Notes on the nature of the "Astral Plane".
1) What are "Astral" and "Spiritual" Beings?
Man is one: it is a case of any consciousness assuming a sensible form.
Microcosms and elementals. Maybe an elemental (e.g. a dog) has a cosmic conception in which he is a microcosm and man incomplete. No means of deciding same, as in case of kinds of space.
Similarly, our gross matter may appear unreal to Beings clad in fine matter. Thus, science thinks vulgar perceptions "error". We cannot perceive at all except within our gamut; as, concentrated perfumes, which seem malodorous, and time-hidden facts, such as the vanes of a revolving fan, which flies can distinguish.
Hence: no a priori reason to deny the existence of conscious intelligences with insensible bodies. Indeed we know of other orders of mind (flies, etc., possibly vegetables) thinking by means of non-human brain-structures.
But the fundamental problem of Religion is this: Is there any praeter-human Intelligence, of the same order as our own, which is not dependent on cerebral structures consisting of matter in the vulgar sense of the word?
2) "Matter" includes all that is movable. Thus, electric waves are "matter". There is no reason to deny the existence of Beings who perceive by other means those subtle forces which we only perceive by our instruments.
3) We can influence other Beings, conscious or no, as lion-tamers, gardeners, etc., and are influenced by them, as by storms, bacilli, etc.
4) There is an apparent gap between our senses and their correspondences in consciousness. Theory needs a medium to join matter and spirit, just as physics once needed an "ether" to transmit and transmute vibrations.
5) We may consider all beings as parts of ourselves, but it is more convenient to regard them as independent. Maximum Convenience is our canon of "Truth". We may thus refer psychical phenomena to the intention of "Astral" Beings, without committing ourselves to any theory. Coherence is the sole quality demanded of us.
6) Magick enables us to receive sensible impressions of worlds other than the "physical" universe (as generally understood by profane science). These worlds have their own laws; their inhabitants are often of quasi-human intelligence; there is a definite set of relations between certain "ideas" of ours, and their expressions, and certain types of phenomena. (Thus symbols, the Qabalah, etc. enable us to communicate with whom we choose.)
7) "Astral" Beings possess knowledge and power of a different kind from our own; their "universe" is presumably of a different kind from ours, in some respects. (Our idea "bone" is not the same as a dog's; a short-sighted man sees things differently to one of normal vision.) It is more convenient to assume the objective existence of an "Angel" who gives us new knowledge than to allege that our invocation has awakened a supernormal power in ourselves. Such incidents as "Calderazzo" and "Jacob" make this more cogent.
8) The Qabalah maps ourselves by means of a convention. Every aspect of every object may thus be referred to the Tree of Life, and evoked by using the proper keys.
9) Time and Space are forms by which we obtain (distorted) images of Ideas. Our measures of Time and Space are crude conventions, and differ widely for different Beings. (Hashish shows how the same mind may vary.)
10) We may admit that any aspect of any object or idea may be presented to us in a symbolic form, whose relation to its Being is irrational. (Thus, there is no rational link between seeing a bell struck and hearing its chime. Our notion of "bell" is no more than a personification of its impressions on our senses. And our wit and power to make a bell "to order" imply a series of correspondences between various orders of nature precisely analogous to Magick, when we obtain a Vision of Beauty by the use of certain colours, forms, sounds, etc.)
11) "Astral" Beings may thus be defined in the same way as "material objects"; they are the Unknown Causes of various observed effects. They may be of any order of existence. We give a physical form and name to a bell but not to its tone, though in each case we know nothing but our own impressions. But we record musical sounds by a special convention. We may therefore call a certain set of qualities "Ratziel", or describe an impression as "Saturnian" without pretending to know what anything is in itself. All we need is to know how to cast a bell that will please our ears, or how to evoke a "spirit" that will tell us things that are hidden from our intellectual faculties.
12) (a) Every object soever may be considered as possessed of an "Astral shape", sensible to our subtle perceptions. This "astral shape" is to its material basis as our human character is to our physical appearance. We may imagine this astral shape: e.g. we may "see" a jar of opium as a soft seductive woman with a cruel smile, just as we see in the face of a cunning and dishonest man the features of some animal, such as a fox.
(b) We may select any particular property of any object, and give it an astral shape. Thus, we may take the tricky perils of a mountain, and personify them as "trolls", or the destructive energies of the simoom, as "Jinn".
(c) We may analyse any of these symbols, obtaining a finer form; thus the "spirit" contains an "angel", the angel an "archangel", etc.
(d) We may synthesize any set of symbols, obtaining a more general form. Thus we may group various types of earth-spirit as gnomes.
(e) All these may be attributed to the Tree of Life, and dealt with accordingly.
(f) The Magician may prepare a sensible body for any of these symbols, and evoke them by the proper rites.
13) The "reality" or "objectivity" of these symbols is not pertinent to the discussion. The ideas of X4 and √-1 have proved useful to the progress of mathematical advance toward Truth; it is no odds whether a Fourth Dimension "exists", or whether √-1 has "meaning" in the sense that √4 has, the number of units in the side of a square of 4 units.
The Astral Plane — real or imaginary — is a danger to anybody who takes it without the grain of salt contained in the Wisdom of the above point of view; who violates its laws either wilfully, carelessly, ignorantly, or by presuming that their psychological character differentiates them from physical laws in the narrower sense; or who abdicates his autonomy, on the ground that the subtler nature of astral phenomena guarantees their authority and integrity.
(14) The variety of the general character of the "planes" of being is indefinitely large. But there are several main types of symbolism corresponding to the forms of plastic presentation established by the minds of Mankind. Each such "plane" has its special appearances, inhabitants, and laws — special cases of the general proposition. Notable among these are the "Egyptian" plane, which conforms with the ideas and methods of magick once in vogue in the Nile valley; the "Celtic" plane, close akin to "Fairyland", with a Pagan Pantheism as its keynote, sometimes concealed by Christian nomenclature: the "Alchemical" plane, where the Great Work is often presented under the form of symbolically constructed landscapes occupied by quasi-heraldic animals and human types hieroglyphically distinguished, who carry on the mysterious operations of the Hermetic Art.
There are also "planes" of Parable, of Fable, and of Folk-lore; in short, every country, creed, and literature has given its characteristic mode of presentation to some "plane" or other.
But there are "planes" proper to every clairvoyant who explores the Astral Light without prejudice; in such case, things assume the form of his own mind, and his perception will be clear in proportion to his personal purity.
On the higher planes, the diversity of form, due to grossness, tends to disappear. Thus, the Astral Vision of "Isis" is utterly unlike that of "Kali". The one is of Motherhood and Wisdom, ineffably candid, clear, and loving; the other of Murder and madness, blood-intoxicated, lust-befogged, and cruel. The sole link is the Woman-symbol. But whoso makes Samadhi on Kali obtains the self-same Illumination as if it had been Isis; for in both cases he attains identity with the Quintessence of the Woman-Idea, untrammelled by the qualities with which the dwellers by the Nile and the Ganges respectively disguised it.
Thus, in low grades of initiation, dogmatic quarrels are inflamed by astral experience; as when Saint John distinguishes between the Whore Babalon and the Woman clothed with the Sun, between the Lamb that was slain and the Beast 666 whose deadly wound was healed; nor understands that Satan, the Old Serpent, in the Abyss, the Lake of Fire and Sulphur, is the Sun-Father, the vibration of Life, Lord of Infinite Space that flames with His Consuming Energy, and is also that throned Light whose Spirit is suffused throughout the City of Jewels.
Each "plane" is a veil of the one above it; the original individual Ideas become diversified as they express their elements. Two men with almost identical ideas on a subject would write two totally different treatises upon it.
15) The general control of the Astral Plane, the ability to find one's way about it, to penetrate such sanctuaries as are guarded from the profane, to make such relations with its inhabitants as may avail to acquire knowledge and power, or to command service; all this is a question of the general Magical attainment of the student. He must be absolutely at ease in his Body of Light, and have made it invulnerable. He must be adept in assuming all God-forms, in using all weapons, sigils, gestures, words, and signs. He must be familiar with the names and numbers pertinent to the work in hand. He must be alert, sensitive, and ready to exert his authority; yet courteous, gracious, patient, and sympathetic.
16) There are two opposite methods of exploring the Astral Plane.
(a). One may take some actual object in Nature, and analyse it by evoking its astral form, thus bringing it into knowledge and under control by applying the keys of the Qabalah and of Magick.
(b). One may proceed by invoking the required idea, and giving body to the same by attracting to it the corresponding elements in Nature.
17) Every Magician possesses an Astral Universe peculiar to himself, just as no man's experience of the world is coterminous with that of another. There will be a general agreement on the main points, of course; and so the Master Therion is able to describe the principal properties of these "planes", and their laws, just as he might write a geography giving an account of the Five Continents, the Oceans and Seas, the most notable mountains and rivers; he could not pretend to put forth the whole knowledge that any one peasant possesses in respect of his district. But, to the peasant, these petty details are precisely the most important items in his daily life. Likewise, the Magician will be grateful to the Master Therion for the Compass that guides him at night, the Map that extends his comprehension of his country, and shows him how best he may travel afield, the advice as to Sandals and Staff that make surer his feet, and the Book that tells him how, splitting open his rocks with an Hammer, he may be master of their Virgin Gold. But he will understand that his own career on earth is his kingdom, that even the Master Therion is no more than a fellow man in another valley, and that he must explore and exploit his own inheritance with his own eyes and hands.
The Magician must not accept the Master Therion's account of the Astral Plane, His Qabalistic discoveries, His instructions in Magick. They may be correct in the main for most men; yet they cannot be wholly true for any save Him, even as no two artists can make identical pictures of the same subject.
More, even in fundamentals, though these things be Truth for all Mankind, as we carelessly say, any one particular Magician may be the one man for whom they are false. May not the flag that seems red to ten thousand seem green to some one other? Then, every man and every woman being a Star, that which is green to him is verily green; if he consent to the crowd and call it red, hath he not broken the Staff of Truth that he leaneth upon?
Each and every man therefore that will be a Magician must explore the Universe for himself. This is pre-eminently the case in the matter of the Astral Plane, because the symbols are so sensitive. Nothing is easier than to suggest visions, or to fashion phantasms to suit one's ideas. It is obviously impossible to communicate with an independent intelligence — the one real object of astral research — if one allows one's imagination to surround one with courtiers of one's own creation. If one expects one's visions to resemble those of the Master Therion, they are only too likely to do so; and if one's respect for Him induces one to accept such visions as authentic, one is being false to one's soul; the visions themselves will avenge it. The true Guide being gone, the seer will stray into a wilderness of terror where he is tricked and tortured; he will invoke his idol the Master Therion, and fashion in His image a frightful phantasm who will mock him in his misery, until his mind stagger and fall; and, Madness swooping upon his carrion, blast his eyes with the horror of seeing his Master dissolve into that appalling hallucination, the "Vision of The Demon Crowley!"
Remember, then, always, but especially when dealing with the Astral Plane, that man's breath stirs the Feather of Truth. What one sees and hears is "real" in its way, whether it be itself, or distorted by one's desires, or created by one's personality. There is no touchstone of truth: the authentic Nakhiel is indistinguishable from the image of the Magician's private idea of Nakhiel, so far as he is concerned. The stronger one is to create, the more readily the Astral Light responds, and coagulates creatures of this kind. Not that such creation is necessarily an error; but it is another branch of one's Work. One cannot obtain outside help from inside sources. One must use precautions similar to those recommended in the chapter of Divination.
The Magician may go on for a long time being fooled and flattered by the Astrals that he has himself modified or manufactured. Their natural subservience to himself will please him, poor ape!
They will pretend to show him marvellous mysteries, pageants of beauty and wonder unspeakably splendid; he will incline to accept them as true, for the very reason that they are images of himself idealized by the imagination.
But his real progress will stop dead. These phantasms will prevent him from coming into contact with independent intelligences, from whom alone he can learn anything new.
He will become increasingly interested in himself, imagine himself to be attaining one initiation after another. His Ego will expand unchecked, till he seem to himself to have heaven at his feet. Yet all this will be nothing but his fool's face of Narcissus smirking up from the pool that will drown him.
Error of this kind on the Astral Plane — in quite ordinary visions with no apparent moral import — may lead to the most serious mischief. Firstly, mistakes mislead; to pollute one's view of Jupiter by permitting the influence of Venus to distort it may end in finding oneself at odds with Jupiter, later on, in some crisis of one's work.
Secondly, the habit of making mistakes and leaving them uncorrected grows upon one. He who begins by "spelling Jeheshua with a 'Resh'" may end by writing the name of the Dweller on the Threshold by mistake for that of his Angel.
Lastly, Magick is a Pyramid, built layer by layer. The work of the Body of Light — with the technique of Yoga — is the foundation of the whole. One's apprehension of the Astral Plane must be accurate, for Angels, Archangels, and Gods are derived therefrom by analysis. One must have pure materials if one wishes to brew pure beer.
If one have an incomplete and incorrect view of the universe, how can one find out its laws?
Thus, original omission or error tends to extend to the higher planes. Suppose a Magician, invoking Sol, were persuaded by a plausible spirit of Saturn that he was the Solar Intelligence required, and bade him eschew human love if he would attain to the Knowledge and Conversation of his Holy Guardian Angel; and suppose that his will, and that Angel's nature, were such that the Crux of their Formula was Lyrical Exaltation!
Apart from the regular tests — made at the time — of the integrity of any spirit, the Magician must make a careful record of every vision, omitting no detail; he must then make sure that it tallies in every point with the correspondences in Book 777 and in Liber D. Should he find (for instance) that, having invoked Mercury, his vision contains names whose numbers are Martial, or elements proper to Pisces, let him set himself most earnestly to discover the source ofq error, to correct it, and to prevent its recurrence.
But these tests, as implied above, will not serve to detect personation by self-suggested phantasms. Unless one's aura be a welter of muddled symbols beyond recognition, the more autohypnotic the vision is, the more smoothly it satisfies the seer's standards. There is nothing to puzzle him or oppose him; so he spins out his story with careless contempt of criticism. He can always prove himself right; the Qabalah can always be stretched; and Red being so nearly Orange, which is really a shade of Yellow, and Yellow a component of Green which merges into Blue, what harm if a Fiend in Vermilion appears instead of an Angel in Azure?
The true, the final test, of the Truth of one's visions is their Value. The most glorious experience on the Astral plane, let it dazzle and thrill as it may, is not necessarily in accordance with the True Will of the seer; if not, though it be never so true objectively, it is not true for him, because not useful for him. (Said we not a while ago that Truth was no more than the Most Convenient Manner of Statement?)
It may intoxicate and exalt the Seer, it may inspire and fortify him in every way, it may throw light upon most holy mysteries, yet withal be no more than an interpretation of the individual to himself, the formula not of Abraham but of Onan.
These plastic "Portraits of the Artist as a Young Man" are well enough for those who have heard "Know Thyself". They are necessary, even, to assist that analysis of one's nature which the Probationer of A∴A∴ is sworn to accomplish. But "Love is the law, love under will." And Our Lady Nuit is "... divided for love's sake, for the chance of union." These mirror-mirages are therefore not Works of Magick, according to the Law of Thelema: the true Magick of Horus requires the passionate union of opposites.
Now the proof that one is in contact with an independent entity depends on a sensation which ought to be unmistakeable if one is in good health. One ought not to be liable to mistake one's own sensible impressions for somebody else's! It is only Man's incurable vanity that makes the Astral "Strayed Reveller" or the mystic confuse his own drunken babble with the voice of the Most High.
The essence of the right sensation consists in recognition of the reality of the other Being. There will be as a rule some element of hostility, even when the reaction is sympathetic. One's "soul-mate" (even) is not thought of as oneself, at first contact.
One must therefore insist that any real appearance of the Astral Plane gives the sensation of meeting a stranger. One must accept it as independent, be it Archangel or Elf, and measure one's own reaction to it. One must learn from it, though one despise it; and love it, however one loathe it.
One must realize, on writing up the record, that the meeting has effected a definite change in oneself. One must have known and felt something alien, and not merely tried on a new dress.
There must always be some slight pang of pain in a true Astral Vision; it hurts the Self to have to admit the existence of a not-Self; and it taxes the brain to register a new thought. This is true at the first touch, even when exaltation and stimulation result from the joy of making an agreeable contact.
There is a deeper effect of right reaction to a strange Self: the impact invariably tends to break up some complex in the Seer. The class of ideas concerned has always been tied up, labelled, and put away. It is now necessary to unpack it, and rearrange its contents. At least, the annoyance is like that of a man who has locked and strapped his bag for a journey, and then finds that he has forgotten his pyjamas. At most, it may revolutionise his ideas of the business, like an old bachelor with settled plans of life who meets a girl once too often.
Any really first-class Astral Vision, even on low planes, should therefore both instruct the Seer, and prepare him for Initiation. Those failing to pass this test are to be classed as "practice".
One last observation seems fit. We must not assert the "reality" or "objectivity" of an Astral Being on no better evidence than the subjective sensation of its independent existence. We must insist on proof patient to all qualified observers if we are to establish the major premiss of Religion: that there exists a Conscious Intelligence independent of brain and nerve as we know them. If it have also Power, so much the better. But we already know of inorganic forces; we have no evidence of inorganic conscious Mind.
How can the Astral Plane help us here? It is not enough to prove, as we easily do, the correspondences between Invocation and Apparition. We must exclude concidence, telepathy, and subconscious knowledge. Our praeter-human Intelligence must convey a Truth not known to any human mind, past or present. Yet this Truth must be verifiable.
There is but one document in the world which presents evidence that fully satisfies these conditions. This is
LIBER AL vel LEGIS
the Book of the Law.
of this New Aeon of Horus, the Crowned and Conquering Child, the Aeon whose Logos is The Beast 666, whose name in the Outer Order was Frater Perdurabo.
The nature of the proof of the separate existence of praeterhuman Intelligence, independent of bodily form, is extremely complicated. Its main divisions may be briefly enumerated.
AIWAZ, the name of the Intelligence in question, proves:
(a) His power to pre-arrange events unconnected with His scribe so that they should fit in with that scribe's private calculations.
E.g. The Stélé which reveals the Theogony of the Book was officially numbered 666, in the Boulak Museum. The scribe had adopted 666 as His magical number, many years previously. Again, the scribe's magical House, bought years earlier, had a name whose value was 418. The scribe had calculated 418 as the number of the Great Work, in 1901 e.v. He only discovered that 418 was the number of his house in consequence of AIWAZ mentioning the fact.
(b) His power to conceal a coherent system of numbers and letters in the text of a rapidly-written document, containing riddles and ciphers opening to a Master-Key unknown to the scribe, yet linked with his own system; this Key and its subordinates being moreover a comment on the text.
E.g. "The word of the Law is ΘΕΛΗΜΑ" (Will); this word has the value of 93. "Love is the law, love under will." Love, Αγαπη, like Θελημα, adds to 93.
AIWAZ itself adds to 93.
This was all strange to the scribe; yet years later he discovered the "Lost Word" of one of his own Orders: it was 93 also.
The Word of His most holy Order proved equally to count up to 93.
Now 93 is thrice 31; 31 is LA, "Not" and AL, "The" or "God"; these words run throughout the Book, giving a double meaning to many passages. A third 31 is the compound letter ShT, the two hieroglyphs of Sh and T (many centuries old) being pictures of the "Dramatis Personae" of the Book; and ShT being a haphazard line scrawled on the MS. touch letters which added to 418, valuing "this circle squared in its failure" as π correct to six places of decimals, etc.
(c) His power to combine subsequent events beyond the control of the scribe or his associates, so that they confirmed statements in the Book. Or, per contra, to predict such events.
E.g. The first Scarlet Woman proved unworthy, and suffered the exact penalties predicted.
Again, "one cometh after thee; he shall discover the key." This one was to be the "child" of the scribe, "and that strangely".
Nine months after THE BEAST 666 had gotten a Magical "child" upon His concubine Jane Foster, a "Babe of the Abyss" was born, Frater Achad asserting his right to that grade, and thus "coming after" The Beast 666, who had been the last Adept to do so. And this "child" was definitely "one", since "one" is the meaning of his motto Achad. Finally, he did in fact "discover the key of it all" after THE BEAST Himself had failed to do so in 14 years of study.
(d) His power to conceive and express in concise terms true solutions of the main problems of the Universe.
E.g. The formula of Nuith and Hadith explain Existence in the terms of Mathematical-Logical Philosophy, so as to satisfy the difficulties of reconciling Dualism, Monism and Nihilism; all antinomies in all spheres; and the Original Perfection with the Manifest Imperfection of Things.
Again "Do that thou wilt...", the most sublimely austere ethical precept ever uttered, despite its apparent licence, is seen on analysis to be indeed "...the whole of the Law", the sole and sufficient warrant for human action, the self-evident Code of Righteousness, the identification of Fate with Freewill, and the end of the Civil War in Man's nature by appointing the Canon of Truth, the conformity of things with themselves, to determine his every act. "Do what thou wilt..." is to bid Stars to shine, Vines to bear grapes, Water to seek its level; man is the only being in Nature that has striven to set himself at odds with himself.
(e) His power to interpret the Spirit of the New Aeon, the relapse into ruthless savagery of the most civilized races, at a time when war was discredited by most responsible men.
(f) His power to comprehend and control these various orders of ideas and events, demonstrating thereby a mind and a means of action intelligible to, yet immensely above, all human capacity; to bind the whole into a compact cryptograph displaying mastery of English, of mathematical and philosophical conceptions, of poetic splendour and intense passion, while concealing in the letters and words a complex cipher involving the knowledge of facts never till then existing in any human mind, and depending on the control of the arm of the scribe, though He thought He was writing consciously from dictation; and to weave into a single pattern so many threads of proof of different orders that every type of mind, so it be but open and just, may be sure of the existence of AIWAZ as a being independent of body, conscious and individual, with a mind mightier than man's, and a power beyond man's set in motion by will.
In a word, The Book of the Law proves the prime postulate of Religion.
The Magician may therefore be confident that Spiritual Beings exist, and seek the Knowledge and conversation of His own Holy Guardian Angel with the same ardour as that of Frater Perdurabo when He abandoned all: love, wealth, rank, fame, to seek Him. Nay, this he must do or condemn himself to be torn asunder by the Maenads of his insensate impulses; he hath no safety save he himself be Bacchus! Bacchus, divine and human! Bacchus, begotten on Semelé of Zeus, the adulterous Lord of Thunder ravishing, brutally, his virginal victim! Bacchus, babe hidden from hate in the most holy of holies, the secret of thy sire, in the Channel of the Star-Spate, Whereof one Serpent is thy soul! Bacchus, twy-formed, man-woman, Bacchus, whose innocence tames the Tiger, while yet thy horns drip blood upon thy mouth, and sharpen the merriment of wine to the madness of murder! Bacchus, Thy thyrsus oozes sap; thine ivy clings to it; thy Lion-skin slips from thy sleek shoulders, slips from thy lissome loins; drunk on delight of the godly grape, thou knowest no more the burden of the body and the vexation of the spirit.
Come, Bacchus, come thou hither, come out of the East; come out of the East, astride the Ass of Priapus! Come with thy revel of dancers and singers! Who followeth thee, forbearing to laugh and to leap? Come, in thy name Dionysus, that maidens be mated to God-head! Come, in thy name Iacchus, with thy mystical fan to winnow the air, each gust of thy Spirit inspiring our Soul, that we bear to thee Sons in Thine Image!
Verily and Amen! Let not the Magician forget for a single second what is his one sole business. His uninitiated "self" (as he absurdly thinks it) is a mob of wild women, hysterical from uncomprehended and unstated animal instinct; they will tear Pentheus, the merely human king who presumes to repress them, into mere shreds of flesh; his own mother, Nature, the first to claw at his windpipe! None but Bacchus, the Holy Guardian Angel, hath grace to be God to this riot of maniacs; he alone can transform the disorderly rabble into a pageant of harmonious movements, tune their hyaena howls to the symphony of a paean, and their reasonless rage to self-controlled rapture. It is this Angel whose nature is doubly double, that He may partake of every sacrament. He is at once a God who is drunken with the wine of earth, and the mammal who quaffs the Blood of God to purge him of mortality. He is a woman as he accepts all impulses, are they not His? He is a man to stamp Himself upon whatever would hallow itself to Him. He wields the Wand, with cone of pine and ivy tendrils; the Angel creates continually, wreathing His Will in clinging beauty, imperishably green.
The Tiger, the symbol of the brutal passions of man, gambols about its master's heels; and He bestrides the Ass of Priapus; he makes his sexual force carry him whither He wills to go.
Let the Magician therefore adventure himself upon the Astral Plane with the declared design to penetrate to a sanctuary of discarnate Beings such as are able to instruct and fortify him, also to prove their identity by testimony beyond rebuttal. All explanations other than these are of value only as extending and equilibrating Knowledge, or possibly as supplying Energy to such Magicians as may have found their way to the Sources of Strength. In all cases, naught is worth an obol save as it serve to help the One Great Work.
He who would reach Intelligences of the type under discussion may expect extreme difficulty. The paths are guarded; there is a lion in the way. Technical expertness will not serve here; it is necessary to satisfy the Warders of one's right to enter the presence of the Master. Particular pledges may be demanded, ordeals imposed, and initiations conferred. These are most serious matters; the Body of Light must be fully adult, irrevocably fixed, or it will be disintegrated at the outset. But, being fit to pass through such experiences, it is bound utterly to its words and acts. It cannot even appear to break an oath, as its fleshly fellow may do.
Such, then is a general description of the Astral Plane, and of the proper conduct of the Magician in his dealings therewith.
On consideration these notes have been left as they were originally written. In An XVII [1920 e.v.], Sol in Virgo, Soror Rhodon [Mary Butts, writer], a probationer of A∴A∴, at that time in enjoyment of the privilege of sojourning in a certain secret Abbey of Thelema, asked Him to add to this book an outline of the uranography of the Astral Planes, in less technical language than that of Liber 777. These notes were accordingly jotted down by Him. To elaborate them further would have been to make them disproportionate to the rest of this treatise.
See Poincaré, passages quoted infra.
The passages referred to are as follows: [see footnote below]
See the story, infra, about the origin of Book 4.
See the story, infra, about Amalantra.make this more cogent.
See Poincaré's essay on the Nature of Space, as an idea invented by ourselves to measure the result of, and explain, our muscular movements.
The Archangel of the Sphere of Chokmah, the second Sephira.
Crowley both accepted and rejected the image of himself as the evil shadow of every man — the Demon Crowley. Furthermore, he abhorred the clinging pupil. Hence his advice to him to rely on his true Guide, his Holy Guardian Angel. Cf. the Buddha's "Be ye lamps unto yourselves."
The Intelligence of the Sun.
The Hebrew letter Yod, י, if written quickly and carelessly, could easily be mistaken for a Resh, ר. The "Dweller on the Threshold", a Theosophical term, is the embodiment of a man's unresolved complexes, an inharmonious and unbalanced force.
The Master Therion's regular test is to write the name of a Force on a card, and conceal it; invoke that Force secretly, send His pupil on the Astral Plane, and make him attribute his vision to some Force. The pupil then looks at the card; the Force he has named is that written upon it.
The most famous novel of Fielding is called "Tom Jones". It happened that Frater Perdurabo was staying in an hotel in London.... [see footnote]
In The International of November, 1918, was published the conconclusion of an article called "The Revival of Magick" by the Master Therion. The last sentence reads: "Herein is Wisdom; let him that hath understanding count the number of the Beast; for it is the number of a man; and his number is six hundred and three score and six.... [see footnote]
There is a well-known story quoted in several treatises of psychology in which the heroine is an ignorant English servant girl of quite inferior intelligence, and unacquainted with any language, even her own. In the course of a fever, she became delirious, and proceeded to reel off long passages of scholarly Hebrew. Investigations showed that in her first youth she had been for a time in the service of a Jewish Rabbi who had been accustomed to declaim his sermons in the hearing of the girl. Although attaching no meaning to the words, she had stored them mechanically in her subconscious memory, to be reproduced when the action of the fever excited the group of cells where they were recorded.
According to Crowley's system, the present Aeon (of Horus) ws preceded by that of Osiris, and before that, by the Aeon of Isis. These are long historical periods, comprising at least 2,000 years each. The Aeon of Osiris can be cosidered, for all practical purposes, the Christian era, the era of the patriarchal systems — Buddha, Christ, Mahommed. The Aeon of Isis was represented by the Mother goddesses, and descends into pre-history. These names, Horus, Osiris, Isis were determined by The Book of the Law, the three chapters of which proceed from Nuit, Hadit, and Ra-Hoor-Khuit, which are "technical terms" (in Crowley's system) for Isis, Osiris, Horus. "The Crowned and Conquering Child" is Horus as Ra-Hoor-Khuit (the active aspect of Horus), whose Logos or Word is here identified with The Beast 666 (Crowley). It was Crowley who transmitted The Book of the Law to mankind. In other words, Crowley (as the prophet of the New Aeon, because he transmitted the Book, which is the Word or Logos of that Aeon) identifies his magical personality with the Word of the Aeon.
Now the National Museum, Cairo
This numeration was discovered years later. The question then arose out of consideration of this discovery through S. Jacobs: "Why is Aiwaz spelt Aiwass, not Aiwaz, in the Book of the Law?" In Greek Αιϝασσ = 418. The author of the Book had concealed in His own name not one only but two numbers, those of supreme importance in the Book.
This list by no means exhausts the series. In particular, Frater Perdurabo discovered in 1923 that the Hebrew word for "to will" is also of the value of 93: and its special technical meanings throw yet further light on the meaning of Θελημα as used by Aiwaz.
This quotation is not in The Book of the Law at all. Given what follows, it is likely a misquotation of II:76: "What meaneth this, o prophet? Thou knowest not; nor shalt thou know ever."
Another misquotation. This is likely from III:47, which says in part: "Let him not seek to try: but one cometh after him, whence I say not, who shall discover the Key of it all."
Another misquote, again from II:76: "There cometh one to follow thee: he shall expound it."
1On consideration these notes have been left as they were originally written. In An XVII [1920 e.v.], Sol in Virgo, Soror Rhodon [Mary Butts, writer], a probationer of A∴A∴, at that time in enjoyment of the privilege of sojourning in a certain secret Abbey of Thelema, asked Him to add to this book an outline of the uranography of the Astral Planes, in less technical language than that of Liber 777. These notes were accordingly jotted down by Him. To elaborate them further would have been to make them disproportionate to the rest of this treatise.
2See Poincaré, passages quoted infra.
"Les axiomes géométriques ne sont donc ni des jugements synthétiques a priori ni des faits experimentaux. Ce sont des conventions ...
Dés lors, que doit-on penser de cette question: La géométrie Euclidienne est-elle vraie?
Elle n'a aucun sens. Autant demander si le système métrique est vrai et les anciennes mesures fausses; si les coordonnées cartésiennes sont vraies et les coordonnées polaires fausses. Une géométrie ne peut pas étre plus vraie qu'une autre; elle peut seulement étre plus commode.
On veut dire que par sélection naturelle notre esprit s'est adapté aux conditions du monde extérieur, qu'il a adopté la géométrie la plus avantageuse à l'espece; ou en d'autres termes la plus commode. Cela est conforme tout à fait à nos conclusions; la géométrie n'est pas vraie: elle est avantageuse." Poincaré, La Science et l'Hypothese.
"Nous choisirons donc ces règles non parce qu'elles sont vraies, mais parce qu'elles sont les plus commodes, et nous pourrions les resumer ainsi en disant:
"La simultanéité de dex événements, ou l'ordre de leur succession, l'égalité de deux durées, doivent être définies de telle sorte que l'énoncé des lois naturelles soit aussi simple que possible. En d'autres termes, toutes ces règles, toutes ces définitions ne sont pas que le fruit d'un opportunisme inconscient." Poincaré, La Valeur de la Science.
The Student may consult H. H. Joachim's The Nature of Truth, in rebuttal. But most of these subtleties miss the point. Truth must be defined. It is a name, being a noun (nomen); and all names are human symbols of things. Now Truth is the power to arouse a certain reaction ("assent") in a man, under certain conditions: ("greenness", weight, all other qualities, are also powers). It exists in the object, whether latent or manifest; so experiencing both does and does not alter the facts. This is Solipsism, because we can only be conscious of our own consciousness; yet it is not Solipsism, because our consciousness tells us that its changes are due to the impact of an external force. Newton's First Law makes this a matter of definition.
"What is truth?", beyond this, inquires into the nature of this power. It is inherent in all things, since all possible propositions, or their contradictories, can be affirmed as true. Its condition is identity of form (or structure) of the Monads involved.
It requires a quality of mind beyond the "normal" to appreciate 0° = X, etc., directly, just as H. H. Joachim's reasoning demands a point-of-view beyond that of the Bushman.
4See the story, infra, about the origin of Book 4.
5See the story, infra, about Amalantra.
6See Poincaré's essay on the Nature of Space, as an idea invented by ourselves to measure the result of, and explain, our muscular movements.
7The Archangel of the Sphere of Chokmah, the second Sephira.
8Crowley both accepted and rejected the image of himself as the evil shadow of every man — the Demon Crowley. Furthermore, he abhorred the clinging pupil. Hence his advice to him to rely on his true Guide, his Holy Guardian Angel. Cf. the Buddha's "Be ye lamps unto yourselves."
9The Intelligence of the Sun.
10 The Hebrew letter Yod, י, if written quickly and carelessly, could easily be mistaken for a Resh, ר. The "Dweller on the Threshold", a Theosophical term, is the embodiment of a man's unresolved complexes, an inharmonious and unbalanced force.
11The Master Therion's regular test is to write the name of a Force on a card, and conceal it; invoke that Force secretly, send His pupil on the Astral Plane, and make him attribute his vision to some Force. The pupil then looks at the card; the Force he has named is that written upon it.
It will be seen that there is here no question of any connection between the elements of the coincidence. If a similar occurrence had taken place in the course of communication with an alleged spirit, it would have been regarded as furnishing a very high degree of proof of the existence of an independent intelligence.
To make this clear, let me substitute the terms of the equation. Suppose two independent mediums, A and B, were to receive respectively at the same moment two messages, the first; "Ask B who wrote Hamlet", the second: "Ask A the name of Shakespeare's most famous tragedy." The coincidence is here much simpler and less striking than the one recorded above, for there is no question of arriving at the identity by way of accidental synonyms concealing their rational connection. Yet most students of Occult phenomena would admit that there was a strong presumption that a single intelligence had deliberately devised the two messages as a means of proving his existence.
The Master Therion was, about this time, in communication with an intelligence who gave the name of Amalantrah. On Sunday, February 24, 1918, at 9.30 p. m., The Master Therion asked Amalantrah if he could use the word ΘΗΡΙΟΝ as if it were Hebrew, with the idea of getting further information as to the mystic meaning of the Word. The answer was "Yes". He then asked: "Am I to take the word ΘΗΡΙΟΝ alone, or the three words ΤΟ ΜΕΓΑ ΘΗΡΙΟΝ?" The answer was to take the word ΘΗΡΙΟΝ alone. The Master Therion then asked what Hebrew letters should be used to transliterate the Greek. The answer was: "Tau, Yod, Resh, Yod, Ayin, Nun", which adds to 740 or 1390, according as Nun is given its ordinary value of 50, or its value as the final letter of a word, 700. Neither of these numbers possessed any special significance to The Master Therion. He became very annoyed at Amalantrah's failure to be of use; so much so that the communications became confused, and the work had to be abandoned for that evening. He tried various other Hebrew spellings for the word ΘΗΡΙΟΝ, but was unable to obtain anything of interest. This is rather remarkable, as it is nearly always possible to get more or less good results by trying various possibilities. For example, the O might be equally well Ayin, Vau or Aleph.
On Monday morning, The Master Therion went to the office of The International, of which he was editor. At this period there was a coal famine in New York, and it was forbidden to heat office buildings on Mondays. He merely took away his mail and went home. On Tuesday morning He found on his desk a letter which had arrived on Monday for the general editor, who had sent it across to Him for reply, as it concerned The Master Therion rather than himself. This letter had been written and posted on Sunday evening, at about the same time as the communication from Amalantrah. The letter ends as follows: "Please inform your readers that I, Samuel bar Aiwaz bie Yackou de Sherabad, have counted the number of the Beast, and it is the number of a man.
|(Read from right to left)
Here, then, we see the most striking solution possible of the problem presented to Amalantrah. Observe that Amalantrah had refused to give the correct solution directly; as it would seem, in order to emphasize the remarkable character of the intervention of this Assyrian correspondent. Observe, too, that the latter was totally ignorant of the ordinary Qabalah, it being quite generally known that ΤΟ ΜΕΓΑ ΘΗΡΙΟΝ adds up to 666 in Greek. Observe, moreover, that nearly four months had passed since the problem was propounded in The International. The Assyrian lived some distance outside New York, and was an entire stranger to any of the staff of The International. The evidence appears overwhelming for the existence of Amalantrah, that he was more expert in the Qabalah than The Master Therion himself, and that he was (further) possessed with the power to recall this four-months-old problem to the mind of an entirely unconnected stranger, causing him to communicate the correct answer at the same moment as the question was being asked many miles away.
Coincidence, so completely adequate to explain the Fielding-Tom Jones incident, is utterly incompetent as an alternative theory. The directly purposeful character of the circumstances is undeniable; but if we are resolutely determined to deny the possibility of the existence of Amalantrah, which explains the whole affair so simply, we have still one resource. It involves difficulties which The Master Therion cannot conceive as less than those which encumber the other, but it is, at least, not entirely beyond possibility. This theory is telepathy. One may postulate that the solution of his problem existed in the subconscious mind of the Master Therion or in that of His seer, and that this solution was telepathically impressed upon the consciousness of the Assyrian so forcibly as to impel him to communicate it to the Master Therion's colleague on The International. Apart from the general improbability of this hypothesis, it is strange that if "Amalantrah" were really the subconscious mind of the seer, he should have given a wrong orthography. His doing so (if he knew the correct spelling) is only explicable by his wish not to take the edge off his plan for making the Assyrian's letter a fulminating revelation of his existence, as would have happened if the secret had been prematurely disclosed.
The case is here cited in order to illustrate the extreme care which ought to be taken in excluding all alternative hypotheses before admitting the existence of disembodied intelligences. It may be mentioned, however, that in this particular case there are numerous other incidents which make the telepathic theory untenable.
14There is a well-known story quoted in several treatises of psychology in which the heroine is an ignorant English servant girl of quite inferior intelligence, and unacquainted with any language, even her own. In the course of a fever, she became delirious, and proceeded to reel off long passages of scholarly Hebrew. Investigations showed that in her first youth she had been for a time in the service of a Jewish Rabbi who had been accustomed to declaim his sermons in the hearing of the girl. Although attaching no meaning to the words, she had stored them mechanically in her subconscious memory, to be reproduced when the action of the fever excited the group of cells where they were recorded.
15According to Crowley's system, the present Aeon (of Horus) ws preceded by that of Osiris, and before that, by the Aeon of Isis. These are long historical periods, comprising at least 2,000 years each. The Aeon of Osiris can be cosidered, for all practical purposes, the Christian era, the era of the patriarchal systems — Buddha, Christ, Mahommed. The Aeon of Isis was represented by the Mother goddesses, and descends into pre-history. These names, Horus, Osiris, Isis were determined by The Book of the Law, the three chapters of which proceed from Nuit, Hadit, and Ra-Hoor-Khuit, which are "technical terms" (in Crowley's system) for Isis, Osiris, Horus. "The Crowned and Conquering Child" is Horus as Ra-Hoor-Khuit (the active aspect of Horus), whose Logos or Word is here identified with The Beast 666 (Crowley). It was Crowley who transmitted The Book of the Law to mankind. In other words, Crowley (as the prophet of the New Aeon, because he transmitted the Book, which is the Word or Logos of that Aeon) identifies his magical personality with the Word of the Aeon.
16Now the National Museum, Cairo
17This numeration was discovered years later. The question then arose out of consideration of this discovery through S. Jacobs: "Why is Aiwaz spelt Aiwass, not Aiwaz, in the Book of the Law?" In Greek Αιϝασσ = 418. The author of the Book had concealed in His own name not one only but two numbers, those of supreme importance in the Book.
18This list by no means exhausts the series. In particular, Frater Perdurabo discovered in 1923 that the Hebrew word for "to will" is also of the value of 93: and its special technical meanings throw yet further light on the meaning of Θελημα as used by Aiwaz.
19This quotation is not in The Book of the Law at all. Given what follows, it is likely a misquotation of II:76: "What meaneth this, o prophet? Thou knowest not; nor shalt thou know ever."
20Another misquotation. This is likely from III:47, which says in part: "Let him not seek to try: but one cometh after him, whence I say not, who shall discover the Key of it all."
21Another misquote, again from II:76: "There cometh one to follow thee: he shall expound it."