THE TEMPLE OF THE HOLY GHOST

1901.

III. The Holy Place

THE NEOPHYTE1

TO-NIGHT I tread the unsubstantial way

That looms before me, as the thundering night

Falls on the ocean: I must stop, and pray

One little prayer, and then — what bitter fight

Flames at the end beyond the darkling goal?

These are my passions that my feet must tread;

This is my sword, the fervour of my soul;

This is my Will, the crown upon my head.

For see! the darkness beckons: I have gone,

Before this terrible hour, towards the gloom,

Braved the wild dragon, called the tiger on

With whirling cries of pride, sought out the tomb

Where lurking vampires battened, and my steel

{196A}

Has wrought its splendour through the gates of death.

My courage did not falter: now I feel

My heart beat wave-wise, and my throat catch breath

As if I choked; some horror creeps between

The spirit of my will and its desire,

Some just reluctance to the Great Unseen

That coils its nameless terrors, and its dire

Fear round my heart; a devil cold as ice

Breathes somewhere, for I feel his shudder take

My veins: some deadlier asp or cocatrice

Slimes in my senses: I am half awake,

Half automatic, as I move along

Wrapped in a cloud of blackness deep as hell,

Hearing afar some half-forgotten song

As of disruption; yet strange glories dwell

Above my head, as if a sword of light,

Rayed of the very dawn, would strike within

{196B}

The limitations of this deadly night

That folds me for the sign of death and sin —

O Light! descend! My feet move vaguely on

In this amazing darkness, in the gloom

That I can touch with trembling sense. There shone

Once, in my misty memory, in the womb

Of some unformulated thought, the flame

And smoke of mighty pillars; yet my mind

Is clouded with the horror of this same

Path of the wise men: for my soul is blind

Yet: and the foemen I have never feared

I could not see (if such should cross the way),

And therefore I am strange: my soul is seared

With desolation of the blinding day

I have come out from: yes, that fearful light

Was not the Sun: my life has been the death,

This death may be the life: my spirit sight

Knows that at last, at least. My doubtful breath

Is breathing in a nobler air; I know,

I know it in my soul, despite of this,

The clinging darkness of the Long Ago,

Cruel as death, and closer than a kiss,

This horror of great darkness. I am come

Into this darkness to attain the light:

To gain my voice I make myself as dumb:

That I may see I close my outer sight:

So, I am here. My brows are bent in prayer;

I kneel already in the Gates of Dawn;

And I am come, albeit unaware,

To the deep sanctuary: my hope is drawn

From wells profounder than the very sea.

Yea, I am come, where least I guessed it so,

Into the very Presence of the Three

That Are beyond all Gods. And now I know

What spiritual Light is drawing me

Up to its stooping splendour. In my soul

I feel the Spring, the all-devouring Dawn,

Rush with my Rising. There, beyond the goal,

The Veil is rent!

Yes: let the veil be drawn.

{197A}

 

SIN

YE rivers, and ye elemental caves,

Above the fountains of the broken ice,

Know ye what dragon lurks within your waves?

Know ye the secret of the cockatrice?

The basilisk whose shapeless brood

Take blood and muck for food?

The sexless passion, the foul scorpion spawn?

The witches and the evil-chanting ones

Who strangle stars and suns,

Eclipse the moon, and curse against the dawn?

Know ye the haunts of death?

The hole that harboureth

The sickening breath,

Whence all disease is bred, and all corruption drawn?

 

Nay, these ye know not, or your waters cold

Would stagnate, shudder, putrefy for fear;

Your echoes hate existence, and be rolled

Into the silent, desolate, dead sphere.

For in those sightless lairs

No living spirit fares: —

Caught in a chain, linked corpses for a lure!

Shall human senses feel

Or human tongue reveal?

Nay, shall the mortal know them and endure

Whose little period

Is limited by God;

Whose poor abode

Is the mean body, prey to all distemperature?

 

Yet, mortal, in the Light and Way divine,

Gird on the armour of the Holy One:

Seek out the secret of the inmost shrine,

Strong in the might and spirit of the sun.

Arise, arise, arise,

Give passage to mine eyes,

{197B}

Ye airs, ye veils; ye bucklers of the Snake!

I knew the deepest cells,

Where the foul spirit dwells;

Called to the dead, the drowsed, arise! awake!

Their dark profoundest thought

Was less than She I sought,

It was as nought!

I drew my soul, I dived beneath the burning lake.

 

Thrice, in the vault of Hell, my Word was born,

Abortive, in the empty wilderness,

False echoes, made malicious, turn to scorn

The awful accents, the Supreme address.

The Fourth, the final word!

All chaos shrank and heard

The terror that vibrated in the breath.

Hell, Death, and Sin must hear,

Tremble and visibly fear,

Shake the intangible chain that hungereth.

That Mother of Mankind

Sprang in the thunder-wind!

The strong words bind

For evermore, Amen! the keys of Hell and Death.2

 

Central, supreme, most formidable, Night

Gathered its garments, drew itself apart;

Gaunt limbs appear athwart the coprolite

Veil of deep agony, display the heart;

Even as a gloomy sea,

Wherein dead fishes be,

Poisonous things, nameless; the eightfold Fear,

Misshapen crab and worm,

The intolerable sperm,

Lewd dragons slime-bilt. Stagnant, the foul mere

Crawled, moved, gave tongue,

The essential soul of dung

That lived and stung;

That spoke: no word that living head may hear!

{198A}

 

Even as a veil imagining Beauty's eyes

Behind, lifted, lets flash the maiden face;

So that dead putrefying sea supplies

A veil to the unfathomable Place.

Behind it grew a form,

Wrapped in its own dire storm,

Dark fires of horror about it and within,

A changing, dreadful Shape:

Now a distorted ape;

Now an impending vampire, vast and lean;

Last, a dark woman pressed

The world unto her breast,

Soothed and caressed

With evil words and kisses of the mouth of Sin.

 

The Breath of men adoring. “Worship we!

“The mighty Wisdom, the astounding power,

“The Horror, the immense profundity,

“The stealthy, secret paces of thy Bower!

“Thee we adore and praise

“Whose breast is broad as day's;

“Thee, thee, the mistress of the barren sea,

“Deep, deadly, poisonous;

“Accept the life of us,

“Dwell in our midst; yea, show thy cruelty!

“Suck out the life and breath

“From breast that quickeneth!

“Such pain is death,

“Such terror, such delight — all, all is unto thee!”

 

I too, I also, I have known thy kiss.

I also drank the milk that poisons man,

Sought to assume the impenetrable bliss

By spells profound and draughts Canidian.3

One lifted me: and, lo!

Thalassian,4 white as snow,

{198B}

The scarlet vesture and the crimson skin!

As Aphrodite clove

The foam, incarnate Love,

Maiden; as light leaps the dawn-gardens in,

So in the Love and Light,

Life slain, yet infinite,

The God-Man's night,

Leaps pure the Soul re-arisen from the embrace of Sin.

 

Yet, in the terror of that Beast, abides

So sweet and deadly a device, a lure

Deep in the blood and poison of her sides,

Swart, lean, and leprous, that her stings endure.

Even the soul of grace

Abideth not her face

Without vague longing, infinite desire,

Stronger because suppressed,

Unto the wide black breast,

The lips incarnate of blood, flesh, and fire,

So to slip down between

Thighs vast and epicene,

Morose and lean,

To that unnameable morass, the ultimate mire.

 

Wherefore behoves the Soul that leaps divine,

Even beholding, darkly in a mirror,

The face of God, to sink before His Shrine,

Weeping: O Beauty, Majesty, and Terror,

Wisdom and Mind and Soul,

Crown simplex, Mighty Whole,

Lord of the Gods! O Thou, the King of Kings!

To me a sinner, me,

Lowest of all that be,

Be merciful, O master Soul of things!

Show me thy face of ruth,

And in the way of truth

Guide my weak youth,

That stumbles while it walks, makes discord when it sings!

 

So, Mighty Mother! Pure, Eternal Spouse,

Isis, thou Star, thou Moon, thou Mightiest,

Lead my weak steps to thine Eternal House!

Rest my vain head on thine Eternal Breast!

{199A}

Spread wide the wings divine

Over this shadowy shrine,

Where in my heart their hovering lendeth Light!

Bend down the amazing Face

Of sorrow and of grace,

Share the deep vigil of thine eremite!

So let the sighing breath

Draw on the Hour of Death,

Whence wakeneth

The Spirit of the Dawn, begotten of the night.

 

THE NAME

SACRED, between the serpent fangs of pain,

Ringed by the vortex of the hurricane,

Lurks the abyss of fate: the gloomy cave,

Sullen as night, and sleepy as a wave

When tempest lowers and dare not strike, gapes wide,

Vomiting pestilence; the deadly bride

Of death, Despair, grins charnel-wise: the gate

Of Hope clangs resonant: and starless Fate

Glowers like a demon brooding over death.

Monstrous and mute, the slow resurgent breath

Spreads forth its poison: the pale child at play

Coughs in his gutter; the hard slave of day

Groans once and dies: the sickly spouse can feel

Some cold touch kill the unborn child, and steal

Up to her broken heart: the pale hours hang

Like death upon the aged: the days clang

Like prison portals on the folk of day.

Yet for the children of the night they play

Like fountains in the moonlight: for the few,

The sorrowful, sweet faces of the dew,

The laughter-loving daughters of the dawn,

Whose moving feet make tremble all the lawn

From Hesper to the break of rose and gold,

Where Heaven's petals in the East unfold

The awful flower of morning: for the folk

Bound in one single patient love, a yoke {199A}

Too light for fairy fingers to have woven,

Too strong for mere archangels to have cloven

With adamantine blades from the armoury

Of the amazing forges of the sea:

The folk that follow with undaunted mein

The utmost beauty that their eyes have seen —

O patient sufferers! yet your storm-scarred brows

Burn with the star of majesty: your vows

Have given you the wisdom and the power

To weld eternities within one hour,

To bind and braid the north wind's serpent hair,

And track the East wind to his mighty lair

Even in the caverns of the womb of dawn;

To take the South wind and his fire withdrawn

And clothe him with your kiss; to seize the West

In his gold palace where the sea-winds rest,

And hurl him ravening on the breaking foam;

To find the Spirit in his glimmering home

And draw his secret from unwilling lips;

To master earthquake, and the dread eclipse;

To dominate the red volcanic rage;

To quench the whirlpool, conquering war to wage

Against all gods not wholly made as ye,

O patient, and O marvellous! I see,

I see before me an archangel stand,

Whose flaming scimitar, a triple brand,

Quivers before him, whose vast eyebrows bend,

A million comets: for his locks extend

A million flashing terrors: on his breast

He bears a mightier cuirass: for his vest

All heaven blazes: for his brows a crown

Roars into the abyss: his mighty frown

Quells many an universe and many an age —

Yea, many eternities! His nostrils rage

With fire and fury, and his feet are shod

With all the splendours of the avenging God.

I see him and I tremble! But my hand

Still flings its gesture of supreme command

Upwards; my voice still dares to tongue the word

That hell and chaos and destruction heard {200A}

And ruined, shrieking! yea, my strong voice rolls,

That martyr-cry of many slaughtered souls,

Utterly potent both to bless and ban —

I, I command thee in the name of Man!

He trembled then. And far in thunder rolled

Through countless ages, through the infinite gold

Beyond existence, grew that master-sound

Into the rent and agonized profound,

Till even the Highest heard me: and He said,

As one who speaks alone among men dead:

“Behold, he rules as I the abyss of flame.

For lo! he knoweth, and hath said, My Name!”

 

THE EVOCATION

FROM the abyss, the horrible lone world

Of agony, more sharp than moonbeams strike

The shaken glacier, my cry is hurled,

As the avenger lightning. Swiftly whirled,

It flings in circles closing serpent-like

On the abominable devil-horde

I summon to the mastery of the sword.

In my white palace, where the flashing dawn

Leaps from the girdling bastions, where the light

Flames from the talisman as if a fawn

Glode through the thickets, where the soul, withdrawn

From every element, gleams through the night

Into that darkness papable, where They

Lurk from the torment of the light of day.

Swings the swift sword in paths of vivid blue;

Rings the sharp summons in the halls of fear;

Flames the great lamen5; as a fiery dew

Falls the keen chanted music; fierce and true

Beams the bright diamond of the crowning sphere. {200B}

None may withstand the summons: like dead flame

Flares darkness deeper, and demands its name.

Mine eyes peer deeper in the quivering gloom —

What horrors crowd upon the aching sight!

Behold! the phantom! Icy as the tomb,

His head of writhing scorpions in the womb

Of deadlier terrors: how a charnel-light

Gleams on his beetle frame! What poison drips

Of slime and blood from his disastrous lips!

What oceans of decaying water steam

For his vast essence! And a voice rolls forth

With miserable fury from that stream

Of horror: “Thou hast called me by the beam

Of glory, by the devastating wrath

Of thine accursed godhead: tell me then

My Name! Thou hardiest of the Sons of Men!”

“Thy name is — stay! thou liest! I discern

In Thee no terror that my spells evoke.

Begone, thou wandering corpse of night! return

Into thy shadowy world! My symbols burn

Against thee, shade of terror! Go!” It spoke:

“Yea! I am human. Know my actual truth:

I am that ghost, the father of thy youth!”

“Poor wandering phantom!” — the exultant yell

And wolfish howling of all damned souls

Peals from the ravening jaws and gulfs of hell:

Leaps that foul horror through the terrible

Extinguished circle of the burning bowls.

Then I remember, fling the gleaming rod

Against him: “Liar, back! For I am God!”

Back flung the baffled corpse. But through the air

Looms the more startling vision in the night; {201A}

The actual demon of my work is there!

Where is the glittering circle? Where, ah, where

The radiant bowls whose flame rose fiery bright?

I am alone in the absolute abyss;

No aid; no helper; no defence — but this!

My left hand seeks the lamen. Once again

Fearless I front the awful shape before me,

Fearless I speak his Name. My trembling brain

Vibrates that Word of Power. I cry amain:

“Down, Dweller of the Darkness, and adore me!

I am thy Master, and thy God! Behold

The Rose of Ruby and the Cross of Gold!6

“I am thy Saviour!” At the kindling word

Up springs the dawn-light in the broken bowls;

Up leaps the glittering circle. Then I heard

A hoarse shrill voice, as if some carrion bird

Shrieked, mightier than the storm that rocks and rolls

Through desolation: “Thou hast known my Name.

What is thy purpose, Master of the Flame?”

I made demand: through long appalling hours

Stayed he to tempt and try my adamant

Purpose: at last the legionary powers

Behind him sank affrayed; his visage lowers

Less menacing: his head is turned aslant

In vain: I bid him kneel and swear: the earth

Rocked with the terror of that deadlier birth.

He swore: he vanished: the wide sky resounds

With echoing thunders: through the blinding night

The stars resume their courses: at the bounds

Of the four watch-towers cry the waking hounds:

“The night is well”; slow steals the ambient light

Through all the borders of the universe

At that last lifting of my strenuous curse. {201B}

Slow steals the ambient light; white peace resumes

In planet, element, and sign, her sway.

The twisted ether shapes itself: relumes

The benediction all the faded fumes

With holier incense: in the fervid way

All nature rests: with holy calm I blend

Blessing and prayer at the appointed end.

 

THE ROSE AND THE CROSS7

OUT of the seething cauldron of my woes,

Where sweets and salt and bitterness I flung;

Where charmed music gathered from my tongue,

And where I chained strange archipelagoes

Of fallen stars; where fiery passion flows

A curious bitumen; where among

The glowing medley moved the tune unsung

Of perfect love: thence grew the Mystic Rose.

Its myriad petals of divided light;

Its leaves of the most radiant emerald;

Its heart of fire like rubies. At the sight

I lifted up my heart to God and called:

How shall I pluck this dream of my desire?

And lo! there shaped itself the Cross of Fire!

 

HAPPINESS

IT is the seasonable sun of spring

That gilds the all-rejuvenescent air —

New buds, young birds, so happy in the rare

Fresh life of earth: myself am bound to sing,

Feeling the resurrection crown me king.

I am so happy as men never were.

Of sorrow much, of suffering a share,

Leave me unmoved, or leave me conquering. {202A}

O miserable! that is should be so!

Lord Jesus, Sufferer for the sins of man,

Thou didst invite me to Thy shame and loss.

And I am happy! Pity me! Bestow

The right to work in the eternal Plan,

The right to hang on the eternal Cross!

 

THE LORD'S DAY

THE foolish bells with their discordant clang

Summon the harlot-ridden Hell to pray:

The vicar's snout is tuned, the curates bray

Long gabbled lessons, and their noisy twang

Fills the foul worshippers with hate; the fang

Of boredom crushes out the holy day,

Where whore and jobber sit and gloom, grown grey

For hating of each other; the hours hang.

But where cliffs tremble, and the wind and sea

Calmour, night thunders from the roaring West;

I worship in the storm, and fires flee

From my gripped lightnings and my burning crest;

And when my voice rolls, master of the weather,

A thousand mighty angels cry together!

BRIGHTON, January 1899.

 

CERBERUS

I STOOD within Death's gate,

And blew the horn of Hell:

Mad laughters echoing against Fate,

Harsh groans less terrible,

Howled from beneath the vault; in night the avenging thunders swell.

The guardian stood aloof,

A monster multiform.

His armour was of triple proof,

His voice out-shrilled the storm.

Behind him all the Furies whirl and all the Harpies swarm. {202B}

The first face spake and said:

“Welcome, O King, art thou!

Await thy throne a thousand dead;

A crown awaits thy brow,

A seven-sting scorpion; for thy rod thou hast a bauble now.”

The next face spake and said:

“Welcome, O Priest, to me!

Red blood shall dye thee robes of red,

Hell's cries thy litany!

Thy mitre sits, divided strength, to end thy church and thee!”

The third face spake and said:

“Welcome, O Man, to Death!

Thy little span of life is sped,

Sighed out thy little breath.

The worm that never dies is thine; the fire that lingereth!”

“Three voices has thy fame,

Their music is but one.

Fool-demon, slave of night and shame,

That canst not see the sun!

I am the Lord thy God:8 make thou homage and orison!”

The wild heads sank in fear:

Then, troubled, to those eyes

Remembrance crept of many a year,

Barred gates of Paradise.

Again the Voice rolled in the deep, mingled with murmuring sighs:

“I mind me of the day

One9 came from Death to me;

His soul was weary of the day,

His look was melancholy;

He bade me open in the Name that binds Eternity.

“Yet though he passed within

And plunged within the deep, {203A}

The seven palaces of sin,

And slept the lonely sleep,

Yet came He out alone: but then I thought I heard Them weep.

“He passed alone, above,

Out of the Gates of Night;

Angels of Purity and Love

Drew to my sound and sight.

I heard Them cry that even there He fixed the eternal Light.

“I think beneath these groans,

And laughters madness-born,

Tears fell that might dissolve the stones

That grind the accursed corn.

Beneath the deep, beneath the deep, may dwell the star of morn!

“Therefore, O God, I pray

Redemption for the folk

That dread the scourging light of day,

That bear the midnight yoke.

The Chaos was no less than this — and there the light awoke.”

“O Dog of Evil, yea!

Thou hast in wisdom said.

The glory of the living day

Shall shine among the dead.

Thy faith shall have a holier task, thy Strength a goodlier stead.”

Then I withdrew the light

Of mine own Godhead up.

As stars that close with broken night

Their adamantine cup.

I sought the solar airs: my soul on its own tears might sup.

For in the vast profound

Still burns the rescuing sign;10

Beyond all sight and sense and sound

The symbol flames divine.

For He shall make all life, all death, His solitary shrine. {203B}

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1. This poem describes the Initiation of the “true” Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn in its spiritual aspect.

2. Rev. i.18.

3. Canidia, a sorceress of Rome in the time of Horace, who attacked her.

4. From Θαλασσα, the sea. But Crowley always uses the word as exalting, idealising, personifying the idea.

5. A plate bearing the Names of God appropriate to the work in hand, with other symbols of power, worn by the exorciser upon his breast.

6. “Ave Frater!” “Rosae Rubeae.” “Et Aureae Crucis.” Greeting of Rosicrucians.

7. The symbol of the “Rose and Cross” now replaces that of the “Golden Dawn.” We may suppose from this that Crowley was about this time received into the former fraternity.

8. The assumption of the form of the God of the Force whom one addresses is the Egyptian magical spell to subdue it.

9. Ieheshua, or “Jesus.”

10. The Triangle surmounted by the Cross. This was the symbol of the “Golden Dawn.”