The Formula of the Cup of Babalon

By Michael Osiris Snuffin (2001)


Of the Thoth tarot trump, The Chariot, Aleister Crowley writes: “The central and most important feature of the card is its centre--The Holy Grail.”1 So important is this Cup that Crowley’s Charioteer is charged with only one task: "His only function is to bear the Holy Grail."2 We know from Crowley’s Magick in Theory and Practice and other works that the Holy Grail is synonymous with the Cup of Babalon. However, the formula of the Cup of Babalon, that which describes its function and purpose, is never clearly defined. To understand the importance of the Grail/Cup, we must investigate the formula.

Before we proceed, it is important to understand the nature of Babalon. Babalon is the Lady of the City of Pyramids, the destination of the adept crossing the Abyss. She is the Thelemic personification of Binah, the Great Mother. The Cup of Babalon symbolizes her womb, the Universal Womb spoken of in the Gnostic Mass “wherein all men are begotten, and in which they shall rest.”3

The formula of the Cup of Babalon is revealed in the first six verses of “Liber Cheth vel Vallum Abiegni Sub Figura CLVI”, one of the Holy Books of Thelema:

1. This is the secret of the Holy Graal, that is the sacred vessel of our Lady the Scarlet Woman, Babalon the Mother of Abominations, the bride of Chaos, that rideth upon our Lord the Beast.

2. Thou shalt drain out thy blood that is thy life into the golden cup of her fornication.

3. Thou shalt mingle thy life with the universal life. Thou shalt keep not back one drop.

4. Then shall thy brain be dumb, and thy heart beat no more, and all thy life shall go from thee; and thou shalt be cast out upon the midden, and the birds of the air shall feed upon thy flesh, and thou bones shall whiten in the sun.

5. Then shall the winds gather themselves together, and bear thee up as it were a little heap of dust in a sheet that hath four corners, and they shall give it unto the guardians of the abyss.

6. And because there is no life therein, the guardians of the abyss shall bid the angels of the winds pass by. And the angels shall lay thy dust in the City of Pyramids, and the name thereof shall be no more.4

The blood the adept drains into the Cup symbolizes the personality or ego that must be annihilated in order to traverse the Abyss. As stated in Liber ABA, “...the Ego-idea must be ruthlessly rooted out before Understanding can be attained.”5

This blood is sometimes referred to as the blood of the saints, a saint being one who sacrifices everything, even his life, in devotion to a deity or the principle of enlightenment. “Blessed are the saints, that their blood is mingled in the cup, and can never be separate any more.”6

To aid him in accomplishing this task, Liber Cheth advises the adept to “divest thyself of all goods,” specifically identified in the text as wealth, health and love. The Cup of Babalon is the Universal Womb, and the blood therein is the Water of Universal Life. When the adept mingles his blood with the blood in the cup, he dissolves his ego in the Universal Life.7 The annihilation of the Ego must be absolute or else there will be dire consequences:

11. For if thou dost not this with thy will, then shall We do this despite thy will. So that thou attain to the Sacrament of the Graal in the Chapel of Abominations.

12. And behold! if by stealth thou keep unto thyself one thought of thine, then thou shalt be cast out into the abyss for ever; and thou shalt be the lonely one, the eater of dung, the afflicted in the Day of Be-with-Us.8

When all of the ego-blood is drained from the adept, he dies and his body is left to decay in the Sun. The fourth verse of Liber Cheth describes the alchemical process of putrefaction, the spiritual or symbolic death of gross matter that must occur in order for the soul or spirit to be purified and reborn.

The little pile of dust that remains is the essential essence of the adept, his True self. It is the “life which has no consciousness of ‘I’”, now no longer fettered by the ego. The dust is gathered in a sheet with four corners, which represents the position of the Abyss between the ideal and the actual in a geometrical sense. For the sheet is a plane, that which is attributed to Binah in the Naples Arrangement,9 yet it has four corners, and is thus a square, a symbol of Chesed and manifestation.

This dust is carried by the “angels of the winds” and given to the guardians of the abyss, and because there “no life therein,” the guardians allow it to pass to the City of the Pyramids in Binah. There the adept is

“...received and reconstructed in the Third Order, as a Babe in the womb of our Lady BABALON, under the Night of PAN, to grow up to be Himself wholly and truly as He was not previously...”10

The adept is reborn in the Cup of Babalon from the Water of Universal Life. His name, a symbol of the ego or “I” consciousness, “shall be no more,” for in Binah the adept becomes NEMO, Latin for “no man.”

The formula of the Cup of Babalon can be summarized as follows: The adept drains his blood (ego) into the Cup of Babalon, mingling it with the Water of Universal Life. He dies and putrefies into a little pile of dust (the True Self). This dust is carried across the Abyss, and because there is “no life therein” (no ego), the dust is allowed to pass to Binah. There the adept is reborn as NEMO in the Cup (womb) of Babalon.

This completes our brief analysis of the formula of the Cup of Babalon. Further examination and contemplation of The Chariot and Liber Cheth is highly recommended for a more perfect understanding of the Mysteries of Babalon.


1 Crowley, Aleister. The Book of Thoth, pages 85-86.
2 Ibid.
3 The Gnostic Mass (Liber ABA, page 573).
4 Liber Cheth is found in Liber ABA, pages 651-652.
5 Liber ABA, page 78.
6 12th Aethyr of Liber 418 (Equinox IV:2, page 151).
7 See Atu XVII, The Star.
8 Liber ABA, page 651.
9 The Book of Thoth, pages 12-16.
10 One Star in Sight (Liber ABA, page 483).

Copyright (c) 2010 Michael Osiris Snuffin

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