By Aleister Crowley

Chapter XIX: The Act of Truth

Cara Soror,

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

It seems that last Wednesday I so far forgot myself as to refer to the "Act of Truth" in conversation, and never mentioned what it is when it's at home, or why anyone should perform it, or what happens when one does perform it!

All right, I will remedy that; luckily, it is a very simple matter; very important, perfectly paradoxical and devastatingly effective.

Analysed, it is to make the assumption that something which seems very wrong is actually all right, that an eager wish is an accomplished fact. a reasonable anxiety, entirely unfounded—and to act accordingly.

For instance, I'm in some desolate place, dependent for my food supply on a weekly messenger.  If he is a day late, it is awkward; if two, it means hardship; if three, serious risk.  One is naturally anxious as the day approaches; perhaps the weather, or some similar snag, makes it likely that he will be late.  From one cause or another, I have rather exceeded my ration.  There is nothing I can do about it, materially.

The sensible course of action is to draw in my horns, live on the minimun, necessary to life, which involves cutting the day's work down to almost nothing, and hope for the best, expecting the worst.

But there is a Magical mode of procedure.  You say to yourself: I am here to do this Work in accordance with my true Will.  The Gods have got to see to it that I'm not baulked by any blinking messenger.  (But take care They don't overhear you; They might mistake it for Hybris, or presumption.  Do it all in the Sign of Silence, under the aegis of Harpocrates, the "Lord of Defence and Protection"; be careful to assume his God-form, as standing on two crocodiles.  Then you increase your consumption, and at the same time put in a whole lot of extra Work.  If you perform this "Act of Truth" properly, with genuine conviction that nothing can go wrong, your messenger will arrive a day early, and bring an extra large supply.

This, let me say at once, is very difficult, especially at first, until one has gained confidence in the efficacy of the Formula; and it is very nastily easy to "fake."  Going through the motions (as they say) is more futile here than in most cases, and the results of messing it up are commonly disastrous.*

* Do not be misled by any apparent superficial resemblance to "Christian Science" and "Coueism" and their cackling kin.  They miss every essential feature of the formula.

You must invent your act to suit your case, every time; suppose you expect a cable next Friday week, transferring cash to your account.  You need $500 to make up an important payment, and you don't know whether they will send even $200.  What are you going to do about it?  Skimp, and save your expenses, and make yourself miserable and incapable of vigorous thought or action?  You may succeed in saving enough to swing the deal; but you won't get a penny beyond the amount actually needed—and look at the cost in moral grandeur!

No, go and stand yourself a champagne luncheon, and stroll up Bond Street with an 8 1/2 "Hoyo de Monterey," and squander $30 on some utterly useless bauble.  Then the $500 will swell to $1000, and arrive two days early at that!

There are one or two points to consider very carefully indeed before you start:—

  1. The proposed Act must be absurd; it won't do at all if by some fluke, however unlikely, it might accomplish your aim.  For instance, it's no use backing an outsider.  There must be no causal link.

  2. The Act must be one which makes the situation definitely worse.  E.g.: suppose you are counting on a new dress to make a hit at a Reception, and doubt whether it is so much better than your present best, or whether it will be finished in time.  Then, wear that present best to-night (wet, of course), knowing you are sure to soil it.

  3. Obviously, all the usual conditions of a Magical Operation apply in this as in all cases; your aim must conform with your True Will, and all that; but there is one curious point about an Act of Truth: this, that one should resort to it only when there is no other method possible.  In the explorer's case, above, it won't do if he has any means of hurrying up the messenger.

It seems to me that the above brief sketch should suffice an intelligent and imaginative student like yourself; but if any point remains darkling, let me know, and I will follow up with a postscript.

Love is the law, love under will.

Yours fraternally,


P.S.—I thought it might help you if I were to make a few experiments. I have done so.  Result: this is much more difficult and delicate an affair than I had thought when I wrote this letter. For instance, one single thought of a "second string"—e.g. "if it fails, I had better do so and so"—is enough to kill the while operation stone dead.  Of course, I am totally out of practice; but, even so . . . . . .

© 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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