ALEISTER CROWLEY - Ch I - Liber AL vel Legis - Verse Commentary

(sub figura CCXX as delivered by XCIII = 418 to DCLXVI)


Liber Legis is ‘Book of the Law’, and the AL was added some years later; CCXX is 220 in roman numerals, the count of verses in the transmission; and XCIII is 93, the key qabalistic number of the work along with 8, 11, 31, 56, 61, 80, 89, 111, 156, 418, 666, 718, ‘Pi’ and others; while DCLXVI is 666 (and all roman numerals under 1,000), the fabled Number of the Beast with which Crowley cheerfully self-identified, to the pants-wetting terror of all pseudo-Christian fundamentalists.
NU=56 and HaD=9, making 65 the number of Adonai or the HGA; there are 65 pages in the original manuscript (taking HAD=10 makes 66, sum total of the numbers from 1 to 11, ‘a number of the Great Work’). The various encoded numerological formulas and ciphers are seen as evidence of praeterhuman origins… and it is well worth noting that the manuscript clearly does appear to have been written in haste!
The three chapters are a revelation of the nature of the new universe, - the methods of magical evolution for the individual, and a series of often dire prophesies about modern times.
They are spoken through the personas of Nuit, Hadit, and Ra-Hoor-Khuit via the voice of the entity Aiwass.
Throughout the Book one might consider all appearances of the words ‘not’ or ‘none’ or ‘no’ as clues to the nature of Nuit, and ‘I’ or ‘all’ (AL) to the essence of Hadit or Pan or Abraxas…

The First Chapter

1. Had! The manifestation of Nuit.

Had or Hadit is the seed of the Self, of the original and omnipresent consciousness, the secret star or individual point of view which is at the center of the circle; that circle or sphere is the external universe of space-time and matter, personified as the galactic goddess Nuit.
Had is the archetypical primal core of the internal and experiential cosmos, creatively manifesting love and will into the void of chaotic potential which veils ultimate existence and/or nonexistence.
As the unified focus of the infinite void and multiplicity of Nuit, he embodies and centers her being and is essentially her lover and child. Nuit is the macrocosm and Hadit the microcosm.
The Sun is also a Star.
Hadit might be the proton and Nuit the electron on the atomic level.
In terms of the Creation Myth of the Orphic Mysteries of Greece Nuit would be Nox (Night), Hadit is the primal genesis of Chaos, Heru-Ra-Ha is their firstborn Phanes (Light) or Eros (Love), and Maat is Gaia (the manifested World-Order).
Crowley states that Nuit is Matter, the Noun, Form, and the North, while Hadit is Motion, the Verb, Being, and the South; and that they may also be identified as Anu and Adad, a goddess and a god of the Sumerians.

2.  The unveiling of the company of heaven.

The company of heaven is every soul, every star, every god or beast or tree, every element or form of being and becoming which is life.
“Everything that lives is holy, life delights in life.”
‘Company’ is perhaps the primary reason for the universe to have evolved multiple forms of life.
The ‘unveiling’ or ‘revealing’ or ‘manifestation’ is the process of the expansion of consciousness and our unfolding innate divinity.
We might even recall Inanna’s Descent to the Underworld in Babylonian myth, when the goddess ventured down to the land of the dead to rescue her slain lover Tammuz and was forced to leave her seven articles of clothing and jewels at each of the seven gates, arriving naked to be slain and reborn herself. We are aethyrial spirits who materialize into physical incarnation.

3. Every man and every woman is a star.

Every man and every woman is unique, individual, perhaps ultimately equal in importance to every other, and expresses the art and essence of their life’s creation as a star radiates light.
The Sumerian hieroglyph of a Star indicates a ‘deity’.

4. Every number is infinite; there is no difference.

Much study of 'Liber AL vel Legis'  is based upon manipulation of the various formulas of numerology, while in physics it is mathematics that is generally seen as the underlying schema of the universe.
This phrase reminds us that much of this is still perfectly arbitrary, and that while every number possesses endless layers of validity and meaning, all may be ultimately meaningless outside the human context.
The core concept of ‘no difference‘ is introduced, reminding us that everything is both true and false, neither true nor false, both meaningful and meaningless, and neither meaningful nor meaningless. 

5. Help me, o warrior lord of Thebes, in my unveiling before the Children of men !

The ‘warrior lord’ could be the falcon-headed god of war and virility Montu, a patron deity whom the scribe Ankh-af-na-Khonsu served in life, or perhaps Amoun, who was the patron god of Thebes.
An alternate interpretation of this Warrior Lord is the scribe Crowley himself, who received this message and thus becomes the prophet of Horus, hawk-headed lord of the New Age.
Thousand-gated Thebes was a city of ancient Egypt, now called Luxor.
The repeated theme of unveiling pictures the universe as a dancer, removing the layered veils that hinder perception to reveal endless new beauties and insights.
The ‘children of men’ are all the generations and peoples of our earth.

6. Be thou Hadit, my secret centre, my heart & my tongue!

Hadit is the lover, complement, and core of the being of Nuit, through which she expresses her creation. Crowley identifies the secret centre as Life, the heart as Love, and the tongue as Language.
The formula of the Heart & Tongue derives from Egyptian ritual and myth, specifically when the name of the creator is Ptah: his heart was seen as the center of thought, truth, and perception, and linked to shining Ra; his tongue declared action brought into form, and was attributed to the magician-god Thoth, the Logos or Word.
The heart is love, and the tongue expresses the word of will.
Love & Will (Agape & Thelema, which in Greek qabala both total 93) are keys to the New Age.
The ‘secret centre’ may also be the mind or soul, or perhaps the sexual organs: Nuit as Kteis, Hadit as Phallus, the Cup and the Wand.
Another relevant triad of primal gods is that of Heka, the incarnation of Magick and Life itself, whose name implies the vivifying of forms or images, and who is one of several ‘first’ emanations of the Creator/Creation and the essential energizing power in all things.
He is often accompanied by the deities Sia (who personifies perception, insight and intelligence, which were regarded by the Egyptians as seated in the heart) and Hu (the principle of ‘authoritative utterance’, the power of the True Word uttered by the tongue).
The Word of Maat is IPSOS, ‘by that same mouth’.

7. Behold ! it is revealed by Aiwass the minister of Hoor-paar-kraat.

Aiwass is the entity that delivered this message to Crowley.
As the minister of Hoor-paar-kraat, he is the 'Voice of the Silence'.
The name is also spelled Aiwaz, possibly the Arabic word for ‘Voice’.
Hoor-paar-kraat is the ‘child in the lotus’ or in the ‘egg of blue’ (the womb of space), the younger form of Horus, the Child who is the avatar, ruler or expression of the oncoming age, and in some sense an androgyne uniting and transcending the previous stages of the Mother and the Father.
This ‘inner child’ is sometimes also identified with the individual’s True Will.
In Egyptian iconography child-gods are often depicted with a finger at their lips, which was later interpreted as a sign of silence.
In the Thelemic or Golden Dawn systems one may employ the Sign of the Enterer (lunging forward with right foot and both arms extended at eye level) to project a charge of energy outward; followed by the Sign of Silence (stepping back, feet together, left index finger to lips, eyes shut) to withdraw or absorb energy, to center oneself, to banish any unwanted influences, to become invisible, or to end a ritual (for which the Signs of Opening or Closing the Veil are also very useful, and their performance is self-explanatory).
These gestures of the Enterer or of Silence are means of assuming the aspect and powers of Horus or of Harpocrates (which are the greek forms of egyptian names).
This is Crowley’s own account of the experience of the transmission:
“I never looked round in the room at any time.
The Voice of Aiwass came apparently from over my left shoulder, from the furthest corner of the room. It seemed to echo itself in my physical heart in a very strange manner, hard to describe. I have noticed a similar phenomenon when I have been waiting for a message fraught with great hope or dread.
The voice was passionately poured, as if Aiwass were alert about the time-limit.
I wrote 65 pages of this present essay (at about my usual rate of composition) in about 10 1/2 hours as against the 3 hours of the 65 pages of the Book of the Law.
I was pushed hard to keep the pace; the MS. shows it clearly enough.
The voice was of deep timbre, musical and expressive, its tones solemn, voluptuous, tender, fierce or aught else as suited the moods of the message.
Not bass - perhaps a rich tenor or baritone.
The English was free of either native or foreign accent, perfectly pure of local or caste mannerisms, thus startling and even uncanny at first hearing.
I had a strong impression that the speaker was actually in the corner where he seemed to be, in a body of "fine matter," transparent as a veil of gauze, or a cloud of incense-smoke.
He seemed to be a tall, dark man in his thirties, well-knit, active and strong, with the face of a savage king, and eyes veiled lest their gaze should destroy what they saw.
I took little note of it, for to me at that time Aiwass and an "angel" such as I had often seen in visions, a being purely astral.
I now incline to believe that Aiwass is not only the God once held holy in Sumer, and my own True Will, but also a man as I am, insofar as He uses a human body to make His magical link with Mankind, whom He loves, and that He is thus an Ipsissimus.
-Aleister Crowley, The Equinox of the Gods

8.  The Khabs is in the Khu, not the Khu in the Khabs.
9.  Worship then the Khabs, and behold my light shed over you!

A powerful magical formula expressed in Egyptian terms. Crowley defines Khabs as the 'Light' or 'Star', and the Khu as ‘the magical entity of a man’ or ‘spirit’ or ‘Magical Image’.
The Khabs is the essential cosmic spark of Hadit, the True Will.
The Khu is all that which we formulate and recall and experience, our own body/mind/soul complex, the garment of personality and reality that we weave, our individual being and awareness.
It is also the entire external world that we define by our apparent ‘perceptions’ of an external ‘universe’. Khabs can be a hieroglyphic term for ‘stellar gods’ and Khu can also mean ‘fire or flame’, and thus explains this verse as “The stellar gods are within the flame; they do not create it.”
We are then primarily to worship this 'Light' within ourselves, rather than any of the archetypical images of hypothetical deities outside, which may well be illusory or empty or transparent, although also simultaneously sublimely inspirational.
By uniting ourselves with (and as) this inner 'Light of Hadit', we illuminate the outer Darkness that is the manifestation of Nuit.
Shining this central life-giving Light upon the seeds of potential in the Darkness is the act of creation, and we should identify with the Truth of ourselves rather than any perhaps illusory (due to our preconceptions or childhood social programming) perceptions of the nature of so-called ‘reality’.
Note that the Khabs is the 'House of Hadit', while the Khu is the 'House of Nuit': the center and the sphere. 
“We are not to regard ourselves as base beings, without whose sphere is Light or "God".
Our minds and bodies are veils of the Light within.
The uninitiate is a "Dark Star", and the Great Work for him is to make his veils transparent by 'purifying' them.
This 'purification' is really 'simplification'; it is not that the veil is dark, but that the complexity of its folds makes it opaque.
The Doctrine is evidently of supreme importance, from its position as the first 'revelation' of Aiwass. This 'star' or 'Inmost Light' is the original, individual, eternal essence.
The Khu is the magical garment which it weaves for itself, a 'form' for its Being Beyond Form, by use of which it can gain experience through self-consciousness...
This Khu is the first veil, far subtler than mind or body, and truer; for its symbolic shape depends on the nature of its Star.
We are not to worship the Khu, to fall in love with our Magical Image.
To do this (we have all done it) is to forget our Truth.
If we adore Form, it becomes opaque to Being, and may soon prove false to itself.
The Khu in each of us includes the Cosmos as he knows it.
Even another Khabs is only part of your Khu.
Your own Khabs is your one sole Truth.”

10. Let my servants be few & secret: they shall rule the many & the known.

Apparently both a call to the natural elitism of a Thelemic aristocracy, and a subtle reference to the very distinct possibility of a worldwide Illuminati conspiracy.
Also a tacit recognition that truly awakened beings have always been very few and far between, and that magical secrecy does have many practical purposes - survival, for one.

11. These are fools that men adore; both their Gods & their men are fools.

This points to the foolishness of finding one’s center in deities, authorities or institutions outside of oneself, whether political, academic, or religious.
Most of the unnatural catastrophes in human history were caused by this kind of lemming-like behavior, and its consequent avoidance of genuine personal responsibility.
It may even refer to the ultimate philosophical impossibility of actually or definitively ‘knowing’ absolutely anything…

12. Come forth, o children, under the stars, & take your fill of love!
13. I am above you and in you. My ecstasy is in yours. My joy is to see your joy.

An impassioned call to pagan abandon, freedom, and love.
Also an assertion that the divine awareness is not anything remotely separate, but is present in all of us.
A beautiful conception of the purpose of life and an affirmation that we have entered a new Age, and that our rituals should take place under the open sky of the starry night.
We are the souls and brains and bodies that allow the universe to find joy and meaning through our mutual ecstatic experience or union.
Magical rites have almost always been performed at night, when psychic sensitivity is at a peak, the children and mundanes are safely asleep, and the Earth shields the full force of solar radiation.
The subtler energy of the stars empowers the initiate.
Also a reminder that many have found in Egypt the mythic remnants of a stellar cult, and that in the very earliest versions of afterlife beliefs souls did not descend to an underworld, but ascended as stars in the body of Nuit.

14. Above, the gemmed azure is
The naked splendour of Nuit;
She bends in ecstasy to kiss
The secret ardours of Hadit.
The winged globe, the starry blue,
Are mine, O Ankh-af-na-khonsu!

This verse is drawn from the ritual to Horus that Crowley wrote to prepare for the reception of 'Liber AL vel Legis', and based upon the translation of the text upon the Stele of Revealing to which he was led in the Cairo Museum.
It depicts the main entities of Thelemic cosmology: the arching body of the night-sky star-goddess Nuit and the winged solar globe of Hadit, above the enthroned presence of hawk-headed Ra-hoor-khuit. 
Before him stands the figure of the priest/scribe Ankh-af-na-khonsu for whom the stele was made.
The name ‘Ankh-af-na-Khonsu‘ apparently means ‘He whose life is in Khonsu’ or ‘Life (or Energy) of the Moon’, and this leads us to a parenthetical consideration of the ancient lunar god Khonsu, another child god, at times a warrior and avenger or a magical healer and exorcist of demons, who is usually depicted in a form bearing the attributes and regalia of almost all of the other deities.
His name means ‘traveler’, and he also often has the head of a falcon, or wears a crown combining the moon-crescent and sun-disk. 

15. Now ye shall know that the chosen priest & apostle of infinite space is the prince-priest the Beast; and in his woman called the Scarlet Woman is all power given. They shall gather my children into their fold: they shall bring the glory of the stars into the hearts of men.

This introduces the officers or priesthood of the Thelemic Cult, the celebrants of the rites.
The epithet ‘scarlet‘ refers to the sacred womb-blood of the lunar cycle, for the magicks of the new age are said to be largely sexual in nature.
In Egypt Horus and Hathor celebrated a yearly sacred marriage, when her statue visited his temple in a holy procession and riotous festival.
These dramatic roles are evocative forms that human beings may use to incarnate the very gods themselves.
The Scarlet Woman may also bee seen as the Anima, the Beast as the Shadow, and their Child as the Self.
Another perspective might see them as the Soul, Spirit and Flesh.
It is said that they will gather a community of the newly awakened together, and draw the cosmic influences of the constellations into them, perhaps implying astrological or stellar or planetary forms of magick. 

16. For he is ever a sun, and she a moon. But to him is the winged secret flame, and to her the stooping starlight.

This would appear to express the conventional solar man/lunar woman polarity of western esotericism and alchemy, assigning the activation of the Kundalini energy to the priest, and the exudation of the Tantric kalas to the priestess.
And yet sometimes they switch: She is the Woman clothed with the Sun, and Ankh-f-n-Khonsu is the Life of the Moon. Reversal, of course, is a major formula, and often a gateway to both the Age of Maat (time running backwards) and the Nightside of the Tree.
Moon/Sun conjunctions or eclipses often seem like the hieros-gamos or sacred marriage; and as far as the Knowledge & Conversation of the True Will is concerned, the path of Samekh links the wedding of moon and sun, the unconscious and superconscious minds.
Art, Alchemy, or the Angel of Time would all be names of the tarot trump concerned; the name 

17. But ye are not so chosen.
The uninitiated person is not yet fully awakened to the aeonic energy.
The word ‘initiate’ means ‘to begin’.
Being ‘not’ or Nuit may imply the crossing of the Abyss.
18. Burn upon their brows, o splendrous serpent!
19. O azure-lidded woman, bend upon them!

Invokes Hadit (as the Egyptian uraeus-serpent of royal and magical power or the Snake of Kundalini, arising to open the third eye, and then going beyond) and Nuit (as the omnipresent mystery of the unfolding universe) to activate the psychic centers of the human microcosm.
Hadit is the Lance and Nuit the Grail of Western Mysteries.
This verse seems to be a formula of consecration. 

20. The key of the rituals is in the secret word which I have given unto him.

Keys are very old symbols of opening and authority, especially those of temples.
Crowley produced any number of impressive words of power, which may be studied in his writings.

21. With the God & the Adorer I am nothing: they do not see me. They are as upon the earth; I am Heaven, and there is no other God than me, and my lord Hadit.

Nuit is ultimately beyond any normal human conception.
Also, most of the formal devotions of conventional religions have essentially become mundane and bordering on useless, because they are strictly mediated by external symbols, formalized and often censored texts, and well-paid priesthoods. The reunitings of Nuit and Hadit, of the inmost self with the otherness beyond, are thus a higher form of yoga or union.
Less esoterically, Nuit is simply the physical universe, only perceived by the consciousness of Hadit. 
All that we seem to experience or think we know is filtered through our unreliable senses and the activity of our minds. Nuit is objective, Hadit subjective; or Nuit is potential, Hadit actual.

22. Now, therefore, I am known to ye by my name Nuit, and to him by a secret name which I will give him when at last he knoweth me. Since I am Infinite Space, and the Infinite Stars thereof, do ye also thus. Bind nothing! Let there be no difference made among you between any one thing & any other thing; for thereby there cometh hurt.
23. But whoso availeth in this, let him be the chief of all!

Again these verses refer to the power of the secret names to be discovered by each individual, and with the key formula of ‘Infinite Space, Infinite Stars’ that identifies Nuit with the great goddess ISIS. 
‘Bind nothing’ is an excellent exhortation to absolutely avoid imposing limitations, obsessions, habits, preconceptions, rigidity or possessiveness of any kind upon yourself or on others.
The ‘chief of all’ is one who has mastered their Self, or been mastered by it: the enlightened sage.

24. I am Nuit, and my word is six and fifty.
25. Divide, add, multiply, and understand.

NU would be Nun/50 and Vau/6, which reversed as UN perhaps reveals a key to the negation of things. These two letters are ascribed to Scorpio and Taurus, and the scorpion and bull are central to Mithraic iconography, which makes much use of zodiacal imagery.
The vulture goddess MAUT totals 56.

26. Then saith the prophet and slave of the beauteous one: Who am I, and what shall be the sign ? So she answered him, bending down, a lambent flame of blue, all-touching, all penetrant, her lovely hands upon the black earth, & her lithe body arched for love, and her soft feet not hurting the little flowers: Thou knowest ! And the sign shall be my ecstasy, the consciousness of the continuity of existence, (the unfragmentary non-atomic fact of my universality) the omnipresence of my body.

This expresses the nature and purpose of the universe as ecstasy, and affirms that there is ultimately no real division between its countless beings and elements.
Greek philosophy, the various traditions of alchemy, and most religions have regarded all things as variant manifestations and permutations of a single primordial substance, The ONE.
The land of Khem is an ancient name of Egypt, meaning ‘black earth’, referring to the fertile soil bordering the Nile.
In the seasonal course of the annual flooding of the Nile various waves of color from mineral deposits passed down the river.
Much of this sacred science originated in Egypt, hence Al-Khem or alchemy. 
“The nature of true Alchemy is that it changes not alone the substance of the Work, but also changes thence the Alchemist.”
There is also an implied promise that consciousness is immortal.
For ‘continuous’, perhaps consider the quantum continuum.

27. Then the priest answered & said unto the Queen of Space, kissing her lovely brows, and the dew of her light bathing his whole body in a sweet-smelling perfume of sweat: O Nuit, continuous one of Heaven, let it ever be thus; that men speak not of the as One but as None; and let them speak not of thee at all, since thou art continuous !

Spiritual love is expressed in physical terms, and the ancient symbolic language of perfumes, flowers, essences, secretions and kalas reflects a deep physiological gnosis.
Throughout history magico-religious rites have employed incense and perfumes, often dedicated to specific entities, as the sign of an invisible presence.
The sense of smell is one of the deepest keys to the re-creation of memory and altered states.
The suggestive term ‘continuous‘ again implies the stellar continuum.
Not speaking at all is the invincible formula of Hoor-par-kraat or Harpocrates, the invisible Lord of Silence.

28. None, breathed the light, faint & faery, of the stars, and two.
29. For I am divided for love's sake, for the chance of union.

The Creation of the World is a primordial Change from non-existence into incarnation, where cosmic romance with ‘the 10,000 things’ as an adventure becomes the purpose of existence.
Breath is life, and darkness becomes filled with light.
“Nuit validates the concept that she is all-inclusive, hence cannot be distinguished from any other thing known to her…
Yet the objective universe is not a homogeneous whole; it is everywhere separated into complementary parts: +/- magnetic fields, matter/antimatter, mass/energy, light/darkness, heat/cold, etc.
It is the interaction of these parts that engenders the phenomena of time and mathematics.”

30. This is the creation of the world, that the pain of division is as nothing, and the joy of dissolution all.

The ‘pain of division’ is the birth pang of the Universe, and also the condition of humanity.
Yet this verse joyously dismisses the any obsession with sorrow and illusion, while perhaps retaining the concept of the ‘ocean of bliss’ or ‘the shore-less sea’.

31. For these fools of men and their woes care not thou at all ! They feel little; what is, is balanced by weak joys; but ye are my chosen ones.

The limited roles and daily dramas of common life pale before the quest for ultimate answers, and every true individual must undertake this journey on no terms but their own.
This also points out the pitfalls of second-hand emotion and blind belief, which seem to ensnare and obsess many so completely that they feel compelled to interfere with the lives of others, or live out their own lives vicariously on the screens of computers, televisions and films.
It has often been said that “most people lead lives of quiet desperation”; I might well add to that the constant distractions of gossip, group-thought, the mindless barrage of the Media Spectacle, and habitual self-destruction by alcohol or other medicaments (whenever used to achieve numbness and addiction rather than creativity, metamorphosis or joy). 
Balance or Equilibrium (Maat) is an extremely important concept.

In general, many polarities must maintain an active ongoing equilibrium, or collapse.

32. Obey my prophet ! follow out the ordeals of my knowledge! seek me only! Then the joys of my love will redeem ye from all pain. This is so: I swear it by the vault of my body; by my sacred heart and tongue; by all I can give, by all I desire of ye all.

Apparently identifies Aiwass as the prophet, and warns of the inevitable ordeals which may lead to knowledge or Gnosis, while promising transcendence of sorrow and pain.
In general most magical initiations wind up including a corresponding ordeal, self-created or external, and in many cases the twin concepts seem inseparable and inevitable processes.
Dissolution of the self into Nuit brings an end to all self-consciousness and thus from pain. The ultimate argument of Nuit is for suicide of the finite self in order to become part of the infinite whole.”
The sky is a number of things - cow, baldachin, water, woman - it is the goddess Nut and the Goddess Hathor…”
Baldachin ? This is variously defined as a richly embroidered brocade fabric of silk and gold or silver threads, a cloth canopy fixed or carried over an important person or a sacred object in procession, or an ornamental structure resembling a canopy used especially over an altar or tomb.
The body of Nuit, the infinite night-sky, jewelled with stars…

33. Then the priest fell into a deep trance or swoon, & said unto the Queen of Heaven; Write unto us the ordeals; write unto us the rituals; write unto us the law!

The altered state of trance or gnostic consciousness is an essential prerequisite for the successful practice of magick, and there are countless techniques for achieving it, including the various physical, spiritual, psychological and entheogenic technologies of Magick.

34. But she said: the ordeals I write not: the rituals shall be half known and half concealed: the Law is for all.

Life is quite well known for presenting us all with ordeals or tests, the trick is to accept them as learning experiences, and work through them, at which point ordeal becomes initiation.
One should probably expect initiation to be somewhat stressful (and that is a considerable understatement).
Rituals may be best drawn from one’s chosen cultural traditions or previous incarnations, but in the New Age must be adapted, expanded, and made one’s own: the best magick is that which you create yourself.
The Law is termed universal, and acceptance of Thelema triggers inspiration and mutation.
Individual change is Initiation, collective change is Evolution.

35. This that thou writest is the threefold book of Law.

Three chapters, three deities, three ecstasies; and hence titled The Book of the Law.
This may be the ‘Sealed Book’ prophesied in Revelation.

36. My scribe Ankh-af-na-khonsu, the priest of the princes, shall not in one letter change this book; but lest there be folly, he shall comment thereupon by the wisdom of Ra-Hoor-Khu-it.

The three chapters of the Book of the Law are, if one truly accepts them, the program for a very remarkable series of transformative experiences.
They contain far less dogma and accretion than most religious texts, which tend to be heavily edited as the centuries pass.
This makes the insistence upon preserving the unchanged original quite logical.

37. Also the mantras and spells; the obeah and the wanga; the work of the wand and the work of the sword; these he shall learn and teach.

Mantras and spells are verbal and poetic formulas, repeated to concentrate the mind.
The shift to a Nu Age affects all world traditions, and every consciously willed act is a magical act.
The 93 Current reconciles all teachings, a process seen in 'The Vision & The Voice', the series of Enochian scryings that continued his initiation and the transformation of the metaphysical or metaphorical cosmos.
The Sword of Thelema is paired with the Balance of Truth, while the Wand or Rod or Staff is the quintessential tool and symbol of the Magus.

38. He must teach; but he may make severe the ordeals.

There is a duty to spread the word, but lessons must ultimately be learned by the personal struggle of the individual student, and one thrust into the role of teacher has the right to test their students as well as the obligation to share their experiences. Conversely, students have an equal right to test the honesty of their teachers. While cooperation is needed within organizations, all authority in the New Age ultimately rests within the individual.

39. The word of the Law is Te??µa.

Thelema (written in Greek letters in the original manuscript) or ‘Will’ is the key word and core principle of the magick of this system.
With its other half Agape, or ‘Love’, it shares the signal numeration 93, hence the term 93 Current.  The discovery of the True Will and the Great Work of carrying it out are the goals of the Thelemic magician.
Beyond mere focus or one-pointedness, the True Will is defined as the full expression of the primal essence of your own unique nature, of ‘being who you are’.
An A.U. is the scientific term for an astronomical unit, the average or mean distance between the Earth and the Sun: 93 million miles. ‘Au’ is also the symbol for solar Gold in the periodic table of elements, from the Latin ‘Aurum’.

40. Who calls us Thelemites will do no wrong, if he look but close into the word. For there are therein Three Grades, the Hermit, and the Lover, and the man of Earth. Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

The Hermit is solitary in his concentration, and might imply the formula of the ascetic.
The Lover implies connections with all life, and perhaps the varied methods of sexual magick.
The Man of Earth takes action in the mundane or physical world, but it would be a mistake to consider this in any way a ‘lower’ form of practice; all three are equally valid modes of being, and one’s work or career in the material world should be as clear an expression of the True Will as any other aspect of life.
Then there is the Veil of Paroketh, between the lower four spheres and the attainment of the Knowledge & Conversation of the Holy Guardian Spirit.
Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law !‘ is the credo and essence of all of Crowley’s teaching.
This is not merely a call to hedonism, but more like a magical version of Jung’s process of Individuation: the purpose of human existence is to discover one’s own True Will, to achieve wholeness and fulfil one’s destiny and purpose, ‘to become who we really are’.
It is to discover your primal obsession, to reify the inherent dream.
Like Nietzsche, Reich and many modern psychologists Crowley deeply believed that all human beings are born truly free, but are then immorally programmed with the rigid rules of society and culture.
This inevitably leads us to much of the unhappiness in the world, and it is only by a determined and revolutionary process of conscious de-conditioning and discarding the ego-masks of the socialized persona that the genuine Self is finally allowed to emerge.
To discover this True Will is to find the real purpose at the core of one’s being, and to work it out fully in life is the only possible meaning for any individual experience, the existential and heroic quest for meaning.
"To become a work of art is the object of living."

41. The word of Sin is Restriction. O man! refuse not thy wife, if she will! O lover, if thou wilt, depart! There is no bond that can unite the divided but love: all else is a curse. Accursed! Accursed be it to the aeons! Hell.

Apparently the only sin in a completely Thelemic society would be to deny or transgress against another’s Will, and ideally in such a sublime cosmos stars in their harmonious orbits will never disastrously conflict.
Crowley had a great lifelong appreciation of the importance of freedom, and a matching aversion to external authority.
No doubt we would like to consider ourselves in the 21st century as much more personally liberated and socially advanced, but the struggle still continues.

42. Let it be that state of many-hood bound and loathing. So with thy all; thou hast no right but to do thy will.

The ‘state of many-hood bound and loathing‘ could refer to the chaotic demon of dispersion Choronzon (333) who guards the non-sphere of Knowledge at the pylon of the gate of the Abyss.

43. Do that, and no other shall say nay.

‘No right but to do thy will’ is a rather high moral principle; it implies that everyone has the responsibility and obligation and potential to perfect their own life alone, and no right whatsoever to interfere with anyone else’s decisions or judgment.

44. For pure will, unassuaged of purpose, delivered from the lust of result, is every way perfect.

Pure Will would thus appear to be a very high state indeed.
One should never be a slave to obsession, but act as an artist with life as your work, expressing the essence of your true nature.
The warning against the ‘lust of result’ is a magical formula implying a certain ironic or enlightened detachment from one’s obsessions.
Much meditation throughout the eons has been devoted to non-attachment, with varied levels of success. Attachment, on the other hand, has a long history of inevitable sorrow.

45. The Perfect and the Perfect are one Perfect and not two; nay, are none !

Defines the equation of 0 = 2 as (+1) (-1) = 0; the positive and negative poles that cancel each other out. One of the major keys to these mysteries.

46. Nothing is a secret key of this law. Sixty-one the Jews call it; I call it eight, eighty, four-hundred & eighteen.

Nothingness, the void, emptiness, is a key to understanding, or what underlies understanding: an emphasis perhaps more eastern than western.

47. But they have the half: unite by thine art so that all disappear.

I am not of this world, nor of the next, nor of Paradise, nor of hell.
My Place is the Placeless, my trace is the Traceless;
'Tis Neither body or soul, for I belong to the soul of the Beloved.
I have put Duality away, I have seen that the two worlds are one...”

48. My prophet is a fool with his one, one, one; are not they the Ox, and none by the Book ?

The Book of Thoth is the Tarot; these are all aspects of Atu of the Fool, whose numeration in the Tarot is 0 (zero or none) and Hebrew letter is Aleph/1, which means ‘Ox’ and equals 111 when spelled in full.
He thus symbolizes and encompasses existence and non-existence, all and naught, wisdom and folly, personifying paradox.
Note that OX is the circle and cross which make up the Mark of the Beast, and also recall the Ordeal X in Chapter III.

49. Abrogate are all rituals, all ordeals, all words and signs. Ra-Hoor-Khuit hath taken his seat in the East at the Equinox of the Gods; and let Asar be with Isa, who also are one. But they are not of me. Let Asar be the adorant, Isa the sufferer; Hoor in his secret name and splendour is the Lord initiating.

All previous systems of initiation are declared obsolete in the Age of Horus; the Equinox of the Gods was March 20th, 1904.
There are echoes of the Golden Dawn equinox ceremony, where new officers took their places in the temple for the half-year to come; however, all of their practices are now to be superseded by the arcane rites of Thelema.
Years later, Crowley used this rationale to declare himself the new leader of the Order, and sole link to the authority of the Secret Chiefs.
Asar is Osiris, the god of the previous aeon of the Father, whose magical formula was Death & Rebirth.
Asar is the adorant, the lover/brother of the goddess Isis; and is also the lord of the dead in the underworld, often portrayed as swathed in the wrappings of a mummy, which may point to the shamanic or tantric meditation of becoming a corpse.
Isis as the mourning widow searched for the scattered pieces of Osiris to reunite and reanimate them, so that she could give birth to the child Horus, after magically recreating the missing phallus of her murdered sibling/husband.
This is one of the major myth-cycles of ancient Egypt; cross-cultural parallels might include the the grieving Demeter’s search for her lost daughter Kore or Persephone in Greece and the Eleusinian Mysteries.

50. There is a word to say about the Hierophantic task. Behold! there are three ordeals in one, and it may be given in three ways. The gross must pass through fire; let the fine be tried in intellect, and the lofty chosen ones in the highest. Thus ye have star & star, system & system; let not one know well the other !

The Hierophant is the guide of souls and high priest; his task is initiation, which Jung termed individuation, and the formula given recalls the alchemical process of the creation of the famous Stone of the Wise or Philosopher‘s Stone, which is closely paralleled and precipitated by the transformation of the alchemical adept himself.
These three ordeals are physical, mental, and spiritual tests.
The ‘gross’ refers to the base or primal matter of the Great Work which is reduced into decay and a formless chaotic state and purified by the Secret or Invisible Fire, then refined to become ever more subtle.
As the ‘fine’, the alchemist’s own wisdom or intellect, increases through this experience, and by the understanding of the encoded texts that describe this operation.
In the final ‘lofty’ stage one ultimately ascends to become an unveiled star in the body of Nuit: the gross is the physical, the fine is the mental, and the highest the spiritual body of the self-perfected human being.
Each star is a sun encircled by its own solar system, whose unfolding complexities can never be fully known by another.
In terms of the three main alchemical stages the Gross would refer to the blackening and putrefactions of Nigredo, the Fine to the repeated purifications and refinement of Albedo, and the Lofty to Rubedo, when the final attainment and activation of the Philosopher’s Stone transforms lead into gold and mundane awareness into truly illuminated consciousness.
These three stages also represent body, soul and spirit, or the black raven, white swan and red phoenix, or salt, mercury and sulfur.
The chemical process parallels the psychological evolution of the alchemist herself.
As for ‘star & star, system & system’: everything in its place.

51. There are four gates to one palace; the floor of that palace is of silver and gold; lapis lazuli & jasper are there; and all rare scents; jasmine & rose, and the emblems of death. Let him enter in turn or at once the four gates; let him stand on the floor of the palace. Will he not sink ? Amn. Ho ! warrior, if thy servant sink ? But there are means and means. Be goodly therefore: dress ye all in fine apparel; eat rich foods and drink sweet wines and wines that foam ! Also, take your fill and will of love as ye will, when, where and with whom ye will! But always unto me.

This is a ritual of initiation.
The palace of the king may be the temple of the priest, and the four gates the four quarters of the world and the four elements of the magus (north, south, east, west or earth, fire, air, water or disk, wand, blade, cup).
The black & white chessboard floor design of Masonic halls is now formed of the shimmering silver & gold of the lunar and solar currents.
Entering the hall one is tested, to rise or fall, uniting with angel or with demon; it may make no final difference which.
Lapis lazuli and jasper are stones (Earth) of blue and of green ascribed by Crowley to Nuit and Hadit; jasmine and rose are scents (Heaven) ascribed to the Moon and to Venus (the Rose has a very complex series of symbolisms, and is in the West what the Lotus is to Egypt and the East).
Lapis lazuli is especially interesting, - a vivid blue with flecks of gold, traditionally seen as a symbol of the celestial firmament and used as protection from the evil eye.
In Egypt the goddess Hathor is the Lady of Turquoise, and since ancient descriptions of substances are often variable, it has been suggested that this also refers to lapis lazuli.
‘Lapis’ is simply Latin for ‘stone’: the 'Lapis Philosophorum' is the 'Philosopher’s Stone' of alchemy.
In Egypt creation begins and ends with Atum and Osiris (now Horus?) as two serpents in the dark waters of the formless abyss.
Crowley states: “The rare scents are possibly various ecstasies or Samadhis. Jasmine and Rose are Hieroglyphs of the two main Sacraments, while the emblems of death may refer to certain secrets of a well known exoteric school of initiation...."
We are encouraged to share in sensuous and erotic delights of all kinds, without any limitations as to partners, timing or location, but to offer up all our ecstasies to Nuit.
It is in fact essential that all acts of love and union be offered up to Her.

The Beast 666 ordains by His authority that every man, and every woman, and every intermediately-sexed individual, shall be absolutely free to interpret and communicate Self by means of any sexual practices soever, whether direct or indirect, rational or symbolic, physiologically, legally, ethically, or religiously approved or no, provided only that all parties to any act are fully aware of all implications and responsibilities thereof, and heartily agree thereto.”

52. If this be not aright; if ye confound the space-marks, saying: They are one; or saying, They are many; if the ritual be not ever unto me: then expect the direful judgments of Ra Hoor Khuit !

The space-marks are cosmological or conceptual reference-points, and are often considered to be the eightfold compass-rose marking of the directions which orient our sacred space around the center; consider the recent vitality of the eight-arrowed symbol of the Chaosphere
The cosmic conception of the One and the Many is apparently superseded by the Thelemic formula of 0 = 2.
Again it is emphasized that all rites are devoted to Nuit as the ‘visible object of worship’, as Hadit remains the invisible and subjective observer. Ra-Hoor-Khuit maintains this discipline, and the Last Judgment is another name for the Atu retitled the Aeon.

53. This shall regenerate the world, the little world my sister, my heart & my tongue, unto whom I send this kiss. Also, o scribe and prophet, though thou be of the princes, it shall not assuage thee nor absolve thee. But ecstasy be thine and joy of earth: ever To me ! To me !

The regeneration of the world may portray ecological concerns, in addition to the more spiritual sense of a new heaven and a new earth.
The scribe is warned that his destiny remains stormy, but is promised ecstasy and joy (Nu & Had, heaven & earth?) in recompense.
Starry Nuit’s joyous refrain of ‘To me! To me !’ is introduced, Her most sacred mantra; and the formula of ‘heart & tongue’ again reappears.

54. Change not as much as the style of a letter; for behold! thou, o prophet, shalt not behold all these mysteries hidden therein.

Another warning regarding the sanctity of the text, and that there will be revelations found after Crowley himself.
The vast importance of the individual letters points to the almost universal usage of esoteric and number symbolism in sacred alphabets: in Egyptian hieroglyphs, Greek scripts, Norse runes, Celtic oghams, and Spare’s sigilic alphabet of desire.

55. The child of thy bowels, he shall behold them.

This is a prophecy interpreted by Crowley to imply the coming of a magical child to be his heir, and he sought to find, spawn or manifest one for the rest of his life.

56. Expect him not from the East, nor from the West; for from no expected house cometh that child. Aum ! All words are sacred and all prophets true; save only that they understand a little; solve the first half of the equation, leave the second un-attacked. But thou hast all in the clear light, and some, though not all, in the dark.

Not from the East, nor from the West‘ implies neither Oriental nor Occidental cultural supremacy.
The ‘clear light’ refers to the revelations of the world’s various prophets, while the ‘dark’ implies the diamond void of emptiness that underlies all human doctrines (or perhaps is merely ignorance). The Known and the Unknown? LITTLE as 30+10+9+9+30+5 = 93.

57. Invoke me under my stars! Love is the law, love under will. Nor let the fools mistake love; for there are love and love. There is the dove, and there is the serpent. Choose ye well! He, my prophet, hath chosen, knowing the law of the fortress, and the great mystery of the House of God.
All these old letters of my Book are aright; but {TzADDI} is not the Star. This also is secret: my prophet shall reveal it to the wise.

In the manuscript Tzaddi/90 (then attributed to the tarot atu of the Star) is written as a Hebrew letter.
Invoking under the open sky is an imperative. ‘Love is the law, love under will !’ is the balancing completion of ‘Do what thou wilt’, the other half of the equation.
The dove would appear to be spiritual love (greek ‘charis’) and the serpent physical congress (greek ‘eros’), the two sides of human nature, which fools and lovers so ceaselessly confound.
The Fortress or House of God are other names for the Atu called the Lightning-Struck Tower (Pe/80), which is ascribed to Mars and thus a key to the warlike aspect of Horus; it is also clearly a phallic symbol, or the human spine which can be seen as the axis which the Kundalini ascends, or the Egyptian symbol of the Djed or backbone of Osiris, which was ritually erected as a pillar and often worn as an amulet.

58. I give unimaginable joys on earth: certainty, not faith, while in life, upon death; peace unutterable, rest, ecstasy; nor do I demand aught in sacrifice.

Joy is the constant theme of AL, though the verse perhaps leaves open the question of an afterlife.
These joys are principally (1) the Beatific Vision, in which Beauty is constantly present to the recipient of Her grace, together with a calm and unutterable joy; (2) the Vision of Wonder, in which the whole Mystery of the Universe is constantly understood and admired for its Ingenium and Wisdom. (1) is referred to the Grade of Adept; (2) to the Grade of Master of the Temple.
The certainty concerning death is conferred by the Magical Memory, and various Experiences without which Life is unintelligible.
"Peace unutterable" is given by the Trance in which Matter is destroyed; "rest" by that which finally equilibrates Motion.
"Ecstasy" refers to a Trance which combines these."

59. My incense is of resinous woods and gums; and there is no blood therein: because of my hair the trees of Eternity.

The offering unto Nuit is incense, smoke rising in the air toward space, made from plants or trees; we might often view the goddess as Flora and the god as Faunus in biological terms of plant- and animal-based life forms.
Burning offerings of a rare and valuable substance is an extremely old human custom.
In Egypt… the sycamore fig… was regarded as a manifestation of the sky goddess. Its foliage and shade signify rest and peace in the life beyond; sometimes the souls of the deceased were thought to be birds that lived in its branches.”

60. My number is 11, as all their numbers who are of us. The Five Pointed Star, with a Circle in the Middle, & the circle is Red. My colour is black to the blind, but the blue & gold are seen of the seeing. Also I have a secret glory for them that love me.

Eleven, as the ‘one beyond ten’, is the number of magick in Crowley’s thought.
The five-pointed star or pentagram is a very ancient symbol of arcane energy worldwide, first documented as early as 3,000 BCE in Mesopotamia and later in Greece, and shows our basic structure as human beings (two arms, two legs, and the customary head).
To the Pythagoreans it symbolized health and knowledge, and it was sacred to the goddess Hygieia; the formula SALUS or ‘health’ is often inscribed within its points.
Its 5-fold structure symbolizes the 5 classical planets (aside from Sol and Luna), and the 5 elements and the 5 senses.
There are hidden mathematical mysteries of geometry encoded in its proportions: it is said to be the simplest regular star polygon, and as such it always contains ten points (the five points of the star and the five vertices of the inner pentagon) and fifteen line segments: 
Each intersection of edges sections the edges in the Golden Ratio” or Golden Mean, the Fibonacci series, wherein each new number is the sum of the two previous numbers: “the ratio of the length of the edge to the longer segment is f, as is the length of the longer segment to the shorter. Also, the ratio of the length of the shorter segment to the segment bounded by the 2 intersecting edges (a side of the pentagon in the pentagram's center) is f… The pentagram includes ten isosceles triangles: five acute and five obtuse isosceles triangles. In all of them, the ratio of the longer side to the shorter side is f. The acute triangles are golden triangles.” 
The spiraling pattern of growth called the Fibonacci series appears everywhere in nature, in foetal development, seashells, leaves and flower petals, pine-cones, the muscles of the heart and the ratio of male to female bees in hives.
It also forms the basis of much sacred architecture; and as many ancient civilizations knew, the apparent path of the planet Venus (which is both the Evening and Morning Star) forms a pentagram in the sky every 8 years (or 99 lunar cycles).
The pentagram appears in many forms of talisman, including rings, pendants and the gnostic Abraxas gems.

Crowley would have made much use of pentagrams in the invoking and banishing rituals of the Golden Dawn later incorporated into the A.A. and O.T.O. 
It is a religious symbol in the ancient Near East.
In Egypt the hieroglyph of the star was usually drawn simply as 5 straight lines radiating from a central point.
The red circle in the center is the Sun or the pool of magical power; red is often considered the fundamental or base color of the spectrum, related to life’s blood and fiery energy. In many cultures it is the quintessential hue of magick, most notably in the Typhonian tradition of graeco-egyptian sorcery, in Norse rune lore.
Black is the ultimate shade of the night-sky, blue and gold of the solar day, thus Nu and Had. Each individual must discover his or her own secret glory.
Alternatively, to the un-awakened the universe is ‘black to the blind’ who see only empty space and dead matter, while adepts see living stars, each linked to every other star by rays and waves of light.
Crowley says: “The uninitiated perceive only darkness in Night; the wise perceive the golden stars in the vault of azure.”
This star is the pentagram, with the single point at the top.
The points touch the parts of Nuith's body as shown in the Stele.
The earth-point marks the position of her feet, the fire-point, that of her hands, the other three points - air, spirit, and water respectively - refer to "my secret centre, my heart, and my tongue."

61. But to love me is better than all things: if under the night-stars in the desert thou presently burnest mine incense before me, invoking me with a pure heart, and the Serpent flame therein, thou shalt come a little to lie in my bosom. For one kiss wilt thou then be willing to give all; but whoso gives one particle of dust shall lose all in that hour. Ye shall gather goods and store of women and spices; ye shall wear rich jewels; ye shall exceed the nations of the earth in splendour & pride; but always in the love of me, and so shall ye come to my joy. I charge you earnestly to come before me in a single robe, and covered with a rich headdress. I love you! I yearn to you! Pale or purple, veiled or voluptuous, I who am all pleasure and purple, and drunkenness of the innermost sense, desire you. Put on the wings, and arouse the coiled splendour within you: come unto me !

This beautiful verse, with its important numeration of 61 (AIN or NIA) reveals the entire secret ritual of Nuit; Crowley expanded this into the important instruction Liber NU s.f. XI, which gives a full account of the practices leading to the attainment of union with Her (HER = 210, as does ART and NOX or Night, the opposite formula to LUX or Light; 2,1,0 is a countdown of Duality into Unity into Nothingness).
The ‘desert’ (of Set) and the giving of ‘one particle of dust’ may imply the Crossing of the Abyss.
The ‘single robe’ is an intact and charged aura.

62. At all my meetings with you shall the priestess say - and her eyes shall burn with desire as she stands bare and rejoicing in my secret temple - To me ! To me ! calling forth the flame of the hearts of all in her love-chant.

The sky-clad state of ritual nudity is often employed in Magical, Wiccan and other ritual; it recalls a primal state of social equality, innocence and honesty, as well as a charged erotic atmosphere and absence of pretence.
The ‘flame of the hearts of all’ is Hadit.

63. Sing the rapturous love-song unto me ! Burn to me perfumes ! Wear to me jewels ! Drink to me, for I love you ! I love you !

The ‘rapturous love-song‘ stimulates the sense of hearing; ‘perfumes‘ that of scent; bright ‘jewels‘, vision; ‘drink‘, taste; and ‘love‘ that of touch.

64. I am the blue-lidded daughter of Sunset; I am the naked brilliance of the voluptuous night-sky.

This vision of the Goddess as the physical form of Nature poetically idealizes the universe as a living being, and also recalls the early tendency of western anthropology to define all pagan deities as personifications of natural forces.
Astronomical phenomena stellar, lunar and solar are, like ecstasy, a constant underlying theme of Liber AL.

65. To me ! To me !

The great mantra of Her worship, the call to interstellar space.

66. The Manifestation of Nuit is at an end.

Again, Liber NU sub figura XI contains the magical and meditational practices for achieving Nuit.
The first and last verses of this chapter both emphasize the word of power ‘manifestation’.

As Heraclitus said, - “The Aeon is a Child at play.”

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