By Aleister Crowley

Chapter LXXVI: The Gods: How and Why they Overlap

Cara Soror,

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

I am glad: it shows you have been putting in some genuine original work.  Result!  You make a very shrewd observation; you have noticed the curious fashion in which Gods seem to overlap.  It is not the same (you point out) with Angels.  In no other system do we find a parallel for the Living Creatures, Wheels, Wings, Fiery Serpents,1 with such quasi-human cohorts as the Beni Elohim who beget the children on women,2 to whom the Qabalah has introduced us.  The Beni Elohim is actually an exception; there is the Incubus and some of the Fairy Folk, as well as certain Gods and demi-Gods, who act thus paternally.  But you are right in the main.  The Arabs, for example, have "seven heavens" and seven Orders of Angels, also Jinn; but the classes are by no means identical.  This, even though certain Archangels, notably Gabriel, appear in both systems.  But then Gabriel is a definite individual, a person—and this fact is the key to your puzzle.

For, as I have explained in a previous letter, Gods are people: macrocosms, not mere collocations of the elements, planets and signs as are most of the angels, intelligences and spirits.  It is interesting to note that Gabriel in particular seems to be more than one of these; he enjoys the divine privilege of being himself.  Between you and me and the pylon, I suspect that Gabriel who gave the Q'uran to Mohammed was in reality a "Master" or messenger of some such person, more or less as Aiwass describes himself as "...the minister of Hoor-paar- kraat."  (AL I, 7)  His name implies some such function; for G.B.R. is Mercury between the Two Greater Lights, Sol and Luna.  This seems to mean that he is something more than a lunar or terrestrial archangel; as he would appear to be from 777.  (There now!  That was my private fiend again—the Demon of Digression.  Back to our Gods!)  777 itself, to say nothing of The Golden Bough and the Good Lord knows how many other similar monuments of lexicography (for really they are little more), is our text-book.  We are bound to note at once that the Gods sympathise, run into one another, coalesce much more closely than any other of the Orders of Being.  There is not really much in common between a jackal and a beetle, or between a wolf and an owl, although they are grouped under Pisces or Aries respectively.  But Adonis, Attis, Osiris, Melcarth, Mithras, Marsyas — — — a whole string of them comes tripping off the tongue.  They all have histories; their birth, their life, their death, their subsequent career; all goes naturally with them exactly as if they were (say) a set of warriors, painters, anything superbly human.  We feel instinctively that we know them, or at least know of them in the same sense that we know of our fellow men and women; and that is a sense which never so much as occurs to us when we discuss Archangels.  The great exception is the Holy Guardian Angel; and this as I have shewn in another letter is for exactly the same reason; He is a Person, a macrocosmic Individual.  (We do not know about his birth and so on; but that is because he is, so to speak, a private God; he only appears to the world at all through some reference to him by his client; for instance, the genius or Augoeides of Socrates).

Let us see how this works in practice. Consider Zeus, Jupiter, Amon- Ra, Indra, etc., we can think of them as the same identical people known and described by Greeks, Romans, Egyptians and Hindus; they differ as Mont Cervin differs from Monte Silvio and the Matterhorn.

(They are bound to appear different, because the mountain does not look the same from Zermatt as it does from Domodossola, or even as seen by a French-Swiss and a German-Swiss.)  In the same way read the Life of Napoleon written by one of his marshals, by Michelet (a rabid Republican), by Lord Rosebery, by a patriotic Russian, and by a German poet and philosopher: one can hardly believe that the subject of any two of these biographies is the same man.

But upon certain points the identity is bound to transpire; even when we read of his crushing and classic defeat at Waterloo by the Belgians, the man is detected.  Transferring the analogy to the Gods, it is then open to us to suppose that Tahuti, Thoth, Hermes, Mercury, Loki, Hanuman and the rest are identical, and that the diversity of the name and the series of exploits is due merely to the accidents of time and space.  But it is at least equally plausible to suggest that these Gods are different individuals, although of the identical Order of Being, characteristics and function.  Very much as if one took Drake, Frobisher, Raleigh, Hood, Blake, Rodney and Nelson, as seen through the mists of history, tradition, legend and plain mythopoeia.  Add a few names not English, and our position is closely parallel.  Personally, I incline to the latter hypothesis; but it would be hard to say why, unless that it is because I feel that to identify them completely would be to reduce their stature to that of personifications of various cosmic energies.

History lends its weight to my view.  When the philosophic schools, unable to refute the charge of absurdity leveled at the orthodox devotee who believed that Mars actually begot Romulus and Remus on a Vestal Virgin, explained that Mars was no more than the martial instinct, and the Virgin a type of Purity, their faith declined, and with it Roman Virtue.  "Educate" Colonel Blimp's children and we have the "intelligentsia" of Bloomsbury.  I am very sorry about all this; but life must always be brutal and stupid so long as it depends upon animals and vegetables for nourishment.

How restore faith in the Gods?  There is only one way; we must get to know them personally.  And that, of course, is one of the principal tasks of the Magician.

One further remark.  I have suggested that all these "identical" gods are in reality distinct persons, but belonging to the same families.  Can we follow up this line of thought?  Yes: but I will defer it to a subsequent letter.

Love is the law, love under will.

Yours fraternally,


1: These are just the English names of various of the Qabalisitc "Choirs of Angels." – T.S.

2: Genesis VI. 2, 4.  See also the Book of Enoch – 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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