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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.

Friday, 22 January 2016

Prophecy of Liber AL Fulfilled

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

On the night of the 22nd December 2015 e.v., the Capricorn Solstice, Boleskine House, Aleister Crowley’s “holy place”, burnt to the ground, thus fulfilling the prophecy encrypted in the third chapter of the Egyptian Book of the Law, Liber AL vel Legis, III: 34:
But your holy place shall be untouched throughout the centuries: though with fire and sword it be burnt down & shattered, yet an invisible house there standeth, and shall stand until the fall of the Great Equinox; when Hrumachis shall arise and the double-wanded one assume my throne and place.
Prophecy: Thoth Tarot Atu The Aeon XX

This event followed swift on the heels of another event that took place in Thebes, Egypt, in November of the same year. The prophet—or rather, one of the prophets—named Ankh f-n-khonsu was discovered in a hidden crypt. We know from this that Ankh f-n-khonsu of the Stele of Revealing, the discovery of which activated the Thelemic transmission of the Egyptian Book of the Law, was an Initiate of a priestly cult of Theban scribes that had existed for centuries at least before the 26th Dynasty. Khonsu was a form of Horus as the Moon god, the “Rider of the Sky”. The Theban cult revered Khonsu as a type of the Holy Guardian Angel, the soul that has united with the Angel and so whose words are truth, who is able to stand before Horus as the Lord of the Last Judgement on the day of be-with-us and say, while looking straight in his fearful hawk’s eye:
I am the Lord of Thebes, and I
The inspired forth-speaker of Mentu;
For me unveils the veilèd sky,
The self-slain Ankh-af-na-khonsu
Whose words are truth.
As Horus manifests on the throne of Ra, the prophet is then consumed by his light:
The light is mine, its rays consume me, for I have a made a secret door into the house of Ra, Tum, Khephra and Ahathoor. I am thy Theban, o Mentu, the prophet Ankh f-n-khonsu.
In Quantum Yoga or Reification of Starlight, which is given in full in our new book, The Law of Thelema—Quantum Yoga, we explained that the “secret door” is a fourfold mystery of the chakras outside the body. These power zones are a way to achieving Hadit, and knowing the joys of Nuit forever. They can be understood as a key to the Door of Daleth, the Intelligence of the 14th path that epitomises the sevenfold Ankh of Thelema: Love is the law, love under will.

Since The Ending of the Words was first published in 2007—five years after its writing at the turn of the century—we have maintained a strict discipline of interpreting the Egyptian Book of the Law as a mystical and magical treatise—which indeed it is. The nature of prophecy is such that a true oracle can never be understood completely until it comes to pass. It is the same with divination. Prophecy and divination are commonly misunderstood and mixed up with mere prediction. A weather forecast is a prediction, based on knowledge, facts, a bit of guesswork and perhaps a little intuition. A prophecy is in a different class altogether. As with divination, it is a “divine utterance”. As such, if it concerns future events, it cannot be known fully until after the event. Now that the prophecy contained in the third chapter of Liber AL vel Legis has come to pass, exactly as written in the book, we can at last work out what this might mean both for the Initiate and for the world at large.

Let us put these two things together, the life of the Initiate and the world that he or she lives in by ordinary day to day or conventional terms. The Initiate of Thelema must be Ankh f-n-khonsu, Horus made Maat, justified, a true-speaker and a prophet—in life, and upon death. The Stele of Revealing and its song is a way-in through the doorway that leads to the eternal life of Nuit and Hadit. According to the prophetic elements of the third chapter of the Book of the Law, the burning down of Boleskine, the “holy place” revered by Crowley, the scribe of the book, signifies the arising of the star called Hrumachis or Hormaku. In terms of Initiation, this marks the splitting apart of the shell or shadow-self, called Khaibet by the ancient Egyptians. This is a great test or ordeal for every magician, since the dual principles, Set and Horus, are released and seek to arise in the column: “Division hither homeward”.

A report in Science magazine on the 8th January 2016 declared that the earth has entered a new era—termed in an earlier study as the Anthropocen—which is the most significant global event since the ice age. In The Law of Thelema, we posited that our current era began, as according to the ancient Egyptians, around 12,000 years ago, when the ice began to recede and new life forms emerged. This corresponds to the astrological Age of Leo. We are now on the Descendant or “fall” of that clock of the Great Aeon. The prophecy of the Book of the Law and the scientific study are in exact agreement.

Since two centuries ago man wished to speed things up—travel, industry, commerce, warfare. He achieved this by plundering the earth for carbon resources, especially in the form of oil—the blood of ancient rain forests that nourishes our body the earth. A great acceleration took place, an acceleration marked by catastrophic warfare and industrial pollution. Man therefore has lived on borrowed time. Nature is now accelerating the process of recovering what has been stolen through inexorable climate change, and other changes to the geosphere.

On earth, in human life, the first manifestation of a new star rising is polarisation and conflict. The world has existed in a state of unceasing war since the splitting of the atom. This war takes place on every front, in terms of military invasion or so-called “defence strategies”, and in terms of the propoganda war of lies and misinformation spooned out to the masses through multiple media platforms. Contrary to how it appears in the media and as according to government agencies, we in the Western world, are not at war with terrorists or terrorism. Rather, mankind is at war with itself.

There is a certain line that has existed within mainstream Thelema, cued by some of Aleister Crowley’s more excitable remarks, mostly written down by him when he was a young man, fuelled by the same energy of conquest that drove the industrial expansion of the twentieth century. Crowley adopted a wiser, less bombastic tone by the end of his life, after living in London through the bombing of the blitz and no doubt suffering the revelation of the full horrors of that war. In the early days, Crowley saw Thelema as a new type of consciousness that would, with the help of a few skilled occultists, eventually become the ‘norm’ for the whole human race. The Law of Thelema would become the dominant mode of consciousness in what he called the Aeon of Horus. We know now that Horus is the lord of every Aeon, for to the Thebans, Horus was the Initiator of the soul or Scarlet Woman. Thelema is the summation of an Initiated tradition among the ancient Egyptians. For what reason we cannot know, but through the breaking open of the seal of the Stele of Revealing in 1904 e.v., this tradition was opened up for those that have the strength to overcome the prevailing trend of materialism in this new dark age and become truth-speakers, self-slain and risen masters.

It is no more likely that mankind will collectively adopt the Law of Thelema and—therefore—the Way of the Initiate, than that people will give up international and intercity travel, driving about in oil-guzzling motor cars, playing with technological toys and acquiring wealth and property at the expense of all else. The “missionary” interpretation of “establishing the Aeon of the Crowned and Conquering Child of the Gods” was always a blind, a snare for the unwary. By imagining that Thelema is a law of human liberty that will supercede political and religious control of the masses, the war continues as a shadow projection, outside and beyond the self. Power, instead of being given to the Scarlet Woman or soul, bleeds away along with the earth’s resources.

Let us examine the relevant verses in the Egyptian Book of the Law more closely, five of them from the third chapter:
III: 10 Get the stele of revealing itself; set it in thy secret temple—and that temple is already aright disposed—and it shall be your Kiblah for ever. It shall not fade, but miraculous colour shall come back to it day after day. Close it in locked glass for a proof to the world.

III: 11 This shall be your only proof. I forbid argument. Conquer! That is enough. I will make easy to you the abstruction from the ill-ordered house in the Victorious City. Thou shalt thyself convey it with worship, o prophet, though thou likest it not...

III: 19 That stele they shall call the Abomination of Desolation; count well its name, and it shall be to you as 718.

III: 21 Set up my image in the East: thou shalt buy thee an image which I will show thee, especial, not unlike the one thou knowest. And it shall be suddenly easy for thee to do this.
III: 34 But your holy place shall be untouched throughout the centuries: though with fire and sword it be burnt down and shattered, yet an invisible house there standeth, and shall stand until the fall of the Great Equinox; when Hrumachis shall arise and the double-wanded one assume my throne and place. Another prophet shall arise, and bring fresh fever from the skies; another woman shall awake the lust and worship of the Snake; another soul of God and beast shall mingle in the globèd priest; another sacrifice shall stain the tomb; another king shall reign; and blessing no longer be poured To the Hawk-headed mystical Lord!
The word “abstruction” was not liked by Crowley; he very much wanted to change it, and that is why the text of III: 11 goes on, “though thou likest it not”. In the handwritten manuscript it is clear that either Aleister or Rose Crowley put four short lines under the word, to indicate the query. For some reason, whereas Aleister Crowley persuaded Rose to change “unfragmentary” in the first chapter for the conventional and less poetic term, “omnipresence”, he decided to obey the instruction this time and left “abstruction” exactly as it was, even though the word does not exist in any dictionary. We know that Crowley wrestled with the instruction, and toyed with its literal interpretation—that it might mean he should somehow take the original Stele out of the Cairo museum, take it back to England and install it in Boleskine. It was not in Crowley’s nature to do any kind of criminal act, so he never took it beyond conjecture and contented himself with the replica of the Stele he had made during the Cairo working.

The barbarous word “abstruction” conveys a good deal. It literally means, “Take out from a building”. The poetic term used, “abstraction”, lends this a sense of taking the idea or essence completely out of the form, dispensing with the form altogether. And there we have the keys to the spiritual meaning of some of the most obscure verses in Liber AL vel Legis.

When writing The Ending of the Words, we always considered those verses in the third chapter to refer to the shrine of the heart, the true inner sanctum and seat of all magick. That the Stele or Star of Revealing must be carried there, known, remembered, affirmed and reaffirmed, as in the way of Egyptian magick. At the time we did not know that all the Initiates of the Theban cult of Thelema were called “Ankh-f-n-khonsu”, and neither did we think we might live to see Boleskine House literally burnt down by “fire and sword” (which does suggest that some lunatic might have started the fire on purpose). When you put together the two things, our interpretation plus the literal facts, and consider that the verses are actually referring to both, the picture becomes complete, as though the last bit of jig-saw was in place.

The “fall of the Great Equinox”, according to our book, The Law of Thelema, is the present time. We can construe the following:

a) The Intelligences behind the Book of the Law wish us to pay attention to the fact that the fall of the Great Equinox and Aeon of Hrumachis is truly here and now, an actual event in time that coincides with certain inner plane activities that were foreseen aeons ago.

b) The true image (or “phallus”) of the Stele, which is the repository of the sum total of the knowledge of Thelema—that of the Theban cult, not that which was invented by Aleister Crowley or Kenneth Grant or anyone else—is now released from its confines in matter. This means that it has become available to any Initiate that is able to make genuine contact with the inner planes—which is what magick always was and should be all about.

As Kenneth Grant said, regarding the expected turning of the Aeons, it has “great import for Initiates”. It will not mean a matchstick to anyone else, including the unfortunate person that presumably put a match to Boleskine on the Capricorn solstice. So we need not concern ourselves overly much with details like that. This much is of concern, for it is the praxis by which we may enter the encrypted door of the Stele:
I am the Lord of Thebes, and I
The inspired forth-speaker of Mentu;
For me unveils the veilèd sky,
The self-slain Ankh-af-na-khonsu
Whose words are truth. I invoke, I greet
Thy presence, O Ra-Hoor-Khuit!

Unity uttermost showed!
I adore the might of Thy breath,
Supreme and terrible God,
Who makest the gods and death
To tremble before Thee: —
I, I adore thee!

Appear on the throne of Ra!
Open the ways of the Khu!
Lighten the ways of the Ka!
The ways of the Khabs run through
To stir me or still me!
Aum! let it fill me!

The light is mine; its rays consume
Me: I have made a secret door
Into the House of Ra and Tum,
Of Khephra and of Ahathoor.
I am thy Theban, O Mentu,
The prophet Ankh-af-na-khonsu!

By Bes-na-Maut my breast I beat;
By wise Ta-Nech I weave my spell.
Show thy star-splendour, O Nuit!
Bid me within thine House to dwell,
O wingèd snake of light Hadit!
Abide with me, Ra Hoor Khuit. 
 Love is the law, love under will.

All quotations are from the Egyptian Book of the Law, Liber AL vel Legis


Friday, 8 January 2016

The Law of Thelema – Quantum Yoga

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
We are magicians, not Advaitan; we are alchemists, here to turn dross into gold. What better fulcrum than the atomic analogy can we use to lift souls out of the conceptual, atomic world itself?

The Law of Thelema—Quantum Yoga

To be released 22nd January 2016 e.v.


Ordo Astri Books: The Law of Thelema – Quantum Yoga
This forthcoming  book publication is an ‘unofficial’ commentary on Liber AL vel Legis, the Egyptian Book of the Law. We do not appeal to the “writings of the Beast” for interpretation of the Law of Thelema. Instead, we turn to the source of the transmission and examine Thelema in the light of the Hermetic tradition from which it emerged. The book, first published as The Ending of the Words—Magical Philosophy of Aleister Crowley (2007 e.v.), is in every way a received work, and needs to be treated as such by the reader. Fourteen years have passed since we completed the book’s first draft, and it is now time to disclose the Quantum Yoga treatise, or “Reification of Starlight”, that was not included in The Ending of the Words. This work was tempered by correspondence with Kenneth Grant, who inspired the experimental magical operations that led to the book's conception. The section entitled, Quantum Yoga, resulted from Grant’s suggestion that a commentary be written on his Liber 29 or Book of the Spider. With The Law of Thelema, we can now present “the secret teachings of the Typhonian Tradition, heretofore never revealed”. The text to The Ending of the Words has been updated to include the events of 2015 e.v. that fulfilled the prophecy encrypted in the third chapter of the Egyptian Book of the Law, Liber AL vel Legis.

View book on publisher's website.

Law of Thelema and the Atom

Using the atom as an analogy is an expedient means—a finger pointing at the moon. Everything in the book ultimately refers to Mind. The atom represents the root of mind formally manifesting the illusion of space-time. A Thelemic atom is an atom of consciousness, the smallest ‘unit’ thereof. Observing the atomic structure of matter is therefore a magical doorway, a mirror reflecting the secrets of the mind. The Adept of Thelema simply has to look at the atom’s structure and shed its material shell to understand himself—to understand his mind. The atomic body is thereby understood and realised as non-atomic—a realisation that the Egyptian Book of the Law calls the “Reward of Ra-Hoor Khut”:
Abrahadabra; the reward of Ra Hoor Khut.

Liber AL vel Legis, III: 1
The reader is left to play and ponder on the analogy. The Law of Thelema is one body of work; although we may be inclined to like or dislike various parts of it, it is a received totality that cannot be cut through or dismembered. Over time our understanding changes, and perhaps we develop better means for expressing the knowledge that has been passed on to us for the benefit of others. This is a natural occurrence.

The book emphasises the polymorphic, time-bound nature of form. Today, in our world system, atomic theory is a global collective delusion of the highest qliphothic order. Hence, it is a tantrik and magical means of the highest order also. We are magicians, not Advaitan; we are alchemists, here to turn dross into gold. What better fulcrum than the atomic analogy can we use to lift souls out of the conceptual, atomic world itself? Like cures like. The atomic analogy can help souls see through the atom and take the leap from matter to Mind by understanding clearly the Hermetic axiom, As Above, So Below. Void is everywhere, nothing but Mind—but Mind is spontaneously present as Form. Thus there is no seeking, everything is already there. The fact that ultimately nothing at all has any reality has sufficiently been established by countless schools. And yet, there is Magick and there is Love and there is Will! Yes, all things are empty, void, mere mental shells; but the Void creates. All it takes to emerge from the Great Darkness is to truly see that the shells are in themselves Words of Truth. That, no doubt, is very hard for reason to accept. Reason happily swaps one concept for another; reason will pretend to have passed beyond the concept of causality, while clinging to nihilism!

In conclusion, let us be sure that the meaning of our book is clear and unambiguous. The atom we speak of is non-objective—wholly beyond dualities such as existence and non-existence, delusion and enlightenment.

Oliver St. John, 2016

Saturday, 2 January 2016

Aleister Crowley Legacy – Boleskine Tribute

But your holy place shall be untouched throughout the centuries: though with fire and sword it be burnt down and shattered, yet an invisible house there standeth, and shall stand until the fall of the Great Equinox.

The Egyptian Book of the Law, Liber AL vel Legis, III: 34

When it comes to determining the nature of reality, science is hard pressed to come up with anything useful at all. Science, as with any theology, soon becomes superstition. There is a common belief, for example, that the universe all began with a gigantic explosion called the ‘big bang’. This cosmic explosion was preceded by, well, nothing as it turns out. Nothing at all. Otherwise it would not be the beginning, would it? And then we would be plunged once more into the horrors of philosophical speculation. That would be unscientific, so most persons are content to believe in a big bang—big enough and violent enough to persuade even the most intransigent non-believer of its truth.

I can imagine dozens of scientists standing up on their chairs at this point and protesting that science is a system of thought, not a system of belief, and that I have got it all wrong. However, there is one little fly in the soothing ointment of science that keeps buzzing away. It all rests on causation: that one thing causes another thing in an endless chain of consequences. This will always lead us back precisely to that mythological big bang, as improbable an explanation of the universe as there ever was.

It is also considered to be ‘scientific’ that there are things in the universe called black holes. Nothing is known about what goes on inside them, but we can be fairly certain that causation cannot take place, for there is nothing to cause anything else to happen. The scientist smiles reassuringly, and says to the child, “There are many things in the universe that we do not understand, but one day we will.” In the meantime, we are also told that the universe is stuffed full to the brim with black holes. I tend to agree with this last point.

So much for determining reality. When it comes to determining the nature of a human being, other human beings turn out to be very unreliable witnesses. Perhaps it is vanity on our part, who can tell? Jesus was a human being, or at least that is the belief of those who claim to follow him in the “Way, the Truth and the Life”. One of the biggest attractions of Christian theology has always been that believers will not themselves have to stand in the witness box and face the prosecution, and will be let off the hook when it comes to the great Judgement on the day-of-be-with-us. Eternal smugness seems to have been the reward. The one thing absolutely central to the doctrine is that Jesus was a human being (and is now the Holy Spirit). And yet he is also said to have been born without conception like an Egyptian god, that he raised the dead from their graves, performed miracles of healing, turned water into wine, and on special occasions flew through the air. This does not sound much like any human being that you or I have encountered, and yet we are asked to believe it as literal fact. It turns out that human beings are such unreliable witnesses that they cannot even agree what a human being is. How much more unreliable when it comes to judging character?

Aleister Crowley
Aleister Crowley the Magician: Star and Snake Thelema Boleskine Tribute

Let us take the case of one Aleister Crowley (1875–1947). On 23rd December 2015, a news report informed us that Boleskine House on the shores of Loch Ness had burnt to the ground. Boleskine House was a beautiful and historic building, but it would never have been known beyond the shores of Loch Ness if Aleister Crowley had not purchased the house and lived in it. He only lived in it on and off for a few years, but such is the reputation of Aleister Crowley that the house was purchased in more recent times by a famous rock guitarist. The news item, in typical contemporary style, had many photographs of the place burning down but was very thin on the ground with factual information. I read that the house was at one time owned by a certain Aleister Crowley, described as an occultist who wrote anti-British propaganda during the First World War. The Great British Public wants to trust the BBC—“needs” to trust might be a better term—and yet this shoddy reporting conforms to the same standard of lies, inaccuracies and snide innuendo that characterises practically every word ever written about Aleister Crowley by newspaper journalists in the last century or more. In the world of newspaper journalism and modern day media, fact and fiction are not separate things. Not if it sells stuff to people. If they will swallow it, it must be good copy; don’t question commerce! (We must not forget the theology of money, which has now become far more persuasive than that of science or religion.) The press has always been consistent on one point, though. Those who do not like the press, and that make this known, are never forgotten by the press. The punishment will be unending. Thus the Telegraph gleefully proclaimed:

“Former home of ‘most evil man in Britain’ burns down”.

The report goes on to describe Aleister Crowley as a “black witch” but later refines this by quoting from historic press reports, as if the newspaper headlines of yesteryear might somehow add a seal of authenticity: “He was a self proclaimed magician and the press of the day reported accounts of black magic, devil worship and human sacrifice.” From this we at least learn that the “press of the day” were obviously no different than the press of today. The report later refers to “the black magician” as though this were an undisputed fact, even though it seems highly unlikely that the (anonymous) writer and the consumers of this puerile nonsense would believe in magick for one second—whether white, black, or wrapped in the iridescent hues of the peacock. The press, the press! Where we would be without them? We can trust them to be untrustworthy, we can rely on them to tell lies and fibs over and over again until it becomes fact in the dull minds of those who do not care less anyway. With feigned sincerity, they rummage through old news cuttings, the records of centuries of lies, misinformation and cynical manipulation, to find some juicy morsel of slander. Especially when the target is long dead.

As with science and religion, opinion is much divided on Aleister Crowley, the historic personage. Joe Public sleeps safe in his bed, comforted in the belief that Aleister Crowley was a scandalous fraud, traitor and all round psychopath. On the other hand, there is an evangelical wing within the modern cults of Thelema that truly believes the man, born in Leamington Spa and educated at Cambridge University, to be a prophet and demigod no less—perhaps more so—than Jesus Christ, the Lord and Saviour of us all (as according to some). There is also a large contingent of pop fans of the “Beast 666” that do not care what the man did, thought or wrote, so long as they can carry on wearing the tee-shirt and the tattoo proclaiming their branded and packaged identity as a brave anti-hero to the world.

Will the real Aleister Crowley please stand up? Well, the problem is, he died in 1947, so that is not going to happen. However, he left behind a lot of books and writing. The problem with that in today’s world of “paid by the click”, where shopping and branding have replaced intellect and idea, is that Crowley did not put all that many pictures in his books, although what there is has been greedily snapped up by ‘Internet creators’. It takes a certain degree of fluency with written English to follow Crowley’s frequently brilliant reasoning, liberally peppered with witty asides, many of which are now archaic and meaningless to anyone that has not read literature more than half a century old, or that does not have even a passing acquaintance with ‘the classics’.

Among the more accessible works of Aleister Crowley is a collection of letters, entitled Magick Without Tears. When I read of Boleskine burning down—the place that Crowley referred to as his “Kiblah”—I felt almost as though the Beast had died a second death. As a tribute then, it seems apt to quote him on something from the aforesaid book of letters. I have chosen something witty, for his sense of irony often escapes the modern reader that is busy leafing through for an image to post on Facebook or Twitter. Here is the letter, Serious Style of A. C. or the Apparent Frivolity of Some of My Remarks. To place it in context, the previous two letters, in more serious vein, explored the nature of the Self and went on examine the possibilities of a mystical being termed as the "Holy Guardian Angel". Like a professional, Crowley then takes us into the lounge for brandy, Peruvian cigars, and a sample of his wit:

Cara Soror,

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

Alas! It is unlikely that either you or I should come upon a copy of Max Beerbohm’s portrait of Mathew Arnold; but Raven Hill’s famous cartoon is history, and can be told as such without the illustration. We shall have to go into the matter, because of your very just criticism of my magical writings in general—and these letters, being colloquial, are naturally an extreme case.

Far-off indeed those sunny days when life in England was worth living; when one could travel anywhere in Europe—except Russia and Turkey, which spiritually, at least, are in Asia—or America, without a passport; when we complained that closing time was twelve-thirty a.m.; when there was little or no class bitterness, the future seemed secure, and only Nonconformists failed to enjoy the fun that bubbled up on every side.

Well, in those days there were Music-halls; I can’t hope to explain to you what they were like, but they were jolly. (I’m afraid that there’s another word beyond the scope of your universe!) At the Empire, Leicester Square, which at that time actually looked as if it had been lifted bodily from the “Continong” (a very wicked place) there was a promenade, with bars complete (drinking bars, my dear child, I blush to say) where one might hope to find “strength and beauty met together, Kindle their image like a star in a sea of glassy weather”. There one might always find London’s “soiled doves” (as they revoltingly called them in the papers) of every type: Theodora (celebrated “Christian” Empress) and Phryne, Messalina and Thais, Baudelaire’s swarthy mistress, and Nana, Moll Flanders and Fanny Hill.

But the enemies of life were on guard. They saw people enjoying themselves, (shame!) and they raked through the mildewed parchments of obsolete laws until they found some long-forgotten piece of mischief that might stop it. The withered husks of womanhood, idle, frustrated, spiteful and malignant, called up their forces, blackmailed the Church into supporting them, and began a senseless string of prosecutions.

Notable in infamy stands out the name of Mrs. Ormiston Chant. So here we had the trial of some harmless girl for “accosting”; it was a scene from this that inspired Raven Hill's admirable cartoon.

A “pale young curate” is in the witness box. “The prisoner”, he drawled “made improper proposals to me. The actual words used were: “Why do you look so sad, Bertie?”

The magistrate: “A very natural question!”

Now, fifty years later, here am I in the dock. (“How can you expect people to take your Magick seriously!” I hear from every quarter, “when you write so gleefully about it, with your tongue always in your cheek?”) My dear good sister, do be logical! Here am I who set out nigh on half a century ago to seek “The Stone of the Wise, the Summum Bonum, True Wisdom and Perfect Happiness”. I get it, and you expect me to look down a forty-inch nose and lament! I have plenty of trouble in life, and often enough I am in low enough spirits to please anybody; but turn my thoughts to Magick—the years fall off. I am again the gay, quick, careless boy to whom the world was gracious. Let this serve for an epitaph: Gray took eleven years; I, less.

Elegy Written in a Country Farmyard

By Cock-a-doodle-doo

Here lies upon this hospitable spot
A youth to flats and flatties unknown;
The Plymouth Brethren gave it to him hot;
Trinity, Cambridge, claimed him for her own.

He climbed a lot of mountains in his time
He stalked the tiger, bear and elephant.
He wrote a stack of poems, some sublime,
Some not. Tales, essays, pictures, plays my aunt!

At chess a minor master, Hoylake set
His handicap at two. Love drove him crazy.
Three thousand women used to call him pet;
In other matters—shall we call him “lazy”?

He had the gift of laughing at himself;
Most affably he walked and talked with God;
And now the silly bastard’s on the shelf,
We'll bury him beneath another sod.

In all the active moods of Nature—her activity is Worship! there is an element of rejoicing; even when she is at her wildest and most destructive. (You know Gilbert's song “When the tiger is a-lashing of his tail”?) Her sadness always goes with the implied threat of cessation—and that we know to be illusion.

There is nothing worse in religion, especially in the Wisdom-Religion, than the pedagogic-horatory accents of the owlish dogmatist, unless it be the pompous self-satisfaction of the prig. Eschew it, sister, eschew it! Even in giving orders there is a virile roar, and the commander who is best obeyed is he who rages cheerfully like an Eights Coach or a Rugger Captain. “Up Guards and at ‘em!” may not be authentic; but that is the right spirit.

The curate’s twang, the solemnity of self-importance, all manners that do not disclose the real man, are abominations, Anathema Maranatha—or any other day of the week. These painted masks are devised to conceal chicanery or emptiness. The easy-going humorous style of Vivekananda is intelligible and instructive; the platitudinous hot potatoes of Waite are neither. The dreadful thing is that this assumption of learning, of holiness, of mysterious avenging powers, somehow deceives the average student. He does not realise how well and wisely such have coined Wilde’s maxim: “To be intelligible is to be found out.”

I know that I too am at times obscure; I lament the fact. The reason is twofold: (a) my ineradicable belief that my reader knows all about the subject better than I do myself, and (at best) may like to hear it tackled from a novel angle, (b) I am carried away by the exultant exaltation of my theme: I boil over with rapture—not the crystal-clear, the cool solution that I aimed at.

On the Path of the Wise there is probably no danger more deadly, no poison more pernicious, no seduction more subtle than Spiritual Pride; it strikes, being solar, at the very heart of the Aspirant; more, it is an inflation and exacerbation of the Ego, so that its victim runs the peril of straying into a Black Lodge, and finding himself at home there. Against this risk we look to our insurance; there are two infallible: Common Sense and the Sense of Humour. When you are lying exhausted and exenterate after the attainment of Vishvarupadarshana it is all wrong to think: “Well, now I'm the holiest man in the world, of course with the exception of John M. Watkins”; better recall the words of the weary sceptical judge in A. P. Herbert’s Holy Deadlock; he makes a Mantram of it! “I put it to you—I put it to you—I put it to you—that you have got a boil on your bottom.”

To this rule there is, as usual with rules, an exception. Some states of mind are of the same structure as poetry, where the “one step from the sublime to the ridiculous” is an easy and fatal step. But even so, pedantry is as bad as ribaldry. Personally, I have tried to avoid the dilemma by the use of poetic language and form; for instance, in AHA! It is all difficult, dammed difficult; but if it must be that one’s most sacred shrine be profaned, let it be the clean assault of laughter rather than the slimy smear of sanctimoniousness!

There, or thereabouts, we must leave it. “Out of the fullness of the heart the mouth speaketh”; and I cannot sing the words of an epithalamium to the music of a dirge. Besides, what says the poet?

“Love's at its height in pure love? Nay, but after

When the song’s light dissolves gently in laughter”.

Oh! “One word more” as Browning said, and poured forth the most puerile portentous piffle about that grim blue-stocking “interesting invalid”, his spouting wife. Here it is, mercifully much shorter, and not in tripping trochees!

“Actions speak louder than words.” (I positively leak proverbs this afternoon—country air, I suppose): and where actions are the issue, devil a joke from Aleister!

Do you see what is my mark? It is you that I am going to put in the dock about “being serious”; and that will take a separate letter—part of the answer to yours received March 10th, 1944 and in general to your entire course of conduct since you came to me—now over a year ago.

Love is the law, love under will.

Fraternally yours,

666
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Related articles:

Prophecy of Liber AL Fulfilled
Law of Thelema, Quantum Yoga
The Priest-Kings of Thelema


Article © Oliver St. John, 2016
Letter © Aleister Crowley 1945