Μια Ψυχολογική Ανάλυση του Liber Al vel Legis  


Στο The Magical Revival (1972) ο Kenneth Grant συγχέει το Νεκρονομικόν (Al Azif) με το Βιβλίο του Νόμου (Liber Al), πραγματοποιώντας μια συγκριτική λίστα μεταξύ της λανθάνουσας μεταφυσικής (και θεολογίας) του Λάβκραφτ με την μαγεία του Άλιστερ Κρόουλυ.
Ο κατάλογος αυτός έχει πολλαπλά προβλήματα, όμως στρέφει την προσοχή μας στον πυρήνα της σκέψης του βρετανού μάγου, γεννώντας παράλληλα ένα ερώτημα: τι μπορεί να κερδίσει ο ασκητής του Ρεύματος μελετώντας το Θέλημα έτσι όπως αυτό παρουσιάζεται στο έργο του Κρόουλυ;
Πιστεύω πως η απάντηση έγκειται στην αντίληψη πως όπως η αναζήτηση του Θελήματος οδηγεί τον μύστη στην ένωση με τον Άγιο Φύλακα Άγγελο (και κατά επέκταση με την Κοσμική Συνείδηση), παρόμοια ο ασκητής του Ρεύματος του Νεκρονομικόν εργάζεται για να αποκαλύψει μέσα του την Μαύρη Φλόγα που θα τον φέρει σε επαφή με τον Νυαρλαθοτέπ, τον αγγελιοφόρο του Κοσμικού Κέντρου, τον μαύρο θεό Αζαθώθ.
Βέβαια οι σχέσεις μεταξύ των δυο αυτών σχολών είναι πολλές περισσότερες, συμπεραίνοντας έτσι πως ο αληθινός εραστής της εσωτερικής φιλοσοφίας μπορεί μονάχα να κερδίσει από την μελέτη των παρεμφερή μαγικών συστημάτων.
Γι’ αυτό λοιπόν, αναδημοσιεύω από εδώ, αυτό το εξαίρετο κείμενο που εξερευνά το Θέλημα και τις αρχές του Liber Al υπό την σκοπιά της ψυχολογίας του βάθους, και όχι μόνο…


Psychological Commentary on Liber AL vel Legis

Liber AL vel Legis sub figura CCXX was a treatise that Aleister Crowley wrote (or “received”) in Egypt in 1904. This book is the foundation of the philosophical-religious system of Thelema, and this essay is intended to establish Liber AL as a valid exposition of psychology as well. Liber AL makes what appear to be many metaphysical and spiritual claims, but we will examine these in a strictly psychological light. Carl Jung wrote these carefully formulated words that characterize the attitude of this essay,

“The religious point of view always expresses and formulates the essential psychological attitude and its specific prejudices.” [1]

…and so, “Psychology accordingly treats all metaphysical claims and assertions as mental phenomena, and regards them as statements about the mind and its structure that derive ultimately from certain unconscious dispositions. It does not consider them to be absolutely valid or even capable of establishing a metaphysical truth.” [2]

Therefore, Liber AL vel Legis’s many assertionsare now understood as describing mental phenomena, or more accurately, things that are part of the psyche, from the conscious to the deepest recesses of the unconscious. Since Liber AL will be treated as a series of psychological assertions about mental phenomenon, it might be said to be entirely subjective. This is simply not true. Just as natural scientists rely upon the uniformity of nature, the psychologist depends on the relative uniformity of the human psyche. Jung writes “It must be pointed out that just as the human body shows a common anatomy over and above all racial differences, so, too, the human psyche possesses a common substratum transcending all differences in culture and consciousness. I have called this substratum the collective unconscious. This unconscious psyche, common to all mankind does not consist merely of contents capable of becoming conscious, but of latent predispositions towards identical reactions. The collective unconscious is simply the psychic expression of the identity of brain structure irrespective of all racial differences.”[3]

Thus, we may more accurately describe Liber AL vel Legis as both a product and an expression of the collective unconscious, filtered through the peculiar and unique psyche of Aleister Crowley. We may therefore find statements of universal import explained under the figure of certain symbols that were familiar to Crowley’s consciousness and therefore reproduced by the unconscious in this text. If we can understand the meaning of various terms and symbols in Liber AL vel Legis as they are used – hopefully as Crowley understood them - the meaning or purpose in their appearance from the unconscious in the text can be understood. Then we can see that Thelema essentially puts forward a new psychological point-of-view of life.

- References -

[1] Jung, Carl. “Psychological Commentary on The Tibetan Book of the Great Liberation” extracted from Collected Works of C.G. Jung Volume 11, Psychology and Religion: West and East, par. 771

[2] Jung, Carl. “Psychological Commentary on The Tibetan Book of the Great Liberation,”par. 760

[3] Jung, Carl. “Psychological Commentary on ‘The Secret of the Golden Flower’” extracted from Collected Works of C.G. Jung Volume 13, Alchemical Studies, par. 11

First principles


These principles must first be established to form a functional framework of Thelema to work adequately within. The principles of existence in Liber AL vel Legis are proclaimed as a dichotomy (much like the Taoist concepts of yin & yang and the Western concepts of the elements water & fire) in the first line of both chapter 1 and 2.[1] They are Nu/Nuit and Had/Hadit, which are understood as Infinite Space/Potential and Infinite Motion respectively. Interestingly, they are represented under the ancient symbolic figure, “In the sphere I [Hadit] am everywhere the centre, as she [Nuit], the circumference, is nowhere found,” which echoes an almost identical statement made by Empedocles[2] in the 5th century B.C..

Nuit is “The infinite in whom all we live and move and have our being,”[3] “Nuit is all that may be, and is shewn by means of any one that is,”[4] “the total of possibilities of every kind,”[5] and she proclaims of herself, “I am Infinite Space, and the Infinite Stars thereof.”[6] Hadit is very abstract: he “hath no Nature of His own, for He is that to which all Events occur,”[7] and he is “any point which has experience of these possibilities.”[8] The universe is then understood to be made up of the complements similar to Matter and Motion, Space and Time, but understood under the symbolic figures of Nuit and Hadit, etc. In this way, we can see that Thelema posits a universe much like our own understandings (e.g. the space-time continuum) yet adds a symbolic and almost personal dimension to these ideas. Further, Liber AL has presented a symbol set for the subconscious to work with.

“The manifested Universe comes from the marriage of Nuit and Hadit; without this could no thing be. This eternal, this perpetual marriage-feast is then the nature of things themselves; and therefore everything that is, is a crystallization of divine ecstasy.”[9] The first fact of life for the Thelemite is then that all things are understood under the symbol figure of a coition or ‘perpetual marriage-feast’ of these two ideas of “Infinite Space” (Nuit) and that which experiences these possibilities (Hadit); therefore life itself is understood as “a crystallization of divine ecstasy.” These are the first evidences that Thelema, as expressed in Liber AL vel Legis, puts forward a new psychological point-of-view of joy, a subject that will be touched upon in greater depth in a later section.

Essentially, a sort of dichotomy has been established: the Perceiver-of-events, having no qualities in itself, is called Hadit and All-events-that-can-be-perceived, the Field of perception, is Nuit – a perfectly acceptable model for understanding the world psychologically. This echoes a similar statement made in the Hindu Bhagavad Gita: “Whatever exists… animate or inanimate, is born through the union of the field and its Knower.”[10] It also is remarkably similar to the ideas of the psychologist Carl Rogers[11] who described his “client-centered therapy” in 1951, four years after Aleister Crowley's death. Rogers delineated nineteen propositions that describe his system of therapy, and the very first proposition is:

“All individuals (organisms) exist in a continually changing world of experience (phenomenal field) of which they are the centre.” [12]

The individual point-of-view, Hadit, exists in a continually changing phenomenal field, Nuit, of which he/she is the centre, just as was seen above. Rogers claims in the seventh proposition, “The best vantage point for understanding behaviour is from the internal frame of reference of the individual.”[13] These are the first instances of Liber AL vel Legis anticipating various psychological models.

- References -

[1]“Had! The manifestation of Nuit.” (AL I:1) & “Nu! The hiding of Hadit.” (AL II:1)

[2] the same person who also believed that the world was made up specifically of fire, water, air, and earth

[3] Crowley, Aleister. “Liber DCCCXXXVII: The Law of Liberty”

[4] Crowley, Aleister. “Djeridensis Working,” I:1

[5] Crowley, Aleister. Introduction to Liber AL vel Legis, part II

[6] Crowley, Aleister. Liber AL vel Legis, I:22

[7] Crowley, Aleister. “Djeridensis Working,” II:2

[8] Crowley, Aleister. Introduction to Liber AL vel Legis, part II

[9] Crowley, Aleister. “Liber DCCCXXXVII: The Law of Liberty” from Equinox III(1)

[10] trans. by Easwaran, Eknath. Bhagavad Gita, ch.13 verse 26

[11] Carl Rogers (1902-1987) was one of the founders of the “humanistic” approach to psychology, he was one of the founders of psychotherapy research, he was the founder of the person-centered approach to therapy, and he was awarded by the American Psychological Association (of which he was the 55th president in 1947) with the Award for Distinguished Scientific Contributions in 1952 and the Award for Distinguished Professional Contributions to Psychology in 1972.

[12] Rogers, Carl. Client-Centred Therapy, ch.11

[13] Ibid.

Each person as a star

"The really valuable thing in the pageant of human life seems to me not the State but the creative, sentient individual, the personality; it alone creates the noble and the sublime, while the herd as such remains dull in thought and dull in feeling." -Albert Einstein, Mein Weltbild (1931)

After the proclamations of Nuit and Hadit, there comes one of the most important statements to Thelema in the third line of Liber AL:

“Every man and every woman is a star.”[1]

By this is meant that “we are all free, all independent, all shining gloriously, each one a radiant world”[2] and further that “the Individual is the Autarch.”[3] In the same sense that the sun, as a star, is center of the solar system in the physical macrocosm, every man and every woman is understood to be a sort of microcosmic star and center of his or her own system. “A star is an individual identity; it radiates energy, it goes, it is a point of view. Its object is to become the whole by establishing relations with other stars. Each such relation is an Event: it is an act of Love under Will”[4] - Each individual is “an aggregate of such experiences, constantly changing with each fresh event, which affects him or her either consciously or subconsciously.”[5] Certainly, from a psychological standpoint, it can be easily understood that we are all centers of our own universe[6] and also ‘aggregates of experience’ as our own memories show. Further, stars are self-luminous implying that we derive power and strength from within ourselves and not an outside source (explained in depth later), and also stars are constantly in motion interacting with the infinite gravitational pulls of the infinite other stars and systems.

Thelema posits that Hadit is “the flame that burns in every heart of man, and in the core of every star.”[7] Crowley writes “He is then your own inmost divine self; it is you, and not another, who are lost in the constant rapture of the embraces of Infinite Beauty.”[8] In fact, Nuit tells us “Be thou Hadit, my secret centre, my heart & my tongue!”[9] showing that we are intimately interconnected with divinity, mirroring the general Eastern sentiment of the soul’s link to God and the sentiment seen in the West in mystics like Meister Eckhart and Miguel de Molinos:

"Thou art to know, that thy Soul is the Center, Habitation, and the Kingdom of God.”[10]

In a word, by saying “every man and every woman is a star,” we assert both the individual’s sovereignty and their divinity. Just as physical stars each have their unique course in the span of space, each individual is understood to have their own unique Will. In fact, “Thelema” itself means “Will” and this is the foundation of the entire philosophy of Thelema. It is said:

“Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.”[11]
“There is no law beyond Do what thou wilt.”[12]

These two statements clearly establish that everything in Thelema revolves around the dictum of “do what thou wilt.” As Crowley often noted, this does not mean, “do what you like” but is a command to perform one’s “true” or “pure will” and nothing else. Liber AL proclaims, “Thou hast no right but to do thy will. Do that, and no other shall say nay.”[13] Now we can see the general point-of-view of existence formulated in Thelema: each individual is considered as a “star” whose sole right or duty is to perform their Will. In the core of this star is Hadit and about the star are the infinite space & possibilities of Nuit. We have established that each individual is at the center of his or her own universe, a “secret centre, heart, & tongue”[14] of the divine, each performing their unique Will amidst Nuit, Infinite Space.

- References -

[1] Crowley, Aleister. Liber AL vel Legis, I:3

[2] Crowley, Aleister. “Liber DCCCXXXVII: The Law of Liberty” from Equinox III(1)

[3] Crowley, Aleister. Magick Without Tears, ch.48

[4] Crowley, Aleister. “The Antecedents of Thelema” from The Revival of Magick

[5] Crowley, Aleister. Introduction to Liber AL vel Legis, part II

[6] This also attests to the universal import of mandala-like art pieces across cultures, for they are all expressions of that central point of consciousness and the apparent unfolding and expression of the psyche & universe around it. This was a subject of study for Carl Jung.

[7] Crowley, Aleister. Liber AL vel Legis. II:6

[8] Crowley, Aleister. “The Law of Liberty”

[9] Crowley, Aleister. Liber AL vel Legis. I:6

[10] Miguel de Molinos, Spiritual Guide of Miguel de Molinos (1685), ch.1 verse 1

[11] Crowley, Aleister. Liber AL vel Legis, I:40

[12] Ibid, III:60

[13] Ibid, I:42-43

[14] Ibid, I:6

Modus operandi of the Thelemite

Since the Will is considered absolutely paramount in Thelema, we must understand how a Thelemite is supposed to “Will” things. Liber AL asserts something distinguished as “pure will” and explains its conditions:

“For pure will, unassuaged of purpose, delivered from the lust of result, is every way perfect.”[1]

Therefore, for will to be considered “pure” and “every way perfect” by the conditions set forth in Liber AL, it must be

1) "unassuaged of purpose" and
2) "delivered from the lust of result"
The first consideration of “unassuaged of purpose” has two meanings to be considered. The first is the more obvious, which is that will is impeded or weakened by “purpose” and it is meant to go on its way unrestricted by these notions of “purpose.” The mind and reason are generally an obstacle to the full expression of a person’s Will in many ways and this idea is treated in a later section more fully. The next consideration is simply that it means “with purpose unassuaged” or “with tireless energy.”

Secondly, to be “delivered from the lust of result” means to be unaffected by or unattached to the results of one’s actions. This doctrine is a central tenet to the Eastern system of karma yoga where it is generally called “non-attachment to the fruits of action.” It might also be said that it is known to the West under the aphorism of “Art for art’s sake.” The Bhagavad Gita succinctly describes this doctrine of being “delivered from the lust of result” when it says,

“Those whose consciousness is unified abandon all attachment to the results of action and attain supreme peace. But those whose desires are fragmented, who are selfishly attached to the results of their work, are bound in everything they do. Those who renounce attachment in all their deeds live content in the ‘city of nine gates,’ the body, as its master.”[2]

Essentially, this line from Liber AL vel Legis means that to perform our “pure will” which “is every way perfect,” we must do our will with tireless energy, without regard to purpose, and without concern for results. Crowley wrote, “Thou must (1) Find out what is thy Will. (2) Do that Will with a) one-pointedness, (b) detachment, (c) peace. Then, and then only, art thou in harmony with the Movement of Things, thy will part of, and therefore equal to, the Will of God. And since the will is but the dynamic aspect of the self, and since two different selves could not possess identical wills; then, if thy will be God's will, Thou art That.”[3]

In Liber AL vel Legis, Nuit declares, “Invoke me under my stars! Love is the law, love under will.”[4] Crowley explains that this means “while Will is the Law, the nature of that Will is Love. But this Love is as it were a by-product of that Will; it does not contradict or supersede that Will; and if apparent contradiction should arise in any crisis, it is the Will that will guide us aright.” Therefore the method or modus operandi of Thelema is “love under will,” which means the assimilation of experience in accordance with one’s Will.[5]

It must be recognized that “Love” in the context of Thelema and Liber AL vel Legis is understood in a very universal way. It is not what most would consider the emotion of love or kindheartedness. Crowley writes, “Lo, while in The Book of the Law is much of Love, there is no word of Sentimentality. Hate itself is almost like Love!”[6] for even hate is an experience worthy of our assimilation and integration. Instead, it essentially refers to all acts whatsoever, any “Change in conformity with Will,” for all actions are lawful and necessary. Crowley explains “Every event is a uniting of some one monad with one of the experiences possible to it,”[7] and further that “Each action or motion is an act of love, the uniting with one or another part of "Nuit"; each such act must be 'under will,' chosen so as to fulfill and not to thwart the true nature of the being concerned.”[8] Therefore, while “love” may refer specifically to acts of “union” (in the sense that sex is union on the physical plane, and samadhi[9] is union on the mental plane) all experiences are understood as acts of “love” in the more universe sense that “every event is a uniting of some one monad with one of the experiences possible to it,” including acts of what may be perceived to be acts of “division.”
Now we can understand that “there is no law beyond Do what thou wilt,”[10] and “love under will” is essentially the assimilation of experience in accordance with the nature of the individual. The conception mirrors Carl Roger’s propositions which are the assertions underlying his system of “client-centered therapy.” He writes as his sixth proposition,

“The organism has one basic tendency and striving - to actualize, maintain and enhance the experiencing organism.”[11]

These acts of “actualiz[ing], maintain[ing] and enhanc[ing] the experiencing organism” are what Thelema terms acts of “love.” The one condition that is important from the standpoint of Liber AL vel Legis is that acts of “love” must be done “under will,” or in accordance with the nature of the particular circumstance and the individual (or the “organism” if we are to use Rogerian terminology). An act of “love under will” performed properly is what Carl Rogers would term “psychological adjustment” as opposed to “psychological maladjustment.” Rogers writes as his fourteenth and fifteenth propositions:

“Psychological adjustment exists when the concept of the self is such that all the sensory and visceral experiences of the organism are, or may be, assimilated on a symbolic level into a consistent relationship with the concept of self.
Psychological maladjustment exists when the organism denies awareness of significant sensory and visceral experiences, which consequently are not symbolized and organized into the gestalt of the self structure. When this situation exists, there is a basic or potential psychological tension.”[12]

“Psychological adjustment” consists in proper “assimilation” of experiences being equivalent to the “love under will” method of Thelema, whereas “psychological maladjustment” consists of the improper “assimilation” of experience, which creates “psychological tension.” Essentially, we can see that Thelema coincides with, and in a certain fashion anticipated, the Rogerian “propositions” that form the basis of his “client-centered therapy.”

* * *

"All love is expansion, all selfishness is contraction. / Love is therefore the only law of life. / He who loves lives, he who is selfish is dying. / Therefore love for love's sake, / because it is law of life, just as you breathe to live." -Swami Vivekananda

* * *

- References -

[1] Ibid, I:44

[2] trans. by Easwaran, Eknath. Bhagavad Gita, chapter 5, verse 12-13

[3] Crowley, Aleister. “Liber II: Message of the Master Therion” from Equinox III(1)

[4] Crowley. Aleister. Liber AL vel Legis, I:57

[5] This harkens back to the Christian mystic Meister Eckhart who wrote, “The place where love has its being is only in the will; the person who has more will, also has more love. But no one knows about anyone else, whether one has more of it; that lies hidden in the soul, so long as God lies hidden in the soul's ground. This love lies wholly in the will; whoever has more will, also has more love.” -Counsels on Discernment (Counsel 10)

[6] Crowley, Aleister. “Liber II: Message of the Master Therion” from Equinox III(1)

[7] Crowley, Aleister. Introduction to Liber AL vel Legis, part II

[8] Ibid, part III

[9] “Samadhi” is the Hindu term used n the practice of yoga for the psychological phenomena of the disappearance of subject and object known in various forms under different names in various cultures. This subject is too extensive to go into depth in this essay.

[10] Crowley, Aleister. Liber AL vel Legis III:60

[11] Rogers, Carl. Client-Centred Therapy, ch.11

[12] Ibid.

The notion of sin abolished

"The formula of this law is: Do what thou wilt. Its moral aspect is simple enough in theory. Do what thou wilt does not mean Do as you please, although it implies this degree of emancipation, that it is no longer possible to say a priori that a given action is "wrong." Each man has the right – and an absolute right – to accomplish his True Will." -Aleister Crowley, "The Method of Thelema"

In Thelema, one is enjoined to “Do what thou wilt,” and we have seen above that this Will, if it is to be considered as “pure” and “perfect,” must be performed with tireless energy, without regard to purpose, and without concern for results. One other diversion or veil from the “pure will” is conventionality morality and especially notion of “sin.” In Judeo-Christian-Islamic terms, the world is generally viewed in terms of good and evil, with “good” actions being those that adhere to the specific laws set forth in whatever book is held holy and “evil” being the turning away from such laws. Thelema is a philosophy or a point-of-view that Nietzsche would have termed to be “beyond good and evil.” The only restriction in Thelema is to restrict or be diverted from one’s Will. In fact, the line right after the aphorism “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law” is this:

“The word of Sin is Restriction.”[1]

Crowley explains this succinctly, saying that this “is a general statement or definition of Sin or Error. Anything soever that binds the will, hinders it, or diverts it, is Sin.”[2] Here is a completely new view of ethics wherein the only “evil” is to divert from oneself, or more accurately, from one’s will.

Psychologically, when one deviates from one’s true inner promptings, a conflict arises which is generally known as “neurosis.” Carl Jung defines nervous disorders a “consist[ing] primarily in an alienation from one’s instincts, a splitting off of consciousness from certain basic facts of the psyche.”[3] Generally, when a action, thought, or tendency arises within someone that is contrary to their society’s (or religion’s) current view of what is “right” (Freud’s “superego”), the psyche tends to suppress and prevent those unlikable aspects from appearing to the conscious mind. Although these thoughts (e.g. to a Christian, the thought of performing a homosexual act) may not appear consciously to the person as much, the same exact tendency still lies within the subconscious and still exerts its influence. This suppression of a natural tendency to bring it into line with societal expectations of conduct is the basis of psychological “repression.” In Thelema, these repressions are understood for what they are: repressions of the natural inclinations of an individual. Therefore, if the sole law is to do one’s will, artificially repressing aspects of oneself leads to a disastrous split in one’s psyche, and hence, their will. One is deviating from one’s will when one is creating a fundamental split in oneself – creating ‘multiple wills’ that diverge and conflict – which is fundamentally a split of the conscious (with its many arbitrary notions of “right and wrong”) from the unconscious and instinctual. Thelema recognizes that all deviations from this unique Will, including all repressions of the natural instinct to conform to artificial notions of moral conduct, will lead to repression, which leads inevitably to neurosis. Crowley wrote, “Thelemites are 'thrice-born;'[4] we accept everything for what it is, without 'lust of result,' without insisting upon things conforming with a priori ideals, or regretting their failure to do so. We can therefore 'enjoy' all things of sense and rapture' according to their true nature.”[5]

One of the most evident applications of this dictum that “the word of Sin is Restriction” is in relation to sex morality. Every religion has undoubtedly had innumerable restrictions upon sexual life, especially for women. Liber AL vel Legis proclaims that, not only is “every man and every woman… a star”[6] showing their essential equality, but further, it is written to “take your fill and will of love as ye will, when, where and with whom ye will!”[7] This line is strangely prophetic of the Sexual Revolution that took place in the late 1960s, over half a century after the writing of Liber AL vel Legis, and also the groundbreaking research on sex by Alfred Kinsey in the 1940s. There are no restrictions even as to relationships of love that may be considered to be expressions homosexuality, masochism, or sodomy, for from the point-of-view of the Thelemite, a thing is “wrong” only insofar as it has brought one to deviate from one’s own will. “We have no right to interfere with any type of manifestation of the sexual impulse on a priori grounds.”[8]

Crowley writes, “‘Love under will’ is the Law. We refuse to regard love as shameful and degrading, as a peril to body and soul. We refuse to accept it as the surrender of the divine to the animal; to us it is the means by which the animal may be made the Winged Sphinx which shall bear man aloft to the House of the Gods.”[9] The sexual instinct was repressed without mercy in the religions of the past and was often decried as animalistic or sinful. Thelema turns this idea on its head by saying not only is sex not shameful or degrading, it is the natural function of a human and if it is in accordance with their own will they should express it (not in accordance with some a priori rule-set).

Crowley summarizes all these sentiments when he proclaims, “It should be abundantly clear from the foregoing remarks that each individual has an absolute and indefeasible right to use his sexual vehicle in accordance with its own proper character, and that he is responsible only to himself.”[10] Psychologically, this is a healthy route to take, for “Sex-repression leads to neurosis, and is the cause of social unrest.”[11] Alfred Kinsey found in his research on sexuality that “Sexual desire is a basic, biological urge, drive, or instinct which demands satisfaction,” “if the (male) sexual drive is denied legitimate outlets, it will find satisfaction in illegitimate ones” (i.e. rape, sexual abuse of children, etc.), “repression of sexual desire may lead to physical or mental illness, especially ‘neurosis’ in women,” and “the need for sex is as basic as the need for food.”[12] In this light, it seems Thelema has given us an adequate framework to act without fear of “physical or mental illness” because of our sexual inclinations.

Essentially, by proclaiming “the word of Sin is Restriction,” Liber AL vel Legis says that all restriction or repression of the will is the only “evil” or “sin.”[13] We know that “Repression of the natural satisfaction may result in addition to secret and dangerous vices which destroy their victim because they are artificial and unnatural aberrations.”[14] The idea of restriction extends obviously beyond that of sex morality, but it has clear and obvious repercussions upon it and therefore it was necessary to go into this specific aspect in detail.

Truly, the dictums of “Do what thou wilt” and “the word of Sin is Restriction” apply to all morality in general. The quotation that begins this chapter succinctly explains this in simple terms that “it is no longer possible to say a priori that a given action is ‘wrong.’ Each man has the right-and an absolute right-to accomplish his True Will.” Crowley further writes that, “There are no ‘standards of Right’. Ethics is balderdash. Each Star must go on its own orbit. To hell with ‘moral principle’; there is no such thing.”[15] In this sense, Thelema has shown there is no such thing as an absolute standard of right and wrong; there is only a relative standard of right and wrong in relation with each person’s unique nature and circumstance – their unique Will.

“In reality, good and evil are not different from each other. ‘Good’ and ‘bad’ are merely conventional terms. Depending on how it is used, the same thing can be ‘good’ or ‘bad.’ Take, for example, this lamplight. Because of its burning we are able to see and do various works of utility; this is one mode of using the light. Now, if you put your fingers in it, they will be burnt; that is another mode of using the same light. So it is clear that a thing becomes good or bad according to the way we use it. The same is the case with virtue and vice. Broadly speaking, the proper use of any of the faculties of our mind and body is virtue, and their improper use is vice.” -Swami Vivekananda[16]

* * *

- References -

[1] Crowley, Aleister. Liber AL vel Legis, I:41

[2] Crowley, Aleister. The Law is For All, I:41

[3] Jung, Carl. “The Soul and Death” from Collected Works of C.G. Jung volume 8: The Struture and Dynamics of the Psyche, par. 808

[4] A reference to the Thelemite’s transcending of the categories of ‘once-born’ and ‘twice-born’ as elucidated by William James in his book The Varieties of Religious Experience

[5] Crowley, Aleister. The Law is For All, II:22

[6] Crowley, Aleister. Liber AL vel Legis, I:3

[7] Crowley, Aleister. Liber AL vel Legis, I:51

[8] Crowley, Aleister. The Law is For All, I:51

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Crowley, Aleister. The Law is For All, II:52

[12] Cablan, Pat & Caplan, Patricia. The Cultural Construction of Sexuality, p.72

[13] Though, it should be noted that in Thelema, the notion of “sin” can never nearly approach that of the Christian or Muslim’s for there is no notion of Original Sin nor of an eternal Judge of our actions.

[14] Crowley, Aleister. The Law is For All, I:51

[15] Crowley, Aleister. The Law is For All, AL II:28

[16] Vivekananda, Swami. Conversation: Saturday, January 23, 1898. Recorded in Bengali by Surendra Nath Sen in his private diary. Complete Works, 5: 337

Curse against reason

Aside from the Will being beyond rest, purpose, attachment to results, and morality, it also transcends reason and the mind in general in an important sense. In the normal functioning of daily life, the mind and reason often play integral parts; Thelema does not deny the usefulness of the mind and reason but seeks to put it in its right place. In the West, reason has held a central position in philosophy at least since Socrates. Reason was thought to be the only way to ascertain truth, and at times reason was often equated with God himself.[1] The first major check to the dominance of reason in the Western mind came from Kant when he published his Critique of Pure Reason and demonstrated its various limits. This sort of check to the dominance of reason over one’s actions is echoed in Liber AL vel Legis. Essentially, the dominance and control of the mind, especially the reason, over the individual’s Will is brought into question. Liber AL vel Legis itself says,

"There is great danger in me; for who doth not understand these runes shall make a great miss. He shall fall down into the pit called Because, and there he shall perish with the dogs of Reason. Now a curse upon Because and his kin! May Because be accursed for ever! If Will stops and cries Why, invoking Because, then Will stops & does nought. If Power asks why, then is Power weakness. Also reason is a lie; for there is a factor infinite & unknown; & all their words are skew-wise."[2]

Once again we must emphasize that Thelema is not denying the practical necessity of reason, but attempts to delineate its boundaries for the most effective functioning of the Will. On this Crowley writes, “We must not suppose for an instant that the Book of the Law is opposed to reason. On the contrary, its own claim to authority rests upon reason, and nothing else. It disdains the arts of the orator. It makes reason the autocrat of the mind. But that very fact emphasizes that the mind should attend to its own business. It should not transgress its limits. It should be a perfect machine, an apparatus for representing the universe accurately and impartially to its master. The Self, its Will, and its Apprehension, should be utterly beyond it.”[3]

First, “Because,” “Reason,” and “Why,” are all attacked under the form of a cursing by the speaker of the book. If one asks “why” one should will something or if it is because of something, it cripples the Will and makes “Power weakness.” It was seen in an earlier chapter that if will is considered to be “perfect in every way,” it must continue going or working without regard to purpose. In this way, the Will will be “unassuaged.” Crowley writes, “There is no 'reason' why a Star should continue in its orbit. Let her rip!”[4] and also, “It is ridiculous to ask a dog why it barks. One must fulfill one's true Nature, one must do one's Will. To question this is to destroy confidence, and so to create an inhibition.”[5] These considerations of purpose are understood now to cause the “Will to stop & do nought,” essentially making it impotent. Therefore, the very nature of our actions is not decided by conscious reason but is to be decided by the Will. The “reason is a lie” because of a “factor infinite & unknown., which Crowley clearly states “is the subconscious Will.”[6] The subconscious naturally cannot be completely understood by the conscious mind, the sphere of reason, so therefore reason’s “words are skew-wise.” It can never delineate the true Will in words because of the subconscious Will, a factor that is by definition “unknown” or below the conscious level of perception. The Will therefore can certainly not be coterminous with “will power” or “volition,” for the Will must encompass the subconscious aspect of one’s self as well. Crowley affirms this doctrine when he writes, “every time the conscious acts, it interferes with the Subconscious... It is the voice of Man, and not of a God. Any man who 'listens to reason' ceases to be a revolutionary.”[7] Here Crowley makes the subconscious analogous to “the voice of… a God,” for the depths of the unconscious contents contain latent potencies that seem God-like when awakened and assimilated. Crowley explains Liber AL’s position on reason succinctly:

“We now come to a challenge which is in some ways even more daring than any yet made. Before, the moral sense of men was outraged. He now turns to attack the Reason itself. He looks on reason as a soulless machine. Its proper function is to express the Will in terms of conscious thought, the will being the need of the inmost self to express itself by causing some Event.” [8]

This is the summary of Liber AL vel Legis’ point-of-view of the correct use of reason. Here we see that reason is “a soulless machine” in that the actual self is not in reason, but merely utilizes it as a machine for expression. Essentially, the proper function of reason is to express the Will in terms of conscious thought but not dictate its actions, for that would cause the Will to “stop & do nought.” The idea behind this is that reason cannot fully comprehend and execute the demands of the Will because “This will (as such) is not conscious. We can only become aware of it, and thus enjoy and learn from the Event, by making an Image of it. Reason is the machine whose function it is to do this. When reason usurps the higher functions of the mind, when it presumes to dictate to the Will what its desires ought to be, it wrecks the entire structure of the star. The Self should set the Will in motion, that is, the Will should only take its orders from within and above.” [9] Jung echoes this exact sentiment when he says, “The intellect does indeed do harm to the soul when it dares to possess itself of the heritage of the spirit. It is in no way fitted to do this, for spirit is something higher than intellect since it embraces the latter and includes the feelings as well.”[10] The Self that Jung equates with “spirit” in this quotation includes both conscious and unconscious contents and therefore its actions should not be delineated by reason, a construct of merely the conscious aspect of his being.

One could say that the overuse of reason has caused a split in modern man’s psyche, detaching him/her from the subconscious sphere of the psyche. Carl Jung defines nervous disorders a “consist[ing] primarily in an alienation from one’s instincts, a splitting off of consciousness from certain basic facts of the psyche.” This overextension of reason’s boundaries in our Western society has caused “a splitting off of consciousness” from the basic facts of the subconscious. Jung continues, “Rationalistic opinions come unexpectedly close to neurotic symptoms. Like these, they consist of distorted thinking, which takes the place of psychologically correct thinking. The latter kind of thinking always retains its connection with the heart, with the depths of the psyche, the tap-root.”[11] Here he identifies “psychologically correct thinking” as that “kind of thinking [which] always retains its connection… with the depths of the psyche, tap-root.” 87This “psychologically correct thinking” is exactly the same notion that is implied in Liber AL’s curses against the intellect and reason. The thinking which takes its directives from the Will is “psychologically correct” whereas reason delineating boundaries itself will cause the Will to “fall into the pit called Because” and become impotent.

While commenting on one of Jung’s works, Stephan Hoeller writes, "Thinking, the function of reason, has many commendable uses and cannot be eliminated, but it also builds barriers between the personality and its unconscious matrix. In order to reach the necessary transformative self-knowledge, one needs to keep the thinking function subservient to the inspiration proceeding from the Self."[12] Once again the same doctrine is expounded. “The inspiration proceeding from the Self,” which contains both the conscious and unconscious, is the Will of the individual and therefore to this the thinking function must remain subservient. If it does not, it will “build barriers between the personality [conscious self] and its unconscious matrix,” to do so would create a conflict in the Will and it will “perish with the dogs of Reason.”

* * *

"If the Sun and Moon should ever doubt, they'd immediately go out." -William Blake

- References -

[1] The logos of the Gospel of John ch.1 refers to the Word of God but is sometimes translated as “Reason.”

[2] Crowley, Aleister. Liber AL vel Legis, II:27-32

[3] Crowley, Aleister. The Law is For All, II:28

[4] Ibid, II:30

[5] Ibid, II:31

[6] Ibid, II:30

[7] Ibid.

[8] Crowley, Aleister. “Djeridensis Working,” II:28-31

[9] Ibid.

[10] Jung, Carl. “Psychological Commentary on The Secret of the Golden Flower” par.7

[11] Jung, Carl. “The Soul and Death” from Collected Works of C.G. Jung volume 8: The Struture and Dynamics of the Psyche, par. 808

[12] Stephan A. Hoeller, The Gnostic Jung, p.76

Individuation and the true Will

In the previous chapter it was seen how the mind inhibits the full expression of the Will. The “factor infinite & unknown” is the “Subconscious Will,” and therefore if we can clear away the thought-complexes that prevent this Will from manifesting we will come to know our Will. This process by which we come to know and do our Will is called in some places “the Great Work.” Crowley explains this Great Work of coming to know one’s True Will concisely when he writes,

“We are not to regard ourselves as base beings, without whose sphere is Light or 'God.' Our minds and bodies are veils of the Light within. The uninitiate is a 'Dark Star,' and the Great Work for him is to make his veils transparent by 'purifying' them. This 'purification' is really 'simplification'; it is not that the veil is dirty, but that the complexity of its folds makes it opaque. The Great Work therefore consists principally in the solution of complexes. Everything in itself is perfect, but when things are muddled, they become 'evil.'”[1]

This process of the Great Work that “consists principally in the solution of complexes” is also coterminous with a phrase Crowley often used: Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel. He asserts this identity as clearly as possible when he writes, “this Great Work is the Attainment of the Knowledge and Conversation of thine Holy Guardian Angel.”[2] The process by which we come to know and do our Will is the solution of complexes inhibiting the free and natural flow of the Will. The Great Work is simply a clearing away of the inhibitions of the conscious self to allow the true Self, which contains both conscious and subconscious elements, free reign to do as it Wills. The theory is that if we are only able to “cleanse the doors of perception,” we will be allowed to manifest our pure Wills effectively. Crowley writes, “Our own Silent Self, helpless and witless, hidden within us, will spring forth, if we have craft to loose him to the Light, spring lustily forward with his cry of Battle, the Word of our True Wills. This is the Task of the Adept, to have the Knowledge and Conversation of His Holy Guardian Angel, to become aware of his nature and his purpose, fulfilling them.”[3] Here Crowley not only makes Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel analogous to becoming aware of and fulfilling one’s nature and purpose, but admits that all we need is the “craft to loose” this “Silent Self” and then naturally the “Word of our True Wills” will “spring lustily forward."

The various forms of Horus found in Liber AL vel Legis (Ra-Hoor-Khuit, Hoor-paar-kraat, Heru-pa-kraath, Heru-ra-ha, etc.)[4] represent a symbolic expression of the “Silent” or “True Self” and so also a symbol of the Holy Guardian Angel. Horus is therefore an archetypal expression of the Self to which all aspire to unite or identify with in “the Great Work.” This is spoken of in Liber AL when Horus, the speaker of the third chapter, says, "To Me do ye reverence! to me come ye through tribulation of ordeal, which is bliss."[5] Crowley explains, “We have seen that Ra-Hoor-Khuit is in one sense the Silent Self in a man, a Name of his Khabs, not so impersonal as Hadit, but the first and least untrue formulation of the Ego. We are to revere this self in us, then, not to suppress it and subordinate it. Nor are we to evade it, but to come to it. This is done ‘through tribulation of ordeal.’ This tribulation is that experienced in the process called Psychoanalysis, now that official science has adopted -- so far as its inferior intelligence permits -- the methods of the magus. But the 'ordeal' is 'bliss'; the solution of each complex by 'tribulation' …is the spasm of joy which is the physiological and psychological accompaniment of any relief from strain and congestion.”[6] Crowley identifies Horus as a symbolic expression of the Self whose Will must not be suppressed, subordinated, or evaded. The more surprising of the statements by Crowley is that he claims the “tribulation of ordeal” of the Great Work is coterminous with Psychoanalysis, a direct connection again between psychology and Thelema. With this we can see that the process of psychoanalysis is analogous to “the Great Work” and “Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel;” it is a realization of the true Self.

Carl Jung deemed this same process “individuation.” He defines individuation as “becoming an ‘in-dividual,’ and in so far as ‘individuality’ embraces our innermost, last, and incomparable uniqueness, it also implies becoming one’s own self. We could therefore translate individuation as ‘coming to selfhood’ or ‘self-realization…’ Egotists are called ‘selfish,’ but this, naturally, has nothing to do with the concept of ‘self’ as I am using it here… Individuation, therefore, can only mean a process of psychological development that fulfils the individual qualities given; in other words, it is a process by which a man becomes the definite, unique being he in fact is. In so doing he does not become ‘selfish’ in the ordinary sense of the word, but is merely fulfilling the peculiarity of his nature, and this… is vastly different from egotism or individualism.”[7] Jung here asserts that individuation is a “self-realization,” but makes sure to qualify this statement by saying this does not mean a strengthening of the ego-self. This Self that is realized is beyond the normal egocentric notion of “self;” it instead contains both the conscious (where the ego resides) and the unconscious factors. Jung explains that, “conscious and unconscious are not necessarily in opposition to one another, but complement on another to form a totality, which is the self.”[8] This is the self that one comes to “through tribulation of ordeal.” Horus is a symbol of that Self in Liber AL vel Legis, and in other places the Holy Guardian Angel is mentioned as that symbol. Crowley writes, “the Angel [is] the True Self of his subconscious self, the hidden Life of his physical life” and “his Angel is the Unity which expresses the sum of the Elements of that Self,”[9] an almost exact parallel of Jung’s definition of the “self.”[10]

As asserted before by Crowley, this process of individuation or “The Great Work… consists principally in the solution of complexes,” and is simply the becoming aware of and fulfilling of one’s nature. Through this Great Work of individuation, one comes to identify with this Self; In Thelema, one does such under the figure of Horus.[11] One comes to know that “he [or she] is Harpocrates, the Child Horus, walking (as saith David, the Badawi that became King, in his Psalms) upon the Lion and the Dragon; that is, he is in Unity with his own Secret Nature.”[12]

One might even assert that the Great Work is a natural process of the human psyche. Carl Jung says, “the driving force [of the unconscious], so far as it is possible for us to grasp it, seems to be in essence only an urge towards self-realization.”[13] In this sense, all humans are participating in the drama of the “Great Work,” each striving, consciously or unconsciously, toward that union of subconscious and conscious natures into the Self so that they may more fully accomplish their Wills.

- References -

[1] Crowley, Aleister. The Law is for All, I:8

[2] Crowley, Aleister. Liber Aleph, “De Gradibus ad Magnum Opus”

[3] Crowley, Aleister. The Law is for All, I:7

[4] It is interesting to note that Crowley says in his commentary to Liber AL, “The Fool is also the Great Fool, Bacchus Diphues, Harpocrates, the Dwarf-Self, the Holy Guardian Angel, and so forth,” essentially equating all the symbols. Further, he writes in his comment to Liber AL II:8, “Harpocrates is… the Dwarf-Soul, the Secret Self of every man, the Serpent with the Lion's Head.” If this is true, and if according to AL I:8 “Hoor-paar-kraat” (a name for Harpocrates) is taken to be the source of Liber AL vel Legis as the book itself proclaims, then Liber AL was indeed a manifestation of Crowley’s unconscious. The fact is that the unconscious contains “both knowledge and power” greater than the conscious mind, and therefore it is quite possible that Liber AL vel Legis is a manifestation thereof.

[5] Crowley, Aleister. Liber AL vel Legis, III:62

[6] Crowley, Aleister. The Law is for All, III:62

[7] Ibid, par.266-267

[8] Jung, Carl. “The Function of the Unconscious” from The Collected Works of C.G. Jung vol.7, par.274

[9] Crowley, Aleister. “Liber Samekh,” Point II, Section G

[10] From these considerations it will be seen that the Holy Guardian Angel is most certainly not an external being as some in the Thelemic community maintain. This is due most likely to one statement made by Crowley in Magick Without Tears, a treatise intended for complete beginners. One must understand that the subconscious can and does appear as autonomous to the conscious mind. Therefore, one can speak of the Angel as “outside” of oneself insofar as it seems to function autonomously from the conscious ego, but ultimately one comes to see that the Angel is in fact the summation of both the subconscious and conscious natures that make up the self.

[11] In an endnote to chapter 90 of Confessions of Aleister Crowley, Symonds writes about a statement Crowley made to a disciple Frank Bennett, “’I want to explain to you fully, and in a few words, what initiation means, and what is meant when we talk of the Real Self, and what the Real Self is.’ And there and then Crowley told him that it was all a matter of getting the subconscious mind to work; and when this subconscious mind was allowed full sway, without interference from the conscious mind, then illumination could be said to have begin; for the subconscious mind was our Holy Guardian Angel. Crowley illustrated the point thus: everything is experienced in the subconscious mind, and it (the subconscious) is constantly urging its will on consciousness, and when the inner desires are restricted or suppressed, evil of all kinds is the result.” Although this directly supports our conclusions we include it only in a footnote because it is a third-hand account.

[12] Crowley, Aleister. Liber Aleph, “De Gramine Sanctissimo Arabico”

[13] Ibid, par.291

Psychological model of failure

Thelema constructs a completely practical psychological system, and it is established among familiar physiological lines. In the body, if all is working harmoniously – if the body is healthy, that is – the consciousness continues to function undisturbed. It is only when there is a malady of some sort – a malfunction of an organ, the skin is pierced by a knife – that consciousness is disturbed and made aware of its functioning. In a physiological sense, the body conveniently notifies the consciousness of its trouble by issuing signals of pain. Liber AL vel Legis has applied this to the functioning of the psyche:

“Dost thou fail? Art thou sorry? Is fear in thine heart? Where I am these are not.” [1]

Crowley writes in his commentary to this line, “This verse brings out what is a fact in psychology, the necessary connection between fear, sorrow, and failure.”[2] In the same sense that the appearance of pain signals a certain failure of the harmonious functioning of the body, the appearance of sorrow and fear signal a certain failure in the harmonious functioning of the psyche. Crowley writes, “Sorrow, pain, regret, are symptoms of diseased thought; those only who have ceased to be able to adjust themselves rightly and gladly to all Change, and to grow thereby, or those who still react, but only feebly and vainly, take Sorrow, pain, and regret to be Real”[3] It is understood in Thelema that “existence is pure joy; that all the sorrows are but as shadows; they pass & are done; but there is that which remains.”[4]
In another “Thelemic holy book,” it is written, “Only if ye are sorrowful, or weary, or angry, or discomforted; then ye may know that ye have lost the golden thread, the thread wherewith I guide you to the heart of the groves of Eleusis.”[5] This reaffirms the notion that the appearance of sorrow, pain, regret, weariness, anger, and discomfort are all, just as they are in the physiological sense, signs of some error in the functioning of the psyche of the organism. Crowley affirms this once again when he writes, “sorrow thus appears as the result of any unsuccessful – therefore, ill-judged – struggle. Acquiescence in the order of Nature is the ultimate Wisdom.”[6]

This notion of sorrow appearing as an unsuccessful assimilation of experience parallels one of the propositions from Carl Rogers’ client-centered therapy. Earlier it was looked at how the Thelemic maxim of “love under will” is essentially the same concept as that of “psychological adjustment” from Carl Rogers’ nineteen propositions (the assumptions that underlie his client-centered therapy) – assimilation of experience in accordance with one’s self. Whenever this fails, there is what Carl Rogers called “psychological maladjustment.” He writes has as fifteenth and sixteenth propositions,

“Psychological maladjustment exists when the organism denies awareness of significant sensory and visceral experiences, which consequently are not symbolized and organized into the gestalt of the self structure. When this situation exists, there is a basic or potential psychological tension.

Any experience which is inconsistent with the organization of the structure of the self may be perceived as a threat, and the more of these perceptions there are, the more rigidly the self structure is organized to maintain itself.”

This “psychological tension” is the same “sorrow” that Crowley mentions, but applied specifically to the psyche (whereas “sorrow” can relate to body or mind). If experiences are not assimilated, they generate “psychological tension” and may also be “perceived as a threat” which causes the self-structure to become even more rigid and inadaptable, and therefore cause further unsuccessful acts of “love under will” or “psychological adjustment.”

Essentially, sorrow, pain, regret, fear, and one other psychological phenomenon – pity – are all signals of “failure” to perform an act of “love under will” properly – that is, assimilate an experience in a harmonious way.
In regards to pity, in the second chapter of Liber AL vel Legis it is written,“Pity not the fallen! I never knew them. I am not for them. I console not: I hate the consoled & the consoler”[7] and also in the third chapter it is written, “Mercy let be off; damn them who pity!”[8] Crowley comments on this saying, “It is several times shewn in this Book that 'falling' is in truth impossible. ‘All is ever as it was.’ To sympathize with the illusion is not only absurd, but tends to perpetuate the false idea. It is a mistake to 'spoil' a child, or humour a malade imaginaire. One must, on the contrary, chase away the shadows by lighting a fire, which fire is: Do what thou wilt!” Crowley asserts that pitying another is akin to “sympathiz[ing] with the illusion,” for it is said in Liber AL that “Existence is pure joy,” and “all the sorrows are but as shadows; they pass & are done; but there is that which remains."[9] One can only pity someone that is in a situation that one perceives to be “unfortunate,” but if one truly understands the dictum of “Existence is pure joy,” they know that even this pity is based on a false perception of things and therefore “sympathyz[ing] with the illusion.” This echoes the sentiments that Friedrich Nietzsche expressed when discussing Christianity as a religion of pity. He writes,

“Pity stands in opposition to all the tonic passions that augment the energy of the feeling of aliveness: it is a depressant. A man loses power when he pities. Through pity that drain upon strength which suffering works is multiplied a thousandfold. Suffering is made contagious by pity; under certain circumstances it may lead to a total sacrifice of life and living energy--a loss out of all proportion to the magnitude of the cause.” [10]

Nietzsche also identifies pity as the “contagious source” of even more of “that drain upon strength” than what normally is experienced from suffering or sorrow “multiplied a thousand fold.” He continues,

“Pity thwarts the whole law of evolution, which is the law of natural selection. It preserves whatever is ripe for destruction; it fights on the side of those disinherited and condemned by life; by maintaining life in so many of the botched of all kinds, it gives life itself a gloomy and dubious aspect. Mankind has ventured to call pity a virtue… Let me repeat: this depressing and contagious instinct stands against all those instincts which work for the preservation and enhancement of life: in the role of protector of the miserable, it is a prime agent in the promotion of decadence--pity persuades to extinction… Aristotle, as every one knows, saw in pity a sickly and dangerous state of mind, the remedy for which was an occasional purgative: he regarded tragedy as that purgative… Nothing is more unhealthy, amid all our unhealthy modernism, than Christian pity.” [11]

Pity not only causes more identification with the “shadows” of suffering, but it “preserves whatever is ripe for destruction” because it is a “contagious instinct [that] stands against all those instincts which for the preservation and enhancement of life” – something that one obviously should have to maintain physiological and psychological health.

Aside from these appearances of sorrow, pain, regret, fear, and pity being treated as signs of maladjustment – or “love” being performed not “under will” – there are also the considerations of sin and reason that are mentioned in previous chapters. The thought of oneself as sinful is obviously a misperception in Thelema, and reason must be kept in its rightful place as interpreter and helper of the Will, which must be performed with tireless energy, without regard to purpose, and unattached to any lust of result. Any diversion from this necessarily restricts the Will, and not only is “the word of Sin… Restriction,”[12] but “thou hast no right but to do thy will. Do that, and no other shall say nay.”[13]

* * *

“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.” [14]

[1] Crowley, Aleister. Liber AL vel Legis, II:46-47

[2] Crowley, Aleister. The Law is For All, II:46

[3] Crowley, Aleister. “Djeridensis Working,” II:17

[4] Crowley, Aleister. Liber AL vel Legis, II:9

[5] Crowley, Aleister. “Liber Tzaddi vel Hermeticus,” line 23

[6] Crowley, Aleister. The Law is For All, II:9

[7] Crowley, Aleister. Liber AL vel Legis, II:48

[8] Ibid, III:18

[9] Ibid, II:9

[10] Nietzsche, Frierich. The Antichrist, ch.7

[11] Ibid.

[12] Crowley, Aleister. Liber AL vel Legis, I:41

[13] Ibid, I:42-43

[14] Ibid, III:17

Life and death instincts

“I am the secret Serpent coiled about to spring: in my coiling there is joy. If I lift up my head, I and my Nuit are one. If I droop down mine head, and shoot forth venom, then is rapture of the earth, and I and the earth are one.” –Liber AL vel Legis II:26

In this verse we find Hadit comparing “himself” to “the secret Serpent coiled about to spring.” This symbol is obviously showing the vast potential stored within the self, like that contained within a coiled serpent, analogous to the unknowable power hidden in the recesses of each person’s unconscious.[1] From this position of coiling, Hadit either lifts up his head or droops down. These two actions are related to becoming one with Nuit and becoming one with the earth, respectively. Crowley writes in his commentary to this line that “The mystic Union is to be practised both with Spirit and with Matter” which are “two main types of the Orgia of Magick [causing Change in conformity with Will].” This shows that there are two fundamental actions to be taken or courses of the Will: return to the spirit, and immersion in matter.

Crowley says elsewhere that “Magick = the Will to Live” and “Mysticism = the Will to Die.”[2] This may bring to mind the theories of the life drive (termed eros) and death drive (termed thanatos) expounded by Sigmund Freud, the famous psychologist. Freud’s definition of the death drive being “an urge inherent in all organic life to restore an earlier state of things”[3] may be likened to the “union with Nuit” in which one’s consciousness “becomes one,” and his life instinct of eros may be seen to be analogous to the “rapture of the earth.”

Jung also posits two similar ideas in his pseudo-mystical treatise “Septem Sermones ad Mortuos.” He writes, “The world of the gods is made manifest in spirituality and in sexuality. The celestial ones appear in spirituality, the earthly in sexuality. Spirituality conceiveth and embraceth. It is womanlike and therefore we call it MATER COELESTIS, the celestial mother. Sexuality engendereth and createth. It is manlike, and therefore we call it PHALLOS, the earthly father. The sexuality of man is more of the earth, the sexuality of woman is more of the spirit.”[4] Here are two seemingly autonomous psychic functions in relation to the individual identified as “the celestial mother” - very much like lifting up of Hadit’s head to union with Nuit (who is often pictured as a star goddess) – and “the earthly father” which is obviously analogous to Hadit drooping his head to the earth. In Jungian psychology, it is understood that the individual’s psyche is bi-gendered in that it contains both masculine and feminine aspects, and in this case it should be understood that these

[Figure 1: The two courses of Will once Hadit is "coiled about to spring" – click here]

two things relate to “every man and every woman.” Jung continues: “Man shall distinguish himself both from spirituality and sexuality. He shall call spirituality Mother, and set her between heaven and earth. He shall call sexuality Phallos, and set him between himself and earth. For the Mother and the Phallos are super-human daemons which reveal the world ofthe gods.”[5] Here we have almost the same language being used as in Liber AL vel Legis. Once again we must remember “Psychology accordingly treats all metaphysical claims and assertions as mental phenomena, and regards them as statements about the mind and its structure that derive ultimately from certain unconscious dispositions.”[6] We can now understand that this line in Liber AL vel Legis that started this chapter refers to the two fundamental drives or two aspects of the Will.

I referred to these two “drives” or “psychological contents” as “seemingly autonomous psychic functions” above, and Jung writes that “man shall distinguish himself” from both of them, for they are most practically understood as autonomous functions. He then proclaims these words:

“Spirituality and sexuality are not your qualities, not things ye possess and contain. But they possess and contain you; for they are powerful daemons, manifestations of the gods, and are, therefore, things which reach beyond you, existing in themselves. No man hath a spirituality unto himself, or a sexuality unto himself. But he standeth under the law of spirituality and of sexuality. No man, therefore, escapeth these daemons.”[7]

This is a fundamentally important point. These actions or drives are not our qualities in the normal sense that we would normally think of something as part of ourselves, part of our personalities or mental structure, but they are understood as forces influencing our psyches. Our normal sense of self is the ego, which is informed by these two influencing drives, these two aspects of the Will, and - as we explored earlier – the Will of the individual is the guiding Law of life (“There is no law beyond” doing it)[8]

It should be remarked that no matter what Hadit “does” – if there is coiling, lifting of the head, drooping of the head – there is joy and rapture. Once again it is shown that, in all aspects, “Existence is pure joy.”[9]

- References -

[1] The connections between this symbol and the Hindu kundalini are also plainly apparent, but elaboration on this point not appropriate for this essay.

[2] Crowley, Aleister. “The Antecedents of Thelema.” Printed in The Revival of Magick

[3] Freud, Sigmund. Beyond the Pleasure Principle.

[4] Jung, Carl. “Septem Sermones ad Mortuos,” Sermo V

[5] Ibid.

[6] Jung, Carl. “Psychological Commentary on The Tibetan Book of the Great Liberation,” par. 760

[7] Ibid.

[8] A reference to Liber AL III:60, “There is no law beyond Do what thou wilt.”

[9] Crowley, Aleister. Liber AL vel Legis, II:9

A new perspective of death

A full psychological perspective must obviously take into account the many facets of life and it must also take into account the universal fact that all things are impermanent and eventually die. Thelema asserts a new perspective on this issue in that death is understood as climax to and fulfillment of life. Also, although currently psychologically and scientifically unverifiable, it is asserted that there is an indestructible element of the self that survives death and views death merely as another accretion of experience.

It has been explored earlier how fear is a sign of the failure of the harmonious functioning of the psyche. Death is possibly the most universally feared idea, and in this sense, it is necessary to dispel our misperceptions about it. In Thelema, it is understood that “Existence is pure joy,”[1] but not only is life joyous, death is as well. It is written in Liber AL vel Legis:

“A feast for life and a greater feast for death!” [2]
“Write, & find ecstasy in writing! Work, & be our bed in working! Thrill with the joy of life & death! Ah! thy death shall be lovely: whoso seeth it shall be glad. Thy death shall be the seal of the promise of our age long love. Come! lift up thine heart & rejoice!” [3]

Here we have a statement that says we should not only have a feast for death, but one greater than the one for life. We are then told to thrill with the joy of both life and death. Death is considered as a ‘seal of the promise of our age long love’ and so one is bidden to ‘lift up thine heart & rejoice!’ Death being a seal implies that death is a sort of fulfillment of life. Jung writes about this, “we are so convinced that death is simply the end of a process that it does not ordinarily occur to us to conceive of death as a goal and a fulfillment as we do without hesitation the aims and purposes of youthful life in its ascendance.”[4] Liber AL vel Legis is obviously one exception as it does indeed assert the need to not only view death as a fulfillment, but as a time for rejoicing just as a new life is. Thelema affirms not only life but death also, and approaches it without fear. We are told “Fear not at all; fear neither men nor Fates, nor gods, nor anything,”[5] and in this way, a Thelemite accepts all facts of life with the same “love under will” and rejoicing.

Liber AL vel Legis itself says “death is the crown of all,”[6] and Crowley comments, “Death is the End that crowns the Work.”[7] Truly, a Thelemite is ready to accept death, for they are performing their Will with tireless energy, without regard to purpose, and most importantly, unattached from the lust of result; death will come at its proper moment while one is doing one’s will with detachment.[8] It is not something be fearful about, but instead, one must embrace both one’s life and one’s death. Jung writes, “Natural life is the nourishing soil of the soul. Anyone who fails to go along with life remains suspended, stiff and rigid in midair. That is why so many people get wooden in old age; they look back and cling to the past wit ha secret fear of death in their hearts. They withdraw from the life-process, at least psychologically, and consequently remain fixed like nostalgic pillars of salt, with vivid recollections of youth but no living relation to the present. From the middle of life onward, only he remains vitally alive who is ready to die with life. For in the secret hour of life’s midday the parabola is reversed, death is born. The second half of life does not signify ascent, unfolding, increase, exuberance, but death, since the end is its goal. The negation of life’s fulfillment is synonymous with the refusal to accept its ending.”[9] Thelema is certainly not a system that refuses to accept life’s ending, it is understood to be a time of great joy in that it signifies life’s fulfillment.

As mentioned before, Liber AL vel Legis asserts that there is a part of oneself that is immortal. This “immortality” is better understood as a consciousness that is removed from the conditions of space and time rather than an entity that lives forever throughout all time. In this consideration, it should be noted that, “the psyche’s attachment to the brain, i.e. its space-time limitation, is no longer as self-evident and incontrovertible as we have hitherto been led to believe.”[10] It may be possible that there is an element of the psyche that may “attain to,” or more perhaps “belong to,” a state that transcends this “space-time limitation.” On this Jung writes,

“The fact that we are totally unable to imagine a form of existence without space and time by no means proves that such an existence is in itself impossible. And therefore, just as we cannot draw, from an appearance of space-timelessness, any absolute conclusion about a space-timeless form of existence, so we are not entitled to conclude from the apparent space-time quality of our perception that there is no form of existence without space and time. It is not only permissible to doubt the absolute validity of space-time perception; it is, in view of the available facts, even imperative to do so. The hypothetical possibility that the psyche touches on a form of existence outside space and time presents a scientific question-mark that merits serious consideration for a long time to come.” [11]

With this in mind, we now turn to what Liber AL says itself in this regard:

“Yea! Deem not of change: ye shall be as ye are, & not other… There is none that shall be cast down or lifted up: all is ever as it was.” [12]

In this sense there is an indestructible element of the self that cannot be “cast down or lifted up.” There is Hadit, that which perceives events but is ultimately unaffected by them. It is said in Liber AL that “all the sorrows are but as shadows; they pass & are done; but there is that which remains.”[13] That part which remains, the “Crowned and Conquering Child” within us all, which perceives that “every event, including death, is only one more accretion to our experience.”[14] Crowley writes on these verses of Liber AL that they “demonstrate the inviolability of Hadit our Quintessence. Every Star has its own Nature, which is 'Right' for it… It is impossible to alter the ultimate Nature of any Being, however completely we may succeed in transfiguring its external signs as displayed in any of its combinations.”[15] This starry or “Kingly” nature cannot be “cast down or lifted up,” and in fact it is said in Liber AL that "If he be a King, thou canst not hurt him.”[16]

Essentially, Thelema asserts an aspect of the self that one cannot hurt – an aspect that accepts experiences of both life and death as acts of “love under will.” The idea of an immortal element of man – or of his “soul” – is a common element to many religious traditions. Although scientifically and psychologically unverifiable, as mentioned earlier, the possibility of consciousness not based on our normal ideas of space and time is not as farfetched as it once seemed. In another sense, if one looks at any process, they are all aspects of a continuum. On this Jung writes,

“Beginning and end are unavoidable aspects of all processes. Yet on closer examination it is extremely difficult to see where on process ends and another begins, since events and processes, beginnings and endings, merge into each other and form, strictly speaking, an indivisible continuum. We divide the processes from one another for the sake of discrimination and understanding, knowing full well that at bottom every division is arbitrary and conventional. This procedure in no way infringes the continuum of the world processes, for ‘beginning’ and ‘end’ are primarily necessities of conscious cognition. We may establish with reasonable certainty that an individual consciousness as it relates to ourselves has come to an end. But whether this means that the continuity of the psychic process is also interrupted remains doubtful, since the psyche’s attachment to the brain can be affirmed with far less certitude today than it could fifty years ago.” [17]

On this note, we may assert that it is indeed possible that there is an element of the self – or specifically the psyche – that survives what we perceive to be our physical death. Even so, the mere belief in such a notion would naturally give one the disposition of, as Jung writes, being ready to “die with life.” That is, living life to its fullest potential, without fear or attachment, striving towards full expression that will end in death, recognized as the seal of life’s fulfillment.

[1] Crowley, Aleister. Liber AL vel Legis, II:9

[2] Crowley, Aleister. Liber AL vel Legis, II:41

[3] Crowley, Aleister. Liber AL vel Legis, II:66

[4] Jung, Carl. “The Soul and Death” from Collected Works of C.G. Jung volume 8: The Struture and Dynamics of the Psyche, par. 797

[5] Crowley, Aleister. Liber AL vel Legis, III:17

[6] Crowley, Aleister. Liber AL vel Legis, II:72

[7] Crowley, Aleister. The Law is For All, II:72

[8] As endorsed by Crowley in his epistle “Liber II Message of the Master Therion.”

[9] Jung, Carl. “The Soul and Death” from Collected Works of C.G. Jung volume 8: The Struture and Dynamics of the Psyche, par. 800

[10] Jung, Carl. “The Soul and Death” from Collected Works of C.G. Jung volume 8: The Struture and Dynamics of the Psyche, par. 813

[11] Jung, Carl. “The Soul and Death” from Collected Works of C.G. Jung volume 8: The Struture and Dynamics of the Psyche

[12] Crowley, Aleister. Liber AL vel Legis, II:58

[13] Crowley, Aleister. Liber AL vel Legis, II:9

[14] Crowley, Aleister. Introduction to Liber AL vel Legis, part IV

[15] Crowley, Aleister. The Law is For All, II:57

[16] Crowley, Aleister. Liber AL vel Legis, II:59

[17] Jung, Carl. “The Soul and Death” from Collected Works of C.G. Jung volume 8: The Struture and Dynamics of the Psyche, par. 812

Conclusions

It was established in the introduction that this work would look at Thelema and its central text of Liber AL vel Legis strictly from the perspective of psychology, interpreting metaphysical claims as mental phenomena. From this standpoint, a framework must be established within the confines of Liber AL vel Legis that can comply with current psychological understandings of the self and its place in the world. Thelema presents this framework in symbolic format, utilizing pseudo-Egyptian gods to explain how the Thelemite perceives the work: Each person is a star, and at the core of this star is “Hadit;” about this star are the infinite possibilities of Nuit, the starry night-sky. This conception of each person being at the center of a field of phenomena and possible experiences is analogous to one of Carl Rogers’ propositions describing his client-centered therapy that, “All individuals (organisms) exist in a continually changing world of experience (phenomenal field) of which they are the centre.”[1] Each person being a star, they are self-luminous, have their own natural motion, and also have an effect (like gravitational pull) on other stars. This self-luminous nature attests to mankind’s inherent divinity and the natural motion is the star’s particular Will.

The Will is central in Thelema, for it is proclaimed, “Thou hast no right but to do thy will. Do that, and no other shall say nay.”[2] Each star has a unique Will to carry out, and the way in which this is carried out is by the method – or modus operandi – of “love under will.” This means that all actions must be Love, which is essentially the “uniting of some one monad with one of the experiences possible to it,”[3] or simply, the assimilation of experience. This Love must be “under will,” and therefore each act is done to fulfill and express the true nature of the individual involved rather than thwart it. This method of “love under will” was seen to be analogous to Carl Rogers’ propositions. A successful expression of “love under will,” where experience is harmoniously assimilated in accordance with the nature of the individual, is what Rogers calls “psychological adjustment,” whereas “psychological maladjustment” means that experience is not assimilated harmoniously and from which “psychological tension” (suffering in the mental sphere) will naturally arise. In addition, the Will itself was seen to be analogous to Carl Rogers’ notion of the “self-actualizing tendency” inherent in all people.

Further considerations on this Will showed that for it to be considered “pure” and “every way perfect,”[4] it must be done with tireless energy, without regard for purpose, and with no “lust of result” or desire for the fruits of one’s work. Next, morality and sin were considered and found to be nothing but impediments to the free flow of the Will; it was established that in Thelema, “that it is no longer possible to say a priori that a given action is ‘wrong.’ Each man has the right – and an absolute right – to accomplish his True Will."[5] It was seen that these sets of moralities naturally repress and inhibit the Will, especially those notions which dictate our sexual morality. Thelema’s move beyond moral injunctions against sexual behavior is consistent with the findings of Alfred Kinsey’s innovative research in mid-20th century.

Aside from morality inhibiting the free and natural flow of the Will, it was seen that the mind, especially its faculty of reason, also prevents the true Will from manifesting. Reason is not discarded as useless in Thelema, but instead it is put into its most effective sphere of operation: in subservience to the Self and its Will. If the mind usurps the “throne” of the Self and dictates its actions through Reason, it renders the Will impotent because, “If Will stops and cries Why, invoking Because, then Will stops & does nought.”[6] More importantly, it is understood that “there is a factor infinite & unknown,”[7] the subconscious Will, which is, by definition, not able to be understood and interpreted by the conscious mind. Therefore, the mind can only inhibit the flow of the subconscious will, and it is this unknown factor, which makes “reason… a lie” in that it is unable to dictate the Will of the individual in accordance with their true Selves (which must necessarily account for both conscious and subconscious natures). Carl Jung recognized that the mind cannot accurately dictate the whims of the Will. He said that rationalistic opinions come close to neurotic symptoms in that they split the awareness away from the subconscious promptings. For this reason, Jung deems these opinions “distorted thinking,” and those thoughts that proceed from the “tap-root” of the Self and its Will are deemed “psychologically correct thinking:” yet another psychological assumption that Liber AL anticipated in a way.

Next, the process of coming to know and express one’s Will is understood to be analogous not only to Crowley’s notions of “the Great Work” and “Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel,” but also Carl Jung’s process of “individuation.” All of these are united by the fact that they all attempt to penetrate to the deepest or true nature of the individual and attempt to assimilate and manifest it. In Jung’s process of “individuation,” one comes to identify with the archetype of the “Self,” which is the totality of the psyche, including both conscious and unconscious natures. Thelema uses the Egyptian god of Horus as its specific archetypal expression of the “Self,” and each person’s “Great Work” is to come to “revere” and identify with this Self and thereby manifest the Will more fully. Crowley specifically mentions that the “tribulations” of this ordeal are exactly the same as the modern processes of psychoanalysis, equating the pseudo-mystical process of “the Great Work” or “Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel” with the more modern notions of “individuation.” It was further asserted that the unconscious’s natural function is towards individuation and therefore every single person takes part in the “the Great Work,” whether they are conscious of it or not.

In Liber AL vel Legis, it was seen that a psychological model of “failure” (to assimilate experience) is constructed along familiar physiological lines. In the body, the appearance of pain signifies a malfunction of some sort, and also in the psyche, the appearance of “psychological tension” (as Carl Rogers terms it) signifies a failure of the harmonious functioning of the psyche. In the psyche, sorrow, pain, regret, fear, and pity are all seen to be disharmonious to the functioning of the Will. Next, a specific line in Liber AL is analyzed to show that Hadit, that symbol of the perceiver-of-events, can either lift his head to Nuit or droop down his head to the earth. These two possible actions were then equated with the life and death instincts of Freud and also the concepts of “MATER COELISTIS” and “PHALLOS” from Jung’s Septem Sermones ad Mortuos – most importantly it is asserted that no matter what “choice” Hadit makes, there is joy and rapture to be found in either option.

Finally, the inevitable topic of death is treated within a Thelemic context. First, death is understood as a joyous occasion, a time for a greater feast than even for birth. Death is also to be considered as the “seal” or symbolic fulfillment of life. In both of these ways Thelema attempts to overcome the morbidity associated with death and the common aversion thereto. The idea of a part of the self surviving death is also entertained but because this is a psychological treatise, we can only make the statement that “the psyche’s attachment to the brain, i.e. its space-time limitation, is no longer as self-evident and incontrovertible as we have hitherto been led to believe,”[8] although no conclusive metaphysical assertions may be made.

Essentially, Thelema cannot only be clearly interpreted through the lens of psychology but our understanding of Liber AL is greatly enriched thereby. This work was merely a brief overview of the way psychology enables us to better understand Thelema. Appended is a short discussion about the archetypal symbols of the star and the night sky, but this is merely the tip of the iceberg of the possible syntheses between Thelema and psychology. The conclusions of such eminent psychologists as Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, Carl Rogers, and Alfred Kinsey are emphasized in this work but there are many other branches of psychological inquiry that have an important bearing on Thelema. Since psychology is the study of that psyche which is inherent in every man and every woman, it is certainly of interest to all Thelemites who seek to better understand themselves. The injunction of the Greeks to “know thyself” still holds true, and to do this we must delve into our darkest places and face our deepest fears – the “tribulation of ordeal, which is bliss."[9] For Thelema is a tradition of joy where one treats all events, even if they are ordeals, as equally valid experiences for growth. It is a tradition of joy whether we consider it as a psychological framework, a philosophy, a religion, a spiritual map, or whatever suits our particular nature.

* * *
“Remember all ye that existence is pure joy; that all the sorrows are but as shadows; they pass & are done; but there is that which remains… They shall rejoice, our chosen: who sorroweth is not of us… Beauty and strength, leaping laughter and delicious languor, force and fire, are of us… But ye, o my people, rise up & awake! Let the rituals be rightly performed with joy & beauty! …A feast every day in your hearts in the joy of my rapture! A feast every night unto Nu, and the pleasure of uttermost delight! Aye! feast! rejoice! there is no dread hereafter. There is the dissolution, and eternal ecstasy in the kisses of Nu… Write, & find ecstasy in writing! Work, & be our bed in working! Thrill with the joy of life & death! Ah! thy death shall be lovely: whososeeth it shall be glad. Thy death shall be the seal of the promise of our age long love. Come! lift up thine heart & rejoice!”[10]

- References -

[1] Rogers, Carl. Client-Centred Therapy, ch.11

[2] Crowley, Aleister. Liber AL vel Legis, I:42-43

[3] Crowley, Aleister. Introduction to Liber AL vel Legis, part II

[4] A reference to Liber AL vel Legis I:44

[5] Crowley, Aleister. “The Method of Thelema”

[6] Crowley, Aleister. Liber AL vel Legis, II:30

[7] Crowley, Aleister. Liber AL vel Legis, II:32

[8] Jung, Carl. “The Soul and Death” from Collected Works of C.G. Jung volume 8: The Struture and Dynamics of the Psyche, par. 813

[9] Crowley, Aleister. Liber AL vel Legis, III:62

[10] Crowley, Aleister. Liber AL vel Legis, II:9,19,20,34,35,42-44,6

Appendix
Archetypes of the star – or spark – and the night-sky

Two specific archetypes that Carl Jung gives attention to are of especial importance to this discussion. The first of these archetypes – or more accurately, archetypal manifestations – is that of the spark, the astrum, the star, or the scintilla, which is essentially a manifestation of the archetype of the “self.” The second of these archetypes is that of the night-sky, which is essentially a symbolic conception of the entirety of all archetypes, or the entirety of the unconscious.
In Liber AL vel Legis there are prominent occurrences of both of these archetypes. In the third line of the book it is proclaimed,

“Every man and every woman is a star.” [1]

Almost immediately we have an identification of the self of each human individual with the symbolic figure of a star. In his work On the Nature of the Psyche, Jung is explaining how alchemical symbology is an important source for symbolic expressions of unconscious contents of the psyche. He writes “from [alchemy] I take, first and foremost, the idea of the scintillae – sparks – which appear as visual illusions in the ‘arcane substance…’ If we may compare the sparks to the archetypes, it is evident that Khunrath [a 16th century alchemist] lays particular stress on one of them. This One is also described as the Monad and the Sun, and they both indicate the Deity… Psychologically, the One Scintilla or Monad is to be regarded as symbol of the self.[2] Therefore, this assertion of every man and woman being a star is using a common archetypal symbol of the complete “self” and thereby identifying each person with “the One Scintilla,” “the Monad and the Son, [which] both indicate the Deity.”

Jung continues, “This light is the lumen naturae which illuminates consciousness, and the scintillae are germinal luminosities shining forth from the darkness of the unconscious. Dorn, like Khunrath, owes much to Paracelsus with whom he concurs when he supposes an ‘invisibilem solem plurimis incognitum’ in man (an invisible sun unknown to many). [Also], ‘Sol est invisibilis in hominibus, in terra vero visibilis, tamen ex uno et eodem sole sunt ambo’ (The sun is invisible in men, but visible in the world, yet both are of one and the same sun)… Thus the one archetype emphasized by Khunrath is known also to Dorn as the sol invisibilis or imago Dei. In Paracelsus the lumen naturae comes primarily from the ‘astrum’ or ‘sydus,’ the ‘star’ in man… Indeed, man himself is an ‘Astrum:’ ‘not by himself alone, but for ever and ever with all apostles and saints; each and every one is an astrum, the heaven a star… therefore saith also the Scripture: ye are lights of the world [Matthew 5:14]”[3]

Liber AL reveals plainly this “invisible sun unknown to many,” this sol invisibilis which is also the imago Dei that is in the heart of every man and woman. It is every man and every woman that are “the lights of the world.” Jung also asserts nearly the same doctrine as Liber AL by saying that “man himself is an ‘Astrum’” and then quoting another who essentially says man is not alone as a star but “with all apostles and saint; each and every one is an astrum…” In this sense, one may say that symbolically all stars are united together in the night-sky. Nuit herself proclaims this when she says in Liber AL,

"…I am Infinite Space, and the Infinite Stars thereof…"[4]

On this note, we turn again to Jung who writes further about the archetypes alchemical vision which corresponds to the Thelemic symbology, “It strikes me as significant… that the characteristic alchemical vision of sparks scintillating in the blackness of the arcane substance should, for Paracelsus, change into the spectacle of the ‘interior firmament’ and its stars. He beholds the darksome psyche as a star-stewn night sky, whose planets and fixed constellations represent the archetypes in all their luminosity and numinosity.[5] The starry vault of heaven is in truth the open book of cosmic projection, in which are reflected the mythologems, i.e., the archetypes. In this vision astrology and alchemy, the two classical functionaries of the psychology of the collective unconscious, join hands.”[6]

Nuit is considered as the totality of “the darksome psyche” with each star being an archetype therein. Nuit then becomes a sort of “double symbol” of both macrocosmic and microcosmic implications. On the macrocosmic scale, each individual is a star and are united together in “the body of the night sky,” which represents the totality of all possibilities (see the chapter “The First Principles” in this essay for further explanation of Nuit in this sense). On the microcosmic scale, Nuit represents the totality of the psyche and the plethora of stars represents reflections of the many archetypes of the unconscious. Within this “star-strewn night sky” of the psyche, there is that “One Scintilla,” “the Monad and the Sun,” which is that archetypal symbol of the “whole” or integrated self.

This appendix is added to show that not only do the symbols of Liber AL vel Legis represent manifestations of common archetypes, but they also have a historical precedent in various alchemical texts. Jung’s work On the Nature of the Psyche appeared many decades after the writing of Liber AL vel Legis in 1904. It is unfortunate that Jung was not aware of (or simply did not investigate) this modern occurrence of the same archetypal patterns he studied. Once again, Liber AL vel Legis may be viewed as both a product and an expression of the collective unconscious, filtered through the peculiar and unique psyche of Aleister Crowley. Earlier it was said that “we may therefore find statements of universal import explained under the figure of certain symbols that were familiar to Crowley’s consciousness,” but now we see that, although this is most likely true for certain cases (i.e. the appearance of the Egyptian deities like Hoor-paar-kraat, Heru-ra-ha, and Nuit, the cases of Islamic terminology like “Isa,” “Kiblah,” and “Kaaba,” the cases of Western Hermetic and occult symbology, etc.), Liber AL vel Legis contains symbols which are also somewhat universal. Not only is there a historical precedent in alchemical texts, but every human being on Earth has the experience of seeing the sun, the night sky, and the seemingly infinite amount of stars therein.

[1] Crowley, Aleister. Liber AL vel Legis, I:3

[2] Jung, Carl. “The Significance of the Unconscious in Psychology” from Collected Works of C.G. Jung Volume 8: On the Nature of the Psyche, par.388

[3] Ibid, par.389-390

[4] Crowley, Aleister. Liber AL vel Legis, I:22

[5] At this point Jung’s text there is a footnote which reads thus, “In the Hieroglyphica of Horapollo the starry sky signifies God as ultimate Fate, symbolized by a ‘5,’ presumably a quincunx.” This is especially significant in that Nuit is identified with Fate – or in other words, the necessary workings & motions of the universe – and also the symbolic figure of ‘5.’ In Liber AL vel Legis, I:60, Nuit proclaims, “My number is 11, as all their numbers who are of us. The Five Pointed Star, with a Circle in the Middle, & the circle is Red.” Here Nuit herself identifies herself with The Five Pointed Star,’ the pentagram. Interestingly, this is the one section of Liber AL vel Legis which was not penned by Crowley but filled in later by Rose Crowley, his wife at the time.

[6] Jung, Carl. “The Significance of the Unconscious in Psychology” from Collected Works of C.G. Jung Volume 8: On the Nature of the Psyche, par.392

This entry was posted on Saturday, 24 April 2010 at Saturday, April 24, 2010 and is filed under . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .

4 comments

Nice posting. Do you know about this edition of the Gita?

http://www.YogaVidya.com/gita.html

26 April 2010 at 04:59

No to be honest! Thank you for the link…

26 April 2010 at 08:33

The basic idea of "Every man and woman is a star" I can interpret (psychologically, that is) through the 8 circuit system described by Robert Anton Wilson http://www.deepleafproductions.com/wilsonlibrary/texts/raw-8-systems.html Consequently we all have the potential to do anything we want provided we have the will and discipline to do it. We can reach the same effects of hashish and LSD without them. This is how I'd explain it to someone that wants to know the meaning of the phrase without dragging in a vast information on mythology (however one must undertake the study of the archetypes in the collective unconscious to travel through those circuits).

29 April 2010 at 19:11

I couldn’t agree with you more :))

29 April 2010 at 19:17

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