Thelema Lodge Calendar for December 1999 e.v.
Thelema Lodge Calendar
for December 1999 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, 1999 e.v.
Ordo Templi Orientis
Berkeley, CA 94702 USA
December 1999 e.v. at Thelema Lodge Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
Lodge Members and Officers
The Year's Midnight
Light up the year's longest night in Horus Temple with a ritual for the
winter solstice on Tuesday 21st December, beginning at 7:00. Celebrate the
darkness and the change of seasons with Thelema Lodge, and join in afterwards
with a communal dinner feast (contributed by all who can bring a dish to
share). Speak with the lodge officers right away to be involved with the
ritual (and during the preceding week to coordinate the food). Get up your
spirits for the vulgar holy daze ahead with a renewal of the real thing!
Later that Tuesday at 11:44 PM the sun enters Capricornus, just in time for a
last kiss goodnight.
Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica
The gnostic mass is celebrated according to Aleister Crowley's Liber XV
every Sunday evening at Thelema Lodge, with guests always welcome to
participate in the communion with us. Arrive by 7:30 any Sunday night at
Horus Temple, or call well ahead to the lodgemaster for directions if
attending for the first time. Members here take turns serving each other as
officers in the mass, and all communicants are encouraged to study the ritual
for themselves, and to experiment with its language and techniques. Organize
a mass team and give the formal performance a try; you'll want to work
privately at first, until your presentation begins to match your
understanding. Once you've got it down, look up your favorite gnostic bishop
for advice on a few of the finer points, and then see the lodgemaster about a
date on the temple calendar.
We have many visitors to mass, some of whom know the eucharist ritual in
related forms or in alternate styles as observed among "faiths" of the old
aeon, or in parallel "gnostic" communions of the "new age." Visitors even
from other E.G.C. temples within the Order, some of which may be a bit more
staid and sober than ours, have been occasionally surprised at finding that
our mass dances and cheers and brings everyone up to the altar before the end.
We've "celebrated" the gnostic mass this way through a couple of decades now,
and have longsince passed our thousandth regular Sunday evening mass. In
terms of emphasis and attitude, our various teams of officers offer a healthy
range of approaches to the ritual, although it is true that we never quite
seem to attain absolute solemnity. We leave everyone to curb their own dogma
here, and apart from the rare hardened controvercialist we all succeed in
having a good time at mass. (We hope no one will disapprove when they find
our gnostic temple furnished for the people with futons around the edges
instead of pews. Worshippers working in pews are too apt to fall onto the
N.O.X. And It Shall Be Open
The College of Hard N.O.X., Thelema Lodge's semimonthly discussion group
devoted to issues of interest to Thelemites will meet in December in the lodge
library at 8 o'clock on the evenings of the 1st and the 29th. Our format is
highly informal and our exchange of opinions is often quite frank. Topics
will be determined by a consensus of the attendees. A donation will be
requested in lieu of tuition fees. Those who are unable to attend in person
may still enter the debate by joining our email list, N.O.X. Online, at
Previous NOX Next NOX
Bearing the Golden Bough
Meeting in the library at Thelema Lodge with Caitlin on Monday evening 13th
December at 8:00, the lodge's "suggestive literature" reading group offers a
discussion of The Golden Bough. Guided by the closing comments of Crowley's
A A curriculum, and generalizing from the references there to various folk
literatures, our "section two" group will venture this month to borrow an item
from "section one": the ultimate Victorian folklore compendium, by Sir James
George Frazer (1854-1941). It might almost seem as if Frazer accomplished the
project of the fictional scholar Edward Casaubon in George Eliot's Middlemarch
(1871-2), whose great work was called The Key to All Mythologies. But
Frazer's study, which expanded over several editions (1890, 1900, and 1906-
1915) into a great twelve-volume collection of scholarship (with a
supplemental thirteenth volume appearing in 1936), is nothing like the dry
monograph upon which Casaubon was engaged. Frazer's vast romantic framework
holds together a series of compelling and insightful studies, surprisingly
objective in their analyses of cultural, moral, and religious issues. The Golden Bough was from its initial publication a best-selling and widely
influential work, perhaps the greatest scholarly survey of ritual magic before
Crowley's own writings. Frazer drew upon a huge data base combining history
and ethnography, developed over the course of a prolonged fellowship at
Trinity College, Cambridge, beginning in 1879. When Crowley matriculated to
the same college in 1895, Frazer's stipend there was just being renewed for a
fourth five-year term, although the scholar himself was frequently away
traveling in Greece.
The Golden Bough aims to be a universal ethnographic survey, organized to
express a quasi-narrative development. The subject is kingship and the magic
of divine administration which is invested in primitive royal leaders. The
work opens with a description of the cult of "Diana of the Woodland Glade" --
or Diana Nemorensis -- in imperial Rome, where deadly combat decided the
succession of priestly "kings." Expanding from this example, a vast array of
evidence is cited for the primitive function of the royal art of magic. A
theoretical progression is established which begins with the concept of
"magic," and then when established rituals loose their initial practical
impulse they live on as "religion," which at last through increasingly
sophisticated skeptical criticism matures into "science." For Frazer these
cultural stages encompass the entire human perspective, and as he saw his own
society moving from the second to the third he took it upon himself to look
back and take a survey of the original stage. The whole nature and function
of magic and taboo is outlined, with emphasis upon sacrificial and cleansing
rituals. The Christian myth and also the Norse legend of the "dying god"
Baldar receive extended analysis, which opens out into a catalogue of
traditional seasonal festivals. The work concludes with a symbolic account of
the mistletoe plant by which Baldar dies, which is Frazer's candidate for the
classical "golden bough" of Argicida.
Previous Section Two Next Section Two
The Scales of the Serpent:
This month we'll continue our synthesis of Pagan Dharma and Thelemic
pathworking with rituals in honor of Teth, Atu XI / Lust, signifying strength
and energy, on 2nd December; Yod, Atu IX / The Hermit, illumination and
solitude, on 9th December; and Kaph, Atu X / Fortune, change and perspective,
on 16th December. That will be our last working in December; we'll return 6th
January for Adjustment.
The Scales of the Serpent occur on Thursday nights at 7:30 at Cheth House
in north Berkeley. Bring a small sitting cushion, and if possible a short
reading or offering in honor of the path.
I first became aware of the works of Sam Webster when I read an article in
Gnosis magazine called "Pagan Dharma." In it, he draws parallels between the
Pagan (which for him appears to include the Magical and Hermetic) worldviews on one hand, and the traditions of the East, particularly Dzogchen and Tibetan
Tantra, on the other.
". . . the Dzogchen practitioner seeks the inherent purity in all things, and integrates with the experience while not seeking to change anything about it. This is in accord with the Pagan contra-gnostic view of the immediate goodness of the here and now."
With these similarities in mind, he observes the persistent problems that
crop up in western magical practice, and suggests that we might look toward
these eastern schools for potential remedies. Having myself experienced a
virtual Physician's Desk Reference worth of maladies in public and private
magical practices, this got my attention!
In this article, and a follow-up essay published in Pangaia, he outlines
three techniques adapted from the East that have proven effective in guiding
and grounding practitioners in ritual work; Taking Refuge, Generating
Boddhichitta, and Dedicating Merit. Taking Refuge involves strengthening
contact with the Enlightened aspect within us. By Generating Boddhichitta, we
bind our practice to the innate perfection within the moment. In Dedicating
Merit, we offer the results of our work to the benefit of all beings,
grounding our magick in compassion.
"Looking back over our history, I suspect that in the frightful need to transmit the how the Western Magical Tradition lost the why. In the face of oppression and ridicule the practice of magick was nearly, but not successfully, exterminated. . . . Yet by generating compassion we can invoke the inherent power of the entire Universe driving us all toward our inherent enlightenment to strengthen and fulfill our magick."
I found this perspective to be one of the most exhilarating approaches to
magick that I had ever read. When the opportunity came a few years later to
attend one of Sam's ritual events, I jumped in immediately, and found the
experience every bit as rewarding as I had hoped.
An adaptation from eastern techniques that felt particularly useful to me
was the practice of Tibetan Deity Yoga. Sam borrowed this elaborate method to
use in association with Ra-Hoor-Khuit, to form an original ritual that I feel
is destined to become a mainstay in future Thelemic tradition. In brief,
Deity Yoga involves visualizing the approach of a deity, making offerings and
praise to it, visualizing the deity with the greatest possible clarity,
becoming identified with it, and meditating upon its aspects. Then various
yogic practices are employed, including mantra and the visualization of the
Wheel of Dharma. Finally, the images are dissolved and a ceremonial closing
In practice, I found this to be the most powerful magical technique I had
ever experienced. So when it came time for me to adapt my Liber Arcanorum
workings for a group setting, the first thing I did was to drop the underlying
structure (based on the Golden Dawn Z documents) like a hot potato in favor of
this exciting technology. And I'm very happy with the results. So -- thank
Previous Scales of the Serpent Next Scales of the Serpent
'Tis the Season to be Sirius
Sirius Oasis in Berkeley meets on the final Monday evening of each month at
8:00. Call the Oasis Master for directions at (510) 527-2855. Join this
independent initiating body of Ordo Templi Orientis on Monday 27th December
for an evening of fun and fellowship, including planning for upcoming events
and enjoyment of current interests. Also, get a preview of PantheaCon 2000,
the Bay Area pagan gathering to be held through the weekend of 19th February
at the Cathedral Hill Hotel in San Francisco. Both Sirius Oasis and Thelema
Lodge will be well represented at this event, which is sure to be great fun
for those who love an indoor crowd. Sirius Oasis also has a connection with
Ancient Ways, the thriving occult supply store and magical institute located
at Telegraph Avenue and 41st Street in Oakland, which sponsors the Ancient
Ways "Pan-Pagan" Festival, next scheduled for the second weekend in June.
Crowley's complete translation of Baudelaire's Petits Poèmes en Prose was
published in Paris by Edward W. Titus in 1928 e.v. on a distribution contract with Random House of New York. Crowley's version of the "prose poems" -- a now familiar genre which Baudelaire developed and established with these pieces -- had been completed before the first world war, remaining unreleased through a series of publication mishaps. (Some sheets had been printed and warehoused unbound for fifteen years, so that the volume opens with the notice "made and printed partly in Great Britain, partly in France.")
Four Little Poems in Prose
by Charles Baudelaire
translated with a preface
by Aleister Crowley
Translator's Preface to
"Little Poems in Prose"
No bolder task can possibly be undertaken than the translation of prose so
musical, so subtle, so profound as that of Charles Baudelaire. For this task
I have but the one qualification of a love so overmastering, so absorbing,
that in spite of myself it claims for me a brotherhood with him.
Charles Baudelaire is incomparably the most divine, the most spiritually-
minded, of all French thinkers. His hunger for the Infinite was so acute and
so persistent that nothing earthly could content him even for a moment. He
even made the mistake -- if it be, after all, such a mistake! -- of feeding on
poison because he recognized the banality of food; of experimenting with death
because he had tried life, and found it fail him.
The thought of Baudelaire has thus been universally recognized as highly
unsuitable for the suburbs, as incompatible with any view of life which
advocates spiritual complacency, mental and physical contentment. His
writings are indeed the deadliest poison for the idle, the optimistic, the
overfed: they must fill every really human spirit with that intense and
insufferable yearning which drives it forth into the wilderness, whence it can
only return charioted by the horses of Apollo and the lions of Demeter, or
where it must for ever wander tortured and cast out, uttering ever the hyaena
cry of madness, and making its rare meal upon the carrion of the damned.
This yearning has made all the saints and all the sinners; it severs man
from his fellows, and sets his feet upon a lonely road, where God and Satan
alone, no lesser souls, commune with it.
This yearning is the mother of all artists; in Baudelaire it reaches its
highest and most conscious expression. It is for this reason that I tremble
and weep, being as it were the bearer of his ashes into those smug and
hypocritical lands where the noblest of all languages is prostituted to no
other uses than those of gluttony, snobbery and greed.
The condition of England and America today makes it a profanation to
translate Baudelaire; yet such is his virtue, and such the innate virtue of
humanity, that if this volume only fall into the hands of the young, it may
produce a crop of saints and artists even in those barren fields.
The Artist's Confession
How penetrating are the ends of autumn days! Ah, keen like pain! For
there are certain delicious feelings whose vagueness does not prevent them
from being intense, and no point is sharper than that of the Infinite.
How great is the delight of drowning one's look in the vastness of sky and
sea; solitude, silence, incomparable chastity of the blue; one little sail
shuddering on the horizon, which by its smallness and its isolation is like a
reflection of my irremediable existence; the melodious monotony of the swell; all these things think by virtue of me, or I think by virtue of them (for in
the vastness of the reverie the Ego is soon lost) -- they think, I say, but
musically and picturesquely, without quibbles, syllogisms, and deductions.
At the same time these thoughts, whether they arise from myself or dart
forth from things external, soon become too intense. Energy in pleasure
creates uneasiness and positive suffering. My nerves, too highly strung, no
more give forth any but scolding and painful cries.
And now the depth of the sky affrights me; its limpidity exasperates me.
The insensibility of the sea, the changelessness of the prospect, revolt me.
Ah! must one eternally suffer, or fly eternally before the face of beauty? O!
no, pitiless enchantress, ever victorious rival, leave me alone; cease to
tempt my passion and my pride! The study of the beautiful is a duel where the
artist cries with fear even before he is conquered.
The Dog and the Flask
"Here, Pupsikins, good doggie, nice doggie! Come and smell this delicious
scent; it is by the best perfumer in town." And the dog, wagging his tail,
which is, I suppose, for these poor creatures the sign which corresponds to
smiles and laughter, comes near and with great curiosity rests his nose upon
the unstoppered flask; then, suddenly recoiling with fright, he barks at me
Ah, wretched dog, if I had offered you a parcel of ordure you would have
sniffed it with delight and very likely eaten it up! Unworthy companion of
this sad life of mine, how you resemble the public, to whom one must never
present the delicious perfumes which only exasperate it, but carefully
selected scraps of nastiness!
The Chinese can tell the time by looking in the eyes of a cat.
One day a missionary,1 while walking in the suburbs of Nankin, found that
he had forgotten his watch, and asked a little boy what the time was. The
gutter-snipe of the Flowery Kingdom hesitated at first, then, recollecting
himself, he replied, "I will find out for you." A minute later he reappeared,
holding in his arms a fine big cat, and looking, as the saying is, in the
white of its eyes, he unhesitatingly affirmed, "It is just a little before
noon." This turned out to be the case.
As to me, if I bend over towards my beautiful Féline, so well named, who is
at once the glory of her sex, the pride of my heart, and the incense of my
spirit, whether it be night, or whether it be day, in broad daylight or think
darkness, in the abyss of her adorable eyes I always read the hour most
clearly. This hour is always the same; vast, solemn, wide as space, without
division into minutes or seconds; a motionless hour which is not marked on
clocks, and yet is light as a sigh, swift as a glance. And if some
importunate person were to come and disturb me while my gaze rests on this
delicious dial, if some false and intolerant spirit, some demon of unlucky
accident, were to come and say to me, "What are you looking at with such
intensity? What do you seek in the eyes of this being? Do you see there the
time? Ah, spend-thrift and do-nothing mortal!" I should reply unhesitatingly
"Yes, I see the time; it is eternity."
Now, Madame, is not that a really meritorious madrigal, and as pompous as
yourself? In good sooth, I have taken so much pleasure in embroidering this
pretentious piece of gallantry that I shall ask you for nothing in return.
What is the Thyrsus? In the moral and poetic sense it is a sacredotal
emblem borne in the hands of priests or priestesses when they celebrate the
Divinity whose interpreters and servants they are. But physically it is
nothing but a stick, a mere stick, hop-pole or vine-prop; dry, hard and
straight. Around this stick, in capricious meanderings, sport and frolic
tendrils and blossoms, those sinuous and evasive, these hanging like bells or
inverted cups, and an astounding glory shoots forth from this complexity of
line and tender or brilliant color. Might not one say that the curved line
and the spiral are paying court to the straight line, and dance round it in
dumb worship? Might not one say that all these delicate corollae, all these
calyxes, these eruptions of odour and colour, execute a mysterious fandango
around the hieratic staff; and nevertheless, who is the imprudent mortal who
will dare to decide if the flowers and the leaves have been made for the
stick, or if the stick is but a pretext to display the beauty of the leaves
and of the flowers? The thyrsus is a symbol of your astonishing duality,
Franz Liszt, powerful and revered master, dear Bacchante of mysterious and
passionate beauty. Never did nymph, frenzied by unconquerable Bacchus, shake
her thyrsus over the heads of her maddened companions with so much energy and
caprice as you when you wield your genius upon the hearts of your brothers!--
The staff is your will; straight, stiff, unshakable. The flowers are the
dance of your fancy around your will; it is the female element executing its
spell-weaving around the male; straight line and arabesque line; intention and
expression; rigidity of the will, sinuosity of the word; unity of end, variety
of emotions. Omnipotent and indivisible amalgam of genius, what analyst will
find the hateful courage to dissect and separate you?
Dear Liszt, across the fogs, beyond the rivers, above the towns whose
musical instruments acclaim your glory, where the printer's press interprets
your wisdom, in whatever place you may be, in the splendours of the eternal
city or among the folks of the dreamy countries which Gambrinus consoles,
improvising songs of delight or of sorrow ineffable, or confiding to paper
your abstruse meditations, bard of eternal pleasure and eternal anguish,
philosopher, poet and artist, I hail thee, Immortal!
1. Martin Starr in his Teitan Press edition of these pieces (1995) quotes
Crowley's marginal comment from the Warburg Institute copy of the Paris
edition, regarding the missionaries in China: "Thank the Gods! They've killed
the swine at last. 1927 E.V."
Previous Crowley Classics Next Crowley Classics
from the Grady Project:
This passage has been selected from Grady's 1954 thesis The Millennial Glow:
Myth and Magic in the Marxist Ethic.
Extract from "The Universe of
by Grady Louis McMurtry
the New Tribalism"
It has been my suggestion throughout that Marxism as a way of thinking is
totally alien to our modern Western forms of empiricism because it is a
reversion to the primitive way of thought that is found in the animistic magic
of prescientific totemic tribalism. I have also suggested, however, that
magical thinking per se is not alien to the human mind, but, rather, is man's
oldest, earliest, and most natural way of thinking. Or as Malinowski says:
Magic is . . . akin to science in that it always has a definite aim
intimately associated with human instincts, needs, and pursuits. The magic
art is directed towards the attainment of practical ends; like any other
art or craft it is also governed by theory, and by a system of principles which dictate the manner in which the act has to be performed in order to
Thus we say that magic as a way of thinking does make sense, and very good
sense, to the people who find a coherent explanation of the world in the terms
of its universe of discourse. As a practical way of thinking it is definitely
not nonsense, as we too often assume, or it could not have been, as Cassirer
says, "the first school through which primitive man had to pass."2 Taking the
long view of historical perspective it is rather we, with our emphasis on the
impersonal relationship of man and nature, who appear as exceptions to the
rule and the question very readily presents itself as to whether or not we
shall continue, in any measure large or small, to wield rational control of
our destinies. Cassirer puts it this way:
The belief that man by the skillful use of magic formulae and rites can
change the course of nature has prevailed for hundred and thousands of
years in human history. In spite of all the inevitable frustrations and
disappointments mankind still clung stubbornly, forcibly, and desperately
to this belief. It is, therefore, not to be wondered at that in our
political actions and our political thoughts magic still holds its ground.3
1 Bronislaw Malinowski, Myth in Primitive Psychology (New York: Norton,
1926), p. 82.
2 Ernst Cassirer, An Essay on Man (New Haven: Yale Univeristy Press, 1944),
3 Ernest Cassirer, The Myth of the State (New Haven: Yale University Press,
1946), p. 295.
Previous Grady Project To be continued
One Member's Opinion
Ebony Anpu and the Hawk and Jackal System:
a personal interpretation
by Nathan W. Bjorge
The Grand Rite of Hawk and Jackal
We're now going to cover the work involved in progressing an individual
through the three true grades described in the last two articles. The engine
driving these attainments is a particularly exciting kind of planetary Magick
which Ebony developed.
For the Hawk and Jackal system, planetary Magick is used in the form of a
spiritual progression or pathworking. Each of the planetary energies is
summoned in a specific sequence, which projects the initiate from the Earth
(Man of Earth), to the Sun, then through the Solar System (Lovers), out to the
fixed stars and galactic space (Hermits). This sequence is sometimes called
the "Grand Rite" of Hawk and Jackal. Pathworkings of this kind are very old
in style, recalling the ancient Gnostic cults. These groups attempted to
ascend their souls, either during or after their physical lives, upwards
through the planetary spheres of the Ptolemaic cosmology to effect a return to
the seat of the godhead or pleroma beyond the sphere of the fixed stars.
Ebony's system is similar, but its cosmology has been updated to a Copernican
As previously discussed, the Man of Earth works on the terrestrial plane.
As the Goddess is manifest in both the Earth and the Moon, H & J sees Man of
Earth work as involving aspects of the Moon, specifically the Full Moon. The
new initiate is therefore expected to complete a year of Full Moon coven work.
Following this comes the New Moon work. The New Moon is conjunct the Sun,
and so this is considered a bridge of sorts toward it. Also since "he is ever
a sun, and she a moon" (AL I:16), their conjunction is a symbol of the Lovers.
Therefore a Lovers initiation is given to individuals about to begin new moon
There is a crucial distinction to make here. This initiation to the Lovers
is outer, not inner. The initiation is taken by those who desire to formalize
their work towards Knowledge and Conversation, but individuals who hold the
formal (as opposed to actual) grade of Lover in the Hawk and Jackal are not
yet necessarily adepts in an A A sense. Hence the Lovers ritual initiation
is an initiation, or beginning, not a recognition of actual attainment. While
there are plenty of means for achieving the actual grade of Lover in H & J,
there is no current mechanism for a formal recognition of such within the
system. Remember, H & J is essentially an anarchist system, worked by
individuals or small autonomous groups. There is no fixed organizational
hierarchy to confer legitimacy on people by telling them that they are now
adepts (even if they are). This is the tradeoff for having a free system:
people work on their own.
With regard to the ritual initiations just mentioned, there were two
scripts written by Ebony for this purpose. One for Man of Earth, to introduce
Full Moon coven work, and one for the formal advancement to Lovers, prior to
New Moon work. These rituals are completely open to use. One does not have
to have previously received them to confer them. The third Hermit initiation
ritual is incomplete and prefaced with a warning that reads:
"3rd initiation -- Incomplete!
Included as a goal.
DO NOT ATTEMPT"
The newly initiated Lover now completes a year of New Moon coven work.
Then comes the celebration of the interaction of the Earth and the Sun -- the
Sabbats. These are the Equinoxes, Solstices, and cross-quarters. I think
that the Sabbats might also be celebrated for a year before moving on. I'm
not sure. In any case, the next phase after the Sabbats is planetary Magick.
Ebony never succeeded in working any of his own covens past new moon work,
and group planetary Magick has not yet been directly attempted in Hawk and
Jackal, to my knowledge. Much of the work is therefore still in an outline
stage, though the basic sequence of the working and the principles driving the
progression are all in place. A group trying to perform this Magick may
therefore encounter any number of situations and issues which have not been
addressed by the system's original conception. It will be necessary for
individual covens, fortified and disciplined by their two years of full and
new moon coven work to encounter and resolve in practice any problem areas
Needless to say, planetary Magick is entirely adaptable to individual
activity as well. Ebony intended it to be done together as a group. However,
many moon covens do not have the kind of stability or regularity of membership
to make this easy. As a purely personal opinion, I think that a great idea
might be continuing group work up to the Sabbats as a foundation, with
individuals, couples, or smaller groups ready for planetary Magick working it
themselves, but coming together with the larger group for Moon and Sabbat
Covens should not be afraid to modify the system. There is a good passage
in the 7th Dialog where Ebony converses with Nuit:
Nuit: "OK. Listen. All you have to do is get a system together, don't worry
if it is not of universal use to those about you."
Ebony: "That's what I'm trying to do! I do know that I want it to be as good
as I can make it, so I'm trying to get you to help lay down a skeleton for
Nuit: "OK, but that is (beyond a certain point) the human side of the
equation, so it is subject to change."
Previous Hawk and Jackal -- Part Four. Next: Sequence and Techniques of the Great Rite Itself.
An Introduction to Qabalah
Part LI -Ascending meditations and the Abyss.
Derived from a lecture series in 1977 e.v. by Bill Heidrick
Copyright © Bill Heidrick
Beyond association as spirit of the Sabbath, the Shekinah links mortal and
divine marriage intimately. There is an injunction to the orthodox that sex
is proper on the Sabbath. Marriage on earth is also marriage in heaven. It
is one with the Sabbath, and the Shekinah comes to the marriage bed.
Broadly, the Shekinah is considered to be that aspect of Deity that comes
down especially to a religious gathering or lodge, be it the Holy Spirit, Nuit
or aught else. In formalized religion, not every manifestation like this is
endorsed. If a like spirit comes to a man who is obviously not fulfilling an
accepted role of working with his religion or his society, a Kabbalist might
say that instead of the Shekinah one of the old goddesses has come. It might
be said that he is being obsessed by Lilith or one of the Ashtaroth. Thus,
manifestations of this kind that are not from the sect or particular religion
are still recognized, but may be repudiated by the group. This is a way of
trying to make sure that everybody stays with the same social pattern. Such a
rejection is not based on truth in the sense that something really different
has intruded. It's a measure to maintain control of the community, sometimes
necessary for survival of the community, but often a conservative abuse of
power. Often one of the older religious patterns will spontaneously manifest
as a goddess from other times. Why does this happen? People are different.
Some would find it much easier to accept Ishtar or Magna Mater than the
Shekinah. All these are variations of the same essence.
Such an occurrence may include a physical manifestation. It may be
possible to see a woman or a man present, even to photograph something of that
sort; but this is very rare. It's more common to have a vision, a daydream or
simply to feel a presence. The gender of the spirits does not depend entirely
on the gender of the person having the experience. In traditions derived from
the Order of the Golden Dawn, the suggestion is common that your inner spirit,
your Shekinah principle, is always the opposite from your outer sex. This is
not absolutely true. Such a view is another example of the conditioning of
the experience, in this case for the sake of balancing sexual qualities. The
form that is endorsed by the group is intended to promote the cohesion and
theory of the group. If something else comes that is a little different, it
is often labeled a demon. The beauty of the experience is such that limiting
acceptable forms can enforce adherence to an outer religion.
If you have a good relationship with this spirit, you are brought toward a
state of consciousness corresponding to Chesed on the Tree of Life, through a
feeling of complete joy, of peace and sheltering providence. The Order of the
Golden Dawn replaced the Shekinah of Jewish tradition with a personal Holy
Guardian Angel. That was a substantial shift in culture. In Jewish
approaches, it would not usually be said that this is the guardian of one
person, but rather the guardian of the whole people of Israel. In some
Christian traditions, Mary has a similar role. In Thelema, as Crowley
developed it, several spirits of this sort are recognized, some individual and
some universal. These succeed one another in the attainment of the aspirant,
even as individuality is first cleansed and perfected, only to be transcended
above the Abyss.
Belief is an outer clothing, one of the superficial garments of Truth.
Truth is absolute inside. Belief is the part of Truth that you allow yourself
to see, a veil before the face of the Goddess. Conventions, religious and
otherwise, allow sight of the spirit only in certain ways. That the Shekinah
is the spirit of all of Israel joining itself to a devout person or gathering,
is of course a veil of belief, concealing some of the Truth. It's just as
much a concealment to refuse to believe such a thing, if some opposite or
different notion is taken in its place. If you see your Holy Guardian Angel
as different from all others and having certain qualities -- e.g. tall,
slender, likes this, doesn't like that, refuses to talk to other people, has a
particular name -- that's another veil. You've designed it yourself, perhaps,
rather than having it designed by someone else.
Why are such veils present? To look upon naked Truth is to become blind to
the rest of the world. The light of Truth is too strong to endure all the
time. Imagine talking to a stranger in such a fashion that you said the first
thing that came into your mind about that person. After a very short while
things could get out of hand. Only with unusual friendship or other bonds of
acceptance, can two people become comfortable with such random candor.
Usually, saying too much of what you feel to be the truth to people will make
them dislike or even fear you. People can't even look at the truth for
themselves all the time, let alone have someone else constantly signal it to
them. The usual reaction is to either assume the worse or indulge hubris to
the point of being near blind and deaf. We put the veil of other words or
silences between what we feel and what we say to people. It's not an opaque
barrier, but a sort of filter that lets some through and keeps some out. This
is a thing of social necessity. We do this also between ourselves and the
highest things, by the very nature of incarnation.
Previous Introduction to Qabalah -- Part L Next: Ascending out of the trap.
Grady and MWT:
Aleister Crowley wrote to Grady (Louis) McMurtry during the latter part of WWII, sending along copy for Magick Without Tears (one of the enclosures was published here last month). There has been some speculation about the nature of these MWT texts, whether they are all genuine correspondence or a made-up set merely in the style of correspondence. Most were actual letters, to several individuals. Some, as remarked here, were contrived to fill blanks and cover subjects not treated in the posted letters.
|April 13|| Bell Hotel|
Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
Here are such of the letters as I have in duplicate. I think you have one
or two (at least) of the others, including some matter of which I have no copy
at all, because the bulk was recopied from printed books or alien typescripts.
Please let me have any such at your very earliest convenience. Better to
Now this is where you can help. Make a sort of Index of points that are
covered in each letter, so that I don't repeat myself; where I have already
done so, the passages in question can be joined up if needs must.
As an appendix to this index make a list of subjects not yet touched, so
that I can "answer" accordingly.
The first six letters have been reserved for "introductory matter", shall
we call it?
E.g. No. 1 answers "Why need I bother my head about Magick at all?" No. 2
gives our method of study: explains general theory. No. 3. Essentials at
start: the Magical Record, the choice of a Motto, the Oaths:
These I will write so that I can fill later any gaps which your shrewd
critical eye may detect.
As to this location, I don't know if there's a cross-country way from your
own bunk-hole. The railroad depot is Aylesbury, where the ducks come from.
So obviously my friends think that I'm here to work on the Yi King by creating
a Chinese Atmosphere!!
I hope this letter is clear, and that the enclosures are jake. Louis
Wilkinson helped me to sort them out: alone I couldn't have done it, nerves
much too bad.
The slightest thing makes me want to scream: forgive, incidentally, if this
letter is all haywire. A few days of peace here should get me back to normal.
Love is the law, love under will.
Here is a brief follow up sent a few days later, with another enclosure:
Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
I hope you got the odd letters safely. Now comes this, might be worked in,
or serve as our introductory essay. It seems to me clear, instructive, and
extremely interesting. Agree? If so, you might do much worse than make a few
copies: there is only one other in existence, as far as I know.
A bird's eye view of this sort is just what has always been wanted.
My nerves are very much better, despite the pleasing custom of the R.A.F. --
a camp near by -- of jettisoning as many as 8 500 lb H.E.bombs in the
neighbor's back garden. Killed two chickens last time. I came up on the bus
with the women. Lucky they fell on soft-clay, & didn't explode!
But a little work still tires me dreadfully, and there's nothing to do here
but work. Stay! "Sahara" comes to Aylesbury tomorrow for 3 days, and I shall
go in memory of that delightful visit of yours.
Forgive me if I droop and die at this stage: I'm all in.
Love is the law, love under will.
Yours ever. A.C.
The Essay needs some editing. Part was written by G. Aumont. A.C.
The text accompanying this last letter was: "The Three Schools of Magick".
Previous Primary Sources Next Primary Sources
From the Outbasket
The usual format for this column is Question and Answer derived from email or postal correspondence, occasionally supplemented by demographic reports and notices. Over the years, I've had a number of discussions about techniques of mental training and the passage of the Abyss. Here is a digest of some of that, cast in essay form.
Disclaimer: The text below uses GD or AA style Grade names for various
attainments. This is for convenience of description. There is no direct
relation between any of the OTO Degrees and the Grades in those orders. Also,
it is important to remember that attainment and membership are not identical.
It has long been customary to refer to this sentence as "The Oath of the
I will interpret every phenomenon as a particular dealing of God with my soul.
-Book 4, CHAPTER VI, THE WAND.
Strictly speaking, that is not correct. Crowley mentions "The Oath of the
Abyss" in several places, but he does not enlarge upon the content. The
statement given above in italics is actually the obligation of a Magister
Templi, already beyond the Abyss. Crowley does advise that "even the beginner may attempt this practice with advantage." -- Book 4, CHAPTER VII, THE CUP.
However, there is a bit of a rub... In the same place, Crowley says: "The Master of the Temple asks, on seeing a slug: 'What is the purpose of this message from the Unseen? How shall I interpret this Word of God Most High?' The Magus thinks: 'How shall I use this slug?' And in this course he must persist." Either approach can lead to obsession through excess, in the mind
of the unprepared. This practice is discussed in several places in Equinox
Vol. I, No. 1.
The actual Oath of the Abyss is a total and irrevocable commitment to assay
the passage -- useless to attempt before the time is right, unavoidable at the
moment the Exempt Adept is ready. Even so, the obligation of a Magister
Templi is recommended as an experiment for the beginner and must necessarily
entail some relevance to the Abyss or it would be inappropriate for the MT on
the one hand and "black magic" for the beginner on the other. This technique,
as done below the Abyss, amounts to the taking of omens. It is a simple
exercise which can inspire, focus will and enhance the swiftness of the mind.
Another useful technique is the practice of thinking in antinomial pairs, a
way of breaking obsessions and quickening thought. To some extent these two
supplement one another. Omen taking naturally leads to superstitious
fascination, and antinomy naturally disrupts such a state. The confusion of
too much antinomy may be broken by fixation on one thing, taking an omen.
Both are dangerous when practiced to excess, and both require a gradual
Although these practices for the student are described for the Ruach soul,
being mental associations and divisions, each of the lower Qabalistic souls
has a different sort of involvement. The body or Guf simply reacts to sensory
impression or lunges for a distant object of desire. The Nephesh identifies
idea and perception without distinction, actively creating illusions. The
Neshamah is quite another matter, reflecting a point of view and function that
crosses the Abyss. For Neshamah, there is no antinomy for there are not
opposites that can be divided. Neither is there association of meaning to
perception, since each perceived thing exhibits its own meaning directly.
Like all Magical Oaths, the Obligation of the Magister Templi is a truism.
The MT need not strive for this, for this is the nature of the MT. Mouthing
the words of this obligation will not make anyone a MT.
In trying to take this obligation as an exercise below the Abyss, there are
particular signs of obsession that arise from excess. At first, there is an
increase in simple tension, as events crowd the mind with an obligation to
understand. Errors of judgment begin, hazarding physical safety. Soon the notion of property ownership becomes absurd and living arrangements become
compromised by failure of duty. If the student continues trying to interpret
every falling leaf as divine revelation, the problem only worsens with
maddening confusion, and self-induced hallucination is almost inevitable. It
is only a minor symptom of folly when such a person suddenly announces
attainment of MT. Even when the practice is sharply limited to one type of
observation, these problems can occur. "Ingrown gematria" is an example of
that, whereby car license plates and phone numbers start obsessing.
The solution is simple. Limit this practice to particular times and
moments. It is too rich a mental food for constant consumption!
If that's how it is for a student below the Abyss, how is it for the
Magister Templi or, more to the point, how does it apply to the actual Oath of
the Abyss? The Magister Templi looks and sees, listens and hears, touches and
feels etc. Yet, he does not. Those material senses are not the vehicles.
Above the Abyss, there is communication of the Divine with the Soul, but that
Soul is the Neshamah. The dealing is direct, without the forms of nature as
an obscuration. To pass the Abyss, one thing is needed beyond the massed
readiness of the Exempt Adept, accumulated and perfected by the Work. That
thing is the direct opposite of the literal interpretation of this misnamed
"Oath of the Abyss". Look carefully into the words:
I will interpret every phenomenon as a particular dealing of God with my soul.
The key is "interpret". Below the Abyss, that is reaction and reason --
mechanisms whereby perceived phenomena are related or explained by the
instincts of the body and the associations of the mind. That must be
abandoned in the passage of the Abyss; but, if this exact wording is still the
"Obligation of the Magister Templi", it must have truth there too.
There is no being in the outermost Abyss, but constant forms come forth from the nothingness of it.
Then the Devil of the Aethyr, that mighty devil Choronzon, crieth aloud, Zazaz, Zazas, Nasatanada Zasas.-- Vision and Voice: the Tenth Aethyr, ZAX.
This is the point of failure or success. The true Oath of the Abyss has been
taken. If the illusionary oath continues, the visions, sounds and sensations
that appear to manifest in the passage will be grabbed desperately by the
mind, interpreted in ways mundane, and "He will Fall". In passing the Abyss,
nothing is interpreted in terms of any other thing. All is a direct dealing
of God with the Soul, without veil or weighing by reason. The Nephesh fails
because it cries out in reaction. The Ruach fails for the very seeking of
"because". Only the Neshemah can return upward, for there there is no "this
and that", not even a real sense of being elsewhere but beyond the Abyss that
is the domain of Choronzon, demon of clinging associations, the drops of
blood, not given unto Babylon.
"Search, therefore, if there be yet one drop of blood that is not gathered into the cup of Babylon the Beautiful, for in that little pile of dust, if there could be one drop of blood, it should be utterly corrupt; it should breed scorpions and vipers, and the cat of slime."- Vision and Voice: the
Eleventh Aethyr, IKH:
-- TSG (Bill Heidrick)
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Events Calendar for December 1999 e.v.
|12/1/99||College of Hard NOX 8 PM|
with Mordecai in the library
|12/2/99||Scales of the Serpent series on|
Liber Arcanorum. 7:30PM
At Cheth House
|12/5/99||Gnostic Mass 7:30PM Horus Temple||Thelema Ldg.|
|12/9/99||Scales of the Serpent series on|
Liber Arcanorum. 7:30PM
At Cheth House
|12/12/99||Gnostic Mass 7:30PM Horus Temple||Thelema Ldg.|
|12/13/99||Section II reading group with|
Caitlin: "The Golden Bough" by
James Frazer, Lodge library 8PM
|12/16/99||Scales of the Serpent series on|
Liber Arcanorum. 7:30PM
In North Berkeley
|12/19/99||Gnostic Mass 7:30PM Horus Temple||Thelema Ldg.|
|12/21/99||Winter Solstice ritual & feast 7PM||Thelema Ldg.|
|12/26/99||Gnostic Mass 7:30PM Horus Temple||Thelema Ldg.|
|12/27/99||Sirius Oasis meets in Berkeley 8PM||Sirius Oasis|
|12/29/99||College of Hard NOX 8 PM|
with Mordecai in the library
The viewpoints and opinions expressed herein are the responsibility of the
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