Chapter 81

In The Vision and the Voice, the attainment of the grade of Master of the Temple was symbolized by the adept pouring every drop of his blood, that is his whole individual life, into the Cup of the Scarlet Woman, who represents Universal Impersonal Life. There remains therefore (to pursue the imagery) of the adept “nothing but a little pile of dust”. In a subsequent vision the Grade of Magus is foreshadowed; and the figure is that this dust is burnt into “a white ash”, which ash is preserved in an Urn. It is difficult to convey the appropriateness of this symbolism, but the general idea is that the earthly or receptive part of the Master is destroyed. That which remains has passed through fire; and is therefore, in a sense, of the nature of fire. The Urn is engraved with a word or symbol expressive of the nature of the being whose ash is therein. The Magus is thus, of course, not a person in any ordinary sense; he represents a certain nature or idea. To put it otherwise, we may say, the Magus is a word. He is the Logos of the Aeon which he brings to pass1).

The above is obscure. I perceived and deplore the fact. The idea may be more intelligible, examined in the light of history. Gautama Buddha was a Magus. His word was Anatta; that is, the whole of his system, which revolutionized the thought of Asia, may be considered as based upon and consecrated in that one word, which is his denial of the existence of the Atman or “soul” of Hindu philosophy.

Later, Mohammed also partially overturned an age by uttering his word, Allah. But to us, practically, the most important case of the kind is that connected with such “gods” as Dionysus, Osiris, Baldur, Marsyas, Adonis, Jesus, and other deifications of the unknown Magus concerned. The old pagan worship of the Mother-idea was superseded by the word IAO or its equivalents, which asserted the formula of the Dying God, and made the Male, dying to himself in the act of love, the engineer of the continued life of the race. This revolution cut at the root of all previous custom. Matriarchy vanished; self-sacrifice became the cardinal virtue, and so through infinite ramifications.

This idea of accomplishing the Great Work by a voluntary death was bound up with the belief that the sun died, and was reborn with the hours and the seasons. Astronomy having exploded this fiction, mankind was ready to gain a further comprehension of its own parallel case.

My own word, Thelema, supplies a new and scientifically sound basis for {795} ethics. Self-sacrifice is a romantic folly; death does not end life; it is a temporary phase of life as night and winter are of terrestrial activity. Many other conceptions are implied in this word, Thelema. In particular, each individual is conceived as the centre of his own universe, his essential nature determining his relations with similar beings and his proper course of action. It is obvious that these ideas are revolutionary. Yet to oppose them is to blaspheme science. Already, in a thousand ways, the principles involved have replaced those of the Dying God. Little remains but to accept Thelema consciously as a statement of law, so that any given problem may be solved by applying it to each case.

The man Crowley had been chosen to enunciate this Law, that is, to exercise the essential function of a Magus. But he had yet to understand it, a task which involved the crossing of the Abyss, already described; and further, to identify his will with the Law, so that his personality might act as the focus of its energy. Before he could be that pure will whose name is that word, he had to be purged by fire of all competing volitions; and this was done by those who had chosen him during this part of his life, which I am about to record.

He had indeed got rid of his sense of the personal self, yet his force was discharging itself dispersedly through all sorts of channels appropriate to the various elements in his nature. It was necessary to constrain every particle of his energy to move in one sole direction. (The physical analogy of a gas whose electrons are polarized and one not so organized is not so bad.)

It must now be explained how he was able to understand what was happening to him in this initiation — his life from 1914 to 1919. The Grade of Magus is traditionally connected with the idea of the number 2; male creative energy, wisdom and the expression of a single idea in terms of duality. It transmits the idea of the divine unity to its feminine counterpart, the understanding, somewhat as a man transmits the essence of his racial character to his wife so that he perceives his inmost nature, itself unintelligible to him directly, by observing the flowering of that essence in his son. The Hebrew title of the idea embodying these characteristics is Chokmah, whose numerical value is 73. This fact appears arbitrary and irrelevant; but it forms part of the symbolic language in which the praeterhuman intelligences who control the initiate communicate with him. Thus, my adventures in America seemed a series of stupidities for a long time. Nothing I did produced the expected results. I found myself suddenly switched from one episode to another so irrationally that I began to feel that I had somehow got into a world where causality did not obtain. The mystery only became clear when analysis disclosed that the events which threw me about in this manner occurred at almost exact intervals of 73 days, or of some multiple or sub-multiple thereof. I understood from this that 73 terrestrial days made up a single day of initiation. {796}

As soon as I had grasped this singular fact, I was able to interpret each such period by considering how its events influenced my spiritual development. In this I succeeded so well that towards the end I became able to predict the sort of thing that would happen to me beforehand, which helped me to meet circumstances intelligently and make the fullest and most appropriate use of them.

One further point with regard to this initiation must be mentioned, though it sounds so fantastic even to myself that I can scarcely smother a smile. In the ancient ceremonies of the Egyptians the candidate was confronted or guided on his journey by priests wearing the masks of various animals, the traditional character of each serving to indicate the function of its wearer. Quaint as it sounds, I found myself discovering an almost stupefying physical resemblance to divers symbolic animals in those individuals whose influence on me, during their appointed period, was paramount.

From these and other indications I have been able to construct an intellectual image of the initiation; and if these preliminary remarks be thoroughly understood, it should be easy to follow the course of my progress to the Grade of Magus.

The first period of my sojourn in the United States was consecrated to my preparation for more active instruction by isolation and darkness. I had arrived with a not inconsiderable reputation, both as a man of letters and as a Magician. I had numerous connections with prominent people in both camps and was furnished with excellent introductions. I was positively stupefied to discover, by the most baffling experiences, that by none of these means could I make my way into public life. I lectured with apparent success; yet literally nothing came of it. I was welcomed by editors and publishers, written up and entertained with surprising enthusiasm; yet I failed to sell a single poem, story, essay or even article (except in the special case of political writing in one paper of no credit) and no one would hear of publishing a book. Occasionally, a man promised great things; but the arrangements always fell through suddenly and unreasonably. I had a host of friends in the city, yet days and weeks would pass without my seeing a soul except in the most casual way.

I was even unable to practise my personal Magick. An inscrutable paralysis had me by the spine. After many days I said to myself that I must break up these conditions forcibly; I would a-wooing go whether my mother would let me or no. I set my teeth and began my ritual. But I was now confronted by a new obstacle. I could not do the proposed operations, urgently necessary as they were. I found myself forced to a daily invocation of Mercury (the god corresponding to the Grade of Magus) with whom I did not consciously want to have any dealings. For three times three-and-seventy days I remained thus blind and impotent, oppressed and overwhelmed by the sense of my {797} utter failure and futility, although on the surface all the conditions were in my favour, and there was not anywhere one single visible obstacle. I met dozens of interesting and important people; yet on none of these did my personality seem to produce the slightest effect, while (equally) none had any message for me. The surprise of the situation can only be understood if it be remembered that during my whole life I had never failed to attract eager attention wherever I went, to bring off whatever I planned, and to feel myself in every way a centre of electric energy.

My paralysis extended to every relation of life. I had never known what it was to lack human love; and now, not only did I fail to find a single friend, but when Laylah came from England to join me, I recognized instantly that she was a stranger.

The three Chokmah days (let me so call these periods of 73 days) ended on June 9th, 1915. On the tenth the oppression and obscurity were over. I was asked to dinner by a journalistic friend. He had bidden two women to meet me; one prominent as a poetess; the other, as an actress. I will call one the Cat, the other the Snake; Pasht and Apophis. The Cat was ideally beautiful beyond my dearest dream and her speech was starry with spirituality. The Snake glittered with the loveliness of lust; but she was worn and weary with the disappointment of insatiable desire. Her intellect was brilliant but cynical. She had lost faith in the universe. Her speech was like a sword, to shear away the subtlest sophistries by which we so pitifully persuade ourselves that the perfection which we seek is possible.

A magnetic current was instantly established between the three of us. In the Cat, I saw my ideal incarnate, and even during that first dinner we gave ourselves to each other by that language of limbs whose eloquence escapes the curiosity of fellow guests. It was the more emphatic because we were both aware that the Snake had set herself to encompass me with the coils of her evil intelligence.

The sequel was as strangely significant of the symbolic character of the ordeal as its beginning. I took tea with the Cat at her club the next afternoon. We lost no time. She told me — a string of lies — of her loveless marriage with an old satyr who had snatched her almost from the cradle. She was about to divorce him; and having loved me at first sight, not sensually, but as my spiritual sister, we could be married quite soon. We sealed the sacrament with a kiss; and there was no reason why, in the ordinary course of events, we should not have proceeded to an immediate liaison. But the gods wished to test me. I really believed in her spirituality. I really loved her with a love more exalted than aught in all my experience. Yet in my soul I knew, against all reason, that she was a fraud; her aspirations affectations; her purity a pose; a false, heartless, brainless, perverse imitation of my ideal. I fought down the intuition; I swore with all the passionate power of the poet that she was what {798} she seemed. I staked my happiness on her truth and made oath to be utterly worthy of her love.

They tested me by sending her out of the city for nearly a month. I endured the torture of absence, of doubt, of despair, with all the might of my manhood. To confirm myself ceremonially in this course of combat, I saw her rival occasionally, so as to affirm my absolute devotion to my ideal. To repulse the demons of realism, I set my foot upon the neck of the Snake that strove to shake my faith in the existence of perfection.

On July 8th, the Cat returned to New York. Love had conquered. We consecrated ourselves that same night to its service. But though the Cat had given herself thus simply and straightforwardly, she enjoyed the exercise of her power over me by tormenting me with doubts of her truth. She pretended to be disgusted by the sexual side of love and in a thousand ways kept me on pins and needles. Not many days elapsed before she suddenly left the city without leaving word for me. She had driven me to such desperation that I nearly lost control of myself when I heard that she had gone.

Summoning my veteran chief of staff, General Gynoniastix, I was readily convinced that this was a case for employing the strategy familiar to all men who have made up their mind to preserve their independence even at the cost of a broken heart. I telephoned straightaway to the Snake and asked her to lunch, after which we went round to my apartment. I was not moved by love; I simply wanted to torture the woman I hated as the woman I loved was torturing me. I made no advances; I was brutally rude; and to clinch the matter, I inflicted physical pain.

I had unusually pointed canine teeth. I fix a fold of flesh between the two points; and then, beating time with one hand, suddenly snap, thus leaving two neat indentations on the flesh concerned. I have often done this as a demonstration; often as a jest or a psychological experiment, sometimes as an intimation of affection, but never till then as a callous and cruel insult. Probably I misjudged my own motives. Somehow or other the genuineness and integrity of this lost soul began to appeal to me. I began to contrast her hard bitter cynical disbelief with the soft honied superficial assurance of her rival: before I knew what I was doing, our duel had developed into a death struggle in which my hate and hopelessness strove to swamp themselves in a surge of amorous frenzy.

The spasm swept me away. I no longer remember how we went out and dined, or how we got down to her house. Every nerve in my soul was screaming with implacable pain. Through it all I stuck to my guns; I never forgot that I loved the other woman and all that she stood for. But when at last exhaustion ended the orgy, twelve hours or more of indescribably insane intoxication, I sank into a sleep deeper than death — and woke at dawn to find myself inscrutably purged of iniquity. I knew myself innocent {799} in a sense more sublime than any imagination can conceive, and from this state I came mysteriously into a trance of a kind which I had never experienced. Its occurrence marks a definite stage in my spiritual career.

It is so important to the understanding of my life that it must be quoted verbatim from the record which I made immediately on my returning to my apartment — where I received an additional proof that I had come successfully through the ordeal in the shape of a telegram from Pasht explaining why she had left the city, and how she had been prevented from letting me know. (Another string of lies!)

Result: This is one of the greatest experiences of my life. Curious that the 1906 success also came through a magical thanksgiving under stress of passion. I went off to sleep almost at once. In the morning I woke early, before seven, in an absolutely renewed physical condition. I had the clean fresh feeling of healthy boyhood, and was alert and active as a kitten — post talem mortem! Mentally, I woke into Pure Love. This was symbolized as a cube2) of blue-white light like a diamond of the best quality. It was lucid, translucent, self-luminous and yet not radiating forth. I suppose because there was nothing else in the cosmos. This verb love is intransitive; the love has no object. My gross mind vanished; when, later on, memory pictures of Hilarion3) arose, they were rejected automatically. All the desire — quality, the clinging, the fear, were no more; it was Pure Love without object or attachment. I cannot describe the quality of the emancipation given by this most wonderful experience. Aum.

It may not at first sight be apparent why this rather silly and commonplace intrigue should merit the attention which I paid it. The reason is this; just as the Master of the Temple is sworn to interpret every phenomenon as a particular dealing of God with his soul, so is the Magus to make his every act an expression of his magical formula. Being in course of initiation at the time, I did not realize what was going on. It is only on reflection that I have come to understand that my relations with these two women constituted an ordeal; a test of my fitness for the Grade. It is written “as below, so above”; and my reaction to these women furnished a sure indication of how I should act in the greatest circumstances. For having succeeded in completely harmonizing the various energies of my being, there was no longer any danger that I should regulate my actions by conflicting standards. When therefore I rejected the Snake and chose the Cat, I was affirming {800} magically that I would insist upon realizing my ideal (most people idealize the real — which they dare not face) even though I knew it not to exist and was broken-hearted by the continual mockery of the deception.

The word of a Magus is always a falsehood. For it is a creative word; there would be no object in uttering it if it merely stated an existing fact in nature. The task of a Magus is to make his word, the expression of his will; come true. It is the most formidable labour that the mind can conceive.

Having made this decision, my next task was to cause my word to become flesh. The morning of the fifth Chokmah day was devoted to the begetting of a son. I wanted to fulfil the love which I had found. As before, I understood nothing of this; I simply wanted to have a child by the Cat, and performed a series of Magical Operations with this object. I did not know that I was attempting a physical impossibility.

(I must digress to explain that every cause must produce its proper effect; so that, in this case, the son whom I willed to beget came to birth on a plane other than the material.) I must have been very blind indeed not to recognize my true situation, if for no other reason than the following. The celebration of the autumnal equinox coincided with an Operation with the object above stated. It was the last of this series of Operations, though I had no reason whatever for stopping, and only discovered the fact, much to my surprise, long after. Now, the word of this equinox was “Nebulae”, which evidently points to the conditions which result in the birth of a star. What I had really done was therefore to beget a Magical Son. So, precisely nine months afterwards, that is, at the summer solstice of 1916, Frater O.I.V. (the motto of C. Stansfeld Jones as a probationer) entirely without my knowledge became a Babe of the Abyss.

I failed completely to understand the telegrams in which he announced the fact. His action was unprecedented in the whole history of Magick. It was utterly beyond my imagination to conceive of such an occurrence. He, on the other hand, while ignorant of my Operation in the autumn, understood perfectly at the time what he was doing; that he was being born as “The Child” predicted in The Book of the Law. This interpretation does not rest upon any arbitrary ideas, either on his part or mine. The Book of the Law speaks of this “Child” as “One”, as if with absolute vagueness. But the motto which Frater O.I.V. had taken on becoming a neophyte was “Achad” which is the Hebrew word for “One”. It is further predicted that this “Child” shall discover the Key of the interpretation of the Book itself, and this I had been unable to do. (The Book asserts that I should not succeed in this, astounding as it may seem, as I had 93 well in my mind, also 31 as the value of AL and LA, whose importance in the Book I understood perfectly. The text literally teems with hints; yet I never thought of 31 as the Key. Such blindness is a miracle more surprising than any amount of {801} perspicacity.) And in actual fact he did so discover that Key, two and a half years later.

Those unacquainted with our methods may ask for the basis of the assurance that the key in question really fitted the lock. The answer is that the moment it was communicated to me, I applied it to a number of obscure passages in the Book, and found that it elucidated them completely. Incidentally, I received another very striking proof of the genuineness of the discovery. Every six months, at the equinoxes, it becomes my duty to obtain a word from the gods, whose symbolic meaning indicates the events of importance to the Order which will occur in the course of the ensuing equinox.

(For instance, in the autumn of 1918, the word was “Eleven”. Apart from its special technical meanings, there was this: that the Armistice was signed at 11 o'clock on the 11th day of the 11th month of the year.) Now, the word of the equinox in which this Key was discovered was SAC. I was greatly puzzled to interpret this word and it did not become clear in the light of the events of the period as it usually does. Only now, when I am writing this account, some four years later, has it suddenly flashed upon me that the numerical value of the word is identical with that of the Key!4) There are numerous other confirmations; but the above ought to suffice the most sceptical that the author of The Book of the Law possessed an accurate knowledge of future events.

The next important stage in my initiation was the formal proclamation of my attainment. As the Master of the Temple I wore a seal ring; the lapis lazuli, engraved with my cipher, was covered by a platinum lid studded with pyramids to represent the City in which the Masters of the Temple abide. On October 12th, in the train from Chicago to Vancouver, while engaged in my annual Sammasati meditation on my Path since the previous birthday, I was suddenly impelled to tear off this lid. A little later I left the train; and on reaching the hotel found that the lapis lazuli had dropped out of its setting. In the morning I sought and found it on the platform of the station, broken into seven pieces. I picked them up and put them away with the utmost care in my travelling safe, intending to distribute them on my death to my nearest representatives. Just over a year later, looking through my belongings, the packet was missing. (I have noticed {802} that every time I receive an important initiation, some cherished article mysteriously disappears. It may be a pipe, a pen or what not: but it is always an object which is impregnated with my personality by constant use or special veneration. I cannot remember a single occasion when this has not happened. The theory is that the elementals or familiar spirits in attendance on the Magician exact, so to speak, a tip on all important occasions of rejoicing.) My idea in tearing off the lid was to proclaim ceremonially that I would come out of the darkness of the City of the Pyramids. (The exact period between these two initiations was predicted during the former; of course, in symbolic language, whose meaning appeared only on fulfilment.)

By thus accepting the Grade of Magus I had incurred certain responsibilities. Previously, I had taken the attitude that, while The Book of the Law had been given to the world through me, and though I was ineluctably bound thereby, I could stand aloof to some extent. I could consider myself as a Magician pledged to the Law, accepting it and working by its formula: but not identified with its promulgation to the exclusion of all other aims.

My formal attainment of the Grade involved my identifying myself with the word Thelema. My personality must be completely merged in it. On realizing this I realized also how carefully I had avoided compromising myself in this respect. I had never openly proclaimed the Law in the first person, as one might say, either in speech or writing.

Accordingly, when (on arrival at San Francisco) I found myself invited to address a semi-public gathering, I began my speech with the words, “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law”, and proceeded as best I could to explain their import.

Again, on the last day of the year, whose midnight I habitually devote to a meditation on the past, culminating in a formulation of my future career, I was moved to write what was shortly afterwards published first as a pamphlet in England, secondly as an article in the International, New York, thirdly in The Equinox, vol. III, no. i, and fourthly as a pamphlet in Australia by Frater Ahah.5) In this I summarized shortly the events which had led to my attainment of the Grade, and explained that I was thereby committed to an irrevocable and absolute identification of myself with my office as the Logos of the Aeon of Horus. For the future my whole essence must be {803} conterminous with that of the word, and my dynamical formula with that of its utterance.

I continued by setting forth the import and purport of that word. I announced that since “Every man and every woman is a star.”, each of us is defined and determined by a set of co-ordinates, has a true will proper and necessary, the dynamic expression of that nature. The conclusion from these premises is that the sole and whole duty of each of us is, having discovered the purpose for which he or she is fitted, to devote every energy to its accomplishment.

It need hardly be said that the theory of ethics thus outlined involves the consideration of many difficult and important problems. I did not understand at that time the extent of the implication and have devoted immense labour in recent years to the solution of the theorems which are corollary to the fundamental proposition. It must suffice for the present to record the writing of this message. The act was the ceremonial gesture significant of my attainment: as one may say, the King's speech at the opening of the Parliament of the New Aeon.


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Cf. Rabelais: the final secret is in the bottle inscribed TRINC.
I say “a cube”; yet its most salient property was that it was without boundaries. Experience of similar trances is necessary for the understanding of this statement, which is a perfectly proper expression of a perfectly observed fact, despite its intellectual self-contradiction.
This was the “mystic name” chosen for herself by the Cat. She had a smattering of theosophy and remembered this as being the name of some “Mahatma”.
SAC = Shin, Aleph, Chet, HB:Chet HB:Aleph HB:Shin , 300 + 1 + 8 = 309. (Tarot Trumps corresponding to these letters.) XX + XI + 0 = 31. The compound letter (Greek äT) in special reference to this combination of Tarot Trumps is the third of the words of value 31 (AL and LA) which complete 93. A volume might be (and has been) written on the fitness of this whole symbolism. SAC = Tzaddi, Aleph, Kaph, HB:Koph HB:Aleph HB:Tzaddi , 90 + 1 + 20 = 111 = HB:Peh HB:Lamed HB:Aleph = Aleph. 1 = HB:Dalet HB:Chet HB:Aleph = “One”. (Frater O.I.V. and the predicted discoverer of the Key.) Both spellings are valid to reveal the word and its discoverer! Such intricacy of device is one of the most evident proofs of the praterhuman intelligence of the author of The Book of the Law.
G.H. Frater AHAH 6 = 5 R.R. et A. C. is the humblest and simplest of the Brethren of the Order. He has worked with his hands since he was nine years old and he understands and loves the Law and its Logos as a child does its mother and father. He has my respect and affection as no other of my Brethren: for he represents to me mankind incarnate at its weakest (and therefore strongest) and noblest (and therefore most “common”). He is, in a word, that “Man” of whom I am, being 666 )the number of a man) and whom I love and serve. An illuminating incident: he cannot spell, but under inspiration writes as none has ever done save one — John Bunyan!


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