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 5:14 am

Chapter XXVIII: Need to Define "God", "Self", etc.

Cara Soror,

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

Artless remark!* Oh you!

Well, I suppose it's a gift—to stir Hell to its most abysmal horror with one small remark slipped in at the end. Scorpion!

"Higher self"—"God within us."

Dear Lady, you could never have picked five words from Iroquois, or Banti, or Basuto or the Jargon of Master François Villon, or Pictish, which severally and together convey less to my mind.

No, no, not Less: I mean More, so much more that it amounts to nothing at all. Spencer Montmorency Bourbon Hohenstaufen sounds very exclusive and aristocratic, and even posh or Ritzy; but if you bestow these names upon every male child, the effect tends to diminish. The "Southern Gentleman" Lee Davis recently hanged for rape and murder, was not a near relation either of the General or the President: he was a Nigger.1

* Refers to a pious phrase at the end of her letter.

Gimme the old spade, I've got to go digging again.

1. Higher. Here we fall straight into the arms of Freud. Why "higher?" Because in a scrap it is easier to strangle him if you are on top. When very young children watch their parents in actu coitus, a circumstance exceedingly usual almost anywhere outside England, and even here where houseroom is restricted, the infant supposes that his mother, upon whom he depends entirely for nourishment, is being attacked by the intrusive stranger whom they want him to address as "Dad." From this seed springs an "over-under complex," giving rise later on, in certain cases to whole legions of neuroses.

Now then make it a little clearer, please, just what you mean by "higher."

Skeat seems to connect it with hills, swellings, boils, the maternal breast; is that reason enough for us to connect it with the idea of advantage, or—"superiority" merely translates it into Latin!—worth, or—no, it's really too difficult. Of course, sometimes it has a "bad" meaning, as of temperature in fever; but nearly always it implies a condition preferable to "low."

Applied to the "self," it becomes a sort of trade name; nobody tells me if he means Khu, or Ba, or Khabs, or Ut of the Upanishads or Augoeides of the Neo-Platonists, or Adonai of Bulwer-Lytton, or — — here we are with all those thrice-accurs't alternatives. There is not, cannot be, any specific meaning unless we start with a sound skeleton of ontogenic theory, a well-mapped hierarchy of the Cosmos, and define the term anew.

Then why use it? To do so can only cause confusion, unless the context helps us to clarify the image. And that is surely rather a defeatist attitude, isn't it?

When I first set myself to put a name to my "mission"—the contemplation carried me half-way across South-West China—I considered these alternatives. I thought to cut the Gordian Knot, and call it by Abramelin's title the "Holy Guardian Angel" because (I mused) that will be as intelligible to the villagers of Pu Peng as to the most learned Pundits; moreover, the implied theory was so crude that no one need be bound by it.

All this is rubbish, as you will see when we reach the discussion on "self:" To explain now would lead to too unwieldy a digression.

2. "Within." If you don't mind, we'll tackle this now, while "higher" is fresh in our minds; for it is also a preposition. First you want to go up; then you want to go in. Why?

As "higher" gave the idea of aggression, of conquest, "within" usually implies safety. Always we get back to that stage of history when the social unit, based on the family, was little less than condition No. 1 of survival. The house, the castle, the fortified camp, the city wall; the "gens," the clan, the tribe, the "patrie," to be outside means danger from cold, hunger and thirst, raiding parties, highway robbers, bears, wolves, and tigers. To go out was to take a risk; and, your labour and courage being assets to your kinsmen, you were also a bad man; in fact, a "bounder" or "outsider." "Debauch" is simply "to go out of doors!" St. John says: "without are dogs and sorcerers and whoremongers and adulterers and idolaters and..."—so on.2

We of Thelema challenge all this briskly. "The word of Sin is Restriction." (AL I, 41). Our formula, roughly speaking, is to go out and grab what we want. We do this so thoroughly that we grow thereby, extending our conception of "I" by including each new accretion instead of remaining a closely delineated self, proud of possessing other things, as do the Black Brothers.

We are whole-hearted extroverts; the penalty of restricting oneself is anything from neurosis to down right lunacy; in particular, melancholia.

You ask whether these remarks do not conflict with my repeated definition of Initiation as the Way In. Not at all; the Inmost is identical with the All. As you travel inward, you become able to perceive all the layers which surround the "Self" from within, thus enlarging the scope of your vision of the Universe. It is like moving from a skirmishing patrol to G.H.Q.; and the object of so doing is obviously to exercise constantly increasing control over the whole Army. Every step in rank enables you both to see more and to do more; but one's attention is inevitably directed outward.

When the entire system of the Universe is conterminous with your comprehension, "inward" and "outward" become identical.

But it won't do at all to seek anything within but a point of view, for the simple reason that there is nothing else there!

It is just like all those symbols in The Book of Thoth; as soon as you get to the "end" of anything, you suddenly find it is the "beginning."

To formulate the idea of "self" at all, you must posit limitations; anything that is distinguishable is a mere temporary (and arbitrary) selection of the finite from the infinite; whatever you chose to think of, it changes, it grows, it disappears.

You have got to train your mind to canter through those leafy avenues of thought upon the good green turf of Indifference; when you can do it without conscious effort, so that up-down, in-out, far-near, black-white (and so on for everything) appears quite automatically, you are already as near an Initiate as makes no matter.

3. "Self." For a full discussion of this see Letter XLII.

4. "God." This is really too bad of you!

Of all the hopelessly mangled words in the language, you settle with unerring Sadism on the most brutally butchered.

Crippen* was an amateur.

Skeat hardly helps us at all, except by warning us that "good" has nothing whatever to do with it.3 Dieu comes from Deus, with all its Sol-Jupiter references, and Deos, which Plato thought meant a runner; hence, Sun, Moon, Planets.

The best I can do for you, honest Injun! is the Russian word for god Bog; connected probably, though the Lithuanian, with the Welsh Bwq a spectre or hobgoblin. Bugge, too. Not very inspiring, is it, to replace the Old Hundredth by "Hush! Hush! Hush! here come the Bogey Man." Or is it?

Enough of this fooling! Out, trusty rapier, and home to the stone heart of the audacious woman that wrote "God within us."

I know you thought you knew more or less what you meant when you wrote it; but surely that was a mere slip. An instant's thought would have warned you that the word wouldn't stand even the most superficial analysis. You meant "Something which seems to me the most perfect symbol of all that I love, worship, admire"—all that class of verb.

But nobody else will have the same set of qualities in his private museum; you have, as every one has always done, made another God in your own image.

Then the Vedantists define God as "having neither quality nor quantity;" and some Yogis have a practice of setting up images to knock them down at once with "Not that! Not that!"

And the Buddhists won't admit any God at all in anything at all like the sense in which you use the word.†

What's worse, whatever you may mean by "God" conveys no idea to me: I can only guess by the light of my exceedingly small knowledge of you and your general habits of thought and action. Then what sense was there in chucking it at my head? Half a brick would have served you better.

You think you can explain to me viva voce, perhaps? Don't you dare try! Whatever you said, I should prove to be nonsense, philosophically and in a dozen other ways. And the County Council Ambulance would bundle you off in your battered and bewildered débris to the Bug-house, as is so etymologically indicated.

Do see it simply; the word must in any event connote ideas of Neschamah, not of Ruach.

"But you use the word all the time." Yes, I do, and rely on the context to crystallize this most fluid—or gaseous—of expressions.

* Crippen was a famous English poisoner who was caught and hung.

† One of the most amusing passages of irony is to be found in The Questions of King Milinda where the Arhat Nagasena demolishes Maha Brahma.

5. "Us." Why "Us"?

Is this a reference to the Old School Tie, or that Finishing School in Brussels, and the ticket to the Royal enclosure at Ascot? I do not suppose for a moment that you meant it that way: but it's there. And so—

Anecdote of Lao-Tze.

The Old One was surrounded as usual by a galaxy of adoring disciples, and they were trying to get him to show them where the Tao was to be found.

It was in the Sun and Moon, he admitted; it was in the Son of Heaven and in the Superior Man. (Not George Nathaniel Curzon, however). It was in the Blossoms of Springtide, and in the chilling winds that swept over from Siberia, and in the Wild Geese that it bore Southward when their instinct bade them. In short, the catalogue began to look is if it were going to extend indefinitely; and an impatient disciple, pointing to certain traces left by a mule in its recent passage, asked: "And is the Tao also in that?" The Master nodded, and echoed: "Also in that."

Then what becomes of this privileged "us"? We are obliged to extend it to include everything. Then, as we have just seen, "God" also is unfettered by definitions.

Net result: "God within us" means precisely nothing at all.

And so it does, By Bradman!

"Bind nothing! Let there be no difference made among you between any one thing & any other thing; for thereby there cometh hurt. But whoso availeth in this, let him be the chief of all!" (AL I, 22 - 23)

I implore you not to point out that, this being the case, words like "hurt" and "chief" cannot possibly mean anything. The fact is that if we are to get on peaceably in the Club, we have to know when to take any given expression in a Pickwickian sense.

In the Ruach all the laws of logic apply: they don't in Neschamah.

The real meaning of the passage is simple enough, if you understand that it refers to a specific result of Initiation. You have to be able to reckon up the Universe, as a whole and in every part; and to get rid of all its false or partial realities by discarding everything but the One Reality which is the sole truth in, and of Illusion.

There is one set of equations which express the relation of the Perceiver and the Perceived, adjusted in accordance with the particular limitations on both sides; another cancels out all the finite terms, and leaves us with an ultimate x = o = 00.


I know I'm a disheartening kind of bloke, and it does seem so unfriendly to jump down a fellow's throat every minute or so when she tries to put it ever so nicely, and it is so easy—isn't it?—to play the game of Sanctimonious Grandiloquence, and surely what was said was perfectly harmless, and . . . .

No, N.O., no: not harmless at all. My whole object is it train you to silence every kind of hypothetical speculation, and formulae both resonant and satisfying. I want you to—

abhor them
abominate them
despise them
detest them
escew them
hate them
loathe them
and da capo.

and to get on with your practice. Then when you get the results, you can try, albeit uselessly, to fit your own words to the facts, if you should wish to communicate, for any good reason, your experiences to other people.

Then, despairing of your impotence, how glad you will be that you have been trained not to let anyone fob you off with phrases.

Love is the law, love under will.

Fraternally yours,




1: Crowley sometimes carries his despite for euphemism to a point that obscures his purpose. The use of the term "nigger" here gives such offense to the modern reader that the point can be missed! This was not so in Crowley's youth, when this term was used without regard for its effect. For the record, "nigger" does not derive from "negro" = "black" but from "niggard" = "lazy." Crowley uses it here for the stereotype; but he also uses it deliberately to shock, as a lazy way to make such an effect. That makes Crowley a "nigger" at this point, as the word is properly defined! – WEH

2: Apocalpyse, XXII. 15.

3: Shipley's Dictionary of Word Originssneaks the following in under the word "goodbye": "God, Goth. guth, may be traced to Aryan ghut, god, from ghuto, to implore: God is the one to whom we pray." "God" might also be a contraction of "Odin", as "'Od"—have the English speaking Christians been praying to the Aesir all this time? – WEH.
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Re: Magick Without Tears, by Aleister Crowley

Postby admin » Fri May 11, 2018 5:17 am

Chapter XXIX: What is Certainty?

Cara Soror,

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

Well, I suppose I ought to have expected you to cock that wise left eyebrow at me! Right you are to wonder precisely what I mean by "certainty," in the light of:

"On Soul's curtain
Is written this one certainty, that naught is certain."

Then there is that chapter in The Book of Lies (again!)1

The Chinese cannot help thinking that the Octave has five notes.

The more necessary anything appears to my mind, the more certain it is that I only assert a limitation.

I slept with Faith, and found a corpse in my arms on awaking; I drank and danced all night with Doubt, and found her a virgin in the morning.

I wouldn't start to argue with the Chinese, if I were you; they might remind you that you exude the stench peculiar to corpses.

Again, that other "Hymn to St. Thomas", as I ought perhaps to have called it:2

Doubt Thyself.
Doubt even if thou doubtest thyself.
Doubt all
Doubt even if thou doubtest all.

It seems sometimes as if beneath all conscious doubt there lay some deepest certainty. O kill it! slay the snake!

The horn of the Doubt-Goat be exalted!

Dive deeper, ever deeper, into the Abyss of Mind, until thou unearth that fox THAT. On, hounds! Yoicks! Tally-ho! Bring THAT to bay!

Then, wind the Mort!

Once more—what a book that is: I never realized it until now! it says—see that double page at the onset, one with "?" and the other with "!" alone upon the blank. Moreover you should read the long essay The Soldier and the Hunchback: ! and? in the first volume and number of The Equinox.

But every one of those—rather significant, nich wahr?—slides into a rhapsody of exaltation, a dithyramb, a Paean.* No good here. For what you want is a penny plain pedestrian prose Probability-Percentage. You want to know what the Odds are when I say "certain."

A case for casuistry? At least, for classification. It depends rather on one's tone of voice? Yes, of course, and as to the classification, off we jog to the Divine Pymander, who saw, and stated, the quiddity of our query with his accustomed lucidity. He discerns three degrees of Truth; and he distinguishes accordingly:—

1. True
2. Certain without error
3. Of all truth.3

Clear enough, the difference between 1 and 2: ask me the time, I say half-past two; and that's true enough. But the Astronomer Royal is by no manner of means satisfied with any approximation of that kind. He wants it accurate. He must know the longitude to a second; he must have decided what method of measuring time is to be used; he must make corrections for this and for that; and he must have attached an (arbitrary) interpretation to the system; the whole question of Relativity pops up. And, even so, he will enter a caveat about every single ganglion in the gossamer of his calculations.

* It seems natural to me—apodeictic after a fashion—to treat Doubt as positive, even aggressive. There is none of the wavering, wobbling, woebegone wail of the weary and bewildered wage-slave; it is a triumphant challenge, disagreement for its own sake. Irish!

Browing painted a quite perfect picture of my Doubt.

Up jumped Tokay on our table,
Like a pigmy castle-warder,
Dwarfish to see but stout and able,
Arms and accoutrement all in order;
And fierce he looked North, then wheeling South
Blew with his bugle a challenge to Drouth,
Cocked his flap-hat with the tosspot feather,
Twisted his thumb in his red moustache,
Jingled his huge brass spurs together,
Tightened his waist with its Buda Sash,
And then, with an impudence nought could abash
Shrugged his hump-shoulder, to tell the beholder,
For twenty such knaves he should laugh but the bolder;
And so, with his sword-hilt gallantly jutting,
And dexter hand on his haunch abutting,
Went the little man, Sir Ausbruch, strutting!

It's not the least bit like Tokay; rather the Bull's Blood its neighbor, or any rough strong red wine like Rioja. Curious, though, his making him a hunchbacked dwarf; there must be something in this deep down. I wonder what! (Ask Jung!)

Well then, all this intricate differentiation and integration and verification and Lord knows what leads at last to a statement which may be called "Certain without Error."

Excuse me just a moment! When I was staying at the Consulate of Tengyueh, just inside the S.W. frontier of China, our one link with England, Home, and Beauty was the Telegraph Service from Pekin. One week it was silent, and we were anxious for news, our last bit of information having been that there was rioting in Shanghai, seventeen Sikh policemen killed. For all we knew the whole country might rise en masse at any moment to expel the "Foreign Devils." At last the welcome messenger trotted across from the city in the twilight with a whole sheaf of telegrams. Alas, save for the date of dispatch, the wording in each one was identical: each told us that it was noon in Pekin!

They had to be relayed at Yung Chang, and both the operators had taken ten days off to smoke opium, sensible fellows!

But Hermes Trismegistus is not content with any such fugues as the Astronomer, however cunning and colossal his Organ; his Third Degree demands much more than this. The Astronomer's estimate has puttied every tiniest crack, he concedes it, but then waves it brusquely away: all the time the door is standing wide open!

The Astronomer's exquisitely tailored figure stands in abashed isolation, like a gawky young man at his first Ball; he feels that he doesn't belong. For this D.S.T., or Greenwich, or what not, however exact in itself, is so only in reference to some other set of measurements which themselves turn out to be arbitrary; it is not of any ultimate import; nobody can dispute it, but it simply doesn't matter to anybody, apart from the particular case. It is not "Of all Truth."

What Hermes means by this it will be well to enquire.

May we call it "a truth of Religion?" (Don't be shocked! The original word implies a binding-together-again, as in a "Body of Doctrine:" compare the word "Ligature." It was only later by corruption, that the word came to imply "piety;" re-ligens, attentive (to the gods) as opposed to neg-ligens, neglectful.)

I think that Hermes was contemplating a Ruach closely knitted together and anchored by incessant Aspiration to the Supernal Triad; just such an one, in short, as appears in those remarks on the Magical Memory, a God-man ready to discard his well-worn Instrument for a new one, bought up to date with all the latest improvements (the movement of the Zeitgeist during his past incarnation, in particular) well wrought and ready for his use.

This being so, a truth which is "of all Truth" should mean any proposition which forms an essential part of this Khu—this "Magical Identity" of a man.

How how curious it must appear at the first glance to note that the truths of this order should prove to be what we call Axioms—or even Platitudes—

. . . . . . What's that noise?

. . . . . . I think I hear Sir Ausbruch!

And in full eruption too! And hasn't he the right? For all this time we've bluffed our way breezily ahead over the sparkling seas, oblivious of that very Chinese Chinese-puzzle that we started with, the paradox (is it?) of the Chinese Gamut.

(We shan't get into doldrums; there's always the way out from "?" to "!" as with any and every intellectual problem whatsoever: it's the only way. Otherwise, of course, we get to A is A, A is not-A, not-A is not-A, not-A is A, as is inevitable).

"The more certain I am of anything, the more certain it is that I am only asserting a limitation of my own mind."

Very good, but what am I to do about it? Some at least of such certainties must surely be "of all Truth." The test of admission to this class ought to be that, of one were to accept the contradictory of the proposition, the entire structure of the Mind would be knocked to pieces, as is not at all the case with the Astronomer's determination, which may turn out to be wrong for a dozen different reasons without anybody getting seriously wounded in his tenderest feelings.

The Statesman knows instinctively, or at worst, by his training and experience, what sort of assertion, harmless enough on the surface, may be "dangerous thinking," a death-blow to his own idea of what is "of all Truth," and strikes out wildly in a panic entirely justifiable from his own point of view. Exhibit No. 1: Galileo and that lot. What could it possibly matter to the Gospel story that people should think that the Earth moves round the Sun? (Riemann, and oh! such a lot of things, have shewn that it didn't and doesn't! This sort of "Truth" is only a set of conventions.)

"Oh, don't gas away like this! I want to know what to do about it. Am I to accept this cauerwauling Gamut, and enlarge my Mind, and call it an Initiation? Or am I to nail my own of-all-Truth Tonic Solfa to the Mast, and go down into the Maelstrom of Insanity with colours flying? Do you really need Massed Bands to lull Baby to sleep?

The Master of the Temple deals very simply and efficiently with problems of this kind. "The Mind" (says he) of this Party of the First Part, hereinafter referred to as Frater N (or whatever his 8° = 3° motto may be) is so constructed that the interval from C to C is most harmoniously divided into n notes; that of the Party of the Second Part hereinafter referred to as—not a Heretic, an Atheist, a Bolshie, ad Die-hard, a Schismatic, an Anarchist, a Black Magician, a Friend of Aleister Crowley, or whatever may be the current term of abuse—Mr. A, Lord B, the Duke of C, Mrs. X, or whatever he or she may chance to be called—into five. The Structure called of-all-Truth in neither of us is affected in the least, any more than in the reading of a Thermometer with Fahrenheit on one side and Centigrade on the other.

You naturally object that this answer is little better than an evasion, that it automatically pushes the Gamut question outside the Charmed of-all-Truth Circle.

No, it doesn't really; for if you were able to put up a Projection of those two minds, there would be, firstly, some sort of compensation elsewhere than in the musical section; and secondly, some Truth of a yet higher order which is common to both.

Not unaware am I that these conceptions are at first exceedingly difficult to formulate clearly. I wouldn't go so far as to say that one would have to be a Master of the Temple to understand them; but it is really very necessary to have grasped firmly the doctrine that "a thing is only true insofar as it contains its contradiction in itself." (A good way to realize this is by keeping up a merry dance of paradoxes, such as infest Logic and Mathematics. The repeated butting of the head against a brick wall is bound in the long run to shake up the little grey cells (as Poirot4 might say), teach you to distrust any train of argument, however apparently impeccable the syllogisms, and to seek ever more eagerly the dawn of that Neschamic consciousness where all these things are clearly understood, although impossible to express in rational language.)

The prime function of intellect is differentiation; it deals with marks, with limits, with the relations of what is not identical; in Neschamah all this work has been carried out so perfectly that the "rough working" has passed clean out of mind; just so, you say "I" as if it were an indivisible Unity, unconscious of the inconceivably intricate machinery of anatomical, physiological, psychological construction which issues in this idea of "I."

We may then with some confidence reaffirm that our certainties do assert our limitations; but this kind of limitation is not necessarily harmful, provided that we view the situation in its proper perspective, that we understand that membership of the of-all-Truth class does not (as one is apt to think at first sight) deepen the gulfs which separate mind from mind, but on the contrary put us in a position to ignore them. Our acts of "love under will," which express our devotion to Nuit, which multiply the fulfillments of our possibilities, become continually more efficacious, and more closely bound up with our Formula of Initiation; and we progressively become aware of deeper and vaster Images of the of-all-Truth class, which reconcile, by including within themselves, all apparent antinomies.

It is certain without error that I ought to go to bed.

Love is the law, love under will.





1: Chapter ME (45), "Chinese Music."

2: Chapter NA (51), "Terrier-Works."

3: This schema is, as far as I can tell, derived from a loose translation of the first line (or rather, preamble), of the "Emerald Tablet" a "Hermetic" writing believed to be of Alchemical significance (the earliest known copies are in Arabic). It is more usually rendered along the lines of "True without error, certain and most true." I do not know the origins of the "of All Truth" reading – T.S.

4: A detective in sensational fiction of the period – T.S.
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Re: Magick Without Tears, by Aleister Crowley

Postby admin » Fri May 11, 2018 5:18 am

Chapter XXX: Do you believe in God?

Cara Soror,

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

You are quite right, as usual. True, we have gone over a great deal of the ground in various learned disquisitions of Gods, Angels, Elves, et hoc genus omne.

But God with a capital "G" in the singular is a totally different pair of Blüchers—nicht wahr?

Let me go back just for a moment to the meaning of "belief." We agreed that the word was senseless except as it implies an opinion, instinct, conviction—what you please!—so firmly entrenched in our natures that we act automatically as if it were "true" and "certain without error," perhaps even "of the essence of truth."1 (Browning discusses this in Mr. Sludge the Medium.) Good: the field is clear for an enquiry into this word God.

We find ourselves in trouble from the start.

We must define; and to define is to limit; and to limit is to reduce "God" to "a God" or at best "the God."

He must be omniscient (Mercury) omnipotent, (Sulphur) and omnipresent (Salt);2 yet to such a Being no purpose would be possible; so that all the apologies for the existence of "evil" crash. If there be opposites of any kind, there can be no consistency. He cannot be Two; He must be One; yet, as is obvious, he isn't.

How do the Hindu philosophers try to get out of this quag? "Evil" is "illusion;" has no "real" existence. Then what is the point of it?

They say "Not that, not that!" denying to him all attributes; He is "that which is without quantity or quality." They contradict themselves at every turn; seeking to remove limit, they remove definition. Their only refuge is in "superconsciousness." Splendid! but now "belief" has disappeared altogether; for the word has no sense unless it is subject to the laws of normal thought... Tut! you must be feeling it yourself; the further one goes, the darker the path. All I have written is somehow muddled and obscure, maugre my frenzied struggle for lucidity, simplicity . . . .

Is this the fault of my own sophistication? I asked myself. Tell you what! I'll trot round to my masseuse, and put it up to her. She is a simple country soul, by no means over-educated, but intelligent; capable of a firm grasp of the principles of her job; a steady church-goer on what she considers worthwhile occasions; dislikes the rector, but praises his policy of keeping his discourse within bounds. She has done quite a lot of thinking for herself; distrusts and despises the Press and the Radio, has no use for ready-made opinions. She shares with the flock their normal prejudices and phobias, but is not bigoted about them, and follows readily enough a line of simply-expressed destructive criticism when it is put to her. This is, however, only a temporary reaction; a day later she would repeat the previous inanities as if they had never been demolished. In the late fifties, at a guess. I sprang your question on her out of the blue, à la "doodle-bug;" premising merely that I had been asked the question, and was puzzled as to how to answer it. Her reply was curious and surprising: without a moment's hesitation and with great enthusiasm, "Quickly, yes!" The spontaneous reservation struck me as extremely interesting. I said: of course, but suppose you think it over—and out—a bit, what am I to understand? She began glibly "He's a great big—" and broke off, looking foolish. Then, although omnipotent, He needed our help—we were all just as powerful as He, for we were little bits of each other—but exactly how, or to what end, she did not make clear. An exclamation: "Then there is the Devil!"

She went on without a word from me for a long while, tying herself up into fresh knots with every phase. She became irreverent, then downright blasphemous; stopped short and began to laugh at herself. And so forth—but, what struck me as curious and significant, in the main her argument followed quite closely the lines which came naturally to me, at the beginning of this letter!

In the end, "curiouser and curiouser," she arrived at a practically identical conclusion: she believed, but what she believed in was Nothing!

As to our old criterion of what we imply in practice when we say that we believe, she began by saying that If we "helped" God in His mysterious plan, He would in some fashion or other look after us. But about this she was even more vague than in the matter of intellectual conviction; "helping God" meant behaving decently according to one's own instinctive ideas of what "decently" means.

It is very encouraging that she should have seen, without any prompting on my part, to what a muddle the question necessarily led; and very nice for me, because it lets me out, cara soror!

Love is the law, love under will.



P.S. I thought it a good plan to put my fundamental position all by itself in a postscript; to frame it. My observation of the Universe convinces me that there are beings of intelligence and power of a far higher quality than anything we can conceive of as human; that they are not necessarily based on the cerebral and nervous structures that we know; and that the one and only chance for mankind to advance as a whole is for individuals to make contact with such Beings.



1: Crowley is alluding to the preamble to the "Emerald Tablet of Hermes" which is more usually translated along the lines of: "True, without error (or "falsehood"), certain and most true." – T.S.

2: The original had the symbols for alchemical mercury, sulphur and salt.
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Re: Magick Without Tears, by Aleister Crowley

Postby admin » Fri May 11, 2018 5:19 am

Chapter XXXI: Religion–Is Thelema a "New Religion"?

Cara Soror,

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

"Would you describe your system as a new religion?" A pertinent question, you doubtless suppose; whether it may happen to mean anything is—is—is—well, is what we must try to make clear.

True, it's a slogan of A.'. A.'. "The method of science—the aim of religion.& Here the word "aim" and the context help the definition; it must mean the attainment of Knowledge and Power in spiritual matters—or words to that effect: as soon as one selects a phrase, one starts to kick holes in it! Yet we both know perfectly well all the time what we do mean.

But this is certainly not the sense of the word in your question. It may clear our minds, as has so often happened, if we examine it through the lens of dear old Skeat.

Religion, he says, Latin: religio, piety. Collection or paying attention to: religens as opposed to negligens, neglecting; the attitude of Gallio. But it also implies a binding together i.e. of ideas; in fact, a "body of doctrine." Not a bad expression. A religion then, is a more or less coherent and consistent set of beliefs, with precepts and prohibitions therefrom deducible. But then there is the sense in which Frazer (and I) often use the word: as in opposition to "Science" or "Magic." Here the point is that religious people attribute phenomena to the will of some postulated Being or Beings, placable and moveable by virtue of sacrifice, devotion, or appeal. Against such, the scientific or magical mind believes in the Laws of Nature, asserts "If A, then B"—if you do so-and-so, the result will be so-and-so, aloof from arbitrary interference. Joshua, it is alleged, made the sun stand still by supplication, and Hezekiah in the same way cause it to "go back upon the dial of Ahaz;" Willett did it by putting the clock back, and getting an Act of Parliament to confirm his lunacy. Petruchio, too "It shall be what o'clock I say it is!" The two last came close to the magical method; at least, to that branch of it which consists of "fooling all the people all the time." But such an operation, if true Magick were employed, would be beyond the power of any magician of my acquaintance; for it would mess up the solar system completely. (You remember how this happened, and what came of it, in a rather clever short story by H.G. Wells.) For true Magick means "to employ one set of natural forces at a mechanical advantage as against another set"—I quote, as closely as memory serves, Thomas Henry Huxley, when he explains that when he lifts his water-jug—or his elbow—he does not "defy the Law of Gravitation." On the contrary, he uses that Law; its equations form part of the system by which he lifts the jug without spilling the water.

To sum up, our system is a religion just so far as a religion means an enthusiastic putting-together of a series of doctrines, no one of which must in any way clash with Science or Magick.

Call it a new religion, then, if it so please your Gracious Majesty; but I confess that I fail to see what you will have gained by so doing, and I feel bound to add that you might easily cause a great deal of misunderstanding, and work a rather stupid kind of mischief.

The word does not occur in The Book of the Law.

Love is the law, love under will.


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Re: Magick Without Tears, by Aleister Crowley

Postby admin » Fri May 11, 2018 5:19 am

Chapter XXXII: How can a Yogi ever be Worried?

Cara Soror,

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

That question I have been expecting for a very long time! And what you expect is to see my middle stump break the wicket-keeper's nose, with the balls smartly fielded by Third Man and Short Leg!

I admit that it looks like a strong case. Here (you put it in your more elegant prose) we have a Yogi, nay more, a Paramahamsa, a Bodhisattva of the best: yea, further, we have a Master of the Temple—and is not his Motto "Vi veri vniversom vivus vici?" and yet we find him fussing like an old hen over the most trivial of troubles; we find him wrapped in the lacustrine vapours of Avernus, fretting himself into a fever about imaginary misfortunes at which no normal person would do more than cast a contemptuous glance, and get on with the job.

Yes, although you can scarcely evade indictment for unnecessarily employing the language of hyperbole, I see what you mean. Yet the answer is adequate; the very terms of his Bargain with Destiny not only allow for, but imply, some such reaction on the part of the Master to the Bludgeonings of Fate. (W. E. Henley*)

There are two ways of looking at the problem. One is what I may call the mathematical. If I have ten and sixpence in the world and but a half-guinea cigar, I have no money left to buy a box of matches. To "snap out of it" and recover my normal serenity requires only a minute effort, and the whole of my magical energy is earmarked for the Great Work. I have none left to make that effort. Of course, if the worry is enough to interfere with that Work, I must detail a corporal's file to abate the nuisance.

The other way may be called the Taoist aspect. First, however, let me explain the point of view of the Master of the Temple, as it is so similar. You should remember from your reading what happens in this Grade. The new Master is "cast out" into the sphere appropriate to the nature of his own particular Great Work. And it is proper for him to act in true accordance with the nature of the man as he was when he passed through that Sphere (or Grade) on his upward journey. Thus, if he be cast out into 3° = 8°, it is no part of his work to aim at the virtues of a 4° = 7°; all that has been done long before. It is no business of his to be bothering his head about anything at all but his Work; so he must react to events as they occur in the way natural to him without trying to "improve himself." (This, of course, applies not only to worry, but to all his funny little ways.)

The Taoist position differs little, but it is independent of all considerations of the man's attainment; it is an universal rule based on a particular theory of things in general. Thus, "benevolence and righteousness" are not "virtues;" they are only symptoms of the world-disease, in that they should be needed. The same applies to all conditions, and to all modes of seeking to modify them. There is only one proper reaction to event; that is, to adjust oneself with perfect elasticity to whatever happens.

That tiger across the paddy-field looks hungry. There are several ways of dealing with the situation. One can run away, or climb a tree, or shoot him, or (in your case) cow him by the Power of the Human Eye; but the way of the Tao is to take no particular notice. (This, incidentally, is not such bad Magick; the diversion of your attention might very well result in your becoming invisible, as I have explained in a previous letter.) The theory appears to be that, although your effort to save yourself is successful, it is bound to create a disturbance of equilibrium elsewhere, with results equally disastrous. Even more so; it might be that to be eaten by a tiger is just what you needed in your career through the incarnations; at that moment there might well be a vacancy somewhere exactly where it will do most good to your Great Work. When you press on one spot, you make a corresponding bulge in another, as we often see a beautiful lady, unhappy about her waist-line, adopt drastic measures, and transform herself into the semblance of a Pouter Puffin!

In theory, I am particularly pleased about this Method, because it goes for everybody, requires no knowledge, no technical training, "no nuffin." All the same, it won't do for me, except in a much modified form, and in very special cases; because no course of action (or inaction) is conceivable that would do great violence to my nature.

So let me worry along, please, with the accent on the "along;" I will grin and bear it, or, if it gets so bad that I can't do my Work, I will make the necessary effort to abate the nuisance, always most careful to do as little damage as possible to the main current of my total Energy.

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 5:19 am

Chapter XXXIII: The Golden Mean

Cara Soror,

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

You would think that one who like myself has the Sun, the Lord of His Horoscope, in Libra, with Venus who rules that sign in close conjunction with him, with Saturn trine, Uranus sextile, Mars square and Luna quincunx to him, would wear the Golden Mean as a breastplate, flaunt it on my banneret, quarter it on my escutcheon, and grave it on the two-edged blade of my thrice trusty falchion!

Just so, objects that instinct itself! "Had you been born a few hours earlier, with Aries rising, its lord Mars aggravated by the square of Sol and Venus, you would indeed have bee a Wild Man of the Woods, arrogant, bigoted, domineering, incapable of seeing a second side to any question, headstrong, haughty, a seething hell-broth of hate; and this fact disables your judgment."

All perfectly true. My equable nature is congenitally hostile to extreme measures, except in imagination. I cannot bear sudden violent movements. Climbing rocks, people used to say that I didn't climb them, that I oozed over them!

This explains, I think, my deep-seated dislike of many passages in The Book of the Law. "O prophet! thou hast ill will to learn this writing. I see thee hate the hand & the pen; but I am stronger." (AL II, 10-11)

Well, what is the upshot of all this? It answers your question about the value to be attached to this Golden Mean. There is no rule about it; your own attitude is proper for yourself, and has no value for anybody else. But you must make sure exactly what that attitude actually is, deep down.

Let us go back for a moment to the passage above quoted. The text goes on to give the reason for the facts. "Because of me in Thee which thou knewest not. for why? Because thou wast the knower, and me." (AL II, 12-13) The unexpected use or disuse of capitals, the queer syntax, the unintelligibility of the whole passage: these certainly indicate some profound Qabalistic import in these texts.

So we had better mark that Strictly Private, and forget it.

One point, however, we have forgotten: although my Libra inclinations do bias me personally, they also make me fair-minded, "a judge, and a good judge too" in the memorable phrase of the late William Schwenk Gilbert. So I will sum up what is to be said for and against this Golden Mean.
As usual, nobody has taken the trouble to define the term. We know that it was extolled by both the Greek and the Chinese philosophers; but I cannot see that they meant much more than to counsel the avoidance of extremes, whether of measures or of opinions; and to advocate moderation in all things.

James Hilton has a most amusing Chinese in his Lost Horizon. When the American 100% he-man, mixer, joiner, and go-getter, agrees with him about broadmindedness in religious beliefs, and ends "and I'm dead sure you're right!" his host mildly rebukes him, saying: "But we are only moderately sure." Such thought plumbs the Abysses of Wisdom; at least, it may quite possibly do so. Forgive me if I emulate the teacher!

But this is not as simple as it sounds. There is great danger in this Golden Mean, one of whose main objects is to steer clear of shipwreck, Scylla being as fatal as Charybdis. No, this lofty and equable attitude is worse than wrong unless it derives from striking the balance between two very distant opposites. One of the worst perils of the present time is that, in the reaction against ignorant bigotry, people no longer dare to make up their minds about anything. The very practice, which the A.'. A.'. so strongly and persistently advocates, tends to make people feel that any positive attitude or gesture is certainly wrong, whatever may be right. They forget that the opposite may, within the limit of the universe of discourse, amount to nothing.

They fall into flabbiness.

I avoid this—see the example at the very outset of this letter—by saying: "Yes, I hate so-and-so like hell; I want to exterminate the very memory of the bastard from the earth, after I have personally superintended having him 'Seven years a-killing' winding up by hanging, disembowelling, and quartering him. But of course I'm not necessarily right about this in any sense; it is merely that I happened to be born the kind of man that feels like that!"

Of course, in no case does the Golden Mean advise hesitating, trimming, hedging, compromising; the very object of ensuring an exact balance in your weapon is that its blow may be clean and certain.

You know how all our faults love to disguise themselves as virtues; very often, as what our neighbours call virtues, not what we ourselves think them. We are all ashamed to be ourselves; and this is sheer, stark stultification. For we are ourselves; we cannot get away from it; all our hypocrisies and shams are just as much part of ourselves as what we like to think is the real man. All that we do when we make these pretenses is to set up internal strain and conflict; there is nothing objective in it. Instead of adding to our experience, which is the Great Work, we shut ourselves up in this citadel of civil turmoil; it is the Formula of the Black Brothers.

The Golden Mean is more valuable as the extremes which it summarizes are distant from each other; that is the plain mechanics of the lever. So don't pay too much attention to these remarks; they are no more than the quiet fireside reflections of a man who has spent all his life breaking records. The Golden Mean at its best can only keep you from extravagant blunders; it will never get you anywhere.

The Book of the Law constantly implies a very different policy; listen to its climax-exhortation:

"But exceed! exceed!" (AL II, 71)

Remember that which is written: "Moderate strength rings the bell: great strength returns the penny." It is always the little bit extra that brings home the bacon. It is the last attack that breaks through the enemy position. Water will never boil, however long you keep it at 99° C. You may find that a Pranayama cycle of 10-20-30 brings no result in months; put it up to 10-20-40, and Dhyana comes instantly. When in doubt, push just a little bit harder. You have no means of finding out what are exactly the right conditions for success in any practice; but all practices are alike in one respect; the desired result is in the nature of orgasm.

I guess that's about what I think.

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 5:21 am

Chapter XXXIV: The Tao (1)

Cara Soror,

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

This is the hardest question you have yet put to me: to explain the Tao. The only proper answer would be Silence, trusting to the slow dispersion and absorption of the disturbance created by your asking it. In that sentence there lies, really, the whole explanation; but I see well enough that it won't do for you. You are not yet old or wise enough to understand that the only way to clear muddy water is to leave it alone. Still, you doubtless expect me to tell you just how that comes to pass; I will not disappoint you. First of all, what is the Tao? No proposed equivalent in any other language comes within a billion light-years of giving even an approximation. For one thing, it is itself a paradox; for another, it has several meanings which are apparently quite distinct. For instance, one sinologist calls it "Reason"; another, "The Way"; another "Tat" or "Shiva." These are all true in one sense or another. My own "White Hope" (see The Book of Thoth) is to identify it with the Qabalistic Zero. This last attribution is useful, as I will show presently, for hard practical reasons; it is an assumption which indicates the method of the Old Wise One who approaches the Tao.

As you know, the supreme classic of this subject, is the Tao Teh King; and I must suppose that you have read this in at least one of the several translations, else I should have to start by pushing my own version at you. (This has been ready for a quarter of a century, and I seem to be unable to get it printed!) None of these published translations, learned and admirable though they may be as such, can be of use except to familiarize you with the terminology; for not one of these scholars has the most nebulous idea of that Laotze was talking about. I can hardly hope to emphasize sternly enough how deep and wide is the "Great Gulf fixed" between the initiate and the profane, when questions of this kind are on the Magic Carpet. Suppose you were transported (on that Carpet!) to a planet where the highest means of reproduction was germination; try to make the denizens understand Catullus, Shelley, Rossetti, or Emily Bronteë! It is, honestly, quite as bad as that. How can anyone grasp the idea of perfect and absolute negation being at the same time the sole motive force of all that exits?

"Tao hath no will to work;
But by its influence even
The Moon and Sun rejoice to run
Among the starry Seven."

-- King Kang Khang.1

The Book of the Law states the doctrine of Tao very succinctly: "...thou hast no right but to do thy will. Do that, and no other shall say nay. For pure will, unassuaged of purpose, delivered from the lust of result, is every way perfect." (AL I, 42-44)

"Thus also the Sage, seeking not any goal, attaineth all things; he does not interfere in the affairs of his body, and so that body acteth without friction. It is because he meddleth not with his personal aims that these come to pass with simplicity."

-- Tao Teh King, VII, 2.

The ideal analogy seems to be that of a planet in its orbit. It has its "true motion;" it meets the minimum of friction from circumambient space. When it suffers the attraction of another body, it sways slightly to make the proper adjustment without effort or argument; it can, consequently, continue indefinitely in its orbit.

This is roughly the plan of the Taoist in his attitude to life. Having ascertained the Path which satisfies the equations of his Nature (as we say, "found his True Will") he continues "without lust of result," acting only when it happens to be necessary to adjust himself to any external stress that affects him, and so proceeds happily

"thinking of a way
To feed oneself on batter,
And so go on from day to day
Getting a little fatter."

—assuming that his "True Will" is of that variety. Basil King Lamus asserts this in The Diary of A Drug Fiend when he says: "If I were a dog, I should bark; if I were an owl, I should hoot." It is rather like the pattern in the game of dominoes; you put the card that matches. No other consideration comes into it at all.

It is the extreme simplicity of this idea which baffles people's minds, and the universal quality of impatience which makes everybody fidget, and so injure the delicacy of the "fine adjustment" which is the essence of the work.

When I used to climb rocks, I never jumped, I never grabbed, I never made a sudden or a violent movement; therefore, with thin smooth arms like a young girl's, and legs, tough enough it is true but always slow and steady, I used to find myself at the top of pitches that had beaten all the gymnasts.

In every sport worth the name one may observe similar facts. Consider the delicacy required for big breaks at billiards; the problem is always to secure favourable readjustment with a minimum of disturbance. Of course, there are positions which demand drastic treatment; but that is the best evidence that the balls have got into the worst possible mess from your point of view. But it was an exquisitely delicate "safety shot" that got them like that. True, there are games in which brute force is the way to victory; but such games never make progress in themselves. The "tug-of-war" or "tossing the caber" are exactly as they were fifty—or five hundred—years ago. Contrast the advance in "positional" chess!

Oh yes, this is all old stuff! Of course it is; but it remains a useful sort of basis for meditation when you are seeking to understand one aspect of the Way of he Tao.

Anyhow (you protest) this is getting away from the question as to what Tao actually is. Good; but I want you to abstain from trying to make an intellectual image of it, still less to visualize it. I tried at one time to do something of the sort with the Fourth Dimension:2 Hinton gives a practice involving complex patterns of cubes; and I was never able to make anything of it.

As I said above, it is a matter of Neschamah; but what follows may help you.

Why is the Tao translated "Reason"? Because by "Reason" is here meant the structure of the mind itself; a Buddhist who had succeeded with Mahasatipatthana might call it the Consciousnesss of the Tendency to Perceive the Sensation of Anything. For in the last resort, and through the pursuit of one line of analysis, this structure is all that we can call our consciousness. Everything of which we can in any way be aware may be interpreted as being some function of this structure.

Note! Function. For now we see why Tao may also be translated "The Way"; for it is the motion of the structure that we observe. There is no Being apart from Going.

You are familiar with the Four Powers of the Sphinx, attributed by the Adepts of old time to their Four Elements. Air is to Know, Scire; Fire is to Will, Velle; Water is to Dare, Audere; and Earth is to Keep Silence, Tacere. But now that a fifth Element, spirit, is generally recognized in the Qabalah, I have deemed it proper to add a Fifth Power corresponding: to Go, Ire. (Book of Thoth, p. 275)3

Then, as Spirit is the Origin, the Essence, and the Sum of the other four, so is to Go in relation to those powers. And to Go is the very meaning of the name God, as elsewhere shewn in these letters; hence the Egyptian Gods were signalized as such by their bearing the Ankh, which is a Sandal-strap, and in its form the Crux Ansata, the Rosy Cross, the means whereby we demonstrate the Godhead of our Nature. See then how sweetly each idea slides into the next! How right this is, that the Quintessence should be dynamic and not static! For if there were some form of Being separate from Going, it would necessarily be subject to decay; and, in any case, a thing impossible to apprehend, since apprehension is itself an Act, not an idea immobile which would be bound to change in the very moment of grasping it.

As I have tried to shew in another letter, the "Point-Event" (or whatever it is) of which we are aware is a change, or, less inaccurately, the memory of one; the things that change remain relentlessly unknown.

It does seem to me, young woman, that you ought to go over these ideas again and again, familiarizing yourself intimately with this process of passing from one to another, so intimately that it becomes automatic and spontaneous for you to run round the circle in perfectly frictionless ease; for otherwise your mind will be for ever pestering you all your life, and even your conscience reproaching you; they will say "But you have never got a definite answer to any single one of your original questions." We are all—most of us, anyhow—born with this hankering after the definite; it is our weakness that yearns for repose. We do not see that this is death; if any of these answers could be cut off short and neatly trimmed with paper frills like a ham, it would no longer be even an approximation to truth.

I am quite sure that this is the Doctrine of the Tao, and of opinion that no other body of teaching puts forward its thought more clearly or more simply.

Love is the law, love under will.

Yours fraternally,




1: The Khing Kang King, or "Classic of Purity" is a short Taoist writing attributed to one Ko Yüan (or Hsüan); an English translation by James Legge appeared as an appendix to the two volumes of Taoist texts in the "Sacred Books of the East" series. While he was in America between 1914 and 1919 Crowley wrote a poetic paraphrase which he designated Liber XXI. The verse quoted was originally translated by Legge as "The Great Tâo has no passions, but It causes the sun and moon to revolve as they do." I do not currently have access to any modern translations – T.S.

2: The Fourth Dimension by C.H. Hinton; London, 1884; facsimile reprint by Kessinger available – T.S.

3: The initials of the five "powers" in the Latin language thus form the initials of Sub Umbra Alarum Tuarum, Iehova (or Isis). Compare the concluding prayer of the Fama Fraternitatis – T.S.
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Re: Magick Without Tears, by Aleister Crowley

Postby admin » Fri May 11, 2018 5:21 am

Chapter XXXV: The Tao (2)

Cara Soror,

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

You are only one of a number of people who are interested in my translation of the Tao Teh King. Naturally, I want to publish it; but so many other things come first. So I am sending you the Introduction, in the hope that it will stimulate that interest to the point of getting some other publisher to give it sea-room.1

I bound myself to devote my life to Magick at Easter 1898 (era vulgari) and received my first initiation on November 18 of that year.

My friend and climbing companion, Oscar Eckenstein, gave me my first instructions in learning the control of the mind early in 1901, in Mexico City. Shri Parananda, Solicitor General of Ceylon, an eminent writer upon, and teacher of, Yoga from the orthodox Shaivite standpoint, and Bhikkhu Ananda Metteya, (Allan Bennett) the great English Adept, who was one of my earliest instructors in Magick, and joined the Sangha in Burma in 1902, gave me my first groundings in mystical theory and practice. I spent some months of 1901 in Kandy, Ceylon with the latter, until success crowned my work.

I also studied all varieties of Asiatic philosophy, especially with regard to the practical question of spiritual development, the Sufi doctrines, the Upanishads, the Sankhra, Veda and Vedanta, the Bhagavad-Gita and Purana, the Dammapada, and many other classics, together with numerous writings on the Tantra and Yoga of such men as Patanjali, Vivekananda, etc., etc. Not a few of these teachings are as yet wholly unknown to scholars. I made the scope of my studies as comprehensive as possible, omitting no school of thought however unimportant or repugnant.

I made a critical examination of all these teachers in the light of my practical experience. The physiological and psychological uniformity of mankind guaranteed that the diversity of expression concealed a unity of significance. This discovery was confirmed, furthermore, by reference to Jewish, Greek, and Celtic traditions. One quintessential truth was common to all cults, from the Hebrides to the Yellow Sea; and even the main branches proved essentially identical. It was only the foliage that exhibited incompatibility.

When I walked across China in 1905-6, I was fully armed and accoutred by the above qualifications to attack the till-then-insoluble problem of the Chinese conception of religious truth. Practical studies of the psychology of such Mongolians as I had met in my travels, had already suggested to me that their acentric conception of the universe might represent the correspondence in consciousness of their actual psychological characteristics. I was therefore prepared to examine the doctrines of their religious and philosophic Masters without prejudice such as had always rendered nugatory the efforts of missionary sinologists; indeed, all oriental scholars with the single exception of Rhys Davids. Until his time, translators had invariable assumed, with absurd naivété, or (more often) arrogant bigotry, that a Chinese writer must be putting forth either a more or less distorted and degraded variation of some Christian conception, or utterly puerile absurdities. Even so great a man as Max Müller, in his introduction to the Upanishads, seems only half inclined to admit that the apparent triviality and folly of many passages in these so-called sacred writings might owe their appearance to our ignorance of the historical and religious circumstances, a knowledge of which would render them intelligible.

During my solitary wanderings among the mountainous wastes of Yun Nan, the spiritual atmosphere of China penetrated my consciousness, thanks to the absence of any intellectual impertinences from the organ of knowledge. The Tao Teh King revealed its simplicity and sublimity to my soul, little by little, as the conditions of my physical, no less than of my spiritual life, penetrated the sanctuaries of my spirit. The philosophy of Lao Tze communicated itself to me, in despite of the persistent efforts of my mind to compel it to conform with my preconceived notions of what the text must mean. This process, having thus taken root in my innermost intuition during those tremendous months of wandering Yun Nan, grew continually throughout succeeding years. Whenever I found myself able once more to withdraw myself from the dissipations and distractions which contact with civilization forces upon a man, no matter how vigorously he may struggle against their insolence, to the sacred solitude of he desert, whether among the sierras of Spain or the sands of the Sahara, I found that the philosophy of Lao Tze resumed its sway upon my soul, subtler and stronger on each successive occasion.

But neither Europe nor Africa can show any such desolation as America. The proudest, stubbornest, bitterest peasant of deserted Spain, the most primitive and superstitious Arab of the remotest oases, are a little more than kin and never less than kind at their worst; whereas in the United States one is almost always conscious of an instinctive lack of sympathy and understanding with even the most charming and cultured people. It was therefore during my exile in America that the doctrines of Lao Tze developed most rapidly in my soul, ever forcing their way outwards until I felt it imperious, nay inevitable, to express them in terms of conscious thought.

No sooner had this resolve taken possession of me than I realized that the task approximated to impossibility. His very simplest ideas, the primitive elements of his thought, had no true correspondences in any European terminology. The very first word "Tao" presented a completely insoluble problem. It had been translated "Reason", "The Way", "Το Ον." None of these convey any true conception of the Tao.

The Tao is reason in this sense, that the substance of things may be in part apprehended as being that necessary relation between the elements of thought which determines the laws of reason. In other words, the only reality is that which compels us to connect the various forms of illusion as we do. It is thus evidently unknowable, and expressible neither by speech nor by silence. All that we can know about it is that there is inherent in it a power (which however is not itself) by virtue whereof all beings appear in forms congruous with the nature of necessity.

The Tao is also "the Way"—in the following sense. Nothing exists except as a relation with other similarly postulated ideas. Nothing can be known in itself, but only as one of the participants in a series of events. Reality is therefore in the motion, not in the thing moved. We cannot apprehend anything except as one postulated element of an observed impression of change.

We may express this in other terms as follows. Our knowledge of anything is in reality the sum of our observations of its successive movements, that is to say, of its path from event to event. In this sense the Tao may be translated as "the Way." It is not a thing in itself in the sense of being an object susceptible of apprehension by sense or mind. It is not the cause of any thing; it is rather the category underlying all existence or event, and therefore true and real as they are illusory, being merely landmarks invented for convenience in describing our exper- iences. The Tao possesses no power to cause anything to exist or to take place. Yet our experience when analyzed tells us that the only reality of which we may be sure is this path or Way which resumes the whole of our knowledge.

As for Το Ον,2 which superficially might seem the best translation of Tao as described in the text, it is the most misleading of the three. For To On possesses an extensive connotation implying a whole system of Platonic concepts, than which nothing can be more alien to the essential quality of the Tao. Tao is neither "being" nor "not being" in any sense which Europe could understand. It is neither existence, nor a condition or form of existence. Equally, TO MH ON gives no idea of Tao. Tao is altogether alien to all that class of thought. From its connection with "that principle which necessarily underlies the fact that events occur" one might suppose that the "Becoming" of Heraclitus might assist us to describe the Tao. But the Tao is not a principle at all of that kind. To understand it requires an altogether different state of mind to any with which European thinkers in general are familiar. It is necessary to pursue unflinchingly the path of spiritual development on the lines indicated by the Sufis, the Hindus and the Buddhists; and, having reached the trance called Nerodha-Sammapati, in which are destroyed all forms soever of consciousness, there appears in that abyss of annihilation the germ of an entirely new type of idea, whose principal characteristic is this: that the entire concatenation of One's previous experiences and conceptions could not have happened at all, save by virtue of this indescribable necessity.

I am only too painfully aware that the above exposition is faulty in every respect. In particular, it presupposes in the reader considerable familiarity with the subject, thus practically begging the question. It must also prove almost wholly unintelligible to the average reader, him in fact whom I especially aim to interest.

For his sake I will try to elucidate the matter by an analogy. Consider electricity. It would be absurd to say that electricity is any of the phenomena by which we know it. We take refuge in the petitio principii of saying that electricity is that form of energy which is the principal cause of such and such phenomena. Suppose now that we eliminate this idea as evidently illogical. What remains? We must not hastily answer "Nothing remains." There is some thing inherent in the nature of consciousness, reason, perception, sensation, and of the universe of which they inform us, which is responsible for the fact that we observe these phenomena and not others; that we reflect upon them as we do, and not otherwise. But, even deeper than this, part of the reality of the inscrutable energy which determines the form of our experience, consists in determining that experience should take place at all. It should be clear that this has nothing to do with any of the Platonic conceptions of the nature of things.

The least abject asset in the intellectual bankruptcy of European thought is the Hebrew Qabalah. Properly understood, it is a system of symbolism indefinitely elastic, assuming no axioms, postulating no principles, asserting no theorems, and therefore adaptable, if managed adroitly, to describe any conceivable doctrine. It has been my continual study since 1898, and I have found it of infinite value in the study of the "Tao Teh King." By its aid I was able to attribute the ideas of Lao Tze to an order with which I was exceedingly familiar, and whose practical worth I had repeatedly proved by using it as the basis of the analysis and classification of all Aryan and Semitic religions and philosophies. Despite the essential difficulty of correlating the ideas of Lao Tze with any others, the persistent application of the Qabalistic keys eventually unlocked his treasure-house. I was able to explain to myself his teachings in terms of familiar systems.

This achievement broke the back of my Sphinx. Having once reduced Lao Tze to Qabalistic form, it was easy to translate the result into the language of philosophy. I had already done much to create a new language based on English with the assistance of a few technical terms borrowed from Asia, and above all by the use of a novel conception of the idea of Number and of algebraic and arithmetical procedure to convey the results of spiritual experience to intelligent students.

It is therefore not altogether without confidence that I present this translation of the Tao Teh King to the public. I hope and believe that careful study of the text, as elucidated by my commentary, will enable serious aspirants to the hidden Wisdom to understand (with fair accuracy) what Lao Tze taught. It must however be laid to heart that the essence of his system will inevitably elude intellectual apprehension, unless it be illuminated from above by actual living experience of the truth. Such experience is only to be attained by unswerving application to the prac- tices which he advocates. Nor must the aspirant content himself with the mere attainment of spiritual enlightenment, however sublime. All such achievements are barren unless they be regarded as the means rather than the end of spiritual progress; allowed to infiltrate every detail of the life, not only of the spirit, but of the senses. The Tao can never be known until it interprets the most trivial actions of every day routine. It is a fatal mistake to discriminate between the spiritual importance of meditation and playing golf. To do so is to create an internal conflict. "Let there be no difference made among you between any one thing & any other thing; for thereby there cometh hurt." He who knows the Tao knows it to be the source of all things soever; the most exalted spiritual ecstasy and the most trivial internal impression are from our point of view equally illusions, worthless masks, which hide, with grotesque painted pasteboard false and lifeless, the living face of truth. Yet, from another point of view, they are equally expressions of the ecstatic genius of truth—natural images of the reaction between the essence of one's self and one's particular environment at the moment of their occurrence. They are equally tokens of the Tao by whom, in whom, and of whom, they are. To value them for themselves is to deny the Tao and to be lost in delusion. To despise them is to deny the omnipresence of the Tao, and to suffer the illusion of sorrow. To discriminate between them is to set up the accursed dyad, to surrender to the insanity of intellect, to overwhelm the intuition of truth, and to create civil war in the consciousness.

From 1905 to 1918 the Tao Teh King was my continual study. I constantly recommended it to my friends as the supreme masterpiece of initiated wisdom, and I was as constantly disappointed when they declared that it did not impress them, especially as my preliminary descriptions of the book had aroused their keenest interest. I thus came to see that the fault lay with Legge's translation, and I felt myself impelled to undertake the task of presenting Lao Tze in language informed by the sympathetic understanding which initiation and spiritual experience had conferred on me. During my Great Magical Retirement on Aesopus Island in the Hudson River during the summer of 1918, I set myself to this work, but I discovered immediately that I was totally incompetent. I therefore appealed to an Adept named Amalantrah, which whom I was at that time in almost daily communication. He came readily to my aid, and exhibited to me a codex of the original, which conveyed to me with absolute certitude the exact significance of the text. I was able to divine without hesitation or doubt the precise manner in which Legge had been deceived. He had translated the Chinese with singular fidelity, yet in almost every verse the interpretation was altogether misleading. There was no need to refer to the text from the point of view of scholarship. I had merely to paraphrase his translation in the light of actual knowledge of the true significance of the terms employed. Any one who cares to take the trouble to compare the two versions will be astounded to see how slight a remodeling of a paragraph is sufficient to disperse the obstinate obscurity of prejudice, and let loose a fountain and a flood of living light; to kindle the gnarled prose of stolid scholarship into the burgeoning blossom of lyrical flame.

I completed my translation within three days, but during the last twenty years I have constantly reconsidered every sentence. The manuscript has been lent to a number of friends, scholars who have commended my work, and aspirants who have appreciated its adequacy to present the spirit of the Master's teaching. Those who had been disappointed with Legge's version were enthusiastic about mine. This circumstance is in itself sufficient to assure me that Love's labour has not been lost, and to fill me with enthusiastic confidence that the present publication will abundantly contribute to the fulfillment of my True Will for which I came to earth. Let us wring from labour and sorrow the utmost of which humanity is capable. Fulfill my Will to open the portals of spiritual attainment to my fellowmen, to bring them to the enjoyment of that realization of Truth, beneath all veils of temporal falsehood, which has enlightened mine eyes and filled my mouth with song.

So there you are.

Love is the law, love under will.

Yours fraternally,




1: The bulk of this letter is Crowley's introduction to his "translation" of the Tao Teh King (now more usually transliterated Dao De Jing) which, as he indicates, was rather a revision and free paraphrase of Legge's translation. It was finally published, along with Crowley's commentary, in two different editions in the mid-1970s. One of these was reprinted in 1995 by Weiser, with Liber XXI, (a verse paraphrase by Crowley of a shorter Taoist writing) as an appendix – T.S.

2: Grk., "Being" or "the Existent."
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Re: Magick Without Tears, by Aleister Crowley

Postby admin » Fri May 11, 2018 5:22 am

Chapter XXXVI: Quo Stet Olympus: Where the Gods, Angels, etc. Live\

Cara Soror,

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

We settled what Gods, angels, demons, elementals were some little while ago; we also wrote of how they live, so now, insatiable Seeker, you ask where.

But surely, even as a child—did you not sing that immemorial Gregorian plain-chant

"There's a Friend for little children
Above the bright blue sky."

Simple enough. A nice flat earth: sun, moon, stars, planets, satellites hung up to dry, with occasional meteorites and comets jazzing about to vary the monotony; above all that, this bright blue floor based upon Reckitts' and advertisements for the Riviera.

Just like that. And above that again, the Jew Jeweller's hashish dream of heaven: see the Apocalypse. A vulgarization of Baudelaire's still, shining, mirror world!

How right Rome was when she put her foot down on great Galileo and his upstart kind! But she did not do the job properly. She should have brewed a bogus bogey-tale to frighten people off astronomy for ever. But perhaps it was already too late! The mischief had struck roots too deep for her.

What had these wizards wrought?

Those lovely mediaeval Charts Celestial that still enchant us by sheer beauty and sublimity had been made mockery by those sinister adepts of sorcery!

No more flat earth on four pillars—on?—

In India the earth was supported by an elephant who stood on a tortoise—who . . . ? No floor above. Nothing but empty space with swarming galaxies; no room for "heaven." Simpler to call Olympus or Meru the home of the Gods—believe it or not! don't ask questions!

Yet all the time the difficulty is of our own silly making. The most elementary consideration of the nature of Gods, angels, demons, and the rest, as shown by their peculiar faculties, stamps them all instantly as Beings pertaining to more than three dimensions! Just as no number of lines is enough to produce the smallest plain, as a cube is capable of containing an infinite number of squares, so, far from there being no room for heaven, there is absolutely nothing but room!

Yet of course the nature of that space is for ever incomprehensible, nay inconceivable, by any being of a lower dimension. Only when we have succeeded in uniting our Conscious (three-dimensional) with our Unconscious (four-dimensional) Self can we expect even a symbolic conception of how things go on "in them furrin parts."

Speculation on such points is unpardonably profitless; I have only devoted these few paragraphs to the subject because it is useful to rebut the somewhat soapbox type of critic who thinks to rebut the whole thesis "Sunt Daemones" by the snook-cocking query "Quo Stet Olympus."

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 5:23 am

Chapter XXXVII: Death—Fear—"Magical Memory"

Cara Soror,

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

You ask me, very naturally, for details of the promise of Nuit (AL I, 58) "...certainty, not faith, while in life, upon death; ..."

In the first place, I think that it means what it says. There may be, probably is, some Qabalistic inner meaning: Those four nouns most assuredly look as if there were; but I don't feel at all sure what the Greek (or Hebrew, or Arabic) words would be; in any case, I have not yet made any attempt in this direction.

To the straightforward promise, then! Certainly no word more reassuring could be given. But avoid anxiety, of course; remember "without lust of result," and AL III, 16: "Deem not too eagerly to catch the promises; ..." Now, full speed ahead!

Like most promises of this type, it is, one must suppose, conditional.

Such a power is clearly of the Siddhi; and my instinct tells me that it is a result of devotion to Our Lady of the Stars. Somehow I can't think of it as a sort of Birthday Present to a Favourite Nephew. "Why not?" You're right, as usual: anything may be a "Play of Nuit." Still, I feel that this would be a rare case.

"But doesn't everything have to happen to everybody?" Yes, of course, in a sense; but don't keep on interrupting! I was coming to something interesting.

I insist of putting forth the immediately useful point of view: "devotion to Nuit" must mean the eager pursuit of the fulfillment of all possibilities, however unpleasant.

Good: now see how logical this is." For how else could one have reasonable "certainty," as contrary with "faith" (=interior conviction), otherwise than by the acquisition of the "Magical Memory"—the memory of former lives. And this must evidently include that of former deaths. Indeed "Freudian forgetfulness" is very pertinacious on such themes; the shock of death makes it a matter of displaying the most formidable courage to go over in one's mind the incidents of previous deaths. You recall the Buddhist "Ten Impurities;"—The Drowned Corpse, the Gnawed-by-wild-beasts-Corpse, and the rest.

Magick (though I says it as shouldn't) gives a very full and elaborate account of this Memory, and Liber CMXIII (Thisarb) a sound Official Instruction on the two main methods of acquiring this faculty. (None of my writings, by the way, deal with the First Method; this is because I could never make any headway with it; none at all. F.'. Iehi Aour, on the other hand, was a wizard at it; he thought that some people could use that way, and others not: born so.

If it should happen that you have that faculty, and no gift at all for the other, it's just too bad; you'd better buzz off, and get another Holy Guru less one-legged.)

There are, however, as I find on reading over what I have written else- where, quite a few lacunae in the exposition; and I may as well now do my best to stop one or two obvious gaps.

The period of my life which was the climax of my work on this subject is those weeks of Thaumaturgy on the Hudson River—I fear the Magical Diary The Hermit of Aesopus Island is irretrievably lost—when I was shown the Codex of the Tao Teh King from which my (still unpublished) translation is taken, and when the veil was no more than a shimmering, scintillating gossamer, translucent to the ineffable glory that glows behind it. For in those weeks I was able to remember and record a really considerable number of past lives. (I half believe, and hope, that the relevant passages were copied into one of my Cefalu diaries; but who will struggle through those still extant on the chance?)

"But what about the intervals?" you ask, Shabash! Rem acu tetigisti.1

It strikes me with immense and poignant power a right shrewd blow—what of the other side? What of the periods between successive incarnations?

Let us look back for a moment to Little Essays Toward Truth and see what it says about the Fabric of a man. (No, I'm not dodging your query: I'll get there in my own good time. Let a fellow breathe!) Nothing to our purpose, as your smiling shake of the head advises me. And yet—The theory is that the Supernal Triad constitutes (or, rather, is an image of) the "eternal" Essence of a man; that is, it is the positive expression of that ultimate "Point of View" which is and is not and neither is nor is not etc. Quite indestructible.

Now when a man spends his life (a) building up and developing the six Sephiroth of the Ruach so that they cohere closely in proper balance and relation, (b) in forging, developing and maintaining a link of steel between this solid Ruach and that Triad, Death merely means the dropping off of the Nephesch (Malkuth) so that the man takes over his instrument of Mind (Ruach) with him to his next suitably chosen vehicle. The tendency of the Ruach is of course to disintegrate more or less rapidly under the impact of its new experiences of after-death conditions.

(Hence the supposed Messages from the Mighty Dead, usually Wish-phantasms or outbreaks of the during-life-suppressed Subconscious, often very nasty. The "Medium" gets into communication with the "Shells of the Dead"—Qliphoth, the Qabalah calls them. A month or so, perhaps a year or so in the case of minds very solidly constructed or very passionately attached, and the Shells' "Messages" begin to be less and less coherent, more and more fragmentary, more murderously modified by the experiences it has met in its aimless wanderings. Soon it is altogether broken up, and no more is heard of it.)

It is therefore of the very first importance to train the mind in every possible way, and to bind it to the Higher Principles by steady, by con- stant, by flaming Aspiration, fortified by the sternest discipline, and by continuously reformulated Oaths.

Such a man will be fully occupied after his death with the unremitting search for his new instrument; he will brush aside—as he has made a habit of doing during life—the innumerable lures of "Reward" and the like. (I am not going to ask you to waste any time on the fantastic fairy tales of Devachan, Kama Loka and the rest; this must come up if you want to know about Paccheka-Buddhas, Skooshoks, the Brahma-lokas and so on—but not now, please!)

There is one Oath more important than all the rest put together, from the point of view of the A.'. A.'. You swear to refuse all the "rewards," to acquire your new vehicle without a moment's delay, so that you may carry on your work of helping Mankind with the minimum of interruption. Like all true Magical Oaths, it is certain of success.

So then we have a man not only very well prepared to reincarnate at once—this means about six months after his death, for his vehicle will be a foetus about three months old, but to extirpate more deliberately all impressions that may assail its integrity.

Alternatively, there may be something in the nature of such impressions that is unsuitable for carrying over into the conscious mind of the new man. Or there may be a rule—e.g. the draught of the waters of the River Lethe—and it might be possible for some Adept (whose initiation is of a higher degree than, or of a different type to, mine) to make his way through that particular barrier.

Enough of may, might, perhaps, and all that harpy brood! The plain fact is that I remember nothing at all of any Post Mortem experiences, and I have never known anyone else who does.

There is one exception. I do remember the _first_, almost momentary, reaction. I am in my Astral Form, in my best Sunday-go-to-meeting Ceremonial Vestments, and with my Wand I seem to hold this raised, attaching great importance to the act—looking down upon the corpse, exactly as one does at the outset of an "Astral Journey" in one's days of learning how to do it.

I recall no impression at all made by this sight; neither regret nor relief nor even surprise.

But there is one intensely strong reaction—I fancy I have mentioned this already—when one first remembers one of one's deaths: "By Jove! that was a narrow squeak!"

What was it that one feared? I haven't the foggiest.

And that is what I had to tell you about the Magical Memory.

. . . . . . . .
No: just one point to go to sleep on: suppose two or more people claim simultaneously to have been Julius Caesar, or Shakespeare, or—oh! always one very great gun! Well, fifty or sixty years ago or more there was a regular vogue for this sort of thing, especially among women. It was usually Cleopatra or Mary Queen of Scots or Marie Antoinette: something regal and tragic preferred, but unsurpassable beauty the prime essential as one would expect.

Of the Mary Queen of Scots persuasion was old Lady Caithness, who seems moreover to have had a sense of humour into the bargain, for she gave a dinner-party in Paris to twelve other ladies, each of whom had also been the luckless victim of Henry VIII's failure to produce of his own loins a durable male succession. (His marriages were so many desperate efforts to save England from a second innings of the devastation of the Wars of the Roses, from which his father, who was not a miser, but a sound financier and economist, had rescued the country. You must understand this if English History is to be at all intelligible to you. The tragedy began with the early death of the Black Prince; the second blow, that of Henry V coupled with the futility of his son and the murder of Prince Edward at Tewkesbury.)

Well, that was a big laugh, of course; it tended to discredit the whole theory of Reincarnation.

Quite unnecessarily, if one looks a little deeper.

What do I mean when I say that I think I was Eliphaz Lévi? No more than that I possess some of his most essential characteristics, and that some of the incidents in his life are remembered by me as my own. There doesn't seem any impossibility about these bundles of Sankhara being shared by two or more persons. We certainly do not know enough of what actually takes place to speak positively on any such point. Don't lose any sleep over it.

Love is the law, love under will.

Yours fraternally,




1: Lat., "You've hit the nail on the head" (lit. "touched the matter with a pin."
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