The New Aeon

The New Aeon Image
Crowley married Rose Kelly, the sister of his friend, artist Gerald Kelly, in 1903. The happy couple enjoyed a lengthy honeymoon in Scotland, Paris, Marseilles, Naples, and, finally, Cairo. In the last named city something happened which changed Crowley’s life forever. According to his own testimony, over a period of three days, April 8-10, 1904, he received The Book of the Law (also called Liber AL vel Legis) from a discarnate being named Aiwass (also spelled Aiwaz), who audibly dictated it while Crowley recorded. No independent witnesses were present to confirm the phenomenon.

This short, enigmatic work, comprised of only three chapters, served as the fundamental scripture of Thelema (Greek for Will), which Crowley founded and promoted as the philosophy-religion of the “New Aeon”. The Old Aeon, according to the magus, had been dominated by the notions of sin, restriction, the dying god (e.g., Osiris, Dionysos, and Jesus) and such religions as Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism. The New Aeon, which began in 1904, would be dominated by individual freedom and joy, Thelema, and the god Horus, who, with Nuit and Hadit formed a trinity. According to Thelemic teaching, Nuit, traditionally the Egyptian goddess of the night sky, connoted infinite expansion or space. The god Hadit, sometimes depicted as a winged disc, connoted infinite contraction or point. Finally, their son, Horus, connoted, in addition to the New Aeon, the manifest universe.

The scope of this article precludes detailed discussion of the complexities of Thelema. However, Crowley’s frequent use of a brief quotation from The Book of the Law as a pithy summary of Thelemic teachings merits brief attention here, viz., “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law”. Crowley’s penchant for frequently repeating this aphorism is revealing in at least two ways. First, it shows the magus as a center of controversy; the saying has been easily interpreted as an amoral license for self-indulgence and disregard of others. Second, it shows that upon study some of his ideas were not as controversial as they might first seem. Specifically, he explained that this quotation referred to following one’s true will, which, by definition, entailed acting in careful harmony with the universe – like the Taoist sage who effortlessly follows the eternal Tao (i.e., Divine Path). Additionally, he explained that following one’s true will had as its final goal – not self-indulgence – but the “Great Work”, i.e., mystical union with the Divine.

Shortly after receiving The Book of the Law, Crowley and Rose visited Paris and returned to England, where she gave birth to the couple’s first child. They named her Nuit, after the goddess.

Suggested ebooks:

Harold Macgrath - The Pagan Madonna
Sir William Stirling Maxwell - The Canon

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