By Aleister Crowley

Chapter L: A.C. and the "Masters"; Why they Chose him, etc.

Cara Soror,

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

"Details about Book 4?"  This question lacks precision.  I must pull a trigger at a venture.

The idea of 4 was due to my observation of St. Peter's in Rome; it is built with an eye unwavering from the number, as you will see when next you go there, aware of the fact.  Also, 4 means, on the political plane, Temporal Power.  (The Qabalistic Architect of St. Peter's knew that, and designed his talisman ad hoc.) This book was then, according to Ab-Ul-Diz,* to achieve worldly success.  It is my fault if it did not; still, these are early days to judge of that.

Soror Virakam1 insisted that I should write this in such language that the charwoman and the chimney-sweeper could understand it easily.  She pulled me up at the first hint of obscurity.

This went well enough for Part I: Yoga.  (And, indeed, that part did sell rather well.)  But when I had finished Part II, I discovered that not only was the book an exceptionally recondite treatise on obscure technical points, but was not even an exposition of Magick at all! Magick without Tears, indeed!

This was my crazed humility; I honestly thought that everyone knew all about Magick, and how it was done, and why, and so on.  There was little to do but to erect a superstructure of symbolism.  This, by the way, has hampered me all my life, in every way; I am so aware of my own shameful ignorance on every subject—there is no mistake about this!—that I cannot conceive of any human being who is actually more ignorant than myself.  How could such an one endure to live, with the consciousness of his infamy gnawing his liver?

I know this sounds mad; but it's true.  Well, then, I set myself to repair the omission with Part III; this should be a really complete treatise on the Art and Science of magick, and it should be worked out from the beginning, a logical sequence like Euclid.  Hence Axiom, Postulate and Theorems.  I supposed even then that I could cover the field with another volume comparable in size with the former two.

I did indeed "finish" this, even announced publication; it was just going to Press when War (also announced five years before by Bartzabel, the Spirit of Mars) came along in 1914.  I toted the rod around the world with me (excuse my American!) and in a fatal hour of weakness, self-mistrust, took to shewing it to some of my students.  Of course—I might have known—they all with one accord began: "Oh, but you haven't said anything about—" —all the subjects in the world.  So I started to fill in the gaps.  As I did so, I found any amount more to do on my own.  It went on like that for 14 years!  Since it came out the voices of detraction have been dumb.  I really do believe that I've covered the ground at last.  Of course, time shewed that Part I, although it did really give the essentials of Yoga in the simplest possible language, was hardly more than an outline.  More, it did not correlate Yoga with general philosophy.  Eight Lectures have, I believe, remedied this.

* The Master (or Intelligence) who directed the writing of this Book; see Letter.2

As to Part IV, The Book of the Law section, the idea was that the volume should comply with the instructions given in AL III,39: "All this and a book to say how thou didst come hither and a reproduction of this ink and paper for ever—for in it is the word secret & not only in the English—and thy comment upon this The Book of the Law shall be printed beautifully in red ink and black upon beautiful paper made by hand; and to each man and woman that thou meetest, were it but to dine or to drink at them, it is the Law to give.  Then they shall chance to abide in this bliss or no; it is no odds.  Do this quickly!"  I mistook "Comment" for "Commentary"—a word-by-word exposition of every verse (and much of it I loathed with all my heart!) including the Qabalistic interpretation, a task obviously endless.

What then about AL III, 40?  (also see attached)  This problem was solved only by achieving the task.  In Paris,* in a mood of blank despair about it all, out came the Comment.  Easy, yes; inspired, yes; it is, as printed, the exact wording required.  No further cavilling and quibbling, and controversy and casuistry.  All heresiarchs are smelt in advance for the rats they are; they are seen brewing (their very vile small beer) in the air (the realm of Intellect—Swords) and they are accordingly nipped in the bud.  All Parliamentary requirements thus fulfilled according to the famous formula of the Irish M.P., we can get on to your other questions untroubled by doubt.

One Textus Receptus, photographically guaranteed.  One High Court of Interpretation, each for himself alone.  No Patristic logomachies!  No disputed readings!  No civil wars and persecutions.  Anyone who wants to say anything, off with his head, and On with the Dance; let Joy be unconfined, You at the prow and Therion at the helm!  Off we go.

* Error: It was actually in Tunis, November 1925. Editor.

"The Masters contacted you."  Can you by any chance mean "The Masters made contact with you?"  Assuming that such is the deplorable case, we may proceed.

Firstly, the effort on my part was precisely nil, I resented Their interference with proud bitter angry disbelief.  The Equinox of the Gods describes this in detail.

But of course Their victim did not have a fair chance of escape. After all, They had had 2000 years to perfect Their plans. As for me, I had a traitor in the heart of the citadel; my Karma for God knows how many Incarnations.  (The acquisition of the Magical Memory, fragmentary as that is, has thrown a great deal of light on that matter.  Your letter does in fact surmise that this is so.)

You must understand that the arrival of a New Aeon knocks all the Rules sideways.  I imagine that even the very strict Magical Code of Ethics looks like a cocked hat before They have done with it!

My theory is that They chose me for (a) my literary skill, knowledge and judgment; (b) my scientific training; (c) my familiarity with Eastern ways, habits of thought, and sympathetic predisposition; (d) my stern adherence to Truth; (e) my moral courage; (f) my dour persistence; and (g) my Karma as aforesaid.

They prepared me by (a) pushing me rapidly forward both in Magick and in Yoga; (b) wearying me of both of them and making me despair of them both as a solution to the problem of Life, and (c) fixing me both in Buddhistic pessimism and scientific rationalism, so that their victory over me might be as difficult and solid as achievement as possible.  (I am by no means proud of myself.  Either I fought them or failed them, at every turn.)  Chapter V of The Equinox of the Gods might have been written with more emphasis; but there are passages elsewhere in that volume which lay great stress upon the point.

Yet, after all, AL II, 10-11 should surely be enough.  "O prophet! thou hast ill will to learn this writing.  I see thee hate the hand & the pen; but I am stronger."

To interrupt the dictation of a supremely important document, merely to jeer at the impotent resentment of the luckless scribe!  It seemed to me downright ungenerous, the spirit of the triumphant schoolboy bully!

But Their ways are not as our ways; this question leads us on quite naturally to your next point, and the resolution of that know will unravel that querulous criticism.  Just as a learned Divine might chuckle over a smoking-room story, or a heart overflowing with the honey of human kindness wish to have the housemaid "seven years a-killing," so may the greatest of the Masters—even discarnate!—have a perverted sense of humour, or a gross error in taste, (see AL I, 51) "...sweet wines and wines that foam!..."—wines, bar Chateau Yquem and very full-bodied port, that I dislike and despise—or any other eccentricity.  Look at H.P.B.—hot stuff, if you like!

It is most necessary that you should understand what happens when on goes from Adeptus Exemptus 7° = 4° to Magister Templi 8° = 3°.  As you see from a glance at the Tree of Life, this advance entails the Crossing of the Abyss; and there is no Path.  That means that one must jump.  You must get rid of "all that you have, and all that you are"—that is one way to put it.

The Vision and the Voice, Aethyrs XVI—end, gives an immense amount of detail; it must be studied intensely, with diligence, with Will, and with imagination.  Not only the attainment of the grade, but the events which go with, or come after, it; all these are described as actual Experience.  Even so, it is all extraordinarily difficult until you have been through it yourself.

But that part which answers your question is not really very hard to grasp; it is indeed most obvious.  Ask yourself: then what happens to he discarded elements of the Adept?  They cannot be left as they are, to disintegrate, or to become vehicles for obsession.  This entity which was the Exempt Adept has been built up in years of unremitting toil, as worthy Workshop wherein the Great Work should be accomplished.  It has moreover been sanctified and glorified by the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel.

So as each Master has his own appointed Work to perform in the world, he is cast down into the Sephira, suitable for that work.  If his function is to be that of a warrior, he would find himself in Geburah; if that of a great poet or composer, in Tiphareth; and so on. He, the Master, inhabits this dwelling; but, having already got rid of it, he is able to allow it to carry on according to its nature without interference from the false Self (its head in Daäth) which hitherto had hampered it.  ("If I were a dog, I should bark; if I were an owl, I should hoot," says Basil King Lamus in The Diary of a Drug-Fiend.)  He is totally indifferent to the Event; so then he acts and reacts with perfect elasticity.  This is the Way of the Tao; and that is why you cannot grasp the very idea of that Way—much less follow it!—unless you are a Master of the Temple.

Remember in any case, that not only the Adept, but anyone with the smallest capacity for Adeptship, is fundamentally an Artist; he will certainly not possess any of those bourgeois "virtues" which are just so many reactions to Blue Funk.

Of course, practically all of us in the West get our first knowledge from the pious and pretentious drivel of most writers in general circulation.  So we start with prejudice.

Also, asceticism is all right when it is the proper means of attaining some special end.  It is when it produces eructations of spiritual pride, and satisfied vanity, that it is poisonous.  The Greek word means an athlete; and the training of an athlete is not mortification of the body.  Nor is there any rule which covers all circumstances. When men go "stale" a few days before the race, they are "taken off training," and fed with champagne.  But that is part of the training.  Observe, too, that all men go "stale" sooner or later; training is abnormal, and must be stopped as soon as its object is attained.  Even so, it too often strains vital organs, especially the heart and lungs, so that few rowing "Blues" live to be 50.  But worst of all is the effect on the temper!

When it is permanent, and mistaken for a "Virtue," it poisons the very soil of the soul.  The vilest weeds spring up; cruelty, narrowmindedness, arrogance—everything mean and horrible flowers in those who "Mortify the flesh."  Incidentally, such ideas spawn the "Black Brother."  The complete lack of humour, the egomaniac conceit, self-satisfaction, absence of all sympathy for others, the craving to pass their miseries on to more sensible people by persecuting them: these traits are symptomatic.

Well, this is a very brief synopsis, but I hope that it will answer your question at least so far as to enable you to understand more easily the account of these matters given in The Vision and the Voice.

Love is the law, love under will.



P.S. On reading this over, it has struck me that you may have meant to raise a totally different issue; that of "abstract morality." Rather an extensive battlefield; I will dispose my forces in array in my next letter of "morality, heavenly link."3

1: Mary Desti Sturges.

2: See also "The Abuldiz Working" in Equinox IV (1).

3: I am not totally clear which this is, but letters LXX and LXXI are titled "Morality" – 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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