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Namesake & Mascot:

The Phenex is a legendary bird first appearing in Ancient Egypt. It was used to symbolize regeneration, rebirth, and the cycles of history. Every five hundred years the Phenex was said to burst into flames and be reborn from its ashes. Alchemists, Hermetics, and other Occultists adopted its mythology as their own and even referred to fellow initiates as Phoenixes, meaning they had experienced an allegorical rebirth.

Lamen and Seal of the Phenex Journal

Our spelling of Phenex differs from the more common spelling 'Phoenix' and is derived from the Goetia, an occult treatise containing the evocations of various daemons and spirits that were called forth by King Solomon to aid in the construction of his Temple.
The thirty seventh spirit is the Phenex, he is a great marquis and appeareth like the bird Phoenix, having the Voice of a Child. He singeth many sweet songs before the exorcist, which he must not regard, but by-and-by must bid him to take on a human shape. Then will he speak marvelously of all wonderful sciences if required. He is a Poet, good and excellent. And he will be willing to perform thy requests. He wishes to return to the Seventh Throne after 1200 years, as he said unto Solomon. He governeth twenty legions of Spirits. ~The Goetia, Lesser Key of Solomon the King

A Sigil that is worn during the evocation of the Phenex


July 21 2006 EV

History of the Western Esoteric Tradition

Poetry: Phenex Rising

4 18 19 25

Aleister Crowley: Agent of Evolution

Art: Wings of a Daemon

Editor/Graphics: Kevin Leon Thompson Assistant Editors: Katie McCarley Bron A. Rightmire For submissions, comments, or more information: Phenex Journal P.O. Box 2164 Crystal Beach, Tx 77650 -- ---------------------------------------------The Phenex Journal is published quarterly on the solstice and equinox by members of the IAO Lodge.
2006, All writings, art, and graphics are copyrighted by their attributed authors and may not be reproduced without consent.

Throughout history, various movements within western religion have chosen to explore the more arcane and underlining aspects within their philosophical and theological traditions. These various movements have become collectively know as the Western Esoteric Tradition. While many of these esoteric movements are very diverse in their practices and beliefs, there are common threads between them. The pursuit of Gnosis, or self-illumination, and the inherent capability of mankind to rise above his natural state are two of the most reoccurring themes. The Western Esoteric Tradition is sometimes referred to as an underground stream of knowledge, because its various movements have only appeared periodically, and usually as if from nowhere. When examining the history and development of this stream it is easy to get lost in the labyrinth like catacombs of secret societies, renegade sects, and esoteric myths. However, all of these have proven necessary for its continuation and advancement in the face of thousands of years of oppression from various religious authorities. Though the following is by no means a complete or precise history of the Western Esoteric Tradition, it does provide a basic overview as to where it may have originated from and how it has evolved.

A depiction from the Mysteries and Rites of Osiris, one of the many ancient ceremonial dramas studied by initiates of the Western Esoteric Tradition.

Ancient Egypt: The Foundation

The majority of the western esoteric movements trace their earliest origins and teachings back to the great mystery schools of Ancient Egypt, founded over four thousand years ago. These esoteric colleges served as gathering places for priests, philosophers, and astronomers alikebringing together the greatest minds from throughout the empire. It was from these first mystery schools that many of the holy books of Ancient Egypt emerged. Through their contributions to theology and Amen, the Egyptian philosophy, these Egyptian scholars forged God whose name is still invoked at the the foundations of our western religions and end of Jewish and cultures. We can find throughout both Judaic Christian prayer. and Christian scripture from the Torah to the New Testament- more than just hints of an Egyptian influence. The Ten Commandments, sections of the Book of Proverbs, the story of the resurrection of Christ, the Holy Trinity and countless other biblical tales and teachings are nearly identical to many early writings found in the Holy Books of Ancient Egypt.1 Ancient Egyptian influence on the origins of Judeo-Christianity constitutes a large study within the western esoteric tradition. One only begins to understand what Judeo-Christianity represents when one discovers its influences and predecessors. We find this Egyptian influence at the very foundations of Judaism, when over thirty-five hundred years ago, Moses, an Egyptian noble and priest, led an entourage of his religious followers into the Sinai peninsula. Here they encountered several Semitic (Hebrew) tribes living on the fringes of the Egyptian empire.2 Shortly thereafter, Moses set out to unite these tribes and his followers by blending the mysteries of their local God with those of his Egyptians. Tradition teaches that his work began to take shape with the reception of the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai. Historians have shown us however, that these are simply reinterpretations of the creed of the judged from the Egyptian Book of the Dead. Regardless of their origin, these commandments laid forth the foundations onto which the religion of Judaism would be constructed. 3 5

Essenes: A Mystical Judaism

In the second temple period (520BCE-70CE) Judaism was separated into three separate orders or sects: the Sadducees, Pharisees, and Essenes. The Sadducees were made up of the aristocratic families, the Pharisees constituted the peasant and lower classes, while outside of the mainstream classes and aristocracy laid the Essenes. These Essenes Fragment of the Habakkuk practiced a much older mystical form Scroll discovered at Qumran of Judaism and separated themselves from the other orders by retreating into the desert to establish communal societies of worship. Though the Essenes used many of the same holy books as the other Judaic sects, it was their interpretation that eventually led to their persecution and rejection from the religious authorities of the period. During the time of Maccabean and Roman rule over Israel, in the first and second century BCE, the Essenes and their leaders became subject to a constant persecution. It was during this persecution that the Teacher of Righteousness arose and prophecies of a coming war between the Sons of Light (the Essenes and their devotees) and the Sons of Darkness (Rome and the false Judaic preists). These prophecies would later partially hold true with the second Roman invasion by Titus Andronicus in 66CE, which shortly thereafter resulted in the destruction of the Second Temple. This invasion is the most likely reason as to why the Essenes buried their scrolls and holy books in the caves surrounding their community at Qumran, near the Dead Sea. With their lands in constant turmoil, the Essenes adopted a belief in dualism and the rejection of this world as malicious. The Essenic adepts were taught to rise above the material world of their physical self in pursuit of a direct metaphysical and personal experience with divinity. This became the predominant factor in all of the later Gnostic communities. Many of the authors of the Dead Sea Scrolls freely admit that their revelations and teachings came to them by means of this form of personal illumination. 6

Prior to the excavation of the Qumran caves and the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1945, little was known of the Essenes traditions, teachings, or way of life. We have learned a great deal and still have much more to learn about these pious priests. What can now be postulated with confidence is that the Teacher of Righteousness and the Essenic communities were in many ways direct predecessors to Christs teachings and the early Gnostic communities.

Gnosticism: Pursuit of the Hidden Christ

Many of the most illuminating religious scriptures of western religion are those that originated from the diverse sects of early Gnosticism. In 1945, whole collections of their writings were found buried in the desert outside of Gnostic God of Light Abraxas, the small town of Naj Hammadi, the central figure of Jungs Egypt. This collection became Seven Sermons to the Dead attributed to a wide-range of first to fifth century Christian, Judaic, and Hermetic groups though diverse in there beliefs were designated collectively as Gnostics, due to their pursuit of gnosis or divine knowledge. Rather than accepting God on faith alone, these mystics sought union with divinity thru mediation and ritual practice. A common attribute among many of there teachings was that the true God was not the creator of this world, rather the Gnostics saw the world as being created and controlled by a lesser God, or demiurge. Becoming as Christ or obtaining Gnosis was the way to set us free from this ruler. It is unfortunate that the discovery of the NHL was plagued with a bit of a disaster. Unearthed by two poor peasants, Muhammad and Khalifah Ali, who thought they had discovered gold or jewels, were disappointed to open one of the jars and realize they were wrappings of papyrus scrolls. Ali was soon murdered and his widow, believing the scrolls were worthless burnt several parts of them in the oven. Fortunately, neighbors and friends bartered and 7

purchased the remaining scrolls for practically nothing. Eventually they ended up landing in the hands of private dealers, the Egyptian Department of Antiquities, the Cairo Museum, and luckily, the Swiss psychologist Dr. Carl Jung, who in his youth had composed his own Gnostic Gospel entitled The Seven Sermons to the Dead.4 Jungs team quickly went to work translating his codex and it was published between 1956 and 1975. The codex was then sent to the Coptic Museum in Egypt, where today the entire NHL is conserved. A complete English translation of the Naj Hammadi was published in 1977 and with it, a rebirth of Gnostic philosophy began to take shape. With the discovery of the Naj Hammadi Library, the true origins and teachings of Christianity are becoming clearer. The message of Christ is no longer bound to simply the Canonical New Testament. In the NHL, we find many esoteric teachings that directly contradict those the church has repeatedly used in creating their own Dogma around Christs message, it is of no wonder why over the ages they have attempted to destroy these documents with such zeal. This rare find sheds valuable insight into those formative years of Christianity and have become an invaluable resource to both theology and philosophy alike. Dr. Carl Jung, who many consider the father of modern Gnosticism, made the assessment that Christianitys survival was dependent upon the acceptance of its lingering Gnostic shadow. Jung knew whole-heartedly that these early Gnostics possessed knowledge of the soul that far surpassed that of the current western man. He also believed he had found a link between modern man and the early Gnostics in the form of the proto-chemistry of Alchemy.5

Alchemy: An Occult Science

This mysterious science involved the transmutation of base metals into gold by the means of a magickal element known as the Lapis Philosophorum or Philosophers Stone. Though alchemy did not simply involve the worldly science of gold making, it was also an undertaking in the pursuit of divinity. Alchemists merged their experiments with ancient Hermetic6 rituals and meditations as a means of blessing and focusing their will into the experiment. For 8

these reasons, it became known as the Great Work; just as the lesser metals in which they worked with would become transformed into gold, they too would become transformed into something more rare and valuable, the divine man. Alchemy was originally founded in ancient Egypt, and was undertaken throughout the Dark and Middle Ages but the science wouldnt reach its peak in popularity until the late fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. It was during this period that countless alchemists came to achieve both fame and fortune etching their names into the history of Europe. The fifteenth century French alchemist Nicholas Flamel amassed a considerably great wealth, funding dozens of churches and hospitals. The Four Elements & the Another Frenchman, Jacques Coeur, Three Alchemical Principals allegedly used his alchemical fortune to rescue the nation from bankruptcy following the hundred years war. Even the founder of modern science, Isaac Newton, was so enwrapped in Alchemy that he filled his personal library with hundreds of treatises on the subject. His famous parable whatever goes up, must come down can easily be interpreted as the ancient alchemical-hermetic principle of As Above, So Below. Dr. Carl Jungs studies in alchemy led him to the realization that its many esoteric symbols and allegorical artworks were projections of the unconscious mind unto matter. Jung concluded that alchemy was not simply the transmutation of base metals into gold; it also involved a spiritual transcendence of man. Modern Spiritual Alchemists have learned the lessons of Dr. Jung. Having all but abandoned the transmutation of metals, neoalchemists have mainly focused their will strictly upon transcendence. However, the search for the Philosophers Stone has not ended. The recent scientific research involving monatomic metals has caused several theorists to reevaluate certain possibilities of material alchemy.7

Qabalah: Bridge of the West

In the early middle ages, Jewish mystics known as Qabalists began establishing themselves throughout Europe. These Qabalists formed various educational orders and academies to promote and teach their unique system of mysticism. The oldest writings regarding what we know of as the Qabalah are found in the Sepher Yetzirah, or Book of Formations. Hebrew scholars have dated the origins of this text to around the first or second century, Tree of Life Diagram. though none of the original manuscripts have been discovered. Various esoteric historians have stated these Qabalistic teachings originally stem from an earlier Judaic esoteric practice called the Merkavah or path of the seven chariots, which seems likely to have been practiced in many of the Essenic and Gnostic communities. It appears that sometime before the first century these Merkavists began blending their own Judaic philosophy with teachings similar to those of early Greek Pythagoreans to create the first forms of the Qabalah. The Qabalah to this day remains one of the most complete systems of esoteric education. The Qabalistic method constitutes a meditative and philosophical path to the divine knowledge of God by ascending what is called 'The Tree of Life'. In the text the Sepher Yetzirah, the creation of the earth from the heavens is described by means of ten numerical emanations. These ten emanations are arranged onto the Tree as sephiroths or mandalas, which are connected by twenty-two branches, each representing a letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Both the sephiroth and branches are ascribed certain philosophical and theological attributes. It is through the reflection of these attributes unto one another that the Qabalist gradually ascends the Tree, thus attaining a further knowledge and understanding of divinity. Throughout history Hermetics, Alchemists, Gnostics, and Esoteric Christians have all adopted the teachings of the Qabalah and greatly expanded on the tradition. This long-standing esoteric 10

system now serves as a bridge between the religions of the west, as we have seen practitioners from many different theologies and philosophies all contribute to both its preservation and advancement.

The Cathars: Albigensian Crusade

In the eleventh century, the old Gnostic tradition began raising its head throughout the southern France region of Langudeoc as a movement known as Catharism began gaining significant ground against the Catholic Church there. The Cathars were preaching a reformation of The Cathars mountaintop Christianity over four hundred years stronghold of Montsegur. before the Protestants; unfortunately, Cathar reform would meet a disastrous end. At the time, the Languadoc region of France was considered a separate principality from the French throne and many nobles in the region were working to form a new kingdom. While the French throne was loyal to Catholicism, these nobles found it fitting to ally themselves with their regional religion of Catharism. The Vatican viewed Catharism as a form of heresy due to its close similarity to the early sects of Gnosticism and in 1218, with support from the French thrown, the church instigated what became known as the Albigensian crusade, named after the Langudeoc stronghold of Albigenes. Thirty thousand crusaders swept through the hills, valleys, and mountains for the next twenty years slaughtering hundreds of thousands of fellow Christians. The Cathars and allied nobles resisted to the end when, in 1246, their final major stronghold, the mountaintop castle of Montsegur, fell to the invading armies after ten months of siege. Rather than renounce their so-called heresy, over two hundred Cathars willingly chose martyrdom and surrendered themselves to the crusaders. They were all burnt alive. Interestingly, the Languedoc region of France was also home to many members of the Knights Templar, the order of famed warrior monks who fought in the crusades for the holy land but refused to 11

take part in the Albigenisan Crusade. Several groups of Templars even denounced it as false and unholy and hundreds of Templar knights secretly fought alongside the Cathars, which likely helped fuel the later tensions between the Vatican and the Order. Within seventy years the Inquisition would be formed to destroy the Knights Templar, they would face the same charges as the Cathars, practitioners of heresy.

Knights Templars: Guardians of the Temple

The Knights Templar, officially called the Poor Knights of Christ and the Temple of Solomon, were the guardians of the Temple mount following the first crusade in 1099. Officially established in 1118 by Lord Bullion, the knightly order becomes heirs to much of the knowledge, secrets, and relics of the western tradition. It has been

suggested rather convincingly by historians that the order, while excavating the catacombs deep beneath the ruins of the Temple of Solomon, discovered various items, including holy relics, much of the lost treasures of King Solomon, esoteric scriptures predating the destruction of the Second Temple, and possibly even genealogies showing a continuation of the Davidic bloodline. Most, if not all, of these items had been concealed in these underground chambers prior to both the earlier Babylonian and later Roman invasions. After the fall of Jerusalem in 1166 to the Saracens, the knights continued in prosperity throughout Europe becoming one of the most powerful organizations the world had yet seen. Commissioning dozens of Chapels, Cathedrals, and Hospitals, they were given the highest respect by both the nobles of Europe and the Vatican for nearly two centuries. In spite of this on Friday the 13th, 1307, the order nearly saw its death when many of its members including the Grand Master, Jacques Demolay, became some of the first to feel the fury of the hands of the Inquisition. The King of France, Phillip IV, who was extremely jealous of the Templars influence and wealth, conspired with Pope Clement V, 12

Seal of the Knights Templar depicting two knights riding together into battle.

who issued a commandment that the order be arrested on charges of heresy; hundreds of knights would be tortured and executed. By 1314, the order in full retreat from the Inquisition, found a safe haven in Robert the Bruces Scotland, Bruce had just previously been excommunicated and welcomed their support. There they played an important role in the Bruces victory of the Battle of Bannockburn which herald Scottish Independence from the English throne. With the order still unable to raise its head into the open because of an ever-heightening Inquisition, they eventually separated into different knighthoods and began forming secret societies. Several of these societies continue to stretch their influence and teachings into the modern era, of these the Rosicrucians and Freemasons have remained the most notable.

Esoteric Societies: Rosicrucians and Freemasonry

In 1614 the first of three manifestos were issued to the academics of the European world. These books were an allegorical tale of a mythical Gnostic philosopher by the name of Christian Rosenkreutz. The documents emerged from an esoteric society known as the Rosicrucians that legend indicates was founded in the late fourteenth century. The actual author of the first and second manifestos has remained a mystery. It has been postulated to be a number of individuals, including the writer Francis Bacon and the occultist John Dee, though both of these seem unlikely candidates. The third of these manifestos, The Chymical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz was published in 1616; historians attribute this work The Rosy Cross, symbol of to the German Theologian, John the Rosicrucian Order Valentine Adrea, who admitted he had composed it. In the years following these publications, Rosicrucian thought began taking a center stage throughout Europe and came to play a crucial hand in the reformation. In 1717, groups of self-styled 13

Freemasons, somewhat involved with Rosicrucianism (many of whose predecessors may have been responsible for the great cathedrals adorning the old Europe skyline), united several of their lodges under a Grand Lodge in London. The Freemasons quickly spread their influence and began operating throughout the rest of Europe and in the Americas as well. In todays higher Freemasonry, much of the symbolism of its historical origins can be found in the degrees of Knights of the Rose Cross and Knights Templar.8 Rosicrucianism and Freemasonry since their conception were devised as systems of service and education based around the philosophy of their forefathers- the Knights Templar. However several of the current orders, rites, and lodges have since lost the secrets to the knowledge they were supposed to maintain by falling victim to greed, pride, and an ignorance of their historical identities. Many groups do still hold the keys to the wisdom of the Templars and the old saying fits, Dont throw away the whole batch because of a few bad apples. In the last four hundred years it has been the Rosicrucians and Freemasons who have helped maintain the underground stream and in doing so have done a great deal to advance the Western Esoteric Tradition.

The Golden Dawn: Modern Occultists

In the late nineteenth century, it was the mythical allure of London, England, that became the major meeting place for esotericists and occultists. Here an order of Rosicrucian Qabalists known as the Seal of the Hermetic Order of Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, the Golden Dawn though short lived became one of the most important contributors in history to the Western Esoteric Tradition. Founded by Masonic and Rosicrucian adepts William Westcott and Macgregor Mathers, the Hermetic Golden Dawn came to attract many of the most famous names of the period. Including the writers William Butler Yeats, Bram Stoker, Arthur Edward Waite, and the often-misunderstood Aleister Crowley. 14

The Golden Dawn would forever be etched into the history of esotericism after a one time student and secretary of Crowleys, Dr. Israel Regardie, published the complete rites and teachings of the lower and middle grades of the order after the demise of its last original branch in the 1930s. Though deeply criticized at the time for doing this, Dr. Regardie viewed it as necessary since many of the hidden teachings of the western tradition were in danger of becoming lost forever. This eight-volume set of the writings of the Golden Dawn and Israel Regardies several companion works make up a complete system of western esoteric philosophy. Today over one hundred years after the founding of the G.D., most of the modern Hermetic orders and many Rosicrucian societies continue to use these publications as a basis for their outer teachings. Regardies work has proven itself as one of the primary reasons as to why modern occultism is reaching such a level of popularity and acceptance.

The Esoteric Reformation

With the recent overwhelming success of books and films like the DaVinci Code, National Treasure, and the neo-Gnostic myth The Matrix Trilogy, we find a younger generation is being introduced to many of the arcane traditions and ideas of the west. We are witnessing the emergence of an esoteric subculture unlike any before it; this is quickly becoming one of the more profound philosophical movements of our era. In our modern age, one realizes that knowledge, will, and tolerance are becoming our highest virtues, faith still exists but as a faith in humanity and ourselves, not in divine judgment. A religion of this age must be models of these virtues and this way of thinking. The esoteric traditions have always upheld this philosophy and are now finding a comfortable place in time. New institutes, colleges, and orders dedicated to the continuation and preservation of this age-old wisdom have raised their heads in spite of ongoing church efforts to denounce and destroy them. It is truer today than in 150CE when Catholic Bishop Iraneus9 wrote in regards to the Gnostics, They sprout like mushrooms and fight like hydras.


1. There is also a considerable amount of influence of Babylonian mythology in the Old Testament, the most basic examples of this are the legends of The Garden of Eden, the Great Flood of Noah, and the Tower of Babel. However, in their original form each of these myths are slightly different than their biblical counterparts. It is likely that when the Judaic people were enslaved in Babylon during the fifth and six centuries B.C. that they begin interpreting these legends into their own mythology. When they were freed from Babylon they brought their new myths with them. 2. There is absolutely no archaeological evidence proving that the Egyptians had ever enslaved the Hebrew people, as the bible states. These stories were likely brought into their mythology following their enslavement by the Babylonians around the fifth and six century B.C. See first note. 3. In Chapter 125 of the Egyptian Book of the Dead there is a recitation of an ancient Egyptian moral code which is near identical to several of the of the Ten Commandments from the Book of Exodus. This is just one of many examples of Egyptian influence in Judeo-Christian scripture. Book of Exodus Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain. Thou shalt not kill. Thou shalt not steal. Thou shalt not commit adultery. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbors wife. Ch. 125 Book of the Dead I have not reviled God. I have not cursed God. I have not slain man or woman. I have not stolen. I have not adultered. I have not violated any mans wife.

4.-The Seven Sermons to the Dead by Dr. Carl Jung was composed in 1916 in one of the oddest incidents of the famed psychologists career. The work is allegedly a channeling by Dr. Jung of the second century Gnostic philosopher Basildes of Alexandria. In the Seven Sermons, Jung as Basildes explains the true nature of the Gnostic God of Light Abraxas to a host of spirits questioning the reality of god. 5. The name Alchemy derives from the Arabic term Al-Khemi, which occultist Aleister Crowley stated means, that which pertains to Egypt. Tradition tells us that Alchemy did derive from Egypt and was one of the many sciences founded by Thoth or Hermes. See next footnote. 6. Hermeticism is a pre-christian Gnostic philosophy originating in GraecoEgypt, founded on the teachings of one Hermes Trismegistus, a mythological prophet and scribe of the gods. Hermes was identified as Trismegistus meaning Thrice-Great for being a master of all arts, sciences, and crafts. The Hermeticts also viewed the Roman god Mercury and the Egyptian God Thoth as different manifestations of Hermes. During and just prior to the Renaissance, intellects, artists, and alchemists, each studied the concepts of Hermeticism, and Hermes


Trismegistus became accepted as one of the three great religious teachers in history that predated Christ; Moses and Zoraster being the other two. 7.-Esoteric author Laurence Gardner in his book Lost Secrets of the Sacred Ark writes extensively over the subject of Alchemy and the Philosophers Stone in relationship to the scientific research involving monatomic metals. Anyone interested in the possibilities of material Alchemy may find the research and experiments discussed in this book of great value. 8. Freemasonry is devised of several different rites each operating on its own structure of degrees and forms of esoteric education. In the thirty-two degree structure of the Scottish Rite an eighteenth degree initiate is known as a Knight of the Rose Cross, the ninth and highest degree of the York Rite is a Knight Templar. 9. Bishop Iraneus was a propagandist of the Catholic Church in the second century and spent much of his life rooting out and investigating the Gnostic Heresies. He composed five books criticizing the Gnostics, explaining why they are heretics, and the reasons they are damned. Not surprisingly, these books showed a distorted view of many of the early Gnostic movements and it is rather unfortunate that with so few first hand accounts historians have had to rely on works like Iraneus.

Jonas, Hans. The Gnostic Religion. Boston, Massachutes, 1958. Hoeller, Stephen. Jung and the Lost Gospels Insights into the Dead Sea Scrolls and Naj Hammdi Texts. Wheaton, Illoinis, 1989. Murphy, Tim Wallace and Hopkins, Marilyn. Rosslyn: Guardians of the Holy Grail. Boston, Massachutes, 1990. Regardie Israel. The Golden Dawn 6th Edition. St. Paul, Minnesota, 1989. Robinson, John. The Naj Hammadi Library 3rd Edition. New York, New York, 1990. Smoley, Richard and Kinney, Jay. Hidden Wisom: A Guide to the Western Inner Traditions. New York, New York, 1999. Yates, Francis. The Occult Philosophy. London, England, 1979


I was burnt as a martyr And knowledge was my sin But Im rising from the ashes To renew myself again And Im seeking to avenge The dead Basildean I cast my seed into the desert A millennia ago And now a tree of knowledge Has just begun to grow Watered underground By a stream that always flows Though blocked by many dams It has never seemed to slow Now the tree has taken root And Im perched atop its peek Guarding it from hylics And those who are too weak To understand and know Exactly where to seek To taste forbidden fruit Each day of every week


It is often that those whom stand in opposition to social norms become the scapegoats of society. It never fails that the freethinker is branded as a heretic. During the nineteen twenties and thirties while a young Adolf Hitler began to plot and scheme- post Victorian England had its finger pointing not at the future Fuehrer, but a young poet and literary by the name of Aleister Crowley. Aleister had made it his lifes mission to fuck with both the Christian authorities and their social values through his own means, occultism. There have been numerous biographies written over Aleister and a short essay like this will not be able to give the mans story the justice that it deserves. I will simply try to provide a basic assessment of the mans life and his evolution. For those who are more interested I suggest the books Perdurabo, by Richard Kazyinski or Crowleys own Autobiography Confessions. A.C., as he is often referred to, was born as Alexander Edward Crowley on October 12, 1875, just six months after the death of famed occultist Eliphas Levi. Aleister would later stake a claim that he was the reincarnation of Levi. During his youth and until his fathers death in 1887, Aleister lived exclusively amongst the Plymouth Brethren, a sect of fundamentalist Christians. He was often such a delinquent to their strict doctrines that his mother referred to him as The Great Beast. A title that would come to mean a great deal to Aleister, who during his later life would style himself under the pen Aleister Crowleys name To Mega Therion, Greek for the Great Mark of the Beast Wild Beast. During his teenage years A.C. bounced between numerous tutors and boarding schools, he excelled in chess and became a devout lover of all kinds of outdoor activities. At twenty he entered Trinity College at Cambridge as a literary student, hoping to one day either become a poet or chess master. Here at Cambridge, he was introduced to mountain climbing and the study of occultism, two different subjects he met head on. However, Crowley eventually abandons mountain climbing, his chess aspirations, and even 19

Cambridge to dedicate himself more exclusively to what he felt was his true calling in life, Occult Studies. In 1898, A.C. was initiated into the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn under the sponsorship of an adept named George Cecil Jones, who Aleister remained a loyal friend to for many years. The Golden Dawn, which is one of the more famous occult societies of history, included amongst its membership, Bram Stoker, William Butler Yeats, and the actress Annie Horniman. A.C. established a friendship and became the student of one of the Golden Dawns principle founders, Samual Macgregor Mathers. He quickly advanced though the Golden Dawn grade work and the 16th of January 1900, was granted admission into the even more pristine inner order of the G.D., called the Red Rose and Golden Cross. By this time, the Golden Dawn was in turmoil and schism. The Hermetic Rose Cross, worn by initiates of the G.D. Mathers, attempting to hold the order together under his leadership sent Aleister as an envoy to the London lodge, where he wasnt received warmly. Feeling betrayed by Mathers for using him as a pawn, Aleister left the Golden Dawn and began travels to Mexico, Japan, and China in 1901. While in China he began a pursuit into Oriental studies under the tutelage of another fellow G.D. initiate, Alan Bennet. In October of 1901, Aleister attained the rare yogic meditative state of Dharaya and having succeeded in his original intentions withdrew himself from his Yogic studies at this time. The following year he set off on an expedition to climb Chogo Ri (K2) in the Himalayas, where he surprisingly set both an ascension and time record on the mountain. He wouldnt return home to Scotland until spring of 1903. In 1904, Aliester married his first wife Edith Rose Kelly, the sister of the famous philosopher Gerald Kelly. It was upon their honeymoon in Cairo, Egypt, that Aleister, who had only on rare occasions performed magick in the last four years decided on the 20

spur of the moment to attempt showing Rose the sylphs or air sprits. He used his favorite invocation for the operation, the Bornless Ritual of the Augoeides or Higher Genius. While briefly visiting Egypt the previous autumn he had used the same invocation to fill the Kings Chamber at Khufu with astral light. Well Rose didnt see the Sylphs as intended or any astral light but did fall into a deep trance and kept repeating, All Osiris. Its about the Child. Theyre Waiting. This original channeled message from Rose led to a series of events in Cairo that would forever change Crowleys outlook and mission in life. Rose commanded Crowley to enter the make-shift Temple in their Cairo flat on three consecutive days at noon. During each of these days April 8th, 9th, and 10th, Crowley received a dictatation from what he described as a Praeter-Human Intelligence named Aiwass. Aiwass communicated to Crowley one chapter each day of a text that became called the Book of the Law. The books basic claim was that the Aeon of Osiris, that of the Dying God, which represented the previous two-thousand years of human history was no more. A New Aeon was upon us, the Age of the Crowned and Conquering child, Horus. The book also proclaimed the establishment of a simple set of religious and philosophical commandments that would govern the next two thousand years, called the Law of Thelema. Thelema, which is Greek for will, stood in opposition to the law of Christianity, which was based on faith. The Law of Thelema is summed up in the Book of the Law in three verses: Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law, There is no law Beyond do what thou wilt, and Love is the law, love under will. These three commandments suggested that the means of illumination lies in discovering ones true will, and that the individual who discovers this fills their life with love. Unfortunately this code of conduct has been constantly misinterpreted as Do what you want. It needs to be stated here that Will and Wants seldom coincide with one another. Aleister at first rejected the Book of the Law and upon returning to Scotland stored it away in the attic of his house on Lockness Lake. For the next five years Crowley continued enflaming himself in the studies in Occultism, Yoga, and comparative religion. In 1909, Aleister recovered the book from his attic and upon reading 21

it felt stunned and embarrassed that he had denied its message for so long. He came to the realization that this was the testament of his true will, to develop the religion of the New Aeon. By this time he had also attained initiation from his original Golden Dawn sponsor into the highest order of the occult tradition, the A:.A:. Admission into the A:.A:. gave Crowley the permission to establish his own lineage of the outer Golden Dawn and Red Rose and Golden Cross orders. He immediately went to work rewriting the orders teachings and bringing them into alignment with the Book of the Law. The primary reading curriculum for these new orders were published in the form of a bi-yearly Official Seal of the A:.A:. journal called, The Equinox. The Fraternity of the Silver Star first ten-issue volume of this journal has now become one of the most educational, grounded, and beloved studies of Occult Science to date. The next twenty eight years of Crowleys life was spent further formulating, establishing, and promoting Thelema and his form of Occult Science, or as he termed it, Scientific Illuminism. He would do this not only through the A:.A:. but also via another organization, the Ordo Templi Orientis. In 1912, Theodur Reuss the Grandmaster of the O.T.O. and the Memphis-Misraim Rite of Freemasonry approached Aleister. Reuss, claimed that Aleister had published the secrets of the O.T.O. in one of his publications called the Book of Lies. Crowley at the time being only an outer initiate of the O.T.O. and not having ever been revealed the O.T.O.s secrets was sort of dumbfounded as to what the hell Reuss was talking about. Theodor then pointed out to Crowley several specific verses from his Book of Lies. Crowley later recalled how at that moment the hidden secrets of the worlds spiritual traditions dawned on him. It was the ideas of sex magick, or tantra, that was the universal symbolism in all the religions. Crowley accepted further initiations into the O.T.O. and took the magickal name Baphomet. He was admitted as an outer head of the order and given the responsibility of governing all O.T.O. initiates 22

in the English-speaking world. In 1922, when Reuss suffered a stroke and could longer fulfill his duties and responsibilities to the order, Aleister was proclaimed the Grandmaster of the O.T.O. by a council of its high ranking initiates. With the O.T.O. and A:.A:. allied under him and each promulgating the ideas of Thelema, Crowley had begun to etch his New Aeon philosophy into immortality. He would continue to further his ideas and theories, writing endlessly until his death in 1947. By his late life Aleister had bankrupted himself trying to get his various books published and spent the last ten years of his life living in a moderate poverty. However, this did not diminish his creative drive. His last great work was a cooperative effort with one of his students Frieda Harris on a new set of Tarot Cards, these were to be the most abundant in occult symbolism yet. The set was finished just months before his death and contain various forms of cubist artwork, which at times borderlines on psychedelic. They were decades ahead of their time and in many occultists opinion are Crowleys greatest masterpiece. Occult works have hardly ever been on best-seller lists, especially in the early twentieth century. But selling books and making money wasnt Crowleys gig. At times Crowley didnt even have enough money to purchase copies of his own books. If it were not for the abundant interest in Occultism today it would be easy to just brush Crowley aside as a footnote in history. However, since his death his books have sold hundreds of thousands of copies and his philosophical/religious system of Thelema is estimated as having nearly quarter million adherents worldwide. In fact much of the new age movement is simply an offshoot of Thelema. Gerald Gardner, the founder of Wicca, which is by far the largest New Age movement, may have even hired Crowley to compose part of his Book of Shadows. Gardner was a lower initiate of the O.T.O. and it is known that obtained from Crowley an O.T.O. lodge charter that was never used. Ron L. Hubbard the founder of Scientology admitted he was inspired by Crowley, and was even a short-time colleague of Aleisters student, Jack Parsons, the rocket scientist and founder of Jet Propulsion Labs. Even Timothy Leary, the Harvard Psychologist and leader of the sixties psychedelic revolution so admired Crowley that he named him as one of the twentieth-centuries Agents of Evolution. 23

Throughout his life, and even after death Aleister was called many things including a heretic, drug-addict, charlatan, and megalomaniac. At one time English tabloids even penned him as the Wickedest Man in the World. However, those who have shown so much disrespect to the man have rarely read any of his works. I tend to agree with what Leary said about him, he was an Agent of Evolution, and should be remembered and even admired as such.

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law Love is the law, love under will There is no law beyond Do what thou wilt! ~Liber Al Vel Legis

The above image is one of the better known of Crowley, having been reproduced in various biographies. If the image is copyrighted, please contact us, we are willing to remove it upon request.


For I am knowledge and ignorance I am shame and boldness I am shameless yet ashamed I am strength and I am fear I am war and I am peace Give heed to me For I am the one who is disgraced and the great one. ~The Thunder: Perfect Mind
3rd Century Gnostic text