism of Tetragrammaton, the Deacon is the Vav (YHVH). Reinforcing this, the Priest wears red (Fire/Yod), the Priestess wears blue (Water/Heh), and the Deacon wears yellow (Air/Vav). Further, the Deacon’s “stand” is “between the small altar and the font.” This often, for practical reasons, looks more like the Deacon is standing at the small altar (situated symbolically at Tiphareth in terms of the Temple layout), which is the place of Vav of Tetragrammaton. More subtly, the Deacon’s stand is specifically between the small altar (Sol/Tiphareth) and the font (Luna/Yesod). That is, the Deacon stands as the Hermetic-Mercurial Androgyne between Sol and Luna. The Tarot trump associated with the Path connecting Yesod and Tiphareth is Atu XIV: Art. This card shows the intermixing of Sol & Luna in the Alchemical Grail, and the Hermetic-Mercurial Androgyne can be seen presiding over the operation in the center. Further reinforcing this symbolism is that Atu XIV: Art is attributed to Sagittarius, the Archer, and as the Master Therion says, “The Arrow is, in fact, the simplest and purest glyph of Mercury, being the symbol of directed Will” (The Book of Thoth).

6) The Logos

Related to the Deacon’s function as Mercury is his role as bearing the Word of the Law, i.e. being the Logos. The description of the Deacon actually says “He bears The Book of the Law,” i.e. he bears the Logos (for the Qabalah-inclined, note that “Logos” = LGS = Legis, and LGS = 93). At the very beginning of the Gnostic Mass, the Deacon places The Book of the Law, symbolic of the Logos/Word of this particular Aeon, upon the High Altar. The Deacon then turns and proclaims the Law to the People, symbolically establishing a Divine Covenant between Heaven and Earth for this Aeon whose Law is “Do what thou wilt.” This reflects the previously mentioned role of being “mediator,” specifically between Heaven and Earth. Just as Prometheus brought the fire from the Heavens down to Mankind,  as Aiwass is the minister of Hoor-Paar-Kraat, as Christ the Son bears the Word of his Father, as Mercury is the messenger of Jupiter (et cetera), the Deacon acts as the Logos or Word of the Ineffable Lord. The Deacon therefore represents “Mercury [who] is pre-eminently the bearer of the Wand: Energy sent forth [and] therefore represents the Wisdom, the Will, the Word, the Logos by whom the worlds were created” (The Book of Thoth); also in this light, the Master Therion writes, “In the Beginning was the Word, the Logos, who is Mercury; and is therefore to be identified with Christ. Both are messengers; their birth mysteries are similar” (The Paris Working).

THE CHILDREN

1) Final Heh of Tetragrammaton

The Children form a kind of Two-in-One (or One-in-Two) Officer. They are called the “negative child” and “positive child” because the negative child bears the “passive” elements of Earth (salt) and Water, while the positive child bears the “active” elements of Air (incense) and Fire (censer). In this sense, they represent the Final Heh (YHVH) that is associated with Malkuth, the 10th Sephirah. Just as they encompass all 4 Elements, Malkuth represents the material world that is composed of these 4 Elements (in fact, Malkuth is often shown divided into 4 sections on the Qabalistic Tree of Life). Their double-nature reflects itself into other aspects of their symbolism:

2) Duality of the World 

The two Children “are clothed in white and black,” which symbolizes the duality of the world below the Abyss. As Helena and Tau Apiryon note, “The black and white squares [of the dais] may be seen as symbolizing the interplay of primal opposites,” and the Children are dressed in colors reflecting this interplay of primal opposites. In general, the two Children travel up and down the Pillars of Mercy and Severity, acting as reflections thereof.

3) Aids of Priest & Priestess

The Children aid the Priest & Priestess in their roles in several ways including holding the active and passive Elements for the Priestess to purify and consecrate the Priest (and vice versa), they “attend the PRIEST and PRIESTESS, ready to hold any appropriate weapon as may be necessary” during the Consecration of the Elements, and they hold the two elements of the Eucharist during communication.

4) Future Priest & Priestess

The two Children act as the future Priest and Priestess. They are, after all, called “Children” which implies, in a way, they will mature into different roles in time. They bear active and passive Elements, reflecting the Lance and Grail on a “lower scale,” and they move and act complementarily much as the Priest and Priestess do.

THE CONGREGATION

1) The Gnostic and Catholic Church: Final Heh of Tetragrammaton

The Congregation – or “the People” – also act as the Final Heh of Tetragrammaton (YHVH) in their own way. In this way, the People act as the symbolic representation of humanity in general or the Earth itself. If we are using the symbolic map of Tetragrammaton, we can see in the Creed that Baphomet is in the place of Vav (YHVH) and the “one Gnostic and Catholic Church of Light, Life, Love and Liberty, the Word of whose Law is ΘΕΛΗΜΑ” as the Final Heh (YHVH). In this way, the Church is the “bride” of Baphomet much as the Christian Church saw itself as the “bride of Christ.” Consider in this light what is said in Revelation 21:1, “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem [Gnostic Catholic Church, Final Heh], coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband [Baphomet, Vav].”

2) The Brethren: The Company of Heaven

The People are mentioned as “the Brethren” to whom the virtues are administered. As the famous saying goes, “As above, so below.” The order of the Stars in Heaven is reflects in the order of “every man and every woman” (ALI:3) on Earth, with Hadit burning at the core of stars and in the hearts of men (ALII:6). As it says in Matthew 5:14, “Ye are the light of the world.” This shows each individual as being part of “the company of heaven” (ALI:2), sources of Light & Life on Earth as the stars are in the Heavens. There is a deep symbolic connection between the company of stars in Heaven and the “communion of Saints,” with the many stars representing the many Saints “that transmitted the Light of the Gnosis.” Note that the Priest strikes his breast, showing his communion with the Saints, and all the People similarly strike their breasts. Jung discusses the medieval Alchemists’ understanding of this when he writes:

“Dorn, like Khunrath, owes much to Paracelsus with whom he concurs when he supposes an ‘invisibilem solem plurimis incognitum’ in man (an invisible sun unknown to many). [Also], ‘Sol est invisibilis in hominibus, in terra vero visibilis, tamen ex uno et eodem sole sunt ambo’ (The sun is invisible in men, but visible in the world, yet both are of one and the same sun)… Thus the one archetype emphasized by Khunrath is known also to Dorn as the sol invisibilis [invisible sun] or imago Dei [image of God]. In Paracelsus the lumen naturae comes primarily from the ‘astrum’ or ‘sydus,’ the ‘star’ in man… Indeed, man himself is an ‘Astrum’: not by himself alone, but for ever and ever with all apostles and saints; each and every one is an astrum, the heaven a star… therefore saith also the Scripture: ye are lights of the world [Matthew 5:14].”

3) Reflections of the Priest

As mentioned previously, the Priest represents each individual in the Congregation. At the culmination of the Gnostic Mass, “The PEOPLE communicate as did the PRIEST, uttering the same words in an attitude of Resurrection,” in effect imitating him and showing an identity therewith. Similarly, as mentioned previously, the People strike their breast as the Priest does, showing all of their connection to and communion with the eternal Priesthood of the Saints. Since “the PRIESTESS and other officers never partake of the Sacrament, they being as it were part of the PRIEST himself,” the various Officers of the Gnostic Mass can be seen as aspects of the Priest. By extension, the entire Gnostic Mass can therefore be seen as an enactment of a mythopoetic psychodrama within the consciousness or “soul” of each Congregant, showing-forth the internal process of the Great Work and allowing each individual present to partake thereof.

Again: This list is not exhaustive, nor is the symbolism of any of those meanings listed above completely fleshed out. The idea is to show there are many interconnected, intertwining, overlapping sets of symbolism by which one can more fully appreciate the mysterious depths of the central ceremony of Ordo Templi Orientis.

[← Part 2: The Priestess ←]

Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica - The Gnostic Mass

The Officers of the Gnostic Mass – pt.2: The Priestess

Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica - The Gnostic Mass

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions related herein are strictly my own. They do not represent any kind of official stance of Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica, Ordo Templi Orientis, or anyone else. 

THE PRIESTESS

1) The Unconscious Self

Just as the Priest symbolizes the conscious self, the Priestess symbolizes the unconscious self. The “unconscious self” constitutes all those parts of the psyche (which originally meant “soul”) that are not conscious, including both the “lower” instincts of the body and the “higher” impulses of the spirit. The unconscious encompasses both the Nephesh (“animal soul”; material impulses) and the Neshamah (divine intuition; spiritual impulses) in terms of the Qabalistic view of the soul. The Priestess is therefore the “greeting of Earth and Heaven” in herself. In terms of the unconscious self, the Priestess represents those impulses that appear to the Priest (or conscious self) to come from “outside.” This basic idea will be expanded in the different symbolic ideas that follow:

2) The Object of Desire

The Priestess represents the Object that complements the Subject-hood of the Priest. In terms of Yoga, the Priestess represents the Object of concentration with which the Subject of awareness unites in samadhi. 

The Priestess therefore represents the ultimate Object of Desire, which we understand as symbolized by “Nuit” in Thelema. In Liber AL it says, “At all my meetings with you shall the priestess say—and her eyes shall burn with desire as she stands bare and rejoicing in my secret temple—To me! To me! calling forth the flame of the hearts of all in her love-chant. Sing the rapturous love-song unto me! Burn to me perfumes! Wear to me jewels! Drink to me, for I love you! I love you!” (I:62-63). The Master Therion comments on this: “Nuit: Her public Cult. Now lastly she ordains her public cult. Her image, she being All-Desired, shall be a living Woman, calling to her that Spirit which shall make her perfect in Event. Of all this Rite I have written in another place” (The Comment Called D). The “Rite” referenced is an explicit reference to the Gnostic Mass where these lines from Liber AL are actually spoken by the Priestess.

The Priestess represents the object of desire but not simply the object of sexual desire; the idea is that sexual desire (and all other desires) are masks or veils upon the ultimate Desire to accomplish the Great Work, to unite Microcosm and Macrocosm, Subject and Object, Adept and Angel, Lance and Cup (et cetera), in the ecstatic union of Love. In fact, the Gnostic Mass can be seen as a ritualized way to harness the power of sexuality to accomplish the “spiritual” aim of the Great Work. As the Master Therion says, “We of Thelema are not the slaves of Love. ‘Love under will’ is the Law. We refuse to regard love as shameful and degrading, as a peril to body and soul. We refuse to accept it as the surrender of the divine to the animal; to us it is the means by which the animal may be made the Winged Sphinx which shall bear man aloft to the House of the Gods” (New Comment to AL I:51).

3) The Heh of Tetragrammaton: The Mother of Life

In the symbolism of Tetragrammaton, the Priestess can represent the “Heh” (YHVH). This Heh relates to the Mother, the Queen, the Element of Water, and the magical weapon of the Cup. The Priestess bears the Holy Graal, a form of the Cup, a receptive instrument of Universal Life. She is clothed in blue, the color of the Element of Water that is attributable to Heh of Tetragrammaton. On the Priest’s first step toward the Veil, the Priestess identifies with Nuit, the star-goddess of Infinite Space and the Infinite Stars thereof, which is the ultimate Maternal idea beyond even notions of gender. In the Creed, the “Mother of all” is called BABALON, who is “the Mother of Abominations” and the “mighty Mother” who bears “the cup of her whoredom” (12th Aethyr). All of these things are Mother-Form symbols attributable in the Qabalah to the 3rd Sephirah, Binah. All these things go to reinforce the fact that the Priestess can be identified as the Heh of Tetragrammaton, the Mother-Queen of Life.

4) The Final Heh of Tetragrammaton: The Virgin Daughter

To further complicate things (as is natural with symbolism), the Priestess can be identified with the Final Heh of Tetragrammaton (YHVH). On the Tree of Life, Yod can be attributed to Chokmah, Heh to Binah, Vav to Tiphareth (and the surrounding Sephiroth), and Final Heh to Malkuth. In this scheme, Final is attributed to the Earth, and the Priestess’ first words are “Greeting of Earth and Heaven” (showing her identity with both). She is also called “Virgin pure without spot” by the Priest, and she is explicitly named “The VIRGIN” in the beginning of the rubric of the Gnostic Mass (and she is said to be “Virgo Intacta”).

Further, in the incestuous Qabalistic drama of Tetragrammaton, the Son/Prince is said to marry the Daughter/Princess and set her upon the Throne of the Mother. This is explicitly seen when the Priest says, “I, PRIEST and KING, take thee, Virgin pure without spot; I upraise thee; I lead thee to the East; I set thee upon the summit of the Earth.” The Priest then literally sets the Priestess upon the Throne in the East. As it says in the 4th Aethyr, “And this is that which is written: Malkuth shall be uplifted and set upon the throne of Binah.” Also in the 9th Aethyr it says, “This is the daughter of BABALON the Beautiful, that she hath borne unto the Father of All. And unto all hath she borne her. This is the Daughter of the King [Final Heh of YHVH]. This is the Virgin of Eternity. This is she that the Holy One hath wrested from the Giant Time, and the prize of them that have overcome Space. This is she that is set upon the Throne of Understanding [Heh of YHVH]. Holy, Holy, Holy is her name, not to be spoken among men. For Kor they have called her, and Malkuth, and Betulah, and Persephone [all Earthly names attributable to Earth, the 10th Sephirah of Malkuth].” In this sense, the Priestess begins as the Princess/Daughter and, by virtue of her interaction with the Prince/Son, is uplifted to become Queen/Mother on the Throne of the East.

5) The Holy Guardian Angel: The Heavenly Virgin

The Priestess represents the Mother of Life (Atu III: The Empress/Binah), the Virgin-Earth Daughter (Atu XXI: The Universe/Malkuth), and she also represents the Heavenly Virgin or Initiatrix (Atu II: The High Priestess). In this way, she can be attributed to the Path of Gimel on the Tree of Life which descends from Kether across the Abyss to Tiphareth. Atu II is called “The High Priestess” and the role is called the “Priestess.” If we take the Gnostic Mass temple as being laid out according to the Tree of Life, when the Priestess is set upon the High Altar in the East she sits exactly in the place of the Path of Gimel/High Priestess in between Kether (represented by the Stele of Revealing raised up all the way in the East) and Tiphareth (represented by the small altar in the center of the Temple). As the Master Therion says, “She is the symbol of the Angel as represented by the Path of Gimel where is ‘The High Priestess.’ This Path connects Macroprosopus (Kether) and Microprosopus (Tiphereth), the supreme divinity and its human manifestation” (Commentary to Liber LXV).  The Master Therion also writes, “To the aspirant, that is, to the adept who is already in Tiphareth, to him who has attained to the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel, this is the path which leads upwards; and this card, in one system entitled the Priestess of the Silver Star, is symbolic of the thought (or rather of the intelligible radiance) of that Angel. It is, in short, a symbol of the highest Initiation” (The Book of Thoth). In the beginning of the Mass, she descends as the spiritual impulse that draws the Priest out of the darkness of the Tomb to the Path of the Great Work represented by the rest of the Gnostic Mass.

6) The Woman of the New Aeon

In yet another sense, the Priestess represents the Woman of the New Aeon. As Liber AL says, “Let the woman be girt with a sword before me” (III:11), and “in his woman called the Scarlet Woman is all power given” (I:15). In the foreground of Atu V: The Hierophant, we see “the woman girt with a sword; she represents the Scarlet Woman in the hierarchy of the new Aeon… This woman represents Venus as she now is in this new aeon; no longer the mere vehicle of her male counterpart, but armed and militant” (The Book of Thoth). We can see in the rubric of the Gnostic Mass that the Priestess “bears the Sword from a red girdle.” This shows her “girt with a sword” and the “red girdle” identifies her with Nuit when She says her symbol is “The Five Pointed Star, with a Circle in the Middle, & the circle is Red” (Liber ALI:60). The Gnostic Mass therefore is, on one level, showing that the Feminine is now equal and complementary to the Masculine, for this is the Aeon of the Child who combines Mother and Father, feminine and masculine, as Two-in-One in each star.

7) The Feminine Operator in Sexual Magick

As if it is not already obvious from the previously mentioned symbolism (and the Mass itself), the Priestess represents the feminine operator in sexual magick. I say “feminine” because she represents one half of the equation, and each individual “soul” is androgynous, containing both male and female (and all other opposites) in itself. In this way, in Hindu symbolism, the Priestess represents Shakti and the Priest is Shiva. The Lance represents the lingam, the Cup represents the yoni, the particle of the Host represents the Seed of the lingam, and the wine of the Cup represents the menstruum of the yoni. They are combined in the Grail and then the Two-in-One Eucharist is ingested so that the partaker thereof becomes Godhead Itself.

6) Kundry

If the Priest represents Parsival, the Priestess represents Kundry. As the Master Therion says, “for every Parsifal there is a Kundry” (Liber Aleph). Kundry assumes multiple forms and roles in Wagner’s opera, reflecting the fact that the Priestess is Venus, Earth, and Luna all wrapped into one (as explained in the previous sections). She is even called the “nameless one” in Parsival, implying she has many identities and many forms.

In Act I, Kundry is the messenger of the Grail (Kundry is used by Wagner as a play on the German “Kunde” that implies a news-bringer or messenger), who comes into the scene and allows for the entire rest of the drama to unfold, for Parsival is a pure fool and does not even know his own name; it is Kundry who knows of Parsival’s true identity and past, allowing him to remember his heritage and his purpose. This is reflected in the Gnostic Mass when the Priest issues from the Tomb and says “I am a man among men, how should I be worthy to administer the virtues to the Brethren?” The Priestess then answers him the purification, consecration, robing, and “activation” of the power of the Sacred Lance.

In Act II, Kundry tempts Parsival which represents the necessity of the Priest’s purity of aspiration to the Highest, not being dragged down into more animalistic-materialistic forms of desire (i.e. what is mentioned previously about the Priestess as the Ultimate Object of Desire behind the veils of other desires). As the Master Therion says, “In order to live his own life, the child must leave the Mother, and overcome the temptation to return to her for refuge. Kundry, Armida, Jocasta, Circe, etc., are symbols of this force which tempts the Hero” (Magick in Theory and Practice) and “in the second act, it is the same quality [of innocent purity] that enables him [Parsival] to withstand the blandishments of the ladies in the garden of Kundry” (The Book of Thoth). In the end, as the Master Therion says, “Kundry is saved in Parsifal’s redemption” (Astrology) and also “[Parsival] redeems not only Kundry, but himself” (The Book of Thoth). This is reflected in the fact that “The PRIESTESS and other officers never partake of the Sacrament, they being as it were part of the PRIEST himself.” In fact, the entire Temple is transformed by the Sacrament, which is to say that the entire Tree of Life – or the entire Being of the individual – is transformed through the partaking thereof. The Master Therion notes that “the only words spoken by Kundry after her redemption were ‘Dienen! Dienen!’ [‘Serving! Serving!’]” (Moonchild). This shows that the retrieval of the Lance and its immersion in the Cup has “ordered Kundry to right Service” (Liber Aleph); that is, the Feminine is in “service” to the Highest and not animalistic impulses, being a pure vehicle of the “joy of the earth” as the Lance is a pure vehicle of “the life of the Sun.”

Again: This list is not exhaustive, nor is the symbolism of any of those meanings listed above completely fleshed out. The idea is to show there are many interconnected, intertwining, overlapping sets of symbolism by which one can more fully appreciate the mysterious depths of the central ceremony of Ordo Templi Orientis.

[← Part 1: Introduction & the Priest ← | → Part 3: The Deacon, Children, & the Congregation →]

The Officers of the Gnostic Mass – pt.1: Introduction & the Priest

Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica - The Gnostic Mass

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions related herein are strictly my own. They do not represent any kind of official stance of Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica, Ordo Templi Orientis, or anyone else. 

INTRODUCTION

The Gnostic Mass is an incredibly deep, complex, multi-layered ceremony. It seems to be an inexhaustible source of meaning and illumination. This is because the Mass itself represents the Mysteries. These are not the secrets that are known by some and guarded from others, but the “Mystery of Mystery” Itself. It represents in dramatic form that which is “secret and ineffable,” “beyond speech and beyond sight,” and “beyond all term.” It celebrates “that most holy mystery.”

As The Master Therion says, “Since truth is supra-rational, it is incommunicable in the language of reason” (Postcards to Probationers), and “all real secrets are incommunicable” (Magick in Theory & Practice). The Gnostic Mass therefore “refers to a knowledge incommunicable—save by experience” (Temple of Solomon the King). This knowledge attained through experience is what is meant by gnosis, the direct experiential “knowledge” that is not (and can’t be) communicated with words – it can only be hinted at through symbol and allegory, like fingers pointing to the moon. And this is one reason our Church is the Gnostic Catholic Church. As the Master Therion says, “ye shall comprehend, when, rising above Reason, which is but a manipulation of the Mind, ye come to pure Knowledge by direct perception of the Truth” (De Lege Libellum).

One issue I see in some individuals’ writings and understanding of the Gnostic Mass is that they often get quickly “locked in” to a certain symbolic interpretation being “right.” For example, the most common I see is the understanding that the Creed or the Officers represent the formula of Tetragrammaton (YHVH) and nothing else. Since the nature of the Mysteries is that they are, by definition, not exhaustible or completely explainable through language, there is therefore a theoretically infinite amount about them that one can say or write. Because of this, what is expressed below is most certainly not exhaustive in its explanation of anything in the Gnostic Mass. What follows is neither official nor “Absolutely True,” but it is intended to offer different perspectives in the hopes of widening and deepening one’s understanding and appreciation of the Gnostic Mass.

THE OFFICERS

There are technically 4 “roles” filled by 5 individuals in the Gnostic Mass: (1) The PRIEST, (2) The PRIESTESS, (3) The DEACON, and (4) The two CHILDREN. I am going to go through each one and briefly discuss different ways of understanding the Officers symbolically. This will not be an incredibly in-depth analysis because the intent is to make these different perspectives known in order to broaden and deepen one’s understanding, not to make an academic-intellectual case for one or the other. It is also intended to leave room open for one’s own scholarship, fantasy, and experience.

Before beginning, it is important to remember what is said in the 5th Aethyr, “there could be nothing true except by virtue of the contradiction that is contained in itself.” That is to say: Each symbol is not “X to the exclusion of not-X.” Something may very well symbolize something and its exact opposite. One example is the symbolism of “darkness” and “night”: It can symbolize the darkness of the uninitiate’s ignorance or it can symbolize the highest attainment of NOX, the dissolution of All into None. Remembering this, no explanation of symbolism can ever be “logically consistent” because logic insists on something being either X or not-X; symbolism works with something beyond logic – something “supra-rational” – where meanings combine, oppose, intertwine, and interrelate in many different ways.

THE PRIEST

1) John Everyman: A Man Among Men

The Priest, in many senses, represents every individual. In particular, the Priest is a representation or archetypal expression of each of the Congregants. This is reflected in the Priest’s words when he exits the Tomb: “I am a man among men.” It even says in the rubric of the Gnostic Mass that “The PRIESTESS and other officers never partake of the Sacrament, they being as it were part of the PRIEST himself” (emphasis added). He is the natural protagonist of the Gnostic Mass, although I very much agree with several people who mention that the Priest, Priestess, and Deacon are each the protagonist from their own point-of-view. Nonetheless, the Priest is the one who undergoes “the Hero’s Journey” in the mythopoetic drama of the Gnostic Mass, and individuals often naturally will identify with him. This relates to the next symbol:

2) The Conscious Self: The Subject

The Priest is the natural “protagonist” and symbol with which people identify most readily because he symbolizes the conscious self. One could say the Priest represents the “ego,” but he is deeper than that: He is the Self that expresses itself through the ego on a “lower level”. The Priest is the individuality of each individual. For comparison, one could say the Priest is the Self and the Deacon represents the ego with all of its mental-rational capabilities (memory, volition, imagination, desire, reason) that assists the Self. Qabalistically, one can think of the Priest as Tiphareth, the Sun, and the Deacon as representing the Sephiroth surrounding and aiding it. Again, since the Priest represents the conscious self, he naturally represents the Subject of awareness and represents each individual’s Subject-hood. In relation to this, the Priestess represents the Object. In terms of the language of Yoga, the Subject of awareness unites with the Object of awareness in samadhi, or non-dual awareness.

3) The Yod of Tetragrammaton: The Father of Life

In the symbolism of Tetragrammaton, the Priest can represent the “Yod” (YHVH). This Yod relates to the Father, the King, the Element of Fire, and the magical weapon of the Wand. The Priest is called “Lord” and calls himself “Priest and King,” identifying himself with the “Kingly” element of Yod. The Priest bears the Sacred Lance, which is a form of the Wand, a phallic instrument of force and power (but it is not the exact same thing as the Wand, as will be mentioned later). The Lance (Yod) combines with the Chalice (Heh), further emphasizing this connection. Further, he is clothed in scarlet, a shade of red which is attributable to Fire and therefore to Yod. Further: On his second step toward the Veil, the Priest identifies with Hadit, the heart of every man and the core of every star, which is the ultimate Paternal idea beyond even notions of gender. In the Creed, the “Father of Life” is called CHAOS, who is identifiable with “Therion” (The Great Beast 666), which are all Father-Force symbols attributable in the Qabalah to the 2nd Sephirah, Chokmah. All these things go to reinforce the fact that the Priest can be identified as the Yod of Tetragrammaton, the Father-King of Life.

4) The Vav of Tetragrammaton: The Sun/Son

To further complicate things (as is natural with symbolism), the Priest can be identified with the Vav of Tetragrammaton (YHVH). On the Tree of Life, Yod can be attributed to Chokmah, Heh to Binah, Vav to Tiphareth (and the surrounding Sephiroth), and Final Heh to Malkuth. In this scheme, Vav is attributed to the Sun, and the Priest is called the “Priest of the Sun” by the Priestess. Further, in the incestuous Qabalistic drama of Tetragrammaton, the Son/Prince is said to marry the Daughter/Princess and set her upon the Throne of the Mother. This is explicitly seen when the Priest says, “I, PRIEST and KING, take thee, Virgin pure without spot; I upraise thee; I lead thee to the East; I set thee upon the summit of the Earth.” The Priest then literally sets the Priestess upon the Throne in the East. As it says in the 4th Aethyr, “And this is that which is written: Malkuth shall be uplifted and set upon the throne of Binah.” In this sense, the Priest begins as the Prince/Son and, by virtue of his interaction with the Princess/Daughter, uplifts her to become Queen/Mother and he assumes the place of King/Father.

Again: the symbolism intertwines and overlaps in many ways. At the end of the Gnostic Mass, the Priest consumes the two-fold Eucharist and, in the attitude of Resurrection, proclaims that “There is no part of me that is not of the gods.” This is the traditional symbol of Osiris who died and was reborn, and the attitude of Resurrection was called “the Sign of Osiris Risen” in the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, which was attributed to the Sephirah of Tiphareth (that was, in turn, attributed to the grade of 5=6, that of the formula of LVX, IAO, and INRI, i.e. Life-Death-Rebirth). In a certain way, the Gnostic Mass represents the “perpetuation of the Tetragrammaton,” which is to say that it represents evolution (One becoming Many, Creation) and involution (Many becoming One, Attainment) and evolution again, et cetera ad infinitum. In this light, Crowley comments on the quotation from the 4th Aethyr mentioned above, “This mystery of the Daughter awakening the eld of the all-Father and thus perpetuating Tetragrammaton is of great importance.”

5) The Masculine Operator in Sexual Magick

As if it is not already obvious from the previously mentioned symbolism (and the Mass itself), the Priest represents the masculine operator in sexual magick. I say “masculine” because he represents one half of the equation, and each individual “soul” is androgynous, containing both male and female (and all other opposites) in itself. In this way, in Hindu symbolism, the Priest represents Shiva and the Priestess is Shakti. This is reflected in Atu XI: Lust where Babalon (Shakti) is astride the Beast (Shiva). From this symbolism, one comes to wonder why the Priest is constantly identified as the “active” element in this duo when the symbolism repeatedly points to Babalon-Shakti as the more “active” participant – the masculine seems to often be “along for the ride,” so to speak. She’s the one who came down and pulled the Priest out of the Tomb, after all. In fact, Babalon is literally on top of the Beast in Atu XI, and – during the Collects – the Priestess can be seen above the Priest as they exchange their loving glances and breath.

Alchemically, the Priest is the Red Lion who interacts with the White Eagle, combining their essences in the hermetic vessel (or Grail) in order to produce the Elixir of Life, the Stone of the Philosophers, the Arcane Substance, the Two-in-One (et cetera). This alchemical symbolism is shown most explicitly in Atu VI: The Lovers where the Chymical Marriage takes place, and the result of their Consummation is shown in Atu XIV: Art.

6) Parsival: The Fool’s Journey

The Priest represents Parsival, specifically the character from Wagner’s opera. The Master Therion was obviously most fond of this allegory and he references it in many different works. In fact, he notes that “The dramatic setting of Wagner’s Parsifal was arranged by the then head of the O.T.O.” (i.e. Theodor Reuss). He explains that “Parsifal in his first phase is Der reine Thor, the Pure Fool” (The Book of Thoth), so the Gnostic Mass can be seen as the archetypal narrative of “the Fool’s Journey.”

Consider this: The Priest issues from the Tomb in white, symbolizing purity and innocence, just like that of Parsifal in the first Act of Wagner’s opera. Next, “Parsifal seizes [the sacred lance]; in other words, attains to puberty.” This is shown by the 11 strokes of the Lance by which the Lord is made present among us; further, going back to the symbolism of Tetragrammaton, this shows the Priest attaining “spiritual puberty” represented by the Lance (Vav) by which he may unite with the Daughter (Final Heh) and set her upon the Throne of the Mother (Heh). As the Master Therion explains, “the Fool: the innocent and impotent Harpocrates Babe becomes the Horus Adult by obtaining the Wand. ‘Der reine Thor’ [the pure fool] seizes the Sacred Lance. Bacchus becomes Pan. The Holy Guardian Angel is the Unconscious Creature Self – the Spiritual Phallus. His knowledge and conversation contributes occult puberty” (Liber Samekh).

Next, Parsifal must seek Monsalvat, the Mountain of Salvation, that is the same as “Abiegnus” the sacred mountain of Rosicrucians (as well as Mount Sinai, Mount Meru, the world-ash wonder-tree, and all other symbols of the axis mundi) that is symbolically shown as the High Altar in the East. The Master Therion continues, “Where is Monsalvat, the mountain of salvation, which he has sought so long in vain? He worships the lance: immediately the way, so long closed to him, is open.” This is seen in the Priest’s three circumambulations of the Temple in darkness, led only by the Light of the Sacred Lance, which eventually brings him to the Veil of the Sanctuary. Then, “Accordingly, to redeem the whole situation, to destroy death, to reconsecrate the temple, he has only to plunge the lance into the Holy Grail; he redeems not only Kundry, but himself.” This is seen in the moment of the Lance plunging the particle into the Grail with the simultaneous orgasmic “HRILIU” from Priest and Priestess. It is from this “mixture,” the Eucharist infused with Godhead Itself, that the Priest (and the People) can partake and arise as that which may truthfully proclaim, “There is no part of me that is not of the gods.” This is one reason that the Sacred Lance is not just another name for the magical implement of the Wand. Without the Lance, the entire symbolism of Parsifal’s “Fool’s Journey” (the connections of which goes much deeper than the above) is almost completely lost.

Again: This list is not exhaustive, nor is the symbolism of any of those meanings listed above completely fleshed out. The idea is to show there are many interconnected, intertwining, overlapping sets of symbolism by which one can more fully appreciate the mysterious depths of the central ceremony of Ordo Templi Orientis.

[→ Part 2: The Priestess →]

The Rituals of the Elements: Summer Solstice

Introduction

It is written in Liber AL vel Legis II:36, “There are rituals of the elements and feasts of the times.” Crowley comments, “The entry of the Sun into the cardinal signs of the elements at the Equinoxes and Solstices are suitable for festivals. The difference between ‘rituals’ and ‘feasts’ is this: by the one a particular form of energy is generated, while there is a general discharge of one’s superfluous force in the other. Yet a feast implies periodical nourishment.” This cycle of dramatic rituals are therefore invocations. They are intended to generate energy at the entrance of the Sun into the cardinal signs of elements at the four quarters of the year, i.e. the Equinoxes and Solstices.

The entire cycle of rituals simultaneously show:

  1. The macrocosmic cycle of the Sun going through the seasons
  2. The microcosmic cycle of Man going through the generations/Incarnation (birth/youth-adulthood-old age-death).
  3. The process of Attainment from 0=0 to 8=3 and back again.

The energies of each ritual correspond to each of these planes at once:

Equinox and Solstice rituals

Each ritual invokes a particular energy. Each ritual has a particular Word of Power associated therewith and it is intoned in between the scenes. The Word also appears once in each ritual within a particular Scene.

Each of the four rituals has 3 scenes for a total of 12 scenes for the entire cycle, one for each of the signs of the Zodiac. The middle scene of each ritual is the sign of the Equinox or Solstice – for example, the middle scene in Autumn is Libra. The first scene is therefore Virgo, the sign before Libra, and the last scene is Scorpio, the sign after Libra. In general, the first scene represents events leading up to the Equinox or Solstice, the middle scene represents the actual turning-point, and the last scene represents events leading to the next Equinox or Solstice.

The Basic Characters

  • (☉/♂) Priest/King – the conscious Self. The Child who grows to become King who attains and becomes a Priest and then dies and is reborn as the Child.
  • (☽/♀) Priestess/Queen the Non-Self (the unconscious self, the “higher self,” etc.)The  Mother of the Child, the Queen/Beloved of the King, the High Priestess of the Priest.
  • (+ and -) 2 Children – the duality of the World. Various roles throughout the entire cycle.
  • () The People (participants) – the inhabitants of the World; they identify (at least their conscious selves) with the Priest.


Summer SolsticeTHE SUMMER SOLSTICE CEREMONY

Also known as “The Chymical Wedding”

The Word of this ceremony is ‘ABRAHADABRA.’ It is repeatedly intoned in between scenes by the People/Congregants. The Incense of this ceremony is Sandalwood.1 The Talisman of this ceremony is the Mark of the Beast2.

SCENE I: Gemini.
The Maturation of the Child, the strengthening of the Mind, and the King’s approach to the Lower Kingdom.

The Queen sits enthroned in the East3 behind the Veil. She is wearing a white robe with no tabard, is crowned with twelve flowers, and she holds a wilted Lotus flower. + and – stand in the center of the Temple; + holds a censer with incense4 and – holds a cup of salt and water.5 The King is in the West with the Lance, wearing only a white robe with no tabard. The body of the King has been equilibrated6 and now the mind7 requires equilibration.

[INTRO MUSIC: The end of Holst’s “Mars, the Bringer of War” continuing from the end of the Vernal Equinox ceremony]

The King begins to approach the East from the West.

KING: I have balanced the Elements within myself and become worthy to seize my Father’s Sacred Lance of power. I travel into the Lower Kingdom to seek the Daughter of the King, that she may become my bride and be set upon the Throne of my Mother.

+ and – approach the King and stop him.

+ and : Halt!

They attach a garotte to his throat.8

–: Child of Earth, un-purified, you cannot enter the path to the Lower Kingdom.9

makes three crosses with the cup of salt and water in the shape of a downward triangle10 over the chest of the King while saying:

–: For pure will, unassuaged of purpose, delivered from the lust of result, is every way perfect.11

+: Child of Earth, unconsecrated, you cannot enter the path to the Lower Kingdom.

+ makes three crosses with the censer in the shape of an upright triangle12 over the chest of the King while saying:

+: I am uplifted in thine heart; and the kisses of the stars rain hard upon thy body.13

In the following back-and-forth, the lines are spoken fairly quickly, with the King turning his head back and forth to face + or – as they speak, giving the sense of being bounced back-and-forth between two extremes of duality.

+: Thoughts are false.14

–: All thought is dis-ease.15

+: All this is true and false.

–: And it is true and false to say that it is true and false.16

+: Now a curse upon Because and his kin! May Because be accursèd for ever!

–: If Will stops and cries Why, invoking Because, then Will stops & does nought.

+: If Power asks why, then is Power weakness.

–: Also reason is a lie; for there is a factor infinite & unknown; & all their words are skew-wise.17

The King then looks straight ahead, the head tipped slightly upwards to expose the neck.18

+: Strain forth thine Intelligence, O man, for thus thy reason shall at last break down.

–: As the fetter is struck from a slave’s throat.19

The garotte is removed from the King’s throat.20

+: Balance against each thought its exact opposite!

–: For the Marriage of these is the Annihilation of Illusion.21

QUEEN: The Oracle of the Gods is the Child-Voice of Love in thine own Soul! hear thou it!

She pauses briefly.

QUEEN: Heed not the Siren-Voice of Sense, or the Phantom-Voice of Reason: rest in Simplicity, and listen to the Silence!22

The King gives the Sign of Silence. + and – move to the sides of the King, allowing him passage into the Lower Kingdom.23 The King proceeds to the East and passes through the Veil.

END SCENE.

[MUSIC: Gustav Holst’s “Uranus, the Magician” from op.32, “The Planets”]

SCENE II: Cancer.
The Union of the Upper and Lower Kingdoms, and the re-ascent of the Man to Kingship.

The King stands in the West, approaching the Lower Kingdom.24 The Queen sits enthroned in the East with the Veil open. She appears as the Empress25, bearing the Lotus flower and wearing a crown of 12 white flowers26; she wears only a pure white robe.27 The Lotus flower is dying as it has lacked sunlight for it to flourish. The Man approaches and the Queen questions whether he is worthy. + and – stand on either side of the Queen in the sign of Osiris Risen.

The King walks towards the East.

+: A man approaches.

–: It is the young King of the Upper Kingdom.

QUEEN: Assure yourselves that he is purified and consecrated.

approaches the King and touches his forehead, mouth, and chest.28

–: He is pure of body and soul.29

QUEEN: Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.30 To the pure, all things are pure.31

+ approaches the King and touches his forehead, mouth, and chest.

+: He is fervent of body and soul.32

QUEEN: Blessed are they that seek God with the whole heart and walk in his ways.33 The fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.34

The Queen approaches the King and touches his chest with her left hand.

QUEEN: Kαθαροσ!35

+ touches the King’s right arm with his right hand.

+: Fortis!36

touches the King’s left arm with her left hand.

–: TAN!37

The Queen touches the King’s head with her right hand.

QUEEN: Samajh!38

The Queen, +, and – step back from the King.

QUEEN: To what end do you journey into this Lower Kingdom?

KING: To seek you, the Daughter of the King, that you may become my bride and be set upon the Throne of my Mother.

QUEEN: By what power do you approach my Lower Kingdom to take me as your bride?

The King raises his Lance.39

KING: By the power of the lifted lance!40

+ and – both give the Hailing sign of the Magician.41 The Lotus is transformed, blooming, and beautiful. The Queen holds it up, looks at it, and recognizing the Man’s authority and right as the King, gives the Hailing sign of the Magician as well.

+: It beams!

–: It burns!

QUEEN: It blooms!42

The Queen sets the Lotus on the altar in the East and clothes the King in a red robe/tabard.43 In the center of the robe is a golden cross; above the cross is written, “BLASFHMIA44 and at the groin is a sun.45.

QUEEN: Who is like unto thee? Who is able to make war with thee?46 Blessing unto the name of the Beast, for thou hast let loose a mighty flood of fire from thy manhood, and from thy womanhood hast thou let loose a mighty flood of water.

She turns and speaks to the People.

QUEEN: Great is the Beast that cometh forth like a lion, the servant of the Star and of the Snake. He is the Eternal one; He is the Almighty one. Blessed are they upon whom he shall look with favour, for nothing shall stand before his face. Accursed are they upon whom he shall look with derision, for nothing shall stand before his face… Who shall strive with his might? Hath he not the spear of the Warrior Lord of the Sun? Who shall contend with him? Who shall lift himself up against him? For the latchet of his sandal is more than the helmet of the Most High.47 The Beast whereon I shall ride is the Lord of the City of the Pyramids!48 By your might as King of the earth, you shall cause all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark.49

The King gives the Mark of the Beast50 to the People. The King returns and then clothes the Queen in a green robe/tabard, being Venus the Beloved; in the center of the robe is a silver circle51; just above this is written, “MUSTHRION52 and at the groin is a moon.53

KING: Beautiful art thou, O Babalon, and desirable, for thou hast given thyself to everything that liveth, and thy weakness hath subdued their strength. For in this union thou dost understand. Therefore art thou called Understanding, O Babalon, Lady of the Night!

He turns and speaks to the People.

KING: This is the Mystery of Babalon, the Mother of abominations, and this is the mystery of her adulteries, for she hath yielded up herself to everything that liveth, and hath become a partaker in its mystery. And because she hath made herself the servant of each, therefore is she become the mistress of all. Not as yet canst thou comprehend her glory.

The King turns back to the Queen.

KING: O Babalon, Babalon, thou mighty Mother, that ridest upon the crowned beast, let me be drunken upon the wine of thy fornications; let thy kisses wanton me even unto death!54

END SCENE.

Congregants repeatedly intone ‘ABRAHADABRA’ in between scenes.

[MUSIC: The first part of Tchaikovsky’s Op.45 “Capriccio Italiano,” stopping before ~1:30]

SCENE III: Leo.

The Marriage of King and Queen, and the Conception of the Demi-God Redeemer.

The King and Queen are in the East in front of the Veil and below the dais. The Queen stands to the right and the King stands to the left.55

bears a Chalice, not the one used earlier for purification, to the King and Queen, and + fills this with wine or champagne.

+: Wisdom is the Man.

–: And Understanding the Woman.56

The wine is shared between the King and Queen as is traditionally seen at marriages.57 The King then leads the Queen up the dais to the East where he stands on the right and the Queen stands on the left.58 The King and Queen face one another; the Queen holds the Lance in the King’s right hand with her right and the King holds the Chalice in the Queen’s left hand with his left (right hands over left), forming a lemniscate, a symbol of interlocked opposites and infinity.

[MUSIC: Fade in Tchaikovsky’s Op.45 “Capriccio Italiano,” starting from approximately ~1:45]

+: Hallelujah, for the Lord omnipotent reigneth!59

–: Hallelujah, for the Lady omnipresent reigneth!

+: Let us give honor to them!

–: Let us be glad and rejoice!60

+ and –: Hallelujah!

The King then moves to the center of the East, facing outwards, and sits in full-lotus (or cross-legged). He holds the Lance with the point upwards in his right hand. The Queen mounts the King while bearing the Cup61 in her right hand.

KING and QUEEN: ABRAHADABRA.62

+ and – close the Veil as the song reaches ~3:15 where there is a short break in the music.

END SCENE.

1 In 777, Sandalwood is attributed to Venus and generally refers to Love. This ceremony deals with the union of Father and Mother, King and Queen, in the sign of Cancer whose symbol shows the union of opposites (♋). Insofar as Sandalwood is attributed to Venus, it corresponds with Atu III: The Empress in the Tarot which shows a mature female who is often shown wearing or being adorned with flowers; this is the character of the new Queen that appears in this Solstice ceremony.

2 The Mark of the Beast is, symbolically, the union of Sol and Luna, which is the basic alchemical process at work throughout the Summer Solstice ceremony.

3 This is the Daughter of Tetragrammaton, the Final Heh of YHVH. She is explicitly called “the Daughter of the King” in the third scene (Taurus) of the Vernal Equinox ceremony. She is not yet raised to be the Mother/Queen, which requires the union of the Son with the Daughter in the second scene (Cancer) of this Summer Solstice ceremony.

4 These represent the “active” elements of Fire (censer) and Air (incense), reflecting the censer used by the Positive Child in the Gnostic Mass.

5 These represent the “passive” elements of Earth (salt) and Water (water), reflecting the pitcher of water and cellar of salt used by the Negative Child in the Gnostic Mass.

6 The body refers more abstractly to the Elements in general, and the Child has passed through the equilibration of the 4 Elements in the third scene (Taurus) of the Vernal Equinox ceremony.

7 Gemini is an Air sign and is ruled by Mercury which both represent the Mind in Elemental and Planetary symbolism, respectively.

8 The garotte is a symbol of the restraint of thought and speech. Crowley writes in The Book of Lies, “The reason is situated in Daath, which corresponds the the throat in human anatomy.”

9 This line comes almost directly from the Golden Dawn Neophyte initiation ceremony.

10 This downward triangle is a symbol of the Element of Water.

11 Liber AL, I:44. In Magick in Theory & Practice, chapter 14, Crowley writes, “The words of purification are: Asperges me, Therion, hyssopo, et mundabor; lavabis me, et super nivem dealbabor. Those of consecration are: Accendat in nobis Therion ignem sui amoris et flammam aeternae caritatis. These may now advantageously be replaced by (a) ‘… pure will, unassuaged of purpose, delivered from the lust of result, is every way perfect.’ (CCXX, I, 44) to banish; and (b) ‘I am uplifted in thine heart; and the kisses of the stars rain hard upon thy body.’ (CCXX, II, 62) to consecrate. For the Book of the Law contains the Supreme Spells.”

12 This upright triangle is a symbol of the Element of Fire.

13 Liber AL, II:62. See note 98(???) above.

14 The Book of Lies, chapter 5.

15 The Book of Lies, chapter 85.

16 This exchange comes from The Book of Lies, chapter 31, which is titled “The Garotte.”

17 This exchange is a quotation from Liber AL, II:28-32.

18 The neck is the place of Da’ath, “Knowledge,” that is the crown of the Ruach but also what prevents passageway to the Abyss.

19 This exchange comes from The Book of Lies, chapter 31, which is titled “The Garotte.”

20 Crowley writes in his commentary to chapter 31 of The Book of Lies, “As soon as the reason is vanquished, the garotte is removed; then the influence of the supernals (Kether, Chokmah, Binah), no longer inhibited by Daath, can descend upon Tiphareth, where the human will is situated, and flood it with the ineffable light.”

21 These two lines come from The Heart of the Master under the section for Libra, which here represents the balance of the King’s mind.

22 From the section for Gemini in The Heart of the Master, which is proper to this scene as being of Gemini.

23 This represents the culmination of Adolescence in the expansion and fortification of the mind/Ruach.

24 The Lower Kingdom represents the unconscious and therefore the marriage between Kingdoms symbolizes a harmony between the conscious and unconscious self.

25 Atu III: The Empress. The Queen is the Empress, the Beloved, bearing the Lotus of femininity.

26 These 12 white flowers are the Earthly reflection of the High Priestess’ crown of 12 stars that is seen in the Winter Solstice ceremony, showing the identity of Queen and Priestess.

27 This reflects the fact that she is, at this point, the “Virgin, pure, without spot” from the Gnostic Mass who will be uplifted by the Priest to become the Queen/Mother. It also is a reference to Revelation 19:8, “And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteous acts of saints.”

28 The forehead represents thought, the mouth represents speech, and the chest represents deed or action.

29 This line is adapted from the Gnostic Mass.

30 Matthew 5:8.

31 Titus 1:15.

32 This line is adapted from the Gnostic Mass.

33 Adapted from Psalm 119:2-3.

34 James 5:16.

35 Pronounced “ka-tha-rahs.” Kαθαροσ or “katharos” is Greek for “purity,” which pertains to the 6th Sephirah of Tiphareth, or Sol, in the Heart. As Crowley writes in the 15th Aethyr, “This Adept guards Tiphareth and tests the heart (which pertains thereto) for its purity. (kαθαροσ = pure).”

36 Fortis is Latin for “strength” or “strong,” which pertains to the 5th Sephirah of Geburah or Mars. As Crowley writes in the 15th Aethyr, “Fortis means strong,”

37 Pronounced “tahn.” TAN is Enochian for “justice” or “mercy,” which pertains to the 4th Sephirah of Chesed, or Jupiter. The 17th Aethyr is named “TAN” and within the Aethyr it is said, “TAN is that which transformeth judgment into justice. BAL is the sword, and TAN the balances… this word TAN meaneth mercy.” Crowley comments thereupon, “TAN is given in above as meaning the Balances. Thus… the truth of Justice is Mercy.”

38 Pronounced “sah-mahj.” Samajh means “understanding” in Sanskrit, which pertains to the 3rd Sephirah of Binah. All the previous words ([urity, strength, mercy, and understanding) all come from The Vision and the Voice, 15th Aethyr.

39 This is an invocation of the King’s solar power and an assertion of his having obtained the sexual-procreative powers of maturity.

40 From the Gnostic Mass.

41 The sign of Life (II°) that is given in the Gnostic Mass.

42 This exchange comes from The Vision and the Voice, 5th Aethyr. It refers to the Rose-Cross.

43 This goes over the white robe, virtually identical to the Priestess clothing the Priest in the radiance or ambience of the flame of the Sun at the beginning of the Gnostic Mass. This signifies his ascent to Kingship and being Lord on Earth.

44 A reference to Revelation 13:1.

45 A symbol of the masculine-generative power.

46 Adapted from Revelation 13:4 where it refers to the Beast.

47 Adapted from The Vision and the Voice, 16th Aethyr.

48 The Vision and the Voice, 12th Aethyr.

49 A reference to Revelation 13:16.

50 This Mark of the Beast is also the Mark of Cain, i.e. the mark of initiation. The people receiving this mark refers to 6=5 in Geburah, the martial expansion of power to the kingdoms of the earth, the leading and enlightening of others. It also refers to the attainment of the Grade of Lover whereof it is said in the 13th Aethyr, “The lover giveth his life unto the work among men.” The Mark of the Beast can either be rubber stamp bearing the Mark of the Beast (either Sol-Luna with 2 Testes, or the Cross-in-the-Circle) pressed onto the hands of the People or it can also be a coin bearing the same symbol.

51 The silver circle of the Queen complements the golden cross of the King, together they form the Rose-Cross.

52 A reference to Revelation 17:5.

53 A symbol of the feminine-generative power.

54 The Vision and the Voice, 12th Aethyr. Note that the original text has “Babylon” because the correct spelling as “Babalon” was not revealed until the 10th Aethyr. The term is switched to “Babalon” in this ritual, for To Mega Therion discovered the true spelling of Her name for us.

55 That is, the Queen stands in the place of Chesed and the King stands in the place of Geburah on the Tree of Life. The path between them is that of Leo to which is attributed the Tarot trump Atu XI: Lust that depicts Babalon astride the Beast.

56 The Vision and the Voice, 12th Aethyr.

57 This refers to 5=6 in Tiphareth.

58 That is, the Queen stands in the place of Binah and the King stands in the place of Chokmah on the Tree of Life. Their switching positions shows the change from being Prince/Princess to King/Queen. The path between them is that of Venus, i.e. Supernal Love.

59 Revelation 19:6.

60 Adapted from Revelation 19:7.

61 This is Shiva-Shakti in Hindu imagery and Babalon astride the Beast as seen in Atu XI: Lust in the Thoth Tarot, which is ruled by Leo.

62 ABRAHADABRA refers to the interlocking unityof opposites, specifically the 5 of the Microcosm with the 6 of the Macrocosm. As it is written in The Vision and the Voice, 12th Aethyr, “this is the word of double power in the voice of the Master, wherein the Five interpenetrateth the Six.” 

 

Rituals of the Elements: Vernal Equinox

The Rituals of the Elements: Vernal Equinox

Introduction

It is written in Liber AL vel Legis II:36, “There are rituals of the elements and feasts of the times.” Crowley comments, “The entry of the Sun into the cardinal signs of the elements at the Equinoxes and Solstices are suitable for festivals. The difference between ‘rituals’ and ‘feasts’ is this: by the one a particular form of energy is generated, while there is a general discharge of one’s superfluous force in the other. Yet a feast implies periodical nourishment.” This cycle of dramatic rituals are therefore invocations. They are intended to generate energy at the entrance of the Sun into the cardinal signs of elements at the four quarters of the year, i.e. the Equinoxes and Solstices.

The entire cycle of rituals simultaneously show:

  1. The macrocosmic cycle of the Sun going through the seasons
  2. The microcosmic cycle of Man going through the generations/Incarnation (birth/youth-adulthood-old age-death).
  3. The process of Attainment from 0=0 to 8=3 and back again.

The energies of each ritual correspond to each of these planes at once:

Equinox and Solstice rituals

Each ritual invokes a particular energy. Each ritual has a particular Word of Power associated therewith and it is intoned in between the scenes. The Word also appears once in each ritual within a particular Scene.

Each of the four rituals has 3 scenes for a total of 12 scenes for the entire cycle, one for each of the signs of the Zodiac. The middle scene of each ritual is the sign of the Equinox or Solstice – for example, the middle scene in Autumn is Libra. The first scene is therefore Virgo, the sign before Libra, and the last scene is Scorpio, the sign after Libra. In general, the first scene represents events leading up to the Equinox or Solstice, the middle scene represents the actual turning-point, and the last scene represents events leading to the next Equinox or Solstice.

The Basic Characters

  • (☉/♂) Priest/King – the conscious Self. The Child who grows to become King who attains and becomes a Priest and then dies and is reborn as the Child.
  • (☽/♀) Priestess/Queen the Non-Self (the unconscious self, the “higher self,” etc.)The  Mother of the Child, the Queen/Beloved of the King, the High Priestess of the Priest.
  • (+ and -) 2 Children – the duality of the World. Various roles throughout the entire cycle.
  • () The People (participants) – the inhabitants of the World; they identify (at least their conscious selves) with the Priest.


Mucha Winter SolsticeTHE VERNAL EQUINOX CEREMONY

Also known as “The Bornless Reborn”

The Word of this ceremony is ‘VIAOV.’ It is repeatedly intoned in between scenes by the People/Congregants. The Incense of this ceremony is Frankincense1 and/or Rose.2 The Talisman of this ceremony are fresh, Spring flowers.3

SCENE I: Pisces.
End of Winter, the Final Lamentations of the Mother

[MUSIC: The last ~2 minutes of Alexander Glazunov’s “Winter” from “The Seasons,” which continues the song that ended the Winter ceremony]

The Queen is the Mother4, lamenting the death of the King at the tomb in the West5. + and – stand in the East in front of the dais as forms of Anubis6, looking to the West at the Queen. The Obelisks are still broken.

[MUSIC: Sounds of wind howling/storm fade in and overpower the music]

MOTHER: Sterility is my name, and desolation.

+: Intolerable is thine ache

–: And incurable thy wound.

MOTHER: I said, Let the darkness cover me; and behold, I am compassed about with the blackness that hath no name.7

+: The sun has become black!

–: The moon has become as blood!8

MOTHER: All that was ordered and stable is shaken!9 The winter storm has plunged our kingdom into darkness.

The Queen pauses and listens to the howling winds.

MOTHER: The mystery, the evil darkness of these incoherent cries, sets my teeth on edge with horror. And yet I cannot give up the hope which thrilled me at the Voice.10 But so keen, so desolate, so deadly is the pain of my spirit that blank darkness overwhelms me altogether.11

+: Yet there was a star in sight…

–: A star of hope arose…

MOTHER: Yet fell back into the darkness of the waters!12 A Star in the West? What folly!13 The King has left no heir and I fear we may wallow in this darkness forever. This discipline is sorrowful…

+: And ploughing is laborious…

–: And age is weariness…14

MOTHER: I sink through waves of blackness… down!

The Queen falls down.

+: Down!

+ falls down.

–: Down!15

falls down.

MOTHER: In this Kingdom of the Grave, there is no light or knowledge.

+: Nor beauty.

–: Nor stability.

MOTHER: The worm is crowned!

The Queen places her crown on the ground.

MOTHER: All that we have been hath been eaten up! All that we shall be is nothing!16

+: The darkness of the earth is ruddy.

–: The darkness of the air is grey.

MOTHER: The darkness of the soul is utter blackness.17

The Mother laments and, with each wave of sobs and cries of pain18, the thunder of the storm gets louder and longer, an earthquake19 rumbles stronger and stronger.

+: The Queen is sore distressed!20

–: Who is now set to save us?21

+: Is not the egg of spirit a black egg?

–: Is not the snake that devoureth the spirit of man the lust of light?22

+ stands up while saying:

+: Let us beseech the Babe that abides in the egg!

stands up while saying:

–: Let us invoke the Son of Morning hidden in the Lotus!23

+ and – walk to the West and gather on opposite sides of the Mother. + turns around, and + and circle the Queen widdershins (counter-clockwise) while vibrating VIAOV three times. During the first vibration, + and – are in the Sign of Isis Mourning; during the second vibration, they are in the Sign of Apophis; during the third vibration, they are in the Sign of Osiris Risen; there are a total of 9 widdershins circumambulations.24

+ & –: VIAOV. VIAOV. VIAOV.

The King is hidden inside the Veil in the East. The Music gets quieter for a moment.

KING: In the thick darkness the seed awaiteth spring.25

END SCENE

[MUSIC: The thunderstorm continues and gets louder.]

Congregants repeatedly intone ‘VIAOV’ in between scenes.

SCENE II: Aries.
The Vernal Re-Birth of the Father in the Child

[MUSIC: The storm continues to rumble with thunder.]

The King is still behind the Veil. The Obelisks are stood upright and in front of the Veil.

The Queen gives + a Dagger and – a Disk.26

KING: Let the Illusion of the World pass over thee, unheeded, as thou goest from the Midnight to the Morning!27

+: It is He! The Bornless Spirit!28

–: It is He that lighteneth and thundereth!29

The Mother rises.

[The sound of the storm begins to fade away]

MOTHER: It is He! The Truth!30 He is risen!31

+: He is exalted!

–: He is great!

+: Glory to God!

–: Thanksgiving to God!32

MOTHER: There is no god but man.33

[MUSIC: Sound of lightning and “OM” intoned]

The Mother gives the Sign of Isis Rejoicing,34 and there is a flash of lightning.35 +, –, and the Mother all kneel in awe as the Child emerges. The King is seen as the Child36 in the East37 in the attitude of Resurrection,38 dressed in Green39 or Rose-pink40 or plant-life with a golden sash around his chest,41 and he carries fresh flowers in both hands. + holds up the Dagger42 and – holds up the Disk43; they then both kneel and adore the Child when he begins his speech.44

KING: “I am that I am, the flame / Hidden in the sacred ark. / I am the unspoken name / I the unbegotten spark. / I am He that ever goeth, / Being in myself the Way; / Known, that yet no mortal knoweth, / Shewn, that yet no mortal sheweth, / I, the child of night and day. / I am never-dying youth. / I am Love, and I am Truth. / I am the creating Word, / I the author of the aeon; / None but I have ever heard / Echo in the empyrean / Plectron of the primal paean! / I am the eternal one / Winged and white, the flowering rod, / I the fountain of the sun, Very God of very God! / I am he that lifteth up / Life, and flingeth it afar; / I have filled the crystal cup; / I have sealed the silver star. / I the wingless God that flieth / Through my firmamental fane, / I am he that daily dieth, / And is daily born again.”45 VIAOV!46

The King looks to + and – who are kneeling in supplicated adoration.

KING: Fear not; I am the first and the last; I am he that liveth and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, for I have the keys of hell and of death.47 Kneel not in supplication, for I am your fellowservant. You are my brother [he raises + to his feet, takes the Dagger in his right hand, and gives + half of the flowers] and my sister [he raises – to her feet, takes the Disk in his left hand, and gives – the other half of the flowers]. Worship Thyself!”48

The King stands in the Sign of Osiris Risen, holding the Dagger and Disk against his shoulders. + and – go around and give each of the Congregants a flower with the words “Worship Thyself!”

[MUSIC: Part of “Appalachian Spring” by Copland]

When complete, + and – return, place any extra flowers on the High Altar in the East, and take back the Dagger and Disk, respectively. The King then approaches the West to comfort his awe-struck Mother. + and – go with him, flanking him.

KING: Mother, you mourn sincerely, but your sorrow has no cause. The change which ye lament is the life of my rejoicing, and the sorrow that blackeneth your heart is the myriad deaths by which I am renewed.49 Grieve neither for the living nor for the dead. There has never been a time when you and I and all the stars gathered here have not existed, nor will there be a time when we will cease to exist.50 Wipe the tears from your eyes.

+: There is no death!

–: There is no sorrow!

+: There is no crying!

–: Nor is there pain.51

KING: Remember all ye that existence is pure joy; that all the sorrows are but as shadows; they pass & are done; but there is that which remains.52 I am the Eternal Sun, the motionless axle of the cycle of night and day, constant and triumphant throughout the changing seasons. Realize you are That which pervades the universe and is indestructible; no power can affect this unchanging, imperishable reality. Even in the face of death, you should not grieve. Death is inevitable for the living; birth is inevitable for the dead. Since these are unavoidable, you should not sorrow… There is none that shall be cast down or lifted up: all is ever as it was53 … there is no sin, and there is no salvation54… Death means the attainment of heaven, and life means the enjoyment of the earth. Therefore, rise up, Mother, and resolve to rejoice!55

MOTHER: Behold! where are now the darkness and the terror and the lamentation? For we are born into the new Aeon; we shall not suffer death… In the nights we will dance together, and in the morning we will go forth to war; for, as my King liveth that was dead, so do you live now and shall never die!56

END SCENE.

[MUSIC: Alexander Glazunov’s “Spring” from “The Seasons,” fade in starting from ~1:00.]

Congregants repeatedly intone ‘VIAOV’ in between scenes. 

SCENE III: Taurus.
The growth of the Body in Boyhood, the equilibration of the Elements

The future King is a youth, growing into adolescence. He is counseled by the Mother to grow in preparation for the Child to take the throne as King: he is taught to balance the Elements57 in the form of attainment of the 4 Powers of the Sphinx:58 To Know, To Will, To Dare, To Keep Silence. The Mother leads the Child around to each Quarter.59

MOTHER: Ah, my son! You are like a hawk with mighty-sweeping wings of mother-of-emerald. The very earth gladdens into green at your coming. Children of Earth! Rejoice! Rejoice exceedingly, for our salvation is at hand. The end of sorrow is come!60

KING: I am still but a child, innocent and impotent.61 How should I ever become deserving to take my Father’s throne?

MOTHER: You must first become worthy to seize the Sacred Lance of his power.62 The temple must be builded before the God can indwell it.63 Strengthen thyself! Set thy feet firmly upon the earth.64 Tend the garden of your soul!65

KING: Heavy is the labour, but great indeed is the reward.

MOTHER: You shall not see the reward,66 but you must tend the garden. Who can tell upon what day a flower shall bloom?67 In the impure Soul no Vision will arise, therefore cleanse the Soul68: balance the Elements within oneself: You must achieve the Four Powers of the Sphinx, though even adepts hardly attain to one of them!69

The Mother leads the Child-King to the West where + stands as representing the threat of unbalanced introversion. – stands in the East.

+: The wiles of the world are a plague upon the spirit! Build yourself up as a fortress to withstand the poisonous attacks of sense.70

The King looks to the Mother for guidance.

MOTHER: Be strong, o man! lust, enjoy all things of sense and rapture: fear not that any God shall deny thee for this. Exceed! Exceed! Strive ever to more! Love is the law, love under will.71

The Mother gives the Sign of the Enterer,72 and the King turns back to + to give the Sign of the Enterer himself.

MOTHER: My Child, the Power of Daring is in your heart, coiled and ready to leap!Springcircle_1

[MUSIC: Fade in “Mars” by Holst during circumambulations and fade out before the next line is spoken]

The Mother leads the Child-King 1¼ deosil/clockwise circumambulations while + moves widdershins-counter-clockwise ¾ circle (– mirrors movements of + on the opposite side of the circle; + ends in the North and – in the South); King and Queen come to the North where + stands as representing external Tyranny. The King faces + with the Mother behind him and to the side, guiding him.

+: Thou shalt honor thy father and thy mother! Thou shalt not commit adultery!73

The King looks to the Mother for guidance.

MOTHER: Thou hast no right but to do thy will. Do that, and no other shall say nay.74

The Mother gives the Sign of Silence,75 and the King turns back to + to give the Sign of Silence himself.

MOTHER: My Child, the Power of Knowledge grows within you!springcircle_2

[MUSIC: Fade in “Mars” by Holst during circumambulations and fade out before the next line is spoken]

The Mother leads the Child-King 1½ deosil/clockwise circumambulations; + and – do not move. The King and Queen come to the South where – stands as representing unbalanced extroversion. The King faces – with the Mother behind him and to the side, guiding him.

–: Be not lead into temptation, beware of your prideful sins!76 Love is charity and sacrifice to others.

The King looks to the Mother for guidance.

MOTHER: Ye shall be as ye are, & not other. Therefore the kings of the earth shall be Kings for ever: the slaves shall serve.77

The Mother gives the Sign of Silence,78 and the King turns back to – to give the Sign of Silence himself.

MOTHER: My Child, do not give overly of yourself to others in thought, word, or deed; Knowledge, Will, and Courage are for naught if you do not Keep Silence!

[MUSIC: Fade in “Mars” by Holst during circumambulations and fade out before the next line is spoken]

springcircle_3The Mother leads the Child-King ¾ deosil/clockwise circumambulations while – moves widdershins-counter-clockwise ¼ circle (+ mirrors movements of – on the opposite side of the circle; – ends in the East and + in the West); King and Queen come to the East where – stands as representing internal Tyranny. The King faces – with the Mother behind him and to the side, guiding him.

–: Who art thou that dost float and fly and dive and soar in the inane? Behold, these many æons have passed; whence camest thou? Whither wilt thou go?79

The King looks to the Mother for guidance.

MOTHER: A curse upon Because and his kin! May Because be accursed for ever! If Will stops and cries Why, invoking Because, then Will stops & does nought. If Power asks why, then is Power weakness.80

The Mother gives the Sign of the Enterer,81 and the King turns back to – to give the Sign of the Enterer himself.

MOTHER: My Child, you have begun to unfold the Power of Will. There is no law beyond Do what thou wilt.82

The Mother takes off the King’s green/rose-pink tabard.83 + takes the tabard from the Queen; + and Queen move to the East to join –, and + places the tabard in the East.

The Queen retrieves the Lance from the High Altar. + and – move to the center, The King in the West, the Mother in the East, + in the South, and – in the North so that all four individuals form a circle or diamond in the center, all facing inwards.

+: You have passed through each of the quarters.

–: You have become an adherent, a Man of Earth.84

+ holds the Lance upright in the center. +, –, and the Mother all intone a syllable of “IAO.” The Mother begins with “I,” and while she is still intoning, + begins to vibrate “A,” and – vibrates “O” so that all three are vibrated at once. Finally, the King vibrates “VIAOV” and they all end at the same time.

QUEEN: I!

+ holds the Lance with the Mother while intoning:

+: A!

holds the Lance with the Mother and + while intoning:

–: O!

The King grabs the Lance and raises it while the Mother, +, and – all let go, all while the King intones:

KING: VIAOV!

+ and – turn to flank the Mother while facing toward the King.

KING: Am I not nearly purged of the iniquity of my forefathers?

MOTHER: Yet a little…85 This is only the first step upon the Path of the Great Work. Our Kingdom is still in danger: the Lower Kingdom threatens us where the Daughter of their King still rules. You must now leave me: win your own adulthood by winning a worthy Queen, and reclaim your rightful place as King.86 Go now, with ecstasy of worship in your heart.

+: With a clear mind.

–: And a passionate body.87

MOTHER: Go now, and may you grow to be a great King!

+: May you wax strong in spirit.

–: May you be filled with wisdom!88

[MUSIC: Fade in “Mars” from “The Planets, op.32” by Gustav Holst, starting from ~3:45]

KING: I shall find the Daughter of the King89 and she will become my bride! The voluptuous Virgin of Night will illumine my soul with arcane delight!90 Our Upper Kingdom will be united with the Lower once more: I shall set her upon the Throne of my Mother91 and the whole earth will rejoice.92

The King raises his Lance and marches to the West and into the Tomb.

END SCENE.

[OUTRO MUSIC: Play out “Mars” for about 2-3 minutes.]

1 In 777, Frankincense is attributed to Tiphareth (the Sun) and to the Element of Fire, which rules the Vernal Equinox because it occurs in the sign of Aries.

2 In 777, Rose is attributed to Tiphareth in the King Scale of Color, and it is also “traditionally been taken as [a] glyph of the circle” which refers in this case to the circle or cycle of the Seasons itself.

3 This represents vegetative Growth, the “Green Man” of Spring, and the general flowering of Beauty after lying fallow during the darkness of Winter.

4 Isis mourning Osiris/Mary mourning Jesus; Isis Mourning (L) of the INRI/LVX/IAO formula

5 The Sun sets in the West and therefore represents Death.

6 Atu XVIII: The Moon.

7 The Vision and the Voice, 14th Aethyr.

8 These lines are adapted from Revelation 6:12.

9 The Vision and the Voice, 16th Aethyr.

10 In terms of these Seasonal rites, “the hope which thrilled me” refers to the Star of the Redeemer appearing at the end of the Winter Solstice ceremony, i.e. in Aquarius, which directly precedes this particular scene.

11 The Heart of the Master.

12 A reference to the Star of the Redeemer that appeared at the end of the Winter Solstice ceremony, i.e. in Aquarius.

13 The Heart of the Master.

14 Adapted from The Vision and the Voice, 28th Aethyr, where it refers to the dispersion of the Abyss.

15 The Vision and the Voice, 16th Aethyr.

16 Adapted from The Vision and the Voice, 14th Aethyr.

17 The Vision and the Voice, 14th Aethyr.

18 These are the pangs of birth.

19 A reference to Revelation 6:12, “And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood.”

20 An adaptation of Liber LXV, I:38.

21 An adaptation of Liber LXV, I:37.

22 The Vision and the Voice, 14th Aethyr.

23 These two lines are adapted from The Vision and the Voice, 14th Aethyr, “The voice of the Crowned Child, the Speech of the Babe that is hidden in the egg of blue… Rejoice with me, O ye Sons of the Morning; stand with me upon the Throne of Lotus…”

24 The three vibrations of the threefold word “VIAOV” (the V’s are silent) give 9 total syllables that are intoned, symbolic of the 9 months of the Child in the womb. They do not necessarily need to perform 9 circumambulations but it would strengthen the symbolism.

25 The Vision and the Voice, 15th Aethyr.

26 The Mother is the source of the mind (Dagger) and body (Disk) of the Child, which are given to Him in order that he may incarnate or “manifest.”

27 From Crowley’s The Heart of the Master.

28 He is the “Bornless Spirit” because the True Self is never born nor does it ever die, yet it enters into incarnation or manifestation – represented by the four seasons and four Elements – in order to experience Itself.

29 It is seen that the storm is the Child itself, no longer a source of fear but a signal of the divine presence. As it says in the Holy Book of Thelema known as Liber A’ash, “Fear not when I fall in the fury of the storm; for mine acorns are blown afar by the wind; and verily I shall rise again, and my children about me, so that we shall uplift our forest in Eternity. Eternity is the storm that covereth me.”

30 This exchange comes from Liber Samekh, Section Gg. “The Truth” is a name Christ gives to himself and it is also one of the many names of Allah. Mansur al-Hallaj – a Persian Sufi of the 9th and 10th centuries C.E. – attained this identity with Godhead and he was promptly killed for blasphemy when he proclaimed “I am the Truth.”

31 “He is risen” comes from what is called the “Paschal greeting.” On Easter, certain Christians will greet each other by saying “Christ is risen” and the response is “Truly, He is risen!” Easter, i.e. the Resurrection, corresponds to the Vernal Equinox ceremony insofar as the Father is resurrected in the Son in this Season.

32 This exchange is adapted from The Vision and the Voice, 15th Aethyr. “Exalted” and “great” are qualities or titles of the 5th Sephirah, Geburah, while “glory” and “thanksgiving” (the literal translation of eucharistos) are qualities or titles of the 4th Sephirah, Chesed. Together with Tiphareth, the Sun, they form the descending triangle of Ra-Hoor-Khuit, the Crowned and Conquering Child.

33 This line comes from Liber LXXVII: Liber OZ, and is switched in here for “There is no god but god,” which occurs in the 15th Aethyr. It is thus, in one sense, a development from the Muslim proclamation of faith insofar as the human being is understood to be the true God. It is said here by the Queen almost as a correction to the paeans being made by + and –.

34 The final sign of the NOX series, Mater Triumphans; it signifies the completion of the crossing of the Abyss to be born as Nemo

35 Lightning represents (a) Incarnation or Manifestation, i.e. the Qabalistic Lightning Flash ; (b) the birth of the Zarathustran Overman as in “Where is the lightning to lick you with its tongue? Where is the frenzy with which ye should be inoculated? Lo, I teach you the Superman: he is that lightning, he is that frenzy!-”; it is also therefore the birth of the Child of Attainment, i.e. Nemo in the City of the Pyramids; he is also the birth of the demi-god Savior as in, for example, the stories of Christ or Buddha (c) the Thelemic image of the generative force as in Liber A’ash, “Gnarled Oak of God! In thy branches is the lightning nested! Above thee hangs the Eyeless Hawk” and throughout Liber VII. It is therefore the Incarnation of the Spirit into Man and the birth of the Savior into the World, the Master of the Temple being cast from Binah back down into Malkuth to restart the cycle. The idea also relates to an aphorism from the Chaldean Oracles, “If thou often invokest thou shalt see all things growing dark; and then when no longer is visible unto thee the High-arched Vault of Heaven, when the Stars have lost their Light and the Lamp of the Moon is veiled, the Earth abideth not, and around thee darts the Lightning Flame and all things appear amid thunders.”

36 The Green Man/Pure Fool of Spring and youthful folly; also the Crowned & Conquering Child Horus

37 The East is where the Sun rises and therefore represents Birth.

38 The Sign of Osiris Risen with arms crossed over the chest; it is the sign of Life triumphant over Death.

39 This refers to the re-emergence of plant life after Winter and is reflected in many traditions, e.g. the Green Man, the green color of Osiris’ skin, or Atu 0: The Fool in the Thoth Tarot.

40 Rose-pink is a color of Tiphareth, the Sun, specifically “the rose-pink of dawn, the spring of the day” (777).

41 Revelation 1:13, “And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle.”

42 The Dagger is the weapon of Air and therefore symbolizes the bestowing of a Mind as a weapon to work his Will. It also reflects the Scourge, i.e. of Geburah/Mars that Osiris traditionally holds.

43 The Disk is the weapon of Earth and therefore symbolizes the bestowing of a Body as a weapon of work his Will. It also reflects the Crook, i.e. of Chesed/Jupiter that Osiris traditionally holds.

44 This is Baphomet, the Two-in-One God, who is seen as Christ the Redeemer in Revelation 1, the Alpha & Omega.

45 “The Ship: A Mystery Play” by Crowley

46 VIAOV represents the V passing through the cycle of Incarnation (IAO), triumphant and sustained by the process rather than it being a catastrophe. It represents the triumph of Life/Hadit through apparent death.

47 An adaptation of Revelation 1:17-18.

48 An adaptation of Revelation 22:9, “Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets,and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God.” The switch from “God” to “Thyself” represents the switch in perspective of the New Aeon of the Crowned and Conquering Child.

49 This particular line comes from The Vision and the Voice, 23rd Aethyr.

50 An adaptation of chapter 2 of Bhagavad Gita

51 Adapted from Revelation 21:4.

52 Liber AL II:9

53 Liber AL II:58.

54 This one line comes from The Vision and the Voice, 26th Aethyr.

55 An adaptation of more of chapter 2 of Bhagavad Gita

56 Adapted from The Vision and the Voice, 22nd Aethyr.

57 The 4 Elements are seen around the edges of Atu V: The Hierophant to which is attributed the sign of Taurus.

58 This arduous work of winning mastery over the Elements is reflected in the hard work of plowing the fields; Taurus, the Bull, is an animal used to help plow fields.

59 The Quarters represent the 4 Elements and the 4 Powers of the Sphinx.

60 Adapted from Liber Tzaddi, lines 1-4.

61 “Innocent and impotent” is a phrase used in Liber Samekh to describe the Pure Fool, the Babe Horus (Aleph – Atu 0: The Fool) that must obtain the Lance and become the Adult Horus (Ayin – Atu XV: The Devil).

62 Crowley writes in Liber Samekh, Point II, line 5, “What then is the formula of the initiation of Horus? It will no longer be that of the Man, through Death. It will be the natural growth of the Child. His experiences will no more be regarded as catastrophic. Their hieroglyph is the Fool: the innocent and impotent Harpocrates Babe becomes the Horus Adult by obtaining the Wand. ‘Der reine Thor’ seizes the Sacred Lance. Bacchus becomes Pan. The Holy Guardian Angel is the Unconscious Creature Self – the Spiritual Phallus. His knowledge and conversation contributes occult puberty.”

63 Liber LXI vel Causae, line 21.

64 The Vision and the Voice, 15th Aethyr.

65 A reference to the garden of the 13th Aethyr where a certain flower may arise as NEMO, the Master of the Temple.

66 A foreshadowing of the King’s death next Winter, and also a more esoteric reference to the fact that Attainment ultimates in the annihilation of the ego so the “you” of the ego shall not see the “reward.”

67 The Vision and the Voice, 13th Aethyr.

68 Adapted from AHA!

69 Adapted from AHA!

70 Basically, + represents the Threat of unbalanced Introversion: + tries to get the Child-King to keep to himself and be concerned only with himself.

71 Liber AL, II:22, 71, 72 and Liber AL, I:57.

72 The Sign of the Enterer, i.e. Silence, i.e. of Ra-Hoor-Khuit, represents a response to or attack against the – imbalance.

73 Two of the 10 Commandments of the Old Aeon. They represent, in general, the “Thou shalt”s and “Thou shalt not”s that are overturned in the New Aeon. In particular, the father and mother are no longer adored for it is the Aeon of the Crowned and Conquering Child. Adultery is no longer sacred, for we no longer pathologize the sexual instinct nor think it sinful, and Babalon is the Great Whore that we adore. Basically, + represents external Tyranny, i.e. religious-social Authority, and + tries to get the Child-King to conform to his ideal of what is right.

74 Liber AL, I:42-43.

75 The Sign of Silence, i.e. of Harpocrates or Hoor-Paar-Kraat, represents a response to or defense against the + imbalance.

76 A reference to the Lord’s prayer as in Luke 11:4, “And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.” Basically, – represents the threat of unbalance Extroversion: – tries to get the Child to engage in self-sacrifice, only thinking of others, which is a hallmark of the Old Aeon of Osiris, the Dying God.

77 Liber AL, II:58.

78 The Sign of Silence, i.e. of Harpocrates or Hoor-Paar-Kraat, represents a response to or defense against the + imbalance.

79 This line comes from Liber LXV, II:21 where it is asked by the “little crazy boy” of Reason to the Adept. Basically, – represents Internal Tyranny, i.e. superstition and habit. – tries to get the Child-King to question himself through hyper-rationality.

80 Liber AL, II:28-31.

81 The Sign of the Enterer, i.e. Silence, i.e. of Ra-Hoor-Khuit, represents a response to or attack against the – imbalance.

82 Liber AL, III:60.

83 This represents the end of childhood and the entering into adulthood. There have now been a total of 3.5 deosil circumambulations, symbolic of the Kundalini serpent coiled 3.5 times at the base of the spine. The awakening of the Kundalini represents the awakening to the Creative Life-force of Godhead, which is seen symbolically in puberty in the course of the individual’s life.

84 This represents attaining the “grade” of Man of Earth, corresponding to the Third Order of Golden Dawn (Malkuth, 1=10) which contains the 4 Elements. The next grade is the Lover, which is in Tiphareth (5=6). This grade, as well as that of Geburah (6=5) are attained in the Summer Solstice ceremony. The grade of 7=4 is attained in Autumn when the King becomes a Hermit, which is the final aspect of the grade of Lover. The next grade of Hermit (8=3) is attained in the Winter Solstice when the King gives up his life in an act of supreme Love.

85 The Vision and the Voice, 16th Aethyr.

86 This represents the child leaving the home of the family and becoming an independent adult. It also refers to the Son/Prince of Tetragrammaton (YHVH) uniting with the Daughter/Princess of Tetragrammaton (YHVH), so that she may be set upon the throne of the Mother (YHVH) and the Prince may become King (YHVH).

87 The Vision and the Voice, 16th Aethyr.

88 Luke 2:40.

89 The Vision and the Voice, 9th Aethyr. She is the Daughter or Princess of Tetragrammaton, the Final Heh of YHVH. The King, having attained the Lance, has achieved become the Prince (Vav of YHVH) who weds the Princess (Final Heh of YHVH) so that she may be set upon the Throne of Understanding (Heh of YHVH) and he may assume the Throne of the King (Yod of YHVH).

90 Adapted from AHA!

91 The Vision and the Voice, 9th Aethyr, “This is she that is set upon the Throne of Understanding. Holy, Holy, Holy is her name, not to be spoken among men. For Kor they have called her, and Malkuth, and Betulah, and Persephone.” Also, the 4th Aethyr, “And this is that which is written: Malkuth shall be uplifted and set upon the throne of Binah.”

92 A foreshadowing of the Summer Solstice ritual, which reflects Revelation 19:7, “Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready.” The King is, of course, the Lamb, the Solar Savior of Light, Life, Love, and Liberty.

 

On Contributing to the Greater Community in Thelema

IAO131 - On Serving the Greater Community in Thelema

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

Prologue

Before even beginning to discuss the extent that contributing to the greater community is part of Thelema, it should be acknowledged that the “alpha and omega” of Thelema is Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law. There is no law beyond doing your Will and you have no right but to do It. The answer to any question that takes the form “Is X or Y part of Thelema” is always “if it is your Will, then yes; if it is not your Will, then no.” I am not saying anyone “should” or “should not” do anything, but I am presenting an argument why contributing to the greater community is justified within the philosophy of Thelema. With that in mind, we can take a look at what Thelema implies and Crowley said about contributing to the greater community.

A maturing view of True Will

I would argue that, at a less mature level, Thelema is understood to be an entirely selfish doctrine. (By “less mature,” I simply mean “not fully developed,” and no pejorative implication is meant by it). When first learning about Thelema, individuals often understand “Do what thou wilt” to essentially mean “I have the right to find my Will and do it, so my personal needs trump everyone else’s.” From a certain standpoint, this is true. Your needs certainly deserve to be fulfilled. The problem is that many people simply do not know yet what their true “personal needs” and desires are in the first place – hence the necessity to engage in the process to know one’s Will. Further, one in this mindset maintains a very dichotomous (i.e. dualistic, black-and-white) view of the “self” as distinct from “others.” 

Many people move to the next level of maturity when they join an organization or start applying Thelema at a broader scale. That is, one matures to realize that everyone else has the right to do their own Will just as much as oneself. It is the realization that, just as you are the center of your own universe, everyone around you is the center of their own universes. Not only this, but many come to realize that becoming aware of others’ needs and even helping to fulfill them actually makes one’s own Will much easier to accomplish. The dichotomous view of “my Will versus the world” begins to break down and we see that we are a Star in the company of Stars. We see that disagreement does not preclude a greater harmony or cooperation, and often we find that we can accomplish greater things if we work together with others. We may even begin see that the distinction between “self” and “other” is much more tenuous, fluid, and dynamic than previously supposed, perhaps gaining a glimmer of the meaning of “the union of opposites” being the Great Work. 

This all may sound very obvious to some, but this is where things generally start to “break down.” Thelemites may see the rationale to serve their own needs and the needs of their Brothers and Sisters, but many do not see a rationale for contributing to the greater community. By “the greater community” I simply mean “people who are not part of OTO” or even “people who are not self-identified Thelemites.” Why might this be?

Why should we contribute to the greater community?

I am defining contributing as “giving resources, including but not limited to time, energy, and money.” We should certainly make sure to dedicate our resources to ourselves, making sure that our needs are met so that we may accomplish our Wills. Many Thelemites naturally and intuitively understand that contributing to an organization like OTO – i.e. by giving their time, energy, and money – is a great way to not only aid others in accomplishing their Wills but to learn more about one’s own Will in the process. The struggle for freedom – and the freedom that one has won for oneself – is naturally desired to be shared with others, so we band together into communities in order to preserve and promulgate the Law of Life, Light, Love, and Liberty. Why should we stop at our local community of Thelemites? Is not the Law for all? Do we not acknowledge that every man and every woman is a star? Do we not want all individuals to have the freedom to do their Wills? 

The image that precedes this essay is a well surrounded by four palm trees. This comes from Crowley’s essay “Liber CXXIV: Of Eden and the Sacred Oak” with the subtitle “And of the Greater and Lesser Hospitality of the O.T.O.” The subject of the essay is about “Profess Houses” in OTO, but I believe many of the principles apply on a greater, more general scale. As it is said, “For, in True Things, all are but images one of another; man is but a map of the universe, and Society is but the same on a larger scale.” The import of the image is that the Thelemic community – represented by the Profess House, but it could be any group of Thelemites of any or no formal organization – is a source of nourishment and hospitality to everything around it. Crowley writes:

“The symbol of the Profess-House is therefore a great Oak from which flow streams of water to every quarter fertilising indeed the ground about the hill and fortifying with moisture the roots of the oak itself, but not eddying about it and sapping its foundations. And in the spread of this Eden shall many men rejoice, taking shelter beneath overspreading branches, and refreshing their weary limbs in the fresh waters of the fount celestial pure. Alternatively, the symbol may be that of a well in the desert, sheltered by four great palms.”

Although the idea of the paradise of Eden with 4 rivers is a bit utopian and hyperbolic, it is nonetheless an important symbol.IAO131 - On Serving the Greater Community in Thelema The idea is that the community (represented by the oak or the well) nourishes things around it (the four streams of water or the four palms); further, in the community’s nourishing of others, it also fortifies itself without losing its own foundations. I think this is a beautiful image: every Thelemic community is a beacon of Light to those who stumble in darkness, a well of Life for those who struggle to subsist. 

Crowley himself says clearly, “thou must by Law assure to every Man a Means of satisfying his bodily and his mental Needs, leaving him free to develop any Super-Structure in Accordance with his Will, and protecting him from any that may seek to deprive him of these vertebral Rights.” This is essentially the idea of Maslow’s “hierarchy of needs” about 4 decades before the idea was described by Maslow: every individual needs the foundation of their basic needs – their “bodily and mental needs” – before the capstone of any kind of “Super-Structure” can be developed. Crowley reinforces this idea when he wrote to Lady Frieda Harris, “The whole world as I see it is at present lost in constipations of this kind; the real needs of humanity are what they have always been: food, shelter, love and freedom. That, roughly speaking, is the general true will of the species, and all devices, which are not subservient to this will, are errors.” If we have the means to, for example, satisfy the bodily needs of those who spend most of their energy concerned about food and shelter, does it not make sense to contribute to them if we are capable? That is, if we have the resources – the time, money, and/or energy – to aid others in by helping to satisfy their basic needs, are we not simply – in some some small way – allowing more and more individuals to do their Wills more fully? 

Crowley writes in Duty, “Pity, sympathy and like emotions are fundamentally insults to the Godhead of the person exciting them, and therefore also to your own. The distress of another may be relieved; but always with the positive and noble idea of making manifest the perfection of the Universe. Pity is the source of every mean, ignoble, cowardly vice; and the essential blasphemy against Truth.” Here we have a very good lesson from Crowley: if we are to help people, it is to manifest the perfection of every man and every woman being able to do their True Wills. It is to work towards the order and harmony of all the stars on Earth being as perfect as the order and harmony of all the stars in the Heavens. It is not done out of pity for distress or suffering, nor is it really done out of any emotion at all. This relief – this service of others – is done out of the desire to fulfill the Law of Liberty, to bring about a world where everyone has the capability and freedom to accomplish their True Wills. Perhaps this is one way that we can fulfill what is hoped for in OTO US Grand Lodge’s Vision Statement, “We will foster harmonious and constructive relationships with the academic, business, civil, and greater social communities within which we operate.”

We therefore have a very powerful but very simple view of contribution to the greater community: Contributing is done to help satisfy basic needs such as food and shelter which are common across all humanity that they may be able to more fully accomplish their True Wills. We do not impose any “Super-Structure” upon others but allow them to develop as they Will and make their own choices, and we do not contribute aid out of pity. This is done to “make manifest the perfection of the Universe.”

So why aren’t we doing this already?

Contributing to others is too Christian! The most obvious answer to why many Thelemites do not see contributing to the greater community as justified is that helping other people sounds like “charity,” a word that is inevitably tied up in many people’s minds with Christianity. Aside from the various arguments around charity itself, I think  we can acknowledge that rejecting an idea or behavior simply because it resembles some other belief system is not a good reason for rejecting it. Most Thelemites would think twice before rejecting Liber Resh as “too Muslim,” rejecting the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram as “too Jewish,” rejecting the Gnostic Mass as “too Christian,” or rejecting the use of a mantra as “too Hindu.” The reason to reject all these things should be determined by whether or not it is fulfilling or thwarting your individual Will, and that is always the only determining factor for everything. Perhaps some do not realize that “charity” comes from “caritas,” the Latin word used in the New Testament to translate the Greek word “agape which some Thelemites may be familiar with. With this, I would also add things like the argument that contributing to others is too “liberal,” “socialist,” “communist,” or whatever label associate with the general idea.

Contributing to others is too Humanitarian! Yes, Crowley said “An end to the humanitarian mawkishness which is destroying the human race by the deliberate artificial protection of the unfit.” He also lived off of a family inheritance and the generous donations of his friends and disciples. There is no need to even argue what “unfit” means in this context. I personally believe that we should concern ourselves with what is “fit” and “unfit” within ourselves to accomplish our own True Wills, and we acknowledge that every man and every woman is a star with an indefeasible right to accomplish their Wills as we do ours. Further, we have all benefited from others’ resources, from amniotic fluids to stimulating conversations to job promotions. While it is obvious that our own choices determine our destiny to a large extent, it would be a vain and short-sighted thing to believe we are entirely “self-made” in any way. As Liber Librae says, “A man is what he maketh himself within the limits fixed by his inherited destiny; he is a part of mankind; his actions affect not only what he calleth himself, but also the whole universe.” Aside from the fact that this means your acts (such as contributing to others) affect all of those around you, it  also means every single other individual’s actions affect your universe as well. A humble acknowledgment of this fact makes the idea of contributing to others seem quite natural.

We need to focus on our own! Yes, we do need to focus on “our own.” Our concern should begin with ourselves and emanate outward farther and farther. If, for example, an OTO body is struggling to even pay the rent, it would not make sense to devote money toward contributing to the general community. As Liber Librae says, “If thou thyself hast not a sure foundation, whereon wilt thou stand to direct the forces of Nature?” Of course you need a sure foundation, both individually and organizationally. That still doesn’t preclude the possibility of extending influence and resources beyond oneself once that sure foundation is secured.

Summary

Fresh Fever From the Skies: The Collected Writings of IAO131Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law. If it is your Will to contribute to the greater community, then that is fine; if it is not your Will, then that is fine as well. Nonetheless, there is a good rationale for engaging in contributing to the greater community. If we appreciate the freedom to know and do our Wills, we will naturally appreciate aiding others to achieve this freedom, even if it is in a small way. Crowley insisted that we are to assure the satisfaction of basic needs such as food and shelter so that individuals may have the capacity and freedom to develop their own unique proclivities. He also reminded us that this should be done out of making manifest the perfection of the Universe on Earth, of wanting every man and every woman to be able to accomplish their Wills, not out of pity or distress. If we have the resources to help others satisfy their basic needs so they may more fully know and do their Wills, why wouldn’t we contribute to the greater community?

Love is the law, love under will.

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Yama & Niyama of Thelema: What is the “ideal Thelemite”?

The Yama and Niyama of Thelema

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

What is the “ideal Thelemite”? In short: There is no such thing as an “ideal Thelemite.” The Law of Thelema is “Do what thou wilt,” which means that every individual is sovereign. Every man and every woman has their own individual Law, their own unique Will. As William Blake said, “One Law for the Lion and the Ox is Oppression.”

The fact that “There is no law beyond Do what thou wilt” (Liber AL, III:60) is precisely why there are no standard or universal ideals. Each individual has their own Will, and each Law must have its own, unique “ideal.” Regarding the fact that there are no standards or universal ideals, Crowley writes: 

“What is necessary is not to seek after some fantastic ideal, utterly unsuited to our real needs, but to discover the true nature of those needs, to fulfill them, and rejoice therein.” —Magick Without Tears, chapter 8

“Know then, o my Son, that all Laws, all Systems, all Customs, all Ideals and Standards which tend to produce Uniformity, being in direct Opposition to Nature’s Will to change and to develop through Variety, are accursèd.”  —Liber Aleph, chapter 31: ‘De Lege Motus’

“Each child must develop its own Individuality, and Will, disregarding alien Ideals. … Let children educate themselves to be themselves. Those who train them to standards cripple and deform them. Alien ideals impose parasitic perversions. … Standards of education, ideals of Right-and-Wrong, conventions, creeds, codes, stagnate Mankind.” —On the Education of Children

One might argue that Thelema is itself a “universal ideal.” Thelema is a universal Law insofar as “Do what thou wilt” states that each individual must find their own unique Will, their own particular Law. The universal ideal is therefore that there are no universal ideals: each must “discover the true nature of [one’s real] needs, to fulfill them, and rejoice therein.” The only absolute is that there are no absolutes; the only constant is change. 

In a way, then, we can say that the “ideal Thelemite” is one who does their own Will and lets others do their Wills. This “ideal Thelemite” follows their own Law and others follow their own, different Laws; there are no universal ideals of “what is best” or “what is absolutely Right and Wrong” beyond this. This is what is sometimes called the “Yama and Niyama of Thelema.”

We borrow the terms “Yama” and “Niyama” from the Hindu system of raja yoga as explained, among other places, in Patanjali’s classic treatise called the Yogasutras. Yama and Niyama are words that mean opposite things, similar to “Thou shalt not” (Yama) and “Thou shalt” (Niyama). Unfortunately, translating them  into English is not easy, but their real meaning in the context of Thelema becomes clear with just a little explication.

The Yama of Thelema is to have the self-discipline to find one’s own Will and to do that Will. As it is said, “Thou hast no right but to do thy will” (Liber AL, I:42). The Niyama of Thelema is to mind your own business or, in other words, to allow others to find and do their Wills. The Niyama is to extend the same absolute liberty to do your own Will that you rightfully claim to all other individuals. In short:

  • The Yama of Thelema: Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law. Thou hast no right but to do thy will.
  • The Niyama of Thelema: Mind your own business.

Yama: Crowley mentions that Yama means something similar to “control” or “the  word ‘inhibition’ as used by biologists.” Basically, Yama means the self-discipline to remain on the “track” or “path” of one’s True Will and not swerving from it. “Thou hast no right but to do thy will,” (Liber AL, I:42) which shows that you are by definition outside of your sole right when you deviate from your Path. This requires the self-discipline to remain true to one’s own Law. As Crowley writes, “What is true for every School is equally true for every individual. Success in life, on the basis of the Law of Thelema, implies severe self-discipline.” Crowley gives a succinct summary of the Yama of Thelema when he writes:

“I wish to thunder forth once more that no questions of right or wrong enter into our problems. But in the stratosphere it is ‘right’ for a man to be shut up in a pressure-resisting suit electrically heated, with an oxygen supply, whereas it would be ‘wrong’ for him to wear it if he were running the three miles in the summer sports in the Tanezrouft. This is the pit into which all the great religious teachers have hitherto fallen, and I am sure you are all looking hungrily at me in the hope of seeing me do likewise. But no! There is one principle which carries us through all conflicts concerning conduct, because it is perfectly rigid and perfectly elastic: — ‘Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.’ That is Yama.” —Eight Lectures on Yoga, “Yama”

Niyama: There is no “opposite term” of Yama, or self-discipline, to adequately translate “Niyama.” We might say that the complementary term of “self-discipline” is, in this case, something like “other-discipline.” If Yama is the discipline we have toward ourselves in remaining true to our own Law, Niyama is the discipline we have toward others in allowing them to remain true to their own Laws. This “other-discipline” can be summarized as “Mind your own business.” Crowley says as much in several places:

“Mind your own business! is the sole sufficient rule.” —Magick Without Tears, chapter 15

“I will have thee to know, moreover, my dear Son, the right Art of Conduct with them whom I shall give thee for Initiation. And the Rule thereof is one Rule: Do that thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law. See thou constantly to it that this be not broken; especially in the Section thereof (if I dare say so) which readeth Mind thine own Business. This is of Application equally to all, and the most dangerous Man (or Woman, as has occurred, or I err) is the Busy-body. Oh how ashamed are we, and moved to Indignation, seeing the Sins and Follies of our Neighbours!” —Liber Aleph, chapter 96: ‘De Discipulis Regendis’

“Every Star has its own Nature, which is ‘Right’ for it. We are not to be missionaries, with ideal standards of dress and morals, and such hard-ideas. We are to do what we will, and leave others to do what they will. We are infinitely tolerant, save of intolerance”. —New Comment to Liber AL, II:57

“It is necessary that we stop, once for all, this ignorant meddling with other people’s business. Each individual must be left free to follow his own path.” —New Comment to Liber AL, I:31

The name Crowley gives for someone who fails to uphold the Niyama of Thelema is a “busy-body.” A busy-body is someone who is concerned about what other people are doing, how other people are doing things, and why other people are doing things. A busy-body is concerned about someone else’s True Will rather than being concerned with their own. They are indignant about the “sins and follies” of their neighbors rather than focusing on themselves, and generally meddle in others’ affairs. A busy-body, in short, does not mind their own business.

We are all busy-bodies to some degree or another whenever we impose our standards, expectations, or ideals on others, whenever we think that “we know best” for anyone other than ourselves. This can be anything from the most mundane and concrete such as criticizing another’s choice in clothing to the more subtle such as expecting others to perform the same spiritual practices as oneself or insisting that people who believe something different from oneself must be “corrected.” 

When put into practice, we quickly see that the Niyama of Thelema – that of minding one’s own business and allowing others to do their Wills – is not simply a limp passivity. It is not “grinning and bearing it,” which implies that – deep down – you actually don’t want them to do their Wills (let alone that you obviously aren’t rejoicing in it!). The Niyama of Thelema is an active, positive thing: we actively affirm the right of each individual to know and do their True Will. When we greet one another, we look fearlessly into each others’ eyes and say, “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.” This is to say to everyone you meet, as Crowley writes, “Look, brother, we are free! Rejoice with me, sister, there is no law beyond Do what thou wilt!” 

Some might say that it takes strength to control everything, but it is a much greater strength to not need to control everything and everyone. It is a symptom of being unsure and anxious to feel the need to control people by insisting that it’s your way or the highway. That is: Being a busy-body is a symptom of weakness and fear, although it will inevitably mask itself in the “virtue” that essentially comes down to “knowing what is best” for someone else (let alone “all other Thelemites”!). That is where “compassion” and “altruism” and even “teaching” teeters into the realm of folly.

We will all inevitably hear (or probably have already heard) some self-avowed Thelemite question why others are not doing this or that, insisting they are complaining about others because they “really care” about Thelema. Many of us have fallen prey to this ourselves (“Oh no! Definitely not me!” … Yes, you especially!). This “care” – this “noble cause” of ours – is nothing but the demands of a busy-body cloaking itself in guise of “virtue.” We all should remember to “veil not your vices in virtuous words” (Liber AL, II:52). This “care” basically comes down to insisting that everyone else must have the same values as yourself, which is exactly opposite to affirming “Do what thou wilt.” If you ever find yourself asking, or hear someone else asking, something that amounts to “Why doesn’t this other person/these other people think that this is important?” The answer is most likely “Because it isn’t important to them, nor does it need to be”… or, more pointedly, “Mind your own business.” This is why there is no “ideal Thelemite.” This is why “One Law for the Lion and the Ox is Oppression.” Any insistence otherwise will quickly fall into the same trap that characterized the Old Aeon, the tyranny of a single standard or ideal for all people, rather than a multiplicity of Laws, each uniquely suited to the individual. 

Again: The Niyama of Thelema is not a limp, passive, “grin and bear it” quality. On the contrary: It takes an active, almost virile quality to say to every individual, “I don’t know what your Will is, I don’t know what your ‘good’ or ‘bad’ are, I don’t even know how your Will may interact with and effect mine, but I grant you the absolute right to do your Will and I claim the equally absolute right to do my Will.”  This is far from a passive “letting things happen”; the Niyama of Thelema is an active affirmation, an enthusiastic encouragement, a joyous battle-cry for each and every man and woman to discover their real needs, to fulfill them, and to rejoice therein. To believe otherwise is the essence of tyranny; to act otherwise is the essence of oppression. This requires the strength to stand in the midst of uncertainty and ambiguity, of accepting variety and difference of style and opinion, of not knowing “how everything should be” for everyone or anyone else. Any concern arising about others “not doing it the right way” should be a reminder to us all to re-focus on our own Will: this should be a reminder of the Yama of staying true to our own Path and the Niyama of affirming the right of others to be true to their Paths.

 This is the simplicity and the beauty of the Law of Thelema: There are no absolute standards or universal ideals. Fresh Fever From the Skies: The Collected Writings of IAO131Every man and every woman has the indefeasible right and duty to know and do his or her True Will. Each has their own standard, their own Law. Any occurrence of someone imposing their Law on another, or anyone accepting a Law imposed on them by another, is a distortion and deforming of a star’s true nature. It is our Yama to adhere to this Law of our own True Will, and it is our Niyama to affirm the right of every other individual to adhere to the Law of his or her own True Will. This is real Freedom, the perfect order on Earth as the stars move seamlessly in the perfect order in the Heavens; this why our Law of “Do what thou wilt” is the Law of Liberty itself.

Love is the law, love under will.

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Is Thelema a Religion or not?

Is Thelema Religion or Not?

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

One of the ever-present questions in the discourse about Thelema is whether or not it is a religion. I think this question is most poetically answered by someone – I believe the credit goes to Jake Stratton-Kent – who said:

“There is religion in Thelema for those that require it. There is also freedom from religion in Thelema, for those that require it.”

In short: Yes… and no. All I can attempt to do is elaborate on this position to make it a bit more clear.

Before going too far in depth, it should be said that – according to anthropologists, sociologists, theologists, and the like – Thelema would most definitely be classified as a “religion.” It has a “Bible” (Liber AL vel Legis), a moral code (Do what thou wilt), a Prophet (To Mega Therion), a set of practices (Magick), and even a “pantheon” (Nuit, Hadit, Ra-Hoor-Khuit, Hoor-paar-kraat, et cetera). Whether or not this is entirely an accurate designation is another question.

We might first look at why people wouldn’t want to call Thelema a “religion.” The answer is fairly obvious: “religion” in the 21st Century has become synonymous with superstition, tyranny, and oppression. There is no doubt about this: organized religion has, for millenia, been a force for all of these horrible things that stand against the spirit of Liberty. Many people who are most vocal about Thelema not being a religion are those who experienced this superstition, tyranny, and oppression first-hand in their childhood, and I personally do not find their reaction to be hard to understand. 

In this light, we can see that Crowley himself was wary of the use of the term “religion” to describe Thelema. In a letter found in Magick Without Tears, he writes:

“To sum up, our system is a religion just so far as a religion means an enthusiastic putting-together of a series of doctrines, no one of which must in any way clash with Science or Magick. Call it a new religion, then, if it so please your Gracious Majesty; but I confess that I fail to see what you will have gained by so doing, and I feel bound to add that you might easily cause a great deal of misunderstanding, and work a rather stupid kind of mischief.

We should note, firstly, that Crowley begins this quotation by saying that – according to a certain definition of religion as “an enthusiastic putting-together of a series of doctrines” – Thelema is, in fact, a religion. He then says that calling Thelema a “religion” may cause misunderstanding and mischief. He does not explain exactly why it would cause misunderstanding and mischief but we can guess that it is most likely for the aforementioned reasons: it associates it with the Old Aeon religions that are gleaming beacons of superstition, tyranny, and oppression, i.e. those exact things we are set to destroy with our Law of Liberty. People may also assume that we believe things that other religions do, especially the Judeo-Christian-Islamic type, such as the belief in a gaseous vertebrate breed of God, which is most certainly false. 

In short, we may refrain from calling Thelema a religion because it associates it with superstition, tyranny, and oppression which Thelema is firmly against in every way, being the Law of Liberty. Our Law is simultaneously more simple and more nuanced than a belief in a Judeo-Christian-Islamic Daddy-in-the-sky God. Keep in mind, though, that this implies that calling Thelema a religion may cause misunderstanding and mischief, but it does not imply that the designation is inaccurate in some fundamental way. 

Now we may turn to the reasons why Thelema is a religion. First of all, Crowley calls Thelema a religion repeatedly.

In his commentary on Liber AL, III:22, Crowley writes:

Our religion therefore, for the People, is the Cult of the Sun, who is our particular star of the Body of Nuit, from whom, in the strictest scientific sense, come this earth, a chilled spark of Him, and all our Light and Life.”

In this line, he very clearly calls Thelema a religion, although there is a caveat that it is “for the People,” by which we may assume he means “the masses” and not necessarily for the “Hermits” or “initiates” or “Adepts”  (although this is, admittedly, an assumption).

In The Constitution of the Order of Thelemites, Crowley writes this Order is against “All superstitious religion, as obstacles to the establishment of scientific religion.” Here he clearly calls Thelema a religion, but he opposes “superstitious religion” (those of the Old Aeon and many of those that have cropped up in the New Aeon as well) to “scientific religion.” We get a further clarification that Thelema, insofar as it is a religion, is not opposed to science. 

In the “Editorial” prefacing The Equinox III:1 (also known as The Blue Equinox), Crowley writes an important passage:

The world needs religion. Religion must represent Truth, and celebrate it. This truth is of two orders: one, concerning Nature external to Man; two, concerning Nature internal to Man.

Existing religions, especially Christianity, are based on primitive ignorance of the facts, particularly of external Nature. Celebrations must conform to the custom and nature of the people. Christianity has destroyed the joyful celebrations, characterized by music, dancing, feasting, and making love; and has kept only the melancholy.

The Law of Thelema offers a religion which fulfils all necessary conditions. The philosophy and metaphysics of Thelema are sound, and offer a solution of the deepest problems of humanity. The science of Thelema is orthodox; it has no false theories of Nature, no false fables of the origin of things. The psychology and ethics of Thelema are perfect. It has destroyed the damnable delusion of Original Sin, making every one unique, independent, supreme, and sufficient. The Law of Thelema is given in the Book of the Law.”

Here we have another instance of Crowley explicitly calling Thelema a religion. He insists again that it must “represent Truth, and celebrate it,” concurring with the aforementioned quotation that insists Thelema is a “scientific religion.”

From these quotations, it seems fairly clear that Crowley did – with the caveat that it represents and celebrates Truth and is “scientific” – consider Thelema a religion. There is a further point that, in my opinion, clarifies the entire matter: Thelema is a religion but it is more than just a religion. I have said several times that Thelema is an all-encompassing paradigm, and this is meant to imply that Thelema is a religion… and much more.

We have already seen inklings of this idea in the previous quotation where Crowley calls Thelema a religion while also mentioning the philosophy, metaphysics, science, psychology, and ethics of Thelema. In his Confessions, Crowley conveys this idea that Thelema is more than just a religion with great clarity when he writes:

Thelema implies not merely a new religion, but a new cosmology, a new philosophy, a new ethics. It co-ordinates the disconnected discoveries of science, from physics to psychology, into a coherent and consistent system. Its scope is so vast that it is impossible even to hint at the universality of its application.”

He says “Thelema implies not merely a new religion.” It also implies a new cosmology, philosophy, and ethics. Thelema is not limited to the small sphere of theology. This perspective is reflected in the fact that we, following Crowley, call Thelema a “Law.” This Law is given in The Book of the Law. Crowley also calls Thelema a “formula.” For example, in the essay “The Beginning of the New World” (which can be found in the recently-published The Revival of Magick), Crowley writes:

“The many religions of the world have all lost their power to guide chiefly because the development of means of transport and of international commerce have convinced the educated that any one religion is about as good or bad as another for the purposes of social discipline, and that none has any validity from the standpoint of actual fact, or historical or philosophical truth.

The remedy is evidently to be found only in one way. There must be found a formula based upon absolute common sense, without one trammel of theological theory or dogma, a formula to which no man of intelligence can refuse assent, and which at the same time affords an absolute sanction for all laws of conduct, social and political no less than individual, so that the right or wrong of any isolated or concerted action can be determined with mathematical accuracy by any trained observer, entirely irrespective of his personal idiosyncrasies. This formula is: Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.”

When we consider Thelema as a “Law” or a “formula,” we are – first of all – using language that is in common with science (e.g. “the law of gravity” or “the formula for calculating velocity”). More importantly, we are using language that is universal insofar as this Law or formula applies to all aspects of life. 

Fresh Fever From the Skies: The Collected Writings of IAO131I believe the idea that Thelema is not just a religion but a new paradigm of cosmology, metaphysics, ethics, and psychology is the most accurate perspective on whether or not Thelema is a religion. Insofar as Thelema is a religion, it is a religion that is explicitly opposed to superstition, to “theological theory or dogma” (ideally!), and oppression. In the end, what’s in a name? Thelema’s Law is “Do what thou wilt” and people are free to call it a religion or not. Whether you choose to call it a religion or not is your own choice, and whether or not someone else chooses to call Thelema a religion is none of our business. The real question, the one that really matters, is: Are you living the Law of Thelema? Have you written “Do what thou wilt” in your heart and in your brain? Have you used the simplicity of the Key of the Law to unlock the complexities of philosophy, psychology, theology, and daily life? In short: are you doing your True Will or not? In light of this central consideration all other things, including what names and titles we give to things, are – at best – totally irrelevant and are – at worst – leading us to mischief and futility. As always: There is no law beyond Do what thou wilt.

Love is the law, love under will.

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Promulgation of Thelema on the Internet

Promulgation of Thelema on the Internet

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

There are a few individuals who have qualms about promulgation of the Law of Thelema on the Internet, specifically through social media outlets such as Facebook. The basic argument against doing this is that promulgating on Facebook “dumbs down” the Law by just using a single quotation or image.

I understand this concern, and I agree to some extent. It would be better for people to read the source texts of Crowley’s writings rather than simply to click “Like” on an image on Facebook. That is a fairly unarguable point in itself, yet – within the context of the Internet – there are many reasons why this argument misses the point.

First of all, here are some relevant quotations from Crowley himself on promulgation:

  • Crowley wrote to Frater Achad in June of 1916: “Observe: the business before the meetings is this: How shall we put into effect the Law of Thelema. We have the Law already; I don’t see that we need any more knowledge; but we need very badly the power to administer it. I think I’ve been making a fool of myself, thinking and talking and writing. What I need is efficiency in promulgation.”
  • Crowley also wrote on August 28, 1936: “One thing I will say: that I do not expect anything to come of qabalistic speculations. I think that they may even be extremely mischievous in times like the present. Our sole business should be to use the Law to reconstruct the world from the chaos into which it is already half tumbled. That formula is a simple one, and requires no specialised training. The work requires the cooperation of tens of thousands of people who have never heard of the Qabalah, and they have to be addressed in language which they can understand.”
  • Crowley also wrote to Grady McMurtry (Hymenaeus Alpha) in August of 1945:It is necessary to broaden the scope of presentation of the Law of Thelema so that people of all types may be able to appreciate that particular part which they can understand. In this manner the thought processes of the majority will be so directed that all those who can Understand the Law will be given the opportunity to do so while at the same time providing a guide for those whose Understanding is incomplete.”

Sabazius X° has also written in Agape X:4, “While we have no duty to ‘convert,’ we do have a duty to disseminate the Law as widely as possible throughout human society, not just within specific sub-cultures, classes, and social groups.”

From these quotations, we can see that Crowley was interested in several things regarding promulgation of the Law:

  • Crowley wanted more power and efficiency in spreading the Law.
  • Crowley wanted the cooperation of tens of thousands of people who do not need to understand specialized things such as the Qabalah.
  • Crowley wanted the Law to be presented in a way that people of all types can appreciate the parts of the Law that they can understand.

Therefore, good promulgation requires (1) a powerful medium (or diverse media) to spread the Law, (2) the ability to reach thousands of people, and (3) presentation in a simple and straightforward way.

I personally believe that the Internet is a perfect medium to fulfill all 3 of these requisites for good promulgation. Facebook in particular is currently a medium that allows many people to not only see bits and pieces of the Law through quotations and images, but it also allows individuals to easily share these things to further promulgation. For example, the image that heads this essay was seen by over 10,000 different individuals in a single posting. It (1) used a powerful medium of Facebook that (2) reached over 10,000 people and (3) was a quotation that most people, even without any knowledge of Thelema or more technical subjects such as Magick or Qabalah, could appreciate. 

The potential reach of Facebook is actually fairly astonishing. To give an example, the “Aleister Crowley” Facebook page currently has an average weekly reach of around 45,000 individuals. That means that, in any given week, some post (whether text, link, video, or image) is seen on the News Feed of around 45,000 unique users. What other promulgation effort can reach 45,000 people every week? To continue with this example, any time that someone clicks “Like,” comments, or shares a post on the “Aleister Crowley” Facebook page, it can be seen by any of that person’s Facebook Friends. How many Friends of people who are “Fans” of this Facebook page are there? Over 24 million. Friends of these Fans can then click “Like,” comment, or share so the number of possible viewers is actually higher than 24 million. This is only a single Facebook Page (let alone all the others and people’s individual Facebook Profiles), and the numbers should, in my opinion, speak for themselves. Does it not say in The Book of the Law, “Success is your proof”? It is possible that this is, in fact, the largest and most widespread promulgation effort that Thelema has seen in its entire history. 

What do these efforts do that are beneficial toward the end of promulgating the Law?

  • Thousands of people will see content, whether a link to a full text or a quotation or whatever else, that they otherwise would not have seen or thought about.
  • Thousands of people who have never heard about Thelema or Aleister Crowley are given a chance to see a small bit of what the Law is about.
  • Thousands of people are given an opportunity to promulgate the Law themselves (who would often not do so otherwise) by spreading the content.
  • Everyone can choose whether to follow these Facebook pages, and they can choose to comment or share on them. It is, in a way, the pinnacle of promulgation as opposed to proselytization. No one is being forced to do or see or listen to anything.

Is this a replacement for people reading the source materials, engaging in their local communities, doing the practices of Yoga and Magick, and generally integrating the Law into their lives? Of course not. But neither is any other form of outreach, including the most beautifully bound and articulately written book. It is just as likely for someone to read an entire book on Magick and never perform a ritual as it is for someone to share a quotation on Facebook and not really integrate it into their lives.

We have no power to force Thelema on anyone: it is the Work of each individual to study, understand, and integrate it into their lives and no amount of work by other people can ever replace that. It never has and it never will. These Internet promulgation efforts simply give more and more opportunities for individuals to spread the Law to “people of all types” as Crowley wanted. It is, in a way, even more powerful than books because it is free, efficient, allows people to perpetuate the ideas with little to no effort, and can reach many individuals who would not otherwise have even heard of Crowley or the Law of Liberty. Also – although it may come as a shock or an insult to many Thelemites – not everyone is an intellectual who has time to read long, obtuse essays or books. Whether from lack of education, interest, or proclivity, there are many people – in fact, I would say most people – who are not bibliophile eggheads like myself (and many current Thelemites). “The Law is for all,” and that does not mean only bibliophile eggheads. 

Some people are concerned whether these Internet promulgation efforts have led to increased initiates at the local OTO body or even more Thelemites. At the core of this is a concern as to how much people are really integrating these ideas and putting them into practice. As I just said: it is the Work of each individual to study, understand, and integrate it into their lives and no amount of work by other people can ever replace that. More importantly, there is absolutely no way to ever know for sure. Aside from the fact that we don’t systematically ask every single new face at an event what specific things led to them showing up, there is also the fact that many people are not exactly sure, cannot remember, or do not even want to say (perhaps in part because of the chance of being met with sanctimoniousness!) There is also no way to know how these promulgation efforts affect existing members of organizations like OTO. I personally think that if some Facebook post got someone to think a little bit about Thelema that day, even if it is only for a few moments, then that is better than them not thinking about it. Perhaps they have never even encountered that particular link or quotation before. Further: Aside from organizations like OTO, there is absolutely no way to determine how this affects Thelemites (and non-Thelemites) who are not associated with any particular organization. 

In short, as I’ve already said, there is absolutely no way to ever know sure. What we do know is the incredible extent to which these Internet promulgation efforts have reached people in some way or another, Thelemite and non-Thelemite alike. It is a certain fact that “tens of thousands of people” (just as Crowley wanted) are seeing this content when they otherwise would not have seen it. The Book of the Law says, “and to each man and woman that thou meetest, were it but to dine or to drink at them, it is the Law to give. Then they shall chance to abide in this bliss or no; it is no odds.” Really, should we be concerned about whether or not other people are truly engaging with the material anyhow? Are we not affording individuals a “chance to abide in this bliss or no” and, whether or not they do anything at all with it, “it is no odds”? Isn’t the insistence that individuals do a certain thing or act in a particular way a fundamental breach of acknowledging “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law”? 

The Book of the Law says, “Success is thy proof: argue not; convert not; talk not overmuch!” Let’s engage in a little thought experiment: Consider the difference between (a) an individual who, for example, creates an image with a quotation about the Law and spreads it on Facebook versus (b) an individual who criticizes this effort. Person A is creating an opportunity or chance for someone to hear about the Law, think about the Law, and share the Law without any attempt to convert anyone (“Success is thy proof”). Person B is, first of all, reactive – they are setting the causal principle of their actions outside of themselves by re-acting instead of acting. Person B is arguing rather than spreading the Law (“argue not”), trying to enforce and impose their standard of how to behave as “a real Thelemite” on others (“convert not”), and are spending time and energy chastising others (“talk not overmuch”) instead creating their own material that would, obviously, be so much better. If 10,000 people see something about Thelema because of the posting of an image, how many people are really being reached through criticizing it? 

Fresh Fever From the Skies: The Collected Writings of IAO131While constructive criticism is always beneficial to honing the efficiency of an approach, there is a lot of criticism that is simply emotional and reactive (i.e. not constructive). There seem to be some people who, whether consciously or not, want to keep Thelema as a cloistered, elitist, and tiny clique. That is their prerogative – Do what thou wilt, of course – but I believe that I, along with tens of thousands of other people, are doing a lot of substantial work to spread the Law of Thelema to the rest of the world in accordance with the attitude of the Prophet (as seen in the quotations above). “The Law is for all” after all, and I say: If we truly believe that Thelema is the Law of Liberty – the Key to our evolution as individuals and a species – we should give as many people as possible the “chance to abide in this bliss or no.”

Love is the law, love under will.

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Thelemic Mysticism

Thelemic Mysticism – part 4: Mysticism in Practice – The Lover

Thelemic Mysticism

[ ← Part 3: Mysticism in Practice – Intro & The Man of Earth ← |
Part 5: Mysticism in Practice – Crossing the Abyss & The Hermit → ]

PART 4: MYSTICISM IN PRACTICE – The Lover

2) The Lover: Communion with the Holy Guardian Angel

• “O my Lord, my beloved! How shall I indite songs, when even the memory of the shadow of thy glory is a thing beyond all music of speech or of silence?”
Liber Cordis Cincti Serpente sub figura LXV, II:48
• “And the Beloved shall abide with Thee.”
Liber Stellae Rubeae sub figura LXVI, line 32
• “He shall await the sword of the Beloved and bare his throat for the stroke.”
Liber Liberi vel Lapidus Lazuli sub figura VII, III:47

If one persists in the work of the first Stage, continuing one’s meditation/devotion with increasing fervor and dedication, one will inevitably come to this second Stage. The second Stage can be likened to the Grade of “Lover.” This is the middle of the Path where one communes with the Divine, the Absolute, the One, et cetera, as a Lover with the Beloved.

In Thelemic Mysticism, this Love or Communion is understood under the figure of “the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel,” and it is often symbolized by a heart encircled by a serpent or the Rose-Cross. This is appropriate to the Grade of “Lover” because this stage is often described as the meeting or union between Lover (the Mystic) and Beloved (the Object of aspiration); this is the “Spiritual Marriage” spoken of by many Mystics.

“Union”: It should be clearly understood that “union” has two related but distinct meanings that are often conflated.

1) Two united but distinct: At this second Stage of the Mystic Path, “union” refers to two things uniting but remaining distinct. In the language of Thelemic Mysticism, the Adept and the Holy Guardian Angel are united like lovers, they meet and interact and enjoy one another but they remain separate as Adept and Angel. “Love” requires the interaction and union of “Lover” and “Beloved,” though they are united. “Communion” may be a more accurate term. The persistence in this Love so that it becomes complete and perfect, so to speak, leads to the next stage.

2) Two united into One (or None) without distinction: In the third Stage of the Mystic Path (which we will explore later), “union” refers to these two things uniting so completely that there is a dissolution of separateness, leaving only One Thing (or “No-Thing”). “Absorption” or “annihilation” may be more accurate terms.

The distinction between these two notions of “union” is important because, as mentioned previously, they are often conflated by both readers and writers of Mysticism. For now, it should be understood that “union” in the second Stage of the Lover refers to the first definition, where two things are united that still remain distinct (soul & God, subject & object, ego & non-ego, et cetera).

The Nature of the Second Stage:

This second stage of the Mystic Path is often called Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel in Thelemic Mysticism. In Christian Mysticism, it is often called “Illumination.”

“And again I was caught up into the presence of my Lord Adonai, and the knowledge and Conversation of the Holy One, the Angel that Guardeth me.”
Liber Cordis Cincti Serpente sub figura LXV, V:41

The primary characteristic of this Illumination is the distinct and immediate perception of the “presence” of the Divine (or God/Absolute/Lord/Truth, et cetera).

This “presence” is not a mere metaphor or artistic flourish: it is a distinct, direct, experiential certainty of the presence of the Absolute, though this is expressed in various ways by various Mystics. This distinct, direct, experiential certainty is one aspect of the “Sense of Objectivity/Reality” mentioned in the previous section on “Mysticism in Theory.

• “Even as evil kisses corrupt the blood, so do my words devour the spirit of man.
Liber LXV, I:14
• “I was stricken as a bird by the bolt of the thunderer; I was pierced as the thief by the Lord of the Garden.”
Liber LXV, IV:40
“All this while did Adonai pierce my being with his sword…”
Liber LXV, V:14

This “presence” is often felt as the Divine “intruding” into the consciousness, so metaphors often involve “piercing” and “penetrating.” The use of the metaphor of the Divine as the Bridegroom and the Mystic as the Bride consummating their Spiritual Marriage should therefore come as no surprise.

This “Spiritual Marriage” corresponds to the second step of concentration in the Hindu system of Yoga: dhyana. In the first step of Yoga, dharana, one concentrates all of one’s thought upon a single Object, and there is much difficulty; this corresponds with the first Stage of the Mystic Path, the Man of Earth. This second step of concentration is called dhyana. In this second Stage of the Mystic Path, the Lover, there come times where the “subject” appears to disappear and only the Object remains, often co-occurring with a sense of ananda  (bliss). Dhyana also can be felt as a union of subject and object but not a complete union where both are annihilated. Dhyana represents a powerful and distinct stage of meditation, that is often said to be a lesser form of Samadhi, the total union of subject and object that is the Goal of Mysticism, characteristic of the third Stage of the Mystic Path, the Hermit.

The are various secondary characteristics of this Illumination:

“Then the adept was rapt away in bliss, and the beyond of bliss, and exceeded the excess of excess. Also his body shook and staggered with the burden of that bliss and that excess and that ultimate nameless.”
Liber LXV, II:45-46

1) “Joy,” “bliss,” or “ecstasy”: Joy, bliss, and ecstasy are not the primary factors of Illumination, they are Illumination’s natural by-products. That is, they do not constitute Illumination itself, but they often accompany Illumination. Crowley often likens  Illumination to the union of chemical elements, which naturally gives off light and heat. The “union of chemical elements” is analogous to Illumination itself, while the “light and heat” refer to the joy, bliss, and ecstasy that are by-products of the union. This feeling is felt as a joy that transcends one’s normal likes and dislikes, one’s typical pleasures and pains. Conversely, many of the anxieties, worries, and fears that plague the Mystic will fall away or seem petty in contrast to this Mystic communion.

“Having attained the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel (by a male effort so to speak) the Adept becomes receptive, feminine, patient, surrendering his will wholly to that of his Angel… The aspiration towards Him is masculine. At the moment of achievement it is replaced by passivity…”
Commentaries to Liber LXV, II:45-46

2) Passivity: The Mystic will often feel a sense of “surrender” or “passivity.” The achievement of this Stage requires great will and endurance, but it culminates in a surrender of that will. This is the surrender of the “personal will,” the volition or will-power of the individual, which allows for the Divine Will to take its place; it is the difference between one’s personal wishes/whims and the True Will. This release of “personal will” is virtually universal across all Mystics, especially Christian Mystics. It is because of this “surrender” or “passivity” that the image of a virgin is often used to describe the Mystic at this point: the virgin is “pure” insofar as her desire is only for One Thing, the Object of the Mystic Goal. In Western terms, the “virgin” is chaste except for God, and she passively awaits the coming of the Lord, so to speak. In the New Aeon, we understand this Divine Will to be nothing other than our own True Will, a more perfect expression of ourselves, rather than being something from “outside” of the self. We might say, “Let Thy Will, which is mine, be done.”

• “Neschamah: This is the faculty of under-standing the Word of Chiah [True Will]. It is the intelligence or intuition of what Jechidah [True Self] wishes to discover about itself.”
Little Essays Towards Truth, “Man”
• “The intuitions of the Neschamah are guaranteed by interior certainty.”
Confessions, chapter 64

3) Increased intuition: The term “intuition” means many things, but it seems to be the best word to describe this sense. Upon achieving the Stage of Illumination, the Mystic may receive many intuitive glimpses, whether through dreams, fantasy, certain thoughts, visions, et cetera. These are distinct from the normal “conscience” that Freud describes as the “super-ego,” which is essentially that little voice in your head that tells you what is right or wrong based on what you have been taught by your family, peers, and society. These intuitions – sometimes heard as voices but not necessarily – are a “voice” that represents the promptings of one’s “deeper Self,” a truer, more holistic sense of Self represented by the Holy Guardian Angel in Thelema. One may also start to see the deeper, more symbolic meanings of things, perceiving “divine truths” in the most mundane affairs; psychologically, this relates to the fact that the Mystic has opened channels to her Unconscious mind, which innately perceives the various interconnections and relations between things just as the conscious mind sees their differences. In Qabalistic terms, this is the “Neschamah” (the “spiritual intuition” or “divine intelligence”) that is attributed to Binah on the Tree of Life.

“A Man who is doing his True Will has the inertia of the Universe to assist him.”
Magick in Theory and Practice, “Introduction and Theorems”, III:9

4) Flow: Related to passivity and increased intuition, there is often a sense that life “flows” much more freely and naturally. Things seems to fall into place without much or any effort. This is the result of “unifying the Will,” specifically the harmony between conscious mind and the Unconscious. The immense inertia that is felt in the first Stage, where one is fighting against the world and one’s lower nature, seems to temporarily give way to a sense that one is flowing with the momentum of the world.

“In this Light naught exists, for It is homogeneous: and therefore have men called it Silence, and Darkness, and Nothing. But in this, as in all other effort to name it, is the root of every falsity and misapprehension, since all words imply some duality. Therefore, though I call it Light, it is not Light, nor absence of Light. Many also have sought to describe it by contradictions, since through transcendent negation of all speech it may by some natures be attained. Also by images and symbols have men striven to express it: but always in vain.”
Liber CL: De Lege Libellum

5) Light: The metaphor of this stage is almost invariably one of Light, hence the name “Illumination.” This is sometimes literally perceived by the Mystic at the moment of Illumination. It sometimes involves blinding light or an increasing light like a “Golden Dawn.” The Light may also be used by some Mystics as a metaphor for their sudden sense of clarity, of seeing beyond the normal ego-self and perceiving a much greater “presence.” Sometimes the Light is used as metaphor for the joy/bliss/rapture itself. Sometimes the Light is a metaphor for the “Creative energy” with which one feels one is infused in this Illumination or Communion (or “Knowledge and Conversation”). Nonetheless, this Light – sometimes called LVX – is virtually always present in some form or another in this second Stage of “Illumination,” whether literal or metaphorical. This “Light” is one reason among many that this stage is typically related to Solar imagery; Qabalistically, this is Tiphareth on the Tree of Life.

“I was also granted what mystics describe as ‘the Beatific Vision’ which is the most characteristic of those attributed to Tiphereth, the archetypal idea of beauty and harmony. In this vision one retains one’s normal consciousness, but every impression of daily life is as enchanting and exquisite as an ode of Keats. The incidents of life become a harmonious unity; one is lost in a rosy dream of romantic happiness. One may compare it to the effect produced by wine on some people. There is, however, no unreality in the vision. One is not blinded to the facts of existence. It is simply that the normal incoherence and discrepancy between them has been harmonized.”
Confessions, chapter 78

6) Beauty: Typically, the Mystic will perceive a certain sense of beauty in all things. This is sometimes called the Beatific Vision by Crowley. The term “Beatific Vision” originally comes from Christianity, used by people like Thomas Aquinas, and it was used to refer to the immediate knowledge of God that souls enjoy in Heaven. The Mystic naturally and effortlessly sees the Divine permeating all things in the world. This is sometimes expressed as Unity-in-Diversity, where there are distinct things seen in the world but one intuitively grasps their underlying unity in the One/Absolute/God. This is often described by Christian Mystics as Earth being “transfigured” into a new Heaven, or Heaven (or “New Jerusalem”) descending to Earth, or realizing the Kingdom of Heaven is all around. As one example, Blake describes this Beatific Vision when he writes, “To see a world in a grain of sand, / And a heaven in a wild flower, / Hold infinity in the palm of your hand, / And eternity in an hour.” Similarly, Henry Vaughan wrote, “Each bush and oak doth know I AM.” One can see that Infinity is perceived, yet “Finity” or duality remains; there is still multiplicity but there is Unity perceived therein. Mystics who remain at this stage are typically pantheists, meaning they see all things as identical with God/Absolute and themselves as part thereof. If one persists to the third Stage, one comes to identity with the Absolute itself rather than being simply a part thereof.

Because many of these by-products of Illumination are overwhelming and enrapturing, the Mystic is liable think that this is the end of the Path. It is helpful to remember that this is only the middle pylon along the Path, and that the true Unitive Life has still not been achieved. This is why Crowley calls this stage “The Next Step” and not “The Last Step.”

“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; a 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.”
One Star in Sight

Uniqueness of this Experience: It should be noted that this particular Stage is often very personal and unique, regardless of the underlying unity of various Mystics’ descriptions.

The way in which one understands or perceives the Presence of this Mystic Object depends entirely on one’s own history, make-up, development, intelligence, and understanding. One may see this as becoming the Bride of Christ, and another may see this as being pierced by a Divine sword; one may see this as a blinding Light, and another as a joyful Darkness. One may see this as an obliteration of one’s reality, and another may see this as awakening to Reality.

To set up expectations as to what Illumination (or Knowledge and Conversation) may entail is, in a sense, an impediment to being open and surrendering to what truly is. The descriptions of these Mystic states are, therefore, simply to be used as guideposts along the Path, not as absolutes to construct an intellectual system around. The sole rule in all cases is “Invoke often.”

Perfection isn’t immediate: Even if one has experienced the most blindingly exalted and ultimate version of this Illumination, one is not suddenly purged of all “bad” qualities (meaning, in the New Aeon, all aspects of oneself that are detrimental to or inhibiting of the True Will).

Although some habits may be “blasted” out of one’s system by the Illumination, some habits remain or return shortly after the experience of Illumination. There is further work to align the various aspects of oneself – body, emotions, thoughts, desires, et cetera  – under the “guidance” of this Divine Presence, of the Holy Guardian Angel.

It is typical of a Mystic at this Stage to think that she will never again see herself as separate from the Divine, that she will always be one with her True Will, that she is perfected, but the time always comes where this Illumination slowly fades away. This is a “non-abiding” union, and one inevitably “comes down” from it. The “abiding union” comes if one persists to the third Stage of the Mystic Path.

One must therefore be always vigilant to bring oneself to live more and more in this Light of Illumination, continuing the work of Purification and Consecration until All is One.

The Work: To a Mystic that has achieved this second Stage of the Path and entered through the Middle Pylon of Illumination or the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel, there is still the final “crisis” of the Path. This final Crisis is known as the Crossing of the Abyss, the dissolution of a sense of a separate self, and a successful “Crossing” means that one has attained the third Stage of the Path.

“The Self surrendered must not be less than the All-Self; one must not come before the altar of the Most High with an impure or an imperfect offering. As it is written in Liber LXV, ‘To await Thee is the end, not the beginning.'”
Liber ABA: Book 4, Part II, chapter 6: The Wand

To Cross the Abyss, one must surrender all that one has and all that one is.  In order to surrender all that one has and is, though, one must first build oneself into a Whole.

If one has not performed the Purification of all “adverse” elements from oneself and Consecrated all other elements of oneself to one’s Single Goal, the surrender will not be complete or total. The Work of the Lover, after having achieved Knowledge and Conversation, is therefore one of Equilibrium: one must build up all opposites (or “complements”) within oneself to become Whole, not being attached or obsessed by anything incomplete or partial.

• “The Adept is not a perfection of what he feels to be the noblest part of him, but a Microcosm. He [must] complete the formation of himself as an image of the All.”
Commentaries to Liber LXV, II:45-46
• “For Perfection abideth not in the Pinnacles, or in the Foundations, but in the ordered Harmony of one with all.”
Liber LXI vel Causae, line 32
• “The microcosm is an exact image of the Macrocosm; the Great Work is the raising of the whole man in perfect balance to the power of Infinity.”
Magick in Theory & Practice, chapter 0: The Magical Theory of the Universe
• “[There is] the Necessity of extending constantly thy Nature to new Mates upon every Plane of Being, so that thou mayst become the perfect Microcosm, an Image without Flaw of all that is.”
Liber Aleph, ch. 44, “De Sapientia in Re Sexuali”
• “Imagine listening to Beethoven with the prepossession that C is a good note and F a bad one; yet this is exactly the stand point from which all uninitiates contemplate the universe. Obviously, they miss the music.”
Confessions, chapter 86

This Work of achieving Equilibrium or Wholeness of the self is the idea in Magick that is understood as becoming a perfect Microcosm of the Universe (or “Macrocosm”). This means that all aspects of the self must be balanced, especially the moral and intellectual aspects of the self. If one clings to the light and ignores the darkness, one is not equilibrated; if one clings to virtues and ignores vices, one is not equilibrated; if one clings to one belief and ignores its opposite, one is not equilibrated.

This is the reason that the “Higher Self” is a misleading term: this is often taken to mean that one’s “Higher Self” includes all of one’s best and noblest qualities elevated to the highest degree. In fact, one is seeking the Whole, both upright and averse, and not simply the Highest. 

This is what is generally said by Mystics to be the necessity of having a Love of All. This “Love” is not a sentimental or romantic kind of attitude which most people mean by the term. In the broadest sense, this Love is acceptance. In the emotions, a lack of Love or acceptance shows itself in the feeling of disgust.  This is why Liber LXV instructs us to “Go thou unto the outermost places and subdue all things. Subdue thy fear and thy disgust. Then—yield!” One must fully embrace all aspects of Nature, both the Nature of the Universe and one’s own Nature. The way to destroy demons is through Love.

This is the basic work of Equilibrium so that one may become a perfect Microcosm, the “All-Self,” in order that one may fully surrender all that one has and is. This why St. Francis of Assisi visited lepers, the sight of which disgusted him. This is why Buddhists meditate in the presence of decaying corpses. This is why Aleister Crowley deliberately ate Leah Hirsig’s feces to show he was indifferent to all material differences (Yes, that really happened). In short, we must confront everything that makes us squeamish, all that brings us a sense of disgust, all that we consider Evil… and unite with it in “love under will” so that no element of the Universe is not also part of ourselves. As perfect and complete microcosms of the Cosmos, we can then truly proclaim what is said in the Gnostic Mass, “There is no part of me that is not of the gods.”

Crowley lays out the essence this practice in Liber V vel Reguli when he writes, “The Magician should devise for himself a definite technique for destroying ‘evil.’ The essence of such a practice will consist in training the mind and the body to confront things which case fear, pain, disgust, shame and the like. He must learn to endure them, then to become indifferent to them, then to analyze them until they give pleasure and instruction, and finally to appreciate them for their own sake, as aspects of Truth. When this has been done, he should abandon them, if they are really harmful in relation to health and comfort.”

The Ordeal: The Ordeal of this Grade is a crucial one, known as the Crossing of the Abyss, and it will be discussed in the next section as the prelude to the third and final Grade or Stage of the Mystic Path.

← Part 3: Mysticism in Practice – Intro & The Man of Earth ← |
Part 5: Mysticism in Practice – Crossing the Abyss & The Hermit → ]

Thelemic Mysticism

Thelemic Mysticism – part 3: Mysticism in Practice – Introduction & The Man of Earth

Thelemic Mysticism

[ ← Part 2: Mysticism in Theory ← | → Part 4: Mysticism in Practice – The Lover → ]

PART 3: MYSTICISM IN PRACTICE

Conceived as a Path, Mysticism is the Science and Art of achieving the direct experience of the ultimate spiritual truth or goal. There are many ways of conceptualizing this Path and of treading this Path. These will be explored in turn.

The Conceptualizations of the Mystic Path

The Mystic Path refers to the process of achieving the direct experience of the Mystic Goal. There are two fundamental ways of conceiving  or conceptualizing this Path:

1) The Journey: The Goal is something we do not have but must attain, obtain, or achieve. We must therefore go on a “journey” (or “pilgrimage,” “quest,” “sojourn,” et cetera) to get what we do not yet have. 

2) The Transmutation: This Goal is something we already have but are not aware of it. We must therefore undergo a process of transmuting ourselves into one who is capable of perceiving this Goal, of  “uncovering” or “discovering” it.

The labels of “The Journey” and “The Transmutation” are for convenience, though the reasons for choosing these names will become apparent. Both of these conceptions of the Path are essentially identical, although using different metaphors. Sometimes both labels are intermingled with each other in a single metaphor. In a way, they are just reflections of one another: Transmutation may be considered as a Journey inwards until the Goal is perceived, and the Journey may be considered as a series of Transmutations until the Goal is reached. The use of one metaphor over another often implies or is the result of the particular metaphysical and/or theological views of whomever is speaking, but some Mystics – including Aleister Crowley – can operate within both the “Journey” and “Transmutation” metaphors.

“Little by little, as your eyes grow stronger, will we unveil to you the ineffable glory of the Path of the Adepts, and its nameless goal… The many change and pass; the one remains. Even as wood and coal and iron burn up together in one great flame, if only that furnace be of transcendent heat; so in the alembic of this spiritual alchemy, if only the zelator blow sufficiently upon his furnace all the systems of earth are consumed in the One Knowledge. Nevertheless, as a fire cannot be started with iron alone, in the beginning one system may be suited for one seeker, another for another. We therefore who are without the chains of ignorance, look closely into the heart of the seeker and lead him by the path which is best suited to his nature unto the ultimate end of all things, the supreme realization, the Life which abideth in Light, yea, the Life which abideth in Light.”
Liber Porta Lucis, lines 14, 20-22

We should always remember “the map is not the territory.” A certain type of map may be more useful to a certain type of person over another type – for example, a map using Buddhist terminology would probably be less useful to a Christian and a map using Jewish symbolism may obscure the Path more than reveal it for a Hindu. One of the natural outgrowths of Thelema’s syncretism of various traditions is its ability to fluidly move between different “maps” without getting caught in any one particular way of thinking about the “territory” of the Mystic Path. We must remember that the Mystic Goal always was and always will be, by its very nature, ultimately ineffable; it is truly incommunicable in the language of Reason and therefore the “secret of secrets.”

The Mystic Path, because it deals largely with the practicalities of the Work, is more amenable to language but still liable to confusion because it deals with the “inner life” of the individual of which we can only speak using symbols and metaphors. The Mystic Path also is highly variable depending on the constitution of the individual and their culture, yet there is a unity in the Mystic methods of attainment that certain individuals like Crowley were able to perceive beyond the variety of language used to describe the methods. Before looking into these methods, we will look further into the different conceptualizations of the Path: the Journey and the Transmutation.

The Journey

• “I shoot up vertically like an arrow, and become that Above. But it is death, and the flame of the pyre. Ascend in the flame of the pyre, O my soul!”
Liber Liberi vel Lapidis Lazuli sub figura VII, I:37-39
• “Verily and Amen! I passed through the deep sea, and by the rivers of running water that abound therein, and I came unto the Land of No Desire.”
Liber Cordis Cincti Serpente sub figura LXV, III:1
• “…They abode in the Land that the far-off travellers call Naught.”
Liber Cordis Cincti Serpente sub figura LXV, V:59
• “…the thread wherewith I guide you to the heart of the groves of Eleusis.”
Liber Tzaddi vel Hamus Hermeticus sub figura XC, line 23
• “At the end, be the end far distant as the stars that lie in the navel of Nuit…”
Liber A’ash vel Capricorni Pneumatici sub figura CCCLXX, line 38

Included in this category are all “Journeys” from a state that is “low” or “bad” to a state that is “high” or “good,” including:

  • The Journey from the Darkness of ignorance toward the Light of Truth.
  • The Journey from the lowest sphere of Malkuth toward the highest sphere of Kether, often called “climbing the Tree of Life.” Likewise, all “emanationist” theories that involve the emanation of the One into the Many, involve the “Journey” back to the Original One, sometimes called “The Path of Return.”
  • The Journey or Climbing of “Jacob’s Ladder” from Earth to Heaven, or upward through the various “hierarchies” of the Divine (e.g. through the hierarchies of Dionysius or the “Ten Heavens” of Dante).
  • The Journey from the realm of Samsara “across the stream” toward the realm of Nirvana. 
  • The Journey from home to some sacred place – for example, John Bunyan’s “Pilgrim’s Progress” where one travels from one’s home in the “City of Destruction” to the “Celestial City,” or – alternatively – the search for the Lost Paradise such as The Garden of Eden, El Dorado, Shangri-la, or Shambhala.
  • The Journey of the Lover to find and unite with the Beloved.

All “Quests” for holy, sacred, or rare objects fall under this category of the Journey including:

  • The Quest for the Holy Grail.
  • The Quest for the Elixir of Immortality / Potion of Eternal Life / Fountain of Youth.
  • The Search for the “buried treasure,” as in Matthew 13:44, “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that a man discovered hidden in a field.”
  • The Search for the “Lost Word.”

There are several characteristics of the Path that are implied by using the metaphor of “The Journey”:

  • One begins in an un-enlightened or “un-initiated” state. In the language of Magical Orders, one’s Path begins as one of the “profane.” This often involves understanding oneself as full of ignorance, dominated by the senses and instincts, and without any knowledge of one’s true Path. The “Journey” is from this state to the “perfected” state of achieving the Mystic Goal.
  • One is now on a difficult Journey, which will be full of hardships or obstacles (the “ordeals”), and there will be great uncertainty, even regardless of the fact that many “maps” have been made of the “Path” to guide one on one’s Journey.
  • There will be several “landmarks” along the Way (the “stages” or “grades”), both marking one’s progress as well as directing one further along the Path.

The Transmutation

• “There is none that shall be cast down or lifted up: all is ever as it was.”
-Liber AL vel Legis sub figura CCXX, II:58
• “We are not to regard ourselves as base beings, without whose sphere is Light or ‘God.’ Our minds and bodies are veils of the Light within. The uninitiate is a ‘Dark Star,’ and the Great Work for him is to make his veils transparent by ‘purifying’ them.”
New Comment to Liber AL, I:8
• “The prophet cried against the mountain; come thou hither, that I may speak with thee! The mountain stirred not. Therefore went the prophet unto the mountain, and spake unto it. But the feet of the prophet were weary, and the mountain heard not his voice. But I have called unto Thee, and I have journeyed unto Thee, and it availed me not. I waited patiently, and Thou wast with me from the beginning.”
Liber Cordis Cincti Serpente sub figura LXV, II:57-60
• “Initiation means the Journey Inwards: nothing is changed or can be changed; but all is trulier understood with every step.”
Little Essays Towards Truth, “Mastery”

The “Transmutation” is a metaphor that essentially implies that we already are in possession of the “Goal” – we are already enlightened, already divine – but, because of our “imperfection” or “ignorance,” we are unaware of it. “Transmutation” therefore involves changing, perfecting, or “transmuting” the self in various ways in order that one may come to a clearer awareness thereof. All metaphors that involve altering, changing, or “perfecting” oneself are included in this category, including:

  • The Great Work of Alchemy, transmuting the “dross” of the self into “gold”
  • Progressively “seeing” one’s inherently “pure” or “perfect” nature, as when it is said in Mahayana Buddhism, “People should realize that the buddha-nature is something they have always had”
  • The process of “building the Temple of Solomon,” or – similarly – the process of working upon the crude “rough ashlar” in order to form it into the “perfect ashlar.”
  • The transmutation of the Kundalini serpent, bringing it from the lowest chakra at the base of the spine (Muladhara), all the way up the spine, to rest at the “third eye” (Ajna).
  • The “Journey to the Center” as seen in images of labyrinths and mandalas, which combines the ideas of the Journey and the Transmutation.

The metaphor of Transmutation implies several things. Primarily, Transmutation implies that we already “have” the Goal but our consciousness has not been “perfected” in order to become consciously aware of it. The “Path” is therefore a process of Transmutation that involves subjecting oneself to various processes – disciplines, purifications, et cetera – that enable this inherent Truth to become available to our conscious awareness.

Again, it should be remembered that both “The Journey” and “The Transmutation” are two sides of the same coin. As can be seen by the quotations above, both metaphors are used within Thelema even within the same text. The purpose of this section is to show the various manifestations of these two ways by which the Mystic Path is understood and to show that they are, in fact, two ways of understanding the same Path. 

The Stages or “Grades” of the Path

“Who calls us Thelemites will do no wrong, if he look but close into the word. For there are therein Three Grades, the Hermit, and the Lover, and the man of Earth. Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.”
Liber AL vel Legis sub figura CCXX, I:40

There are as many ways to conceptualize the various stages of the Mystic Path as there are Mystics. Some Mystics even use several “maps.” In the end, the Path is infinitely varied but maintains a near-identical essence in all cases. There are three fundamental stages of the Mystic Path that correspond with the Three Grades mentioned in The Book of the Law. Each stage or “Grade” is characterized by a certain “ordeal” that leads one to enter the Grade, and a certain “work” characteristic of the Grade. This loosely correspond to the beginning (ordeal) and middle (work) of the particular “Grade.” 

1) The Man of Earth: The Beginning of the Path

The first stage can be likened to the Grade of “Man of Earth.” This is the beginning of the Path where one is a “neophyte,” which literally means “newly planted.” 

“The Aspiration to become a Master is rooted in the Trance of Sorrow.”
Little Essays Toward Truth, “Sorrow”

The OrdealEveryone is drawn to the Path for the same, basic reason: Discontent.

Without some form of discontent (or “dissatisfaction” or “dis-ease”), there would never be any reason to seek or to strive for anything. Everyone begins with a discontent in some degree. Some begin with the impetus that amounts to realizing “There must be something more than this.” At the extreme, this same discontent approaches what is called “The Trance of Sorrow,” which amounts to realizing that all material things are finite, temporal, and subject to death. In Buddhist language, the First Noble Truth that “Existence is suffering” becomes overwhelmingly evident. The Path is then understood as “transcending suffering,” “transcending the temporal/finite,” or even “mastering myself and my environment.”

“It is the Trance of sorrow that has determined one to undertake the task of emancipation. This is the energising force of Law; it is the rigidity of the fact that everything is sorrow which moves one to the task, and keeps one on the Path”
Eight Lectures on Yoga, “Niyama”

Conversely, one may be drawn to the Path by the opposite or complement of discontent, which amounts to being drawn to the Path by having some kind of perception of the possibility of one’s “higher development.” One may realize that there is “something more to this” in the sense that one comes to believe that there is a possibility of life that involves greater wisdom, understanding, power, truth, beauty, and/or peace. At the extreme, this same “hope” approaches what is called “The Vision of Adonai,” becoming aware of the Mystic Goal in some way, even – in some cases – catching an experiential “glance” of what the Goal is like (sometimes called “higher states of consciousness”).

The Trance of Sorrow and the Vision of Adonai are really two sides of the same coin. If one perceives the unsatisfactoriness of all temporal things in the Trance of Sorrow, one will therefore conversely seek the possibility of a type of life that transcends these sorrows. If one perceives the joy and beauty of catching a glimpse of “Truth” (or “the Divine,” or “Reality,” et cetera), one will therefore conversely look at one’s life and see – by contrast – its finiteness, sorrow, and imperfection. These things can happen suddenly (as in a “flash”) or they can dawn gradually – each individual’s Path is unique, but each one begins with this perception of discontent or the perception of the possibility of transcendence.

The Work: The Work at this stage or “Grade” is called many names but essentially involves severe self-discipline in order to transform one’s character from the old habits – both old “vices” and old “virtues” – to a new way that is conducive to the achieving the Goal. There are generally “negative” and “positive” aspects of this that amount to clearing away the old habits (“vices,” which used to be called “sins”) that are in the way of one’s Path and building up new habits that are conducive to the Path (“virtues”). It is a stripping-away or rooting-out of the bad and a cleansing of the good (“good” and “bad” being relative terms to each individual as well as to the particular Purpose of achieving the Mystic Goal). They correspond exactly to the process of Purification and Consecration in Magick, and they may also be understood as the process of “balancing the Elements.” This Work is based on severe and persistent discipline: it is an incredibly difficult part of the Path, but we may be assured that – as with all habits – the process begins in a difficult way, becomes easier, and then becomes almost natural and effortless.

“Now then let us suppose that you have come to the Master, and that He has declared to you the Way of this attainment. What hindereth you? Alas! there is yet much Freedom afar off. Understand clearly this: that if you are sure of your Will, and sure of your means, then any thoughts or actions which are contrary to those means are contrary also to that Will. If therefore the Master should enjoin upon you a Vow of Holy Obedience, compliance is not a surrender of the Will, but a fulfilment thereof. For see, what hindereth you? It is either from without or from within, or both. It may be easy for the strong-minded seeker to put his heel upon public opinion, or to tear from his heart the objects which he loves, in a sense: but there will always remain in himself many discordant affections, as also the bond of habit, and these also must he conquer. In our holiest Book it is written: ‘Thou hast no right but to do thy will. Do that, and no other shall say nay.’ Write it also in your heart and in your brain: for this is the key of the whole matter… Search yourselves cunningly, I pray you, analysing your inmost thoughts. And first you shall discard all those gross obvious hindrances to your Will: idleness, foolish friendships, waste employments or enjoyments, I will not enumerate the conspirators against the welfare of your State.”
Liber CL: De Lege Libellum

PurificationThe self must be purged of all those parts of the self – body, senses, thoughts, emotions, and desires – that stand in opposition to the attainment of the one object of the Mystic Goal. This process has been called many things by different Mystics including “asceticism,” “detachment,” “poverty,” and “purgation.” These practices can often be harsh, but they are always used as a means to an end. All the “purifications” are a means to strip away all forms of egoism – of the sense of separateness that is the root of our discontent – to allow for the Truth (or “God” or “Reality” or “the Absolute”) to dawn in our awareness.

Why do we need Purification? We are slaves to our desires, our cravings, and our habits. We run after things including wealth, fame, and pleasure, but we are always left dissatisfied. This is because the only true satisfaction comes from the achievement of the Mystic Goal: we are assured of this by the ordeal of the Trance of Sorrow, although it can even be appreciated intellectually. Purification, then, is the process whereby we break down the habits of striving after and resting in things that are less than the Mystic Goal: Purification is renunciation. This is why the basis of Buddhist training is to release attachments from all the aspects of oneself, right down to the attachment to the sense of “self.” This is why Christ said, “Blessed are they who are poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.” This is why, in Thelema, it is repeatedly said that True Will is not one’s wishes, whims, likes, or desires – it is the strictest possible bond. This is why the process of “the stripping of self-will” of Christian mystics is virtually identical to the process of attainment in the New Aeon: we must strip away the false layers of ego-driven desires in order to perceive the True Will. 

“Thou then, who hast trials and troubles, rejoice because of them, for in them is Strength, and by their means is a pathway opened unto that Light. How should it be otherwise, O man, whose life is but a day in Eternity, a drop in the Ocean of time; how, were thy trials not many, couldst thou purge thy soul from the dross of earth? …Rejoice therefore, O Initiate, for the greater thy trial the greater thy Triumph.”
Liber Librae sub figura XXX

What are the things we are purifying? The subjects of our purifying amounts essentially to anything within oneself that says “I want” or “I have.” We must give up all those things which we claim as our own, and we must give up all those desires which are not the One Desire of achieving the Mystic Goal. Though there are many intense phrases and images used when describing this Purification, the essential fact is a change of attitude, not certain acts. That is, when we say one must renounce all one’s possessions, that means that one must release all attachment thereto, not literally give away everything that one possesses (although there may be many things that one might literally give away that are unnecessary, and the attitude in giving things away is exactly the one required for the release of attachment). Giving away things does not mean one has released attachment from them, just as putting on the robe of a Buddhist monk does not mean one is a Buddhist monk: again, it is the attitude or “way of being” that is altered. 

“Now therefore that thou mayest achieve this ritual of the Holy Graal, do thou divest thyself of all thy goods.”
Liber Cheth vel Vallum Abiegni sub figura CLVI, line 7

Therefore, the process of Purification is a process of detachment from all things. One must analyze every aspect of one’s being, searching for all attachments we have, and progressively and completely renounce them for the Quest of achieving the Mystic Goal and nothing else. Purification is, in a way, ruthless in its abandonment and it must reach all aspects of one’s being. All sensory pleasures must be renounced. All relationships must be renounced. All one’s cherished beliefs and preferences must be renounced. All one’s aspirations and desires must be renounced. The only pleasure for the Mystic is the achievement of the Mystic Goal, the only relationship is that with God, the only belief is the necessity to achieve Truth, the only aspiration is the ultimate Union with the Absolute. Each individual’s path must be different by necessity, but all bear this hallmark of Purification or “renunciation.” The study of the seven deadly sins (lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy, and pride), the yama of Yoga (non-violence, non-falsehood, non-stealing, non-lusting, non-possessiveness), the five precepts of Buddhism (abstaining from violence, stealing, sexual misconduct, false speech, and intoxicants), and other similar systems will give any earnest aspirant a good idea of what is necessarily involved in this process of Purification. The end result is a profound humility and detachment, yet the process is obviously one of the most difficult tasks that can be conceived insofar as one is changing one’s character by fighting against and releasing attachment to virtually everything that pushed and guided oneself until now. Suffering is the steam released by the fire of Purification, but the result is a humble, purified self that is ready to strive toward the next step on the Path. 

“To obtain Magical Power, learn to control thought; admit only those ideas that are in harmony with the end desired, and not every stray and contradictory Idea that presents itself. Fixed thought is a means to an end. Therefore pay attention to the power of silent thought and meditation. The material act is but the outward expression of thy thought, and therefore hath it been said that ‘the thought of foolishness is sin.’ Thought is the commencement of action, and if a chance thought can produce much effect, what cannot fixed thought do?”
Liber Librae sub figura XXX

Consecration – If Purification involves removing the “bad,” then Consecration involves strengthening the “good.” Again, this “good” is relative to each individual and relative to the particular End of achieving the Mystic Goal; Consecration is, like Purification, a means to an end. Failing to see this and, instead, perceiving the disciplines of Purification and consecration as Absolutes, is the foundation for endless superstition and dogmatism.

Purification involves disentangling ourselves from all the things which impede the achievement of our sole Object and Goal on the Path, and Consecration involves gathering together the various threads of our life in order to devote them to the achievement of this Goal. This involves the strengthening of “virtues” that are conducive to achieving the Goal. A study of the seven virtuous complements to the seven deadly sins (chastity, temperance, charity, diligence, patience, kindness, humility), the niyama of Yoga (purity, contentment, spiritual effort, study of holy texts, surrender to God), the paramitas of Buddhism (geneorsity, proper conduct, renunciation, wisdom, energy, patience, honesty, determination, kindness, calmness), or the Eightfold Path (right views, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration) will give the earnest aspirant an understanding of what this Consecration may entail for them. In Eight Lectures on Yoga, Crowley enumerates the qualities of niyama that he believes are useful including endurance, patience, selfless love, willfullness/strength, courage, energy, acceptance of all experience, equilibrium, indifference, and pure aspiration. We may also include the mysterious and terrible Four Powers of the Sphinx: to Know, to Will, to Dare, and to Keep Silence.

“Find the minimum of daily time which is in good sooth necessary to your natural life. The rest you shall devote to the True Means of your Attainment. And even these necessary hours you shall consecrate to the Great Work, saying consciously always while at these Tasks that you perform them only in order to preserve your body and mind in health for the right application to that sublime and single Object. It shall not be very long before you come to understand that such a life is the true Liberty. You will feel distractions from your Will as being what they are. They will no longer appear pleasant and attractive, but as bonds, as shames. And when you have attained this point, know that you have passed the Middle Gate of this Path. For you will have unified your Will.”
Liber CL: De Lege Libellum

In general, every aspect of one’s life must be closely and consistently knit together to have everything be devoted toward the accomplishment of the Great Work, the achievement of the Mystic Goal. All actions, words, and thoughts must be devoted to the end of this Mystic Goal.

This work of “transmuting” the various things in one’s life into the single Purpose of achieving the Mystic Goal is seen in the practice of “saying Will.” At meals we say, “What is thy Will? It is my Will to eat and drink. To what end? That I may fortify my body thereby. To what end? That I may accomplish the Great Work.” This same process of asking “To what end?” must be done for every single aspect of one’s life, and the answer must always terminate in “To accomplish the Great Work.” If you cannot see how it relates to the accomplishment of the Great Work, the achievement of the Mystic Goal, then it is probably something that must be “purified” from your life. The process of devoting all things, all actions, all speech, and all thoughts to this single End is the essence of Consecration.

Therefore, the primary virtue beyond all others and to which all others attend and aid is that of one-pointedness. The primary skill of one-pointedness is concentration. Concentration is developed through meditation.

“Thou must (1) Find out what is thy Will. (2) Do that Will with (a) one-pointedness, (b) detachment, (c) peace. Then, and then only, art thou in harmony with the Movement of Things, thy will part of, and therefore equal to, the Will of God. And since the will is but the dynamic aspect of the self, and since two different selves could not possess identical wills; then, if thy will be God’s will, Thou art That.”
Liber II: The Message of the Master Therion

Meditation involves holding a single object of concentration in mind, throwing all one’s force into being aware solely of that object, and discarding all distractions from this one object. This is the essence of the method of all Mystics, and the process of becoming more and more engrossed in the object of meditation is also the process of progressing through the stages, steps, or “Grades” of the Mystic Path. The difficulties of meditation reflect the work of one’s “Grade” and the successes reflect one’s progress on the Path. It can be seen that this particular practice of meditation is in the microcosm, so to speak, what one must do with one’s entire life in the macrocosm. At this “Grade,” one must simply strive to maintain the object of one’s meditation in mind, whether this is a mantra, an image, one’s breath, or whatever else. This corresponds to the first “stage” of meditation in Yoga known as dharana. The process is difficult: the mind will find every possible excuse to stray from the one purpose of the meditation, which is a reflection of one’s current stage of the Path as a whole. Remember why you are on this Path, the ordeal of the Trance of Sorrow. Be persistent. Be one-pointed. One will then inevitably come to the next stage of the Mystic Path.

← Part 2: Mysticism in Theory ← | → Part 4: Mysticism in Practice – The Lover → ]