Title: Liber B vel Magi sub figura I
Other Common Titles: Liber B, Liber I, The Book of the Magus
Date written: 1911
Class: Class A. This is considered a Holy Book of Thelema.
- “This is an account of the Grade of Magus, the highest grade which it is ever possible to manifest in any way whatever upon this plane. Or so it is said by the Masters of the Temple.”
—Liber 207: A Syllabus of the Official Instructions of the A∴A∴
- “Liber I vel Magi tells the Magus (here defined as the initiate charged with the duty of communicating a new truth to mankind) of what he may expect. 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…”
—Confessions, chapter 49
Liber B vel Magi is one of a few Holy Books of Thelema that pertain to particular “Grades,” which are symbolic stages of initiation along the Path of Attainment that correspond to the Sephiroth on the Tree of Life. Liber B vel Magi is attributed to the 2nd Sephirah of Chokmah, which corresponds with the Grade of Magus, sometimes written as 9°=2☐. These are the Holy Books of Thelema that clearly pertain to certain Grades and their corresponding Sephiroth:
- Chokmah (2nd Sephirah) – 9°=2☐ – Magus (‘Magician’): Liber B vel Magi sub figura I. This book describes the nature and task of the Magus.
- Binah (3rd Sephirah) – 8°=3☐ – Magister Templi (‘Master of the Temple’): Liber Liberi vel Lapidus Lazuli sub figura VII. This book describes “the Birth Words of a Master of the Temple.”
- Chesed (4th Sephirah) – 7°=4☐ – Adeptus Exemptus (‘Exempt Adept’): Liber Cheth vel Vallum Abiegni sub figura CLVI. This book describes “the task of the Exempt Adept” which is to cross the Abyss to become a Magister Templi.
- Tiphareth (6th Sephirah) – 5°=6☐ – Adeptus Minor (‘Minor Adept’): Liber Cordis Cincti Serpente sub figura LXV. This book pertains to the relations between the Adept and the Holy Guardian Angel, which is particular to the Sephirah of Tiphareth.
These are the Holy Books that clearly pertain to certain Sephiroth and their corresponding Grades. Other Holy Books correspond in various ways, such as Liber Porta Lucis sub figura X pertaining to Malkuth/Neophyte 1°=10☐ (both by number, 10, being that of Malkuth and by its content), Liber Tzaddi vel Hamus Hermeticus sub figura XC pertaining to Probationer 0°=0☐ as it is a summons to the profane to enter the Path of Initiation, and Liber A’ash vel Capricorni Pneumatici sub figura CCCLXX pertaining to Adeptus Major (‘Major Adept) 6°=5☐ as it describes Magical Force and how to use it which is proper to the Grade. There are also Holy Books that are assigned in various Grades of the system of the A∴A∴, but only those listed above are the Holy Books which clearly and unambiguously pertain to certain Grades.
Understanding Liber B vel Magi sub figura I therefore requires a basic understanding of the Grade of Magus 9°=2☐ and what it entails. Most importantly: “The essential characteristic of the Grade is that its possessor utters a Creative Magical Word, which transforms the planet on which he lives by the installation of new officers to preside over its initiation” (One Star in Sight). This “Creative Magical Word” is equivalent to the notion of the Logos, the Word of God. The Word that was uttered by To Mega Therion 666 (or by Aiwass through 666) is “Thelema,” as enshrined in The Book of the Law.
The Grade of Magus means that one not only utters this Word but becomes completely identified with it, so that the Word is an expression of one’s Being (or ‘Becoming’). It should be noted that the Grade of Magus 9°=2☐ is after that of Magister Templi 8°=3☐ whose basic characteristic is the complete dissolution of the individuality (or “ego”). This is the necessary prerequisite for the Magus completely identifying with the Word. This notion – that the Magus not only utters a Word but is that Word – is clearly shown in Liber Aleph where Crowley writes, “that these [Things of All-Truth] may be said it is necessary that One take human Flesh, and become a Magus in our Holy Order. He then is called the Logos, or Logos Aiones, that is to say, the Word of the Aeon or Age, because he is verily that Word” [emphasis added]. Crowley, writing in his diary in 1920, said “I am Thelema,” which some have interpreted to reflect Crowley’s egotism, i.e. that Thelema begins and ends with himself. What, in fact, he was saying is much clearer from the broader context of that quotation: “My Will is to be the Logos of the Aeon; I am Thelema. Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law. Beyond that, I am more helpless than the veriest quack magician.” What he is doing here is explicitly identifying himself with the Word or Logos of the Aeon, Thelema. Proclaiming “I am Thelema” is an assertion of himself as Magus whose Word is Thelema.
As somewhat of a side-note, Crowley wrote that, although there are many Magi throughout history, there is only formally one Magus for every era. According to him, this includes Lao-tze, Buddha, Muhammad, and even more mythological figures like Moses, Dionysus, Krishna, and Tahuti. That being said, he also believed that others could attain to the equivalent Grade of Magus 9°=2☐, but they will align themselves with the Word of that particular era or Aeon. He wrote, “A man can make personal progress equivalent to that of a ‘Word of an Aeon’; but he will identify himself with the current word, and exert his will to establish it, lest he conflict with the work of the Magus who uttered the Word of the Aeon in which He is living” (One Star in Sight).
In the system of Thelema, there is a constant association between the symbols of the Magus, Chokmah (‘Wisdom’), the Word or Logos, and Creation which are useful to keep in mind to understand this text. With these ideas in mind, we can continue investigating the text. If you are interested in understanding more about the Grade, I strongly recommend reading One Star in Sight as well as the pertinent chapters from Liber Aleph. The focus here is specifically on the text of Liber I.
“Liber B vel Magi sub figura I”
It is usually called “Liber I” or “Liber Magi” by Crowley.
Translation: Book B or Book of the Magus of the number 1
B: B is English transliteration of the Hebrew letter “Beth,” which is the first letter of the Bible (“Berashith,” which means “In the beginning…”). It therefore refers to the act of Creation and is therefore proper to the Magus who utters the Creative Word/Logos. The letter Beth is also attributed to “Atu I: The Magus” in the Tarot, which shows this connection even stronger.
Magi: Magi refers to “Magician” or “Magus.” As previously noted, “Atu I” in the Tarot is “The Magus.” This Magus is both the Magus who has attained to the Grade 9°=2☐ as well as to the “Great Magician” which is He that created the world of illusion or maya. This symbol is spoken to in Liber AL, “I am the Magician and the Exorcist” (II:7), which Crowley comments upon saying, “Hadit is both the Maker of Illusion [Magician] and its destroyer [Exorcist].” In this way, the individual Magus 9°=2☐ as well as the “Great Magician” who creates the illusion of the world are actually identified in many ways: they are both the utterers of the creative Logos and they both create illusion, a theme that recurs repeatedly within the text of Liber I itself.
I: The number of this book is “1,” which is the number of The Magus in the Tarot (Atu I). As can be seen, a study of Atu I: The Magus will also yield a greater understanding of this Holy Book as they reflect the same basic idea. It can also be noted that the number “1”, being a line, is Phallic (like the Wand), which is another way to say “pertains to the Power of Creation,” further reinforcing the connection between the Magus and the Creative Word.
This Holy Book technically has 23 lines, except one is numbered “00” and another is numbered “0,” so it runs from line 00 to line 21. As with most texts that have “21” lines and however many forms of “0” preceding them, it is an association with the 22 Trumps of the Tarot (which are also numbered from 0 to 21). The Tarot itself is called the Book of Thoth, who is the Egyptian equivalent of Mercury. Mercury is attributed to Atu I: The Magus in the Tarot specifically, and therefore generally stands as a symbol of the Magician. 22 is also the number of Hebrew Letters and the Paths on the Tree of Life (both of which are attributed to the 22 Trumps of the Tarot), so the number also suggests completion or totality. Crowley connects these and other previously mentioned symbols when he writes, “B… is Beth the letter of Mercury, the Magus of the Tarot, who has four weapons, and it must be remembered that this card is numbered 1, again connecting all these symbols with the Phallus.” This all being considered, the lines of Liber I do not appear to correspond to the Trumps of the Tarot line by line, but the number of lines can be seen to be a general nod to the Magus being the symbolic source of the Tarot.
What follows is a much more extensive commentary on Liber I, going line by line. I certainly do not claim the Grade of Magus, and therefore could not possibly claim to have the Wisdom to fully Understand this text. Nonetheless, I will give my best effort to elucidate many parts of the text which are less ambiguous, and – as the reader – you must always keep in mind that these are my opinions. They are not intended to be taken as truth (especially for a text which explicitly deals with the difficulty of conveying truth!) but rather as aids to allow your own understanding and appreciation of the Holy Book to hopefully deepen and grow.
00. One is the Magus; twain His forces; four His weapons. These are the Seven Spirits of Unrighteousness; seven vultures of evil. Thus is the art and craft of the Magus but glamour. How shall He destroy Himself?
“One is the Magus”: The Magus is attributed to Atu I in the Tarot, the “first” card after Atu 0: The Fool, which is numbered “0” and therefore pertains to the Unmanifest, whereas the Magus pertains to the Beginning, or Creation. This also refers to the fact that the nature of the Magus is Single, completely unified. This is expressed by the single Word with which he is completely identified.
“twain His forces”: The Magus is One, and his forces are Two. This refers primarily to duality itself, and all forms thereof, including the yin-yang of Taoists, the sol and luna of Alchemists, and the lingam-yoni of Hindus. It is also reflective of the fact that Speech (or the “Word”) is always dualistic, for no manifestation can ever fully encompass the One as all things are counterbalanced by their opposites. Further, words are tied to the symbolism of vibration since the throat vibrates when it speaks, and vibrations are composed of the dualities of crests and troughs; if there are no crests or troughs, there is Silence.
In particular, the Hindu notion of lingam-yoni recurs throughout this text and is important to the symbolism of the Magus. The lingam-yoni is, to be very simplistic, a symbol of the conjunction of lingam, the masculine Creative energy, and the yoni, the feminine Conceptive energy; they can be likened to Force and Form, which – together – are the source of all creation. It is notable that the Magus is not simply the lingam, as some may suppose, but the lingam and the yoni conjoined This is seen in the Caduceus, the weapon of Mercury, where along the central Phallic shaft are entwined two opposing but complementary forces, here symbolically equivalent to lingam and yoni. This idea that the Magus is connected to the lingam-yoni is reinforced in several places. Firstly, Crowley wrote a very, very scant commentary on Liber I wherein he says, “He preaches Lingam-Yoni.” If that isn’t clear enough, there is another Holy Book, often called Liber Arcanorum or Liber 231, which gives sigils of the 22 Hebrew letters/Tarot Trumps in both their “upright” (balanced) and “averse” (unbalanced) forms. That of Beth, the letter attributed to Atu I: The Magus and Mercury, is composed of a central column that pierces a Crown (symbolic of Kether, which literally means “crown”) and which is flanked by a lingam on one side and a vesica, a common symbolic shape of the yoni, on the other side.
“four His weapons”: His weapons are the four classical Elements of Fire, Water, Air, and Earth and their corresponding “magical weapons” of the wand, cup, sword/dagger, and coin/disk. The four Elemental weapons appear in virtually every depiction of Atu I: The Magus. Consider how, in the Rider-Waite depiction thereof, the Magus grasps a double-sided wand (lingam-yoni), and has the four Elemental weapons on his altar, symbolic of his Will. The Elemental magical weapons are directly referenced in lines 7 through 10 of this text. One might then construe the first line as saying, essentially, the Magus is One, and he creates a Universe out of the two principle forces of lingam and yoni (or yang and yin, if you prefer) and the four principles forms of Fire, Water, Air, and Earth. And the interplay of these forces and forms “weave the dance of the Veil of Life upon the Face of the Spirit” (Liber XV).
“These are the Seven Spirits of Unrighteousness; seven vultures of evil”: This sentence begins with “These are,” referring to what has come previously: the One Magus, the Two forces, and the Four weapons together add to seven. These together may be taken to be those things which allow for manifestation and therefore maya, or “Illusion.” This accounts for why they pertain to “Unrighteousness” are called “seven vultures of evil,” with “evil” here being interpreted as duality, the basic principle underlying the maya or illusion of the universe. Crowley notes in The Vision & the Voice, “Atu I. This is Mayan, the Great Magician, he who has created the Dyad (ב = 2 [Beth]) and thus made possible the conception of Opposition, and hence of ‘Evil’.” This is the first inkling of a major theme of Liber I which may be called “The Curse of the Magus,” which can be summarized by saying that the Magus must speak a Word even though all Words are false insofar as they are dualistic and deviations from the primal Silence. It is also notable that Crowley writes in The Book of Lies, “In Her [Babalon’s] wine-cup are seven streams of the blood of the Seven Spirits of God,” and the Cup of Babalon is that which creates and dissolves all forms.
This line is also a reference to symbolism that occurs in the Book of Revelation where there are “seven Spirits of God” (Revelation 3:1), which stand “before [the] Throne” of “him which is, and which was, and which is to come” (Revelation 1:4). These seven Spirits of God are identified with “seven lamps of fire burning before the throne” as well as with the slain “Lamb” (Christ as Logos or Magus) “having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth” (Revelation 5:6). Calling them the “Seven Spirits of Unrighteousness” inverts this symbolism (like many Thelemic symbols such as Babalon and the Beast who also originate from Revelation), showing them as essentially “evil” insofar as they perpetuate the illusion of duality or multiplicity of what we take to be the world. These are the “seven vultures of evil” for vultures tear the unity of the Magus apart so that the multiplicity of the world may manifest.
“Thus is the art and craft of the Magus but glamour. How shall He destroy Himself?: “The art and craft of the Magus” is the uttering of the Word, which is symbolically identical with the creation of a new Universe. It is because the Magus is One, and the “vultures” tear Him apart to create the Universe, that the Universe is simply a reflection of the Magus Himself. Another way to say this is that the multiplicity of the world is the body of God. Because the world is understood to be the Magus torn apart into multiplicity, the creation of that universe is “but glamour” because it is simply a reflection of Himself. In uttering the Word, “He destroy[s] Himself” and these “Seven Spirits” are “sent forth into all the earth” (Revelation 5:6) to form a world. Putting the final sentence in the form of a rhetorical question implies that there are infinite possible Words, and by any one of them the Magus may “destroy Himself” to create a Universe.
This parallels the Hindu “creation myth” from the Rig Veda where the universe is formed from the body parts of Purusha (“…The Moon was gendered from his mind, and from his eye the Sun had birth; Indra and Agni from his mouth were born, and Vayu from his breath…”), who is considered the primordial Being (akin to Adam Kadmon of the Qabalists in this way). It is also similar to the Norse “creation myth” where the world was formed out of the body parts of Ymir (“Out of Ymir’s flesh was fashioned the earth, and the mountains were made of his bones; The sky from the frost cold giant’s skull, and the ocean out of his blood.”) These are just two examples of a general principle that the Primordial Being splitting himself up in a “sacrifice” of sorts in order to create a universe has symbolic and mythological precedence. It may be noted that there is already a Thelemic “creation myth” in Liber AL, I:28-30, where Nuit divides herself for love’s sake, or makes “0” into “2”. There are many overlapping and non-overlapping symbol-sets in Thelema, and this is just one example of two different sets of symbolism addressing a similar idea of Creation. There are even further examples, for those who are interested, in the Bornless Invocation of Liber Samekh, as well as The Book of Lies, chapters 0 and 11. The real point is that we must perceive the various symbol-sets, understanding their import and various ways of symbolically explicating ideas, while not becoming trapped in the dogmatism of insisting one or the other is “correct.” They are both correct in their own ways, and each has subtly different messages. To oversimplify, the “creation myth” of Liber AL emphasizes that the reason for duality is for love, the “chance of union”, whereas the “creation myth” of Liber I emphasizes the essential falsity or “illusion” of all duality and multiplicity.
0. Yet the Magus hath power upon the Mother both directly and through Love. And the Magus is Love, and bindeth together That and This in his conjuration.
What appear to be vague references in this line (e.g. “Mother” and “Love”) are actually quite precise, but they require some basic knowledge of the Supernal Triad of the Qabalistic Tree of Life to interpret.
“Yet the Magus hath power upon the Mother…”: The Magus is here both the Path of Beth, attributed to Atu I: The Magus, as well as the Sephirah of Chokmah, that of Wisdom and the Logos. “The Mother” is the Sephirah of Binah, which is attributed to all Great Mother archetypes including Babalon.
“both directly and through Love”: The Magus connects with Binah “directly” as the Path of Beth, which connects Kether (the 1st Sephirah) with Binah (the 3rd Sephirah). The Magus also connects with Binah “through Love”; “Love” is another name for Venus, which is attributed to the Path of Daleth, which connects Chokmah (The Magus as the 2nd Sephirah) with Binah (the 3rd Sephirah). In The Heart of the Master, under a section corresponding to the letter Daleth (Love), “This is the Harmony of the Universe, that Love unites the Will to create with the Understanding of that Creation: understand thou thine own Will!”
The reference to the Mother can be explained by the doctrine that Binah is the Supernal Mother who gives birth to all things, i.e. allows for the Creation of the world (or, in different terms, the uttering of the Word). It is by the Mother that the “seven vultures of evil” may work their “Unrighteousness” and allow for the maya of multiplicity that we take to be our universe. The line therefore asserts that the Magus “hath power upon the Mother,” and can therefore triumph over her, both “directly and through Love.” Directly, the Magus issues from Kether, the undivided One, which has power over the Many. The Magus also has power over the Many “through Love,” or the power to unite opposites.
“And the Magus is Love, and bindeth together That and This in His conjuration”: The nature of the Magus is Love, the uniting of opposites, for the Law also states “Love is the law, love under will” (AL, I:57). The nature of Love is Union, and this Union is between “That and This.” “That and This” can be taken to refer to duality itself, for a “This” has no meaning except when distinct from and contrasted with a “That.” “That and This” are also references to lingam and yoni, which parallel Chokmah and Binah on the Tree of Life which are united in Kether, the single, undivided One.
1. In the beginning doth the Magus speak Truth, and send forth Illusion and Falsehood to enslave the soul. Yet therein is the Mystery of Redemption.
This and the next 9 lines proceeding all are attributable to the Sephiroth from Kether to Malkuth. The very nature of “going down” the Tree represents the act of Creation, like the Flaming Sword which issues from Kether at the moment of Creation and, in an instant, descends through the Sephiroth down to Malkuth.
“In the beginning…”: The phrase “In the beginning” is proper to this line, being numbered “1” and being attributable to Kether. It also mirrors the first line of the Bible, Genesis 1:1, which states, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” It, too, deals with the Creation of the Universe. More to the point, it also parallels the beginning of the Gospel of John which starts with these words, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made” (John 1:1-3). In Liber I, the Magus is identical with the Word, and it is the Logos of God (to use Judeo-Christian terminology). Christians see this line as identifying the Word or Logos with Christ, who – in this function – is identical with the Magus.
“…doth the Magus speak Truth”: The Magus utters His Word “in the beginning,” for the uttering of the Word is itself the beginning, the creation of a new universe. The Word is itself “Truth,” being the Logos, an expression of the Supernal Triad.
“and send forth Illusion and Falsehood to enslave the soul.”: This is essentially the Curse of the Magus: His Word of Truth is uttered, but its effect is to send forth Illusion and Falsehood. In one sense, if the Word is understood to be the act of Creation itself, then the Word begets the multiplicity of the Universe and therefore the “Illusion” of separateness that is maya, the “Falsehood” of duality. In another sense, “on a lower plane” so to speak, the Word of any particular Magus is bound to be misinterpreted by the “children of earth” who receive the Word, and it will become confused and even used to enslave others. A look at most of the last few millenia’s history will show how this happens repeatedly.
“Yet therein is the Mystery of Redemption”: Within the Word which enslaves the soul is also the possibility of redeeming that soul. The “Redemption” here is not a redemption from sin in the sense typically understood by Christians, but it is “redemption” from the condition of duality. It is a redemption of the soul so that it may see Truth, the Unity beyond all particular forms and multiplicity. This is paralleled by the notion that “0” begets “2”, the duality of the world, but it is by the duality of the world that we may “return” to 0 by the union of opposites, the Great Work. The very thing that “enslaves the soul” to duality is the means by which it may overcome that enslavement. This is paralleled by a certain Christian doctrine that Adam fell so that Christ could redeem (although, again, the Thelemic doctrine does without the typical notion of sin). The early Church Father Irenaeus once said, “The Word of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, who did, through His transcendent love, become what we are, that He might bring us to be even what He is Himself.” Similarly, another early Church Father Clement of Alexandria said, “The Word of God became man, that thou mayest learn from man how man may become God.” This Redemption is not one of the expiation of sins, but of the re-uniting of what is separate, the union of lingam and yoni which were symbolically separated with the Creation of the world.
2. By His Wisdom made He the Worlds; the Word that is God is none other than He.
This line is essentially a version of John 1:3, quoted earlier, which reads, “All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.” Being line 2, it corresponds to Chokmah, the 2nd Sephirah of the Tree of Life, which literally means “Wisdom.”
“By His Wisdom made He the Worlds”: Wisdom refers to Chokmah, the 2nd Sephirah on the Tree of Life, which is identified with the Logos and the Magus as mentioned previously. By this power, He created multiplicity, “the Worlds”.
“the Word that is God is none other than He”: A reinforcement that the Magus is the Word, the Logos, which is God Himself. Crowley notes simply, “He is the LOGOS.” It is notable that “LOGOS” without the vowels is “LGS,” the same consonants as “Legis,” which means Law. The Word, or Logos, is the Law that the Magus gives to mankind. Further, their common root, “LGS”, enumerates to 93 (L = 30; G = 3; S = 60), which is that of Thelema, the particular Word (or “Law”) uttered by To Mega Therion.
3. How then shall He end His speech with Silence? For He is Speech.
Being line 3, it corresponds to Binah, the 3rd Sephirah on the Tree of Life. It is commonly associated with the Mother as well as Silence.
“How then shall He end His speech with Silence?”: This is a rhetorical question to which the answer is “he won’t end His speech.”
“For He is Speech”: The Magus is Chokmah, which is attributed to Speech. Binah is attributed to Silence. The Magus is Speech itself, he is the Word from which all words derive. The original Word being uttered is like the Big Bang, containing all the “Infinite Space and Infinite Stars” of the cosmos within Itself.
4. He is the first and the last. How shall He cease to number Himself?
Being line 4, it corresponds to Chesed, the 4th Sephirah on the Tree of Life. Nonetheless, both this line and the one following appear to slightly deviate from the Sephirothic scheme and more likely are continuing the ideas from before.
“He is the first and the last”: In the Book of Revelation, Christ appears as the Logos in the first chapter and he proclaims, “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.” Alpha is the first letter of the Greek language and Omega is the final letter, so he is essentially saying “I am the first and the last.” The Magus is here identifying himself with the First and the Last in the exact same way. Crowley notes that, in Hebrew, “the first and the last” is Aleph and Tav, which enumerates to 401. This symbol will recur in line 13 with further elucidation.
“How shall He cease to number Himself?”: Again, another rhetorical question for which the answer is the same: he won’t cease to number Himself. Since he is both the first and the last, he contains all numbers within Himself. All numbers are simply particular expressions of his One Word.
5. By a Magus is this writing made known through the mind of a Magister. The one uttereth clearly, and the other understandeth; yet the Word is falsehood, and the Understanding darkness. And this saying is Of All Truth.
“By a Magus is this writing made known through the mind of a Magister”: This “writing” is simply another form of saying the Word. This is reinforced by the use of the verb “uttereth” in the next sentence instead of, for example, “writeth”. The ideas are essentially equivalent. It is significant in this regard that the Magus appears in the Thoth Tarot bearing not only the four Elemental weapons but also a pen and paper. Crowley writes, “The other form of Thoth [the Egyptian form of the Magus] represents him primarily as Wisdom and the Word. He bears in his right hand the Style, in his left the Papyrus” (The Book of Thoth).
Qabalistically, the “Wisdom” of Chokmah – the primordial Force or Word – is transmitted through Binah who acts as a receptacle of that Word. This is the essential symbolism at play when he writes that the Magus (Chokmah) makes his writing (the Word) known through the mind of a Magister (Binah). This does not necessarily mean they are two people, but rather one person in two different functions.
“The one uttereth clearly, and the other understandeth”: The function of the Magus is to utter and the function of a Magister is to understand. Binah, the Sephirah to which the Magister is attributed, is often translated as “Understanding.”
“yet the Word is falsehood, and the Understanding darkness.”: Crowley comments most extensively on this line specifically. He writes, “All is Maya [the illusion of the Magus]. Even above the Abyss [as are Binah and Chokmah], the Triad is only perfect insofar as it is bound in One [Kether]. Separately, Chokmah and Binah are partial. They need Kether.” This is to say that, without being “bound in One” or united with Kether, the Word is “falsehood” and the “Understanding darkness” regardless of how much of an attainment the Grades of Magus and Magister represent. Only in Kether is the “curse” finally uplifted, where one finally attains to that which is beyond all duality, all vibration (the Word), and separateness.
“And this saying is Of All Truth”: This line is ambiguous in that it can be interpreted several ways. First, it could mean that the doctrine of this line is “All Truth,” meaning that it must be true as all things are falsehood and darkness until they reach to Kether, the One. Second, it could mean that this doctrine about the falsehood of the Word and the darkness of Understanding pertains to all truths in the world.
Third, there could be yet another meaning, concealed in the words themselves. The strange capitalization is a tip-off that there might be more to investigate than initially meets the eye. The capital letters are “O.A.T.” which is TAO spelled backwards, perhaps indicating the reversal or falsification of the Truth which is the Tao (which can be understood either to be identical with Kether or even the Negative Veils, the 0, which “precedes” the Tree entirely). Also, if the “O” is taken to be a Vav (as it often is with Crowley), it would be TAV spelled backwards, perhaps indicating the Path from Tav back to Aleph, one symbolic way to explain “climbing the Tree” in the Path of Attainment to return to Kether, the One. There are likely further interpretations as well.
6. Nevertheless it is written; for there be times of darkness, and this as a lamp therein.
“Nevertheless it is written;”: It is still written because the Word of the Magus may serve to illumine those who are still walking in the darkness of ignorance. It also might be said that it is the purpose or function of a Magus to speak, so regardless of whatever “curse” of falsehood there may be, He must Speak for it is His nature.
“for there be times of darkness, and this as a lamp therein”: This refers to the doctrine that a Magus appears in times of spiritual darkness upon Earth to bring a “new world” by issuing a new Word. A similar (or, really, the same) doctrine is held by certain Hindus who believe that Vishnu sends an avatar to the world when a redress of imbalance is needed.
This line begins a series that continues through the tenth line where each line corresponds to a Sephirah bearing the same number of the line and therefore its particular Elemental weapon. The attributions of these weapons to the Sephiroth comes from the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn and is upheld in the A∴A∴ (see, for example, Liber A vel Armorum). In this understanding, the four “lowest” Sephiroth represent the four Elements – Malkuth is Earth, Yesod is Air, Hod is Water, and Netzach is Fire – and Tipahreth represents Spirit. This is the 6th line, so it corresponds to the 6th Sephirah, Tiphareth. This refers to the “Quintessence” (which literally means “fifth essence”), the “fifth” Element of Spirit (or “Akasha” or “Aether” or many other names). The weapon of Spirit is the lamp, which gives Light. Note that it is not technically a “weapon” like the four Elemental weapons; as Crowley notes in 777, “The Lamp is not a weapon; it is a light shining from above which illuminates the whole work.” In terms of the Sephiroth (rather than the Elements), the lamp is a reflection of Kether (the One) in Tiphareth.
7. With the Wand createth He.
This is line 7 and therefore corresponds to Netzach, the 7th Sephirah of the Tree of Life.
“With the Wand createth He”: Netzach here pertains to the Element of Fire and its corresponding magical weapon of the Wand. The power of the Wand is that of creation. In the Hindu trimurti of Brahma-Vishnu-Shiva, the Wand here corresponds to Brahma, the creator.
8. With the Cup preserveth He.
This is line 8 and therefore corresponds to Hod, the 8th Sephirah of the Tree of Life.
“With the Cup preserveth He”: Hod here pertains to the Element of Water and its corresponding magical weapon of the Cup. The power of the Cup is that of preservation. In the Hindu trimurti of Brahma-Vishnu-Shiva, the Cup here corresponds to Vishnu, the preserver.
9. With the Dagger destroyeth He.
This is line 9 and therefore corresponds to Yesod, the 9th Sephirah of the Tree of Life.
“With the Dagger destroyeth He”: Yesod here pertains to the Element of Air and its corresponding magical weapon of the Dagger. The power of the Dagger is that of destruction. In the Hindu trimurti of Brahma-Vishnu-Shiva, the Dagger here corresponds to Shiva, the destroyer. The three primary Elements of Fire/Wand-Water/Cup-Air/Dagger therefore form the trinity of Creation-Preservation-Destruction. Crowley corresponds these to the three letters of AUM: A is the breath of Creation, U is the constricted sound of Preservation, and M is the sound of death, silence, and Destruction.
10. With the Coin redeemeth He.
This is line 10 and therefore corresponds to Malkuth, the 10th Sephirah of the Tree of Life.
“With the Coin redeemeth He”: Malkuth here pertains to the Element of Earth and its corresponding magical weapon of the Coin. The power of the Coin is that of redemption. This is not the same redemption as that mentioned in line 1, which was capitalized (“Redemption”) to distinguish; it is Redemption from the entire “cycle” of Creation-Preservation-Destruction which only can be true “below the Abyss” where there is multiplicity. In contrast, the present line is a “lesser” redemption. Whereas the one from line 1 refers to the Redemption from duality itself, the redemption of the Coin is that of “resurrection” from death or destruction to continue the cycle of Creation-Preservation-Destruction. This same doctrine is found in the Tarot, where the 10 of Disks – the final card of the “small cards” – represents both the completion of an entire process as well as its beginning. Crowley notes, “This card [10 of Disks] is in fact a hieroglyph of the cycle of regeneration” (Book of Thoth).
11. His weapons fulfil the wheel; and on What Axle that turneth is not known unto Him.
“His weapons fulfil the wheel”: The “wheel” is that of Existence or Samsara. As Crowley writes in The Book of Lies, “The Great Wheel of Samsara. The Wheel of the Law [Dhamma]. The Wheel of the Taro. The Wheel of the Heavens. The Wheel of Life. All these Wheels be one…” The weapons “fulfil the wheel,” meaning they cause it to turn, which is another way to say that Existence is fueled by them. It is the Cycle of Incarnation: Birth-Life-Death-Resurrection, which is dramatized in the Freemasonic I°-III° ceremonies, or Blue Lodge degrees, as well as those of many similar Orders. “Resurrection” here means both (a) the literal continuity of Life through the generations, and (b) the symbolic “rebirth” of a different or new sense of self. The weapons continually perpetuate this cycle of Incarnation.
The weapons all pertain to the realm of multiplicity, or illusion, insofar as they can only keep turning the wheel; they can never stop it or find the motionless point in the center. A form of this wheel – similar but not exact, as it has the three gunas around the rim of the wheel rather than the Elements – can be seen in Atu X: Fortune. The entire Rite of Jupiter dramatizes the attempt to “get to the centre of the Wheel,” the motionless axle. A vision pertaining to the Wheel also occurs in the 4th Aethyr of The Vision and the Voice for those who would like to study the symbolism even further.
“and on What Axle that turneth is not known unto Him”: The “axle” represents the motionless point amidst the weapons on the rim that are ceaselessly in motion. It is the point in the center, which is not subject to the multiplicity of the world yet which is also its source. It is “not known unto Him” because it is beyond knowledge, for knowledge is always dualistic, requiring a knower and a thing known – a subject and object – whereas the Axle represents That which is beyond all dualities, all multiplicities. It is, in a sense, the Magus Himself, the One Word.
12. From all these actions must He cease before the curse of His Grade is uplifted from Him. Before He attain to That which existeth without Form.
“From all these actions must He cease”: “These actions” refer to those things represented by the four Elemental weapons: Creation, Preservation, Destruction, and Redemption. To cease from them is to establish oneself outside the Wheel of Form, outside the cycle of impermanence to which all conditioned phenomena are necessarily bound. Symbolically, it is the withdrawing from the four Elements into Spirit.
“before the curse of His Grade is uplifted from Him.”: For one who is of the Grade of Magus, he must withdraw from all forms before he may pass on to the next Grade, that of Ipsissimus which is attributed to Kether, the 1st Sephirah on the Tree of Life. The curse of His Grade is only uplifted upon fulfilling the Task of the Magus, which is to utter a Word to mankind.
“Before He attain to That which existeth without Form”: “That which existeth without Form” is Kether, the undivided One, which is beyond all forms represented by the cycle of Creation-Preservation-Destruction-Redemption. Basically, the Magus must withdraw from all identification with the world of Form before the curse of His Grade is uplifted and He can move on to the next Grade. This, as we will see in the next lines, does not mean the Magus is completely action-less, but that He must focus his entire Being on His Task, which is the utterance and embodiment of the Word. This requires something that might be called “indifference” to those things which are represented by the four Elements. While the Magus must withdraw his identification with the four Elements, he must Speak, which can be seen symbolically as Spirit issuing to the four Elements while remaining essentially “untouched” by them.
13. And if at this time He be manifested upon earth as a Man, and therefore is this present writing, let this be His method, that the curse of His grade, and the burden of His attainment, be uplifted from Him.
This line is essentially speaking to anyone who is currently Incarnated into a “Tabernacle of Illusion” (Liber Aleph) of a mind and body, and who has attained the Grade of Magus. “This” must be “His method,” which refers to the cessation from the actions represented by the four Elemental weapons. This leads into the next line which serves as a “correction” to thinking that cessation from those actions represents a complete abstinence from action.
Crowley notes that Aleph-Tav (transliterated as “ATh”) – the “first and last” (from line 4) letters of Hebrew, which is also sometimes translated by Qabalists as “Essence” – has the same enumeration as the word for “cursing”, Aleph-Resh-Resh (transliterated as “ARR”): 401. There is therefore a identity between the Word (or “Essence”) of the Magus and the curse. Crowley further notes that “He must put [Mem] into [Aleph-Tav] to get [Aleph-Mem-Tav]. ([Mem] = Silence).” The “Silence” referred to here is the Silence of Hoor-paar-kraat, the Babe in the Egg, who identifies with the Egg of Spirit that transcends the four Elements: “This is of the 4: there is a fifth who is invisible, & therein am I as a babe in an egg” (AL, II:49). This is therefore a symbolic way to say “From all these actions he must cease”: the Magus must enter the Silence of Spirit, apart from the cycle of the Elements. When we add Mem to Aleph-Tav, we get the word Aleph-Mem-Tav (transliterated as AMTh), which is the Hebrew word for “Truth.” This “Truth” is the Word of the Magus, the uttering of which – as we will see in the next line – is the sole duty of the Magus. Interestingly, as a side note, the Greek “first and last” is Alpha and Omega, which enumerate to 801. If we instead take Iota (the Yod of Hebrew) to represent Silence (as it is attributed to Atu IX: The Hermit and Virgo, the Virgin), we get 811, the enumeration of IAO.
14. Let Him beware of abstinence from action. For the curse of His grade is that He must speak Truth, that the Falsehood thereof may enslave the souls of men. Let him then utter that without Fear, that the Law may be fulfilled. And according to His Original Nature will that law be shapen, so that one may declare gentleness and quietness, being an Hindu; and another fierceness and servility, being a Jew; and yet another ardour and manliness, being an Arab. Yet this matter toucheth the mystery of Incarnation, and is not here to be declared.
“Let Him beware of abstinence from action.”: This, at first glance, seems to completely contradict line 12 which states, “From all these actions must He cease.” Nonetheless, “these actions” from line 12 refers to those actions represented by the four Elemental weapons, Creation-Preservation-Destruction-Redemption, which are subject to the Wheel of Samsara, so to speak. Yet there is still an action of the nature of Spirit (as opposed to the four Elements) that is peculiar to the Degree of Magus, explained in the next sentence.
“For the curse of His grade is that He must speak Truth, that the Falsehood thereof may enslave the souls of men.”: The Magus must “speak Truth.” That is the function of a Magus, the proclamation of Truth in a Word. We have already encountered the idea that this Truth is turned to Falsehood and Illusion by the nature of duality. It is worth remembering that, while this is the case, it is also the case that the Word is the means whereby the Mystery of Redemption may be enacted. That is, it is by the Word which confuses and enslaves that we also reach to the Truth, to the identification with our own Divine Nature: That which is united with the Infinite, the One beyond all particular manifestations, our Star.
“Let him then utter that without Fear, that the Law may be fulfilled.” : Since the Magus must proclaim a Word, there is no need to have any Fear. Though there may be disaster, though the people unto whom the Word is proclaimed may hate and attack the Magus, he must fulfill his function. Crowley notes, “The business of the Adept is to do his Work manfully and joyously, without lust of result or fear of accident” (Commentary to Liber LXV). For the Magus, this “Work” is the proclamation of the Word, and there is always misunderstanding and resistance as is evidenced by the life of many, many Adepts throughout history. The lives of Christ, Al-Hallaj, and Jacques de Molay are simply some of the most well-known “martyrs”, meaning they proclaimed their Truths even though it eventually cost each of them their lives. As it is said in Liber Librae, “Is it but now that the Higher Life is beset with dangers and difficulties; hath it not ever been so with the Sages and Hierophants of the past? They have been persecuted and reviled, they have been tormented of men; yet through this also has their Glory increased.”
“And according to His Original Nature will that law be shapen”: Each Word from a Magus is different, and is in accordance with “His Original Nature.” The line then goes on to list various qualities, essentially arbitrary, pertaining to the Hindu, the Jew, and the Arab. Crowley notes that these refer to Buddha (Hindu, in the sense of an Indian rather than the religion specifically), Jesus (Jew), and Mohammed (Arab). The use of race here is not necessarily the determining factor of one’s “Original Nature”, but it is used as an illustrative symbol. Each Magus speaks from the “same place,” insofar as they are – to use Qabalistic language – united with the Logos in Chokmah. At this level, all Words are the same, but the Word is always spoken by a particular individual within a certain context of space and time. The Word must necessarily reflect the needs of the place and time, it must pertain to the “zeitgeist” of those to whom the Word is proclaimed. This is why the line continues and says, “This matter toucheth the Mystery of Incarnation,” referring to the embodiment of a God into human form – into a mind and body – which allows for each Star’s participation in the world. The One Word is reflected through the Nature of the Magus based on his particular context in space and time. This “context” is not limited to whatever particular race or culture the individual is born into, although it is generally – or at least symbolically – representative. Consider how the Word of Christ is meaningful in the context of Judaism as a new covenant with God, and the Word of Buddha is meaningful in the context of Hinduism where the abolition of the caste system would be considered radical (and would be somewhat meaningless in a Jewish or Muslim context, for example).
15. Now the grade of a Magister teacheth the Mystery of Sorrow, and the grade of a Magus the Mystery of Change, and the grade of Ipsissimus the Mystery of Selflessness, which is called also the Mystery of Pan.
Crowley comments on this line, “From this point the subject changes. All this meditation [referring to this and the subsequent lines of this text] is the second part of His task, after He has the first part [described in lines 12-14] well started. One may call them the external and internal parts of His work.” The “external work” of the Magus is therefore proclaiming His Word to mankind, and now we will examine the “internal work” of the Magus.
This line refers to the “Mysteries” of the three Grades pertaining to the Supernal Triad: Magister Templi 8°=3☐ (Binah), Magus 9°=2☐ (Chokmah), and Ipsissimus 10°=1☐ (Kether). They are reflective of what are called the Three Characteristics in Buddhism. These Three Characteristics pertain to all phenomena in the Universe: sorrow (dukkha), change (anicca), and selflessness (anatta). To slightly oversimplify, dukkha or sorrow refers to the fact that no component phenomenon or state is ever satisfactory; change or anicca (often translated as impermanence) refers to the fact that all component phenomena are impermanent (and it is because of their impermanence that there is never any lasting satisfaction in any of them); selflessness or anatta (literally, “not-self”) refers to the fact that no phenomenon has its own self-existence, that everything is component and interdependent (Crowley sometimes translates this as “Unsubstantiality” rather than “Selflessness” but they refer to the same idea). It should be stated at the outset that, inherently, these Mysteries can only be completely comprehended by those who have passed through them, those who have attained the corresponding Grades. Further, because the Supernals are above the Abyss, any explication of these Mysteries in words (which pertain to the mind, or Ruach, which is below the Abyss) must necessarily fall short. Nonetheless, a certain amount regarding them can be explained.
“Now the grade of a Magister teacheth the Mystery of Sorrow,”: The Mystery pertaining to the Magister is the “Mystery of Sorrow,” corresponding to Binah on the Tree of Life and dukkha in the Buddhist scheme of the Three Characteristics. Crowley writes, “The Magister Templi is pre-eminently the Master of Mysticism, that is, His Understanding [Binah] is entirely free from internal contradiction or external obscurity [meaning it is completely unified and undivided]; His work is to comprehend the existing Universe in accordance with His own Mind [finding them to be identical with no separation]. He is the Master of the Law of Sorrow (Dukkha)” (One Star in Sight). The Magister is one who has achieved the perfect annihilation of his ego, or sense of a separate self, and therefore comprehends the entire Universe as coterminous with Himself. A Magister therefore is “Master of the Law of Sorrow” because He not only Understands that all phenomena are subject to Sorrow, but He has completely dis-identified with all partial, component phenomena and so transcends the suffering inherent in the identification therewith.
“and the grade of a Magus the Mystery of Change,”: The Mystery pertaining to the Magus is the “Mystery of Change,” corresponding to Chokmah on the Tree of Life and anicca in the Buddhist scheme of the Three Characteristics. Crowley writes, “The Magus is pre-eminently the Master of Magick, that is, his Will [Chokmah] is entirely free from internal diversion or external opposition [it is completely unified, one-pointed]; His work is to create a new Universe in accordance with His Will. He is the Master of the Law of Change (Anicca)” (One Star in Sight). The Magus is one who, having achieved the perfect annihilation of his ego in the Infinite, now reformulates himself as an expression of the Word (Chokmah) within the Finite; it is “the renunciation of His enjoyment of the Infinite so that he may formulate Himself as the Finite” (One Star in Sight). The Magus therefore transcends the anicca, or impermanence, of all component things yet nonetheless immerses Himself in the world of flux and change as the Word incarnate.
“and the grade of Ipsissimus the Mystery of Selflessness, which is called also the Mystery of Pan.”: The Mystery pertaining to the Ipsissimus is the “Mystery of Selflessness” or the “Mystery of Pan,” corresponding to Kether on the Tree of Life and anatta in the Buddhist scheme of the Three Characteristics. Crowley writes, “The Ipsissimus is pre-eminently the Master of all modes of existence; that is, his Being [Kether] is entirely free from internal or external necessity. His work is to destroy all tendencies to construct or to cancel such necessities. He is the Master of the Law of Unsubstantiality (Anatta).” The Ipsissimus’ “Being” is completely free from all division of any kind. Therefore to say the Ipsissimus is a “Being” is a misnomer, for Being presupposes a Non-Being from which to distinguish itself. The Ipsissimus transcends all these categories, which is why the Grade pertains simultaneously to the “Mystery of Selflessness” and the “Mystery of Pan” (Pan literally means “All”). There is an identity between Selflessness and Self, between Nothingness and All.
16. Let the Magus then contemplate each in turn, raising it to the ultimate power of Infinity. Wherein Sorrow is Joy, and Change is Stability, and Selflessness is Self. For the interplay of the parts hath no action upon the whole. And this contemplation shall be performed not by simple meditation— how much less then by reason? but by the method which shall have been given unto Him in His Initiation to the Grade.
On this line, Crowley notes, “Can this have been the IX° O.T.O. Mystery? Or the Way of the Tao called ‘Living in the Sunlight’ by Soror Hilarion? No, it is the regular Analysis Method; the Grass of Chokmah helps.” Here Crowley insists that the method of the “internal work” of the Magus is “the regular Analysis Method.” Crowley explains this method in Liber Aleph where he also relates it to the “Grass of the Arabs”, which he calls the “Grass of Chokmah” in his note to this line from Liber I. This “Grass” is hashish, and it very obviously is not simply “getting high” but the use of drugs to further one’s meditation – one must remember that this pertains to the Grade of Magus and not simply to the “profane” using this “grass.” Interestingly, Crowley associates this drug with Chokmah, the sphere pertaining to the Grade of Magus. Crowley writes in Liber Aleph regarding this “regular Analysis Method” also called the method of “Ladders”:
“I believe generally, on Ground both of Theory and Experience, so little as I have, that a Man must first be initiate, and established in Our Law, before he may use this Method. For in it is an Implication of our Secret Enlightenment, concerning the Universe, how its Nature is utterly Perfection. Now every Thought is a Separation, and the Medicine of that is to marry Each One with its Contradiction, as I have shewed formerly in many Writings. And thou shalt clap the one to the other with Vehemence of Spirit, swiftly as Light itself, that the Ecstasy be spontaneous. So therefore it is Expedient that thou have travelled already in this Path of Antithesis, knowing perfectly the Answer to every Griph or Problem, and thy Mind ready therewith. For by the Property of this Grass all passeth with Speed incalculable of Wit, and an Hesitation should confound thee, breaking down thy ladder, and throwing back thy Mind to receive Impression from Environment, as at thy first beginning. Verily; the nature of this Method is Solution, and the Destruction of every Complexity by Explosion of Ecstasy, as every Element thereof is fulfilled by its Correlative, and is annihilated (since it loseth separate Existence) in the Orgasm that is consummated within the Bed of thy Mind.” (Liber Aleph, chapter 180; emphasis added)
The essential method is therefore one of marrying each thought to its opposite. The annihilation of X and not-X uniting brings “Ecstasy” and “Orgasm”, producing a synthesis of the thesis and antithesis of thought. This new synthesis is then married with its own opposite, and on and on. As Crowley writes, “This Method is continuous and proceedeth ever from the Gross to the Fine, and from the Particular to the General, dissolving all Things into the One Substance of Light” (Liber Aleph, chapter 181). This method may be further studied in chapters 179-181 in Liber Aleph for those who will. The Magus’ task is specifically to take the thesis-antithesis of Sorrow-Joy (Binah), Change-Stability (Chokmah), and Selflessness-Self (Kether) and seek to transcend these oppositions by this method. Crowley notes that for the Magus “to attain the Grade of Ipsissimus he must accomplish three tasks, destroying the Three Guardians mentioned in Liber 418, the 3rd Aethyr; Madness, and Falsehood, and Glamour, that is, Duality in Act, Word and Thought” (One Star in Sight; emphasis added). It is by the destruction or transcendence of these ultimate dualities that the path to the Grade of Ipsissimus is opened unto the Magus.
17. Following which method, it shall be easy for Him to combine that trinity from its elements, and further to combine Sat-Chit-Ananda, and Light, Love, Life, three by three into nine that are one, in which meditation success shall be That which was first adumbrated to Him in the grade of Practicus (which reflecteth Mercury into the lowest world) in Liber XXVII, “Here is Nothing under its three Forms.”
“Following which method, it shall be easy for Him to combine that trinity from its elements,”: The “trinity” referred to is that of Sorrow-Change-Unsubstantiality (and their opposites which they contain in themselves), which correspond to the Supernal Triad of the Tree of Life.
“and further to combine Sat-Chit-Ananda,”: In what is called the “Naples Arrangement,” Crowley attributes Sat-Chit-Ananda (which mean “Being-Consciousness-Bliss” in Sanskrit) to Netzach (Sat/Being), Hod (Chit/Consciousness), and Yesod (Ananda/Bliss). Traditionally, each term of Sat-Chit-Ananda actually contains its opposite in itself: the “Being” of Sat is beyond the notions of being and non-being, the “Consciousness” of Chit is beyond the notions of consciousness and unconsciousness, and the “Bliss” of Ananda is beyond the notions of “joy” and “sorrow”.
“and Light, Love, Life,”: Following the scheme provided by Sat-Chit-Ananda being attributed to Netzach-Hod-Yesod, we can see Light is attributed to Chesed, Love to Geburah, and Life to Tiphareth. There are many ways in which these attributions are interchangeable, but the important implication is the uniting of the triads into a unity.
“three by three into nine that are one,”: The Tree of Life is traditionally formed by the trinity of the Supernals which reflects itself down into two more triads which make nine Sephiroth total, and then Malkuth – the tenth – which is the culmination of this “trinity of triads”. This process is essentially the reversal of the symbolic process of Creation by “wrapping up” each of the trinities into themselves and into one another, so that from the three trinities (“three by three into nine”) we arrive at a unity of all three trinities. If Creation is likened to the unfolding of the Tree, then this process folds the entire Tree back up into itself.
“in which meditation success shall be That which was first adumbrated to Him in the grade of Practicus (which reflecteth Mercury into the lowest world) in Liber XXVII, ‘Here is Nothing under its three Forms.'”: This gives an indication of succsess in this practice. The reference to Liber XXVII is to a Holy Book known as Liber Trigrammaton. The text is called “the Book of the Trigrams of the Mutations of the Tao with the Yin and the Yang”, where each “Trigram” is composed of some permutation of the Tao (represented by a dot), Yin (represented by a broken line), and Yang (represented by an unbroken line). The very first Trigram given in the text is composed of three “Tao”s, or dots, and is given the corresponding line reading “Here is Nothing under its three Forms.” This “Nothing” is the Ain of Qabalists, the Tao of Taoists, and Nuit in Thelema: it is the undifferentiated Unmanifest. The “three Forms” of Nothing are understood to be the primordial Three-in-One of Ain (Nothing), Ain Soph (No Limit), and Ain Soph Aur (Limitless Light).
The reference to “the grade of Practicus” is because in this Grade, corresponding to Hod on the Tree of Life, the aspirant is given this text to study and memorize. This line says the grade of Practice “reflecteth Mercury into the lowest world” because Mercury in “the highest world” (so to speak) is the Magus in Chokmah (recall that Mercury is attributed to Atu I: The Magus in the Tarot). This Mercury, identical with the Logos, is reflected down the Tree into Hod, which is attributed to Mercury as one of the seven classical Planets. There is therefore a kind of harmony or relation between the grades of Practicus 4°=7☐ in Hod and Magus 9°=2☐ in Chokmah.
18. And this is the Opening of the Grade of Ipsissimus, and by the Buddhists it is called the trance Nerodha-Samapatti.
This text gives inklings into the entrance into the final Grade of Ipsissimus and gives the “external” and “internal” work required by the Magus to attain thereto. This line indicates that success in the “internal” practice of the “Analysis Method” (or Method of “Ladders”) ultimates in That which is called “Nothing under its three forms.”
“by the Buddhists it is called the trance Nerodha-Samapatti”: We are then given an equivalent attainment in another system, that of “Nerodha-Samapatti” in Buddhism. Often spelled “nirodha-samāpatti”, it refers to the extinction of all impressions. In 777, Crowley attributes Nerodha-Samapatti to line 0, the line equivalent to Naught beyond even Kether. He also equates it with “Nirvikalpa-samadhi” and “Shivadarshana.” Crowley writes that Nirvikalpa-samadhi is the highest form of samadhi (the union of subject and object in concentration) where “the trance results from banishing thought altogether” (The Herb Dangerous). Crowley equates Shivadarshana with the opening of the Eye of Shiva and the annihilation of the Universe in many places. They all essentially point to the same idea of the annihilation of all “modifications” or “impressions” in the Being of the Ipsissimus, and represent the highest attainment possible.
19. And woe, woe, woe, yea woe, and again woe, woe, woe unto seven times be His that preacheth not His law to men!
Crowley notes, “Return to extension work for a moment.” That is, the topic has switched back from the “internal work” of the Magus to the “external work”, that of uttering the Word or preaching the Law to mankind. The use of seven “woe”s is likely a reference back to the “Seven Spirits of Unrighteousness”, symbolic of the inherent falsehood in all words and the curse of the Magus to speak such falsehoods.
20. And woe also be unto Him that refuseth the curse of the grade of a Magus, and the burden of the Attainment thereof.
In the previous line it is reaffirmed that the Magus must preach his Law or Truth to mankind, and in this line it is reaffirmed that the Magus must also take on the curse that this Truth will inherently be “Illusion and Falsehood” (as in line 1). This curse and burden is the necessity of the Magus to reformulate the Infinite in the Finite, to utter his Word, and to necessarily be misunderstood and reviled by many.
21. And in the word CHAOS let the Book be sealed; yea, let the Book be sealed.
This Book is sealed in the word “CHAOS.” Chaos is the “god” attributed to Chokmah – it is a name of the All-Father – and it is therefore entirely appropriate for a text focusing on the function of the Magus or Logos. It is properly spelled KAOS for various reasons. Firstly, it is “the four-fold word that is equal to her seven-fold word” (The Vision & the Voice, 3rd Aethyr); “KAOS” (four-fold word, being four letters) is equal to her seven-fold word, which is “BABALON” (being seven letters). Further, the 4 and 7 combine to form 11, the number of the union of opposites, the Great Work accomplished. Further, the four-fold word “is equal” to the seven-fold word, because KAOS (Kaph-Ayin-Vav-Samekh) equals 156, the same enumeration as BABALON. This is because Chaos and Babalon are inextricably a unity. As it is written, “Below them is a seeming duality of Chaos and Babalon; these are called Father and Mother, but it is not so. They are called Brother and Sister, but it is not so. They are called Husband and Wife, but it is not so” (Book of Lies, chapter 11). For those still mired in duality, Binah and Chokmah – or Babalon and Chaos – seem to be a duality such as those of Father-Mother and Brother-Sister, yet those above the Abyss know they are one. Crowley comments on this line, “Chaos and Babalon are Chokmah and Binah, but they are really one; the essential unity of the supernal Triad is here insisted upon.” There is therefore an identity between Chaos and Babalon.