Category Archives: A∴A∴

The Mystical & Magical System of the A∴A∴

The Mystical and Magical System of the A∴A∴: The Spiritual System of Aleister Crowley & George Cecil Jones Step-by-Step by James A Eshelman, from the College of Thelema, is part of the collection at the Reading Room.

James A Eshelman The Mystical & Magical System of the A∴A∴

“Initiation is a reality. Humanity has a potential to grow far beyond its native state of consciousness and capability. This growth is a spiritual growth. its fruits inform and empower every facet of human, mortal expression, while disclosing to each of us our own inherently immortal natures.

On this spiritual growth, more than any other thing, the future welfare and progress of humanity depends.

For thousands of years, Adepts have known how to unlock or awaken this growth—how to mature it and unleash genius at will. Beginning in 1906, two such Adepts, Aleister Crowley and George Cecil Jones, organized and made public the mystical and magical disciplines by which any motivated person can achieve this spiritual maturity and have direct experience of realization, liberation, union with God, or cosmic consciousness.

They called their system A∴A∴. Its methods are those of empirical science; its aim, those of devoted religion.

This book explores, step-by-step, the mystical and magical system of the A∴A∴. For many in the West, it is a strange thought that spirituality can be drilled in the same way that a muscle is strengthened. Yet, an ear trained to listen to music detects wondrous subtleties that the untrained ear misses. The same is true of the palate trained to distinguish fine food and wine, or the eye trained to discriminate nuance in any of a thousand areas.

The same is true of spiritual experience. The stages of its unfolding are distinct: the discovery of one’s True Will (or who one is in the Universe), and the practical means of expressing this in the world; the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel (or conscious union with the Divine); and the continued advance toward and through that vast gulf, or Abyss, which lies between humanity and Divinity.

The author, in more than 20 years of experience of the the mystical and magical system of the A∴A∴, has derived enormous value from it. This book is the clearest, most comprehensive presentation of the system ever written.” — back cover

The Cloud upon the Sanctuary

Hermetic Library fellow T Polyphilus reviews The Cloud upon the Sanctuary by Karl von Eckartshausen, introduction by Arthur Edward Waite, preface by J W Brodie-Innes, translated and annotated by Isabelle De Steiger, foreword by Edward Dunning.

Karl von Eckartshausen Arthur Edward Waite J W Brodie-Innes Isabelle de Steiger The Cloud upon the Sanctuary

When Aleister Crowley had just been first turned on to magic by reading Arthur Edward Waite’s Book of Black Magic and Pacts, he wrote to the author to find out what he should study to become an occultist. Waite directed him to Eckartshausen’s Cloud Upon the Sanctuary. A freely-edited version of Letter II from this book later became Crowley’s Liber XXXIII: “An Account of A∴A∴” in which Jesus Christ was replaced with V.V.V.V.V., and God with L.V.X.

The rest of Eckartshausen’s book deserves to be read in the same spirit, substituting a more wholesome Thelemic morality and metaphysic for the crypto-gnostic Roman Catholicism of the author. It does afford a surprisingly useful apprehension of the Eternal and Invisible Order that hath no name among men. [via]

David Shoemaker at Atlantis Bookshop on Jul 11th, 2014

David Shoemaker will be giving a talk, “The System of Aleister Crowley’s A∴A∴ Methods and Tools of Attainment”, followed by a Q&A session and book signing for Living Thelema, at Atlantis Bookshop on July 11th, 2014.

“David Shoemaker at The Atlantis Bookshop

The System of Aleister Crowley’s A∴A∴
Methods and Tools of Attainment

Friday 11th July
£10 entry
Doors at 7pm; Event begins at 7:30

The talk will be followed by a Question & Answer Session and book signing featuring
Dr. Shoemaker’s new book, Living Thelema.” [via]

The Book of Lies

Hermetic Library fellow T Polyphilus reviews The Book of Lies by Aleister Crowley, from Samuel Weiser.

Aleister Crowley The Book of Lies from Samuel Weiser

Its author wrote that The Book of Lies, Which Is Also Falsely Called Breaks should serve as the text-book for a Babe of the Abyss, i.e. an aspirant to Perfection who has irrevocably committed himself to “interpret every phenomenon as a particular dealing of God with his soul,” but who has not yet attained to Mastery on that basis. He assigned it the number 333, which is the number of Choronzon, the “mighty devil” who assails the Babe of the Abyss with the carrot of ego-attachment and the stick of cosmic fear. At the same time, he recommends the book even to beginners as containing useful wisdom regarding “many matters on all planes of the very highest importance.”

It is a short book, made up of many short chapters. Nearly all posthumous editions include the author’s later commentary to the original text, chapter by chapter. While these commentaries often contain useful instruction in their own right, they also frequently serve to misdirect the reader regarding the central message coded into a given chapter. And indeed, it is a highly cryptic book—sometimes whimsical, and often baffling.

There are certain conflicts of fact between the two stories that Aleister Crowley wrote regarding this book’s relationship to his status in O.T.O. (one in his Confessions, reproduced in the foreword to most of the later editions of The Book of Lies, and the other in Magick Without Tears chapter 25). It seems fitting that a volume called Lies should produce two irreconcilable stories from the author about its significance. Leaving aside Crowley’s hardly credible protestations of innocence, it has long been my surmise that The Book of Lies served as Crowley’s de facto “application” for the office of Grand Master General of the English O.T.O., since the book tidily synthesizes such topics as sex, metaphysics, qabalah, yoga, esoteric freemasonry, and original magical ritual. The facts that O.T.O. is never mentioned in the text itself, and that Lies includes several official rituals of Crowley’s own A∴A∴ initiatory system, actually serve to support this contention. At the time, O.T.O. Frater Superior Theodor Reuss, the Order’s international Head, was in the habit of recruiting as Grand Masters individuals who a) shared his propensity for esoteric synthesis, and b) had a proven track record as organizers of other initiatory societies. (A sterling but hardly isolated example would be Gerard “Papus” Encausse, whose Martinist Order was eventually listed among the bodies contributing their wisdom to O.T.O. in the latter’s Manifesto.)

In his accounts of his induction to the Ninth Degree, Crowley seems to tease the reader by claiming that the chief secret of O.T.O. is written in plain language in one of the chapters of The Book of Lies. Be that as it may, not only one, but most of the chapters contain doctrines relevant to O.T.O. mysteries. And considering that he equated the fully instructed and proficient O.T.O. initiate to an Adeptus Major, two full grades shy of the Babe of the Abyss in the A.∴A∴ system, one must infer that the best readers can get rewards from The Book of Lies that surpass the innermost Truths of O.T.O. [via]

Weiser Antiquarian Books Catalogue #117 Aleister Crowley and Circle. A Miscellany of Used and Rare Books and Ephemera

You may be interested in Weiser Antiquarian Books Catalogue #117 Aleister Crowley and Circle. A Miscellany of Used and Rare Books and Ephemera.

“The catalogue is divided into three sections, the first of which is devoted to the magnificent Frieda Lady Harris / Aleister Crowley Thoth Tarot Calendar that was published for the year 1987. The calendars are huge (16.5″ x 10.5″) and each has 12 full-colour large size reproductions of different Thoth tarot designs. Serendipitously the alignment of days / dates in 2015 will be exactly the same as it was in 1987, so those who want to actually use the calendar will be able to do so next year! We have only a very small number of original new copies — recently discovered in England — and originals are rare, as many owners disassembled them and framed each of the images individually (we have one such set on the walls at Weiser Antiquarian).

The second section is devoted to books and ephemera by Aleister Crowley. It includes a good selection of First Editions of Crowley’s works, including the first separate British and US editions of The Book of the Law (1938 & 1942 respectively), a good selection of First Editions of the first series of The Equinox, including one of the rare white buckram issues of which there were only 50 copies, and a handsomely bound copy of The Equinox, Vol. III, No. 1. (‘The Blue Equinox‘ — 1919) from the library of Ray G. Burlingame (1893–1965) ‘Frater Aquarius,’ a IX degree member of the Agape Lodge of the O.T.O., with his stylised ownership inscription. Other First Editions include a superb set of the first issue of Magick In Theory and Practice (1929) in four parts, with the rare, 4 page prospectus and the single-sheet Subscription Form; The Sword of Song. Called by Christians The Book of the Beast (1904), two different variants of The Tale of Archais. A Romance in Verse (1898), a handsomely rebound copy of Oracles: The Biography of an Art (1905) and first separate editions of The City of God (1943) and The Fun of the Fair (1942), including a copy of the latter with the two additional poems that were left out of most copies because of wartime censorship regulations. Posthumous editions include a highly unusual Thelema publications re-issue of The Vision and The Voice (1952 / 1980), the sought-after John Symonds and Kenneth Grant edited Magical and Philosophical Commentaries on the Book of the Law (1974) and a lovely copy of the Karl Germer edition of Liber Aleph (1962) with the extremely unusual original single-sided prospectus loosely inserted. There is also some fascinating ephemera, including a proof copy of Liber LXXVII. [Liber Oz] with holograph notes by Crowley on the verso; an autograph letter, signed, from Crowley to his physician urgently requesting a replacement prescription for heroin, and a holograph draft of a letter from Crowley to Frieda Lady Harris, along with a typed letter signed to Crowley from his lawyers, who had evidently vetted the contents of the letter on Crowley’s behalf!

The third and final section of the catalogue comprises works which in one way or another relate to Aleister Crowley. These include a copy of the rare first edition of Betty May’s Tiger-Woman (1929) — which famously includes a chapter on her stay at Cefalu, and a delightful early edition of James Joyce’s Ulysses (1926), a book which Crowley greatly admired, but which was banned in the UK at the time and comes with a home-made “modesty shield” so that it can sit undetected on the shelves. Both books are from the library of Edward Noel Fitzgerald (1908-1958), Frater Agape, a IX degree member of the O.T.O., long-time friend of Aleister Crowley’s, and briefly Karl Germer’s representative in the U.K., with his posthumous bookplate. Other curiosities include Liber Vel Oviz 93 Sub Figura LXXVI as Delivered By Oviz to Przoval 8 = 3 (1981) an unusual privately printed work that appears to present itself as a ‘sequel’ to or extension of “The Book of the Law,” S. Ivor Stephen’s, Neutrality: the Crucifixion of Public Opinion From the American Point of View (1916), a well-reasoned argument for keeping the USA out of the First World War, which includes a number of references to the views on the subject of the “great English writer and poet” Crowley and his circle; and a typed letter, signed, from Dennis Wheatley to Crowley, discussing publication possibilities for Crowley’s memoirs (1934)

Inside Solar Lodge, Outside the Law

Hermetic Library fellow T Polyphilus reviews Inside Solar Lodge, Outside the Law: True Tales of Initiation and High Adventure by Frater Shiva. There has since 2012 been a new and expanded edition released, available at extortionate prices or a reasonable price.

Frater Shiva Inside Solar Lodge, Outside the Law

This book is an invaluable addition to the history of Thelema, providing a previously-unavailable level of detail on the principal group in the US that believed itself to be perpetuating a magical catena from Aleister Crowley during the late 1960s. It is quite readable, and mostly credible. Still, practicing 21st-century Thelemites with no particular interest in history may find it somewhat shallow and uninteresting.

The account is certainly worth the read by students and researchers of the phenomena of New Religious Movements, as it offers an insider’s view of the full developmental arc of a ceremonial magic cult from inception to drug-addled senescence. [via]

The Commentaries of AL dust cover

A little while back I posted about the copy of The Commentaries of AL, Volume V No 1 of what is sometimes called the Red Equinox, by Aleister Crowley and another (Marcelo Ramos Motta), the 1975 first edition hardcover from Weiser Books, that is part of the collection at the Reading Room.

Marcelo Ramos Motta and Aleister Crowley's The Commentaries of AL from Weiser Books

In that post I mentioned that mine was without the dust cover and asked if anyone with a physical copy of this that still has the dust cover would let me know what the inside flap for this book has to say, if anything, about itself. Clifford B recently sent me scans of the dust cover from his copy of this book so I could take a gander. The inside back cover dust copy is an ad for Weiser’s edition of The Equinox, Vol I Nos 1–10, and for The Equinox, Vol 3 No 1, but the inside front dust copy and back cover speak about this volume.

Marcelo Ramos Motta Commentaries of AL front cover

The Commentaries of AL
by Aleister Crowley and Marcelo Motta

The Commentaries of AL introduces a new series of The Equinox as Volume 5 Number 1, released under the auspices of Marcel Motta, the current Praemonstrator of the A∴A∴ It is the first book to bear the Imprimatur of the Order since the publication of Liber Aleph in 1962.

Liber AL vel Legis—The Book of the Law—is an Initiated text whose doctrine is propounded in 220 verses that are to be the guiding principles of makind for the next 2000 years. It was communicated in 1904 through Aleister Crowley, who continually sought to elucidate the mystery of this Book in all his subsequent works. His major effort, the New Comment, was written in the 1920’s.

Crowley’s supremely modern point of view in the New Comment has been heightened by Marcelo Motta’s editing, which seeks to eliminate matter of non-magickal value, and other material easily consulted in the published writings of the A∴A∴, now more readily available than in Crowley’s own lifetime. He has himself written an extensive commentary (carefully distinguished by typestyle) that weaves in and through Crowley’s writing with an artistry both provoking and illuminating.

He or she who seeks to penetrate these pages with honesty and courage will be brought to a deeper understanding of the significance of Liber AL, whose law was given for every man and every woman.” — inside front dust copy

Marcelo Ramos Motta Commentaries of AL back cover

. . . 26. These slay, naming your enemies; & they shall fall before you.

Serious students will understand that ‘they shall fall before you’ does not necessarily mean that you shall slay them. Also, unserious students had better beware of trying to employ this magickal formula: ‘thou hast no right by to do thy will.’

Perhaps the following apologue will be of help:

A profane lew a beetle before Ra-Hoor-Khuit, naming a person he considered his enemy; and soon after, the profane went mad.

An Initiate slew a beetle before Ra-Hoor-Khuit, naming the person he considered his worst enemy, that is, himself; and soon after, he became a Master of the Temple.

AUGMN.” — Commentaries of AL, Chapter 3, Verse 26, as appears on the back cover

 

The Hermetic Library Reading Room is an imaginary and speculative future reification of the library in the physical world, a place to experience a cabinet of curiosities offering a confabulation of curation, context and community that engages, archives and encourages a living Western Esoteric Tradition. If you would like to contribute to the Hermetic Library Reading Room, consider supporting the library or contact the librarian.

The Magical Record of the Beast 666

Magical Record of the Beast 666: The Diaries of Aleister Crowley, 1914–1920, edited with copious annotations by John Symonds and Kenneth Grant, the 1993 third impression of the paperback from Duckworth, is part of the collection at the Reading Room.

Aleister Crowley John Symonds Kenneth Grant The Magical Record of the Beast 666 from Duckworth

“Crowley called his Diary a Magical Record because it contains accounts of his magical experiments, including the details of his secret sexual magick and of his consumption of a variety of dangerous drugs. it was not written with an eye to publication. ‘I don’t particularly expect anybody to read it,’ he wrote. Hence the unguarded way in which he recorded his innermost thoughts and performances of secret rites. There is a veiled reference to this extraordinary journal in his Magick in Theory and Practice, 1929. ‘Yea, he [Crowley’s Holy Guardian Angel, Aiwaz] wrought also in me a Work of Wonder beyond all this, but in this matter I am sworn to hold my peace.’ The ‘Work of Wonder’ was his supreme initiation into the highest grade of the mystical Order of the Silver Star, the beginning of which is described in this volume. Crowley, who died in 1947, had to hold his peace about that, and certainly about his sexual magick. Today, in these confused times, strange creeds thrust themselves forward, asking to be examined. everything is in the melting pot and a way out of the chaos in being anxiously sought. There is no stranger creed than Crowley’s doctrine of Do What Thou Wilt. Nor are there any experiences more exotic than his mystical illuminations and initiations.

John Symonds is Crowley’s literary executor and biographer. Kenneth Grant is the present world head of the Order of Oriental Templars, the magical order which Crowley reorganized in the 1920s.”

 

The Hermetic Library Reading Room is an imaginary and speculative future reification of the library in the physical world, a place to experience a cabinet of curiosities offering a confabulation of curation, context and community that engages, archives and encourages a living Western Esoteric Tradition. If you would like to contribute to the Hermetic Library Reading Room, consider supporting the library or contact the librarian.

Aleister Crowley: New, Used and Rare Books and Ephemera

You may be interested in Weiser Antiquarian Book Catalogue #110: Aleister Crowley: New, Used and Rare Books and Ephemera. Including a Selection of Books from the Library of Wilfred T. Smith.

Weiser Antiquarian Book Catalogue #110 Aleister Crowley

“Welcome to the one hundred-and-tenth of our on-line catalogues, this being another of our specialised Aleister Crowley lists.

The catalogue begins with three interesting new releases: signed copies of Marlene Cornelius’ Liber AL Vel Legis: The Book of the Law. An Examination of Liber XXXI & Liber CCXX; and David Shoemaker’s Living Thelema: A Practical Guide to Attainment in Aleister Crowley’s System of Magick, and the always-interesting and beautifully produced AMeTh Lodge Journal. Vol. I, No. II from AMeTh Lodge of the O.T.O. in London. The next item is “Dark Halo,” a signed and numbered Limited Edition Print of a portrait of Aleister Crowley by California artist Heather McMillen, with an accompanying hand-written poetic “homage to Aleister Crowley” by Blair MacKenzie Blake, author of The Wickedest Books in the World and other works.

The third section of the catalogue is devoted to books and ephemera by Aleister Crowley himself. Amongst the rarities included are a copy of the Cambridge University magazine Granta which includes an anonymous poem by Crowley, a copy of the vellum bound first volume of The [Collected] Works of Aleister Crowley with an extraordinary double inscription, and Nicholas Bishop-Culpeper’s personal copy of Magick In Theory and Practice, beautifully bound in full vellum. There is also a group of four autograph letters, signed by Crowley; each is significant in its own way, with topics ranging from Crowley’s alleged share holdings in Australia, to a defense of Aubrey Beardsley! A selection of copies of The English Review, each with a contribution by Crowley, are followed by a varied group of books and journals that in one way or another relate to “the Beast.” Included amongst the journals are a copy of Esquire Magazine from March 1970 with a detailed and heavily illustrated series of essays on Californian occultism, that also reproduces a newsclipping concerning the famous “Solar Lodge” “Boy in the Box” debacle; a complete set of Sothis Magazine from the 1970s, a collection of the first seven issues of the Typhonian magazine Starfire; and 3 consecutive issues of Picture Post Magazine from 1955 which serialised a well-illustrated but breathless account of Crowley’s life. Amongst the books in the same section are a first edition of The Macedonians by Mary Butts, the English novelist and serious occult practitioner who spent some time at Cefalu with Crowley, the very uncommon first edition of Tiger-Woman by Betty May, in which she recounts her own time at Cefalu, and Nina Hamnett’s Laughing Torso, a book which eventually led Crowley into bankruptcy after he sued it’s publishers for libel, and failed.

A selection of the rather abstruse “Ming” booklets by one-time Crowley acolyte C. F. Russell is followed by the first three volumes of his also often-baffling Znuz is Znees, Memoirs of a Magician. A link, to a separate page, leads to listings for a collection of 26 books that were formerly in the library of Wilfred Talbot Smith (1885-1957), founder of “The Church of Thelema,” head of Agape Lodge of the O.T.O. in California, a long term associate of Aleister Crowley, and subject of Martin Starr’s biography The Unknown God. The collection includes a copy of the First US edition of Aleister Crowley’s Diary of a Drug Fiend, and copies of a number of works that Crowley is known to have recommended to his disciples, including The Canon; three books by Sydney T. Klein; the James Legge, translations of The Tao Teh King and The Yi King; etc. Some of the books have presentation or other inscriptions by well known people within the Thelemic community, including C. Stansfeld Jones; Frederic Mellinger; and Helen Parsons Smith. Most of the books are stamped with the personal lamen, with phallic design, of W.T. Smith, which he used as an ownership stamp, and a few also have his ownership signature. Included in the collection are several books that are quite scarce in their own right; notably the works by the obscure American alchemical author Delmar DeForest Bryant and the First Edition of the Pancham Sinh, translation of The Hatha Yoga Pradipika. Returning to the present page, the catalogue finishes with a group of copies of the Cincinnati Journal of Ceremonial Magick, a magazine published by a small Thelemic group in Ohio known as the Bate Cabal in the late 1970s and 80s.” [via]