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.
Ordo Templi Orientis
Berkeley, CA 94702 USA
February 1995 e.v. at Thelema Lodge
Lodge Members and Officers
To promote the continuing understanding of our mass, Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica activities in Horus Temple include an informal monthly study group where the questioning and comprehension of Liber XV can be shared by all interested students and celebrants. Bishop T Dionysus offers his guidance for our research, and the group meets to share results in the lodge library on Wednesday evening 22nd February at 8:00. One likely topic for the next few meetings is the Order's new edition of the mass, now available as an appendix to Book Four in the recent Weiser publication.
Brother Bill Heidrick will continue his long-running series on Aleister Crowley's Magick in Theory and Practice this month, meeting at his home in Marin on Wednesday evening 15th February. Class begins at 7:30, with first- time attendants advised to call Bill at (415) 454-5176 for directions. We will be going on from Appendix V into the short set of tables and the rituals after them. We will also look at the new Weiser edition of Book Four with the expanded text of M.T.P. which it contains.
Shakespeare's last major play, The Tempest, recommended to the A A for its treatment of the role of the magus, the limits of enchantment and of elemental operations, and the disciplines of erotic magic, is our subject for discussion and inquiry at the Thelema Lodge Section Two reading group this month. Gather at Oz House with Caitlin and Frater P.I. on Monday evening 13th February at 8:00. Participants are invited to read the play beforehand if possible; we will be reading only selected scenes together as we construct an analysis of Shakespeare's myth of the magus, and its relation to the workings of John Dee and other contemporary magicians.
Grace will host the Thelema Lodge zodiacal expedition into "The Astrology of Pisces" on Friday evening 24th February in Berkeley. Look beneath the surface, moving in some other parallel time, sensitive to another sort of touch, into the Realm of the Fish. Pisces more than many signs seems to resist inspection, but Grace will show us where to cast our lines into Neptune's slithery depths and come to an appreciation of the undersea world. Open house is from 7:00 to 9:00 PM, with all attending asked to make advance contact with Grace at (510) 843-STAR.
The Grady L. McMurtry Poetry Society meets in the library at Thelema Lodge on Saturday evening 25th February at 7:30. (The following notice, entitled "The Importance of Being Poetic," has been provided by Brother Ernie Tam.) On one early Saturday evening each month a small group of oddly burning individuals gather themselves at the hearth of the muses and read poems to each other. These poems may be anything from classics to limericks, modern masters to original compositions. What they all share is the attempt to express the light of some beauty or eternal truth which has been glimpsed, if even dimly, and must therefore be communicated. Some of these poems may warm your heart or set your mind aflame, while others may chill you to the bone, and yet the very same verses may have had a very different effect upon your comrades. But what all of these comrades share is the willingness to offer themselves as kindling. It takes very little to ignite a roaring fire; one spark, to be exact. Which one will set you ablaze?
The Butterfly Net and Thelema Lodge Computer Users' Group meets Thursday evening 16th February at 8:00 in the library. All are welcome to share programs, problems, and results.
The lodge offers open library nights at least twice monthly, with members and friends encouraged to make use of our extensive study facilities. These Library Nights are tentatively scheduled for the calendar, from 8:00 to 10:00 on Thursday 9th February and Monday 20th February. The dates are sometimes changed by request, so call the lodge a day or two ahead whenever planning to attend.
Sirius Oasis meets in Berkeley on Wednesday evening 8th February at 8:00. Initiations and other O.T.O. events are being planned by this independently chartered group, with assistance welcome from members. Call the Oasis Master at (510) 527-2855 for information and directions. Thelema Lodge will conduct a brief business and scheduling meeting on Monday evening 6th February at 8:00, with Lodge History Night to follow. All members are asked to consider that our lodge is only what we make of it, and that continual experimentation and fresh ideas are necessary for us to succeed in meeting the needs of our Thelemic community. Offers to instruct classes in subjects of individual expertise, or to facilitate discussion groups for shared study, are of great value to the lodge. But more valuable still is the spirit of sustained interest we share, joining and encouraging each other in our work, ritual, and reading together. Requests and ideas for lodge events may be outlined at the lodge meeting, or with one of the lodge officers beforehand. Notes for events to be described in the calendar should be provided to the lodge master no later than this meeting.
The Sustaining Members' luncheon meeting returns this month. Lodge members and friends are invited to avail themselves of this special opportunity to generously support Horus Temple and Thelema Lodge. While the donations of all who attend lodge events are solicited in the voluntary collections taken up at many events --- and this is our primary means of funding the lodge --- we would not be able to sustain the facilities we enjoy without the extra efforts of the Sustaining Members. Speak with the lodge officers for details, then join us for lunch on Sunday afternoon 12th February at 1:00.
IT is a lamentable circumstance that so many colossal brains (W. H. Mallock,
&c.) have been hitherto thrown away in attacking what is after all a problem
of mere academic interest, the authorship of the plays our fathers accepted as
those of Shakespeare. To me it seems of immediate and vital importance to do
for Shakespeare what Verrall has done so ably for Euripides. The third
tabernacle must be filled; Shaw and "the Human" must have their Superhuman
companion. (This is not a scale: pithecanthropoid innuendo is to [be]
Till now --- as I write the sun bursts forth suddenly from a cloud, as if heralding the literary somersault of the twentieth century --- we have been content to accept Shakespeare as orthodox, with common sense; moral to a fault, with certain Rabelaisian leanings: a healthy tone (we say) pervades his work. Never believe it! The sex problem is his Speciality; a morbid decadence (so-called) is hidden i' th' heart o' th' rose. In other words, the divine William is the morning star to Ibsen's dawn, and Bernard Shaw's effulgence.
The superficial, the cynical, the misanthropic will demand proof of such a statement. Let it be our contemptuous indulgence to afford them what they ask.
May I premise that, mentally obsessed, monomaniac indeed, as we must now consider Shakespeare to have been on these points, he was yet artful enough to have concealed his advanced views --- an imperative necessity, if we consider the political situation, and the virginal mask under which Queen Bess hid the grotesque and hideous features of a Messaline. Clearly so, since but for this concealment even our Shakespearian scholars would have discovered so patent a fact. In some plays, too, of course, the poet deals with less dangerous topics. These are truly conventional, no doubt; we may pass them by; they are foreign to our purpose; but we will take that stupendous example of literary subterfuge --- King Lear.
Let me digress to the history of my own conversion.
Syllogistically: All great men (e.g. Shaw) are agnostics and subverters of morals. Shakespeare was a great man. Therefore Shakespeare was an agnostic and a subverter of morals.
A priori this is then certain. But ---
Who killed Rousseau?
I, said Huxley
(Like Robinson Crusoe),
With arguments true, --- so
I killed Rousseau!
Beware of a priori! Let us find our facts, guided in the search by a priori methods, no doubt; but the result will this time justify us.
Where would a man naturally hide his greatest treasure? In his most perfect treasure-house.
Where shall we look for the truest thought of a great poet? In his greatest poem.
What is Shakespeare's greatest play? King Lear.
In King Lear, then, we may expect the final statement of the poet's mind. The passage that first put me on the track of the amazing discovery for which the world has to thank me is to be found in Act I, Scene ii, ll. 132-149:
"This is the excellent foppery of the world, that, when we are sick in fortune --- often the surfeit of our own behaviour --- we make guilty of our disasters the sun, the moon, and the stars; as if we were villains by necessity, fools by heavenly compulsion, knaves, thieves, and treachers by spherical predominance, drunkards, liars, and adulterers by an enforced obedience of planetary influence; and all that we are evil in, by a divine thrusting on: an admirable evasion of whoremaster man, to lay his goatish disposition to the charge of a star! My father compounded with my mother under the dragon's tail, and my nativity was under ursa major; so that it follows I am rough and lecherous. 'Sfoot! I should have been that I am had the maidenliest star in the firmament twinkled on my bastardizing."
If there is one sound philosophical dictum in the play, it is this. (I am not going to argue with astrologers in the twentieth century.)
It is one we can test. On questions of morality and religion opinions veer; but if Shakespeare was a leader of thought, he saw through the humbug of star-gazers; if not, he was a credulous fool; not the one man of his time, not a "debauched genius" (for Sir R. Burton in this phrase has in a sense anticipated my discovery) but a mere Elizabethan.
This is the greatest poet of all time? Then we must believe that Gloucester was right, and that eclipses caused the fall of Lear! Observe that before this Shakespeare has had a sly dig or two at magic. In King John, "My lord, they say five moons were seen tonight" --- but there is no eyewitness. So in Macbeth. In a host of spiritual suggestion there is always the rational sober explanation alongside to discredit the folly of the supernatural.
Shakespeare is like his own Touchstone; he uses his folly as a stalking- horse, and under the presentation of that he shoots his wit.
Here, however, the mask if thrown off for any but the utterly besotted; Edmund's speech stands up in the face of all time as truth; it challenges the acclamation of the centuries.
Edmund is then the hero; more, he is Shakespeare's own portrait of himself; his ways are dark (and, alas! his tricks are vain!) --- for why? For the fear of the conventional world about him.
He is illegitimate: Shakespeare is no true child of that age, but born in defiance of it and its prejudices.
Having taken this important step, let us slew round the rest of the play to fit it. If it fits, the law of probability comes to our aid; every coincidence multiplies the chance of our correctness in ever increasing proportion. We shall see --- and you may look up your Proctor --- that if the stars are placed just so by chance, not law, then also it may be possible that Shakespeare was the wool-combing, knock-kneed, camel-backed, church-going, plaster-of-Paris stick-in-the-mud our scholars have always made of him.
Edmund being the hero, Regan and Goneril must be the heroines. So nearly equal are their virtues and beauties that our poet cannot make up his mind which shall possess him --- besides which, he wishes to drive home his arguments in favor of polygamy.
But the great theme of the play is of course filial duty; on this everything will turn. Here is a test: Whenever this question is discussed, let us see who speaks the language of sense, and who that of draggle-tailed emotionalism and tepid melodrama.
In the first scene the heroines, who do not care for the old fool their father --- as how could any sane woman? Remember Shakespeare is here about to show the folly of filial love as such --- feel compelled, by an act of gracious generosity to a man they despise, yet pity, to say what they think will please the dotard's vanity. Also no doubt the sound commercial instinct was touched by Lear's promise to make acres vary as words, and they determine to make a final effort to get some parsnips buttered after all.
Shakespeare (it is our English boast) was no long-haired squiggle self- yclpt bard; but a business man --- see Bishop Blougram's appreciation of his as such.
Shall we suppose him to have deliberately blackguarded in another his own best qualities?
Note, too, the simple honesty of the divine sisters! Others, more subtle, would have suspected a trap, arguing that such idiocy as Lear's could not be genuine --- Cordelia, the Madame Humbert of the play, does so; her over- cleverness leaves her stranded: yet by a certain sliminess of dissimulation, the oiliness of frankness, the pride that apes humility, she does catch the best king going. Yet it avails her little. She is hanged like the foul Vivien she is.2
Cordelia's farewell to her sisters shows up the characters of the three in strong relief. Cordelia --- without a scrap of evidence to go on --- accuses her sisters of hypocrisy and cruelty. (This could not have previously existed, or Lear would not have been deceived.)
Regan gravely rebukes her; recommends, as it were, a course of Six Easy Lessons in Minding Her Own Business; and surely it was unparalleled insolence on the part of a dismissed girl to lecture her more favoured sister on the very point for which she herself was at that moment being punished. It is the spite of baffled dissimulation against triumphant honesty. Goneril adds a word of positive advice. "You," she says in effect, "who prate of duty thus, see you show it to him unto whom you owe it."
That this advice is wasted is clear form Act V, Scene iii, where the King of France takes the first trivial opportunity3 to be free of the vile creature he had so foolishly married.
Cordelia goes, and the sisters talk together. Theirs is the language of quiet sorrow for an old man's failing mind; yet a most righteous determination not to allow the happiness of the English people to depend upon his whims. Bad women would have rejoiced in the banishment of Kent, whom they already knew to be their enemy; these truly good women regret it. "Such unconstant starts are we like to have from him as this of Kent's banishment" (Act I, Scene i, ll. 304-5).
In Scene ii Edmund is shown; he feels himself a man, more than Edgar: a clear-headed, brave, honourable man; but with no maggots. The injustice of his situation strikes him; he determines not to submit.4
This is the attitude of a strong man, and a righteous one. Primogeniture is wrong enough; the other shame, no fault of his, would make the blood of any free man boil.
Gloucester enters, and exhibits himself as a prize fool by shouting in disjointed phrases what everybody knew. Great news it is, of course, and on discovering Edmund, he can think of nothing more sensible than to ask for more! "Kent banished thus! And France in choler parted! And the king gone tonight! Subscrib'd his power! Confin'd to exhibition! All this done upon the gad! Edmund, how now! what news?" (Act I, Scene ii, ll. 23-26).
Edmund "forces a card" by the simple device of a prodigious hurry to hide it. Gloucester gives vent to his astrological futilities, and falls to anxiomania in its crudest form --- "We have seen the best of our time: machinations, hollowness, treachery, and all ruinous disorders, follow us disquietly to our graves" (Scene ii, ll. 125-127).
Edmund, once rid of him, gives us the plainest sense we are likely to hear for the rest of our lives; then, with the prettiest humour in the world takes the cue of his father's absurdity, and actually plays it on his enemy. Edgar's leg is not so easily pulled --- "How long have you been a sectary astronomical?" (ll. 169, 170) --- and the bastard hero, taking alarm, gets right down to business.
In Scene iii we find Lear's senile dementia taking the peculiarly loathsome forms familiar to alienists --- this part of my subject is so unpleasant that I must skim over it; I only mention it to show how anxious Shakespeare is to show his hidden meaning, otherwise his naturally delicate mind would have avoided the depiction of such phenomena.
All this prepares us for Scene iv, in which we get a glimpse of the way Lear's attendants habitually behave. Oswald, who treats Lear throughout with perfect respect, and only shows honest independence in refusing to obey a man who is not his master, is insulted in language worthier of a bargee than a king; and when he remonstrates in dignified and temperate language is set upon by the ruffianly Kent.
Are decent English people to complain when Goneril insists that this sort of thing shall not occur in a royal house? She does so, in language nobly indignant, yet restrained: Lear, in the hideous, impotent rage of senility, calls her --- his own daughter --- a bastard (no insult to her, but to himself or his wife, mark ye well!). Albany enters (a simple, orderly-minded man; he must not be confused with Cornwall); he is at the last Lear's dog; yet even he in decent measured speech sides with his wife. Is Lear quieted? No! He utters the most horrible curse, not excepting that of Count Cenci, that a father ever pronounced. Incoherent threats succeed to the boilings-over of the hideous malice of a beastly mind; but a hundred knights are a hundred knights, and a threat is a threat. Goneril had not fulfilled her duty to herself, to her people, had she allowed this monster of mania to go on.
I appeal to the medical profession; if one doctor will answer me that a man using Lear's language should be allowed control of a hundred armed ruffians (in the face of Kent's behaviour we know what weight to attach to Lear's defence: "Detested kite! thou liest" --- I, iv, l. 286), should ever be allowed outside a regularly appointed madhouse, I will cede the point, and retire myself into an asylum.
In fact, Lear is going mad; the tottering intellect, at no time strong ("'Tis the infirmity of age; yet he hath ever but slenderly known himself," I, i, ll. 296-7), is utterly cast down by drink and debauchery: he even sees it himself, and with a pointless bestiality --- from the Fool, fit companion for the king --- and in that word we see all the concentrated loathing of the true Shakespeare for a despotism, massed in one lurid flame, phantasmagoric horror, the grim First Act rolls down.
1. The lamented decease of the above gentleman forbids all hope (save through the courtesy of
Sir Oliver Lodge) of the appearance of the companion article. - A. C.
2. I use the word Vivien provisionally, pending the appearance of an essay to prove that Lord
Tennyson was in secret an ardent reformer of our lax modern morals. No doubt, there
is room for this. Vivien was perfectly right about the "cycle of strumpets and scoundrels
whom Mr. Tennyson has set revolving round the figure of his central wittol," and she was
the only one with the courage to say so, and the brains to strip off the barbarous glitter
from an idiotic and phantom chivalry.
3, He leaves her in charge of Marshal Le Fer, whom alone he could trust to be impervious to her
wiles, he being devoted to another; for, as an invaluable contemporary MS. has it,
"Seccotine colle même Le Fer."
4. This may be, but I think should not be, used as an argument to prove the poet an illegitimate
son of Queen Elizabeth.
|You stand your post in eerie still,
|The night moves slowly on,
|Above the hill
|The moon is chill;
|You're waiting for the dawn.
|The plain below is lost in sleep,
|The sombre rocks are old,
|The snow is deep
|Where shadows creep
|And, somehow, very cold.
|But in that endless time you stand
|'Tween midnight and the day
|You try your hand
|Why war should come your way.
|You think of Home, and what it meant
|To leave the ones you love;
|The song you sent
|When Holy Lent
|Proclaimed the World above.
|You think of little things we know
|That make us what we are
|A guy named Joe,
|A movie show,
|Or working on your car.
|At times it seems but yesterday
|That Mother's cheeks were wet
|With tears that lay,
|And seemed to say,
|"My son, please don't forget."
|Or then again it's Father, who
|With voice so gruff and slow
|Was proud of you;
|It thrilled him through
|To see you turn and go.
|This is that private history
|A man may not confide.
|Will keep him warm . . . inside.
First published in The Grady Project #2 (Oakland: Thelema Lodge, O.T.O., December 1987 e.v.).
Derived from a lecture series in 1977 e.v. by Bill Heidrick
Copyright © Bill Heidrick
This will be a longish series, but less meandering than the last (Abra- Melin). These lectures were originally intended to form the basis for a correspondence course on Qabalah. The course never got off the ground, but many of the booklets and short pieces intended for it have appeared in and out of the TLC. From time to time reference will be made to those bits to avoid unnecessary duplication. Back issues of the TLC are available at $1.00 each.
We will start with the basics, a little history, a few terms and some myth. This portion belongs to the Malkut meeting of the original class and will wend it's way for some little time. With minor excursions into the supernals toward the end, each class had it's meetings identified with the lower seven Sephirot of the Qabalistic Tree.
If we were going to investigate every aspect of Qabalah that dealt with Malkut, we wouldn't have enough space to get it in. Among other things, physical practices will be left out. The Hassidim, for example, have gone through many different practices of this nature, including rolling in nettles, frequent baths --- all manner of physical techniques. We will mainly be working on a mental plane. There will be some introductory material on the Tree of Life. The Emanation treatment will be given emphasis in discussing the type of Qabalah called Ma'aseh Berashit --- which signifies the way, work or path of the beginning. Berashit also provides methods of interpretation of Sacred Scripture (the Torah begins with the word "Berashit" in Hebrew), and it is the form of Qabalah that is easiest to learn. Ma'aseh Berashit includes the study of Gematria, the mysticism of the Hebrew letters, Noteriqon and the elements of the classic Tree of Life diagram. The other traditional form of Qabalah is Ma'aseh Merkabah. This is advanced. It refers to the Chariot of Ezekiel and the portion of the Torah or Old Testament that deals with great visions and great efforts. There are many other distinctions between these two roads of Qabalah. Body meditation and sensory correspondences will be studied near the end of the Malkut segment, as will activities that reflect the ten sephiroth and the 22 paths.
Tree of Life from Oedipus Aegyptiacus,
A. Kircher, 1653 e.v.
Qabalah has gone through many changes. It's difficult to say exactly what it was in its own beginnings, because they are lost in time. The word Qabalah was not used for these studies before the 10th century. Qabalah means Oral Tradition. It combines many elements of religion and mysticism that were in use around the first century e.v. Although the most cohesive portions of Qabalah center on interpretation of the written word, there are fragments from Gnosticism and from virtually all the ancient Religions around the Eastern Mediterranean. There are ideas reminiscent of Yoga and approaches to worship that are sometimes quite far from modern Judaism. Although the study of Qabalah can be nonsecular, it cannot be divorced from the splendid Jewish heritage that preserved these traditions down to the European Renaissance.
During the Renaissance, a particular Tree of Life diagram appeared in Oedipus Aegyptiacus, a Latin work by Kircher, which included a presentation of Qabalah as it was available to the Christians of that day. The Zohar and other works had been published and commented before, but they are very difficult. This is the form of the Tree of Life that ultimately came down through the Order of the Golden Dawn. There are many other things here besides those stressed in Masonic and Magical Orders. E.g., the 365 negative precepts or laws and 248 positive laws are the Law of the Books of the Torah and O. T., the Jewish Law. One of the functions of this kind of diagram is to make sense of complex things. This diagram was intended to be used in literary criticism. Consider a poem. There will be many things in a complex one, many levels of meaning. Some of the meanings may be concealed in tropes, statements which apparently say one thing but mean another. A common trope in occult literature is the statement that such and such is necessary, or that another thing is impossible or is wrong. These are not statements of truth, but examples of mental control or patterning. Unless the reader can see on many levels, understand on many planes and many different ways, an expression like that is almost impossible to get through. A superficial reader can only stagger around it, fight with it in places and accept it in others. An approach on many levels of interpretation allows a reader to understand many different things all at the same time. The ten Sephiroth can be considered as levels of awareness and categories of interpretation. They can also be viewed as stages in creation or steps in evolution from the material to the spiritual. These are broadly different approaches, both used in different ways in the two divisions of Qabalah. Ma'aseh Berashit, the work of the beginning, says that the Sephirot are stages of creation. That focuses on the stories of the creation of the World, a thing of myth, not because it is untrue, but because the form of the literature is story telling. The Sephirot also depict the process of human creative activity. A natural cycle of human development from infancy to adulthood can be shown in these same Sephirot in their downward and upward sequence on the Tree of Life. That is part of Ma'aseh Berashit, mainly the work from Keter at the top of the Tree down to Malkut at the bottom, from the abstract to the concrete. Ma'aseh Merkabah often emphasizes the other way, from bottom to top. This can be highly confusing. Both approaches to Qabalah appear to talk about the same thing; only where one says left the other says right, where one usually says Ten first, the other more often says One first. For that reason, Ma'aseh Berashit will be stressed in the Malkut through Netzach sections of this series, to avoid this confusion. Later we will get a little more into Merkabah. Once Berashit is defined by usage, Merkabah will be easier to distinguish.
For now, consider a story of the creation. According to legend, in the beginning of the world, all that we know and can ever see in mystical experiences was created by divine utterance. Another way of recounting the creation uses light as a metaphor, but that will be taken up later in this discussion. For now, consider the metaphor of sound. The universe was created in stages by the uttering of the sounds that constitute the Hebrew Alphabet. Each letter was spoken in its turn and passed out of the mouth of the creator like a great sword carving some-thing out of no-thing. At first lights in the eyes of the creator flashed out with such radiance that no form could be manifest in them, for they were too strong. Next each letter was spoken until finally only the last sound remained. Of course, that last sound was the first of the Alphabet. Everything goes in reverse from the divine plane to the material. The letter or sound that remained inside the mouth of the creating deity is the letter Aleph, the vital essence that unites the universe to its origin. This shows us something very special about the Hebrew language. The 22 letters of the Hebrew Alphabet all have sounds except the letter Aleph, the first letter of that alphabet. It cannot be spoken without vowel pointing or conjunction with other letters. The letter Aleph is not identified with a sound, but rather a breath of air. All the other letters derive their strength from that breath. Our vocal cords vibrate, our mouth shapes, but the rush of air that produces these sounds is Aleph. Aleph is the essence behind the pronunciation of all the other letters. This is how the myth embodies the principle that everything depends on the creator. The pure sounds of the letters issuing from the mouth of the creating deity represent the most abstract level of creation. These sounds combine to make words. This is another stage or level in creation. When we visualize things about us that embody what the words mean, the concrete is approached. When those visualizations are matched to actual objects, we have reached the sensory world, another level. There is something below that and beyond the power of our minds to identify with meaning, the physical world itself.
This utterance of sound is like the slashing of a sword. The sword of creation issues from the mouth of the creator, sometimes also likened to a bolt of lightning. In this image the letter Aleph is the pommel of the sword, the part that is still concealed and cannot be reached. As the other letters are spoken, certain accumulations of force occur, changes of inflection in the voice like gatherings of power or pauses in speech. These become the stages of creation in another way. The Sephirot: Keter, Chokmah, Binah, Chesed, Geburah, Tipheret, Netzach, Hod, Yesod and Malkut are names given to such things. Here is another system that is at one time simpler and more complex, a shift of attention. Instead of 22 sounds uttered in a strange pattern, we now have ten gatherings of force. This is again, Berashit, not Merkabah. Merkabah sometimes uses the snake that crawls up the tree, stitching the Sephirot together after they have been perceived.
How would this be more sensible in a human way? You are born to Keter. There is nothing other than simple existence. Whatever may be left from a previous incarnation is not available to be seen. The baby is a being with great potential but limited expression. It doesn't seem to know what it's doing. If it's wet, it cries. If it wants attention, it cries. It sleeps. It eats. In time the baby begins to notice human beings and to see that some time in the day is cold and sometime warm. This is Chokmah, change, no longer simple existence. Then Binah is reached; and the baby becomes a child, able to think more generally, to deliberately act within a certain limit. This child lives in a place with parents or guardians, the Garden of Eden, the childhood home.
Initially the connection to incarnation is very delicate. Next comes an idealized state; the child can really do no wrong, because it is still too young. In the Garden, rules begin to be imposed on the child, rules that can be broken but not fully understood. Next the child reaches the age of going to school, Chesed, still somewhat in the home but now more exposed to the outside world. The child is no longer entirely within the Garden of Eden, close to the gate and sometimes outside. If the child makes too much noise, the parents say; "Go out and play." Thus the Angel with the sword; the Angel that was ministering and protecting now seems menacing and threatening. The influence of Geburah commences in earnest as the child gets farther from the gate and closer to the end of the teen years. Now it's not: "Do this and if you don't there's limited punishment." Now it's: "If you steal a car you go to prison." Gradually allowances for youth abate: "That's not a kid anymore. That's somebody close enough to my age that I'm not going to take any of this shit from him." Morality starts coming down thick and strong as punishment and force administered to a growing human being.
At Tipheret the child is a young adult, a person who is old enough to set up housekeeping. At Tipheret the person has settled under the control of Geburah. Many people have difficulty passing down this way and end up locked away for many years. Assuming natural growth, most people will eventually reach Tipheret and set up shop. They may have started a family and the pattern of life begins to show. At Netzach the pattern seems to be flawed. There are obviously desirable things that are missing from life. The individual begins to become aware of these. Hunger comes in, hunger for other things. Those things are sought in Hod. Life is restructured to be better and more substantial. In later middle age Yesod is reached. This is the point where effort diminishes. There is a right way and a wrong way, with a struggle finding out which is which. The person realizes: "If it doesn't bother, let it go. Let it flow, let it happen." Life partakes of a more integral form. It's less effort. It's less a sense of "mind" and more of "happening". Finally Malkut comes with old age and eventual death. There is no longer any question. Life is settled and takes care of itself. It exists, and that's enough.
This is one way of humanizing the stages of creation and seeking on a more concrete level just what this is. There are other ways. We will look at them in a bit.
Excerpt from a letter by Crowley to Karl Germer:
"From Letter from 666, Sept, 16, 1946"
The difference between A A and the O.T.O. is very clear and simple. The A A is a sempiternal institution and entirely secret. There is no communication between its members. Theoretically, a member knows only the superior who introduced him, and any person whom he himself has introduced. The Order is run on purely spiritual lines.
The Object of membership is also entirely simple. The first objective is the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel. The next objective, omitting considerations for the present of the 6 = 5, and the 7 = 4 degrees, is the crossing of the Abyss, and the attainment of mastership of the Temple. This is described very fully especially in Liber 418. Much less is written about the 5 = 6 degree, i.e., the Knowledge and Conversation, because it is too secret and individual. It is impossible to lay down conditions, or to describe the experiences involved in detail.
The O.T.O. has nothing to do with this, except that the BOOK OF THE LAW and the Word of the Aeon are essential principles of membership. In all other respects, it stands by itself as a body similar to Freemasonry, but involving acceptance of a social and economic system which is intended to put the world on its feet. There is also, of course, the secret of the IXth which is, so to say, the weapon which they may use to further these purposes.
To show you the difference, Theodor Reuss was Supreme Head of the O.T.O., but was not even probationer of the A A.
"When in California I had been asked for a formal and official statement on the above subject, so I asked 666 for it, and here it is.:
From The Constitutions of The Order of Thelemites (A document by Crowley establishing a short-lived effort in South Africa during the 1920's under James Thomas Windram):
"We, , 666, 9 = 2 A A () hereby ordinate constitute and appoint Magne Honoratum Fra "Semper Paratum" 6 = 5 A A (James Thomas Windram) as sole and supreme authority in the Order of Thelemites, responsible to Us only...."
7.(a) "I am the flame that burns in
every heart of man, and in the
core of every star. I am Life,
and the giver of Life; yet therefore
is the knowledge of me the
knowledge of Death."
The general plan of the O. T. O. shall be put before all members
of the Order so that they may be brought to an understanding of the sublime
principles of that Order, which seek ---
(1) to instruct the individual by allegory and symbol in the profound
mysteries of birth, life, and death, and thereby to assist him to discover the
true nature of his purpose in life; and
(2) to train the community in the most enlightened institutions,
wherein the True Will of the Individual and the Community will be developed
and held inviolate.
J asked if his A A training would be a fit topic to introduce when applying to join O.T.O.
The simplest thing is to say you have studied. If they follow that up, you can ease into your A A training experience. The problem is in the variety of people who claim A A. Some have managed to give a bad name to the rest. Strictly speaking, A A affiliation is formally kept separate from O.T.O. affiliation; mainly at Crowley's insistence. The two orders compliment one another. To mix them in some ways is harmful and in others beneficial. O.T.O. benefits A A by conserving A A materials. A A benefits O.T.O. by being available through a number of channels for O.T.O. members, including study of the Libers. There's more to it, but the division of A A membership from O.T.O. membership in the venue of each order is very important. Outer and Inner orders destroy each other if they overlap too much, like fire and water. Simply being in A A and O.T.O. at the same time is rarely a problem. Allowing the two to mix by comparison of A A and O.T.O. degrees or attainments is deadly to both --- witness the disruption in Motta's S.O.T.O. where the line was poorly drawn. Crowley would call this "confusion of the planes".
O.T.O. degrees are rites of passage, among other things. To mingle them with other rites of passage is to diminish their focus. That does not mean that Pagan, G D and A A experiences are without value. On the contrary, they will help a person utilize O.T.O. experiences. The hazard is in the area of diminishing the O.T.O. experience by diffusion into other experiences at the time of initiation and during the time of seeing the development of what initiation starts. It's like the idea of a lock and key. The door into the sanctuary may be fastened by any lock; but, if the perfectly good key to another lock is applied to the actual lock in use, no opening of the sanctuary will result. O.T.O. degrees use social interaction, the pattern of human development and the pattern of the chakras to function (the lock, as it were). G D and A A Grades use a mental structure based on the Sephirot and paths of the Tree of Life as the "lock". Pagan practices usually do have an element of the pattern of human development, but generally also employ a specific myth to set the lock to be opened. It's like the different types of music. You can't do jazz the same way you do classical, although 18th century chamber music had elements of both. Avoidance of confusion of the planes is the thing.
N asked about the "four who entered paradise":
Pardis () is an acronym or noteriqon having the simple meaning of "Garden", cognate to the English "Paradise" and the expansion: Peshoth (), Ramen (), Darosh
(), Sod (). In order: Literal, symbolic, allegorical, mystical. These are the four Qabalistic Worlds used as categories of literary criticism. The whole 32-part tree originated as a device or Briata of 32 for analysis of meaning of literature and spoken words. Since human thought works by a similar construction to human expression, it fits well as a universal model of categorization. The Four Who Entered Paradise are categories of those who have attained mystical goals by these four methods, further symbolized by the four paths across the Abyss, excluding Gimel. This is no O.T.O. secret, but is found variously in many books expounding Qabalah, e.g. Waite's The Holy Kabbalah p. 198 & ff. Death=Literal=Chet, Silence=Symbolic=Zain, Mad=Allegory=Heh, Atheist=Mystical=Vau --- more or less; the fit isn't perfect and tends to have variations.
Incidentally, the Hebrew word for Abyss is Abadah = , with only left out of the first five letters of the alphabet taken in order.
Ordo Templi Orientis
Fairfax, CA 94978
|Brigid ritual in afternoon
|Thelema Lodge initiation 7:30PM
call to attend.
|Gnostic Mass 7:30PM Horus Temple
|Thelema Lodge Meeting 8:00PM
(& Lodge History night)
|Sirius Oasis meeting in Berkeley 8PM
|Thelema Lodge Library night 8PM
(call to attend)
|Sustaining Members' Lunch 1 PM
|Gnostic Mass 7:30PM Horus Temple
|Section 2 reading group, 8PM at OZ
Shakespeare's Tempest w/Caitlin
|Minerval Magick Class 8PM
with Fr. Majnun. Minervals & up.only
|Magick in Theory and Practice class
with Bill in San Anselmo 7:30PM
|Butterfly Net Computer Group 8:00PM
|Gnostic Mass 7:30PM Horus Temple
|Thelema Lodge Library night 8PM
(call to attend)
|Liber XV Study Group w. Bp. T
|Astrology of Pisces with Grace
7-9PM, Berkeley. Call to attend.
|777 Poetry Society 7:30PM w.Fr.P.I.
|Gnostic Mass 7:30PM Horus Temple
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.
Ordo Templi Orientis
P.O. Box 2303
Berkeley, CA 94702 USA
Phone: (510) 652-3171 (for events info and contact to Lodge)
Production and Circulation:
Fairfax, CA 94978 USA
Internet: email@example.com (Submissions and circulation only)