Category Archives: The Equinox: The Review of Scientific Illuminism

The Psychology of Hashish

The Psychology of Hasish by Aleister Crowley is the fourth new edition from 100th Monkey Press, available in a hand-bound limited edition.

Aleister Crowley-The Psychology of Hashish from 100th Monkey Press

Aleister Crowley’s The Psychology of Hashish, written under the pseudonym of Oliver Haddo, was first published in Volume I, No. 2 of The Equinox on 24 September of 1909. It made up part two of a serial publication entitled The Herb Dangerous.

During Crowley’s early magical career, he, along with his then guru, Allan Bennett, investigated various pharmaceutical preparations, including hashish, in search of a substance that would provide a pathway to mystical states.

The Psychology of Hashish presents Crowley’s personal investigation into the use of hashish and introduces his hypothesis that it can stimulate or serve as a precursor to valid mystical states.

Crowley’s opinion regarding the use of hashish seems to be that an aspirant to spiritual enlightenment may, by using hashish under controlled circumstances, attain a mystical state, or obtain a ‘preview’ of potential states of mind ordinarily only made possible through rigorous spiritual exercises.

While Crowley investigated the use of various pharmaceutical substances as potential aids to spiritual attainment, there is no evidence that he advocated the use of hashish, or any other substance, as a substitute for hard work and discipline in a spiritual practice.

Each book is bound by hand in a Japanese style binding and measures a large-sized 8 1/2” x 11″. 97 pages. Printed in red and black on high quality 70 pound text weight, acid-free Via paper specifically chosen for this edition. Bound in an acid-free, glued-up composition cover consisting of a distressed brown faux leather over custom printed endpapers. Text set in a combination of Malgun Gothic, Bookman Old Style and Copperplate Gothic fonts. Illustrations include 20 vintage graphics of interpretations of “Alice and the Caterpillar” based on Lewis Carroll’s classic novel “Alice in Wonderland”.

As an added bonus, each book comes with a hand-bound copy of Crowley’s ‘The Opium Smoker.’

Each copy also includes a handsome themed bookplate and bookmark.

Edition limited to 150 numbered copies. Price: US $19.95 [via]

The Magic of Aleister Crowley

Hermetic Library fellow T Polyphilus reviews The Magic of Aleister Crowley by John Symonds.

John Symonds The Magic of Aleister Crowley

This book was issued after the first edition of Symonds’ original Crowley bio The Great Beast, and the later revised edition of The Great Beast claimed to include the contents of The Magic of AC. But that was only partially true. About 60% of The Magic consists of biographical material that Symonds had not included in The Great Beast, particularly drawn from Crowley’s records of his major magical operations, such as “The Ab-ul-Diz Working” and “The Paris Working.” These passages were later integrated with the main biography, as advertised. But this material is more reliably approached through the primary documents in The Equinox IV (2) (The Vision & the Voice, with Commentary and Other Papers), of course.

What serious students will find most interesting is the other 40% of Symonds’ The Magic of AC, in which he describes the manner in which he ingratiated himself to the elderly Prophet of the Aeon. There is a curious repeated pattern, in which Crowley invites Symonds out to Netherwood, and Symonds brings along an uninvited guest as a companion. Symonds writes that “Crowley was someone to see and to talk about afterwards,” as if the old magician were a stage play for his amusement. Despite his protestations that he found Crowley entertaining in a sort of pathetic way, it looks like Symonds was genuinely afraid of him. His poor wife Margaret certainly was, and the account of Symonds arm-twisting her into a visit makes for gruesome reading. After several visits with Crowley, having read The Book of the Law and The Equinox of the Gods which Crowley gave him as gifts, Symonds still doesn’t seem to know the word Thelema, instead going on contemptuously about “Crowleyism” and “Crowleyanity.” Symonds patently deceives Crowley into thinking that he is willing to help on such projects as a new Thelemic commune (“The Green Lion”), playing him along, rather than being honest with him. He whines about getting involved in the publication of Olla, when he volunteered to help. And then he treats his assignment as literary executor as a surprising stroke of luck, when his intention to write a saleable biography of Crowley had been declared to the reader (but not to Crowley) from the outset.

Symonds once accused Crowley of being a man with no superego or conscience of any kind. He often remarked how Crowley seemed utterly mystified by why other people should consider him evil. I rather think, after reading The Magic of Aleister Crowley, that the description better fits Symonds himself. He seems to have thought that readers would consider him fully justified in lying to an eccentric old man whom he intended to use as literary fodder. So today Symonds is an elderly author living in England. If only two wrongs could make a right… [via]


Omnium Gatherum: March 19th, 2014

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for March 19th, 2014

Thelema with Shane Gillen
Thelema with Shane Gillen [also], a magic show set in a secret location in central Dublin

 

  • Fujitsu ScanSnap SV600; from the distorted-world-view dept.

    “Equipped with ‘VI technology’ which combines a deep depth of field lens, CCD linear image sensor and high directivity LED lamp, SV600 is able to minimize unevenness in image quality and generate a smooth image even when scanning from a distance.”

    Fujitsu ScanSnap SV600

     

  • do-it yourself repro v-cradle for paper books — ereszet; from the v-for-victory dept.

    “Why a v-cradle and not a flat bed.
    For two reasons: First, you cannot spread the books flat and if you do, the quality of reproduced pages will be compromised. It is especially important if you plan to OCR the book. Second, you avoid light reflections. You need only one lamp with a diffuser just over the v-cradle (picture attached). Lighting is the most difficult part of reproduction. Over the years, I have tried various setups with my semi-professional Manfrotto repro stand and four lamps at 45 degree angle. It doesn’t come close to an overhead lamp and v-cradle. Avoid any other light in the room or take everything to your terrace and shoot at the sunlight with no artificial light.”

    ereszet DIY book cradle

     

  • Release 2.0 of the Standard Spiritualist and Occult Corpus (SSOC) Available” — Marc Demarest, Chasing Down Emma; from the knock-twice-for-yes dept.

    “The SSOC now clocks in at 2700+ titles: more than 1.3 million pages of indexed Spiritualist and occult non-fiction from the 1790s until 1940.

    Release 2.0 provides more than 500 new and updated titles, and marks the beginning of the re-indexing of the SSOC using a third-party embedded indexing engine superior to the Adobe Acrobat in-built OCR facility, for higher-fidelity searches.”

  • Ancient ‘Ritual Wand’ Etched with Human Faces Discovered in Syria” — Tia Ghose, livescience [Scarlet Imprint]; from the weirwood dept.

    “Archaeologists have unearthed an ancient staff carved with two realistic human faces in southern Syria.

    The roughly 9,000-year-old artifact was discovered near a graveyard where about 30 people were buried without their heads — which were found in a nearby living space.”

    Ancient ritual wand in Syria from Ibanez et al
    Photo: Ibanez et al, Antiquity, 2014

     

  • 800-year-old monk found poking out of cliff face” — Sarah Knapton, The Telegraph [via]; from the i-know-what-happened-to-jimmy-hoffa dept.

    “[Karl-James] Langford said a monastic community lived close to the area and the bones appeared to be from a man in his late 20s, in good health.

    ‘I would say they belong to a monk from the 1200s — due to previous archaeological digs in the past, the depth of the bones in the cliff and the history of the area.

    He would likely be buried with nothing except two shroud rings which would have held his burial shroud in place at the head and feet.'”

  • Nasir al-Mulk ‘Pink Mosque’ Of Iran Is Like Stepping Into A Kaleidoscope” — Yasmine Hafiz, The Huffington Post; from the whoa-that’s-a-full-rainbow-all-the-way dept.

    “From the outside, the Nasir al-Mulk Mosque in Shiraz, Iran, seems like a fairly traditional house of worship — but it’s hiding a gorgeously colorful secret.”

    Omid Jafarnezhad Nasir al-Mulk pink mosque
    Photo: Omid Jafarnezhad

     

  • Bagging a Witch in Ohio” — Chris, Woodyard, Haunted Ohio — [HT Richard Shepard]; from the so-logically-if-she-weighs-the-same-as-a-duck-she’s-made-of-wood dept.

    “Today’s post returns to a similar theme: Anti-witch remedies and witch-tests in early 19th-century Ohio. This story–half dire description of lunacy and half Monty Python sketch–comes from the village of Bethel in Clermont County.”

  • Siberian Police Stop Witch Burning” &mdash RIA Novosti, The Moscow Times [HT Judika Illes]; in the titus-andronicus dept.

    “In an unexpected incident worthy of the Spanish inquisition, a couple in eastern Siberia decided their acquaintance was a witch and attempted to burn her alive, though police stopped the impromptu auto-da-fe.

    The rescue came not a moment too soon, as the couple were at that moment forcing the alleged witch headfirst into a burning stove in an abandoned building, Zabaikalsky region police said Thursday.”

  • Wellcome MS373, f.87r — Sienna Lathan, via tweet; from the and-shoot-forth-venom dept.

    “Whosoeuer first in the morning drinketh garlicke and Cockes blood hee need not fear venome.”

  • Discordian Events List — Chasing Eris; what’s-up-chuck dept.

    “What Discordian events are near you?”

  • Embracing Questions” — Thomas Zwollo, Spiral Nature; from the soldier-and-the-hunchback dept.

    “Throughout his life, Crowley was asking himself questions, and he encouraged his students and readers to ask questions. This included questions about the things they read, the rituals they performed, the conditions of their magical work, and even to interrogate the entities they invoked. He embraced the method of science, and thus he embraced questions more than answers. I often challenge myself to remember this in my own work.”

  • What The Gnostic Pentagram Ritual Sounds Like” — The Blog of Baphomet [HT Spiral Nature]; from the and-sometimes-y dept.

    “Another group of occultists that we’re associated with had asked for some help with a demonstration of the vowel sounds (I, E, A, O, U) that Pete Carroll uses to build the various banishing rituals in his writing. As with many things in life it’s one thing to read a ritual text and another to see, hear and participate in it for oneself.”

  • Sock Magic” — Fire Lyte, Inciting A Riot [HT Sarah Anne Lawless]; from the sock-it-to-me dept.

    “Magical tools can be found in all sorts of strange places these days. From conversations about turning your potpourri warmer into a slow-burning witchy cauldron, to using your iPod as a divinatory device, people are getting witchy where they can these days. In bygone eras our witchy ancestry, so we’re led to believe, used what they had on handle — the broom, the cauldron, the sickle — because it’s what they had. Not because a broom is more magical or special than any other household object.

    And so, with all that very serious background, let’s make magic with socks!”

  • A Mystic, Magician and Theologian Talk to an Angel” — K Herschel, Star And System; from the july-like-a-dog dept.

    “The best way to get a feel for the Enochian entities is to look at Dee’s journals. What you see there are years of promises unkept. The angels promised power, the power that makes empires and tears down thrones. They also promised a complete system. They never delivered on any of it to Dee. After you have feasted on Dee’s disappointments, move on to Crowley’s The Vision and the Voice and the collected work of Benjamin Rowe. All else aside, what you will see is what Rowe realized very early on. The Enochian entities are very good at playing up to your expectations and saying precisely what you need to hear to keep you interested even when it’s not what you expect. This is a danger in magic in general, but the Enochian entities are masters of the genre.”

  • Null-A Mind Software” — seth, An American Mystagogue; from the possibly-maybe dept.

    “Two value logic (Ie, True or False) while a highly useful way of thinking manages to darken one’s view of possible alternate ways of thinking and perceiving the world around them. When we become habitually addicted to the categorization of all information as either Totally Existing or Totally Not-Existing we become sloppy, lazy thinkers who are prone to building a self-gratifying personal cosmology. When the two-value system is used in its right way it is simply a systematic approach to what I call ‘the cosmic binary’.”

  • Cultural production of ignorance provides rich field for study” — Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times [HT Wythe Marschall]; from the i-read-it-on-the-internet dept.

    “Robert Proctor doesn’t think ignorance is bliss. He thinks that what you don’t know can hurt you. And that there’s more ignorance around than there used to be, and that its purveyors have gotten much better at filling our heads with nonsense.”

  • Rethinking Gnostic Intellectuals? Categories as Weapons and History as Construct” — Philip L Tite, Bulletin for the Study of Religion; from the interprefacts dept.

    “As a social historian, I still like to think that we can know something about past cultures. However, if I’ve learned anything from my method & theory exemplars over the years, it is to appreciate the value of stepping back and ‘studying the study of.’ Indeed, this theoretical standpoint is a subtext in nearly all my teaching and much of my scholarship. How the past is shaped, directed, juxtaposed, and selectively presented is perhaps far more insightful to the student in religious studies than the actual ‘facts’ (events, persons, things, etc) – even if those ‘facts’ are not in dispute per se.”

  • The Gnostics Were Intellectuals” — April DeConick, The Forbidden Gospels; from the path-less-traveled dept.

    “So I have been working upstream most of my career, swimming against a current that is much stronger than I am. I guess I like the challenge, or I wouldn’t keep doing it. I have spent a lot of time within the Nag Hammadi texts, reconstructing the worlds of the authors, which are not crazy once you learn their references and points of view. The Gnostics from antiquity were anything but crazy, inconsequential or irrational. But they were different. And difference often leads to misunderstanding.”

  • Uncovered in Jerusalem, 9 tiny unopened Dead Sea Scrolls” — Ilan Ben Zion, The Times of Israel [HT Disinformation]; from the right-under-your-nous dept.

    “An Israeli scholar turned up the previously unexamined parchments, which had escaped the notice of academics and archaeologists as they focused on their other extraordinary finds in the 1950s. Once opened, the minuscule phylactery parchments from Qumran, while unlikely to yield any shattering historic, linguistic or religious breakthroughs, could shed new light on the religious practices of Second Temple Judaism.”

  • The Warlock and Truth-Breaking” — K Herschel, Star and System [HT Storm Faerywolf]; from the curses-foiled-again dept.

    “We might find, as well, echoes of the Warlock and Truth-Breaker in Aleister Crowley’s concept of the curse of the Magus. The curse of the Magus is that she must always lie. Having achieved a level of transcendence beyond the dualistic structure of the phenomenal universe, all things are both truth and false for the Magus. As such, language itself is inadequate to capture the understanding (Binah) and wisdom (Chokmah) that the Magus has achieved and so all linguistic statements and teachings are a lie. We are clearly dealing here with a discussion of the nature of the Magus on the mystical register. The experience to which she is privy is beyond the grasp of word or image, as is the case with most mystical experience.”

  • The Secret Chiefs and Academia, Ep 1 of The Lost Word, hosted by Greg Kaminsky, with Tony Silvia, from Gnostic NYC; from the master-chief-mischief dept.

     

  • Neuroanatomical Correlates of Religiosity and Spirituality” — Lisa Miller, et al., JAMA Psychiatry; from the gonna-set-me-up-with-the-spirit-in-the-sky dept.

    “A thicker cortex associated with a high importance of religion or spirituality may confer resilience to the development of depressive illness in individuals at high familial risk for major depression, possibly by expanding a cortical reserve that counters to some extent the vulnerability that cortical thinning poses for developing familial depressive illness.”

  • Majid Fotuhi quoted at “Is Religion Good for Your Brain?” — Sheila M Eldred, Discovery News; from the hippo-on-campus-would-stress-me-out-too dept.

    “One of the worst killers of brain cells is stress […] Stress causes high levels of cortisol, and cortisol is toxic to the hippocampus. One way to reduce stress is through prayer. When you’re praying and in the zone you feel a peace of mind and tranquility.”

  • Death Grips, with videos featured on this blog on occassion, will be on tour with Nine Inch Nails and Soundgarden.

     

  • On the occult, books, and the senses” — Brigit Katz, Bibliopaths; from the medium-is-the-message dept.

    “Occult revivals that are bubbling up in Brooklyn and in other pockets across the country have ushered in something of a Golden Age for small-press, metaphysical publishing houses. ‘That’s sort of the new wave of occult books: a re-evaluation of occult book as tome, and as talisman.’ [Phillip] English tells me. ‘Occultists or magicians, they tend to be collectors … They can appreciate the sort of art and magic that went into the work itself.’ Which isn’t to say that all members of the occult community buy into the idea of book-as-talisman. Phil Hine, a British occultist who has written several books on a practice called Chaos Magic, is among the witches and magicians who have questioned the value of ornately bound hard covers to magical rites. ‘Generally, I buy books because of the content,’ he writes on his blog. ‘Presentation is a secondary consideration.'”

  • Book Review: ‘Plato at the Googleplex’ by Rebecca Newberger Goldstein” — Colin McGinn, The Wall Street Journal; from the drown-me-in-the-shallow-water dept.

    “Rebecca Goldstein has written a timely book about our own age by taking us back to an earlier age—that of the ancient Greeks. She wants to know what the works of Plato can teach us about the life worth living, about politics, child rearing, love and sex, about knowledge and reality, brain and mind, truth, goodness, and beauty. Ms. Goldstein’s book is felicitously written, impressively researched, insightful, important, entertaining and glowing with intelligence. Plato is brought marvelously to life, and, as a welcome corollary, philosophy is vindicated against what Ms. Goldstein aptly labels the ‘philosophy-jeerers’—those who rashly claim that philosophy has no intellectual substance or future in this scientific era.”

  • ‘Son Of God’ Veers Toward Gnostic Heresy” — Joel Gehrke, The Federalist; from the heresy-gone-tomorrow dept.

    Son of God gives oxygen to a claim that early church leaders denounced as historically and theologically false because it contradicts the earliest accounts of Jesus’ life. The movie’s portrayal of Jesus’ Last Supper with the disciples creates the impression that Jesus ordered Judas to betray him.

    They aren’t the first to do that. An ancient Gnostic sect known as the Cainites honored traditional villains such as Cain and Judas, praising the latter as the closest confidant of Jesus, according to the second-century church father Irenaeus of Lyons.”

  • Nasa-funded study: industrial civilisation headed for ‘irreversible collapse’?” — Nafeez Ahmed, The Guardian’s Earth Insight; from the IDM dept.

    “A new study sponsored by Nasa’s Goddard Space Flight Center has highlighted the prospect that global industrial civilisation could collapse in coming decades due to unsustainable resource exploitation and increasingly unequal wealth distribution.

    Noting that warnings of ‘collapse’ are often seen to be fringe or controversial, the study attempts to make sense of compelling historical data showing that ‘the process of rise-and-collapse is actually a recurrent cycle found throughout history.’ Cases of severe civilisational disruption due to ‘precipitous collapse — often lasting centuries — have been quite common.'”

  • Detection of primordial gravitational waves announced” — Matthew Francis, Ars Technica; from the bang-bang-that-awful-sound dept.

    “When the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics announced a press conference for a “Major Discovery” (capital letters in the original e-mail) involving an unspecified experiment, rumors began to fly immediately. By Friday afternoon, the rumors had coalesced around one particular observatory: the BICEP microwave telescope located at the South Pole. Over the weekend, the chatter focused on a specific issue: polarization in the Cosmic Microwave Background left over from the Big Bang. With the start of the press conference, it’s now clear that we’ve detected the first direct evidence of the inflationary phase of the Big Bang, in which the Universe expanded rapidly in size.”

  • Space Ripples Reveal Big Bang’s Smoking Gun” — Dennis Overbye, The New York Times; from the bang-bang-my-baby-shot-me-down dept.

    “One night late in 1979, an itinerant young physicist named Alan Guth, with a new son and a year’s appointment at Stanford, stayed up late with his notebook and equations, venturing far beyond the world of known physics.

    He was trying to understand why there was no trace of some exotic particles that should have been created in the Big Bang. Instead he discovered what might have made the universe bang to begin with.”

  • The Remnants of Prehistoric Plant Pollen Reveal that Humans Shaped Forests 11,000 Years Ago” — Josie Garthwaite, Smithsonian Magazine; from the ancient-anthropocene dept.

    “A new study of pollen samples extracted from tropical forests in southeast Asia suggests humans have shaped these landscapes for thousands of years. Although scientists previously believed the forests were virtually untouched by people, researchers are now pointing to signs of imported seeds, plants cultivated for food, and land clearing as early as 11,000 years ago—around the end of the last Ice Age.

    The study, to be published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Archaeological Science comes from researchers led by paleoecologist Chris Hunt, of Queen’s University, Belfast, who analyzed existing data and examined samples from Borneo, Sumatra, Java, Thailand and Vietnam.”

  • The Famished Road by Ben Okri [HT Literary Interest]; from the bring-me-a-dream dept.

    “We can redream this world and make the dream come real. Human beings are gods hidden from themselves.”

  • Hodges’ Constellation cards” — The World of Playing Cards; from the he-saw-stars-in-his-eyes dept.

    “The Ram, the Bull, the Heavenly Twins,
    And next the Crab, the Lion shines —
    The Virgin and the Scales,
    The Scorpion, Archer, and the Goat,
    The Man that Bears the Watering Pot,
    And Fish with glittering tails.”

    Charles Hodges Constellation cards at World of Playing Cards

     

  • Masonic Playing Cards” — The World of Playing Cards; from the know-when-to-hold-em dept.

    “This attractive pack commemorating the history of freemasonry has the Kings as masters of the lodge, the Queens and Jacks are other masonic officers while the Jokers are two operative masons. The deck contains two interpretation cards explaining the meaning of the Masonic symbolism.”

    Masonic Playing Cards at World of Playing Cards

     

  • Hermetic Library anthology artist Doleful Lions has a new release, Annotated Gilgamesh b/w Tearstreaked Monster.

     

  • Child’s illustrated garden of Satanic ritual abuse” — Cory Doctorow, Boing Boing; from the is-that-a-euphemism-in-your-pocket dept.

    “I want to go home. I already HAD the ‘magic surgery.’ They put a monster in me.”

    Child's illustrated garden of Satanic ritual abuse via Boing Boing

     

  • Ancient Egyptian Kitten Skeletons Hint at Cat Domestication” [HT Boing Boing]; from the curious-what’s-in-that-bag dept.

    “The skeletons of six cats, including four kittens, found in an Egyptian cemetery may push back the date of cat domestication in Egypt by nearly 2,000 years.

The Mass of the Phoenix public and private

Coph Nia, a local body of Ordo Templi Orientis in the valley of Eugene, OR, whose body master is Hermetic Library fellow David Richard Jones sent a sheet with two version of Liber XLIV, The Mass of the Phoenix; one is the familiar version which is a eucharistic ritual for an individual Magician, and the other is a version you may or may not know about, a version once ‘ordained for public service’, which is designed as a public eucharistic ritual that predates the Gnostic Mass, which was first published in The International in March 1918 and written in 1915 during Russian tour of Crowley’s Ragged Ragtime Girls troupe, as a Thelemic ritual designed for public service. This last “was publicly performed, in London, by Crowley, Leila Waddell & possibly Victor Neuburg” in 1913, and you can find it published in Equinox IV 2, p 370, as a footnote to Liber CDXV, Opus Lutetianum or The Paris Working. This handy reference has arrived and is now part of the collection at the Reading Room.

Coph Nia Mass of the Phoenix

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.

Sex Magick

The Best of the Equinox, Sex Magick: Volume III by Aleister Crowley, selected and introduced by Lon Milo DuQuette, from Weiser Books, is due for release on November 1, 2013. As they say in the email announcement, “Before there was ‘sex, drugs, and rock & roll’ there was Aleister Crowley.”

Aleister Crowley Lon Milo DuQuette Sex Magick from Weiser Books

Through November 14th, if you order directly from Red Wheel / Weiser, they have a 30% discount code available, so use EQUI at checkout. There’s also an excerpt available in PDF format, if you want to get a gander at what it looks like.

The Equinox, in print from 1909–1919, was a magical journal published by Aleister Crowley and included Crowley’s own A∴A∴ laws, rituals and rites, reviews, and magical works by other important practitioners. Published as ten volumes, much of the material remains out of print today. Now, for the first time since Israel Regardie’s selections Gems from the Equinox (1974) renowned scholar and U.S. Deputy Grandmaster General of the O.T.O. Lon Milo DuQuette presents readers with his own selections from this classic publication, The Best of the Equinox.

Volume III of the series presents perhaps the most titillating of esoteric subjects, Sex Magick. Once he grasped the fundamentals of sexual magick, Aleister Crowley understood it to be the key that unlocks the secrets of the universe. He dedicated the entire second half of his life to exploring its mysteries. This volume presents the bulk of Crowley’s written works on the subject and includes The Gnostic Mass, Energized Enthusiasm, Liber A’ash, Liber Chath, and Liber Stellae Rubeae.” [via]

The Commentaries of AL

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, is part of the collection at the Reading Room.

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

Unfortunately not in great shape, and without the dust cover, but this much maligned Motta commentary on Liber AL vel Legis, The Book of the Law is still an interesting addition to the collection.

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, I’d much appreciate hearing from you so I could add that information to this post.

 

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.

Commentaries on the Holy Books and Other Papers

Commentaries on the Holy Books and Other Papers (Equinox), containing commentaries on the Class A libri by Aleister Crowley and other papers, including work by H P Blavatsky, J F C fuller and Charles Stansfeld Jones (Frater Achad), is part of the collection at the Reading Room. This is both a paperback and hardcover published as Equinox IV 1 by Weiser.

Aleister Crowley and others in Commentaries on the Holy Books also called Equinox IV 1 from Weiser

 

 

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 Holy Books of Thelema

The Holy Books of Thelema, containing the Class A libri by Aleister Crowley, is part of the collection at the Reading Room. This is the 1988 paperback published as Equinox III 9 by Weiser.

Aleister Crowley's The Holy Books of Thelema, or Equinox III 9, from Weiser

 

 

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.

My Life with the Fill Kill Kult

You may have felt a tremor within the normally calm and placid Thelemic community lately over the words “fill” and kill” as they appear, or not, in the Book of the Law, Chapter III Verse 37. I’ve seen a number of people arrive on the site and blog looking for information about a recent proposed textual change in this core Thelemic document. I thought I’d pull together some notes and references about this for those who might be interested in reading such things in context or who are curious. I also ramble a bit, which rambles are, of course, nothing more than my own thoughts, occurring to me at this particular time …

Unicursal Fill Me Kill Me poster
FILL ME KILL ME

News

Embedded in a recent April 10, 2013 update (the previous update was posted back in June 2008!) to the international Ordo Templi Orientis news pages was a comment about some marginalia in a copy of the 1909 single-volume edition of ΘΕΛΗΜΑ (Thelema, or The Holy Books of Thelema) acquired from a significant James Thomas Windram Accession:

… the book includes several early comments on verses of Liber Legis (a few of which are important), as well as a very important text correction to Liber CCXX III:37 which resolves a longstanding textual difference between three sources: (1) the versification of the Stèle of Revealing from a now-lost vellum notebook, which was published with the reading “kill me!” in The Equinox I(7) (1912) and The Equinox of the Gods (1936); (2) a quotation (“fill me!”) given in a pencil note to Liber XXXI, the MS. of Liber AL, giving directions for the extent of the quotation to be inserted from a contemporary vellum notebook; and (3) the editions of Liber Legis published by Crowley, all of which gave “fill me!”. In this copy Crowley’s marginal holograph note clearly corrects “fill me!” to “kill me!” in the text of Liber CCXX.

Ordo Templi Orientis (O.T.O.) News

So, look for the next edition of The Holy Books of Thelema to include this change and perhaps some additional notes derived from the newly available marginalia from that acquisition. And, there were a number of interesting bits about other pending publications in that new update, so it’s great to have something like this textual change to distract people from that, especially since this offers a nice change from the generally unanswered constant complaints about various books being out of print or unavailable.

Provenance

The speed at which this change has rippled around the community is pretty striking, and also very familiar.

Recently, for example, in the last year, there was a document being called “The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife” which was put forth as being written historical evidence that referenced a wife of Jesus. Of course, the saga of that fragment of papyrus was one of rapid fame that was steadily eroded by the work of a number of careful and considered critics. (That is actually a very interesting saga, if you didn’t keep track of it. It is also an example of the kind of similar things that happen periodically.)

What has been presented so far is a textual statement about what does seem to be solid provenance accompanied by some rather poor photographs in which it was largely impossible to see any details. I’m not saying that the evidence presented is faked as I’m in no position to know one way or the other. Certainly, I tend to believe the statement of a respected Crowley scholar and the head of an order in which I am a member about his belief in regard to the item and the details of the provenance, but it is important to remember that even experts can be mistaken.

But, with that said, I’m of the mind to assume that the marginal note is genuine and go from there. I just wanted to point these reasonable academically-minded considerations out to those who tend to leap on such news without being careful about it.

Equinox I / The Temple of Solomon the King / Equinox of the Gods

If one looks at Equinox I vii, one will find that in The Priest from the serialization of The Temple of Solomon the King, this verse of Crowley poetry appears with the final line, “Aum! let it kill me!”:

I am the Lord of Thebes, and I
The inspired forth-speaker of Mentu;
For me unveils the veiled sky,
The self-slain Ankh-f-n-Khonsu
Whose words are truth. I invoke, I greet
Thy presence, o Ra-Hoor-Khuit!

Unity uttermost showed!
I adore the might of Thy breath,
Supreme and terrible God,
Who makest the gods and death
To tremble before Thee: —
I, I adore thee!

Appear on the throne of Ra!
Open the ways of the Khu!
Lighten the ways of the Ka!
The ways of the Khabs run through
To stir me or still me!
Aum! let it kill me!

The Priest in The Temple of Solomon the King

This is the version which I used for the poem on the page about the Stèle of Revealing, so the version that appears there has read “kill” for some time both in print and on the site.

This final line is also in the text of the book Equinox of the Gods, largely a reprinting of the relevant parts of The Temple of Solomon the King. Previously, the version of Liber AL vel Legis that was part of the Equinox of the Gods pages on the library site was elided in favour of pointing people to other pages, but I have now restored this specific version from the old text files, so there now appears there that full version of Liber AL vel Legis using the word “kill” and I will finish formatting it soon for improved presentation.

The Holy Books of Thelema & c.

In many printed versions of The Book of the Law: Liber Al Vel Legis (such as the 2004 centennial edition, and others) and in The Holy Books of Thelema, edited by Hymenaeus Beta, published in 1983 as Equinox III ix, the text of Liber CCXX, Chapter III 37 [also] appears with the final line “Aum! let it fill me!”:

I adore thee in the song—

I am the Lord of Thebes, and I
The inspired forth-speaker of Mentu;
For me unveils the veilèd sky,
The self-slain Ankh-af-na-khonsu
Whose words are truth. I invoke, I greet
Thy presence, O Ra-Hoor-Khuit!

Unity uttermost showed!
I adore the might of Thy breath,
Supreme and terrible God,
Who makest the gods and death
To tremble before Thee:—
I, I adore thee!

Appear on the throne of Ra!
Open the ways of the Khu!
Lighten the ways of the Ka!
The ways of the Khabs run through
To stir me or still me!
Aum! let it fill me!

This is the version that has been generally, until now, preferenced at the library, for the most part. And, since it is the version that appears in the Technical Libers of Thelema directory, it has been signified as the canonical version, of the several across the site. The two primary versions of this text that appear on the site, both in the Aleister Crowley and Liber Legis sections, were proofed by me recently against the 1983 edition of The Holy Books of Thelema and thus tend to conform to that rendering. Both of these currently show “fill” for III 37.

Manuscript

In Equinox I x there were facsimile versions of the manuscript pages from which the typescripts have been produced. Of course, as instructed in the Book of the Law itself, the images of these manuscript pages should be included with any typed text. I have versions of the manuscript for Liber XXXI both with my own transcription (which I did as a personal project) and a version without transcription. Also, there is a transcription over in the Eidelons of Ash as well.

MS of Liber Legis, Chapter 3 page 10
MS of Liber Legis, Chapter 3 page 10

37 I adore thee in the song
“I am the Lord of Thebes” & c from vellum book
Unity –
— “fill me”

MS chapter 3, page 10 – AL (Liber Legis)

So, the actual manuscript of the Book of the Law does not include more than the suggestion of the first and last couple words from the section of poem intended, but rather includes it by reference from a now lost vellum notebook. However, you will note that this does mean, even if the rest of the poem isn’t, “fill me” is in the manuscript. On that same manuscript page appear both initial ‘f’ and ‘k’ glyphs to which this can be compared, if one is curious about that.

The Comment

One of the amusing twists to this is that The Comment, or the Tunis Comment, would appear to clearly warn us away, and perhaps inoculate us, from this very kind of centum-satem struggle over textual interpretation that might lead to schism or in-fighting, but what if, as in this case, the actual text to which one might appeal is itself in question?

All questions of the Law are to be decided only by appeal to my writings, each for himself.

The Comment

The Old and New Comment

No comment by Crowley really has much to say about the verse in question, and one might take a message from that, or no. The Old Comment is just a note that these lines come from the Stèle, which is perhaps important to saying that the poetry is not integral to the text of the book itself.

“36-38. Mostly translations from the stele.” [via]

The New Comment does offer at least some additional reflection and sense to the verse.

“Stanza 3 suggests the Rosicrucian Benediction:
May thy Mind be open unto the Higher!
May thy Heart be the centre of Light!
May thy Body be the Temple of the Rosy Cross!” [via]

Of the three stanzas in this verse of the book, the end of stanza 3 is exactly the place in question, so this comment is particularly relevant in offering a sense of the words; and, one can decide for themselves if the comment or the notion of a Rosicrucian Benediction suggest a sense more suited to “fill” or “kill” in the last line.

D

The Djeridensis, or D, Comment on the Book of the Law is particularly terse in relation to the third chapter:

“The first two chapters of this Book describe Ideas without limit; the third concerns a fixed Event due to one union of them, namely the coming of

HERU-RA-HA.

The contents of the chapter are instructions to those who are to govern His Aeon in His Name; and these rulers will appeal to me The Beast 666 for a comment upon the text when need is.” [via]

The suggestion here appears that the third chapter is about “union” and thus, perhaps, particularly relevant and reflective to the way that something as seemingly simple as a word change can create division and conflict.

The Translations

In addition to checking out the various Crowley comments, I had the idea to check out the translations of the Stèle to see if there was something interesting there to add. Crowley had a translation done of the Stèle and a newer, more up to date translation was done as part of The Holy Books of Thelema, Equinox III ix. Those may be interesting to take a look at, but, unfortunately, from my reading neither offer clear source for the section of Crowley’s poem in question. The section of the poem where this change occurs seems to be one derived from something other than the direct text of the Stèle itself; and thus the Stèle text does not seem to offer a clear reference tending to support one or the other word in the Crowley poem.


Unicursal My Life With The Fill Kill Kult poster

MY LIFE WITH THE FILL KILL KULT

A is Not A

One of the complications that makes this minor textual change of a single word such a potentially big deal is that the wording in question appears in relation to a “Class A” document.

As previous noted, the poetry pre-existed the reception of the Book of the Law. The poetry was only included by reference within the actual manuscript. Including the entire poem within any subsequent typescript was itself an innovation and change over the hand-written manuscript.

One document classification for Thelemic text is “Class A”, or Holy Books of Thelema, and the description of this classification should help make clear why just the idea of making a change, even without considering that the Book of the Law also contains an internal proscription against changes.

“Class “A” consists of books of which may be changed not so much as the style of a letter: that is, they represent the utterance of an Adept entirely beyond the criticism of even the Visible Head of the Organization.” — A Syllabus of the Official Instructions of the A∴A∴

Therefore, a “Class A” document is intended as inviolate and unchangeable. Typically, both Liber CCXX and Liber XXXI are classified as “Class A” documents as released by A∴A∴.

However, even if one were to take the typescript text of the Book of the Law as a “Class A” document issued under the authority of A∴A∴, like the various other cases where one class of document co-exists with others, it might be important to recognize that the poetry is not directly included in Liber Legis, except by transclusion. One might consider the poetry from the Stèle to be something other than “Class A”, and not particularly, therefore, immune to changes either by virtue of being “Class A” or even, since it was not, by direct inclusion in the Book of the Law itself self-protected from change.

The Wisdom of Robert C Stein

I’m also reminded here of Bob Stein’s presentation at NOTOCON VII, “Liber XXXI and Liber CCXX, Liber L, The Book of the Law“, which leads me to the suggestion that it is, perhaps, not even Liber CCXX which is Class A, but rather only the actual manuscript, Liber XXXI, which should be considered Class A. Thus, the poem from the Stèle is clearly excluded from protection from changes by any virtue of classification as Class A or as part of Liber Legis, since it would be neither.

Somewhat facetiously, the other day, I joked to someone that perhaps Thelemites should have Books of the Law with only the reproductions of the manuscript and not the typescript at all …

Atemporal Truth

One of the interesting tendencies that I think I’ve noticed in this recent turn of events is a kind of anachronistic memory hole where an instant event is taken to colour every other moment in time. The one thing that the news from O.T.O. suggests is that at the time of the marginal note, in what purports to be the handwriting of Crowley, there was a correction to the printed text. This, in and of itself, is a fact, not a proof. It is evidence used to derive a conclusion. The conclusion that seems to be most quickly announced is that any deviation from the handwritten correction was a typo, or mistake; whether before or after that moment in time the note was made.

I thought I’d like to see a bit of a timeline of when things where one way or the other, so I quickly sketched out for myself a list of just a couple points in time. From the evidence, here’s a few not-exhaustive points in time with corresponding statements that can be made about this particular line of text.

1904 ??? in the missing and presumed lost vellum notebook
1904 “fill” in Liber Legis MS
1909 “fill” in Thelema / The Holy Books of Thelema
aft 1909 – bef 1913 “fill” hand corrected via marginal note to “kill” in THELEMA
1912 “kill” in The Priest from The Temple of Solomon the King, Eq I vii
1936 “kill” in The Equinox of the Gods
1983 “fill” in The Holy Books of Thelema, Equinox III ix

However, during these period there are also attested contemporaneous oral teaching that has delivered the text of the poem as “fill” for over 40 years, even during periods when textual evidence might suggest otherwise.

But, it does appear that during Aleister Crowley’s lifetime the text changed at least once from “fill” to “kill” after 1909 and before 1913. It also appears that there was after his death a change from “kill” to “fill” after 1936 and before 1983.

Curiously, the person who was in charge of many of the posthumous editions of Crowley’s work during the period when this seems to have entered publication is now pointing out this change as a mistake. So, for context, this recent change may be a form of admission of a mistake, and understood as the natural and normal attempt to correct the text based on developing understanding of facts.

We have always been at war with Eastasia

What seems clear to me from the timeline is that this particular text was at no time “always” one way or the other. There are multiple points in time, some while Crowley was alive and some after his death, when this particular line changed in the published texts. To consider either “fill” or “kill” to have always been the case would be a mistake and hyperbole.

Respect Ma Authoritah!

Another complication to this particular issue is one of authority. In some ways, the long-standing question of authority within the Thelemic community, which has seemed to cool and calm a bit in the last few years, is merely exacerbated by this recent development, but changing anything about a core, one could say the core, document in a tradition is liable to irritate wounds that have not fully healed.

The issue of authority that I’ve heard might be summed up by pointing out that the Book of the Law, Liber Legis, was released under the authority of Crowley’s esoteric teaching order A∴A∴. The Outer Head of the Order, O.H.O., who is currently Frater Superior Hymenaeus Beta, is charge of O.T.O. internationally and is also the Crowley scholar who’s authored the news announcement making the discovery and apparently decision about the authoritative reading of “kill” over “fill” … only technically he’s not in charge of A∴A∴. Although, to be sure, there has been a generally close relationship between O.T.O. and the A∴A∴ as presenting itself publicly via outercol.org. However, only a little research will surface how the question of authority over A∴A∴ is in various degrees of dispute, as, historically, so too with O.T.O. itself. And, although O.T.O. was given the copyrights, that doesn’t necessarily also give the organizational authority over the spirit of them.

So, the announcement about the authoritative reading of “kill” was by someone other than in direct and clear authority over documents that were released under the auspices of A∴A∴, and exactly who could be that authority could be seen as in dispute.

Litmus Test of Loyalty

One of the most disturbing aspects of these current events, at least for me, is the degree of exuberance with which partisans on either extreme have had in their leaping to the ramparts on this issue. Unfortunately as disturbing as it may be, it is by equal measure not at all surprising.

This seems to have become a kind of loyalty test, and one where differences of opinion are taken to be failures of moral character. This leads to both direct, indirect and internalized censoring of ideas and thoughts in the community. Authoritarian control over ideas is one of the core criteria on schedules designed to identify dangerous cults, so there seems to me a slippery slope forming under some people’s feet.

And, I’ve already heard disturbing rumours of people being told by some authority, or someone purporting to represent authority, not to post or “like” certain things on social networks … I’ve personally experienced back channel harassment from certain antagonistic members who, desperate to assume some importance, take it upon themselves to represent their opinion as that of others, or of some authority, and that’s bad enough; but, it seems entirely another matter if actual authority is being used to silence people …

Reactionary Antagonists

Whether it’s reactionary haters or reactionary loyalists, there seem to be many of the same sectarian lines being drawn on this issue as there are on any issue whatsoever. The reactionary factions and sectarians can all agree to duel to the death, for all I care, and I kinda wish they would, but somewhere isolated I hope. However, there also seem to be normally reasonable people becoming upset as well, not to mention the rest caught in the middle.

One aspect of this that touches closely to home for me is that as the librarian of Hermetic Library no matter what I do about maintaining the site both extreme sides will take issue. There’s a few voices who will slag the library any chance they get, of course, and rationalize their consuming hatred in some fashion when presenting it to others in an attempt to make themselves seem reasonable; when the core of it is a pattern of abuse not directly connected to any particular issue. So, to them I really don’t need to respond nor on them do I particularly care to waste energy; because they’ll continue their pattern of behaviour no matter what.

For everyone else, my current stance is that I’ve several places where I maintain at the library versions with “kill” and several where I maintain “fill”. The documents where these appear, respectively, are those in which they appear in the timeline I previous outlined. And, to that end, one of the things I’ve done is to restore the text of Liber AL vel Legis that was part of the Equinox of the Gods pages, where it previously had not been included in favour of a link to another location on the site.

Suggestions

So, from what I’ve described it should be clear that the typescript has changed over the years, and bodies of practice have been developed around various versions, regardless of what at any one time the typescript has suggested or no. Therefore, for one’s personal practice it seems primarily a matter of choice. In the same way that there are multiple version of the Gnostic Mass, published at different times with various differences; so too is the versification of the Stèle something which has changed from time to time.

One of the main places where this versifaction is used is in the practice of Liber Resh. There are already, even without this issue, variations in the celebration of Liber Resh including which grade signs are used and in how or if one composes oneself to holy meditation; not to mention the minor variations of timing and so forth. The versioning of the Stèle versification is just one more variation among many others in the overall tradition.

Another example of a bit of poetry that is transcluded within another document is within the Gnostic Mass. The first and father Anthem for the Gnostic Mass is not only from but is modified from how it appears in the play, The Ship. Not only is this included in modified form, but is also replaceable by another anthem, if one has permission to do so, but there are already variations on the words used introduced by local bodies, based on the premise that the transcluded poetry of the Anthem is not a canonical part of the Gnostic Mass, and, therefore one will often hear some mixture of people who say “Glory and worship be to Thee” and others “Glory and worship unto Thee” in almost any celebration. Anyhow, my point is, there’s an example of differences, from the original and from versions, in a transcluded poetry coexisting in the overall tradition.

I suggest that it is both true that the “Class A” manuscript says “fill” and at the same time that the poetic rendering of the Stèle has been at various times “fill” or “kill”.

It seems to me those who take an immovable stand on the issue one way or the other are probably using this issue as an excuse for something else, as an ersatz catalyst for a conflict they were already feeling and needed some way to rationalize their expression. I mean this of both those who are reactionary naysayers as well as those who are reactionary advocates. A plague on both your houses.

One might even point out the rest of the poem from the Stèle as it appears in Chapter III Verse 37 and suggest this is an opportunity for “Unity uttermost showed!”, supported by the overall synthesis of points of view in the 3rd chapter, in the spirit of union; this is not a time to get stuck in 1st or 2nd chapter extremes, unable to grow up or out of ego and into a New Aeon.

Independence
Is still important for us though (we realise)
It’s easy to make
The stupid mistake
Of letting go (do you know what I mean)

My weaknesses
You know each and every one (it frightens me)
But I need to drink
More than you seem to think
Before I’m anyone’s
And you know

It’s a question of lust
It’s a question of trust
It’s a question of not letting
What we’ve built up
Crumble to dust
It is all of these things and more
That keep us together

— Depeche Mode