Updated to include the text, Evola’s notes and a missing section. Note that the on-line texts available have several errors in them, which I have been tediously correcting. Please let me know if you find others.
In the final article of Book three of the Introduction to Magic, Julius Evola translates several sections from Aleister Crowley’s Liber Aleph, the Book of Wisdom or Folly. Overlooking Crowley’s grandiosity and deliberately cultivated “bad boy” image, which are understood as mere facades, Evola considers him to be of the first rank in the field of magic. I here translate Evola’s introductory remarks, followed by the enumeration of the sections that he translated. The English text is online at: LIBER ALEPH VEL CXI.
Evola was still hung up on “shocking the bourgeois”. However, by now in 2013, everything has lost its shock value. Sex and drugs are the preferred recreational activities, even, and perhaps especially, of the bourgeois. Nevertheless, the True Will is still elusive and the bourgeoisie are more confused than ever. A large portion of the population is barely functioning due to a variety of psychological and emotional problems. Suicides are up.
We can suppose the subtitle was deliberately chosen: it is a book of wisdom or folly, but who decides? It is surprising that Evola went along with the implicit egalitarianism of the maxim that every man is a star. That is both the common wisdom and the common folly of today. Of course, when women are now filling up facebook with quotes from Nietzsche, Crowley, etc., the impact is lost, but the consequences linger.
It was easy to shock the bourgeois by being outrageous at one time; there was actually little risk involved. Now there is danger in shocking anyone, although it can still be done. Perhaps the time has come for some new maxims, although they are not channeled from an Egyptian spook:
- The world is hierarchically ordered
- True Will lies in adhering to the cosmic law
Nevertheless, Crowley was a knowledgeable Hermetist. I am interested in why Evola selected these particular passages, if anyone has any opinions.
In the contemporary magical amphitheater, the Englishman Aleister Crowley is a figure of the first rank. According to the common judgment he belongs to the “blacker”, explicitly satanic, direction, and he even desired this form of appearances, calling himself “The Great Beast 666”. In reality, this was in a large measure a simple façade; by calling himself that, Crowley simply followed the “Left Hand Path”, possessing a particular qualification for that. His life was extremely varied and complex: he was poet, painter, student of natural sciences, explorer, alpinist (also with tow climbs in the Himalayas), in contact with secret organizations of every type; it is even said that he had had a secret part in some recent political movements.
He practiced ceremonial and evocative magic, and precisely in that way, he had transmitted in Cairo a type of revelation, or new law, from an entity called Aiwass, that he baptized the “Law of Thelema” and of which he made himself the promoter. Two maxims are its bedrock: “Every man is a star” and “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law”. Formulating the second maxim this way, Crowley, in line with his taste, wanted to ‘épater le bourgeois’, because its effective meaning is not so much the following of unrestrained license, but rather to exclude every exterior and extraneous law and to assume one’s deepest will, in respect to which every man appears to be the manifestation of a force from above (from a “star””). Practically, Crowley’s magic was close to Tantra: sexual magic and the use of drugs had a great part in it. It is said that different disciples of Crowley ended up insane or suicides (the two possibilities that always flank the “direct path”); however, himself died in 1947 at the age of seventy two, sane and in full possession of his faculties.
The passages that we have translated here belong to the Liber Aleph, the Book of Wisdom or Folly that at this time (1953) exists only as a manuscript. The reader, apart from a certain syncretism and a certain baroquism, will easily find here elements of traditional magical discipline.
Sections included and in this order:
On the training of the mind: Mathematics (47)
Now concerning the first Foundation of thy Mind I will say somewhat. Thou shalt study with Diligence in the mathematics, because thereby shall be revealed unto thee the Laws of thine own Reason and the Limitations thereof. This Science manifesteth unto thee thy true Nature in respect of the Machinery whereby it worketh; and showeth in pure Nakedness, without Clothing of Personality or Desire, the Anatomy of thy conscious Self. Furthermore, by this thou mayst understand the Essence between the Relation of all Things, and the Nature of Necessity, and come to the Knowledge of Form. For this Mathematics is as it were the last Veil before the Image of Truth, so that there is no Way better than our Holy Qabalah, which analyseth all Things soever, and reduceth them to pure Number; and thus their Natures being no longer coloured and confused, they may be regulated and formulated in Simplicity by the Operation of Pure Reason, to thy great Comfort in the Work of our Transcendental Art, whereby the Many become One.
On the training of the mind: Classics (48)
My son, neglect not in any wise the Study of the Writings of Antiquity, and that in the original Language. For by this thou shalt discover the History of the Structure of thy Mind, that is, its Nature regarded as the last term in a Sequence of Causes and Effects. For thy Mind hath been built up of these Elements, so that in these Books thou mayst bring into the Light thine own subconscious Memories. And thy Memory is as it were the Mortar in the House of thy Mind, without which is no Cohesion or Individuality possible, so that the Lack thereof is called Dementia. And these Books have lived long and become famous because they are the Fruits of ancient Trees whereof thou art directly the Heir, wherefrom (say I) they are more truly german to thine own Nature than Books of Collateral Offshoots, though such were in themselves better and wiser. Yes, o my Son, in these Writings thou mayst study to come to the true Comprehension of thine own Nature, and that of the whole Universe, in the Dimension of Time, even as the Mathematic declareth it in that of Space: That is, of Extension. Moreover, by this Study shall the Child comprehend the Foundation of Manners: the which, as sayeth one of the Sons of Wisdom, maketh Man.
On the training of the mind: Science (49)
Since Time and Space are the Conditions of Mind, these two Studies are fundamental. Yet there remaineth Causality, which is the Root of the Actions and Reactions of Nature. This also shalt thou seek ardently, that thou mayst comprehend the Variety of the Universe, its Harmony and its Beauty, with the Knowledge of that which compelleth it. Yet this is not equal to the former two in Power to reveal thee to thy Self; and its first Use is to instruct thee in the true Method of Advancement in Knowledge, which is fundamentally, the Observation of the Like and the Unlike. Also, it shall arouse in thee the Ecstasy of Wonder; and it shall bring thee to a proper Understanding of Art Magick. For our Magick is but one of the powers that lie within us undeveloped and unanalysed; and it is by the Method of Science that it must be made clear, and available to the Use of Man. Is not this a Gift beyond Price, the Fruit of a Tree not only of knowledge but of Life? For there is that in Man which is God, and there is that also which is Dust; and by our Magick we shall make these twain one Flesh, to the Obtaining of the Empery of the Universe.
On the virtue of daring (46)
Yet this I charge thee with my Might: Live Dangerously. Was not this the Word of thine Uncle Friedrich Nietzsche? Thy meanest Foe is the Inertia of the Mind. Men do hate most those things which touch them closely, and they fear Light, and persecute the Torchbearers. Do thou therefore analyse most fully all those Ideas which Men avoid; for the Truth shall dissolve Fear. Rightly indeed Men say that the Unknown is terrible; but wrongly do they fear lest it become the Known. Moreover, do thou all Acts of which the common Sort beware, save where thou hast already full knowledge, that thou mayest learn Use and Control, not falling into Abuse and Slavery. For the Coward and the Foolhardy shall not live out their Days. Every Thing has its right Use; and thou art great as thou hast Use of Things. This is the Mystery of all Art Magick, and thine Hold upon the Universe. Yet if thou must err, being human, err by excess of courage rather than of Caution, for it is the Foundation of the Honour of Man that he dareth greatly. What sayth Quintus Horatius Flaccus in the third Ode of his First Book? Die thou standing!
On the key of dreams (17)
And now concerning Meditation let me disclose unto thee more fully the Mystery of the Key of Dreams and Phantasies.
Learn first that as the Thought of the Mind standeth before the Soul and hindereth its Manifestation in consciousness, so also the gross physical Will is the Creator of the Dreams of common Men, and as in Meditation thou doest destroy every Thought by mating it with its Opposite, so must thou cleanse thyself by a full and perfect Satisfaction of that bodily will in the Way of Chastity and Holiness which has been revealed unto thee in thy Initiation.
This inner Silence of the Body being attained, it may be that the true Will may speak in True Dreams; for it is written that He giveth unto His Beloved in Sleep. Prepare thyself therefore in this Way, as a good Knight should do.
On the sleep of light (18)
Now know this also that at the End of that secret Way lieth a Garden wherein is a Rest House prepared for thee. For to him whose physical Needs of whatever Kind are not truly satisfied cometh a Lunar or physical Sleep appointed to refresh and recreate by Cleansing and Repose; but on him that is bodily pure the Lord bestoweth a Solar or Lucid Sleep, wherein move Images of pure Light fashioned by the True Will. And this is called by the Qabalists the Sleep of Shiloam, and of this doeth also Porphyry make mention mention, and Cicero, with many other Wise Men of Old Time.
Compare, o my Son, with this Doctrine that which was taught thee in the Sanctuary of the Gnosis concerning the Death of the Righteous; and learn moreover that these are but particular Cases of an Universal Formula.
On the way of inertia (29)
Of the Way of the Tao I have already written to thee, o my Son, but I further instruct thee in this Doctrine of doing everything by doing nothing. I will first have thee to understand that the Universe being as above said an Expression of Zero under the Figure of the Dyad, its Tendency is continually to release itself from that strain by the Marriage of Opposites whenever they are brought into Contact. Thus thy true Nature is a Will to Zero, or an Inertia, or Doing Nothing; and the Way of Doing Nothing is to oppose no Obstacle to the free Function of that true Nature. Consider the Electrical Charge of a Cloud, whose Will is to discharge itself in Earth, and so release the Strain of its Potential. Do this by free conduction, there is Silence and Darkness; oppose it, there is Heat and Light, and the Rending asunder of that which will not permit free Passage to the Current.
On the way of freedom (30)
Do not think then that by Non-Action thou doest follow the Way of the Tao, for thy Nature is Action, and by hindering the Discharge of thy Potential thou doest perpetuate and aggravate the Stress. If thou ease not Nature, she will bring thee to Dis-Ease. Free thereof every Function of thy Body and of every other Part of thee according to its true Will. This also is most necessary, that thou discover that true Will in every Case, for thou art born into Dis-Ease; where are many false and perverted Wills, monstrous Growths, Parasites, Vermin are they, adherent to thee by Vice of Heredity, or of Environment or of evil Training. And of all these Things the subtlest and most terrible, Enemies without Pity, destructive to thy will, and a Menace and Tyranny even to thy elf, are the Ideals and Standards of the Slave-gods, false Religion, false Ethics, even false Science.
On the motion of life (20)
Learn then, o my Son, that all Phenomena are the effect of Conflict, even as the Universe itself is a Nothing expressed as the Difference of two Equalities, or, an thou wilt, as the Divorce of Nuit and Hadit*. So therefore every Marriage dissolveth a more material, and createth a less material Complex; and this is our Way of Love, rising ever from Ecstasy to Ecstasy. So then all high Violence, that is to say, all Consciousness, is the spiritual Orgasm of a Passion between two lower and grosser Opposites. Thus Light and Heat result from the Marriage of Hydrogen and Oxygen; Love from that of Man and Woman, Dhyana or Ecstasy from that of the Ego and the non-Ego.
But be thou well grounded in this Thesis corollary, that one or two such Marriages do but destroy for a Time the Exacerbation of any Complex; to deracinate such is a Work of long Habit and deep Search in Darkness for the Germ thereof. But this once accomplished, that particular Complex is destroyed, or sublimated for ever.
* Evola’s note: Nuit and Hadit are, in the terminology used by C., with a certain reference to the ancient Egyptian tradition, the cosmic Feminine and Masculine, the “nothing” or Zero, the equivalent of “emptiness”, sunya, of Mahayana Buddhism.
On Diseases of the Blood (21)
In the text, this section was joined to the preceding. The emphasis at the end was added by Evola.
Now then understand that all Opposition to the Way of Nature createth Violence. If thine excretory System do its Function not at its fullest, there come Poisons in the Blood, and the Consciousness is modified by the conflicts or Marriages between the elements heterogeneous. Thus if the Liver be not efficient, we have Melancholy; if the Kidneys, Coma; if the Testes or Ovaries, loss of Personality itself. Also, an we poison the Blood directly with Belladonna, we have Delirium vehement and furious; with Hashish, Visions phantastic and enormous; with Anhiolonium, Ecstasy of colour and what not; with diverse Germs of Disease, Disturbances of Consciousness varying with the Nature of the Germ. Also with Ether, we gain the Power of analysing the Consciousness into its Planes; and so for many others.
But all these are, in our mystical Sense, Poisons; that is, we take two Things diverse and opposite, binding them together so that they are compelled to unite; and the Orgasm of each Marriage is an Ecstasy, the Lower dissolving in the Higher.
On wisdom in sexual affairs (44)
Consider Love. Here is a Force destructive and corrupting where by many Men have been lost. Yet without Love Man were not Man. Therefore thine Uncle Richard Wagner made of our Doctrine a musical Fable, wherein we see Amfortas, who yielded himself to Seduction, wounded beyond Healing; Klingsor, who withdraw himself from a like Danger, cast out for ever from the Mountain of Salvation; and Parsifal, who yielded not, able to exercise the true Power of Live, and thereby to perform the Miracle of Redemption. Of this also have I myself written in my Poema called Adonis. It is the same with Food and Drink, with Exercise, with Learning itself, the Problem is ever to bring the Appetite into right Relation with the Will. Thus thou mayst fast or feast; there is no Rule than that of Balance. And this Doctrine is of general Acceptation among the better Sort of Men; therefore on thee will I rather impress more carefully the other Part of my Wisdom, namely, the Necessity of extending constantly thy Nature to new Mates upon every Plane of Being, so that thou mayst become the perfect Microcosm, an Image without Flaw of all that is.
On the mystical marriage (23)
O my Son, how wonderful is the Wisdom of this Law of Love! How vast are the Oceans of uncharted Joy that lie before the Keel of thy Ship! Yet know this, that every Opposition is in its Nature named Sorrow, and the Joy lieth in the Destruction of the Dyad. Therefore, must thou seek ever those Things which are to thee poisonous, and that in the highest Degree, and make them thine by Love. That which repels, that which disgusts, must thou assimilate in this Way of Wholeness. Yet rest not in the Joy of the Destruction of each complex in thy Nature, but press on to that ultimate Marriage with the Universe whose Consummation shall destroy thee utterly, leaving only that Nothingness which was before the Beginning.
So then the Life of Non-Action is not for thee; the Withdrawal from Activity is not the Way of the Tao; but rather the Intensification and making universal every Unit of thine Energy on every Plane.
A final thesis on love (6)
Therefore, o my Son, be thou wary, not bowing before the false Idols and ideals, yet not flaming forth in Fury against them, unless that be thy Will.
But in this Matter be prudent and be silent, discerning subtly and with acumen the nature of the Will within thee; so that thou mistake not Fear for Chastity, or Anger for Courage. And since the fetters are old and heavy, and thy Limbs withered and distorted by reason of their Compulsion, do thou, having broken them, walk gently for a little while, until the ancient Elasticity return, so that thou mayst walk, run, and leap naturally and with Rejoicing.
Also, since these Fetters are as a Bond almost universal, be instant to declare the Law of Liberty, and the full Knowledge of all Truth that appertaineth to this Matter; for if in this only thou overcome, then shall all Earth be free, taking its Pleasure in Sunlight without Fear or Phrenzy. Amen.
On the bull (153)
Concerning the Bull, this is thy Will, constant and unwearied, whose Letter is Vau, which is Six, the Number of the Sun. He is therefore the Force and the Substance of thy Being; but besides this, he is the Hierophant in the Taro, as if this were said: that thy Will leadeth thee unto the Shrine of Light. And in the Rites of Mithras the Bull is slain, and his Blood poured upon the Initiate, to endow him with that Will and that Power of Work. Also in the land of Hind is the Bull sacred to Shiva, that is God among that Folk, and is unto them the Destroyer of all Things that be opposed to Him. And this God is also the Phallus, for this Will operateth through Love even as it is written in our Own Law. Yet again, Apis the Bull of Khem hath Kephra the Beetle upon His tongue, which signifieth that it is by this Will, and by this Work, that the Sun cometh unto Dawn from Midnight. All these Symbols are most similar in their Nature, save as the Slaves of the Slave- gods have read their own Formula into the Simplicity of Truth. For there is naught so plain that Ignorance and Malice may not confuse and misinterpret it, even as the Bat is dazzled and bewildered by the Light of the Sun. See then that thou understand this Bull in Terms of the Law of this our Æon of Life.
On the lion (154)
Of this, Lion, o my Son, be it said that this is the Courage of thy Manhood, leaping upon all Things, and seizing them for their Prey. His letter is Teth, whose Implication is a Serpent, and the Number thereof Nine, whereof is Aub, the secret Fire of Obeah. Also Nine is of Jesod, uniting Change with Stability. But in The Book of Thoth He is the Atu called Strength, whose Number is E L E V E N which is Aud, the Light Odic of Magick. And therein is figured the Lion, even T H E B E A S T, and Our Lady B A B A L O N astride of Him, that with her Thighs She may strangle Him. Here I would have thee to mark well how these our Symbols are cognate, and flow forth the one into the other, because each Soul partaketh in proper Measure of the Mystery of Holiness, and is kin with his Fellow. But now let me show how this Lion of Courage is more especially the Light in thee, as Leo is the House of the Sun that is the Father of Light. And it is thus: that thy Light, conscious of itself, is the Source and Instigator of thy Will, enforcing it to spring forth and conquer. Therefore also is his Nature strong with hardihood and Lust of Battle, else shouldst thou fear that which is unlike thee, and avoid it, so that thy Separateness should increase upon thee. For this Cause he that is defective in Courage becometh a Black Brother, and to Dare is the Crown of all thy Virtue, the Root of the Tree of Magick.
Further on the lion (155)
Lo! In the firs of thine Initiations, when first the Hoodwink was uplifted from before thine Eyes, thou wast brought unto the Throne of Horus, the Lord of the Lion, and by Him enheartened against Fear. Moreover, in Minutum Mundum, the Map of the Universe, it is the Path of the Lion that bindeth the two Highest Faculties of thy Mind. Again, it is Mau, the Sun at Brightness of high Noon, that is called the Lion, very lordly, in our Holy Invocation. Sekhet our Lady is figured as a lioness, for that She is that Lust of Nuit toward Hadit which is the Fierceness of the Night of the Stars, and their Necessity; whence also is She true Symbol of thine own Hunger of Attainment, the Passion of thy Light to dare all for its Fulfilling. It is then the Possession of this Quality which determineth thy Manhood; for without it thou art not impelled to Magick, and thy Will is but the Salve’s Endurance and Patience under the Lash. For this Cause, the Bull being of Osiris, was it necessary for the Masters of the Æons to incarnate me as (more especially) a Lion, and my Word is first of all a Word of Enlightenment and of Emancipation of the Will, giving to every Man a Sprint within Himself to determine His Will, that he may do that Will, and no more another’s. Arise therefore, o my son, arm thyself, haste to the Battle!
On the man (156)
Learn now that this Lion is a natural Quality in Man, and secret, so that he is not ware thereof, except he be Adept. Therefore is it necessary for thee also to know, by the Head of the Sphinx. This then is thy Liberty, that the Impulse of the Lion should become conscious by means of the Man; for without this thou art but an Automaton. This Man moreover maketh thee to understand and to adjust thyself with Environment, else being devoid of Judgment, thou goest blindly upon an headlong Path. For every Star in his Orbit holdeth not his Way obstinately, but is sensitive to every other Star, and his true Nature is to do this. Oh how many are they whom I have seen persisting in a fatal Course, in Sway of the Belief that their dead Rigidity was Exercise of Will. And the Letter of the Man is Tzaddi, whose Number is Ninety; which is Maim, the Water that conformeth itself perfectly with its Vessel, that seeketh constantly its Level, that penetrateth and dissolveth Earth, that resisteth Pressure maugre its Adaptability, that being heated is the Force to drive great Engines, and being frozen breaketh the Mountains in Pieces. O my Son, seek well To Know!