Thelema Lodge Calendar for February 1996 e.v.

Thelema Lodge Calendar

for February 1996 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.

Copyright © O.T.O. and the Individual Authors, 1996 e.v.

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

February 1996 e.v. at Thelema Lodge

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

Announcements from
Lodge Members and Officers


Feast of Brigid

The mid-point between Winter Solstice and the Vernal Equinox has traditionally been celebrated at Thelema Lodge as the Feast of Brigid, which corresponds approximately with the calendrical holiday of Candlemas. A rough and ready calculation has Sol going 15° Aquarius about 4:15 AM on Sunday morning 4th February, which is also the morning of the full moon (in Leo at 7:58 AM). A trip to the well -- a return to the fountain of life -- is the traditional rite for this season, and it ought certainly be a prime night for jacking and jilling. For a ritual of magical conception at Thelema Lodge we have planned on the preceding evening to open the feast of Brigid with initiations into O.T.O., to be followed by a dinner feast with the new Minervals. Arrive by 6:00 on Saturday evening 3rd February, with attendance limited to active initiate members only. All are invited to contribute to the feast or bring drinks, but please be sure to make your plans -- even if tentative -- known several days ahead of time to the lodge officers, so that we may know whom to expect and how many to prepare for. The following night, Sunday 4th February, we will conclude Brigid observations in Horus Temple, with a special celebration of the Gnostic Mass (another ritual of magical conception).


Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica

We celebrate a weekly performance of Aleister Crowley's Gnostic Mass (Liber XV) in Horus Temple, to which the lodge invites all members, friends, and guests whose will it is to participate with us in the communion. Those who have not attended the gnostic mass before, or who are newcomers to our lodge, are requested to call (510) 652-3171 for information and directions before attending. Recently Bishop T Dionysus had occasion to describe this E.G.C. service to a correspondent who inquired about "the O.T.O. church," and he has allowed us to extract the following paragraph from his letter:
"At Thelema Lodge the mass is held every Sunday at roughly 8:00 PM (or later, especially during the summer). The lodge is in a nice house in the Rockridge district of Oakland; the Temple is in a large front room, next to an entryway and anteroom that serves as the lodge's library. As to who comes, it varies widely, both from week to week and over time. At any given period there has been a core group of potential attendees of a couple dozen to a couple hundred. Actual regular attendance has varied from a half a dozen to over three dozen on rare occasions. These days there are usually between a dozen and twenty communicants. They are a mixture of very active and/or veteran O.T.O. members, less active and/or newer members, and non-O.T.O. regular communicants and/or complete strangers. They represent a fairly diverse collection of personalities and styles. You never know if you'll meet a punk, a biker, a Deadhead, a heavy-metalist, an intellectual elitist yuppie, or even a liberal Christian minister!"


Gatherings and Events

Thelema Lodge is proud to host a monthly reading group led by Clay Holden of the John Dee Society, meeting next on Monday evening 19th February in the lodge library at 8:00. Join us in our reading and explication of Dee's manuscript journal Liber Mysteriorum Secundus, into which he transcribed the visions and the voices reported by Edward Kelly as he peered into Dee's crystal sphere. In the middle of March 1582, Dee and Kelly were engaged in the series of extended skrying investigations which painstakingly established, letter by letter, the coded outer ring of their universal talisman, the Sigillum Dei Aemaeth. After demanding an oath of secrecy from Dee, the various spiritual beings Kelly perceived within the sphere ceremonially demonstrate what the angel Michael calls "a Mystery, skarse worthy for us ourselves to know, muche lesse to Reveale . . ." which is to show "in the mighty hand and strength of God . . . the true Circle of his aeternitie, comprehending all vertue." Forty childlike creatures appear, one for each of the sections of the sigil's rim, and amid earth-shattering elemental disturbances, blood and thunder, gorgeous costumes, disrobings and dismemberments, and many a graceful flourish, they enact for Dee a divine revelation in the form of a court masque, as each in its own fashion manifests the letter and number that it bears. Michael then delivers a technical lecture on the Enochian encryption system, which is fully illustrated as the interior details of the "God's Seal: the Truth" are revealed.

Last month's planning meeting for the "Anglemas" Enochian liturgy project was postponed and will be held on Sunday afternoon 4th February at 2:00 in the lodge library. Omnia Unum est. Help us choose a direction for future rites and conjurations. (Harps are optional.)

The O.T.O. is often described as an Hermetic brotherhood. The Corpus Hermeticum, a collection of treatises attributed to the legendary Egyptian magus Hermes Trismegistus, is the text at the root of Hermeticism. On Sunday afternoon 18th February at 2:00 in the lodge library, we will examine the first (and possibly the best) chapter of the Corpus Hermeticum, called Poimandres, or "The Shepherd of Men." Join us for an afternoon of discussion and contemplation of the Mind as God. Led by Michael Sanborn, this group will be using the recent translation by Brian Copenhaver, which for the first time makes a clear, accurate text of the Hermetica available to English readers. (We will have several copies to pass around, but a paperback edition of this version has just been published, which is well worth shopping for.) This sample passage is a locus classicus of essential Hermetic thinking:
First, in releasing the material body you give the body itself over to alteration, and the form that you used to have vanishes. To the demon you give over your temperament, now inactive. The body's senses rise up and flow back to their particular sources, becoming separate parts and mingling again with the energies. And feeling and longing go on toward irrational nature. Thence the human being rushes up through the cosmic framework, at the first zone surrendering the energy of increase and decrease; at the second evil machination, a device now inactive; at the third the illusion of longing, now inactive; at the fourth the ruler's arrogance, now freed of excess; at the fifth unholy presumption and daring recklessness; at the sixth the evil impulses that come from wealth, now inactive; and at the seventh zone the deceit that lies in ambush. And then, stripped of the effects of the cosmic framework, the human enters the region of the ogdoad; he has his own proper power, and . . . . he also hears certain powers that exist beyond the ogdoadic region . . . . [He and his companion spirits] surrender themselves to the powers, and having become powers they enter into god. This is the final good for those who have received knowledge: to be made god."

The theme of the February Astrological Study Group appropriately will be the planet Venus, the Goddess of love and beauty. Where Venus is found in an astrological chart reveals a great deal about the values of the person or event concerned. And what Venus values most, of course, as personal relationships and possessions and other VALUEables. Bring your chart and/or birth data, and we will explore how Venus manifests in your life. The meeting takes place at Grace's Temple of Astrology on Friday 23rd February from 7:00 to 9:00 in the evening. To attend please call (510) 843-STAR for directions.

Caitlin is on vacation this month, and the Section Two reading group will not meet in February. Be sure to party down for Shrove Tuesday on 20th February; the Frog croaked for You! Next month for Section Two we will be reading George Meredith's The Shaving of Shagpat (1855), in the style of the Arabian Nights; and those planning to attend in April would do well to read ahead into Sir Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur.

Previous Section Two                   Next Section Two

Attendance has been up at Library Nights lately at Thelema Lodge, which is hardly surprising considering the quality of our growing collection of magical, historical, and reference materials, as well as light reading and occult fiction of all sorts. Always call ahead or make advance arrangements to use the library. This month Monday evening 5th February and Wednesday evening 28th February are scheduled as proposed library nights, but these dates may sometimes be changed by request.

Our business and calendar meeting and "lodge luncheon" is scheduled for Sunday afternoon 11th February, from 12:30 till 2:30. Please let the lodgemaster know in advance that you'll be planning to attend, so that our meal can be efficiently organized. Calendar plans and future lodge events are continually being discussed amongst the membership, and our luncheon meeting serves as a deadline for calendar descriptions and formal plans to be announced for the coming month. Those unable to attend the meeting are asked to provide their contributions to the lodgemaster before this luncheon date.

The Sirius Oasis Meeting is on Monday evening 26th February, beginning at 8:00 in the home of the oasis master in north Berkeley; call ahead for information and directions at (510) 527-2855. You are also likely to encounter members of Sirius Oasis, along with many other pagans, Thelemites, and occultists, at PantheaCon96, which will be held on 16-19th February at the Red Lion Hotel in San Jose. Including everything from the Klingon Ritual to workshops in animal communication, the history of Gardnerian wicca, and dozens of classes, ritual circles, lectures, performances, and parties, this year's Con will be even bigger and better than the last. To attend this event, which is highly recommended by Thelema Lodge but in no way connected with O.T.O., contact Ancient Ways at (510) 653-3248.


Crowley Classics

This essay was originally to have been included in the February 1918 e.v. issue of The International (New York), pages 47-51. The magazine never published that issue, and an editorial notice the following month simply extends all subscriptions for an extra month, without explanation. After typesetting, and final correction of page-proofs by the author (from which the piece has been edited for the present publication), the whole issue was withdrawn. Most likely compliance with the new war-time sedition laws proved daunting for editor George Sylvester Viereck, who had been openly propagandizing for sympathy with Germany since 1914. When US soldiers were at last sent in large numbers to Europe at the beginning of 1918, the Congress suspended many freedoms of expression, and Viereck passed on the actual editorial management of The International to Aleister Crowley for the last few months before a completely new editorial team assumed control in April of that year. Copyright © O.T.O.
We will be presenting this article in halves, with this month's installment to be followed in March by the concluding portion.

Absinthe - The Green Goddess

by Aleister Crowley

I.

Keep always this dim corner for me, that I may sit while the Green Hour glides, a proud pavane of Time. For I am no longer in the city accursed, where Time is horsed on the white gelding Death, his spurs rusted with blood.
There is a corner of the United States which he has overlooked. It lies in New Orleans, between Canal Street and Esplanade Avenue; the Mississippi for its base. Thence it reaches northward to a most curious desert land, where is a cemetery lovely beyond dreams, its walls low and whitewashed, within which straggles a wilderness of strange and fantastic tombs; and hard by is that great city of brothels which is so cynically mirthful a neighbor. As Félicien Rops wrote -- or was it Edmond d'Haraucourt? -- "la Prostitution et la Mort sont frère et soeur -- les fils de Dieu!"1 At least the poet of La Légende des Sexes was right, and the psycho-analysts after him, in identifying the Mother with the Tomb. This, then, is only the beginning and end of things, this quartier macabre beyond the North Rampart; and the Mississippi on the other side, is like the space between our life which flows, and fertilizes as it flows, muddy and malarious as it may be, to empty itself into the warm bosom of the Gulf Stream, which (in our allegory) we may call the Life of God.
But our business is with the heart of things; we must go beyond the crude phenomena of nature if we are to dwell in the spirit. Art is the soul of life; and the Old Absinthe House is heart and soul of the old quarter of New Orleans.
For here was the headquarters of no common man -- no less than a real pirate -- of Captain Lafitte, who not only robbed his neighbors, but defended them against invasion. Here, too, sat Henry Clay, who lived and died to give his name to a cigar. Outside this house no man remembers much more of him than that; but here, authentic and, as I imagine, indignant, his ghost stalks grimly.
Here, too, are marble basins hollowed -- and hallowed! -- by the drippings of the water which creates by baptism the new spirit of absinthe.
I am only sipping the second glass of that "fascinating, but subtle poison, whose ravages eat men's heart and brain" that I have ever tasted in my life; and as I am not an American anxious for quick action, I am not surprised and disappointed that I do not drop dead upon the spot. But I can taste souls without the aid of absinthe; and besides, this is magic absinthe! The spirit of the house has entered into it; it is an elixir, the masterpiece of an old alchemist, no common wine.
And so, as I talk with the patron concerning the vanity of things, I perceive the secret of the heart of God himself; this, that everything, even the vilest thing, is so unutterably lovely that it is worthy of the devotion of a God for all eternity.
What other excuse could He give man for making him? In substance, that is my answer to King Solomon.

II.

The barrier between divine and human things is frail but inviolable; the artist and the bourgeois are only divided by a point of view. "A hair divides the false and true."
I am watching the opalescence of my absinthe, and it leads me to ponder upon a certain very curious mystery, persistent in legend. We may call it the mystery of the rainbow.
Originally, in the fantastic but significant legend of the Hebrews, the rainbow is mentioned as the sign of salvation. The world had been purified by water, and was ready for the revelation of Wine. God would never again destroy his work, but ultimately seal its perfection by a baptism of fire.
Now, in this analogue also falls the coat of many colors which was made for Joseph, a legend which was regarded as so important that it was subsequently borrowed for the romance of Jesus. The veil of the Temple, too, was of many colors. We find, further east, that the Manipura cakkra -- the Lotus of the City of Jewels -- which is an important centre in Hindu anatomy, and apparently identical with the solar plexus, is the central point of the nervous system of the human body, dividing the sacred from the profane, or the lower from the higher.
In western Mysticism, once more we learn that the middle grade of initiation is called Hodos Camelionis, the Path of the Cameleon; there is here evidently an allusion of this same mystery. We also learn that the middle stage in Alchemy is when the liquor becomes opalescent.
Finally, we note among the visions of the Saints one called the Universal Peacock, in which the totality of things is perceived thus royally apparelled.
Would it were possible to assemble in this place the cohorts of quotation; for indeed they are beautiful with banners, flashing their myriad rays from cothurn and habergeon, gay and gallant in the light of that Sun which knows no fall from Zenith of high noon!
Yet I must needs already have written so much to make clear one pitiful conceit: can it be that in the opalescence of absinthe is some occult link with this mystery of the Rainbow? For undoubtedly one glass does indefinably and subtly insinuate the drinker within the secret chamber of Beauty, does kindle his thoughts to rapture, adjusts his point of view to that of the artist, at least in that degree of which he is originally capable, weave for his fancy a gala dress of stuff as many-coloured as the mind of Aphrodite.
Oh Beauty! Long did I love thee, long did I pursue thee, thee elusive, thee intangible! And lo! thou enfoldest me by night and day in the arms of gracious, of luxurious, of shimmering silence.

III.

The Prohibitionist must always be a person of no moral character; for he cannot even conceive of the possibility of a man capable of resisting temptation. Still more, he is so obsessed, like the savage, by the fear of the unknown, that he regards alcohol as a fetish, necessarily alluring and tyrannical.
With this ignorance of human nature goes an even grosser ignorance of the divine nature.
He does not understand that the universe has only one possible purpose; that, the business of life being happily completed by the production of the necessities and luxuries incidental to comfort, the residuum of human energy needs an outlet. The surplus of Will must find issue in the elevation of the individual towards the godhead; and the method of such elevation is by religion, love, and art. Now these three things are indissolubly bound up with wine, for they are themselves species of intoxication.
Yet against all these things we find the prohibitionist, logically enough. It is true that he usually pretends to admit religion as a proper pursuit for humanity; but what a religion! He has removed from it every element of ecstasy or even of devotion; in his hands it has become cold, fanatical, cruel, and stupid; a thing merciless and formal, without sympathy or humanity. Love and art he rejects altogether; for him the only meaning of love is a mechanical -- hardly even physiological! -- process necessary for the perpetuation of the human race. (But why perpetuate it?) Art is for him the parasite and pimp of love; he cannot distinguish between the Apollo Belvedere and the crude bestialities of certain Pompeian frescoes, or between Rabelais and Elinor Glyn.
What then is his ideal of human life? One cannot say. So crass a creature can have no true ideal. There have been ascetic philosophers; but the prohibitionist would be as offended by their doctrine as by ours. These, indeed, are not so dissimilar as appears. Wage-slavery and boredom seem to complete his outlook on the world.
There are species which survive because of the feeling of disgust inspired by them; one is reluctant to set the heel firmly upon them, however thick may be one's boots. But when they are recognized as utterly noxious to humanity -- the more so that they ape its form -- then courage must be found, or, rather, nausea must be swallowed.
May God send us a Saint George!

IV.

It is notorious that all genius is accompanied by vice. Almost always this takes the form of sexual extravagance. It is to be observed that deficiency, as in the cases of Carlyle and Ruskin, is to be reckoned as extravagance. At least the word "abnormality" will fit all cases. Farther, we see that in a very large number of great men there has also been indulgence in drink or drugs. There are whole periods when practically every great man has been thus marked; these periods are those during which the heroic spirit has dried out of their nation, and the bourgeois is apparently triumphant.
In this case the cause is evidently the horror of life induced in the artist by the contemplation of his surroundings. He must find another world, no matter at what cost.
Consider the end of the eighteenth century. In France, the men of genius were made, so to speak, possible, by the Revolution. In England, under Castlereagh, we find Blake lost to humanity in mysticism, Shelley and Byron exiles. Coleridge taking refuge in opium, Keats sinking under the weight of circumstance, Wordsworth forced to sell his soul, while the enemy, in the persons of Southey and Moore, triumphantly holds sway.
The poetically similar period in France is 1850 to 1870. Hugo is in exile, and all his brethren are given to absinthe or to hashish or to opium.
There is however another consideration more important. There are some men who possess the understanding of the City of God, and know not the keys; or, if they possess them, have not force to turn them in the wards. Such men often seem to win heaven by forced credentials. Just so a youth who desires love is too often deceived by simulacra, embraces Lydia thinking her to be Lalage.
But the greatest men of all suffer neither the limitations of the former class nor the illusions of the latter. Yet we find them equally given to what is apparently indulgence. Lombroso has foolishly sought to find the source of this in madness -- as if insanity could scale the peaks of Progress while Reason recoiled from the bergschrund. The explanation is far otherwise. Imagine to yourself the mental state of him who inherits or attains the full consciousness of the artist, that is to say, the divine consciousness.
He finds himself unutterably lonely, and he must steel himself to endure it. All his peers are dead long since! Even if he find an equal upon earth, there can scarcely be companionship, hardly more than the far courtesy of king to king. (There are twin souls in genius -- rare even as twin stars.)
Good -- he can reconcile himself to the scorn of the world. But yet he feels with anguish his duty towards it. It is therefore essential to him to be human.
Now the divine consciousness is not full-flowered in youth. The newness of the objective world preoccupies the soul for many years. It is only as each illusion vanishes before the magic of the master that he gains more and more the power to dwell in the world of Reality. And with this comes the terrible temptation -- the desire to enter and enjoy rather than remain among men and suffer their illusions. Yet, since the soul purpose of the incarnation of such a Master was to help humanity, he must make the supreme renunciation. It is the problem of that dreadful bridge of Islam, Al Sirak; the razor-edge will cut the unwary foot, yet it must be trodden firmly, or the traveler will fall to the abyss. I dare not sit in the Old Absinthe House for ever, wrapped in the ineffable delight of the Beatific Vision. I must write this essay, that men may thereby come at last to understand true things. But the operation of the creative godhead is not enough. Art is itself too near the Reality which must be renounced for a season.
Therefore his work is also part of his temptation; the genius feels himself slipping constantly heavenward. The gravitation of eternity draws him. He is like a ship torn by the tempest from the harbour where the master must needs take on new passengers to the Happy Isles. So he must throw out anchors; and the only holding is the mire! Thus, in order to maintain the equilibrium of sanity, the artist is obliged to seek fellowship with the grossest of mankind. Like Lord Dunsany or Augustus John today, or like Teniers of old, he may love to sit in taverns where sailors frequent; he may wander the country with gypsies, or he may form liaisons with the vilest men and women. Edward Fitzgerald would seek an illiterate fisherman, and spend weeks in his company; Verlaine made associates of Rimbaud and Bibi la Purée; Shakespeare consorted with the Earles of Pembroke and Southampton; Marlowe was actually killed during a brawl in a low tavern. And when we consider the sex-relation, it is hard to mention a genius who had a wife or mistress of even tolerable good character. If he had one, he would be sure to neglect her for a Vampire or a Shrew. A good woman is too near that heaven of Reality which he is sworn to renounce!
And this, I suppose, is why I am interested in the woman who has come to sit at the nearest table. Let me find out her story; let us try to see with the eyes of her soul!

Note:
1. "Prostitution and Death are brother and sister -- the children of God!" -- trans. ED.

Previous Crowley Classics                   To be concluded next month


from the Grady Project:

The Magus

King Arthur reigns in Camelot
The Zodiac his Table Round
With Merlin Mage and Lancelot
And Fair Diana, crescent crowned.

    In groves at night your Golden Cup
    By Brother Nemo lifted up
    O Babalon the Beautiful!

Sir Palamede the Saracen
Rode forth to slay the Questing Beast
While Parsifal the Paladin
Has found his Wedding, Wine and Feast!

    In groves at night your Golden Cup
    By Brother Nemo lifted up
    O Babalon the Beautiful!

-- Grady L. McMurtry
4/61                  

Originally published in Grady McMurtry, Poems (London, England & Bergen, Norway: O.T.O., 1986).

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THE CORNERSTONE

Quotations Related to Symbolic, Philosophic,
and Historic Doctrines of Ancient
and Accepted Freemasonry,
selected by Frater Drax

. . . never in the history of the world has any ruler, no matter how powerful, been able to exterminate entirely a group as large as the Templars or to stamp out their cause. It seems absurd to think that a papal bull, even in the fourteenth century, could effect the mass execution of 50,000 members of such an order as were the Knights Templar. In addition, we find that Chivalric Freemasonry offers considerable internal evidence to show an organic connecting link between the two Orders. It is a well accepted fact that philosophical and esoteric organizations change form frequently and that, upon dissolution, their practices are taken up often by other organizations. Philosophers and students have pointed out the continuance of many differed ideas, which were apparently dead but which suddenly and without apparent cause have been revived when a new necessity arose.

--William M. Brown,
Highlights of Templar  History
(Greenfield, Indiana:
Mitchell Printing Co., 1944),
38-9.

The Mason does not dogmatize, but entertaining and uttering his own convictions, he leaves everyone else free to do the same; and only hopes that the time will come, even after the lapse of ages, when all men will form one great family of brethren and one law alone, the law of love, shall govern God's whole Universe.

--General Albert Pike 33°
A.A. Scottish Rite, Morals
and Dogma
(1871; new and
revised edition 1950), 232-3.

from a eulogy for George Washington, delivered before the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts:
The information received from our brethren who had the happiness to be members of the lodge over which he presided for many years, and of which he died the Master, furnishes abundant proof of his preserving zeal for the prosperity of the institution. Constant and punctual in his attendance, scrupulous in his observance of the regulations of the Lodge, and solicitous at all times to communicate light and instruction, he discharged the duties of the Chair with uncommon dignity and intelligence in all the mysteries of our art.

-- An Encyclopedia of
Freemasonry  and  its  Kindred
Sciences,
edited by Albert G.
Mackey 33° A.A. (New
York: Masonic Publ. Co.,
1921).

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An Introduction to Qabalah

Part XII -- Gender on the Tree. Pardis explained.

Derived from a lecture series in 1977 e.v. by Bill Heidrick
Copyright © Bill Heidrick

Qabalah is disproportionately the product of males, mostly the work of Rabbis. A problem arises from this. There are two things happening. One is a universalist approach where nobody is trying to force one bias or the other, male or female. The other is the approach of one man talking to another, saying things that a male would understand and omitting things that a female would understand as personal to her. These approaches are mixed together and confused in many ways in the traditional sexual correspondences on the Tree. Here's an example. It is said that the pillar 2-4-7 is a male pillar, that the pillar 3-5-8 is female and that the middle pillar is a mixture of both. This is simple symmetry with perhaps a little prejudice towards the male as beginning with the highest Sephirot next to Keter. We could say that this is a Rabbi explaining the Tree to some male students. A woman might prefer to say it the other way around. Look a little further. People talk about the Tree of Life diagram as being symbolic of the male body with the genitals corresponding to the Sephira Yesod. If the whole thing is considered, the diagram can be viewed as representative of the vulva. The columns on the right and the left are the labia and the other Sephirot particular places within. The Sephira that appears when everything is active is Da'at, corresponding to the clitoris. This is a nontraditional example of the use of sexual symbolism on the Tree, itself not entirely free of male bias. Sexual symbolism on the Tree of Life always should be treated with caution since there are various ways in which it could be understood, not appropriate for everyone. Divine names for the Sephirot are not always specific in terms of gender, although such names are often regarded as male. There are qualities within the Hebrew language that allow some of the Divine names to be read as either male or female. Most of the names applied to the pillar of Mercy on the right are male deity names that can't easily be read as feminine. Most of the deity names put on the left hand column of Severity or Judgment could be read as masculine or feminine. It might be more useful to consider the pillar of Mercy to be "your" personal gender, the Middle pillar the opposite gender and the pillar of Severity a mixture. This is a pattern of triads, like that used to group the Sephirot going down the tree in levels. These triads move from the right to the left across the Tree, the direction in which Hebrew is read.
Whenever somebody says "this is male" or "that is female" on the Tree, it is necessary to find out what they are trying to show, rather than to simply rely on gender stereotypes. There is a sense in which every Sephirot is male to the one below and female to the one above. This is a way of saying that any Sephirot that is immediately above another one rules the one below. The idea of gender and of social dominance of female by the male is used to illustrate a point, but the cultural stereotype is not the Qabalah. It is therefore wise to keep in mind that most considerations of gender upon the Tree are only relative and may depend upon social prejudice. A person taking these gender distinctions too seriously might fall into a pseudo-Hod state. He or she may think that the idea is clear, but a superficial matter has been mistaken for an essential one. Such a pseudo-Hod view is like a tiny Tree of Life inside either Yesod or Netzach of a larger one, depicting an overbalance. We'll get further into the idea of Trees-within-Trees when we take up the Cordovan method.
Whenever a rational study is begun, the possibility of rational error arises. This can easily happen when sexual terms are involved. Gender is used to describe a thousand things, opening many possible places where the metaphor may be missed and ideas confused. Here's a good rule of thumb. If something doesn't make sense in your reading, don't assume it's always your own ignorance. Consider that it may be a point the author or the lecturer was not able to explain clearly. Work it out yourself, using your own good judgment. Hod is of this nature, always battling, struggling even more violently in a way than Geburah because Hod is not as powerful as Geburah. If you find an idea that oppresses you because you doubt that you understand, don't slip down into the confusion of number 9 or give up and slide down to number 10. Consider that the author or the lecturer didn't understand it or make it clear enough. Of all such potential sources of confusion, gender on the Tree of Life is one of the most tricky.

There are four worlds in Qabalah, as has been noted earlier in this series. These four worlds can be described in various ways, but they are probably derived from the four primary methods of reading or interpreting the written word. There is an old notaricon of this. Notaricon is like abbreviation, e.g. "RDNA" = Reformed Druids of North America -- if that was being done in Hebrew it would be called a notaricon. Acronym is the common term for this in English. One important notaricon is based on the word PaRDiS, PaRDiS, paradise in English, the Garden of Eden. There are four ways to enter the Garden of Eden, or four ways to understand a written work, whether it's a holy thing or whether it's just something quite complex. Other systems also exist, but these are the primary four. You can understand literally, symbolically, allegorically or mystically. Pardis is composed of the initials of these words in Hebrew: Literal is spelled in Hebrew as PSVtH. Symbolic in Hebrew is spelled RMN. Allegorical is DRVSh. Mystical or secret is SOD. The initials of those four words spell Pardis, or paradise in Hebrew. These are four ways of thinking and therefore four worlds. The highest of these worlds is the mystical. The next down is allegorical, dealing with complex stories. Below that comes the symbolical where key words are used instead of complex metaphor. Lowest is the literal. These four are given other names and sometimes identified with the four rivers mentioned in the Bible as flowing out of Eden. On the Tree of Life, the ways of interpretation can be related to the five paths usually shown crossing the Abyss between the top three Sephirot and the lower seven. There is an old story about people who crossed the Abyss and had trouble relating to the different paths they used. One died because he stuck with the literal sense. One became insane by using too much symbolism. One became an atheist through reading so many stories that he became unable to believe anything. One succeeded by attaching to the mystical sense. There is a fifth who can travel from Malkut to Keter at will by using all four of these methods simultaneously. The earthly way, symbolized by the last letter in the name Yahweh, the last Heh on the end, the element Earth, is the literal. This is the attitude of dogmatic religion -- that which you read is what you have -- no further explanation. You just read it, it says go and do, and you go and do. It says the world was created in seven days, and so they must have been 24 hours each. Adam and Eve were the first people, and those were their actual names. That's the literal sense and it's easy to see why it kills. The third world from the top is the Vau of Yahweh, Air, and the place of symbolism. What is symbolism? A symbol is something with a memorized meaning. It may be a hand gesture, a shape, an object, a word or any simple thing. The next world up doesn't require fixed symbols. It corresponds to Water, the first Hay of Yahweh and allegory. In this level, meaning is obtained as one does from any story or parable. The literal sense is passive, just a copy of what was said or written. The symbolic sense adds a little depth by using abstractions. The allegorical sense requires experience and observation of relationship. The highest sense, mystical, Fire and the Yod of Yahweh, is not utterable. It's hard to describe an allegory, but it's impossible to explain a true secret, a mystery. People can be led to a mystery successively through literal understanding, symbolic representation, and the allegory of initiation; but any attempt to explain it simply will fail. When a person is ready, the idea will come. There is a feeling that one has when coming across a difficult concept. That feeling is of being locked in the world of allegory or one of the lower worlds. One tries to relate the new idea to something already known. There is a straining at it, until suddenly it's clear! That's breaking through into the highest realm, into the secrets. Each individual has to break into the highest realm to get it. Here's the catch. A person may think that they have it made in the world of Sod, the world of the highest, if they are able to come up with ideas and are able to learn new things. There could be people around that explain these things to others in words because they already understand them. It's all relative -- there are physicists who understand how to use mathematics to create an alternate universe for the description of electromagnetic phenomena, but there are a lot of physics students who don't know what any of that is really about. Those physics students encounter the world of Sod when they finally click and understand that technique. For the physicists who have understood it for years that same idea belongs down in the level of allegory or even the level of symbolism, depending on how thoroughly they have gotten it. Ideas filter down like rain or snow through this pattern. You get an idea from on high but then become familiar with it. It becomes allegory and later just a symbol. Finally, when you see it and don't even think of the symbolic meaning, you read it like a word. To a child a word is a symbol to be learned with difficulty, but to an adult a word is a thing that is pure in itself. You look at it and you know what it means. It's the same way with all kinds of experiences, and this is what many have said to be the essence of progress, the essence of change and spiritual unfoldment for one human being and for all the people in the world. By these things constantly filtering down through the common world, we gradually learn more and reach to greater ideas than people may have known ages ago.
There's a danger of spiritual pride in comparing one's own accomplishments with those of another. In the literal world you can see whether you can do a particular thing better than another person. In the symbolic world you might know a meaning that another does not know. In the world of allegory, such comparisons between people are based on experience and points of view, as unsuited as judging a person by gender or ethnicity. If you break through into Sod you realize that you are not better than another person, just on account of realizing something that the other person doesn't understand. You are going through a different experience, no more than that. The mystical experience is by nature a sudden unique, clear insight of one form or another. The literal world is just a place where nothing is compared but only recognized.
The highest or mystical world is also called Atzilut or the world of Archetypes. The Allegorical world is called Briah, and there are various interpretations of that -- intellectual is perhaps not a true translation but close enough. The Yetzirah world is the world of symbolism. Assiah is the physical world or the world of literal interpretations. Assiah is where we get our English word Asia, since it's the name that people in Asia, especially in Palestine, had for the ground. This is how words sometimes come into circulation. Atzilut, Briah, Yetzirah and Assiah -- those are the technical terms for the four worlds.

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Primary Sources

A.C. on the Paris Working.
From a Typescript summary of Crowley's Paris Working of 1914 e.v.

Notes of the Paris Working

31/12/13.Preparations completed.
1/1/14. 1.Hermes as child: prevent rite
  from completion.
2/1/14. 2.As messenger. Identified
  with Xt.
3/1/14. 3.As force: He is semen, the
  vehicle of the Father.
  Despises talk, all energy
  and action.
5/1/14. 4.
6/1/14. 5.
            6.

            7.
Jupiter. Short message.
    "       L.T. failed at proper
  method.
Jupiter. Vision. Phalanx of
  eagles supporting Zeus and
  the 4 Beasts. Also Peacock.
  Revelation of the method of
  destroying the Universe.
11/1/14. 8.Hermes. Good result.
week/off.L.T. ill.
19/1/14. 9.Jupiter as Bestower with
  hands full of gold.
20/1/14. 10.Jupiter as Amon - R.A.,
  plumed and phallic. Astral
  Bell.
21/1/14. 11. Jupiter as cone of white light.
  Message that O.S.V and
  L.T. are arrows of fire
  against the slave gods. The
  sacrifice was fourfold.
  Astral Bells heard again.
  Revelation to O.S.V. of
  Method of Rite. Ditto to
  L.T. of present world as a
  vision of the future. His
  eyes are so dilated, He can-
  not read.
23/1/14. 12.

               13.


               14.
               15.







               16.
Jupiter. Results on material
  plane.
Jupiter. Inspiration of O.S.V.
  to dance. Two Jataka
  stories.
Jupiter. phenomena continued.
Jupiter atmosphere of the
  Temple now constantly rich
  mellow velvety and
  luminous even when
  closed. A green chameleon
  hued dancer Ahansel and
  other elementals constantly
  in attendance.
Jupiter. Additional rites or-
  dained. O.S.V. inspired.
  The essence of the nature of
  Jupiter revealed. He ob-
  tained entire unity with
  God. muttering constantly
  "Samguis et Semen".
2/2/14. 17.

            18.

            19.

            20.
Jupiter. O.S.V. again in
  Samadhi.
Jupiter. Complete absorption
  of force.
   "     Sarcophagus of Ankh-
  f-n-Khonsu.
Jupiter Material results con-
  firmed. O.S.V. inspects
  certain shakras.
2/2/14. 21.
            22.


            23.




            24.
Jupiter.
"A glow of stupendous suc-
  cess". L.T. in his peculiar type of Samadh.
Jupiter O.S.V. sees his
  shadow - not a physical
  one: Light thereon by the
  God from the Altar or
  Cobiculum.
Jupiter. Calm and deep. The
  very aroma of earth in
  Spring. O.S.V. beheld the
  violet, formless light of
  Dhyanic intensity.

General result.

O.S.V. obtained the funds required, and was like unto Amon-Ra all the summer.
L.T. became as Jupiter the hospitable, but had unworthy guests. An unexpected result -- the Devine end of the stick was perhaps the war in the following August.

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Here are a few points for discussion, edited from electronic mail responses to questions. The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the OTO.

MT asked: Has AC written anything about mental illness, cause or cure?

Possibly the very last person on earth to send a psychotic to for help would be A.C. Crowley's approach is to heighten stress, not resolve it. The theory is that one can go beyond one's normal limits by such means. Crowley did help a number of people, with limited long-term benefits. That was mainly done by taking them for extended walks across considerable pieces of landscape and by placing them in situations where they were not exposed to familiar surroundings or newspapers. Another approach would be to find exactly what sorts of obsessions a person has, and deal with those. Simple acts of adjustment are workable, and Crowley had some success with that -- however, great familiarity with the delusions is required. Formal Goetic ritual and exorcism or banishment is always a possible approach, but it's very tricky.

MT also asked about the origins of the Xmas tree.

The Xmas Tree comes from Teutonic veneration of sacred groves. According to Frazer, the ancient penalty for pealing the bark from a living tree in a sacred grove was as follows: The malefactor was apprehended and his "navel" cut around (probably a Victorian euphemism for "anus"). This was nailed to the damaged tree, with bowels attached. The malefactor was then driven round the tree with beatings from sticks until his intestines were wound about the trunk, thus replacing the stripped bark. Other forms of human sacrifice were also performed, the odd pieces of the victim decorating a sacred tree. Thus, the garlands that drape the Xmas tree represent human guts and the ornaments represent severed hands, feet and internal organs. The star at the top was probably originally the head of the sacrifice. Skull poles are common to many cultures, so this really isn't all that unusual.

BLD asked about the history of working the OTO degrees.

The OTO degrees have been worked in varying extents at different times and places. Until about 1917 e.v., "affiliation" was a major means of entering OTO degrees -- that was the process of paying a fee and having one's pre- existing Masonic standing matched up with an OTO degree. Prior to that time, increasing use of OTO only initiations in temple and lodge was going on, but the raid on Crowley's central location in the UK during WWI shut that down for the UK. Achad in Canada held a few dozen, and initiations opened up again in southern California with Agape Lodge no. II during 1935 e.v. -- the ritual initiations starting with the Man of Earth degrees and eventually working up as far as VIth. Nothing much occurred after Agape II shut down in the late 1940's until the 1970's e.v., when we got going again. The OTO initiation rituals were substantially revised by Crowley from Craft, York and AASR initiations, some of which are from 200 to 1,200 years old in places, generally the greater the age the smaller the fragment. The words and penal clauses in OTO initiations tend to be more conservatively maintained than in AASR - where we have the same ones as 19th century AASR, modern AASR has often changed them to less disturbing things.

S expressed surprise at the small number of official OTO rituals, contrasted with A A.

It's mainly the nature of OTO. Strictly speaking, all our official rituals are temple oriented; the Mass, the Initiations and various convocational openings. In addition to this, we recommend particular rituals for individual use, but those are not OTO specific. A.'.A.'. is greatly endowed with ritual for individual use, but only has three or four temple initiations. It's a different venue. The lesser pentagram banishing is a good basic ritual for study and common use. Reguli is one of the few MTP rituals that includes structures also found in the OTO initiation series. Outside the Mass and the Initiations, we principally provide a forum for the members to use to advance their independent studies, not limiting or biasing the free choice of the membership to any great extent.

-- TSG (Bill Heidrick)

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Events Calendar for February 1996 e.v.

2/3/96O.T.O. Initiations 6PM
(call to attend)
Thelema Ldg.
2/4/96"Angelmas" planning group 2PMThelema Ldg.
2/4/96Gnostic Mass 7:30PM Horus TempleThelema Ldg.
2/5/96Thelema Lodge Library night 8PM
(call to attend)
Thelema Ldg.
2/11/96Lodge Luncheon Meeting 12:30Thelema Ldg.
2/11/96Gnostic Mass 7:30PM Horus TempleThelema Ldg.
2/18/96Hermetica in the Library 2PM
with Michael
Thelema Ldg.
2/18/96Gnostic Mass 7:30PM Horus TempleThelema Ldg.
2/19/96John Dee reading group 8PM w/ClayThelema Ldg.
2/23/96Astrological Cycles workship 7PM
Venus. with Grace in Berkeley
Thelema Ldg.
2/25/96Gnostic Mass 7:30PM Horus TempleThelema Ldg.
2/26/96Sirius Oasis meeting 8:PM BerkeleySirius Oasis
2/28/96Thelema Lodge Library night 8PM
(call to attend)
Thelema 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.

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Phone: (510) 652-3171 (for events info and contact to Lodge)

Production and Circulation:
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