Q.B.L. or the Bride’s Reception

Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews Q.B.L. or the Bride’s Reception by Frater Achad (Charles Stansfeld Jones).

Achad Jones QBL or the Bride's Reception

The main body of this volume is an adequate primer on the hermetic qabala. Charles Stansfeld Jones reproduces nearly verbatim the heuristic theory of qabala originated by his spiritual father Aleister Crowley, with its central metaphor of the ‘filing cabinet.’ (Crowley himself did not publish this theory until several years later in Magick in Theory & Practice.)

Most notable, however, are the appendices to this book, where Jones first advanced the scheme of his “restored” Tree of Life, revising the entire system of qabalistic correspondences on the basis of his individual intuitions. Crowley was disappointed in the general style of the book, and criticized its unorthodox content as “imbecility.” In obvious allusion to Jones, he wrote in Magick in Theory & Practice

“One who ought to have known better tried to improve the Tree of Life by turning the Serpent of Wisdom upside down! Yet he could not even make his scheme symmetrical: his little remaining good sense revolted at the supreme atrocities. Yet he succeeded in reducing the whole Magical Alphabet to nonsense, and shewing that he had never understood its real meaning.”

Jones went on to affirm and develop his Restored Tree in later works: The Anatomy of the Body of God and The Egyptian Revival. But Crowley’s criticism was well-founded; and Jones’ insistence on an idiosyncratic system of correspondences, cutting himself off from deep precedent symbolism, was in fact symptomatic of his tendency to “shut himself up” in the false emanation of Knowledge. Despite the occasional embrace of the Restored Tree by later magicians (Benjamin Rowe is a signal instance), Jones’ peculiar filing cabinet sits in an shadowy office where little real work is done. [via]