Esoteric Thelema


Esoteric Thelema: The Law of Thelema will not be grasped by intellect alone, or by merely studying the text of the Cairo transmission. It will certainly not be understood through appeal to the writings of Crowley. Yet the metaphysical doctrine as revealed by Aiwass, the minister of Hoor-paar-kraat, can be explained without obfuscation. The following text is an abridgement of ‘Lapis Philosophorum’, from the forthcoming Second Edition of Babalon Unveiled! Thelemic Monographs. This is the basis of Esoteric Thelema.

Esoteric Thelema: Babalon Unveiled (William Blake)

The Magician

The modern notion of magick, a somewhat limited one, is that all appearances (or apparitions) emerge from the latent subconscious dream. In fact nothing truly originates from the human psyche, for its very nature is reflective, as we will later attempt to demonstrate.

A magician is one who changes the form, body or appearance of things through the manipulation of natural laws. We must then note that in Hebrew the word for ‘body’ or ‘form’, MVGShM, is identical to the word for ‘magician’, MGVShM, through the transposition of two letters. The root meanings include MVG, ‘dissolve or melt’, and MG, ‘magus’, derived from the Persian title of a chief of magi. A magician is thus one who changes the form of a thing by ‘melting’—something that can be interpreted in more than one way. Let it suffice to say here that there can be a change in the state of things. Such changes do not necessarily conform to the laws of conventional physics, as is by now popularly believed. Neither are they limited to the domain of the ‘psychological’.

The Hebrew title of the 29th path of the Tree of Life, the Corporeal Intelligence, has the word gosham for ‘body’ or ‘form’. This word also has the meaning of the verb, ‘to incarnate’. The work of the magical art, if that is understood to include theurgy, is to incarnate spiritual ideas through means of the Signum Symbol into flesh or form. The technical term for the operative vehicle is a talisman. This is not only descriptive of what a magician does but is also descriptive of what a magician really is. A magus, especially in the ancient Persian sense of a chief of the magi, is the living embodiment of a particular type of intelligence, a word in the flesh. As such, the magician is a talisman.

Esoteric Will and Evocation

Metaphysics, in the etymological sense that we use the term, is not comprehensible by the ordinary mode of rational thought. We can only approach metaphysics through analogous thought. According to the (Egyptian) Book of the Law, I: 28,

None, breathed the light, faint and faery, of the stars, and two.

All manifestation rests on duality. Every perceived cause is positive or negative activity. The (phenomenal) result is cathodic. Resistance necessarily causes reaction. To use an analogy, a cathode is defined as a negatively charged electrode or conductor for electricity by which electrons enter an electrical device. The cathode may be likened to the moon (or any planet) as a reflector of the solar light. The human psyche is itself cathodic or reflective. It is the error of psychological or rationalist thinking to imagine that anything can originate within the human psyche. The moon is cathodic effect or (magical) result, for it embodies reflected sunlight. The signature or individual name and character of the cathodic reflector determines the emanation or transmission as a specific soul or body.


Esoteric Thelema: Sun Symbol

The ancient Egyptians termed the emanation, the fire of the will-seed, as ISA, ‘fragrance’, a name of Isis. Thus Isis is the soul or body and Osiris is the ‘seed’. Isa and Asar (Isis and Osiris) are thus the earthly manifestation of the metaphysical ‘point’ within the circle, the geometric glyph of Kether and Tiphereth. According to the Book of the Law, I: 49, to know the function of Isa (as circle) and Asar (as point) we must discern a difference between this manifest pair or duality and the absolute (unmanifested) duality of Nuit and Hadit, as symbolised by the same glyph.

… let Asar be with Isa, who also are one. But they are not of me. Let Asar be the adorant, Isa the sufferer …

That is to say, the soul and the will-seed in their individuality, as creatures, persons, are defined by name or signature, which is called narma in Sanskrit. In terms of Nuit and Hadit, the absolute, Nuit’s appearance, the circumference, is a container for all possibilities.

The individual spirits, souls or signatures are each, in reality, a ray or emanation, which is also that essence defined as the ‘name’. Once defined, an emanation is subject to time. The reflections of the rays, through determination, may be likened to the colours of a rainbow, for while these may be numbered, they are indefinite in their shades or variations.

A shade is another term for a spirit, soul or body, for we are here discussing reflected light, of which the inverse effect or result is a shadow, which is the Egyptian khaibet. Cause or activity is possible only through opposed resistance or reaction, of which one Egyptian arch-principle or Neter is the god Set. The reaction is the type of all phenomena whatsoever. The unique signature or event cannot be defined intellectually, for it cannot be described without fixing in time and space. We can only truly know and understand it through magical evocation. The analogous mode of thought, however, makes possible the apprehension of Thelema, the esoteric Will and Love. It makes possible what the ancient Egyptians termed the ‘Intelligence of the Heart’, and what is called boddhi in the Hindu tradition.

Symbol as Expression of Esoteric Will

We must understand the difference between a common symbol and a true symbol. A common symbol may be, for example, an acronym such as USA. There is no meaning in the curvature of the letter ‘U’, the serpentine form of ‘S’ or the pentagrammic ‘A’. One must know that the three letters are an abbreviation for ‘United States of America’. Unless we know that, we can never know what the acronym symbolises.[3]

Esoteric Thelema: Egyptian Ankh or Tau

Let us take, on the other hand, the figure of the Egyptian ankh. Pages, books, could be filled with explanations as to what this means. The ankh is a true symbol. If a person had no knowledge of the many meanings that can be attributed to the ankh, they could nonetheless glean an intuitive comprehension through seeking it in meditation, by which the form and qualities of any symbol are known.

Let us return, then, to the point and circle. The centre (Hadit), which is attractive, controls the curve. The circumference (Nuit) is repellent or centrifugal. Thus we have the duality of centrifugal and centripetal motion, for example. If we divide the centre, thus creating two points, an ellipse is formed so long as the curve is closed. When not closed but superimposed, the centre becomes a line or figure. When the line is horizontal, for example, a spiral is formed from the curve’s movement relative to the polar axis. In the Book of the Law, II: 3–4, Hadit (the point) declares:

In the sphere I am everywhere the centre, as she, the circumference, is nowhere found. Yet she shall be known and I never.

And furthermore, in II: 7:

I am the Magician and the Exorcist. I am the axle of the wheel, and the cube in the circle. “Come unto me” is a foolish word: for it is I that go.

Time is not fixed but can only be experienced as passing from one moment to another. The determinative power is thus entirely illusory, for it is subject to constant change. The ‘cause’, the centre that determines the curve or circumference, the effect or result, is entirely esoteric. From the point of view of human reason, it cannot ever be known. Thus, “she shall be known and I never”. In the curve, the spiral, all possibilities exist. Concealed in the rainbow spectrum, all colours (or rays) exist and coexist equally. The centre controls the curve; the centre is Will. Will is the rotating axis (Hadit). The equator is the centrifugal or ‘electric’ effect. Effect or result is the contraction of Will (Thelema). Yet circular current provokes magnetic, axial effect. Will is Esoteric. Effect is Exoteric.

The fire of the seed or will, ‘fragrance’, is the emanation. It is typically depicted in ancient Egyptian figures as the ‘ejaculated seed’—though we should take utmost care not to confuse the symbol with that which it represents. Contained or contracted will is sought esoterically in the symbol. The character (signature) of a will defines or determines spirit or non-polarised energy in time and space, in the form of the symbol. That is magick, its power and its danger through ignorant applications of the knowledge.

Universal Talisman

When this knowledge is translated to the physical plane, outcome or result is generated by manipulation of physiological function (‘sexual magick’). The verse that was previously quoted from the Book of the Law, I: 49, becomes a critical factor in the tendency produced in the (reflective) human psyche, and in any physical manifestation. Isa and Asar, or woman and man, the polar twins in time and space, must be perfectly united. As it is said, they ‘also are one’. Until this union takes place, they are ‘not of me’, that is to say, their existence is strictly limited in time. Knowing this, Isa, the soul, suffers; even while Asar, the will-seed, is poured forth in his adoration of the objectified symbol, that will remains isolated.

It is an error to interpret the Thelemic law of ‘love under will’ as mere manipulation, or an application of a mechanical science. The consequence of Eros, the desire principle, is Thanatos or death as finality. Secreted in the subtle body of woman is a reflection of the matrix of cosmic emanations, in universal terms, the ‘golden thread’ or essence that must be followed. As declared in I: 52,

If this be not aright; if ye confound the space-marks, saying: They are one; or saying, They are many; if the ritual be not ever unto me: then expect the direful judgments of Ra Hoor Khuit!

Such judgments are indeed “direful”, for even at the ‘action’ stage of development, where ritual is influenced by desire, there remains the very real possibility of being led astray. The soul knows this, but the will of the ego-self has the power to contract itself, to concentrate all desire upon the objectified result, which means death for the soul.

The fundamental importance of the feminine love principle (not to be confused with desire per se), and indeed the proper function of the woman, the priestess of the rites, was expressed but heavily veiled in the Christian Gospel narrative. It was veiled for the reason that by the time the narratives were composed, women had been excluded from the temples and rites, the greater part of knowledge completely forgotten. Therefore, those that follow degraded, inferior notions of sexual magic are bound to the outcomes of profane science, which is no different than black arts or sorcery. By ‘black’ we mean blind, ignorant or dumb—without real knowledge.

Esoteric Thelema Notes

1. The complete ‘Lapis Philosophorum’ treatise, with annotations, is set forth in Babalon Unveiled! Thelemic Monographs. This is the foundation of Esoteric Thelema.
2. This section is an expansion of the ideas of R. A. Schwaller de Lubicz as expressed in Symbol and the Symbolic (1951, Cairo).

© Oliver St. John 2018, 2022 (revised)

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