It is written in Liber AL vel Legis II:36, “There are rituals of the elements and feasts of the times.” Crowley comments, “The entry of the Sun into the cardinal signs of the elements at the Equinoxes and Solstices are suitable for festivals. The difference between ‘rituals’ and ‘feasts’ is this: by the one a particular form of energy is generated, while there is a general discharge of one’s superfluous force in the other. Yet a feast implies periodical nourishment.” This cycle of dramatic rituals are therefore invocations. They are intended to generate energy at the entrance of the Sun into the cardinal signs of elements at the four quarters of the year, i.e. the Equinoxes and Solstices.
The entire cycle of rituals simultaneously show:
- The macrocosmic cycle of the Sun going through the seasons
- The microcosmic cycle of Man going through the generations/Incarnation (birth/youth-adulthood-old age-death).
- The process of Attainment from 0=0 to 8=3 and back again.
The energies of each ritual correspond to each of these planes at once:
Each ritual invokes a particular energy. Each ritual has a particular Word of Power associated therewith and it is intoned in between the scenes. The Word also appears once in each ritual within a particular Scene.
Each of the four rituals has 3 scenes for a total of 12 scenes for the entire cycle, one for each of the signs of the Zodiac. The middle scene of each ritual is the sign of the Equinox or Solstice – for example, the middle scene in Autumn is Libra. The first scene is therefore Virgo, the sign before Libra, and the last scene is Scorpio, the sign after Libra. In general, the first scene represents events leading up to the Equinox or Solstice, the middle scene represents the actual turning-point, and the last scene represents events leading to the next Equinox or Solstice.
The Basic Characters
- (☉/♂) Priest/King – the conscious Self. The Child who grows to become King who attains and becomes a Priest and then dies and is reborn as the Child.
- (☽/♀) Priestess/Queen – the Non-Self (the unconscious self, the “higher self,” etc.). The Mother of the Child, the Queen/Beloved of the King, the High Priestess of the Priest.
- (+ and -) 2 Children – the duality of the World. Various roles throughout the entire cycle.
- (⊕) The People (participants) – the inhabitants of the World; they identify (at least their conscious selves) with the Priest.
THE WINTER SOLSTICE CEREMONY
Also known as “The Gate of Life”
The Word of this ceremony is ‘AUMGN.’ It is repeatedly intoned in between scenes, i.e. between Scenes 1 & 2 and between Scenes 2 & 3, by the People/Congregants. The Incense of this ceremony is Myrrh.1 The Talisman of this ceremony is the goblet(s) of Wine.
SCENE 1: Sagittarius.
The Wandering in the Wilderness.
The King is in the West, facing East. + and – are on either side of the King, holding the staff and lantern. The High Priestess sits behind the Veil in the East. The King circumambulates2 the Temple clockwise/deosil to symbolize his wandering in the wilderness.
[INTRO MUSIC: Frédéric Chopin’s Sonata, op. 35, Part III: “Marche funèbre” a.k.a. “Funeral March”]
The King approaches the East from the West in a winding or serpentine manner. + and – follow behind the King, + behind the King and in front of –.
KING: I have left my Beloved and my Kingdom in search for the Elixir of Immortality; I have wandered alone in the wilderness; I have endured the travails of the desert… The footprints of the Camel lead up this winding way to the Summit of the Mountain.
The King stops a few steps in front of the Veil, as if he was in front of the small altar in the Gnostic Mass. + and – stand on either side of the King, slightly behind him.
PRIESTESS: I am the Soul of the Desert; thou hast sought me in the wilderness of sand.3
The King turns to his right (deosil) and heads towards the West, starting his first circumambulation with + and – behind him in a line,.
KING: I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness. Make straight the Way of my Will!4
The King, halfway done with his circumambulation in the West, turns deosil back towards the East, + and – still following behind in a line, and finishes his first circumambulation while the Priestess says:
PRIESTESS: With courage conquering fear shall ye approach me.5
The King turns to his right (deosil) and heads towards the West with + and – behind him, starting his second circumambulation.
KING: By the word and the will, by the penance and the prayer, let me behold thy face.6
The King, halfway done with his circumambulation in the West, turns deosil back towards the East with + and – behind him, and finishes his second circumambulation while the Priestess says:
PRIESTESS: Fear not for aught; turn not aside for aught, eremite of Nuit, apostle of Hadit, warrior of Ra Hoor Khu!7 Only those who fear shall fail!8
The King turns to his right (deosil) and heads towards the West with + and – flanking him, starting his third circumambulation.
KING: I fear no power in heaven or upon the earth or under the earth.9 Success is my proof; courage is my armor; I shall turn not back for any!10
The King is halfway complete with his third circumambulation and stops in the West, facing East.
PRIESTESS: Many are the champions of life, but all are unhorsed by the lance of death.11
The King is stripped of his staff so that he has no support, i.e. + snaps the staff in two or throws it away and stands next to the King in the attitude of Resurrection (Osiris Risen).
PRIESTESS: Many are the children of the light, but their eyes shall all be put out by the Mother Darkness12
The King is then stripped of his lantern so he cannot see at night, i.e. – blows out the flame of the lantern and stands next to the King in the attitude of Resurrection (Osiris Risen). + and – then approach the King and remove his scarlet robe, throwing it on the floor, showing he is stripped of everything extraneous and unnecessary, i.e. the purging fire13 of asceticism. + and – then go to the sides of the Veil, and face outwards towards the West in the sign of Osiris Risen.
The King is exhausted but he persists to the East to finish his third and final circumambulation while saying:
KING: “Mighty and erect is this Will of mine [he lifts the Lance], this Pyramid of fire whose summit is lost in Heaven. Upon it have I burned the corpse of my desires!”14
PRIESTESS: “He who endures unto the end will have eternal life.”15
No Music. A light is turned out to make the Temple slightly darker. Congregants repeatedly intone ‘AUMGN’ in between scenes.
SCENE 2: Capricorn.
The Temptation of the Buddha-Christ King and the Rending of the Veil of the High Priestess
Everyone is in the same position as the end of the first scene. + now holds a “false Grail” filled with jewels, jewelry, coins, and other things indicating material wealth. – holds a “false Grail” filled with a potion (although not necessarily filled with anything, the symbolism remains). The King is three steps away from the Veil16, and with each step he undergoes a Temptation.17
The King takes his first step towards the Veil/on the dais.
+ steps down to the first step on the dais and turns to face the King, offering the “false Grail” full of coins, jewels, etc.
+: You have finished your quest. I will give you the endless pleasure of the most beautiful women of the world; I will grant you rulership over all the kingdoms of the Earth.
KING: It has been written, ‘Thou hast no right but to do thy will.’18 I am not swayed by your appeal to petty lusts. Neither pleasure nor power shall satisfy me. I seek only Nuit and will turn not aside for anything.
The King extends his Lance forward towards + (towards the South if the High Altar is in the East) to make a horizontal arm of a Cross of Light. + spins away, puts the “false Grail” away, and retreats back to the former position at the Veil in the Sign of Osiris Risen.
The King takes his second step.
– descends to the second step, turns to face the King, and offers another “false Grail” containing a potion.
–: It is also written, ‘To worship me take wine and strange drugs whereof I will tell my prophet, & be drunk thereof! They shall not harm ye at all.’19 Therefore, drink this concoction and you will not be harmed.
KING: We have been warned to shun those who would interpret the Law for us as centres of pestilence.20 I have “certainty, not faith,”21 the certainty of my own Understanding won through my own struggles. I seek not to be deceived into swaying from my own path by resting content in adhering to others’ beliefs. I seek only Nuit and will turn not aside for anything.
The King extends his Lance forward towards – (towards the North if the High Altar is in the East) to make the second horizontal arm of a Cross of Light. – spins away, puts the “false Grail” away, and retreats back to the former position at the Veil in the Sign of Osiris Risen.
The King takes his third step.
Both + and – stand outward, questioning the King on the third step.
+: O man, who art thou that wouldst penetrate the Mystery?22
–: What makes you think you are worthy to speak to the High Priestess Nuit?
+: Who attests to your authority?
–: Who attests to your attainment?
KING: I am the Holy Chosen One.23 The very Earth testifies to my attainment.
The King raises the Lance and there is the sound of a lightning strike; he then strikes the ground with the Lance and there is the sound of loud thunder; he thereby makes the two vertical portions of the Cross of Light, therefore completing the entire Cross; the Earth trembles and thunders.24
+ and – retreat to the Veil, face one another, and are ready to rend the Veil.
KING: I seek only Nuit and will turn not aside for anything!
The Veil is then rent by + and –. The High Priestess sits enthroned. She has the moon under her feet, and upon her head is a crown of twelve stars.25 The golden Holy Grail is hidden behind her.26
PRIESTESS: Lonely am I and cold in the wilderness of the stars. For I am the queen of all them that dwell in Heaven, and the queen of all them that are pure upon earth, and the queen of all the sorcerers of hell. I am the lady of the stars, the Bride of them that are vowed unto loneliness.27
KING: O Lady of the Stars! I have left my Beloved and my Kingdom; I have wandered alone in the wilderness; I have endured the travails of the desert; I have followed the footprints of the Camel to the summit of the Earth… all in search for the Elixir of Immortality.
PRIESTESS: I alone have the Wisdom wherewith the Elixir may be produced… yet it requires a sacrifice.28
The High Priestess retrieves the hidden Holy Grail that was hidden behind her, and she holds it before the King.
KING: I have been stripped of all I have. What could I give as a sacrifice?
PRIESTESS: The Elixir may only work upon those who have sacrificed their body and blood.
KING: How could eternal life be given unto them who are no longer alive? I pray that you explain this paradox.
PRIESTESS: The reasoning mind cannot pass this threshold. “If Will stops and cries Why, invoking Because, then Will stops & does nought.”29 What spurned thee to this quest?
KING: Naught but Love.
PRIESTESS: Have you no Love left?
KING: The beat of my heart is the pendulum of love. The songs of me are the soft sighs: The thoughts of me are very rapture: And my deeds are the myriads of Thy children, the stars and the atoms. Let there be nothing! Let all things drop into this ocean of love!30
PRIESTESS: Give your last particle of dust31 in the ecstasy of sacrifice! Consummate Thy rapture!32
The King stabs himself in the side33 with the Lance.
KING AND PRIESTESS: Falutli!34
The Priestess and King kiss.
The King staggers and falters, and is almost dead. The Priestess fills her Cup with the blood from the King’s wound.35
PRIESTESS: It is done!36
+: He hath drunk of the waters of death!
PRIESTESS: Not otherwise could he water the Rose.
–: He hath burnt himself at the Fires of life!
PRIESTESS: Not otherwise could he sun the Rose.37
The Priestess raises the Chalice, and the King looks up at it.
Let him look upon the cup whose blood is mingled therein, for the wine of the cup is the blood of the saints. I have spilt their blood in every corner of the earth and lo! I have mingled it in the cup of my whoredom. With the breath of my kisses hath I fermented it, and it hath become the wine of the Sacrament, the wine of the Sabbath.38
The Priestess descends to fill the Congregant’s goblets with some wine from the Grail.
[MUSIC: Benedictine monks chanting of “Ave Maria” and “Alma Redemptoris Mater”39]
PRIESTESS: In the Holy Assembly hath I poured it out for my worshipers, and they had become drunken thereon, so that face to face they beheld my Father.
+: Thus are they made worthy to become partakers of the Mystery of this holy vessel.
–: For the blood is the life!40
PRIESTESS: Death is no catastrophe; it is Love.
The High Priestess raises her Grail and motions as if drinking from it, signaling to the People that they may drink the wine in their goblets.
PRIESTESS: Death is not the end; it is Life to come!41
The Priestess, +, and – all turn to face the King with arms extended towards one another to form a Hexagon.42
PRIESTESS, +, and –: AUMGN.
[MUSIC: While this is being intoned, begin to play Gustav Holst’s “Saturn” from “The Planets,” starting around ~4:15 so the crescendo comes right after the last line]
The Priestess crowns the King.
PRIESTESS: The King is dead! Long live the King!
[MUSIC: Let Holst’s ‘Saturn’ play out]
Congregants repeatedly intone ‘AUMGN’ in between scenes.
SCENE 3: Aquarius.
The Mourning of the Mother and the Portend of the Child-Savior.
The Queen (divested of her Priestess garments, now wearing her Green robe and crown of flowers) is back at the Kingdom; she is in the throne and mourning the absence of the King.
+ and – stand to the West and look concerned and distressed.
+: She is weeping…
QUEEN: I sit solitary; I have become a widow! I weepeth sore and there is none that can comfort me! There is naught but treachery and affliction!44
The Queen gets up and starts to move towards the West.
I can neither strive nor wait. There is agony in my ears, and in my throat, and mine eyes have been so long blind that I cannot remember that there ever was such a thing as sight45. The Obelisks are broken; the stars have rushed together: the Light hath plunged into the Abyss: the Heavens are mixed with Hell… I am lost in the night of infinite pain: no hope: no God: no resurrection: no end: I fall: I fear.46
The Queen turns back towards the East and falls to her knees. + and – approach and kneel to comfort her, facing the West.
QUEEN: My mind is distraught by the bitterness of my heart.47 I doubt whether I may endure this winter storm.
The Eightfold Star48 [a Unicursal Hexagram can be substituted] then rises on the horizon (in the West) as a portend of the birth of the Child-Savior. The Queen is given Hope49 to persist through the final hours of Midnight/Winter50.
+ looks up, points with fear, and stands up.
+: Look! A great star falling from heaven, burning as if it were a lamp; it is falling upon the waters.51
+ starts to back away a few steps. – gets up and starts to back away as well while saying:
–: Beware: that is the Star called Wormwood!52 Many men will die of the waters, because they are made bitter.53
The Queen turns to look at the Star in the West, rises to her feet, and says:
QUEEN: Fear not my brothers and sisters… This is the world of the waters of Maim; this is the bitter water that becometh sweet!54
+ and – walk together to stand next to the Queen while + says:
+: Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.55
–: They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.56
QUEEN: I have dreaded this midnight of the soul, for I thought it was the end. Now I welcome the herald.57 Ay! It is the end!
[MUSIC: The beginning of Glazunov’s “Winter”]
QUEEN: …the gate of the beginning!58
[OUTRO MUSIC: Play out the first ~6 minutes of Alexander Glazunov’s “Winter” from “The Seasons,” starting from ~0:45]
1 Myrrh is attributed to Saturn. In the story of Christ, “myrrhbearers” were said to be those involved in the burial of Christ or finding his tomb, which corresponds to the Winter Solstice ceremony insofar as the King (who is identified with Christ) dies and the world enters into complete darkness of the middle of Winter.
2 These three circumambulations are seen in the Gnostic Mass before his three steps of approaching the Veil.
3 Liber LXV, IV:61.
4 A reference to Mark 1:3 and John 1:23 where it is put in the mouth of Christ, which is itself a reference to a similar line in the Old Testament, i.e. he is fulfilling the prophecy of the Redeemer.
5 Liber Tzaddi, line 16.
6 The Vision and the Voice, 20th Aethyr.
7 The Vision and the Voice, 20th Aethyr.
8 Liber Tzaddi, line 18.
9 Liber AL, III:17.
10 Adapted from Liber AL, III:46.
11 The Vision and the Voice, 19th Aethyr.
12 The Vision and the Voice, 19th Aethyr.
13 It is like the Sagittarian Arrow of aspiration soaring upwards, leaving behind the chaff.
14 The Book of Lies, chapter 15.
15 An adaptation of Matthew 10:22 and 24:13; it is also a reference to the motto of 666, “Perdurabo,” i.e. he who endures unto the End.
16 This is seen in the Gnostic Mass in the Three Steps of the Priest toward the Altar before rending the Veil.
17 These refer to the three Temptations of Christ by Satan on the Mount as well as the three Temptations of Buddha by Mara.
18 Liber AL, I:42.
19 Liber AL, II:22.
20 A reference to the Tunis Comment to The Book of the Law.
21 Liber AL, I:58.
22 The Vision and the Voice, 28th Aethyr.
23 Liber AL, I:65.
24 A form of Buddha in his pose of defying Mara, i.e. in Lotus position with one hand on the ground.
25 Revelation 12:1.
26 The Cup of Babalon that is mentioned in Book of Revelation as well as in The Vision and the Voice; it is seen in the Gnostic Mass.
27 Adapted from The Vision and the Voice, 27th Aethyr. At this point, the King believes he has found the mythical “High Priestess Nuit” mentioned in the Autumn Equinox ceremony.
28 This line shows a sinister turn of the character of the High Priestess. At first we think she is the benevolent Nuit, lady of the stars, but she is actually Babalon, the Mother of Abominations, the Great Whore, who has the blood of the saints in her Cup upon which she is intoxicated.
29 Liber AL, II:30.
30 Liber VII, V:21-28.
31 Liber AL, I:61, “For one kiss wilt thou then be willing to give all; but whoso gives one particle of dust shall lose all in that hour.”
32 Liber VII, V:30.
33 The final wound of Christ on the Cross, c.f. John 19:34, “But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water.”
34 Liber VII, V:30; Also called “The outburst of the orgasm” in The Vision and the Voice, 2nd Aethyr, and is therefore identical to “HRILIU” as seen in the Gnostic Mass.
35 This is similar to the Crucifixion scene where Christ is stabbed in the side. His blood, in this ceremony, is collected into the Chalice by the Priestess who would be Mary Magdalene in the Crucifixion (who is often identified as a prostitute).
36 A reference to Revelation 16:17 that is itself referring to Armageddon, the End, which is here identified with the death of the self, the dissolution of the ego in the Absolute whereby 8=3 may be attained.
37 This exchange comes from The Vision and the Voice, 14th Aethyr.
38 This entire exchange comes from The Vision and the Voice, 12th Aethyr.
39 These are two of the four “Marian hymns” dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Mother Mary was the Old Aeon version of the Divine Feminine, which is equivalent to Babalon, the Whore, in the New Aeon. MARIE in Greek (Marie) = 156 = BABALON in Hebrew (n(l)b)b) as well as Greek (Babalon).
40 This entire exchange comes from The Vision and the Voice, 12th Aethyr.
41 An adaptation of The Book of Lies, chapter 18, “Verily, love is death, and death is life to come.”
42 The hexagon is a 6-sided figure, which relates it to the 6th Sephirah on the Tree of Life, Tiphareth, that is attributed to Sol, Death-and-Rebirth gods (e.g. Osiris, Christ, Orpheus, Dionysus, etc.), and the Son in whom the Father is reborn (which can be seen in the Vernal Equinox ceremony). Alternately, they form a triangle with the King in the center, representing the axle of the Wheel of Jupiter or Fortune that moves not yet undergoes the triplicity symbolized by the Sphinx, Hermanubis, and Typhon (i.e. Rajas, Tamas, and Sattvas or Sulphur, Salt, and Mercury, etc.)
43 The Vision and the Voice, 27th Aethyr.
44 Adapted from Lamentations 1:1-3.
45 The Vision and the Voice, 2nd Aethyr.
46 The Vision and the Voice, 30th Aethyr.
47 Adapted from The Heart of the Master.
48 The Star of Mercury, i.e. of the Redeemer; the Morning Star.
49 As seen in Atu XVII: The Star to which is attributed the sign of Aquarius.
50 That which is depicted in Atu XVIII: The Moon.
51 Adapted from Revelation 8:10.
52 From The Heart of the Master, also a reference to Revelation 8:11, “And the name of the star is called Wormwood…”
53 Revelation 8:11.
54 Liber LXV, III:55.
55 Psalm 30:5.
56 Psalm 126:5.
57 Adapted from AHA!, “Olympas: I dread this midnight of the soul. / Marsyas: Welcome the herald!”
58 The Vision and the Voice, 29th Aethyr.