The Virgo Birthday Bash will take place at 4:18 Sunday the 26th - and
there's another Eclipse party August 6th for all you Loons... -C-
from the Grady Project:
DIARY FOR DECEMBER 1940 e.v.
[This selection is offered instead of a poem this month, from our
transcription-in-progress of Grady's early diaries. These entries, made
during Grady's senior year at Pasadena City College, document his initial
contacts with Jack Parsons and the O.T.O., amidst his other enthusiasms for
science fiction, his tobacco pipe, and the trombone. "Foxie" would later
become Grady's wife.]
TUESDAY, 17 DECEMBER: Invited down to Parsons (John W.) home this evening for
a general bull session with his partner in rocket research and Jack
Williamson. Must have drank a quart and a half of beer. Smith (Wilfred)
couldn't make it. Talked about rockets, witchcraft, etc.
THURSDAY, 19 DECEMBER: Taking notes from The Golden Bough and Mythology of
All Races at the downtown library. Took Foxie over to the LASFL [Los
Angeles Science Fiction League] Xmas party. Williamson, Leigh Brackett,
Heinlein, etc. there.
FRIDAY, 20 DECEMBER: Worked some in the physical science office for Jane.
Mimeographing. Finished reading Cabell's Jurgen. Quite the most remarkable
book I have ever read. Maybe I will understand it someday.
SATURDAY, 21 DECEMBER: Down to Jack's again tonight. Just he and I.
Comparing our poetry and reading some good verse.
SUNDAY, 22 DECEMBER: Went home by bus. Got in around 4 p.m. Glad to see the
folks. Got a can of Half & Half tobacco from Ada & Walt. Foxie gave me a set
of hair brushes some time ago and Tony gave me a can of Edgeworth Thursday.
WEDNESDAY, 25 DECEMBER: Xmas. Ate dinner at Uncle Elvier's.
SATURDAY, 28 DECEMBER: Came back to Pasadena. Get three old Astonishing
[magazines] in Hollywood.
SUNDAY, 29 DECEMBER: Returned the Equinox and Blessings of Pan to Jack.
His wife, her sister, he and I went down to the Arroyo and looked over the
C.I.T. [Cal.Tech.] rocket project and went for a hike. Had a chili supper,
heard Rites of Spring by Stravinsky, borrowed Aradia. Came home anchored
[?]. Tony down to San Marino. Picked him up walking home and ----- then got
home about 12:30 a.m.
MONDAY, 30 DECEMBER: Working for Ameringe on Geology maps.
Previous Grady Project Next Grady Project
The Orators 'ration
DE MONSTRI HUMANI
Exegesis may be defined as the critical analysis and interpretation of
a holy book (or books). The word's Indo-European roots convey the sense of
searching out, and the implication is that perhaps the actual meaning of a
scripture is not what it first appears. The holy books of every major world
religion have exegetical traditions, in some cases many centuries old. Can we
as Thelemites benefit from their obvious successes and failures, or must we
abandon their philosophical insights along with their slavery? Perhaps it is
possible to ignore their dogma and self-justifications, yet still learn
something from their logical systems and consequent recognitions of the deeper
meanings in their revelations. As Thelemites, sworn enemies of all tyranny and
oppression, we ought not hesitate to utilize to our advantage any idea that
humankind has ever had. In any case it is inevitable that Thelemites will
produce an exegetical literature based on studies of the various Holy Books.
Crowley himself set the example by commenting exhaustively on many of them. As
this body of work develops we may profit by an examination of some earlier
exegetical philosophies; in that way we may avoid the fatal mistakes of our
predecessors and sharpen the distinctions between our own concepts and the
outworn hypocrisies of the past.
Beside the Book of the Law itself the foundation of all Thelemite
exegesis is a work entitled, simply, 'THE COMMENT.' and signed by Crowley as
"The priest of the princes, Ankh-f-n-khonsu". It was first published in Tunis
in 1925 or '26 (the date in Parfitt & Drylie's Crowley Cross-Index doesn't
agree with the one in Appendix C of : The Holy Books of Thelema"). It
is quoted here in its entirety:
"Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
The study of this Book is forbidden. It is wise to destroy
this copy after the first reading.
Whosoever disregards this does so at his own risk and peril.
These are most dire.
Those who discuss the contents of this Book are to be shunned
by all, as centres of pestilence.
All questions of the Law are to be decided only by appeal to my writings, each for himself.
There is no law beyond Do what thou wilt.
Love is the law, love under will."
Crowley considered this the comment that is mentioned several times in
the Book of the Law: "My scribe Ankh-af-na-khonsu, the priest of the princes,
shall not in one letter change this book; but lest there be folly, he shall
comment thereupon by the wisdom of Ra-Hoor-Khu-it." (I:36) / "All this and a
book to say how thou didst come hither and a reproduction of this ink and
paper for ever - for in it is the word secret & not only in the English - and
thy comment upon this the Book of the Law shall be printed beautifully in red
ink and black upon beautiful paper made by hand; and to each man and woman
that thou meetest, were it but to dine or drink at them, it is the Law to
give. Then they shall chance to abide in this bliss or no; it is no odds. Do
this quickly! But the work of the comment? That is easy; and Hadit burning in
thy heart shall make swift and secure thy pen." (III:39-40) / "The fool
readeth this Book of the Law, and its comment; & he understandeth it not."
(III:63). The implication is that the words of this brief and even whimsical
comment are inspired by the wisdom of Ra-Hoor-Khu-it and the inner flame of
Hadit. Like any holy book this Class A comment is open to interpretation. Is
it a joke? Is it serious? I think perhaps the joke is that it is serious.
Service to Ra Hoor Khuit is fully described in III:62, "To Me do ye reverence!
to me come ye through tribulation of ordeal, which is bliss." The founders and
true practitioners of most religions, even the most unwarlike, have had to
face battle and prove their bravery, albeit in a multitude of ways. The saint
of meekness draws strength from the sufferings of Jesus; the saint of
obedience finds inspiration in Allah's conquests as performed through
Muhammed. The measure of these respective saints' success is in how well they
emulate heir exemplars. Should we not rightly expect much greater trials for
the saints of freedom? when they seek to serve the Crowned & Conquering Child,
All Victorious, "Supreme and terrible God, Who makest the gods and death to
tremble before Thee". And if the tribulation of their ordeal is truly bliss
then He may indeed grant triumph to their wills, but only so long as their
wills are His. Nothing succeeds like success; everything fails in failure.
What 'THE COMMENT.' itself suggests to me are these two fundamentals
for a Thelemite exegesis:
1) THERE ARE NO FINAL INTERPRETATIONS - If one is unprepared to take the
advice of III:16, "Deem not too eagerly to catch the promises; fear not to
undergo the curses. Ye, even ye, know not this meaning all.", then one is
probably not ready for the spiritual consequences of a personal relationship
to the Book of the Law. Healthy personal relationships are based on acceptance
of change within a framework of mutual support; when applied to the Book of
the Law this means an ever evolving understanding and an ever expanding
reverence. The novice Thelemite comes to the Law as a fool, understanding
nothing, but "Let him come through the first ordeal, & it will be to him as
silver. Through the second, gold. Through the third, stones of precious water.
Through the fourth, ultimate sparks of the intimate fire." (III:64-67). In
this process we face no deadlier dogmas than those we call our own. It's a
very short step from "finally knowing" what the Book means to telling everyone
else what it means. Truly it would be better to tell everyone what it means
when you still haven't the slightest insight as to what you're actually
talking about! That way at least people can take it as a joke and laugh at
2) THERE ARE NO INCORRECT INTERPRETATIONS - We can find clues to
understanding the Book of the Law in the Prophet's writings, but the dogmas of
Orthodoxy must never be allowed to intrude upon any individual's understanding
of the Book. In the hands of an extremist this moral principle becomes that
demon called the Dogma of No Dogmas, which is actually among the most
insidious of all possible dogmas; it can only be combated by the freedom of
each person to accept and/or reject at any time any dogma which pleases them. We ought not to let dogma itself distract us from the real crime, which is the
imposition of one person's dogma upon another. No person has a valid basis on
which to decide that another's particular understandings of the Book of the
Law are correct or incorrect, but if any understanding should lead its
adherents to try to thwart my rights then I have the right to kill them, even
though I may choose to exercise it only in the most extreme of cases. We must
not tolerate Orthodoxy, but we needn't for that reason excuse folly just
because it wraps itself in Thelema. What happens to those fools who
obstinately persist in misunderstanding the Book of the Law is described in
II:27, "There is great danger in me; for who doth not understand these runes
shall make a great miss. He shall fall down into the pit called Because, and
there he shall perish with the dogs of Reason."
Using these ground rules Thelemite exegesis must by definition be
intensely personal; however, it is not therefore necessary that it be entirely
private. In fact, there are times when at least some interpretations must be
made public in order to prevent the misconceptions of fools from endangering
our very physical existences! Of particular importance in this regard is the
third chapter of the Book of the Law. We all know what could result from
taking the word of Heru-ra-ha as a literal blueprint for action on the
physical plane. "Trample down the Heathen; be upon them, o warrior, I will
give you of their flesh to eat!" (III:11) / "Mercy let be off: damn them who
pity! Kill and torture; spare not; be upon them!" (III:18) / "I will be at
your arms in battle & ye shall delight to slay." (III:46) are just three of
many passages that taken as literal license would surely engender horrific
consequences. Thus, Thelemite literalists are as dangerous to the other
members of our species as Christian literalists, Hindu and Moslem literalists,
or any other slaves of "THE WORD". And, in addition to the threat they pose to
individuals, the actions of Thelemite literalists are weapons in the hands of
our enemies, who seek to slander, libel, and persecute us all. Being
literalists themselves our enemies cannot conceive of a religious movement
based on spiritual rather than semantic values. Here, I think, is where some
of the medieval concepts of Qabalist exegesis may serve us especially well, in
both our defense and our communal progress. One such concept in particular is
a focus of this presentation [for more on some of these concepts in general,
see G.G. Scholem, "On the Kabbalah and Its Symbolism" (1965)].
There is a story in the Talmud about four great rabbis who entered
paradise. One saw and died, the second saw and lost his reason, the third
became an apostate and misled the youth. Only Rabbi Akiba entered in peace and
came out in peace. In the hands of Moses de Leon, rabbi and revealer of the
illuminating Zohar, this story is used as the basis for an understanding of
holy writ. The Hebrew word for paradise (literally, garden or orchard) is
'pardes', spelt . These four letters were employed by De Leon to represent
four levels of meaning.
Peh  stands for 'peshat', the plain or literal
meaning; this is the predominant, and often obsessive, attitude of those (like
some fundamentalist Christians and Muslims) who insist that every word of
their scripture is factually accurate. Resh  begins the word 'remez', the
hinted or allegorical meaning, though one of De Leon's anonymous heirs here
substitutes 'reiyoth', insights; this is the predominant attitude of those
(like some Unitarians and Reform Jews) who use their scripture as a repository
of symbols for human psychological processes like guilt, self-sacrifice, and
spiritual renewal. Daleth  represents 'derasha', homiletic or legalistic
interpretation; this is the predominant attitude of those (like some Orthodox
Jews and Sunni Muslims) who see their scripture as a guide to wise and
judicious decision-making, in both public and private life, an instructive
mixture of history, legend, and parable, suitable for teaching long term
values and practical ethics to each new generation. Finally Samekh  , the
last letter of 'pardes', is the initial letter of the word 'sod', the secret
or mystical meaning; this is the predominant attitude of those (like the
mystics of every scriptural tradition) who value their scripture not because
it is divinely inspired, but because it inspires them with the Divine. This system of four levels of meaning is a common method of interpreting the Torah, compatible with the Qabalist concept of the Four
Worlds. But how are we to attribute the correspondence of level to World?
There is the story, told by the same anonymous heir of Rabbi Moses de Leon
mentioned above, which connects the four levels of scriptural interpretation
with the four rivers of Eden as well as with the four rabbis who entered
paradise. De Leon's successor tells us that the first rabbi went into the
river Pishon , which name is taken to mean "the mouth that learns
exactly" and hence the literal level of meaning. The second rabbi went into
the river Gihon , which is referred to allegory and symbolism. The
third rabbi went into the river Hiddekel , from "sharp, deft", which
refers to the drawing of a moral lesson or legal precedent from scripture. The
fourth rabbi went into the Euphrates , which name is connected to the
innermost kernel; this rabbi, who achieved mystical understanding of the
Torah, was the only one to enter and return without harm. This story allows us
to use the 777 correspondences between the Four Worlds and the four rivers,
and thus attribute them both to the four levels of meaning. Using this method,
our Peh-Resh-Daleth-Samekh can be respectively identified with the Four
Atziluth , Briah , Yetzirah , and Assiah .
What are some of the implications of this identification for Thelemite
exegesis? In the Tree of Life arrangement labelled 'The Constitution of Man'
(reproduced in Regardie's edition of "Magick Without Tears") both Atziluth
(the archetypal World from which all the others emanate) and Briah (the
creative World which interfaces between pure archetype and actual existence)
are placed above the Abyss by Crowley; Yetzirah (the World of formation,
peopled by the Angels and Divine Principles) he corresponds to the six central
Sephiroth which make up Ruach , and Assiah (the World of action, home for
both matter and the Qlipoth) to the Sephira Malkuth . If we substitute
the four levels of interpretation for the Four Worlds in this arrangement we
find that both the literal and the allegorical levels of meaning are above the
Abyss. Does this mean that a literal understanding of scripture is possible
only above the Abyss? I think yes; to comprehend the contradictions of a
'sepher ha-Torah' ("book of the Law") requires, as the Buddhist sutra says,
"reaching the far side of the river". This seems contrary to the common sense
which tells us that a literal interpretation should correspond with the
material plane while the esoteric meaning is inherently of the archetypal
plane. But this sort of common sense is misleading when it comes to exegesis,
just as it is in the cases of post-Copernican astronomy and post-Einsteinian
physics. In remarkably many of the most important areas of human thought we
find that both strict logical analysis and sweet poetic imagination conspire
to overthrow our everyday assumptions and their mundane conclusions.
Does this also mean that we may never take literally any of the Book
of the Law's commands? Well, if by "never' you mean "sometimes" then my answer
again is yes. Once more, the framework of the Four Worlds is instructive.
Within each World there are another Four Worlds; therefore, in Atziluth's
sphere of Assiah one might suppose a literal/mystic meaning must be apparent.
Consider II:36-44, "There are rituals of the elements and feasts of the times.
A feast for the first night of the Prophet and his Bride! A feast for the
three days of the writing of the Book of the Law. A feast for Tahuti and the
child of the Prophet - secret, O Prophet! A feast for the Supreme Ritual, and
a feast for the Equinox of the Gods. A feast for fire and a feast for water; a
feast for life and a greater feast for death! A feast every day in your hearts
in the joy of my rapture! A feast every night unto Nu, and the pleasure of
uttermost delight! Aye! feast! rejoice! there is no dread hereafter. There is
the dissolution, and eternal ecstasy in the kisses of Nu." Now, the literal
act of feasting according to this passage might perhaps in some way help to
bring you to that quite mystical understanding of Aiwass' revelation which is
proper to Assiah. But to miss the deeper meaning of these words and see
instead a mere catalogue of holidays and an invitation to non-stop partying
would be a terrible mistake; just as it is a mistake to think that a literal enaction of the Law is necessarily effective or even desirable on the physical
plane. Overeating, even in the name of Thelema, can still cause indigestion.
Ritually sacrificing a human child, no matter to what god, can still cause
execution for murder. The seekers who live with a scripture in peace, who
survive this study with their integrity and reason intact are those who are
able to use primarily the most hidden scriptural meanings as a basis for
actual behavior in Malkuth. Still, the mystic's apprehension of holy writ must
also include moral and mental precepts, allegories which operate on
imagination, and even, where called for, literal obedience (try this
experiment: obtain a copy of the Book of the Law in an edition which includes
THE COMMENT; read this particular copy aloud in its entirety once, and then
burn it up completely; how does it make you feel? foolish? frightened?
fescennine? or free?).
And yet, a common feature of saints' lives throughout history has been
the inexplicability of some of their actions. A number, of course, have lost
their reason, but others may have had reasons aplenty. After all, if the words
of scripture are only to be truly understood mystically in this World of
action, then, on an archetypal level, those very same words must be literally
true! We ought to avoid mixing up our understandings of the planes, but yet,
are there not still many cases of natural interaction between the planes? In
such cases the only proof is success, but then we must ask, 'whose success?'.
For Ra Hoor Khuit, "There is success." For us, well, we do the best we can,
and, ultimately, are forced to leave it go at that.
What I have tried to show in this brief essay is the possible
relevance for Thelemites of the concept of exegesis, and to detail a single
example of Qabalist exegetical technique. I have tried to use this one
technique as a tool for understanding the Book of the Law. Many other like
tools exist; I would that this one example might inspire others (and
especially my Self) to pick them up and use them.--- Frater Faustus
Previous Orators 'ration Next Orators 'ration
Presenting a song lyric without the music, that is,
THE HALF LYRE:
|There was a man who walked off the road|
|onto a twisted path|
|His feet kept stumbling over thickets & stones|
|His flashlight, dimming fast|
|and where he stepped was wavering|
|in the halflight of the Moon|
|The distant dogs were baying all night|
|through the silence of his tomb|
|He won't play nice|
|He can't sit quiet|
|He wants to lead you to your doom|
|He knows the secret|
|He'd like to tell you,|
|make you a member of his crew|
|I've got to warn you|
|He might deceive you|
|and give you everything that you desire|
|He'll be your lawyer,|
|write up the papers|
|Just sign in blood and take the key|
|to the silence of your tomb. |
Previous Half Lyre Next Half Lyre
From the Outbasket
How can I begin to learn about the Gods and Goddesses of Egypt? --- from a
Here's an edited version of some general advice on the subject.
You need to read widely, and any book on ancient Egypt will be of some
help. The more serious references on the subject are heavy going. There are
so many deities in the ancient Egyptian pantheon that it is confusing to read
about many of them at the same time. Usually the best approach is to learn
about a few in general interest books. Look them up in a more encyclopedic
source like Budge's two volumes The Gods of the Egyptians (Dover Press). Next
study the prayers and stories in the Egyptian Book of the Dead (Budge, Dover
The Egyptian Book of the Dead or Champdor, Garrett Publications The Book of
the Dead) to see them in settings of ritual. Histories of Egypt and studies
of mythology are useful after that.
One thing you need to know: The Egyptian deities all started out as patron
deities and small pantheons connected to ancient (often pre-historic) tribes
and cities. That means that each Egyptian deity is a complete personality
with the full range of human characteristics and special interests. Over time
the distinctions became blurred and conquest or commercial dominance
subordinated some cities and tribes to others. The deities of the conquerors
rose in ascendancy over the deities of the conquered. As fortune changed
through the many centuries, various deities were overturned by others through
political change. Thus, Ptah is paramount in ancient days, Horus is greatest
in some periods, Ra in others, Set in still others, etc. Throughout, the
individual deities retain simplified characteristics, and the myths connected
to them are elaborated. This is in no way different from human verbal history
and is in fact nothing more than a distant product of the oral traditions of
those who came at the beginning of Egyptian history. We tend to remember
people of the past for the remarkable things that were said about them, not
for the common human qualities that all people share. In the passage of the
ages, these remarkable qualities crowd out the ordinary. S., for example,
gradually ceased to be the tough minded and high spirited lady people were
still talking about generations after she died. She became a saint the
village girls beseeched to aid them in becoming strong willed and healthy in
the work of the day. Later still S. became a deity of the force and power of
the sun in the mid-day heat, a lioness of great powers of protection and great
violence when brought to anger. When the village was absorbed into a larger
state, this abstract version of S. was about all that was retained. She then
took her place in the pantheon of Ancient Egypt as the goddess of the heat of
the mid-day sun; lioness headed and dangerous for sun stroke but powerful in
protection and force. Perhaps the whole thing began for S. with a girl
advising that a fight between two villages be delayed until noon. Her people
of the nearer village could then get water and shade, while those of the
farther village would have to trudge through the devastating heat. This would
have given advantage to the local villagers, and the whole mythology of the
goddess S. may have derived from that. The original story would have been
forgotten over time.
Need some place to start? See if you can discover the identity of the
goddess mentioned as "S." in the above paragraph.
-- TSG (Bill Heidrick)
Previous Outbasket Next Outbasket
Events Calendar for August 1990 e.v.
|8/2/90||"777" Chinese Attributions 8 PM||Hypatia Camp|
|8/3/90||Initiations Workshop Zero Deg 8 PM||Thelema Ldg.|
|8/5/90||Gnostic Mass at Sunset||Thelema Ldg.|
|8/6/90||Eclipse Party||Thelema Ldg.|
|8/7/90||Lamas Bash at Battery Alexander||Thelema Ldg.|
|8/10/90||Rites of Eleusis organization meet.||Thelema Ldg.|
|8/12/90||Gnostic Mass at Sunset||Thelema Ldg.|
|8/12/90||Feast of the Beast and his Bride|
$5 - $10 donation Chicken Dinner
to support the Lodge 4:18 PM
|8/15/90||Magick & Qabalah # 5 with Bill 8 PM||Thelema Ldg.|
|8/16/90||Lodge of Perfection meeting||LOP|
|8/17/90||Initiations Workshop 3rd Deg 8 PM||Thelema Ldg.|
|8/19/90||Gnostic Mass & Lodge Cleanup Sunset||Thelema Ldg.|
|8/21/90||Play reading: Friar Bacon & Friar|
Bungay by R. Greene 7:30 PM
|8/22/90||Magick & Qabalah # 6 with Bill 8 PM||Thelema Ldg.|
|8/24/90||Introduction to Trance 8 PM Bro.M.||Thelema Ldg.|
|8/26/90||Virgo Birthday party 4:18 PM||Thelema Ldg.|
|8/26/90||Gnostic Mass at Sunset||Thelema Ldg.|
|8/30/90||Thelema Lodge Meeting 8 PM||Thelema Ldg.|
The viewpoints and opinions expressed herein are the responsibility of the
contributing authors and do not necessarily reflect the position of OTO or its
Ordo Templi Orientis
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