# The War Engine of Liber AL

Posted by <Aion> on Sunday April 23, @11:12PM
from the silicon-ally dept.

The identity of the 'War Engine' noted in Liber AL vel Legis has been hotly debated for many years. This article offers an interpretation and solution to this riddle.

Recently, while meditating upon various aspects of Liber AL in an extremely oblique manner, an apparent key to a fascinating puzzle of the book became clear to me. From where this 'flash' came, I cannot say, and it is very likely that it has occurred to others besides myself, but in some 25 years of playing with Liber AL I have not seen this particular solution to the 'War Engine' puzzle expressed, so here it is. If anyone wishes to publish it, as long as I'm given credit, feel free, just please send me a copy if you will.

We begin with Liber AL, Verse 7, Book III:

7. I will give you a war engine.

The answer? A computer!

Remember, the first real computer was UNIVAC and it was created by the Defense Department of the USA. Its initial sole purpose was to compute missile trajectories so that nuclear missiles could be fitted with appropriately programmed guidance systems; all a matter of history. This was done in the mid 1940s, during and at the end of WW2 – thus the computer is, literally, a war engine!

8. With it you shall smite the peoples; and none shall stand before you.

Continuing this train of thought, all becomes obvious. Computer technology is fast breaking down all national barriers. Even Communist China, which is trying valiantly to restrict the internet and WWW, has been unable to keep digital information from entering its borders and altering people's minds.

Note two words in the Liber AL quote: 'peoples' (different tribes, cultural groups or national groups) and 'smite'. This can mean to strike quickly, it can also mean 'to affect as if by striking.' In other words, it can mean to shock someone or stun them. Can anyone deny that the sudden explosion of computer technology, the Internet, the WWW, cell-phones and cellular technology, satellite-based info-systems technology etc., etc., have not stunned the world? Ideologies, beliefs, political systems and more are being 'smitten' and left in rubble by the simple explosion of digital information. Satellite discs have made it possible for people in the most isolated cultures (Saudi Arabia, for example) to enjoy the full and very shocking fruits of whatever content providers wish to toss at them. And remember, we are at the very beginning of this wave!

9. Lurk! Withdraw! Upon them! this is the Law of the Battle of Conquest: thus shall my worship be about my secret house.

I think there are two ways to take this beginning phrase. First, in terms of binary coding: Lurk=1, Withdraw=0, Upon them=activate or run program. Another view is this: it expresses how one interacts on the Internet. Lurk=One can monitor and watch, read what is happening, surf or stay removed. We use the term 'lurker' all the time on elists. One can also stay completely hidden from others, i.e.: encryption programs, etc. Yet, if one wishes to act, and Liber AL is saying that one should (after a period of lurking and becoming familiar with the technology), then Upon them! Project thy will digitally! This is the law of the battle of conquest.

We fight for the freedom of all beings, against the 'slave masters' – all 'isms', all dictators, mind controllers, etc. If this is true, then it indicates that the next big battle will be for the minds of the peoples, and this war will be a digital informational war, not a guns and bombs war.

Doesn't this follow what is happening? We know that computer technology and the Internet are gifts of Horus (a war engine) because they are the heart of chaos! No one controls the Internet or the spread of computer technology, at least not yet, and in fact the whole thing is something of a model for anarchy-in-evolution. 'my worship' means just that, the communing with Horus who is . . . digital energy! We know Horus is 'force and fire', to me this realistically translates as 'electrons kicking butt.' Microwaves, digital information burning through wires and the aether; isn't this Horus? Thus turning on the computer and hooking up to the internet is, in fact, secret worship.Who knows? Who can trace somebody on the internet, especially if one chooses to be 'hidden?' Any cult, group or sect can unify and empower themselves over the internet, with none being wiser, even during a curfew or martial law!

'My secret house,' it seems to me, is cyberspace. It is Horus' house, his dwelling place, because he is the archetype of this age and it is a realm of pure energy and abstraction. It has stripped much pretense from humans, and such Horus-friendly aspects of human nature such as raw sexuality, frank and open commerce and 'flaming' battles rage daily across cyberspace with few if any successful Osirian controls being imposed (V-chips, etc., aside).

10. Get the stele of revealing itself; set it in thy secret temple – and that temple is already aright disposed – & it shall be your Kiblah for ever. It shall not fade, but miraculous colour shall come back to it day after day. Close it in locked glass for a proof to the world.

Here is, I think, the final proof. If you were a 'preternatural intelligence' (Aiwass) and were trying to communicate concepts that were far beyond what your 'vessel' (Crowley) was capable of understanding, you would use the most basic images possible. Crowley, as we know, had no concept of computers, even TV for that matter. How could he comprehend these things?

I put it that the 'stele of revealing' is a metaphor for a computer. Stele ('a carved or commemorative slab') comes from the Greek 'to set up.' A computer screen is roughly the same shape and size as an Egyptian stele. 'Of revealing' seems plain in meaning if, in fact, it means a computer – what monitor or object could be more revealing?

Set it up in thy secret temple (i.e., your office or sacred space) and it is aright disposed, i.e., it has become a scared place to Horus and a node in the world net of information empowerment that is Horus. Miraculous color shall come back to it day after day . . . of course, because every time you turn it on, here is the miraculous color! It never fades, of course, because it is digitally stored. This can also refer to accessing WWW sites which, again, never fade. Indeed, to someone like Crowley, it would all seem very miraculous.

And, of course, the monitor is 'encased in glass' for proof to the world. It physically becomes a symbol of your membership (few and secret!) in the cyber-world. That is, through it you will prove to yourself and to the world the truth of 'Do what thou wilt' through love, digitally of course.

Well, that is basically it. Any and all thoughts on this hypothesis (or ridicule) are welcome. Aum Ha!

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The Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them.

Re: The War Engine of Liber AL
by <Sophia> on Tuesday April 25, @10:44PM

What, are you crazy..

or a genius?

Sophia

Re: The War Engine of Liber AL
by Mordecai Shapiro on Wednesday April 26, @07:50PM

Your interpretation is quite interesting. I'm of the view that there is no ONE TRUE interpretation, but yours is certainly thought-provoking. On this topic, I recall hearing Grady McMurtry say many years ago that the O.T.O.'s “war engine” is the Gnostic Mass, thus implying that there may be different war engines for different purposes.

Fra. Faustus

Re: The War Engine of Liber AL
by <Krishadawn418> on Sunday April 30, @08:43AM

93-

I think it is probably an error as well as a temptation to come up with “the” answer to anything in the Book of the Law. Much like that old aeonic book, (the bible), the writing is of such a nature that a case can be made for just about any circumstance when someone puts a little time into researching correspondances.

Personally, I think the third chapter is about the Self and the Self only. In fact, I think the whole book is. I think too often people read the book and look outside of Self for meanings. But that is just my opinion.

Re: The War Engine of Liber AL
by <Frank> on Friday May 05, @08:45PM

Krishadawn418\\
\\
You point out a pitfall…\\
\\
»>I think it is probably an error as well as a temptation to come up with “the” answer to anything in the Book of the Law.\\
\\
Then jump right in!!\\
\\
»>Personally, I think the third chapter is about the Self and the Self only.\\
\\
To restrict the meaning of Chapter Three to any purely symbolic level is to devalue its literal interpretation.Like the Torah, CCXX,has manifold intepretations.\\
I find the notion of the Digital Stele was quite useful for my celebrations during April of this year. Locked under glass,yeah that works. Still,he who actually steals the Item proper,will likely be a prophet of some import.\\

Re: The War Engine of Liber AL
by Mordecai Shapiro on Friday May 19, @08:30PM

Actually, I think “a prophet of some import”, that is, Aleister Crowley himself, may have already carried out the “abstruction”. It is well known that he had a facsimile made. In those days it is not out of the question that he could have bribed someone to switch, or let him switch, the facsimile for the real thing. When I saw the Stele in the National Museum in Cairo (ill-ordered house indeed!) in 1983 it was conspicuously brighter in coloration than anything else from the supposed same era (though perhaps that was confirmation of yet another prediction from CCXX).

Re: The War Engine of Liber AL
by <Aion> on Sunday April 30, @12:32PM

93

Before this line of response goes much further, I should clarify.
I do not believe that my article is “the” answer, just one very likely possible one. I'm a great believer in multiple interpretations!
That said, I still think the theory has great validity, but then I would, since Im the author :)

Love & Will

Aion

Re: The War Engine of Liber AL
by <Jasmine> on Monday May 01, @01:25AM

All responses are valid to the individuals thus given the insight. This one is the most original I've heard about, and gives me more food for thought than most of the others.

I always thought that the “war engine” was magick, but perhaps, under Asimov's law, computers count as such to the Crowley of 1904…

Jasmine

Re: The War Engine of Liber AL
by <Malikaie> on Monday May 01, @08:32AM

This interpretation seems quite silly, no?
When you think of all the bible scholars who misrepresent its message, you look at the source of their errs as arising from the failure to read the book from beginning to end; hence, the second word is based and rooted in that of the first, and the second sentence to that of the first, the second chapter to that of the first, and so forth.

If one were to “Paste the sheets from top to bottom” he must only find that there is one concise meaning to all this, as the man says, “there is one truth.” Lest ye are to notice that without man tweaking away at the computer it becomes evidently life-less. Please think before something irrational happens–is the moral of the story. Logic, as Al says in The Revival of Magick, is the ultimate weapon, it is beyond all defenses. Now, all this talk has only proved Aiwass Absolutely Correct. Because. Because. Because.

Re: The War Engine of Liber AL
by Michael Sanborn on Tuesday May 02, @02:14PM

I'm inclined to agree that there is only one truth, though many wouldn't. However, language is a poor tool at best for expressing truth in any comprehensive sense. And so we take many different approaches for using language to suggest truth. We may use imagery and metaphor as in poetry. We may attempt to rigorously limit the range of what we wish our words to point to, as in science and mathematics.

In magick, many of us open our minds in order to accept as wide a range of input as possible, in order to overcome the limitations of our mental structures. Sometimes this results in expressions of mythology, theology, or philosophy. Sometimes we get humor. Often, humor mixes in with the weightier manifestations, and this can be a good thing, in terms of allowing certain realizations that a state of gravity could never see.

In other words, some interpretations may sound silly, but others could just as easily be grumpy.

“Angels can fly because they take themselves lightly. How much more so, He who is king of the angels?” – G. K. Chesterton

Re: The War Engine of Liber AL
by William Mathews on Friday July 21, @08:42AM

I read the comment, and agree totally. I've been studying the book for years, and often wondered about the war engine. You might make note also, that “www” is equivelent to “vau vau vau”, hence the value is 666. Love is the Law. I truly hope to hear from you.

{{:beastbay:Bill%27s_pentagram.bmp?linkonly|Bill's_pentagram.bmp]] 301KB (308278 bytes)\\ \\ \\ **Re: The War Engine of Liber AL**\\ by <focus666> on Saturday August 19, @01:46AM\\ very interesting thoughts.,., thank you for sharing them,.,. very EXCITING and very interesting.,.,especially the "war engine=computer" && smite peoples() parts.,., beautiful interpretation by far,.., but as eris would say (even if she knew she was lying) "I completely disagree" 93 enab.\\ \\ **Re: The War Engine of Liber AL**\\ by <MagickUser> on Sunday October 08, @07:31PM\\ good work.\\ now lets see where we can go with this knowledge.\\ be well\\ MU\\ \\ **Re: The War Engine of Liber AL**\\ by [[mailto:blaze718@hotmail.com|blaze hellstorm]] on Thursday October 26, @08:19PM\\ THE COMMENT.\\ \\ Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.\\ The study of this Book is forbidden. It is wise to destroy this copy after the first reading.\\ \\ Whosoever disregards this does so at his own risk and peril. These are most dire.\\ \\ Those who discuss the contents of this Book are to be shunned by all, as centres of pestilence.\\ \\ All questions of the Law are to be decided only by appeal to my writings, each for himself.\\ \\ There is no law beyond Do what thou wilt.\\ \\ \\ Love is the law, love under will.\\ \\ The priest of the princes,\\ \\ Ankh-f-n-khonsu\\ \\ \\ --------------------------------------------------------------------------------\\ \\ **Re: The War Engine of Liber AL**\\ by <717> on Thursday January 25, @04:17PM\\ 93,\\ \\ I had actually been considering for a while the possibility that the internet might be the first Thelemic society, although I hadn't made the war-engine connection. Even while it's still in its formative years, the internet community is heading in the right direction on its own, without any help from anyone. I believe that this is actually //because// there are so few restrictions on the internet. In normal society we are restricted by our surroundings, and by the standards of society, but the internet allows people to exist without names and faces, so people are forced to judge others by their ideas, since there is nothing else to judge them by. This is how it should be, and the sooner we can get to that as a whole, the better, since it happens to be one of the next steps in our societal evolution. You only have to spend a short amount of time on the internet (i.e. web forums, chat lines, etc.) to notice that respect for intelligence is much higher there than in "real life". Not to mention the almost total freedom of information: anyone can reach any information at any time (and in particular, ideas they may not be familiar with, such as Thelema), and this furthers the "revolution" we've been experiencing as we slowly but surely head towards a libertarian government/society rather than whatever the hell it is we have now. (And eventually no government at all, although we'll have to wait a long time for something like that.)\\ \\ Anyways, nice work on the essay. Thanks!\\ \\ 93 93/93,\\ \\ -717\\ \\ **Re: The War Engine of Liber AL**\\ by [[mailto:Dragon93@pacbell.net|Mark Newcomb]] on Saturday June 02, @08:11PM\\ 93!\\ \\ Interesting theory...\\ \\ It would fit in one way - for "our" modern times.\\ \\ Such a "tool" as a computer could be seen as a "War Engine", however, it could not inflict physical damage normally unless used physically as a weapon itself. For those of us who use computers on a daily basis the computer has become an indispensable tool, however, it is easy for us to forget that most of our "modern" world is not on computers and some have still not even heard about the "Internet".\\ \\ Before the 20th century such a statement also referred to actual machines of War (such as a Catapult, Gattling Gun, etc.).\\ \\ However, I have found that the meaning was more in line with a larger perspective. A "War Engine" was and has been seen as a complete Army. Looking back at references in the History of War such examples can be found.\\ \\ So, how does one actually find the truth of the meaning behind such a statement? I have found that going directly to the source to be the most productive - all else is an assumption, theory, etc.\\ \\ One important Historical Note: The first "war" computer was created by the British during WWII for the purpose of calculating Artillery fire and other "Trajectory" devices. Reference can be found in documents held by the British Secret Service, OSS, secrets of WWII, and Churchill foundation. You can also find it on "The History Channel" web site.\\ \\ 93/93\\ \\ **Re: The War Engine of Liber AL**\\ by [[mailto:T_H_A_M@hotmail.com|Fra. THA;M]] on Sunday June 03, @03:26PM\\ I always interpret Liber Al as a a sound philosophical treatise, and a guide to self-actualization. As a humanist atheist (as well as a fervent Thelemite), I have assumed that Al's aphorisms and polemics are crystallizations of natural psycholgical processess common to every human being. I has never occured to me that Al could referr to anything other than an individuals private solipsism. Whatever is said, I assume is being said to me (as I've always assumed other Thelemites have done).\\ So as an artist, I have chosen my island. My paintings, brushes, and drive to succeed are my war-engines. When I paint I use my talent as a method of social activism. In doing so I fulfill the function of my will and by such make worship to RaHoorKhuit (who is but an element of my own psyche). I could go on and on and on....but I beleive that one discovers one's True Will, the war-engine is a reference to the tools that will enable them to fulfill that function.\\ \\ **war-engineery**\\ by [[mailto:T_H_A_M@hotmail.com|Fra. THA;M]] on Sunday June 03, @03:28PM\\ I always interpret Liber Al as a a sound philosophical treatise, and a guide to self-actualization. As a humanist atheist (as well as a fervent Thelemite), I have assumed that Al's aphorisms and polemics are crystallizations of natural psycholgical processess common to every human being. I has never occured to me that Al could referr to anything other than an individuals private solipsism. Whatever is said, I assume is being said to me (as I've always assumed other Thelemites have done).\\ So as an artist, I have chosen my island. My paintings, brushes, and drive to succeed are my war-engines. When I paint I use my talent as a method of social activism. In doing so I fulfill the function of my will and by such make worship to RaHoorKhuit (who is but an element of my own psyche). I could go on and on and on....but I beleive that one discovers one's True Will, the war-engine is a reference to the tools that will enable them to fulfill that function.\\ \\ **My mother told me that...**\\ by <Lurelurken> on Thursday August 16, @05:51AM\\ ...the internet gives me a splendid opportunity to discuss Liber AL, anonymously, so that noone will know where to look for "that hideous centre of pestilence"!\\ Seriously, computers and the internet are important now; were it not for the internet I should not have gained access to all writings of wisdom that I have read and bought. Yet, I would like to point to the fact that machines, including computers, are tools, and become obsolete as their needfulness is transcended. Or if they become impossible to maintain.\\ \\ Woe! and a thousand times woe to the technichal-support staff at Microsoft when the earth is flooded with water, and the earth swallows up all the user-guide manuals for Windows as a token of it's wrath.\\ \\ Yours Irresponsibly,\\ L.\\ \\ **Re: The War Engine of Liber AL**\\ by [[mailto:Quuthulu@hotmail.com|the house of 418]] on Friday March 01, @07:14PM\\ The first time I read the book it made little sense to me. After going to sleep I had a dream in which I was reading it. Then right after I red it again and it was the simplest sense. It is a letter from the gods to there prophit. I believe this in the fact that it is stated several times. I ponder this no more than that for study is forbidenand great cosequense will fall on them. hence forth and obviously your punishment was dullution and self importance.\\ It is an atrocious thought that the gods would give you any power to interpet this text. Let alone breathe any life into you rotten brains. If you are a true believer in the gods and not some under worked consiuosness you will realize that the gods would not outstretch there words in writing but in the light of a truely illuminated idividual.\\ \\