Thelema Lodge Calendar for March 1995 e.v.

Thelema Lodge Calendar

for March 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.

Thelema Lodge
Ordo Templi Orientis
P.O.Box 2303
Berkeley, CA 94702 USA

March 1995 e.v. at Thelema Lodge

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

Announcements from
Lodge Members and Officers


Greetings of the Vernal Equinox!

The Thelemic Year of the Empress, ninety-first of the New Aeon, opens as Sol enters Aries on Monday evening 20th March at 6:15 for the Vernal Equinox. The lodge plans a communal feast, to which we hope to sit down at the exact moment of the Equinox, and a ritual in the temple afterwards at about 8:00. All attending are requested either to bring a good big dish of prepared food, or to confer with one of the lodge officers ahead of time about making some alternate contribution to the dinner. Our ritual plans have not been finalized as the newsletter goes to press, but we anticipate an adaptation of one of the Golden Dawn rituals found in The Equinox of the Gods in Book Four. Members are invited to contact the lodge master if interested in taking part. The closing of the ritual will be limited to O.T.O. initiates only, but the feast and most of the ceremony are open to friends and associates.


Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica

The lodge celebrates Aleister Crowley's Mass of the Gnostic Catholic Church every Sunday evening in Horus Temple. This ritual is open to all who wish to join the lodge community in partaking of the sacrament at the climax. As with all other events, those not already in regular contact with the lodge are requested to call ahead for confirmation and directions before setting forth to attend mass. The number at Horus Temple is (510) 652-3171. Please arrive between 7:30 and 8:00, with mass scheduled to be underway before 8:30. Several Sundays in the coming month are still unscheduled at this writing, and the lodge needs mass teams; in order to continue our traditional weekly masses wide participation by the membership is necessary. If you are an O.T.O. initiate interested in serving as a mass officer (especially if you've never done so before) speak with one of the bishops for advice on organizing, instructing, and rehearsing a mass team, then see the lodge master to schedule a date.

Bishop T Dionysus facilitates a monthly study group devoted to the mysteries of Liber XV, which meets on Wednesday evening 29th March at 8:00 in the lodge library. Anyone with an interest in the liturgy of the Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica is invited to share questions and considerations, whether it be a newcomer just realizing how easy the Anthem is to memorize and beginning to wonder what it might mean, or a new priest perplexed about when to cover the cup, or a seasoned celebrant confused in the explication of "goods and store of women" and "thou and thine handmaiden" to feminist friends, or even just a silly punster sniggering over the initial and ultimate audible disyllables in the ritual.


M M M

Initiations into O.T.O. are scheduled for Saturday evening 4th March at 6:00, with a feast to follow the ritual. All initiates who plan to attend are asked to call ahead, or to make advance contact with one of the lodge officers, so that we know how many to prepare for. Applications for initiation are available from the lodge master at any lodge function, and can also be requested by mail. They are to be submitted, complete with the sponsor's signatures, at least forty days before the initiation can be performed. During this period of candidacy it is important that applicants remain in touch with the lodge while the date and preparations for the ritual are worked out.


Activities and Gatherings

Thelema Lodge will be experimenting with a new format for the monthly lodge meeting beginning this month, with a Sunday afternoon luncheon date on 12th March. This will take the place of the Sustaining Members' luncheon series, with all members and friends of the lodge now invited for lunch and an hour or so of informal discussion of upcoming events and of the general direction in which we want to see our lodge progress. Arrive around 12:30 for lunch at 1:00, with the meeting scheduled to end around 2:30. Plans and requests for lodge events can be shared over lunch at lodge meeting, or individually with the lodge master at any convenient time. The date of lodge meeting also serves as the deadline for events organizers to provide descriptive calendar notes for the following month's newsletter. Most advertised lodge events, except those having directly to do with O.T.O. initiation, are open to guests and are free of charge. Generally we request voluntary donations, which are used to help pay the rent on our temple and library. Those who appreciate our facilities are urged to support them with all possible generosity.

The Section Two Reading Group meets to discuss the ancient Roman Satyricon on Monday evening 13th March at 8:00 at Oz House. Gaius Petronius, an imperial civil servant and celebrated "fashion arbiter" in Roman high society, writing in the middle of the first century of the past aeon, ended his career by suicide on orders from the Emperor Nero in the year 66. His work, an extensive collection of stories, essays, and poems, linked by a picaresque narrative thread, has survived only in fragments. The Satyricon follows the travels and adventures of Encolpius, who is pursued by the wrath of Priapus and wanders through the empire amid scenes of greed and fortune, viewing society from the bottom up. For information on this study group, which explores the "suggestive literature" of the A A, call Caitlin at Oz House at (510) 654-3580, or call the lodge.

Previous Section Two                   Next Section Two


The possibilities for an Enochian liturgy will be the focus of an open discussion being organized this month at Thelema Lodge. The angelic teachings received by John Dee and Edward Kelly in the late sixteenth century reveal that they were intended to be the basis for a reformed religious tradition uniting all mankind. On Monday evening 27th March at 7:30 we will gather to explore these questions: What would the Mass have looked like had the Enochian vision succeeded at the time of its reception? And could we speculatively reconstruct and perform such a mass? We hope to welcome guests with experience in Enochian and the English liturgical tradition, and all interested parties, corporeal or otherwise. Contact Michael Sanborn for details at (510) 601-9393.

The spring equinox symbolizes the balanced new beginning-point on many levels. With this in mind, Grace will be offering a new series of workshops devoted to the study of Astrological Cycles. The series will begin with the most basic and visible cycle --- that of the Sun and the Moon. It is recommended that those who plan to attend get a copy of The Lunation Cycle by Dane Rudhyar, which eloquently and lucidly analyses this most fundamental of all cycles. The meeting will take place (appropriately in the New Moon phase) on Friday evening 31st March from 7:00 to 9:00. All attending please call ahead at (510) 843-STAR, then gather at Grace's house in south Berkeley; and bring your birth-charts if possible.

Bill Heidrick leads the Thelema Lodge Magick in Theory and Practice Series, meeting at 7:30 in his home in San Anselmo on Wednesday evening 15th March. As we draw near the close of Crowley's great magical textbook, we will be examining the Principal Rituals given in Appendix VI. It's never too late to join this long-running series; call Bill at (415) 454-5176 for information and directions.

Lodge members and guests gather to read poetry together on the last Saturday evening of each month beginning at 7:30. Join Frater P.I. and the Grady McMurtry Poetry Society on Saturday 25th February in the Thelema Lodge library, with selections of your own choice; they may either be brought along with you or borrowed from the lodge's collections. If you enjoy reading verse and can appreciate others who enjoy it, you are well on the way to developing the magical control over language which is the basis for much ritual work.

Library Nights at Thelema Lodge are scheduled for Monday evening 6th March and Wednesday evening 22nd March, beginning at 8:00. Those planning to attend are requested to call the lodge a day or two ahead to confirm the date. Other study hours in the library can often be arranged by speaking with the lodge officers, and the scheduled dates are sometimes changed by request.


Reports from Recent Lodge Events

Last month the "Section Two" Group at Oz enjoyed reading selected scenes from Shakespeare's Tempest and considering initiated interpretations of this magical play. The workings of the magus Prospero alternate between involvement with the praterhuman astral entities and the human characters, who sometimes seem to have their greatest reality within the microcosm of the magician's mind. The ariel and earthly spirits, like Miranda, the shipwrecked nobility, and the sailors, function almost as talismans within his ritual. Frater P.I., however, proposed the more interesting notion of The Tempest as a drama of initiation, where two different degrees of attainment are achieved in parallel: Prospero is crossing the Abyss, while Alonso is attaining to the Knowledge and Conversation of his Holy Guardian Angel.

Soror Terri Sal led us in a joyous and exciting rite of Brigid, up at Sibley Park in the hills east of Oakland, as the sun passed halfway between winter solstice and vernal equinox. Twenty-three ritualists ventured deep into the labyrinth to claim the blessings at the shrine in its center, then emerged into the embrace of the Goddess of the Well. It was a lovely bright day on the fresh green hillside, with a magnificent festive picknic, and Brother Andy on guitar setting the rhythm.

Masses have been particularly vibrant and loving lately, with some happy additions to the community (and to our hard-working pool of officers). Especially notable have been Frater 137's electric guitar accompaniments to several masses, joined by several outstanding drummers, and Bishop T Dionysus' musical setting of the Liber XV "Anthem". Bishop T Theodora, a memorable deacon for Soror Lupa's beautiful mass, will return this month as priestess herself.

The lodge master would like to encourage all participants in our activities to contribute brief reports of events whenever possible, for occasional inclusion in the lodge newsletter. When looking back over our past issues, it is often the actual particulars of events that seem most valuable, rather than the less specific outlines of offerings to come. Sometimes the seed of an essay, a manifesto, or a ritual can be planted in a discussion or a celebration, which if tended to maturity with a bit of writing work may yield results of lasting value.


Crowley Classics

This second installment concludes the essay, which may have been written
some years before Crowley first published it in 1904 e.v. as a note appended to The Sword of Song.

William Shakespeare: An Appreciation

by Aleister Crowley

II

Act II, Scene i, adds little new to our thesis, save that in line 80 we see Gloucester (ignorant of his own son's handwriting!) accept the forged letter as genuine, as final proof, with not even the intervention of a Bertillon to excuse so palpable a folly, so egregious a crime. What father of today would disinherit, would hunt down to death, a beloved son, on such evidence? Or are we to take it that the eclipse gave proof unshakable of a phenomenon so portentous?

In Scene ii we have another taste of Kent's gentlemanly demeanour; let our conventionalist interpreters defend this unwarrantable bullying if they dare! Another might be so gross, so cowardly; but not our greatest poet! A good portion of this play, as will be shown later, is devoted to a bitter assault upon the essentially English notion that the pugilist is the supreme device of the Creator for furthering human happiness. (See Cashel Byron's Profession for a similar, though more logical and better-worded, attack.) Coarse and violent language continues to disgrace Lear's follower; only Gloucester, the unconscionable ass and villain of Scene i, has a word to say in his defense.
In Scene iii we have a taste of Edgar's quality. Had this despicable youth the consciousness of innocence, or even common courage, he had surely stood to his trial. Not he! He plays the coward's part --- and his disguise is not even decent.
In Scene iv we are shown the heroic sisters in their painful task of restraining, always with the utmost gentleness of word and demeanour, the headstrong passions of the miserable king. Lear, at first quiet in stating his fancied wrongs --- "Regan: 'I am glad to see your highness.' Lear: 'Regan, I think you are; I know what reason I have to think so: if thou shouldst not be glad, I would divorce me from thy mother's tomb, Sepulchring an adult'ress. (To Kent.) O! are you free? Some other time for that. Beloved Regan, Thy sister's naught: O Regan! she hath tied Sharp-tooth'd unkindness, like a vulture, here: (points to his heart). I can scarce speak to thee; thou'lt not believe with how deprav'd a quality --- O Regan!' Regan: 'I pray you, sir, take patience. I have hope'" (ll. 130-139) --- an excusable speech, at the first hint that he is not to have it all his own way, falls a- cursing again like the veriest drab or scullion Hamlet ever heard.
Here is a man, deprived on just cause of half a useless company of retainers. Is this wrong (even were it a wrong) such as to justify the horrible curses of ll. 164-168, "All the stor'd vengeances of heaven fall On her ingrateful top! Strike her young bones, You taking aires, with lameness! You nimble lightnings, dart your blinding flames into her scornful eyes!" With this he makes his age contemptible by the drivel-pathos of ll. 156-158, "Dear daughter, I confess that I am old; Age is unnecessary: on my knees I beg (Kneeling) That you'll vouchsafe me raiment, bed, and food," begging what none ever thought to deny him.
Yet such is the patience of Goneril that even when goaded by all this infamous Billingsgate into speech, her rebuke is the temperate and modest ll. 198-200. "Why not by the hand, sir? How have I offended? All's not offense that indiscretion finds And dotage terms so." If we ask a parallel for such meekness under insult, calumny, and foul abuse, we must seek it not in a human story, but a divine.
The heroines see that no half measures will do, and Lear is stripped of all the murderous retinue --- what scum they are is shown by the fact that not one of them draws sword for him, or even follows him into the storm --- to which his bad heart clings; yet for him --- for him in spite of all his loathsomeness, his hatred, his revengefulness --- is Regan's gentle and loving, "For his particular, I'll receive him gladly."

III

In Act III we have another illustration of the morality that passed current with the Tudors, and which only a Shakespeare had the courage to attack. Kent does not stick at treachery --- he makes one gulp of treason --- straining at the gnat of discipline, he swallows the camel of civil war.

It was then, and is even now, the practice of some --- for example, the émigrés of the French Revolution --- to invite foreign invasion as a means of securing domestic reaction. The blackguardism implied as beyond language: Shakespeare was perhaps thinking of the proposal, in Mary's reign, to react to Romanism by the aid of Spanish troops. But he will go further than this, will our greatest poet; it were ill that the life of even one child should atone for mere indignity or discomfort to another, were he the greatest of the realm. Today we all agree; we smile or sneer if any one should differ.
"King Lear got caught in the rain --- let us go and kill a million men!" is an argument not much understood of Radical Clubs, and even Jingos would pause, did they but take the precaution of indulging in a mild aperient before recording their opinions.
In Scenes iii, vi, and vii, Edmund, disgusted beyond all measure with Gloucester's infamies, honourably and patriotically denounces him.
The other scenes depict the miseries which follow the foolish and the unjust; the Nemesis falls upon the ill-minded Gloucester. Yet Shakespeare is so appreciative of the virtue of compassion (for Shakespeare was, as I shall hope to prove one day, a Buddhist) that Cornwall, the somewhat cruel instrument of eternal Justice, is killed by his servant. Regan avenges her husband promptly, and I have little doubt that this act of excessive courtesy towards a man she did not love is the moral cause of her unhappy end.
I would note that we should not attempt to draw any opinions as to the author's design from the conversation of the vulgar; even had we not Coriolanus to show us what he thought.

IV

Act IV develops the plot and is little germane to our matter, save that we catch a glimpse of the unspeakably vile Cordelia, with no pity for her father's serious condition (though no doubt he deserved all he got, he was now harmless, and should have inspired compassion), hanging to him in hope that he would now reverse his banishment and make her (after a bloody victory) sole heiress of great England.

And were any doubt left in our minds as to who really was the hero of the play, the partizanship of France should settle it. Shakespeare has never any word but ridicule for the French; never aught but praise of England and love for her: are we to suppose that in his best play he is to stultify all his other work and insult the English for the benefit of the ridiculed and hated Frenchman?
Moreover, Cordelia reckons without her host. The British bulldogs make short work of the invaders and rebels, doubtless with the connivance of the King of France, who, with great and praiseworthy acuteness, foresees that Cordelia will be hanged, thus liberating him from his "most filthy bargain": there is but one alarum, and the whole set of scoundrels surrender. Note this well; it is not by brute force that the battle is won; for even if we exonerate the King of France, we may easily believe that the moral strength of the sisters cowed the French.
This is the more evident, since in Act V Shakespeare strikes his final blow at the absurdity of the duel, when Edmund is dishonestly slain by the beast Edgar. Yet the poet's faith is still strong: wound up as his muse is to tragedy, he retains in Edmund the sublime heroism, the simple honesty, of the true Christian; at the death of his beloved mistresses he cries, "I was contracted to them both: all three Now marry in an instant ---"
At the moment of death his great nature (self-accusatory, as the finest so often are) asserts itself, and he forgives even the vilest of the human race --- "I pant for life: some good I mean to do Despite of mine own nature.1 Quickly send, Be brief in it, to the castle; for my writ Is on the life of Lear and on Cordelia. Nay, send in time" (ll. 245-249).
And in that last supreme hour of agony he claims Regan as his wife, as if by accident; it is not the passionate assertion of a thing doubtful, but the natural reference to a thing well known and indisputable.
And in the moment of his despair; confronted with the dead bodies of the splendid sisters, the catafalque of all his hopes, he can exclaim in spiritual triumph over material disaster --- the victory of a true man's spirit over Fate --- "Yet Edmund was beloved."
Edgar is left alive with Albany, alone of all that crew; and if remorse could touch their brutal and callous souls (for the degeneration of the weakling, well-meaning Albany, is a minor tragedy), what hell could be more horrible than the dragging out of a cancerous existence in the bestial world of hate their hideous hearts had made, now, even for better men, for ever dark and gloomy, robbed of the glory of the glowing Goneril, the royal Regan, and only partially redeemed by the absence of the harlot Cordelia and the monster Lear.

V

It may possibly be objected by the censorious, by the effete parasites of a grim conventionalism, that I have proved too much. Even by conventional standards Edmund, Goneril, and Regan appear angels. Even on the moral point, the sisters, instead of settling down to an enlightened and by no means overcrowded polygamy, prefer to employ poison. This is perhaps true, of Goneril at least; Regan is, if one may distinguish between star and star, somewhat the finer character.

This criticism is perhaps true in part; but I will not insult the intelligence of my readers. I will leave it to them to take the obvious step and work backwards to the re-exaltation of Lear, Cordelia, Edgar, and company, to the heroic fields of their putty Elysium (putty, not Putney) in their newly-demonstrated capacity as "unnatural" sons, daughters, fathers, and so on.
But I leave it. I am content --- my work will have been well done --- if this trifling essay be accepted as a just instalment towards a saner criticism of our holiest writer, a juster appreciation of the glories of out greatest poet, a possibly jejune yet assuredly historic attempt to place for the first time William Shakespeare on his proper pedestal as an early disciple of Mr. George Bernard Shaw; and by consequence to carve myself a little niche in the same temple: the smallest contributions will be thankfully received.

Note:
1. This may merely mean "despite the fact that I am dying -- though I am almost too weak
to speak." If so, the one phrase in the play which seems to refute our theory is
disposed of. Execution of such criminals would be a matter of routine at the period
of the play.

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An Introduction to Qabalah

Part II -- Is this Kosher?.

Derived from a lecture series in 1977 e.v. by Bill Heidrick
Copyright © Bill Heidrick

Here's a hybrid conception of how the universe was created, both mythic and celestial.
Consider a great nebula of incandescent gasses, like a rainbow ring. This is Keter and Reshit Ha-Gilgalim, the beginning of the whirlings. According to Astronomers, planets, stars and all the physical things that we know took form from such things. Great masses of diffuse gas in the universe gather together and form substance.
Next, for Chokmah, consider the figured Zodiac. It's called Maslot, the course or track of the Sun. This is a patterning and ordering of stars, from the primal beginning.
Onward, the figurations multiply into myth. Consider the Garden of Eden. It's an ideal state. Everything makes sense, and no one suffers in a true sense. There is a limitation of place, a bounding of where and what; but there's no suffering in the sense of failure. This is for Binah. All these images, although they are not concrete enough to be material, are fixed in the mind. All possibilities are known and named. Science would call this is a taxonometric universe.
Expulsion from the Garden of Eden creates the seven lower Sephiroth after Binah. The Sword of the Angel in the legend that expels from Paradise is a twisting sword, the sword of creation, the turnings of thought.
There are stories based on Genesis that mention seven days of creation, sometimes taken as the seven lower Sephiroth. Here we enter a place where it's difficult to make sense, since clear thought only belongs in the very high places.
The days of creation can be seen in the last seven Major Trumps of Tarot. They don't fit quite as neatly as the story in Genesis, but they are more humanly understandable. This is what happens in Qabalah. A point is reached where the rigid framework must be broken by telling holy stories or myths. Here there is a sense of loss. Tarot is nice, but is it as good as the Torah? In a sense, Tarot is a holy book; but that's another story. Do you have to be an orthodox Jew to be a good Qabalist? Or is there something else? This is always a problem when you are trying to speak with people who are Orthodox Jewish, --- a Goy learning Qabalah! What is this? What does it mean? It's not possible! There are things that are not part of the Orthodox tradition. The usual teaching about the creation of the World and the Chariot of Ezechial only goes just so far. It rarely talks in the metaphor of growth from babyhood to old age that we had a bit ago. It's locked into a tight pattern. That isn't always useful enough. We need to look, see and compare.
The 1st day of creation was the separation of light from darkness. Does it match the Devil Tarot Trump? Look at the picture on that card. It's dark; and there are two figures at the bottom, the human forms. What would it be like to be separated from the light? What would it be like to be cut off from perfection? You would have something of it in yourself, but you wouldn't be able to see that. You'd see a monster up dominating in the shadow, a horrible thing keeping you away from the light. If Qabalah usually describes creation looking down from the top, Tarot tends to describe it looking up from the bottom. The two can work together.
For the 2nd day, compare the separation of the waters above and below to the Tower Trump. The Tower rests on the earth; and waters are in the sky, the storms that produce the lightning. There is a feeling of water up there, water down here and not much else; just earth and sky. The Tarot is like a lower reflection of Qabalah, perhaps a more material form of it.
On the 3rd day of Creation, the waters under heaven were gathered into one place, dry land appeared and the creation of plants occurred. Of these last seven Tarot cards, the Star is the first one where we see plants. Water is gathered together here; and, in the case of the Waite or Rider Pack version, the water is in a pool shaped like the Hebrew letter Mem. The name of that letter means "sea" or "water". The stars in the sky shown on the card are gathered into an upside down and backwards form that's like the same Hebrew letter. What's happening in the picture on the card is more complex and mysterious than the description of the 3rd day. It looks like someone in the night, someone half asleep or having a not quite human experience, pouring water on the land and into the sea. Qabalah might call the figure on the card Schekinah, a feminine presence of God dwelling in the Universe. This is a spirit on the earth, performing a human function. Humans take natural resources from places and move them about. In a material sort of way, they divide the waters on the Earth. If their spirit is right, they change things for the better.
The 4th day of creation sees the creation of the lights, the Sun and the Moon. We have the Moon Trump in Tarot.
The 5th day, the beasts of the air and water --- the Sun Trump. The Sun is truly the ruler of all living things on the Earth.
The 6th day has the creation of human kind. Human beings rise in the Judgment Trump.
On the last day, the world is finished and rests. We see the card of the World.
If you make comparisons of this nature, you will find some similarities and some things that are very hard to match up. You have to strain your mind, and that straining of mind is one of the primary merits of Qabalah. Find things and try to work them out together. With success, the mind gets a little more open, a little more clear than it would have been before the attempt. Some techniques are elementary. Some are subtle. Gematria is a sort of numerology, whereby each word has a number value. All the letters in the Hebrew alphabet correspond to simple numbers. This is so from the beginning of the alphabet, thousands of years ago. The art in Gematria begins with finding words that have the same numerical equivalent. Once you have found them, you look at them and meditate until they all make sense together. This is a strain of anyone's intellect. Consider the number 13. In our culture 13 is the unlucky number, but it's also the number of colonies that were put together to found the USA. There are two words in Hebrew whose value comes to 13, among others, achieb and achad, love and unity. Those are very positive things. We have these: the unlucky number, the beginning of a country, love and unity. Unity would make sense for the beginning of a country. Unlucky 13 is more difficult. The most common name for God in the Old Testament is Jehovah or Yahweh --- just different pronunciations of the same word. The numerical value of that word is 26, twice 13. Suddenly it's more clear. 13 is 1/2 of the name of the creating deity. So 13 is either all good or all bad. It's either love and unity and a beginning of things or it's destruction and misery and the ending of things. It's something about two halves making perfection on another level. This is another work of Qabalah, to strain the mind and send the student searching in ways that would never be tried otherwise, until finally something pops and a new thought pattern emerges, a new way of thinking.

Previous Introduction to Qabalah, Part I                   To be continued


Primary Sources

Crowley to H.A.:
Here's a short note from Crowley to Grady (Louis) McMurtry from 1944 e.v., regarding the Book of Thoth and other matters.

Bell in
Aston Clinton
Bucks
Jour
     de la
Bastille
   '44 e.v.

My dear Louis
Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
Yours of July 4 relieved me greatly; I had feared that non-arrival of $ implied your incapacity. I too am safe so far, though not out of range.
You were the first subscriber, & your copy --- one of the specially bound, honoris causa --- is the first to be sent out. It awaits only some one to take it to the post.
--------
Why send via Jack {Parsons -- Ed.} -- why not via Karl {Germer -- Ed}. So much nearer. I'm not in any need of it this instant, in any case. My credit is O.K. here, & I am going to give up Jermyn St. Am now looking for a big house to start an Abbey of Thelema --- several people are willing to come in.
I wrote to you some time back, also sent some copies of La Gauloise --- I hope to-day will {?...} it sung by lots of its own people in its own country!
No special news --- all seems going well enough all round.
Best of all to you! I chose No. X Jupiter to bring you luck.
Love is the law, love under will.
           Yours ever.
                     {signed} A.C.


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from the Grady Project:

Fifty years ago this month, Hymenaeus Alpha was engaged in the liberation of Europe.

To My Fallen Comrades

There is a certain agony of heart
We soldiers know when we look on our dead.
It is not pity, but a thing apart,
A sympathy of helpless hurt, instead.

We do not think of them as dead in vain,
In sober truth we hardly think at all.
Why should we? When the big guns speak again
The laws of Chance will judge, and Reason fall.

-- Captain Grady L. McMurtry, U S Army
3/3/1945 e.v.                               

First published in The Grady Project #3 (Oakland: Thelema Lodge, O.T.O., March 1988).

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A Dropping From The Host (or, Sex, Sex, And More Sex)

by T Dionysus

I guess you're thinking that an essay so entitled must surely be about the Gnostic Mass. And of course you're right! The single most obvious difference between our Thelemite mass and the traditional Christian mass shows up in their attitudes to sex. To say that "We're fer it, 'n' they're agin it" may be overly simple, but it's also not a total distortion. The Gnostic Mass certainly does celebrate sexuality as among humanity's holiest and most powerful attributes. It's no wonder that, as our Thelemite community gropes toward new ways to accommodate the realities of sex, the Gnostic Mass seems to be arousing more interest and controversy than ever.
The whole of our experience may be contained in three spheres: the human, the natural, and the sacred. The Gnostic Mass can also be understood on these same three levels, where the penis (uterus) represents the human, the sun (moon) symbolizes the natural, and the secret ineffability (infinite space & the infinite stars thereof) conceals the sacred. Each of these metaphors may also be considered from both magical and mystical viewpoints. The interplay of the three and the two is often merely five, but in this case let's make it six, that is, six basic ways in which the text of the mass may be read metaphorically:

the human/magical, as an instruction in sex magick,
the human/mystical, as a guide to sexual meditation (i.e., tantra),
the natural/magical, as a group working of ceremonial magick,
the natural/mystical, as the fellowship of communion,
the sacred/magical, as the cult of the infinite within,
the sacred/mystical, as the cult of the infinite without,
(these last two both refer to the ordeal x, which brings us back in a way to the five, but after another manner).

It would of course be great fun to describe in reasonably clear terms exactly how to read the Gnostic Mass in each of these six ways; however, since that is largely impossible for the last two, and far from rare for the middle two, it remains for me to amplify instead upon the first two, and try at least a little to live up to the promise of my title. Actually, in this particular essay I'll mainly concentrate on the sex-magical metaphor alone, although a few of the contrasts between sex magick and tantric sex will be very briefly mentioned.
If, as Crowley defines it, doing Magick involves "causing Change to occur in conformity with Will", then perhaps being Mystick involves allowing Stability to occur in conformity with Love. The one is all power and strength, the other all peace and silence. An even simpler way of understanding the distinction is to consider that any thing, action, event, being, or quality, is magical if it leads to expansion, mystical if it leads to contraction. Of course, since expansion and contraction are always relative to one's frame of reference, every experience is liable to partake of both the magical and the mystical. Which tendency predominates in any particular experience is largely dependent upon your point of view. In fact, both paths share the same ultimate destination. As the Hindu philosopher Ramana Maharshi wrote, "What to inward sight is peace appears as power to outward sight. For those who truly know, the two are one and the same."
Therefore it's only natural that some of the distinctions between sex magick and tantric sex are not immediately obvious. Both approaches require the achievement of a state which might be called a sexual trance, wherein an energy (often called Kundalini energy) is excited. But what then becomes of the sexual energy thus aroused is entirely different in the two practices. An excellent metaphor for this dichotomy may be found in The Book Of The Law, II:26, "I am the secret Serpent coiled about to spring: in my coiling there is joy. If I lift up my head, I and my Nuit are one. If I droop down mine head, and shoot forth venom, then is rapture of the earth, and I and the earth are one." At the moment of orgasm the sexual energy can either go up (that is, inward) to create an ecstatic illumination, or down (that is, outward) to create an ejaculate incarnation. Thus in the traditional tantric practices of South Asia, where the aim is to lift the Kundalini energy up the spine, both ejaculation and menstruating women are to be avoided, while in the European "Gnostic/Rosicrucian/H.B.L." tradition of sex magick it is exactly the semen and/or the menstrual blood (or the egg and lining of the womb, if they still live) which often act as the basic vehicles for directing this same vital energy out into the world at large through the creation of children, be they physical or subtle or both.
The Gnostic Mass is arguably a prime example of Crowley at his literary best, and it may certainly be studied profitably by anyone who enjoys it as a work of literature (whether in written or dramatic form); however, to get the most out of such study one would need to be well read in both classical and modern literature (up to the early 20th century), as well as possessed of an extensive knowledge of history and metaphysics both Western and Eastern. In contrast to such demanding academic prerequisites, in order to fully appreciate the Mass as an instruction in sex magick one must merely be able to look behind the actions, props, and words, and recognize what they all fairly blatantly symbolize. This is not to say that every symbol in the mass must have some significance from the standpoint of sex magick. Though the lance which symbolizes the fire of will is also quite obviously meant to represent the phallus, and the cup which symbolizes the water of emotion is also the womb, it does not necessarily follow that the sword and paten must also refer, in addition to the air of reason and the earth of physical manifestation, to some specific feature of the human anatomy. For instance, one may consider the fact that while the cup itself contains the wine which signifies menstrual blood, for the lance this same containing function must be performed by the paten which holds the hosts, which themselves stand for the actual semen. But this does not mean that, for sex-magical purposes, the paten represents a priestly testicle! To paraphrase Freud, sometimes a pentacle is only a pentacle.
The sex-magical symbolism of the officers of the mass is not quite as direct as that of the major weapons. Crowley states in a note at the end of the mass, "The Priestess and other officers never partake of the Sacrament, they being as it were part of the Priest himself." This is often pointed to as evidence of Crowley's male chauvinism; however, male chauvinist though he may well have been, I don't think this particular sentence is really a statement about the proper power balance between the individuals performing the roles of Priest and Priestess, but rather it refers to the fact that the Priest here acts as a metaphor for anyone who undertakes to perform a work of sex magick, and that the performance of such a work does not necessarily require more than one person. This is obviously the case whenever orgasm is the result of masturbation, and also more subtly so when one is assisted by a partner who is unaware that any sex magick is being worked. I think this interpretation is perhaps borne out by the way in which the People communicate; in partaking of the Sacrament the women of the congregation imitate (and thus identify with) the Priest just as the male communicants do.
Women who wish to perform sex magick should take note of this apparent gender reversal. I say "apparent" because actually the Gnostic Priestess does not as one might have expected denote in this context a female practitioner of sex magick, but rather the person/entity/image wherein the practitioner's object of devotion (ultimately Nuit) is manifested on some plane of space/time/being. For most performers of sex magick the object of devotion will usually appear in a human form whose conscious involvement in the ritual ranges from that of a full co-operator to that of a passive, or even ignorant, sex partner (passivity and ignorance referring in this context to the magical and not to the sexual element of the ceremony!). In essence, in sex-magical terms, the Priestess signifies the magician's altar of working. This is not to deny that the Gnostic Priestess also represents both a supremely mighty goddess and a marvelously successful woman on other levels; she most assuredly does. But in this particular metaphor she represents the shrine's altar. Such an altar is necessary to the working whether the magus be male or female, though of course it need not always manifest itself in human form, nor indeed in any physical form at all. It is often partly, or even mostly, beheld in the mind's eye of the Priest. In this present context the actual physical altar in a Liber XV mass ritual merely represents the place where the sex magick working is performed (often a bed). In an operation where both (or all) partners are active participants in the magick they must each successfully be both a subject and an object; this is why, like it or not, the odds against significant success will grow along with the number of participants who are actively engaged in the creation of the magical link (the number of passive partners is usually unimportant, as long as they don't disturb anyone's concentration). The theoretical advantage involved in tapping the power of more wills is balanced by the increased difficulty of achieving success, but for experienced practitioners two actively engaged wills can be far more effective than one, and for the truly adept three may be the optimum number.
The Deacon, like the Priestess, is considered by Crowley to be "as it were part of the Priest himself", and thus does not represent an independent will involved in the ritual of sex magick but rather the will of the Priest (magus) as expressed through a physical magical link, perhaps a talisman or the magician's own body, or through a link symbolized on other planes, for instance an idea, a quest, or a passion. Therefore when the Deacon opens the mass by proclaiming the Law of Thelema and reciting the Gnostic Creed he is symbolizing the fact that the sex magick operator's will is always an underlying factor, prior to any magical working, prior even to birth itself. Then the Priestess makes her appearance, and is saluted by the Deacon and the People; and the Deacon subsequently assists her in awakening and preparing the Priest. This shows that, as a necessary preliminary to any operation of sex magick, some object of devotion must both inspire and work with the operator's will, though the people directly involved may well be partly or even entirely unconscious of the fact. When the tomb is opened the Priest (operator) begins to become consciously acquainted with both the object of devotion, and that object's interaction with her/his will. In a wholly successful working, this object must stir up both nobility and enthusiasm in the magus, it must require deeply passionate spiritual responses from the magus, and most importantly it must be capable of sexually arousing the magus. That this last point is most clearly demonstrated in a nakedly phallic fashion by the Priestess' stroking of the lance should not obscure the fact that a woman may also perform sex magick entirely in her own right. It so happens that the author of our Gnostic Mass was physically a man, and that he could hardly help but present matters from a male perspective. The same limitation applies to the author of this present article, who therefore respectfully requests forbearance from his female readers for the undoubtedly phallocentric bias of most of the comments that follow. It would be high honor indeed if any sister is inspired by the deficiencies and omissions of this paper to record her own perspectives on sex magick.

to be continued


From the Outbasket

Here are some discussions about the Thoth Tarot and Book of Thoth from recent email between J.K. and myself. This material has been edited for publication:

Who was the S. H. Soror I.W.E. 8 = 3 A A who signed the bio in Book of Thoth? Was this one of Crowley's pseudonyms?

Martha Kunzel, an astrologer and O.T.O. member living in Germany in the 1930's. She also wrote a bit in Book 4. (This information from Fr. H.B.)

Crowley mentions the Elemental Dignitaries in regard to reading the Tarot...

A standard Astrological technical term, referring most often to properties of certain planets in certain zodiacal signs. As Crowley used it, he meant that and a generalization of the principal to related signs and planets by triplicity and the Ptolomaic properties of the elements composing the planets. Mainly, it refers to planets said to be dignified in certain signs and harmonies or disharmonies of elemental attributions.

Details in the Majors can be extremely arcane...

Obscure might be a better term. Every identifiable design element means something rather exact. Consider the Cup on the Charioteer Atu. That's The Manipura Chakrah --- compare with the Lust Atu --- same point on the abdomen but in cross section. The Rider Pack is a good deal more complex and subtle than the Thoth Deck, although somewhat less consistent in the handling of the Minors.

How does that point comment on the Chariot and Lust?

It doesn't. Crowley followed Levi's lead in using the Tarot to express ideas not necessarily to be found in traditional Tarot. Compare the Popessa with the High Priestess in other decks: big change to reflect different ideas. Tarot began to be seriously mutated from a series of pictures to illustrate figures in the Renaissance Triumph processions to drawings of more novel mysteries and theories from about the mid 18th century. Before that time it frequently had political overtones. After that time it became increasingly used as a teaching device for new movements. The earliest cards (Minchiate and Tarot) in Europe started with a mixed game, political and teaching modality. Many early (non-Tarot) decks included maps, learning games and political satire. Early Tarot primarily used Commedia dell'Arte images, and those were always instructive on one level or another.

Isn't the Rider Pack corrupted?

I wouldn't call it corrupted, rather that it is a different "take". The Rider Pack mixes G D ideas (especially the astrological correspondences drawn as pictures on the Minors) with 19th century Romantic Celtic pictures adapted from illustrations in Squires and other writers on Celtic mythology. Some elements may be blinds (Emperor full face), but they may as well be simply alternative ideas. The Golden Dawn altered the traditional Tarot Major sequence itself, remember --- mainly so that Trumps showing a lion and a pair of balances could line up with the preferred astrological correspondences the G D was using.

-- TSG (Bill Heidrick)

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Don`t Miss It!

Book 4, aka Magick or Liber ABA is now available at local booksellers. This is the finest publication of the work yet. It abounds with notes, never- before-seen illustrations and, for the first time, the full four parts of the work under one cover. A new color photograph of the Stele joins with the first half-tone photo reproduction of the MSS of Liber AL to grace the work. The book contains 808 pages of fine print, multiple indexes and restored material missing from all other editions. Samuel Weiser, Inc. ISBN 0-87728- 737-6, the official O.T.O. edition. Lists at US$49.95.

Events Calendar for March 1995 e.v.

3/4/95Thelema Lodge initiation 7:30PM
call to attend.
Thelema Ldg.
3/5/95Gnostic Mass 7:30PM Horus TempleThelema Ldg.
3/6/95Thelema Lodge Library night 8PM
(call to attend)
Thelema Ldg.
3/12/95Lodge Luncheon Meeting 12:30Thelema Ldg.
3/12/95Gnostic Mass 7:30PM Horus TempleThelema Ldg.
3/12/95Section 2 reading group, 8PM at OZ
Petronius' Satyricon w/Caitlin
Thelema Ldg.
3/15/95Magick in Theory and Practice class
with Bill in San Anselmo 7:30PM
Thelema Ldg.
3/19/95Gnostic Mass 7:30PM Horus TempleThelema Ldg.
3/20/95Vernal Equinox: Feast 6:15 PM
Ritual: 8:00 PM
Thelema Ldg.
3/22/95Thelema Lodge Library night 8PM
(call to attend)
Thelema Ldg.
3/25/95777 Poetry Society 7:30PM w.Fr.P.I.Thelema Ldg.
3/26/95Gnostic Mass 7:30PM Horus TempleThelema Ldg.
3/27/95Enochian Liturgy Discussion Group
8:00 PM
Thelema Ldg.
3/29/95Liber XV Study Group w. Bp. T
Dionysys 8:00PM
Thelema Ldg.
3/31/95Astrology of Pisces with Grace
7 PM, Berkeley. Call to attend.
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 officers.

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Phone: (510) 652-3171 (for events info and contact to Lodge)

Production and Circulation:
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