Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
No man alive can appreciate better than myself the difficulties connected with The Book of the Law.
You ask me, if I have rightly analysed your somewhat complicated series of questions, to advise you as to your attitude towards that Book.
Naturally, if you wished for detailed explanations, I could no more than refer you to that voluminous commentary, verse by verse, which still awaits publication.1 But I think I can sum up the main business in a letter of not too exorbitant length.
To begin: the Author is quite certainly both more than human, and other than human.
His main aim seems to me to announce the Magical Formula of the Aeon of Horus, and to lay down the funadmental principles of conduct that are consistent with it.
I put this first, because your troubles belong to this part of the Book.
But let me sort out the principal parts of it.
(1) There is a system of the most sublime philosophy which stands altogether apart from any Aeon, or from any other limited condition.
(2) There is a considerable proportion of the contents which appears to refer to "The Beast" and "The Scarlet Woman" personally; but these titles may be assumed to refer to any one who happens to hold either of those offices during the whole period of the Aeon—approximately 2000 years.
(3) The sex morality of the Book is not very different from that maintained secretly by aristocrats since the world began. It is the system natural to any one who has psycho-analysed away all his complexes, repressions, fixations and phobias.
(4) As matriarchy reflected the Formula of the Aeon of Isis, and patriarchy that of Osiris, so does the rule of the "Crowned and Conquering Child" express that of Horus. The family, the clan, the state count for nothing; the Individual is the Autarch.
(5) The Book announces a new dichotomy in human society; there is the master and there is the slave; the noble and the serf; the "lone wolf" and the herd.*
(Nietzsche may be regarded as one of our prophets; to a much less extent, de Gobineau.) Hitler's "Herrenvolk" is a not too dissimilar idea; but there is no volk about it; and if there were, it would certainly not be the routine-looving, uniformed-obsessed, law-abiding, refuge-seeking German; the Briton, especially the Celt, a natural anarchist, is much nearer the mark. Britons will never get together about anything unless and until each one of them feels himself directly threatened.
Now here I must tell you a story which may throw a good deal of light on much that is obscure in the political situation of '25 to date. The venerable lady (S.H. Soror I.W.E. 8° = 3°2) who, on the death of S.H. Frater 8° = 3° Otto Gebhardi, succeeded him as my representative in Germany (note that all this pertains to the A.'. A.'.; the O.T.O. is not directly concerned) attained the Grade of Hermit (AL I, 40). Watching the situation in Europe, she became constantly more convinced that Adolf Hitler was her "Magical child;" and she conceived it to be her duty to devote her life (for the Hermit "gives only of his Light unto men") to his Magical Education. Knowing that the hegemony of the world would fall to the nation that first accepted the Law of Thelema, she made haste to put the Book of the Law in the hands of her "child." Upon him it most undoubtedly made the deepest impression, especially as she swore him most solemnly to secrecy as to the source of his power. (Obviously, he would not wish to share it with other.). From time to time, when circumstances suggested it, she wrote to him, enclosing pertinent sections of my commentary, of which I had given her a copy at the time of the "Zeugnis."
Had Hitler been a less abnormal character, no great "Mischief," or at least a very different kind of "mischief," might have come of it. I think you have read Hitler speaks—if not, do so—his private conversation abounds in what sound almost like actual quotations from the Book of the Law. But he public man's private conversation can be repeated on the platform only at the risk of his political life; and he served up to the people only such concoctions as would tickle their gross palates. Worse still, he was the slave of his prophetic frenzy; he had not undertaken the balancing regimen of the Curriculum of A.'.A.'.; and, worst of all, he was very far indeed from being a full initiate, even in the loosest sense of the term. His Weltanschauung was accordingly a mass of personal and political prejudice; he had no true cosmic comprehension, no true appreciation of First Principles; and he was tossed about in every direction by the varied conflicting forces that naturally concentrated their energies ever more strenuously upon him as his personal position became more and more the dominating factor, first in domestic and then in European politics. I warned our S.H. Soror repeatedly that she ought to correct these tendencies; but she already saw the success of her plans within her grasp, and refused to believe that this success itself would alarm the world into combining to destroy him. "But we have the Book," she confidently retorted, failing to see that the other powers in extremity would be compelled to adopt those identical principles. Of course, as you know, it has happened as I foresaw; only a remnant of piety-purefied Prelates and sloppy sentimentalists still hold out against the Book of the Law, sabotage the victory, and will turn the Peace into a shambles of surrender if we are fools enough to give ear to their caterwauling—as in the story of the highly-esteemed tomcat, when at last one of his fans obtained an interview; "all he could do was to talk about his operation."
* The "Master" roughly denotes the able, the adventurous, welcoming responsibility. The "slave:" his motto is "Safety first," with all that this implies. Race, birth, breeding etc. are important but not absolutely essential factors.
"Zeugnis der Suchenden:" a declaration she had signed in 1925.
Has this digression seemed too long? Ah, but it isn't a digression. Rightly considered, it strikes at the heart of your "difficulties."
"The Book of the Law takes us back to primitive savagery," you say. Well, where are we?
We're at Guernica, Lidice, Oradour-sur-Glane, Rotterdam and hundreds of other crimes, to say nothing of Concentration-camp, Stalag, and a million lesser horrors and abominations, inconceivable by the most diseased and inflamed Sadistic imagination forty years ago.
You disagree with Aiwass—so do all of us. The trouble is that He can say: "But I'm not arguing; I'm telling you."
Now then let us look a little more deeply (and I hope more clearly) into his Ethics, with our minds undismayed by any human emotion.
Aiwass is of a different Order of Being from ourselves. Consider a gold-refiner. "Analysis shows 20 % of copper in this sample; I'll beat it in a current of oxygen; that will oxidize the copper. Shake it up with sulphuric acid; then we wash away the copper sulphate, and that's that." He does not consider how the copper feels about it; indeed, he doesn't believe that the copper knows about it at all.
Yes, yes, of course; I know that's an extreme case. I only bring it in to sow what could be done as a last resort, if pushed to the wall. Fortunately, we are not so ill situated. You will, I dare say, without my prompting, think of the surgeon and the schoolmaster; but I can go one better. We have in recent history a case almost precisely parallel.
How did I begin this letter? By defining the task of the Author: to announce the Magical Formula of the Aeon of Horus and so on. In other words, to train mankind to the use of a new source of power.
Page Professor Röntgen! Page the Curies!
How many "Martyrs to X-ray dermatitis?" Willing experimenters who knew the risks? Not all of them; lots of patients got burnt in utmost agony of death. How many victims were there of the "radium bomb?" (At Guy's, wasn't it?) It always has to happen, even with well tried tools, and despite utmost precautions. How many workmen's lives did the Forth Bridge cost? You know, I suppose, that a certain number of fatal accidents are always included in the calculations of any project of Public Works.
But a new Magical Formula is on a vastly bigger scale. Cast your mind for a moment back to the last occasion, when Osiris succeeded to Isis. In that great cataclysm not only Empires, but civilizations crashed one after another. Three quarters of the Aeon had elapsed before the wine of that vintage was really drinkable.
I expect as I hope that this time (communication being universally better established, the foundations better laid, and things in general moving quicker) we may be able to enjoy the harvest in very much less time. But hang it all! it's hardly reasonable to expect complete fruition after only 40 years.
What seems to me the most encouraging symptom of all is this: the Book itself, and the system of Magick based thereon, and the bankruptcy of all previous systems (as set forth in Eight Lectures on Yoga, Magick, The Book of Thoth, and other similar works) do furnish us all with a clear, concise practical Method (free from all contamination of the humbug of faith and superstition) whereby any one of us may attain to "the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel," and that the many other Beings of intelligence and power indefinitely more exalted than anything which we recognize as human—and, let us hope, capable of bestowing upon us a modicum of Wisdom adequate to get us out of the quagmire into which the crisis has temporarily plunged us all!
Love is the law, love under will.
P.S. It has seemed better to make a postscript of the most important argument of all; for it is completely separate. It is this.
The Book's meaning is "...not only in the English..." etc. (AL I, 36; I, 46; I, 54, 55; II, 76; III, 16; III, 39; III, 47; III, 63-68; and III, 73). These passages make it clear that there is a secret interpretation, which, being hidden as it is hidden, is presumably of even graver importance than the text as it stands. Such passages as I have been able to decipher confirm this view; so also does the discovery of the key number 31 by Frater Achad.3 We must also expect a genius to arise who will accomplish all this work for us. Again we know that much information of the utmost value has been given through the Hebrew, the Greek and very probably the Arabic Qabalah.
There is only one logical conclusion of these premises. We know (a) the Book means more than it appears to mean, (b) this inner meaning may modify, or even reverse, the outer meaning, (c) what we do understand convinces us that the Author of the Book is indeed what he claims to be; and, therefore, we must accept the Book as the Canon of Truth, seeking patiently for further enlightenment.
This last point is of especial virtue: see AL III, 63-68. The value to you of the Book varies directly with the degree of your own initiation.
1: Various editions published, the most complete being Magical and Philosophical Commentaries on The Book of the Law edited by Symonds and Grant (Montreal: 93 Publishing, 1974). The only one readily available at the time of writing is The Law is for All (New Falcon), based on an abridgement made by Louis Wilkinson in the 1940s – T.S.
2: Martha Küntzel.
3: See Achad's Liber 31.
© 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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