Thelema Lodge Calendar for September 2002 e.v.

Thelema Lodge Calendar

for September 2002 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, 2002 e.v.

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

September 2002 e.v. at Thelema Lodge

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

Announcements from
Lodge Members and Officers

Rapturous Garden:

Summum Bonum

    "The great work, the summum bonum, true wisdom, and perfect happiness;" these are the objects of our aspiration at Thelema Lodge, whether in our work and in our amusements together as a community, or along our individual paths as Thelemites. The formula comes from the priest's blessing issued to communicants at the conclusion to the gnostic mass. We celebrate this pagan eucharist ritual together every Sunday evening in Horus Temple, providing visitors as well as members and friends an opportunity to participate together as Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica. The lodge also offers Thelemic fellowship and a forum for shared study and scholarship in our classes and reading groups, as well as initiations through the Man of Earth degrees of Ordo Templi Orientis. Our community of celebration observes an annual cycle of solar holidays which is balanced upon the two equinox points of spring and autumn. These solar dates have always served mankind for seasonal boundaries, and as we follow our "Lord visible and sensible" in his progress through the seasons, we are constantly reminded of the possibilities for development "in our particular orbit" as well. Autumn overtakes us this month, right about the time when we'll be circling round the temple for communion in the multiple climax of our gnostic mass; Sol enters Libra at 9:56 on Sunday evening on 22nd September. A few hours before mass there will be a ritual to observe the mid-point of the year and the closing of the summer, beginning at 3:33 in Horus Temple. Later we will mark the point of equinox at the conclusion of mass with the selection of a lodge word from the altar. Be with us as we let the "perpetual radiance" of Our Father the Sun "hearten us to continual labor and enjoyment" for the dark half of the 98th year of the aeon. (This will also be the weekend of the harvest moon, full Saturday morning 21st September at 6:59.)
    To take communion in the gnostic mass, on Equinox Sunday or any other Sunday at nightfall, arrive at the lodge by 8:00 and assemble with the rest of the congregation in the library as the officers of the evening's "mass team" prepare the temple, and themselves, for our ritual. When attending for the first time, contact the lodgemaster several days ahead by telephone for directions to the temple. We seldom have a mass without a first-time visitor or two, and although the liturgy involves a complex role even for the assembled People, it is easy to join in simply by following the example of the rest of us, and gradually learning the various gestures and responses. After a few consecutive masses most newcomers find that they know most of their role without trying, and then with a little private study of the script they can make themselves perfect in the sanctuary of the gnosis. The next step, once an aspirant has become comfortable in the part of a simple communicant, is to study the roles of the three officers in the mass. The priestess and priest roles are best thought of as a complementary pair and learned together with a partner; the role of deacon is an elaboration upon the part played by the People in the mass. For the novice, after learning the canon of the mass through individual study and memorization of the text, there will still be much to discover in privately celebrating the ritual with an informal mass team. Only when all three officers work together with ease and enthusiasm is the new team ready to serve the lodge at mass in Horus Temple. Our temple schedule is maintained by the lodgemaster, who is happy to assign a mass date to new teams who have prepared themselves to participate fully in our gnostic celebration.

Shake the Glittering Spear

    Our current cycle of The Rites of Eleusis, Aleister Crowley's mystic drama of the planetary powers, plays out its central acts this month with three performances in the East Bay, held at twelve day intervals. The rites of Saturn and Jupiter last month were impressive successes, and we look now to Mars with a strong sense of ceremonial momentum. As the god of forceful contests, Commander Mars is ready for any challenge -- indeed there may be no other way of relating to this god than by opposing his forces, except by cheering on his glorious victories at "The Rite of Mars" on Tuesday evening 3rd September. The performance, beginning at 8:00, will be at Sequoia Lodge, 2666 Mountain Boulevard in the Oakland hills. Brother Jeffrey has modelled this cycle's military rite upon the conclusive conflict in the War of the Roses, the battle of Bosworth in 1485. Here King Richard III (unable to barter his kingdom in a pinch for a horse) was killed, and Henry VII assumed the English throne. Richard leads the black army, opposed successfully by Henry's reds, their progress figuring the triumph of Mars and his replacement by Sol thereafter. Wear medieval garb if you have it, or chose black or red and prepare to be all that you can be in the gore and the muck and the chaos of confrontation. All recruits are ordered to pack their own provisions for this campaign, as no catering facilities will be available in camp.

Molten Fire of Delight

    For age comes oblivion, for majesty comes embarrassment, for command comes defeat, and for the strength of light and life there comes at last the darkness of the night. "The Rite of Sol" will blaze forth at noon on Sunday 15th September in north Berkeley at Sirius Encampment. Performed as a hieratic ceremony, this ritual includes a feast (to which all attending are welcome to contribute).

Masses of Red Hair and Roses

    It's not easy to be neutral about Venus, so her rite can be one of the more disturbing and profound of the seven. (It's also not easy to be serious or precise about Venus, making it sometimes among the more ridiculous of the lot!) Celebrate "The Rite of Venus" at Sequoia Lodge, 2666 Mountain Boulevard in the Oakland hills, beginning at 8:00 on Friday evening 27th September to see how irresponsibly alluring and seductive a really well-organized goddess can be. As we learn, the head can fool the heart (for at time, at least), and young man Mercury, who seems quite a lover at first, may not have the courage to attach himself to the goddess for long.

Within the Guarded Border

    Sirius Encampment offers a seminar on the Second Degree initiation ritual and its symbolism, to be held on Sunday afternoon 29th September at 2:00. Open only to II° initiates (and above), this discussion will facilitate an exchange of technique, lore, policy, and tradition relevant to the Consecration of a Magician. In particular we will explore the nature of the commitment which candidates makes at this stage, to the Order, to themselves, and to each of their brothers and sisters. Experienced officers in this ritual as well as recent initiates of this degree are especially invited to participate.

The Pentacle of Fire

    In the Qabalistic theory of the Four Worlds, Assiah, the Fulfilled World, is attributed to the final heh of the fourfold name of God (IHVH), and to the element of Earth. It is the world we live in; the world of matter. Yet we hold that this world was transformed at the Equinox of the Gods, even as it was foretold in the biblical book of Revelation. The Beast showed his true face in the face of our Prophet, and the Great Harlot rode forth, naked and rejoicing, as Woman freed herself from the fetters of the old oppression.
    Could it be that, at that moment in 1904 e.v., our world was transformed from the dross of earth to the fiery rapture of Divine Being? Certainly, the former solidity remains with us as an echo, for those who choose to cling to it. But the Fulfilled World is not what it was before. Instead of a world of limits, it is a world of opportunities. Instead of a stopping-place, it is a beginning. We are not a receptacle, a final heh; we are the voice that roars the new yod. On Sunday afternoon, 22nd September at 3:33, Thelema Lodge celebrates the yearly Autumnal Equinox in recognition of the epochal Equinox of the Gods, as the transmutation of our Pentacle of Earth into the Pentacle of Fire. There is, after all, no turning back.

Pappa Pisses

    Issuing a formal apology to "the illustrious shade of Robert Browning" for the "audacious parody in title, style, and matter of his Christmas Eve and Easter Day," which Crowley published in 1904 e.v., the younger author wrote that "there is hardly any poet living or dead who so commands alike my personal affection and moral admiration" as Browning. This was in Crowley's "Introduction" to Ascension Day and Pentecost, a long poem produced in just a couple days of frantic scribbling (in mid-November 1901), in imitation and burlesque of the great Victorian poet's 1850 book of verse, Christmas Eve and Easter Day, which contrasts low-church and high-church styles of worship. Crowley -- two generations later -- lamented that the intelligence of the elder writer had never extended to radical criticism of the whole wretched "repentance" tradition of the Christian faith. "It is curious," Crowley's introductory essay continues, "that Browning never turns his wonderful faculty of analysis upon the fundamental problems of religion, as it were an axe laid to the root of the Tree of Life. It seems quite clear that he knew what would result if he did so. We cannot help fancying that he was unwilling to do this." Crowley's admiration for Browning as an intellectual poet who did not compromise his portrayal of the great spiritual issues and psychological challenges of the Victorian era was a significant influence upon the Master Therion's entire literary career. Browning ranks with Shelley, Baudelaire, and Swinburne among the fathers of Crowley's poetic style, and of the four it is Browning about whom Crowley had the most to say. Over forty references to Browning and quotations from his verse may be found in Crowley's basic writings, all of which evince a respectful admiration. The fascination with extreme states of excitement, with obsession and criminality and decadence, and the abrupt informality of Browning's poetic technique can easily be traced in Crowley's own verse, early and late. During the Prophet's final years, his library pitifully reduced by war-time penury in a boarding house, his life-long copy of the huge volume of Browning's complete poetical works remained a constant companion to the old man. Join Caitlin and the Section Two reading group at Thelema Lodge, meeting on Monday evening 23rd September from 8:00 till 9:30 in the library, for an evening with the poetry of Robert Browning. With a focus upon the "dramatic lyrics" of this great Victorian vast production of fictional verse, we will be proclaiming and expounding Mr Sludge the Medium, Bishop Blougram, Karshish the Arab physician, Fra Lippo Lippi, Caliban upon Setebos, Paracelsus, and the other strange personalities which served Robert Browning as "personae" for his poetic voice. Readers and listeners alike will be welcome.

Previous Section Two                   Next Section Two

Caliban On Patmos
Being the Last Adventure of the Beloved Disciple

by Aleister Crowley

    Come, kids, lambs, doves, cubs, cuddle! Hear ye John
    Pronounce on the primordial protoplast Palingenetic, palaeontologic,
    And beat that beggar's bleeding TawYodShinAlephReshBet
    With truth veracious, aletheiac, true!
    John ye hear. Cuddle, cubs, doves, lambs, kids, come!

    First, God made heav'n, earth: Earth gauche, void; deep, dark.
    God's Ghost stirred sea. God said "Light!" 'Twas. Saw light,
    Good, split off dark, call'd light "day," dark "night." Eve,
    Morn, day I. Said, "'Twixt wets be air, split wets!"
    Made air, split wets 'neath air, wets top air; so,
    Call'd air "heav'n." Eve, morn, day II. Said, "Low wets,
    Cling close, show earth." So. Call'd dry "earth," wet "sea."
    Rubbed hands, smacked lips, said "good."
                 (Here John was seized
    By order of Augustus. He maintained,
    In spite of the imperial holograph,
    "My seizer must be Caesar," with a smile:
    And for persisting in his paradox
    Was disembowelled: so Genesis got square.)

   Crowley published this silly bit of verse to illustrate a trivial point about Browning in a footnote to an early essay entitled "The Excluded Middle, or, The Sceptic Refuted: A Dialogue between a British Man of Science and a Converted Hindu" (reprinted in 1906 in Works II). In a parody of scholarly commentary, this brief essay is enormously lengthened with a plethora of footnotes and documentation, with notes on notes on notes, seemingly ad infinitum. Crowley calls this "my system of continuous footnotes, on the analogy of continuous fractions" and the following examples are those which directly relate to the poem. Mentioning the name of John Lane in a preceding note, Crowley gratuitously glosses his Christian name: "Not to be confused with John, the beloved disciple, who wrote 'Caliban on Patmos.'" Caliban is in turn glossed as "a dwarfish miscreate, celebrated in the works of Browning and Shakespeare (W.)," with Shakespeare then glossed as "dramatic author, flourished A.D. 1600 circa; wrote The Tempest, Susannah, or, The Two Gentlemen of Veronica's Garden, the Manxman, and other plays." To this note on a note on a note, there is a footnote explaining about The Tempest that "a garbled version of this was misbegotten in A. D. 1904 on a London stage; the worst actor of a dreadful crew, in spite of his natural aptitude for the part of Caliban (q. v. supra . . .), bring one Beerbohm Tree." Another gloss, then, gives information about the actor Beerbohm Tree, and so on. Returning to the note where we just began (glossing John Lane's Christian name), there is also a comment on Patmos which reads: "Text appended: --" and then consists of the poem, enclosed in square brackets. The title is intended to remind readers of two of Robert Browning's best known "dramatic lyrics" from his 1864 collection Dramatis Personae, the poems entitled "Caliban upon Setebos, or, Natural Theology in the Island" (loosely based upon Shakespeare's Tempest) and "A Death in the Desert" (concerning the final hours of John of Patmos).

An Exceedingly Tall Tale

    The organizers of the 2001 NOTOCON (National OTO Convention) made the curious but welcome decision to invite Thelema Lodge's own Michael Sanborn to participate as a lecturer. His chosen topic: "The Tradition of the Godman." What did it mean? He had no idea. It wasn't until he was actually present in the exotic environs of Long Beach, California, that he gathered such wits as he possessed in order to spring forth a meandering depiction of the history of the teaching of the Holy Guardian Angel, from Sumerian times to the present day, complete with florid metaphors, baffling leaps of reasoning, and utterly dadaistic digressions. He still doesn't know what hit him. For those who missed this unprecedented display, we will be presenting -- once and only once -- the video, recorded with far more finesse than the event warranted, at 8:00 on Wednesday evening 18th September at Thelema Lodge.

Rites in Review

This memoir, the first of two parts, has been edited from a recording of Leigh Ann's recollections of her involvement with The Rites of Eleusis between 1996 and 2002 e.v. Over these past seven years she has revised, directed, and performed the leading role in each of Crowley's seven planetary rites. Luna, on 29 July 1996, was celebrated in the Blue Lodge Room at the Scottish Rite Masonic Temple in downtown Oakland. Mercury was done at Grace's Temple of Astrology in Berkeley on 3 September 1997. Venus, on 11 September 1998, was hosted by Sirius Oasis in Berkeley. Sol was in the back yard at Oz House on 13 June 1999. For Mars we were at the Julia Morgan Theater in Berkeley on 27 June 2000. Jupiter was celebrated at Sequoia Lodge in the Oakland hills on 2 August 2001. Saturn completed this personal meta-cycle just a few days before Leigh Ann recorded these reminiscences, on 10 August 2002 e.v. at the Labyrinth in Oakland.

Doing Crowley's Eleusis

by Leigh Ann Hussey

    The first rite I ever saw was a Saturn; that was '95 e.v., at Grace's house. Afterward I jumped on my bike and took a ride through the Berkeley hills to try and clear my head. That was a very, very strange rite, that one! Then came Jupiter at Glenn's house, which was sort of tied up with how I got involved in the O.T.O. in the first place. A friend who had become a mason was crowing about that, and I was all jealous. He's also a member of O.T.O., and used to run the camp in Tacoma. He said, "Well, shoot, if what you want is the secret passwords and handshakes, why don't you join the O.T.O.?" And so I thought, "Dang, so why don't I join the O.T.O.?" At that point I was kind of at a loose end, because I'd left my N.R.O.O.G.D. coven. I called up Sirius and said, "Hi, Glenn! I'd like to have a Minerval." "Sure," she said. (Well, that was difficult -- not!) So I started hanging out with those folks and going to things that they went to, and that first Jupiter was the one where I met Caitlin, when she squirted wine into my mouth.
    That's how I came to know about the Rites. How I came to do Luna was being a violinist, and everybody going "Ooo! ooo! ooo! You're a violinist; you should do Luna." So I thought, "Well, okay --" and then I looked and I saw what I was getting myself into; it was like "Oh, my god! this is interminable!" And so I basically rewrote it almost entirely, because as I understood it at the time the message of Luna is "virginity is bad, sex is good." And I said, "We don't need to preach this to an audience of twentieth century Thelemites. We don't! I mean, hello! -- it's 1996 e.v., and all of us know that sex is good; so I need to have another message -- what do I want to tell these people?" And I thought, well, what I will tell them is: "God is you. God is in you." And I did this. Basically I took the stories of Actaeon and Endymion and conflated them, and had Endymion show up in the sanctuary of Artemis and fall in love. And so my Soror Taurus shot him, and he died, and was sort of dragged off into a corner and covered up on the stage. A certain number of libating sorts of things went on, and presently the cover was flung off, and out came Pan, from where Endymion had been. The gist of it being that the real god was inside the callow youth, and had to be -- sort of -- broken out. Barrett was such an earnest young man; he was just totally perfect for the part. (I don't know about it ruining him for life; I think his earnestness ruined him more than anything.)
    So, having done that, I thought, "Well, shoot, you know; I'll do another one, and, well, let's make it the next one; let's make it Mercury. And that's how I got into doing the cycle backwards. Except that, in a sense, I'm not going through the cycle backwards, I'm going up the Tree, one new Sephirah every year. I started out by looking at the small picture; I started out looking at each rite as its own thing, rather than at the complete set. It was only as I came towards the end of the cycle, towards Mars or Jupiter, that I was beginning to look at the whole picture of the Rites and what does the whole thing mean. So, when I was doing Mercury, I basically recreated the world by word, through all of the traditions that have the world created by word in the first place. I split my Mercury into two, and had him sort of wander off at the end, dressed up as Odin, in a floppy hat. It wasn't very memorable, because I didn't have a very strong grasp of Mercury.
    I totally didn't have any grasp of Venus. I had no idea what I was going to do to Venus to make it personal to me. By then I had decided, "Okay, I have to make each one of these -- I have to give it my own stamp." It was while I was working on Venus that I came up with a conception for Mars. I still have a note of it in my Newton (my PDA): "Do Mars as Templar tragedy." And, you know, I just had this total brain fever, and so I wrote it all down, and I said, "Okay, put this away for two years. Now I have to think about "Venus". What the fuck am I going to do?" And I was reading and digesting the script, and Venus says "Brother Libra, I "command" you to declare the mystery of Venus," or the "secret" of Venus, or whatever the line it is that she says: "Brother Libra, I command you --" and suddenly it all sort of shifted over, and I could see how I could turn it into this total fetish show.
    And then for Sol I did the Aztec thing, with Tony Davis holding up my dripping heart -- oh, it was fabulous! -- and Charles Humphries starting out as Iztli, the god of the obsidian knife, for the Bez character. Caitlin was Coatlicue, she of the serpent skirt, with Tony as Tezcatlipoca, who is Quetzalcoatl's dark-mirror brother. And I was Quetzalcoatl. And so we had Iztli sort of transform, because Quetzalcoatl says "No more human sacrifice is necessary," so Iztli is banished from the temple -- and he comes back as Cortez. And so that's how we coped with that; and then we shifted forward into the future and had Caitlin, the intrepid archaeologist, discover the golden phallic symbol thingy inside my empty tomb, and basically smite Brother Leo with it -- "I strike thee with my rod and cause thee to declare" -- and he delivered Brother Leo's speech as a lecture, in blank verse.
    Then I was finally able to do Mars, as the Templar tragedy. I played fast and loose with history, and the crusades, and Jacques DeMolay, and had the Templars going over to the Holy Land and finding the Rose to go with their Cross. In fact I got an iron rose, a cast-iron rose which I spray-painted gold to make it both iron for Mars and gold for Sol. So that when they're sifting through the ashes at the end they find Sol, who is in disguise. So, they find the rose in the Holy Land, and DeMolay becomes a gnostic -- he becomes a Sufi. At the last speech, I kept "Unity uttermost showed," but all of the rest of it is poems by Hafiz and Rumi, including my favorite, favorite Rumi poem of all time:

    When my bier moves on the day of death,
    Think not my heart is in this world.
    Do not weep for me and cry "Woe, woe!"
    You will fall in the devil's snare: that is woe.
    When you see my hearse, cry not "Parted, parted!"
    Union and meeting are mine in that hour.
    If you commit me to the grave, say not "Farewell, farewell!"
    For the grave is a curtain hiding the communion of Paradise.
    After beholding descent, consider resurrection;
    Why should setting be injurious to the sun and moon?
    To you it seems a setting, but it is a rising;
    Though the tomb seems a prison, it is the release of the soul.
    Shut your mouth on this side and open it beyond,
    For in placeless air will be your triumphal song.

He collapses, and they drag him off to his trial, where he declares "I'm not a Christian, I'm not a Muslim -- I'm not a this, I'm not a that." Brother Capricorn (as the Grand Inquisitor) says "Do you have anything to say for yourself before I commit you to the flames?" He answers, "Aye! feast! rejoice! there is no dread hereafter. There is the dissolution, and eternal ecstasy in the kisses of Nu," and so he gets dragged off to the pyre. The best part about that one was that I had been not knowing, all the way through, if I had the audience; because I couldn't see them. It was in a theater situation, and of course we had lights shining on us all the time, so I couldn't see the audience to know what they were thinking or what was happening. Then I was standing off in the wings, and it was dark, and they had set up the stake and scattered the rose petals around it. Caitlin and Charles (as ordinary Templar brothers) come out from opposite sides, kind of furtively, to gather ashes (as it was said had been done; people gathered ashes from those pyres as talismans and souvenirs and relics and whatnot). As I'm standing in the wings, Caitlin says the line about "Look! In the ashes of the pyre are rose petals," and she picks them up. I could hear audible gasps and sobs, and I knew I had them, and I had had them all along! That was definitely a defining moment for me, knowing that I had had them all along, all five years.
    So then Jupiter; it's like, well, how the hell am I going to follow that? Okay, I have to do something completely different. So, I threw Trimalchio's feast, complete with the roast pig with the red hat on his head, and did my take on the gunas. It was actually kind of cool, because Michael Sanborn said afterwards to me that he had hardly ever seen a better presentation of them. And I did that all in classical dactyls, because I wanted it to have that classical flavor. I did the entire thing in dactyls, much to Elton's dismay and distaste (but, what the heck?).
    So, having done that, it's like, okay, well, how am I going to top that? How am I going to finish my cycle and provide a good kick-off for this year's cycle? I had been thinking for a long time that I was going to do Saturn as Baron Samedi, so I just basically assembled it exactly that way. It turned out that the script worked out just fine, because Brother Aquarius totally fits for Agoue, and the Venus character is just right, and Brother Capricornus; I had him be Ogou -- that was Elton. I redid all of the Magister Templi's speeches, basically saying exactly the same thing, only shorter, pithier, punchier, and rappier (so that it would be realistic coming out of the Baron's mouth). What was interesting about that was, as an old friend of mine used to say, the great thing about the African gods is, when you call them they come; the bad thing about the African gods is, when you call them they come. So, I drafted Sam Webster because I knew that he would be able to handle it if the African gods actually showed up; he could stay outside of it and kind of keep things under -- more or less -- control. While I didn't have a complete personality displacement (as I have heard sometimes happens, or is supposed to happen), because I had to have a little too much forebrain to be able to deliver the aforementioned speeches, it was certainly the case that as long as the Baron was there it didn't matter that I had a belly full of rum and no food -- anyway, basically two shrimps for dinner -- and when the Baron left, that became a serious problem. That's how I ended up being horizontal for the remainder of the evening. But I woke up in the morning, actually -- once I finally woke up -- pretty okay, you know; not too hung over at all -- which I thought was kind of cool.

(To be continued)

Crowley Classics

   First printed in 1904 e.v. in The Sword of Song; Called by Christians, The Book of the Beast, a publication of the Society for the Propagation of Religious Truth (Foyers -- given as "Benares," the ancient holy city of India, on the title page -- 1904), and afterwards in the second volume of Crowley's Works (Foyers: S.P.R.T., 1906).

Introduction to
"Ascension Day and Pentecost"

by Aleister Crowley

    Not a word to introduce my introduction! Let me instantly launch the Boat of Discourse on the Sea of Religious Speculation, in danger of the Rocks of Authority and the Quicksands of Private Interpretation, Scylla and Charybdis. Here is the strait; what God shall save us from shipwreck? If we choose to understand the Christian (or any other) religion literally, we are at once overwhelmed by its inherent impossibility. Our credulity is outraged, our moral sense shocked, the holiest foundations of our inmost selves assailed by no ardent warrior in triple steel, but by a loathly and disgusting worm. That this is so, the apologists for the religion in question, whichever it may be, sufficiently indicate (as a rule) by the very method of their apology. The alternative is to take the religion symbolically, esoterically; but to move one step in this direction is to start on a journey whose end cannot be determined. The religion, ceasing to be a tangible thing, an object uniform for all sane eyes, becomes rather that mist whereon the sun of the soul casts up, like Brocken spectre, certain vast and vague images of the beholder himself, with or without a glory encompassing them. The function of the facts is then quite passive: it matters little or nothing whether the cloud be the red mist of Christianity, or the glimmering silver-white of Celtic Paganism; the hard grey dim-gilded of Buddhism, the fleecy opacity of Islam, or the mysterious medium of those ancient faiths which come up in as many colours as their investigator has moods.1 If the student has advanced spiritually so that he can internally, infallibly perceive what is Truth, he will find it equally well symbolised in most external faiths.
    It is curious that Browning never turns his wonderful faculty of analysis upon the fundamental problems of religion, as it were an axe laid to the root of the Tree of Life. It seems quite clear that he knew what would result if he did so. We cannot help fancying that he was unwilling to do this. The proof of his knowledge I find in the following lines: --

    "I have read much, thought much, experienced much,
    Yet would die rather than avow my fear
    The Naples' liquefaction may be false . . .
    I hear you recommend, I might at least
    Eliminate, decrassify my faith
    Since I adopt it: keeping what I must
    And leaving what I can; such points as this . . .
    Still, when you bid me purify the same,
    To such a process I discern no end . . .
    First cut the liquefaction, what comes last
    But Fichte's clever cut at God himself? . . .
    I trust nor hand, nor eye, nor heart, nor brain
    To stop betimes: they all get drunk alike.
    The first step, I am master not to take."

    This is surely the apotheosis of wilful ignorance! We may think, perhaps, that Browning is "hedging" when, in the last paragraph, he says: "For Blougram, he believed, say, half he spoke,"2 and hints at some deeper ground. It is useless to say, "This is Blougram and not Browning." Browning could hardly have described the dilemma without seeing it. What he really believes is, perhaps, a mystery.
    That Browning, however, believes in universal salvation, though he nowhere (so far as I know) gives his reasons, save as they are summarised in the last lines of the below-quoted stanza of "Apparent Failure," and from his final pronouncement of the Pope on Guido, represented in Browning's masterpiece as a Judas without the decency to hang himself.

    "So (i.e. by suddenness of fate) may the truth be flashed out by one blow,
    And Guido see one instant and be saved.
    Else I avert my face nor follow him
    Into that sad obscure sequestered state
    Where God unmakes but to remake the soul
    He else made first in vain: which must not be."

    This may be purgatory, but it sounds not unlike reincarnation.
    It is at least a denial of the doctrine of eternal punishment.
    As for myself, I took the first step years ago, quite in ignorance of what the last would lead to. God is indeed cut away -- a cancer from the breast of truth.
    Of those philosophers, who from unassailable premisses draw by righteous deduction a conclusion against God, and then for His sake overturn their whole structure by an act of will, like a child breaking an ingenious toy, I take Mansel as my type.3
    Now, however, let us consider the esoteric idea-mongers of Christianity, Swedenborg, Anna Kingsford, Deussen and the like, of whom I have taken Caird as my example. I wish to unmask these people: I perfectly agree with nearly everything they say, but their claim to be Christians is utterly confusing, and lends a lustre to Christianity which is quite foreign. Deussen, for example, coolly discards nearly all the Old Testament, and, picking a few New Testament passages, often out of their context, claims his system as Christianity. Luther discards James. Kingsford calls Paul the Arch Heretic. My friend the "Christian Clergyman" accepted Mark and Acts -- until pushed. Yet Deussen is honest enough to admit that Vedanta teaching is identical, but clearer! and he quite clearly and sensibly defines Faith -- surely the most essential quality for the adherent to Christian dogma -- as "being convinced on insufficient evidence." Similarly the dying-to-live idea of Hegel (and Schopenhauer) claimed by Caird as the central spirit of Christianity is far older, in the Osiris Myth of the Egyptians. These ideas are all right, but they have no more to do with Christianity than the Metric System with the Great Pyramid. But see Piazzi Smyth!4 Henry Morley has even the audacity to claim Shelley -- Shelley! -- as a Christian "in spirit."
    Talking of Shelley: -- With regard to my open denial of the personal Christian God, may it not be laid to my charge that I have dared to voice in bald language what Shelley sang in words of surpassing beauty: for of course the thought in one or two passages of this poem is practically identical with that in certain parts of "Queen Mab" and Prometheus Unbound. But the very beauty of these poems (especially the latter) is its weakness: it is possible that the mind of the reader, lost in the sensuous, nay! even in the moral beauty of the words, may fail to be impressed by their most important meaning. Shelley himself recognised this later: hence the direct and simple vigour of the "Masque of Anarchy."
    It has often puzzled atheists how a man of Milton's genius could have written as he did of Christianity. But we must not forget that Milton lived immediately after the most important Revolution in Religion and Politics of modern times: Shelley on the brink of such another Political upheaval. Shakespeare alone sat enthroned above it all like a god, and is not lost in the mire of controversy.5 This also, though "I'm no Shakespeare, as too probable," I have endeavoured to avoid: yet I cannot but express the hope that my own enquiries into religion may be the reflection of the spirit of the age; and that plunged as we are in the midst of jingoism and religious revival, we may be standing on the edge of some gigantic precipice, over which we may cast all our impedimenta of lies and trickeries, political, social, moral, and religious, and (ourselves) take wings and fly. The comparison between myself and the masters of English thought I have named is unintentional, though perhaps unavoidable; and though the presumption is, of course, absurd, yet a straw will show which way the wind blows as well as the most beautiful and elaborate vane: and in this sense it is my most eager hope that I may not unjustly draw a comparison between myself and the great reformers of eighty years ago.
    I must apologise (perhaps) for the new note of frivolity in my work: due doubtless to the frivolity of my subject: these poems being written when I was an Advaitist and could not see why -- everything being an illusion -- there should be any particular object in doing or thinking anything. How I have found the answer will be evident from my essay on this subject.6 I must indeed apologise to the illustrious Shade of Robert Browning for my audacious parody in title, style, and matter of his "Christmas Eve and Easter Day." The more I read it the eventual anticlimax of that wonderful poem irritated me only the more. But there is hardly any poet living or dead who so commands alike my personal affection and moral admiration. My desire to find the Truth will be my pardon with him, whose whole life was spent in admiration of Truth, though he never turned its formidable engines against the Citadel of the Almighty.
    If I be appealed of blasphemy or irreverence in my treatment of these subjects, I will take refuge in Browning's own apology, from the very poem I am attacking:

    "I have done: and if any blames me,
    Thinking that merely to touch in brevity
    The topics I dwell on were unlawful --
    Or worse, that I trench with undue levity
    On the bounds of the holy and the awful --
    I praise the heart and pity the head of him
    And refer myself to Thee, instead of him,
    Who head and heart alike discernest,
    Looking below light speech we utter
    Where frothy spume and frequent splutter
    Prove that the soul's depths boil in earnest!"

But I have after all little fear that I am seriously wrong. That I show to my critics the open door of the above city of refuge may be taken as merely another gesture of contemptuous pity, the last insult which may lead my antagonists to that surrender which is the truest victory.


1. "In order to get over the ethical difficulties presented by the naive naturalism of many parts
   of those Scriptures, in the divine authority of which he firmly believed, Philo borrowed
   from the Stoics (who had been in like straits in respect of Greek mythology) that great
   Excalibur which they had forged with infinite pains and skill -- the method of allegorical
    interpretation. This mighty 'two-handed engine at the door' of the theologian is warranted
   to make a speedy end of any and every moral or intellectual difficulty, by showing that,
   taken allegorically, or, as it is otherwise said, 'poetically' or 'in a spiritual sense,' the
   plainest words mean whatever a pious interpreter desires they should mean" (Huxley,
   Evolution of Theology -- A. C.
2. Probably a record for a bishop. -- A. C.
3. As represented by his Encyclopaedia article; not in such works as Limits of Religious Thought.
4. An astronomer whose brain gave way. He prophesied the end of the world in 1881, from
   measurements made in the Great Pyramid.
5. So it is usually supposed. Maybe I shall one day find words to combat, perhaps to overthrow,
   this position. P.S. As, for example, page 185. As a promise-keeper I am the original
   eleven stone three Peacherine. -- A. C.
6. Vide "Berashith."

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from the Grady Project:

   These announcements and bits of news from Thelema Grand Lodge twenty-one years ago have been edited from issues of the first volume of The Magickal Link: Official Monthly Bulletin of Ordo Templi Orientis (Berkeley: 1981). The initial section appeared on page two of the premier issue that January. Section two was from issue number two, where it appeared as the leading article. The March and April issues contained no contributions from Grady, and our third item appeared on the first page of the issue for May 1981 e.v. (volume 1, number 5). The "temple kitty" note at the end appeared in a special box as the leading article in the sixth issue, in June. Nothing appeared "from the Caliph" in the following issue for July, but thereafter commences the sequence of articles for Grady's regular column on the first page of the Link which we have been reprinting in this column for the past year.

Notes from the Caliph

by Hymenaeus Alpha 777


    The latest project at Grand Lodge is to get the Guild system going. Crowley recommended this highly in the "blue" Equinox. So do I. It is an excellent system of lateral (horizontal) energy manifestation, as opposed to vertical structuring. For this purpose I have created the GUILD OF DRAMA AND THAUMATURGY. Obviously this places heavy emphasis on dramatic ritual, both group and individual. Unfortunately I have not yet found the secretarial help needed to provide communications. If there are any volunteers, please let me know. -- H. A. 777


    I have just returned from my latest Eastern tour. It was far out. In my wartime career I have hit many a beach, but this was one of the strangest. On the second day into the drop, I had a radio tape interview with Margot Adler (author of Drawing Down the Moon). Jim Wasserman was responsible for that. Then Vince rented a suite in the Park Plaza in Manhattan and I was announced as the guest of honor. Other people present were Kenneth Anger, Bishop Simon (of Necronomicon fame), and Bob Wang (who drew the cards for Regardie's Golden Dawn Tarot). I thought it was quite a compliment for all of us.
    The subject of my color slide lecture was "Group Ritual," using recent slides of The Rites of Eleusis done by Chandria as the primary vehicle of exposure. The result was impressive. -- H. A. 777


    Bev (our G. S. G.) has asked me to contribute an article. You see, I used to think that I was in charge of this organization. After all, I've spent forty years of an incarnation dreaming and building. But there have been changes. There always are. This is a very important lesson for all of us. Thelema has reached the stage of mass intelligence. Bring enough of it together and you have what I call the "Star-burst effect." Like an atomic bomb going off. Only this time it is beautiful energy manifesting. "Every man and every woman is a star."
    And that is the whole point of this little essay. The access of female energy into the Order of the Temple in the last few years just blows me away. I call it "catching the vision of Nuit." The realization of the continuity of the Goddess. I realized all this as a moment of slight embarrassment. As usual I had contributed articles to The Magickal Link as I am used to doing for the O.T.O. Newsletter. And then all of a sudden I realized that I was not needed. The way it happened was that one day my Lady Shirine and Bev disappeared and when I asked what was happening I was told that they were at Heidrick's, typing and publishing The Magickal Link. I had not been asked my opinion. Thank God. Now I could have been very pissed. After all, I'm the big cheese in this outfit. "His Mighty What's-His-Face." Right! Instead I was so happy. Now I can relax. The leadership for Thelema is being created right now. Otherwise we won't get through the 'eighties.
    Thank you. Thank all of you. -- H. A. 777


    I am pleased to admit to one and all that we have a new temple kitty. His name is Lucifer. He is a black kitty with golden eyeballs. Technically he is called a "Sable-point Siamese." Right at the moment he is trying to crawl my frame while I'm trying to type this. Which is a little distracting. But a lot of fun. He reminds me of the (no, Lucifer, don't step on the typewriter keys!) m -- well, that takes care of that Grady story.

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from the Library Shelf

"Preface" to the Pymander of Hermes
    from Collectanea Hermetica (1894)

by William Wynn Westcott

    This volume contains the English translation by Dr Everard, 1650, of seventeen tracts (of which the Pymander is one) attributed to Hermes Trismegistos, otherwise Mercurius Termaximus, or in the Egyptian language, Thoth, or Taautes, or Tat. Of this Hermes no reliable historical details have come down to us, but many of the ancient authors have referred to Hermes as an inspired teacher who instructed the priests and rulers of the Egyptian nation at a time almost certainly anterior to that commonly associated with Moses. It has been asserted by men who have been called learned, that this Hermes was really identical with Enoch, and by others he has been identified as Gautama -- the Buddha. If the name HERMES be taken and the suffix ES be neglected, and the word formed of the letters H R M be traced through Chaldee, Coptic, Greek, and Latin forms, an analogy will be observed between Hermes, and Hiram the hero of the myth of Freemasonry, a symbolical system of morals and theosophy which is but a reconstruction of a portion of the Ancient Mysteries. Now the Mysteries of Egypt, named Osirian, Serapian,and Isiac, are the most ancient known to us, and were the parents of the Eleusinian Mysteries of the Greeks. All these Mysteries were initiations, or forms of Esoteric instruction relating to theosophy, properly so-called, that is the knowledge of divine powers and beings, and the connection between Man and the Divine Source from which he is animated and inspired. Now the tracts which have come down to us, associated with the name of Hermes as their author, are all concerned with that arcane wisdom which was developed in three directions: Theosophy (religious and ethical teaching), Alchemy (the relation of the material to the spiritual and the transmutations of the former into the latter), and Magic (the employment of the higher powers latent in man upon the physical plane). In the Hermetic tracts these several objects are not kept distinct, but on the contrary, are almost invariably combined; hence the great value to a true student of Occultism of these very ancient writings. It is not of course asserted that the Pymander or other Hermetic work has come down to us it its original form, but it is contended that although varied in many a line and possibly in many a doctrine by the Neo-Platonists and Alexandrian school, and perhaps in later days by Christian philosophers, the Pymander, Aureus, etc., do yet enshrine the very old Egyptian ideals, and are almost the only remains now existing of the Wisdom of the hierophants of the Nile Valley.
    Kenealy has asserted that the name Hermes meant, in the ancient Egyptian language, an interpreter, and in a certain sense the later Hermes of the Greeks and the Mercurius of the Romans conveyed the same notion; this author, in his quaint conceit of Twelve Saviours, places Hermes under the name of Thoth as the Sixth Messiah, and assigns to him the era of 1800 years before Christ.
    This Thoth, as an Egyptian divinity, is often represented as a human form with an Ibis head; now the bird Ibis was notable as being the great destroyer of snakes, and the snake as apart from the regal serpent, was an emblem of evil, sin, and error; hence the Snake Destroyer fits in well with the character of Hermes as a Teacher of divine truths, which would serve to crush and beat down evil thoughts and actions.
    The earliest record of the title Trismegistos, as applied to this Egyptian sage, is found in Greek authors who lived some four centuries B.C. The Neo- Paltonists, who were of Greek culture, looked upon Hermes as the embodied LOGOS, or Word or Manifestation of the divine Spirit. The title may have had reference to his mastery over the Three divine sciences -- Theosophy, Alchemy, and Magic -- as indeed is stated in paragraph twelve of the Emerald Tablet assigned to him, of which the words following are an old Latin version: Itaque vocatus sum Hermes Trismegistus, habens tres partes divinae philosophiae totius mundi -- that is "possessing the three parts of the divine philosophy of the whole world."
    The name "Pymander" is of Greek and not Egyptian type; it is variously spelled "Pimander," and "Poemandres." Its derivation appears to be form poimen (a shepherd) and aner, genitive plural andron, and so the Guide of Man, Shepherd of men, and is nearly equivalent to Messiah. In this tract the Pymander is giving instructions to Hermes the sage, in the capacity of Divine teacher to human pupil. A parallel conception is seen in the Bhagavad Gita, where Krishna teaches Arjuna.
    Blavatsky in The Secret Doctrine refers to the Pymander as the "Thought Divine," the Inspired Teacher of that Race -- vol. I, 63 -- and again at page 74 she speaks of Pymander as "the oldest and most spiritual of the Logoi of the Western continent." She also notices the possibility of a Hebrew derivation form PI, meaning a mouth, and command, of instruction. I observe that Parkhurst associates with this word, the Greek Phemi (to speak), so perhaps another form of the title may be "Phemander" -- one who spoke to man.
    There are two other persons mentioned in the Pymander; these are Tat, assumed to be the son of Hermes, and Asclepius, a grandson.
    The Pymander has been many times printed, but it is a very difficult volume to obtain. Recent edition have been those of Hargrave Jennings (1884), a reprint of Everard's English version; John David Chambers (Edinburgh: 1882), a new translation from the Greek; and that of L. Ménard (Paris: 1867).
    Of earlier date are the Greek text of C. Parthey Berolins (1854); an Italian version by C. Lenzoni (1548); a German edition by J. Scheible (1855); a French translation, François Ficinus (1471), followed by Franciscus Patricius (1593); Flussas (1574); H. Rosselus (1630 and 1676); and others contained in volumes associated with the writings of Lucius Apuleius of Madaura, and with the books attributed to Jamblichus of Chalcis.
    The present edition is a facsimile reprint of the translation of the Rev Dr Everard from an Arabic text, of which there were two editions published in 1650 and 1657 respectively; this edition is from the earlier one. No alteration has been made except in the mode of spelling of a few words, the archaic form of which in the original would, it was feared, distract the reader's attention from the subject. It is preceded by a preface by J. F., whose name is unknown. The second edition was a reprint of the Pymander, and contained in addition an English translation of fifteen chapters of Asclepius with a commentary.
    Very little is known of the Rev John Everard, D.D., but Alsager Vian states that he was born about 1575 and died about 1650. He entered the Church and remained a minister for many years, but was frequently suspended, sometimes for heretical doctrines and at others on account of political sermons. It is most probable that he was in truth a Neo-Platonist at heart and was also a disciple of the German mystic Tauler. His original works contain many quotations from Plato, Proclus, and Plotinus.
    With these notes I leave this Preface, without any attempt to comment on or explain the subject matter of the Pymander, believing that it will be better for a student to read and assimilate what he can from the original, rather than to read the work through my spectacles, or those of any other fellow student.
    Should the present volume be found to supply a want, the remaining tracts attributed to Hermes will be reproduced in a succeeding volume of this series of COLLECTANEA HERMETICA.

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Thelema Lodge Events Calendar for September 2002 e.v.

9/2/02Gnostic Mass 8:00PM Horus Temple(510) 652-3171Thelema Ldg.
9/3/02The Rite of Mars at Sequoia Lodge
in the Oakland hills. 8:00PM
9/6/02New Moon in Virgo 8:10 PM
9/8/02Gnostic Mass 8:00PM Horus Temple(510) 652-3171Thelema Ldg.
9/15/02The Rite of Sol noon at Sirius
Sirius Camp
9/15/02Gnostic Mass 8:00PM Horus Temple(510) 652-3171Thelema Ldg.
9/18/02The Tradition of the God-Man
8 PM video presentation
(510) 652-3171Thelema Ldg.
9/20/02Pathworking with Paul 8:00PM
at Horus Temple
(510) 652-3171Thelema Ldg.
9/21/02Harvest Moon, full in Aries 6:59 AM
9/22/02Equinox ritual 3:33 PM in Horus Temp.(510) 652-3171Thelema Ldg.
9/22/02Gnostic Mass 8:00PM Horus Temple(510) 652-3171Thelema Ldg.
9/23/02Section II reading group with Caitlin:
the poetry of Robert Browing.
8PM in library
(510) 652-3171Thelema Ldg.
9/27/02The Rite of Venus at Sequoia Lodge
in the Oakland hills. 8:00PM
9/29/02IInd degree Seminar 2PM at SiriusSirius Camp
9/29/02Gnostic Mass 8:00PM Horus Temple(510) 652-3171Thelema Ldg.

    The viewpoints and opinions expressed herein are the responsibility of the contributing authors and do not necessarily reflect the position of OTO or its officers.

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

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

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