Chapter XLVII: Reincarnation


By Aleister Crowley

Chapter XLVII: Reincarnation

Cara Soror,

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

Don't I think I ought to write a book on the Four Last Things, or summat?  I do not.  What's more, I'll see you in Yorkshire's most important seaport first.

But all the same you are within your rights when you insist on knowing if I believe in Reincarnation; and, if so why; and how do I feel about it.  In other letters there is quite a lot of detail about the constitution of Man, and there is my Essay No. 1, in Little Essays Toward Truth; you had better get these well fixed in your mind, in case some of what now follows should prove obscure.  I can't be bothered to define all the technical terms all over again.

Do I believe in it?



(1) Because I remember a dozen or so of my previous lives on earth.  (See Magick, Chapter VI.)

(2) Because no other theory satisfies my feeling for “justesse,” for equilibrium, for Newton's Third Law of Motion.

(3) Because every religion asserts, or at least implies, it in some sense of other.

Even the Judaism—Christianity—Islam line of thought contains some such element.  The Jews were always expecting Elias to return; the disciples of Christ constantly asked questions involving it; and I feel that the Mohammedan doctrine of Antichrist and the Judgment at least toys with the idea.  Were I not so ignorant, I could dig up all sorts of support for this thesis.  But it doesn't matter so much in any case; we do not trouble to find “authority;” we put our shirts on Experience.

Now as to (1) what is evidence for me is hearsay for you; so forget it!  But there is a clear method of obtaining these memories for yourself.  See Liber Thisharb (Magick, pp. 415 - 422); and go to it!

As to (2) it seems to me fairly obvious.  The doctrine of Karma is plain common sense; and although a terrestrial set of causes might conceivably have their effects in other spheres of action, as of course they do, it seems less trouble for them to remain in their original ambit.  As I pointed out long ago, the Law of Karma is the Law of Inertia.

Nor is it necessary to assert that it always works out in this way; “sometimes” is quite good enough.  Besides, to say “sometimes” explains (or rather, avoids) most of the evident objections to the theory. I grant you cheerfully that Reincarnation is a comparatively rare occurrence; and it throws upon the objector the onus of proving an A or an E proposition.1

What is it that reincarnates?  We have had this before, in another connection; it is the Supernal Triad of Jechidah, Chiah and Neschamah that clothes the original Hadit or Point-of-View, with as much of the Ruach as the Human Consciousness, Tiphareth, has been able during a given life to attach to itself by dint of persistent Aspiration.  If there is not enough Ruach to ensure an adequate quota of Memories, one could never become conscious of the continuity between one life and the next.

Briefly, the orthodox theory as put forth by H.P.B. is that one works off one's Karma after death in Devachan, or Kama Loka, or some such place; when the balance is exhausted, one may come back to earth, or in some other way carry on the Great Work.  One theory—see Opus Lutetianum, the Paris Working—says that when one has quite finished with Earth-problems, one is promoted to Venus, where “bodies” are liquid, and thence to Mercury, where they are gaseous, finally to the Sun, where they are composed of pure Fire.  Eliphaz Lévi says: “In the Suns we remember; in the planets we forget.”

Most of this is he merest speculation, useless and possibly harmful; but I don't mind relaxing occasionally to that extent.

What is important is the Oath.

One who is vowed to the A∴A∴'s Mission for Mankind, who takes it dead seriously, and who will be neither frightened nor bored from Its majestic purpose, may at any time bind himself by an Oath to reject the rewards of Devachan, and reincarnate immediately again and again.  By “immediately” is meant about 6 months before the birth of the new Adept, about 3 months after his last death.  It depends to some extent, no doubt, on whether he can find a suitable vehicle.  Presumably he will make some sort of o preparation while still alive. It seems that I personally must have taken this Oath quite a long while ago; for the Incarnations which I actually remember leave very few gaps to be filled in the last dozen centuries or so.

Now, dear sister, I don't like this letter at all, and I am sorry that I had to write it.  For most of these statements are insusceptible of proof.

And yet I feel their truth much more strongly than I have ventured to express.  How many times have I warned you against “feelings?”

Love is the law, love under will.

Note: In the original a lengthy excerpt from Liber ThIShARB (CMXIII), from section 27 to end, was appended to this letter.  It is here omitted; the entire work may be studied here.

1: From the context it appears Crowley means a universal (for all x, f(x)) or negative existential (there is no x such that f(x)), in which case we should perhaps real “an A or ~E proposition.”  The point is that on any empirical matter (as opposed to, say, mathematical expressions which can be proved by induction) to prove such a proposition involves examining every possible x to find out whether or not f(x) — T.S.

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