The nature of divinity in the spiritual paradigm presented by the Book of the Law is one of the most fundamentally difficult concepts to grasp. The result is the unnecessary introduction of entities to the apprehension of the nature of the Aeon of Horus. While it may appear on the surface as though a small pantheon of divine personalities presents the Book of the Law, closer investigation reveals that these are three voices of a unified, but entirely subjective macrocosm.
Infinite space is called the goddess NUIT, while the infinitely small and atomic yet omnipresent point is called HADIT. These are unmanifest. One conjunction of these infinites is called RA-HOOR-KHUIT, a unity which includes and heads all things. (More correctly, HERU-RA-HA, to include HOOR-PAAR-KRAAT).- Aleister Crowley, Magick in Theory and Practice
The Book of the Law describes everything as existing between extremes of nothing. Nuit, the queen of space, represents the outward infinity of void while Hadit conceives of an infinitesimal and internal point, both having no objective manifest existence. On the one hand, the infinite void can only be postulated from a subjective and manifest perspective and on the other, the possibility of an indivisible central point to that material perspective can only be postulated theoretically as having a definite position yet without magnitude. This interpretation indicates that neither Nuit nor Hadit exists at all, representing the antithesis of existence itself.
With the God & the Adorer I am nothing: they do not see me. They are as upon the earth; I am Heaven, and there is no other God than me, and my lord Hadit.- The Book of the Law, First Chapter
In the sphere I am everywhere the centre, as she, the circumference, is nowhere found.- The Book of the Law, Second Chapter, Verse 3
These voices in the Book of the Law define themselves in terms of their complements; the centre and the circumference. Nuit confirms the two-fold nature of this nothing, defining her nature as; “divided for love’s sake, for the chance of union”. Even on the metaphysical plane, nothing divided by two is still nothing. For it to become something there must be a third, manifest perspective that is the complement of both extremes of nothing. As a parallel, the new perspective must also be the issue of that nothing- the something must derive from the nothing.
For I am perfect, being Not- The Book of the Law, Second Chapter, Verse 15
The Opposite of Nothing
The closest approximation of absolute nothing that is possible from a manifest perspective is the negative existence. This is really no more than a negation of material existence and the Qabalah expresses this void of positive being as Ain אין, NOT. Even this implies a positive perspective, but it also implies a handy complement, IS. The qualities of this positive expression must be entirely antithetical to the nothing from which it derives, it cannot be nothing, it must be something. It cannot be infinite either, as it is now characterized by its emergence into positive existence as having a definite position, even if the uniqueness of its existence makes that position impossible to place within the infinite nothing for lack of any existent and coequal points of positive existence relative to it.
We are accustomed to refer all individuals in nature to one genus which is called the most general, that is, to the notion of Being, which embraces absolutely all the individuals in nature.- Baruch Spinoza, Ethics IV pref., II: 207
The Book of the Law gives this conjunction of infinites the nomenclature of Heru-Ra-Ha, a reengineering of the name of the God Horus. This is the Unity of Kether כתר, the first Sephira on the Tree of Life that is the source of the myriad material forms. This general, overriding Oneness, by manifesting materially, has become a limited, definite concept that can be the source of only a limited number of sub-units over a finite temporal span. These limitations are imposed on the ultimate divine being by its necessary separation from the original nothing. Thus the creative force has the entirety of creation implicit within itself from the moment of its Becoming.
People argue that an Infinite intelligence must have been at work on this cosmos. I reply No! There is no intelligence at work worthy of the name. The Laws of Nature may be generalized in one – the Law of Inertia. Everything moves in the direction determined by the path of least resistance; species arise, develop, and die as their collective inertia determines; to this Law there is no exception but the doubtful one of freewill; the Law of Destiny itself is formally and really identical with it.- Aleister Crowley, Berashith
Blasphemy Against All Gods of Men
This defines positive existence, Being, as an expression of force rather than of matter. The Holy Qabalah concurs with this definition, calling the initial emanation from the negative existence the Rashith HaGigilam הגלגליםראשית, the beginning of whirling. The overriding unity at the source of positive Being is defined as motion- in the beginning the manifest universe was set in motion and its development from that point onwards has been governed by its inertia. The Unity that is Horus is the current evolution of the motive force behind creation, a contemporary expression of the inertia of the material universe.
While the existence of Heru-Ra-Ha as “unity which includes and heads all things” fulfills the relative position of godhead as it is defined in the Qabalah, the finite limitation within a single identity creates a unity which has “a definite position yet without magnitude” that is equivalent to every other such point within the infinite void of NOT. On the most essential level, at their most central core, the God and Man are identical points of Hadit. At that level there is no difference, and so Ra-Hoor-Khuit is antithetical to traditional concepts of divinity.
Who worshipped Heru-pa-kraath have worshipped me; ill, for I am the worshipper.- The Book of the Law, Second Chapter, Verse 8
I am in a secret fourfold word, the blasphemy against all gods of men.- The Book of the Law, Third Chapter, Verse 49
Modes of Positive Being
The difference between the Unity of Heru-Ra-Ha and that of the individual is a matter of scale, the amount of force that is being expressed. The universality of Horus makes it a macrocosmic force, one which is mirrored in the myriad of microcosmic forms, each of which is merely a veiled point of Hadit with a definite position in the void of Nuit (neither of which exist except conceptually as forms of NOT). This singularity of positive being itself suggests a binary potential- Being and Not Being as the definitive delineation of the possible modes of force. Material being is either moving or at rest.
In fact, just as the Unity of Heru-Ra-Ha is the product of union of complementary nothings (Nuit and Hadit) this potential for alternate modes of expressing its force, as either active or passive, creates the potential for the conceptual division of the Unity of Heru-Ra-Ha into active and passive aspects- Ra-Hoor-Khuit and Hoor-Paar-Kraat. In order for an active force to express itself manifestly, there must be a passive vehicle to receive its impression and to fulfill the inertia that it imparts.
In this way, the entire set of divine personas in the Book of the Law represents the different aspects of divinity that are unified in Horus. Nuit and Hadit are Horus when he was NOT. Heru-Ra-Ha is Horus at the point of emergence into Being and divides into the active and passive personas Ra-Hoor-Khuit and Hoor-Paar-Kraat as the potential implicit in its positive manifestation is expressed in matter. This is, in effect, the formula of Tetragrammaton.
Tetragrammaton and Thelema
This five-fold nature of Horus is very suggestive, and it is easy to make the mistake of mapping the microcosmic perspective into its interpretation. The parallels with Pentagrammaton יהשוה make it tempting to attribute Elemental correspondence to each of these divine personas, but of course this cannot be so as these Elements only exist on the microcosmic level. On the macrocosmic level, Nuit and Hadit have no positive influence, they are as nothing, and Horus presents as a Trinity that is a unity, perpetuating and confirming the spiritual evolution of the previous Aeon.
The development of the force of Horus into active and passive forms represents a paradigm shift from an essential archetypal positive existence to a creative expression of that positive existence. While this is still on an ideal and conceptual level; because there has as yet been no confinement of force to a definite form, it establishes the overall momentum of the motive force of Heru-Ra-Ha as a mirror of the union of complements that established the positive being initially. Similarly, the issue of this union reaches its fullest expression in the form where the last of its inertia is expended and movement is reduced to its minimum- in the matter of the macrocosm.
As above, so below; the lesser and greater; microcosm and macrocosm: they are the same. Following this principle, all things were made from the One.- Hermes Trismegistus, The Emerald Tablet
At its core, every microcosmic existence is a defined point of Hadit within the infinite void of Nuit, and so each one is directly relative to and connected with the NOT. Between this negative existence, the Ideal Trinitarian existence that issues from it, and the microcosm, is the universe as we perceive it (not as it really is) that forms the World of Yetzirah. In this way, the cosmology of the Book of the Law establishes the divine influence throughout the Four Worlds and defines the method used by that divine force to manifest its influence as the microcosmic Tetragrammaton.
The Gods of Yetzirah
A number of gods are named in the text of the Book of the Law and this creates the impression that Thelema employs a pantheon, however limited, of traditional deities. Closer examination shows that this is so only in a very narrow way. Apart from Nuit, Hadit and Horus the Book of the Law explicitly names a total of ten other divinities in its text. Six of these are from the Stele of Ankhafnakhosu and four are mentioned in the dictated texts.
Abrogate are all rituals, all ordeals, all words and signs. Ra-Hoor-Khuit hath taken his seat in the East at the Equinox of the Gods; and let Asar be with Isa, who also are one. But they are not of me. Let Asar be the adorant, Isa the sufferer; Hoor in his secret name and splendour is the Lord initiating.- The Book of the Law, First Chapter
Asar and Isa are variant spellings for Osiris and Isis, the parents of the Child God Horus in the original Greco-Egyptian mythology. These are not of Horus, that is, they exist below the Ideal worlds of Atziluth and Briah, in the actual worlds of Yetzirah and, to a degree, Assiah. Asar is the worshipper, the Higher Self of the candidate for initiation (see the Golden Dawn Neophyte Ceremony) while Isa is the conceptual aspect of the microcosmic perception of spiritual growth, indicated by Hoor acting in the role of initiator.
Hrumachis, named as the Lord of the successive Aeon, is Horus of the Horizon and represents the evolved form that Heru-Ra-Ha assumes as the fulfillment of his own evolution- a symbol of the potential of the force that is labeled Horus. The final deity mentioned by name in the text of the Book of the Law is Tahuti- the expression of the Will of Horus, the Speech that is begotten in the Silence of the Ain Soph Aur, the voice of Heru-Ra-Ha.
The remainder of the deities involved with the Book of the Law appear in the Stele of Ankhafnakhonsu. Ra is already conflated with Horus, Mentu, Tum, Khephra, and Ahathoor are similes of ancient Egyptian gods that are unique to the Book of the Law and represent specific aspects of the all encompassing unity of Heru-Ra-Ha in the World of Yetzirah. Ra is the central focus of the microcosm’s Higher Self, the true vehicle for the point of Hadit at his center. Tum is the solar disk, an outward expression of Hadit while Khephera is the vehicle that provides the motive force to that solar disk of self awareness. Ahathoor a corruption of the Egyptian goddess Hathoor, meaning the House of Horus, represents the accommodating nature of physical existence with Hadit at its core. Finally, Khonsu is defined as the motive force of the priest that serves Ra-Hoor-Khuit. With only a small amount of imagination, the student of magick and Qabalah can discover a practical arrangement of attributions for each of these ten deities on the Tree of Life that correlates to their symbolic, Yetzirac qualities.
Mapping the Old Aeon into the New
This arrangement extends the influence of the divinity labeled Horus from its ultimate source in NOT to its manifest expression on the infinitesimal level of the individual microcosm- a truly all encompassing unity. This is a shift in the nature of the apprehension of divinity as a separate yet correspondent macrocosmic identity to a perspective that places divinity at the core of every created form. Unlike the worship based religious practice of the past Aeon, Thelema doesn’t seek to unite the microcosm with a separate macrocosm, but rather to make the microcosm aware of the macrocosmic element at its core as its purest and most perfect Self. For a Thelemite the ultimate spiritual goal is not to be reunited with the source but rather to indentify that source within themselves by becoming the perfect vehicle for its fulfillment.
Lurk! Withdraw! Upon them! this is the Law of the Battle of Conquest: thus shall my worship be about my secret house.
Get the stele of revealing itself; set it in thy secret temple-and that temple is already aright disposed-& it shall be your Kiblah for ever. It shall not fade, but miraculous colour shall come back to it day after day. Close it in locked glass for a proof to the world.- The Book of the Law, Third Chapter, Verses 9 & 10
This theurgic goal in itself indicates that Thelema is unsuitable as a form of religious worship. There is no need for the divine Self to petition the gods for redemption from temporal existence, it is already immortal. This alters the nature of the temple in the Aeon of Horus from a place of worship to a Hall of initiation. The method of identification with Horus is not as a passive vessel for his invoked force, it is the active assumption of his divine persona. The difference is a subtle but important distinction between the methods of the old Aeon and the new.
The method of the past Aeon was to prepare the aspirant as a fitting vehicle for divinity by purging him of attachment to material existence to refine his consciousness sufficiently to act as a vehicle for an invoked, externalized divinity. In the new Aeon, the process is opposite and the aspirant penetrates the layers of his own awareness to reveal the divine spark that can only be fully manifest in the World of Matter, Assiah. Denial of material existence is anathema to achieving Hadit.
There is great danger in me; for who doth not understand these runes shall make a great miss. He shall fall down into the pit called Because, and there he shall perish with the dogs of Reason.- The Book of the Law, Second Chapter, Verse 27
The misunderstanding of these principles results in deviating from the essential tenet of Thelema that the primary motive force of creation is Will. Even the most potent gods cannot alter the established inertia of creation and so it is pointless to petition them for redemption with ceremonies of worship. Positing Nuit as an archetypal mother goddess who unites with her consort Hadit to produce the fertility of the Earth as the basis for a ceremony of worship is a redundant concept, as every atom of positive existence is the result of this union already having taken place. This sets Thelema apart from modern Neo-Pagan religions entirely, and attempting to map the divine personas of the Book of the Law into these sort of reconstructed practices fails to recognize the true nature of divinity as it is expressed in the Thelemite paradigm. Invoking Nuit and Hadit negates matter by transcending positive existence and denying the unity of Being, instead of recognizing it as a vital part of the overriding unity of Heru-Ra-Ha.
Uniting Nuit with Hadit (or vice versa) is akin to adding zero to zero- the sum result is still zero. In fact, Crowley’s own methods suggest that uniting these polar principles of NOT cannot be achieved. Instead, they represent complementary perspectives from which the magician may perceive the non-positive states symbolized by the infinite without and the infinite within. That is, in order for the magician to perceive Nuit he becomes Hadit, while the perception of Hadit is achieved by assuming the perspective of Nuit.
1. Worship, i.e., identify thyself with, the Khabs, the secret Light within the Heart. Within this, again, unextended is Hadit.- Liber Nu sub figura XI
1. Worship, i.e., identify thyself with, Nuit, as a lambent flame of blue, all-touching, all-penetrant, her lovely hands upon the black earth, and her lithe body arched for love, and her soft feet not hurting the little flowers, even as She is imaged in the Stélé of Revealing.- Liber Had sub figura DLV
Obviously the objective of these practices is not to unite the personas of Nuit and Hadit but rather to shift the magician’s perspective entirely to one of these poles of attention, each representing an equal and opposite form of nothing. In other words, to perceive either form of NOT requires assuming the perspective of its complementary extremity. Assuming that these two polar opposites can be united within the magician by invoking them to coexist within him ignores the fact that, as he is already existing as a positive expression of Being, this union is already existent. It also ignores the impossibility of that positive existence being able to occupy these two polar perspectives simultaneously- the unity of the individual cannot be divided between “within’ and “without” or it loses its quality of being singular.
Thelema is the cult of self. Just as the spiritual practice of Thelema departs from the redundant concept of uniting the microcosm with a separate and outward macrocosm, and the ceremonial celebration of the union of bi-polar forces of nature, it also eliminates the concept of organized group worship. Heru-Ra-Ha is a finite spiritual force, and so that macrocosmic Unity is counterpoint to the finite microcosmic unity implicit in every point of positive creation- the God and the Man form contemporaneous instances of Hadit. In order for the aspirant to realize the Unity of Horus it is only necessary to realize his own divinity that is equal and opposite to that of Heru-Ra-Ha.
Every man and every woman is a star.- The Book of the Law, First Chapter
Obviously, this is an entirely individual effort as no two individual points of Hadit can coincide in space and time in the World of Assiah. This makes every individual entirely responsible for their own spiritual development. The new perspective that this admits challenges the currently accepted precepts of established religious and initiatory practices. In the Aeon of Horus the spiritual method of receiving the divine influence by proxy via the ministrations of a clerical agency like a priest or priestess is redundant.
The formula of the new Aeon, Do What Thou Wilt, demands that every individual instance of positive existence should focus on executing only their own will, the only domain over which it is possible for the microcosm to exercise any genuine influence. The priest of Horus cannot dispense the influence of the deity to others; he can only realize the existence of that divinity within himself. Similarly, no man, no matter how spiritually enlightened, can divine the True Will of another, and so the basis of the Hierophant’s power of initiation is also a redundant concept. Spiritual development in the Aeon of Horus is a solitary pursuit.
Magick and Worship
The shift in the perception of divinity that is implicit in the spiritual paradigm of the Aeon of Horus necessitates a new interpretation of traditional spiritual practices. While the traditional religious modes of spiritual practice have become redundant, worship has not; it has just changed its mode of expression. Worshipful practice no longer centers on getting a weekly dose of spiritual momentum at secondhand from the properly ordained authority- such an ordination is no longer relevant in an Aeon where every man and every woman is a God.
There are rituals of the elements and feasts of the times.- The Book of the Law, Second Chapter, Verse 36
The Book of the Law delineates two modes of spiritual expression- rituals and feasts. These are complementary modes of expressing the magician’s will to ultimately reveal his divinity to himself, to apprehend his unknown crown. The active and concentrated mode of ritual practice is the direct method of magick- the magician uses ceremony to symbolize his aspiration. The objective of ritual performance is the absolute restraint of the mind to the contemplation of a single object.
Now true magical ceremonial is entirely directed to attain this end, and forms a magnificent gymnasium for those who are not already finished mental athletes. By act, word, and thought, both in quantity and quality, the one object of the ceremony is being constantly indicated. Every fumigation, purification, banishing, invocation, evocation, is chiefly a reminder of the single purpose, until the supreme moment arrives, and every fibre of the body, every force channel of the mind, is strained out in one overwhelming rush of the Will in the direction desired.- Aleister Crowley, Berashith
In order to achieve this, the magician must be able to entirely identify with that single object, contemplating it until it becomes his own equal and opposite and his union with the objective becomes inevitable. As the macrocosmic ritualist is restricted to the World of Assiah, The Sphere of the Elements in Malkuth, the only objectives that it is possible to identify with completely enough for the magician to influence them are also restricted to the Sphere of the Elements. In fact, the magician is only able to focus on his own elemental components, only capable of changing himself, and so the only magick that is genuinely efficacious are rituals of initiation, not rituals of worship.
Behold! the rituals of the old time are black. Let the evil ones be cast away; let the good ones be purged by the prophet! Then shall this Knowledge go aright.- The Book of the Law, Second Chapter, Verse 5
On the surface it may seem that the Book of the Law prescribes a regular pattern of feast days, setting aside holy days at intervals throughout the calendar for worshipful practice. Closer examination of the instructions for feasting shows this to be a subjective interpretation. In total, there are eight feasts that get a specific mention in the Second Chapter of the Book of the Law. Of these, three are set down for predetermined dates marking the anniversary of the genesis of the Book of the Law.
8 April 1904
These specific feast dates are March 20 (the Supreme Ritual and the Equinox of the Gods exactly coincide), April 8, 9 & 10 (the three days of the writing of the Book of the Law) and August 12. The remaining five feasts mentioned in the text of Liber Al are indeterminate, perhaps suitable for the celebration of events in an individual life rather than as a regular day of Thelemite worship.
A feast every day in your hearts in the joy of my rapture!
A feast every night unto Nu, and the pleasure of uttermost delight!- The Book of the Law, Second Chapter, Verses 42 & 43
The Book of the Law elaborates further on the practice of feasting by indicating that it is a daily practice, making it an example of the most certain of magickal methods, devotion. The Thelemite feasts are not intended as rites of divine worship, they are instead the material source of the motive force that impels the individual towards the awareness of their own divinity- the fuel for the Great Work, material and spiritual nourishment. While the specific dates connected with the origins of the Book of the Law are potentially holy days, they are not exclusively so, and by celebrating them with a feast the magician connects his own momentum with the inertia of the entire Aeon. To the individual, the days that mark the definite development of his own godhead are the only truly holy days, and as the Book of the Law says, these should be every day.
Purging the Rituals of the Old Time
I have no serious objection to a finite god, or gods, distinct from men and things. In fact, personally, I believe in them all, and admit them to possess inconceivable though not infinite power.- Aleister Crowley, Berashith
All of this indicates that in order for the individual to become an active, consciously aware part of the “unity which includes and heads all things“, it requires that the old interpretation of the nature of divinity must be challenged. Positing the ultimate source of existence as non-existence renders worship of a god and goddess of Thelema meaningless. The finite nature of the Unity uttermost showed of Heru-Ra-Ha is identical at its core to the singularity of the microcosm, being driven by an equal and identical point of Hadit, that is in itself non-existent- implying that there is not even any real separation from the ultimate source in NOT.
Between Heru-Ra-Ha and the microcosm there is room for an infinite number of gods, each representing a unique aspect of the Formative World of Yetzirah, but as such they do not exist anywhere outside of the microcosm’s own conception of creation and that, from the most inert perspective possible, they are confined to a finite expression of the divine influence. This perspective gives such temporal expressions of divinity the appearance of some sort of omnipotence but in fact, as mere components of the microcosm’s own structure they are lesser than the divinity that exists at the core of every star.