MAGICK WITHOUT TEARS
Chapter LXXVI: The Gods: How and Why they Overlap
Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
I am glad: it shows you have been putting in some genuine original work. Result! You make a very shrewd observation; you have noticed the curious fashion in which Gods seem to overlap. It is not the same (you point out) with Angels. In no other system do we find a parallel for the Living Creatures, Wheels, Wings, Fiery Serpents,1 with such quasi-human cohorts as the Beni Elohim who beget the children on women,2 to whom the Qabalah has introduced us. The Beni Elohim is actually an exception; there is the Incubus and some of the Fairy Folk, as well as certain Gods and demi-Gods, who act thus paternally. But you are right in the main. The Arabs, for example, have "seven heavens" and seven Orders of Angels, also Jinn; but the classes are by no means identical. This, even though certain Archangels, notably Gabriel, appear in both systems. But then Gabriel is a definite individual, a person—and this fact is the key to your puzzle.
For, as I have explained in a previous letter, Gods are people: macrocosms, not mere collocations of the elements, planets and signs as are most of the angels, intelligences and spirits. It is interesting to note that Gabriel in particular seems to be more than one of these; he enjoys the divine privilege of being himself. Between you and me and the pylon, I suspect that Gabriel who gave the Q'uran to Mohammed was in reality a "Master" or messenger of some such person, more or less as Aiwass describes himself as "...the minister of Hoor-paar- kraat." (AL I, 7) His name implies some such function; for G.B.R. is Mercury between the Two Greater Lights, Sol and Luna. This seems to mean that he is something more than a lunar or terrestrial archangel; as he would appear to be from 777. (There now! That was my private fiend again—the Demon of Digression. Back to our Gods!) 777 itself, to say nothing of The Golden Bough and the Good Lord knows how many other similar monuments of lexicography (for really they are little more), is our text-book. We are bound to note at once that the Gods sympathise, run into one another, coalesce much more closely than any other of the Orders of Being. There is not really much in common between a jackal and a beetle, or between a wolf and an owl, although they are grouped under Pisces or Aries respectively. But Adonis, Attis, Osiris, Melcarth, Mithras, Marsyas — — — a whole string of them comes tripping off the tongue. They all have histories; their birth, their life, their death, their subsequent career; all goes naturally with them exactly as if they were (say) a set of warriors, painters, anything superbly human. We feel instinctively that we know them, or at least know of them in the same sense that we know of our fellow men and women; and that is a sense which never so much as occurs to us when we discuss Archangels. The great exception is the Holy Guardian Angel; and this as I have shewn in another letter is for exactly the same reason; He is a Person, a macrocosmic Individual. (We do not know about his birth and so on; but that is because he is, so to speak, a private God; he only appears to the world at all through some reference to him by his client; for instance, the genius or Augoeides of Socrates).
Let us see how this works in practice. Consider Zeus, Jupiter, Amon- Ra, Indra, etc., we can think of them as the same identical people known and described by Greeks, Romans, Egyptians and Hindus; they differ as Mont Cervin differs from Monte Silvio and the Matterhorn.
(They are bound to appear different, because the mountain does not look the same from Zermatt as it does from Domodossola, or even as seen by a French-Swiss and a German-Swiss.) In the same way read the Life of Napoleon written by one of his marshals, by Michelet (a rabid Republican), by Lord Rosebery, by a patriotic Russian, and by a German poet and philosopher: one can hardly believe that the subject of any two of these biographies is the same man.
But upon certain points the identity is bound to transpire; even when we read of his crushing and classic defeat at Waterloo by the Belgians, the man is detected. Transferring the analogy to the Gods, it is then open to us to suppose that Tahuti, Thoth, Hermes, Mercury, Loki, Hanuman and the rest are identical, and that the diversity of the name and the series of exploits is due merely to the accidents of time and space. But it is at least equally plausible to suggest that these Gods are different individuals, although of the identical Order of Being, characteristics and function. Very much as if one took Drake, Frobisher, Raleigh, Hood, Blake, Rodney and Nelson, as seen through the mists of history, tradition, legend and plain mythopoeia. Add a few names not English, and our position is closely parallel. Personally, I incline to the latter hypothesis; but it would be hard to say why, unless that it is because I feel that to identify them completely would be to reduce their stature to that of personifications of various cosmic energies.
History lends its weight to my view. When the philosophic schools, unable to refute the charge of absurdity leveled at the orthodox devotee who believed that Mars actually begot Romulus and Remus on a Vestal Virgin, explained that Mars was no more than the martial instinct, and the Virgin a type of Purity, their faith declined, and with it Roman Virtue. "Educate" Colonel Blimp's children and we have the "intelligentsia" of Bloomsbury. I am very sorry about all this; but life must always be brutal and stupid so long as it depends upon animals and vegetables for nourishment.
How restore faith in the Gods? There is only one way; we must get to know them personally. And that, of course, is one of the principal tasks of the Magician.
One further remark. I have suggested that all these "identical" gods are in reality distinct persons, but belonging to the same families. Can we follow up this line of thought? Yes: but I will defer it to a subsequent letter.
Love is the law, love under will.
1: These are just the English names of various of the Qabalisitc "Choirs of Angels." – T.S.
2: Genesis VI. 2, 4. See also the Book of Enoch – T.S.
Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
Your remarks on my 0 = 2 letter are very apt and inspiriting—that is if I have rightly understood what you want to say. (Really, you know, they are a bit muddled—or I am!) May I frame your question, if it is a question, in my own terms? Yes? Right.
You say that I have advanced an invulnerable theory of the Universe in philosophical and mathematical language, and you suppose (underlined three times with two question marks) that one could, with a great effort, deduce therefrom perfectly good reasons for an unswerving contemplation of one's umbilicus, or the performance of strange dances and the vibration of mysterious names. But what are you to say (you enquire) to the ordinary Bloke-on-the-Boulevard, to the man of the world who has acquired a shrewd knowledge of Nature, but finds no rational guide to the conduct of life. He observes many unsatisfactory elements in the way things go, and for his own sake would like to "remould them nearer to the heart's desire, to refurbish the cliché of Fitzgerald about "this sorry scheme of things." He is not in the least interested in the learned exposition of 0 = 2. But he is aware that the A.'. A.'. professes a sound solution of the problem of conduct and would like to know if its programme can be justified in terms of Common Sense.
As luck would have it, only a few weeks ago I was asked to address a group of just such people—and they gave me three-quarters of an hour's notice. It was really more like ten minutes, as the rest of the time was bespoke by letter-writing and posting which could in no wise be postponed.
So I had to devise an adequate gambit, one which ruthlessly excluded any touch of subtlety, or any assumption of previous knowledge of the subject on the part of the audience.
It came off. For the first time in history, the laymen elicited intelligent and relevant questions. There were only three half-wits in the five score or so persons present, and these (naturally!) were just those people who claimed to have studied the subject.
What follows is a rough outline of my argument.
I began by pointing out that Nature exercises many forms of Energy, which are not directly observable by the senses. In fact, the History of Science for the last hundred and fifty years or so has consisted principally of the discovery of such types, with their analysis, measurement and manipulation. There is every reason to suppose that many such remain to be discovered.
But what has in no case been observed is any trace of will or of intelligence, except through some apparatus involving a nervous and cerebral system.
At this point I want especially to call your attention to certain species of animals (bees and termites are obvious cases) where a collective consciousness seems to exist, since the community acts as a whole in evidently purposeful ways, yet the units of that community are not even complete in themselves. (Isn't there some series of worms, each sub-type able only to subsist on the excrement of its preserver in the series?)
Then there are the phenomena of mob psychology, where a crowd gleefully combine to perform acts which would horrify any single individual. And there is the exceeding strange and interesting psychology of the "partouse"—this is a little more, in my judgment, than a spinthria.
In all such cases the operative consciousness does not reside in any single person, as one might argue that it did when an orator "carries away" his audience. But these remarks have rather shunted one into a siding away from the main line of argument. My most important point is to insist that even with the most familiar forms of energy, man has done no creative work so ever. He has discovered, examined, measured (rather clumsily) and used, but in no case has he understood, still less explained, the causes of phenomena. Sometimes he cannot even reconcile different "laws of Nature." So we find J.W.N. Sullivan exclaiming "The scientific adventure may yet have to be abandoned," and to me personally he confessed "It may yet turn out that the mathematical approach to Reality may have to be supplanted by the Magical."
Now in Nature it leaps at one that Will and Intelligence are behind phenomena. My old friend and colleague Professor Buckmaster, who wrote a book on "Blood" which, he admitted, could not possibly be understood by more than six people, told me that the ingenuity of the structure of the human kidney "almost frightened" him. Yet in all Nature there is no trace whatever of any purpose such as human mentality can grasp. Again, apparent purpose often appears to be baffled. Take one example. Evolution, working through thousands of years to establish a most subtle scheme of cross-fertilization, found, just as it was perfect, conditions so altered that it was completely useless.The "law of cause and effect" itself took a death-blow when Hesinger showed that the old formula "If A then B" was invalid, and must be altered to "If A, then B or C or D or E or . . . "
But at least we know enough phenomena to make it certain that Will and Intelligence do exist somehow apart from any nervous and cerebral system of which we are aware, and that these must be of a type which transcends our human consciousness as that does that of a limpet or a lichen. It follows that somehow, somewhere, there must be "gods" or "Masters"—whatever name you like. And that, I suppose, is what you may call the premise major of my syllogism.
The minor, I confess, is not so apodeictic. No one, I suppose, is going to point proudly to the present state of human affairs, as evidence that we are all becoming wiser and nobler every minute, as people did seventy years ago. (I was brought up in the faith that Queen Victoria would never die, and that Consols would never go below par.)
In face, one may suspect that the majority of well-instructed men expect nothing but that History will repeat itself, and our civilization go the way of all the others whose ruins we dig up in every quarter of the earth.
(Our own destruction may be more complete than theirs; for most of the monuments to our intelligence, sobriety and industry are made of steel, and would vanish in a very few years after the smash.)
Well, if we have to wait for the calamity, and for evolution to begin all over again in a number of centuries—with luck!—one thing is at least quite certain: we can do nothing about it. Any form of activity must be as futile and as fatuous as any other; and the only sensible philosophy must be "Let us eat and drink for tomorrow we die."
Is there a conceivable alternative?
Well, consider the cause of the impending collapse. It is quite simple: Knowledge is loose, without control of Will and of Intelligence. (How clearly the Qabalah states and demonstrates this doctrine! But I musn't be naughty; let me stick to Common Sense!)
Now, these qualities in us having failed to measure up to the situation of the world, one hope remains; to get into communication with those "gods" or "masters" whose existence was demonstrated in my Premise Major and learn from Them.
But is this possible?
Tradition and experience unite to assert that it is so; moreover, various forms of technique for accomplishing this are at our disposal. This is what is called The Great Work; and it is abundantly clear that no other aim is worth pursuit.
So much for the argument; it will be agreed readily enough that to put it into practice we shall need an Alphabet, a Grammar and a Dictionary. Follow the Axioms, the Postulates, the Theorems; finally, the Experiments.
And that is what all these letters are about.
Love is the law, love under will.
Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
Three in one and one in three—it's the Athanasian Creed in the Black Mass—eh! What's that you say? Oh, quite right, quite, quite right of you to remind me. "Definition first!"
A "sore spot" is one which reacts abnormally and violently, however gently you touch it; more, all the other bits of you give a painful jerk, however disconnected they may seem. Still more, the entire System undergoes a spasm of apprehension; and the total result is that the mental as well as the physical system is quite unable to grasp the situation with any accuracy, and the whole man is temporarily engulphed in what is naturally not far from a condition of insanity.
(Now, Athanasius! It's all right; the lady has gone away to think it over.)
In—shall I say "Anglo-Saxondom," or "Teutonic breeds," or "bourgeoisie," so as to include some of the French whom when they are good are very good indeed, but when they are bad, they are horrid?—the presiding God/Gods of this Trinity is/are: 1. Sex, 2. Religion, 3. "Drugs;" and the greatest of these is Sex, actually the main root of which the other two are tough and twisted stems, each with its peculiar species of poisonous flowers, sometimes superficially so attractive that their nastiness passes for Beauty.
I shall leave it to the psychoanalysts to demonstrate the reduction to Sex, merely remarking that though I agree with their analysis as far as it goes, I do not allow it to stop where they do.
For us, Sex is the first unconscious manifestation of Chiah, the Creative Energy; and although (like everything else) it is shown both on the spiritual and the physical planes, its most important forth-showing is on the "Magical" plane, because it actually produces phenomena which partake of all these. It is the True Will on the creative plane: "By Wisdom formed He the worlds." So soon as its thaumaturgy is accomplished, it is, through Binah, understood as the Logos. Thus in Sex we find every one of the primary Correspondences of Chokmah. Being thus ineffable and sacrosanct, it is (plainly enough) peculiarly liable to profanation. Being profaned, it is naturally more unspeakably nasty than any other of the "Mysteries." You will find a good deal on this subject implied in Artemis Iota, attached to another of my letters to you.
Before tackling "Sore Spots" seriously, there is after all, one point which should be made clear as to this Trinitarian simplification.
One of the most interesting and fruitful periods of my life was when I was involved in research as to the meaning of Sankhara: "tendencies" may be, indeed is, a good enough translation, but it leaves one very much as deeply in the dark as before. You remember—I hope!—that Sankhara lies between Vinnanam, Pure Consciousness, and Sanna, Perception. For instance, an electric fan in motion: a house-fly "tends" to see the vanes as we do when they are still, we "tend" to see a diaphanous blur.
Then, in delirium tremens, why do we tend to see pink rats rather than begonias or gazelles?
We tend to see the myriad flashing colours of the humming bird; the bird itself does not; it has no apparatus of colour-sense; to him all appears a neutral tint, varying only in degrees of brightness.
Such were some of the fundamental facts that directed the course of my research, whose results you may read in "The Psychology of Hashish", by Oliver Haddo in The Equinox, Vol. I, No. 2. The general basis of this Essay is Sankhara; it shows how very striking are the analogies between, (1) the results obtained by Mystics—this includes the Ecstasy of Sexual Feeling, as you may read in pretty nearly all of them, from St. Augustine to St. Teresa and the Nun Gertrude. The stages recounted by the Buddha in his psychological analyses correspond with almost incredible accuracy. (2) The phenomena observed by those who use opium, hashish, and some other "drugs" (3) The phenomena of various forms of insanity.
The facts of this research are infuriating to the religious mystic; and the fact of its main conclusion is liable to drive him into so delirious a frenzy of rage as to make one reach for one's notebook—one more typical extreme case!
Now of course very few religious persons know that they are mystics—already it annoys them to suggest it!—but, whether the lady doth protest too much, or too little, the fact is that they are. There is no true rational meaning in religion. Consider the Athanasian Creed itself!
Observe that the rationalist dare not yield a millionth of a millimetre.
"First cut the Liquefaction, what comes next
says Bishop Blougram, and is pinned to the cork labelled "St. Januarius"!
This dilemma, consciously or subconsciously, is well rooted in the minds of everybody who takes Life, in any one of its forms, seriously. He feels the touch of the rapier, however shrewdly or cautiously wielded. The salute itself is more than enough; he feels already the thrust to his vitals.
I remember sailing happily in to breakfast at Camberwell Vicarage, and saying cheerfully, in absolute good faith: "A fine morning, Mr. Kelly!" I was astounded at the reply. The dear old gentleman—and he really was one of the best!—half choked, then gobbled at me like a turkey! "You're a very insolent young man!" Poor, tiny Aleister! How was I to know that his son had driven it well home that the hallmark of English stupidity was that the only safe topic of conversation was the weather. And so my greeting was instantly construed as a deliberate insult!
A typical example of the irrationality of the reactions of a sufferer!
Now, from this schoolboy level, let us rise and put the case a little more strongly. Let us quit the shallows of social backchat for the gloomy and horrific abysses of a murder trial!
To every man and woman that has not seen Sex as it is, faced it, mastered it—you will find elsewhere in these letters sufficient on this matter—it is his secret guilt. Imagine, then, how at any reference however remote, the "sinner" quails, his inmost mystery laid bare, his evil conscience holding up a tarnished mirror to his deformed and hideous face!" Often enough, he does not mind gross jests which admit complicity on the part of the other; but any allusion to the Truth, and his soul shrieks: I am found out!" Then apoplectic Fear puts on the mask of Indignation and Disgust.
As for a serious discussion of anything concerned therewith, why, every word is a new rasping tear. The mind takes refuge in irrational and irrelevant outbursts of feigned rage and horror.
In the case of religion, the consciousness of guilt extended to cover everything from "playin' chuch-farden on the bless‚d tombstones" to "the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost." Against this vague and monstrous bogey, religion is the only safeguard, and therefore to suggest the unsoundness of the guarantee is to strike at the roots of all security. It is like hinting to some besotted and uxorious oldster, that his young wife may be unfaithful. It is the poison that Iago dripped so skillfully into the long hairy ear of the dull Moor. So he reacts irrationally—every bush conceals a bear—nay, more likely a Boojum,1 or a Bunyip,2 or some other creature of fear-spurred Imagination! "Monstrum informe, ingens, horrendum."3 Note well the "informe."
And because the guarantee is unsound (and must be, or where would be the point of "Faith"?) reassurance is in the nature of things impossible. Like the demented rider in The Erl-King, the chase goes ever wilder and wilder, until he plunges at the end into the bottomless bog of madness and destruction.
I wonder how many lunatics there are in the "bughouse" to-day—in the times of "evangelical revival" the number was fantastic—who got there through fear that they had somehow committed the aforesaid "blasphemy against the Holy Ghost." The unknown again. The Bible does not tell us that it is; only that it is unpardonable. Nor Grace, nor Faith, nor predestination avail in the least; for all you know, you may have committed it. Reassurance is impossible; no ceinture de chastetée‚ avails to avert this danger.
Again with drugs, it is the unknown which is the horrific factor. Most people get their information on the subject from the yellowest of yellow newspapers, magazines and novels. So darkly deep is their ignorance that that do not know what the word means—like us so often, yes?
Wide sections of the U.S.A. are scared of tea and coffee. They blench when you point out that bicarbonate of soda is a drug just as much as cocaine; at the same time they literally shovel in the really dangerous Aspirin, to say nothing of the thousand Patent Medicines blared at them from every radio—as if the Press were not enough to poison the whole population! Blank-eyed, they gasp when they learn that of all classes, the first place among "drug addicts" is that of the doctor.
But the crisis in which fear becomes phobia is the unreasoning aversion, the shuddering of panic, above all, the passionate refusal to learn anything about "drugs," to analyse the conditions, still less to face them; and the spasmodic invention of imaginary terrors, as if the real dangers were not enough to serve as a warning.
Now why? Surely because in the sub-conscious lies an instinct that in these obscure medicines indeed lies the key of some forbidden sanctuary. There is a fascination as irrational and therefore as strong, as the fear. Here is the point at which they link up with sex and religion. Oh, how well nigh almighty is the urgency to him who reads those few great writers who understood the subject from experience: de Quincey, Ludlow, Poe and Baudelaire: into whom burn the pointed parallels between their adventures and those of all the mystics, East and West!
The worst of this correspondence-form is that you are always asking simple elementary questions which require half a dozen treatises to answer: so, take this, with my blessing!
Love is the law, love under will.
P.S. One further reflection. With all these "sore spots" is closely linked the idea of cruelty. I need not touch upon the relation of cruelty to sex; the theme has been worn threadbare. But in religion, note the Bottomless Pit and the Eternal Flame; in Buddhism, the eighteen hot and eighteen cold Hells, with many another beneath. Hindu eschatology has countless Hells; even pedestrian, precise Islam, and the calculating Qabalists, each boast of Seven. Again with drugs as with insanity, we are confronted constantly with nameless terrors; the idea of formlessness, of infinity pervades them alike. Consider the man who takes every chance gesture of a stranger in the street as a secret sign passed from one of his persecutors to another; consider those who refuse food because of the mysterious conspiracy to poison them.
All sanity, which is all Science, is founded upon Limit. We must be able to cut off, to define, to measure. Naturally, then, their opposites, Insanity and Religion, have for their prime characteristic, the Indefinable, Incomprehensible, Immeasurable.
The healing virtue of these words is this: examine the sore spot, analyse it, probe it; then disinfection and the Vis Medicatrix Naturae, complete the cure.
I had just finished this when in comes your very pertinent "Supplementary"" Postcard. "Doesn't hypocrisy fit in here, somehow?" Indeed it does, my child!
Corresponding to, and the poison bacillus of, that centre of infection, is a Trinity of pure Evil, the total abnegation of Thelema. Well known to the psycho-analyst: the name thereof Shame—Guilt—Fear. The Anglo-Saxon or bourgeois mentality is soaked therein; and his remedy so far from our exploratory-disinfection method, is to hide the gangrened mass with dirty poultices. He has always a text of Scripture or some other authority to paint his foulest acts in glowing colours; and if he wants a glass of beer, he hates the stuff, but —doctor's orders, my boy, doctor's orders.—
There is really nothing new to be said about hypocrisy; it has been analysed, exposed, lashed by every great Artist; quite without effect. It gets worse as the socialistic idea thrives, as the individual leans ever harder on the moral support of the herd.*
* Here is a most pertinent story from I Write as I Please by my old friend, Walter Duranty. It shows how the sentimental point of view blinds its addicts to the most obvious facts.
"My friend Freddy Lyon . . . told me a story . . . of the Volga Famine. Some A.R.A. 'higher-ups' from New York were making a tour of inspection . . . Among them was a worthy but sentimental citizen who gushed about the unhappy Russians and the poor little starving children and what a privilege it was for Mr. Lyon to be doing this noble work for humanity and so on and so forth until Lyon said he was ready to choke him . . . After lunch the visitors suggested they would like to visit the cemetary. It was, said Freddy, a horrid sight, nude, dead bodies piled up ten high like faggots, because the population was so destitute that every stitch of clothing was needed for the living. The visitors were sickened by what they saw, and even the gushing one was silent as they walked back to the cemetery gate. Suddenly he caught Freddy by the arm. 'Look there!' he said, 'Is not that something to restore our faith in the goodness of God in the midst of all these horrors?' He pointed to a big woolly dog lying asleep on a grave with his head between his paws, and continued impressively. 'Faithful unto death and beyond. I have often heard of a dog refusing to be comforted when his master died, lying desolate on his grave, but I never thought to see such a thing my- self.' That was too much for Freddy Lyon. 'Yes,' he said cruelly, 'but look at the dog's paws and muzzle'—they were stiff with clotted blood—'he's not mourning his master, he's sleeping off a meal.'
'At which point,' Lyon concluded his story with gusto, 'that talkative guy did the opposite of sleeping off his lunch in a very thorough manner, and there wasn't another peep out of him until we put him on the train.'"
P.S. Here is a very different set of reactions. I do not quite know why I am putting it in; is it some sub-conscious attraction of my own? Anyhow, here it is; call it
LA POULE AUX RATS
Time: a fine Sunday evening in June, just one and twenty years ago. Place: Paris, just off the Place des Tertres, overlooking the city. A large and lovely studio, panelled in oak. Strange: it was completely bare, and so far as one could see, it had no door. The skylights, mindful, were carefully screened with broidered stuff. A gallery, some ten feet from the floor, ran round one corner. Here was a buffet loaded with priceless wines and liquors of all sorts—except the "soft"—and excellent variety of all cold "snack" refreshments. One gained it by a staircase from the lower floor.
By the buffet, the old butler: oh, for a painter to portray his Weariness of Evil Wisdom!
Our host led us to the gallery; "we ate and drank and saw" not God also, but the lady responsible for the heavy tread upon the stairs. A woman of the Halles Centrales, in her early forties; coarse, brutal, ugly, robust, square-set, curiously radiant with some magnetic form of energy.
I cannot describe her clothes—for lack of material. She greeted us all round with a sort of surly good humour. The butler took a pot of very far-gone Roquefort cheese, and smeared her all over. She drank to us, and clumped away downstairs. She came out into the studio from under the gallery, braced herself and shook her mop of hair as if about to wrestle, waved to us and waited.
A minute later a small trap at the far end of the studio was smartly pulled up; in rushed a hundred starving rats. There was a moment's hesitation; but the smell of the cheese was too much, and they rushed her. She caught one in both hands, bit through its spine, and flung it aside.
Softly repeating to myself passages from The Revenge by the late Alfred Lord Tennyson, of which the scene most powerfully reminded me. "Rat after rat, for half an hour, flung back as fast as it came." Their courage wilted; the hunted became the huntress; I thought of Artemis as I sang softly to myself, "When the hounds of spring are on winter's traces."4 But she pursued; snapped the last spine, and flung it into the gallery with a yell of triumph.
It was not so easy a victory as I have perhaps described it, once she slipped in the slime and came down with a thud; and at the end blood spurted from innumerable bites.
The whole scene was too much for most of the men; they literally howled liked famished wolves, and shook the balustrade until it creaked and groaned. Presently one slipped over, let himself lightly to the floor and charged. Others followed. All had their heart's desire. I was reminded of Swinburn's Laus Veneris,
"I let mine eyes have all their will of thee
As for the women, the ferocious glitter of their eyes was almost terrifying. One of them, true, would have joined the happy warriors below; but the butler roughly pulled her back, saying in a shocked voice, "Madame est normale." (I enjoyed that!) Others consoled themselves by capturing those males who were too timid to risk the jump.
I swallowed a last glass of champagne, and then "je filai a l'Anglais."
Summary: a pleasant time was had by all.
Note for political economists: the woman took 10,000 francs (at about 125 to the £); she took three weeks in hospital and three weeks' holiday between the shows. She was, or had been, the mistress of a Minister with "people" ideas, though he was an aristocrat of very old vintage; and he helped her to have her daughters brought up in one of the most exclusive convents in France.
Kenneth Grant, who was doing secretarial work for Crowley around the time some of the letters in Magick Without Tears were written, later printed in his Remembering Aleister Crowley (London: Skoob, 1991) some material originally intended for this letter which he had written down in a notebook and then misplaced:
1: See The Hunting of the Snark by Lewis Carroll — T.S.
2: "According to Australian aboriginal folk-lore, a man-eating bellowing monster who drags his victims down to the bottom of the lake or swamp that he inhabits. It is also used to mean an 'impostor'." (Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, s.v. "Bunyip")
3: Lat., "a formless, huge, fearful monster."
4: Swinburne, Atalanta in Calydon.
Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
You will certainly have to have an india-rubber medal for persistence: this is the nth time that you have tried to catch me contradicting myself.
Well, so I do, and must, every time I make any statement whatever, as has been shown several times in this chatty little interchange of views. But that is not what you mean.
You say—permit me to condense your more than somewhat tautological, pleonastic, prolix, diffuse and incoherent elucubrations!—that the whole idea of the Great Order is based on faith in Progress. The doctrine of successive aeons is nothing else. The system of training is nothing else. Nothing, in fact, is anything else. Maugr‚ this and in despite thereof (you continue, with a knavish gleam in your hither eye) I am everlastingly throwing down the whole jerry-built castle by my cynical reflections. (Some one—Anthony Hope in a lucid moment, I think—says that cynicism is always a confession of failure—"sour grapes.") Maybe, some of the time. But the explanation is very simple, and you ought to have been able to think it out for yourself. It is a question of the "Universe of Discourse," of Perspective. An engineer may swear himself ultra-marine in the map all the time at the daily mistakes and mishaps that go on all the time under his nose, yet at dinner tell his friends complacently that the bridge is going up better than he ever expected.
Just so, my gibes are directed at incidents; but my heart's truth is fixed on the grand spiral.
All the same, I am glad you wrote; it is a text for a little sermon that I have had in mind for a long while on the conditions of progress.
Number One is obviously Irregularity, Eccentricity, Disorder, the Revolutionary Spirit, Experiment.
I have no patience whatever with Utopia-mongers. Biology simply shouts at us that the happy contented community, everyone with his own (often highly specialized) job, nobody in need, nobody in danger, is necessarily stagnant. Termites and other ants, bees, beavers; these and many another have produced perfect systems. What is the first characteristic? Stupidity. "Where there is no vision, the people shall perish." What is the Fighter Termite to do, after he has been blocked out of his home? None of these communities possess any resource at all against any unforeseen unfavourable change of circumstance. (We look rather like that just now at the end of 1944 e.v.) Nor does anyone of them show any achievement; having got to the end of their biological tether, they stay out, without an aim, an idea, an effort. The leech, an insufferable pest in its belt—it has killed off tiger, rhinoceros, anything with a nostril!—is the curse of our military station at Lebong—or was when I was there. At Darjeeling, a few hundred feet higher, devil a one! They have no one to think: now how can we flourish up higher? Those old forlorn-hope Miss-Sahibs—how wide are their nostrils! Then—how?
Consider for a moment our own Empire. How did that spread all over the planet? It was the imaginative logic, the audacity, the adroit adaptability, of the Adventurer that blasted the road.
The sunny Socialist smiles his superior smile, and condescends to instruct us. That was an unfortunate, though perhaps sometimes necessary, stage in the perfection of Society.
Something in that. But there are other kinds of Adventure. My imagination can set no limit to the possibilities of Science, or of Art: our own Great Work is evidence of that.
Last Sunday I looked through an interview with the least brain-bound of these ruminators—poor old, dear old G. for gaga Bernard Shaw.
The artist, said he, was a special case. he should have a nice easy job, three or four hours a day, and be free for the rest of it to devote himself to his Art. I wonder how much of his own work would have seen daylight if he had been tied to some silly robot soul-killing, nerve- crushing, mind-infuriating routine job for even one half-hour a day! When I am on a piece of work, I grudge the time for eating; and when it's done, I need the absolute relaxation of leisured luxury.
Then what of the Work itself? If the Idea be truly new and important, God help it! The whole class of men affected jump on it with one accord, if haply they may crush it in the germ. Read a little of the History of Medicine! Any man who shows a sign of independent thought is watched, is thwarted. He persists and is threatened and bullied. He persists; every engine of oppression is set in motion against him. Then something snaps; either they succeed in killing him (Ross, who defeated malaria, nearly starved to death) or they make him a baronet, or a peer, or make his death a Day of National Mourning, and bury him in the Pantheon—"auc grands hommes la patrie reconnaissante"—like Pasteur after one of the most infamous campaigns of persecution in history.
Then, of course, entertainment must be standardized. It costs money to produce; and who will produce anything which can only appeal to the very few—to none at all, soon, if these swine have their way. So, if it is new, is original, is worth one's while, it must be ignored.
Besides, being new and incomprehensible to the great Us, it may be dangerous, and must be suppressed.
In all literature I know no pages so terrifying as those in Louis Marlow's Mr. Amberthwaite, which describe his dream. I wish I could quote it, with Sinai as the orchestra; never mind, read it again. And we are on the way—far on the way—to That!
Now, obviously, the robot education, robot textbooks stuffed in by robot teachers, will have done wonders with the help of the bovine well-being to produce a race of robot boys.
All independence, all imagination, all spirit of Adventure, will have been ground down and rolled out smooth by this ghastly engine. But—
Nature is not so easily beaten; a few boys and girls will somehow escape, and either by instinct or by observation, have the sense to keep secret. Now whatever their own peculiar genius may select as their line, they will realise that nothing is possible in any way while the accursed system stands. Their first duty is Revolt. And presently some one will come along with the wit and the will and the weapon, and blow the whole most damnable bag of tricks sky-high.
We had better busy ourselves about this while it is still possible to get back to freedom without universal bloodshed.
"All right, Master, you win! Now give us your own idea of Utopia."
An Utopia to end Utopias? Very good, so I will. Education, to begin with; well, you've had all that in another letter. The main thing to remember is that I want every individual taught as such, according to his own special qualities. Then, teach them both sides of every question: history, for example, as the play of economic forces, also, as due to the intervention of Divine Providence, or of "Sports" of genius: and so for the rest. Train them to doubt—and to dare!
Then, somehow, as large a number of the most promising rebels should be selected to lead a life of luxury and leisure. Let every country, by dint of honouring its old traditions, be as different as possible from every other. Restore the "Grand tour," or rather, the roving Englishman of the Nineteenth Century. Entrust them with the secrets of discipline, of authority, or power. Hardship and danger in full measure: and responsibility.
A great deal of such material will be as disgustingly wasted as it has been in the past; and there will be much abuse of privilege. But this must be allowed and allowed for; no very great harm will result, as the weak and vicious will weed themselves out.
The pure gold will repay us ten thousandfold. You ask examples? With us, the Elizabethan and the Victorian periods stand out. What is most wanted is opportunity and reward. Under Victoria there was some—taste the late Samuel Smiles Esquire, D.D. (wasn't he?)—but not enough, and Industrialism, the mother and nurse of Socialism, was destroying the soul of the people.
In my not very maternal remarks on Mother-love, was included the substance of the one wise saying of my pet American lunatic "You can't get past their biology." This is so true, and so disheartening, that it arouses me to combat. Must we for ever be bound to the inconvenient habit of sows and cabbages? I pick up the glove.
Isn't it Aldous Huxley who says somewhere that some species or other can never develop higher powers because its brain is shut in by its carapace? I thought this too, long ago; and I went into interminable conferences with my old friend, Professor Buckmaster; I wanted to extend brain surgery to produce the phenomena of Yoga. Also, I wondered what would happened if we wedged apart the sections of the cranium at, or shortly after, birth, so as to prevent them closing and giving the brain a chance to grow.
I suspect, by the way, that something of the sort is done in China and Burma; but the object is merely to produce megalocephalic idiots as a valuable addition to the financial resources of the family.
I thought that modern physiology, with its great recent advances in knowledge of the specialized functions of the brain, might quite possibly succeed in producing genius.
You would not surprise me if you told me that something of the sort is being tried in Russia, with its Communism modelled so closely on that of Ivan the Terrible at the moment, war or no war! Qui vivra verra.
Anyhow, all that I really want you to get into your head "sunning over with little curls" is that Progress demands Anarchy tempered by Common Sense, and that the most formidable obstacle is this Biology.
The experience of the Magician and the Yogi does suggest that there is room in the human brain as at present constituted for almost limitless expansion. At least our system of Training is more immediately practical than digging up our Corpora Quadragenina and planting them in a Monkey's Medulla just to see what will come of it. So put down that bread-knife!
Love is the law, love under will.
Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
In one or two—no, I think more like three or four—letters of yours to hand in the last couple of months, you have put forward various excuses for slackness, the necessities of your economic situation. You say you must have "regular work," and a "steady income" and all that sort of thing. My innocent child, that species of Magick is quite simple. Take the horns of a hare . . . That's enough for the present: I'll tell you what to do with them when you've got them.
In Macbeth we read—
.. . . "Security
but this is another kind of security; it is the Hubris which "tempts Providence," the insolence of thinking that nothing can go wrong.
Anyhow, there's no such thing as safety. Life is a gamble. From the moment of incarnation a million accidents are possible. Miscarriage, still-birth, abortion; throughout life, until your heart beats for the last time, "you never can tell" – — — — and then you start all over again with your next incarnation!
(I wish I had a copy of a short story of mine called "Every Precaution." The gallant young Uplift Expert, the one hundred per cent red-blooded, clean-living, heir of the Eternities, takes his young fiancée and female counterpart to the "Old Absinthe House" in New Orleans to show her the terrible results of Wrong-Doing. They are going to avoid all that; their child is going to be the Quintessence of Americanism.
They marry and take a cottage by Lake Pasquaney. Presently, he being (so she said) away on a business trip, the tradesmen complained that she seemed to need very little pabulum. Somehow, people got suspicious, and sure enough, when they broke in, they found that she had pickled him! This story is founded on fact; damn it, why did the MS have to get lost?)
Even suicide is not a "dead bird." I knew a creature once—careless observers often mistook him of a man—who tried three times, pistol, rope and poison. Something always went wrong. (Like the Babbacombe murderer, who went to the scaffold three times, and lived to a green old age!) Finally he did poison himself, by accident, when he had no intention whatever of doing anything of the sort.
Where's the Book of Lies? Ah, here we are. "It is Pure Chance that rules the Universe; therefore, and only therefore, life is good."1
Then, is it mere fatuity and folly to make plans? Was not the IXth Atu, the Hermit, also at one time called "Prudence?"2 Of course. Abstract philosophy rarely coincides with common-sense. We should plan as carefully as we can; but we should always allow a margin for every conceivable accident.
Nor should we trust to luck, like England, when she goes to war. Bret Harte has an admirable story "The Outcasts of Poker Flat in which the "bad man," the crooked gambler, gives his life for the safety of the rest of his party, and winds up all with the remark: "Life isn't in having the luck of the cards, but in playing a poor hand well."
Yes, I daresay, all very fine; but what you wanted to know was about the propriety of taking risks in Magick.
So off we go.
Risks, we have agreed, are always unavoidable; but we can calculate them. The best and wisest man I ever knew, the late Oscar Eckenstein, was once offered a job which gave him a fifty percent chance of survival. He calmly sat down, worked out his "expectation of life," his "expectation of income," and the Lord alone knows what other factors. It came out that the pay offered was a thousand pounds or so less than he might expect normally, so he turned down the offer. Not a trace of sentiment of any kind!
Now let us consider an "A.B. case." John Jeremiah Jenkins sees a short cut to his performance of the Great work. To seize this opportunity, he must give up a steady job with good prospects and as near safety as is possible in the nature of things, for a slim chance of a career in the most insecure of all the professions.
He can do it; that is at the mercy of his Will; but he risks something very close to the utter wreck and ruin of his future. Only a miracle can bring him through. Just so! But is he not neglecting one factor in his problem? Who put this romantically insane opportunity in his way? The Gods: it must be, since he is performing the Great Work. Very well then! It is up to Them to watch: "he shall give his angels charge over thee to keep thee in all thy ways: in their hands they shall bear thee up lest thou dash thy foot against a stone."
What's more, he must leave it at that; he must not insult Them by constantly looking out for extra safeguards, or "hedging." (You remember the Major in The Suicide Club when Prince Florizel was picking seconds for a duel? "In all my life I never so much as hedged a bet.") You must give Them plenty of opportunity to show Their approval by steering you miraculously through one crisis after another.
This course of conduct may seem to you a little like the "Act of Truth" but this is only superficially the case. The latter is usually an emergency measure, and either not particularly serious or as serious as anything can be. But what I have said above amounts really to a regular Rule of Life.
Need I add that the prime and essential requisite in all this Work is that you so devote yourself to, and identify yourself with, the Gods, that there is never any doubt in your mind as to what They intend you to do?
Love is the law, love under will.
1: Chapter 22 (KB), "The Despot." In the copy of MWT I was working from it was slightly misquoted; the quote is here conformed to the second edition of The Book of Lies – T.S.
2: Note that the three other "cardinal virtues" have traditionally been referred to Tarot Trumps: Justice, Fortitude (also known as Strength) and Temperence (though Waite, in a note to Levi's Dogme et Rituel, suggests the attribution of Prudence to Atu IX was an invention of Levi's to complete the scheme; an alternative but somewhat strained suggestion has Atu XX as 'prudential judgement'). It may or may not be significant that when reformulating the Tarot in The Book of Thoth Crowley changed the names of all three of these – T.S.