I had no special magical object in going to Algiers, which I reached on November 17th. As my chela, I took Frater Omnia Vincam, a neophyte of the A∴ A∴ disguised as Victor Neuburg. We merely wanted to rough it a bit in a new and interesting corner of the planet of which we were parasites. We hastily bought a few provisions, took the tram to Arba and after lunch started south, with no particular objective beyond filling our lungs with pure air and renewing the austere rapture of sleeping on the ground and watching the stars, serenely silent above us, till the face of sleep, kissing our eyes, hid them from us in her heavy and holy hair. On the twenty-first we reached Aumale, after two nights in the open and one at a hovel that may have looked so tired on account of its sisypean struggle to pretend to be an hotel.
I cannot imagine why or how the idea came to me. Perhaps I happened to have in my rucksack one of my earliest magical notebooks, where I had copied with infinite patience the Nineteen Calls or Keys obtained by Sir Edward Kelly from certain angels and written from his dictation by Queen Elizabeth's astrologer with whom he was working. The sixth book of their magical workings was translated by Casaubon and is one of the very few genuine and interesting works of Magick of any period. Much of their work still defies explanation, though I and Frater Semper Paratus, an Adeptus Major of A∴ A∴, have spent much time and research upon it and cleared up many obscure points.
The fact which stamps this working as sincere is this: over one hundred squares filled with letters were obtained — in a manner which no one has quite understood. Dee would have one or more of these tables (as a rule 49×49), some full, others lettered only on alternate squares, before him on a writing table. Kelly would sit at what they called the Holy Table and gaze into a “shew-stone” which, with some of the talismans on the table, may be seen in the British museum. Kelly would see an angel in the shew-stone, who would point with a rod to letters on one of these charts in succession. Kelly would report, “He points to column 6, rank 31” and so on, apparently not mentioning the letter, which Dee found and wrote down from the “table” before him. This seems to imply that Kelly did not know what words would be formed. If he did, we must assume that he knew the position of each of the 2,401 letters in each of the tables, which seems a somewhat surprising accomplishment. When the angel had finished, the message was
rewritten backwards. (It had been dictated backwards as being too dangerous to communicate forwards — each word being in its nature so powerful that its direct communication would have evoked forces which were not wanted at that time.)
These Keys or Calls being rewritten backwards, there appeared conjurations in a language which they called “Enochian” or Angelic. It is not a jargon; it has a grammar and syntax of its own. It is very much more sonorous, stately and impressive than even Greek or Sanskrit, and the English translation, though in places difficult to understand, contains passages of a sustained sublimity that Shakespeare, Milton and the Bible do not surpass. To condemn Kelly as a cheating charlatan — the accepted view — is simply stupid. If he invented Enochian and composed this superb prose, he was at worst a Chatterton with fifty times that poet's ingenuity and five hundred times his poetical genius.
Can the Wings of the Wind understand your voices of Wonder? O Ye! the second of the First! whom the burning flames have framed in the depth of my Jaws! Whom I have prepared as cups for a wedding, or as flowers in their beauty for the chamber of Righteousness! Stronger are your feet than the barren stone; and mightier are your voices than the manifold winds! For you are become a building such as is not, save in the Mind of the All-Powerful.
I prefer to judge Kelly from this rather than from stale scandal of people to whom any Magician, as such, smelt of sulphur. If, on the other hand, Kelly did not write this, he may of course have been a common ignorant scoundrel, one of whose abnormalities was a faculty for seeing and hearing sublimities, just as a burglar or business man might be able to describe St. Paul's Cathedral far better than the dean.
There are nineteen of these Keys: the first two conjuring the element called Spirit; the next sixteen invoke the four Elements, each subdivided into four; the nineteenth, by changing two names, may be used to invoke any one of what are called the thirty “Aethyrs” or “Aires”. What these are is difficult to say. In one place we are told that they are “Dominion extending in ever widening circles without and beyond the Watch Towers of the Universe”, these Watch Towers composing a cube of infinite magnitude. Elsewhere, we find that the names of the angels which govern them are contained in the Watch Towers themselves; but (most disconcerting disenchantment!) they are identified with various countries of the earth, Styria, Illyria, etc., as if aire simply meant clime. I have always maintained the first definition. I suspect Kelly of finding Dee unsupportable at times, with his pity, pedantry, credulity, respectability and lack of humour. I could
understand that he broke out and made fun of the old man by spouting nonsense.
The genuineness of these Keys, altogether apart from any critical observation, is guaranteed by the fact that anyone with the smallest capacity for Magick finds that they work. Prove “The Cenci” to have been forged by Hogg and conclude that Hogg was therefore a knave, well; but do not try to argue that, Hogg not being a poet, The Cenci must be drivel. I had used these Keys a great deal and always with excellent effect. In Mexico I thought I would discover for myself what the Aethyrs really were, by invoking them in turn by means of the nineteenth Key and, skrying in the spirit vision, judge their nature by what I saw and heard. I investigated the first two Keys on November 14th and 17th, 1900. “The Vision and the Voice” was mysterious and terrific in character. What I saw was not beyond my previous experience, but what I heard was as unintelligible to me as Blake to a Baptist. I was encouraged by the evident importance of these results, but I found that I could no more force myself to go on to the twenty-eighth Aethyr than I could have thrown myself from a cliff. I accepted the rebuff; but, while dismissing the matter from my mind, managed to preserve the record throughout my wanderings. I had not thought of continuing this work for nearly nine years; but at Aumale a hand suddenly smote its lightning into my heart, and I knew that now, that very day, I must take up “The Vision and the Voice” from the point where I had laid it down.
We accordingly bought a number of notebooks and after dinner I invoked the twenty-eighth Aethyr by means of the nineteenth Key. When we came to compare it with those of the twenty-ninth and thirtieth Aethyrs, we found that it exhibited the same peculiarities of subject and style. This is true also of the twenty-seventh Aethyr, and so to the twenty-fourth, yet there is a continuous advance towards coherence, both in each Aethyr itself and as regards its neighbour. The subject shows progressive solemnity and sublimity, as well as tendency to fit in with those conceptions of the cosmos, those mystic laws of nature, and those ideas of transcendental truth which had been already foreshadowed in The Book of the Law and the more exalted of my trances.
The deduction is not that my individuality was influencing the character of the vision more and more as I got, so to speak, into my stride, for the interpretation of my Algerian Work made clear the meaning of the utterly obscure oracles obtained in Mexico. It became evident indeed that what stopped me in 1900 was simply that my Grade did not entitle me to go further than the twenty-ninth. I was, in fact, told that only a Master of the Temple can penetrate beyond a certain point. Of course anyone might use the Key for any Aethyr he chose, but he would either get no vision at all or
expose himself to deception, and that probably of the deadly dangerous kind.
God is never so turned away from man, and never so much sendeth him new paths, as when he maketh ascent to divine speculations or works in a confused or disordered manner, and as it adds, with unhallowed lips, or unwashed feet. For of those who are thus negligent, the progress is imperfect, the impulses are vain, and the paths are dark.
I solemnly warn the world that, while courage is the first virtue of the Magician, presumptuous and reckless rashness has no more connection with it than a caricature of the ex-Kaiser with Julius Caesar. It is composed partly of sham pride prompted by self-love and self-doubt; partly by the insane impulse which the extremity of fear excites. There are plenty of V.C.'s who won the cross, not “for valour”, but for lack of self-control over their crisis of cowardice. Discipline automatically made running away impossible; the only way out was to rush forward and do whatever their innate instinct suggested. I know two V.C.'s myself who have no memory whatever of the act that won them the cross.
Similar psychology often makes young Magicians forget that to dare must be backed by to will and to know, all three being ruled by to keep silence. Which last means many things, but most of all so to control oneself that every act is done noiselessly; all disturbance means clumsiness or blundering. The soldier may happen not to be hit as he carries his wounded comrade through the barrage, but there is no luck in Magick. We work in a fluid world, where every moment is compensated at once. Light, sound and electricity may be shut out, and so the effects of human thought, speech and action may divert or delay their action, but Magick, like gravitation, knows no obstacle. It is true that one can lift a fallen flower from the floor and keep it on a table; but the forces are
at work all the time, and the action has been completely compensated by the redistribution of the stresses on every material object in the whole universe, by the shifting of the centre of gravity of the cosmos, as my muscles sway from one state of equilibrium to another, and the flower exerts its energies from the mahogany instead of the carpet.
Presumption in Magick is, therefore, sure to be punished — swiftly and justly. The error is one of the worst because it attracts all these forces which, being themselves weak, are made malignant by pain and find their principal solace in taking it out of anyone they feel they can bully. Worse still, the hysterical expansion of the ego means the deepest possible treason to truth. It invites obsession by every deceitful demon. They puff up the pride of the fool still further; they flatter every foible, exhort him to acts of the most
ridiculous kind, induce him to talk the most raving rubbish and teach him to think himself the greatest man in the world — nay, not a man, but a god. He scores every fiasco as a success, takes every trifle as a token either of his sacrosanct sovereignty or of the malice of hell whose hounds have been mustered to martyr him. His megalomania swings from maniacal exaltation to melancholia, with delusions of persecution.
I have seen several cases of exactly this kind caused by so seemingly trivial a mistake as carelessness in consecrating the Circle for an evocation of an inferior spirit; claiming a Grade in the Order without having made sure of having passed every test perfectly at every point; presuming to instruct a probationer in his work before becoming a neophyte; omitting essential points of ritual as troublesome formalities; or even making excuses for error of the kind by which a man persuades himself that his faults are really due to the excess of his merits.
I remember one man who attributed his failure to perform Asana properly to his exceptional physical energy. His body, said he, was endowed with such force that he must be meant to move it — it was all very well for ordinary men to try to sit still, but for him it was clearly an unnatural notion. Five years later, he told me he had become the strongest man on the planet and begged me to empty my revolver at his chest if I didn't mind the bullets rebounding and breaking my windows. I spared my windows; besides, I hate to clean my revolver. He then offered to take me downstairs and watch him shoulder a motor car and run down the road with it. I told him that I knew he could do it and wouldn't insult him by asking for proof. He went away, prancing and purring. Next day I had a postcard from him and guessed from his shaky upstrokes what was the matter. It chimed in with his talk. A month passed, then I heard that he had been diagnosed as suffering from general paralysis of the insane. The man who had been singled out from the herd for splendour of strength could not move a muscle; he rolled from side to side with regular rhythm. The man who boasted could no longer speak; he uttered a long monotonous howl, hardly varying by a note, hour after hour.
It is such cases that keep me constantly on my guard against being “too proud to fight” — or to sweep the floor, if it comes to that. My Grade as a Magus of A∴ A∴, my office as the Logos of the Aeon, the Prophet chosen to proclaim the Law which will determine the destinies of this planet for an epoch, singles me out in a sense, puts me in a class which contains only seven other names in the whole of human history. No possible personal attainment could have done this. There are countless initiates, especially in Asia, who have scaled very summit in the range of spiritual success. I should unquestionably have become insane from satisfaction at the fulfilment of my utmost aspirations having been granted to me
so superlatively beyond imagination conceived, but for (as I said before) “my sense of humour and my common sense”.
I never let myself forget the rocks which have baffled me: the Coolin Crack on Beachy Head (curse it!), the direct way up the Deep Ghyll Pillar (damn it!), the east face of the Dent Blanche (blast it!). I hardly every plume myself even on my poetry unless I am very depressed. I prefer to dwell on my ignorance of various subjects — a quite inexhaustible list; and the superficiality of my knowledge of the few of which I know what little I do. I meditate on my mistakes in dealing with mankind, my innocence of their most obvious characteristics. My simplicity is such that I often wonder if I am not half-witted. On practically every matter which men who can hardly read, and have certainly never read a book worth reading, understand with every part of their minds better than I understand with any part of mine, even in what I have studied with sweat, at the cost of eyesight, sleep and digestion.
This digression has been permissible because of its pertinence to my Algerian initiation. I may now resume the narrative.
My method of obtaining “The Vision and the Voice” was as follows: I had with me a great golden topaz (set in a Calvary cross of six squares, made of wood, painted vermilion), engraved with a Greek cross of five squares charged with the Rose of forty-nine petals. I Held this as a rule in my hand. After choosing a spot where I was not likely to be disturbed, I would take this stone and recite the Enochian Key, and, after satisfying myself that the invoked forces were actually present, made the topaz play a part not unlike that of the looking-glass in the case of Alice.
I had learned not to trouble myself to travel to any desired place in the astral body. I realized that space was not a thing in itself, merely a convenient category (one of many such) by reference to which we can distinguish objects from each other. When I say I was in any Aethyr, I simply mean in the state characteristic of, and peculiar to, its nature. My senses would thus receive the subtle impressions which I had trained them to record, so becoming cognizant of the phenomena of those worlds as ordinary men are of this. I would describe what I saw and repeat what I heard and Frater O.V. would write down my words and incidentally observe any phenomena which struck him as peculiar. (For instance: I would at times pass into a deep trance so that many minutes might elapse between two successive sentences.)
Such observations may be contemptuously dismissed as imaginary; but having already shown that all knowledge is equally an illusion, the thought is no inhibition. Yet there are different degrees of falsity and critical methods which are valid within their capacity. Thus we trust our experience of perspective to correct the crude statement of our eyesight that the furthest house in a suburban street is smaller in various ways. They may also verify our visions in various ways. They must be coherent and consistent with themselves;
they must not contradict the conclusions of other experiences whose warrants are identical; and before we admit that they possess any value, they must increase our knowledge in such ways as would convince us in ordinary life that our interlocutor was an individual other than ourselves, and his information verifiably such as we could not have gained otherwise. It may seem as if such conditions could never be fulfilled, but it is quite easy to formulate them, and such visions as these under discussion are full of internal evidence of their authenticity.
Let me give one example. The Angel of the twenty-seventh Aethyr said: “The word of the Aeon is MAKHASHANAH.” I immediately discredited him; because I knew that the word of the Aeon was, on the contrary, ABRAHADABRA. Inquiry by the Holy Cabbala then showed me that the two words had the same numerical value, 418. The apparent blunder was thus an absolute proof that the Angel was right. Had he told me that the word was ABRAHADABRA, I should have thought nothing of it, arguing that my imagination might have put the words in his mouth.
Let me illustrate the strength of such proof by material analogy. Suppose I receive a telegram, signed Jobson (my lawyer), “Your house has been burnt down.” If I already know this from the caretaker, Jobson is merely confirming a known fact of which he and many others may be aware. The telegram might have been forged. Equally, if I have not heard from other sources, or if I have heard, on the contrary, that all is well, the telegram carries no conviction; it establishes a prima facie case for inquiry: no more. But if such inquiry confirms the telegram, it becomes probable that Jobson really dispatched it, though not with complete certainty; short of seeing him personally, the genuiness of the message is only a presumption.
Suppose, however, that I read “London is burnt down. Jobson.” The statement is incredible as it stands. Jobson and I, however, have a secret understanding known to nobody else that any proper name in our communications shall stand for something else, discoverable by taking a = 1, b = 2, and so on, thus giving a number whose meaning is to be bound in a code, in which each item of my estate represents a number. He has never used the word “London” before. I add it up, refer to the code and learn that London must mean my house. Now, whether I have already heard the news or no, and even if investigation proves the information to be false, I may at least feel sure that Jobson himself, and nobody else, was the author, If, in addition, it proves true, I may be sure that on this point his knowledge exceeds my own. Suppose, then, that the telegram proceeds to inform me of a number of other matters which I have no immediate means of verifying. I shall nevertheless be justified in assuming their authenticity and acting on the advice in just the measure of my confidence in Jobson's integrity and ability.
Such is one of the simplest methods of criticizing the data afforded by
visions. An isolated case need not convince one completely, and it would be ridiculous to argue from a single test, however striking, that all communications purporting to come from the same source must be genuine an authoritative. It is the cumulative effect of repeated tests over a period of years that gives confidence. Incidentally, one acquires by experience the faculty of knowing by instinct whether any given sight or sound is genuine; just as one learns to recognize the style of a writer or painter so that the most plausible imitations fail to deceive, hard as it may be to say in so many words what strikes one as suspicious.
Now, The Book of the Law guarantees itself by so closely woven a web of internal evidence of every kind, from Cabbalistic and mathematical proofs, and those depending on future events and similar facts, undeniably beyond human power to predict or to produce, that it is unique. The thirty Aethyrs being, however, only second in importance, though very far away, to that Book, the Lords of Vision were at pains to supply internal evidence, more than amply sufficient that the revelations therein contained may be regarded as reliable. No doubt the proof appears stronger to me than to anyone else, because I alone know exactly what happened; also because many passages refer to matters personal to myself, so that only I can fully appreciate the dovetailings. Just so a man can never prove to another the greatness of Shelley as fully as he feels it himself, since his certainty partly depends on the secret and incommunicable relations of the poet with his own individual idiosyncrasies.
I admit that my visions can never mean to other men as much as they do to me. I do not regret this. All I ask is that my results should convince seekers after truth that there is beyond doubt something worth while seeking, attainable by methods more or less like mine. I do not want to father a flock, to be the fetish of fools and fanatics, or the founder of a faith whose followers are content to echo my opinions. I want each man to cut his own way through the jungle.
We walked steadily to Bou Saâda, invoking the Aethyrs one by one, at convenient times and places, or when the spirit moved me. As a rule, we did one Aethyr every day. We reached Bou Saâda on November 30th; on December 8th we started through the desert for Biskra, which we reached on December 16th, completing the work on the nineteenth. Our adventures will be told later on.
By the time I reached Bou Saâda and came to the twentieth Aethyr, I began to understand that these visions were, so to speak, cosmopolitan. They brought all systems of magical doctrine into harmonious relation. The symbolism of Asiatic cults; the ideas of the Cabbalists, Jewish and Greek; the arcana of the gnostics; the pagan pantheon, from Mithras to Mars; the mysteries of ancient Egypt; the initiations of Eleusis; Scandinavian saga;
Celtic and Druidical ritual; Mexican and Polynesian traditions; the mysticism of Molinos no less than that of Islam, fell into their proper places without the slightest tendency to quarrel. The whole of the past Aeon appeared in perspective and each element thereof surrendered its sovereignty to Horus, the Crowned and Conquering Child, the Lord of the Aeon announced in The Book of the Law.
These visions thus crystallized in dramatic form the theoretical conclusion which my studies of comparative religion had led me to adumbrate. The complexity of the whole vast subject resolved itself into shining simplicity, I saw with my own eyes and heard with my own ears the truth in terms of Time. I understood directly that the formula of Osiris necessarily assumed all sorts of apparently incompatible forms as it was applied to different conditions of race, climate and similar conditions. I saw also that Horus might reconcile all religions, it being possible now to bring all countries to agree on a few fundamental principles. Science had practically driven prejudice into the dark. Faith was little more than a shibboleth which no longer influenced opinion or action. I saw my way to combine a few simple incontrovertible scientific principles into a Law which would allow the loftiest aspirations to seek satisfaction in spiritual spheres, the religious instincts to realize their sublimity through ritual, and to assist the scientific mind to see that even the most materialistic concept of the cosmos was ultimately mystical, that though mind might be merely a function of matter, yet that matter might equally well be represented as a manifestation of mind. The sequel will show how I fared in this ambitious adventure.
Besides this, I became subtly aware that this Work was more than the impersonal exploration which I had meant to make, I felt that a hand was holding my heart, that a breath was whispering words in a strange tongue whose accents were yet both awful in themselves and like enchantments encompassing my essence with an energy mighty to work on my will in some inscrutable way. I began to feel — well, not exactly frightened; it was the subtle trembling of a maiden before the bridegroom. My ardour increased with every vision and every vision became intenser and more intimate. I fortified myself by magical practices. Two or three times I had found it difficult to get into the Aethyr; there were bars which I understood as not to be passed by the profane. The progressive sublimity and solemnity made me tremble lest I should not be worthy to behold the mysteries that lay in the future.
So I consecrated myself by reciting this chapter of the Koran:
Qol: hua allahu achad: alahu assmad: lam yalid:
walam yulad: ya lam yakun lahu kufwan achad
a thousand and one times a day during the march, prostrating myself after
each repetition. The physical effort of this exercise beneath the blazing sun as I marched, mile after mile, across the dusty, stony, glaring stretches of sterile solitude was very severe; but the exhaustion of my body and the pain of my mutinous mind as I thrashed it into submission with the lash of the mantra, prepared me for the moment of invoking the Aethyr. My spiritual part had nothing to fear from the garrulence of the mind which I had flogged into dumb duty.
In the nineteenth Aethyr appeared an Angel who revealed herself as appointed to lead me personally through the initiation appointed. At the time I hardly understood this. I could not imagine that my personal progress could have any connection with what I still supposed to be purely objective phenomena; but in the eighteenth Aethyr the Angel thereof prepared me ceremonially for the ceremony. In the seventeenth, the full magical meaning of equilibrium was made clear to me. “Motion about a point is iniquity”, “Breath is iniquity” and “Torsion is iniquity”. I understood that every disturbance (which makes manifestation possible) implies deviation from perfection. It is for this reason that my individuality (which distinguishes me from all other beings) involves the idea of injustice. Therefore, to penetrate beyond the Abyss, where iniquity cannot exist, my personal self-hood must be annihilated. The sixteenth Aethyr showed me how this might be done. My being must be dissolved in that of the infinite. This was symbolized by the destruction of the Demiurgus, he being the creator of diversity. He being destroyed, I was shown an image of my true self; and that self vanished, absorbed in a virgin. This told me that the climax of my love of the infinite was identification there.
In the fifteenth Aethyr, the vision definitely took form as a ceremony of initiation. I was examined by an assembly of adepts and my right to the Grades of the Second Order admitted. I was then allowed to be entitled to the Grade of a Babe of the Abyss and a Master of the Temple. They continued the examination and refused to accept me as a Magus. They then instructed me in various matters and made me make certain preparations for the vision following.
On the afternoon of December 3rd I invoked the fourteenth Aethyr. Here was a veil so black and thick that I could not pass through. I tore off layer after layer with desperate effort, while in my ears there pealed a solemn voice. It spoke of me as dead.
And I still go on, struggling with the blackness. Now there is an earthquake. The veil is torn into thousands of pieces that go flying away in a whirling wind. And there is an all-glorious Angel before me, standing in the sign of Apophis and Typhon. On his forehead is a star, but all about him is darkness, and the crying of beasts. And there are lamps moving in the darkness.
And the Angel says: Depart! For thou must evoke me only in the darkness. Therein will I appear, and reveal unto thee the mystery of UTI. For the Mystery thereof is great and terrible. And it shall not be spoken in sight of the sun.
I must explain that we had climbed Da'leh Addin, a mountain in the desert, as enjoined by the Angel during the previous night. I now withdrew from the Aethyr and prepared to return to the city. Suddenly came the command to perform a magical ceremony on the summit. We accordingly took loose rocks and built a great circle, inscribed with the words of power; and in the midst we erected an altar and there I sacrificed myself. The fire of the all seeing sun smote down upon the altar, consuming utterly every particle of my personality. I am obliged to write in hieroglyph of this matter, because it concerns things of which it is unlawful to speak openly under penalty of the most dreadful punishment; but I may say that the essence of the matter was that I had hitherto clung to certain conceptions of conduct which, while perfectly proper from the standpoint of my human nature, were impertinent to initiation. I could not cross the Abyss till I had torn them out of my heart.
I remember nothing of my return to Bou Saâda. There was an animal in the wilderness, but it was not I. All things had become alike; all impressions were indistinguishable. I only remember finding myself on my bed, as if coming out of some catastrophe which had blotted out in utter blackness every trace of memory. As I came to myself, I found myself changed. I knew who I was and all the events of my life; but I no longer made myself the centre of their sphere, or their sphere the standard by which I measured the universe. It was a repetition of my experience of 1905, but far more actual. I did not merely admit that I did not exist, and that all my ideas were illusions, inane and insane. I felt these facts as facts. It was the difference between book knowledge and experience. It seemed incredible that I should ever have fancied that I or anything else had any bearing on each other. All things were alike as shadows sweeping across the still surface of a lake — their images had no meaning for the water, no power to stir its silence.
At ten minuted to ten I returned to the Aethyr. I was instantly blotted in blackness. Mine Angel whispered the secret words whereby one partakes of the Mysteries of the Masters of the Temple. Presently my eyes beheld (what first seemed shapes of rocks) the Masters, veiled in motionless majesty, shrouded in silence. Each one was exactly like the other. Then the Angel bade me understand whereto my aspiration led: all powers, all ecstasies, ended in this — I understood. He then told me that now my name was Nemo, seated among the other silent shapes in the City of the Pyramids under the Night of Pan; those other parts of me that I had left for ever
below the Abyss must serve as a vehicle for the energies which had been created by my act. My mind and body, deprived of the ego which they had hitherto obeyed, were now free to manifest according to their nature in the world, to devote themselves to aid mankind in its evolution. In my case I was to be cast out into the Sphere of Jupiter. My mortal part was to help humanity by Jupiterian work, such a governing, teaching, creating, exhorting men to aspire to become nobler, holier, worthier, kinglier, kindlier and more generous.
Finally, “Fifty are the gates of understanding and one hundred and six are the seasons thereof, and the name of every one of them is Death.” I took this to mean that Aleister Crowley would die at the end of this time. The event has shown that it referred to my attainment of the Grade of Magus, for this took place at the exact moment here predicted.
The thirteenth Aethyr explains the work which a Master of the Temple must do. He is hidden under the earth and tends his garden. These gardens are of many kinds, but in every case he treats the roots of the flowers in various ways. Each flower gives birth to a maiden, save one, of which commeth a man child who shall be Nemo after him. Nemo must not seek to know which flower this is. He must tend his garden with absolute impartiality.
The twelfth Aethyr describes the City of the Pyramids, whose queen is called BABALON, the Scarlet Woman, in whose hand is a cup filled with the blood of the saints. Her ecstasy is nourished by the desires which the Masters of the Temple have poured from their hearts for her sake. In this symbolism are many mysteries concealed. One is that if a single drop of blood be withheld from her cup it putrefies the being below the Abyss and vitiates the whole course of the adept's career.
In the eleventh Aethyr is shown the fortress on the frontier of the Abyss, with its warrior wardens. I had thought that my ordeal was over. But no! I was suddenly faced with the fact that I had to cross the Abyss consciously, understanding its nature; for when I had passed through it there was in me no power to perceive. I knew no more than this — a negative idea — that its power was to dissipate me into dead dust. Now being bidden to cross it consciously, I asked the Angel, “Is there not one appointed as a warden?” I meant my Holy Guardian Angel, for whose Knowledge and Conversation I had abandoned all. The answer: “Eloi, Eloi, lamma sabacthani”. I knew that even my holiest, mine inmost self, might not protect me from the grim abominations of the Abyss.
We therefore changed our magical procedure. We went far out from the city into a hollow among the dunes. There we made a circle to protect the scribe and a triangle wherein the Abyss might manifest sensibly. We killed three pigeons, one at each Angle, that their blood might be a basis whereon the forces of evil might build themselves bodies.
The name of the Dweller in the Abyss is Choronzon, but he is not really an individual. The Abyss is empty of being; it is filled with all possible forms, each equally inane, each therefore evil in the only true sense of the word — that is, meaningless but malignant, in so far as it craves to become real. These forms swirl senselessly into haphazard heaps like dust devils, and each such chance aggregation asserts itself to be an individual and shrieks, “I am I!” though aware all the time that its elements have no true bond; so that the slightest disturbance dissipates the delusion just as a horseman, meeting a dust devil, brings it in showers of sand to the earth.
Choronzon appeared in many physical forms to Omnia Vincam, while I abode apart in my magical robe with its hood drawn over my face. He took the form of myself, of a woman whom Neuburg loved, of a serpent with a human head, etc. He could not utter the word of the Abyss, because there is no word; its voice is the insane babble of a multitude of senseless ejaculations; yet each form spake and and acted as if aping its model. His main object was to induce O.V. to leave the circle, or to break into it; so as to obsess him, to live in his life. O.V. had many narrow escapes, and once Choronzon made a long speech at a great pace to keep O.V. so busy writing it down that he would not notice that sand was being thrown from the Triangle so as to obliterate the Circle. The torrent of obscene blasphemy was beyond his power to keep up, concentration being impossible. It became an incoherent series of cries; then suddenly, perhaps catching the idea from O.V.'s mind, the demon began to recite Tom o“Bedlam.
There was now a gap in the Circle; and Choronzon, in the form of a naked savage, dashed through and attacked O.V. He flung him to the earth and tried to tear out his throat with froth-covered fangs. O.V. invoked the names of God and struck at Choronzon with the Magical Dagger. The demon was cowed by this courageous conduct and writhed back into the Triangle. O.V. then repaired the Circle; Choronzon resumed his ravings, but could not continue. He changed once more into the form of the woman whom O.V. loved, and exercised every seduction. O.V. stuck to his guns and the dialogue took other forms. He tried to shake O.V.'s faith in himself, his respect for me, his belief in the reality of Magick, and so on. At last all the energy latent in the blood of the pigeons was exhausted by the successive phantoms, so that it was no longer able to give form to the forces evoked. The Triangle was empty.
During all this time I had astrally identified myself with Choronzon, so that I experienced each anguish, each rage, each despair, each insane outburst. My ordeal ended as the last form faded; so, knowing that all was over, I wrote the holy name of BABALON in the sand with my magical ring and arose from my trance. We lit a great fire to purify the place and destroyed the Circle and Triangle. The work had lasted over two hours and
we were both utterly exhausted, physically and in every other way. I hardly know how we ever got back to Bou Saâda.
Not till the evening of the following day did I feel strong enough to invoke the ninth Aethyr. A surprise was waiting for me. The nineteenth Key contains the text of the original curse on creation. Each phrase formulates some calamity. I had always shuddered at its horror as I recited it. But now, the Abyss being crossed, and all its horror faced and mastered, the words of the Key suddenly thrilled with a meaning that I had never suspected. Each curse concealed a blessing. I understood that sorrow had no substance; that only my ignorance and lack of intelligence had made me imagine the existence of evil. As soon as I had destroyed my personality, as soon as I had expelled my ego, the universe which to it was indeed a frightful and fatal force, fraught with every form of fear, was so only in relation to this idea “I”; so long as “I am I”, all else must seem hostile. Now that there was no longer any “I” to suffer, all these ideas which had inflicted suffering became innocent. I could praise the perfection of every part; I could wonder and worship the whole. This attainment absolutely altered my outlook. Of course, I did not at once enter into full enjoyment. The habit of misunderstanding everything had to be broken, bit by bit. I had to explore every possibility and transmute each base metal in turn into gold. It was years before I got into the habit of falling in love a first sight with everything that came my way.
The ninth Aethyr shows this transformation symbolically. The universe is represented as a maiden, all innocence, adorned with all perfection.
The remaining Aethyrs partly complete the experience proper to the Grade which I had attained, and partly shadow forth, in strangely obscure and formidable forms, the mysteries of the higher Grades, or rather the guards to them. As I advance, it became more and more difficult to obtain the vision. In the second Aethyr, for example, begun on the morning of December 18th, the work had to be broken off and the invocation repeated. Yet again I found the strain unsupportable, had to break off, and go to the hot baths of Hamman Salahin; and I continued, immersed to the neck in the hot sulphur spring. The water somehow soothed my nerves, enabling me to experience the Aethyr without physical collapse. Even so, I could not get to the end and only did so after over more than two days' concentrated consecration of myself.
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