Initiation: The Hidden Agenda of Being

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

Welcome to the A∴A∴.  You are now part of an exclusive organization that is entitled to initiation into Magick (profound wisdom of live beyond the bounds of scholarly study).  You have found the secret school that will give you the initiation that you otherwise cannot have.  This means that if your teacher tells you to do something that is ethically wrong or destructive you must do it, or otherwise you will be barred from the order and lose the golden thread of initiation right?  —– Wrong!!!

You are no better than anyone if you join the A∴A∴ or any other organization.  And the longer you cling to this illusion the more disappointed you will be when you meet other individuals even Christians, yes Christians who are not in the order or know nothing of the occult and yet are physically, mentally, and spiritually superior to yourself.  Believe me there are other magi who either by birth, karma, or accident have attained to the pinnacle of their own powers.  Of course there are many who also reach attainment through a different order, a different formal system using a different mythology and different set of symbols.  There are also rare individuals, who through a combination of trials, the development of reasoning, study and honest introspection have also attained to adept-hood while being professed atheists/intellectuals. (Nietzsche and Sartre come to mind here.)

Some people who have their illusions of exclusivity to initiation and the possibility for greatness quit the order once they meet other ‘adepts’ outside of our school.  Then sooner or later they come to regret their decision; they realize that there is something beautiful in the A∴ A∴ and it’s structure and it’s magickal current, but by the time they have understand their loss it is often too late.  They had failed their test of initiation, they weren’t honest in their own introspection.

The bottom line in all this is that the one and the many are equivalent.  Truth is one, its appearances and paths are many, but in the end all successful initiation leads to the same end.  Hence Crowley wrote that the adepts of the three magickal schools white, black and yellow, all drink at the same table.

My own experience has shown me that since the day we are born that life itself is initiating us.  What is life?  It is simply being interacting with it’s own nothingness: Nuit and Hadit.  This interaction is dynamic, disruptive and unstable, hence the aphorism: ‘change is stability’.  Ra-Hoor-Khuit, the solar god of war in Thelemic mythology is this violent dynamic that is at the heart of all life, all being. To be, means that something contradictory must not be. Hence violence on all levels is inherent to life. That is why when we truly banish in the ceremony of The Star Ruby, we make the signs of NOX, the Night of Pan.  Pall is all, he is the archetype of being in itself which is everything and nothing, the cosmic egg.  Only when this all being is negated in specific ways can beings per-se manifest and show themselves.  So to be is to suffer, but this suffering is truly the echo of pure joy, the joy of being in its totality.  

But being has structure and rules and it is ever striving and evolving in this instability of beings to become self conscious and self determined.  As stars we are basically a particular interaction/combination of being and nothingness unfolding a complete concept which is semi self conscious and semi self determined.  Our goal though, is to become wholly self conscious and wholly self determined.  This entails changes in our internal and external behavior. Of course knowing what to do, and doing it, are not the same thing; that is why Magick is not to be confused with some scholarly pursuit even though formal study is an important component.  Study, practice, and trials are all necessary.  We need to suffer consequences in order to change our internal and external behavior, in order to become more awakened and wise.  We need ordeals and life for everyone is the hard school of initiation.

Everyone, including animals and objects are going through their own initiation,  because all things have a degree of perception and internal drive, (at least according to Leibniz and myself)  and all things are changing, bringing an opportunity for evolution.  This entelechy and inner drive for more power (will to power) in all things is the driving force for initiation and it is this drive for expansion that gives all self conscious beings the opportunity to actively work with these inherent forces to facilitate this natural and inevitable transformation of consciousness.

The A∴A∴ is simply one of many occult schools that uses symbols, mythology, ceremonies and occult exercises to facilitate a conscious initiation.  If we are serious aspirants in this order and we don’t take the criticisms of our teachers personally, we can succeed in a conscious process of initiation using a mythos, and schema of practices that are in alignment with the current mode of being: the zeitgeist of this point of history.  This means that we are using a mythos and symbols that are meaningful to the structures in the human psyche as it exists in the modern/postmodern world that we find ourselves in and offers ways of aligning ourselves with the world around us in ways that are constructive.  (Joseph Campbell points out that the older myths, particularly in the biblical tradition are out of date, meaningless and misalign the psyche to the current demands of life as it is Now.) Naturally since I accept Liber AL vel Legis I think Campbell has hit the proverbial nail on the head.  And the answer to this challenge is expressed in our work to create an authentic mythos and culture in Thelema that is post Judeo/Christian in nature.

So anyone can become initiated if they choose to be conscious and some I suspect attain it by accident.  If you are reading this, you probably belong to neither of the above mentioned cases as people are not usually interested in what they have always had.  Yes the claims that student’s make to being a born adept are not taken too seriously in this neck of the woods.  

So what happens when we sign the oath in the A∴A∴ then?  Well we make an agreement with our own archetypal self, our unconscious and the collective unconscious.  In short, we make a covenant with being.  We ask and agree that it be tough on us, that it educate us that it cut us no breaks and that we will face whatever comes to us with a straight back.  It also means we will be committed to our teachers and to our assigned tasks.  But if we break our oath and choose to toy with old sweetnesses, we are in effect making war with our own unconscious and the life force. Still worse, by breaking our own word the forces we have summoned to initiate us move into unconsciousness, which means we will suffer, but a much worse, often fruitless suffering, since it is a suffering without the light that would come from our conscious participation and utilization of the mythological language came that allows us to swim in the sea of consciousness.

Love is the law, love under will.

The Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram

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

The Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram was first published in The Collected Works of Aleister Crowley Volume I (1905) as a footnote to his poem The Palace of the World. He ended this footnote with: “Those who regard this ritual as a mere device to invoke or banish spirits, are unworthy to possess it. Properly understood, it is the Medicine of Metals and the Stone of the Wise.” This ritual was given to Neophytes in the Order of the Golden Dawn. It was published again in Liber O vel Manus et Sagittae sub-figura VI (1909), as follows:

i. Touching the forehead, say Ateh (Unto Thee),
ii. Touching the breast, say Malkuth (The Kingdom),
iii. Touching the right shoulder, say ve-Geburah (and the Power),
iv. Touching the left shoulder, say ve-Gedulah (and the Glory).
v. Clasping the hands upon the breast, say le-Olahm, Amen (To the Ages, Amen).
vi. Turning to the East, make a pentagram (that of Earth) with the proper weapon (usually the Wand). Say (i.e. vibrate) IHVH.
vii. Turning to the South, the same, but say ADNI.
viii. Turning to the West, the same, but say AHIH.
ix. Turning to the North, the same, but say AGLA (Pronounce: Ye-ho-wau, Adonai, Eheieh, Agla).
x. Extending the arms in the form of a Cross say,
xi. Before me Raphael; xii. Behind me Gabriel;
xiii. On my right hand Michael.
xiv. On my left hand Auriel;
xv. For about me flames the Pentagram,
xvi. And in the Column stands the six-rayed Star.
xvii-xxi. Repeat (i) to (v), the Qabalistic Cross.

It is generally assumed that this ritual was created by S. L. MacGregor Mathers for the Golden Dawn. However, it would seem that the main prototype for the Qabalistic Cross comes from Eliphas Levi’s Transcendental Magic [translated by A. E. Waite]:

For example, the initiate said raising his hand to his forehead, “For thine,” then added “is,” and continuing as he brought down his hands to his breast, “the kingdom,” then to the left shoulder, “the justice,” afterwards to the right shoulder, “and the mercy” – then clasping his hands, he added, “in the generating ages.” Tibi sunt Malkuth et Geburah et Chesed per aeonas – a Sign of the Cross which is absolutely and magnificently kabalistic, which the profanations of Gnosticism have completely lost to the official and militant Church. This sign, made after this manner, should precede and terminate the Conjuration of the Four.

“The Conjuration of the Four” was an elaborate ritual of prayers designed to evoke the Elementals of Paracelsus: Sylphs (Air) in the East, Salamanders (Fire) in the South, Undines (Water) in the West, and Gnomes (Earth) in the North. Just before the above quote, the text read: “holding the Pantacle of Solomon in one hand and taking up successively the sword, rod and cup, the Conjuration of the Four should be recited with a loud voice…” Although these exact instructions might be loosely interpreted, one could easily imagine the “Pantacle of Solomon” to be the same as that Pentagram of Solomon described in The Goetia (the Lesser Key of Solomon) as such: “the figure whereof is to be made in Sol or Luna (Gold or Silver), and worn upon thy breast; having the Seal of the Spirit required upon the other side thereof. It is to preserve thee from danger, and also to command the Spirits by.” Compare this to Levi’s own instructions in Transcendental Magic:

The sign of the Pentagram should be composed of the seven metals, or at least traced in pure gold upon white marble. It may be also drawn with vermilion on an unblemished lambskin the symbol of integrity and light… The Pentagram is consecrated with the four elements; the magical figure is breathed on five times… The five breathings are accompanied by the utterance of names attributed to the five genii, who are Gabriel, Raphael, Anael, Samael and Oriphiel. Afterwards the Pentacle is placed successively at the north, south, east, west and centre of the astronomical cross, pronouncing at the same time, one after another, the consonants of the Sacred Tetragram…

Although there are some obvious differences between Levi’s instructions and those of the Golden Dawn’s Pentagram rituals, it is highly likely that those particular quotes from Transcendental Magic were a major influence. Furthermore, since Levi’s handwriting can be found in the Cipher manuscripts, as well as directions for drawing the elemental Pentagrams, there is the possibility that the Pentagram ritual of the Golden Dawn (in all its variations) might have already been in use before the Order was actually established. So, it is entirely plausible that Levi might have been alluding to this very ritual, couched in the typical blinds he was known to use in order to protect his oaths of secrecy.

(i-v) The Qabalistic Cross

It should be readily apparent that the difference between the Roman Catholic Sign of the Cross and the Qabalistic Cross is the wording. The former uses the usual Trinitarian formula (“In the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit”); the latter replaces this with the doxology of the Lord’s Prayer (“Thine is the Kingdom, and the Power, and the Glory forever”) liberally translated into Hebrew to correspond to the Tree of Life. On page 37 in Liber 777, we are informed that Chesed has the additional title of Gedulah, which means “Majesty.” Perhaps this alternative title of the Sephiroth was chosen by Mathers to maintain balance with Geburah, since both have the same number of syllables, just as Ateh and Malkuth have two. In his book The Middle Pillar, Israel Regardie claims: “The tradition holds that these words should be vibrated and not merely enunciated.” However, this “tradition” did not begin the original Golden Dawn; it probably began with Golden Dawn offshoot the Stella Matutina, if not Regardie himself. In fact, the Z1 document of the Golden Dawn gives a solemn warning: when using the “traditional mode of pronouncing the Divine Names by vibration, let the Adept beware that he applies it only to the Divine Names of the Gods.” THE WORDS OF THE QABALISTIC CROSS ARE NOT THE DIVINE NAMES OF THE GODS.

It is just as efficient to adhere to the typical Catholic method of hand gesturing; the beginner might even learn first by saying the words in English: “Thine is the Kingdom, and the Power, and the Glory forever. Amen!” Repeating this a few times until it feels natural enough, one could then move on to the Hebrew: “Ateh Malkuth, ve-Geburah, ve-Gedulah le-Olahm. Amen!” This is a case in which one raised as a Catholic probably has an advantage, one who already spent years treating the Sign of the Cross as a magical gesture of both protection and sanctity. Vibrating the words of the Qabalistic Cross is certainly not necessary at all, but the individual practitioner may be left to use their own discretion toward deciding whether this augmentation is worth the bother.

In the first issue of Phyllis Seckler’s In The Continuum, part (ii) was changed to: “Touching the breast, say Aiwass; Touching the genitals, say Malkuth” and the rest follows as in (iii-v). Although it doesn’t appear in any of Crowley’s published writings, evidence that he may have implemented this addition can be found in the autobiography of Betty May (Tiger Woman: My Story), where she describes her stay at the Abbey of Thelema:

Clouds of incense hung about the room everywhere. When all were assembled, the Mystic rose from his seat, and taking one of the swords from the side of the brazier, held it pointing towards the altar while he intoned an invocation in a language with which I was not familiar. From hearing it every day, however, the sounds remain fixed in my memory. “Artay I was Malcooth — Vegabular, Fagedura, ee-ar-la — ah moon.” The last was a high-pitched note in contrast with the rest of the chant.

[We can surely assume that “Ateh Aiwass Malkuth—ve-Geburah, ve-Gedulah, le Olahm — Amen” was what she actually heard.]  

As the original version uses the inverted Cross of Saint Peter, it is interesting to note that this Cefalu era modification is a closer fit to the original Golden Dawn Rose Cross and the Minutum Mundum (the Tree of Life in color). In Liber 777 column XXI, Crowley changed the attribution of Malkuth on the body from the feet (in the tradition of Mathers and Westcott) to the anus and buttocks. One could easily see how the Complete Symbol of the Rose and Cross would correspond to the human body, by this new attribution, in due proportion and symmetry.

The Rose and Cross being united, they bring down into the centre of all the Divine White Brilliance of Kether, in which is shown another Rose Cross, no longer of divided light, but Ruby of the Holy Spirit; of Gold, the Glory of the Light; of Green rays because Isis shines forth—a new Creation. This higher Rose Cross is again the mystery of the Higher Genius descending into Kether, when the Lower is in Tiphereth established. [The Equinox III:3 page 225]

Although the points of Malkuth, Geburah, and Chesed are directly referred to by name, it should be noted that Ateh does not, and at the forehead does not touch on any specific Sephirah on the body. Rather, it touches on the path of Gimel, directly in the center of the Supernal triad and enclosed by the paths of Aleph, Beth and Daleth. In the footnotes to The Palace of the World, Crowley explains that the Moon on the forehead “signifies Aspiration to the Highest.” The importance of this significance is repeated several times in his writings. In Liber 333, we have “3, silver and the moon, are all correspondences of Gimel, the letter of the Aspiration, since Gimel is the Path that leads from the microcosm in Tiphareth to the Macrocosm in Kether.” And, “The card Gimel in the Tarot is the High Priestess, the Lady of Initiation; one might even say, the Holy Guardian Angel.” And again, “The ‘moon-pool of silver’ is the Path of Gimel, leading from Tiphareth to Kether; the ‘flames of violet’ are the Ajna-Chakkra…” This last quote is from chapter 65, and “65 is the number of Adonai, the Holy Guardian Angel.” It should also be noted that Ajna is generally located on the forehead, as “the Third Eye.”

The Moon (being the general feminine symbol, the symbol of the second order corresponding to the Sun as the Yoni does to the Lingam) is universal, and goes from the highest to the lowest. It is a symbol which will recur frequently in these hieroglyphs. But in the earlier Trumps the concern is with Nature above the Abyss; the High Priestess is the first card which connects the Supernal Triad with the Hexad; and her path, as shown in the diagram, makes a direct connection between the Father in his highest aspect, and the Son in his most perfect manifestation. This path is in exact balance in the middle pillar. [The Book of Thoth]

But there is no need to emulate Crowley’s Aiwass addition; my own personal preference is to bypass the breast point and go from forehead with Ateh directly down to genitals with Malkuth, which also reflects a similarity to the gestures of Liber XXV’s “Cross Qabalistic.”

The practitioner begins the ritual facing East. Even though Liber O claims to have taken “the most minute critical care” in the preparation of the book, one can easily mistake the directions of the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram based on the exact wording. Some have thought it was meant that one was to begin by facing North. In the early A∴A∴, the Neophyte would have taught his or her Probationer the ritual properly, or any mistake would have been corrected soon enough. From the very beginning, I have personally interpreted “vi. Turning to the East” to mean “turn your attention specifically outward to the Eastern quarter” whereas the Qabalistic Cross was more of a centered gesture aimed inward rather than outward.

Crowley sent his Notes on the Ritual of the Pentagram to Karl Germer in a letter dated December 11, 1946. Circulated among Agape Lodge members, including Jane Wolfe and Grady McMurtry, these also came to be published in Phyllis Seckler’s first issue of In The Continuum. They begin as follows:

You are supposed to be standing at the intersection of the paths of Samekh and Peh. You are facing Tiphareth (the Sun), thus on your right hand is Netzach (Venus) on your left hand Hod (Mercury), and behind you Yesod (the Moon).

In the Neophyte Ritual of the Golden Dawn, according to the Z1 document, “The place of the Hegemon is between the two pillars, whose bases are in Netzach and Hod at the intersection of the paths of Peh and Samekh in the symbolic gateway of the Occult Science.” The Hegemon is “the representative of the Gods of Truth and Justice” and “the translator of the Higher Self” who prepares the Candidate, leads the Candidate, and speaks for the Candidate during his initiation. It is at the intersection of Samekh and Peh that the Initiate gets his fourth and final consecration as a Neophyte. [See Diagram 3 of The Temple of Solomon the King.] The Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram was given to the Neophyte of the Golden Dawn.

(vi-ix): The Pentagrams and the Vibration of God Names

The Pentagram of Earth may have first appeared in the Cipher Manuscripts folio 10. Publication for Probationers, “Issued by authority of the Master Therion” and distributed by Frater Progradior (Frank Bennett), included precise instructions on how to make the Banishing Pentagram of Earth. [In the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram, ONLY the Pentagram of Earth is used, and it is used in all four quarters.] These instructions are as follows:

To make the Pentagram, act thus:
Bring the right hand, with forefinger extended, towards the outer side of left hip.
(a) Sweep it upwards till vertically in front of centre of head.
(b) Sweep it downwards towards outer side of right hip.
(c) Sweep across and upwards towards the outer side of left shoulder.
(d) Straight across towards outer side of right shoulder.
(e) Across and downwards towards outer side of left hip, or starting point.
Thus, that symbol of Great Power, the Five Pointed Star, is traced in the air. In doing this figure, the arm must be kept quite rigid throughout; and in turning to the Cardinal points a straight line must be drawn from Pentagram to Pentagram, by keeping the arm pointed straight outwards.

We are told that in drawing the Pentagrams, we must practice until they “appear in flame, in flame so near to physical flame that it would perhaps be visible to the eyes of a bystander, were one present.” (Liber O) Although there is no suggestion of color, another modern trend has given bias to the color blue. The beginner should be very critical of these assertions, and once again, we find that Regardie is behind this: “He must endeavor to imagine these four pentagrams as flaming figures of bluish-golden hue similar to that produced by igniting methylated spirit.” Although a golden flame streaked with blue highlights is relatively innocuous, in later years this came to be further exaggerated and to “a flaming, gas-jet blue” and “flaming in a bright bluewhite light.” Personal predilections aside, aiming for a general candle flame color will suffice.

The full instructions for the Vibration of God-names in Liber O (section III parts 3-6) should be consulted. At this point, special attention should be given to part 4:

(a) Stand with arms outstretched. [The Sign of Osiris Slain]
(b) Breathe in deeply through the nostrils, imagining the name of the God desired entering with the breath.
(c) Let that name descend slowly from the lungs to the heart, the solar plexus, the navel, the generative organs, and so to the feet.
(d) The moment that it appears to touch the feet, quickly advance the left foot about 12 inches, throw forward the body, and let the hands (drawn back to the side of the eyes) shoot out, so that you are standing in the typical position of the God Horus, and at the same time imagine the Name as rushing up and through the body, while you breathe it out through the nostrils with the air which has been till then retained in the lungs. All this must be done with all the force of which you are capable.
(e) Then withdraw the left foot, and place the right forefinger upon the lips, so that you are in the characteristic position of the God Harpocrates.

This is obviously a rewording of the instructions from the Z1 document:

Let the Adept, standing upright, his arms stretched out in the form of a Calvary Cross, vibrate a Divine Name, bringing with the formulation thereof a deep inspiration into the lungs. Let him retain the breath, mentally pronouncing the Name in his Heart, so as to combine it with the forces he desires to awake thereby; thence sending it downwards through his body past Yesod, but not resting there, but taking his physical life for a material basis, send it into his feet. There he shall again momentarily formulate the Name—then, bringing it rushing upwards into the lungs, thence shall he breathe it forth strongly, while vibrating that Divine Name. He will send his breath steadily forward into the Universe so as to awake the corresponding forces of the Name in the Outer World. Standing with arms out in the form of a Cross, when the breath has been imaginatively sent to the feet and back, bring the arms forward in “The Sign of the Enterer” while vibrating the Name out into the Universe. On completing this, make the “Sign of Silence” and remain still, contemplating the Force you have invoked.

“The Sign of the Enterer” is the same as “the typical position of the God Horus” and the “Sign of Silence” is “the characteristic position of the God Harpocrates” in Liber O.

Also, compare this paragraph with the next: “It is a sign of success, though only by the student himself is it perceived, when he hears the name of the God vehemently roared forth, as if by the concourse of ten thousand thunders; and it should appear to him as if that Great Voice proceeded from the Universe, and not from himself.” (Liber O)

From section III part 4 (d) of Liber O, many interpret “imagine the Name as rushing up and through the body, while you breathe it out through the nostrils with the air which has been till then retained in the lungs” as meaning that the Vibration of the God-name is not physically vocalized out loud. Perhaps that is exactly what Crowley meant, but other instructions were clearer and simpler: “intone the name IHVH, pronounced Ye-Ho-Wau, imagining that it rushes forward with the breath. Vibrate this name with a strong voice, imagining that the voice carries to infinity in the east.” [These instructions (dated January 15, 1947) are currently unpublished.] Vibrating silently/mentally is certainly a practical option if the magician lives with others who don’t also practice Magick, and rarely has the chance to be completely alone in the house.

Every magician is free experiment with either method (or both) to find which works best for them. But regardless of which method is chosen, it is of the utmost importance to heed the statement: “All this must be done with all the force of which you are capable.” The outward intonation and/or projection of each God-name should only take about 3 or 4 seconds.

Notes on the Ritual of the Pentagram continues with:

You take one step with the right heel in the hollow of the left foot towards Tiphareth and vibrate the Divine Name as given in the ritual. You then carry round the point of the Wand towards Netzach, then take a step again (always recovering after each forward step so that you remain in the centre) and vibrating the Divine Name as before. Continue the process facing Yesod and vibrating; then Hod, and vibrating; but carry the point of the Wand round to Tiphareth so as to complete the circle.

When you begin, you should be standing with your feet a few inches apart. Just as the Godname touches your feet, your right foot pivots clockwise; the big toe goes from 12 o’clock to 3 o’clock and the heel is at 9 o’clock, where it will be in the hollow of the left foot. This is the moment that you bring your hands up to the side of the eyes, just before you advance the left foot about 12 inches. Notice the position of Crowley’s right foot in the Blind Force photo (above). [Where it says Wand, beginners should use the forefinger as stated in Frater Progradior’s instructions. Later, the Magick Dagger may be used for banishings.]

In his introduction to The Kabbalah Unveiled (also quoted in Liber LVIII), Mathers briefly discusses the four tetragrammatic names:

The name of the Deity, which we call Jehovah, is in Hebrew a name of four letters, IHVH; and the true pronunciation of it is known to very few… Therefore when a devout Jew comes upon it in reading the Scripture, he either does not attempt to pronounce it, but instead makes a short pause, or else he substitutes for it the name Adonai, ADNI, Lord. The radical meaning of the word is “to be,” and it is thus, like AHIH, Eheieh, a glyph of existence… [AGLA] is not, properly speaking, a word, but is a notariqon of the sentence, AThH GBVR LOVLM ADNI, Ateh Gebor Le-Olahm Adonai: “Thou are mighty for ever, O Lord!” A brief explanation of Agla is this: A, the one first; A, the one last; G, the Trinity in Unity; L, the completion of the great work… Therefore, as the Son reveals the Father, so does IHVH, Jehovah, reveal AHIH, Eheieh. And ADNI is the Queen “by whom alone Tetragrammaton can be grasped,” whose exaltation into Binah is found in the Christian assumption of the Virgin.

According to Liber 777 and Liber O, IHVH is the God-name of Air, ADNI is the God-name of Earth, AHIH is the God-name of Spirit (Active) and AGLA is the God-name of Spirit (Passive). The God-names of Fire (ALHIM) and Water (AL) are not used in the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram at all, just as only the Pentagram of Earth is used. However, it should be noted that in the Greater Ritual of the Pentagram, the magician begins by drawing in the East the Pentagram of Spirit (Active) and then the Pentagram of Air. In the North, after using the appropriate Pentagrams and God-names in the South and West, he draws the Pentagram of Spirit (Passive) followed by the Pentagram of Earth. It is of the utmost importance that one studies these variations, as complicated and confusing as they are.

Mathers gave another vibratory formula in Telesmatic Images and Adonai (as follows), but it would seem that Crowley, along with George Cecil Jones, felt it wasn’t all that necessary to teach it to the Probationer, preferring to exclusively use the Z1 formula in Liber O.

The ordinary mode of vibrating is as follows: Take a deep and full inspiration and concentrate your consciousness in your heart, which answers to Tiphareth. (Having first ascended to your Kether, you should endeavour to bring down the white Brilliance into your heart, prior to centering your consciousness there.) Then formulate the letters of the Name required in your heart, in white, and feel them written there. Then, emitting the breath, slowly pronounce the Letters so that the sound vibrates within you, and imagine that the breath, while quitting the body, swells you so as to fill up space. Pronounce the Name as if you were vibrating it through the whole Universe, and as if it did not stop until it reached the further limits.

(x-xvi): The Archangels and the Column

It is alleged that this part of the ritual originated as a Jewish prayer, documented by Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch in The Hirsch Siddur: “In the Name of God, the God of Yisrale: may Michael be at my right hand, Gabriel at my left, Uriel before me, Raphael behind me, and above my head, the presence of God.”

Joshua Trachtenberg, commenting on the above prayer, writes: “This is nothing more than a Jewish version of the ancient Babylonian incantation, ‘Shamash before me, behind me Sin, Nergal at my right, Ninib at my left’…” (Jewish Magic and Superstition) [Note that Shamash is the Sun, Sin the Moon, Nergal Mars, and Ninib Saturn.]

In Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa’s Second Book of Occult Philosophy (1533), Michael is the Archangel of Fire in the East, Gabriel is the Archangel of Water in the North, Raphael is the Archangel of Air in the West, and Uriel is the Archangel of Earth in the South.

Here it gets tricky, and a bit confusing.

  1. The positions of the archangels in the Ritual of the Pentagram are clearly different than those of Hirsch or Agrippa, but their assigned Elements in the ritual ARE consistent with Levi’s Conjuration of the Four.
  2. Raphael is also the archangel of Tiphareth, and Gabriel is the archangel of Yesod (Liber 777 column XCIX); this would be consistent with Notes on the Ritual of the Pentagram. However, in his footnotes to The Palace of the World, Crowley writes: “Michael, Lord of Hod, an Emanation of a watery nature” and “Auriel, Archangel of Netzach, to which fire is attributed.” But Michael is the Archangel of Fire and he is at the right hand, where Netzach is supposed to be. And in Liber 777, the Archangel of Netzach is Haniel (“Joy of God”) while Auriel (“Light of God”) is not attributed to any of the Sephiroth. So we have to assume that the young poet Crowley was trying to force a square peg into a round hole.
  3. With the exception of IHVH/Raphael/Air, the other God-names, Archangels and Elements do not match up with their traditional correspondences. At best, I can only guess that the Elements are all supposed to be counter-balanced with each other in one way or another, intentionally or by accident.

The Golden Dawn (Regardie’s Stella Matutina book) offers this explanation: The elements vibrate between the Cardinal points for they have not an unchangeable abode therein, though they are allotted to the Four Quarters in their invocation in the Ceremonies of the First Order. This attribution is derived from the nature of the winds. For the Easterly wind is of the Nature of Air more especially. The South Wind bringeth into action the nature of Fire. West winds bring with them moisture and rain. North winds are cold and dry like Earth. The S.W. wind is violent and explosive — the mingling of the contrary elements of Fire and Water. The N.W. and S.E. winds are more harmonious, uniting the influence of the two active and passive elements. Yet their natural position in the Zodiac is: Fire in the East, Earth in South, Air in West, and Water in the North. Therefore they vibrate: Air between West and East. Fire between East and South. Water between North and West. Earth between South and North. Spirit also vibrateth between the Height and Depth.

However, it seems more likely that the order of the Elements of the Archangels — Air/East, Fire/South, Water/West, Earth/North — follow the formula of F.I.A.T. “Only in the end shalt thou give up thy sap when the great God F.I.A.T. is enthroned on the day of Be-With-Us.” (Liber A’ash)

According to Liber LVIII: “F.I.A.T. is Flatus, Ignis, Aqua, Terra; showing the Creator as Tetragrammaton, the synthesis of the four elements; showing the Eternal Fiat as the equilibrated powers of Nature.” Flatus means air, Ignis means fire, Aqua means water, and Terra means earth. Since the founders of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn were all originally members of Societas Rosicruciana In Anglia, it is very likely that they simply took this arrangement from that Order’s Theoricus ritual:

The four Ancients are seated at the centre of the Temple, behind their pillars, each facing his own cardinal point, thus forming the Cross of the Four Elements:

The Ancient of Earth, clothed in a black robe, faces North.
The Ancient of Water, in a blue robe, faces West.
The Ancient of Air, in a yellow robe, faces East.
The Ancient of Fire, in a red robe, faces South.

It is also interesting to note that the passwords are “Fortitude” for Air, “Ignigene” for Fire, “Aquaticus” for Water, and “Terrigena” for Earth in this ritual, where it is proclaimed that these are specifically associated with the word F I A T. The ritual also states:

This Cross is named the Cross of the Elements; it consists of a central white square and four arms of equal length around it. They are coloured Red, Blue, Yellow and Black, the Red of Fire is above, the Black of Earth is below, the Blue of Water is on the right, and the Yellow of Air is on the left; this is the position of the four Ancients in the Temple in this Grade.

In The Magus (1801), Francis Barrett’s translation of Trithemius states: “get a small plate of pure gold… On the other side of the plate let there be engraven ‘Michael, Gabriel, Uriel, Raphael;’ which are the four principal angels ruling over the Sun, Moon, Venus and Mercury…”

Crowley ends Notes on the Ritual of the Pentagram with:

You can figure out for yourself the forms of the angels, or rather Archangels. For instance, Raphael, commencing with an “R” will have a head of solar glory and the Peh which follows shows that the rest of him is martial: the “AL” which concludes the name (in the case of most angelic beings) indicates that they wield the sword and the balance.

By “AL” he means Aleph/Air/the Sword and Lamed/Libra/the Balance (as in the Scales of Justice). Resh, the first letter of Raphael, corresponds to the Sun. Gimel, the first letter of Gabriel, corresponds to the Moon. Michael (Archangel of Fire) begins with Mem (attributed to Water), as Auriel (Earth) begins with Aleph (Air). If Peh would make the rest of Raphael martial, one could assume he has the body of a warrior. Auriel might have beefy shoulders (Vau/Taurus) and classic chiseled torso (Resh/Sol), with legs that are both feminine and sturdy (Yod/Virgo). Gabriel, having the same torso and legs as Auriel but with Mercurial arms, could give an impression of a typical swimmer’s body. If we imagine Michael as having a “Watery” face (Mem – feminine and reflective), but with an androgynous torso (Yod/Virgo) and powerful legs (Kaph/Jupiter), we could easily see how accurate he is portrayed in Guido Reni’s famous painting. We can easily imagine the attire of all four Archangels as being similar to Reni’s Michael. But whereas he has a red cloak, I also personally imagine that the cloak of Raphael is yellow, that of Gabriel blue, and Auriel’s green.

A popular modern Golden Dawn tradition has Michael with Wand, Gabriel with Cup, Raphael with Sword and Auriel with Pentacle, but this defies BOTH traditional representation AND Crowley’s suggestion. W. B. Yeats himself painted Auriel with sword and shield. [I’m not sure why Yeats gave him a red cloak, although my best guess is that it is supposed to be the redorange of Vau, the second letter of Auriel’s name.]

In the Golden Dawn Ritual of the Pentagram, the initiate then says: “Before me flames the Pentagram, and behind me shines the six-rayed Star.” When Crowley changed the words, he also introduced a slightly different magical formula, first in footnote 18 from The Palace of the World: “It flames both above and beneath the magus, who is thus in a cube of 4 pentagrams and two hexagrams, 32 points in all. And 32 is AHIHVH, the sacred word that expresses the Unity of the Highest and the Human.” Then again in Notes on the Ritual of the Pentagram: “You are thus standing in a Column which is protected by your microcosmic invocation. The consequent result, being macrocosmic response, is that without any effort on your part the hexagram or sixfold star appears both above and below you.”

Oddly enough, Crowley designed the A∴A∴ Probationer’s robes with a scarlet Pentagram in front, and a Hexagram on the back similar to the Golden Dawn Banner of the East. It seemed to me that the idea originally came from the image of the three pillars of the Tree of Life from the Golden Dawn 4=7 ritual; this image is reproduced in The Equinox I:2 but the pillars are called Columns. “And in the Column stands the six-rayed Star.”

“Tiphereth (6) is the Hexagram, harmonizing, and mediating between Kether and Malkuth.” [Liber ABA, part 3]

The image in the diagram would logically appear to contradict the notion of a Hexagram above and below. Instead we get the notion that there should only be one Hexagram that “stands,” at Tiphareth, “in the Column”; but that would bring the number of points to 26. A third Hexagram added to Crowley’s 2 would make the Qabalistic total 38. However, Liber VIII might provide an explanation: “secretly the blue triangle that descendeth is Nuit, and the red triangle that ascendeth is Hadit.” That is, if this Hexagram represents Nuit and Hadit, who are generally attributed to Ain and Ain Soph, the number of this third and middle Hexagram would represent the Qabalistic Zero. 5+5+5+5+6+6+0=32, the number of AHIHVH.

In Liber LVIII, we read: “But first of all it strikes us that I, A, and O are the three Letters associated with the three Letters H in the great Name of Six Letters, AHIHIVH, which combines AHIH and IHVH, Macroprosopus and Microprosopus.”

In the drawing of AHIHVH in Hexagram form (The O of IAO given as Vau or V), note that Heh (H) ascribed to all three points of the descending triangle. “The letter Heh is the formula of Nuit” [Liber ABA part 3], just as “the blue triangle that descendeth is Nuit.” The conclusion would be that all the points of the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram (32) on the whole create another Hexagram that symbolizes the Qabalistic Zero, radiating from the center of the Column and flooding the whole Circle with the Limitless Light of Ain Soph Aur. And the Hexagram is the formula of unifying opposites (positive and negative, active and passive, male and female), by the 0=2 Equation.

Regardless of what conclusion can be made of it, to me the Column is formed from the inner hexagon of the Hexagrams both above and below, creating a transparent light not unlike glass walls lit from the inside. Likewise, this Column fits perfectly within that cube upon whose four other sides is the Pentagram.

Crowley refers to the Flaming Sword as the Pentagram unwound. “The Flaming Sword follows the downward course of the Sephiroth, and is compared to the Lighting Flash. Its hilt is in Kether and its point in Malkuth.” [Liber 777 column IX]

Spirit is attributed to Kether; Fire to Chokmah; Water to Binah; Air to the six Sephiroth from Chesed to Yesod, though concentrated in Tiphareth; Earth to Malkuth. Chesed and Hod are also attributed to Water, Geburah and Netzach to Fire, Tiphareth and Yesod to Air in yet another arrangement. The Five Parts of the Soul also correspond to both the Sephiroth and Elements: 1) Jechidah, the Self; 2) Chiah, the Life Force; 3) Neshamah, the Intuition; 4-9) Ruach, the Intellect; 10) Nephesh, the Animal Soul which perceives and feels. These concepts, along with the union of Macrocosm and Microcosm by way of AHIHVH, should also be taken into consideration in order to properly understand how this ritual “is the Medicine of Metals and the Stone of the Wise.”

Regular Practice

“Neglect not the Performance of the Ritual of the Pentagram, and of the Assumption of the Form of Hoor-pa-Kraat.” (Liber Aleph)

The novice of Magick who accepts the Law of Thelema should memorize the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram as soon as possible, then practice it every day for at least an entire year. According to Liber O, the Pentagrams (and circle connecting them) should “appear in flame, in flame so near to physical that it would perhaps be visible to the eyes of a bystander, were one present.” Then, the Thelemite should study and eventually learn to perform Liber XXV; many have chosen to replace the Liber O version with that of Liber XXV, or to even bypass the former altogether. Whatever one choses to do, it is essential that the other Pentagrams in Liber O are committed to memory for later use in astral work, Liber V vel Reguli, Liber Samekh, and other magical practices such as those of Liber Chanokh.

There are those among certain Thelemic circles who insist that the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram in Liber O and that of Liber XXV are completely separate rituals, used for completely different purposes. But Crowley’s very words suggest otherwise. Magick in Theory and Practice, Appendix I, Section 3 clearly defines Liber XXV as “An improved form of the lesser ritual of the Pentagram.” Below, in these two quotes from Magick in Theory and Practice, the first quote implies that the student is given an option between the two forms, and the second quote specifically states “ ‘The Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram’ (AS NOW REWRITTEN, Liber 333, Cap. XXV) IS THE BEST TO USE.”

The habitual use of the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram (say, thrice daily) for months and years and constant assumption of the God-form of Harpocrates (See Equinox I, II and Liber 333, cap. XXV for both of these) should make the “real circle”, i.e. the Aura of the Magus, impregnable.

It is usually sufficient to perform a general banishing, and to rely upon the aid of the guardians invoked. Let the banishing therefore be short, but in no wise slurred — for it is useful as it tends to produce the proper attitude of mind for the invocations. “The Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram” (as now rewritten, Liber 333, Cap. XXV) is the best to use.


Love is the law, love under will.

From Antonio Lau’s Magick And The Law of ΘEΛHΜΑ)

O Judoka: A Chapter in the Life of Marcelo Motta

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

  Most within the Thelemic community will be familiar Motta’s name and writings but few are aware that he is maybe best known in Brazil for his work in film – albeit short lived.  Motta tried his hand in both writing and directing films in the 70’s and 80’s and his film O Judoka remains a bit of a Brazilian cult classic.

“O Judoka”,  meaning the Judo fighter, was a comic book published by EBAL between 1969 and 1973.  The series first hero was “Mestre Judoka” (Judo-master), a character belonging to Charlton Comics and currently to DC Comics, (the owners of Batman and Superman).  However, after a short 10 issue run the original Judo-master comic book series was cancelled in the United States.  The solution for the Brazilian EBAL, who wanted to continue with the series, was to slightly alter the heroes name and create a new comic book based upon “O Judoka”.  (To view full issues of this comic book click here.)

In 1973, O Judoka was released as a movie, directed by Marcelo Motta making it the very first Brazilian superhero movie and for this reason, though it is not considered to be a good film, it has maintained a following and earned a special place in Brazilian movie history.  The comic book series has gone thru a revival and continues to be popular today, in fact there is a Facebook page dedicated to O Judoka.

The following synopsis of the movie’s plot was provided by a web page maintained by the Brazilian government wherein they catalog old movies.

Carlos is a student of architecture attending college while dating a girl by the name of Lucia. One day, while walking near Lucia’s house, an ex-boyfriend of hers and his gang beats Carlos up. Then on his way home Carlos saves, and old Japanese man named Minamoto from being hit by a car. This old man happened to be a Judo master and being grateful of Carlos aid offers to instruct him. Thus, Carlos starts to take Judo classes in Minamoto’s gym and soon becomes the superhero known as “O Judoka”.

The following excerpt is from an article published in an issue of O Judoka in which members of the cast discuss what it was like working with Motta and it sounds spot on from what I know of him and his work in A∴A∴.


Marcelo Ramos Motta is a “good guy” producer – placid, delicate and kind. Almost never loses his temper, and when he does, it does not last more than a few seconds. Nevertheless, he is demanding and rigorous during shooting. He buys dinner for his team and jokes with everybody, but in his shots – he wants realism; not “childish simulations”.  He believes that “Artists must suffer” and wants his films to transmit authentic emotions to the viewer, without exaggerations, in precise shots.

One particular scene was re-shot many times, because the “bandits” did not know how to “properly get beaten”.  After all, a good “bandit” must know how to be beaten by the “good guy”, with class.

The full article can be viewed here.

From this point forward, Motta’s movie career took a turn for the worse and never really got off the ground.  Though he managed to direct at least one more film of the pornographic variety and is credited as a writer in at least two more films.  Details of his complete Filmography can be found at IMDb.

I would like to give a special thanks to my Brazilian buddies who continue to inform me on Motta’s true history.  Over the last several years I have established relations with several of his A∴A∴ claimant groups both in America and Brazil resulting in over 300 hundred letters being shared with me from his archives and the more I learn about the man the more I am fascinated with his history.  I hope in the near future to be sharing much of this new material with the Thelemic community regarding Mr. Motta who is undoubtedly one of the most influential Thelemites to have ever lived.  His story remains greatly unknown and certain aspects of his life have been mis-represented due to the fact that historians have thus far only had small fragments of his archives to work from. – stay tuned and have patience as this will take some time to flesh out.

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

How it Works

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

The A∴A∴ is an organization whose heads have obtained by personal experience to the summit of this science. They have founded a system by which everyone can equally attain, and that with an ease and speed which was previously impossible. (Book 4, Part II)

In the A∴A∴, the blind do not lead the blind. Progress is measured by a series of grades. The theoretical and practical basis for these grades will be discussed later.

Each person is admitted by a teacher, a fellow seeker, who is at least one grade further along in the system. This person, in turn, is responsible to his or her own teacher, and so forth up the line.

 “Primarily, this Body exists for the purpose of conferring Initiation. Secondarily, it prepares people for initiation by means of courses of instruction.” 
(A∴A∴ Praemonstrance: A Manifesto of the Great White Brotherhood, in THE EQUINOX, Vol. III, No.1.)

The A∴A∴ is not a group system. It is a method of individual training and progress.

The aspirant learns the methods that are taught, applies them, observes the consequences of this practice, and keeps a journal of these results. In this way, each person is provided with all of the essential tools, or methods, and receives examination to ensure that he or she is proficient in their use. Each learns by experience which methods are most helpful and productive of results. Being thus prepared, the student gradually progresses in self-understanding, gradually matures in spiritual perception, and gradually awakens to THAT which first inspired the sacred quest.

 “In all thy wanderings through darkness, this lamp went before thee, though thou sawest it not. It is the symbol of the light of occult wisdom, which the profane see not, neither do they know.” 
(Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, 0=0 initiation ritual).

None of the instructional materials are secret, except for the actual ceremonies of initiation. All of the formal teachings are published openly. It may be that this published information is all that a given seeker needs in order to advance to the Next Step of his or her own inner development; in which case, the Order has served its purpose with respect to that individual. However, the usual method is for an aspirant to affiliate formally with the Order, gaining the benefit of personal instruction from those who have walked similar ground. One thereby becomes a new link in an unbroken chain that reaches back to the dawn of history.

In the remainder of this Introduction, we will discuss the modern history of the formation of the A∴A∴ system that we have today; the theoretical models, which frame the stages of measured progress; and how to employ this book to best effect. We encourage the reader to proceed patiently. For many in the West, it is a novel thought that spiritual awareness can be drilled and accelerated in the same fashion that a muscle can be strengthened or a golf game improved. Not many decades ago, the same would have been thought concerning mental and emotional health; yet the methods of psychotherapy, founded on increasing knowledge of human behavior, have shown otherwise. An ear trained to listen to music detects wondrous subtle­ties that the untrained ear misses; the same can be said of the palate trained to distinguish fine food and wine, the touch drilled to read Braille text, or the eye trained to discriminate nuance in any of a thousand areas. Perception can be refined and, as night the day, heightened awareness follows. You have to learn where to look, and to recognize what you see. The remainder is a continuous unfolding and maturation of appreciation. And, while this lengthy metaphor is not entirely descriptive of all the processes that lie before you, it does aim your attention in the right direction.

Let them that have eyes see.

Love is the law, love under will.

J.A. Eshelman


*Excerpted from  The Mystical & Magical System of the A∴A∴ by James A. Eshelman (All rights reserved)

For more of Jim’s writings, visit, and the message board at




Being a Thelemite

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

Being a THELEMITE is to be aware that we are not sooth-sayers, fortune-tellers, or miracle workers, we leave those areas to pseudo magicians.

Being a THELEMITE is, in the most difficult learning moments of our Fratres and Sorores, to be aware that these moments are necessary to the advancement in Light, Love and Liberty. And that only they can, by themselves, overcome those moments, without our interference.

Being a THELEMITE is to understand the intrigue, the evil-speaking, the slander, the lies of our backward and ignorant fellows, and not let ourselves be involved with such pestilence focus. However, we can not allow such pestilence focus to spread unpunished throughout the world.

Being a THELEMITE is to understand, feeling within our hearts, the function and purpose of the Great Work.

Being a THELEMITE is to give opportunity to all those who demonstrate a real Will to follow the Path.

Being a THELEMITE is not to judge that our Philosophy is the sole holder of the truth, turning ourselves into fanatics and forgetting that we also have flaws.

Being a THELEMITE is to know to which Spiritual Clan we belong to; thus we must continually meditate, watch our behavior, and work.

Being a THEMEMITE is to follow the Logos Aionos.

Being a THELEMITE is not to imagine ourselves as being only true THELEMITES.

Love is the law, love under will.

What is an A∴A∴ lineage?

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

While most initiatory orders work in a system of groups and lodges where members gather in a temple and work together, in the A∴A∴the work is individual. You work alone with the possible guidance of your instructor, who acts as a counselor, not as a teacher.1

Instructor-student relationship

The A∴A∴ member studies under the guidance of an instructor, the only person he contacts in the Order.2 That person is responsible for validating the student’s progress and for transmitting instructions and keys that come from oral tradition. When the student also becomes qualified to instruct, he will have contact with the people he will guide in the Order.

The A∴A∴instructor must be at least one grade ahead of the student, following one of the mottoes of the Order: “In A∴A∴blind does not lead the blind.” Thus, a member of the Probationer Grade 0=0 must be instructed by someone who is at least at the Neophyte Grade 1=10; a Neophyte 1=10 must be instructed by someone who is at least a Zelator 2=9; and so on.

After reaching the Grade of Adeptus Minor 5=6, the member should attain the experience of the Knowledge and Conversation of his Holy Guardian Angel, i.e. the contact with his True Teacher. From there, “His Angel shall lead him anon to the summit of the Order of the R. C. and make him ready to face the unspeakable terror of the Abyss which lies between Manhood and Godhead”, that is, to pass through the grades of the Second Order and reach the 8=3.

What are Lineages?

That word can be used to define two related concepts.

First, lineage can be the instructor-student chain of succession; the chain passing from the student, through his instructor, to the instructor of his instructor and so on back to the founders of the Order.

For example, Euclydes Lacerda de Almeida was received in the Order by Marcelo Ramos Motta, who was received by Karl Johannes Germer, who in turn was received by Edward Alexander Crowley, co-founder of A∴A∴. Then one can say that the lineage of Euclydes is via Motta > Germer > Crowley.3 Every Neophyte potentially is a new lineage of A∴A∴.

We also use the term lineage to denote claimant groups,the set of people who claim to be legitimate members of the A∴A∴and who operate below a given senior member of the Order, whose instructor has already passed away. For example, Frater אדני is instructed by Frater 939, who was instructed by Motta, and so on. By becoming a student of אדני, it is said that you are part of the lineage of Frater 939.4

Lineages vs. a Central Command

When the A∴A∴ was founded, it held three administrative offices:

  • Cancellārius: the secretary, responsible for documents and communications. Position originally occupied by Captain J.F.C. Fuller (Frater P.A.)
  • Imperator: responsible for ruling the Order. Position originally occupied by Aleister Crowley (Frater O.S.V.)
  • Praemonstrātor: responsible for instructions. Position originally occupied by George Cecil Jones (Frater D.D.S.)

Around 1911, Frater P.A. and Frater D.D.S. withdrew from A∴A∴, which fell under the sole responsibility of Aleister Crowley (Frater O.S.V.). Over the following years, different people held these positions, but when Crowley passed away in 1947, he left all his possessions, as well as the government of the A∴A∴ and the O.T.O., into the hands of Karl Johannes Germer.

Although with due authority, Karl Germer never imposed himself as the leader of all the remaining members of the A∴A∴. Instead, each of the surviving senior members continued to take care of their own students.

With Germer’s death, the situation became more complex because he did not leave a direct successor to command the A∴A∴. Some people argue that Motta would be his successor (“the follower”), but even if we assume that he was the heir of the A∴A∴command, he didn’t leave heirs of his own, and we would have almost the same situation as before.

To this day, no group has been recognized by all active lineages as being the one governing triad of A∴A∴as a whole—although one of these groups tries to rule them all. What happens in practice is that each lineage has its own governing triad or a person who centers those functions—usually the senior member.

Succession Authenticity

With so many conflicting discussions about authenticity, it is difficult to check whether a group has an authentic A∴A∴line of succession or not. These are a few parameters one could use to determine if a lineage is authentic:

  • Start from Aleister Crowley: The earliest link of this chain of succession must be this co-founder of the Order, the only one who remained active until his death.
  • Verified grades: Each member of the chain must have his grades recognized by his own Instructor, with no self-recognition or self-advancement.
  • The senior living member must be at least a 5=6: From this point, a member can work with his own Holy Guardian Angel, but before that, there must be someone able to lead him up to Tiphereth and then confirm his Attainment.
  • There should be no “Grade jumping”:  All predecessors must have worked through each intermediate grade in turn: 0=0, then 1=10, then 2=9, then 3=8, then 4=7, then D.L. and then 5=6.

Although some claims of succession seem more valid than others, there is no lineage that meets all these requirements meticulously.

A∴A∴is not a worldly order such as the Freemasonry, O.T.O., or Golden Dawn, thus, charters and official recognition do not matter as much as results. It is important for aspirants to deeply research the A∴A∴lineage or claimant group they wish to join.

Love is the law, love under will.

Alan Willms
Feb 15, 2019


[1] The model is similar to guru-śiṣya tradition, however, the “guru” is neither rewarded nor exalted, it serves only as a facilitator .His “guru” is the “śiṣya” of another guru, who in turn is the śiṣya of a third guru, and so on, until reaching the founder of the Order, the origin of the current.

[2] This only in theory, because many A∴A∴members also are members of other Thelemic initiatory orders, so eventually they end up identifying themselves. However they should never work together.

[3] In the guru-śiṣya tradition this is called Paramparā.

[4] In the guru-śiṣya tradition this is called Sampradāya.


Note on Lineages in A∴A∴
Public A∴A∴ Groups
Guru–shishya tradition

On the Neophyte, Women, and the Melusina

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

“I believe then, and believe now, that the probationer of A∴A∴ is nearly always offered the opportunity to betray the Order, just as the neophyte is nearly always tempted by a woman.”—Aleister Crowley

Aleister Crowley’s claim that an A∴A∴ Neophyte is nearly always tempted by a woman can be taken as almost Christian-like in its apparent implication that women are evil by nature. Surely its format was influenced by old-fashioned attitudes toward women that Crowley had absorbed as a child within a fervently Christian household. Still, his statement contains incredibly important principles which need to be understood by anyone who is starting out on the spiritual path. These important principles are, yes, about women in a certain way. Even more broadly, though, they are about the feminine aspect of everything manifested, including men.

The Problem

Here’s the real warning: when you first swear to engage the spiritual path seriously, that very affirmation will automatically invoke worldly distractions that will most likely knock you right off your path. These distractions won’t be monsters or demons—things you would notice. They will be everyday, ordinary things that you won’t even question. They will be things demanding your immediate attention. Soon you will convince yourself that you’re still really “doing” spirituality, when actually you are just busy saying to yourself you’ll do it “tomorrow.” The inner work somehow never finds it way to the top of your list of things-to-do. Imagine if you took that attitude toward physical exercise or toward the tasks of your day job.

This paper explores the nitty-gritty, occult causes of the inevitable shower of distracting events upon the newly-made Neophyte, male or female. It also goes into the connection of this type of happening with “a woman,” as well how to avoid being a victim of the phenomenon considered more broadly than Crowley does. To quote Grady Louis McMurtry, you’ve got to learn to recognize and get rid of “the lead weight on your ass” or you’ll never go further. It’s not too late.

What has all this got to do with women? To understand, you have to be willing to do a little digging into gender on the Tree of Life. You cannot achieve in Crowley’s system without studying Qabalah. In essence, only women embody the fundamental principle that makes things happen on Earth. A woman has a two-fold nature. On the higher level she rules Babalon. Babalon’s seat is in Binah-3 (בינה) on the Qabalistic Tree of Life. This is the divine sphere of form-in-pure-potential, which Hindus would call Divine Shakti, the cosmic creative power and energy that reverberates throughout the universe in myriad ways. Binah-3 is also known as the “first Heh” of the Tetragrammaton (יהוה), a magickal formula of the universal cycle of creation and destruction. Binah sits at the top of the left-hand Pillar of Manifestation. She creates the myriad forms that descend that pillar and eventually take substance on Earth.

Now, on the lower level, a woman rules the Earthly Mother Goddess. As Earth Mother Goddess, her seat is in Malkuth-10
(מלכות)—not coincidentally, the sphere into which the Neophyte focuses. Malkuth is the divine sphere of form-in-actuality, or Shakti (Energy) manifested. Malkuth-10 is the “second Heh” of the Tetragrammaton. These higher and lower natures of women are essentially present in all natural things, including in men’s physical bodies. In other words, energy is present in all things. The difference is that although the Cosmic Energy Goddess is embodied anthropomorphically in women, She is present only potentially, as an inner image, in men. As such, if we restrict our focus to the level of Earth, then while a woman embodies Energy, a man tends to find that principle in an active form only outside his manifested self—whether in actual women, in the feminine aspects of Nature, or (ideally) in his own inner Goddess. This concept of men being energized from the outside gives the kernel of truth behind the old phrase, “Behind every great man is a great woman.” By contrast, the manifested woman needs to link herself with the corresponding masculine principle of Direction in order to channel her innate energy. Ideally, she links successfully with her inner God, establishing holism within herself, rather than relying on an external male or cause to define her.

Once you understand the two-fold nature of women in relationship to the all-pervading cosmic energy, the kernel of truth in Crowley’s claim that the Neophyte is nearly always tempted by a woman becomes apparent: like attracts like—first and second Heh. A Neophyte focuses into Malkuth, the sphere of the Earth Mother. If the Neophyte is male, his sudden intentional focus on Malkuth via his Oath will draw down—unintentionally—a corresponding form from Binah. That invoked form will descend the left-hand pillar and take shape on Malkuth. As often as not, the form appears in his Universe as an actual woman. Needless to say, that woman existed before he took his Oath. But it wasn’t until now that she existed as the carrier of this particular form invoked by him from Binah. Suddenly she appears to him. Or, if the two people already knew each other, suddenly she appears to him in a new light. And because, unbeknownst to the unaware male Neophyte, this woman embodies his spiritual desires, it is very easy for him to find in her the culmination of all his wishes. Rather than continue on his path, at that point he is drawn to unite with this alluring embodiment of his intent in the form of a woman, and off he goes. Hence, Crowley’s claim.

It’s worth remembering at this point that just as Binah is Saturn, so also is Tav (ת), The Universe, which is the Qabalistic path connecting Malkuth with Yesod-9 (יסוד). Tav / Saturn symbolizes the beginning of the spiritual path, in which an aspirant begins to explore the true nature behind appearances—i.e. begins to go within. Saturn’s metal is Lead. Lead is not evil, but it has to be dealt with skillfully or it will pull you down. Hence, Grady’s warning about “the lead weight on your ass.” I have witnessed many times male Neophytes being distracted off the path by a sudden attraction to a woman, but it has nothing to do with women being evil. In fact, if anything, such a situation is more aptly described as a man not understanding his own act of invocation and basically trapping himself in a state of forgetfulness.

Now Crowley did not address the corresponding situation for unwary female Neophytes. What happens to them? In a sense, it is the same thing by an opposite mechanism. When a woman suddenly focuses on Malkuth with magickal intent, she too draws a feminine form down from Binah. But instead of that form manifesting as something outside of her—though in fact it could—as often as not it manifests as her. In other words, the unwary female Neophyte too often becomes possessed by the Goddess figure and ends up becoming a pawn in some drama usually involving a man who is swept off his feet by her, with the result that she forgets her original intent. I realize some women aren’t going to like what I am saying, with its implication that we are prone to losing control. But anyone who embarks on the magickal path has to admit that sometimes our egos would like to take credit for actions and situations that are more equivalent to slipping on a banana peel. Rather than getting angry and digging in when we lose control in magick, it is better to laugh, get up, and dust ourselves off. Yes, we can regain control, but only if we can first admit we made a mistake. To succeed, we also have to be willing to study and work with our current vehicle’s distinctive magickal features as either male or female. That kind of observation and study of the magickal traits of our current vehicle type is part of our work as we focus into the sphere of Malkuth.

Let’s take a step backward now and look even more closely at the more fundamental basis of Crowley’s observation, regardless of its sexist odor or of its literal truth or falsehood in a given situation. It is this: the minute we affirm our will to do the spiritual work, our own unconscious reality-synthesizing faculty manifests an equal and opposite force. The power deep within us that creates the appearances in our Universe “rights the wrong” that we created by awakening our intent to ascend the Tree of Life. “What goes up, must come down.” That’s just a fact of nature, one that we as aspirants have to contend with skillfully if we are to continue on our path and not just “fall by the wayside.”

In order to place this perennial problem in a different light, I’d like to bring in a different author, Paracelsus (1493–1541), along with his commentator Gerhard Dorn (1530–1584). On the positive side, in doing so I move away from Crowley’s apparent literalism. On the negative side, I introduce a murky and difficult-to-interpret text in comparison to Crowley’s clear one. Still, the effort is worth the gains. The basic point of the Paracelsus text is pretty simple. In a nutshell, the minute we engage a spiritual intent from our seat in Malkuth, the feminine force of our own nature will generate distractions that tend to prevent us from fulfilling our original intent. Again, like attracts like—first and second Heh. To quote Shakespeare’s Macbeth, we immediately find ourselves trapped by the demoness Time, where there’s always “[t]omorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,” grinding our earthly life to a meaningless pulp, unto death, while all our spiritual aspirations meanwhile come to naught. Paracelsus’ solution to this problem of our feminine nature is to wield yet another part of our feminine nature—one which Aleister Crowley rightly characterizes elsewhere as Love.

In Book V, Chapter V of his De Vita Longa, Paracelsus says some things that amount to this. Our psychic powers, as we partake of the Universal Human Being, are four-fold, also corresponding to the four Elements on Earth. The very act of engaging these powers with the intent to pursue the Great Work unleashes what he calls the Melusina, a feminine, watery spirit. If you have ever studied Tarot, you know that Water connotes both emotion and imagery. Qabalistic students know that the Root of Water is Binah-3 (בינה), which is also Saturn and the origin of all form. Paracelsus says that unless the aspirant exercises some careful maneuvers of a special kind, the Melusina will block our entrance into the immortal life. What kind of maneuvers? He says the aspirant must “appropriate the characteristics of Venus” (“arripimus characteres Veneris”). Students of Ordo Templi Orientis mysteries should reflect that in First Degree, occurring in Binah, the candidate receives a copper disk, where copper is the metal of Venus (Francis King, The Secret Rituals of the O.T.O., p. 63). Paracelsus’ description of the problem along with his advice is perhaps clear as mud right now, but we have Dorn’s commentary to help us.

Dorn says something very concrete and helpful when he comments on the problem of the Melusina. Dorn tells us that the Melusina is a vision appearing in the mind. He says that, if permitted to do so by the invisible, eternal Human, the Melusinian spirit will generate “distracting impediments” in the life of the aspirant. In that case, the result is that the fledgling operations don’t obtain their intended effect. In other words, the Melusina generates distracting events in the outer life, with the result that the operation, undertaken with such lofty intent, is immediately rendered a dud. Before I get to Dorn’s commentary on the solution to this problem, I’ll turn to Carl Jung’s thoughts on the problem itself.

Carl Jung (1875–1961), the great psychologist, treasures Paracelsus’ text despite its murkiness because he finds in it gems of surprisingly modern psychological insights. According to Carl Jung, the Melusina corresponds to the anima, an anthropomorphized image of the unconscious that is particularly associated with bodily and intuitive functions and that arises on the borderline of consciousness. Jung explicitly points out that Dorn thinks of the Melusina “not as a projection on a real woman” (“Paracelsus as a Spiritual Phenomenon,” Paragraph 215). He further notes that the idea of the Melusina appearing as a real woman “does not seem to have occurred to Paracelsus either” (Ibid). Obviously, this is in distinct contrast to Aleister Crowley, who seems to have thought of the Melusina’s manifestation only in a literal way. My point is, it doesn’t matter whether the Melusina appears as a real woman or not. Unless skillful maneuvers are undertaken in response, the Melusina will take the aspirant down, whether through manifesting outer distractions to a masculine aspirant or through possessing a feminine aspirant so that she become a pawn of Nature and find herself swept up into drama—often on the stage of some man.

The Solution

Dorn helps clarify Paracelsus’ suggestion that the aspirant “appropriate the characteristics of Venus.” Dorn says we have to dismiss the visions of Melusina as illusionary. That is, we have to recognize them for what they are. He says we have to send her back to her native nymphaditic realm (“[a]d naturam nymphididicam rediens”). This is the way, he says, that we assume the characteristics of Venus, or in other words, “the shield and armor of Love.” What in the world does this mean? Jung further clarifies. He points out that this advised dismissal of the Melusina back to her own realm is not, as it might seem, a rejection of the feminine, but rather a restoration of the feminine to her natural part in the adept’s wholeness. Hence Love or Agape (Venus) is recommended, with True Love being a union of the consciousness with the unconscious—Earth with Heaven—which marriage can never occur so long as the Melusina seems to be separate from the male aspirant, whether in the form of a real woman or in the form of distracting outer events.

This process of reintegrating the feminine into the masculine consciousness is known in old-Aeonic terms as redemption of the second Heh. Through redemption, the feminine principle on Malkuth-10 is elevated to Netzach-7 (נצח), where, as Crowley says in Liber Aleph, “the Daughter is set upon the Throne of her Mother” (“On the Four Lesser Operations of the Microcosmic Star”). A wonderful study of that process of redemption of the feminine by the male Adept is given in Frater Achad’s The Chalice of Ecstasy, which is itself a study of Wagner’s Parsifal.

Though Jung does not say so, since he dwells exclusively on the male mysteries in his article, the sacred marriage also cannot occur for a female aspirant if she becomes too closely identified with the Melusina, or in other words if she becomes unknowingly possessed by it. Luckily, there is an equivalent female operation for redemption through which a woman (Daughter) can place herself on the throne of her Mother in Binah. It involves working the Path of the Moon, which connects Malkuth and Netzach, as well as working the right-hand pillar as a whole.

In any case, Jung notes that the Melusina is closely connected with “Morgana, the ‘sea-born,’” through whom skillful aspirants, to quote Paracelsus, “know yourselves to be one with others.” Clearly Morgana, like Babalon, is in Binah—Saturn or Lead, which co-governs the astrological sign of our present age, Aquarius. In Liber AL vel Legis we similarly read, “Let there be no difference made among you between any one thing & another other thing; for thereby there cometh hurt” (I:22).

For my money, the most lucid literary portrayal of how an aspirant can skillfully send the Melusina back to her native realm by “appropriat[ing] the characteristics of Venus” occurs in the 14th-century chivalric romance Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, specifically in the scene in which Gawain has to repel the sexual advances of his host’s beautiful and attractive wife without ever being discourteous. Gawain and his host had previously agreed that whatever each one secures on that day’s hunt he is honor-bound to exchange with the other man. In the following scene, we see Gawain dancing mindfully with the Melusina in the form of his host’s wife, honoring her beauty and allure while still refusing to be seduced by her. (The “blow” that he must receive, mentioned in the scene, refers to a promise he had made earlier. It is not important for our purposes that we understand the subtleties of the plot.) Here is the scene, as translated by Jessie Weston:

So the lord roamed the woods, and Gawain, that good knight, lay ever a-bed, curtained about, under the costly coverlet, while the daylight gleamed on the walls. And as he lay half slumbering, he heard a little sound at the door, and he raised his head, and caught back a corner of the curtain, and waited to see what it might be. It was the lovely lady, the lord’s wife; she shut the door softly behind her, and turned towards the bed; and Gawain was shamed, laid him down softly and made as if he slept. And she came lightly to the bedside, within the curtain, and sat herself down beside him, to wait till he wakened.

The knight lay there awhile, and marvelled within himself what her coming might betoken; and he said to himself, “Twere more seemly if I asked her what hath brought her hither.” Then he made feint to waken, and turned towards her, and opened his eyes as one astonished, and crossed himself; and she looked on him laughing, with her cheeks red and white, lovely to behold, and small smiling lips.

“Good morrow, Sir Gawain,” said that fair lady; “ye are but a careless sleeper, since one can enter thus. Now are ye taken unawares, and lest ye escape me I shall bind you in your bed; of that be ye assured!” Laughing, she spake these words.

“Good morrow, fair lady,” quoth Gawain blithely. “I will do your will, as it likes me well. For I yield me readily, and pray your grace, and that is best, by my faith, since I needs must do so.” Thus he jested again, laughing. “But an ye would, fair lady, grant me this grace that ye pray your prisoner to rise. I would get me from bed, and array me better, then could I talk with ye in more comfort.”

“Nay, forsooth, fair sir,” quoth the lady, “ye shall not rise, I will rede ye better. I shall keep ye here, since ye can do no other, and talk with my knight whom I have captured. For I know well that ye are Sir Gawain, whom all the world worships, wheresoever ye may ride. Your honour and your courtesy are praised by lords and ladies, by all who live. Now ye are here and we are alone, my lord and his men are afield; the serving men in their beds, and my maidens also, and the door shut upon us. And since in this hour I have him that all men love, I shall use my time well with speech, while it lasts. Ye are welcome to my company, for it behoves me in sooth to be your servant.”

“In good faith,” quoth Gawain, “I think me that I am not him of whom ye speak, for unworthy am I of such service as ye here proffer. In sooth, I were glad if I might set myself by word or service to your pleasure; a pure joy would it be to me!”

“In good faith, Sir Gawain,” quoth the gay lady, “the praise and the prowess that pleases all ladies I lack them not, nor hold them light; yet are there ladies enough who would liever now have the knight in their hold, as I have ye here, to dally with your courteous words, to bring them comfort and to ease their cares, than much of the treasure and the gold that are theirs. And now, through the grace of Him who upholds the heavens, I have wholly in my power that which they all desire!”

Thus the lady, fair to look upon, made him great cheer, and Sir Gawain, with modest words, answered her again: “Madam,” he quoth, “may Mary requite ye, for in good faith I have found in ye a noble frankness. Much courtesy have other folk shown me, but the honour they have done me is naught to the worship of yourself, who knoweth but good.”

“By Mary,” quoth the lady, “I think otherwise; for were I worth all the women alive, and had I the wealth of the world in my hand, and might choose me a lord to my liking, then, for all that I have seen in ye, Sir Knight, of beauty and courtesy and blithe semblance, and for all that I have hearkened and hold for true, there should be no knight on earth to be chosen before ye!”

“Well I wot,” quoth Sir Gawain, “that ye have chosen a better; but I am proud that ye should so prize me, and as your servant do I hold ye my sovereign, and your knight am I, and may Christ reward ye.”

So they talked of many matters till mid-morn was past, and ever the lady made as though she loved him, and the knight turned her speech aside. For though she were the brightest of maidens, yet had he forborne to shew her love for the danger that awaited him, and the blow that must be given without delay.

Then the lady prayed her leave from him, and he granted it readily. And she gave him good-day, with laughing glance, but he must needs marvel at her words:

“Now He that speeds fair speech reward ye this disport; but that ye be Gawain my mind misdoubts me greatly.”

“Wherefore?” quoth the knight quickly, fearing lest he had lacked in some courtesy.

And the lady spake: “So true a knight as Gawain is holden, and one so perfect in courtesy, would never have tarried so long with a lady but he would of his courtesy have craved a kiss at parting.”

Then quoth Gawain, “I wot I will do even as it may please ye, and kiss at your commandment, as a true knight should who forbears to ask for fear of displeasure.”

At that she came near and bent down and kissed the knight, and each commended the other to Christ, and she went forth from the chamber softly.

Then Sir Gawain arose and called his chamberlain and chose his garments, and when he was ready he gat him forth to Mass, and then went to meat, and made merry all day till the rising of the moon, and never had a knight fairer lodging than had he with those two noble ladies, the elder and the younger.

And even the lord of the land chased the hinds through holt and heath till eventide, and then with much blowing of bugles and baying of hounds they bore the game homeward; and by the time daylight was done all the folk had returned to that fair castle. And when the lord and Sir Gawain met together, then were they both well pleased. The lord commanded them all to assemble in the great hall, and the ladies to descend with their maidens, and there, before them all, he bade the men fetch in the spoil of the day’s hunting, and he called unto Gawain, and counted the tale of the beasts, and showed them unto him, and said, “What think ye of this game, Sir Knight? Have I deserved of ye thanks for my woodcraft?”

“Yea, I wis,” quoth the other, “here is the fairest spoil I have seen this seven year in the winter season.”

“And all this do I give ye, Gawain,” quoth the host, “for by accord of covenant ye may claim it as your own.”

“That is sooth,” quoth the other, “I grant you that same; and I have fairly won this within walls, and with as good will do I yield it to ye.” With that he clasped his hands round the lord’s neck and kissed him as courteously as he might. “Take ye here my spoils, no more have I won; ye should have it freely, though it were greater than this.”

Gawain’s secret for success is that he, as a Christian, remains fervently devoted to the Virgin Mary. Mary corresponds on the Tree of Life to Binah-3 (בינה), The Great Sea, corresponding for a Thelemite to BABALON and also to the sea goddess Morgana. This male secret is known in the Ordo Templi Orientis as Chastity, and this text makes clear that it is compatible with, and even requires, sexual arousal. Though far from obvious, the brief reference to the beautiful, young wife being paired with an elder lady, as she had been when Gawain first saw her, refers to the sacred Woman as having a dual nature as Venus (Netzach-7; נצח) and Saturn (Binah-3; בינה). (If you are familiar with Wagner’s Parsifal, remember that its main female character, Kundry, also has a dual aspect as seductress and hag.)

The spoken references in the text to Mary, though made to seem casual and incidental, are not. Earlier in the tale than what I have quoted here, the reader learned that Gawain had ridden to this adventure bearing a shield with an image of the Virgin Mary on its inside surface, so that he could continually contemplate the image of the Queen of Heaven. This is wonderful advice for any A∴A∴ Neophyte—see only BABALON in the midst of all appearances. “For as thy blood is mingled in the cup of BABALON, so is thine heart the universal heart” (“Cry of the 5th Aethyr”).

Most tellingly of all, the reader will learn at the end of the tale that the Goddess Morgana is the real architect of the entire quest. Arguably, both the young noble lady and the elder are actually the Goddess Morgana in disguise. Unquestionably, though, Gawain invoked the Goddess and her tests when he volunteered for the quest at the beginning of the tale, the equivalent in the A∴A∴ of affirming that one has begun the magickal and spiritual journey by taking the Neophyte Oath. Like Gawain, a Neophyte must learn to recognize the Goddess in any disguise that She may don. A Neophyte must also learn to honor Her power without becoming either Her victim (male) or Her pawn (female). In Thelemic terms, Gawain is able to resist the seductions of the Melusina without rejecting her by keeping in mind that she is simply the outward form of his inner goddess, to whom he is ever-faithful. This text gives us an excellent allegory of how to take up “the shield and armor of Love.”

In summary, the Neophyte must remain alert at all times to the seductions and playful tricks of the Melusina, whether they be in the shape of a woman (oneself or another) or in the form of very-normal-seeming worldly distractions. The Neophyte is in constant danger of being pulled off the path, because he or she has invoked the formative power of the Goddess in Binah. The only defense against this terrible fate is to become like the central figure in the Tarot trump of The Universe, also corresponding to Saturn; he or she must take on the playful characteristics of Venus. The aspirant must learn to dance with those seductive appearances. He or she must learn to recognize in the center of all appearances the Queen of Heaven, who is after all his or her own feminine, formative nature, his or her own Goddess aspect. For women, the Goddess is her external aspect, and for men, She is his internal. Either way, regarding all appearances, the Adept loves and honors only Her, dedicating his or her whole self. Nuit adjures, “To me! To me!” (Liber AL vel Legis I:65). Through this wise recognition of the real nature of the Melusinian visions, the Neophyte becomes sure-footed on the road to marrying Heaven and Earth.

Love is the law, love under will.

Written this 29th Day of January, 2019 ev.
The Sun in Aquarius & the Moon in Sagittarius
In the Valley Of Berkeley, California
by Soror Absorbeo 410 5=6 A∴A∴


The Three Chiefs

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

Inherited from the original Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, the Outer College of A∴A∴ and the Ordo R.C. are governed by a Triad of Officers: The Cancellārius1 (Chancellor), Imperātor2, & the Præmonstrātor3. Both ideally and symbolically, they are members of the Second Order and provide not only a governing body for the Outer Order G.D. (the Order which is both largest and requires far more need of such governance), but provide in and of themselves a certain function in relation to one another that is instructive regarding members of the Ordo R.C. and their relations one to another in the hierarchy. It is intended to provide a brief account of them here, so that the general membership may acquire some basic understanding of what these Officers are as well as of their function.

On July 29, 1906 e.v. we find in Crowley’s Record4: “Sunday night. D.D.S. and P. discuss a new Order. D.D.S. wants Authority. I should write and say, ‘Perfect the lightning-conductor and the flash will come.’”, but it wasn’t until November 15 of the following year that he wrote “Saw D.D.S. and got him to consent to O.” In this he meant the initial governing Triad, which in the beginning consisted of Jones as Præmonstrātor and Crowley as Imperātor, yet due to the lack of anyone of sufficient Grade, a Probationer by the name of J.F.C. Fuller was chosen as acting Cancellārius. Almost throughout the existence of the Order since, it has been the case that, because of a lack of sufficient Adepts, at least one of the governing Chiefs not been of sufficient Grade!

While the above is of historical interest, it gives me the opportunity to delve into a fact that very few seem to realize: The Offices are intimately related to specific Grades, and symbolically represent such, regardless of the Grade of the person functionally acting in that position. Understanding this, the honorary holding of such a Grade for that purpose then becomes easier to understand.

Their relationship was first explained in a Second Order Golden Dawn document called “Z.1 The Enterer of the Threshold”5, and they are as follows:

They are reflected into the Outer Order as Hod reflecting the Water of Chesed, Netzach the Fire of Gevurah, and Yesod the Air of Tifareth. But much more can be discovered about them, and how they relate to the Grades associated with them from “One Star in Sight”:

Præmonstrātor Imperātor Cancellārius
7=4 6=5 5=6
Chesed Gevurah Tifareth
to instruct to command to record

The Præmonstrātor (7=4) and its corresponding Grade “confers authority to govern the two lower Orders of R. C. and G. D.” and “…will…be known as the leader of a school of thought.” Not only is this true for the Office of Præmonstrātor, who in essence maintains both the type and quality of the instruction of the Outer College (and in a sense all Grades below his or her own), but as is well known all Exempt Adepti must set forth their own ideas in published form. While the Order has certain set criteria for advancement, how this is brought about, and making sure this is done in some consistent form, is for him to set about; but he or she has a very important Task, and to that end cannot see to every rule being followed out once he or she has set it down, or in most cases given the order for instruction to continue as is. That is the Task of his or her immediate inferior.

The Imperātor (6=5) is there to carry out the word of his or her Superior. As anyone of even moderate military rank knows, one cannot go to one’s Superior for every little thing. One has to know the letter, and put it into action with “absolute Self-Reliance, working in complete isolation, yet transmitting the word of his superior clearly, forcibly and subtly6”. “His work is to use these to support the authority of the Exempt Adept his superior. (This is not to be understood as an obligation of personal subservience or even loyalty; but as a necessary part of his duty to assist his inferiors. For the authority of the Teaching and governing Adept is the basis of all orderly work.)”. While the essay here appears to be speaking only of any Major Adept, it is clear how this applies to the job of the Imperātor, and it takes very little to see that every Adeptus Major, in the line from his or her Instructor down to the last Student, is in fact in one sense an Imperātor!

The Cancellārius (5=6) or Chancellor is generally the most well-known of the governing Triad, as he or she is the face of the Order to all new applicants. He or she is “to manifest the Beauty of the Order to the world, in the way that his superiors enjoin, and his genius dictates.” which, on the personal level of any Adeptus Minor, is exactly what the Cancellārius does for the Order as a whole. He or she not only records, but keeps records of all members, providing a central file so that, should any member lose touch with their Instructor through the latter’s death or the like, they will not be then shut out from the Order by way of a break in the chain. The Cancellārius provides for the examination of Students, and answers all queries directed towards the Order.

These Three Officers work together in a unique way, and in practice if one office is vacant another is voted into it by the other two. Agreement between them in such cases is important for harmonious functioning of the Triad as whole; and this is particularly true for the Cancellārius, who is in effect the public face of the Order. Other lineages may handle these latter interactions differently, but in the early birth pangs of our own, as its own being, have found these rules to be of immense practical value.

Thus far concerning the Three Chiefs of the A∴A∴.

Love is the law, love under will.

B., Præmonstrātor 7=4


[1] Lat. “secretary”; fem. Cancellāria.
[2] Lat. “commander; chief”; fem. Imperātrix.
[3] Lat. “one who points out beforehand; guide, director”; fem. Imperātrix.
[4] The Equinox V:4, Sex & Religion, (Nashville: Thelema Publishing Co., 1981).
[5] The Golden Dawn, ed. Israel Regardie (Llewellyn, 1992).
[6] These words also have another meaning, not obviously relevant to the present subject.

Working the A∴A∴ System

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

Since the death of Frater O.M. in 1947 and Frater D.D.S. a few years later, there have been no universal Chiefs of the A∴A∴. Crowley’s appointed successor in the O.T.O., S∴H∴ Frater Saturnus (Karl Germer), 8°=3⸋, was also one of the senior living A∴A∴ members at Crowley’s death, and many turned to him for guidance. After Germer’s death, there clearly was no one who emerged visibly as a central guiding figure.

      This does not mean, however—as some have suggested— that the A∴A∴ ceased to exist or to function as a manifest Order. The central unit of the A∴A∴’s functioning is the work of a given teacher with a given student.

      It is written that an A∴A∴ member only officially knows his or her own teacher, and any students that the member may have admitted to the system. This instruction has given rise to a lot of silliness and paranoid secrecy by people who have overlooked or misunderstood the word “officially.” Let me, then, say plainly that this secrecy is not required. Nor does it accord with the published working descriptions of the A∴A∴ system.

      For example, in one grade, the Imperator and Praemonstrator of the Order specially evaluate the aspirant, even if neither of these officers is his or her Superior. In each grade, one’s Superior is instructed to file the record of one’s admission or advancement with the Cancellarius (see Liber 185). Also, responsibility for a student “floats uphill.” The senior member of a lineage” is ultimately responsible for the work not only of his or her own students, but of their students, and their students, and their students ….

      Finally, one’s membership in A∴A∴ simply is not secret; in fact, as explained more fully in Chapter 2, quite the opposite may be true, depending on circumstances.

      The real purpose of the rule not officially to know other members in general is that peers are not to work together. As Frater O.M. wrote in One Star in Sight:

“The real object of the rule was to prevent Members of the same Grade working together and so blurring each other’s individuality; also to prevent work developing into social intercourse.”

      A member may (in a limited way) work with those ahead of him or behind, but not those who are undergoing the same processes through which he also is passing.

      Also, even though there is no world governing authority of the A∴A∴., its continued governance on Earth is ensured by the responsibility borne by each member for his or her students, and the continuity of the lineal descent implied by membership. Although not of an episcopal character, this lineal succession and continuity is no less ‘apostolic'” than that on which the Church of Rome is built. A given lineage of the A∴A∴ may have its own Chiefs – Praemonstrator, Imperator, Cancellarius – who only bear authority with respect to those students for whom they are responsible.

      Occasionally I encounter a person who informs me that he (so far it always has been a “he”) is in the A∴A∴. On further discussion, it becomes evident that, by this, he means he has acquired the appropriate books and is doing his best, on his own to follow the Order’s curriculum. This effort is worthy of praise. Any such work stands an excellent chance of yielding some sort of profit (or even a prophet!). But it is not A∴A∴; nor has the Student any assurance, without supervision, that he is working correctly. Inherent in the very definition of the A∴A∴ system is the condition of direct transmission of a linkage from teacher to student; and the ceremony of admitting a Probationer is based on this reality.

      For those who have no teacher, and wish to undertake the work as best they can alone, this present book should provide more than a little help; but let the student not fool himself into thinking that an authentic linkage is irrelevant. On the other hand, since all of the essential instructions are openly published, a given aspirant may have all that he or she needs to take up the Great Work and bring it to conclusion. Having considered the matter, let each make his or her own decision accordingly.

      Something needs to be said concerning the adaptation of the formal A∴A∴ system to the individual needs of a particular aspirant. First, let it be clear that the system is inherently individual, even though the assignments are precise and the thresholds invariable. There is no contradiction between a firm curriculum and individual needs; for the formal curriculum is merely that, a defining form within which the personal development of each seeker occurs. Although the grade assignments (discussed in detail in the chapters to come) designate specific thresholds which must be confronted and surpassed, the real work is often behind the scenes, in the response of the student’s character, environment, and karma to the parameters of passage. There always must be the latitude or freedom to look behind the letter of an assignment and dis­cover its spirit; nor can any person, no matter how wise, know in advance exactly what is required by the soul of another. But these are the exceptions which confirm the basic pattern; and never must they be allowed to become excuses for bypassing or avoiding an honest assignment due to some inner resistance or inability to perform it.

      Although I have been careful to make this book descriptive of the A∴A∴ pattern per se, rather than of my own personal Path, a couple of personal anecdotes may be appropriate in this Introduction to emphasize these last points. Those with experience say that at least one of the Outer College grades is especially hard, and at least one especially easy, for each aspirant. In my own case, I spent seven years in one grade, and only one month in another; nor was either of these the outcome I would have guessed in advance. The grade that—based on my personality and prior experience—I thought would take the least time of all, actually took many times longer than I would ever have guessed.

      By hindsight, however, the reasons for all of this are now quite clear to me. At each stage, the Holy Guardian Angel has Its own ideas (if I may be forgiven for the anthropomorphization) of what transformations are to be accomplished, what work is to be done. During the grade that lasted for seven years, I needed every one of those years to accomplish much that was not listed in the formal assignments, but which my life made evident to me. Then, having put off for more than six and a half years an assignment that I was sure would take a couple of years to perfect, I took up the neglected task and mastered it in about two months. This is not boasting. It is profound humility. I had little to do with it. The Angel had Its own schedule and plans.

      On another occasion, I had completed every formal requirement of a certain grade but one, the memorization of 27 short sentences. Even though I had previously memorized ten times that much of similar material, I sat for nearly two years, seemingly going no place, entirely blocked on that one task. I now know that it simply took the extra time for me to be ripened inwardly on certain points; and that I still had more work to do in that stage, whether I knew it then or not.

      The main point here is that following the A:.A:. system cannot fail to be a most intimately personal journey, if it is pursued earnestly and wholeheartedly.

• • • •

      From the foregoing, we now turn to the secular. Perhaps money should not be an issue where purely spiritual matters are concerned; yet both the practical exigencies of books and other supplies on one hand, and the unstable thoughts and emotions routinely excited by considerations of cash on the other, require that we address the matter of money and the A∴A∴, if but to lay it to rest. Fortunately, we have a perfectly clear instruction in the essay One Star in Sight:

“There is however an absolute prohibition to accept money or other material reward, directly or indirectly, in respect to any service connected with the Order, for personal profit or advantage. The penalty is immediate expulsion, with no possibility of reinstatement on any terms soever.”

      Unfortunately, even the plainest statements are not likely to be understood if read superficially. For example, the above does not mean that there is no exchange of money. On the contrary, that most canonical of A∴A∴documents, Liber 185, instructs that the Neophyte and Zelator shall each pay a certain sum, prior to initiation, in exchange for certain documents.

     Additionally, we must consider the more subtle circumstances of the original A∴A∴ Student program. As is detailed in Chapter 1 of this book, Crowley eventually required that, before any person could be admitted as an A∴A∴ Probationer, they must possess approximately two dozen spe­cific books, 80% of which were written and/or published by Crowley. However, this apparent commerce did not violate the A∴A∴ rule stated above. Crowley made a habit of selling his books for a price barely above cost. He diverted any small surplus of funds back into the support of the Great Work—generally for more publishing.

      Nor did he hesitate to ask others for direct financial contributions to the Order, and especially toward its publishing program. According to the evidence, he was ruthlessly honest in using such donations strictly for the purposes designated, and not for personal ends.

      The relevant rule, it will be recalled, is that no A∴A∴ member is to receive, with respect to the Order, any money or other material reward for personal profit or advantage. At the same time, we are equally admonished in our most sacred text, The Book of the Law: “Establish at thy Kaaba a clerk-house: all must be done well and with business way.”

      It is a hallowed principle within all authentic initiatory schools that initiation is not for sale. Spirit may not be bought. Enlightenment is not a marketable commodity. The “Gold of the Wise” is an interior gold immeasurably more valuable than coin; or, more accurately, the two are incommensurable.


Love is the law, love under will.

J.A. Eshelman


*Excerpted from  The Mystical & Magical System of the A∴A∴ by James A. Eshelman (All rights reserved)

For more of Jim’s writings, visit, and the message board at

On the Relationship Between a Probationer and His or Her Neophyte

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

“The Chancellor of A∴A∴ views without satisfaction the practice of Probationers working together. A Probationer should work with his Neophyte, or alone. Breach of this rule may prove a bar to advancement.”
—Official pronouncement, The Equinox, I:5.

At the very beginning of one’s approach to the Order known by the initials “A∴A∴”, one is confronted with the daunting Task of studying what, at first, seems to be a rather hefty set of books for a minimum of three months. After this time, the Student may request his or her Exam (which is “open book”, by the way) and, should he or she apply him or herself in answering the questions to the satisfaction of the Brother or Sister appointed to evaluate these matters, the Student is then immediately passed on to a member of the Order of the Grade of Neophyte 1=10 who shall receive him or her as a Probationer 0=0.

As all Probationers know, the Ceremony of Reception is a simple one, the general characteristics being that he listens to the reading of Liber LXI (Causæ): The History Lection, the Task of a Probationer, and after considering the matter for a time, takes and signs the Oath of a Probationer. No other single action at this grade is as significant, and some hold it to be the only necessary initiation one must take within the Order.

The principal business of the Probationer is to “begin such practices as he may prefer, and to write a careful record of the same for one year.”1 While there is an extensive curriculum from which the Probationer may choose, and even further all potential practices are open to him or her, it is suggested that one choose from the curriculum given as that material is what the Probationer and his or her Neophyte have in common: It is nearly impossible for one’s Neophyte to gauge the merits or demerits of a practice of which he or she has not even heard; hence the injunction that the very first time the Probationer enters such a practice into his or her Record he or she describes it fully, so at the least the Neophyte has some clue to what is even being done.

Frater O.M. 7=4 (Aleister Crowley) referred to the Instructor2 as “the sparring-partner of the pupil”. This implies that the Instructor may not always say what the student wants to hear…in fact, he shouldn’t! For if all he or she tells the student is what the student wants to believe, is not the student living in a room full or mirrors? What effect, then, has the Instructor had on the student, other than to more fully involve the student with him or herself in a narcissistic way?

At the heading of this short epistle was a quote from the editorial of The Equinox I:5. This was not lightly done: What I have seen since we have begun to take on several new members contacted online is the very problem that they have taken on too many instructors, be they people, blogs, websites, or the like. By taking in so many varying points the student does not have a chance to build his or her own foundation from which he or she can then alter things to their satisfaction: As the old saying goes, one has to know the rules to break them! Study the curriculum given; that is enough for any assiduous student, and doing otherwise demonstrates that the Probationer is not putting enough time into the material originally assigned! There is far more in Liber E and Liber O than many suspect, and I agree with Israel Regardie that the perceptive student could spend years on each paper!

The other issue is people: Many, if not most, of us, are members of some other magical society or group. This is to be expected, and one cannot reasonably leave these for a year or more during one’s period as a Probationer of A∴A∴. If you are a Freemason or Martinist, go to your lodge, etc. Such things are not a problem and no one could reasonably ask you to stop doing so. What is problematic is engaging another in one’s personal Work during your tenure as a Probationer. This kind of problem is, I believe, one of the primary reasons that that pronouncement was made in the first place back in 1911 e.v.

This is not an issue of control; far from it. The purpose of working alone is so that the Instructor can learn about you, and you alone. Once someone else becomes involved, the Instructor must wonder: “Is this the student’s insight, or was it given to him/her by another?”; “Did the student accomplish this, or was it due to the presence of the other?” These kinds of questions, as you can see, make it extremely difficult to assess the Probationer for advancement! And even if said Probationer was advanced in the outer sense, the “bar to advancement” clause is still valid, as he or she would have been advanced to a grade for which they were not spiritually prepared. In a nutshell, as Scientific Illuminists, the experiment would be tainted.

Wishing all Fratres and Sorores the very best in the Great Work!

Love is the law, love under will.

Frater בֶָּבלה
February 8, 2014 e.v., 16:19


[1] From ‘One Star in Sight’, found in Magick: Book IV, Liber ABA (Weiser, 1997), p. 489

[2] Crowley used the term ‘Superior’ in his time to refer to that relationship in the Order. We have followed the practice of Frater Adjuvo 2=9 (Marcelo Motta) in using ‘Instructor’; for how can a “King” have a “Superior”?