Thelema Lodge Calendar for February 1997 e.v.

Thelema Lodge Calendar

for February 1997 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, 1997 e.v.

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

February 1997 e.v. at Thelema Lodge

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

Announcements from
Lodge Members and Officers

Brigid and the Rites of Winter

    Celebrations of life seem all the more significant at the ebb of winter, when the cold downpour yields to shared enthusiasm, and the flames of our dance rise through the darkness, assuring us of flowers and fruit to follow. We celebrate the ritual of Brigid at the astrological point of mid-winter when the sun goes 15° Aquarius, at 7:00 on Monday evening 3rd February. (Vulgar calendars mark the occasion as Candlemas, transferring it to the preceding Sunday.) Jen will be organizing this event at Oz House, with the feast afterwards being communal, so bring good food and drink, and call Oz at (510) 654-3580 to help in the arrangements. Our traditional ritual for Brigid, which Lola taught to the lodge long ago, has not been renewed for several years, and we hope to reconstruct the sequence completely at this point in order to keep it available for the future. Those who remember this ritual from involvement with past celebrations are invited to contact Jen at Oz, or the lodgemaster, to contribute recollections of particular points to our reconstruction.
    Other festivals of winter which will be going on February include the final king cake parties, counting down to Mardi Gras on 11th February, when the Great Green Frog parades through Berkeley. At the new moon in Aquarius on Friday 7th February we goad forth the year of the Ox; listen for the strings of red firecrackers on Chinese New Year. And don't forget to spread the bloody heart for Saint Valentinus on Friday 14th February.

Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica

    Described in its official voice as "an inseparable part of Ordo Templi Orientis," the Gnostic Catholic Church (E.G.C.) contains the central elements of our tradition as a community of the gnosis, manifested here in our ongoing celebration of Liber XV, the Gnostic Mass. Just as each initiate in Thelema can summon the essentially individual experiences of initiation as a milestone of personal progress, so also together as a community we renew our plural identity in the open presentation to each other of our uniting mystery. The Gnostic Mass is "the central ritual of Ordo Templi Orientis," presenting freely to all of us that truth to which our own initiations (at whatever stage one may presently be, or to which one may have attained in the past) have been leading us.
    Thelema Lodge invites guests, friends, and members to participate in our open community in celebration of the gnosis every Sunday evening in Horus Temple. Arrive by 7:30 for this pagan eucharist ritual, where communion is shared amongst all present. Call (510) 652-3171 for information and directions when attending for the first time. Mass teams working in Horus Temple should coordinate their scheduling plans with the lodgemaster, arranging for a calendar reservation approximately six week in advance. For those new to the roles of the officers in our mass, or for veterans returning to active service after time away, various clerical members are available at Horus Temple to offer advice, explanations, translations, choreography, and recipes.


    Initiations for advancement in Ordo Templi Orientis are next scheduled at the lodge on Saturday 22nd February. Lodge policy with regard to initiations is that attendance is by advance arrangement only, with all active initiate members of good report encouraged to participate in the events open to their grade. Many of these rituals conclude with a dinner feast for all involved. To attend initiations, contact one of the lodge officers several days ahead of time, or speak with one of us at mass the previous week. We do not publish the times, locations, or degrees to be worked, and planning is often not finalized until the last weeks, so this information is shared by personal contact only. Applications for initiation are accepted at any time by the lodge, and must be submitted (using the correct and current form) at least thirty days in advance. Candidates are responsible for maintaining contact with the lodge while their applications are current, and you should not expect your initiation plans to proceed on schedule unless you keep in touch.

Even the Littlest Thelemite . . .

    . . . is still a pretty big girl! Thelema Lodge celebrates the birth of Zoe Sophia Magdalena Finzel, born to Heather & Lew on Wednesday 15th January at 2:40 PM in Sacramento, and weighing in at nine pounds, six ounces. A reception for the baby and her parents is planned at the lodge early Saturday evening 8th February at 6:00 -- come meet the crowned and conquering child! Join us in celebration of a new life, beginning with a short ritual in Horus Temple, and a feast to follow. For information, call the lodge, or Heather and Lew at (916) 652-3171.

Sappho and Catullus

    This month the Section Two reading group responds to the general recommendation of the Greek and Latin classics at the end of Crowley's "comprehensive course of reading" toward "a general familiarity with the mystical and magical tradition." Caitlin will lead a reading and discussion of the verses of Sappho and Catullus at Oz House, beginning at 8:00 on Monday evening 17th February. Read ahead in your favorite translations and select a few of these poems to share with the group; any scholars amongst us are welcome to contribute selected recitations in the original tongues.
    Centered in the great city of Mytilene on the Aegean island of Lesbos, Sappho's career as one of the best-known early classical Greek singer- songwriters occurred early in the sixth century before the past aeon, contemporary with the emergence of personal religious voices in the pronouncements of Gautama Buddha and the Hebrew prophet Jeremiah. Daughter of a prominent family, she wrote hundreds of songs which were remembered all over the ancient world, and which continued widely popular for centuries, up until the dark ages. She was also an informal religious teacher, who developed a system of dance-worship for an academy of women with whom she performed her material. Although herself married and a mother, and by Greek standards no more "lesbian" than the other women of her island, the great theme of Sappho's lyrics was "how to love girls." (As the poet Ovid asked, 600 years later, "quid docuit Sappho nisi amare puellas?" -- what does Sappho teach but how to love girls?)
    The technical proficiency for which her verses were celebrated had the effect of "recording" Sappho's authentic personal voice in her colloquial Aiolic Greek, and an entire new style of literature emerged as this effect was imitated by "lyric" poets (with or without musical settings) in Greek, Latin, and later the European languages. Sadly, Sappho's own songs were nearly obliterated by shameful Christian ignorance and prejudice, so that today only a few hundred lines have been recovered, with hardly any of the lyrics complete, and the music unknown. Over the course of a millennium of vicious and stupid censorship, from the specific order against Sappho's songs by St. Gregory of Constantinople in 380, through the public burning of all known books containing lyrics of Sappho organized by Pope Gregory VII in 1073, the patriarchal church of darkness spat in terror at an authentic voice of love. We are left with only whispers of that voice, some in shreds of papyrus literally unwrapped from mummies, others in the quotations of her lines in reference books, but it is just sufficient for the aeon of Thelema to listen across the darkness to the singer of Mytilene.
    Gaius Valerius Catullus, the Roman literary lyricist who died very young in the middle of the last century before the Christian aeon, became a gnostic saint by imitating Sappho in Latin. (In fact, although E.G.C. patriarchalism now frowns on the once-established mention of Sappho as a "female gnostic saint," the English poet Swinburne is another recognized saint who may be said to have been included in the canon by virtue of his imitations of Sappho.) Catullus was a republican aristocrat who opened up the Latin language to the personal voice of lyric poetry just as Sappho had opened the Greek. His surviving collection of 116 poems, most less than page-length, disappeared like Sappho's during the dark ages, but enjoyed better luck in their recovery. Two dozen or more of them concern the mistress he calls Lesbia (in honor of Sappho), and the intensely vacillating longing and frustration he experienced with her. In addition, Catullus was the great poet of Hymenaeus the marriage god, from whose lines Crowley picked the magical name which has been perpetuated in the modern O.T.O. Caliphate. He also anticipates a great secret in the fragmentary phrase ". . . de meo ligurrire libidost" -- "at my own cost it is a pleasure to lick up!"

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Tarot in Marin

    Crowley argues in Magick in Theory and Practice, which was written according to the structure of the major trumps in Tarot, that scientific progress utilizing data gathered from technological innovations ought to stimulate the still unexplored potential of such technologies of divination as the Tarot. With so much already learned from the telescope, microscope, and so forth, "who dare deny that the Book of Thoth, the quintessentialized wisdom of our ancestors whose civilizations, perished though they may be, have left monuments which dwarf ours until we wonder whether we are degenerate from them, or evolved from Simians, who dare deny that such a book may be possessed of unimaginable powers?" Although divinational technology has not been developed along with that of science, so that "the method of divination, the ratio of it, is as obscure today as was that of spectrum analysis a generation ago," this ought only to spur on additional research with the cards (MTP, chapter 18).
    The Thelema Lodge Tarot Series with Bill Heidrick holds its eleventh meeting this month in Bill's home in Marin County. Beginning at 7:30 on Wednesday evening 19th February, the meeting will first focus on the associations and images contained in the trumps of the Devil (15) and the Tower (16; also called the "War" card). Illustrations and discussion will allow us to engage fully with these particular trump cards, after which we will have a few demonstration readings as we extend our discussion to methods of reading the cards.

The Houses in Astrology

    Grace's Astrology workshop focuses on the Ninth House this month, meeting at the Temple of Astrology in Berkeley on Friday evening 28th February. This house rules extensions of the self, including the ideals and aspirations we formulate for ourselves, and the communication processes we use for sharing and expressing them, including publishing and academia. Travel and exploration and the extension of self through space are also issues with which we will be working in this house. Bring your own chart, or provide birth data so that Grace can generate one for you which we can use to illustrate points in our discussion. The workshop will be held between 7:00 and 9:00, and all attending are requested to speak with Grace ahead of time at (510) 843-7827 to let her know whom to expect.

PantheaCon97 Comes to Oakland

    From Valentine's Day, Friday 14th February, through Monday 17th, a full- scale convention of pagans and occultists will be encamped at the downtown Oakland Marriott Hotel, occupying both ballrooms there and also exhibition space across the street at the Oakland Convention Center. The easiest transportation will be by BART, using the "12th Street" station. A bulging program of conventional fun is scheduled, including concert performances, costumes and parties of all sizes and natures, a masquerade ball and "rock and roll ritual," along with numerous other circles and ritual opportunities, with workshops, demonstrations, lectures, exhibitions, book signings, readings, and sales booths all going on at once. For information, drop by the Ancient Ways store at 4075 Telegraph Avenue in Oakland, or call them at (510) 653-3244. (This is of course not an O.T.O. event, but don't forget your secret recognition signs!)
    Sirius Oasis meets Monday evening 24th February in north Berkeley at 8:00. After PantheaCon97 there are bound to be stories to tell and rumors to quell, but also we will be looking forward to the Ancient Ways festival in the spring. (We'll have to see after the big "con" if pagans can still have fun without those costumes, carpeted hallways, stacking chairs, and catered buffets . . .)

Sabine, We Miss You!

    Thelema Lodge enjoyed a wonderful winter visit from a sister in the Ashera 506 Oasis of Dortmund, Germany. Sabine's birthday was the high point, when she served us as deacon in the mass, with cake in the temple for everyone afterwards. We look forward now to working together from afar for awhile, but also to a return visit from our lovely sister before long.

from the Grady Project:

October Bridge

Flaming Year Ghost, Ghost of Flame
You whose vision comes unbidden;
Sacred seeker, seeker lame
Voyeur in Her vast star-midden.
(Virgin Goddess, Bright Star Maiden)

    Enigmatic Tetrahedral
    Esoteric bridge of longing
    Numinous, in Her cathedral,
    Cryptic star-track, Angel thronging.

Dance, Star Maiden, dancing cry
(Shakti Devi, Goddess Viti)
Dance the deer back; deadly dye
Autumn frosted, sad the city.
(Virgin goddess, Bright Star Maiden)

    Enigmatic Tetrahedral
    Esoteric bridge of longing
    Numinous, in Her cathedral
    Cryptic star-track, Angel thronging.

    -- Grady L. McMurtry
            10/31/61 & 11/1/61

This poem had its first publication as an excerpt in an article about poetry which Grady prepared for The Magickal Link 3:10 (Berkeley: O.T.O., October 1983), and was first published in full in the McMurtry: Poems volume (London & Bergen, Norway: O.T.O., 1986), before being included in the third volume of The Grady Project (Berkeley: O.T.O., December 1988).

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Crowley Classics

    This essay first appeared in The International 12:1 (New York: January 1918), 10-14. It will be presented in two parts, beginning this month and concluding in next month's issue.

The Heart of Holy Russia

[part one]

by Aleister Crowley

"Above Moscow is nothing but the Kremlin; and above the Kremlin is nothing but Heaven." -- Russian Proverb.


    Observers so well, yet so diversely, equipped as Von Moltke and Théophile Gautier, concur in amazement at this city of miracle. As one would expect, the truly original mind of the strategist finds worthier expressions than that of the mere expert in words.
    Gautier, writing of St. Basil's, explains himself in such forcible-feeble photography as this: "On dirait un gigantesque madrépore, une cristallization colossale, une grotte â stalactites retournée."
    The soldier sums the whole city in a phrase of inner truth: "On se croit transporté dans une de ces villes que l'imagination sait se representer, mais qu'en realité l'on ne voit jamais."
    All of us, I hope, and in particular my Lord Dunsany and Mr S. H. Sime, have seen these cities of the imagination; and the more we have travelled the world, the more we have grown content with our disappointments. Delhi, Agra, Benares, Rome, London, Cairo, Naples, Anuradhapura, Venice, Stockholm, all fall short in one way or another of making one exclaim as I exclaimed when my eyes first fell upon the great east wall of the Kremlin, its machicolated red brick crowned by the domes of the cathedrals, its Tartar towers culminating in the glorious Gate of the Saviour, flanked by ineffable St Basil: "A hashish dream come true." There is nothing in de Quincey, Ludlow, or Baudelaire so fantastic-beautiful as the sober truth of Moscow. It has not been planned; it obeys no "laws of art." It is arbitrary as God, and as unchallengable. It is not made in any image of man's mind: it is the creation of mind loosed from the thrall of even so elemental a yoke as mathematics.
    It is the imagination incarnate in metal and stone. It is the absurd in which Tertullian believed. It is a storm of beauty, a mad poet's idea of heaven. It mocks human reason. It belongs to no school or period; it could not be imitated or equalled, because the mind of even the greatest artist has limitations, grooves of thought; and in Moscow, it is the unexpected which always happens. Happens: the Kremlin is an accident. The town itself is an accident. There is no particular geographical reason for it being where it is. As to natural advantages, it has none. There is a small river, perhaps half as wide as the Harlem River or the Thames at London Bridge, and a hill no higher than Morningside or Ludgate Hill. Go to the top of Ivan Veliky one clear day and you will see but vastness of plain all ways to the horizon, save for that low mount-line whence Napoleon first saw the city. It has no Vesuvius, no bay of blue, no crested Posilippo. It has no seven hills. It has no mountain setting, no mighty river, no possibility of background but the sky. And there it is, unassailably magnificent, sheer warlock's work. It is the sudden crystallization of one of those "barbarous names of Evocation" of which Zoroaster speaks. It is the efflorescence of a Titan vice, the judgment of the God that turned Lot's wife into a pillar of salt upon a spinthria of the whole race of giants. For, like the Thyrsus around whose spear twist vine tendrils, every dominant form of the Kremlin is a fantasy upon one theme, and that a theme of which the sun himself is but the eidolon. It is the Lord of Life, the Giver of Life, the bountiful, the single, the master of ecstasy, the fulfiller of promise, the witness of the invisible, the viceregent and arbiter of the godhead, the mainspring of manhood, the compeller of destiny, that is commemorated in this wilderness of wonder.
    This Basil church (might one not say Basilisk church?) is the solution of the platonic antinomy of the Many and the One. There are no two spires alike, either in color or in form or in juxtaposition. Each asserts that unity is in multiplicity in unity; each is a mathematical demonstration of the identity of being and form.
    Here is the arcanum of the Brothers of the Rose and Cross; here the solution of the problem of the alchemists; here the square is circled, here the cube is doubled, here is perpetual motion in unmoving stone; the volatile is fixed, the fixed is volatile, Hermes has laid Christ the cornerstone, and Hiram-abif has set his seal upon the pinnacle of the temple.
    And as I gaze in this July full moon, facing the Northern Lights, eternally brightening and never growing brighter, behind the frozen dream, suddenly the rich silence breaks into sound. Incomparable beauty of the bells of Moscow! There are no other bells in the world that can for a moment be compared with them. And they play music. Not tunes vulgarized by cheap association, not imitation of any other music, but melodies all their own, as wonderful to the ear as is the city to the eye. In accord with the miracle of the building, they repeat the great work accomplished in every phantasy of phrase, the lesser bells answering the greater like the nymphs caressing Bacchus.
    It is stupendous, unbearable; the consciousness breaks into ecstasy; one becomes part -- that peculiar part which is the whole -- of the choral colossus. There is no more limitation; time, space, the conditions of the ego, disappear with the ego itself in that abyss of eternity, that indivisible and instantaneous point, which is the universe.


    Within the churchs is infinite prodigality of gold. Except in St Saviour's, a modern Europeanized bad church, height is always so disproportionate to breadth that one might fancy oneself in the torture chamber of a Sadistic god. Up and up, out of sight, stretch the fierce frescoes, with their snakes and dragons that devour the saints, their gods, bearded as their own popes, and their devils, winged and speared like the horsemen of the steppes that their forefathers feared. All sight, in these dimly-lit shrines, ceases before the shaft of the divine instrument starts from the curves -- slight enough -- of the roof. When these churches were built, the windows had to be minute, because of winter. Ivan the Terrible was ignorant of "chauffage centrale." The effect is unpleasing, the void breaks in upon form and eats it up. It turns the whole edifice into a magic mouth gold-fanged, whose throat sucks up the soul into annihilation.
    There is no truly original feature in the art of the frescoes, which recall the Primitives. It is the superb barbaric indifference to balance, which plies gold on gold. Only the faces, hands, and feet in ikons are uncovered; the robes, carved in gold or silver-gilt, or woven in pearl and every other precious stone, cover the canvas. These faces and hands are indecipherable, would be so even in good light. At first, one dislikes the gap in the gold. At second, one gives up criticism and adores. The whole overpowers; nothing else matters. One is in presence of a positive force, making a direct appeal. The lumber of culture goes overboard. Fact, elemental fact, reaching beyond all canons, is with one and upon one. There are the coffins of a hundred Tsars, red copper slightly bronzed, each with name and date in high relief, the simplest ornaments in holy Russia. Above the coffins of the Romanoffs hangs a marvellous golden canopy. Along one side are mighty banners, ikons encased in gold. And the Sanctuary has St Michael, mighty and terrible, slaying the serpent; for this is the Church of the Archangel. The floor is purple with porphyry, rough and uneven blocks on which the squarer never toiled, but polished by millions of devout feet for centuries.
    Go into the Church of the Assumption. Here is the fresco of Jonah with his adventures from the casting-overboard to the preaching in Nineveh. And one passes from the corridor direct into a dim sanctuary, its pictures, painted with infinite detail, invisible even by the light of a taper -- and one acquiesces in the eternal truth that invisibility is no drawback to the appreciation of a picture! Further along, a sombre clerestory holds a vast reliquary of gold and silver, the covers half drawn to show most aged bones of saints; here a hand, there a foot, here again a bone which piety has decorated with gold wires.
    And through all moves the concourse of many women and some men, prostrating themselves, crossing themselves ceaselessly, kissing the frames of the relics one by one, testifying most notable to the vitality of the faith thus mummied, the faith, which, as Eliphas Levi said, has not inspired a single eloquence since Photius. The popes are the most despised of the people; the cult is bound hand and foot in the winding sheet of a formality one hundred times more costive than the Roman: and yet it tingles and throbs with overwhelming life. Again the antinomy of things is conquered; it is as if lucus a non lucendo were recognized as an absolute and irreversible canon of philology.
    The secret is in the Russian himself. He is the natural martyr and saint, the artist in psychology. Most people are exquisitely aware that even the commonest Russian regards the sexual act as a serious scientific experiment, with grave concern studying the personal equation in all its details, never admitting enthusiasm until the stage directions so ordain. This principle is carried as far in religion. The people cross themselves when they feel like it, prostrate themselves by no discoverable rule. Each man carries out his cult with no reference to his neighbor. Each is present in order to work himself into religious ecstasy. If he succeeds, he has been to church; if not, he hasn't.
    The Russian understands suffering itself as a thing to observe, not to feel. He accepts the hardships of his lot as God's experiment with man. The means is nothing, the end all. Hence the patient longing of his dog-like eyes, and the beautitude glimmering from his pale cheeks. Hence the joy in sorrow and sorrow in joy of his whole mental composition. Hence his long- suffering and his fierceness, his tenderness and his brutality. The Great Mean is realized by the exhaustion of the extremes. It is the Chinese Taoist philosophy in practice, and at the same time the antithesis of that plan of achieving everything by doing nothing.


    As instructive as the Russian at prayer is the Russian at debauch. He drinks to get drunk, realizing the agony of the limitations of life as much as Buddha, though the one finds sorrow in change, and the other seeks change as the remedy of sorrow. And so all his gaiety only amounts to a wish that he were dead, or at least mad; he strives to overcome the enemy, life-as-it-is, by entering a realm where its conditions no longer threaten and obsess.
    His method is childish, to our supercilious eyes, for we have gone through the mill of the Renaissance and a hundred other educational crises, while Russia -- with deadly exception presently to be noted -- has remained a "spring [shut] up, a fountain sealed."1 But all our pleasures have some primitive physiological basis in one or other of the senses, and the man who enjoys a mutton chop has no need to envy him who turns from some nauseously bedeviled kickshaw. In Russia the essential elemental thing is always there, and even the mistakes of its art and life turn to favor and to prettiness. A savage woman of twenty is always splendid, though she blacken her teeth and tattoo her face and hang her ribs with spent cartridges and thrust a fishbone through her nose; our civilization resembles a hag dressed by Poiret.
    All this is Moscow, the heart of holy Russia; whose crown is the Kremlin; it does not apply to Warsaw, with its sordid gangs of Jews and Roman Catholics, or to Petersburg with its constantly increasing taint of sham Parisianism. Paris at its best is a poor thing; unless it is one's own in a most special sense one must be very intimate with artists to escape the commercial gaiety of Montmartre, the ruined boulevards, and the general tawdriness of its second-rate monuments. But the worst elements of Russia have annexed the worst elements of Paris:

    "Whose manners still our tardy apish nation
               Limps after in base imitation."

    Paris is the Circe that turns Russians into swine.
    Politically, the influence of Rousseau has been deplorable.
    The "contrat social" is as out of place in Asia as frock coats and lavender trousers on the tawny limbs of the Samurai. Pushkin, the national poet, is but an echo of Byron. It was at that period that Russia discovered Europe, and it has discovered nothing since. What we most like in Russian literature we should most dislike. One's natural feeling is toward familiar things. It is not the western garnishry of Tolstoi that we should admire. His perfectly insane views on poverty and chastity and non-resistance are the truly Russian utterance. Where those views are tinctured by national considerations they become French, and his lofty craze for chastity degenerates into a neo- Malthusianism, as craven in its theory as it is disgusting in its practice. The authentic Russian says, "Let God be true, and every man a liar": it is the voice of his own holy spirit that speaks, and that voice cares nothing for conditions. "If thine hand offend thee, cut it off,"2 said Christ, and immediately Russia produced a sect as sinless as the Galli, the shorn priests of Cybele, the fellow martyrs of Atys. There is no talk of the "interests of the community," and the rest of it. Shelley's "Masque of Anarchy" anticipated Tolstoi's non-resistance with a plan of campaign whose principal tactic was to allow yourselves to be mown down by artillery in order to fraternize with the gunners. It is, incidentally, a perfectly practical plan -- in the long run.
    Were I not resolved to keep politics out of this paper, I could adduce some singular evidence to this effect.
    St Basil's is unquestionably supreme among these monuments. Its likeness to the others is so much more like, its opposition so much more salient, its violations so absolute, and its unity so achieved, beyond theirs. Ivan the Terrible had the eyes of the architect put out, so that he might not make another masterpiece for another emperor.
    How curiously ineffective are words to conjure vision! Even poetry can only reproduce an impression, and by no means the cause of the impression.
    Here is St Basil's from the front.
    On the extreme left, far back, a column on open arches with a windowed spire; next, a low grey phallus, the gland of grey stripes salient from a green background spiked with red pyramids. Then a lofty phallus, the shaft ornate in red and grey, the gland striped with orange and green in spiral; under it nestles another phallus, its gland covered with flat diamonds of red and green.
    Then another, lofty, with a straight stripe of red and green. Now comes the main spire, shaped rather like a wine-bottle, fretted with myriad false arches, adorned in red, green, and Naples yellow. Its gland is gold. Then a grey shaft supports a gland trellised with green, yellow diamond pyramids filling the spaces. Last comes a high lingam decorated with false arches, its gland of red and green pyramids set spiral. At the foot is a grey covered balcony; and admission is gained by a quasi-Chinese causeway whose spires are covered with green-grey scales, ribbed with red, white, and green. The whole is further ornamented chiefly with bars of red, white, yellow, orange, and green in various combinations, and the flat spaces with painted flowers in pots, executed in a style somewhat recalling certain phases of post- impressionism.
    There is the northern aspect. So ineffective is it to expose the mechanism of a masterpiece! As one walks round it -- round is a correct term, for the ground plan is circular, not angled -- new towers swing into view, always fantastically varied, yet never permitting the impression of the whole to alter by a jot.
    "The earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof";3 and yet "in Him is neither variableness nor shadow of turning."4

1. The Song of Solomon 4:12.
2. Mark 9:43, cf. Matthew 5:30.
3. Psalms 24:1.
4. Epistle of James 1:17.

Previous Crowley Classics                   to be continued

Yet Another Criss Piss Tribute

                                                      --- contributed by Bro. Mord

    Reverend Urine, as some of us called him, dug deep into life's dumpsters and brought back real joy. I first met him in the late 1980s, thought him not a beatnik, not a hippie, not a punk, but somehow all three. He had obviously come from hell, yet his batteries of irony, wit, and satire were still fully charged. In some way he was transmuting all the fear, pain, anger, and grief of America's dying culture into the artful amusements of his own personal "Anarcho-Pan-Thelemik Kulture Fest." Though I found him mostly unreliable in cooperative projects and business affairs, he still managed to be both an excellent friend, and an honest voice in many group discussions. At a highly stressful time in my life he would often come through with accurate enough sarcasm to remind me to laugh at myself. I was sorry to see him go off to Austin, but he loved Ariadne and Becky and Alex very much, and he was clearly happier than when I first got to know him, so I knew he was doing the right thing.
    When I heard he had lung cancer I can't say I was surprised, after all he did smoke a lot of cigarettes, and live on junk food, and do other things that are not reputed to be healthy, but I, like everyone else in our community, still harbored the hope that such a rare and valuable being would, against all odds, pull through. But he didn't. And we can't do anything about it, except miss him. He was one choice Thelemite. Though he didn't have an exceptionally long life, he did have the love of many, many people, and of at least one god. So I close this tribute with one of Criss' favorite verses from a particular author's works:

Seek Nuit! Be Hadit!
With the might
and by the rite
of Ra-Hoor-Khuit!

An Introduction to Qabalah

Part XXIV - A Star in the Company of Stars.

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

    After a while, like a constellation in the sky formed of individual stars, each little Tree of Life joins with others to form a pattern. A six-fold grouping like the Achad "snow-flake" is a little constellation. Experiences are often isolated like that, as groups of thoughts and interests in the mind. The whole mind is like an universe. It is filled with such things. The constellations or clusters of Trees of Life collect together in galaxies of thought, spiral pools of self-awareness, separated by great gulfs from other thoughts.
    It is within our power to move these lights as though we were the creator of an outer universe. It's possible for us to shape these in our own selves, fashioning light without limit inside our minds. This kind of work has to be undertaken slowly, with a good deal of calm. Pushing too fast can create a rift between two galaxies of collected thought, feeling or ways of thinking. We constantly undergo growth and change. Any major change in where a person lives, the style of life, philosophy or anything similar is like going from one galaxy to another and taking a few star systems along.
    Sometimes a drastic experience will occur, like a discharge of electricity in this inner world. A "star" will go nova or a great body will pass suddenly through. Like a discharge in a spark chamber, such an event will leave dots of light in its wake. These are the things that a new idea does while passing through a human mind. It will awaken new constellations, new clusters of Trees of Life. Such a path can be seen. Eventually it may fade out, but the trace can be strengthened. The mind can bring these things together, move them and draw more of them into union. It's like forming a sculpture, working with light. This is the way our mental life proceeds. That's the basic theme. Techniques of manipulating and designing will be examined a little further in this series.

    The essential idea is that you design this yourself. You model the convolutions of your own mind. Consider one of the variations on the Magus Atu in the Crowley-Harris Thoth Tarot. In a painting not used in the final version, a stylized brain forms part of the background, looking a little like the serpent that climbs up the Tree of Life. Scattered about the surface of this brain are many symbolic objects. The mind links all these in its own fashion.

    A pictorial alchemical allegory can be quite strange. It's full of bizarre, mysterious things. It may not make any sense at all on first impression. After a little study, one can begin to see patterns. Often there is a sun on one side and a moon on the other. In the midst may be a mixed image, half male and half female, related to the sun and moon. The first thing in any puzzling situation is yourself and an external perception. Next, begin to construct the Tree of Life in some detail to link and make sense of the perception. Perhaps, like an alchemical allegory, there will be a Tipheret kind of thing which you can see. There may then be a Yesod kind of thing that you can see. After a little time, a feeling tone will form in mind, without clear rational content. That is the beginning of a Yesod aspect on a larger Tree of Life. To try to make sense of a complex perception at once, is simply to become confused. In the early part of study, there are only glancing touches of meaning. Next, discrete symbols or functions become more noticeable; in an alchemical picture, these may include natural trees decorated with signs of the zodiac, planets, and similar devices. With the examination of such details, a Hod forms on a smaller Tree of Life within a greater Yesod, the feeling tone that comes from seeing such an unusual sight becomes differentiated. Relations appear between the various parts, gradually linking them together. Eventually a general meaning of the whole image starts to form. Some portions of an alchemical picture represent earthly events, some celestial events, some depict changes in the stages of an alchemical process. Different animals and objects appear to symbolize transformation from base matter into pure gold and the philosopher's stone. Eventually such a strange picture makes some sense, more than just a feeling tone; and then you've gotten more than a simple Yesod image. You've built up a way of relating to an understanding of the thing, first internally to the fantasy and then externalizing to a practical sense in a Hod of a greater Tree. How does it feel aesthetically? That is work on a Netzach image. Is it a composite diagram that makes sense to you? That is work on Tipheret, and so on. This is the way we think, grow and understand. It is the same, whether the object of awareness is a strange picture, a complex memory or a physical experience.

Previous Introduction to Qabalah -- Part XXIII           Next: Other patterns for more complexity.

A Frank Confession

by Orson Ape

    I grew up in the San Fernando Valley, and my family were members of Valley Episcopal Church, a relatively conservative church in west Van Nuys. From preschool up to the age of sixteen I attended first "Bible School" and then Confirmation classes, usually three or four days a week, in addition to going to public school. My parents were not actually that religious, but my father would regularly lead us in saying Grace, and we always observed Easter and Christmas with our extended family and friends. Religion was valued in our house not because it was God's truth but because it was a family tradition, an ethnic identity; most of my relatives were far more active in organizations like Kiwanis Club than in their church. In our house the Bible was never considered anything remotely like the literal word of God. I remember my mother once describing her actual religious beliefs in terms like "I think there's something there, but I don't know what".
    Somehow (probably from my older brother) I found out around the age of five that some people didn't believe in the reality of the God of the Bible, or even in the existence of any kind of god at all. As I was already at that age often in a place where I was surrounded by people worshipping and praying to the Biblical God, I started to pray for some kind of sign from God of His existence. I kept this up for a few years, but by the age of eight I had become firmly convinced that indeed there was no God. In later years I came to see the logical difficulties with dogmatic atheism and began to profess agnosticism, but this was merely to demonstrate my antidogmatism, not out of any actual belief in the possibility of God. I still loved much of the Bible as literature (the Book of Jonah, Song of Songs, and the Gospel of John, just to name a few), and in fact considered the first six chapters of Ecclesiastes as perhaps the very greatest philosophical statement ever written. Though I couldn't take it at all seriously as history I still appreciated it as myth (from early childhood I've never gotten enough of tales, legends, fables, stories of all kinds), and while I could earnestly endorse commandments like "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself", the same chapter of Leviticus goes on to say "Thou shalt not sow thy field with two kinds of seed; neither shall there come upon thee a garment of two kinds of stuff mingled together", so I was not inclined to see in it an altogether appropriate guide to modern living.
    It would take several tedious pages to adequately describe the biographical details of my journey from confident antireligious skeptic to doubtful seeker. Perhaps it was mainly fueled by the emotional stresses of a contemporary adolescence, and even further dramatized by all the larger existential questions implicit in just being human. It was also a conscious intellectual process, initiated by my discovery of the idea of mysticism per se. The welter of conflicting dogmas, contradictory claims, and social expediencies, which so turned me off to the world of organized religion, became less important when I saw that a thread of real religious experience seemed to run through most if not all religions. Still, having the intellectual recognition that it's possible to have a personal relationship with God (whatever that may be) seems a far cry from actually having the relationship itself. So as I was leaving my teens I began the search for some kind of personal experience of God. I was mistrustful of organized religion (of organizations in general), and philosophically an extreme individualist, and therefore did not become a member of any movement, but I widened my previous readings in literature, history, science, and philosophy, to include things like astrology, Kabbalah, Hinduism, and Buddhism. My circle of friends also widened to include people like Mr. O., who introduced me to much along these lines, including ceremonial magic and Thelema.
    I moved to San Francisco in 1976. Shortly thereafter I began to study the life and writings of Aleister Crowley, and it quickly appeared that here was a religious philosophy particularly well-suited to me. It exalted individualism. It valued both reason and revelation, claiming to properly balance them. It inveighed against all dogma, seemingly including that of its own adherents. After more than a year of reading, and many discussions with Mr. O., we found out from a local newspaper that a branch of one of Crowley's magical orders was active over in Berkeley. Mr. O. consulted some friends he trusted and we became convinced that this group was indeed a legitimate lineage of the Crowley tradition, so we decided to check it out. There are numerous permutations of Thelemic organization, varying widely in aims, in styles of ceremonial, and ranging from masonic to ecclesiastical to collegiate in structure. The group which we found at that time (Ordo Templi Orientis, or O.T.O.) is a quasi-masonic social club and mystery school which offers members a series of secret initiation rituals, along with maintaining a church wherein public communion rituals are performed. Mr. O. and I attended one of these public rituals, were not turned off by the "vibe", and applied to undergo (in early 1978) the group's introductory initiation ceremony.
    The O.T.O. is a "secret society" in the sense that efforts are made to keep the details of the initiation ceremonies a secret from those who have not undergone them. This fact has led to a great deal of silly and/or hysterical behavior from both conspiracy theorists and misguided initiates alike. Personally, I find that the secrecy may teach one some valuable lessons in self-discipline, humility, and fellowship; it can also serve to heighten tensions which are sometimes subsequently released in experiences of self- recognition. And while I may not divulge any word or action of the rite which I went through at that time, I may certainly describe what I experienced spiritually. Looking back I recognize this as one of the most defining events of my life, and yet it seems that writing about it is nearly impossible for me. More than a decade afterward I tried my best and came up with this entirely inadequate poem:

To Feel Joy

To bathe in a shining fragrant swell of polyphonic melody
is nothing to the song the universal being sings
Nor can poor symphonies of meaning
in these strings of words
ever cast one nilth of all the spells
that are contained in just one nothingth of infinity
And strive I may with every art
that ever graced the human race
I'll never convey the slightest clue
to anyone of what I knew
and now know just as memory
of light of song of ecstasy
-- but if I could, you'd see

    For the space of what could not have been more than three seconds of clock time I experienced what I can only explain as eternity. And though its bliss exceeded anything I could ever have imagined, in its aftermath I was frightened by its absolutely overpowering reality. Many intense and varied experiences followed in the months and years to come, often made more confusing by my fear and attachment. Though a few glimpses of realization did not establish me in conscious union, they did set me firmly on a path toward it. I do not write all this to impress you with my "spiritual attainments" (an eye-of-the-beholder judgment in any event) or to justify my own particular practices, but merely to illustrate the basis of my viewpoint. I know that none of my experiences constitute anything remotely like scientific proof of the existence of God; however, they are unquestionably my authentic experience, and I personally believe wholeheartedly in God, and in God's intimate connection with all beings.
    Fortunately, every time I think I've figured it all out, it changes in some way, a door opens or shuts, a tollbridge or an unmarked fork appears in the road ahead. My outlook has to widen to include more of the universe. Along the way I've managed to avoid the worst ravages of dogmatitis by continuing to study and derive inspiration from most of the major religious traditions. The Thelemite's holy scripture has in it the phrase, "All words are sacred and all prophets true", and I've taken this as a license to follow my own natural bent in this area. Thus I've come to profess a God which lives in each and every faith, yet is not limited to any single one of them. Still, I can also recognize that as particular human beings we must each come to our own particular interface with God. I am a Thelemite not because Thelema has the best revelation, or the latest revelation, or the truest revelation, but because it turned out to have the revelation with which I could fall in love and find happiness. I have no need to convince others, but nonetheless my bias is now explicitly declared. I am a Thelemite. Make of that what you will.

Next Issue

    The Primary Sources and Out Basket columns will continue in the next issue. We ran short of room this time. Until then, here are some Internet WWW pages people might like to try:

Note to Web edition -- These links are not all current. Some work, some have faded away. Some have been updated here since the original date of publication. Link now obsolete

Thelema Lodge Events Calendar for February 1997 e.v.

2/2/97Gnostic Mass 7:30PM Horus TempleThelema Ldg.
2/3/97Brigid Ritual at Oz House 7:00 PM
2/7/97Chinese New Year (Year of the Ox)
2/7/97New Moon in Aquarius 7:06 AM
Thelema Ldg.
2/8/97Party for Zoe Sophia Magdelena and
parents Heather & Lew 6PM
Thelema Ldg.
2/9/97Gnostic Mass 7:30PM Horus TempleThelema Ldg.
2/11/97Mardi Gras parade in Berkeley
2/12/97Thelema Lodge Library night 8PM
(call to attend)
Thelema Ldg.
2/14/97Feast of St. Valentinus (Lupercalia)
2/16/97Thelema Lodge Luncheon Meeting 12:30Thelema Ldg.
2/16/97Gnostic Mass 7:30PM Horus TempleThelema Ldg.
2/18/97Sun into Pices 6:52 AM
2/19/97Tarot with Bill Heidrick, 7:30 PM
in San Anselmo at 5 Suffield Ave.
Thelema Ldg.
2/22/97OTO initiations. Call to attend
(Degree advancement)
Thelema Ldg.
2/23/97Gnostic Mass 7:30PM Horus TempleThelema Ldg.
2/24/97Sirius Oasis meeting 8PM BerkeleySirius Oasis
2/25/97Thelema Lodge Library night 8PM
(call to attend)
Thelema Ldg.
2/28/97"The Houses in Astrology" workshop
with Grace in Berkeley 7 PM
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.

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

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

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