Tag Archives: fill me

The Law is for All

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, edited by Louis Wilkinson and Hymenaeus Beta, the 2002 softcover third printing of the first edition from New Falcon Publications, is part of the collection at the Reading Room.

Aleister Crowley, Louis Wilkinson and Hymenaeus Beta's The Law is for All from New Falcon Publications

It is worth noting that in this edition, on page 192, “A Paraphrase of the Inscriptions upon the Obverse of the Stèle of Revealing” has “Aum! let it fill me!”

“Aleister Crowley’s life and thought are inexorably linked with The Book of the Law (Liber AL vel Legis, sub figura CCXX). He was not the author of this short, prophetic text. He received this visionary work by direct-voice dictation from a preterhuman, possibly discarnate intelligence in Cairo in 1904.

Crowley was an intelligent sceptic, and at first found this improbable means of communication as difficult to accept as most intelligent readers will today. Yet he could not ignore it or its message, and eventually concluded that it stood as conclusive proof of the underlying assumption of all religion — that intelligences superior to mankind not only exist, but take an active role in our welfare. He found that The Book of the Law holds the keys to the Next Step in human evolution, and sets forth the spiritual principles of a New Aeon.

He worked for decades to interpret its meaning for initiates and the general public, but rejected commentary after commentary as inadequate. He eventually concluded that he was too close to his subject to judge the value of his own commentaries, and entrusted the task to his best friend, Louis Wilkinson. Wilkinson (who wrote under the pen-name Louis Marlow) possessed impressive literary qualifications and had the advantages of knowing Crowley well and being a layman in esoteric matters. The result of his work is this long-awaited authorized popular edition of Crowley’s new commentary on The Book of the Law, and its first appearance as Crowley wished it. Louis Wilkinson’s editorial work was posthumously completed and augmented by Frater Superior Hymenaeus Beta of the O.T.O. This new edition features annotations, reading lists and indexes, as well as an insightful introduction by Louis Wilkinson.”

 

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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

Kill Me!

Hermetic Library fellow Colin Campbell has a new post about the recent update from OTO Grand Lodge that includes a new development in the long-standing issue of Aleister Crowley‘s poetic rendering of the Stele of Revealing offering two versions in print, and as it appears transcluded within the Book of the Law, Liber AL vel Legis, over on his blog at “Kill Me!” And, makes note also of how this relates to The Concordance of the Holy Books of Thelema:

“For those of you kind enough to have purchased The Concordance of the Holy Books of Thelema, all of the proceeds of which go to USGL, incidentally, this means striking verse III:37 from page 248 and adding it to the bottom of 258 under “kill”. For those of you that have not yet obtained a copy, there are more available, so you should definitely purchase one and then make the correction.” [via]