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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Babalon Unveiled! Thelemic Monographs

Babalon Unveiled! We are pleased to announce the release of this long-awaited book. This collection of 36 monographs serves as a well-rounded introduction to the Law of Thelema. It is also a luminous esoteric study to widen the horizons of those familiar with the rationalist explanations that have prevailed until now.

Babalon Unveiled! Book Cover from Babalon Unveiled! Thelemic Monographs‘Lapis Philosophorum’ redefines the magical philosophy of Thelema, liberating it from the accretions of the past as well as those of the modern age. The philosophy of the West only understands consciousness in terms of a supreme demiurge, pristinely ‘one’ and therefore alone, or as the isolating confinement of the self as its own God in its own reality. Both points of view posit an atomistic intelligence that cannot be. They excuse the impossibility of the premise by insisting that true reality can never be known. They allure the faithful with promises of a hereafter reward for those obedient to dogma or otherwise draw the proud ones with the glamour of unlimited power in self-created worlds. Both projections are based on the paranoia of self-isolation.

Babalon, Lion of Truth

While the text of the (Egyptian) Book of the Law transmission carries great value for some, for most it will remain a disturbing enigma. The Law of Thelema will not be grasped by intellect alone, or by merely studying the text of the Cairo transmission, yet the doctrine can be explained in clear and simple terms. For those so prepared, and that are willing to translate thought into action, full activation of the 93 Current is possible. This was expressed in the language of the alchemists as the ‘philosophic stone’. The mode of thought is not the stone itself, for the stone is a symbol. All thought is symbolic. Consciousness is.

Babalon Unveiled! Rose Edith Kelly, Ouarda the Seer The book is dedicated to the memory of Rose Edith Kelly, Ouarda the Seer. Rose was the medium and intelligence for the transmission activated through the Stele of Revealing in the Cairo museum in 1904.

‘Babalon Unveiled!’ forms the centrepiece of this collection and is one of seven related studies on the mystery of the Scarlet Woman. Each shows an aspect of her oracular voice as it has been heard and recorded down the ages. The use of the word meretrix over time reveals how the oracular word was sold into prostitution when the patriarchal death cults of religion and science superseded the old ways. ‘Angels of Sacred Dance, Love and Whoredom’ examines how the divine feminine of pre-religious antiquity was demonised, resulting in a host of ‘fallen angels’ whose identity is yet preserved, albeit under a heavy veil in traditional Qabalistic texts.

View / order book from the author’s website here

Format: 6 x 9 hardbound dustjacket; blue linen boards; gold foil stamp lettering on spine; black on cream pages, white end-papers.


Notes

Read abridgement of the monograph, Babalon Unveiled! here at Tantrika Books.
Read abridgement of the Esoteric Doctrine of Thelema here at Ordo Astri.

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Liber 364 Spells from Egyptian Papyri

The practical use of these spells or magical invocations is more or less identical to that of the better-known Graeco Egyptian papyrus called the ‘Bornless Ritual’. That use is defined poetically as the ‘Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel’. This work is also to prepare us for the ultimate crossing or passing through the duat, which is the overcoming of physical death in the miracle of the soul’s resurrection and transcendence.

Weighing of the Heart from Papyrus of Ani

In our desire to understand the wisdom of Egypt, we tend to draw Egypt into the sphere of our modern mentality. But our effort will bear no fruit unless we pierce that sphere and try to draw nearer to Egypt.[1]

The Egyptian Book of the Dead is more correctly ‘The Book of Coming Forth into Light’. According to Bika Reed, ‘The Book of the Dead Man’ was a name coined by tomb robbers.[2] Egyptologists have used the term ever since, for reasons best known to themselves. They are entirely unable to translate Egyptian sacred texts meaningfully but will not admit the fact, or if they do, they will deny that anyone else can do it either. Most commonly, they will say the confusion in their literal word-by-word translations is the fault of the ‘primitive’ ancient Egyptians, who did not know what they were doing. They assume that the language of hieroglyphics could only be used to convey simple ideas. On the contrary, the ancient Egyptian language includes poetry and prose. The meaning may be construed literally, when that is required, or metaphorically.

This article is abridged from the introduction to ‘Liber 364 vel Lux Occulta’, from the book, Babalon Unveiled! Thelemic Monographs.

There are three levels of the mysteries.

1. The literal or simple sense, where concrete meaning is applied to the symbol.
2. The allegorical or symbolic sense, which requires study and learning to master.
3. The gnostic sense, which requires prolonged meditation. The symbol is followed back to its source with all other symbols, through reversal of the consciousness current. Analogous thought is a means of approaching direct knowledge.

Spells for Eternity

The E.A. Wallis Budge translation, famously The Egyptian Book of the Dead or Papyrus of Ani (1895), was first published seven years after the British Museum acquired the 18th Dynasty papyrus that makes up a large part of the text.[3] Early Egyptologists assumed the name ‘Ani’ to be that of an ecclesiastical dignitary of the priesthood of Aunnu (Heliopolis) that produced the funerary papyrus. The name actually means ‘anyone’—it is clearly in the plural form! The idea, as with any oath or magical spell, is to insert our own name in the place of ‘N’ if we are going to use it for sacred or magical purposes. The great usefulness of the Budge presentation is that it is threefold. The top line is a transliteration into English with some phonetic keys. The middle line is a beautiful copy of the hieroglyphic text. The lower line renders Budge’s attempt to make some sense of it all through word-by-word translation. This has enabled our prose translation and commentary on three selected spells. The difficulty in translation becomes apparent when we consider there are countless ways to spell one word in Egyptian; even the same spelling of a word may convey as many shades of meaning.

It may seem strange that some short sentences in the papyrus often have long explanations in the commentary. However, those ‘short sentences’ relate to definite mythological themes and yield sense only through them. To appreciate the development of the argument and therefore the depth of its conclusion, one must understand how these mythological themes relate to the papyrus. It is through such long explanations that we arrive at a consistent interpretation; they therefore prove themselves necessary.[4]

Bika Reed, in producing the only initiated translation of a complete Egyptian sacred text to date, has shed a great deal of light on what has previously been a very dark area. She has opened the ways for us. Her method is to take the literal Egyptological rendition and compare it side by side with all the variations of meaning given in the hieroglyphic dictionary. By applying her knowledge of the hieroglyphics and deep understanding of the mythological basis—without which, nothing can be achieved as these are profoundly sacred texts—Reed was able to produce the first meaningful translation of Egyptian prose. The text cannot be interpreted on a word by word or even a line-by-line basis. It is only when the context of the whole is taken into consideration that a small light begins to glow in the night of obscurity—a light that grows in intensity if the person is receptive to the initiatic ancient Egyptian current. Conditions being suitable, previously unknown faculties are awakened in the mind of the translator.

Spells 80, 78 and 84 Translated

We began this present work with the spell numbered 80 by Budge, ‘Making the transformation into the God who giveth Light in the Darkness’. It later transpired that Spell 80 was the correct place to begin such a work—which seems obvious now but it certainly was not when we made the first draft some fifteen years ago, not as a linguistic exercise but for practical use. We agree with Bika Reed that such texts had more than one use, and that originally at least—for they were edited and recopied over thousands of years—their use was initiatic. The Papyrus of Ani was produced, according to Budge, during the second half of the 18th Dynasty, a relatively late time in the long history of the ancient Egyptian civilisation.[5] Scribes and others entitled to full funeral rites would believe in the power of magical words and spells to secure a passage in the afterlife. Thus the papyrus was treated much in the way of a talisman. The use of such texts as initiatory devices involves memorising the words and images. Thus in speaking forth the words, the appropriate images are at the same time invoked. With much practice, the visualisation technique is not required as such, for the words automatically summon the images and the powers associated with them.

Spells of the Papyrus of Ani

By the time the Papyrus of Ani was created, the popular cult of Osiris had become dominant over all of Egypt; the far more ancient Setian gnosis was preserved through secret orders of priests such as the cult of Mentu at Thebes, from whence the Stele of Revealing. The gnosis is preserved throughout the texts of the Papyrus of Ani, however, as with the Pyramid Texts. Most persons wished only to continue a dreaming life in the underworld. This was achieved through familial offerings and observances made to the Ka double at the mastaba tomb. This life in the underworld was seen as being much like the life lived on earth, though in an idealised form, consisting of rest, pleasure and recreation. Indeed, the underworld, Yetzirah, is a kind of mirror reflection or image of the terrestrial life, Assiah. In the (Egyptian) Book of the Law, Liber AL vel Legis, I: 49, the duality is likened to Osiris and Isis who are “not of me” (i.e., Nuit-Hadit), existing in symbiotic relationship.

Abrogate are all rituals, all ordeals, all words and signs. Ra-Hoor-Khuit hath taken his seat in the East at the Equinox of the Gods; and let Asar be with Isa, who also are one. But they are not of me. Let Asar be the adorant, Isa the sufferer; Hoor in his secret name and splendour is the Lord initiating.

The spelling of the name of Horus, ‘Hoor’, occurs in this passage uniquely. Hoor has the numerical value of 217, equal to Set (Σηθ). This is the “secret name and splendour” of Horus in the form of Mentu or Set, the Lord of Initiation. Aiwass, the intelligence that communicated the Book of the Law, would have it known that he was revealing a secret doctrine known only to a few—and not the doctrine of the Osirians. Set and Horus are a dual form of Nuit’s only begotten child—for she requires no paternal intervention to manifest her star or ‘son’. Hadit is Nuit’s power of manifestation or self-realisation. The key to this secret doctrine becomes clear if we consider the nature of Set, whose number is 217.

Set … embodies the principles of dividing, cleaving, breaking, slaying and reversing. Set is the means of ingress and egress between the worlds, and of passing backwards and forwards between time and eternity. Set is the ‘slayer of the real’ who breaks the circle of infinity to beget creation. Conversely, Set moves through creation as the destroyer perpetually annihilating the forms he created out of chaos. His dwelling place is the desert, the burning and transforming expanse of the Abyss in which knowledge and the contents of mind turn to dust. Set is the double; he is always where consciousness, embodied by his twin brother Horus, is not. Thus he drives consciousness forwards—which may mean backwards, depending on one’s point of view![6]

At Thebes in Upper Egypt, the dual form of Horus and Set was personified in one figure as Mentu. The principal cult of Thebes was that of Amoun, Mut and Khonsu—known as the Theban triad. The local deity Mentu, who appeared as a warrior god in the form of Horus, or as a lunar god, hawk-headed, at other times the serpent Apep, continued to be honoured. The ancient Egyptians never adopted monotheism save for the brief twenty-year reign of the profane ruler Akhenaten, who forcibly imposed his belief on them.

The Osirians hoped to cheat the second death by the ineffable power of words and spells, the sacred rites. By that time this included animal sacrifices, expensive unguents, professional mourners and two or more officiating priests to perform the opening of the mouth ceremony at the door of the tomb. The ‘second death’, or dispersion of the astral body following physical death, could then be averted and the Ka of the deceased live on as Osiris, coming and going as he pleased. His domain, though, like that of Osiris, was strictly limited to the underworld. If the offerings of flowers, cakes, meat and beer were discontinued, the Ka became an astral vampire.

Egyptian Spells: Bennu bird drawn by Jeff-Dahl

Initiates, however, learn the secret power of rectification or VITRIOL.[7] They have overcome, while in their life on earth, the state of thraldom where the magnetic power of the underworld moves them in any given direction. The power is thereby made subject to the True Will (Thelema). It is the Holy Guardian Angel, not the person, who works the magick of transmutation on the soul whereby the twin serpents of kundalini are woven into the eternal starlight of Nuit.[8]

The three spells we have translated, Spell 80, 78 and 84, are all located, mythically speaking at least, in the North of Egypt. The North was the region of the watery lakes and canals of the Delta. The Delta uniquely symbolises the place of birth of all things from the primordial abyss. At the same time it symbolises the second birth of Horus, as all-transcendent spiritualised soul, and his flight to the immeasurable regions. The spells are concerned with the ultimate resurrection of the soul to an immortal life in ‘heaven’ or eternity.


Notes

1. Rebel in the Soul, Bika Reed, pp. 89. The author’s initiated translation and commentary on the Berlin Papyrus 3024, assisted by Lucy Lamy [Inner Traditions International, 1978].
2. Pp. 89 [ibid].
3. The Egyptian Book of the Dead, E.A. Wallis Budge.
4. Rebel in the Soul, pp. 105 [ibid].
5. 1500–1400 BCE.
6. See The Flaming Sword Sepher Sephiroth, Volume One [Ordo Astri].
7. Visitae Interiora Terrae Rectificando Invenies Occultum Lapidum.
8. Kundalini is a Sanskrit term for the dual operation of the life force that carries consciousness. It is also a name of the divine feminine power or Shakti. According to the Tantras, when Kundalini sleeps she weaves the dream of world appearance. When she awakens the illusion is destroyed and Reality obtains.

© Oliver St. John 2018
Bennu Bird and Egyptian Wings drawings by Jeff Dahl
Hall of Judgement from Book of the Dead, courtesy of British Museum

This article is abridged from the introduction to ‘Liber 364 vel Lux Occulta’ from the book, Babalon Unveiled! Thelemic Monographs [Ordo Astri].

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