Thelema Lodge Calendar for July 1996 e.v.

Thelema Lodge Calendar

for July 1996 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, 1996 e.v.

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

July 1996 e.v. at Thelema Lodge

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

Announcements from
Lodge Members and Officers

Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica

Come partake of the Sanctuary of the Gnosis with the members of Thelema Lodge in celebration of Aleister Crowley's E. G. C. communion ritual, every Sunday evening in Horus Temple. In the summertime our Gnostic Mass begins at nightfall, with all participants requested to arrive by 8:00 to be ready to pass through the outer veil when the Deacon opens with the call for the entry of the People. Guests are welcome to participate as communicants in this ritual; those not already in contact with the lodge are requested to call ahead for information and directions at (510) 652-3171. Members are encouraged to form "mass teams" to take the leading roles in serving mass to the lodge, and should confer with the lodgemaster when ready to request a date on the temple schedule.

Officiation in the mass in the roles of Priestess, Priest, and Deacon has been restricted by our Patriarch during the past few years to initiates of the I° O.T.O. and above. This unfortunate and unexplained ruling has met with compliance here only under continual protest from the membership. The prohibition of occasional exceptions to this criterion has prevented the offering of a few very fine masses, as well as -- on a few occasions -- loading a burden onto our usual pool of officers when vacations and personal circumstances reduce it below a comfortable level. Some slight frustrations experienced a decade ago in teaching Liber XV to a group of Thelemic "outsiders" never represented a threat to the integrity of our performance tradition at Horus Temple, and similar concerns have not arisen since then. On the other hand, we lose opportunities of strengthening this vital tradition by the arbitrary exclusion of guest officers who evince natural ability, and we also risk compromising the efficacy of the I° initiation when it is requested prematurely for the sole purpose of satisfying the restriction. The members of Thelema Lodge, who have sustained the E. G. C. with the celebration of nearly a thousand Gnostic masses here over the past two decades, believe it is high time for a review of this needless policy.

The Rites of Eleusis

The three concluding Rites bring our cycle to a close this month, with the Rite of Venus to be held at 8:00 on Friday evening 5th July in Grace's back yard in Berkeley. Phone Michael at (510) 601-9393 for directions, or suggestions for participation. The Rite of Mercury follows at 7:30 on Wednesday evening 17th July, and will be held in Nu Temple at Oz House, where the number is (510) 654-3580. For The Rite of Luna we will gather at 8:30 on Monday evening 29th July in the Blue Lodge Room of the Scottish Rite Masonic Temple in Oakland, which is located downtown at 1547 Lakeside Drive. Contributions of appropriate food and drink will be most welcome at each of these events.

"The following is a short analysis of the series. They may be taken as illustrating Humanity -- its fate, both good and evil.
"Man, unable to solve the Riddle of Existence, takes counsel of Saturn, extreme old age. Such answer as he can get is the one word 'Despair.'
"Is there more hope in the dignity and wisdom of Jupiter? No; for the noble senior lacks the vigour of Mars the Warrior. Counsel is in vain without determination to carry it out.
"Mars, invoked, is indeed capable of victory, but he has already lost the controlled wisdom of age; in the moment of conquest he wastes the fruits of it, in the arms of luxury.
"It is through this weakness that the perfected man, the Sun, is of dual nature, and his evil twin slays him in his glory. So the triumphant Lord of Heaven, the beloved of Apollo and the Muses, is brought down into the dust, and who shall mourn him but his Mother Nature, Venus, the lady of love and sorrow? Well is it if she bears within her the Secret of Resurrection!
"But even Venus owes all her charms to the swift messenger of the Gods, Mercury, the joyous and ambiguous boy, whose tricks first scandalize and then delight Olympus.
"But Mercury, too, is found wanting. Not in him alone is the secret cure for all the woe of the human race. Swift as ever he passes, and gives place to the youngest of the Gods, to the Virginal Moon.
"Behold her, Madonna-like, throned and crowned, veiled, silent, awaiting the promise of the future. She is Isis and Mary, Istar and Bhavani, Artemis and Diana.
"But Artemis is still barren of hope until the spirit of the Infinite All, great Pan, tears asunder the veil and displays the hope of humanity, the Crowned Child of the Future."
              -- excerpted from Aleister Crowley's prospectus advertising The Rites of Eleusis, distributed late in 1910 e.v., as reprinted in The Magical Link 5:2 (New York: O.T.O., summer 1991).


Mysteria Mystica Maxima is the structure which Crowley was chartered to create in 1912 e.v. to organize the work of the Man of Earth degrees in the O.T.O. within the English-speaking world. Crowley took a radical step at this point, revising the initiation rituals for these degrees to give them their present shape and symbolism, and establishing them as an independent parallel to the surviving freemasonic initiation series of the previous aeon. The dynamic of initiation, where a secret community gathers to admit candidates by constructing a controlled crisis to purify and consecrate the new member in the wisdom of each successive grade, is easily diminished by alterations to the rituals. The authority for initiation lies not in "updated" scripts but in the continuity of the experience which all initiates of each degree share across time and space.
The modern O.T.O. maintains Crowley's tradition in letter and spirit, offering initiation all over the world. These initiations are available to those who are "free, of full age, and of good report," when requested by application to a chartered lodge or oasis. Several of our initiators at Thelema Lodge are only two or three "generations" removed from Crowley himself in the transmission of these rituals. Application forms may be requested from the officers of the lodge, and should be submitted when complete to the lodgemaster for forwarding to the U. S. Initiation Secretary. A period of at least forty days is required in the application process, and additional time may be required for scheduling. Candidates must take it upon themselves to keep in touch with the lodge during this probationary period. Payment of annual O.T.O. dues and of initiation fees is a condition of advancement, and these will be collected on the day of the ritual.

Active initiates of the III° and above in O.T.O. are invited to a meeting in Horus Temple on Saturday evening 13th June at 7:30. Brother Jim Graeb, a past master of Thelema Lodge and an initiator of long experience, will lead a discussion of the work of the Blue Lodge (the first three degrees in the initiatory system patterned upon freemasonry), which will open out into contemplation of the Royal Arch of the IV°. Third degree members considering further advancement in the coming year should attend (or send word if they are unable to be present).

Classes and Events

The visionary poetry, illuminations, and paintings of William Blake will be the subject of an evening of readings and discussion with the Section Two group at Oz House on Monday evening 22nd July; for directions call (510) 654- 3580. Join Caitlin and her circle of aspirants at 8:00, bringing your favorite Blake volumes for reading and display. Blake (28 November 1757 to 12 August 1827) came from a middle-class family of London tradesmen, who sent him to an outstanding drawing school before entering him as apprentice to a traditional engraver. Although never wealthy, he was raised comfortably in the culture of London. Blake was not even remotely Irish, and would not have recognized the name of "O'Neill" which Crowley attached to him in the reading list. (The young W. B. Yeats ignorantly claimed Blake as a fellow Irishman when a publisher allowed him to annotate Blake's works in a haze of Theosophical and Celtic speculation.) Inspired by the rhetoric of English non-conformist religion, the poetry of Chaucer and Milton, the theosophy of Swedenborg, the politics of revolution, and the revival of Gothic design, Blake charted an entire Gnostic universe of his own creation. For Crowley, in Confessions, Blake serves as an example of the secondary class of religious leaders: "Such men as Blake and Boehme claimed to have entered into direct communication with discarnate intelligence which may be considered as personal, creative, omnipotent, unique, identical with themselves or otherwise. Its authority depends on 'the interior certainty' of the seer" (page 395).

Previous Section Two                   Next Section Two

The Court Cards will be the focus of the fourth meeting in Bill Heidrick's series on Tarot this month, continuing our exploration of the three parts of the deck. Join this illustrated lecture and discussion, which meets in Bill's home at 5 Suffield Avenue in San Anselmo at 7:30 Wednesday evening, 24th July. In addition to the color slides which accompany the discourse, there will be dozens of variant editions of the Tarot on display, from facsimiles of the earliest Renaissance Italian cards to idiosyncratic modern versions designed to accommodate various traditions of divination and iconography. Example readings from the cards will be offered to demonstrate a variety of styles, layouts, and interpretative strategies for presenting their meaning in response to specific questions and issues. Additional information and directions may be obtained by calling Bill ahead of time at (415) 454-5176.

The John Dee reading group with Clay Holden meets in the library at Thelema Lodge on Saturday evening 27th July at 7:00 to continue our reading of Liber Mysteriorum Tertius. The four "spiritual actions" which Dee transcribed into this diary were conducted with his assistant Edward Kelly over the course of one week in the middle of spring in the year 1582. After the seven tables of heptarchy have been painstakingly copied out of the crystal "shewstone," the 49 names derived from them are listed and analyzed.

Grace's workshop series on "The Houses of Astrology" meets on Friday evening 26th July at her house in Berkeley, from 7:00 to 9:00. Our focus this month will be on the Second House. In a chart, the Second House shows the personal worth of the native, or material worth of the entity, for which the chart was drawn. It indicates personal security, assets, movable possessions, bank accounts, and such things as diplomas, certificates, or other acknowledgements of skills which improve earning potential. Grace's workshops are open to all students, and the interests of all levels of astrological competence can be accommodated. This is, however, not a "drop-in" event, and all who plan to attend should please phone ahead at (510) 843-STAR to let Grace know.

Participants are welcome at the Scrying workshop being offered by the Enochian Liturgy Group on Saturday evening 20th July at 8:00. This group meets in Horus Temple, and information may be obtained by calling Michael Sanborn at (510) 601-9393.

The Thelema Lodge "luncheon meeting" is scheduled this month for Sunday afternoon 14th July, from 12:30 to 2:30. Library Nights have been reserved on the calendar for Tuesday evening 9th July and Thursday evening 18th July, from 8:00 to 10:00. To attend these events, contact the lodge by phone ahead of time, or otherwise communicate your intentions to one of the lodge officers.

Crowley Classics

"Introduction" to A Prophet in His Own Country: being the Letters of Stuart x [pseudonym of Henry Clifford Stuart], edited with an introduction and notes by Aleister Crowley (Washington, DC: published by the author, 1916) -- an example of Crowley's writing for hire.

"Introduction" to A Prophet in His Own Country

[part one]

by Aleister Crowley

It is a generally recognized fact that the onlooker sees most of the game. The rulers of a country make most of their mistakes because the knowledge of detail which is constantly thrust upon them is so great that it binds them to fundamental considerations. The emergencies of the moment lure them into bypaths in which they become lost. Those ancient governors who, despairing of their own judgment, consulted the oracles, were truly wise. England never made so serious a mistake as when she failed to utilize the brain of Carlyle. The tendency of all men who are immersed in affairs, whether public or private, is to become concentrated upon tactical problems, and in so doing this they lose sight of the principles of strategy. The real ruler or adviser of a nation should be a man entirely free from the expediencies of the passing day. The mischief wrought by failure to understand these facts is particularly obvious in finance. Politics, in some countries at least, is still looked after by men of broad general education; but finance is entirely in the hands of experts. Its terminology has been deliberately complicated; partly, no doubt, as in the case of law, with the idea of making it easier to hoodwink the layman; but the so-called experts themselves have become totally oblivious of the fundamental principles of their own business. Even worse, they have become ensnared by the greatest of all possible delusions; not only are they ignorant of the truth, but they believe most firmly its exact opposite. Money appears to them the only thing of value, whereas in reality it has no value whatever. It is merely a convenient medium of exchange of commodities which have value. If it were not for this, the present system could never have been created. As things are, a piece of paper is just as good as a piece of gold; but, as everyone knows, even the financiers, ninety five per cent of the gold never existed. The possibility of calling for gold has so frightened those very people who have been screaming for years that gold was the only basis, that already there has been a threat to demonetize gold. This is no vain threat. It is quite possible and will almost certainly be necessary; though probably the process will be carried out by some trick which will conceal the fact from the people. But you cannot demonetize wheat, or coal, or copper, and any one who possesses these things can call for anything he likes in payment for them, and be sure of getting it. But the financiers of the day avoid all consideration of the enormous calamity threatened by the present situation. They are only excited by perfectly trivial and temporary events, such as small movements in the value of stocks. It never occurs to them that the most trifling shifts in the real economic situation may reduce the value of stocks to nothing a tall. The history of finance has always been the history of more or less desperate efforts to hide these facts. And the drastic expedients adopted at the beginning of the war shew clearly enough in what delicate scales the business of the world is weighed.
Now, whenever a crisis occurs in the affairs of the world, it is imperative that they should be examined de novo by a mind which has never lost sight of fundamentals. The expert becomes useless at such times for the very reason that he is an expert. Temporary expedients will not serve. As a matter of fact, this is always more or less subconsciously recognized by the good sense of the people. The hopes which were excited by the election of Mr Wilson to the presidency were based entirely on the fact that he was not a professional politician. In the same way, in England, to take a recent example, Edward VII was trusted and respected by the people principally because he had won the Derby. The instinct of democracy is always sound; its mistakes are due to that instinct being overlaid by the partial development of its intellect, which too often leads it wrong. But in moments of calm it invariably distrusts the appeals which are made to its cupidity of its cowardice; and it much prefers its affairs to be in the hands of ordinary, sensible men of the world. The political tragedy of England today is largely due to the replacing of the good, old-fashioned, honest statesmen, like Lord Salisbury (stupid as he was) by clever and ambitious nobodies like Rufus Isaacs and Lloyd George. It seems just possible that the present catastrophe which has overwhelmed Europe and threatens to engulf civilization entire may arouse the deepest instincts of the people, and cause them to appeal to the only types of men who can save them -- the Prophet and the Poet. America has no Poet, and may be counted exceedingly fortunate in possessing a Prophet of the first class:
Mr Henry Clifford Stuart.
Imagine to yourself a big man, a really big man, six foot three in height, broad and well-proportioned. The entire impression is of bigness. And as should always be the case with homo sapiens, the most important part if the impression is given by the head. Such a brow is only seen in the world's greatest thinkers.
Mr Stuart was born in 1864 in Brooklyn, N.Y. His father, John Stuart, was a Captain of the 51st and Lieutenant Colonel of the 63rd New York Volunteers. His is the perfect and ideal type, fast disappearing, of the aristocratic American. Mr Stuart was educated in San Francisco, California; but it is one of his favorite claims that he is not educated. Rather, he would say, he is beginning to educate himself. And this is one of the secrets of his immense power of brain. By education in the ordinary sense we mean that an old fool bullies a young fool into agreeing with him. In order to obtain a university degree it is necessary to stultify oneself by agreeing with the particular clique of fifth rate minds who, having been totally unable to carve out any way in the world, have become sodden in the backwater of a university; and taken up teaching as a profession, because they are incapable of learning. One has only to think of a subject like history to see how lop-sided conventional education always is. Even in more truly scientific subjects there is the same parochialism. Consider Sir William Hamilton and his doctrine of the quantification of the predicate, which everybody in Edinborough in his time had to accept, or fail in the examination, but which every other school in Europe regarded as nonsense. Such training can only serve to unbalance and destroy the mind. Mr Stuart avoided this tragedy. Instead, he read everything, kept his eyes open, and never allowed the specious arguments of the logician to lure him into conclusions opposed to common sense. Almost every writer falls into some trap. Either he omits a premise, or takes a false one, or commits some logical error unperceived. But with such skill does he execute his sophistry, and so deeply does his vanity flatter him, that even the most careful revision fails to discover the error. Consequently, humanity is always the prey of deceptions. Think for example of the arguments in favor of vegetarianism. It is impossible to refute them. At the same time they are totally invalid, because they neglect one single, small, but all-important fact: "Man is a carnivorous animal." The calibre of Mr Stuart's mind is such that he is incapable of being of hoodwinked by any mere arguments, however clever, cogent, and convincing. He invariably applies the standard of truth, intuitive or instinctive, to the conclusion. And if there be a contradiction, he perceives it instantly. A brain of this kind is peculiarly useful in America, where the people are the slaves of false logic. In transplanting themselves from their native soil, they have left behind them their greatest possession: inherited race knowledge. I have never yet met a stupid American. But Mr Stuart is almost the only one whom I have met who was not silly. No people are so quick to perceive the meaning of what is said, or so eager to listen to what may be said, but they judge entirely by what is said: they have no standard of atavistic experience to tell them whether it is right or wrong. The most ignorant peasant in Europe, who firmly believes in ghosts and vampires and werewolves, who cannot read or write, has never travelled beyond the radius of twenty miles from his hamlet, and knows nothing of his country's affairs, much less of the world's, could never be so insensible to the facts of human nature as Henry Ford. You could argue with him "til all was blue," but you would never even begin to persuade him. He would know it was all nonsense, just in the same way as you cannot fool a dog about a tramp. It is true that this instinct is sometimes wrong after all in certain minor matters, because now and then conditions do change. But in all fundamental points humanity has not altered since the cave man. A friend of mine was arguing the other day about this very matter. "Nowadays," said his opponent, "if you want a girl, you cannot `twist your knuckles in her hair, Club her, and drag her bleeding to your cave." "No," said my friend, "things have changed a great deal since the eighth of July!"
It is just this capacity for seeing everything sub specie aeternatitis which distinguishes the great artist or the great seer, even to a certain extent the great statesman, from plausible imitations. We do not value Shakespeare's histories for their political views; in fact, the portrait of Joan of Arc is a stain upon the character of the poet which no ages can efface. (But the English always blackguard gallant enemies.) The merit of the histories lies almost entirely in the character of Falstaff, who has nothing to do with the period. And the political errors of Shakespeare show how difficult it is, even for one who has the vision of the eternal, to keep straight when he comes to deal with the temporal. But the explanation is that Shakespeare was a snob, the lackey of debauched noblemen, without virility or independence of character. Courage is certainly the first of the virtues, for without it none of the others can be exercised. In the case of statesmen a little more latitude must be allowed, because they are compelled to deal with the conditions of the moment. But, even there, the best epithet that can be applied in praise of such a man is that he is far-sighted; and the way to be far-seeing is to refuse to be obsessed by the expediencies of the hour. And while it is of course impossible to make every particular conform to the general, it can at least be arranged that it should not be in flagrant contradiction to the first principles.
As a concrete example, the annexation of conquered countries. Economic or military reasons have often been allowed to over-ride considerations of the will of the inhabitants. Such acts have almost invariable cause trouble later on, and such trouble frequently extends far beyond the territory in dispute. The injury to the fingertip poisons the whole body. The Germans in 1870, when asked whom they were fighting, replied: "Louis XIV." And it was because that monarch tried to extend his dominions that they, at this present moment of writing, are invaded. The need of an independent mind in dealing with all such matters is evident. Not only must the statesman be a philosopher, but he should also have in his composition not a little of the mystic. We do not use the word mystic in the specialized sense, in which it is too often employed today. The true mystic is one who sees all phenomena without bias, prejudice, self-interest, or obfuscation. In thinking of kingdoms, he thinks of spiritual kingdoms; and here again we must use the word spiritual in its oldest and widest sense. In such kingdoms faith is more than frontiers, language and literature more than markets. Ireland has been systematically depopulated; every engine of oppression has been set in motion against her; but she has never been conquered and never can be conquered, because the Anglo-Saxon can never get her point of view. In the same way India has overcome every one of her invaders in turn, though she has never been able to resist even the least of them successfully by arms. The English in India have become, within two generations, more Indian than the Indians themselves, in many important respects, particularly in that of caste. In the case of South Africa it is once again evident how far more vital than material considerations are the spiritual. The Boers, driven from one settlement to another by the most barefaced treachery and tyranny, and finally conquered in their last stronghold by invading armies outnumbering them twenty to one, were yet able to reconquer their country for themselves, without a drop of bloodshed, within a decade of the fall of Pretoria.
But in order to perceive the rights and wrongs of all such matters independence of mind is just as necessary as clearness of vision. When the man can be influenced by considerations of his own welfare, when hope and fear find any place in his mind, he is no longer to be trusted. The only man who can fulfil this condition is the prophet. (It must be remembered that the functions of poet and prophet were originally identical. The distinction between them is the artificial one of form. The states of mind are identical.) A true prophet lives only by virtue of his inner vision. He is responsible to what he calls God, and to nothing and nobody else. Such men are rare, as are all other types of genius. And it is the innate perception of this fact that causes the people to look for prophets always, but most especially in times of crisis. For this reason also false prophets abound. It is only natural that the valuable should be counterfeited. But the test of the true prophet is a very simple one. It is the independence of his mind. False prophets are venal, time-servers, flatterers. They make it a rule to say what other people wish to hear. They have no grasp of fundamentals, of essentials, of the spiritual truths that lie beneath the accidental and temporary phenomena which obsess other minds. They are also characterized by simplicity. There is no sophistication in their intellect. When they add up two and two it always makes four.
Even when you have your true prophet, however, it is commonly found that there are difficulties in using him. Firstly, his uncompromising directness, and the fierce quality in him, need tempering with tact; or seem to do so. Secondly, his utterances are often obscure, or seem to be obscure. They are not really so. But where a thoroughly sophisticated mind, nursed on false premises and schooled in sophistries, receives the impact of the prophetic intelligence, it is bewildered by the simplicity of that intelligence. One is reminded of the story of charlatans who proposed to weave for the emperor a robe which should be visible only to the innocent. They made no robe at all. But the emperor and all his ministers had to pretend that they saw one; and the fraud passed undetected until a child in the street cried out: "But the King is naked!" Nowadays, however, people are not so easily undeceived. The child would very likely not be understood. The word "naked" is not in the vocabulary of the fashionable dressmaker; besides which, the word is improper. We know that there are no such things! So that even if a dawning perception of the meaning of the prophet strikes the more enlightened minds, it is often put aside with a sort of horror; although that word has been awaited with yearning and anxiety.
Now it must be confessed that this objection does to some extent apply to the writings which we have under consideration. Mr Stuart's style is as difficult as Wagner's or Whistler's were to their contemporaries. We have acquiesced so long in the false meanings which have been placed upon the simplest words by those whose interest it is to deceive us, that when those words are used in their proper, simple sense, we hardly recognize them. For this reason we have deemed it necessary to comment in various places upon these letters. It is also to be remarked how curious a form Mr Stuart has chosen for the expression of his thoughts. It is simple, attractive, and convenient, and possesses the great advantage that his messages are automatically dated.

Previous Crowley Classics                   To be continued

An Introduction to Qabalah

Part XVII -- Difficulties and the Qlipot..

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

In this part of the series, we will be dealing with things in Qabalah that are especially connected to Netzach, number 7 on the Tree. Within that wider field, the focus will be upon an examination of each of the 10 Sephirot for problems or difficulties that may arise. There is a lot of talk about the negative Tree or the opposite Tree, but most of this is either oversimplified, personified excessively or exaggerated. We will look at each of the 10 Sephirot to see what kinds of things are awkward in those states of consciousness. This is particularly applicable to Netzach, since Netzach is the most unstable of the lower Sephirot. It almost invariably starts to backslide as soon as you've got a grip on it, since it possesses the quality of the Illusion of Success.
Malkut is one of the four Sephirot that traditional Qabalah sees as possessing a Qlipot. A Qlipot is a shell -- a thing that contains force, consciousness or life energy in dysfunctional fashion. There are other shells, but these four: Netzach, Hod, Yesod and Malkut have major problems. The other Sephirot occasionally show problems, but those are generally derived from a flaw, restriction or lack of development in the bottom four Sephirot. The Qlipot for Malkut is just plain physical weakness or the inadequacy of one's physical forces --- if you run out of money that's the shell or Qlipot of Malkut. If you feel tired, sick or the world around you is not providing everything you need that is a fundamental problem of Malkut. Such a problem in Malkut will also show up elsewhere on the Tree, but physical weakness or inadequacy means the root of the difficulty is in Malkut. Hod may be involved because of rigid planning and refusal to adjust to limiting conditions. Yesod may divert the mind with daydreams or illusions when the body is tired. The other Sephirot may follow, each contributing an added encumbrance on an inadequate foundation. Malkut is the template for both beneficial qualities and defects in the other Sephirot, when the Tree is viewed as a model for attainment or assessment of human mental states.
The path of Taw coming out of Malkut and up to Yesod is in a sense the whole Tree. You can string a miniature Tree of ideas from Malkut to Yesod, and it is as though that's the seed from which the rest of the Tree grows. Any defect on the Tree will show up in Malkut as a flaw in resources and in Taw as a deficiency in effort. All things that are made permanent are made permanent in Malkut, the physical world; and any flaw in the Tree will inevitably appear there.
It is the nature of Malkut that material things are often uncontrolled and may surpass human endurance. Deal with this shell by recognizing that it is there. It cannot be completely conquered, for there will always be some flaw, some limitation on the physical plane. It is necessary to accept this as an unavoidable condition, to be anticipated where possible and to be considered part and parcel with incarnation. There is an art to discovering when and where you are strong and sensitizing yourself in those moments of strength with the foreknowledge of inevitable moments of weakness. That is the way of avoiding entrapment in the shell of Malkut.
The Qliphot of Yesod is a limitation in the ability to imagine or fantasize. A person may experience hesitation, a simple break in the sense of the flow of things. This can happen if someone is talking to you and suddenly says something that bothers or distracts you. Yesod's flaw is not as serious as that of Malkut, since experience in life enables one to limit its effect or at least diminish it. You can control the extent to which you are startled out of a comfortable place. Meditation is often assailed by this kind of problem since meditation takes the form of a flowing reverie and usually starts as a controlled fantasy. Mantra can ride over these flickerings of the mind. Fear in the form of panic can interfere in Yesod especially by causing one to loose interest or to divert attention completely from an imagining or a fantasy. Some forms of Magick plan around the Qlipot of Yesod, deliberately inducing startlement for the sake of ritual effect. In such an application it's not a flaw, but a release, an opening and a sudden flow of power. The true Qlipot of Yesod is a loss, a complete break of mood or imagination. Such a break can turn a fantasy away, weaken a meditation and cut off an inspiration.
Hod is a place of practical intelligence, and the Qlipot of Hod often takes the form of excessive mental rigidity. Hod tries to rule too strictly by covering every possible thing, trying to use more mental control than is possible. The shell of Hod is simply the limitation of the rational mind. There are times when you just can't manage to be that complete. Even if you could, by healing every wound, repairing every damage, and eliminating everything that doesn't fit, you might destroy the very gates through which you may continue to grow -- like someone plastering all the doors and windows of a building.
The flaws of the Sepherot are of two kinds, not enough and too much. This is true of all of them, but especially of Hod, Netzach, Yesod and Malkut. Inadequacy is obvious but excess is often overlooked because it seems like virtue. Except for Temperance, any virtue carried to excess is vice; and the only way Temperance can escape the failing is by applying Temperance to Temperance. All the Sephirot can be seen to have such potential flaws, either something is not strong enough to produce that Sephera in its proper form or it manifests too strongly and breaks the balance of the Tree.
Each Sephira will have unique variations on excess and insufficiency, often combined. In Hod one may try to do something that is not ready or suited to be done. The classical example is trying to put a square peg in a round hole. Only frustration or breakage can result from that. It is common at such times to experience a weakening of the imagination and a physical lethargy, as the Qlipot of Hod cascades down to those of Yesod and Malkut. Being too much in the rational mind will lead to loneliness. This pain is typically seen in one who has been obsessive in Hod. There is a feeling that all these great mysteries and practical ideas are there, that you have a touch of them but cannot communicate them. Other people are not interested. The world does not respond to what you see as great in the world. From that feeling of misery and loneliness there may come a sense that change and further growth is needed in a new direction. The Qliphoth of Hod has that little bit of an opening in it. Such a realization may lead you to distrust the rigidity of the rational mind and rise in due course to Netzach.
The Qlipot of Netzach is called Nogah or shining splendor. This is the last of the difficult flaws in the Sephirot -- the sense of things being perfect, being alright so you can cease to apply effort. Usually the first encounter with Netzach is one of joy, release and delight, especially when it is experienced after the dryness and loneliness of Hod. The moment one breaks through is the moment that one must work the hardest, to maintain, improve and go beyond the Illusion of Success. A example: suppose someone who enjoys music started dreaming; "what if I get together a band, write the songs and play these things? I could be famous!" If that spills over into imagination too completely, the pleasure of the accomplishment would be briefly experienced, but no work to create the band would be done. That's the problem of Netzach. Although it's less severe than the Qlipot we have already examined, it is more tricky. To conquer this flaw is simple. Keep on doing the same things which led up to the start of success. This is like a brushing with enlightenment, not partial enlightenment since this can be utterly lost. With Tipharet you can have partial enlightenment, something that will leave a trace and be attainable again with less difficulty -- not with Netzach. Over- reaching is also possible in Netzach; and this is the place of Hubris, the fault of overweening pride. You can run into trouble with Netzach by either slacking off at the wrong time or pushing too much based on misplaced faith in ability. When things seem to be going great, one may disregard the usual ways of dealing with people, places and oneself. At that point you skip Hod, you skip Yesod and you break in Malkut. Lack of known precautions also hits hard in Netzach, from not bothering to note where you parked a car to getting so far out to sea in a small boat that you can't find the land. Instead of a fall straight down from Netzach into Malkut this would be a fall directly down into Yesod. That's the fantasy breaking underneath Netzach.
The secret to Netzach is that which brings it through --- the quality of endurance.

Previous Introduction to Qabalah, Part XVI                   Next: Problems of the middle Sephirot.

from the Grady Project:

Alien Star

Deeper by far
Than any star
Deeper than the Unknown Night
The spaceworm spins its prison bar
Its casement tower, height on height
"Shell by the Abyssal Crustacea"

    Alien Star
    Alien Light
    Shine upon our Alien Fright
    Alien Sun
    Alien Star
    Shine upon our Prison Bar

The nematodes
In their abodes
Renew the categories
The scaly reptile in the roads
Seeks on Her Lunar glories
"Shell by the Abyssal Crustacea"

    Alien Star
    Alien Light
    Shine upon our Alien Fright
    Alien Sun
    Alien Star
    Shine upon our Prison Bar

-- Grady L. McMurtry
8/21/61 e.v.           

This is one of Grady's best-known poems, and was originally published in The O.T.O. Newsletter 1:2 (Berkeley: December 1977), then in The Magickal Link 3:10 (Berkeley: October 1983), and The Bystander 1:3 (Berkeley: Ankh-af-na-Khonsu Lodge, O.T.O., September 1986), as well as the volume of Grady McMurtry Poems (London, UK & Bergen, Norway: O.T.O., 1986), before being collected in The Grady Project 4 (Berkeley: Thelema Lodge, December 1988), and lately also in The Red Flame 1 (Oakland: Pangenator Lodge, 1995).

In the cycle The Angel and the Abyss, this poem corresponds to the Moon trump, Atu XVIII, and Grady regarded it as a breakthrough in his own poetic development. With this utterance, he "went into a different dimension" as a poet. The cycle, he recalled, "began with perfectly ordinary poetry . . . . And then, sure enough, right there in the middle, was the 'break' the Magician is always looking for in any Magical Experiment, that point where you go 'from one universe to another,' as the poet says, or where you 'take a little leap,' as Einstein put it." (from Grady's essay "On the Thelemic Vibration" in The Magickal Link (Berkeley: O.T.O., October 1983).

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Primary Sources

Old Agape Politics:
In this letter to Karl Germer of March 27th, 1943 e.v., Agape Lodge member Max Schneider provides a view of the tensions, prejudices, fears, factions andoccasional good ideas that forever emerge in small but diverse groups. At the time this letter was written, W.T.Smith had been removed as master of the Lodge, speculation was rampant about replacement and a good deal of exaggerated side-taking was in progress. Recriminations and paranoia held the day, and some of Max's judgments should be taken in that light. In the midst of this, Max did manage to come up with a good suggestion -- one which was later independently put into practice in the Associate Membership program of O.T.O.
Change a few names and this letter of a over a half century ago would read like many seen too often in the present day. Most OTO groups go through at least one crisis of this sort, with all these symptoms. That's a common experience of everything from Senate committees to week night card parties. People tend to "point the finger" in times of stress, but all too few make constructive suggestions instead of factional ones. It's an unpleasantness of human nature, positive only in that it represents an effort at place and meaning. The solution is perspective, and this letter is offered in that light.
Max Schneider created Crowley's "Nuit" seal ring, the mark of which continues to appear on OTO charters and certificates.

P.O.Box 2411,
Hollywood, Calif.

March 27, 1943.
Dear Karl,

Thank you for your letter of March 17th, which I highly appreciated. -- I wish you luck in the difficult task of getting the Pasadena situation straightened out.

I have not head from Jane again since my visit with her at her sister's house; but while she seemed more like her natural self, it is obvious that the influence of her environment for over 10 years cannot be so easily eliminated. The term used by 666, vampirisation, describes that influence quite fittingly. I am very thankful to an inner voice that cautioned me against this danger a few months after I arrived in California, and that I escaped it. -- It may interest you to know how Jane was "taken in". Soon after she had met Smith, she wrote a number of letters to 666, describing his inadequacies. 666 replied that she must "accept" him, meaning no doubt, that the blemishes must be accepted as part of the whole individual. But this was interpreted in the sense (both by Smith and Jane), that she must accept his "authority" and direction. So that as time went on even the letters she wrote under her own signature, actually emanated from Smith.
The difficulty as to who is to lead Agape Lodge in the future; Jane evidently is not strong enough; you are probably right about Jack Parson's unripeness; I am not particularly keen on the job of taking over the rehabilitation of a lodge that has been so badly mismanaged and has acquired an undesirable reputation to the extent of inviting the repeated scrutinies of the local police as well as of the F.B.I. (Winona Blvd. was known as a "hangout" of homosexuals and lesbians, people who did not have the slightest interest in the Work). -- And Roy's ranch is about 125 miles from Pasadena, which under the present restrictions on tires, etc., is a point to be considered, not to mention the fact that taking care of all the chores of the ranch does not leave him much time. It is a problem.

Here are some suggestions: the profess house idea should be abandoned at Pasadena; Smith very ill-advisedly started it at Winona Blvd. several years before there even was a lodge, and it became the source of most of the trouble. It takes a personality of special talents to run such a house successfully, and whenever another profess house is to be started anywhere, someone should see to it that none but members obligated at least to the 3rd degree should reside in it. -- It also seems to me that consideration should be given to the possibilities of arranging for membership at large in the O.T.O., particularly in localities where there are no lodges, until such a time when sufficient nuclei shall have been formed. Some revenue could no doubt be derived from such an arrangement.

No, I am not disappointed about 666 seeming to be a little on Roy's side; I am on his side too -- in wanting him to succeed and to that end free himself from excessive family-ties and influences. Georgia's report and mine were not coloured by personal prejudices and I do not allow myself to be influenced by female rivalries, even when they exist. The rule to which you refer is a good one, generally speaking, but purity of motive also should count for something. Let me assure you that I do not intend to suppress expression of my true point of view, whenever the good of the work is at stake.

I thoroughly appreciate A.C.'s wisdom in not wishing to charge me with the Pasadena job "in view of many resentments". They do no doubt exist in Smith's mind, but then -- he always resented anyone who relied on his own faculties and could not be manipulated. It is possible that others also feel resentment toward me, but I do not know why, unless this feeling has been implanted by Smith. Peace to all Beings!

And since with the coming of the Equinox of Spring we have entered a new year, may it prove to be a happier one for all concerned.

    With all my Love,

{signed} Max {Schneider}

P.S. A.C.'s long awaited letter finally arrived; over a month via airmail! -- With it a very interesting six page article on food. -- I am passing it along to Roy who phoned last night from Altadena; he had come in to buy more calves; has now 26 of them. He seemed in very good spirits and may visit me next week-end. -- Let me know if you want to use the article and I shall ask Roy to send it to you.

I am enclosing a carbon of this letter for your convenience, in case you want to forward it to 666. -- Shall answer his letter soon.

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From the Outbasket

Here's an illustration to accompany my current Tarot series, and the mention of William Blake earlier in this issue. Any remaining doubts that Blake was familiar with Tarot?

Blake's engraving of the Fool of Tarot, a minute later than most versions.

(Originally published as an illustration of William Hayky's The Dog, plate 396. Reproduced here with thanks to David McIrvine, who kindly provided the Editor with a photocopy)

For additional examples of Blake's use of Tarot in his art, consider his Illustrations to the Book of Job. Counting the title page (which is not numbered and has a large Aleph in the spelling of "Job", there are 22 illustrations. Each is numbered, from 1 to 21. Several have a suggestive quality about them, which evokes Tarot a bit. Two are far from merely suggestive. No. 15 shows Leviathan and Behemoth --- reasonably appropriate for the Devil Trump. No. 16 shows two figures falling in flames upside down from a blasted tower.

Perhaps some of his poetic imagery has a debt to Tarot as well, but the case is less clear. This famous poem from Songs of Experience is suggestive of Strength, but stands well on it's own:

The Tyger

Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

In what distant deeps or skies
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand dare sieve the fire?

And what shoulder, & what art,
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand? & what dread feet?

What the hammer? what the chain?
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread gasp
Dare its deadly terrors clasp?

When the stars threw down their spears,
And water'd heaven with their tears,
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?

Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

-- William Blake

-- TSG (Bill Heidrick)

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Events Calendar for July 1996 e.v.

7/5/96The Rite of Venus (at Grace's) 8PMIndependent
7/7/96Gnostic Mass 8:00PM Horus TempleThelema Ldg.
7/9/96Thelema Lodge Library night 8PM
(call to attend)
Thelema Ldg.
7/14/96Thelema Lodge Luncheon meeting 12:30Thelema Ldg.
7/14/96Gnostic Mass 8:00PM Horus TempleThelema Ldg.
7/17/96The Rite of Mercury (at OZ) 7:30PMIndependent
7/18/96Thelema Lodge Library night 8PM
(call to attend)
Thelema Ldg.
7/20/96IIIrd and IVth deg. OTO initiates
meeting 7:30PM at Horus temple
(changed from date in printed edition)
Thelema Ldg.
7/21/96Gnostic Mass 8:00PM Horus TempleThelema Ldg.
7/22/96Section 2 reading group w/Catlin
The Poetry of William Blake
8PM at Oz house
Thelema Ldg.
7/24/96Tarot with Bill Heidrick, 7:30 PM
in San Anselmo at 5 Suffield Ave.
Thelema Ldg.
7/26/96"The Houses in Astrology" workshop
with Grace in Berkeley 7 PM
Thelema Ldg.
7/27/96John Dee Reading Group with Clay
7PM in the Library. Mysteriorum
Liber Tertius.
Thelema Ldg.
7/28/96Gnostic Mass 8:00PM Horus TempleThelema Ldg.
7/29/96The Rite of Luna (old AASR Temple
near Lake Merit in Oakland) 8:30PM

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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Berkeley, CA 94702 USA

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

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