Sacred Thelemic Texts

Sacred Thelemic Texts Cover The Book of the Law was written when Aleister Crowley was a Minor Adept of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. Subsequently he underwent an experience, called the "ordeal of the abyss," similar to the "dark night of the soul" of the mystics, in which he completely annihilated his human personality and achieved an extreme state of "psychic opening." He became completely open and receptive to the influx of the divine consciousness, an intense, intuitive, transrational, and ecstatic state of self-perfection and realization of reality in its fundamental and ultimate aspects. In this state, intermittently over a period of five years, Crowley wrote a series of books, ranging in length from several hundred to several thousand words, concerning which he declares that they are beyond rational criticism, i.e., absolutely and indubitably true. These books were written "automatically," i.e., without rational reflection, in a state of trance. These works constitute the revelatory foundation of the Law of Thelema, and are referred to, including the Book of the Law, as the Holy Books of Thelema. In order of writing, they are:

Liber AL vel Legis (1904 e.v.)
Liber Liberi vel Lapidis Lazuli (1907 e.v.)
Liber Cordis Cincti Serpente (ibid)
Liber Stellae Rubeae (ibid)
Liber Porta Lucis (ibid)
Liber Tau vel Kabbalae Trium Literarum (ibid)
Liber Trigrammaton (ibid)
Liber Ararita (1907 or 1908 e.v.)
Liber Arcanorum t Atu t Tahuti, etc. (1907 and 1911 e.v.)
Liber B vel Magi (1911 e.v.)
Liber Tzaddi vel Hamus Hermeticus (1911 e.v.)
Liber Cheth vel Vallum Abiegni (1911 e.v.)
Liber Aaeash vel Capricorni Pneumatici (1911 e.v.)

In addition to the foregoing, Crowley wrote (or, rather, dictated to his disciple and lover, the poet Victor Neuburg, in an ASC) The Vision and the Voice. The Vision and the Voice (properly, Liber XXX Aerum vel Saeculi) is a series of visions based on the Enochian magical workings of famed Elizabethan scholar john dee and his skryer Edward Kelley, to which Crowley tracesthe beginning of the process culminating in the advent of the New Aeon in 1904 e.v. Crowley claimed to be Edward Kelleyaes reincarnation. All but the first two visions were received in the Sahara Desert in 1909 e.v., to which he ascribed a combined classification, viz., A-B, Class aeAae being a "holy book" as discussed above, and Class aeBae an ordinary work of rational scholarship. A prefatory note to The Treasure House of Images, published in The Equinox in 1910 e.v., was assigned the aeAae classification. Liber NU and Liber HAD also contain instructions received directly from V.V.V.V.V., Crowleyaes motto as a Master of the Temple of the A...A..., which are presumably also Class aeA,ae since V.V.V.V.V. corresponds to Crowleyaes neschamah, the soul in its static aspect.

Finally, in 1925 e.v., after a hiatus of more than a decade, Crowley penned the last and the shortest of the Holy Books of Thelema, a short preamble to the Book of the Law of only 77 words (plus 27 words of quotation from the Book of the Law), in which both the study and discussion of the Book of the Law are specifically and absolutely prohibited. Most Thelemites today follow Crowleyaes lead in interpreting The Comment to mean that no one may publicly interpret the Law of Thelema, and that those who do so are to be shunned, despite the fact that the prohibition is only applied to the text of the Book of the Law itself, and not any other holy book. Consequently, little critical literature on the Law of Thelema (as distinct from biography) has appeared since Crowleyaes death in 1947 e.v., the only notable exception being the writings of Kenneth Grant (most importantly, The Magical Revival, aleister crowley and the Hidden God, and Hecateaes Fountain). However, Grant and his followers are shunned as heretics by many Thelemites, especially the followers of the American Caliphate, who accuse him of collaborating with John Symonds. Symonds, who many Thelemites believe exploited the aeold man" for personal profit and gain by hypocritically maneuvering himself into the position of Crowleyaes literary executor, is the author of several extremely hostile biographies of Aleister Crowley, as well as the co-editor with Kenneth Grant of a number of Crowleyaes writings. In his final Crowley biography, King of the Shadow Realm, Symonds claims that Crowley was actually psychotic (similar assertions are sometimes made about Carl Gustav Jung as well, and are clearly ideologically motivated).

The Holy Books of Thelema are remarkable by any standard, especially the two longest books, Liber Cordis Cincti Serpente and Liber Liberi vel Lapidis Lazuli, although personal hostility towards Crowley has caused them not to be as widely regarded as they should. Except the Book of the Law, the Holy Books of Thelema represent the high water mark of Aleister Crowleyaes literary career for sustained philosophical sublimity, lyric and symbolic beauty, and structural elegance. Often obscure, they are nevertheless potent and profound testaments to the ecstatic integrity of Aleister Crowleyaes spiritual realization. Liber Cordis Cincti Serpente is an account of the Attainment of the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel. Crowley also wrote a long and interesting commentary on this particular holy book. Liber Liberi vel Lapidis Lazuli describes the Ordeal of the Abyss from an universal perspective, whereas The Vision and the Voice documents Crowleyaes own attainment of this grade as well as offering innumerable insights into the Law of Thelema and the New Aeon in general. These two attainments, the Angel and the Abyss, constitute the two critical events in the life of the adept in Crowleyaes system, by which the aspirant becomes a Major Adept and a Master of the Temple respectively, and have considerable resonance with the perennial philosophy from which all authentic spiritual insights derive.

Another holy book, Liber Cheth vel Vallum Abiegni, describes the grade of Babe of the Abyss, and Liber B vel Magi describes the grade of Magus. Liber Porta Lucis and Liber Tzaddi vel Hamus Hermeticus describe Crowleyaes mission as Thelemic prophet and the task of initiation in the New Aeon. Liber Tau vel Kabbalae Trium Literarum explains the ordeals of the grades. Liber Ararita is a description of the spiritual path in extremely subtle and abstract language. Liber Trigrammaton describes the process of cosmic devolution. Liber Arcanorum interprets the Tarot trumps as an initiatory sequence. Liber Aaeash and Liber Stellae Rubeae offer practical instruction in sexual Tantra.

Liber AL vel Legis, the Latin rendering of the "Book of the Law," is of course Aiwassae proclamation of the advent of the New Aeon and its essential formulae (even although Crowley had not crossed the abyss when Aiwass revealed the Book of the Law, he classifies it as an holy book because it represents the dictation of Aiwass himself, who holds the rank of Ipsissimus, i.e., the highest possible grade. Crowley himself only attained this grade seventeen years later, in 1921 e.v., at which time he and Aiwass became one being: thus the relationship with the Holy Guardian Angel represents in the Thelemic view a kind of spiritual marriage).

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