By Aleister Crowley

Chapter LXX: Morality (1)

Cara Soror,

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

"Tu l'as voulu, Georges Dandin!"  I knew from the first that your sly, insidious, poisoned poniard, slipped in between my ribs, would soon or late involve a complete exposition of the whole subject of Morality.

Of we go!  What really is it?  The word comes from Mos, Latin for custom, manner.  Similarly, ethics: from Greek ΕΘΟΣ, custom.  "It isn't done" may be modern slang, but it's correct.  Interesting to study the usage of "moeurs" and "manières" in French.  "Manner" from "manus"—hand: it is "the way to handle things."

But the theological conception has steered a very wrong course, even for theology; brought in Divine Injunction, and Conscience, and a whole host of bogeys.  (Candles in hollow turnips deceive nobody out- side a churchyard!)

So we find ourselves discussing a "palely wandering" phantom idea whose connotations or extensions depend on the time, the place, and the victim.  We know "the crimes of Clapham chaste in Martaban," and the difference between Old and New Testament morality in such matters as polygamy and diet; while the fur flies when two learned professors go down with a smart attack of Odium Theologicum, and are ready to destroy a civilization on the question of whether it is right or wrong for a priest (or presbyter? or minister?) to wear a white nightie or a black in the pulpit.

But what you want to know is the difference between (a) common or area morality, (b) Yogin—or "holy man's" morality, and (c) the Magical Morality of the New Aeon of Thelema.

1. Area Morality: This is the code of the "Slave-Gods," very thorougly analysed, pulverized, and de-loused by Nietzsche in Antichrist.  It consists of all the meanest vices, especially envy, cowardice, cruelty and greed: all based on over-mastering Fear.  Fear of the nightmare type.  With this incubus, the rich and powerful have devised an engine to keep down the poor and the weak.  They are lavish alike with threats and promises in Ogre Bogey's Castle and Cloud-Cuckoo-Land. "Religion is the opium of the people," when they flinch no longer from the phantom knout.

2. _Eight Lectures on Yoga gives a reasonable account of the essence of this matter, especially in the talks on Yama and Niyama. (A book on this subject might well include a few quotations, notably from paragraphs 8, 9 and 10 in the former).  It might be summarized as "doing that, and only that, which facilitates the task in hand."  A line of conduct becomes a custom when experience has shown that to follow it makes for success.  "Don't press!"  "Play with a straight bat!"  "Don't draw to five!" do not involve abstract considerations of right and wrong.  Orthodox Hinduism has raped this pure system, and begotten a bastard code which reeks of religion.  A political manoeuvre of the Brahmin caste.

Suppose we relax a little, come down to earth, and look at what the far-famed morality of the Holy Man was, and is, in actual practice.  You will find this useful to crush Toshophist and Antroposophagist1 cockroaches as well as the ordinary Christian Scolex when they assail you.

In the lands of Hinduism and (to a less extent) of Islam, the Sultan, the Dewan, the Maharajah, the Emir, or whatsoever they call "the Grand Pandjandrum Himself, with the little round button on top," it is almost a 100 per cent rule that the button works loose and is lost!  Even in less exalted circles, any absolute ruler, on however petty a scale, is liable to go the whole hog in an unexceptionably hoggish fashion.  He has none to gainsay him, and he sees no reason for controlling himself.  This suits nearly everybody pretty well; the shrewd Wazir can govern while his "master" fills up on "The King's Peg" (we must try one when champagne is once again reasonably cheap) and all the other sensuous and sensual delights unstinted.  The result is that by the time he is twenty—he was probably married at 12—he is no longer fitted to carry out his very first duty to the State, the production of an heir.

Quite contrary to this is the career of the "Holy Man."  Accustomed to the severest physical toil, inured to all the rigours of climate, aloof from every noxious excess, he becomes a very champion of virility.  (Of course, there are exceptions, but the average "holy man" is a fairly tall fellow of his hands).  More, he has been particularly trained for this form of asceticism by all sorts of secret methods and practices; some of these, by the way, I was able to learn myself, and found surprisingly efficacious.

So we have the law of supply and demand at work as uncomplainingly as usual: the Holy Man prays for the threatened Dynasty, blesses the Barren Queen; and they all live happy ever after.  This is not an Arabian Night's Tale of Antiquity; it is the same today:  there are very few Englishmen who have spent any time in India who have not been approached with proposals of this character.

Similar conditions, curiously enough, existed in France; the "fils à papa" was usually a hopeless rotter, and his wife often resorted to a famous monastery on the Riviera, where was an exceptionally holy Image of the Blessed Virgin Mary, prayers unto whom removed sterility.  But when M. Combes turned out the monks, the Image somehow lost it virtue.

Now get your Bible and turn up Luke VIII, 2! When the sal volatile has worked, turn to John XIII 2,32 and ask a scholar what any Greek of the period would have understood by the technical expressions there unambiguously employed.

Presently, I hope, you will begin to wonder whether, after all, the "morality" of the middle classes of the nineteenth century, in Anglo-Saxon countries, is quite as axiomatic as you were taught to suppose.

Please let me emphasize the fact that I have heard and seen these conditions in Eastern countries with my own ears and eyes. Vivekananda—certainly the best of the modern Indian writes on Yoga—complained bitterly that the old greymalkin witches of New York who called themselves his disciples had to be dodged with infinite precaution whenever he wanted to spend an evening in the Tenderloin.  On the other hand, the Sheikh of Mish—and a very holy Sheikh he was—introduced his "boy friend" as such to me when I visited him in the Sahara, without the slightest shame or embarrassment.

Believe me, the humbug about "morality" in this country and the U.S.A., yes, even on the Continent in pious circles, is Hobgoblin No. 1 on the path of the Wise.  If you are fooled by that, you will never get out of the stinking bog of platitudinous mouthings of make-believe "Masters."  Need I refer to the fact that most of the unco' guid are penny plain hypocrites.  A little less vile are those whose prejudices are Freudian in character, who "compound for sins that they're inclined to, By damning those they have no mind to."

Even when, poor-spirited molluscs, they are honest, all that twaddle is Negation.  "Hang your clothes on a hickory limb, and don't go near the water!" does not produce a Gertrud Ederle.  Thank God, the modern girl has cast off at least one of her fetters—the ceinture de chastété!

Perhaps we have now relaxed enough; we see that the "Holy man" is not such a fool as he looks; and we may get on with our excursions into the "Morality" of the Law of the New Aeon, which is the Aeon of Horus, crowned and conquering child: and—"The word of the Law is Θελημα."

3. So much of The Book of the Law deals directly or indirectly with morals that to quote relevant passages would be merely bewildering. Not that this state of mind fails to result from the first, second, third and ninety-third perusals!

"When Duty bellows loud 'Thou must!'
The youth replies 'Pike's Peak or Bust!'"

is all very well, or might be if the bellow gave further particulars.  And one's general impression may very well be that Thelema not only gives general licence to to any fool thing that comes into one's head, but urges in the most emphatic terms, reinforced by the most eloquent appeals in superb language, by glowing promises, and by categorical assurance that no harm can possibly come thereby, the performance of just that specific type of action, the maintenance of just that line of conduct, which is most severely depreciated by the high priests and jurists of every religion, every system of ethics, that ever was under the sun!

You may look sourly down a meanly-pointed nose, or yell "Whoop La!" and make for Piccadilly Circus: in either case you will be wrong; you will not have understood the Book.

Shameful confession, one of my own Chelas (or so it is rather incredibly reported to me) said recently: "Self-discipline is a form of Restriction."  (That, you remember, is "The word of Sin ...".)  Of all the utter rubbish!  (Anyhow, he was a "centre of pestilence" for discussing the Book at all.)  About 90 % of Thelema, at a guess, is nothing but self-discipline.   One is only allowed to do anything and everything so as to have more scope for exercising that virtue.

Concentrate on "...thou hast no right but to do thy will."  The point is that any possible act is to be performed if it is a necessary factor in that Equation of your Will.  Any act that is not such a factor, however harmless, noble, virtuous or what not, is at the best a waste of energy.  But there are no artificial barriers on any type of act in general.  The standard of conduct has one single touchstone.  There may be—there will be—every kind of difficulty in determining whether, by this standard, any given act is "right" or "wrong": but there should be no confusion.  No act is righteous in itself, but only in reference to the True Will of the person who proposes to perform it.  This is the Doctrine of Relativity applied to the moral sphere.

I think that, if you have understood this, the whole theory is now within your grasp; hold it fast, and lay about you!

Of course, there must be certain courses of action which, generally speaking, will be right for pretty well everybody. Some, per contra, will be generally barred, as interfering with another's equal right.  Some cases will be so difficult that only a Magister Templi can judge them, and a Magus carry them wisely into effect.  Fearsome responsibility, I should say, that of the Masters who began the building-up of the New Aeon by bringing about these Wars!

(I do wish that we had the sense to take our ideas of Peace conditions from the Bible, as our rulers so loudly profess that they do.  The Enemy knows well enough that there is no other way to make a war pay.)

Now then, I hope that we have succeeded in clarifying this exceptionally muddy marish water of morality from most of its alien and toxic dirt; too often the Aspirant to the Sacred Wisdom finds no firm path under his feet; the Bog of Respectability mires him who sought the Garden of Delights; soon the last bubbles burst from his choked lungs; he is engulfed in the Slough of Despond.

In the passive elements of Earth and Water is no creative virtue to cleanse themselves from such impurity as they chance to acquire; it is therefore of cardinal importance to watch them, guard them, keep their Purity untainted and unsoiled; shall the Holy Grail brim with poison of Asps, and the golden Paten be defiled with the Bread of Iniquity?  Come Fire, come Air, cleanse ye and kindle the pure instruments, that Spirit may indwell, inform, inspire the whole, the One Continuous Sacrament of Life!

We have considered this Morality from quite a number of very different points of view; wrought subtly and accurately into final shape, you should find no further difficulty in understanding fully at least the theoretical and abstract aspects of the business.

But as to your own wit of judgment as to the general rules of your own private Code of Morals, what is "right" and what is "wrong" for you, that will emerge only from long self-analysis such as is the chief work of the Sword in the process of your Initiation.

Love is the law, love under will.

Yours fraternally,


P.S. Most of this is stated or implied in AHA!


.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  Be ever as you can
A simple honest gentleman!
Body and manners be at ease,
Not bloat with blazoned sanctities!
Who fights as fights the soldier-saint?
And see the artist-adept paint!
Weak are the souls that fear the stress
Of earth upon their holiness!
They fast, they eat fantastic food,
They prate of beans and brotherhood,
Wear sandals, and long hair, and spats,
And think that makes them Arahats!
How shall man still his spirit-storm?
Rational dress and Food Reform!


I know such saints.


                              An easy vice:
So wondrous well they advertise!
O their mean souls are satisfied
With wind of spiritual pride.
They're all negation.  "Do not eat;
What poison to the soul is meat!
Drink not; smoke not; deny the will!
Wine and tobacco make us ill."
Magic is life: the Will to Live
Is one supreme Affirmative.
These things that flinch from Life are worth
No more to Heaven than to Earth.
Affirm the everlasting Yes!


Those saints at least score one success:
Perfection of their priggishness!


Enough. The soul is subtlier fed
With meditation's wine and bread.
Forget their failings and our own;
Fix all our thoughts on love alone!

1: This is a reference to the school of thought of Rudolf Steiner.  By the time of this writing, Steiner's students were being taught that Crowley was a "bad man."  Tit for tat.  Anthroposophy presents a merging of several branches of mysticism with dance and movement.  It rewards study, but one shouldn't mention A.C. at the Steiner schools until one has acquired what one wants! – WEH.

2: John XIII, 2-3 in the King James translation reads: "And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to bretray him; Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God."  Crowley, or the typesetter, or transcriber, may have got the references slightly confused, as Luke VIII, 3 (KJV) reads: "And Joanna, the wife of Chuza Herod's steward, and Susanna, and many others, which ministered unto him of their substance."  Crowley alludes to this verse in a similar connection in The Gosepl According to Saint Bernard Shaw – 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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