The sapphire or ‘blue hour’ is a phase that occurs during the twilight of dusk or dawn. The sun’s orb is partially but significantly immersed in the underworld, below the horizon. The sky then takes on a deeper shade of blue than in daytime—as blue as a sapphire.
We are nearing the end of the Kali Yuga but the way of knowledge is exacting. We here examine and dispose of some of the most commonplace delusions to be found within the cults of Thelema today, as well as in the wider streams of psychology, the occult, the pretended spirituality of the New Age movement and associated therapeutic and other industries.
The Wisdom Sapphire
Sapphire 1. ‘All is Illusion.’
Source: misunderstanding of Eastern traditions.
This notion automatically tends towards nihilism, and so to death as finality. The (Egyptian) Book of the Law, III: 2, rescues us from such peril, for “all is not aught”. That is to say, ‘all is not to be construed as nothing’. Also, in II: 9, “there is that which remains”. The ‘that’ which remains is not at all ‘nothing’. All appearance is the Form of the Formless. The Formless, or absence of sense-objects, is not a ‘nothing’. God, or the absolute, is both Form and Formlessness, and furthermore, is beyond these.
Sapphire 2. ‘In the beginning, or at the root of all, is nothing or nothingness. The nothing concentrates to form one (Kether), which is the source of all things.’
Source: misunderstanding of Qabalah.
The relation of Da’ath to the supernal triad explains how the Tree of Life is a simultaneous ‘effect’ or appearance, evoked by Will (or Hadit). Da’ath is called the child of Chokmah and Binah, but it is not a sephira. One may understand it as the apex of a tetrahedronal pyramid of which the first three numbers form the base. The AIN, from which depends the Tree of Life and its inverse reflection, the Tree of Knowledge or Death, is called ‘Nothing’ but something cannot come out of nothing. Either this is a misunderstanding of the Qabalah, or the Qabalah itself has a peculiar cosmological (i.e., non-metaphysical) basis, owing to its dependence on biblical ‘creation’. The unmanifest principle necessarily contains all possibilities of manifestation.
—See Nu Hermetica, ‘The End is with the Beginning’, for a more detailed explanation.
Sapphire 3. ‘The Qliphoth is a key to higher or more advanced initiation.’
Source: The works of Kenneth Grant.
Grant used the term ‘Qliphoth’ in both the particular sense, as relating to demons, as defined by their name, character or signature, and in the universal sense, as all things that appear whatsoever (Malkuth). The ambiguous use of symbolism is one of the elementary skills of the anti-initiatic movement. Grant developed the idea that all Qliphoth, ‘evil shells of matter’, are masks of emptiness or absence. Through quite ordinary and inferior magical means, such as evocation, one might somehow attain what might otherwise take years of yoga practice—or that is the implication, and the way that many persons have taken this. It is nothing but an outwardly more intelligent form of diabolism such as may suit the antiquarian or art collector with time on his hands.
The evocation of demons or ‘spirits’ forms part of the repertoire of magical practices and is far more dangerous than modern day practitioners can even imagine, owing to their psychological way of thinking about everything. The magician easily becomes enslaved by blind forces. Such spirits cannot possibly convey knowledge of spiritual matters and cannot be relied on in any matter at all. The ‘Tunnels of Set’ were an invention of Grant, a work of evocation that he carried out over many years (Typhonian Trilogies). Entering these tunnels, as Grant defined them, is to enter a dream world, more or less nightmarish, that Grant conjured with the help of an obscure writing by Aleister Crowley on the Tarot trumps and their paths, Liber 231. The ‘real’ Tunnels of Set are pathways between the stars, ultimately leading beyond the stars. These were symbolised in Egyptian hieroglyphics; they adorn the interior of certain pyramids and tombs. They lead out of the underworld, not into it. The tunnels of Kenneth Grant lead into the underworld of his creation, and provide no means of escape thereby.
Sapphire 4. ‘The Qabalah is primarily useful in producing magical formulae. A magical formula may be a key to more advanced levels of initiation.’
Source: The works of Aleister Crowley.
Example: a formula means ‘form; shape or mould’. The arithmetical 2 + 2 = 4 can be a formula if we apply it thus: 2 + 2 = 4; 4 + 4 = 8; 8 + 8 = 16 … Whenever we add a number to the value of itself, the result is always twice that first number. The first number is always half of the result of the addition. Such a reliable formula, however simple or complex, can have practical uses. It is not a key to anything esoteric such as ‘initiation’ or ‘will’.
Sapphire 5. ‘My aim is to do my True Will. Your aim is to do your True Will. It is possible that I could assist you to do your True Will. It is possible I could hinder or obstruct you from doing your True Will.’
Source: misunderstanding the Law of Thelema.
The notion is also propagated through the reductionism of Crowley. He wrote an instruction called Liber OZ, in which he put forward the absurd notion that other people might hinder or obstruct a person’s True Will, or their ‘right’ to do their True Will. Thelema and Agape, Will and Love, are equal and cognate terms. The True Will is not a thing that can be acquired or possessed. No one can take away your True Will. No one can obstruct or hinder it. The True Will is in reality no different than that of the supreme principle that orders and governs the universe. In the East it is called dharma. It cannot be changed or altered by any individual and in fact the principle Itself is immutable.
(i) Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law. This is not the same as, ‘Do what you will shall be the whole of the Law’. ‘Do what you will’ expresses the causal determinism of philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer. The Will is esoteric. The ‘Effect’ (or appearance) is exoteric. Thus we have it in the Book of the Law, II: 4:
Yet she [Nuit] shall be known and I [Hadit] never.
It is not possible to know one’s (personal) True Will, for as soon as it is known, it is no longer Will but effect or appearance. The Will is esoteric, for it is the consciousness principle itself, otherwise Hadit or Atma as termed in the Hindu doctrines. Hadit cannot be known when he is the Knower, but in fact the Knower and the Known are transcended in the knowledge of the supreme principle.
(ii) Love is the law, love under will. Would we say, “It is my aim to do my True Love”? ‘Love’ may be a verb, the verb ‘to love’, but we do not think of doing love. We can ‘make love’, but that describes an action of sensual pleasure; we know (innately) that love cannot really be made or created. Love simply is. Consciousness is. Will is. Hadit, the analogous point in the circle, determines the exoteric (‘known’) circumference or circle. Yet the existence of Hadit owes entirely to the circle. The two principles are simultaneous.
(iii) It is foolish therefore to think in the following terms:
“I am working in a job that I really hate. Therefore I cannot be doing my True Will.” Or otherwise, “The works of Franz Schubert carried his unique signature; he was (therefore) doing his True Will.”
The True Will is not about vocation or jobs of work; it is not about the production of forms, such as with works of art, however beautiful. To imagine that it is means suffering a considerable burden—a burden that is completely unnecessary. The Will is esoteric. The ‘effect’ is exoteric. The job of work that one does, the works of art that one produces, the words that we speak or write, all actions that we perform whatsoever, are ‘the known’, that is, the ‘effect’, which is exoteric. Such are “not of me” or Hadit (I: 49).
Sapphire 6. ‘The purpose of magick is for healing and empowerment.’
Source: misunderstanding of the Christian Gospel narrative and the older folk traditions (‘healing’). Misunderstanding of the nature of power (‘empowerment’). This also arises from nineteenth and twentieth century occultism where only the body and mind is recognised as having any existence at all. It is as though body and mind are self-caused, without any higher principle involved.
The king and the land are one. When the king is ailing, the land is impoverished; the people suffer. The question is asked of the king, “What ails thee, o king?” This begins the quest for the Holy Graal. The king sends his knights out on the errand to find the sum bonum or stone of the wise. The question is never answered, for the will is esoteric, the ‘effect’ (or appearance of things) is exoteric. Thus the Graal is not a remedy as such; it is the stone of the wise or sum total of all knowledge. The stone or seed principle (Atma) may only be expressed through symbol and allegory. If the symbol is objectified, then ‘the king dies’.
In the lucrative field of pop psychology, feeling good about oneself is an objectified (therefore false) Graal, and is frequently even confused with ‘spirituality’. Modern thinking only values pursuits, achievements and goals such as ‘self-worth’, or the acquiring of material wealth and status. Most often this derives from the deterministic scale of feeling good and feeling bad, called ‘Maslow’s Pyramid’. At the summit of the pyramid is the goal of ‘self-actualisation’. The self-fulfilled, self-willed, intellectually self-satisfied and morally complacent individual attains the pinnacle. At the base of the pyramid is physical need, necessity. Sometimes an inverse pyramid of ‘low self-esteem’ is placed below to show negativity. Belief in this doctrine leads the person to become isolated from others and imprisoned by the very beliefs that led them to seek ‘healing’ in the first place. The doctrine also leads to another abortive child of the New Age, called ‘positive thinking’. This encourages self-suppression through hypnosis.
‘Self-empowerment’ is as impossible as self-initiation. How can the self give to the self? ‘Empowerment’ actually means to give or convey power to another. Therefore when a consultant, for example, pretends to help a person become ‘empowered’, power is transferred to the professional.
Sapphire 7. ‘Reincarnation’.
Source: misunderstanding of Eastern and other traditions. It is a modern invention. The notion was started by the French spiritist (or spiritualist) movement in the late eighteenth century and was later spread to America and England through the propaganda of the Thesophical Society.
Reincarnation is a persistent and popular lie, for it promises a kind of immortality in the flesh. The mutant version of metempsychosis, or reincarnation, became increasingly popular in the Western world from the time of Madame Blavatsky’s Theosophical Society and onwards. Even Greek scholars dispute that Plato, who wrote about it, accepted the doctrine as it has come to be understood. Hindu scholars assert that reincarnationism has never been a part of Hindu doctrine.
Sapphire 8. ‘Spiritual Evolution’.
Source: Scientism applied to theurgy. Evolutionism.
The notion that we may evolve spiritually, on the personal level, is derived from linear thinking, which imagines we may ‘progress’ forwards in time. The mystic goal of the soul’s liberation is not bound or defined by temporal considerations—when that is done, the matter is objectified, the ‘king is dead’. The knowledge path requires that we follow the symbol back to its source with the infinite.
Cosmic pretension concerning impersonal evolution was a failing of twentieth century occultists—for thereby they succumbed to megalomania. To imagine that Thelema—as a religion—might supersede the existing world religions and put everything to rights is plainly absurd. Such attempts at unification based on uniformity have always succeeded only in creating more human misery and suffering through division and conflict.
Sapphire 9. ‘You create your own reality’.
Source: Schopenhauer, The World as Will and Representation (1818).
Crowley and his followers have accepted Schopenhauer’s rationalist argument in defining the ‘True Will’. As a consequence, we now have a commercial brand of ‘Thelema’ that is acceptable to some academics, yet which has nothing to do with any spiritual path.
The basis, that the entire world is an appearance, having no essential reality in itself, is a gross simplification and distortion of the Eastern doctrines. It bears little or no relation with any established historical tradition other than Greek rational argument, especially that of the Stoics. Here, the (human) will is perceived in terms of causal determinism. Schopenhauer’s doctrine states that everything that appears in nature does so by an act of will. The will is independent of knowledge, which is ‘secondary’ (as caused by will). Knowledge is not therefore required for will to manifest. The will is the only thing-in-itself, the “sole truly real, primary, metaphysical thing in a world in which everything else is only appearance, i.e., mere representation”. The will therefore, “gives all things, whatever they may be, the power to exist and to act”. Since this will is a blind force, there is automatically a need for ethical values. Previously, such a will-force was ascribed only to God or the divine absolute. Schopenhauer famously declared: “The world is my representation.” Occultists through to the present times have generally adopted the concept. Both Nietzsche and later Crowley rejected, however, the notion that desire begets suffering. They therefore sought to remove entirely the ethical requirement and simplify Schopenhauer’s invented doctrine still further. This paved the way for the postmodern Left-hand path school of thought and magical practice, which, when taken to the logical extreme, produces the self-confining, self-limiting doctrine of Isolate Intelligence.
Sapphire 10. ‘Magick is a system of belief’.
Source: popular myth, propagated through journalism, mostly online but in many modern book publications since the late 1980s; hypnotism and ‘psychological occultism’.
Magick is a particular form of traditional science that rests on knowledge, not belief.
The notion that one can effect magical change through ‘suspension of disbelief’, i.e., to believe something to be true that one knows to be absurd, achieves nothing but the magnification of existing delusion. Such magick, practiced in ignorance, is auto-suggestion and no more.
Sapphire 11. ‘Sex is the stone of the wise and key of all knowledge.’
Source: Crowley and many other writers and thinkers that have fallen for the hoax.
… let Asar be with Isa, who also are one. But they are not of me. Let Asar be the adorant, Isa the sufferer …
When outcome or result is generated by manipulation of physiological function (‘sexual magick’), the verse quoted above 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, the soul (Isa) suffers; even while the will-seed (Asar) is poured forth in 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, an application of a mechanical science. The consequence of Eros (the desire principle) is Thanatos or death as finality.
Sapphire 12. Entheogens (psychotropic plants, etc.) produce altered states that are spiritual and initiatory.
Source: ignorance; misunderstanding of folk-loric traditions (‘shamanism’); much literature in the last century, beginning with some of the works of Crowley, who saw no difference between yogic samadhi (‘union with God’) and altered states of consciousness that might be obtained by ‘anyone’ through resort to hashish, mescaline, etc.
The material rationalist seeks a physical cause for everything. Thus, a ‘vision of God’, for example might be thought to be ‘caused’ by a chemical change in the body. Such a change must therefore be caused in turn by something else. Taking any drug, be it synthetic or from a natural plant source, will effect changes in the body’s chemistry, as does the consumption of food, drink, anything whatsoever. Physical substances affect physical things, such as chemistry, hormones. The experiences that may be gained through the use of psychotropic plants are extremely persuasive; very powerful visions may occur, though the nature and quality of these will differ greatly according to each individual. The ignorant person will encounter what they may truly believe to be tremendous spiritual insights. Others may experience no more than a play of light and colour, finding it insignificant, an exotic form of entertainment. A person with a fragile, disordered psyche might experience terrifying, disturbing hallucinations, and so forth. There is nothing truly spiritual in any of this. The power of such visions is that of persuading the person that there is. The altered state, even the impressive change in perception that may be produced through the use of psychotropic plants, is no more than the observation of an effect in the body.
1. We paraphrase here the wisdom of Swami Ramakrishna (Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna).
2. The World as Will and Representation (1818).
3. Crowley notably put this idea across in his published diary record, John St. John.
© Oliver St. John 2019, 2022 (revised)