| up a level
from the psalm-pilot dept.
Most Thelemites I know only think about The Treasure House of Images (Liber DCCCCLXIII) during performances of The Rites of Eleusis, when Treasure House sections are recited in every rite but that of Venus. Even then, they are sometimes omitted or read in a way that makes them indecipherable to the audience. But I happen to be a big fan of the book, and would encourage everyone to become more familiar with it.
It is officially called Liber Thesaupou Eidolon Sub Figura DCCCCLXIII, and except for Crowley's prefatory note, is written by Captain (later General) J.F.C. Fuller, an important member of Crowley's inner circle. It was originally published in Equinox I:3 as Class A-B, with the note being the Class A part.
It is referred to as "the Book of the Meditations on the Twelvefold Adoration, and the Unity of GOD." The Twelvefold Adoration may be seen as the Zodiac, and with the Unity making thirteen, thirteen is the dominant theme of the work. This may be seen in the thirteen principle chapters of thirteen verses each, the chapter following these which has 169 (or 13 x 13) verses, by the magic square of thirteen which opens the work, and by the numeration 963, which is Achad, Unity, spelled in full (A [ALPh = 111] + Ch [ChITh = 418] + D [DLTh = 434] = 963), while Achad spelled out simply is 13.
Most of the chapters are devotional poems corresponding to the Zodiac. They all follow a set pattern. In the chapter devoted to Aries, for example, "The Twelvefold Affirmation of God and the Unity thereof," the first verse also corresponds to Aries ("Thou snow-clad volcan of scarlet fire"), the second to Taurus, and so on around the Zodiac through verse twelve and Pisces ("my joy is but as a raindrop smitten through by an arrow of the Westerns Sun"). Careful reading will reveal that the verses define each sign by each of the signs themselves. By understanding Aries of Aries, Taurus of Aries, etc., we come to understand Aries more fully.
The first verse of the Taurus chapter, of course, corresponds to Taurus of Taurus, working all the way around to Aries of Taurus in verse twelve. And each chapter concludes with a thirteenth verse which characterizes the unifying aspect of the sign, or the quality of the sun when seen through the sign. Similarly, the thirteenth of these chapters consists of thirteen devotions to the Unity.
It is true that the verses are of uneven quality. Some of the imagery and phrases are repeated, and it is far more flowery than we are accustomed to these days. But it seems to me that Fuller was perceiving the energies of this 169-fold pattern directly, and used the verses as a way of communicating this insight. When I consider them this way, they often seem to possess great power. For instance, verse 8 of the Cancer chapter:
O Thou Sovran Surging of wild felicity, whose love is as the overflowing of the seas, and who makest our bodies to laugh with beauty. I know Thee! O Thou outrider of the sunset, who deckest the snow-capped mountains with red roses, and strewest white violets on the curling waves.
Or this, from verse 2 of Pisces:
O how can I cleave the shield of Thy might as a little wanton child may burst a floating bubble with the breast-feather of a dove?
It is perhaps an acquired taste. But I would say that it's a taste worth acquiring, for the glimpse it provides of a unique and penetrating devotion as well as for the insight that it can provide to the Zodiac.
Besides the chapters already mentioned, "The Perception of God that is revealed unto man for a snare" is a strange erotic construction of the Spheres of the Tree of Life at the beginning of the book. And at the end, "The Unconsciousness of God that is hidden from man for a sign" is an exploration of the mystical identity.
There is a brief instruction on the title page: "The Probationer should learn by heart the chapter corresponding to the Zodiacal Sign that was rising at his birth; or, if this be unknown, the chapter 'The Twelvefold Unification of God'." The Class A note continues in more detail.
Now this practice reminds me of the Golden Dawn doctrine of the Tree of Life projected on a sphere. In brief, they held that we can come to see that we are in the Tiphareth of a spherical Tree of Life that encompasses the entire solar system. This Tiphareth is at the level of the ecliptic. At our birth, we are facing the same direction in this celestial sphere as the position of the sun. And we don't recognize it, but we remain facing that direction for our entire lives, even though the sun continues to move. I also think (although I can't find the source for it right now) that the Golden Dawn taught that there was a star on the horizon of your birth that is the star that you are, and on which your vision is fixed.
This would seem to be the ancestor of the Liber 963 practice. One possible difference was that the Golden Dawn used a sidereal system of astrology, using the star Regulus as 0 degrees Leo. This enables the Zodiac signs to line up neatly with the constellations, unlike our more familiar tropical system, which is out-of-synch with the constellations by nearly a full sign. In later years, Cyril Fagan published persuasive evidence that the sidereal system used by all the great astrological civilizations (before Greco-Roman times) held the star Spica to denote 29 degrees Virgo. This also lines up the constellations, but about 5 degrees off from the Golden Dawn system.
As an illustration, my ascendant in tropical terms is 27 degrees 17 minutes Pisces. This would mean that I would memorize the Pisces chapter of Liber 963 (and I have, a couple of times, but forgotten it soon after). Then I would determine my star, which, as I see from a cursory glance through a couple of star charts, might have been Azelfafage, or Pi Cygni. If I became confident that this was indeed the star, I could then greet myself as I rose over the horizon, reciting, rocking, spinning, and leaping.
Most people have a different rising sign according to the Golden Dawn system, and so have to consider a different chapter of Liber 963. In my own case, since I'm so late in the sign of Pisces tropically, I'm still a Pisces rising in the Golden Dawn system. So I'll just stick to my one chapter, thank you very much.
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