By Aleister Crowley

Chapter XXXVIII: Woman—Her Magical Formula


Wine rots the liver; fever swells the spleen;
Meat clogs the belly; dust inflames the eye;
Stone irks the bladder: gout—plague—leprosy!
Man born of woman is most full of trouble;
God, a gorged fool that belches him, a bubble!
But of all plagues wherewith a man is cursed,
Take my word for it, woman is the worst!

The World's Tragedy

Cara Soror,

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

"Pibrock of Dhonuil Dhu,
    Kneel for the onset!"

for this letter is to put Woman once and for ever in her place.1

But (as usual!) let us first of all make clear what we are to mean by Woman.

Not that amorphous (or rather, as the poet says, "oniscoid with udders") dull and clamorous lump, bovine, imbecile, giggling, truthless, nymphomaniac yet sexless, malignant, interminable, of whom Schopenhauer rhapsodized in his most famous panegyric: apparently his sentimental softness understood only the best side of her.2  No! let us observe, shudder, and lay down the pen.

That makes me feel better; my duty to conscience is done.

. . . .

. . . .

The eternal antagonism between the sexes is mere illusion. As well suppose the male the enemy of the female screw.  Understand the spiritual reality of each, grasp their magical formulae; the sublime necessity of the apparent opposition will be apparent.

The ultimate of Woman is Nuit; that of Man, Hadit.  The Book of the Law speaks very fully and clearly in both cases.  I quote the principal passages.

A. Nuit.

Had!  The manifestation of Nuit.  [1]

Come forth, o children, under the stars, & take your fill of love!
I am above you and in you. My ecstasy is in yours.  My joy is to see your joy.
Above, the gemmed azure is
   The naked splendour of Nuit;
She bends in ecstasy to kiss
   The secret ardours of Hadit.
      The winged globe,the starry blue,
      Are mine, O Ankh-af-na-khonsu!  [12-14]

...Since I am Infinite Space, and the Infinite Stars thereof, do ye also thus. ...  [22]

...And the sign shall be my ecstasy, the consciousness of the continuity of existence, the omnipresence of my body.* [26]

...O Nuit, continuous one of Heaven, let it be ever thus; that men speak not of Thee as One but as None; and let them speak not of thee at all, since thou art continuous!
None, breathed the light, faint & faery, of the stars, and two.
For I am divided for love's sake, for the chance of union. This is the creation of the world, that the pain of division3 is as nothing, and the joy of dissolution all.  [27-30]

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.  [32]

...the Law is for all.  [34]

I give unimaginable joys on earth: certainty, not faith, while in life, upon death; peace unutterable, rest, ecstasy: nor do I demand aught in sacrifice.
My incense is of resinous woods & gums; and there is no blood therein: because of my hair the trees of Eternity.
My number is 11, as all their numbers who are of us.  The Five Pointed Star, with a Circle in the Middle, & the circle is Red.  My colour is black to the blind, but the blue & gold are seen of the seeing.  Also I have a secret glory for them that love me.
But to love me is better than all things: if under the night-stars in the desert thou presently burnest mine incense before me, invoking me with a pure heart, and the Serpent flame therein, thou shalt come a little to lie in my bosom. ...
...I love you!  I yearn to you!  Pale or purple, veiled or voluptuous, I who am all pleasure and purple, and drunkenness of the innermost sense, desire you.  Put on the wings, and arouse the coiled splendour within you: come unto me!  [58-61]

* Dictated: "the unfragmentary non-atomic fact of my universality . . . (Write this in whiter words, But go forth on)."  Ouarda4 wrote into the MS, later, the five words as in text.

B. Hadit.

Nu! the hiding of Hadit.
Come! all ye, and learn the secret that hath not yet been revealed.  I, Hadit, am the complement of Nu, my bride.  I am not extended, and Khabs is the name of my House.
In the sphere I am everywhere the centre, as she, the circumference, is nowhere found.
Yet she shall be known & I never. [1-4]

I am the flame that burns in every heart of man, and in the core of every star.  I am Life, and the giver of Life, yet therefore is the knowledge of me the knowledge of death.
I am the Magician and the Exorcist.  I am the axle of the wheel, and the cube in the circle.  'Come unto me' is a foolish word: for it is I that go.
Who worshipped Heru-pa-kraath have worshipped me; ill, for I am the worshipper.  [6-8]

For I am perfect, being Not; and my number is nine by the fools; but with the just I am eight, and one in eight: Which is vital, for I am none indeed.  The Empress and the King are not of me; for there is a further secret.
I am the Empress & the Hierophant. Thus eleven, as my bride is eleven. [15-16]

I am the Snake that giveth Knowledge & Delight and bright glory, and stir the hearts of men with drunkenness. ...  [22]

I am alone: there is no God where I am.  [23]

I am the secret Serpent coiled about to spring: in my coiling there is joy.  If I lift up my head, I and my Nuit are one.  If I droop down mine head, and shoot forth venom, then is rapture of the earth, and I and the earth are one.
There is great danger in me; for who doth not understand these runes shall make a great miss.  He shall fall down into the pit called Because, and there he shall perish with the dogs of Reason.  [26-27]

Dost thou fail?  Art thou sorry?  Is fear in thine heart?
Where I am these are not.
Pity not the fallen!  I never knew them.  I am not for them.  I console not: I hate the consoled & the consoler.
I am unique & conqueror.  I am not of the slaves that perish. ...  [46-49]

Blue am I and gold in the light of my bride: but the red gleam is in my eyes; & my spangles are purple & green.
Purple beyond purple: it is the light higher than eyesight.  [50-51]

Lest it should all prove too difficult, I have not quoted several passages which are completely beyond my comprehension; even in those here set down, there is quite a little that I should not care to boast that I had altogether clear in my own mind.

Leaving out nearly everything, the only way to simplify it is to call Hadit the "Point-of-view," and "Anywhere" to be the radix of all possible "Point-Events," or "experiences," or "phenomena;" Nuit is the complement, the total possibilities of any such radix.  You can only get this properly into that part of your mind which is "above the Abyss," i.e. Neschamah: even so, Neschamah must be very thoroughly fertilized by Chiah, and illuminated by Jechidah, to make any sort of a job of it.

But to come down from the contemplation of Abstract Reality (which, being static and "infinite," is ultimately immeasurable) to these Ideas in their interaction (and thus directly observable), it is easy enough to understand the Magical Formula of their interaction.  Of course, whatever I say can be no more than a rough approximation, even a suggestion rather than a statement; but I cannot help the nature of the case.  Nuit is the centripetal energy, infinitely elastic because it must fit over the hard thrust directed against it; Hadit, the centrifugal, ever seeking to penetrate the unknown.  Nuit is not to dissimilar from the Teh described in Lao-Tze.

Nor would it be proper to ignore the Book of Lies:


Soft and hollow, how thou dost overcome the hard and full!

It dies, it gives itself; to Thee is the fruit!

Be thou the Bride; thou shalt be the Mother hereafter.

To all impressions thus.  Let them not overcome thee; yet let them breed within thee.  The least of the impressions, come to its perfection, is Pan.

Receive a thousand lovers; thou shalt bear but One Child.

This child shall be the heir of Fate the Father.

(p. 12)5

I want you to realize that this collaboration of the equal opposites is the first condition of existence in any form.  The trouble (I think) has always been that nobody ever looked at things from outside; they were always at one end or the other.  This is because one haphazard collection of Point-Events chooses to think of itself as a Male; another, as a Female.  It is totally absurd to think of Winnie as a woman, and Martin as a man.  The quintessence of each is identical: "Every man and every woman is a star."  It is only a superficial accident that has made one set determine to function in one particular incarnation as the one or the other.  I say function; for there is no difference in the Quintessence.

Yet, since it is with a Being in its present function that one has to deal, it needs must that one acts in practice as if "does" were the same as "was."  You might be described as one instance of the 0 = 2 equation, and I as another; and any 0 = 2 is indistinguishable from any other.  Yet you and I are not identical, because all that I can know of you, or you of me, is a presentation of a part of that 0 = 2 "Universe;" if we were both equally conscious of that Whole, there would be no means of becoming aware, as we are in fact aware, of that distinction.

Somewhat of this is perhaps intended in The Book of the Law:

... Bind nothing!  Let there be no difference made among you between any one thing & any other thing; for thereby there cometh hurt.
But whoso availeth in this, let him be the chief of all!

(AL I, 22-23)

Whoso availeth (i.e. can put to practical service) is of "presidential timber," so to speak, because he is able to understand the Being behind the Function, and is accordingly not liable to be deceived by the facet that happens to be presented to him in his Function corresponding.

The case is not wholly unlike that of a man on a mountain who should see two other peaks jutting up from a paten of cloud.  Those tips give little indication of the great mass that supports each; both are equally of the one same planet; they are in fact identical save for the minute spire visible.  Yet he, reconnoitering with intent to climb them observes closely only that function of each crag and icefall which is relevant to his plan to reach their summits.  He also is of that One Quintessence; but he must fit himself adroitly to each successive incident of the respective Functions of these mountains if he is to make the contacts which will finally enable him to realize the Point-Events which he will summarize as "I climbed Mount Collon and the Aiguille de la Za."

I don't believe I can put it much better than that, and I'm too lazy to try; but I do want to emphasize that Weininger (in Sex and Character) merely scratched the surface.  All of us, whether we are "full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard" or "in our hours of ease Uncertain, coy, and hard to please" do in every most minuscule sort of act exercise both the male and female functions almost equally; the determination is rarely more than a matter of a casting vote.

It is so even in the embryo.  It is much less than 1/10 of 1% that decides whether the foetus will turn out an Alexander or an Alice.  Nature delights in delicate touches of this sort; it is one part of Sulphuric Acid in I don't remember how many million parts of water that is enough to turn blue litmus red; and even with our own gross apparatus we can arrange for a ten-thousandth part of a grain to send a scale down with a bang.  Think of a roulette ball hovering on the edge at the end of a long spin!  Think of Buridan's ass!

So, once for all, shut up, you screaming parrot!  Gabble, gabble, gabble, it's enough to break one's tympana, and drive a man stark staring mad.

Shut up!
Shut up!!
Shut UP!!!

These women!

Love is the law, love under will.

Yours fraternally,


P.S.  One ought, perhaps, to give an outline of how these facts work out in the social system of Thelema.

It may be useful to classify women in three groups, (I exclude the fourth, which while anatomically woman, does not function in that capacity: the "spinster.") corresponding to Isis, Osiris and Horus.

The Isis-Class consists of the mother-type.  To them the man is no more than the necessary creator and sustainer of her children.

The Osiris-Class comprises those women who are devoted to their man qua man, and to his career.  Her children, if any, she values as reproductions of the Beloved; they carry him on into futurity by virtue of her deathless love.

The Horus-Class is composed of those women who remain children, the playgirls, who love only for pleasure.  To them a child is dull at the best, at the worst a nuisance.

Each of these classes has its qualities and its defects; each should be held in equal, although dissimilar, honour.

And what, you ask, has the man got to say about all this?  Nothing simpler; all women are subordinate to his True Will.  Only the Osiris-Class, provided he can find one of them, are of more than transient use to him; and even in this case, he must be careful to avoid being ensnared.

But the really important issue is the recognition of each type of True Will in woman.

1: Develop something here about Benny Hill to orient people toward Crowley's sense of humor, et al. – WEH.  I have left this note as I found it in the plaintext.  I am not familiar with the works of Benny Hill (British comedian, fl. 1970s I believe) – T.S.

2: Arthur Schopenahauer (1788-1860), German philosopher.  One of the first Western philosophers to emphasise the notion of the Will, he may have been an influence on Crowley's development of the concept of Thelema, although contra Crowley, Schopenhauer believed that the Will was evil and should be denied.  The reference in this instance is probably to the essay "On Women" (in Schopenhauer's Parerga und Paralipomena) one of the most notoriously misogynistic rants in the history of Western philosophy.  Crowley is presumably being ironic here – T.S.

3: In the MS the word "disunion" appears at this point but it has been crossed out and "division" written in above – T.S.

4: Actually the amended reading is in the same hand as the original.  There are two points in the MS where Ourada (Crowley's wife Rose) has supplied a missing or indistinctly heard phrase, and the first is in one of the lines here quoted, to wit I.60 where before "My colour is black &c." is an insertion mark, with "(Lost 1 phrase)" in Crowley's hand above, and below, "The shape of my star is —" also in Crowley's hand, then in another hand "The Five Pointed Star, with a Circle in the Middle, and the circle is Red." (I am not convinced that the initial 'f' of 'five' is actually a capital, but it is impossible to be certain given the small sample of Rose's handwriting on the MS of AL, and it is the same shape as the initial 'f' in 'force' (III, 72) which is also transcribed as a capital) – T.S.

5: Cap. Δ (4); p. 18 of the second edition.

© 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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