Copyright © 2007 Adam Newman
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A GLOSSARY OF THELEMA
The Modern Dissemination of the Mystical Dogma, Archetypes, Qabalism and Theology of Aleister Crowley
By Frater Pyramidatus
A GLOSSARY OF THELEMA
A GLOSSARY OF THELEMA
Since the publication of Israel Regardie’s The Golden Dawn the general public has become used to magical dictionaries, compendiums and cyclopaedias. Our bookshops are replete with endless titles promising concise data on the Western Mystery Tradition. However, I still feel that for the beginning student many of these are bewildering, and that they leave the reader more mystified than ever. This is certainly more so with the Thelemic tradition, where we find Crowley’s strict and precise control of Victorian English verbose, confusing and often cryptic to the point of excess, let alone the excursions into Eastern occultism that even the Golden Dawn adepts knew little of, let alone the average person. In compiling this volume three aims emerged as paramount: a) to be as comprehensive as possible, covering all aspects of the Thelemic tradition as it stands in the ‘Crowley corpus’ of writings – this could be termed ‘orthodox’, or traditional Thelema; b) to avoid waffle and remain as concise and brief as is convenient; and c) to aim at the everyday reader, and to avoid ‘esoteric’, mysterious and unusual terms.
The amount of occult material available is immense and confusing.
We often encounter contradictions between texts, differences in
pronunciation, spelling, and style. Most of the great occult books are deliberately confusing, and occasionally filled with malicious errors on the false premise that ‘secrets’ should be confined to a small circle of initiates, and that flagrantly publishing similar ‘secrets’ would lead to
A GLOSSARY OF THELEMA
persecution, be it from the Church, rival societies, or even disenchanted entities from the spirit world. Suffice to say that most of the medieval grimoires, and great manuscripts of magic, do contain purposeful mistakes. Crowley, with his A.?. A.?. and revised Ordo Templi Orientis, went some great distance to dispelling superstition, and dogmatic infighting, but a lack of scientific spirit is still painfully prevalent in the general literature of occultism. In this volume I have tried to be as simple, lucid and practical as possible. The reader who does not understand the lists of correspondences in other books, will take solace in the Latin alphabet, a tool certainly at his disposal, and perhaps find a pointer to a clearer plateau. I do not pretend to provide detailed information here, but slight guidance through the literary labyrinth, and a little something to help ‘jump start’ the creative processes. This volume is jam packed with archetypes, symbols, and correspondences, and simply flicking through you should find what you are looking for, at least in part. Admittedly it is a scholarly contribution to occultism, rather than any original or inspired work.
The point of reference is, as usual, the Holy Qabalah – this gives us a synthetic, elastic and virtually omniscient method of referring information back to a synergistic model. It was perhaps Crowley’s greatest academic inertia to prop up all of his discoveries on the Tree of Life, and this glossary shares that inertia. To help the beginner many of the Hebrew words have been transliterated into English as well as given in the original script. The author also hopes this will help prevent the scribal error, and runic entropy, that he has so often encountered in his researches. Wherever possible I have tried to distinguish the authentic Hebrew Qabalah from the Golden Dawn and Thelemic extensions, as the two can never be fully reconciled – a painful defect in the endless literary ambition of the Victorian G. D.. There is essentially no seamless connection between the Rabbinical teachings, a.k.a. ‘the esoteric interpretation of the Torah’, and experimental works such as Liber 777, and due credit has been given to the Qabalistic tradition per se. It seems Crowley himself was less anxious to draw the same distinctions. One perfect method is found – the 72 angels of the Schemhamphoresh – and the only extension into the Hermetic teaching is the allocation to the quinaries of the Zodiac, which may be discarded if the reader wishes to experiment with the unadulterated tradition.
The Enochian Watchtowers of Dr. Dee are given in depth, as are the names of the Governors, and some guiding notes on pronunciation of the Enochian script. The superfluous spelling methods of the Victorian Golden Dawn have been discarded in favour of the restored method given by Mr. Hulse. The author had, for the sake of brevity, to chose from three of four different methods, and he chose from ‘the lesser of two evils’. Considerations of style have made me give the 21 letters of the Enochian ‘language’, and although he agrees with Hulse as to their incredible scholarly value, many ceremonial magicians have commented on their usefulness in the creation of sigils – that is their direct action on the subconscious mind rather than from the standpoint of grammar and phonemics.
Crowley’s famous Book of Thoth has been tentatively covered with some brief descriptions of each individual illustration and their Qabalistic ratiocinations.
The Gnostic Mass of the O. T. O. gives one many names of the so termed ‘Gnostic Saints’, and the author has endeavoured to provide short biographies of most of them, which adds many colourful historical characters to the work, and perhaps reminds us that Crowley (et alibi) was a link in a grand tradition rather than the insane and militant individualist that the general public accuse him of being. These names will provide the reader with many avenues of the occult world, titles of works, names and dates etc., without giving more than a superficial ‘resonance’ of the individuals concerned.
A GLOSSARY OF THELEMA
Thelema has always tried to be a truly synthetic exploration of all previous systems of attainment, and has added an Eastern flavour to the strictly Hermetic canon of the the Golden Dawn. The 64 Hexagrams of the I Ching have been included, using a combination of the Richard Wilhelm translation, Hulse’s Liber 888 and Crowley’s Liber 216. The author has endeavoured to uncover inconsistencies between these three works, and thankfully has found none. They are arranged in the awkward and often unpronouncible Chinese names, as these are the most often encountered in other standard works of reference. The Tattva symbols, seven Chakkras of yoga, and the three vital nadis are also given as developed by Westerners rather than from any specific textus receptus.
The major alphabets are arranged according to the English transliterations of the names of the letters. Included are Arabic, Hebrew, Greek and Coptic – as well as Enochian, but in this case only as a single paragraph. These five languages are the most often used in Thelemic ceremonial.
Demonology is a subject which frankly cannot be ignored in a work of this kind, and it is common knowledge that the malefic universe is not ‘brushed aside’ in Thelema as in many other magical traditions. Thus we find included the 72 Spirits of the Lesser Key of Solomon, (with the sigils, sometimes in duplicate), the principal demons of the Satanic Bible of Anton LaVey (with Biblical notes), and the 22 Sentinels of the Qliphoth, with the respective sigils, which are found in Liber 231. The metaphysic and cosmology of the arch-demons is also given, in brief.
Also given are the rather obscure 231 Gates of the Sepher Yetzirah (called such through a concept communicated in the text rather than any actual listing). These have a unique permutation of the symbols pertaining to the Hebrew alphabet, with a kind of magical antithesis as the general thread of reason (however tenuous it may appear at times). This hopefully will provide the reader with an entirely new (in terms of today’s literature) method of Qabalistic exegesis. Some elementary data on the astrological allocations is also given.
Another entry quite unencountered in modern literature, and seemingly unique to the author’s research, is the Geomantic Qemea and Unique Geomantic Shields. Although these are not strictly part of the Thelemic canon, geomancy is, and any insight garnered on this much neglected tradition can do nothing but good.
Lastly, I can never pretend to have a full intellectual grasp on all the data contained within. This is not so important as one might guess, and in many cases lack of knowledge has lead me to an impartiality an ‘expert’ could never hope for.