TM> ritual, and their relevance to the question of whether Thelema is a
TM> form of Satanism under some reasonable definition of that word.
TM> You ought to get a copy of "Magick in Theory and Practice" if you're
TM> interested in the issue. Crowley's ritual and meditative instructions
TM> were his best writing, possibly because they dealt with what he knew
TM> best. It's because of the power and importance of these instructions
TM> that I was willing to overlook his appalling right-wing politics and
TM> cite Crowley as a source in Twilight Crossing; LaVey and Aquino have
TM> made no contributions that measure up to these.
TM> I'm going to track through the various Liberi in Appendix VI, "A Few
TM> Principal Rituals", in order.
TM> Grimorium Sanctissimum. The O.T.O./A.'.A.'. sex magic expressed in the
TM> form of a Black Mass, with a naked virgin as the altar.
How is is it a Black Mass? Or are all sex magick rites Black Masses? It doesn't involve Christian crucifixes, upright or averse, though it
does have oil and a bell. One might say it has cakes and ale, but
these are not the stolen and desecrated ones of an oppressor, but rather the natural secretions of the participants. I usually think of a Black Mass as a specific attack on the Catholic Rite, reversing and spoiling.
TM> The Star Ruby. Therion and Babalon, who are the Beast and the Scarlet
TM> Woman from the Apocalypse of John, and who are explicitly Satanic
TM> symbols. (The Star Ruby is the Thelemic recension of the Lesser Banishing
TM> Ritual of the Pentagram.)
Only Tim calls it "thelemic recension. It is interesting to note that this ritual was published in two forms by Crowley himself, the other one using Chaos, Babalon, Eros and Psyche. Babalon in this case refers, I think, to the Babalon of Dee and Kelly, rather than the Babalon of Revelation, though Dee and Kelly were certainly aware of the latter. (It pairs with Chaos, who in the Dee and Kelly system would be Choronzon.)
TM> The Star Sapphire. Set, a very close Satanic cognate, and Baphomet,
TM> the demon supposedly worshipped by the Templars.
This ritual is designed to unify opposites. Not surprising that Crowley's Christian opposites would be used. Note that L.V.X. is invoked at the end, and not N.O.X.
TM> The Mass of the Phoenix. The magician carves his or her breast with
TM> the Mark of the Beast, soaks the blood into a cake, and eats it.
I don't know what Tim's source is for the use of the Mark of the Beast.
It may be a confusion with the following ritual. This ritual says 'the proper sign', which I take to be a personal and individual symbol,
which for Crowley may well have been the Marlk of the Beast. But I've found no specific record of what the proper sign is.
TM> Liber V vel Reguli. "Being the Ritual of the Mark of the Beast".
TM> The Beast 666, Therion, Babalon, Averse Pentagrams, "Saturn or Satan
TM> is exalted in the House of Venus or Astarte", "the Father-Mother
TM> Set-Isis", and so on.
This ritual, being the Ritual of the Mark of the Beast, is especially personal to Crowley, and he notes that it is to be adapted for the
daily use of other Magicians.
TM> The Gnostic Mass. Chaos, Babalon, Baphomet, Abrasax, Therion, Simon
TM> Magus, and another reclaiming of the Black Mass with its naked virgin
TM> on the altar. (The G.S. form above is more adapted to the ceremonial
TM> use of two people, while this form is for the puhblic and is veiled
TM> with a cloak of symbolism.) Interestingly, something very like this
TM> ritual may have a great deal to do with our general conception of the
TM> Black Mass, coming from the Star Chamber affair in France. It is
TM> unclear how much of the accusations were exagerrated and brought into
TM> line with the Inquisitional mythology, and how much was an actual
TM> "amatory mass" as some of the sources refer to it.
I disagree from the outset that this is a Black Mass. It is, to me, the adaptation of the Russian Orthodox pomp and circumstance (very
impressive to a Plymouth Bretheren-raised individual) to a fertility religion. It is not the reverse of a religion, it is the use of very standard ritual for another religion.
TM> This ends the appendix containing the principal Thelemic rituals, with
TM> the exception of Liber Samekh. That is so important that it receives
TM> its own appendix, IV. As you know, the emphasis of Liber Samekh on
TM> Satan is intense. It also exalts the Beast and the Scarlet Woman yet
TM> again. This is the ritual of "the Attainment of the Knowledge and
TM> Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel" or Higher Self; in Crowley's
TM> case, he believed this "devil or angel" to be named Aiwaz or Aiwass,
TM> and to have delivered the Book of the Law, the foundation of Thelema.
Liber Samekh was originally developed by Crowley for Crowley at a
particular point on his path, where he was trying to get in contact with his HGA. Note that the Barbarous names themselves have nothing Satanic in them with the possible exception of the mention of Babalon, which I do not think is original. The source of these Barbarous names is a Greco-Egyptian papyrus. The satanic symbold Tim claims are in the ritual are in fact in Crowley's notations of his interpretations. In other words, we are back at Crowley's personal spiritual path. Note that within the ritual the choice of identification of the name and race of the aspirant is up to the aspirant. (This is explained in the commentary Point II, Section Aa) The original ritual had Moses and
Israel, when first rehashed by Mathers. Crowley chose Ankh-af-na-Khonsu and Khem, when he rewrote it, and refers to himself as The Beast 666 directly as an individual who picked these names for this purpose.
TM> I have not mentioned the constant repetition of the Serpent symbol,
TM> which for Crowley was interpreted along the lines of Genesis -- or an
TM> anti-Genesis which reclaimed the pagan symbol demonized in the Hebrew
TM> myth. Someone could object, after all, that Serpent-worship is hardly
TM> confined to Satanism; we have to see how much Crowley explicitly inverted
TM> the tail of the Bible before we can know certainly that he did the same
TM> with the head. So the Serpent or Snake has little evidentiary value
TM> in itself, except where it is very plainly a reference to Genesis, as
TM> in "I am the Snake that giveth Knowledge" in the Book of the Law.
TM> As we can see, there is not one Thelemic ritual, among those Crowley
TM> thought most important, which is lacking in Satanic symbols.
Tim is here defining Thelema as the aping of Crowley and the use of his personal rituals as dead instruments, rather than live examples.
I would rather call this Crowleyanity, a phase of the development
of the understanding of Thelema that Crowley foresaw and dreaded.
TM> Now, we should also consider Appendix VII, "A Few of the Principal
TM> Instructions Authorised by the A.'.A.'." These are much less Satanic
TM> by and large. Many of them have no Satanic references worth mentioning,
TM> such as the Yogic instructions of Liber HHH, Liber E, and Liber RV,
TM> and the Golden Dawn derived ceremonial magick practices of Liber O,
TM> Liber Yod, Liber Resh, and Liber A. Similarly for the past-life recall
TM> practice (perhaps Theosophical?) of Liber Thisharb and the penultimate
TM> practice of Liber B vel Magi. Yet there are other works in the same
TM> appendix which contain notable Satanic symbolism, such as Liber Astarte,
TM> Liber III, Liber Cheth, and Liber A'ash.
I find it suspicious that he doesn't quote any of these. The mention of Cerberus in Liber III is negative, and this ceratinly has Thelemic gods;
Nuit, Hadit, and the word ABRAHADABRA. Much of the symbolism is from the Book of the Law, the Priestess, the Ox, the Fool, though these do appear elsewhere as well, of course. Liber HHH opens with a quote from Liber LXV, and the aspiration is towards one's own HGA. Liber Astarte quote Liber LXV also and only warnings against the wiles of the devil's distractions, which in this case I take to be simply advice to not break concentration. He does mention Babalon at the end. In Liber RU he refers the reader to Liber XXV and Liber CLXXV, Astarte. These instructions are all intertwined and interrelated, and I think it is erroneous to base conclusions on a few of them, especially ignoring thelemic references when it is convenient to do so.
TM> The interesting thing about the instructions of this category is that,
TM> for the most part, they are not particularly Thelemic either. There is
TM> little mention of the Thelemic trinity of Nuit, Hadit, and Ra-Hoor-Khuit,
TM> or of the Book of the Law, or of the word Thelema, or "Do what thou wilt"
As I mention above. this is not true, apart from the purely ceremonial ritual instructions, such as are based on Hebrew CM traditions. It may be that Tim's definition of Thelemic is more restricted than mine. In fact, I think he defined it and then went looking for evidence.
TM> or its cognates such as "the law of liberty". Where these do occur, they
TM> are usually in passing rather than central to the instruction; and in
TM> nearly every case, the degree of Satanic symbolism is proportional to
TM> the degree of Thelemic symbolism.
I think this is an inaccurate representation. He is discounting half the books that have thelemic references, and simply claims they lack them.
This may relate to his more limited definition as to what is Thelemic.
TM> That is, there is hardly a book that contains noteworthy Satanic
TM> symbolism that does not also contain Thelemic symbolism of roughly equal
TM> note, and vice versa. The books which don't contain one rarely contain
TM> the other.
Basically when he discusses gods, he discusses gods. The other books deal with other matters. This is not surprising, given his range of interests.
TM> Liber A vel Armorum could be taken as a counterexample, but even there
TM> the quote from the Book of the Law is merely an opening clause having
TM> no import to the teaching in itself; it is a single sentence stating
TM> Crowley's authority to present the book. If it were omitted, it would
TM> have no effect on the instruction of how to construct elemental weapons.
TM> It's of no more significance than the mention of Typhon in Liber O.
Or perhaps Satan, SET, etc. in all the personally adaptable rituals?
TM> In Liber Astarte and Liber III, the Thelemic and the Satanic symbolism
TM> are both used in passing, almost as afterthoughts. (Astarte also contains
TM> some of the anti-Satanic symbolism that Crowley sometimes uses; the
TM> Thelemic devil is named Choronzon, and here he is presented as leading
TM> the aspirant astray.) In Astarte, the little Satanic symbolism consists
TM> of a reference to Babalon, which is also Thelemic symbolism; the only
TM> other Thelemic references are to Choronzon and a single short clause
TM> (out of fifty clauses) which urges the use of Thelemic books and
TM> aphorisms in the practice. In Liber III, the Thelemic mythology is
TM> solely in an opening benediction which (once again) could easily be
TM> omitted without having the slightest import to the meditation practice,
TM> while the Satanic symbol of "Cerebus, the great Beast of Hell" is almost
TM> as unimportant.
I think Tim is identifying as Thelemic only the mythology mentioned strictly in the Book of the Law. This may be the source of his only identifying Satanic mythology as Thelemic. Thelema embraces a good deal more than the Book of the Law, though of course it is central. But it is good to remember that Crowley got the Book of the Law when he was 29, before he got involved with the OTO, or started the A.'.A.'. He lived to be 72, and never stopped refining the system. The Book of the Law is without a doubt the most satanic book by Crowley. I think this has a lot to do with his state of development at that age.
TM> Was Crowley a Satanist? Is Thelema a form of Satanism? Only the most
TM> contrived definition of "Satanism" could answer these questions "no".
I think these are two very different questions. How does Tim define Thelema?
TM> What would Crowley have answered? In a dedication to "Why Jesus Wept",
TM> he told G. K. Chesterton that he, Crowley, had "found [his] Messiah in
TM> the Devil and all his angels", and showed through gematria that the
TM> Serpent was the true Messiah.
Here Crowley is baiting a Catholic, and catching Tim.
TM> In "Magick in Theory and Practice" (cap.IV) and "The Book of Thoth",
TM> and many other places, he praised Satan
TM> at length. He sang rapturous love-songs to the devil in his ritual
TM> practices, and gave him the unholy kiss referred to in the legends of
TM> the templars and the Sabbat. He wrote, in the last chapter of "Magick
TM> in Theory and Practice", that:
TM> "The Devil" is, historically, the God of any people that one
TM> personally dislikes. This has led to so much confusion of
TM> thought that THE BEAST 666 has preferred to let names stand
TM> as they are, and to proclaim simply that AIWAZ -- the solar-
TM> phallic-hermetic Lucifer -- is His own Holy Guardian Angel,
TM> and "The Devil" SATAN or HADIT of our particular unit of the
TM> Starry Universe. This serpent, SATAN, is not the enemy of
TM> Man, but HE who made Gods of our race, knowing Good and Evil;
TM> He bade "Know Thyself!" and taught Initiation. He is "the
TM> Devil" of the Book of Thoth, and His emblem is BAPHOMET, the
TM> Androgyne who is the hieroglyph of arcane perfection.
TM> We have no need to speculate on the issue. The man has spoken clearly
TM> for himself.
I agree with this final summation. Crowley has spoken for himself,
and specifically for his own HGA identification. That does not mean that Thelemites all have Satan as their HGA. It would be perfectly viable, if somewhat silly, to consider Hadit the Holy Ghost, Nuit Mary, and Ra-Hoor-Khuit Christ. 'I bring not peace, but a sword!'