Crisis of the Modern World Revisited

Five years ago we wrote an article inspired by the René Guenon 1927 essay, Crisis of the Modern World. Two years ago the article was further edited for publication in Babalon Unveiled! Thelemic Monographs.[1]

René Guenon Revisited 2020: Soul Prepared for ResurrectionEven two years ago (2018), it was impossible to forecast the extent of the somnambulism that has swept over the world. The René Guenon essay is a work of unparalleled prophetic genius. It is best studied and carefully considered in full.

This, from Chapter One, ‘The Dark Age’, is of vital significance to the path of Esoteric Thelema:

“Since that time [6000 years ago], the truths which were formerly within reach of all have become more and more hidden and inaccessible; those who possess them grow fewer and fewer, and although the treasure of ‘non-human’ (that is, supra-human) wisdom that was prior to all the ages can never be lost, it nevertheless becomes enveloped in more and more impenetrable veils, which hide it from men’s sight and make it extremely difficult to discover. This is why we find everywhere, under various symbols, the same theme of something that has been lost—at least to all appearances and as far as the outer world is concerned—and that those who aspire to true knowledge must rediscover; but it is also said that what is thus hidden will become visible again at the end of the cycle, which, because of the continuity binding all things together, will coincide with the beginning of a new cycle.”

—René Guenon

We give below Guenon’s concluding two pages, which were addressed directly to Initiates, and to those on the knowledge path.

VINCIT OMNIA VERITAS

Truth triumphs over all

A warning must be addressed to those who, because of their capacity for a higher understanding, if not because of the degree of knowledge to which they have actually attained, seem destined to become elements of a possible elite. There is no doubt that the force of modernism, which is truly diabolic in every sense of the word, strives by every means in its power to prevent these elements, today isolated and scattered, from achieving the cohesion that is necessary if they are to exert any real influence on the general mentality. It is therefore for those who have already more or less completely become aware of the end toward which their efforts should be directed to stand firm against whatever difficulties may arise in their path and threaten to turn them aside. Those who have not yet reached the point beyond which an infallible guidance makes it henceforth impossible to stray from the true path always remain in danger of the most serious deviations; they need to display the utmost prudence; we would even say that prudence should be carried to the point of distrust, for the adversary, who up to this point has not yet been definitively overcome, can assume the most varied, and at times the most unexpected, disguises.

“It can happen that those who think they have escaped from modern materialism fall prey to things that, while seemingly opposed to it, are really of the same order; and, in view of the turn of mind of modern Westerners, a special warning needs to be uttered against the attraction that more or less extraordinary phenomena may hold for them; it is this attraction that is to a large extent responsible for all the errors of neo-spiritualism, and it is to be foreseen that the dangers it represents will grow even worse, for the forces of darkness, which keep alive the present confusion, find in it one of their most potent instruments.”

It is even probable that we are not very far from the time referred to by the prophecy of the Gospel to which we have already alluded elsewhere: ‘For false Christs and false prophets shall arise, and shall show signs and wonders to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect.’

The elect (‘the chosen’) are the elite in the fullness of its meaning, according to the sense in which we have invariably used the word: those who, by virtue of the inner realisation they have achieved, can no longer be seduced; but this is not the case with those who, as yet, possess only the possibilities of knowledge, and who are therefore, properly speaking, only the ‘called’; and this is why the Gospels say that “many are called, but few are chosen”.

“We are entering upon a period when it will be extremely difficult to separate the grain from the chaff and carry out effectively what theologians call the ‘discerning of spirits’, both because of the general confusion manifesting itself in intensified and ever more varied forms, and also because of the want of true knowledge on the part of those whose normal function should be to guide the rest, but who today only too often are no more than blind guides.”

We shall see whether the subtleties of dialectic are of any avail in such circumstances, and whether any philosophy, even were it the best possible, can have the strength to prevent the ‘infernal powers’ from being let loose; this also is an illusion against which some people need to guard, for it is too often supposed, in ignorance of what pure intellectuality really is, that a merely philosophical knowledge, which even in the best of cases is a bare shadow of true knowledge, can put everything to rights and turn the contemporary mentality away from its deviation; in the same way, there are those who think they can find in modern science itself a means of raising themselves to the higher truths, whereas this science is in fact founded on the negation of those truths. All these illusions are so many influences leading people astray, and by their means many who sincerely desire to react against the modern outlook are reduced to impotence, since, having failed to find the essential principles without which all action is in vain, they have been swept into blind alleys from which there is no escape.

Those who will succeed in overcoming all these obstacles, and triumphing over the hostility of an environment opposed to all spirituality, will doubtless be few in number; but let it be said once more that it is not numbers that count, for we are here in a domain whose laws are quite different from those of matter.

“There is therefore no cause for despair, and, even were there no hope of achieving any visible result before the modern world collapses under some catastrophe, this would still be no valid reason for not undertaking a work whose scope extends far beyond the present time.”

Those who might be tempted to give way to despair should realise that nothing accomplished in this order can ever be lost, that confusion, error, and darkness can win the day only in appearance and in a purely ephemeral way, that all partial and transitory disequilibriums must perforce contribute toward the greater equilibrium of the whole, and that nothing can ultimately prevail against the power of truth; their motto should be the one formerly used by certain initiatic organisations of the West: Vincit Omnia Veritas.

René Guenon, Crisis of the Modern World.[2]

Guenon and the Great Work

In 1927, Guenon and a handful of others still clung to the hope, though they did not put much store in it, that esotericism could exert an influence on “the general mentality”. We now know that hypnotic techniques, misinformation and other means of coercion as applied through today’s global information networks have confused and subjugated the masses to a degree that was never before possible. Nonetheless, Guenon adhered to the first principle of the Great Work, that it must involve service to others. How is this possible now? How can we triumph, as Guenon puts it, “over the hostility of an environment opposed to all spirituality”? We must go forward with unfailing conviction, knowing that Vincit Omnia Veritas declares spiritual reality, not temporal illusion. The oracle of Isis, given in ‘Liber 364 vel Lux Occulta’, tells us that Isis continues to pray for the soul in darkness.[3] If the soul should open to truth and hear her, then salvation is accomplished in that hour. The soul is thus prepared for resurrection.

I am the woman who gives light in darkness. I have come to lighten the darkness. I have lightened the darkness and overthrown the destroyers. Thrice times, the darkness is made light! I have prayed for all those who as yet dwell in darkness, who have hidden their faces, who have fallen and who weep. If they should only look upon me, then at last they shall know me! Then I shall raise them up. For I am the woman of whom the profane know not. I cannot speak for those who will not hear me.

We are all doomed to die as soon as we are born on this earth. Only love triumphs over all, even death. Isolationism is the absence of love. When love is entirely absent, death ensues for mind, body and soul. As for the ailments that afflict the soul, of which scientism knows nothing, these can be cured in an instant, by a word. There is nothing that can be done, though, to save those who will not hear it.


Notes

1. Babalon Unveiled! Thelemic Monographs [Ordo Astri]. The 2015 article can be read here at Tantrika Arts.
2. The italics are ours. The spelling has been standardised (‘English UK’) and some unnecessary single quotation marks removed to restore the immediacy of the 1927 text for the modern reader.
3. See ‘Spell 80’,  Babalon Unveiled! Thelemic Monographs [ibid].

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Thelema Beyond Crowley and Grant

Are you interested in Thelema Beyond Crowley? Have you had some experience of the cults of ‘Crowleyanity’? Have you visited this website in the hope of finding an atlernative to egotism and madness? Then read on, before you begin your deep and prolonged enquiry.

Theleme Beyond Crowley: Egyptian Tarot of Thelema Hrumachis IVThe O∴ A∴ was established in the year 1996. Our first website was launched in the year 2000. The founder members of the O∴ A∴ are based in England, UK. Our membership is international and covers 25 countries around the world to date.

Initiation is about personal work done and the keeping of the diary Record. We work by the correspondence method. A brief account of the history of this tradition is given on the page introducing our Probationership course: VITRIOL.

There follows a list of provisos to address frequently asked questions. This is usually enough to dissuade those with a superficial interest in the mysteries, who suffer the delusion of ‘others’. The tyros are like a crowd at a theatrical event that is more interested in other persons in the audience than what is taking place on the stage. Both crowd and stage are fiction, a phantasmal theatre of ego projection.

We have no involvement with Lodges, after the manner of Freemasons. We eschew social clubs, public events and Internet discussion forums. There is no ‘virtual’ Order or membership. We do not use the term ‘self-initiation’, which is an oxymoron. Although initiation is about personal work done, Thelema is not in any way personal, and cannot be personalised. While personalities are inevitable, they tend to be obstructive to the Great Work.

Magick denotes the noun. When we use the word as an adjective, it is spelled magical. A person who does magick is a magician. In the last two cases, adding the ‘k’ is superfluous.

The Hermetic Qabalah is the basis for ritual magick. We have nothing with Kabbalah, which is a branch of Jewish mysticism. We have nothing with Cabala, which is a branch of Christian mysticism.

There needs to be an intellectual understanding of the work, and of Esoteric Thelema, for the rituals of the O∴ A∴ to become meaningful. Babalon Unveiled—Thelemic Monographs is required reading and study for our Students.[1] It conveys the principles of Esoteric Thelema, compares this with previous schools of thought, and then follows through with numerous applications. It is not a practical handbook but provides the necessary intellectual and philosophical basis. The introduction to our practical methods, the training and work of a Probationer, is given in The Enterer of the Threshold.[2]

Two other books are required of Probationers. The first is The Flaming Sword Sepher Sephiroth, which is needed for the formulation of a fraternal name and number.[3] Secondly, The Phoenix and other Stellar Rites of Initiation, which includes the ritual of Admission to the grade of Neophyte and a detailed, illustrated commentary on this.[4]

Interested outsiders first subscribe to our monthly Journal, The 93 Current, and become Associates. This does not require any commitment beyond receiving a monthly digest by email, but it is the first step on the way. Many seek a spiritual and magical path that is ‘made to measure’. Sooner or later they find something disagreeable in our literature or methods and we will not hear from them again. The interest was superficial, not deep and all consuming as it should be if practical work is to be taken up. The person must prove to us that they are worth our time and our commitment to their Great Work. They must demonstrate their willingness to serve the Order. We are not interested in those who are merely looking to further personal interests and ambitions. There is a short article posted on our website that explains why.

Obeah and Wanga: Service to the Great Work

Beyond Crowley: My Prophet is a Fool

We do not regard Aleister Crowley as any kind of prophet. He awarded himself that title in the (Egyptian) Book of the Law, Liber AL, I: 26.

Then saith the prophet and slave of the beauteous one: Who am I, and what shall be the sign?

These are Crowley’s words, a poeticised question put to the communicant Aiwass, who was conveying the oracle of Nuit (infinite space). The question is not answered directly, and Crowley later changed the wording of the reply as it did not satisfy him.[5] Thereafter, Aiwass mocks Crowley’s presumption.[6]

Crowley, Kenneth Grant and others have interpreted the Egyptian mysteries from the point of view of early 19th century German humanist philosophers (Schiller, for example). The Book of the Law has an ancient Egyptian basis that is at least 4000 years old and in reality is much older than that. Our aim is to return the book to its lawful custodians. To put it another way, we mean to return the book to Egypt. The Egyptian Book of the Law is a more accurate title as the book’s writing conceals the mysteries of Set-Typhon as understood by the Initiates of ancient Thebes, the place called Waset by the Egyptians. The name of Aiwass, who communicated the book via the mediumship of Rose Edith Kelly, means, ‘He who was ordained in Thebes’.[7]

There is no Old Aeon or New Aeon in reality. The mysteries of Liber AL, as it has come to be known, are extremely ancient. Truth does not change with the fashions and fetishes of the human race. Thelema is not time-bound. It is not a new product or “New Law for Humanity” as was put forward by Crowley when he adopted the guise of the salesman and propagandist.[8]

Beyond Crowley: Words and Spells

In our rituals we do not invoke the biblical demiurge Tetragrammaton. However, there is no ban on Hebrew or Aramaic, its antecedent and the basis for scriptural Qabalah. Aramaic was once the language spoken all over the Middle East; The Flaming Sword Sepher Sephiroth is full of it.

Ishtar, invoked in the North in our Ritual of the Pentagram, is a Phoenician and Sumerian deity, though at one time she was celebrated in Egypt (as Ashtaroth, whom we invoke in the East) and renowned throughout the world. Isis is the ‘goddess of a thousand names’, and we invoke her in the West. Babalon, invoked in the South, is derived from Babylon, a corruption of the ancient Egyptian per-hapi-en-aunnu, goddess of the ‘Nile Temple of the nome centre Aunnu’.[9] Together, these are the four faces of Nuit defining the magical circle of the place. The magician is Hadit, the exorcist in the midst.[10]

Beyond Crowley: Trance of Attainment

All magical grades of initiation are relative to the individual and can have no meaning outside of the Order. Grades and offices are therefore a strictly private matter and are never publicly disclosed. The word ‘attainment’ owes largely to the works of Crowley. It is a vastly over-used term and tends to mislead the materially minded aspirant as to the true nature of initiation. We will here give our reasons. In Babalon Unveiled, pp. 260, ‘Thelemic Mysticism’, it is declared thus:

Materialism insists on a result as final, as product. At the end of the line is the product itself, and the consumer that purchases it through the need to self-identify (thus the ‘brand’ is all-important). Crowley, in his instructional works, spoke perhaps rather too frequently of ‘attainment’. Sages of old times were frequently more pragmatic.

‘Thelemic Mysticism’ can be read online here.

The word ‘attainment’ appears twice in The Enterer of the Threshold (Second Edition, 2019). The first reference is on pp. 2.

The second critical point is in the attainment of the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel. Even while the aspirant is preparing their Oath and meditating on the shining one or augoedes, the Four Evil Princes of the World are stirring. These antagonistic forces work day and night to undo aspiring magicians and thwart their true purpose.

The use of the term is ‘traditional’, as it once appeared in the Oath of an Adeptus Minor. We no longer use the term in the wording of the Oath.

The second instance is on pp. 26.

When ascending the chakras of the Tree of Life, a descent is made simultaneously into the depths of the Tree of Knowledge or Death—the higher the branches the deeper the roots. Nonetheless, due to some quirk of human nature it helps us get on with an extremely difficult and arduous undertaking if we employ a few conventional myths along the way, such as ‘attainment’, as though we were climbing a summit—as though we were actually going somewhere. This ‘going forth’ requires tremendous accumulated energy. However, as we plunge onward through the Trees of Eternity to the borders of the abysmal outermost, there is a complete reversal of magical polarity. Whereas the motion of the sephiroth below Da’ath is centrifugal—which gives rise to ‘consciousness expansion’—the motion of Da’ath is centripetal. This powerful force sucks or draws the adept inexorably inward. That same force threatens the annihilation of the human ego.

In Babalon Unveiled, pp. 53–54, ‘Romance of the Magical Orders’, we explore this in greater depth.

One of the snares in the system of grades as presented by Crowley is that he repeats the word ‘attainment’ hundreds of times, as though there were something to attain and someone to attain it; this can have a hypnotic effect on the serious student. The emphasis on attainment places initiation under the restriction of deterministic thinking. By setting forth to show that magick is no different than material science, and can be explained in the same terms, Crowley unwittingly prepared the way for reductionism and psychologisation. Future generations, born of a Wordless Aeon, would have great difficulty discerning a difference. We are in a realm where language will always limit us unless we think differently. The different mode of thinking can be described as a backwards flowing stream, and yet it cannot be taught; magick is not what we do, or attain or can get, but what we are.

Babalon Unveiled and The Enterer of the Threshold are required reading for our students. The Enterer is a small book, but infinite care was taken over its preparation. The person is expected to make a general study of magick and mysticism. After that, it may take between six months and one year of in-depth study of our literature before we will accept a person as a Probationer. During the course of study and reading, it is well to perform some preliminary practices based on what is given in Enterer of the Threshold and to begin a diary Record.

Those who wish to take their enquiry further than the website are welcome to apply to become an Associate, which requires subscription to our monthly ‘93’ Journal. Details of how to apply are given on the website here.


Notes

1. Babalon Unveiled! Thelemic Monographs [Ordo Astri].
2. The Enterer of the Threshold is the theoretical and practical handbook for aspirants [Ordo Astri]. The first two books noted here are required reading for our Students. The second two (below) are required for a Probationership.
3.  The Flaming Sword Sepher Sephiroth, in two volumes [Ordo Astri].
4. The Phoenix and other Stellar Rites of Initiation includes the rite of Admission to the grade of Neophyte [Ordo Astri].
5. The original wording of Nuit’s oracle, evident in the holograph MS, was, “Thou knowest! And the sign shall be my ecstasy, the consciousness of the continuity of existence, the unfragmentary non-atomic fact of my universality.” The last five words are essential to Esoteric Thelema. Crowley later changed these words, substituting the dull  theological convention, “the omnipresence of my body”.
6. In Liber AL, I: 48, Aiwass declares, “My prophet is a fool with his one, one, one; are not they the Ox, and none by the Book?” There are many other instances, too numerous to mention here.
7. See Babalon Unveiled! Thelemic Monographs, pp. 172 [Ordo Astri].
8. Crowley’s introduction to the book Magick is one of the worst examples of such hype, though it is closely rivalled by his absurd introduction to the 1938 OTO edition of The Book of the Law, in which he declares that the book “lays down a simple Code of Conduct”.
9. A colossal image of the goddess, likened to Isis-Hathoor, stood at one time outside the gates to Heliopolis (Aunnu) on the processional route. See pp. 86 and 263 [ibid].
10. This is fully explained in ‘Comment on the Pentagram Ritual’, pp. 41–43, The Enterer of the Threshold.

Our Egyptian Tarot of Thelema Atu Hrumachis IV is explained in detail here.

© Oliver St. John 2019

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Obeah and Wanga: Service to the Great Work

Service given to the Great Work is a vital spiritual obligation. It is vital because giving and receiving are one and the same act. Therefore service has practical import to the art of magick. It is not merely a ‘moral’ requirement.

Service to the Great Work: Pilgrim's Progress, H. Melville, W. Floyd (engraver)

According to the (Egyptian) Book of the Law, Liber AL, I: 37,

Also the mantras and spells; the obeah and the wanga; the work of the wand and the work of the sword; these he shall learn and teach.

The seeking out of esoteric knowledge should firstly involve the question, ‘How can I serve?’ 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. One must be prepared to give all that one is and all that one has to the Great Work.

A spiritual vocation is ‘a calling’, not a personal choice to make. If we take undigested portions from various disciplines and then stick together the bits that we like, leaving out the bits we disapprove of or that cause discomfort, then what we end up with is not a magical or spiritual path but a patchwork puppet that will dance to our tune.[1]

Tyros nonetheless regard a magical Order as a brand product like any other. The quest or inner searching that supposedly precedes application to a mystery school is reduced to trivial nonsense: ‘Does it match my personal preferences, my self-image? Will it enhance my profile? What can they do for me?’ They vainly consider whether the Order is suitable for them, not the other way round as it should be and is, in reality. Perhaps a sales manager can help with such a difficult choice?

Madam, perhaps you would care to look at our range of colours in this style? We have a delicious shade of violet that would perfectly match your highlights. Dislike Qabalah? I am sure we could find another game 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…

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—we can rest assured that no work will have been done. In magick we get precisely what we are prepared to give.

Service to the Great Work

Eckhartshousen’s Cloud on the Sanctuary is the Rosicrucian template for a magical Order, used by Crowley and many others since—though most have sought to avoid its rigorous obligations. Few now have even heard of it, yet should they happen to read it, they would probably think it has nothing 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. It does in fact apply to any spiritual path in any tradition.

Members of the O∴ A∴ Collegium are expected to manage their own contributions to the Order. Usually they make regular or occasional donations, as according to their means. Ideally, each practitioner also adds to the store of knowledge. A Neophyte is literally a ‘new flower’ (neo photon). The honeybee is the cognate symbol, for that miraculous creature gathers the raw material from flowers, cross-pollinating along the way. The hive, with its hexagonal cells, is the emblem of the primal Matrix. Flowers open to the sun, for which the relevant Qabalistic 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.


Books Required for Probationer Study*

The Enterer of the Threshold
Babalon Unveiled! Thelemic Monographs
The Flaming Sword Sepher Sephiroth
The Phoenix and other Stellar Rites of Initiation

* The first two books on the list are required reading for our Students. The second two books are required for a Probationership.


Notes

© Oliver St. John 2017, 2019

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