Chapter LIII: "Mother-Love"


By Aleister Crowley

Chapter LIII: “Mother-Love”

Cara Soror,

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

You enthusiastically remark that the love of the mother for the off-spring is something that no man can understand: and you appear to prize it!

Well, some men have had a jolly good shot at it, notably Emile Zola.  The Usher goes into the corridor, and calls that name in strident and stentorian tones.  In he waddles, the squat obese bespectacled studious Jew, with the most devastating of all his thunderbolts under his arm—La Terre, and so what?

“How he will prologize, how he will perorate” about:

“The dewy musk-rose, mid-May's eldest child,
The murmurous haunt of flies on summer eves!”

He will not.

La Terre to him is indeed the mother of all men, sole source of our essential nourishment, the earth to which we are all bound in chains by our inexorable bodies, our ineluctable need of life—and death.

Sublime the thesis?  What does he make of it?  Theme No. 1 in the first chapter: rural love.  How exquisite, how delicate, first flush of dawn upon the glowing meadows!  The young man who is courting is not idle, either; he serves great nature in yet other ways.  He is taking a prize cow to be “served:” on him depend our milk, cheese, butter, veal and beef.  He also contributes to our Wienerschnitzel Holstein, or Filet de Boeuf à la Robespierre, our Sole au Gratin and our oeufs à la Neige.

So then, our rustic idyll!  “Rocked on the bosom of our Mother Nature.” Longus paints Daphnis and Chloe, Whowasit draws “Aucassin and Nicolette”—why, it's a root of literature itself all the way to Austin Dobson, Norman Gale and Thomas Hardy, Theocritus—er—hum—not so much of “Mother-love” Trinacria way!

Where Zola failed, who can hope to succeed?  To distinguish between brute and brute: no, dear lady, that task I not regretfully relinquish!

But in “refined” strata?  That cock won't fight, O thou Aspirant to the Sacred Wisdom!  It's very often worse; for under the anaesthetic, the most delicately-minded ladies of high social position and religious repute are apt to pour forth floods of filth which would disgust the coarsest harridans of slum-land!

This is the final fact: so long as our life is bound to that of the animal and vegetable worlds, so that we are bondslaves born to their quite ineradicable habits, so long are we dragged back from every flight of fancy or imagination such as would break the chains that anchor us to mud.

The most far-seeing of our prophetically minded writers, Aldous Huxley, brands this black fact upon our foreheads.

The first condition of a “Brave New World” must be the dissociation of sexual from reproductive life.1  The word “mother” must be as nauseating to all properly human minds as it now is to every one that has contemplated the subject with clear vision.

I know there is an answer to all this; in fact, The Book of the Law enables us to take it in our stride.

But there is another aspect of “mother-love” which is urgent, practical, and in no way dependent upon ideal considerations.

What do we find in practice as the immediate consequence of this “sublime,” this “holy” instinct?

Quite a few species of animals habitually devour their offspring; but women “know a trick worth two of that.”

No, no, let Zola rhapsodize!

Time passes.  Libitina smiles.  But the conditions are not spacious; both the “happy events”—real ladies and gentlemen emphasize this euphemism with a snigger and a smirk—are expected the same night, and the only place available is the barn.

Now Zola, well into his stride, gives us full details, hopping from one corner of the barn to the other, so accurately and so judicially that the reader very soon “loses his place,” and doesn't know which birth is being described in any given paragraph.

The accumulated hogwash of a billion sentimentalists dashes in vain against that cliff of ugly truth.

Next witness: Dr. Doughty, who looked after the health of Trinity College, Cambridge.

A swift routine examination: then he tilted his chair backwards, thrust his hands deep into his trousers pockets, fixed the patient with a glare of ice; then these words dropped like vitriol from his lips: “You—young—fool!  You go and put the most tender part of your body where I wouldn't put my umbrella!”

It is the magical formula of a man to push outwards, of a woman to close upon from without.

This is commonly seen as the possessive instinct: it may often be masked as “protective” but its essential truth is the impulse to devour.  Hence the death-like idea of “home,” where she can digest her victims in security and at leisure.

Hence, as even Jung saw in his very first book, and wrote in stated terms, the first task of manhood—of the “hero”—is to escape from the mother.  Now the son, with his male formula, his formula of life, his instinct to push out, to break down all that would restrain him, finds it perfectly natural to “bite the hand that fed him,” as the complaint might piteously wail.  But the daughter has no club to smash, no sword to cut; all she can hope to do is to pass the buck.  The amoeba, born of fusion,2 nourished by wrapping its pseudopods around such drifting particles as come within its scope, is but a parasite on its own dam until the fusion is complete.

So, when a woman is “so good,” “so devoted to her daughter,” God help the daughter!

She is never allowed to think for herself in the minutest matters; she is bound hand and foot remorselessly to the routine of her “decent Christian home;” a wageless kitchen-slut.  No hope of escape unless the mother's vampirism takes the form of selling her off to the highest bidder.

Need it be added that the “good mother” is usually quite unaware of all this, will read these simple statements of plain fact in speechless rage?

But the truth stands: the woman-formula is Death: “return to the Great Mother” is the catastrophe of the hero, whether he be Coriolanus or Peer Gynt.

It is surely unnecessary to state the rider to this theorem; so perhaps I had better:

Anyone who has not totally and for ever destroyed in himself every vestige of this instinct, extirpating every root and charring it with Fire, cannot take the first step on the Path of the Wise.

How nobly opposite is the Man-Formula!  Its freight the wealth of the whole Universe, that splendid Argosy leaps free upon the glittering Ocean, to cast the very Soul of Life upon uncharted and enchanted isles!

It is not to these few but well-chosen words that I propose to look to enhance my popularity in the Woman's Clubs of the United States.

Love is the law, love under will.

Yours fraternally,


P.S.  “Mother-Love” is, of course, a branch of family affection about which I have already written to you in no uncertain terms.  Of all its sub-sections this is the worst because it is the strongest, the most natural, that is to say, the most brutish.  You have complained pathetically on more than one occasion that I do not seem to know my own mind about Nature; that I am always contradicting myself.  Sometimes I tell you that everything is in Nature; that everything moves by Nature: that to oppose Nature is to provoke endothermic reaction, and then I leap headlong through the hoop of my own construction and want you to defy nature, to attack her, to overcome her.  Really, dear Master, it is too bad of you!

I know it sounds bad but there is not really the opposition that on the surface there seems to be.  Perhaps it is that we are talking about two kinds of Nature.  In one sense it might be asserted that the final formula of Nature is Inertia; in other words, that the dyad of manifested existence is an arbitrary and artificial development of the Zero to which everything must always cancel out.

Now by saying that, we have to all intents and purposes, answered the question which it poses; all positive development must be a conflict with that Inertia.  It is the opposition between the magical Path and the Mystical; we may therefore say fearlessly that all forms of progress, although they make use of the formulae of nature which have brought them to their present situation, are attempts to proceed further on the way of the True Will.

It is particularly important to understand this at the present time when the Aeon of Horus is just getting under way.  For the Aeon of Isis, that of the Mother, appears to have regarded the whole of Nature as a spontaneous growth of universal scope.  In the Aeon Of Osiris, the restriction of Family appears for the first time.

The world of sentient beings is separated into clusters, each family, clan, gens, or nation, acting as a unit and standing upon armed neutrality with respect to similar groups.  But in the Aeon of Horus this system has broken down.  That such is the case is already abundantly manifest.

Totalitarianism in any of its forms tends to break down the family structure.  It considers only the Individual, and him, merely as a unit in the welter of the state.

Experience will doubtless prove that this idea simply will not work.  The Individual will come to his own, but it will be impossible to reconstruct the Family System.

It will in particular be impossible to maintain the intimate relation between Mother and Child, which has been so dominant a feature of past civilizations.

The very social and economic causes which in the old time tended to cement the relationship, have become centrifugal in their effect.

1: It is by no means clear that Huxley saw the kind of society he described in Brave New World as particularly desirable; and it is odd that Crowley, given his scathing remarks on the subject of Utopias constructed on a priori grounds (vide chapter 79, “Progress” should seem to endorse such things.  In the “New Comment” on AL I, 40 Crowley similarly quotes, apparently favourably (in connection with the “Three Grades”) a proposal for a “Rational State” outlined by a character in an earlier Huxley novel, Crome Yellow (the scheme in question was in any case straight out of Plato's Republic); and yet in any such regulated society, “Irregularity, Eccentricity, Disorder, the Revolutionary Spirit, Experiment” are precisely those qualities which are stamped on, and hard – T.S.

2: sic, s.b. “fission” – T.S.

Previous | Magick Without Tears | Next


If you have found this material useful or enlightening, you may also be interested in


Ordo Templi Orientis, O.T.O., and the O.T.O. Lamen design are registered trademarks of Ordo Templi Orientis.


All copyrights on Aleister Crowley material are held by Ordo Templi Orientis. This site is not an official O.T.O. website, and is neither sponsored by nor controlled by Ordo Templi Orientis.

The text of this Aleister Crowley material is made available here only for personal and non-commercial use. This material is provided here in a convenient searchable form as a study resource for those seekers looking for it in their research. For any commercial use, please contact Ordo Templi Orientis.