Tangible Results


Conjuration or self indulgence?

Magickal practitioners of all denominations through the ages have made grand claims about the wondrous effects that can be achieved by the use of the occult arts. A quick flip through books on the dark arts from the Picatrix through to the latest bit of fluffily regurgitated spells, charms and incantations taking the guise of some sort of Book of Shadows make claims for everything from attracting love or money through to being able to fly or to take the form of an animal at will. Obviously many of these sorts of objectives are anachronistic and wildly exaggerated, but it does raise the question of what is acceptable as a tangible result in magick?

The Limitations of Magick

In order to achieve tangible results with magick it is necessary to first set achievable objectives. Magick, like everything else is governed by the same laws of physics that govern the rest of the universe and the expected result of a magickal operation has to be in harmony with the energy that can be put into it. This energy is dictated by the limitations of the magician’s ability and the limitations of what is achievable with magick generally.

In very general terms, magickal operations have two types of objective. The most explicit objectives are for outcomes that fill the pages of classical occult literature like wealth, power and other outward and material goals. Popular books of spells are stuffed with these sorts of magickal operations designed to attract love, success, luck and every other material influence that seems too elusive to achieve with ordinary, everyday means.

The second type of magickal objective is for outcomes that are subjective and inward, that result in some sort of experience, epiphany or shift in awareness that invokes greater clarity of the Self. These sorts of results would appear to be much harder to class as tangible but, in fact, it may be harder to make a demonstrable connection between a magickal operation and a perceived material result than between a magickal practice and an inner transformative effect.

Your visions will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.- Carl Jung

Precise Goal Setting

ceremonial magician

The Practical Ceremonial Magician at Work

A large part of the potential success of a magickal operation is determined by the precision with which the objectives have been set out. If an operation is planned that has the goal of something very general, like ‘prosperity’ or ‘abundance’ (very popular in books of witches’ spells) then any bit of random luck may seem like a tangible result. On the other hand, using magick to attract a precisely defined item, like a specific book (very popular in old grimiors of magick), has a directly identifiable measure of success built into the objective. Failure to procure the volume equates to the ineffectiveness of the operation, and vice versa.

Even so, success isn’t necessarily attributable to the magickal operation even if the material conditions for success have been met. In most cases the result will have been achieved by involving other people, or using some other sort of material influence, and it is impossible to determine if the result would have been any different if the magickal operation had not been performed.

Taking the view that the magick ’caused the person’ to take the actions that led to the desired result introduces an entity to the analysis that cannot be proven to exist and so Occam’s Razor says that it is more likely to be a fortuitous coincidence than a tangible result of a magick operation. Unless the result comes about directly in response to the operation then the link between the magick and the outcome is too weak to be definitively called tangible.

On the other hand, magick that has for its goal some inner effect or change, that sets the objective of expanding the magician’s knowledge of magick, of initiating in the awareness a greater understanding of the Self, has a much greater chance of achieving a successful outcome. The most basic reason is about the magickal links that are involved in these sorts of operations.

Let us take a very simple example of a Magical Act: that of a man blowing his nose. What are the conditions of the success of the Operation? Firstly, that the man’s Will should be to blow his nose; secondly, that he should have a nose capable of being blown; thirdly, that he should have at command an apparatus capable of expressing his spiritual Will in terms of material force, and applying that force to the object which he desires to affect. His Will may be as strong and concentrated as that of Jupiter, and his nose may be totally incapable of resistance; but unless the link is made by the use of his nerves and muscles in accordance with psychological, physiological, and physical law, the nose will remain unblown through all eternity.- Aleister Crowley, Magick in Theory and Practice

Viewed in this light, it will be much easier, and more likely, that a link can be made between the objective and the magician’s inner self than between the magickal ceremony that is performed and an outer, material entity. That is to say; a magickal operation that is performed to change the self only needs to operate on a single plane, that of the individual operator, and so it is more likely to succeed. To be successful at something as simple as influencing the mind of another person requires the formation of a link on a second plane that incorporates that other person. To achieve a classical effect like causing it to rain involves creating a link between two vastly separated planes and so the likelihood of success is actually very low. For this reason, magickal operations with an inner, subjective goal are most likely to produce genuinely tangible results. (Whether they are demonstrably provable as true or valid is another question).

Layers of Success

The Doubting of Thomas

The Doubting of Thomas

Ultimately, as is the case with everything else, nothing in magick is black and white; there are innumerable shades of grey. The success of an operation may have many layers. There may be a visible effect that is observed during the performance of a ceremony that isn’t directly connected to the desired outcome. If a magician calls Bartzabel and sees the beginnings of his manifestation in the incense smoke of the temple it may be compelling, although subjective proof of the veracity of the method even if the Spirit of Mars doesn’t perform the task that is being set for him. In this case the operation might be considered a partial success.

Often the success of an operation is not perceived until it can be viewed from an alternative perspective well after the fact. Most practitioners would have had the experience of looking at the notes for a divination that was done at some time in the past and seeing how the correct interpretation of events, that were still in the future at the time that it was cast, can easily be interpreted from the result. As the objective of the divination was to be informed ahead of time, a retrospective result like this could hardly be deemed to be a success, but it may be called a tangible result.

As most material results are difficult to ascribe directly to a magickal operation, often coincidental occurrences that seem to be in synch with the magician’s efforts may be misinterpreted as a tangible result. The fact that the operation links the magician’s will directly to an outside plane of existence infers that the true test of veracity for the issue of even the most materially oriented magickal operation is the meaning that the result has for the magician, and perhaps even for other people.

Producing Legible Results

A successful magickal operation that has an inner, or transformative effect as its stated goal will, by its nature, produce a meaningful result. Operations of initiation fall into this class and a successful result may be very subtle and invisible from the outside. In these sorts of operation the measure of success is largely subjective as only the initiate is able to determine if any noticeable change has taken place within themselves, and whether it represents the outcome of the magickal ceremony that was performed. In many instances it is impossible to convey the nature of the change that this sort of magick has caused, there is just a vague, but certain sense that the magician has been changed in some way. In this case it becomes important to understand what the change means and the clarity with which that meaning is apparent to the magician.

The Sword & The Serpent

The Sword & The Serpent

When I performed the magickal operations that resulted in the Visions of Sepher Yetzirah as I recorded them in The Sword & The Serpent, each of the operations had an explicit level of meaning that was apparent to me in the entities that I encountered as well as the environments that I encountered through the numbers, shapes, colors and other correspondences that they displayed. Often, significant words or names were communicated to me by the entities that inhabit these astral planes that had another layer of meaning concealed in their Gematria and the Yetzirac attributions of their letters. This in itself is a tangible result that is in line with the stated objective of the operations which was to explore the astral planes that correspond to the Tarot Trumps and return with unique information about them.

Another instance of a legible result that was also materially tangible occurred while performing a magick ceremony that employed the classical opening of the temple from Ritual 671, the Pyramidos Ceremony. The object of the opening is to conjure and empower the astral form of the magician so that it is this, and not the physical being that performs the operation. With the advancing years I have acquired an astigmatism that necessitates reading glasses and so while performing the operation I was wearing them to keep my place in the ceremony as I went along. At the end of the opening portion of the ceremony I suddenly found that my eyesight was blurred and I angrily tossed my spectacles on the altar and continued, not noticing until later that, after removing my eyeglasses I could see to read perfectly well again. This result was certainly explicitly tangible and, to some extent it also indicated the success of the opening which is a smaller ceremony in its own right. In the end it was little more than an affirmation that I had successfully fulfilled the requirements of a proper opening by the pyramid but it is a tangible result.

Subjective Tangibility with Objective Truth

In the final analysis, except in rare instances (like the reception of Liber Al vel Legis by Crowley) the tangibility of the results of magick will be subjective. This means that the real measure of the value of even the most tangible results will be the truths that they reveal to the magician. These results may be highly individual and interpretive outcomes that holds little or no meaning to anyone else but the operator but the truths that they reveal should have a wider, objective meaning.

Posted in Books of Magick, Lessons in Magick, Magick, Occult, Paths of the Serpent | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Rebranding Thelema

Or Why OTO is Getting into Bed with Gerald Gardner

Equinox frontpiece

The Thelema Brand of Occultism

For decades, the Ordo Templi Orientis, or OTO has been making a tidy sum by publishing the works of Aleister Crowley. They have done an excellent job of preserving these obscure texts and making them available to new generations of students of the occult arts. The internet has changed their relevance in the preservation of these once virtually unobtainable texts as they are now available virtually.

At the same time, the free dissemination of the books of instruction in Crowley’s personal brand of magick has marginalized OTO as the practice of Thelema has been taken up by unconnected individuals around the world, usually working with the material in isolation, and possessing no affiliation with OTO, nor do they particularly desire one. OTO have also seen the boom in interest in modern witchcraft as a growth opportunity, and some factions have made much ado about the meetings between Gerald Gardner and the Beast, towards the end of his life at Netherwoods, as a vehicle for connecting OTO and Wicca.

This drive to rewrite their history to be more palatable to a contemporary environment has made OTO much less relevant to the bulk of Thelemites, especially among those who are practicing the A.’.A.’. curriculum of study and practice. The divide between the practitioners and the clerical adherents of Thelema has been characterized by a pointless argument over the change of one word in the text of the premier Thelemite Holy Book that has done nothing to repair the image of OTO in the eyes of the average Thelemite.

Publishing the Writings of the Beast

Holy Books

Keeping the Beast in Print

While keeping the Beast’s writings in print was originally a labor of love for the people that worked to preserve the legacy of the Great Beast, as time passed, the attitude became more mercenary. The question of who had the right to profit from the publication of Crowley’s books became the basis of an enduring schism in OTO that ended up dragging the Order through the courts.

In the long run, these arguments were rather pointless as the copyrights to Crowley’s works are in the public domain. As he was an undischarged bankrupt when he died in 1947, his assets became the property of Her Majesty and so they are in the public domain. This fact was confirmed to me by Judi O’Donnell of the copyright department at Samuel Weiser, who in reply to my enquiry, wrote; “Aleister Crowley’s books I believe are public domain”.

Regardless of who owns the rights to the published works, in 2017 the whole thing becomes a moot point as his entire catalogue goes out of copyright simply because 70 years will have elapsed since his death. Any perceived rights, regardless of how ill conceived, will be valueless and anyone will be able to publish their own editions of his books. Indications are that everyone who wants to will do so as well. Decades after his death, Crowley is selling more books than he did while he was alive.

Ownership of the Aeon of Horus


The Original Owner of the Aeon of Horus

The schisms between Thelemite factions has been driven by the recent revivification of the old “Kill/Fill Debate” that has generated some spirited conversation about the change of one letter, of one word, in the “official” typescript of the Book of the Law. It is the determination of “official” that has really been the issue.

It has been seen by many as a blatant grab for “official ownership of Thelema by OTO, something that seems pretty far fetched considering that the nature of its discipline is so ‘Self’ oriented, and individual interpretation of the Book of the Law is central to its creed. One of the leading luminaries in the occult world of Thelema, Rodney Orpheus recently blogged about “serious Thelemites” and clumsily dismissed those who didn’t consider it to be a religion by insisting that because it has a prophet that his message must be religious in nature. In reality, the word prophet comes from the Greek word, προφητης prophetes, meaning, pro ‘before’ & phētēs ‘speaker’, and indicates a spokesman. This may imply a god, but this isn’t implicit in the meaning and restricting it in that way runs counter to the spirit of the interpretation of the Book of the Law that it itself espouses.

I put the question to Professor Ronald Hutton, author of Triumph of the Moon, who classed Wicca as the “first religion that Britain has given to the world”. His reply was elucidating; “Thelema certainly could be considered a religion. I did not put it into the frame when I wrote “Triumph” because it hardly existed in Britain, and certainly did not as a coherent tradition. Subsequently I learned more about it, and put the question to adherents of it whether it was a religious system, and got a sharp division of opinion leading to a total absence of conclusion. This being so, I have still not included it firmly among religions“. The main arguments against it being a religion are the lack of a central praxis, in fact adherents are directed to discover their own individual spiritual practice, their True Will and to “do that, and do nothing else”. There is also a complete lack of a central “authority” to represent “official” Thelema.

Conterminous with this has been a reworking of the history of OTO and A.’.A.’. in an attempt to conflate the two and bring Crowley’s magickal order under the “official’ umbrella of OTO. This effort has been scuttled due in a large part to the availablity of the A.’.A.’.’s instructional texts on the internet, and the virtual insistence for practitioners to work in isolation from one another. As the online mantra of A.’.A.’. seems to be; “Do the Work and the Genuine A.’.A.’. Will Find You“, it seems unlikely that there will be any “official” line of Thelemite magick any time soon.

Gerald the Pretender

Gardner- flying monkey

Playing with the Goetia

Most surprising is the effort to conflate Thelema and Wicca via the long dead debate over how much influence Crowley had over Gerald Gardner when he invented his modern witchcraft cult. In his controversial book, A True History of Witchcraft, Allen T. Greenfield asserts that Crowley and Gardner actively cooked up Wicca as a popular form of Thelemite worship for the masses. The evidence just doesn’t support this version of events as Crowley’s diary for the day of their first meeting merely notes that he had met with Gardner who had introduced himself as a Freemason. There is no evidence of him having been admitted to OTO, nor of him having been chartered to establish any line of OTO in Britain.

Gardner OTO Charter

The forged charter

The newly “official” version of events is that Gardner “may” have been admitted to OTO and that his famous charter “may” have been signed by Crowley. This is quite a turnaround from their stance in the past and isn’t supported by the events that followed the Beast’s death in 1947. Gardner presented his much vaunted charter to Crowley’s immediate successor, Karl Germer, who promptly made Kenneth Grant the Outer Head of the Order of OTO for Britain. If the charter had been genuine then Grant, who ultimately turned out to be a poor choice, at least for OTO, would have been unnecessary. An A.’.A.’. adept that I am acquainted with has told me that after he inspected the charter that he became convinced that it is a forgery. As Gardner used it as one of the draw cards to his Museum of Witchcraft on the Isle of Man, he had a vested interest in promoting its validity regardless of how he had come by it.

The other claims about Gardner paying the Beast to write rituals for his new religion fall flat simply because the rituals don’t seem to exist anywhere. The claims of Gardner’s high rank in OTO also run aground with his errant use of a cut down version of the Gnostic Mass as the original 3rd Degree initiation ceremony in his new cult. Surely a highly initiated magician would have understood the basic difference between a ceremony of initiation and a mass.

Gardner’s limited understanding of Crowley’s work is further highlighted by the poor scholarship employed in his Ye Bok Ye Art Magical, in which he quotes Crowley extensively and with limited relevence.In addition, many of the Hebrew letters in the names have been miscopied, rendering them illegible. Hardly the hallmark of a master qaballist who Crowley would choose to partner in starting a new folk religion. In fact, there is no evidence to show that Crowley was interested in Gardner and his ideas for a new religion at all.

Thelema for Eclectic Tastes

sexy vintage witch

Gratuitous Eclecticism

The anecdotal evidence, and my own experience, indicates that a large percentage of the people that are becoming interested in Thelema now are finding it through their interest in witchcraft. In sharp contrast to the first Wiccans, who went to great pains to expunge every trace of the Great Wild Beast from their praxis (however unsuccessfully), modern witches have evolved into solitary, eclectic practitioners who have no specific traditional affiliations. Some academics estimate that they make up over 60% of everyone that refers to themselves as a ‘witch’.

This new wave of modern witches are far more open to the once disparaged practices of Crowley and his magickal orders. Many of these eclectic mysticks will get a great deal from joining OTO, and they often find the structure and discipline in A.’.A.’. that they have been looking for. On that basis, making OTO more witch friendly is a clever marketing strategy, but it doesn’t do a lot for their credibility as a repository of the Law of the Aeon of Horus. I don’t imagine that it makes them any more acceptable to traditional Wiccans either as they seem to be stuck in denial about the huge debt that Wicca owes to Crowley, even if he didn’t take any direct interest.

In its most direct form, Thelema is simply following the credo, Do What Thou Wilt and so it fails to perform any of the basic functions of a religion. There is no orthodox praxis that is universally recognized, no central authority that oversees the interpretation of the Law of Thelema and, most notably, no god. It would seem that this would be a central perquisite of any new religion. Thelemite practices are theurgic, not religious. There is no god but man.

In this light, it is hard to see any way that Thelema can be conflated with modern witchcraft. On the surface, Thelema does seem to have a gender polarity to the pantheon that it describes but, on closer inspection these personas all reveal themselves to be different forms of Horus, who is himself only a personification of the totality of existence and non-existence. The Thelemite sees the god and himself as inseparable entities, thus there is no need to rejoin (religion, from Latin, religare, to rejoin) with it, but rather to become aware of it. In contrast, most witches believe in both a goddess and a god, often whole pantheons of gods, all of whom are denied by the Book of the Law. Horus is a blasphemy against all the gods of men because he has announced that they don’t exist.

Another glaring incompatibility is the differing perspectives of Thelemites and witches. Modern witchcraft celebrates the wheel of the year, the Elemental passage of the seasons and focuses on ‘grounding’ and connecting to Mother Earth. Thelema is focused on transcending that same Earthly apprehension to assume the Solar perspective of a ‘star’.


Jesus is on board with Thelema

The apprehension of Thelema as anathema to the Christian era is also skewed as the Book of the Law affirms the validity of the Christian era by assigning it to its proper place in the procession of the aeons. The title of the prophet and his wife come from the Book of Revelation and the text quotes St. John the Divine directly. Thelema is the affirmation of what came before it, not the denial, and is a continuation of its essential current.

It is also an entirely modern construction and the names of the ‘gods’ that are used are only remotely connected to any genuinely ancient Egyptian deities. The only ancient part of Thelema is the Stele of Ankh-af-na-Khonsu that Crowley described as the talisman of the Aeon of Horus. Its concepts about the supremacy of Will are essentailly contemporary. Considering most witches’ desire to return to an ‘old religion’, this makes Thelema and witchcraft very odd bedfellows.

Bill Breeze can’t rewrite history no matter how many web pages he edits and whatever becomes the officially sanctioned typescript version of the Book of the Law still won’t alter the handwritten version one bit. On that level it seems like a rather futile and pointless effort to make, and one that will just be corrected at some time in the future. Breeze may find that his footnote in the history books is for introducing a typo to the Book of the Law.

I don’t see that Thelema, especially A.’.A.’. with its strict adherence to a difficult discipline, can ever have a very wide appeal. I suppose that must be a part of the drive to become the ‘official’ arbiters of the Law of Horus; it provides the chance to become the elite of some sort of elite. In the end, it seems to me that trying to organize Thelemites into some sort of central religion is a lot like trying to herd cats.

Posted in A.'.A.'., Ankh af na Khonsu, Books of Magick, Eclectic Witches, Magick, Occult, The Book of the Law, Thelema, Wicca | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

The Fallacy of Secrecy


The Doubting of St. ThomasCaravaggio

revelation of the Truth

There has never been a time when instruction in the arts of magick was more freely available than the present. The information age has made it easy to access huge libraries of occult manuals and to connect with other students of magick to share our experiences and find guidance in the practice. Online forums and social media groups devoted to the study of the occult arts now openly discuss every aspect of magickal practice with an openness that was once the antithesis of correct occult discipline. Under these conditions, maintaining the pretense of secrecy is, at best, a  self indulgent illusion and, at its worst, the excuse for elitism and the separatism that leads to fundamentalist sectarianism that is the polar opposite of the true nature of magick.

This book is for
for every man, woman, and child.

My former work has been misunderstood, and its scope limited, by my use of technical terms. It has attracted only too many dilettanti and eccentrics, weaklings seeking in “Magic” an escape from reality. I myself was first consciously drawn to the subject in this way. And it has repelled only too many scientific and practical minds, such as I most designed to influence.

is for

I have written this book to help the Banker, the Pugilist, the Biologist, the Poet, the Navvy, the Grocer, the Factory Girl, the Mathematician, the Stenographer, the Golfer, the Wife, the Consul — and all the rest — to fulfil themselves perfectly, each in his or her own proper function.- Aleister Crowley, Magick in Theory and Practice, Introduction

One of the most commonly misunderstood concepts of magick is the need for secrecy to preserve the “Mysteries” from being profaned by the uninitiated. This archaic concept has had such an enduring influence that, even in this digital age of immediate access to previously unobtainable books of magickal instruction, it is still common for magickal groups to insist upon onerous oaths of secrecy being included as a condition of admittance. This fallacious need to keep the Mysteries quarantined for the use of elite few that are “qualified” to have access to them calls the validity of the society that requires such secrecy from its adepts into question on several levels.

The Difference Between Silence and Secrecy


Transparent Silence

A great deal of the difficulty that many novices have with this concept is that they have confused secrecy with silence. On the surface, these may seem to be similar exercises but upon closer examination they are revealed as completely disconnected ideas altogether.

Silence is the first, and most difficult of the Four Powers of the Sphinx that the Neophyte must master on his path to adeptship. This silence requires no secrecy for its power to be accessed by the magician; it is not the outward silence of remaining mute, it is the inner silence that comes from stilling the inner noise that fills our lives with a continually distracting static.

But now concerning Silence, o my Son, I will have a further Word with thee. For thereby we mean not the Muteness of him that hath a Dumb Devil. This Silence is the Dragon of thine unconscious Nature, not only the Ecstasy or Death of thine Ego in the Operation of its Organ, but also, in its Unity with thy Lion, the Truth of thy Self. Thus is thy Silence the Way of he Tao, and all Speech a deviation therefrom.- Aleister Crowley, The Book of Wisdom or Folly, Ch. 161

This conflation of the value of silence with the falsity of secrecy is not only totally unnecessary, but it is also harmful to the overall practice of the magician. The unending muteness that is demanded by secrecy is anathema to the power of secrecy which is a transient phase in the greater ceremony of initiation.

Now, o my Son, mark thou well this that I will write for thine Advertisement and Behoof, that this Silence, though it be Perfection of Delight, is but the Gestation of thy Lion, and in thy Season thou must dare, and come forth to the Battle. Else, were not this Practice of Silence akin to the Formula of Separateness of the black Brothers?- Aleister Crowley, The Book of Wisdom or Folly, Ch. 162

The Natural Inviolability of the True Mysteries


The Unassailable Mystery

The argument that the Mysteries themselves require secrecy to defend them from coming into the possession of the profane relies on them having some sort of universal application. The idea that certain words, gestures or symbols have some intrinsic magick power is little more than the ignorant superstition of the uninformed. Any Mystery worth its salt cannot be communicated with a quick whisper in the candidate’s ear at a mid-week initiation ceremony in some suburban lounge room. True Mysteries can only be apprehended, much less understood, by careful contemplation and the dedicated discipline of hard work. This is so in real life just as much as it is in the magick temple.

The central practice of magick is initiation, and no true initiation comes from the ministrations of a mortal. The only true initiator is the representative of the unity that each of us has concealed within. This unknown Crown goes by a variety of names; the Higher Self, Augoeides, Atman and, among most Thelemites, the Holy Guardian Angel, a term that I myself prefer as it best describes by own experience.

Unto men, according unto their deserts, and the first excellency of their soul, God hath appointed a good Governor or Angel, from among the orders of those that are blessed.- Emericus Casaubon- A True & Faithful Relation of What Passed for Many Years between Dr. John Dee and Some Spirits

As each of us has a guardian that is unique to the individual, so too is the method for connecting with, and receiving instruction from, this governor a unique experience for each of us. The object of studying elementary magick is to develop the skills that are necessary to be able to create the individual method that will succeed.

2. In all systems of religion is to be found a system of Initiation, which may be defined as the process by which a man comes to learn that unknown Crown.
3. Though none can communicate either the knowledge or the power to achieve this, which we may call the Great Work, it is yet possible for initiates to guide others.
4. Every man must overcome his own obstacles, expose his own illusions. Yet others may assist him to do both, and they may enable him altogether to avoid many of the false paths, leading no whither, which tempt the weary feet of the uninitiated pilgrim. They can further insure that he is duly tried and tested, for there are many who think themselves to be Masters who have not even begun to tread the Way of Service that leads thereto.
5. Now the Great Work is one, and the Initiation is one, and the Reward is one, however diverse are the symbols wherein the Unutterable is clothed.- Liber 61 vel Causae

This means that for each of us the content of the Mysteries is unique and only able to be penetrated by our own individual methods. No amount of secrecy will make the Mysteries of the individual any more secure than they already are and artificially concealing them for the use of a chosen few who have been deemed fit for their reception by the accidental circumstances of their earthly life is merely ridiculous. The idea that certain words of power, names or magickal ceremonies have an intrinsic power that is universally applicable is equally as fallacious.

Speaking Our Own Mysteries


Initiation of True Will

All true High Magick is essentially theurgic and, rather than being a ceremonial act of worship, is a revelation of the inner divinity that is erroneously apprehended as separate from the unity of creation. The magick symbols and words of power that are used in these ceremonies, while often drawn from a common set, or based upon a broad system of correspondence, are unique to every magician. My magick words will very likely not have any effect in someone else’s Great Work. The magick words that each of us uses to develop the dialogue with the Holy Guardian Angel are, of necessity, unique to that individual conversation. Through the evolution of this dialogue each of us, in effect, speaks our own Mysteries, the depths of which cannot be plumbed by another living soul In this way, the magician speaks the words that invoke his own godhead and which create his own universe.

From a magical point of view, it is axiomatic that we have created the world in which we exist. Looking about himself, the magician can say “thus have I willed,” or “thus do I perceive,” or more accurately, “thus does my Kia manifest.”- Peter Carroll, Liber Null

On this basis it is obvious that no secret society can be in possession of any Mystery that will be of any more than a cursory value to anyone that is engaged in their Great Work. These societies and teachers of the occult arts that insist upon the magick power of their jealously guarded secrets are perpetrators of a fraud, espousing their privileged access to the keys to the kingdom while in reality they hinder the genuine progress of the student towards the unveiling of their own individual Light. While demanding their observance of the unassailable secret they deny them the true knowledge of the power of silence.

If then by thine Art thou canst conceal thyself in thine own Nature, this is Silence, this, and not Nullity of Consciousness, else were a Stone more perfect in Adeptship that thou.- Aleister Crowley, The Book of Wisdom or Folly, Ch. 162

Let the Silence Speech Beget

The Seal of A.'.A.'.

The Speech from the Silence

Because the true Mysteries cannot be revealed by any mortal being to another, and because of the static nature of secrecy, keeping these secrets is counter to making genuine progress in initiation. The aspirant that knocks at the door of a secret society that claims to dispense enlightenment via their trademarked secret words and names of power is looking in the wrong place. The allure of learning these secrets is akin to chasing shadows and the true revelation of the Light can only come from looking within.

The effect of secrecy has always been to obscure the truth of magick from the profane, skewing it in their imaginations by the denial of an informed understanding rather than preserving its sanctity. This secrecy, jealously guarded by those that have sought to restrict the Light rather than to share it as an example of the excellence of their discipline, has only perverted the understanding of magick among the uninitiated and made the work of the God into the diversions of the Devil.

Is a candle brought to be put under a bushel, or under a bed? and not to be set on a candlestick? For there is nothing hid, which shall not be manifested; neither was any thing kept secret, but that it should come abroad.- Mark 4:21-22

Now, from the experience that I have gained from my time on the Path, I have come to appreciate the instruction that I was given at the outset to be transparent. The wisdom of the adepts  that codified my magickal discipline, in insisting upon the open and frank discussion of initiation is even more important to me now than it was when I first entered the Order as a Probationer. As a student it enabled my teachers in magick to may the Way apparent to me and as a teacher it empowers me to help other to find their steps on the path to the Light.

He shall everywhere proclaim openly his connection with the A.’.A.’. and speak of It and Its principles (even so little as he understandeth) for that mystery is the enemy of truth.- Liber 185, Colegii Sanctii, Being The Tasks of the Grades and The Oaths Proper

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The Power of the Uninvoked Force

The arrangement of the temple of the ceremonial magician is entirely conceptual. All of the furnishings and the orientation of the magick circle that is constructed in the temple all derive their symbolic meanings from the particular system of magick that is being practiced. For most ceremonial magicians who use an Oriental Temple (that is, one that faces East), the symbolism of the positions, or stations, in their temple arrangement will be tied to the correlation with the rise and fall of the Light that they have. The Golden Dawn Hall of the Neophytes developed these principles to a high degree of complexity that makes it possible to symbolically express almost any intention by a movement or a gesture within its space.

The Symbolism of the Oriental Temple

The Stations of the Hall of the Neophytes

The Arrangement of the Golden Dawn Hall of the Neophytes

The arrangement of the temple in the Golden Dawn was based on the pattern commonly used by Freemasonry which informed a significant part of that Hermetic order’s teachings. The geometric arrangement of the furnishings and the officers is used to great effect in the ceremonies of initiation that they used and their symbolic meanings were drawn from the conceptual placement of the Hall of the Neophytes on the Tree of Life.

According to the “Z” Documents that are issued to Zelator Adeptus Minors of that magickal order, the Hall of the Neophytes, or the Elemental temple that is used by most Hermetic magicians, is positioned at the very topmost point of the Sphere of the Elements that make up the Sephirah Malkuth and the material world of Assiah. The temple faces East and looks “up” the Tree of Life, facing the Yod י and He ה of Tetragrammaton. These correspond to the Pillar of Mercy and the Pillar of Severity that have their bases in Netzach and Hod while the Middle Pillar ends at the Double Cubic Altar where the focus of the temple manifests the Light of the Supernals in the World of Assiah.

In this way the southern half of the temple is the side which indicates the Light while the northern side corresponds to the darkness with the center of the temple being the point of balance that reconciles their effects. Similarly, the East is the place of the rise of the Light in the temple with the West being the place where it declines while the central point, the Double Cubic Altar, is the place where they find their perfect balance and are reconciled. In this way the cardinal directions can be assigned Elemental correspondences that give movement within the temple space a symbolic reference.

This symbolism is the key to the understanding  and effective operation of the Neophyte Formula that is the Golden Dawn’s greatest legacy to modern occultism. During the Neophyte initiation ceremony the candidate is led first to the Gate of the West, overseen by the Lord of the Darkness where he confronts his unillumined depths before being led to the Gate of the East where he meets with the Lord of the Light initiates the movement of the Light into that internal darkness before being placed in the point of perfect balance in the temple to be exposed to a ray of the Light that is the motive force of the temple and its workings.

Conceptualizing the Temple

In the operation of the Hall of the Neophytes the position of the initiating officers is filled by the officers and a full compliment in the temple consists of eleven people all acting in concert to visualize the necessary god forms and to make the symbolic statements and gestures that form the working mechanisms of magick. For the solo magician this same arrangement has to be constructed by themselves alone and so it necessitates that the opening of the temple in an operation for a solitary magician must first establish the symbolic references that will be used in the temple to articulate the intention of the magicks that are performed in it.

0=0 Temple Arrangement

The Elemental Temple as it corresponds to the Tree of Life

The essential workings of the Pentagram and Hexagram rituals are designed to do exactly that, establishing the orientation of the temple in relation to the Elements and by this to the temple’s placement on the Tree of Life. In most cases, the magician won’t have the luxury of having the Pillars of Hermes and Solomon physically present in their working space and may even be improvising the altar and other furnishings that are used. This approximation of the Oriental Temple works because the space is conceptually aligned with the Tree of Life in such a way as to naturally imply that they are present. In reality, those physical representations are merely symbols that are useful to remind the magicians that are working in the temple that the Pillars of Mercy and Severity are present in its arrangement.

As this is the case, a good argument can be made for dispensing with the physical representations of these principles in the temple, except where they have a practical application, and using the method of conceptualization entirely. In its purest form this is done by constructing a temple on the astral plane where magickal operations are performed in the body of Light. In practice this is too difficult for most magicians, especially novices, to achieve with any great effect. It is a mechanism that can be strengthened though, and the concept of invoking the astral forms of the stations in the temple is one that has been used by many magicians to create dynamic and effective magickal ceremonies.

Let the Silence Speech Beget

The Triangle of the Universe

The Triangle of Asi, Apep and Thoth with the Tau Cross of the Ten Sephiroth.

This method has been used to its greatest effect in the A.’.A.’. Neophyte Ceremony of Self Initiation called the Pyramidos Ritual. This ceremony was composed by Aleister Crowley sometime around 1910 and underwent constant revision and refinement until his death nearly four decades later. He based it on the Formula of Light from the Golden Dawn Z Documents and it is an interpretation of the 0=0 Neophyte Ceremony that he tailored for a solo performer. That said, the Pyramidos doesn’t resemble the 0=0 Neophyte Ceremony in any except the most cursory way and represents the evolution of the concept of Hermetic initiation.

The opening of the Pyramidos Ritual establishes the concepts of Light and Darkness in the temple space and then reconciles them to establish the influence of the Supernal Triad of the Tree of Life (Kether, Chokmah and Binah) in the temple. To do this, the magician first stands at the south west of the magick circle that he is making and invokes Demeter, the embodiment of the Light. Following this he moves to the north west point of the magick circle and invokes Hades as the embodiment of the Darkness.

These two polar forces in the temple are reconciled when he moves to the East and invokes Hermes and the method is defined by the conjuration, “Let the Silence Speech beget”. In this way, without specifically calling upon the force that is evoked by the reconciliation of the Light and the Darkness, the magician next speaks with the voice of Hermes saying, “The Speech against the Sons of Night” and continuing with the general exordium that establishes the foundations of the temple that will be used to perform the ritual of self initiation before the Holy Guardian Angel of the magician. As the magician speaks with the voice of Hermes, his spiritual guide on the Path of Initiation, he banishes the darkness and manifests the Light in the temple that he will use to build the pyramid that gives the ceremony its occult name.

Building the Pyramid

To do this he builds on the triangular base that he has established and Crowley’s solution to this makes the Pyramidos Ritual one of the finest works of magick ever composed. After circumambulating in a spiral dance that establishes the circumference of the magick circle as the symbol of the Path of Initiation that he is about to take his first step along, the magician steps to the center of the temple where the influence of the three invoked forces is reconciled and balanced. In this place he speaks with the voice of Hermes, his guide, and unites the Light and the Darkness in the mystic marriage of Demeter and Hades:

Hail Asi! Hail, Thou Wanded Wheel!
Alpha and Delta kissed and came
For Five that feed the Flame.

This first invoked union establishes Hermes as the product of the union of the originally invoked forces. These three manifest influences are then combined to produce a fourth principle that is entirely spiritual and which represents the magician’s Holy Guardian Angel in its most essential form as the Archangel of Kether, Metatron who represents the magician in the face of the Unity of the Godhead that would otherwise destroy and assimilate his individual self awareness.

Hail Hoor-Apep! Thou Sword of Steel!
Alpha and Delta and Epsilon
Met in the Shadow of the Pylon
And in Iota did proclaim
That tenfold core and crown of flame
Hail Hoor-Apep! Unspoken Name!
- Liber DCLXXI vel Pyramidos, Aleister Crowley

This representative of the magician’s higher self is given the persona of Iacchus, the Greek god that corresponds to Kether in the Hermetic Qabalah (see- Liber 777) and he appears as the nature confluence of the three divine personas that have been established at the points of the triangle in the temple. This new influence appears as if “uninvoked” and forms the topmost point of a pyramid (more correctly a tetrahedron) that represents the unity of the trinity of the Supernal Sephiroth.

Uniting the Powers of the Sphinx

Hartmann's Sphinx from Magic White and Black

The Sleeping Sphinx


This representative of the Unity of Kether is now fully manifested in the extension of the ten Sephiroth that form the bridge between the magician in Malkuth and the pure Divine force in Kether. In this way the entire structure of the temple of the Pyramidos is established without making any direct reference to them by name and the movements that the magician makes during the rest of the ceremony all have easy to reference symbolism to drive their interpretation and intention.

On the basis of the established symbolism of the division of the temple into Darkness and Light, the same process is used again to establish the places of the Elements within the pyramid that has been built. This is done by approaching each of the Elemental Gates, or Pylons, and invoking the spiritual persona that it represents and then reconciling them in the fifth, central point that establishes the square based pyramid with the four Powers of the Sphinx, to Will, to Know, to Dare and to Keep Silence each being attributed to one of the corners of the base and the fifth power, to Go, manifesting uninvoked as the top point of the pyramid. This fifth power is the divine essence within the magician that is directly represented by his own Holy Guardian Angel (the microcosmic image of Metatron) and so the effect of the whole ceremony is to initiate the magician’s progress towards the attainment of the Knowledge and Conversation of his Holy Guardian Angel.

Uninvoking by Banishing

Another way that this method can be employed is by banishing every other influence until only the one that is being invoked remains. Obviously this isn’t suitable for every kind of spiritual force but for those subtle qaballistic influences that are defined more by what they are not rather than what they are this can be the most effective way to connect with them. This is especially so for concepts like the Ain Soph Aur that have no positive or manifest form to make a positive invocation to. Crowley used the uninvoked principle again to do this in the ceremony that is described in Liber 831. In this ceremony the magician first establishes the symbolism of his temple by opening it as in the Pyramidos Ritual to manifest the ten Sephiroth in his magick circle. This takes the form of a Tau Cross that is composed of ten squares, one for each Sephirah, that is drawn on the floor of the temple.

After banishing the Elements, Planets and Signs by the use of the Pentagrams and Hexagrams the magician stands upon the squares of the Tau Cross that represent the individual Sephirotic influences and, one at a time, beginning at the bottom of the previously invoked (or, more correctly, uninvoked) Tree of Life and incrementally working his way to the top of the Tree he banishes their influences until only the Limitless Light of the Negative Existence remains.

the magick circle

The Magick Circle of Ankh af na Khonsu

Let him advance to the square of Malkuth in the Tau, and perform a ritual of banishing Malkuth. But here let him not leave the square to circumambulate the circle, but use the formula and God-form of Harpocrates. Let him advance in turn to the squares Jesod, Hod, Netzach, Tiphereth, Geburah, Chesed, and banish each by appropriate rituals. And let him know that such rituals include the pronunciation of the appropriate names of God backwards, and also a curse against the Sephira in respect of all that which it is, for that it is that which distinguishes it and separates it from Kether. Advancing to the squares of Binah and Chokmah in turn, let him banish these also. And for that by now an awe and trembling shall have taken hold upon him, let him banish these by a supreme ritual of inestimable puissance. And let him beware exceedingly lest his will falter, or his courage fail. Finally, let him, advancing to the square of Kether, banish that also by what means he may. At the end whereof let him set his foot upon the light, extinguishing it;1 and, as he falleth, let him fall within the circle.- Liber Yod sub figura DCCCXXXI, Aleister Crowley

Apart from the obvious advantage of being able to be performed by a magician working alone this method has a number of things to commend it over other, more traditional forms of magick. In the instance of being used as an initiation ceremony it is superior to a ritual that is performed by others for the magician because, with practice, it will call his truest initiator, his Holy Guardian Angel, to oversee his progress. At the very best, a human initiator may have the skill to represent this higher spiritual identity of the candidate on his behalf but this is never certain. With practice even the most inexperienced novice at magick will be able to use the uninvoked method to make the connection with his Holy Guardian Angel that is the hallmark of all true initiations.

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