Thelema Lodge Calendar for February 1995 e.v.
Thelema Lodge Calendar
for February 1995 e.v.The viewpoints and opinions expressed herein are the responsibility of the contributing authors and do not necessarily reflect the position of OTO or its officers.Copyright © O.T.O. and the Individual Authors, 1995 e.v.
Ordo Templi Orientis
Berkeley, CA 94702 USA
February 1995 e.v. at Thelema Lodge Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
Lodge Members and Officers
The Flowing of the Springs
A ritual in celebration of Brigit will be held early Saturday afternoon 4th
February, as Sol achieves fifteen degrees of Aquarius. We hope for an
outdoor event (weather permitting), in the fresh green hills of eastern
Oakland. Contact Terri or Andy, or call Oz House at (510) 654-3580 for
information, and meet there before noon for coordinated transportation on the
morning of the event. All attending should bring natural food offerings for
the ritual; bread, juice (no alcohol), cheese, and vegetables are suggested,
packed to be carried for a short distance.
Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica
The Gnostic Mass on Sunday evenings is the continuing celebration at the
heart of our lodge community, and this is one of the best times for new
visitors to meet the lodge. Aleister Crowley's Mass of the Gnostic Catholic
Church is an open communion ritual, with attendance open to all who are
willing to participate with us. Those not in touch with the lodge are
requested to call us ahead of time for directions and information; the number
is (510) 652-3171. Mass teams are invited to contact the lodge master for
scheduling to officiate in Horus Temple.
To promote the continuing understanding of our mass, Ecclesia Gnostica
Catholica activities in Horus Temple include an informal monthly study group
where the questioning and comprehension of Liber XV can be shared by all
interested students and celebrants. Bishop T Dionysus offers his guidance for
our research, and the group meets to share results in the lodge library on
Wednesday evening 22nd February at 8:00. One likely topic for the next few
meetings is the Order's new edition of the mass, now available as an appendix
to Book Four in the recent Weiser publication.
Initiation in Ordo Templi Orientis will be held on Saturday evening 4th
February, beginning at 7:30. The lodge requests that all attending make
advance arrangements with one of the lodge officers, or call ahead at (510)
652-3171. The ritual will end in a feast for all involved. Next month we
will also have initiations scheduled on the first Saturday evening, 4th March
(march forth!), at 6:00. Members are invited to keep in touch with the lodge
regarding dates for future initiations they would like to attend or assist
Candidates for initiation in Ordo Templi Orientis signify their intention
by submission of the appropriate application form. If this form is mailed
directly to the Order's Initiation Secretary, then a copy must be provided to
the lodge master with its posting date noted; otherwise the lodge master will
accept applications and forward them to Grand Lodge. There is a mandatory
forty-day period of candidacy following application, and candidates are
expected to keep in touch with the lodge during this time to coordinate dates
for their initiations. Thelema Lodge does not collect dues or fees ahead of
time; these are to be paid in full at the time the initiation is performed.
Groups and Gatherings
What does it mean to join a magical order? What are we doing here? These
and other more practical issues will be addressed at Frater Majnun's Minerval
Magick Class on Tuesday evening 14th February at 8:00 in the lodge library.
Open to all but directed to the concerns of newer members, this group will
take a look at some of the possibilities for magical practice and fraternal cooperation within the O.T.O. Minerval initiates and applicants are
especially encouraged to attend, with future meetings possible if requested.
Brother Bill Heidrick will continue his long-running series on Aleister
Crowley's Magick in Theory and Practice this month, meeting at his home in
Marin on Wednesday evening 15th February. Class begins at 7:30, with first-
time attendants advised to call Bill at (415) 454-5176 for directions. We
will be going on from Appendix V into the short set of tables and the rituals
after them. We will also look at the new Weiser edition of Book Four with the
expanded text of M.T.P. which it contains.
Shakespeare's last major play, The Tempest, recommended to the A A for
its treatment of the role of the magus, the limits of enchantment and of
elemental operations, and the disciplines of erotic magic, is our subject for
discussion and inquiry at the Thelema Lodge Section Two reading group this
month. Gather at Oz House with Caitlin and Frater P.I. on Monday evening 13th
February at 8:00. Participants are invited to read the play beforehand if
possible; we will be reading only selected scenes together as we construct an
analysis of Shakespeare's myth of the magus, and its relation to the workings
of John Dee and other contemporary magicians.
Previous Section Two Next Section Two
Grace will host the Thelema Lodge zodiacal expedition into "The Astrology
of Pisces" on Friday evening 24th February in Berkeley. Look beneath the
surface, moving in some other parallel time, sensitive to another sort of
touch, into the Realm of the Fish. Pisces more than many signs seems to
resist inspection, but Grace will show us where to cast our lines into
Neptune's slithery depths and come to an appreciation of the undersea world.
Open house is from 7:00 to 9:00 PM, with all attending asked to make advance
contact with Grace at (510) 843-STAR.
The Grady L. McMurtry Poetry Society meets in the library at Thelema Lodge
on Saturday evening 25th February at 7:30. (The following notice, entitled
"The Importance of Being Poetic," has been provided by Brother Ernie Tam.) On
one early Saturday evening each month a small group of oddly burning
individuals gather themselves at the hearth of the muses and read poems to
each other. These poems may be anything from classics to limericks, modern
masters to original compositions. What they all share is the attempt to
express the light of some beauty or eternal truth which has been glimpsed, if
even dimly, and must therefore be communicated. Some of these poems may warm
your heart or set your mind aflame, while others may chill you to the bone,
and yet the very same verses may have had a very different effect upon your
comrades. But what all of these comrades share is the willingness to offer
themselves as kindling. It takes very little to ignite a roaring fire; one
spark, to be exact. Which one will set you ablaze?
The Butterfly Net and Thelema Lodge Computer Users' Group meets Thursday
evening 16th February at 8:00 in the library. All are welcome to share
programs, problems, and results.
The lodge offers open library nights at least twice monthly, with members
and friends encouraged to make use of our extensive study facilities. These
Library Nights are tentatively scheduled for the calendar, from 8:00 to 10:00
on Thursday 9th February and Monday 20th February. The dates are sometimes
changed by request, so call the lodge a day or two ahead whenever planning to
Sirius Oasis meets in Berkeley on Wednesday evening 8th February at 8:00.
Initiations and other O.T.O. events are being planned by this independently
chartered group, with assistance welcome from members. Call the Oasis Master
at (510) 527-2855 for information and directions. Thelema Lodge will conduct
a brief business and scheduling meeting on Monday evening 6th February at
8:00, with Lodge History Night to follow. All members are asked to consider
that our lodge is only what we make of it, and that continual experimentation
and fresh ideas are necessary for us to succeed in meeting the needs of our
Thelemic community. Offers to instruct classes in subjects of individual
expertise, or to facilitate discussion groups for shared study, are of great
value to the lodge. But more valuable still is the spirit of sustained
interest we share, joining and encouraging each other in our work, ritual, and
reading together. Requests and ideas for lodge events may be outlined at the
lodge meeting, or with one of the lodge officers beforehand. Notes for events
to be described in the calendar should be provided to the lodge master no
later than this meeting.
The Sustaining Members' luncheon meeting returns this month. Lodge members
and friends are invited to avail themselves of this special opportunity to
generously support Horus Temple and Thelema Lodge. While the donations of all
who attend lodge events are solicited in the voluntary collections taken up at
many events --- and this is our primary means of funding the lodge --- we would
not be able to sustain the facilities we enjoy without the extra efforts of
the Sustaining Members. Speak with the lodge officers for details, then join
us for lunch on Sunday afternoon 12th February at 1:00.
The origin of this essay is uncertain, but it appeared in 1904 e.v. in The
Sword of Song, appended as a "Note" to the "Introduction" to Crowley's long poem "Ascension Day and Pentecost." Two years later the whole of The Sword of
Song was reprinted in the second volume of Crowley's Works. We offer part one in this issue, with the conclusion of the piece scheduled to appear next month.
William Shakespeare: An Appreciation1
by Aleister Crowley
IT is a lamentable circumstance that so many colossal brains (W. H. Mallock,
&c.) have been hitherto thrown away in attacking what is after all a problem
of mere academic interest, the authorship of the plays our fathers accepted as
those of Shakespeare. To me it seems of immediate and vital importance to do
for Shakespeare what Verrall has done so ably for Euripides. The third
tabernacle must be filled; Shaw and "the Human" must have their Superhuman
companion. (This is not a scale: pithecanthropoid innuendo is to [be]
Till now --- as I write the sun bursts forth suddenly from a cloud, as if
heralding the literary somersault of the twentieth century --- we have been
content to accept Shakespeare as orthodox, with common sense; moral to a
fault, with certain Rabelaisian leanings: a healthy tone (we say) pervades his
work. Never believe it! The sex problem is his Speciality; a morbid
decadence (so-called) is hidden i' th' heart o' th' rose. In other words, the
divine William is the morning star to Ibsen's dawn, and Bernard Shaw's
The superficial, the cynical, the misanthropic will demand proof of such a
statement. Let it be our contemptuous indulgence to afford them what they
May I premise that, mentally obsessed, monomaniac indeed, as we must now
consider Shakespeare to have been on these points, he was yet artful enough to
have concealed his advanced views --- an imperative necessity, if we consider
the political situation, and the virginal mask under which Queen Bess hid the
grotesque and hideous features of a Messaline. Clearly so, since but for this
concealment even our Shakespearian scholars would have discovered so patent a
fact. In some plays, too, of course, the poet deals with less dangerous
topics. These are truly conventional, no doubt; we may pass them by; they are
foreign to our purpose; but we will take that stupendous example of literary
subterfuge --- King Lear.
Let me digress to the history of my own conversion.
Syllogistically: All great men (e.g. Shaw) are agnostics and subverters of
morals. Shakespeare was a great man. Therefore Shakespeare was an agnostic
and a subverter of morals.
A priori this is then certain. But ---
Who killed Rousseau?
I, said Huxley
(Like Robinson Crusoe),
With arguments true, --- so
I killed Rousseau!
Beware of a priori! Let us find our facts, guided in the search by a priori methods, no doubt; but the result will this time justify us.
Where would a man naturally hide his greatest treasure? In his most perfect treasure-house.
Where shall we look for the truest thought of a great poet? In his
What is Shakespeare's greatest play? King Lear.
In King Lear, then, we may expect the final statement of the poet's mind.
The passage that first put me on the track of the amazing discovery for which
the world has to thank me is to be found in Act I, Scene ii, ll. 132-149:
"This is the excellent foppery of the world, that, when we are sick in
fortune --- often the surfeit of our own behaviour --- we make guilty of our
disasters the sun, the moon, and the stars; as if we were villains by
necessity, fools by heavenly compulsion, knaves, thieves, and treachers by
spherical predominance, drunkards, liars, and adulterers by an enforced
obedience of planetary influence; and all that we are evil in, by a divine
thrusting on: an admirable evasion of whoremaster man, to lay his goatish
disposition to the charge of a star! My father compounded with my mother
under the dragon's tail, and my nativity was under ursa major; so that it
follows I am rough and lecherous. 'Sfoot! I should have been that I am had
the maidenliest star in the firmament twinkled on my bastardizing."
If there is one sound philosophical dictum in the play, it is this. (I am
not going to argue with astrologers in the twentieth century.)
It is one we can test. On questions of morality and religion opinions
veer; but if Shakespeare was a leader of thought, he saw through the humbug of
star-gazers; if not, he was a credulous fool; not the one man of his time, not
a "debauched genius" (for Sir R. Burton in this phrase has in a sense
anticipated my discovery) but a mere Elizabethan.
This is the greatest poet of all time? Then we must believe that
Gloucester was right, and that eclipses caused the fall of Lear! Observe that
before this Shakespeare has had a sly dig or two at magic. In King John, "My
lord, they say five moons were seen tonight" --- but there is no eyewitness.
So in Macbeth. In a host of spiritual suggestion there is always the rational
sober explanation alongside to discredit the folly of the supernatural.
Shakespeare is like his own Touchstone; he uses his folly as a stalking-
horse, and under the presentation of that he shoots his wit.
Here, however, the mask if thrown off for any but the utterly besotted;
Edmund's speech stands up in the face of all time as truth; it challenges the
acclamation of the centuries.
Edmund is then the hero; more, he is Shakespeare's own portrait of himself;
his ways are dark (and, alas! his tricks are vain!) --- for why? For the fear
of the conventional world about him.
He is illegitimate: Shakespeare is no true child of that age, but born in
defiance of it and its prejudices.
Having taken this important step, let us slew round the rest of the play to
fit it. If it fits, the law of probability comes to our aid; every
coincidence multiplies the chance of our correctness in ever increasing
proportion. We shall see --- and you may look up your Proctor --- that if the
stars are placed just so by chance, not law, then also it may be possible that
Shakespeare was the wool-combing, knock-kneed, camel-backed, church-going,
plaster-of-Paris stick-in-the-mud our scholars have always made of him.
Edmund being the hero, Regan and Goneril must be the heroines. So nearly
equal are their virtues and beauties that our poet cannot make up his mind
which shall possess him --- besides which, he wishes to drive home his
arguments in favor of polygamy.
But the great theme of the play is of course filial duty; on this
everything will turn. Here is a test: Whenever this question is discussed, let us see who speaks the language of sense, and who that of draggle-tailed emotionalism and tepid melodrama.
In the first scene the heroines, who do not care for the old fool their
father --- as how could any sane woman? Remember Shakespeare is here about to
show the folly of filial love as such --- feel compelled, by an act of gracious generosity to a man they despise, yet pity, to say what they think will please
the dotard's vanity. Also no doubt the sound commercial instinct was touched
by Lear's promise to make acres vary as words, and they determine to make a
final effort to get some parsnips buttered after all.
Shakespeare (it is our English boast) was no long-haired squiggle self-
yclpt bard; but a business man --- see Bishop Blougram's appreciation of his as
Shall we suppose him to have deliberately blackguarded in another his own
Note, too, the simple honesty of the divine sisters! Others, more subtle,
would have suspected a trap, arguing that such idiocy as Lear's could not be
genuine --- Cordelia, the Madame Humbert of the play, does so; her over-
cleverness leaves her stranded: yet by a certain sliminess of dissimulation,
the oiliness of frankness, the pride that apes humility, she does catch the
best king going. Yet it avails her little. She is hanged like the foul
Vivien she is.2
Cordelia's farewell to her sisters shows up the characters of the three in
strong relief. Cordelia --- without a scrap of evidence to go on --- accuses her
sisters of hypocrisy and cruelty. (This could not have previously existed, or
Lear would not have been deceived.)
Regan gravely rebukes her; recommends, as it were, a course of Six Easy
Lessons in Minding Her Own Business; and surely it was unparalleled insolence
on the part of a dismissed girl to lecture her more favoured sister on the
very point for which she herself was at that moment being punished. It is the
spite of baffled dissimulation against triumphant honesty. Goneril adds a
word of positive advice. "You," she says in effect, "who prate of duty thus,
see you show it to him unto whom you owe it."
That this advice is wasted is clear form Act V, Scene iii, where the King
of France takes the first trivial opportunity3 to be free of the vile creature
he had so foolishly married.
Cordelia goes, and the sisters talk together. Theirs is the language of
quiet sorrow for an old man's failing mind; yet a most righteous determination
not to allow the happiness of the English people to depend upon his whims.
Bad women would have rejoiced in the banishment of Kent, whom they already
knew to be their enemy; these truly good women regret it. "Such unconstant
starts are we like to have from him as this of Kent's banishment" (Act I,
Scene i, ll. 304-5).
In Scene ii Edmund is shown; he feels himself a man, more than Edgar: a
clear-headed, brave, honourable man; but with no maggots. The injustice of
his situation strikes him; he determines not to submit.4
This is the attitude of a strong man, and a righteous one. Primogeniture
is wrong enough; the other shame, no fault of his, would make the blood of any
free man boil.
Gloucester enters, and exhibits himself as a prize fool by shouting in
disjointed phrases what everybody knew. Great news it is, of course, and on
discovering Edmund, he can think of nothing more sensible than to ask for
more! "Kent banished thus! And France in choler parted! And the king gone
tonight! Subscrib'd his power! Confin'd to exhibition! All this done upon
the gad! Edmund, how now! what news?" (Act I, Scene ii, ll. 23-26).
Edmund "forces a card" by the simple device of a prodigious hurry to hide
it. Gloucester gives vent to his astrological futilities, and falls to
anxiomania in its crudest form --- "We have seen the best of our time:
machinations, hollowness, treachery, and all ruinous disorders, follow us
disquietly to our graves" (Scene ii, ll. 125-127).
Edmund, once rid of him, gives us the plainest sense we are likely to hear
for the rest of our lives; then, with the prettiest humour in the world takes
the cue of his father's absurdity, and actually plays it on his enemy.
Edgar's leg is not so easily pulled --- "How long have you been a sectary
astronomical?" (ll. 169, 170) --- and the bastard hero, taking alarm, gets
right down to business.
In Scene iii we find Lear's senile dementia taking the peculiarly loathsome forms familiar to alienists --- this part of my subject is so unpleasant that I
must skim over it; I only mention it to show how anxious Shakespeare is to
show his hidden meaning, otherwise his naturally delicate mind would have
avoided the depiction of such phenomena.
All this prepares us for Scene iv, in which we get a glimpse of the way
Lear's attendants habitually behave. Oswald, who treats Lear throughout with
perfect respect, and only shows honest independence in refusing to obey a man
who is not his master, is insulted in language worthier of a bargee than a
king; and when he remonstrates in dignified and temperate language is set upon
by the ruffianly Kent.
Are decent English people to complain when Goneril insists that this sort
of thing shall not occur in a royal house? She does so, in language nobly
indignant, yet restrained: Lear, in the hideous, impotent rage of senility,
calls her --- his own daughter --- a bastard (no insult to her, but to himself or
his wife, mark ye well!). Albany enters (a simple, orderly-minded man; he
must not be confused with Cornwall); he is at the last Lear's dog; yet even he
in decent measured speech sides with his wife. Is Lear quieted? No! He
utters the most horrible curse, not excepting that of Count Cenci, that a
father ever pronounced. Incoherent threats succeed to the boilings-over of
the hideous malice of a beastly mind; but a hundred knights are a hundred
knights, and a threat is a threat. Goneril had not fulfilled her duty to
herself, to her people, had she allowed this monster of mania to go on.
I appeal to the medical profession; if one doctor will answer me that a man
using Lear's language should be allowed control of a hundred armed ruffians
(in the face of Kent's behaviour we know what weight to attach to Lear's
defence: "Detested kite! thou liest" --- I, iv, l. 286), should ever be allowed
outside a regularly appointed madhouse, I will cede the point, and retire
myself into an asylum.
In fact, Lear is going mad; the tottering intellect, at no time strong
("'Tis the infirmity of age; yet he hath ever but slenderly known himself," I,
i, ll. 296-7), is utterly cast down by drink and debauchery: he even sees it
himself, and with a pointless bestiality --- from the Fool, fit companion for
the king --- and in that word we see all the concentrated loathing of the true
Shakespeare for a despotism, massed in one lurid flame, phantasmagoric horror,
the grim First Act rolls down.
end of part one
1. The lamented decease of the above gentleman forbids all hope (save through
the courtesy of Sir Oliver Lodge) of the appearance of the companion article.
- A. C.
2. I use the word Vivien provisionally, pending the appearance of an essay to
prove that Lord
Tennyson was in secret an ardent reformer of our lax modern
morals. No doubt, there
is room for this. Vivien was perfectly right about
the "cycle of strumpets and scoundrels
whom Mr. Tennyson has set revolving
round the figure of his central wittol," and she was
the only one with the
courage to say so, and the brains to strip off the barbarous glitter
idiotic and phantom chivalry.
3, He leaves her in charge of Marshal Le Fer, whom alone he could trust to be
impervious to her
wiles, he being devoted to another; for, as an invaluable
contemporary MS. has it,
"Seccotine colle même Le Fer."
4. This may be, but I think should not be, used as an argument to prove the
poet an illegitimate
son of Queen Elizabeth.
Previous Crowley Classics To be continued
from the Grady Project:
The Long Watch
|You stand your post in eerie still,|
|The night moves slowly on,|
|Above the hill|
|The moon is chill;|
|You're waiting for the dawn.|
|The plain below is lost in sleep,|
|The sombre rocks are old,|
|The snow is deep|
|Where shadows creep|
|And, somehow, very cold.|
|But in that endless time you stand|
|'Tween midnight and the day|
|You try your hand|
|Why war should come your way.|
|You think of Home, and what it meant|
|To leave the ones you love;|
|The song you sent|
|When Holy Lent|
|Proclaimed the World above.|
|You think of little things we know|
|That make us what we are|
|A guy named Joe,|
|A movie show,|
|Or working on your car.|
|At times it seems but yesterday|
|That Mother's cheeks were wet|
|With tears that lay,|
|And seemed to say,|
|"My son, please don't forget."|
|Or then again it's Father, who|
|With voice so gruff and slow|
|Was proud of you;|
|It thrilled him through|
|To see you turn and go.|
|This is that private history|
|A man may not confide.|
|Will keep him warm . . . inside.|
| -- Grady L. McMurtry|
First published in The Grady Project #2 (Oakland: Thelema Lodge, O.T.O.,
December 1987 e.v.).
Previous Grady Project Next Grady Project
An Introduction to Qabalah
Part I --Malkut of the Matter..
Derived from a lecture series in 1977 e.v. by Bill Heidrick
Copyright © Bill Heidrick
This will be a longish series, but less meandering than the last (Abra- Melin). These lectures were originally intended to form the basis for a correspondence course on Qabalah. The course never got off the ground, but many of the booklets and short pieces intended for it have appeared in and out of the TLC. From time to time reference will be made to those bits to avoid unnecessary duplication. Back issues of the TLC are available at $1.00 each.
We will start with the basics, a little history, a few terms and some myth. This portion belongs to the Malkut meeting of the original class and will wend it's way for some little time. With minor excursions into the supernals toward the end, each class had it's meetings identified with the lower seven Sephirot of the Qabalistic Tree.
If we were going to investigate every aspect of Qabalah that dealt with
Malkut, we wouldn't have enough space to get it in. Among other things,
physical practices will be left out. The Hassidim, for example, have gone
through many different practices of this nature, including rolling in nettles,
frequent baths --- all manner of physical techniques. We will mainly be
working on a mental plane. There will be some introductory material on the
Tree of Life. The Emanation treatment will be given emphasis in discussing
the type of Qabalah called Ma'aseh Berashit --- which signifies the way, work
or path of the beginning. Berashit also provides methods of interpretation of
Sacred Scripture (the Torah begins with the word "Berashit" in Hebrew), and it
is the form of Qabalah that is easiest to learn. Ma'aseh Berashit includes
the study of Gematria, the mysticism of the Hebrew letters, Noteriqon and the
elements of the classic Tree of Life diagram. The other traditional form of
Qabalah is Ma'aseh Merkabah. This is advanced. It refers to the Chariot of
Ezekiel and the portion of the Torah or Old Testament that deals with great
visions and great efforts. There are many other distinctions between these
two roads of Qabalah. Body meditation and sensory correspondences will be
studied near the end of the Malkut segment, as will activities that reflect
the ten sephiroth and the 22 paths.
Tree of Life from Oedipus Aegyptiacus,
A. Kircher, 1653 e.v.
Qabalah has gone through many changes. It's difficult to say exactly what
it was in its own beginnings, because they are lost in time. The word Qabalah
was not used for these studies before the 10th century. Qabalah means Oral Tradition. It combines many elements of religion and mysticism that were in
use around the first century e.v. Although the most cohesive portions of
Qabalah center on interpretation of the written word, there are fragments from
Gnosticism and from virtually all the ancient Religions around the Eastern
Mediterranean. There are ideas reminiscent of Yoga and approaches to worship
that are sometimes quite far from modern Judaism. Although the study of
Qabalah can be nonsecular, it cannot be divorced from the splendid Jewish
heritage that preserved these traditions down to the European Renaissance.
During the Renaissance, a particular Tree of Life diagram appeared in
Oedipus Aegyptiacus, a Latin work by Kircher, which included a presentation of
Qabalah as it was available to the Christians of that day. The Zohar and
other works had been published and commented before, but they are very
difficult. This is the form of the Tree of Life that ultimately came down
through the Order of the Golden Dawn. There are many other things here
besides those stressed in Masonic and Magical Orders. E.g., the 365 negative
precepts or laws and 248 positive laws are the Law of the Books of the Torah
and O. T., the Jewish Law. One of the functions of this kind of diagram is to
make sense of complex things. This diagram was intended to be used in
literary criticism. Consider a poem. There will be many things in a complex
one, many levels of meaning. Some of the meanings may be concealed in tropes,
statements which apparently say one thing but mean another. A common trope in
occult literature is the statement that such and such is necessary, or that
another thing is impossible or is wrong. These are not statements of truth,
but examples of mental control or patterning. Unless the reader can see on
many levels, understand on many planes and many different ways, an expression
like that is almost impossible to get through. A superficial reader can only
stagger around it, fight with it in places and accept it in others. An
approach on many levels of interpretation allows a reader to understand many
different things all at the same time. The ten Sephiroth can be considered as
levels of awareness and categories of interpretation. They can also be viewed
as stages in creation or steps in evolution from the material to the
spiritual. These are broadly different approaches, both used in different ways in the two divisions of Qabalah. Ma'aseh Berashit, the work of the
beginning, says that the Sephirot are stages of creation. That focuses on the
stories of the creation of the World, a thing of myth, not because it is
untrue, but because the form of the literature is story telling. The Sephirot
also depict the process of human creative activity. A natural cycle of human
development from infancy to adulthood can be shown in these same Sephirot in
their downward and upward sequence on the Tree of Life. That is part of
Ma'aseh Berashit, mainly the work from Keter at the top of the Tree down to
Malkut at the bottom, from the abstract to the concrete. Ma'aseh Merkabah
often emphasizes the other way, from bottom to top. This can be highly
confusing. Both approaches to Qabalah appear to talk about the same thing;
only where one says left the other says right, where one usually says Ten
first, the other more often says One first. For that reason, Ma'aseh Berashit
will be stressed in the Malkut through Netzach sections of this series, to
avoid this confusion. Later we will get a little more into Merkabah. Once
Berashit is defined by usage, Merkabah will be easier to distinguish.
For now, consider a story of the creation. According to legend, in the
beginning of the world, all that we know and can ever see in mystical
experiences was created by divine utterance. Another way of recounting the
creation uses light as a metaphor, but that will be taken up later in this
discussion. For now, consider the metaphor of sound. The universe was
created in stages by the uttering of the sounds that constitute the Hebrew
Alphabet. Each letter was spoken in its turn and passed out of the mouth of
the creator like a great sword carving some-thing out of no-thing. At first
lights in the eyes of the creator flashed out with such radiance that no form
could be manifest in them, for they were too strong. Next each letter was
spoken until finally only the last sound remained. Of course, that last sound
was the first of the Alphabet. Everything goes in reverse from the divine
plane to the material. The letter or sound that remained inside the mouth of
the creating deity is the letter Aleph, the vital essence that unites the
universe to its origin. This shows us something very special about the Hebrew
language. The 22 letters of the Hebrew Alphabet all have sounds except the
letter Aleph, the first letter of that alphabet. It cannot be spoken without
vowel pointing or conjunction with other letters. The letter Aleph is not
identified with a sound, but rather a breath of air. All the other letters
derive their strength from that breath. Our vocal cords vibrate, our mouth
shapes, but the rush of air that produces these sounds is Aleph. Aleph is the
essence behind the pronunciation of all the other letters. This is how the
myth embodies the principle that everything depends on the creator. The pure
sounds of the letters issuing from the mouth of the creating deity represent
the most abstract level of creation. These sounds combine to make words.
This is another stage or level in creation. When we visualize things about us
that embody what the words mean, the concrete is approached. When those
visualizations are matched to actual objects, we have reached the sensory
world, another level. There is something below that and beyond the power of
our minds to identify with meaning, the physical world itself.
This utterance of sound is like the slashing of a sword. The sword of
creation issues from the mouth of the creator, sometimes also likened to a
bolt of lightning. In this image the letter Aleph is the pommel of the sword,
the part that is still concealed and cannot be reached. As the other letters
are spoken, certain accumulations of force occur, changes of inflection in the
voice like gatherings of power or pauses in speech. These become the stages
of creation in another way. The Sephirot: Keter, Chokmah, Binah, Chesed,
Geburah, Tipheret, Netzach, Hod, Yesod and Malkut are names given to such
things. Here is another system that is at one time simpler and more complex,
a shift of attention. Instead of 22 sounds uttered in a strange pattern, we
now have ten gatherings of force. This is again, Berashit, not Merkabah.
Merkabah sometimes uses the snake that crawls up the tree, stitching the
Sephirot together after they have been perceived.
How would this be more sensible in a human way? You are born to Keter.
There is nothing other than simple existence. Whatever may be left from a
previous incarnation is not available to be seen. The baby is a being with
great potential but limited expression. It doesn't seem to know what it's
doing. If it's wet, it cries. If it wants attention, it cries. It sleeps.
It eats. In time the baby begins to notice human beings and to see that some
time in the day is cold and sometime warm. This is Chokmah, change, no longer
simple existence. Then Binah is reached; and the baby becomes a child, able
to think more generally, to deliberately act within a certain limit. This
child lives in a place with parents or guardians, the Garden of Eden, the
Initially the connection to incarnation is very delicate. Next comes an
idealized state; the child can really do no wrong, because it is still too
young. In the Garden, rules begin to be imposed on the child, rules that can
be broken but not fully understood. Next the child reaches the age of going
to school, Chesed, still somewhat in the home but now more exposed to the
outside world. The child is no longer entirely within the Garden of Eden,
close to the gate and sometimes outside. If the child makes too much noise,
the parents say; "Go out and play." Thus the Angel with the sword; the Angel
that was ministering and protecting now seems menacing and threatening. The
influence of Geburah commences in earnest as the child gets farther from the
gate and closer to the end of the teen years. Now it's not: "Do this and if
you don't there's limited punishment." Now it's: "If you steal a car you go
to prison." Gradually allowances for youth abate: "That's not a kid anymore.
That's somebody close enough to my age that I'm not going to take any of this
shit from him." Morality starts coming down thick and strong as punishment
and force administered to a growing human being.
At Tipheret the child is a young adult, a person who is old enough to set
up housekeeping. At Tipheret the person has settled under the control of
Geburah. Many people have difficulty passing down this way and end up locked
away for many years. Assuming natural growth, most people will eventually
reach Tipheret and set up shop. They may have started a family and the
pattern of life begins to show. At Netzach the pattern seems to be flawed.
There are obviously desirable things that are missing from life. The
individual begins to become aware of these. Hunger comes in, hunger for other
things. Those things are sought in Hod. Life is restructured to be better
and more substantial. In later middle age Yesod is reached. This is the
point where effort diminishes. There is a right way and a wrong way, with a
struggle finding out which is which. The person realizes: "If it doesn't
bother, let it go. Let it flow, let it happen." Life partakes of a more
integral form. It's less effort. It's less a sense of "mind" and more of
"happening". Finally Malkut comes with old age and eventual death. There is
no longer any question. Life is settled and takes care of itself. It exists,
and that's enough.
This is one way of humanizing the stages of creation and seeking on a more
concrete level just what this is. There are other ways. We will look at them
in a bit.
To be continued -- Part II.
A A or O.T.O.?
From time to time people express confusion about the difference between O.T.O. and A A. Here are two selections from the less publicly known writings of Aleister Crowley to set the matter right. These have been published before, but not recently.
Excerpt from a letter by Crowley to Karl Germer:
"From Letter from 666, Sept, 16, 1946"
The difference between A A and the O.T.O. is very clear and simple. The
A A is a sempiternal institution and entirely secret. There is no
communication between its members. Theoretically, a member knows only the
superior who introduced him, and any person whom he himself has introduced.
The Order is run on purely spiritual lines.
The Object of membership is also entirely simple. The first objective is
the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel. The next
objective, omitting considerations for the present of the 6 = 5, and the 7 = 4
degrees, is the crossing of the Abyss, and the attainment of mastership of the
Temple. This is described very fully especially in Liber 418. Much less is
written about the 5 = 6 degree, i.e., the Knowledge and Conversation, because
it is too secret and individual. It is impossible to lay down conditions, or
to describe the experiences involved in detail.
The O.T.O. has nothing to do with this, except that the BOOK OF THE LAW and
the Word of the Aeon are essential principles of membership. In all other
respects, it stands by itself as a body similar to Freemasonry, but involving
acceptance of a social and economic system which is intended to put the world
on its feet. There is also, of course, the secret of the IXth which is, so to
say, the weapon which they may use to further these purposes.
To show you the difference, Theodor Reuss was Supreme Head of the O.T.O.,
but was not even probationer of the A A.
"When in California I had been asked for a formal and official statement on
the above subject, so I asked 666 for it, and here it is.:
From The Constitutions of The Order of Thelemites (A document by Crowley
establishing a short-lived effort in South Africa during the 1920's under
James Thomas Windram):
"We, , 666, 9 = 2 A A () hereby ordinate
constitute and appoint Magne Honoratum Fra "Semper Paratum" 6 = 5 A A
(James Thomas Windram) as sole and supreme authority in the Order of
Thelemites, responsible to Us only...."
. . .
7.(a) "I am the flame that burns in
The general plan of the O. T. O. shall be put before all members
every heart of man, and in the
core of every star. I am Life,
and the giver of Life; yet therefore
is the knowledge of me the
knowledge of Death."
of the Order so that they may be brought to an understanding of the sublime
principles of that Order, which seek ---
(1) to instruct the individual by allegory and symbol in the profound
mysteries of birth, life, and death, and thereby to assist him to discover the
true nature of his purpose in life; and
(2) to train the community in the most enlightened institutions,
wherein the True Will of the Individual and the Community will be developed
and held inviolate.
. . .
Previous Primary Sources Next Primary Sources
From the Outbasket
To go with the Primary Sources column and our new series on Qabalah, here are some selections from recent email on questions related to the topics covered above. These have been edited for publication. To send email to the GTG, here are the addresses:
America on Line: firstname.lastname@example.org
J asked if his A A training would be a fit topic to introduce when applying
to join O.T.O.
The simplest thing is to say you have studied. If they follow that up, you
can ease into your A A training experience. The problem is in the variety
of people who claim A A. Some have managed to give a bad name to the rest.
Strictly speaking, A A affiliation is formally kept separate from O.T.O.
affiliation; mainly at Crowley's insistence. The two orders compliment one
another. To mix them in some ways is harmful and in others beneficial.
O.T.O. benefits A A by conserving A A materials. A A benefits O.T.O. by
being available through a number of channels for O.T.O. members, including
study of the Libers. There's more to it, but the division of A A membership
from O.T.O. membership in the venue of each order is very important. Outer
and Inner orders destroy each other if they overlap too much, like fire and
water. Simply being in A A and O.T.O. at the same time is rarely a problem.
Allowing the two to mix by comparison of A A and O.T.O. degrees or
attainments is deadly to both --- witness the disruption in Motta's S.O.T.O.
where the line was poorly drawn. Crowley would call this "confusion of the
O.T.O. degrees are rites of passage, among other things. To mingle them
with other rites of passage is to diminish their focus. That does not mean
that Pagan, G D and A A experiences are without value. On the contrary,
they will help a person utilize O.T.O. experiences. The hazard is in the area
of diminishing the O.T.O. experience by diffusion into other experiences at
the time of initiation and during the time of seeing the development of what
initiation starts. It's like the idea of a lock and key. The door into the
sanctuary may be fastened by any lock; but, if the perfectly good key to
another lock is applied to the actual lock in use, no opening of the sanctuary
will result. O.T.O. degrees use social interaction, the pattern of human
development and the pattern of the chakras to function (the lock, as it were).
G D and A A Grades use a mental structure based on the Sephirot and paths
of the Tree of Life as the "lock". Pagan practices usually do have an element
of the pattern of human development, but generally also employ a specific myth
to set the lock to be opened. It's like the different types of music. You
can't do jazz the same way you do classical, although 18th century chamber
music had elements of both. Avoidance of confusion of the planes is the
N asked about the "four who entered paradise":
Pardis () is an acronym or noteriqon having the simple meaning of
"Garden", cognate to the English "Paradise" and the expansion: Peshoth
(), Ramen (), Darosh
(), Sod (). In order: Literal, symbolic,
allegorical, mystical. These are the four Qabalistic Worlds used as
categories of literary criticism. The whole 32-part tree originated as a
device or Briata of 32 for analysis of meaning of literature and spoken words.
Since human thought works by a similar construction to human expression, it
fits well as a universal model of categorization. The Four Who Entered
Paradise are categories of those who have attained mystical goals by these
four methods, further symbolized by the four paths across the Abyss, excluding
Gimel. This is no O.T.O. secret, but is found variously in many books
expounding Qabalah, e.g. Waite's The Holy Kabbalah p. 198 & ff. Death=Literal=Chet, Silence=Symbolic=Zain, Mad=Allegory=Heh,
Atheist=Mystical=Vau --- more or less; the fit isn't perfect and tends to have
Incidentally, the Hebrew word for Abyss is Abadah = , with only left
out of the first five letters of the alphabet taken in order.
-- TSG (Bill Heidrick)
Previous From the Outbasket Next From the Outbasket
Earthquake in Japan
At this writing nothing has been heard at Grand Lodge concerning the welfare
of O.T.O. members living in Kobe and Osaka. Members in Japan are asked to
advise O.T.O. H.Q. of the condition and needs of the Brethren.
Ordo Templi Orientis
Fairfax, CA 94978
Events Calendar for February 1995 e.v.
|2/4/95||Brigid ritual in afternoon||OZhouse Indp.|
|2/4/95||Thelema Lodge initiation 7:30PM|
call to attend.
|2/5/95||Gnostic Mass 7:30PM Horus Temple||Thelema Ldg.|
|2/6/95||Thelema Lodge Meeting 8:00PM|
(& Lodge History night)
|2/8/95||Sirius Oasis meeting in Berkeley 8PM||Sirius Oasis|
|2/9/95||Thelema Lodge Library night 8PM|
(call to attend)
|2/12/95||Sustaining Members' Lunch 1 PM||Thelema Ldg.|
|2/12/95||Gnostic Mass 7:30PM Horus Temple||Thelema Ldg.|
|2/13/95||Section 2 reading group, 8PM at OZ|
Shakespeare's Tempest w/Caitlin
|2/14/95||Minerval Magick Class 8PM|
with Fr. Majnun. Minervals & up.only
|2/15/95||Magick in Theory and Practice class|
with Bill in San Anselmo 7:30PM
|2/16/95||Butterfly Net Computer Group 8:00PM||Thelema Ldg.|
|2/19/95||Gnostic Mass 7:30PM Horus Temple||Thelema Ldg.|
|2/20/95||Thelema Lodge Library night 8PM|
(call to attend)
|2/22/95||Liber XV Study Group w. Bp. T|
|2/24/95||Astrology of Pisces with Grace|
7-9PM, Berkeley. Call to attend.
|2/25/95||777 Poetry Society 7:30PM w.Fr.P.I.||Thelema Ldg.|
|2/26/95||Gnostic Mass 7:30PM Horus Temple||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
P.O. Box 2303
Berkeley, CA 94702 USA
Phone: (510) 652-3171 (for events info and contact to Lodge)
Production and Circulation:
Fairfax, CA 94978 USA
Internet: email@example.com (Submissions and circulation only)