Thelema Lodge Calendar for December 1998 e.v.

Thelema Lodge Calendar

for December 1998 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, 1998 e.v.

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

December 1998 e.v. at Thelema Lodge

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

Announcements from
Lodge Members and Officers

Solstice Greetings:
Dark Triumph of Set

    It's the season of N.O.X. and the long nights are upon us, with the longest being the Winter Solstice on Monday 21st December. Sol enters Capricornus that evening at 5:57. Lodge members and friends will be gathering shortly afterwards for a ritual in Horus Temple, to be followed by a communal dinner feast in the lodge kitchen. Please make advance arrangements with the lodge officers to contribute to our meal.

    The word from the lodge's star-gazing consultant is not to miss the Geminids meteor shower in the middle of this month. Best seen around 2:00 in the morning on Monday 14th December, the astral display is predicted to be unusually intense this year. "Gemini, headed by Castor and Pollux, will rise around midnight. Given clear skies, warm clothes, and a resolute will, one should be able to see at least one meteor per minute until dawn."

    So stay up late aftermass that night if there's a sky visible, and catch the Twins' drift.

    For the dark of the year, we've organized some extra candlelight events, in hopes of keeping the temple warm this season by reading the complete series of visions of the Aethyrs from The Vision and the Voice. Meet on each evening of the reception of Liber 418 to hear the vision of the "ayre," at 8:00 if nothing else is scheduled, but sometimes earlier to avoid conflicting with other events. On some days two separate aethyrs were explored, and will be read together in the same evening. The table below provides dates for this month's readings in the series, concluding the ascent through the lower ayres which we began in November. Contact Frater Majnun if you would like to take part in this project by reading one of the Aethyrs.

18-ZENTuesday, 1st Dec., 8PM
17-TANWednesday, 2nd Dec., 7PM
16-LEAWednesday, 2nd Dec., 7:30PM
15-OXOThursday, 3rd Dec., 8PM
14-UTIThursday, 3rd Dec., 8PM
13-ZIMFriday, 4th Dec., 8PM
12-LOEFriday, 4th Dec., 8PM
11-IKHSaturday, 5th Dec., 8PM
10-ZAXSunday, 6th Dec., 7PM
9-ZIPMonday, 7th Dec., 8PM
8-ZIDTuesday, 8th Dec., 8PM
7-DEOWednesday, 9th Dec., 8PM
6-MAZThursday, 10th Dec., 8PM
5-LITSaturday, 12th Dec. (part 1), 8PM
Sunday, 13th Dec. (part 2), 7PM
4-PAZWednesday, 16th Dec., 8PM
3-ZONThursday, 17th Dec., 7PM
2-ARNFriday, 18th Dec. (parts 1-3), 8PM
Sunday 20th Dec. (part 4), 7PM
1-LILSaturday 19th Dec., 8PM

Principles, Paradigms, and Practices of Evocation

with Nathan Bjorge

    This month on Tuesday evenings 15th, 22nd, and 29th December at 8:00, I will be hosting a three part seminar on the topic of evocation of spirits, to be held in the lodge library.
    The first class will attempt to outline a general philosophical approach to understanding the cross-cultural experience of contact with magical entities. Elements of the thought of Martin Heidegger, Mircia Eliade, and Hubert Dreyfus, among others, will be examined and woven into a coherent theory of the phenomena in question. I have no illusions as to the tentative nature of this outline, but I have found it useful in my practice, and therefore wish to begin my class by sharing it. Those with an interest in the more obscure and tantalizing facets of modern metaphysics and epistemology will enjoy this first class.
    The topic of the second session will involve an examination of various cultural paradigms of human interactions with the spiritual, and the ways in which these contexts affect magicians' understanding and approach to evocation. The Christian goetic magician who uses the authority given him by God to command the evil demons that abound in this sinful world does not necessarily come to his practice with the same goals as the Thelemic adept. We will examine and explore these differences, as well as present one possible coherent viewpoint structure for Thelemites to use in their evocation practice.
    The final class will be a discussion of actual practical ceremonial evocation. I will provide examples of actual workings with spirits from the original grimoire created by my personal working group, as well as my own set of spells for the summoning, controlled interaction with, and banishing of magical entities. A great deal of hand-on techniques will be discussed, and the emphasis will be on the direct application of the principles covered.

It N.O.X. for Thee

    The College of Hard N.O.X. is Thelema Lodge's frank and free discussion group devoted to topics of interest to Thelemites. We meet promptly at eight o'clock on the first and last Wednesday evenings of each month. In December those dates are the 2nd and the 30th. Once the class is assembled our usual custom is to have the Dean announce the proposed topic for that session's talk. If he has done his job properly the ensuing conversation is both pertinent and involving for the entire next 2+ hours.
    On 2nd December we will examine the phenomenon of proselytism as it appears in Thelema. Are certain kinds of missionary activity incumbent upon all Thelemites, or just Crowley, or not all? Where exactly is that fine line between giving away free copies of Liber Legis, or making sure that it's translated into as many languages as possible, and going door to door or proselytizing on street corners? "But remember, o chosen one, to be me; to follow the love of Nu in the star-lit heaven; to look forth upon men, to tell them this glad word." Is that not the original meaning of the word "evangelist", a spreader of good news? This subject, just as will December's other topic, also implies a discussion of that recurring question "Is it a sin to quote the Book Of The Law at an official O.T.O. event?"
    The theme for 30th December, chosen for its appropriateness to the darkest season of the year, is death. "Death is forbidden, o man, unto thee." It's also fore-bidden. We will approach the issue from numerous standpoints, from the never-changing fact of physical termination that is the inevitable fate of every body (Muhammed said of death that it is "closer than the vein in your neck.") to the mystical significance of the so-called death of the ego (Crowley said of death, "Die daily!"). Most specifically we'll discuss the very many positive and joyous uses of death symbolism in the Thelemic canon. A common sneer of skeptics against religion is that it's all based on the individual, terrified of extinction, finding some comfort in beliefs about a personal afterlife or rebirth. Then there's also the emotional `comfort of knowing that heaven waits to reward those suffering on earth while their prosperous persecutors will reap their punishments in hell. In fact, this particular religious schema is only one among many, and only gradually became dominant along with the Judaeo-Christo-Islamic world-view. The Thelemic world-view is obviously quite different. "Thrill with the joy of life & death! Ah! thy death shall be lovely: whoso seeth it shall be glad. Thy death shall be the seal of the promise of our agelong love. Come! Lift up thine heart & rejoice! We are one; we are none." Which brings us back rather emphatically to the multifaceted nature of death. Its physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual occurrences may not necessarily coincide in time and space, any more than body, heart, mind, and soul are the names of entities which inhabit one and the same universe. "Aye! feast! rejoice! there is no dread hereafter. There is the dissolution, and eternal ecstasy in the kisses of Nu. There is death for the dogs."

Previous NOX                   Next NOX

Mysteries of Lieber Albert

    "Cruel Crowley cruelly laughed." Join Caitlin and the Section Two reading group on Monday evening 14th December for some reading and discussion of Robert Anton Wilson's novel Masks of the Illuminati. Needless to say, this is one of the titles we've added to Crowley's original bibliography, but it has been one of the most often recommended when we've asked for suggestion to update the A A reading list. Masks was published in April of 1981 e.v. by Simon & Schuster's Pocket Books division in New York, and is not so easy to find these days on the used science fiction bookshelves. With James Joyce and Albert Einstein among its principal characters, it's one of those playful post-modernist page-turners which sold so well as paperbacks in the 1970s and '80s. It's very much a novel for people who like to read Crowley books, and is even designed to look something like one of his works, with portentous latinate subtitles, diagrams of magical implements, and numerous epigrams, quotations, and narrative shifts. Crowley himself appears towards the end as a powerful and rather sinister but still good-natured character, and there is some good conversational banter between the Master Therion, Joyce, and Lieber Al Einstein. These personages are of course not rendered as biographical characters; the book carries the usual novelistic coincidence disclaimer about "any resemblance to persons living or dead." They are hardly even characters at all, but only conversational voices, generated with certain stylized elements of their namesakes' writings in mind. It all comes to quite a fine romp nevertheless, and the portrayal of our hero is a much more impressive and meaningful pastiche of Crowley and his writing style than we saw in The Magician (1908) by Maugham, or in Jepson's No. 19, or M. R. James's Mr Karswell in "Casting the Runes" (both 1910).
    "Did you imagine that Truth was a dog that will come when you whistle? Did not I.N.R.I. warn you what the alchemical transformation costs? Were you not aware at the beginning that you would be required to face everything you fear?"
    "But Einstein said quietly: Don't deny that you've been cruel."

Previous Section Two                   Next Section Two

Ouranous Collective

    The Ouranous Ritual Group is a workshop for the serious and eccentric to explore and expand their energy in a ceremonial ritual setting. This is not a class or a theater for the meek of heart to sit back and watch a performance piece. Wallflowers have their place in scenery (but only if the wall is inverted to become a naked altar). Come the 2nd and 3rd Thursday of the month at 8:00 to Horus Temple for an evening of freeform energy and fire. The sky is the limit and the infinite at our disposal.

Fourth Degree Examination

    Candidates for the IV° are invited to present themselves before a Council of Princes at Thelema Lodge to undergo the examination for advancement, which will be administered on Saturday afternoon 12th December at 2:00. The IV° written exam is open to applicants who have been initiates of the III° for at least one year (eighteen months being the traditional minimum period, still strongly recommended by the lodge). It consists of a few of the most basic columns from Liber 777, which have to be completed with all of the information they contain. Anyone who has used the attributions of the Tarot deck and the Hebrew alphabet will easily understand what is required. It is not a qualifying exam, upon which any particular level of expertise will be required for advancement, but an opportunity for candidates to evaluate their own knowledge of the central correspondences upon which the work of the next degree may be based. To undergo the examination and apply for candidacy, qualified III° members should contact the lodge officers ahead of time, then be present in the lodge library for the test. All candidates for initiation this winter must have their application forms completed, with sponsorship attested and ready, at the time of this exam. (Those without completed applications may still take the exam, but cannot be initiated in the coming season.) Candidates are seriously advised to consider very fully their advancement at this level; it would be foolhardy to rush into obligations - whether they be financial, fraternal, or magical - which one cannot see the way clear toward maintaining. For those who are ready to continue, the exam provides a measurement of the candidate's progress in one particular sort of understanding, and the scores which it generates will be of concern primarily to the candidates themselves.

Our Correspondent Reports:

DuQuette Gives Gnostic Mass
Seminar in Portland

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

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Berkeley,

    First of all I'd like to thank John Brunie and Mordecai Shapiro for getting me off my ass and telling the tale of my Portland experience. I write like a stubborn mule most of the time, but as I seem to have been one of the few Berkeley Thelemites to have attended Lon DuQuette's Gnostic mass seminar in Oregon, it falls on my shoulders to give a report of the proceedings.
    Lon Milo DuQuette: archbishop of the EGC, high degree of the OTO, master of Heru-Ra-Ha lodge, favored disciple of Grady McMurtry, author of a number of popular books, husband and father; Lon virtually defines the Thelemic establishment. Lon has dedicated his life to the cause of Thelema, and, given the importance of Liber XV for our community, for him to have something to say about it deserves at least our notice.
    . . . And say something he did. The seminar - four hours of intensely detailed, line by line analysis of the mass - was followed that evening with a performance of the ritual by Lon and his wife Constance. The lecture was an excellent presentation of information. DuQuette has a gift for public speaking, and is firmly conversant in his material, both magically and intellectually. Beginning with a general discussion of the Thelemic Eucharist and of the current structure of the EGC within the OTO, Lon then bridged into a close reading of the Liber XV text itself. Each of the important magical elements was fully discussed.
    If I had a reservation with the style of Lon's presentation, it was with his occasional lack of tact in presenting himself to his audience. I can understand his disallowing audio recording (a legitimate preference of any speaker); or even his unwillingness to entertain questions during the lecture (there being simply too much material to get through). But not to allow questions after the presentation gave a somewhat odd impression. Also, to have simply noted the aforementioned real reasons for not allowing questions or recordings would have been acceptable to everyone, but instead Lon went on to claim that questions would be unacceptable because it might require him to violate his oath, and that he needed room to say precisely what he intended and no more and no less, because he and his wife "know what we have Become" (unquote). There is nothing wrong with these kinds of statements per se, but to use them as reasons for disallowing discussion could only rub his audience the wrong way. To come off in this manner was certainly not Lon's intention, but I do feel that his presentation was somewhat strained in this regard.
    Something I appreciated very much about the seminar was Lon courage in addressing head on a number of controversial issues within the EGC. These areas of tension need to be out in the open, and Lon is to be highly praised for not copping out over the tricky bits of Liber XV. Though I happened to concur with many of Lon's opinions in these matters, it was perhaps inevitable that there were others that I disagreed with. I am not going to burden the present review with a point by point discussion of how my personal views on parts of the Mass differ from Lon Milo DuQuette's personal views on parts of the Mass. Instead I want to generalize and argue for why I feel that having room in the Order for people to have just these kinds of differences of interpretation is so important.
    There has been a lot said in Berkeley about the 'differences' between Mass as performed here and in L.A. and other locations. Perhaps too much has been said. We have always prided ourselves in our EGC congregation on our approach to the Mass and on our community's interpretation of certain stylistic and textual issues. This commitment to congregationalism has been a source of strength for us, and many feel that our particular interpretations are superior. Good. Yet upholding our right to perform the Mass in the style that we do requires us also to affirm the rights of others to perform and conceive of the Mass in different ways than we do. All fine and well. The difficulty would arise if we were to attempt to force our approach upon another congregation. The variety of performance among various congregations are a strength and not a detriment to the Order. This level of diversity should be supported by us. In so doing we support ourselves.
    Whether or not the priestess remains disrobed after the veil is parted is ultimately the personal decision of that particular priestess. Period. That our priestesses almost universally disrobe, and that this is generally not an area of tension with our congregation is a tribute to us, and we should be proud of it. However, in the opinion of the author, it is not appropriate to expect this from other congregations, or to look down on them for not following our style.
    Ultimately, we are wary of one particular interpretive community of Liber XV asserting their community-specific viewpoint over another group. Therefore, while I deeply respect Lon DuQuette speaking his mind, any difficulty I might have had with this was not over the views expressed by him. Rather, the tricky bit was his tendency not to distinguish between L. M. DuQuette speaking for Heru-Ra-Ha Lodge and its congregation, and L. M. DuQuette O.T.O. officer and Archbishop speaking authoritatively on these controversial areas for the EGC as a whole. While I believe that Lon might agree with such a distinction, I have no way of knowing as questions were not allowed at the seminar.
    I found this seminar intensely stimulating. It is commendable that difficult issues were acknowledged and discussed openly. I think it's great that prominent individuals in the Order are giving sophisticated seminars like this one. Presentations of this nature highlight the spiritual value and continuing importance of the E.G.C. within the Order.

    Love is the law, love under will.
Nathan W. Bjorge
Balaam II° (of The Four)

What You Should Know
    About The Vision and the Voice

    The first time I came across The Vision and the Voice (or Liber 418) was shortly after I became involved with the Order, when mastodons still roamed the plains. I was searching through the local university library for Crowley books, finding then (as I have many times since) that they had mostly been stolen long ago. There was, however, still a copy of The Vision and the Voice remaining on the shelf. So I eagerly opened it up and began reading. Or I tried to. Between its dense, eschatological qabalistic terminology, and the footnote references seemingly placed after every other word (leading on to even further obscurities), I felt hopelessly lost after the first page. Despondently, I returned the volume to its place. At least I understood why no one had bothered to steal that title!
    But I kept to my studies and a year or so later, I returned to Liber 418. Then I found that it began to speak to me in a way that none of Crowley's other works did, displaying such beauty, insight and intensity that I became riveted to it for life. My experience has led me to tell many people (and perhaps putting it into print will force me to stop repeating myself) that, even as some scholars learn Italian just so they can read Dante in the original language, so the rewards of understanding The Vision and the Voice more than fully justify the efforts of learning the terminology of the Golden Dawn/Thelemic tradition.

    But, in case you don't want to just take my word for it, I'll attempt to express my Top 10 Reasons Why Liber 418 is Cool.

    1. Liber 418 includes some of the most beautiful language to be found anywhere in Crowley's work.

    "I am the harlot that shaketh Death.
    This shaking giveth the Peace of Satiate Lust.
    Immortality jetteth from my skull,
         And music from my vulva.
    Immortality jetteth from my vulva also,
    For my Whoredom is a sweet scent like a seven-stringed instrument,
    Played unto God the Invisible, the all-ruler,
         That goeth along giving the shrill scream of orgasm."
                                                       - 2nd Aethyr

    We may recite at Mass that we "believe in one Earth, the mother of us all," but I can think of no other passage that expresses so powerfully the exalted nature of Babalon.
    Similarly, where else can we find such a poignant description of the ordeals of initiation, and the frightening uncertainty of the Way, as this excerpt from the 28th Aethyr?

    "O man, that must ever be opening, when wilt thou learn to seal up the mysteries of the creation? to fold thyself over thyself as a rose in the embrace of night? But thou must play the wanton to the sun, and the wind must tear thy petals from thee, and the bee must rob thee of thy honey, and thou must fall into the dusk of things."

    2. Liber 418 shows what can be done with Enochian Magick.
    The Golden Dawn placed great emphasis on Enochian, the system of Angelic magic first received by John Dee and Edward Kelly in the latter part of the 16th century. But if it weren't for Liber 418, most of us would have difficulty understanding why. The original Dee and Kelly material is disorganized, rambling, and oppressively Christian in a fire-and-brimstone way. The Golden Dawn systematized it, and added countless layers of attributions, making it in effect the master index of their entire methodology, but also removing it even further from any sense of real meaning. Only with the writing of The Vision and the Voice did Enochian acquire substance in proportion to the intricacies of its form.
    This, in fact, creates a problem for Enochian magicians. Do we accept the vastness of Crowley's contribution and build from there, or do we try to start from scratch? And if we do decide to strike out on our own, can we free ourselves of such a powerful influence?

    3. Liber 418 includes instructions regarding accessing the Aethyrs ourselves.
    The vision of the 18th Aethyr contains an explicit ritual for the "partaking" of the Aethyrs. It is involved, difficult to perform, and not easily understood, but it is, at least, very interesting. Incidentally, it includes a color scale for the 30 Aethyrs that is itself a commentary on the entire book. My favorite: the 26th Aethyr, corresponding to white flecked with red, blue, and yellow, with green edges. I think I remember having one of those in my box of Crayolas . . .

    4. Liber 418 contains an official A A ritual for the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel.
    The 8th Aethyr of Liber 418 is also known as Liber VIII, and is an official A A ritual in Class D. It describes in detail a beautiful Thelemic rescension of the Abramelin operation. Together with John St. John and the commentary in Liber Samekh, it embodies the clearest of Crowley's writings on The Next Step. But of the three, I find the language of the 8th Aethyr to be the most inspiring.

    5. Liber 418 is itself the firsthand account of the Crossing of the Abyss, the initiation into Magister Templi. The Vision and the Voice works on many levels. It is poetry, prophecy, philosophy and astral journalism. But its primary significance to Crowley himself is as the record of his initiation into the 8 = 3 degree, his ascension as a true Master. In the case of the earlier major initiation, that of the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel, there is at least the precedent of the Book of the Sacred Magic of Abramelin the Mage. But no one in the western magical tradition (at least) had left a record of the greater crossing before Crowley. (I would suggest that there may have been similar attempts since then, such as Gurdjieff's Third Series, or, to use an example from the eastern tradition, Muktananda's Play of Consciousness.)
    Once the initiatory aspect of the visions is understood, they each can be seen to pertain to the Master of the Temple. But it first becomes explicit in the 18th Aethyr, when Crowley hears his own voice recite Liber VII, I:40, "When thou shalt know me, O thou empty God, my little flame shall utterly expire in thy great N.O.X." and falls into a trance. In the 15th Aethyr, he is examined in anticipation of his initiation, which occurs in the Aethyr following, as he is brought into the City of the Pyramids. The work of the Magister Templi is explained to him in the 13th Aethyr, after which remains only the ordeal of the Crossing of the Abyss: the preparation in the 11th Aethyr, the confrontation with Choronzon (restriction be unto whom in the name BABALON!), the guardian of the Abyss, in the 10th, and the triumphant arrival in the 9th.
    Aside from its importance in the 8 = 3 initiation, careful study of the vision of the 10th Aethyr reveals much about Crowley's concept of the psychology of adeptship.

    6. Liber 418 explains the Black Brotherhood.
    As the attainment of the Magister Templi grade is the major theme of the book, it's not surprising that it should also contain the clearest description of the doctrine of the Black Brothers, as they are those who refuse that very attainment.

    "They keep themselves from the kisses of my Mother Babylon [sic], and in their lonely fortresses they pray to the false moon. And they bind themselves together with an oath, and with a great curse. And of their malice they conspire together, and they have power, and mastery, and in their cauldrons do they brew the harsh wine of delusion, mingled with the poison of their selfishness."
                                                       - 12th Aethyr

    7. Liber 418 is, of all Crowley's work, the most respectful of the feminine principle.
    As we're all painfully aware, Uncle Al could be a total bastard in print when it came to women. Okay, sometimes he's just misunderstood. But at other times we understand perfectly, and he is, in fact, being a prick.
    How different is his attitude in The Vision and the Voice! It's not just in the awe-inspiring 2nd Aethyr (the highest revelation of Babalon). The lady of the Moon appears as early as the 27th Aethyr, saying, "For I am the queen of all them that dwell in Heaven, and the queen of all them that are pure upon earth, and the queen of all the sorcerers of hell. I am the daughter of Nuit, the lady of the stars." She then transforms into the Angel of Atu XIV, "Art," and reappears in that form in the 19th Aethyr, where she says, "I am the daughter of the house of the invisible. I am the Priestess of the Silver Star . . . And upon her breast is written: Rosa Mundi est Lilium Coeli." The theme is taken up yet again in the 17th Aethyr through the goddess Maat from Atu VIII: "Behold the Queen of Heaven, how she hath woven her robes from the loom of justice. For as that straight path of the Arrow cleaving the Rainbow became righteousness in her that sitteth in the hall of double truth, so at last is she exalted unto the throne of the High Priestess, the Priestess of the Silver Star, wherein also is thine Angel made manifest."

    The descriptions become even more reverential above the Abyss:

    "This is she that hath bedecked her hair with seven stars, the seven breaths of God that move and thrill its excellence. And she had tired her hair with seven combs, whereupon are written the seven secret names of God that are not known even of the Angels, or of the Archangels, or of the Leader of the armies of the Lord.
    "Holy, Holy, Holy art thou, and blessed by Thy name for ever, unto whom the Aeons are but the pulsings of thy blood."
                                                       - 9th Aethyr

    "But do thou behold the brilliance of Love, that casteth forth seven stars upon thine head from her right hand, and crowneth thee with a crown of seven roses. Behold! She is seated upon the throne of turquoise and lapis lazuli, and she is like a flawless emerald..."
                                                       - 7th Aethyr

    This pageant of praise culminates in the 2nd Aethyr, which, significantly, was concluded after the reception of the 1st:

    "Every man that hath seen me forgetteth me never, and I appear oftentimes in the coals of the fire, and upon the smooth white skin of woman, and in the constancy of the waterfall, and in the emptiness of deserts and marshes, and upon great cliffs that look seaward; and in many strange places, where men seek me not. And many thousand times he beholdeth me not. And at the last I smite myself into him as a vision smiteth into a stone, and whom I call must follow."

    8. Liber 418 is the inspiration for many of the images in the Thoth tarot deck.
    Consider, for example, the Chariot (Atu VII), and also Babalon riding the Beast (Atu XI) in the 12th Aethyr, the goddess Maat (Atu VIII) in the 17th Aethyr, and the Angel with the cauldron (Atu XIV) in the 27th and 19th Aethyrs.

    9. Liber 418 provides an exposition of the implicit relationship between Thelema and the Apocalypse of St. John.
    This is, for me, the biggie. Certainly, no one can keep from noticing that the Beast and the Scarlet Woman, who figure so prominently in The Book of the Law, are Biblical characters. Some of us rather prefer to sweep that notion under the rug. But for others, such as myself, the reframing of these archetypes as positive roles is one of the crowning glories of Thelema. And nowhere are those roles explored in more depth than in Liber 418. As the departed Frater Spartacus once said to me, "The Vision and the Voice describes the events of the Book of the Revelation from the point of view of the other side." From the casting out of the serpent of old (Rev. 20:1-3, 29th Aethyr), to the seven-fold formula (Rev. 1:11-20, 22nd Aethyr), to the rainbow throne of God (Rev. 4:2-14, 15th Aethyr), to the Scarlet Woman and the Beast (Rev. 17:3-6, 12th Aethyr), as well as many others, the reader is compelled to confront the images of the Christian faith, usually with their connotations reversed, although sometimes just freshly described. For me, this has the effect of opening the Christian history of my culture without my having to buy into it. There is a power in the iconography of the past that can still be appreciated when it is observed in an antinomian light.
    From another angle, Liber 418 helps us see the reversal of the imagery from the Book of Revelation to The Book of the Law as the transcendence of dualism; as a way of restating the doctrines of Advaita (non-dual) Vedanta within our historically dualistic culture.

    10. Liber 418 celebrates the religious dimensions of Thelema.
    People approach Thelema from all sorts of directions. For some, it is a social arena. For others, it is a philosophy. Yet for others, it is more of a discipline. What your favorite Crowley piece is (if you have a favorite Crowley piece, that is) probably says much about your relationship to Thelema. I would propose that The Vision and the Voice is especially compelling to those who relate to Thelema in a religious way. By this, I mean religion in its sense of re (again) + ligare (to bind), to bind again to our spiritual source. Only in the more rarefied of the Holy Books (such as Liber VII, Liber LXV, or Liber DCCCXIII) is the language so inspired. Only in The Heart of the Master is the drama so mythic. But The Vision and the Voice is unique in its power to sweep one into the profound.
    Some readers may not yet have taken the necessary trouble to study. Others may be discomforted by the intimacy or the intensity of the revelations described. But for many of us, The Vision and the Voice is the doorway into the appreciation of the richness of Thelema.
-- Michael Sanborn

Previous Michael Sanborn Article                   Next Michael Sanborn Article

Crowley Classics

    Through the winter of 1905-6 e.v. Crowley, with his wife and ailing infant daughter in tow, spent nearly four months traveling across southern China, covering much of the distance riding ponies or on foot. He emerged from this experience with a "Chinese" personality, the poet and philosopher Kwaw Li Ya of the University of Peking, which he used in the publication of several works on east Asian subjects. The name was of course his own, as translated into Chinese phonetics during his travels. Oddly, much of the work which appeared as Kwaw's is concerned not with China but with Japan. When in 1915 e.v. Crowley was hired by the New York magazine Vanity Fair to conduct a haiku contest, his commentary on the winning entries was written under the guise of Kwaw. The present essay, which is here concluded from its first installment last month, was written early in 1907, and appeared in Crowley's miscellany volume Konx Om Pax: Essays in Light (London & Felling-on-Tyne: Walter Scott Publ., 1907), 55-67. Based upon a brief stopover in Japan, it is a satire on foreign accounts of the far east, and was subsequently recognized on the A A bibliography as Liber XLI in class C, "an advanced study of Attainment by the method of equilibrium on the ethical plane." The titles given to each of the four sections of this essay were taken from the names of sections of the Tao Teh King. "Thien Tao," the essay's title, translated as "the way of heaven," is a phrase from the writings of Kwang-Tze (book XIII, part ii, section vi), which also appears as the name of chapter 77 of the Tao Teh King. The foundations of Crowley's practical understanding of Chinese culture as a traveler there had been his early studies in the translations by James Legge (published at Oxford in the 1890s) of many of the ancient classic texts of China.

Thien Tao
The Synagogue of Satan
An Intimate Study

by Kwaw Li Ya
(Aleister Crowley)



"The Manifesting of Simplicity"

    "What," said Juju, "O great Tao, do you recommend as a remedy for the ills of my unhappy country?"
    The sage replied as follows: "O mighty and magniloquent Daimio, your aristocracy is not an aristocracy because it is not an aristocracy. In vain you seek to alter this circumstance by paying the noxious vermin of the Dai Li Pai Pur to write fatuous falsehoods maintaining that your aristocracy is an aristocracy because it is an aristocracy.
    "As Heracleitus overcame the antinomy of Xenophanes and Parmenides, Melissis and the Eleatic Zeno, the Ens and the Non-Ens by his Becoming, so let me say to you; the aristocracy will be an aristocracy by becoming an aristocracy.
    "Kai Ra Di and his dirty-faced friends wish to level down the good practice to the bad theory; you should oppose them by levelling up the bad theory to the good practice.
    "Your enviers boast that you are no better than they; prove to them that they are as good as you. They speak of a nobility of fools and knaves; show to them wise and honest men, and the socialistic ginger is no longer hot in the individualistic mouth."
    Juju grunted assent. He had gone almost to sleep, but Kwaw, absorbed in his subject, never noticed the fact. He went on with the alacrity of a steam- roller, and the direct and purposeful vigour of a hypnotized butterfly. "Man is perfected by his identity with the great Tao. Subsidiary to this he must have balanced perfectly the Yang and the Yin. Easier still is it to rule the sixfold star of Intellect; while for the base the control of the body and its emotions is the earliest step.
    "Equilibrium is the great law, and perfect equilibrium is crowned by identity with the great Tao."
    He emphasized this sublime assertion by a deliberate blow upon the protruding abdomen of the worthy Juju.
    "Pray continue your hunourable discourse!" exclaimed the half-awakened Daimio.
    Kwaw went on, and I think it only fair to say that he went on for a long time, and that because you have been fool enough to read thus far, you have no excuse for being fool enough to read farther.
    "Phenacetin is a useful drug in fever, but woe to that patient who shall imbibe it in collapse. Because calomel is a dangerous remedy in appendicitis, we do not condemn its use in simple indigestions.
    "As above so beneath! said Hermes the thrice greatest. The laws of the physical world are precisely paralleled by those of the moral and intellectual sphere. To the prostitute I prescribe a course of training by which she shall comprehend to holiness of sex. Chastity forms part of that training, and I should hope to see her one day a happy wife and mother. To the prude equally I prescribe a course of training by which she shall comprehend the holiness of sex. Unchastity forms part of that training, and I should hope to see her one day a happy wife and mother.
    "To the bigot I commend a course of Thomas Henry Huxley; to the infidel a practical study of ceremonial magic. Then, when the bigot has knowledge and the infidel faith, each may follow without prejudice his natural inclination; for he will no longer plunge into his former excesses.
    "So also she who was a prostitute from native passion may indulge with safety in the pleasure of love; she who was by nature cold may enjoy a virginity in no wise marred by her disciplinary course of unchastity. But the one will understand and love the other.
    "So it must be acknowledged that one who is but slightly unbalanced needs a milder correction than whoso is obsessed by prejudice. There are men who make a fetish of cleanliness; they shall work in a fitter's shop, and learn that dirt is the mark of honourable toil. There are those whose lives are rendered wretched by the fear of infection; they see bacteria of the deadliest sort in all things but the actual solutions of carbolic acid and mercuric chloride with which they hysterically combat their invisible foemen; such would I send to live in the bazaar at Delhi, where they shall haply learn that dirt makes little difference after all.
    "There are slow men who need a few months' experience of the hustle of the stockyards; there are business men in a hurry, and they shall travel in Central Asia to acquire the are of repose.
    "So much for the equilibrium, and for two months in every year each member of your governing classes shall undergo this training under skilled advice.
    "But what of the Great Tao? For one month in every year each of these men shall seek desperately for the Stone of the Philosophers. By solitude and fasting for the social and luxurious, by drunkenness and debauch for the austere, by scourging for those afraid of physical pain, by repose for the restless, and toil for the idle, by bull-fights for the humanitarian, and the care of little children for the callous, by rituals for the rational, and by philosophy for the credulous, shall these men, while yet unbalanced, seek to attain to unity with the great Tao. But for those whose intellect is purified and coordinated, for those whose bodies are in health, and whose passions are at once eager and controlled, it shall be lawful to choose their own way to the One Goal; videlicet, identify with that great Tao which is above the antithesis of Yang and Yin."
    Even Kwaw felt tired, and applied himself to saké-and-soda. Refreshed, he continued: "The men who are willing by this means to become the saviours of their country shall be called the Synagogue of Satan, so as to keep themselves from the friendship of the fools who mistake names for things. There shall be masters of the Synagogue, but they shall never seek to dominate. They shall most carefully abstain from inducing any man to seek the Tao by any other way than that of equilibrium. They shall develop individual genius without considering whether in their opinion its function will tend to the good or evil of their country or of the world; for who are they to interfere with a soul whose balance has been crowned by the most holy Tao?
    "The masters shall be great men among men; but among great men they shall be friends.
    "Since equilibrium will have become perfect, a greater than Napoleon shall arise, and the peaceful shall rejoice thereat; a greater than Darwin, and the minister in his pulpit give open thanks to God.
    "The instructed infidel shall no longer sneer at the church-goer, for he will have been compelled to go to church until he saw the good points as well as the bad; and the instructed devotee will no longer detest the blasphemer, because he will have laughed with Ingersoll and Saladin.
    "Give the lion the heart of the lamb, and the lamb the force of the lion; and they will lie down in peace together."
    Kwaw ceased, and the heavy and regular breathing of Juju assured him that his words had not been wasted; at last that restless and harried soul had found supreme repose.
    Kwaw tapped the gong. "I have achieved my task," said he to the obsequious major-domo, "I pray leave to retire from the Presence." "I beg your excellency to follow me," replied the gorgeous functionary, "his lordship has commanded me to see that your holiness is supplied with everything that you desire." Then the sage laughed aloud.

"Things to be Believed"

    Six months passed by, and Juju, stirring in his sleep, remembered the duties of politeness, and asked for Kwaw.
    "He is on your lordship's estate at Nikko," the servants hastened to reply, "and he has turned the whole place completely upside down. Millions of yen have been expended monthly; he has even mortgaged this very palace in which your lordship has been asleep; a body of madmen has seized the reigns of government --"
    "The Synagogue of Satan!" gasped the outraged Daimio.
    "- And you are everywhere hailed as the Godfather of your country!"
    "Do not tell me that the British war has ended disastrously for us!" and he called for the elaborate apparatus of hari-kari.
    "On the contrary, my lord, the ridiculous Sa Mon, who would never go to sea because he was afraid of being sick, although his genius for navel strategy had no equal in the Seven Abysses of Water, after a month as stowaway on a fishing boat (by the order of Kwaw) assumed the rank of Admiral of the Fleet, and has inflicted a series of complete and crushing defeats upon the British Admirals, who though they had been on the water all their lives, had incomprehensibly omitted to acquire any truly accurate knowledge of the metaphysical systems of Sho Pi Naour and Ni Tchze.
    "Again, Hu Li, the financial genius, who had hitherto been practically useless to his country on account of that ugliness and deformity which led him to shun the society of his fellows, was compelled by Kwaw to exhibit himself as a freak. A fortnight of this cured him of shyness; and within three months he has nearly doubled the revenue and halved the taxes. Your lordship has spent millions of yen; but is today a richer man than when your excellency went to sleep."
    "I will go and see this Kwaw," said the Daimio. The servants then admitted that the Mikado in person had been waiting at the palace door for over three months, for the very purpose of begging permission to conduct him thither, but that he had been unwilling to disturb the sleep of the Godfather of his country.
    Impossible to describe the affecting scene when these two magnanimous beings melted away (as it were) in each other's arms.
    Arrived at the estate of Juju at Nikko, what wonder did these worthies express to see the simple means by which Kwaw had worked his miracles! In a glade of brilliant cherry and hibiscus (and any other beautiful trees you can think of) stood a plain building of stone, which after all had not cost millions of yen, but a very few thousands only. Its height was equal to its breadth, and its length was equal to the sum of these, while the sum of these measurements was precisely equal to ten times the age of Kwaw in units of the span of his hand. The walls were tremendously thick, and there was only one door and two windows, all in the eye of the sunset. One cannot describe the inside of the building, because to do so would spoil all the fun for other people. It must be seen to be understood, in any case; and there it stands to this day, open to anybody who is strong enough to force in the door.
    But when they asked for Kwaw, he was not to be found. He had left trained men to carry out the discipline and the initiations, these last being the chief purpose of the building, saying that he was homesick for the lions and lizards of Wei-Hai-Wei, and that anyway he hadn't enjoyed a decent swim for far too long.
    There is unfortunately little room for doubt that the new and voracious species of sharks (which Japanese patriotism had spent such enormous sums in breeding) is responsible for the fact that he has never again been heard of.
    The Mikado wept; but, brightening up, exclaimed, "Kwaw found us a confused and angry mob; he left us a diverse, yet harmonious republic; while let us never forget that not only have we developed men of genius in every branch of practical life, but many among us have had our equilibrium crowned by that supreme glory of humanity, realization of our identity with the great and holy Tao."
    Wherewith he set aside no less than three hundred and sixty-five days in every year, and one extra day every fourth year, as days of special rejoicing.

Previous Crowley Classic -- Part I                   Next Crowley Classic

from the Grady Project:

Fort Mason

The guns are gone. The casements stand
Gaunt and impotent; where the sand
Dunes of another day have lain
Green parks arise and funneled rain
Sprays fountain-wise across the lawn.
The rolling years of Time have drawn
Another picture on the page
That is Fort Mason's shifting stage.
Behind the drapes the props are changed,
Within the wings the actors ranged
By rank are not the same as when
Black Point stood guard against the Men-
o-War of other nations' fleets.
Headquarters buildings, well paved streets;
Administration of supplies
Now reigns supreme and occupies
The personnel, and in command
A General Officer whose hand
Guides and directs the flowing streams
Of goods and merchandise and reams
Into the ships and holds their course
Far out to where the Nation's force
Of arms is gathered, there to build
Our ramparts strong. They must be filled
With fighting men and guns and planes
Prepared against the day when rains
Of bombs and shells sluice down the sky.
There must be food, there must be high
Test gasoline to throw fast
Dread fighter craft above the cast
Of stalking bombers. All of these
Depend on the abilities
Of officers and men who man
Fort Mason's port. Within the plan
America has for defense
We play a vital part, though since
The days of yore our guns are gone
Another day has seen the dawn
When wars are won by those who ply
The life-blood of our arms - Supply!

-- Grady L. McMurtry

Previous Grady Project                   Next Grady Project

Events Calendar for December 1998 e.v.

12/1/98Liber 418 readings continue
ZEN 18th Aethyr 8:00PM Horus Temple
Thelema Ldg.
12/2/98Liber 418 reading TAN 17th &
LEA 16th 7:00PM in Horus Temple
Thelema Ldg.
12/2/98College of Hard NOX 8 PM
with Mordecai in the library
Thelema Ldg.
12/3/98Liber 418 reading OXO 15th &
UTI 14th 7:00PM in Horus Temple
Thelema Ldg.
12/4/98Liber 418 reading ZIM 13th &
LOE 12th 8:00PM in Horus Temple
Thelema Ldg.
12/5/98Liber 418 reading IKH 11th Aethyr
8:00PM in Horus Temple
Thelema Ldg.
12/6/98Liber 418 reading ZAX 10th Aethyr
7:00PM in Horus Temple
Thelema Ldg.
12/6/98Gnostic Mass 7:30PM Horus TempleThelema Ldg.
12/7/98Liber 418 reading ZIP 9th Aethyr
8:00PM in Horus Temple
Thelema Ldg.
12/8/98Liber 418 reading ZID 8th Aethyr
8:00PM in Horus Temple
Thelema Ldg.
12/9/98Liber 418 reading DEO 7th Aethyr
8:00PM in Horus Temple
Thelema Ldg.
12/10/98Liber 418 reading MAZ 6th Aethyr
8:00PM in Horus Temple
Thelema Ldg.
12/10/98Ouranos Ritual Group 8PMThelema Ldg.
12/12/98IVth deg. candidates' examination
2PM -- call to attend
Thelema Ldg.
12/13/98Liber 418 reading LIT 5th Aethyr
7:00PM in Horus Temple
Thelema Ldg.
12/13/98Gnostic Mass 7:30PM Horus TempleThelema Ldg.
12/14/98Section II reading group with
Caitlin: Robert A. Wilson: "Masks
of the Illuminati" 8PM
Thelema Ldg.
12/15/98Principles of Evocation with Nathan
8 PM in the library
Thelema Ldg.
12/16/98Liber 418 reading PAZ 4th Aethyr
8:00PM in Horus Temple
Thelema Ldg.
12/17/98Liber 418 reading ZON 3rd Aethyr
7:00PM in Horus Temple
Thelema Ldg.
12/17/98Ouranos Ritual Group 8PMThelema Ldg.
12/18/98Liber 418 reading ARN 2nd Aethyr
7:00PM in Horus Temple (prts 1 - 3)
Thelema Ldg.
12/19/98Liber 418 reading LIL 1st Aethyr
7:00PM in Horus Temple
Thelema Ldg.
12/20/98Liber 418 reading ARN 2nd Aethyr
7:00PM in Horus Temple (Prt 4)
Thelema Ldg.
12/20/98Gnostic Mass 7:30PM Horus TempleThelema Ldg.
12/21/98Winter Solstice Ritual 7PMThelema Ldg.
12/22/98Paradigms of Evocation with Nathan
8PM in the library
Thelema Ldg.
12/27/98Gnostic Mass 7:30PM Horus TempleThelema Ldg.
12/29/98Practice of Evocation with Nathan
8PM in the library
Thelema Ldg.
12/30/98College of Hard NOX 8 PM
with Mordecai in the library
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)

Production and Circulation:
P.O.Box 430
Fairfax, CA 94978 USA

Internet: (Submissions and circulation only)

Home away from Home