By Aleister Crowley

Chapter LIV: "On Meanness"

Cara Soror,

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

Yes, indeed!  As you surmise, the injunction to "buy the egg of a perfectly black hen without haggling" is another way of putting the Parable of the Pearl of Great Price; a much better way. For the Pearl-buyer did think of equating the values, which is precisely what one must not do.  That Egg is incommensurable with money.

(Further, the saying teaches one to insist on perfection; the hen must not have one tinge of aught but black in any feather.)

However, that is neither here not there; what you want me to do is to discuss Economy in its magical aspects.

Very good: to begin, Economy does not mean thrift or cheeseparing.  It means: the law of the house.  In practice, one may say "management."  Finances are only one branch of the science, just as truckling, blackmail, graft, treachery and double-dealing are only components of modern statesmanship.

All the same, I propose to talk in terms of money, because everyone has thought a good deal about it.  Examples are abundant, ideas easy to express, and one can be concise and clear without danger of misunderstanding.

So let us call this letter Moralizing on Meanness!

Firstly (dearly beloved brethern) meanness is flat contradiction to the Teaching of The Book of the Law.  For "The word of Sin is Restriction...." and meanness is plainly a most flagrant case of Restriction.  Also, there is nearly always an element of Fear in meanness; at least, I would like to bet that 95% of mean people originally became so because they foresaw a friendless and penniless old age.  And fear is particularly forbidden in the Book: II, 16 "...fear not to undergo the curses...."  Waxing in wrath, III, 17 goes on: "...Fear not at all; fear neither men nor Fates, nor gods, nor anything.  Money fear not, nor laughter of the folk folly, nor any other power in heaven or upon the earth or under the earth...."  Then pretty well all the positive injunctions imply reckless enthusiasm.  "Beauty and strength, leaping laughter and delicious languor, force and fire, are of us."  (AL II,20)

What's more, meanness does not even pay! I propose to tell you why this is, and how things work out.

What is money?  A medium of exchange devised to facilitate the transac- tion of business.  Oil in the engine.  Very good, then; if instead of letting it flow as freely and smoothly as possible, you baulk its very nature; you prevent it from doing its True Will.  So every restriction (that word again!) on the exchange of wealth is a direct violation of the Law of Thelema.

How stupid is this tightening of the purse-strings!  Parable No. Three, "The fairy Bank Note."

One evening a man walked into an inn and asked for hospitality.  In the morning, when his bill came, he found he had nothing but a £100 note. "I'm afraid I've no change till the Banks open." "Oh, stick to it— I'll be back next week—I've enough petrol to take me home."

"Handy," though Boniface, "that will just square my brewer."  That reminded the brewer to pay his cornchandler, who had been worrying him to settle.  He wasn't nasty about it; he really needed the money for his farmer, a worthy man who wanted to build some new outhouses, and the builder couldn't give any credit because he was being pressed by the man who supplied his materials, a man in great trouble on account of his wife's long illness, and the necessity of an immediate and very expensive operation.

So the doctor went round, very lordly, to the local estate agent, and made the first payment on the new house he had wanted for so long. "Hullo! Hullo!" laughed the agent; "here we are again.  It's curious, but I paid out that note only ten days ago!"

So there were seven hampered and worried men all made happy, and the Bank note was in the hands of its original holder.

Now then for True Story No. 1.  It is my own experience.  When, nearly 40 years ago, I walked through Spain, accompanied only by a single chela, there was little paper money in use, at least in the rather primitive places which we favoured.  The currency was confined to the silver peso, and its fractions.  About 90 miles north of Madrid, we found, one fine morning, that our well-meant attempt to pay our bill at the posada threw a bombshell into the works: the people of the Inn jabbered and gesticulated among themselves for about half an hour before they produced our receipt, and bade us Hasta la vista!

Next day, the same thing, rather worse.  The day after, worse still; and we saw that they were disputing about the coins that we had handed over.  Finally, about 20 miles from Madrid, they wouldn't take our money at all! Instead, the pointed out that we were English gentlemen, and they would be eternally honoured and grateful if we would send the money from Madrid!

On arrival at that city, we noticed long queues of people besieging the Banks; I put my finger to my nose, and said Aha!

But, sitting down at a café, oh no! not at all!  Pesos were passing without question.  Well, well!  So I got into conversation with a knowledgeable-looking bloke, and he told me the whole story. It seemed that the Director of Customs had a brother in Mexico D.F. who manufactured brass bedsteads.  The uprights of these were packed with forged pesos of Fernando VII and one other king—I forget his name—made of the same standard silver alloy as the genuine coins, and so well executed that the only way to tell the false was that they looked newer than they should have been, in view of the date! And so (continued my informant) there was a panic, and no one would take any money at all, and the city was dying on its feet!  So the Government gave orders to the Banks to change any coins soever for their equivalent in freshly-minted money—that's what those queues are—and "every one is happy again."  "But," I objected, "I see you have some old coins."  He laughed.  "Those one-eyed mules at the Banks!  All foolishness!  Days ago we all agreed to take any money without question—and as long as we all do that, why, nobody's hurt!"

I am not pretending that there is anything new about any of this; the whole theory of credit implies the probability of some such happenings.

(During the Skirmish [1914-1918 e.v.] some small town in Northern Mexico got cut off by warring presidential brigands from the rest of the country, and got on perfectly well for a year or more without any money or commerce at all, on a basis of good-neighbourly feeling.  Similar principles at Cefal; three years without a single quarrel about money.  We used to say: "There's no harm in money until you begin to count it!")  Trouble comes from Fear, and from Restriction.

When I first landed in the U.S.A. (1900) I noticed instantly that practically everybody seemed to have money to burn, defying statistics.  "Oh, that's simple!" explained a banker to whom I mentioned it; "in this country we reckon that money circulates 9 times as fast as in England.  One dollar does the work of nine."  Then, a year later at San Francisco, everything seemed very dear." Why?  In S.F. one hardly ever saw a copper coin; the nickel (2 1/2d) was the smallest in practical use.  Going on to Honolulu, it was twice as bad; and there the dime (5d) was the smallest coin one ever saw.  Somehow, it made for stickiness.  When one hesitates to pay money out, one cannot expect other people to feel otherwise.  So everything becomes increasingly constipated.  I am not denying the virtues of thrift, but it's a long and tedious business; and all the big fortunes are made by shrewd gambling.  Even if your policy be "small profits," it is a failure unless it ensures "quick returns."  This is the deeper meaning of the proverb "time is money."

Then, isn't there a little Bonus? Isn't it worth something to have a pleasant life, and to have people like you. It leaps to the eye if one is a "tightwad;" the Saturnian constriction shows itself in a myriad ways.  "The liberal soul shall be made fat; and he that watereth shall be watered also himself."

Now, then expand your thought; from he consideration of money (which we chose merely for convenience of discussion) apply these principles to the spheres of all the other planets.  You will very soon heighten the enjoyment of life beyond all measure and belief!

Love is the law, love under will.

Yours fraternally,


© 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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