Tag Archives: gnostic mass

Rites of Public Celebration

Hermetic Library fellow T Polyphilus reviews Rites of Public Celebration [deluxe edition], edited by Mesniu, from Behutet Publishing.

Fr. Mesniu is to be applauded for his work in assembling this convenient and attractive collection of liturgical materials for the use of Gnostic Catholic clergy in the United States. The physical design and composition of the book are admirable, and his editorial introduction is clear and to the point. The title is Rites of Public Celebration, and yet the final text included, a “Last Rites” ceremony composed by Helena and Sabazius, is not one that would be conducted publicly in the vast majority of cases. Still, it completes the set of current “official” liturgical texts (i.e. those approved by the Patriarch and Primate for standard use), excepting only the ceremonies of priestly ordination (useful only to bishops) and consecration to the episcopate (private and officially secret).

The purpose of this book is to serve for study and aide memoire. It will suitably adorn any Gnostic Catholic Church sanctuary. With respect to Liber XV (the rule of the Mass), it should be noted that this edition is not “authorized,” and cannot settle disputes regarding the genuine text or instructions. I must admit that I am myself referenced as an authority in this book, but without any self-interest I encourage all EGC clergy to acquire it, both for its basic usefulness (and attractiveness), and because proceeds from the sale of the book benefit the operation of the Church.

At the same time, there are any number of small criticisms that occur to me. Fr. Mesniu disavows any attempt to interpret Liber XV in the document at hand, and yet there are several points where he tacitly does so. He has not noted any of the instances where there are variations among authorized editions, and in some cases he has muddied the water by dropping brackets that served to distinguish interpolated direction from Sabazius and Helena in their annotated version of Liber XV. (For example, “The PRIEST [hands the lance to the Priestess,] genuflects…” etc. on page 40.) As Sabazius and Helena note, “These bracketed [ ] stage directions are added for clarity. They reflect our experience and opinions, and do not represent definitive standards.”

The various art images and illustrative photos throughout the book are all attractive and well-presented, but there is at least one with debatable implications regarding ritual performance. The photo at the top of page 13, captioned “Raising the Lance,” actually shows the lance in a lowered position. Moreover, the manner in which it is lowered in that picture, while not uncommon, contradicts the practice described by Sabazius and Helena thus: “According to Agapé Lodge tradition, the Priest holds the Lance vertically upright before him with both hands, the butt end of the Lance on the floor, during the entire time the Priestess runs her hands up and down its shaft.”

Finally, while the verbal content of the texts seems to have been reviewed with care, and despite the overall beauty of the book, the typography fails to excel. The generous font size is suited to the book’s purpose, but the Times-style face betrays too obviously the cut-and-paste incorporations of the source texts, through such stigmata as the inconsistent appearance of straight and curly quote marks and double hyphens for dashes. Italics are used for rubrics in the supplementary rituals, but not in Liber XV.

As the reader can infer from the trivial nature of my objections, this book, while imperfect, is very good, and in fact the best yet of its kind. [via]

ARARITA’s First Gnostic Mass Temple

You may be interested in this crowdfunding effort to help build a mass temple for ARARITA, a local body of Ordo Templi Orientis in the Valley of San Diego.

“Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law!

The officers of ARARITA Encampment are proud to announce that, after one year of operating as a chartered body of O.T.O., we are nearing completion of our Mass temple. Our first Mass has been scheduled for September 21, 2014 and will be the first official Mass in San Diego in well over a decade.

Despite this exciting news, there is still some work to be done to get our temple ready for its grand opening. To this end, we are asking our Brothers and Sisters, guests, and friends for assistance in raising the funds necessary to obtain the rest of the necessary Mass equipment.

We need another $500 to obtain a Stele, enough chairs for our guests, and to put the finishing touches on the rest of our equipment.

Donate today to help us make this historic event a reality!

Love is the law, love under will.”

Omnium Gatherum: June 25th, 2014

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for June 25th, 2014

Eddy Stevens' Magical Paintings
Eddy Stevens’ Magical Paintings Capture The Bond Between Woman And Horse — Ellyn Ruddick-Sunstein, Beautiful/Decay

 

  • UNEARTHED IN PARIS: The Tomb of Golden Dawn Founder S.L. MacGregor Mathers — David Griffin, Golden Dawn Blog [HT Spiral Nature]

    Considering the importance of the Vault of the Adepti to the Golden Dawn and of the Tomb of the Founder, Christian Rosenkreutz, to the entire Rosicrucian movement, the discovery of the tomb of the Golden Dawn’s Rosicrucian founder, S.L. MacGregor Mathers (nearly 120 years after his death), is an event of unparalleled Rosicrucian and magickal importance.

    MacGregor Mathers tomb in Paris 2014

     

  • The Necklace of Power — Nicholaj de Mattos Frisvold, The Starry Cave

    Sacred necklaces, guias or elekes are a form of talismans with a rich and long history both as sacred decoration, as an extension of the witches ladder or cord and in the form of prayer beads, they be the Hindu mala or the Catholic rosary to Freya’s brisingamen. In Lucumi a set of elekes are given to mark the first step towards initiation where the candidate binds himself to the godparents responsible for giving the elekes.

  • 12 Undeniable Signs That The Illuminati Is EVERYWHERE — Julia Edelman, CollegeHumor [HT disinformation]

    No one is safe, but especially you (I don’t know why, you just seem sort of fragile and susceptible to accidents). At any rate, the Illuminati grows stronger every day, and it is only a matter of time before they control every aspect of your life — no detail too small. It would be too dangerous to overlook the evidence. Let this carefully curated list of Illuminati hotspots guide you, strike fear into your heart, and who knows, maybe even protect you. Godspeed.

  • Tim Lambesis quoted at Christian Heavy Metal Band Frontman Admits He’s Actually an Atheist — Kyle Chayka, Time [HT disinformation]

    In the process of trying to defend my faith, I started thinking the other point of view was the stronger one.

    In 12 years of touring with As I Lay Dying, I would say maybe one in 10 Christian bands we toured with were actually Christian bands.

  • A Reader Writes of his Experience Among the Dark Enlightenment Types — Mark Shea, Catholic and Enjoying It! [HT disinformation]

    The thing about nascent movements like this is that it’s hard to know when to pay attention and when to ignore them. If you ignore them they can grow in the dark, like mushrooms on dung. If you make too much fuss, you can attract idiots–particularly extremist idiots–who automatically assume that anything normal people find objectionable must be awesome, radical, and “not PC” and therefore good.

  • Dan Harms has been posting a series about “Charm Stick” objects at Charm Sticks and Charm Wands: A Little-Noted Item of Folklore, More on Charm Sticks and Charm Wands and Charm Wands and Charm Sticks: The Final Chapter? over on Papers Falling from an Attic Window.

    According to Hughes, these curious shepherd’s crooks first appeared in the 1770s as part of a fashion fad, possibly inspired by ceremonial maces. They saw a resurgence in the 1820s, and they continued to be known throughout the nineteenth century. The first clue that we have as to their use as “charm sticks” is in Soames’ Curiosities of Literature, from 1847, dealing with superstitious practices in Devon.

    At this point, it seems that the glass rods were originally created as fashion accessories, which later became associated with disease and good luck, and later became explicitly connected with spirits.

  • Five False Rumors About Aleister Crowley — Brandy Williams, Star and Snake

    His behavior is minutely chronicled by his biographers; whatever we think of him, we should at least get the facts of his life straight.

  • Nathan Kesling, tweet

    Solomon spearing a prostrate female demon

     

  • Sarah Veale, tweet

     

  • Older Than the Rolling Stones — Douglas Quenqua, The New York Times [HT disinformation]

    Could it be that Stonehenge was actually a prehistoric glockenspiel?

    “Everybody’s been running a silent movie of prehistory for so long,” [Paul Devereux] said. “We’re only just now trying to recover the soundtrack.”

  • An Occult History of the Television Set — Geoff Manaugh, BLDGBLOG [HT Spiral Nature]; about Stefan Andriopoulos’ Ghostly Apparitions: German Idealism, the Gothic Novel, and Optical Media

    The origin of the television set was heavily shrouded in both spiritualism and the occult, Stefan Andriopoulos writes in his new book Ghostly Apparitions. In fact, as its very name implies, the television was first conceived as a technical device for seeing at a distance: like the telephone (speaking at a distance) and telescope (viewing at a distance), the television was intended as an almost magical box through which we could watch distant events unfold, a kind of technological crystal ball.

    Andriopoulos’s book puts the TV into a long line of other “optical media” that go back at least as far as popular Renaissance experiments involving technologically-induced illusions, such as concave mirrors, magic lanterns, disorienting walls of smoke, and other “ghostly apparitions” and “phantasmagoric projections” created by specialty devices. These were conjuring tricks, sure—mere public spectacles, so to speak—but successfully achieving them required sophisticated understandings of basic physical factors such as light, shadow, and acoustics, making an audience see—and, most importantly, believe in—the illusion.

  • A Journey To Avebury: Stewart Lee Interviews Julian Cope — Stewart Lee, The Quietus

    [Julian] Cope’s sentence structures collapse into rhythmic repetition and editorially suspect sub-clause clusters, three at one point all ending in the same three words, and all heroically deliberate. One section attempts to convey a character’s drugged confusion by repeating variations on the same three letters for five pages. The fool persists in his folly. He becomes wise. Likewise the eighty minute drones of cope’s Queen Elizabeth records were a conscious choice. “Yes,” he agrees, “I didn’t just stumble across a sound and then forget to turn it off. And I worked really hard on the cadences of the book, on the rhythms. That’s the musician part of me. People will get it who wish to get it but I don’t want to turn on tossers.”

    “It’s like Christianity,” Cope says, brilliantly comparing his fiction debut with a major world religion of some 2000 years standing, “If you’re going to stand on street corners shouting you’re only going to pick up people who are utterly lost. I don’t want people attaching themselves to me who are lost. I want them to already be in some way on a trip. It’s demanding but great art is demanding. I really wanted to write something that people could complete themselves.”

  • There Are No ‘Sheeple’ — Marcel Voltlucka [HT disinformation]

    Just remember that you were likely a “sheep” once too.

    Alas, this sort of insular arrogance is not only more prevalent than we’d like to admit, it’s our own worst enemy. The idea of stupid, hopeless “sheeple” evokes the contempt that a hardcore Statist has for human ability, reason, freedom, and – for lack of a better word – spirit.

  • The occult conspiracy hidden in the new emoji — Jess Zimmerman, The Daily Dot

    In short, the bell, book, and candle are used to damn people to hell. And sure, they’re all objects, but they’re not the same kind of objects! What are they doing together? What’s going on?

  • Four Imperatives — Michael Gilleland, Laudator Temporis Acti

    Drink, eat, have fun, make love.

  • A Third Century A.D. Inscription from Eumeneia — Michael Gilleland, Laudator Temporis Acti

    I did not have much wealth or much property for my livelihood, but I worked hard and gained a modicum of learning. This enabled me to assist my friends, as far as I was able, freely putting the ability I had at the disposal of all. Helping anyone who was in need was a joy to me, as, in the case of other people, prosperity brings joy to the heart. Let no one deluded in his wealth harbour proud thoughts, for there is one Hades and an equal end for all. Is someone great in possessions? He receives no more, (but) the same measure of earth for a tomb. Hasten, mortals, gladden your souls at all times as (allegedly) a pleasant way of life is also the measure of existence. So, friends. After this, no more of this—for what more is there?

  • Let’s Agree to Disagree, Part II — Michael Gilleland, Laudator Temporis Acti

    Many men tend to contradict on every point,
    but contradicting rightly’s out of vogue.
    Well, as for them there’s one old saw that’s all we need:
    ‘you can keep your opinion, I’ll keep mine.’
    But the intelligent are soon persuadable
    by reason, and they’re easiest to teach.

  • Why I left the OTO — Psyche, Spiral Nature

    It’s no secret that in the Gnostic Mass, this central rite, involves a (fully dressed) priest, a (usually naked) woman on the altar, a simulation of hetero sex initiated by the priest, and a simulation of fellatio performed by the priestess. There’s a lot more involved — more people, more symbolism, magick words, all that great stuff — but these two roles are fixed. A woman may never serve as the priest, and a man may never lay upon the altar. When I asked about that, the instructor burst out laughing, “What, with some dude’s dong on the altar?” He was amused and horrified in equal parts.

    I should stress that I don’t hold this lodge at fault, nor, necessarily, its members. They’re passing along the tradition as it’s given to them. Ok, they weren’t challenging it — true — but they didn’t invent it. They made it clear that any deviations in the performance of the Gnostic Mass meant it was no longer an OTO rite. This was it. I could learn to accept it, or leave.

  • Warburg Institute: library saved from Nazis awaits its fate: Collection could be broken up in legal action over 1944 deed of trust — Jack Grove, Times Higher Education

    Four years after Warburg’s death, the collection of about 80,000 books, many rare Renaissance volumes, was moved to London as Nazism took hold in 1930s Germany. However, the University of London is now seeking to challenge the status of the deed of trust it signed in 1944 when accepting the collection.

    That document promised to maintain and preserve the collection “in perpetuity” as “an independent unit” – a pledge that now appears onerous as the Warburg runs a reported £500,000 annual deficit.

    Professor Grafton meanwhile raised concerns over the future of the “highly skilled librarians” at the Warburg, which also has a small number of academic staff who supervise arts and humanities graduate students each year.

    Further, there is speculation that a court defeat would mean that the collection would return to Hamburg where much of the Warburg family is still based. The US-based branch of the Warburg family are also known to have taken a keen interest in the case.

  • #HowILibrary

    ALA How do you library? 2014

     

 

If you’d like to participate in the next Omnium Gatherum, head on over to the Gatherum discussions at the Hrmtc Underground BBS.

Occult Conference in Glastonbury, UK on Mar 22nd, 2014

Occult Conference 2014 will be held in Glastonbury, UK on March 22nd, 2014, with tickets available online through March 16th. This event will have vendors, workshops, lectures, a Gnostic Mass ritual, keynote, an evening ball, and more.

“The new and re-imagined Occult Conference will be investigating five Initiatory Traditions within British Occultism:
· Alexandrian Wicca
· Dion Fortune Western Mystery Schools
· Illuminates of Thanateros
· Order of Bards, Ovates & Druids
· Ordo Templi Orientis

We have brought together fantastic representatives of these Traditions, and will be offering lectures and workshops to allow attendees a glimpse behind the curtains, and to gain hands-on experience of the praxis within.

After a packed day, we will be converting the venue into a Temple for a very special celebration of Liber XV: The Gnostic Mass by Ordained Officers of Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica, under the auspices of O.T.O. All will be welcome to celebrate the Divine in Humanity, and the Generative and Creative forces of Nature.

The Jupiterian Ball will round off the evening with aplomb: Dance and enjoy cocktails to music from Swing to Rockabilly, decked out in your finest evening-wear or vintage dress. Separate tickets for partners or friends will be available for this section.

We will also be hosting Peter J. Carroll and Matt Kabryn as they launch EPOCH: The Esotericon and Portals of Chaos! Make sure to attend for an exclusive chance to buy signed first editions, and discuss this work with the authors themselves.”

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

Dangerous Minds punks out before attending Aleister Crowley’s Gnostic Mass

Dangerous Minds correspondent Thomas McGrath totally punks out before attending Aleister Crowley‘s Gnostic Mass in the UK, and actually writes about it at the inaccurately and click-bait titled “‘DO NOT EAT THE CAKE OF LIGHT!’ Dangerous Minds attends Aleister Crowley’s Gnostic Mass“.

Dangerous Minds Gnostic Mass

The article is barely worth mentioning, but it’s an interesting example of how newbies perceive things and apparently freak themselves out (or are freaked out by ill-informed friends) around attending such things. Frankly, that kind of self-induced frission is nothing compared to the funky mind games one can play with themself before an initiation (“OMG, what did they put in this WATER they offered while I wait my turn?!?!” or “I hope the GOAT is GENTLE this time!!!”), but this was an example of someone who might have stayed for a much fuller and richer experience of, you know, actually attending the Gnostic Mass ritual if they had been allowed the opportunity to pass the first time they attended, which some local bodies do offer.* However, on the other hand, in spite of the author of the article, I think the amiable and welcoming as well as both funny and serious nature of most actual Thelemites I’ve known comes through a bit as an example for those able to get over themselves long enough to join in.

 

* The point about being expected to partake is actually one of those issues. The text of Liber XV, the Gnostic Mass, itself says, “Those of the PEOPLE who intend to communicate, and none other should be present, having signified their intention, a whole Cake of Light, and a whole goblet of wine, have been prepared for each one.” And, so … but self-care and self-determination, tho.

To Perfect This Feast

To Perfect This Feast: A Performance Commentary on The Gnostic Mass by James and Nancy Wasserman will be available in October, 2013, in a further revised third, and they say final, edition.

James and Nancy Wasserman's To Perfect This Feast 3rd edition

“The Gnostic Mass is a hymn to the wedding of scientific truth and religious aspiration. It offers a truly modern spirituality. The celebrant is encouraged to leave superstition and dogma behind and join in an ecstatic tribute to the glorious nature of reality. Aleister Crowley wrote the Gnostic Mass in 1913. He described it as the central ritual—public and private—of Ordo Templi Orientis (O.T.O.). Today it is being performed on a regular basis throughout the world.

The authors of this performance guide to the Mass are both longtime O.T.O. members and consecrated bishops of the Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica (E.G.C.). They share between them over half a century of diligent practice and training with this rite. Their devotion has been rewarded with long-sought-after insights into its complex choreography.

The detailed instructions presented here not only provide missing keys to the geometrical puzzle of the Mass, but offer a wider window into the workings of magical ritual. This book will thus be of value to spiritual aspirants, as well as to scholars and students of ancient myth, modern religious movements, and contemporary Gnosticism. The authors believe the Gnostic Mass to be a doorway into the highest realms of spiritual development and make a compelling case for that assertion.

In addition to a detailed commentary, they offer a corrected, uninterrupted Mass Missal suitable for use by individuals and groups interested in working with the ritual, along with valuable insights into magical ceremonies in general, and the Gnostic Mass in particular.

From the new edition:

‘The primary insight we received that prompted the first edition of this book in 2009 e.v. began in December 2005. It is described in the Commentary to Section VI, starting on page 93. It perfectly resolved the mathematical imbalance that had troubled me for over two and a half decades. We were humbled and felt compelled to share it with the wider Thelemic community. We then worked diligently to solve some of the other performance puzzles of which we were aware in Crowley’s stage directions. That quest led us through two previous editions of this book.

“We feel we have here solved problems that remained in our understanding of the choreography of the children and Deacon in Sections III, IV, and elsewhere. We noted the occurrence of two additional ‘X-switches’ during a training session conducted in 2012 e.v. They are mentioned on pages 94 and 102. We have refined and explained our version of the Communion in Section VIII better than ever before. We ‘road-tested’ this text twice with a group of five officers who had never done the Mass (three were not even O.T.O. members). That led to several important improvements in the instructions, and to the creation of the Temple diagram on page 52. We hope Mass teams will find the checklist useful on pages 125–127. There are another myriad of minor changes and refinements throughout.'” [via]

The Argument That Took the Wrong Turning

Hermetic Library fellow T Polyphilus reviews The Argument That Took the Wrong Turning: A Vindication of Priest/ess and Queer Gnostic Mass in Reply to T Polyphilus by Michael Effertz:

Michael Effertz's The Argument That Took the Wrong Turning from Luxor Media Group

“The Argument That Took the Wrong Turning” is an all-too-apt title for Michael Effertz’s 33-page pamphlet, written in reply to my 700-word review of his book Priest/ess. He treats my brief book review as though it were an attempt at an exhaustive critique of his position and his writing. Despite his ability to quote me accurately, he often misrepresents my views, drawing inaccurate inferences and overlooking the genuine implications in my review. It is a disappointing but hardly surprising outcome. [via]

 

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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