Preparing for Pyramidos

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Aleister Crowley’s A.’.A.’. is perhaps the most fully developed system of magick ever devised. Based on the model of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, of which Crowley had been a member for a short but influential period, the A.’.A.’. curriculum is a comprehensive set of instructions for developing the skills and experience of ceremonial magick. The graded structure of A.’.A.’. introduces the student incrementally to the fundamental practices of magick in a meaningful and achievable order with the goal of arming them with the skills necessary for composing and performing the central work of the A.’.A.’., the invocation of the knowledge and conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel.

Elementary Steps in Magick

When the A.’.A.’. was originally founded in 1908, the intention was to disseminate the instructional material to students as it became necessary for them to use it in their advancement. The internet has changed all of that and now anyone can download the entire set of A.’.A.’. books of instruction with the result that it is difficult for many new students to get a grasp on where they should start. Although the curriculum is explained in exact detail in the introductory material like Liber XIII vel Graduum Montis Abiegni, Liber Collegii Sancti sub figura CLXXXV and One Star in Sight, few students will be naturally drawn to these obscure books when they have a wealth of magick ceremonies to explore in the same series of books.

Elemental Grades of A.A.

The Elemental Grades of the Argentium Astrum

Even with a structured start to the practice of the A.’.A.’. system, the Probationer receives the broadest description of the study and practice that is required before he is eligible to work with the central ceremonial magick of the Elemental grades of the order, Ritual DCLXXI. For the student that is fortunate enough to have a dedicated teacher to guide them through the year of Probation, the path to their first initiation is a well laid out journey. For the rest, even the most assiduous student working in isolation will very likely not have prepared themselves to perform this essential ceremony because they will not know which studies to focus on and which skills to develop.

The Skill Set for Building Pyramids

He shall commit a chapter of Liber LXV to memory; and furthermore, he shall study the Publications of the A.’.A.’. in Class B, and apply himself to such practices of Scientific Illuminism as seemeth him good.- Liber Collegii Sancti sub figura CLXXXV

The fourth clause in the Oath of a Probationer directs the new student to study the basic literature from the fifteen titles in the Class B publications of the A.’.A.’. curriculum that outline fundamental practices like the pentagram and hexagram rituals, rising on the planes, training in mindfulness discipline as well as some basic Qabalah. Among this material is everything that a Probationer will need to learn in order to acquire the skills and knowledge necessary to perform the ritual of first initiation as it appears in Liber DCLXXI vel Pyramidos.

3D-PyramidosWith guidance, any Probationer can expect to build their magical skill set within the prescribed period, but for a student of magick that has taken up A.’.A.’. in isolation there is very little to guide them to make the right choices to prepare for this pivotal step in the literature or the writings of Crowley.

Composing the Pyramidos Ritual

In 1906 Crowley composed a ceremony of initiation based upon the Neophyte Formula of the Golden dawn which which has come to be called the Throa תרעא Ritual, numbered 671 for the Gematric value of the letters of its name. תרעא means “gate” and refers to the passage of the gates of the Elements that forms the core of the Neophyte Ceremony. His aim was to simplify this fundamental rite and to make its performance more fluid.

In the time between his exit from the Golden Dawn in 1900 and the composition of Ritual 671, Crowley’s magical style developed the system that he had inherited from the Hermetic order into a more dramatic, poetic expression of the magician’s will. Several influences, from Buddhist techniques learned from Allan Bennett, concentration techniques borrowed from his mountaineering partner Oscar Eckenstein and his broad study of the classical literature of occultism, all contributed to the composition of Crowley’s initiation ceremony, Ritual 671. As the A.’.A.’. developed its curriculum, Crowley polished the תרעא Ritual into a potent and practical ceremony of self initiation given the nomenclature of Liber DCLXXI vel Pyramidos.

Although it was widely disseminated, Liber 671 was never published and remained an obscure and difficult to obtain text. Even the versions that have been made available are a sketch of the ritual with little or no instruction on how to perform it. At the same time, in Magick in Theory and Practice Crowley stresses the importance of using Ritual DCLXXI for a ceremony of first initiation as well as a pattern for composing ceremonies for other practical purposes like consecrating the Magick Weapons.

Pyramidos: Self Initiation in the Aeon of Horus

3D-Pyramidos-stackThe cryptic form of the text of Liber DCLXXI vel Pyramidos and the need for a solid grounding in the basics of ceremonial magick, including a fairly sound grasp of the Golden Dawn Neophyte Formula, makes it very unlikely that a novice that has downloaded the Pyramidos Ritual will have the ability to expand and perform it effectively. There are very specific areas of study that a Probationer can focus on to acquire the knowledge required to understand how to operate the Pyramidos and, in the case of Probationers that have a teacher, the novice magician is directed through them during their probationary period, or at least towards the end of it. For the isolated student, an introductory guide to the operation of the Pyramidos is needed to make it more accessible to beginners.

To address this I have written a comprehensive exploration of the seminal operation of ceremonial magick. Pyramidos: Self Initiation in the Aeon of Horus examines the provenance of this ceremony and gives an explanation of the intention of each of the steps in its performance. There is a detailed bibliography of literary influences on this central ceremony of the A.’.A.’. sysytem of magick and an outline of the work necessary for someone to prepare themselves to perform this ritual of self initiation. The book also includes the full Pyramidos Ritual as well as several of the ceremonies that influenced its composition. The Neophyte Formula of the Golden Dawn is also examined in detail to give the student a solid foundation upon which to base their understanding of this important ceremony from Crowley’s voluminous catalogue of magical instructions.

Pyramidos: Self Initiation in the Aeon of Horus includes 15 illustrations and a comprehensive bibliography of references that contributed to the composition of this dynamic ceremony of high magick art.

Pyramidos: Self Initiation in the Aeon of Horus is available now for $39.95 (plus postage and handling) from:

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Magick and Power

sigil_of_amethDifferent types of magick are often defined by the power that they are perceived to possess. While this makes the basic error of mistaking the source of their power and its method of expression, there is a kernel of truth in this type of differentiation between systems of magick. The key to the power of a system of magick is the number of truths that it is capable of expressing, rather than the types of methods that it employs.

The most vital aspect of any system of magick is the completeness and legibility of the symbol set at its foundation. For symbols to be effective as a medium for expressing the will of the magician the concepts that they are representing have to be able to be clearly understood. Systems that employ a limited set of symbols can only represent a limited number of truths while more comprehensive systems have greater powers of legibility and are capable of expressing a wider range of concepts.

Formal Systems and Magick

unicursal hexagram with anglesMost correctly, a formal system is any well defined system of abstract thought, often based on the principles of mathematics. Euclid’s geometry is a well known formal system, thought to be the first, that employs the characteristics of a specific language that uses a set of symbols, governed by rules of inference that determine its axioms. In the case of geometry, these axioms are the truths that govern the composition of shapes and the veracity of the axioms is determinable by simple, often mechanical means (such as measuring the congruence of lines and angles with a compass and straightedge to infer the congruence of similar shapes).

By this definition, magical systems could be classed as formal systems that use specific symbol sets employed by the principles of the specific discipline to represent their objectives. For instance, the magical system of the Goetia uses its catalogue of sigils as the focus of a standard practical operation to bring about very specific outcomes. The rules by which the veracity of the outcome is determined are the specific details of the practical operation of the grimior while the stated objectives and tangible results of the ceremonial performances are the axioms, or truths that it expresses.

Not All Magical Systems are Created Equal

Obviously, magical systems with a broad range of symbols will be able to postulate a greater range of objectives, but at the same time, no magical system can be complete. In any formal system it is necessary to step outside of the system in order to create a symbol that represents the system in its entirety, therefore no formal system is really capable of postulating axioms about itself on a holistic level and magical systems are no different.

BuerEven the most intricate, symbol rich magical systems, with the ability to express thousands of precise objectives, have no symbol for the system itself. This limits the power of the magical system to the level upon which its symbols operate and makes it impossible to direct the method towards the system itself. This means that the magical system cannot be directly applied to its own development, or to the extension of its symbol set, or it becomes a meta system with a correspondingly new limitation against self referential development- a completely new system that is really just an extension of the old one on a different scale of operation. It increases the complexity of the available symbols without increasing its power to express new truths.

Consistency of Symbol Sets

The real value of any system of operation is that it remains consistent. In 1900 the mathematician David Hilbert examined the question of consistency in formal mathematical systems and his second problem states that the function of a formal system for a science is to “set up a system of axioms which contains an exact and complete description of the relations subsisting between the elementary ideas of that science” with the objective of proving “that they are not contradictory, that is, that a definite number of logical steps based upon them can never lead to contradictory results”.

The same holds true for magick. The function of a formal magical system is to establish a system of achievable objectives using the relations subsisting between its elemental components that are attained by following a definite number of logical steps that never lead to contradictory results. In other words, a magical system only has any real power as long as repeating a practice continues to produce an identical result. For the results of a magical system to be deemed consistent their success, the system’s axiomatic statements, must be provable from within the system itself, using its symbol set to legibly demonstrate the successful result. That is, a result that derives its proof from outside of the parameters of the magickal operation cannot be attributed to it.

Magical Axioms and Tangible Results

In practical terms this means that firstly, there is no possibility of a complete system of magick simply because there is no system that has a single symbol to represent, or to operate on the system itself as a whole. Secondly, it indicates that the proof of the success of any magical operation is necessarily confined to a very narrow range of parameters that are defined by the set of symbols employed in it. Because no system of magick can express a complete set of axioms, there will always be results, or magical axioms, that cannot be defined in terms of its symbol set.

black massThis means that systems of equal power are interchangeable- there is no difference in the motive force, only in the method of applying it and the language used to express and evaluate it. Reducing the symbol set does not limit the power of a magical system, it merely reduces the number of axioms that it can represent and the language that is available to evaluate results. A simple example of this is in the most basic extension of the Elements as the signs of the Zodiac. An entirely Elemental system has four basic symbols to manipulate that cover very broad areas of governance, limiting the number of concepts that can be defined in detail to very general principles. Each of the Elements has three of the signs attributed to it, representing active, stable and changeable forms of the Element. Extending the system to the signs of the zodiac allows a greater range of legibility in expressing the objective of a specific operation to subsets of those very general areas of governance. The greater range of expression allows for a more precise evaluation of the tangible results.

High Magick and Low Magick?

The basic misunderstanding of the source of the power of a magical system leads to categorizing them under the very general banners of high and low magick. The term high magick is thought to have been coined by Kenneth Grant to differentiate between traditional, Qabalah based formal magical systems and the newly emerging practice of witchcraft. The common conception that a simple system of magick, like the use of spells and charms is somehow a lower form of magick than Hermetic based ceremonial forms like the Golden Dawn system of magick misses the point altogether. If the symbol set available for constructing simple spells is capable of expressing an equal number of objectives as a complex system of ceremonial magick then it is equal in power to, and interchangeable with it.

red-candles-wallpapers_6392_1600 (Copy)In practice this is rarely if ever the case and in fact most of the forms of magick that generally fall under the heading of low magick tend to be derivative and partial forms of more comprehensive magical systems. A good example of this is the popular practice of candle magick that first came to prominence in the 1970s via the popular works on practical magick of Raymond Buckland. In this simple system, candles are ascribed to planetary influences by their colors. The operational objectives of the operations of candle magick are expressed by the juxtaposition and movement of different colored candles to infer the rearrangement of the planetary forces in such a way as to represent the result. There are a set of rules that govern the consistency of these movements and of the handling of the candles in general, all of which combines into a moderately practical and simple, apparently stand alone magical system.

Closer inspection reveals that it is just a very narrow subset of the Elemental symbols used by more comprehensive Hermetic systems of magick. The standard planetary colors are those of the Queen Scale of colors from the Golden Dawn that is itself drawn from the very traditional sources of the works of Agrippa, Albertus Magnus and Plato. But the limitation of the symbol set of candle magic limits its ability to represent objectives legibly making it a much less powerful system than those from which it derives its symbol set. It isn’t that candle magick is any less powerful in operation than a more complex form of ceremonial magick; it just has much less legibility and precision.

Magick and the Real World

enochiantabletsAll of this implies that the more comprehensive a system is the more power that it will have, but this is only true to a point. While a well developed system of magick based on the symbol set of the Qabalah (like the Golden Dawn) will have an immensely greater range of expression than a book of simple spells like those in John Horner’s system in The Long Lost Friend, there is a critical mass at which a symbol set becomes too expansive to be practical for use. A huge system of magick like the Golden Dawn Enochian method of magick is on the edge of practical complexity simply because the number of possible variations of symbols available takes a long time and a lot of effort to grasp and employ legibly and accurately.

Eclectically combining small systems of magick into a conglomerate practice is also fraught with potential conflicts, rendering only the appearance of a comprehensive unity with any genuine cohesiveness. Even small inconsistencies of the correspondent meanings of individual symbols in the sets used by the various micro systems set up conflicts that degrade the legibility of the expressed intention. On the other hand, standardizing these correspondences doesn’t create a new comprehensive magical system; it merely delineates a subset of an existing comprehensive system. For instance, using the color correspondences from the Golden Dawn system to govern color symbolism across several micro systems of magick essentially makes them a partial component of the greater Golden Dawn whole, and probably not a very effective one.

Magick Old and New

This interpretation of the power of magical systems directly challenges the notion that ancient magick is somehow more efficacious. In effect, trying to return to some ancient form of magical practice (if such a thing is actually possible) discards a great deal of the development of the symbol set that has occurred through the evolution of modern esotericism. This is because modern occult symbols correspond to a modern world view that includes a deeper understanding of the universe and our place in it. At the same time, scraps of ancient magick and limited magical systems are of little value in comparison to comprehensive systems and are unlikely to work well in concert with one another.

Goetia frontpageThe objective of modern magick is also very different to ancient practices. Contemporary esoteric practices tend towards personal or spiritual development rather than material ends. Most of the powers that are ascribed to the spirits of the Lesser Key of Solomon, like flying through the air, or communicating at a distance, are no longer the concern of magick whereas Gnosis has become a central goal of Theurgic contemporary magical systems. In order for this to be achievable, the chosen magical system must have a symbol set that is able to represent the entire course of that spiritual development in a language that makes this traditionally mystical goal legible in a ceremonial form.

Setting Magical Goalposts

This does not mean that any one system is better than any other system, only that they operate on a different scale. Because there can be no complete, and consistent system of magick, they merely represent alternate symbol sets of varying sizes. Choosing the appropriate magical method isn’t about employing the most powerful one available, it is best determined by choosing the method that can express the objective with the greatest legibility.

If the overall goal of magick is to be material then the system best employed will use a symbol set that correlates to material objectives. If the overall goal of magick is Theurgic then the symbol set must extend from that material world to the Crown and beyond. In both instances the motive force that drives the magick does not derive from the power of the magical system but from the entropy of the magician himself.

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Evaluating Divinity in the Aeon of Horus

Isis the Star Goddess- A O SpareThe 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

Complementary Nothings

Aleister Crowley - The Book Of The LawThe 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

horusThe 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

divider_hadit

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

The Four WorldsThis 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

sign-of-silenceAt 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.

Horus the ElderThe 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

stele_of_revealingThis 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.

Solitary Enlightenment

walking across the desertThelema 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

DianeAntonMarch221970The 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

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.

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Magickal Momentum

Casting Spells

Waving the magick wands

Popular books on occultism are full of spells and incantations that purport to perform all manner of miraculous magical shortcuts to all of the desirable things in life. These sorts of instructions imply that sex, money, power and spiritual enlightenment are all only a wave of a wand and a few mumbled lines of poorly rhyming doggerel away. It only takes a small amount of experience in the practice of magick to understand the fallaciousness of this approach. Magicians with a talent for the art soon abandon this base style of magick for the long, certain method of working to accumulate momentum towards the goal, rather than trying to attain a success in a single stroke.

No aspect of magick makes this clearer than the course of initiation that is central to the practice of any fully developed system of magick. At the same time, common misunderstanding about the role of initiation means that few magicians grasp the connection between the momentum that it establishes and the smaller, practical magick that most magicians dabble in.

Initiating Movement

From the perspective of a novice, the rites of initiation that lie ahead on the road to becoming an Adept in the art of magick are potentially life changing experiences. It is easy for the inexperienced magician to make the fundamental mistake of ascribing more of an efficacious influence to passing through an initiation ceremony than it really imparts. This seems to be especially so in magick systems that have fewer incremental grades, in which the passage from Neophyte to Adept is achieved in a single step.

There is also a pervasive attitude that these sorts of initiation ceremonies are really only a type of affirmation of having reached a level of attainment through the magician’s previous studies. In some minor respects this is so, but in a larger context it altogether misses the point of performing an initiation ceremony- to create a beginning. So, while an initiation ceremony does in fact represent a distinct before and after moment in the career of a magician, it does not confer any magickal powers or enlightenment by its single performance.

candidate for initiation

Conferring the wisdom of the Ancients?

If an initiation ceremony does not confer immediate spiritual advancement, what influence does it have? The key to understanding the mechanism at work in initiation begins by examining the word itself. Initiation, meaning to introduce someone to a particular activity or skill, most specifically into a secret or obscure society or group, typically with a ritual, derives from the Latin word initiatus which has the same meaning. This word comes from the root initium, meaning beginning or entrance. This implies that what the rite of initiation intends is not that it will bestow enlightenment upon the candidate, but rather that it will introduce him to the beginning, or the entryway to the path that leads to that enlightened state.

I know not who I am. I know not whence I came. I know not whither I go. I seek–but what I do not know. I am blind and bound, but I have heard one cry rising through Eternity: Arise and follow me!1

All true ceremonies of initiation bear this out. The newly installed Golden Dawn Neophyte is immediately warned that he has merely begun to understand magick and that the Neophyte Ceremony has merely set him in motion towards acquiring skill in the art. Crowley goes even further, saying “It should be stated that these Grades are not necessarily attained fully, and in strict consecution, or manifested wholly on all planes2“, implying that even a succession of such initiations does not impart any magical powers, that these are in fact earned by persistence: “In such a case the A.’.A.’. would refuse to swerve from Its system; the Aspirant would be compelled to remain at the Barrier until he succeeded in breaking it down, though a new incarnation were necessary to permit him to do so2“. Contrast this with the implication of a less rigorous discipline: “Take heed, O Lords of the Watchtowers of the East, (name), properly prepared, will be made a Priestess and a Witch3“, in which the expectation of the candidate is that they will arrive at a new level of ability. Herein lies the source of misapprehension that permeates contemporary occult literature that magick can be effectively applied to meet material expectations. It is the difference between beginning a journey and arriving at a destination, and it is this erroneous perspective that skews the novice’s expectation of what is possible to achieve from within the magick circle.

Spiritual Entropy

An object at rest will remain at rest unless acted on by an unbalanced force. An object in motion continues in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.
Acceleration is produced when a force acts on a mass. The greater the mass of the object being accelerate) the greater the amount of force needed to accelerate the object.
For every action there is an equal and opposite re-action.
- Newton’s Three Laws of Motion

Momentum

Every action has an equal and opposite reaction

The principle at work in this, and in fact in all types of magick is momentum. A magical ceremony takes an inert object and imparts motion in a specific direction. The amount of motion that this endows is dependent upon the amount, and accuracy of the energy applied to it. The efficacy of the act of imparting motion depends upon the amount of inertia that resists its impetus. A small change might be achieved with only the need for a modicum of force while a major magical objective, like initiation, would necessarily require more force. Expecting a major, life changing experience from a single magick rite ignores these considerations.

Similarly, the amount of spiritual energy needed to make a material change is likely to exceed the material effort that it takes to achieve the same end. Material objectives have the greatest natural resistance to motion, requiring the greatest amount of force to set act on them effectively. This fact highlights the flaw in the idea that chanting a spell for a few minutes can have any sort of immediate material effect. Material goals require material actions.

And Jesus answering said unto them, Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s. And they marveled at him.4

crystal gazing

The search for the Self

Even when the magical means is fitted to the ends, the laws that govern motion remain in effect. While each soul is capable of being set in motion towards its Unknown Crown, the natural state of its existence tends towards being inert. The effect of material existence on the soul is to dissipate its entropy in mundane concerns. In fact, genuine initiation ceremonies recognize that the candidate is likely unaware, or at best dimly aware of the existence of the spiritual unity that is inherent at the core of their being. It remains concealed under layers of the material façade that stands between our conceptions of our identity and true Self Knowledge. Stripping away these layers is the object of initiation and to penetrate them requires the application of a sufficiently consistent force. It also requires that the correct type of force be applied, in incrementally measured amounts.

Expecting a material result from such a simple magical effort does not take into account that the natural tendency of everything that is set in motion is to return to a state of inert uniformity. This is especially so with the application of motive force to spiritual ends because of the subjective intangibility of the energy that is involved. In order to overcome this sort of spiritual entropy it is necessary to develop sufficient momentum to move all of the way to the goal.

Momentum and True Will

The way to build momentum towards a magical objective is to continue to apply motive force to it until it is sufficient enough that the result becomes inevitable. A large part of an adept’s magical ability comes from the accumulation of momentum that has resulted from steady, consistent and patient practice. The first initiation establishes the direction of the movement, the enduring practice gives that movement its momentum.

Arthur Pyle-The Enchanter Merlin

The mechanism of the magick

The magical mechanism that achieves this development of momentum is the structure of the ceremony itself. In Hermetic systems like A.’.A.’. and the Golden Dawn, the initiation ceremony provides the foundation for all of the practical magicks. These practical operations substitute some talismata in the place of the candidate and focus the type of energy involved on a specific set of ideas that correspond to the stated objective of the performance, but in all of the major points they are an iteration of that central ceremony. This means that the magician employs the same magick that was applied to himself at the beginning, and so each operation imparts momentum to the original motion that resulted from the initiation ceremony. Repeated applications eventually impart an irresistible amount of momentum to the magician’s progress, so long as the objectives remain constant with the overall goal of the initiate.

Obviously, any magical efforts that run contrary to the established direction of the magician’s momentum will require an inordinate amount of force in order to succeed. Similarly, any material objectives that are contrary to the natural motion of the material universe are likely to be impossible to achieve- you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. This implies that we inherit a natural momentum when we incarnate into this material existence, our True Will. This natural momentum is in consonance with the movement of the entire universe.

Man takes his law from the Earth; the Earth takes its law from Heaven; Heaven takes its law from the Tao. The law of the Tao is its being what it is5.

black magick

The black magick of making silk purses

From this it is clear that only those magical operations that take at least a consonant direction with the magician’s True Will have any chance of success. As True Will is the most efficient and balanced motion that it is possible for an individual to make, it must therefore have the greatest entropy at the individual’s center of gravity (existentially speaking). This center, the Self, Hadit, the Holy Guardian Angel or whatever other name it might go by, is that Unknown Crown that the candidate sets as his ultimate objective at his first initiation. It is also obvious that efforts to discover the nature of that True Will, to attune material existence to use its momentum, must in themselves be at least in part an expression of True Will itself.

Another factor that must be considered is that the magician is limited, in the current incarnation at least, by temporal existence- there is a limited amount of energy available to apply to magick. Even though it may be possible to access a limitless source of power, and to act as its conduit, the finite nature of Assiah, in which eternity is an ever moving cycle of creation and destruction, implies that there is a limit to the individual capacity to engage with that source. This aspect of the magical equation more than any other makes it essential to develop sufficient momentum to overcome the natural entropic tendency of materially manifest spiritual energy to return to a neutral, inert state.

I sailed over the sky of Nu in the car called Millions – of – Years, and I saw not any creature upon Seb that was equal to me. The venom of my fang is the inheritance of my father, and of my father’s father; and how shall I give it unto thee? Live thou and thy children as I and my fathers have lived, even unto an hundred millions of generations, and it may be that the mercy of the Mighty Ones may bestow upon thy children a drop of the poison of eld6.

Wielding the Wand of Power

Hermes and his Caduceus

Weilding the Wand of Power

This is why, in practical terms, the Adept at magick may appear to achieve substantial results from relatively minor efforts. In fact, the latest minor effort is only the last in a long series of connected operations that have all tended toward a single objective. Each operation has contributed momentum to the overall movement of the magician, making it more difficult to set an objective that is contrary to the established direction. Because each operation is successively more closely aligned with his True Will, it will have the advantage of using the established momentum and naturally require less force to achieve its stated goals. Without this thread to link magical operations, the objectives have no unified objectives and a great deal of energy is lost in deviating from the established magical momentum.

References:
1. Aleister Crowley, Liber DCLXXI vel Pyramidos
2. Aleister Crowley, One Star in Sight, Magick in Theory and Practice, Appendix II
3. Gerald B. Gardner, Gardnerian Book of Shadows
4. Mark 12:17, King James Bible
5. Lao Tzu, The Tao Te Ching, Chapter 25, verse 4, translated by James Legge
6. Aleister Crowley, Liber LXV Liber Cordis Sincte Serpente- The Book of the Heart Girt with a Serpent, Chapter V, verse 53

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