By Aleister Crowley

Chapter VIII: The Three Schools of Magick (3)

Cara Soror,

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

It has been a long—I hope not too tedious—voyage; but at last the harbour is in sight.

Our Essay approaches its goal; the theory of Life to which initiation tends.

Let us continue!

There is in history only one movement whose object has been to organize the isolated adepts of the White School of Magick, and this movement was totally unconnected with religion, except in so far as it lent its influence to the reformers of the Christian church.  Its appeal was not at all to the people.  It merely offered to open up relations with, and communicate certain practical secrets of wisdom to, isolated men of science through Europe.  This movement is generally known by the name of Rosicrucianism.

The word arouses all sorts of regrettable correspondences; but the adepts of the Society have never worried themselves in the least about the abuse of their name for the purposes of charlatanism, or about the attacks directed against them by envious critics.  Indeed, so wisely have they concealed their activities that some modern scholars of the shallower type have declared that no such movement ever existed, that it was a kind of practical joke played upon the curiosity of the credulous Middle Ages.  It is at least certain that, since the original proclamations, no official publications have been put forward.  The essential secrets have been maintained inviolate.  If, during the last few years, a considerable number of documents have been published by them, though not in their name, it is on account of the impending crisis to civilization, of which mention will later be made.

There is no good purpose, even were there license, to discuss the nature of the basis of scientific attainment which is the core of the doctrines of the Society.  It is only necessary to point out that its correspondence with alchemy is the one genuine fact on the subject which has been allowed to transpire; for the Rosicrucian, as indicated by his central symbol, the barren cross on which he has made a rose to flower, occupies himself primarily with spiritual and physiological alchemy.  Taking for "The First Matter of the Work  a neutral or inert substance (it is constantly described as the commonest and least valued thing on earth, and may actually connote any substance whatever) he deliberately poisons it, so to speak, bringing it to a stage of transmutation generally called the Black Dragon, and he proceeds to work upon this virulent poison until he obtains the perfection theoretically possible.

Incidentally, we have an almost precise parallel with this operation in modern bacteriology. The apparently harmless bacilli of a disease are cultivated until they become a thousand times more virulent than at first, and it is from this culture that is prepared the vaccine which is an efficacious remedy for all the possible ravages of that kind of micro-organism.

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We have been obliged to expose, perhaps at too considerable a length, the main doctrines of the three Schools.  The task, however tedious, has been necessary in order to explain with reasonable lucidity their connection with the world which their ideas direct; that is to say, the nature of their political activities.

The Yellow School, in accordance with its doctrine of perfectly elastic reaction and non-interference, holds itself, generally speaking, entirely apart from all such questions.  We can hardly imagine it sufficiently interested in any events soever to react aggressively.  It feels strong enough to deal satisfactorily with anything that may turn up: and generally speaking, it feels that any conceivable action on its part would be likely to increase rather than to diminish the mischief.

It remains somewhat contemptuously aloof from the eternal conflict of the Black School with the White.  At the same time, there is a certain feeling among the Yellow adepts that should either of these Schools become annihilated, the result might well be that the victor would sooner or later turn his released energy against themselves.

In accordance, therefore, with their general plan of non-action, as expressed in the Tao Teh King, of dealing with mischief before it has become too strong to be dangerous, they interfere gently from time to time to redress the balance.

During the last two generations the Masters of the Yellow School have been compelled to take notice of the progressive ruin of the White adepts.  Christianity, which possessed at least the semblance of a White formula, is in the agonies of decomposition, even before it is actually dead.  Materialistic science has overwhelmed the faith and hope of the Christians (they never possessed any charity to overwhelm) with a demonstration of the sorrow, transitoriness and cruel futility of the Universe.  A vast wave of pessimism has engulfed the fortress of Mansoul.

It was indeed a deadly blow to the adepts of the White School when Science, their own familiar friend in whom they trusted, lifted up his heel against them.  It was in this conjuncture that the Yellow adepts sent forth into the Western world a messenger, Helena Petrowna Blavatsky, with the distinct mission to destroy, on the one hand, the crude schools of Christianity, and, on the other, to eradicate the materialism from Physical Science.  She made the necessary connection with Edward Maitland and Anna Kingsford, who were trying rather helplessly to put the exoteric formulae of the White School into the hands of students, and with the secret representatives of the Rosicrucian Brotherhood.  It is not for us in this place to estimate the degree of success with which she carried out her embassy; but at least we see today that Physical Science is at last penetrating to the spiritual basis of material phenomena.  The work of Henry Poincarè, Einstein, Whitehead, and Bertrand Russell is sufficient evidence of this fact.

Christianity, too, has fallen into a lower degree of contempt than ever.  Realizing that it was moribund, it made a supreme and suicidal effort, and plunged into the death-spasm of the first world-war.  It was too far corrupt to react to the injections of the White formula which might have saved it.  We see today that Christianity is more bigoted, further divorced from reality, than ever.  In some countries it has again become a persecuting church.

With horrid glee the adepts of the Black School looked on at these atrocious paroxysms.  But it did more.  It marshalled its forces quietly, and prepared to clean up the debris of the battlefields.  It is at present (1924 e.v.) pledged to a supreme attempt to chase the manly races from their spiritual halidom.  (The spasm still [1945 e.v.] continues; note well the pro-German screams of Anglican Bishops, and the intrigues of the Vatican.)

The Black School has always worked insidiously, by treachery.  We need then not be surprised by finding that its most notable representative was the renegade follower of Blavatsky, Annie Besant, and that she was charged by her Black masters with the mission of persuading the world to accept for its Teacher a negroid1 Messiah.  To make the humiliation more complete, a wretched creature was chosen who, to the most loathsome moral qualities, added the most fatuous imbecility.  And then blew up!

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This, then, is the present state of the war of the Three Schools.  We cannot suppose that humanity is so entirely base as to accept Krishnamurti; yet that such a scheme could ever have been conceived is a symptom of the almost hopeless decadence of the White School.*  The Black adepts boast openly that they have triumphed all along the line.  Their formula has attained the destruction of all positive qualities.  It is only one step to the stage when the annihilation of all life and thought will appear as a fatal necessity.  The materialism and vital scepticism of the present time, its frenzied rush for pleasure in total disregard of any idea of building for the future, testifies to a condition of complete moral disorder, of abject spiritual anarchy.

The White School has thus been paralysed.  We are reminded of the spider described by Fabre, who injects her victims with a poison which paralyzes them without killing them, so that her own young may find fresh meat. And this is what is going to happen in Europe and America unless some- thing is done about it, and done in very short order.

* Note.  This passage was written in 1924 e.v.  The Master Therion arose and smote him.  What seemed a menace is now hardly even a memory.

The Yellow School could not remain impassive spectators of the abominations.  Madame Blavatsky was a mere forerunner.  They, in conjunction with the Secret Chiefs of the White School in Europe, Chiefs who had been compelled to suspend all attempts at exoteric enlightenment by the general moral debility which had overtaken the races from which they drew their adepts, have prepared a guide for mankind.  This man, of an extreme moral force and elevation, combined with a profound sense of worldly realities, has stood forth in an attempt to save the White School, to rehabilitate its formula, and to fling back from the bastions of moral freedom the howling savages of pessimism.  Unless his appeal is heard, unless there comes a truly virile reaction against the creeping atrophy which is poisoning them, unless they enlist to the last man under his standard, a great decisive battle will have been lost.

This prophet of the White School, chosen by its Masters and his brethren, to save the Theory and Practice, is armed with a sword far mightier than Excalibur.  He has been entrusted with a new Magical formula, one which can be accepted by the whole human race.  Its adoption will strengthen the Yellow School by giving a more positive value to their Theory; while leaving the postulates of the Black School intact, it will transcend them and raise their Theory and Practice almost to the level of the Yellow.  As to the White School, it will remove from them all taint of poison of the Black, and restore vigour to their central formula of spiritual alchemy by giving each man an independent ideal.  It will put an end to the moral castration involved in the assumption that each man, whatever his nature, should deny himself to follow out a fantastic and impracticable ideal of goodness.  Incidentally, this formula will save Physical Science itself by making negligible the despair of futility, the vital scepticism which has emasculated it in the past.  It shows that the joy of existence is not in a goal, for that indeed is clearly unattainable, but in the going itself.

This law is called the Law of Thelema.  It is summarized in the four words, "Do what thou wilt."

It should not be necessary to explain that a full appreciation of this message is not to be obtained by a hasty examination.  It is essential to study it from every point of view, to analyse it with the keenest philosophical acumen, and finally to apply it as a key for every problem, internal and external, that exists.  This key, applied with skill, will open every lock.

From the deepest point of view, the greatest value of this formula is that it affords, for the first time in history, a basis of reconciliation between the three great Schools of Magick.  It will tend to appease the eternal conflict by understanding that each type of thought shall go on its own way, develop its own proper qualities without seeking to inter- fere with other formulae, however (superficially) opposed to its own.

What is true for every School is equally true for every individual.  Success in life, on the basis of the Law of Thelema, implies severe self-discipline.  Each being must progress, as biology teaches, by strict adaptation to the conditions of the organism.  If, as the Black School continually asserts, the cause of sorrow is desire, we can still escape the conclusion by the Law of Thelema.  What is necessary is not to seek after some fantastic ideal, utterly unsuited to our real needs, but to discover the true nature of those needs, to fulfill them, and rejoice therein.

This process is what is really meant by initiation; that is to say, the going into oneself, and making one's peace, so to speak, with all the forces that one finds there.

It is forbidden here to discuss the nature of The Book of the Law, the Sacred Scripture of Thelema.  Even after forty years of close expert examination, it remains to a great extent mysterious; but the little we know of it is enough to show that it is a sublime synthesis of all Science and all ethics.  It is by virtue of this Book that man may attain a degree of freedom hitherto never suspected to be possible, a spiritual development altogether beyond anything hitherto known; and, what is really more to the point, a control of external nature which will make the boasted achievements of the last century appear no more than childish preliminaries to an incomparably mighty manhood.

It has been said by some that the Law of Thelema appeals only to the élite of humanity.  No doubt here is this much in that assertion, that only the highest can take full advantage of the extraordinary opportuni- ties which it offers.  At the same time, "the Law is for all."  Each in his degree, every man may learn to realise the nature of his own being, and to develop it in freedom. It is by this means that the White School of Magick can justify its past, redeem its present, and assure its future, by guaranteeing to every human being a life of Liberty and of Love.

Such, then, are the words of Gérard Aumont.  I should not like to endorse every phrase; but the whole exposition is so masterly in its terse, tense vigour, and so unrivalled by any other document at my disposal, that I thought it best to let you have it in its own original form, with only those few alterations which lapse of time has made necessary.

Love is the law, love under will.



P.S. Our own School unites the ruby red of Blood with the gold of the Sun.  It combines the best characteristics of the Yellow and the White Schools.  In the light of M. Aumont's exposition, it is easy to understand.

To us, every phenomenon is an Act of Love, every experience is necessary, is a Sacrament, is a means of Growth.  Hence, "...existence is pure joy;..." (AL II, 9) "A feast every day in your hearts in the joy of my rapture!  A feast every night unto Nu, and the pleasure of uttermost delight!" (AL II, 42-43).

Let this soak in!

1: Inject something about Krishnamurti here, and soften the racial remark made above – WEH.
Jiddu Krishnamurti (1895-1986): about 1909, while a boy in Adyar (the Indian base of the Theosophical Society), he was "discovered" by C.W. Leadbeater, then one of the leading lights of the Society; Leadbeater claimed that Krishnamurti was to be the "World Teacher", a kind of universal Messiah figure.  In 1911 Leadbeater and Annie Besant set up an organisation called "The Order of the Star in the East" as a vehicle for Krishnamurti.  The culmination of this campaign came in 1925; about the same time Crowley issued four broadsheets ("To Man" (a.k.a. the Mediterranean Manifesto), "The World Teacher to the Theosophical Society," "The Avenger to the Theosophical Society" and "Madame Tussaud-Besant" in which he staked his own claim to World Teacherdom.  In 1929 Krishnamurti disowned the Toshosopists and went his own way; the Order of the Star in the East collapsed shortly afterwards.  Source for most of this; Encyclopedia of the Unexplained, s.v. "Krishnamurti" and "Theosophical Society"  See also Francis X. King's Sexuality, Magic and Perversion, chapter "The Bishop and the Boys" – T.S.

© Ordo Templi Orientis.  Original key entry by W.E. Heidrick for O.T.O.  HTML coding by Frater T.S. for Nu Isis Working Group.

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