I have been reading archived French papers from the early to mid 1900s, and I came across an image of Aleister Crowley which hasn’t been seen by many. It doesn’t appear to have been isolated from the article and/or posted to the internet before, so I have corrected that by creating the following:
I have been working on a book for about 10 years now which I am never satisfied with, looking to prove to readers that Crowley was a hypnotist and more importantly, that magick is hypnosis. I’ve collated hundreds of proofs and have carved a unique path in studying occultism as a result. (The book is currently known as Magick Unveiled: Hypnotism and the Occult, and I hope to release it to the world in the coming years). A major part of the book is showing that Aleister Crowley was a hypnotist, which people often seem to deny and take most issue with when I bring up the subject.
Today I was reading French newspapers in digital archives when I came across a story that has not previously been republished anywhere, or cited in regards to modern works about Crowley. It is an account from Charlotte Chabrier who wrote in L’Intransigeant, published on the 18th of April, 1929, of her encounters with the Great Beast. I am going to publish the article in full in a different project I am working on for the SATE, however I wanted to put a portion of it here below:
“In gratitude for the fact that I had introduced him to the director of a major magazine, whose English correspondent greatly admired his [Crowley’s] sonnets, he graciously wanted to initiate me into occultism, and I remember a session at my home, when I was living in this Montparnasse district which seems hideous to me today, in which he pretended to prevent those present, by the mere force of his fluid, from counting out loud further than twenty.
Alas! I went without the slightest difficulty to thirty, and only stopped because I had had enough. But other ladies, more influential or more amiable, gave him the satisfaction which, as a good mistress of the house, I should have been the first to give him… He also said that he could see through the thickest walls, with a look full of rays which pierced all obstacles. I am quite sure of the opposite. For how many times I saw him cross the courtyard which preceded my flat and come and ring tirelessly at my door, behind which I stood without moving, not being disposed to talk about occultism when my housework was not done.
He had convinced those around him that he could dislodge himself from his body at will. Perhaps this would be the moment for him to use this rare faculty.” – Charlotte Chabrier
The “force of his fluid” is of course the “lebensmagnetismus“, the magnetic fluid, and this “occult session” held by Crowley was clearly a demonstration of hypnosis – though Charlotte Chabrier was not susceptible to the induction technique applied by Crowley in the theatrical performance, delivered as if by a stage hypnotist. (Or perhaps he was still working on his act?)
Some other instances, should you wish to investigate, are that Crowley claimed to have hypnotized a newspaper-man who wrote an unfavourable article about him, as referenced by Tobias Churton in Aleister Crowley in America. Dion Fortune basing a fictional character off Crowley named Astley who has hypnotic control over women and has more knowledge about hypnosis than any other man in Europe… Bernard Bromage (as accounted in Light magazine) writing about his encounter with Crowley where Crowley tried hypnotizing him without Bromage’s awareness, which he countered, having known about the techniques Crowley was attempting to utilize. Or from the horse’s mouth: Crowley’s unpublished diary entry from March 15th, 1902 which shows that astrologer, and geomancer Elahi Bux once arrived at Crowley’s door, and how he taught Crowley to obtain a deadly hypnotic power: “Look hard at a point on the wall unwinking for many days, gradually increasing time. You will thus obtain hypnotic power even to Deadly and Hostile Current of Will.”
There’s plenty more evidence, but that is for another place and time. I hope you enjoyed Chabrier’s humorous account of her interactions with Crowley. If anything, they gave me a chuckle.
More: Over 2 years ago we put some attention on Crowley and hypnosis in a podcast, you can find it on our Youtube channel HERE.
Oswald Wirth (1860-1943) is going to be big figure over the next year for us at the SATE, as we currently have some projects underway that focus on this lesser known figure in Western Occultism, despite his profound influence and his great work. This post is to offer some details on him and to get you acquainted.
At 13 years old Joseph Paul Oswald Wirth obtained a book on mesmerism, and found with some play that he could magnetise a classmate who had complained of a sore mosquito bite, and he found success in remedying their pain. As he matured he went to the Catholic college of Saint-Michel at Fribourg where he had found further opportunities to learn about Mesmerism. This interest would stay with him and lead him to joining the Societe magnetique de France, which was under the leadership of Baron Du Potet.  Career-wise, he would remain focused on Mesmeric healing, and found that by the study of occultism, he could enrich his understanding of Mesmer’s techniques.
From the preface of his book Tarot of the Magicians, Wirth offers an account in which a woman he was healing with hypnosis went into trance and spoke of a future significant event in his life:
“Indulging as I was in the practice of occultism and before studying its theories deeply, I was, at the beginning of 1887, applying my hypnotic skills on a sick woman who fell asleep under my influence. She was a lucid patient who informed me of the state of her organs and of the effect produced by my fluid. Her tendency to chatter came out in spontaneous revelations, quite unexpected, to which I only paid moderate heed.
One day however, I was struck by my clairvoyant’s tone of conviction, which seemed to perceive with more accuracy than usual as she said ‘You will receive a letter with a red seal of armorial bearings!’ This she exclaimed as if this fact were of particular importance.
‘Can you see who the letter will come from?’
‘It is written by a young fair-haired man with blue eyes who has heard of you and wishes to make your acquaintance. He will be very useful to you and you will get on extremely well together.’
I asked other questions, but the replies were confused; they merely embarrassed the lady to no purpose. She was floundering and finally said, ‘Wait for the letter; I can see it clearly with its red seal. It will reach you in a few days, before the end of next week.’”
A few weeks went by and Wirth had assumed this vision was his patient “surrendering to the suggestion of her wandering imagination, as was her wont as soon as her vision ceased to relate to herself and to the stages of her cure.” And he said that “In short, lucidity is dependent on the instinct which urges the sick animal to seek its health-restoring grass. In any case it is easier to see clearly within onself, than to draw true information from the outside.” Draw information from the outside she did, however as Wirth finally received this predicted letter with its red armorial seal.
The letter was from a young Stanislas de Guaita (who famously first drew the upside-down pentagram containing a goats head), and the two would study esotericism together. Eventually this relationship would result in the Wirth/de Guaita Tarot – the first occult, cartomantic, and initiatory deck!
Wirth’s first published work in 1889 was Le Livre de Thot comprenant les 22 arcanes du Tarot — with Le Livre de Thot of course translating as “The Book of Thoth” (a title Aleister Crowley would go on to give his symbolic guide to the Tarot). Wirth would write numerous works, write introductions to occult texts, and become a Grand Master of Freemasonry in France.
 – Aleister Crowley would come to understand ritual whilst in a synchronicty holding Baron Du Potet’s book Magnetism. Potet’s book Magnetism and Magic mentions that all magical working is done through magnetism, and that in magnetism is the presence of magic.
Further: The first scientific experiment reported in literature containing hypnotic analgesia featured Baron Du Potet as a hypnotist working alongside surgeon Récamier in 1820 at the Hotel Dieu Hospital.
Further: Baron Du Potet would be a major influence on Dr. John Elliotson who was blown away by the magic of hypnosis. In 1846 Elliotson delivered the Harveian Oration, where he prodded his peers that science was neglecting hypnosis and was so rampant in his position that he implored others to study the material and phenomenon, that is, if they cared for truth, their own dignity, and the good of mankind. Elliotson would start a publication called The Zoist which he used to propagate hypnosis, though he continued to be viewed as a pariah in his profession.
Off the back of a meditation on Charity wherein I had mentioned that despite having done a post on Agape already, I had more to discuss or elaborate upon. Today we will examine “Wu” of the Zen tradition, and dig deeper into Thelema and why the 93 Current represents not just Thelema, but also the oft overlooked Agape (love) component, as in Thelema’s credo: “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law, love is the law, love under will”. Allow me to emphasize two matters here: 1. that Eliphas Levi said in his Key of the Mysteries, as translated by Aleister Crowley, that it is before charity that “faith prostrates itself, and conquered science bows. There is here evidently something greater than humanity; charity proves by its works that it is not a dream.” 2. The Greek word Agape would be translated into Latin as caritas, which is the etymological root for the word ‘charity.’ From Corinthians: Caritas patiens est, benigna est. Caritas non aemulatur, non agit perperam, non inflatur; non est ambitiosa, non quaerit quae sua sunt, non irritatur, non cogitat malum; non gaudet super iniquitate, congaudet autem veritati… or in English: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.”
The Thelemic concept of True, or Pure Will is sadly too slippery for many who study Thelema or dabble in the occult and who happen upon the phrase and imagine it to be exalted circumstance or situation. “My true will is to be an actor, or a singer,” they claim, and believe that through “Magick” they shall manifest that end and thus attain a transcendence from the world by manifesting an ethereal dream upon earth. While artistic expression may be a part of one’s path, true will is about Samadhi and enlightened action (which is constant). Central to Buddhism there is the Law (translated as the “Dharma”) and if one is enlightened, they are considered to be One with the Dharma. In Zen, or Chan Buddhism, a Chinese Buddhist creation of sudden enlightenment which blended the native Confucianism, folk traditions and philosophy, so seeing the light behind the shapes of letters, it contained concepts such as being One with the Dao (or Way / Path), etc. Daoism has “Wu Wei” which is considered the heart of the Dao, and roughly translates as non-doing or ‘doing nothing’, implying no action being taken, and/or “effortless action”. It is to act without contrivances and unnaturalness… Or as Crowley put it, “For pure will, unassuaged of purpose, delivered from the lust of result, is every way perfect.”
“Wu” means not-have, or emptiness, yet is more than that and represents the Cosmic Space element (a rough equivalent to Spirit), “Sunyata” (void), and is often represented by the symbol of Vairocana Buddha (whose name means “he who is like the Sun”). Vairocana is usually mapped as being in the center of the four classical elements. Enlightenment would be when one turns the light of awareness around, from seeking externally to seeing internally and realizing that one’s true nature is “No-nature”, known also as one’s Buddha-Nature. (This achieved is “Kensho” which translates as “seeing one’s true nature.”) Everyone is a Buddha, though they must take responsibility and come through direct understanding themselves, and then function IN seeing themselves. Zen has four statements to summarize the school’s teaching, which are that it is: 1. A special transmission outside the scriptures, 2. Not founded upon words and letters. 3. By pointing directly to [one’s] mind, 4. It lets one see into [one’s own true] nature and [thus] attain Buddhahood. (Buddha etymologically comes from बुद्ध and means “awake”, “enlightened”, etc.) When in “occult samadhi” according to the Zen teachings, one eats when hungry and sleeps when tired, and respond to situations freely and spontaneously – this is enlightenment, not something whimsical and unattainable. “Yea! deem not of change: ye shall be as ye are, & not other.”
There is a division of action, where one manoeuvres through life and situation in accordance with the Way, or in accordance to the Dharma/Law, as opposed to acting Adharmic (which is to act in and/or cause division, contrivances, confusion, discord, suffering, etc.). Compare to Magick, which Crowley states we are always doing and it is conditional where one can be performing it well, or poorly, and he redefined magick as the science and art of causing change to occur in conformity with Will. Zen is about suddenly realizing the root of suffering, and to achieve liberation right here, right now and to then take actions from playful samadhi. A translator of Zen texts, Charles Luk once said that in the earliest traditions of Chan Buddhism there were no fixed methods or formulas for teaching meditation, and that all instructions were heuristic methods to point to the true nature of the mind. He used as an example the Flower Sermon and the act of raising the flower, and said of Zen that it was referred to as the “Mind Dharma”. This is represented by the characters 心数 where 数 means number or count. If you look up “心数” in the Dictionary of Chinese Buddhist Terms: With Sanskrit and English by William Edward Soothill, and Lewis Hodous you will see beside it a note that: “The esoterics make Vairocana the Mind or Will.” (Let it also be known that the character 心 represents both heart, and the mind and implies Intuitive functioning). “Making Vairocana the Will” is to do “pure” or “true” Will. I will do a number of posts on enlightenment in Zen, the association of Vairocana Buddha and the use of its symbology, but for this discussion I wish to move us back to putting the light upon Wu and its relation to Agape.
Steve Odin’s The Social Self in Zen and American Pragmatism introduced me to the writing of Muto Kazuo who compared the Nothingness, Emptiness and Wu of Buddhism with the Christian concept of Agape. Muto uses as one example, how the New Testament says to “love your enemies as yourself,” but in order to “love your enemies as yourself” this paradoxically would mean that you must abandon the self. This indicates the operation of Nothingness that empties the self and transcends the self. Crowley, for example in the Book of Lies has a chapter on Samadhi titled The Stag Beetle, which contains the line: “In love the individuality is slain; who loves not love?” and to “love death therefore,” and to “die daily” (to which he leaves a note that by this he means to practice Samadhi every day.) Or we can look to the Book of the Law’s teaching of non-duality wherein Nuit says: “For I am divided for love’s sake, for the chance of union. This is the creation of the world, that the pain of division is as nothing, and the joy of dissolution all.”
Negative terms such as “self-sacrifice”, “self-negation”, “self-abandonment”, “self-emptying”, and “self-transcendence” describe Agape. Muto wrote: “Love must be the making empty and the negation of the self-centered ego. In other words, love must be to surrender body and mind to the function of nothingness (mu), which makes love be self-effacing. Love of one’s neighbour is the realization of the love of God as ‘Love-qua-Nothingness’ by turning the self toward others.” The work continues and is worth a read, though in brief summation designates a radical conversion from egocentric existence to that of an existence-for-others based on divine “self-emptying”.
Mahayana Buddhism has a Three-Body theory of Buddhahood (enlightenment) which are the Dharmakaya (truth body), Sambhogakaya (body of divine enjoyment; the bliss body) and the Nirmanakaya (body of transformation; physical manifestation). Vairocana represents the Dharmakaya, which according to Encyclopedia Britanica is a “body or collection of all the Buddha’s good qualities or dharmas, such as his wisdom, his compassion, his fortitude, his patience.” Vairocana represents each of us without the egoic-self, or having been stripped bare of the conditioned form. The Sambhogakaya, the bliss body, is when one has transformed the controlling five passions/poisons/desires, so that one can act without “binding” karma – to enjoy the pleasures of life in the Middle Way, without being hindered or without hindering others. When one has attained the Truth Body (selfless nature), the bliss body is employed in spreading the compassion and wisdom of Buddha (which is now one’s selfless-self) and is an impulse body to guide one’s actions in accordance with the Dharma.
Though Agape in Thelema, Wu in Zen, does not mean forced or contrived acts of charity or good doing. Zen Master Linji warned: “If you seek the buddha through karma-creating activities, Buddha becomes the great portent of birth-and-death.” (Suffering, samsara is implied by “birth-and-death” whereas Buddha is the transcendence of suffering, having realized its root. (At least in good health — though the decomposition of the elements is inevitable in life, which is why “dukkha” is the first of the Four Noble Truths of Buddhism, something that often is abused by outsiders as seeing Buddhism as a depressing system, not seeing the meaning of this, nor the functionality of the teaching.
I will take pause here as I feel the next post examining Vairocana and enlightenment in Zen with comparisons to Thelema will be more appropriate for a self-contained post, which will likely follow this one. To wrap up this discussion, let’s enjoy a poem from Zen Master Bankei (1622-1693):
“If you think the mind
That attains enlightenment
Your thoughts will wrestle, one with the other
These days I’m not bothering about
Getting enlightenment all the time
And the result is
I wake up in the morning feeling fine!
Praying for salvation in the world to come
Praying for your own selfish ends
Is only piling on more and more
Self-centeredness and arrogance.”
⊙ in ♓︎
I am writing this on the evening of Good Friday following some recent meditations on Charity, and having read some literature relevant for today’s date. This coming Sunday, my wife and I will be gathering for Easter over a ham dinner with relatives, including some members of my family which I had fallen out of contact with for nearly a decade now. Good Friday, Pig, and Communion of sorts are the themes of today’s post with a little light shed onto Charity.
Eliphas Levi in the Science of Spirits explained eloquently the symbolism of Communion. He had said that in Christ’s revealing the law of unity which is the law of love, armed with the power to overcome the selfishness of the flesh, which is division and death, had instituted a sign called Communion. He said of communion, that it was nothing other than charity represented by a common table, and as Christ had given up his flesh to pain and death in order to bequeath his faithful the fraternal bread to which he attached his preserving thought, he said to them: “Eat all of you, this is my flesh!” as he said of the wine of fraternity: “Drink, all of you, this is my blood, for I will pour it out in its entirety to assure you of the reality of this sign forever.” I wrote in my post ‘Meditating on Agape and Thelema’ of the Eucharist, the communion known as an “Agape Feast” which is a topic I will be touching upon soon, given that I had since read something interesting and relevant from the Zen tradition. I wish to do a follow-up post on the matter in the near future but must put a pin in that for now, so check back in the coming week for that discussion.
Back to Levi’s Science of Spirits, which includes a tale which I wish to paraphrase and present here today. It is a parable about charity, and it is illustrated by the ascetic Saint Spyridon (who had lived approximately c. 270-348.) It is said that it was a Good Friday following the Lent period (abstaining from meat for 40 days), and Spyridon’s food of the holy quarantine were exhausted, and as he was to spend this day and the next without consuming any food at all, he had nothing at home but a piece of pig’s flesh hanging from the smoke of the fireplace which he had reserved for an Easter feast. An unexpected knock happened upon his door, and he opened it to find a traveller exhausted with fatigue. The bishop received him with alacrity and surrounded him with paternal care; but he soon discovered that his guest was about to faint from starvation. It was too late to go elsewhere and the city was quite far away. Without hesitation, Spyridon cut a piece of salted meat, cooked it and presented it to the traveller who rejected it with astonishment and fear: “I am a Christian, Father” he said, “so how can you offer me flesh to eat today! Do you think I am capable of insulting the death of Christ, our master by my intemperance?”
“I am a Christian like you, my son,” Spyridon replied gently, “and what is more, I am a bishop, that is to say, a pastor and a doctor. It is as a doctor that I offer you this food, the only food I can offer you. You are exhausted, and tomorrow it may be too late to save your life, so eat this food which I bless, and live.” — “Never,” replied the traveller, “for you advise me what you would not do yourself.” — “What I would not do for myself perhaps,” said the old man, “but what I would certainly do for you, as you are going to do for me, who is begging you. Here, would you like me to put some of this meat in my mouth to encourage you to use it without scruples?” And so St. Spyridon took and ate some of the pork, to urge his guest to do the same; for charity, according to him, was a more imperative law than that of abstinence or fasting.
The traveller to deny sustenance, life, and charity would be a foolish person worthy of having a wheel broken over their head. For nothing is wiser, more harmonious, more moderate, more amiable than the spirit of charity. Charitas patiens est, benigna est. Charitas non aemulatur, non agit perperam, non inflatur; non est ambitiosa, non quaerit quae sua sunt, non irritatur, non cogitat malum; non gaudet super iniquitate, congaudet autem veritati.
Some fun: A foolish person was sometimes figuratively called a fish (ἰχθύς). This is fitting for today’s meditation as the sun is in Pisces (the fish). Moreso, ἰχθύς – ikhthús, is an alternate form of ΙΧΘΥΣ which is an acronym representing Ἰησοῦς Χριστός Θεοῦ Υἱός Σωτήρ. This acronym allows the letters to be traced within an eight spoked wheel (a symbol common to Sun worship – the Buddihst eightfold path, and a symbol of Christianity). The ichthys (fish) being a symbol of Jesus, known commonly as the Jesus fish.
Anyways… Aleister Crowley translated Eliphas Levi’s Key of the Mysteries in which we find the following: “Before charity, faith prostrates itself, and conquered science bows. There is here evidently something greater than humanity; charity proves by its works that it is not a dream.” – “Charity! word divine, sole word which makes God understood, word which contains a universal revelation!” It was on Good Friday that Jesus willingly suffered and died by crucifixion on the cross. The Key of the Mysteries also states: “It is by charity, finally, that the folly of the cross has become the wisdom of the nations, because every noble heart has understood that it is greater to believe with those who love and who devote themselves, than to doubt with the egoists and with the slaves of pleasure.”
I’ll wind down the post with that quote. It is an appropriate note to end on, and it will prepare us for our future discussion, as the next post will return our gaze upon the concept of Agape and will highlight how this is fitting for enlightenment within the Zen tradition, and how it parallels to Aleister Crowley’s Thelema.
Pisces is the last of the Signs, so represents the last stage of winter, or of night, and according to Crowley it may very well be called the Gateway of Resurrection. So as the sun sets as I write these words, I see no better way than to end this post than to say: Have a Good night.
The title of this post is a bit tongue-in-cheek where my intended meaning with the wording is ‘Help me about Louis Lingg’. How, or why is this the case, you ask? My intent behind doing so was to highlight how easy it is to obfuscate meaning, and to unveil it at the same time.
“Mayday, mayday!” It has been heard in movies no doubt, or is known for its use in emergency situations such as impending crashes. It’s a call of ‘help me, help me’. The use of the word mayday as a distress call was conceived in the early 1920’s by Frederick Stanley Mockford utilizing the French m’aidez (help me). Anyway, I wished to write this post about Louis Lingg. No, not the physical human being Louis Lingg of the May Day events. And no, not May Day as in the Pagan Beltane sabbat, or the celebration of the return of Spring. This Louis Lingg is in reference to the May Day that was designated in 1889 as the date for International Workers’ Day by the Socialists and Communists of the Second International to commemorate the Haymarket Affair in Chicago. We’ll get into what that is for context shortly. However, to clarify further on the title, this help about Louis Lingg is not for elucidation upon the actions of the individual, or their philosophical or political views, but is in fact referring to a particular writing of Aleister Crowley. That writing is chapter 81 in his Book of Lies, and that chapter is titled ‘Louis Lingg’.
I wish here to offer a lens for which we can view Louis Lingg in continuation of a response to an essay posted titled ‘Is Thelema Fascist?’ (I also responded to their criticism of Agape). Most of that essay ITF? continually called Crowley’s word, Thelema and its adherents, as fascist without much digging into the work’s meaning, even when explicit commentary is provided by the work’s author which explicitly demonstrates otherwise. In that piece which I glanced over with my initial response, there is another attack to Crowley which shoved him in the corner, and pierced him with a tag reading ‘feudalist’. This label was designated as appropriate as the words ‘I am […] for feudalism’ appear once in Crowley’s work.
Comedian George Carlin had famously remarked, ‘Anyone driving slower than you is an idiot; anyone driving faster than you is a maniac.’ I believe that line adequately sets the stage for reading Aleister Crowley’s chapter called Louis Lingg which contains the line ‘[…] in short, any man who falls far short of MYSELF — I am against Anarchy, and for Feudalism.’
This instance of the word feudalism appearing is pointed at, much like the other lines which were almost at random chosen and twisted to fit new meaning beyond what was intended by the author, at least according to their own records and notes. Though, I am not here endorsing the author or their positions, I’m utilizing this space for calling into question the logic of the questioner, or broadening discussion by highlighting other aspects which are being neglected almost as if intentionally.
To provide you with required context, here is the seemingly controversial writing in full below.
LOUIS LINGG by Aleister Crowley
I am not an Anarchist in your sense of the word: your brain is too dense for any known explosive to affect it.
I am not an Anarchist in your sense of the word: fancy a Policeman let loose on Society!
While there exists the burgess, the hunting man, or any man with ideals less than Shelley’s and self-discipline less than Loyola’s — in short, any man who falls far short of MYSELF — I am against Anarchy, and for Feudalism.
Every “emancipator” has enslaved the free.
This places Anarchy (Control for self) and Feudalism (Control for system) against one another, and says that every emancipator enslaves the free. So government, in governing, may restrict movements of those who would only do good with their freedom; growth; harmonious living in enlightenment. Yet they would need to compete with the chaos of those who would not look to contribute to building up, and establishing Order – there would be those looking to quicken entropy, to force outer worlds to match their inner confusion. One who may act out, like an anarchist demonstrator, is in their mind an emancipator, but they are imposing their ideals as they feel the system is imposed upon them. The authoritative force, in its emancipating movement and an attempt at order and law, is also enslaving the free.
The paradox is apparent, and Crowley’s rumination and text is quite clear in what it is saying with invoking feudalism – the author is not saying “hey feudalism is awesome”.
Though that was sufficient as a look at the piece by Crowley, we could break it down for further rumination to demonstrate the above is more fitting than an interpretation that was lopsidedly used as evidence of Crowley being a proponent of feudalism and fascism. Crowley starts the piece saying “I am not an Anarchist in your sense of the word”. This to me takes identity in being an anarchist, but not in how others may perceive one as an ‘Anarchist’ simply by projection that may manifest with receiving the input of that label ‘anarchist‘. Modern Crowley may have ironically used the hashtag “#notallAnarchists” should the Book of Lies been tweets instead of material published in 1912.
Crowley’s actions in life were often anarchic. Look at his pompous character parading, his ‘de-lewding’ public demonstrations, public ritual, his long history of emboldened acts which make his biography so fascinating, if they are all to be believed entirely. One instance that has had its validity questioned can be found in Crowley’s autobiographic Confessions where there’s a mention of Jacob Epstein’s statue which stood upon Oscar Wilde’s grave. The statue happened to bare a penis so authorities had it covered, and Crowley claims to be the one who had planned to, and then successfully did remove the covering on November 5th, and in doing so the happening received attention in the press. Epstein would say that “a band of artists and poets… made a raid upon the monument” and removed the cover, but Crowley takes sole responsibility. Whether he did this specific event or not doesn’t change too much with what I’m trying to highlight. Aleister Crowley acted wild, he was unconventional and consequently called names in the press, and was found swirled about in the mouths of the general populace. He had a reputation as a public figure, and he often wrote with awareness of who he was, and what he was perceived to be as. His writings utilized humour, paradox, shock, beauty, and prose.
“I am not an Anarchist in your sense of the word”, he starts. So, rather than having a sole takeaway at the end of reading the chapter along the lines of “he used the words ‘for feudalism’, so therefor he is a feudalist”, I would gleam deeper into the meaning. “I am not an Anarchist in your sense of the word: your brain is too dense for any known explosive to affect it.”
This now is where Crowley’s chosen title comes into play. Louis Lingg was an anarchist and bomb maker who had famously died in a prison cell, when he had placed a blasting cap in his mouth, blowing off his lower jaw and causing great damage to his face. He remained alive for 6 hours and reportedly spent some of it repeatedly writing “Hoch die anarchie!” (Hurrah for anarchy!) on the cell stones in his blood. The line by Crowley at one level of interpretation could be saying that the public who would label Crowley an Anarchist, in terms of an extreme view, to say that his ‘magick’ and acts were so terrible that he may pose danger, or act out in violence, that they are dense minded and that no known explosive, no matter how strong or capable it may be, nothing will penetrate or effect them as they are shielded in their ignorance. At the surface, it appears Crowley may be speaking on behalf of himself, but it’d be a line that could be stretched to universal application. He could be talking from the perspective of a mystic, a perceived mad-man, a mind of genius who may be questioned for their actions and independence in thought. Or even the everyday person who skirts rules, laws, and commands with their agency out of laziness, pride, or even with justified purpose. We all want to be anarchists and live without rule dictating our action, to live unimpeded by social or arbitrary structure imposed upon us by birth, but the reality and consequence of chaotic unstructured living would take away a lot of stability and safety we take for granted in our constructed reality tunnel-vision.
“I am not an Anarchist in your sense of the word: fancy a Policeman let loose on Society!” So here Crowley now associates a Policeman to the same behaviour of an Anarchist such as one Louis Lingg. The anarchists at the Haymarket Affair were distanced from by many who had previously supported the Anarchist’s movement. After the violence, lost lives, and chaos, they repudiated such violent tactics and considered the ends as self-defeating. The intention that drove the anarchists to such drastic and cruel means of act was misguided, though they may have been acting in what they perceived to be as good and just deeds. Just as a policeman who is generally upholding what is good and just may be corrupted in their power to act out of interest for maintaining and upholding the law. Or ‘law’ has usurped Law, and carriers of light are stomped out. Sadly many drawn to such a powerful position as a police officer may need strict guidelines and boundaries, observation and discipline to keep them reigned in, and to have them unable to be loosed upon society. Crowley’s end line mentioning the emancipator, or the liberator, does the Policeman wish to steer the society into freedom, away from vice and destructive behavior? Is there good motivation in their action as the Anarchist who rallies and demonstrates their want of agency? Are both sides viewing themselves as emancipators? Surely, I’d say.
Crowley’s Book of Lies chapters are all short, paradoxical, invoke thought, use contradictory language purposefully, as they are to be read and appreciated in Samadhi, or be used to cultivate Samadhi. Israel Regardie called the book’s writings koan-like for this reason (koans are Zen case studies that at times use similar multiple-meaning layered poetry, comedy and paradox). The study of hermeneutics can be applied fruitfully to Crowley’s writings, which have made them so striking and interesting to those who have devoted great time to their study and appreciation. These writings are to be read, meditated upon, placed down, then at another time, in a few more years even, returned to, and new insights appear and new meanings form. Though Crowley guides us a little and offers aid, as he provided commentary for much of his work. The Book of Lies being no exception, for half of the book is its commentary.
For a while the takeaway of this chapter for me personally, was the focus on the liberator or awakened one who returns to society after their awakening. Crowley wrote in Book 4 of enlightened men returning to society after a disappearance, from Buddha, Jesus and Mohammed, each of whom came back to preach a new law. Crowley basically pushed the idea forward that there is nothing special of those prophets, that each individual can come into their own law, as each can speak the universal truths with their own tongue. In fact, in Liber B Vel Magi, there is a curse upon the Grade for those who recognize themselves at it, and it states that they must always speak their law. “And woe, woe, woe, yea woe, and again woe, woe, woe unto seven times be His that preacheth not His law to men!” Louis Lingg to me is presenting the issue of spreading one’s law, while also accepting everyone else doing the same in kind. The Law must be love; a reception of other’s Law with acceptance and survival of your own. Sometimes one does not integrate back into the mundane world on their return to earth, and they wish to make their external vision look like the internal vision which may not have been fully universalized, and is specific to that individual. This could be the often good intentioned doer who has experienced samadhi, but has not realized samadhi. Is one looking to liberate and uplift, but is in reality harming and hindering progress and proper evolution.
Crowley established in Thelema that there is personal mystical responsibility, we all must realize our own Nature. In Zen it is called the Buddha Nature. This is an internally realized truth, it cannot be spoken and spread. Think as example, the person who looks to convert not, BoTL III:42 reads, ‘The ordeals thou shalt oversee thyself, save only the blind ones. Refuse none, but thou shalt know & destroy the traitors. I am Ra-Hoor-Khuit; and I am powerful to protect my servant. Success is thy proof: argue not; convert not; talk not over much! Them that seek to entrap thee, to overthrow thee, them attack without pity or quarter; & destroy them utterly. Swift as a trodden serpent turn and strike! Be thou yet deadlier than he! Drag down their souls to awful torment: laugh at their fear: spit upon them!’
Crowley established the Law as Love, Agape, and that it is the law required to establish Thelema (Will). We cannot be doing pure will without love; systems which oppress and restrict love need to be overturned for progress and evolution.
Anyways, back to Louis Lingg, Crowley’s comment says, “Paragraph 1 explains that Frater P. sees no use in the employment of such feeble implements as bombs. Nor does he agree even with the aim of the Anarchists, since, although Anarchists themselves need no restraint, not daring to drink cocoa, lest their animal passions should be aroused (as Olivia Haddon assures my favourite Chela), yet policemen, unless most severely repressed, would be dangerous wild beasts.“
Here Crowley says loudly that he isn’t an anarchist by label. If using the non-personal interpretation we can opt for an interpretation of this being that a mystic or magician does not cause change through drastic chaotic and uncontrolled outbursts like a bomb. The conversation of Louis Lingg quickly passes, was likely used for comedic effect and established the tone of the piece effectively by appearing in the title. Crowley’s writing often reminds me of a Rube Goldberg machine where associations build from Qabalah to Gematria, and each piece can trigger another and eventually you end up with a result. In this piece the balance act of Anarchist and Policeman are played with by Crowley, both being emphasized as stations with their capitalization in his writing. They may even be seen on one level as metaphor for the mystical balance of Geburah and Chesed. The matter could be interpreted through many layers, from making the switch of being about specific subject matter in (an individual) Louis Lingg, or Crowley being self-referential, to the idea of division of other, finding balance, moving from external subject matter. The forces of Gevurah and Chesed, severity and mercy, strength and lovingkindness… the balance of Gevurah and Chesed dictates how one deals with what they encounter in the external world.
Yet in the external representation, the police are needed for those who would be completely against the law, against any signs or calls for order. Yet what is order imposed, to Crowley, if it is not in accord with the Law of Thelema? Crowley looked to establish Order by uttering Truth and the Law: “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law. Love is the law, love under will.” To the wild beast policeman inside all of us, should they not be repressed or constrained, we may wish to dictate what others are to say or do, or be prone to form judgments on how others choose to be or what they devote their time to, to condemn how they act. Yet, if they are abiding, and if you are abiding in the Law of Thelema, you must let them be and alter the limitation on your psyche that denies the experience of others, or what is not ‘you’.
“While there exists the burgess, the hunting man, or any man with ideals less than Shelley’s and self-discipline less than Loyola’s — in short, any man who falls far short of MYSELF — I am against Anarchy, and for Feudalism.” I believe that here Crowley is referencing Percy Bysshe Shelley, the English romantic poet whose work was mostly inspired by social justice and whose work is applauded worldwide, is held in great admiration and dressed in laurels. Loyola being mentioned is likely St. Ignatius of Loyola, who famously founded the Jesuits, and who devised the Spiritual Exercises which took a month to complete. They were composed with the intention of helping participants in religious retreats to discern the will of God in their lives, leading to a personal commitment to follow Jesus whatever the cost. These (Shelley and Loyola) are extremes of recognized genius and dedication.
So Crowley says there exists the wealthy and padded, the capable survivalist, and those who fall short of the genius of Shelley or the self-discipline of Loyola (and then jokes by saying those who do are those who who fall short of “MYSELF” (ie the Ego of Self — Crowley’s, but perhaps speaking here for mankind’s too). We often will view others as foolish, and have that sense that we know what is best or that we are distinct from the mass that is Other.
As an aside, imagine how the world would be if people all were to do Loyola’s meditations? Better yet, full on holy possession, what would their performance of Jesus look like? How dramatic would the need and urgency be for them to act to save this planet and the souls upon it? How drastic would their acts need to be to attract attention required to spread their message? What would be the essence of the message, beyond Love? What extreme forms can the lesson of ‘love’ take? The road to Hell is paved with good intentions, and all that. Though if it were not just Jesus, there, isolated alone in that one body… what if there were a gathering, a group, a movement, or an entire world of Jesus? The dramatic acts and the need of them drop away and are replaced with sense of serenity, bliss and enjoyment… what labour beckons then? What creation then takes place?
This idealism; this projection on the planet and its residents; this demanding the animals cease eating each other, and that mankind is not to act mad… what is the solution? Crowley’s form of anarchy was to deviate off the path of normalcy, to study mystical mind states, traditions and practices, and then pushed his knowledge to the best of his ability into the collective so that others could pick up the wisdom offered and utilize it for their advancement on the path. His solution for mankind was Thelema, which is not fascism, or feudalism, but is pointing at the understanding of Samadhi. Thelema is summed up repeatedly as ‘do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law’, and that ‘love is the law’. Agape (gematric value of 93) is the love referred to, Agape being the Greco-Christian term referring to an unconditional love.
Others may look to more dramatic acts to stress their points, to demand for a universe of love. Crowley in Louis Lingg warns, “Every ’emancipator’ has enslaved the free.” Interestingly, emancipates’ etymological roots come from the latin ēmancipō which could mean as a verb ‘I emancipate’, but also could mean ‘I alienate‘. One shouldn’t alienate themselves and get lost internally in their quest to help others, to liberate mankind from its wrongs and to remove hate from the collective mind that festers in corners and sometimes marches in the street. Often a dramatic outburst or uncontrolled action will lead to repercussions which lessen the chance of similar activities happening in the future, which mean stricter controls and a more authoritarian approach are installed to garner better control of the masses. A self-defeating end for an Anarchist, indeed.
Reign yourself in, reign the ‘policeman’ in, maintain Law, understand that you are you, but that you exist within a society that needs to live under a shared law for harmony to exist. What else can you do, but use your voice to spread awareness of what that Law is to be and to produce art and song, movies and plays to raise the banner of that law for all to come to understand? Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law, love is the law, love under will. This was Aleister Crowley’s gift to the world, and he wouldn’t take it back if you shoved it back, refusing to receive it.
Don’t lose perspective on the daily life. Don’t lose sight of the mystical. When there’s no more distinguishing, what potential is there to be explored when everyone is doing their true will?
A Thelemic critic posted: ‘#Thelemites qualifying “love” as “it’s agape, which is not your normal idea of love” are the most ridiculous people. Αγάπη literally means “love.” The usual kind, between you and your (!) loved ones. Φιλία is friendship. Έρος is lust. Grow up, stop making excuses.’
I am not fond of having to fit responses into Twitter’s character-limited box, and if it is entertained, I find it has the gift to throw multiple responses out of order when writing so when the thread is read it is garbled and confusing. (At least a little more so than my normal writing!) Yet, I did chime in for a little, and figured I’d do a post here as it allows more space to breathe where I can offer a meditation on Agape, and what I feel is valuable information when it comes to interpreting what Aleister Crowley was pointing to with Thelema.
The critic seemed to be taking a jab at those who would bother to take the effort to clarify that the Love in Crowley’s ‘love is the law’ is the love of Agape. Essentially implying there should be no distinction made when we see or make use of the word love, because love is love, despite even the Book of the Law having cut the cat in two with line 57 in Chapter 1: ‘Invoke me under my stars! Love is the law, love under will. Nor let the fools mistake love; for there are love and love. There is the dove, and there is the serpent. Choose ye well! He, my prophet, hath chosen, knowing the law of the fortress, and the great mystery of the House of God.’
Now one could argue for countless interpretations of that verse, and that is so by design. Here, it may serve to us in the meditation of Agape. For context as to what the critic was commenting upon and about this connection of Agape and Thelema, if you are not fully up to speed, Thelema is tied to Agape due to sharing the gematric value of 93. Crowley wrote that just as an arhat understands the dharma, so too does a qabalist understand gematria. This, they do when an adept, and at that, one able to achieve samadhi. 93 is significant as it represents the value of Θελημα (Thelema) and Αγαπη (Agape). Agape etymologically derives from ἀγαπάω (Agapáō), to love.
The critic followed their tweet up with providing us a reason why we should lean into their authority, or why their stance is more valid than those who are studying and expounding upon Agape and Thelema. The critic did this by stating that they speak Greek natively. They said, ‘It literally, in no uncertain terms, translates as just “love.” This whole idea of “different types of love” is revisionist BS made up by people who never had first-hand exposure to the word in its native environment.’
I am not questioning the critic’s roots, however their specific developing environment isn’t all environments or circumstances. The word was well used historically and for a time with great reason for doing so. Agape does by one layer of definition mean love, affection, and esteem, yet it also has the Christian definition where it means God’s love for humanity, good will, and benevolence. The Greek Agape would be translated into Latin as caritas, which is the etymological root for the word ‘charity.’ Agape also has a few esoteric-leaning interpretations. We know now Agape means the Christian’s love or charity by one definition, and also it exists as part of what is known as an ‘Agape Feast‘, or the love feast of the early Christian Church.
Christian theologians themselves look to raise Agape, or distinguish it from a base or common conception of love. An example as found in A. S. Dewdney’s response to Nygren’s Agape and Eros, published in the Canadian Journal of Theology Vol 1. No. 1 where the meaning of Agape is given as ‘wholly determined by its presence in God. It is the unmotivated love of God, which is directed towards us, not because of any value or worth in ourselves, or because of any good which God is looking for in us, but because love in God is the spontaneous outflowing of Himself.’
In that piece Romans 5:8 is next quoted where it reads, “God revealeth His love towards us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.” The essay says of this, ‘This text is the key to the meaning of Agape. Where natural man would think it immoral to give love and fellowship except on a basis of like to like, God’s love knows no such limitation. Its nature is revealed just in the fact that it has no such basis at all. Men naturally love their friends, those who do them good or from whom they expect some good. But men who are filled with Agape will love their enemies. Their love, like that of God, does not find its motive in the character or attitude or value of those loved. It is simply out-flowing, self-giving love which needs no other motive than that it loves. This Agape then, is the love of God flowing down to us. We cannot deserve it or win it or rise to it. It seeks us at our own level, in our sin, and gives us fellowship.’
This love is not something exclusionary from us and our experience. Just as one must learn to cultivate samadhi to enter into union, or the non-dual state which is available always, enlightenment is available for us if we’re ready to realize it; God’s agape is outpouring and we simply need to take ourselves out of conflict with it, or come to recognize and rest in it. If Agape and Thelema are linked through gematria (which again bares repeating, Crowley writes that it requires an adept qabalist to appreciate gematria in Samadhi, just as it takes a Buddhist Arhat to understand the Dharma).
Some view Thelema as exclusionary, this is the appearance of every religion on their surface and by their divisions, choice of rite, aesthetic, and representative class, scholars, devotees, etc. Thelema is inclusive, it is pointing at the truth behind all symbols. From Crowley’s Liber Porta Lucis or The Gate of Light, ‘To you who yet wander in the Court of the Profane we cannot yet reveal all; but you will easily understand that the religions of the world are but symbols and veils of the Absolute Truth. So also are the philosophies. To the adept, seeing all these things from above, there seems nothing to choose between Buddha and Mohammed, between Atheism and Theism.’
Crowley used Agape and forged from it a symbol to decorate Thelema. However to not go on a tangent, let’s for a second go back to examining the concept of Agape, as we didn’t focus enough on that last one I offered which was where it is a love feast. Love feasts aka agape feasts are symbolic or ritualistic meals that were held by early Christians in commemoration of the Eucharist. Yet that is not all there is to it. Etymology offers a lot of light, but we must make a temporary aside.
A Warning against Pride
What causes conflicts and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from the passions at war within you? You crave what you do not have; you kill and covet, but are unable to obtain it. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask. And when you do ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may squander it on your pleasures.
You adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore, whoever chooses to be a friend of the world renders himself an enemy of God. Or do you think the Scripture says without reason that the Spirit He caused to dwell in us yearns with envy? But He gives us more grace. This is why it says:
“God opposes the proud,
but gives grace to the humble.”
The word grace derives from the Latin grātia (“kindness, favour, esteem”), from grātus (“pleasing”), which ultimately traces to Proto-Indo-European *gʷerH- (“to praise; to welcome”) which is cognate with the Sanskrit गूर्ति (gūrtí) which means “praise, welcome, benediction”.
Welcome the HGA. Welcome Agape and Thelema. The HGA is a humbling concept, and if we open ourselves fully as to receive its presence and communication, as we’d receive God’s constant outpouring of love. Humble as a word originates approximately from its Latin root humi meaning ‘to the ground’. A Thelemite recognizes this, Crowley: ‘My adepts stand upright; their head above the heavens, their feet below the hells.’ While pride appears thematically in the Book of the Law, Crowley warned against spiritual pride, writing in Magick Without Tears: ‘On the Path of the Wise there is probably no danger more deadly, no poison more pernicious, no seduction more subtle than Spiritual Pride; it strikes, being solar, at the very heart of the Aspirant; more, it is an inflation and exacerbation of the Ego, so that its victim runs the peril of straying into a Black Lodge, and finding himself at home there.’
Anyways, Eucharist ultimately traces back to the Greek εὐχάριστος which means pleasant, agreeable, grateful, thankful, and is comprised of εὐ- (eu-, “good”) + χᾰ́ρῐς (kháris, “grace”) + -τος (-tos). To be thankful is to receive good grace. Agape consistently giving, am I humble enough to be thankful? The most significant Eucharist, perhaps the most renowned is the Last Supper, where we find Jesus offering bread and saying, “This is my body,” and with the wine, “This is my blood.”
That information was required like breadcrumbs leading us through the forest to where we end up now. Epiphanius of Salamis (C. 310-403), an early Church Father wrote in his Panarion (Πανάριον ‘bread basket’) translated into Latin as ‘Against Heresies‘, or Adversus Haereses. In this book Epiphanius wrote about the agape rite of the Gnostics. He detailed that a married couple would arrive at another couple’s dwelling, and would wiggle their finger in the palm of the other when shaking their hand to signal that they were of the same ilk. When they would recognize one another, the man would apparently tell his wife, ‘get up, perform the agape with the brother.’ Epiphanius then writes, ‘And when the wretched couple has made love—and I am truly ashamed to mention the vile things they do, for as the holy apostle says, “It is a shame even to speak” of what goes on among them. Still, I should not be ashamed to say what they are not ashamed to do, to arouse horror by every means in those who hear what obscenities they are prepared to perform.’
The obscenities they perform is after making love the man and woman stand with eyes raised heavenward, they lift their blasphemy up to heaven–the man’s emission on their hands–and they then clasp their hands in prayer and say ‘We offer thee this gift, the body of Christ.’ They then consume the fluid saying, ‘This is the body of Christ; and this is the Pascha, because of which our bodies suffer and are compelled to acknowledge the passion of Christ.’ Epiphanius continues, ‘And so with the woman’s emission when she happens to be having her period—they likewise take the unclean menstrual blood they gather from her, and eat it in common. And “This,” they say, “is the blood of Christ.” And so, when they read, “I saw a tree bearing twelve manner of fruits every year, and he said unto me, “This is the tree of life,” in apocryphal writings, they interpret this allegorically of the menstrual flux.’
There’s powerful exposition that could be offered on all of that, but we shall not divulge further on tangents! While this is interesting, this is not what Agape would be in Thelema, or even to Crowley himself. Would it? Surely however, with this brief time spent examining various aspects, one would see some value in putting Agape under a microscope. On discovering this essence of love as Agape is constantly outpouring, so too then must our True Will (Thelema) always be present. The importance is then placed upon the Act (or Magick). What teaching effectively sums all this up? Do what thou wilt.
What are you doing presently? Is it your true, or pure will? Those studying or practicing Thelema often speak about improving connection to the HGA, or wear their lengthy journey and struggles with how long it took to come into acceptance as a badge of honor. With truer understanding from the start, we’d not be waiting for clearer communication, or ever be disconnected from the HGA, as like Agape, it is arriving every second and it is us through love to uphold the marriage. Being accepting and giving thanks are as much a part of love as is giving or doing in the name of love.
Ephesians 2: “God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
Aleister Crowley did his good works to raise Magick in the mind of the collective all. This meant his magick was defined clearly as the science and art of causing change to occur in conformity with will. He then offered further clarifications that we are always doing magick, and it is our awareness of it that determines the outcome of our act. Are we performing magick well, or badly? We can’t help doing it. The mystic strives to act in samadhi, with wisdom, and intuition, manifesting truth and light. Just as in the system of Buddhism one must come into awareness of their every action and act in accordance with the dharma, rather than acting adharmic and spreading suffering.
The Book of the Law Chapter 1. verses 12-14: ‘
‘Come forth, o children, under the stars, & take your fill of love!
I am above you and in you. My ecstasy is in yours. My joy is to see your joy.
Of course better Understanding of Agape would help us in our approach of ‘Love is the Law’, and would help us better understand Thelema (Will) itself through its shared qualities with Agape (which Crowley established through Gematria, and as we’ve reflected on already through this meditation).
Crowley wrote in the Book of Thoth: ‘On the Tree of Life, Daleth is the path leading from Chokmah to Binah, uniting the Father with the Mother. Daleth is one of the three paths which are altogether above the Abyss. There is further more the alchemical symbol of Venus, the only one of the planetary symbols which comprises all the Sephiroth of the Tree of Life. The doctrine implied is that the fundamental formula of the Universe is Love.’
If viewing the Tree of Life as a mapping of sorts, to attain to the non-dual, or to “cross the abyss”, to “attain Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel” would require the establishment of the connection with the Intuition, the Neschemah, the higher soul (beyond the intellectual-minded Ruach). The Alchemical Salt is assigned to the Path leading between the Mother sphere (Binah – Understanding) and the Father (Chokmah – Wisdom) and is attributed to the Empress card, and as seen from Crowley’s explanation of the design, we saw it also represents the letter Daleth, door or gate. The Empress tarot card is attributed to the Daleth path, the card designed by Crowley showing in the corner a pelican feeding its young with its blood, a common depiction of Jesus Christ.
In the tradition of Zen it can be found that one attains to the Non-Dual. They arrive at the No-Gate, attain Samadhi and from then on act the Will of Vairocana (‘he who is like the Sun’). The process to nurture this state requires growing the Intuitive Heart-Mind… one must remain aware of their Nature and remain in accordance with the Dharma (Law) and they will come to find sustenance in spontaneous playful samadhi.
Of the Eight Consciousnesses teaching, manas-vijnana (“mind knowledge”) is the seventh as taught in Yogacara and Zen Buddhism. Via Wikipedia, it says of the Seventh Consciousness that it is, ‘the higher consciousness or intuitive consciousness that on the one hand localizes experience through thinking and on the other hand universalizes experience through intuitive perception of the universal mind of alayavijnana.’ Alayavijnana is No-Mind, the state of Samadhi held as the height of enlightenment in Zen.
As an illustration, here’s an interaction between Zen Master Joshu and a monk:
A monk asked, “The right-in-front-of-the-eyes Buddha. What is it?”
Joshu said, “The Buddha statue in the main hall.”
The monk said, “That is a physical Buddha. What is Buddha?”
Joshu said, “It is mind.”
The monk said, “If you define it as mind, you limit it. What is Buddha?”
Joshu said, “It is no-mind.”
Da’ath (Knowledge) Qabalistically hangs on the door. Above the abyss are the celestial waters and cosmic Space. Beneath the abyss, the water is blood. Above the abyss is non-duality, beneath is form and duality. For a parallel model in Buddhism, see mediations on form (rupajhanas) and the formless meditations (arupajhanas) which appear in the Five Dhyani Buddhas which also map the eight consciousnesses and show their transformations into the Four Wisdoms which enable the enlightenment body; Vairocana.
So would thinking about, or obtaining knowledge of Agape change how one approaches enlightenment in Aleister Crowley’s Thelemic system? Would this alter how they perceive their quest of Knowledge and Conversation, or the attaining to their True Will? Of course it would.
Would the call of one’s demon draw them to indulge lesser magick and never see the spiritual side of Agape? Or maybe they may be led by the Beast into performing variations of their own Agape Feast? It is not so simple to see what is meant or implied by Crowley on surface levels. There is even confusion where he offers clarity. So is not the onus on us to raise the meaning of this work and to offer freely our interpretation? Do not fall for the dualistic trapping of language or form, and do not allow illusions and phantoms to lead astray… nor those who simply wish to shame people out of study, while holding their own pearls tight. “Talking about or promoting Thelema is fascist except for the libers I like – it’s only Crowley for me, but not for thee.”
Tell those critics to eat some humble pie, and maybe make a eucharist of it. Really love that feast!
The Book of the Law Ch. II:
’34. But ye, o my people, rise up & awake!
35. Let the rituals be rightly performed with joy & beauty!
36. There are rituals of the elements and feasts of the times.
37. A feast for the first night of the Prophet and his Bride!
38. A feast for the three days of the writing of the Book of the Law.
39. A feast for Tahuti and the child of the Prophet–secret, O Prophet!
40. A feast for the Supreme Ritual, and a feast for the Equinox of the Gods.
41. A feast for fire and a feast for water; a feast for life and a greater feast for death!
42. A feast every day in your hearts in the joy of my rapture!
43. A feast every night unto Nu, and the pleasure of uttermost delight!
44. Aye! feast! rejoice! there is no dread hereafter. There is the dissolution, and eternal ecstasy in the kisses of Nu.’
What is your true Will?… Heck, what even is Thelema? What is Love, what is Agape?
Asking these questions, sharing what one ponders, and showing what one discovers is not creating an excuse of any kind, nor does participating in such work require any growing up from. Despite having to face the detracting and insulting comments that may be lobbed at one who does such activities. It’s simply examining mystical works, contemplating the creator’s intent, finding understanding in the texts, and sharing discoveries. Nothing is wrong with offering information to spark thought and discussion, so why should one be criticized for this?
It makes sense that these critical types would choose to be persistently critical about a system and teaching that in summary could be offered as ‘Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law. Love is the law, love under will.’
I had provided a rudimentary explanation on the previous passage, but won’t here yet. Another post in the future, perhaps.
A Zen student approached the Master.
‘I’ve come for the lesson of Mu.’
The Master answered, ‘what about Hu?’
‘Let’s avoid new texts.’
The Master took out a book from his back pocket, it was a copy of The Lotus Sutra. He tore out its pages, and dropped them to the ground, forming a circle around his feet. He coated the circle then with incense dust.
‘I wish to kill the Buddha,’ the student predictably offered.
The Master pulled out a pack of matches, lit two, and released them to the ground.
The Zen student observed in dismay, and then jumped into action, stomping out the two resulting fires.
The Master screamed, ‘Ah, Suryaprabha! Candraprabha!’
Trying to play along, but struggling, the Zen student offered, ‘what are they to you now? Nothing!’
The Master was screaming, ‘my eyes! I can’t see!’
‘You must teach in darkness!’
‘I can’t teach when blind,’ the Master shouted as he rubbed at his eyes, leaving the room.
When seeking a teacher,
Clear eyes are a must.
Texts can leave one blinded,
Like incense dust.
Bhaiṣajyaguru, Vairocana, Shakyamuni, would the student have the discernment as to recognize any Buddha? What about his discernment of a Bodhisattva? Would they have the eyes to see Avalokiteśvara?
Should you wish to read another case and commentary, see this post from the βούλημα Ligō: ‘Initiation‘ otherwise known as ‘Ctenodiscus Crispatus‘.
When I decided to restart this blog (simply throwing posts in The Stream), I had intended to do more Buddhism-related posts, as I have grown a great affinity for exploring the many aspects of Buddhist schools, from Theravada to Zen. I still intend to write on these matters too, though I often struggle in doing up site posts. There’s a weird blockage, a conflict over what I wish to write upon. Lately Thelema has been demanding my attention, and I have a number of posts simultaneously coming together about various subjects as it relates to Thelema, though I haven’t been giving them too much attention. Yet, when I write about Thelema, it always feels like picking up the largest uncomfortable boulder. The words go out when you hit publish, and you may see responses elsewhere and fear association, fear others misunderstanding, or fear being misunderstood. The snare of a thing so ugly, yet so beautiful as is Thelema. It becomes a very human idea, so turning from it and abandoning it is quite difficult once it has set its claws in one.
Bhikkhu Ananda, known to others as Charles Henry Alan Bennett, said of Crowley’s system, “No Buddhist would consider it worthwhile to pass from the crystalline clearness of his own religion to this involved obscurity.” Yet, what if one were to have the fortune, or misfortune of starting with that obscurity and through striving and contemplation made it through and then onto something like Buddhism? Then in viewing Buddhism, it’s easy to see into and appreciate deeply the more complex and esoteric writings, such as koans, and the wonderful Chan tradition. Thelema has a massive body of work by Crowley, with some real gems for analysis and critique, for examination and appreciation. Yet it hasn’t been held by thousands of hands over thousands of years, which is to its detriment, but also to its advantage, as there is a lot of opportunity to prove one’s capabilities–to shew clear understanding of these Thelemic pointers, or to create new inspired works in their vein. Yet to do so requires a bravery that falling back on Buddhism certainly does not when it comes to the court of public opinion and of reputation! Yet when I retreat for this reason, I tend to back right into the sword which reads: ‘Fear not at all; fear neither men nor Fates, nor gods, nor anything. Money fear not, nor laughter of the folk folly, nor any other power in heaven or upon the earth or under the earth. Nu is your refuge as Hadit your light; and I am the strength, force, vigour, of your arms.’ (BoTL III-17)
I’ve had to re-assess my goals with the pandemic and its resulting effects. The idea of striving toward creating a public meditation space/sleep temple (offering free hypnotherapy and hypnosis classes) above or beside a store which would sell all kinds of wondrous books simply isn’t the most feasible goal when you have to crawl and scratch for every dollar to fund it and with the current retail apocalypse. It’s a big vision which replaced many smaller ones, and I have been kicking myself since we recorded a podcast episode in which we spoke about writing, and in it I had dismissed writing fiction, something I have wanted to do from childhood. The impulse to write fiction has reappeared, at first in the form of doing some short stories, sparked by recent life events. I decided to re-read Aleister Crowley’s Wordsworth Collection of short stories, and also had to view some early correspondence with my (now wife) where we were exchanging short stories and story ideas we had written down. In all this it evoked a memory of when I was in Grade 10 and took an elective ‘creative writing’ course. The teacher for it was also the gym teacher, and I was surprised by his boldness to bring up Crowley in our class. I put my hand up (for once) that lesson, and engaged in discussion with the class, having read a few books by Crowley then. I’d eventually end up writing a short story as was the assignment, and wrote one detailing a shift happening globally as people ceased in their mad ways, having attained an understanding of Life, dropping away all delusion and obscurity, thanks to Thelema. Most sad is, I had written that when I was practically half my current age! So Thelema had its claws in me from way back then, became a lens through which I’d view other mystical works I didn’t explore in my teenage years, or even early 20’s.
It is only in the past few years that I’ve really taken identity in the Buddhist works, especially Zen (which my mind sees as a parallel to Thelema, hence the itch to prattle on about it at times here). I believe there’s endless inspiration still untapped from the Buddhist works, I believe them to be truly timeless, and time will only tell it seems what will happen with Thelema. However how I approached the Zen writings was the result of years of studying Thelema, so the place I write from is unique, unlike other monks or surface-meditators. I won’t be writing as some expert Buddhist or Buddhism scholar, but I hope in the least to offer thought provoking fun when I cover those materials!
Buddhism is beautiful and meets the criteria quite well laid out by Crowley in his calling for ‘the Method of Science with the Aim of Religion‘. Having grown what understanding of it I have cultivated, I am amazed by how purely logical, coherent, and scientific the system is, which is an aspect not lost to Crowley who in 1902 wrote his essay Science and Buddhism to demonstrate this. Bhikkhu Ananda (Bennett) was a friend and travel partner of Aleister Crowley. In 1902 in Burma, Bennett took his monk vows, and assumed the name Ananda Metteyya or “Bliss of loving kindness” and would become one of the first Englishmen to become ordained Buddhist monks. Bennett also worked with Golden Dawn leader Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers on a book of correspondences, which Crowley would eventually expand upon to produce Liber 777… Crowley would devote fiction to Bennett, invited him to stay with him when he had nowhere else to turn, and Bennett in turn helped train Crowley in white magic and enlightenment practice; both saw the validity in Buddhist practice. Unfortunately they eventually broke apart, with Bennett not seeing the vision of Thelema and Crowley rejecting Buddhism in the establishing of Thelema. (I can’t help but wonder what Bennett would have thought of Zen, and if having knowledge of Zen and its literature, would he have assisted Crowley in establishing Thelema…)
I wrote this as I have seen a trend of people looking to throw Crowley in the waste bucket in some kind of mob-like madness, disregarding the work of others who have carried the boulder (or mountain) so far and had shewn light upon the grounds it concealed. From this recent movement called ‘Post-Thelema’, to the few ostentatious folk who insist on the lowest and most dishonest interpretation of Thelema by calling it a fascist system (see my response to their essay here). Alas, the Book of the Law provokes me again, III-68 ‘Yet to all it shall seem beautiful. Its enemies who say not so, are mere liars.’
When I can finally stop clinging to Thelema, or perhaps, when it can stop clinging to me, I will look to broaden the scope of my writings and hop off the recurrent themes. For now, however, there’s a few more Crowleyean frogs riding leaves and logs down the stream and they’re heading just this way.
A long while back I was a participating in a Facebook group discussion wherein a question was posed about the Wordsworth Editions volume of Aleister Crowley’s short stories titled The Drug and Other Stories. My response reflected my opinion held at that time, which I recall as along the lines of ‘It is a most excellent bedside book… in that it serves one well as a sleep aid.’
I had initially felt compelled to purchase the book on seeing that David Tibet had written the forward, being a massive fan of Current 93 and David’s artistic endeavours. Of course I had long studied Crowley’s work, but was never entirely taken by his fiction. I enjoyed Diary of a Drug Fiend sure, and Moonchild was enjoyable enough. When I first obtained my copy, I had read the first few stories and shortly thereafter my attention waned, so I moved on to reading other works by other authors who scratched my itch more effectively. Add to this that I tend to avoid short stories given that they tend to be hit-or-miss, and the book as a result sat collecting dust. It took a global pandemic and this quarantine period for me to finally decide on sitting and getting through the entire volume of 49 stories. While not immediately immersed, a bit through my endeavour I found quite a lot of pleasure in exploring its pages. Enough so, that I do intend to one day re-read from the beginning with more of an appreciation for the collection, and knowing which tales are worth skipping entirely.
The stories range and offer a nice variety of atmospheres and content. Some are quite a bore, others seem to meander without point or purpose, and some are even horribly written. Though, this is to be expected in a collection of published and previously unpublished works written over the course of an 18 year period between 1902 and 1920. Quite a few were unmistakably gems, and a number of them in the least could be considered thought-provoking. It’s a mixed bag, though getting to view this lesser-appreciated side of Crowley is worth setting the eyes upon. I mean, in one story there are characters that appear with the names General Graf von Donner und Blitzen, and Principe Raviole dei Spaghetti.
I would not highly recommend that any and all should pick up this collection and read it in its entirety due to its length and the varying quality within, but would pluck out a number of the tales and present them on their own. This is a collection with some shocking materials and language, situations and concepts that were offensive in their own times, and offensive now perhaps for entirely different reasons as society and culture has progressed. If one is a fan or student of Crowley’s writings, this is definitely worth having. I’ll write a short bit about the stand out stories to me below.
The Stone Of The Philosophers – Meeting in the Holbein House, a master, a socialist, a classic scholar, a doctor, and a poet share poetry with one another, and discuss, and debate god, religion and philosophical thought.
Cancer? A Study In Nerves – This story is a tunnelling into madness as an anxiety-ridden hypochondriac assumes illness ever grows within him and overwhelms his entire being.
The Soul-Hunter – A fun story formatted as the diary of a vampire who is studying a man as to find the location of his soul.
His Secret Sin – Crowley really shines in these normal or grounded tales. I wish he had focused on writing more of them. This one is about a quirky eccentric man who does not want his daughter Gertrude being independent and studying art, all the while having fetishized a photo of a nude statue which is almost treated by him like pornography. Ashamed of admiring the picture, he keeps it locked away in a safe. Gertrude confronts her father with the photo one evening and things escalate to a dramatic mind-blowing conclusion. (Click here to read it)
The Woodcutter – This is but a few pages long, so I dare not spoil it here. It would seem at home in a Stephen King collection. Seek it out and enjoy it, chop chop!
Professor Zircon – A horror story of love and jealousy with a twist ending and alchemical references. Professor Zircon is a scientist who shares his interest and gets her involved in an experiment in an unforgettable way.
The Testament of Magdalen Blair – This was a strong standout of the collection. Magdalen discovers she has psychic abilities and participates in experiments with her professor who soon becomes her husband. In the eventual communicating with her partner who is ill and succumbing to his illness, when he dies, the connection does not. She continues to experience what Arthur Blair is going through as he loses himself to the void and she must fight not to lose herself too. A fantastic horror short. (Click here to read it)
The Stratagem – A man is waiting at a remote station awaiting to board the next train when he encounters an unpredictable Frenchman (or so it is thought at one point in the story) who regales him of an escape from prison, which he details having been sent to after an incident of mass murder. I will spoil to write of it much beyond this, but in prison the Frenchman communicates through non-verbal gesturing, through ciphers and Morse code to devise their escape. This one is witty and a nice distraction.
Felo De Se – A young man entertains suicidal thought at a river, when he is approached from behind by a Thelemic Master. The Master through a mental game of chess provides all the reason and support for the young man to follow through with his expressed desire, if he so truly believes it. The Thelemic Master explains True Will, and provokes enough interest in the young man that he deserts his suicidal ideation and decides to enter life renewed as a Thelemic disciple. This one stands out in that it is interesting to see a ‘case study’ of sorts, of what Crowley’s ideas are of how a Thelemic Master would conduct themselves and respond to such circumstances.
Robbing Miss Horniman – Miss Horniman (what a name) possesses an impressive collection of diamonds. When she shows them to a clergyman, word seems to spread of her possessions and she becomes a target. Though Miss Horniman is armed with wit and gun, she lets her guard down when she soon meets another who has an ardent collection of rarities and gold worth much wealth. In lowering her defenses, she falls in love and leaves herself vulnerable.
Face – A doctor seems to use hypnotism in his practice, and one of his patients falls under his influence. The mother forbids his taking the young woman in marriage for she is against mixed-marriage, and things all go south from there. Vengeance and lives are taken.
Atlantis – This was a peculiar tale, many esoteric pointers here. Interesting and creative, this one is a standout not in terms of its writing as it isn’t the best of the collection by any means, but is a fictional historical look at the rise and fall of Atlantis called here Atlas and their discovery of the magical substance known as Zro. Crowley in his Confessions wrote of this, ‘In particular there is a sort of novel, “The Lost Continent”, purporting to give an account of the civilization of Atlantis. I sometimes feel that this lacks artistic unity. At times it is a fantastic rhapsody describing my ideals of Utopian society; but some passages are a satire on the conditions of our existing civilization, while others convey hints of certain profound magical secrets, or anticipations of discoveries in science.’ This short was designated as a Class C document in the curriculum of the AA and also in the curriculum of the OTO, this work is known also as Liber LI.
The Mysterious Malady – Another story told through the pages of a diary. A man has worked his way up in life and became a doctor though finds himself without contentedness or home. He meets a woman who becomes his wife, though he remarks on her descent into illness to which he sees no cure. He suspects she has gone mad, that she is on drugs, that she and others have been conspiring against him. The tale goes a bit predictable, especially in the context of the collection where a few stories come to similar ends, but this is well written and a good read.
The Bald Man – One of the more memorable stories for me, and one I wished was longer. A soldier medic sees the body of a young boy on the field, and the corpse is not cleared away when other bodies are collected. He cannot remove the sight of the boy from his mind and becomes haunted by the death to the point of madness.
There are a few other shorts which are worth reading for studying occultists, (Wake World, Three Characteristics, T’ien Tao, etc. come to mind. As well for Thelemites Across the Gulf is an interesting read, not the best written piece by any means, but you get to spend some time viewing the life of Ankh-f-na-khonsu). Overall, it is worth having the book on your shelf if you’re a fan of Crowley or gothic horror and mystery works from the early 1900’s.