On the Mass of the Phoenix
An Analysis by Michael Osiris Snuffin (2003)
What is the Mass of the Phoenix? The answer is not a simple as you might think. The Mass of the Phoenix makes its debut as Chapter 44 of Aleister Crowley’s Book of Lies with no real explanation. At least the “Official Instructions of the A.’.A.’.” gives a basic description of the Mass of the Phoenix:
“An instruction in a simple and exoteric form of Eucharist. A Ritual of the Law.”
This indicates that the Mass of the Phoenix is a true Mass, in that it celebrates the Eucharist. In Liber Aleph, Crowley puts the Mass of the Phoenix on par with the Gnostic Mass:
“Neglect not the daily Miracle of the Mass, either by the Rite of the Gnostic Catholic Church, or that of the Phoenix.”
The “Miracle of the Mass” is the process of transubstantiation, whereby the bread and wine are transformed into the body and the blood of a God. The general nature of this Eucharist is explained in Chapter 20 of Magick in Theory and Practice:
“The Eucharist of Two Elements has its matter of the passives. The wafer (Pantacle) is of corn, typical of Earth; the wine (Cup) represents Water. (There are certain other attributions. The wafer is the Sun, for instance; and the wine is appropriate to Bacchus.) The wafer may, however, be more complex, as the ‘Cake of Light’ described in Liber Legis. “This is used in the exoteric ‘Mass of the Phoenix’ mixed with the blood of the Magus. This Mass should be performed daily at sunset by every Magician.
Corn and wine are equivalent to flesh and blood; but it easier to convert live substances into the body and blood of God, than to perform this miracle upon dead matter.”
The Eucharist of the Mass of the Phoenix consists of the Cakes of Light (bread) and the blood of the magician (wine). However, the blood of the magician is also the “live substance” that is added to the Cake of Light during the ritual, and it is thereby that the two elements become one Eucharist. This is the best kind of Eucharist according to Chapter 20:
“The highest form of the Eucharist is that in which the Element consecrated is One.
It is One substance and not two, not living and not dead, neither liquid nor solid, neither hot nor cold, neither male nor female.
This Sacrament is secret in every respect. For those who may be worthy, although not officially recognized as such, this Eucharist has been described in detail and without concealment, somewhere in the published writings of The MASTER THERION.”
The secret is actually published only pages away in Chapter 12 of Magick in Theory and Practice, where Crowley symbolically equates blood with semen through barely cryptic references to human sacrifice. The Mass of the Phoenix is also mentioned in Chapter 12:
“But the bloody sacrifice, though more dangerous, is more efficacious; and for nearly all purposes human sacrifice is the best. The truly great Magician will be able to use his own blood, or possibly that of a disciple, and that without sacrificing the physical life irrevocably. An example of this sacrifice is given in Chapter 44 of Liber 333. This Mass may be recommended generally for daily practice.”
The Eucharist of the Mass of the Phoenix now takes on a whole new meaning: the blood is semen and therefore the Cakes of Light are the gluten, or sexual essence of the female. The blood is used to fertilize the Cake of Light to create the sexually charged Eucharist. This idea is reflected in Chapter 3 of The Book of the Law, which gives the recipe for the Cakes of Light:
23. For perfume mix meal & honey & thick leavings of red wine: then oil of Abramelin and olive oil, and afterward soften & smooth down with rich fresh blood.
24. The best blood is of the moon, monthly: then the fresh blood of a child, or dropping from the host of heaven: then of enemies; then of the priest or of the worshippers: last of some beast, no matter what.
25. This burn: of this make cakes & eat unto me.
The preferred blood in the recipe is menstrual blood, which includes female sexual fluids and an unfertilized ovum. It is important to note that the next best blood is the “fresh blood of a child,” which is a symbolic reference to sperm. A female Magician may therefore choose to make their Cakes of Light with the male essence or sperm for use in this Mass.
From a practical point of view, the Mass of the Phoenix works much better as a sex magick ritual than the traditional literal interpretation of the script. Crowley instructed us to perform the Mass of the Phoenix on a daily basis, but if you scratched the same sigil into the breast with this frequency you would end up with a permanent wound! At the same time there would be no discomfort and risk in masturbating daily to perform the Mass of the Phoenix.
So how does the Mass of the Phoenix work as a sex magick ritual? After reciting the Adorations from The Book of the Law, the Magician masturbates to orgasm. At the moment of orgasm, he visualizes the “proper sign” to direct the energy. (Although Crowley never specifies exactly what the “proper sign” is, many Thelemites use the Mark of the Beast, the sigils of the Sun and Moon conjoined.) He smears the semen on the second Cake of Light and eats it as the Eucharist. It is in this manner that the Magician can perform the Miracle of the Mass every day.
Copyright © 2010 Michael Osiris Snuffin
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