Notes on the Publication of Liber OZ

“Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law”

Liber OZ,* which Crowley initially referred to as the “War Aims of the new Aeon”, was compiled over several months in the latter part of 1941 and during the second World War.  This Proclamation of Man’s rights, drew almost entirely from two previously written sources; Liber AL vel Legis and the rituals of the Ordo Templi Orientis.

With the war raging in Europe, Crowley was confronted with Man’s need for change and desperately wanted to tear down the barriers of old aeonic thinking.  With OZ, he was able to focus the full force of his Magical intent towards this end.  To Crowley, OZ was one of several propaganda pieces he would produce in efforts to aid the war; but it was also a Magical talismans written with the explicit purpose of causing change in the world – and in direct response to conditions Crowley viewed as tyrannical or oppressive in nature.  It’s a Magical proclamation expounding upon the Law of Thelema with the aim of guiding humanity forward, and Crowley believed, provided a practical code of ethics for all Thelemites.


Astrology chart presented to Mortlake.
           

Crowley completed his first full draft on the morning of October 10, 1941 and then decided to share it with Gerald Yorke, Harold Mortlake, and Robert Cecil- the latter while chatting with him at the Masons Arms, a pub not far from where Crowley lived. Mortlake was a friend of Gerald Yorke and a local bookseller. Crowley recorded in his journal that all three “highly approved” of War Aims and that Cecil and he shared “a very pleasant talk, all too short.”  Crowley, who often prepared charts for acquaintances, later presented Mortlake with a chart penned on the obverse side of an early OZ printer proof.

A month later, on the 15th of December, Crowley wrote to his dear friend, Louis Wilkinson: “…it has been rather fun preparing Liber LXXVII: the Book of the Goat. I am so absorbed into my own spiritual blotting – paper (queer usage, but somehow it seems apt!) that the publication of this Manifesto—I thought of calling it goat’s Milk, with a glance in your direction—may amount to a Magical Gesture.  I could ensure this, I suppose, by doing something idiotic in public at the moment of the Solstice.  Well, well, if it does count as a gesture, we may look for a bloody great Revolution of some sort at the Autumnal Equinox.”

Crowley issued Liber OZ on the morning of December 21, 1941 during the Winter Solstice.  He recorded the names of the first eleven recipients, each a leader in their particular industry. These were: 1) Literature – H.G. Wells, 2) Peerage & Press & Air – Lord Edward Donegal, 3) Medicine – Ivor Back, 4) Art – G.F. Kelly, 5) Army – General Fuller, 6) Navy – Sir R Keyes, 7) Agriculture – FW Hylton, 8) Law – Lord Maugham, 9) Church – Vicar of St. George, 10) Trade – Allchild, 11) BBC and Stage – Esme Percy. Crowley records the exact time that he mailed this first batch of 11 as “9¾ AM”. It wasn’t unprecedented for Crowley to record who received the first copies of his latest publication; This was, in fact – somewhat common.  However, the early copies were usually reserved for members of the A∴ A∴, O.T.O. or close associates.  But, in this case Crowley purposely chose influential individuals throughout society, waited for the proper Magical moment and recorded the exact time of issuance. By distributing OZ in this manner Crowley was planting seeds, to what he hoped would be, “a bloody great Revolution.”

There were two versions of the first edition of OZ issued.  Both printed by Apex Printing and identical in every way, save that one featured a picture of the Devil Atu and the other, that of the Aeon. 300 in total were printed, (50 Devil and 250 of the Aeon).  It was a single sheet of paper, printed on both sides measuring 7 1/2″ x 4 3/4”. Formally “Published by the O.T.O. at the Abbey of Thelema, Rainbow Valley, Palomar Mountains, California.  And at Hanover Square, London, W.1. An lxv Sol in O° Capricornus”.  Both versions are printed in a dark blue hue which matched the print on the obverse side.  These cards were also the first official publication of any of the Thoth deck’s images.

We have attached color scans (verso & recto) of both versions; note the error in line two where the letter L in the word “Law” should be capitalized – unfortunately this error was repeated on all editions of OZ published by Crowley and has subsequently made its way into several modern editions.  I should also point out that in the first line of section 2 the word “the” is repeated.  However this error is limited to just the early English editions or copies thereof. (see image below for the 1st English edition)

The first American edition was published by W. T. Smith out of Los Angeles, California; and though printed sometime around February 1st of 1942, it bears the same date as the first English edition which has caused some confusion among collectors who at times mistake Smith’s edition for the first edition. Fortunately, they are distinguishable in every other regard. (see images below for the 1st American edition)

Throughout this period a social experiment known as the Mass Observation project became somewhat of a cultural fad in England.  Beginning in 1937, it was a research project whose goal was to record the everyday life and thoughts of the common citizen and was at its peak of popularity during the second world war.  Hundreds volunteered their time and effort to poll their fellow citizens, recording their thoughts on a wide variety of issues. Others agreed to keep a daily journal for the sake of the project.  Everything from bathroom behavior to sexual proclivities, etc., was examined, polled and tabulated.  The published results fascinated the British people and today this vast archive of film, pictures, journals, and interviews is housed at the University in Sussex, England.  Crowley, ever the opportunist, seized the occasion to piggy-back on the project’s success and encouraged initiates to hit the streets and poll the general populace’s response to Liber OZ and report back to him their findings.  He also encouraged them to post copies around town, nailing them “to church and town hall doors” – from here stems the tradition of sharing OZ while engaging others in conversation regarding the Law of Thelema.

                   Liber OZ; The Oriflamme Vol 1 No. II.

The final edition of OZ released during Crowley’s lifetime was published in The Oriflamme (Vol. 1 No. 11) on the 21st of June, 1945.  Also included in this volume was a brief introduction to the O.T.O. along with the Preliminary Pledge form, a short list of available publications, and Crowley’s poem “Anthem” from Thumbs Up!. This publication of OZ bears a distinction from all others, in that W.T. Smith added a footnote to section 5 (“Man has the right to kill those who would thwart these rights.”) which directs the reader to “See 2nd Amendment, Constitution of The United States”—which is the right to bear arms. I am unaware of any other occasion wherein OZ is footnoted in an official publication of the Ordo Templi Orientis.  I am unaware of any correspondence which verify that Crowley was aware of this footnote.  However, generally speaking – we do know that Crowley was not opposed to the private ownership of  firearms having himself obtained a Firearm Certificate for a Webley 45 Revolver while living at 89 Park Mansions, Knightsbridge, London in the early 1930’s.  So it is entirely plausible that he may of approved of Smith’s alteration.

Believing that Liber OZ was perfectly suited for attracting new aspirants to the O.T.O.—most especially in the United States, Crowley continued to urge Order members to share it with acquaintances right up to his death in December of 1947. 

Today, OZ is in all likelihood the most widely published, distributed, and recognizable of Crowley’s works—a true cornerstone of the Thelemic community.  In the end, it would be Crowley’s last Proclamation to Mankind – and arguably his finest; as relevant today, as it was to the war-torn Europe of the 1940’s.

“Love is the law, love under will”

 

*These notes have been excerpted from “On the Rights of Man” —A study by Frater Orpheus.


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The Official Seals of the Officers of the A∴ A∴

“Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law”

Rarely seen outside of the Order –are the original seals of its Officers as per Crowley design.  Being that these seals are wax, they are fragile and very few have survived undamaged into modern times. For example, here are images of both Jane Wolfe and Wilford T. Smith’s Probationer Oaths. The condition of these seals with little to no remnants is typical of what is most often found.  Below are a few images of the rare original seals still mostly intact.


 

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Jane Wolfe´s Probationer Oath


Wilford T. Smith Probationer OathWilford T. Smith´s Probationer Oath


For those of you who don’t know the Oath of the Probationer came affixed with four seals each corresponding to an Officer.  These are: The Cancellarius (5=6), the Imperator (6=5), the Praemonstrator (7=4) and the seal of V.V.V.V.V. (8=3).

Each seal is impressed upon the colored wax which corresponds to the Officers Grade and position on the Tree of life (as per the King scale listed in 777). That being – Pink rose for 5=6, Orange for 6=5, Deep violet for 7=4 and Crimson red for 8=3 and corresponding with Tiphareth, Geburah, Chesed and Binah; or Sun, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn.


Oath Detail

Oath Detail


R: 197 G: 255 B: 102 X:54188 Y: 0 S: 0 Z: 51 F: 202

5=6 Cancellarius Seal


6=5 Seal Detail

6=5 Imperator Seal


7=4 Seal Detail

7=4 Praemonstrator Seal


8=3 Seal Detail

8=3 Magister Templi Seal


It is interesting to note that while the seals of the officers are given in the King scale the original designs for the officer’s robes reflect that of the Queen scale. (The Robe being that which is said to conceal and protect and varied according to Grade and Nature).  The King scale is said to represent the root of color and the Archetypal World while the Queen scale is said to be the first positive appearance of color and represents the Creative World – The former is believed to be transparent while the latter is reflective.

All four seals feature the eye of Wedjat, also known as the Eye of Horus or Ra. Some traditions have it representing the Sun when the right eye and the Moon when the left; in either case it is considered to have restorative and revitalizing qualities and appears as the classic Egyptian “Eye” we are all familiar with.

The seal of the Cancellarius is the classic Eye in the triangle imagery and consists of twelve sets of three rays.  The Imperator seal is an inverted triangle with Eye and no rays.  That of the Praemonstrator is a basic shield design with an Eye at the center and finally, the seal of a Magister Templi is of an Eye surrounded by five V’s forming an upright pentagram; This being a symbol that Crowley believed was given to him by the “Secret Masters”.

(Note that surrounding each of the lower three seals are found the initials of the officer motto given in Hebrew letters and Crowley’s 8=3 motto is utilized on the final seal).

“Love is the law, love under will”


Original VVVVV Detail

Original V.V.V.V.V. Seal (8=3)


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAModern V.V.V.V.V. Seal


Modern SampleModern Oath Sample


Modern Detail

Modern Seal Detail


Remembering Soror Meral

“Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law”

Eleven years ago today Phyllis Seckler, AKA Soror Meral, Celebrated her Greater Feast. She was the first Thelemite I ever knew and the first I called teacher, but most importantly she was a dear friend. Someone who taught me how to BE a Thelemite.

Phyllis was initiated into the O.T.O. in 1939. With Crowley’s consent she was received as a Student of the A∴A∴ under Jane Wolfe in 1940. She would later be elevated to 5=6 of the A∴A∴ and a IX degree of the O.T.O. by Karl Germer: who was himself directly appointed by Aleister Crowley. When Germer died in 1962 Soror Meral was the most senior member of the A∴A∴ and continued on in this work right up until her own death in 2004.

Phyllis also married Grady McMurtry (albeit in Mexico) and together they worked to reconstitute the O.T.O. as we have it today. She would also receive Grady as a Probationer of the A∴A∴ in 1970. Several years later Grady swore the Oath of the Abyss and shortly thereafter Phyllis moved to expel him. But Grady now claimed a Grade higher then her own. For this and many other reasons their relationship was turbulent for the remainder of Grady’s life and Phyllis never accepted his claims in regard to A∴A∴ – Yet what can’t be denied is the absolute influence these two would have on the modern Thelemic landscape.

Though not always in agreement, Phyllis work has none the less spawned at minimum four current and active claimant groups of the A∴A∴ and I personally applaud all those who carry on in her stead. Counting among my dearest friends, members throughout these groups, I can assure you that one thing we can all agree on was her Light. She is missed and her influence profound.

Yesterday I visited with some dear friends in northern CA and at some point of the evening the conversation turned to Phyllis and we shared stories of our memories of her and looked at some pictures of her house and garden… and I was reminded just how wonderful of an astrology teacher she was as I recounted a story of how she often (at random) would pull the chart of some famous person, but without the persons personal information attached, and charge us with the task of identifying the individual based upon their traits; an exercise I much enjoyed and it sure beat listening to those Regardie tapes of hers.

The final photo in this set is of two of Phyllis personal temple implements. One always kept in her Fire alter and the other always sat upon her Water alter. These were her implements of Consecration and Purification. They were given to her by her Teacher Jane Wolfe who carried them with her in Cefalu when she was doing her A∴A∴ work under Crowley.

1) Phyllis at Golden Gate Park
2) Making a toast
3) In her Temple (which was located in her basement)
4) Jane and Phyllis’s Water and Fire implements.

“Love is the law, love under will”


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The Star in the West

“Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law”

Here is something you won’t see every day. It is a first edition of J. F. C. Fuller’s “The Star in the West” — A Critical Essay Upon the Works of Aleister Crowley – (1907). Singed by both Crowley and Fuller. This limited edition which was done in cream buckram decorated and lettered in gilt on both the spine and front board and limited to 100 copies; this being number 25.

This particular copy has a unique history and is inscribed by Crowley, reading, “To my Darling ZUHRAH the lustre of the Stars – With a lover’s love. “Turn by the Grace these Dregs into Pure Wine.” 20th July 1907.

The inscription is to Vera Snepp a young 17yr old actress whom Crowley had an affair with when he was 32. She acted under the name of Vera Neville though she called herself Lola and was the inspiration for Crowley’s daughters’ name, Lola Zaza. She was a romantic interest he met just as he was about to break with his wife Rose and who deeply affected him.

Crowley dedicated Gargoyles to Lola and wrote that she inspired the Maiden/virgin of the “Wake World” and “Clouds Without Water.”

“At Coulsdon, at the very moment when my conjugal cloudburst was impending, I had met one of the most exquisitely beautiful young girls, by English standards, that ever breathed and blushed. She did not appeal to me only as a man; she was the very incarnation of my dreams as a poet. Her name was Vera; but she called herself “Lola”. To her I dedicated Gargoyles with a little prose poem, and the quatrain (in the spirit of Catullus) ‘Kneel down, dear maiden o’mine.’ It was after her that my wife called the new baby!”

In his dedication to Gargoyles he calls her Lola Bentrovata which has a double meaning. In the end it was to be a very short lived but very powerful love affair, what we don’t know is why Crowley never gave her this copy. It showed up in the private archives of a well know English collector. Initially the inscription was covered over by a picture from the equinox but this was carefully removed when the owner noticed something underneath. I was contacted by a good friend who sells these sort of items out of New York, to help identify it.

The inscription is from the story of Salaman and Absal, an allegorical story of carnal attraction between a Prince and his wet-nurse. Written by the famous Persian prophet Jami and translated by Fitzgerald in 1904.

Oh God! This poor bewildered Kurd am I,

Than any Kurd more helpless!—Oh, do thou
Strike down a Ray of Light into my Darkness!
Turn by thy Grace these Dregs into pure Wine,
To recreate the Spirits of the Good!
Or if not that, yet, as the little Cup
Whose Name I go by, not unworthy found
To pass thy salutary Vintage round!

The definition of the word Zurah is Venus, the Morning and Evening Star, and the perfect name for a young maiden… given as 276 in Liber 777… which coincidently is also the value of Meral and represents a certain Lunar formula.

“Love is the law, love under will”

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