Ctenodiscus Crispatus

This exchange has been given the name Ctenodiscus Crispatus, but is sometimes referred to as Initiation.

The Case:

The Master sat under a fig tree where he oversaw an aspirant tending the garden.

Covered in mud, the aspirant approached the Master. He spread his arms and legs wide, asking, ‘what should be my name?’

‘Ctenodiscus Crispatus,’ replied the Master.

‘And should you try to number me?’

The Master got up and tapped the aspirant’s head, hands and feet with his wand, intoning ‘one, two, three, four, five’ as it touched upon each spot.

‘Where is six?’

‘Unite with it.’

‘Why don’t you initiate me?’

Wiping the mud off the aspirant, the Master said, ‘there!’

As a result of the Master saying this, the aspirant was suddenly awakened.

The Comment:

5, Microcosm, Pentagram, Man… 6, Macrocosm, Hexagram, Universe.

“We are not to regard ourselves as base beings, without whose sphere is Light or ‘God’. Our minds and bodies are veils of the Light within. The uninitiated is a ‘Dark Star’, and the Great Work for him is to make his veils transparent by ‘purifying’ them. This ‘purification’ is really ‘simplification’; it is not that the veils are dirty, but that the complexity of its folds makes it opaque. The Great Work therefore consists principally in the solution of complexes. Everything in itself is perfect, but when things are muddled, they become ‘evil’.” – Aleister Crowley


Below is an explanation to free one from thinking of the above.

Sakyamuni Buddha (Gautama) attained his awakening under a fig tree, later known as the Tree of Awakening, the Bodhi Fig Tree, or the Bo Tree. In the case the Master sits under such a tree implicating his attainment of Buddhahood, or enlightenment.

Whether or not the aspirant was covered in mud, or was just dirty from tending the garden, the Master (as in Zen Master) is prompted to give a magical or initiatory name, a sobriquet or alias to use within the Master’s system (Boulema). The Master solidifies the overall lesson of their exchange in this case by bestowing the name Ctenodiscus Crispatus, also known as a ‘mud star’.

The aspirant responds by asking for their number, maybe looking for the Gematria value of their name for later inquiry (as often given to aspirants in initiatory orders for contemplation), or they may be quipping about their designated name, comparing it to becoming a prisoner, to being dehumanized in its issuing. Why not just be given the name ‘Sloppy Complicated Mess’?

The Master evades the aspirant’s questioning, and utilizing spontaneous playful samadhi, gets up and taps the aspirant on each point of their ‘star’ with the wand, intoning the numbers one to five with each contact. The aspirant prods for a sixth touch, perhaps not seeing the teaching, or in jest is asking for contact with their erogenous zone. The comment on this case offers all the elucidation we require; five is the microcosm, six is the macrocosm. Unite the five with the six. Abide as the Unborn, the Master urges. As above, so below.

In asking for initiation, the aspirant’s line can be read a number of ways. With a tone of sarcasm they may be asking for the Master to make the whole situation clear for them. Or, they may be begging for tutelage from the Master, asking desperately and plainly to be initiated… Perhaps having asked prior for initiation into the Master’s school, though having been denied and sent away to work in the garden.

Aleister Crowley’s writing points to the etymology of initiation, which he highlights as meaning a journeying inwards. As with the Buddhist practice where one turns the light of awareness around, from misconceptions regarding the nature of reality as being external, to kenshō, which is “directly see one’s own nature”, where ken means “seeing”, shō means “nature, essence”. The Master physically wipes the dirt, mud, and defilement from the aspirant, and in so doing, claims to have done an initiation. Was the act entirely physical? Do you see only the outward appearances?

‘There,’ the Master proclaims. Truly, what more of a ritual does this aspirant expect, or more importantly what more do they require? How many degrees, or formal rituals must they go through before they become an Ipsissimus, the highest rank in the Order? Ipsissimus if we inspect it etymologically means ‘Innermost Source/Self’. The Master in his generosity and patience, guided the aspirant to their realization.


The above is a case in a work currently being undertaken titled ‘βούλημα Ligō, the Book of Binding and Undoing’, which will be compiled as a Thelemic koan collection.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *