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.
*Excerpted from The Mystical & Magical System of the A∴A∴ by James A. Eshelman (All rights reserved)
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
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.
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.
Feb 15, 2019
 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.
 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.
 In the guru-śiṣya tradition this is called Paramparā.
 In the guru-śiṣya tradition this is called Sampradāya.
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”:
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□
 Lat. “secretary”; fem. Cancellāria.  Lat. “commander; chief”; fem. Imperātrix.  Lat. “one who points out beforehand; guide, director”; fem. Imperātrix.  The Equinox V:4, Sex & Religion, (Nashville: Thelema Publishing Co., 1981).  The Golden Dawn, ed. Israel Regardie (Llewellyn, 1992).  These words also have another meaning, not obviously relevant to the present subject.
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.
*Excerpted from The Mystical & Magical System of the A∴A∴ by James A. Eshelman (All rights reserved)
“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.
February 8, 2014 e.v., 16:19
 From ‘One Star in Sight’, found in Magick: Book IV, Liber ABA (Weiser, 1997), p. 489
 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”?
Imprimātur is Latin for “let it be printed”. The term has been widely used by the Catholic Church in two senses: a) in old times, for authorizing the publication of a book, otherwise to be censored; b) in modern times, as an endorsement of the contents of a book, stating they represent the view of the Church. The Imprimātur must be issued by a proper Authority from the Church.
In A∴A∴, the Imprimātur is used as a way to issue certain writings as official instructions of the Order, and in most of the cases it also assigns a number and a class to that instruction.
An official instruction of A∴A∴usually is called a liber, Latin for “book”, and its plural form is librī, “books”.
Most of the librī of A∴A∴and O.T.O. are assigned to a Roman number:
Liber III vel Jugorum.
Liber Trigrammaton sub figūra XXVII.
Liber CCCXXXV, Adonis.
“Title sub figūra x” is Latin for “Title under the number x”.
Those numbers do not follow a sequential order: A Note on Genesisis attributed to the number MMCMXI (2911), but it is not the 2911th official instruction of A∴A∴.
Actually the numbers are chosen as a reference to the nature of the liber itself:
Liber III vel Jugorum: “III. Refers to the threefold method given, and to the Triangle as a binding force.”
Liber Trigrammaton sub figūra XXVII: “XXVII. The number of permutations of 3 things taken 3 at a time, and (of course) the cube of 3.”
Liber CCCXXXV, Adonis: “CCCXXXV. The Numeration of Adonis in Greek.”
In The Equinox Vol. I No. 10, Crowley explains the A∴A∴classification system:
The publications of the A∴A∴divide themselves into four classes.
Class “A” consists of books of which may be changed not so much as the style of a letter: that is, they represent the utterance of an Adept entirely beyond the criticism of even the Visible Head of the Organization.
Class “B” consists of books or essays which are the result of ordinary scholarship, enlightened and earnest.
Class “C” consists of matter which is to be regarded rather as suggestive than anything else.
Class “D” consists of the Official Rituals and Instructions.
Some publications are composite, and pertain to more than one class.
In 1919, Crowley started to issue Class “E” publications:
Class “E” consists of public announcements and broadsheets.
The Three Chiefs
When the A∴A∴was founded, it inherited the three ruling offices from its predecessor Order, the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. Such offices are explained in the Ritual of the Neophyte of the H.O.G.D. as published in The Equinox Vol I. No. 2:
The Three Chiefs
At the East of the Temple before Paroketh sit the three Chiefs who govern and rule all things and are the viceroys in the Temple of the Second Order beyond. They are the reflections therein of the 7°=4°, 6°=5°, and 5°=6° Grades, and are neither comprehended in, nor understood by, the Outer Order. They represent, as it were, Veiled Divinities […]
Now the Imperator governeth, because in Netzach — which is the highest grade of the First Order — is the fire reflected from Geburah.
The Praemonstrator is second, because in Hod is the water reflected from Chesed.
The Cancellarius is third, because in Yesod is the air reflected from Tiphereth.
But in each Temple these three chiefs are coeternal and coequal, thus figuring the Triad in Unity, yet are their functions different:
The Imperator to command
The Praemonstrator to instruct.
The Cancellarius to record.
Other functions are mentioned, for example: Chancellor (see the first pages of The Equinox Vol. I Nos. 7-10), Praemonstrātor-General (see Book Four Parts 1 and 2), and Grand-Neophyte (see One Star in Sight), but we do not have much information on them.
Certain librī list officers in the Imprimātur page, others don’t.
At the time A∴A∴was founded, these were the three chiefs of the Order, ruling from the Collēgiō Internō (Inner College) and authorizing all official instructions:
Frater D.D.S., George Cecil Jones, as the Praemonstrātor. He was an Adeptus Exemptus 7○=4□.
Frater O.M., Aleister Crowley, as the Imperātor. He was a newly formed Magister Templi 8○=3□, however, since the office of Imperātor is attributed to Geburah, his 6○=5□ motto is listed.
Frater N.S.F., John Frederick Charles Fuller, as the Cancellārius. He was only a Probationer 0○=0□, but in order to serve as the Cancellārius, he received an honorary 5○=6□.
Eventually Jones and Fuller withdrew from A∴A∴ and Crowley became the sole leader. Crowley still regarded Jones as Praemonstrātor in later years, but Fuller was completely disregarded:
The Chancellor of the A∴A∴ wishes to warn readers of The Equinox against accepting instruction in his name from an ex-Probationer, Captain J. F. C. Fuller, whose motto was “Per Ardua.” This person never advanced beyond the Degree of Probationer, never sent in a record, and has presumably neither performed practices nor obtained results. He has not, and never has had, authority to give instructions in the name of the A∴A∴.
In 1919, a new governing triad was announced in The Equinox Vol. III No. 1. Now the Chiefs were chosen from the External College (prō Collēgiō Externō):
Frater V.N., George Cecil Jones, as the Praemonstrātor.
Frater P., Aleister Crowley, as the Imperātor.
Frater Achad, Charles Stansfeld Jones, as the Cancellārius.
Note that these are all magickal mottos for Grades below Tiphereth.
George Cecil Jones was no longer involved with A∴A∴since around 1911, but Crowley still recognized him as the source of instruction.
As far as 1936 (The Equinox of the Gods), this was the governing Triad of A∴A∴, although Charles Stansfeld Jones was no longer active in A∴A∴and even joined the Roman Catholic Church in 1928. In 1936 he was officially expelled from the O.T.O. after starting to publicly attack Crowley and Thelema.
In July 18, 1941, Crowley appointed Karl J. Gemer as his representative:
All persons in authority under me in connection with the A∴A∴ and O.T.O. are to recognize him as their chief.
After Crowley’s death in 1947, Gemer never organized a new governing triad.
Years after Germer’s death in 1962, different A∴A∴claimant groups emerged, and they formed their own governing triads. One governing triad has no power over the others. Their authority reaches as far as their line of succession goes, or as far as their students recognize them as chiefs.
The Three Colleges
Usually the Imprimātur is issued from the Second Order (Collegio Interno), but there are also instances including authorities from the Third Order and even officers from the First Order:
Collēgiō Summō, “highest college”, the Third Order, from 8○=3□ to 10○=1□.
Collēgiō Internō, “inner college”, the Second Order, from 5○=6□ to 7○=4□.
Collēgiō Externō, “external college”, the First Order, from 0○=0□ to 4○=7□.
Thus, for example, where we read “Pro. Col. Sum.” (prō Collēgiō Summō) it is meant “on behalf of the Highest College”.
The Seal of A∴A∴
Around 1912, the Seal of A∴A∴was designed and published for the first time in Book Four Part I (Liber ABA, Part 1: Meditation). Its Seal was only going to figure as part of the Imprimātur page on 1919, with the release of The Equinox Vol. III No. 1.
The Egyptian Portal Cover
The Egyptian portal figuring as the cover of many A∴A∴ librī was designed in 1909, figuring in the privately printed volumes of ΘΕΛΗΜΑ, composed by most of the Holy Books of Thelema. However, the portal design only became public with the release of The EquinoxVol. III No. 1 in 1919. See the images below, the 1909 portal on the left and the 1919 portal on the right:
The Egyptian hieroglyphs at the bottom of the cover came from the Stele of Revealing:
N. Fra. A∴A∴
At times when no governing triad was formed, Crowley employed the “N. Fra. A∴A∴” as the authority for an Imprimātur. Let’s consider some information regarding that obscure authority:
“N. Fra. A∴A∴” is only used when the governing triad is not complete.
However, sometimes even with no triad the motto of the Imperātor stands alone, there is no “N. Fra. A∴A∴”.
Book Four Parts 1 & 2 display “N. ·.· Praemonstrātor General”
The Book of the Lies displays “Imprimatur [new line] [new line] Fra∴A∴A∴”.
Liber Astarté vel Berylli (Imprimatur: “N. Fra A∴A∴”) has a single footnote, attributed to one called “N. Fra. A∴A∴.”
Liber HAD and Liber NV have “N. Fra A∴A∴” between “V.V.V.V.V. …” (8○=3□) and “O.M. 7○=4□”.
In a footnote in Book Four, Part I, Chapter X: The Lamp, we have: “NEMO is the Master of the Temple, whose task it is to develop the beginner. See Liber CDXVIII, Æthyr XIII.”
In the commentary to the 49thchapter of The Book of the Lies, we have: “NO MAN is of course NEMO, the Master of the Temple, Liber 418 will explain most of the allusions in this chapter.”
In Liber 418, Æthyr XIII, we have multiple references to Nemo, such as “No man hath beheld the face of my Father. Therefore he that hath beheld it is called NEMO. And know thou that every man that is called NEMO hath a garden that he tendeth”, with the following footnote “Every Magister Templi has a Work to do for the world.”.
Considering these, N. Fra. A∴A∴seems to mean “Nemo, Frater of A∴A∴”, Nemo being a generic term for a Magister Templi, in this case Aleister Crowley.
List of Authorities
These are the persons behind the mottoes found in the Imprimātur pages across the years. Each A∴A∴ claimant group has its own group of authorities filling the three offices. Thus a publication that got an Imprimātur from one A∴A∴ claimant group governing triad does not necessarily is an official publication for another A∴A∴ claimant group.
Please note that:
This list only includes names found in Imprimātur pages in published books. There are many other A∴A∴claimant groups out there.
I do not vouch for the authenticity of these grade claims. Some of these people may have worked the grades of A∴A∴by themselves.
Some of these grades are clearly honorary, they do not mean actual attainment in the proper Sephirah.
George Cecil Jones
I wish to know
George Cecil Jones
John Frederick Charles Fuller
John Frederick Charles Fuller
Non Sine Fulmine
Not without a thunderbolt
I will endure
Ol Sonuf Vaoresagi
I reign over ye
Vi Veri Universum Vivus Vici
By the power of truth, I, while living, have conquered the universe
Τὸ Μέγα Θηρίον
The great beast
Charles Stansfeld Jones
Charles Stansfeld Jones
Charles Stansfeld Jones
Omnia in Uno Unus in Omnibus
All in one, one in all
Let there be light
Ich will es
I will it
[Gematria for Hebrew עיוז]
[Nuit and Hadit]
[Nobody; no one; no man]
[Seems to be used when the governing triad isn’t complete]
[Nēmō Frater A∴A∴]
[Nemo, a Brother of A∴A∴]
A∴A∴ via Crowley > Germer
Marcelo Ramos Motta
I will help
Marcelo Ramos Motta
[Greek letter phi, no point used as abbreviation]
Marcelo Ramos Motta
[Gematria for Hebrew הוהר]
A∴A∴ via Crowley > Germer > Motta (a)
Mônica Dusi Rocha
A∴A∴ via Crowley > Germer > Motta (b)
James Daniel Gunther
[William Gary Keith Breeze]
[Martin Patrick Starr]
A∴A∴ via Crowley > Germer > Motta (c)
Euclydes Lacerda de Almeida
A∴A∴ via Crowley > Germer / Wolfe > Seckler (a)
Grady Louis McMurtry
A∴A∴ via Crowley > Germer / Wolfe > Seckler (b)
James Arthur Eshelman
[Phyllis Evalina Seckler]
A∴A∴ via Crowley > Germer / Wolfe > Seckler (c)
[unknown, but definitely not the other V.V. above]
A∴A∴ via Crowley > Regardie > Suster
We have representatives from three separate colleges here, plus O.S.V. as Imperātor. Curiously the offices of Cancellārius and Praemonstrātor are not indicated.
1909, The Equinox, Vol. I, No. 1, An Account of A∴A∴.
We have the three chiefs with their Grades. Their offices are not indicated.
1909, The Equinox, Vol. I, No. 1, Liber Exercitiorum.
Now we have the chiefs and their respective functions:
1909, The Equinox, Vol. I, No. 2, Liber O vel Manus et Sagittae.
In this sample the Grades are omitted; we only have the offices:
1910, The Equinox, Vol. I, No. 4, Liber III vel Jugorum
Here the word “Imprimātur” is used:
1910, Liber Collegii Sancti
This book was privately printed. In the photo below, we can see Crowley’s handwriting, probably revision marks to guide the editor for including it in The Equinox, Vol. III, No. 2, a book which was announced, but never released. Here Equinox No. 1 actually refers to The Equinox Vol. III No. 1, and in the page 100 is found the Imprimātur for De Lege Libellum.
1911, The Equinox, Vol. I, No. 5, Liber HHH
After George Cecil Jones and John F. C. Fuller quitted A∴A∴, Crowley used the expression “N. Fra A∴A∴” and variations to indicate that no governing triad issued the publication.
1912, Liber ABA, Book Four, Part 1
Here we have a curious variation that makes us speculate about the meaning of “N. Fra A∴A∴”. Clearly we have someone named “N. ·.·” who has the office of a “Praemonstrātor General”. Giving the many references to “Nemo” as a generic name for a Magister Templi, it may be possible that this “N.·.·” is “Nemo ·.·”.
1912, The Equinox, Vol. I, No. 7, Liber NV
Liber NV and Liber HAD have this peculiar Imprimātur, where we have the Egyptian hieroglyphs for “the gods”, followed by V.V.V.V.V. (Aleister Crowley’s 8○=3□motto and/or the Chief of A∴A∴), N. Fra A∴A∴(mostly used when no governing triad exists) and O.M. (Aleister Crowley’s 7○=4□motto).
1913, The Book of Lies
This seems to be a hybrid of Book Four’s “N.·.·” and the “N. Fra A∴A∴” found in The Equinox:
1919, The Equinox, Vol. III, No. 1, Liber II
Now we finally have a new governing triad in A∴A∴ and representants from all three colleges, but the chiefs operate from the External College, not from the Inner College as in 1909. Note that George Cecil Jones, long gone, is still referred to as the Praemonstrātor.
1929, Magick in Theory and Practice
Book Four Part 3, Magick in Theory and Practice, has no Imprimātur page. It includes appendices with the main official instructions issued by A∴A∴, most of them published in The Equinox, but none of them include an Imprimātur.
1936, The Equinox of the Gods
Here D.D.S. (George Cecil Jones) was replaced by I.W.E. (Martha Küntzel) in the Inner College, but he remains as V.N. and as Praemonstrātor in the External College.
1938, The Heart of the Master
Once again, a governing triad is not listed, only the Imperātor O.S.V., as in 1909.
1938, Little Essays Towards Truth
Once again, a governing triad is not listed, only the Imperātor O.S.V., as in 1909.
1939, Eight Lectures on Yoga
Once again, a governing triad is not listed, only the Imperātor O.S.V., as in 1909.
1944, The Equinox, Vol. III, No. 5, The Book of Thoth
Curiously here we have two mottoes listed as members of the R.R. et A.C., the second order of the old Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. Allan Bennett was one of Crowley’s teachers in H.O.G.D., but he was dead and he has never been a member of Crowley’s A∴A∴.
1961, The Equinox, Vol. III, No. 6, Liber Aleph: The Book of Wisdom or Folly, edited by Marcelo Ramos Motta
This is the first number of The Equinox released after Crowley’s death, in a partnership between Karl Germer and his student Marcelo Motta. This book was edited and printed in Brazil, and sold in USA. Germer never entitled Motta as the Imperātor of A∴A∴, but at the time of the release of the book Motta sent letters to Germer claiming to be a 6○=5□in another plane, the grade corresponding to the office of Imperātor.
1975, The Equinox, Vol. V, No. 1, The Commentaries of AL, by Marcelo Ramos Motta
This is a new volume of The Equinox prepared by Marcelo Ramos Motta thirteen years after Karl Germer’s death. it does not list the officers, but we have mottoes of Marcelo Ramos Motta spanning the three colleges.
1979, The Equinox, Vol. V, No. 2, by Marcelo Ramos Motta
1980, The Equinox, Vol. V, No. 3: The Chinese Texts of Magick and Mysticism, by Marcelo Ramos Motta
1981, The Equinox, Vol. V, No. 4: Sex and Religion, by Marcelo Ramos Motta
1984, Magick Without Tears Unexpurgated Commented Part 1
Need a picture of the Imprimātur page– believed to be the same as listed below.
1984, Magick Without Tears Unexpurgated Commented Part 2, by Marcelo Ramos Motta
After issuing the four numbers of his new volume of The Equinox, Motta fallbacks to the usage of “N. Frater A∴A∴”.
1987, Thelemic Magick Unexpurgated Commented Part 1, by Marcelo Ramos Motta
This is the last Imprimātur issued by Motta:
1987, [Brazil] A Deusa Negra, by Euclydes Lacerda de Almeida
Here we have an Imprimātur in the name of an organization, Horus-Maat Lodge.
1996, The Equinox, Vol. IV, No. 1: Commentaries on the Holy Books and Other Papers, by J. Daniel Gunther et al, Liber Vesta
Nine years after Motta’s death, three of his ex-students, all of them who resigned or were cut contact with from Motta’s instruction in A∴A∴while he was still alive, formed a new governing triad for their A∴A∴claimant group:
1998, The Equinox, Vol. IV, No. 2: The Vision and the Voice with Commentaries and Other Papers, by J. Daniel Gunther et al.
Here we have the same governing triads, with no grades or colleges:
2000, The Mystical and Magical System of A∴A∴(3rd Revised Edition), by James A. Eshelman: One Star in Sight.
Here we have three people from second order rankings and “N. Fra. A∴A∴”:
2009, Magick Revised, by Ray Eales
2009, Initiation in the Aeon of the Child, by J. Daniel Gunther
In his solo book, the Praemonstrātor of one of the claimant groups above listed himself as in “R.R. et A.C.” plus “N. Fra: A∴A∴”, as Crowley did in his last years. We have no information regarding his association with the actual R.R. et A.C., the second order of the old H.O.G.D. Perhaps he meant the R∴C∴, the second order of A∴A∴.
2014, The Angel & The Abyss, by J. Daniel Gunther
2014, Private publications (The Hell Fire Club), by unknown
2017, Winds of Wisdom, by David Shoemaker
Here we have three officers in the External College, representatives in the Inner College, and the exquisite “N. Fra. A∴A∴” in the Highest College.
2019, [Serbia] Anatomija Ambisa, by Dušan Trajković
2019, [Brazil] Liber ABA, by Aleister Crowley, Commented by Marcelo Ramos Motta: Liber AL vel Legis
This Seal first appeared in Book 4, Part I (1911). It did not appear anywhere in the first volume (first ten numbers) of THE EQUINOX.
The central part—the seven-pointed star and its embellishing features—also appeared in Crowley’s The Book of Lies (1913), Cap. 49. By itself, it is called the Seal, or Star, of Babalon.
The heptagram is an ensign of the Great Order at every level. It is the pattern of the Seven Branched Candlestick, the Vault of the Adepti, and the seal upon the gates of the City of Pyramids—demarcating, respectively, admission to the First Order, the Second, and the Third.
With two points uppermost and one point downward, the heptagram assumes a distinctly feminine quality. This is reinforced by the predominance of the name BABALON, which is the basis of this entire seal. BABALON is a holy name associated with Binah. She is essentially equivalent to Shakti, or to the most ecstatic formulations of the Shekinah. BABALON can be studied deeply in The Vision & the Voice (Liber 418). For now, it is only important that you understand that she is the manifestation of that Reality which betokens admission to the Third Order; that Her name consists of seven letters; and that it enumerates to 156.
The seven-pointed star refers, among other things, to the seven letters of Her name, which are placed within the points of the Star. (The point of the heptagram at which the name begins is, by Hermetic tradition, attributed to the Moon, to the Hebrew letter Gimel, and to the Tarot Trump whose esoteric name is “The Priestess of the Silver Star.” This may or may not have been intended in the original design of this Seal.)
Before going further, I must digress to explain one of the entertainments and, simultaneously, an exercise in mental discipline with which Crowley and his friend Oscar Eckenstein occupied themselves on mountain climbing excursions (presumably not during the actual climbing). They would attempt to represent any number soever by employing the number 4 exactly four times, in combination with any mathematical symbols they chose. For example:
Crowley recorded that, by this device, they had succeeded in generating every number (every positive integer) up to about 170 except 113; and from there to about 300 with very few gaps.
This is relevant to the present discussion because the Sigillum Sanctum of the A∴A∴ is formed on a similar principle, using the number 7 seven times. Remembering that the name BABALON consists of seven letters and enumerates to 156, we find that:
By taking slight artistic license with the size and distribution of the numerals and mathematical symbols, we obtain the following:
Virtually no imagination is required to bridge between this and the final design:
Therefore, in addition to the geometric symbolism of the heptagram, a divided Vesica Piscis, and the three crosses, we have important mathematical and artistic symbolism whereby the design represents the name BABALON itself, as ensign of the Third Order. This, then, is the heart of that image which has been adopted as the seal—the sigil—of the Great Order itself.
Love is the law, love under will.
*Excerpted from The Mystical & Magical System of the A∴A∴ by James A. Eshelman (All rights reserved)
In most traditions, a magical circle is commonly used to make clear to the spirit world, the working space for the practitioner. In Liber ABA Part 2 is stated concerning the magical circle:
“The Circle announces the Nature of the Great Work.
Though the Magician has been limited in his choice of room, he is more or less able to choose what part of the room he will work in. He will consider convenience and possibility. His circle should not be too small and cramp his movements; it should not be so large that he has long distances to traverse. Once the circle is made and consecrated, the Magician must not leave it, or even lean outside, lest he be destroyed by the hostile forces that are without.
He chooses a circle rather than any other lineal figure for many reasons; e.g.,
He affirms thereby his identity with the infinite.
He affirms the equal balance of his working; since all points on the circumference are equidistant from the centre.
He affirms the limitation implied by his devotion to the Great Work. He no longer wanders about aimlessly in the world.
The center of this circle is the center of the Tau of ten squares which is in the midst, as shown in the illustration. The Tau and the circle together make one form of the Rosy Cross, the uniting of subject and object which is the Great Work, and which is symbolized sometimes as this cross and circle, sometimes as the Lingam-Yoni, sometimes as the Ankh or Crux Ansata, sometimes by the Spire and Nave of a church or temple, and sometimes as a marriage feast, mystic marriage, spiritual marriage, “chymical nuptials,” and in a hundred other ways. Whatever the form chosen, it is the symbol of the Great Work.”
Many practitioners use a physical circle painted on cloth or drawn in the sand or with chalk on the floor. All physical considerations aside, I believe that it is most important, that practicing Magician already be projecting a magic circle, from within. By this I mean that when one is working to purify the Nephesh, or the lower self, they must submit (on some level) to the Higher Self or some might say the Holy Guardian Angel. It is this process which leads one to radiate what in my view is the ‘true’ magic circle. No lower entity or negativity can penetrate a circle established in this manner nor cause any harm to the practitioner through negative thoughts or deeds. The building blocks for this circle of light is the right motivation, and clear direction. It’s a mastering of our thoughts, words and actions. The Practitioner must be well aware of the tendencies of their lower mind and ideally under the guidance of the HGA. Some think that the use of a physical circle will protect them from harm, keeping at bay the lower spirits they work with. Yet, after the Magical operation, when the circle is down, it’s possible that certain entities bites them on the ass. Though a banishing was properly performed and the circle closed, certain “entities” stick around, feeding off the “weaknesses” of the Practitioner. You might say that the Practitioner doesn’t deserve the respect of the spirit world when not properly trained or ethically evolved. In a sense, this explains why in many cases people evoke all kind of spirits for their pleasure or sensation and end up in all kind of misery. So, it is fundamental that one begin the work of clearing the Ruach of its shadows and begin to build a foundation for a real magic circle of light. This, in practice, may take many years of dedication and hard work to fully realize yet, one will reap the rewards of their efforts.
Consider how when Buddha was tempted by the lord of death (Mara) he transformed the arrows and spears of her army into flowers. By the power of his realization (which I liken to actualizing a real circle of light) those negative energies instantly were transformed. Simply put, coming to the realization of the inner god is the best magical circle one can have.
Now consider the symbolism of Magician at the center of their circle, which from above appears as a point within a circle. The symbol of the Sun, or that of Hadit and Nuit conjoined; the fulfillment and realization of the Star whose number is 666
Full Moon through the door. Like a camel through the eye of arcane needle.
“Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law”
The Bible tells the story of a rich man who came to Jesus and asked him how to attain life eternal. Jesus tells him to live a good life by following the Ten Commandments. The rich man declares he already does that, but something is lacking. Jesus then tells him to sell all his possessions, give them to the poor, and follow him. The rich man goes away sad because he knows he won’t be able to do this. Jesus declares two things of importance. One is that “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.” And two is that, to do what he is asking the rich man to do is impossible for a man, because this transformation is only possible for God.
While most people interpret this passage as either an admonition against greed or as a justiﬁcation for tithing, the esoteric import goes in a quite different direction. The rich man is complaining that, while his external life is in observation of religious duty, he is not yet complete. Jesus’ answer seems to imply that the existing moral code, the Ten Commandments, should be but a stepping stone to get the man into an abundant and rich life. However, when the rich man asks what he still lacks, Jesus does not give him another code, but simply tells him to let go of something so that completion or perfection can emerge. What most people miss is the fact that the rich man cannot give up his wealth, not because he doesn’t want to, but because only God can produce the type of transformation necessary to let go of what holds him back. If we take the man’s wealth to be a symbol for one’s accumulated experience, the totality of one’s identiﬁcation with organic life, we can then begin to see the story’s full import.
Now, let’s take a look at the meaning behind these terms. The hebrew for rich and abundant is ashir (Ayin-Shin-Yod-Resh), with a value of 580 in gematria. This is what the man had, yet he is unsatisﬁed with his mere material success and looks for the sense of profound peace and spiritual completion known as shalom (with a numerical value of 376). To go from ashir to shalom, you extract the difference: 580 – 376 = 204. The value of Bara is 204, which means Son, or Son of God. Therefore, the ending remarks of Jesus when he claims that to do this transformation is impossible for a man but possible for (1) God, he is passing on the formula of this transformation. To do this, however, divine intervention is needed. This divine intervention comes through the seed of God. When the rich man walks away, he is sad because he knows he cannot do this. Exoteric interpretation of the text leads most people to infer that the man is simply greedy. Jesus’ commentary, however, makes it clear that it is impossible for an ordinary person to accomplish what he asks. God is needed.
The esoteric import of this parable is given in the adage: “It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.” This adage gives the formula by which God’s help is invoked. The eye of the needle refers to the path of Qoph, (2) and the camel to the path of Gimel, (3) in the Tree of Life. This passage reﬂects the Essene teachings by stating that these two paths are connected. Of course, both are ruled by the moon and both are connections between two different triads. (4) Qoph connects Malkuth to Netzach, and Gimel connects Tiphareth to Kether. The former accounts for the connection between Manipura Chakra and our organic body, while the latter shows how the dewdrops of Amrit descend from the back of the head when the ojas are activated by the interaction of Ajna with Vishudda, activating the sacred ﬂuid in the cerebellum. (5) The biblical passage is telling us how the interaction between these two passages is a key to the alchemical transformation. Let us examine each passage brieﬂy and see how they interact alchemically.
In the microcosmos, the path of Qoph connects Manipura with the body. Since the path of Qoph is associated with both the moon and the back of the head, it is the path responsible for dreaming. Jodorowsky, Jung, Campbell and others see dreams as the archetypal language used by the body to communicate with the mind. These images are the oneiric language of the unconscious. Their origin can be just the subconscious mind trying to catalogue and make sense of the raw impressions of that day, or even a registry of current imbalances or impressions on the body. Of course, this path can bypass the conscious mind, and the impressions coming through are not necessarily of a logical nature nor voluntary. They are the dealings between the body and the soul.
On the other hand, the channel can also carry signals from Netzach to Malkuth. Netzach can receive currents from Hod, Yesod, Malkuth and Tiphereth. Those signals coming from Yesod and Hod can affect our dreaming, of course, with both mental and erotic imagery, but they also open up the possibility of acquiring a conscious relationship with the Dreaming under intent. More importantly, these paths offer the possibility of transforming Qoph from a channel to the subconscious, to a channel to the divine, and the ability to make of the body a temple for God through the arte alchemica. When the path of Qoph is dormant, it serves as the channel for unconscious communication between body and soul. In “The Wake World,” (6) the bride describes her encounter with Qoph as follows: “There were nasty Jackals about, they made such a noise, and at the end I could see two towers. Then there was the queerest moon you ever saw, only a quarter full.” (7) When the moon is waxing, the dreaming is ruled by shadows, phantoms, and chaotic dualistic ﬂuidity. The jackals, of course, are a reference to Anubis in his dual form of Anpu (who opens the road to the land of the subconscious and the underworld) and Ap-uat (who opens the road to the heavens). Anubis, therefore, serves as the guide who takes us through death and sleep, either to the subconscious or to heaven. The two towers they guard signify the path of Peh, (8) and its tower, which is the House of God, is here presented in its duality. Either way, Kephra will bring the sun through to its dawn, whether through the subconscious lands of the dreaming or through the Bardos (9) between incarnations. The sun comes up just as sure as we wake up once again or are reincarnated after the passage of death. However, the passage through this land offers the opportunity of a different kind of rebirth. The key is in the uniﬁcation of all dualities under intent. This rebirth, as the parable of the rich man suggests, is only possible for God. The sun, of course, is not dead but shining its light on the moon. (10) If the moon is full through this passage, it will reﬂect the light of the sun and the passage is guided by intent. If Netzach contains the light of Tiphareth, the moon of Qoph will ﬁll up with the light of divine intent and love. Another way to express this principle is to say that, if the Fool (Atu 0), being the only thing that survives the destruction of The Tower (Atu XVI), safely attaches to Netzach, then the path of Qoph will activate and unify soul and body under will.
The path of Gimel is associated with the full moon. This path connects the Sahasrara Chakra with Anahata Chakra through Sushuma Nadi. It carries the kundalini up to the crown during Dhyana, as well as the Amrit (11) down to the lower chakras, activating them. In the macrocosmos, this is the passage through which the Holy Guardian Angel descends after the union between Chokmah and Binah opens the door of Daleth and gives birth to the Son. In a sense, Qoph connects the body directly with Manipura, just as in the macrocosmos the Earth and its biosphere are directly connected, albeit controlled by the passage and tides of the moon. But the path becomes active only when the moon has become full with the light of the sun. In other words, while the forces of Manipura are always in contact with our body, the path becomes fully active and conscious through Dhyana. Through Dhyana, (12) the solar current illuminates the dark 12 passages of our subconscious and allow body and soul to carry through the will of our spirit. Dhyana resolves the duality and shadows of the subconscious by uniﬁcation and dissolution, and just like The Fool, survives the destruction of The Tower, the solar will survives the passage through the night.
Let us examine how exactly the activation of Qoph (13) takes place. The kundalini serpent awakens in Muladhara and ascends to Swaddishtana. In one who is a slave to the sleeping state, this energy will follow the path of wants and organic tendencies. From the point of view of the mind, thoughts that ﬂow and attach themselves to wants, fears, and mechanical tendencies give life to phantoms, kleshas, (14) and illusions. These mechanical thoughts tend to feed the libido and ground themselves in Malkuth through organic, automatic orgasm. A magician, however, learns to send the Kundalini and thoughts through the path of Peh, raising the energy towards Manipura, instead of grounding it. Once in Manipura, the seed planted there ﬁnds itself in Netzach, which, since it is at the bottom of the right hand pillar of the Tree Of Life, is pulled up towards the upper branches of the Tree. However, the vibration which connects to Netzach must be in alignment with this sphere or it will be ejected. This point is important, because the thought which leaves Hod (15) does not arrive intact. The Tower is destroyed, and what survives either ascends towards Netzach or is dispersed in Malkuth. This principle points to a fallacy common to those who think that to practice sex magick, all they have to do is think at the moment of orgasm, and what they think will come true. In a sense, they are correct because all thoughts and words give birth to an astral child, (16) but what results of that is not necessarily as the would-be magician imagines. They forget that the conscious word or image they hold will be dissolved once death (orgasm) overcomes the Tower. What remains, however, is the essence of the eidolon held by the intent of the magician.
Now, in works of lesser magick, the magician can send a seed prayer towards Netzach and, if he succeeds and it is in agreement with the Fates (the Wheel of Fortune), it will ascend as a prayer. The adept who is able to receive Gnosis through the paths of Mem and Ayin (from the waters of Binah and the will of his Sun) can, in turn, send it to Netzach by preparing an adequate vehicle (eidolon or thought form) which will carry his intent. This sacred intent is Bhakti Yoga. It is the type of thought that connects itself to a deity, higher aspiration, or sacred principle. If successful, the intent will lodge itself to the Venusian vibration of Netzach, and naturally ascend. At the same time, this seed of Will constitutes the solar inﬂuence which ﬁlls the Moon of Qoph with the light of our Sun. As a result, the dream world is now of a different quality. It carries that quality of sacred import. It is not so much the propensity to lucidity, but the atmosphere of a sacred chamber, and the kind of message from the dreaming, that has the touch of spawned genius.
The Greek word for truth is alethia, which refers to the awakening of the memory of truth. In Hebrew, the word for truth is Emet (Aleph-Mem-Tau), but if we transpose the letters we can obtain Mem-Aleph-Tau, which means from within, as the concept of truth in Greek also implies. The reader will remember that in the ﬁrst paragraph we discussed how Bara, the Son of God, is what’s extracted when the rich man gives his wealth (Ashir) to attain completion (Shalom). Bara also means a well. In a sense, the Son has a mystical equivalent to the well, just as the Phallus and the Kteis (17) are equivalent in a complementary sense.
According to Crowley’s Liber 231, the Fool abides between Asar and Asi, before embarking in his cosmic voyage. This book describes the passage of The Fool through creation, where eventually he comes to destroy and survive the ruins of The Tower; the Holly Virgin (the moon of Qoph) appears after this, transformed. This is the full moon, who is now the Holly Virgin, but used to appear as a scary woman with blood in her teeth. She is now a “ﬂuidic ﬁre” which uses a “thunderbolt”—obvious allusions to the kundalini that now rises up from Swaddhistana to Manipura. At this point, the moon invokes “the Scarab, the Lord Kheph-Ra, so that the waters were cloven and the illusion of the powers was destroyed.” This parting of the waters is reminiscent of the parting of the waters in Genesis, before the creation of the universe. In this case, the sun comes out victorious: “Then the sun did appear unclouded, and the mouth of Asi was on the mouth of Asar.” (18)
Kephra is what the full moon invokes so that the sun can pass through and emerge unclouded. This is what happens in the path of Qoph when intent is applied through the combination of desire with the love characteristic of Bhakti Yoga. (19) Notice how the path of Resh shows how the “mouth of Asi was on the mouth of Asar.” In the beginning, the Fool resided in joy between Asi and Asar. Now, with the emergence of the Will and its successful passage, these two kiss. The kiss is the ecstasy of union of that which was separated through duality. The redeemer, the Fool, emerges after this process and provides the union now in joy and ecstasy. (20)
Within the conﬁnes of my own temple, I’ve noticed that when the energy moves up from Swaddhistana as a “ﬂuidic ﬁre” and, if the adoration and love towards the sacred eidolon has been kept without disturbance or distraction, there is a bolt of energy, like a light or thunderbolt, that moves from the third eye to the back of the head as I’m drifting into sleep. Without implying or assuming that this is an universal experience or, even, what the text of Liber CCXXXI signiﬁes, it has provided an intimate landmark for the success of the operation within my own body. I know that the same feeling in Hod would, but for an internal tweak of intent and attention, produce the orgasmic release of semen outside the temple. What follows after this is not part of the conscious mind. Intent is present, yes, but not shrouded by thought or wakeful memory.
Qoph is exposed in chapter 18 of Aleister Crowley’s The Book of Lies, “On Dewdrops.” While the death mentioned in that chapter is often related to orgasm, it should be more properly understood as Samadhi. (21) However, death is also the passage from wakefulness into sleep. This is why it is Anubis who guards the narrow passage between the towers in Atu XVIII; and this passage is a lower octave of Peh, which is a lower octave of Gimel. Indeed, in “The Wake World,” the bride describes the path of Gimel as having a beautiful moonlike virgin who reads from a book. The idea of the practice, therefore, is not to hold on to a thought form as if the want is more important than the will. The thought, or word, which is used to propel the will across the void is to dissolve and be surrendered for the seed to survive. “The old life is no more” and what survives is “more He than all he calls He.” (22) One is to let it go free, for one is not “its master, but the vehicle of it.” (23) Crowley tells us to study this chapter along with chapters 1 and 16. These chapters address the casting of the Fool into the Night of Pan (N.O.X.). In the “Sabbath Of The Goat,” (24) the phallus is adored as explained in De Natura Deorum. “Liber 24 Arcanorum” presents the Virgin of God (Daleth) as enthroned on a seashell and seeking “seventy to her four.” Seventy is the path of Ayin (The Devil), which casts the seed of will into the mind and accounts for the love of union the Male experiences for the Female. The four is a door, Daleth, which opens the heaves and allows the Son to descend (the HGA and the Amrit). Now, Chapter 16 describes the path of Peh, and it is in this passage that The Tower is destroyed and, if done properly, the Fool makes his way across the Night Of Pan to be planted in Netzach.
While the Practicus of the A∴A∴ needs to learn Chastity, the practice of the sexual magick of De Natura Deorum teaches the Practicus that Chastity is only one side of a triangle. Chastity, in yoga, is Dharana. (25) The ability to hold a thought without distraction is akin to the ability to hold the desire in a hard phallus without dissipating the force nor letting it go too soon. However, Dharana is not the telos, the end result. It is a necessary, yet not sufﬁcient, part. Dharana is the discipline that can be accomplished in the left column of the Tree. There has to be a seed, a sacred aim, an aspiration. This is the second part of the triangle. Also, there has to be death. “Neither of these alone is enough.” In the chapter “The Stag-Beetle” of The Book Of Lies, Crowley illustrates the path of Peh and, once again, shows how the three sides of the triangle are necessary. Here, Kephra is invoked by the moonlike Virgin of God. This process, where the adept merges with a deity by adoration throughout his lifetime (i.e., through the life of the phallus), and upon surrender during death, is the Love of Bhakti. This Love is essential for the activation of Qoph. The whole process of De Natura Deorum can be called Dhyana. Dharana, of course, is a necessary component, but the aim is Dhyana, or divine Love. However, one cannot, by the ordinary will alone, bring about such result. All the lower ego can do is hold the seed with impeccability and surrender to death at the right moment. Going to sleep, after adoring the Phallus and its eidolon, without uttering the Word teaches the adept one third of another triangle (to be completed in a higher octave through the Third Step, or the secrets of the IXth degree of the OTO). Dharana can be done through the will of the lower ego, but as we know from Ashtanga Yoga, the aim is the destruction of the thought held in Dharana; and through the destruction emerges the divine contemplation of Dhyana, beyond ego and the conditioned mind. Dhyana is the divine result of the death of Dharana. As Jesus claims of the rich man, only God can do this. He tells the rich man to sell his possessions (i.e., having built his Dharana, cast himself unto the Night so that the kingdom of heaven can descend and make him whole). The results of this ﬁrst practice are the activation of the back of the head (Qoph) and the subsequent emanation of the Amrit. This is the beginning of the reception of Gnosis, and the result is the ﬁrst manifestations of spawned genius.
Most people are familiar with the phenomenon where someone goes to sleep with a pressing problem in mind and, if the issue has been held consistently for a long time in the mind, the dream will provide a solution, which is often described as a stroke of genius. The adept can use this principle consciously and with intent to climb up the mountain and activate the passages of his temple; but more importantly, to gain a connection with God that can guide his inner and outer life. When the rich man addresses Jesus, he explains that he follows the external law, his ethical code, impeccably. However, something is missing. His Yama practice is good, but the Niyama is not quite there. Crowley explains in Liber ABA that Niyama is best understood as virtue. (26) Yama is about the restrictions one places in one’s life (the control of the square); but the circle one must follow is Niyama; which, in regards to one’s external life, is the practice of one’s talent, the manifestation of one’s genius. The path of Qoph is connected to the practice of Niyama. It is through the ﬂow of images and information from the subconscious that the artist, scientist, and innovator of any ﬁeld draw the material that results in the works of genius that have the thumbprint of destiny. When one understands Qoph as related to Niyama, one can see that that spawned genius will result if the practice of the Adept is tied to his true will and not to mere wants. The Will comes from the Fool, and it is connected to one’s Wheel of Fortune. The result of 27 this practice will bring about works that are an execution of one’s true will (Niyama). The Niyama and the Dhyana are similar principles, albeit in different levels. Niyama is the manifestation of one’s genius, while Dhyana is the inner contact with the source of that light by the altar of the inner consciousness wherein which we seek Truth.
“Love is the law, love under will”
1 – Impossible, that is, to a man of the world—which is a man stuck in the material possessions of the sphere of Malkuth, the 10th sephira or emanation of the Tree of Life.
2 – Qoph is the 19th letter of the Hebrew alphabet. It means back of the head, but it is often called “the eye of the needle” because of the shape of the letter.
3 – Camel in Hebrew. The letter Gimel is written with a Vav and a Yod at its base. It is a symbol often associated in the ancient world with a rich man running after a poor man (symbolized by the subsequent letter, Daleth) to give him charity.
4 – The path of Qoph connects the third triad of the A.’.A.’., the man of Earth, with the Lover (the second triad of this order). The path of Gimel connects the Lover triad to the Hermit triad (the ﬁrst triad of the order). This is because of the spheres that these paths connect on the Tree of Life.
5 – This alchemical process is taught in various esoteric teachings of the East, and refers to substance that descends from the pineal gland, transforming the body and the mind.
6 – Crowley, Aleister. Konx Om Pax. I highly recommend this story, “The Wake World,” for an enlightening Kabbalistic account of the Dreaming as an allegorical passage of the dormant human soul through the Tree Of Life towards its awakening.
7 – ibid, pg. 9.
8 – 17th letter of the Hebrew alphabet. It means mouth. In the Tree of Life it is connected with Trump XVI, The Tower.
9 – The Western tradition popularly recognizes three transitional states of existence: birth, life, and death. The Tibetan tradition recognizes a fourth state, the in-between state called the Bardo. For an enlightened rendition of this state in the Western World, see American Book of the Dead, by E.J. Gold.
10 – The scene described in “The Wake World” is also depicted in the 18th trump card (Atu XVIII), The Moon, of Crowley’s Thoth tarot.
11 – This is the alchemical sacred substance that transforms ordinary consciousness into divine consciousness. It is the elixir of ecstasy and the healing nectar of the gods.
12 – Dhyana is one of the eight limbs of yoga, and it’s characterized by the mind in a state of silence, illumination, and communion with the true nature of the higher Self.
13 – Qoph is the Hebrew letter that means “eye of the needle,” and it represents the passage in the Tree of Life that connects the physical body (Malkuth) with the intuition and source of emotions (Netzach). Qoph is the wire in the psychic body of humans that is responsible for dreaming. The activation of this wire implies the attainment of lucidity and the infusion of the dream with the sacred light of God.
14 – Attachments or unconscious habits
15 – Hod is the sphere that controls thoughts.
16 – That is, a program in the astral plane that seeks its fulﬁllment by becoming real in Malkuth
17 – Or, the penis and the vagina.
18 – Liber Arcanorum sub ﬁgura CCXXXI.
19 – The Yoga of Devotion, or divine love.
20 – See Liber 231.
21 – The divine ecstasy of union and the ultimate goal of Yoga.
22 – Crowley, Aleister. The Book Of Lies, “On Dewdrops”.
23 – Ibid
24 – Ibid
25 – Holding one thought in the mind, to the exclusion of any other impression, thought, or emotion.
26 – Crowley, Aleister. Liber ABA, chapter “Yama and Niyama.”
Those who have written about the A∴A∴ and to this date, continue the practices in either a lineal program or even in a solitary manner, seem to have overlooked a fundamental part of the work. If we look at the Oaths themselves, separate and apart from the Tasks, which shouldfundamentally support the Oaths, we get a larger perspective on the developmental course of Initiation. The importance of this shouldn’t beunderestimated as it provides the rationale for the Tasks of the various Grades. The particular component of the various Oaths that I am referring to are as follows:
To obtain a scientific knowledge of the nature and powers of one’s own being
To obtain control of the nature and powers of one’s own being.
To obtain control of the foundations of one’s own being.
To obtain control of the vacillations of one’s own being.
To obtain control of the attractions and repulsions of one’s own being.
To obtain control of the aspirations of one’s own being.
To attain the knowledge and conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel.
The Probationer Oath has us obtaining a scientific knowledge of the nature and powers of our being. This is a real discovery period that forces us to ask ‘What is being?’ From this, perhaps the question of what it’s nature might be is simultaneously answered, providing also a simple deduction as to what its powers might be. But we have to answer this question first and foremost. Is ‘being’ consciousness? Or is it also the body that houses that consciousness? And what is the nature of consciousness (whether connected to the mind or independent of it) and what is the nature of the body (whether or not it is also connected to consciousness)?
Experientially, we involve ourselves with the Task of memorizing a chapter of Liber LXV and the mastery of the Star Ruby (along with a certain initiatory instruction that accompanies this). We should discover an elemental reality where our etheric (as contrasted with astral) body is incorporated in a material universe that is more true than the qliphotic universe of that consensus reality, which belongs to the bulk of humanity. The electro-magnetic current in its vertical and horizontal dimensions should be observed, particularly as there is one coordinate where they intersect and where the self, the particular being that is the Probationer, is incarnated.
The Neophyte Oath has us gaining control of the nature and powers of this being. But what does that mean? Does that mean that we must become suddenly, masters of ourselves? No, it seems that would be rather absurd. We would not then be Neophytes, or even a Zelator on the successful attainment of such. But we would become Adepts, which tells us that this must mean something else entirely.
As in our Probationary period, we discovered experientially, an electro-magnetic, elemental dimension that incorporates a materialistic coagulation (or involution) of an etheric body, so now do we take one step further and begin to formulate the astral ‘body of light’. We then learn how to maneuver and manipulate the form of this body within that matrix that is called the ‘astral plane’. This certainly involves the four ‘Powers of the Sphinx’ and the alignment of one’s being with the energies now infusing the lower astral of our planet.
The Zelator Task is far more complicated in that one has to get to the foundations of one’s being. But what is that? It speaks to the very heart of the Aspiration as for the first time, from the position of Yesod, the Aspirant can clearly see Tiphareth and the goal of the Outer College of Our Order. Yet the distractions of Choronzon, which may light up with the ego imitating the role of the guru or holy man can easily dissuade us here, especially as it is the charge of the Zelator to be of service to the Order. And in the Astral Triad of which the Aspirant is now fully involved, the vacillations of being that is the work of the Practicus and the ‘attractions & repulsions’ of being that is the work of the Philosophus also come into one’s awareness. So one has the struggle to maintain the Aspiration and forge ahead despite the increased difficulty of the obstacles that one has run into.
This is a churning force that really adds meaning to the saying, ‘The greater the trials, the greater thy victory’. It is as if the Zelator simultaneously takes on the work of both the Practicus and Philosophus programs. Indeed, it seems almost impossible to separate them. So it makes sense that there is no minimum time limitation placed on these Grades as by the time the Aspirant can claim Practicus, he or she has already done much of the work of both this Grade and its succeeding Grade.
Having delivered oneself through the intense ardor of this Ordeal, one should have attained the Magickal power to directly fructify the Aspiration to a fevered pitch of intensity that is might cement the focus of one’s whole being to that Aspiration. This of course, is that, which is of the Oath of the Dominus Liminis. Then, but one task remains…finally, one takes the Oath of the Adeptus Minor and excluding all else, seeks directly to attain the Knowledge & Conversation of Thine Holy Guardian Angel.
In summation, the key point is in the developmental progression of the Oaths and the sincere resolve that one brings to force in carrying out these Oaths. The Tasks are the support structures that assist the Aspirant in fulfilling the obligation of having taken the Oaths. And most importantly, note that the Oaths taken by the Aspirant are to the Aspirant first and foremost, though in a few places, there is also the obligation to the Order…that invisible and Great White Brotherhood that remains in eternal service to the Initiation of all humanity.