By Aleister Crowley

Chapter LXIX: Original Sin

Cara Soror,

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

It was at Dover.  I had passed the Customs Inspector.  Turning back, I said: "But perhaps I ought to have declared my Browning?"  Much agitated, he muttered: "How ever did I come to miss that?" and began all over again.  I helped him out: "You see, you were thinking of pistols, I of poetry."  (There is a lesson in that!)

And now you—of all people!—fire him off at me.  "Gold Hair" you write; "what about R.B's defence of Christianity?"  You mean, of course,

"'Tis the faith that launched point-blank its dart
    At the head of a lie, taught Original Sin, The corruption of man's heart."

It is impossible to commit all the possible logical errors in the course of a single syllogism; but he has an honest try.

  1. It's not a man's heart, but a girl's.

  2. He argues from an extravagantly rose case of aberration as if it were an universal rule.

  3. All his premises are false; and even at that, defective.

  4. Non distributio medii.

  5. Ignoratio elenchi.

  6. Need I go on?

For one thing, I have yet to learn who told the "lie."  It was not until Rousseau that we had the nonsense about the "noble savage."  But it is at least true that man's deepest instincts, being natural and necessary, are, for him, "right."  It is true that an artificial society creates artificial crimes; but this is not "Original" Sin; on the contrary.  What's that you say?

I laugh!  I wondered when you were going to pull me up, and send me packing to my Skeat about what "Sin" means.  O.K. Police routine does beat the gifted amateur.  Sin, astonishingly, means real!  Curtius tells us "Language regards the guilty man as the man who it was."  Then, what is "guilt"?  A.S. gylt, trespass; in our own Thelemic language, "deviation from (especially in the matter of excess, trespasser) the True Will." Please take notice that most of the words which denote misconduct imply wandering, either from the home or from the path: error, debauch, wrong (=twisted), wry, evil (excessive) detraquer, go astray, and several others.  So I too leap into the breach with Curtius, and point out that "Language itself asserts the doctrine of the True Will."  But what says The Book of the Law?  It is at pains to define Sin in plain terms: "The word of Sin is Restriction. ..." (AL I, 41).  From the context it seems clear that this refers more especially to interference with the will of another.

This statement is the first need of the world to-day for we are plagued with Meddlesome Matties, male and female, whose one overmastering passion is to mind other peoples' business.  They can think of nothing but "control."  They aim at an Ethic like that of the convict Prison; at a civilization like that of the Bees or the Termites.  But neither history nor biology acquaint us with any form of progress achieved by any of these communities.  Penal settlements and Pall Mall Clubs have not even made provision for the perpetuation of their species; and all such "well-ordered" establishments are quite evidently defenceless against any serious change in their environment.  They have failed to comply with the first requirements of biology; at best, they stagnate, they achieve nothing, they never "get anywhere."

A settled society is useful at certain periods; when, for instance, it is advisable to consolidate the gains gotten by pioneer adventurers; but history shows with appalling clarity that the very qualities which serve to protect must inevitably destroy the very conditions which they aim to preserve.

Hey!  Hasn't the dear old Book of Lies got its word on the subject?  Never known to fail!

The Wound of Amfortas

The Self-mastery of Percivale became the Self-Masturbatery of the Bourgeois.

Vir-tus has become "virtue."

The qualities which have made a man, a race, a city, a caste, must be thrown off; death is the penalty of failure.  As it is written: In the hour of success sacrifice that which is dearest to thee unto the Infernal gods!

The Englishmen lives upon the excrement of his forefathers.

All moral codes are worthless in themselves; yet in every new code there is hope.  Provided always that the code is not changed because it is too hard but because it is fulfilled.

The dead dog floats with the stream; in puritan France the best women are harlots; in vicious England the best women are virgins.

If only the Archbishop of Canterbury were to go naked in the streets and beg his bread!

The new Christ, like the old, is the friend of publicans and sinners; because his nature is ascetic.

O if everyman did No Matter What, provided that it is the one thing that he will not and cannot do.

That settles it.

We do progress; but how?  Not by the tinkering of the meliorist; not by the crushing of initiative; not by laws and regulations which hamstring the racehorse, and handcuff the boxer; but by the innovations of the eccentric, by the phantasies of the hashish-dreamer of philosophy, by the aspirations of the idealist to the impossible, by the imagination of the revolutionary, by the perilous adventure of the pioneer.  Progress is by leaps and bounds, but breaking from custom, by working on untried experiments; in short, by the follies and crimes of men of genius, only recognizable as wisdom and virtue after they have been tortured to death, and their murderers reap gloatingly the harvest of the seeds they sowed at midnight.

Damn it!  All this is so trite that I am half ashamed to write it; and yet—everyone acquiesces with a smile, and goes off to vote another set of fetters for his feet!

Sin?  This is the sin of sins: Restriction.  All boots from the one last: all beautifully polished on parade; the March of Time will find not much but hobbling!

More of this when I answer your letter (just in as I drew rein to read this over) about Education.

Love is the law, love under will.



P.S. On reading this, I note that I passed over with deserved contempt the theory of "original sin" in the sense which you probably meant me to take: the defect deliberately implanted in man by "Old Nobodaddy" with no better object than to prepare the grotesquely tragic farce of the "Atonement."  I will merely remark that no idea at once so base and so contemptible, so bestial and so idiotic, can challenge its ignoble absurdity.

Rotten with sex-perversion, it is a noisome blend of sadism and masochism based on the most abject form of fear.

The only argument for it is that it ever did exist; but it does not exist for wholesome minds.

© 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