Temple of Set Reading List: Category 9
The AEon of Horus
Reprinted from: "The Crystal Tablet of Set" (c) Temple of Set 1989 CE Weirdbase file version
by TS permission by Michael A. Aquino, Ipsissimus VI* Temple of Set
In 1904 CE the British magician Aleister Crowley - the self-acknowledged Beast 666 - proclaimed the AEon of Horus, an initiatory climate characterized by actualization of the most refined sense of the human Will towards conscious unification with the Universe. This was a major advance in the coherence and evolution of occultism, comprising the most sophisticated basis for initiation until 1966 CE and the advent of the AEon of Set.
In his writings, Crowley sought to integrate what had previously been a haphazard collection of medieval superstition and ancient paganism into a legitimate magical philosophy. He was more or less successful, but his works are so complex - requiring for their understanding an extensive background in philosophy, occultism, comparative religious mythology, and world cultural history - that it remains open to question how many [if any] of his present-day disciples can be said to truly possess and apply the extremely rigorous magical skills he sought to codify and communicate.
That there are numerous "Aleister Crowley fan clubs" is undeniable. Whether any of them would have gained his personal endorsement as a legitimate embodiment of the Silver Star (A.'.A.'.) or Ordo Templi Orientis (O.T.O.) as he originally conceived them to be is an issue that cannot be resolved by argument, decree, or civil law - but only by the test of time. At this time there is no legitimate A.'.A.'. in evidence. There are only two O.T.O. organizations with meaningful claims to legitimacy: The California- incorporated/New York-headquartered O.T.O. (the "McMurtry O.T.O." - which is recognized as the O.T.O. under U.S. law) and the "Metzger O.T.O." in Switzerland.
The Temple of Set recognizes and enjoys cordial relations with the U.S. O.T.O.; we have had no contact with the Swiss organization. The Temple of Set does not recognize the existence or credentials of any other group claiming to be the O.T.O. [or the A.'.A.'.]. "The Book of Coming Forth by Night" establishes the Temple of Set's - and my own - interest in and responsibility to the Crowley legacy. Because of the continuing and highly-emotional controversies over Crowley organizations, concepts, and successors, we/I have thought it best to allow water to seek its own level over a period of time, concentrating our Crowley-related efforts towards meaningful and serious discussion and application of AEon of Horus principles as they may complement and enhance those of the AEon of Set.
The books cited below represent only part of the entire corpus of Crowley literature. While the Temple's archives include virtually the "complete Crowley", many books by/about him contain overlapping/reprinted material ~ and/or confuse more than they clarify. Some Crowley-related books - most conspicuously those by Kenneth Grant and Marcelo Motta - contain severe distortions of Crowley's original concepts and are not recommended accordingly.
If you want to go Crowley-hunting, the books listed in this category ought to be the most informative and rewarding. 9A. "The Great Beast" by John Symonds. London: Macdonald, 1971 [Weiser paperback edition available]. (TS-1)
MA: "This remains the most comprehensive and objective biography of Crowley. The 1971 Second Edition is expanded and updated from the original 1951 First Edition. #9A has been criticized for describing certain episodes of Crowley's life in a scornful and condescending light, but it would be more accurate to say that a description of his behavior without attention to his magical motives for such behavior is misleading. #9B and #9C in particular reveal these motives.
So complex were Crowley's life and works, however, that any attempt to understand other works in this category without first having digested #9A will result in confusion." 9B. "The Eye in the Triangle" by Francis I. Regardie. St. Paul: Llewellyn Publications, 1970. (TS-3)
MA: "Regardie worked with Crowley for many years as his personal secretary. Although the two became estranged in 1937, Regardie went on to edit and publish a number of Crowley's major works, including #9D, #9F, #9H, and #9I.
More than any direct testimony could establish, Regardie's sensitivity and skill at such editing established him as the single most reliable authority on Crowley. #9B is more of a portrait than a biography, although it was written in part as a protest against the bias Regardie felt to be present in #9A. [While Regardie did not recognize the Church of Satan, he did enjoy pleasant and cooperative relations with the Temple of Set and myself from X to his death in XX. It was he, incidentally, who put the Temple in touch with the California O.T.O.]" 9C. "The Confessions of Aleister Crowley" by Aleister Crowley (Ed. Symonds & Grant). NY: Hill & Wang, 1969. (TS-4)
MA: "Crowley's autobiography - elegantly written, with a treasure-house of his magical philosophy to be found along the way. While it adds the missing motives to most of the unflattering episodes cited in #9A, #9C probably ignores or minimizes events that Crowley disliked recalling.
All things considered, the picture of the Beast that emerges from this work is that of a far more sensitive and principled individual than his media reputation suggests. One suspects that Crowley indeed suffered from the Curse of a Magus (not to be understood, much less Understood), and that those who could not u/Understand him lashed out at him to allay their own feelings of frustration and inferiority." 9D. "Magick Without Tears" by Aleister Crowley (Ed. Regardie). St. Paul: Llewellyn Publications, 1973. (TS-3)
MA: "This is an extensive 'interview' with Crowley in the form of a series of his letters [answering those of a new student]. Most aspects of his magical philosophy are covered, and the absence of magical jargon makes the book relatively easy to understand.
Since this exchange of letters took place rather late in Crowley's magical career, his discussion of many of his more controversial ideas shows a more reflective approach than in earlier works." 9E. "Magical and Philosophical Commentaries on the Book of the Law" by Aleister Crowley (Ed. Symonds & Grant). Montreal: 93 Publishing, 1974. (TS- 4)
MA: "In 1912 and again in 1920 Crowley wrote two extended commentaries on the "Book of the Law", the magical Working through which the AEon of Horus was announced and defined.
These commentaries are consolidated in this beautifully printed book. Its only shortcoming consists of an introduction and footnotes by Kenneth Grant, who attempts therein to twist the "Book of the Law" and Crowley's commentaries into supports for his own theories and pretensions. The same Crowley commentaries appear in "The Law is For All", published by Llewellyn in 1975. In this volume their layout is somewhat confusing, but there is the advantage of an excellent introduction and annotation by Regardie.
A third volume containing the Crowley commentaries - "The Commentaries of AL", published by Weiser - has been butchered so badly by 'editor' Motta as to be virtually useless. [See also the section on the "Book of the Law", containing the complete text and my own commentaries to same, in "The Crystal Tablet of Set".]" 9F. "The Secret Rituals of the O.T.O." by Francis King (Ed.). London: C.W. Daniel Company, 1973. (TS-4)
MA: "Distributed in the U.S. by Weiser, this is both a capsule history of the original German and later Crowley versions of the Ordo Templi Orientis, and the texts of its rituals from 0* to IX* as written and/or revised by Crowley. Also included are several essays of secret 'instructions' to the IX* by Crowley. This volume is valuable for the insight it provides into the innermost initiatory doctrines of the original Crowley O.T.O.
It also provides a good introduction to the older German O.T.O., which is the parent organization of virtually all Illuminati/Rosicrucian societies presently in existence [such as San Jose's AMORC, whose founder, H. Spencer Lewis, received its charter from the O.T.O.'s Theodor Reuss in 1915]. Present-day Illuminated Rosicrucians will probably be disappointed to discover that the enthusiastic sex-magic of the original O.T.O. Illuminatus IX* has been abandoned in favor of more spiritually uplifting meditation with the 'Cosmic Masters'. For more background information on the original German O.T.O., see 'German Occult Groups' in #4E." 9G. "The Equinox" (Volume I, #1-10) by Aleister Crowley. NY: Samuel Weiser, 1972 (reprinted). (TS-4)
MA: "This series of books was intended by Crowley as a loosely-organized [not topical or alphabetical] encyclopaedia of the A.'.A.'. magical system.
Most of Volume I is exclusively A.'.A.'., but as Crowley lost confidence in the ability of students to master the A.'.A.'.'s difficult curriculum - and as he became enthused over the sex-magic/Masonic atmosphere of the O.T.O. - the O.T.O. began to appear as well. Weiser's 1972 reprint is out-of-print, and second-hand sets even in mediocre condition now trade for +/-$500. Since most of #9G's essential contents may be found in #9H and other extracted books [there are quite a few Crowley collections which are just selected extracts from #9G], acquisition of #9G is generally necessary only to the advanced student of Crowley. Nevertheless it remains unique among magical source publications for its size, scope, and sophistication. A single volume followed the original ten - the so-called '"Blue Equinox"' (Volume III, #1) [there was no Volume II]. Weiser reprinted it separately from Volume I, but it is also now out-of-print and sells used for +/-$50.
Among other things it contains the blueprint for the O.T.O. organization as Crowley planned to restructure it. [Note: In recent years Marcelo Motta, an O.T.O./ A.'.A.'. pretender, published a series of books purporting to be the '"Equinox", Volume V' - with bindings, layout, and typeface in imitation of the actual "Equinox". Scholars are cautioned against this misrepresentation. [See also #9P.]" 9H. "Gems from the Equinox" by Aleister Crowley. St. Paul: Llewellyn Publications, 1974 [reprinted 1982 by the Israel Regardie Foundation]. (TS- 4)
MA: "This is a single-volume condensation of the best material from #9G (Volume I, #1-10 & Volume III, #1).
The contents are selected, introduced, and edited by Regardie. For all but the most detailed research, this volume is a quite adequate - and better organized - substitute for #9G. Regardie's purpose was to consolidate 'all the magical writings' and eliminate the literary/poetic/dramatic ones, as well as those by contributors other than Crowley himself. So, from a purely organizational/magical/initiatory standpoint, #9H is the 'meat' of #9G. 1,134 pages in length, and about $25." 9I. "The Magical Record of the Beast 666" by Aleister Crowley. Montreal: 93 Publishing, 1972. (TS-4)
MA: "Edited and annotated by Symonds & Grant, this book contains the 1914-1918 record of Crowley's O.T.O. sex magic experiments, the 1919-1920 Magical Record, and the non-annotated text of the "Book of the Law". Primarily valuable for the extemporaneous philosophical reflections found in the Magical Record.
The Grantnotes are the better for being ignored." 9J. "The Magical Diaries of Aleister Crowley" by Stephen Skinner (Ed.). NY: Samuel Weiser, 1979. (TS-4)
MA: "This diary covers the year 1923 and is capably edited by Skinner. A very helpful Crowley chronology is included. 'I may be a Black Magician, but I'm a bloody great one. The world may have to pass through a period of error through me, but even the error will tend to the truth.' - A.C. 6/10/23." 9K. "Magick" by Aleister Crowley. NY: Samuel Weiser, 1974. (TS-4)
MA: "This volume is divided into three parts: a discussion of Yoga and a description of the various artifacts required for ceremonial magic (parts I & II = "Book Four") and a series of essays on magic itself (part III = the famous "Magick in Theory and Practice").
This edition is recommended instead of the older 'pirated' Castle Books edition of "Magick in Theory and Practice" because of its extensive annotation [here Symonds & Grant did a good piece of work] and because parts I-III are best considered together. While "Magick in Theory and Practice" appears at first glance to be an introductory text, it contains many comments and references which are understandable only after exposure to many of Crowley's other works. For maximum value it should be read after the other works in this category." 9L. "The Book of Thoth" by Aleister Crowley. NY: Samuel Weiser, 1969. (TS-4)
MA: "Crowley's guide to the Tarot, this is vastly superior to any other published book on the same subject. [The O.T.O. Tarot deck manufactured by U.S. Games Systems, Inc., 38 East 32nd Street, New York, NY 10016 should be used in conjunction with this book. Ask for their 'Best of Cards' catalogue, which at last report costs $2 and contains almost every Tarot deck in existence.]" 9M. "777 and Other Qabalistic Writings of Aleister Crowley" by Israel Regardie (Ed.). NY: Samuel Weiser, 1973. (TS-4)
MA: "A volume bringing together all of Crowley's principal writings on Cabalistic correspondences.
Since this edition corrects and expands upon earlier editions of "777" and "The Qabalah of Aleister Crowley", it is recommended in place of them. As a point of clarification, Crowley used the term 'Qabalah' to describe any system of magical correspondences a magician might find personally meaningful or useful. He was not a slave to the Hebrew Cabala, though he was fluent with its terminology and was perfectly capable of bending same to his purposes as he might be so inclined." 9N. "The Equinox of the Gods" by Aleister Crowley. O.T.O., 1936 [publisher unidentified]. (TS-4)
MA: "A reprint of the Book of the Law together with a number of autobiographical and analytical extracts from Crowley's diaries and #9G bearing upon it. Useful in understanding Crowley's own attitude towards Liber AL - a supplement to #9E." 9O. "Liber Aleph: The Book of Wisdom or Folly" by Aleister Crowley. Chico, California: L.A. Brock [undated]. (TS-4)
MA: "In Crowley's own words: '"Liber Aleph" was intended to express the heart of my doctrine in the most deep and delicate dimensions. It is the most tense and intense book that I have ever composed.' #9O consists of 208 paragraphs, each encapsulating some aspect of Crowley's philosophy.
He is correct in saying that these summaries are the most 'intense' he ever penned; at the same time they are so poetic, so couched in metaphor as to be confusing and mystifying to the reader who is not familiar with Crowley's magical jargon. Recommended, like #9K, only after the more elementary books in this category." 9P. "The Equinox" #III-10 by Hymenaeus Beta (William Breeze) (Ed.). NY: Thelema Publications, 1986. (TS-3)
MA: "Shortly after the McMurtry O.T.O. won its court fight against Marcelo Motta in 1985CE, it set about to organize the O.T.O. literature into some kind of coherent whole. This book, released in early 1986, was intended to be a 'basic collection' of administrative documents, rituals, and exhortations.
To this extent it is successful, since it makes available easily and inexpensively (ca. $15/paperback) many Crowley writings on the O.T.O. that are otherwise accessible only in rare and expensive volumes. Unfortunately, since this collection contains only O.T.O.-related works, the novice Crowley student will not be exposed to the crucial A.'.A.'. background to Crowley's philosophy - nor, for that matter, to a hard-hitting biographical profile of Crowley himself. Also some of the most interesting magical aspects of the O.T.O. system - the symbolism and structure of its various degrees - are omitted from this compendium, presumably to keep them mysterious. [See #9F.]
Finally, the history of the O.T.O. as presented here is rather more serene than that of the actual O.T.O.(s) since Crowley's demise. Although this volume endeavors to capitalize on the well-known name of the "Equinox", its claim to that title is questionable, since the "Equinox" was actually the periodical of the original A.'.A.'., while the "Oriflamme" was that of the O.T.O. I would consider the "blue" "Equinox" #III-1 the last of the true "Equinoxes" [see #9G]. #9P is reviewed more extensively in "Scroll of Set" #XII-5/October XXI."