Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
In your well-worn copy of the Bagh-i-muattar you have no doubt triply underlined that great verse:
"Who hath the How is careless of the Why,"
which shows how cunning I was to induce you to put all your "why" questions first.
But now let us get down to orichalc taques, as the Norman peasant might say.
The first and absolutely essential task for the Aspirant is to write his Magical Record.
You know some elementary Mechanics—the Triangle of Forces, and all that. Well, if we have a body acted on by two equal forces, one pulling it East, the other south, it will tend to move in a south-Easterly direction. But if the "south" force is (say) twice as strong, it will move south of South-East.
Now you, sitting in your study reading this letter, got there and were compelled to do that, as the result of the impact upon you of countless quintillions of forces of every kind. I don't expect you to discover all these and calculate and report them; but I want you to set down all the main currents. For so you should be able to get some sort of answer to the question Where do we go from here, boys?
I am not a guesser; and I cannot judge you, or advise you, or help you, unless and until I know the facts as thoroughly as you are able to allow me to do.
The construction of this Record is, incidentally, the first step in the practice called Sammasati, and leads to the acquisition of the Magical Memory—the memory of your previous incarnations. So there is another reason, terrifically cogent, for writing this Magical Record as clearly and as fully as you can.
This best explanation of how to set about the task is given in Liber Thisharb.
Some of this sounds rather advanced and technical; but it ought to give you the general idea. You should begin with your parents and the family traditions; the circumstances of your birth and education; your social position; your financial situation; your physique, health, illnesses; your vita sexualis; your hobbies and amusements; what you are good at, what not; how you came to be interested in the Great Work; what (if you have been on false trails, Toshophists, Anthroposophagists, sham Rosicrucians, etc.) has been "your previous condition of servitude;" how you found me, and decided to enlist my aid.
That, by itself, helps you to understand yourself, and me to understand you.
From that point the keeping of the Record is quite easy. All you have to do is to put down what practices you mean to begin, how you get on with them from day to day, and (at intervals) what I have to say about your progress.
Remember always that we have no use for piety, for vague chatter, for guesswork; we are as strictly scientific as biologists or chemists.
We ban emotion from the start; we demand perception; and (as you will see later on) even perception is not acceptable until we have made sure of its bases by a study of what we call the "tendencies."
That is all about the Magical Record; the way is now clear to set forth our Method. This is two-fold. (1) Yoga, introversion, (2) Magick, extroversion. (These are rough but useful connotations.) The two seem, at first glance, to be opposed; but, when you have advanced a little in both, you find that the concentration learnt in Yoga is of immense use in attaining the mental powers necessary in magick; on the other hand, the discipline of Magick is of the greatest service in Yoga.
Let me remark, by the way, that to my mind one of the greatest beauties, and most encouraging confirmations of the validity of our system, is the matchless harmony of its elements. Always, when we pursue any one path to its end, we find that it has become one with some other path which at the outset appeared utterly irreconcilable with it.
("Write down that the tearing apart is the crushing together" comes from an actual experience. See Liber 418, The Vision and the Voice, which teems with similar passages, and is itself an outstanding example of the unity of the Yogic and the Magical methods.)
To study Yoga, you have my Book 4 Part I and my Eight Lectures on Yoga. Then there is Vivekananda's Raja Yoga and several little-known Hindu writers; these latter are very practical and technical, but one really needs to be a Hindu to make much use of them. The former is very good indeed, if your remember to switch off when he slides into sloppiness, which luckily is not often.
"Being furnished with complete armour and armed, he is similar to the goddess.2
Of other writers, you have The Book of the Sacred Magic of Abramelin the Mage, and any of the works of Eliphaz Lévi. But that's all.
But—I suppose you knew all this long ago. It may help if I try to expound the essence of these two Methods in very simple language, and very different language. By contrast and comparison, you should be able, without reading even one of all those books, to get a perfectly clear idea in perspective of "what's coming to you!"
The process of analysing, developing and controlling the mind is the essence of all Yoga practices.
Magick explores and learns to control those regions of Nature which lie beyond the objects of sense. Reaching the highest parts of these regions, called the divine, one proceeds by the exaltation (? = intoxication? Yes, of a sublime sort) of the consciousness to identify oneself with those "celestial" Beings.
In Yoga, various practices prevent the body and its functions from interrupting the mental process. Then, one inhibits that process itself: the stilling of "thoughts" allows one to become aware of men- tal functions beyond the intellectual; these functions have their own peculiar properties and powers. Each sheath, as one goes deeper, is discarded as "unreal;" finally one apprehends that nothing which is the only true and real form of existence. (But then it does not exist: in these regions of thought words always become nightmares of self- contradiction. This is as it should be.)
In Magick, on the contrary, one passes through the veil of the exterior world (which, as in Yoga, but in another sense, becomes "unreal" by comparison as one passes beyond) one creates a subtle body (instrument is a better term) called the body of Light; this one develops and controls; it gains new powers as one progresses, usually by means of what is called "initiation:" finally, one carries on almost one's whole life in this Body of Light, and achieves in its own way the mastery of the Universe.
The first step in Yoga is "Keep still."
The first step in Magick is "Travel beyond the world of the senses."
There, that is the whole business in a nutshell, and expressed so that anyone, however ignorant of the subject, may grasp the essentials (I hope).
Love is the law, love under will.
1: For the whole history of the conception and execution of the monsterpiece known as Book 4, see the editor's introduction to the 1994 and 1997 Samuel Weiser edition, Magick: Book 4 parts I-IV, popularly known as the "Blue Brick." Crowley had originally intended part IV, "ΘΕΛΗΜΑ—the Law" to comprise The Book of the Law and his final commentary thereon. Symonds and Grant erroneously identified it with the edition of the commentaries which they edited (Magical and Philsophical Commentaries on The Book of the Law, Montreal: 93 Publishing, 1974). The Equinox of the Gods was not designated as part of Book 4 on first publication, rather as Equinox vol. III no. 3; as far as I am aware, this letter of MWT is the first published reference to it as Book 4 part IV – T.S.
2: A quote from the Chaldæan Oracles, as cited by Proclus in Platonic Theology. Fragment 171 in the Westcott edition. The goddess in question is probably Hekaté. Johnston in Hekate Soteira renders it "For I have come, a goddess in full armour and with weapons," making Hekaté herself the speaker – T.S.
© Ordo Templi Orientis. Original key entry by W.E. Heidrick for O.T.O. HTML coding by Frater T.S. for Nu Isis Working Group.