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Oliver St. John is the author of fifteen books covering Hermetic and Thelemic philosophy, Qabalah, operative magical Theurgy, the Tarot and astrology. He is a founding member of the Thelemic Magical Collegium, Ordo Astri, and has been a member of the Typhonian Order since 2000 e.v.

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Thelemic Mysticism: Will to a Great Work

The Egyptian Book of the Law, Liber AL vel Legis, I: 2, professes:

The unveiling of the company of heaven.

Operations of magick or theurgy do not begin or end with a word or an oath; they begin and end with silence. We behold the sun and the stars in a light no less than that of divine revelation; yet what we perceive is not that; it is rather the product of a certain kind of congress between the absolute and ourselves. In the words of the Sufi mystic Ibn Arabi, beyond the fixed stars is the “Sky without Stars”. Put Qabalistically, the void or limitless space called Ain Soph forms points of junction between planetary bodies and the viewer; the sensible universe is thus enclosed between the Eye of the Eternal and the eye of the seer. The source, or void spirit, is defined as an absence of light. In the undifferentiated void are nodal points or space marks that form a nexus outside of space and time. The universe is a matrix providing body or form for lines of light unique to the position of the individual yet composed of an undifferentiated source.

None, breathed the light, faint and faery, of the stars, and two. For I am divided for love’s sake, for the chance of union.

Liber AL vel Legis, I: 28—29

In Thelemic cosmology we do not posit the absolute in terms of ‘one’, but in terms of zero, the void, and two, the power of dual manifestation by which the universe appears.

Zeus Battling Typhon, William Blake

Thelemic Mysticism: Zeus Battling Typhon, by William Blake

Thelema: Division Hither Homeward

This is the creation of the world, that the pain of division is as nothing, and the joy of dissolution all.

Liber AL vel Legis, I: 30

On the Qabalistic Tree of Life, the first emanation is Kether the Crown, the ‘one’. This unity may be understood as a cloak or veil of concealment—at best a ‘concentration’—of the triple void named Ain Soph Aur.

There is division hither homeward; there is a word not known.

Liber AL vel Legis, III: 2

The first emanation after the hypothetical unity of Kether the Crown is Chokmah. Chokmah means “Wisdom”, which the Greeks call Sophia. And yet Chokmah expresses the primal duality. Chokmah declares, “Two!” and not “One”. Chokmah is therefore paired with Binah, “Understanding”. Together these are the root of force and form, the means of dual manifestation. Mystic unity, often misconstrued as oneness of being, is not a goal but is the yogic means to make the inner Seeing Eye ‘single’.

Before going further we need to make clear what we mean by use of the term “yoga”. We are not here discussing physical exercises designed to relax the mind and make the body more supple and efficient. That is by far the most popular kind of yoga today, since the aim is entirely material, physical, and is about the attainment of that elusive phantom of our deeply troubled times, “wellbeing”. The spiritual and magical yoga or (literally) “joining together” we wish to discuss here is an integral part of the Occult Science, by which Reality may be known.

In the Western Hermetic tradition, ritual magick and yoga are combined yet the goal is no different than that expressed by Patanjali in his Eight Limbs of Yoga. Defined as Samadhi or “Union with the Lord (or God)”, we first fuse together subject and object through yogic concentration and stillness (of mind and body). Division is essentially creative. Division and separation expresses begetting, multiplication, the discernment of one thing from another. BRA, which has the meaning, “created; to carve out; to separate or select”, is the root of the first word in the book of Genesis, “In the beginning” (BRAShITh).[1]

In the beginning God [Elohim] created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and the darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.

Genesis 1: 1–4

The opening of the book of Genesis describes the actions of the Logos, the mind, will and word of the divine absolute, attributed Qabalistically to Chokmah. The bible therefore begins not with ‘one’, but with ‘two’. The uniting of subject and object is to return to the source, that which cannot be defined and is expressed only as a “great mystery” in the language of the sages of old time. Yoga is not about evolution—though we could be forgiven for thinking that if we have spent much time studying occultists of the twentieth century. Our modern sages were as much influenced by Darwin as they were influenced by 19th century notions of ‘progress’. Yoga is about involution, the return to the source of all.

Thelema and Praxis: a Great Work

There must always be division in the self when it comes to the practice of magick and yoga, and until the True Will (Thelema) is known, the personal will is constantly at odds. Even then—as we shall see—illumination is not the end of the struggle, the spiritual battle. Magick and yoga, if pursued to the end, will ultimately depose a terrible tyrant, which we call the human ego, and put in its place the true King and guide of the soul, which we call the Holy Guardian Angel. The mind-body complex will use every trick in the book—including one or two no one has even heard of—to dissuade us from taking up the practice of magick and yoga.

1. The body says, “We can do this tomorrow, for now I am very comfortable as I am and I want to enjoy this comfort now so that I know that I am alive and well and living this life. These grave matters of spirit, this arduous work—extra work at that!—can wait”.

2. On the other side of the coin, the body says, “I am uncomfortable. Something is not right and I need to know what it is. I will be better equipped tomorrow. Things will be different then. For now, I am uneasy with this. We can do this tomorrow, when I am sure of myself.”

When the will is divided there is no single purpose and no single eye that can look into eternity. To the divided will, the divided self, matter reigns supreme, is completely invincible. And yet this restless condition of mind, this unease with things, is the necessary prerequisite to any Great Work. It is the question that opens the quest for the Graal in the Arthurian legends: “What ails thee, o king?” At the same time, the condition is seized upon by the body and ego as persuasive proof that any Great Work is mistaken and should be either abandoned or postponed until conditions arrive that are more perfectly suitable. Unfortunately, it is the nature of the Western magical path, which is naturally more materially focussed than the Eastern, to make this the most common trick that hapless practitioners can play upon themselves.

Thelema and Satan

The Christian mystics made quite a lot of fuss about the fleshly opposition, likening this to a constant struggle with Satan. This does not sit well with the majority of today’s magical practitioners. Aleister Crowley, often falsely accused of ‘Satanism’, insisted that we should best understand Satan as the principle of Initiation through trial and ordeal—a very Christian idea if we consider its source is in the account of Matthew 4: 1–11. Even natural mystics such as Jacob Boehme asserted that it is the struggle that is the very thing needed! Without that, there is no Great Work. We are human; we are imperfect. The greatest of saints were great not because it was easy for them, but because they encountered—and overcame—everything that hell had to throw at them. Unfortunately, our rationality is no ally in the Great Work, but is definitely on the side of Satan—that is, the materialistic Opposer to any Great Work. According to the Egyptian Book of the Law:

If Will stops and cries Why, invoking Because, then Will stops & does nought.
If Power asks why, then is Power weakness.

Liber AL vel Legis, II: 30–31

Thelema vs. Humanistic Psychology

Mystery is regarded with utmost contempt by the modern materialist thinker, who wants everything explained in rational terms. To the psychological reductionist, all mysteries are anathema and are to be regarded with suspicion. Humanistic psychology boils everything down to the question posed in couch therapy: “How are we feeling today?” The aim is to feel good about oneself. Feeling good in the face of the tragedy of the world requires some dishonesty to accomplish. The needs of the human ego are paramount in such personal diagnostics. On the other hand, a magical and spiritual practice, far from massaging the ego, will tend—at least at first—to be a source of pain and discomfort to mind and body.

Modern philosophical writing and thinking, depending as it does entirely on the appeal to rationality and intellect, reduces any Great Work to mere self-affirmation. Worse, humanistic psychology declares that the self can empower the self, that the self can convey to its own, as though a ‘one’ could give to a ‘one’—the ultimate delusion of the human ego. The language of humanistic psychology—which is now the common currency of the academic philosophical establishment—affirms the woeful solipsistic mantram that there is nothing beyond the self, that there is no truth beyond the self, and that truth is only what you make of it personally. Humanistic psychological thinking can be summed up in one short sentence: The self, the whole self, and nothing but the self! It is what René Guenon described as the force of anti-Initiation in his Crisis of the Modern Age. Here is the hypnotic refutation of Initiation, the Great Work in all ancient traditions.[2]

The Gilded Cage, Evelyn De Morgan

Psychological Reductionism: The Gilded Cage by Evelyn De Morgan

Thelema and Mysticism

Jacob Boehme, on the other hand, clearly understood that the divine will or Thelema is not a personal will or desire. Jacob Boehme was born in Görlitz in 1575, and began life as a shepherd, eventually becoming a master shoemaker. His work was suppressed for a time, and he was fortunate not to have been tried and found guilty of heresy. Having nothing with the desire to attain greater happiness, comfort or any sense of wellbeing to placate the ego, Boehme’s expressed concern was to know God—which is exactly the desire as expressed in the Eastern tradition by the Sage Ramakrishna and his discipline Vivekananda, for example. In Confessions, Boehme writes:[3]

I besought the Lord earnestly for his Holy Spirit and his grace, that he would please to bless and guide me in him, and take that away from me which turned me from him. I resigned myself wholly to him, that I might not live to my own will, but his …

Thelema is the Greek word used many times in the New Testament to describe the divine will, expressly not the personal will or desire of the ego.

For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of Him who sent me.

Book of John 6: 38

The Christian term “grace” is as much a technical term as darshana, and should never be confused with favour.[4] The Thelemite will in all probability eschew the Christian Saviour—if the Light of the World is placed in such terms—while readily accepting that the Holy Guardian Angel must be the sole guide, “King, Ruler and Helper” as it is put in the Graeco-Egyptian Bornless Ritual.

This is the Lord of the Gods: This is the Lord of the Universe: This is He whom the winds fear: This is He, who having made voice by His commandment is Lord of all things: King, Ruler and Helper.

What if we should persist with the practice, resisting all contrivances of mind and body to pull us from the path? Perhaps nothing! Or perhaps what is called in terms of Christian mysticism grace and in Eastern mysticism, darshana, literally, “a glimpse”. Boehme, in the simple but beautiful language of his Confessions, describes a direct experience that completely transcends all previous knowledge:

In this … the Gate was opened to me, that in one quarter of an hour I saw and knew more than if I had been many years together at an University …

Here, Boehme directly perceived something of the “great mystery”, and received a “thorough view of the Universe, as a complex moving fulness wherein all things are couched and wrapped up”. This was at first impossible for him to explain or set down in writing:

Yet it opened itself in me, from time to time, as in a young plant. It was with me for the space of twelve years, and was as it were breeding. I found a powerful instigation within me before I could bring it forth into external form of writing; but whatever I could apprehend with the external principle of my mind that I wrote down.

Far from being a state of finality or “attainment”, Boehme insists that such glimpses are no more than encouragement, and that the struggle goes on:

Afterwards, however, the Sun shone upon me a good while, but not constantly, for sometimes the Sun hid itself, and then I knew not nor well understood my own labour. Man must confess that his knowledge is not his own but from God, who manifests the Ideas of Wisdom to the soul, in what measure he pleases …

Boehme insists that in writing down his experiences in case this might help some other on the path, his hand is guided by a spirit that is utterly beyond his self:

Neither is this my natural will, that I can do it by my own small ability; for if the Spirit were withdrawn from me, then I could neither know nor understand my own writings.

Nonetheless, in the prayer of Boehme that closes the first chapter of Confessions, there is clearly an intimacy with the Serpent Power, the action of Kundalini Shakti as termed in the Eastern Tantras:

O immense Greatness! I cannot compare thee with any thing, but only with the resurrection from the dead; there will the Love-Fire rise up again in us, and rekindle again our astringent, bitter, and cold, dark and dead powers, and embrace us most courteously and friendly. O gracious, amiable, blessed Love and clear bright Light, tarry with us, I pray thee, for the evening is at hand.

Curiously, this echoes the words of the English mystic Thomas De Quincey on the approach of nightfall in his own Confessions:

A sudden step upon the stairs broke up my dream, and recalled me to myself. Dangerous hours were now drawing near, and I prepared for a hasty farewell.

Materialism insists on productivity, and this is easily translated even to the most sincere motivation to begin a spiritual path, so the will is subverted to the vain quest for mere self-affirmation. Goethe produced his writing, his poetry; Blake produced his etchings, his wonders of colour and form. Aleister Crowley produced, with the aid of his wife Rose and at least one discarnate spirit, his Egyptian Book of the Law, the Thelemic ‘holy book’. Kenneth Grant produced, at length, his Wisdom of S’lba. It is easy to imagine we must all produce our own ‘holy book’, our masterpiece of art or literature—some tangible material evidence that we have been where we have been, that we have seen what we have seen.

Indeed, it is wonderful to produce works of art, or even of mysticism, but if we fall into the materialistic trap of seeking self-identification and self-validation in all things, we close the Abyss as the limit placed above our own heads and hearts.

Materialism insists on a result as final, as ‘product’. At the end of the line is the product itself, and the consumer that purchases it through the need to self-identify (thus the ‘brand’ is all-important). Aleister Crowley, in his instructional works, spoke perhaps rather too frequently of “attainment”—as if there is truly something to attain and someone to attain it. Sages of old times were more pragmatic than has often been afforded them by those that wish to make saints of men and women. The second chapter of Jacob Boehme’s The Confessions gets straight to the business of daily strife. It is not his aim to confess worldly ‘sins’ as such—thus inviting prurience—but rather to confess that a Great Work is as much a daily struggle for him as it is for anyone else. The fifteen minutes of being born aloft on wings of grace may well be followed by twelve years arduous work.

I am a sinful and mortal man, as well as thou, and I must every day and hour grapple, struggle, and fight with the Devil who afflicts me in my corrupted lost nature, in the wrathful power which is in my flesh, as in all men continually. Suddenly I get the better of him, suddenly he is too hard for me; yet, notwithstanding, he has not overcome or conquered me, though he often gets the advantage over me. If he buffets me, then I must retire and give back, but the divine power helps me again; then he also receives a blow, and often loses the day in the fight. But when he is overcome, then the heavenly gate opens in my spirit, and then the spirit sees the divine and heavenly Being, not externally beyond the body, but in the well-spring of the heart. There rises up a flash of the Light in the sensibility or thoughts of the brain, and therein the Spirit does contemplate.

Boehme makes clear that such illumination is purely internal, “not externally beyond the body”, yet it arises within, not of the self yet apprehended by the self. This “Devil”, as with “Satan” mentioned earlier as the Opposer to all Great Works, is no more and no less than the ordinary human nature and personal will, which we conveniently wrap in the psychoanalytic term “ego”, the Latin word for “I”. It is certainly possible to know a truth that transcends the self, that is no merely rational self-identifying assertion. It is even possible to be informed by such a truth or light while immersed in the darkness of mind and body that it is our lot to dwell in:

Though an angel from heaven should tell this to me, yet for all that I could not believe it, much less lay hold on it; for I should always doubt whether it was certainly so or no. But the Sun itself arises in my spirit, and therefore I am most sure of it.

The Egyptian Book of the Law, in its three chapters and 220 verses, makes it starkly clear that human rationality—termed as the “dogs of reason”—is doomed, and is the arch means of self-dooming.

Also reason is a lie; for there is a factor infinite & unknown; & all their words are skew-wise.
Enough of Because! Be he damned for a dog!


Liber AL vel Legis, II: 32—33

Yet the “great mystery” is declared as fully knowable—this is in direct contradiction to humanistic and materialist thinking, which is founded on the impossible and self-defeating premise of the agnostic, the egotistical negation of the atheist. Nuit, the Egyptian Star Goddess of Thelemic cosmology, is clearly a friend of Jacob Boehme when she declares, in Liber AL vel Legis, I: 58:

I give unimaginable joys on earth: certainty, not faith, while in life, upon death; peace unutterable, rest, ecstasy; nor do I demand aught in sacrifice.

Such “certainty”, such a Sun arising in the spirit, as it was put by Boehme, must not be thought of as an end, a product, a finality. How many have abandoned the path, thinking that their daily struggle only proved their unworthiness, their lack of success or, alternatively, that the Great Work itself is a lie, a fraud, a bad joke played upon suffering humanity?

How many have sought comfort, reassurance, even self-validation—the false graal loved by the forces of anti-Initiation—in a spiritual or magical path? These are the first to give it up in horror when confronted with what may seem an unequal measure of pain, discomfort, doubt and self-negation. While none of these spring from the eternal, the so-called ‘negative’ qualities so feared by the materialist are nonetheless grist to the mill of Initiation:

Dost thou fail? Art thou sorry? Is fear in thine heart? Where I am these are not.

Liber AL vel Legis, II: 46—47

Woe, sorrow and failure are as clouds masking the infinite radiance of eternity. The nature of a Great Work—and the will to a Great Work—is to be able to proclaim, as did Jacob Boehme, that no matter how powerful the human ego is to subvert our purpose, we have not wholly been overcome or conquered. We have not given in, or given up. We must understand that the “fight of the spirit” is “sometimes down and sometimes uppermost”. In the words of Boehme:

The soul liveth in great danger in this world; and therefore this life is very well called the valley of misery, full of anguish, a perpetual hurly-burly, pulling and hauling, warring, fighting, struggling and striving. But the cold and half-dead body does not always understand this fight of the soul. The body does not know how it is with it, but is heavy and anxious; it goes from one business to another, and from one place to another; it seeketh for ease and rest. And when it comes where it would be, yet it finds no such thing as that which it seeks. Then doubtings and unbelief come upon it; sometimes it seems to it as if God had quite cast it off. It doth not understand the fight of the spirit, how the same is sometimes down and sometimes uppermost.

Also, lest we cling to vain notions of saints in white robes and the human sanctification—even deification—of great men and lofty, who have climbed the pinnacles:

Thou must know that I write not here as a story of history, as if it was related to me from another. I must continually stand in that combat, and I find it to be full of heavy strivings where in I am often struck to the ground, as well as all other men. But for the sake of the violent fight, and for the sake of the earnestness which we have together, this revelation has been given me, and the vehement driving or impulse to bring it so to pass as to set all down on paper … For when the flash rises up in the centre, one sees through and through, but cannot well apprehend or lay hold on it; for it happens to such an one as when there is tempest of lightning, where the flash of fire opens itself and suddenly vanishes. … For the old Adam belongs to the earth, and does not, with the flesh, belong to God. In this combat I had many hard trials to my heart’s grief. My Sun was often eclipsed or extinguished, but did rise again; and the oftener it was eclipsed the bright and clearer was its rising again. I do not write this for my own praise, but to the end that the reader may know wherein my knowledge stands, that he might not seek from me that which I have not, or think me to be what I am not.

Evelyn Underhill, a member of the Golden Dawn, said this about Jacob Boehme’s work:
For him, the universe was primarily a religious fact: its fiery energies, its impulse towards growth and change, were significant because they were aspects of the life of God. His cosmic vision was the direct outcome of spiritual experience; he told it, because he wished to stimulate in all men the spiritual life, make them realise that “Heaven and Hell are present everywhere, and it is but the turning of the will either into God’s love or into His wrath, that introduceth into them”.

While Thelemites and others might find some of this language too ‘Christian’ or ‘Godly’ to please their aesthetic sensibilities, we could posit that there is plenty of evidence of “God’s love” in Chapter One of the Egyptian Book of the Law. There is also an abundance of what Boehme would term as God’s “wrath” in the third chapter of that remarkable testimonial to the enduring power of ancient Egyptian magick. If we look for the meaning behind the metaphors, especially when that language has flowed from the hand of a mystic through the heart’s fountain of direct spiritual knowledge, we generally find that there is only one spiritual path in reality. The diversity, the apparent choices of a path to follow—including what many now prefer to imagine is their own ‘personal’ path—is the appearance of a doorway, not the entrance or the place where it may lead



There is a dramatised audio podcast version of this article here:

Thelemic Mysticism and Jacob Boehme

Notes


[1] Allan Bennett, a member of the Golden Dawn and friend and mentor of Aleister Crowley, wrote a rather beautiful Qabalistic essay on the first seven words of the bible, A Note on Genesis, which was published as part of The Equinox series of journals.

[2] For an example of humanistic psychological reductionism see The Challenge of Eternal Recurrence, Kathleen O’Dwyer, Philosophy Now Issue #93.

[3] The quotations from Jacob Boehme in this article are from The Confessions of Jacob Boehme (Kessinger Publishing Company, Montana).

[4] Aleister Crowley confused Christian mystic “grace” with the ordinary psychological meaning of this word in his sadomasochistic ritual called “Mass of the Phoenix”.

Friday, 23 June 2017

Astrum Draconis

Liber 373 Astrum Draconis was released at the solstice, 21st June 2017. The book includes our Liturgical Rite, the Mass of Hormaku with Litany and Collects. The best way to study the Liturgy and gain a complete understanding is in the context of the book, Liber 373, especially for those new to our rituals and methods. So that all brother and sister Thelemites may join us in the celebration, we published the Liturgy in full on our website at the solstice:

www.ordoastri.org/liturgy

There follows the full description of Liber 373 Astrum Draconis with Qabalistic exegesis. 

Ordo Astri Liber 373 Astrum Draconis the Way of the Dragon Star
The Tantra of the West is here fully revealed and made accessible to the practical Thelemic magician through seven rays of the Dragon Star. While the decad of the Qabalistic Tree of Life is not usually equated with the better known sevenfold chakra system, the sevenfold Way of the Dragon was always implicit. The number 373 is that of Logos, the divine word or primal utterance by which all things in existence are ordered and given life. The number 373 is also that of the Greek word ataxia, “confusion”—the confusion of many voices that make up the discordant noise of the human ego. The number 373 provides the antidote, ShKM AChD, “to be of one mind”. The mind and body must be calmed before meditation can be achieved. The Oath, which also corresponds to 373, invokes the soul as silent witness to the ritual act. “Hail! ye twin warriors about the pillars of the world! for your time is nigh at hand.” Who or what, then, are these twin warriors? They have arisen and are entwined about the axis of the universe; they manifest all phenomena. The division invoked by a magical Act of Will may arise as a dual force, symbolised on the Tree of Life by the two pillars or Moon and Sun of dreaming and waking consciousness. Liber 373 is suitable for the Thelemic aspirant of the grade of Philosophus, or anyone that dares to know, to will and to keep silence! It is also a course in magical Initiation that includes knowledge lectures, rituals, yoga, meditation, invocation, skrying and tasks to perform.

So this book is self-contained as far as possible, an extensive Appendices is included. Here we give the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram and Comment; the Gates of Babalon Ritual and Comment; Meditation and Preparations for Meditation; the Magician as Hierogyph; Purification and Consecration; Invoking Pentagrams of the Elements and Signatures of the Spirit.

Included here is also a newly revised version of the small book concerned with the Dedication of a Sanctuary or Temple. A magical Temple does not need to be an impressive structure made from stone, or a Masonic hall with tiled floor and pillars of Solomon. Buildings and specially equipped rooms are a fine thing and can be very beautiful, but the real shrine of deity is the heart of the devotee. Altars, wands, robes and lamps assist in linking magical forces with the physical plane of existence—and so the mind and body of the Initiate—but effective magical work can nonetheless be done without any special equipment. The dedication of a Sanctuary or Temple to its deity does not therefore depend on physical structures.

View / order the book from the author's website here.

© Oliver St. John 2017

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Twilight of Creation and Bornless Spirit

E. A. Wallis Budge noted in The Gods of the Egyptians how little was known or indeed, remembered, of the swampy Ogdoad arising from the primal void even by the ancient Egyptians. However, much can be done with Budge’s literal translation and hieroglyphs when the magical tap of inspiration is turned on. In that way, we produced the ritual called the Twilight Vigil.

The Sepher Sephiroth of S. L. MacGregor Mathers that Aleister Crowley published under the cover of Liber 777 was never intended to be anything more than a beginning, a means of gaining a foothold in a vast and mysterious subject. Our Flaming Sword Sepher Sephiroth now extends to more than a thousand pages over two volumes, yet such a work is never truly finished.[1] Members of the Order must, according to tradition, keep their own book of numbers—so to continue the work. Most recently, I thought to examine the fifth verse of the first book of Genesis, which is arguably the most important Qabalistic source. I give here a transliteration of the key Hebrew words in parenthesis.

Genesis 1: 5

And the Elohim called the light [AVR] Day [IVM], and the darkness [ChShK] they called Night [LILH]. And the evening [ORB] and the morning [BQR] were the first day [IVM AChD].

“And the darkness” adds to 364, equal to Lux Occulta, the secret or hidden light. The absence of light is the condition of the numinous source of all, for light itself can only be a veil. The name Night is given as LILH, 75, equal to Nuit (NVIT). LIL (70) is the root, but LILH denotes the noun, as does Lilith, which is more expressly feminine. According to E. A. Wallis Budge when commenting on the primal Ogdoad of the Delta region in his Gods of the Egyptians, Nuit was merely the consort of Nu the sky god.[2] In our Theban and Thelemic schema, Nuit embraces all, and her consort is her son and manifest star, Set-Hadit (or Sirius). Thus Nuit and Hadit are really beyond light and darkness.

Much creative license is taken with the King James and other bible versions. This makes for better poetry (in the case of the KJV) but often loses something of value and in other ways often changes the meaning or context altogether. We could of course say that was already done when the Chaldean scriptures were placed in Modern Hebrew with vowel pointing. When such scriptures were first written, the ambiguity was intentional, as is the case with ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs and Sanskrit. Each word, let alone a sentence or verse, can then be read on many different levels of meaning.

Twilight of Creation: Kerah and Kerahet Primal Ogdoad Gods of Egypti (Denderah)
Kerah and Kerahet

The ancient Egyptian source work story of creation vastly predates the Bible and is so old that the later dynastic tales of Osiris, for example, are modern by comparison. E. A. Wallis Budge noted in The Gods of the Egyptians how little was known or indeed, remembered, of the swampy Ogdoad arising from the primal void even by the ancient Egyptians:

“The very gods of the older company had been superseded, and their worship abolished, and the knowledge of their history and attributes was preserved only in the minds of priests and religious experts, who probably regarded the ancient views about these gods which had come down to them as the product of men belonging to a lower stage of civilization than their own.”

The last statement of Budge’s is open to question since the ancient Egyptians had no concept of ‘progress’ to match that of our industrialised civilisation (so-called). However, much can be done with Budge’s literal translations and faithfully copied hieroglyphs when the magical tap of inspiration is turned on. In that way, we produced the ritual called the Twilight Vigil.[3] The Lords of Keraha, cited in some of the more obscure of ancient Egyptian holy books, were said to dwell in the swampy Delta, the metaphysical equivalent of the Abyss or Da’ath.

The fragmentary surviving knowledge concerning Keraha is a precise magical and scientific treatise compared to Genesis, which then begins to look like a version scribed for very small children. The first book of Genesis (in particular) is nonetheless beautifully written. Scientist magi like John Dee would have studied Genesis more than any other book, because it tells the story of the creation of the universe. And the story was, at that time, regarded as absolutely authoritative.[4] If you were a scholar, knowing your Bible well in more than one language was sometimes necessary for survival. One can only begin to imagine where one such as Dee might have taken things if he had access to the translations of Budge![5]

The Lords of Keraha or primal Neters emerging from Nu and Nuit are depicted as frog-headed (male) and snake-headed (female); sometimes they appear as cats. The important thing is that they are pairs, male and female dualities emerging from the undifferentiated Nun or Abyss. Kekui raises up the light and the day through the power of command, he is the exorcist (Hadit). Kekuit raises up the darkness and the night through the power of absorption, covering and enclosure (Nuit). Yet even Kekui and Kekuit are not the first pair of aeons emerging from Nu and Nuit. That honour goes to Hehu and Hehut, as it is declared in our ritual called the Twilight Vigil:

“I am Kerah, ruler of the Night!
I am Kerahet, soul of the Abyss!
I am Kekui, for I call forth your names in the primordial depth!
I am Kekuit, for I raise you with my sceptre!
I am Hehu and Hehut, and I stand between the heavens and the earth!
It is I that give life to you, with my spirit!”

In Twilight Vigil we wanted to assert a return to the Bornless or primal condition rather than give yet another rendition of creation, so Hehu and Hehut are named last. This asserts that the undifferentiated chaos and night as the source of the word of light is the source of life itself. Instead of being opposed to light, as an enemy, the night is neither this nor that, and yet it is the whole span of the unfathomable mystery of life and consciousness. With all respect to the darkly luminous works of Kenneth Grant, the real (or original) Typhonian or Setian Gnosis is not “Against the Light”. It was never for or against anything. Truth is. Wisdom seeks more than ordinary knowledge. All questions of this or that spring from turbulence, and ultimately are no more than an egotistic urge towards self-assertion—which in itself gives rise to the neurosis of self-doubt.[6]

NOTES

[1] The Flaming Sword Sepher Sephiroth consists of more than one thousand pages over two volumes.

[2] See The Gods of the Egyptians, Volume I. While there are several versions of this online, it is well worth taking the trouble to purchase the excellent Dover edition of both volumes.

[3] The ritual called the Twilight Vigil is given with a commentary in our book, The Phoenix and other Stellar Rites of Initiation.

[4] The Darwin-based theory of Evolution and the many projections and assumptions that go with that is our modern day secular version of religious dogma. Anyone daring to challenge its supreme canonical authority will be held to ridicule if not mocked. Science dogma also includes the ‘holy of holies’ that the human species is the most intelligent on this planet (if not in the universe) and that its needs supersede the needs of all other creatures. Curiously, the anthropocentric view of creation originated in the West with the biblical books of Genesis!

[5] Budge is no longer in favour with some Egyptologists nowadays, and his rather literal translations and commentaries have been subjected to heavy criticism. However, the literal translations avoid the projections of modern cultural bias, something that Budge would have been well aware of and that modern day scholars would do well to learn from. Furthermore, the literal translation, when viewed alongside the hieroglyphics, provides by far the best resource for the practical Hermetic magician. E. A. Wallis Budge is thought by some to have been a member of an active Golden Dawn Temple in London (see Ithell Colquhoun, Sword of Wisdom). This would no doubt serve to further displease Budge’s Egyptological critics.

[6] For the Adept of the magical arts there is condition of mind that might be termed as ‘hyper turbulence’. Christian mystic Jacob Boehme created the word turba to describe this state of affairs. Turba is far more than ordinary anxiety as understood in the conventional and psychological sense.

© Oliver St. John 2017

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Nu Golden Dawn: Night Magick vs Light Magick

The post-truth age is a chilling but unavoidable truth.[1] At least, it is a truth so long as we can no longer discern the true from the false, good from evil. While truth cannot be absolutely true, true discernment is made in the heart and not the reasoning mind alone. This is the seat of what is called the True Will or Thelema.

Deconstructionism was used as a method in the arts long before it was recognised as driving political debate (so-called). Kenneth Grant—perhaps first of the post-modern occultists—laid a trail so littered with ‘blinds’ that even the most perceptive individuals have difficulty deciphering the way. Yet when he neared the end of his time—and foresaw the end of ours—he was unequivocal so far as stating that Initiates should prepare for the incoming wave of Qliphoth. To explain this in the terms coined by Grant: rends in the subtle fabric that once protected the planet are now admitting overwhelming incursions from Outside. The uninitiated have no defence against the resultant atavistic resurgence and succumb to obsession in their legions. Grant’s instructions for the needful preparations are nonetheless scattered about the Typhonian Trilogies in a way that makes them difficult to find and identify.[2]

The Phoenix and other Stellar Rites: Golden Dawn Altar or Material Basis

It is our stated aim to redefine the operation of the Magick of Light for the New Aeon. The term, “Magick of Light”, owes to the Golden Dawn tradition established by Samuel Liddell MacGregor and Moïna Mathers, Wyn Westcott, William Woodman, Florence Farr and company. The deconstruction of that legacy was carefully prepared and set in motion by Aleister Crowley and George Cecil Jones. It could be said that half a century later Kenneth Grant finished off completely the job they started. Or did he simply weave a seductively alluring tapestry, a fantastic veil to hide the real secret of the Golden Dawn from the profane—thus doing the bidding of the Secret Chiefs in a way more subtle than the darkly devious devices of his own imagining?

It was Kenneth Grant that cleverly noticed the Golden Dawn expression of the reification of the Magick of Light as spelling “The Great L.I.E.” (Light in Extension). This is an Eastern and indeed dualistic philosophical view to take, though in reality not much different from that of Aleister Crowley who increasingly resorted to the Yi-King over the Tarot (which he was never good at by his own admission) and the Taoist way over that of the Hermetic. Crowley littered his work with paradoxical assertions and negations, as did Kenneth Grant, albeit in a very different style.

The dualistic denial of matter and proclamation of spiritual supremacy is nothing new; it was included in the knowledge of the syncretic Golden Dawn tradition. The use of the Chaldean Oracles, attributed to the Persian sage Zoroaster, provides a fine example. The Upanishads are full of it. Strangely enough, everyone seems to be more or less in agreement that the way of the West differs from that of the East in so far as matter is not to be denied but transformed. The extraordinarily lurid works of Kenneth Grant are as syncretic as those of any Golden Dawn. After all, he was not urging us to become Hindus or Buddhists. The “Typhonian tradition” is usually taken to refer not to an ancient Egyptian pre-dynastic cult but to the legacy of Kenneth Grant’s writings. The said writing embraces all manner of expressions, from an inverted view of the Golden Dawn, Grant’s extended use of Gematria, which he called “Creative Qabalah”, and on to Zen, Taoism, witchcraft, voodoo, demonology and even ufology.

The redoubtable Scientific Illuminism of Aleister Crowley is austere in comparison with the amorphous Nightside of Grant, but it continued the Golden Dawn tradition—after a fashion at least—in the declared aim of universalism. The universalism of the syncretic Golden Dawn was established at least a decade before a young Aleister Crowley was introduced to the household.

It is perhaps unfortunate that Crowley and other first wave Golden Dawn dissidents discarded elements of the tradition that were valuable and magically vital. For example, the early Golden Dawn temples had equal rights and privileges for women that meant far more than paying mere lip service to a lofty ideal. When Mathers moved base from London to Paris he appointed Florence Farr as head. The respect afforded the women of the Golden Dawn is less surprising when we consider that the primary magical contact behind MacGregor and Moïna Mathers was the Egyptian goddess Isis. The first Golden Dawn temple in London was therefore named Isis-Urania. Crowley, on the other hand, revered women only when poeticising, and was otherwise consistent in asserting male supremacy in all things—an attitude that has continued in his legacy even to the present times.[3]

Nu Golden Dawn

While Grant proposed a way (if you can see it) that is essentially Against the Light, he nonetheless insisted, in his earlier writings at least, that one must attain the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel before bravely immersing oneself in the demon worlds of the Qliphoth.[4] And here is a strange thing to relate in view of the polemic against luminosity: the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel is a Hermetic and Theurgic magical operation. The irony of Kenneth Grant’s Tunnels of Set is that they lead nowhere; the longer one stays in the cloying labyrinth the further one is from the fragrance of the mystic rose. The Holy Guardian Angel, a divine messenger that conveys direct mystical experience to the soul, is very much part of the Rosicrucian scheme of things. That means working the grades of the Golden Dawn as far as Tiphereth, the central solar radiance of the whole Tree of Life. At the foot of the Tree, coiled about the Kingdom of Malkuth, Thanatos and Eros weave the Ring-Pass-Not that mockingly bars all ways to the canopied couch of Logos and Agape.

The Phoenix and other Stellar Rites of Initiation is due for release this Easter tide. Details about the book are posted on the Ordo Astri website and at Tantrika Books. There is also a discursive commentary on this in our upcoming Temple of Babalon podcast, Episode 17.


Notes

[1] Post-truth is where personal opinion and agenda is made to obscure or simply deny obvious facts. It is usually descriptive of faux political debate, but has wide application.

[2] Kenneth Grant refers to a certain “Sign of Protection”. This is described in The Ninth Arch, Appendices I (Starfire Publishing).

[3] One only has to read Aleister Crowley’s The Law is for All to understand where he stood regarding the place of women. Ref: The Law is For All, by Aleister Crowley, New Falcon Publications 1991; pp. 305–12 and 315–6.

[4] Against the Light: A Nightside Narrative is the title of a book by Kenneth Grant (Starfire Publishing, 2016).

 © Oliver St. John 2017

Friday, 17 February 2017

Nuit-Babalon Gnosis: Thunder Perfect Mind

The Creatrix has a primal role in the ancient mysteries—namely, the pre-religious mysteries, which are inclusive of the sacred feminine. Babalon is the daughter of Nuit, and the Scarlet Woman her soul. The fragments of Gnostic scriptures that survived the book burners more than two millennia ago are heavily tainted with what was then the growing suppression of women and all magical practices. Scriptures such as the Trimorphic Protennoia (Nag Hammadi, online) carry powerful elements of the Gnosis, but such texts were already being redacted and overwritten under the influence of fanatical all-male ascetic cults. Such cults—no less than the religions that formed out of them—can only construe the sacred in a male image, or otherwise as an abstract ‘Father’ whose ministers obediently spout nationalist and militarist propaganda. In modern times the Left-hand path—outside of the ashram—is portrayed in the language and images of a fear-phantasm created in the averse mirror of fifteen centuries of tyrannical state suppression.

Nuit-Babalon Gnosis: Whore of Babylon by William Blake
BABALON the HOLY (William Blake)

Any person that has spent time with the books of the Bible—unless they accept the convoluted thought of religious theological doctrine—will understand the need for a radiation suit when browsing, let alone embarking on a prolonged study. The ferocious condemnation of all ‘foreign’ gods and their (pagan) worshippers in the Old Testament, the horrible threats and curses against anyone (especially women) practicing magick, divination—or even dancing—roll on, foaming at the mouth, for page upon page. The emergent state monotheism of 500–600 BCE not only threw out the priestesses from the temples but also systematically took away all the rights of women, forcing them to become wholly subservient to men through laws that were to be enforced with the utmost cruelty. (The biblical book of Numbers 30, 1–16, for merely one case example, is a catalogue of hateful and incredibly damaging laws.)

The Order of the Golden Dawn, while under the leadership of Samuel Liddel MacGregor Mathers and later, Florence Farr, introduced equal rights and opportunities for women among its membership as early as the 1890s. Feminist writing since the 1970s by now forms a clearly defined—and self-defining—genre. Unfortunately this may have assisted in continuing the suppression that the writers wish to draw attention to.  The wider esoteric community has not yet woken up to the fact that we cannot take the Qabalah, and (therefore) much of ceremonial magick without making some needful adjustments. The traditional Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram (as given in Aleister Crowley’s Liber O and various Golden Dawn derived material), for example, requires the magician to invoke the biblical demiurge Tetragrammaton in the East. This is the same demiurge that, according to scripture, curses all other gods, hates women and all ‘foreigners’, and demands that worshippers of any other gods but the supreme god of the patriarchs should be “utterly destroyed”. (The latter phrase occurs as an exact match no fewer than 21 times in the King James Bible, commencing with the book of Exodus, 22: 20.) Very often in the very next verse of scripture, the “Jealous God” tetchily demands the timely submission of first-born human or (later on) animal sacrifices. Is that really what we want to invoke to protect our magical circle?

Let us consider, for example, that our magical circle is usually set up for the invocation of Egyptian and Babylonian or Mesopotamian deities. These, along with all magical arts and divination, are furiously condemned in the oracles of the monotheistic ‘God’. It is foolish to imagine that the work of Qabalists in the Western Mystery Tradition, however well intentioned, can somehow patch this over by positing that Tetragrammaton is merely an elemental formula, or that the insertion of an additional letter shin puts it all to rights by asserting a Christian theological notion of ‘redemption’ based on sin, guilt and debt (it comes as no surprise to learn that redemption or salvation developed alongside early banking systems).

The rise of asceticism, anthropocentric religions and scientism, coincided historically with the rise of patriarchal governance, suppression of women, the viewing of nature as an adversary and (as a consequence) the wholesale destruction of our natural environment. The distortion of the Sumerian creation myth where Eve, instead of being blessed, is cursed for all of time for giving Adam the fruits of knowledge to eat (Genesis 2) has been continued in modern times. Crowley’s The Law is for All contains some ill-considered and completely inexcusable examples of mystic misogyny of the worst kind. (Furthermore, do we really believe that Rose Crowley was not even present in the room in Cairo 1904 at the reception of the Egyptian Book of the Law, Liber AL vel Legis?)

Of the Gnostic scriptures, the voice of the deity that comes closest to that of our Thelemic Shakti-Babalon, the bride of the Beast or Serpent, is quite possibly the Sethian Gnostic Thunder Perfect Mind.* While baffling to scholars who cannot work out where to place it, the enigmatic Thunder text has strong resonances with the voice of Madimi and Babalon that appeared to John Dee and Edward Kelly during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. It is also comparable to the voice of Nuit in chapter one of Liber AL vel Legis, the Babalon of the Jack Parsons workings, and the Babalon or Sophia-Barbelo that has appeared to Thelemic devotees in more recent times. It is my view that The Thunder Perfect Mind was received in oracular fashion, and that some of it may have been delivered in response to questions asked by those assembled to hear it. More than one scribe may have recorded the oracle, accounting for some overlapping in the source text, as though different versions were superimposed.

To celebrate the Gnosis, I thought to present here an initiated transcription and magical restoration of the sacred text of Thunder Perfect Mind. It is in every way suitable for use as a magical invocation.

The Thunder Perfect Mind or Babalon the Holy

I was sent forth from Mystery,
And I will come to them that reflect upon me,
For those that seek me, shall find me.
Behold me, ye who reflect upon me,
And listen to me, ye that that have ears to hear!
Ye who have waited for me, take me to yourselves,
And do not banish me from your sight.
Do not say hateful things of me, do not hear them spoken.
Do not be ignorant of me anywhere or at any time.
Be vigilant! Do not forget me.

I am the First and the Last.
I am the blessed one and the forsaken one.
I am the whore and the holy one.
I am the wife and the virgin.
I am the mother and the daughter.
I am the members of my mother.
I am the barren one—and yet many are her sons.
I am she whose wedding is of great nobility,
And I have not taken a husband.
I am the bride and the bridegroom,
And it is my husband who begot me.
I am the mother of my father,
And the sister of my husband,
And yet he is my offspring,
And from him I take my power.
I am the rod of his power in his youth,
And he is the staff of my old age.
I am the Silence beyond knowing,
And the Idea of continuous recollection.
I am the Voice whose tongues are legion,
And the Word whose forms are many.
I am the Oracle, whose utterance is my name.

You who deny me, confess me,
And you who confess me, deny me.
You who tell the truth about me, lie about me,
And you who have lied about me, tell the truth about me.
You who know me, do not know me,
And those who have not known me, let them know me.
For I am knowledge and ignorance.
I am shame and I am pride.
I am shameless and I am ashamed.
I am strength and I am fear.
I am war and I am peace.
Take heed of me! For I am the one who is disgraced,
And the one who is exalted greatly.

I am [ISIS] the one whose Image is great in Egypt,
And the one who has no Image among the barbarians.
I am the one who has been hated everywhere,
And who has been loved everywhere.
I am the one whom they call Life,
And that you have called Death.
I am the one whom they call Law,
And that you have called Lawlessness.
I am the one whom you have pursued,
And I am the one whom you have seized.
I am the one whom you have scattered,
Even while ye have gathered me together.
I am the one before whom you were ashamed,
And you have been shameless unto me.

I am the one whom you have despised,
And yet you reflect upon me.
I am the one you have hidden from,
And thus do you appear to me!
And wherever you hide yourselves,
I myself will appear.
And whenever you appear,
I myself will hide from you.

You that would know me
Will yet darken my understanding,
And embrace my wisdom with sorrow.
You embrace me in places that are ugly and ruined,
And steal from those which are true, even in your falsehood.
Out of shame, take me to yourselves shamelessly.
And when you find fault in my members,
Look for that fault in yourselves.
Come forward to me, you who know me
And you who know my members,
Then you will establish the great ones
Among the smallest of creatures.

Why do you curse me and pretend to honour me?
When you were wounded, I gave you mercy.
Do not separate me from those who once knew you.
And do not cast anyone out, nor turn anyone away.
I am the Mind of Thunderous Perfection.
I am the answer to my own question,
And the knowledge of those who seek after me,
And the will of those who ask of me.
I am the power of the powers in my knowledge
Of the angels, who have been sent at my word,
And of gods in their seasons by my counsel,
And of the spirits of every man who dwells with me,
And of the women who dwell within me.
I am the one who is blessed, and who is praised,
And yet who is scornfully despised.
I am peace, and war has come because of me.
And I am an alien and a citizen.
I am the substance and the one who has no substance.

There are those who cannot know me from their ignorance,
And those who know me, that are of my very substance.
Yet those who are close to me have yet been ignorant of me,
And those who are far away from me have yet known me a little.
On the day when I am close to you,
You are far away from me,
And on the day when I am far away from you,
I am closer to you than I can ever be.

I am forever within.
I am always of the qualities.
I am forever of the principalities and the spirits.
I am always that which the soul seeks.
I am control and that which is uncontrollable.
I am unity and dissolution.
I am the one that is below,
And yet they come up to me.
I am judgement and acquittal.
I, I am sinless, and the root of sin derives from me.
I am the weak lust in the appearance of things,
And the strong will to the eternal is within me.
I am the sound that may be heard by everyone,
And the voice that is beyond reason.
I am a mute who does not speak forth,
And yet great is the multitude of my words.

I prepare the bread and my Mind is within it.
I am the knowledge of my own name.
I am the one who cries out, and who hears.
I appear and yet I walk in the shadow of invisibility.
I am the attacked and the defended.
I am the one who is called Truth,
And who is known to be iniquitous.
For what is within you is what is outside of you,
And the one who fashions you on the outside
Is the one who shaped the inside of you.
And what you see outside of you, you will see inside of you.
It is visible, and it is your garment.

Hear me, o ye that have ears to hear,
And learn of my words, ye who know me!
I am the sound that is attainable by all;
I am the voice beyond reason.
I am the name of the sound,
And the sound of the name.
I am the signature of the letter,
And the seal of the division.
And I am the darkness and the light.
And I am the voice of my listeners,
And the one who listens to you.

For I am the Great Power.
And he that sends forth to me will hear my name.
And he that delivers me shall be as one who created me.
And I will speak forth his name.
Take heed then, ye that hear me,
And ye angels also, and those who have been sent,
And ye spirits who have arisen from the dead.
For I am the one who alone exists,
And I have no one who will judge me.

Many are the pleasant forms that exist in
Numerous sins, and poisons,
Even in disgraceful passions, and fleeting pleasures,
Which men embrace weakly.
When they seek, and attain clarity,
And go up to their place of peace,
Then at last shall they find me.
And they shall have life,
And they will not die again.

BABALON

Related articles:
The Oracle of Babalon: Daughter of Fortitude (article)
The Oracle of Babalon: Daughter of Fortitude (podcast)

Related books by Oliver St. John:
The Flaming Sword Sepher Sephiroth

* The source texts of Thunder Perfect Mind are available online. The Nag Hammadi Library, online, has several different translations of most of the Gnostic texts.

Other books of note: The Sword of Wisdom, Ithell Colquhoun, is an account of MacGregor Mathers and the Golden Dawn that is uniquely trustworthy and fair.

© Oliver St. John 2017

Friday, 20 January 2017

Flaming Sword Sepher Sephiroth: Treatise on Gematria

The Flaming Sword Sepher Sephiroth is the result of many years of practical work and research. It gives me great pleasure to announce the release of this whole work in two volumes of over 1000 pages.

The Flaming Sword is a comprehensive and unique treatise on Gematria, revealing the pre-religious Gnosis and its relation to Thelema. In addition to the substantial Sepher Sephiroth (“book of numbers”) there is an introductory guide to the use of the book, tables of Hebrew, Greek and Enochian values, prime numbers, and a complete set of Magical Kameas with corrected and redrawn planetary seals and sigils.

The Flaming Sword Sepher Sephiroth Treatise on Gematria

With the kind permission of Starfire Publishing, substantial quotations from Kenneth Grant’s seminal work, The Nightside of Eden, are included. The information on the paths of the sword and serpent of the Hermetic Tree is therefore comprehensive. The book also serves as a veritable grimoire for those engaged with the more specialised work of the Egyptian Book of the Law, Liber AL vel Legis. The Flaming Sword provides multiple solutions to all of the riddles of Liber AL vel Legis, as well as some of the most cryptic passages. By including words and numbers that have special application and meaning to those who work with the Thelemic, Typhonian or ‘93’ magical current, the legacy of our work is powerfully encoded so that future generations of magicians may continue its development.

The word “Qabalah” implies something passed on from mouth to ear—a whisper in the ear, to those prepared to receive it. Gematria is the association of a word or phrase with another word or phrase sharing the same numerical value. The skilful use and understanding of Gematria provides a vessel for the incarnation of spiritual ideas. With persistent practice, a number will instantly convey all of its related meanings to the trained mind; the subtlest nuances will be perceived and refreshed, again and again. An enduring plumbline is forged between the rational mind and the Deep Mind so the consciousness of the magician habitually inhabits and explores spaces that would otherwise remain inaccessible.

Greek words from the New Testament and Hermetica are included, in addition to the usual Hebrew words; the entire Enochian vocabulary of John Dee is included, as well as Latin, Sanskrit, Arabic and ancient Egyptian.

Format: 6×9 high quality paperback, in two volumes
Volume One: 684 pages
Volume Two: 584 pages

Related articles: The Word Thelema 

Friday, 23 December 2016

Towards a New Golden Dawn

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

The Sun enters Capricorn at the darkest, or brightest time of the year, depending on whether you are situated north or south of the equator. The letter of the 26th path of Capricorn is Ayin, the eye. There is nothing more seductive and convincing to the intellect than the appearance of things—how things look. How things look is not determined by how things really are, but by the condition of the soul or beholder. The antidote to the fearsome apparitions of the Devil of the 26th path was thoughtfully provided by Lewis Carroll in The Adventures of Alice in Wonderland: “You’re nothing but a pack of cards!” This breaks the spell, and Alice wakes up from the dream.

At Aunnu (Heliopolis), Set was understood to be the child of Nuit the sky and Geb the earth. This is a retelling of a far more ancient myth where Set is the only begotten son of Nuit. As her star or manifesting power, Set had no father, as he was also the consort of Nuit. In the Theban cult of Ankh af-na-khonsu, this is continued in the dual cosmic depiction of Nuit and Set-Hadit on the Stele of Revealing. On the same stele, Horus and Set are combined in the form of the enthroned God Mentu, before which the priest and scribe stands, offering himself as a perfected word (makheru or Hormaku). All Egyptian gods are polymorphic.

He who looks both ways: Heru-Set
Heru-Set
The gold relief offsetting a leaden background in this combined image of the brothers Horus and Set rescued from the ruins of ancient Aunnu is suggestive of an early epithet of Set before he was demonised, the “Black and Gold One” (Sut-Nubti). Heru-Set was known to the Egyptians as “He who looks both ways”. Qabalists might note that the Mystic Number of the 26th path of Capricorn is 351, while the Mystic Number of the 17th path of Gemini is 153. Whichever way we look, we are seeing either a devil or a double—and the two nouns have identical meaning. The sword of discrimination (Zain) is needed to negotiate the persuasive phantoms that appear to the eye (Ayin) that has not yet been made single through long practice of yoga. When the letters of the two paths are combined, OZ spells the name of a goat, as well as that of a goatish wizard.

The Phoenix Initiation

There is a ritual called the Phoenix, which is based on the Golden Dawn Neophyte “Z” Initiation.(1) The Phoenix is the bridge between the Outer World of Darkness and the Illuminated Souls or inner plane Adepti. Many persons quit the path through a misapprehension of what Initiation entails. They hope, perhaps, to work ritual for a few weeks and see at once the glimmering of new light in their world, the beginning of a transfiguration that will raise them aloft to Apollonian heights while at the same time satisfying every Dionysian wish and desire. In fact, anyone who has studied the Neophyte ceremony of the Golden Dawn will know that the first thing the Candidate hears on entering the place is, “Inheritor of a dying world, prepare to enter the path of darkness!” The role of Horus in the West is here the dread Lord of the Averse Pathways, whose name is Darkness. In the East is Isis or Thoum-Aest (one of three forms of Maat in the original ceremony). She is “Light dawning in Darkness”. The Holy Guardian Angel thus takes on a light and a dark aspect here, which is mediated in the ritual by the invisible but vast presence of Thoth, the word or Logos.

Towards a New Golden Dawn

We seem to have entered dark times, in terms of the collective consciousness as well as actual global events. If that is in any way true, then it seems apt to be revisiting some of the core teachings and practices in our tradition. The Golden Dawn symbolism of the red cross that brings down the white triangle of the supernal sephiroth to the relative darkness of the lower sephiroth, via the harmonious radiance of Tiphereth, is as relevant now as it ever was. The fact we have now seen a hundred years of general intellectual acceptance of Freud’s theories on the nature of Theos does nothing to change reality (or Theos), it only changes how men and women are disposed to see things. Likewise, neither Carl Jung not Aleister Crowley could discern a difference between two Greek words that have very different meanings: Eros and Agape. Love herself has not been offended, neither has Wisdom blushed. No God forbids. It is the human soul that will pick up the tab on the day of be-with-us. Though the name Eve means “to fall or stumble”, it is Adam (viz., human ego) that casts his soul into the Abyss—or realises her as his only chance for the Kingdom.

Aleister Crowley chose to put a Freudian interpretation on the operation of the Hermetic Light. Ithell Colquhoun, in an article written in 1955, suggested that Crowley typified the ‘Dying God’ or ‘Aeon of Osiris’ that was the very thing he claimed to be standing against.(2) The Occult Science has certainly been crushed beneath the juggernaut wheels of the Freudian view of Occult Science for far to long. Psychological reductionism is one thing, the atavisms of a crowned and conquering all-male Logos Spermatikos are quite another. If we could but remember what Alice said, and dispel in an instant the latest pack of jokers. If we could but remember that the abode of the Signum Symbol is the heart—and that the real occult secrets are only secret because they cannot be put into words. The other kind of secrets are ones we can all do well without; they are in fact a recipe for the very neuroses that Freud went to such lengths to examine.

Undoubtedly, there is a Great Work to be done before we may all see the light born into the darkness of the world!

Love is the law, love under will.

Notes

1. The Phoenix is also known to Initiates as Liber CMXXX. Our book for the Probationer 0=0 is The Enterer of the Threshold.

2. Ithell Colquhoun’s article about Aleister Crowley, Heaven and Earth—The Dying-Kick of the Dying-God, appeared originally in the London Broadsheet, No. 4, April 1955. 

© Oliver St. John 2016

Related articles: Neophyte Initiation: Enterer of the Threshold