Chapter II – ר (Resh)
Crowley writes in the 22nd Aethyr, “Contrast each verse of Cap. I [of Liber ARARITA] with the corresponding verse of Cap. II.” In Chapter I, we saw that the lines followed a general pattern of describing the Sephiroth and the corresponding 7 classical Planets.
Line 0. Now then I saw these things averse and evil; and they were not, even as Thou art Not.
these things: This refers to the Sephiroth that were seen in their “upright and good” form in Chapter I.
averse and evil: These “averse and evil” versions of the Sephiroth are known as the “Qliphoth” (pronounced “klee-pote”). They are also sometimes called the “shells” or the “infernal habitations.” In the Golden Dawn, aspirants were taught regarding the Qliphoth, “These be they who are Unclean and Evil, even the Distortion and Perversion of the Sephiroth.” We can imagine the Qliphoth being the shadow of the light of the Sephirah, the distorted, evil, or dark side of it. Alternatively, we can imagine a mirror image of the Tree of Life, extending downwards as a reflection of the normal Tree of Life (and one reason they would be called the “infernal habitations”). In 777 Crowley writes, “The titles of the Qliphoth, generally speaking, suggest the vice characteristic of the Sephira or other idea to which they are attributed.” The first line of Chapter I refers to extolling “Thy perfections,” and we can see Chapter II as extolling “Thy imperfections.”
they were not: This can be taken to mean “they were not real.” It could also be another contrast with the upright versions in Chapter I, i.e. Chapter I refers to existence and Chapter II to non-existence.
even as Thou art Not: The “not” of the Qliphoth reflects something that is true of God on a higher scale. It is a play on words, in a way, but the difference between the “not” of the Qliphoth and the “Not” of God is shown by the difference in capitalization. The “not” of the Qliphtoh refers to their lack of substance or reality while the “Not” of God refers to the Qabalistic Zero, That which is beyond all names and forms and duality – it is sometimes called Nothing, Naught, Zero, or None. In The Book of the Law it says, “O Nuit, continuous one of Heaven, let it be ever thus; that men speak not of Thee as One but as None; and let them speak not of thee at all, since thou art continuous!” (I:27). This Not is beyond all names and forms, which is a recurring idea in this Holy Book. It is proper to mention this particular idea because this is Line 0.
Line 1. I saw the twin heads that ever battle against one another, so that all their thought is a confusion. I saw Thee in these.
Line 1 refers to the Qliphoth of the 1st Sephirah, Kether. The Orders of the Qliphoth are given in column VIII in 777. The Qliphoth of Kether are called “Thaumiel,” which means “Twins of God.” The general idea is that Kether is a Unity but its Qliphoth are twin and therefore dual, denying the unity of Kether.
the twin heads that ever battle against one another: In 777 Crowley writes, “the Thaumiel refer to Kether because their characteristic is to possess two contending heads, and so to deny the unity of Kether”; in “John St. John” Crowley describes the Thaumiel as “twin giant heads that hate and tear each other”; in Book 4, Part 2, he describes them as “opposing heads that rend and devour each other.” The image is therefore a consistent one throughout Crowley’s writings.
all their thought is a confusion: In Kether, thought is Unity and harmony, but the Qliphoth of Kether represent the duality of opposition. There is therefore the “rending and devouring” of one another because of the perversion or distortion of the Unity of Kether.
I saw Thee in these: The somewhat “shocking” aspect of Chapter II is that the Unity of God is seen even in the “averse and evil” aspects of existence. This is a Unity that transcends good and evil, the upright and averse. To assert God as good and not evil is to deny His Unity.
Line 2. I saw the darkeners of wisdom, like black apes chattering vile nonsense. I saw Thee in these.
Line 2 refers to the Qliphoth of the 2nd Sephirah, Chokmah. The Qliphoth of Chokmah are called “Ghaghiel,” which means “Hinderers.”
darkeners of wisdom: Chokmah literally means “Wisdom,” so the Qliphoth thereof are the darkeners of wisdom.
black apes chattering vile nonsense: Chokmah as the 2nd Sephirah is often attributed to idea of the Word or “Logos,” being the first emanation from the Unity of Kether. Alongside the Truth that is the Word of God is always its opposite, falsehood. This is described in another Holy Book called Liber B vel Magi sub figura I, where it is written, “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.” Crowley often talks about this averse aspect of Wisdom as the “Ape of Thoth.” When describing Atu I: The Magus, Crowley writes:
“The other form of Thoth represents him primarily as Wisdom and the Word. He bears in his right hand the Style, in his left the Papyrus. He is the messenger of the gods; he transmits their will by hieroglyphs intelligible to the initiate, and records their acts; but it was seen from very early times that the use of speech, or writing, meant the introduction of ambiguity at the best, and falsehood at the worst; they therefore represented Thoth as followed by an ape, the cynocephalus, whose business was to distort the Word of the god; to mock, to simulate and to deceive. In philosophical language one may say: Manifestation implies illusion. This doctrine is found in Hindu philosophy, where the aspect of Tahuti of which we are speaking is called Mayan.”
In short, these black apes represent the distortion of Truth, the averse reflection of the Word or Wisdom of Chokmah.
Line 3. I saw the devouring mothers of Hell, that eat up their children— O ye that are without
understanding! I saw Thee in these.
Line 3 refers to the Qliphoth of the 3rd Sephirah, Binah. The Qliphoth of Binah are called “Satariel,” which means “Hiding.”
devouring mothers of Hell, that eat up their children: This is the typical image of Saturn who devoured his own children. Although Saturn is male, Binah is often related to the Great Mother archetypes. Rather than giving birth to All, the image is one of re-absorbing them without allowing them to develop. Instead of “unveiling” things through form, the Qliphoth are “Hiding” them. The mention of “Hell” is simply a reference to the fact that the Qliphoth are called the “infernal abodes” that dwell “below” the Tree of Life as its averse reflection.
O ye that are without understanding: Binah literally means “Understanding,” so the Qliphoth thereof are without understanding.
Line 4. I saw the merciless and the unmajestic like harpies tearing their foul food. I saw Thee in these.
Line 4 refers to the Qliphoth of the 4th Sephirah, Chesed. The Qliphoth of Chesed are called “Gha’agsheklah,” which means “Smiters.”
merciless: Chesed literally means “mercy,” so the Qliphoth thereof are without mercy or “merciless.” Hence the name “Smiters,” which implies severity rather than mercy.
unmajestic: “Majesty” is a title of Chesed, so the Qliphoth thereof are without majesty or “unmajestic.”
harpies: Father-like gods or rulers of the gods are attributed to Chesed. One such example is Zeus, the ruler of the Olympian gods, who was said to create not only thunder but also the harpies. They represent the evil manifestation of Chesed or Jupiter/Zeus.
Line 5. I saw the burning ones, giants like volcanoes belching out the black vomit of fire and smoke in their fury. I saw Thee in these.
Line 5 refers to the Qliphoth of the 5th Sephirah, Geburah. The Qliphoth of Geburah are called “Golachab,” which means “Flaming Ones.” In 777 Crowley writes, “the Golachab are giants like volcanoes, symbolizing energy and fire, and their liability to appear as tyranny and destruction.”
burning ones… volcanoes… fire… fury: Mars and Fire are attributed to Geburah, which are resonant with the ideas of “burning ones,” “volcanoes,” “fire,” and “fury.”
Line 6. I saw the petty, the quarrelsome, the selfish,— they were like men, O Lord, they were even like unto men. I saw Thee in these.
Line 6 refers to the Qliphoth of the 6th Sephirah, Tiphareth. The Qliphoth of Tiphareth are “Thagiriron,” which means “The Litigation.” Litigation implies dispute or conflict as opposed to the more “upright” aspect of Tiphareth as Harmony.
petty: Petty is the opposite of generous or magnanimous, and it is also the opposite of focusing on what is important. It generally implies a narrow and selfish view.
quarrelsome: The name of the Qliphoth “Thagirion” as “The Litigation” implies a quarrel or dispute, which is opposite to the quality of Tiphareth as that of balance and harmony.
selfish: Tiphareth is connected with ideas of selflessness, sacrifice, and giving. The opposite of this would be selfishness, and this is also connected with the “vice” of Pride.
they were like men: There are various images associated with the Qliphoth, and here the image is one of men, i.e. human beings, as opposed to what are generally mythical beings (e.g. harpies, giants, et cetera) attributed to other Sephiroth. Tiphareth is the center of the conscious mind, or “Ruach,” which is most associated with Mankind. This is similar to how the 4 Elemental Kerubs are the Lion for Fire, Eagle for Water, Bull for Earth, and Man for Air (intellect, conscious mind).
Line 7. I saw the ravens of death, that flew with hoarse cries upon the carrion earth. I saw Thee in these.
Line 7 refers to the Qliphoth of the 7th Sephirah, Netzach. The Qliphoth of Netzach are “A’arab Zaraq,” which means “The Ravens of Dispersion.” In 777 Crowley writes, “the Qliphoth of Venus are carrion birds, as opposed to the dove, sparrow, etc.”
ravens of death: This is a direct reference to the name of the Qliphoth of Netzach meaning “the Ravens of Dispersion.” They are carrion birds that feast on dead flesh. As Crowley explains, these carrion birds are opposed to the “upright” aspect of Netzach to which is attributed “the dove, sparrow, etc.”
hoarse cries: Their cries are hoarse, implying their very speech is rough as opposed to the smooth, voluptuous nature of the “upright” Venus/Netzach.
the carrion earth: As mentioned previously, ravens are carrion birds and “carrion earth” implies a dying earth as opposed to a fruitful and living earth.
Line 8. I saw the lying spirits like frogs upon the earth, and upon the water, and upon the treacherous metal that corrodeth all things and abideth not. I saw Thee in these.
Line 8 refers to the Qliphoth of the 8th Sephirah, Hod. The Qliphoth of Hod is “Samael,” which means “The False Accuser.”
the lying spirits: The “upright” quality of Hod is one of communication and Truth, so the “averse” quality of the Qliphoth of Hod is naturally one of lying. This also coheres with the Qliphoth of Hod being the “False Accuser.”
like frogs upon the earth: Crowley associated frogs with Mercury (attributed to the 8th Sephirah, Hod). This can be seen in Liber LXX: Stauros Batrachou – The Cross of the Frog, which details “the Ceremonies proper to obtaining a familiar spirit of a Mercurial nature as described in the Apocalypse of St. John the Divine from a frog or toad.”
the treacherous metal that corrodeth all things and abideth not: This is a reference to the metal of “quicksilver,” which Crowley calls in the 15th Aethyr, “The Universal Mercury, instrument of the constant Change and Flux which constitutes life.” In short, this “treacherous metal” is the principle of Change itself which is the “cause” of all death and “abideth not” because it is Change.
Line 9. I saw the obscene ones, bull-men linked in the abyss of putrefaction, that gnawed each other’s tongues for pain. I saw Thee in these.
Line 9 refers to the Qliphoth of the 9th Sephirah, Yesod. The Qliphoth of Yesod is “Gamaliel,” which means “The Obscene Ass.”
obscene: Obscene refers to an uncontrolled sexual desire or impulse. This is proper as the sexual organs and force is attributed to Yesod, the 9th Sephirah. It is also a reference to the Qliphoth of Yesod being “The Obscene Ass.”
bull-men: This is either a reference to “The Obscene Ass” or, more likely, to the fact that a bull’s horns resemble the Moon (Taurus, for this reason, is exalted in Luna). This is seen in the cult of Apis, the Egyptian bull-god, and the cult of Shiva, the Hindu god who has a Moon on his brow and to whom bulls are sacred.
the abyss of putrefaction: Putrefaction refers to rotting and dying, the opposite of birth adn life that is proper to Luna, attributed to the generative organs themselves as well as the nurse or mother.
Line 10. I saw the Woman. O my God, I beheld the image thereof, even as a lovely shape that concealeth a black monkey, even as a figure that draweth with her hands small images of men down into hell. I saw her from the head to the navel a woman, from the navel to the feet of her a man. I saw Thee even in her.
Line 10 refers to the Qliphoth of the 10th Sephirah, Malkuth. The Qliphoth of Malkuth is “Lilith,” which is “The Woman of Night.”
the Woman: This is a reference to the Qliphoth of Malkuth being “The Woman of Night.” Lilith is a complex figure whose nature in the New Aeon is described most completely in the 3rd Aethyr. In general, she represents temptation and illusion in her “averse” aspect but is also a veil of Babalon.
even as a lovely shape that concealeth a black monkey: In the 3rd Aethyr, there is a very graphic part where it is written, “…the shew-stone blazeth ever with the fury and the torment and the blackness, and the stench of human flesh. The bowels of little children are torn out and thrust into his mouth, and a poison is dropped into his eyes. And Lilith, a black monkey crawling with filth, running with open sores, an eye torn out, eaten of worms, her teeth rotten, her nose eaten away, her mouth a putrid mass of green slime, her dugs dropping and cancerous, clings to him, kisses him…” Monkeys and apes generally refer to illusion, as described earlier in this Chapter when discussing the black ape of Line 2.
draweth with her hands small images of men down into hell: The Qliphoth are themselves the “infernal abodes,” and Lilith is traditionally understood as a female demon.
Line 11. For mine was the keyword to the Closed Palace 418 and mine the reins of the Chariot of the Sphinxes, black and white. But I was not deceived by anything of all these things.
the keyword: The keyword is the word “ABRAHADABRA,” which is 11 letters (line 11) and equals 418. It is the word representing the Great Work accomplished, the union of opposites, of Microcosm (5) and Macrocosm (6), soul and God, et cetera. Crowley calls ABRAHADABRA the keyword in his commentary to Liber AL, I:1 (“the Key-Word ABRAHADABRA”), and he says it is “the key of the rituals” mentioned in Liber AL, I:20, in his commentary thereof (“ABRAHADABRA is ‘The key of the rituals’ because it expresses the Magical Formulae of uniting various complementary ideas; especially the Five of the Microcosm with the Six of the Macrocosm.”)
the Closed Palace 418: In Chapter I, 418 was a “new star” formed from the union of the 5-pointed “Flaming Star” and the 6-pointed “Sixfold Star.” In this Chapter, 418 is figured as a “Closed Palace,” which is related to the Hebrew letter Cheth. Cheth means “fence” and generally refers to an enclosed space, and Cheth spelled in full (ChITh or Cheth-Yod-Tav) equals 418. It is attributed to Cancer whose symbol shows the union of opposites, specifically of 6 (Sol) and 9 (Luna). Further, “Closed Palace” may be an obscure reference to Kteis-Phallos (more commonly known as “Lingam-Yoni”) as the initials of the phrase Closed Palace are Kaph and Peh, which Crowley relates to Kteis (Yoni) and Phallos (Lingam) in various places.
reins of the Chariot of the Sphinxes, black and white: This is a more obvious reference to Cheth whose spelling in full is 418. Cheth is attributed to Atu VII: The Chariot, which is pulled by Sphinxes. The black and white further reinforces the balance and unity of opposites.
not deceived: Like in Chapter I where the Adept is not deceived even by the “new star 418,” the Adept is not even deceived by this “Closed Palace 418” or the “Chariot of the Sphinxes.” The Truth of Unity is beyond all names and forms, so we unite each idea or image with its opposite to be released from attachment to or identification with either side.
Line 12. For I expanded it by my subtlety into Twelve Rays of the Crown.
expanded it: This generally refers to the idea of “expanding” from the 11-fold nature of the keyword (“ABRAHADABRA”) that was in Line 11 to the “Twelve Rays of the Crown” in Line 12. Again, the “Crown” refers to Kether, the Unity on the Tree of Life, and 12 is also HUA, “He,” a name of God used especially in Islam.
Line 13. And these twelve rays were One.
Line 13 reasserts the Unity of all, for 13 is Achad (AChD = 13), which means “Unity.” All of the 13th Lines are virtually identical except in the last Chapter, with the only difference being the use of “are One” or “were One.”