Thelema Lodge Calendar for September 2003 e.v.

Thelema Lodge Calendar

for September 2003 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, 2003 e.v.

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

September 2003 e.v. at Thelema Lodge

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

Announcements from
Lodge Members and Officers

Scales of Autumn

At the two balancing points of light and darkness in our annual calendar, lodge members gather by tradition to reaffirm collectively those voluntary bonds which unite our work together as Thelemites. Equinoxes afford the opportunity of focusing upon the local fraternity we enjoy, assessing our achievements, and evaluating our opportunities as a lodge. The sun enters the sign of the scales in the dark of the morning at 3:47 on Tuesday 23rd September, the beginning of autumn. That evening starting at 7:00, members and friends of Thelema Lodge will hold a dinner feast together, and mark the date with a seasonal ritual in the temple. It would be a good idea also for us to give some informal attention to the workings of the lodge and our continuing progress together, with all participants encouraged to help renew our definitions of this association (which will be completing its 26th year next month). Bring a large entree, salad, or dessert to share, along with plenty to drink, and perhaps a few ideas, to join in celebrating the autumnal equinox.
The community of the lodge assembles on Sunday evenings at nightfall to celebrate Aleister Crowley's mass of Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica. We welcome all whose will it is to participate with us in this thelemic eucharist ritual, with newcomers requested to call the lodgemaster well in advance for directions to Horus Temple and further information about the role of the communicants in our gnostic liturgy. Members who are willing to serve the lodge at mass are encouraged to work together to learn the ritual and then to form teams of officers to lead its celebration. Speak with your favorite working mass officer for advice on getting started, and seek out the lodgemaster when your team is ready to schedule a date on the temple calendar.
Under charter from the US Grand Lodge of O.T.O. we open the oasis of initiation to qualified candidates who present themselves here by advance application for the Man of Earth degrees (Minerval through IV° and P.I.) of Ordo Templi Orientis. Initiation rituals are private events open only to those active members of the degree being worked who make advance arrangements with the lodge officers to be present. Times and locations of the rituals will be communicated to those who plan to attend, but each member must make specific arrangements to do so. Candidates may request application forms from the lodgemaster at any temple or library event, and should return them when complete for posting to the Grand Lodge Initiation Secretary. There is a thirty day minimum period of candidacy, which may be lengthened in some cases by the scheduling arrangements of our initiation officers, with applicants required to maintain good contact with the lodge during this period. Nearly all of the rituals, classes, and celebrations held at Thelema Lodge are open to visitors without respect to membership status, and by definition it is only as the result of a completely voluntary choice that one can undergo initiation into a fraternity of Thelema. Initiation is offered to all who meet the minimum qualifications of being "free, of full age, and of good report," but it is urged upon none.

Aum -- the Union of All

"A mantra is not being properly said," Crowley writes in the Book of Lies commentary (chapter 74), "as long as the man knows he is saying it." Which is not to say that the magician ought to chant ignorantly, or fail to study the technique being employed, but rather to indicate the transcendence which comes with success in this ancient and widely used technique of personal devotion. Join the lodge's mantra yoga group in Horus Temple at 8:00 on Thursday evening 18th September for instruction and practice with brother Jeffrey Sommer in concentrated repetitious chanting adapted from Hindu traditions. Although sessions usually open with some theoretical discussion of verbal yoga -- what it is and how and why it works -- this group primarily forms a practical workshop in repetitious chanting together. Bring along your mala and join the great vibration. At the meeting last month we listed some of the categories of mantra, and began experimenting with the most common examples, concentrating upon the widely used Gayatri Mantra. We outlined the basic types of mantra, and the group will continue to experiment with other examples from among them.

Bija (seed) Mantras are so called because they are begun with a sound peculiar to a particular Deity, representing its essence. An example is Aum Shrim Mahalakshmiyai Namah, where Shrim is the "seed" of Lakshmi, goddess of wealth and prosperity, anciently identified with the goddess Sri.
Devotional Manras are centered around a particular deity, but do not contain a bija as such. Examples are Aum Namo Narayanayan (for Vishnu), and Aum Nama Shivaya (for Shiva), and Aum Namo Bhagavate Vasudevay (for Krishna), and Sri Ram, Jaya Ram, Jaya Jaya Ram (for Rama).
Vedic Mantras are considered more ancient as a form. Often impersonal, they usually represent the earlier cult of the Brahmana. Examples are Aum, and Sivoham, and Aham Brahmasmi.
The Gayatri Mantra is a very special Brahmanic mantra, universal throughout all casts, ages, and sexes in India. Gayatri is the name of its poetic meter, though it is sometimes confused with the presiding deity, who is actually either Surya or Brahmana. Of enormous importance, the text of this mantra runs thus:
Aum Bhur Buvah Svaha
Tat Savitur Varenyam
Bhargo Devasya Dheemahi
Dhiyo Yo Naha Prachodayat.
Its meaning is: "The union of earth, the sky, and all heaven -- Aum! May that one [i.e. the sun] who is the representative of the divine light be worshipped as is fitting. Thou shining god, I meditate on thee, that thou mayest enlighten my understanding and wisdom."
Note that many gods have a Gayatri-like mantra. The gayatri is, after all, a poetic meter.
-- Jeffrey Sommer

Angelic Angles

Three of the lodge's senior initiates offer a series of instructive workshops entitled "Fundamentals of Magical Practice," meeting on the second Thursday evening of each month from 7:30 until 10:00 in Horus Temple. Our last meeting featured a group inquiry into the theory and practice of the Lesser Pentagram Ritual, and when the group next gathers on Thursday evening 11th September we will be turning our attentions to the Ritual of the Hexagram. If the five-pointed star, as we found, serves to plot the dynamics of the individual self (the microcosm), the star of six points offers us a map of the great universe (the macrocosm). Join brother Greg Peters, sister Leigh Ann Hussey, brother Samuel Shult, and their scientific circle of magical practitioners, beginning and advanced, in this mutually educative enterprise.

"He that hath the knowledge of the Microcosm cannot long be ignorant of the knowledge of the Macrocosm. This is that which the Egyptian industrious searchers of Nature so often said, and loudly proclaimed -- that every one should KNOW HIMSELF. This speech their dull disciples (the Greeks) took in a moral sense, and in ignorance affixed it to their Temples. But I admonish thee, whosoever thou art, that desirest to dive into the inmost parts of Nature, if that which thou seekest thou findest not within thee, thou wilt never find it without thee. If thou knowest not the excellency of thine own house, why dost thou seek and search after the excellency of other things? The universal Orb of the world contains not so great mysteries and excellences as a little Man, formed by God to his own Image. And he who desires the primacy amongst the students of Nature, will nowhere find a greater or better field of study than himself. Therefore will I follow the example of the Egyptians, and from my whole heart, and certain true experience proved by me, speak to my neighbor in the words of the Egyptians, and with a loud voice do now proclaim: O MAN, KNOW THYSELF, in Thee is hid the Treasure of Treasures."
-- The Center of Nature Concentrated,
or, The Salt of Nature Regenerated, Alipili.
Originally restricted to the use of adepts of the Ordo Roseae Rubeae et Aureae Crucis (Order of the Ruby Rose and Golden Cross), the secret Second Order of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, the ritual of the Hexagram saw the light of day with Crowley's exposure of the Golden Dawn rituals throughout the serialized Equinox. With many subsequent exposures of the Golden Dawn's curriculum, the ritual of the Hexagram developed a much wider audience and has now achieved common knowledge, if not use, among magicians. One can buy a variety of books, ranging widely in quality, to find amongst the arcane exposed gnosis the Lesser and Greater Rituals of the Hexagram. Yet to most, despite this, the ritual remains somewhat obscure. While the Pentagram rituals are now ubiquitous amongst magicians both seasoned and new, the formula of the six-fold star remains more mysterious, even elusive.
The Hexagram or Macrocosmic Star is a reflection in geometric form of the unity between the Divine and Human. As a talisman of the unity of consciousness and polarities -- As above, so below; as within, so without -- its six points are associated with the classical planets as delineated on the Tree of Life, with our radiant Father Sol placed in the center. Of the figure of the Hexagram, Papus tells us that "The triangle pointing up represents all that ascends, it is particularly the symbol of fire, of heat. The one with the point down represents all that descends, it is especially the symbol of water, of humidity. The union of the two triangles represents the combination of heat and humidity; of the sun and the moon. It symbolizes the principle of creation, the circulation from heaven to earth. This figure gives the explanation of Hermes' words in the Emerald Tablet: It goes up from the earth to heaven and, vice versa, it goes down to earth and receives the force of superior and inferior things."
Unlike the Pentagram rituals, which are elemental and far wider in application, the Hexagram rite was originally designed for Adepts of the Golden Dawn, and contains symbolism based upon their reception into the Second Order. The Signs of L.V.X. which open and close the rite are the symbolic gestures by which the adept attuned to the forces of Tiphareth as the Sun of the Soul, a representation of the GOD-MAN or homo superior, being the keys by which the symbolic vault of Christian Rosenkreutz was opened. The analysis of the "key word" I.N.R.I. was a further reflection on the cycle of life as represented by the Sun, as well as that interior luminary which serves as the Lamp of the Magus. The six points of the figure are attributed to the six classical planets in their order on the Tree of Life, with the radiance of Our Father Sol in the center. Each planet in turn may be associated with the inner centers of spiritual force, the chakras of the Hindus, as well as with Zodiacal influences, and the symbol is a reflection of the living Truth of the Emerald Tablet -- once again: as above, so below. The planets in their movements in the heavens are reflected in the interior centers of force in our psychospiritual makeup.
Through geometric Kabbalah the six-pointed figure is associated with the sixth sephera on the Tree of Life, Tiphareth, the "interior sun" of the Magician. As a symbol of union, the macrocosmic star represents the union of the magician with the Holy Guardian Angel. The interplay of extremes such as fire and water, light and darkness, Will and Love, symbolized by the union of the two triangles, all reflect on the nature of that attainment. As such, a full understanding of the Star of the Macrocosm may be found within the heart of the magician herself, as a reflection of the Truth of which we are all an expression. Where the five points of the Pentagram show the aspiration towards the divine with an equilibrium of elements and a seeming craving for the radiant L.V.X., the Hexagram expresses the brilliant fire of the Gnostic Sun surrounded by six centers of force in perfect equipoise. One may enter the true Vault of the Adepts by apprehension and application of this symbol in the life of the magician.
-- Greg Peters

Descending into Heaven's Rose

The Thelema Lodge Section Two reading group meets monthly with Caitlin to read and appreciate together a selection of literary works which may be "generally suggestive and helpful" to Thelemic magicians. The notion comes from the second section of Crowley's course of general reading in the Curriculum of A A, where he listed 41 titles (along with "fairy tales" and five other generic categories). This bibliography, along with Section One (listing 43 titles -- including ten of Crowley's own -- for "serious study"), seems to have been drawn up around 1911 e.v., and was published in the "blue" Equinox (1919) and in Magick (1929). Having years ago discussed and enjoyed each one of Crowley's original choices, the reading group continues by adding our own suggestions to the list, as well as occasionally revisiting some of the originals. Join us in the lodge library on Monday evening 18th September to have a look at Dante's Paradiso, a treatise on the varieties of spiritual exaltation. Crowley himself referred to Dante's Comedy only rarely and in the most general terms, but it is a work which (as an information system) offers vast opportunities for technical fascination, containing in its poetry an encyclopedia of the spiritual culture of the early Italian Renaissance. Picking the Paradiso as a subject for Section Two, in preference to the hotter scandals of the Inferno or the more dramatic lessons of the Purgatorio, need not deprive us of considerable poetic enjoyment, although it takes some work to appreciate this in translation. Reading several different modern English versions is the best way for the beginner to approach Dante in translation -- bring any version you like with you to take part in the reading group.
Of both the Ptolemaic cosmos and the Roman theology of Catholicism -- two basic fallacies of "science" in the aeon of Osiris whose concepts continue to reach forward and influence the patterns of human response in our own world -- no greater monument exists, nor any more compelling explication, than the Paradiso section of the marvelous (even called divine) Italian Comedy of Dante Alighieri (1265-1321). The pattern may be similar to the dream of Scipio, or the gnostic ascent past the archons to the fountain of divinity, or the Qaballistic Tree of Life, but here the journey through the planetary spheres is elaborated with the whole vast array of university and ecclesiastical learning achieved in the high middle ages. Spatial concepts of modern science have so hugely expanded our notions of cosmological dynamics as to give this structure of the heavens the appeal of a miniature, with the three-day journey of the Dante pilgrim seeming just a jaunt down a hole (led by the magus-poet- prophet and gnostic saint Vergilius as his white rabbit) and climb up a hill, followed by easy travel hand in hand through the other planets, powered by nothing more practical than the buoyancy of first love. As author of probably the first systematic narrative of cosmic space travel Dante may be a forefather to science fiction, although he based his speculations upon the medieval sciences of theology and natural philosophy, anticipating modern fantasies inspired by physics and biology. If the underground journey was Dante's unalterable Wonderland, and the graduated purgatorial struggle his looking-glass for viewing human conditioning, then the free exercise of the will in the realms on high can show us that nirvana to which Alice may still attain (by means of enthusiasms unmentionable in the works of sublimated pedophilia which made her mathematical mentor famous). Explore a bit of the Paradiso as an antique guide to the heavens, then join us in trying to account for some of the wisdom and appeal of this utterly odd and grand piece of travel fiction.

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Under the Dog Star

Sirius Encampment in Berkeley meets on Saturday evening 20th September; contact the master at (510) 527-2855, or send e-mail to for the time and address. Sirius meetings during the dog days will continue the series on Lunar Mansions and Alphabets, exploring one of the junctures between Qaballah and astrology. Studies here range from the Picatrix and the numerology of various early writing systems, to the Vedic and Chinese systems of lunar astrology and other traditional methods of tracking the lunar course. These informal study sessions are open to all interested thelemites.

Crowley Classics

This article, which appeared in the London Sunday Dispatch on 18 June 1933 e.v., was the first in a series of three weekly installments, based apparently upon a friendly interview with the Great Beast. There are several signs in this piece that Crowley is being quoted from a reporter's notes, and did not have editorial control over the text. (The title of MTP is disordered, and several similar errors occur.) The two subsequent articles were reprinted in this column in March and April of this year, although at the time we did not have access to a copy of this earlier article. Now that it has turned up, we include it in the column slightly out of chronology. Many thanks to our friend Steve J. for providing a scanned copy of this text.

The "Worst Man in the World"
Tells the Astounding
Story of His Life

by Aleister Crowley
Poet, Artist, Mountaineer, and Magician

If there is one subject I detest it is Aleister Crowley. On the other hand, there's no mystery about it. So, if anyone is interested, here goes!
I have been shot at with broad arrows. They have called me the "worst man in the world." They have accused me of doing everything from murdering women and throwing their bodies into the Seine to drug peddling.
Some well-known journalists have delighted in attacking me in print. James Douglas described me as "a monster of wickedness." Horatio Bottomley branded me as a "dirty degenerate" cannibal -- everything he could think of.

Murdering My Secretary

Some have been more precise.
In a book I picked up recently the author told a tale of how I murdered cats with terrible ritual in Sicily.
Certain irresponsible newspapers accused me of having murdered my secretary!
The value of all this nonsense is somewhat discounted by the fact that I am back in England after wandering over most of the world, and go my way without interference.
No charge of any sort has ever been preferred against me.
Legend says that my dossier at Scotland Yard fills a whole room. There is a story that Lord Byng, when he took over, saw a wing of the building particularly vast and quite unusually guarded.
"What's that?"
"The files about Aleister Crowley."
"Goodness gracious me!"
"Of course, we haven't got the last month's stuff in yet. A bit congested."
"Here, this has got to stop! We can't put up new buildings every few weeks. Close the record!"
Nobody stops to look at me in the street. My appearance is, I suppose, that of a simple country gentleman up in town for a weekend.
All my notoriety arises from the fact that I am a magician.
Practically my whole life has been spent in the study of magic.

Foolish Talk of Black Mass

Foolish people say that I am a Black Magician, that I am in the habit of celebrating the Black Mass and the Witches' Sabbath, that I eat new-born babes and explore the sky on a broomstick.
They say that Satan is my master and that I am his faithful agent.
But I am a white magician, not a black one. I belong to a secret order which has representatives all over the world; we are all working for the good of humanity, not for its downfall.
Let me say here that it is impossible for a magician to be a man of bad character. He cares nothing for conventions, but he needs the sternest virtues. His powers are limited by himself.
The man who, having practiced strange rites, becomes a drunkard or a drug- fiend, is evidently a failure as a magician. He has lost his grip.
That brings me to what is magic. The ordinary man is inclined to laugh at the word. He says that it is a phantom of the morbid and ignorant minds of the ancient and the Middle Ages.
Yet he is superstitious enough to believe in signs and omens, in astrologers and palmists, who claim to read destiny in stars and hands.
If an Englishman of a generation or two ago could have been shown a little black box and told that if he turned a knob the President of the United States would talk to him, he would have laughed at the idea.

Magic Today -- Science Tomorrow

If one could have convinced him that the voice was actually that of the President that Englishman would have been forced to the conclusion that the black box was magical.
And yet we know now that the feat is quite possible, and that the box is only that kind of magic now revealed to the profane as "radio."
What is magic today is science tomorrow. The Hindus "worship idols." Yes? But what exactly do they mean by that? As I myself have observed: they get very interesting results from their "worship."
We, the enlightened West, say that their worship is ignorant superstition and the results coincidence. But are we not in the position of our mythical Englishman listening to the noise from the black box?

Swastika Over My Heart

In my textbook, Theory and Practice of Magick will be found the definition of the word magic, or magick, as I prefer to spell it, to distinguish the real from the fake.
It is "the science and art of causing change to occur in accordance with the will."
We magicians are men of science who, by the practice of our craft, keep just ahead of popular understanding. The result is that we are misunderstood and blackguarded all our lives.
After we are dead -- sometimes centuries after -- the world catches up, and discovers that we were benefactors and nor villains.
I am writing these articles as an explanation of magic. Unfortunately, my name is universally identified with the subject, so I fear I must drag myself into the arena. Let me condense my personal history into a few paragraphs.
I was born in Leamington, Warwickshire, on October 12, 1875, the son of Edward Crowley, who was a colleague of John Nelson Darby, the founder of the Plymouth Brethren.
At birth I had three of the distinguishing marks of a Buddah. I was tongue-tied, I had a characteristic membrane which necessitated an operation, and over the centre of my heart I had four hairs curling from left to right in the exact form of a Swastika.
Before Hitler was, I am.
At school I had passions for poetry and chemistry. I had an instinct for chess; experience rapidly proved my ability. I never lost to anyone until -- at Cambridge -- I met H. E. Atkins, seven years running amateur champion of Britain.
It was at Cambridge that I perceived the futility of worldly ambitions. I had wanted to be a poet and to attain to the greatest success in the Diplomatic Service, for which the late Lord Salisbury had intended me.

Secret Community of Saints

Suddenly all the ordinary ambitions of life seemed empty and worthless. Time crumbles all; I must find durable material for building. I sought desperately for help, for light. I raided every library and bookshop in the University.
One book told me of a secret community of saints in possession of every spiritual grace, of the keys of the treasure of Nature. The members of this church lived their secret life of sanctuary in the world, radiating light and love on all those that came within their scope.
The sublimity of the idea enthralled me; it satisfied my craving for romance and poetry. I determined with my whole heart to make myself worthy to attract the notice of this mysterious brotherhood.
Then one of the first principles of magic was revealed to me.
It is sufficient to will with all one's might that which one wills. You who read this -- whatever you will you can do. It is only a question of commanding the means.
The first proof that I had of this miracle-working capacity which is latent in every man was this: even before I had issued the call for guidance there was a man at my side to answer it.
But the first call: 1896. In a Bierhalle under the shadow of the Matterhorn I met an alchemist.
He is one of the best-known technical chemists in London. One of his scientific feats was the "fixing" of mercury (i.e. the making of it solid at ordinary temperatures) and he had done this by the despised alchemical processes of the Middle Ages.

£100,000 For My One-Way Ticket

He was a member of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, fraudulent imitations of which have created so much scandal in later years.
Through his good offices I was initiated into the Order in November 1898.
I realized that I had found the key to illimitable knowledge and power, that I had started the path which enabled a man to transcend all the inflictions and disappointments of life.
The Path! I did not guess that it would lead me through all the most obscure and dangerous lands upon this planet, and cost me £100,000 for a one- way ticket.
The Path! One of the final secrets -- listen! -- is this: not even the inexpressible glory and rapture of the goal, but the Path itself, with all its dangers, hardships, and distress, is the reward worth while.
The initiation ceremony was impressive. I was handed over by my sponsors at the door of a secret temple (even today I must not reveal its whereabouts) by the Kerux or Herald; a man in a golden robe with a drawn sword.
He conducted me through the first of the Great Pylons. After being blindfolded and bound, purified by being sprinkled with water and consecrated by fire, I was led into semi-darkness thick with the fumes of incense.
I was made to kneel before an altar and repeat a formidable oath of fidelity, of secrecy, and of abstinence from any kind of conduct which might impair my power of self-control.
The hoodwink was removed from my eyes at a throne set up in darkness in the west. Here I was confronted by a black-hooded officer representative of the god Horus.
He gave me my first injunction: "Fear is failure and the forerunner of failure. Be thou therefore without fear, for in the heart of the coward virtue abideth not. Thou hast known me. Pass thou on."
The hoodwink was removed also when I arrived at the throne in the east, where the officer representing the god Osiris gave me another injunction -- that the path of attainment lies through the knowledge and use of perfect balance, justice, righteousness, and truth.
Finally I was unbound and bidden to take my place in the north, the place of greatest darkness, to show that I had taken only the first step in a long and difficult road.

Travelling In the Astral Plane

All this ritual may strike the reader as being unnecessary. But its purpose is to stamp the injunctions indelibly on the memory, more upon deeper parts of the spiritual being of man than the superficial strata of the conscious mind.
I am forbidden to mention the names of those who initiated me, but among them were some of the most distinguished men and women in the Empire in literature, art, politics, the theater, diplomacy, and the army.
I was then a neophyte -- a new being born into a new world. I have never gone back to the old world of the gross deceptions and illusions of matter as the senses describe it.
Those who become magicians can travel in the astral plane, visiting distant places while the body still stays at home. They have prepared and proved an elixir of life; they are often seen surrounded with an aura of light.
I have myself tested all these claims and found them true. There is no limit to the possibilities of an attainment.
But these are only superficial things. Magic transcends space and time. All things are possible to an adept, but the virtue of his knowledge and power would desert if he used them for selfish ends or personal gain.
In fact, these words "selfish" and "personal" cease to mean anything to the initiate. He develops himself, and finds himself by losing his old limited self in all that is: for "everything that lives is holy."
Next week I shall describe my world pilgrimage in search of magical attainment.

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from the Grady Project:

Crossing the Atlantic homeward bound from the European military theater after the second world war, Grady and his fellow soldiers had about ten days to relax at sea before being discharged in New York. During this voyage Grady helped write and edit a single-sheet daily newsletter to entertain idle soldiers. At first this news-sheet was entitled The Hyde Pryde in honor of their transport ship, S.S. Thomas W. Hyde, but in keeping with its rather silly tone the newsletter quickly mutated to The Fryde Hyde, with occasional variations. The column selected here was the leading article in the issue for the fourth day of their passage, 7th November 1945 e.v.

Hyde Tyde

by Lt Grady L. McMurtry

Boat Drill at four o'clock yesterday! Well, how were we to know -- no one told us anything about a boat drill coming up -- or down. Anyway that was one time that all of you Rail Birds were on deck to answer the call of the rolling Hyde -- I mean Tyde. Really chums, the ship doesn't roll this way all the time. Once in a while it turns around and rolls the other way.

RUMOR DEPARTMENT: Anyone interested in the latest Black Market quotations -- see Smokey Joe in Hold #2. Or are there any of the "Mille Franc" boys aboard?

Due to the paper shortage we are only printing 300 copies of this paper per day, so don't worry if someone wants to read over your shoulder. It happens in the best of families. But stay away from the editorial table when we are putting the paper to press (in any language it is -- still a duplicator M-1). We are having enough trouble with that infernal machine as it is without having sidewalk superintendents cluttering up the place.

By the way One Mess is enough on this ship, so how about keeping the deck clean? If you don't want it, throw it over the syde.

It's Rhyme Time
Man to Man, Play Fan Tan

I know a guy by the name of Stough
A name that rhymes with snow, ya know.
But there are those who take the view
That it should rhyme with stew, eh Crew?
Now is it stow, or is it stew?
Really now, I have no clue.
Is it stew or is it stow?
He says "Take a deep breath - and blow!"
How boot that?
Or, as they say in Southern Russia,
Toughsky Esky, yo'all.

-- McMurtry

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from the Library Shelf

The following selection comprises the beginning of chapter 5 in The Arcane Schools, originally published in Belfast in 1909 e.v. by Jonathan Yarker (1833-1913). This title is included in Section Three of the O.T.O. reading list.

The Mysteries in Relation to Philosophy
from The Arcane Schools (1909)

by Jonathan Yarker

The chief difficulty in the minds of writers who have written upon the Mysteries and Freemasonry is owing to the varieties of names by which the former have been known in different nations, and the comparatively modern designation of the latter Society. But this difficulty disappears in a great measure when we recognise that the Rites are of great antiquity, derived from a primitive source, that they had all the same general principles and varied chiefly but in the technicalities and language of the country in which they were celebrated. We may safely admit that the general characteristics of the Mysteries were the same in all nations.
Thus in the course of ages, by national divergence in the mode of expressing thought, new names for the old Rites arose, and translations made into new tongues. The Assyrian Dionisu is the Greek Dionysos, the Latin Bacchus, and the Egyptian Osiris. In other cases the Mysteries were known by their place of conferment, or by the name of the Hierophant who introduced them. In other cases names varied according to the particular degree of the writer; thus it is said that Bacchus the Lord of the Cross and the pinecone, becomes Iacchus in the mouth of an epoptae addressing him as Lord of the planet. Similarly we learn from Plutarch that Ishter, Demeter, Ceres, and Isis are all one, and represent living matter, or matter vivified by spirit, which is a doctrine of the Mystae, or first grade of Initiation. The higher spiritual birth of the twice-born is taught in the martyrdom of these gods. Each nation, however, gave to the Mysteries a tinge of its own culture, precisely as Osiris, Isis, and Horus, are counterparts of the two deific principles, and created forms, equally with the Christian Trinity of Joseph, Mary, and Jesus. Pausanius gives the name of Saotus or saviour to the Mystery-god, and he was designated Liberator, and Upsilon-Eta-Sigma.
Varron, the most learned of the Latins, in his treatise De Lingua Latina, says (iv, p. 17): "The principal gods are Heaven and Earth. They are the same gods which in Egypt are named Serapis, Isis, and Harpocrates, which with Phoenicians are Thoth and Astarte, the same in Latin as Saturn and Ops (the earth). In effect the earth and the heavens are the sacred instruction of Samothrace, treated as the Great Gods." That is they are the active and passive principles of nature, and belong to the earlier and less cultured life of the Greeks. Tertullian says that they raised three altars to the great gods -- that is the male and female principles became three in their progeny -- the oldest of trinities.
The ostensible hero of the Mysteries of Greece was the sun-god, and Martius Capellus, in his hymn to the sun written in the fifth century, says:
"Thee, the dwellers on the Nile, adore as Serapis,
And Memphis worships thee as Osiris.
Thou art worshipped as Mithra, Dis, and cruel Typhon;
In the sacred rites of Persia thou art Mythras,
In Phrigia the beautiful Atys;
And Lybia bows down to thee as Amon, Phoenician Byblos as Adonis;
Thus the whole world adores thee under different names."
Ausonius has verses to the like effect, adding Dionysos for India, and Liber for Italy:
"Hail! true image of the gods and thy father's face,
Thou whose sacred name, surname, and omen,
Three letters that agree with the number 608."
YHS = 400 + 8 + 200 = 608. In Chaldee and Hebrew, Cham or Ham, heat, is also 608.
Although Cumberland, Bishop of Peterborough, in his Origines Gentium Antiquissimae had set himself the impossible task of deriving all mankind from Noah within the period of the Rabinical chronology, he has many valuable quotations which tend to elucidate the Mysteries. He quotes Herodotus as affirming in his Euterpe, for a known truth, that Ceres of Demeter is also Isis; Clemens Alexandrinus also affirms it, and proves it out of the book of Leon, who wrote the history of the Egyptian gods. Diodorus Siculus is cited by Eusebius as saying that Osiris is Dionysius or Bacchus, and that Isis is Demeter or Ceres; Diodorus makes Prometheus the crucified Cabiric God to be contemporary with Osiris. Plutarch quotes Anticlides to prove that Osiris is the same person as Dionysius or Bacchus. Prometheus is said to be son of Japhetus, of Japhet, and Isis the wife of Osiris his daughter, as is also asserted by Anticlides. Another son of Jephetus, according to Apollodorus, was Atlas. Pausanius affirms that Prometheus and his son Aetnaus planted the Cabiric Mysteries in Boetia, but that they received this sacred depositum from Ceres. Much of this is mystical, but it all goes to prove what we began by saying, namely, that the Mysteries were all one, and varied only in the language.
Herodotus speaks of the celebration at night, in Egypt, of the sufferings of a god whose name is too sacred to be written. The Phoenician Mysteries, as we learn from Meursius, and Plutarch, exhibited the corpse of a young man strewn with flowers, for whom the women mourned, and for whom a tomb was erected. Macrobius says that in the Mysteries of Adonis there was a nine days fast and lamentation which was succeeded by hymns of joy in honour of the risen god. Fermecius informs us that similar rites were used in the Muthraic Mysteries. The Chevalier Ramsay affirms that this is the characteristic of all the Mysteries, and that of their traditional history, and is a prophesy of the coming of a suffering Messiah, who is symbolised by the sun.
According to Herodotus the Mysteries entered Greece from Egypt, and from Greece they entered Italy; and he informs us in positive language that the Rites of the Egyptian Osiris and Latin Bacchus are the same, and were carried into Greece about 2,000 years before his time (450 B.C.) by Melampus, who either took them direct, or derived them from Cadmus and his Tyrian companions. The system of these which Orpheus propagated taught a divine trinity in unity, which, according to Damaskios, was represented by a Dragon with three heads, that of a bull, a lion, and between a god with wings of gold; these Rites, if we may rely on tradition, were devoted to music. Dionysius Halicarnassus says that the priests of Serapis chanted a hymn of seven vowels: the same had place in Greece, and there are representations of these seven heads, over each of which is seen one of the vowels.
All the Mysteries had three principal trials or baptisms, namely, by water, fire, and air; and there were three specially sacred emblems, the phallus, egg, and serpent, thus represented Iota-Omicron-Theta. The two generative emblems were sacred in all the Mysteries.
The advantages gained by initiation into these Rites are thus set forth by various writers: They diffuse a spirit of unity and humanity wherever introduced; purify the soul from ignorance and pollution; secure the peculiar aid of the gods; the means of arriving at the perfection of virtue; the serene happiness of a holy life; the hope of a peaceful death and endless felicity; also a distinguished place in the Elysian fields; whilst those who have not participated in Initiation shall dwell after death in places of darkness and horror.
Porphyry gives the following as the precepts of the Mysteries: (1) Honour parents; (2) Venerate the Gods; (3) be Humane to animals. Plutarch (Laconic Apothegms of Lysander) to confess all wicked acts. The pre-Hebrew commandments termed the seven precepts of the Noachidae are: (1) Abstain from Idolatry; (2) Blaspheme not; (3) Do no murder; (4) Commit not Adultry; (5) Do not steal; (6) Administer justice; (7) Eat not flesh cut from the live animal.
The Rites of Eleusis in Greece are those of which we have the fullest particulars, and we shall therefore take them as the complement of all the others, and give as much as can be gathered from prejudiced and unprejudiced sources, poets, philosophers, and their bitter enemies the Christians. The Rite is said to have followed the Orphic doctrine, and to have been established about 1423 B.C., in the reign of Erectheus King of Athens, which city had previously been occupied by a colony from Egypt. Though best known, yet not the most ancient, the Eleusinia would seem to have constituted rather a democratic society than a Sacredotal College, as if their intention was to absorb all the popularity of these institutions; to be followed, at a later period, by the appropriation, by minor schools of Philosophers, of all the knowledge to be gained in these Colleges. It is, however, noteworthy that the tradition of the ancient unity of King and Priest was preserved in the title of Basileus or King given to the Presiding officer; and Lysias says that it was his duty to offer up prayers, and to preserve morality. These Mysteries were at the same time essentially secret and sacred, embodying a scenic representation, in which all classes might participate except bastards and slaves, who were especially excluded by the action of Euclid, the Archon, or chief, in 402 B.C., and a different person from the later Geometrician. It is worthy of note that the old Constitutional Charges of Free Masons exclude the same persons.
Although the Cabiric Mysteries, like those of Egypt, preserved, at least in name, an idea of the worldly sciences, the Eleusinia would seem to have abandoned the pretensions of these, and only required that the Neophyte should in youth be liberally and appropriately educated. The time had arrived when art in Greece could be learned outside the Mysteries which constituted a holy drama, influencing the ancient theatre, and the "Mystery plays" of Christians. Mr James Christie in his work upon the Greek Vases holds that phantasmal scenes in the Mysteries were shewn by transparencies, such as are yet used by the Chinese, Javanese, and Hindus. In symbol, he says, a ball of wool represents the thread of life not yet spun; gutta, fecundity; sesame, fertility; water, the creation of beings from that element; wine, the life; an olive leaf at the top of a vase, spirit; and a wavy line, water on which spirit acts.
There were Nine Archons, of which the Chief was properly so called as the word means Commander, he had jurisdiction over all ecclesiastical and civil affairs, with the title of Eponymus. The second was Basileus or King, who superintended religious ceremonies, festivals, and Mysteries. The third was the Polemarchos, who had care of strangers and conduct of war. The other six were termed Thesmothetae, from two words -- law, and I establish -- they formed a tribunal for judging minor offenses. All were elected by lot, were free from taxes, and on their Induction took an oath to administer justice impartially.
Certain noted persons, of whom Pythagoras was one of the earliest and most remarkable, travelled over the whole known world, in order to obtain Initiation in the Mysteries of the countries that he visited. The society which Pythagoras established, as well as others of later date, was the result of an attempt to combine in one common society the knowledge to be gained in all the Mysteries; curiously enough the same principle has been followed in Freemasonry. The Pythagorean Society may thus be considered the forerunner of the various Arcane Schools which followed its decay; it has the closest analogy with the Masonic Society, and whether we look upon this Craft as a primitive system, an ancient imitation of the Mysteries, or a slightly altered branch of the Cabiri, we may equally expect to find that there is the same doctrine, or the same wisdom religion which lay at the foundation of all the Arcane Mysteries; and this is what we shall find as we proceed; and at the same time it is one of the strongest proofs we can expect to have of the antiquity of Freemasonry.
We will now enquire into the general nature of the ceremonial of the Eleusinia as a fair representation of what was taught in these schools. They consisted of the Lesser and Greater Mysteries for which there was a general preparation or apprenticeship in the shape of "a preparation from youth in appropriate disciplines." Between the conferment of these two sections there was a probation extending from one to five years. The drama went on parallel lines with the Egyptian Ritual of the Dead, which dwells upon the moral and spiritual qualities, which are necessary in this life, that the soul may obtain justification in a future state. The apocryphal book called the Wisdom of Solomon (chapter 17) would seem to describe the Tartarean terrors of the Mysteries, applied to the plagues of Egypt.
The magnificent temple of Eleusis was lighted by a single window in the roof, and images of the sun, moon, and Mercury were represented therein. Macrobius says that the temple of Bacchus at Thrace was also round and lighted also by a round window in the roof, by which to introduce the resplendent image of the sun. Proclus says that the proceedings were begun with a prayer in which heaven and earth were respectively invoked. In respect to the signs of the Zodiac the same writer informs us that six were considered male, and six female signs; and Porphyry assimilates the journey of the sun through these signs with he twelve labours of Hercules. The three chief hierophants of the Mysteries bore respectively the symbols of the sun, moon, and Mercury; and as the Basileus represented the Demiurgos who fashions rude matter or chaos into created forms, so it was typified that the Basileus was to recreate the Neophyte or draw him from imperfect nature to a more refined state, or as Masons equally would say, with the philosophers, work him from the rough to the perfect Ashlar. The Stolistes, according to Clemens Alexandrinus, regulated the education of the young, and bore as their emblem of authority the square rule; and the prophet had suspended at the neck an urn with the water of regeneration.
The ceremonial of Initiation began by a solemn proclamation: "Let no one enter here whose hands are not clean, and whose tongue is not prudent."
The candidate was also, as a preliminary, desired to confess his sins, or at least the greatest crime he had ever committed. He was required to bathe in the pure sea in face of the sun, and pour water on his head three times. Certain fasts were enjoined, after which the sacrifice of an animal was made. After two days the shows began with a procession, then followed for three days and three nights the mourning of Demeter for her daughter. After which a sacramental meal of cakes and liquor was partaken.
Prior to the Initiation there was an opening catechism as follows:
The Hieropant demands: "Who are fit to be present at this ceremony?"
To which the answer was: "Honest, good, and holy men,"
The Hierophant then ordered: "Holy things for holy persons."
The Herald proclaimed: "Far hence the profane, the impious, all those polluted by sin." For an uninitiated person to remain after this was death.
Stobaeus quotes an ancient writer who says, that the first stage of Initiation "is a rude and fearful march through night and darkness," but this over, "a divine light displays itself, and shining plains and flowery meads open on all hands before them. There they are entertained with hymns and dances, with the sublime doctrines of faithful knowledge, and with revered and holy visions." The first portion was emblematical of the wanderings of the soul in the paths of error and the punishments it would thereby bring upon itself; and the second part represented the dispersion of the shades of night, before the brilliant sun of the Mysteries.
Justin Martyr gives the oath of Initiation as follows: "So help me heaven, the work of God who is great and wise; so help me the Word of the Father which he spake when he established the whole universe in his wisdom." Dion Chrysostom speaks of Mystic sounds and alternations of light and darkness, and the performance of Mystic dances in imitation of the movements of the planets round the sun. Plato in Euthydemus speaks of Mystic dances in the Corybantic (or Cabiric) Mysteries where the cradle of the young Bacchus was guarded with Mystic dance and music.
The following remarks of a Naasene, or Ophite Gnostic, on these Mysteries are given by Hippolytus, Martyr 235 A.D., and confirms other quotations we shall give from Virgil. He says that: "The Lesser Mysteries are those of Proserpine below and the path which leads to them is wide and spacious to conduct those who are perishing." It is the truth which Chrishna the Hindu god taught to Arjuna, namely that those who give themselves up to worldly pleasures will be confined to the sphere of the earth and be reborn in such bodies as they have merited: "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven" -- "Broad is the way that leadeth to destruction and many there be that go in thereat; but straight is the gate and narrow is the way which leadeth to life, and few there be that find it." Apuleius in his account of his reception into the Isisic Mysteries, after being relieved of his brutish nature by eating roses, which was a flower sacred to Isis, proceeds to say that he approached the confines of Hades, having been borne through the elements, and that he saw the sun at midnight.
The Latin Virgil, a poet, Platonist, astrologer, and Geometrician, has some noteworthy passages which bear upon these details. Priam of Troy sent away his son Polydorus into Thrace, with a large treasure, and in order to obtain this his attendants murdered him. Aeneas, a Trojan Initiate and therefore a Cabir, happening, on reaching that part, to pull up a myrtle growing upon a hillock, discovered by the lamentations, which the plant is represented as magically making, the murdered body of Polydorus, upon which his remains are taken up and decently interred. The myrtle was a plant sacred in the Mysteries, and Virgil here speaks of the "secret rites of Cybele, mother of the gods;" and Cybele was the name of Ceres amongst the Phrygian Cabiri. Again when Queen Dido resorts to Magical arts to detain Aeneas from sailing (Book iv):
"A leavened cake in her devoted hands
She holds, and next the higher altar stands;
One tender foot was shod, the other bare,
Girt was her gathered gown, and loose her hair."
A maxim of Pythagoras was: "Sacrifice and adore unshod." Ovid describes Medea as having arms, breast, and knees made bare; and Roman Postulants for religious and political offices, assumed an air of humility, with cloak and tunic ungirt, arm and breast bare, and feet slipshod. The toga candida is yet used in Masonry.
Another quotation from Pythagoras is this: "The path of vice and virtue resembles the letter Y; from the excellence of the sentiment it was termed the "Golden Branch," of which the broad, left-hand line, symbolised the easy road to Tartarus, whilst the narrow right line represented the path to Elysium. Decius Magnus Ausonius, a poet of the fourth century says: "The Bough represents the dubious Y, or two paths of Pythagoras." The sacred branch of the Mysteries varied in the different rites: the erica or heath was sacred to Osiris, the rose to Isis, the ivy to Dionysos, the myrtle to Ceres, the lettuce to Adonis, the lotus to Hindus, the mistletoe to Druids, the acacia to Jews, the palm to Christians.
Turn we now to Virgil's interesting book, which contains the account of the descent of Aeneas into Tartarus, and which undoubtedly embodies the drama of the Eleusinian representation of Hades and Elysium.
A Sybil, or prophetess, requires for the purpose to be undertaken, that Aeneas shall seek a Golden Branch which shoots from a small tree. It is the mistletoe of the Druids who were of this school, and styled the plant pren puraur or the tree of pure gold: it could only be cut by a pure, white-robed Druid with bare feet, and by using a golden sickle, it probably formed a part of the "brew of Ceridwen," which was given to the Initiate to aid the gift of intuition; the Aryo-Celts were then in Italy. This Golden Branch was to serve Aeneas as a passport, but as the Sybil informs him of the death of a friend, a fact unknown to him, the body has first to be found; this done we have Lamentations:
"With groans and cries Misenius they deplore,
Old Coryanus compassed thrice the crew,
And dipped an olive branch in holy dew,
Which thrice he sprinkled round, and thrice aloud
Invoked the dead, and then dismissed the crowd."
Virgil is careful to inform us that these were ancient Rites to the manes of the dead, and "Ancient," or York, Masons of the last century, and even some in our day, used these Rites.
Aeneas now follows the Sybil to Tartarus, and Virgil describes the fearful scenes he witnessed by way of punishments inflicted upon those who left this life in an impure state. Arrived at the double path of the Branch:
"Before our further way the fates allow,
Here must we fix on high the Golden Bough."
"These holy rites performed, they took their way,
Where long extended plains of pleasure lay."
He nor reaches the Elysian fields, where he finds his father Anchises, who proceeds to instruct him in divine things, with prophetic intimations as to his future.
Such was the nature of the Lesser Mysteries.

-- --to be continued -- --

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Thelema Lodge Events Calendar for September 2003 e.v.

9/7/03Gnostic Mass 8:00PM Horus Temple(510) 652-3171Thelema Ldg.
9/10/03Full Moon in Pisces 9:36 AM
9/11/03Magical Practice series 7:30PM
in Horus Temple
(510) 652-3171Thelema Ldg.
9/14/03Gnostic Mass 8:00PM Horus Temple(510) 652-3171Thelema Ldg.
9/18/03Mantra Yoga Class with Jeff Sommer
8 PM in Horus Temple
(510) 652-3171Thelema Ldg.
9/20/03Sirius Encampment meets in
Berkeley 7:30 PM
(510) 527-2855Sirius Camp
9/21/03Gnostic Mass 8:00PM Horus Temple(510) 652-3171Thelema Ldg.
9/22/03Section II reading group with
Caitlin: Dante's Paradiso
8PM in the library
(510) 652-3171Thelema Ldg.
9/23/03Atumnal Equinox feast & ritual 7PM
bring food and share
(510) 652-3171Thelema Ldg.
9/25/03New Moon in Libra 8:09 PM
9/27/03OTO initiations -- call to attend(510) 652-3171Thelema Ldg.
9/28/03Gnostic Mass 8:00PM Horus Temple(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.

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

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

Internet: (Submissions and internet circulation only)

Home away from Home

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.

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

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

Internet: (Submissions and internet circulation only)

Home away from Home