Crowley Had His Star: Now Go Get Yours.
Updated: Apr 18
An Invitation to The Path of Initiation with a word about received text.
“We should not be shocked to learn AC did what all neophytes are taught to do in setting intention for visions, nor should we be surprised that he used his ample creative prowess to present his works in the best light possible."
Forward: What follows is a response to a conversation about questions that arise with regard to the authenticity of holy books, specifically in light of apparent edits and redaction, etc. I want to express my appreciation for the well-formulated questions and thoughtful discourse that followed. I decided to organize my thoughts and ideas here.
1. For the initiate, Crowley stands as an example to follow in practice, not a messiah to fetishize. He recorded the gnosis he arrived at due to his visionary experiences, and yes, he edited the text of the record. Every aspirant should do likewise. Only by seeing for ourselves what the process of recording and presenting visionary work feels like can we understand the nature and process of obtaining gnosis through visionary experiences.
One can obsess over Crowley's particular Thelemic gnosis, or one can use his system to go out and get one's own gnosis through direct experience -that’s what initiation is all about. If you really believe that the system Crowley used and taught works (like it did for Crowley), then you may follow his lead and have your own similar visions and revelations -or you can argue ad nauseum over the orthodox interpretation, doctrines, and nature of Crowley's personal gnosis. The choice is yours: as you will. I find beauty in the diversity of interpretations and expressions of the Thelemic gnosis.
AC was himself fairly optimistic that even those “empty headed Athenians” who would make him into a messiah (and make an orthodoxy of his “mystical moonlit mass”) would eventually "all go free" like "birds [he'd] ensnared," -that is, they’d come to understand that Crowley's won life was a kind of performance art, and that he had clearly warned them not to take it too seriously -he admits that “a pinch of Bible and a gallon of gas” could lure in anyone looking to follow a guru, yogi, prophet or Christ. One of the ordeals or initiation is ceasing this external reliance on others and learning to only on yourself, and the teacher within, your HGA.
2. Do as Crowley did.
From early experiments in scrying in the spirit vision using tattwas, the TGD student is taught by steps that the initiate does not simply perform ceremonies, rituals, and invocations, but s/he also anticipates a result -a response, a vision, or a voice. This is what separates an aspirant to initiation from a mere exoteric religious type. The magician expects a result and has cultivated the tools (seership, divination, etc.) necessary to receive these revelations. Thus, the initiate obtains direct experience with the states of consciousness and visionary revelation Crowley and other adepts report on in their received texts. Much skepticism toward these revealed texts has arisen of late, and I don't find this to be substantiated. This skepticism often arises from a misunderstanding of the nature of visionary experience by students who haven't themselves encountered it. Gaining personal experience in receiving such information shows that it is neither simply contrived, nor altered in essence or significance by editing for understanding.
I’m tempted to share a record of one of my very first scrying experiments using tattwa vision. That would make apparent what I am talking about. The original record would probably by illegible to others due to my own shorthand. Yet even if I were to render it in complete sentences, add stylistic elements to make it decent reading, and leave out parts that are purely personal and inapplicable to others, it will still be a faithful record of the vision containing qabalistically verifiable universal symbols with discernible meanings. It is neither an intentional deception or a contrived coded message, nor is its meaning lost though it be crowned with editorial touches.
If we take seriously the claim that there is no god but man, the visions that the aspirant encounters along the way are explorations of consciousness -in one sense they are of the aspirant's own consciousness, but the emerald tablet of Hermes informs us that those things below are like those that are above. Thus, as we dive into our own unconscious mind, we unlock images of universal symbolic value. The universal tree of life is mirrored in the individual -in fact, we are told that even this division is illusory: 0=2, I am divided for love’s sake, etc.
3. Discover for yourself the nature of visions and received texts before you debate the nature of such texts.
We come therefore to the question of the nature of these visions and voices. From the earliest experiments, we see these experiences are the result of workings with a set intention, and likely spring forth from the unconscious mind (or at least are filtered by it), though they can often be shared- that Is, sometimes the personal gnosis of one seer will resonate so strongly with others that they will adopt some of that gnosis as their own truth. This is what happens when someone accepts the Law of Thelema and says they are a Thelemite: they have decided to adopt (at least temporarily) Crowley's personal gnosis, making it a shared gnosis. All religions, widely accepted revelations, and shared gnosis begin as the personal gnosis of some particular aspirant.
Far better (in my opinion) be it if we would develop our scrying skills and obtain our own visions and gnosis, but to each their own will.
From this perspective, it is no real problem if a magician (think Crowley or you) receives a new law, a new word, or even if one suddenly and arbitrarily decides the Enochian ethyrs are somehow steps to crossing the abyss (seemingly made up by AC ad hoc). It is all just the expression of one’s own internal process of self exploration. If one truly pursues the work, one will eventually have journals upon journals full of the kind of writing found in Liber AL and The Vision and the Voice, and so on. All prophets are true save they know but a little. If our practice doesn't eventually produce texts similar to Liber Al, then we aren't really doing the work. Or, do we doubt the system actually works? Or, do we make the mistake of the Xtians, and believe that only some particular messiah is so chosen?
4. Setting intent and expecting real revelation is a basic tool of the magickian.
Enochian and grimioric magic (both emphasized by the HOGD), for example, already included idea that one could scry and expect a response to a invocation/evocation/operation/ritual etc. -That’s just Magic 101.
It is also quite well known (and was long before AC) that these visions are enhanced in clarity, detail, and symbolic value if they are augmented byself-hypnosis, trance induction, “strange drugs” and other means of altering consciousness.
5. Edits do not necessarily change the essence of a text; they can render it both more comprehensible and more aesthetically attractive without changing the core meaning. Edits are not necessarily foul play.
It is quite normal for final drafts of the records of received personal gnosis to be refined, revised, and edited prior to and even after being shared publicly. Or do we suppose that the gospels, the Vedas, the Upanishads, the Tao Te Ching etc. all emerged in their current form? The record shows otherwise. We must be serious -they are the products of a combination of gnosis and a conscious creative effort- that is in fact what makes them great. We should not be shocked to learn AC did what all neophytes are taught to do in setting intention for visions, nor should we be surprised that he used his ample creative prowess and poetic skill to present his works in the best light possible. This in no way detracts from their truth or worth.
6. Experience for yourself before you criticize Crowley or another initiate.
To my thinking, one needs to silence the speculative chatter and get down to the work for oneself and get to the point where one is receiving this sort of revelatory vision for oneself. Only then does the aspirant have the perspective from which to begin to understand the true nature of such received texts -since one has had the experience of receiving them oneself- and then, and only then, make statements about the nature of received texts, or another’s approach. Apart from this, it’s like a tent builder critiquing the architects of King Solomon’s temple for not using tent pegs -s/he simply doesn’t have any frame of reference for hir analysis. S/he should learn architecture and build a few temples first, then come back and talk.
7. Crowley's gnosis is: that only your own gnosis matters: Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law.
One way to look at it is to recall how the word of the Grandmaster was lost, and the Master Mason is given a temporary replacement word for the time being. Thelema was Crowley’s word, but its very meaning (will) points the aspirant toward the idea that we should all seek to obtain an understanding of our own word/logos/will and not simply be satisfied with Crowley's word, Thelema -which explicitly suggests that we seek knowledge of our own will/logos.
We are assured that there is indeed "marrow in the bone", that is: that there is no god but man, that Hadit is at the core of every WoMan, and that every man and every woman is a star. This invites us to use the interim word of the master (Thelema) for now, but use it as a means to attain gnosis and utter our own logos/word -the real lost word of the grand master -the master within! The Holy Guardian Angel!
So we get to work, build skill in vision and scrying, obtain Knowledge and Conversation, Cross the Abyss, and Utter our own Word -and stop worrying about Crowley's gnosis, or my gnosis, or that of any other -go get your own. Received texts are given to you as an example of what you too can experience, not as a fetish for you to place on a pedestal and order your life by. Order your life by your own gnosis, following Crowley's example. That is the road of initiation.
Make not the mistake of the followers of Christ, who deemed him a singular advent instead of an example of what they too could experience, pedestalizing him -instead of listening when he declared: ye are gods. They made of his gnosis the dead shell of an exoteric religion: codified, canonized, with doctrines and inquisitions, and ignored the sanctuary of living gnosis he pointed to.