Non mihi subtilem calamum si cedat Apelles
Quae tibi sunt dotes, posse notare putem.
AT first sight it may appear to the casual reader of this essay, that the superscription on its cover is both froward and perverse, and contrary to the sum of human experience. This however I trust he will find is not the case, and, as Ianthe, will discover that after the mystic union has been consummated, the beautiful daughter of Ligdus and Telethusa was as acceptable a young husband as ever wooed nymph on the shaded slopes of Ida.
Much has been written concerning stars, both terrestrial and celestial, and not a little regarding that capricious star which gleamed over the humble manger-bed of the Son of Man.
Dark seas of blood have long since lapped that star of the morning into the crimson oblivion of day, whose empurpled strife has also rumbled into the distance as the droning of some drowsy fire-finger on the sleeping parchment of life, murmuring and moaning as the wind-kissed mouth of a dreamy drum. Yet why should we still listen for those subtle sounds which have wearily danced out their slow saraband of sorrow. Once Orphic they arose emparadising the cavernous depths of Hell, to sink into a dirge-like Niobe death-chaunt, bewailing the thirteen children of their begetting, rising once more in the song of Ligeia, enticing men to her mire, and at length to die still-voiced as the daughter of Dis, whose ghostly fingers sinking clutch the frozen reeds of that slough in which she had so long wallowed.
Long have we peered, crouching on the watch-tower of our minds, through the darkness of ignorance lit alone by the northern lights of folly, till our scorched eyes falling as slags upon our hearts, a light celestial hath arisen from out the eyeless sockets of Eternity. A day-star, to flash forth into the west, winged and wonderful. A Pharos of gleaming hope lighting our way across the boisterous ocean of life to our haven of eternal rest.
The fools and the faulty, the wise and the wizened read and tremble before the might of its majesty, for into its flaming horrent hath it woven and braided the ashen locks of wisdom, the dyed curls of folly, and all the glittering circlets of golden youth. All is transcended, all is unified and transcendental; neither is there joy nor laughter, sorrow nor weeping, for all is as a divine mastery of Truth and Knowledge to those who worship the new-born God, like the Magi of the East, with gold, and frankincense, and myrrh. Above whose heptagonal cradle flashes the magic star Lusanaher, that great star Cor Leonis, which heralds and directs our reverent pilgrimage.
The Star has arisen; let us like men drop the silly pretence of an ostrich-like self-delusion that the cindery asteroid still lights our way; let us rather apply our mental spectroscope to the analysis of its rays. There shall we perchance discover the blending of all opposites in one harmonious light; thence shall we travel to the holy and humble house of the heart, wherein our God is born, whose name is ineffable, a Crown of Glory, exalted forever above the Balance of Righteousness and Truth.
As author of the following essay to you my readers, I can but say with the four beasts of the Apocalypse: “Come and See.”
“Behold the Lion… hath prevailed to open the Book and to loose the seven seals thereof.” For until now “No man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the Book, neither to look thereon.” Yet through the astrolabe of his mind and in the alembic of his heart Aleister Crowley has opened the book, breaking not only the first six seals, but the seventh also. For those who read and understand, the heavens shall depart as a scroll, and the stars shall fall, and the mountains be moved out of their places; and they shall become as kings in a new kingdom, and be crowned with that Crown which passes Understanding.
I have attempted in the following seven chapters to interpret the Book of the Seven Seals, and to paint its splendour, as an artist would incarnadine his canvas with the red blood of his mistress, love-kissed from the bloom of her crimson lips. I have not, as Samuel, hacked and hewn Agag into pieces before the Lord in Gilgal; but rather Elijah-like have called upon Wisdom and Understanding so that my sacrifice, and even the wood and stone of the altar, and the water which floweth about it, may be licked up by the fire of the great Coronation.
As another Ariadne I here offer this work to my readers as a twisted clue of silk and hemp to guide them safely through the labyrinthine mysteries of poetry and magic, whose taurine crags hug the blue sky, amorous as the kisses of Pasiphae; across the Elysian fields of myrtle and asphodel, up the eagle-crested slopes of Olympus, and over the shining sun-scorched sands of Ammon, tawny and silken as the crouching form of some colossal lion, to the cool groves of Eleusis child-like dreaming in the bosom of silvery Attica by the blue Ægean sea.
Yet those who would drink deeper of the wine of this magical Eucharist, spilt with due reverence on the pages of this volume, they must seek it in the Sibylline verses of those books from which this one has drawn its life-blood. And they are:
By which, if they have eyes to perceive, they will become sacramental and holy, through the fire-baptism of a new birth, and will hold the key of all mysteries locked in the esoteric sign of the Sabbatic Goat, the Baphomet of Mendes, the signatures of Solve and Coagula — “The Everlasting Yea and Nay.”
My faults are more numerous than I care to think of; yet it is without fear or trepidation that I offer this essay to the public. It has been a difficult task. In simple words and complex symbols Crowley has written with St. Leo— “Know, O man, thy dignity;” and this I have in this essay attempted to explain, though many I am afraid will misunderstand me, and more still misinterpret my modest efforts. For these latter ones I can but exclaim:
“Caeterum scis quid ego cogitem, scortum scorteum; Di tibi dent, nudosque lares inopemque senectam et longas hyemes perpetuam que sitim.”
And for those former, bid them contemplate well the words of St. Augustine:
“Such as the love of man is, such is he himself. Dost thou love the earth? Thou art earth. Dost thou love God? What shall I say? Thou art God.”