MAGICK WITHOUT TEARS
Chapter XVI: On Concentration
Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
You wisely ask me for a special letter on Concentration; you point out that I have implied it constantly, but never given plain instruction.
It hope I have not been so vague as to allow you to suppose that Concentration Camps are evidence that benevolent and enlightened governments are at last seriously concerned to educate the world to Yoga; but I do agree that it cannot do great harm if I take a dose of my own medicine, and gather into one golden sheaf all the ripe corn of my wisdom on this subject.
For concentration does indeed unlock all doors; it lies at the heart of every practice as it is of the essence of all theory; and almost all the various rules and regulations are aimed at securing adeptship in this matter. All the subsidiary work—awareness, one-pointedness, mind- fullness and the rest—is intended to train you to this.
All the greetings, salutations, "Saying Will," periodical adorations, even saying "apo pantos kakodaimonos" with a downward and outward sweep of the arm, the eyes averted, when one sees a person dressed in a religious (Christian) uniform: all these come under "Don't stroke the cat the wrong way!" or, in the modern pseudo-scientific journalese jargon "streamlining life."
Let us see if Frater Perdurabo has anything to the point! Of course, Part I of Book 4 is devoted to it; but there is too much, and not enough, to be useful to us just now.
What your really need is the official Instruction in The Equinox, and the very fullest and deepest understanding of Eight Lectures on Yoga; but these lectures are so infernally interesting that when I look into the book for something to quote, it carries me away with it. I can't put it down, I forget all about this letter. Rather a back-handed advertisement for Concentration!
The best way is the hardest; to forget all this and start from the beginning as if there had never been anything on the subject written before.
I must keep always in mind that you are assumed to know nothing whatever about Yoga and Magick, or anything else beyond what the average educated person may be assumed to have been taught.
What is the problem? There are two.
The rules, strangely enough, are identical in both cases; at least, until your "Magick" is perfect; Yoga merely goes on a step further. In Beta you have reduced all movements from many to One; in Alpha you reduce that One to Zero.
Now then, with a sigh of relief, know you this: that every possible incident in the Beta training is mutatis mutandis, perfectly familiar to the engineer.
The material must be chosen and prepared in the kind and in the manner, best suited to the design of the intended machine; the various parts must be put together with the utmost precision; every obstacle to the function must be removed, and every source of error eliminated. Now cheer up, child! In the case of a machine that he has devised and constructed himself with every condition in his favour, he thinks he is doing not too badly if he gets some fifteen or twenty per cent of the calculated efficiency out of the instrument; and even Nature, with millions of years to adjust and improve, very often cannot boast of having done much better. So you have no reason to be discouraged if success does not smile upon you in the first week or so of your Work, starting as you do with material of whose properties you are miserably ignorant, with means pitifully limited, with Laws of Nature which you do not understand; in fact, with almost everything against you but indomitable Will and unconquerable courage.
(I know I'm a poor contemptible Lowbrow; but I refuse to be ashamed for finding Kipling's If and Henley's Don't remember-the title; they may not be poetry—but they are honest food and damned good beer for the plebeian wayfarer. It was such manhood, not the left-wing high-brow Bloomsbury sissies, that kept London through the blitz. Pray forgive the digression!)
There is only one method to adopt in such circumstances as those of the Aspirant to Magick and Yoga: the method of Science. Trial and error. You must observe. That implies, first of all, that you must learn to observe. And you must record your observations. No circumstance of life is, or can be irrelevant. "He that is not with me is against me." In all these letters you will find only two things: either I tell you what is bad for you, or what is good for you. But I am not you; I don't know every detail of your life, every trick of your thought. You must do ninety percent of the work for yourself. Whether it is love, or your daily avocation, or diet, or friends, or amusement, or anything else, you must find out what helps you to your True Will and what hinders; cherish the one and eschew the other.
I want to insist most earnestly that concentration is not, as we nearly all of us think, a matter of getting things right in the practices; you must make every breath you draw subservient to the True Will, to fertilize the soil for the practices. When you sit down in your Asana to quiet your mind, it is much easier for you if your whole life has tended to relative quietude; when you knock with your Wand to announce the opening of an Invocation, it is better if the purpose of that ceremony has been simmering in the background of your thought since childhood!
Yes indeed: background!
Deep down, on the very brink of the subconscious, are all those facts which have determined you to choose this your Great Work.
Then, the ambition, conscious, which arranges the general order and disposition of your life.
Lastly, the practices themselves. And my belief is that the immense majority of failures have their neglect to brush up their drill to thank for it.
For technical advice on all these subjects, I shall refer you to those official works mentioned in the early part of this letter; I shall be happy if you will take to heart what I am now so violently thrusting at you, this Middle Work of Concentration.
Love is the law, love under will.
Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
There is no better way of training the memory than the practice of the Holy Qabalah.
The whole mechanism of memory depends on joining up independent data. You must go on adding a little to little, always joining the simple impressions by referring them to others which are more general; and so on until the whole of your universe is arranged like the brain and the nervous system. This system in fact, becomes the Universe. When you have got everything properly correlated, your central consciousness understands and controls every tiniest detail. But you must begin at the beginning—you go out for a walk, and the first thing you see is a car; that represents the Atu VII, the Chariot, referred to Cancer.
Then you come to a fishmonger, and notice certain crustacea, very mala chostomous. This comes under the same sign of Cancer. The next thing you notice is an amber-coloured dress in Swan and Edgar's; amber also is the colour of Cancer in the King's Scale. Now then you have a set of three impressions which is joined together by the fact that they all belong to the Cancer class; experience will soon teach that you can remember all three very much more clearly and accurately than you could any one of the three singly.
You have not increased the burden on your memory, but diminished it.
What you say about tension and eagerness and haste is very true. See The Book of the Law, Chapter I, 44.
"For pure will, unassuaged of purpose, delivered from the lust of result, is every way perfect."
This, from a practical point of view, is one of the most important verses in the book.
The unusual word "unassuaged" is very interesting. People generally suppose that "will" is the slave of purpose, that you cannot will a thing properly unless you are aiming at a definite goal. But this is not the case. Thinking of the goal actually serves to distract the mind. In these few words is included the whole method without all the bombastic piety of the servile doctrine of mysticism about the surrender of the Will. Nor is this idea of surrender actually correct; the will must be identified with the Divine Will, so-called. One wants to become like a mighty flowing river, which is not consciously aiming at the sea, and is certainly not yielding to any external influence. It is acting in conformity with the law of its own nature, with the Tao. One can describe it, if necessary, as "passive love"; but it is love (in effect) raised to its highest potential. We come back to the same thing: when passion is purged of any "lust of result" it is irresistible; it has become "Law." I can never understand why it is that mystics fail to see that their smarmy doctrine of surrender actually insists upon the duality which they have set out to abolish!
I certainly have no intention of "holding you down" to "a narrow path of work" or any path. All I can do is to help you to understand clearly the laws of your own nature, so that you may go ahead without extraneous influence. It does not follow that a plan that I have found successful in my own case will be any use to you. That is another cardinal mistake of most teachers. One must have become a Master of the Temple to annihilate one's ego. Most teachers, consciously or unconsciously, try to get others to follow in their steps. I might as well dress you up in my castoff clothing! (In the steps of the Master. At the feet of the Master. Steward!)
Please observe that the further you get on, the higher your potential, the greater is the tendency to leak, or even to break the containing vessel. I can help you by warning you against setting up obstacles, real or imaginary, in your own path; which is what most people do. It is almost laughable to think that the Great Work consists merely in "letting her rip;" but Karma bumps you from one side of the toboggan slide to the other, until you vcome into the straight." (There's a chapter or two in the Book of Lies about this, but I haven't got a copy. I must find one, and put them in here. Yes: p. 22)1
As in the Yi King, the 3rd hexagram has departed from the original perfection, and it takes all the rest of the hexagrams to put things right again.
The result, it is true, is superior; the perfection of the original has been enhanced and enriched by its experience.
There is another way of defining the Great Work. That explains to us the whole object of manifestation, of departing from the perfection of "Nothing" towards the perfection of "everything", and one may consider this advantage, that it is quite impossible to go wrong. Every experience, whatever may be its nature, is just another necessary bump.
Naturally one cannot realize this until one becomes a Master of the Temple; consequently one is perpetually plunged in sorrow and despair. There is, you see, a good deal more to it than merely learning one's mistakes. One can never be sure what is right and what is wrong, until one appreciates that "wrong" is equally "right." Now then one gets rid of the idea of "effort" which is associated with "lust of result." All that one does is to exercise pleasantly and healthfully one's energies.
It will not do to regard "man" as the "final cause" of manifestation. Please do not quote myself against me.
"Man is so infinitely small,
The human apparatus is the best instrument of which we are, at present, aware in our normal consciousness; but when you come to experience the Conversation of the higher intelligences, you will understand how imperfect are your faculties. It is true that you can project these intelligences as parts of yourself, or you can suppose that certain human vehicles may be temporally employed by them for various purposes; but these speculations tend to be idle. The important thing is to make contact with beings, whatever their nature, who are superior to yourself, not merely in degree but it kind. That is to say, not merely different as a Great Dane differs from a Chihuahua, but as a buffalo differs from either.
Of course you are perfectly right about the senses, though I would not agree to confine the meaning to the five which are common to most people. There must, one might suspect, be ways of apprehending directly such phenomena as magnetism, electrical resistance, chemical affinity and the like. Let me direct you once more to The Book of the Law, Chapter II, vs. 70 - 72.
The mystic's idea of deliberately stupefying and stultifying himself is an "abomination unto the Lord." This, by the way, does not conflict with the rules of Yoga. That kind of suppression is comparable to the restrictions in athletic training, or diet in sickness.
Now we get back to the Qabalah—how to make use of it.
Let us suppose that you have been making an invocation, or shall we call it an investigation, and suppose you want to interpret a passage of Bach. To play this is the principal weapon of your ceremony. In the course of your operation, you assume your astral body and rise far above the terrestrial atmosphere, while the music continues softly in the background. You open your eyes, and find that it is night. Dark clouds are on the horizon; but in the zenith is a crown of constellations. This light helps you, especially as your eyes become accustomed to the gloom, to take in your surroundings. It is a bleak and barren landscape. Terrific mountains rim the world. In the midst looms a cluster of blue-black crags. Now there appears from their recesses a gigantic being. His strength, especially in his hands and in his loins, it terrifying. He suggests a combination of lion, mountain goat and serpent; and you instantly jump to the idea that this is one of the rare beings which the Greeks called Chimaera. So formidable is his appearance that you consider it prudent to assume an appropriate god-form. But who is the appropriate god? You may perhaps consider it best, in view of your complete ignorance as to who he is and where you are, to assume the god-form of Harpocrates, as being good defence in any case; but of course this will not take you very far. If you are sufficiently curious and bold, you will make up your mind rapidly on this point. This is where your daily practice of the Qabalah will come in useful. You run through in your mind the seven sacred planets. The very first of them seems quite consonant with what you have so far seen. Everything suits Saturn well enough. To be on the safe side, you go through the others; but this is a very obvious case—Saturn is the only planet that agrees with everything. The only other possibility will be the Moon; but there is no trace noticeable of any of her more amiable characteristics. You will therefore make up your mind that it is a Saturnian god-form that you need. Fortunate indeed for you that you have practiced daily the assumption of such forms! Very firmly, very steadily, very slowly, very quietly, you transform your normal astral appearance into that of Sebek. The Chimaera, recognizing your divine authority, becomes less formidable and menacing in appearance. He may, in some way, indicate his willingness to serve you. Very good, so far; but it is of course the first essential to make sure of his integrity. Accordingly you begin by asking his name. This is vital; because if he tells you the truth, it gives you power over him. But if, on the other hand, he tells you a lie, he abandons for good and all his fortress. He becomes rather like a submarine whose base has been destroyed. He may do you a lot of mischief in the meantime, of course, so look out!
Well then, he tells you that his name is Ottillia. Shall we try to spell it in Greek or in Hebrew. By the sound of the name and perhaps to some extent by his appearance one might plump for the former; but after all the Greek Qabalah is so unsatisfactory. We give Hebrew the first chance—we start with Ayin Teth Yod Lamed Yod Aleph Hé. Let us try this lettering for a start. It adds up to 135. I daresay that you don't remember what the Sepher Sephiroth tells you about the number; but as luck will have it, there is no need to inquire; for 135 = 3 x 45. Three is the number, is the first number of Saturn, and 45 the last. (The sum of the numbers in the magic square of Saturn is 45.) That corresponds beautifully with everything you have got so far; but then of course you must know if he is "one of the beliving Jinn." Briefly, is he a friend or an enemy? You accordingly say to him "The word of the Law is Θελημα" It turns out that he doesn't understand Greek at all, so you were certainly right in choosing Hebrew. You put it to him, "What is the word of the Law?" and he replies darkly. "The word of the Law is Thora." That means nothing to you; any one might know as much as that, Thora being the ordinary word for the Sacred Law of Israel, and you accordingly ask him to spell it to make sure you have heard aright; and he gives you the letters, perhaps by speaking them, perhaps by showing them: Teth, Resh, Ayin. You add these up and get 279. This again is divisible by the Saturnian 3, and the result is 93; in other words, he has been precisely right. On the plane of Saturn one may multiply by three and therefore he has given you the correct word "Thelema" in a form unfamiliar to you. You man now consider yourself satisfied of his good faith, and may proceed to inspect him more closely. The stars above his head suggest the influence of Binah, whose number also is three, while the most striking thing about him is the core of his being: the letter Yod. (One does not count the termination "AH": being a divine suffix it represents the inmost light and the outermost light.) This Yod, this spark of intense brilliance, is of the pale greenish gold which one sees (in this world) in the fine gold leaf of Tibet. It glows with ever greater intensity as you concentrate upon observing him, which you could not do while you were preoccupied with investigating his credentials.
Confidence being thus established, you inquire why he as appeared to you at this time and at this place; and the answer to this question is of course your original idea, that is to say, he is presenting to you in other terms that "mountainous Fugue" which invoked him. You listen to him with attention, make such enquiries as seem good to you, and record the proceedings.
The above example is, of course, pure imagination, and represents a very favourable case. You are only too likely, and that not only at the beginning, to meet all sorts of difficulties and dangers.
Love is the law, love under will.
1: The passage quoted is from chapter 13 (ΙΓ), "Pilgrim-Talk" p. 36 of the second edition – T.S.
2: The last stanza of Crowley's poem "At Sea," published in Equinox I (9). The Equinox publication had "Maker and moulder of them all," as the third line – T.S.
Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
From time to time I have exhorted you with mine accustomed matchless eloquence never to neglect the prescribed Greetings: but I think it just as well to collect the various considerations connected with their use—and in "Greetings" I include "saying Will" before set meals, the four daily adorations of the Sun (Liber CC, vel Resh) and the salutation of Our Lady the Moon.1 I propose to deal with the general object of the combined rituals, not with the special virtues of each separately.
The practice of Liber III vel Jugorum* is the complement of these grouped customs. By sharp physical self-chastisement when you think, say, or do whatever it is that you have set yourself to avoid doing, you set a sentry at the gate of your mind ready to challenge all comers, and so you acquire the habit of being on the alert. Keep this in mind, and you will have no difficulty in following the argument of this letter.
When you are practicing Dharana† concentration, you allow yourself so many minutes. It is a steady, sustained effort. The mind constantly struggles to escape control. (I hope you remember the sequence of "breaks." In case you don't, I summarize them.
Need I remind you how urgent the wish to escape will assuredly become, how fantastic are the mind's devices and excuses, amounting often to deliberate revolt? In Kandy I broke away in a fury, and dashed down to Colombo with the intention of painting the very air as red as the betel- spittle on the pavements! But after three days of futile search for satisfying debauchery I came back to my horses, and, sure enough, it was merely that I had gone stale; the relaxation soothed and steadied me; I resumed the discipline with redoubled energy, and Dhyana dawned before a week had elapsed.
I mention this because it is the normal habit of the mind to organize these counter-attacks that makes their task so easy. What you need is a mind that will help rather than hinder your Work by its normal function.
This is where these Greetings, and Will-sayings, and Adorations come in.
It is not a concentration-practice proper; I haven't a good word for it. "Background-concentration" or "long-distance-concentration" are clumsy, and not too accurate. It is really rather like a public school education. One is not constantly "doing a better thing that one has ever done;" one is not dropping one's eye-glass every two minutes, or being a little gentleman in the act of brushing one's hair. The point is that one trains oneself to react properly at any moment of surprise. It must become "second nature" for "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law." to spring to the forefront of the mind when one is introduced to a stranger, or comes down to breakfast, or hears the telephone bell, or observes the hour of the adoration, (these are to be the superficial reactions, like instinctively rising when a lady enters the room), or, at the other end, in moments of immediate peril, or of sudden apprehension, or when in one's meditation, one approaches the deepest strata.
One need not be dogmatic about the use of these special words. One might choose a formula to represent one's own particular True Will. It is a little like Cato, (or Scipio, was it?) who concluded every speech, whether about the Regulations of the Roman Bath or the proposal to reclaim a marsh of the Maremma, with the words: "And moreover, in my opinion, Carthage ought to be destroyed."
You teach the mind to push your thought automatically to the very thing from which it was trying to wander. "Yes, I get you Stephen! . . . But, Uncle Dudley, come clean, do you always do all this yourself? Don't you sometimes feel embarrassed, or fear that you may destroy the effect of your letter, or "create a scene" in the public street when you suddenly stop and perform these incomprehensible antics, or simply forget about the whole thing?"
Yes, I do.
Mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.
I am not your old and valued friend, Adam Qadmon, the Perfect Man.
I am a pretty poor specimen.
I am nothing to cable about to Lung Peng Choung, or Himi, or Monsalvat.
I do forget now and again; though, I am glad to say, not nearly as often as I used to do. (As the habit is acquired, it tends to strengthen itself). But often I deliberately omit to do my duty. I do funk it. I do resent it. I do feel that it's too much bother.
As I said above, Adam Qadman is not my middle name.
Well now, have I any shadow of an excuse? Yes, I have, after a fashion; I don't think it good manners to force my idiosyncrasies down people's throats, and I don't want to appear more of an eccentric than I need. It might detract from my personal influence, and so actually harm the Work that I am trying to perform. . .
"Yes, that's all very well, Alibi Ike; you are exceedingly well know as a Scripture-quoting Satan, as a Past-Master in self-justification. Trained from infancy by the Plymouth Brethern, who for casuistry leave the Jesuits at the post!" "Yes, yes, but — — —."
"You needn't but me no buts, you old he-goat! Wasn't there once a Jonas Hanway, the first man to sport an umbrella? Wouldn't your practice be natural, and right, and the cream of the cream of good manners as soon as a few hundred people of position took to doing it? And wouldn't Thomas, Richard, and Henry, three months later, make a point of doing the same as their betters?" (That was Conscience speaking.)
All right, you win.
Love is the law, love under will.
* See Magick in Theory and Practice, pp. 427 - 429.
† Book 4, Part I.
1: The whole matter of lunar salutations is covered in an appendix to the copy of Liber Resh on this site.
Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
It seems that last Wednesday I so far forgot myself as to refer to the "Act of Truth" in conversation, and never mentioned what it is when it's at home, or why anyone should perform it, or what happens when one does perform it!
All right, I will remedy that; luckily, it is a very simple matter; very important, perfectly paradoxical and devastatingly effective.
Analysed, it is to make the assumption that something which seems very wrong is actually all right, that an eager wish is an accomplished fact. a reasonable anxiety, entirely unfounded—and to act accordingly.
For instance, I'm in some desolate place, dependent for my food supply on a weekly messenger. If he is a day late, it is awkward; if two, it means hardship; if three, serious risk. One is naturally anxious as the day approaches; perhaps the weather, or some similar snag, makes it likely that he will be late. From one cause or another, I have rather exceeded my ration. There is nothing I can do about it, materially.
The sensible course of action is to draw in my horns, live on the minimum, necessary to life, which involves cutting the day's work down to almost nothing, and hope for the best, expecting the worst.
But there is a Magical mode of procedure. You say to yourself: I am here to do this Work in accordance with my true Will. The Gods have got to see to it that I'm not baulked by any blinking messenger. (But take care They don't overhear you; They might mistake it for Hybris, or presumption. Do it all in the Sign of Silence, under the aegis of Harpocrates, the "Lord of Defence and Protection"; be careful to assume his God-form, as standing on two crocodiles. Then you increase your consumption, and at the same time put in a whole lot of extra Work. If you perform this "Act of Truth" properly, with genuine conviction that nothing can go wrong, your messenger will arrive a day early, and bring an extra large supply.
This, let me say at once, is very difficult, especially at first, until one has gained confidence in the efficacy of the Formula; and it is very nastily easy to "fake." Going through the motions (as they say) is more futile here than in most cases, and the results of messing it up are commonly disastrous.*
* Do not be misled by any apparent superficial resemblance to "Christian Science" and "Coueism" and their cackling kin. They miss every essential feature of the formula.
You must invent your act to suit your case, every time; suppose you expect a cable next Friday week, transferring cash to your account. You need $500 to make up an important payment, and you don't know whether they will send even $200. What are you going to do about it? Skimp, and save your expenses, and make yourself miserable and incapable of vigorous thought or action? You may succeed in saving enough to swing the deal; but you won't get a penny beyond the amount actually needed—and look at the cost in moral grandeur!
No, go and stand yourself a champagne luncheon, and stroll up Bond Street with an 8 1/2 "Hoyo de Monterey," and squander $30 on some utterly useless bauble. Then the $500 will swell to $1000, and arrive two days early at that!
There are one or two points to consider very carefully indeed before you start:—
It seems to me that the above brief sketch should suffice an intelligent and imaginative student like yourself; but if any point remains darkling, let me know, and I will follow up with a postscript.
Love is the law, love under will.
P.S.—I thought it might help you if I were to make a few experiments. I have done so. Result: this is much more difficult and delicate an affair than I had thought when I wrote this letter. For instance, one single thought of a "second string"—e.g. "if it fails, I had better do so and so"—is enough to kill the while operation stone dead. Of course, I am totally out of practice; but, even so . . . . . .
Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
Really you comfort me when you turn from those abstruse and exalted themes with which you have belaboured me so often of late to dear cuddlesome little questions like this in our letter received this morning: "Do please, dear Master, give me some hints about how to make Talismans (that's the same as Telesmata, isn't it? Yes, 666) and the Pantacle. The official instructions are quite clear, of course;1 but somehow I find them just a little frightening."
Well, I think I know pretty well what you mean; so I will try to imitate the style of Aunt Tabitha in "The Flapper's Fireside."
For one thing, you forgot to mention the Lamen. Now what are these things when they are at home? That's easy enough.
The Lamen is a sort of Coat of Arms. It expresses the character and powers of the wearer.
A talisman is a storehouse of some particular kind of energy, the kind that is needed to accomplish the task for which you have constructed it.
The Pantacle is often confused with both the others; accurately, it is a "Minutum Mundum", "the Universe in Little"; it is a map of all that exists, arranged in the Order of Nature. There is a chapter in Book 4, Part II, devoted to it (pp. 117 - 129); I cannot make up my mind whether I like it. At the best it is very far from being practical instruction. (The chapter on the Lamen, pp. 159 - 161, is even worse.)
An analogy, not too silly, for these three; the Chess-player, the Openings, and the Game itself.
But—you will object—why be silly at all? Why not say simply that the Lamen, stating as it does the Character and Powers of he wearer, is a dynamic portrait of the individual, while the Pantacle, his Universe, is a static portrait of him? And that, you pursue flattering, is why you preferred to call the Weapon of Earth (in the Tarot) the Disk, emphasizing its continual whirling movement rather than the Pantacle of Coin, as is more usual. Once again, exquisite child of our Father the Archer of Light and of seaborn Aphrodite, your well-known acumen has "nicked the ninety and nine and one over" as Browning says when he (he too!) alludes to the Tarot.
As you will have gathered from the above, a Talisman is a much more restricted idea; it is no more than one of the objects in his Pantacle, one of the arrows in the quiver of his Lamen. As, then, you would expect, it is very little trouble to design. All that you need is to "make considerations" about your proposed operation, decide which planet, sign, element or sub-element or what not you need to accomplish your miracle.
As you know, a very great many desirable objects can be attained by the use of the talismans in the Greater and Lesser Keys of Solomon the King; also in Pietro di Abano2 and the dubious Fourth Book of Cornelius Agrippa.3
You must on no account attempt to use the squares given in the Book of the Sacred Magic of Abramelin the Mage until you have succeeded in the Operation. More, unless you mean to perform it, and are prepared to go to any length to do so, you are a fool to have the book in your possession at all. Those squares are liable to get loose and do things on their own initiative; and you won't like it.
The late Philip Haseltine, a young composer of genius, used one of these squares to get his wife to return to him. He engraved it neatly on his arm. I don't know how he proceeded to set to work; but his wife came back all right, and a very short time afterwards he killed himself.
Then there are the Elemental Tablets of Sir Edward Kelly and Dr. John Dee. From these you can extract a square to perform almost any conceivable operation, if you understand the virtue of the various symbols which they manifest. They are actually an expansion of the Tarot. (Obviously, the Tarot itself as a whole is a universal Pantacle—forgive the pleonasm! Each card, especially is this true of the Trumps, is a talisman; and the whole may also be considered as the Lamen of Mercury. It is evidently an Idea far too vast for any human mind to comprehend in its entirety. For it is "the Wisdom whereby He created the worlds.")
The decisive advantage of this system is not that its variety makes it so adaptable to our needs, but that we already posses the Invocations necessary to call forth the Energies required. What is perhaps still more to the point, they work without putting the Magician to such severe toil and exertion as is needed when he has to write them out from his own ingenium. Yes! This is weakness on my part, and I am very naughty to encourage you to shirk the hardest path.
I used often to make the background of my Talismans of four concentric circles, painting then, the first (inmost) in the King (or Knight) scale, the second in the Queen, the third in the Prince, and the outermost in the Princess scale, of the Sign, Planet, or Element to which I was devoting it. On this, preferably in the "flashing" colours, I would paint the appropriate Names and Figures.
Lastly, the Talisman may be surrounded with a band inscribed with a suit- able "versicle" chosen from some Holy book, or devised by the Magician to suit the case.
In the British Museum (and I suppose elsewhere) you may see the medal struck to commemorate the victory over the Armada. This is a reproduction, perhaps modified, of the Talisman used by Dee to raise the storm which scattered the enemy fleet.
You must lay most closely to your heart the theory of the Magical Link (see Magick pp. 107 - 122) and see well to it that it rings true; for without this your talisman is worse than useless. It is dangerous; for all that Energy is bound to expend itself somehow; it will make its own links with anything handy that takes its fancy; and you can get into any sort of the most serious kind of trouble.
There is a great deal of useful stuff in Magick; pp. 92 - 100, and pp. 179 - 189. I could go on all night doing nothing but indicating sources of information.
Then comes the question of how to "charge" the Talisman, of how to evoke or to invoke the Beings concerned, and of—oh! of so much that you need a lifetime merely to master the theory.
Remember, too, please, what I have pointed out elsewhere, that the greatest Masters have quite often not been Magicians at all, technically; they have used such devices as Secret Societies, Slogans and Books. If you are so frivolous as to try to exclude these from our discourse, it is merely evidence that you have not understood a single word of what I have been trying to tell you these last few hundred years!
May I close with a stray example or so? Equinox III, 1, has the Neophyte's Pantacle of Frater O.I.V.V.I.O.4 The Fontispiece of the original (4 volume) edition of Magick, the colors vilely reproduced, is a Lamen of my own Magick, or a Pantacle of the Science, I'm sure I'm not sure which!5
Most of my Talismans, like my Invocations, have been poems.6 This letter must be like the Iliad in at least one respect: it does not end; it stops.
Love is the law, love under will.
1: The official instruction on the Pantacle (in Liber A vel Armorum) states, inter alia, that it should bear "a symbol to represent the Universe." The Pantacle and Lamen are both, as Crowley notes, discussed in Book 4 part II. I am not aware of any official A.'.A.'. instruction dealing directly with Talismans – T.S.
2: The reference is unlikely to be to the Heptameron, a 16th century Grimoire spuriously attributed to Abano, as this does not deal with talismans at all, rather it is a ritual for the evocation of planetary spirits. According to writers such as Frances Yates and D.P. Walker, some of the undisputed works of Pietro d'Abano deal with astrological images and the talismanic use of the same, although I have been unable to consult these directly – T.S.
3: "The Fourth Book of Occult Philosophy, or of Magical Ceremonies" was a short work on magical practice which first came to public attention in the 1550s, some twenty years after the death of its alleged author. It purports to be a "complement and key" to Agrippa's De Occulta Philosophia libri tres. The author credit is generally regarded as spurious. It does however treat at length of the composition of "pentacles" (pentacula; as described by pseudo-Agrippa they belong more under the head of "talismans" in Crowley's classification), giving a few examples – T.S.
4: C.S. Jones (Frater Achad). Achad's Lamen design also appeared in that issue – T.S.
5: The design was reproduced as a colour painting by Steffi Grant in her essay on Crowley published as Carfax Monograph #3 (reprinted in Hidden Lore by Kenneth and Steffi Grant, London: Skoob, 1989), as a black and white line drawing by the same artist in the 1973 RKP edition of Crowley's Magick, and as a colour graphic redrawn by an unidentified illustrator on the dust-jacket of the 1994 "Blue Brick" Weiser edition of Magick – T.S.
6: See also The Books of the Beast by Timothy d'Arche Smith for Crowley's use of "talismanic" principles in book design – T.S.