Thelema Lodge Calendar for December 2003 e.v.

Thelema Lodge Calendar

for December 2003 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, 2003 e.v.

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

December 2003 e.v. at Thelema Lodge

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

Announcements from
Lodge Members and Officers

Solstice in the Temple

    Thelema Lodge invites members, friends, and guests to revel in the dark of the year as Our Father the Sun enters Capricornus on Sunday evening 21st December. The winter solstice will be celebrated with a holiday gnostic mass and a temple full of cheer, and to mark the season there will also be a brief ritual of dedication to Baphomet, preceding the opening of the temple for mass. Communicants should assemble as usual in the lodge library at 7:30 on Sunday evening to await the summons of the deacon. Come together for the year's longest night and we will heat up the temple to welcome in the dark season. Those attending mass here for the first time, on this or any Sunday evening, should call well ahead to speak with the lodgemaster for directions to the temple and further information about participation in our communion.
    The gnostic mass has now been celebrated each week in the present location of Horus Temple for fully ten years, according to the Canon Missae of Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica established in Liber XV by Aleister Crowley as the Patriarch Baphomet. The lodge encourages everyone who takes communion with us to study this ritual themselves and then to learn it by practicing privately with others. Working with other mass officers in our temple, or with one of our gnostic bishops, novices can polish their performance, clarify the delivery of their lines, and delve further into the miracle of the mass. When a team has prepared itself to serve the lodge in this central celebration of the mysteries of our Order, its members are invited to request a date on the temple calendar, which is kept by the lodgemaster.
    Our temple was first established twenty-six years ago by Crowley's successor as E.G.C. Patriarch, Grady McMurtry. From the beginning mass has been celebrated here on an open basis, with everyone in the community invited to participate by learning the officers' roles and then signing up with a team to present the ritual. The result is that Horus Temple has continued over the years to offer the mass on a weekly basis to a strong community of gnostic Thelemites, with a healthy variety of officers seen in the principal roles. A good proportion of those in our congregation are experienced as mass officers, and the core of our membership includes at least half a dozen who have been celebrating mass together here for fifteen years and more. Because we welcome new officers, not all of our masses have the same degree of polish and grace -- or spontaneity and power -- that we are often privileged to see from celebrants who have a few years of experience. The problems are typically minor points of timing and tone, or unfamiliarity with the grammar of certain phrases, rather than actual errors. By offering mass every week, to an audience which has come to know the liturgy so thoroughly, the community is able in a sense to learn the ritual anew along with each novice team, just as we all participate in the expertise of our established performers. Even the best officers may sometimes, on the spot, mistake or omit a phrase in the liturgy, and such slips are easily put right (usually with calm quiet prompting from another member of the team). Not only does a small correction or inadvertent variation usually do no harm to the ceremony, it may even be beneficial in focusing identification with the officers on the part of those among the people who can easily imagine themselves up at the altar in just the same position. Our gnostic mass is not a stage play to be dramatized by professional actors for a passive audience of patrons. Mass is a celebration we all make together, taking turns in the principal roles. We are an "ecclesia" (a meeting defined by the presence of all), and not a "church" (ultimately from "kyrios," meaning authority, related to "kyrie" in the mass; implying recognition from on high). Unlike a church we are not a community of "faith" but rather a community of celebration, and we are not interested in regularizing the significance of our participation. Mass does not involve something that we need to believe together; rather, it is something we do together.
    The gnostic mass epitomizes and symbolizes the central "secrets" of our Order's magical culture, which we gather to share and in which we strive to further instruct one another. Unlike the initiation rituals, which are "secret" transactions strictly limited to members by degree, the mass expresses our work together in symbolism which is available for all to see, hear, taste, smell, and feel in the temple, and afterwards to verbalize about openly to any one who will listen. The work of the O.T.O. extends upon these two parallel paths: initiations which derive their meaning from the contractual secrecy under which they are conducted, and the gnostic mass which manifests its miracle openly to all. The oasis and the temple each depend upon the trust which is generated by those whose efforts together constitutes the progress of our Order. Each is founded upon the working of rituals specific to the O.T.O., and it is the purpose of a lodge to facilitate progress along both of these paths. The rituals of individual development and those of communal celebration are worked within the same community, although in practical fact this does not mean that they are worked by precisely the same individuals at any given time. Members, friends, and guests of the lodge (an inclusive phrase we like to use in defining the community here) have each their own choice, all of the time, whether to pursue individual progress along either or both of these paths, and that choice must be left in each case to the individual will.

The Radix of Vibration

    Brother Jeffrey Sommer leads the Mantra Yoga circle at Thelema Lodge, which meets on Thursday evening 18th December at 8:00 in Horus Temple. Experimenting with various languages and traditions, this group studies both the theory and practice of chanting together, with all participants welcome to swell the mighty buzz of our devotions. Try designing your own mantric phrase and working with it in batteries of 108 repetitions at various times of the day, making notes of any insights and results to bring along and compare with those of others. Or simply turn up, learn the mantra selected for group work along with the rest of us, and join in.

Constrain the Mind to Concentrate

"Yoga means Union."
-- Aleister Crowley, Eight Lectures on Yoga.

    The series entitled Foundations of Magical Practice offers monthly seminars on selected topics in the tradition of Thelemic magick. Having completed a detailed survey of Crowley's instructions for beginning magicians in Liber O, we now proceed to the introductory advice concerning yoga which he offered in Liber E. Join facilitators Gregory Peters, Leigh Ann Hussey, and Samuel Shult on Thursday evening 11th December from 7:30 until 10:00 in Horus Temple to take part in this discussion. While Liber O provides the essentials of magick practice, giving Golden Dawn techniques of working with the subtle levels of energy and magick light, in Liber E we find a series of basic techniques for training the mind and body in the practice of yogic disciplines. Taken together, these two manuals form the foundation of practice, establishing the solid base of a pyramid of magick and yoga which, with persistence, discipline, and integrity, will eventually lead one to the heights of attainment.
    The basic outline of yogic practices given in Liber E is elaborated upon further in Crowley's Book Four, Part I, as well as his smaller work Eight Lectures on Yoga. In discussing the teachings of the "Great Men" of the past, Crowley writes in Book Four:

   The methods advised by all these people have a startling resemblance to one another. They recommend "virtue" (of various kinds), solitude, absence of excitement, moderation in diet, and finally a practice which some call prayer and some call meditation. (The former four may turn out on examination to be merely conditions favourable to the last.
    It is by freeing the mind from external influences, whether casual or emotional, that it obtains power to see somewhat of the truth of things.

Even more succinctly, in Eight Lectures on Yoga, Crowley outlines the "whole of the technique of Yoga":
    Sit Still. Stop thinking. Shut up. Get out!
    The brilliance of Crowley's adaptation of yoga is the disposal of countless unnecessary superstitions, cultural trappings, and misinformation to reveal the pristine glory of systematic set of physical and mental exercises which will aid the magician in concentration, control of force, and increased vitality and health.
    The Yoga Sutras, written by the sage Patanjali, first outlined the path of ashtanga or "eight limbed yoga" as a set of guidelines on how to live one's life, with attention to diet, self- discipline, and ethical and moral considerations. The first limb is yama, a set of five ethical standards to be followed: ahimsa (non-violence), satya (speaking the truth), asteya (non-stealing), brahmacharya (sexual continence), and aparigraha (non-attachment). Crowley redefined yama to reflect the changes in consciousness and responsibility which humanity has progressed to, by saying "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law. That is Yama."
    The second limb is niyama, traditionally interpreted as five observances of self-discipline and witnessing of the sacred in one's life. These are saucha (cleanliness); samtosa (contentment); tapas (spiritual austerities); svadhyaya (introspection); and Isvara pranidhana (surrender to God). In Eight Lectures on Yoga, Crowley interprets this limb generally as "virtue," expanding them from five to seven virtues which correspond to the seven sacred planets of the ancients. Saturn represents the virtue of discipline and endurance, and embraces the Trance of Sorrow; Jupiter shows the "vital, creative, genial element of the cosmos" as the selflessness of universal love, and the Trance of Joy; Mars stands for the virtue of energy, the ability to conquer the obstacles on the path, in particular the physical obstacles, as well as courage and passion; unto the Sun is ascribed the virtue of harmony, the "centralization of the faculties, their control, their motivation;" to Venus is given the "ecstatic acceptance of all possible experience and the transcendental assumption of all particular experience into the one experience;" Mercury represents the virtue of adaptability and indifference, the adroitness and flexibility that is requisite in both the mind and body of the yogin to master the path; while finally, the Moon evinces the purity of aspiration, as well as the many siddhis or magick powers which will arise. Crowley also adds two further planetary associations, for Uranus and Neptune. The niyama for Uranus is "the discovery of the True Will," further stating that this "is the most important of the tasks of the Yogi, because, until he has achieved it, he can have no idea who he is or where he is going." To Neptune, he attributes spiritual intuition, the "imaginative faculty, the shadowing forth of the nature of the illimitable light," as well as a strong dose of humour.
    Finally, of Pluto we are told that he is "the utmost sentinel of all; of him it is not wise to speak," after which he explains that this is because "nothing at all is known about him." (Perhaps it is for some future yogin to discover the niyama of this distant chunk of ice!)
    The third and fourth limbs of ashtanga are asana, the various postures necessary for meditation, and pranayama, the control of breath. Whereas traditional yoga utilizes several sets of asanas for practice and mastery, Crowley recommended selecting one position and mastering it. "The real object of Asana is control of the muscular system, conscious and unconscious, so that no messages from the body can reach the mind." He points out the many health benefits of asana, including

The conquest of Asana makes for endurance. If you keep in constant practice, you ought to find that about ten minutes in the posture will rest you as much as a good night's sleep.

Crowley defined pranayama as "control of force," again cutting through profuse amounts of mystic obfuscation in the traditional literature by describing the process thus:

This simply means that you get a stop watch, and choose a cycle of breathing out and breathing in. Both operations should be made as complete as possible. The muscular system must be taxed to its utmost to assist the expansion and contraction of the lungs.

He also describes the classic results of pranayama practice: perspiration, automatic rigidity, buchari-siddhi ("jumping about like a frog"), and levitation.
    The fifth and sixth limbs are pratyahara, the withdrawal of senses, and dharana, concentration. The former is described in Eight Lectures as "introspection, but it also means a certain type of psychological experience," citing the direct experience of feeling that you do not have a nose as an example. Going into much more detail in Book Four, Crowley describes the process of simply watching the mind think. With dharana, we move into concentration proper. Here Liber E gives several practices for training the mind to concentrate one-pointedly, such as visualizing the elemental tattvas for a minute or more, and eventually working up to more complex images. Other practices given in Eight Lectures for concentration include Liber Astarte, Liber III vel Jugorum, and the practice, "useful when walking in a christian city," of saying "Apo Pantaos Kakodaimonos," with an "outward and downward sweep of the arm," whenever passing a person in "religious garb."
    Dyana and Samadhi, the seventh and eighth limbs of yoga, are traditionally associated with "meditation" proper, and ecstasy, respectively. One necessarily leads to the other, and samadhi is the crown of the system, the charisma of the yogin. In dyana is a development of the introspection of pratyahara and the concentration of dharana, resulting in the single minded force of dhyana. This process, taken to conclusion, results in the ecstasy of Samadhi. In The Soldier and the Hunchback (Liber 148), Crowley writes of this experience:

    Not what Christians call faith, be sure! But what (possibly) the forgers of the Epistles -- those eminent mystics! -- meant by faith. What I call Samadhi!
    Ah, say the adepts, Samadhi is not the end, but the beginning. You must regard Samadhi as the normal state of mind which enables you to begin your researches, just as waking is the state from which you rise to Samadhi, sleep the state from which you rose to waking. And only from Sammasamadhi -- continuous trance of the right kind -- can you rise up as it were on tiptoe and peer through the clouds unto the mountains.

---- Brother Gregory Peters

Midst the Immortals, Be Thyself a God

    The "Section Two" reading group meets in the lodge library to read and discuss the Golden Verses of Pythagoras, beginning at 8:00 on Monday evening 22nd December. This set of 71 Greek hexameter verses represents an ancient distillation of the philosophic teachings of the school established by Pythagoras. Crowley recommended it to his students as a work "for serious study" in Section One of the A A reading list. Here he specifically mentions the French translation and commentary by Fabre d'Olivet which appeared in 1813 (subsequently translated into English and often reprinted) as providing for students of Pythagoras "an interesting study of the exoteric doctrines of this Master." We will examine these Pythagorean verses (designated as "golden" after the ancient manner, indicating their great value), with their rather conventional exhortations to justice, discipline, moderation, and piety. We will also explore the interpretations offered in the d'Olivet commentary, as well as in the ancient commentary by the Alexandrian philosopher Hierocles and in other studies of the Pythagorian heritage.
    Our gnostic saint Pythagoras, father of the Greek intellectual tradition which became known as philosophy (a term he originated), spanned with his adult life the latter half of the sixth century previous to the common era. He was raised on the Aegean island of Samos, where he showed remarkable progress in his early education and was encouraged to travel to Egypt for more advanced learning. According to the ancient biographies, Pythagoras remained for 22 years studying in various Egyptian temples and libraries, followed by 12 more years with the Magi of Babylon, returning to Samos as a renowned scholar at the age of 56. During his travels he obtained initiation in numerous local cults and mystery schools, all the while studying foreign religions, governments, and educational systems. Back in Greece he established a training center to propagate the "philosophic" mode of living, located originally in a large cave outside the city of Samos. Political tyranny there drove him to emigrate within a few years, however, and he went to one of the new Greek colonies in southern Italy, where he was celebrated for his wisdom and burdened with occasional civic responsibilities. There in the city of Croton, Pythagoras established a new philosophic school where hundreds of students and their families lived communally, studying together and welcoming guest scholars from all over the Hellenic world and beyond. Their curriculum was based upon mathematics, founded upon a notion of numeric emergence from the monad, which is similar to the pattern of sepherotic emanation later developed in Hebrew qabalah. Pythagoras established basic laws in the fields of harmony and geometry which have continued ever since to be studied according to his methods, and he also originated the concept of the philosophical community. This institution provided a model for Plato's Republic, as well as for the later monastic, academic, and utopian traditions. For the Abbey of Thelema, and at length for Ordo Templi Orientis itself, the philosophic community of Pythagoras stands as one of the original examples of a secular order established for a dedicated and enlightened membership according to an informed design.
    Pythagoras gave public lectures and directed the reform of civil constitutions, but left no writings of his own. Followers attended to his oral teachings, and passed them down to later students for generations before any need was seen to make a durable record of their master's words. By that time the tradition had been dispersed, and many of the accounts which were assembled have not survived except as fragmentary quotations in later books. Outlines of his teaching are given in two biographies of Pythagoras written by the Neoplatonic philosophers Porphyry and Iamblichus, who (although removed from their subject by about eight hundred years) enjoyed far greater reference to ancient sources than modern scholarship (remote by sixteen additional centuries) can hope to recover. In the ancient world the influence of Pythagoras was so pervasive that it can hardly be distinguished from the entire course of Greek philosophy; his doctrines and methods were fundamental to the work both of Plato and Aristotle, each of whom acknowledged their debt to Pythagoras. Waves of philosophical renewal later in the ancient world are designated as Neoplatonic or Neopythagorean almost indistinguishably, so intertwined are these traditions. Apart from the "Golden" Verses there are several other ancient collections of the "sayings" of Pythagoras, as well as later philosophical treatises which explicate his principles and quote from teachings attributed to him. Collections of Pythagorian material in English translation are available, and some study in one of them would assist participants to contribute to our "Section Two" discussion, but all are welcome for an introduction to this great font of philosophy, with or without any advance review of the subject.

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Crowley Classics

   Seemingly one of Crowley's most foolish, dishonest, and offensive essays, this early propaganda piece was his first contribution to George Sylvester Viereck's monthly magazine The International: A Review of Two Worlds (New York), where it appeared in the January 1916 e.v. issue on pages 24 and 25. Although Edith Cavell had been shot by the Germans in occupied Belgium only a couple of months earlier, Crowley has very little to say here about her case, and most of what he does imply is false. Born and trained in England, Cavell had been the nursing director of a medical institute in Brussels for seven years before the war began, remaining there when the institute was converted into a Red Cross hospital during wartime. She and a Belgian man were arrested in August 1915 for assisting about 200 British, French, and Belgian soldiers with money and guides for escape into neutral Holland. Despite cooperating with the German court marshal, Cavell (aged 49) was sentenced to death on 9th October 1915 and executed by firing squad three days later. No charges involving espionage had been proffered against her, and the German government ignored strong American and Spanish protests in carrying out the hasty and outrageous judgment. She immediately became a heroine of the Allied cause, and Crowley's attempt here to argue her guilt as a "spy" would have been widely recognized for its disloyal inaccuracy. Even if it was written, as Crowley later maintained, in association with a secretly organized British effort to discredit German propaganda, it still seems difficult to excuse the author's reliance in this essay upon misogynistic nonsense about "soul" and gender, opinions with which he enjoyed causing offense in other contexts as well. With respect to the Master Therion, we present this item in the same critical spirit with which the utterances of anyone aspiring to prophecy will always need to be examined.

The Crime of Edith Cavell

by Aleister Crowley

"And Judas said: Hail Master! and kissed him."

    In the outburst of collective hysteria, which is called by the patients, sympathy for Miss Cavell and indignation at her fate, it had not occurred to anyone to analyze the nature of her offence.
    That offence is what the law of England calls "constructive murder."
    It is an innocent and even a politic action to open a door for a lady, but if one did so in order to enable that lady to murder her husband, one would be equally guilty. The responsibility for crime does not diminish by dilution. Every man who makes a shell in Bethlehem is just as much at war as the soldier who fires that shell, provided that he is aware of the purpose to which the shell will be put. One might even say that the man who sows the seed to grow corn to make the bread to feed the man who makes the shell would be equally participant in the final action, but that here there is no intention to feed that particular man. However, since it may be so, one can understand the position of these international lawyers who declare every necessity of life to be contraband of war.
    In the case of Edith Cavell, however, we need not go so far. She was confessedly aiding belligerents, actual combatants, to escape. She was sending them from a place where they could not kill Germans to a place where they might be able to do so. She did this with the intention that they should kill Germans, and it is to be presumed that some of them actually did so. She might just as well have stood by the men in the trenches and loaded their rifles for them; morally, it is the same position. Her intention was that Germans should be killed; and "Qui facit per alium facit per se" is a sound legal maxim.
    Miss Cavell was therefore a belligerent. "Certainly," some one will reply, "and so is Sister Susie in sewing shirts for soldiers; that is no reason why Sister Susie should be shot. It is an understood thing that women should help in every way to fit their men for fighting. They do not thereby render themselves liable even to imprisonment. These are legitimate civilian activities."
    All this is perfectly true. But Miss Cavell was living in a conquered country under martial law; this law specifically denounced the very actions which she committed, and she knew perfectly well that she was rendering herself liable to prosecution. Very true, you will say, all the braver of her to do it.
    So far one must agree, in any ordinary case. I am one of those who think the spy potentially far nobler than the soldier. For his country's sake he leaves the open life of the world, courts ignominy, risks the most shameful of all deaths, and he does it for little pay and less glory. The Secret Service is the nursery and the tomb of many a nameless hero.
    The real objection to that service is that in some of its branches men are occasionally called upon to do actions which in the ordinary way of life would be dishonorable. Subterfuge of any kind is repugnant to the average man of frank and hearty nature. It can only be his country's bitter need which would induce any man of honor to undertake such a task. In fact, even so, few such men will do it, and the service, like the police, has therefore been obliged to throw open its ranks to unscrupulous and needy adventurers. Such usually become double traitors, like Azoff. The general objection to all secret and underhand work is apparent; it leads to blackmail and bribery and the double-cross.
    If, however, the spy is actuated by true patriotism, one can only admire his abnegation of self. Even so, there are just one or two things that he cannot do without exciting our utmost loathing and contempt and horror.
    You remember Mordaunt, the son of Milady, in Twenty Years After? His father plunges in the sea to rescue him from a death that he had merited ten thousand times, and the viperine creature merely stabs him. But even this does not so radically stir us as that other earlier incident of the wounded man who calls a monk to confess him. The monk is Mordaunt, and murders the wretch in cold blood. It is because he is pretending to be a priest that horror shakes us. The priest, the doctor, and the nurse are sacred. To them, when we are helpless, we confide our fate, and we do it without reservation. Therefore they on their side are equally pledged to fidelity toward us. It was not the revolt of modern thought against the ancient dogmas of the Church that brought about the Reformation; it was the tale of indulgences and Luther's cunning hint that the priest was not to be trusted. Similarly today the idea is gaining ground that doctors are ignorant and venal, that they care only for fees and fame, and that they like to make experiments. Their prestige is accordingly on the wane; many people prefer a quack whom they suppose too ignorant to be anything but honest!
    To resume the argument, then, had Miss Cavell disguised herself as Field Marshal von Hindenburg, obtained an interview with the Kaiser, and spirited him away in an airship, or worse, one could hardly have refrained from admiration of the daring of the act, even if we could never come to excuse assassination. Edith Cavell would not have gone down to history with Joan of Arc, but she might have ruffled it with Charlotte Corday.
    But this was not the case. The disguise which she assumed was one which it was blasphemy to scrutinize.
    She went to General von Bissing, in effect, and said: "Behold me, an enemy of your country, I admit, but with no hostile intention.
    "On the contrary, I am come to nurse the wounded, yours as well as ours. You can keep me out of the country if you wish, but -- won't you trust me?" And that great-hearted, simple-minded German replied: "Miss Cavell, I will trust you."
    And then what did she do? She used every resource in her power -- left in her power by her unsuspecting hosts -- to turn loose tigers on them!
    However, she miscalculated. Von Bissing himself, as honest and open as the day, had yet heard of English treachery. Probably he had never imagined it could go so far as this, so that for some time she went unwatched and unsuspected. What leprous distilment of perverted imagination could figure such a crime? Probably at first its strange and hideous nature left credulity sick.
    Punishment followed discovery; she was shot; the shades of Locusta, Canidia, Catherine de Medici, and Brinvilliers bowed them low and joyously welcomed her to hell.
    No; I do not think she was morally responsible. Women, with rare exceptions, are not. They are not soul, but only sex; they have no morals, only moods. It is useless to punish them, and very difficult to guard against them. You can prevent a man from harming you, as a rule, because you know what he is going to do; you cannot so prevent a woman, because she does not know what she is going to do herself!
    It is this consideration, and only this, which prevents our ranking the actions of Edith Cavell as constitutionally one of the most loathsome and abominable crimes in the history of the planet.
    "Murder most foul, as in the best it is; but this most foul, strange and unnatural."
    The only parallels that occur to the mind are the crimes of Alexander VI (Italian), the Massacre of St Bartholomew (French-Italian), and the Massacre of Glencoe (English).
    I have no doubt that the shocking and unexpected nature of the atrocity threw moral Germany for the moment off its basis.
    With all due deference, be it said, the Kaiser missed a coup which would have thrown America into his arms; and it would have cost him nothing. After all, there is but poor sport in shooting vermin!
    He might have written:
    "Madam -- You came to my country as a guest of honor; you used your position to assassinate your hosts.
    "You disguised yourself as an Angel of Mercy to perform the work of a fiend. Worthy daughter of England, to England you shall go."

Qui facit per alium facit per se. -- "As one does unto others, so likewise for oneself."
Twenty Years After -- Vingt ans apres (1845), sequel by Alexander Dumas (pere) to his
   successful adventure novel The Three Musketeers (1844).
"Murder most foul . . ." -- quoted from the ghost's speech in the fifth scene of act I from
    Shakespeare's Hamlet (1601).

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from the Grady Project:

   Written in the early 1980s e.v., this essay survives as four pages of typescript with the author's handwritten corrections and additions. It was intended for the original Magickal Link, and although it was not used in this form (and never received a final editorial polish), several of its stories and some of its phrases were recycled into other essays which Grady prepared for the Link over the following couple of years. At the end this piece trails off into glosses upon a letter from Crowley which is quoted throughout, but which was not preserved with the essay. Copies of his poems to which Grady refers ("Normandie in June" and "The Cynic"), which have long since appeared in the pages of the present publication, were appended to the typescript.

On Crowley the Critic

by Hymenaeus Alpha

    Having the opportunity to submit one's poetry to Aleister Crowley for his critique was a unique experience. It could also be rather painful.
    When I hit Beach Blue in Normandy -- that was on the right (Cotetin Peninsula); Beach Red (Omaha) was on the left -- on D+11 I was walking about three feet off the ground on the astral. You wouldn't believe the high you can get from a rush like that. I won't go into it here, but it was one hell of a show. I do mean in the theatrical sense. One result was my poem, "Normandie in June."
    One hazard of such a physical (adrenal) high is that you can't keep it up forever. Sooner or later you have to come down. With the breakout I pulled the first convoy of deuce-and-a-halfs (two and one-half ton GMC trucks) loaded with 500-pounders out of Strip Three, Normandy. We headed east through the red brick rubble that had been St Lo before our bombers hit it, and swing north for Chartres. (The French pronounce it "Shart!" You can pronounce it any way you want to. Even today Americans drive the French up the wall calling Rheimes "Rheems!") The Germans were fighting a desperate delaying action, and some of the things we rolled through were pretty grim. One of my personal nightmares is that line of Sherman tanks we passed on the left. The first thing I noticed was the odd way they were parked. Nose down in the ditch. That is not like us. The second thing was that funny rusty orange color they had painted the turrets. Then it hit me. Oh my god, oh no! Some American tank commander had ordered a "by the left flank" at just the wrong moment. He was trying to cut off the German retreat, but they were covering. The German army was hurt and it was retreating, but it was for god damned sure still the German army, and they weren't going to give an inch without making us pay. In blood. As the American tanks had peeled off to the left there had been a line of Panzergrenaderen lying there in their slit trenches under the trees. "Mit kalte blut" and steady fingers on the triggers of their Panzerfausts. (Stupid us -- we had given away the secret of the Bazooka in the North African campaign. Naturally the Germans had picked it up and copied it. Old Heinie may have lost a couple of wars, but there is damn sure nothing wrong with his brights.) As the American tanks had wheeled left off the road "by the numbers" there had been a lance of fire in the guts of each, and twenty American tank crews had gone up in flaming agony. The rusty color was the way the turrets had oxidized in the rain. I damn near threw up.
    We came barrelling onto Chartres airfield in the rain past a shot-down B-17. Poor bastards; they had named it "Bad Penny." Bad Penny "always turns up." In case you think primitive magick is absent from modern warfare, I've got news for you. There ain't no atheists in fox holes. And there is nothing worse than incoming artillery. That's when you grab the dirt. And pray. What you are saying mostly is, "Oh my god, oh no!" It won't do you much good. But you've got to say something or shit your pants -- as you might just do.
    I set up our Ammunition Supply Point in what had been the German bomb dump. It was a little more than depressing, wondering how many of our aircrew had been shot down trying to hit that airfield when it had been a Luftwaffe base. You could see where the lines of bomb craters came marching right up to the edge of the field, and had stopped just short. The reason was more than a little obvious. The great cathedral of Chartres, like some monstrous and antique battleship riding the seas of time, loomed just behind us. Our bombadiers had been trying desperately to take out that airbase but miss the cathedral, and too many times they had dropped short and died trying.
    Anyway, sometime around here, and for whatever reasons, I hit that old downer trip. Not too surprising, after the fantastic high of Normandie. The result was "The Cynic." I didn't particularly like it. In fact, I damn near threw it away. Glad I didn't. If I had, we would not have this particular letter from Crowley. So. I sent it, along with "Normandie in June," to A. C. The result we can see here in his letter to me of November 13, 1944. (Probably the reason the date is not "e.v." is because the letter had been typed commercially.)
    "As I expected, my judgment about your poems is probably the exact opposite of yours. The one into which you put so much hard work I just don't like. The hard work is apparent. The "Normandy in June" is not so bad; but it is not really a poem. There is no ecstasy in it, or coming out of it. It seems to me to be just a straightforward description of things observed. But for "The Cynic" I have nothing but unqualified praise. As you say, it was a spur-of-the-moment thing, and I am absolutely convinced that all first-class poetry is just exactly that. I said so in the Preface to the "City of God." And again, in the last paragraph, ". . . (as in the case of poetry) this business" -- i.e. Magick -- "depends entirely on the spontaneous outflow of the spirit."
    This letter also gives us other fascinating insights into Crowley's view of his own character. "What we have always lacked has been the real fantastic. I could never be anything of the sort myself. At the back of me is an extraordinarily powerful strain of conventional behavior. I have done a few mad things in my time; but it has always been based upon calculation, and (as in the case of poetry) this business depends entirely on the spontaneous outflow of the spirit."
    He mentions money. It is practically impossible to find a letter from him in those days in which he doesn't. The "new book" he refers to was Magick Without Tears, from which I was supposed to derive an income. Naturally I have never received a cent. Jack would be Jack Parsons. Smith would be Wilfred Smith (reference is to Liber 132). The "three bound volumes of typescript" on astrology were perhaps never stolen at all. Evangeline Adams had worked with him for awhile, and one line of speculation is that when she came home she simply brought her notebooks with her. These were published as books posthumously by her friends and without her editing, which perhaps accounts for certain passages which could only have been written by an English male.
    His suggestion that I take the Grand Tour of France while I was at the same time fighting a real live shooting war is so typical of Crowley. I don't think he was trying to be funny. He was just being Crowley. He lived in a world of the impossible, and saw no reason why others shouldn't. "La Gauloise" was his "Song for the Fighting French." He wanted me to get it published during the war in France. At the end of a series of most unlikely events I handed a copy to Charles Munch, the noted French maestro, on a cold and wintry day in Paris, with the power off and the snow looking like thick frost on the ground, in the winter of '44-'45 e.v. Naturally nothing ever came of it, but, for whatever karma is worth, I had fulfilled the commission from my Prophet and made the contact. As best I could. Under some rather impossible circumstances. To quote Crowley (second paragraph of the letter reproduced here), "It is very extraordinary the way things happen."
    Or, as it is written in the Gospel According to Our Mighty What's-His-Face:
I shot a poem into the air
It fell to earth in Picadilly Circus.

93, HA

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Foundations of Magical Practice

   In this new column we present a ritual contributed by the leader of our Magical Practices group. Dated 3rd December 1999 e.v., this outline adapts Crowley's paraphrase from the Stele of Revealing for use as a ritual of personal activation and magical focus. Any questions or observations regarding the techniques offered here will be welcome for discussion at the regular meetings of the group, held in Horus Temple on the second Thursday evening of each month.

Thelemic Rousing of the Citadels

by Brother Gregory Peters

    An effective and simple method of rapidly establishing an active current of Light in the sphere of sensation is to use the Egyptian mantra in conjunction with a Middle Pillar type practice, incorporating the Four Worlds map of consciousness. In this method, each line of the mantra is associated with one of the Four Worlds, thus:

AtziluthA ka duaSahasarachakraKether

BriahTuf ur biuAnahattachakraTiphareth

YetzirahBi a'a chefuSvadhisthanachakraYesod

AssiahDudu ner af an nuteruMuladharachakraMalkuth

    The entire paraphrase in English is a powerful micro-ritual in and of itself, serving as an effective invocation of the Light also along the lines of a modified Middle Pillar ritual, in that each stanza may be associated with one of the Four Worlds, utilizing the Gate Sephiroth of Kether, Tiphereth, Yesod, and Malkuth to rise through the different levels of consciousness as one ascends the Tree, or bring the current of Divine Light down the Tree to ground into matter:
    Standing in the Wand Posture (straight up, hands to the sides), visualize your sphere of sensation filling with radiant white light, with a barely perceptible field of blue light at the outer perimeter of the aura. With this current of energy coursing through your system, say:

I am the Lord of Thebes, and I
The inspired forth-speaker of Mentu;
For me unveils the veiledsky,
The self-slain Ankh-af-na-khonsu
Whose words are truth. I invoke, I greet
Thy presence, O Ra-Hoor-Khuit!

    Next, proceed to establish the Middle Pillar with the following actions:

Atziluth -- Kether: Visualize Divine white brilliance above the head at the sahasarachakra as a radiating luminescent sphere.

Unity uttermost showed!
I adore the might of Thy breath,
Supreme and terrible God,
Who makest the gods and death, even
To tremble before Thee: --
I, I adore thee!

Briah -- Tiphereth: Bring a current of white light down from the Kether sphere to the anahattachakra at the chest, where a brilliant rose-gold solar sphere of radiant fire appears.

Appear on the throne of Ra!
Open the ways of the Khu!
Lighten the ways of the Ka!
The ways of the Khabs run through
To stir me or still me!
Aum! let it fill me!

Yetzirah -- Yesod: The current of white light extends down from the chest to the genitals at the svadhisthanachakra, as a sphere of brilliant luminescent violet light emerges.

The light is mine; its rays consume
Me: I have made a secret door
Into the House of Ra and Tum,
Of Khephra and of Ahathoor.
I am thy Theban, O Mentu,
The prophet Ankh-af-na- khonsu!

Assiah -- Malkuth: The scintillating column of white light descends from the genitals to the feet representing the muladharachakra, where a sphere of brilliant citrine light appears.

By Bes-na-Maut my breast I beat;
By wise Ta-Nech I weave my spell.
Show thy star-splendour, O Nuit!
Bid me within thine House to dwell,
O winged snake of light, Hadit!
Abide with me, Ra-Hoor-Khuit!

    Now pause to see the four spheres of radiant light, and the central column of brilliance connecting them all. From this point, one may wish to go into meditation, invocation of the Holy Guardian Angel, or other forms of ritual and meditative Work.

Next Magical Practice

from the Library Shelf

   This installment completes the fourth chapter of The Arcane Schools: A Review of their Origin and Antiquity; with a General History of Freemasonry and its Relation to the Theosophic, Scientific, and Philosophical Mysteries (Belfast: 1909) by Jonathan Yarker (1833-1913).

The Mysteries in Relation to Philosophy
from The Arcane Schools (1909)

-- part three --

by Jonathan Yarker

    As to the necessary Apprenticeship for even the Lesser Mysteries, we have some information in the writings of Theon of Smyrna, who was a disciple of Euclid, and an editor of his books. Theon is comparing the five liberal sciences, as necessary for a mystically initiated philosopher, with the five preparations for the Mysteries:
    "Again it may be said that Philosophy is the Initiation into, and tradition of, real and true Mysteries; but of Initiation there are five parts. That which has the precedency indeed, and is the first, is Purification. For the Mysteries are not imparted to all who are willing to be initiated, but some persons are excluded by the voice of the Crier, such as those whose hands are not pure, and whose speech is inarticulate. It is also necessary that those who are not excluded from initiation should first undergo a certain purification; but the second thing, after purification, is the Tradition of the Mysteries. The third thing is denominated Inspection. And the fourth, which is the end of inspection, is binding the head and placing on it Crowns, so that he who is initiated is now able to deliver to others the Mysteries which he has received; whether it be the Mysteries of a Torchbearer, or the Interpreter of the sacred ceremonies, or of some other Priesthood. But the fifth thing which results from these is the Felicity arising from being dear to the divinity and the associate of the gods. Conformable to these things likewise is the tradition of the political doctrines, and in the first place a certain purification is requisite, such as the exercise from youth in appropriate disciplines, for Empedocles says, 'it is necessary to be purified from defilements by drawing from five fountains in a vessel of unmingled brass.' But Platon says, 'that purification is to be derived from five disciplines, namely, Arithmetic, Geometry, Stereometry, Music, and Astronomy.' The tradition, however, by philosophical, logical, political, and physical theories is similar to Initiation. But Platon denominates the occupation about intelligibles 'true beings'; and ideas Epopteia or 'inspection'; and the ability from what has been learned of leading others to the same theory must be considered analogous to binding the head, and being crowned; but the fifth, and most perfect thing, is the felicity produced from these, and, according to Platon, an assimilation as much as possible to God."
    So far Theon, and his essay is a most important comparison between the relative value of philosophy and the Mysteries; it might be worth while to ask ourselves, whether these five parts of Initiation, five sciences, and five fountains, have any relation to the mystic pentagon, Pentagram, and the Masonic five points of Fellowship, in the ancient aspect; for in these old times the Liberal arts and sciences were not seven, but five. We are informed by Diodorus that the Egyptians had an especial veneration for the number five, as they considered it to represent the Universe, because there are five elements -- earth, water, air, fire, and ether or spirit - and it is noteworthy that it was by these elements that the worthiness of the Neophyte was tested before Initiation. It is related that when the eminent Christian, Justin Martyr, applied for Initiation into the Society of Pythagoras, he was asked whether he had studied arithmetic, music, astronomy, and geometry, as these alone were capable of abstracting the soul from sensibles, and preparing it for intelligibles: as he could not reply affirmatively he was refused admission (Oliver's Pythagorean Triangle, John Hogg, London).
    We see from these extracts that the requirement of the Liberal arts and sciences were common to Theosophy and Philosophy, as they were of old to Freemasonry, and is a proof, to be added to many others, that these three had one and the same origin, and were rites of the same Fellowship. Discipline was made to precede Initiation into the Mysteries in the same way that Freemasonry, having abandoned the teaching of the arts, and especially Geometry, now requires a certain amount of education for its candidates. The Lesser Mysteries were intended to teach the sciences which the Art Mysteries transmitted. The Greater Mysteries were essentially spiritual, embracing man's origin, rebirth or regeneration, and his final felicity; and this passed to Gnostics, Mystics, the Church, and the later Rosicrucians.
    In explanation of the terms Inspection, and Seeing, (Epoptae,) which are frequently used by writers who comment upon the Mysteries, we will give some quotations to shew that the claim was actual and not metaphorical. Though not necessary to our subject, we may say, that Iamblichus in his letter upon the Mysteries, has left us in no doubt as to the significance of Epopteia or Inspection, and Autopsia or Seeing, for he repeats, over and over again in unmistakable language, paragraph after paragraph, the fact of the visible presence of supermundane beings at the celebration of the Theurgic rites (On the Mysteries, par. ii, sec. iii to ix). These particulars, were it necessary, are too long for insertion here, but he proceeds to define with care the appearance, functions, qualities, and the good effects of beholding the gods, defining archangels, angels, daemons or tutelary spirits, potentates or demi-gods, hero-gods, and souls, with all the authority of one who had beheld and studied all their qualities. The means taken by these Philosophers, for inducing the development of seership, was strict chastity and purity of life, accompanied by strict dietary, with fasts and prayer; principles adopted in all the sacredotal Mysteries for superior Initiation. The following is recorded by Damaskios as to the appearance of the god in the Mysteries of Serapis: "In a manifestation which must not be revealed, there is seen on the walls of the temple a mass of light which appears at first at a very great distance. It is transformed, whilst unfolding itself, into a visage evidently divine and supernatural, by an aspect severe but with a touch of sweetness. Following the teachings of a mysterious religion, the Alexandrians honour it as Osiris or Adonis." This appearance corresponds, in its description, with what was said of Serapis in our last chapter.
    Porphyrios, circa 270 A.D., records in his Life of Plotinos, that that Philosopher in order to satisfy the curiosity of an Egyptian priest, repaired with him to the Temple of Isis in Rome, in order, as the most suitable place, to invoke his tutelary Daemon, which having done, a divine being made his appearance, apparently so much above the rank of the ordinary daemons as to greatly astonish the Egyptian. The eminent Platonist, Thomas Taylor, translates a passage of the Phaidros thus: "Likewise in consequence of this divine Initiation, we become spectators of entire, simple, immovable, and blessed visions, resident in a pure light, and were ourselves pure and immacualte, and liberated from the surrounding vestment which we denominated body, and to which we are bound, as an oyster to its shell." Proklos, in his Commentary on the Republic of Plato, has these words: "In all Initiations and Mysteries, the gods exhibit many forms of themselves, and appear in a variety of shapes, sometimes a formless light, shining from themselves, is thrown forth for contemplation, sometimes the luminosity is in a human figure, and sometimes it takes a different shape," into all of which Iamblichus also particularly enters.
    The wondrous works of Homer, "The blind old man of Scio's rocky isle," are as full of the appearance of gods and angels to man, as the Jewish Scriptures. In book IV of the Odyssey, in describing the descent of Ulysses into the Cimmerian Cavern, leading to the abode of souls, he asserts that the fumes of the blood of the victims offered in sacrifice, and slain for the purpose, were used by the shades of the dead to reanimate and strengthen their corporeal faculties. Moses says, "the blood is the life." Pope thus words it, on the appearance of the prophet or seer, Tiresias:
    "Eager he quaft the gore, and then expres't
    Dark things to come, and counsels of his breast."
Again, when Ulysses observes the wan and melancholy shade of his mother, Anticlea, standing aloof, Tiresias the Seer thus informs him:
    "Know, to the spectre, that thy beverage's taste,
    The scenes of life renew, and actions past."
And when the mother approaches her son's sacrifice:
    "When near Anticlea moved, and drank the blood,
    Stright all the mother in her soul awakes,
    And owning her Ulysses thus she speaks."
    St Basil instructs us in this, that "the blood being evaporated by fire, and so attenuated, is taken into the substance of their body." It is said that in the Eleusinian Mysteries the Initiate took the solemn oath required of him, standing upon the skins of the animals slain in sacrifice. The disgusting rites of the Taurobolium, said to have been practiced in some of the Mysteries, were of the nature described; and it is alleged that when the Aspirant was to receive this baptism of blood, he was put in a chamber, above which was another with the floor pierced with holes; in this a bull was slain and the Aspirant received the crimson stream upon him in the lower chamber. Prudentius has the following lines on the subject (Perieteranon, v, p. 146; Fragments of Initiation, Bro. F. F. Schnitger):
    "All salute and adore him from afar
    Who is touched with this uncleanliness,
    And sullied with such recent sin-offering,
    Because the vile blood of the dead ox
    Has washed him who was hid in filthy caverns."
    The reader of these pages will no doubt remark that details of such matters have no reference to Freemasonry; that is so, but we were minded to shew of what the Mysteries consisted, and what they actually professed and practiced. Nevertheless a large amount of affinity with Masonic rites, and its symbolism, will be found in this chapter by the attentive observer, and considerably more in the next.
    The perfectly metaphysical mind of Plato eminently fitted him for an exponent of Mysteries which had reached him from remote ages, and it may be said that the Mysteries were Platonism, and that Platonism was the Mysteries, and in this sense we may aptly apply the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, who says: "Out of Plato come all things that are still written and debated among men of thought." "Plato is philosophy and philosophy Plato; at once the glory and the shame of mankind; since neither Saxon nor Roman have availed to add any ideas to his categories." Plato himself holds that of the five orders of things (of which we have just written) only four can be taught to the generality of men.

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Thelema Lodge Events Calendar for December 2003 e.v.

12/7/03Gnostic Mass 7:30PM Horus Temple(510) 652-3171Thelema Ldg.
12/8/03Full Moon in Gemini 12:37 PM
12/11/03Magical Practice series 7:30PM
in Horus Temple
(510) 652-3171Thelema Ldg.
12/14/03Gnostic Mass 7:30PM Horus Temple(510) 652-3171Thelema Ldg.
12/18/03Mantra Yoga Class with Jeff Sommer
8 PM in Horus Temple
(510) 652-3171Thelema Ldg.
12/21/03Winter Solstice Gnostic Mass 7:30PM
Horus Temple (Sol>Capricorn 11:04PM)
(510) 652-3171Thelema Ldg.
12/22/03Section II reading group with
Caitlin: Golden Verses of Pythagoras
8PM in the library
(510) 652-3171Thelema Ldg.
12/23/03New Moon in Capricorn 1:43 PM
12/25/03(lesser feast of the old aeon)
12/26/03Gnostic Mass 7:30PM Horus Temple(510) 652-3171Thelema Ldg.
12/31/03have a VULGAR NEW YEAR!

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

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

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