By Aleister Crowley

Chapter LXIV: Magical Power

Cara Soror,

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

Rightly you remark that most of these letters have dealt with self-development in one form or another; now, what of the "causa finalis",1 the "practical angle" some would call it.  Are the outrageous quack advertisements of the swindlers with their "Great Free Book" and so on, all baseless?  My dear child, then back to those letters that gave you a glimpse of the History of Magick, and those in which I told you something of the ways in which the Masters work.  Oh, I see!  What you want now is to learn how to apply the knowledge and power that you have gained to the execution of your True Will, to accomplishment of the Great Work.

Obviously, much must be left to your own common-sense; the one technical point on which I insist above all others is the Magical Link.

You must lay to heart Magick Chapter XIV (pp. 106-122) and never forget one detail.  More failure comes from neglect of this than from all other causes put together.  Most of the qualities that you need are inborn; all the material is to your hand; and to develop them is a natural process, equally your birthright.  But the making of the Link is an intellectual, even mechanical, task; success depends on purely objective considerations.

That granted, there are perhaps a few hints.  Firstly, while of course the Magical Theory supposes a kind of omnipotence, please remember that Magick is Science, that the Laws of Nature remain the same, however subtle may be the material with which one is working.  It is, to put it brutally, a bigger miracle to destroy a fortress than an easy chair.

You know this well enough; but the corollary is that it is nearly always a mistake to try to do things entirely off one's own bat.  It is much simpler to look for an existing force, in good working order, that is doing the sort of stuff that you need, and take from it, or control in it, just that bit of it that you happen to require.

You can, theoretically, walk from Cadiz to Vladivostock; but unless there be some special reason, it will save time and waste of energy to make use of a fraction of the machine-power that happens to be moving in that direction.

This is particularly true of moral and political reform.  Hitler would have got exactly nowhere if he had been content to announce his evangel; he became master of Germany, and, for a time, of nearly all Europe, by playing upon existing instruments of human passion; the revenge-lust of Central Europe, the panic of the Blimps and Junkers, the discontent of the property-lacking classes, the pride and ambition of the Prussian military clique, and so on.  When he had used them to the full, he callously flung them to the wolves.  But make no mistake!  The Magical Power behind all his actions lay in himself.  He had succeeded in making himself a prophet, like Mohammed; even a symbol, like the Cross of the   His magical technique was indescribably admirable; he adopted the Swastika, the Hammer of Thor, the distinctive dress, the slogan, the gestures, the greeting; he even imposed a Sacred Book upon the people.  If that book had only been more mystic and incomprehensible, instead of reasonable, diffuse, and intolerably dull, he might have done better.  As it was, he came within an ace of capturing England, even before he came to power in Germany; and it was American money that saved the Nazi party at the most critical moment.  Cleverest move of all, he gave the world something to hate; the Communist and the Jew.

His only trouble was that he couldn't count on his fingers!  I perceive that I am turning into the late Samuel Smiles; having given you an example to imitate—but don't forget your arithmetic!—let me initiate you into one of two other secrets of power!

Um—will I now?  Perhaps you're hardly grown up enough.  I suspect that your question contemplated not so much Power as powers: things like healing the sick, making oneself invisible, kindling a flame with- out combustibles, bewitching the neighbours' cows, spoiling your friend's honeymoon, fascinations of all kinds, levitation, lycanthropy, necromancy, all the regular stuff of the legends and the fables.

Most of these matters are discussed in Magick, so all I need tell you is the correct general attitude to all such thaumaturgies.

The best excuse for trying to acquire them is that one learns such a lot in the process.  Otherwise—

Here is another of those Eastern stories for you!  A certain Yogi thought it would be an admirable achievement to walk across the Ganges.  After forty years he succeeded, and went off to his Guru to demonstrate his power, and receive his due meed of praise.  It so happened that this Guru was rather like myself, at least in he matter of his Nasty Temper; and when the disciple came gaily striding back across the Sacred Stream, expecting compliments, he was met with: "Well, I think you're a perfect fool all these years, your neighbours have been going to and fro on a raft for a couple of pice!"

The moral, dear child, is that such powers are never to be considered as the main object; it ought in fact to be obvious from the start that any one's True Will must be deeper and more comprehensive than any mere technical achievement.  I will go further and say that any such endeavour must be a magical mistake, like cherishing a gun or a clock or a fishing-rod for its own sake, and not for the use that one can make of it.  Indeed, that remark goes to the root of the matter; for all these powers, if we understand them properly, are natural by-products of one's real Great Work.  My own experience was very convincing on this point; for one power after another came popping up when it was least wanted, and I saw at once that they represented so many leaks in my boat.  They argued imperfect insulation.

And really they are quite a bit of a nuisance.  Their possession is so flattering, and their seduction so subtle.  One understands at once why all the first-class Teachers insist so sternly that the Siddhi (or Iddhi) must be rejected firmly by the Aspirant, if he is not to be sidetracked and ultimately lost.

Nevertheless, "even the evil germs of Matter may alike become useful and good" as Zoroaster reminds us.2  For one thing, their possession is indubitably a sheet-anchor, at the mercy of the hurricane of Doubt— doubt as to whether the whole business is not Tommy-rot!

Such moments are frequent, even when one has advanced to a stage when Doubt would seem impossible; until you get there, you can have no idea how bad it is!

Then, again, when these powers have sprung naturally and spontaneously from the exercise of one's proper faculties in the Great Work, they ought to be a little more than leaks.  You ought to be able to organize and control them in such wise that they are of actual assistance to you in taking the Next Step.  After all, what moral or magical difference is there between the power of digesting one's food, and that of transforming oneself into a hawk?

That being the case, let me transform myself into a butterfly, and flit on to other honeysuckles!

Love is the law, love under will.

Yours fraternally,


1: Lat., "final cause."  Aristotelean and medieval philosophy recognised four kinds of "cause" (αιτια): material, formal, efficient and final; the "final cause" is the "for the sake of which," the purpose an intelligent agent has when making or doing something, the end or goal for which a thing exists, and so on – T.S.

2: Chaldæan Oracles, fragment 191 in the Westcott edition, where it is rendered "Nature persuadeth us that there are pure Dæmons, and that evil germs of Matter may alike become useful and good."  A modern translation (by Johnston in Hekate Soteira) runs "Physis persuades us to believe that the daemones are pure, and that the products of evil matter are propitious and good."  Johnston (also Lewy in Chaldæan Oracles and Theurgy) interprets this verse in a manner almost diametrically opposed to that of Crowley, arguing that the Oracles have a basically hylophobic perspective and this fragment is rather a warning about the delusiveness of "nature" (φυσις) – 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.

Next Chapter
Previous Chapter
Back to contents