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.

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

December 1999 e.v. at Thelema Lodge

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

Announcements from
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 floor.)


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 http://groups.yahoo.com/group/nox-online

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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.

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The Scales of the Serpent:
Pagan Dharma

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 takes place.
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 you, Sam!
-- Michael Sanborn

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'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 Classics

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 reproachfully.
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 Clock

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.

The Thyrsus
dedicated to Franz Liszt

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!

Note:
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."

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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
the New Tribalism"

by Grady Louis McMurtry

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 be effective.1

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

Notes:
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), p. 92.
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

part five:
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 model.
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 ritual work.
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 that arise.
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 rituals.
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 it."
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.


Primary Sources

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
Aston Clinton
            Bucks.

Dear Louis

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 register, too.
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: kappa. tau. lambda
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.

       Yours A.C.

Here is a brief follow up sent a few days later, with another enclosure:

Bell Hotel
Aston Clinton
Bucks


April 20

Dear Louis

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".

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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 Abyss":

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 learning process.
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.

12/1/99College of Hard NOX 8 PM
with Mordecai in the library
Thelema Ldg.
12/2/99Scales of the Serpent series on
Liber Arcanorum. 7:30PM
At Cheth House
Thelema Ldg.
12/5/99Gnostic Mass 7:30PM Horus TempleThelema Ldg.
12/9/99Scales of the Serpent series on
Liber Arcanorum. 7:30PM
At Cheth House
Thelema Ldg.
12/12/99Gnostic Mass 7:30PM Horus TempleThelema Ldg.
12/13/99Section II reading group with
Caitlin: "The Golden Bough" by
James Frazer, Lodge library 8PM
Thelema Ldg.
12/16/99Scales of the Serpent series on
Liber Arcanorum. 7:30PM
In North Berkeley
Thelema Ldg.
12/19/99Gnostic Mass 7:30PM Horus TempleThelema Ldg.
12/21/99Winter Solstice ritual & feast 7PMThelema Ldg.
12/26/99Gnostic Mass 7:30PM Horus TempleThelema Ldg.
12/27/99Sirius Oasis meets in Berkeley 8PMSirius Oasis
12/29/99College of Hard NOX 8 PM
with Mordecai in the library
Thelema Ldg.

The viewpoints and opinions expressed herein are the responsibility of the contributing authors and do not necessarily reflect the position of OTO or its officers.

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Berkeley, CA 94702 USA

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

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