By Aleister Crowley

Chapter XXXIX: Prophecy

Cara Soror,

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

Now, now, now!  I really had hoped that this at least you might have spared me.  Still, I have to admit that your reason for asking me to go all pontifical about Prophecy is a good one; you want a chucker-out for the loafers that come cadging into your Taverne de la Belle Sibylle, and waste your time with piffle about Pyramids.

What a game!

So naturally you need a Book of the Rules, and a list of the classes of offensive people, whether prostitutes, policemen, or verminous persons.  (I quote from the Regulations for secular Pubs!) who think the easiest of all possible refuges from their Fear (see other letters!) is reliance upon the mouldy mumblings of moth-eater mountebanks.

Perhaps it will be best to begin by setting down the necessary conditions for a genuine prophecy. We shall find that most of the famous predictions are excluded without need of more specific examination.

But—priority, please, as usual, for the etymology.  Prophesy means "forth-speaking," more or less equal to "inspired."  It has nothing to do with foretelling the future, though it may do so, as it may do anything, being only the ravings of a poet, drunkard, or madman.  (You remember how Saul came upon a company of youths all prophesying away together to beat the hand, and joined the merry throng.  So people said, "Is Saul also among the Prophets?" meaning a man capable of the "divine" intoxication of love, song, eloquence, or whatever else enthusiastic might possess him.  Men seized by the afflatus were found to be capable of extraordinary exploits; hence the condition was admired and envied by the average clod.  Also, imitated by the average crook!)

For all that, I am going for once to yield to popular clamour, and use words in their popular sense. That seems to me, roughly this: Prediction is a forecast based on reason, prophecy one which claims the warrant of "magical" powers.  You agree?  Then we can get on.

1. The prophecy must announce itself as such.  We cannot have people picking up odds and ends which may be perfectly irrelevant, and insisting that they conceal forecasts. This excludes Great Pyramid lunatics; it would be quite simple to do the same sham calculations with the Empire State Building; when the architects protested, it is simple to reply: why, but of course!  God was most careful not to let them know what they were really doing, or they would have died of fright!

This argument was actually put forward by the Spiritists when Zancig confessed that his music-hall exploits* were accomplished by means of a code.  It is quite useless to get any sense whatever into the heads of these bigoted imbeciles.  Here, A.C! don't forget your best-beloved Browning!  In Mr. Sludge the Medium, the detected cheat—it was D.D. Home in real life—offers this silly subterfuge:

Why, when I cheat
Mean to cheat, do cheat, and am caught in the act,
Are you, or rather, am I sure o' the fact?
(There's verse again, but I'm inspired somehow)
Well then I'm not sure!  I may be perhaps,
Free as a babe from cheating; how it began,
My gift,—no matter; what 'tis got to be
In the end now, that's the question; answer that!
Had I seen, perhaps, what hand was holding mine,
Leading me whither, I had died of fright
So, I was made believe I led myself.

2. The date of the prophecy must antecede that of its fulfilment. The very greatest care must be taken to insure this. When both dates are remote, as in the case of "fulfilled" Biblical prophecies, this is often impossible.

3. The prophecy must be precise.  This rules out cases where alternative verifications are possible.

4. The prophecy must be more than a reasonable calculation of probability. This rules out stuff like "The Burden of Nineveh"1 and the like.  Incidentally, "The Burden of Damascus" does not seem to have had much luck so far!  By latest accounts, the old burg wasn't feeling too badly.

We may also refer to the Second Advent: "Behold!  I come quickly."2

There have been quite a few false alarms to date.  (It began with Jesus himself, snapping off the disciple's head: "If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?"  Well, somebody was disappointed.)

* Mrs. Zancig sat on the stage, blindfolded.  Her husband wandered about the audience, taking one object or another from one or another of them, and asking her "Ready?"  "What is this?"  "And this?"  "This now?"  "Right, what's this?" and so on.  They had worked out a list of some hundreds of questions to cover any probable article, or to spell its name, or give a number, as when asked the number of a watch or 'bus ticket—and so on.  One evening at Cambridge, I was explaining this to a group of undergraduates; being doubted, I offered to do the same trick with the help of one of them—a complete stranger.  I only stipulated to ten minutes alone with him "to hypnotize him."

Of course I won easily.  They cut out one possible way of communication after another; but I always managed to exchange a few words with my "medium" or slip him a note, so as to have a new code not excluded by the latest precaution.

5. The verification must be simple, natural, unique and unmistakable. Forced and far-fetched explanations, distortions of Qabalistic or other mathematical reasoning, are barred.

6. The prophecy itself must possess the complement of this precision
It must be so perfectly unintelligible at the time that the elucidation of the answer makes it certain that the prophet knew precisely the whole riddle.

I feel that this condition is itself expressed in a somewhat oracular form; I will try to clarify by citing what I consider a perfect example.  Perfect, I say, because the "must" is a little too strong; there are degrees of excellence.

"That stele they shall call the Abomination of Desolation; count well its name, & it shall be to you as 718." (AL III, 19)

(The Stélé is that whose discovery culminated in the writing of The Book of the Law.)

Here the first part is still quite unintelligible to me: I have tried analysis of the original phrase in "Scripture,"3 and nearly everything else: entirely in vain: One can see dimly how people, recognizing that Stélé as the Talisman responsible for reducing half the cities of Europe to rubble, might very well make reference to those original prophecies.  But, at the best, that's nothing to cable to Otaheite about!

Now the second part.  This was even more baffling than the other.  "Count well its name"?  how can I? it never had a name! So I tried all sorts of experiments with 718.  Shin, 300, the letter of Spirit, with our key-number 418, looks promising.  Only one more pie-crust!  I kept attacking, off and on, for many a long year, got out all sorts of fantastic solutions, complex and confused; they simply shouted their derision at me.

It was one glorious night in Cefal, too utterly superb to waste in sleep; I got up; I adored the Stars and the Moon; I revelled in the Universe.  Yet there was something pulling at me.  It pulled eftsoons my body into my chair, and I found myself at this old riddle of 718.  Half-a dozen comic failures.  But I felt that there was something on the way.  Idly, I put down Stélé in the Greek, 52,4 and said, "Perhaps we can make a 'name' out of the difference between that and 718."

I jumped.

718 - 52 = 666

My own name!

Why, of course, quoth he, in glee; it is in fact the Stélé of 666; for it is the Stélé of Ankh-f-n-khonsu, my name in those past days.

Oh, no! said Something, that's not good enough!  "Count well its name"—the Stélé of Ankh-f-n-khonsu: a name is something to which it answers, quite different from a title.  That solution is clever, but it just won't do, because that Stélé never had a name!

You lie!  I shouted, as the full light broke through the mists of my mind: In these three Thousand years it has once, if only once, had a name, by invoking which you could bring it up before you; its name is "Stélé 666" in the Catalogue of the Museum at Boulak!

A single simple hammerstroke, and the nail is driven home to the head!

Compare this with the chaotic devices of the "bilateral-cipher" maniacs, by the application of which it is easy to prove that Bernard Shaw wrote Rudyard Kipling.  Or anything else! you pay your money, and you take your choice.

7. Another strong point is that the prophecy should on the surface mean something vague and plausible, and, interpreted, possess this same quality of unique accuracy.

For instance (although it is not prediction) consider "Love is the law, love under will."  Yes, that sounds very well; I dare say that is an excellent point of philosophy.—But! well, anyone might say that. Oh, no!  For when we use the Greek of the technical terms, we find ΑΓΑΠΗ, Love, and ΘΕΛΗΜ&Alpha, Will, both of the value of 93—and these only two blossoms of the Tree whose root is 31, and the entire numerical-verbal system based thereupon organized with incredibly simple intricacy; well, that is an Eohippus of an entirely different tint!  It is no more the chance (if happy) statement of any smooth-tongued philosopher, but the evidence of, and the key to, an incalculably vast design.  As well attribute the Riemann-Christoffel Tensor to the "happy thought" of some post-prandial mathematician.

Here is another case.

Now then this two-in-One letter Moon symbol = old style capital SigmaSun symbol = capital Theta, is the third Key to this Law; and on the discovery of that fact, after years of constant seeking, what sudden splendours of Truth, sacred as secret, blazed in the midnight of my mind!  Observe now; "...this circle squared in its failure is a key also."5  Now I knew that in the value of the letters ALHIM,6 'the Gods', the Jews had concealed a not quite correct value of π, the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter, to 4 places of decimals: 3.1415; nearer would be 3.1416.  If I prefix our Key, 31 putting Sun and Moon conjoined, Set or Satan, before the old Gods, I get 3.141593, π correct to six places, Six being my own number and that of Horus the Sun.7

And one more, this time an actual prediction.

Here again is what might at first seem almost an evasion!  " commeth after him,..." indeed!  I suppose so.  It fits anybody who discovers it or claims to have done so.

Not one little bit!

For when the time came, and the Key was found, the finder's name in the Order was—and had been from the moment of his admission as a probationer—Achad, the Hebrew word for "One."  And he came "after him" in the precise technical sense, that he was in fact the next person to undertake the Adventure of the Abyss.

I hope you are not getting the idea that my Prophetic ambit is limited to these high-falutin' metaphysical masterpieces of Runic Lore.  In case you do, I now propose to break your "seven green withs that were never dried" altogether, Delilah; for I shall keep my hair on.  I shall go forth to war!  From 1920 to 1923 my abode for a season was the house called the Horsel of the Abbey of Thelema that lieth upon Santa Barbara, overlooking the town of Telepylus—see Homer and Samuel Butler II, but called later by the Romans Cephaloedium, and now Cefal.  There did I toil to expand my little Part III of Book 4 to the portentous volume now more generally known as Magick in Theory and Practice.  After numerous misadventures, it was published in 1928.8

I refer you to that book, page 96.

One last word on this subject. There is a Magical Operation of maximum importance: the Initiation of a New Aeon. When it becomes necessary to utter a Word, the whole Planet must be bathed in blood. Before man is ready to accept the Law of Thelema, the Great War must be fought. This Bloody Sacrifice is the critical point of the World-Ceremony of the Proclamation of Horus, the Crowned and Conquering Child, as Lord of the Aeon.*

The whole matter is prophesied in The Book of the Law itself; let the student take note, and enter the ranks of the Host of the Sun.

* Note: This paragraph was written in the summer 1911, e.v., just three years before its fulfilment.  Second innings '38 e.v., sqq.9

(It is a pity that I cannot prove my footnote, but this Chapter XII was part of the original MS, advertised as to be published in 1912.  You may take my word for it, for once.  And in any case we have the prophecy of Bartzabel, the Spirit of Mars, in the early summer of 1910 that wars involving the disaster of (a) Turkey and (b) Germany would be fought within 5 years. 10 See the New York World, December, 1914.)

We now proceed to Magick, page 112.

But now observe how the question of the Magical Link arises!  No matter how mighty the truth of Thelema, it cannot prevail unless it is applied to and by mankind.  As long as The Book of the Law was in Manuscript, it could only affect the small group amongst whom it was circulated.  It had to be put into action by the Magical Operation of publishing it.  When this was done, it was done without proper perfection.  Its commands as to how the work ought to be done were not wholly obeyed.  There were doubt and repugnance in FRATER PERDURABO's mind, and they hampered His work. He was half-hearted.  Yet, even so, the intrinsic power of the truth of the Law and the impact of the publication were sufficient to shake the world so that a critical war broke out, and the minds of men were moved in a mysterious manner. The second blow was struck by the re-publication of the Book in September 1913, and this time the might of this Magick burst out and caused a catastrophe to civilization.  At this hour, the MASTER THERION is concealed, collecting his forces for a final blow.  When The Book of the Law and its Comment is published with the forces of His whole Will in perfect obedience to the instructions which have up to now been misunderstood or neglected, the result will be incalculably effective.  The event will establish the kingdom of the Crowned and Conquering Child over the whole earth, and all men shall bow to the Law, which is "love under will."

This should be plain enough, and satisfactory.  However, I thought it was time to draw public attention to these matters more emphatically.

In fulfillment of my pledge given above, and of the instructions originally given to me by the Masters, I got out The Equinox of the Gods at 6:22 a.m., Dec. 22. 1937, e.v.; and, to fulfill my condition No. 1 (above) of a Prophecy, as well as to establish the date, I got a reporter on the spot, with the result following:

These Names Make News.

Mixed Bag of Early Birds.

An Englishman, a Jew, an Indian, a Negro, a Malayan—no, it's not one of those saloon-bar jokes—assembled on the Embankment, by Cleopatra's Needle, soon after 6 a.m. yesterday.

They were there to assist at the publication of a book by 62 year- old magician, ALEISTER CROWLEY.

Publication occurred at 6:22 sharp, when the Sun entered Capricornus.

Crowley make a short speech; as "the Priest of the Princes" proclaimed the Law of Thelema; handed copies of book to white, red, brown, black, yellow representatives.

Representative of the "black" race was a dancing-girl.  Indian was a non-English speaking Bengali Muslim, who seemed rather puzzled by the whole business.

Book contains message dictated to Crowley at Cairo in 1904 "by Aiwass, a Being whose nature he does not fully understand but who described Himself as 'The Minister of Hoor-Paar-Kraat' (the Lord of Silence)."

Prospectus of book says it's been published three times before; adds, sinisterly, that first publication was nine months before outbreak of Balkan war, second, nine months before outbreak of world war, third, nine months before outbreak of Sino-Japanese war.

No coincidence, it says: "the might of this Magick burst out and caused a catastrophe to civilisation."

Well, we'll see next September . . . .

"It's a bit hard of you to wish another war on us," I said to Crowley.

"Oh, but if everyone will only do as I tell them to," he replied, "the catastrophe can be averted."

"Somehow I fear they won't."

. . . .

. . . .

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

Then I issued a prospectus for the book, giving the facts as to previous publications and their results, and leaving blank a space after "The Fourth Publication" to wait the event.


nine months before the outbreak of the Balkan War, which broke up the Near East.

When this was done it was done without proper perfection.  Its commands as to how the work ought to be done were not wholly obeyed . . .  Yet, even so, the intrinsic power of the truth of the Law and the impact of publication were sufficient to shake the world, so that a critical war broke out, and the minds of men were moved in a mysterious manner."


nine months before the outbreak of the World War, which broke up the West.

"The second blow was struck by the re-publication of the Book in September, 1913, and this time . . . caused a catastrophe to civilisation.  At this hour, the Master Therion is concealed, collecting his forces for a final blow.  When The Book of the Law and its Comment is published . . . in perfect obedience to the instruction . . . the result will be incalculably effective.  The event will establish the Kingdom of the Crowned and Conquering Child over the whole earth, and all men shall bow to the Law, which is love under will."


nine months before the outbreak of the Sino-Japanese war, which is breaking up the Far East.


6:22 a.m., December 22, 1937, e.v.

This series of actions complies perfectly with the condition of Prophecy.

Nine months elapsed, and I was able to overprint, also to reprint, enlarged to four pages my remaining prospectuses in red ink.  As follows:

nine months before the Betrayal, which stripped Britain of the last rags of honour, prestige and security, and will break up civilisation.

I have always maintained that Munich marked the true outbreak of the war, because Hitler's rape of Czecho-Slovakia, however justifiable, was irreconcilably incompatible with our Foreign Policy; and Munich is Nine Months to a day after my Gesture.

This then I consider a completely documented case of Prophecy.

And I shall be a completely documented case of Brain-Fag unless I shut up NOW.

Love is the law, love under will.

Yours fraternally,


1: Nahum I.1

2: Apocalypse, XXII, 20.

3: See First Maccabees, I. 54, and the back-dated "prophecies" of pseudo-Daniel (XI. 31, XII. 11); the reference was to the erection of a statue to Zeus-Serapis in the Temple of Jerusalem by Antiochus Epiphanes following his conquest of Judea – T.S.

4: This enumeration depents on reading ST as the obsolete letter Stau or Stigma which has the value 6 – T.S.

5: AL III. 47.

6: Spelt in Hebrew letters in the original.

7: This Sun & Moon symbolism flows from Crowley's work with Greek, Tarot and Hebrew.  "Set" as Sigma-Theta or as Shin-Teth.  Taking the numbers for the corresponding Tarot Trumps from the Thoth Deck, we get XX + XI = 31.  See O.T.O. Newsletter, No. 7-8, p. 9 ff, "Liber MCCLXIV The Greek Qabalah" and No. 9, p. 31 – WEH.
See also Liber V vel Reguli.  To clarify: the Greek letter Sigma Σ can also be written as C, which approximates the symbol for the moon; a capital Theta, Θ, approximates the symbol for the Sun.  Shin-Teth are the Hebrew equivalents.  I am not quite clear on how Crowley reads 3.141593 from ShT + ALHIM: reducing each letter to units gives the sequence 3, 9, 1, 3, 5, 1, 4 and there is no way one can get the required order from that with a constant step.  To get 3.1415 from ALHIM is not a simple reversal of the order but requires writing the numbers around an Invoking Pentagram and reading them in the order of the corresponding Banishing Pentagram.  See A Note on Genesis – T.S.

8: sic., should be 1930 – T.S.

9: The postscript was apparently hand-written by Crowley into one of his copies of Magick in Theory and Practice.

10: See "An Evocation of Bartzabel the Spirit of Mars" in Equinox I (9), and "The Bartzabel Working" (Liber CCCXXV) in Equinox IV (2) – 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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