Chapter 96

To turn to other matters. At the end of November I received a telegram from Hammond which I took as a sort of Joke. He said:

English press states you are guilty of sending girls on streets in Palermo or Naples and that you served prison sentence in America for procuration tone (?) ans (answer) per imperative pire (wire immediately).

(Signed) HAMMOND.

I replied “Allegations utterly absurd.” My only annoyance was having to pay for the telegram. Presently copies of the Sunday papers for November 28th arrived. I read them with tireless amusement. I had read in my time a great deal of utter balderdash, but nothing quite so comprehensively ridiculous. It gave me the greatest joy to notice that practically every single detail was false. There was, for instance, a description of the abbey, without a single failure to misstate the facts. If a thing was white, they called it red, if square, circular, if stone, brick; and so for everything.

I saw no reason for taking any action. I was content to enjoy the absurdity and profit by the publicity. Unfortunately the sense of humour is rare in England. My friends wanted me to prosecute the paper for criminal libel, which was all very well, except that I had not enough money to get to Naples, much less London, to say nothing of the costs of an action against a corporation backed by millions and the influence of its coroneted proprietor. Five thousand pounds would not have given me a dog's chance. Incidentally, there was internal evidence in the article that they had not taken the risk of printing it without making sure that I was not in a position to prosecute.

In earlier chapters, I have given my views with regard to libel actions in general; I should refuse to fight in any circumstances for the simple reason that I cannot waste my time on anything of the kind. I must maintain my concentration upon creative work. There is a further objection, mixing oneself up with people of alien mentalities.

The only misfortune in the matter was that my publishers reflected that doing as they did a large business in bibles and similar pious publications they could not profit by the publicity as their clear duty was to do. They professed all sympathy with my position, but insisted on some sort of vindication before proceeding to carry out their contracts. I find their attitude inexcusable. They live in a country which boasts of sportsmanship and fair play as {914} their copyright, but refuse to apply their principles, to say nothing of elementary justice, to cases which involve the suspicion of sexual irregularity. The accusation is sufficient. Even a successful public defence does not clear the character of the person attacked. It is notorious that most exculpations of this sort are the result of compromise or the payment of blackmail and it is known universally assumed that everyone is guilty of the offences of which they know themselves at least potentially capable and whose commission is a function of opportunity and moral courage. The sense of sin assures the English that all men alike are inevitably transgressors.

What struck us as the best joke in the whole article was the description of the abbey as a focus of all possible vices. We were all drug fiends devoting ourselves uninterruptedly to indulgence in all conceivable sexual abominations. Our morality compared favourably with that of the strictest puritan. The only irregularity that had ever occurred at any time was intercourse between unmarried people, which is, after all, universal in good society, and in our case was untainted by any objectionable features apart from the question of formality. I fail to understand why it should be considered excusable to seduce a woman and leave her to shift for herself, while if one receives her as a permanent friend and cares for her well-being long after the liaison had lapsed one should be considered a scoundrel. The idea seems to be that it is immoral to prevent love resulting in every kind of ill-will and misfortune. O fools and blind, not content with inventing a sin, you insist on the fears and pains which haunt the nightmares of superstitious slaves.

By this particular period, our conduct was so moral by the strictest standards that it would not be matched by any community of equal numbers in the world. We were all working so hard, to say nothing of having so little to eat, that we had neither time nor need to think of sex at all. The one exception was Betty and her actions did not affect the abbey. She had to go outside for sympathy in such affairs.

Two events of far-reaching influence upon the course of events occurred about the New Year. I received a long cable from my old friend Bill Seabrook asking me for photographs and other material to assist him in composing a serial on the subject of myself, opinions and adventures. He hoped to syndicate this widely throughout America by means of simultaneous publication in a large number of Sunday papers. The plan prospered. He was naturally hampered by having to consider his public. The most trivial and commonplace incident must be cooked up with all possible spice of sensationalism. When the facts fail they must be filled up with fiction, and where they obstructed his wild career, they must be distorted into fantastic form. He did his work well on the whole. He was as fair as his circumstances permitted and in my judgment the ultimate effect of his hotel polish mixed fact and fable will be to familiarize the American public with my name and interest {915} them in my career sufficiently to induce the few intelligent individuals who have read it to inquire independently into the facts of the case. The strong point of my position is that there is nothing in my life of which I need be ashamed. Inquiry must inevitably result in clearing my character, and any person whose attitude is worth a moment's consideration should experience a reaction of indignation and disgust. The stench of the cesspool of calumny will offend his nostrils and he will insist on restoring equilibrium by long reviving inhalations of the perfume of my personality.

The other event was that a seed which had long slept in darkness suddenly shot up into the light. My proposal that Sullivan should devote his mathematical abilities to demonstrating the sublimity of the origin of The Book of the Law having failed, I bethought me of Norman Mudd. Since the skirmish at Cambridge, he had sunk below the horizon, having emigrated to the most barbarous and benighted realms of perdition; he had in fact become lecturer in applied mathematics at Grey University College, Bloemfontein. All these years, his conscience had never ceased to accuse him in respect of his conduct at Cambridge. He thought of it as the “great betrayal”.

For my part, I find every excuse for him. He was hardly more than a boy, without resources, friends or influence. Against him were arrayed the entrenched forces of authority. Their power was arbitrary and extended for all practical purposes to life and death! Stripped of his scholarship and expelled from the university at the most critical moment of his career, he would have found himself almost as desperately situated as a tramp with a bad record thrown out of work on to the Embankment. Yet so conscious of their guilt were his oppressors that they feared to face the consequences of any such action and they therefore assailed him in various underhand ways; even trying to induce his father to put pressure upon him by appealing to his filial instincts and begging him not to destroy the hope of his family.

I cannot blame him for pretending to yield and proceeding as before to defy them by his actions. None the less, the Lords of Initiation exacted the penalty of surrender. Shame dogged him by day and haunted him by night; in 1919, he could not stand it any longer and went to England to find me. Having heard I was in America, no one knew exactly where, he crossed the Atlantic and ultimately discovered Frater Achad who admitted him as a probationer of the Order with the motto Omnia Pro Veritate. It seems strange that he missed finding me. Once again I perceived the design of the gods. The time was not ripe.

He wrote me a letter which I answered at once, but I failed to elicit further communication. However, when Sullivan broke down at the first ordeal, I said to myself, “Why, of course, Norman Mudd is the man for the job.” I wrote immediately, asking him to work with me on the demonstration indicated above. He did not answer. Thinking my letter might have failed {916} to reach him, I wrote again sometime later with similar fortune. About Christmas 1922, his problem reached a crisis. His obstinate resistance collapsed. He opened and read my letters, which he had put aside till then, being instinctively aware that if he read them he would be unable to withstand the call of his own soul to be true to himself and take the consequence. His way became suddenly clear. He was on this earth with one object and one object only; he must devote his energies exclusively to the welfare of mankind; in other words, to establishing the Law of Thelema. He cabled and wrote, putting himself entirely at my disposal. I accepted and told him to come straight to Cefalu and work with me. He did so, arriving on April 20th, and has since that time been exclusively occupied in collaboration in the Great Work.

These encouragements where balanced by fresh tribulations. The enemies of mankind, seeing that despite everything my work was nearing manifest success, redoubled their malice.

Both Raoul and I began to have attacks of rather inexplicable illness which increased in frequency and severity, until we were both almost continuously ill. My trouble was a strange fever — Mediterranean fever, I finally concluded. The temperature never reached any great height, but quinine had no effect. The local doctor diagnosed it as an infection of the liver and spleen, but confessed that he had no idea of what could have caused it. I grew steadily worse and at one time, for a few days, my condition caused some alarm. Not until early in April was I well enough to walk. But on the thirteenth I felt fit enough to go to Naples with the idea of convalescing in favourable circumstances, and buying a few things which the imminent arrival of Frater O. P. V. made requisite.

Raoul was less unlucky. How could the gods help loving him, who in so many ways partook of their pure nature. At first he suffered mostly from a recurrence of malaria of many years' standing. The attacks were hard to throw off, owning to his accident at Oxford already described. Various complications ensued. We called in the doctor at the first sign of any symptoms with which we were not familiar and able to deal. For some time he got neither better nor worse, but the, without warning, developed acute infectious enteritis. The doctor, summoned in all haste, did what he could, but his answer told me at a glance that he expected a fatal issue. I wrote out a telegram informing his parents so that they might come if they thought fit. Betty offered to take it to the office, but instead of returning, collapsed hysterically in the street before sending it off. It was a common trick of hers to excite sympathy, attract notice or annoy her husband if he happened to say or do anything which she disliked. In her absence, Raoul developed paralysis of the heart and died at once without fear or pain. It was as if a man, tired of staying indoors, had gone out for a walk. At the first appearance of {917} symptoms which alarmed me as to the immediate issue, I dressed myself, ill as I was, and hurried to bring the doctor. Alostrael, being already ready to go out, had gone on ahead. But even in those few minutes matters had gone so far that I felt sure he was already dead. It was all so quiet that certainly on the point was hardly possible. When we returned with the doctor and Betty, all doubt was at an end.

The usual arrangements were made and on the following day I conducted the burial service according to the ritual of the Order; improvised and simple as the ceremony was, its dignity and sublimity were not unworthy of our brother. My duty done, I surrendered to my own bodily assailants. I had probably done myself harm, both by going into Cefalu and by presiding at the obsequies. Till then I had been able to get out of bed and crawl about for an hour or two every day. It was many weeks before I managed to leave my bed even to walk on somebody's shoulder to another mattress and drink in the early spring sunlight.

Except for Betty, whose ideas of nursing were restricted to an alternation of lamentation, savage abuse of a patient, petulant complaints about his selfishness in not looking after her instead of her looking after him, and attempts to obtain restitutions of conjugal rights, Raoul had been tended with all possible care. In fact, during the absence of Betty, owing to circumstances to be described shortly, he picked up surprisingly and I feel pretty sure that if she had not come back he would be alive today. The Ape and Jane Wolfe are the best nurses I ever struck. They do everything just right. I never had to ask for anything I wanted, they had foreseen the need and supplied it in advance. They never showed the faintest sign of fatigue and anxiety, which they must have felt. The doctor spared no pains to study my complaint, but he confessed frankly that it puzzled him. It was common enough, he said, in Sicily; one could not say what caused the mischief or what its nature really was, and there was certainly no definite cure. All one could do was to treat the symptoms empirically. So I think he should not receive more than ten to fifteen per cent. of the blame attached to my survival; the balance must be borne as best they can by my nurses, and in the background, Sister Cypris, invisible, but indefatigable in seeing that nothing went wrong.

I must now explain the incident which let to Betty's temporary absence from the abbey from the Sunday evening before the Friday of her husband's death, till the following day. It is an absolute rule of the abbey not to attack people behind their backs. Betty had taken a frantic dislike to Sister Cypris and pestered us with complaints, not of anything definite that she did, but on general grounds. I happened to hear an outburst of this sort and put my foot down at once. I told Betty that we all agreed with her on many points, but it was none of our business. “If you must abuse anyone, do it to their faces as you see us all do every day, and no ill feeling comes of it.” {918}

Betty said, “But she's breaking the rules of the abbey.”

I replied, “Quite true, we've been getting slack. We'll start right now to be stricter.”

Now one of the most important rules is that no newspaper is allowed, unless it bears directly on some point of the work. The reason, of course, is that having a library of first-class books we should not spoil our appetites by eating between meals, especially the dirt of the streets. It chanced that the very next day a bundle of rubbish was sent to Raoul. Here was the very chance to be strict. Betty was reminded that newspapers were forbidden; she flew into a fury — she would leave the abbey instantly unless allowed to read them. I agreed. She was free to stay or to go but while she was there the rules were the rules, and she was the only person who had objected to them being relaxed. She flew into a fury even more furious. Heedless of Raoul's pitiful appeals to control herself, she flung a glass at my head and attacked me like a maniac. I tried to soothe her and abate her violence. Poor Raoul, weak as he was, got up and held her and begged her to be quiet. At last she calmed down, but the room was a wreck. It was imperative to move Raoul to proper surroundings and prevent his being disturbed and neglected by the tantrums of the termagant. We carried him into my own room and made him comfortable. Betty continued to conduct the concert in the absence of an audience, so she finally announced her intention to go. Both Raoul and Alostrael begged her to be sensible, but off she went to the hotel where she was at once consoled by a series of admirers. She wrote a string of lies to the British consul in Palermo, but the next morning came up to the abbey on receipt of a note from Raoul, saying that he hoped she would return and behave decently, but if not, to send for her effects and go back to London for good. I offered to pay her fare if necessary. She came back on condition of promising amendment, writing to the consul to ignore her letter as mere hysteria and admitting the entire falsehood of its contents. This letter was countersigned by Raoul. She also singed a statement of the whole episode drawn up by us and signed. She justified our faith in her better nature and gave us no further trouble as long as she remained with us.

After Raoul's death, she came to me for comfort and I am glad to think that I helped her through the worst. It was arranged for her to return to England. Raoul's parents cabled and wrote, asking us to take various steps, and pledging themselves to repayment. It is hard to believe that any human beings should act as they did; repudiating all liabilities. They wouldn't pay to have their son decently buried — not they.

Every day Betty seemed to grow fonder of us all. We told her, of course, that she was welcome to stay if she chose, and it seems hard to design a reason for her decision to leave. But on her arrival in England trouble began. {919} The reporters of the gutter press got after her, made her drunk and prompted her to give them a sensation story which was on long series of falsehoods. The rabble resumed their chorus of calumny. They completely lost touch with reason. Each fresh article was crazier than the last. I was accused of the most fantastic crimes up to cannibalism. Their principal liar was poor Dartnell, but he was ably assisted by some Dutch interpreter whose name I had never heard. He pretended to know me well. In one article, he let himself go about my cynical audacity in returning to London. He had seen me in Holborn, a decrept derelict, hardly able to walk. This was fine! My only difficulty in believing everything he said was that at the time of my visit to London I was lying ill at Cefalu.

In due course, Frater O. P. V. arrived at the abbey and on his heels two Oxford men: Pinney and Bosanquet. We put them up for three nights. They were flabbergasted to find us perfectly normal decent people. They were keen rock climbers. I was too ill to join them, but I dragged myself to the foot of the crags and showed them the two problems which I had not carred to attempt without a trustworthy companion. These were the outside way up the Cavern Pitch in Deep Gill and the Deep Gill pillar. They succeeded in climbing both, to my great joy. The morning after their arrival, I was summoned to the police, who showed me an order from the Minister of the Interior expelling me from Italy. No reason was given, no accusation made. The policy of backstairs intrigue and foul strokes, whenever they felt sure that I could not defend myself or hit back was still the order of the day. The commissary of Police was staggered by the smiling calm with which I received this stab in the back. I did not even protest or ask for the reason of the outrage. I courteously requested a week's grace to arrange my affairs, which he, with equal politeness, granted. He tried one dirty police trick. These people seemed unable to help themselves. He tried to persuade me that the order included the whole community.

The injustice and tyranny of this order excited the utmost sympathy and indignation in our guests, who promised to do all they could to secure fair treatment. My behaviour in this ordeal aroused their admiration. It became abundantly manifest that my conscience was clear. Such calm courage, not only on my part, but on that of the others, who were really much more deeply injured than I was myself, showed that we possessed the secret of sailing triumphantly above the clouds of circumstances in the pure air of freedom in the sunlight of happiness.

I left O. P. V. in full charge of the business of the abbey. Despite my world fortitude, I was near a physical breakdown, and at Palermo seemed so ill that the Ape decided to accompany me to Tunis. We reached our City of Refuge on May 2nd and I knew that the spirit of liberty still lived and laughed under the banner of France. {920}

During the first weeks of my illness, I had hung on grimly to the preparation of these memoirs, but the weak flesh had overcome the willing spirit from the time of Raoul's death to the end of March. We now tackled it with renewed energy and, for the sake of fresh air and quiet, left the city for La Marsa, where we stayed at Au Souffle du Zephir working day and night, so far as my health permitted, for nearly two months, when O. P. V. joined me, while Alostrael returned to Cefalu for a rest. I had once more worked her beyond her strength.

We were joined shortly afterwards by Eddie Saayman, an old pupil of Frater O. P. V.'s in Bloemfontein, and now a mathematical scholar at New College, Oxford, one of the most brilliant students in the university. He became interested in the mathematical theorems of The Book of the Law, which he thought, no less than myself and O. P. V., capable of revolutionizing mathematical ideas and marking a new epoch in that science. We agreed that to demonstrate this would prove that the author of “The Book of the Law” was an intelligence beyond any hitherto known. He therefore decided to write a thesis on this subject for a fellowship of his college.

Early in August, I returned to the city for a little Magical Retirement of about a fortnight, at the conclusion of which Alostrael rejoined us in Tunis where I dictate these actual words.

I must now give a short summary of my personal spiritual work during the three years of my residence in Cefalu. The hopelessness of getting anything published operated to discourage me from producing formally perfect work. I wrote a considerable number of poems and short stories, but found myself horribly hampered by the overwhelming abundance of creative ideas. I need a staff of at least a dozen colleagues and secretaries to keep up with my work, and all the time there is the subconscious worry about the possibility of carrying on.

Since 1909, it has become constantly more difficult to keep afloat. The gods have taught me to trust them absolutely to provide me with everything I really need for my work, as opposed to my own ideas on the subject. Ye despite this long experience of being saved from smash at the critical moment, almost always through some channel which I had no reason to expect, I have not succeeded in entirely dismissing doubt from my mind on these constantly recurring occasions when there were no funds in hand and no rational expectation of receiving any. That is, of course, when the current of creative energy is checked so that my mind, temporarily exhausted, becomes the prey of apprehension. Yet even so I find myself better able, as every year passes, to set my heel on the serpent of worry. Only in moments of complete mental and spiritual collapse from the overstrain of prolonged effort does my faith falter for a few hours. Perhaps the gods intend to insist on my acquiring the power to triumph, even at such moments, over adversity. The serpent's {921} fangs will fix themselves in my heel if it share the vulnerability of the heel of Achilles. It is not enough to dip the Magus in the Styx, he must be thrown in left to sink or swim.

In one way or another, for all that, I achieved an enormous amount of work in the three years. But my most important labours have been definitely magical. I practically re-wrote the third part of Book Four. I showed the manuscripts to Soror Rhodon (Mary Butts) and asked her to criticize it thoroughly. I am extremely grateful to her for her help, especially in indicating a large number of subjects which I had no discussed. At her suggestion, I wrote essay upon essay to cover every phase of the subject. The result has been the expansion of the manuscript into a vast volume, a complete treatise upon the theory and practice of Magick, without any omissions. I further added appendices, the first giving an account of the system of initiation of the A∴ A∴. Next comes a curriculum of the classics of Magick and mysticism. Thirdly, I illustrate the text of the treatise by giving actual example of ritual. Fourthly, I propose to reprint the more important books of instruction of the A∴ A∴ from The Equinox; and finally, I crown the work by Liber Samekh, the operation of the Sacred Magick of the Attainment of the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel, as proved effective in my own experience, and confirmed by that of Frater Progradior for whose benefit I set it forth in writing.

More important still, I applied the formula of The Book of the Law to the solution of the classical antinomies of philosophy. I resolved such triads as being, not-being and becoming into a unity. I identified free will with destiny. I proved that action was impotent and non-action omnipotent. As I went on, new problems constantly presented themselves, and each one in its turn yielded to the Law of Thelema. I wrote all these theorems in my Magical Record. I was greatly assisted in all this work by the constant study of the work of Einstein, Whitehead, Russell, Eddington and Henri Poincar‚, whom Sullivan had recommended to me. They seemed to be on the very brink of discovering those truths which The Book of the Law concealed and revealed. Their passages directed my attention to The Book of the Law. Obscure passages in the text became clear when interpreted as solving the problem of modern higher mathematics.

From this huge mass of work I extracted the quintessence and transferred it to my New Comment upon The Book of the Law. This is now an extensive work, and I have not yet succeeded in making a systematic study of the technical Cabbalistic proofs of those based on the facts of experience which demonstrate that Aiwass is an intelligence of an order altogether superior to that of man. The proof of his existence is therefore the proof of the postulate of all religion, that such beings actually exist, and that communication {922} with them is a practical possibility. Thus, apart from the stupendous value of The Book of the Law itself, it opens up a path of progress to mankind which should eventually enable the race to strike off the fetters of mortality and transcend the limitations of its entanglement with earth.

I continued my researches in many other lines of Magick, from the preparation of a new edition of Liber 777 with an elaborate explanation of each column and a further analysis of the Yi King, to such matters as the critical observation of success in the Operation of the IX° O.T.O.

I have written a very full comment on The Book of the Heart Girt with a Serpent, which as I proceeded manifested innumerable mysteries of transcendent importance which I had till then never suspected to inform the text.

I also began an examination of The Golden Verses of Pythagoras. I was struck by the fact that it was incumbent on disciples to commit them to memory and repeat them daily. From this I deduced that the somewhat shallow meaning of their injunctions concealed the heart of the initiated doctrine. This speculation was confirmed by research. For instance, the phrase “Honour the gods” which “needs no ghost come from the grave to tell us” is proper, conceals a magical injunction of the first importance. “Tima” honour etymologically means “Estimate” or “calculate”. The instruction thus is to make a scientific investigation of the formulae of the various gods, i.e., to discover the laws which express their energies, exactly as in physics to honour gravitation is senseless, but we may increase our control of nature by inquiry into its nature and action. The more I studied these verses, the more tremendous seemed their import and should I succeed in completing my translation and commentary, the long lost secret of Pythagoras should be brought to light and Greek philosophy assume an aspect hitherto hidden which must revolutionize our ideas of the ancient wisdom.

The true significance of the Atus of Tahuti, or Tarot Trumps, also awaits full understanding. I have satisfied myself that these twenty-two cards compose a complete system of hieroglyphs representing the total energies of the universe. In the case of some cards, I have succeeded in restoring the original form and giving a complete account of their meaning. Others, however, I understand imperfectly, and of some few I have at present obtained no more than a general idea.

It is heartbreaking to have to write on this matter, “So much to do, so little done.” I am overwhelmed by the multiplicity of urgent work. I need the co-operation of a whole cohort of specialists and my helplessness lies heavy on my heart, yet the word which I uttered at my first initiation, “Perdurabo”, still echoes in eternity. What may befall I know not, and I have almost ceased to care. It is enough that I should press towards the mark of my high calling, secure in the magical virtue of my oath, “I shall endure unto the End.”

WEH note: Crowley's writing ends here, but the following later writing by Jane Wolfe is of interest in that it relates to the events of this final chapter:

A villifying report of what took place at the time of the death of Raoul Loveday, at the Abbey of Thelema in Cefalu, having come to my attention, leads me to write a brief account of that unhappy event, as I was not only there during Raoul's brief sojourn at the Abbey, but I took care of him on his deathbed.

He arrived in Cefalu from London late in November, or early December, 1922, pale and aenemic, and had just recovered from a rather severe septic throat.

The weather at the time was sunshiny and warm. Raoul basked in this sunshine, spent much time out of doors, and soon showed signs of improvement.

By January he was taking long walks, and one one of these occasions, being thirsty, drank water from a small stream which was 'polutted', and was therefore taboo. No one round about touched this water, and Raoul had been cautioned about it, but forgot it, no doubt, at the time of his thirst.

A diarrhea set in, which after 10 or 12 days, became suddenly acute on the day of his death, causing a sloughing off of the mucous membrances of the intestines.

During this period he had been under medical care, but without avail.

That ceremonies of a sensational or ridiculous character were performed during the passing, is a part of the desire of some people to defile whatever they touch.

As a matter of fact, no ceremonies of any nature took place during his illness, or at the time of his death.

(signed) Jane Wolfe

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