Liber Tzaddi vel Hamus Hermeticus sub figura XC

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Basic Information

Title: Liber Tzaddi vel Hamus Hermeticus sub figura XC

Date written: 1911

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

Crowley’s descriptions

  • “An account of Initiation, and an indication as to those who are suitable for the same.”
    —Liber 207: A Syllabus of the Official Instructions of the A∴A∴
  • “XC. Tzaddi means a fish-hook. ‘I will make you fishers of men.'”
    —Liber 207: A Syllabus of the Official Instructions of the A∴A∴
  • “The Book of the Hermetic Fish-Hook summons mankind to undertake the Great Work. It describes the conditions of initiation and its results in language of great poetic power.”
    Confessions, chapter 69

Firstly, Crowley says that Liber Tzaddi is “An account of Initiation.” Liber Causae defines initiation as “the process by which a man comes to learn that unknown Crown”; it is therefore synonymous with the path of Attainment, the Great Work, and other similar phrases. In Confessions, Crowley confirms this idea by saying the book’s purpose is to “summon mankind to undertake the Great Work.” This explains the title “Tzaddi,” as it literally means “fish-hook,” and it is used as a symbol of “hooking” those who are suitable to undergo the path of initiation to become Adepts. The “initiator” and speaker of this text is therefore Horus in conformity with Liber AL, I:49, “Hoor in his secret name and splendour is the Lord initiating.”

Title

“Liber Tzaddi vel Hamus Hermeticus sub figura XC”

It is usually called “Liber XC” by Crowley and, contemporarily, it is usually referred to as “Liber Tzaddi.”

TranslationBook Tzaddi or the Book of the Hermetic Fish-hook of the number 90.

Tzaddi: Tzaddi is a Hebrew letter that enumerates to 90 and means “fish-hook.” It is used in this text as a metaphor for the process of “hooking” people to the Great Work, the path of initiation. The quotation of “I will make you fishers of men” is a reference to Matthew 4:18-20, “And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. And they straightway left their nets, and followed him.” To be a fisher of men means to bring them to the Kingdom of Heaven, to initiate them. The fish-hook therefore represents the initiation of man. It may be added that, in accordance with Liber AL I:57, Tzaddi is attributed to “Atu IV: The Emperor” in the Tarot, whose sign is Aries, reinforcing the “force and fire” of Horus as Initiator. 

90: 90 is the enumeration of the letter Tzaddi in Hebrew. Its specific meaning as “fish-hook” is given by Crowley in Liber 207: A Syllabus of the Official Instructions of the A∴A∴. Other words that enumerate to 90 given in Sepher Sephiroth do not appear to be significantly tied to the meaning of the title or content of Liber Tzaddi. Liber LVIII gives this explanation: “90. Number of Tzaddi, a fishhook = Tanha, the clinging of man to life, the trap in which man is caught as a fish is caught by a hook. The most material aspect of animal life; its final doom decreed by its own lust. Also MIM, Water.” This reinforces that “Tzaddi” means “fish-hook,” but here Crowley gives an “averse” interpretation of the fish-hook as tanha – the Buddhist term for “thirst,” “craving,” or “desire” – which binds man to samsara, the “trap in which man is caught” of the material world of the profane (i.e. those who haven’t undertaken the Great Work). The “upright” meaning already discussed and mentioned in Liber 207 is, again, that the fish-hook is the Initiator’s “hook” to those who are suitable for initiation. The reference to “MIM, Water” does not appear to significantly play into this Holy Book except perhaps line 26, “This also is compassion: an end to the sickness of earth. A rooting-out of the weeds: a watering of the flowers.”

Basic Structure

This Holy Book has a total of 45 lines, although the first line is marked as zero, making the final line to be number 44. 44 is a special number of Horus, reinforcing the fact that it is He who is the “speaker” in this Holy Book. 44 is primarily “DM” (Hebrew transliterated into English), which means “blood.” As it is said in Liber AL, III:11, “Worship me with fire & blood… let blood flow to my name.” Further, chapter 44 of The Book of Lies is “The Mass of the Phoenix” which includes a poetic invocation of Horus. In the commentary to this chapter Crowley writes, “This is the special number of Horus; it is the Hebrew blood, and the multiplication of the 4 by the 11, the number of Magick, explains 4 in its finest sense.” Further, in Liber Reguli, which is “an incantation proper to invoke the Energies of the Aeon of Horus,” there are a total of 44 knocks, 4 sets of 11. 

Liber Tzaddi both begins and ends with an identical line: “In the name of the Lord of Initiation. Amen.” We know from many sources, primarily Liber AL I:49, that Horus is the “Lord of Initiation” in this Aeon. 

 There are no chapters in this Holy Book but, as in many Holy Books, there are certain lines that seem to constitute different “sections.” These sections are not authoritative or canonical in any way, but they represent ways to break up the Holy Book to understand it better. These are given in the following section with further commentary on each section.

Further Commentary

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