Tag Archives: Thelema

Aleister Crowley’s Use of Ritual and Drama

The Art of the Law: Aleister Crowley’s Use of Ritual and Drama


Justin Scott Van Kleeck


            Although Aleister Crowley  (1875-1947) has been the subject of numerous biographies, criticisms, and works of homage, his legacy has largely been defined by his personality.  This fact is, of course, no surprise.  Calling himself the “Beast 666” and labeled the “Wickedest Man in the World,” Crowley vociferously proclaimed a “new Law” of liberation and human empowerment (Thelema, Gk. “will”; Crowley’s “Do what thou wilt”) that required throwing most social and moral conventions to the wind. Those writers who try to “explain” the Beast and his Law often feel compelled to defend or to deride his lifestyle and his magical system based on their own acceptance of occult doctrines.  Kenneth Grant and Hymenaeus Beta, both occult practitioners and Crowley editors, exemplify the sympathetic camp, while John Symonds, also a Crowley editor, speaks for the critical camp.  Caught in the shadow of the Beast, these writers and the wide body of Crowley readers have greatly overlooked the other side of his career: his prolific work as a poet, playwright, artist, and essayist.  J. F. C. Fuller’s The Star in the West, Charles R. Cammell’s Aleister Crowley: The Man, the Mage, the Poet, and J. F. Brown’s “Aleister Crowley’s Rites of Eleusis” are notable exceptions in their treatment of Crowley’s writings.  However, they often tend toward panegyric (Fuller, later a disciple of Crowley’s) or negative judgment (Cammell, his friend late in life) of Crowley the man as well.  As a result of Crowley’s cultic status and, admittedly, his almost nugatory influence on later literature, his artistic techniques have gone mostly uninvestigated, both on their own and in relation to his magical/prophetic efforts. 

When Crowley states that “All Art is Magick,” he essentially defines the aesthetic sentiments lying at the core of his system of magic.1  Thus, the body of Crowley’s writings provides an equal wealth of material for those interested in esoteric traditions, cultural studies, and literary criticism—not to mention psychology.  A particularly important development in Crowley’s overall work is his marriage of “traditional” ritual and drama; by drama, I refer to plays blending scripted action with poetry, music, dances, and so forth, usually intended for performance.  After taking part in magic rituals as a member of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn and writing occult-influenced dramas, Crowley eventually came to see the usefulness of integrating the two genres or forms more explicitly as a means of personal work and of communicating his message—of preaching the Law and teaching magical wisdom.  Although The Rites of Eleusis is the only theatrical production of what he came to call “dramatic ritual” aimed at the general public, this mixed method permeates much of his subsequent theory and practice.  By combining the two genres into a single “dramatic ritual,” Crowley sought to create the enthusiasm necessary for magic—which drama did most effectively for nearly all personality types—and, through that liberated ecstasy, to prove the validity of Thelemic principles.




The relationship between ritual, myth, and drama was not a new topic in the Victorian England of Crowley’s adolescence, even in the banal circles of scholarship and literature not attached to occult groups like H. P. Blavatsky’s Theosophical Society and the Golden Dawn.  The most significant work of this time is J. G. Frazer’s The Golden Bough, which first appeared in two volumes in1890 and, over the course of more than twenty years, grew to twelve in its third edition (1911-5).  Frazer’s work on magic, myth, and ritual is a watershed in the study of mythology and society, filled with countless examples of ritual actions, taboos, and cultural practices from around the world.  He specifically articulated the importance of seasonal and vegetative cycles, which diverse cultures had “celebrated with dramatic rites” since the origins of society.2  Frazer is well aware of the sympathy that myth and magic have with drama, for he continues, “But if the celebration was in form dramatic, it was in substance [and desired effect] magical.”3  The Golden Bough brought to the fore such prominent mythological concepts as the “Dying God” (used by Eliot in The Waste Land) and the “Corn-Spirit.”  Crowley certainly knew Frazer’s work intimately: not only does he quote Frazer in the opening of Magick part III and persistently use the dying-god myth, but he also launched an attack on Christian orthodoxy based on Frazer in The Gospel According to Bernard Shaw (collected for The Equinox III.2 in 1919 but unpublished until 1974 in Francis King’s Crowley on Christ4).  Crowley also wrote a collection of short stories based on The Golden Bough entitled Golden Twigs (several of which were published in 1917-8; the entire collection was first published in 1988).  Further, his play “The God-Eater” (1903) may be a nod toward Frazer’s chapter on “Eating the God,” and he may have drawn partly on Frazer when promising to “choose” and “test” and “instruct” the world in “the Mysteries of Eleusis” in his scathing essay “Eleusis.”5 

The Golden Bough also influenced the Cambridge Ritualists—Jane Harrison, Gilbert Murray, Francis Cornford, and Arthur Cook.  This group of scholars further developed the study of ancient ritual and its intimate tie to drama (specifically in Greece) in the first two decades of the twentieth century.  Jane Harrison’s Ancient Art and Ritual, in which she claims that art and ritual “have a common root, and that neither can be understood without the other,” is a good example of the group’s interests.6  Harrison also states, “It is at the outset one and the same principle that sends a man to church and to the theatre.”  As we shall see, Crowley expressed and developed nearly the same view and during the same time, the first two decades of the twentieth century, though he does not specifically cite any of the Cambridge Ritualists.  The social context of Crowley’s early years, then, was one in which ritual and drama were by no means occult, hidden subjects of debate.




Despite this rich scholarly context, the roots of Crowley’s approach to dramatic ritual ultimately lie in his experience with the Golden Dawn, into which he was initiated on 18 November 1898.  Briefly stated, the Golden Dawn was (and is) an occult group with ties to Freemasonry, H. P. Blavatsky’s Theosophical Society, and other similar groups active in the mid nineteenth-century.  Unlike Blavatsky’s group, the Golden Dawn was largely western in its magical inclinations: Christianity, Rosicrucianism, Freemasonry, and alchemy shaped much of its teachings, though blended with Egyptian and (originally) Jewish Qabalistic elements.  The group initiation rituals that the Golden Dawn employed were particularly crucial to shaping the principles of its members.  Besides Crowley, W. B. Yeats drew heavily on Golden Dawn knowledge in his poetry and plays, though with far-different goals than the Beast came to do.7  Also, interestingly enough, Samuel Lidell MacGregor Mathers, long-time head of the Order, put on his own “drama” in March 1899 called the Rite of Isis.  The show involved recitations from the Egyptian Book of the Dead and a dance to invoke the goddess.8  Thanks to Crowley breaking his oath and publishing the Golden Dawn rituals in his journal The Equinox (Vol. I, Nos. 2 and 3), as I will discuss further below, we can see just how theatrical the Golden Dawn initiation ceremonies were.9  For instance, the initiation ritual for the first grade of Neophyte, one of if not the most important of the rituals, incorporates props and scenery (banners, scepters, lighting, etc.), characters (various officers like Hierophant and Kerux), and scripted dialogue and actions that instruct, purify, and initiate the candidate.10  Some essential elements of this ritual that later appear in Crowley’s own works—ritualistic and dramatic—include the initial purification of the temple, officers/actors explaining the symbolic meanings of their roles, and a “rebirth” of the candidate as he/she is given a new magical name and brought closer to the “Light” of the “Higher Self.”11  Missing from these rites, however, were poetry (the speeches were prose of the headiest “occult wisdom”), music, and a general exploitation of more familiar dramatic conventions.  Still, it is clear that Crowley felt the impact that these rituals had, for he would venture on in his way to “search for the Quintessence; the Stone of the Philosophers; the true Wisdom and Perfect Happiness, and the Summum Bonum” alluded to at the closing of the Neophyte ritual.12 

But for Crowley, that search would also take on a public dimension that both flew in the face of occult rules of secrecy and made him the simultaneously famous and infamous representative of modern magic.  The event: Crowley’s “reception” of The Book of the Law; the result: Crowley turning from lone magician to prophet of Thelema, the Beast 666.13  The details surrounding this event are too complex to discuss fully here, but the basic information can be summed up as follows.14  According to Crowley, The Book of the Law was delivered to him by a being named Aiwass or Aiwaz on 8, 9, and 10 April 1904 in Cairo.  The three chapters of the work are the dictated speeches of three (symbolic?) Egyptian deities: Nuit (infinite space), Hadit (the central point of each individual self), and Ra-Hoor-Khuit (or Horus, their “Crowned and Conquering Child” who is the lord of the New Aeon, a sort of “spirit of the age” symbolizing creative energy).15 




While questions of authorship, validity, and so forth inevitably come up with regards to The Book of the Law, I want to focus on the role Crowley believed he had been given and the central doctrines that he was compelled to teach.  Nuit names the chief officer of Thelema “the chosen priest & apostle of infinite space […] the prince-priest the Beast,” who is accompanied by his consort “the Scarlet Woman”; later, in verse 32 and subsequent chapters, the Beast is specifically called “prophet.”16  Like any good prophet, the Beast (Crowley) needs a message to prophesy.  Thus, Nuit gives him “The word of the Law,” Thelema, and explains that it means liberation under the aegis of true Will: “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law,” for “The word of Sin is Restriction.”17  Moral, sexual, and social freedom to be what you truly are is humanity’s new raison d’etre, though with a maintained respect of others as equally independent and free beings.  Also like any good prophet, the Beast has a task set upon him by the god(s) for whom he speaks: “He must teach” the new arts of magic in accord with the new Law, which are laid out in each chapter by the particular god.18  But Nuit gives one crucial statement about those rituals, the Law, and the Beast’s task: “the rituals shall be half known and half concealed: the Law is for all.”19  That is, Crowley was not chosen to hide the Law of Thelema within a tiny group of initiates only; he was, by express order of the gods, to promulgate the Law to all of humanity in “half concealed” rituals, to free them from “Sin” in accordance with the rule of the liberated child ruling the world.  The only stipulation was that each individual had to pass through the various “ordeals” that would prove their rejection of the old law and bring them to know their true will.20  This is an important point, especially when we see the shocking amoral and violent content of chapters II and III—“Therefore strike hard & low, and to hell with them, master!”21  To find freedom, to come into the realm of the gods (i.e., humans become gods), each individual had to actually work through the difficult process of finding his/her true will through the necessary ordeals.  These ordeals (of initiation) were the responsibility of the Beast.

Fulfilling this prophetic task eventually became, for Crowley, a twofold endeavor.  First, as he had been told in the days leading up to The Book of the Law, the Golden Dawn was “to be destroyed, i.e., publish its history & its papers.”22  But as an initiated member of the Order, he knew that “The slightest breach of my oath meant that I should incur ‘a deadly and hostile current of will, set in motion by the Greatly Honoured Chiefs of the Second Order, by which I should fall slain or paralysed, as if blasted by the lightning flash.’”23  Luckily for Crowley, the Secret Chiefs “released me from my obligation of secrecy” and, partly because of his “literary ability,” made his “chief duty […] to publish the Secret Wisdom of the Ages.”24  Crowley thus set about publishing the grade rituals and other important papers in The Equinox in 1909, though he had to first undergo and ultimately win a lawsuit by Mathers to halt publication.  Added to the earlier schism in the Golden Dawn, the publication of its secrets was a serious blow to its operations at the time. 




The second part of Crowley’s task was to teach.  But what, exactly, would the Beast teach to humanity?  Asking himself this question in a series of meditation/visionary exercises in early 1906, Crowley discovered the answer: “THE KNOWLEDGE AND CONVERSATION OF THE HOLY GUARDIAN ANGEL.”25  The “Holy Guardian Angel,” a term for the higher self used by the Golden Dawn (and taken from The Sacred Book of Abramelin the Mage as translated by Mathers c. 1898), is essentially the true self of every individual.  It is only by “conversing” with that self that a person can know his/her true will.  Thus, in order for a person to “Do what thou wilt” in accordance with the Law of Thelema, he/she had to first discover his/her true will by conversing with his/her Holy Guardian Angel—which was an act of magic, an ordeal.  However odd Crowley’s occult and spiritual terminology may be to skeptics and laypersons, his system of first finding the true will and then doing it is consistent.  And, lest we forget, it is a system open to all who are willing to embrace it and to work within it: “Every man and every woman is a star.”26

Having received the Law and its concomitant demands on him as the Beast, Crowley at first struggled with the shocking ethics that Ra-Hoor-Khuit brought with him.  In Confessions, Crowley recounts his difficult years of coming to terms with The Book of the Law and how he “tried to forget the whole business.”27  Besides the harshness of Thelemic ethics to stubborn “non-believers,” Crowley could not accept the idea of opening up the secret wisdom to the world at large: “I was still obsessed by the idea that secrecy was necessary to a magical document, that publication would destroy its importance.”28  Thus, he determined to publish it out of pure spite—except that “the manuscript had been lost!”29  Crowley’s complete conversion, his acceptance of the Law and of his role as prophet, came in 1909 with the “miraculous” (as he recounts it) rediscovery of the manuscript at his home in Scotland, after which point he dutifully began preaching the word in every way that he could.30  “I further resolved uphold the dignity of Magick by pressing into its service science and philosophy, as well as the noblest English that I could command, and to present it in such a form as would itself command respect and attention.”31  In September of that year, number one of The Equinox (1909-1913)—a variorum of occult poetry, plays, fiction, essays, teachings, etc.—came out to serve as his major vehicle for this endeavor.  The diversity of the contents, as Lawrence Sutin comments, reflected “Crowley’s view of magic [that] held that artistic expression was one measure—a fitting one—of true attainment.”32  However, Crowley also recognized that actual work, not just publishing on his end and reading/studying on the public’s end, was required for individuals to thus attain in their own ways.  Consequently, he co-founded and oversaw a new magical order, the Argenteum Astrum (“Silver Star” or A.A.), to initiate and instruct those who desired to “seek the light” of true freedom and true will.  But Crowley’s task was also a public one, we must remember, and closed-door societies were not enough for the prophet of the New Aeon.




It was during a ritual with other A.A. members to evoke the spirit Bartzabel on 9 May 1910 that Crowley realized firsthand the power and efficacy of looking beyond the conventions of traditional magic rituals.  Although the form of the ritual (published later in The Equinox I.9, pp. 117-36) is ostensibly conventional in its actions, symbolism, speeches, and multiple participants—following the pattern of Golden Dawn rituals—the content is unique.  Besides being updated to reflect the new Thelemic context for magic (now that he was the willing Beast, that is), Crowley remarks:

Here [in the use of a person as a “material basis” to evoke the spirit] was a startling innovation in tradition.  I wrote, moreover, a ritual on entirely new principles.  I retained the Cabbalistic names and formulae, but wrote most of the invocation in poetry.  The idea was to work up the magical enthusiasm through the exhilaration induced by music.33

The success of this ritual in manifesting the spirit and “conversing” with it for divinatory purposes proved to Crowley that turning to other artistic forms could add to a magical working by stirring the “magical enthusiasm” necessary to success.  As he would later write, “There is no more potent means than Art of calling forth true Gods to visible appearance.34 

Crowley’s insight coming from the Bartzabel ritual and his resulting innovation led to further technical development—and thoughts of actually staging, as a sort of play, a ritual in order to create a group “enthusiasm” later in 1910.  Indeed, he wrote a ritual for public performance to invoke the moon that involved a violinist—Leila Waddell, a member of the A.A. and Crowley’s lover—and poetry written for the occasion.  The event, with tickets and all, took place in August.  As Francis King describes (paraphrasing the account by Ethel Archer, an attendant and friend of Crowley’s), Crowley used tried-and-true staging techniques like lighting effects, curtains/veils, and costumes along with the music, poetry, and dancing.35  Further, in a shrewd move to help include the audience, the attendants “sat on cushions scattered around the circumference of the room, all its usual furniture having been removed.”36  Apparently, Crowley’s new methods were not based on unsound opinions, as an attendant from the Sketch testifies: “We were thrilled to our very bones. […] in very deed most of us experienced that ecstasy which Crowley so earnestly seeks.”37  The writer may not “understand the ritual that runs like a thread through these meetings of the A.·. A.·.,” but he admits “that the whole ceremony was impressive” and “artistic.”  We should note, of course, that the audience and performers partook of a “Cup of Libation” containing alcohol, fruit juice, and likely peyote beforehand—all in accord with Thelemic principles.38  Regardless, and as the Sketch review supports, it was apparent that magic rituals, presented in particular ways, in theatrical ways, could affect more than just the participants within the circle.  They could initiate the audience, as it were.  For Crowley, toiling to spread the Law and to liberate humanity from self-imposed restrictions, the ability to create such an extended effect was obviously astounding.




            In the wake of these experiences and their apparent public and private success, Crowley seems to have been struck in his magical, artistic, and prophetic senses, for he soon began to marry ritual and drama very deliberately.  He created “new methods of Magick.”39  The culmination of Crowley’s theatrical approach to magic, in terms of staged dramatic rituals for the general public, is The Rites of Eleusis.  The Rites consist of seven rituals—six original and the seventh derived from the ritual put on in August—following Crowley’s new method of ritual composition.  This method, he explains, was based on the ancient custom of invoking gods “by a dramatic presentation or commemoration of their legends” that he had “brought up to date” and supplemented with passages “whose sublimity would help to arouse the necessary enthusiasm.”40  And, brimming with optimism after the August staging, Crowley put the on the Rites for a general audience in Caxton Hall over the course of seven Wednesdays in October-November 1910.  First, in respect to their formal techniques, Crowley again blended conventional ritual with other artistic forms for effect.  Thus, hearkening back to Golden Dawn standards, in each ritual there is an opening “Banishing Ritual” to purify the workspace; speeches of (rather banal and even melodramatic) explanation and setting by the officers; props such as shrines and altars; and symbolic movements such as circumambulations.41  But there are also violin pieces by Waddell and composers such as Beethoven; dances by Victor Neuberg to “dance down” the gods; and a great deal of poetry by Crowley and a few passages from Swinburne.  Crowley seems to have placed a great emphasis on the aesthetic quality of the Rites, for he includes some of his most powerful and affective verse, such as this passage in “The Rite of Jupiter” taken from the song of Dionysus in his epic poem Orpheus:

For I am of force to shatter

   The cast that hideth—Pan!


I lead you, lord of the maze,

   In the darkness free of the sun;

In spite of the spite that is day’s

   We are wed, we are wild, we are one!42

Along with these artistic elements, the Rites also involve the audience as “the officers circumambulate the temple [in “The Rite of Saturn”] and the audience are [sic] picked at random, one by one, to join the procession, the last to do so being reminded, ‘Thou also must die!’”43  (Notably absent from the performance at Caxton Hall, for the audience at least, is the “Cup of Libation.”)  That is, they are—in content, if not in quality—much like a play.  Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, for instance, incorporates prose, verse, and a dance at the end, and may have thus used music as well; T. S. Eliot’s Sweeney Agonistes, a more modern example, includes verse and songs usually accompanied with music when staged.




J. F. Brown is one of the few critics to make a close examination of the Rites in dramatic terms, including the relationship between art and ritual, how Crowley approached “a theatre of altered consciousness,” and in the similarity between Crowley’s staging and that of Symbolist drama.44  When he remarks, “Crowley felt his drama also must have a myth, to serve as the vehicle of initiation,” he points out the second element of the Rites: their instructional intent and content.45  Crowley gives a useful summary of the cognitive framework—not particularly lucid in the rituals themselves—behind what Crowley calls “seven acts of one play”:

Man, unable to solve the Riddle of Existence, takes counsel of Saturn, extreme old age.  Such answers as he can get is the one word “Despair”.

Is there more hope in the dignity and wisdom of Jupiter?  No; for the noble senior lacks the vigour of Mars the warrior.  Counsel is in vain without determination to carry it out.

Mars, thus invoked, is indeed capable of victory: but he has already lost the controlled wisdom of age; in a moment of conquest he wastes the fruits of it, in the arms of luxury.

It is through this weakness that the perfected man, the Sun, is of dual nature, and his evil twin slays him in his glory. […] and who shall mourn him but his Mother Nature, Venus, the lady of love and sorrow[?] […]

But even Venus owes all her charm to the swift messenger of the gods, Mercury, the joyous and ambiguous boy whose tricks first scandalize and then delight Olympus.

But Mercury, too, is found wanting.  Now in him alone is the secret cure for all the woe of the human race.  Swift as ever, he passes, and gives place to the youngest of the gods, to the Virginal Moon.


But Artemis is still barren of hope until the spirit of the Infinite All, great Pan, tears asunder the veil and displays the hope of humanity, the Crowned Child of the Future.46

When we read Crowley’s summary and the Rites themselves, it is at first obvious that these rituals have virtually nothing to do with accounts of the Greek Rites of Eleusis based on the myth of Demeter and Persephone.47  Still, Crowley’s modern version is not completely disconnected from its classical namesake.  The original Mysteries were rites of initiation, and they answered a “riddle” (in the revelation of vegetative cycles as symbolic of personal rebirth), like Crowley’s Rites.  Also, we should recall Crowley’s reference to the Mysteries as part of his teaching and instructing in his essay “Eleusis,” which shows that he (like virtually every occultist) connected initiation with a tradition of which the Eleusinian Mysteries were a part.  And he likely expected his audience to do the same.  This fact speaks to the importance of the underlying “myth” of Crowley’s Thelemic system as they appear in his Rites.  What we have is a revelation/initiation progressing from a god of death (the “Dying God” and empty shrine of the previous aeon) to a “death” of the lower self (the crucifixion) to a descent of “occult” wisdom (Mercury) and at last to the enthronement of a “Crowned Child” (cp. Ra-Hoor-Khuit).48  And, in the ultimate Thelemic move, that child is barren and virginal until the earthly, lusty, libidinous Pan asks, “Of what worth is the gold in the mine?” and finally tears down the veil—removing the hiding “restriction” of the old law to show forth the naked, available youthful energy of the new Law.49  The importance of this act to the “initiation” of humanity into its new (rightful) place of “divinity” is particularly clear in Pan’s song to Luna at the conclusion of the Rite just before he tears down the veil:




            O virgin in armour

                 Thine arrows unsling

            In the brilliant resilient

                 First rays of the spring!

            No Godhead could charm her,

                 But manhood awoke—

            O fiery Valkyrie,

                 I invoke, I invoke!50

The final vision of the Rites is of powerless gods replaced by empowered “manhood,” with Pan bridging the gap between the virginal goddess and the earthly participants in the Rite by his song and his removal of the obscuring veil.

Unfortunately for Crowley, the Rites, as a prophetic and artistic event, were almost a complete flop.  Even Crowley, not known for his humility, admits that they failed, but for telling reasons: “I diminished the importance of the dramatic elements; the dialogue and action were little more than a setting for the soloists.”51  Although he goes on to blame the surroundings and his refusal to “condescend to theatricalism,” it is interesting that he locates the problems in the ineffective artistry, not the basic method and message of the work.52  Indeed, despite a slew of biting reviews in papers like The Looking Glass (which also made innuendoes of sexual misconduct), Crowley deems the dramatic-ritual technique “a stupendous idea.”53  Thus, when Brown says that “Crowley the playwright came into conflict with Crowley the magician,” he is not far off the mark.54  As the Rites show, and as Sutin intelligently articulates, Crowley avoided overt Thelemic language and “conveyed the teachings of Thelema without expressly announcing the Book [of the Law] or his vocation as its prophet.  In this sense, Crowley was most cautious in his approach to his intended public.”55  Again, initiation and ordeals are important here: Crowley certainly dramatized the teachings in a veiled manner in the hope that the effect would serve as ecstatic propaganda to bring more “uninitiated” candidates to him for initiation and further teaching.  With their bones still thrilling, the audience might surely desire to know and experience more.  Whatever their theatricality, or lack thereof, the Rites were certainly intended to be a part of Crowley’s task as the prophet of Thelema.

Despite Crowley’s caution with the Rites and his failed proselytizing via the theatre, when critics treat the Rites as a mere episode in a beastly life or, like Brown, leave them as an embarrassing exhibition by “a bad 19th-century romantic poet,” they impose a sense of utter failure on Crowley’s work with dramatic rituals.56  In fact, Crowley clearly took the “stupendous idea” of the mixed-genre method he used in the dramatic-ritualistic Rites and made it a fundamental principle in his subsequent work as a poet/playwright and a magician—though generally aimed at a more sympathetic and initiated audience.57  With respect to his plays published after 1910, there is a striking new integration of ritual form, best exemplified by Adonis: An Allegory and The Ship: A Mystery Play (a Mystery!). 




Crowley identifies Adonis (published in The Equinox I.7, March 1912) as “a dramatic ritual in the modern style,” which is interesting for tying drama and ritual together with contemporary movements in art.58  The play hearkens back to Frazer and his extended treatment of the myth and rituals of Adonis as a dying vegetation god.  It also incorporates some important thematic elements of Crowley’s Rites, though the ritual aspect is not as overt in this more traditional play.  The plot of Adonis involves Adonis (at first named Esarhaddon) having forgotten his “divinity” and his true wife Psyche because of the seduction of Astarte.  That is, as Crowley explains in the later Argument, “Esharaddon is a man ignorant of his high destiny, lost in love of the body (Astarte) […].  The soul (Psyche) appeals to him in vain, but awakes his dread of the King of Babylon (the material plane), who is Death.”59  This part of the storyline seems to be very close to the “Riddle of Existence” and “Despair” of Saturn in the Rites, the wasted vigor of Mars in the arms of Venus, and to the subjection/death of the perfected man because of his dual nature respectively.  Further, just as in the Rites, Hermes (Mercury) plays an integral role in Adonis as a Greek physician and magician who, as “the wisdom of God, leads the man to recollection of his true nature.”60  As Hermes promises in the play, “as from eclipse the sun’s / Supernal splendour springs, [Adonis’s] sight / Shall leap to light” if Psyche follows his instructions.61  And, when at last Adonis awakens from his amnesiac state, he is aware of his spiritual power—but far from chaste or otherworldly!  He sings to Psyche, “I am myself, knowing I am thou,” and this “Truth […] / […] / Sets the God within the shrine / And my mouth on thine, on thine.”62  And much like Crowley has the earthly Pan tear down the veil of chaste Artemis/Luna in the Rites, Adonis and Psyche embrace rather than reject Astarte at Psyche’s insistence: “We need thee / To serve us.”63  Adonis, then, incorporates a cyclic “death” and rebirth, as in ancient rituals explained by Frazer, as its dramatic vehicle, though Crowley focuses much more on the triumphant rebirth and creative-life elements of that cycle.  But it is also very close in plot and theme—liberated, spiritual, and initiated love that regenerates the material nature of humanity—to Crowley’s Rites and his essential Thelemic message.

The Ship (published in The Equinox I.10, September 1913) is a second example of Crowley’s dramatic-ritual technique as applied to plays rather than magic rituals.  The Ship, “a magical ritual in dramatic form, commemorating the return of Spring,” is almost stunningly ritualistic in form; when reading it, one actually gets the sense of a magical working rather than a play.64  It is clearly a dramatic rendering of traditional ritual, using all of the Golden Dawn standards.  To point out some of the most noticeable instances, the characters are all robed; the set includes symbolic scenery and veils; and the characters all use secret signs and words.65  Even closer to the form of the Rites, The Ship is in rhymed couplets and includes dances and music played by the character Julia.66  Also like the Rites, the crux of The Ship is the “crucifixion” of the key male character John, the ritual death from which he is reborn as “the youth John […] dressed in the crown and robes of his father.”67  Further, this child, reinvigorating the trappings of his father as “the author of the aeon,” is reborn after being carried in the ark of the “Moon of our love, most wondrous womb.”68  With the emergence of the child, as with the return of spring, a lifeless shrine becomes fruitful with “corn” and “wine.”69




It is surprising and important that the plot of The Ship, written by the Beast 666, is disturbingly Christian in its finale, with loaded references to “I am that I am” and “the Father” and “Son” and “Holy Spirit.”70  But Crowley’s use of this language is appropriate in two ways.  First, The Ship is his expression “in dramatic form” “of the central mystery of freemasonry,” and freemasonry is essentially a Christian movement.71  Second, Crowley often adopts Christian language in an ironic fashion, as is surely the case here in his drama of the return of spring.  By tying the Christ myth to the ancient vegetation-god myth, Crowley seeks to expose the former as a version of the latter (much like Frazer’s evidence tacitly does).  And, truth be told, Crowley never escaped the Christianity of his youth, no matter how hard he tried to rebel against it; it appears constantly in his artistic and other writings.  Combining all of these elements, The Ship is a strikingly ritualistic drama—or dramatic ritual—that exemplifies Crowley’s post-Rites approach to magic.  At the same time, like Adonis, it also exemplifies how this approach was harmonious with his prophetic task, for it expresses some of the key principles of Thelema: passing through an initiating ordeal or ritual “death” to be reborn as the perfected child of creative energy. 

Alongside these more artistic endeavors after 1910, Crowley also continued to follow the technique he used in the Rites by marrying ritual and drama in his strictly (in intention) magical rituals, both for individual and group work.  Liber XLIV: The Mass of the Phoenix, first published in 1913 as part of Crowley’s The Book of Lies, is a Thelemic ritual again celebrating the renewal of the perfected individual after consuming his/her own material nature—the mythical phoenix rising from its own ashes.72  What is worth noting in this ritual is that, along with the use of signs, magical instruments, and even a bell, Crowley sets the speech in rhymed couplets.  “There is no grace: there is no guilt: / This is the Law: Do What Thou Wilt!” the magician states; then, after striking the bell eleven times for emphasis, he/she cries “I entered in with woe; with mirth / I now go forth, and with thanksgiving, / To do my pleasure on the earth.”73  Liber V vel Reguli, written c. 1921, uses other, more dramatic forms in a different way.74  This ritual, an interesting Thelemic adaptation of older Golden Dawn rituals, includes a “Spiral Dance” to arouse the enthusiasm of the magician, though it “may be omitted” depending on the aim of the working.75  Liber V is also significant because Crowley originally used it for group working at his Abbey of Thelema in Cefàlu, Sicily, later applying it to individual work as well.76  In The Mass of the Phoenix and Liber V, then, we see Crowley continuing to mix genres/forms in his magic—ritual and poetry in the former, ritual and dancing in the latter—in accordance with his belief in the efficacy of that approach and its usefulness in a Thelemic system of magic.




Probably the most outstanding dramatic ritual that Crowley ever composed is Liber XV. O.T.O. Ecclesiæ Gnosticæ Catholicæ Canon Missæ or the “Gnostic Catholic Mass,” written in 1913 and first published in 1918.  Crowley wrote the Gnostic Catholic Mass after he became involved with (and later headed) the Ordo Templi Orientis (O.T.O.), a magical Order that is much more communal in its workings than was Crowley’s A.A.  Further, Crowley directed the majority of his energies to the O.T.O. after 1912 as he grew more convinced of the powers of sexual magic, which the O.T.O. practiced.77 

This new shift in Crowley’s magical direction is crucial to his later work and reputation (as a drug-crazed sexomaniac), so a little background for the Gnostic Catholic Mass may be helpful here.  As Crowley recounts in his Confessions, he was put in charge of rewriting the rituals of the O.T.O., which he calls “dramatically worthless” when naming their faults.78  But, to Crowley, the heart of the Order’s teachings was of great value, and (with a little revision) harmonious with Thelema.  The Gnostic Catholic Mass is just one of the many O.T.O. rituals that Crowley wrote in the years after he took over the order (under the name Baphomet), and it is still performed by various O.T.O. offshoots.  Crowley speaks to the communal nature of the Gnostic Catholic Mass, a ceremony to satisfy “the religious instinct,” and explains that in it he aimed “to construct a ritual through which people might enter into ecstasy as they have always done under the influence of appropriate ritual.”79  Much like its orthodox Catholic counterpart, even including a sacrament of wine and “Cakes of Light,” the Gnostic Catholic Mass is truly remarkable even on paper with the elaborate decorations of the temple, the rich attire of the participants, the accompanying music, and the multi-lingual speeches and aves punctuating the ceremony.80  However, Crowley incorporates verse at key points in the ritual, such as during the “Consecration of the Elements” (section VI) when the priest makes the blessing/transubstantiation of the Cakes (“By the virtue of the Rod / Be this bread the Body of God!”) and the wine (“By the virtue of the Rod / Be this wine the Blood of God!”).81  And for the poetic “Anthem” that closes the ceremony in a flourish of poetic exaltation, Crowley used the final lines of his play The Ship, that dramatic ritual celebrating the return of spring and the creative rebirth of life.  The Gnostic Catholic Mass thus seems to serve as the success that Crowley sought but failed to find in The Rites of Eleusis.  It is his grandest work of dramatic ritual, a ceremony of community in which the officiating “actors” lead the audience through a musical and poetic experience to equally induce and celebrate the ecstasy of liberated life—of life under the Law of Thelema, whose yoke, Crowley proclaims, is hard won but light.




One final example of Crowley’s use of ritual and drama in terms of magical work worth looking at is his Magick, an encyclopedia of occultism that is impressive in its scope and depth.  The book consists of four parts: “Mysticism,” “Magick (Elementary Theory),” “Magick in Theory and Practice,” and “ΘΕΛΗΜΑ: The Law” (which includes the text of The Book of the Law).  Part III is of particular interest here, for in it Crowley first lays out his definition of “MAGICK” as “the Science and Art of causing Change to occur in conformity with Will” and then gives its theoretical and practical principles.82  Now, Crowley began writing part III with Leila Waddell (the violinist in the Rites) as amanuensis c. 1912, he advertised it in 1913 in The Equinox, he made the first typescript of it in 1921 while at his Abbey, and he finally published it in 1929-30.83  As we can see, Crowley’s work on this part of Magick began shortly after his staging of the Rites and coincided with his involvement with the O.T.O.  Thus, in writing his Thelemic-magical “textbook” for the world of interested students of the Mysteries, Crowley codifies the theories of dramatic ritual that he had been practicing since 1910.  In chapter 1, “The Principles of Ritual,” he defines “the object of all magical ritual” as “the uniting of the Microcosm with the Macrocosm.  The Supreme and Complete Ritual is therefore the Invocation of the Holy Guardian Angel.84  That is, the ultimate aim of all proper rituals is the very thing that he made it his task to teach in the wake of The Book of the Law.  Also in this chapter, he gives the “Third Method” of invoking a deity as “the dramatic, perhaps the most attractive of all” in its ability to create “sympathy” (i.e., identity) with the deity.85  Besides his equation of art with magic quoted above (from chapter 10, “Of the Gestures”), Crowley devotes chapter 19 to “Dramatic Rituals.”  Here, he again speaks to the force obtained from harmonious group work (which dramatic rituals best provide), the necessity of a “well-skilled poet” to compose the “story,” a ritual climax, and then a final “impromptu” that has as its “most satisfactory form” a dance.86  Although this chapter is only two pages long, it is a virtual summary of the principles that Crowley had developed, practiced, and found successful since 1910.  Clearly, if he feels confident enough to make the married dramatic-ritual technique that we have been examining part of his most scientific, delineated, and serious treatment of magic, then he must have been convinced that the singular failure of the Rites did not nullify his “stupendous idea.”  Indeed, he seems to have been otherwise convinced of its efficacy for the remainder of his life: he continued to write, act, and publish as poet, magician, prophet, and Beast.




 Whether or not one accepts Crowley’s system of Thelemic Magick, with its gods and doctrines of liberated ecstasy, or Crowley himself as the self-convinced prophet of a new Law, it is irrefutable that he was prolific in his efforts to operate in accordance with that system.  Moreover, he continued to work in the public’s often-critical eye as the Beast 666, engaging his talents as writer, magician, and eccentric in order to make the Law available to all.  Crowley was convinced that human perfection requires liberating the self from restriction and entering a state of child-like energy, and that such perfected energy was in its essence ecstatic and artistic.  Consequently, he developed and applied a technique of dramatic ritual, almost a genre in itself, which married all the conventions of magic and all the conventions of drama in order to unite the microcosm and the macrocosm, the higher and the lower self, through an experience engaging all of the faculties.  Through his early success with his dramatic-ritual form, his failure with the public Rites of Eleusis, and his continued reworking of his “new methods of Magick,” Crowley enacts his basic prophetic creed that “All Art is Magick,” that all magic is liberating, and that liberation is the right of all humankind.


1 Aleister Crowley, with Mary Desti and Leila Waddell, Magick: Liber ABA.  Book Four.  Parts I-IV, ed. Hymanaeus Beta, rev. ed. (York Beach, Maine: Samuel Weiser, Inc., 1997) 197; Crowley’s boldface. 

2 James George Frazer, The Golden Bough, abridged ed. (New York: Collier Books-Macmillan Publishing Company, 1963) 448.


3 Ibid.  In addition to this mythical-magical relationship, Frazer also recognized the development and succession of science out of the “superstitions” of the past (see the final chapter of The Golden Bough, “Farewell to Nemi”).  Crowley presents a similar view with his system of “Scientific Illuminism,” mysticism practiced along scientific lines.




4 See Crowley, Magick 793 and 795. 

5 Aleister Crowley, “Eleusis,” The Collected Works of Aleister Crowley, vol. 3 (Foyers, UK: Society for the Propagation of Religious Truth, 1907; Des Plaines, Ill.: Yogi Publication Society, n.d.) 230. 

6 Qtd. in Robert Ackerman, The Myth and Ritual School: J. G. Frazer and the Cambridge Ritualists, Theorists of Myth, ed. Robert A. Segal (New York and London: Garland Publishing, Inc., 1991) 153. 

7 For instance, Yeats’s Rosa Alchemica contains a ritual climax relying heavily on the Golden Dawn.  However, Yeats’s works are not meant to be rituals themselves, nor do they support a system and cosmology, as Crowley’s do. 

8 See J. F. Brown, “Aleister Crowley’s Rites of Eleusis,” Drama Review 22.2 (1978): 11-2. 

9 See also Israel Regardie’s The Golden Dawn for a more complete edition of Golden Dawn rituals and teachings. 

10 See J. F. C. Fuller, with Allen Bennett, “The Temple of Solomon the King.  Part II,” The Equinox 1.2 (Sept. 1909), in vol. 1 (York Beach, Maine: Samuel Weiser, Inc., 1998) 244-61. 

11 Fuller 257 and passim. 

12 Ibid. 261. 

13 Originally titled Liber L. vel Legis, the title changed to Liber AL vel Legis c. 1919.  It is conventionally referred to by its English title, The Book of the Law.




14 See Aleister Crowley, The Confessions of Aleister Crowley, eds. John Symonds and Kenneth Grant, 2nd ed., (1929; London and New York: Arkana-Penguin Books, 1989), and Magick part IV, passim, for detailed discussions of the reception of The Book of the Law, the gods and beings it describes, and the principles of Thelema it contains. 

15 Crowley’s remark on the progression of human civilization underlying this cosmology evidences the importance of the Golden Dawn to his later work: “The Neophyte ceremony of the Golden Dawn prepared me for the New Aeon [of Ra-Hoor-Khuit]; for, at the Equinox, the officer who represented Horus in the West took the throne of Osiris [the “Dying God” of the previous aeon ending with The Book of the Law] in the East” (Crowley, Confessions 399). 

16 Aleister Crowley, “Liber L. vel Legis svb figura CCXX as delivered by LXXVIII vnto DCLXVI” [The Book of the Law], The Equinox 1.10 (Sept. 1913), in vol. 2 (York Beach, Maine: Samuel Weiser, Inc., 1998) I:15, p.12. 

17 Ibid. I:39, I:40, I:41, p.14. 

18 Ibid. I:38, p.14. 

19 Ibid. I.34, p. 14; emphasis added. 

20 Ibid. I:38, p.14 and passim. 

21 Ibid., II:60, p.23.  As I will discuss further below, Crowley was so troubled by this part of The Book of the Law that he shirked and even rejected his office as its prophet for many years; his final acceptance of it in 1909 is both significant and timely. 

22 Qtd. in Crowley, Magick xxxviii.




23 Crowley, Confessions 177. 

24 Ibid. 404. 

25 Qtd. in Crowley, Confessions 516. 

26 Crowley, The Book of the Law I:3, p.11. 

27 Crowley, Confessions 451. 

28 Ibid. 541. 

29 Ibid. 541-42. 

30 See ibid. 595-96. 

31 Ibid. 582. 

32 Lawrence Sutin, Do What Thou Wilt: A Life of Aleister Crowley, (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2000) 193. 

33 Crowley, Confessions 630; emphasis added.





34 Crowley, Magick 197; Crowley’s boldface. 

35 Francis King, The Magical World of Aleister Crowley (London: Wedenfield and Nicolson, 1977) 62-4. 

36 Ibid. 63. 

37 Qtd. in Crowley, Confessions 32.  The writer, Raymond Radclyffe, was “an admirer of Crowley’s poetry” (Sutin 210) but apparently not Crowley’s disciple. 

38 See Sutin 210 and King 63. 

39 Crowley, Confessions 632.




40 Ibid. 633.  Although Crowley bases this claim on the content of the “masonic rituals” he was using at the time, his opinion of ancient customs virtually echoes the entirety of Frazer’s The Golden Bough.  Jane Harrison’s works (Themis and Ancient Art and Ritual) and those of the other Cambridge Ritualists, published after the Rites were performed, also lend credence to Crowley’s statement. 

41 See Aleister Crowley, et al., “The Rites of Eleusis,” The Equinox I.6 (Sept. 1911), Special Supplement, in vol. 2 (York Beach, Maine: Samuel Weiser, Inc., 1998) p.5 and passim.  (My future references to poetry and plays from The Equinox will indicate page numbers, “p.,” as line numbers are not given.) 

42 Ibid. p.42. 

43 Crowley, Confessions 636-37. 

44 Brown 26, 12-3. 


45 Ibid. 12. 

46 Crowley, Confessions 635-36. 

47 See Frazer 456ff. for a discussion of the Greek Rites. 

48 See Crowley et al., The Rites of Eleusis pp.14 and passim. 

49 Ibid. p.120. 

50 Ibid. p. 124. 

51 Crowley, Confessions 636. 


52 Ibid. 637. 

53 Ibid. 638.  Crowley’s friend George Cecil Jones sued The Looking Glass for libel, as Crowley’s other acquaintances urged him to do, but lost the case (see ibid. 635 et al.). 

54 Brown 12. 

55 Sutin 210.  Some of the most direct references to Thelemic principles come in “The Rite of Mars,” with lines such as, “Crowned child and conquering Lord! / Horus, avenger!” (p.51); though not overt, the Thelemic system is still pervasive. 

56 Brown 26. 

57 For purely “secular” theatre, Crowley took Waddell and other women performers on tour in England and Russia as “The Ragged Ragtime Girls.”  See Crowley, Confessions 690 and 711, and Will Ryan, “The Great Beast in Russia: Aleister Crowley’s Theatrical Tour in 1913 and his Beastly Writings in Russia,” Symbolism and After: Essays on Russian Poetry in Honour of Georgette Donchin, ed. Arnold McMillin (London: Bristol Classical Press-Gerald Duckworth & Co. Ltd., 1992), passim. 


58 Crowley, Magick 450. 

59 Aleister Crowley, “Notes and Corrections,” The Equinox 1.10 (Sept. 1913), in vol. 2 (York Beach, Maine: Samuel Weiser, Inc., 1998) 30. 

60 Ibid. 

61 Aleister Crowley, “Adonis: An Allegory,” The Equinox I.7 (March 1912), in vol. 2 (York Beach, Maine: Samuel Weiser, Inc., 1998) p.147. 

62 Ibid. p.155. 

63 Ibid. p.156. 

64 Crowley, Magick 450.




65 Aleister Crowley, “The Ship: A Mystery Play,” The Equinox I.10 (Sept. 1913), in vol. 2 (York Beach, Maine: Samuel Weiser, Inc., 1998) pp.59-60, 61-3. 

66 See ibid. pp.70, 73-4. 

67 Ibid. pp.63, 75. 

68 Ibid. pp.76, 73. 

69 Ibid. p.77. 

70 Ibid. pp.76, 78. 


71 Crowley, Confessions 714. 

72 E.g., its “Cakes of Light” follow the recipe given in The Book of the Law III:24: “meal & honey & thick leavings of red wine: then oil of Abramelin and olive oil, and afterward soften & smooth down with rich fresh blood” (Crowley, The Book of the Law p.27). 

73 Aleister Crowley, “Liber XLIV: The Mass of the Phoenix,” in Magick (op. cit.) 572. 

74 See Crowley, Magick 772-73. 

75 Aleister Crowley, “Liber V vel Reguli,” in Magick (op. cit.) 575. 

76 See Crowley, Magick lxi. 

77 Although Crowley began announcing the O.T.O. as early as 1912 in The Equinox I.8 and again in I.9, he was reticent to reveal the “wisdom,” sexual in nature, which the Order taught and practiced.  Crowley offers tantalizing hints of the secrets in Confessions.  He states, “I am always ready to communicate them to inquiring Brothers” (706), and he admits that he could give them and appropriate rules “without doing much harm” (709), but he never does so.  Perhaps the efficacy of sexual magic, having impressed Crowley so deeply, and combined with the attacks on his character growing out of his staging of The Rites of Eleusis, led him to focus more on the “ordeals” and “half concealed” rituals of The Book of the Law as necessary preparations.  Whatever his motivations for this secrecy, Crowley continued to publish his magical works and to remain in the public sphere as the prophet of Thelema, preaching the Law to all, up until his death in 1947. 


78 Crowley, Confessions 701. 

79 Ibid. 714. 

80 See Aleister Crowley, “Liber XV: O.T. O. Ecclesiæ Gnosticæ Catholicæ Canon Missæ” [The Gnostic Catholic Mass], in Magick (op. cit.) 584, 593-94). 

81 Ibid. p.593; admittedly, these couplets are less than “ecstatic” poetry. 

82 Crowley, Magick 126; Crowley’s boldface hereafter unless otherwise noted. 


83 See ibid. 725-26. 

84 Ibid. 144. 

85 Ibid. 145, 147. 

86 Ibid. 265.


Liber Samekh: The Bornless One

Invocation of the Bornless One by Mega Therion

Liber Samekh

Annotated LIBER V vel REGULI

A.· . A.· . publication in Class D.
Being the Ritual of the Mark of the Beast:
an incantation proper to invoke the Energies of the Aeon of Horus,
adapted for the daily use of the Magician of whatever grade.

[The title is Latin and means Book 5 or Book of the Prince. Regulus
is also the name of the star which marks the beginning or 0 degree of
the constellation Leo.]

The Oath of the Enchantment, which is called The Elevenfold Seal.
The Animadversion towards the Aeon.
1. Let the Magician, robed and armed as he may deem to be fit, turn
his face towards Boleskine, that is the House of The Beast 666. {Note
1: Boleskine House is on Loch Ness, 17 miles from Inverness, Latitude
57.14 N. Longitude 4.28 W.}
[Note that this implies that the direction of Boleskine should be
taken as “East” in the temple, as is specified in Liber XV, the
Gnostic Mass. However it does not necessarily have to be so.
Since later the text specifies that the Magician must grasp his Wand,
the “robed and armed as he may deem to be fit” is not as wide-ranging
as it may sound.]
2. Let him strike the battery 1-3-3-3-1.
[Eleven knocks, eleven being the number of magical energy – see Liber
AL I, 60. Note that there are four sets of eleven knocks during the
complete ritual, making 44 in total, representing the materialisation
of magical energy, and also being a number of Ra-Hoor-Khuit. See
Liber XLIV, The Mass of the Phoenix.]
3. Let him put the Thumb of his right hand between its index and
medius, and make the gestures hereafter following.
[The thumb being the finger attributed to Spirit, and also containing
an important centre of cakkric energy. Again see also Liber XV.]
The Vertical Component of the Enchantment.
1. Let him describe a circle about his head, crying NUIT!
[The Sahashara Cakkra, above the head, attributed to Ain Soph on the
Tree of Life.]
2. Let him draw the Thumb vertically downward and touch the Muladhara
Cakkra, crying, HADIT!
[The Muladhara (Earth centre, attributed to Malkuth on the Tree of
Life) is found at the base of the spine, or at the perineum just
behind the genital region, opinions differ. I’d suggest the latter in
practice, since touching the base of the spine during the rite is
somewhat awkward.]
3. Let him, retracing the line, touch the centre of his breast and
[The Anahata Cakkra – the solar centre, attributed to Tiphareth, or
perhaps more accurately to the triangle Chesed, Geburah, Tiphareth.
This will especially make sense to initiates of the Second Degree of
OTO. Note that the symbol of Ra-Hoor-Khuit is a downward pointing red
triangle of fire.]
The Horizontal Components of the Enchantment.
1. Let him touch the Centre of his Forehead, his mouth, and his
larynx, crying AIWAZ!
[The centre of the forehead is the location of the Ajna Cakkra, the
larynx the location of the Vishuddha Cakkra, attributed to Saturn and
Da’ath. The mouth is the only one of these which is not a primary
Cakkra – perhaps because Aiwaz is the voice of the Gods – see Liber
AL. Interestingly the mouth is a minor Cakkra – the Kala Cakkra.]
2. Let him draw his thumb from right to left across his face at the
level of the nostrils.
[This forms the cross-path on the Tree of Life from Binah to
Chokmah , the path of The Empress]
3. Let him touch the centre of his breast, and his solar plexus,
crying, THERION!
[The Anahata again and the Manipura. Both of these together are
attributed to the Chesed, Geburah, Tiphareth triangle; I know this is
odd, but that’s just one of the problems of trying to relate two
widely varying systems. The Tree of Life has only five Sephiroth on
the Middle Pillar, whereas the yoga system used here has seven
primary Cakkras.]
4. Let him draw his thumb from left to right across his breast, at
the level of the sternum.
[The cross-path linking Chesed to Geburah, the path of Lust]
5. Let him touch the Svadistthana, and the Muladhara Cakkra, crying,
[The Svadistthana is located in the genital region, attributed to
Yesod and the Moon.]
6. Let him draw his thumb from right to left across his abdomen, at
the level of the hips.
[The cross-path linking Hod and Netzach on the Tree, the path of The
Tower. Note that the numerological value of the three cross-paths
added together is 93. I don’t know why the crossbars go in these
directions. They do not follow the path of the Lightning Flash as it
shoots downward from Kether to Malkuth – perhaps there may be a
reference to the direction of spin of the cakkras.]
(Thus shall he formulate the Sigil of the Grand Hierophant, but
dependent from the Circle.)
[The Sigil of the Grand Hierophant being the triple cross.]
The Asseveration of the Spells.
1. Let the Magician clasp his hands upon his Wand, his fingers and
thumbs interlaced, crying LAShTAL! THELEMA! FIAOF! AGAPE! AUMGN
(Thus shall be declared the Words of Power whereby the Energies of
the Aeon of Horus work his will in the World.)
[Each of these Words has the numerical value of 93. Since there are
five of them and they are repeated once, plus an extra THELEMA in the
middle, there are a total of 11 “93” Words in the rite. Note that the
F’s in FIAOF are silent, as is the GN in AUMGN. For more on these
words see Book 4 Part III, Magick in Theory & Practice.
Furthermore, in this First Gesture there are six god names mentioned:
Nuit, Hadit, Ra-Hoor-Khuit, Aiwaz, Therion, Babalon; and five “93”
words. Eleven invocations in total, thus is it named The Elevenfold
Seal. The combination of the six and five is a very important facet
of the rite – see section 23, lines h & i.]
The Proclamation of the Accomplishment.
1. Let the Magician strike the Battery: 3-5-3, crying ABRAHADABRA.
The Enchantment.
1. Let the Magician, still facing Boleskine, advance to the
circumference of his circle.
2. Let him turn himself towards the left, and pace with the stealth
and swiftness of a tiger the precincts of his circle, until he
complete one revolution thereof.
3. Let him give the Sign of Horus (or The Enterer) as he passeth, so
to project the force that radiateth from Boleskine before him.
[This sign is made by leaning forward, advancing the left foot and
throwing the arms out horizontally before you, pointing with the
index fingers as if to fire energy out of them.]
4. Let him pace his path until he comes to the North; there let him
halt, and turn his face to the North.
[That is you go round one and a quarter times]
5. Let him trace with his wand the Averse Pentagram proper to invoke
Air (Aquarius).
[An averse pentagram is one with the single point down, two points
up. The Averse Air pentagram is drawn by starting at the bottom left
point and going horizontally across to the right, then up left, down
middle, up right, down left. i.e. go widdershins (anti-clockwise). In
other words it is like an upright Air Pentagram rotated through 180
6. Let him bring the wand to the centre of the Pentagram and call
upon NUIT!
[You should visualise the particular God or Goddess called in each
quarter. If in doubt use the Tarot imagery. For Nuit, see Atu XVII,
The Star; Atu XX, The Aeon; or Atu XXI, The Universe.]
7. Let him make the sign called Puella, standing with his feet
together, head bowed, his left hand shielding the Muladhara Cakkra,
and his right hand shielding his breast (attitude of the Venus de
[And where do you hold the wand while you’re doing this? One solution
is to grip it between your knees when you’re making these signs. Yes,
I know it doesn’t sound too elegant, but it works.]
8. Let him turn again to the left, and pursue his Path as before,
projecting the force from Boleskine as he passeth; let him halt when
he next cometh to the South and face outward.
[i.e. go round one half circle]
9. Let him trace the Averse Pentagram that invoketh Fire (Leo).
[Start bottom middle and go deosil (clockwise) i.e. go up left and
then round until you’ve completed the entire pentagram.]
10. Let him point his wand to the centre of the Pentagram, and cry,
[See Atu XX, The Aeon – Hadit is the winged disk.]
11. Let him give the sign Puer, standing with feet together, and head
erect. Let his right hand (the thumb extended at right angles to the
fingers) be raised, the forearm vertical at a right angle with the
upper arm, which is horizontally extended in the line joining the
shoulders. Let his left hand, the thumb extended forwards and the
fingers clenched, rest at the junction of the thighs (Attitude of the
gods Mentu, Khem, etc.).
12. Let him proceed as before; then in the East, let him make the
Averse Pentagram that invoketh Earth (Taurus).
[This time go round a quarter circle. The pentagram is drawn from
bottom middle widdershins towards the upper right point and so on.]
13. Let him point his wand to the centre of the pentagram, and cry,
[See Atu XI, Lust – Therion is the Beast pictured.]
14. Let him give the sign called Vir, the feet being together. The
hands, with clenched finger and thumbs thrust out forwards, are held
to the temples; the head is then bowed and pushed out, as if to
symbolize the butting of an horned beast (attitude of Pan, Bacchus,
etc.). (Frontispiece, Equinox I, III).
15. Proceeding as before, let him make in the West the Averse
Pentagram whereby Water is invoked.
[The Averse pentagram of Water: start at the bottom right and go
across to the bottom left and thus round deosil. Note that the
pentagrams change direction each time – first widdershins, then
deosil, then widdershins again, then deosil.]
16. Pointing the wand to the centre of the Pentagram, let him call
[See Atu XI again – Babalon is the Goddess riding on the Beast. Note
that you “call upon” Nuit & Babalon but “cry” the other names. This
may be significant in that the LA (feminine) forces are perceived as
lying outside the direct sphere of your influence, and are requested
in a softer manner than the masculine forces.]
17. Let him give the sign Mulier. The feet are widely separated, and
the arms raised so as to suggest a crescent. The head is thrown back
(attitude of Baphomet, Isis in Welcome, the Microcosm of Vitruvius).
(See Book 4, Part II).
[You can’t grip your wand between your knees here! So hold it in your
18. Let him break into the dance, tracing a centripetal spiral
widdershins, enriched by revolutions upon his axis as he passeth each
quarter, until he come to the centre of the circle. There let him
halt, facing Boleskine.
[You go round the circle one complete revolution here. You’ve now
done three and a half circles, the number of coils of the Kundalini,
amongst other things. Compare the Priestess’s dance in Liber XV, the
Gnostic Mass, and note that 15 is 3×5. Also note that you have gone
from Earth through Air, Water, and Fire, and thus to Spirit in the
centre. You have raised yourself from the realm of the material to
the world beyond.]
19. Let him raise the wand, trace the Mark of the Beast, and cry
[The Mark of the Beast is a sign in the form of a solar circle with a
dot in the middle, and below it a lunar crescent with two small
crescents below that. You can draw it in one motion by going round
the circle once, then making a wider arc to draw the crescent, then
going back in two loops under the crescent. Yes, I know this still
sounds pretty vague, but it’s the best I can think of right now. As
the pentagrams are symbols of the four material elements, so is the
Mark of the Beast the symbol of Spirit. Aiwaz should be visualised
as “a tall dark man in his thirties, well-knit, active and strong,
with the face of a savage king, and eyes veiled lest their gaze
destroy what they saw.”]
20. Let him trace the invoking Hexagram of The Beast.
[This is the Unicursal Hexagram, drawn from the top middle point
deosil towards the bottom right, top left, bottom middle, top right,
bottom left, top middle.]
21. Let him lower the wand, striking the Earth therewith.
[The conception here is that you are bringing the Thelemic current
from above down to the Earth. You are standing in both worlds and can
act as a bridge between them.]
22. Let him give the sign of Mater Triumphans (The feet are together;
the left arm is curved as if it supported a child; the thumb and
index finger of the right hand pinch the nipple of the left breast,
as if offering it to that child). Let him utter the word THELEMA!
[The child being the Thelemic magical current that you have set in
motion, that you have birthed upon the Earth.]
23. Perform the spiral dance, moving deosil and whirling widdershins.
[As you have moved widdershins before to banish, so now you move
deosil to invoke.]
Each time on passing the West extend the wand to the Quarter in
question, and bow:
[Note that you extend the wand to the quarter, not bow to the
quarter. Each time you bow to the West I assume, since bowing
upwards, for example, is rather difficult.]
a. “Before me the powers of LA!” (to West.)
b. “Behind me the powers of AL!” (to East.)
c. “On my right hand the powers of LA!” (to North.)
d. “On my left hand the powers of AL!” (to South.)
e. “Above me the powers of ShT!” (leaping in the air.)
f. “Beneath me the powers of ShT!” (striking the ground.)
[LA means Nothing, and is directed to the West & North, since these
are the negative, feminine quarters. AL means God, and is directed to
the positive, masculine quarters. Note that we do not assume that
positive is “better” then negative – it is simply a different
polarity, as in an electrical current. ShT is the child of negative
and positive energies, and the force that reconciles them. LA= 31,
AL=31, ShT=31; thus 3×31=93]
g. “Within me the Powers!” (in the attitude of Phthah erect, the feet
together, the hands clasped upon the vertical wand.)
[Phthah is the Creator God of Egypt. The conception is that you have
built your own universe. I always find that this rite increases my
creative powers greatly. For this reason it is to be particularly
recommended to all those engaged in artistic pursuits.
Note that you’ve now done seven more circles, which is twice three
and a half. So altogether in the rite you’ve gone round three and a
half widdershins, then twice three and a half deosil, making a total
of three times three and a half; or only once, depending on whether
you count the widdershins circumnambulations as a positive or
negative amount.]
h. “About me flames my Father’s face, the Star of Force and Fire.”
[My Father is this case is Baphomet, the All-Father of the Knights
Templars. The Averse pentagram is occasionally drawn with Baphomet’s
face within its points, the two upward points being the horns, the
lowest point his beard. See the well-known logo of the Church of
i. “And in the Column stands His six-rayed Splendour!”
[Note: flames, father’s, face, force, fire. Five F’s. Qabalistically,
F is Vau = 6, thus we have the 5 and 6 combined. 5×6=30.
Stands, six-rayed, splendour. Three S’s. Qabalistically, S is Samekh
= 60. 3×60=180. Plus the 30 from the previous line gives us a total
of 210 = NOX.]
(This dance may be omitted, and the whole utterance chanted in the
attitude of Phthah.)
This is identical with the First Gesture.

Hellenic Alexandrian Ritual of the Pentagram



 Ecclesia Ordinis Caelestis Templum Olympicus




Ritual of the


I. The



  1. Stand in the Center, equipped with Athame.
  2. Extend the arms in the form of the Tau Cross, and vibrate: ΕΙΣΑΙ
  3. With the instrument in right hand, touch the forehead, and vibrate: ΣΤΦΑΝΟΣ
  4. Touch the genital area, and vibrate: ΒΑΣΙΛΕΙΑ
  5. Touch the right shoulder and vibrate: και-ΔΥΝΑΜΙΣ
  6. Touch the left shoulder and vibrate: και-ΔΟΞΑ
  7. Touch breasts and vibrate: Συνεργος

II. Setting of the Wards of Power

  1. Draw an invoking pentagram before you. Touch your forehead with the Athame.
  2. Extend your Athame out, turn to the East and vibrate: ΜεΘυδωτην
  3. Turn to the South and vibrate: Ιερωτατος
  4. Turn to the West and vibrate: Παμμητιερα
  5. Turn to the North and vibrate: Κεροεσσα
  6. Say: “I am a Child of Earth & Starry Heaven; Love is the Law, Love under Will”
  7. Stand in the form of a Pentagram and say in a firm voice:

    Before me – ΕΡΜΗΣ
    Behind me – ΑΦΡΟΔΙΤΑ
    On my right hand – ΗΦΑΕΣΤΟΣ
    On my left hand – ΔΗΜΗΤΡΑ
    Above me – ΑΠΟΛΛΟΝ
    Below me – ΠΕΡΣΕΦΟΝΕ

    About me flames the Star of Five
    And within me burn the Powers of the Sphinx

  8. Now, you may perform whatever magical effects you desire.


How to Summon Ye Demon Aleister Crowley to Visible Appearance(Humor)

How to Summon Ye Demon Aleister Crowley to Visible Appearance

(A Rite for Father’s Day)

From an ancient Graeco-Eyptian Manuscript in the Egyptian National Museum.

Ye Banishing

Banish by showing a picture of Aleister Crowley to the eight directions, saying “Get Off My Cloud” at each space mark, and each time give the Middle Finger Salute to the direction. Or ye may wear a Crowley Mask during the banishing. This will scare away any non-Thelemic entities and entice Crowley to the Circle.

Ye Place of Working

In the middle of the circle should be a Crucifix, lots of beer (Crowley hated beer), and a copy of an A.E Waite book (Crowley liked Waite about as much as he liked beer). This will keep Crowley from invading the circle in his true form.

Ye Preliminary Insultation

The celebrants sit in the circle and consume beer, marijuana and other intoxicants, all the while profaning the demon Crowley, reviling him at every turn. Every couple of minutes a different celebrant should break into the conversation and say: “I wish Crowley were here to hear you say that.” Getting stoned inside the circle where he can’t reach you and insulting his name will draw Crowley to the Circle, itching to manifest and rip you into confetti.

Ye First Insultation

The appointed Priest reads each sentence aloud, and the Celebrants repeat it after him. “I invocate and conjure thee, o ye blasphemous toad Aliester Crowley! Long have ye taunted us from beyond the grave, meddling with the brains of acid messiahs and politicians, smirking at us from behind your silly Egyptian hat! I command you to appear before us now, if you’re the great magician they say you are! Being armed with the power of beer and cigarettes I command it!”

(Pause for a minute)

“O worm-eaten necromancer, hear me. A sadistic game you have played with your disciples long enough. You lure the curious down halls of Aliester Crowley statues and Crowley altars at every turn, only to lead the travellers to a mirror at the end of the path, and they realize their god was them all the time. BUT BY THAT TIME THEY HAVE BOUGHT ALL YOUR BOOKS!!
Thou art a slick advertiser selling bottled air.

“I invoke you by the names: To Mega Therion! Perdurabo! Baphomet! The Beast 666! Fo-Hi! Count Alexander Svareff! Chiao Khan! Alys! Etc. Come thou forthwith, without delay, from any and all parts of the world thou mayest be, and make rational answers unto all things that we shall demand of thee, for thou art conjured up by the name of the living and true god Xerox!

Ye Second Insultation

If the obstinate Beast refuses to show himself, repeat ye second insultation:
“By the power of the slave god Jehovah, I command you to appear!”

“By twenty generations of Plymouth Brethren, I constrain you to appear!”

“By Leah Hirsig’s bedpan, I lure you to appear!”

“With seven vestal virgins, I entice you to appear!”

“With seven lines of fine Peruvian Cocaine, I tempt you to appear!”

“With seven young, gay, Arabian boys I seduce you to appear!”

“By a gram of China White Heroin, I DARE you to appear!”

“Just to see if I have all that shit, I DEFY YOU TO APPEAR!”

Ye Grand Insultation

Another joint is passed around while the celebrants wait for a sign of Crowley’s appearance. His manifestation can take many forms, and each adept should comment on anything he/she should hear or see that might be Crowley, from insects to rocks to vegetation. While the joint is smoked, each of these possible signs is discussed and either discarded or seized and put in the middle of the circle. These objects touched by Crowley are HOO-HAHS and should be kept by the celebrants as Power Objects.

If Crowley still does not appear in physical form, a final and most powerful CRITICIZATION and INSULTATION is uttered by the Priest:

“Come on man! This is embarrassing! We do the ritual and you promise it will work and you don’t show up. That’s just like you, you lime-sucking bald-pate of an English windbag! We come out here, dress in fine apparel and take strange drugs and all that shit, and all we get out of it is sitting around in fine apparel stoned on strange drugs. Come on you lecherous old fart! You can tantalise us with a little visible appearance, can’t you? Just show us a leg and a part of a helmet like Buer showed you, hunh? That is if you got the balls. COME ON CROWLEY SHOW US THAT BEAST OF A WANGER YOU BRAG ABOUT ..”

As soon as this is said, Crowley will manifest on the outside of the circle, if not in bodily form then as a breeze or something more tenuous but everything that moves outside the circle has been touched by him. Each celebrant who hasn’t found a Crowley Hoo-Hah yet should go out of the Circle and find one. They are piled in the middle of the Circle.

These Crowley Hoo-Hahs can be used for any and all types of Thelemic Magick. They’re almost as good as Crowley Knucklebones and Crowley Toes.

Ye Banishing

A reverse banishing should be performed. Face the inside of the circle, point Crowley’s picture or mask to centre of the circle, and at each of the eight points, say “Under my Thumb” while you grind your thumb into your outstretched palm.

Ye Warning

The O.D takes no responsibility for the consequences of performing this rite. Crowley’s manifestation is sometimes violent: once a whole group of adepts was found buggered to death! Be Forewarned!

Collegium ad Inner Sanctum
This year Kung Fus Shun, rand OHOOD

Liber V vel Reguli: Ritual of the Mark of the Beast

Aleister Crowley

A.·. A.·. publication in Class D.
Being the Ritual of the Mark of the Beast:
an incantation proper to invoke the Energies of the Aeon of Horus,
adapted for the daily use of the Magician of whatever grade.

[The title is Latin and means Book 5 or Book of the Prince. Regulus is also the name of the star which marks the beginning or 0 degree of the constellation Leo.]


The Oath of the Enchantment, which is called the Elevenfold Seal.

<triple cross descending from circle>
The Animadversion towards the Æon.

  1. Let the Magician, robed and armed as he may deem to be fit, turn to face towards Boleskine,* that is the Housse of the Beast 666.
  2. Let him strike the battery 1–3–3–3–1.
  3. Let him put the Thumb of his right hand between its index and medius, and make the gestures hereafter following.

The Vertical Component of the Enchantment.

  1. Let him describe a circle about his head, crying NUIT!
  2. Let him draw the Thumb vertically downward, and touch the muladhara cakra, crying HADIT!
  3. Let him, retracing the line, touch the centre of his breast, and cry RA-HOOR-KHUIT!

The Horizontal Component of the Enchantment.

  1. Let him touch the Centre of his Forehead, his mouth, and his larynx, crying AIWAZ!
  2. Let him draw his Thumb from right to left across his face at the level of the nostrils.
  3. Let him touch the Centre of his Breast, and his Solar Plexus, crying THERION!
  4. Let him draw his Thumb from left to right across his breast at the level of the sternum.
  5. Let him touch the svadhisthana. and the muladhara cakra, crying BABALON!
  6. Let him draw his Thumb from right to left across his abdomen, at the level of the hips.

(Thus shall he formulate the Sigil of the Grand Hierophant, but dependent from the Circle.)

The Asserveration of the Spells.

  1. Let the Magician clasp his hands upon his Wand, his fingers and thumbs interlaced, crying LAShTAL! THELEMA! FIAOF! AGAPÉ! AUMGN!1

(Thus shall be declared the Words of Power whereby the Energies of the Æon of Horus work his Will in the world.)

The Proclamation of the Accomplishment

  1. Let the Magician strike the Battery: 3–5–3, crying ABRAHADABRA.

* Boleskine House is on Loch Ness, 17 mile from Inverness, latitude 57.14N, longitude 4.28W.


The Enchantment.

1. Let the Magician, still facing Boleskine, advance to the circumference of his Circle.
2. Let him turn himself towards the left, and pace with the stealth and swiftness of a tiger the precincts of his circle, until he complete one revolution thereof.
3. Let him give the sign of Horus (or the Enterer) as he passeth, so to project the Force that radiateth from Boleskine before him.
4. Let him pace his Path until he comes to the North; there let him halt, and turn his face to the North.
5. Let him trace with his Wand the Averse Pentagram proper to invoke Air (Aquarius). (point down pentagram, first stroke left to right)
6. Let him bring the Wand to the Centre of the Pentagram and call upon NUIT!
7. Let him make the sign called Puella, standing with his feet together, head bowed, his left hand shielding the muladhara cakra, and his right hand shielding his breast (attitude of the Venus de Medici).
8. Let him turn again to the Left, and pursue his Path as before, projecting the Force from Boleskine as he passeth; let him halt when he next cometh to the South, and face outward.
9. Let him trace the Averse Pentagram that invoketh Fire (Leo). (point down pentagram, first stroke bottom to top left)
10. Let him point his Wand to the Centre of the Pentagram, and cry HADIT!
11. Let him give the sign Puer, standing with feet together and head erect. Let his right hand (the thumb extended at right angles to the fingers) be raised, the forearm vertical at a right angle with the upper arm, which is horizontally extended in the line joining the shoulders. Let his left hand, the thumb extended forwards, and the fingers clenched, rest at the junction of the thighs (attitudes of the gods Mentu, Khem, etc.).
12. Let him proceed as before; then in the East, let mim make the Averse Pentagram that invoketh Earth (Taurus). (point down pentagram, first stroke bottom to top right)
13. Let him point his Wand to the Centre of the Pentagram, and cry THERION!
14. Let him give the sign called Vir, the feet being together. The hands, with clenched fingers and thumbs thrust out forwards, are held to the temples; the head is then bowed and pushed out, as if to symbolize the butting of an horned beast (attitude of Pan, Bacchus, etc.). (Frontispiece, Equinox I(3)).
15. Proceding as before, let him make in the West the Averse Pentagram whereby Water is invoked. (point down pentagram, first stroke right to left)
16. Pointing the Wand to the Centre of the Pentagram, let him call upon BABALON!
17. Let him give the sign Mulier. The feet are widely separated, and the arms raised so as to suggest a crescent. The head is thrown back (attitude of Baphomet, Isis in Welcome, the Microcosm of Vitruvius). (See Book 4, Part II).
18. Let him break into the dance, tracing a centripetal spiral widdershins, enriched by revolutions upon his axis as he passeth each Quarter, until he come to the centre of the Circle. There let him halt, facing Boleskine. The Mark of the Beast (Sun and Moon conjoined with two witnesses)
19. Let him raise the Wand, trace the Mark of the Beast, and cry AIWAZ!
20. Let him trace the Invoking Hexagram of The Beast. (Unicursal Hexagram, first stroke top to lower right)
21. Let him lower theWand, striking the Earth therewith.
22. Let him give the sign of Mater Triumphans. (The feet are together; the left arm is curved as if it supported a child; the thumb and index finger of the right hand pinch the nipple of the left breast, as if offering it to that child.) Let him utter the word THELEMA!2
23. Perform the Spiral Dance, moving deosil and whirling widdershins.
Each time on passing th West extend the Wand to the Quarter in question, and bow:

  1. “Before me the powers of LA!” (to West.)
  2. “Behind me the powers of AL!” (to East.)
  3. “On my right hand the powers of LA!” (to North.)
  4. “On my left hand the powers of AL!” (to South.)
  5. “Above me the powers of ShT!” (leaping in the air.)
  6. “Beneath me the power of ShT!” (striking the ground.)
  7. “Within me the Powers!” (in the attitude of Ptah erect, the feet together, the hands clasped upon the vertical Wand.)
  8. “About me flames my Father’s Face, the Star of Force and Fire!”
  9. “And in the Column stands his six-rayed Splendour!”

(This dance may be omitted, and the whole utterance chanted in the attitude of Ptah.)


This is identical with the first gesture.

(Here followeth an impression of the ideas implied in this Pæan)

I also am a Star in Space, unique and self-existent, an individual essence incorruptible; I also am one Soul; I am identical with All and None. I am in All and all in me; I am, apart from all and lord of all, and one with all.
I am Omniciscient, for naught exists for me unless I know it. I am Omnipotents, for naught occurs save by Necesity, my soul’s expression through my Will to be, to do, to suffer the symbols of itself. I am Omnipresent, for naught exists where I am not, who fashioned Space as a condition of my consciousness of myself, who am the centre of all, and my circumference the frame of mine own fancy.

I am the All, for all that exists for me is a necessary expression in thought of some tendency of my nature, and all my thoughts are only the letters of my Name.

I am the One, for all that I am is not the absolute All, and all my all is mine and not another’s; mine, who conceive of others like myself in essence and truth, yet unlike in expression and illusion.

I am the None, for all that I am is the imperfect image of the perfect; each partial phantom must perish in the flasp of its counterpart, each form fulfil itself by finding its equated opposite, and satisfying its need to be the Absolute by the attainment of annihilation.

The World LAShTAL includes all this.

L is “Justice,” the Kteis fulfilled by the Phallus, “Naught and Two” because the plus and the minus have united in “love under will.”

A is “The Fool,” Naught in Thought (Parzival), Word (Harpocrates), and Action (Bacchus). He is the boundless air, and the wandering Ghost, but with “possibilities.” He is the Naught that the Two have made by “love under will.”

LA thus represents the Ecstasy of Nuit and Hadit conjoined, lost in love, and making themselves Naught thereby. Their child is begotten and conceived, but is in the phase of Naught also, as yet. LA is thus the Universe in that phase, with its potentialities of manifestation.

AL, on the contrary, though it is essentially identical with LA, shows “The Fool” manifested through the Equilibrium of Contraries. The wieght is still nothing, but it is expressed as it were two equal weights in opposite scales. The indicator still points to zero.

ShT is equally 31 with LA and AL, but it expresses the secret nature which operates the Magick or the transmutations.

ShT is the formula of this particular Æon; another æon might have another way of saying 31.

Sh is Fire as T is Force; conjoined they express Ra-Hoor-Khuit.

“The Angel”3 represents the Stèle 666, showing the Gods of the Æg;on, while “Strength” is a picture of Babalon and the Beast, the earthly emissaries of those Gods.

ShT is the dynamic equivalent of LA and AL. Sh shows the Word of the Law, being triple, as 93 is thrice 31. T shows the formula of Magic declared in that Word; the Lion, the Serpent, the Sun, Courage and Sexual Love are all indicated by the card.

In LA note that Saturn or Satan is exalted in the House of Venus or Astarté and it is an airy sign. Thus L is Father-Mother, Two and Naught, and the Spirit (Holy Ghost) of their Love is also Naught. Love is AHBH, 13, which is AChD. Unity, 1, aleph. who is “The Fool” who is Naught, but none the less an individual One, who (as such) is not another, yet unconscious of himself until his Oneness expresses itself as a duality.

Any impression or idea is unknowable in itself. It can mean nothing until brought into relation with other things. The first step is to distinguish one thought from another; this is the condition of recognizingg it. To define it, we must perceive its orientation to all our other ideas. The extent of our knowledge of any one thing varies therefore with the number of ideas with which we can compare it. Every new fact not only adds itself to our universe, but increases the value of what we already possess.

In AL this “The” or “God” arranges for “Countenance to behold countenance,”4 by establishing itself as an equilibrium, A the One-Naught conceived as L the Two-Naught. This L is the Son-Daughter Horus-Harpocrates just as the other L was the Father-Mother Set-Isis. Here then is Tetragrammaton once more, but expressed in identical equations in which every term is perfect in itself as a mode of Naught.

ShT supplies the last element; making the Word of either five or six letters, according as we regard ShT as one letter or two. Thus the Word affirms the Great Work accomplished: 5°=6°.

ShT is moreover a necessary resolution of the apparent opposition of LA and AL; for one could hardly pass to the other without the catalytic action of a third identical expression whose function should be to transmute them. Such a term must be in itself a mode of Naught, and its nature cannot encroach on the perfections of Not-Being, LA, or of Being, AL. It must be purely Nothing-Motion as they are purely Nothing-Matter, so as to create a Matter-in-Motion which is a function of “Something.”

Thus ShT is Motion in its double phase, an inertia compose of two opposite current, and each current is also thus polarized. Sh is Heaven and Earth, T Male and Female; ShT is Spirit and Matter; one is the word of Liberty and Love flashing its Light to restore Life to Earth, the other is the act by which Life claims that Love is Light and Liberty. And these are Two-in-One, the divine letter of Silence-in-Speech whose symbol is the Sun in the Arms of the Moon.5

But Sh and T are alike formulæ of force in action as opposed to entities; they are not states of existence, but modes of motion. They are verbs, not nouns.

Sh is the Holy Spirit as a “tongue of fire” manifest in triplicity, and is the child of Set-Isis as their logos or Word uttered by their “Angel.” The card is XX, and 20 is the value of yod (the secret seed of all things, the Virgin, “The Hermit,” Mercury, the Angel or Herald) expressed in full as IVD. Sh is the spiritual congress of Heaven and Earth.

But T is the Holy Spirit in action as a “roaringg Lion” or as “the old Serpent” instead of an “Angel of Light.” The twins of Set-Isis, harlot and beast, are busy with that sodomitic and incestuous lust which is the traditional formula for producing demi-gods, as in the cases of Mary and the Dove, Leda and the Swan, etc. The card is XI, the number of Magick AVD: aleph “The Fool” impregnating the woman according to the Word of yod, the Angel of the Lord! His sister has seduced her brother Beast, shaming the Sun with her sin; she has mastered the Lion, and enchanted the Serpent. Nature is outraged by Magick; man is bestialized and woman defiled. The conjunction produces a monster; it affirms regression of types. Instead of a man-God conceived of the Spirit of God by a virgin in innocence, we are asked to adore the bastard of a whore and a brute, begotten in shamefullest sin and born in most blasphemous bliss.

This is in fact the formula of our Magick; we insist that all acts must be equal; that existence asserts the right to exist; that unless evil is a mere term expressing some relation of haphazard hostility between forces equally self-justified, the universe is as inexplicable and impossible as uncompensated action; that the orgies of Bacchus and Pan are no less sacramental than the Masses of Jesus; that the scars of syphilis are sacred and worthy of honour as much as the wounds of the martyrs of Mary.

It should be unnecessary to insist that the above ideas apply only to the Absolute. Toothache is still painful, and deceit degrading, to a man, relatively to his situation in the world of illusion; he does his Will by avoiding them. But the existence of “Evil” is fatal to philosophy so long as it is supposed to be independent of conditions; and to accustom the mind to “make no difference” between any two ideas6 as such is to emancipate it from the thralldom of terror.

We affirm on our altars our faith in ourself and our wills, our love of all aspects of the Absolute All.

And we make the Spirit shin combine with the Flesh teth int a single letter, whose value is 31 even as those of LA the Naught, and AL the All, to complete their Not-Being and Being with its Becoming, to mediate between identical extremes as their mean—the secret that sunders and seals them.

It declares that all somethings are equally shadows of Nothing, and justifies Nothing in its futile folly of pretending that something is stable, by making us aware of a method of Magick through the practice of which we may partake in the pleasure of the process.

The Magician should devise for himself a definite technique for destroying “evil.” The essence of such a practice will consist in training the mind and the body to confront things which case fear, pain, disgust,* shame and the like. He must learn to endure them, then to become indifferent to them, then to become indifferent to them, then to analyze them until they give pleasure and instruction, and finally to appreciate them for their own sake, as aspects of Truth. When this has been done, he should abandon them, if they are really harmful in relation to health and comfort. Also, our selction of “evils” is limited to those that cannot damage us irreparably. E.g., one ought to practice smelling assafoetida until one likes it; but not arsine or hydrocyanic acid. Again, one might have a liaison with an ugly old woman until one beheld and loved the star which she is; it would be too dangerous to overcome the distaste for dishonesty by forcing oneself to pick pockets. Acts which are essentially dishonourable must not be done; they should be justified only by calm contemplation of their correctness in abstract cases.

Love is a virtue; it grows stronger and purer and less selfish by applying it to what it loathes; but theft is a vice involving the slave-idea that one’s neighbour is superior to oneself. It is admirable only for its power to develop certain moral and mental qualities in primitive types, to prevent the atrophy of such faculties as our own vigilance, and for the interest which it adds to the “tragedy, Man.”

Crime, folly, sickness and all such phenomena must be contemplated with complete freedom from fear, aversion, or shame. Otherwise we shall fail to see accurately, and interpret intelligently; in which case we shall be unable to outwit and outfight them. Anatomists and physiologists, grappling in the dark with death, have won hygeine, surgery, prophylaxis and the rest for mankind. Anthropologists, archæologists, physicists and other men of science, risking thumbscrws, stake, infamy and ostracism, have torn the spider-snare of superstition to shreds and broken in pieces the monstrous idol of Morality, the murderous Moloch which has made mankind its meat throughout history. Each fragment of that coprolite it manifest as an image of some brute lust, some torpid dullness, some ignorant instinct, or some furtive fear shapen in his own savage mind.

Man is indeed not wholly freed, even now. He is still trampled under the hoofs of the stampeding mules that nightmare bore to his wild ass, his creative forces that he had not mastered, the sterile ghosts that he called gods. Their mystery cows men still; they fear, they flinch, they dare not face the phantoms. Still, too, the fallen fetich seems awful; it is frightful to them that there is no longer an idol to adore with anthems, and to appease with the flesh of their firstborn. Each scrambles in the bloody mire of the floor to snatch some scrap for a relic, that he may bow down to it and serve it.

So, even today, a mass of maggots swarm heaving over the carrion earth, a brotherhood bound by blind greed for rottenness. Science still hesitates to raise the Temple of Rimmon, though every year finds more of her sons impatient of Naaman’s prudence. The Privy Council of the Kingdom of Mansoul sits in permenant scret session; it dares not declare what must follow its deed in shattering the monarch Morality into scraps of crumbling conglomerate of of climatic, tribal, and person prejudices, corrupted yet more by the action of crafy ambition, insane impulse, ignorant arrogance, superstitious hysteria, fear fashioning falsehoods on the stone that it sets on the grave of Truth whom it has murdered and buried in the black earth Oblivion. Moral philosophy, psychology, sociology, anthropology, mental pathology, physiology, and many another of the children of Wisdom, of whom she is justified, well know that the laws of Ethics are a chaos of confused conventions, based at best on customs convenient in certain conditions, more often on the craft or caprice of the biggest, the most savage, heartless, cunning and blood-thirsty brutes of the pack, to secure their power or pander to their pleasure in cruelty. There is no principle, even a false one, to give coherence to the clamour of ethical propositions. Yet the very men that have smashed Moloch, and strewn the earth with shapeless rubble, grow pale when they so much as whisper among themselves: “While Moloch ruled all men were bound by one law, and by the oracles of them that, knowing the fraud, feared not, but were his priests and wardens of his mystery. What now? How can any of us, though wise and strong as never was known, prevail on men to act in concert, now that each prays to his own chip of God, and yet knows every other chip to be a worthless ort, dream-dust, ape-dung, tradition-bone, or—what not else?”

So Science begins to see that the Initiates were maybe not merely silly and selfish in making their rule of silence, and in protecting Philosophy from the profane. Yet still she hopes that the mischief may not prove mortal, and begs that things may go on much as usual until that secret session decide on some plan of action.

It has always been fatal when somebody finds out too much too suddenly. If John Huss had cackled more like a hen, he might have survived Michaelmas, and been esteemed for his eggs. The last fifty years have laid the axe of analysis to the root of every axiom; they are triflers who content themselves with lopping the blossoming twigs of our beliefs, or the boughs of our intellectual instruments. We can no longer assert any single proposition, unless we guard ourselves by enumerating countelss conditions which must be assumed.

This digression has outstayed its welcome; it was only invited by Wisdom that it might warn Rashness of the dangers that encompass even Sincerity, Energy and Intelligence when they happen not to contribute to Fitness-in-their-environment.

The Magician must be wary in his use of his powers; he must may every act not only accord with his Will, but with the properties of his position at the time. It might be my Will to reach the foot of a cliff; but the easiest way—also the speediest, most direct least obstructed, the way of minimum effort—would be simply to jump. I should have destroyed my Will in the act of fulfilling it, or what I mistook for it; for the True Will has no goal; its nature being To Go. Similarly, a parabola is bound by one law which fixes its relations with two straight lines at every point; yet it has no end short of infinity, and it continually changes its direction. The Initiate who is aware Who he is can always check is conduct by reference to the determinants of his curve, and calculate his past, his future, his bearings, and his proper course at any assigned moment; he can even comprehend himself as a simple idea. He may attain to measure fellow-parabolas, ellipses that cross his path, hyperbolas that span all space with their twin wings. Perhaps he may come at long last, leaping beyond the limits of his own law, to conceive that sublimely stupendous outrage to Reason, the Cone! Utterly inscrutable to him, he is yet well aware that he exists in the nature thereof, that he is necessary thereto, that he is ordered thereby, and that therefrom he is sprung, from the loins of so fearful a Father! His own infinity becomes zero in relation to that of the least fragment of the solid. He hardly exists at all. Trillions multiplies by trillions of trillions of such as he could not cross the frontier even of breadth, the idea which he came to guess at only becuase he felt himself bound by some mysterious power. Yet breadth is equally a nothing in the presence of the Cone. His first conception must evidently be a frantic spasm, formless, insane, not to be classed as an articulate thougght. Yet, if he develops the faculties of his mind, the more he knows of it the more he sees that its nature is identical with his own whenever comparision is possible.

The True Will is thus both determined by its equations, and free because those equation are simply its own name, spelt out fully. His sense of being under bondage comes from his inability to read it; his sense that evil exists to thwart him arises when he begins to learn to read, reads wrong, and is obstinate that his error is an improvement.

We know one thing only. Absolute existence, absolute motion, absolute direction, absolute simultaneity, absolute truth, all such ideas: they have not, and never can have, any real meaning. If a man in delirium tremens fell into the Hudson River, he might remember the proverb and clutch at an imaginary straw. Words such as “truth” are like that straw. Confusion of thought is concealed, and its impotence denied, by the invention. This paragraph opened with “We know”: yet, quesitoned, “we” make haste to deny the possibility of possessing, or even of defining, knowledge. What could be more certain to a parabola-philosopher that he could be approached in two ways, and two only? It would be indeed little less that the whole body of his knowledge, implied in the theory of his definition of himself, and confirmed by every single experience. He could receive impressions only be meeting A, or being caught up by B. Yet he would be wrong in an infinite number of ways. There are therefore Aleph-Zero7 possibilities that at any moment a man may find himself totally transformed. And it may be that our present dazzled bewilderment is due to our recognition of the existence of a new dimension of thought, which seems so “inscrutably infinite” and “absurd” and “immoral,” etc.—because we have not studied it long enough to appreciate that its laws are identical with our own, though extended to new conceptions. The discovery of radioactivity created a momentary chaos in chemistry and physics; but it soon led to a fuller interpretation of the old ideas. It dispersed many difficulties, harmonized many discords, and—yea, more! It shewed the substance of Universe as a simplicity of Light and Life, manners to compose atoms, themselves capable of deeper self-realization through fresh complexities and organizations, each with its own peculiar powers and pleasures, each pursuing its path througggh the world where all things are possible. It revealed the omnipresence of Hadit, identical with Himself, yet fulfilling Himself by dividing His interplay with Nuit into episodes, each form of his energy isolated with each aspect of Her receptivity, delight developing delight continuous from complex to complex. It was the voice of Nature awakening at the dawn of the Æon, as Aiwaz uttered the Word of the Law of Thelema.

So also shall he who invoketh often behold the Formless Fire, with trembling and bewilderment; but if he prolong his meditation, he shall resolve it into coherent and intelligibile symbols, and he shall hear the articulate utterance of that Fire, interpret the thunder thereof as a still small voice in his heart. And the Fire shall reveal to his eyes his own image in its own true glory; and it shall speak in his ears the mystery that is his own right Name.

This then in the virtue of the Magick of The Beast 666, and the canon of its proper useage; to destroy the tendency to discriminate between any two things in theory, and in practice to pierce the veils of every sanctuary, pressing forward to embrace every image; for there is none that is not very Isis. The Inmost is one with the Inmost; yet the form of the One is not the form of the other; intimacy exacts fitness. He therefore who liveth by air, let him not be bold to breathe water. But mastery cometh by measure: to him who with labour, courage, and caution giveth his life to understand all that doth encompass him, and to prevail against it, shall be increase. “The word of Sin is Restriction”: seek therefore Righteousness, enquiring into Iniquity, and fortify thyself to overcome it.

*: The people of England have made two revolutions to free themselves from Popish fraud and tyranny. They are at their tricks again; and if we have to make a Third Revolution, let us destroy the germ itself!


This ritual was first published in Appendix VI of Magick in Theory and Practice. The text above is taken from the version published in Magick: Book 4 Parts I-IV which corrects a few errors and omissions in the original edition. Two earlier drafts of this ritual, with a measure of audience participation, are also extant.

1: THELEMA, AGAPÉ, and AUMGN in Greek in the original. FIAOF or VIAOV (Hebrew, Vau-Yod-Aleph-Ayin-Yod = 93) is a variation of the formula of IAO dicussed by Crowley in Chapter V of Magick in Theory and Practice. AUMGN is an exention of AUM described in Chapter VII of Magick.
2: THELEMA in Greek letters in the original.
3: A name sometimes used for Tarot Trump XX, more usually called “Judgement” or “the Last Judgement.” In Crowley’s Thoth deck it is called The Æon – T.S.
4: The quote is from the “Sepher Dtznouthia” or “Book of Concealment,” a Qabalistic text translated by Mathers from the Latin of Von Rosenroth and published in Kabbalah Unveiled.
5: The double letter ShT is glyphed by writing the Greek equivalents of Shin-Teth, Sigma-Theta, using the variant form of the capital Sigma which looks the the Latin C. The result looks like Crowley’s “Sun and Moon conjoined” symbol.
6: The allusion is to AL I. 22, which reads: “Let there be no difference made among you between any one thing & any other thing; for thereby there cometh hurt.”
7: Should probably be read Aleph-Null, written as the Hebrew letter Aleph followed by a zero in subscript. The reference is to the infinite set of cardinal numbers, the smallest infinite set; a set is said to have Aleph-null members if its members can be put into one to one correspondence with the set of natural numbers (0, 1, 2, 3, …). On this definition, there are as many signed integers (which includes negative numbers) as natural numbers, and as many rational numbers (i.e., numbers which can be written as fractions, one integer divided by another) as natural numbers. There are, however, more real numbers; the real numbers cannot be put in a one-to-one correspondence with the natural numbers, because they cannot be written in order; for whatever ordering principle you use, given any two real numbers it will always be possible to put one in between them. It is still a matter of debate whether there exist any infinite sets between aleph-null and the continuum (the latter being the set of real numbers).

Text © Ordo Templi Orientis. Copies and printouts may be made for personal use and research and may be distributed to others provided no charge apart from reasonable costs of copying and postage is made and this notice or an equivalent is included.

Key entry and HTML coding by Frater T.S. for Sunwheel Oasis, Leeds. May need further proof reading.