P A R T F I V E
I attended to the production of number five of The Equinox, but shortly after (my diary of 1911 is missing --- if, indeed, it was ever kept --- so I am uncertain of my dates) I went into Retirement, spending my time alternately between Paris and Montigny-sur-Loing on the southern edge of the Forest of Fontainebleau. It was immediately evident that I was in the right path. I had placed my body and mind entirely at the service of the Master of the Temple who had filled the vacuum of the universe caused by the annihilation of Aleister Crowley. I kept my body in perfect condition by walking almost every day to Fontainebleau and back, always choosing a new way through the forest so that by the end of the summer I knew every tree by name, as one might say. I had acquired a boundless love for that incomparable woodland, whose glorious beauty is still further hallowed by the romance which lurks in every glade. It was tame indeed in comparison with a hundred other jungles which I had known, but for all that it possesses an individual charm which endears it to me beyond any words of mine to utter. Nature herself opposed no obstacle to my wooing. The summer of 1911 was intensely hot and fine. I have always found that dry air is essential to the well-being either of my body or of my genius. Damp air seems to interfere with my insulation; my genius leaks away and leaves me empty and depressed.
This year indeed was another annus mirabilis for me. There was an almost continual outpouring of the Holy Spirit through my mind. The spring of poetry shot crystal clear from the hidden furnace of my being into the pure and brilliant air, and fell and fertilized the earth about the sacred hill. A thousand years from now men will still gather round in wonder and worship to gaze upon the gorgeous pageant of flowers that glow upon the glowing grass and to feast upon the ripe fruits that burden the two great trees which tower like pillars for a gateway to my garden --- the tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil and the Tree of Life.
Let me first enumerate the comparatively profane achievements of these few months. Firstly, "Across the Gulf". This is a prose story of some twenty thousand words. The theme is my own life in the 26th Dynasty, when I was Ankh-f-n-khonsu and brought about the Aeon of Osiris to replace that of Isis. The story must not be taken as true in the ordinary sense of the word, but as allegorical.
I wrote many lyrics, but especially "The Sevenfold Sacrament". This poem subsequently appeared in the English Review and has often been reprinted. It
is, one might say, a pendant to Aha! It is one of my finest achievements from a technical point of view and describes the actual experience of a night which I spent at Montigny. I was staying at an inn called the Vanne Rouge, on the bank of the Loing overlooking a weir. (The inn has since then become fashionable and impossible; at that time it was adorable in every way.)
In eddies of obsidian,
At my feet the river ran
Between me and the poppy-pranky
Isle, with tangled roots embanked,
Where seven sister poplars stood
Like the seven sisters of god.
Soft as silence in mine ear,
The drone and rustle of the weir
Told in bass the treble tale
Of the embowered nightingale.
Higher, on the patient river,
Velvet lights without a quiver
Echoed through their hushed rimes
The garden's glow beneath the limes.
Then the sombre village, crowned
By the castellated ground,
Where in cerements of sable,
One square tower and one great gable
Stood, the melancholy wraith
Of a false and fallen faith.
Over all, supine, enthralling,
The young moon, her faint edge falling
To the dead verge of her setting,
Saintly swam, her silver fretting
All the leaves with light. Afar
Towards the Zenith stood a star,
As of all worthiness and fitness
The luminous eternal witness.
I described how the silence stripped me of myself; how I came once more into the Abyss and was drawn thence into the most secret Temple of the Most High, and there received the seven-fold sacrament.
Nor is it given to any son of man
To hymn that sacrament, the One in Seven,
Where God and priest and worshipper,
Deacon, asperger, thurifer, chorister,
Are one as they were one ere time began,
Are one on earth as they are one in heaven;
Where the soul is given a new name,
Confirming with an oath the same,
And with celestial wine and bread
Is most delicately fed,
Yet suffereth in itself the curse
Of the infinite universe,
Having made its own confession
Of the mystery of transgression;
Where it is wedded solemnly
With the ring of space and eternity;
And where the oil, the Holiest Breath,
With its first whisper dedicateth
Its new life to a further death.
This experience lasted throughout the night, and I describe the dawn, the awakening of the world and myself to what men call reality.
The trout leap in the shingly shallows.
Soared skyward the great sun, that hallows
The pagan shrines of labour and light
As the moon consecrates the night.
Labour is corn and love is wine,
And both are blessd in the shrine;
Nor is he for priest designated.
Who partakes only in one kind.
I suited the action to the word.
There was also the poem "A Birthday", written on August 10th for Leila Waddell, who was then twenty-six. She had gone to England to fulfil an engagement as leader of the Ladies' Orchestra in The Waltz Dream. The poem describes the history of our liaison.
I wrote also two short stories. The hero of "The Woodcutter" is a forester who "chops to live and lives to chop". A silly Frenchman and his mistress are wandering through the forest. He fantastically exhorts the woodcutter to make an art of his work, while the girl amuses herself by trying to excite the old man's passions. That night there is a thunderstorm; and an English girl, who has lost her way, takes refuge in his hut. He combines the element of his thought during sleep, chops her to pieces, stacks her limbs neatly by the hut, and goes off to his regular work. A rescue party discovers him. The story ends, "They told him of a widow lady in Paris who could beat him at his own game."
I am passionately indignant that the persistent beastliness of the average mind insists that the woodcutter violated the girl. Such a suggestion completely ruins the point of the story, which is that his mind had room for no idea of any kind except chopping.
"His Secret Sin" was written on an idea given me by Neuburg. I heard afterwards it had already been used by Punch. It is admitted, of course, that this kind of plagiarism is allowable.
A prosperous English grocer is in Paris on business. He wants desperately to be "wicked", but is ashamed to inquire how these things are done. On the last day of his stay he is goaded to madness by seeing the statue of Joan of Arc astride a horse. He makes up his mind to buy an indecent photograph at least and dives into a shop, where he asks for something "tray sho". The shopman contemptuously produces albums of reproductions from the Louvre. When he strikes the Venus of Milo, he secrets it, pays half a sovereign in terror and slinks out of the shop. He keeps the photograph in his safe and brings it out at night and gloats.
His daughter is attending art classes; for a colonel and his wife have taken pity on her and tried to extricate her from her surroundings. One day she shows him some sketches one of which is the Venus of Milo herself. Her father abuses her furiously. She is "As bad as Cousin Jenny". She snatches the drawing, telling him not to touch sacred things. His secret sin has been visited on his child. She is perfectly shameless in her iniquity! And then it strikes him that no decent art class would use such a model. He blurts out, "How did you get the key of my little safe?" She understands the whole thing and walks out of the house in disgust, never to return. He, overwhelmed by the judgment of God, determines to commit suicide, after burning the accursed photograph. But he cannot summon up courage and flings the cocked pistol into the grate. It explodes; the bullet destroys one eye and cheek. But he recovers. The street boys take to calling him "Old Venus" and his guilty conscience persuades him that they have somehow heard the story.
This tale is one of the most bitter truths that I have penned. I am glad to say that it is almost the only evidence of what I felt with regard to the attitude of the English bourgeoisie towards art and sex; and, even so, my picture of the younger generation bears witness to my unshakable faith in the emancipation of my folk. Indeed, I have not wrought in vain. The young men and women of today, generally speaking, are as free from superstitions and sexual shame as I would have them. It is only a further proof of this that the "old guard" are more desperately narrow and fanatical than ever. They are trying to stop drinking, smoking, dancing and reading, by law. Intolerance is evidence of impotence.
I brought off an astounding double event in Paris, probably during August. I was at 50 rue Vavin and the idea of a dramatic poem or allegory to be
called "Adonis" came into my mind. I went out for a citron pressé at the Café do Dôme de Montparnasse, preliminary to settling down to write. The argument was almost complete in my mind and the rhythm was beginning to flow through me. But at the Dôme were sitting my old mistress, Nina Olivier, and her latest conquest, an unpleasant and cadaverous hypocrite named Hener-Skene, whom I knew slightly from 1902, when he was posing as an earnest Nietzchian. With them was sitting a charming girl named (or calling herself Fenella Lovell, a consumptive creature in gaudy and fantastic rags of brilliant colours, who earned her living partly as a model, partly as a "gypsy" fiddle and dancer.
Skene and Nina had taken advantage of her sickness and poverty to amuse themselves by whipping and otherwise ill-treating her. It was not honest sadism on Skene's part; it was a pose. He thought it very glorious to be a character in Krafft-Ebing. They asked me to drink and introduced me to Fenella. Her pathetic beauty set me suddenly aflame with an idea to make her the heroine of a little play. My mind was swept clean of "Adonis". Then minutes later I was back in my room, furiously at work on "The Ghouls".
The Ghouls is possibly the most ghastly death-dance in English literature. If Oscar Wilde had written it (but he could not have) everyone would know it. It is the very pith and marrow of terror. Cynical it may be, but I defy the lord of dreams to send any more plutonian nightmare to haunt our mortal sleep.
This criticism (from the Poetry Review) fills me with honest pride.
I finished the play during the night and instantly picked up the idea of "Adonis", which by an unparalleled tour de force I had kept intact at the back of my mind. I finished this play also straight off. The most remarkable point of this most remarkable achievement is that no two plays could have been more dissimilar, either in theme or style. "The Ghouls" is prose, save for one short song, and ranges from the loftiest sublimity to dialect and slang. "Adonis" is poetry, mystic, sensuous and comic by turn; much of it written in the elaborate and exquisite method of closely woven rimes which I myself invented.
Later in the summer, I set to work on a really large idea, a play of Old Venice in five acts. I kept my two main principles of composition; the use of colour and form to distinguish my characters and compose a visible symphony.
The Doge has white hair, and is seventy years of age.
Mortadello has hair died dark auburn, and forty years of age. He is stout, tall and pompous.
Alessandro has rough hair of fiery red and is thirty years of age.
Lorenzo has scanty ashen hair, and is twenty-eight years of age.
Gabriele is a hunchbacked dwarf, very strongly built, with a large and intellectual head. He is bald, and is fifty years of age.
Orlando is of a gigantic stature, a full Negro. He is forty years of age.
The Legate is an old and venerable man of ascetic and noble type.
Magdalena is a tall, robust and buxom woman of thirty-five years old.
Her hair is black, but her complexion pale.
Lucrezia is a tall, robust and buxom woman of thirty-five years old.
Her hair is of fine gold, her eyes of pale blue and her complexion fair and rosy.
Zelina is small and plump. her hair is brown, and her age nine and twenty, though she looks older.
Monica is of medium height, very thin and serpent-like, her hair black and crisp; her features like Madonna's. Her eyes are extraordinarily black, keen and piercing. Her age is twenty. Her hands and feet are very small and white, her complexion like fine porcelain.
The Abbess is a gigantic and burly woman of fifty years old.
My other principle of internal rimes I made more difficult for myself than ever, by sticking throughout to the Alexandrine. No English writer has previously attempted to use this magnificent verse, no doubt, in part, because of the danger of monotony. This I avoided by introducing my internal rime at all parts of the line.
I quote from my own explanation.
1. The Classical:
Ay, to this end, indeed was marriage first ordained,
And to this end today is by the Church sustained.
2. Idem, marked by a rime:
Listen; in all good "faith", I gladly grant you much,
Not prone to scoff, and scathe the scutcheon with a smutch.
3. After the second foot:
Oh! but you're hurt!
........................Young man! she shall be tended,
No! take my shirt! Staunch the dear beast.
4. After the fourth foot:
Serene, august, untroubled, cold, her prayers are worth
More than our steel, more than our gold, that bind the earth.
5. After the first foot:
Bow down to the Cross! His love purge thee! His Passion save thee!
Christ crown the work! Here is the blessing that He gave thee.
6. After both second and fourth feet:
Come, let me hold my crystal cross up to the moon!
A guess of gold were at a loss to tell its tune.
7. After the first and fifth feet:
No news! No word of Mortadello's fate! No hope
To bruise the head of the old snake, the State. No scope.
8. After the first half foot and the second foot:
Come, save me, save Thy Maiden! Strike each barbed dart
Home to the grave convent and cloister of my heart.
9. After the fifth foot:
Last, to the lords who by their attitude applaud
This day of burial to faction, feud and fraud.
10. After the second and fourth feet, but each line rimed within itself:
Of for the blind kiss of the wind, the desert air
Thrilling the blue and shrilling through my soul's despair.
("Thrilling" and "shrilling" are here thrown in without extra charge. This device frequently recurs.)
There may be one or two other complications which I have over-looked.
I have made use of the usual liberties in the matter of using anapests and trochees for iambics. With regard to double rimes, I have sometimes treated them as single rimes, when they occur in the middle of a line; sometimes I have made the line of thirteen syllables to suit them.
I have even, once or twice, used the reverse method of calling a pause a half foot. "Stare, murderer, stare" counts as six syllables.
All this has been done of high purpose; there is some inflection or emphasis to be gained, or some tone to be given to the speech by the irregularity.
The argument of the play is simple. Monica aims at becoming the autocrat of Venice and succeeds. In each scene is a definite action of the highest pictorial, as well as dramatic, value that I could imagine. The play is full of violent scenes of love and murder. I believe that I have used three ideas entirely new in drama.
1. Monica has caused her Negro lover to murder the daughter of the Doge, till then his mistress. She bids him retrieve the corpse from the canal, where he had thrown it. The crime is concealed and the dead woman is hidden as the guest of Monica. She dresses up the corpse and has it married to Mortadello in St. Mark's
2. Monica, cornered in a crypt, is praying passionately while her Negro lover is slain by their enemies. Her hysteria produces the stigmata; and this apparent proof of her sanctity overcomes the assailants, whose leader she
touches with the tip of a poisoned crucifix. He dies on the spot; his followers wish to fall at her feet, but she insists on being arrested.
3. Having forced Mortadello to marry her, she disguises herself as a Saharan dancer and drugs him with hashish. She then discloses her identity; and he, in the madness of the drug, attacks the Papal legate. She follows and, defending the old man, kills her husband. This last scene, by the way, fulfils my idea of true comedy; the dressing up of a man as a king or god, and inducing him to preside at a hunting of which he is in reality to be the quarry. I have shown in my essay "Good Hunting!" (The International, March 1918) that this central idea is universal in all the best comedy and tragedy from the "Bacchae" of Euripides, the story of Esther, the Crucifixion and the murder of Hiram Abif, to the plays of Shakespeare, Ibsen and many others.
I now turn to my magical writings during this astounding summer.
In my spare time I began to make a list of Greek words connected with Magick and similar subjects, arranging them by their numerical order. The idea was to construct a dictionary of the Greek Cabbala1 similar to that of the Hebrew Cabbala on which I had been at work since 1899 and ultimately published in The Equinox, vol. I, No. VIII. But the Greek Cabbala presents difficulties which do not arise in the case of Hebrew. First, we have no sacred text in Greek save a few imperfect and most unsatisfactory gnostic documents2, the hopelessly garbled Apocalypse and a few oddments like the Emerald Table of Hermes, the Divine Pymander and the Golden Verses of Pythagoras. Secondly, the various dialects of Greek affect the computations and there is no means of choosing between them. Thirdly, the terminations alter the values. It is even difficult to decide whether or no to reckon the article. Fourthly, the actual examples of Cabbala existent are shamefully unconscientious, as may be seen by reference to Messrs Lea and Bond's brochure. The equate words and phrases quite arbitrarily. If it suits them to count the article they count it.
That this Cabbala exists is nevertheless certain. The correspondences in the Apocalypse in connection with the series 111 to 999 is undeniably intentional. Nor can it be an accident that Mithras (360) was altered to Meithras (365) to suit the correction of the calendar. The matter is of extreme importance; because Aiwass in dictating The Book of the Law repeatedly makes use of correspondences in Greek, such as Thelema, Will, 93 --- Agape, Love, 93. 718 = Stele 666, and so on. He also equates Greek and Hebrew words. Thus his own name spelt in Hebrew has the value 93, but in Greek that of 418, thus bringing into relation the Word of the Law of the Aeon with the Magical Formula of the Great Work. My preliminary studies, however, tended to discourage me, for the fourfold reason above stated; and the proposed dictionary remains uncompleted to this day.
During this summer I wrote no less than nineteen books of magical and
mystical instruction. Each is characterized by the simplest, sublimest and most concentrated prose of which I was master. The sceptical attitude is rigorously preserved; and, with the instructions already issued and a few minor matters to which I attend later, they comprise an absolutely comprehensive practical guide to every branch of the technique of spiritual attainment. The methods of every country, creed and clime, stripped of their dogma and prejudice, are here presented scientifically and simply. Besides these, there may be found certain methods prescribed in The Book of the Law or invented by myself. I will give a short synopsis of these nineteen Instructions.
LIBER I. The Book of the Magus.
This is an inspired writing. It describes the conditions of that exalted Grade. I had at this time no idea that I should ever attain to it; in fact, I thought it utterly beyond possibility. This book was given to me that I might avoid mistakes when the time came for me to become a Magus. It is impossible to give any idea of the terror and sublimity of this book, while the accuracy of its predictions and of its descriptions of the state of being, at that time wholly beyond my imagination to conceive, make it a most astonishing document.
LIBER X. This book is called "The Gate of Light". It explains how those who have attained initiation, taking pity upon the darkness and minuteness of the earth, send forth a messenger to men. The message follows. It is an appeal to those who, being developed beyond the average of their fellows, see fit to take up the Great Work. This Work is then described in general terms with a few hints of its conditions.
LIBER XI is a paraphrase of the instructions given in The Book of the Law for invoking Nuit.
LIBER XVI, called "The Tower; or the House of God", describes a series of meditation practices, the general method being to destroy every thought that tends to arise in the mind by an act of will. The thought must be nipped in the bud before it reaches consciousness. Further, the causes which tend to produce any such thought must be discovered and annihilated. Finally, this process must be extended to include the original cause behind those causes.
LIBER LXIV gives instruction in a method of summoning suitable persons to undertake the Great Work. It includes a powerful invocation of the god of Truth, Wisdom and Magick.
LIBER LXVI. The Book of the Ruby Star describes an extremely powerful ritual of practical Magick; how to arouse the Magical Force within the operator and how to use it to create whatever may be required.
LIBER XC. The Book of the Hermetic Fish-Hook summons mankind to undertake the Great Work. It describes the conditions of initiation and its results in language of great poetic power.
LIBER CLVI. The Wall of Abiegnus (the Sacred Mountain of the Rosicrucians) gives the formula of Attainment by devotion to our Lady
Babalon. It instructs the aspirant how to dissolve his personality in the Universal Life.
LIBER CLXXV. Astarte, The Book of the Beryl Stone, gives the complete formula of Bhaki-Yoga; how one may unite oneself to any particular deity by devotion. Both magical and mystical methods are fully described.
LIBER CC. The Book of the Sun. Here are given the four Adorations to the sun, to be said daily at dawn, noon, sunset and midnight. The object of this practice is firstly to remind the aspirant at regular intervals of the Great Work; secondly, to bring him into conscious personal relation with the centre of our system; and thirdly, for advanced students, to make actual magical contact with the spiritual energy of the sun and thus to draw actual force from him.
LIBER CCVI. The Book of Breathing describes various practices of controlling the breath, how to ensure success, what results to strive for, and how to use them for the Great Work.
LIBER CCXXXI is a technical treatise on the Tarot. The sequence of the 22 Trumps is explained as a formula of initiation.
LIBER CCCLXX, The Book of Creation or of the Goat of the Spirit, analyses the nature of the creative magical force in man, explains how to awaken it, how to use it and indicates the general as well as the particular objects to be gained thereby.
LIBER CD analyses the Hebrew alphabet into seven triads, each of which forms a Trinity of sympathetic ideas relating respectively to the Three Orders comprised in the A.'. A.'.. It is really an attempt to find a Periodic Law in the system.
LIBER CDLXXIV. The Book of the Mouth of the Abyss or of Knowledge. A course of study in philosophy is prescribed as a preliminary. The aspirant having assimilated all existing systems, he is instructed how to analyse the nature of the reason itself and thus how to cross the Abyss on the Intellectual Plane. Having cleansed and renewed his mental faculties in this way, he resumes his aspiration to the Knowledge and Conversation of His Holy Guardian Angel, with whose reappearance he perfects his Magical Powers so that he is ready to undertake the Work of annihilating the universe, which, being done, he becomes a full Master of the Temple.
LIBER DLV. This is a paraphrase of the instructions given in The book of the Law for attaining Hadit.
LIBER DCCCXXXI, The Book of Vesta. This book describes three main methods of reducing the multiplicity of thoughts to one. (The magical method is to banish ceremonially the 32 parts of the universe in turn. One mystical method is to deny in consciousness that any part of the body or mind is real. Another is to stimulate the senses in turn with such concentration as to put it out of gear.)
LIBER DCCCLXVIII. This is an analysis of the 22 letters. To each is attributed a magical or mystical practice of progressive difficulty until attainment is complete.
LIBER CMXIII. The Book of the Memory of the Path. Here are given two methods of acquiring the Magical Memory so as to enable the aspirant to calculate his True Orbit in eternity. The first method is to learn to think backwards till he acquires the power of recalling the events of his life in reverse chronological order. The idea is to get back beyond one's birth to one's previous death, and so on for many lives. It should then be easy to understand the general object of one's existence. The second (easier and surer) method is to consider every event in one's past, determine the influence which each has had upon one's life, and by synthesizing these forces, calculate their resultant; that is determine one's general direction so as to be able to concentrate one's energies on fulfilling the function for which one is fit. Character, conduct an circumstances are to be considered as terms of a complex dynamic equation. This method is of extreme value to all. It should be applied even to the education of children so as not to force them into unnatural developments.
These nineteen books were published in numbers six and seven of The Equinox. During this summer, I also prepared the extremely important account of the circumstances in which the stele was discovered and The Book of the Law written, for number seven. In this manner I published a facsimile of the manuscript of that Book and my Comment thereon. This latter is shamefully meagre and incomplete. The truth is, that despite everything, I still felt an indescribable repugnance. I knew well how unworthy the Comment was as it stood, yet I could not force myself to work on it, partly, no doubt, because I felt, as indeed I feel now, that nothing I can write can possibly be worthy of or adequate to the text; but partly also, from an instinctive fear and dislike of the subject.
And so passed away this superb summer. The autumn had a new experience in store for me. The current of my life was once more to be suddenly turned; and as usual, this critical change came about as the result of a series of casual chances. I was caught in a web, some of whose strands had been woven as early as 1902. I must deal with this new development in a new chapter.
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