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.
The 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. 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.
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. 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.
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.
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. Thereafter, Aiwass mocks Crowley’s presumption.
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’.
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.
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’. Together, these are the four faces of Nuit defining the magical circle of the place. The magician is Hadit, the exorcist in the midst.
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.
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