Liber Porta Lucis sub figura X

Liber Porta Lucis sub figura X

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Basic Information

Title: Liber Porta Lucis sub figura X [“The Book of the Gate of Light under the number 10”]

Date written: December 12, 1907

Class: Class A. This is considered a Holy Book of Thelema.

Crowley’s descriptions

  • “This book is an account of the sending forth of the Master by the A∴ A∴ and an explanation of his mission […] X. Porta Lucis, the Gate of Light, is one of the titles of Malkuth, whose number is X.”
    —Liber 207: A Syllabus of the Official Instructions of the A∴A∴
  • “LIBER X. This book is called ‘The Gate of Light’. It explains how those who have attained initiation, taking pity upon the darkness and minuteness of the earth, send forth a messenger to men. The message follows. It is an appeal to those who, being developed beyond the average of their fellows, see fit to take up the Great Work. This Work is then described in general terms with a few hints of its conditions.”
    Confessions, chapter 69

MalkuthCrowley has very little to say about this short Class A text. I know of only the two quotations above, and no other references, let alone commentary. Nonetheless, these quotations are actually quite illuminating.

First of all, Crowley translates “Porta Lucis” as “the Gate of Light,” giving us the proper full title “The Book of the Gate of Light.” This is reinforced by his calling the book “The Gate of Light” in Confessions. He explains that “Gate of Light” is a title of Malkuth, the 10th Sephirah on the Tree of Life corresponding to Earth. This immediately explains the title – i.e. that it refers to Malkuth – and links that meaning to the number given, “sub figura X,” as X is 10 and Malkuth is the 10th Sephirah. 

Malkuth is “the Gate of Light” primarily because it represents the beginning of the Path of Initiation, the quest for Light or Truth. As it is said in the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn Neophyte initiation, “Long hast thou dwelt in Darkness, Quit the Night and seek the Day!” This crucial decision to become a seeker of Truth, to tread the dire path up the slopes of Abiegnus, only happens when we are incarnated in Malkuth, so to speak. It is only from the bottom of the Tree of Life that way may begin our ascent back to the top.

Since Malkuth is Earth, it represents the First Matter of Alchemy, the basic unrefined substance at the beginning of the operation. It is therefore also “the Gate of Light” because we know that the Arcane Substance is already hidden within the First Matter, the gold is already hidden within the lead. In Thelemic terms, the Eternal Sun of one’s own godhead is always shining, but the clouds of ignorance obscure our view. Also, as it is written, “Thou wast with me from the beginning.” (LXV II:60). 

There is also another, much more esoteric consideration of Malkuth as “the Gate of Light.” Crowley writes in several places that a word for “Gate” in Hebrew is תרעא (Crowley usually transliterates this as ThROA, Tav-Resh-Ayin-Aleph), which equals 671. The first consideration is that 671 is also the enumeration of אדני (ADNI, “Adonai”, a name of God, often used particularly in connection with the Holy Guardian Angel and the Sephirah of Tiphareth on the Tree of Life). This connection between ThROA and ADNI, Gate/Malkuth and Adonai/Tiphareth, is yet another reinforcement of the idea that the Light is hidden within the darkness, the Arcane Substance within the First Matter.

The second consideration is that the word ThROA (henceforth, simply “TROA”) is also an anagram of 4 other words: TORA (Law, “Torah”), ROTA (Wheel), TARO (Tarot), and ATOR (Lady of Love, “Athor”). So there is an identity, or close relation, between Malkuth as the ideas of the Gate, the Law, the Wheel, and Love. 

  • The relation to “Gate” is explained above.
  • TORA — “Law” pertains to Malkuth as it is the final consolidation of Divine Law that is established or begun in the first Sephirah, Kether. It is also ruled by inexorable laws, such as gravity.
  • ROTA — “Wheel” pertains to Malkuth as it is where the circle of life, death, and rebirth occurs (i.e. samsara), the place where the cycle of life perpetuates itself generation unto generation, ad infinitum. 
  • TARO — “Tarot” is essentially a pictorial representation of the Word manifested. This is the same idea that Malkuth or Earth is the crystallization of the divine Will, the full manifestation of the Law. Further, the 22 lines of Liber Porta Lucis correspond with the 22 Trumps or Major Arcana of the Tarot and the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet, both of which imply the full manifestation of creation or Light.
  • ATOR — “Athor”, or “Hathor” or “Ahathoor” or her many other names, is called “the Lady of the Path of Daleth” (Liber LVIII) and Daleth is the Path of Love. Further, Crowley attributes Ahathoor to Netzach, the 7th Sephirah which corresponds to Venus, the planet of Love. This conveys a particularly Thelemic doctrine: The Earth is a place where “Love is the law, love under will” (AL I:57). In the New Aeon, we no longer attribute the color black to Malkuth/Earth, but rather green. Green is the color of vegetatian and growth and life, rather than darkness and death; it is also the color of Venus, the Lady of Love. We of the New Aeon therefore see the Earth as a place of rejoicing, where we are “divided for love’s sake” (AL I:29) that we may take our joy in our acts of love under will. 
  • ORAT — Finally, “Orat,” which means “speaking” or “The Word,” relates to the Logos of V.V.V.V.V., the Light of the World, being mentioned throughout this text.

There are, of course, many other interpretations of the connections between these words which one can meditate upon (see, for example, chapter 78 of The Book of Lies), but these are simply the most foundational ideas, all of which are implied Qabalistically simply by Crowley titling this text “Porta Lucis.” There are also many further interpretations of ThROA and the number 671 which can be explored in Crowley’s writings, and in the light of one’s initiations. 

  • “LIBER X. This book is called ‘The Gate of Light’. It explains how those who have attained initiation, taking pity upon the darkness and minuteness of the earth, send forth a messenger to men. The message follows. It is an appeal to those who, being developed beyond the average of their fellows, see fit to take up the Great Work. This Work is then described in general terms with a few hints of its conditions.”
    Confessions, chapter 69

Basic Structure

This Holy Book has exactly 22 lines. These lines do not correspond exactly to the 22 Major Arcana and 22 Hebrew letters line-for-line, but the use of the number implies both the Tarot and the alphabet in general. Both of these ideas, all the letters of the alphabet and the all the Trumps of the Tarot, imply a sense of creation or manifestation. 

The Text

1. I behold a small dark orb, wheeling in an abyss of infinite space. It is minute among a myriad vast ones, dark amid a myriad bright ones.

I behold: Who is it that beholds in this case? It is the “I AM” of Kether, which is proper to this being line 1, corresponding to Kether being the 1st Sephirah on the Tree of Life. 

a small dark orb: This small dark orb is the Earth. The reference to Earth (or Malkuth, on the Qabalistic Tree of Life) being in the very first line alludes to the Qabalistic notion that “Kether is in Malkuth and Malkuth is in Kether, but after another manner.” Earth is a “dark orb” as opposed to the “light orb” of the Sun. 

wheeling in an abyss of infinite space: The Earth is in fact wheeling in an abyss of infinite space. This “infinite space” immediately calls to mind the symbol of Nuit, “Infinite Space, and the Infinite Stars thereof” (AL I:22). As a point of curiosity, The British Encyclopedia or Dictionary of Arts and Sciences by William Nicholson (and originally published in 1809) has an entry for “Infinite”, a portion of which mentions this exact phrase of “abyss of infinite space”; it reads, “το παν [to pan, ‘The All’], or abyss of infinite space (wherein is the locus of all things that are or can be)…” identifying the Infinite Space of Nuit with Pan, the All. They are, in this sense, both attributable to the Qabalistic Zero, or “Naught”.  

It is minute among a myriad vast ones, dark amid a myriad bright ones: There are worlds of various sizes and stars of various brightness. The “minute” and “dark” nature emphasizes the idea of darkness being a symbol of ignorance. The Earth is seen as an orb without Light, wheeling in infinite darkness. This darkness is broken by the Light of V.V.V.V.V. in the next line.

2. I who comprehend in myself all the vast and the minute, all the bright and the dark, have mitigated the brilliance of mine unutterable splendour, sending forth V.V.V.V.V. as a ray of my light, as a messenger unto that small dark orb.

I who comprehend in myself all the vast and the minute: This is, in one sense, Kether – the supreme, unutterably Unity of Godhead that contains, permeates, and transcends all things. The phrase used also recalls that of “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last” from Revelation where it is said by Christ. This also mirrors a line from another Holy Book, “Come thou, O beloved One, O Lord God of the Universe, O Vast One, O Minute One! I am Thy beloved” (Liber LXV, III:33), confirming the speaker as “Lord God of the Universe,” i.e. Kether. The extra of “the vast” is Nuit, while the extreme of “the minute” is Hadit, so it is another way to say that God encompasses Infinity, both the infinitely-expanded and the infinitely-contracted.

all the bright and the dark: In one sense, this Kether-Unity is Horus, the Lord of the Aeon (or, in other words, our current name or understanding of the Lord of the Universe for this particular Aeon). Horus says in the 1st Aethyr: “I am light, and I am night, and I am that which is beyond them. I am speech, and I am silence, and I am that which is beyond them. I am life, and I am death, and I am that which is beyond them. I am war, and I am peace, and I am that which is beyond them. I am weakness, and I am strength, and I am that which is beyond them. Yet by none of these can man reach up to me. Yet by each of them must man reach up to me.” In a simpler sense, Kether (or “God” or “The Absolute”) encompasses all dualities, one of which is all things “bright” and “dark”.

have mitigated the brilliance of mine untterable splendour: The “unutterable splendour” is that of the Unity, Kether, of which nothing may be spoken. Now, in the 2nd line, this brilliance – in order to be known or comprehended – is becoming “mitigated”, lessened, or reflected down into Chokmah. This is the classic idea that the Unity of Godhead needs to descend into the darkness of multiplicity in order that It may know Itself through Its many manifestations.

sending forth V.V.V.V.V. as a ray of my light: That which is called “V.V.V.V.V.” occupies the role of Magus in this “creation story” of sorts. V.V.V.V.V. is identified with the Logos, the Light of creation and of attainment. The role of Magus pertains to 9=2, corresponding to Chokmah, the 2nd Sephirah on the Tree of Life, reinforced by this being line 2. Much more can be studied about V.V.V.V.V. in Liber XXXIII: An Account of the A∴A∴, The Book of Lies, and Liber ABA: Magick. In the most mundane sense, it is of course the motto of Aleister Crowley as a Master of the Temple, 8=3 — Vi Veri Vniversus Vivus Vici — which means ‘By force of Truth I have conquered the Universe while living’. In relation to this line in this Holy Book, it refers to V.V.V.V.V. as the “Light of the World,” a title typically applied by Christians to Christ himself, with V.V.V.V.V. taking on the role of the bringer of the Light of Gnosis to the darkness of Earth (that of the Magus, or the bodhisattva). In Liber XXXIII: An Account of the A∴A∴, he is specifically called “the Light of the World himself, V.V.V.V.V., the One Anointed in Light, the single teacher for the human race, the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” The last phrase unambiguously identifies V.V.V.V.V. with Christ, as Christ proclaimed himself as “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). 

as a messenger unto that small dark orb: The general symbolism is that of (a) the infusion of the World with life in creation, (b) the illuminating of the darkness of ignorance through sending a being that brings the Light of Gnosis, and (c) the incarnation of a God onto earth, like the avatars of Hindu gods or like Christ as God-manifest-in-flesh.

3. Then V.V.V.V.V. taketh up the word, and sayeth:

Then V.V.V.V.V. taketh up the word: This represents the dawning of the Light of Creation. The first line represents the unutterable splendour of Kether. The second line represents the formulation of the splendour into the Light of V.V.V.V.V. in Chokmah. And now this third line represents the reception (or “taking up”) of that word in Binah. What follows from this threefold Silence is Speech. It represents the uttering of the Word of Creation. In another sense, it is the uttering of the Word of the Supernals, V.V.V.V.V., to those of Earth in order that they might attain Enlightenment.

The breaking up of the unity of the Supernal triad into words is symbolized by these previous lines being lines 1-3, correpsonding to Kether, Chokmah, and Binah. Below Binah, there is the gulf of the Abyss, below which is the multiplicity of creation, represented by the following lines.

4. Men and women of the Earth, to you am I come from the Ages beyond the Ages, from the Space beyond your vision; and I bring to you these words.

Men and women of the Earth: This line confirms that the “dark orb” previously mentioned really is the Earth, if there were any question of it until now. The particular choice of words in this line is interesting. This text addresses the “men and women of the Earth.” Compare to Liber Tzaddi‘s address to the “Children of Earth” (XC, line 3). It is, perhaps, geared more toward those who are more “matured” or prepared to tread the Path of Initiation. Crowley does describe this text’s content by saying “It is an appeal to those who, being developed beyond the average of their fellows, see fit to take up the Great Work” (Confessions, chapter 69). As yet another consideration: One of the Three Grades, as mentioned in Liber AL I:40, is the “man of Earth”; the reference might therefore be to that particular Grade in some way.

I come from the Ages beyond the Ages: This is simply a way to say “beyond Time,” or outside the category of Time. The use of capital “A”s is likely a reference to the A∴A∴, a name for the Supernal Triad, or the Eternal Order that sends V.V.V.V.V., the Light of the World.

from the Space beyond your vision: This is simply a way to say “beyond Space.” This is therefore a claim to be beyond the normal dualities of space and time, just as the Supernal Triad is understood to beyond these limits. The idea is that of the Eternal piercing the temporal, just as Christ was understood to be a temporal expression of Godhead in flesh. The difference is that we understand the “Christ,” which literally means the “anointed,” to be something that can and has appeared in many different individuals. The Light, the Word, Logos, Magus, Christ, or V.V.V.V.V. – whatever you like to call it – manifests through the many people (the “certain men” of line 6 below) who accomplish the Promethean task of bringing the Light of the Gnosis to mankind. This is the fundamental truth of Thelema that is a blasphemy in Old Aeon religions, there is not a single divine revelation in one man Christ that is confined to one particular time and place, but rather: each individual – every man and every woman – has the potential to recognize the God within themselves. Note this line which is quoted by Crowley in his Confessions: “Every man is himself the living, slain and re-arisen Christ in his own person.”

5. But they heard him not, for they were not ready to receive them.

It is understood that a characteristic of the Word being uttered is that it immediately turns to Falsehood. As it is said in another Holy Book of Thelema, Liber B vel Magi, “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.” The Word or message itself becomes distorted in attempting to speak its truth; as Crowley laments, “We have sought to reveal the Arcanum; we have only profaned it” (Liber Causae). On top of this, most cannot understand the Word. Just like in Plato’s cave, the curse of one who brings the Light is to be rejected by those who choose the darkness of ignorance.

6. But certain men heard and understood, and through them shall this Knowledge be made known.

7. The least therefore of them, the servant of them all, writeth this book.

8. He writeth for them that are ready. Thus is it known if one be ready, if he be endowed with certain gifts, if he be fitted by birth, or by wealth, or by intelligence, or by some other manifest sign. And the servants of the master by his insight shall judge of these.

9. This Knowledge is not for all men; few indeed are called, but of these few many are chosen.

10. This is the nature of the Work.

11. First, there are many and diverse conditions of life upon this earth. In all of these is some seed of sorrow. Who can escape from sickness and from old age and from death?

12. We are come to save our fellows from these things. For there is a life intense with knowledge and extreme bliss which is untouched by any of them.

13. To this life we attain even here and now. The adepts, the servants of V.V.V.V.V., have attained thereunto.

14. It is impossible to tell you of the splendours of that to which they have attained.
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.

15. Even as a man ascending a steep mountain is lost to sight of his friends in the valley, so must the adept seem. They shall say: He is lost in the clouds. But he shall rejoice in the sunlight above them, and come to the eternal snows.

16. Or as a scholar may learn some secret language of the ancients, his friends shall say: “Look! he pretends to read this book. But it is unintelligible— it is nonsense.” Yet he delights in the Odyssey, while they read vain and vulgar things.

17. We shall bring you to Absolute Truth, Absolute Light, Absolute Bliss.

18. Many adepts throughout the ages have sought to do this; but their words have been perverted by their successors, and again and again the Veil has fallen upon the Holy of Holies.

19. 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.

20. 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.

21. Nevertheless, as a fire cannot be started with iron alone, in the beginning one system may be suited for one seeker, another for another.

22. 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.





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