Thelema Lodge Calendar for October 2002 e.v.

Thelema Lodge Calendar

for October 2002 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, 2002 e.v.

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

October 2002 e.v. at Thelema Lodge

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

Announcements from
Lodge Members and Officers

25th Anniversary Crowleymas

We celebrate twenty-five years of thelemic fraternity this month as the oldest continually operating official body of Ordo Templi Orientis, gathering on Crowleymas evening, Saturday 12th October, to feast in honor of our silver anniversary at Thelema Lodge. Dinner, which we will serve communally to each other, begins at sunset; all attending please bring prepared entrees, salads, or desserts, along with drinks to share. Reminiscences, photographs, and other mementos will also be most welcome, and we especially hope that some of our longstanding (or former) participants will be on hand to share their stories of Thelema and of the O.T.O. in the Bay area.
By the time it was made official, Thelema Lodge had "been in operation informally" in Berkeley for six months already, beginning with eight Minerval initiations on 19th April 1977 e.v. and continuing through that spring and summer until the Order had about fifty active initiate members (and almost as many associate members). When plans were made to formally charter the new Grand Lodge just "as the Sun emerges from partial Solar Eclipse on Crowley's birthday," and on the same date to inaugurate weekly celebration of the gnostic mass, it was the culmination of years of dedicated effort by Grady McMurtry and his supporters. On 12th October 1977 e.v., the 102nd anniversary of the Prophet's lesser feast, Aleister Crowley's Ordo Templi Orientis was reactivated by his designated Caliph. "Thus again the phoenix rises!" Reports of the event afterwards called it "a resounding success!" At the height of that afternoon's partial solar eclipse, "Crowley's seal ring was pressed into the wax" on the ornate vellum charter, and a hexagram thrown from the I Ching (Kwai/43) using Crowley's own set of sticks. Afterwards, as one participant said later, "We had one hellova party!" (Quotations in this paragraph are from issues 2 & 3 of the The O.T.O. Newsletter, published from Berkeley in 1977 e.v.)

Number of the Beast

Throughout the apocalyptic Book of Daniel, the word chioh (Chet-Yod-Vau-Aleph = 25) is used to mean "beast of the field" and to indicate the four symbolic beasts in the old prophet's vision. This spelling of the word is unique to Daniel, but the Torah makes frequent use of the same word in its older form (Hay-Yod-Hay = 20). Daniel, however, is the outstanding literary influence upon the Greek writer of the Book of Revelation, traditionally identified as John of Patmos. It is unquestionably the symbolic significance of the "beasts" in Daniel which provided a context for the use of related symbolism in Revelation, and where John wrote "therion" in Greek, he echoed the "chioh" of the Hebrew vision. (The Book of Revelation also employs the alternate term for creature, "zöon" -- zeta-omega-omicron-nu = 927 -- but "therion" -- theta-eta-rho-iota-omicron-nu = 247 -- occurs in that text nearly twice as often, with the two terms seemingly used interchangeably.)

The Radix of Vibration

Our cycle of Crowley's Rites of Eleusis (Liber 850) concludes this month with performances of the two final acts in the great planetary drama. The Rite of Mercury will take the form of a dance rave, with the dramatic portion of the ritual opening the evening at 8:00 and lasting only half an hour or so (this being a very quick sort of god) to free our space for a night of free- moving ecstatic dance-worship into which all may join for as little or as long as they care to keep it up. Mercury will be held at a changed location (not at the Labyrinth); for further information contact Paul at (510) 295-1883.

Purity of Liberty

The Rite of Luna brings our twenty-third Rites cycle to a close on Monday evening 21st October, beginning at 8:00 at Cafe de la Paz, 1600 Shattuck Avenue (at Cedar Street) in Berkeley. Come see the summation of our entire chronicle of descent through the spheres of the planetary powers, which Elton has dramatized as a controversy about bringing the nation into the hazards of foreign war after a shocking sneak attack. "Bear the bowl of libation" through the rounds at this ceremony of dissolution, and after the carefully calculated sequence of nine planetary drinks you'll be able to sit back and feel within yourself the energies of each of the divinities dissolve down through their spheres into your own great vital figure of Pan. To know more about this event before attending, contact Elton at (510) 652-9986.

Thelema Obtentum Procedero Amoris Nuptiae

The lesser feast of John Whiteside Parsons will be celebrated with a gathering of magicians on Wednesday evening 2nd October at Thelema Lodge. We will be reading from some of Parsons' writings, and amplifying the importance of Frater 210 for the establishment of Thelemic culture in California. We're celebrating our twenty-fifth anniversary here this month, but Thelema Lodge was first planned and given its name more than twice as long ago, when Grady McMurtry got back from his European service in the second world war. In 1946 e.v. when Grady began planning to get a lodge started in San Francisco, including a temple for the gnostic mass, he was thinking along the lines of Agape Lodge, as he had known it in Hollywood before the war under the leadership of Wilfred Smith, or as he had just visited it in Pasadena under the new mastership of Jack Parsons. Jack had been the one who introduced Grady to the O.T.O. in 1940 e.v., and it was he who later suggested the name for Thelema Lodge, as a counterpart to Agape in Southern California. Within a year, however, Grady had moved to the East Bay and was beginning a family as he completed his degree on the G.I. Bill and prepared for graduate school at Berkeley, with hardly a moment to spare for O.T.O. organizing. Meanwhile Parsons left the Order to concentrate on his own magical work, and Grady was fighting in Korea when he read of his friend's death in 1952. It would be another twenty-five years before Thelema Lodge became a reality.
Even before he requested initiation, the O.T.O. recognized in Parsons a powerful magician and an extraordinary Thelemite. "I see him as the real successor of Therion," Jane Wolfe wrote of Jack in late 1940 e.v. not long after they met, and soon he and his wife Helen were initiated at Agape Lodge, of which they became active members. Crowley himself (by report and in correspondence) was likewise impressed with Parsons, and lodgemaster Wilfred Smith also got along especially well with this large, handsome, well-spoken, energetic, skillful young man, who was working at Cal Tech for the government as a rocket fuel designer. In his O.T.O. work Parsons took the motto of Thelema Obtentum Procedero Amoris Nuptiae (Nun Aleph Peh Ayin Tet -- as initials of the Latin phrase = 210), by which he seems to have meant that Thelema will be established by means of ritual copulation. Over the six years of his participation with the Agape community Parsons rose to be master of the lodge, which he relocated to his mansion "the Parsonage" at 1003 S. Orange Grove Avenue in Pasadena. But then, during a period of personal instability and ritual experimentation beginning after the war with his Babalon Working, Parsons left the O.T.O. to work out some even more radical religious principles. Elaborating upon imaginative archaic traditions partly drawn from occult novels, he declared a new Thelemic cult called the Witchcraft, and assumed the name Belarion Armiluss Al Dajjal as a its prototypical priest. He then set about declaring scriptures, rituals, and a philosophy for the Witchcraft, but had not got very far when his life ended abruptly in a workshop explosion.
Freedom is twofold; there is the freedom within, and the freedom without, and, like all things, the first freedom starts at the home plate.
The mainspring of the individual is his creative will. This will is the tone of his tendencies, his destiny, his inner truth. It is one with the force that makes the birds sing and flowers bloom; as inevitable as gravity, as implicit as a bowel movement, it informs alike atoms and men and suns.
To the man who knows this will, there is no why or why not; no can or cannot; he is!
There is no known force that can turn an apple to an alley cat; there is no known force that can turn a man from his will. This is the triumph of genius, that, surviving the centuries, enlightens the world.
This force burns in every man.
---- Jack Parsons, "Living Thelema,"
published in Christopher S. Hyatt, ed., Rebels and Devils: The Psychology of Liberation (Tempe, AZ: New Falcon, 1996), page 87

Founder's Day

There will be a gathering of lodge members and local Thelemites in Berkeley to honor the lesser feast of Grady Louis McMurtry on Friday evening 18th October. Hosted for us by Leigh Ann at Ashby House beginning at 8:00, this celebration will include a communal feast to which all are invited to bring food and drink as well as stories and readings to share. (For material to read, check any past issue of this newsletter, or almost any of the preceding Thelemic publications issued from this area during Grady's life.) As Caliph Hymenaeus Alpha, Grady had the initiated inspiration, the organizational experience, and the Prophet's warrant to revive the O.T.O., and this lodge was the headquarters he established from which to get that work done. For precisely 93 months (exact very nearly to the hour), from the chartering of the lodge in Berkeley on 12th October 1977 e.v. until his greater feast on the afternoon of 12th July 1985, Grady led Thelema Lodge as Grand Master. Now that his Order has grown much bigger and stronger than he ever got to see it, and now that our lodge has continued much longer as a local body of the Order than it did as his international administrative center, we continue to celebrate Grady's great work, and to keep alive the heritage of his community here.

Fumbling for the Reality Switch

The speculative fiction of Philip K. Dick (1928-1982) is our subject this month for the Section Two reading group, meeting in the lodge library with Caitlin from 8:00 to 9:30 on Monday evening 28th October. An ambitious writer who did not begin with genre fiction (and who certainly would have preferred to be taken as the Virginia Woolf of his generation rather than its Jules Verne), Dick spent much of his life here in the Bay area, living in Berkeley and in Marin County through the 1960s e.v. He learned to make a living writing stories for science fiction magazines and novels for Ace Publications sci-fi paperbacks. Brimming with concepts and ideas, Dick was eager to attempt all kinds of literary stunts and unexpected manipulations of his plots or characters; he also wrote very quickly, completing (for example) ten novels in less than eighteen months during the middle '60s. In all, with a career limited to only thirty years, he published forty novels and well over a hundred stories. Naturally there is a certain amount of overlapping among these works, and his plots often seem imperfectly constructed, or his characterizations somewhat repetitious. Nevertheless Dick has such a strong sense of honesty with regard to his characters, and such a wise sense of fun, that the reader can accept and question nearly simultaneously the plausibility of his situations.
Many of Dick's characteristic ideas have over the twenty years since his death become entrenched in popular culture through appropriation in the movies. One example is the notion of programming motivation and personality and even contrived memories into persons or artificial constructs. Others involve the corporate manipulation of society, the post-atomic devastation of a world substantially destroyed by futuristic warfare, the building of an artificial town to subvert the lives of its selected inhabitants, or Dick's wonderful flying cars which drive themselves and give good advice to their passengers. Repeatedly Dick will bring his subject around to the fundamental challenges of how we establish reality for ourselves, how we share it, and how we can learn to alter it and manipulate the principles upon which we have constructed it. Several of his novels are overtly gnostic, either in their mythologies of interplanetary or preternatural invaders, or else in the concern of their ordinary characters with gnostic writings and ideas. Dick was also (along with Aleister Crowley) one of the twentieth century's greatest writers on the subjects of intoxication, substance abuse, and drug addiction. Dick tended to anger traditional sci-fi editors by setting some of his interplanetary situations only a few decades in the future, in years which (had he lived to be old) he might have hoped to see for himself. Thus in Martian Time-Slip (1964), perhaps his finest novel, the mental health problems of human settlers in the first towns on Mars (with its dry, thin, but still breathable atmosphere) are dated to the late 1990s, in a way which some readers find subversively unrealistic, and others see as boundlessly optimistic. Dick's novels are all short, and may be read quite rapidly; participants are encouraged to read or review a few of them for our discussion. Also recommended especially are The Man in the High Castle (1962) about a Japanese occupation of San Francisco, Now Wait for Last Year (1966) with designer drugs in the corporate future, the classic novel of artificial reality Time Out of Joint (1959), the hilarious and heartbreaking addiction novel A Scanner Darkly (1977), The Game-Players of Titan (1963) with its fellowship around the boardgame in a depopulated near-future, or The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch (1965) with its gnostic nightmare vision.

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Rites in Review

This text is the result of editorial distillation from about twenty minutes of an audio tape recording in which Leigh Ann discusses her participation in The Rites of Eleusis at Thelema Lodge over the past seven annual cycles. When asked at the end if she had any advice for the audience presenting themselves as candidates for initiation in The Rites of Eleusis, Leigh Ann considered a moment, and replied "be still, and let them speak to your psyche."

Getting the Rites Right:
Some Thoughts on Crowley's Eleusis

by Leigh Ann Hussey
recorded 16 August 2002 E.V.

What is the Rite of Luna about? Well, Luna is about dissolution. There are two ways that you can say it: dissolution can mean dissolving, or you can say a person is dissolute, as in "gone to drink," or "Bear the bowl of libation!" This is a conception that I came up with over the course of finally looking back over all the Rites and giving them a coherence. Each one of the rites is its own thing, but there's an over-arching theme which is delivered in the beginning at Saturn, and that is: "There is no god in the shrine." What you're looking for is not here, and when you get where it is, you won't need it anymore. So that each physical god -- each god we can see and look at and touch, and conceive of -- passes on to the next one. That is not god, and so it passes on to the next one. Finally we get to Luna, and there's no place for Luna to go. There is no god that Luna can dissolve into, because we're done. There are only seven classically visible planets, so we can't go any further than that. Well, we can go into the manifest, into Malkuth, if we feel like it, but that's not part of what this is about. So what Luna does -- where she goes -- is, she dissolves into the all.
All Luna really is is the reflection of the brilliance of the Angel; she's the reflected sun. That's why her King Scale color is purple, which is the complementary color of Tiphareth's yellow. She is the reflected sun; she is the Angel seen through a glass darkly. Or, "in a glass darkly," as in a mirror. A lot of people, when they say "through a glass darkly," they think through as in through a pane of glass; it's actually through (as in "by means of") a mirror. So she's the mirror image of the Angel. And where is there to go from her? Well, out into the universe. And in fact, come to think of it, that's totally right, because to get to Malkuth in the first place you have to go through Tau, which is the Universe.
The gist of it is, you're going through this cycle, and each one of these faces -- each one of these mirrors -- is falling away. That's where I got the whole conception of the mirror falling away, for the Rite of Jupiter last year. The walls are there; the walls signify Saturn. In my design for the Rite of Jupiter, you've got the prisoner in his walled cell, you've got the nun in her walled cloister, you've got the academic in the walls of his university. You've got these walls, and this structure, and this restriction. That's the Saturn part; and it falls away, then you have this mirror. So each one is seeing this amazing being -- this beautiful thing -- and that's when they start to begin to talk to each other, because before this they haven't had any kind of consciousness of each other. They start to talk to each other, and they start to turn, and to see if they can see what the other person is looking at. That's how I got the part about going around the wheel, which is important for Jupiter. They turn around and look in the next mirror, to see if they can see what the other person is seeing. When the Prisoner looks at himself, and sees his perfect self. When Typhon (the passion guy) looks into the mirror, he sees his passion made perfect. He sees the Angel, strong and perfect in love, and falls in love with it. When Hermanubis looks in the mirror and sees his reflection, he sees his knowledge made perfect. "Certainty, not faith;" he sees the transformation of his dry academic knowledge into the supernal knowledge. And when the Sphinx looks into the mirror, she sees the one that she's always been wanting to see in the first place; the vision that she's wanted to have. She has been dry -- she's been in her dark night of the soul and her dryness and darkness -- and not able to see. She's been yearning for this light, and getting only darkness. When it falls, then she sees herself. So each one of them is seeing themselves. Then they start to interact with each other and say, "Well, let me see if I can see what you're seeing." They go around, and so each one of them sees: I see the scholar's god, and it looks like me. I see the nun's god, and he looks like me. But you've still only got mirrors, and so all you're seeing is the reflection. And then that falls, you have Jupiter, the expansive, the "hi! I'm going to give you everything you want!" Actually it's kind of interesting about that; during that year I found myself really seriously burning out in many ways, and spending myself to make things happen.
So that falls, and you have, again, a visible image, a tangible god you can look at and see and discourse with, or whatever. At the end of it -- and here is how you see that I was beginning to realize what was supposed to be going on with the Rites as a whole -- Jupiter says "I'm finite. I can spend myself empty." And Mars says, "Right; and that's not what I want. I want the infinite." And Jupiter says, "Go find it yourself." So that's what's happening; each one of these masks, each one of these mirrors, falls away. And it's like an onion. You know, with a hailstone, or a pearl, you take the layers away and there's a thing in the middle of it -- the dust, or some irritant -- the thing that the pearl or the hailstone is built out of. With an onion, you peel the layers away, and you finally come to the middle of it -- there's nothing! There's just the mysterious life, that you can't see or touch, that made it the alive thing. So when Luna finally falls away, there's nothing -- there's everything -- there's Pan. That's how I came to conceive of the Rites after seven years of doing them, and looking at the small picture, and gradually having my sphere of vision expand. I was using more peripheral vision, and even as I was focusing on individual rites, I was thinking about the larger arc. So it became harder, of course, to try and set it up, for the people who would come after, because I was getting closer and closer to the beginning of the cycle. I had a twofold goal, with this year, which was to give the year's cycle a really good kickoff, and at the same time to give my personal cycle a really memorable closing. And everyone seems to have liked it. Sam Webster said an interesting thing when we were in rehearsal. He said that the Buddhists say, when you complete a great big cycle like this, it is a store up in your karma bank. The completion mirrors your eventual completion, as a perfected being. While everything you leave undone is a mark against that. So it's kind of cool, because I have a lot of little unfinished projects; it's kind of cool that I've finished one humungous project.
N.R.O.O.G.D. does, annually, their own Eleusinian mystery. They always do it in September, at the equinox. It has often been Aidan Kelly's script, which I modified at least once, and which Magical Acts (which is the people who put on the Midsummer Night's Dream production this summer), did last year as the classical Eleusinian Mysteries. They had the chorogogue, and they had the basket and the showings, and all the foo that they could reasonably research out. This year, apparently, they're doing a play which Kate (the director) has written, that I've seen bits and pieces of the script of -- it's kind of interesting -- not quite the same thing. But when I did the Eleusinian Mysteries, I also tried to move to the classical idea in the strongest possible way. Aidan's was fairly loosely taken from that, using such information about the mysteries as could be had in nineteen-sixty-god- knows-what, when he wrote it. There's a lot of cool stuff that's been researched out about the mysteries since then, but it's a very very different thing, because they're approaching the Eleusinian mysteries as the classical Greek tradition. And again, Crowley's Rites of Eleusis were a very different thing. To do Crowley's Rites, I had to make that awareness of the historic tradition and my N.R.O.O.G.D. experience check out, so that I could deal with this new thing. And on the whole, I think we do a better ritual. As to whether the experience itself is initiatory, I never found it so as an audience member. I tried to make mine be. The one that Magical Acts did last year was deliberately, specifically, intentionally initiatory for the audience, which I thought was very very cool. They went up to Bort Meadows, which is a big old park up in the Oakland hills, and they laid out pieces of the park as areas of Greece. They actually walked people around in the park to make the pilgrimage to Eleusis -- it was really great! And it was all done with spiffy lamps, and it was very very cool. A big big dog and pony show, and you know how I love a dog and pony show!
I don't think we'll ever get tired of these rituals, because as long as there are people who are going to come to the Rites with a fresh perspective, there will always be somebody who has something new to tell us. It's the same thing about the mass; I am never ever going to learn all there is to know about gnostic mass. Every time I do mass I learn something new; almost every week I learn something new about mass that I didn't know before, or I make a realization about mass. For an example; last night we were at Nathan's class, and we were talking about the Star trump, and he was saying that Ebony had this conception that Babalon was, as it were, an emanation of Nuit; a more accessible microcosmic version of our Thelemic goddess, one who is more accessible by invocation. Nathan said that Thelemic magicians tend to invoke for themselves (and to wear as an "over-personality") Therion and Babalon, more than they attempt to invoke Nuit and Hadit. I had this sudden brain- fever about mass: when the priestess comes out, she's dressed in blue; she is Nuit; she's veiled, she's mysterious, she's not accessible. She's even called "The Virgin." She comes out, and it is as Nuit that she draws the dead guy out of the tomb, and he says: "I'm born; I live; I die. I'm just a regular schmo." And so, as Nuit, as the supernal goddess, it's she who vests him as priest and king -- transforms him from an ordinary guy into the priest and king. They head back up the tree, she goes behind the veil, and when she appears again, it's as Babalon. It's as the accessible, emanated goddess, compete with chalice and everything. Nathan had an interesting point on Sunday about the whole idea that taking the gifts from the priestess -- whether or not you actually take them from her, you think of them as coming from her. (It's kind of like darshan, where you go to the guru and you hand the guru a flower or something basically worthless that signifies your ego, that you are surrendering; and then he in turn gives you a fruit or something, that is the sign of the grace that you get.) It's kind of the same flavor of thing (if that makes any sense), which I thought was kind of an interesting point. So, today, I'm thinking about the primary colors, and the paths. All of the yellow paths on the King scale are above Tiphereth; all of the red ones are below. And then, two of the three blue ones go straight up the middle, and -- you know -- I went, "check it out!" Will inspires Love; Love comes down and draws Will up into the higher knowledge.
So, you know, I realize, or learn, or come up with something new about gnostic mass all the time. Because any more, gnostic mass is about the most meaningful ritual I know. There's just no mining the depth of its riches. I'm pretty sure that A. C. had no idea -- well, maybe he did have an idea, but I know that he wasn't consciously thinking about all of the parts when he was putting it together. He was just basing it on the ritual he already knew, and setting it up so that we could have public sex magick for our central ritual of the O.T.O. I don't think he was fully cognizant when he composed it, of exactly how full of wealth it is. I'm a big believer in gnostic mass, anyway. People can say anything they like about it being sexist, and blah-blah-blah; they're just failing to see the point. All they're seeing is the words: they're not seeing the action, they're not seeing the alchemy, they're not seeing the transformation; they're just not seeing. All they're seeing is the same thing that an outsider sees when he looks at Crowley and sees the degenerate, druggy guy who did his very best to scandalize English society and make everyone think that he was the devil incarnate. The guy who basically wanted to fuck with everybody, and fuck everybody! The insider looks and sees the prophet, and the poet. I mean, not the doggerel poet of "Sweet, sweet are May and June, dear," but the poet of The Book of the Law, and the brilliant beautiful Liber Cordis Cincti Serpente, which is my absolutely favorite holy book, bar none! I mean, I know it's probably sacreligious to say, but I love it better than I like Liber Legis. I don't think that we'll ever run out of space for the Rites to tell us something, as long as we have people to figure out what it means to them, and try to declare it to somebody else.
The more I learn about magick, the more I see in the mass. But just coming from the pure perspective of my original me, I could see symbolic sex magick and the basic god/goddess kind of interaction going on. Not coincidentally, it's the same flavor of mystery going on that first really struck me about the Catholic mass. I didn't grow up Catholic, but I went to a Catholic high school, and was seeing masses every week, because we had them at school. And to me, the non-initiate of the mysteries, the miracle of the mass was a serious miracle; there was magic going on. There was something cool and inscrutable going on that I could not see, because I was not an initiate. And there but for the grace of testicles go I, because, had I been a boy, I would probably be a priest now, except possibly for the liking sex too much. (I would probably still have liked sex too much if I were a boy.)
It was really funny; we took these vocational aptitude tests, as one does in high school, and even then I knew kind of how to swing it. I was intending to be a veterinarian, so when veterinarian came out on top I wasn't surprised. Even the second one didn't surprise me, and that was musician, because I was doing music at the time. The third one really knocked me blindside: it was "religious." I had an aptitude to be a religious. Everybody in my school thought I was going to be a nun, except me. It wasn't until I was getting out that people were saying to me that they thought I was going to join holy orders. Oddly enough, as time has gone on it has proved to be so. Originally coming to Liber XV, our gnostic mass, I saw a little bit of the same flavor of mystery going on that goes on in the Roman mass. But the more that I have educated myself about the kinds of things that Crowley might have had in mind while he was composing the mass, the more I see in it. Whatever that may be worth.

Crowley Classics

These articles were part of the extensive study of astrology which, in 1915 and 1916 e.v., Crowley was hired to write for the popular American astrologer Evangeline Adams. More than a decade later, after Adams and Crowley lost contact, she published the material under her own name in two volumes which bore no mention of their true author. These books sold quite well, remaining in print for more than twenty years, and on the basis of their success Adams became one of America's most celebrated astrologers. This material is reprinted from the text published by Adams in 1930 e.v. as Astrology: Your Place Among the Stars. "The Problem of Death" is a good example of Crowley's scientific approach to the interpretation of horoscopes. Because it was for obscure reasons excluded from the wonderful new edition of Crowley's General Principles of Astrology (Liber 536) we present it here as both an appendix and an advertisement for that book (Boston, MA & York Beach, ME: Weiser Books, August 2002), which does include the material pertaining to Luna also reprinted here.

Two Notes on Astrology

by Aleister Crowley
(with Evangeline Adams)

The Problem of Death

Astrologers have often been reproached with their comparatively frequent failures to predict the time of death. The reason has never been made clear; for the problem has never been properly understood.
Let us consider how it has been treated. For example, the astrologer has looked at the Sun, or the Moon in the case of a woman, and at the eighth house, and the Lord of that house. From the radical afflictions of those, and from their afflictions by direction or transit, he has formulated his judgment.
Now the reason of his error is a fundamental one. Except in the case of violent death, by accident, suicide, or assassination, death is not a single isolated phenomenon but the culmination and climax of a long series of phenomena. When St Paul said "I die daily," he was speaking literal truth. All life involves metabolism, and the asymptote of the metabolic curve is called death. Death is the physiological goal; and pathology is only the history of short cuts upon the path.
Now when a child is born into the world, its hold on life is of the weakest. Very small accidents can cut short that life; and so frequently does this occur that until recently infant mortality was the standing shame of our race. But as a child grows, if it is healthy, this grip of life increases daily. It is well known what extremities of exposure, hunger, and other trials may be endured by a strong man without the slightest permanent injury. Even self-inflicted wounds such as the drink and drug habits are borne by many for years before any visible damage to the physical constitution becomes apparent. In old age this hold again weakens, and is ultimately so tenuous that the cord snaps at an almost imperceptible strain.
The astrologers of the past have unaccountably neglected to make these considerations, obvious as they are. It is not the fault of the science. So slight a matter as the opposition of Mercury to the Moon may kill a girl baby outright; so serious an affair as the transit of Uranus over the Sun may leave the native apparently untouched. It is obvious that Mars either passes over the radical Sun, or squares him, or opposes him several times in every year. And what with the other malefics, and directions, and so on, one might well exclaim: "In the midst of life we are in death." Some of these attacks will be weak through being far out of parallel aspect; others will be mitigated by counterbalancing good aspects; but on the whole one may say that such caveats can only be entered against about one-half of the threats of life. It is moderate to say that, on the old astrological theories, it is a very good year when the native might not die at least three times. There is certainly never any difficulty in discovering why he did die after he is comfortably buried.
Then why are these aspects inoperative? How is it that a man can survive a series of bad afflictions to succumb later to a trifle? The answer is, first, that it depends on his general vitality, and, second, we deny the fact. Death itself does not occur visibly; but something in the nature of death may occur invisibly and insensibly in the organism. Who can say what is the true birth- hour of a cancer or diabetes? At what moment does that first degenerative change in the supra-renal capsules take place which is recognized much later, and always too late, as Addison's disease?
Such diseases, and there are very many such, have no symptoms discoverable (in the present state of medical knowledge) until the mischief is done. Here, then, astrology may render priceless service to the native. It can warn him of the time of the threat and its nature, so that at that particular time he may take some special precaution. The weak part of the body is indicated by the sign involved, and the type of disease threatened by the planet which menaces the mischief. The native can therefore take measures to obviate the peculiar risk to which his attention is thus drawn.
Forewarned is forearmed nowhere more than in astrology. The proper degree and quality of mental and moral action can take a most evil aspect and transmute its action, transform its character, and deflect its issue to a plane where all things visibly and unmistakably "work together for good to them that love God, and are called according to His purpose."

The Moon Symbolically Considered

Selene, or Diana, or Luna, is the twin sister of the Sun. She is complete woman, in all phases, untouched by male caresses.
The Moon in her increase is the child, innocent and receptive, smiling above the sunset; nightly we see her grow, nearer and nearer to her triumph over darkness, queen of heaven! It is this Moon that gleams so phantastically yet so candescent, a motive repeated again and again in the hymns of every poet. Keats was a mere nympholept to the Moon, like his own Endymion. In the pages of Swinburne, her lustre lamps fitfully his verse. Baudelaire, one of the greatest of all poets, seems rather of the moon than of the earth. The Indian lyrists chant her beauty in unnumbered songs, and the priests of all nations have done worship to her on hidden altars. She has been incorporated in all religions as the symbol of woman at her highest.
Yet she is also huntress like her brother Apollo; she is to be seen in dim woods with her maidens and her hounds. Woe to him who, not being utterly chaste, surprises her! Her arrows are barbed with silver as his with gold; and if his are dipped in death, so are hers poisoned with madness. Restlessness, hunger for the unattainable, seeking after strange pleasures, such are some of the lesser signs of moon-infatuation.
It is noticeable how small a section of poetic attention is given to the gracious childhood of the Moon. For at first she is asleep in the arms of the Sun, and almost before we are aware she springs to fullness.
But glorious is that fullness. She is now Sophia, the Virgin Wisdom of the Father. It is she that appears in the gloom of the threshold, and leads us into the Temple. She is our pure aspiration to things high and holy, the triple cord that binds us to the stainless unity beyond all. She is the veil upon the sanctuary, the mist of tears before the eyes of the penitent. She is sorrow, and pure love that burns up sorrow! She is the lustral water, and the mystic bearer of the Holy Grail. It is she who will clothe us about with all purity and all perfection; it is she who will give us to drink in the House of the Father.
Gaze upon her splendour, gaze not only with your eyes but with your heart; follow her in dreams with such strength that dream becomes reality. For the Moon is in heaven what the sea is upon earth; and what that is, only they know who truly love the sea.
For so do we gain life most, when most absolutely we surrender it; the goal of our existence is not on earth. Life is but an ordeal; let us manfully pass through it; but whatever its rewards may be, it is not on earth but in heaven that we come to the understanding of ourselves. That is the End of the Quest.
The Moon

It is by no accident that the Moon is the only one of the heavenly bodies which revolves around the earth. In the nativity, the Moon is not really part of the character in the same way that the planets are; she is however, of extreme importance, because she represents the sensorium.
The Moon has, by far, the most powerful influence on destiny, although its influence is not so direct; it never produces clear, traceable events in life, as do the major planets. Its effect, however, is steady, permanent and active at all times, because the Moon is the ruler of environment.
Our destiny comes first of all out of our environment, and viewed from this standpoint, the Moon is most important. As an illustration, suppose we find the Moon greatly afflicted in the nativity of a male, and so placed as to affect the first four years of his life in his mother relations, and later to affect his marriage relations. He will be in danger the first four years of receiving from his mother what might be called the "Oedipus complex"; in other words, he may get such a violent modification of his character because of an abnormal attachment to his mother that he becomes a timid, repressed character, lacking initiative and personal force. As the result of this repression of the self, a whole line of unfortunate, malefic events will inevitably follow in his life. A man having received such a restricting complex is seldom happily married, is rarely, if ever, happy in social relations; the results upon his destiny are here clearly marked.
It is from this point of view that we have traced the various spheres of human interest and activity which follow the force of the Moon's position as it may affect personal initiative, money matters, business, success, marriage, friends, and so on. This is because of its modifying force upon the most intimate and personal qualities of life, and its effect upon the instinctive plane or subconscious mind of the human being.
One has only to look at an ephemeris to see that the Moon is afflicted by one planet or another almost every day of the week. Some afflictions will naturally be more serious than others, but the way to consider the problem is to recognize that, in the majority of horoscopes, there is affliction at one time or another, and that it is a rare and happy circumstance when none of them are serious enough to prevent the full maturing of the good aspects.
We may not proceed to consider in more detail the action of the Moon. Her aspects will naturally show the particular development of sense instruction which will occur in the native. Thus, for example, the opposition of the Sun usually means romance, but frustrated by circumstances over which the native has little or no control; the rays of the Sun falling full upon the disc of the Moon thrill her with all the glow and warmth of creative life. A trine of Jupiter, on the other hand, will cause the senses of the native to be impressed strongly by the qualities of Jupiter. As an illustration, imagine a man born with a very strong combination of Saturn and Mars, giving him great selfishness and great executive power. Let him have also a trine of Jupiter and the Moon, and we have at first sight, a rather contradictory situation. But the harmony is easy to find. Such a person will be impressed by altruistic subjects like religion, and, therefore, religious channels will be those through which his selfishness and power can best operate. We may, therefore, find him develop into an ambitious and intriguing ecclesiastic. It is by the consideration of the many different aspects that the astrologer is able to determine the facts of any given case with such wonderful accuracy. It is probably fair to say that any serious affliction of the Moon dulls the acuteness of at least one of the senses. Philip Bourke-Marston's blindness was evidently caused by the approaching opposition of Saturn and exact opposition of Uranus. Byron's clubfoot may have been due to the conjunction of the Moon, rising below Mars, square to Neptune and probably assisted by a conjunction of Saturn and Venus close to the cusp of Pisces. Probably the conjunction of the Moon and Mars, and squared by Uranus, had something to do with Edison's deafness, though the affliction of Jupiter by Saturn, which planets are square, is a contributory cause. Perhaps, however, it will be more exact to say that the affliction of the Moon enabled the affliction of Jupiter to manifest itself in this form. As a general rule, a single minor affliction produces only minor consequences. There is analogy for this theory in other branches of science. In chemistry, for example, even such highly exothermic reactions as the combination of hydrogen and chlorine, or ammonia and carbonic acid gas cannot take place without the presence of some third body. If these gases are prepared in a state of absolute chemical dryness and purity, you can pass the electric spark through them indefinitely without causing their combustion.
It seems possible, therefore, that in many nativities where we see a threat which does not materialize or a promise which is not fulfilled, the cause is due to the absence of a starting impulse. The rifle may be loaded, but unless the trigger be pulled, there will be no explosion. In determining, therefore, whether any given configuration of the heavens will or will not produce its result, we must look to some other point apparently unconnected with it. Imagine, for example, a case of a man from whose horoscope we should expect death by drowning. The position which shows us this does not show us whether he will be forgotten in his tub by his nurse or be shipwrecked at eighty. It is possible that the fatal direction or transits may not occur for a very long time, while in another case, it may be in operation within a few hours of birth.
Many of these remarks have been in the nature of a digression, yet, if properly considered, they would be seen to have a bearing upon the limitations and aptitudes imposed by the position and aspects of the moon.

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from the Grady Project:

This essay is preserved in six pages of neat typescript above the typed byline "Grady L. McMurtry," found amid other essays which date from Grady's senior year at UC Berkeley on the G.I. Bill, circa 1947 e.v. The papers with it were mostly written for submission in classes Grady was taking, mainly in the Political Science department. This one, however, has no such designation, and was perhaps intended for oral delivery at a meeting or some special event. "Space Tides," the title of the imaginary Hollywood production that Grady outlines here, takes its name from one of Grady's own science fiction poems, a long ballad about service aboard a deep space vessel. (Grady's "Space Tides" is not dated, but his mention of it as "my latest effort in the line of poetry" in a letter to Aleister Crowley on 12th May 1946 e.v. -- see TLC June 1992 -- associates the poem with the middle of that spring.) The argument in favor of big budget serious science fiction cinema for adults was often voiced (especially by some of the writers associated with Grady in the Los Angeles Science Fiction League and other informal discussions) during the postwar years, a time when the graphic and literary modes of speculative culture had far outpaced the cinema in depicting images of scientific progress in the future. Not until the 1960s and '70 e.v. did the imaginations of science fiction writing and illustration begin to seriously influence television or movies. (Both Star Trek, of 1966 et seq., and Star Wars, of 1977 et seq., appealed directly to the possibilities Grady anticipates here.)

One World or None

by Grady L. McMurtry

The craters on the other side of the Moon have become vast, teeming arsenals. On their flame seared firing grounds stand rows of gleaming projectiles poised to blast high into space and then to come rocketing down through the night sky of Earth like a shower of vengeful meteors. Their objective is a point deep in the crust of the planet where the simultaneous fission of their atomic war-heads will cause earthquakes that engulf the subterranean cities of warring nations. Thus vengeance follows retaliation until the very air of our little world has become so radioactive that nothing can live and, as the last strongholds of our boasted civilization crumble into dust, so does Mankind become only a promising memory on the dark scroll of the ages. Wars have always been destructive but never before has the future of our race been threatened. We can meet this menace in two ways; we can fight a war, and die in the atom shattered wrack of an insane world, or we can fight a peace. When we mobilize for war we throw everything we have behind our effort, and no nation can stand against us. Let us mobilize for an aggressive peace and no nation will stand against us.
The weapon of War is Ordnance; the weapon of Peace is Education. We must educate. The film industry is our secret weapon in the arsenal of peace. By means of their productions men of all languages can visualize the effects of an atomic war, and equally they can see the effects of an atomic peace. It must be understood by everyone that atomic fire is a slave as well as a tyrant. Like Alladin holding the power of the Genii in a Lamp, so will the engineer of tomorrow hold the power of the atom in nuclear energy plants.
To explore the possibilities of atomic power for peace let us suppose that one of the major Hollywood companies has released a production, Space Tides, which we are previewing. As the scene opens we find ourselves standing on the flight deck of a great space ship that is driving into the scattered edge of the galaxy. The myriad stars are cold and diamond hard against the black emptiness of space. Streaming out behind us come other speeding ships, sleek greyhounds of the stellar deeps. Our destination: Polarion, last outpost of the Galactic Fleet, to which this expedition is returning with a report on the "weather" conditions in those immense empty reaches between the galaxies. Space ships that travel at the speed of light are subject to the great gravitic storms that roar between the suns as the galaxy slowly wheels across the heavens. Polarion is a city with a crystal dome, one perfect jewel set on the rim of a black, airless rock revolving around a giant red sun. Through its cargo ports pass the merchant argosies of many worlds laden with the commerce of the suns. Here we see the space-tanned mariners of many races stretching their legs as a change from the more confining metal decks of their ships. In air conditioned vaults far below the city giant banks of calculating machines have integrated the meteorological report, and now a solitary cruiser slides out through the air locks and sweeps majestically upwards and out. The pilot caresses the keys of his console control board; the navigator feeds the course data into the sidereal computer; the engineers stand by the atomic pile in the engine room, and, when all is in readiness, the Captain of the ship pushes the little metal stud on a small black box prominently stenciled INFINITY DRIVE. The men at their posts feel a twisting lurch as the ship wavers and then streams out in a vast arc that will intersect the course of the nearby galaxy somewhere in the depths of space.
For our purposes this movie can end right here for it has illustrated the point. The conquest of space must be a common effort. No one nation can raise Mankind to such a peak of achievement by its own genius. We have only this one planet from which we can send our space ships rocketing out to the Moon, to Venus, Mars, Mercury, Neptune, Saturn, Jupiter, and when we have exploited the resources of this planet we must turn elsewhere for our raw materials. We must mine the red deserts of Mars for iron; we must survey the tidelands of Venus for oil; we must colonize the planet-sized moons of Jupiter when the Earth has become too crowded. We can only do this if all nations are united in a common government with sovereignty for none and freedom for all.
As long as we have the projector set up we might as well run off another reel, another visualization of the progress possible under the Pax Atomica. This time our scene of action has rolled back from the rim of the galaxy to the family of stars nearer Earth. Our immediate interest is a group of young colonials inbound from Fomalhaut aboard the Shuttle. For two weeks they will be soaking in the golden sunlight of the blue skies and green hills of the Mother Planet. When Sol himself is a blazing glory against the diamond dust of the Milky Way, the vacationers step into the small escape craft that will ferry them to Earth, for the Shuttle is merely a series of gigantic space barges that has been set in vast, looping orbits between certain of the nearer stars as a convenient schedule for passengers and freight. As they come racing in under the Moon the visitors have time for a quick glimpse of its ancient, pockmarked face before the great, green Earth comes rushing up at them and they find themselves suddenly slicing in through its atmosphere. After circling the plant once they come skimming in for a landing at the base of a mountainous skylon, a gigantic cylinder of a city thrusting its great domed head up into the lower reaches of the stratosphere. Overhead pass streams of traffic as the commuters from the surrounding countryside and the flagships of many nations pass to and from this great center of commerce that men call Nuyork. Some of these skylons are centers of government, other specialize in education, research, and entertainment. All of them are self- sustaining units in the atomic powered economy of Imperial Earth. All of them have been made possible by a combination of electron strengthened metal and gravitic nullification support, the products of atomic science applied to engineering physics.
Peace, as a concept, is entirely negative since it merely implies the cessation of action. The positive approach to Peace is to establish a definite goal, the attainment of which will insure a period of tranquility. Unity was achieved when the United Nations had a common enemy, and was lost when that enemy disappeared. Unity will be regained when the United Nations again have a common goal. This goal must be extra-terrestrial in nature, because as long as we have only this one small world to fight over, we will fight each other. It is perhaps unfortunate that one of the other planets in the solar system is not inhabited, for alien hostility would be a more than adequate incentive to unification. Since this incentive which would assure a world government is not available, an adequate substitute must be found. The conquest of space is the only common goal in which all men can submerge their differences. "To unite a divided nation, invoke an outside power" is one of the oldest axioms of statecraft. Our world is like that divided nation today, and we must have an enemy that is outside our own petty interests before we will unite to conquer. The rewards of this conquest will be twofold, the consignment of the material wealth of the other planets to Earth, and the union of all nations under one flag, that of the United Nations.
Before such a goal can be agreed upon, however, it must be presented to these nations of the world, and the best method of presentation, one that everyone understands, is that of visual representation, i.e., the motion picture. Nor is this contemplated as a gift for sweet charity's sake. It need hardly be mentioned here that people will pay, and pay well, for the privilege of being educated in this manner if the emphasis is on producing a good picture. As for source material, the subject matter is not even limited by the sometimes stereotyped imaginations of script writers. We can start off with the war films; rocket bombs, submarines, desolated cities, and great clouds of radioactive gases that destroy all life as they swirl and drift across the continents. These should be followed by the films depicting the glories of peace, with giant skylons for commerce and trade, the open countryside for homes and parks, the Lunar bases with great space ships taking off for the far planets, the colonies on worlds that circle the nearer stars, and the outposts on planets halfway across the galaxy. This is the broad, general outline. We must first convince those nations who are politically aggressive that no one can win an atomic war; we must then give them an incentive to unite for an atomic peace.
There is no reason to suppose that any of this will be less lucrative than Hollywood productions usually are. The old formulas that have made money for years are always applicable: the war theme, exploding comets in the deep night sky as space-borne fleets maneuver; the adventure theme, exploring the lost cities of Mars, or building pressure domes under the sea-thick atmosphere of Jupiter; the triangle theme, boy meeting girl on a vacation cruise around the rings of Saturn; the gangster theme, piracy in high space, or smugglers trying to run the Space Guard blockade; and the murder mystery -- who left Mr X to fry like a mackerel on the sunward side of Mercury? All of these are merely the old stand-bys transplanted to new backgrounds and therefore capable of much greater variety in presentation. In one respect the only real difference between the old and the new is this new background. The mere visualization of the riches to be had for the taking by those who have the courage to pioneer the way should be a powerful inducement to the conquering of the space barrier. California's Gold Rush will look like a gathering of the clan compared to the scramble to stake out the uranium mines of Mercury unless we have a unified form of control.
Our purpose must be to bring the glory of the stars into the hearts of men, not to produce a few shoddy pieces of glitter and tinsel. The films that are to sell the idea of world unity through concerted action towards a common goal must be the best that can be produced. Hollywood has the industrial capacity and the film making technique for such an assignment, but whether or not it has the imagination and the moral integrity that is necessary to complete the job remains to be seen.
The nations of the Earth must have an incentive to attain unity. This incentive can be supplied only by a common goal, not some undefinable idea of Peace, and this common goal can be best presented through the medium of motion pictures. Whether from the point of view of making a profit or from the long range concept of Peace for ourselves and our posterity, it is definitely good business for private enterprise to sell the idea of world unity. We must have One World or we will have none.

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Thelema Lodge Events Calendar for October 2002 e.v.

10/2/02Lesser feast of Jack Parsons
8:00 PM in the library
(510) 652-3171Thelema Ldg.
10/6/02Gnostic Mass 8:00PM Horus Temple(510) 652-3171Thelema Ldg.
10/9/02 The Rite of Mercury at a changed
location. Call for information
(510) 295-1883
10/12/0225th anniversary feast of Crowleymas
7:00 PM
(510) 652-3171Thelema Ldg.
10/13/02Gnostic Mass 8:00PM Horus Temple(510) 652-3171Thelema Ldg.
10/18/02Lesser feast of Grady McMurtry
party at Ashby House in Berkeley
8:00 PM
(510) 849-1970
10/20/02Gnostic Mass 8:00PM Horus Temple(510) 652-3171Thelema Ldg.
10/9/02The Rite of Luna at Cafe de la Paz
1600 Shattuck in Berkeley
(510) 652-9986
10/25/02Pathworking with Paul 8:00PM
at Horus Temple
(510) 652-3171Thelema Ldg.
10/27/02IIIrd degree Seminar 2PMSirius Camp
10/20/02Gnostic Mass 8:00PM Horus Temple(510) 652-3171Thelema Ldg.
10/28/02Section II reading group with
Caitlin: science fiction of
Philip K. Dick 8pm in the library
(510) 652-3171Thelema 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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