A Discourse on the Pranava of the Creed

T Polyphilus

The Creed of our Church consists of eight articles
But there is more to it than that;
It concludes with a threefold repetition
Of a mystical monosyllable.
I’m going to chant that eight times now,
And I encourage you to join me.


Our Saint Forlong Dux wrote an article
Highlighting the Vedic origins of this word,
Which he (and many since) spelled O-M.
Quoting another authority, he writes,

“Who meditates on Om … really meditates on all the Vedas:

“for it is the root (linga) or breath of life and symbol of speech,

“the name not only of all our physical and mental powers,

“but especially of the living principle—the Prana or spirit…

“It is the Akasha, ether, or origin of all things…

“One of the earlier and less perfect names … of Brahma.”

But, writes Forlong, the modern Vedantists
“spiritualize the original meaning;
“and in the Vedas Om is a talisman,
“which Sir Monier Williams calls
‘the creative energy inherent in the universe.’”
Forlong tells us that Om is used to invoke
Agni, Ganesha, Krishna, Shiva, and other gods.
He quotes the Purana: “All things pass away,
“But Om never … it is the symbol of the lord of all things.”

Another spelling of the Pranava
Reflecting no difference in pronunciation
Uses the three letters A-U-M.
And these three sounds of open, gathered, and closed breath
Have served to represent trinities
Like that of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva,
The deities of creation, preservation, and destruction.

The Pranava is associated with the Ajna chakra,
The subtle center or wheel at the “third eye.”
In the Sat-cakra-nirupana, we are told
That in the two-petalled lotus of the Ajna is Om,
which is described as “the first Bija of the Vedas,
“which is the abode of the most excellent Shakti
“and which by its lustre makes visible the Brahma-sutra.”

In the Siva Samhita, the yogi is instructed to
“Destroy the multitude of the karmas by the pranava,”
and to come to liberation in a single lifetime.
In the preeminent classic of yoga literature,
Patanjali offers the pranava as an instrument of attainment, and says

“The word that manifests God is Om.”

Swami Vivekenanda, in his commentary on Patanjali
Emphasizes the universal quality of Om:

The word has been retained at every stage

of the religious growth in India and has been manipulated

to mean all the various ideas about God.

Monists, dualists, mono-dualists, separatists,

And even atheists have taken up this Om.

Om has become the one symbol for the religious aspiration

Of the vast majority of human beings.

From Indian religion, the mantra Om has been taken up
Into the teachings of European occultists.
The founder of modern occultism as such,
Our Saint Alphonse Louis Constant, wrote as Eliphas Levi,
regarding an unusual anthology of Upanishads
translated through a Persian edition called Oupnek’hat,
that this text was “the progenitor of all grimoires
“and the most curious among the antiquities of the Goëtia.”
Levi calls it “darkness spangled with stars,”
And he quotes from it with respect to the “ritual” in which
“the divine Om must be repeated inwardly forty times”
“while a single breath is retained.

He also quotes at length a very dramatic passage:

“Think therefore of the great Om,

“which is the name of the Creator,

“and is that universal, pure and indivisible voice

“which fills all things.

“This voice is the Creator Himself,

“Who becomes audible to the contemplative after ten manners.

“The first sound is like that of a little sparrow;

“The second is twice the first in volume;

“The third is like the sound of a cymbal;

“The fourth is as the murmur of a great shell;

“The fifth is comparable to the song of the India lyre;

“The sixth is like the sound of the instrument called tal;

“The seventh resembles the sound of a bacabou flute;

“The eighth is like that of the instrument called Pakaoudj,

“Which is struck with the hand.

“The ninth is like the sound of a little trumpet

“And the tenth like that of a thundercloud.

“At each of these sounds

“The contemplative passes through different states,

“And at the tenth he becomes God.”

Masonic Scottish Rite organizer Albert Pike read Levi,
And in Pike’s lecture for the twenty-eighth degree,
He says that the Hindu word AUM
“was said to make the Earth tremble,
“and the Angels of Heaven to quake for fear.”
Pike quotes “the Ramayan” to say that AUM represents

“The Being of Beings, One Substance in three forms;

“without mode, without quality, without passion:

“Immense, Incomprehensible, Infinite, Indivisible,

“Immutable, Incorporeal, Irresistible.”

Another pillar of nineteenth-century occultism,
The Theosophist Helena Patrovna Blavatsky
Describes AUM as the formula of a trinity,
And she compares it to the qabalistic ain sof
As a figure of “the great Unknown.”
In her Voice of the Silence, which Crowley studied carefully,
She refers to the Hindu Kala Hamsa as
“The Great Bird … which is not born, nor dies,
“but is the AUM throughout the eternal ages.”
And this “Bird of Life” is the Swan that appears
Identified with AUM in Thelemic Holy Books.

A later celebrity of the Theosophical Society,
Bishop Leadbetter of the Liberal Catholic Church,
Provided a metaphor for the use of the word AUM:

The special effect of this word

When properly sounded at the beginning of meditation

Or in a meeting is always like a call to attention.

It arranges the particles of the subtle bodies in much the same way

As an electric current acts upon the atoms in a bar of iron.

Before the passing of such a current,

The ultimate atoms in the metal lie pointing in various directions,

But when the bar is magnetized by the electric current,

They all turn over and lean in the same direction.

Just so, at the sound of the sacred word

Every particle in us responds,

And we are then in the best condition to benefit

By the meditation or study which is to follow.

Human and non-human—who at once gather round,

Some with understanding of the meaning and power of the word,

And others brought by the strangely attractive sound.

And this idea of Leadbeater’s,
That AUM should serve as “a call to attention,”
To come before sacred work in a group,
Has a clear connection to the way that we use it in the Mass,
Chanting it before the Priestess enters.

Leadbeater also writes about AUM
As a formula of four parts, rather than three.
He points to one of Blavatsky’s footnotes
citing an edition of the Rig-Veda,
to anatomize the written word AUM in Sanskrit,
where the marks corresponding to A and U are the wings,
the M respresents its tail,
and the silent ardhamatra or half-meter is its head.

Aleister Crowley likewise expands the number of characters
Involved in this important formula,
Thus giving us the five letters A-U-M-G-N
Involved in the AUMGN of our Creed.
He analyzes the three-lettered AUM
On phonetic and cabalistic principles
As a formula suited to the Old Aeon:
“the expression of a dogma which implies catastrophe in nature”
In order to remedy this defect,
Crowley adds G and N, explaining:

Now it so happens that the root GN signifies

both knowledge and generation combined in a single idea,

in an absolute form independent of personality.

The G is a silent letter, as in our word Gnosis;

And the sound GN is nasal,

Suggesting therefore the breath of life

As opposed to that of speech.

Impelled by these considerations,

The Master Therion proposed to replace the M of AUM

By a compound letter MGN,

Symbolizing thereby the subtle transformation

Of the apparent silence and death

Which terminates the manifested life of the vau by knowledge,

the Virgin Moon [G] and the Serpent [N]

furthermore operating to include in the idea

a commemoration of the legend

so grossly deformed in the Hebrew legend of the Garden of Eden….

Crowley goes on to ratify the soundness of his change
By noting that the “compound letter MGN”
Has the numeric value of ninety-three,
Equal to “Thelema” itself.
He also adds the full five letters of AUMGN
To arrive at the number one hundred, which, he tells us,

as initiates of the Sanctuary of the Gnosis of O.T.O. are taught,

expresses the unity under the form of complete manifestation

by the symbolism of pure number …

[and] mysteriously indicates the Magical formula of the Universe

as a reverberatory engine for the extension of Nothingness

through the device of equilibrated opposites.

One pair of such opposites, he observes in a footnote,
Are the Hebrew letters kaph and peh,
Which, transliterated into Greek, serve as the initials
For the Greek words denoting vulva and penis.
He also notes that Hebrew qoph is one hundred,
And he discusses the tarot trump The Moon as

a synthetic glyph of the subtle energies

employed in creating the Illusion, or Reflection of Reality,

which we call manifested existence.

Crowley concludes his description of AUMGN by declaring it to be

a mantra of terrific power by virtue whereof

[the student] may apprehend the Universe,

and control in himself its karmic consequences.

Most occultists who have written about the pranava
Compare it to the Christian “Amen,”
And it seems to be used that way in the Gnostic Mass,
At the end of various prayers and invocations.
And Christian creeds conclude with Amen,
Just as ours does with AUMGN.

The word Amen means “So be it” in Hebrew;
When we say “So mote it be” in the Gnostic Mass,
It is really just an English version of “Amen.”
In early Christian liturgies, each communicant
Would reply after tasting of the eucharist: “Amen.”
So that it was used as a formula in the place where we say,
“There is no part of me that is not of the gods.”

In his Book of Lies, Crowley makes the word AMEN
Into the entire text of the final chapter.
He puts periods after each letter, to suggest a formula concealed,
But he does not explain the formula,
Proposing instead in his commentary that
“The final Mystery is always insoluble.”

In the Apocalypse, AMEN is actually a name or title
of the “one like unto the Son of Man,” who calls himself
“the Amen, the faithful and the true witness,
“the beginning of the creation of God.”

Saint Forlong explains that the word AMEN
Means “verily” in Hebrew, and he traces its origin
To the name of “a supreme Egyptian creative deity.”
Forlong observes that “In the Ammonium of the Lybian desert,
[Ammon] appears … as a black lingam.”
The name in Egyptian means “hidden,”
And the Romans identified Ammon with Jupiter.
This same god Amoun appears as one of our saints.

Now at some points in our rituals,
We chant a single AUMGN,
But in the Creed and at other times,
We repeat it thrice.
On the function of repeating the pranava, a helpful rishi explains:

By constant repetition of AUM

its meaning is borne into the consciousness and perception.

Thus the mind of the Yogi becomes one-pointed

And balanced in equilibrium

And partakes of the AUM which it contemplates.

AMEN is also tripled in many liturgies.
In our Creed, the three repetitions of AUMGN
Follow the eight articles of doctrine,
To make eleven: the number of Magick.

Just as we recited an eight-fold AUMGN at the beginning of this discourse,
I will now conclude with three more
To make that Magick eleven.
And I encourage you to join me,
Aspiring to the ain sof aur,
The insoluble Mystery of limitless light
Beyond the hidden Crown.

In the name of CHAOS,


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