There had been a recent thread on an occult forum which posed the question: ‘If you had to recommend one book for someone to read about Magick, which would it be?’ It didn’t take long for my answer to pop into my head. Of course, it was The Book of the Law by Aleister Crowley. I had even given the book out to several people in life.
One person probed into my interest in the book and my suggested reading of it. They asked that I describe to them what they should have taken from it, and wondered why it was such a source of fear and confusion. The response I offered suggested that they further tried to digest it on their own, and that perhaps we could discuss it another time – though that conversation never happened. Either they came to their senses and found something better to do than to converse with me, or they simply never returned to the book.
I mention the above, as with my recent articles, I have been trying to tie some ‘strings’ together and help bring some new attention to Crowley’s masterpiece. I’ve also offered in several instances an explanation of why in my opinion Binah = Understanding = Hypnosis (Hip-Gnosis), and decided to tie it in finally to the reading of the Book of the Law.
“The medium is the message”, an expression famously stated by Marshall McLuhan, a philosopher of Communication Theory. By this, he meant that the form of a medium embeds itself in the message, creating a symbiotic relationship by which the medium influences how the message is perceived. The Book of the Law is an undeniable art book that is purely an experience. It’s parameters are established in the Introduction; that the book was dictated over 3 days (April 8-10th) in 1904, and that its source was non-human; in fact it was from a messenger of the forces ruling the earth at present time in Aiwass (“the minister of Hoor-paar-kraat” – the Lord of Silence).
It’s established that Aiwass has knowledge outside of time; that the book has a lot to offer which has not yet been revealed; that supreme human scholarship is demanded for its interpretation, and that the language of most of the book is admirably simple, clear and vigorous – no one can read it “without being stricken in the very core of [their] being”. The book established a new paradigm of thought and looks to reconcile all existing schools of philosophy.
So why is there such confusion in trying to understand it? Perhaps it’s the fact that the reader is often trying to “consciously understand” what they are reading… To quote legendary composer Richard Wagner in his (1851) A Communication To My Friends: “The artist addresses himself to feeling, not to [intellectual] understanding: if he is answered in terms of [intellectual] understanding, it means that he has not been [instinctively] understood.”
As the Book of the Law is in simple language and is full of energy, readers will not get lost if they simply continue reading – to endure til the end of the book (which is short enough for anyone to do in one-sitting). I’ve mentioned repeatedly in previous articles about the Polyphony of Thought (that we have thinking in words, and then thought which has not yet developed into words and appears as impressions/images – and is known as “feeling thought”); it is my opinion that the most powerful art should move the observer simply into a state of understanding (feeling is understanding) where they will not interfere or meddle in the experience with conscious thought. The art of the Book of the Law is that it comes to life and leaps off the page, from the story of its conception, to the fact that the writer battled with himself and the forces which pushed his pen. It’s very dramatic, and powerful for the reader to envision the performance of Crowley writing the dialogue which forbids him to change a letter.
“At a performance of a dramatic work of art, nothing should remain for the synthesizing intellect to search for: everything presented in it should be so conclusive as to set our feeling at rest about it: for in this setting at rest of feeling, after it has been aroused to the highest pitch in the act of sympathetic response, resides that very repose which leads us towards an instinctive understanding of life. In drama, we must become knowers through feeling.” – Richard Wagner, Opera and Drama (1850)
To enforce the impact of the first reading of the Book (and to emphasize and enhance the power of the experience to the reader), the book includes The Comment in which Crowley writes against immediate intellectual approach: “The study of this Book is forbidden. It is wise to destroy this copy after the first reading.” Then to evoke fear in the reader its followed with a warning: “Whosoever disregards this does so at his own risk and peril. These are most dire.”
Most importantly in The Comment is the remark: “All questions of the Law are to be decided only by appeal to my writings, each for himself.” This places an importance on the intuitive capacities of each individual reader; and provides them with the responsibility to create their own understanding of the Book of the Law after having consumed it.
The tip I’d offer to those who’ve yet to read the book, or to those who will venture into the spell for their first time, is again to read the book without an asserted effort of understanding in what is being read. If one is familiar with Alice Bailey, in her book ‘From Intellect to Intuition‘ first published in 1932, she wrote of how one should read holy books, mystical poetry, etc. with what she termed “Spiritual Reading”, “It really signifies reading with the eyes of the soul, with the inner vision alert to find out that which is sought. It is realized that all forms are only symbols of an inner or spiritual reality, and spiritual reading involves the development of the faculty of “reading” or seeing the life aspect which the outer form veils and hides.”
In another chapter of ‘From Intellect To Intuition‘ titled ‘The Purpose of Education‘, Bailey writes: “We rate the science of the mind or the modifications of the thinking principle (as the Hindu calls it) as strictly human, relegating man’s instinctual reactions to qualities he shares in common with the animals. May it not be possible that the science of the intuition, the art of clear synthetic vision, may some day stand to the intellect as it, in its turn, stands to the instinctual faculty.”
It’s an interesting thought to end on. Will the light of Gnosis reach the masses through their coming to terms with the message of the Book of the Law, and the skill it provides its reader which is revealed in their coming to terms with the modality of the new Aeon?
Lastly, from Google’s definition of Colophon: “In publishing, a colophon is a brief statement containing information about the publication of a book such as the place of publication, the publisher, and the date of publication. A colophon may also be emblematic or pictorial in nature.”
The Book of the Law’s Colophon:
“The fool readeth this Book of the Law, and its comment; & he understandeth it not.
Let him come through the first ordeal, & it will be to him as silver.
Through the second, gold.
Through the third, stones of precious water.
Through the fourth, ultimate sparks of the intimate fire.”