Magick Without Tears, by Aleister Crowley

That's French for "the ancient system," as in the ancient system of feudal privileges and the exercise of autocratic power over the peasants. The ancien regime never goes away, like vampires and dinosaur bones they are always hidden in the earth, exercising a mysterious influence. It is not paranoia to believe that the elites scheme against the common man. Inform yourself about their schemes here.

Re: Magick Without Tears, by Aleister Crowley

Postby admin » Fri May 11, 2018 5:02 am

Chapter XVIII:The Importance of our Conventional Greetings, etc.

Cara Soror,

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

From time to time I have exhorted you with mine accustomed matchless eloquence never to neglect the prescribed Greetings: but I think it just as well to collect the various considerations connected with their use—and in "Greetings" I include "saying Will" before set meals, the four daily adorations of the Sun (Liber CC, vel Resh) and the salutation of Our Lady the Moon.1 I propose to deal with the general object of the combined rituals, not with the special virtues of each separately.

The practice of Liber III vel Jugorum* is the complement of these grouped customs. By sharp physical self-chastisement when you think, say, or do whatever it is that you have set yourself to avoid doing, you set a sentry at the gate of your mind ready to challenge all comers, and so you acquire the habit of being on the alert. Keep this in mind, and you will have no difficulty in following the argument of this letter.

When you are practicing Dharana† concentration, you allow yourself so many minutes. It is a steady, sustained effort. The mind constantly struggles to escape control. (I hope you remember the sequence of "breaks." In case you don't, I summarize them.

1. Immediate physical interruptions: Asana should stop these.
2. Things that are "on your mind."
3. Reverie, and "Wouldn't it help if I were to— ?"
4. Atmospherics—e.g. voices apparently from some alien source.
5. Aberrations of the control itself; and the result itself. (Remember the practice of some Hindu schools: "Not that, not that!" to whatever it is the presents itself as Tat Sat—reality, truth).

Need I remind you how urgent the wish to escape will assuredly become, how fantastic are the mind's devices and excuses, amounting often to deliberate revolt? In Kandy I broke away in a fury, and dashed down to Colombo with the intention of painting the very air as red as the betel- spittle on the pavements! But after three days of futile search for satisfying debauchery I came back to my horses, and, sure enough, it was merely that I had gone stale; the relaxation soothed and steadied me; I resumed the discipline with redoubled energy, and Dhyana dawned before a week had elapsed.

I mention this because it is the normal habit of the mind to organize these counter-attacks that makes their task so easy. What you need is a mind that will help rather than hinder your Work by its normal function.

This is where these Greetings, and Will-sayings, and Adorations come in.

It is not a concentration-practice proper; I haven't a good word for it. "Background-concentration" or "long-distance-concentration" are clumsy, and not too accurate. It is really rather like a public school education. One is not constantly "doing a better thing that one has ever done;" one is not dropping one's eye-glass every two minutes, or being a little gentleman in the act of brushing one's hair. The point is that one trains oneself to react properly at any moment of surprise. It must become "second nature" for "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law." to spring to the forefront of the mind when one is introduced to a stranger, or comes down to breakfast, or hears the telephone bell, or observes the hour of the adoration, (these are to be the superficial reactions, like instinctively rising when a lady enters the room), or, at the other end, in moments of immediate peril, or of sudden apprehension, or when in one's meditation, one approaches the deepest strata.

One need not be dogmatic about the use of these special words. One might choose a formula to represent one's own particular True Will. It is a little like Cato, (or Scipio, was it?) who concluded every speech, whether about the Regulations of the Roman Bath or the proposal to reclaim a marsh of the Maremma, with the words: "And moreover, in my opinion, Carthage ought to be destroyed."

Got it?

You teach the mind to push your thought automatically to the very thing from which it was trying to wander. "Yes, I get you Stephen! . . . But, Uncle Dudley, come clean, do you always do all this yourself? Don't you sometimes feel embarrassed, or fear that you may destroy the effect of your letter, or "create a scene" in the public street when you suddenly stop and perform these incomprehensible antics, or simply forget about the whole thing?"

Yes, I do.


Mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.

I am not your old and valued friend, Adam Qadmon, the Perfect Man.

I am a pretty poor specimen.

I am nothing to cable about to Lung Peng Choung, or Himi, or Monsalvat.

I do forget now and again; though, I am glad to say, not nearly as often as I used to do. (As the habit is acquired, it tends to strengthen itself). But often I deliberately omit to do my duty. I do funk it. I do resent it. I do feel that it's too much bother.

As I said above, Adam Qadman is not my middle name.

Well now, have I any shadow of an excuse? Yes, I have, after a fashion; I don't think it good manners to force my idiosyncrasies down people's throats, and I don't want to appear more of an eccentric than I need. It might detract from my personal influence, and so actually harm the Work that I am trying to perform. . .

"Yes, that's all very well, Alibi Ike; you are exceedingly well know as a Scripture-quoting Satan, as a Past-Master in self-justification. Trained from infancy by the Plymouth Brethern, who for casuistry leave the Jesuits at the post!" "Yes, yes, but — — —."

"You needn't but me no buts, you old he-goat! Wasn't there once a Jonas Hanway, the first man to sport an umbrella? Wouldn't your practice be natural, and right, and the cream of the cream of good manners as soon as a few hundred people of position took to doing it? And wouldn't Thomas, Richard, and Henry, three months later, make a point of doing the same as their betters?" (That was Conscience speaking.)

All right, you win.

Love is the law, love under will.



* See Magick in Theory and Practice, pp. 427 - 429.

† Book 4, Part I.



1: The whole matter of lunar salutations is covered in an appendix to the copy of Liber Resh on this site.
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Re: Magick Without Tears, by Aleister Crowley

Postby admin » Fri May 11, 2018 5:03 am

Chapter XIX: The Act of Truth

Cara Soror,

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

It seems that last Wednesday I so far forgot myself as to refer to the "Act of Truth" in conversation, and never mentioned what it is when it's at home, or why anyone should perform it, or what happens when one does perform it!

All right, I will remedy that; luckily, it is a very simple matter; very important, perfectly paradoxical and devastatingly effective.

Analysed, it is to make the assumption that something which seems very wrong is actually all right, that an eager wish is an accomplished fact. a reasonable anxiety, entirely unfounded—and to act accordingly.

For instance, I'm in some desolate place, dependent for my food supply on a weekly messenger. If he is a day late, it is awkward; if two, it means hardship; if three, serious risk. One is naturally anxious as the day approaches; perhaps the weather, or some similar snag, makes it likely that he will be late. From one cause or another, I have rather exceeded my ration. There is nothing I can do about it, materially.

The sensible course of action is to draw in my horns, live on the minimum, necessary to life, which involves cutting the day's work down to almost nothing, and hope for the best, expecting the worst.

But there is a Magical mode of procedure. You say to yourself: I am here to do this Work in accordance with my true Will. The Gods have got to see to it that I'm not baulked by any blinking messenger. (But take care They don't overhear you; They might mistake it for Hybris, or presumption. Do it all in the Sign of Silence, under the aegis of Harpocrates, the "Lord of Defence and Protection"; be careful to assume his God-form, as standing on two crocodiles. Then you increase your consumption, and at the same time put in a whole lot of extra Work. If you perform this "Act of Truth" properly, with genuine conviction that nothing can go wrong, your messenger will arrive a day early, and bring an extra large supply.

This, let me say at once, is very difficult, especially at first, until one has gained confidence in the efficacy of the Formula; and it is very nastily easy to "fake." Going through the motions (as they say) is more futile here than in most cases, and the results of messing it up are commonly disastrous.*

* Do not be misled by any apparent superficial resemblance to "Christian Science" and "Coueism" and their cackling kin. They miss every essential feature of the formula.

You must invent your act to suit your case, every time; suppose you expect a cable next Friday week, transferring cash to your account. You need $500 to make up an important payment, and you don't know whether they will send even $200. What are you going to do about it? Skimp, and save your expenses, and make yourself miserable and incapable of vigorous thought or action? You may succeed in saving enough to swing the deal; but you won't get a penny beyond the amount actually needed—and look at the cost in moral grandeur!

No, go and stand yourself a champagne luncheon, and stroll up Bond Street with an 8 1/2 "Hoyo de Monterey," and squander $30 on some utterly useless bauble. Then the $500 will swell to $1000, and arrive two days early at that!

There are one or two points to consider very carefully indeed before you start:—

1. The proposed Act must be absurd; it won't do at all if by some fluke, however unlikely, it might accomplish your aim. For instance, it's no use backing an outsider. There must be no causal link.

2. The Act must be one which makes the situation definitely worse. E.g.: suppose you are counting on a new dress to make a hit at a Reception, and doubt whether it is so much better than your present best, or whether it will be finished in time. Then, wear that present best to-night (wet, of course), knowing you are sure to soil it.

3. Obviously, all the usual conditions of a Magical Operation apply in this as in all cases; your aim must conform with your True Will, and all that; but there is one curious point about an Act of Truth: this, that one should resort to it only when there is no other method possible. In the explorer's case, above, it won't do if he has any means of hurrying up the messenger.

It seems to me that the above brief sketch should suffice an intelligent and imaginative student like yourself; but if any point remains darkling, let me know, and I will follow up with a postscript.

Love is the law, love under will.

Yours fraternally,


P.S.—I thought it might help you if I were to make a few experiments. I have done so. Result: this is much more difficult and delicate an affair than I had thought when I wrote this letter. For instance, one single thought of a "second string"—e.g. "if it fails, I had better do so and so"—is enough to kill the while operation stone dead. Of course, I am totally out of practice; but, even so . . . . . .
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Re: Magick Without Tears, by Aleister Crowley

Postby admin » Fri May 11, 2018 5:04 am

Chapter XX: Talismans: The Lamen: The Pantacle

Cara Soror,

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

Really you comfort me when you turn from those abstruse and exalted themes with which you have belaboured me so often of late to dear cuddlesome little questions like this in our letter received this morning: "Do please, dear Master, give me some hints about how to make Talismans (that's the same as Telesmata, isn't it? Yes, 666) and the Pantacle. The official instructions are quite clear, of course;1 but somehow I find them just a little frightening."

Well, I think I know pretty well what you mean; so I will try to imitate the style of Aunt Tabitha in "The Flapper's Fireside."

For one thing, you forgot to mention the Lamen. Now what are these things when they are at home? That's easy enough.

The Lamen is a sort of Coat of Arms. It expresses the character and powers of the wearer.

A talisman is a storehouse of some particular kind of energy, the kind that is needed to accomplish the task for which you have constructed it.

The Pantacle is often confused with both the others; accurately, it is a "Minutum Mundum", "the Universe in Little"; it is a map of all that exists, arranged in the Order of Nature. There is a chapter in Book 4, Part II, devoted to it (pp. 117 - 129); I cannot make up my mind whether I like it. At the best it is very far from being practical instruction. (The chapter on the Lamen, pp. 159 - 161, is even worse.)

An analogy, not too silly, for these three; the Chess-player, the Openings, and the Game itself.

But—you will object—why be silly at all? Why not say simply that the Lamen, stating as it does the Character and Powers of he wearer, is a dynamic portrait of the individual, while the Pantacle, his Universe, is a static portrait of him? And that, you pursue flattering, is why you preferred to call the Weapon of Earth (in the Tarot) the Disk, emphasizing its continual whirling movement rather than the Pantacle of Coin, as is more usual. Once again, exquisite child of our Father the Archer of Light and of seaborn Aphrodite, your well-known acumen has "nicked the ninety and nine and one over" as Browning says when he (he too!) alludes to the Tarot.

As you will have gathered from the above, a Talisman is a much more restricted idea; it is no more than one of the objects in his Pantacle, one of the arrows in the quiver of his Lamen. As, then, you would expect, it is very little trouble to design. All that you need is to "make considerations" about your proposed operation, decide which planet, sign, element or sub-element or what not you need to accomplish your miracle.

As you know, a very great many desirable objects can be attained by the use of the talismans in the Greater and Lesser Keys of Solomon the King; also in Pietro di Abano2 and the dubious Fourth Book of Cornelius Agrippa.3

You must on no account attempt to use the squares given in the Book of the Sacred Magic of Abramelin the Mage until you have succeeded in the Operation. More, unless you mean to perform it, and are prepared to go to any length to do so, you are a fool to have the book in your possession at all. Those squares are liable to get loose and do things on their own initiative; and you won't like it.

The late Philip Haseltine, a young composer of genius, used one of these squares to get his wife to return to him. He engraved it neatly on his arm. I don't know how he proceeded to set to work; but his wife came back all right, and a very short time afterwards he killed himself.

Then there are the Elemental Tablets of Sir Edward Kelly and Dr. John Dee. From these you can extract a square to perform almost any conceivable operation, if you understand the virtue of the various symbols which they manifest. They are actually an expansion of the Tarot. (Obviously, the Tarot itself as a whole is a universal Pantacle—forgive the pleonasm! Each card, especially is this true of the Trumps, is a talisman; and the whole may also be considered as the Lamen of Mercury. It is evidently an Idea far too vast for any human mind to comprehend in its entirety. For it is "the Wisdom whereby He created the worlds.")

The decisive advantage of this system is not that its variety makes it so adaptable to our needs, but that we already posses the Invocations necessary to call forth the Energies required. What is perhaps still more to the point, they work without putting the Magician to such severe toil and exertion as is needed when he has to write them out from his own ingenium. Yes! This is weakness on my part, and I am very naughty to encourage you to shirk the hardest path.

I used often to make the background of my Talismans of four concentric circles, painting then, the first (inmost) in the King (or Knight) scale, the second in the Queen, the third in the Prince, and the outermost in the Princess scale, of the Sign, Planet, or Element to which I was devoting it. On this, preferably in the "flashing" colours, I would paint the appropriate Names and Figures.

Lastly, the Talisman may be surrounded with a band inscribed with a suit- able "versicle" chosen from some Holy book, or devised by the Magician to suit the case.

In the British Museum (and I suppose elsewhere) you may see the medal struck to commemorate the victory over the Armada. This is a reproduction, perhaps modified, of the Talisman used by Dee to raise the storm which scattered the enemy fleet.

You must lay most closely to your heart the theory of the Magical Link (see Magick pp. 107 - 122) and see well to it that it rings true; for without this your talisman is worse than useless. It is dangerous; for all that Energy is bound to expend itself somehow; it will make its own links with anything handy that takes its fancy; and you can get into any sort of the most serious kind of trouble.

There is a great deal of useful stuff in Magick; pp. 92 - 100, and pp. 179 - 189. I could go on all night doing nothing but indicating sources of information.

Then comes the question of how to "charge" the Talisman, of how to evoke or to invoke the Beings concerned, and of—oh! of so much that you need a lifetime merely to master the theory.

Remember, too, please, what I have pointed out elsewhere, that the greatest Masters have quite often not been Magicians at all, technically; they have used such devices as Secret Societies, Slogans and Books. If you are so frivolous as to try to exclude these from our discourse, it is merely evidence that you have not understood a single word of what I have been trying to tell you these last few hundred years!

May I close with a stray example or so? Equinox III, 1, has the Neophyte's Pantacle of Frater O.I.V.V.I.O.4 The Fontispiece of the original (4 volume) edition of Magick, the colors vilely reproduced, is a Lamen of my own Magick, or a Pantacle of the Science, I'm sure I'm not sure which!5

Most of my Talismans, like my Invocations, have been poems.6 This letter must be like the Iliad in at least one respect: it does not end; it stops.

Love is the law, love under will.

Yours fraternally,




1: The official instruction on the Pantacle (in Liber A vel Armorum) states, inter alia, that it should bear "a symbol to represent the Universe." The Pantacle and Lamen are both, as Crowley notes, discussed in Book 4 part II. I am not aware of any official A.'.A.'. instruction dealing directly with Talismans – T.S.

2: The reference is unlikely to be to the Heptameron, a 16th century Grimoire spuriously attributed to Abano, as this does not deal with talismans at all, rather it is a ritual for the evocation of planetary spirits. According to writers such as Frances Yates and D.P. Walker, some of the undisputed works of Pietro d'Abano deal with astrological images and the talismanic use of the same, although I have been unable to consult these directly – T.S.

3: "The Fourth Book of Occult Philosophy, or of Magical Ceremonies" was a short work on magical practice which first came to public attention in the 1550s, some twenty years after the death of its alleged author. It purports to be a "complement and key" to Agrippa's De Occulta Philosophia libri tres. The author credit is generally regarded as spurious. It does however treat at length of the composition of "pentacles" (pentacula; as described by pseudo-Agrippa they belong more under the head of "talismans" in Crowley's classification), giving a few examples – T.S.

4: C.S. Jones (Frater Achad). Achad's Lamen design also appeared in that issue – T.S.

5: The design was reproduced as a colour painting by Steffi Grant in her essay on Crowley published as Carfax Monograph #3 (reprinted in Hidden Lore by Kenneth and Steffi Grant, London: Skoob, 1989), as a black and white line drawing by the same artist in the 1973 RKP edition of Crowley's Magick, and as a colour graphic redrawn by an unidentified illustrator on the dust-jacket of the 1994 "Blue Brick" Weiser edition of Magick – T.S.

6: See also The Books of the Beast by Timothy d'Arche Smith for Crowley's use of "talismanic" principles in book design – T.S.
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Re: Magick Without Tears, by Aleister Crowley

Postby admin » Fri May 11, 2018 5:05 am

Chapter XXI: My Theory of Astrology

Cara Soror,

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

A few well-chosen words about Astrology? Madam, I am only too happy to oblige: our aim is to serve. The customer is usually wrong; but statistics indicate that it doesn't pay to tell him so.

It seems a long while since I set up your Nativity, and read it, but it is very clear in my mind that you were astonished, as so many others have been, by the simplicity and correctness of my reading. It began, you remember, by your giving me the usual data when we dropped in for tea at the Anglers' Rest. I calculated the Ascendant on the spot, and remarked "Rubbish!" I looked at you again very carefully; and, after many grunts, observed, "More likely half-past ten—within an hour one way or the other." You insisted; I insisted. Unwilling to make a Fracas in the Inn, we decided to put you to the trouble of writing to your mother to settle the dispute. Back came the answer: "within a few minutes of eleven. I remember because your father had hung on as long as he could—he had to take the morning service."

This occurrence is very common in my experience; I have contradicted what sounded like ascertained fact and proved on enquiry to have been right; so, considering that the statistics I made many years ago showed me to have been right 109 times out of 120, I think two things are fairly near probation; firstly, I am not guessing—that doesn't matter much; but, secondly, which is of supreme importance, there is a definite connection between the personal appearance and manner of the native, and the Sign of the Zodiac which was rising when he first drew air into his lungs.

Let me add, to strengthen the argument, that on the few occasions where I have erred there has been a good astrological reason for it. E.g. I might plump for Pisces rising when it was actually Capricornus; but in that case Saturn would have been afflicted by being in Cancer, with bad aspects from Venus and the Moon, thus taking away all his rugged, male, laborious qualities, and in the Ascendant might have been Jupiter, suggesting many of the qualities of Pisces: and so forth.

Now let me start! You want me to explain the system—or no-system!—which I use. I do not "move in a mysterious way My wonders to perform;" for nothing could be simpler. For its origin I have to thank Abramelin the Mage, who empties the vials of his scorn upon the astrologers of his time with their meticulous calculations of "the hours of the planets" and so on. I think he goes too far when he says that a planet can have no influence at all, or very little, unless it is above the horizon; but he meant well, bless him! And, though he does not say so, I believe that I do my stuff in very much the same way as he did.

Modern astrologers multiply their charts until their desks remind me of a Bargain Basement in the rush hour! They compare and contrast until they are in bat-eyed bewilderment bemused; and when the answer turns out absolutely false, exclaim, what a shout: "By Ptolemy, I forgot to look at the last Luniation for Buda-Pesth!" But then they can always find something or other which will explain how they came to go wrong: naturally, when you have several hundred factors, helplessly bound and gagged, it would be just too bad if you couldn't pick out one to serve your turn—after the event! No, dear girl, it should be obvious to an unweaned brat: (a) they can't see the wood for the trees, (b) they are using Ruach on a proposition which demands Neschamah. Intellect is quite inadequate; the problem requires mother-wit, intuition, understanding.

Here is my system in a Number 000 Ampoule.

Put up the figure at birth: study it, make notes of the aspects and dignities, concentrate—and turn on the Magical Tap!

Occasionally, when I began, I set up the "progressed figure" to see how the patient was doing this week, but it never seemed to help enough to compensate for the distraction caused by the complication. What I do observe to examine the situation of to-day is Transits. These I have found very reliable; but even with these I usually ignore aspects of minor importance. Truth to tell, conjunctions mean very much more than the rest put together.

Talking of aspects, I think it ridiculous to allow vast "orbs" like 15— for Luna, and 12— for Sol. Astrologers go to extreme lengths to calculate the "solar revolution" figure not to a degree, not to a minute, but to a second: and that when they don't know the exact time of birth within half an hour or more! Talk about straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel! Then what does an hour or so matter anyhow, if you are going to allow an aspect, whether it is 2— or 10— off? This even with delicate aspects like the quintile or semi-sextile. What would you think of a doctor who had a special thermometer made to register -1/100 of a degree, and never took notice of the fact that the patient had just swallowed a cupful of scalding hot tea?

In my own work, I disallow a deviation of 5— or 6— from the exact aspect, unless there is some alien reason for thinking that it is actually operative. With the minor aspects, I dislike reckoning with them if they are even 3— away.

Nor do I see any sense in marking the odd minutes in the Ascendant, when one is not sure even of the decan.

That seems to be about all that is necessary for my "morning hate;" suppose we go on to the question of interpretation.

Thousands of books have been written on Astrology; nobody could possible read them all thoroughly, and he would be a great fool to try. But he may do little harm by going into them far enough to observe that hardly any half-dozen are agreed even on the foundations of their system, hardly any two upon the meaning of any given aspect, dignity, or position; there is not always agreement even upon what questions pertain to which houses.

There are a few completely quack systems, such as those which mix up the science with Toshosophical1 hypotheses; naturally you discard these. But even of generally acceptable forms of Astrology, such as Mundane and Horary, I tend to be distrustful. I ask, for instance, why, if Taurus rules Poland and Ireland, as is no doubt the case, the crash and massacres of 1939 e.v. and later in the one did not take place in the other. All the seaports of the world naturally come under one of the three watery signs; but we do not find that an affliction of Pisces, which hits Tunis, should do harm to all the other harbours similarly ruled.

This brings us to the first Big Jump in the steeplechase of the whole science. We hear of thousands of people being killed at the same time (within an hour or two, perhaps a minute or two) by earthquake, shipwreck, explosion, battle or other form of violence. Was the horoscope of every one of the victims marked with the probability of some such end? I have known very strange cases of coincidence, but not to that extent!

The answer, I believe, is manifold. It might be, for example, that Poland and Ireland are ruled by different degrees of Taurus; that there are major and minor figures, the former overruling the latter, so that the figure of the launching of the "Titanic" swallowed up the nativities of the victims of her wreck.

Something of this sort is really an obvious truth. Flood in China, famine in India, pestilence anywhere, evidently depend on maps of a scale far more enormous than the personal.

Then—on this point I feel reasonably sure—there may be one or more factors of which we know nothing at all, by which the basic possibilities of a figure are set to work. (Just as a car with engine running will not start until the clutch is put in.)

I will conclude by announcing a rather remarkable position.

1. I see no objection at all to postulating that certain "rays," or other means of transmitting some peculiar form or forms of energy, may reach us from the other parts of the solar system; for we can in fact point to perfectly analogous phenomena in the discoveries of the last hundred years or so. But that is no more than a postulate.

2. The objections to Astrology as such, indicated by what I have already pointed out, and several others, would suffice to place me among the most arrogant disbelievers in the whole study, were it not for what follows.

3. The facts with regard to the Ascendant are so patent, so undeniable, and so inexplicable without the postulate in (1), that I am utterly convinced of the fundamental truth of the basic principles of the science.

I said, "I will conclude"; and I meant it. For now that (or so I hope) you respect sufficiently my conviction that Astrology is a genuine science and not a messy mass of Old Wives' Tales, you will obviously demand instruction as to how to learn it, that you may verify my opinion in the light of your own experiments.

This will look much better if I put it in a separate letter.

'Till then—

Love is the law, love under will.





1: By now this term has appeared several times, and it will be going by more than a few times ahead. Crowley disdained to apply "Theosophical" to the movement of Anne Besant, preferring to reserve the word for older systems. He coined the word "TOSHosophical" to replace "Theosophical" in these references – WEH.
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Re: Magick Without Tears, by Aleister Crowley

Postby admin » Fri May 11, 2018 5:06 am

Chapter XXII: How to Learn the Practice of Astrology

Cara Soror,

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

"Up guards, and at 'em!" First, you must know your correspondences by heart backwards and upside down (air connu.) They are practically all in The Book of Thoth; but "if anyone anything lacks," look for it in 777.

Then, get a book on Astrology, the older the better. Raphael's Shilling Handbook is probably enough for the present purpose. Get well into your head what the menu says about the natures of the planets, the influence of the aspects, what is meant by dignities, the scope of the houses, and so on.

Dovetail all this with your classical knowledge; the character and qualities, the powers and the exploits, of the several deities concerned.

Next, learn how to set up a figure of the heavens. This need not take an average intelligent person more than an hour at the most. You can learn it from a book. Lastly, get Barley's 1001 Notable nativities and More Nativites. Also any other collections available. Practice setting up the horoscopes. Use the Chaldean square system; it shows at the first glance what is happening in the angular houses, which are the keys of the whole figure.

Compare and contrast what you know of the natives, from history, with what is said of the aspects (and the rest) in the books you have read.

Put together similar horoscopes; e.g. a dozen which have Sagittarius rising, another lot with Jupiter in the mid-heaven, and so on; see if you can find a similarity in their lives with what the books will have led you to expect.

Don't be afraid to criticise; on the contrary, do some research work on your own, and find cases which seem to contradict tradition.

Instance: Saturn in the M.C. is said to cause a spectacular rise in a man's career, ending in an equally notable crash. Examples: Napoleon I and III, Oscar Wilde, Woodrow Wilson, Lord Northcliffe, Hitler. Look for figures with Saturn thus placed, whose natives have jogged along equably and died in the odour of sanctity. Find out why what worked in some cases failed in the others.

By the time you have studied (say) 500 nativities you will be already a fairly competent judge. Work your bloody guns! as Kipling says; get a friend—just this once I allow you human intercourse—to set up for you figures of historical importance, or with some outstanding characteristic (e.g. murderers, champions of sport, statesmen, monsters, philanthropists, heresiarchs) without telling you to whom it refers.

Build up the character, profession, story from the nativity. It sounds incredible; but more than a score of times I have been actually able to name him!

By the time you have got good at this game—and a most amusing game it is—you may call yourself a very competent astrologer.

Sometimes, even now, you may assign the figure of the Archbishop of York to Jabez Balfour or Catherine de Medici; or mix up Moody and Sankey with Brown and Kennedy; don't be discouraged; perhaps there may be something to be said for you after all!

I believe, as I hope, that you will be surprised at the speed with which you acquire proficiency.

All this time, moreover, you have not been wholly idle. You will have been running about like a demented rabbit, and trying to spot the rising sign of everybody you know. Look at them full-face, then profile; and note salient characteristics, pendulous lips, receding chins, bulbous noses, narrow foreheads, stuck-out ears, pimples, squints, warts, shape of face (three main types; thin, jutting, for cardinal signs; square, steadfast for cherubic; weak, nondescript, for the rest); then the stature, whether lithe, well-knit, sturdy, muscular, fat or what not; in short every bodily feature in turn; make up your mind what sign was rising at birth, and stick to it!

Now to verify your suspicions. The conversation may run thus:

You: "Can you answer a question without answering another which you were not asked?"

It, surprised: "Why, yes, of course I can."

You: "Good. Then, do you know the date of the Battle of Waterloo?"

It: "1815."

You probably have to explain! In any case you begin all over again, when he has contented himself with "Yes" or "No" you say "Do you know the hour of your birth?" If he says "No," you ask if he can find out, and so on. If he says "Yes;" "Then tell me either the hour or the day and month; but not both." If he gives you the hour, you calculate a bit, and say: "Then you were born on the nth of Xember, within a fortnight either way."

If he tells you his birthday, work it out as before and then: "You were born at P in the morning within an hour either way." (This makes it about 11 to 1 against your being right, in either case, on pure chance.)

Again, you can practise this in cafés, when you visit civilized countries, and it is often possible to scrape acquaintance with people who look specially interesting, and do not, as in England, instantly suspect you of dishonourable advances, and get them to play up. This is sometimes easier when you are already with that friend which I was so lax as to allow you; and it is, I own, very helpful to discuss strange faces if only to make it quite clear to your own mind why you decide on one as Virgo, another as Taurus.

A strange thing happened once; I had explained all this to the girl that I happened to be living with: that is, I taught her the names of the signs; she knew no Astrology, net even the simple correspondences. After about a month, she was better at it than I was! ("Why strange?" you mutter rudely. "Quite right, my dear! I have always been a wretched reader of character. Bless my soul! there was a time when I had hopes of you," I savagely retort.) She had picked up the knack, the trick of it; she could select, eliminate, re-compose, compare with past experience, and form a judgment, without knowing the names of its materials.

When you have got your sea-legs at both these parts of your astrological education, you may (I think) put out to sea with some confidence. Perhaps a fair test of your fitness would be when you got three people right out of four, in a total of a score or so. Well, allow for my being in a "mood" to-night; call it two out of three. If it were guesswork, after all, that means you are bringing it off at seven to one. Obviously, when you do go wrong, set up the figure, study it more carefully than ever, and find out what misled you.

Remember constantly that the Statistical Method is your one and only safeguard against self-deception.

Within the limits of a letter I could hardly hope to go into matters much more fully or deeply than I have done; but 'pon my soul! I think that what I have said should be enough for an intelligent and assiduous student. Let me insist that all that is worth while comes by experience. Learning one thing will give you the clue to another.

Well do I know to my sorrow how hard it is, as a rule, to learn how to do a thing solely from written instruction; so perhaps you had better arrange to see me one day about the actual setting-up of a figure. Probably, too, there will be a few points that you would like to discuss.

I will end by betting you six clothing coupons to a pound of sugar that in two years' concentrated work on these lines you will become a better astrologer than ever I was. (This is very cunning of me; in two years we shall all be getting clothes without coupons.)

Love is the law, love under will.

Yours fraternally,

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Re: Magick Without Tears, by Aleister Crowley

Postby admin » Fri May 11, 2018 5:07 am

Chapter XXIII: Improvising a Temple

Cara Soror,

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

(This letter has been provoked by points discussed in your recent visit.)

As some of your daily practices are ceremonial, it should not come amiss to vouchsafe a few hints of practical service. For in ritual Magick, it will of course be the first care to get everything balanced and tidy.

If you propose to erect a regular Temple, the most precise instructions in every detail are given in Book 4, Part II. (But I haven't so much as seen a copy for years!) There is a good deal scattered about in Part III (Magick, which you have) especially about the four elemental weapons.

But if circumstances deny you for the moment the means of carrying out this Ædification as the Ideal would have it, you can certainly do your best to create a fairly satisfactory—above all, workable—substitute.

(By the way, note the moral aspect of a house, as displayed in our language. "Edification"—"house-making": from Latin Aedes, "house". "Economy"—"house-ruling": from the Greek "ΟΙΚΟΣ", "House" and "ΝΟΜΟΣ", "law.")

I was often reduced to such expedients when wandering in strange lands, camping on glaciers, and so on. I fixed it workably well. In Mexico, D.F. for instance, I took my bedroom itself for the Circle, my night-table for the Altar, my candle for the Lamp; and I made the Weapons compact. I had a Wand eight inches long, all precious stones and enamel, to represent the Tree of Life; within, an iron tube containing quicksilver—very correct, lordly, and damsilly. What a club! Also, bought, a silver-gilt Cup; for Air and Earth I made one sachet of rose-petals in yellow silk, and another in green silk packed with salt. In the wilds it was easy, agreeable and most efficacious to make a Circle, and build an altar, of stones; my Alpine Lantern served admirably for the Lamp. It did double duty when required: e.g. in partaking of the Sacrament of the Four Elements, it served for Fire. But your conditions are not so restricted as this.

Let us consider what one can do with an ordinary house, such as you are happy enough to possess.

First of all, it is of immense advantage to have a room specially consecrated to the Work, never used for any other purpose, and never entered by any other person than yourself, unless it were another Initiate, either for inspection or in case you were working together.

The aura accumulates with the regularity and frequency of Use.

The first point is the Banishing: Everything is to be removed from the room which is not absolutely necessary to the Work.

In this country, one must attend to the heating. An electric stove in the East or the South, is best: it must not need attention. One can usually buy stoves with excellent appropriate symbolism. (Last time I did this—13 e.v.—I got a perfect Ferranti at Harrods. The circular copper bowl, with the central Disk as the source of heat, is unsurpassable.) The walls should be "self-coloured," a neutral tint—green, grey or blue-grey? and entirely bare, unless you put up, in the proper quarters, the proper designs, such as the "Watch Towers"—see The Equinox I, 7.1

Remember that your "East," your Kiblah, is Boleskine House, which is as near as possible due North from Plymouth. Find North by the shadow of a vertical rod and noon, or by the Pole-Star. Work out the angle as usual.

The Stélé of Revealing may be just on the N. Wall to make your "East."

Next, your Circle. The floor ought to be "Earth" green; but white will serve, or black. (A Masonic carpet is not at all bad.) The Circle itself should be as shown in "Book 4", Part II; but as this volume is probably unavailable, ask me to show you the large painted diagram in my portfolio when next you visit me, and we can arrange for it to be copied.

This should then be painted in the correct colours on the floor: the Kether Square to the North, your "East."

The Altar must fit exactly the square of Tiphareth; it is best made as a cupboard; of oak or acacia, by preference. It can then be used to hold reserves of incense and other requisites.

Note that the height of the Altar has to suit your convenience. It is consequently in direct relation with your own stature; in proportion, it is a double cube. This then determines the size of your circle; in fact the entire apparatus and furniture is a geometrical function of yourself. Consider it all as a projection of yourself in terms of these conventional formulae. (A convention does really mean "that which is convenient." How abject, then to obey a self-styled convention which is actually as inconvenient as possible!)2

Next, the Lamp. This may be of silver, or silver-gilt, (to represent the Path of Gimel) and is to be hung from the ceiling exactly above the centre of the altar. There are plenty of old church lamps which serve very well. The light is to be from a wick in a floating cork in a glass of olive oil. (I hope you can get it!) It is really desirable to make this as near the "Ever-burning Lamp of the Rosicrucians" as possible; it is not a drawback that this implies frequent attention.

Now for the Weapons!

The Wand. Let this be simple, straight and slim! Have you an Almond or Witch Hazel in your garden—or do I call it park? If so, cut (with the magick knife—I would lend you mine) a bough, as nearly straight as possible, about two feet long. Peel it, rub it constantly with Oil of Abramelin (this, and his incense, from Wallis and Co., 26 New Cavendish Street, W.1) and keep wrapped in scarlet silk, constantly, I wrote, and meant it; rub it, when saying your mantra, to the rhythm of that same. (Remember, "A ka dua" is the best; ask me to intone it to you when you next visit me.)

The Cup. There are plenty of chalices to be bought. It should be of silver. If ornamented, the best form is that of the apple. I have seen suitable cups in many shops.

The Sword. The ideal form is shown in the Ace of Swords in the Tarot.

At all events, let the blade be straight, and the hilt a simple cross. (The 32° Masonic Sword is not too bad; Kenning or Spencer in Great Queen Street, W.C.2 stock them—or used to do.)

The Disk. This ought to be of pure gold, with your own Pantacle, designed by yourself after prolonged study, graved thereupon. While getting ready for this any plain circle of gold will have to serve your turn. Quite flat, of course. If you want a good simple design to go on interim, try the Rosy Cross or the Unicursal Hexagram.
So much for the Weapons! Now, as to your personal accoutrements, Robe, Lamen, Sandals and the like, The Book of the Law has most thoughtfully simplified matters for us. "I charge you earnestly to come before me in a single robe, and covered with a rich headdress." (AL I, 61) The Robe may well be in the form of the Tau Cross; i.e. expanding from axilla to ankle, and from shoulder to—whatever you call the place where your hands come out. (Shape well shown in the illustration Magick face p. 360). You being a Probationer, plain black is correct;3 and the Unicursal Hexagram might be embroidered, or "applique" (is it? I mean "stuck on"), upon the breast. The best head-dress is the Nemyss: I cannot trust myself to describe how to make one, but there are any number of models in the British Museum, on in any Illustrated Hieroglyphic text. The Sphinx wears one, and there is a photograph, showing the shape and structure very clearly, in the Equinox I, 1, frontispiece to Supplement. You can easily make one yourself out of silk; broad black-and-white stripes is a pleasing design. Avoid "artistic" complexities.

Well, that ought to be enough to keep you out of mischief for a little while; but I feel moved to add a line of caution and encouragement.

Faites attention!
Khabardar karo!

Just as soon as you start seriously to prepare a place for magical Work, the world goes more cockeyed than it is already. Don't be surprised if you find that six weeks' intense shopping all over London fails to provide you with some simple requisite that normally you could buy in ten minutes. Perhaps your fires simply refuse to burn, even when liberally dosed with petrol and phosphorus, with a handful of Chlorate of Potash thrown in just to show there is no ill feeling! When you have almost decided that you had better make up your mind to do without something that seems really quite unobtainable—say, a sixty-carat diamond which would look so well on the head-dress—a perfect stranger comes along and makes you a present of one. Or, a long series of quite unreasonable obstacles or silly accidents interfere with your plans: or, the worst difficulty in your way is incomprehensibly removed by some extraordinary "freak of chance." Or, . . .

In a word, you seem to have strolled into a world where—well, it might be going too far to say that the Law of Cause and Effect is suspended; but at least the Law of Probability seems to be playing practical jokes on you.

This means that your manoeuvres have somehow attracted the notice of the Astral Plane: your new neighbours (May I call them?) are taking an interest in the latest Tenderfoot, some to welcome, to do all they can to help you to settle down, others indignant or apprehensive at this disturbance of routine. This is where your Banishings and Invocations come to the rescue. Of course, I am not here referring to the approach to Sanctuaries which of necessity are closely guarded, but merely to the recognition of a new-comer to that part of the world in general.

Of course all these miracles are very naughty of you; they mean that your magical power has sprung a few small leaks; at least, the water is oozing between some planks not sealed as Hermetically as they should be. But oh and this is naughtier still—it is a blessed, blessed comfort that they happen, that chance, coincidence and all the rest will simply not explain it all away, that your new vision of life is not a dream, but part and parcel of Experience for evermore, a real as any other manifestation of Reality through sense such as is common to all men.

And this brings us—it has been a long way round—from the suggestion of your visit to the question (hitherto unanswered) in your letter.

You raise so vast and razor-edged a question when you write of the supposed antinomy of "soul" and "sense" that it seemed better to withhold comment until this later letter; much meditation was most needful to compress the answer within reasonable limits; even to give it form at all is no easy matter. For this is probably the symptom of the earliest stirring of the mind of the cave-man to reflection, thereunto moved by other symptoms—those of the morning after following upon the night before. It is—have we not already dealt with that matter after a fashion?—evidence of disease when an organ become aware of its own modes of motion. Certainly the mere fact of questioning Life bears witness to some interruption of its flow, just as a ripple on an even stream tells of a rock submerged. The fiercer the torrent and the bigger the obstacle, the greater the disturbance to the surface—have I not seen them in the Bralduh eight feet high? Lethargic folk with no wild impulse of Will may get through Life in bovine apathy; we may well note that (in a sense) the rage of the water seems to our perturbed imagining actually to increase and multiply the obstructions; there is a critical point beyond which the ripples fight each other!

That, in short, is a picture of you!

You have mistaken the flurry of passing over some actual snag for a snag in itself! You put the blame on to your own quite rational attempts to overcome difficulties. The secret of the trick of getting past the rocks is elasticity; yet it is that very quality with which you reproach yourself!

We even, at the worst, reach the state for which Buddhism, in the East presents most ably the case: as in the West, does James Thomson (B.V.) in The City of Dreadful Night; we come to wish for—or, more truly to think that we wish for "blest Nirvana's sinless stainless Peace" (or some such twaddle—thank God I can't recall Arnold's mawkish and unmanly phrase!) and B.V.'s "Dateless oblivion and divine repose."

I insist on the "think that you wish," because, if the real You did really wish the real That, you could never have come to exist at all! ("But I don't exist."—"I know—let's get on!")

Note, please, how sophistically unconvincing are the Buddhist theories of how we ever got into this mess. First cause: Ignorance. Way out, then, knowledge. O.K., that implies a knower, a thing known—and so on and so forth, thought all the Three Waste Paper Baskets of the Law; analysed, it turns out to be nonsense all dolled up to look like thinking. And there is no genuine explanation of the origin of the Will to be.

How different, how simple, how self-evident, is the doctrine of The Book of the Law!

There are any number of passages dealing with this matter in my writings: let's forget them, and keep to the Text!

Cap. I, v. 26 ". . my ecstasy, the consciousness of the continuity of existence, the omnipresence of my body."

V. 30 "This is the creation of the world, that the pain of division is as nothing, and the joy of dissolution all." (There is a Qabalistic inner meaning in this text; "the pain," for instance, Ο ΑΛΓΟΣ, may be read XVII × 22 "the expression of Star-love," and so on: all too complicated for this time and place!)

V. 32. "Then the joys of my love" (i.e. the fulfillment of all possible experiences) "will redeem ye from all pain."

V. 58. "I give unimaginable joys on earth: certainty, not faith, while in life, upon death; peace* unutterable, rest, ecstasy; . . ."

Cap. II, v. 9 "Remember all ye that existence is pure joy; that all the sorrows are but as shadows; they pass & are done; but there is that which remains."

(The continuation is amusing! vv. 10 and 11 read:

O prophet! thou hast ill will to learn this writing. I see thee hate the hand & the pen; but I am stronger.

At that time I was a hard-shell Buddhist, sent out a New Year's Card "wishing you a speedy termination of existence!" And this as a young man, with the world at my feet. It only goes to show . . . . .)

Vv. 19, 20. "Is a God to live in a dog? No! but the highest are of us. . . . Beauty and strength, leaping laughter and delicious languor, force and fire, are of us."

This chapter returns over and over again to this theme in one form or another.

What is really more significant is the hidden, the unexpressed, soul of the Book; the way in which it leaps into wild spate of rhapsody on any excuse or no excuse.

This is surely more convincing than some dreary thesis plodding along doggedly with the "proof" (!) that "God is good," every sentence creaking with your chalk-stones and squeaking with the twinges of your toe!

Yet just because I proclaim a doctrine of joy in the language of joy, people—dull camels—say I am not "serious."

Yet I have found pleasure in harnessing the winged horses of the Sun to the ploughshare of Reason, in showing the validity of this doctrine in detail. It satisfies my sense of rhythm and of symmetry to explain that every experience, no matter what, must of necessity be a gain of grandeur, of grip, of comprehension and enjoyment ever growing as complexity and simplicity succeed each other in sublime systole and diastole, in strophe and antistrophe chanting against each other to the stars of the Night and of the Morning!

>* "Peace": the glow of satisfaction at achievement. It is not "eternal," rather, it whets the appetite for another adventure. (Peace, Η ΕΙΡΗΝΗ = 189 = 7 × 9 × 3, the Venusian plus Lunar form of Unity.)4

Of course it is easy as pie to knock all this to pieces by "lunatic logic," saying: "Then toothache is really as pleasant as strawberry shortcake:" You are hereby referred to Eight Lectures on Yoga. None of the terms I am using have been, or can be defined. All my propositions amount to no more than tautology: A. is A. You may even quote The Book of the Law itself: "Now a curse upon Because and his kin! . . . . Enough of Because! Be he damned for a dog!" (AL II, 28-33). These things stink of Ignoratio Elenchi, or something painfully like it: as sort of slipping up a cog, of "confusing the planes" of willfully misunderstanding the gist of an argument. (All magicians, by the way, ought to be grounded solidly in Formal Logic.)

Never forget, at the least, how simple it is to make a maniac's hell-broth of any proposition, however plain to common sense.

All the above, now:—Buddhism refuted. Yet it is a possibility and therefore one facet of Truth. "Rest" is an idea: so immobility is one of the moving states. A certain state of mind is (almost by definition) "eternal," yet it most assuredly begins and ends.

And so on for ever—I fear it would be nugatory, pleonastic (and oh! several other lovely long adjectives!) to try to guard you from these hydra-headed and protean booby-traps; you must tackle them yourself as they arise, and deal with them as best you can: always remembering that often enough you cannot tell which is you and which is the Monkey Puzzle, or who has won. ("Everybody's won; so everybody must have a prize" applies beautifully). And none of it all matters a row of haricots verts sautés; for the conclusion must always be Doubt (see that beastly Book of Lies again—there's a gorgeous chapter about it6) and the practical moral is this: these contradictions don't occur (or don't matter) in Neschamah.

Also, it might help you quite a lot (by encouraging you when depressed, or amusing you when you want to relax) to read Sir Palamede the Saracen; Supplement to The Equinox, Vol. I, No. 4. I expect quite a few of his tragi-comic misadventures will be already familiar to you in one disguise or another.

And if the above remarks should embolden you to exclaim: "Perhaps a little drink would do me no great harm" I shall feel that I have deserved well of my country!

For—see Liber Aleph, after Rabelais—the Word of the Last Oracle is TRINC.5

. . . . . . . .

This plaint of yours tails off—and perks up in so doing—with confession of Ambition, and considerations of what you must leave over to your next life. Very right! but all that is covered by your general programme. It is proper to assimilate these ideas with the fundamental structure of your mind: "Perhaps I had better leave 'The Life and opinion of Battling Bill, the Ballarat Bruiser' till, shall we say, six incarnations ahead"—But perhaps you have acquired that already.

No, better still, concentrate on the Next Step! After all, it is the only one you can take, isn't it! Without lust of result, please!

And I shall leave anything else to the next letter.

Love is the law, love under will.

Yours fraternally,


P.S. "Next letter," yes, they are running into one another more than somewhat; it is better so, for life is like that. And we have the bold bad editor to sort them out.



1: The reference is to Liber LXXXIV vel Chanokh, otherwise known as "A brief abstract of the symbolic representation of the Universe as derived by Dr. John Dee from the skrying of Sir Edward Kelly."

2: The Circle described in Book 4 part II has an overall diameter of about 17 times the side of each square comprising the Tau (this assumes the distance between the inner and outer circle is about the same as the side of each square). The double cube altar is traditionally 44 inches high (about navel height on a six foot person) which will make the circle over 30 feet in diameter. This might be possible if you have the use of a small sports hall; it will not fit in most peoples' living rooms – T.S.

3: The robe of a Probationer, as can be deduced from photographs of the Rites of Eleusis and references in The Vision and the Voice and other writings of the Equinox period, was originally conceived of as white with no hood, a pentagram on the breast and the "Hexagram of Nature" (red triangle ascending, blue triangle descending, golden Tau in the centre) on the back – T.S.

4: The transcript gave the factorisation as 7 times 9 times 13; this is wrong, but the analysis ("unity" is qabalistically referred to 13) suggests it may have been a slip by Crowley rather than a transcription error) – T.S.

5: Chapter 51, "Terrier-Work." See also Chapter 45, "Chinese Music." Quoted in chapter 29 of MWT – T.S.

6: O.F., "drink." vide François Rabelais, The Fifth and Last Book of the Heroic Acts and Sayings of the Good Pantagruel (in Gargantua and Pantagruel), cap. 45; Crowley, Liber Aleph vel CXI, cap. Ζω (208).
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Re: Magick Without Tears, by Aleister Crowley

Postby admin » Fri May 11, 2018 5:08 am

Chapter XXIV: Necromancy and Spiritism

Cara Soror,

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

Really, you make me ashamed of You! To write to ignorant me to wise you up about necromancy, when you have at your elbow the one supreme classic—Lévi's Chapter XIII in the Dogme et Rituel!*

What sublimity of approach! What ingenuity of "considerations!" With what fatally sure steps marches his preparation! With what superb technique does he carry out his energized enthusiasm! And, finally, with what exact judicial righteousness does he sum the results of his great Evocation of Apollonius of Tyana!

Contrast with this elaborate care, rightness of every detail, earnestness and intentness upon the goal—contrast, I say, the modern Spiritist in the dingy squalor of her foul back street in her suburban slum, the room musty, smelling of stale food, the hideous prints, the cheap and rickety furniture, calling up any one required from Jesus Christ to Queen Victoria, all at a bob-a-nob!

Faugh! Let us return to clean air, and analyse Lévi's experiment; I believe that by the application of the principles set forth in my other letters on Death and Reincarnation, it will be simple to explain his partial failure to evoke Apollonius. You had better read them over again, to have the matter clear and fresh in your mind.

Now then, let me call you attention to the extreme care which Lévi took to construct a proper Magical Link between himself and the Ancient Master. Alas! It was rather a case of building with bricks made without straw; he had not at his command any fresh and vital object pertaining intimately to Apollonius. A "relic" would have been immensely helpful, especially if it had been consecrated and re-consecrated through the centuries by devout veneration. This, incidentally, is the great advantage that one may often obtain when invoking Gods; their images, constantly revered, nourished by continual sacrifice, serve as a receptacle for the Prana driven into them by thousands or millions of worshippers. In fact, such idols are often already consecrated talismans; and their possession and daily use is at least two-thirds of the battle.

Apollonius was indeed as refractory a subject as Lévi could possibly have chosen. All the cards were against him.

* Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magie, by Eliphas Lévi.

Why? Let me remind you of the sublimity of the man's genius, and the extent of his attainment. Apollonius must certainly have made the closest links between his Ruach and his Supernal Triad, and this would have gone seeking a new incarnation elsewhere. All the available Ruach left floating around in the Akasha must have been comparatively worthless odds and ends, true Qlippoth or "Shells of the Dead"—just those parts of him, in a word, which Apollonius would have deliberately discarded at his death.

So what use would they be to Lévi? Even if there were among them a few such elements as would serve his purpose, they would have been devitalized and frittered away by the mere lapse of the centuries, since they had lost connection with the reality of the Sage. Alternatively, they might have been caught up and adopted by some wandering Entity, quite probably some malignant demon.

Qlipoth—Shells of the Dead—Obsessing Spirits! Here we are back in the pestilent purlieus of Walham Green, and the frowsty atmosphere of the frowsy "medium" and the squalid séance. "Look! but do not speak to them!" as Virgil warned Dante.

So let us look.

No! Let us first congratulate ourselves that this subject of Necromancy is so admirably documented. As to the real Art, we have not only Eliphas Lévi, but the sublimely simple account in the Old Testament of the Witch of Endor, her conjuring up of the apparition of Samuel to King Saul. A third classic must not be neglected: I have heard or read the story elsewhere—for the moment I cannot place it. But it is so brilliantly told in I Write as I Please by Walter Duranty that nothing could be happier than to quote him verbatim.

It was the story of a Bolshevik who conversed with a corpse. He told it to me himself, and undoubtedly believed it, although he was an average tough Bolshevik who naturally disbelieved in Heaven and Hell and a Life beyond the Grave. This man was doing 'underground' revolutionary work in St. Petersburg when the War broke out; but he was caught by the police and exiled to the far north of Siberia. In the second winter of the War he escaped from his prison camp and reached an Eskimo village where they gave him shelter until the spring. They lived, he said, in beastly conditions, and the only one whom he could talk to was the Shaman, or medicine man, who knew a little Russian. The Shaman once boasted that he could foretell the future, which my Bolshevik friend ridiculed. The next day the Shaman took him to a cave in the side of a hill in which there was a big transparent block of ice enclosing the naked body of a man—a white man, not a native—apparently about thirty years of age with no sign of a wound anywhere. The man's head, which was clean-shaven, was outside the block of ice; the eyes were closed and the features were European. The shaman then lit a fire and burnt some leaves, threw powder on them muttering incantations, and there was a heavy aromatic smoke. He said in Russian to the bolshevik, 'Ask what you want to know.' The Bolshevik spoke in German; he was sure that the Shaman knew no German, but he was equally sure he saw the lips move and heard it answer, clearly, in German.

He asked what would happen to Russia, and what would happen to him. From the moving lips of the corpse came the reply that Russia would be defeated in war and that there would be a revolution; the Tzar would be captured by his enemies and killed on the eve of rescue; he, the Bolshevik, would fight in the Revolution but would suffer no harm; later, he would be wounded fighting a foreign enemy, but would recover and live long.

The Bolshevik did not really believe what he had seen although he was certain that he had seen it. I mean that he explained it by hypnotism or auto-suggestion or something of the kind; but it was true, he said, that he passed unscathed through the Revolution and the Civil War and was wounded in the Polish War when the Red Army recovered Kiev.

So also we are most fortunate in possessing the account almost beyond Heart's desire of Spiritism, in Robert Browning's Mr. Sludge the Medium. You see that I write "Spiritism" not "Spiritualism." To use the latter word in this connection is vulgar ignorance; it denotes a system of philosophy which flourished (more or less) is the Middle Ages—read your Erdmann if you want the gruesome details. But why should you?

The model for Mr. Sludge was David Dunbar Home,1 who was really quite a distinguished person in his way, and succeeded in pulling some remarkably instructed and blue-blooded legs. Personally, I believe him to have been genuine, getting real results through pacts with elementals, demons or what not; for when he was in Paris, arrangements were made for him to meet Eliphas Lévi; forthwith "he abandoned the unequal contest, and fled in terror from the accursed spot."

What annoyed Browning was that he had added to his collection of "Femora I have pulled", those appendages of Elizabeth Barrett; and where R.B. was there was no room for anyone else—as in the case of Allah!

R.B. was accordingly as spiteful as he could be, and that was not a little.

It is not fair to tar all mediums with the Sludge brush; there are many who could advance quite sincerely some of the apologia of Sludge. Why should a medium be immune to self-deception spurred by the Wish-Fiend? While there are people walking about outside the Bug-house who can find Mrs. Simpson and Generals de Gaulle, Franco, Allenby, Montgomery and who else in the "Centuries" of Nostradamus, we should be stupid to assign everything to conscious fraud.

In that case what about poor Tiny Aleister? Do please allow me the happy young Eagles of the Old Testament; what clearer prophecy of psychoanalysis, it's only the English for Freud and Jung and Adler!

No, by no means always fraud. Yet at any séance the "investigators" take no magical precautions soever—against, say, the impersonation of Iophiel by Hismael, or the Doves of Venus by the A'arab Zareq. All they attempt especially at "demonstrations" and "materializations," is to guard with great elaboration and (as a rule) complete futility against the deceptions of the common conjuror. They are not expecting any genuine manifestation of the "Spirit World;" and this fact makes clear their true subconscious attitude.

As for those mediums who possess magical ability, they almost always come from the most ignorant classes—Celts are an exception to this rule—and have no knowledge whatever of the technique of the business. Worse, they are usually of the type that delights in the secret dirty affinities, and so naturally and gladly attract entities of the Qliphothic world to their magical circle. Hence tricksters, of the lowest elemental orders, at the best, come and vitalize odds and ends of the Ruach of people recently deceased, and perform astonishing impersonations. The hollow shells glow with infernal fire. Also, of course, they soak up vitality from the sitters, and from the medium herself.

Altogether, a most poisonous performance. And what do they get out of it? Even when the "Spirits" are really spirits, they only stuff the party up with a lot of trashy lies.

To this summary the Laws of Probability insist that there shall be occasional exceptions.

Love is the law, love under will.

Yours fraternally,




1: sic, s.b. Daniel Dunglas – T.S.

2: Iophiel: the Intelligence of Jupiter; Hismael: the Spirit of Jupiter; A'arab Zereq: the Ravens of Dispersion, Qliphoth of Netzach – T.S.
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Re: Magick Without Tears, by Aleister Crowley

Postby admin » Fri May 11, 2018 5:10 am

Chapter XXV: Fascinations, Invisibility, Levitation, Transmutations, "Kinks in Time"

Cara Soror,

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

Dear me! dear me! The world's indeed gone topsy-turvy if you have to ask me for the secrets of Fascination! Altogether tohu-bohu and the Temurah Thash raq!1

So much for a display of Old-World Courtly Manners; actually rubbish, for you might very well be fascinating without knowing how you worked the trick. In fact, I think that is the case ninety-nine times in a hundred. Besides, I read your letter carelessly; I overlooked the phrase in which you mention that you use the word as Lévi did; i.e. to cover all those types of "miracle" which depend on distracting the attention of, or otherwise composing, the miraclee—I invent a rather useful word, yes?

So let us see what sort of miracles those are.

To start with, I doubt if we can. Many of such thaumaturgic phenomena contain elements of illusion in greater or less degree; if the miraclee's mind is 100% responsible, I think the business becomes a mere conjuring trick.

My dictionary defines the verb: "to charm, to enchant; to act on by some irresistible influence; to captivate; to excite and allure irresistibly or powerfully."

For the noun it gets even deeper into technical Magic: "the act or power of fascinating or spell binding, often to one's harm; a mysterious, irresistible, alluring influence." (Personally, I have always used, or heard, it much less seriously: "attractive" hardly more). Skeat, surprisingly, is almost dumb: p. part. of "to enchant" and "from L. fascinum, a spell."

Yes, surprisingly; for the word is one of the many that means the Phallus. The implication is that there is some sexual element in the exciting and alluring quality, which lifts it altogether above mere "pleasing."

To my mind the implication is that there is some quality inherent which is cognate to that too totally irrational quasimagnetic force which has been responsible not only for innumerable personal tragedies—and comedies —but for the fall of dynasties and even the wreck of Empires.

"Christ" is reported as having said: "If I be lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men unto me." Interpret this in the light of the Cross as a Phallic emblem, and—how lurid a flash!

Compare AL II, 26. "I am the secret Serpent coiled about to spring: in my coiling there is joy. If I lift up my head, I and my Nuit are one. If I droop down mine head, and shoot forth venom, then is rapture of the earth, and I and the earth are one."

This versicle is deep, devilish deep; and it is chock-a-block with the mysteries of Fascination. Dig into this, dear sister! dig with your Qabalistic trowel; don't blame me if you don't get a Mandrake with the very first thrust!

But most certainly I shall say nothing here. Yes, indeed, nothing was ever more sternly forbidden than prattle on subjects like this! Look! It goes right on: "There is great danger in me; for who doth not understand these runes shall make a great miss. He shall fall down into the pit called Because, and there he shall perish with the dogs of Reason." (v. 27) The pit is of course the Abyss: see The Vision and the Voice, Xth Aethyr. A very sticky—or rather, unstuck! finish; so 'ware Hawk!

To business! Fascination No! Invisibility, is obviously penny plain S.A.

This is notably an affair of the subconscious; it often masters open dislike and distaste; it never yields to reason. It destroys all sense of values. Its origin is usually obscure. The least irrational base of it is the sense of smell. It was, if I remember rightly, the Comte de St. Germain who advised Loise de la Valliêre to fix her exquisitely broidered kerchief in such wise that it protected her from contact with her saddle, and then, after a morning's hard gallop, to find an excuse for using it to wipe the brows of the perspiring king. It took him years to recover! The story is well known, and the plan widely adopted with remarkably unvarying success. But be careful not to overdo it; for if the source of the perfume is recognized the consciousness takes charge, and the result is antipathy.

Many years ago I composed a scent based on similar principles, which I intended to market under the title "Potted Sex Appeal." We tried it out with the assistance of a certain noble Marquess, whose consequent misadventures—won't he laugh when he reads this!

But there are other senses: "l'amour de l'oreille" may refer not only to Othello's way of snaring Desdemona, but subtleties of timbre in the voice...

Yes, yes, you say impatiently, but there isn't any miracle about all this in the ordinary sense of the word.

True, but why the devil do you want me, so long as you're getting what you need? Just being childlike, I suppose! No? Merely that you can explain such matters to yourself well enough. All right; on to No. 2. Shall we look at levitation for a change?

This power—if it be one—is very curious indeed. It connects more directly with magnetism than almost any other. The first thing we think of when someone says "magnet" is picking up iron filings as a child.

Age before honesty! Let Father Poulain S.J. speak first! He is obliged to admit the phenomenon, because the Church has done so. But precisely similar accounts of the levitation of pagans and heretics must be according to him, lies, or Works of the Devil. As for the method, "God employs the angels to raise the saint, so as to avoid the necessity of intervening Himself." Lazy old parishioner!

Now for a douche of common sense. Hatha-Yoga is quite clear and simple, even logical, about it. The method is plain Pranayama. Didn't I tell you onetime of the Four Stages of Success? 1. Perspiration—of a very special kind.— 2. Sukshma-Khumbakam: automatic rigidity. One stiffens like a dog in a bell-jar when you pump in Carbon Dioxide (is it?) 3. The Bhuchari-Siddhi, "jumping about like a frog." One is wafted, without one's Asana being disturbed, about the floor, rather as fragments of paper, or dry leaves, might be in a slight draught under the door. 4. If one is quite perfectly balanced one cannot be moved sideways; so one rises. And there you are!

Personally, I reached the Bhuchari-Siddhi quite a number of times; but I never observed No. 4. On several occasions other people have seen me levitated, though never to a height of more than a foot or so. Here is the best account of such an incident, of those at my immediate disposal.

Nearly midnight. At this moment we stopped dictating, and began to converse. Then Fra. P. said: "Oh, if I could only dictate a book like the Tao Teh King!" Then he closed his eyes as if meditating. Just before I had noticed a change in his face, most extraordinary, as if he were no longer the same person; in fact, in the ten minutes we were talking he seemed to be any number of different people. I especially noticed the pupils of his eyes were so enlarged that the entire eye seemed black. (I tremble so and have such a quaking feeling inside, simply in thinking of last night, that I can't form letters). Then quite slowly the entire room filled with a thick yellow light (deep golden, but not brilliant. I mean not dazzling, but soft.) Fra. P. Looked like a person I had never seen but seemed to know quite well—his face, clothes and all were of the same yellow. I was so disturbed that I looked up to the ceiling to see what caused the light, but could only see the candles. Then the chair on which he sat seemed to rise; it was like a throne, and he seemed to rise; it was like a throne, and he seemed to be either dead or sleeping; but it was certainly no longer Fra. P. This frightened me, and I tried to understand by looking round the room; when I looked back the chair was raised, and he was still the same. I realized I was alone; and thinking he was dead or gone—or some other terrible thing—I lost consciousness.

This discourse has been thus left unfinished: but it is only necessary to add that the capacity to extract such spiritual honey from these unpromising flowers is the mark of an adept who has perfected his Magick Cup. This method of Qabalistic exegesis is one of he best ways of exalting the reason to the higher consciousness. Evidently it started Fra. P. so that in a moment he become completely concentrated and entranced.2

Note that this has nothing at all to do with any Pranayama. It seems a matter of ecstatic concentration, which chose this mode of expression instead of bringing on Samadhi—though that, too, occurred in some of the cases.

By the way, there is a fairly full account of the whole business; I have just remembered—it is in my Autohagiography.

Pranayama produced, firstly, a peculiar kind of perspiration; secondly, an automatic rigidity of the muscles; and thirdly, the very curious phenomenon of causing the body, while still absolutely rigid, to take little hops in various directions. It seems as if one were somehow raised, possibly an inch from the ground, and deposited very gently a short distance away.

I saw a very striking case of this at Kandy. When Allan was meditating, it was my duty to bring his food very quietly (from time to time) into the room adjoining that where he was working. One day he missed two successive meals, and I thought I ought to look into his room to see if all was well. I must explain that I have known only two European women and three European men who could sit in the attitude called Padmasana, which is that usually seen in seated images of the Buddha. Of these men, Allan was one. He could knot his legs so well that, putting his hands on the ground, he could swing his body to and fro in the air between them. When I looked into his room I found him not seated on his meditation mat, which was in the centre of the room at the end farthest from the window, but in a distant corner ten or twelve feet off, still in his knotted position, resting on his head and right shoulder, exactly like an image overturned. I set him right way up, and he came out of his trance. He was quite unconscious that anything unusual had happened. But he had evidently been thrown there by the mysterious forces generated by Pranayama.

There is no doubt whatever about this phenomenon; it is quite common. But the Yogis claim that the lateral motion is due to lack of balance, and that if one were in perfect spiritual equilibrium one would rise directly in the air. I have never seen any case of levitation, and hesitate to say that it has happened to me, thought I have actually been seen by others, on several occasions, apparently poised in the air. For the first three phenomena I have found no difficulty in devising quite simple physiological explanations. But I can form no theory as to how the practice could counteract the force of gravitation, and I am unregenerate enough to allow this to make me sceptical about the occurrence of levitation. Yet, after all, the stars are suspended in space. There is no à priori reason why the forces which prevent them rushing together should not come into operation in respect of the earth and the body.

The Allan part of this is the best evidence at my disposal. He couldn't have got where he did by hopping, and he couldn't have got into that position intentionally; he must have been levitated, lost balance, and dropped upside down. In any case, there is no trace of fascination about it, as there may have been in Soror Virakam's observation.

About invisibility, now? Of this I have so much experience that the merest outline could take us far beyond the limits of a letter. In Mexico D.F., I worked at acquiring the power by means of ritual. I worked desperately hard. I got to the point where my image in a pier-glass flickered, rather like the very earliest films did. Possibly more work, after more skill had come to me, might have done the whole trick. But I did not persist when I found out how to do it by fascination. (Here we are at last!)

Roughly, this is how to do it. If one is concentrated to the point when what you are thinking of is the only reality in the Universe, when you lose all awareness of who and where you are and what you are doing, it seems as though that unconsciousness were in some way contagious. The people around you just can't see anybody.

At one time, in Sicily, this happened nearly every day. Our party, strolling down to our bathing bay—the loveliest spot of its kind that I have ever seen—over a hillside where there wasn't cover for a rabbit, would lose sight of me, look, and fail to find me, though I was walking in their midst. At first, astonishment, bewilderment; at last, so normal had it become: "He's invisible again."

One incident I remember very vividly indeed; an old friend and I were sitting opposite each other in armchairs in front of a large fire, smoking our pipes. Suddenly he lost sight of me, and actually cried out in alarm. I said: "What's wrong?" That broke the spell; there I was, all present and correct.

Did I hear you mutter "Transmutations? Werwolves? Golden Hawks?" Likely enough; it's time we touched on that.

In certain types of animal there appears, if tradition have any weight, to be a curious quality of—sympathy? I doubt if that be the word, but can think of none better—which enables them to assume at times the human form. No. 1—and the rest are also rans—is the seal. There is a whole body of literature about this. Then come wolves, hyaenas, large dogs of the hunting type; occasionally leopards. Tales of cats and serpents are usually the other way round; it is the human (nearly always female) that assumes these shapes by witchcraft. But in ancient Egypt they literally doted on this sort of thing. The papyri are full of formulas for operating such transmutations. But I think that this was mostly to afford some relaxation for the spirit of the dead man; he nipped out of his sarcophagus, and painted the town all the colours of the rainbow in one animal shape or another.

The only experience I have of anything of this sort was when I was in Pacific waters, mostly at Honolulu or in Nippon. I was practising Astral projection. A sister of the Order who lived in Hong Kong helped me. I was to visit her, and the token of perfect success was to be that I should knock a vase off the mantel-piece. We appointed certain days and hours—with some awkwardness, as my time-distance from her was constantly growing shorter—for me to pay my visit. We got some remarkable results; our records of the interview used to tally with surprising accuracy; but the vase remained intact!

This is not one of my notorious digressions; and this is how transmutation comes into it. I found that by first taking the shape of a golden hawk, and resuming my own form after landing in her "temple"—a room she had fitted ad hoc—the whole operation became incomparably easier. I shall not indulge in hypotheses of why this should have been the case.

A little over four years later—in the meantime we had met and worked at Magick together—we resumed these experiments in a somewhat different form. The success was much greater; but though I could move her, and even any objects which she was touching, I could make no impression on inanimate objects at a distance from her. The behaviour of her dogs, and of her cat, was very curious and interesting. Strangest of all, there appeared those "kinks in Time" which profane science is just beginning to discuss. Example: on one occasion our records of an "interview" agreed with quite extraordinary precision; but, on comparing notes, it was found that owing to some stupid miscalculation of mine, it was all over in Hong Kong some hours before I had started from Honolulu! Again, don't ask me why, or how, or anything!

Talking of kinks in Time, I shall now maintain my aforesaid evil notoriety—the story is totally asynartete from fascinations of whatever variety—by recounting what is by far the most inexplicable set of facts that ever came my way.

In the summer of 1910 e.v. I was living at 125 Victoria Street, in a studio converted into a Temple by means of a Circle, an Altar and the rest. West of the Altar was a big fireplace with a fender settee; the East wall was covered with bookshelves. Enter the late Theodor Reuss, O.H.O. and Frater Superior of the O.T.O. He wanted me to join that Order. I recommended him, in politer language to repeat the Novocastrian Experiment. Undeterred, he insisted: "But you must."

(Now we go back, or forward, I know not which, to a night when I found myself stranded in London. I asked hospitality of a stranger; it was readily afforded. Some hours later my hostess fell asleep; I could not do so; something was nagging me. I suddenly took my notebook, and wrote a certain passage in a certain book, since published.)3

"Must, my foot!" He persisted: "You have published the secret of the 9th degree of O.T.O., and you must take the corresponding oaths." "I have done nothing of the sort. I don't know the secret. I don't want to know it. I don't . . ." He interrupted me; he strode across the room; he plucked a book from the shelves; he opened it; he thrust it under my nose; he pointed out a passage with a minatory index. I began to stammer. "Yes, I wrote that. I don't know what it means; I don't like it; I only put it in because it was written in rather curious circumstances, and I was too lazy—or perhaps a little afraid—to reject it and write what I wanted." He fastened on one point: "You don't know what it means?" I repeated that I did not, even now that he had claimed it as important. He explained it to me, as to a child. I was merely surprised; it didn't sound possible. (Sister, all this while I've been lying to you like an Archbishop; it is connected with fascinations; indeed, it has very little to do with anything else!)

Finally, he won me over, I went down to his G.H.Q., took the Oaths, was installed in the Throne of the X° of O.T.O. as National Sovereign Grand Master General, and began to establish the Order as a going concern.

Well, you say, that is a very simple story, nothing specially hard to believe in it.

True, but consider the dates.

That scene in Victoria Street, is as clear and vivid in my mind, in every detail, as if it were yesterday. That secret is published only in that passage of that book. And—the book was not published until three years later, and from an address of which in 1910 I had not so much as thought of. The date of my adhesion to the O.T.O. (which, by the way, upset every principle and plan that I had ever held) is equally certain by virtue of subsequent published writings.4

Now go away and explain that!

Well I've given you a fair account of some of the principal fascinations; as to the rest, bewitchments, sorceries, inhibitions and all that lot, it is enough if I say that they follow the regular Laws of Magick; in some, fascination proper plays a prominent part; in others, it is barely more than walking on to say "My lord, the carriage waits!" But—even that can be done well or ill, and a small mistake may work a mighty mischief.

Love is the law, love under will.

Yours fraternally,




1: A "Qabalistic" method of exegesis mentioned by Mathers in the introduction to Kabbalah Unveiled; it involves writing words backwards – T.S.

2: Book 4, part II: "An Interlude" (following the chapter on the Cup) – T.S.

3: The reference is generally believed to be to Chapter 36 of The Book of Lies, a.k.a. Liber XXXVI, the Star Sapphire – T.S.

4: The dates are not as hard to reconcile as Crowley maintains. While the first edition of The Book of Lies claims to have been published in 1913 (the second edition contains the strange remark "There is no joke or hidden meaning in the publisher's imprint") it is advertised as "now ready" in the September 1912 Equinox. Since, according to the account in Confessions, Crowley was already a member of O.T.O. at the time of this alleged incident, Reuss having admitted him to the VII° after the Mathers versus the Equinox trial to spite Mathers and his claims to be head of the Rosicrucian Order, Crowley could be conflating two distinct visits by Reuss. Crowley's O.T.O. charter is dated April 1912 and he only began promoting his O.T.O. branch in the September 1912 Equinox – T.S.
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Re: Magick Without Tears, by Aleister Crowley

Postby admin » Fri May 11, 2018 5:11 am

Chapter XXVI: Mental Processes—Two Only are Possible

Cara Soror,

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

"Occult" science is the most difficult of them all. For one thing, its subject-matter includes the whole of philosophy, from ontology and metaphysics down to natural history. More, the most rarefied and recondite of these has a direct bearing upon the conduct of life in its most material details, and the simplest study of such apparently earthbound matters as botany and mineralogy leads to the most abstruse calculations of the imponderables.

With what weapons, then, are we to attack so formidable a fortress?

The first essential is clear thinking.

In a previous letter I have dealt to some extent with this subject; but it is so important that you must forgive me if I return to it, and that at length, from the outset, and in detail.

Let us begin but having our own minds clear of all ambiguities, ignoring for the purpose of this argument all metaphysical subtleties.* I want to confine it to the outlook of the "plain man."

What do we do when we "think?"

There are two operations, and only two, possible to thought. However complex a statement may appear, it can always be reduced to a series of one or other of these. If not, it is a sham statement; nonsense masquerading as sense in the cloak of verbiage and verbosity.

Analysis, and Synthesis; or,

Subtraction, and Addition.

1. You can examine A, and find that it is composed of B and C. A = B + C.

2. You can find out what happens to B when you add C to it. B + C = A.

As you notice, the two are identical, after all; but the process is different.

Example: Raise Copper Oxide to a very high temperature; you obtain metallic copper and oxygen gas. Heat copper in a stream of oxygen; you obtain copper oxide.

You can complicate such experiments indefinitely, as when one analyzes coal-tar, or synthesizes complex products like quinine from its elements; but one can always describe what happens as a series of simple operations, either of the analytical or the synthetic type.

(I wonder if you remember a delightful passage in Anatole France where he interprets an "exalted" mystical statement, first by giving the words their meaning as concrete images, when he gets a magnificent hymn, like a passage from the Rig-Veda; secondly, by digging down to the original meaning, with an effect comical and even a little ribald. I fear I have no idea where to find it; in one of the "odds and ends" compilations most likely. So please, look somebody; you won't have wasted your time!)

* I mean criticisms such as "Definition is impossible;" "All arguments are circular;" "All propositions are tautological." These are true, but one is obliged to ignore them in all practical discussions.

This has been put in a sort of text, because the first stumbling-block to study is the one never has any certainty as to what the author means, or thinks he means, or is trying to persuade one that he means.

Try something simple: "The soul is part of God." Now then, when he writes "soul" does he mean Atma, or Buddhi, or the Higher Manas, or Purusha, or Yechidah, or Neschamah, or Nepheshch, or Nous, or Psyche, or Phren, or Ba, or Khu, or Ka, or Animus, or Anima, or Seele, or what?

As everybody, will he nill he, creates "God" in his own image, it is perfectly useless to inquire what he may happen to mean by that.

But even this very plain word "part." Does he mean to imply a quantitative assertion, as when one says sixpence is part of a pound, or a factor indispensable, as when one says "A wheel is part of a motor-car", or . . . (Part actually means "a share, that which is provided," according to Skeat; and I am closer to the place where Moses was when the candle went out than I was before!)

The fact is that very few of us know what words mean; fewer still take the trouble to enquire. We calmly, we carelessly assume that our minds are identical with that of the writer, at least on that point; and then we wonder that there should be misunderstandings!

The fact is (again!) that usually we don't really want to know; it is so very much easier to drift down the river of discourse, "lazily, lazily, drowsily, drowsily, In the noonday sun."

Why is this so satisfactory? Because although we may not know what a word means, most words have a pleasant or unpleasant connotation, each for himself, either because of the ideas or images thus begotten, of hopes or memories stirred up, or merely for the sound of the word itself. (I have gone a month's journey out of my way to visit a town, just because I liked the sound of the name!)

Then there are devices: style—rhythm, cadence, rime, ornamentation of a thousand kinds. I think one may take it that the good writer makes use of such artifice to make his meaning clear; the bad writer to obscure it, or to conceal the fact that he has none.

One of the best items of the education system at the Abbey in Cefal was the weekly Essay. Everyone, including children of five or six, had to write on "The Housing Problem," "Why Athens Decayed," "The Marriage System," "Buddhist Ethics" and the like; the subject didn't matter much; the point was that one had to discover, arrange and condense one's ideas about it, so as to present it in a given number of words, 93 or 156, or 418 as like as not, that number, neither more nor less. A superb discipline for any writer.

I had a marvellous lesson myself some years earlier. I had cut down a certain ritual of initiation to what I thought were the very barest bones, chiefly to make it easy to commit to memory.1 Then came a candidate who was deaf—not merely "a little hard of hearing;" his tympana were ruptured—and the question was How?

All right for most of it; one could show him the words typed on slips. But during part of the ceremony he was hoodwinked; one was reduced to the deaf-and-dumb alphabet devised for such occasions. I am as clumsy and stupid at that as I am at most things, and lazy, infernally lazy, on top of that. Well, when it came to the point, the communication of the words became abominably, intolerably tedious. And then! Then I found that about two-thirds of my "absolutely essential" ritual was not necesasary at all!

That larned 'im.2

Love is the law, love under will.





1: In accordance with my oaths I will not here comment on whether or not ritual officers in my experience have taken advantage of this – T.S.

2: Crowley has told this story already, in the letter on Noise – T.S.
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Re: Magick Without Tears, by Aleister Crowley

Postby admin » Fri May 11, 2018 5:13 am

Chapter XXVII: Structure of Mind Based on that of Body (Haeckel and Bertrand Russell)

Cara Soror,

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

Was the sudden cloudburst at the end of my last letter somewhat of a surprise, and more that somewhat of a shock? Cheer up! The worst is yet to come.

This is where clean thinking—a subject whose fringes I seem to remember having touched—wins the Gold Medal of the Royal Humane Society.

It is surely the wise course to accept the plain facts; to try to explain them away, or to excuse them, is certain to involve one in a maelstrom of sophistry; and when, despite these laudable efforts, the facts jump up and land a short jab to the point, one is even worse off than before.

This has to be said, because Sammasati is assuredly one of the most useful, as well as one of the most trustworthy and most manageable, weapons in the armoury of the Aspirant.

You stop me, obviously with a demand for a personal explanation. "How is it," you write, "that you reject with such immitigable scorn the very foundation-stones of Buddhism, and yet refer disciples enthusiastically to the technique of some of its subtlest super-structures?"

I laff.

It is the old, old story. When the Buddha was making experiments and recording the results, he was on safe ground: when he started to theorize, committing (incidentally) innumerable logical crimes in the process, he is no better a guesser than the Arahat next door, or for the matter of that, the Arahat's Lady Char.

So, if you don't mind, we will look a little into this matter of Sammasati: what is it when it's at home?

It may be no more than a personal fancy, but I think Allan Bennett's translation of the term, "Recollection," is as near as one can get in English. One can strain the meaning slightly to include Re-collection, to imply the ranging of one's facts, and the fitting of them into an organized structure. The term "sati" suggests an identification of Being with Knowledge—see The Soldier and the Hunchback: ! and ? (Equinox I, 1). So far as it applies to the Magical Memory, it lays stress on some such expedient, very much as is explained in Liber Thisarb (Magick, pp. 415 - 422).

But is it not a little strange that "The Abomination of Desolation should be set up in the Holy Place," as it were? Why should the whole-bearted search for Truth and Beauty disclose such hateful and such hideous elements as necessary components of the Absolute Perfection?

Never mind the why, for a moment; first let us be sure that it is so. Have we any grounds for expecting this to be the case?

We certainly have.

This is a case where "clean thinking" is most absolutely helpful. The truth is of exquisite texture; it blazons the escutcheon of the Unity of Nature in such delicate yet forceful colours that the Postulant may well come thereby to the Opening of the Trance of Wonder; yet religious theories and personal pernicketiness have erected against its impact the very stoutest of their hedgehogs of prejudice.

Who shall help us here? Not the sonorous Vedas, not the Upanishads, Not Apollonius, Plotinus, Ruysbroeck, Molinos; not any gleaner in the field of à priori; no, a mere devotee of natural history and biology: Ernst Haeckel.

Enormous, elephantine, his work's bulk is almost incredible; for us his one revolutionary discovery is pertinent to this matter of Sammasati and the revelations of one's inmost subtle structure.

He discovered, and he demonstrated, that the history of any animal throughout the course of its evolution is repeated in the stages of the individual. To put it crudely, the growth of a child from the fertilized ovum to the adult repeats the adventures of its species.

This doctrine is tremendously important, and I feel that I do not know how to emphasize it as it deserves. I want to be exceptionally accurate; yet the use of his meticulous scientific terms, with an armoury of quotations, would almost certainly result in your missing the point, "unable to see the wood for the trees."

Let me put it that the body is formed by the super-position of layers, each representing a stage in the history of the evolution of the species. The foetus displays essential characteristics of insect, reptile, mammal (or whatever they are) in the order in which these classes of animal appeared in the world's history.

Now I want to put forward a thesis—and as far as I know it is personal to myself, based on my work at Cefal—to the effect that the mind is constructed on precisely the same lines.

You will remember from my note on "Breaks" in meditation how one's gradual improvement in the practice results in the barring-out of certain classes of idea, by classes. The ready-to-hand, recent fugitive thoughts come first and first they go. Then the events of the previous day or so, and the preoccupations of the mind for that period. Next, one comes to the layer of reveries and other forms of wish-phanstasm; then cryptomnesia gets busy with incidents of childhood and the like; finally, there intrudes the class of "atmospherics," where one cannot trace the source of the interruption.

All these are matters of the conscious rational mind; and when I explored and classified these facts, in the very first months of my serious practice of Yoga, I had no suspicion that they were no more than the foam on a glass of champagne: nay, rather of

"black wine in jars of jade
Cooled all these months in hoarded snow,
Black wine with purple starlight in its bosom,
Oily and sweet as the soul of a brown maid
Brought from the forenoon's archipelago,
Her brows bound bright with many a scarlet blossom
Like the blood of the slain that flowered free
When we met the black men knee to knee."

How apt the verses are! How close are wine and snow to lust and slaughter!

I have been digressing, for all that; let us return to our goats!

The structure of the mind reveals its history as does the structure of the body.

(Capitals, please, or bang on something; that has got to sink in.)

Just as your body was at one stage the body of an ape, a fish, a frog (and all the rest of it) so did that animal at that stage possess a mind correlative.

Now then! In the course of that kind of initiation conferred by Sammasati, the layers are stripped off very much as happens in elementary meditation (Dharana) to the conscious mind.

(There is a way of acquiring a great deal of strange and unsuspected knowledge of these matters by the use of Sulphuric Ether, (C2H5)2O, according to a special technique. I wrote a paper on it once, 16 pp. 4{to}, and fearing that it might be lost had many copies made and distributed. Where is it? I must write you a letter one day.1)

Accordingly, one finds oneself experiencing the thoughts, the feelings, the desires of a gorilla, a crocodile, a rat, a devil-fish, or what have you! One is no longer capable of human thoughts in the ordinary sense of the word; such would be wholly unintelligible.

I leave the rest to your imagination; doesn't it sound to you a little like some of the accounts of "The Dweller on the Threshold?"

Love is the law, love under will.





1: This paper is still extant; I am unaware of details of publication. Internal evidence gives it an earliest possible date of 1920 – T.S.
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