Thelema Lodge Calendar for October 1996 e.v.

Thelema Lodge Calendar

for October 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

October 1996 e.v. at Thelema Lodge

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

Announcements from
Lodge Members and Officers

Karma Kagyü Emissary

      In keeping with our Thelemic tradition of studying and experiencing the glorious variety of humanity's spiritual paths, Thelema Lodge is happy to invite all of our members and friends to participate in a Tibetan ritual feast. Jangchup Nyima, an initiate of the Karma Kagyü monastic order, will perform this beautiful ceremony for us in Hours Temple at 6:30 on Sunday evening 20th October. Antendees should bring offerings for the feast, especially meats, grains, and wine or other alcohol. (The regular Sunday celebration of the gnostic mass will follow as usual, beginning shortly after nightfall.) Please take care to arrive in good time, with appropriate food offerings. This ritual promises us a unique opportunity for participating in the livelihood of an alternative spiritual discipline, developed by a vital ancient tradition less remote from ours than might at first appear, right in our own gnostic temple. The Karma Kagyüpa lineage of Tibetan Buddhist monks trace their origin to the great eleventh century sage and poet Milarepa, whose disciple Gampopa was the actual founder of the order. Though monasticism in the West has been given a bad reputation by the excesses of certain Christian masochists, the conduct of Buddhist monasteries is often much closer to that of the Abbey of Theleme. The Vagrayana Buddhists of Tibet even allow marriage to certain classes of monk; they also teach Tantric practices, visualization rituals, and a "crazy wisdom" tradition of humor and antinomianism that is rarely found so openly in the various Judeo-Cristo-Islamic sects.

The Birthday Season

      Born under the sign of the scales, in the wake of the autumnal equinox, were not only the prophet of Thelema, Aleister Crowley (12 October 1875), but two of his pioneering followers in the establishement of Thelema in California, Jack Parsons (2 October 1914) and Grady McMurtry (18 October 1918). Local tradition is to party down hard in their honor this time of year, with invitations open to join in on these three dates. At the very least we'll have some lesser feasting for Jack Parsons at Sirius Oasis on Wednesday evening 2nd October, beginning at 8:30. Bring dishes and drinks for a back-yard dinner (and towels). We'll be reading from the Book of Babalon, and other poems by the sometime Agape Lodge master, JPL rocket-fuel pioneer, and far-side lunar crater name-sake. Call the Oasis ahead of time at (510) 527-2855, or call Oz or the lodge for information. Crowley's birthday on Saturday 12th October also marks the 19th anniversary of the founding of Thelema Lodge, distinguished by another solar eclipse (although not visible in this part of the world) at 4:14 AM, just as on the afternoon the charter was sealed. All active initiate members are welcome to help celebrate the occasion, which will feature the initiation of several new Minerval members, and a great feast afterwards in the tents of Saladin. Please call ahead to attend. Grady McMurtry's birthday on Friday 18th October will be observed with a gnostic mass in Nu Temple at Oz House, at 8:30 in the evening. The team, composed of local members who knew Grady and studied with him personally, will be reminding us of the days when Hymenaeus Alpha himself, as O.T.O. Caliph and E.G.C. Patriarch, set the standard for the local Sunday night gnostic mass celebration, which he had established here. Afterwards we'll recount some "Grady stories" (now all at second and third hand, alas) and spark up a fat . . . candle.

      The eve of All (Christian) Hallows brings us into the dark of the year on Thursday evening 31st October; trick or treat! Samhain will fall almost a week later when Sol achieves fifteen degrees Scorpio, at a point shortly before midnight on Wednesday evening 6th November.

Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica

      Thelema Lodge gathers for the celebration of the Gnostic Mass every Sunday evening at nightfall in Horus Temple. Communication in this ritual with the members of the lodge is open to all who are willing to participate. Please arrive no later than 8:00 to await the call to mass by the deacon, which will be heard somewhat earlier as the autumn days shorten. Newcomers to our mass should call ahead for information and directions at (510) 652-3171. Members are invited to form teams and take on the roles of the mass officers in this celebration; after a bit of work together and perhaps a private rehersal or two, new teams should confer with the lodgemaster to set their date on the temple schedule.

      Aleister Crowley wrote Liber XV, his pagan gnostic eucharist ritual, to provide a framework for communal worship in the Aeon of Horus, realizing that the energized enthusiasm of sacred ceremony, and the emotional bonding of congregational gatherings, can function without the out-dated theological baggage of the old established "faiths." Crowley recalled his intentions for the Gnostic Mass in Confessions (page 714): "I resolved that my Ritual should celebrate the sublimity of the operation of universal forces without introducing disreputable metaphysical theories. I would neither make nor imply any statement about nature which would not be endorsed by the most materialistic man of science. On the surface this may sound difficult; but in practice I found it perfectly simple to combine the most rigidly rational conceptions of phenomena with the most exalted and enthusiastic celebration of their sublimity."

      This month an experimental eucharistic working is planned for Hours Temple, in addition to the established Sunday mass celebration. On Friday evening 11th October we will be exploring the role of gender in the communion ritual and in our understanding of the mass. A sacred text can be interpreted in various ways, symbolically, allegorically, literally, even numerically. None of these methods may be in all instances either condemned or extolled; the suitability of any understanding can only be evaluated by considering its actual consequences, both immediate and indirect. Thus those who lack the knowledge and/or imagination to see beyond the literal interpretation of scripture are still well-served on those occasions when literalism is called for. The key, of course, is in the determination of the appropriate time for literalism. If you wish to bake a cake it makes sense to follow the recipe literally. You may wish to worship Ra-Hoor-Khuit, yet it still makes no sense to practice ritual killing. Similarly, is the mainfestation of Nuit somehow restricted? Do all her priestesses have ovaries? And what of Hadit? Are only men the receptacle of his mysteries, or shall she not "achieve Hadit"? These are questions, not answers; at 8:30 on 11th October we will assemble to see if perhaps a few answers can be found.

Classes, Meetings, and Workshops

      Join Caitlin at Oz House on Monday evening 21st October for the Section Two reading group at 8:00, when we will be reading from The Light of Asia by Sir Edwin Arnold. This "account of the attainment of Gautama Buddha" takes the form of a vigorous Victorian verse epic, and was originally published in 1879. The story of Siddhartha, the Indian prince who achieved illumination as the Buddha and taught the Middle Path of righteousness, is retold from several sources in a poetic version for English readers, which helped introduce concepts such as "Nirvana," "Dharma," and "Karma" to our language. We will be reading selected passages from the poem's eight books, and discussing them in the context of the imperial British fascination with artifacts of the ancient spiritual cultures of Asia and Africa.

Shall any gazer see with mortal eyes,
      Or any searcher know by mortal mind,
Veil after veil will lift -- but there must be
      Veil upon veil behind.

Stars sweep and question not. This is enough
      That life and death and joy and woe abide;
And cause and sequence, and the course of time,
      And Being's ceaseless tide,

Which, ever-changing, runs, linked like a river
      By ripples following ripples, fast or slow ---
The same yet not the same -- from far-off fountain
      To where its waters flow

Into the seas. These, steaming to the Sun,
      Give the lost wavelets back in cloudy fleece
To trickle down the hills, and glide again;
      Having no pause or peace.

This is enough to know, the phantasms are;
      The Heavens, Earths, Worlds, and changes changing them
A mighty whirling wheel of strife and stress
      Which none can stay or stem.

-- The Light of Asia, book 8

Previous Section Two                   Next Section Two

      Grace guides the Thelema Lodge Astrology Study Group through a continuing series on the houses in the horoscope, meeting this month to examine issues relating to the fifth house. Personal creativity is often revealed by fifth house symbols. Children as the creative offspring of the family can be explored here. Fun and games, love affairs and speculation of all kinds are indicated here. Join us at Grace's Astrological Palace in Berkeley, on Friday evening 25th October, from 7:00 until 9:00. Please call ahead at (510) 843- STAR for directions and to let our presenter know how many to expect.

      The Thelema Lodge Tarot series with Bill Heidrick holds its seventh meeting on Wednesday evening 23rd October at 7:30 in San Anselmo. Our special focus this month will be Atus VI and VII, the Lovers and Chariot cards. Following an exhaustive illustrated analysis of the images, associations, and variations of these two major trumps, we will conclude the evening with the "Tree of Life" divination technique with the Tarot. Reading as the layout proceeds, and each time placing the eleventh card last, this method might typically consist of two sequential trees, first from the crown downwards, establishing the past and present situation in which the question has been put, and then reading up from the foundation (over the previous spread) a second tree suggesting future developments.

      Each month, the scrying workshop presented by the Enochian Liturgy project provides an opportunity for students to learn or sharpen their scrying skills within the context of an Enochian eucharistic rite. On Saturday evening 26th October at 8:00 we will be covering the fifth Angelic Key, rescheduled from September. Wear comfortable clothes, bring a notebook and a cushion. Ca nils ob Darbs!

      In preparation for the tenth annual Liber 418 readings, scheduled for 14th November through 20th December, a planning group will convene at 8:00 on Friday evening 25th October at Oz House. Those wishing to take part in the readings are welcome to attend this meeting, or otherwise to contact Caitlin at (510) 654-3580.

      Our library continues to grow, with generous donations of books, pamphlets, periodicals, photocopies, video and sound recordings, photographs, archival materials, works of art, and games. We usually schedule two "library nights" each month, which are sometimes organized for upkeep and organization of the collections, and otherwise used as a convenient time for library users to arrange ahead of time to visit the lodge. Please speak with one of the lodge officers to have the library open for your use.

      Calendar and newsletter business may be handled with the lodgemaster whenever convenient, with members also invited to bring their ideas and concerns to the monthly luncheon meeting for discussion. On Sunday afternoon 13th October from 12:30 till 2:30 we will have lunch and an open forum for lodge planning and development. Please make advance arranements or call ahead to attend, giving our kitchen crew an idea of whom to expect.

      As the Dog Days expire, you might consider getting Sirius about things this autumn. North Berkeley has just about the best Oasis you're likely to find, on a dark autumn night out under the trees, and they meet on the final Monday evening of each month to plan the festivities, initiations, rituals, and feasts of the months ahead. To be included, call the Oasis Master for directions at (510) 527-2855, and come by on Monday evening 28th October at 8:00.

      The John Dee reading group will be taking this month off; Clay will be at work on John Dee's Liber Mysteriorum Quartus, which we hope to see before too long. This extensive, complicated, and troublesomely fragmentary text records a very productive series of workings in mid-November of 1582 when Dee once more engaged the services of Edward Kelly (no longer called Talbot) after a seperation during the preceeding summer. Clay has been at work on Quartus for some time, and is taking the trouble to maintain his high standard of textual scholarship with this especially challenging text. Consequently it may be a month or two before the reading group resumes.

Crowley Classics

      This critical assessment of the English poet Alfred Noyes was originally published in The International: A Review of Two Worlds 10:12 (New York: December 1916), 361-2. Much of Crowley's earlier output as a free-lance journalist in New York during the Great War consists of reviews and literary criticism of this type: magazine writing which was fashionably clever and (seemingly) irreverent. Having first taken care to endear himself to editor George Viereck with the submission of an enthusiastic review of Viereck's own volume Songs of Armageddon and Other Poems, Crowley rapidly sold articles on many contemporary literary figures, including Oscar Wilde, Rabindranath Tagore, Samuel Butler, and John Cowper Powys -- this article on Noyes also belongs to the series. (Only afterwards did Crowley branch out with submissions of short stories, magical studies, poetry, and eventually texts like Liber XV and instructions to the A A) Alfred Noyes (1880-1958) enjoyed success as a poet by appealing to the more backward-looking readership of the early twentieth century, and most of his verse now seems hopelessly shallow and ordinary. He became a fervent Roman Catholic convert and also produced essays as an "anti-modernist" literary critic. Noyes is still remembered for a few ballads such as "The Highwayman" -- staples of the vulgar tradition of Great English Poems -- or for his book-length "verse" biographies of British explorers and scientists, such as Drake (1906-8). Crowley, although often criticised for the competitive spirit with which he referes to fellow practitioners of the poetic craft, was nevertheless able to clearly assess the lesser talents of many of his own "crapulous contemporaries."

A Noisy Noise Annoys an Oyster

by Aleister Crowley

      I was sitting upon the terrace of the Café de la Paix one summer evening some years ago before the war, when my attention was attracted to a procession of young exquisites. It was not an ordinary procession. It appeared to partake of the nature of an advertisment. All the members of the party were apparently male. At least they were dressed in the extreme masculine fashion. They wre apparently from the stage of some theatre, for they were painted and powdered excessively. Their gait was mincing; each carried an elegant cane held to the face rather like a lorgnette, and each held in the other hand a copy of the first volume of Mr Alfred Noyes. The Café de la Paix must have been very full that evening; at least they shortly re-emerged, followed by some rapid remarks from the maitre d'hòtel.
      The second time I heard of Mr Noyes was in London. I had been slumming, and had dug down to the office of the New Age, where I discovered an individual bearing the savory name of Oliver Onions. This gentleman proved to be full of Mr Noyes, and informed me that it was the boast of that individual that he had made a living out of poetry ever since he left Oxford. "Interesting indeed," said I, "whose poetry?" I was then reminded that Mr Noyes was himself a poet, and indeed, on investigation, it appeares that this Mr Noyes is the most determined poet that ever lived. It seems that he set the career of Tennyson before him from the very start. He intended to become Poet Laureate, and nothing should stop him. I do not think anything will stop him.
      The evidence of his campaign is to be seen in his career. The very fact of seizing upon the canons of Oxford is evidence. But as soon as he left Oxford he perceived that he must pick up with the bigger traditions of popularity. He therefore took the big English traditions: the sea, and King Arthur, and the May-Queen, and tied them up with Swinburne and Kipling. One can see traces of the style of all of these. Here is a passage of so-called blank verse of the most wooden Tennysonian model:

      "So six days passed, and on the seventh returned
      The courier, with a message of the Queen
      Summoning Drake to court, bidding him bring
      Also such curious trifles of his voyage
      As might amuse her, also rest well content his life
      In Gloriana's hands were safe: so Drake
      Laughingly landed with his war-bronzed crew
      Amid the wide-eyed throng on Plymouth beach."

          Here is a purely Kiplingesque stanza:

      "If you try and lay there, sir, with your face turned wonder,
             Up to twenty million miles of stars that roll like one,
      Right across to God knows where, and you just huddle under
             Like a little beetle with no business of his own,
      There you'd hear, like growing grass, a funny, silent sound, sir,
             Mixed with curious crackles in a steady undertone,
      Just the sound of twenty billion stars a-going round, sir,
             Yus, and you beneath 'em like a wise, old ant, alone,
      Ant upon a stone,
             Waving of his antlers, on the Sussex downs, alone."

      Here is a stanza which reads like a parody of Swinburne:

      "Whether the walls that I know, or the unknown fugitive faces,
             Faces like those that I loved, faces that haunt, and waylay,
      Faces so like and unlike in the dim unforgettable places,
             Startling the heart into sickness that aches with the sweet of the May."

      Whenever anybody makes a hit, Alfred Noyes must be on the spot with another poem exactly like it. No sooner does Herbert Trench score a success with "Apollo and the Seaman," than Mr Noyes obliges with "Bacchus and the Pirates." No sooner does Henry Newbolt produce "Admirals All," than up jumps Jack-in- the-box with "Forty Singing Seamen," and a lot of stuff in the same key. Here are a couple of stanzas:


      "He stretched out his dead cold face,
           And he sailed in the grand old way!
      The fishes had taken an eye and his arm,
           But he swept Trafalgar's Bay.

      Nelson -- was Francis Drake!
           O, what matters the uniform.
      Or the patch on your eye or your pinned-up sleve,
           If your soul's like a North Sea storm?"

      Francis Thompson starts religious poems, introducing little bits of Latin hymns. Noyes does not lose a minute, he goes and does the same:

      "Here, not set in a realm apart,
           East and West are one Nowell!
      Holy Land is in our Heart!
           North and South one Gloria!
      Death is a birth, birth is a death,
           Love is all, O sing Nowell!
      And London one with Nazareth --
           And all the world a Gloria!"

      But there is not too much of the Latin hymn. Mr Noyes is a very orthodox Protestant. He knows well enough that the Archbishop of Canterbury must be consulted when Robert Bridges dies. To him Catholics are scarcely human:

                 "'Now, provost-marshal,
      Begin with you two friars, in whose faces
      Chined like singed swine, and eyed with the spent coals
      Of filthy living, sweats the glory of Spain.
      Strip off their leprous rags
      And twist their ropes around their throats and hang them
      High over the Spanish camp for all to see.
      At dawn I'll choose two more.'"

      To Mr Noyes Queen Elizabeth is a maiden saint, and Rome the one great enemy:

      "This letter, stolen by a trusty spy,
      Out of the inmost chamber of the Pope
      Sixtus himself, here is your murder planned:
      Blame not your Ministers who with such haste
      Plucked out this viper, Mary, from your breast!"
                 "'Rome, Rome, and Rome again,
      And always Rome,' she muttered; 'even here
      In England hath she thousands yet. She hath struck
      Her curse out with pontific fingers at me,
      Cursed me down and away to the bottomless pit.'"

      Every prejudice of middle-class England, every snobbery, every basness, is seized upon by Mr Noyes as the basis of his unique art. In bold, wooden phraseology, tricked out with every tinsel appanage of the poetaster, England's latest Alfred belches forth the banality of an utterly mediocre mind from that coarse, brutal, mouth, which makes it so difficult to support the contemplation of his photographs. It is superfluous to say that there is not an idea in the whole of his voluminous writings. Even from the brief passages quoted above it will be evident that commonplace has reached its climax.
      I am asked why I should notice Mr Noyes at all. It is because I am concerned for the fair fame of England. I remember the writings of one William Shakespeare. There is one thing in Shakespeare which no man can forgive: it is his foul attack upon the memory of Joan of Arc, the culmination of his shame as a political toady. Shakespeare's greatness is altogether marred by his willingness to blacken people like Richard III, who was unpopular with the dynasty in power -- to praise tyrants like Henry VIII and Queen Elizabeth, because he was paid for it, or thought it the best way to popularity. Now I am glad enough to compare Alfred Noyes to Shakespeare, but only on this ground. As previously observed, Noyes has always been a toady of the English bourgeoisie. He has set the seal upon himself by his abominable asperations upon the memories of those saints and martyrs of my own holy isle, whose tragic figures -- may one venture to say! -- have added a new lustre to the greatest of the festivals of the Christian church.

Previous Crowley Classics                   Next Crowley Classics

from the Grady Project:

The Heavens of Urania

Blind Horus on His Falcon Throne
Has blasted back the sky.
The Hawk upon the World has thrown
The challenge of His cry
That Virgin Isis veiled, alone,
The terror of His Eye.

    Child of Light
    Child of Story
    Child of Archsupernal Glory
    Child of Night
    Child of Season
    Child to bridge a World's Unreason.

               -- Grady L. McMurtry

Originally published in The Magickal Link 4:2 (Thelema Lodge, February 1984), this poem corresponds in Grady's cycle The Angel and the Abyss with the Fortune Trump of the Tarot, and was included in the fourth issue of The Grady Project (Thelema Lodge, December 1988).

Previous Grady Project                   Next Grady Project

A Thelemic Manifesto in Honor of the Greater Feast of Timothy Leary

(Liber Oz in the language of the High Priest)

contributed by Lew

      Think for yourself. Question authority.

If a credible, respectable God does not exist, let us by all means invent Hir. We do need someone interesting to talk to.

1. WoMan has the right to live by hir own law --
      To live in the way that s/he wills to do:
      To work as s/he will:
      To play as s/he will:
      To rest as s/he will:
      To die when and how s/he will.

2. WoMan has the right to eat what s/he will:
      To drink what s/he will:
      To dwell where s/he will:
      To move as s/he will on the face of the earth.

3. WoMan has the right to think what s/he will:
      To speak what s/he will:
      To write what s/he will:
      To draw, paint, carve, etch, mould, build as s/he will:
      To dress as s/he will.

4. WoMan has the right to love as s/he will --
      "Intelligence is the ultimate aphrodisiac."

5. WoMan has the right to kill those who would thwart these rights.
      "The meek shall inherit the earth, the wise will move on."

      "Turn on, tune in, drop out."

An Introduction to Qabalah

Part XX - Problems in Taw and Chesed.

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

      Consider the Tree of Life diagram for a moment, to gain perspective. All the regular paths are ways one learns and develops the Sephirot; but all admit travel in two directions. You can go up the path of Taw into Yesod and back down that path into Malkut again. You can do this deliberately, and whatever benefit it has for you can be attained. If you do it unknowingly you will occasionally daydream when you should be working, perhaps loose a comfortable dream, wake up in the middle of the night or in other ways loose track of something pleasant. Knowledge of the Tree, after first encounter, is a matter of learning when to take a path. For those who have to work for a living, it's not wise to linger on the path of Taw, since that will draw attention away from physically producing things in the material world. It's good to develop some smaller trees from time to time, but the actual tree of the whole of life should not overemphasize a long journey into the fantasy realm. There are times when fantasies, dreams and astral travelings are necessary, and it may not be desirable then to go up Tzaddi, Qoph, Samekh or any of the others. After acquiring an understanding of the tree, the next thing is to get a grip on it, and choose when to follow a path. Attain to Hod and form a practical way of dealing with things. Later, occasionally run down Resh and check with the fantasy of Yesod, if you want it. Don't go down there for very long. Keep doing your work. Similarly, if you have only enough strength to dream about a thing it is not a time to start designing that thing, not time to begin in Hod. If you have a finished product and all the work is done, then it's time to enjoy it in Netzach. Feel these things as through they were turned on by a flow of electricity -- with enough electricity, you are alive a little more, your Yesod may light up more than Hod, but if you try to turn on the rest of the "lights" of the Tree before your strength builds they'll all be so dim they might as well not be there at all. Always gage strength after beginning something and determine if there is enough to take the effort to its next higher place. If you find that you have gone higher than you can properly maintain, then come down to the next lower level of consciousness for a time. Whatever is attempted, there must be enough of a ground work to support the next step. Other ways of working on the Tree don't require such caution, but those are only temporary in effect. In a middle pillar exercise, only Malkut, Yesod, Tipharet and Keter are used. This will a give quick rush of energy, and once it's over it's over.

      A problem that can be encountered in Chesed is the sense of being too open -- especially if Chesed has been reached by one of the routes that pass through only four Sephirot. Consider the sculpture made by Rodin of Balzac. Balzac was a little shocking in his day because he wrote things that scandalized people about sex, religion and all manner of things. Rodin got in trouble when he designed this bronze statue. People looked at it and thought it immoral, but it is said to be one of the precursors of modern sculpture and a masterful work. The artist was a bit too open -- a conception of transcendence is difficult to communicate; and, although it conquers in time, it doesn't bring recognition to the person that thought it in his own lifetime. This is often the case. An artist will sell a work for a little money and a few years after his death it will go for hundreds of thousands of dollars. This is the case of someone who has got a fairly lasting grip on Chesed. The products that trickle down the Tree from that activity in Chesed are noble and permanent, yet contemporaries don't quite think so. With Chesed the shell is more a shell to others than it is a shell to yourself. Once you are there you are alright, but others may not be able to understand you. You are too distant from them -- your world is somewhat "Other". A person who resides in that state must realize that, although they may be in bliss, others are probably not. It is necessary to be a little careful, since other people will turn away out of inability to understand. This applies to anyone who has attained a sense of bliss. If that bliss is a lasting quality like that of Chesed, caution must be exercised in showing it to others, lest others see only weirdness the unfamiliar rather than a blessing and guidance. Some might even be harmed, through the vision of a life so much happier and a light that cannot be endured by those still laboring in darkness. Whenever somebody asks me what I do, I respond with a sense of humor. If they can't directly share what makes me happy, I give them a lighter alternative.
      With the remaining three Sephirot above the Abyss, there are flaws that we'll have to examine in our next installment; but those are not even as much as the flaw of Chesed. They are more a matter of confused ways these things are apprehended below. The Abyss itself is an exception, dangerous in itself. This is the great division or break between the upper worlds and the lower. At the Abyss the difficulty is in effort and release. There is really no problem with it as long as the lower Sephirot are working well. It will simply fade out as if it were not there; but if you intend to force yourself from one of these seven lower states into a perfect union with the highest mental states ... That's quite another matter!

Previous Introduction to Qabalah, Part XIX                   Next: Drive with Caution. Abyss ahead!

Primary Sources

Crowley the Village Artist:
Here's a New York newspaper column from The Evening World, Wednesday, February 26, 1919 e.v. The original was illustrated with Crowley's "Dead Souls" paintings and a photo of the artist. Some damage on the margin of the clippings makes a few words unreadable.

Painting Dead Souls With Eyes Shut Easy for Subconscious Impressionist, Greenwich Village's Latest Sensation

      Aleister Crowley, Englishman, Does Weird Things With a Brush, but Objects to Being Classed With Futurists or Cubists as Anything Queer.


A NEW artist has drifted into Greenwich Village.
      His name is Aleister Crowley ... doesn't look at all like the average Village artist, having more of the ... appearance of a Wall Street ... His hair, instead of being ... with Bolshevik abandon is, ... cropped. Instead of shaving ... every three months he shaves every day. His clothes are neat but not gaudy and have the close-fitting and knobby lines of a fashionable tailor.
      Mr. Crowley's studio, on the third floor of No. 63 Washington Square South, is far removed from the den of the average village artist of the well known "struggling" type. It is illustriously fitted with cavernous easy chairs, mahogany davenports, a fine rug or two, an expensive and many-pillowed divan, with here and there a rare rosewood antique.

MR CROWLEY is an Englishman who at the outbreak of the great war was in the confidential service of the British Government. In this service he was shot in the leg, he says. He then came to this country, late in 1915, on a special mission for the British, and later became editor of the International, a radical magazine published in Greenwich Village.
      "I had been engaged in various literary pursuits all my life," said Mr. Crowley as he held a small glass of cognac up to the Light.
      "I have written forty books of poetry, among other things. There are some of my works on those shelves." He pointed to several rows of books over the fireplace.
      "I had never studied art and had never drawn or painted a picture in my life. When I tried to draw those covers I became so interested in the work that I gave up the editorship of the magazine and went in for art. What you see around you is the result. What sort of an artist am I? Oh, I don't know just what to call myself. I'd say, off hand, that I was an old master, because I'm a painter mainly of dead souls.
      "My art? Well I don't know just what you'd call it. But please, whatever you do, don't call me a cubist or a futurist or anything like that. I guess you might call me a subconscious impressionist, or something on that order. My art really is subconscious and automatic.
      "I'll tell you why. When I found I couldn't paint a portrait I didn't decide to go abroad and study for thirty or forty years.
      "Instead I walked up to a blank canvas one day and, standing very close to it, I placed the wet brush upon it and closed my eyes. I had no preconceived idea of what I was going to paint. My hand simply moved automatically over the canvas.
      "I don't know how long I worked in that subconscious way, but you can imagine my astonishment when I found that I had painted a likeness of a friend Whom I had not seen in many years. It was that person's dead soul I had painted. I have it about the studio somewhere.
      "All my work is done that way. I never know or have a preconceived idea of what is to appear on the canvas. My hand wanders into the realm of dead souls and very frequently the result is the likeness of some living person.
      "Now take that picture hanging over there, for instance. It is done in water color. It is entitled 'the Burmese Lady.' If you will look at it closely you will discover that it is none other than our old friend Arnold Bennett."
      The painting indicated by Mr. Crowley did resemble Arnold Bennett as he might have looked if he blackened his face and donned a Hottentot's wig.
      "Now over there you see a weird lady with something resembling a pig. The title of that one is 'Ellis Wheeler Wilcox and the Swami.' One of my best works, that.
      "Of course my impressions are not always those of well known people. That one over there on the east wall isn't a bad thing. That girl's head. It is entitled 'Young Bolshevik Girl With Wart Looking at Trotsky.'
      "That one with all the little figures? Oh, the name of that is 'A Day Dream of Dead Hats.' You see, it shows a lady asleep on a veranda, while the spirits of bygone bonnets pass across a mystic bridge on the heads of a dozen or so undressed ladies. You'll probably admit that most women when they take a nap dream of dead bonnets.

"THAT fluffy one dancing on one toe is supposed to be the dead spirit of Eva Tanguay."
      One of his pictures that Mr. Crowley likes best is that of Madame Yorska, the French actress. It shows the face of a woman, thrown backward in death, a bejeweled dagger through her throat.
      "That large three panelled screen is called the 'Screen of the Dead Souls.' All those figures you see on it are dead souls in various stages of decomposition. That central figure in the middle panel is the queen of the dead souls. Of course you recognize the head looking over her shoulder. That's Hearst. Over her other shoulder is Oscar Wilde. I don't know how he got in there, because I really hate him. The parrot sitting on the head of the dead lady's soul in the third panel is Bob Cha..ler.
      "Study art? Never have and never intend to."

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From the Outbasket

Here are some edited bits from responses to September email:

M from the UK expressed doubts about belief in reincarnation.

      Belief is the rhythm beat out on the instrument of the body to underscore the melody of the mind. It can change, speed up, slow down, go fortissimo to pianissimo. Reincarnation is just one syncopation. Everything that was, is. We will continue in the next life -- just two extremes from base to treble on the beat. Nice middle octave: every breath out is death and in is rebirth.

BW from the USA raised a number of points and questions:

      What's the purpose of initiation?

      Done properly, initiation is always a start or beginning of a new development in mind, sometimes in body as well. It's commonly a set of tools, an orientation, a task, a new concept and a formal "now proceed". OTO initiations also confer membership, if done under charter. Some initiations do not confer membership.

      Why silence and secrecy?

      This is a compound matter.
A. Creation of a non-consanguineous gens requires outer signs of membership.
       If too many of them are public, membership must depend on central records.
B. The drama of initiation requires moments of novelty or the unexpected.
       Initiation ceremonies are less likely to be effective if too well known in
C. Symbolic code is linked to sequential learning. If "initiated
       explanations" are provided out of sequence, the learning process may
       develop "potholes" and "detours" to the point that it ceases to produce a
       convergence to the more complex or difficult ideas of the group.
D. Public ridicule and slander is common when terms and ideas are presented
       out of context, particularly the accidents of the regalia and symbolism.
E. Some ideas require experience to be appreciated. One must be "led" to
       discover them, just as reading a book of notes on great literature will
       never replace the impact of reading the great literature itself. An
       explanation out of context may lead to an intellectual definition of some
       concept, but may not yield a working appreciation of that concept. E.g.,
       Calculus is easy after Algebra. To read a book about Calculus without
       first acquiring facility in Algebra will usually not result in facility
       with Calculus. Some ideas in these groups require a similar preparation,
       particularly in terminology.
F. Privacy of individual members is also essential, since public prejudice
       against such a group may lead to discrimination in the work-place &c.

      How are the oaths enforced?

      No physical or material enforcement is ever undertaken, even though there are symbolic physical "penalties" phrased in conjunction with the oaths. Mostly, it is the individual who takes the oath who is responsible for adherence to the oath. The exception occurs when an oath is broken in such a way as to injure others or the group -- in that case suspension or expulsion from membership is the most extreme sanction, save in instances of publication of private matters and secrets or in instances of libel or slander -- in those latter instances, civil litigation may be undertaken.

      Is the Goetia "low magick"?

      Some categorize the Goetia as "low", but it is more common to categorize it as dangerous or even "evil". The Goetia deals with entities or the like that are harmful to man; anciently it was often associated with disease or madness. This is from an old idea of sickness, not necessarily wrong, that did not take the germ theory of modern medicine into account. These Goetia are the same as the "evil jinn" of the Arabian Nights, like them said to have been placed in captivity by Solomon the son of David. -- Incidentally, enclosure in a "brass bottle" would tend to prevent spoilage of food stuff, so that may be a relic of ancient hygienic practices. They are partly composed of the mis-remembered names of old deities, held by the Christians to be devils. Another Christian influence is attribution of these "fallen" spirits to the Dionysian Hierarchy of choirs of angels. It is an old part of these traditions that one must first confront the evil or the defective, before purifying and ascending. Hell, then Heaven.

      Can adepts be atheists?

      All high adepts are atheists in one or both of two categories:
1. Their understanding cannot be explained without contradiction of commonly
       held religious beliefs.
2. They ultimately reach a point where human personification of ultimate deity
       is not enough.

      How can Magick be worked without a fixed belief in a higher power?

      In these things, belief is the primary tool. There are boundaries of belief, perhaps never quite dispensed with except during the extreme states of the experience. Those boundaries shift and change for different workers and at different times. During ceremonial workings particularly, belief is used to focus the mind to a vivid participation in the hyperbole of the ritual. The act of banishment or dismissal of a spirit is in fact an action of recession from a state of heightened and directed belief, which was designed for a particular focus of the mind. One constructs these sets of beliefs as the art of the thing, designing them to bring the attention of the mind, limited by human faculties, to a particular play with a particular result. It is no different from a game or passive enjoyment of a movie, except that it is far more deliberate.
      The goal is not to formulate a faith, but to use belief, the building matter of faith, to bootstrap to a state of knowing -- direct experience.

M of Lithuania asked why an established church calls all magic(k) evil:

      Churches frequently don't like competition. Most religions practice magic, if not "Magick", calling it something else because it is theirs. Sometimes this can be quite silly. Churches and Synagogues denounce "divination" as evil, but they approve certain methods for asking God about the future in prayer -- same thing, but one brand is ok and all others are not ok. In many ways, Magick is personal religion. Churches frequently don't like that, preferring to be the ones who say what religion should be. Some churches insist that you can only go to God through them. Magick is a way of going directly to God.

-- TSG (Bill Heidrick)

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Events Calendar for October 1996 e.v.

10/2/96Lesser Feast of Jack Parsons, party
8:30PM at Sirius Oasis
Sirius Oasis
10/6/96Gnostic Mass 8:00PM Horus TempleThelema Ldg.
10/8/96Thelema Lodge Library night 8PM
(call to attend)
Thelema Ldg.
10/11/96"Post Gender" Mass 8:30PM
at Horus Temple (not Liber XV)
Thelema Ldg.
10/12/96OTO Initiations (call to attend)Thelema Ldg.
10/13/96Lodge Luncheon meeting 12:30Thelema Ldg.
10/13/96Gnostic Mass 8:00PM Horus TempleThelema Ldg.
10/18/96Lesser Feast of Grady McMurtryand
and Gnostic Mass at Oz House 8:30PM
10/20/96Gnostic Mass 8:00PM Horus TempleThelema Ldg.
10/21/96Section 2 reading w/Caitlin at OZ
E. Arnold: The Light of Asia 8PM
Thelema Ldg.
10/23/96Tarot with Bill Heidrick, 7:30 PM
in San Anselmo at 5 Suffield Ave.
Thelema Ldg.
10/25/96"The Houses in Astrology" workshop
with Grace in Berkeley 7 PM
Thelema Ldg.
10/26/96Enochian Scrying Group 8PMThelema Ldg.
10/27/96Gnostic Mass 8:00PM Horus TempleThelema Ldg.
10/27/96Sirius Oasis meeting 8PM BerkeleySirius Oasis
10/30/96Thelema 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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Ordo Templi Orientis
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Berkeley, CA 94702 USA

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

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