“The catalogue is divided into three sections, the first of which is devoted to the magnificent Frieda Lady Harris / Aleister Crowley Thoth Tarot Calendar that was published for the year 1987. The calendars are huge (16.5″ x 10.5″) and each has 12 full-colour large size reproductions of different Thoth tarot designs. Serendipitously the alignment of days / dates in 2015 will be exactly the same as it was in 1987, so those who want to actually use the calendar will be able to do so next year! We have only a very small number of original new copies — recently discovered in England — and originals are rare, as many owners disassembled them and framed each of the images individually (we have one such set on the walls at Weiser Antiquarian).
The second section is devoted to books and ephemera by Aleister Crowley. It includes a good selection of First Editions of Crowley’s works, including the first separate British and US editions of The Book of the Law (1938 & 1942 respectively), a good selection of First Editions of the first series of The Equinox, including one of the rare white buckram issues of which there were only 50 copies, and a handsomely bound copy of The Equinox, Vol. III, No. 1. (‘The Blue Equinox‘ — 1919) from the library of Ray G. Burlingame (1893–1965) ‘Frater Aquarius,’ a IX degree member of the Agape Lodge of the O.T.O., with his stylised ownership inscription. Other First Editions include a superb set of the first issue of Magick In Theory and Practice (1929) in four parts, with the rare, 4 page prospectus and the single-sheet Subscription Form; The Sword of Song. Called by Christians The Book of the Beast (1904), two different variants of The Tale of Archais. A Romance in Verse (1898), a handsomely rebound copy of Oracles: The Biography of an Art (1905) and first separate editions of The City of God (1943) and The Fun of the Fair (1942), including a copy of the latter with the two additional poems that were left out of most copies because of wartime censorship regulations. Posthumous editions include a highly unusual Thelema publications re-issue of The Vision and The Voice (1952 / 1980), the sought-after John Symonds and Kenneth Grant edited Magical and Philosophical Commentaries on the Book of the Law (1974) and a lovely copy of the Karl Germer edition of Liber Aleph (1962) with the extremely unusual original single-sided prospectus loosely inserted. There is also some fascinating ephemera, including a proof copy of Liber LXXVII. [Liber Oz] with holograph notes by Crowley on the verso; an autograph letter, signed, from Crowley to his physician urgently requesting a replacement prescription for heroin, and a holograph draft of a letter from Crowley to Frieda Lady Harris, along with a typed letter signed to Crowley from his lawyers, who had evidently vetted the contents of the letter on Crowley’s behalf!
The third and final section of the catalogue comprises works which in one way or another relate to Aleister Crowley. These include a copy of the rare first edition of Betty May’s Tiger-Woman (1929) — which famously includes a chapter on her stay at Cefalu, and a delightful early edition of James Joyce’s Ulysses (1926), a book which Crowley greatly admired, but which was banned in the UK at the time and comes with a home-made “modesty shield” so that it can sit undetected on the shelves. Both books are from the library of Edward Noel Fitzgerald (1908-1958), Frater Agape, a IX degree member of the O.T.O., long-time friend of Aleister Crowley’s, and briefly Karl Germer’s representative in the U.K., with his posthumous bookplate. Other curiosities include Liber Vel Oviz 93 Sub Figura LXXVI as Delivered By Oviz to Przoval 8 = 3 (1981) an unusual privately printed work that appears to present itself as a ‘sequel’ to or extension of “The Book of the Law,” S. Ivor Stephen’s, Neutrality: the Crucifixion of Public Opinion From the American Point of View (1916), a well-reasoned argument for keeping the USA out of the First World War, which includes a number of references to the views on the subject of the “great English writer and poet” Crowley and his circle; and a typed letter, signed, from Dennis Wheatley to Crowley, discussing publication possibilities for Crowley’s memoirs (1934)
“This fabulous, high quality, beautifully printed and bound second issue of the Lodge’s Journal should not disappoint!:
- Br. Shaun Johnson analyses Crowley’s negative opinion of mediumship, seeking to place this in a socio-historical context and thereby reclaim the field as a legitimate and useful area of research for the practising magician.
- Fr. Vaoanu describes what happens when a goetic spirit runs amok, creating havoc in the everyday life of the unsuspecting ritualist.
- Fr. Wahdaniah delves into the annals of a working group meeting each week to scry the Tree of Life, describing the ritual approach adopted by the group, the sort of results that were obtained, and the psychological factors involved in scrying.
- Br. Gary Dickinson traces the cultural origins and subsequent peregrinations of the mysterious figure of Lam, highlighting a major area of influence on Crowley’s thought and work which has been elided by later commentators.
- Sr. I presents an illuminating approach to using astrology as a tool in the quest to discover the True Will.
- Sr. Dwale gives a first-hand account of an initiation into a ceremonial magic group, recounting what happened one night somewhere in the depths of Cornwall.
- Fr. Sotto Voce, is something of a ‘call to arms’ for those in the Order.
- Fr. Lamogue, has written a wonderful fable about the Order of practically Sufic simplicity.
- For the first time, in this issue – an article by a guest author who is not a member of O.T.O.: a fascinating study of Aleister Crowley’s trip to Russia with his troupe of Ragged Ragtime Girls, written by Geraldine Beskin.
This edition also offers an eclectic selection of rituals written and performed by Lodge members for the reader’s delectation:
- There is the Pyramid of the Sphinx, a ritual written by Fr. Spiritus which utilises some of the key ideas detailed by Crowley in Liber Aleph.
- Fr. Dharmakaya draws on his background in Witchcraft to construct a Thelemic Witchcraft Ritual.
- Fr. 515 presents The Rite of Hekate, a ritual invoking an ancient goddess using the formulae of ceremonial magick, accompanied by an essay outlining the key considerations and sources which featured in its composition.
- Not to mention an interview with the eminently edifying Lon Milo DuQuette, who offers his own unique view on a whole host of magical topics mercilessly hurled at him by his interlocutors.
All is adorned by excellent artwork and photographs created by Lodge members and printed in full colour, including the magnificent image which graces the front cover of this second issue.” [via]
Here’s an excerpt, pages 1–8, from The Argument That Took the Wrong Turning: A Vindication of Priest/ess and Queer Gnostic Mass in Reply to T Polyphilus by Michael Effertz, which is offered at the Reading Room courtesy of the author. While you may have had a chance to read T Polyphilus’ review previously posted and heard various other responses about Priest/ess, unless you have had access to one of the few privately printed and distributed volumes, this may be your first glimpse of Effertz’s argument, as well as the tone and tenor, as it appears in the book; and unless you have acquired one of the new editions with which it is offered this may be your first chance to read some of the substance contained within the new pamphlet.
I thank E.G.C. Bishop T Polyphilus for his critical review1 of my book, Priest/ess: In Advocacy of Queer Gnostic Mass. Polyphilus kindly prefaces his critique with the observation that “significant expense and care” went into the production of what became an “attractive little book.” In writing and designing the private edition of Priest/ess, I resolved to evince the same commitment to quality that Crowley once stressed in a letter to Frank Bennett, writing that “it has always been a point of honor with us to make our publications physically worthy of their contents.”2 The Bishop may not share my estimation of Priest/ess’ contents, but his praise is nevertheless well received. It is for this reason that I have endeavored to ensure that the trade edition, handsomely bound in hardcover and released in both a standard and deluxe edition, will likewise please the reader in form.
With this supplementary essay, I offer a reply to Polyphilus’ review in the same spirit as the arguments given in Priest/ess. As such, I will neither speculate as to Polyphilus’ motives nor ascribe to him any ill will in criticizing my work. I cannot say with certainty, and so will not assert, whether the errors in his review indicate an accidental or a willful misunderstanding of my arguments. I will, therefore, focus on the content of the review itself, checking its claims against the facts of each case rather than dwelling on the character of the author or his possible intentions. Where a misunderstanding is evident, I lay the fault squarely on my own deficient exposition; this will require the occasional reiteration of points originally made in the Priest/ess, in which I anticipated several of the criticisms made in Polyphilus’ review.
In his brief review, Polyphilus makes a series of claims about Priest/ess, the Gnostic Mass, and related subjects, which I will address seriatim. These include the claims that:
- I am wrong about the purpose of E.G.C. clergy,
- Nobody has the generic right to ordination or to serve as an ordained member of the clergy in the performance of E.G.C. rituals,
- Clergy do not have the authority to impose their own interpretation on the Gnostic Mass, because it is not a vehicle for personal expression,
- I obscure and misrepresent E.G.C. policy concerning private and public celebrations of queer Gnostic Mass,
- For public Gnostic Masses, E.G.C. policy requires Priests who are socially masculine in their life outside the temple and Priestesses who are similarly feminine,
- Restricting queer Gnostic Mass to private celebrations enhances it, and
- Prohibiting public queer Gnostic Masses does not “closet” queer personal relationships.
In addition to these explicit claims, Polyphilus insinuates that there are still more issues at stake and criticisms to be made, but opts not to specify in the course of his review what those issues are beyond alluding to their magical and doctrinal nature. E.G.C. policy, he argues, is constructed with a view toward assuring the simultaneous fulfillment of three effects or purposes of the Gnostic Mass (magical, communal, and doctrinal), even when individual celebrants do not consciously comprehend all three. Polyphilus directs the reader to his essay “Discourse on the Sixth Article,” wherein he elucidates his views on these three purposes of the Mass. The essay genuinely rewards study. Contrary to settling the question of queer Gnostic Mass against its acceptance, the three purposes of the Mass proposed by Polyphilus provide us with fertile ground for defending the propriety of its public celebration. While we cannot scrutinize his reasons for dismissing queer Gnostic Mass on magical, communal, and doctrinal grounds, since those reasons are not divulged in his review, we can make our own assessment of the merits of public queer Gnostic Mass as it might pertain to these matters with reference to the wealth of published and publicly available writings by Crowley on the Mass, the Eucharist, the O.T.O. and its various degrees, magick, sex and gender, and other kindred subjects. As Polyphilus’ review is consciously informed by his concept of the three purposes of the Gnostic Mass, we turn first to an evaluation of the magical, communal, and doctrinal considerations at the heart of his critique.
The Magical Purpose of the Gnostic Mass
Polyphilus cites magical issues as under the purview of the E.G.C. in the oversight of its clergy, which issues motivate and guide the construction and enforcement of E.G.C. policy in prohibiting public celebrations of queer Gnostic Mass. In so stating, Polyphilus implies, without evidence or explanation, that public celebrations of queer Gnostic Mass could not fulfill the magical purpose of the Mass. Presumably, the problem of magical bankruptcy is evaded through private celebration.
Of the magical purpose of the Gnostic Mass, Polyphilus writes:
The Magical effect for the individual
Is the one that Crowley explains in Magick in Theory and Practice:
The communicant is gradually made divine,
Being brought swallow by swallow
Towards Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel
And to the ultimate attainment that lies beyond.
And this effect is secret in the sense that it is utterly ineffable.3
We may then reasonably infer Polyphilus to contend that communicants in a public celebration of a queer Gnostic Mass could not be “gradually made divine, being brought swallow by swallow towards the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel and to the ultimate attainment that lies beyond.” Such a suggestion is contradicted by Crowley’s teachings concerning magical ritual and the Eucharist, as documented in his diaries and other works. For example, in defining the universal object of magical ritual, Crowley instructs the magician to use ritual to confront weaknesses in his understanding and offers sexual identity as one such area for exploration:
There is a single main definition of the object of all magical ritual. It is the uniting of the Microcosm with the Macrocosm. The Supreme and Complete Ritual is therefore the Invocation of the Holy Guardian Angel; or, in the language of Mysticism, Union with God.
All other magical rituals are particular cases of this general principle, and the only excuse for doing them is that it sometimes occurs that one particular portion of the Microcosm is so weak that its imperfection or impurity would vitiate the Macrocosm of which it is the image, eidolon, or reflection. For example, God is above sex; and therefore neither man nor woman as such can be said fully to understand, much less to represent, God. It is therefore incumbent on the male Magician to cultivate those female virtues in which he is deficient, and this task he must of course accomplish without in any way impairing his virility. It will then be lawful for a Magician to invoke Isis, and identify himself with her; if he fail to do this, his apprehension of the Universe when he attains samādhi will lack the conception of maternity. The result will be a metaphysical and—by corollary—ethical limitation in the Religion which he founds. Judaism and Islām are striking examples of this failure.4
Ritual offers the magician one avenue for symbolically uniting diverse elements within his being, though it is by no means the only method for achieving such union:
The doctrine here put forth is that the initiate cannot be polluted by any particular environment. He accepts and enjoys everything that is proper to his nature. Thus, a man’s sexual character is one form of his self-expression; he unites Hadit with Nuit sacramentally when he satisfies his instinct of physical love. Of course, this is only one partial projection; to govern, to fight, and so on, must fulfil other needs. We must not imagine that any form of activity is ipso facto incapable of supplying the elements of an Eucharist: suum cuique [Lat. “to each his own”]. Observe, however, the constant factor in this enumeration of the practices proper to “hermits:” it is ecstatic delight.5
The actual or symbolic union of the self with another, or even of different aspects of the self within oneself, is characterized by Crowley as the key to preparing the Eucharist, which process may be carried out through methods proper to the nature of each individual. This notion resonates alongside the previous passage with Liber A’ASH, which proclaims:
All holy things and all symbolic things shall be my sacraments.6
Among those Gnostic sacraments is semen, which Crowley says may possess different potencies depending upon one’s point of view:
Semen itself is mercury, the river of life flowing throughout the generations. That is fluid mercury. What is (from the point of view of life) waste, is knowledge. Hence the opposition between knowledge and life. One is homo- and the other heterosexuality. Those are reconciled in Mercury, who is wisdom.7
As with all opposing points of view, it is the work of the magician to reconcile these contradictions in a higher understanding. In this “fluid mercury” Crowley finds one resolution to the “opposition between knowledge and life” in a single Eucharist, which may elevate the communicant to divinity. Crowley provides us with an unambiguous illustration of the transformative power of this type of Eucharist in his notes to the Cephaloedium Working, which sacrament was prepared initially by two men together:
(7) Make Iacchaion God, by Ether.
(8) Sacrifice him to the Beast, who thus becomes God. Use here the accendat & the right Mantram, the Tu qui es & the Quia Patris.8
The “accendat,” “Tu qui es,” and “Quia Patris” all refer to the Grimorium Sanctissimum, ritual instructions for a mass along analogous lines to that of the Gnostic Mass (e.g., the consecration and dressing in ritual vestments of the “priest” by the “maiden,” speeches from “The Ship,” etc.) Another queer interpretation of the mass formula given in Grimorium Sanctissimum is provided in the Paris Working, during which Crowley assumed the role of “maiden” to Victor Neuburg’s “priest.” Throughout his diaries and instructions, Crowley evinces an understanding of the Eucharist that reconciles heterosexuality and homosexuality, life and knowledge, in one transcendent wisdom.
Polyphilus’ implicit contention that a Eucharist produced by a queer pairing cannot lead one “swallow by swallow” to Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel seems especially strange, given Crowley’s description of the relation between the Adept and his Angel:
In a secret code the Adept affirms that he is of the same sex (so to speak) as his Angel. It is not a union of opposites to produce a tertium quid [Lat. “third thing”], but a realization of identity, like the return to consciousness from delirium, whose ecstasy bears no fruit involving new responsibilities, new possibilities of sorrow, but is all-sufficient to itself, with neither past nor future.
The “peeled wand” is the creative Energy of the Angel, stripped of all veils, pointing to the Zenith, ready and eager to act. The Adept exclaims with joy that he has aspired to unite himself with this Idea, and has attained.
Thus concludes the description of the relations of the Adept and his Angel so far as the element of Earth, the concrete and manifest aspect of Nature, is concerned. The whole illusion has been destroyed; the bread has become the body of God.9
As was delineated above, the sacrament by which bread is transmuted into the “body of God” may take any of various forms. Heterosexual union, whether actual or symbolic, is a commonly cited formula for effecting this transmutation. In Liber Aleph, Crowley provides commentary on “the ultimate attainment that lies beyond” and the manner in which homosexual formulae are efficacious in achieving this attainment:
O my Son, behold now the Mystery and Virtue of the Silver Star! For of these Four Works not one leadeth to the Crown, because Tetragrammaton hath His Root only in Chokmah. So therefore the Formula of the Rosy Cross availeth no more in the Highest. Now then in the Pentagram are Two Lines that invoke Spirit, though they lead not thereunto, and they are the Works of Hé with Hé, and of Yod with Vau. Of these twain the former is a Work Magical of the Nature of Musick, and it draweth down the Fire of the HIGHER by Seduction or Bewitchment. Shall I say Enchantment? Shall I say Incantation? It is Song. But Bewitchment is a Work opposite thereunto, whose Effect formulateth itself by direct Creation in the Sphere of its Purpose and Intent. But there remain yet Two of the Eight Works, namely the straight Aspiration of the Chiah or Creator in thee to the Crown, and the Surrender of the Nephesch or Animal Soul to the Possession thereof; and these be the twin geodesic Formulæ of the Final Attainment, being Archetypes of the Paths of Magick (the one) and Mysticism (the other) unto the End.10
If we agree with Polyphilus and assert that the magical purpose of the Gnostic Mass is to lead one to the “Final” or “ultimate attainment,” then one may reasonably maintain that the formula of the Gnostic Mass must be, by that fact, robust and flexible enough to find expression in “the Works of Hé with Hé, and of Yod with Vau” as well as those of Yod with Hé and Vau with Hé.
Though it remains unclear why, from the standpoint of E.G.C. policy and its hierarchy, a private celebration of queer Gnostic Mass could adequately fulfill the magical purpose of the Mass while a public celebration could not, a thorough survey of Crowley’s writings on the subject of the magical effect of the Mass, as Polyphilus describes it, offers decisive evidence in favor of the efficacy of queer Gnostic Mass, public and private.
2. Crowley, Aleister. The Progradior Correspondence: Letters by Aleister Crowley, Frank Bennett, C.S. Jones, & Others. Ed. Keith Richmond. York Beach, ME: 2009. 84.
3. T Polyphilus. “Discourse on the Sixth Article.” Vigorous Food & Divine Madness. The Hermetic Library, n.d. 22 Feb. 2013. <http://hermetic.com/dionysos/art6.htm>. [Formatting and emphasis as in original].
4. Crowley, Aleister. “The Principles of Ritual.” Magick: Liber ABA, Book 4. 2nd ed. York Beach: Red Wheel/Weiser, 2004. 144. [emphasis in original].
5. New Comment to AL, II:24, Magical and Philosophical Commentaries on the Book of the Law. Symonds, John and Kenneth Grant, eds. Montreal: 93 Publishing, 1974. 200.
6. Liber A’ASH Vel Capricorni Pneumatici, 20. The Holy Books of Thelema. 1st ed. York Beach: Samuel Weiser, 1983.
7. “The Paris Working.” The Vision & The Voice with Commentary and Other Papers. Boston: Red Wheel/Weiser, 1998. 363.
9. “Commentary to Liber 65 – Chapter I.” Commentaries on the Holy Books and Other Papers. York Beach, Samuel Weiser, 1996. 98-99.
10. “On the Four Major Operations of the Microcosmic Star.” Liber Aleph. York Beach: Red Wheel/Weiser, 2003. 107.
You may be interested in Weiser Antiquarian Book Catalogue #106: Aleister Crowley: Used and Rare Books and Ephemera.
“This catalogue is made up of seven sections, the first of which is a mixed collection of books and ephemera by Crowley himself. It includes some truly stunning manuscript and typescript items, notably the original typescript of an unpublished film-script entitled “The Stolen Post-Office,” a murder mystery with a dissolute cocaine-fiend as the villain whose friend, “Snowbird Jim” starts out bad but ends up good under the influence of dance-hall-floozy come tart-with-a-heart “Dago Flo.” There is also a typescript of Crowley’s Liber Aleph that circulated amongst Crowley’s followers shortly before his death, and a small collection of documents relating to Crowley’s failed attempt to get to America during the Second World War, including an envelope on which Crowley has written “From my Gaoler.” Manuscript materials include an original manuscript poem that was later published in Konx om Pax, a note in which Crowley suggests a course by which the Thoth tarot deck might come to be his path-way to riches, two letters to Frieda Harris, and a remarkable note in which Crowley suggests Oscar Wilde to have been guilty of plagiarism! Amongst the less common printed texts in this group are a copy of Crowley’s The Man That Put the O.K. in Book, a booklet that is as sycophantic as it is scarce, the softcover version of the 1992 Mandrake Press Ltd edition of the first eleven numbers of The Equinox (oddly the only edition that is a true facsimile of the first edition), and the memorable “Scratch ‘n’ Sniff” edition of Leah Sublime (1996), which was surely in part a hommage to John Waters’ “Polyester” and its “Odorama.”
The second section comprises “Books and Journals Relating to Crowley, Thelema, and Associates,” and includes two unusual inscribed booklets by Crowley’s one-time disciple C. F. Russell, while the third section is devoted to the publications of Marcelo Motta and his “Society Ordo Templi Orientis.” The fourth section showcases one limited edition booklet, of which we have secured a few signed copies: Timothy D’Arch Smith’s fascinating piece of literary detective work Bunbury. Two Notes on Oscar Wilde (Aleister Crowley and the Origin of “Bunbury” & A Source for the Importance of Being Earnest).
The fifth section of the catalogue is titled “Beardsley, the Beast, and his Bookplate,” for it brings together a small collection of books that in one way or other relate to the Aleister Crowley bookplate with design by Aubrey Beardsley. For many years the bookplate was almost legendary – there were various references to its existence, but no-one appeared to have ever actually seen a copy. It was a subject that fascinated Nicholas Bishop-Culpeper, who put together the small collection of books and journals in this section. Also included is a folder with a facsimile of the bookplate, and various ephemera relating to it that was assembled by Nicholas. The penultimate section: “The Beast Observed: in Memoirs and Fiction,” comprises a disparate group of biographies, memoirs, etc., all of which contain at least some reference to Crowley. Of particular note are two copies of Betty May’s Tiger-Woman, the memoirs of the widow of Raoul Loveday, the former Oxford student who died whilst staying at Crowley’s Abbey of Thelema in Cefalu, which give an interesting first-hand account of life at the Abbey. Curiously Tiger Woman is referenced in another book in this section, Taylor Croft’s The Cloven Hoof: A Study of Contemporary London Vices (1932), a delightfully breathless romp through the seedy underbelly of London in the 1920s and early 1930s. The catalogue ends with a collection of London Auction room catalogues form the 1950s through the 1970s. This was the period when many of important collections of Crowley’s works – often those of people who knew him – were dispersed at auction, and the catalogues sometime provide valuable bibliographical and biographical data.” [via]
On the Cup. David Richard Jones aka T Satanas
“a direct link between the sacrament, as consecrated by the Priest and Priestess at the altar, and the cake and cup consumed by the congregant, is necessary for the sacrament to be efficacious.” [via]