It is Thursday here, and the clouds are socked in… Fallish here already it feels, supposedly we are to heat up soon. Couldn’t tell it with this morning…
We are finishing up on our Crowley installment, and back to other matters tomorrow. Do try and check the article out, excellent. I always found RAW’s take on Crowley refreshing.
Strange, I am almost tongue tied today, so I will take that as a sign…
The Stoned Links
Part II: The Great Beast Aleister Crowley – Robert Anton Wilson
Art: Alain Margotton
Part II: The Great Beast Aleister Crowley – Robert Anton Wilson
Originally published in:Paul Krassners The Realist Issues 91-B, C, 92-A, B (1971-2)
But meanwhile came the Chinese Mindfuck.
IX — The Hermit
Wander alone; bearing the Light and thy Staff. The Book of Thoth
One day in Rangoon, in 1905, Crowley happened to mention to a man named Thornton that there is no necessary connection between the separate quanta of sense-impression. Philosophy-buffs are aware that this has been observed by David Hume, among others, and Thornton replied with another truism, pointing out that there is no necessary connection between the successive states of the ego, either.
The beast, naturlich, was aware that the Buddha had spotted that disturbing fact a long time ago, but suddenly the full import of it hit home to him on an emotional level.
Chew on it: he could not absolutely prove that there was an external world to Aleister Crowley, but merely that there appeared to be a tendency for sense-impressions to organize themselves to suggest such a world, Lord help us; and he could not absolutely demonstrate that there was an “Aleister Crowley” doing this organizing but only that there seems to be a tendency to aggregate internal impressions in such a way as to suggest such an entity. (Get the Librium, mother). All intelligent people have noticed that at one time or another – and quickly brushed it aside, to carry on in the only way that seems pragmatically justified, assuming the reality of the World and the Self.
The Beast, after the workings of his Magick, the experience of his dhyana (in which Self, indeed, had vanished for a time) and his encounter with the ever-lovin’ Aiwass, was not satisfied to rest in assuming anything.
There was no absolute proof that he had ever achieved dhyana, for instance, but only a tendency to organize some impressions into a category called “memory and to assume that they corresponded to “real” events in a time called the “past.” Nor could reason alone prove that he had seen a “miracle” in “Cairo,” or performed “Magick” in “London,” or suffered in a “school” run by “Plymouth Brethren,” or had a “biological” “relationship” “with” “beings” know as “Father” and “Mother.”
“About now,” he scribbled in his diary on November 19, “I may count my Speculative Criticism of the Reason as not only proved and understood, but realized. The misery of this is simply sickening – I can write no more.”
He started on a walking journey across China with his wife and daughter, or his earth-body did; his mind was on a far weirder trip. “He had become insane,” writes unsympathetic biographer John Symonds in The Great Beast; “If this happened to any of us,” adds sympathetic biographer Israel Regardie in The Eye in the Triangle, “we too might feel we had become insane.” Of course, lately it has happened to a lot of us, thanks to the free enterprise pharmacopia of the streets, and we know with bitter memory what the suffering Beast was going through.
And it wasn’t six or ten hours in his case; it lasted four solid months, while China drifted by like the eye in the triangle. We’ve been there, and some of us did the Steve Brodie out the window (the triangle?) and never came back and some of us found weird clues in songs like “Helter Skelter” – what triangle? – Rocky Raccoon went up to his room and Sharon Tate must die – doesn’t it? – Because John Lennon wouldn’t lie to us when a man is crashing out like American life bomb went authoritarian (what eye?) So we’ll write PIG on the wall and they’ll blame it on the spades, see? Oh, yes, Charlie, I see – Sixty-four thousand, nine hundred twenty-eight, because 7-Up Commercials and we start from Void and anything we manufacture is necessarily composed of the elements of Void even when you call it your Self or your World – And then there was the strawberries…
Manson, hell; you could turn into Nixon that way.
The axle moveth not; attain thou that. The Book of Thoth
The Beast described this 120-Days-of-Bedlam in a poem called Aha!:
The sense of all I hear is drowned;
Tap, tap, tap and nothing matters!
Senseless hallucinations roll
Across the curtain of the soul.
Each ripple on the river seems
The madness of a maniac’s dreams!
So in the self no memory-chain
Or casual wisp to bind the straws!
The Self disrupted! Blind, insane,
Both of existence and of laws,
The Ego and the Universe
Fall to one black chaotic curse…
As I trod the trackless way
Through sunless gorges of Cathay,
I became a little child!
“The are waiting for you,” Rose, in a trance, had said, a year earlier. “It’s about the Child.”
When Crowley returned to England, after becoming “a little child,” he received a letter from chemist George Cecil Jones, a friend in the Golden Dawn. Jones, who recognized what happened, wrote: “How long have you been in the Great Order, and why did I not know? Is the invisibility of the A.A. to lower grades so complete?”
Israel Regardie, a biographer sympathetic to Crowley, but dubious about the existence of the A.A. (the Third Order, or Great White Brotherhood, behind the Rose of Ruby and Cross of Gold) comments thoughtfully, “I do not wholly understand this.”
Herman Hess, who described the Third Order very clearly in Journey to the East, gives the formula for initiation in Steppenwolf:
PRICE OF ADMISSION: YOUR MIND
Mitigate Energy with Love; but let Love devour all things. The Book of Thoth
One act remained in the drama of initiation: the achievement of the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel. This most difficult of all magical operations had been started anew even before Crowley left China, and, for all of his previous failures, he was determined to complete it successfully this time. As mentioned earlier, this invocation takes six months and requires a rather full battery of magical and mystical techniques.
Sometime after his return to England, the Beast arranged to have George Cecil Jones “crucify” him (I am not totally sure what this means, but suspension on a cross, even via ropes, gets quite painful in a very short while) and, while hanging on the cross, he swore an oath as follows: “I,Purdurabo, a member of the Body of Christ, do hereby solemnly obligate myself… and will entirely devote my life so as to raise myself to the knowledge of my higher and Divine Genius that I shall be He.”
In Chapter 9, “The Redemption of Frank Bennett,” in The Magick of Aleister Crowley, John Symonds tells how with a few words Crowley brought a species of Samadhi or Satori to Frank Bennett, a magician who had been striving unsuccessfully for that achievement over many decades.
The words wore, in effect, that the Real Self or Holy Guardian Angel is nothing else but the integration that occurs when the conscious and subconscious are no longer segregated by repression and inhibition. It is only fair to warn seekers after either-or answers that in Magick Without Tears Crowley flatly denies this and asserts that the Angel is a separate “Being… of angelic order… more than a man…”
After the Crucifixion, the King of Depravity went on plowing his way through the required 180 days (the essence of the Abra-Melin operation is “Invoke Often”) and adding other various techniques.
On October 9, 1906 The Beast recorded in his Magical Diary:
“Tested new ritual and behold it was very good… I did get rid of everything but the Holy Exalted One, and must have held Him for a minute or two. I did. I am sure I did.”
On October 10, he added: “I am still drunk with Samadhi all day.” And a few days later, “Once again I nearly got there – all went brilliance – but not quite.” By the end of the month, there was no longer any doubt. Eight years after commencing the practice of Magick, Aleister Crowley had achieved the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel.
XII — The Hanged Man
And, being come to the shore, plant thou the Vine and rejoice without shame. – The Book of Thoth
The Beast lived on for 41 more years, and did work many wonders and quite a few blunders in the world of men and women. In 1912, he became the English head of the Ordo Templi Orientis, a secret Masonic group tracing direct decent from Knights Templar. In 1915, he achieved a vision of the total explanation of the universe, but afterwards was only able to record, “Nothing, with twinkles – but WHAT twinkles.”
In 1919, he founded the Abbey of Theleme in Sicily – but was quickly expelled by a moralist named Benito Mussolini after English newspapers exposed the scandalous sex-and-dope orgies that allegedly went on there.
Somewhere along the line, he became the Master of the A.A. or Great White Brotherhood (assuming it ever existed outside his own head, which some biographers doubt) and began teaching other Magicians all over the world.
He married, and divorced, and married, and divorced.
He wrote The Book of Thoth, in which, within the framework of a guide to divination by Tarot cards, he synthesized virtually all the important mystical teachings of East and West; we have used it for our chapter-heads.
He landed on Bedloes Island one day, representing the IRA, and proclaimed the Irish Republic, repudiating his English citizenship.
He wrote The Book of Lies, a collection of mind-benders that would flabbergast a Zen Master, including the pregnant question, “Which is Frater Perdurabo and which is the Imp Crowley?” He got hooked on heroin; kicked it; got hooked again; kicked again; got hooked again…
He died, and his friends buried him with a Gnostic Catholic Mass which the newspapers called Black.
But he is best remembered for writing in 1928 in Magick in Theory and Practice that the most potent invocation involves human sacrifice, that the ideal victim is “a male child of perfect innocence and high intelligence,” and that he had performed this rite an average of 150 times per year since 1912.
… all Acts of Love contain Pure Joy. Die daily. The Book of Thoth
Crowley’s admirers, of course, claim that he was engaged in one of his manic jokes when he boasted of performing human sacrifice 150 times a year; he was not joking at all, as we shall see.
Even his bitterest critics (except Rev. Montague Sumners, who was capable of believing anything) admit that it’s unlikely that a man whose every move was watched by newspapers and police could polish off 150 victims a year without getting caught; but they are, most of them, not above adding that this ghastly jest indicates the perversity of his mind, and, after all (summoning those great and reliable witnesses, Rumor and Slander) there was some talk about Sicilian infants disappearing mysteriously when he was running his Abbey of Thelema there…
We have got to come to a definitive conclusion about this matter or we will never grasp the meaning of his life, the value of his Magick, the cause of his vilification, or the true meaning of the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel.
… make manifest the Virtue of that Pearl. The Book of Thoth
In 1912, we said, the Beast became English head of the Ordo Templi Orientis. This occurred in a quite interesting manner: Theodore Reuss, Head of that Order in Germany, had come to him and implored him to stop publishing their occult secrets in his magazine, Equinox.
The Beast (who had been publishing some of the secrets of the English Rosicrucians – but this wasn’t one of them) protested that he didn’t know anything about the O.T.O. and its mysteries. Reuss then proclaimed that the Beast did know, even if he had discovered it independently, and that he must accept membership in the 9th degree with the accompanying pledges and responsibilities.
The Beast, who was already a 33-degree Freemason, thanks to a friend in Mexico City, accepted – and found that his “new ritual” to invoke the Holy Guardian Angel in 1906 was the most closely-guarded secret of the Ordo Templi Orientis.
“Now the O.T.O. is in possession of one supreme secret,” the Beast writes in his Confessions. “The whole of its systems… was directed towards communicating to its members, by progressively plain hints, this all-important instruction. I personally believe that if this secret, which is a scientific secret, were perfectly understood, as it is not even by me after more than twelve years’ almost constant study and experiment, there would be nothing which the human imagination can conceive that could not be realized in practice.”
Israel Regardie, the Beast’s most perceptive biographer, comes close to revealing the secret in a book called The Tree of Life. However, he remarks that the method in question is “so liable to indiscriminate abuse and use in Black Magic” that it is not safe to reveal it directly; he therefore employs a symbolism which, like a Zen riddle, can be decoded only after one had achieved certain spiritual insights.
Charlie Manson understands at least part of this Arcanum of Arcanums; his misuse of it is a classic example of the danger warned of by Crowley in Liber O: “he will be the slave of illusion and the prey of madness… His Ego will expand unchecked, till he seem to himself to have heaven at his feet…”
The secret, of course, is the formula of the Rose and Cross which, as Frazier demonstrated in The Golden Bough, is the magic foundation under all forms of religion.
XV — The Devil
With thy right Eye create all for thyself… The Book of Thoth
A word about Evil; the Beast’s frequent injunctions to “explore every possibility of the Self” and realize your True Will etc. have often been misunderstood, especially when quoted out of context, in which case he sounds battier than those armchair enthusiasts of mayhem and murder, Stirner and Nietzsche and Sorel.
But the Beast was not an armchair philosopher, but rather an explorer, mountain-climber and big-game hunter who knew violence and sudden death well enough to call by their first names; he did not romanticize them. Her are his actual instructions about Evil from Liber V, an instruction manual of the A.A.:
“The Magician should devise for himself a definite technique for destroying “evil.” The essence of such practice will consist in training the mind and body to confront things which cause fear, pain, disgust, shame and the like. He must learn to endure them, then to become indifferent to them, then to become indifferent to them, then to analyze them until they give pleasure and instruction, and finally to appreciate them for their own sake, as aspects of Truth. When this has been done, he should abandon them if they are really harmful in relation to health or comfort…
“Again, one might have a liaison with an ugly old woman until one beheld and love the star which she is; it would be too dangerous to overcome this distaste for dishonesty by forcing oneself to pick pockets. Acts which are essentially dishonorable must not be done; they should be justified only by calm contemplation of their correctness in abstract cases.”
Digest carefully that last sentence. These shrewd and pragmatic counsels are not those of a bloody-minded fool.
XVI – The Tower
Break down the fortress of thine Individual Self that thy Truth may spring free from the ruins. The Book of Thoth
Now, The Morning of the Magicians by Pauwels and Bergier was a best-seller, especially in the hip neighborhoods, so I can assume that many of my readers are aware of the strange evolution of some forms of Rosicrucianism and Illuminism in 19th Century Germany. Such Readers are aware that there is certain evidence – not a little evidence, but a great deal of it – indicating that Adolph Hitler joined something called the Thule Society in Munich in 1923, and then later obtained admission to its inner circle, the Illuminated Lodge, and that it was here he acquired certain ideas about the value of human sacrifice.
It is, in fact, not only possible but probable that the attempted extermination of European Jewry was not only the act of insane racism but a religious offering to gods who demanded rivers of human blood.
The same psychology possessed by the Aztecs toward the end. The omens, the oracles, the astrological skryings all pointed to doom, and the blood sacrifices correspondingly multiplied exponentially, hysterically, incredibly and south in Yucatan much earlier, the Mayans, who always tired to restrict the blood sacrifice to one or two a year, deserted their cities for an unknown reason and fled back to the jungle; they shared the same astrological beliefs as the Aztecs, and it is plausible to suggest that they ran away from a similar oracle telling them that only more blood could preserve the empire.
In fact – I note this only for the benefit of future students of paranoia – a similar theory about our own glorious rulers has sometimes crossed my own mind. Why not? Every time an S-M club is raided by the fuzz, the newspapers mutter vaguely that among the clientele were “prominent” and “high-placed” individuals; and don’t ever tell me, Clyde, that those birds actually believe the milk-water “liberal” Judeo-Christian faith that they mouth in their public speeches.
Is this the answer to the question we all keep asking – year after unbelievable year, with growing disgust and despair and dementia – Why are we in Vietnam? “Many gods demand blood” the Beast once commented sardonically – “especially the Christian god.”
XVII – The Star
burn up thy thought as the Phoenix. The Book of Thoth
And, yes, there is a link between Crowley and Hitler. Douglas Hunt, the Beast’s most hysterically unfair critic said so in his Exploring the Occult, and he was closer to the bullseye than the Beast’s admirers. There is a link, but it is relationship of reciprocity, for Hitler and Crowley are the reverse of each other. Thus (and now we plunge to the heart of the riddle) here are the mind-bending, gut-turning words from Chapter XII, “Of the Bloody Sacrifice and Matters Cognate,” in Magick in Theory and Practice:
“In any case it was the theory of ancient Magicians that any living being is a storehouse of energy varying in quantity according to the size and health of the animal and in quality according to its mental and moral character. At the death of the animal this energy is liberated suddenly.
“For the highest spiritual working one must accordingly choose that victim which contains the greatest and purest force. A male child of perfect innocence and high intelligence is the must satisfactory and suitable victim.”
A footnote is appended here, not at the end of this sentence but attached to the word “intelligence.” This footnote is perhaps the most famous sentence the Beast ever wrote:
“It appears from the Magical Records of Frater Perdurabo (i.e., Crowley himself) that He made this particular sacrifice on an average about 150 times every year between 1912 e.v. and 1928 e.v.”
This certainly seems clear, and horrible, enough, but the chapter concludes with the following further remarks:
“You are also likely to get in trouble over this chapter unless you truly comprehend its meaning
“The whole idea of the word Sacrifice, as commonly understood, rests upon an error and superstition, and is unscientific. Let the young Magician reflect upon the conservation of Matter and of Energy
“There is a traditional saying that whenever an Adept seems to have made a straightforward, comprehensible statement, then it is most certain that He means something entirely different
“The radical error of all uninitiates is that they define “self” as irreconcilably opposed to “not-self.” Each element of oneself is, on the contrary, sterile and without meaning, until it fulfils itself, by “love under will,” in its counterpart in the Macrocosm. To separate oneself from others is to lose that self – its sense of separateness – in the other.”
The chapter, let us remember, is called “Of the Bloody Sacrifice: and Matters Cognate,” and the Beast was a precise, almost pathologically sensitive, stylist. If the whole discussion was about the “bloody sacrifice,” where the duce are the “matters cognate”? And why does the footnote modify “male child of perfect innocence and high intelligence” instead of the last word in the sentence, “victim”?
Let us review: The Beast originally failed in the invocation of the Holy Guardian Angel; his final success came after:
(a) his success in both the physical and mental disciplines of yoga.
(b) the achievement of accomplished skill in astral voyaging, and
(c) the death of the mind in China, after which he himself became “a little child;” the new ritual which successfully invoked the Angel in 1906 was the same which the Ordo Templi Orientis had kept as a secret for unknown centuries – presumably, other occult groups here and there, like the Beast, have also discovered it independently; because of his oath as a 9th degree member of the O.T.O., the Beast could not disclose it publicly; due to his love of both poetry and cabalism, we can be sure that the code in which he hints at it – the language of bloody sacrifice – would have some innate and existential (not merely accidental) correspondence with the true secret. Finally, the ritual seems somehow connected with “love under will” and losing (the) self – its sense of separateness – in the other.”
But some readers already know the secret and others have guessed
XVIII – The Moon
Let the Illusion of the world pass over thee, unheeded. The Book of Thoth
Ezra Pound has remarked somewhere that Frazer’s Golden Bough, all 12 fat volumes, can be condensed into a single sentence, to wit: All religions are either based on the idea that copulation is good for the crops or one the idea that copulation is bad for the crops.
In fact, one can generalize that even the highest forms of mysticism are similarly bifurcate, some going back to ideas derived from the orgy and some to ideas derived from the ritual murder.
Leo Frobenius, in a series of heavy Germanic treatises on anthropology still untranslated from the Deutsch, has demonstrated, or attempted to demonstrate, a periodic oscillation between these two systems of magick, which he calls Matriarchal and Patriarchal. Two spin-offs from the Frobenius thesis in English are Joseph Campbell’s The Masks of God and Rattray Taylor’s Sex In History.
The Beast himself (aided by the handy revelations of friend Aiwass) suggests that magicko-religious history, at least in the Occident, has passed through The Age of Isis(primitive matriarchy), the Age of Osiris or the Dying God (civilized patriarchy, including Christianity) and is presently entering The Age of Horus, the Crowned and Conquering Child, in which woman will appear” no longer the mere vehicle of the male counterpart, but armored and militant.”
How’s that for a prophecy of Women’s Lib?
Thus, if the orgy is the sacrament of The Age of Isis, as Frazer indicates, the dying god – or the dying population – is the sacrament of the Age of Osiris. The link between ritual sex and ritual murder is not merely historical or sequential: they are the same sacrament in two different forms.
And the latter becomes magically necessary whenever the former is no longer functionally possible [unreadable] chenever. That is, orgasm is no longer a true [although temporary] “death” and becomes only the “sneeze of the genitals” which all forms of psychotherapy are admittedly or overtly trying to alleviate.
It is a truism that, on the psychological plane, repressed or unsatisfied sex seeks relief in sadism or masochism: it is more true on the astral or magical plane (whatever that is) that is the spiritual spasm cannot be found through love, it must be sought in violence.
And so we see that human sacrifice is the characteristic sacrament of such peoples as the Aztecs (read any history of Mexico to find out how much male chauvinism, prudery and Nixonian macho they wallowed in), the Holy Inquisitors of the middle ages, the Nazis, and some power elites closer to home; while matriarchal cultures such as the Danubians of pre-historic Europe, the pre-Chou folk of China, the first dwellers in the fertile crescent, etc have left behind clear evidence of an equal and opposite ritualized eroticism, some of which has survived via the Taoists in china, The Tantrists in India, the “Old Religion” or witch cult in Europe…
But the Beast was not trying to reinstate the Age of Isis, like these; his magick, he tells us again and again, is preparation for the Age of Horus.
XIX The Sun
Make Speech and Silence, Energy and Stillness, twin forms of thy play. The Book of Thoth
Even outside the Manson Family, there is a lot of religious balling going on these days by people who have rediscovered part of the ritual of Isis; what the Beast was teaching was nothing as facile as this. The following words from Chapter VII, “The Formula of the Holy Graal,” in Magick are meant with dreadful literalness:
“The Cup is said to be full of the Blood of the Saints; that is, every ‘saint’ or magician must give the last drop of his life’s blood to that cup (in) the true Bridal of the Rosy Cross…
“It is a woman whose Cup must be filled. It is…the sacrifice of the Man, who transfers life to his descendents…For it is his whole life that the Magus offers to Our Lady. The Cross is both Death and Generation, and it is on the Cross that the Rose blooms…”
The sacrifice must be a real death, a true Rosy Crucifixion, if it is to replace the more violent magic of the Osirian Age. I forbear further quotation, for the secret is concealed beneath many a veil throughout the Beast’s works, but it involves at least: a mastery of pranayama, allowing the postponement of orgasm until the magick working is performed at length and in properly exalted enthusiasm; skill in astral voyaging, so the astral body may be busy in its own plane also; perfection in dharana, so that one ray of the mind remains in perfect coordination on the symbol of the Holy Guardian Angel.
What happens, then, can be considered either the true, natural oceanic orgasm which the Patriarchal Age has tended to destroy – or a new and artificial creation produced by this complicated yoga. It’s the same debate we hear endlessly about acid: does it restore our “natural” form of perception, or does it “artificially” create a new form?
And, thus, we can understand Horus, the Crowned and Conquering Child, who is being created. He is “the Child” that Rose’s Cairo vision invoked; the little child” that the Beast became after his bad trip to China; “the male child of perfect innocence and high intelligence” who was sacrificed an hundred and fifty times a year after 1912; the Beast himself; and also Aiwass, the Holy Guardian Angel, both an internal aspect of Crowley’s mind and a separate “Being…of angelic order…more than a man,” for the question posed by the materialist (“Inside or outside? Subjective or objective?”) loses meaning in that trance of Samadhi where all the opposites are transcended into a unity that is also a void.
XX The Aeon
Be every Act an Act of Love and Worship. The Book of Thoth
In an early issue of his magazine Equinox, the Beast wrote with uncharacteristic solemnity:
I. The world progresses by virtue of the appearance of Christs (geniuses).
II. Christs (geniuses) are men with super-consciousness of the highest order.
III. Super-consciousness of the highest order is obtainable by known methods.
Therefore, by employing the quintessence of known methods we cause the world to progress.
In the first issue, in a more characteristic vein, he wrote:
We place no reliance
On Virgin or Pigeon
Our method is Science
Our aim is Religion
He did his work seriously and humorously, stubbornly and flexibly, wisely and sometimes unwisely, synthesizing from High Magick and from yoga, from Cabalism and the Koran, from experiments with hashish and peyote and nitrous oxide to years of study of the Tarot and comparative religion, slowly extracting “the quintessence of known methods.”
After him came Wilhelm Reich, who discovered the same quintessence independently, and was also hounded, vilified and slandered. And after Reich was Timothy, who finally let the djinn out of the bottle and in a decade changed the face of the world by a century’s worth.
But the Beast started the Revolution, and some of us now see that it is the essential Revolution, far more important than that of economics, and that he and his good buddy Aiwass defined it better than Marx or even better than the frontal-lobe anarchists, when they (he?) wrote in The Book of the Law:
Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law
To worship me take wine and strange drugs whereof I will tell my prophet, & be drunk thereof!
There is no law beyond Do what thou wilt
It is a lie, this folly against self
I am alone: there is no God where I am
Every man and every woman is a Star
The word of Sin is restriction
Remember all ye that existence is pure joy;
that all the sorrows are but shadows; they pass
and are done; but there is that which remains
Love is the law, love under will
For the Age of the Child is upon us; and those who seek to preserve the Aeon of Osiris and death are themselves only dying dinosaurs.
XXI The Universe
And blessing and worship to the prophet of the lovely Star. The Book of Thoth
And yet and yet Manson reminds us, our brothers and sisters in the Movement remind us, sometimes our own unexpected behavior reminds us: there have been such millennial voices often in the past and they have been heralds not of a Golden Dawn but only of a false dawn.
If there is on central lesson to be learned from the Beast, it is not really Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law, which has been around since Rabelais; not even the more profound and gnomic Every man and every woman is a Star; not even the formula of the Perfect Orgasm for which Norman has been searching so loudly and forlornly lo! these many years; it is rather his humor, his skepticism, his irony that reveled in the title of Beast and, even, at times, Ass; the rationality that warned against becoming “the prey of madness” by trusting one’s visions too quickly, and the common sense which said that, even if good and evil are identical on the Absolute plane, a man operating on the relative plane simply doesn’t enjoy a toothache or invent rationalizations to pick a brother’s pocket; the solemn warning that the sacrament is not completed until the Magician offers “the last drop of his life’s blood” to the Cup, and dies; but, above all these, the simple historical record which reveals that with all the ardor, all the dedication, all the passion he possessed, it still took eight years (including four months’ madness) before he broke down the wall that separates Ego from the true Self and that Self from the Universe.
Poetry: Aleister Crowley
[Dedicated to G. M. Marston]
Pale as the night that pales
In the dawn’s pearl-pure pavillion,
I wait for thee, with my dove’s breast
Shuddering, a god its bitter guest-
Have I not gilded my nails
And painted my lips with vermillion ?
Am I not wholly stript
Of the deeds and thoughts that obscure thee?
I wait for thee, my soul distraught
With aching for some nameless naught
In its most arcane crypt-
Am I not fit to endure thee?
Girded about the paps
With a golden girdle of glory,
Dost thou wait me, thy slave who am,
As a wolf lurks for a strayed white lamb?
The chain of the stars snaps,
And the deep of night is hoary!
Thou whose mouth is a flame
With its seven-edged sword proceeding,
Come ! I am writhing with despair
Like a snake taken in a snare,
Moaning thy mystical name
Till my tongue is torn and bleeding!
Have I not gilded my nails
And painted my lips with vermillion?
Yea ! thou art I; the deed awakes,
Thy lightening strikes; thy thunder breaks
Wild as the bride that wails
In the bridegroom’s plumed pavillion!
Pan to Artemis
Of Bacchus and Mars
In the sounding rebounding
Abyss of the stars!
O virgin in armour,
Thine arrows unsling
In the brilliant resilient
First rays of the spring!
By the force of the fashion
Of love, when I broke
Through the shroud, through the cloud,
Through the storm, through the smoke,
To the mountain of passion
Volcanic that woke —
By the rage of the mage
I invoke, I invoke!
By the midnight of madness: –
The lone-lying sea,
The swoon of the moon,
Your swoon into me,
The sentinel sadness
Of cliff-clinging pine,
That night of delight
You were mine, you were mine!
You were mine, O my saint,
My maiden, my mate,
By the might of the right
Of the night of our fate.
Though I fall, though I faint,
Though I char, though I choke,
By the hour of our power
I invoke, I invoke!
By the mystical union
Of fairy and faun,
Unspoken, unbroken –
The dust to the dawn! –
A secret communion
The listless, resistless,
Tumultuous tongue! –
O virgin in armour,
Thine arrows unsling,
In the brilliant resilient
First rays of the spring!
No Godhead could charm her,
But manhood awoke –
O fiery Valkyrie,
I invoke, I invoke!
To-night I tread the unsubstantial way
That looms before me, as the thundering night
Falls on the ocean: I must stop, and pray
One little prayer, and then – what bitter fight
Flames at the end beyond the darkling goal?
These are my passions that my feet must read;
This is my sword, the fervour of my soul;
This is my Will, the crown upon my head.
For see! the darkness beckons: I have gone,
Before this terrible hour, towards the gloom,
Braved the wild dragon, called the tiger on
With whirling cries of pride, sought out the tomb
Where lurking vampires battened, and my steel
Has wrought its splendour through the gates of death
My courage did not falter: now I feel
My heart beat wave-wise, and my throat catch breath
As if I choked; some horror creeps between
The spirit of my will and its desire,
Some just reluctance to the Great Unseen
That coils its nameless terrors, and its dire
Fear round my heart; a devil cold as ice
Breathes somewhere, for I feel his shudder take
My veins: some deadlier asp or cockatrice
Slimes in my senses: I am half awake,
Half automatic, as I move along
Wrapped in a cloud of blackness deep as hell,
Hearing afar some half-forgotten song
As of disruption; yet strange glories dwell
Above my head, as if a sword of light,
Rayed of the very Dawn, would strike within
The limitations of this deadly night
That folds me for the sign of death and sin –
O Light! descend! My feet move vaguely on
In this amazing darkness, in the gloom
That I can touch with trembling sense. There shone
Once, in my misty memory, in the womb
Of some unformulated thought, the flame
And smoke of mighty pillars; yet my mind
Is clouded with the horror of this same
Path of the wise men: for my soul is blind
Yet: and the foemen I have never feared
I could not see (if such should cross the way),
And therefore I am strange: my soul is seared
With desolation of the blinding day
I have come out from: yes, that fearful light
Was not the Sun: my life has been the death,
This death may be the life: my spirit sight
Knows that at last, at least. My doubtful breath
Is breathing in a nobler air; I know,
I know it in my soul, despite of this,
The clinging darkness of the Long Ago,
Cruel as death, and closer than a kiss,
This horror of great darkness. I am come
Into this darkness to attain the light:
To gain my voice I make myself as dumb:
That I may see I close my outer sight:
So, I am here. My brows are bent in prayer:
I kneel already in the Gates of Dawn;
And I am come, albeit unaware,
To the deep sanctuary: my hope is drawn
From wells profounder than the very sea.
Yea, I am come, where least I guessed it so,
Into the very Presence of the Three
That Are beyond all Gods. And now I know
What spiritual Light is drawing me
Up to its stooping splendour. In my soul
I feel the Spring, the all-devouring Dawn,
Rush with my Rising. There, beyond the goal,
The Veil is rent!
Yes: let the veil be drawn.