Magick Without Tears

By Aleister Crowley

Chapter XXV: Fascinations, Invisibility, Levitation, Transmutations, "Kinks in Time"

Cara Soror,

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

Dear me! dear me! The world's indeed gone topsy-turvy if you have to ask me for the secrets of Fascination! Altogether tohu-bohu and the Temurah Thash raq!1

So much for a display of Old-World Courtly Manners; actually rubbish, for you might very well be fascinating without knowing how you worked the trick. In fact, I think that is the case ninety-nine times in a hundred. Besides, I read your letter carelessly; I overlooked the phrase in which you mention that you use the word as Lévi did; i.e. to cover all those types of "miracle" which depend on distracting the attention of, or otherwise composing, the miraclee—I invent a rather useful word, yes?

So let us see what sort of miracles those are.

To start with, I doubt if we can. Many of such thaumaturgic phenomena contain elements of illusion in greater or less degree; if the miraclee's mind is 100% responsible, I think the business becomes a mere conjuring trick.

My dictionary defines the verb: "to charm, to enchant; to act on by some irresistible influence; to captivate; to excite and allure irresistibly or powerfully."

For the noun it gets even deeper into technical Magic: "the act or power of fascinating or spell binding, often to one's harm; a mysterious, irresistible, alluring influence." (Personally, I have always used, or heard, it much less seriously: "attractive" hardly more). Skeat, surprisingly, is almost dumb: p. part. of "to enchant" and "from L. fascinum, a spell."

Yes, surprisingly; for the word is one of the many that means the Phallus.  The implication is that there is some sexual element in the exciting and alluring quality, which lifts it altogether above mere "pleasing."

To my mind the implication is that there is some quality inherent which is cognate to that too totally irrational quasimagnetic force which has been responsible not only for innumerable personal tragedies—and comedies —but for the fall of dynasties and even the wreck of Empires.

"Christ" is reported as having said: "If I be lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men unto me." Interpret this in the light of the Cross as a Phallic emblem, and—how lurid a flash!

Compare AL II, 26. "I am the secret Serpent coiled about to spring: in my coiling there is joy. If I lift up my head, I and my Nuit are one.  If I droop down mine head, and shoot forth venom, then is rapture of the earth, and I and the earth are one."

This versicle is deep, devilish deep; and it is chock-a-block with the mysteries of Fascination. Dig into this, dear sister! dig with your Qabalistic trowel; don't blame me if you don't get a Mandrake with the very first thrust!

But most certainly I shall say nothing here. Yes, indeed, nothing was ever more sternly forbidden than prattle on subjects like this! Look!  It goes right on: "There is great danger in me; for who doth not understand these runes shall make a great miss. He shall fall down into the pit called Because, and there he shall perish with the dogs of Reason." (v. 27) The pit is of course the Abyss: see The Vision and the Voice, Xth Aethyr. A very sticky—or rather, unstuck! finish; so 'ware Hawk!

To business! Fascination No! Invisibility, is obviously penny plain S.A.

This is notably an affair of the subconscious; it often masters open dislike and distaste; it never yields to reason. It destroys all sense of values. Its origin is usually obscure. The least irrational base of it is the sense of smell. It was, if I remember rightly, the Comte de St. Germain who advised Loise de la Valliêre to fix her exquisitely broidered kerchief in such wise that it protected her from contact with her saddle, and then, after a morning's hard gallop, to find an excuse for using it to wipe the brows of the perspiring king. It took him years to recover! The story is well known, and the plan widely adopted with remarkably unvarying success. But be careful not to overdo it; for if the source of the perfume is recognized the consciousness takes charge, and the result is antipathy.

Many years ago I composed a scent based on similar principles, which I intended to market under the title "Potted Sex Appeal." We tried it out with the assistance of a certain noble Marquess, whose consequent misadventures—won't he laugh when he reads this!

But there are other senses: "l'amour de l'oreille" may refer not only to Othello's way of snaring Desdemona, but subtleties of timbre in the voice...

Yes, yes, you say impatiently, but there isn't any miracle about all this in the ordinary sense of the word.

True, but why the devil do you want me, so long as you're getting what you need? Just being childlike, I suppose! No? Merely that you can explain such matters to yourself well enough. All right; on to No. 2. Shall we look at levitation for a change?

This power—if it be one—is very curious indeed. It connects more directly with magnetism than almost any other. The first thing we think of when someone says "magnet" is picking up iron filings as a child.

Age before honesty! Let Father Poulain S.J. speak first! He is obliged to admit the phenomenon, because the Church has done so. But precisely similar accounts of the levitation of pagans and heretics must be according to him, lies, or Works of the Devil. As for the method, "God employs the angels to raise the saint, so as to avoid the necessity of intervening Himself." Lazy old parishioner!

Now for a douche of common sense. Hatha-Yoga is quite clear and simple, even logical, about it. The method is plain Pranayama. Didn't I tell you onetime of the Four Stages of Success? 1. Perspiration—of a very special kind.— 2. Sukshma-Khumbakam: automatic rigidity. One stiffens like a dog in a bell-jar when you pump in Carbon Dioxide (is it?) 3. The Bhuchari-Siddhi, "jumping about like a frog." One is wafted, without one's Asana being disturbed, about the floor, rather as fragments of paper, or dry leaves, might be in a slight draught under the door. 4. If one is quite perfectly balanced one cannot be moved sideways; so one rises. And there you are!

Personally, I reached the Bhuchari-Siddhi quite a number of times; but I never observed No. 4. On several occasions other people have seen me levitated, though never to a height of more than a foot or so. Here is the best account of such an incident, of those at my immediate disposal.

Nearly midnight. At this moment we stopped dictating, and began to converse. Then Fra. P. said: "Oh, if I could only dictate a book like the Tao Teh King!" Then he closed his eyes as if meditating. Just before I had noticed a change in his face, most extraordinary, as if he were no longer the same person; in fact, in the ten minutes we were talking he seemed to be any number of different people. I especially noticed the pupils of his eyes were so enlarged that the entire eye seemed black. (I tremble so and have such a quaking feeling inside, simply in thinking of last night, that I can't form letters). Then quite slowly the entire room filled with a thick yellow light (deep golden, but not brilliant. I mean not dazzling, but soft.) Fra. P. Looked like a person I had never seen but seemed to know quite well—his face, clothes and all were of the same yellow. I was so disturbed that I looked up to the ceiling to see what caused the light, but could only see the candles. Then the chair on which he sat seemed to rise; it was like a throne, and he seemed to rise; it was like a throne, and he seemed to be either dead or sleeping; but it was certainly no longer Fra. P. This frightened me, and I tried to understand by looking round the room; when I looked back the chair was raised, and he was still the same. I realized I was alone; and thinking he was dead or gone—or some other terrible thing—I lost consciousness.

This discourse has been thus left unfinished: but it is only necessary to add that the capacity to extract such spiritual honey from these unpromising flowers is the mark of an adept who has perfected his Magick Cup. This method of Qabalistic exegesis is one of he best ways of exalting the reason to the higher consciousness. Evidently it started Fra. P. so that in a moment he become completely concentrated and entranced.2

Note that this has nothing at all to do with any Pranayama. It seems a matter of ecstatic concentration, which chose this mode of expression instead of bringing on Samadhi—though that, too, occurred in some of the cases.

By the way, there is a fairly full account of the whole business; I have just remembered—it is in my Autohagiography.

Pranayama produced, firstly, a peculiar kind of perspiration; secondly, an automatic rigidity of the muscles; and thirdly, the very curious phenomenon of causing the body, while still absolutely rigid, to take little hops in various directions. It seems as if one were somehow raised, possibly an inch from the ground, and deposited very gently a short distance away.

I saw a very striking case of this at Kandy. When Allan was meditating, it was my duty to bring his food very quietly (from time to time) into the room adjoining that where he was working. One day he missed two successive meals, and I thought I ought to look into his room to see if all was well. I must explain that I have known only two European women and three European men who could sit in the attitude called Padmasana, which is that usually seen in seated images of the Buddha. Of these men, Allan was one. He could knot his legs so well that, putting his hands on the ground, he could swing his body to and fro in the air between them.  When I looked into his room I found him not seated on his meditation mat, which was in the centre of the room at the end farthest from the window, but in a distant corner ten or twelve feet off, still in his knotted position, resting on his head and right shoulder, exactly like an image overturned. I set him right way up, and he came out of his trance. He was quite unconscious that anything unusual had happened. But he had evidently been thrown there by the mysterious forces generated by Pranayama.

There is no doubt whatever about this phenomenon; it is quite common.  But the Yogis claim that the lateral motion is due to lack of balance, and that if one were in perfect spiritual equilibrium one would rise directly in the air. I have never seen any case of levitation, and hesitate to say that it has happened to me, thought I have actually been seen by others, on several occasions, apparently poised in the air. For the first three phenomena I have found no difficulty in devising quite simple physiological explanations. But I can form no theory as to how the practice could counteract the force of gravitation, and I am unregenerate enough to allow this to make me sceptical about the occurrence of levitation. Yet, after all, the stars are suspended in space. There is no à priori reason why the forces which prevent them rushing together should not come into operation in respect of the earth and the body.

The Allan part of this is the best evidence at my disposal. He couldn't have got where he did by hopping, and he couldn't have got into that position intentionally; he must have been levitated, lost balance, and dropped upside down. In any case, there is no trace of fascination about it, as there may have been in Soror Virakam's observation.

About invisibility, now? Of this I have so much experience that the merest outline could take us far beyond the limits of a letter. In Mexico D.F., I worked at acquiring the power by means of ritual. I worked desperately hard. I got to the point where my image in a pier-glass flickered, rather like the very earliest films did. Possibly more work, after more skill had come to me, might have done the whole trick. But I did not persist when I found out how to do it by fascination. (Here we are at last!)

Roughly, this is how to do it. If one is concentrated to the point when what you are thinking of is the only reality in the Universe, when you lose all awareness of who and where you are and what you are doing, it seems as though that unconsciousness were in some way contagious. The people around you just can't see anybody.

At one time, in Sicily, this happened nearly every day. Our party, strolling down to our bathing bay—the loveliest spot of its kind that I have ever seen—over a hillside where there wasn't cover for a rabbit, would lose sight of me, look, and fail to find me, though I was walking in their midst. At first, astonishment, bewilderment; at last, so normal had it become: "He's invisible again."

One incident I remember very vividly indeed; an old friend and I were sitting opposite each other in armchairs in front of a large fire, smoking our pipes. Suddenly he lost sight of me, and actually cried out in alarm. I said: "What's wrong?" That broke the spell; there I was, all present and correct.

Did I hear you mutter "Transmutations? Werwolves? Golden Hawks?" Likely enough; it's time we touched on that.

In certain types of animal there appears, if tradition have any weight, to be a curious quality of—sympathy? I doubt if that be the word, but can think of none better—which enables them to assume at times the human form. No. 1—and the rest are also rans—is the seal. There is a whole body of literature about this. Then come wolves, hyaenas, large dogs of the hunting type; occasionally leopards. Tales of cats and serpents are usually the other way round; it is the human (nearly always female) that assumes these shapes by witchcraft. But in ancient Egypt they literally doted on this sort of thing. The papyri are full of formulas for operating such transmutations. But I think that this was mostly to afford some relaxation for the spirit of the dead man; he nipped out of his sarcophagus, and painted the town all the colours of the rainbow in one animal shape or another.

The only experience I have of anything of this sort was when I was in Pacific waters, mostly at Honolulu or in Nippon. I was practising Astral projection.  A sister of the Order who lived in Hong Kong helped me. I was to visit her, and the token of perfect success was to be that I should knock a vase off the mantel-piece. We appointed certain days and hours—with some awkwardness, as my time-distance from her was constantly growing shorter—for me to pay my visit. We got some remarkable results; our records of the interview used to tally with surprising accuracy; but the vase remained intact!

This is not one of my notorious digressions; and this is how transmutation comes into it. I found that by first taking the shape of a golden hawk, and resuming my own form after landing in her "temple"—a room she had fitted ad hoc—the whole operation became incomparably easier. I shall not indulge in hypotheses of why this should have been the case.

A little over four years later—in the meantime we had met and worked at Magick together—we resumed these experiments in a somewhat different form. The success was much greater; but though I could move her, and even any objects which she was touching, I could make no impression on inanimate objects at a distance from her. The behaviour of her dogs, and of her cat, was very curious and interesting. Strangest of all, there appeared those "kinks in Time" which profane science is just beginning to discuss. Example: on one occasion our records of an "interview" agreed with quite extraordinary precision; but, on comparing notes, it was found that owing to some stupid miscalculation of mine, it was all over in Hong Kong some hours before I had started from Honolulu! Again, don't ask me why, or how, or anything!

Talking of kinks in Time, I shall now maintain my aforesaid evil notoriety—the story is totally asynartete from fascinations of whatever variety—by recounting what is by far the most inexplicable set of facts that ever came my way.

In the summer of 1910 e.v. I was living at 125 Victoria Street, in a studio converted into a Temple by means of a Circle, an Altar and the rest. West of the Altar was a big fireplace with a fender settee; the East wall was covered with bookshelves. Enter the late Theodor Reuss, O.H.O. and Frater Superior of the O.T.O. He wanted me to join that Order. I recommended him, in politer language to repeat the Novocastrian Experiment. Undeterred, he insisted: "But you must."

(Now we go back, or forward, I know not which, to a night when I found myself stranded in London. I asked hospitality of a stranger; it was readily afforded. Some hours later my hostess fell asleep; I could not do so; something was nagging me. I suddenly took my notebook, and wrote a certain passage in a certain book, since published.)3

"Must, my foot!" He persisted: "You have published the secret of the 9th degree of O.T.O., and you must take the corresponding oaths." "I have done nothing of the sort. I don't know the secret. I don't want to know it. I don't . . ." He interrupted me; he strode across the room; he plucked a book from the shelves; he opened it; he thrust it under my nose; he pointed out a passage with a minatory index. I began to stammer. "Yes, I wrote that. I don't know what it means; I don't like it; I only put it in because it was written in rather curious circumstances, and I was too lazy—or perhaps a little afraid—to reject it and write what I wanted." He fastened on one point: "You don't know what it means?" I repeated that I did not, even now that he had claimed it as important. He explained it to me, as to a child. I was merely surprised; it didn't sound possible. (Sister, all this while I've been lying to you like an Archbishop; it is connected with fascinations; indeed, it has very little to do with anything else!)

Finally, he won me over, I went down to his G.H.Q., took the Oaths, was installed in the Throne of the X° of O.T.O. as National Sovereign Grand Master General, and began to establish the Order as a going concern.

Well, you say, that is a very simple story, nothing specially hard to believe in it.

True, but consider the dates.

That scene in Victoria Street, is as clear and vivid in my mind, in every detail, as if it were yesterday. That secret is published only in that passage of that book. And—the book was not published until three years later, and from an address of which in 1910 I had not so much as thought of. The date of my adhesion to the O.T.O. (which, by the way, upset every principle and plan that I had ever held) is equally certain by virtue of subsequent published writings.4

Now go away and explain that!

Well I've given you a fair account of some of the principal fascinations; as to the rest, bewitchments, sorceries, inhibitions and all that lot, it is enough if I say that they follow the regular Laws of Magick; in some, fascination proper plays a prominent part; in others, it is barely more than walking on to say "My lord, the carriage waits!" But—even that can be done well or ill, and a small mistake may work a mighty mischief.

Love is the law, love under will.

Yours fraternally,

666

 

1: A "Qabalistic" method of exegesis mentioned by Mathers in the introduction to Kabbalah Unveiled; it involves writing words backwards – T.S.

2: Book 4, part II: "An Interlude" (following the chapter on the Cup) – T.S.

3: The reference is generally believed to be to Chapter 36 of The Book of Lies, a.k.a. Liber XXXVI, the Star Sapphire – T.S.

4: The dates are not as hard to reconcile as Crowley maintains. While the first edition of The Book of Lies claims to have been published in 1913 (the second edition contains the strange remark "There is no joke or hidden meaning in the publisher's imprint") it is advertised as "now ready" in the September 1912 Equinox. Since, according to the account in Confessions, Crowley was already a member of O.T.O. at the time of this alleged incident, Reuss having admitted him to the VII° after the Mathers versus the Equinox trial to spite Mathers and his claims to be head of the Rosicrucian Order, Crowley could be conflating two distinct visits by Reuss. Crowley's O.T.O. charter is dated April 1912 and he only began promoting his O.T.O. branch in the September 1912 Equinox – T.S.