About Me

My photo
The man who writes books on a Thelema that no beast shall divine. Founding member of Ordo Astri, Thelemic Magical Collegium. Member of Ordo Typhonis since 2000 e.v. More articles and essays are posted at https://ordoastri.org/ and https://tantrika.co.uk/

Thursday, 28 February 2013

Ain Soph Aur: LVX or NOX?

Aleister Crowley defined magick as the “Science and Art of causing Change to occur in conformity with Will”.[1] However, all magical working concerns the manipulation of glamours; no result obtained by the magician has substance or reality in itself. The magician may observe the reification of will and desire as reflected in phenomena, yet Hadit is the Magician and the Exorcist. The True Will is esoteric; visible or perceived effects are exoteric. All phenomena appear spontaneously—there are no causes and no effects in reality.

LVX or NOX: Veils of Ain Soph Aur reflecting Atziluth
Advaita or Non-Dual reality is often ascribed exclusively to Eastern mysticism, as though it had no part in the Western Hermetic Tradition. And yet, the Tree of Life does not begin with Kether, the ‘One’, or Chokmah, the ‘Two’. The three negative veils that precede the Supernal triad, Ain Soph Aur, have a vital function in all practical working, whether the aim is mystical, magical or both.[2] When we begin meditation on the Tree of Life with Kether, or begin the Rituals of the Pentagram with the word ‘IAO’, aspiring upwards, there is a momentary pause. In that pause, we clear our minds of all thought and sensation, and contemplate the Ain Soph as no-thing, no object, no subject—pure emptiness and spaciousness. As soon as a word is uttered, the Tree of Life appears as reflected in the eye of the Absolute.
[This essay is part of the collection, Babalon Unveiled! Thelemic Monographs.]
The Supernal Triad of Kether, Chokmah and Binah on the Hermetic Tree mirrors the Ain Soph Aur via the magical medium of Daath, Set-Hadit of ‘Knowledge’. This may be illustrated simply through placing Daath as the zero number amidst the trinity.

Ain Soph Aur mirrored by Daath manifesting the Supernal Triad
The tetrahedronal arrangement with the Supernal Triad as basis and Daath as the invisible point or apex symbolises the holiest or most abstract conception of the Holy Guardian Angel available to the intellect. The Holy Guardian Angel may then be understood as the ‘Wise Teacher’, Basiliereus.[3]

Ain Soph Aur

The Mexican sorcery or shamanism that is described in the writings of Carlos Castaneda is none too different from the magick of the hermetic tradition.[4] The trick of following a symbol back to its source with the infinite—analogous thought as opposed to analytical thought—is vital to both traditions. With the Mexican sorcerers, there is more emphasis on the natural world, whereas the urban magician is usually inclined towards more abstract ciphers. The hieroglyphs are ‘out there’ in nature, in rocks, plants, mountains, physical places and their genius loci. However, this is no different than the magick practiced by our ancient Egyptian forebears. Every bird, animal, creature, stone, plant, building or place is a cipher of the infinite. The word ‘cipher’ itself is derived from the Arabic sifre, meaning ‘zero’, and there is a meaningful correspondence between sifre and sephira or ‘number’. In the (Egyptian) Book of the Law, Nuit says: “Every number is infinite; there is no difference.”[5] The teachings of Castaneda’s Don Juan insist that the nagual—the Mexican word for the formlessness and space that is the true nature of matter—is the only source of real power to the magician or shaman. The power is that of attention, observance. The nagual—more or less equivalent to the thread of the Ain Soph of the Qabalah—is the timeless source of all magick and sorcery.[6]  It is said that if sorcerers have enough power, then they can enter the nagual and leave it at any point in space or time. A shaman can thus disappear from one place and in an instant be transported to some other place a thousand miles away.

The Mexican shaman gains knowledge of every thing, object, creature or plant, by entering into the formless reality that is veiled by the object. Likewise, the hermetic magician follows every symbol back to its source with the infinite.

Lightning Flash

In hermetic practice we start yoga from the top (crown) and draw the power of the lightning flash down before working upward from the base. In other traditions it is more common to begin from the ground and work upward. Kether the Crown, the first emanation of the Tree of Life is comparable with the Atman of Eastern philosophy. The Egyptian god Atem or Atem Ra embodies much the same principle. However, numbers begin from zero, not one. The three veils of Ain Soph Aur are ‘No-thing’, ‘Limitless Space’, and ‘Limitless Light’. Their reflection in Kether, Chokmah and Binah is Light in Extension, the LVX formulation of the Order of the Golden Dawn. When this is reversed, we formulate NOX or Night, the threefold Eye of Ain, pure conscious awareness. The word ‘Ain’ (AIN) is closely related to A’ain (OIN), the seeing-eye of the void-spirit or ‘Bornless One’.

The sephiroth of the Hermetic Tree exist at four worlds or levels, and there is a tree in every sphere. Atziluth, ‘emanations’, is the plane of the gods at the cosmic level. The Egyptian gods are Neters, ‘Principles’ that are spiritual and natural law expressed in visible nature. Nuit and Hadit, primary gods of Thelema, are the most cosmic or absolute of all Neters. As such, their place on the Tree is with Ain and Ain Soph. There is some correspondence with Shiva and Shakti of the Eastern Tantras. In the temporal world, the plane of time and space, all things, objects and creatures appear to be a result of causes. We therefore tend to perceive everything as a chain of cause of effect. Malkuth in Assiah is the world of action and elements, identical to the Sanskrit karma. In the cosmic world of Nuit and Hadit there are no causes and no effects—there is no time. The perception of a past that is no more, a present that is ‘here’ yet constantly moving forward, and a future that is as yet unborn, emerges in Tiphereth at the midpoint of the Tree. In Malkuth, the base of the Tree, time fully obtains as the world of manifest appearances. The perception of cause and effect, although real enough on its own plane, is a trick of how we perceive things.

Form versus Formless Reality

The argument between the advocates of a formless absolute and those that revere gods, divinities, is an exceedingly ancient one. The Hindu sage Ramakrishna proposed a satisfying solution. One day he encountered some ardent followers of Shiva, and they said, “Why are you worshipping this goddess? She is Maya, the great delusion. We are followers of Shiva, who is Formless and absolute, the only Reality.” Ramakrishna went away to think and meditate on this. When he returned, he found the Shivaites again and told them, “You are right! However, so am I! The goddess that I love is the Form of the Formless. Ultimately, the Form and Formless are perfectly equal and amount to an expression of the same Reality.”[7]

The thread of the Ain Soph does not only exist ‘above Kether’, for it is the key to transformation at every conceivable level. How does Geburah, the 5th sephira, become Tiphereth, the 6th? How does the world of Yetzirah become the world of Assiah? It is the thread of the Ain Soph that weaves the worlds. In the numerical scheme of things, Malkuth is ‘below’ and Kether is ‘above’. And yet, Malkuth is Kether, but after another fashion. The Ain Soph is hidden in Malkuth—and so present at all times—as much as it is ‘above’ even Kether. In the practice—whether it is a meditation on the Hermetic Tree, the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram, or an operation to consecrate a talisman, we start at the ‘top’, the most absolute that we can conceive, then work towards manifestation. It is the transformation or Great Work essential to magick and alchemy, the working upon the plane of matter. When this is reversed, so that each symbol is followed back to its source in the infinite, the Non-Dual reality may be realised. To use Eastern terminology, Jnanamudra leads naturally to Mahamudra.

The adept embraces both heaven and hell, becoming at the last a flame—and then the fire itself. The biblical tale of Enoch provides the primary example of magical invisibility since, after the translation of his Ka into spirit or Khu, he is never seen again on earth by mortals.[8] When the adept knows that which he loves even as he is known and loved, a universe is crushed to nought (i.e., returned to Nuit).
Remember all ye that existence is pure joy; that all the sorrows are but as shadows; they pass and are done; but there is that which remains.
‘That which remains’, as according to Liber AL, II: 9, is not created from the substance of the earth—for it is not of created things. The adept—unless he falls back into time and space at the crossroads—is therefore invisible to all men, even while dwelling in the body of flesh.

The True Will is inevitably confused with the personal will that appears to drive choices and decisions affecting the material life. If too much energy is applied to effecting change on its own plane, that energy becomes depleted and the Ka (vital body) becomes a vampirical force. Vampires and ghouls are a glamorous concept, especially to those that have never experienced the psychic planes directly. There can be dire consequences for the soul. The matter has been obfuscated through the psychologisation of astral phenomena. Those who believe ghouls to be no more than psychic ‘shadows’ to be evoked for self-improvement have no idea of the harm they may inflict upon themselves and others. It is a case of the blind leading the blind.

The Great Work of transformation is effected downwards on the planes, ‘As above so below’. The world of Assiah is ‘negative’ to the ‘positive’ of the world of Yetzirah. Geburah is negative to Binah and Chesed, but positive to Tiphereth and Hod. To work upon Malkuth, the plane of material illusion, one does not begin with a wish or desire—though such a wish may have served as a lever to turn the magician towards the Great Work. With the Ain or non-conceptual reality there is no subject, no object and no will to do anything or to change anything. There are no things or objects with Ain, there is no-thing to desire or crave and no one to desire it. Yet it is from Ain that magick is worked and the True Will apprehended.

Magick and mysticism can easily be seen as two entirely different paths, one leading this way, the other leading that. By working on the plane of matter, the power of attention is increased. Through the use of the magical correspondences and the development of analogous thought, reality can be known as the Form of the Formless. The mirroring or doubling of the worlds is described in the writings of Kenneth Grant as the ‘Aeon of Zain’, named after the 17th path of the Hermetic Tree, to which the symbol of the sword is referred. The downward striking action of the Flaming Sword or Lightning Flash is the word or utterance of Kether. This automatically invokes the reflex current of return from Malkuth to the infinite.

This simultaneous, two-way relationship between the void spirit and its expression in matter and substance weaves the very fabric of anything we can perceive as existence. By travelling to and fro across the planes, a ‘substance’ is created that has an existence outside of the gates of matter and time. This is no different than the immortal stone or elixir of life described in guarded terms by medieval alchemists.

In the writings of Carlos Castaneda, the master Don Juan was always insistent that the ‘tricks’ of the shamans, whether to travel over vast distances, to effect magical transmutations upon things, creatures or humans, or to play some humiliating practical joke upon an unwary acolyte, have deadly serious intent. The intention is the ultimate liberation of the soul from all constraints of matter, time and death. This is no different from the Great Work of the hermetic tradition or the goal of liberation of the Advaitans.


1. Crowley, Introduction to Magick.
2. The image of the Ain Soph Aur concentrating Kether depicts the Tree of Atziluth in the colours of the King Scale. The veils of Negative Existence are depicted as three triangles, reflecting the nine letters, AIN SVP AVR. Kether appears spontaneusly in the pupil, void or eye of the infinite as Malkuth of the Ain Soph Aur. The Malkuth of the Tree of Kether or Atziluth is here shown in the place traditionally alloted to Daath, as the cosmic child of Wisdom and Understanding.
3. Βασιλιερευς has the Qabalistic value of 693. When divided by 3, its lowest factor, the result is 321, the Khabs in the Khu. Basiliereus is equal to A: Ch: D spelled out in full. He is therefore the magical child or sun-star of ‘93’, the “one to follow” cryptically conveyed in Liber AL, II: 76.
4. See Journey to Ixtlan, The Eagle’s Gift and other teachings of Don Juan.
5. Liber AL vel Legis, I: 4.
6. The thread of Ain Soph is described in ‘The Orbicular Tree’, Ritual Magick–The Rites and Ceremonies of Hermetic Light.
7. The life and story of Ramakrishna as told by his disciple ‘M’ is translated and introduced by Swami Nikhilananda and published by the Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Centre.
8. Book of Genesis, 5: 24, “And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.”

© Oliver St. John 2018, 2019
This essay is part of the collection, Babalon Unveiled! Thelemic Monographs .

Books by Oliver St John

Subscribe to The 93 Current monthly Journal

Visit Ordo Astri: Thelemic Magical Collegium