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Background to Thelema

Thelema is a philosophical/mystical/religious system.  It was founded in 1904 by the English poet and mystic Aleister Crowley (1875 - 1947), who is regarded as its prophet.  Those who follow the path of Thelema are called Thelemites.  Many argue both for and against this religion which was developed in the first half of the 20th century by Aleister Crowlley.  It is a complex mystical path designed to do two interrelated things:

  • to learn one's unique True Will
  • to achieve union with the Divine
The set of techniques for doing so falls under Crowley's term ‘Magick’, which draws upon various disciplines and mystical models, including Yoga, Western ceremonial ritual (especially invocations and eucharistic ceremony), Kabbalah, along with several divination systems, in particular, Astrology and the Tarot - see further below.

In Liber LXI vel Causae (Item 2 in the Preliminary Lection), Crowley tells us, "In all systems of religion is to be found a system of Initiation, which may be defined as the process by which a man comes to learn that unknown Crown.  Though none can communicate either the knowledge or the power to achieve this, which we may call the Great Work, it is yet possible for initiates to guide others."

Consequently, before taking a closer look at the principles and teachings of Aleister Crowley's Religion/Philosophy of Thelema and how it came into being, it is essential to understand Magick and what purpose it serves according to the Master Therion.  In addition, and just as importantly, we need to understand what is meant by Ceremonial/Ritual Magick, what it involves, and why.  This, of course, includes Enochian Magick, a system which, after he discovered its existence, played a significant role in Crowley's workings of the art.

The path to mystical attainment or enlightenment was initially developed by Crowley from 1904 CE largely based on the meditation/mystical techniques found in Buddhism and the Tree of Life, examined by Eliphas Lévi in the 19th century and later by various members of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn.  In 1904, Crowley claimed to have transcribed The Book of the Law, which he eventually called the central sacred text of Thelema, heralding a new Aeon for mankind.  He received this text via ‘direct-voice transmission’ from a 'praeterhuman intelligence' called Aiwass while on honeymoon in Cairo.

Between 1907 and 1911, Crowley wrote a series of other small texts which he considered to be ‘inspired’ in that they were written through him rather than by him; these were later collected together and termed the Holy Books of Thelema.  The final text added to the list was The Vision and the Voice, a vivid account of Crowley's astral travels through the thirty Enochian Aethyrs.  These texts formed the final mystical backbone of Crowley's system.

Essential Practices

Within Crowley’s system of Thelema, the core task for the adept is the discovery and manifestation of ‘Will’, defined at times as a grand destiny and at others as ‘a moment-to-moment path of action that operates in perfect harmony with Nature’.  This Will does not spring from conscious intent, but from the interplay between the deepest Self and the entire Universe.  Therefore, the enlightened Thelemite is one who is able to eliminate or bypass the consciousness-created desires, conflicts, and habits, and tap directly into the Self/Universe link.  Theoretically, at this point, he/she acts in alignment with Nature, just as the stream flows downhill, with neither resistance nor lust of result.


Another key element to Thelemic mysticism is the ability to concentrate.  This skill has two modes: the first is the rapid, accurate, and efficient movement of thought (which is the realm of magick) and the other is the stopping of thought altogether (which is accomplished in Yoga).  In the first, it is the manipulation of all ideas into one idea, and in the second is the taking of that one thought and reducing it to nothing.  Of this skill, Crowley writes: “For concentration does indeed unlock all doors; it lies at the heart of every practice as it is of the essence of all theory; and almost all the various rules and regulations are aimed at securing adeptship in this matter”.  All the subsidiary work -- awareness, one-pointedness, mindfulness and the rest -- is intended to train you to this.

Body of Light & Astral Travel

The Body of Light (Crowley's term for the subtle body) is the theoretical aspect of self that can leave the corporeal body and carry one's senses and consciousness during astral travels.  Crowley writes of it in Book 4: "The work of the Body of Light -- with the technique of Yoga -- is the foundation of Magick."

“The Body of Light must be developed and trained with exactly the same rigid discipline as the brain in the case of mysticism.  The essence of the technique of Magick is the development of the Body of Light, which must be extended to include all members of the organism, and indeed of the cosmos … The object is to possess a Body which is capable of doing easily any particular task that may lie before it.  There must be no selection of special experience which appeals to one's immediate desire.  One must go steadily through all possible pylons.”

Milestones Within the A∴A∴System

Crowley often wrote that every adept's path will be unique.  He also wrote that two major milestones are fundamental to Thelemic mysticism, which he called the knowledge of and conversation with one's Holy Guardian Angel and the crossing of the Abyss, "These two, the Angel and the Abyss, are necessary features in every career.  The other tasks are not always accomplished in any given order."

The Holy Guardian Angel

Even though the Holy Guardian Angel is, in a sense, the ‘higher self’, it is often experienced as a separate ‘being’, independent from the adept. In the system of the A?A?, the single most important goal is to consciously connect with one’s Holy Guardian Angel, a process termed ‘Knowledge and Conversation’. By doing so, the magician becomes fully aware of his own True Will, which for Crowley, was the single most important goal of any adept: “It should never be forgotten for a single moment that the central and essential work of the Magician is the attainment of the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel.  Once he has achieved this he must of course be left entirely in the hands of that Angel, who can be invariably and inevitably relied upon to lead him to the further great step – the crossing of the Abyss and the attainment of the grade of Master of the Temple.”

Crossing the Abyss

After attaining Knowledge and Conversation of one’s Holy Guardian Angel, the adept may choose to reach the next major milestone, the crossing of the Abyss.  This is the great gulf or void between the phenomenal world of manifestation and its noumenal source, that great spiritual wilderness which must be crossed by the adept to attain mastery.

“This doctrine is extremely difficult to explain; but it corresponds more or less to the gap in thought between the Real, which is Actual, and the Unreal, which is Ideal.  In the Abyss all things exist, indeed, at least in posse, but are without any possible meaning; for they lack the substratum of spiritual Reality.  They are appearances without Law.  They are thus Insane Delusions.”

Choronzon is the Dweller in the Abyss; he is there as the final obstruction.  If he is met with the proper preparation, then he is there to destroy the ego, which allows the adept to move beyond the Abyss.  If unprepared, then the unfortunate traveller will be utterly dispersed into annihilation.  Both Choronzon and the Abyss are discussed in Crowley's Confessions (ch. 66).

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What is Magick?

Magic or more properly Magick is the attempt 'to control the present', our lives, the lives of others, or events of nature.  It is associated with all kinds of paranormal and occult phenomena, including, but not limited to, ESP, astral projection, psychic healing, Wicca, Kabbalah and Satanism.  It uses various symbols, for example, the pentagram, as well as a variety of symbolic amulets, talismans and ceremonial or ritual behaviours aimed at achieving powers which allow the magician to contravene the laws of physics, chemistry, etc.  In parapsychology, magick is often defined as 'the study and application of psychic forces and/or energy'.

Although magick can contravene the laws of physics, it is not capable of violating any physical laws of the universe by producing miracles, i.e., it cannot cause a solar eclipse or the reversal of gravity, but through harnessing and using the hidden psychic forces and energy of the universe it is theoretically possible to cause any change in any object of which that object is capable of change by nature.

Modern magick as we now understand it had its roots partly in Alchemy, which attempted to methodise ways to achieve certain tasks such as healing and making wealth (the wizardry employed in transforming base metals into gold).  One of the most famous alchemists during the 16th century CE was undoubtedly Paracelsus (1493 - 1541), pictured left, although he strongly believed in spiritual alchemy and thought that the purpose of alchemy was not to transmute metals, but to cure disease.  Another renowned personality who was also an alchemist was Sir Isaac Newton (1642 - 1727), pictured right.  It is now quite obvious that the inspiration for his outstanding scientific work on light and gravity derived from his obsession with alchemy, and it has even been suggested that he actually succeeded in transmuting lead to gold!  If he really did, then I'm going in search of that formula!

Do not confuse magick with magic, which is simply the art of conjuring and legerdemain.  The 'k', in the spelling of 'magick' was originally used many centuries ago, but went out of existence until it was revived by Aleister Crowley (pictured left), probably the most celebrated occultist of the 20th century.  He defined magick as 'the science and art of causing change to occur in conformity with the will.'  By this, he included mundane acts of will as well as Ritual Magick.  In Magick in Theory and Practice he says:

"What is a Magical Operation?  It may be defined as any event in nature which is brought to pass by Will.  We must not exclude potato growing or banking from our definition.  Let us take a very simple example of a magical Act: that of a man blowing his nose.

What are the conditions of the success of the Operation?  Firstly, that the man's Will should be to blow his nose; secondly, that he should have a nose capable of being blown; thirdly, that he should have at command an apparatus capable of expressing his spiritual Will in terms of material force, and applying that force to the object which he desires to affect.  His Will may be as strong and concentrated as that of Jupiter, and his nose may be totally incapable of resistance; but unless the link is made by the use of his nerves and muscles in accordance with psychological, physiological, and physical law, the nose will remain unblown through all eternity."

The idea of being able to control such things as the weather or one's health simply by an act of will is certainly very appealing, as is the idea of being able to wreak havoc on one's enemies without having to lift a finger and thus not be incriminated.  Just think it and 'thy will be done'.  Stories of people with special powers are appealing, particularly if you read about the exploits of and the 'Confessions of Aleister Crowley', but for those contemplating becoming a magus consider this warning from a leading authority on the subject:

        ". . . magick ritual (or any magick or occultism) is very dangerous for the mentally unstable.  If you should somehow 'get out too far', eat 'heavy foods' . . . and use your religious background or old belief system for support.  But remember too, that weird experiences are not necessarily bad experiences."

The religions based on the Old and New Testaments have for centuries associated magick with 'false prophets', based upon the belief that Satan regularly exhibits his powers to, and shares those powers with us, mankind.  Using powers which contravene natural forces is classed as good if performed by or through God (white magick).  Such exhibitions of divine power are called miracles by the Church, but if performed by diabolical forces, they are classed as evil (black magick).  However, when prayer doesn't work, it means that the god has either chosen not to hear the prayer, or not to grant it, but when magick fails, it is because of some fault during the casting of the spell itself.  Ritual is not only the magician's 'failsafe mechanism', the key to any hope for success, but also the explanation for failure.

Everyone can do magick, but whichever type of magick you practice, the more you become aware of your own psychic energy and the use of actual energy flows, plus the more you actually practice your type of magick, the more proficient you will become and thus the more effective it will be.

You can produce a magical effect and never even realise you have done it, one such example being 'Always think positive'.  What is actually meant here is, what we truly want will always manifest itself into reality.  Magick works on the subconscious level, the level we tend to ignore, and our personal environment is always changing to match what we perceive as 'reality'.  These changes are subtle, but anyone attuned to their psychic energy will always be aware of them and understand why the rituals and spells they performed either worked or didn't.  This is because our true will will always be expressed, thus explaining why the saying 'always think positive' is actually a helpful one.  In addition to this is the concept of whatever you 'give out' will return.  Who remembers Glenn Hoddle's short reign as England's football team manager, when he expressed the same theory albeit in different terminology?

All magick stems from within, so any paraphernalia used in ceremonies and rituals are simply aids through which inner powers can be summoned.  The best way of influencing the subconscious into creating even more powerful magick is through positive thinking, i.e., suggestion and visualisation.  Advocates teach that the human mind has the power to turn wishes into reality.  Visualisation is extremely important and tremendously powerful if you wish to perform effective magick.  You must always visualise the desired outcome of your wish, but our subconscious minds will censor out what they believe should not be there because it doesn't conform to our beliefs!  A good analogy here is the reason why a person who has been hypnotised and given the suggestion to do physical harm to another, will not harm that other person because it is not 'perceived as right', unless he is a natural thug.  In other words, it is not in their nature to do so, i.e., it does not conform to that person's beliefs.  Even under hypnosis, a person cannot do what he or she does not believe in!  So in order to penetrate your subconscious mind you must use repetitions of suggestions until it becomes a part of your make-up, your identity, your model or belief system.  Repeating such a thing as 'I will stop smoking', is simple, but very effective once it has penetrated your subconscious, thus changing your 'model' or the way you believe in something.

Sigils (signs or images that are supposed to have magical power) work in the same manner.  If you have designed them, you are instilling your energy into the created symbol(s), and working the idea over and over again in your mind until it works automatically on your subconscious level.  But bear in mind that since your subconscious is always working, be mindful of your thoughts because your true will and desire will manifest itself, and what you send out will come back.  This is because any type of magick has both a cause and effect.

Elementals or familiars are thought forms which you can manifest by worked up emotion for your personal use to enhance a ritual or spell.  These thought forms are taken from your subconscious and have aspects of you, although they are detached from you.  They are something you create through visualisation rituals.  You can communicate with your elemental or familiar either through telepathy or by talking to it, and it will perform whatever task you set it providing you believe it can do it.  Because you have manifested it, it now exists!  Elementals or familiars are manifested to perform tasks for you such as being a psychic guard, but they should only be used when working white magick.

You can also invoke a spiritual entity or God or Goddess during a ritual.  These entities or Gods and Goddesses are archetypes from your mind and will also hold aspects of yourself.  You will perceive them in 'form' in the same manner in which you perceive them in your mind.  This technique involves drawing from your subconscious, just as it does with manifesting elementals and familiars.  It is the drawing of energy and creative visualisation from that part of your subconscious which is attuned to the astral world.  Energy is flowing constantly from the astral world to this physical world, so because the mind is an extremely powerful tool, you can manifest anything you wish into a reality.  We have all had times when we thought we 'saw' something, then dismissed it as illusory, but what we understand as our physical world interacts with all other worlds and dimensions as well, and thus we are all connected in some way -- maybe it wasn't an illusion after all!

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The Purpose of Magick

Aleister Crowley defined magick as the Science and Art of causing Change to occur in conformity with Will.  He also provided us with two further statements about the nature of magick -- as he defined it:
  • Every intentional Willed Act is a Magical Act.
  • Magick is the Science of understanding oneself and one's conditions, and the Art of applying that understanding in action.

Alphonse Louis Constant, known better as Eliphas Lévi, identified three fundamental principles of magic:

  • The material universe is only a small part of total reality, which includes many other planes and modes of consciousness.  Full knowledge and full power in the universe are only attainable through awareness of these other aspects of reality.  One of the most important of these levels or aspects of reality is the "astral light", a cosmic fluid which may be moulded by will into physical forms.
  • That human willpower is a real force, capable of achieving absolutely anything, from the mundane to the miraculous.
  • That the human being is a microcosm, a miniature of the macrocosmic universe, and the two are fundamentally linked.  Causes set in motion on one level may equally have effects on another.

For Crowley, the practice of magick is essentially to be used for attaining the Knowledge of and Conversation with one's Holy Guardian Angel.  As far as he was concerned, magick that did not have this goal as its aim was black magick and should be avoided.  He believed this was the first vital step necessary for spiritual attainment (See Liber VIII - How to attain the Mystery of the Knowledge of your Holy Guardian Angel).  To actually achieve this state with one's 'Silent Self' can be extremely arduous, so magick can be used not only to reach that particular goal, but also to clear the path for it.  For example, if someone needed a specific dwelling in a particular location to perform a magical operation, he or she could use magick as a legitimate means of obtaining it.

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The Techniques of Magick

There are several ways to look at what magick is actually comprised of. To reiterate, in its broadest sense it can be defined as any willed action leading to intended change. It should also be viewed as the general set of methods used to accomplish the Great Work of mystical attainment.  Magick often involves several practices and forms of ritual at the practical level, including:

Keeping a Magical Record

A magical record is a journal or similar source of documentation containing magical events, experiences, ideas, and any other information that the magician may see fit to add.  There can be many purposes for such a record, such as the recording of evidence to verify the effectiveness of specific procedures (as per the scientific method that Aleister Crowley claimed should be applied to the practice of magick) or to ensure that data may circulate after the lifetime of the magician.

The benefits of a magical record vary, but usually include future analysis and further education by the individual and/or associates to whom the magician feels comfortable in revealing such private information.  Crowley was highly insistent upon the importance of this practice, writing in Liber IX (also known as Liber E)::

"It is absolutely necessary that all experiments should be recorded in detail during, or immediately after their performance.  The more scientific the record is, the better.  Yet the emotions should be noted, as being some of the conditions.  Let then the record be written with sincerity and care; thus with practice it will be found more and more to approximate to the ideal."

Other items he suggests for inclusion in the magical record include the physical and mental condition of the experimenter, the time and place, and environmental conditions including the weather.

Magick Prayers, Spells & Fetishes

  • The Spell.  The magician asks for either a good or a bad deed, then, using the appropriate words in the right way, or possibly using his own words, casts the spell, with a variety of prayers.  Then follows the 'rite'.  This may be the destruction of a wax doll to harm a victim, placing pins or needles in a doll, using the hair of the victim or something the victim has used, or setting fire to something from a building to cause a fire in that place.  Alternatively, it may be the placing of hands on the sick, or someone who wants a better job, the sprinkling of water to make it rain, or a thunderstorm.

  • The Fetish.  Something is given to the client who uses it to ask for what he wants.  This may be a potion, herbs, a charm, a prayer, an amulet to wear around the neck, a ring, a crystal, or even poison.

Amulets / Talismans

An amulet (from the Latin 'amuletum'), meaning 'an object that protects a person from trouble' or a talisman (from the Arabic 'tilasm', ultimately from the Greek 'telesma' or 'talein') which means ‘to initiate into the mysteries’ consists of any object intended to bring good luck and/or protection to the owner.  Potential amulets include gems or simple stones, statues, coins, drawings, pendants, rings, plants, animals, etc.  A typical Christian example might be a crucifix or St Christopher pendant.

The purpose of a talisman is not simply to protect or to bring good fortune, but is used to achieve a particular objective. When unsuccessful in achieving its desired goal, the talisman is discarded, since it has proved itself not to have the powers required.

The Tree of Life

The Tree of Life is a tool used to organise and categorise various mystical concepts.  At its most basic level, it is composed of ten spheres (emanations) called the Sephiroth, which are connected by twenty two paths.  The Sephiroth are represented by the planets and the paths by the 22 characters of the Hebrew alphabet.  These are subdivided by the five elements, the seven classical planets, and the twelve signs of the Zodiac.  Each Sephirah (singular of Sephiroth) and path is assigned its own various attributes, such as gods, Tarot cards, planets, signs, elements, etc.  See Liber 777 for Crowley's 'Table of Correspondences' - almost everything imaginable relating to the occult has been cross-referenced in this remarkable publication.

Crowley considered a complete understanding of the Tree of Life was essential for a magician:

The Tree of Life has got to be learnt by heart; you must know it backwards, forwards, sideways, and upside down; it must become the automatic background of all your thinking.  You must keep on hanging everything that comes your way upon its proper bough.

Similar to Yoga, it is not so much magick as it is a way to 'map out' one's spiritual universe.  As such, a magician may use the Tree to choose which god(s) to invoke for what purpose(s) etc.  Within the Western Magical Tradition, the Tree of Life is used as a filing cabinet, and plays an important role in modelling the spiritual journey, where the adept begins in Malkuth, the everyday material world, with the ultimate goal being Kether, the Sphere of Unity with the All.

Invocation / Evocation

Invocation is the ‘bringing in’ or identifying with a particular deity or spirit.  Crowley wrote of two main keys to success in this arena: to enflame thyself in praying and to invoke often.  Bear in mind that for Crowley, the single most important invocation, or any act of magick for that matter, was the invocation of one's Holy Guardian Angel, or Secret Self, thus allowing the adept to know his True Will.

Crowley describes the experience of invocation as:

“The mind must be exalted until it loses consciousness of self.  The magician must be carried forward blindly by a force which, though in him and of him, is by no means that which he in his normal state of consciousness calls I.  Just as the poet, the lover, the artist, is carried out of himself in a creative frenzy, so must it be for the magician.”

He discusses three main categories of invocation, although in the great essentials these three methods are one.  In each case the magician identifies himself with the Deity invoked."

  • Devotion - where "identity with the God is attained by love and by surrender, by giving up or suppressing all irrelevant (and illusionary) parts of yourself."
  • Calling forth - where "identity with the God is attained by paying special attention to the desired part of yourself."
  • Drama - where "identity with the God is attained by sympathy.  It is very difficult for the ordinary man to lose himself completely in the subject of a play or of a novel; but for those who can do so, this method is unquestionably the best."

Another invocatory technique the magician can employ is called the assumption of god-forms.  This is where, "by concentrated imagination of oneself in the symbolic shape of any God, one should be able to identify oneself with the idea which that god represents."  A general method involves positioning the body in a manner that is typical for a given god, imagining that the image of the god is coinciding with or enveloping the body.  This is accompanied by the practice of vibration of the appropriate God name(s) (see below).

Unlike what happens with invocation, involving a ‘calling in’, evocation involves a ‘calling forth’, most commonly into what is called the triangle of art.  Crowley explains the distinct difference between invocation and evocation as such:

"To 'invoke' is to ‘call in’, just as to ‘evoke’ is to ‘call forth’.  This is the essential difference between the two branches of magick.  In invocation, the macrocosm floods the consciousness.  In evocation, the magician, having become the macrocosm, creates a microcosm.  You invoke a God into the Circle.  You evoke a Spirit into the Triangle of Art."

The triangle of art is the protected space outside the magick circle, into which spirits are compelled to appear in Solomonic Ritual Magick.  The central circle is usually inscribed with the sigil (seal) of the spirit to be evoked.  The usual form is of a triangle, circumscribed with various words of power, containing an inner, blackened circle.  The purpose of the triangle is to contain the manifested entity.

Generally speaking, evocation is used for two main purposes: to gather information and to obtain the services and/or obedience of a spirit or demon.  Crowley believed that the most effective form of evocation was found in the grimoire on Goetia (a grimoire is simply a book containing one's personal spells, rites, recipes, etc.), which instructs the magician in how to safely summon forth and command seventy-two infernal spirits.  However, it is equally possible to evoke angelic beings, gods, and other intelligences related to planets, elements, and the Zodiac.  The relationship between the 72 spirits of the Goetia and the cardinal points is shown to the left.  As a general term, Goetia refers to the evocation of evil spirits in an attempt to force them to fulfil ones material wishes.  As a specific term, The Goetia is a part of The Lemegeton, or Lesser Key of Solomon - a grimoire (which contains Goetia) translated by Mathers and edited by Aleister Crowley, which led to the reason for their falling out.

Banishing / Purification

Banishing rituals tend to be performed at the start of an important event or ceremony, often to eliminate forces that might interfere with a magical operation.  The area of effect can be a magick circle, a room, or even the magician himself.  The general theory of magick suggests there are various forces represented by the four classic elements, air, earth, fire, and water, the planets, the signs of the Zodiac and adjacent spaces in the astral world where various spirits and non-corporeal intelligences can be present.  A ‘banishing’ is performed to clean out these forces and presences.  Some believe that the banishing ritual is more psychological than anything else, used to calm and balance the mind, but the effect is ultimately the same, a sense of cleanliness within the self and the environment.  Of the many banishing rituals in use, the majority are just a variation on two of the most common, The Star Ruby and The Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram.

Crowley describes 'banishing' in Magick in Theory and Practice as:

". . . in the banishing ritual of the pentagram we not only command the demons to depart, but invoke the Archangels and their hosts to act as guardians of the Circle during our pre-occupation with the ceremony proper.  In more elaborate ceremonies it is usual to banish everything by name.  Each element, each planet, and each sign, perhaps even the Sephiroth themselves; all are removed, including the very one which we wished to invoke, for that force as existing in Nature is always impure.  But this process, being long and wearisome, is not altogether advisable in actual working.  It is usually sufficient to perform a general banishing, and to rely upon the aid of the guardians invoked."

However, he also adds:

"Those who regard this ritual as a mere devise to invoke or banish spirits, are unworthy to possess it.  Properly understood, it is the Medicine of Metals and the Stone of the Wise."

Purification is similar in theme to banishing, but is a more rigorous process of preparing the self and the temple for some serious spiritual work.  Crowley tells us that ancient magicians would purify themselves through arduous programs, such as special diets, fasting, sexual abstinence, keeping the body meticulously clean and tidy, and undergoing a complicated series of prayers.  He also tells us that purification no longer requires such activity, since the magician can purify the self via willed intention.  Specifically, the magician labours to purify the mind and body of all influences which may interfere with the Great Work.  Crowley recommended symbolically ritual practices such as bathing and donning robes before a main ceremony:

"The bath signifies the removal of all things irrelevant or hostile to the one thought.  The putting on of the robe is the positive side of the same operation.  It is the assumption of the frame of mind suitable to that one thought."

Eucharistic Ritual

The word Eucharist originates from the Greek word for thanksgiving, but used in the context of magick it takes on a different, special meaning -- the transmutation of food and drink into divine sacraments, which are then eaten.  The aim is to infuse the food and drink with certain properties, usually embodied by various deities, so that the magician takes in those properties upon their consumption.  Crowley describes the regular practice of Eucharistic Ritual as:

"The magician becomes filled with God, fed upon God, intoxicated with God.  Little by little his body will become purified by the internal lustration of God; day by day his mortal frame, shedding its earthly elements, will become in very truth the Temple of the Holy Ghost.  Day by day matter is replaced by Spirit, the human by the divine; ultimately the change will be complete; God manifest in flesh will be his name."

There are several Eucharistic Rituals within the magical archives, two of the most well-known being 'The Mass of the Phoenix - (See Liber XLIV) and The Gnostic Mass (See Liber XV).  The first is a ritual designed for the individual, involving the sacrifice of a Cake of Light (the name of the Eucharistic host found within Thelema.  It contains meal, honey, and oil for the base ingredients, and is usually cooked in the shape of a small, flat wafer), to Ra (the Sun), and steeping a second Cake with the adept's own blood (either real or symbolic, in a gesture reflecting the myth of the Pelican cutting its own breast to feed its young) and then consuming it with the words, "There is no grace: there is no guilt: This is the Law: Do what thou wilt!"  The second ritual, The Gnostic Mass, is a very popular public ritual (although it can be practiced privately) involving a team of participants, including a Priest and Priestess.  This ritual is an enactment of the mystical journey that culminates with the Mystic Marriage and the consumption of a Cake of Light and a goblet of wine (a process termed communication).  Afterwards, each Communicant declares, "There is no part of me that is not of the gods!"


Consecration is an equally important magical operation.  It is essentially the dedication, usually of a ritual instrument or space, to a specific purpose:

"The ritual here in question should summarise the situation, and devote the particular arrangement to its purpose by invoking the appropriate forces.  Let it be well remembered that each object is bound by the Oaths of its original consecration as such.  Thus, if an object has already been made sacred to Jupiter, it cannot be used in an operation of Venus."

A common element in ritual consecration is anointing with Oil of Abramelin, a ceremonial, magical oil blended according to the recipe found in Mathers' translation of The Sacred Magick of Abramelin the Mage - one part myrrh, two parts cinnamon, a half-part galangal (a root with a hot ginger/pepper taste used primarily as a seasoning in Thai cooking), and half the total weight of the best olive oil.

Yoga & Magick

Yoga, although discussed here, is not considered to be magick per se.  It is essentially the necessary training of the mind and body to allow for certain types of magick to be performed.  Simply put, the aim is the control of the mind, i.e. to increase concentration and to be able to enter different states of consciousness.  When developing his own basic yogic program, Crowley borrowed ideas from other yogis such as Patanjali and Yajnavalkya.  Patanjali, who lived around the 2nd century AD, was the first person to systemise and document yogic practice, the Yoga Sutras.  Patanjali is often considered to be the father of Yoga and his Yoga Sutras strongly influence all styles of modern Yoga.  Sage Yajnavalkya of Mithila (circa 1800 BC) advanced a 95-year cycle to synchronise the motions of the sun and moon.  He is also credited with the authorship of the Shatapatha Brahmana.  The image to the right shows the ascent of Kundalini rising through the Chakras - click on it to see a clearer image.

Yoga and Ceremonial Magick are the arts of uniting the mind to a single idea, using four methods.

Type of Yoga Method Magick
Gnana Union by Knowledge The Holy Kabbalah
Raja Union by Will The Sacred Magick
Bhakta Union by Love The Acts of Worship
Hatha Union by Courage The Ordeals

To these can be added

Mantra Union by Speech The Invocations
Karma Union by Work The Acts of Service

These are united by the supreme method of Silence.

“If this idea be any but the Supreme and Perfect idea, and the student lose control, the result is insanity, obsession, fanaticism, or paralysis and death (add addiction to gossip and incurable idleness) according to the nature of the failure.  Let then the Student understand all these things and combine them in his Art, uniting them by the supreme method of Silence.”

We do not intend to elaborate on the subject here, but simply say that Aleister Crowley has published numerous works on yoga:

Title Description
Liber E vel Exercitiorum sub Figura IX This gives basic training in a number of root disciplines.
Liber RU vel Spiritus sub Figura CCVI Gives clear instructions in pranayama (breathing).

The above two should be read in conjunction with Book 4 Part I and Equinox Volume 3 Number 4 – Eight lectures on Yoga.

Liber Astarte vel Berylli sub Figura CLXXV Instruction on Bhakta Yoga (Yoga of Devotion).
Liber HHH sub Figura CCXLI A presentation of Tantric disciplines.
Liber Turris vel Donus Dei sub Figura XVI A discipline for achieving “hindering the modifications of the thinking principle” as Patanjali puts it.
Liber YOD sub Figura DCCCXXXI The first section relates to magick; sections 2 and 3 relate to Raja Yoga techniques.
Liber Os Abysmi vel Daath sub Figura CDLXXIV Instruction in Gnana Yoga.
Liber Thisarb viae Memoriae sub Figura CMXIII An instruction for developing the magical memory to recover knowledge of previous incarnations.
Liber DXXXVI BATRACHOPHRENOBOOCOSMOMACHIA A method for expanding the horizons of consciousness.
Liber Librae sub Figura XXX Simple instruction in Karma Yoga.


The art of divination is generally employed solely for the purpose of obtaining information that can guide the magician towards furthering the Great Work.  In other words, it is used to gain insight and thus make better decisions.  The underlying theory is that intelligences exist (either outside of or inside the mind of the diviner) which can offer accurate information within certain limits using a language of symbols.  Divination within magick is most certainly not the same as fortune telling, which is more interested in predicting future events.  However, as Crowley tells us, it is also well known that divination is imperfect:

"In estimating the ultimate value of a divinatory judgment, one must allow for more than the numerous sources of error inherent in the process itself . . . . . "

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Ceremonial/Ritual Magick

While some form of ritualised Ceremonial Magick has been present in cultures going back thousands of years, most current practices stem from the middle ages or later.  Ceremonial Magick as we know it developed from Christian Kabbalah (a philosophical system adopted from Jewish mysticism), Mediaeval Alchemy and Gnostic/Hermetic philosophy, basically a System of Initiation and Mastery of Consciousness.  It includes, amongst others, Goetic and Enochian Magick and Thelemic Ritual.  Ceremonial Magick is by far the most complex form of magick, using magical theory drawn from a great body of literature amassed during the centuries, and always incorporates strict ritual.  It is certainly much more elaborate than other forms, probably because the magician draws strength from ethereal entities and the divine.

The general distinction between ritual and ceremony is that a rite is something done, while a ceremony is the way in which that something is done.  However, in general usage, these two terms are usually employed together.  Any act whatsoever performed on a regular basis is a ritual.  For example, if you set your alarm clock for 6.55 a.m., then switch it to 'snooze' for 5 or 10 minutes every day before getting up, that is a ritual.  Should you decide to get up one morning without putting it on 'snooze', you may well feel 'ill at ease', as if something 'isn't quite right', for the rest of that day.  It is exactly the same in Ceremonial Magick - a certain ritual is followed each time a ceremony is performed, but if the ritual is not followed strictly, something will not feel right!

One of the most important factors to consider when performing Ceremonial or Ritual Magick is self-protection.  Here, intuition might well come into play.  If something doesn't feel right - DON'T DO IT!  Using the example in the previous paragraph (we'll assume it is an electric radio alarm clock), let's suppose there has been a power cut in the middle of the night.  You would still tend to wake up with a start at around the normal time the next morning knowing intuitively that something is wrong.  The first thing most people would do would be to check the time, at which stage you discover exactly 'what is wrong'.  The alternative, despite the fact that you know it doesn't feel right, is to ignore your intuition and simply go back to sleep to wait for the alarm NOT to go off, thus ruining the rest of the day, by being late for work and so on.  Ritual is the magician's failsafe mechanism, the key to any hope for success, and also the explanation for failure.

Ceremonial magicians use rituals which may include preparing an area (normally a circle), donning robes, chanting, lighting candles, arranging amulets or talismans in a certain order on an altar and/or themselves, and saying prayers prior to performing the ceremony.  If something 'doesn't feel right' the novice may well continue and suffer the consequences, but an adept knows instinctively that something is wrong and will either abandon the ceremony or repeat the process until it does feel right.

Four traditional ceremonial tools are associated with Ceremonial/Ritual Magick, Wicca and related traditions, believed to derive from the Four Hallows (four holies) of the Arthurian Romances, in which the items are used as symbols of metaphysical ideas.  In turn, these are derived from early esoteric and Gnostic Christian ideas.  These four tools of magick are: the Cup or Chalice, a watery, female symbol; the Sword or ritual Dagger, a male, airy symbol; the Coin, Disk, or Paten, also known as a Pentacle in most Wiccan and Ritual Magick traditions, a female, earthy symbol; the Baton/Wand, a masculine, fiery symbol.  In some systems, the sword and the wand/club are reversed.  See also Magical Weapons pictured below.

In magick, these tools represent the four classical elements, the four directions, and the four archangels.  They comprise the four suits in a pack of Tarot cards, and the four worlds of creation outlined in the Kabbalah.  They also correspond with the four syllables of the Tetragrammaton (the sacred four letter name of God).

The sword/dagger and the baton/wand are weapons of destruction, symbolising archetypal male passion, power and dominance, i.e. aggression, which if properly channelled, propels human endeavour.  They are a compulsive, ever moving force, the dark, primitive expression of this force being destruction, violence, frustration, and ill-will.  The cup/chalice and the pentacle or paten/disk/coin, are symbols of 'feminine' traits, i.e. receptive, nurturing, and welcoming when correctly used but cruel, lazy, and cold when abused.  The masculine power seeks knowledge and progress, the feminine provides restraining wisdom, guidance, and grounding.  Where the masculine moves and expands, the feminine forms, shapes, and channels.

It really cannot be stressed enough just how vitally important it is to create and tailor your ritual individually, although it is also appropriate for the aspirant, student or apprentice to learn and practice tried and tested historical ritual.  The purpose of all Ritual Magick is to perfect what is known as the microcosm - you as an individual - in order to connect with the macrocosm - the Divine, to create within yourself a perfect mirror image of the Divine (as above so below), what mystics have termed Union with God, and in magick, the Great Work.  Should any of you have been practicing Ritual Magick for any length of time, you will no doubt have noticed subtle changes in your life already - your focus will be much sharper and your 'perception of what is considered reality' will have changed completely, indicating you have laid the necessary foundations on which to begin building the next stage of your development/enlightenment.

Ceremonial Magick can be practised by a novice using suitable and appropriate documentation describing the ceremony, but normally practitioners are organised into magical schools/orders/societies such as The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, Ordo Templi Orientis (O.T.O.) and the Astrum Argentum AA.  These societies are certainly three of the more important influences on this tradition of magick during the past century, along with individuals like Israel Regardie, Aleister Crowley, Dion Fortune and the three founder members of The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, William Wynn Westcott, Samuel Liddell Macgregor Mathers and William Robert Woodman (pictured right).

A would-be apprentice will be questioned at length as to why he/she wishes to learn the ways of 'High Magick' before being taken under the wing of an adept and 'taught' the methods.  One of the first exercises he/she must practice until it becomes automatic is known as Reverse Meditation.  This is an exercise most apprentices tend to neglect, but in every case, should they choose to do so, they will certainly have to return to it.  Every night, on retiring to bed, the apprentice must go over the events of the day in reverse order, i.e. starting with the last thing said or done that day, working backwards until reaching his/her first thought or action of the day.  Each event must be considered impartially, i.e. regarded as an impersonal record.  The results of each action, thought or word must be considered separately, and the apprentice must then try to ascertain why these thoughts, actions or words were the cause of particular effects, back to the starting point of the day.  Reverse meditation is extremely important for two reasons:

  • It helps to modify the normal habit of the mind to think in a time sequence of past, present and future.  Normal thinking works well in a three-dimensional world, but when the higher consciousness is opened up it has limitations.
  • By observing the end result first and working backwards, an initiate finds it much harder to make excuses for his/her conduct, thus tending to put a rein on some of the activity known in psychology as the 'false ego'.

Many esoteric schools of the Western Tradition use the mandala, the meditation glyph known as Orz Chiim (Tree of Life), ‘the mighty, all-embracing glyph of the universe and the soul of man’, as a symbolic picture or image placed before the apprentice as a reminder of his/her work.

Other basic exercises include:

  • Image formation (where the initiate is asked to build up certain mental images).
  • Image recollection (where images already in the mind are allowed to rise into consciousness).
  • Posture.
  • Breathing.
This site has not been designed to provide instructions to enable the reader to develop magically, so I shall not elaborate on the reasons for these exercises.  Suffice to say they are vital first steps on the long and often arduous road to becoming a magician.

The Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram

The Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram (LBRP) is a Ceremonial Magick Ritual devised and used by the original order of the Golden Dawn that has become a mainstay in modern occultism.  It is considered by many to be a basic preliminary to any other magical work, so much so that it was the only ritual, beside initiation rituals, taught to members of the Golden Dawn before they advanced to the Inner Order.

The ritual is highly dynamic, using gesture, visualisation and the pronunciation of certain words of power, combining prayer and evocation as well as clearing and preparing a space for further magical or meditative work.  The ritual is perceived as banishing any "chaotic" and "impure" forms of the elements from the magician's circle tracing the Pentagrams in the air and by the power of certain Divine names followed by an invocation of the spiritual forces ruling the elements to fortify and guard the circle.

The principal components of the Qabalistic Cross and the LBRP are drawn from the works of the French occultist Eliphas Lévi, which originated as a traditional Jewish prayer said before sleeping as documented by Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch in The Hirsch Siddur, which reads as follows:

"In the Name of God, the God of Yisrael: may Michael be at my right hand, Gabriel at my left, Uriel before me, Raphael behind me, and above my head, the presence of God."

What follows explains the Complete Golden Dawn Version to invoke the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram.  You will need to know the following two signs during this ritual:

  1. Look around and ensure that the Charged Force of any Consecrated Magical Implements will not be accidentally banished.
  2. Stand West of the Altar facing East, holding your Elemental Banishing Dagger.  Begin with the Rite of the Kabbalistic Cross:
    • While standing West of the Altar facing East, imagine you are expanding, getting larger and larger.  Visualise yourself standing with the Earth beneath your feet (about the size of a football).  Imagine you are continuing to grow and expand, until you are so large that entire galaxies spin around you.  Visualise a ball of white Light, burning like a star, directly above your head.  Raise either your Elemental Banishing Dagger in your right hand above your head, pointing straight up, and pierce the star with the Dagger.  Visualise a shaft of white Light rising vertically from the star above your head to infinity.  Vibrate ATEH (thou art), while lowering the Dagger down to touch first your forehead (while vibrating the first syllable), then your breast around the heart area (while vibrating the second syllable), and extend the shaft of Light downwards as you move.
    • Lower the Dagger to the groin area, with the tip still pointing straight up (Israel Regardie taught that one should never point a Magical Dagger downward toward the Earth).  Vibrate MALKUTH (the kingdom). Visualise a vertical shaft of white Light descending from the star above your head, to another star beneath your feet, and onward, through the centre of the Earth, to infinity.
    • Touch your right shoulder with the point of the Dagger (you should feel the sharp tip), and vibrate VE-GEBURAH (and the power).  Visualise another star shining where the Dagger is touching your shoulder, and a shaft of white Light extending horizontally to your right and on to infinity.
    • Touch your left shoulder with the point of the Dagger, and vibrate VE-GEDULA (and the Glory).  Visualise another star, at the place where the Dagger is touching your shoulder, and a shaft of Light extending horizontally to your left, to infinity.
    • Bring the Dagger, pointing upward, to your heart.  Move it in a circular counter-clockwise motion (toward the left, from the top downwards, then up to the right), several times, as you vibrate LE-OLAM (for ever).
    • Clasp your hands together over the centre of your chest.  Interlace your fingers, and hold the Dagger between your knuckles, pointing upward (the interlaced fingers symbolise the ten Sephiroth).  Extend your elbows horizontally, along the plane of the horizontal shaft of Light, extending from the stars at your shoulders.  Visualise yourself, standing at the centre of a blazing Cross of white Light, which extends to the ends of the Universe, as you vibrate AMEN.
  3. Go to the East of the Altar (The Magician should always move in a clockwise fashion around the Circle).  Trace a light blue (tinged with golden white, like the flame of a gas stove) Banishing Earth Pentagram while vibrating YOD HEH VAU HEH, imagining that your voice carried toward the East of the Universe.

    Project blue Light through its centre using the Sign of the Enterer.  Give the Sign of Silence.

  4. Pierce the centre of the Pentagram with the Dagger.  Trace a line of white Light as you move to the South (to the point where the centre of the next Pentagram will be).
  5. Trace a blue Banishing Earth Pentagram while vibrating ADONAI.

    Project blue Light through its centre using the Sign of the Enterer.  Give the Sign of Silence.

  6. Pierce the centre of the Pentagram with the Dagger.  Trace a line of white Light as you move to the West (to the point where the centre of the next Pentagram will be).
  7. Trace a blue Banishing Earth Pentagram while vibrating EHEHIEH.

    Project blue Light through its centre using the Sign of the Enterer.  Give the Sign of Silence.

  8. Pierce the centre of the Pentagram with the Dagger.  Trace a line of white Light as you move to the North (to the point where the centre of the next Pentagram will be).
  9. Trace a blue Banishing Earth Pentagram while vibrating AGLA.

    Project blue Light through its centre using the Sign of the Enterer. : Give the Sign of Silence.

  10. Pierce the centre of the Pentagram with the Dagger.  Trace a line of white Light as you move back to the East.  Complete the Circle by finishing the line in the centre of the first Pentagram (i.e. where you began).
  11. Go to the West.  Stand West of the Altar facing East.  Give the Sign of Osiris Slain (with your arms outstretched horizontally to your sides, Dagger pointing upward in your right hand).  Say forcefully, vibrating as indicated:
    • Before me RAPHAEL
    • Behind me GABRIEL
    • At my right hand MICHAEL
    • At my left hand AURIEL
    • About me flame the pentagrams (touch the Dagger to your forehead) - behind me shines the six-rayed star!
  12. Repeat the Rite of the Kabbalistic Cross.

Note:  For invoking, reverse the direction of the pentagram.  In Golden Dawn practice, students performed an invoking ritual in the morning, and a banishing ritual in the evening.

Components of Ritual Magick

Magical Weapons

As with magick, a magical weapon is any instrument used to bring about intentional change.  As Crowley wrote in Magick in Theory and Practice:

"It is my Will to inform the World of certain facts within my knowledge.  I therefore take 'magical weapons', pen, ink, and paper; I write 'incantations' --- these sentences --- in the 'magical language' i.e. that which is understood by the people I wish to instruct; I call forth 'spirits', such as printers, publishers, booksellers, and so forth, and constrain them to convey my message to those people.  The composition and distribution of this book is thus an act of magick by which I cause changes to take place in conformity with my Will.  By 'Intentional' I mean 'willed'.  But even unintentional acts so-seeming are not truly so.  Thus, breathing is an act of the Will-to-Live."

With that said, in practice, magical weapons are usually specific, consecrated items used within Ceremonial Ritual.  There is no hard and fast rule as to what constitutes or does not constitute a magical weapon.  If a magician considers it to be a weapon, then a weapon it is.  However, there does exist a set of magical weapons with particular uses and symbolic meanings.  Some such common weapons/tools include the dagger/sword, wand/baton, cup/chalice, disk/coin, holy oil, lamp and bell.

Sword or Dagger
Wand or Baton
Cup or Chalice
Coin, Disk, or Paten
Holy Oil

Magical Formulae

A magical formula is generally a name, word, or a series of letters, the meaning of which is used to illustrate principles and degrees of understanding that are difficult to relay using other forms of speech or writing.  It is a very concise means of communicating abstract information through a word or phrase, usually concerning a process of spiritual or mystical change.

For example, common formulae include YHVH, INRI, and IAO.  These words often have no intrinsic meaning in and of themselves, but when broken down, each individual letter may refer to some universal concept found in the system in which the formula appears.  In addition, by grouping certain letters together one can display meaningful sequences considered to be of value to the spiritual system utilising them.

Ten Ritual Gestures - IAO

For his practical magic, Aleister Crowley worked out a series of ten ritual gestures related to the Four Elements and the secret Sign of Light.  The ten are represented here, in the form drawn by Crowley, in accordance with certain esoteric principles.  One observes, for example, that the lower four Elements are separated from the topmost four sound-gestures by the Veil gesture, of opening and closing.  This is expressed in the diagram spatially, but in actual practice, it is worked out and expressed in Time. Working upwards, and reading from left to right: Bottom The gesture of Earth, which represents the god Set fighting.  Second line up: The gesture of Air, which represents the god Shu supporting the sky.  Third line up left: The gesture of Water, which represents the goddess Auramoth.

Vibration of God Names

In magical rituals involving the invocation of deities, a vocal technique called vibration is commonly used.  This was a basic aspect of magical training for Crowley, who described it in Liber VI (also known as Liber O vel Manus et Sagittae).  According to that text, vibration involves a physical set of steps, starting in a standing position, breathing in through the nose while imagining the name of the deity entering with the breath, imagining that breath travelling through the entire body, stepping forward with the left foot while throwing the body forward with arms outstretched, visualising the name rushing out when spoken, ending in an upright stance, with the right forefinger placed upon the lips.  Crowley tells us that success in this technique is signalled by physical exhaustion, and

"though only by the student himself is it perceived, when he hears the name of the God vehemently roared forth, as if by the concourse of ten thousand thunders; and it should appear to him as if that Great Voice proceeded from the Universe, and not from himself."

In general ritual practice, vibration can also refer to a technique of saying a God name or a magical formula in a long, drawn out fashion (i.e. with a full, deep breath) employing the nasal passages, such that the sound feels and sounds vibrated.

Paranormal Effects

Crowley made many claims for the paranormal effects of magick, but like the magicians and mystics preceding him did, and those following him continue to do, Crowley dismissed such effects as useless.  From November 1901 he performed no magick of any kind until the Spring Equinox of 1904.  There were, however, two exceptions, a casual week in the summer of 1903, and an exhibition game of magick in the King's Chamber of the Great Pyramid in November 1903, when, accompanied by his wife, Rose, through his invocations he filled the chamber with ‘a brightness like that of full moonlight’.  It was no subjective illusion because the light was bright enough for him to read the ritual without the aid of the candle he had been using.  He concluded, "There, you see it?   What's the good of it?”   (The Equinox of the Gods).  In The Confessions of Aleister Crowley, he tells us:

“By the light of a single candle placed on the edge of the coffer I began to read the invocation.  But as I went on I noticed that I was no longer stooping to hold the page near the light.  I was standing erect.  Yet the manuscript was not less but more legible.  Looking about me, I saw that the King's Chamber was glowing with a soft light which I immediately recognised as the astral light.  I have been accustomed to describe the colour as ultra-#8d8145, from its resemblance to those rays in the spectrum - which I happen to be able to distinguish.  The range varies, but it is quite noticeably beyond that visible to the normal human eye.  The colour is not unlike that of an arc lamp; it is definitely less coloured than the light of a mercury lamp.  If I had to affix a conventional label, I should probably say pale lilac.  But the quality of the light is much more striking than the colour.  Here the word phosphorescence occurs to the mind.  It is one of the mysteries of physics that the total light of the sky is very much greater than can be accounted for by the luminous bodies in the heavens.”

Even so, Crowley realised that paranormal effects and magical powers do have some level of value for the individual.  In Magick Without Tears he tells us:

”My own experience was very convincing on this point; for one power after another came popping up when it was least wanted, and I saw at once that they represented so many leaks in my boat.  They argued imperfect insulation.  And really they are quite a bit of a nuisance.  Their possession is so flattering, and their seduction so subtle.  One understands at once why all the first-class Teachers insist so sternly that the Siddhi (or Iddhi) must be rejected firmly by the Aspirant, if he is not to be side-tracked and ultimately lost.  Nevertheless, 'even the evil germs of Matter may alike become useful and good' as Zoroaster reminds us.  For one thing, their possession is indubitably a sheet-anchor, at the mercy of the hurricane of Doubt -- doubt as to whether the whole business is not Tommy-rot!  Such moments are frequent, even when one has advanced to a stage when Doubt would seem impossible; until you get there, you can have no idea how bad it is!  Then, again, when these powers have sprung naturally and spontaneously from the exercise of one's proper faculties in the Great Work, they ought to be a little more than leaks.  You ought to be able to organise and control them in such wise that they are of actual assistance to you in taking the Next Step.  After all, what moral or magical difference is there between the power of digesting one's food, and that of transforming oneself into a hawk?”

Enochian Magick

Enochian Magick is used to evoke and command various spirits.  It is a system of Ceremonial Magick based on the writings of Dr John Dee and Edward Kelley (also spelt as Kelly) in the 16th century.  According to Dee and Kelley their information was delivered to them directly by the Great Angel Ave after which they created the Enochian Script.  They claim it embraces secrets contained within the Book of Enoch (a title given to several attributed to Enoch, the great-grandfather of Noah, as opposed to the other three characters named Enoch in the Bible: the son of Cain, the son of Midian, and the son of Reuben.  The latter two are written as Hanoch in the modern translations).  Enochian Script is often referred to as the Angelic Script, and is used in Ceremonial Magick when working with angelic beings, particularly so in the Calls or Keys used to summon them (see below).

The account Dee and Kelley gave of receiving the information from an angel is actually taken at face value by many occultists, although some have pointed out various remarkable similarities to earlier texts known to Dee.  Doubts surrounding Kelley in particular have led many non-occultists to the assumption that the whole system was originally a fraud devised by Kelley as a means of obtaining extra financial support from Dee.

Enochian Magick, or at least the great body of raw knowledge of the system that Dee & Kelley had uncovered, and which was lying dormant, was given some form and brought to 'life' more than 200 years later by Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn (G.D.).  Subsequent to this, Aleister Crowley worked with and wrote about this system extensively thus contributing much to its growing popularity and comparatively widespread use today.

Some years later in Chicago, Paul Foster Case, after his expulsion from the G.D. in 1921, pursued the creation of his own occult school, the School of Ageless Wisdom, and led a crusade to convince fellow students that Enochian Magick was ‘volatile and dangerous’.  This organisation failed within a few years.  He moved to Los Angeles, abandoned a lucrative career as a musician, and established the Builders of the Adytum.  In its Inner Order Teachings, Case had all reference to Enochian Magick removed.  Others followed in his footsteps, claiming Enochian Magick was too dangerous.

Enochian Magick is certainly considerably more complex and difficult to understand than most other forms of magick.  This has caused numerous interpretations to arise, some of which have developed into schools of thought with individual bodies producing their own interpretative literature.  Despite this, almost all of these schools agree that Enochian Magick is a particularly powerful and dangerous form of magick.  Some of its practitioners even go so far as to suggest that Enochian Magick is inherently destructive to the magician.  Its use is forbidden not only for members of Builders of the Adytum, but also for those of the Servants of the Light.

Without entering into this on-going debate into the dangers of Enochian Magick, when it is used with caution, and in accordance with Second Order Teachings, it is reputedly not only safe, but utterly effective in the physical world, and very illuminating in the area of Spiritual development!

The Enochian Tablets

Dee and Kelley were the two pioneers who brought Enochian Magick to the world, but somewhere along the trail of lost knowledge since their being given the information, the Four Watchtowers of the Universe lay hidden.  These Watchtower Tablets were later adapted by Mathers to represent the four Elements of Fire, Water, Air and Earth.

There is a hierarchy to each of these tablets, although the hierarchy in its highest form is not to be found on the Tablets, but comes from study of the Kabbalah.  It is the Divine Name of the element in Hebrew that one must first intone and invoke.  The reason behind this is because the Hebrew represents the Celestial influence and governance, and the Enochian hierarchy represents Assiah or material governance.  Contained within each tablet are three Secret Holy Names of God, which can be extracted from the horizontal cross bar of the central cross of each Tablet.  In all there are twelve Holy Names on four Tablets.  These infer a serious connection and bridge between the Macrocosm and the personal Microcosm of one's own sphere of sensation.

The Elemental Tablets are introduced one at a time, and in the Grade Initiations of the Golden Dawn, these Names are invoked during the four Elemental Grade Ceremonies (initiations) by the Hierophant of the Outer Order.  Through the power of the Secret Names, the general nature of the element involved in the initiation is filtered through the tablet into the aura or sphere of sensation of the advancing initiate, thus resulting in the establishment of a magical link and affinity with that element, serving to empower him or her as the new elemental powers are made available.

The process is reported as depending upon a trained and empowered Hierophant, and can, in fact, even be performed in astral form in full Temple to allow the elemental link to exist for members who live hundreds or even thousands of miles from a Temple.

There is an important initiation that is not depicted on the Kabbalistic Tree of Life, known as the Portal Initiation.  It is attributed to the topmost point of the pentagram, which is Spirit.  Thus, in the Portal Initiation of the Order, the Tablet of Union is introduced as it represents the building Spirit or actuating 'adhesive' between the elements.

The Tablet of Union

The highest name of Spirit in this Tablet is EHNB (shown in the left-most column), the purest of Spiritual forces, and is only invoked when some empowering is required from the direct force of spirit.

The Tablet of Union is placed on the centre Altar to act as the central hub from which the Elemental Tablets are its spokes.

The Elemental Kings

The King is invoked when lower elemental forces on the Tablet are to be utilised.

There is one King per Elemental Tablet, which is extracted from a spiral whirl around the Central Cross to be found on each Tablet.

The Seniors

In all workings where the King is invoked, so are the Seniors in that they work in a kind of collaboration with the Elemental King.  In rituals such as the Consecration of an Elemental Tool the powers of the Seniors are called upon, thus allowing the Elemental Tool or Weapon to receive the Planetary powers in the charging phase through the Elemental Nature of the planet.  Later when needed by a trained Adept, the tool can then project this force for the purpose of magical and alchemical workings.

There are six Seniors on each of the Four Elemental Tablets, making a total of 24.  The Seniors follow the King in the Order of Hierarchy.  Reference to the Seniors can be found in Revelation - the 24 Elders who bow down before the Throne of God.

They act as a kind of funnel for the specific forces of a particular planet, the King relating to Sol.  The planetary forces of the Seniors are configured and transformed within the specific Elemental Nature of the Tablets.

The Sephirotic Cross Angels

There are two angels per cross, one calls forth a servant angel, the other commands the angel.  These angels are only invoked when an Adept wishes to work with a specific subservient angel.

There are four Sephirotic Crosses on each Tablet, often referred to as Calvary Crosses.  There is one cross in each sub-element, thus, on the Fire Tablet, there are four sub-elements of Air, Water, Fire, and Earth.  There is a cross in each.  On a coloured depiction of the Tablets these crosses are white, which, like the Seniors, denote a spiritual nature rather than an elemental one.

The Kerubic Square Angels

These angels work under the Angels of the Sephirotic Cross helping to regulate and balance the forces employed.  They may be utilised for pyramid working and other important elemental considerations.

The Kerubic Angels are formed from the first letter in each file above the Calvary Cross and permutated to provide (4) in total per sub-section.

N. B.  The information given above is only a tiny fragment of Enochian knowledge, and far from complete, but has been provided for the purpose of giving some general understanding of the subject.  Enochian Magick requires a solid and rigid foundation in the study of not only Kabbalah, but also Geomancy, Tarot, Alchemy, and AstrologyIt is not a child's toy but a powerful system that should be employed with the same caution a prudent person would use when handling a loaded pistol.  It is extremely dangerous in the hands of a novice.  If it does not prove to be dangerous, then it will be completely ineffective.

The Enochian Keys

Eighteen Keys (or Calls) given to Dee by the angels were intended for use with the Enochian system as a whole, but can also be used on a stand alone basis both as powerful prayers and ritual invocations.  Consequently, they should be used extremely wisely and cautiously, showing the appropriate reverence as befitting a mighty Force.  Versions of all of the calls or keys are readily available both on the web and in published books - they are perhaps too readily available in the opinion of many Adepts.

A nineteenth key is known as the Call or Key of the Thirty Aethyrs.  Aleister Crowley was the first known person to decipher all of these 30 Aethyrs and wrote his experiences in Liber xxx Aerum vel Saeculi sub Figura CCCCXVIII (The Vision and the Voice).  Crowley tells us about his invocation of the 30 Aethyrs during a trip to North Africa in 1909 in chapter 66 of The Confessions of Aleister Crowley.

The table below shows details of the Thirty Aethyrs, the brief descriptive passages against each of them being taken on the whole from Crowley's Liber xxx Aerum vel Saeculi Sub Figura 418 (The Vision and the Voice):

30    TEX tah-eh-atz A vast crystal cube surrounded by a sphere; about are four archangels robed in black, with wings and armour outined in white.
29    RII rah-ee-ee Sky with stars of gold, background green; a vast eagle-angel whose wings seem to hide all the heaven.
28    BAG beh-ah-geh An angel with opalescent garments like wheels of fire holding a flail of scarlet lightning, face black, eyes white without pupil or iris.
27    ZAA zod-ah-ah An angel in female form with rainbow wings; dress green with silver, flames of many-coloured fire surrounding; crest is a moon, sandals of curved silver.
26    DES deh-eh-ess A very bright pentagram, the heavens filled with the blackness of a mighty angel; spears, vials of poison, sharp swords and whirling thunderbolts about the corners of the earth.
25    VTI voh-tah-ee The pale gold of the Rosy Cross; the aire is the dark olive of alexandrite; an angel on a white horse and another upon a black bull are devoured by a lion.
24    NIA en-ee-ah An angel like a warrior in chain armour, upon his head plumes of grey; about his feet are scorpions, dogs, lions, elephants and other wild beasts; crackling of lightning, rolling thunder and sounds of battle.
23    TOR tah-oh-rah Three revolving lights; a spiders web with a star of twelve rays; a black bull pawing the ground, flames from his mouth, transforming into an Assyrian bull-man.
22    LIN el-ee-en A tablet of 49 squares surrounded by a company of angels, some brilliant and flashing as gods, some elemental creatures; the squares of the tablet filled with changing letters in magical script.  An angel proud and beautiful with pan-pipes.
21    ASP ah-ess-peh A mighty wind and a sense of emptiness; shadows of great angels sweeping by with no sound; a glimpse of an avenue of pillars and a black marble throne supported by sphinxes.
20    CHR kah-hoh-rah A pool of clear golden water and the stars of the night sky; a peacock dissolving into clouds of white angels and archangels with trumpets; all gathering into a multi-coloured whirling wheel.
19    POP peh-oh-peh A black web pierced with a ray of light, then a black cross spanned with an arch bearing letters in an alphabet made of symbols like daggers; an old man like the Hermit of the Tarot.
18    ZEN zod-eh-en A crucifixion scene, the central figure an enormous bat; an angel offers entry to the mountain of caverns and tears down the vision with the sign of 'Rending the Veil'; a mountain of pure crystal is revealed.
17    TAN tah-ah-en The head of a dragon, and a pair of balances with a luminous azure plume behind; a filament of quartz suspended above an abyss; the angel like black diamonds transforming into a sphere of liquid gold then green then blue.
16    LEA el-eh-ah Flickering images in a misty landscape; the moonrise at midnight and a crowned virgin riding on a bull; the angel a mighty king with crown, orb and sceptre.  He tears off the crown and casts the orb and sceptre to the ground.
15    OXO oh-atz-oh A column of whirling scarlet fire with columns about it of green, blue, gold and silver inscribed with letters of the dagger alphabet; a fire playing about the columns transforms into the skirts of a dancer who weaves a crimson rose of 49 petals.
14    VTA voh-tah-ah A white goat, a green dragon and a tawny bull are clouded by a veil of darkness; a voice announces 'The Great One of the Night of Time'; the veils of darkness are torn and fly away in a whirling wind to reveal the angel standing in the sign of 'Apophis and Typhon'.
13    ZIM zod-ee-em An image of shining waters glistening in the sun; an angel walking on the water a rainbow about his head; a golden veil parts to reveal two terrible black giants wrestling in mortal combat.
12    LOE el-oh-eh Two pillars of flame and a chariot of white fire like the Tarot trump; the charioteer in golden armour speak with a voice like a bell.
11    ICH ee-kah-hoh A sigil of the moon rolls up to reveal a host of angels in battle attire.  The whole defended by a fortress of nine towers of iron, the bastion of the outermost abyss.
10    ZAX zod-ah-atz This Aethyr is said to be accursed.  The Call of the 10th Aethyr may be employed to invoke Choronzon, the Demon of the Abyss.  This is potentially hazardous and appropriate precautions should be observed.  One such exercise was recorded and is included on the 'Liber Bootleg' tape released by the London Temple of 'Illuminates of Thanateros' in 1990.
9    ZIP zod-ee-peh The veil is rent with a clap of thunder and the vision is of traversing the abyss on a razor-edge of light with armies ranged above and in front; in the palace beyond is a proud and delicate woman lying naked: the Virgin of Eternity.
8    ZID zod-ee-deh A pyramid of light fills the Aethyr, and in the pyramid is the child of the union of light and darkness.  Instructions are given by which may be attained the knowledge and conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel.
7    DEO deh-eh-oh The stone of vision is divided with the left half dark, the right half light; a door like a keyhole in the shape of a Venus symbol opens and flames of blue, green and violet issue forth. A question concerns the key to open the lock.
6    MAZ em-ah-zod A great angel comprising magical symbols striving for mastery; illusions conjured by the Ape of Thoth; the more one struggles to devise methods of piercing the veil the further one seems from success.  A vision of the God of Lies.
5    LIT el-ee-tah A shining pylon set with the sigil of the eye; then an avenue of pylons, in each seated a god, leads to the top of a mountain; weapons are offered, and a mysterious password.
4    PAZ peh-ah-zod In the midst of the Aethyr a terrible god with a thousand arms, and clinging to him a young girl in throes of passion; the elixir of life distilled.
3    ZOM zod-oh-em An angry light and a great snake feeding upon the plumes of truth as upon itself; the veil of the Aethyr sundered to reveal the Magus of the Tarot.
2    ARN ah-rah-en The woman riding on the bull; a vision of the legend of Eve and the Serpent, and Adam and Cain bearing the Hammer of Thor; above all a vision of the Great Sigil of the Arrow.
1    LIL el-ee-el The veil of the Aethyr dark azure full of countless stars; a vibration of the great word IAIDA; a little child covered with lilies and roses; the formula of the Aeon revealed.

Little has been written about the 30 Aethyrs, but it is known that there is a distinct hierarchy, and that each Aethyr should be visited in numerical order starting with the highest, 30 (TEX), and ending with the lowest, 1 (LIL), at the very highest spiritual level.  Within Dee's writings, we find specific warnings about accessing 10 (ZAX), containing the infamous Demon of Dispersion known as Choronzon (other spellings have been used by other writers).  Crowley's preparation for, and his battle with Choronzon is considered a classic in magical literature (see below).

Choronzon is the 'Dweller in the Abyss', the final great obstacle between the magician and true enlightenment.  With the proper preparation, he is simply there to destroy the ego, thus allowing the magician to move beyond the Abyss.  However, if he is ill-prepared, the unfortunate traveller will be utterly dispersed into annihilation.  Crowley's Oath of the Abyss is reproduced below:

Oath of the Abyss

  • I.    I, O.M., etc., a member of the Body of God, hereby bind myself on behalf of the Whole Universe, even as we are now physically bound unto the cross of suffering:
  • II.    that I will lead a pure life, as a devoted servant of the Order:
  • III.    that I will understand all things:
  • IV.    that I will love all things:
  • V.    that I will perform all things and endure all things:
  • VI.    that I will continue in the Knowledge and Conversation of my Holy Guardian Angel:
  • VII.    that I will work without attachment:
  • VIII.    that I will work in truth:
  • IX.    that I will rely only upon myself:
  • X.    that I will interpret every phenomenon as a particular dealing of God with my Soul.
  • And if I fail herein, may my pyramid be profaned, and the Eye closed to me.

Choronzon is known as the 'Demon of Dispersion', and described by Crowley as "a temporary personification of the raving and inconsistent forces that occupy the Abyss."  In his system, Choronzon is only given form in evocation, simply to enable its mastery.  Crowley states that he and Victor Neuburg (an English poet and writer, particularly on theosophy, remembered for his early association with Aleister Crowley) reputedly evoked Choronzon in the Sahara Desert, but from his account it is unclear whether Choronzon was evoked into an empty Solomonic triangle while Crowley sat elsewhere, or whether Crowley himself was the medium into which the demon was evoked; most writers take him to mean the latter.  He describes the demon throwing sand over the triangle in order to breach it, following which it attacked Neuburg in the form of a naked savage, forcing him to drive it back at the point of a dagger (a potent magical weapon).  Crowley's account has been criticised as unreliable, as the relevant original pages were torn from the notebook in which it was written.  Both the evocation of Choronzon and the Abyss are discussed in chapter 66 of The Confessions of Aleister Crowley:

"The name of the Dweller in the Abyss is Choronzon, but he is not really an individual.  The Abyss is empty of being; it is filled with all possible forms, each equally inane, each therefore evil in the only true sense of the word - that is, meaningless but malignant, in so far as it craves to become real.  These forms swirl senselessly into haphazard heaps like dust devils, and each such chance aggregation asserts itself to be an individual and shrieks, "I am I!" though aware all the time that its elements have no true bond; so that the slightest disturbance dissipates the delusion just as a horseman, meeting a dust devil, brings it in showers of sand to the earth."

Here is a short extract from Liber LXXXIX vel Chanokh, Part II The forty-eight Calls or Keys showing the First Key:



(Pronunciation Key)
All letters are sounded as in English with exceptions:

A ah as in "fAther"
C k as in "Cook"
E eh as in "grEy"
I ee as in "mEEt"
O long o as in "jOke
Q k as in "Qabalah"
U long u as in "fOOl"

The First Key

Ol sonuf vaoresaji, gohu IAD Balata, elanusaha caelazod: sobrazod-ol Roray i ta nazodapesad, Giraa ta maelpereji, das hoel-qo qaa notahoa zodimezod, od comemahe ta nobeloha zodien; soba tahil ginonupe pereje aladi, das vaurebes obolehe giresam. Causarem ohorela caba Pire: das zodonurenusagi cab: erem Iadanahe. Pilahe farezodem zodenurezoda adana gono Iadapiel das home-tohe: soba ipame lu ipamis: das sobolo vepe zodomeda poamal, od bogira aai ta piape Piamoel od Vaoan! Zodacare, eca, od zodameranu! odo cicale Qaa; zodoreje, lape zodiredo Noco Mada, Hoathahe I A I D A!

The First Key

I rayng ouer you, sayeth the God of Iustice, in powre exalted above the firmaments of wrath: in whose hands the Sonne is as a sword and the Mone as a throwgh thrusting fire: which measureth your garments in the mydst of my vestures, and trussed you together as the palms of my hands: whose seats I garnished with the fire of gathering, and bewtified your garments wth admiration. To whome I made a law to govern the holy ones and deliuered you a rod with the ark of knowledg. Moreouer you lifted vp your voyces and sware [obedience and faith to him that liueth and triumpheth] whose begynning is not, nor ende can not be, which shyneth as a flame in the myddst of your pallace, and rayngneth amongst you as the ballance of righteousnes and truth. Moue, therfore, and shew yorselues: open the Mysteries of your Creation: Be frendely vnto me: for I am the servant of the same yor God, the true wurshipper of the Highest.

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The Religion/Philosophy of Thelema

Aleister Crowley is a major figure of modern occultism, and was already well known at the turn of the 19th century.  Famous for introducing sex and drugs as sacramental rituals into a complex syncretic system he called Magick, Crowley believed in finding one’s “True Will.”  This principle is famously summed up in the Law of Thelema: “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.”  Followers were to shirk societal norms and follow hedonistic impulses.  The inherent individualism of Thelemic values were later to be absorbed into the sixties counter-culture, and would turn the British occultist into a pop icon, the Oscar Wilde of esoterica.  However, a full fifty years before the lukewarm mysticism of the Age of Aquarius, Crowley was busy creating his occult temple in Sicily.

The religion/philosophy known as Thelema (also called Crowleyanity) was 'founded' in 1904 by the English poet, mountaineer and mystic Aleister Crowley (1875 - 1947), who is now regarded as its prophet.  Those who follow Thelema are called Thelemites.

Thelema emphasises individualism, and the uniqueness of each person's Will.  Consequently, it is difficult to make blanket statements about its nature or the natures of its adherents.  Even the label 'religion' fits Thelema awkwardly in some contexts – it is in reality a philosophy and a way of life, while overlapping with the set of practices and symbols commonly called Magick.

How Thelema Developed

In 1904, Aleister Crowley was on honeymoon in Cairo with his first wife Rose, when she convinced him of some remarkable psychic ability she had suddenly acquired (see Crowley's Biography for further details).  She instructed him to enter a room in their apartment at noon exactly, leaving at precisely 1 p.m., on three consecutive days, 8, 9 & 10 April.  During those three hours he took dictation from a praeterhuman intelligence which identified itself as Aiwass.  The resulting text was Liber AL vel Legis, known as The Book of the Law.  This book probably presented Aleister with his first reference to the Scarlet Woman since his reading of The Revelation of St John the Divine in the Holy Bible as a child.

The Book of the Law was to become the core of Crowley's religious and philosophical system he called Thelema (Thelema is Greek for ‘will’, referring to divine and human will).  It contains three short chapters with a comment written by Crowley which he signed as Ankh-af-na-khonsu, the only known writings of whom appear on the Stèle of Revealing.  Ankh-af-na-khonsu was a priest of the Egyptian god Mentu who lived in Thebes during the twenty-fifth and twenty-sixth dynasty (circa 725 BC).  He is best known as the creator of the Stèle of Revealing, a funerary tablet he created for himself to commemorate his death.  Crowley arranged for a copy of the Stèle of Revealing to be made, knowing it had a message for him.  From this point onwards, the stèle was to play a prominent role in his life, and the copy accompanied him wherever he went.

Crowley summed up his Law of Thelema in three phrases:

  • Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
  • There is no Law beyond ‘Do what thou wilt’.
  • Love is the law, love under will.

The ideal of Do what thou wilt and its association with the word 'Thelema' originated with François Rabelais, (c.1495-1553), a Benedictine monk, physician, and humanist scholar.  Gargantua and Pantagruel was his epic, in which he attacked clerical education and monastic orders and expressed an appreciation for secular learning and a confidence in human nature.  Like other humanists, Rabelais criticised medieval philosophy for being concerned with obscure, confused, and irrelevant questions, and expressed his aversion to mediaeval asceticism.  He attacked monasticism as life-denying, and regarded worldly pleasure as a legitimate need and aim of human nature.  His Abbey of Theleme is described as a kind of 'anti-monastery'.  The inhabitants of the abbey were not governed by laws, statutes, or rules, but lived according to their own free will.  It was from here that Crowley's system of Thelema developed, where he hoped to replace the world's religions with Crowleyanity.  Thelema stresses individual liberty balanced by responsibility and discipline, the inherent divinity of every person, regardless of gender.  Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

The words of G.M. Kelly ( are apt at this point, "One should not slavishly and lazily accept the interpretation of the Law of Thelema habitually given by sensationalistic writers with no regard for truth and accuracy, fanatic and radical, religiously intolerant fundamentalist factions of the Judeo-Christian community, and the equally extreme, ego-serving Satanists who consistently go out of their way to pervert every possible religious and esoteric ideal and concept known.  Each of these in their own way, for their own purpose, serve ego, the false self. Would it not be wiser to accept the Thelemite's interpretation of the Law of Thelema?

Aleister Crowley has more than once explained the Law -- for example: "'Do what thou wilt' does not mean 'Do what you like.'" (Liber II: The Message of the Master Therion, to be found in THE "BLUE" EQUINOX, Vol. III, No. 1).  That is to say, the Law is NOT a license to cater to the petty dictates of one's ego as the fanatic pseudo-xtians, intellectually perverse satanists, and ignorant, sensationalistic media insist."

The discovery and manifestation of one's unique True Will is the central task of every Thelemite.  According to Crowley, every individual has a True Will, which should be distinguished from the ordinary wants and desires of the ego.  The True Will is essentially one's 'calling' or 'purpose' in life.  Crowley's concept assumes that this includes the goal of attaining self-realisation by one's own efforts, i.e. without the aid of any divine authority.  He also believed that in order to discover the True Will, one had to free the desires of the subconscious mind from the control of the conscious mind, especially the restrictions placed on sexual expression, which he associated with the power of divine creation.  He taught that the True Will of each individual was identified with his or her own Holy Guardian Angel.

While spending the period of World War I in America, Crowley conferred upon himself the grade of Magus which involved his identifying himself with the word Thelema and merging his personality in it.  Thelema “insists on the absolute sovereignty of the individual within the limits of his proper function.”  In the winter of 1917/18, after Crowley had given a lecture on magick, he was introduced to Alma Hirsig, who in turn introduced him to her sister Leah some weeks later.  Although he thought Leah was magnificent, they did not begin an actual relationship until twelve months after their meeting.  He returned to London, penniless, a few days before Christmas 1919, his intention being to concentrate on the founding of his System of Thelema.

Branded a traitor, he was spurned by those who knew him, so unable to raise funds he moved to Paris where he was joined on 11 January by a heavily pregnant Leah Hirsig along with her two year old son, Hansi, from a previous relationship.  Shortly after their arrival he received the funds he had been craving by way of an inheritance (some reports suggest a sum of £3,000 from an aunt, although another figure quoted is £700).  In February 1920 Leah, known to Crowley as Alostrael, the Ape of Thoth or simply the Ape as well as being his Scarlet Woman, gave birth to their child, a daughter by the name of Ann Léa (nicknamed Poupée), at 11 bis rue de Neuville, Fontainebleau.  They engaged the services of Ninette Shumway as a housekeeper and nanny.  She was an unmarried mother with a three year old son (Howard) whom Leah had met on the crossing from America.  According to Crowley, “The girl was bloodless, drooping like a thirsty flower, and she dragged her brat along listlessly ...... he whined and wailed unceasingly like a puppy in pain.  He clung to his mother with pitiful helplessness .... “

Crowley felt he was now at his peak (as well as being financially secure for a short while) and thus ready to convert the whole world to the religion of Thelema, or Crowleyanity.  At the end of March, after consulting the I Ching, he left Paris with Ninette and the two boys, while Leah and Poupée went to Croydon to stay with an aunt of Crowley’s until suitable premises had been found.

The Abbey of Thelema

Crowley and his three companions found the perfect place to establish the abbey, in a village in Sicily called Cefalu.  In his own words, it was a villa that might have been 'made to order', fulfilling all his requirements, and overlooking the Mediterranean Sea.  It had a well of delicious water and a vast studio which opened northwards.  Crowley said, “The gods took no chances.  They meant me to live there and guarded against any possible perversity on my part by planting two tall Persian nuts close to the house.  They might have been the very same trees as those in the garden of the Villa Caldarazzo, which, as I have told, I had taken for a token in the days of Ab-ul-Diz."

The truth about the 'villa' was somewhat different.  It was basically a run-down one-storey rectangular farmhouse with 6 rooms, 5 of these radiating from a central one which became his temple and bedroom, labelled by himself as "la chambre des cauchemars" ("the room of nightmares").  The villa had no gas, electricity or sanitation, and the only water came from the nearby well.  However, included in the rent was a goat which provided the residents with milk -- a real bonus!

A couple of weeks later the Ape of Thoth arrived with Poupée after which A.C. began to occupy himself once again with magick, poetry and painting; this included painting the walls of his temple with explicitly erotic frescos, hermaphroditic goblins, and vividly coloured monsters.  This private room was used for specific night initiations involving psychoactive drugs which gave terrifying cinematic life to this Bosch-like vision of hellish debauchery.  The common room was dedicated to ritual practices and was adorned with a scarlet "magick" circle marked with the sign of the major Thelemic deities.  Crowley considered his temple a school of magick, and gave it an appropriately collegiate motto: "Collegium ad Spiritus Sanctum" -- "A College towards the Holy Spirit."

Students travelled to Sicily from around the world to ‘discover their true wills’ or real purpose in life.  Before commencement of their training, all students swore an ‘oath of allegiance’.  The actual training involved the breaking down of all artificial and societal inhibitions so the essential self could be liberated.  At the same time, lessons in Yoga, concentration, and self-analysis were given.  This training was essential to establish the Law as the ethical basis of the new social order.

Sadly, Poupée died in October, some six months after the abbey had been established.  His inheritance had been squandered, and he was laden with the responsibility of two mistresses and several children (not all of his own making).  After the loss of Poupée he was not sure of which way to turn despite being a Master of every kind of magick; he spent long periods away in Paris and London.  But it would seem the gods had not deserted him.  'In a flash of intuition, which came upon him with shattering force', he penetrated the ultimate mystery.  This is the meaning of Crowley’s ‘godhead’.  Crowley was already a Magus, but aspired to become the Ipsissimus, who is free from all limitations whatsoever, including good and evil, someone who is basically indescribable (as per Ain Soph in Kabbalistic doctrine) and above the grade of Magus, i.e., the highest grade attainable.  But Crowley, for whom nothing was impossible, was not going to be restrained from 'reaching' this grade.

The ceremony took place in the spring of 1921 when he was forty-five.  As Ipsissimus he would be beyond the gods, beyond all mental concepts, which is probably why he had to steel himself for the deed, to acknowledge that he, even he, who was known among men as Aleister Crowley, was by insight and initiation the Ipsissimus.  He wrote in his diary (The Magical Record of the Beast 666), "I am mortally afraid to do so.  I fear I might be called upon to do some insane act to prove my power to act without attachment."  He entered the temple, followed by the Ape of Thoth, but of the actual ceremony he says nothing, and at the conclusion, only "As a god goes, I go."  He left the temple as naked as he had entered it, no longer as a saint (Saint Aleister Crowley, of the Gnostic church) but as a god.  It should be noted that the Ape of Thoth found him unbearable after he had become the Ipsissimus, and shortly afterwards wrote about him in her magical diary that it was ‘damn hard’ to think of ‘the rottenest kind of creature’ as a Word (i.e. Thelema).

Crowley’s Cefalu period was supposedly one of the most prolific and happy of his life, even though he was broke and suffered from drug addiction.  In 1922, being even more desperate for money, he and Leah went to London where he signed a contract with the publishers, William Collins, to write a novel, Diary of a Drug Fiend, for which he received a meagre £60 advance payment.  He rented a room in London and completed it in less than four weeks, Leah taking dictation in longhand of some 121,000 words in 27 days, 12 3/4 hours.  He promptly took the manuscript to the publishers who gave him another cheque for £125 in payment of advanced royalties on his autobiography.  They returned to Sicily immediately – with that much needed cash.

Many well-known people came and went including Jane Wolfe, (a Hollywood silent film character actress who appeared in more than thirty films), C.F. Russell (Godwin), Frank Bennett (Frater Progradior) 1° = 10ø AA, and IX° O.T.O.), Mary Butts (a British modernist writer) and Cecil Maitland, while Crowley still spent much of his time flitting between Cefalu, Paris and London.

Despite continual adverse publicity in John Bull magazine and the Sunday Express, the abbey and its residents were thriving.  They seemed happy enough and quite oblivious to the fact that hygiene was non-existent; nobody bothered to wash (either themselves or their clothes).  Basically, the place was squalid and insanitary.  In addition to this, the children watched sex acts daily and had unlimited access to copious amounts of narcotics.

Unfortunately, the abbey was doomed to failure.  It was after one of Crowley's trainees, an undergraduate by the name of Raoul Loveday, died as a result of developing acute infectious enteritis that the Abbey's fate was prematurely sealed.  Betty May, Loveday’s wife (who had disliked Crowley from the outset), returned to England and sold her story to the Sunday Express, a forerunner of the gossip and scandal tabloids of modern times.

The headline on 23 February 1923 read 'NEW SINISTER REVELATIONS OF ALEISTER CROWLEY'.  It concerned testimony that Crowley had been responsible for the death of her husband at the Abbey of Thelema in Cefalu, Sicily.  Tales of horrors filled the pages of the English newspapers for weeks and months to come: satanic rituals, black masses, animal sacrifice, and even human sacrifice, were reported - or blatantly lied about, for many of the stories were simply not true or were just fanciful exaggeration.  John Bull magazine ran headlines such as THE KING OF DEPRAVITY', 'A HUMAN BEAST' and 'A MAN WE'D LIKE TO HANG.'  Once again Crowley was advised to sue, but on this occasion he simply couldn’t afford to even though he was certain to win the case.

These adverse press reports, plus the imagined threat of secret societies, came during the time of the rise of Benito Mussolini’s regime in Italy.  Shortly after these 'revelations' Crowley was summoned to police headquarters where he was shown an order from the Minister of the Interior expelling him from Italy, though he maintained no reason was given, and no accusation had been made (it seemed the dictator had no sympathy for pornographic art or mysticism).  Crowley left the island on 1 May 1923 with Leah who was concerned about his health.  After consulting the I Ching they travelled to Tunisia, arriving the next day, when he began a new diary which has been published under the title The Magical Diaries of Aleister Crowley Tunisia 1923.

The last person to arrive at the abbey before Crowley’s departure was Frater O.P.V. (Norman Mudd), who had been initiated into the O.T.O. by C.S. Jones.  Crowley had met Mudd some years before at Cambridge University shortly after meeting Victor Neuburg.  At the time he was a member of the Cambridge University Free thought Association, as well as an undergraduate circle called the Pan Society, to which Crowley was often invited to present papers and lectures on mysticism.  Mudd joined Crowley in Tunisia on 20 May.

Many of the inhabitants of the abbey stayed after Crowley's departure, but eventually they all either drifted away or they themselves were expelled.  The walls of the abbey, which were covered in Crowley's sex magick artwork, were whitewashed over by the villagers, which they somewhat correctly saw as demonic.  This erased much of the history and work of Crowley in Cefalu.  Afterwards, the house was considered haunted and remained abandoned until 1955 when Kenneth Anger, an experimental filmmaker and follower of Crowley, located the ruins of the villa and attempted (with limited success) to restore the Chambre des Cauchemars.

It should be pointed out that Jane Wolfe contradicted all the stories printed at the time, and was in a position to do so as she was still in Cefalu nursing Raoul Loveday.  She tells us that his illness came about not as a result of bad sanitation, but of his drinking from a polluted stream, the whereabouts of which everyone at the abbey knew and thus avoided.  She goes on to say that 'no ceremonies of any nature took place during his illness, or at the time of his death'.

During his time at the abbey, Crowley's addiction to both heroin and cocaine reached heights he never achieved as a mountaineer (incredible as they were), and ironically the abbey was the setting for his Diary of a Drug Fiend, a novel describing an idyllic 'Abbey of Thelema' in which King Lamus (Crowley) is the misunderstood mystic genius.  Unfortunately, the actual abbey did not live up to his ideal.

He was truly a prolific writer and found time to write a significant amount which included his long unfinished Commentary on The Book of the Law.  His original commentary was published in The Equinox, Vol. I, No. 7.  He reproduced the brief commentary to chapters two and three in his Extenuation, labelling it the 'old comment', to precede his 'new comment'.  However, he omitted the old comment for chapter one, so to see this one must read The Equinox, Vol. I, No. 7., or alternatively The Law is for All edited and introduced by his one-time secretary Israel Regardie.

The Abbey of Thelema still stands -- just -- a hidden monument (dump) of mysterious, magical decay.  It has been vacant for nearly 100 years except for tourists and locals either paying their respects or adding to the vandalism, so even as the old farmhouse crumbles down after decades of abandonment, it is still possible to visit and witness a few scant remains of the wall paintings, providing a glimpse into Crowley's transgressive cosmology.

Current images show the Abbey's roof almost entirely caved in, while inches thick garbage and debris thoroughly mask the floor.  Some original furnishings of the home are still there, although marked by rust, weeds, and shrubbery taking over.  The walls (those that are still intact) now feature modern graffiti, showing little of the original paintings by the infamous Aleister Crowley.

As of 2010, the former Abbey of Thelema is for sale with a hefty asking price of €1.5 million -- there are currently no reported buyers.  Even though it may collapse tomorrow, it could make quite a conversation piece or, with much redevelopment, a good investment!

Images of the Abbey in More Recent Times

The following slideshow shows some of the more recent photographs taken by Kenneth Anger and others of the exterior and interior of the abbey.  This list is by no means exhaustive.

Thelemic Theology

The religion/philosophy of Thelema suggests all manifested existence stems from the interaction of two cosmic principles:
  • the infinitely extended, all-pervading Space-Time Continuum, and
  • the atomic, individually expressed Principle of Life and Wisdom.
The interplay of these two principles gives rise to the Principle of Consciousness, which governs existence.  In the Book of the Law, the divine Principles are personified by a trinity of ancient Egyptian Divinities:
  • Nuit, the Goddess of Infinite Space,
  • Hadit, the Winged Serpent of Light, and
  • Ra-Hoor-Khuit (Horus), the Solar, Hawk-Headed Lord of the Cosmos.
The Thelemic theological system utilises the divinities of various cultures and religions as personifications of specific divine, archetypal and cosmic forces.  Thelemic doctrine believes all the diverse religions of humanity are grounded in universal truths, so the study of comparative religions is a very important discipline for many Thelemites.

With regard to concepts of the individual soul, Thelema follows traditional Hermeticism, i.e. each person possesses a soul or ‘Body of Light’ which is arranged in ‘layers’ or ‘sheaths’ surrounding the physical body.  Each individual is also considered to have his or her own personal ‘Augoeides’ or ‘Holy Guardian Angel’, which can be considered both as the ‘higher self’ and as a separate, conscious, divine being.  Concerning concepts of the afterlife, life itself is considered as a continuum, with death an integral part of the whole.  Mortal life dies so that mortal life can continue.  The Augoeides or Holy Guardian Angel, however, is immortal and, as such, is not subject to life or death.

Just as in Buddhist doctrine, a Thelemite’s Body of Light is considered to be subject to metempsychosis, or reincarnation, after the death of the body.  The Body of Light is generally considered to evolve in wisdom, consciousness and spiritual power through cycles of metempsychosis for those individuals who dedicate their lives to spiritual advancement, to the point that its fate after death may ultimately be determined by the Will of the individual.

Thelema incorporates the idea of the cyclic evolution of Cultural Consciousness as well as of Personal Consciousness.  History is considered to be divided into a series of Æons, each with its own dominant concept of divinity and its own ‘formula’ of redemption and advancement.  The current Æon is the Æon of Horus.  The previous one was that of Osiris, and prior to that was the Æon of Isis.  The Æon of Isis is considered to have been dominated by the Maternal idea of divinity, and its formula involved devotion to Mother Earth in return for the nourishment and shelter She provided.  The Æon of Osiris is considered to have been dominated by the Paternal Principle, its formula being that of self-sacrifice and submission to the Father God.  The modern Æon of Horus is considered to be dominated by the Principle of the Child, the sovereign individual, and its formula is that of growth in consciousness and love towards self-realisation.

According to Thelemic doctrine, the expression of Divine Law in the Æon of Horus is ‘Do what thou wilt’.  This ‘Law of Thelema’, as it is called, is not to be interpreted as a license to indulge every passing whim, but rather as a divine mandate to discover one's True Will or purpose in life, and to accomplish it, leaving others to do the same in their own unique ways.  The acceptance of the Law of Thelema is what defines a Thelemite, and the discovery and accomplishment of the True Will is the fundamental concern of all Thelemites.  Achieving the ‘Knowledge and Conversation of one's Holy Guardian Angel’ is considered an integral part of this process.  The methods and practices to be employed in this process are numerous and diverse, and are grouped together under the generalised term ‘Magick’.

Not all Thelemites utilise all the practices available; there is considerable room for each individual practitioner to choose practices which are more suitable to his/her individual needs.  Some of these practices are the same as, or similar to, the practices advocated by many other great religions of the past and present such as prayer, meditation, study of religious texts (those of Thelema and of other religions as well), chanting, symbolic and initiatory ritual, devotional exercises, self-discipline, etc.  However, some Thelemic practices which have been traditionally associated with what is generally known as ‘occultism’, i.e. Astrology, divination, numerology, Yoga, tantric alchemy, and discourse with ‘angels’ or ‘spirits’ are all taken by Thelemites as potentially effective means of obtaining spiritual insights into the nature of one's being and one's place in the universe, as well as the fulfilment of such through harmonious, evolutionary works.

Thelema considers any action which is not directed towards the discovery and accomplishment of the True Will to be black magick.  This includes acts of interference with any other individual's lawful exercise of their right to discover and accomplish their own True Will.  Thelemic doctrine believes the disharmony and imbalance created by such actions results in a compensatory, equilibrating response from the universe; a doctrine similar to that of the Eastern conception of ‘Karma’.  Thelema has no direct parallel to the Judaeo-Christian concept of the devil or Satan.   However, a pseudo-personification of confusion, distraction, illusion and egotistical ignorance is referred to by the name ‘Choronzon’.

Thelemic Sacred Texts

The major readings are those Class A publications by the Astrum Argentum AA known as The Holy Books.  Click HERE to read each of The Holy Books of Thelema.

Other texts relating to the System of Thelema which can certainly be considered important reading include:

Other recommended reading includes:

Magick in Theory and practice (MTP)
Magick Without Tears
Liber ABA (Book IV)

See also Crowley's Publications for details of all official Aleister Crowley publications.

Thelemic Numbers & Words

This section has been adapted and designed for those of you interested in true Thelemic studies to assist in the understanding of the meanings of certain words and numbers used in Thelemic literature.  In Kabbalah, what is known and referred to as the science of Gematria states that any words which have the same numerical value are descriptions of a single event, or that such words define each other.  Most of what follows should give you an insight into the Kabbalistic mysteries of The Book of the Law.

The Magnum Opus, or the Great Work.  This is the blending of the Pentagram (5) and Hexagram (6), or of the Rose (5 petals) and Cross (Six-fold Cross).  It is the number of AVD (Magick Force), and the special number of Nuit, Hadit and Ra-Hoor-Khuit.  In the first chapter of Liber Al vel Legis, Nuit states, "My number is 11, as all their numbers who are of us."   It is also stated by Hadit in the second chapter, "I am the Empress and the Hierophant; thus eleven as my bride is eleven."  The names HOOR-PA-KRAAT and RA-HOOR-KHUIT have 11 letters each, as does ABRAHADABRA (Word of Ra-Hoor-Khuit).  There are 11 words in the Law of Thelema.  11=WE (See AL, II:64) and AHH (Ahah!).
YE (Yod-Heh, the Monogram of the Eternal).  See AL, I:17, where it is stated by Nuit, "But ye are not so chosen."  Not is LA (31).  Yod-Heh is the God-Name of Chokmah, the ‘Sphere of Stars’, thus "YE" indicates the Stars of Our Lady Nuit.  The word "not" indicates Nuit Herself.  15 is the Mystical number of Geburah, the Sphere of Mars, the Planet of Horus, so that "YE" are the children of Horus who are chosen in Nuit.
AL (God, The All), LA (Not, Nothing), KHV (Magical Self), and HVK (To Go, the function of a God).  It is the number of ShT (Set) by way of the Tarot (Sh = Shin = Atu 20, T = Teth = Atu 11. 20+11=31).  31= HDT (Hadit), for H=Atu 17, D=Atu 3 and T=Atu 11, and 17 + 3 + 11 = 31.  The number 666 when translated into Hebrew letters is Mem, Samekh, Vav.  These letters correspond with Atus 12, 14 and 5. 12 + 14 + 5 = 31.  Note in this connection that Path 31 of the Kabbalistic Tree of Life is the Path of the letter Shin, the special letter of 666.  31 is the number resulting from the addition of the Atus of Thoth which corresponds with ‘Aum-Ha’ (AOM-HA), when we attribute Heh to Atu IV, thus A = 0 + O = 15 + M = 12 + H = 4 + A = 0 (See AL, III:75); and 31=KVPh (COPH) by way of Tarot (See AL, III:72).
The sacred number of Horus.  It is the number of AGLI (Drops), DM (Blood), DLI (Aquarius), and LHT (Flame).  It is also the number of AHIH ChIH (I am Life).  It is further the number AL-AChD (AL-ONE or ALONE.  See AL, II:23), as well as the number of EAGLE (E = 5 + A = 1 + G = 3 + L = 30 + E = 5 = 44), and the Eagle is the Kerubic Hawk or Phoenix.  Liber 44 is the Mass of the Phoenix.  44 results from the addition of the Atus of Thoth which corresponds with EAGLE (E = 17 + A = 0 + G = 2 + L = 8 + H = 17).  Quartus Kerub (the Fourth Cherub, the Eagle or Phoenix) was born 44 minutes into the Sign of the Eagle (Phoenix) on October 24, 1964 e.v., in LA (Los Angeles), CA (California), USA.  Los Angeles is the City of Angels (Kerubs), and LA=31; CA is State 31 of the USA.  44 results from the addition of the Atus of Thoth which corresponds with ‘Aum-Ha’ (AOM-HA), when we attribute Atu XVII to Heh, thus A = 0 + O = 15 + M = 12 + H = 17 + A = 0.  In addition, 44 = IHVH when spelled in full as YVD-HA-VV-HA.
56 = NU.  See AL, I:24.  56 = NAH (Beautiful, as is Our Lady Nuit).  The number 56 is hinted at in AL, III:8, where it is stated "and none (= Nun = 50) shall stand before you (= Vav = 6)."  56 is the number of NO (NU).  See AL, III:47, where it is stated "in these are mysteries that ‘no’ beast shall divine."  Note that 5 + 6 = 11 = the special number of Nuit, Hadit, Ra-Hoor-Khuit and Hoor-Pa-Kraat.
61 = AIN (Nothing=Nuit).  Note in this connection that 61 is also the number of ALL (Aleph-Lamed-Lamed).  61 = ANI (Ego = All), ADVN (Master, Lord), and ONE (Vav-Nun-Heh.  See AL, II:76, III:47.)  One = Aleph = Atu0 = Hoor-Paar-Kraat = Child. 61 = WANGA (See AL, I:37). 61=NIA (See AL, III:72.)  NIA represents the first half of the occult equation of Liber Legis.
65 = Nu (NV) + Had (HD).  It is thus a number of Horus, the Child of Nu and Had.  65 = DNI (My Lord), HIKL (Palace), HS (Silence), LVX (Light), NVT (Not = LA = Nuit = Infinity), and HLL (Hell), the Inner Sanctuary.  Note that 6 + 5 = 11.  Also 65 translated into Hebrew letters is Samekh-Heh.  Samekh = Atu 14, Heh = Atu 17.  14+17=31! Thus ADNI (65) is AL (31).
66 = NU + HAD.  It is the mystical number of the Great Work (1--11) and the number of US (See AL, I:40 & 60).  It is also the number of WILL (Vav-Lamed-Lamed) and the number of SU, the Voice of the Eagle (=Horus).  66 = HOOR (Horus) by way of the Tarot (H = Atu 17 + O = Atu 15 + O = Atu 15 + R = Atu 19 = 66).  66 = ALLH (Allah).
75 = NVIT (Nuit, the Star-Goddess), HILL (Lucifer, the Herald Star), and LILH (Night).
78 = AIVAS (Aiwass), ZMAL (Angel of Mars), TA-NICh (Ta-Nech, Parent of Ankh-af-na-Khonsu), OBAH (Obeah, See AL, I:37), ChNK (To Initiate), and MZLA (Mezlah, the Divine Influence descending from On High, whose Key is the Tarot).  78 is the number of cards in Tarot.
93 = OIVZ (Aiwaz), THELEMA (Will), AGAPE (Love), LGS (Logos and Legis, the Word and the Law), MGIKK (Magick), IAChChVS (Iachhus), BNI AL (Sons of God), TzBA (Will, Star, Army or Host), and LAShTAL (Magical Formula).  93 is also the numerical value of the Word of the Neophyte Grade of the A.•.A.•..  To read a comprehensive epistle on the derivation and use of the number 93 visit
111 = ALP (Aleph) spelled in full.  111 = PLA (the Hidden Wonder – a title of Kether) which is the reverse of ALP (Aleph).  PLA or ALP indicates the utterance of the Word from the mouth of the Child Horus, which is LA, written as AL in Hebrew, but as LA in English.  LA and AL are two glyphs of One Word.  P or Peh (the Mouth) is the root of LA/AL, and Peh is the letter of Horus.  111 = AOM (Aum) which is the Seal of the Child (See AL, I:54-56).  111 = NVNE (None.  See AL, I:45 & III:8).  111=LOVE, ALKHEMI, MVNTV (Mentu, the Lord of War) and KVPH (Coph).  See AL, III:72.  Coph represents the second half of the occult equation of Liber Legis indicated by the numbers 8.80.418 of AL, I:46, for 8 + 80 + 418 = 506 = ShVR = Ox = Aleph = 111 = Coph, and 111 = Aleph = Atu 0 (The Fool) = Nothing = AIN = 61.  Also, note that 111 = AChD HVA ALHIM (He is One God), APL (Thick Darkness), ASN (Ruin, Destruction, Sudden Death), MHVLL (Madness or the Destruction of Reason by Illumination), and OVLH (a Holocaust).
120 = SMK (Samekh) spelled in full, the letter of the Lesser Path of the Holy Guardian Angel (Atu XIV).  120 = KOL (Master).  120 = ON (the Sun God).  ON is indicated in AL, III:46, where it is said, "go on, go on, in my strength."  Note that in this connection the number of ‘go’ is 73, the number of Gimel spelled in full, the Greater Path of the Holy Guardian Angel (Atu II), and 73=ChKMH (Chokmah, Sphere of Chiah, the True Will.)
122 = two halves of occult equation united.  For 8 = Atu 8, 80 = Atu 16, and 418 = Atus 21, 9, & 7. 8 + 16 + 21 + 9 + 7 = 61; and 61 + 61(AIN) = 122.  122 = ADVN AIN = Lord of Nothing.  122 = ANI AIN = Ego of Nothing (Ego is non-existent).  122 = ALL (Aleph-Lamed-Lamed) + AIN (Nun-Yod-Aleph).  Note that ALL = AL (Hadit) and AIN = LA (Nuit).
131 = PAN (The All), SMAL (Samael, Hebrew Satan), and MKVSH (the title of Kether, the Crowned One).
156 = BABALON (the Victorious Queen), TzIVN (Zion, the City of the Pyramids), SVPhI (Sufi), MVSIKK (Musick), and PhOV (Crying Aloud).  See also the section relating to Babalon - The Scarlet Woman’ below.
161 = KPh NIA (Coph Nia).  Note that KPh is Kteis (Moon) and Phallus (Sun) in Greek.  NIA is the Child of K (Kteis) and Ph (Peh).  For NIA = 61 = AIN = Nothing = Atu 0 = Hoor-Pa-Kraat = Child.  Or NIA = 61 = ALL = AL = Child.  61 = APP (Apep).  Apep, the serpent, is a form of Hadit (AL).
210 = NOX (Nun-Ayin-Tzaddi), the Word of Hoor and the Key of the Abyss.  210 = ChRB (Sword).  The Sword is the Weapon of Hoor.  210 = OMPEHDA(H).  See AL, III:. 210 = 5 x 6 x 7 and 567 = 506 + 61 (two halves of occult equation united).  210 = ABRAHA (the Lord of the Adepts).
220 = Number of verses in The Book of the Law.  220 is 10 x 22.  Thus it represents and concentrates all the Sephiroth and Paths of the Tree of Life.  It represents The All.  Note that 220 is 11 x 20, and 11 + 20 = 31, and 31 = AL (The All). 220 = BChIR (The Elect = The All).
222 = A numerical glyph of the Dual Aleph.  It represents the two equal opposites indicated by the two halves of the equation of Liber AL.  There are two Alephs, the seen and the unseen.
228 = KRVB (Kerub, Ox, Ruler of Earth), BKVR (First-born), BRVK (Blessed), and OTz ChIIM (The Tree of Life).  The Kerub is Metatron, the Great Archangel who delivered unto Man the Sacred Mysteries of the Qabalah.  Kerub is the Blessed First-born.
333 = ChVRVNZVN (Choronzon), the Terrible Demon on the Threshold of the Abyss.  It is half of the holy number 666.
418 = ChITh (Cheth) spelled in full, HERV-RA-HA (Lord of the New Aeon), RA-HOOR (Solar Horus), ABRAHADABRA (Magick Word of the Aeon, the Word of Double Power), BVLShKIN (Boleskine, House of the Beast), RPSTOVAL (Ropstoval, the Solar Logos.  See AL, II:76), AIWASS (Grk.), BES-NA-MAVT (Parent of Ankh-af-na-Khonsu), ATAH IAO (Essence of Sol), and BITH HA (the House of Hé, the Pentagram).
434 = KVPh NIA (Coph Nia) spelled in full.  Coph Nia is the Secret Holy Force of the Wand of Double Power.  See AL, III:72.  434 = AISh MLChMH (Man or Lord of War) and DLTh (Daleth).  Daleth, the letter of Venus, is the Door to the Supernals and the Link between Chokmah (Coph) and Binah (Nia).
444 = RA-HOOR-KHV (See AL, II:64 & III:11).  444 is also the number of MQDSh (The Sanctuary).
451 = ThHVM (The Abyss), MIThA (Death), KONX OM PAX (Light In Extension), ATh HADM (Essence of Man), A.•.A.•. (Silver Star), ShNANIM (Angels of Tiphareth), and ShILOAM.  "Liber Siloam" is a magical method of inducing Trance.
463 = RA-HOOR-KHVIT (Lord of the New Aeon).  463 = Tav-Samekh-Gimel, the three Paths of the Middle Pillar of the Tree of Life.  463 = MTH HShQD (A Rod of Almond = the Middle Pillar).
506 = 8 + 80 + 418, which numbers indicate the second half of the occult equation of Liber Legis.  See AL, I:46.  Note that if we write 506 backwards we obtain 605, and 605 + 61 = 666.  61 = AIN = Nothing = the first half of the occult equation of Liber Legis.  506 = ShVR (Ox) and the Ox = Aleph = Atu 0 = Nothing.  ShVR, by way of Tarot, produces 44 (Sh = 20 + V = 5 + R = 19 = 44).  44 = Sacred number of Horus.
555 = The Magical Number of the Pentagram, or Pentalpha, which is composed of 5 A’s.  A is Aleph in Hebrew, and Aleph spelled in full is 111.  5 x 111 = 555 = HAD spelled in full.  Thus the Pentagram is a symbol of HAD (Hadit), the flame that burns in every heart of man and in the core of every Star.
567 = 506 + 61, which numbers represent the two halves of the occult equation of Liber Legis.  567 = RAShVNI (First-born, the Child or Offspring of the mystical marriage and consummation of the two halves of the occult equation).
666 = AOM HA (111x6), THERION (Beast), ANKH-AF-NA-KHONSV(T), SVRTh (Spirit of the Sun), and ShMSh IHVH (the Sun of Tetragrammaton).  666 is the Most Holy Number of the Sun.  It is symbolised by the letter Shin made of three Vavs (= 666).  Shin is the letter of Path 31 on the Tree of Life and 31 = AL (The All).  666 is the mystical number of all the Paths of The Concealed Glory, for there are in fact 36 Paths of the Tree of Life, 32 of which are known, and four of which are secret.  666 is the occult number of the Hexagram, the symbol of the Sun, for a single line of the Hexagram contains three equal parts, each of which may be represented by the number 1, so that every line can be symbolised by the number 111.  There are six lines in all, so that 111 x 6 = 666, the most Holy Number of the Sun.  Each angle of the Hexagram is 60 degrees.  60 is the number of the Hebrew letter Samekh, which is the letter of the Holy Guardian Angel or the Solar Self in Man.  Six angles of 60 degrees each equals 360 degrees, and 360 is the number of the Hebrew letter Shin spelled in full.  Shin is the letter of the Sun and of 666.  Also 666 is the number of a "Man" who lives in the Sun.
718 = STELE 666 (See AL, III:19).

The Thelemic Calendar, Date & Time

When specifying dates in the civil calendar, Thelemites will often append 'e.v.', an abbreviation of the Latin phrase era vulgaris, or common era.  The Thelemic calendar counts years from 1904 e.v., the year Aleister Crowley received Liber AL vel Legis from Aiwass.  Each Thelemic year starts on the northern hemisphere Vernal Equinox, coinciding with the Thelemic holiday called the Feast for the Equinox of the Gods; it is often observed on March 20 of the common calendar but actually occurs at the exact time of the Equinox.  Rather than simply giving the year count from 1904, the Thelemic calendar uses a two-tiered system:
  • The upper level gives a count of twenty-two year periods since 1904.
  • The lower level gives the years since the start of the current twenty-two year period.
Both are zero-based, with non-zero numbers being represented as upper and lower case Roman numerals, respectively.  So, for example, the civil year 1996 is (after March 20) Thelemic year IViv, because 1904 + (4 x 22) + 4 equals 1996.

Some Thelemites assign the twenty-two years of each cycle to the twenty-two Trumps of the Tarot.  The 22-year period numbers themselves are also assigned in this way, 1996 being doubly linked to the Emperor (Trump IV of the Tarot).  Within each year, dates and times are often expressed by the positions of the Sun and Moon in the Tropical zodiac.  For example, May 12, 1996 e.v. at 6 pm PST would be expressed as IViv, Sol 22° Taurus, Luna 29° Pisces The Thelemic Time Server reports that the current Thelemic time is: ☉ in 22° ♐ : ☽ in 4° ♈ : Anno IVxviii a.n.  The astrological terms can be replaced with the appropriate symbols if desired.

Thelemic Holy Days

The official holy days of Thelema are set forth in The Book of the Law, Ch. II, v. 36-41, while the specific dates attributed to them are given in Crowley's commentaries:
  • The Rituals of the Elements and Feasts of the Times - observed at the Equinoxes and Solstices.
  • The Feast for the First Night of the Prophet and His Bride - observed on August 12.
  • The Feast for the Three Days of the Writing of the Book of the Law - observed on April 8, 9 and 10, beginning at noon on each day.
  • The Feast for the Supreme Ritual (the Invocation of Horus) - observed on March 20, and represents the opening of the Thelemic New Year.
  • The Feast for the Equinox of the Gods - held on the Vernal Equinox of each year to commemorate the founding of Thelema in 1904.
In addition to the above rituals, three points of passage in the life of each Thelemite are observed:
  • Birth is celebrated in a Feast for Life
  • Puberty is celebrated in a Feast for Fire (for a boy), or a Feast for Water (for a girl)
  • Death of an individual is commemorated in a Greater Feast for Death.

Further information can be seen by visiting the O.T.O. website.  Click HERE.

Thelemic Customs

The majority of Thelemites record their personal practices, and their progress therein, in a Magical Record/Diary.  Most will also practice a particular form of prayer (specified in Liber Resh vel Helios Sub Figura CC) four times daily.  Thelemites normally take mystic names or magical mottos as a sign of commitment, customarily greeting each other with the phrase, "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law"; the customary response is, "Love is the law, love under will".  Sometimes these phrases are abbreviated to the simple statement of the number "ninety-three", this number signifying both Will and Love.

Most Thelemites perform rituals of various types, often as a way of focusing the Will on a given outcome or state of consciousness deemed necessary for their work.  Some perform only solo rituals, but many participate in private or public group rituals.  Group rituals commonly performed include the initiations and Gnostic Mass of the O.T.O. and Crowley's Rites of Eleusis.

Although every Thelemite must interpret the Book of the Law for himself, most consider (in accord with Crowley's interpretation) that every person has a divine True Will, and that if everyone understood and acted upon their Will, there would be harmony in the world.  However, since we are all still in the process of discovering our own True Wills, there is often conflict.  For many Thelemites, a practical ethic of non-interference exists, because to interfere with another's Will and freedom is most likely to be in discord with one's own True Will.  Consequently, most Thelemites and Thelemic communities share this ethic of harmony and non-interference, avoiding the presumption that anyone can know another's True Will better than that person can know it himself.  This promotes an environment of mutual respect and trust, and encourages each individual to discover their own path of True Will rather than relying on the direction of others.


We are all aware of the fact that Aleister Crowley did not invent Thelema, but despite this he is now considered to be its 'prophet'.  He spread the word about its philosophy and through his vast knowledge of magick tied each of the existing magical systems around its core.  The Book of the Law is definitely worthy of study by all those enquiring about the Universe, as it synthesises all of Crowley’s teachings, in spite of the inherent problems caused by it being a so-called 'transmitted' document.  It is vital you don't miss any of the other Holy Books he wrote, which are often mystical tracts of the greatest value.  If you are a complete novice, we can only suggest you read The Confessions of Aleister Crowley before you even begin.  This will at least explain the reason behind his writing certain books and the order in which they were written.

Remember, Thelema emphasises individualism, and the uniqueness of each person's Will.  The word will, referring to divine will, human will, and even the will of the Devil crops up frequently in the Holy Bible, the best known example probably being in The Lord’s Prayer - Matthew Ch 6, v 10:  “Your (thy) kingdom come.  Your (thy) will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”  If you have the time to find more please let me know, but here are just a few of the many other occurrences of the word will to be found in the Bible:

Timothy Ch 2, v 26:  "…and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.”

John Ch 1, v 12-13:  “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”

Revelation Ch 4, v 11:  "Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honour and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created."

Romans Ch 12, v 2:  “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”

You should not believe all the adverse publicity you can read about Aleister Crowley.  Why not discover this exceptional individual for yourself?  Reading The Confessions of Aleister Crowley will make you aware that he was no charlatan, and Magick without Tears is particularly good and clearly written, and even more useful if you are already a practicing Thelemite.

The major problem anyone will encounter when trying to study Crowley is that it is extremely hard work – you really do need to have a thorough grounding in Ceremonial/Ritual Magick, and an in-depth knowledge of so many other schools of thought such as Kabbalah, Yoga, all major religions and divination (in particular Astrology, Geomancy and I Ching), to get a complete understanding of his work.  Whatever you decide to do, don't forget it is your individual and True Will!

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Babalon - The Scarlet Woman

Origin of the name

The word or name Babalon could have derived from various sources, two examples of which follow.  Firstly, there is the obvious resemblance to Babylon, a major city in Mesopotamia, part of the Sumerian culture.  The Sumerian deity Ishtar bears a strong resemblance to Crowley’s Babalon.  Mesopotamia is a Greek word meaning 'between the rivers', these rivers being the Tigris and Euphrates which flow through modern Iraq.  The Euphrates also flows through much of Syria.  The city of Babylon is referred to in several places in the Bible, usually as an image of a once-glorious paradise that has fallen into ruin, a warning against the evils of decadence.  In The Revelation of St. John the Divine, Ch 18, vv 1-5 we find:

“And after these things I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory.  And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.  For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies.  And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.  For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities.”

Secondly, the word may have derived from the Enochian word BABALOND, which, when translated, means harlot.  This derivation is most probable given that Crowley obtained The Vision and the Voice through scrying, having already conducted invocations using the Enochian system of magick.  It is strongly recommended that you obtain a copy of Aleister Crowley’s Liber XXX Aerum Vel Saeculi Sub Figura CCCCXVIII (otherwise known as The Vision and the Voice).  To download your own version, click HERE.

He probably chose the spelling of Babalon for its Kabbalistic significance.  By replacing the letter 'y' with 'a', the word 'AL' appears in the centre.  The whole then naturally breaks into Bab-al-on.  Bab is Arabic for a door, or gate, al is the Key of Liber Legis, and is also a Kabbalistic title of God, meaning The One in Hebrew, and on is the name of the Egyptian city that the Greeks called Heliopolis, the City of the Pyramids.  Using the Hebrew system of Gematria, Babalon enumerates to 156, which is the number of squares on each of the elemental Enochian tablets of Dee and Kelly.  These tablets are themselves identified with the City of the Pyramids, with each square being the base of a pyramid.  A mathematical formula containing seven sevens was devised by Crowley to represent the number 156:

Who or What is Babalon?

Babalon, possibly better known as The Scarlet Woman, in addition to The Great Mother, and the Mother of Abomination, is a goddess found in Aleister Crowley’s system/philosophy of Thelema, which originated in 1904 with his receiving of The Book of the Law, although it was not officially founded until 1920.  See also No. 156 in Thelemic Numbers & Words above.  Babalon is also a known holy name of Binah, corresponding with the High Priestess of the Tarot, whose title in Thelemic Tarot decks is 'Priestess of the Silver Star'.

In her most abstract form, The Scarlet Woman represents the female sexual impulse and the liberated woman, although she can also be identified with Mother Earth, in her most fertile sense.  At the same time, Crowley believed that she had an earthly aspect in the form of a spiritual office, which could be filled by earthly women, as a counterpart to his own identification of To Mega Therion (The Great Beast) whose duty it was to help manifest the energies of the Aeon of Horus.

Her consort is Chaos, the Father of Life and the male form of the Creative Principle.  Babalon is often described as being girded with a sword whilst riding the Beast, and is referred to as the sacred whore; her primary symbol is the Chalice or Graal.

Principally, the god-form of Babalon seems to be derived from a scene in the Revelation of St John the Divine, Ch 17, vv 3-6, a source of much inspiration in Crowley's cosmology from being a mere child:

"So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns.  And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication: And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.  And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration."

In The Book of Thoth, Crowley wrote, “She rides astride the Beast; in her left hand she holds the reins, representing the passion which unites them.  In her right she holds aloft the cup, the Holy Grail aflame with love and death.  In this cup are mingled the elements of the sacrament of the Aeon.”

The Cup/Chalice/Grail of Babalon

In Crowley’s Thoth Tarot Cards, of the trump card number 7, The Chariot, in The Book of Thoth he writes: “The central and most important feature of the card is its centre - The Holy Grail.”  This Grail/Cup/Chalice is so important that the Charioteer is charged with only one task: "His only function is to carry and protect the Holy Grail."  From Crowley’s Magick in Theory and Practice (MTP), and other works, we know that the Holy Grail is synonymous with the Cup of Babalon.  However, the formula of the Cup of Babalon, i.e. that which describes its function and purpose, was never clearly defined.  To understand the importance of the Grail/Cup/Chalice, the formula needs to be investigated.

But before proceeding with this investigation, let us reconsider the nature of Babalon.  As we have seen, she is the Lady of the City of the Pyramids, the destination of the Adept crossing the Abyss.  She is also the Thelemic personification of Binah, the Great Mother.  The Cup of Babalon symbolises her womb, the Universal Womb spoken of in III - OF THE CEREMONY OF THE INTROIT in The Gnostic Mass “wherein all men are begotten, and in which they shall rest.”

The actual formula of the Cup of Babalon is revealed in the first six verses of Liber Cheth vel Vallum Abiegni Sub Figura CLVI, one of the Holy Books of Thelema (a publication in Class A):

This is the secret of the Holy Graal, that is the sacred vessel of our Lady the Scarlet Woman, Babalon the Mother of Abominations, the bride of Chaos, that rideth upon our Lord the Beast.
Thou shalt drain out thy blood that is thy life into the golden cup of her fornication.
Thou shalt mingle thy life with the universal life.  Thou shalt keep not back one drop.
Then shall thy brain be dumb, and thy heart beat no more, and all thy life shall go from thee; and thou shalt be cast out upon the midden, and the birds of the air shall feed upon thy flesh, and thou bones shall whiten in the sun.
Then shall the winds gather themselves together, and bear thee up as it were a little heap of dust in a sheet that hath four corners, and they shall give it unto the guardians of the abyss.
And because there is no life therein, the guardians of the abyss shall bid the angels of the winds pass by.  And the angels shall lay thy dust in the City of Pyramids, and the name thereof shall be no more.

The blood of the Adept that drains into the Cup symbolises the personality or ego that must be annihilated before he can cross the Abyss.  As stated in Liber ABA (Book 4), “... the ego-idea must be ruthlessly rooted out before Understanding can be attained.”

This blood is sometimes referred to as the blood of the saints, a saint being one who sacrifices everything, even his life, in devotion to a deity or the principle of enlightenment.  In the 12th Aethyr of Liber 418 we read “Blessed are the saints that their blood is mingled in the cup, and can never be separate anymore.”  To help him accomplish this task, Liber Cheth vel Vallum Abiegni Sub Figura CLVI advises the Adept to “divest thyself of all goods,” specifically identified in the text as wealth, health and love.  The Cup of Babalon is the Universal Womb, and the blood therein is the Water of Universal Life. When the Adept mingles his blood with the blood in the cup, he dissolves his ego in the Universal Life.  The annihilation of the Ego must be absolute or else there will be dire consequences.  In verses 11 and 12 of Liber Cheth vel Vallum Abiegni Sub Figura CLVI we find:

For if thou dost not this with thy will, then shall We do this despite thy will.  So that thou attain to the Sacrament of the Graal in the Chapel of Abominations.
And behold!  If by stealth thou keep unto thyself one thought of thine, then thou shalt be cast out into the abyss for ever; and thou shalt be the lonely one, the eater of dung, the afflicted in the Day of Be-with-Us (Liber ABA).

Once all of the ego-blood has been drained from the Adept, he dies and his body is left to decay in the Sun.  The fourth verse of Liber Cheth vel Vallum Abiegni Sub Figura CLVI describes the alchemical process of putrefaction, the spiritual or symbolic death of gross matter that must occur in order for the soul or spirit to be purified and reborn.

The little pile of dust that remains is the essential essence of the Adept, his True self.  It is the life which has no consciousness of ‘I’, now no longer fettered by the ego.  The dust is gathered in a sheet with four corners, which represents the position of the Abyss between the ideal and the actual in a geometrical sense.  For the sheet is a plane, that which is attributed to Binah in the Naples Arrangement (see Book of Thoth), yet it has four corners, and is thus a square, a symbol of Chesed and manifestation.

This dust is carried by the “angels of the winds” and given to the guardians of the abyss, and because there is “no life therein,” the guardians allow it to pass to the City of the Pyramids in Binah.  There the Adept is

“... received and reconstructed in the Third Order, as a Babe in the womb of our Lady BABALON, under the Night of PAN, to grow up to be Himself wholly and truly as He was not previously ... (One star in sight - Liber ABA).”

The Adept is reborn in the Cup of Babalon from the Water of Universal Life.  His name, a symbol of the ego or “I” consciousness, “shall be no more,” for in Binah the Adept becomes NEMO, Latin for “no man.”

The formula of the Cup of Babalon can be summarised as follows: The Adept drains his blood (ego) into the Cup of Babalon, mingling it with the Water of Universal Life.  He dies and putrefies into a little pile of dust (the True Self).  This dust is carried across the Abyss, and because there is “no life therein” (no ego), the dust is allowed to pass to Binah.  There the Adept is reborn as NEMO in the Cup (womb) of Babalon.

Aspects of Babalon

Babalon, although a very complex figure, has three essential aspects within Thelemic literature:

  • The Gateway to the City of the Pyramids (the mystical home of those adepts who have crossed the Abyss)
  • The Office of the Scarlet Woman
  • The Great Mother

The Gateway to the City of the Pyramids

Within Crowley’s Order known as the Astrum Argentum AA, which he created in 1907 with George Cecil Jones, once the Adept has attained the Knowledge and Conversation of his Holy Guardian Angel, he might then reach that final great milestone, the crossing of the Abyss, the great spiritual wilderness of nothingness and dissolution.  Unfortunately, the Demon of Dispersion, Choronzon, dwells in the Abyss and it his job to trap the unwary traveller in his meaningless world of illusion.

However, Babalon waits on the other side, beckoning the Adept.  Should he give himself totally to her, the symbol of this act being the pouring of his blood into her Graal, he will become impregnated in her, to be reborn as a Master of the Temple and a saint who dwells in the City of the Pyramids.  In Crowley's Magick Without Tears, we read, “[S]he guardeth the Abyss.  And in her is a perfect purity of that which is above, yet she is sent as the Redeemer to them that are below.  For there is no other way into the Supernal mystery but through her and the Beast on which she rideth.”

And in The Vision and the Voice (12th Aethyr) we find: “Let him look upon the cup whose blood is mingled therein, for the wine of the cup is the blood of the saints.  Glory unto the Scarlet Woman, Babalon the Mother of Abominations, that rideth upon the Beast, for she hath spilt their blood in every corner of the earth and lo! she hath mingled it in the cup of her whoredom.”

She is considered to be a sacred whore because she denies no one, and yet she extracts a great price, i.e. the very blood of the adept and his ego-identity as an earthly individual.  This aspect of Babalon is described further in the 12th Aethyr: “This is the Mystery of Babalon, the Mother of Abominations, and this is the mystery of her adulteries, for she hath yielded up herself to everything that liveth, and hath become a partaker in its mystery.  And because she hath made herself the servant of each, therefore is she become the mistress of all.  Not as yet canst thou comprehend her glory.

Beautiful art thou, O Babalon, and desirable, for thou hast given thyself to everything that liveth, and thy weakness hath subdued their strength.  For in that union thou didst understand.  Therefore art thou called Understanding, O Babalon, Lady of the Night!”

The concept contained within this aspect of Babalon is that of the mystical ideal, the quest to become one with All through the annihilation of the earthly ego ("For as thy blood is mingled in the cup of BABALON, so is thine heart the universal heart.”)  The blood spilling into the graal of Babalon is then used by her to "flood the world with Life and Beauty" (meaning to create Masters of the Temple that are "released" back into the world of men), symbolised by the Crimson Rose of 49 Petals.

In sex magic, the mixture of menstrual blood and semen produced in the sexual act with the Scarlet Woman or Babalon is called the Elixir Rubeus (abbreviated as El. Rub. by Crowley in his magical diaries), and is referred to as the "effluvium of Babalon, the Scarlet Woman, which is the menstruum of the lunar current" by Kenneth Grant.

The Office of the Scarlet Woman

In The Vision and the Voice (16th Aethyr), Crowley wrote, "This is Babalon, the true mistress of The Beast; of Her, all his mistresses on lower planes are but avatars.”  Although Crowley often wrote that Babalon and the Scarlet Woman are one, there are also many instances where the Scarlet Woman is seen more as a representative or physical manifestation of the universal feminine principle.

We then find in the 1996 popular edition of The Law is for All (as edited by Hymenaeus Beta based upon the final Wilkinson manuscript), “It is necessary to say here that The Beast appears to be a definite individual; to wit, the man Aleister Crowley.  But the Scarlet Woman is an officer replaceable as need arises.  Thus to this present date of writing, Anno XVI, Sun in Sagittarius, there have been several holders of the title.”

Crowley's Scarlet & Other Women

Aleister Crowley believed that many of his lovers and magical companions were playing a cosmic role, even to the point of fulfilling prophecy.  The following is a list of those women he considered to have been his Scarlet Women, and those who played a significant role in his life (quotes against Scarlet Women are taken from The Law is for All).  No lovers prior to 1904 are listed as the role of Scarlet Woman did not exist prior to receiving the Book of the Law in April of that year in Cairo.

1.  Scarlet Women

Rose Edith Crowley née Kelly
(1874 – 1932)
Soror Ouarda 'the Seer'
The Cairo Working
"My wife.  Put me in touch with Aiwas; see Equinox 1, 7, 'The Temple of Solomon the King.'  Failed as elsewhere is on record."
Mary d'Este Sturges
(1871 – 1931)
Soror Virakam
The Abuldiz Working
"A doubtful case.  Put me in touch with Abuldiz, hence helped with Book 4.  Failed due to jealousies."
Jeanne Robert Foster
(1879 – 1970)
Soror Hilarion 'the Cat'

"Bore the 'child' to whom this Book refers later.  Failed from respectability."

Roddie Minor
(1884 – 1979)
Soror Ahitha 'the Camel'
The Amalantrah Working
"Brought me in touch with Amalantrah.  Failed from indifference to the Work."

Marie von Röhling née Lavroff
(1891 – ....)
Soror Olun 'the Dragon'

"A Doubtful case.  Helped to inspire Liber CXI.  Failed from indecision."

Bertha Almira Prykryl née Bruce
(1887 – 1978)
Soror Almeira

"Delayed assumption of duties, hence made way for No 7."

Leah Hirsig
(1883 – 1975)
Soror Alostrael 'the Ape'
The Cairo Working
"Assisted me in actual initiation; still at my side, An XVII, Sol in Sagittarius."
Dorothy Olsen
(1892 – 1981)
Soror Astrid

Although 'classed' as 'scarlet women', none of the following could really be defined as such since no further magical operations were performed, and they were not even initiated into Crowley's Magical Orders,
although he was still trying to produce a son.

Kasimira Bass
(1887 – ....)

Maria Teresa Ferrari de Miramar
(1894 – 1955)
'Old Nile' / 'The High Priestess of Voodoo'
Hanni Larissa Jaeger
(1911 – 19..)
'the Monster'
Bertha Busch
(1895 – 19..)

Evelyn Pearl Brooksmith
(1899 – 1967)

2.  Other Significant Lovers

Alice Ethel Coomaraswamy
née Richardson
(1889 – 1958)
'the Monkey'
Leila Ida Nerissa Bathurst Waddell
(1880 - 1932)
Soror Agatha

Helen Westley/Helen Hollis
(1875 – 1942)
'the Snake'
Gerda Maria von Kothek
(1896 – 1967)
'the Owl'

Anna Catherine Miller
(.... – ....)
'the Dog'
Ninette Shumway
(1895 – 1989)
Soror Cypris

Ninette is included here because she bore Crowley a daughter.

Deirdre O'Doherty (pic 1995)
(.... – ....)

Deirdre is included here because she was a once only lover of Crowley's, but the only one to bear him a son!

The Great Mother

Within the Gnostic Mass, Babalon is mentioned in the Gnostic Creed: “And I believe in one Earth, the Mother of us all, and in one Womb wherein all men are begotten, and wherein they shall rest, Mystery of Mystery, in Her name BABALON.” : Here, Babalon is identified with Binah on the Tree of Life, the sphere that represents the Great Sea and such mother-goddesses as Isis, Bhavani, and Ma'at.  Moreover, she represents all physical mothers.

Bishops T. Apiryon and Helena wrote:

BABALON, as the Great Mother, represents MATTER, a word which is derived from the Latin word for Mother.  She is the physical mother of each of us, the one who provided us with material flesh to clothe our naked spirits; she is the Archetypal Mother, the Great Yoni, the Womb of all that lives through the flowing of Blood; she is the Great Sea, the Divine Blood itself which cloaks the World and which courses through our veins; and She is Mother Earth, the Womb of All Life that we know.

Aleister Crowley dedicated Waratah-Blossoms (Chapter 49 in The Book of Lies) to Babalon:

  • Seven are the veils of the dancing-girl in the harem of IT.
  • Seven are the names, and seven are the lamps beside Her bed.
  • Seven eunuchs guard Her with drawn swords; No Man may come nigh unto Her.
  • In Her wine-cup are seven streams of the blood of the Seven Spirits of God.
  • Seven are the heads of THE BEAST whereon She rideth.
  • The head of an Angel: the head of a Saint: the head of a Poet: the head of An Adulterous Woman: the head of a Man of Valour: the head of a Satyr: and the head of a Lion-Serpent.
  • Seven letters hath Her holiest name; and it is

  • This is the Seal upon the Ring that is on the Fore-finger of IT: and it is the Seal upon the Tombs of them whom She hath slain.
  • Here is Wisdom.  Let Him that hath Understanding count the Number of Our Lady; for it is the Number of a Woman; and Her Number is An Hundred and Fifty and Six.

Crowley's commentary on this chapter:

"49 is the square of 7.  7 is the passive and feminine number.  The chapter should be read in connection with Chapter 31 for IT now reappears.  The chapter heading, the Waratah, is a voluptuous scarlet flower, common in Australia, and this connects the chapter with Chapters 28 and 29; but this is only an allusion, for the subject of the chapter is OUR LADY BABALON, who is conceived as the feminine counterpart of IT.  This does not agree very well with the common or orthodox theogony of Chapter 11; but it is to be explained by the dithyrambic nature of the chapter.  In paragraph 3, NO MAN is of course NEMO, the Master of the Temple, Liber 418 will explain most of the allusions in this chapter.  In paragraphs 5 and 6 the author frankly identifies himself with the BEAST referred to in the book, and in the Apocalypse, and in LIBER LEGIS.  In paragraph 6 the word "angel" may refer to his mission, and the word "lion-serpent" to the sigil of his ascending decan.  (Teth = Snake = spermatozoon and Leo in the Zodiac, which like Teth itself has the snake-form. theta first written {Sun} = Lingam-Yoni and Sol.)  Paragraph 7 explains the theological difficulty referred to above.  There is only one symbol, but this symbol has many names: of those names BABALON is the holiest.  It is the name referred to in Liber Legis, 1, 22.  It will be noticed that the figure, or sigil, of BABALON is a seal upon a ring, and this ring is upon the forefinger of IT.  This identifies further the symbol with itself.  It is ... said to be the seal upon the tombs of them that she hath slain, that is, of the Masters of the Temple."

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Thelemic Order of the Golden Dawn

We have no affiliation to this order, but nevertheless feel it is at least worthy of a mention on this site.  On the Vernal Equinox in 1990, a new order was begun by David Cherubim and Christopher S. Hyatt, born Alan Ronald Miller, (1943 - 2008) supposedly dedicated to the continuation of the Magical Teachings of Aleister Crowley and Dr Israel Regardie.  This order is known as The Thelemic Order of the Golden Dawn or the New Order of the Golden Dawn Novus Ordo Aurora Aurea.

It is a 'Thelemic Organisation' teaching the Sacred Mysteries of Ceremonial Magick, Tantra, Alchemy, Kabbalah, Tarot, Astrology and Yoga.  It operates as a fraternal group in Los Angeles under the direction of its founders and in connection with the Israel Regardie Foundation.  The system, structure and philosophy of this order is unlike the old order.  It is a Thelemic Order with seven degrees or grades of initiation and includes a probationary grade of neophyte.  These seven grades correspond with the seven Chakras of Yoga, the seven Metals of Alchemy and the seven ancient Planets of Astrology:

Magical & Mystical Grades of the Order

Third Order

Ipsissimus - 7th Degree
Magus - 6th Degree
Magister Templi - 5th Degree

Second Order

Babe of the Abyss - (the link)

Adeptus Exemptus - 4th Degree
Adeptus Major - 3rd Degree
Adeptus Minor - 2nd Degree

First Order

Dominus Liminis - (the link)

Zelator - 1st Degree
Neophyte - 0 Degree

The system of the order is still supposed to be Kabbalistic in structure, but the method of ascending the Tree of Life differs.  The rituals have been constructed to accord with the principles of The Book of the Law and are designed to teach or instruct an aspirant in the Mysteries of Thelema to enable him to accomplish his True Will and ultimately gain the Knowledge and Conversation of His Holy Guardian Angel.  Should you require more information, why not visit their website?

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