THE King is the undying One; he is the life and the master of life; he is the great living image of the Sun, the Sun, and the begetter of the Sun. He is the Divine Child, the God-begotten One, and the Begetter of God. He is the potent bull, the jewelled snake, the fierce lion. He is the monarch of the lofty mountains, and the lord of the woods and forests, the indweller of the globes of flame. As a royal eagle he soars through the heavens, and as a great dragon he churns up the waters of the deep. He holds the past between his hands as a casket of precious stones, the future lies before him clear as a mirror of burnished silver, and to-day is as an unsheathed dagger of gold at his girdle.

As a slave who is bold becomes a warrior, so a warrior who is fearless becomes a king, changing his battered helm of strength for a glittering crown of light; and as the warrior walks upright with the fearlessness of disdain in his eyes, so does the king walk with bowed head, finding love and beauty wherever he goeth, and whatever he doeth is true and lovely, for having conquered his self, he ruleth over his self by love alone, and not by the laws of good and evil, neither proudly nor disdainfully, neither by justice nor by mercy. Good and Evil is not his, for he hath become as an Higher Intelligence, {216} as an Art enshrined in the mind; and in his kingdom actions no longer defile, and whatever his heart inclineth him to do, that he doeth purely and with joy. And as the countenance of a singer may be ruddy or white, fair or dark, nevertheless, the redness or the whiteness, the fairness or the darkness, affect not the song of his lips, or the rapture of his music; similarly, neither does man-made virtue and vice, goodness and wickedness, strength and weakness, or any of the seeming opposites of life, affect or control the actions of the King; for he is free-born from the delusions and the dream of opposites, and sees things as they are, and not as the five senses reflect them on the mirror of the mind.

Now he who would become as a king unto himself must not renounce the kingdoms of this world, but must conquer the lands and estates of others and usurp their thrones. Should he be poor he must aim at riches without forfeiting his poverty; should he be rich he must aim at possessing poverty as well, without taking one farthing from the coffers of his treasury. The man of much estate must aim at possessing all the land, until there is no kingdom left for him to conquer. The Unobtainable must be obtained, and in the obtaining of it is to be found the Golden Key of the Kingdom of Light. The virgin must become as the wanton, yet though filled with all the itchings of lust, she must in no wise forfeit the purity of her virginity; for the foundations of the Temple are indeed set between Day and Night, and the Scaffolding thereof is as an arch flung between Heaven and Hell. For if she who is a virgin become but as a common strumpet, then she indeed falls and rises not, becoming in her {217} fall but a clout in the eyes of all men, a foul rag wherewith to sop up the lusts of flesh. So, verily, if she who being a courtesan, becometh as an untouched virgin, she shall be considered as a thing of naught, being both sterile and loveless; for what profit shall she be to this world who is the mother of unfruitfulness? But she who is both crimson and white, a twisted pillar of snow and fire, soothing where she burneth, and comforting where she chilleth, she shall be held as queen amongst women; for in her all things are found, and as an inexhaustible well of water around whose mouth grows the wild apricot, in which the bees set their sweet hives, she shall be both food and drink to the hearts of men: a well of life unto this world, yea! a goodly tavern wherein cool wine is sold, and good cheer is to be had, and where all shall be filled with the joyaunce of love.

Thus shall men attain to the unity of the crown and become as kings unto themselves. But the way is long and hilly and beset with many pitfalls, and it traverses a foul and a wild country. Indeed we see before us the towers and the turrets, the domes and the spires, the roofs and the gables, glittering beyond the purple of the horizon, like the helmets and spears of an army of warriors in the distance. But on approaching we find that the blue of the sky-line encompasses a dark wood wherein are all things unmindful of the Crown, and where there is darkness and corruption, and where lives the Tyrant of the World clothed in a robe of fantastic desires. Yet it is here that the Golden Key has been lost, where the hog, the wolf, the ape, and the bearded goat hold revel. Here are set the pavilions of dreams and the tented encampments of sleep, in which are spread the tables of demons, and where {218} feast the wantons and the prudes, the youths and the old men, and all the opposites of virtue and of vice. But he who would wear the crown must find the key, else the door of the Palace remains closed, for none other than he can open it for him. And he who would find the Key of Gold must seek it here in the outer court of the World, where the flatterers, and the parasites, and the hypocrites, buzz like flies over the fleshpots of life.

Now he who enters the outer court sees set before him many tables and couches, at which with swollen veins revel the sons of the gluttony of life. Here men, in their furious love of greed, stuff their jaws with the luxuries of decay, which a little after go to the dunghill; and vomit their sour drink on one another as a certain sign of their good fellowship. Here they carouse together drunkenly as in a brothel filling the world with the noise of cymbal and drum, and the loud-sounding instruments of delusion, and with shouts of audacious shame. Here are their ears and eyes pleasantly titillated by the sound of the hissing of the frying-pans, and the sight of the bubbling of stews; and courting voracity, with necks stretched out, so that they may sniff up the wandering steam of the dishes, they fill their swollen bellies with things perishable, and drink up the gluttonies of life. Yet he who would partake of the Banquet of Light must pass this way and sojourn a while amongst these animals, who are so filled with swinish itchings and unbridled fornications that they perceive not that their manger and their dunghill lie side by side as twins in one bed. For a space he must listen to the hiccuping of those who are loaded with wine, and the snorting of those who are stuffed with food, and must {219} watch these lecherous beasts who insult the name of man rolling in their offal, gambolling, and itching with a filthy prurience after the mischievous delights of lewdness, drunkenly groping amongst the herds of long-haired boys and short-skirted girls, from whom they suck away their beauty, as milk from the udders of a goat. He must dwell for a time with these she-apes, smeared with white paint, mangled, daubed, and plastered with the “excrement of crocodiles” and the “froth of putrid humours,” who are known as women. Disreputable hags who keep up old wives’ whispering over their cups, and who, as filthy in body as in mind, with unbridled tongues clatter wantonly as they giggle over their sluttish whisperings, shamelessly making with their lips sounds of lewdness and fornication. And wanton young dabs with mincing gait swing their bodies here and there amongst the men, their faces smeared with the ensnaring devices of wily cunning. Winking boldly and babbling nonsense they cackle loudly, and like fowls scratching the dunghill seek the dirt of wealth; and having found it, pass their way to the gutter and the grave loaded with gold like a filthy purse.

O seeker! All this must thou bear witness to, and become a partaker in, without becoming defiled or disgusted, and without contempt or reverence; then of a certain shalt thou find the Golden Key which turneth the bolt of evil from the staple of Good, and which openeth the door which leadeth unto the Palace of the King, wherein is the Temple. For when thou hast discovered Beauty and Wisdom and Truth in the swollen veins, in the distended bellies, in the bubbling lips, in the lewd gambollings, in the furious greed, the wanton {220} whisperings, the sly winkings, and all the shameless nonsense of the Outer Court, then indeed shalt thou find that the Key of gold is only to be found in the marriage of wantonness and chastity. And taking it thou shalt place it in the lock of cherubic fire which is fashioned in the centre of the door of the King’s house, which is built of ivory and ebony and studded with jet and silver; and the door shall open for a time as if a flame had been blown aside, and thou shalt see before thee a table of pearl on which are set the hidden waters and the secret bread of the Banquet of Light. And thou shalt drink and eat and become bright as a stream of molten silver; and, as the light of the body is the eye, so shalt thy true self become as an eye unto thee, and see all things, even the cup of the third birth; and, taking it, thou shalt drink from the cup the eucharist of Freedom, the wine of which is more fragrant than the sweet-scented grapes of Thrace, or the musk-breathing vines of Lesbos, and is sweeter than the vintage of Crete, and all the vineyards of Naxos and Egypt. And thou shalt be anointed with sweet-smelling nards, and unguent made from lilies and cypress, myrtle and amaranth, and of myrrh and cassia well mixed. And in thine hair shall be woven rose-leaves of crimson light, and the mingling loveliness of lilies and violets, twined as the dawn with night. And about thee shall waft a sweeter fragrance than the burning of frankincense, and storax, and lign-aloes; for it is the breath of the Temple of God. Then shalt thou step into the King’s Palace, O warrior! and a voice more musical than the flute of ivory and the psaltery of gold, clear as a bell of mingled metals in the night, shall call unto thee, and thou shalt follow it to the throne which is as a perfect cube of {221} flaming gold set in a sea of whiteness; and then shalt thou be unrobed of sleep and crowned with the silence of the King — the silence of song, of thought, and of reason, that unthinkable silence of the Throne.


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Part I: Index | Preface | The Black Watch-Tower | The Miser | The Spendthrift | The Bankrupt | The Prude | The Child | The Wanton | The Slave | The Warrior | The King | The White Watch-Tower

The Temple of Solomon the King | Part I | Part II | Part III | Part IV | Part V | Part VI | Part VII | Part VIII | Part IX


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