Thelema Lodge Calendar for August 1990 e.v.

Thelema Lodge Calendar

for August 1990 e.v.

   The viewpoints and opinions expressed herein are the responsibility of the contributing authors and do not necessarily reflect the position of OTO or its officers.

   Note to update: the addresses and phone numbers in these issues of the Thelema Lodge Calendars are obsolete since the closing of the Lodge. They are here for historic purposes only and should not be visited or called.

Copyright © O.T.O. and the Individual Authors, 1990 e.v.

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

August 1990 e.v. at Thelema Lodge

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

Announcements from
Lodge Members and Officers

August 1990 e.v. at Thelema Lodge

"There are rituals of the elements and feasts of the times."
    "A feast for the first night of the Prophet and his Bride!"

AL II:36-37

    We will celebrate the Feast of the Beast and his Bride (August 12) with a Gnostic Mass at sunset, a fundraising Chicken dinner starting at 4:18pm ($5- $10 donation, sliding scale) and riotous revelry before, between, and afterwards...for Lammas, we'll go to Battery Alexander for camping and ritual courtesy of the Nu-Babalon Coven August 7th in the evening.. at presstime I'm short of information, call the NEW Temple phone for details: 654-3580.
    Gnostic Masses proceed every Sunday just after TUMResh - August 12th may not be Liber XV, but no-one's told me about other variations. The Lodgemeeting is August 30 at 8 pm - planning for the Equinox: the Lodge of Perfection meets August 16th; and Lodge Cleaning starts at 2:22 pm on the 19th.
    Bill's Magick and Qabalah series continues with an over-view of systems of Magick on August 15th and a more detailed look at some ethical and hazardous questions in Magick on the 22nd.
    Mordecai will start the Initiations Workshop (Saladin's Mighty Seminar) again with Minerval on the 3rd, First Degree on the 17th; "Introduction to Trance" continues August 24th. All Mordecai's events start at 8 pm.
    The Magick Theater's dramatic reading this month is an Elizabethan play concerning the magical career of St. Roger Bacon, "Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay" by Robert Greene (1589 c.e.). Copies will be available. August 21 at 7:30 in Horus Temple. (Next month, another Crowley play.)
    It's time for the RITES again - the first organizational meeting will be in Horus Temple, 8 pm August 10th with plans for December... see you there.
    Hypatia Camp concludes its' 777 class with Oriental Path attributions August 2nd at the Lodge, 8 pm.
    The Virgo Birthday Bash will take place at 4:18 Sunday the 26th - and there's another Eclipse party August 6th for all you Loons... -C-

from the Grady Project:


[This selection is offered instead of a poem this month, from our transcription-in-progress of Grady's early diaries. These entries, made during Grady's senior year at Pasadena City College, document his initial contacts with Jack Parsons and the O.T.O., amidst his other enthusiasms for science fiction, his tobacco pipe, and the trombone. "Foxie" would later become Grady's wife.]

TUESDAY, 17 DECEMBER: Invited down to Parsons (John W.) home this evening for a general bull session with his partner in rocket research and Jack Williamson. Must have drank a quart and a half of beer. Smith (Wilfred) couldn't make it. Talked about rockets, witchcraft, etc.

THURSDAY, 19 DECEMBER: Taking notes from The Golden Bough and Mythology of All Races at the downtown library. Took Foxie over to the LASFL [Los Angeles Science Fiction League] Xmas party. Williamson, Leigh Brackett, Heinlein, etc. there.

FRIDAY, 20 DECEMBER: Worked some in the physical science office for Jane. Mimeographing. Finished reading Cabell's Jurgen. Quite the most remarkable book I have ever read. Maybe I will understand it someday.

SATURDAY, 21 DECEMBER: Down to Jack's again tonight. Just he and I. Comparing our poetry and reading some good verse.

SUNDAY, 22 DECEMBER: Went home by bus. Got in around 4 p.m. Glad to see the folks. Got a can of Half & Half tobacco from Ada & Walt. Foxie gave me a set of hair brushes some time ago and Tony gave me a can of Edgeworth Thursday.

WEDNESDAY, 25 DECEMBER: Xmas. Ate dinner at Uncle Elvier's.

SATURDAY, 28 DECEMBER: Came back to Pasadena. Get three old Astonishing [magazines] in Hollywood.

SUNDAY, 29 DECEMBER: Returned the Equinox and Blessings of Pan to Jack. His wife, her sister, he and I went down to the Arroyo and looked over the C.I.T. [Cal.Tech.] rocket project and went for a hike. Had a chili supper, heard Rites of Spring by Stravinsky, borrowed Aradia. Came home anchored [?]. Tony down to San Marino. Picked him up walking home and ----- then got home about 12:30 a.m.

MONDAY, 30 DECEMBER: Working for Ameringe on Geology maps.

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The Orators 'ration


    Exegesis may be defined as the critical analysis and interpretation of a holy book (or books). The word's Indo-European roots convey the sense of searching out, and the implication is that perhaps the actual meaning of a scripture is not what it first appears. The holy books of every major world religion have exegetical traditions, in some cases many centuries old. Can we as Thelemites benefit from their obvious successes and failures, or must we abandon their philosophical insights along with their slavery? Perhaps it is possible to ignore their dogma and self-justifications, yet still learn something from their logical systems and consequent recognitions of the deeper meanings in their revelations. As Thelemites, sworn enemies of all tyranny and oppression, we ought not hesitate to utilize to our advantage any idea that humankind has ever had. In any case it is inevitable that Thelemites will produce an exegetical literature based on studies of the various Holy Books. Crowley himself set the example by commenting exhaustively on many of them. As this body of work develops we may profit by an examination of some earlier exegetical philosophies; in that way we may avoid the fatal mistakes of our predecessors and sharpen the distinctions between our own concepts and the outworn hypocrisies of the past.
    Beside the Book of the Law itself the foundation of all Thelemite exegesis is a work entitled, simply, 'THE COMMENT.' and signed by Crowley as "The priest of the princes, Ankh-f-n-khonsu". It was first published in Tunis in 1925 or '26 (the date in Parfitt & Drylie's Crowley Cross-Index doesn't agree with the one in Appendix C of : The Holy Books of Thelema"). It is quoted here in its entirety:

    "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
    The study of this Book is forbidden. It is wise to destroy this copy after the first reading.
    Whosoever disregards this does so at his own risk and peril.
    These are most dire.
    Those who discuss the contents of this Book are to be shunned by all, as centres of pestilence.
    All questions of the Law are to be decided only by appeal to my writings, each for himself.
    There is no law beyond Do what thou wilt.
    Love is the law, love under will."

    Crowley considered this the comment that is mentioned several times in the Book of the Law: "My scribe Ankh-af-na-khonsu, the priest of the princes, shall not in one letter change this book; but lest there be folly, he shall comment thereupon by the wisdom of Ra-Hoor-Khu-it." (I:36) / "All this and a book to say how thou didst come hither and a reproduction of this ink and paper for ever - for in it is the word secret & not only in the English - and thy comment upon this the Book of the Law shall be printed beautifully in red ink and black upon beautiful paper made by hand; and to each man and woman that thou meetest, were it but to dine or drink at them, it is the Law to give. Then they shall chance to abide in this bliss or no; it is no odds. Do this quickly! But the work of the comment? That is easy; and Hadit burning in thy heart shall make swift and secure thy pen." (III:39-40) / "The fool readeth this Book of the Law, and its comment; & he understandeth it not." (III:63). The implication is that the words of this brief and even whimsical comment are inspired by the wisdom of Ra-Hoor-Khu-it and the inner flame of Hadit. Like any holy book this Class A comment is open to interpretation. Is it a joke? Is it serious? I think perhaps the joke is that it is serious. Service to Ra Hoor Khuit is fully described in III:62, "To Me do ye reverence! to me come ye through tribulation of ordeal, which is bliss." The founders and true practitioners of most religions, even the most unwarlike, have had to face battle and prove their bravery, albeit in a multitude of ways. The saint of meekness draws strength from the sufferings of Jesus; the saint of obedience finds inspiration in Allah's conquests as performed through Muhammed. The measure of these respective saints' success is in how well they emulate heir exemplars. Should we not rightly expect much greater trials for the saints of freedom? when they seek to serve the Crowned & Conquering Child, All Victorious, "Supreme and terrible God, Who makest the gods and death to tremble before Thee". And if the tribulation of their ordeal is truly bliss then He may indeed grant triumph to their wills, but only so long as their wills are His. Nothing succeeds like success; everything fails in failure.
    What 'THE COMMENT.' itself suggests to me are these two fundamentals for a Thelemite exegesis:
    1) THERE ARE NO FINAL INTERPRETATIONS - If one is unprepared to take the advice of III:16, "Deem not too eagerly to catch the promises; fear not to undergo the curses. Ye, even ye, know not this meaning all.", then one is probably not ready for the spiritual consequences of a personal relationship to the Book of the Law. Healthy personal relationships are based on acceptance of change within a framework of mutual support; when applied to the Book of the Law this means an ever evolving understanding and an ever expanding reverence. The novice Thelemite comes to the Law as a fool, understanding nothing, but "Let him come through the first ordeal, & it will be to him as silver. Through the second, gold. Through the third, stones of precious water. Through the fourth, ultimate sparks of the intimate fire." (III:64-67). In this process we face no deadlier dogmas than those we call our own. It's a very short step from "finally knowing" what the Book means to telling everyone else what it means. Truly it would be better to tell everyone what it means when you still haven't the slightest insight as to what you're actually talking about! That way at least people can take it as a joke and laugh at you.
    2) THERE ARE NO INCORRECT INTERPRETATIONS - We can find clues to understanding the Book of the Law in the Prophet's writings, but the dogmas of Orthodoxy must never be allowed to intrude upon any individual's understanding of the Book. In the hands of an extremist this moral principle becomes that demon called the Dogma of No Dogmas, which is actually among the most insidious of all possible dogmas; it can only be combated by the freedom of each person to accept and/or reject at any time any dogma which pleases them. We ought not to let dogma itself distract us from the real crime, which is the imposition of one person's dogma upon another. No person has a valid basis on which to decide that another's particular understandings of the Book of the Law are correct or incorrect, but if any understanding should lead its adherents to try to thwart my rights then I have the right to kill them, even though I may choose to exercise it only in the most extreme of cases. We must not tolerate Orthodoxy, but we needn't for that reason excuse folly just because it wraps itself in Thelema. What happens to those fools who obstinately persist in misunderstanding the Book of the Law is described in II:27, "There is great danger in me; for who doth not understand these runes shall make a great miss. He shall fall down into the pit called Because, and there he shall perish with the dogs of Reason."
    Using these ground rules Thelemite exegesis must by definition be intensely personal; however, it is not therefore necessary that it be entirely private. In fact, there are times when at least some interpretations must be made public in order to prevent the misconceptions of fools from endangering our very physical existences! Of particular importance in this regard is the third chapter of the Book of the Law. We all know what could result from taking the word of Heru-ra-ha as a literal blueprint for action on the physical plane. "Trample down the Heathen; be upon them, o warrior, I will give you of their flesh to eat!" (III:11) / "Mercy let be off: damn them who pity! Kill and torture; spare not; be upon them!" (III:18) / "I will be at your arms in battle & ye shall delight to slay." (III:46) are just three of many passages that taken as literal license would surely engender horrific consequences. Thus, Thelemite literalists are as dangerous to the other members of our species as Christian literalists, Hindu and Moslem literalists, or any other slaves of "THE WORD". And, in addition to the threat they pose to individuals, the actions of Thelemite literalists are weapons in the hands of our enemies, who seek to slander, libel, and persecute us all. Being literalists themselves our enemies cannot conceive of a religious movement based on spiritual rather than semantic values. Here, I think, is where some of the medieval concepts of Qabalist exegesis may serve us especially well, in both our defense and our communal progress. One such concept in particular is a focus of this presentation [for more on some of these concepts in general, see G.G. Scholem, "On the Kabbalah and Its Symbolism" (1965)].
    There is a story in the Talmud about four great rabbis who entered paradise. One saw and died, the second saw and lost his reason, the third became an apostate and misled the youth. Only Rabbi Akiba entered in peace and came out in peace. In the hands of Moses de Leon, rabbi and revealer of the illuminating Zohar, this story is used as the basis for an understanding of holy writ. The Hebrew word for paradise (literally, garden or orchard) is 'pardes', spelt Peh-Resh-Dalet-Samekh. These four letters were employed by De Leon to represent four levels of meaning.
Peh [Peh] stands for 'peshat', the plain or literal meaning; this is the predominant, and often obsessive, attitude of those (like some fundamentalist Christians and Muslims) who insist that every word of their scripture is factually accurate. Resh [Resh] begins the word 'remez', the hinted or allegorical meaning, though one of De Leon's anonymous heirs here substitutes 'reiyoth', insights; this is the predominant attitude of those (like some Unitarians and Reform Jews) who use their scripture as a repository of symbols for human psychological processes like guilt, self-sacrifice, and spiritual renewal. Daleth [Dalet] represents 'derasha', homiletic or legalistic interpretation; this is the predominant attitude of those (like some Orthodox Jews and Sunni Muslims) who see their scripture as a guide to wise and judicious decision-making, in both public and private life, an instructive mixture of history, legend, and parable, suitable for teaching long term values and practical ethics to each new generation. Finally Samekh [Samekh] , the last letter of 'pardes', is the initial letter of the word 'sod', the secret or mystical meaning; this is the predominant attitude of those (like the mystics of every scriptural tradition) who value their scripture not because it is divinely inspired, but because it inspires them with the Divine.
    This system of four levels of meaning is a common method of interpreting the Torah, compatible with the Qabalist concept of the Four Worlds. But how are we to attribute the correspondence of level to World? There is the story, told by the same anonymous heir of Rabbi Moses de Leon mentioned above, which connects the four levels of scriptural interpretation with the four rivers of Eden as well as with the four rabbis who entered paradise. De Leon's successor tells us that the first rabbi went into the river Pishon [Peh-Yod-Shin-Vau-Nunfinal], which name is taken to mean "the mouth that learns exactly" and hence the literal level of meaning. The second rabbi went into the river Gihon [Gimel-Yod-Chet-Vau-Nunfinal], which is referred to allegory and symbolism. The third rabbi went into the river Hiddekel [Chet-Dalet-Qof-Lamed], from "sharp, deft", which refers to the drawing of a moral lesson or legal precedent from scripture. The fourth rabbi went into the Euphrates [Peh-Resh-Taw], which name is connected to the innermost kernel; this rabbi, who achieved mystical understanding of the Torah, was the only one to enter and return without harm. This story allows us to use the 777 correspondences between the Four Worlds and the four rivers, and thus attribute them both to the four levels of meaning. Using this method, our Peh-Resh-Daleth-Samekh can be respectively identified with the Four Worlds:
Atziluth [Aleph-Tzaddi-Yod-Lamed-Vau-Taw], Briah [Bet-Resh-Yod-Aleph-Hay], Yetzirah [Yod-Tzaddi-Yod-Resh-Hay], and Assiah [Aleph-Shin-Yod-Hay].
    What are some of the implications of this identification for Thelemite exegesis? In the Tree of Life arrangement labelled 'The Constitution of Man' (reproduced in Regardie's edition of "Magick Without Tears") both Atziluth (the archetypal World from which all the others emanate) and Briah (the creative World which interfaces between pure archetype and actual existence) are placed above the Abyss by Crowley; Yetzirah (the World of formation, peopled by the Angels and Divine Principles) he corresponds to the six central Sephiroth which make up Ruach [Resh-Vau-Chet], and Assiah (the World of action, home for both matter and the Qlipoth) to the Sephira Malkuth [Mem-Lamed-Kaf-Vau-Taw]. If we substitute the four levels of interpretation for the Four Worlds in this arrangement we find that both the literal and the allegorical levels of meaning are above the Abyss. Does this mean that a literal understanding of scripture is possible only above the Abyss? I think yes; to comprehend the contradictions of a 'sepher ha-Torah' ("book of the Law") requires, as the Buddhist sutra says, "reaching the far side of the river". This seems contrary to the common sense which tells us that a literal interpretation should correspond with the material plane while the esoteric meaning is inherently of the archetypal plane. But this sort of common sense is misleading when it comes to exegesis, just as it is in the cases of post-Copernican astronomy and post-Einsteinian physics. In remarkably many of the most important areas of human thought we find that both strict logical analysis and sweet poetic imagination conspire to overthrow our everyday assumptions and their mundane conclusions.
    Does this also mean that we may never take literally any of the Book of the Law's commands? Well, if by "never' you mean "sometimes" then my answer again is yes. Once more, the framework of the Four Worlds is instructive. Within each World there are another Four Worlds; therefore, in Atziluth's sphere of Assiah one might suppose a literal/mystic meaning must be apparent. Consider II:36-44, "There are rituals of the elements and feasts of the times. A feast for the first night of the Prophet and his Bride! A feast for the three days of the writing of the Book of the Law. A feast for Tahuti and the child of the Prophet - secret, O Prophet! A feast for the Supreme Ritual, and a feast for the Equinox of the Gods. A feast for fire and a feast for water; a feast for life and a greater feast for death! A feast every day in your hearts in the joy of my rapture! A feast every night unto Nu, and the pleasure of uttermost delight! Aye! feast! rejoice! there is no dread hereafter. There is the dissolution, and eternal ecstasy in the kisses of Nu." Now, the literal act of feasting according to this passage might perhaps in some way help to bring you to that quite mystical understanding of Aiwass' revelation which is proper to Assiah. But to miss the deeper meaning of these words and see instead a mere catalogue of holidays and an invitation to non-stop partying would be a terrible mistake; just as it is a mistake to think that a literal enaction of the Law is necessarily effective or even desirable on the physical plane. Overeating, even in the name of Thelema, can still cause indigestion. Ritually sacrificing a human child, no matter to what god, can still cause execution for murder. The seekers who live with a scripture in peace, who survive this study with their integrity and reason intact are those who are able to use primarily the most hidden scriptural meanings as a basis for actual behavior in Malkuth. Still, the mystic's apprehension of holy writ must also include moral and mental precepts, allegories which operate on imagination, and even, where called for, literal obedience (try this experiment: obtain a copy of the Book of the Law in an edition which includes THE COMMENT; read this particular copy aloud in its entirety once, and then burn it up completely; how does it make you feel? foolish? frightened? fescennine? or free?).
    And yet, a common feature of saints' lives throughout history has been the inexplicability of some of their actions. A number, of course, have lost their reason, but others may have had reasons aplenty. After all, if the words of scripture are only to be truly understood mystically in this World of action, then, on an archetypal level, those very same words must be literally true! We ought to avoid mixing up our understandings of the planes, but yet, are there not still many cases of natural interaction between the planes? In such cases the only proof is success, but then we must ask, 'whose success?'. For Ra Hoor Khuit, "There is success." For us, well, we do the best we can, and, ultimately, are forced to leave it go at that.
    What I have tried to show in this brief essay is the possible relevance for Thelemites of the concept of exegesis, and to detail a single example of Qabalist exegetical technique. I have tried to use this one technique as a tool for understanding the Book of the Law. Many other like tools exist; I would that this one example might inspire others (and especially my Self) to pick them up and use them.

--- Frater Faustus

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Presenting a song lyric without the music, that is,



There was a man who walked off the road
onto a twisted path
His feet kept stumbling over thickets & stones
His flashlight, dimming fast
and where he stepped was wavering
in the halflight of the Moon
The distant dogs were baying all night
through the silence of his tomb
He won't play nice
He can't sit quiet
He wants to lead you to your doom
He knows the secret
He'd like to tell you,
make you a member of his crew
I've got to warn you
He might deceive you
and give you everything that you desire
He'll be your lawyer,
write up the papers
Just sign in blood and take the key
to the silence of your tomb.

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From the Outbasket

How can I begin to learn about the Gods and Goddesses of Egypt? --- from a recent letter.

    Here's an edited version of some general advice on the subject.

    You need to read widely, and any book on ancient Egypt will be of some help. The more serious references on the subject are heavy going. There are so many deities in the ancient Egyptian pantheon that it is confusing to read about many of them at the same time. Usually the best approach is to learn about a few in general interest books. Look them up in a more encyclopedic source like Budge's two volumes The Gods of the Egyptians (Dover Press). Next study the prayers and stories in the Egyptian Book of the Dead (Budge, Dover The Egyptian Book of the Dead or Champdor, Garrett Publications The Book of the Dead) to see them in settings of ritual. Histories of Egypt and studies of mythology are useful after that.
    One thing you need to know: The Egyptian deities all started out as patron deities and small pantheons connected to ancient (often pre-historic) tribes and cities. That means that each Egyptian deity is a complete personality with the full range of human characteristics and special interests. Over time the distinctions became blurred and conquest or commercial dominance subordinated some cities and tribes to others. The deities of the conquerors rose in ascendancy over the deities of the conquered. As fortune changed through the many centuries, various deities were overturned by others through political change. Thus, Ptah is paramount in ancient days, Horus is greatest in some periods, Ra in others, Set in still others, etc. Throughout, the individual deities retain simplified characteristics, and the myths connected to them are elaborated. This is in no way different from human verbal history and is in fact nothing more than a distant product of the oral traditions of those who came at the beginning of Egyptian history. We tend to remember people of the past for the remarkable things that were said about them, not for the common human qualities that all people share. In the passage of the ages, these remarkable qualities crowd out the ordinary. S., for example, gradually ceased to be the tough minded and high spirited lady people were still talking about generations after she died. She became a saint the village girls beseeched to aid them in becoming strong willed and healthy in the work of the day. Later still S. became a deity of the force and power of the sun in the mid-day heat, a lioness of great powers of protection and great violence when brought to anger. When the village was absorbed into a larger state, this abstract version of S. was about all that was retained. She then took her place in the pantheon of Ancient Egypt as the goddess of the heat of the mid-day sun; lioness headed and dangerous for sun stroke but powerful in protection and force. Perhaps the whole thing began for S. with a girl advising that a fight between two villages be delayed until noon. Her people of the nearer village could then get water and shade, while those of the farther village would have to trudge through the devastating heat. This would have given advantage to the local villagers, and the whole mythology of the goddess S. may have derived from that. The original story would have been forgotten over time.
    Need some place to start? See if you can discover the identity of the goddess mentioned as "S." in the above paragraph.

-- TSG (Bill Heidrick)

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Events Calendar for August 1990 e.v.

8/2/90"777" Chinese Attributions 8 PMHypatia Camp
8/3/90Initiations Workshop Zero Deg 8 PMThelema Ldg.
8/5/90Gnostic Mass at SunsetThelema Ldg.
8/6/90Eclipse PartyThelema Ldg.
8/7/90Lamas Bash at Battery AlexanderThelema Ldg.
8/10/90Rites of Eleusis organization meet.Thelema Ldg.
8/12/90Gnostic Mass at SunsetThelema Ldg.
8/12/90Feast of the Beast and his Bride
$5 - $10 donation Chicken Dinner
to support the Lodge 4:18 PM
Thelema Ldg.
8/15/90Magick & Qabalah # 5 with Bill 8 PMThelema Ldg.
8/16/90Lodge of Perfection meetingLOP
8/17/90Initiations Workshop 3rd Deg 8 PMThelema Ldg.
8/19/90Gnostic Mass & Lodge Cleanup SunsetThelema Ldg.
8/21/90Play reading: Friar Bacon & Friar
by R. Greene 7:30 PM
Magick Thea.
8/22/90Magick & Qabalah # 6 with Bill 8 PMThelema Ldg.
8/23/90Secret meeting
8/24/90Introduction to Trance 8 PM Bro.M.Thelema Ldg.
8/26/90Virgo Birthday party 4:18 PMThelema Ldg.
8/26/90Gnostic Mass at SunsetThelema Ldg.
8/30/90Thelema Lodge Meeting 8 PMThelema Ldg.

    The viewpoints and opinions expressed herein are the responsibility of the contributing authors and do not necessarily reflect the position of OTO or its officers.

   Note to update: the addresses and phone numbers in these issues of the Thelema Lodge Calendars are obsolete since the closing of the Lodge. They are here for historic purposes only and should not be visited or called.

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