By Aleister Crowley

Chapter XLV: "Unserious" Conduct of a Pupil

Cara Soror,

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

Here pops us Zola again—this time he says J'Accuse!  Today's Hexagram for me is No. X. Lî, the Tiger: and the Duke of Chau comments on the last line as follows:  "The sixth line, undivided, tells us to look at the whole course that is trodden, and examine the presage which that gives.  If it be complete and without failure, there will be great good fortune."  O.K.; Let's!

It is now well over a year since you came to me howling like a damned soul in torment—and so you should be!—and persuaded me to take you as my pupil.  What have you done with that year?

. . . .

. . . .

First, suppose we put down what you agreed to do: The essential preliminaries of the work of the A.'. A.'.—you are to be heartily congratulated upon your swift perception that the principles of that august body were absolute.

1.  Prepare and submit your Magical Record.  (Without this you are in the position of a navigator with neither chart nor log.) It would have been quite easy to get this ready in a week.  Have you done so in a year?  No.

2.  Learn to construct and perfect the Body of Light.  This might have required anything up to a dozen personal lessons.  You were urged to claim priority upon my time.  What did you do?

You made one experiment with me fairly satisfactory, and got full instructions for practice and experiment at home.

You made one experiment, ignoring every single one of the recommendations made to you.

You kept on making further appointments for a second personal lesson; and every one of them you broke.

3. Begin simple Yoga practices.

This, of course, cannot be checked at all in the absence of a careful record and of instructed critical analysis.  You do not make the one, and are incapable of the other.  So I suppose you are very well satisfied with yourself!

4.  Your O.T.O. work.

You were supplied with copies of those rituals to which you were entitled.

You were to make copies of these.

Your were to go through them with me, so as to assimilate their Symbolism and teaching.

Have you done any of this?  No.

5.  You were to write me a letter of questions once every fortnight.

Have you done so? No.

. . . .

. . . .

Have you in thirteen months done as much as honest work would have accomplished in a week?  No.

. . . .

. . . .

What excuses do you drag out, when taxed with these misdemeanors?

You are eager to make appointments to be received in audience; then you break them without warning, explanation, apology or regret.

You are always going to have ample time to devote to the Great Work; but that time is always somewhere after the middle of next week.

If you put half as much enthusiasm into what you quite rightly claim to be the most important factor in life as other old ladies do into Culbertson Contract, you might get somewhere.

What you need, in the way of a Guru, is some fat, greasy Swami, who would not allow you to enter or leave his presence without permission, or address him without being formally invited to do so. After seven years at menial household drudgeries, you might with luck be allowed to listen to some of his improving discourse.

Pretentious humbug is the only appeal to which you can be relied on to respond.  Praxiteles would repel you, unless you covered the marble completely with glittering gew-gaws, tinsel finery, sham jewels from the tray of Autolycus!  Yet it was precisely because you were sick of all this that you came to me at all.

How can one take you as a serious student? Only because you do have moments when the scales fall from your eyes, and your deep need tears down the tawdry counterfeits which hide the shrine where Isis stands unveiled—but ah! too far.  You must advance.

To advance—that means Work.  Patient, exhausting, thankless, often bewildering Work.  Dear sister, if you would but Work!  Work blindly, foolishly, misguidedly, it doesn't matter in the end:  Work in itself has absolute virtue.

But for you, having got so far in this incarnation, there must be a revolution.  You must no longer hesitate, no longer plan; you must leap into the dark, and leap at once.

"The Voice of my Higher Soul said unto me: Let me enter the Path of Darkness; peradventure thus I may attain the Light."1

Love is the law, love under will.

Fraternally yours,


P.S. Let me adduce an example of the way in which the serious Aspirant bends to the oar.  This is not boasting as if the facts denoted superlative excellence; they speak.  The only comment is that if such conduct is not normal and universal, it ought to be.  Yet no!  I would add this: that I have not yet heard of anyone who has attained to any results of importance who does not attribute his success to devotion of quite similar quality.

Here they are:

1.  The Cloud on the Sanctuary.  On reading this book, Mr. X.,2 who was desperate from the conviction that no success in life was worth a tinker's dam, decided: "This is the answer to my problem; the members of the Secret Fraternity which this book describes have solved the riddle of life.  I must discover them, and seek to be received amongst them."

2.  X., hearing a conversation in a café which made him think that the speaker3 might be such an one as he sought, hunted him down—he had gone on his travels—caught him, and made him promise an interview at the earliest possible date.

3.  This interview leading to an introduction to the Fraternity, he joined it, pledging his fealty.  But he was grievously shocked, and nearly withdrew, when assured:  "There is nothing in this Oath which might conflict in any way with your civil, moral or religious obligations."  If it was not worth while becoming a murderer, a traitor, and an eternally damned soul, why bother about it?  was his attitude.

The Head of the Fraternity4 being threatened with revolt, X. when to him, in circumstances which jeopardised his own progress, and offered his support "to the last drop of my blood, and the last penny of my purse."

Deciding to perform a critical Magical Operation,5 and being warned that serious opposition might come from his own friends, family, etc., he abandoned his career, changed his name, cut himself off completely from the past, and allowed no alien interest of any sort to interfere with his absorption in the Work.  His journey to see the Head seemed at that time a fatal interruption; at the least, it involved the waste of one whole year.  He was wrong; his gesture of setting the interests of the Order before his personal advancement was counted unto him for righteousness.

. . . .

. . . .

There should be no need to extend this list; it could be continued indefinitely.  X. had one rule of life, and one only; to do whatever came first on the list of agenda, and never to count the cost.

Because this course of conduct was so rigidly rational, it appeared to others irrational and incalculable; because it was so serenely simple, it appeared an insoluble mystery of a complexity utterly unfathomable!

But—I fear that you are only too likely to ask—is not this system (a) absurd, (b) wrong, as certain in the long run to defeat its own object.

Well, as to (a), everything is absurd.  The Universe is not constructed to gratify the mania of "social planners" and their tedipus kind.  As to (b), there you said something; the refutation will lead us to open a new chapter.  Ought not X. to have laid down a comprehensive scheme, and worked out the details, so that he would not break down half-way through for lack of foresight and provision for emergencies?

An example.  Suppose that the next step in his Work involved the sacrifice of a camel in a house in Tooting Bec, furnished in such fashion as his Grimoire laid down, and that the purchase of the house left him without resources to buy that furniture, to say nothing of the camel.  What a fool!

No, that does not necessarily follow.  If the Gods will the End, They also will the means.  I shall do all that is possible to me by buying the house: I shall leave it to Them to do Their share when the time comes.

This "Act of Truth" is already a Magical Formula of infallible puissance; the man who is capable of so thinking and acting is far more likely to get what he wanted from the Sacrifice—when at long last the Camel appears on the premises—then he who, having ample means to carry out the whole Operation without risk of failure, goes through the ceremony without ever having experienced a moment's anxiety about his ability to bring it to a successful conclusion.

It think personally that the error lies in calculating.  The injunction is "to buy the egg of a perfectly black hen without haggling."  You have no means of judging what is written in Their ledger; so "...reason is a lie; ... & all their words are skew-wise...." AL II, 32.

Let me add that it is a well-attested fact of magical experience—beginning with Tarquin and the Sibylline books!—as well as a fact of profane psychology, that if you funk a fence, it is harder next time.  If the boy falls off the pony, put him on again at once: if the young airman crashes, send him up again without a minute's avoidable delay.  If you don't, their nerve is liable to break for good and all.

I am not saying that this policy is invariably successful; your judgment may have misled you as to the necessity of the Operation which loomed so large at the moment.  And so on; plenty of room for blunders!

But it is a thousand times better to make every kind of mistake than to slide into the habit of hesitation, of uncertainty, of indecision.

For one thing, you acquire also the habit of dishonourable failure; and you very soon convince yourself that "the whole thing is nonsense." confidence comes from exercise, from taking risks, from picking your- self up after a purler; finding that the maddest gambles keep oncoming off, you begin to suspect that there is no more than Luck in it; you observe this closely, and there forms, in the dusk dimly, a Shape; very soon you see a Hand, and from its movements you divine a Brain behind the whole contrivance.

"Good!" you say quietly, with a determined nod; "I'm watched, I'm helped: I'll do my bit; the rest will come about without my worrying or meddling."

And so it is.



1: The quote is from the Golden Dawn Neophyte ritual – T.S.

2: Crowley is talking about himself, as usual – T.S.

3: Julian Baker, a member of the Golden Dawn – T.S.

4: S.L. "MacGregor" Mathers – T.S.

5: The reference is to the Abramelin operation – 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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