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"Come now my child, if we were planning to harm you, do you think we'd be lurking here beside the path in the very darkest part of the forest..." - Kenneth Patchen, "Even So."


THIS IS A BLOG ABOUT STORIES AND STORYTELLING; some are true, some are false, and some are a matter of perspective. Herein the brave traveller shall find dark musings on horror, explorations of the occult, and wild flights of fantasy.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

THE SERPENT AT THE CROSSROADS; THE SYMBOLS OF TRADITIONAL WITCHCRAFT, PART ONE

"This is the meaning of that passage; they are attempts to interpret Chaos, but Chaos is Peace... Blackness, blackness intolerable, before the beginning of the light. This is the first verse of Genesis. Holy art thou, Chaos, Chaos, Eternity, all contradictions in terms!... But when the balances are equal, scale matched with scale, then will Chaos return."


- Aleister Crowley


PART ONE: THE SERPENT IN THE TREE

The story is always the same. 

The setting of the tale is a Tree; not just any Tree, but something of cosmic significance. Sometimes, this Tree supports the entire cosmos. It is the Axis Mundi, with its crown in Heaven and its roots in Hell. Sometimes the Tree is located at the center of the world. Sometimes it is in a timeless garden, a Paradise beyond the eyes of men. 

In the branches of the Tree there hangs a Prize, something that can elevate human beings to a higher state of being. Perhaps the Prize is immortality; perhaps it is divinely ordained kingship; perhaps is forbidden knowledge. Whatever the case, the Prize is always transformative and life changing.

And it is guarded.

There is a Serpent in this Tree, a Dragon, a Wyrm. It is a cunning Trickster, a deadly Adversary. Those who dare to come to the Tree must be tested, and pass, if they wish to claim the Prize.



Connected with both the Tree and the Serpent is the Woman. She is, somehow, the solution to the Test. The only way to claim the Prize, and avoid the venom of the Serpent, is have her on your side. If not, the Tree and the Serpent will destroy you.

In the Poetic Edda the Tree is Yggdrasil:

There stands an ash called Yggdrasil,
A mighty tree showered in white hail.
From there come the dews that fall in the valleys.
It stands evergreen above Urd’s Well.

From there come maidens, very wise,
Three from the lake that stands beneath the pole.
One is called Urd, another Verdandi,
Skuld the third; they carve into the tree
The lives and destinies of children.

Here the Cosmic Tree is associated with not one but three Women, the Norns, or weavers of Fate. It grows above the Well of Urd (Wyrd, or "Destiny"), and coiled around its roots lies the dragon Níðhöggr. Odin comes here seeking Forbidden Knowledge, the Runes. The Norns assign him a terrible ordeal. For nine days and nine nights he must hang crucified to the Tree, his side pierced by a spear, staring down into the depths of Urd. He is, in this way, gefinn Óðni, "given to Odin," sacrificed to himself. Surviving from this ordeal the Runes transform him;

Then I was fertilized and became wise;
I truly grew and thrived.
From a word to a word I was led to a word,
From a work to a work I was led to a work.



In ancient Greece the location of the Tree was in Colchis, and in its branches hung the fabled Golden Fleece (χρυσόμαλλον δέρας). This wondrous object came from the same mythical ram preserved amongst the stars as the constellation Aries. For the Egyptians this constellation was the ram-headed god Amon-Ra, lord of fertility and kingship, and associated with the Vernal Equinox and the reborn sun. 

For the hero Jason, winning the Golden Fleece meant attaining kingship. But the Tree containing the Fleece was guarded by a sleepless Dragon, and could not be approached without certain death. The solution to his problem was the divine-blooded sorceress Medea, granddaughter of the Sun. Winning her love, she used her powers to lull the Dragon to sleep. Jason claimed the Fleece and took Medea as his queen.



Also in Greek mythology we find the Garden of the Hesperides, the three "Nymphs of the West" or "Daughters of the Evening." This Garden was in the extreme west of the world, near the gates of the setting sun. In the center of this idyllic paradise stood a Tree, and it bore golden apples that bestowed immortality (intriguingly, it is also from this Tree that the golden apple of Eris comes, the cause of the Trojan War). Guarding this Tree was the hundred-headed Dragon Ladon (Λάδων), which Hyginus in his Astronomy associates with the constellation Draco. It is significant that Draco, also associated with Typhon and thus the Egyptian Set, coils around the North Star, the Pole around which the heavens turn. Ladon is also associated with Canaanite Dragon Lotan, known to their Hebrew neighbors as Leviathan.

To win the apples of immortality, the hero Heracles tricks the titan Atlas, and in some accounts later slays Ladon.

It should be noted here that in Irish mythology, specifically The Voyage of Bran (Immram Brain), golden apples (on a silver bough) are necessary to enter the Otherworld: 

To enter the Otherworld before the appointed hour marked by death, a passport was often necessary, and this was usually a silver branch of the sacred apple-tree bearing blossoms.


Also, in Norse mythology the golden apples of Iðunn, (“The Rejuvenating One”), are the source of divine immortality.


A more distant deviation of the tale lies East, in India. Here the "Churning of the Ocean" ( समुद्रमन्थन) appears in such sources as the Bhagavata and Vishnu Puranas, as well as the Mahabharata.  In this tale, Indra (the thunderbolt-wielding king of the gods related to other Indo-European deities such as Zeus and Thor), offends a sage and is thus cursed to lose Sri.  Sri is "Fortune," the power of "Fate" or "Destiny."  She is personified as a goddess, the consort of Vishnu, and union with Sri is necessary to be a king.  Having lost his associated with this goddess, Indra and the gods (devas) are challenged and defeated by the demonic asuras

To win his kingdom back, Indra is advised by Vishnu to deceive the asuras with the promise of amrita.  Amrita is the divine nectar of immortality, perhaps connected to the legendary soma, a beverage consumed to access other worlds and planes of existence.  Vishnu comes up with a plan that will trick the asuras and win back Sri for the devas.

It is no simple task.  To obtain amrita the gods must churn the oceans.  To do this, they use Mount Mandara, a cosmic peak or Axis Mundi which here stands in for the Tree.  The Mountain is the churning rod.  They coil around this the great King of Serpents Vasuki, who normally lies around the neck of Shiva.  Vasuki serves as the churning rope.  The asura are tricked into taking Vasuki by the head, the devas take him by the tail...as a consequence the asuras are poisoned and burned by the venom of the Serpent.  In the churning, not only is amrita produced, by the goddess Sri reappears to bestow rightful kingship on Indra once more.


The substitution of a Mountain for a Tree need not trouble us here.  Both are symbols of the Axis Mundi, the Pole around which the world turns, with roots in Hell and a crown in the Heavens.  As well shall see, both the Tree and the Cosmic Mountain are associated with yet another manifestation of the same idea, the Crossroads.

Yet before we abandon the Tree, we must consider the Biblical version of the tale.

It has all the elements now familiar to us; we have a paradisal garden, a Cosmic Tree bearing a Prize, a Serpent, and a Woman.  As was the case with the Hesperides, the garden is the property of a god.   

There are deviations, of course.  In this case we find two Trees, one bearing the Prize of Forbidden Knowledge, the other, the Prize of Immortality.  Other versions tended to select one or the other.  

But the greatest deviation, the one that turns the entire fable on its head, is that we have no Hero.  


Odin, Jason, Hercules, Indra...these are figures who come to the Tree to test themselves.  Adam, by contrast is tested.  He is a reluctant figure, a hapless lab rat.  There is nothing noble, nothing virile, about him.  The latter term is used with precision; "virile" like "virtue" has its roots in the Latin vir "a man, a hero," from the Indo-European root wi-ro- "a freeman."  Adam is not a freeman, he is a slave.  He never has a chance to truly conquer the Tree.  It was a loyalty test to tempt him into disobedience.

Adam does not come to the Tree of his own volition.  He does not enlist the aid of the Woman to defeat the Serpent and take the Prize.  Instead, the Serpent uses the Woman to tempt him.  In the end, all are punished by the one running the game.

This break with nearly every other version of the story is significant to the development of Witchcraft in the Abrahamic world.  Because the entire myth of the Tree is about challenging Fate and rising above your Station.  This freedom is forbidden in Judaism, Islam, and Christendom, where God and God alone determines a person's Fate.

To challenge that decree, to dare to approach the Tree, is Satanic.

Continued in Part Two

    

Sunday, October 30, 2016

THE GREAT BEAST: ENOCHIAN AND THELEMA

Note: The following assumes, gentle reader, that you have read the four prior "Little Lectures on Magick" series here on the blog.


So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication: And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration.

— Revelations 17:3-6

The Coming of the Beast

FOLLOWING DEE AND KELLEY the Enochian materials lay quietly, largely forgotten.  And yet everything Dee had wanted, he got.  Britain not only survived, she thrived.  The Spanish Armada was decimated by what could only be termed an "act of God," clearing the way for England to become an imperial power.  By the end of the 19th century, the tiny island kingdom with its rebel queen was the greatest empire the world had ever seen, under a new queen whose very name summed it all up nicely; "Victoria."  It might have seemed to Dee, had he been resurrected to see it, that God and his Angels had delivered.  Still, the Apocalypse they warned off, the Apocalypse he had been given the Keys to unlock, was nowhere to be seen.

In 1886, a group of Masons with occult leanings came into possession of some improbable cipher manuscripts.  The provenance of these documents is not terribly relevant to our discussion; suffice it to say the papers granted these men to launch an English branch of a Continental secret society.  It came to be called the Ordo Hermeticus Aurorae Aureae, the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn.

The Golden Dawn was a Rosicrucian society, a curious cocktail of Christian Mysticism, Freemasonry, and Egyptology.  Its founders, William Robert Woodman, William Wynn Westcott, and Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers, did an extraordinary job of combining Kabbalah, Tarot, Alchemy, and the obscure Enochian system, into a new and cohesive whole.  The Enochian element was largely to work of Mathers, who combed over Dee's journals (then property of the British Museum).  To be certain, he took liberties, inventing something called Enochian Chess and turning the Great Table into a bizarre collection of truncated pyramids, but all the same he liberated the Enochian Keys from their dusty vaults and passed them down into the hands of someone who would finally use them for their intended purpose.

We are speaking, of course, of Aleister Crowley (1875-1947).  Crowley joined the Golden Dawn in 1898, shot up at ridiculous speed through its ranks, and within two years (according to some accounts) had destroyed it.  This was a pattern with Crowley.  Chaos came in his wake.

In his time with the Order, Crowley had become Mather's protege, and like his mentor took a keen interest in the Enochian Keys.  Perhaps the Apocalyptic imagery spoke to him; Crowley had been raised in the Plymouth Brethren, a severe sola scriptura Evangelical sect hot for the End of Days.  A rebellious polymath, Crowley put as much distance between him and his upbringing as possible, but he could still quote the King James Bible chapter and verse until the end of his life, and internalized the name his mother used to taunt him with...the Beast.

In 1900, Crowley took the Keys with him to Mexico, where he decided to use them to explore the 30 Aethyrs, the "heavens" that surround the material world (analogous to the Gnostic Aeons).  He was only able to unlock two, and would return finish the remaining 28 nine years later.  Crowley record of these visionary experiences, Liber 418: The Vision and the Voice, is (next to Dee's own diaries) the single most important document in the whole Enochian canon.  It has been compared, favorably, to Blake.  Crowley himself considered it his second greatest work.

But let's not get ahead of ourselves.

In 1900, scrying the first Aethyr, the young Crowley recorded;

I AM in a vast crystal cube in the form of the Great God Harpocrates. This cube is surrounded by a sphere. About me are four archangels in black robes, their wings and armour lined out in white.

In the North is a book on whose back and front are A.M.B.Z. in Enochian characters.

Within it is written:

...Lift up your heads, O Houses of Eternity: for my Father goeth forth to judge the World. One Light, let it become a thousand, and one sword ten thousand, that no man hide him from my Father's eye in the Day of Judgment of my God. Let the Gods hide themselves: let the Angels be troubled and flee away: for the Eye of My Father is open, and the Book of the Aeons is fallen...

...Tremble ye, O Pillars of the Universe, for Eternity is in travail of a Terrible Child; she shall bring forth an universe of Darkness, whence shall leap forth a spark that shall put his father to flight...

This is 1900, four years before the event Crowley is best known for, but there are clear hints of what-was-to-come right there in the first Enochian vision...Harpocrates, a Book proclaiming an Apocalypse, a "Terrible Child" about to be born and replace his father.  Four years before Thelema officially "went public," the Enochain angels seemed to be leaking the story.

Crowley made it only so far as the 29th Aethyr (having scried the 30th Aeythr, the one closest to Earth, first).  He would later claim he lacked sufficient initiation to go further.  But the two visions are Apocalyptic, referring both to a coming Book and a Child.  In the wake of these visions, for various reasons, Crowley abruptly abandoned magic and mysticism and converted to Buddhism.  He married, and took his bride, Rose, on a globe trotting honeymoon.  Perhaps he thought he was done with the Angels.  The Angels, however, were not done with him.

Here is the official story.  Do what you will with it.

The Book of the Law

While on honeymoon in Cairo, Crowley decided to entertain Rose with some of his old, rejected magic.  He figured conjuring the sylphs would be harmless enough.  But Rose fell into a sort of trance, and started telling her husband that the god Horus was trying to get in touch with him.  As Rose had no knowledge or interest in things esoteric, Crowley was understandably irritated by her ramblings.  He took her to a museum and challenged her to point out who was trying to reach him, sneering to himself as she blindly walked right past all the well known images of Horus.  But straight she went to a small, painted funeral stele, and pointed excitedly.  Sure enough, it displayed Horus (Ra Hoor Khuit), as well as two other deities, the Egyptian star goddess Nut (Nuit) and Behdet (Hadit) the winged solar disc.  She insisted this was the source of the voices calling to her, and Crowley, who had been called by his mother "the Beast" and "Antichrist" for his rebelliousness and rejection of her faith, couldn't help but notice that the museum exhibit number of this little wooden item was number 666.  It was enough to convince him to listen to her.

Following her instructions, Crowley locked himself in his bedroom between the hours of noon and one o'clock on three successive afternoons, April 8th, 9th, and 10th.  There he sat down at his desk, pen and paper ready.  And there, the story goes, a voice dictated to him Liber AL vel Legis, also known as The Book of the Law.  He always insisted it wasn't in his head.  He heard it from over his left shoulder, from the corner of the room.

So what exactly is in this book?  It's a tricky business, really, to talk about it.  Preaching a doctrine of extreme individualism, it is forbidden to interpret Liber AL bel Legis for anyone else.  Everyone must read and decipher it through the lens of their own experience.  So I tread lightly here.

For starters it is divided into three short chapters, each dictated over the space of one hour as Crowley furiously scribbled them out. Each chapter was dictated, through a messenger named "Aiwass," the "minister of Hoor-paar-kraat" (the god Hapocrates, mentioned above in Crowley's scrying of the 30th Aethyr).  The chapters, however, are messages from three different deities.  The first is Nuit, the Divine Feminine and goddess of infinite Space. The second is her counterpart Hadit, the Divine Masculine.  He is said to exist at the center of every individual. The third is Ra-Hoor-Khuit, the Crowned and Conquering Child.  This is the "Terrible Child" the Enochian Angels told Crowley would be born.  Ra Hoor is the fiery, active form of Horus (Hoor-paar-kraat or Harpocrates, is his hidden, passive form...more on this later).  Horus is also, it seems, the Lord of the New Aeon.

What is this New Aeon?  Simply put, The Book of the Law is announcing the Apocalypse. 

The book puts forward a theory of Aeons, ages of time not unlike the Ages of Man discussed by Hesiod and Ovid or the "Yugas" of India.  Each Aeon represents a stage of human development.  Human prehistory is largely dominated by the Aeon of Isis, the Mother.  Societies tended to be matrilineal hunter gatherers, and were dominated by the family or clan. The great mystery was Birth; "where does life come from?"  Women, it seemed, periodically brought life forth from their bodies, as did the Earth.  Reproduction was not clearly understood.  

With agriculture, the Aeon of Isis was replaced by that of Osiris, the Father.  It was very clear to the Osirians where life came from...the Seed.  Women, like the soil, were merely incubators.  Patriarchy took over, and worship moved from the Earth to the life-giving Sky Father, the Sun.  The notion of sacrifice became central, as crops and livestock died so that mankind could live.  And with the new focus on growing seasons, the formula of "death and resurrection" took hold.  The Sun, it seemed, was reborn ever day.  The patriarchal, hierarchal, and sacrificial were the dominant themes of this Aeon, and the central forces of society were the church and the state.

The Book of the Law is the trumpet blast heralding the death of the Osirian Age.  Horus, the son of both Isis and Osiris, is taking his place on the throne of his father.  This is the Age of the Child, in which we understand now that both men and women play roles in reproduction, so there shall be equality of the sexes. Indeed, the authority of the Mother (Family) and the Father (Church/State) are overturned; the seat of society is now the Individual.  The only law is do what thou wilt, discover your true nature and act in accordance with it (allowing others to do the same).  All the old formulae of self-sacrifice, abstinence, and restriction are swept aside.  Notions of birth and death are defunct--the molecules in our bodies were forged in stars and will endure until the end of time.  The Sun doesn't die and get reborn, we simply turn away from it awhile, but it is always there, affecting the world.  Likewise the existences we lead endure forever in the marks our actions made upon the world.  Our error is in seeing ourselves as isolated, rather than as part of the continuity of existence. We are each of us the Universe experiencing itself. 

But it is not all good news.  The transformation of one Age to the next is a bloody, chaotic, tumultuous affair.  The Dawn of the New Aeon will see Horus in his most bloodthirsty, martial aspect; he will stamp down the wretched and the weak.  The third chapter of The Book of the Law, his chapter, is the most difficult to read, filled with violent imagery;

...Thou shalt have danger & trouble. Ra-Hoor-Khu is with thee. Worship me with fire & blood; worship me with swords & with spears. Let the woman be girt with a sword before me: let blood flow to my name. Trample down the Heathen; be upon them, o warrior, I will give you of their flesh to eat!

Crowley, it seemed, was to be the Prophet of this New Aeon.  He and his wife Rose were meant to fill the offices of the Beast and Scarlet Woman of Revelations, dedicating their lives to spreading word of the new law.

Crowley, however, was having none of it.  There was a great deal in the book he didn't understand, large sections he considered gibberish, and much of what he did understand disturbed him.  So, despite warnings of dire consequences should he reject his role, Crowley did exactly that.  Tucking The Book of the Law away, he promptly spent the next five years forgetting about it.  

43. Let the Scarlet Woman beware! If pity and compassion and tenderness visit her heart; if she leave my work to toy with old sweetnesses; then shall my vengeance be known. I will slay me her child: I will alienate her heart: I will cast her out from men: as a shrinking and despised harlot shall she crawl through dusk wet streets, and die cold and an-hungered...

Rose and Crowley went about their way, and one by one the warnings of the book came true.  In 1906 the couple lost their daughter (born the year The Book of the Law was received).  Several years later Rose had to be put away in an institution for alcoholic dementia.  Crowley, meanwhile, suffered a string of failures and misfortunes.  In the end it was enough to convince him to give The Book of the Law another look.  

What is crucial, however, is that when he needed aid in deciphering this text, he went back to the Enochian Aethyrs.

The Vision and the Voice

The genuineness of these Keys, altogether apart from any critical observation, is guaranteed by the fact that anyone with the smallest capacity for Magick finds that they work...

The intelligent reader is faced with two possibilities here.  One, The Book of the Law is indeed a declaration from "on high."  The Angels who spoke to Dee in the 1580s handed him the Keys to the Apocalypse, but not for his use...for Crowley's, three centuries later.  When Crowley scried the first two Aethyrs in 1900, with their visions of a Terrible Child and a Book, he was doing what the Angels has always planned...unlocking that Apocalypse, the New Aeon of Horus.  Crowley was, as he later came to believe, the Beast spoken of in Revelations.

Or...

Aleister Crowley, fascinated by Revelations and the Beast, read the Enochian materials and internalized them.  Just as Dee was trying to create a new English religion, so too was Crowley.  Consciously or subconsciously Dee's spiritual revolution inspired Crowley to pen The Book of the Law.

Either way it is clear that Enochian and Thelema are connected, either by angelic or human intent.  They are the same spiritual revolution in two phases, separated by three centuries but bound by a common language and culture.  Born at the dawn of the British Era, Enochian was an English attempt to overthrow an older era.  Thelema, born at Britain's climax, was exactly the same.  In Crowley's mind, at least, he was finally bringing the revolution Dee started to the world.

In 1909, in the deserts of North Africa, Crowley returned to Dee's Angels and the Aethyrs.  Working with an assistant named Victor Neuburg, Crowley successfully scried the remaining 28.  

Now, while The Book of the Law is without question the foundational text of the New Aeon, it is actually from the Aethyric visions that Crowley received much of what we consider the core doctrines of Thelema.  The concept of the Holy Guardian Angel, of Crossing the Abyss, the Thelemic deities BABALON and CHAOS, all of these come from his communications with the Enochian Angels.  A review of his titles for the scrying of the Aethyrs illustrates this (see the image below).

Perhaps it is simplest to say that while The Book of the Law lays out the "what," the visions Crowley beheld in the Aethyrs detail the "how" of Thelema, as well as introducing three new key figures to Thelemic cosmology.

Let us examine briefly some of the major teachings Crowley obtained from these visions.



THE HOLY GUARDIAN ANGEL

And because I am with thee, and in thee, and of thee, thou shalt lack nothing. But who lack me, lack all. And I swear unto thee by Him that sitteth upon the Holy Throne, and liveth and reigneth for ever and ever, that I will be faithful unto this my promise, as thou art faithful unto this thine obligation...

The Holy Guardian Angel is representative of one’s truest divine nature. The term is equivalent with the Genius of the Golden Dawn, the Augoeides of Iamblichus, the Atman of Hinduism, and the Daemon of the gnostics.  It was in the 8th Aethyr that Crowley was taught the nature of this being, and his was identified as Aiwass, the entity who dictated Liber AL to him.  

The Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel is the first thing all new Thelemites must aspire to, for it is the revelation of the True Will.  Without this attainment, the aspirant acts blindly, in ignorance of his deepest nature.

BABALON

Though her name is an Enochian word derived from Dee and Kelley's sessions, BABALON only reveals herself as a Thelemic divinity while Crowley was scrying the Aethyrs (particularly the 12th);

This is the Mystery of Babylon, the Mother of Abominations, and this is the mystery of her adulteries, for she hath yielded up herself to everything that liveth, and hath become a partaker in its mystery. And because she hath made her self the servant of each, therefore is she become the mistress of all. Not as yet canst thou comprehend her glory.

Beautiful art thou, O Babylon, and desirable, for thou hast given thyself to everything that liveth, and thy weakness hath subdued their strength. For in that union thou didst understand. Therefore art thou called Understanding, O Babylon, Lady of the Night!

BABALON is a manifestation of Nuit, and more prefectly, of Binah (the Third Sephiroth that births the universe).  She is the Divine Feminine.  The Scarlet Woman spoken of in The Book of the Law is merely an office, a representative of BABALON on Earth.  

It is worth mentioning that BABALON is referenced in the workings of Dee and Kelley themselves;

"...I am the daughter of Fortitude, and ravished every hour from my youth. For behold I am Understanding and science dwelleth in me; and the heavens oppress me. They cover and desire me with infinite appetite; for none that are earthly have embraced me, for I am shadowed with the Circle of the Stars and covered with the morning clouds. My feet are swifter than the winds, and my hands are sweeter than the morning dew. My garments are from the beginning, and my dwelling place is in myself. The Lion knoweth not where I walk, neither do the beast of the fields understand me. I am deflowered, yet a virgin; I sanctify and am not sanctified. Happy is he that embraceth me: for in the night season I am sweet, and in the day full of pleasure. My company is a harmony of many symbols and my lips sweeter than health itself. I am a harlot for such as ravish me, and a virgin with such as know me not. For lo, I am loved of many, and I am a lover to many; and as many as come unto me as they should do, have entertainment.

Purge your streets, O ye sons of men, and wash your houses clean; make yourselves holy, and put on righteousness. Cast out your old strumpets, and burn their clothes; abstain from the company of other women that are defiled, that are sluttish, and not so handsome and beautiful as I, and then will I come and dwell amongst you: and behold, I will bring forth children unto you, and they shall be the Sons of Comfort. I will open my garments, and stand naked before you, that your love may be more enflamed toward me."

In the language of the Angels, babalon means "wicked" and babalond is "harlot."  Thus not only does this passage from Dee's journals sum up the Thelemic understanding of BABALON nicely, it also references her ("harlot," in bold above).

CHAOS

The male counterpart to BABALON, Chaos is the "Unnamed God" that inhabits Chokmah, the Dyad (the number two).  Together BABALON and CHAOS are the Female and Male principles of existence, and forms of both Nuit and Had.  The Beast is his earthly representative.

And thou shalt give the sign of the Mother, for BABALON is thy fortress against the iniquity of the Abyss, of the iniquity of that which bindeth her unto the Crown, and barreth her from the Crown; for not until thou art made one with CHAOS canst thou begin that last, that most terrible projection, the three-fold Regimen which alone constitutes the Great Work.

Associated with the Dyad, two, CHAOS is inherently also associated with that perfect, Qabalistic zero or "nothingness" as well (2=0, or +n + -n = 0).  From Crowley's comments on the 4th Aethyr;

This is the meaning of that passage; they are attempts to interpret Chaos, but Chaos is Peace... Blackness, blackness intolerable, before the beginning of the light. This is the first verse of Genesis. Holy art thou, Chaos, Chaos, Eternity, all contradictions in terms!... But when the balances are equal, scale matched with scale, then will Chaos return.

There is some suggestion here that the Devil (Dual, Dyad, Double) is Pan, the "All," with the "Night of Pan" being the state of transcendent Nothingness of Void.  This is an interesting spin on the title "the Prince of Darkness."

CHORONZON AND THE ABYSS

In the writings of John Dee, "Choronzon" was the angelic word for Satan, the Serpent in the Tree of Knowledge.  Crowley's Enochian visions link him with the Abyss.

Though the Abyss exists also in Qabalah, as the gulf between the 3rd and 4th Sephiroth (between the Heavens and the Earth), it exists also among the Aethyrs (the 10th).  Here it is the lair of Choronzon, synonymous in Dee's journals with Satan.  Crowley says of him;

The name of the Dweller in the Abyss is Choronzon, but he is not really an individual. The Abyss is empty of being; it is filled with all possible forms, each equally inane, each therefore evil in the only true sense of the word—that is, meaningless but malignant, in so far as it craves to become real. These forms swirl senselessly into haphazard heaps like dust devils, and each such chance aggregation asserts itself to be an individual and shrieks, "I am I!" though aware all the time that its elements have no true bond; so that the slightest disturbance dissipates the delusion just as a horseman, meeting a dust devil, brings it in showers of sand to the earth...

It is scrying the Aethyrs that Crowley crosses the Abyss, one of the major landmarks in Thelemic mysticism.  If the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel is the discovery of the True Self, crossing the Abyss is the identification of the Self with the Absolute.  It is one of the highest attainments a Thelemite may reach.

THE CROWNED AND CONQUERING CHILD

In the 1st and final Aethyr, LIL, Crowley comes face to face with Horus himself, the Lord of the Aeon;

I am light, and I am night, and I am that which is beyond them. I am speech, and I am silence, and I am that which is beyond them. I am life, and I am death, and I am that which is beyond them. I am war, and I am peace, and I am that which is beyond them. I am weakness, and I am strength, and I am that which is beyond them. Yet by none of these can man reach up to me. Yet by each of them must man reach up to me...

This is an elaboration and confirmation of truths revealed in The Book of the Law, the general formula of the Aeon which is 2 = 0; the Great Work consists of uniting all things with their opposites to transcend them:

27.  ...O Nuit, continuous one of Heaven, let it be ever thus; that men speak not of Thee as One but as None; and let them speak not of thee at all, since thou art continuous!

28. None, breathed the light, faint & faery, of the stars, and two.

29. For I am divided for love's sake, for the chance of union.

This idea is encountered over and over again; n + -n = 0.  Nuit and Hadit, Ra Hoor Khuit (the outer Horus) and Hoor-paar-kraat (the hidden Horus), CHAOS and BABALON, Heaven and Earth.  In the New Aeon, "God," and by this we mean "highest reality," cannot be understood as One, but as Two that merge to become Zero.  It is implicit even in the notion of this as the Aeon of the Child, the product of the Union of Isis and Osiris that overthrows them both.

All in all, the visions Crowley received scrying the Aethyrs are inextricably linked with Thelema.  They elaborate and expand on The Book of the Law.  From a Thelemic perspective, the Enochian system given to John Dee is the Magick of the New Aeon; and this is why Dee was never given permission to practice it.  

It wasn't meant for him.  It was meant for us.



Appendix: A COMMENT UPON THE NATURES OF THE ÆTHYRS 

Aleister Crowley

30. Without the cube—the material world—is the sphere- system of the spiritual world enfolding it. the Cry seems to be a sort of Exordium, and external showing forth of the coming of the new Æon, the Æon of Horus the crowned child.

29. The disturbance of Equilibrium caused by the Coming of the Æon.

28. Now is a further and clearer shadowing-forth of the Great Mystery of the Æon whichis to be led up to by the Æthyrs. Note however that the King of the New Æon never appears until the very first Æthyr.

27. Hecate appears—her son, the son of a Virgin, a magus, is to bring the Æon to pass. And she, the herald, her function fulfilled, withdraws within her mystic veil.

26. The death of the past Æon, that of Jehovah and Jesus; ends with adumbration of the new, the vision of the Stele of Ankh-f-n-khonsu, whose discovery brought about in a human consciousness the knowledge of the Equinox of the Gods, 21. 3. 04.

25. Appearance of the Lion God of Horus, the child of Leo that incarnates him. The first Angel is Isis its mother.

24. Now appears his mate, the heavenly Venus, the Scarlet Woman, who by men is thought of as Babalon as he is thought of as Chaos.

23. Here appear the Cherubim, the other officers of the new Temple, the earth and water assistants of the fire and air Beast and Scarlet Woman.

22. Here is the First Key to the formula of Horus, a sevenfold arrangement. A shadow of Horus declares his nature.

21. This seems to be the Vision of God face to face that is the necessary ordeal for him who would pass the Abyss, as it were. A commission to be the prophet of the Æon arising is given to the Seer. The God is the Hierophant in the Ceremony of Magister Templi.
20. A guide is given to the Seer, his Holy Guardian Angel. And this is attained by a mastery of the Universe conceived as a wheel The Hiereus in the Ceremony of Magister Templi.

19. Now cometh forth the Angel who giveth instruction, in the lowest form. The Hegemone in the Ceremony of Magister Templi which the Seer is about to undergo.

18. The Vault of preparation for the Ceremony of M.T.
The Veil is the Crucifixion, symbol of the dead Æon. The first ordeal is undergone.

17. The symbol of the Balance is now given unto the Aspirant.

16. The sacrifice is made. The High Priestess (image of Babalon) cometh forth upon her Beast and maketh this.

15. The mystic dance by Salome. The new Temple, the signs of the grades are received and the A.E. rejected.

14. The Shrine of Darkness. Final initiation into grade of M. T.

13. The emergence of Nemo into the world; his work therein. This is the first mystery revealed to a M.T.

12. The Second Mystery: the cup-bearer of Babalon the beautiful. The Holy Grail manifested to the M.T., with the first knowledge of the Black Brothers.

11. Now cometh the Frontier of the Holy City; the M.T. is taken into the Abyss.

10. The Abyss.

9. The M.T. hath passed the Abyss, and is let to the Palace of the Virgin redeemed from Malkuth unto Binah.

8. The fuller manifestation of the Holy Guardian Angel.

7. The Virgin become the Bride, the great Reward of the Ceremony. also an adumbration of the Further Progress.

6. A shadowing-forth of the grade of Magus.

5. The reception of the M.T. among the Brethren of the A∴ A∴; the manifestation of the Arrow.

4. Further concerning the Magus. The marriage of Chaos with the purified Virgin.

3. The Magician. Exhibition of the Guards to the Higher Knowledge.

2. The understanding of the Curse, that is become a Blessing. The final reward of the M.T., his marriage even with Babalon Herself. The paean thereof.

1. The final manifestation. All leads up to the Crowned Child, Horus, the Lord of the New Æon.