By Aleister Crowley

Chapter XVII: Astral Journey: Example, How to do it, How to Verify your Experience

Cara Soror,

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

There is no better way of training the memory than the practice of the Holy Qabalah.

The whole mechanism of memory depends on joining up independent data.  You must go on adding a little to little, always joining the simple impressions by referring them to others which are more general; and so on until the whole of your universe is arranged like the brain and the nervous system.  This system in fact, becomes the Universe.  When you have got everything properly correlated, your central consciousness understands and controls every tiniest detail.  But you must begin at the beginning—you go out for a walk, and the first thing you see is a car; that represents the Atu VII, the Chariot, referred to Cancer.

Then you come to a fishmonger, and notice certain crustacea, very mala chostomous.  This comes under the same sign of Cancer.  The next thing you notice is an amber-coloured dress in Swan and Edgar's; amber also is the colour of Cancer in the King's Scale.  Now then you have a set of three impressions which is joined together by the fact that they all belong to the Cancer class; experience will soon teach that you can remember all three very much more clearly and accurately than you could any one of the three singly.

You have not increased the burden on your memory, but diminished it.

What you say about tension and eagerness and haste is very true.  See The Book of the Law, Chapter I, 44.

"For pure will, unassuaged of purpose, delivered from the lust of result, is every way perfect."

This, from a practical point of view, is one of the most important verses in the book.

The unusual word "unassuaged" is very interesting.  People generally suppose that "will" is the slave of purpose, that you cannot will a thing properly unless you are aiming at a definite goal.  But this is not the case.  Thinking of the goal actually serves to distract the mind.  In these few words is included the whole method without all the bombastic piety of the servile doctrine of mysticism about the surrender of the Will.  Nor is this idea of surrender actually correct; the will must be identified with the Divine Will, so-called.  One wants to become like a mighty flowing river, which is not consciously aiming at the sea, and is certainly not yielding to any external influence.  It is acting in conformity with the law of its own nature, with the Tao.  One can describe it, if necessary, as "passive love"; but it is love (in effect) raised to its highest potential.  We come back to the same thing: when passion is purged of any "lust of result" it is irresistible; it has become "Law." I can never understand why it is that mystics fail to see that their smarmy doctrine of surrender actually insists upon the duality which they have set out to abolish!

I certainly have no intention of "holding you down" to "a narrow path of work" or any path.  All I can do is to help you to understand clearly the laws of your own nature, so that you may go ahead without extraneous influence.  It does not follow that a plan that I have found successful in my own case will be any use to you.  That is another cardinal mistake of most teachers.  One must have become a Master of the Temple to annihilate one's ego.  Most teachers, consciously or unconsciously, try to get others to follow in their steps. I might as well dress you up in my castoff clothing!  (In the steps of the MasterAt the feet of the Master.  Steward!)

Please observe that the further you get on, the higher your potential, the greater is the tendency to leak, or even to break the containing vessel.  I can help you by warning you against setting up obstacles, real or imaginary, in your own path; which is what most people do.  It is almost laughable to think that the Great Work consists merely in "letting her rip;" but Karma bumps you from one side of the toboggan slide to the other, until you vcome into the straight."  (There's a chapter or two in the Book of Lies about this, but I haven't got a copy.  I must find one, and put them in here.  Yes: p. 22)1

O thou that settest out upon the Path, false is the Phantom that thou seekest.  When thou hast it thou shalt know all bitterness, thy teeth fixed in the Sodom-Apple.

Thus hast thou been lured along that Path, whose terror else had driven thee far away.

O thou that stridest upon the middle of the Path, no phantoms mock thee.  For the stride's sake thou stridest.

Thus art thou lured along that Path, whose fascination else had driven thee far away.

O thou that drawest toward the End of The Path, effort is no more. Faster and faster dost thou fall; thy weariness is changed into Ineffable Rest.

For there is no Thou upon that Path: thou hast become The Way.

As in the Yi King, the 3rd hexagram has departed from the original perfection, and it takes all the rest of the hexagrams to put things right again.

The result, it is true, is superior; the perfection of the original has been enhanced and enriched by its experience.

There is another way of defining the Great Work.  That explains to us the whole object of manifestation, of departing from the perfection of "Nothing" towards the perfection of "everything", and one may consider this advan- tage, that it is quite impossible to go wrong.  Every experience, whatever may be its nature, is just another necessary bump.

Naturally one cannot realize this until one becomes a Master of the Temple; consequently one is perpetually plunged in sorrow and despair.  There is, you see, a good deal more to it than merely learning one's mistakes.  One can never be sure what is right and what is wrong, until one appreciates that "wrong" is equally "right."  Now then one gets rid of the idea of "effort" which is associated with "lust of result." All that one does is to exercise pleasantly and healthfully one's energies.

It will not do to regard "man" as the "final cause" of manifestation. Please do not quote myself against me.

"Man is so infinitely small,
 In all these stars, determinate.
 Maker and master of them all,
 Man is so infinitely great."2

The human apparatus is the best instrument of which we are, at present, aware in our normal consciousness; but when you come to experience the Conversation of the higher intelligences, you will understand how imperfect are your faculties.  It is true that you can project these intelligences as parts of yourself, or you can suppose that certain human vehicles may be temporally employed by them for various purposes; but these speculations tend to be idle.  The important thing is to make contact with beings, whatever their nature, who are superior to yourself, not merely in degree but it kind.  That is to say, not merely different as a Great Dane differs from a Chihuahua, but as a buffalo differs from either.

Of course you are perfectly right about the senses, though I would not agree to confine the meaning to the five which are common to most people.  There must, one might suspect, be ways of apprehending directly such phenomena as magnetism, electrical resistance, chemical affinity and the like.  Let me direct you once more to The Book of the Law, Chapter II, vs. 70 - 72.

"There is help & hope in other spells.  Wisdom says: be strong! Then canst thou bear more joy.  Be not animal; refine thy rapture!  If thou drink, drink by the eight and ninety rules of art: if thou love, exceed by delicacy; and if thou do aught joyous, let there be subtlety therein!

"But exceed! exceed!

"Strive ever to more! and if thou art truly mine—and doubt it not, an if thou art ever joyous!—death is the crown of all."

The mystic's idea of deliberately stupefying and stultifying himself is an "abomination unto the Lord."  This, by the way, does not conflict with the rules of Yoga.  That kind of suppression is comparable to the restrictions in athletic training, or diet in sickness.

Now we get back to the Qabalah—how to make use of it.

Let us suppose that you have been making an invocation, or shall we call it an investigation, and suppose you want to interpret a passage of Bach.  To play this is the principal weapon of your ceremony.  In the course of your operation, you assume your astral body and rise far above the terrestrial atmosphere, while the music continues softly in the background.  You open your eyes, and find that it is night.  Dark clouds are on the horizon; but in the zenith is a crown of constellations.  This light helps you, especially as your eyes become accustomed to the gloom, to take in your surroundings.  It is a bleak and barren landscape.  Terrific mountains rim the world.  In the midst looms a cluster of blue-black crags.  Now there appears from their recesses a gigantic being.  His strength, especially in his hands and in his loins, it terrifying.  He suggests a combination of lion, mountain goat and serpent; and you instantly jump to the idea that this is one of the rare beings which the Greeks called Chimaera.  So formidable is his appearance that you consider it prudent to assume an appropriate god-form.  But who is the appropriate god?  You may perhaps consider it best, in view of your complete ignorance as to who he is and where you are, to assume the god-form of Harpocrates, as being good defence in any case; but of course this will not take you very far.  If you are sufficiently curious and bold, you will make up your mind rapidly on this point.  This is where your daily practice of the Qabalah will come in useful.  You run through in your mind the seven sacred planets.  The very first of them seems quite consonant with what you have so far seen.  Everything suits Saturn well enough.  To be on the safe side, you go through the others; but this is a very obvious case—Saturn is the only planet that agrees with everything.  The only other possibility will be the Moon; but there is no trace noticeable of any of her more amiable characteristics.  You will therefore make up your mind that it is a Saturnian god-form that you need.  Fortunate indeed for you that you have practiced daily the assumption of such forms!  Very firmly, very steadily, very slowly, very quietly, you transform your normal astral appearance into that of Sebek.  The Chimaera, recognizing your divine authority, becomes less formidable and menacing in appearance.  He may, in some way, indicate his willingness to serve you.  Very good, so far; but it is of course the first essential to make sure of his integrity.  Accordingly you begin by asking his name.  This is vital; because if he tells you the truth, it gives you power over him.  But if, on the other hand, he tells you a lie, he abandons for good and all his fortress.  He becomes rather like a submarine whose base has been destroyed.  He may do you a lot of mischief in the meantime, of course, so look out!

Well then, he tells you that his name is Ottillia.  Shall we try to spell it in Greek or in Hebrew.  By the sound of the name and perhaps to some extent by his appearance one might plump for the former; but after all the Greek Qabalah is so unsatisfactory.  We give Hebrew the first chance—we start with Ayin Teth Yod Lamed Yod Aleph Hé.  Let us try this lettering for a start.  It adds up to 135. I daresay that you don't remember what the Sepher Sephiroth tells you about the number; but as luck will have it, there is no need to inquire; for 135 = 3 x 45.  Three is the number, is the first number of Saturn, and 45 the last.  (The sum of the numbers in the magic square of Saturn is 45.)  That corresponds beautifully with everything you have got so far; but then of course you must know if he is "one of the beliving Jinn."  Briefly, is he a friend or an enemy?  You accordingly say to him "The word of the Law is Θελημα"  It turns out that he doesn't understand Greek at all, so you were certainly right in choosing Hebrew.  You put it to him, "What is the word of the Law?" and he replies darkly. "The word of the Law is Thora."  That means nothing to you; any one might know as much as that, Thora being the ordinary word for the Sacred Law of Israel, and you accordingly ask him to spell it to make sure you have heard aright; and he gives you the letters, perhaps by speaking them, perhaps by showing them: Teth, Resh, Ayin.  You add these up and get 279.  This again is divisible by the Saturnian 3, and the result is 93; in other words, he has been precisely right.  On the plane of Saturn one may multiply by three and therefore he has given you the correct word "Thelema" in a form unfamiliar to you.  You man now consider yourself satisfied of his good faith, and may proceed to inspect him more closely.  The stars above his head suggest the influence of Binah, whose number also is three, while the most striking thing about him is the core of his being: the letter Yod.  (One does not count the termination "AH": being a divine suffix it represents the inmost light and the outermost light.)  This Yod, this spark of intense brilliance, is of the pale greenish gold which one sees (in this world) in the fine gold leaf of Tibet.  It glows with ever greater intensity as you concentrate upon observing him, which you could not do while you were preoccupied with investigating his credentials.

Confidence being thus established, you inquire why he as appeared to you at this time and at this place; and the answer to this question is of course your original idea, that is to say, he is presenting to you in other terms that "mountainous Fugue" which invoked him.  You listen to him with attention, make such enquiries as seem good to you, and record the proceedings.

The above example is, of course, pure imagination, and represents a very favourable case.  You are only too likely, and that not only at the beginning, to meet all sorts of difficulties and dangers.

Love is the law, love under will.



1: The passage quoted is from chapter 13 (ΙΓ), "Pilgrim-Talk" p. 36 of the second edition – T.S.

2: The last stanza of Crowley's poem "At Sea," published in Equinox I (9).  The Equinox publication had "Maker and moulder of them all," as the third line – 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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