A sacred secret. We shall not die. The reflections shall leave And it will happen fast. We shall all be changed, and by that he means reversed back, suddenly. In the twinkling of an eye! Because, he thought glumly as he watched the police psychologists writing their conclusions and signing them, we are fucking backward right now, I guess, every one of us; everyone and every damn thing, and distance, and even time. But how long, he thought, when a print is being made, a contact print, when the photographer discovers he’s got the negative reversed, how long does it take to flip it? To reverse it again so it’s like it’s supposed to be? A fraction of a second. I understand, he thought, what that passage in the Bible means, Through a glass darkly.
Dear love, dear wife, dear mother of the child
Whose fair faint features are a match for mine,
Lurks there no secret where your body smiled,
No serpent in the generous draught of wine?
Aleister Crowley, Rosa Inferni, I in Gargoyles
There was no secret cave of the wood’s womb
Where we might kiss all day without a start
Of fear that meant to stay and must depart,
Nor any corner where the sea’s perfume
Might shelter love in some wave-carven tomb.
But Maytime shone in us; with words of art
I drew her down reluctant to my heart,
When night was silence and my bed the gloom.
So without sin we took strange sacrament,
Whose wine was kisses, and whose bread the flower
Of fast and fervent cleaving breast to breast.
As lily bend to lily we were bent,
Not as mere man to woman: all the dower
Of martyred Virgins crowned our dangerous quest.
Aleister Crowley, The Sixteenth Day in Alice: an Adultery
My dearest, I will now explain the only safe and true formula, the destroyer of the darkness of the World, the most secret among all secrets. Let it be secret to him who would attain. Let it cover any period of time, depending on his conception. There is no qualification, nor ritual or ceremony. His very existence symbolising all that is necessary to perfection. Most emphatically, there is no need of repetition or feeble imitation. You are alive!
Austin Osman Spare, The Book of Pleasure
Yet excess is the secret of success.
Aleister Crowley, The Old Comment on Liber Legis, II.71
The silence that enfolds something kept unsaid points to the unsayable. By being wrapped in silence, what is arcane (kept hidden) comes to participate in what is esoteric (by its nature inexpressible). The secret becomes a symbol of the mystery, participating in what it points to, by the way in which it points to it.
Rather, what may seem to be mystification is a way of making that information symbolic because it is hidden. Because it is hidden, it cannot be explained. Because it cannot be said, it stands in for, or acts as a pointer to, the unsayable. We map the extra, tacit, inarticulable dimension into the ordinary realm by the use of secrets. Or: the secret is the diagonal that allows the third, inarticulate dimension to be mapped into the plane, the domain of words.
A thing is not esoteric because it is secret or kept hidden. It is esoteric because its existence is in some sense unmanifest, private, and by its very nature not available for examination from the outside: it is only available to participation, not, ultimately, merely to examination. In other words, the realm of the esoteric is, before anything else, the realm of consciousness, of experience.