Magick in Theory and Practice

CHAPTER VII
THE FORMULA OF THE HOLY GRAAL:
OF ABRAHADABRA:
and of certain other Words.
Also: THE MAGICAL MEMORY.

The Hieroglyph shewn in the Seventh Key of the Tarot (described in the 12th Aethyr, Liber 418, Equinox I, V) is the Charioteer of OUR LADY BABALON, whose Cup or Graal he hears.

Now this is an important formula. It is the First of the Formulae, in a sense, for it is the formula of Renunciation.

There is no moral implication here. But to choose A implies to refuse not-A: at least, that is so, below the Abyss.

It is also the Last!

This Cup is said to be full of the Blood of the Saints; that is, every "saint" or magician must give the last drop of his life's blood to that cup. It is the original price paid for magick power. And if by magick power we mean the true power, the assimilation of all force with the Ultimate Light, the true Bridal of the Rosy Cross, then is that blood the offering of Virginity, the sole sacrifice well-pleasing to the Master, the sacrifice whose only reward is the pain of child-bearing unto him.

But "to sell one's soul to the devil", to renounce no matter what for an equivalent in personal gain,

"Supposed" personal gain. There is really no person to gain; so the whole transaction is a swindle on both sides.

is black magic. You are no longer a noble giver of your all, but a mean huckster.

This formula is, however, a little different in symbolism, since it is a Woman whose Cup must be filled. It is rather the sacrifice of the Man, who transfers life to his descendants. For a woman does not carry in herself the principle of new life, except temporarily, when it is given her. But here the formula implies much more even than this. For it is his whole life that the Magus offers to OUR LADY. The Cross is both Death and Generation, and it is on the Cross that the Rose blooms. The full significance of these symbols is so lofty that it is hardly fitted for an elementary treatise of this type. One must be an Exempt Adept, and have become ready to pass on, before one can see the symbols even from the lower plane. Only a Master of the Temple can fully understand them.

(However, the reader may study Liber CLVI, in Equinox I, VI, the 12th and 2nd Aethyrs in Liber 418 in Equinox I, V, and the Symbolism of the V and VI in O.T.O.)

Of the preservation of this blood which OUR LADY offers to the ANCIENT ONE, CHAOS

CHAOS is a general name for the totality of the Units of Existence; it is thus a name feminine in form. Each unit of CHAOS is itself All-Father.
the All-Father, to revive him, and of how his divine Essence fills the Daughter (the soul of Man) and places her upon the Throne of the Mother, fulfilling the Economy of the Universe, and thus ultimately rewarding the Magician (the Son) ten thousandfold, it would be still more improper to speak in this place. So holy a mystery is the Arcanum of the Masters of the Temple, that it is here hinted at in order to blind the presumptuous who may, unworthy, seek to lift the veil, and at the same time to lighten the darkness of such as may be requiring only one ray of the Sun in order to spring into life and light.

II

ABRAHADABRA is a word to be studied in Equinox I, V., "The Temple of Solomon the King". It represents the Great Work complete, and it is therefore an archetype of all lesser magical operations. It is in a way too perfect to be applied in advance to any of them. But an example of such an operation may be studied in Equinox I, VII, "The Temple of Solomon the King", where an invocation of Horus on this formula is given in full. Note the reverberation of the ideas one against another. The formula of Horus has not yet been so fully worked out in details as to justify a treatise upon its exoteric theory and practice; but one may say that it is, to the formula of Osiris, what the turbine is to the reciprocating engine.

III

There are many other sacred words which enshrine formulae of great efficacity in particular operations.

For example, V.I.T.R.I.O.L. gives a certain Regimen of the Planets useful in Alchemical work. Ararita is a formula of the macrocosm potent in certain very lofty Operations of the Magick of the Inmost Light. (See Liber 813.)

The formula of Thelema may be summarized thus: Theta "Babalon and the Beast conjoined" — epsilon unto Nuith (CCXX, I, 51) — lambda The Work accomplished in Justice — eta The Holy Graal — mu The Water therein — alpha The Babe in the Egg (Harpocrates on the Lotus.)

That of "Agape" is as follows:

Dionysus (Capital Alpha) — The Virgin Earth gamma — The Babe in the Egg (small alpha — the image of the Father) — The Massacre of the Innocents, pi (winepress) — The Draught of Ecstasy, eta.

The student will find it well worth his while to seek out these ideas in detail, and develop the technique of their application.

There is also the Gnostic Name of the Seven Vowels, which gives a musical formula most puissant in evocations of the Soul of Nature. There is moreover ABRAXAS; there is XNOUBIS; there is MEITHRAS; and indeed it may briefly be stated that every true name of God gives the formula of the invocation of that God.

Members of the IV Degree of the O.T.O. are well aware of a Magick Word whose analysis contains all truth, human and Divine, a word indeed potent for any group which dares to use it.
It would therefore be impossible, even were it desirable, to analyse all such names. The general method of doing so has been given, and the magician must himself work out his own formula for particular cases.

The Holy Qabalah (see Liber D in Equinox I, VIII, Supplement, and Liber 777) affords the means of analysis and application required. See also Equinox I, V, "The Temple of Solomon The King".

IV.

It should also be remarked that every grade has its peculiar magical formula. Thus, the formula of Abrahadabra concerns us, as men, principally because each of us represents the pentagram or microcosm; and our equilibration must therefore be with the hexagram or macrocosm. In other words, 5 = 6 is the formula of the Solar operation; but then 6 = 5 is the formula of the Martial operation, and this reversal of the figures implies a very different Work. In the former instance the problem was to dissolve the microcosm in the macrocosm; but this other problem is to separate a particular force from the macrocosm, just as a savage might hew out a flint axe from the deposits in a chalk cliff. Similarly, an operation of Jupiter will be of the nature of the equilibration of him with Venus. Its graphic formula will be 7 Degree = 4Square, and there will be a word in which the character of this operation is described, just as Abrahadabra describes the Operation of the Great Work.

It may be stated without unfairness, as a rough general principle, that the farther from original equality are the two sides of the equation, the more difficult is the operation to perform.

Thus, to take the case of the personal operation symbolized by the grades, it is harder to become a Neophyte, 1=10, than to pass from that grade to Zelator, 2=9.

Initiation is, therefore, progressively easier, in a certain sense, after the first step is taken. But (especially after the passing of Tiphareth) the distance between grade and grade increases as it were by a geometrical progression with an enormously high factor, which itself progresses.

A suggestion has recently been made that the Hierarchy of the Grades should be "destroyed, and replaced by" — a ring system of 13 grades all equal. There is, of course, one sense in which every grade is a Thing-in-Itself. But the Hierarchy is only a convenient method of classifying observed facts. One is reminded of the Democracy, who, on being informed by the Minister of the Interior that the scarcity of provisions was due to the Law of Supply and Demand, passed a unanimous resolution calling for the immediate repeal of that iniquitous measure!

Every person, whatever his grade in the Order, has also a "natural" grade appropriate to his intrinsic virtue. He may expect to be "cast out" into that grade when he becomes 8=3. Thus one man, throughout his career, may be essentially of the type of Netzach; another, of Hod. In the same way Rembrandt and Raphael retained their respective points of view in all stages of their art. The practical consideration is that some aspirants may find it unusually difficult to attain certain grades; or, worse, allow their inherent predispositions to influence them to neglect antipathetic, and indulge sympathetic, types of work. They may thus become more unbalanced than ever, with disastrous results. Success in one's favourite pursuit is a temptress; whose yields to her wiles limits his own growth. True, every Will is partial; but, even so, it can only fulfill itself by symmetrical expansion. It must be adjusted to the Universe, or fail of perfection.

It is evidently impossible to give details of all these formulae. Before beginning any operation soever the magician must make a through Qabalistic study of it so as to work out its theory in symmetry of perfection. Preparedness in Magick is as important as it is in War.

V

It should be profitable to make a somewhat detailed study of the strange-looking word AUMGN, for its analysis affords an excellent illustration of the principles on which the Practicus may construct his own Sacred Words.

This word has been uttered by the MASTER THERION himself, as a means of declaring his own personal work as the Beast, the Logos of the Aeon. To understand it, we must make a preliminary consideration of the word which it replaces and from which it was developed: the word AUM.

The word AUM is the sacred Hindu mantra which was the supreme hieroglyph of Truth, a compendium of the Sacred Knowledge. Many volumes have been written with regard to it; but, for our present purpose, it will be necessary only to explain how it came to serve for the representation of the principal philosophical tenets of the Rishis.

Firstly, it represents the complete course of sound. It is pronounced by forcing the breath from the back of the throat with the mouth wide open, through the buccal cavity with the lips so shaped as to modify the sound from A to O (or U), to the closed lips, when it becomes M. Symbolically, this announces the course of Nature as proceeding from free and formless creation through controlled and formed preservation to the silence of destruction. The three sounds are harmonized into one; and thus the word represents the Hindu Trinity of Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva; and the operations in the Universe of their triune energy. It is thus the formula of a Manvantara, or period of manifested existence, which alternates with a Pralaya, during which creation is latent.

Analysed Qabalistically, the word is found to possess similar properties. A is the negative, and also the unity which concentrates it into a positive form. A is the Holy Spirit who begets God in flesh upon the Virgin, according to the formula familiar to students of "The Golden Bough". A is also the "babe in the Egg" thus produced. The quality of A is thus bisexual. It is the original being — Zeus Arrhenothelus, Bacchus Diphues, or Baphomet.

U or V is the manifested son himself. Its number is 6. It refers therefore, to the dual nature of the Logos as divine and human; the interlacing of the upright and averse triangles in the hexagram. It is the first number of the Sun, whose last number

The Sun being 6, a square 6x6 contains 36 squares. We arrange the numbers from 1 to 36 in this square, so that each line, file, and diagonal adds to the same number. This number is 111; the total of all is 666.
is 666, "the number of a man".

The letter M exhibits the termination of this process. It is the Hanged Man of the Tarot; the formation of the individual from the absolute is closed by his death.

We see accordingly how AUM is, on either system, the expression of a dogma which implies catastrophe in nature. It is cognate with the formula of the Slain God. The "resurrection" and "ascension" are not implied in it. They are later inventions without basis in necessity; they may be described indeed as Freudian phantasms conjured up by the fear of facing reality. To the Hindu, indeed, they are still less respectable. in his view, existence is essentially objectionable

Thelemites agree that manifested existence implies Imperfection. But they understand why Perfection devises this disguise. The Theory is developed fully in Liber Aleph, and in Part IV of this Book 4. See also Cap V Paragraph on Digamma final of Digamma-Iota-Alpha-Omicron-Digamma.
; and his principle concern is to invoke Shiva

The Vaishnava theory, superficially opposed to this, turns out on analysis to be practically identical.
to destroy the illusion whose thrall is the curse of the Manvantara.

The cardinal revelation of the Great Aeon of Horus is that this formula AUM does not represent the facts of nature. The point of view is based upon misapprehension of the character of existence. It soon became obvious to The Master Therion that AUM was an inadequate and misleading hieroglyph. It stated only part of the truth, and it implied a fundamental falsehood. He consequently determined to modify the word in such a manner as to fit it to represent the Arcana unveiled by the Aeon of which He had attained to be the Logos.

The essential task was to emphasize the fact that nature is not catastrophic, but proceeds by means of undulations. It might be suggested that Manvantara and Pralaya are in reality complementary curves; but the Hindu doctrine insists strongly on denying continuity to the successive phases. It was nevertheless important to avoid disturbing the Trinitarian arrangement of the word, as would be done by the addition of other letters. It was equally desirable to make it clear that the letter M represents an operation which does not actually occur in nature except as the withdrawal of phenomena into the absolute; which process, even when so understood, is not a true destruction, but, on the contrary, the emancipation of anything from the modifications which it had mistaken for itself. It occurred to him that the true nature of Silence was to permit the uninterrupted vibration of the undulatory energy, free from the false conceptions attached to it by the Ahamkara or Ego-making facility, whose assumption that conscious individuality constitutes existence let it to consider its own apparently catastrophic character as pertaining to the order of nature.

The undulatory formula of putrefaction is represented in the Qabalah by the letter N, which refers to Scorpio, whose triune nature combines the Eagle, Snake and Scorpion. These hieroglyphs themselves indicate the spiritual formulae of incarnation. He was also anxious to use the letter G, another triune formula expressive of the aspects of the moon, which further declares the nature of human existence in the following manner. The moon is in itself a dark orb; but an appearance of light is communicated to it by the sun; and it is exactly in this way that successive incarnations create the appearance, just as the individual star, which every man is, remains itself, irrespective of whether earth perceives it or not.

Now it so happens that the root GN signifies both knowledge and generation combined in a single idea, in an absolute form independent of personality. The G is a silent letter, as in our word Gnosis; and the sound GN is nasal, suggesting therefore the breath of life as opposed to that of speech. Impelled by these considerations, the Master Therion proposed to replace the M of AUM by a compound letter MGN, symbolizing thereby the subtle transformation of the apparent silence and death which terminates the manifested life of Vau by a continuous vibration of an impersonal energy of the nature of generation and knowledge, the Virgin Moon and the Serpent furthermore operating to include in the idea a commemoration of the legend so grossly deformed in the Hebrew legend of the Garden of Eden, and its even more malignantly debased falsification in that bitterly sectarian broadside, the Apocalypse.

Sound work invariable vindicates itself by furnishing confirmatory corollaries not contemplated by the Qabalist. In the present instance, the Master Therion was delighted to remark that his compound letter MGN, constructed on theoretical principles with the idea of incorporating the new knowledge of the Aeon, had the value of 93 (M = 40, G = 3, N = 50). 93 is the number of the word of the Law — Thelema — Will, and of Agape — Love, which indicates the nature of Will. It is furthermore the number of the Word which overcomes death, as members of the degree of M M of the O.T.O. are well aware;

WEH NOTE: III Degree O.T.O., a word never to be written, published or spoken without the rite.
and it is also that of the complete formula of existence as expressed in the True Word of the Neophyte,

WEH NOTE: Another unpublished word, this time belonging to the A∴ A∴ and not to O.T.O. The two words are different, even to the number of letters. It was written down once, in a letter to Frank Bennett.
where existence is taken to import that phase of the whole which is the finite resolution of the Qabalistic Zero.

Finally, the total numeration of the Word AUMGN is 100, which, as initiates of the Sanctuary of the Gnosis of the O.T.O.

WEH NOTE: IX Degree O.T.O.
are taught, expresses the unity under the form of complete manifestation by the symbolism of pure number, being Kether by Aiq Bkr

A method of exegesis in which 1 = 10 = 100, 2 = 20 = 200, etc.
; also Malkuth multiplied by itself

10 to the 2 power = 100.
, and thus established in the phenomenal universe. But, moreover, this number 100 mysteriously indicates the Magical formula of the Universe as a reverberatory engine for the extension of Nothingness through the device of equilibrated opposites.

Koph-Pehfinal = 100 (20 + 80). HB:Koph = chi = Kappa-tau-epsilon-iota-sigma: HB:Pehfinal = phi = Phi-alpha-lambda-lambda-omicron-sigma; (by Notariqon).
It is moreover the value of the letter Qoph, which means "the back of the head", the cerebellum, where the creative or reproductive force is primarily situated. Qoph in the Tarot is "the Moon", a card suggesting illusion, yet shewing counterpartal forces operating in darkness, and the Winged Beetle or Midnight Sun in his Bark travelling through the Nadir. Its Yetziratic attribution is Pisces, symbolic of the positive and negative currents of fluidic energy, the male Ichthus or "Pesce" and the female Vesica, seeking respectively the anode and kathode. The number 100 is therefore a synthetic glyph of the subtle energies employed in creating the Illusion, or Reflection of Reality, which we call manifested existence.

The above are the principal considerations in the matter of AUMGN. They should suffice to illustrate to the student the methods employed in the construction of the hieroglyphics of Magick, and to arm him with a mantra of terrific power by virtue whereof he may apprehend the Universe, and control in himself its Karmic consequences.

VI

THE MAGICAL MEMORY.

WEH NOTE: This is not the same "Magical Memory" as that described by F. A. Yates and used by the ancient Roman orators for mnemonics.

I

There is no more important task than the exploration of one's previous incarnations.

It has been objected to reincarnation that the population of this planet has been increasing rapidly. Where do the new souls come from? It is not necessary to invent theories about other planets; it is enough to say that the earth is passing through a period when human units are being built up from the elements with increased frequency. The evidence for this theory springs to the eye: in what other age was there such puerility, such lack of race-experience, such reliance upon incoherent formulas? (Contrast the infantile emotionalism and credulity of the average "well-educated" Anglo-Saxon with the shrewd common sense of the normal illiterate peasant.) A large proportion of mankind today is composed of "souls" who are living the human life for the first time. Note especially the incredible spread of congenital homosexuality and other sexual deficiencies in many forms. These are the people who have not understood, accepted, and used even the Formula of Osiris. Kin to them are the "once-born" of William James, who are incapable of philosophy, magick, or even religion, but seek instinctively a refuge from the horror of contemplating Nature, which they do not comprehend, in soothing-syrup affirmations such as those of Christian Science, Spiritualism, and all the sham 'occult' creeds, as well as the emasculated forms of so-called Christianity.
As Zoroaster says: "Explore the river of the soul; whence and in what order thou has come." One cannot do one's True Will intelligently unless one knows what it is. Liber Thisarb, Equinox I, VII, give instructions for determining this by calculating the resultant of the forces which have made one what one is. But this practice is confined to one's present incarnation.

If one were to wake up in a boat on a strange river, it would be rash to conclude that the direction of the one reach visible was that of the whole stream. It would help very much if one remembered the bearings of previous reaches traversed before one's nap. It would further relieve one's anxiety when one became aware that a uniform and constant force was the single determinant of all the findings of the stream: gravitation. We could rejoice "that even the weariest river winds somewhere safe to sea."

Liber Thisarb describes a method of obtaining the Magical Memory by learning to remember backwards. But the careful practice of Dharana is perhaps more generally useful. As one prevents the more accessible thoughts from arising, we strike deeper strata — memories of childhood reawaken. Still deeper lies a class of thoughts whose origin puzzles us. Some of these apparently belong to former incarnations. By cultivating these departments of one's mind we can develop them; we become expert; we form an organized coherence of these originally disconnected elements; the faculty grows with astonishing rapidity, once the knack of the business is mastered.

It is much easier (for obvious reasons) to acquire the Magical Memory when one has been sworn for many lives to reincarnate immediately. The great obstacle is the phenomenon called Freudian forgetfulness; that is to say, that, though an unpleasant event may be recorded faithfully enough by the mechanism of the brain, we fail to recall it, or recall it wrong, because it is painful. "The Psychopathology of Everyday Life" analyses and illustrates this phenomenon in detail. Now, the King of Terrors being Death, it is hard indeed to look it in the face. Mankind has created a host of phantastic masks; people talk of "going to heaven", "passing over", and so on; banners flaunted from pasteboard towers of baseless theories. One instinctively flinches from remembering one's last, as one does from imagining one's next, death.

This later is a very valuable practice to perform. See Liber HHH; also read up the Buddhist meditations of the Ten Impurities. {WEH NOTE ADENDA: Right, but it scares the dickens out of you! When I succeeded in the practice in my teens, I panicked out of using the related abilities for several years. This was without benefit of initiation.}
The point of view of the initiate helps one immensely.

As soon as one has passed this Pons Asinorum, the practice becomes much easier. It is much less trouble to reach the life before the last; familiarity with death breeds contempt for it.

It is a very great assistance to the beginner if he happens to have some intellectual grounds for identifying himself with some definite person in the immediate past. A brief account of Aleister Crowley's good fortune in this matter should be instructive. It will be seen that the points of contact vary greatly in character. 1. The date of Eliphas Levi's death was about six months previous to that of Aleister Crowley's birth. The reincarnating ego is supposed to take possession of the foetus at about this stage of development.

2. Eliphas Levi had a striking personal resemblance to Aleister Crowley's father. This of course merely suggests a certain degree of suitability from a physical point of view.

3. Aleister Crowley wrote a play called "The Fatal Force" at a time when he had not read any of Eliphas Levi's works. The motive of this play is a Magical Operation of a very peculiar kind. The formula which Aleister Crowley supposed to be his original idea is mentioned by Levi. We have not been able to trace it anywhere else with such exact correspondence in every detail.

4. Aleister Crowley found a certain quarter of Paris incomprehensibly familiar and attractive to him. This was not the ordinary phenomenon of the "deja vu", it was chiefly a sense of being at home again. He discovered long after that Levi had lived in the neighbourhood for many years.

5. There are many curious similarities between the events of Eliphas Levi's life and that of Aleister Crowley. The intention of the parents that their son should have a religious career; the inability to make use of very remarkable talents in any regular way; the inexplicable ostracism which afflicted him, and whose authors seemed somehow to be ashamed of themselves; the events relative to marriage:

Levi, on her deliberately abandoning him, withdrew his protection from his wife; she lost her beauty and intelligence, and became the prey of an aged and hideous pithecoid. Aleister Crowley's wife insisted upon doing her own will, as she defined it; this compelled him to stand aside. What happened to Mme. Constant happened to her, although in a more violent and disastrous form.
all these offer surprisingly close parallels.

6. The characters of the two men present subtle identities in many points. Both seem to be constantly trying to reconcile insuperable antagonisms. Both find it hard to destroy the delusion that men's fixed beliefs and customs may be radically altered by a few friendly explanations. Both show a curious fondness for out-the-way learning, preferring recondite sources of knowledge they adopt eccentric appearances. Both inspire what can only be called panic fear in absolute strangers, who can give no reason whatever for a repulsion which sometimes almost amounts to temporary insanity. The ruling passion in each case is that of helping humanity. Both show quixotic disregard of their personal prosperity, and even comfort, yet both display love of luxury and splendour. Both have the pride of Satan.

7. When Aleister Crowley became Frater Omicron-Upsilon Mu-Eta and had to write his thesis for the grade of Adeptus Exemptus, he had already collected his ideas when Levi's "Clef des Grands Mysteres" fell into his hands. It was remarkable that he, having admired Levi for many years, and even begun to suspect the identity, had not troubled (although an extravagant buyer of books) to get this particular work. He found, to his astonishment, that almost everything that he had himself intended to say was there written. The result of this was that he abandoned writing his original work, and instead translated the masterpiece in question.

8. The style of the two men is strikingly similar in numerous subtle and deep-seated ways. The general point of view is almost identical. The quality of the irony is the same. Both take a perverse pleasure in playing practical jokes on the reader. In one point, above all, the identity is absolute — there is no third name in literature which can be put in the same class. The point is this: In a single sentence is combined sublimity and enthusiasm with sneering bitterness, scepticism, grossness and scorn. It is evidently the supreme enjoyment to strike a chord composed of as many conflicting elements as possible. The pleasure seems to be derived from gratifying the sense of power, the power to compel every possible element of thought to contribute to the spasm.

If the theory of reincarnation were generally accepted, the above considerations would make out a strong case. FRATER PERDURABO was quite convinced in one part of his mind of this identity, long before he got any actual memories as such.

Long since writing the above, the publication of the biography of Eliphas Levi by M. Paul Chacornat has confirmed the hypothesis in innumerable striking ways.

II

Unless one has a groundwork of this sort to start with, one must get back to one's life as best one can by the methods above indicated. It may be of some assistance to give a few characteristics of genuine Magical Memory; to mention a few sources of error, and to lay down critical rules for the verification of one's results.

The first great danger arises from vanity. One should always beware of "remembering" that one was Cleopatra or Shakespeare.

Again, superficial resemblances are usually misleading.

One of the great tests of the genuineness of any recollection is that one remembers the really important things in one's life, not those which mankind commonly classes as such. For instance, Aleister Crowley does not remember any of the decisive events in the life of Eliphas Levi. He recalls intimate trivialities of childhood. He has a vivid recollection of certain spiritual crises; in particular, one which was fought out as he paced up and down a lonely stretch of road in a flat and desolate district. He remembers ridiculous incidents, such as often happen at suppers when the conversation takes a turn such that its gaiety somehow strikes to the soul, and one receives a supreme revelation which is yet perfectly inarticulate. He has forgotten his marriage and its tragic results,

It is perhaps significant that although the name of the woman has been familiar to him since 1898, he has never been able to commit it to memory.
although the plagiarism which Fate has been shameless enough to perpetrate in this present life, would naturally, one might think, reopen the wound.

There is a sense which assures us intuitively when we are running on a scent breast high. There is an "oddness" about the memory which is somehow annoying. It gives a feeling of shame and guiltiness. There is a tendency to blush. One feels like a schoolboy caught red-handed in the act of writing poetry. There is the same sort of feeling as one has when one finds a faded photograph or a lock of hair twenty years old among the rubbish in some forgotten cabinet. This feeling is independent of the question whether the thing remembered was in itself a source of pleasure or of pain. Can it be that we resent the idea of our "previous condition of servitude"? We want to forget the past, however good reason we may have to be proud of it. It is well known that many men are embarrassed in the presence of a monkey.

When the "loss of face" does not occur, distrust the accuracy of the item which you recall, The only reliable recollections which present themselves with serenity are invariably connected with what men call disasters. Instead of the feeling of being caught in the slips, one has that of being missed at the wicket. One has the sly satisfaction of having done an outrageously foolish thing and got off scot free. When one sees life in perspective, it is an immense relief to discover that things like bankruptcy, wedlock, and the gallows made no particular difference. They were only accidents such as might happen to anybody; they had no real bearing on the point at issue. One consequently remembers having one's ears cropped as a lucky escape, while the causal jest of a drunken skeinsmate in an all-night cafe stings one with the shame of the parvenu to whom a polite stranger has unsuspectingly mentioned "Mine Uncle".

The testimony of intuitions is, however, strictly subjective, and shrieks for collateral security. It would be a great error to ask too much. In consequence of the peculiar character of the recollections which are under the microscope, anything in the shape of gross confirmation almost presumes perjury. A pathologist would arouse suspicion if he said that his bacilli had arranged themselves on the slide so as to spell Staphylococcus. We distrust an arrangement of flowers which tells us that "Life is worth living in Detroit, Michigan". Suppose that Aleister Crowley remembers that he was Sir Edward Kelly. It does not follow that he will be able to give us details of Cracow in the time of James I of England. Material events are the words of an arbitrary language; the symbols of a cipher previously agreed on. What happened to Kelly in Cracow may have meant something to him, but there is no reason to presume that it has any meaning for his successor. There is an obvious line of criticism about any recollection. It must not clash with ascertained facts. For example — one cannot have two lives which overlap, unless there is reason to suppose that the earlier died spiritually before his body ceased to breathe. This might happen in certain cases, such as insanity.

It is not conclusive against a previous incarnation that the present should be inferior to the past. One's life may represent the full possibilities of a certain partial Karma. One may have devoted one's incarnation to discharging the liabilities of one part of one's previous character. For instance, one might devote a lifetime to settling the bill run up by Napoleon for causing unnecessary suffering, with the object of starting afresh, clear of debt, in a life devoted to reaping the reward of the Corsican's invaluable services to the race.

The Master Therion, in fact, remembers several incarnations of almost uncompensated wretchedness, anguish and humiliation, voluntarily undertaken so that he might resume his work unhampered by spiritual creditors.

These are the stigmata. Memory is hall-marked by its correspondence with the facts actually observed in the present. This correspondence may be of two kinds. It is rare (and it is unimportant for the reasons stated above) that one's memory should be confirmed by what may be called, contemptuously, external evidence. It was indeed a reliable contribution to psychology to remark that an evil and adulterous generation sought for a sign.

(Even so, the permanent value of the observation is to trace the genealogy of the Pharisee — from Caiaphas to the modern Christian.)

Signs mislead, from "Painless Dentistry" upwards. The fact that anything is intelligible proves that it is addressed to the wrong quarter, because the very existence of language presupposes impotence to communicate directly. When Walter Raleigh flung his cloak upon the muddy road, he merely expressed, in a cipher contrived by a combination of circumstances, his otherwise inexpressible wish to get on good terms with Queen Elizabeth. The significance of his action was determined by the concourse of circumstances. The reality can have no reason for reproducing itself exclusively in that especial form. It can have no reason for remembering that so extravagant a ritual happened to be necessary to worship. Therefore, however well a man might remember his incarnation as Julius Caesar, there is no necessity for his representing his power to set all upon the hazard of a die by imagining the Rubicon. Any spiritual state can be symbolized by an infinite variety of actions in an infinite variety of circumstances. One should recollect only those events which happen to be immediately linked with one's peculiar tendencies to imagine one thing rather than another.

The exception is when some whimsical circumstance ties a knot in the corner of one's mnemonic handkerchief.
Genuine recollections almost invariably explain oneself to oneself. Suppose, for example, that you feel an instinctive aversion to some particular kind of wine. Try as you will, you can find no reason for your idiosyncrasy. Suppose, then, that when you explore some previous incarnation, you remember that you died by a poison administered in a wine of that character, your aversion is explained by the proverb, "A burnt child dreads the fire." It may be objected that in such a case your libido has created a phantasm of itself in the manner which Freud has explained. The criticism is just, but its value is reduced if it should happen that you were not aware of its existence until your Magical Memory attracted your attention to it. In fact, the essence of the test consists in this: that your memory notifies you of something which is the logical conclusion of the premisses postulated by the past.

As an example, we may cite certain memories of the Master Therion. He followed a train of thought which led him to remember his life as a Roman named Marius de Aquila. It would be straining probability to presume a connection between (alpha) this hieroglyphically recorded mode of self-analysis and (beta) ordinary introspection conducted on principles intelligible to himself. He remembers directly various people and various events connected with this incarnation; and they are in themselves to all appearance actual. There is no particular reason why they, rather than any others, should have entered his sphere. In the act of remembering them, they are absolute. He can find no reason for correlating them with anything in the present. But a subsequent examination of the record shows that the logical result of the Work of Marius de Aquila did not occur to that romantic reprobate; in point of fact, he died before anything could happen. Can we suppose that any cause can be baulked of effect? The Universe is unanimous in rebuttal. If then the exact effects which might be expected to result from these causes are manifested in the career of the Master Therion, it is assuredly the easiest and most reasonable explanation to assume an identity between the two men. Nobody is shocked to observe that the ambition of Napoleon has diminished the average stature of Frenchmen. We know that somehow or other every force must find its fulfilment; and those people who have grasped the fact that external events are merely symptoms of external ideas, cannot find any difficulty in attributing the correspondences of the one to the identities of the other. Far be it from any apologist for Magick to insist upon the objective validity of these concatenations! It would be childish to cling to the belief that Marius de Aquila actually existed; it matters no more that it matters to the mathematician whether the use of the symbol X to the 22 power involves the "reality" of 22 dimension of space. The Master Therion does not care a scrap of yesterday's newspaper whether he was Marius de Aquila, or whether there ever was such a person, or whether the Universe itself is anything more than a nightmare created by his own imprudence in the matter of rum and water. His memory of Marius de Aquila, of the adventures of that person in Rome and the Black Forest, matters nothing, either to him or to anybody else. What matters is this: True or false, he has found a symbolic form which has enabled him to govern himself to the best advantage. "Quantum nobis prodest hec fabula Christi!" The "falsity" of Aesop's Fables does not diminish their value to mankind.

The above reduction of the Magical Memory to a device for externalizing one's interior wisdom need not be regarded as sceptical, save only in the last resort. No scientific hypothesis can adduce stronger evidence of its validity than the confirmation of its predictions by experimental evidence. The objective can always be expressed in subjective symbols if necessary. The controversy is ultimately unmeaning. However we interpret the evidence, its relative truth depends in its internal coherence. We may therefore say that any magical recollection is genuine if it gives the explanation of our external or internal conditions. Anything which throws light upon the Universe, anything which reveals us to ourselves, should be welcome in this world of riddles.

As our record extends into the past, the evidence of its truth is cumulative. Every incarnation that we remember must increase our comprehension of ourselves as we are. Each accession of knowledge must indicate with unmistakable accuracy the solution of some enigma which is propounded by the Sphynx of our own unknown birth-city, Thebes. The complicated situation in which we find ourselves is composed of elements; and no element of it came out of nothing. Newton's First Law applies to every plane of thought. The theory of evolution is omniform. There is a reason for one's predisposition to gout, or the shape of one's ear, in the past. The symbolism may change; the facts do not. In one form or another, everything that exists is derived from some previous manifestation. Have it, if you will, that the memories of other incarnations are dreams; but dreams are determined by reality just as much as the events of the day. The truth is to be apprehended by the correct translation of the symbolic language. The last section of the Oath of the Master of the Temple is: "I swear to interpret every phenomenon as a particular dealing of God with my soul." The Magical Memory is (in the last analysis) one manner, and, as experience testifies, one of the most important manners, of performing this vow.

 

Book 4, Part 1 · Book 4, Part 2 · Magick In Theory and Practice (Book 4, Part 3) · Equinox of the Gods (Book 4, Part 4)

Magick – Liber ABA – Book 4

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