This paper was written, independently of any idea of its
present place in this Book, by The Beast 666 Himself, in the
Abbey of Thelema in Cefalu, Sicily. No further apology is
offered for any repetitious of statements made in previous chapters.
Remarks on the method of receiving Liber Legis, on
the Conditions prevailing at the time of the writing,
and on certain technical difficulties connected with
the Literary form of the Book.
Remarks on the method of receiving Liber Legis, on the Conditions prevailing at the time of the writing, and on certain technical difficulties connected with the Literary form of the Book.
Certain very serious questions have arisen with regard to the method by which this Book was obtained. I do not refer to those doubts --real or pretended --which hostility engenders, for all such are dispelled by study of the text; no forger could have prepared so complex a set of numerical and literal puzzles as to leave himself (a) devoted to the solution for years after, (b) baffled by a simplicity which when desclosed leaves one gasping at its profundity, (c) enlightened only by progressive initiation, or by "accidental" events apparently disconnected with the Book, which occurred long after its publication, (d) hostile, bewildered, and careless even in the face of independent testimony as to the power and clarity of the Book, and of the fact that by Its light other men have attained the loftiest summits of initiation in a tithe of the time which history and experience would lead one to expect, and (e) angrily unwilling to proceed with that part of the Work appointed for him which is detailed in Chapter III, even when the course of events on the planet, war, revolution, and the collapse of the social and religious systems of civilization, proved plainly to him that whether he liked it or no, Ra Hoor Khuit was indeed Lord of the Aeon, the Crowned and Conquering Child whose innocence meant no more than inhuman cruelty and wantonly senseless destructiveness as he avenged Isis our mother the Earth and the Heaven for the murder and mutilation of Osiris, Man, her son. The War of 1914-18 and its sequels have proved even to the dullest statesmen, beyond wit of even the most subtly sophistical theologians to gloze, that death is not an unmixed benefit either to the individual or the community : that force and fire of leaping manhood are more useful to a nation than cringing respectability and emasculate servility; that genius goes with courage, and the sense of shame and guilt with "Defeatism."
For these reasons and many more I am certain, I the Beast, whose number is Six Hundred and Sixty Six, that this Third Chapter of the Book of the Law is nothing less than the authentic Word, the Word of the Aeon, the Truth about Nature at this time and on this planet. I wrote it, hating it and sneering at it, secretly glad that I could use it to revolt against this Task most terrible that the Gods have thrust remorselessly upon my shoulders, their Cross of burning steel that I must carry even to my Calvary, the place of a skull, there to be eased of its weight only that I be crucified thereon. But, being lifted up, I will draw the whole world unto me; and men shall worship me the Beast, Six Hundred and Three-score and Six, celebrating to Me their Midnight Mass every time soever when they do that they will, and on Mine altar slaying to Me that victim I most relish, their Selves; when Love designs and Will executes the Rite whereby (an they know it or not) their God in man is offered to me The Beast, their God, the Rite whose virtue, making their God of their throned Beast, leaves nothing, howso bestial, undivine.
On such lines my own "conversion" to my own "religion" may take place, though as I write these words all but twelve weeks of Sixteen years are well nigh past. (Written in I920, e.v.)
This long digression is but to explain that I, myself, who issue
Liber Legis, am no fanatic partisan. I will obey my orders (III,
42) "Argue not, convert not;" even though I shirk some others.
I shall not deign to answer sceptical enquiries as to the origin
of the Book. "Success is your proof." I, of all men on this
Earth reputed mightiest in Magick, by mine enemies more than by
my friends, have striven to lose this Book, to forget it, defy
it, criticise it, escape it, these nigh sixteen years; and It
holds me to the course It sets, even as the Mountain of Lodestone
holds the ship, or Helios by invisible bonds controls his
planets; yea, or as BABALON grips between her thighs the Great
Wild Beast she straddles!
So much for the sceptics; put your heads in the Lion's mouth; so may you come to certainty, whether I be stuffed with straw!
But, in the text of the Book itself, are thorns for the flesh of the most ardent swain as he buries his face in the roses; some of the ivy that clings about the Thyrse of this Dionysus is Poison Ivy. The question arises, especially on examining the original manuscript in My handwriting: "Who wrote these words?"
Of course I wrote them, ink on paper, in the material sense; but they are not My words, unless Aiwaz be taken to be no more than my subconscious self, or some part of it: in that case, my conscious self being ignorant of the Truth in the Book and hostile to most of the ethics and philosophy of the Book, Aiwaz is a severely suppressed part of me. Such a theory would further imply that I am, unknown to myself, possessed of all sorts of praeternatural knowledge and power. The law of Parsimony of Thought (Sir W. Hamilton) appears in rebuttal. Aiwaz calls Himself "the minister of Hoor-parr- Kraat," the twin of Heru-Ra-Ha. This is the dual form of Horus, child of Isis and Osiris. If so, the theorist must suggest a reason for this explosive yet ceremonially controlled manifestation, and furnish and explanation of the dovetailing of Events in subsequent years with His word written and published. In any case, whatever "Aiwaz" is, "Aiwaz" is an Intelligence possessed of power and knowledge absolutely beyond human experience; and therefore Aiwaz is a Being worthy, as the current use of the word allows, of the title of a God, yea verily and amen, of a God. Man has no such fact recorded, by proof established in surety beyond cavil of critic, as this Book, to witness the existence of and Intelligence praeterhuman and articulate, purposefully interfering in the philosophy, religion, ethics, economics and politics of the Planet.
The proof of His praeterhuman Nature --call Him a Devil or a God or even an Elemental as you will --is partly external, depending on events and persons without the sphere of Its influence, partly internal, depending on the concealment of (a) certain Truths, some previously known, some not known, but for the most part beyond the scope of my mind at the time of writing, (b) of an harmony of letters and numbers subtle, delicate and exact, and (c) of Keys to all life's mysteries, both pertinent to occult science and otherwise, and to all the Locks of Thought; the concealment of these three galaxies of glory, I say, in a cipher simple and luminous, but yet illegible for over Fourteen years, and translated even then not by me, but by my mysterious Child according to the Foreknowledge written in the Book itself, in terms so complex that the exact fulfilment of the conditions of His birth, which occurred with incredible precision, seemed beyond all possibility, a cipher involving higher mathematics, and a knowledge of the Hebrew, Greek and Arabic Qabalahs as well as the True Lost Word of the Freemason, is yet veiled within the casual silk-stuff of ordinary English words, nay, even in the apparently accidental circumstance of the characters of the haste-harried scrawl of My pen.
Many such cases of double entendre, paranomasia in one language or another, sometimes two at once, numerical-literal puzzles, and even (on one occasion) an illuminating connexion of letters in various lines by a slashing scratch, will be found in the Qabalistic section of the Commentary. (In preparation.)
As an example of the first method above mentioned, we have, Cap.
III, "The fool readeth this Book--and he understandeth it not."
This has a secret reverse-sense, meaning:
The fool (Parzival = Fra. O.I.V.V.I.O.) understandeth it (being a Magister Templi, the Grade attributed to Understanding) not (i.e. to be `not').
This Parzival, adding to 418, is (in the legend of the Graal) the son of Kamuret, adding to 666, being the son of me The Beast by the Scarlet Woman Hilarion. This was a Name chosen by her when half drunk, as a theft from Theosophical legend, but containing many of our letter-number Keys to the Mysteries ; the number of the petals in the most sacred lotus. It adds to 1001, which also is Seven times Eleven times Thirteen, a series of factors which may be read as The Scarlet Woman's Love by Magick producing Unity, in Hebrew Achad. For 7 is the number of Venus, and the secret seven-lettered Name of my concubine B A B A L O N is written with Seven Sevens, thus:
77 + ((7+7)/7) + 77 = 156, the number of BABALON.418 is the number of the Word of the Magical Formula of this Aeon. (666 is I, The Beast.)
Parzival had also the name Achad as a Neophyte of A∴A∴, and it was Achad whom Hilarion bare to Me. And Achad means Unity, and the letter of Unity is Aleph, the letter of The Fool in the Tarot. Now this Fool invoked the Magical Formula of the Aeon by taking as his Magick, or True, Name one which added also to 418.
He took it for his Name on Entering the Gnosis where is Understanding, and he understood it--this Book--not. That is, he understood that this Book was, so to speak, a vesture or veil upon the idea of "not." In Hebrew "not" is LA, 31, and AL is God, 31, while there is a third 31 still deeplier hidden in the double letter ST, which is a graphic glyph of the sun and moon conjoined to look like a foreshortened Phallus, thus--when written in Greek capitals. This S or Sigma is like a phallus, thus, [Greek], when writ small ; and like a serpent or spermatozoon when writ final, thus, [Greek]. This T or Theta is the point in the circle, or phallus in the kteis, and also the Sun just as C is the Moon, male and female.
But Sigma in Hebrew is Shin, 300, the letter of Fire and of the "Spirit of the Gods" which broods upon the Formless Void in the Beginning, being by shape a triple tongue of flame, and by meaning a tooth, which is the only part of the secret and solid foundation of Man that is manifested normally. Teeth serve him to fight, to crush, to cut, to rend, to bite and grip his prey; they witness that he is a fierce, dangerous, and carnivorous animal. But they are also the best witness to the mastery of Spirit over Matter, the extreme hardness of their substance being chiselled and polished and covered with a glistening film by Lefe no less easily and beautifully than is does with more naturally plastic types of substance.
Teeth are displayed when our Secret Self --our Subconscious Ego, whose Magical Image is our individuality expressed in mental and bodily form --our Holy Guardian Angel --comes forth and declares our True Will to our fellows, whether to snarl or to sneer, to smile or to laugh.
Teeth serve us to pronounce the dental letters which in their deepest nature express decision, fortitude, endurance, just as gutturals suggest the breath of Life itself free-flowing, and labials the duplex vibrations of action and reaction. Pronounce T,D,S or N, and you will find them all continuously forcible exhalations whose difference is determined solely by the position of the tongue, the teeth being bared as when a wild beast turns to bay. The sibilant sound of S or Sh is our English word, and also the Hebrew word, Hush, a strongly aspirated S, and suggests the hiss of a snake. Now this hiss is the common sign of recognition between men when one wants to call another's attention without disturbing the silence more than necessary. (Also we have Hist, our Double letter.) This hiss means: "Attention! A man!" For in all Semitic and some Aryan languages, ISh or a closely similar word means "a man." Say it: you must bare your clenched teeth as in defiance, and breathe harshly out as in excitement.
Hiss! Sh! means "Keep silent! there's danger if you are heard. Attention! There's a man somewhere, deadly as a snake. Breathe hard; there's a fight coming."
This Sh is then the forcible subtle creative Spirit of Life, fiery and triplex, continous, Silence of pure Breath modified into sound by two and thirty obstacles, as the Zero of Empty Space, though it contain all Life, only takes form according (as the Qabalists say) to the two and thirty "Paths" of Number and Letter which obstruct it.
Now the other letter, Theta or Teth, has the value of Nine, which is that of AVB, the Secret Magick of Obeah, and of the Sephira Yesod, which is the seat in man of the sexual function by whose Magick he overcomes even Death, and that in more ways than one, ways that are known to none but the loftiest and most upright Initiates, baptised by the Baptism of Wisdom, and communicants at that Eucharist where the Fragment of the Host in the Chalice becomes whole. (The Chalice is not presented to laymen. Those who understand the reason for this and other details of the Mass, will wonder at the perfection with which the Roman Communion has preserved the form, and lost the substance, of the Supreme Magical Ritual of the True Gnosis.)
This T is the letter of Leo, the Lion, the house of heaven sacred to the Sun. (Thus also we find in it the number 6, whence 666). And Teth means a Serpent, the symbol of the magical Life of the Soul, lord of "the double wand" of life and death. The serpent is royal, hooded, wise, silent save for an hiss when need is to disclose his Will; he devours his tail --the glyph of Eternity, of Nothingness and of Space; he moves wavelike, one immaterial essence travelling through crest and trough, as a man's soul through lives and deaths. He straightens out; he is the Rod that strikes, the Light-radiance of the Sun or the Life radiance of the Phallus.
The sound of T is tenuous and sharply final; it suggests a spontaneous act sudden and irrevocable, like the snake's bite, the loin's snap, the Sun's stroke, and the Lingam's.
Now in the Tarot the Trump illustrating this letter Sh is and old form of the Stele of Revealing, Nuith with Shu and Seb, the pantacle or magical picture of the old Aeon, as Nuit with Hadit and Ra Hoor Khuit is of the new. The number of this Trump is XX. It is called the Angel, the messenger from Heaven of the new Word. The Trump giving the picture of T is called Strength. It shows the Scarlet Woman, BABALON, riding (or conjoined with) me The Beast ; and this card is my special card, for I am Baphomet, "the Lion and the Serpent," and 666, the "full number" of the Sun. (The "magical numbers" of the Sun are, according to tradition, 6, (6 x 6)=36, (666 / 111, and [epsilon] (1-36)=666.)
So then, as Sh, XX, shows the Gods of the Book of the Law and T, XI, shows the human beings in that Book, me and my concubine, the two cards illustrate the whole Book in pictorial form.
Now XX + XI = XXXI, 31, which we needed to put with LA, 31 and AL, 31, that we might have 31 x 3 = 93, the Word of the Law, THELEMA [in greek], Will, and help, Love which under Will, is the Law. It is also the number of Aiwaz, the Author of the Book, of the Lost Word whose formula does in sober truth "raise Hiram," and of many another close-woven Word of Truth.
Now then this Two-in-One letter [sun, moon], is the third Key to this Law; and on the discovery of that fact, after years of constant seeking, what sudden splendours of Truth, sacred as secret, blazed in the midnight of my mind.! Observe now: "this circle squared in its failure is a key also." Now I knew that in the value of the letters of ALHIM, "the Gods," the Jews had concealed a not quite correct value of [pi], the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter, to 4 places of decimals: 3.1415; nearer would be 3.1416. If I prefix our Key, 31, putting [sun, moon], Set or Satan, before the old Gods, I get 3.141593, [pi] correct to Six places, Six being my own number and that of Horus the Sun. And the whole number of this new Name is 395, which on analysis yields and astounding cluster of numerical "mysteries." (Shin 300 Teth 9 Aleph 1 Lamed 30 He 5 Yod 10 Mem 40. Note that 395 being the corrections required! Note also the 31 and the 93 in this value of [pi].)
Now for an example of the `paronomasia' or pun. Chapter III, 17---"Ye, even ye, know not this meaning all." (Note how the peculiar grammar suggests a hidden meaning.) Now YE is in Hebrew Yod He, the man and the woman; The Beast and BABALON, whom the God was addressing in his verse. Know suggests `no' which gives LA, 31; `not' is LA, 31, again, by actual meaning; and `all' refers to AL, 31, again. (Again, ALL is 61, AIN, "nothing.")
Then we have numerical problems like this. "Six and fifty.
Divide, add, multiply and understand." 6 / 50 gives
0.12, a perfect glyph-statement of the metaphysics of the Book.
The external evidence for the Book is accumulating yearly: the incidents connected with the discovery of the true spelling of Aiwaz are alone sufficient to place it beyond all quaver of doubt that I am really in touch with a Being of intelligence and power immensely subtler and greater than aught we can call human.
This has been the One Fundamental Question of Religion. We know of invisible powers, and to spare! But is there any Intelligence or Individuality (of the same general type as ours) independent of our human brain-structure? For the first time in history, yes! Aiwaz has given us proof: the most important gate toward Knowledge suings wide.
I, Aleister Crowley, declare upon my honour as a gentleman that I hold this revelation a million times more important than the discovery of the Wheel, or even of the Laws of Physics or Mathematics. Fire and Tools made Man master of his planet: Writing developed his mind; but his Soul was a guess until the Book of the Law proved this.
I, a master of English, was made to take down in three hours, from dictation, sixty-five 8" x I0" pages of words not only strange, but often displeasing to me in themselves; concealing in cipher propositions unknown to me, majestic and profound; foretelling events public and private beyond my control, or that of any man.
This Book proves: there is a Person thinking and acting in a praeterhuman manner, either without a body of flesh, or with the power of communicating telepathically with men and inscrutably directing their actions.
I write this therefore with a sense of responsibility so acute
that for the first time in my life I regret my sense of humour
and the literary practical jokes which it has caused me to
perpetrate. I am glad, though, that care was taken of the MS.
itself and of diaries and letters of the period, so that the
physical facts are as plain as can be desired.
My sincerity and seriousness are proved by my life. I have fought this Book and fled it; I have defiled it and I have suffered for its sake. Present or absent to my mind, it has been my Invisible Ruler. It has overcome me; year after year extends its invasion of my being. I am the captive of the Crowned and Conquering Child.
The point then arises: How did the Book of the Law come to be written? The description in The Equinox, I, VII, might well be more detailed; and I might also elucidate the problem of the apparent changes of speaker, and the occasional lapses from straightforward scribecraft in the MS.
I may observe that I should not have left such obvious grounds for indictment as these had I prepared the MS. to look pretty to a critical eye; nor should I have left such curious deformities of grammar and syntax, defects of rhythm, and awkwardness of phrase. I should not have printed passages, some rambling and unintelligible, some repugnant to reason by their absurdity, others again by their barbaric ferocity abhorrent to heart. I should not have allowed such jumbles of matter, such abrupt jerks from subject to subject, disorder ravaging reason with disconnected sluttishness. I should not have tolerated the discords, jarred and jagged, of manner, as when a sublime panegyric of Death is followed first by a cipher and then by a prophecy, before, without taking breath, the author leaps to the utmost magnificence of thought both mystical and practical, in language so concise, simple, and lyrical as to bemuse our very amazement. I should not have spelt "Ay" "Aye," or acquiesced in the horror "abstruction."
Compare with this Book my "jokes," where I pretend to edit the MS. of another: "Alice," "Amphora," "Clouds without Water." Observe in each case the technical perfection of the "discovered" or "translated" MS., smooth skilled elaborate art and craft of a Past Master Workman; observe the carefully detailed tone and style of the prefaces, and the sedulous creation of the personalities of the imaginary author and the imaginary editor.
Note, moreover, with what greedy vanity I claim authorship even of all the other A∴A∴ Books in Class A, though I wrote them inspired beyond all I know to be I. Yet in these Books did Aleister Crowley, the master of English both in prose and in verse, partake insofar as he was That. Compare those Books with the Book of the Law! Their style is simple and sublime; the imagery is gorgeous and faultless; the rhythm is subtle and intoxicating; the theme is interpreted in faultless symphony. There are no errors of grammar, no infelicities of phrase. Each Book is perfect in its kind.
I, daring to snatch credit for these, in that brutal Index to The Equinox Volume One, dared nowise to lay claim to have touched the Book of the Law, not with my littlest finger-tip.
I, boasting of my many Books; I, swearing each a masterpiece; I attach the Book of the Law at a dozen points of literature. Even so, with the dame breath, I testify, as a Master of English, that I am utterly incapable, even when most inspired, of such English as I find in that Book again and again.
Terse, yet sublime, are these verses of this Book; subtle yet simple; matchless for rhythm, direct as a ray of light. Its imagery is gorgeous without decadence. It deals with primary ideas. It announces revolutions in philosophy, religion, ethics, yea, in the whole nature of Man. For this it needs no more than to roll sea-billows solemnly forth, eight words, as "Every man and every woman is a star," or it bursts in a mountain torrent of monosyllables as "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law."
Nuit cries: "I love you," like a lover; when even John reached only to the cold impersonal proposition "God is love." She woos like a mistress; whispers "To me !" in every ear; Jesus, with needless verb, appeals vehemently to them "that labour and are heavy laden." Yet he can promise in the present, says: "I give unimaginable joys on earth," making life worth while; "certainty, not faith, while in life, upon death," the electric light Knowledge for the churchyard corpsecandle Faith, making life fear-free, and death itself worth while: "peace unutterable, rest, ecstasy," making mind and body at ease that soul may be free to transcend them when It will.
I have never written such English; nor could I ever, that well I know. Shakespeare could not have written it: still less could Keats, Shelley, Swift, Sterne or even Wordsworth. Only in the Books of Job and Ecclesiastes, in the work of Blake, or possibly in that of Poe, is there any approach to such succinct depth of thought in such musical simplicity of form, unless it be in Greek and Latin poets. Nor Poe nor Blake could have sustained their effort as does this our Book of the Law; and the Hebrews used tricks of verse, mechanical props to support them.
How then --back once more to the Path! --how then did it come to be written ?
I shall make what I may call an inventory of the furniture of the
Temple, the circumstances of the case. I shall describe the
conditions of the phenomenon as if it were any other unexplained
event in Nature.
The writing began exactly on the stroke of the hour, and ended exactly an hour later ; it was hurried through, with no pauses of any kind.
1. The time.Chapter 1 was written between Noon and 1 p.m. on April 8, 1904.
Chapter II between Noon and 1 p.m. on April 9, 1904.
Chapter III between Noon and 1 p.m. on April 10, 1904.
The street, or rather streets, I do not remember. There is a `Place' where four or five streets intersect; it is near the Boulak Museum, but a fairly long way from Shepherd's. The quarter is fashionable European. The house occupied a corner. I do not remember its orientation; but, as appears from the instructions for invoking Horus, one window of the temple opened to the East or North. The apartment was of several rooms on the ground floor, well furnished in the Anglo-Egyptian style. It was let by a firm named Congdon & Co.
2. The place.The city was Cairo.
The room was a drawing-room cleared of fragile obstacles, but not otherwise prepared to serve as a temple. It had double doors, opening on to the corridor to the North and a door to the East leading to another room, the dining-room, I think. It had two windows opening on the Place, to the South, and a writing table against the wall between them.
3. The people.
- Myself, age 28 1/2. In good health, fond of out-door
sports, especially mountaineering and big-game shooting. An
Adept Major of the A.'.A.'. but weary of mysticism and
dissatisfied with Magick. A rationalist, Buddhist, agnostic,
anti-clerical, anti-moral, Tory and Jacobite. A chess-player,
first-class amateur, able to play three games simultaneously
blindfold. A reading and writing addict. Education: private
governess and tutors, preliminary school Habershon's at St.
Leonards, Sussex, private tutors, private school 5I Bateman St.,
Cambridge, private tutors, Yarrow's School, Streatham, near
London. Malvern College, Tonbridge School, private tutors,
Eastbourne College, King's College, London, Trinity College,
Morality---Sexually powerful and passionate. Strongly male to women; free from any similar impulse toward my own sex. My passion for women very unselfish; the main motive to give them pleasure. Hence, intense ambition to understand the feminine nature; for this purpose, to identify myself with their feelings, and to use all means appropriate. Imaginative, subtle, insatiable; the whole business a mere clumsy attempt to quench the thirst of the soul. This thirst has indeed been my one paramount Lord, directing all my acts without allowing any other considerations soever to affect it in the least.
Strictly temperate as to drink, had never once been even near intoxication. Light wine my only form of alcohol.
Sense of justice and equity so sensitive, well-balanced and compelling as to be almost an obsession.
Generous, unless suspicious that I was being fleeced : "penny wise and pound foolish." Spendthrift, careless, not a gambler because I valued winning at games of skill, which flattered my vanity.
Kind, gentle, affectionate, selfish, conceited, reckless and cautious by turns.
Incapable of bearing a grudge, even for the gravest insults and injuries; yet enjoying to inflict pain for its own sake. Can attack an unsuspecting stranger, and torture him cruelly for years, without feeling the slightest animosity toward him. Fond of animals and children, who return my love, almost always. Consider abortion the most shameful form of murder, and loathe the social codes which encourage it.
Hated and despised my mother and her family; loved and respected my father and his.
Critical events in my life.
First travelled outside England, 1883.
Father died March 5, 1887.
Albuminuria stopped my schooling, 1890-92.
First sexual act, probably 1889.
Ditto with a woman March, 1891 (Torquay--a theatre girl).
First serious mountain-climbing, in Skye, 1892. (The "Pinnacle Ridge" of Sgurr-nan-Gillean.)
First Alpine climb, I894.
Admitted to the Military Order of the Temple midnight, December 31, 1896.
Admitted to permanent office in the Temple midnight, December 31, 1897.
Bought Boleskine, 1899.
First Mexican climb, 1900.
First Big game, 1901.
First Himalayan climb, 1902. (Chogo Ri, or "K2" expedition.)
Married at Dingwall, Scotland, August 12, 1903.
Honeymoon at Boleskine, thence to London, Paris, Naples, Egypt, Ceylon, and back to Egypt, Helwan and then Cairo early in 1904.
Parents Plymouth Brethren, exclusive.
Father a real P.B. and therefore tolerant to his son.
Mother only became P.B. to please him, perhaps to catch him, and so pedantically fanatical.
After his death I was tortured with insensate persistency, till I said : Evil, be thou my good ! I practised wickedness furtively as a magical formula, even when it was distasteful ; e.g. I would sneak into a church*1*---a place my mother would not enter at the funeral service of her best-loved sister.
Revolted openly when puberty gave me a moral sense.
Hunted new "Sins" till October, '97, when one of them turned to bay, and helped me to experience the "Trance of Sorrow." (Perception of the Impermanence of even the greatest human endeavour.) I invoked assistance, Easter, '98.
Initiated in the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, November 18, '98.
Began to perform the Abramelin Operation, I899.
Initiated in the Order R.R. et A.C., January, I909.
Made a 33
Began Yoga practices, 1900.
Obtained first Dhyana, October 1, 1901.
Abandoned all serious occult work of every sort, October 3, 1901, and continued in this course of action till July, 1903, when I tried vainly to force myself to become a Buddhist Hermit Highland Laird.
Marriage was an uninterrupted sexual debauch up to the time of the writing of the Book of the Law.
- Rose Edith Kelly.
Born 1874 (July 23). About '95 married one Major Skerrett, R.A.M.C., and lived with him some two years in South Africa. He died in '97.
She indulged in a few feeble-executed intrigues till August 12, 1903, when she became my wife, becoming pregnant with a girl born July 28, 1904. Health, admirable robust at all points; she was both active and enduring, as our travels in Ceylon and across China prove. Figure perfect, neither big nor little, face pretty without being petty; she only missed Beauty by lacking Goethe's "touch of the bizarre." Personality intensely powerful and magnevit, intellect absent but mind adaptable to that of any companion, so that she could always say the right nothing.
Charm, grace, vitality, vivacity, tact, manners, all inexpressible fascinating.
From her mother she inherited dipsomania, as bad a case for stealth, cunning, falsehood, treachery, and hypocrisy as the specialist I consulted had ever known. This was, however, latent during the satisfaction of sexuality, which ousted all else in her life, as it did in mine.
Education strictly social and domestic ; she did not even know schoolgirl French. She had read nothing, not so much as novels. She was a miracle of perfection as Poetic Ideal, Mistress, Wife, Mother, House-president, Nurse Pal and Comrade.
- Our head servant, Hassan or Hamid, I forget which.
A tall, dignified, hansome athlete of about 30. Spoke good
English and ran the household well; always there and never in
I suppose I hardly ever saw the servants under his authority: I do not even know how many there were.
- Lieut.-Col. Somebody, beginning, I think, with a B,
married, middle-aged, with manners like the Rules of a Prison. I
cannot remember that I ever saw him; but the apartment was
sublet to me by him.
- Brugsch Bey of the Boulak Museum dined with us once to
discuss the Stele in his charge, and to arrange for its
"abstruction." His French assistant curator, who translated the
hieroglyphs on the Stele for us.
- A Mr. Bach, owner of the "Egyptian News," an hotel, a hunk of railway, &c., &c., dined once.
March 16. Tried to shew the Sylphs to Rose. She was in a dazed state, stupid, possibly drunk; possibly hysterical from pregnancy. She could see nothing, but could hear. She was fiercely excited at the messages, and passionately insistent that I should take them seriously.
4. The events leading up to the Writing of the Book. I summarize them from Eqx. I, VII.
I was annoyed at her irrelevance, and her infliction of nonsense upon me.
She had never been in any state even remotely resembling this, though I had made the same invocation (in full) in the King's chamber fo the Great Pyramid during the night which we spent there in the previous autumn.
March 17. More apparently nonsensical messages, this time spontaneous. I invoke Thoth, probably as in Liber LXIV, and presumably to clear up the muddle.
March 18. Thoth evidently got clear through to her; for she discovers that Horus is addressing me through her, and identifies Him by a method utterly excluding chance or coincidence, and involving knowledge which only I possessed, some of it arbitrary, so that she or her informant must have been able to read my mind as well as if I had spolen it.
Then she, challenged to point out His image, passes by many such to fix on the one in the Stele. The cross-examination must have taken place between March 20 and 23.
March 20. Success in my invocation of Horus, by "breaking all the rules" at her command. This success convinced me magically, and encouraged me to test her as above mentioned. I should certainly have referred to the Stelle in my ritual had I seen it before this date. I should fix Monday, March 21, for the Visit to Boulak.
Between March 23 and April 8 the Hieroglyphs on the Stele were evidently translated by the assistant-curator at Boulak, into either French or English--I am almost sure it was French--and versified (as now printed) by me.
Between these dates, too, my wife must have told me that her informant was not Horus, or Ra Hoor Khuit, but a messenger from Him, named Aiwass.
I thought that she might have faked this name from constantly hearing "Aiwa," the word for "Yes" in Arabic. She could not have invented a name of this kind, though ; her next best was to find a phrase like "balmy puppy" for a friend, or corrupt a name like Neuberg into an obscene insult.
The silence of my diaries seems to prove that she gave me nothing more of importance. I was working out the Magical problem presented to me by the events of March 16-21. Any questions that I asked her were either unanswered, or answered by a Being whose mind was so different from mine that we failed to converse. All my wife obtained from Him was to command me to do things magically absurd. He would not play my game: I must play His.
April 7. Not later than this date was I ordered to enter the "temple" exactly at noon on the three days following, and write down what I heard during one hour, nor more nor less. I imagine that some preparations were made, possibly some bull's blood burned for incense, or order taken about details of dress or diet ; I remember nothing at all, one way or the other. Bull's blood was burnt some time in this sojourn in Cairo ; but I forget why or when. I think it was used at the "Invocation of the Sylphs."
The three days were precisely similar, save that on the last day I became nervous lest I should fail to hear the Voice of Aiwass. They may then be described together.
5. The actual writing.
I went into the "temple" a minute early, so as to shut the door and sit down on the stroke of Noon.
On my table were my pen--a Swan Fountain--and supplies of Quarto typewriting paper, 8" x I0".
I never looked round in the room at any time.
The Voice of Aiwass came apparently from over my left shoulder, from the furthest corner of the room. It seemed to echo itself in my physical heart in a very strange manner, hard to describe. I have noticed a similar phenomenon when I have been waiting for a message fraught with great hope or dread. The voice was passionately poured, as if Aiwass were alert about the time- limit. I wrote 65 pages of this present essay (at about my usual rate of composition) in about 10 1/2 hours as against the 3 hours of the 65 pages of the Book of the Law. I was pushed hard to keep the pace; the MS. shows it clearly enough.
The voice was of deep timbre, musical and expressive, its tones solemn, voluptuous, tender, fierce or aught else as suited the moods of the message. Not bass --perhaps a rich tenor or baritone.
The English was free of either native or foreign accent, perfectly pure of local or caste mannerisma, thus startling and even uncanny at first hearing.
I had a strong impression that the speaker was actually in the corner where he seemed to be, in a body of "fine matter," transparent as a veil of gauze, or a cloud of incense-smoke. He seemed to be a tall, dark man in his thirties, well-knit, active and strong, with the face of a savage king, and eyes veiled lest their gaze should destroy what they saw. The dress was not Arab; it suggested Assyria or Persia, but very vaguely. I took little note of it, for to me at that time Aiwass and an "angel" such as I had often seen in visions, a being purely astral.
I now incline to believe that Aiwass is not only the God or Demon or Devil once held holy in Sumer, and mine own Guradian Angel, but also a man as I am, insofar as He uses a human body to make His magical link with Mankind, whom He loves, and that He is thus and Ipsissimus, the Head of the A∴A∴ Even I can do, in a much feebler way, this Work of being a God and a Beast, &c., &c., all at the same time, with equal fullness of life.
"Change not so much as the style of a letter" in the text saved me from Crowley-fying the wholde Book, and spoiling everything.
6. The Editing of the Book.
The MS. shows what has been done, and why, as follows:
- On page 6 Aiwaz instructs me to "write this (what he had just said) in whiter words," for my mind revelled at His phrase. He added at once "But go forth on," i.e., with His utterance, leaving the emendation until later.
- On page 19 I failed to hear a sentence, and (later on) the Scarlet Woman, invoking Aiwass, wrote in the missing words. (How? She was not in the room at the time, and heard nothing.)
- Page 20 of Cap. III, I got a phrase indistinctly, and she put it in, as for "B."
- The versified paraphrase of the hieroglyphs on the Stele being ready, Aiwaz allowed me to insert these later, so as to save time.
The problem of the literary form of this Book is astonishingly complex; but the internal evidence of the sense is usually sufficient of make it clear, on inspection, as to who is speaking and who is being addressed.
There was, however, no actual voice audible save that of Aiwaz. Even my own remarks made silently were incorporated by him audibly, wherever such occur.
In verses 3 and 4, she begins her discourse. So far her remarks have been addressed to no one in particular.
Verse 4 startled my intelligence into revolt.
In verse 5 she explains that she is speaking, and appeals to me personally to help her to unveil by taking down her message.
In verse 6 she claims me for her chosen, and I think that I then became afraid lest I should be expected to do too much. She answers this fear in verse 7 by introducing Aiwaz as the actual speaker in articulate human accents on her behalf.
In verse 8 the oration continues, and we now see that it is addressed to mankind in general. This continues till verse 13.
Verse 14 is from the Stele. It seems to have been written in by me as a kind of appreciation of what she had just said.
Verse 15 emphasizes that it is mankind in general that is addressed; for the Beast is spoken of in the third person, though his was the only human ear to hear the words.
Verses 18-19 seem to be almost in the nature of a quotation from some hymn. It is not quite natural for her to address herself as she appears to do in verse 19.
Verse 26. The question "Who am I and what shall be the sign?" is my own conscious thought. In the previous verses I have been called to an exalted mission, and I naturally feel nervous. This thought is then entered in the record by Aiwaz as if it were a story that he was telling ; and he develops this story after her answer, in order to bring back the thread of the chapter to the numerical mysteries of Nuith begun in verses 24-
25, and now continued in verse 28.
Another doubt must have arisen in my mind at verse 30; and this doubt is interpreted and explained to me personally in verse 31.
The address to mankind is resumed in verse 32, and Nuith emphasizes the point of verse 30 which has caused me to doubt. She confirms this with an oath, and I was convinced. I thought to myself, "in this case let us have written instructions as to the technique," and Aiwaz again makes a story out of my request as in verse 26.
In verse 35 it seems that she is addressing me personally, but in verse 36 she speaks of me in the third person.
Verse 40. The word "us" is very puzzling. It apparently means "All those who have accepted the Law whose word is Thelema." Among these she includes herself.
There is now no difficulty for a long while. It is a general address dealing with various subjects, to the end of verse 52.
From verses 53-56 we have a strictly personal address to me.
In verse 57 Nuit resumes her general exhortation. And I am spoken of once more in the third person.
Verse 61. The word "Thou" is not a personal address. It means any single person, as posed to a company. The "Ye" in the third sentence indicates the proper conduct for worshippers as a body. The "you," in sentence 4, of course applies to a single person; but the plural form suggests that it is a matter of public worship as opposed to the invocation in the desert of the first sentence of this verse.
There is no further difficulty in this chapter.
Verse 66 is the statement of Aiwaz that the words of verse 65, which were spoken diminuendo down to pianissimo, indicated the withdrawl of the goddess.
Hadit himself is evidently the speaker from the start. The remarks are general. In verse 5 I am spoken of in the third person.
After verse 9 he notices my vehement objections to writing statements to which my conscious self was obstinately opposed.
Verse 10, addressed to me notes that fact ; and in verse 11 he declares that he is my master, and that the reason for this is that he is my secret self, as explained in verses 12-13.
The interruption seems to have added excitement to the discourse, for verse 14 is violent.
Verses 15 & 16 offer a riddle, while verse 17 is a sort of parody of poetry.
Verse 18 continues his attack on my conscious mind. In verses 15-18 the style is complicated, brutal, sneering and jeering. I feel the whole passage as a contemptuous beating down of the resistance of my mind.
In verse 19 he returns to the exalted style with which he began until I interfered.
The passage seems addressed to what he calls his chosen or his people, though it is not explained exactly what he means by the words.
This passage from verse 19 to verse 52 is of sustained and matchless eloquence.
I must have objected to something in verse 52, for verse 53 is directed to encourage me personally as to having transmitted this message.
Verse 54 deals with another point as to the intelligibility of the message.
Verse 55 instructed me to obtain the English Qabalah; it made me incredulous, as the task seemed an impossible one, and probably his perception of this criticism inspired verse 56, though "ye mockers" applies evidently to my enemies, referred to in verse 54.
Verse 57 brings us back to the subject begun in verse 21. It is a quotation from the Apocalypse verbatim, and is probably suggested by the matter of verse 56.
There is no real change in the essence of anything, however its combinations vary.
Verses 58-60 conclude the passage.
Verse 61. The address is now strictly personal. During all this time Hadit had been breaking down my resistance with his violently expresses and varied phrases. As a result of this, I attained to the trance described in these verses from 61-68.
Verse 69 is the return to consciousness of myself. It was a sort of gasping question as a man coming out of Ether might ask "Where am I?" I think that this is the one passage in the whole book which was not spoken by Aiwaz; and I ought to say that these verses 63-68 were written without conscious hearing at all.
Verse 70 does not deign to reply to my questions, but points out the way to manage life. This continues until verse 74, and seems to be addressed not to me personally but to any man, despite the use of the word "Thou."
Verse 75 abruptly changes the subject, interpolating the riddle of verse 76 with its prophecy. This verse is addressed to me personally, and continues to the end of verse 78 to mingle lyrical eloquence with literal and numerical puzzles.
Verse 79 is the statement of Aiwaz that the end of the chapter has come. To this he adds his personal compliment to myself.
Verse I appears to complete the triangle begun by the first
verses of the two previous chapters. It is a simple statement
involving no particular speaker or hearer. The ommission of the
"i" in the name of God appears to have alarmed me, and in verse 2
Aiwaz offers a hurried explanation in a somewhat excited manner,
and invokes Ra-Hoor-Khuit.
Verse 3 is spoken by Ra-Hoor-Khuit. "Them" evidently refers to some undescribed enemies, and "ye" to those who accept his formula. This passage ends with verse 9. Verse 10 and verse 11 are addressed to me personally and the Scarlet Woman, as shown in the continuation of his passage which seems to end with verse 33, though it is left rather vague at times as to whether the Beast, or the Beast and his concubine, or the adherents of Horus, generally, are exhorted.
Verse 34 is a kind of poetical peroration, and is not addressed in particular to anybody. It is a statement of events to come.
Verse 35 states simply that section one of this chapter is completed.
I seem to have become enthusiastic, for there is a kind of interlude reported by Aiwaz of my song of adoration translated form the Stele; the incident parallels that of chapter I, verse 26, &c.
It is to be noted that the translations from the Stele in verses 37-38 were no more than instantaneous thoughts to be inserted afterwards.
Verse 38 begins with my address to the God in the first sentence, while in the second is his reply to me. He then refers to the hieroglyphs of the Stele, and bids me quote my paraphrases. This order was given by a species of wordless gesture, not visible or audible, but sensible in some occult manner.
Verses 39-42 are instructions for me personally.
Verses 43-45 indicate the proper course of conduct for the Scarlet Woman.
Verse 46 is again more general --a sort of address to soldiers before battle.
Verse 47 is again mostly personal instruction, mixed up with prophecies, proof of the praeterhuman origin of the Book, and other matters.
I observe that this instruction, taken with with those not to change "so much as a style of a letter," etc., imply that my pen was under the physical control of Aiwaz; for this dictation did not include directions as to the use of capitals, and the occasional mis-spellings are most assuredly not mine!
Verse 48 impatiently dismisses such practical matters as a nuisance.
Verses 49-59 contain a series of declarations of war; and there is no further difficulty as to the speaker or hearer to the end of the chapter, although the subject changes repeatedly in an incomprehensible manner. Only verse 75 do we find a perroation on the whole book, presumably by Aiwaz, ending by his formula of withdrawal.
I conclude by laying down the principles of Exegesis on which I have based my comment.
- It is "my scribe Ankh-af-na-khonsu" (CCXX, I, 36) who
"shall comment" on "this book" "by the wisdom of Ra-Hoor-Khuit";
that is, Aleister Crowley shall write the Comment from the point
of view of the manifested positive Lord of the Aeon, in plain
terms of the finite, and not those of the infinite.
- "Hadit burning in thy heart shall make swift and secure
thy pen" (CCXX, III, 40). My own inspiration, not any alien
advice or intellectual consideration, is to be the energizing
froce of this work.
- Where the text is simple straightforward English, I
shall not seek, or allow, and interpretation at variance with it.
I may admit a Qabalistic or cryptographic secondary meaning when such confirms, amplifies, deepens, intensifies, or clarifes the obvious common-sense significance ; but only if it be part of the general plan of the "latent light," and self-proven by abundatnt witness.
For example: "To me!" (I, 65) is to be taken primarily in its obvious sense as the Call of Nuith to us Her stars.
The transliteration "TO MH" may be admitted as the "signature" of Nuith, identifying Her as the speaker; because these Greek Words mean "The Not," which is Her Name.
This Gematria of TO MH may be admitted as further confirmation, because their number 418 is elsewhere manifested as that of the Aeon.
But TO MH is not to be taken as negating the previous verses, or 418 as indicating the fromula of approach to Her, although in point of fact it is so, being the Rubrick of the Great Work. I refuse to consider mere appropriateness as conferring title to authority, and to read my own personal theories into the Book. I insist that all interpretation shall be incontestably authentic, neither less, more, nor other than was meant is the Mind of Aiwaz.
- I lay claim to be the sole authority competent to decide
disputed points with regard to the Book of the Law, seeing that
its Author, Aiwaz, is none other than mine own Holy Guardian
Angel, to Whose Knowledge and Conversation I have attained, so
that I have exclusive access to Him. I have duly referred every
difficulty to Him directly, and received His answer; my award is
therefore absolute without appeal.
- The verse, II, 47, "one cometh after him, whence I say
not, who shall discover the key of it all," has been fulfilled by
"one" Achad is not said to extend beyond this single exploit;
Achad is nowhere indicated as appointed or even authorized to
relieve The Beast of His task of the Comment. Achad has proved
himself,*1* and proved the Book, by his on achievement; and this
- The words of the Text are obscure in themselves; where
- The expression is strained; where
- The Syntax,
- Spelling, or
- The use of capital letters present peculiarities; where
- Non-English words occur; where the style suggests
- Ambiguity, or
- Obliquity; or where
- A problem is explicitly declared to exist; in all such cases I shall seek for a meaning hidden by means of Qabalistic correspondences, cryptography, or literary subtleties. I shall admit no solution which is not at once simple, striking, consonant with the general plan of the Book ; and not only adequate but necessary.
- I, 4. Here the obvious sense of the text is nonsense; it therefore needs intimate analysis.
- II, I7, line 4. The natural order of the words is distorted by placing "not" before "know me"; it is proper to ask what object is attained by this peculiarity of phrasing.
- I, I3. The text as it stands is unintelligible; it calls attention to itself; a meaning must be found which will not only justify the apparent error, but prove the necessity of employing that and no other expression.
- II, 76. "to be me" for "to be I." The unusual grammar invites enquiry; it suggests that "me" is a concealed name, perhaps MH, "Not," Nuit, since to be Nuit is the satisfaction of the formula of the Speaker, Hadit.
- III, I. The omission of the "i" in "Khuit" is indicative that some concealed doctrine is based upon the variant.
- II, 27. The spelling of "Because" with a capital B suggests that it may be a proper name, and possibly that its Greek or Hebrew equivalent may identify the idea Qabalistically with some enemy of our Hierarchy; also that such word may demand a capital value for its initial.
- III, II. "Abstruction" suggests that an idea otherwise inexpressible is conveyed in this manner. Paraphrase is here inadmissible as a sufficient interpretation; there must be a correspondence in the actual structure of the word with its etymologically -deduced meaning.
- III, 74. The words "sun" and "son" are evidently chosen for the identity of their sound-value; the inelegance of the phrase therefroe insists on some such adequate justification as the existence of a hidden treasure of meaning.
- III, 73. The ambiguity of the instruction warrants the supposition that the words must somehow contain a cryptographic formula for so arranging the sheets of the MS. that an Arcanum becomes manifest.
- I, 26. The apparent evasion of a direct reply in "Thou knowest !" suggests that the words conceal a precise answer more convincing in cipher than their openly-expressed equivalent could be.
- II, I5. The text explicitly invites Qabalistic analysis.
- The Comment must be consistent with itself at all
points; it must exhibit the Book of the Law as of absolute
authority on all possible questions proper to Mankind, as
offering the perfect solution of all problems philosophical and
practical without exception.
- The Comment must prove beyond possibility of error that
the Book of the Law,
- Bears witness in itself to the authorship of Aiwaz, an Intelligence independent of incarnation ; and
- Is warranted worthy of its claim to credence by the evidence of external events.
- The Comment must be expressed in terms intelligible to
the minds of men of average education, and independent of
- The Comment must be pertinent to the problems of our own
times, and present the principles of the Law in a manner
susceptible of present practical application. It must satisfy
all types of intelligence, neither revolting to rational,
scientific, mathematical, and philosophical thinkers, nor
repugnant to religious and romantic temperaments.
- The Comment must appeal on behalf of the Law to the
authority of Experience. It must make Success the proof of the
Truth of the Book of the Law at every point of contact with
The Word of Aiwaz must put forth a perfect presentation of the Universe as Necessary, Intelligible, Self-subsistent, as Integral, Absolute, and Immanent. It must satisfy all intuitions, explain all enigmas, and compose all conflicts. It must reveal Reality, reconcile Reason with Relativity; and, resolving not only all antinomies in the Absolute, but all antipathies in the appreciation of Aptness, assure the acquiescence of every faculty of making in the perfection of its plenary propriety.
Releasing us from every restriction upon Right, the Word of Aiwaz must extend its empire by enlisting the allegiance of every man and every woman that puts its truth to the test.
On these principles, to the pitch of my power, will I the Beast 666, who received the Book of the Law from the Mouth of mine Angel Aiwaz, make my comment thereon ; being armed with the word: "But the work of the comment? That is easy ; and Hadit in thy heart shall make swift and secure thy pen."
Editorial Note to this Chapter.
The reader is now in full possession of the account of "how thou didst come hither". The student who wishes to act intelligently will be at pains to make himself thoroughly acquainted at the outset with the whole of the external circumstances connected with the Writing of the Book, whether they are of biographical or other importance. He should thus be able to approach the Book with his mind prepared to apprehend the unique character of their contents in respect of its true Authorship, the peculiarities of Its methods of communicating Thought, and the nature of Its claim to be the Canon of Truth, the Key of Progress, and the Arbiter of Conduct. He will be able to form his own judgment upon It, only insofar as he is fixed in the proper Point-of-View; the sole question for him is to decide whether It is or is not that which It claims to be, the New Law in the same sense as the Vedas, the Pentateuch, the Tao Teh King, and Qu'ran are Laws, but with the added Authority of Verbal, Literal, and Graphic inspiration established and counter-checked by internal evidence with the impeccable precision of a mathematical demonstration. If It be that, It is an unique document, valid absolutely within the terms of its self-contained thesis, incomparably more valuable than any other Transcript of Thought which we possess.
If It be not wholly that, it is a worthless curiosity of literature; worse, it is an appalling proof that no kind or degree of evidence soever is sufficient to establish any possible proposition, since the closest concatenation of circumstances may be no more than the jetsam of chance, and the most comprehensive plans of purpose a puerile pantomime. To reject this Book is to make Reason itself ridiculous and the Law of Probabilities a caprice. In Its fall it shatters the structure of Science, and buries the whole hope of man's heart in the rubble, throwing upon its heaps the sceptic, blinded, crippled, and gone melancholy mad.
The reader must face the problem squarely; half-measures will not avail. If there be aught he recognize as transcendental Truth, he cannot admit the possibility that the Speaker, taking such pains to prove Himself and His Word, should yet incorporate Falsehood in the same elaborate engines. If the Book be but a monument of a mortal's madness, he must tremble that such power and cunning may be the accomplices of insane and criminal archanarchs.
But if he know the Book to be justified of Itself, It shall be justified also of Its children; and he will glow with gladness in his heart as he reads the sixty-third to the sixty-seventh verses of Its chapter, and gain his first glimpse of Who he himself is in truth, and to what fulfilment of Himself It is of virtue to bring Him.