Looking into the Word: Some Observations


By Alamantra
Originally appeared Ashé Journal, Vol 3, Issue 1, Spring 2004.

“Cease, cease, this vizard may become another, Withdraw yourselves unto the serpent’s brother.” Rabelais from Gargantua and Pantagruel

Who Calls Us

“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 Book of the Law Chapter 1 V: 40

RabelaisIn considering the word “Thelemites” let us begin by referring to the Rabelaisian references to Thelema. It was Rabelais who first coined the term “Thelemites” and, for Crowley, this is certainly a literary reference, inferring the idea that this is where we may find the seed of the Thelemic tradition. Even though currently veiled primarily in academia, volumes have been written as to the influence Rabelais and his work have had on the development of Western thought and culture. This gives us a very definite orientation and tells its own tale throughout history. For example, when Sir Francis Dashwood renovated the Abbey at Medmenham in the 1750s, he had the motto of the Abbey of Theleme, “FAY CE QUE VOUDRAS” (Do what you please), painted over the eastern porch of the building. It was there that his gentleman’s club, known to some as the infamous “Hellfire Club” would hold their events.

In particular, Rabelais described the Thelemites as the inhabitants of the Abbey of Theleme. The Thelemites composed a religious order “contrary to all others.” How well this resonates with a passage like “ye are against the people o my chosen.”

Rabelais then gives a sort of “negative confession” and states what the Abbey of Theleme COULD NOT be since it was to be contrary to all other orders: If all other Abbeys were walled, the Abbey of Theleme could not be. It was “open” because:

seeing wall and mur signify but one and the same thing); where there is mur before and mur behind, there is store of murmur, envy, and mutual conspiracy.

By virtue of Rabelais’ definition, Theleme did not embrace envy, and mutual conspiracy and its “order” could not have those qualities. Therefore the Abbey of Theleme was to be open and not encumbered by walls. This alludes to its universal nature, and the fact that the human will is not to be confined.

The tale continues by observing that all other religious orders treated women, especially women who are chaste and honest, as ‘impure’ due solely to the fact that they are women. The very ground that they walked upon is swept less their ‘impurity” impeach the sanctity of the institution. Therefore when a member of one of THOSE religious orders (male or female) entered the Abbey of Thelema, every room that such a condescending hypocrite passed should be thoroughly scrubbed. Rabelais isn’t content to merely sweep the ground after they pass, but the whole room must be scoured! This is a critical accusation Rabelais is making, by saying that the women who acquiesced in such a lot as given by a religious order had to take their portion of responsibility for the situation, and their reflection on the general value of women as members of the human race.

The Thelemites were to also do away clocks and other time mechanisms since one of the greatest wastes of time is to sit and count the hours. They were not to live on some pre-ordained schedule, but to follow the natural inclinations and sleep patterns of their own bodies.

Nor can there be any greater dotage in the world than for one to guide and direct his courses by the sound of a bell, and not by his own judgment and discretion.

Rabelais describes judgment and discretion as Thelemic values and then goes on to describe that the Thelemites were the ‘beautiful people’ and that these ‘beautiful people’ were expected to make love in the open, rather than by sneaking, and through intrigue, which are themselves the manifestation of fear and guilt; and they were permitted to celebrate their unions through marriage (as opposed to other religious orders at that time, which forbade marriage.)

These other items that describe a Thelemite in particular:

Item, Because both men and women that are received into religious orders after the expiring of their noviciate or probation year were constrained and forced perpetually to stay there all the days of their life, it was therefore ordered that all whatever, men or women, admitted within this abbey, should have leave to depart with peace and contentment whensoever it should seem good to them so to do.

Item, for that the religious men and women did ordinarily make three vows, to wit, those of chastity, poverty, and obedience, it was therefore constituted and appointed that in this convent they might be honourably married, that they might be rich, and live at liberty. In regard of the legitimate time of the persons to be initiated, and years under and above which they were not capable of reception, the women were to be admitted from ten till fifteen, and the men from twelve till eighteen.

This admittance into freedom was bestowed upon the teenage years, which was, certainly, in Rabelais’ time, the very fruit of life itself, before a person was broken with constant sickness, old age and worn down with the weight of the world. It is a time when the human organism is open to experience, not completely conditioned with social programming, and developed enough to support its natural curiosity. This statement also let us know that a person wasn’t expected to remain cloistered in an Abbey all their lives, but to develop and move on, and go out into the world, spreading the perimeter of the Abbey itself as they did so.

In short, Rabelais is describing an institution not unlike a combination preparatory school and liberal arts college.

The very centerpiece of being a Thelemite may be summarized by the following passage from “Chapter 1.LVII. How the Thelemites were governed, and of their manner of living.”

All their life was spent not in laws, statutes, or rules, but according to their own free will and pleasure. They rose out of their beds when they thought good; they did eat, drink, labour, sleep, when they had a mind to it and were disposed for it. None did awake them, none did offer to constrain them to eat, drink, nor to do any other thing; for so had Gargantua established it. In all their rule and strictest tie of their order there was but this one clause to be observed,

Do What Thou Wilt;

because men that are free, well-born, well-bred, and conversant in honest companies, have naturally an instinct and spur that prompteth them unto virtuous actions, and withdraws them from vice, which is called honour. Those same men, when by base subjection and constraint they are brought under and kept down, turn aside from that noble disposition by which they formerly were inclined to virtue, to shake off and break that bond of servitude wherein they are so tyrannously enslaved; for it is agreeable with the nature of man to long after things forbidden and to desire what is denied us.

Therefore, we can say, by this definition, a Thelemite is a person who is free, well-born, well-bred and capable of interacting in honest company. A Thelemite has an inherent sense of honor and a sense of proportion and discretion. They have transcended the need for a ‘battle of the sexes’ and dominance and affluence is not, among them, determined by sexual precedent but by a sense of partnership and linking rather than hierarchical ranking. Much of Crowley’s work is an interpretation and extension of this simple summary.

In the passage that is currently under our consideration, the reference to Rabelais is two-fold: the reference to the Thelemites, and then the signature of passage “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law,” echoing the quote above. In fact, in this sense, it almost seems as if Crowley is making a vow to make Rabelais’ “Theleme” manifest. This would have been an easy vow to keep since it was already manifest and had in every action contrary to church and crown and the other artificial restraints that bind sum humanity’s genius and keeps it from the higher life to which it aspires.

Part II: The Lemes (The Lemites vs The Ophites)

Now, let us break apart this word, Theleme, so that it appears thus: The Leme. According to

Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary the word “Leme” refers to: \Leme\ (l[=e]m), n. [OE. leem, leme, leam, AS. le[‘o]ma light, brightness; akin to E. light, n. [root]122.] A ray or glimmer of light; a gleam. [Obs.] –Chaucer. \Leme\, v. i. To shine. [Obs.] –Piers Plowman.

So from the very beginning of this exploration we have, literally “The light” …or “The ray” …or “The gleam”. The final “ite” is a suffix denoting ‘one of a party, a sympathizer with or adherent of, a person who is a native of a particular place.’

By this reckoning, “The Lemites” translates as those who are adherents to or in sympathy with The Light; or as those who are natives of the Light.

This word, ‘lemes’ also conjures the idea of the individual sparks of light that make up a fire as alluded to in

Cometh of the greete superfluytee
Of youre rede colera, pardee,
Which causeth folk to dreden in hir dremes
Of arwes, and of fyr with rede lemes,
Of rede beestes, that they wol hem byte,
Of contek, and of whelpes, grete and lyte;
(Chaucer: Canterbury Tales: Lines 2927-2932: “The Nun’s Priest’s Tale”)

“Leme” was an Old English word and its forms were used by Chaucer, who Aleister Crowley expressed more than a fondness for, but considered him (and Shakespeare etc..) to be his “family” and links to the “great men of the past”. In regard to his 1901-1902 “Wanderer in the Waste” period, Crowley writes:

I had made a point from the beginning of making sure that my life as a Wanderer in the Waste should not cut me off from my family, the great men of the past. I got India paper editions of Chaucer, Shakespeare and Browning; and in default of India paper, the best editions of Atlanta in Calydon, Poems and Ballads (First Series), Shelley, Keats, and The Qabalah Unveiled. I caused all these to be bound in vellum, with ties. William Morris had re-introduced this type of binding in the hopes of giving a mediaeval flavour to his publications. I adopted it as being the best protection for books against the elements. I carried these volumes everywhere, and even when my alleged waterproof rucksack was soaked through, my masterpieces remained intact. (Confessions, p. 256)

We can note the significance of his placing Chaucer first in this descriptive and also the fact that he found this descriptive considerable enough to devote space to in his Autobiography. We may also consider the expense being referred to, not to mention the additional burden of the transport and maintenance of his “masterpieces.”

…for there are therein Three Grades, the Hermit, and the Lover, and the man of Earth.

Let us consider the idea of the three grades and the other references to a triadic structure within The Book of the Law itself. The first obvious consideration is the fact that the book is divided into three chapters, and it would be natural enough to establish a correspondence between a grade and a respective chapter. A grade is generally understood as a step in an overall process. The word “grade” comes to us through the French from the Latin “gradus” meaning “step or pace, and this is further derived from gradi to step, go. The ideas of “Coming” (represented 19 times in The Book of the Law) and “Going” (represented 5 times in The Book of the Law) are recurring themes throughout. Both of these words denote movement, though it could be reasonably argued that “going,” “to go” etc.. denotes a sense of “departure” and “leaving” whereas “come” represents a sense of approaching and arrival.

In his commentaries, Crowley has described “Nuit” (the principle of the first chapter of The Book of the Law) as representing “Space” and Hadit (the principle of the second chapter of The Book of the Law) as representing “Motion”.

The idea of ‘impermanence’ and ‘motion’ finds numerous analogues in the history of world religion. One analogue that I have always felt was of especial reference as regards Crowley’s work is that of the three Gnostic sects: The Peratae (or Peratai), who have also been linked to the Ophites or “serpent Gnostics” and the Sethians.

In The Gnostics by Jacques Lacarriere, he writes of the Peratae

The Peratae take their name from the Greek ‘peran,’ which means to overcome, to pass beyond. Moreover, they explained themselves in these terms: ‘We are the only ones who know the laws of generation and the path by which man entered into this world, therefore we are the only ones who know how to walk this path and overcome corruption.’ No doubt the Peratae achieved this ‘overcoming’ through the same heteromorphous erotic techniques, re-enacting the Serpent’s first act which remained the essential symbol of their cosmology and their soteriology: ‘Just as a magnet will attract only iron to itself, and amber only scraps of paper, so the Serpent, to the exclusion of all others, attracts from this world only that perfect race formed in the image of the Father, made of the same essence as He Himself is made and which He sent down here below. (Lacarriere, p. 83)

Now, what do the Peratae have to do with the three-fold graduation implied by The Book of the Law I: 40? According to Hippolytus V in his work: “The Refutation of All Heresies,” one of the greatest of heresies perpetrated by the Peratae is their “Tritheism”: “These allege that the world is one, triply divided. And of the triple division with them, one portion is a certain single originating principle, just as it were a huge fountain, which can be divided mentally into infinite segments.

Now the first segment, and that which, according to them, is (a segment) in preference (to others), is a triad, and it is called a Perfect Good, (and) a Paternal Magnitude.

And the second portion of the triad of these is, as it were, a certain infinite crowd of potentialities that are generated from themselves, (while) the third is formal. And the first, which is good, is unbegotten, and the second is a self-producing good, and the third is created…

As we can see by the above there is a fairly natural resonance between the idea of Chapter 1: Nuit being the principle of Unity and of space divided for the chance of union with the idea of an “unbegotten”, Chapter 2: Hadit, the principle of motion with that which is “self-produced,” the “self-begotten.” and Chapter 3: Ra-Hoor-Khuit corresponding to “the created.” The number three has been equated with the full course of manifestation in various religions throughout the world since the dawn of recorded history. Even the most superficial of surveys gives us the Christian interpretation of “Father, Son, Holy Ghost” and the Hindu rendering of Vishnu, Brahma and Shiva. I suggest that The Book of the Law, including the symbolism of the numeration of its chapters, follows a similar line of interpretation, and that the chapters 1 and 3 formulate two fundamentally different interpretations of manifestation. There is an antithesis posed between the attitudes that these two chapters convey, with the perspective given in the second chapter posing as a mediator between the two. This contrast is also evident in the way that the mediator itself is described or portrayed in the first and third chapters. Even Crowley claimed that at first he had trouble reconciling the descriptions portrayed by the first and the third chapters, but we feel that this is none-the-less an accurate portrayal of the full course of experience. Existence is a contradiction and light may only be known in the presence of shadow.

Thelema may be unity, but it is also ‘division for the chance of union.’ We can look at it from different perspectives, much like a photon is a particle or a wave depending on how we look at it. Yes, there’s a universal flow, and that force of motion is Thelema, in which all of us are caught up in unity. But there is also the will that is *uniquely* individual, eternal, sovereign, and distinct from any other will. )RIKB on the Greater Thelema Forum)

We suggest that a correspondence exists between Chapter 1 and The Hermit, Chapter 2 and The Lover, and Chapter 3 and the Man of Earth and will now investigate this consideration, but will do so in reverse.

It would seem natural enough to equate The Hermit and The Lover(s) to the Tarot trumps bearing those same names, and we are certainly not suggesting a divorce from this idea, but the use of the phrase “Man of Earth,” a term that finds no immediately similar corollary, encourages us to look a bit further, as does the singular “Lover” as opposed to “Lovers” which is the actual name of Atu VI. Therefore the term “The Hermit” is the only descriptive that finds an exact analogue in the Trumps of the Tarot.

Man of Earth:

The enumeration of the Three Grades, followed by the injunction Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law, means that no discrimination of “superiority’ or ‘inferiority’ is to b made between the Three Grades. It is a matter of the Will, and nothing else, that decides to which Grade a Thelemite is to belong. In a sense, the man of Earth’ is the adherent’, that is, he is loyal to Thelema, adheres to it. In another sense, he adheres to the material world. He is the husbandman, the house-holder, the man attached to temporal things. To despise such a man is stupid. He is a Karma Yogi by definition, and who are you to trace another star’s orbit. (Aleister Crowley’s comment on The Book of the Law)

I began my query by looking around at various significant usages of this term with the aim of establishing a stronger context for its presentation as one of the three grades this process of Thelemitism. The first thing I encountered was Flarmmarion in his work Sur la Pluralite des Mondes habites, a work quoted by Madame Blavatsky, where he says

It seems as if in the eyes of those authors who have written on this subject, the Earth were the type of the Universe, and the Man of Earth, the type of the inhabitants of the heavens. It is, on the contrary, much more probable, that, since the nature of other planets is essentially varied, and the surroundings and conditions of existence essentially different, while the forces which preside over the creation of beings and the substances which enter into their mutual constitution are essentially distinct, it would follow that our mode of existence cannot be regarded as in any way applicable to other globes. Those who have written on this subject have allowed themselves to be dominated by terrestrial ideas, and fell therefore into error.

Here he is evoking the idea of the purely ‘terrestrial vehicle,’ referring to the physical shell of incarnation. His descriptive is saying that it is more likely that other life forms would have evolved to deal with the environment in which they have their being, and our consideration of ‘aliens’ being bi-pedal etc may be fallacious. His comparison though is focused on the physical and the phrase “Man of Earth” is being used a descriptive for the physical form that was created by and must continually adapt to its environment.

Madame Blavatsky offers her own context for employing “man of earth” in her essay “Occultism Versus The Occult Arts” (Lucifer, May 1888) where she writes:

The “Higher Self” or Spirit is as unable to assimilate such feelings as water to get mixed with oil or unclean liquid tallow. It is thus the mind alone, the sole link and medium between the man of earth and the Higher Self — that is the only sufferer, and which is in the incessant danger of being dragged down by those passions that may be re-awakened at any moment, and perish in the abyss of matter. And how can it ever attune itself to the divine harmony of the highest Principle, when that harmony is destroyed by the mere presence, within the Sanctuary in preparation, of such animal passions? How can harmony prevail and conquer, when the soul is stained and distracted with the turmoil of passions and the terrestrial desires of the bodily senses, or even of the “Astral man”?

This passage reiterates the linking of three aspects into a unified state: the ‘man of earth,’ being the absolutely physical organism and its blind passions, cravings and fettered to its desires; the mind (which she calls the only sufferer, …that part which is caught between the grossest and the highest), and finally the Higher Self, which we may express as the ‘consciousness of the continuity of existence.

M. Blavatsky also wrote in her article, “Theories About Reincarnation And Spirits” (Nov. 20th 1886):

They in whom evil desire is entirely destroyed are called Arhats. Freedom from evil desire insures the possession of a miraculous power. At his death the Arhat is never reincarnated; he invariably attains nirvana–a word, by the by, falsely interpreted by the Christian scholar and skeptical commentators. Nirvana is the world of cause, in which all deceptive effects or delusions of our senses disappear. Nirvana is the highest attainable sphere. The pitris (the pre-Adamic spirits) are considered as reincarnated by the Buddhistic philosopher, though in a degree far superior to that of the man of earth. Do they not die in their turn? Do not their astral bodies suffer and rejoice, and feel the same curse of illusionary feelings as when embodied?

This passage intimates a progressive series of evolution throughout numerous incarnations, and chooses the term ‘man of earth’ to establish the state that these other temporal manifestations are superior to though they are also limited to effects of the process of manifestation.

In his Book of Lies Crowley compares the HIMOG (Holy Illuminated Man of God) to the INGLORIOUS man of earth:


A red rose absorbs all colours but red; red is therefore the one colour that it is not. This Law, Reason, Time, Space, all Limitation blinds us to the Truth. All that we know of Man, Nature, God, is just that which they are not; it is that which they throw off as repugnant. The HIMOG is only visible in so far as He is imperfect. Then are they all glorious who seem not to be glorious, as the HIMOG is All-glorious Within? It may be so. How then distinguish the inglorious and perfect HIMOG from the inglorious man of earth? Distinguish not! But thyself Ex-tinguish: HIMOG art thou, and HIMOG shalt thou be.

Comment: “…how are we to tell whether a Holy Illuminated Man of God is really so, since we can see nothing of him but his imperfections.” Book of Lies Chapter 40

We initially experience the daimonic as a blind push, driving us toward the assertion of ourselves as, say, in rage or sex. This blind push is original in two senses: first it is the original way the infant experiences the daimonic, but it is also the way the daimonic instantaneously strikes each of us regardless of how old we are. (May, p.159)

This brings us to the relation between the daimon and the special problem of modern Western man, namely, the tendency to get absorbed in the herd, lost in das Mann. ‘the daimonic is anonymity,’ states Paul Ricoeur. The impersonal daimonic makes us all anonymous—nature draws no distinction between me and any illiterate peasant who also is its tool in its relentless drive toward self-increase, who copulates and begets offspring to perpetuate the race, and who can experience rage to keep himself alive long enough to serve as nature’s procreator. Speaking psychoanalytically, this is the daimonic in the form of the id. (May, p.161)

One of the more poignant descriptions of the “man of earth” comes to us through Spencer’s story “The Fairy Queen” written at the height of the Elizabethan enlightenment. Speaking of this work, David Paul Clark writes in his essay “Reaping what was sown: Spenser, Chaucer, and The Plowman’s Tale”:

This type of character was new literary territory, and it is not surprising that Nohrnberg is unable to find a model for Redcrosse’s naïveté in classical and biblical models; Spenser, after all, was creating not an instant saint, but a rustic who developed to sainthood. As he said in his letter to Sir Walter Raleigh published with The Faerie Queene, his hero in Book One was to be a “tall clownishe young man” who “rested on the floore” at the Queen of Faerie’s palace, “unfitte through his rusticity for a better place” (Spenser 408).

This rustic figure, naturally, was the earthy plowman, a rustic “everyman” who was able to represent for Spenser the common sins of humankind and the path to true holiness through sacrifice and recognition of one’s own faults.

Spenser’s signaling of Redcrosse’s origins in I.x.66 is significant, then, because, to Elizabethans it indicated that the path to holiness was open to them; George/Redcrosse (or “Georgos,” which is Greek for “husbandman” or “ploughman”) was, as I pointed out earlier, quite literally a product of the soil of England, a rustic commoner, a “man of earth” (FQ I.x.52)

This finds sympathy with Crowley’s own commentary on The Book of the Law:

In a sense, the man of Earth’ is the adherent’, that is, he is loyal to Thelema, adheres to it. In another sense, he adheres to the material world. He is the husbandman, the house-holder, the man attached to temporal things… He is a Karma Yogi

As we have shown, if but briefly, The Book of the Law’s employment of the phrase “man of earth” wasn’t unique or unprecedented, and it is reasonable to assume that Crowley had run across this phrase in the course of his voracious reading habit. In fact, its use in The Book of the Law counts on the context, as a particular term in the magical-religio-philosophical idiom, to have meaning and to impart meaning to the other two terms used in its conjunction demarking the gradations of the Thelemic journey. Crowley’s poem “One Star In Sight” defines this condition framed by the “man of earth” thus:

Thy cringing carrion cowered and crawled
To find itself a chance-cast clod
Whose Pain was purposeless; appalled
That aimless accident thus trod
Its agony, that void skies sprawled On the vain sod!

This condition is echoed by the descriptions given in the Third Chapter of The Book of the Law. This chapter conveys images of death, war, dispersal, sacrifice, idolatry, blood, fire, swords, treachery, destruction, blasphemy …in short, the conditions that are everywhere manifest throughout the course of history. It is the world of men that is here described. It is a description of the base, vain chaotic, disheveled nature of the ‘man of earth.’ This chapter begins and ends, so to speak with the Word ‘Abrahadabra.’

III: 1 “Abrahadabra; the reward of Ra Hoor Khuit.

III: 75 “The ending of the words is the Word Abrahadabra”

And one would think, by this, that it would be the final word of the book itself, but it isn’t. The final two words of this book are: “Aum. Ha.” Ha formulates the beginning of the Book again with the opening word of the first chapter: “Had”, and this confirms the cyclic nature of manifestation, and compels a comparison between the three perspectives given in each of the three chapters with the tri-fold cosmology that recognizes manifestation as this ever changing process of Creation, Preservation and Destruction. The final “Ha” without the “d” (or the “dit”) also recalls to mind the first verse of the second chapter: “Nu, the hiding of Hadit.”

The Lover:

Human awareness and consciousness—that is, knowing—introduce unpredictable elements into our man. And man is the creature who obstreperously insists on knowing. The change of consciousness which this involves is both ‘outside’ and ‘inside,’ consisting of forces operating on the individual from the world and the attitude of the person who is attending to these forces. (Rollo May, Love and Will p.200-201 )

The Lover is a Bhakhti Yogi. He abandons temporal interests and dedicates his life to service of the Order. He will kill himself, if need be, that the Order may live. Such men organize Thelemic movements, thereby incurring the risk of persecution on the part of Old Aeon organizations and the ‘Black Lodge’—a better name for such organizations, and particularly for the ‘Black Lodge’, is ‘the die-hards.’ (Crowley’s Commentary on The Book of the Law)

In the Thelemic process then, we have started with the raw material, the common stock. The next step towards the extreme individuation implied by the term “The Hermit” is that of devotion, and it is this that doth a Thelemite make: a commitment to individuation… of learning who the very Self of the individual self is, and adapting life around this universal principle. The methodology for this process is “love under will.” This is what the Lover represents. It has been said enough to be considered worthy of emphasis: “Do what thou wilt does not mean do what you like”, although you should enjoy what you do. In order for there to be any real enjoyment and growth requires an attention to the development itself. This commitment to finding one’s true nature, and unfolding a process of self-discovery requires both freedom, (the external freedom to be able to explore one’s capacity), and “the strictest of all bonds”: which is itself “Devotion.”

This devotion can a take any number of forms but the commitment we are speaking manifests in both the inner and outer lives. As we free ourselves from our lot of superstition, prejudice, and hierarchical thinking, we begin to explore the inter-connectivity and relationships between all things …”the consciousness of the continuity of existence” expressed in Chapter 1 of The Book of the Law. This recognition is not a static ‘solution,’ but a dynamic process. We begin with the man of earth, with our desires, but throughout the process we find that these desires cannot be suppressed or sated. We are creatures of experience, and it is experience that we crave. We simply have to ‘know’, which may be one of the more interesting aspects of ‘desire.’ We can’t stop or settle for a moment, and so we take ‘the next step.’ This taking of the step represents a commitment, and it is from this action that ‘devotion’ grows.

Mind is a disease of semen. All that a man is or may be is hidden therein. Bodily functions are parts of the machine; silent unless in dis-ease. But mind, never at ease, creaketh “I”. This I persisteth not, posteth not through generations, changeth momently, finally is dead. Therefore is man only himself in The Charioting. (Crowley, Lies, Chapter 8 “Steeped Horsehair”)

This aspect of love, as a commitment to one’s aspiration is led by a thirst for knowing. “Knowing” is a means of delineating relationships between things, the more functional this delineation the more efficient the knowledge can be said to be. So we may only know ourselves through comprehending our relationships with others, the world around us, as well as our thought processes emotional predilections and bodily functions. Unity itself partakes of duality as is interpreted by the lines “I am divided for love’s sake for the chance of union.”

The Hermit:

In the 1970s, anthropologist Mary Douglas proposed a typological paradigm for comparing cultures and the sociological structures that supported them. This was originally called grid/group analysis, but is now more generally called “cultural theory”. Her model suggested that a person’s perceptions, beliefs and general values are shaped, regulated and controlled by constraints that may be described by one of five basic archetypes:

hierarchy, egalitarianism, fatalism, individualism and autonomy, typified respectively by the submitting caste member, the fundamentalist sectist, the ineffectual fatalist, the freedom-loving entrepreneur and the uninvolved hermit.

When looking over studies in cultural theory, one will consistently find that most only treat of the first four classes, as cultural theory defines the hermit with “non-participation.” The fact that, within this model, the hermit is equated with autonomy AND non-participation is significant in understanding the process of development we have been attempting to describe. The ‘man of earth’ and the ‘lover’ are both participating figures in the cultural model whereas the Hermit ‘giveth of his light only unto men.’

If one wants to stop our fellow men one must always be outside the circle that presses them. That way one can always direct the pressure. (Castaneda)

In the first part of his book, Journey to Ixtlan, Castaneda spends a considerable effort describing techniques for ‘battling self-importance’ which itself is but a necessary step for “stopping the world.” By this, he defines ‘the world’ as a description that is pounded into us from the time that we are born.

Everyone who comes into contact with a child is a teacher who incessantly describes the world to him, until the moment when the child is capable of perceiving the world as it is described. …we have no memory of that portentous moment, simply because none of us could possibly have had any point of reference to compare it to anything else. …The idea that the perceptual interpretations that make up the world have a flow is congruous with the fact that they run uninterruptedly and are rarely, if ever, open to question. In fact, the reality of the world we know is so taken for granted that the basic premise of sorcery, that our reality is merely one of many description, could hardly be taken as a serious proposition.

Castaneda then goes on to define ‘stopping the world’ as

an appropriate rendition of certain states of awareness in which the reality of everyday life is altered because the flow of interpretation, which ordinarily runs uninterruptedly, has been stopped by a set of circumstances alien to that flow.

As we can see, this idea is perfectly compatible with Crowley’s own comment in Magick Without Tears: “the Universe itself is not, and cannot be, anything but an arrangement of symbolic characters!” (Crowley, Tears, p. 40)

In order for the continual information that informs the descriptive that we call ‘the world’ to be ‘alien to that flow,’ it must come from a source beyond the narrative flow it seeks to disrupt. This source would be the Hermit, and hence the equation between non-participation and autonomy. The autonomy to direct the pressure of a circle of activity comes from being outside of that circle and NOT through participation within it, which constrains the participants to the qualities and limitations that define the circle of activity itself. In his novel Moonchild, Crowley’s character “Simon Iff” represents this quality and this type of active or intended non-action. Castaneda defines this quality of intended non-participation as “not-doing” and considers it to be a very formidable practice in the sorcerer’s world.

The hermit is a Gnani or Raja Yogi. He gives only of his light unto men. Those who understand what this means are either Hermits or on their way to becoming Hermits. Those who do not understand what it means are better off without further information. Should they seek it, however, let them study (Libri 156, 370 and 418.)

In the above passage Crowley gives us, not only a great deal of information as to the nature of the Hermit via the comparison to an established and measurable tradition of yoga, but into the nature of the unfolding process of the three graduations in the Thelemic process. We have already been given the correlation of the ‘man of earth’ to karmic yoga, the lover to bhakti yoga, and the Hermit to BOTH Jnana and Raja Yoga.

Raja Yoga, which is the Royal Path, represents the Summum Bonum of the three forms illustrated: Karma, Bhakti, and Jnana. It is interdisciplinary and Jnana would represent the final of three distinguishable disciplines that create the field of total of possible action. Jnana yoga focuses on the idea of “right action” and is built on an understanding of the laws of existence and the awareness of a means to synchronize with them.

Therefore we can postulate that the Hermit is the interdisciplinary factor as well as the final realization or graduation in the Thelemic process. It represents a natural and organic progression that begins with our dealing with the material issues of existence as well as our neurological relationship with ‘reality,.’ From this the aspiration is formulated as devotion or adherence to an unfolding natural, though individually unique, order of being and finalizes as a withdrawal from the field of direct interaction in favor of a contemplative non-action, which itself is the final definition of the periphery of a circle of action. If it is the final realization or unfoldment it is also present from the very beginning, presenting its form as Atu O (the Fool), The ‘man of earth’ is embraced in the ideas of the ‘The Fool’ ‘The Magician’, and ‘The Emperor’ while the Lover is represented by the Hierophant. All of these qualities are participatory.

In 2nd Chapter of The Book of the Law (v.16) it states: “I am the Empress & the Hierophant. Thus eleven, as my bride is eleven.” In my opinion, this gives an astounding analogue to what we have described in this essay. The Hierophant corresponds to the Lover …and hence the descriptive use of ‘my bride’.


In addition to being the word equivalent to “11”, eleven may also signify the balance of ‘god’ or the universal principle by being read “el-even”. This becomes even more significant when looking at the original manuscript of The Book of the Law.

The ‘e’ of the first use of the word ‘eleven’ is quite distinct, whereas in the second use of the word ‘eleven’ it actually appears to be an ‘a’ …in which case the passage would read “thus eleven as my bride is aleven.” There is no doubt that the two ‘E’s are distinctly different in shape. It also suggests the correspondence between the early ‘god signifiers’ ‘el’ and ‘al’. The word “even” means: “Equal or identical in degree, extent, or amount” and also: “Exactly divisible by 2” or “Characterized or indicated by a number exactly divisible by 2.” The Empress corresponds to the Hebrew letter “Daleth” which has a numerical value of 4 (or 2 X 2) and the Hierophant corresponds to the Hebrew letter “Vau” which has a numerical value of 6 (or 3 X 2.) The two added together produce 10 (which is 5 X 2 …the Hierophant is Atu V). Perhaps of a deeper significance is the “10” being composed of the “1” which is the phallus and the active principle and the “0” which is the womb and the potentiality.

In the 2nd Chapter it is the perspective of Hadit that is given, and based on this descriptive “the bride” would be Nuit. [II: 2: “I, Hadit, am the complement of Nu, my bride.”]

The mystic marriage of “motion” and “being” which brings about the universe or manifest consciousness, as well as the process and nature of the manifestation of that consciousness is the constant theme of The Book of the Law, and the three delineations of the Thelemite site three possible levels of participation in that manifestation, two which are active levels of participation and the third which is active ‘non-participation.’


Blavatsky, Helena, “Occultism Versus The Occult Arts,” Lucifer, May 1888.

___, “Theories About Reincarnation And Spirits,” 20 November 1886.

Castaneda, Carlos, Journey to Ixtlan.

Clark, David Paul. “Reaping what was sown: Spenser, Chaucer, and The Plowman’s Tale

Crowley, Aleister, The Book of Lies.

___, The Book of the Law.

___, The Confessions.

___, “One Star In Sight.”

Chaucer, Geoffrey, The Canterbury Tales.

Flarmmarion, Sur la Pluralite des Mondes habites.

Hawthorne, Nathaniel, “The Artist of The Beautiful.”

Lacarriere, Jacques, The Gnostics.

May, Rollo, Love and Will.

Quartermain, Alex, “King Solomon’s Mines,” 1886.

Rabelais, Gargantua and Pantagruel.


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