Liber L., Cap. 1, vv. 31-39
31 32 33 34-35 36 37 38 39
1-9 10-19 20-30 40-49 50-59 60-66
31. For these fools of men and their woes care not thou at all! They feel little; what is, is balanced by weak joys: but ye are my chosen ones.
(Again, "fools" appears in a Kether verse. Thus begins what I now believe is the Daleth series.)
This is the first of several verses that seem to differentiate between Thelemites and others, and that seem to disparage compassion. This is an illusion. We have already been instructed that such a dualistic perspective is not what is taught in this Book.
In many ways this verse is straightforward. It does not counsel one not to care but, rather, to realize that a great deal of sympathy and pity is wasted. Crowley had characterized himself in his earlier poem "Perdurabo" as a person who feels things more acutely than most people — and this tends to be true of many initiates as well. But to each is given what they are capable of receiving, and it seems true that those incapable of perceiving great joy are incapable of perceiving truly great pain. We should not get caught up in our own projections about their suffering.
The converse, of course, is true as well. The initiate that becomes capable of receiving great joy becomes equally capable of accepting, acknowledging, and admitting (i.e. receiving) vast pain. Fortunately, the perspective on it is different.
It is interesting that "thou" is succeeded by "ye." I can only make sense of this by reading it that each of us is addressed individually at first, and together second. Note again how attainment or joy is equated not to the individual but to a plurality or collective.
AC says it very nicely: "This thesis concerning compassion is of the most palmary importance in the ethics of Thelema. It is necessary that we stop, once and for all, this ignorant meddling with other people's business. Each individual must be left free to follow his own path." (4/3/95 EV)
32. Obey my prophet! follow out the ordeals of my knowledge! seek me only! Then the joys of my love will redeem ye from all pain. This is so: I swear it by the vault of my body; by my sacred heart and tongue; by all I can give, by all I desire of ye all.
(A Chokmah verse, refers to the prophet, 666.)
Nuit gives bottom-line instructions. She promises results. She then seals this promise with a very firm pledge.
The promise is very simple: The result of the assigned practice is that the joys of Nuit's love will redeem us all from all pain.
So simple. So complete. So desirable.
Of course, per verse 22 - exactly ten verses back! - there is no difference to be made between the pain and the love. It is clear that the present "come on" would not serve as an inducement to any who had thus "availed" of that instruction. But that is more or less the point. Such a person would already have attained the reward here offered.
The technical method prescribed has three steps.
- "Obey my prophet!"
- "follow out the ordeals of my knowledge!"
- "seek me only!"
Here is a complete curriculum of Thelemic mysticism.
In v. 26 we accepted that Nuit's prophet refers to AC. This is seemingly confirmed elsewhere in the Book, and by the circumstances of its dictation; nor does it offend the powers of reason.
I am compelled (by His hand who writes for me) to observe that the phrase "Obey my [i.e. Nuit's] prophet!" means to obey the HGA who is, to each, the sole prophet of Nu. This is a specific meaning only of value to the Adept. The real inner Hierophant is the HGA; but AC took the role of outer Hierophant for those who still need such a thing (which should mean all non-Adepts).
So I believe, to the Adept, the instruction is "Obey the HGA," and to the Man of Earth it is to follow the instructions provided by 666.
Steps (2) and (3) are closely related. They merge quickly. To seek Her only is to encounter, experience, and "follow out" the ordeals of Her knowledge (i.e. of the progressive union with Her).
Again, this is an instruction for the Adeptus Minor directly from and concerning the HGA, and the promise is the same.
"Obey" derives from the Latin root oboedire literally means, "to listen to," from ob + audire.
Nuit's oath is the final item of this verse. She swears by all that She is. Note that her "sacred heart and tongue" is also her "secret centre," Hadit (v. 6).
Oaths are normally taken on that which one regards as sacred or otherwise special. Nuit is thus communicating the sacredness of the vault of her body (which at least means the arch of heaven), and of Hadit; as well as all that we exchange with Her, i.e. all that She can give, and all that she desires of us all. This verse is of obvious teaching value.
In passing, note AC's dicta (about a magical order) that "every organization must have a highly-centralized control."
This verse should also be read with the following Qabalistic puns in mind: "me" = [Greek] MH, "not;" "all" also = [Hebrew] AL. (4/3/95 EV)
33. Then the priest fell into a deep trance or swoon & said unto the Queen of Heaven Write unto us the ordeals write unto us the rituals write unto us the law.
(Binah: He consults the goddess to learn the pattern or form of the Order. Three points of definition.)
The previous verse had its effect on the scribe, who is here referred to as the priest. The word "swoon" tells us this is not samadhi. His personality, his ego-structure, is overwhelmed by what he is hearing. The need for definition and precision is a classic example of the ego's need to try to hold onto something substantial in the face of feeling all its moorings slip.
And what he seeks are three points of definition of the Order; and a good three they are. In designing T.'.O.'.T.'., we had to prepare the rituals, the tasks to be completed, and the Rules & Regulations — everything else was supplemental. I can certainly understand A.C.'s desire to receive these from Nuit while he had Her attention. (4/3/95 EV)
34. But she said the ordeals I write not the rituals shall be half known and half concealed: the Law is for all
35. This that thou writest is the threefold book of Law
(Chesed and Geburah complete the definition of the Law.)
He asked for law; She gave him Law. Nothing human-made, no manner of legal artifice, but divine and natural Law.
This verse 34 is one of the most important for Thelemites to understand early. The ordeals are distinctive for each person. The rituals have some parts that are common for everyone, and some parts that are different for everyone. The Law is universal.
The ordeals are written not, because they cannot be prewritten. They are enforced by the need of the aspirant. They are written not, i.e. by Nuit. We might say this is She in Her aspect of Lamed. We can also easily see it as the HGA. The key point is that the ordeals are necessarily unique for each person.
The rituals can be known according to form, but not "written" as to essence. This must be discovered by each in his or her practice.
The Law — this Book of Law — is for all. It is Liber Legis, or Sepher ha-Torah. It is the code of the microcosm and the macrocosm; of humanity, nature, and the universe.
AC's Old Comment is entirely rubbish. He just didn't understand it yet in 1907! It is technically correct, however, to say, as he did in the N.C., that, "The Ordeals are at present carried out unknown to the Candidate by the Secret Magick Power of the Beast." By this we must understand the Solar Logos, 666, the Chokmah Archetype. This is synonymous with what I have written above.
I must add that the presence of these "unwritten" ordeals, unique for each, does not abrogate the system of common standards of examination for all. The real ordeals occur "in between the lines." Also, though this pure definition especially fits A.'.A.'., experience shows it also has abundant relevance in a system like T.'.O.'.T.'. where more precise guidance is given to beginners.
AC's discussion of these ordeals in N.C., v. 34, is quite excellent.
NOTES TO MYSELF: Does the original punctuation change the meaning? (7/5/95 EV)
36. My scribe Ankh-af-na-khonsu the priest of the princes shall not in one letter change this book; but lest there be folly, he shall comment thereupon by the wisdom of Ra-Hoor-Khu-it.
Now we come to a more demanding verse.
(First: It is a verse of Tiphereth, with reference both to A-A-N-K by a Tipheric title, and to R.H.K.)
This has always been taken as referring to AC. Does this interpretation hold up? He is unquestionably the "scribe," so he is thus identified with Ankh-af-na-Khonsu. Okay, this settles the matter. Where the Beast (in I:15) is called "prince-priest," Ankh-af-na-Khonsu is called "priest of the princes." This is a related, but different, title. At the very least, however, it is an ordination: AC is declared by Nuit to be priest. It is unclear whether "of" means he comes from "the princes," or that he is for "the princes."
He is commanded not to alter even one letter. This is not all that unusual in holy books, as I recall. (It is certainly the fundamentalist attitude ingrained into Crowley concerning the Bible during his youth.) Ultimately, the Book is to be left to speak for itself. But the scribe is specifically enjoined to comment upon it, "lest there be folly." That is, he is to establish a certain sanity as to the general sense of it. His comment is not to be from his own intellect. It is to be "by the wisdom of Ra-Hoor-Khu-it."
This is the first time R.H.K. appears in the Book as such, although H.P.K. appeared in verse 7. The name is parsed so that we cannot miss its significance. Ra-Hoor is the Sun and Mars (thus Tiphereth and Geburah, the formula, presumably, of 5=6 and 6=5). "Khu" shows that He is of the nature of the Khu, i.e. He becomes visible in a human aspect alike unto our own. "-It" is this Book's deific terminative. He is, thus, both a specific God, described well in Cap. III, and also a reflection of the HGA. It is by the HGA's Wisdom that AC was instructed to comment hereupon. Also:
RA-HVVR 418 KV 26 444 IT 19 463 The Middle Pillar, Sushumna, &c.
AC was charged to make a truly initiated commentary, to displace the windbags ("folly") who would spill their idiocy. (4/3/95 EV)
37. Also the mantras and spells; the obeah and the wanga; the work of the wand and the work of the sword: these he shall learn and teach.
(N.B. Until this very hour [of the original 1994 meditations], I never once associated my Probationer Aspiration Name, D.E.I., with this phrase!)
It is perfectly clear from this verse that AC was given a mandate to "learn and teach." However, past this one certainty is great room for dispute as to what his curriculum was to be!
"the mantras and spells," most simply, implies the esoteric methods of the East and West, respectively.
"the obeah and the wanga": Obeah is clearly understood, being the methods arising out of Africa, and most commonly related to Voudoun. (The word is a Creolized smushing together of the West African dibia and the Twi bayifo, both of which refer to a type of naturopathic shaman. The word is most common in the West Indies and up into the Carolinas.) Of all the world's systems, it is one of the few major ones AC never did "learn and teach." He related this term as well to AVB; and there are those who see in this word a general Pagan implication. I would not give so broad nor so misdirected (nor so irresponsible) a meaning. I see absolutely no reason not to take it literally and suggest that, whereas "mantras and spells" refers to Asia and Europe, "obeah" refers to Africa. Ultimately, all of the world's systems are to be assimilated into these teachings.
"Wanga" is a Central African (Congo &c.) word that refers to magick in general and, especially, to particular types of charged charms, talismans, potions, and powders of that tradition, and the magical means of creating and implementing them. In the New World the word took root in Haiti and spread to New Orleans.
If I were to render "obeah" into Hebrew it would be AVBYH, Light [AVB] + Will [YH], 9+15 = 24. "Wanga" implies VANGA = 61; or with Heh, 65, Adonai. But I am not persuaded. In Latin, OBEAH = 29 (Hadit, via, magia, &c.). VANGA = 40 (Aum Ha, Hadit, Hecate, Set, Sol, &c.) It is interesting to me that "Hadit" shows (in different languages) for each.
Wand and sword probably refer to Will and Mind. They have clear distinctions between them, as in the "natural vs. invoked" quality of the Aces of these suits; or the Divine vs. the human psychological; mystical vs. magical, etc.
Again, I am not too worried about the exact curriculum here; only that a diverse, and likely world-spanning, array of magical and mystical subjects was to be part of what he taught. The Law alone was not adequate; he was enjoined to teach these many subjects, as a part of the program.
AC, of course, had his own interpretation of these subjects. I am not persuaded by his discussion of this; nor do I think it matters much. His Old Comment summed it up nicely: "An entirely new system of magic [sic] is to be learnt and taught as is now being done." Ultimately, he admitted ignorance of the details.
I am, however, very taken with the following from the New Comment:
The Equinox and Magick are full of instructions on all these matters in great detail, and the student must make them his guide.
But I feel bound to observe that they must be studied merely as classics, just as a musician studies Bach and others. He cannot compose by copying or combining their words; they serve him only as indications of the art of expression. He must master the technique, theory, and practice, of music, till the general principles are absorbed, and he has command of the language, to use it to express his Will.
So with Magick; the student must understand and assimilate the basic propositions, and he must be expert in the drill of the practical detail.
[and so forth...] [good stuff]
It is also here that AC gives his excellent programme for beginners:
- Furnish your mind as completely as possible with the knowledge of how to inspect and to control it.
- Train your body to obey your mind, and not to distract its attention.
- Control your mind to devote itself wholly to discover your true Will.
- Explore the course of that Will till you reach its source, your Silent Self.
- Unite the conscious will with the true Will, and the conscious Ego with the Silent Self. You must be utterly ruthless in discarding any atom of consciousness which is hostile or neutral.
- Let this work freely from within; but heed not your environment, lest you make difference between one thing and another. Whatever it be, it is to be made one with you by love.
38. He must teach; but he may make severe the ordeals.
(A Hod verse on teaching.)
That is: Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law. Teaching is what he was made to do; so he "must" do it.
How do these ordeals relate to those of which Nuit would "write not"? I do not know. I note he is not determining the nature of the ordeals, merely determining their strength or severity (Geburan nature), as if as a screening device. (4/3/95 EV)
39. The word of the Law is Θελημα.
Thus it is said. How can I comment on this when AC spent an entire lifetime doing so?
Note that this is the word of the law, its Chokmah. There is a Law behind the Word that is inexpressible; but in these 6 letters totaling 93, commencing with the letter of Leo (=9), there is an articulation of its Nature.
The historic influence of Rabelais is acknowledged; but what is expressed here is entirely new, unlike any prior articulation. The WORD is WILL; and in it are to be found wondrous formulae. (Even the name OYVZ [Aiwass] was later found to equal it as 93.)
Theta Leo Epsilon Aquarius (not recognized in '04) Lambda Libra Eta Cancer Mu Water Alpha Air
Leo and Aquarius, Libra and Cancer, Water and Air. Courage and Knowledge, Action and Speech, Silence and Breath.
It should not be missed that this is the declaration of a new Word at the Equinox of the Gods, even as a new word is declared within the Order at each Equinox. ("Abrahadabra" is "the Word of the Aeon." Thelema is "the word of the Law." It is not quite clear which is "the Word of the Equinox," though I side with the former.) In context it seems intimately connected to the teachings that were mentioned in the foregoing verses; and, in fact, it is the central theme of those teachings. (2/18/01 EV)
Return to TOP of page.
Continue to next verse.