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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/

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Compassion is the Vice of Kings

Compassion is the vice of kings: stamp down the wretched and the weak: this is the law of the strong: this is our law and the joy of the world.
Liber AL vel Legis, II: 21

The above passage from the (Egyptian) Book of the Law has probably offended and outraged more persons than anything else in the books and writings of Thelema. Even the scribe, Aleister Crowley, hated it at the time.

Unfortunately for the legacy of Thelema, Crowley frequently applied a fundamentalist interpretation to this received work. His Liber OZ, for example, was an attempt to create a kind of ‘Bill of Rights’—completely against the spirit of the book, which rails against all codified commandments.

The word ‘compassion’ appears twice in the book, where it is treated as a spiritual obstacle, not a measure of worthiness. Likewise, the word ‘pity’ occurs several times in the second and third chapters. The first mention of ‘pity’ comes in II: 46–48, where it seems Crowley is being interrogated and rebuked. We should remember the book was dictated to Crowley, and he did not like the way the book was going.
Dost thou fail? Art thou sorry? Is fear in thine heart? Where I am these are not. Pity not the fallen! I never knew them. I am not for them. I console not: I hate the consoled and the consoler.
“Pity not the fallen! I never knew them”, suggests that Crowley has been arguing against the flow of instruction, or otherwise quietly resisting it. At this stage, Aiwass, the communicating intelligence, appears to be trying to force Crowley the scribe to accept the wisdom he was receiving direct from source, via the mediumship of Rose Edith Kelly (Ouarda the Seer, Rose Crowley).

There is a possibility that it is Crowley himself who is being warned of dire consequences if he does not accept this knowledge; that he will ‘fall’ unless he purges himself. The point is made with even greater ferocity on the third day of the transmission, as recorded in Liber AL, III: 18:
Mercy let be off: damn them who pity!
The word ‘pity’ is mentioned once again in AL, III: 42, in a paragraph concerning the ordeals of initiation.
Them that seek to entrap thee, to overthrow thee, them attack without pity or quarter; and destroy them utterly.
The Book of the Law has a historical, ancient Egyptian context. At the cult centre of Thebes, Ra Hoor Khuit was associated with Hadit (or Behedety) who was in turn associated with the historical battle chronicled by Ptolemy where the pharaonic Horus of Edfu defeated his enemies, ruthlessly routed them and followed them all over Egypt, finally killing every last one of the few survivors in Nubia. This can be understood as a spiritual battle where the ‘enemies of Ra’ symbolise the forces of ignorance and dispersion that will ultimately amount to death as finality. “Attack without pity” may therefore be taken as an instruction to be merciless with the enemy within. Ra Hoor Khuit offers his protection here, for the sun disk was not only a slayer of enemies but also a symbol to indicate the whole sky above, the heavens. It means protection, with infinite reach. How can one hide from the sky? But if there is pity for the aggregates that fuel the ego, including self-pity—thus allowing demonic forces to enslave the soul—then even the sky cannot protect those consigned to the hell worlds where no sky can be seen.

In III: 43, the warning is carried to the Scarlet Woman, the soul, where Ra Hoor Khuit, the Lord of the Last Judgement, says he will slay her child.
Let the Scarlet Woman beware! If pity and compassion and tenderness visit her heart; if she leave my work to toy with old sweetnesses; then shall my vengeance be known. I will slay me her child: I will alienate her heart: I will cast her out from men: as a shrinking and despised harlot shall she crawl through dusk wet streets, and die cold and an-hungered.
The soul is warned against loss of her immortal principle. If she seeks sustenance on its own plane, hoping to appease her appetites through her environment, the affections of those around, she is at grave risk of entrapment by the Qliphoth of the Holy Graal. The path in question is the 18th, that of the Charioteer. The inverse reflection of the 18th path is the baneful, short-lived ecstasy of the vampire.

Vampirism is commonly thought not to exist outside the realms of fiction. Yet occultists have always known about the degradation the human soul can suffer through wilfully or inadvertently seeking sustenance from horizontal polarity on the psychic planes. Although it has become popular for magical fantasists to glamorise the notion of the vampire, the reality is not glorious. Eventually the soul will seek sustenance from anything on the lower astral plane that has a shred of etheric vitality left in it, without discrimination. The fate of such a ghoul is truly horrible. The soul’s chance of immortality is lost forever.

Verse III: 43 of Liber AL explains in precise terms the fate of such a vampire. The soul or Scarlet Woman is warned of the consequences for mistaking desire sought on the horizontal place, mere egotistic gratification, with ‘spiritual’ or otherwise noble feelings. ‘Compassion’ implies horizontal polarity, for it is not possible, in reality, to feel or to truly know the feelings of another. Such faux feelings mask self-indulgent emotions that encourage the insatiable appetites of the ego. Such feelings are given majestic qualities by the cunning reasoning faculty. It is noble to honour the King, the spiritual core or star that is hidden in every man and every woman. ‘Pity’ is merely an inversion of self-pride. The ‘vengeance that shall be known’ is an automatic function within nature. The magical child of the soul, the immortal stone of the wise, will perish through neglect. The soul becomes alienated. She is ‘cast out’ through her clinging to the delusion of separate existence. The “harlot” alluded to here is the degenerate soul that will seek nourishment from any source whatsoever, including the etheric substance that emanates from dead and putrefying flesh. In the twilight, at the borderland of consciousness, the lost soul eventually succumbs to the natural inertia of the universe and is annihilated.

‘Compassion’, as with ‘pity’, implies superior understanding and virtue. One feels good about oneself and better than the others who are not compassionate. Thus, it is the “vice of kings”, which is that of Tiphereth: egotism, and even worse, spiritual pride.


© Oliver St. John 2014, 2019
This essay is part of the collection, Babalon Unveiled! Thelemic Monographs.
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