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The Unknown Soror

Guest author Heather Schubert writes The Unknown Soror. This essay will also appear in an upcoming issue of Daughters of Babalon, Volume II: The Women of Babalon, an anthology of works by a broad range of modern writers and artists that captures the rich and multifaceted aspects of the feminine current of Thelema. Consider checking out that anthology, but you can read this essay here at Hermetic Library first. I’m happy that Hermetic Library can help support and encourage new work like this essay on Anne Maria Macky née Hawkins, also known as Soror Fiat Yod, or The Unknown Soror.

Schubert The Unknown Soror letters

The “Unknown Soror” refers to the woman whose tenacity and thirst for spiritual and occult knowledge eventually led to the book we now know as, Aleister Crowley’s Magick Without Tears. The idea for this publication was born when he met a bright and inquisitive young woman in 1943 and he intended to call it Aleister Explains Everything. She was clearly on the path to her own spiritual enlightenment. They began corresponding immediately and as she walked her path, she questioned him about a wide array of occult and spiritual subjects. Barely any information is given about this mysterious Aspirant beyond the fact that she was female. There is a tiny reference to her in the foreword that appeared in the first edition of the book, but even though Karl Germer goes on to confirm possession of the letters she wrote to Aleister Crowley, there is still no mention of her name. Curiosity inspired me to discover more about this fascinating woman, the “Unknown” Soror.

The completed Magick Without Tears consists of 80 letters to several different students and covers wide variety of magical topics. Initial research yielded confirmation that 50 of the 80 letters came from the “Unknown Soror”. As I continued my research the name Anne Macky appeared. The most information written about her to date is available on the Zero Equals Two website and tells of her correspondences with Aleister Crowley but nothing personal and no details on her life or who she was. I found a couple more references to Anne Macky in correlation with Magick Without Tears. One is in the biography Perdurabo by Richard Kaczynski, where she is listed simply as “an English Woman”. While researching a stack of letters for auction I discovered mention of a receipt by Weiser Antiquarian that listed her as “Anne Macky of Hertfordshire, England”.

Anne Macky was Australian. She was born Anne Maria Hawkins, on February 8, 1887 in Fitzroy Australia. Next to nothing is known of her childhood. We do know that she was very fond of her maternal second cousin Walter James Turner. He was a poet, writer and musician who believed that art had the potential to elevate the soul and to perceive something of one’s true spirituality. These beliefs made a strong impression on young Anne during her formative years. She clearly believed art and music to be a “revelation to transcend the limitations of material reality”, as he so often claimed. The influence of these ideas can be seen throughout Anne’s lifetime, especially within her musical compositions. In the following quote we can begin to see how her perception of art and beauty was ahead of her time and also spiritual in nature.

“By learning to love what the pioneers of Art have done, one attains a deeper sense of Beauty, and one’s standard of what is really beautiful advances.”

In 1901 Anne Hawkins matriculated at the age of 14, which was largely unheard of for women during her time. She received the Senior Certificate of the Royal Academy of Music, London. After studying pianoforte with Eduard Scharf and harmony with W. Coutts at the Albert Street Conservatorium. She became a music teacher.

Records show that from 1903 to 1904 she taught lessons at Miss Cathcart’s High School at Williamstown; Camperdown College in Ballarat from 1904–1905; Miss Gregory’s School in Manning Road, East Malvern in 1906; and Brighton High School from 1906–1908. Anne was registered as a preschool, primary and secondary teacher who was proficient in each of the subjects she taught including, but not limited to, Latin, Math, English, French, History, Algebra, Psychology, Botany and Music.

In early 1908 she married Emile Meyrat. We know the marriage lasted only a few months partly because in June of 1908 she wrote the following in an application for re-instatement of employment as a teacher:

“Herr Scharf considered me one of his best pupils… I would not write so, but that my means of livelihood depend on my teaching which I have been working at these last five years, and which will in the future be of still greater importance to me.”

In 1916 she married Dr. Stewart Macky, a New Zealander. They both had a mutual understanding of the significance the arts have on social renewal and a shared interest in anthroposophy.

In 1917, with the financial help of a family inheritance, she opened The People’s Conservatorium. She wanted to bring a higher standard of learning to everyone with a talent for the arts. She believed that just as studying other subjects made one more proficient at them, so too could this model be used for the arts. Enrollment fees were kept low and the Conservatorium offered several scholarships for those who could not afford to attend. These policies stayed in place throughout the 1920’s and the beginning of the Great Depression. It was truly a conservatorium for the people.

While she made it easy for anyone with a talent for music to attend, her standards for running the school were high and the teachers at her conservatorium were of the highest caliber. Women during this era didn’t usually do things of this magnitude. She was quite the pioneer in her time and her achievements were often reported in the local newspapers.

Anne Macky traveled to London in 1922 to attend a Conference at Oxford College where she heard Rudolf Steiner speak. His teachings in anthroposophy were in line with the values and ideas Macky held from an early age. Rudolf Steiner’s talk made such an impression on her that she went on to establish regular Anthroposophy meetings in Melbourne from 1928 to 1932. Around this same time she co-founded the Michael Group, a branch of the Anthroposophical Society in Melbourne Australia.

The Mackys emigrated to England in 1932, and Violet Somerset and Winifred Lloyd took over her Conservatorium, which had been renamed the New Conservatorium in 1923. Muriel Campbell wrote of Anne Macky in the 1934 Centenary Gift Book:

“The only Conservatorium of Music in Australia to be founded and directed by a woman is that established by Mrs. Anne Macky at Melbourne in 1917. Her enterprise and public spirit must receive our admiration, and although she is now living in England The New Conservatorium proceeds on its original lines, under the guidance of women musicians.”

Once in London the Mackys quickly became involved with several artistic and eclectic groups. She, of course, joined the Society of Women Musicians. Her cousin, W.J. Turner, introduced the Mackys to many artists, composers, and writers that included James Stephens, the pianist Schnabel, a Russian immigrant well known in literary circles named Koteliansky, G.P. Wells, the son of H. G. Wells, painter Mark Gertler, and writer Edward Bryant.

Having heard of his expertise in occult knowledge Anne Macky wanted to meet Aleister Crowley. She arranged for Edward Bryant to make the introduction. On March 12, 1943 he took Anne Macky out to lunch at Hatchett’s restaurant and introduced her to Aleister Crowley. Aleister Crowley noted this meeting in his journals and remarked that Anne Macky was “not so bad”.

Anne Macky was intrigued by Aleister Crowley, and she visited him on her own the very next day. Crowley writes that they had a long talk, after which he nearly threw her out. Evidence suggests that they remained in contact and on April 16th Crowley received an eight-page letter from Anne Macky. He, in turn, wrote her an eight-page response and thus began their correspondences that would eventually evolve into the work we know as Magick Without Tears.

Thirty letters between Aleister Crowley and Anne Macky were set up for auction. In one of those letters Crowley said to Anne Macky “…I find a whole lot of thoughts in your mind which were not explicitly stated in so many words, and all the deeper and more important for that. I really do have to thank you most heartily – you have given me such a shaking up…”

Perhaps it was her tendency for shaking him up that encouraged him to remain in contact with her after stating that he almost threw her out after her first visit. Crowley valued intelligent, determined individuals who weren’t afraid to be blunt. Anne Macky more than met that criteria and he obviously liked her. He had a way of poking fun at people that was sometimes even rude. At one point in his journal he calls her a “Poor old wallaby”, a rather delicate jab that also speaks to her country of origin, Australia.

According to the journals of Anne Macky she moved around a lot, as most families in England did during World War II. They were attempting to seek refuge from the bombing raids. Her journals tell us that she was in Kings Langley in 1943. Her piano pieces appeared on the program from performances at Orchard Finishing School in Kings Langley on January 16, 1943.

One of the letters Aleister Crowley exchanged with Anne Macky has her Kings Langley address on the envelope and it is postmarked 1943. Kings Langley is just down the road from Leverstock Green. Pancake School was the local school in Leverstock Green. Anyone involved in the school might receive their mail at Pancake House, at Leverstock Green. Another one of Crowley’s correspondences with Anne Macky has the Pancake House at Leverstock Green address.

I spoke with a British Historian who has archived many years of history revolving around the Leverstock Green estate and she confirmed what the envelopes show, that Mrs. Anne Macky, Australian teacher, musician, composer, and entrepreneur lived at Leverstock Green in 1944.

In late June of 1943, Anne Macky’s correspondence with Aleister Crowley shows they discussed magick and a certain Rite. From the information in his journals we can say she was undoubtedly a member of the A∴A∴ and was interested in joining the O.T.O. He sent her O.T.O. contact information for people who would initiate her into the order. She inquired further requesting more personal information about these members and he responded by telling her that the Path is an individual one, that the O.T.O. was not a social organization.

“I am arranging to send you the official papers connected to the O.T.O. but the idea that you should meet other members first is quite impossible. Even after affiliation, you would not meet anyone unless it were necessary for you to work in cooperation with them. I am afraid you have still got the idea that the Great Work is a tea-party. Contact with other students only means that you criticize their hats, and then their morals; and I am not going to encourage this. Your work is not anybody else’s; and undirected chatter is the worst poisonous element in a humane society”-Aleister Crowley, Magick Without Tears

He goes on to explain to her that the etiquette of secret orders is such that members should not reveal the names of other members, unless they are dead. Yet, he went on to confirm Steiner’s involvement in the same paragraph, though he still lived at that time.

It seems her desire for companionship during her travels on the path as an aspirant concerned Aleister Crowley throughout their communications. After she visited Crowley again on June 10th, he wrote:

“Mrs. Macky here. Difficult to follow her suspicious mind; she craves company on a path solitary in essence! Born of twins? Even if she were, she will have to die alone!”

Even though they had only met in early 1943, by August of that year we find him pondering her magical motto when in his journal he records, “Mrs Macky ‘I would be one with the creative force of the Universe’. PURAMIS GEN (?) OINI (?) 831.”

On August 17th she informed him in a letter that her motto was in fact Fiat and the letter four, which is Yod, producing Soror “Fiat Yod”, (811+20=831). It’s interesting that the motto he came up with for her and the one she discovered on her own have the exact same numeration. Crowley accepted Fiat Yod as her motto and she is often referenced by a simple “FY” in his journals from that point on.

Aleister Crowley corresponded with many aspirants via hand written letters, as was common in his day. Magick Without Tears was created from the content of his correspondences. It is commonly understood that they were all written to Jane Wolfe – and maybe a few of them were (perhaps, most notably, the letter on Authority). Even though little to no credit is given to Anne Macky, most of Magick Without Tears was born from Crowley’s correspondences with her.

In his journals Crowley states that he struck a bargain with Anne Macky. He paid her the sum of 20 pounds on October 26, 1943. She was to write 50 letters with questions for him to answer and they would eventually be put into a book, Magick Without Tears. She accepted, and by November 10th of that same year he was working on responding to her eighth letter.

At times they argued over the content of the letters and money. Eventually she also requested a copy of the completed book as payment. By November 16th he began referring to Anne as “Mrs Mother Murrmbidgee”. Yet she visited him in person again just two days later and she brought with her a “lovely spray of orchids, white, yellow and purple” and he made comments about the “8 and 90 rules of art”.

Some of the letters she wrote to him were quite involved and over a dozen pages long. On December 16, 1943 as he finished responding to letter number 12 he commented that “It’d be easier if she wrote; ‘What do you think of a) everything and b) nothing? I could answer a) nothing and b) nothing’.”

In a journal entry from January 3rd, he writes about creating a “Rabelaisian List of Adjectives for Steiner and Co.” intended for Anne Macky.

On Jan 6, 1944, Aleister Crowley remarks that he received 26.5 pounds from Anne Macy as well as Chpt XIII to XXV. She missed a meeting with him on January 12th and did not call to say why. He remarks in his journal that he couldn’t reach her over the phone on Jan 13th and he eventually wrote to her at Pancake School in Leverstock Green on January 16th.

Evidence shows that by January 28, 1944 their correspondences were back on track. Crowley notes receiving a charming letter from her at that time. They were supposed to meet on February second, but Anne called it off due to her husband being ill and collapsing.

On February 16th she wrote what Crowley referred to as “Anti-Crowley–grouse” before informing him on March 10th that she was breaking the contract they had between them. On April 3rd the two had a long talk about magick and other things and by April 16th she had resumed writing the letters.

It’s clear that she was often cross with him, but their friendship and correspondences for his book continued. She phoned him on July 11, 1944 and went to lunch with him the next day, which he regarded as a “very bright and pleasant” experience. The last documented correspondence from Anne to Crowley came later that year in August.

Anne Macky returned to Australia in 1946 where she continued teaching and composed numerous works that were regularly performed in Melbourne and occasionally broadcast over the radio. She died in 1964 at the age of 77.

It is my hypothesis that Anne Maria Hawkins is the same Anne Macky who corresponded with Aleister Crowley and who is also known as Soror Fiat Yod, based on this convincing evidence:

I have confirmed, via her personal journals, that Anne Maria Macky (maiden name Hawkins) lived at the Kings Langley address at the same date in which the envelope from Aleister Crowley addressed to “Anne Macky” was postmarked and sent to the exact same address.

There is further proof that suggests she lived at the Pancake House address at the exact date in which the envelope, addressed to Anne Macky from Aleister Crowley was postmarked for that address as well.

British Historian Barbara Chapman confirmed her residence at the Leverstock Green address and sent me some information on the letters that were auctioned off to the O.T.O.

“The good news is yes, it is definitely the same woman. Doing a search of items I hold I came up with this:

1943/44 – Phillips auctioneers catalogue extracts concerning a collection of about 30 letters and other documents to/from Aleister Crowley and Mrs Ann Macky of Pancake Leverstock Green. 3 pages including photograph.’”

Karl Germer mentions he met the Unknown Soror in 1943, the same year Aleister Crowley began corresponding with her.

Letters E & F from Magick Without Tears and journal entries identify Anne Macky as Soror Fiat Yod.

Letter H has this footnote “A letter dated Oct 12, 1943 constitutes letter 48”. In his journal he records receiving a letter from Anne Macky on this same date. This footnote points to the inclusion of Macky’s letters throughout Magick Without Tears as we know from Crowley’s journals that on August 23, 1943 Anne Macky accepted a contract to write 50 letters.

Her name is not given in the published work, nor is the proper order of the letters given, nor which letters went to whom. However, upon reviewing both Aleister Crowley’s journals and the journals of Anne Maria Macky it becomes clear that the majority of the material for Magick Without Tears came from the many correspondences between the two of them.

My search continues for more information on this talented woman, who played a significant part in the history of Thelema and led quite a fascinating life. One thing is certain, it is safe to say that the “Unknown Soror” mentioned by Karl Germer in his introduction to Magick Without Tears, undoubtedly now has a name, and she is Anne Macky, Soror Fiat Yod.

Schubert The Unknown Soror letters 2

Schubert The Unknown Soror letters 3

References

  • Soror Fiat Yod/Anne Macky
  • Anne Maria Hawkins file from the Victorian Department of Education 1906-1931
  • Anne Macky’s Scrapbook, Grainger Museum
  • The Anne Macky Papers, Grainger Museum
  • Anne Macky: Pianist, Educator and Composer (Melbourne: Mark Neill, 1966)
  • Australian Musical News, January 1924, August 1925, March 1931 and July 1944
  • Music and the Teacher, The Victorian Music Teachers Association, Melbourne 1982
  • The minutes from the Anthroposophical Society of Great Britain, February 2, 1922
  • Manchester College at Oxford Minutes, dated the twentieth of March 1922
  • Anne Macky, To The Temple of the Mind, cited in Henk Bak., Anne Macky, 20
  • Henk Bak. Ed., Anne Macky; Piantist, Educator and Composer (Melbourne Mark Neil 1966)
  • Anne Macky; A Radical in Her Time, Betty O’Brien
  • Barbara Chapman lghistorian@btinternet.com for Leverstock Green’s history view www.lgchronicle.net
  • Zero Equals Two articles, Frater Orpheus
  • Magick Without Tears, Aleister Crowley
  • Journals of Aleister Crowley on microfilm of the Yorke Collection at the Warburg Institute

Heather Schubert is a practicing Thelemite, ordained Priestess in Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica, writer, poet, visual artist, teacher, and mother of four children.

Heather is the editor of Daughters of Babalon, an anthology of works by a broad range of modern writers and artists that captures the rich and multifaceted aspects of the feminine current of Thelema. She runs The Light Is One Clerk House of the A∴A∴. Her multimedia artwork at Little Beastlings specializes in Thelemic toys and learning materials for children as well as creepy Gothic creations.

This guest post was brought to you by the generous supporters of the library, including each ongoing Patron of Hermetic Library on Patreon.

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The Law Is for All

Randall Bowyer reviews The Law Is for All: The Authorized Popular Commentary of Liber Al Vel Legis Sub Figura CCXX, The Book of the Law by Aleister Crowley in the Occult Book Reviews archive.

Crowley The Law is for All

Back in the 1970s, everybody and his dog decided to publish Crowley’s commentary on Liber AL: Grant & Symonds did Magical and Philosophical Commentaries on the Book of the Law in ’74, then Regardie produced The Law is for All in ’75, and Motta joined the fray with The Commentaries of AL in ’76. All these books are abridgements of Crowley’s voluminous commentaries, and all differ according to the views of the editors.

Twenty years later, Hymenaeus Beta has given us the abridged commentary which Crowley himself intended to publish. Intended for the layman, this “Authorized Popular Commentary” brushes aside Qabalistic complexities and metaphysical fuzz to focus on the central message of The Book of the Law – just the thing to give your favorite Minerval!

The one thing I really dislike about the book is that it uses Regardie’s title from 1975, The Law is for All, instead of the straightforward Commentary on the Book of the Law which Crowley intended. Of course, Crowley bibliography has never been a simple matter, so I suppose the existence of two distinct books on the same subject, with the same author, same title, and same publisher, will only confuse a few tyros.

The symbolic syncretism of the Golden Dawn a century ago, which fused renaissance Hermeticism with oriental esoterics drawn from the European imperial experience, only fully flowered when Aleister Crowley added a battery of gnostic power techniques culled from diverse cultural sources.

Phil Hine, Condensed Chaos: An Introduction to Chaos Magic

Hermetic quote Hine Condensed sources

The World’s Tragedy

Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews The World’s Tragedy by Aleister Crowley. This book can also be found at the library at The World’s Tragedy.

Crowley The World's Tragedy

Why did Aleister Crowley hate Christianity so much? You would too, if you were “Alec.” The long autobiographical preface to The World’s Tragedy makes his personal motivation abundantly clear. The main text of the book is a play in verse, re-writing the entire Gospel myth to subordinate it to the worldview of Crowley’s “Pagan rapture,” and soundly trashing all of the fondest and most revered of Christian imaginings. 

A prologue in “The Garden of Eros” translates the Christian Trinity into a not-even-demiurgic threesome of schemers in an antelapsarian Arcadia. The first act is “The Red Star,” in which an act of child sacrifice (what else?) inaugurates the drama, and the spiritual life of humanity turns toward the darkness of Christianity. In “The White Wind,” the annunciation is supplanted with a depiction of the rape of the Virgin Mary by a Roman centurion (an allegation advanced in antiquity by both critics and believers of Christianity). “The Blue Dwarf” is the act that presents the nativity of Jesus, who comes forth as a bottle-bound genie, under the sage appraisals of the magi. The fourth act is “The Black Bean,” showing unpleasant domestic relations among Jesus and two “beloved disciples” (John and Magda). The final section crucifies Jesus in the “thick darkness of the Emptiness of Things,” and heralds the act as the beginning of the end of classical virtue, descending into “The Grey Night” of Christianity.

The second printing of the New Falcon Press edition includes two additional pieces of font matter. An introduction by Israel Regardie describes his own personal relationship to the text, as well as vouching for its literary quality and keen sense of humor. The foreword by Hyatt and DuQuette places the 1991 republication of the book in the context of aggressive political reaction on the part of fundamentalist Christians in the USA. The two also mention that the play had at that time never been staged.

I have talked with Thelemites from time to time who think it would be rewarding to publicly stage this often hilarious and unquestionably blasphemous work. In truth, it would not be worth the bother to amass the necessary resources for a full and polished production. The play is almost entirely destructive and anti-Christian: its final message of messianism for a new Aeon is too cryptic to communicate effectively to profane audiences. On the other hand, individual acts can make excellent reader’s theater for consumption among the cognoscenti. They can even be timed to the liturgical calendar: I have enjoyed seeing “The Blue Dwarf” put on as the Worst Xmas Pageant Ever. [via]

The Goetia

Randall Bowyer reviews The Goetia: The Lesser Key of Solomon the King: Lemegeton – Clavicula Salomonis Regis, Book 1, translated by Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers, edited by Aleister Crowley and Hymenaeus Beta, from the Bkwyrm archive.

Reviewed: the illustrated second edition with new annotations by Aleister Crowley, edited by Hymenaeus Beta.

First of all, I must reassure you that the illustrations are not those D&D-style drawings that mar the New Falcon edition of the Goetia, but rather the adorable little engravings by Louis Breton that you’ve seen in all those coffee-table books; they are supplemented by a few of Crowley’s crude sketches, which have the advantage of having been drawn from life. The new edition irons out some errors which were present in the first edition, greatly increases the usefulness of the Enochian conjurations, and generally makes the book more convenient for reference; it even fixes the pile of mistakes in the Greek text of 365 from the 1994 edition of Magick. It is not, however, without its flaws. First, the book is printed on cheap, see-through paper. Second, the new edition introduces more than fifty new errors. Most of these occur in the Editor’s Foreword, and most are very minor problems like the incorrect accenting of several Greek words; others, though, are more substantive errors of fact. For all these blunders we can thank the Tepaphone’s own “R. B.,” who had a hand in the translating and proofreading work for this new edition. Despite his arrogance and the occasional shallowness of his research, I really expected more of this intelligent amateur. R. B. tells me that a corrected reprint on real paper is already in the works, and will appear under the imprint of 93 Publishing: perhaps serious students should wait for this improved version. Meanwhile, the new edition is still better than the first edition.

You can find this book at Amazon, Abebooks, and Powell’s.

Man has the right to live by his own law—
to live in the way that he wills to do:
to work as he will:
to play as he will:
to rest as he will:
to die when and how he will.

Aleister Crowley, Liber OZ

Hermetic quote Liber OZ live as he will

Man has the right …
to dwell where he will:
to move as he will on the face of the earth.

Aleister Crowley, Liber OZ

Hermetic quote Liber OZ move as he will