By Aleister Crowley

Chapter XLIII: The Holy Guardian Angel is not the "Higher Self" but an Objective Individual

Cara Soror,

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

On going over some recent letters I see that you question abut William Gillette and the Angels was indeed "a red-hot twy-prong that you stick to hiss i' the soft of" me.  You meant not only to inquire into the order of being to which angels belong, but as to whether they are liable to accident, misfortune and the like.

The answer is that it depends on the Angel—for the purposes of this letter I propose to use the word "angel" to include all sorts of disembodied beings, from demons to gods—in all cases, they are objective; a subjective "angel" is different from a dream only in non-essentials.

Now, some angels are actually emanations of the elements, planets, or signs to which they are attributed.  They are partial beings in very much the same way as are animals.  They are not microcosms as are men and women.  They are almost entirely composed of the planet (or what- ever it is) to which they are attributed.  The other components of their being I take to be almost accidental.  For example, the Archangel Ratziel is lord of a company of angels called Auphanim; and one must not imagine that all these angels are identical with one another, or there would not seem to be much sense in it.  They have some sort of composition, some sort of individuality; and the character and appearance of the Angel can be determined by its name.

I do not think that I have anywhere mentioned how this is done.  To take an example, let us have Qedemel—the Hebrew letters as Q.D.M.A.L, and the numeration is 175, which is that of the sum of the 1st 49 numbers, as is proper to Venus.1  We may then expect the head or head-dress of the spirit to be in some way characteristic of the Sign of Pisces.  The general form of the body will be indicated by the Daleth, the letter of Venus, and the lower part (or perhaps the quality) will be determined by the watery Mem—The termination Aleph Lamed is usually taken to indicate appropriate symbols.  For instance, the Aleph might show a golden aura, and the Lamed a pair of balances.  Some further detail might be indicated by taking the letters Daleth and Mem together, for Dam is the Hebrew word for blood.  From such considerations one can build up a pictorial representation in one's mind which may serve as a standard to which any appearance of him should more or less conform.2  The question then takes the form of inquiry into how far such beings are immortal or eternal.

In the above case, evidently his existence depends on that of the planet Venus; and one might suppose that, if that planet were stricken from the solar system, there would be no more Qedemel.  But this is to judge too rashly; for Venus himself is only an emanation of the number 7, and is therefore indestructible. {Handwritten note: Because she-he comes from ... who is [triangle] + [square], 3 + 4}

It is some such idea as the above which is at the back of the conventional idea that elementals are immortal, that they incur mortality when their ambition and devotion causes them to incarnate as human beings. (Is this achieved by some sort of marriage with a reincarnating Ego? Or how?  All this is very obscure; we need more evidence.)

You will doubtless have read in many Eastern stories of the destruction of dryads or Nats by the cutting down of the tree in which they have made their habitation.  A nymph, similarly, would be destroyed if her fountain were to dry up.

Now, can an angel of this sort ever go wrong, by which one must mean, can he ever be untrue to his own nature?  I do not see how one can imagine this to happen; for they are so completely creatures of the elements of which they are composed that they must be regarded as completely devoid of will in any intelligible sense of the word.  Their actions in fact are merely re-actions.

They are, of course, entirely lacking in the Supernal Triad.  There is therefore no question of anything in them which would persist through change.  Perhaps it would be better to say that changed does not really affect them.  Another way to put it would be that they are adjectives, not nouns.  They are merely sensible manifestations of the elements to which they are attributed, and to the letters of their name.

Now, on the other hand, there is an entirely different type of angel; and here we must be especially careful to remember that we include gods and devils, for there are such beings who are not by any means dependent one one particular element for their existence.  They are microcosms in exactly the same sense as men and women are.  They are individuals who have picked up the elements of their composition as possibility and convenience dictates, exactly as we do ourselves.  I want you to understand that a goddess like Astarte, Astaroth, Cotytto, Aphrodite, Hathoor, Venus, are not merely aspects of the planet;* they are separate individuals who have been identified with each other, and attributed to Venus merely because the salient feature in their character approximates to this ideal.

Now then, it is simple to answer the question of their development, their growing old and dying; for, being of the same order of Nature as we are ourselves, almost anything which is true of us is true also of them.

* "Venus" is, of course, a "thing-in-itself;" the planet merely one case of the idea.

I have tended rather to elaborate this theme, because of the one personally important question which arises in more recent letters; for I believe that the Holy Guardian Angel is a Being of this order.  He is something more than a man, possibly a being who has already passed through the stage of humanity, and his peculiarly intimate relationship with his client is that of friendship, of community, of brotherhood, or Fatherhood.  He is not, let me say with emphasis, a mere abstraction from yourself; and that is why I have insisted rather heavily that the term "Higher Self" implies "a damnable heresy and a dangerous delusion."

It it were not so, there would be no point in The Sacred Magic of Abramelin the Mage.

Apart from any theoretical speculation, my Sammasiti and analytical work has never led to so much as a hint of the existence of the Guardian Angel. He is not to be found by any exploration of oneself. It is true that the process of analysis leads finally to the realization of oneself as no more than a point of view indistinguishable in itself from any other point of view; but the Holy Guardian Angel is in precisely the same position.  However close may be the identities in millions of ways, no complete identification is ever obtainable.

But do remember this, above all else; they are objective, not subjective, or I should not waste good Magick on them.

Let me say in particular in regard to Gods, that the God Jupiter whom you invoke is not necessarily the same as he whom I invoke.  It is clear in any case that the revelation of himself to you is modified in many ways by your own particular sensitiveness; just as in ordinary life, your idea of a friend may be very different from my own conception of the same individual.  Suppose, for example, he happens to be a musician, there will be an entire side of his character to which I am practically insensitive. You could talk to him for hours, and I would understand little or nothing of what was said.  Similarly, if he were a mountaineer, it would be your turn to be odd man out.

Love is the law, love under will.

Yours fraternally,


1: Sic.  The sum of the first forty-nine natural numbers is 1225 which is thus the fourth "magic number" of Venus; 175 is the third, being 1225 ÷ 7, hence the sum of the numbers on each row of the "magic square" of Venus – T.S.

2: This is basically Golden Dawn teaching, with slight elaborations by Crowley – 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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