Obeah and Wanga

Even Aleister Crowley, frequently cast in the mould of black magician—a role that he evidently delighted in playing—was unequivocal regarding the supreme importance of service freely given. That one must be prepared to give all that one is and all that one has to the Great Work.

Tyros nowadays tend to regard a magical Order as a brand product like any other. The quest or inner searching that supposedly precedes application to a mystery school then becomes a question of, “What can it (or they) do for me?” They are considering whether the Order is suitable for them. Whether it fits; whether it suits them. Over to our sales manager:

“Madam, perhaps you would care to look at our range of colours in this style? We have a delicious shade of tangerine that would perfectly match your highlights. Dislike Qabalah? I am sure we could find a substitute that will take your fancy. We have a range of mystic methods from diverse global sources. Let us see what we have on our shelves, we will surely find something to please you…”

We may be excused for thinking that such presumption reveals ignorance of a magnitude; yet that is not even the half of it. The majority of magical shoppers plan to give nothing in return apart from their complaints when the immortal stone of the wise has not dropped into their lap within the first month (rest assured that no work will have been done). That approach to the Great Work is, as we all know, a fast track to failure, for we can only get precisely what we are prepared to give. Apart from “What ails thee, o king?” and similar Graal classics, the question of what to do about knowledge should firstly involve, “How can I serve?”

Service to the Great Work

Even Aleister Crowley, frequently cast in the mould of black magician—a role that he evidently delighted in playing—was unequivocal regarding the supreme importance of service freely given. That one must be prepared to give all that one is and all that one has to the Great Work. Unfortunately, few nowadays have heard of Eckhartshousen’s Rosicrucian Cloud on the Sanctuary, and if they were to see a copy (aside from a chance web trawling trance) it is unlikely they would think it had anything to do with them. Likewise, there are those who think that John Bunyon’s classic of English literature Pilgrim’s Progress is only relevant for pious Sunday School pupils (the book was highly regarded by Crowley).

The illustration (below) is a votive plaque depicting elements of the Eleusinian Mysteries, discovered in the sanctuary at Eleusis (mid-4th century BC).

Service to the Great Work: Mysteries of Eleusis, Votive Plaque

Let us move to the holier ground and look at service, the ‘give and take’ of things, from a more spiritual perspective. We use the word “spiritual”, but none of this is outside or in any way beyond the natural world. It is only that the world of the profane is far removed from that of nature let alone anything spiritual. Initiate members that persist with the discipline as far as the third degree of Practicus are expected by then to be keeping their own personal Sepher Sephiroth, and aiming to become proficient at the Qabalistic art of Gematria. In this way, each practitioner adds to the store of knowledge. The honeybee is the cognate symbol, for that miraculous creature gathers the raw material from flowers, cross-pollinating as it goes on its way. The hive, with its hexagonal cells, is the emblem of the primal Matrix. Flowers open to the sun, and the relevant path is the 30th, called The Gathering Intelligence. The six-fold opened cube of the universe, Tiphereth, is naturally the flower of the Golden Dawn of any functional magical Order. As knowledge is freely given out, so individual aspirants give freely to the Order that sustains them spiritually.


Our Book References

The Flaming Sword Sepher Sephiroth
The indispensible resource for the Hermetic Qabalist and magician: “Where appropriate, Gematria with detailed Qabalistic notes has been provided. The book also serves as a veritable grimoire for those engaged with the more specialised work of the Egyptian Book of the Law, Liber AL vel Legis, and the Thelemic or ‘93’ curent.”

The Enterer of the Threshold
The book that “everyone that genuinely seeks Initiation into magick should study.”

Magical Theurgy—Rituals of the Tarot
A complete course in magick, covering “the extended use of elemental mudras or Godforms, meditation and Tantra-yoga, plus examples of simple and advanced magical rituals.”

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Nu Golden Dawn and Phoenix: Night Magick vs Light Magick

A further step towards a Nu Golden Dawn: The Phoenix and other Stellar Rites of Initiation.

The post-truth age is a chilling but unavoidable truth.[1] At least, it is a truth so long as we can no longer discern the true from the false, good from evil. While truth cannot be absolutely true, true discernment is made in the heart and not the reasoning mind alone. This is the seat of what is called the True Will or Thelema.

Deconstructionism was used as a method in the arts long before it was recognised as driving political debate (so-called). Kenneth Grant—perhaps first of the post-modern occultists—laid a trail so littered with ‘blinds’ that even the most perceptive individuals have difficulty deciphering the way. Yet when he neared the end of his time—and foresaw the end of ours—he was unequivocal so far as stating that Initiates should prepare for the incoming wave of Qliphoth. To explain this in the terms coined by Grant: rends in the subtle fabric that once protected the planet are now admitting overwhelming incursions from Outside. The uninitiated have no defence against the resultant atavistic resurgence and succumb to obsession in their legions. Grant’s instructions for the needful preparations are nonetheless scattered about the Typhonian Trilogies in a way that makes them difficult to find and identify.[2]

The Phoenix: Golden Dawn Malkuth LamenIt is our stated aim to redefine the operation of the Magick of Light for the New Aeon. The term, “Magick of Light”, owes to the Golden Dawn tradition established by Samuel Liddell MacGregor and Moïna Mathers, Wyn Westcott, William Woodman, Florence Farr and company. The deconstruction of that legacy was carefully prepared and set in motion by Aleister Crowley and George Cecil Jones. It could be said that half a century later Kenneth Grant finished off completely the job they started. Or did he simply weave a seductively alluring tapestry, a fantastic veil to hide the real secret of the Golden Dawn from the profane—thus doing the bidding of the Secret Chiefs in a way more subtle than the darkly devious devices of his own imagining?

It was Kenneth Grant that cleverly noticed the Golden Dawn expression of the reification of the Magick of Light as spelling “The Great L.I.E.” (Light in Extension). This is an Eastern and indeed dualistic philosophical view to take, though in reality not much different from that of Aleister Crowley who increasingly resorted to the Yi-King over the Tarot (which he was never good at by his own admission) and the Taoist way over that of the Hermetic. Crowley littered his work with paradoxical assertions and negations, as did Kenneth Grant, albeit in a very different style.

The dualistic denial of matter and proclamation of spiritual supremacy is nothing new; it was included in the knowledge of the syncretic Golden Dawn tradition. The use of the Chaldean Oracles, attributed to the Persian sage Zoroaster, provides a fine example. The Upanishads are full of it. Strangely enough, everyone seems to be more or less in agreement that the way of the West differs from that of the East in so far as matter is not to be denied but transformed. The extraordinarily lurid works of Kenneth Grant are as syncretic as those of any Golden Dawn. After all, he was not urging us to become Hindus or Buddhists. The “Typhonian tradition” is usually taken to refer not to an ancient Egyptian pre-dynastic cult but to the legacy of Kenneth Grant’s writings. The said writing embraces all manner of expressions, from an inverted view of the Golden Dawn, Grant’s extended use of Gematria, which he called “Creative Qabalah”, and on to Zen, Taoism, witchcraft, voodoo, demonology and even ufology.

The redoubtable Scientific Illuminism of Aleister Crowley is austere in comparison with the amorphous Nightside of Grant, but it continued the Golden Dawn tradition—after a fashion at least—in the declared aim of universalism. The universalism of the syncretic Golden Dawn was established at least a decade before a young Aleister Crowley was introduced to the household. It is perhaps unfortunate that Crowley and other first wave Golden Dawn dissidents discarded elements of the tradition that were valuable and magically vital. For example, the early Golden Dawn temples had equal rights and privileges for women that meant far more than paying mere lip service to a lofty ideal. When Mathers moved base from London to Paris he appointed Florence Farr as head. The respect afforded the women of the Golden Dawn is less surprising when we consider that the primary magical contact behind MacGregor and Moïna Mathers was the Egyptian goddess Isis. The first Golden Dawn temple in London was therefore named Isis-Urania. Crowley, on the other hand, revered women only when poeticising, and was otherwise consistent in asserting male supremacy in all things—an attitude that has continued in his legacy even to the present times.[3]

Nu Golden Dawn

While Grant proposed a way (if you can see it) that is essentially Against the Light, he nonetheless insisted, in his earlier writings at least, that one must attain the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel before bravely immersing oneself in the demon worlds of the Qliphoth.[4] And here is a strange thing to relate in view of the polemic against luminosity: the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel is a Hermetic and Theurgic magical operation. The irony of Kenneth Grant’s Tunnels of Set is that they lead nowhere; the longer one stays in the cloying labyrinth the further one is from the fragrance of the mystic rose. The Holy Guardian Angel, a divine messenger that conveys direct mystical experience to the soul, is very much part of the Rosicrucian scheme of things. That means working the grades of the Golden Dawn as far as Tiphereth, the central solar radiance of the whole Tree of Life. At the foot of the Tree, coiled about the Kingdom of Malkuth, Thanatos and Eros weave the Ring-Pass-Not that mockingly bars all ways to the canopied couch of Logos and Agape.

The Phoenix: Golden Dawn Altar or Material BasisDetails about The Phoenix and other Stellar Rites of Initiation are posted on the Ordo Astri website and at Tantrika Books. The book is scheduled for release 14th April 2017. Get the book here from the author’s website.

There is an extended commentary  by the author in the Temple of Babalon podcast, Episode 17.


Notes

[1] Post-truth is where personal opinion and agenda is made to obscure or simply deny obvious facts. It is usually descriptive of faux political debate, but has wide application.
[2] Kenneth Grant refers to a certain “Sign of Protection”. This is described in The Ninth Arch, Appendices I (Starfire Publishing).
[3] One only has to read Aleister Crowley’s The Law is for All to understand where he stood regarding the place of women. Ref: The Law is For All, by Aleister Crowley, New Falcon Publications 1991; pp. 305–12 and 315–6.
[4] Against the Light: A Nightside Narrative is the title of a book by Kenneth Grant (Starfire Publishing, 2016).

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The Word Thelema

A Qabalistic Examination of Thelema, the Word of the Law
Abridged from The Flaming Sword Sepher Sephiroth

0. The Word of the Law is revealed in Liber AL vel Legis, I: 39–40:

The word of the Law is Θελημα. Who calls us Thelemites will do no wrong, if he look but close into the word. For there are therein Three Grades, the Hermit, and the Lover, and the man of Earth. Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

The fulfilment of the spiritual and magical Law of Thelema is declared in the Egyptian Book of the Law, Liber AL vel Legis, I: 57:

Invoke me under my stars! Love is the law, love under will.

1. The Greek word Thelema, “Will”, has the Qabalistic value of 93, equal to Agape, which is spiritual or impersonal love. The word is frequently translated in scripture as “charity”, in the archaic not the modern sense of the word. Will (Thelema) and Love (Agape) are synonymous and so perfectly equal, one with the other. As the will of Thelema is not wish or want, so the love of Agape is not desire for human bonding.

2. We are instructed to “look but close into the word” Thelema, for it secretes the whole path of magical Initiation. The Greek word theletes means, “one who wills; a wizard”—a magical practitioner. The root of the word is thelu, which means, “female”. The word of the Law was transmitted in I: 39 of the Book by the ancient Egyptian cosmic Shakti, the Star Goddess Nuit, and yet the Thelemic True Will is often confused with the solar-masculine will of reason. The magical consciousness current is not concerned with the need of the human ego to make choices or decisions, to determine this or that. Thelema should not be confused with philosophical determinism—though it frequently is.

3. The first two letters ΘΕ are the root of Thea, the Goddess or divine creatrix, and Theos, God or deity. Thea also has the meaning of “a view”, the window of vision and creative imagining that is symbolised in the Tarot trump The Star XVII. The first two letters then refer to the grade of the Hermit or devotee that follows Nuit through the starry heavens.

4. The second two letters ΛΗ  form the root of lema, will, and also strength or courage. “Do what thou wilt” is not “do whatever you want”; it is to follow the course of the True Will as a star in the body of Nuit. This is a discipline that requires special courage, strength and determination. ΛΗ is also the root of Leda; in the Greek myth Zeus begat Castor and Pollux upon Leda, the polar twins of the zodiacal sign of Gemini and Tarot Atu VI The Lovers. ΛΗ thus signifies the grade of the Lover.

5. The last two letters ΜΑ are the root of magia or magick, maia, the mother of illusion, and iama, remedy. To transcend the illusions of the Terrestrial Plane, the Man of Earth must practice and learn the magick arts. The motivation to start a Great Work stems from a realisation that something is not right in the world. It is the plight of the fisher-king in the Graal mysteries that is ‘wounded in the thigh’. The thigh is a common euphamism for the sexual and generative organs, associated with Scorpio—the crux of the whole matter of life and death. The wounded king sends his knights—his desire and imagination—out on the quest for the holy Graal. When the king is ailing, so is the whole land; the king is a symbol of the human ego in Tiphereth while the land (mother earth) is Malkuth the Kingdom, “As above, so below”.

6. ΜΑ has the value of 41 and so is Qabalistically equal to latha, forgetfulness. The awakening of the Man of Earth, if it comes, is tenuous; how easy it is for him or her to fall back into the sleep of forgetfulness symbolised by the ancient Greeks as the waters of Lethe in Hades (hell or the underworld). Hades is hidden among the roots of the Tree in Malkuth. The Lover that has attained the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel has remembered, and has the task of constantly renewing this remembrance by making every act an Act of Will. Lethe is a reminder that even the Lover can succumb once more to the sleep of forgetfulness.

7. The outer level of teaching for the grade of the Man of Earth is the Law, scripture or precepts governing conduct.

8. The second or inner level of teaching for the grade of the Lover is the ability to interpret symbol and allegory in various ways that lead to deeper knowledge, for example, the use of Qabalah.

9. The third or innermost level of teaching for the grade of Hermit is the radiance of pure knowledge that is obtained when each symbol is followed back to its source with the infinite.

10. Thelema is the Tele-Ma, the talisman, telesmata or stellar transmission of the Mother Mu or Maat. It is revealed and concealed in Liber AL (or L = 30) vel Legis, the Book of the Law of Maat. The Word of the Law is Thelema.

Ordo Astri Books: Flaming Sword Sepher Sephiroth Volume OneUpdate: The Flaming Sword Sepher Sephiroth Volume One was published at the winter solstice (Capricorn), Anno V-2.

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Dreaming Thelema of Kenneth Grant and HP Lovecraft

Dreaming Thelema of Kenneth Grant and H. P. Lovecraft drives a wedge straight to the heart of what Kenneth Grant’s cosmic vision was really about.

We know that American writer H. P. Lovecraft had no mystic pretensions, though he did say the dream that inspired the short story Nyarlathotep “might have been prophetic”. Kenneth Grant made much use of Lovecraft’s work, using it to reformulate the ideal of Thelema.

Dreaming Thelema of Kenneth Grant and H. P. LovecraftDreaming Thelema of Kenneth Grant and H. P. Lovecraft, was released on the Equinox of Libra, Anno V-2 (2016). The unique project features 17 paintings created specifically for inclusion in the book, using the Surrealist method of pure psychic automatism. We reproduce two of the paintings below. The book, 172 pages in all, is printed on photographic paper, to preserve the integrity of the artwork.

Also included are three complete short stories by H. P. Lovecraft: Nyarlathotep, The Crawling Chaos, and The Haunter of the Dark, plus a reconstruction of the Lovecraftian Necronomicon.

The book’s Introduction consists of a concise guide to Thelemic cosmology and the Qabalistic Art of Gematria. The Appendices contain a Qabalah of the Necronomicon, background information to the Lovecraft stories, and tables of Greek and Hebrew number values.

Stone of Stars by Soror V. A. A. (below) is numbered #4 in Dreaming Thelema of Kenneth Grant and H. P. Lovecraft. This was created through a version of parsémage (scattering); oil pastel is grated over ground of the same medium and worked in with a palette knife.

Dreaming Thelema of Kenneth Grant and H. P. Lovecraft: Stone of Stars painting

Surrealist André Breton defined Magical Surrealism in his 1924 Manifesto thus:

“Psychic automatism in its pure state, by which one proposes to express—verbally, by means of the written word, or in any other manner—the actual functioning of thought. Dictated by thought, in the absence of any control exercised by reason, exempt from any aesthetic or moral concern.”

Surrealist artist Ithell Colquhoun was a member of several magical Orders and knew Aleister Crowley and Kenneth Grant. The method of “pure psychic automatism” was at first applied to literature. Aleister Crowley’s Egyptian Book of the Law, Liber AL vel Legis, is perhaps the supreme example of such automatism when fused with the knowledge and discipline of the occult. In The Mantic Stain: Surrealism and Automatism (for Enquiry, 1949), Ithell Colquhoun explained how automatism could be applied to painting.

“All these automatic processes … are closely dependent on the unconscious mood of the operator; for, if a number of experiments in a single process are undertaken on one day, a great similarity of form will be noticeable throughout … It is for this reason that I feel these stains to have a ‘mantic’ or divinatory quality, which may in some sort be compared with the practices of clairvoyants, who use ink splashes, sand, pins flung together by chance, and the irregular patterns left by tea leaves and coffee grounds to release the contents of the unconscious. The famous crystal globe or ‘scrying glass’ has approximately the same function. And all have an august ancestry in that they are traceably allied to the ‘great work’ of alchemy. … the alchemist would release the contents of his own subliminal fantasy by intently watching the contents of the alembic … The method is at least as old as Leonardo da Vinci—we all know the story of his gazing at the stains of damp in an ancient wall and seeing the suggestion of the mountains, ravines, and fantastic foliage of a dream landscape.”

“With a thick brush, spread black gouache on a sheet of shiny paper, diluting the paint here and there with water. Cover it at once with a similar sheet and press them together fairly hard with the hand. Then, by the upper edge, slowly lift this second sheet … ready to reapply it and lift it again; repeat until almost dry. What you have before you is perhaps only the old paranoiac wall of da Vinci, but it is this wall carried to its own perfection. In fact, if you entitle the image thus obtained according to what you discover in it after looking at it from a little distance, you may be certain that you have expressed yourself in the most personal and valuable way.”

Dreaming Thelema of Kenneth Grant and H. P. Lovecraft: Moon-Glitter painting

Moon-Glitter (above) is numbered #14 in Dreaming Thelema of Kenneth Grant and H. P. Lovecraft. This was created through decalcomania; gouache and ink over gesso ground.

The companion volume to Dreaming Thelema of Kenneth Grant and H. P. Lovecraft is Magical Art of Surreal Romanticism, from which the following quotation is taken.

“Colquhoun wanted to achieve a union of natural and spiritual forces as well as a union of the disciplines of art and the occult. She suggested that the four traditional elements of Hermetic magick might each have corresponding automatic methods:

Fire—Fumage
Water—Écrémage and parsemage
Air—Blowing or fanning powdered materials
Earth—Decalcomania

“The union of subject and object, the I-Self with all that is ‘other’, the Not-Self, is the goal of yoga or union, and is a prerequisite for magick and mysticism at advanced levels.”

View / order the book here: Dreaming Thelema of Kenneth Grant and HP Lovecraft

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