Tag Archives: Aleister Crowley

World Tarot Day

Today is World Tarot Day, and so I thought I (as a Tarot reader myself) would contribute by reviewing my own favourite Tarot decks.

Golden Dawn – Robert Wang

Golden Dawn Deck – artwork by Robert Wang

The Golden Dawn was my entry into occultism generally, and consequently the Tarot as well. Hence Robert Wang’s Golden Dawn Tarot was the first deck I ever bought: it was the one on which I learnt. The trumps struck me as the most impressive, although I confess I thought the art-work was a bit ordinary. Nevertheless this is still my default deck today, the one which I most use for doing readings. I have to admit though that if I were buying a Golden Dawn deck for the first time today, I would probably get Tabatha Cicero’s versioninstead, mainly because the art-work is livelier.

Crowley-Thoth

Crowley-Thoth deck. Designed by Aleister Crowley, illustrated by Lady Frieda Harris.

Aleister Crowley’s Thoth Tarot deck is one of a number of decks which I keep at home mainly for the sake of comparison. One has to remember that for 19 years from 1969 until 1988, this was the closest thing to a Golden Dawn type deck that was publicly available. In many ways this would be an ideal deck, due to its bold artwork courtesy of Lady Frieda Harris and its wealth of symbolism which is all authentic … from a Thelemic point of view. Essentially Crowley took the GD symbolism, right down to the particular colours appropriate to each card – and augmented it with ideas derived from his own visionary work, e.g The Book of the Law and The Vision and The Voice. Hence, whilst it is mostly GD-ish, and undoubtedly superb for actual Thelemites, a GD purist would need to be wary of this. (Incidentally, a good book to read about this deck is Lon Milo Duquette’s Understanding Aleister Crowley’s Thoth Tarot).

Golden Dawn Enochian Skrying Tarot

Golden Dawn Enochian Skrying Tarot

This is not really a Tarot deck per se, more a Cartomancy deck. It is not based upon the traditional Tarot format at all: instead, each card represents a portion of the Enochian Watchtowers and the Tablet of Union. Meanwhile, the reverse of each card instead of having a uniform backing has elemental symbolism (corresponding to the Enochian associations on the obverse side) which can be used in skrying. The meanings of the individual cards take a bit of getting used to, although there is a logic to the general scheme which is based on GD teachings.

This has given me an idea – about how an Adept might incorporate this into ceremonial magick. When performing a divination with this deck, typically there will be one card which points to the solution of a given problem. Because each card represents a portion of the Enochian Watchtowers, the “solution-card” will therefore represent a particular Enochian angel – a being who can be evoked by constructing a magical ceremony with the appropriate symbolism.

Rider Waite

Rider Waite – designed by A E Waite, illustrated by Pamela Coleman Smith

Given that the Rider Waite deck is the world’s most popular version, I suppose that I could hardly call myself a tarot connoisseur unless I actually had a copy. Undoubtedly Pamela Coleman-Smith’s artwork must be a big reason for its popularity – especially the fact that each of the Minor Arcana is individually illustrated.

The Mythic Tarot

The Mythic Tarot

I decided to get hold of this after seeing a fellow Tarot reader use this. What I find most appealing is that the creators of this deck have based the artwork on Greek mythology. Hence: the suit of Cups is the story of Cupid and Psyche; Wands is the story of Jason and the Argonauts; whilst the characters in the Major Arcana are identified as Greek gods and goddesses. This is a visually appealing deck because, like the Rider Waite one, all 78 cards are fully illustrated. Also it is refreshing to see a deck which goes with an original idea for a change which comes off successfully.

Builders of the Adytum

The BOTA deck.

Of all the Tarot decks which are available, the ones that particularly interest me are those created by Occultists – as opposed to the many which appear to be novelty decks, or created by people with only a superficial understanding of the subject. Hence my reason for being drawn to not only the Golden Dawn, but also the Crowley Thoth, Rider Waite, etc decks. I suppose it was thus inevitable that I would seek out the Builders of the Adytum, given that it was designed by not only an occultist but by an actual Tarot scholar, Paul Foster Case. The thing about the BOTA deck is that it comes uncoloured: the point being that as a student learns about the Tarot, they use their own knowledge of the esoteric associations of colour to colour it in themselves. Unfortunately I discovered that the BOTA deck is very hard to come by on Amazon – with one going for over £100.

So I cheated.

The unfortunate fact, I am ashamed to say, is that a full set of scans of the entire BOTA deck is available via bit-torrent and certain P2P clients. So whilst I have never purchased a BOTA deck, I am nevertheless using my Adobe Photoshop skills to illustrate it anyway. 😉

The Black Tarot

The Black Tarot – illustrated by Luis Royo

This is something of a curiosity which came into my possession, and of which I have not made use since acquiring it. The trumps feature a lot of lurid artwork – dragons, monsters, scantily-clad buxom women, etc – which only vaguely references traditional tarot imagery. Meanwhile the accompanying booklet puts a Vama-marga Tantric spin on interpretation of the cards.

I first acquired this when a dear friend of mine was getting rid of her spare tarot decks, so I just happened to pick this up. Ironically, the same friend later received a present – another copy of the Black Tarot. Hmm seems to me this must be more than coincidence – perhaps the universe is trying to tell her something???

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Reincarnation: A Hermetic Approach

So Jesus said to them, “Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

Matthew 19:28 (emphasis added).

Reincarnation, metempsychosis, palingenesis, past lives, etc, has cropped up in the Western Mystery Tradition since at least the time of Plato. In the Phaedrus, he *cough* I mean Socrates believed that it was man’s destiny to be successively re-born in all walks of life until he was re-born in the highest, which was obviously as a Philosopher, before re-joining the gods.

The New Testament offers evidence that the Jews of Jesus’ time thought that it was theoretically possible for a dead person to be re-born – because nothing is impossible to God – but there is no evidence to suggest that they thought it occurred on a regular basis. However, the writers of the New Testament did believe that future re-incarnation would occur at least once: in the Resurrection on the Last Day. Note the biblical passage at the top of this article – in the Greek New Testament the word for “regeneration” is actually Palingenesis or “re-birth.” The same word has been used for both personal re-incarnation and re-birth of the Universe (like a re-setting of The Matrix!) by some pagan schools of thought, although such usage was hushed up by the Church.

So that was the Western appreciation of re-incarnation… until the 19th century, when Theosophy introduced a decidedly Eastern approach – which from personal observation seems to be what most people understand by the term today. One finds it in the work of Dion Fortune, both her fiction and non-fiction work. Aleister Crowley delighted in it, especially if it meant he could claim just about every kewl person from history from Edward Kelly to Eliphas Levi via Swinburne was one of his prior incarnations. Less frivolously the concept of re-incarnation was adopted, from Theosophy, by a large number of occult groups, from Martinism to Wicca and beyond.

It is thus possible to extrapolate some general principles regarding a “Hermetic” approach to re-incarnation, if one is for one moment prepared to indulge the fiction that “Hermetic” refers to the practices of the Occult revival of the late 19th century, and not to actual Hermeticism as it was at the time it was first invented.

The first and most important principle for going in search of one’s past lives this:

Have prepared in advance a strategy for dealing with the Dweller On The Threshold when you meet it.

Keep Calm And Ask the Dweller On The Threshold For Your Karmic Lesson

Sensible advice for all initiates seeking knowledge of their past lives.

The “Dweller On The Threshold” (or “DotT” as I shall hereinafter refer to it) is a nasty beasty that you will meet when trying to uncover your past-lives. It is so terrifying that it is likely to put you off attempting to discover your past lives if you don’t realise what it really is. The DotT was first described Bulwher(“It was a dark and stormy night…”)Lytton in his book Zanoni, and seems to have been adopted as gospel by Blavatsky, so that it was repeated in hushed tones by the likes of Dion Fortune, Rudolf Steiner, etc.

The DotT looks different for every person who encounters it: it might appear astrally as a thing, an entity, or a disturbing situation; or instead of appearing astrally it might manifest in your life as something disturbing or challenging. It is described in Theosophical texts as an astral double which each person leaves hanging about on the astral plane from the last time they incarnated.

It is this which gives the key to understanding its true nature: the DotT is in fact an astral representation of all of the Karma you have accrued from previous lives, and a DotT-experience amounts to suddenly having to deal with all your Karma all at once. The Dweller on the Threshold is, thus, you.

The ignorant person thus comes up against the DotT and, not knowing what it is, is put off following the spiritual path for the rest of their life. These people can be found spending their days writing highly cynical and depressive texts for Llewellyn or Weiser or New Falcon about how futile the spiritual path is! The true Initiate, however, recognises the DotT for what it is and takes ownership. By not losing ones nerve and by carefully interrogating it, the DotT successively reveals the Karmic lessons which the individual must learn, and the tasks that the individual must perform in order to free him/herself from his/her Karmic burdens.

This leads to the second important principle that a Metempsychonaut should observe: one should first

Be an Adept of all forms of practical magick.

By finding out from the DotT what one’s Karmic lessons are, one is inevitably tasked with list of things to do. It therefore follows that one should be well versed in practical magick, as one can then use one’s skills to resolve one’s Karmic issues.

Logically therefore, the ideal time for going in search of one’s past-lives is only after you have obtained Adepthood. Indeed, Franz Bardon strongly advises the new initiate not to go seeking for one’s past lives, because as soon as you do so, you will become responsible for them.

Unfortunately, from my own observations I see people everyday attempt past-life regressions with no thought of what they are going to do when their past-lives are revealed to them. This is not a Hermetic approach, this is just an astral junket – or spiritual tourism.

Conclusion

However there are at least two positive outcomes which will arise from the whole business of going up against the DotT. The first is in the realisation that the DotT is not the Shadow, because it represents all of ones Karma both good and bad. Hence, although the DotT might appear off-putting to some, to those who have lead saintly lives so-far or at least not terribly bad ones, the DotT may well prove far less traumatic than one might have first feared.

Secondly, the authorities all predict an optimistic outcome for those that go through with the ordeal of confronting the DotT and rising to the challenges that it sets. Rudolf Steiner, for one, says that as one resolves each Karmic issue that one has, the DotT appears less and less like a horrible monster and more and more like an Angel of Light, so that eventually it becomes not a barrier but a Spirit-Guide. Most importantly however, it leaves the Initiate with an idea that Death is not the End, and that the terrors of the grave are purely illusory.

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Abramelin Investment Opportunity: Please Share This With Everyone You Know

You now have the opportunity to make a whole load of cash and participate in one of the greatest magical experiments ever attempted in the history of the occult! This is an investment scheme in which I predict the yield over two years will be a massive 20% above the initial lump sum: which you have to admit far surpasses anything offered by banks or anything like that. (NB What with the current financial crisis just about any investment is probably better than anything offered by the banks, but that is by the by). All you have to do is to keep your money invested for the full two years to reap your rewards. The more you invest, the more you will get out! It’s win win win!!!

Wads of dollar bills

This is what you will be getting back in return for investing in my scheme!

So how, I hallucinate that I hear you ask, do I take advantage of this great opportunity? The details of the scheme are as follows:

I, Alex Sumner, the world’s greatest expert on the occult, intend to undertake the full Abramelin operation: by which I mean not just the 6-month version in the original Mathers edition, but the 18-month version outlined in the more recent Book of Abramelin. I will then use such magical powers as I have gained after attaining Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel to conjure up enough cash to pay off all my backers.

However to do this, I need quite a bit of cash up-front! Hence why I am appealing for investors. I estimate my costs will be as follows.

“Initiation Fee” (see below) £16,000
Living expenses for eighteen months:
Including rent of premises in which to live and turn into an oratory, purchase / construction of magical equipment, and all other living costs (food, bills, etc).
£45,000
TOTAL £61,000

Gold bullionThe “Initiation Fee” is to reflect a detail from the story of Abramelin which a lot of so-called modern practitioners tend to ignore because they don’t understand it. Before Abraham the Jew received the Sacred Magick from Abramelin, he gave the latter Ten Golden Guilders, which Abramelin then used to distribute to the poor. Now a Guilder was a coin representing a tenth of a pound in weight. In other words, Abraham the Jew gave Abramelin a pound of gold: which by my calculations is worth approximately £16,000 at today’s prices.

Now I personally believe that there are several blinds deliberately written into the Book of Abramelin, to trap the unwary. One of them is the part where Abraham says that your Holy Guardian Angel will reveal even more than is written in the book. At first the context makes it look as if he means that the Angel will reveal more magick squares than are set forth in the book: but I believe the real meaning is that there is an esoteric interpretation of the Book of Abramelin which is not revealed in the plain text of the story. A fuller interpretation is something like this:

  • The meeting between Abraham the Jew and Abramelin where the former received the Sacred Magick was in fact an Initiation ceremony;
  • The surrendering of the pound of gold – nb not for payment, but for distribution to charity! – was in fact a vital part of the Initiation ceremony. After all, if you sacrifice that which is most precious to you, as opposed to giving away just something you can afford, it tends to leave you spiritually motivated.
  • The gold was not simple gold coins, but gold that had been created as part of an Alchemical transmutation. In other words, only someone who has mastered Alchemy has the right to undertake the Sacred Magick.

This may look at first sight to be a radical notion, but consider the work of the Gold Und Rosenkreutzer Order. The initiate concentrated on progressively mastering alchemy up until the Magister Templi grade, when they completed a transmutation. In the Magus grade, they actually turned to a magickal regime not dissimilar to that of Abramelin. As anyone who has studied Alchemy will know, the Alchemist is transmuted along with the metals, so that by the time he has got to that stage he will have gone through the most intense spiritual and physical purification possible.

There is another similarity to the Magus grade, to wit: the Magus is symbolically an initiate of Chokmah, or someone who has risen above the spheres of the planets. In the Book of Abramelin the magician is told not not to observe astrological conditions, but to invoke any planet when it is at the zenith: which means that an Abramelin-Magician can invoke any planet on any day of the week. From which vantage point can one truly free to work independent of astrological conditions – if not from above the spheres of the planets?

Viewed this way, this would imply that far from being part of the grade of Adeptus Minor, an assumption made by Crowley, the Sacred Magick was always meant to be reserved to the 9=2 grade or its equivalent, and the initiation ceremony through which Abraham the Jew went was in fact the real Magus ritual.

So anyway that is my modest proposal. I suggest that to keep the arithmetic simple you invest in multiples of £1000. Please click on the link marked ALEX SUMNER APPRECIATION FUND in order to make your investment. 🙂

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Adeptus Major

Today I am going to do a survey of the grade of 6=5 Adeptus Major, by examining how the various different offshoots of the Golden Dawn –  the Alpha et Omega, the Stella Matutina, the Holy Order of the Golden Dawn, and the Fellowship of the Rosy Cross – decided to deal with the subject. The one thing they all have in common is that they agree the grade has to do with Geburah – in the same way that 5=6 Adeptus Minor is to do with Tiphereth – but there the similarities end. Each different faction went off in their own direction, having different ideas about what the Adeptus Major was actually meant to do.

As far as I am aware, none of the published Adeptus Major rituals are used by modern day Golden Dawn orders – they have gone on to use different or modified versions.

Alpha Et Omega

The cover for "Book of the Concourse of the Watchtowers" by Tabatha Cicero, featuring a reconstructed version of the Tablet Of Union.

The Book of the Concourse of the Watchtowers, by Sandra Tabatha Cicero

The Alpha et Omega 6=5 so-called Ritual has now been published: as an appendix to Tabatha Cicero’s new publication, “Book of the Concourse of the Watchtowers.” I say so-called because the version published is not a real ritual. It does not have an opening or closing, nor does it have any drama in it. It consists of one chief officer, the “Conferring Adept,” teaching the signs and words of the grade to the Aspirant, who is prompted throughout the ceremony by a conductor. The explanation of the Tarot cards is brief. If anything, it is more of a fragment of a ritual – perhaps part of something that remains unpublished, or a work-in-progress.

The only interesting thing, IMHO, is that the brief explanation of the nature of the signs gives a tantalising glimpse into what Mathers might have imagined the work of an Adeptus Major to be – i.e. the use of Geburah-force to subdue evil entities – although no detail is given about the Adeptus Major curriculum itself. It is also interesting in that the symbolism anticipated the ideas the Crowley expressed about the nature of the Adeptus Major grade in the latter’s John St John.

Stella Matutina

Now the Adeptus Major ritual of the Stella Matutina is a far more interesting affair. An incomplete version of the ritual was published by Pat Zalewski in his book Secret Inner Order Rituals of the Golden Dawn: fortunately though, I have seen a copy dating from a Stella Matutina temple circa 1916, so I have been able to compare. Now this is a proper ritual. It has drama, it has beautiful ritualistic speeches, but most importantly it introduces in the course of the ritual several key qabalistic concepts which provide much food for thought. The ritual should be read in conjunction with the account of W B Yeats’ own experience of this ceremony, which is printed in George Mills Harper’s Yeats’ Golden Dawn, which gives details of the astral work that went on invisibly as the ceremony took place.

This ritual lays much emphasis on the Shekinah – the divine presence of God – who is here portrayed by a female officer. Why the Shekinah? I believe the answer must lie in the fact that in Gematria, “Geburah” is equivalent to “Debir,” which is the Holy of Holies, where the Shekinah was said to reside upon the Ark of the Covenant between the wings of the two kerubs. The aspirant is therefore the High Priest, who goes into the Holy of Holies (actually the Vault of the Adepti which has been re-dressed for the occasion) and after a period of meditation discovers the Shekinah, who first comes to him (or her) like a light-bearer in darkness.

An interesting feature is that the Aspirant remains completely silent throughout the ceremony, until formally released at its climax. It is worth noting that quite separately Wynn Westcott did indeed describe the Adeptus Major grade as:

“…a degree of death and solemnity—referring to the precedent stage of obscuration, during which silent study and meditation may be considered as the typical condition…”

Flying Roll XVI, the History of the Rosicrucian Order.

One is tempted to speculate that in this respect the Stella Matutina ceremony is probably more to what Westcott intended than that of the AO! Unlike the AO ceremony, which is nothing but signs and an explanation thereof, the Stella Matutina 6=5 mentions two signs (“thou shalt avert thy eyes from evil as did Isis on the right … thou shalt withdraw from evil as did Nephthys on the left,”) but does not really demonstrate what they are: obviously part of the esotery that was only transmitted from person to person.

The lacuna in Zalewski’s ritual amounts to three-fifths of the oath being omitted (the oath of an Adeptus Major is in five parts), as well as an instruction that the Aspirant is censed in the form of a Pentagram, before being led out temporarily before the next point in the ceremony. When read in full, the oath of the Adeptus Major reveals that the duty of the new initiate is to apply the severity of Geburah to his or her own moral nature, whilst emphatically being merciful to the faults of others.

I found one mistake when I first read Zalewski’s version, however: when I checked, I found that the mistake had been in the original ritual! Namely: the wrong passages of the Sepher Yetzirah are quoted when the aspirant is given the teachings of the Paths of Mem and Lamed.

A sort of curriculum has emerged as to what the Stella Matutina envisioned for the Adeptus Major grade. Although on first reading it does not seem much, from my own personal researches I believe that additional papers were also issued to the adepts which suggested ways in which the Adeptus Major practices could be extended to achieve extremely sophisticated results. In any event, the lines “try to find your own Path for the Inner Life,” and “now is the time to fill in gaps of the 5=6 syllabus and to choose your special subject in which to qualify,”  conceal more than they reveal: I get the impression that Felkin, the author of the Stella Matutina 6=5 ritual, believed that if the Adeptus Minor grade was equivalent to a Bachelor’s degree in Magic, then the Adeptus Major was equivalent to a Master’s.

Holy Order of the Golden Dawn / Fellowship of the Rosy Cross

Aleister Crowley in A.'.A.'. regalia making the sign "Vir."

Whaddaya mean, I’m not the prophet of a new aeon?

The Holy Order of the Golden Dawn Adeptus Major Ritual has now been published in Regardie’s Complete Golden Dawn System of Magic. It catches Waite as he was beginning to embrace mysticism, yet had not completely thrown off all of the trappings of the original GD. Now here is a curious thing: despite superficial differences, much of the underlying structure of the first Waite ritual is identical to that of the Stella Matutina version. E.g. the aspirant remains in silence until released in the final part of the ceremony, he or she goes into the Vault for a period of meditation, before encountering the Shekinah, who leads the aspirant out. Intriguingly, Waite identifies the Shekinah as Nuit, and the newly advanced aspirant as Horus. Could this in fact mean that Waite was a secret Thelemite (extremely ironic given the caning he received from Crowley in the Equinox)? Or perhaps when Crowley received the Book of the Law, the Gods were telling him not to become the prophet of a new aeon, but that he was now ready to become an Adeptus Major?

After the Holy Order of the Golden Dawn closed, Waite founded the Fellowship of the Rosy Cross. The grades are named after those of the Golden Dawn – but Waite finally took the opportunity to abandon the last vestiges GD dogma of which he disapproved and finally do his own thing. Nevertheless, the FRC Adeptus Major ritual still displays certain similarities to the version he wrote for the Holy Order of the Golden Dawn. There is a sojourn within the sanctuary, the Shekinah makes an appearance – but the insistence of silence is strictly removed. Needless to say, any references to Horus and Nuit have been removed.

As far as I know, there was no curriculum per se for the FRC grades – I believe that Waite intended the ceremony itself to be both the initiation into and the teaching of a given grade. In this sense the FRC is rather like a masonic version of Rosicrucianism. I did hear one senior esotericist say that this being the case, an initiate could theoretically be advanced through each grade at successive meetings, or slightly less than a year if they met every month, although I doubt very much that this would happen in practice.

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How To Use Satanism To Market Your New Book

Aleister Crowley (1875 – 1947)

Aleister Crowley has been condemned for many things such as leading a debauched life of sex, drugs and Eastern mysticism, and for making the Occult popular today. He has also been praised for many things, such as leading a debauched life of sex, drugs and Eastern mysticism, and for making the Occult popular today. He has of course also been made the subject of a number of unfounded allegations, of which I thought I had all heard – until now. Whilst reading the Evening Standard (hey! I was bored) yesterday, I came across the newest allegation, in a full page article luridly entitled: Were six bizarre deaths, linked to curse of King Tut, actually the work of this notorious Satanist?”

Apparently this is the theme of a new book published this week called London’s Curse: Murder, Black Magic & Tutankhamunby a chap called Mark Beynon, whom the Evening Standard describes as a “historian.”  The Curse of Tutankhamun has been the subject of books before, but this new work focusses on some half a dozen deaths allegedly connected with it. Amongst those cited are:

  • Captain Richard Bethell, personal secretary to Howard Carter – died in his sleep whilst staying at his Mayfair club in 1929.  Beynon alleges that he was “smothered.”
  • Lord Westbury, father of Bethell, died from falling from a sixth-floor window in St James, 1930. Beynon states that he kept Egyptian artifacts which his son had given him. NB: Lord Westbury was 78 at the time.
  • E A Wallis-Budge, the famous Egyptologist, died at home in Bloomsbury in 1934 aged 77.
  • Aubrey Herbert, Lord Caernarvon’s half-brother, died in a hospital in Park Lane in 1923. Wikipedia states that he died from complications arising from an extremely bizarre dental procedure, although Beynon said that he had recently visited Luxor as well.

Now Howard Carter first breached the seal of Tutankhamun’s tomb in November 1922, only fully entering the tomb in February 1923. The original idea of The Curse arose from Lord Caernarvon dying just three months after stepping inside, in April 1923. Thereafter, a number of deaths of people connected with the expedition in relatively quick succession poured fuel on the notion.

Hence: although Aubrey Herbert’s demise looks pretty ominous, the other deaths cited begin to look increasingly improbably due to the remoteness in time from the opening of the tomb (Howard Carter himself died in 1939). Also note that two of the people in the list above were in their late seventies, so Lord Westbury’s demise could have been an accident due to his infirmity.

Ah, no! Says this new book. They were in fact all murdered by notorious Satanist Aleister Crowley! Indeed, Crowley rushed over from North Africa to London in 1923 to murder Aubrey Herbert, and then plotted the deaths of the others over an eleven (!) year period. Now here is the kicker: the reason that Beynon concentrates on these as well as certain others is apparently because that their places of death, when plotted on a map of London, form a Pentagram, which is obviously a Satanic symbol.

Where can I begin to pick apart this notion? Well for a start there is an allegation in the book that “Crowley murdered his servants while in India.” I presume this is a reference to the infamous Kangchenjunga incident in which one of Crowley’s fellow mountaineers and two servants died not through being murdered but in an avalanche. (Crowley did attract notoriety for this, not for causing their death but for not going to help them after they had suffered their accident, thus breaking the code of honour commonly observed by mountaineers). However the most glaring flaw in the whole scheme is the inclusion of Wallis-Budge. Wallis-Budge retired from the British Museum in 1924, only a year after the opening of the Tomb, and was not directly involved in the Expedition. Crowley would however have had reason to be grateful to Wallis-Budge, as the latter was the pre-eminent translator of classic Egyptian texts such as the Papyrus of Ani (aka The Book of the Dead).

It seems fairly obvious to me that Wallis-Budge’s death has been included for the sole purpose of finding fifth point for the overly-contrived Pentagram-theory. Indeed, poor old Aleister Crowley seems to have been picked upon simply because he was the most famous occultist around the time of the alleged events. Never mind that there were other students of the Egyptian mysteries alive during the whole time period! I suppose it was probably too difficult to actually find evidence against one of the more obscure occultists of the time period, although were Mark Beynon a real historian, in the academic sense of the word, this kind of task would be par for the course.

All in all, the attendant press-hype is a good example of how to use Satanism to market your new book.


THE NOVELS AND SHORT STORIES OF ALEX SUMNER – NOW AVAILABLE FROM AMAZON AND ITUNES (the author would like to point out that rather than scholarly historical works, his books are most definitely fiction!)

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Happy Beast Day!

It’s that time of year again when Black Metal bands think its really kewl to release new albums – yes it is 6/6 day, or Great Beast Day as I have “antichristened” it. No doubt at around 6pm local time wherever you are, expect to see a lot of tweets on Twitter about Satan and what not.

666 is of course most famous from Revelation 13:18, whence comes its popularity in modern culture, from eschatology to horror novels & films (e.g. The Omen), rock music, etc. Aleister Crowley famously dubbed himself “The Great Beast 666” – partly out of re-action against his religious upbringing, but also to assert the Humanistic nature of Thelemic spirituality, i.e. as far as Crowley was concerned, the number of the Beast was not just the number of a particular man, but of Man generally.

Other writers (e.g. Rudolf Steiner) have identified the Great Beast as a being called “Sorath” – whose name in Hebrew Gematria (Samekh + Vau + Resh + Tau) enumerates to 666. This presents a tiny problem for ceremonial magicians (or at least the ones who claim not to be Satanists). According to Henry Cornelius Agrippa, the Intelligences and Spirits of the various Planets all have names whose gematria is associated with the Magic Square of the planet. The magic square of the Sun is a 6*6 grid containing the numbers 1 to 36. Each row adds up to 111, whilst the total for the whole grid – the 36th triangle number in other words – is 666. The Intelligence of the Sun is “Nakhiel,” the gematria of which is 111, whilst the Spirit is (you’ve guessed it) Sorath – for the gematric reasons stated previously. Hence when magicians perform a Qabalistic ceremony to invoke the forces of the Sun, e.g. to perform an evocation or consecrate a talisman, etc, they will wind up calling on Sorath. Magicians who purport to be of the right-hand path justify this by saying the only do so after first invoking all the divine and angelic Solar beings first, so that nasty old Sorath is not running wild, but is safely under control of the forces of light.

I am not alleging hypocrisy of any kind … too much … but this rationalisation starts to break down when it comes to practising the art of Geomancy. As far as the Golden Dawn is concerned, geomancers are encouraged to invoke a “Geomantic spirit” of the planet which most pertains to the question which they are attempting to answer. These Geomantic spirits are the same as the planetary spirits listed by Agrippa – so when a Geomancer attempts a Solar question, they will again find themselves calling upon Sorath – only this time they are not told to invoke the superior divine and angelic names first.

There are three possible conclusions to be drawn – magicians of the Golden Dawn are really closet devil-worshippers; writers like Rudolf Steiner did not know what they were talking about; or that St John the Divine was a git for mucking up an otherwise nice safe magical system. 😉

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The Bornless Ritual

The famous “Bornless Ritual,” otherwise known as the “Preliminary Invocation of the Goetia” is a subject about which I have written before. Now however I want to share with you the results of some discoveries I  made when I was doing some scholarly research in London just the other day. Although the Bornless Ritual was made famous by Aleister Crowley in his edition of the Goetia of The Lesser Key of Solomon in 1904, it was in fact  in circulation amongst the Adepti of the original Golden Dawn, i.e. Isis-Urania Temple – thus indicating that it was yet another GD teaching that Crowley half-inched.

For example: a copy of the Bornless Ritual may be found in the Library & Museum of Freemasonry amongst the papers of the Rev Ayton, bound in the same volume in which I found A Method of Vibrating Adonai Ha-Aretz To Unite Yourself with your Personal Kether.

Now it so happens that Israel Regardie, in his book The Golden Dawn constructed a Z2 Spiritual Development ritual based around the Bornless Ritual – however, when comparing this to the original GD manuscripts which I have seen it is clear that Regardie’s approach is overly sophisticated. The Adepti of the original GD would in fact simply perform the ritual without adornment – save that at key-points, they would make the Kerubic Sigils with their elemental tools. Moreover the version circulated within the original GD retains the correct spellings of the “Barbarous Names of Evocation” which unfortunately Regardie’s version does not have. (I mention this because one of the themes with which I was concerned when I wrote about the Bornless Ritual previously was the “Barbarous Names” may well have significance in terms of Isopsephos, i.e. Greek Gematria).

Hence: I present below a transcription of “The Bornless Ritual” as it would have been used within the original GD.


An Extremely Powerful Invocation For Daily Use And Work

Thee I invoke, the Bornless One! Thee that didst create the Earth and the Heavens, Thee that didst create the Night and the Day, Thee that didst create the Darkness and the Light.
Thou art Osorronophris, whom no man hath seen at any time. Thou art Iabas; thou art Iapos.

Thou hast distinguished between the Just and the Unjust. Thou didst make the Female and the Male. Thou didst produce the Seed and the Fruit. Thou didst form Men to love one another, and to hate one another.

Hear thou me, for I am Mosheh thy servant, unto whom Thou hast committed thy Mysteries, the ceremonies of Israel.

Thou hast produced the moist and the dry, and that which nourisheth all created life. Hear me, for I am the Angel of Paphro Osorronophris: this is Thy true name, handed down to the prophets of Israel.

[Handwritten: Aquarius symbol with the words “with Air Dagger.”]
Hear me: Ar, Thiao, Rheibet, Atheleberseth, A, Blatha, Abeu, Ebeu, Phi, Chitasoe, Ib, Thiao.

Hear me and make all spirits subject unto me: so that every spirit of the firmament and of the ether; upon the Earth and under the Earth; on dry land or in the water; of whirling air or of rushing fire; and every spell and scourge of God may be obedient unto me.

[Handwritten: Leo-symbol with words “with Wand.”]
I invoke Thee, the terrible and invisible God who dwellest in the void place of spirit: Arogogorobrao, Sothou, Modorio, Phalarchao, Ooo, Ape, The Bornless One.

Hear me and make all spirits subject unto me … (etc)

[Handwritten: symbol of Eagle’s head, with words “with Cup.”]
Hear me: Roubriao, Mariodam, Balbnabaoth, Assalonai, Aphniao, I, Thoteth, Abrasax, Aeoou, Ischara, Mighty and Bornless One.

Hear me and make all spirits subject unto me … (etc)

[Handwritten: Taurus-symbol, with words “with Pentacle.”]
I invoke Thee: Ma, Barraio, Ioel, Kotha, Athorebalo, Abraoth.

Hear me and make all spirits subject unto me … (etc)

[Handwritten: Spirit-symbol, with words “on ground with Incense.”]
Hear me: Aoth, Abaoth, Basum, Isak, Sabaoth, IAO.

This is the Lord of the Gods;
This is the Lord of the Universe;
This is He Whom the winds fear;
This is He Who, having made Voice by His commandment, is Lord of all things – king, ruler and helper.

Hear me and make all spirits subject unto me … (etc)

[Handwritten: Spirit-symbol, with words “in air above with Incense.”]
Hear me: Ieou, Pur, Iou, Pur, Iaot, Iaeo, Ioou, Abrasax, Sabriam, Oo, Uu, Adonaie, Ede, Edu, Angelos Ton Theon, Anlala Lai, Gaia, Apa, Diachanna Chorun.

I am He, the Bornless Spirit! Having sight in the feet – strong, and the Immortal Fire!
I am He, the Truth!
I am He, who hate that evil should be wrought in the world.
I am He who lighteneth and thundereth.
I am He from whom is the shower of the life on Earth.
I am He whose mouth ever flameth.
I am He, the Begetter and Manifester unto the Light.
I am He, the Grace of the World.

“The Heart Girt with a Serpent” is My name.

Come thou forth and follow me, and make all spirits subject unto me, so that every spirit of the firmament and of the ether, upon the Earth and under the Earth, on dry land and in the water, of whirling air and of rushing fire, and every spell and scourge of God, may be obedient unto me.

IAO. Sabao. Such are the words!

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Dog of Evil

Here's one I evoked earlier...

As part of the ritual for his Evocation of Bartzabel, the Spirit of Mars, Aleister Crowley conjured up what was referred to as “The Dog of Evil.” The question naturally arises “why?” and “where did this portion of ritual come from?” The first part may be partially answered by looking at its place in the context of the ritual. Crowley and his chums are busy building up a powerful wall of protection against the potentially dangerous forces they intend to evoke – hence they call upon a magical Guard Dog – the eponymous Dog of Evil – to protect them.

The original source is one of the Papyri (? 501?) in the Harris collection. Israel Regardie referred to it in his book The Tree of Life as a method of banishment used by Egyptian priests, and then purported to transcribe it  “verbatim from the Papyrus.”

However, I now have reason to doubt that Regardie was being entirely accurate when he said that he got it verbatim from the Papyrus – for two reasons. The first is the obvious one – his description of the ritual is in English, a language unknown to the ancient Egyptians! I was not actually aware that Regardie was able to read Hieroglyphics – but this is by the by.

I also have evidence which I am not at liberty to publicly reveal.


A RITUAL OF BANISHMENT

To be performed in the South, North, West and East, with the formulation of a guardian in the shape of a dog that was to be terrible to all attacking forces:

“Arise, Dog of Evil, that I may instruct thee in they present duties. Thou art imprisoned. Confess thou that it is so. Horus it is who has given this commandment. Let thy face be terrible as the storm-parted sky. Let thy jaws close pitilessly. Make sacrifice as the God Her-Shafi. Massacre as the Goddess Anata. May thy hair stand up like rods of fire. Be thou great as Horus and terrible as Set.
Equally to the South, to the North, to the West and to the East.
The whole land belongs unto thee. Nothing shall stop thee, whilst thou settest thy face in my defence: while thou settest thy face against savage beasts; while thou settest thy face to protect my paths, opposing thyself to the enemy.
I bestow upon thee the power of vanishing, of becoming noiseless and invisible. For thou art my guardian, courageous and terrible.”

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Celebrities Discover Thelema Without Realising It

Lady Gaga, Christina Aguilera, Eminem, P Diddy, and Snoop Dogg have managed to discover “Thelema” quite inadvertantly. It is almost as if Aleister Crowley has come up behind them and shouted “Surprise!” Not that they are practising occultists (with the possible exception of Gaga) – they have stumbled across the principles without realising.

I should hasten to add that by “Thelema” I do not mean “Crowleyanity” – I doubt any of the above subscribe to Crowley’s dogma in the literal sense, even if they have read any of the Great Beast’s books. They perhaps do not even know that it is “Thelema” they are practising. What appears to be the situation is this: each one has found his or her “True Will” and is Doing it, and achieving great success thereby. However, the irony is that what is actually their True Will they have identified with “God,” perhaps out of ignorance. Hence they profess belief in God which seems to explain their success, but it does not follow any conventional theology.

According to an article in the Wall Street Journal by Neil Strauss,

Before they were famous, many of the biggest pop stars in the world believed that God wanted them to be famous, that this was his plan for them, just as it was his plan for the rest of us not to be famous. Conversely, many equally talented but slightly less famous musicians I’ve interviewed felt their success was accidental or undeserved—and soon after fell out of the limelight.

In a separate piece Strauss mentioned research that belief in God helped liver transplant patients’ chances of survival, and other scientific studies on the power of belief. The fact that people without conventional religion can yet be saved by the power of their beliefs suggest that none of these are actual pieces of evidence for the existence of God but, like Pascal’s Wager, are arguments in favour of the desirability of believing in God.

What therefore is happening? If Belief by itself is powerful, that would tend to suggest that it is actually these people’s own Will which is looking out for them. Identifying the Will with God may not be an insincere move on their part – besides it probably serves to make it a powerful experience for them.

Incidentally: it is a little appreciated fact that the concept of “True Will” is yet another thing which Aleister Crowley “borrowed” from the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. In “GD” terms “True Will” is what happens when the Lower Will (represented by Tiphereth) is successfully integrated with the Higher Will (represented by Daath). The former is the everyday Will, the latter is that which aspires to the very highest – hence True Will is when one is able to integrate this aspiration into one’s mundane consciousness. Finding one’s True Will is the natural task of every Adept.

I therefore suggest that if one aspires to the kind of success that these people have, it may be wise to adopt the kind of religious self-belief that these various people adopt – not in a cynical fashion, but in an attempt to discover in truth ones part in the Divine Plan. Who knows? Perhaps one of these celebrities might one day acknowledge their debt to the occult? 😉

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A Method of Achieving KCHGA with Tarot Divination

When the pupil is ready, the Guru appears.

Traditional

Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not.

Luke 12:40 (KJV)

“KCHGA” (“Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel”), refers mainly to the high-point of the Abramelin Operation, which Crowley decreed was the central task of an Adept in his system of Thelema. Since then it has taken on a sort of mythical quality amongst magicians, both Crowleyan and non-Crowleyan, who take it to be the quest for knowledge of the higher self, when in fact a closer reading of mediaeval grimoires such as Abramelin, the Lesser Key of Solomon, et al, would in fact suggest it is no such thing. In grimoire magick, a “Holy Guardian Angel” was a being that one evoked to come and become the Guardian of the Crystal Ball or scrying medium that one would use in subsequent operations to contact other spirits. The Holy Guardian Angel would thus ensure that only the spirit asked for would appear, and that it would speak the truth when it did so. The “Holy Guardian Angel” of traditional grimoire magick is thus what a Medium would refer to as a “Spirit Guide,” though it would be inaccurate to think of it as ones Higher Self per se.

But I digress.

Despite Crowley’s mangling of terminology, KCHGA is nevertheless a convenient metaphor for the quest for the higher self: one could argue that it has virtually become synonymous with the same through persistence of usage over the past hundred years. In identifying the “Holy Guardian Angel” with the Higher Self, Crowley just about associated it with the concept of the “Guru” or inner teacher of eastern tradition. The real meaning of “Guru” does not necessarily refer to any of the supposedly enlightened humans calling themselves Gurus. An authentic Guru can be identified by two characteristics: firstly – they lead the chela (pupil) from darkness to light; and secondly (and most importantly), the Guru takes karmic responsibility for the fate of his or her Chelas. It will thus be appreciated that probably 99% or more of those people referred to as Gurus are not in fact Gurus per se, but “pundits” who have been accorded the title of Guru out of courtesy. More importantly, however, a true Guru may or may not be an incarnate human being, but it is also believed “the Guru” may also be a discarnate being – i.e. like the “Holy Guardian Angel.”

Which leads on to the main subject of this essay – a practical method for attaining KCGHA, knowledge of the Higher Self, the Guru, the Christ-consciousness, etc. Arm yourself with a decent deck of Tarot cards, and do a Divination in the traditional manner, based upon the following very specific question:

“How shall I make myself ready to receive knowledge of my higher self?”

(NB: note how this is phrased – this will be explained momentarily).

The Divination will provide a set of answers which will be a list of practical things for you to do to be getting on with, such as putting your life in order, concentrating on one thing and not on another, etc. Then basically you go and do all of this. The meaning of a Tarot Divination can be cross-checked by making a note of the time, date and place upon which you performed it, and then verifying it with Horary Astrology.

When you think you have done everything your divination has indicated, you may then perform another divination: “How shall I now make myself ready to receive knowledge of my higher self?” – and then repeating the process, performing further divinations subsequently as appropriate.

The reason it is phrased “How shall I make myself ready to receive knowledge of the higher self?” and not “How shall I seek the Higher Self?” or even “How shall I find the Higher Self?” is because there is hidden significance in the old saying “When the pupil is ready, the Guru appears.” One does not “find” the Guru by seeking after him / her / it, but my making oneself ready to receive the Guru’s teachings. The Guru, like the Higher Self, is a spiritual force which is not sought after, because you ought already to know where it is waiting to be found – i.e. Within. The saying “when the pupil is ready the Guru appears” is really saying that instead of concentrating on seeking the Guru, the pupil should concentrate on making him- or herself ready for the Guru. And eventually, when the time is right, the Guru / Higher Self / etc appears, often unexpectedly, like a thief in the night.

Imagine the converse of this argument: if you travelled all the way to find to India to find a Guru, but were not ready to receive their teachings when you got there, you would have wasted your journey. Likewise, if you purport to undertake a spiritual quest, like the Abramelin operation, but fail to prepare for what is going to happen when the HGA finally does appear, the results could be disastrous.

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