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This is an analysis and presentation of aspects of Liber XV, The Gnostic Mass, penned by Aleister Crowley while in Russia. There are some aspects which resume parts of the Russian Orthodox Mass form, notably here, the 3 ½ circles about the altars. This piece is centered on the symbology of the serpent and its representations, overt and covert, within the portion of the Mass it covers, which is from the beginning up to the seating of the Priestess upon the summit of the earth. I have been ordained as a Deacon and a Priest in Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica and have studied obsessively for decades this rite and matters cognate. I am not, however, a Bishop in EGC and certainly not Primate, so these things are not represented to constitute official doctrine or direction, no matter how firmly I believe in or, as a result of that, how firmly I may put any interpretation or premise. A note upon the set-up of the temple is in order. The layout represents many things and relates to several diagrammatic schemes. I have been sharply corrected that the temple is not laid out like the Tree of Life but vehemently disagree with a caveat. It is certainly there but is not the only layout that is there. Seeing it as a tree of life must not blind one to the other sacred geometry aspects, the alchemical symbologies, etc. that are just as much there. There are both horizontal and vertical layers of meaning in the physical layout of the temple. The area before and including the three steps of the dais, which might be seen as the Abyss, is also a fold in space which gives a mirroring between the horizontal and vertical, and, like a mirror, reverses the things seen in it. The horizontal is the floor layout while the vertical is the stacking of High Altar and super alters. I see a Tetragrammaton, YHVH, in the lower tree aspect (horizontal) and the arrangement of elements vertically with the High Altar and Superaltars.
Priest/lance. and. YHVH again. respectively. Tiamat was represented by the word Tehom in the Genesis record. which gives HVHY observing the items from top down. a serpent. She also has the Sword and the Cup is already upon the High Altar. Serpentine The Priestess enters the temple carrying the paten and hosts. the returning of the dead knight carried upon his shield. I see this here as well as an older mythos. by Ea/Yah. from bottom to top. AL above. the Welsh Parcival. insinuated in the very layout of the temple. and tomb as YHVH.2 From a suspended view above the tomb. who saw his cousins head . The Abyss is the space cut into Tiamat. is imbedded deep in the mysteries and finds expression in several points of this rite. as Crowley was quite into it. With the host (life of the sun) front. grain on the platter (as in Eleusinian Mysteries). The Sword and Lance/Wand resume their ancient attributions as opposed to the current gloss/blind/ incorrect-according-to-me interpretations. Perdurabo. The Host is seed. The tale of Culhwch and Olwen from the Mabinogion is also of great use in understanding much. one can see the fire altar. the great serpent. even deriving his name. which I also see as the space whose midst is the base of the three step dais. Only the Lance is yet to enter and it is the only weapon the Priest brings through the Tomb. and top of the Stele sporting Nuit. There is thusly. Many have seen the old woodcuts and like representations of YHVH and reflection forming the sacred hexagram. there is. font. There are things in the carrying in of the Paten and Hosts which indicate her attainment. in connection with Peredur. the Head of John the Baptist on a Grail. This is reflected and flipped upside down upon the High Altar. Cup behind. The attribution of the Sword to fire and its iron to Geburah/Mars. There was a separation between the waters above and the waters below. as well.
In this dance. The caduceus was representative of the axis of the earth and resulting revolutions of the sun and belonged to Apollo. although he then made a gift of it to Mercury/ Hermes (who responded by gifting his lyre in exchange). It is the red and black dragons fighting over the pearl of immortality. This again recalls Jeheshuah and John (Iona) as they were cousins. . It can also be noted here that the children bear the four elements and the Priestess bears the hosts. its tracing about the line of the middle pillar implies the serpents of the caduceus. life. It is noted that. the five elements. is placed on the High Altar for the dance but she carries its energy and represents it in her serpentine dance.3 on the Grail and came to be required to avenge his death. While 8 is the number of Hermes (and Hod). it is preferred that last rites be given by a Priestess. This glyph is a form of serpentine sacred marriage symbology mirroring the vesica producing circle entwining version which resembles. Secondly. with the Priestess between them on the path of Lust/ Babalon. The Priestess is accompanied by the two children and they assume an orientation that implies the Sephira. Chesed and Geburah. she traces symbols of ancient import: First there is the figure 8 which is an infinity symbol but invokes Mercury s energies of wielding the solar powers and actions of Apollo. the figure 8/ infinity. This fifth element. the alchemical Mercury. thus representing Pentagrammaton. which she begins from here. The Priestess here represents an agent of death as well as psychopomp (one who leads the dead soul through the underworld). the Yin-Yang is danced with the fire altar and font being the counterpoints of the figure. This path is attributed to the letter Teth and the serpent power. in its turn. in EGC. the spirit in the midst. Here are foreshadowed Mercury s wings and the rising of coiled splendor.
btw. than Hekate standing there. I say unto thee arise. as in her well known statues. going into heat to attract the generative powers of the male with blood scents. Who more fitting to see. Ancient mythos attributed serpent s skin shedding to the periodic blood sloughing of woman. By the power of iron. and being purified and sanctified by the elements of the children. on the path of The Universe. Yesod and Malkuth. which resembles a house. A mere moment s perusal of this card in the Thoth deck shows the path of this dance. Its red glow from the fire not only insinuates blood but this is added to by the same iron smell as is provided by the blood s iron. as all heavier are unstable and decay into the 93) Most species mate in certain season. the above symbols have another attribution set! The aspects and meanings of this will be expanded below as becomes relevant. the serpent. and lies on the approach of the deosil approach of the celebrant towards communicating with host and Grail. Trump XXI. The Priestess now stands before the Priest and Tomb flanked. for him. by two. upon showing signs he has attained the IIIrd* (with its relation to death). This places the energies of the Temple at large into the space between Geburah and Binah. Having now formed the three and one half coils of the kundalini serpent at the base of the spine.4 Thirdly. The smelting of iron and its heating to be beaten into shape relate it to fire. The Priest coming towards the Priestess via the Tomb. like Hekate. so here is another serpentine aspect. (There are 93 earthly elements. the Chariot which bears the Grail. we see. . this serpentine dance culminates with the Priestess between the Font and the Tomb. one on either side. but suffice it to note here that the Trump number 8 is Cheth and relates to Cancer whose symbol is cognate to the Yin-Yang. and the Priestess. is not him resurrecting at that point but his beginning the underworld journey and the rites varied secret magickal orders are much instituted to allow us to accomplish upon death. Here is also blood as sacred to Hekate. The Tomb is seen on the card as the early form of the periodic table.
the typical performances I have seen have the Priestess give the N Child the font bowl. This configuration is done with the Paten over the Cup. later by the five crosses the priest makes in the 3-1-1 configuration. The mixture in the font is left there and the child is given the ewer with water still in it to carry as before. in the center of the triangle is made.5 flanked by the two children and having a sword at her left and the Serpent (his Uraeus Crown) at her right hand? I will interject a note here regarding the action at the font and its later significance. The Priest later asperges her with the pure unmixed water because putting salt onto salt is redundantly unnecessary. or whatever container the salt and water are mixed in. a cross is made on the cup alone. This also addresses a couple of practices typical of Mass performances which are derived from the apparent lack of stage direction. In doing this action at the font. Its contents are used to purify the salt by the Priestess as directed in the script. the alchemical symbol of sulfur. Finally. The child bears the ewer of water. Her status as the alchemical salt is added to by both the alchemical mercury being previously represented through the dance as well as the alchemical symbol of sulfur being added. Salt as a powder may have impurities and can be purified by dissolution in water because the impurities are not soluble. as the instructions only refer to the child bearing the ewer of water. which. the Priestess also purifies herself before purifying the Priest. . Paten at neckline and Cup with its liquid at heart level. The Priest makes three crosses on Paten and Cup together by making the triangle shown in script. to the child to then carry instead of the ewer. When the Priestess is at the font mixing the salt into the water and using it to purify the Priest. Neither of these is suitable and I take a literal interpretation approach to the action. having its base extending below the triangle. I have seen the lack of direction to do so be interpreted by others as meaning that the liquid mixture should be poured back into the ewer. to activate the mix. gives a cross beneath a triangle. Then a cross on the Paten alone. The Priestess herself is the alchemical Salt.
There then becomes evidenced a second Lance symbology. we also invoke are towards Nuit who has representation in the Temple not only above Kether in the Temple-as-Tree line of symbology but also. upon his worshipping the Lance the whole scene revolves and he finds himself in the Temple of the Grail. The Priest has been crowned and invoked upon by the Priestess and he in turn seeks to invoke Nuit upon her. designed to be thrown. which is pure information and thus of the element air. is plainly seen upon the Stele in Kether upon the highest super alter. therefore. The words thee. suspended in the air. the airy element which has the soul of Ba. his Lance is that which is flung at Parsifal by the Roman Church (Klingsor) which has stolen it but cannot use it. and which can feed or enflame fire.6 Stepping out and before the Tomb. It may also be noted that even the lance as phallus attribution pointed to as referencing fire. The lance stops above Parsifal. On the Stele. can be seen as the vehicle for the share of DNA it conveys. but another comes into view as well. and wield it. This element is all that the Priest is or has at death. the words by the power of the lifted lance naturally continue the Stele connection and identify the Priests wand with that of RHK. whom we adore. as represented in Wagner s opera. and. the Priest holds his Lance which has a multiple symbology here: On the one hand. With attention properly aimed there during those words. and he reaches up to grab. this wand is the Was Staff which has its bottom end specially fashioned into a shape . Parsifal takes the Lance. attain. This inaugurates the Temple s orientation via one symbol set. It is seeking the Ka to unite with and then find harbor in a continued life or incarnation. if one looks in that direction. This resumes the older relation of the wand or lance. to the element air. but is not the element fire itself.
Leading her to the east. a serpentine cycle of bloodshed. the Priest gives a blessed recognition and reverence for the thirteen. with ten crosses and three kisses. take thee is where the serpentine energy is grabbed up by the Priest. Saturn. being thus represented in her. he SETs her upon the high altar as the summit of the earth. the action on the larger template of the temple is also a travel from Geburah to Binah on the path of the Chariot bearing the Holy Grail. By reference to the previous description of the harmonic actions of the figure 8 and yinyang to the 8th Trump and the sign of cancer. This allows two simultaneous levels of action. in one sense. Priest and King. . adores and returns her to the veiled beyondness to instigate the next phase of the rite. the highest earth energy. upon the cross of The Priestess and The Empress paths.7 designed for snagging serpents! I. Here. The Priestess is thereby also SET in Binah. She is being placed. the moons in a year.
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