A Discourse on the Second Article


T Polyphilus

And I believe in one Earth, the Mother of us all,
and in one Womb wherein all men are begotten,
and wherein they shall rest,
Mystery of Mystery, in Her name BABALON.

On a previous occasion I shared with you
Some of my own explorations
Into the material that surrounds and informs
The first article of our creed
As I mentioned then I want to emphasize once more
That the meaning of the Creed is not for me to give to you
It is a Mystery of Mystery
To which you must attain through individual effort
Deep in the sanctuary of your own conscience
And consciousness

All that I aspire to
In the remarks that I present here
Is to provide to you some materials and ideas
That have been helpful to me
In my own efforts to penetrate the Mystery
And to grasp our Gnosis
Efforts to know what I believe
And how it fits together with what we say
When we stand together
Holding our minds in our voices [make sign]
To recite, I believe
In one Earth, the Mother of us all

This is an idea that is so familiar
It borders on the cliché
Mother Earth, Mother Nature
The feminine Nature of the planet
Versus the masculine Culture of our species
Our mother, from whose apron strings
This civilization struggles to be loosed
The ultimate “Mother of fertility

“On whose breast lieth water,
“Whose cheek is caressed by air
“And in whose heart is the sun’s fire“:

Who could fail to believe in that?

Well, it’s a curious thing
But many cultures don’t see earth as mother
In ancient Egypt, for example
Geb was the father earth
And Nut the mother heaven
The male Osiris was earth-bound
While his wife Isis sailed the sky

In ancient Greek lore
It’s true, Gaia was the earth
And the mother of many gods
But she seems to lurk far back
In the mists of theogony
She’s not one of the Olympians

Demeter and Proserpine were earthy goddesses
And they were very important
Especially in the Eleusinian Mysteries
The most famous initiations of Greek antiquity
But these great old Mysteries and their related cults
Were eventually suppressed by a Christianized empire
And there’s no Mother Earth in the Bible

In the High Middle Ages there was a woman
Who represented “The World”
Now that’s not quite the same thing as the Earth
Nor is it exactly the Universe
Although it is that same World-Woman
Who became the World Trump in the Tarot
Which Crowley retitled “The Universe”
The medieval “World”
Was more like society-and-then-some
A mixture of nature and culture
That meant “all the people where they live”

Anyway, the World-Woman mostly vanished
Except in strange packs of cards
And sometimes, in the Renaissance
In ideas about the anima mundi:
The “soul of the world”
An idea from late antiquity
That was taken up by Hermetists
And other esoteric philosophers

Now the Renaissance did see
A renewal of cultural interest
In the goddesses of the ancient world
But earth goddesses were not high on the list
The most popular of the revived goddesses
Was Venus, the lady of love
Followed by Diana, for chastity
And then Athena, for wisdom
And Juno, for queenliness
These were all shiny alabaster Olympians
Goddesses of culture, not nature–
Not a chthonian Mother among them

Eventually this changed
In the nineteenth century
The literary emphases of Romanticism
Made a dramatic shift among the goddesses
Soon, Diana was most popular
But instead of chastity
Her significance was the moon
And the hunt, and wild places
Venus was still adored
But as often as she meant passion
She came to mean the sea
The ocean from which she was born
Athena and Juno were eclipsed
By Proserpine, for death and the seasons
And Demeter, for earth and harvest
And this is when we finally see
In English and other languages
“Mother Earth” and “Mother Nature”

The poet Percy Bysse Shelley
Of whose ideas the young Aleister Crowley
Was to become “passionately enamoured”
Entitled his first original ode ‘The Song of Proserpine’
In the year Eighteen Twenty he wrote,

Sacred goddess, Mother Earth,
Thou from whose immortal bosom
Gods, and man, and beasts, have birth,
Leaf and blade, and bud and blossom.

Similar sentiments appeared in the poems of Keats,
of other Romantics and their imitators
And this trend gathered force down the decades
To reach its brilliant poetic acme
In the work of Charles Algernon Swinburne
Who is invoked as a saint of our Church
In Swinburne’s Eighteen Sixty-seven poem “Hertha”
A German earth goddess attains pantheistic stature
And she declares it in lines like these:

First life on my sources
First drifted and swam;
Out of me are the forces
That save it or damn;
Out of me man and woman, and wild-beast and bird;
Before God was, I am.

But this phenomenon was not limited to poetry.
In the middle of that century
A classicist named Eduard Gerhard
Decided that there was a single earth goddess
Lurking at the back of ancient Greek religion
And gradually many of his peers
Took this Götter-Mütter idea seriously
A Swiss judge named Bachofen
Argued that primitive property relations
Must have produced mother-based societies
Before patriarchal ones
And some anthropologists suggested
That the religious conceptions
Must have developed in parallel
With a prehistoric “Age of the Mother”
Before the historical “Age of the Father”

And in the ferment of alternative religions
In the late nineteenth century, a ferment
Following mesmerism and spiritualism
With occultism and theosophy
We can find Doctor Anna Kingsford
A famous mystic, author and lecturer,
Proponent of mystical Christianity
Leader of the Hermetic Society
Which was a seedbed for the Golden Dawn.
Crowley called Kingsford a “religious genius”
She received many inspired texts
In early March Eighteen Eighty-one
She wrote a “Hymn to Demeter,” saying:

And thou, Demeter, fair Earth-Mother
Whose bosom the patient ox treadeth,
Whose hands are full of plenty and blessing
Angel of the crucible, guardian of the dead
Who makest and unmakest, who combinest and dissolvest
Who bringest forth life out of death,
And transformest all bodies.
They are sown as seed in thy furrows;
They are buried therein, as the droppings of the ripened ear;
from thy womb they came forth,
and to thee they return,
O Mother of birth and sleep!

Kingsford believed in that, and so do I!

And in one Womb wherein all men are begotten,
and wherein they shall rest,

The womb is a fluid environment
The oceans of Mother Earth
Can represent the womb of Nature;
Qabalistically, this idea leads to
The great sea of Binah
A figure of mystical Understanding
And Understanding is also a key to that

Mystery of Mystery, in Her name BABALON.

For the most part, the Hebrew scriptures
Were edited and canonized
Twenty-five hundred years ago
During the “Babalonian Captivity”
This was a seventy-year period
During which the Judean elite
Lived and worked “by the rivers of Babylon”
Because Judea and Jerusalem
Had been conquered by Assyrian Babylon
Which was in turn conquered
By the Medo-Persian empire
The captive Hebrews learned from their rulers
And bided their time, waiting
To return and rule their homeland
Through a military monotheism
That would be more pure and robust
Than the strange mixtures in Babylon
The imperial metropolitanism
That the Judeans punningly called
A tower of “Babble” or confusion
(Even though the Bab-el of “Babylon”
Really meant “Gate-Bab of God-Al”)
And the prophet Jeremiah declared

Babylon hath been a golden cup in the Lord’s hand,
That hath made all the earth drunken:
The nations have drunken of her wine;
Therefore the nations are mad.

It was in Babylon that “Temple Judaism”
Took its form before being born
Babylon was the womb
The empire where that religion gestated
Just like Christianity was incubated
Later in the Roman Empire
And John of Patmos in his Revelation
Drew on the images from Jeremiah to describe Rome,

As “the great whore that sitteth upon many waters
“With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication
“And the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk
“With the wine of her fornication”

In John’s account he saw a woman

sit upon a scarlet-colored beast,
full of names of blasphemy,
having seven heads and ten horns.
And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet color
and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls
having a golden cup in her hand
full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication
And upon her forehead was a name written:
And I saw the woman
drunken with the blood of the saints,
And with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus
And when I saw her
I wondered with great admiration.

Now historically, the blood of the Christian martyrs
Inseminated the pagan womb of Roman Babylon
Where the Christian Church gestated
Like the Judean cult gestated in the Babylo-Persian empire
Like the Law of Thelema gestates in the Babylon
Of the Anglo-American empire?
[stage whisper] I sometimes think I believe in that.

But why is her name spelled differently in our Creed?
How did the central letter change from Y to A?
Is spelling defunct?
Before we get closer to the spelling of the spell
Let’s look at something nearby, but further

The Apocryphon of John
Was one of the many Christian scriptures
That were rejected by the architects
Of what would become Christian orthodoxy
It includes a story of the origin of the world
In which there is a great female spirit

Whose name is Barbelo:
She is the first power, the glory
Barbelo, the perfect glory among the worlds…
She became the universal womb,
For she precedes everything.

Thus The Apocryphon of John.
Some other writings call Barbelo “Prunikos”
Which means “lewd one” or harlot
The orthodox Christians disliked all these writings
They also disliked those who read them
Epiphanius writes about the horrible Barbelognostics
Who can recognize each other by a secret token
A tickling of the palm in a handshake
How they have their women in common
And after splendid meals
They fornicate among themselves
And take their sexual fluids in hand
Consecrating them as a eucharist
Identifying them with the “body of Christ”
So too they take the women’s menses
And call them the “blood of Christ”
So says Epiphanius.

No one knows for sure
Where the name Barbelo comes from
Some think it is from the Coptic BLBILE
Which means “seed”
Others say the Hebrew B’arb’e’Eloha
Meaning “Deity in four powers”
Could Barbelo have something to do with Babalon?

To find the spelling B-A-B-A-L-O-N
We must come forward from antiquity
To the Elizabethan age
The English magicians John Dee and Edward Kelly
Were in Poland in Fifteen Eighty-four
Being taught a new language by angels
In that language (later called Enochian)
The word for “those who are wicked” is BABALON
The word for “harlot” is BABALOND
With a D on the end
The angels say that the Earth is “the bed of a harlot”
Pi i tianta babalond

Three years later in Bohemia
That harlot appeared to the magicians,
Bare-breasted and golden-girdled, saying,

I am the Daughter of Fortitude
And ravished every hour from my youth
For behold, I am Understanding
And Science dwelleth in me;
And the heavens oppress me,
They covet and desire me with infinite appetite…
I am deflowered, and yet a virgin
I sanctify, and am not sanctified…
I am a harlot for such as ravish me,
And a virgin for such as know me not

And it was by means of these angels
And the magic they disclosed to Dee and Kelly
That Aleister Crowley accomplished
His visions of the Thirty Aethyrs
Recorded in The Vision and the Voice
In the Aethyr of LOE he has a vision of BABALON
And in the frightful abyss of the Aethyr of ZAX
He learns the spelling of her name as a spell
To restrict the mighty devil Choronzon
And in the nearly-utmost Aethyr of ARN
BABALON gives herself in marriage
To the Master of the Temple
To the adept who has given up
All that he has and all that he is
To take his seat in the silence and darkness
Of the City of the Pyramids
Where is Understanding

In a later Holy Book the adept V.V.V.V.V.
Expanded on the vision of LOE
He used the images from John’s Revelation
Just like John drew from Jeremiah, writing

This is the secret of the Holy Graal,
that is the sacred vessel of our Lady the Scarlet Woman
Babalon the Mother of Abominations,
the bride of Chaos, that rideth on our Lord the Beast.
Thou shalt drain out thy blood that is thy life
Into the golden cup of her fornication
Thou shalt mingle thy life with the universal life
Thou shalt keep not back one drop.

Thus The Book of the Vault of Abiegnus.
Babalon’s cup holds the blood of the saints
So give your blood to the cup
In order to become a saint
And this Babalon is greater
Than any political or military empire
She is Understanding
She is the mystical Mother
And she is the Bride of Chaos
Universal womb to the universal phallus
The seven-lettered name of BABALON
And the four-lettered name of CHAOS
Make the magick eleven: ABRAHADABRA!

And later, in Crowley’s commentaries on The Book of the Law
He goes so far as to indicate
That BABALON is the “secret name” of Nuit
That he was given when he attained to Understanding

Is it enough to know what I believe?

“O BABALON, BABALON, thou mighty Mother,
“That ridest upon the crowned beast,
“Let me be drunken upon the wine of thy fornications;
“Let thy kisses wanton me unto death,
“That even I, thy cupbearer,
“May understand.”

In the name of CHAOS, Amen.

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