Thelema Lodge Calendar for September 1997 e.v.

Thelema Lodge Calendar

for September 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

September 1997 e.v. at Thelema Lodge

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

Announcements from
Lodge Members and Officers

Autumnal Equinox Greetings

    As we observe the turning of the season, the members of Thelema Lodge send our best wishes to Thelemites throughout the world. Our lodge has enjoyed many wonderful visits this year from members near and far, whose presence has graced and instructed us, entertained and inspired us, amazed and aroused us, warmed and refreshed us. The corners of the year are times when we assemble to affirm our community specifically as a lodge of Ordo Templi Orientis, and thus to celebrate our contacts with initiates everywhere. As Sol enters Libra at 4:56 PM on Monday 22nd September, we will begin gathering in Horus Temple for a ritual that evening which will be underway at 7:30, preceded by shared feasting. Parts of our ritual will be reserved for active initiates of O.T.O., but non-member guests will be otherwise accommodated at these times and are welcome for the remainder of the event. Bring food and drink to contribute, or contact the lodge in advance to take part in the ritual.

Bulwer Lytton on Drugs

    The Thelema Lodge Section Two reading group will meet with Caitlin at 8:00 on Monday evening 8th September at Oz House to discuss and read selections from Lytton's novel A Strange Story (1862). Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, created the first Baron Lytton of Knebworth, died in 1873 at the age of seventy, and during his own century seemed to rank with his contemporaries Dickens, Collins, Trollope, and Thackeray among the foremost mid-Victorian novelists. His works range from high-fashion stories of wealthy life, and serious novels of Victorian social criticism, to crime stories, supernatural fiction, and works of pure fancy. He also wrote many historical novels and romances, some of which included substantial scholarly and archaeological data, especially The Last Days of Pompeii (1834). The mythos of the Golden Dawn and its Secret Chiefs was imprinted by Lytton's "Rosicrucian tale" Zanoni (1842), which so fascinated MacGregor Mathers that his wife used often to call him "Zan" around the house. More influential on Crowley himself was Lytton's last and most interesting novel, The Coming Race (1871), a utopian fantasy of the hollow earth, where a race of winged supermen have been evolving along Darwinian lines, adapting to harsh subterranean conditions, until they conquer the secret and explosive force of natural life known as VRIL, and begin to arm themselves for an invasion of the surface world.
    Besides earning a living writing novels -- before his mother, who cut off his income when he married, died and released his inheritance -- Lytton was not only a profound student of the occult, recognized as an adept and befriended by Eliphas Levi, but a very effective and successful politician as well. First elected a Member of Parliament in 1831, he eventually served several years as Colonial Secretary in the Tory government of Lord Derby, which led to his peerage. His collected Works were published in a thirty-eight volume edition during the year following his death.
    The Strange Story is subtitled An Alchemical Novel, though it is in many ways a typical melodramatic and contrived travesty of romantic psychology, as other significant novels of the early 1860s (such as The Woman in White or Great Expectations) tend to be. There is a Paracelsian aura of medical mystery also present, however, as the handsome young genius Dr. Allen Fenwick probes "the great principle of animal life" in response to his beloved Lilian's mysterious lapses into trance, which -- like the much earlier Frankenstein (1818) -- significantly foreshadows the central themes of science fiction writing in our own century. There are interesting discussions of drug use (including nitrous oxide in chapter 71), numerous metaphysical footnotes, and a veiled Australian priestess named Ayesha (after a wife of Muhammad; the same name which Rider Haggard used twenty-five years later for his goddess She). Crowley also recognized this book as an antecedent to some of his own formulations, and listed it with Zanoni at the head of its section in the A A reading list, where it is recommended as "valuable for its facts and suggestions about Magick."

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Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica

    Thelema Lodge welcomes all celebrants to the sanctuary of the gnosis for communion at mass each Sunday evening. To participate with us as the Gnostic Catholic Church, those who have not previously attended are welcome to call for directions from the lodgemaster at (510) 652-3171. Please arrive by 8:00 to await the ritual with the other members and guests in the lodge library. We are always looking for teams of mass officers at Horus Temple, and all members are encouraged to consider the ritual from the perspectives of the presiding officers, and thus by example learning the roles, to experiment with fulfilling them. Novice officers will do well to consult with one of our gnostic bishops for guidance, and when they have their mass team organized they can be allotted a date on the lodgemaster's calendar.

    From time to time the lodge receives mail, through the post or via the net, which merits sharing. The following letter, from a first-time EGC communicant, displays a perspective somewhat different from any of those that usually occupy these pages.

Dear John,
    Thank you for allowing me to join in your sacramental feast. It was a very warm and truly self-affirming experience. It was also very cosmologically advanced for something written before WWI. I was struck by all the references to the Earth as a planet and the Sun as a star, and to infinite space. I especially liked the line where the dead are talked of as incarnating on "this planet or another, or in any star". Crowley certainly seemed to recognize that we are not alone in the universe, and that interaction with extraterrestrial intelligence is not beyond our reach. It wouldn't surprise me if he himself was in touch with aliens at some time in his life; many founders of religions have been, though most haven't had the vocabulary to explain it scientifically.
    Thanks again for your hospitality. I wish I could make it every Sunday, but the trip from Pescadero is too much of a hike for me to take very often.
    Yours truly,
                                                                                               Jack Volly

From the Sacramento area:
    Hodos Chamilionis Camp has begun to activate what Grady McMurtry called "the war engine of the O.T.O." by offering the Gnostic Mass in Sacramento on the first Friday evening of each month. This month there is a tentative schedule for celebration of the Mass on the 5th, and also on 12th and 19th September. Please call the Camp at (916) 498-0455 for the time and location. Hodos Chamilionis Camp also has O.T.O. initiations into the Man of Earth degrees scheduled for Saturday 27th September, in cooperation with members of Mons Abeginus Camp in Marin County. Please call ahead to attend.

Events, Workshops, and Gatherings

    The Rites of Eleusis concludes this month with two performances held at Grace's Temple of Astrology in Berkeley. "The Rite of Mercury" will begin at 8:00 on Wednesday evening 3rd September. Leigh Ann has been discovering how the lawgiver, scientist, and patron of culture, whom Tahuti (Thoth) and Hermes had been originally, got demoted to the divine messenger, thief, and salesman later known as Mercury. Her suggestion is that perhaps his devotees became discouraged with this god's lack of integrity. In fact, for this occasion, we are all advised to come prepared to indulge our own schizophrenia.
    For the Rite of Luna on Monday evening 15th September we will assemble again at Grace's in Berkeley, at 7:30. Mikhelle requests that the audience favor white, silver, or blue costumes, and if possible bring musical instruments, particularly drums and bells.
    A Rite of Earth will be added on to ground out Crowley's cycle this year, in the afternoon on Saturday 27th September, with Heather and Lew coming down from Sacramento to organize it, but no details or location plans are yet available as we go to press.

    The College of Hard N.O.X. is an ongoing, open opportunity to opine in public. Any issue may be considered, from the most trivial and mundane matters of daily life to complicated questions of the most sublime aesthetic and spiritual import. So feel free to come and contribute, whatever your particular interests are (though an interest in Thelema would probably help!). Classes are held on the first and last Wednesday of every month. The meeting on September 3 is disguised as something called the Rite of Mercury and will be held at a location noted elsewhere in this calendar. The meeting on September 24 will begin, as usual, at 8 o'clock in the evening in the Thelema Lodge library. The proposed topic for this session is "The three Aleister Crowleys: Prophet, writer, human being." What are the differences between these three people, and why should Thelemites care?

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    Bill Heidrick's Tarot series continues our exploration of the Sword and Disk "small cards" in Tarot on Wednesday evening 17th September in San Anselmo at 7:30. If we attribute the twenty-two "Atu of Tahuti" (the "major trumps" of Tarot) to the letters on the paths of the Tree of Life, and perhaps the "court cards" to the sixteen unlettered "hidden paths", then obviously the "small cards" of the deck, numbered ace through ten, correspond to the ten basic sephera. Crowley wrote of Tarot as "a practical instrument for Qabalistic calculations and for divination." The cards are thus used to trace "the influence of the Ten Numbers and the Twenty-two Letters on man, and his best methods of manipulating their forces" -- The Book of Thoth (1944), p. 34. For directions or further information contact Bill via e-mail, or call ahead at (415) 454-5176.

Never Stop Learning

    "I summon therefore, by the power and authority entrusted to me, every great spirit and mind now on this planet incarnate to take effective hold of this transcendent force, and apply it to the advancement of the welfare of the human race."
                                                                 -- Crowley's "Preface" to Liber AL

    What better way to accomplish this than for us as Thelemites to nurture, teach, and guide our own children? Enriching them with the knowledge and power of the Thelemic community. Providing them with the tools they need to discover their inner selves, to rely on and respect themselves, and to trust their own instincts. Whether it be the child's Will to follow in the Thelemic tradition or not, they will have been given the necessary guidance to become creative, innovative thinkers and to discover truth for themselves.
    Our children are haphazardly thrown into a public school system that suppresses their spirits. A system that teaches them to fear others and themselves. They learn not to trust their own instincts or to listen to their own bodies. This "schooling" system was set up after the Industrial Revolution for the purpose of training factory workers in basic skills such as reading and computation, working and producing according to schedules. This system is not only obsolete, but it programs our children's minds and behaviors.
    In my opinion, an ideal solution would be to have a Thelemic School House, with children of varying ages and Thelemic teachers all working together to free our children's intellectual spirits. I am aware of what a huge undertaking this would be. The Thelemic families that do exist and have school-aged children are spread out across the whole country. It would practically have to be a boarding school, not to mention the financial challenge of it all.
    On the other hand, I won't just give up on our kids. I believe we need to have strong, self-sufficient communities. Groups prepared to live together and to "school" our own children. Taking on the responsibilities of having a positive effect on humanity by teaching our children to be soldiers of the New Aeon, to search out their own True Wills, and to "love one another with burning hearts." After all, learning in a nurturing environment together with positive socialization is what produces bright, interested, and emotionally healthy kids.
    For some, home schooling is an interim solution. Home schooling is legal across America. In California one of the most popular options is to file an R-4 affidavit to establish your home as a private school. The requirements are easily fulfilled. This is the route I am planning to take so I may teach my own children at home. I have discussed opening up my home to the children of my brothers and sisters who live in our general area. I have also started a Thelemic Home Schooling Group, specializing in offering and sharing information and support to other home schooling families in the greater Thelemic community. We have begun a quarterly publication which includes information on annual home schooling conferences and curriculum fares, magazines and newsletters, educational suppliers, a list of books about home schooling and learning that have Thelemic view points, lists of children's books that promote spirituality and creativity, book reviews, and a catalog of available curriculum packages and projects created by Thelemites. It also includes information on our newly formed Thelemic Children's Theater and Ritual Group, with a list of events, activities, and performances posted in our publications. To share information and ideas on any of these activities, or to receive a copy of our first publication, please send your name and address to Heather Schubert, 2025 - 28th Street #306, Sacramento, CA 95818. Never stop learning.

Crowley Classics

    This English version of the "passionate prose poem" written by an Arab woman with whom Crowley privately described himself as "in love" was published in The International 12:2 (New York: February 1918), pp. 51-52. The previous issue of that periodical had given her some advance editorial notice: "We must really introduce our readers to Izeh Kranil. She is Algerian by birth, half French, half Arab, and is one of the best known figures in literary and artistic circles in Europe." Later researchers have found that, despite his fond memories of her well-known figure, her celebrity seems not otherwise to have been recorded. Her work is unknown apart from this translation of what Crowley considered to be "one of the most remarkable pieces of literature everpenned; more fantastic, more fascinating than any of the visions of De Quincy and Coleridge" -- see his Magical Record for 1920 e.v., edited by Symonds and Grant (1972), p. 139.
    The quotations in the opening paragraphs are based upon lines from one of the "Ariettes oubliées" (forgotten songs) by Paul Verlaine, from his 1874 volume Romances sans paroles.
    The present editor dedicates this month's selection to our Minerval sister in Hawaii, Soror Kali Pele.

At the Feet of Our Lady of Darkness

translated by Aleister Crowley
from the French of Izeh Kranil

    Sullen and peevish, the weather steals their form from my desires! I turn over the leaves of my Verlaine; for "in my heart are tears as, in the city, rain." Devoutly I read him once more, and I burn incense to appease the mystic longing of my soul. And now, after a little, my spirit takes wing.
    Deserted, my eyes follow the coral verses; my fingers unconsciously turn the pages, while poems, other than these, engrave themselves upon my brain. Poems sacred or poems accurst? Does it matter so long as they are beautiful, so long as they make me quiver?
    It rains!
    The raindrops strum their melody upon the casements. Upon my heart, upon my skull they seem rhythmically to drive furrows whence my sensibility, and my thought, may germinate. "For weary heart, o the song of the rain."
    I have closed my Verlaine.
    I will go and wake softly the silent psaltery, with its sorrowful and sacred voice. It sings to me the pious poems of long since. They are yet more poignant when heard in a place unconsecrated. For this Temple of mine is the Temple of my own Goddess, Our Lady of Darkness, kind to initiates. This Temple of mine is consecrated. It is robed in old silks of China; rich rugs from the East; skins torn from the tawny terrors of the jungle; cushions soft as the marrow of a baby's bones. Sage is the smile of my gilded idols, and the ever-burning lamp which is cooking the essence destined to evoke my dreams, starred all over with strange butterflies, which lattice its lucidity, makes itself the tireless accomplice of my vice.
    The web of rushes, so hard, and yet so kind, lures me beyond resistance. My blood runs slow and cold within my veins. My eyes are overcast. My temples drone.
    "Quick, Nam, a pipe! Opium is so kindly when the heart is dying." And with his spindle fingers of amber, the boy cooks the drug. Eagerly I fill my lungs.
    "Now sing to me."
    Softly, with the very voice of prayer, her psalms the ancient airs of over- yonder. It seems as if a breeze laden with the enervating fragrance of the plains of Annam entered with it.
    He sings. I smoke.
    Little by little reality slips away.
    Now it is blue of twilight amid the rustle of leaves. The birds, weary of flying, send their complaints leaping to heaven, before they put their heads beneath their wings, and the sea, the great savage, with long groans, crushes against the rocks her lofty-prancing waves.
    The sun has hidden himself, staining the horizon with bloody weft. It is the hour of the mirage!
    Melancholy and slow, wrapped in a thousand sombre veils, I pass to and fro upon the bank, and listen to the eternal moan of the waters, and the light song of the breeze. The full fledged grass of the little wood near by, washed by the dew (and o so softly green!), asks me to trample it with my bare feet.
    Briskly I take off my sandals, and so, upright in the wet greensward, wrapped closely in my veils, I think myself a great black lily, born from a magic wand.
    And now I sway like the flowers on their stalks. I sway because the breeze is soft; because the sea and the leaves make music together. I sway because the dance is in myself, and because the rhythm of the waters cries to me, "Dance!"
    Slowly, in cadence, I open my arms, because the branches do the same; my eyes half closed; my head keeps time with the Universe; my legs shudder; my feet irresistibly tear themselves from the ground to dance. I am going to dance until I lose breath; to dance for myself; to dance for the stars. Drunk with the fragrance of damp earth, and pine, I twist and wheel till my veils fall; until the dew covers my naked body with its dissolving kiss, until my hair falls free, and lends a lovelier veil to my dance.
    I dance like one hypnotized. I clasp in my hair my hands. I bound and writhe in one immense desire for pleasure.
    Now the breeze, light and warm, flits by as if the captive of my madness. The stars glint like the eyes of perverts. The sea herself has ceased its moan. It seems as if nature herself was dumb in order to admire me, and now, tiptoe, with all my body soaring, I feel myself deliciously seduced by pride.
    Shining like emerald, and as green, a beautiful serpent stands before me. His little fascinating eyes fix me, and his body, still more shining in the moonlight, sways, as subtle and as strong as myself.
    I dance again. I dance continually because his eyes have told me, "It is not harm that I would do you."
    Slowly he sinks to the ground. He curls in upon himself, but his gaze never leaves mine -- and I dance; I dance continually --.
    From the abyss of the deep awaken squids. They cling to each other with their tentacles. Joyfully and lightly they run towards me, with little leaps upon the small white waves. O beautiful dancers!
    Here they are; they surround me; they dance with me --.
    Strange lights afloat that blind me!
    With my eyes closed I wheel upon myself; and, as I bend, my hair kisses the grass, and seems to wish to melt in it. Lively I leap up to break the spell; to feel running over my whole body the electric shudder that they unleash.
    Strange floating perfumes intoxicate me. Strange floating sounds tear me away, and deafen me. I dance; I dance, but I no longer know it, and my hair is now so heavy that it drags me down. Now I relax beyond reaction, for in the earth my hair is rooted like the grass. O dread!
    Now I am rivetted to the earth. My heart bounds in my breast, that sobs so strongly that I think it will kill me; and of all that surrounds me I know no more.
    Slowly the serpent crawls over my body. Softly he presses me with his rings, as a timid lover might have done. Then still more softly his teeth nibble at my breast. And now he has gone away as if afraid of his own boldness.
    And now, mastering me, they only, the squids, dance a mad saraband around my body, whose impotent leaps revolt in vain.
    Strange seering laughter floats around me. O to be able to tear myself from the damp soil! O to be able to cut off this hair that has betrayed me!
    What would be the good? I am weary, weary. And now the squids, bended over me, fix me with their vast phosphorescent eyes, with eyes such as I never knew, and a long shudder of terror ripples my skin.
    Now they resume their maniac gallop . . . But whence prowl these sinister sneers of laughter?
    O if I could only fly!
    One of them leaves the dance, reaches towards me his horrible arms. I shut my eyes in the hope of losing consciousness, and I suffer the rape of his thousand mouths, which one after the other kiss me, and leave me, like fingers playing on a piano.
    Now another advances; now another, and yet a third. Now every one of them plays upon my body, living keyboard, the most maddening sonata of sensuality.
    I gasp and writhe, I shriek, I faint away; so sweet, so dangerous is the drunkenness which devours me!
    Pity! my breath fails. Pity, one moment!
    But what is this sneering laughter, and what frightful burning gnaws my whole being?
    Little by little I feel my limbs weaken. My blood runs forth like a mountain torrent. It is they; it is they who so greedily drink it: so greedily, that I shall not have time to taste the flavor of this death!
    They have taken all my bodily life; but they have spared my brain in lust of torture; to leave me conscious of the universe, to leave me the right to agonize!
    If they only knew!
    But they know not. Now that they are fed full, now that they have done their murder, they move gorged away, crawling heavily, hideous to behold. And in the bosom of the deep they go to slumber.
    Rivetted to this wounded, lifeless body, I still think. I think intensely, for no longer does anything of matter touch me with its foil. I hover in the highest spheres, where never human may attain; there I am at my ease. Now nothing is any longer too beautiful, or too great, or too pure. I am a freed spirit, a brain redeemed. I am Thought itself, robed and throned among its hand-maidens of understanding.
    And suddenly a great pity encompasses me, a pity for that poor body, worn and inert, which is no longer I; which I look upon as a tedious disease conquered at last.
    And that is how, thinking to leave me only the right of martyrdom, they leave the right to beatitude; the right to Godhead! . . .

*         *         *         *         *

    A warm and familiar perfume of dry leaves that shrivel, and of smoking chocolate, comes to tribadize my nostrils. The soft chanting of a beloved voice dissolves the dream. It flies. I find myself once more still stretched on the accustomed web of rushes amid the little Indian gods with their riddling smiles.
    It is Nam, the faithful Nam, the epicene boy; himself the image of an idol that softly psalms the antique airs of his forsaken fatherland.
    His sure instinct warns him of the end of the dream, and like a jeweller with a pearl beyond price, with his long limpid fingers he kneads the cone of miracle that makes man equal to the gods.

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from the Grady Project:

    This is presumably an early poem, representing a fictitious situation. No information seems to have survived regarding its associations. In its melodramatic tone and its experimental prosody it strikes the present editor as the work of an ambitious but still very young poet, who has nevertheless begun some occult studies; we would suggest a date perhaps early in 1941 e.v.

My Phoenix of Golgotha

I looked at you and you were dead.
You lay supine, your well groomed head
Was cradled in the cushioned bier.
I looked at you, there was no fear
Within my choked and troubled heart
For you who were of me a part
Yet knew not of the grief I bore.
The life that swirled within your core
Is gone; and what there here remains
Will follow soon beyond the pains
Of life; the ecstasy we knew
Within the love life of we two

Is also gone, and yet, my Life,
My sweet, my lovely teasing wife
You lie and are to me as real
As when your hard pressed body's feel
Returned my yearning, hot desire
With your own joyous, fervent fire.
Your comely body I adored
And that was why I sought to hoard
Your beauty to myself alone
At first, and then you were my own
I knew and jealousy was gone;
Of hate I was no more a pawn
But gloried when men turned to see
That which I held so close to me.

And now you're dead, and I am hurt;
I feed you to the senseless dirt.
Yet even as I know this thought
The tendrils of my soul are caught
To whip and writhe within a tone;
An essence that within you shone
Extends its light, caressing kiss
Across the ageless, black abyss.
The Tree of Life from which we grew
Reveals its heart to us, as you
Your love and benediction give;
Within my heart, again you live!

                 -- Grady L. McMurtry

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An Introduction to Qabalah

Part XXXI -A Little Play.

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

    There are learning exercises that can be done with the Tree of Life. Most use a simple form of the diagram, perhaps with letters and numbers or just the names of the Sephirot. Although it can be a little daunting at first, one of the most effective is just to say the first thing that comes into your mind when your eye chances to light on a path or Sephira. There will be some connection between your words, thoughts or feelings and that particular part of the Tree. See if you can identify the relationship. This approach can be turned into a game for several people, and that may be the best way to try it. Do not consider any attempt to be a "miss". There will always be some connection, even if it is only in the particular sort of hesitancy or fidget that manifests when a remark is made. Naturally, this works best after some study of the Tree. This method does not attempt to analyze complex relationships between the parts of the Tree. The point is to try direct reaction to one part at a time. Avoid placing any Tarot cards, colors or other correspondences on the diagram for this practice. Write down your response in one sentence or two sentences, as briefly as you can. Alternatively, talk into a tape recorder.

    This series of articles is mostly from a Hod way of studying the Tree, over all. Even though different sections of the installments are intended to approach Qabalah from the points of view of different Sephirot, the whole series is like a small Tree of Life set inside the Hod of a larger Tree, since it attempts to discuss Qabalah by explanation and experiment. One "lives" the experience of Qabalah from Tipheret; but, to discuss it one has to describe it, and such description comes from Hod. To see someone's relationship to Qabalah fully as Tipheret, you would have to follow them around all day. Here we reach down into a life experience of Qabalah in Tipheret and then to the Hod of the Tree within Tipheret. The groups of articles are further divided into aspects of Qabalah appropriate to each of the Sephirot. Those form a third Tree within the Hod of the Tree within the Tipheret of the writer's Tree of Qabalah -- thus we see how Trees within Trees can be found even in such a thing as this writing. There are other Trees involved too, but three is enough for the moment.

    If you look at various diagrams of the Tree, such as the ones with the little Tarot Cards on them, there is a special relation of symmetry. One can see balancing Sephirot, like Hod and Netzach, Geburah and Netzach, and other pairs. Different aspects of opposition or supplementation can be seen in this way. There is also a way of seeing balance between a Sephira and a single or composite path. The main composite path that balances Hod is that of Yod and Ayin, connecting Chesed across Tipheret to Hod, a line like the stick for a lollipop. Hod is a Virgoish way of seeing things. The obscurity of mental blinding at Ayin gives way to a sort of intentness at Yod, displaying both the weakness and strength of Hod. The single path opposite Netzach through Tipheret is Lamed, the Ox Goad. This path disciplines Netzach, by nature a place where the mind has difficulty getting organized to the point of maintaining a steady balance. Hod can be balanced through Qof in a different manner. Pisces, for the path of Qof, is a counterbalance to the rational mind. Instead of thinking how things may be in terms of ideas, Qof uses feelings.
    There are other places to look for balance. The path of Hay balance the path of Shin and thus the link of Malkut and Hod. Experiment with these things. Explore the Tree in this way, seeking explanation not only in particular parts but also in symmetry across the diagram.

Previous, Part XXX                   Next: Space inversions.

Primary Sources

    The readers of the TLC may sometimes look at this particular "Primary Sources" column with a degree of puzzlement. From time to time, items appear here with a bit of instruction, some insight into method or a contribution to history. More often than not, we present that most stale of all commodities, generations old gossip, seasoned with the ruminations of confusion so long trodden as to have the character and consistency of plain mud -- to say nothing of muck and other moral pissantry. There is a certain prurient pleasure in reading such things, but that is not the purpose of this effort. Primary Sources is a technical term meaning "first hand" or "original, not derived, documentation". The media used for the TLC do not quite manage to provide that level of access, but transcription of such documents is done here. With few exceptions, this is not material intended for publication, cleaned and polemicized for sanitary consumption. These writings include memoranda, letters, diary fragments and "feet of clay" stuff that comes stumbling out into the light of scrutiny. Some spin is unavoidable, in the selection and in the introductory remarks.
    Why do this? Why not cherish the careful and junk the scribblings? Can't the dead have peace without a continual savoring of their unsavories? Isn't the raking of muck the cheapest counterfeit of scholarship? Well, to the last question, yes it is. However, this is not entirely that. It is not the purpose of this column to taint, to abuse or even to expose. A clean and bowdlerized presentation is for children, and that notion is not entirely defensible in itself. One of the great bars to attainment and historic perspective is the "white lie". Our predecessors are made paragons, without human weakness and without the possibility of emulation. By selecting too narrowly and simplifying too much, all but legend comes to be lost. Those who come to an order, be it OTO or aught else, tend often to believe in a fantasy not to be found in life. Disappointment is the consequence. Things created through, composed of and led by real people are not Pollyana perfect. Squabbling and stupidity happen. This, then, is the purpose of "Primary Sources", to provide the raw matter of history, warts and all. From it we can see the humanity in our myth and draw lessons for our edification as raw as tainted oysters. Even when the paper of this edition passes away to the last copy, some of the electronic files made available on the Internet, on ISP's and on BBS's may survive. The original documents will pass away, but through this endeavor something of their living voice may persist for future generations. Local OTO newsletters and periodicals around the world do this service for the present. This column does it for the past.
    To underscore and clarify the need, here is an excerpt from Studies and Texts in Folklore, Magic, Medieval Romance, Hebrew Apocrypha and Samaritan Archaeology, works of Moses Gaster, Ktav Publishing House, New York, 1971, SBN 87068-056-0, Vol. II, pp. 725 to 726. This is the first two paragraphs of "Popular Judaism at the Time of the Second Temple in the Light of Samaritan Traditions", read on September 17, 1908 before the Congress of the History of Religions, Oxford.

    I wish to attack a problem which to my knowledge has hitherto not received that full attention which its importance deserves, viz. -- which were the popular beliefs and popular practices among the Jews, especially in the provinces and in the Diaspora, during the centuries before and after the destruction of the Second Temple?
    There are no contemporary sources which could throw light on the religious beliefs and practices of the Jews during that period. The literary tradition of a purely Jewish character starts later, and is embodied in the Aggadic and Halachic works emanating from certain schools. These represent partly the practical and partly the theoretical developments of tradition, and allow only by inference conclusions of the real life led by the people in Jerusalem. Little, if any, of the popular practices outside Jerusalem can be found in these writings. The same holds good for the Apocryphal literature which has recently been the object of scientific investigation. These writings emanate also mostly from Scribes; their authors are learned men: they live mostly, if not exclusively, in Jerusalem. Their thoughts, conceptions, and ideas centre round the Temple and its worship, and no notion is taken except in a few stray allusions of the practices followed by the people at large, and by those who lived far away from Jerusalem. Each author of these Aprocryphal writings seems to have a standpoint of his own, and his range of vision is limited by the fact that almost every one of the writers is engaged in polemical warfare. Each one tries to confound his neighbour and to uphold strenuously one special point of view. He may be the exponent of a school of thought or of a political religious faction. But these were not the views of the general public, of the mass of the nation, who took very little interest in the party fights going on between the various sects inside Jerusalem. This explains why there seems to be such a profound gap between the beliefs and notions contained in the Aprocryphal writings and the Bible, Old Testament as well as the New Testament. Many beliefs and practices in the latter appear, therefore, somewhat strange, and attempts have been made for a long time to find their origin and explanations in extraneous sources and extraneous influences. One source of information has hitherto, however, been somewhat neglected. I am alluding to the Samaritans.

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Here are some edited selections from recent email discussion:

A.R. asked for an explanation of Ruach Elohim, Spirit of the Gods

    "Ruach" is a Hebrew word meaning "breath". It is used to designate that particular soul or part of the greater soul that constitutes a personality. Hence, the personal spirit.
    "Elohim" is the first word for the deity in the Hebrew text of the opening book of the Bible. Where a typical translation of the first verse of Genesis may be: "In the beginning God created the Heaven and the Earth", the word usually translated as "God" is "Elohim" in the original Hebrew language. The inconvenience for monotheists is that "Elohim" is a plural word. This is usually got 'round by saying that it is a "plural of majesty", such as kings and popes use when they refer to themselves as "we". That seems less than convincing. Where is the ancestry of God, that God may say "we" to refer to his house and dynasty of gods gone before?
    Ruach Elohim is sometimes associated with the Holy Spirit in Christianity, but that is not a universal custom.

G.M. raised questions about Thelema, religion, Magick and belief.

    Religion requires a fixed belief, and an unqualified belief in Liber AL will do for that. The common trappings of religion and magick both require a flexible belief, whether it's simply the ability to merge with the atmosphere of a mass or the mental switch that makes a banishing ritual work. Non-belief is itself a belief. Certainty in something of the character exhibited by Thelema is a type of refinement or quintessence behind simple belief. Faith is fixed and involuntary. Belief is a modality of communication, even within a single mind. The overlap is tricky. If one believes, that is obvious. If one fixates on a specific non-belief, that is itself necessarily a belief. Even if one fixates on Agnosticism, denial of Gnosis, that is a belief. If one simply doesn't care, that is not belief. Performing a ritual or partaking in a mass employs belief as an exercise of will. Belief is no more nor less than a creation of the mind, a separate reality imposed by fixation on some imaginary state. It may be imposed from without and may become involuntary. Some form of belief is essential for all magical undertakings, since it is the primary means by which all such workings are done. The Magus is beyond the Magick, a creator of worlds and world views which are themselves composed of beliefs.
    Flexible belief is the key to magical changes. A banishing ritual is a means of imposing disbelief in the existence of that which is to be banished. An invocation is the opposite, a creation of particular belief in existence. The question of the objectivity of magick depends on how widely these actions of belief and disbelief propagate. If they remain in the mind of the magician, it is subjective only. If they effect the outer world, that is called objective.
    Faith is involuntary belief. Fixated belief is similar, but not the same. Epistemology, observation, is one of the great traps that lead to involuntary belief. It also must be challenged and manipulated, but it furnishes patterns which can be useful in the realms of time and society. E.g., does the Sun rise or does the Earth rotate? There is no real difference in the matter, but cultural changes in that flexion of belief have resulted in death and derision at different periods in history.

G. Opened the question of deliberate induction of biochemical and glandular reactions as part of initiation.

    With only vicarious emotion, there is no initiation. The candidate must go through enough of an active, corporeal involvement to "set" the body into various states. This is a somatic experience, partly parallel and partly overlapping the notion of a witnessed oath and the "holder of one's oath". If you just promise yourself something, in the quiet of the night, you may or may not carry through -- the whole thing depends on what's inside you. With a witnessed oath, it doesn't ultimately matter that you might just walk away -- a change has occurred beyond yourself in the world, and others' lives are now changed as well. With the chakras involved (neuro-glandular complexes that act like "little minds"), an initiation ritual physically changes you slightly. It's not as heavy an imprint as a child may take by being struck violently to the floor by his father, so that he never forgets seeing a salamander in the fireplace; but it is of that sort.
    Initiation surprises are not just jolt for jolt's sake, but a decided physical adjusting. One may think of being thrown in a swimming pool, to sink or learn to swim (with a life guard handy just in case). Another metaphor would have a child approach a piano and sing a note while the damper peddle is depressed. In the silence after, the piano will echo that note and the child will come to realize and associate a state of body with the response of a minutum mundum.

N.P. Asked about an unusually strong and persistent sensation from the Svadhishthana following meditation.

    When a particular chakra is activated in the body in that fashion, it is desirable to use pranayama to balance the ida and pingala in the body, spreading the effect quietly to other principle chakras along the spine. Vigorous pranayama might induce an undesirable kundalini arousal surge, so it is better to release bonts at neck, abdomen and anus during this part of an exercise. A slow four-fold breath with imagination of soft light diffusing along the spine and out to the extremities is helpful. If a too vigorous pranayam is done during this sort of excitement, a sudden release of kundalini up the spine could occur. This is perceived as a rising sensation of paralysis from the genital area through the body trunk to the neck and beyond. It can be quite distressing as it passes the chest, through lungs and heart. This is quickly past and physical harm is very rare. However, fright taken during the experience can set blocks which would prevent a more controlled use of the technique later on. Vigorous mantra is best avoided during such a quieting, to avert this effect until one is ready for it. A pleasant intonation, with any quiet and "bubbling" sound may help.
    Death from such a rising is very rare, but it is known in medicine as "Landry's paralysis", a spontaneous stoppage of the breathing and heart during a quick progression of paralysis upward along the spine. Normally, this is just a very brief stoppage with immediate resumption of autonomic function. Fear induced by the experience is the main problem, since it will interfere with later work. Otherwise, it is no more dangerous than vigorous exercise. Athletes also experience brief "heart attacks" during peak effort. If you have a heart condition, this is not a safe thing to do.
    One of the values of pranayama is that it furnishes a physical means to set up the conditions for the experience. Excessive dependence on mental methods can result in loss of the ability to attain the same results over time. The brain and distributed nervous/glandular system changes as the body ages, notably after growth stops about age 25. It's like designing and building things. If you work "by eye" rather than by measured drawing, there may come a time when you have to relearn skills, as vision changes over the years. If you carve an object with hand tools, the skill resides in your hands and will not fail you as long as you can use your hands. Learn yoga techniques with pranayama, so that you can induce the desired states in future years simply by regulating breathing. Pranayama will help in itself, but it's chief value is to train the body to assist in returning to the same state year after year, providing simple and reliable control. Pranayama may be quite complex and varied, especially when combined with mantrah of a dozen words or more.

-- TSG (Bill Heidrick)

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Thelema Lodge Events Calendar for September 1997 e.v.

9/3/97Rite of Mercury, 8PM at Grace's
in Berkeley
Thelema Ldg.
9/5/97Gnostic Mass in Sacramento
Date and time tentative
Hodos Cham.
9/7/97Gnostic Mass 8:00PM Horus TempleThelema Ldg.
9/18/97Section II reading group with
Caitlin: Bulwer Lytton's A Strange
, at Oz house, 8 PM
Thelema Ldg.
9/10/97Thelema Lodge Library night 8PM
(call to attend)
Thelema Ldg.
9/14/97Lodge Luncheon meeting 12:30Thelema Ldg.
9/14/97Gnostic Mass 8:00PM Horus TempleThelema Ldg.
9/15/97Rite of Luna, 7:30PM at Grace's
in Berkeley
Thelema Ldg.
9/17/97Tarot with Bill Heidrick, 7:30 PM
in San Anselmo at 5 Suffield Ave.
Thelema Ldg.
9/21/97Gnostic Mass 8:00PM Horus TempleThelema Ldg.
9/22/97Atumnal Equinox ritual 7:30Thelema Ldg.
9/24/97College of Hard NOX 8 PM
with Mordecai
Thelema Ldg.
9/27/97Rite of Earth (call for details)Thelema Ldg.
9/28/97Gnostic Mass 8:00PM Horus TempleThelema Ldg.
9/29/97Sirius Oasis meeting 8:00 PM
in Berkeley
Sirius Oasis

    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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