Essays on Liber Legis.
Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
Thelema Liber Legis proofs 1908
Thelema 1909 to Equinox 1913 proofing
Bartzabel MS April-May 1910
AC-Windram Thelema annotations
Giants Thumb page proof handwriting samples
Stele paraphrase analysis
Confessions AL 1930
Ritual CXX opening MS pages
Love is the law, love under will.
ON THE FILL/KILL CORRECTION (3)
Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
A great deal has been written by some serious students on this subject of late, some of which hasbeen very thought-provoking. I will respond in a general way to some of the issues raised below.Some points are made in two point-by-point timelined analyses, one pro “fill me” (to the best ofmy ability), the other pro “kill me.” Others are given in topical discussions under the headings ofthe various sources, given below, which correspond to an analytical side-by-side table designed tosimplify the comparison of the handling of the Stèle poetry across all sources. This table is givenas a separate file released with this memo, along with other files of source material as cited in thenotes discussing the table.
The table is intended to simplify the study, over a timeline, of the evolution of the readings across all sources. I thought a table necessary as I find lengthy prose expositions about small textual details in multiple sources hard to follow. It is intended as an aid to discussion, and not constructed to advance any particular argument, though the dating of some items is necessarily argumentative as a choice had to be made about the likely date of a few uncertain items.
The various sources documenting the use of “fill me” or “kill me” do not have equal weight—one cannot simply count the occurrences of each reading in these sources and reach a reasonable con-clusion. The sources have to be weighted, with far more consideration given to holograph use that is provably Crowley handling the text himself, and less consideration given to printed instances that may be the work of an editor, or a typesetter, or simply due to negligence. It is also important to be cautious about inferring that Crowley did or did not read and approve something that has no marks in his handwriting on the page, as he had too many colleagues and assistants throughout his life to make safe assumptions about whether he personally approved every word and spelling.
Some commentators have argued against the “kill me” reading’s contextual support elsewhere in the Paraphrase, i.e., in the language “self-slain” and “its rays consume Me.” Some have advanced simplistic “Old Æon” vs. “New Æon” arguments that suggest that “kill me” is somehow cognate with the formula of the past age of the Dying God, while “fill me” is somehow more theologically cor- rect for the New Æon. See however “Liber Had,” where one of the specified practices culminates in the spiritual death of the practitioner. In many places in his writings, Crowley emphasizes that death is understood differently in the New Æon, and embraced as a necessary phase of a continu- ous cycle. He related this to the annual and diurnal Solar cycle, a doctrine that he embedded in the Gnostic Mass, and taught that we should “die daily”—a doctrine with great relevance to an under-standing of “Liber Resh” and any related adorations:
The Universe is Change: every Change is the effect of an Act of Love; all Acts
of Love contain Pure Joy. Die daily!
—The Heart of the Master (1938)
See also The Book of Lies, chap. 16, etc.
More to the point is a meaning involving “kill me” that was conceived from the very beginning, during the Cairo Working itself: a ritual to be based on the Stèle texts, their names and theogony, with special reference to the “secret door.” This became “Ritual CXX, The Ritual of Passing through the Tuat,” and was Crowley’s attempt to base an initiatory text on Liber Legis III:38:
So that thy light is in me; & its red flame is as a sword in my hand to push thy
order. There is a secret door that I shall make to establish thy way in all the
quarters, (these are the adorations, as thou hast written), as it is said:
The light is mine; its rays consume
Me: I have made a secret door
Into the House of Ra and Tum,
Of Khephra and of Ahathoor.
What Crowley envisioned and strove to create with “Ritual CXX” was the “Ritual of the Passing through the Tuat”—or Duaut or Duat, the Egyptian after-death state, basically derived, like the Stèle texts themselves, from the Egyptian Book of the Dead. That the above passage might come di-rectly after “Aum! let it kill me!” should not be controversial. In “Ritual CXX,” the candidate is very much alive on arrival; arguing that the funerary stèle that inspired these teachings was originally written to describe a man already dead misses the point of its esoteric ritual adaptation. A spiritual death could be considered a prerequisite to the rebirth described at the end of the Paraphrase.
The strongest argument for retaining “fill” is the “consecrated by long use” argument—i.e., that the “fill” reading was preserved through the 1913, 1936 and 1938 printings of Liber Legis. However, this has to be balanced against another “consecrated by long use” argument for the “kill me” read-ing, which appeared more than once in the Stèle Paraphrase, in print in 1912, again in carefully checked proofs in 1915, and again in print in 1936. Balancing these also, in my view, defuses argu-ments based on the impossiblity of Crowley not noticing something so basic for so long. In my view, he demonstrably didn’t notice something, so that on this basis alone the argument could go either way. We have to look elsewhere for more definite evidence than simple patterns of use and reuse.
In my opinion, a key to this aspect of the issue is how the 1913 Liber Legis edition came to be proofread and edited in the way it was, as the 1936 and 1938 editions basically followed the 1913 edition with a few corrections or typos one way or the other. As discussed below, and touched on in a prior memo, I see no compelling evidence that proves that Crowley made a serious effort to proofread these later editions. In his Sept. 1, 1913 letter to Neuburg, asking him to come up to work on the proofreading, Crowley did indicate that he intended to proofread personally and wanted help, but there is more than a hint of the “managerial I/we,” and I think it likely that Crow-ley delegated the verse-by-verse proofreading work to his editors. He was so overworked that he doubled Desti’s salary that week to get her into the office.
Some have objected to my assertion that Crowley was capable of preserving a serious textual problem through three printings of a text. I had cited a concrete example of this (the Gnostic Mass, which replicated a problem involving a Class A phrase from Liber Legis across all three edi-tions). I since noticed another in his essay Berashith, which also had three resettings (the original booklet, The Sword of Song and Collected Works), and was even revised by the author in the pro-cess. Look for the equation with all the superscript letters and try to decode the discussion that follows; you will find that the roman “h” that appears in all three editions is an old typo for the standard abbreviation for gravity, g.
This is not meant as an affront to Crowley; I am just stating what is provably true. These oc-currences of repeated errors in successive republications are examples of his habit of handing a previously-printed version to a printer for reprinting. They also illustrate a well-known principle familiar to editors and publishers: the last person who should proofread a work is the author. Most of the time an author sees what is in his or her mind and memory, not what is actually on the printed page. Basically, authors shouldn’t be blamed for failing to catch typos, as they have a hard time reading as a virgin. This is why, in professional typesetting companies, the rule is that no proofreader should proofread something twice. But an editorial change by an author is some-thing else entirely—when an author marks something, you know that they’ve actually read it, and you can’t just choose to ignore it. A proofreader is always reading against an earlier source as an authority. An author (or in this case, an author-scribe) is the authority. Proofreading isn’t editing or editorial decision-making, it’s the catching of mistakes by comparison to some original that can sometimes involve querying literal mispellings if supported by a dictionary. If a divergence or con-flict arises between a proofreader’s reading and one specified by an author, there is no contest—the author’s is always taken. (For those with a sense of irony—or a bad sense of humor!—the profes- sional term for the latter type of change is an AA, for author’s alteration.)
I would ask that those who prefer the “fill me” reading, and have difficulty accepting that Crow-ley could publish (or attempt to publish) something important three times with the same error, give due weight to the Stèle Paraphrase published in 1912, personally proofed in type in 1915 and republished in 1936. If “kill me” is wrong, this is an example of exactly this phenomenon. And if this can go one way, it is only reasonable to accept that it can go the other.
A few bloggers have questioned Crowley’s authority to decide the question at all. His remarks in The Equinox of the Gods (written in 1921) address this directly:
I lay claim to be the sole authority competent to decide disputed points with
regard to The Book of the Law, seeing that its Author, Aiwaz, is none other
than mine own Holy Guardian Angel, to Whose Knowledge and Conversa-tion I have attained,
so that I have exclusive access to Him. I have duly referred
every difficulty to Him directly, and received His answer; my award is absolute
Crowley’s MS. correction should be viewed in this light.
I have yet to hear a truly plausible explanation for Crowley’s correction to the Crowley-Windram Thelema in support of preserving the “fill me” reading. My best effort to construct one, given above, is not convincing.
What we do know is that the original “Spell called the Song” either read one way or the other, and he either quoted or he didn’t. He plainly says he did quote, and consistently published his source for the quotation with the “kill me” reading. Our best evidence to settle the longstanding discrepancy remains Crowley’s correction to his Thelema. It is provably from Crowley himself, and unlike other holograph evidence, is unquestionably directly on point, i.e., it shows him considering the problem and making a decision.
AL Liber Legis sub figura XXXI (April 1904)
Crowley discusses his insertions of the Stèle Paraphrases into Liber Legis in several places, which I will review here in the interests of thoroughness, and to underscore the evidence for Crowley’s understanding of the insertions as quotations from an external text that he had written himself. His earliest mention of them is in his “Old” Commentary to Liber Legis, begun around March 1909 and finished around October 1911, and published in The Equinox I(7) (March 1912). At p. 388 he describes the first insertion, into Liber Legis I:14:
This verse is a direct translation of the first section of the stèle.
And again, from the “Old” Comment, at p. 400, discussing III:37–38:
Mostly translations from the stèle.
As elsewhere, his emphasis is that these are insertions of his versified translations. The qualifica-tion “mostly” applies to the introductory language in III:37 and III:38 preceding the poetic quota-tions in each verse.
In The Temple of Solomon the King, The Equinox I(7) (1912), p. 381, he gives his earliest detailed account of his writing of the poetry of the Stèle Paraphrase. We know from Liber Legis itself that these were written in a vellum notebook:
During the period March 23rd–April 8th, whatever else may have happened, it
is at least certain that work was continued to some extent, that the inscriptions
of the stèle were translated for Fra. P., and that he paraphrased the latter in
verse. For we find him using, or prepared to use, the same in the text of Liber
Crowley wrote a fairly detailed account on the handling of the special editorial cases that cropped up in Liber Legis that was first published in The Equinox of the Gods (1936):
6. The Editing of the Book.
“Change not so much as the style of a letter” in the text saved me from Crow-ley-fying the whole Book, and spoiling everything.
The MS. shows what has been done, and why, as follows:
A. On page 6 Aiwaz instructs me to “write this (what he had just said) in whiter words,” for my mind rebelled at His phrase. He added at once “But go forth on,” i.e., with His utterance, leaving the emenda-tion until later.
B. On page 19 I failed to hear a sentence, and (later on) the Scarlet Woman, invoking Aiwass, wrote in the missing words. (How? She was not in the room at the time, and heard nothing.)
C. Page 20 of Cap. III, I got a phrase indistinctly, and she put it in, as for “B.”
D. The versified paraphrase of the hieroglyphs on the Stèle being ready, Aiwaz allowed me to insert these later, so as to save time.
These four apart, the MS. is exactly as it was written on those three days.
The Critical Recension will explain these points as they occur.
The problem of the literary form of this Book is astonishingly complex;
but the internal evidence of the sense is usually sufficient to make it clear, on
inspection, as to who is speaking and who is being addressed.
There was, however, no actual voice audible save that of Aiwaz. Even my
own remarks made silently were incorporated by him audibly, wherever such
In his verse-by-verse “Critical Recension” in the same chapter, Crowley discusses the verses that drew on his Stèle paraphrase poetry:
[Chapter I] Verse 14 is from the Stèle. It seems to have been written in by me as a kind of appreciation of what she had just said.
The MS. of Liber XXXI for I:14 has the following phrase in ink:
V. 1. of Spell called the Song.
This is (like the contentious note ending in “fill me”) one of Crowley’s notes describing what material to insert from the Stèle Paraphrase. Crowley uses the same convention to specify an insertion in the Cairo-period “Ritual B2”; see Magick (Book 4, Parts I-IV), appendix 8. Although written in ink and not pencil, the note itself did not enter Liber CCXX, and it directs that the first “verse” (i.e., stanza) of the Paraphrase should be inserted later (i.e., in typescript, as the Paraphrase text does not appear in the MS.). It also shows that when Crowley said “written in by me” in his Equinox of the Gods account, he meant that he inserted (or more likely, had a typist insert) the poetry into what became Liber CCXX at a later stage. The substitution of the first stanza of the Paraphrase for the text “V. 1 of Spell called the Song” in Liber CCXX should be a clear example of the importance Crowley attached to these editorial directions.
His “Critical Recension” continues with a passage (quoted and discussed in a prior memo) that discusses the verses with the Paraphrase that appear in Liber Legis Chapter III:
Verse 35 states simply that section one of this chapter is completed. I seem to have become enthusiastic, for there is a kind of interlude report-ed by Aiwaz of my song of adoration translated from the Stèle; the incident parallels that of chapter I, verse 26 [sic], etc. It is to be noted that the translations from the Stèle in verses 37–38 were no more than instantaneous thoughts to be inserted afterwards. Verse 38 begins with my address to the God in the first sentence, while in the second is his reply to me. He then refers to the hieroglyphs of the Stèle, and bids me quote my paraphrases. This order was given by a species of word-less gesture, not visible or audible, but sensible in some occult manner.
(As a side-note, I think it is obvious that “chapter I, verse 26” is a typo for “chapter I, verse 14.” I endnoted this over-cautiously as a likely typo in Magick (Liber ABA), but there can be no serious doubt that I:14 is referred to.)
It is interesting that III:37 begins
I adore thee in the song:—
as we again see the Paraphrase poetry being referred to as a “song,” as it was in Crowley’s aide-memoire note for I:14, quoted above.
In a prior memo I drew attention to the above-quoted passage from The Equinox of the Gods to emphasize Crowley’s understanding that he was obeying an “order” to “quote” his poetic Para-phrase of the Stèle hieroglyphs.
What actually happened? About the Liber Legis reception generally, Crowley said that there was “no actual voice audible save that of Aiwaz. Even my own remarks made silently were incorporat-ed by him audibly, wherever such occur.” But he is here referring to the back-and-forth that often occurred, not the interludes with the Stèle Paraphrase quotations, which he describes separately as follows.
Crowley makes it clear that the Paraphrases or Songs were not read out during the dictation—their insertion was indicated nonverbally, and on his own testimony, the “fill me” reading cannot be attributed to the dictation of Aiwass. In his discussion of III:38 he says that “He [Aiwass] then refers to the hieroglyphs of the Stèle, and bids me quote my paraphrases. This order was given by a species of wordless gesture, not visible or audible, but sensible in some occult manner.” His discussion of the quotations in III:37–38 in the prior paragraph as “no more than instantaneous thoughts to be inserted afterwards” make it clear that both verses were the result of the order, which he described as a “wordless gesture, not visible or audible.” In III:38 Aiwass (or as he later spelled his name, Aiwaz) clearly credits Crowley with the authorship of the “Spell of the Song” Stèle poetry, in Liber Legis III:38: “these are the adorations, as thou hast written”.
In III:37 he initially wrote, in ink, “Unity &c.” At some point—possibly after the conclusion of the session—he added in pencil
“I am the Lord of Thebes” &c from vellum book —— fill me.”
This may have been a later note to the Cairo typist (his other insertion note, to I:14, was entirely in ink). As a matter of common sense, you have to wonder why Crowley would bother to identify the source as a “vellum book.” He knew perfectly well where he had written his poem, and for that matter, he had at least two other vellum books on hand that we know about. This suggests that that this may have been a direction to a typist to consult a particular vellum book that he had placed with the MS. for typing. Another reason the note was not likely to have been addressed to himself is that the stopping-point for the quoted poetry in III:37 is obvious from the next instruction to quote, with the starting-point indicated, for the poetry in verse III:38. Although I have described his notes as “aide-memoires” in past memos, this now appears to be incorrect; the instructions seem to have been intended by Crowley for someone other than himself, i.e., a typist.
Crowley’s conversations with Norman Mudd from 1924 discuss Liber AL in several passages. These were published from a 1970s transcription in “Conversations with Crowley,” The Magical Link I(10) Feb./March 1988, p.
ingly few in The Equinox I(7) itself (cf. “Liber Had,” The Temple of Solomon the King and “LiberLegis: The Comment”).
Liber L proofs for Collected Works III (1907)
Crowley’s only reference to these proofs is in The Temple of Solomon the King, The Equinox I(10) (1913), p. 97, which has: “He even attempted to publish Liber Legis and the 30th and 29th Æthyrs which he had obtained in Mexico, with sceptical commentary.”
Fuller and Crowley corresponded for several years before they finally met in 1907. In the Mudd conversations of 1924, Crowley recalls having sent Fuller The Book of the Law:
Competition date leading to acquaintance with Fuller 1904–5. Met Fuller early in 1907. Star in the West published in 1907/8 about.
What was sent to Fuller as Book of the Law? Presumably typescript.
Crowley may have been wrong about this being the typescript. There are four collections of Fuller’s papers, at Kings College (U. London), Senate House Library (U. London), at Rutgers University Special Collections, and the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin. The only early copy of Liber Legis appears in the proofs for Collected Works III at UT Austin. It is however possible that Fuller also had one of the three Cairo typescripts, and that it was used in the production of Thelema in 1908–09 and not returned, or somehow lost otherwise.
A digression is necessary to address the absence of most of the texts quoted in Collected Works III in the account of the Cairo Working in The Temple of Solomon the King in The Equinox I(7). The original plan for The Temple of Solomon the King was for Fuller to write up Crowley’s magi-cal career, relying on his papers, and serialize this through the various numbers of The Equinox. Fuller’s falling-out with Crowley in 1910 ended his involvement. However, Fuller had apparently turned in some work for the Cairo Working account in The Equinox I(7); the introductory sections seem to be his writing, and Crowley did acknowledge his contribution to that installment.
Once the account gets into the details in the longer, later sections, the character of the writing changes. The chronological account of the Cairo Working with the extensive quotations appears to be Crowley’s work; this is supported by the textual sources used. The Temple of Solomon the King from spring 1912 made no use of the important materials that went into the 1907 Collected Works proofs: the French “under-curator” translation, the biographically important typescript title-page, or the “The Great Invocation.” All are conspicuous by their absence. This was for the simple rea-son that Fuller retained these materials after his break with Crowley; the proofs, the French MS. “under-curator” translation of the Stèle hieroglyphs and the Liber L title page came to form part of his personal collection, as documented in its sale catalog, Bibliotheca Crowleyana (Keith Hogg, 1966). After Fuller’s hostile break, these papers were therefore no longer available to Crowley for use in telling his story. Crowley relied on his personal manuscript collection for his day-by-day account of the Cairo Working, i.e., the two key Cairo vellum notebooks known as Yorke OS23 and OS26, as well as the vellum notebook with his poetic Paraphrase of the Stèle. All of this material appeared in The Equinox I(7) for the first time.
“The Great Invocation” proofs for Collected Works III (1907)
The MS. of the “Great Invocation” is not extant. It is only known from the Collected Works III proofs, and a mention in a later note to another ritual written in 1906 (as discussed below). It uses terms from Liber Legis, so it clearly postdates its reception, but it unclear when it was written. It may have been written in Cairo or after the Crowleys returned to Boleskine, but it is possible that Crowley wrote it in 1906 and failed to record the fact, as he relates it to another ritual that is defi-nitely datable to 1906.
In the spring of 1906 Crowley took up Liber Legis again and made attempts (through Elaine Simpson Witkowski, or Soror Fidelis, to use the short form of her motto) to renew contact with Aiwass. He wrote “The True Greater Ritual of the Pentagram” in May 1906, which draws upon the Stèle for names and symbolism, and quotes one stanza of the Paraphrase as used in AL III:38, with slight spelling variations (“The Light is mine” etc. through “I am Thy Theban, O Mentu, the Prophet Ankh-f-na-khonsu.”) He also began work on his “Old” Comment to Liber Legis in this period. Crowley later (probably ca. 1909–10) added a note to the end of the “True Greater Ritual”: “I should insert the ‘Great Invocation’ printed at the end of Liber Legis in the Ballantyne Hanson proofs.”
This note, with another, “Use in proper place,” were almost certainly addressed to Fuller for his work on The Temple of Solomon the King. The notes suggest that Crowley sent Fuller the “True Greater Ritual of the Pentagram” along with the Collected Works proofs and related papers. It also became part of his collection and is now at UT Austin.
Liber L proofs, Thelema (1908)
These proofs are dated October 1908 and were preserved by J.F.C. Fuller, but they were clearly not the only set used. Comparison to Thelema (1909) will show changes not marked in these proofs (e.g., in the table above for the Paraphrase quotations, “veiled” becomes “veiléd” and “self slain” becomes “self-slain”). A facing-page spread is missing from the research photocopy in O.T.O. Archives, as noted in the table, but this is unlikely to be material to the present discussion. These proofs are reproduced for research purposes here in a separate file released with this memo.
Liber L, Thelema (1909)
According to Crowley, Thelema appeared in 1909. Surviving page proofs “Liber Ararita” in its third volume are dated January 1909, and this volume was still in press when The Equinox I(1) appeared in spring 1909; see the mention near the end of “John St. John.” Most copies were issued in three volumes on Japon vellum bound in parchment-wrapped cream colored boards with gilt stamping.
Crowley discussed Thelema and its reliance on a Cairo typescript in his conversations with Nor-man Mudd, quoted in a prior memo and in the preface to The Holy Books of Thelema (1983).
A copy of Liber L from Thelema, proofread by myself to show the changes made in the 1913 Equinox setting, is released with this memo as a separate file. This modern comparison highlights the problems in the Cairo typescript, and flags many literal errors that Crowley would never havemade if typing the book himself. It is clear that Crowley had hired a typist in Cairo, and that the typist had difficulty with his handwriting. The proofreading marks in this modern comparison reading were made in a photocopy of what was my personal copy of Thelema in three volumes, since donated to the O.T.O. Archives; the original book was not marked up.
An Evocation of Bartzabel, MS. (April–May 1910)
This ritual’s composition can be reliably dated as it refers internally to Leila Waddell as Soror Agatha who joined AßAß on April 1, 1910; it was performed in May 1910. It may have been writ-ten in Venice. It was published in The Equinox I(9) (1913) as noted in the table, where the text was simplified somewhat from the original MS. At some point a now-lost typescript had been prepared for the typesetters for its Equinox publication, probably by an Equinox editor or staff typist.
“Bartzabel” quotes the stanza with the reading “fill me” as it appears in Liber Legis III:37 in The-lema with minor variations. As discussed elsewhere, I believe this use of “fill” predated his revisita-tion of the original vellum book for the preparation of the publication of the Stèle facsimile and Paraphrase as they appeared in spring 1912. As discussed below, I think that the “kill” correction in his personal copy of Thelema must have been made after May 1910, which is the latest date on which Crowley can be proven to have personally used the “fill” reading, i.e., in the “Bartzabel” MS.
To take Crowley’s holograph use of “fill me” in the MS. of “Bartzabel” as his last provable (i.e., in his handwriting) word on the subject, and to accept it as proof that he accepted the “fill me” reading in Thelema as correct, we have to date his known correction to “kill me” to a period prior to “Bartzabel,” and doing so requires some unprovable assumptions and asks that we disregard evidence to the contrary.
I think it possible that, when writing “Bartzabel” in May 1910, Crowley had simply forgotten that his Stèle Paraphrase had originally read “kill me,” and working fast, copied out the wording in Thelema with slight variants, or was writing from memory of his readings in Thelema. The MS. of “Bartzabel” does have a white heat quality about the writing.
The three pages of the 1910 MS. of the ritual that reproduce parts of the Stèle paraphrase are given in an accompanying file.
Liber L, Thelema (1909-10) with corrections by A.C. ca. 1912?
The special one-volume Morocco binding of Thelema appears to have been issued up to a year later than the regular three-volume issue of 1909. Though the printing on the animal vellum sheets was almost certainly done around the same time as the regular Japon vellum printing, they were clearly stored in sheets or perhaps folded signatures awaiting individual binding.
The Crowley-Windram one-volume copy might have been produced as early as summer 1909 or as late as summer 1910. It was presumably bound before the other one-volume copies, so his copy has been dated to 1909–10 in the table. While his copy has no date on the binding, the two other surviving examples known to O.T.O. in private collections are stamped Zæhnsdorf at the bottom of the front inside board with the years 1910 and 1913, respectively. Copies were still of-fered for sale in an advertisement (that never got further than proof) at the back of The Giant’s Thumb (proofs 1915). Their low sales were no doubt due to their high cost, at 50 guineas (£52/10,or about $6,500 in 2012 dollars). The value of the book (or its high replacement cost at the time) shows that Crowley was making a handsome gift to to Windram—he was not disposing of a cast-off he no longer needed.
My tentative dating of c. 1912 for the “fill” to “kill” correction in the Crowley-Windram Thelema is based on his publication of the Stèle Paraphrase in spring 1912, which also carries the “kill” reading, but the correction may have been made somewhat earlier; e.g., if he had prepared the Cairo Working installment of The Temple of Solomon the King in 1911. The “kill” correction was almost certainly made to his Thelema after May 1910, the latest date on which he personally (veri-fiably) used the “fill” reading, in his MS. for “An Evocation of Bartzabel.”
Scans of all of the annotations and corrections from the Crowley-Windram Thelema with Crowley’s corrections are given in a separate file. These are provided in full to give the most com-plete possible context for evaluating Crowley’s “kill me” correction. Some but not all of the an-notations relate to entries in Crowley’s “Old” Commentary to Liber Legis, written c. 1909–11 and published in The Equinox I(7) (1912).
NOTE: One of the annotations—to the faulty reading “children of the prophet” in Liber Legis—gives the birthdays of the three children that Crowley claimed at the time he made the note, which could have been anytime between late October 1909 until he gave away the book. The first two birthdates are for his two daughters by Rose (one birthdate is a day off from the public register but the intent is clear). The third birthday served as confirmation of a theory that I had been develop-ing for Confessions in recent years. This requires a digression and a warning.
In chap. 65 of Confessions, Crowley claimed that the “usual evidence” to provide cause for his divorce from Rose was manufactured, implying that this was done by mutual agreement. This has generally been accepted by biographers, and some (but not all) biographers have been led by J.F.C. Fuller’s misdating of a surviving clipping about the Edinburgh divorce proceedings to place the divorce in 1910 rather than 1909. See for example the transcript in the clippings section of the ex-cellent 100th Monkey bibliography site, which gives 1910 in error—a good example of a century-old typo tripping up more than one highly capable scholar. The trial testimony reproduced in the clipping gives an account (given in fuller form elsewhere) of Rose’s and the family maid’s testimo-ny that Crowley had an affair with a young woman or girl named Zwee, and that a child was born of the affair. Rose testifies that she met the mother and child—even that Crowley had asked her to take the child to Boleskine along with their daughter.
In my Confessions research I had confirmed that a child was born to a Jennie Zwee in October 1909, the month before the Crowley divorce trial, and had noted that there was no father listed. I also found that the birth was reregistered in 1948, relying on a 1926 illegitimacy act that permitted retrospective legitimization. The reregistration took place less than six months after Crowley died and named the man—we will call him Mr. Smith—that Jennie Zwee married the year after the child’s birth. But this evidence, strong as it was, did not prove that Crowley considered the child to be his. That proof was provided by this marginal note to Thelema, which gives the correct birth-date for the boy, whose forenames were Maurice Cyril, in 1909.
I am deliberately not giving Jennie Zwee’s married name here. It is the surname of her descen-dants, and it is a small family and an uncommon surname. Also, we should bear in mind that all that we really know is that Crowley had an affair with a girl (Jennie Zwee was seventeen at the time, eighteen at the birth), and that Crowley (and Rose as well) believed the child to be his. But this may not have been the case. For all we know, she was dating two men, one of whom happened to be married, and got pregnant—this happens all the time. It is possible that, in the end, she mar-ried the actual father. I do know that she raised a fine son, was by all appearances responsible, leav-ing a good-sized bequest to her son on her passing.
I have made attempts to contact the family, as this information will someday inevitably enter the public domain and I thought they had a right to know. As a matter of respect for family privacy, please, should anyone replicate my public records research, please do not post the identity of the family to the internet or publish the surname. For my part, I will not publish the surname in Confes-sions—or anywhere else—without first obtaining the permission of a family member.
Some descendants of Crowley of my acquaintance find being his descendant amusing, some kind of cool, but others are less than happy about it. And it is, after all, none of our business, be-yond a scholarly duty to ascertain what actually happened during Crowley’s lifetime.
As a related matter, the recently-released 1911 census shows Rose Crowley living with her daughter and two servants (one of which is a nurse, probably a nurse-governess for the child) in a nice block of flats overlooking Battersea Park. She was clearly still coldly furious at Crowley—she declared herself a widow on completing the census form, which is in her hand. Her nurse amend-ed her status to divorced before it was sent in. This goes against the myth that she was institution-alized in an asylum after the dissolution of the marriage.
In fairness to our founding Scarlet Woman, all of the above taken together calls for a complete reevaluation of Crowley’s account of the last phases of his relationship with Rose.
Stèle Paraphrase, Equinox I(7) (March 1912)
As noted in prior memos, this publication, which was accompanied by the Stèle of Revealing in color facsimile, is the first publication of the “kill me” reading, which also appears in earlier mate-rial. It was later republished in photofacsimile from this 1912 issue of The Equinox in The Equinox of the Gods (1936).
As discussed above, Crowley always referred to this poetry as “The Spell called the Song,” e.g. in the MS. of Liber Legis, “Ritual B2” and the opening to “Ritual CXX.” In some of my hypothetical discussions of the history of the usage of this text, I theorized that a TS. had been made in Cairo of “The Spell called the Song.” In some theories, the existence of a lost source like this hypothetical TS. was necessary in order to make them work at all. There is however no physical evidence that this was done. All we know is that Crowley had the full text of “The Spell called the Song” available to him at various times.
Highly relevant to this 1912 publication is the discussion above, under the MS. of Liber Legis, of an important passage from Crowley’s 1924 conversations with Norman Mudd, repeated here for convenience:
March 1912. No. 7 Equinox published.
Quotations therefrom earlier than publication of facsimile. In transcription of the MSS. there appear passages not in the MSS. “I adore thee in the song.” “Under-curator translation.”
“abstruction.” Replica made subsequently.
As noted above, the Cairo typist was not very good, so one should perhaps expect some differ-ences between “The Spell called the Song” in the vellum book and the version that was copied into the Cairo typescript of Liber Legis in 1904. But the most noticable differences between the 1912Stèle Paraphrase as published and earlier sources like Thelema cannot be put down to the Cairo typist. Besides “fill” vs. “kill,” the biggest difference would be the 1912 spelling Ankh-f-n-Khonsu, rather than Ankh-af-na-khonsu, as it presumably appeared in the Cairo typescript, and as it ap-pears in Thelema (1909).
The name also appears as Ankh-af-na-khonsu in the MS. of Crowley’s 1908 “John St. John” di-ary, as published in The Equinox I(1) (1909), special supplement, pp. 134–135. Notably, Crowley was there quoting a section of the Paraphrase that is not quoted in Liber Legis, suggesting that he may have had the vellum notebook with him in Paris in 1908. Crowley first made the transition to Ankh-f-n-khonsu when writing “An Evocation of Bartzabel” in 1910.
This was probably due to Crowley editing the Egyptian transliteration for his own poem, and possibly writing from memory. Such editing should not surprise us—it should be borne in mind that there is no evidence that Crowley considered the Stèle Paraphrase as such to be Class A. If he had, he would have described it as “received” and published it with that imprimatur, listing it ap-propriately in the curricula. Even Aiwass (or as he later spelled his name, Aiwaz) credited Crowley with the authorship of “The Spell called the Song” Stèle poetry, in Liber Legis III:38: “these are the adorations, as thou hast written”.
Also, Crowley was an amateur linguist who never had a problem with modernizing his foreign-language transliterations into English (see his early publications and compare The Temple of Solomon the King). He understood that, in normal usage, they were merely conventions for com-municating a foreign language. Finally, in this period he was friendly with the Egyptologist Bat-tiscombe Gunn, who may even have joined the AßAß, or flirted with it. In a discussion of various students in his editorial to The Equinox I(8) (1911), p. xxiv, Crowley describes Gunn at the end of a long discussion of various friends, students and colleagues:“think of H., who had to shave off the loveliest red beard to show what a lovely chin he had” (the identification of Gunn comes from an annotated copy in a private collection). Gunn may have advised or influenced Crowley on the “af-na” usage, though “f-na” can be found in the Cairo period notebooks, as shown in his “Name-Coincidences of the Qabalah” quoted in The Temple of Solomon the King in The Equinox I(7) and later in The Equinox of the Gods. Battiscombe Gunn’s own translation (done with Alan Gardiner)
in the same source has the form “f-na.”
As noted in the discussion of the Collected Works III proofs, J.F.C. Fuller had been the primary author of The Temple of Solomon the King until his falling out with Crowley in December 1910, when Crowley told him that he would produce the installment for No. 5 himself. This is why The Temple of Solomon the King carried filler material in No. 5, spring 1910, and nothing at all in No. 6, fall 1910. Fuller had probably started work on his Cairo Working installment in 1910, but Crowley had to finish it, and as noted under the discussions of the proofs for Liber L and “The Great Invo-cation” in the Collected Works III (1907), Crowley lost some primary material for his account of the Cairo Working to Fuller, who apparently was angry enough with Crowley to keep his papers.
Crowley’s Cairo Working account did not appear until The Equinox I(7) in spring 1912. While the Stèle Paraphrase is dated c. spring 1912 in the table on the basis of its first publication, it is possible that Crowley prepared it for publication in 1911.
Ritual CXX, Of Passing through the Tuat, fair copy MS. with new opening (ca. 1912?)
This document is also known as “Liber Cadaveris,” the original Zelator ritual for AßAß, which survives in Yorke Collection notebook OS26. As discussed in a prior memo (with MS. pages re-produced), the MS. for the opening for this ritual has the “kill me” reading. Crowley’s newly-com-posed opening and closing appear (in his “composing” hand) just prior to a transcription copy (in his neat “fair copy” hand) of a pre-existing version of “Ritual CXX.” The text of the “Ritual CXX” proper appears to have been taken from an earlier copy prepared at Oxford in October 1909, men-tioned in a Crowley letter to J.F.C. Fuller, quoted below, and the new opening and closing appear tohave been written c. 1912.
In my point by point what-if analysis trying to make the “fill me” reading work, “Argument A,” I tried very hard to push back the date of this MS. before “An Evocation of Bartzabel” in April-May 1910. But on reviewing the available evidence again I find that that theory calls for far too many assumptions. This is a ritual that underwent too many revisions—we don’t even know exactly how many—to jump to dating conclusions. There is also no evidence that it was ever truly considered finished. What we do know is that Crowley took loving steps to preserve the one MS. we have in late 1912—embellishing it with seals and so on, and that it is very possibly the last version written.
“Passing through the Tuat” or “Ritual CXX” has a long and sometimes obscure history that dates back to the Cairo Working, and like the related “Liber DCLXXI vel Pyramidos,” the ritual for the preceding AßAß grade of Neophyte, it went through many revisions. Unlike “Pyramidos” there is no surviving finalized version with an imprimatur, and no typescript.
“Liber DCLXXI vel Pyramidos” was written during the 1908 Paris “John St. John” retirement. Its final group version “DCLXXI vel ThROA” gives some idea of the revision process for these rituals:
The skeleton of the ritual was laid down (adapted from the 0°=0· of GßDß)
by G.H. Fra. D.D.S. on [Equi]nox [Libra] preceding, written out in sketch by
G.H. Fra. O.M. on 30th Sept., and revised by him on 7th Oct. and other dates.
The final draft was submitted by O.M. to D.D.S.; and together did they consult,
making slight alterations. This present printed ritual has received the Impri-
matur of P.N. V.V.V.V.V. 8°=3· Magister Templi on [Equi]nox [Libra] 1908.
Crowley’s intent to write what became “Ritual CXX” went back to the Cairo Working and its aftermath. The 1904 notebook Yorke Collection OS23 has sections dealing with the “Ritual of Passing through the Waters” and “Ritual of Passing through the Earth.” These skeletal ritual notes, with other notes in this notebook and the related Cairo notebook OS27, give the backbone of the theogony for “Ritual CXX” as later elaborated, which intimately involved the Stèle and The Book of the Dead.
In 1908 Crowley wrote “Liber XIII vel Graduum Montis Abiegni” (published in The Equinox I(3) (1910)), which mentions the “Ritual CXX,” though the practices specified were meditation-practices and not the ritual per se (see e.g. “Liber HHH,” §AAA, The Equinox I(5)). Crowley had an early draft in 1908, as he writes to J.F.C. Fuller on December 28, 1908: “I have another the ‘Ritual of passing through the Tuat.’” An early form of the ritual is also mentioned in the 8th Æthyr of Liber 418, The Vision and the Voice, written on December 8, 1909, which has “Or, if it be possible, let this invocation be performed in a temple prepared for the ritual of passing through the Tuat.” Thisearly form had a particular temple design that is not present in the later version, but was based on
Crowley’s understanding, at the time, of Liber Legis III:10:
Get the stélé of revealing itself; set it in thy secret temple—and that temple is already aright disposed—& it shall be your Kiblah for ever.
His comment (The Equinox I(7) (1912), p. 399) reads:
The stèle of revealing—see illustration.
That temple; it was arranged as an octagon; its length double its breadth;
entrances on all four quarters of the temple; enormous mirrors covering six of
the eight walls (there were no mirrors in the East and West or in the Western
halves of the South and North sides).
Crowley worked on the ritual again in late 1909 in Oxford, where he was working in the Bodle-ian Library. He may have consulted Egyptological sources while there. Crowley sent Fuller two typed letters from Oxford, the first dated October 30, 1909, and the second dated Sunday, probably October 31. The latter reads:
The Spirit of the Lord came upon me, and the Wings of the Most High over-shadowed me, and the design of the Holy Temple was delivered unto me, even upon a jasper stone flaming with the Divine Brilliance of the Holy Ones. This design I have humbly and faultily copied, and send to you herewith.
It hath this merit, that we can afford it with an effort; and this, that it will serve for all purposes; alike for DCLXXI and the ritual of the Tuat. Also for holy meditations and magical retirements, for a library and an office.
Upon this Ritual of Passing through the Tuat, by the way, I have been medi-tating. More, I have copied most of it, and hope to finish it tomorrow. Its place in the Scheme is uncertain until it has been submitted to the higher Authori-ties in a finished state. As you know, it is an Aiwass ritual.
But what I am writing about is to ask you to do a plan and elevation as roughly sketched herewith, to scale, well enough to ask for estimates. I will hunt around for a place big enough to put it in, and take it around to vari-ous firms for estimates, or get Rosher to do it. He is a quite trustworthy man, and very competent, if only you can tie him down to a definite agreement. We would ask Warren or Jones to see to that; if that were once settled, I think he would save money for us.
I will ask Raffalovich to do the house-hunting for me; he loves me just now.
It does not sound like he considered the ritual finished, however. The office/temple sketch does not survive, nor does the “plan and elevation” sketch, which was apparently for a seven-cubit (10.5 foot) porcelain boat that he hoped to build. Unless on wheels, this would have required an Olym-pic-sized indoor swimming pool to manage (which may be why he wanted Charles Rosher, Frater Æquo Animo, the blessed soul who invented the modern hot tub).
The sole surviving copy of this ritual is a further fair copy with the addition of a new open-ing and closing, and the physical evidence of the notebook in which it appears tends to date it to 1912, possibly late in the year. Crowley apparently wrote the new opening (which has the StèleParaphrase quotation) and recopied the ritual proper as written in Oxford in October 1909. The opening is written in his ritual writing hand, larger and very typical of his first drafts, while once the text of “Ritual CXX” proper begins, the MS. changes to his most careful fair-copy handwriting.
As for why Crowley might revisit “Ritual CXX” in late 1912, this may have been prepatory to the systematic review of the progress of the members of the AßAß that he conducted during late December 1912–January 1913, as documented in the early AßAß membership papers at Penn-sylvania State University Special Collections. He was probably trying to finalize the ritual in hopes of actually working it in group, as he was starting to do in London with the O.T.O. rituals. The AßAß records do prove that he was concerned with the question of the promotion of the mem-bership in the relevant period of 1912.
The physical evidence of notebook OS26 suggests that Crowley wrote the opening for “Ritual CXX” around 1912 before making a fair copy of the 1909 Oxford text of the ritual proper. It is the newly-written opening that uses the “kill me” reading, which would date this usage to c. 1912, a time frame that agrees with his parallel use in the publication of the Stèle Paraphrase in The Equi-nox in that year.
The physical characteristics of the notebook should be noted. The cover has, at the top, “Passing through Tuat” in one pen, and below that, written with a another pen, “This book is the Property of Aleister Crowley” with the address of the Hotel du Blois at 50 Rue Vavin and an crude sketch of a symbol for the ritual (a triangle, within which is a stick-person in what is presumably a solar bark, surmounted by an octagon). It has a page with memos (times and addresses in Paris) at the back, and a page with a note by Leila Waddell about five nightgowns in a dressing room, suggesting that she may have stayed with him in Paris while performing. The cover text and its first position in the notebook show that “Liber CXX” was written first, but there is nothing datable in the “Liber CXX” material or the cover text as such. It may well have been produced at the Hotel du Blois—he often got away to Paris to write, and as he stayed there every year from 1908 through 1914 (and again after WWI). The address appears on other Crowley MS. notebooks, and in and of itself cannot help with dating.
I have previously noted that some Crowley notebooks are anachronistic, with material sepa-rated by years appearing in different sections with no rhyme or reason beyond the availability of paper—e.g., one can find a brief 1907 diary entry in the middle of one of his Cairo notebooks, and his “Bartzabel” ritual is written in towards the middle from the back of an earlier notebook from 1907 that has notes for Konx Om Pax. However, the later additions in such notebooks are usually separated by blank page or pages, or have the later section written in from the back, i.e., by flipping the notebook. Above all, these usages are usually characterized by haste, informality and remote-ness—they were done in Boleskine, or Venice (where Bartzabel was probably written), or Cefalù—not the middle of Montparnasse. When he did this sort of thing he was making do with what was handy; he was not worried about creating a literary object.
He took much more care with the notebook OS26. Except for some sections that are new composition (like the “Ritual CXX” opening and some heavily revised or newly-written sections of Agape Azoth and later O.T.O. texts), notebook OS26 is meticulously written. “Ritual CXX” is immediately followed by the next paper, Liber C, Agape Azoth, and the texts run together contigu-ously with no intervening pages or flipping of the notebook. Agape Azoth is dated internally to November–December 1912. Except for its opening and closing, the MS. of “Ritual CXX” proper shows unmistakeable signs of being a fair copy, with only two insertions, and page after page of the most careful copying I’ve ever seen in a Crowley MS. Also, Liber C, Agape Azoth, provably wasa fair copy, at least for a great many sections, as the earlier notebook with its first draft survives. Finally, “Ritual CXX” opens with a metallic gold blind-stamped seal with the lamen of the AßAß on its title-page and ends with one after its last page, and these seals were clearly affixed before the writing of Agape Azoth, which similarly has a metallic blind-stamped gold seal and is datable to November–December 1912. These seals were made by Benjamin Charles Hammond, a profes-sional engraver and an early O.T.O. member, and thus they cannot pre-date 1912. This common feature tends to confirm that the two MSS. are contemporary, or nearly, as Hammond did engrav-ing for Crowley from 1912 into 1915.
Issues involving “Ritual CXX” and its correct reading (i.e., “fill me” or “kill me”) have been clouded by faulty well-intended amateur scholarship. In the early 1980s the then Grand Secretary General of the O.T.O., Lola de Wolfe, visited the Yorke Collection and made a transcription of “Ritual CXX” from notebook OS26. She cites it as Notebook 26 in her transcription, as her visit predated the accession of the New Series material in the Yorke Collection, i.e. there was no Old Se-ries or OS as such at the time. In making her typed transcription, which is in the O.T.O. Archives, Sister Lola expanded the abbreviated Stèle paraphrases, and changed the “kill” that appears in OS26 reading to “fill.” She was defaulting to the traditional Liber Legis reading—acting as I believe The Equinox editors did, and for the same reason. This version circulated in typescript in the Bay Area and inevitably migrated elsewhere.
The true history of this ritual was further clouded by less excusable editorial practices. Its publication with Crowley’s “Constitution of the Order of Thelemites” by a bootlegger in the UK, Nuit/Hadit Press relied on the De Wolfe transcription or a data copy, though this is not cited. This edition (which we lack here) apparently included an unsigned introduction that is included in the online version with no clear distinction as to when it ends, and the Crowley text begins. It unfor-tunately created an artificial linkage between the ritual and the much later Constitution, giving a false impression that the booklet relied on a typescript source that had the texts combined.
“The Constitution of the Order of Thelemites” was an organizational template created for James Thomas Windram by Crowley in the early 1920s. While it is true that it made the Grade of Zela-tor a prerequisite for certain functions, it has no other connection with “Ritual CXX,” and the two works do not survive together in a single typescript. Windram no doubt had a copy of the “Consti-tution” but there is no evidence that he ever had a copy of “Ritual CXX.”
An Evocation of Bartzabel, The Equinox I(9) (March 1913)
ing the typescript. It may also be, as with Liber Legis in the fall 1913 issue, evidence of the appar-ent tendency of the Equinox editors to default to Thelema, rather than the Stèle facsimile with the Paraphrase from 1912, in checking readings of the Paraphrase.
Liber L, The Equinox I(10) (1913)
Scans of a printed copy of Thelema 1909, proofread by myself to show the changes made from Thelema for his 1913 Equinox setting are provided in a separate PDF file with this memo.
As noted in an earlier memorandum, the change from “ecstasy” to “ecstacy” suggests that Mary Desti, an American, may have worked on the proofs. Crowley’s letter of September 1, 1913, to Equinox sub-editor Victor Neuburg about the need to carefully read this new edition against the MS., is also reproduced in an earlier memorandum.
While the text of the Paraphrase in Liber Legis was changed between Thelema and the 1913 Liber Legis to conform the Egyptian names Nuith and Hadith to the their spellings elsewhere in Liber AL, Crowley never altered the “Ankh-af-na-khonsu” form in Liber Legis, even in the quota-tions from the Paraphrase. He preserved this form on the title-page of the Tunis AL (Liber Legis) sub figura XXXI (1926). However, the Short Comment in the Tunis Liber Legis (1926) and in The Equinox of the Gods (1936) both have “Ankh-f-n-khonsu.”
Some commentators have noticed that the Stèle poetry, as quoted in the edition of Liber Legis published in 1913, is textually close to Collected Works 1907 and Thelema 1909. This appears to be correct, and suggests that Liber Legis 1913 had not been proofed against the vellum book, and possibly not against the printed Paraphrase in The Equinox I(7) either, but instead, had been read against a copy of Thelema 1909. The correction for “to stir me or to still me” > “to stir me or still me” was made, which suggests that the editors had access to the Crowley-Windram copy, or an-other personal or office copy that had this correction.
General instructions from Crowley to be faithful to the MS. could account for the default to the “fill” reading, and this might also account for the important changes made from “Nuith” to “Nuit” and “Hadith” to “Hadit.” Given such an an instruction to try to conform to the MS., an editor could easily justify defaulting to the previously printed “fill” reading on finding it in the MS. note, which is (as noted in an earlier memo) probably how the reading entered the Cairo typescript in the first place. As this default to the reading in the note is, in essence, the gist of the most commonly-met argument against adopting the “kill” reading, it should not surprise us that reasonable typists/copyists/editors had defaulted to it once, and perhaps twice, in the past.
That said, the default to “fill” does not look like a decision that Crowley would have made himself, to judge from the 1912 Paraphrase, and his use of the “kill” reading in two texts we know he wrote or proofed carefully (“Ritual CXX” and The Giant’s Thumb). This also suggests that he delegated the proofreading of Liber Legis in 1913. He did however add two footnotes to the text. I am sure that we all wish he had added one more!
This 1913 setting became the template for all later printings supervised by Crowley. The big editorial decisions that governed all future printings were made in fall 1913. The later editions of 1936 and 1938 simply replicated these with varying degrees of success.
In a prior memo I discussed two copies of The Equinox I(10) that were annotated by Crowley. One, in a private collection, has no corrections to Liber Legis, but heavy annotations elsewhere in the number that date from ca. 1916–17 through his Cefalù period. For evidence of long ownership,handling and copious annotations by Crowley, this privately-owned copy is far more important than the other annotated copy, now in the Yorke Collection, that was sent to the printer for The Equinox of the Gods (1936). The latter has comparatively few annotations (they are listed in the endnotes I prepared for the Weiser two-volume reissue of Vol. I of The Equinox from 1998). Also, there is no evidence that the Yorke Collection copy was carefully proofread by Crowley or any-one else—recent claims that this constituted some sort of “master copy” are provably unfounded. His one correction to Liber Legis (“The tomb” > “the tomb” in III:34) sticks out as a fairly obvious howler (i.e., a correction that stands out typographically and is easily caught), and at least two other typos were missed, “ecstacy” for “ecstasy” in II:21 and “though” for “through” in III:43.
As late as the early 1930s, Crowley owned what appears to have been a separately bound copy of Liber Legis from the 1913 Equinox printing. Many students in that period took pages from num-bers of The Equinox for various papers and had them custom bound (we have examples of this in the Archives from Frater Achad and Windram). Crowley wrote to Karl Germer on November 2, 1933 to ask him to retrieve his “No. 10 Liber AL” from Martha Küntzel along with other books and papers; whether he secured its return is not definitely known. It was not among the books shipped to the U.S. after his death. Whether this was a long-kept copy he had owned for decades, and had annotations and corrections, is not known.
Paraphrase, The Giant’s Thumb, galley proofs (June 1915)
This poetry anthology was probably started in 1914, before Crowley left for America, and the typesetting was completed in June 1915, by which time Crowley was living in New York and was trying to interest the New York publisher Mitchell Kennerley in his work (hence the Kennerley imprint). The proofs are dated internally by the printers, in MS. notes, to June 1915. The text of the Paraphrase appears to have been taken directly from The Equinox I(7). As discussed below, in the discussion of his corrections, Crowley kept the proofs for many years, and the bound proofs even-tually came into the possession of Gerald Yorke, and are now in the Yorke Collection.
Paraphrase, The Giant’s Thumb, corrections by A.C. (in or after June 1915)
Most of Crowley’s proofreading corrections date from June 1915 to 1916 at the latest. The printers, Ballantyne Hanson in Edinburgh, with an office and possibly compositors in London as well, went out of business in 1916, so there would have been no point in making corrections to the typogra-phy at any later point. The marginal “slips” (characters dropping out, jumping their baselines, mis-aligned margins, etc.) show that the type was actual metal, not Monotype or Linotype hot-metal slugs. Printers would not keep “standing type” of this kind indefinitely, as they needed to reuse the font’s type characters for other jobs. In any event, any “standing” unprinted jobs stalled in proof would have been caught up in the printing company’s liquidation or acquisition in 1916.
This unique copy of the bound proofs became a sort of “working copy” of a planned book. Crowley continued to make corrections and edits in later years; these may have included further corrections to some poems. There are long, datably late notes and revisions to the Preface, “The Vindication of Nietzsche,” that give Crowley’s post-WWI views on the war and Germany. These show that Crowley retained the proofs well into into the 1920s, and probably later.
Crowley’s markings to the Paraphrase in The Giant’s Thumb show that he read its entire text in 1915. It is reasonable to infer from this that he again approved the “kill me” reading. This set of proofs is unusual in that it shows Crowley working very hard on the proofreading; many other poems in this book have heavy corrections—see for example the examples following here.
These pages were not selected for heavy corrections—there are many with far more. Instead, I reproduce all pages with corrections using the same letters (“t,” “r” and “k”) as in the Crowley-Windram Thelema, to help with the verification of Crowley’s handwriting.
The Confessions of Aleister Crowley, vol. III, appendix, proofs (London: Mandrake Press, 1929–30)
The Confessions was to have been six volumes, with a theoretical seventh volume announced for subscribers, but only two appeared, in 1929. Crowley was still at work on the third volume when the press went out of business, but the volume was set in type, and proofs for most of the main text, though not all of the intended appendix concerning The Book of the Law, have survived. One section of this appendix was typeset (easily identifiable by the distinctive font used for this edition, Poliphilus), and survives as a set of bound proofs in the Yorke Collection—in the books catalog, not the MS. Catalog.
This unique set of proofs was first noted by Timothy d’Arch Smith in his Books of the Beast (1987) but dated to 1927, relying on a note by Yorke, who may have worked on the project for Crowley, or handled its original transcription (now lost). The typography itself was probably done in 1929–30, during the preparation for the publication of Confessions vol. III. I cite it in an endnote discussing the MS. of Liber Legis in Magick.
The typography was designed to fit immediately below a facsimile of the holograph MS. of Liber Legis, which imposed some space limitations. These were probably the basis for Crowley’s incon-sistent handling of the quotations from the Stèle Paraphrase.
The original Confessions proof for the Liber Legis MS. page with verse I:14 inserts the poetry—notably, in editorial brackets. Another inconsistency is that he omits his original insertion instruc-tion “V. 1 of Spell called the Song” as it appears in the MS. There are minor variants, the most puzzling being the unique usage “wing’d.”
The proof for the MS. page with Liber Legis III:37–38 tries to transcribe the instructions for insertions verbatim; there are minor variants.
These proof pages are given in an accompanying file.
Liber AL, The Equinox of the Gods (London: O.T.O., 1936)
The Equinox of the Gods of 1936 was the most accurate setting of Liber Legis. Notably, it was pro-duced by a fine printing house, the Chiswick Press, whose in-house typographers and proofread-ers would have been very good. The bad spellings from the 1913 Liber Legis, “ecstacy” for “ecstasy” in II:21 and “though” for “through” in III:43, would have likely been flagged by their reader.
A late 1950s catalog of the O.T.O. Archives by Karl and Sascha Germer lists Crowley’s personal copy of The Equinox of the Gods, with tipped-in photographs. Sascha later marked it missing, i.e., it was stolen in the Brayton “Solar Lodge” robbery in the 1960s. It is not known whether his copy had annotations or corrections.
Paraphrase, The Equinox of the Gods, correction by A.C. in errata slips (1936–7)
Large claims have been made for these errata slips (10 items in 1936, 17 in 1937), and they have been cited as proving that Crowley carefully proofread The Equinox of the Gods. They actually show that he (or whoever compiled the slips) had not proofread The Equinox of the Gods very carefully. Even as successively revised, the errata slips miss textual problems that could only have been caught by someone with access to the original typescript, such as Crowley, or perhaps Gerald Yorke. Few other individuals at that time knew the history and underlying material sufficiently well to even notice content problems of this type. Notably, the above-cited miscitation of Liber Le-gis I:14 as “chapter I, verse 26,” and the often-discussed problem with the “first of April” date, went uncorrected. Against this, many of the typos were literals that could easily have been noticed bysomeone else who informed Crowley.
For the very same reasons, however, it is not reasonable to argue that the correction of the titling of the Stèle Paraphrase (from “Revelling” > “Revealing”) proves that Crowley read the text of the Paraphrase with particular care. This typo is a “howler” in a heading, and might just as easily have been pointed out to him by a reader, possibly even an irate subscriber in a letter. Scans of the errata slips themselves are on the 100th Monkey Press website.
Liber AL (London: O.T.O., 1938)
At least one commentator has referred to the London 1938 Liber Legis as the most accurate edi-tion, which is far from being the case. It had serious problems, being (after Thelema) the second least accurate edition ever produced. The problems with this edition may be attributable to the printer, who was not the best but was what Crowley could afford at the time. Their typographers were probably not the most accurate, and they may not have had an in-house reader read proofs for Crowley at all.
The familiar red Weiser paperback is a photofacsimile of this London 1938 first issued in 1976. This reprinting was supervised by a Weiser editor, James Wasserman, who made several badly-needed corrections and added a facsimile of the MS., which had not been included in the 1938 London edition. Early printings of the Weiser reprint carried the following note on the copyright page (since lost by the publishers, who are forever revising copyright pages), and it details the cor-rections that were required:
The introduction and text have been photo-offset from the 1938 edition pub-lished by the O.T.O. in London
Textual corrections are as follows:
Page 5, line 5. “Hoor-Paar-Kraat” to “Hoor-paar-kraat”
Page 6, lines 24 and 25. Delete “See announcement at end of this volume.”
Page 21, line 10. “and” to “am”
Page 22, line 16. “tongue and heart” to “heart and tongue”
Page 22, line 20. “ordeal” to “ordeals”
Page 41, line 5. “at” to “as”
For doubtful spellings and styles consult the facsimile MS. reproduced at the end of this volume.
A set of proofs for this edition, as well as Crowley’s personal red buckram 1938 Liber Legis, were shipped to the O.T.O. in America after Crowley’s death. His Liber Legis was stolen in the robbery of the O.T.O. Archives by the Brayton “Solar Lodge” group in the 1960s. The proofs survived this robbery, as they were catalogued in Box 6 in the catalog titled “Crowley-Germer Library MSS. and Correspondence” prepared by Helen Parsons Smith and Phyllis Seckler, but they disappeared in the second 1970s robbery of the Crowley-Germer O.T.O. Archives. But it is doubtful that the proofs would tell us much, as the printed book shows that the proofs were not read carefully in any event. The loss of Crowley’s personal copy of the 1938 Liber Legis was however a great loss, but it is not known whether this copy had annotations or corrections.
Liber AL (Church of Thelema [O.T.O.], 1942)
In the 1942 American resetting for the Church of Thelema/O.T.O. edition, the 1938 London title page was mistakenly repeated, but otherwise its editor, Wilfred T. Smith, made numerous cor-rections, making the edition a vast improvement over the London edition of 1938. This setting was reproduced innumerable times in the 1970s and 1980s in inexpensive photofacsimiles by the O.T.O. in California, and probably was the basis for Helen Parsons Smith’s Thelema Publications editions of Liber Legis.
When first editing Liber ABA (Magick) in the early 1990s I had used this edition as my point of departure in approaching the text of Liber Legis on the “last is best” principle, i.e., the assumption that the last edition produced in Crowley’s lifetime—even if issued from California—would best reflect his final intent. I had not yet learned that repeated reprinting from a prior setting that had not had careful rechecking against the ultimate source can accumulate errors—there is in truth no simple rule for the best handling of Crowley texts generally, except to look very hard at his sourc-es. In this case it appears that the text was checked to a recent known-good edition, The Equinox of the Gods (1936), but not by Crowley himself.
I had not, at that time, had opportunity to read the voluminous correspondence between Crow-ley and the California members, particularly with W. T. Smith and Jane Wolfe, and had not had the benefit of Martin P. Starr’s invaluable survey of the history of the early North American The-lemites, The Unknown God (2003), which gives the concise history of this publication, dating it to October 1942 and noting that it pleased Crowley. As in so many other things, Smith did not rely on Crowley but simply got it (very nearly perfectly) right on his own, in his characteristically quiet way. He did introduce at least one new typo, as noted in the table; there may have been others.
Frater Superior, O.T.O.
28 May 2013 e.v.
My best effort at making an effort to argue for the retention of the “fill me” reading is given below as “Argument A.” It incorporates some good arguments made by online commentators and very talented researchers, both in and out of O.T.O., to whom I am very grateful.
A second scenario favoring the correctness of “kill me” follows this, titled “Argument B.”
To keep it distinct from the published Stèle Paraphrase, a hypothetical Cairo typescript that is required for the “Argument A” scenario is cited as “The Spell called the Song” TS. This title origi-nates in the MS. of Liber Legis and is not my invention; it was also used in “Ritual B2” and the opening to “Ritual CXX.” The published version is referred to as the Stèle Paraphrase.
Both scenarios require assumptions in order to be made to work; the “fill me” argument requires a few more major assumptions than the “kill me” argument, e.g., an inferred typescript for which we have no evidence. Neither is entirely straightforward.
I have tried to note all assumptions as such in the text (using the language “Assume that” etc.). In general, statements that lack the word “assume” can be considered factual.
ARGUMENT A—PRO “FILL ME”
(1) Assume that Crowley could not remember his poetry for “The Spell called the Song” (which became the Stèle Paraphrase) and was thus dependent on textual sources for accuracy. Assume that he consulted the vellum book had the reading “fill me” and that he consulted it before making his note in the MS. of Liber Legis with directions for insertion, giving it the reading “fill me” as well.
(2) Assume that the later “kill me” reading must have originated somewhere, and that its source became “persistent”—i.e., the basis for repeated misquotation over the years. Assume that the Cairo typist made a typescript of the Stèle Paraphrase from the vellum book, cited hereinafter as “The Spell called the Song” TS. Assume that in making this typescript—a separate document from the Cairo TS. of Liber Legis—the typist misread “fill” in the vellum notebook as “kill” and mistak-enly typed “kill.”
(3) Assume that the vellum notebook was kept with the MS. of Liber Legis, so that the Cairo TS. of Liber Legis and “The Spell called the Song” TS. became Crowley’s sole sources until June 1909, when he recovered the MS. and the vellum book.
(4) Assume that Crowley relied on “The Spell called the Song” TS. in writing “The Great Invoca-tion,” either in 1904 or 1906, giving that ritual the reading “kill me.” Assume that he also used “The Spell called the Song” TS. for another very early Stèle quotation (of a different stanza) in “The True Greater Ritual of the Pentagram” of May 1906.
(5) Assume that Crowley never read the proofs for the unused appendix to Collected Works III in 1907, so he never noticed the discrepancy between Liber L (with “fill me”) and “The Great Invo-cation” (with “kill me”).
(6) Assume that the MS. of “Ritual CXX” in Yorke Collection notebook OS26 with the “kill me” reading also relied on “The Spell called the Song” TS. The Paris 1908 diary “John St. John” quotes “The Spell called the Song” (though not the stanza with the “kill me” reading), so we know that he had a source for the text at hand in this period. Assume that the Yorke Collection OS26 copy of “Ritual CXX” does not date to 1912, but that it was an intermediate draft created in Paris in 1908 after the “John St. John” Paris diary period that recorded the creation of “Liber DCLXXI vel Pyra-midos.”
(7) Assume that Crowley did not read the proofs of Thelema, and therefore did not then take note of the “fill me” reading. Assume that he never noticed the discrepancy in the reading between Liber L (with “fill me”) and “The Spell called the Song” TS. that he had used in recent years (with “kill me”).
(8) Thelema may have been issued in the spring or summer of 1909, an assumption based on its volume III being in press in spring 1909, as mentioned in “John St. John” in The Equinox I(1) (March 1909). Assume that Crowley had his personal copy with volumes I–III bound together prepared right away, so that he had it in the last half of 1909.
(9) Crowley finds the MS. of Liber Legis and vellum book in his attic at Boleskine in June 1909 but does not compare either to Thelema.
(10) Crowley goes to Oxford in October 1909 and makes a “fair copy” of “Ritual CXX.” Assume that this fair copy was typed; although no typescript of “Ritual CXX” is believed to be extant, his letter to J.F.C. Fuller from Oxford mentioning his work on the fair copy is typed. However, his copying work at the Bodleian Library (see the Dee transcripts in his Northwestern Notebook) was done in MS., and there are signs in the text of “Ritual CXX” of library copying, from Budge and other unidentified Egyptian sources. Assume that Crowley had “The Spell called the Song” TS. with him in Oxford, and used it as his source for expanding the abbreviated quotations of some of its stanzas as they appear in the earlier draft of the opening of “Ritual CXX” in OS 26. Assume that his work on the opening made him notice that the “The Spell called the Song” TS. had “kill me” but Thelema had “fill me.”
(11) Assume that Crowley then made his holograph pencil corrections (“to stir me or to still me” > “to stir or still me” and “fill me” > “kill me”) in his copy of Thelema in October or November 1909.
(12) Assume that in the next few months Crowley consulted the MS. of Liber Legis and the vel-lum book and found confirmation that “fill me” was correct, and that “The Spell called the Song” TS. with “kill me” was wrong.
(13) Assume that Crowley does not correct “kill me” to “fill me” in “The Spell called the Song” TS.
(14) Crowley does not erase his “fill me” > “kill me” correction in his copy of Thelema.
(15) Crowley writes the holograph MS. of “An Evocation of Bartzabel” in April–May 1910. As-sume that the variations of spelling in additional quotations from Liber Legis III:37–38 (“Thee” for “thee”, “Thy” for “thy”, “shewed” for “showed”) mean that he was writing from his memory of Liber Legis as published in Thelema. Assume that he accepts and incorporates one of this prior correc-tions to III:37 (the scansion fix “to stir me or to still me” > “to stir or still me”) but rejects the other correction (“fill me” > “kill me”).
(16) A TS. is made from the MS. of “An Evocation of Bartzabel” by Crowley or one of his editors to send to the printers for publication in The Equinox. This TS. is not extant but its existence at one time can be inferred by the differences in the MS. and published texts.
(17) Assume that Crowley forgets about the “kill me” problem and uses “The Spell called the Song” TS. without correction for the Stèle Paraphrase as published in The Temple of Solomon the King in The Equinox I(7) (1912).
(18) Crowley publishes “An Evocation of Bartzabel” in The Equinox I(9) (1913) with the “fill me” reading.
(19) Assume that in September-October 1913 Crowley participates in the proofreading for Liber Legis in The Equinox I(10) (1913) and retains the “fill me” reading. If he consults his personal copyof Thelema, assume that he takes one correction to III:37 (“to stir me or to still me” > “to stir or still me”), but rejects his other correction (“fill me” > “kill me”).
(20) Crowley does not erase his holograph “fill me” > “kill me” correction in his Thelema.
(21) Crowley republishes the Stèle Paraphrase with the “kill me” reading in The Giant’s Thumb proofs (1915). Despite personally proofing and marking the page, he does not mark the “kill me” reading for correction.
(22) Assume that Crowley’s 1924 remark to Mudd that “Quotations therefrom earlier than pub-lication of facsimile” refers to the facsimile MS. of Liber Legis, or if it refers to the Stèle Paraphrase, is discussing some unknown question and does not refer to textual differences.
(23) Crowley republishes Liber Legis from The Equinox I(10) (1913) in The Equinox of the Gods (1936) and retains the “fill me” reading.
(24) Crowley republishes the Stèle Paraphrase from The Equinox I(7) (1912) in photofacsimile in The Equinox of the Gods (1936) and retains the “kill me” reading. He may or may not have proofread it personally (there is an errata slip with a correction to the heading on that page).
ARGUMENT B—PRO “KILL ME”
(1) Assume that Crowley could not remember his poetry for “The Spell called the Song” (which became the Stèle Paraphrase) and was thus dependent on textual sources for accuracy, even during the dictation of the third chapter of The Book of the Law. Or alternately, assume that during the writing of the note to III:37 with the “fill me” reading, he was relying on his faulty memory of the poem he had written three or four days earlier.
(2) Assume that the “kill” reading appears in the vellum book mentioned in the MS. of Liber Legis. Assume that when creating the Cairo TS. of Liber Legis the typist either misread the correct reading “kill” in the vellum notebook and typed “fill,” which might have resulted by visually alter-nating between the two texts while typing and conflating them, or alternatively, by relying Crow-ley’s pencil instruction in the MS. of Liber Legis with “fill me” for the closing wording of that stanza in error. Assume that the Cairo TS. of Liber Legis acquired the bad reading “fill me” and disagreed with its source, the vellum notebook.
(3) Assume that Crowley brought the vellum notebook home to Scotland with his other Cairo vellum notebooks. Assume also that the Cairo TS. of Liber Legis and the vellum book were Crow-ley’s sole sources until June 1909, when he recovered the MS. of Liber Legis.
(4) Assume that Crowley relied on the vellum book in writing “The Great Invocation,” either in 1904 or 1906, giving that ritual the reading “kill me.” Assume that he also used the vellum book for another very early Stèle quotation (of a different stanza) in “The True Greater Ritual of the Penta-gram” of 1906.
(5) Assume that Crowley never read the proofs for the unused appendix to Collected Works III so he never noticed the discrepancy between Liber L (with “fill me”) and “The Great Invocation”(with “kill me”).
(6) Assume that Crowley did not read the Cairo TS. of Liber Legis and/or the proofs of Thelema in late 1908 or early 1909.
(7) Crowley finds the MS. of Liber Legis in his attic at Boleskine in June 1909. Assume that he did not consult the MS.
(8) Thelema was probably issued in the spring or summer of 1909, an assumption based on its volume III being in press in spring 1909, as mentioned in “John St. John” in The Equinox I(1)(spring 1909). Assume that the special semi-custom fine binding work for Crowley ‘s personal vellum one-volume copy took until very late 1909 or into early 1910. His copy has no binding date but was certainly the first one-volume copy made; the two other known examples are stamped 1910 and 1913, suggesting that these special bindings may have taken longer than the regular binding in three volumes on Japon paper.
(9) Assume that the copy made at Oxford of “Ritual CXX” in October 1909 did not include his opening and closing but was only a fair copy of the main section titled “Ritual CXX,” and that he therefore did not consult or quote the vellum book at that time. Although no typescript of “Ritual CXX” is believed to be extant, his letter to Fuller describing his work on the fair copy is typed (something that is unusual for Crowley). Assume that any typescript made of “Ritual CXX” was of this intermediate version. His copying work at the Bodleian Library (see for example the Dee tran-scripts in his Northwestern Notebook) was done in MS. (they still don’t allow manual typewrit-ers in the reading room), and there are signs in the text of “Ritual CXX” of library copying from Budge and other unidentified Egyptian sources. Assume that he added the opening and closing to “Ritual CXX” later, closer to the 1912 date of the other material in OS26.
(10) Assume that Crowley made a holograph pencil correction (“to stir me or to still me” > “to stir or still me” ) in his copy of Thelema from memory or to correct its (obviously) bad scansion.
(11) Crowley uses the “to stir or still me” and “fill me” readings in the holograph MS. of “An Evocation of Bartzabel,” written April–May 1910. Assume that the additional quotations in the ritual from other verses in Liber Legis mean that he was copying from Thelema, or wrote from his memory of the text as published in Thelema but correction the “to stir me or to still me” scansion. Variations of spelling, capitalization and punctuation suggest he may have quoted from memory.
(12) Assume that a TS. is made from the MS. of “An Evocation of Bartzabel” by Crowley or one of his editors to send to the printers for publication in The Equinox. This TS. is not extant but its existence at one time can be inferred by differences between the MS. and published text.
(13) In 1911 or early 1912 Crowley prepared the text of what became the Stèle Paraphrase in The Temple of Solomon the King in The Equinox I(7) (1912). Assume that Crowley relied upon the vellum book for the text of “The Spell called the Song.”Assume that he also consulted the MS. of Liber Legis, which was probably also in The Equinox office as it was being photographed for inclu-sion in the same issue of The Equinox. Assume that he noted the “fill me” reading in his pencil note in III:37, but chose “kill” over “fill” as the vellum book was the original source of his quotation in the Cairo Working. Assume that he then made the “fill me” > “kill me” correction to III:37 in his copy of Thelema.
(14) Assume that the surviving MS. of “Ritual CXX” in Yorke Collection notebook OS26 dates from late 1912 like its other contents, or within two years prior, and that OS26 represents a new draft that contains the first appearance of his newly-written opening and closing. The body of the original ritual begins with the title “Ritual CXX,” but follows a newly-written opening in a mark-edly different handwriting (Crowley’s “composition” hand as opposed to his “copying” hand). It is the opening, and not the ritual proper, that has the “kill me” reading. Assume that the “kill me” reading was taken from the vellum book or the Stèle Paraphrase as published in The Equinox I(7) (March 1912).
(15) Crowley publishes “An Evocation of Bartzabel” in The Equinox I(9) (March 1913) with the “fill me” reading. Assume that he did not proofread this but that it was based on an early typescript c. 1910 and handled by the printers and Equinox editors.
(16) Assume that Crowley delegated the proofreading for Liber Legis in The Equinox I(10) (1913) and that it was the editor or editors (Mary Desti and/or Victor Neuburg) who retained the “fill me” reading. Assume that neither Crowley nor his personal copy of Thelema was in the of-fice. Assume that they picked up the other correction to III:37 (“to stir me or to still me” > “to stir or still me”) from another source, e.g., possibly from having proofread “Bartzabel” earlier in the year, or if Neuburg was present, perhaps he remembered the right scansion from having done the Bartzabel Working, something that may have influenced the decision to use “fill me” as well.
(17) Crowley gives his personal Thelema with annotations to James Thomas Windram around September–October 1913, and Windram returns to South Africa. Crowley did not erase the “fill me” > “kill me” correction before giving it away. Assume that Windram read through the book and asked Crowley about the notes and corrections. Windram did not erase the correction.
(18) Crowley republishes the Stèle Paraphrase with the “kill me” reading in The Giant’s Thumb proofs (1915), and personally proofreads the page with the “kill me” reading.
(19) Assume that Crowley’s 1924 remark to Mudd that “Quotations therefrom earlier than pub-lication of facsimile” refers to the facsimile of the Stèle of Revealing in a manner consistent with the other references in the four paragraphs of the passage, and is a discussion of consistency issues between the first publication of the Paraphrase and earlier quotations in Thelema, i.e., “fill me” / “kill me.”
(20) Crowley republishes Liber Legis from The Equinox I(10) (1913) in The Equinox of the Gods (1936) but retains the “fill me” reading.
(21) Crowley republishes the Stèle Paraphrase from The Equinox I(7) (1912) in photofacsimile in The Equinox of the Gods (1936) and retains the “kill me” reading. There is an errata slip that has a correction to the heading for that page, but he may or may not have actually proofread the page in detail, or even personally.
Love is the law, love under will.
Further on the fill / kill correction to Liber Legis.
Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
We herewith release additional evidential archival material that relates to the correct reading of the Stèle Paraphrase in Liber Legis III:37.
“Ritual CXX, called of Passing through the Tuat,” or “Liber Cadaveris,” appears as the first of several papers in a MS. notebook, Yorke Collection OS26. It is immediately followed by the MS. of an O.T.O. degree paper, Crowley’s second version of Liber C, Agape Azoth, which is dated internally to December 1912. “Ritual CXX” is therefore earlier, but probably not by much. It is important to bear in mind that Crowley sometimes worked in multiple notebooks at once, and the contents are not always strictly chronological, i.e., they do not necessarily appear in the order they were written. In other words, he sometimes wrote on a paper-‐available basis. But these two papers appear with no intervening blank pages. I therefore believe that “Ritual CXX” was written in 1912, around the time that Crowley made the correction from “fill” to “kill” in III:37 in his copy of Thelema, i.e., concurrently with his publication of the MS. of Liber Legis and the Stèle Paraphrase in The Equinox I(7) (spring 1912) or soon thereafter.
I reproduce three pages from MS. of “Ritual CXX.” The first shows, at bottom, Crowley’s use of the four public adorations of “Liber Resh.” His first thought, as he composed the ritual, was to follow these with that part of the Stèle Paraphrase indicated by “Unity &c.” He crossed out the latter, but this is the earliest linkage of the two texts, even if they were not used in sequence in the final ritual. Crowley instead used this Stèle Paraphrase two pages later, on the third page reproduced here. He indicates its insertion in an abbreviated form that has striking similarities to the pencil note for III:37 in the MS. of Liber Legis, as a comparison will show. It clearly ends with “kill me!” Though I have not studied the question in any exhaustive way — and must emphasize that this is educated speculation — it does not strike me as a typical Crowleyan cursive “k.” To my eye, it looks as if Crowley started to write “fill” and changed to “kill” in mid-‐character. It does not, however, appear to be overwritten, so I believe the “kill” reading to be original to “Ritual CXX.”
A provenance note is appropriate here. The notebook now known as Yorke OS26 was in a box or trunk containing Crowley’s most important MSS. These were misplaced by a Detroit storage warehouse, and only rediscovered after Achad’s death (as first recounted by Martin P. Starr in his The Unknown God (2003)). These important MSS. passed with Achad's other papers to his successor, Dr. Jan P. Kowal of Detroit. Many MS. notebooks and MSS. were later sold to the New York book and MS. dealer Philip Kaplan. Decherd H. Turner, Jr., the founding Director of the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin — who was very knowledgable about Crowley and magick and took a personal interest in the subject —bought many of the best MSS. for the Ransom Center, where they augment the separate J.F.C. Fuller collection. However, several MS. notebooks of primary religious importance, or relevance to O.T.O. and A.'.A.'., were purchased by the O.T.O. In the late 1950s, Karl Germer sent what is now Yorke OS26 and other notebooks (including the Cairo Working notebooks OS23 and OS27) to Gerald Yorke in England for safekeeping, and in time they became part of the Yorke Collection, although Yorke very properly preserved their “on loan for safekeeping” slips. O.T.O. formally deeded these notebooks to the Warburg Institute in 2002, in gratitude for their preservation. Because of Frater Saturnus’ prescient action, they survived the unfortunate history of betrayals and archival thefts in California that followed his death, and that of his widow Sascha.
Kenneth Grant made a typed transcription of “Ritual CXX” from the MS. notebook for Yorke, probably ca. 1955, which is also reproduced here. It omits Crowley's deleted “Unity &c.” from MS., as one would expect with a fair copy typescript. The Grant-‐ Yorke TS. has nothing to add to the MS. excerpts, but it does serve as a confirmation the "kill me!" reading in the MS. from two authorities on Crowley and his MSS.
I am grateful to the the Officers of the A.'.A.'. for consenting to the release of part of this ritual material. This was done in the public interest, so as to further our understanding of Crowley’s intention with Liber Legis III:37.
Postscript: Just as O.T.O. was posting this to the internet, an independent European scholar who is a frequent contributor to the excellent website www.lashtal.com under the name Lutz posted his discovery that Crowley had carefully proofread the Stèle Paraphrase for a book that reached proofs in London in 1914–15, The Giant’s Thumb — the proofs are in the Yorke Collection.
I attach scans of the relevant pages, including the title page for dating purposes, below.
This is an important confirmation of the “kill me” reading, and it demonstrably shows Crowley proofreading the material as carefully as he probably ever did. It is also important in that it dates from a period after the production of The Equinox I(10) in late 1913.
I often think that we are blessed with the current level of scholarship regarding Thelema, which — as I know better than most — knows no affiliation. I wish to thank Lutz for bringing this to my attention.
Love is the law, love under will.
Hymenaeus Beta Frater Superior, O.T.O.
7 May 2013 e.v.
Love is the law, love under will.
A memo from the Frater Superior on the Kill me/Fill me correction to Liber Legis.
Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
The reading “fill me” in Liber Legis III:37 has long been known to conflict with the text it was meant to quote, i.e., Crowley’s Paraphrase of the hieroglyphs of the Stèle of Revealing, which has the reading “kill me.”
Our best source for what happened during the writing of this section of Liber Legis is chapter 7 of The Equinox of the Gods (a section written in 1921, published 1936):
“Verse 35 states simply that section one of this chapter is completed.
“I seem to have become enthusiastic, for there is a kind of interlude reported by Aiwaz of my song of adoration translated from the Stèle; the incident parallels that of chapter I, verse 26, etc.
“It is to be noted that the translations from the Stèle in verses 37–38 were no more than instantaneous thoughts to be inserted afterwards.
“Verse 38 begins with my address to the God in the first sentence, while in the second is his reply to me. He then refers to the hieroglyphs of the Stèle, and bids me quote my paraphrases. This order was given by a species of wordless gesture, not visible or audible, but sensible in some occult manner.”
The last two sentences are the key to understanding what happened, in my opinion. The operative words are “order” and “quote.” It does not explain the discrepancy in his pencilled aide-memoire note in the MS. of Liber AL.
From Crowley's conversations recorded in 1924 by Norman Mudd, we know that a typescript was prepared in Cairo, and that three copies were made:
“Three typed copies made in Cairo. One used by publishers of Zaehnsdorf edition (Chiswick Press) previous to rediscovery of MSS. Errors in vellum books due to the fact that this typescript not properly checked from MSS.”
(Crowley, Conversations with Norman Mudd, quoted in the Preface to The Holy Books of Thelema (1983), p. xiii; the full conversations were published, slightly abridged, as Norman Mudd, “Conversations with Crowley,” The Magical Link I(10) Feb./March 1988, p. 89.)
In this quotation, “vellum books” refer to the three-volume issue of Thelema (1909)—the few copies bound in one volume have the same textual problems.
There is good evidence that Crowley was not the typist, and that he hired someone in Cairo. While no copy of the original Cairo typescript is known to have survived, the typesetting in Thelema (1909) was based on this typescript, and it has misreadings that were the result of someone having trouble reading Crowley’s handwriting. For example, it has “unalterable” for “unutterable in I:58, “triumph” for “trample” in II:24 and “Before!” for “Beware!” in III:2. Crowley would not have misread these words in his own handwriting.
Exactly how the "fill" reading in the quotation from the separate Paraphrase got into III:37 in the Cairo typescript is not known. It is safe to assume that both the vellum notebook with the Paraphrase and the MS. of Liber Legis were on hand when the Cairo typescript was made. Perhaps the typist turned from typing the MS. to the vellum notebook to insert the Paraphrase from the vellum book, and then on returning to the MS, saw the "fill" reading in Crowley's pencil note, and assumed "fill" was the intended reading. This would not likely have been caught since, as Crowley told Mudd, the typescript was never proofread. It is unlikely that we will ever know precisely what happened.
By 1907 Crowley had his Cairo typescript of Liber Legis with what I once thought was the cover-page to the MS. of Liber Legis, but now (based on its physical size, provenance and timing factors) believe to be the original cover-page to his copy of the Cairo typescript (this was first published in Liber ABA, Magick, p. xl). Crowley had Liber Legis typeset for a planned appendix to vol. 3 of his Collected Works in 1907 (the appendix never appeared, though vol. 3 did). These proofs, dated September 24, 1907 in what may be Crowley’s hand, are uncorrected except for a few markings of irregular column margins. J.F.C. Fuller preserved these proofs along with the original French translation of the Stèle hieroglyphs and the Liber Legis typescript title-page. The proofs have a few MS. notes in Fuller’s hand, but it is likely that these were added later (one note is datable as late as 1938 or after).
The Collected Works proofs for Liber Legis were made from the Cairo typescript—a footnote even refers to the manuscript as having been lost—and it agrees closely with the later setting for Thelema (1909). These proofs also reproduce a ritual entitled “The Great Invocation” that probably dates from the Cairo Working; its original MS. is now lost, but interestingly, it reproduces some stanzas from Crowley’s Paraphrase of the Stèle, giving the reading "kill me"—thus being an independent attestation of the original reading believed to be in the MS. of the Paraphrase in the now-lost vellum notebook. The Collected Works proofs are thus the earliest evidence showing the textual discrepancy between the Paraphrase (as quoted in “The Great Invocation”) and the typescript of Liber Legis. Interestingly, Crowley seems to have been at pains to reproduce what he had at hand in 1907 of the Cairo Working textual material. That the Paraphrase of the Stèle itself is omitted in this planned appendix—where Crowley is clearly interested in reproducing his works connected with the Cairo Working—suggests that the vellum notebook containing the Paraphrase was with the MS. of Liber Legis, and unavailable in 1907. It is not like Crowley to willingly omit poetry like his Stèle Paraphrase in that sort of editorial context.
This brings us to the first publication of Liber CCXX in the first edition of the Holy Books in three volumes, Thelema. This book is undated internally, but proofs of some sections (including Liber CCXX) survive, dated October 20, 1908. These were proofread by Crowley, but it was not what is called a “copy” proofreading, comparing the source to the new setting; his few markings are concerned with bad margins and dropped punctuation at the margins, i.e., typical letterpress typesetting problems of a technical nature. We know from Crowley's 1924 e.v. conversations recorded by Norman Mudd, quoted above, that the MS. was not used to prepare Thelema—it was still missing when Thelema was being typeset and proofed in 1908. According to Crowley in The Equinox of the Gods (end of chap. 6), Thelema was published in 1909. There is however a diary entry from April 8, 1924 that dates Thelema to An. Ovi (spring 1910–spring 1911 e.v.), but Crowley was uncertain, writing “AL private edition?” Almost all copies of Thelema are in three volumes in cream vellum boards. Crowley made up a few in one volume, printed on animal vellum with a gilt Morocco binding by Zaehnsdorf. This fine binder may well have taken their time with the commission for the special copies, which may mean that Crowley did not receive his personal copy of Thelema until a little later than 1909.
Crowley found the MS. of Liber Legis in his attic at Boleskine House in the summer of 1909—too late for checking Thelema, even had it occurred to him to do so. I think it likely that he found the vellum book containing the Stèle Paraphrase along with the MS, as I believe they had been kept together.
Crowley gave the MS. its first publication in a very reduced photofacsimile in The Equinox I(7) in spring 1912, along with a facsimile plate of the Stèle of Revealing and his Paraphrase of the Hieroglyphs from the Stèle of Revealing (the title of which was misspelled “Revelling”). I believe that this editorial work made him aware of the “kill”/“fill” discrepancy between the Stèle Paraphrase (“kill”) and his pencil MS. note about its insertion into Liber CCXX (“fill”). It is reasonable to assume that he would have consulted the MS. of Liber Legis as well as the original vellum notebook with the Paraphrase on such an important question. I therefore think that it is likely that Crowley made the correction to his 1909 Thelema in 1912. To summarize what I believed happened, Crowley clearly identified and studied the problem with the right source materials at hand, made a decision, and made the correction in the most official of official copies at that time. It is my opinion that, in all likelihood, he promptly forgot about the issue, and may not have given it another thought. Crowley had a remarkable ability to “get on to the next thing”—it is one of the keys to his creativity and prodigious output. But it does not make him the most meticulous caretaker of his own past output—something that is amply documented in his surviving papers.
Crowley did pay more attention to the MS. the following year with the typesetting of Liber CCXX for The Equinox I(10)—or at least, he had his editorial staff do so. This was its second typeset publication, and it appeared in the fall of 1913, probably in middle or late fall, as the issue ran late.
Crowley had two personal copies of The Equinox I(10) 1913, but these tell us very little about the handling of Liber Legis. One (now in the Yorke Collection) was the basis for the 1936 setting of The Equinox of the Gods, according to Yorke, who notes: “Alterations in the hand of A.C. for the printers in preparing The Equinox of the Gods.” Only one correction was made, to III:34 (“The tomb” > “the tomb”), and only one minor marginal annotation. The second annotated copy of The Equinox I(10) is in a private collection, and there the text of Liber CCXX shows no signs of later proofreading; there are periodic marginal copyist’s marks that suggest that it may have been used as the source copy for a later retyping or resetting.
Now, to return to the 1909 Thelema, and in particular, the Crowley-Windram copy of Thelema recently given to the O.T.O. Archives by Bro. Windram’s son. This was originally Crowley’s copy in which he made his earliest notes and corrections. It was thus, at the time, the primary printed codex for the Holy Books including Liber CCXX—Crowley’s master copy, if you will.
Around the fall equinox of 1913 Crowley gave his copy of Thelema to James Thomas Windram, who was visiting London from South Africa. We know when this happened with some precision from Crowley’s manuscript inscription.
Fratri Carissime fidem servanti hunc librum d[...]
[Sol] in [Libra] An IX
This dates the gift to Sept. 23–Oct. 24, 1913; we may someday be able to trace Windram’s departure date from England to date this more precisely. The last word or words of the inscription are cut off by termite damage—the book having been stored in rural South Africa for over seventy years. But with that caveat, I think it says:
To the dearest brother, who holds his word [or, to the servant of faith], I give this book.
Crowley’s Thelema has fifteen marginal comments scattered throughout the book, in addition to dozens of notes to “Liber XXVII” (“Trigrammaton”)—basically his earliest versions of his English letter-attributions to its verses. All of the notes are in Crowley’s hand, and none are in Windram’s hand. Windram’s handwriting is clear and distinctive, and easily distinguishable from Crowley’s.
The Crowley-Windram Thelema has the following marked corrections: Liber CCXX II:54 (“Now” > “Nor”), III:37 (“to stir me or to still me” > “to stir me or still me”), III:37 (“Aum! let it fill me!” > Aum! let it kill me!”), “Liber LXV” V:8 (“thou has prostrated” > “thou hast prostrated”) and “Liber VII” IV:3 (“even into the finger-tips” > “even unto the finger-tips”). Three of the four corrections to Liber CCXX were made in The Equinox I(10) (1913), and the correction to “Liber LXV” was made in The Equinox III(1) (1919). (“Liber VII” was never republished in Crowley’s lifetime, so he had no opportunity to publish that correction, which remains unpublished to this day.) One correction to Liber CCXX (the change from “fill” to “kill” in III:37) was not made in The Equinox I(10).
I proofread Liber Legis as it appears in Thelema (1909) against its appearance in The Equinox I(10) (1913), and Thelema is an editorial train wreck, with no less than seventeen wrong words, five missing words, two extra words, one word transposition and a great many capitalization changes, extra, missing or changed punctuation, wrong accents, and the consistent use of “and” wherever the MS. has an ampersand.
It seems clear that the proofreading for the 1913 setting was done by an Equinox editor, or editors, possibly with Crowley participating, using the Paraphrase as published in 1912 (possibly the actual notebook as well), and the MS. of Liber Legis.
Crowley returned to London from Russia on August 30, and wrote the sub-editor, Victor B. Neuburg on September 1:
“I was delayed a fortnight coming from Moscow which makes the pressure on me at the moment tremendous. No. X will have nearly 600 pp. in it as far as I can make out and I am particularly anxious to have a second eye to go over the proofs. If you could manage to come up for one day or two, if possible Wednesday, I think it would be got through. I sent you the proofs as I have to go through Liber Legis with the [holograph manuscript?] which is as you remember on a book [? big?] roll, and I am anxious to obey the injunction ‘not so much as the style of a letter.’ The final proofs I could send you, but they will not be in for a fortnight I suppose. It looks as though we were [sic] going to be a month late now.”
(Transcriptions of shorthand letter book, July and September 1913, Yorke Collection.)
Assuming that Neuburg (who had the first proofs and apparently the MS.) and Crowley met as proposed, they would have read the first proofs on September 3. But there is a telltale slip in the proofreading for II:21, where “ecstasy” was mistakenly changed to “ecstacy”, suggesting that the then-editor of The Equinox, Mary Desti, may have read (or helped to read) the proofs. An American was more likely to use “ecstacy”, while Crowley’s usage was “ecstasy,” and Neuburg used “ecstasy” or “exstasy” in the MS. of Liber 418. Whether Crowley worked through all the proofs himself with one or more of the editors, or delegated the verse by verse comparative work, is not known. We do know that September and October of 1913 was one of the busiest months of his life, so it would not be surprising if he delegated. But he unquestionably had input as, in the first or final proofs, he added a footnote concerning his memory of a dictated word vs. the MS. reading. He probably also wrote the endnote referring readers to the MS. for doubtful words and styles.
Whoever read the first (and the later final) proofs, I think that “fill” rather than “kill” was used for III:37 on the basis of the pencil note in the MS. If one or more editors handled it, they may have used a copy of Thelema as a backup reference. This need not have been A.C.’s temple copy; his editors had their own. With Crowley emphasizing—as he did to Neuburg—that the MS. needed to be followed, any proofreader might well have defaulted to the “fill” reading in the MS., absent information to the contrary. As noted above, this procedure might account for how that particular reading got into the Cairo typescript in the first place. Speaking as an editor, it is likely that I would have done the same in the circumstances, given the same general instructions.
Later editions of Liber Legis (UK 1936, 1938, US 1942) show some variation, which is not really relevant here, except to note that no completely satisfactory edition of Liber Legis was published in Crowley’s lifetime. Some of the more beautiful editions (e.g. the 1909 Thelema and the 1938 London O.T.O. edition, which had a limited buckram issue) are the least accurate. I have used a variety of these early editions in temple work as the altar copy, and do not worry about their minor variations, as any copy stands for the “ideal” Liber Legis. Around June 1913, when first organizing O.T.O., Crowley issued a directive stipulating the use of Thelema, which by then he should have known had accuracy issues:
“In all lodges of O.'.T.'.O.'. and M.'.M.'.M.'. in Great Britain and Ireland the Volume of the Sacred Law shall be the book of Thelema, or a facsimile copy of Liber Legis (CCXX), and no initiations upon any other document will be recognized by the Grand Lodge.”
(Golden Book of the O.T.O., quoted in R.A. Gilbert, Baphomet and Son, ed. Darcy Küntz (Edmonds: Holmes, 1997), p. 9.)
As an editor of editions of Liber CCXX and The Holy Books, I feel obligated to make the “fill” to “kill” correction because it was made by the prophet himself. I cannot go against an express directive, which is how I have to view Crowley’s correction. I really do not see that I have any choice in the matter, and what I might personally think (which might surprise some of you) is irrelevant. I am filing this one under “Obey my prophet!” (AL I:32).
The implementation of Crowley’s correction rests on Crowley’s authority as prophet. It does not rely on my authority as an officer of any order, or my supposed (by some!) expertise as a Crowley editor. We are dealing with a received religious text. The author was not just its scribe and prophet, he was also its executive editor, with the final say, though he himself deferred wherever possible to the instructions of Aiwaz. This particular problem involves material of Crowley’s own composition (the Stèle Paraphrase) that he was ordered to insert into the received text. It also involves a pencilled note to himself, in the MS. of the received text, that conflicts with the text he was ordered to quote. But the correction he later made is not ambiguous, and has to be accepted as a directive from the prophet—not dismissed as some sort of aberration. I have to assume that he was doing his best to honor the “order” to “quote” his Paraphrase that he had received—which is in fact a reasonable assumption, since the surviving sources for the material to be quoted support the accuracy of his correction.
As the editor of Liber Legis, Crowley had the requisite authority, knowledge, experience and access to all the necessary primary materials to decide this matter; we do not. Or, to back up the timeline and put it more bluntly: Crowley was at the Cairo Working; we were not. He marked what he wanted clearly. Who are we to second-guess him?
That the correction was made to the text’s first publication under its Class A imprimatur gives the correction the authority of Class A. In other words, his correction plainly means that there was a failure of accuracy in the 1909 Class A printing that he wanted corrected. His correction outweighs all secondary indications to the contrary, even when taken together.
A correction to a book carries a great deal more information than the change of a letter or word. It tells you (a) that the author (or in this case, scribe-prophet) wants the book changed; (b) it clearly tells you what is wrong; (c) it clearly tells you what it should be changed to. When corrections like this are made in an author’s personal copies, they have to be accepted at face value and incorporated—an editor has no right to ignore them. This is a problem familiar to any editor who works with an author’s MSS., proofs and personal annotated editions. In some countries with strong author’s rights laws, the author’s known revisions and corrections can be considered mandatory inclusions in posthumous editions.
That Crowley gave away the one copy in which he had made the correction, and failed to make the change in any of the subsequent editions in his lifetime, should not surprise us. His publications are well-known among bookmen for their typographical errors, as noted by Timothy d’Arch Smith in his excellent The Books of the Beast, which quotes Crowley’s letter to Gerald Yorke: “'Proof-reading is an art which I strongly recommend you not to learn; as long as there are any sewers to clean, you would be ill-advised to adopt it as a profession.” Crowley published his own magnum opus, Magick in Theory and Practice, in a first edition that was missing not one or two letters or words, but literally dozens of lines of text, rendering passages in as many pages almost incomprehensible. Crowley never noticed. Had O.T.O. not spent the $40,000 or so in O.T.O. treasury money on the necessary typescripts, and done the reverse proofreading, we might today all be convinced that the 1929–30 Magick in Theory and Practice was the last word in accuracy. (As a demonstration of the power of sheer conservatism, there are those who still swear by it!)
To rely on repeated later printed editions of Liber CCXX with the “fill” reading for authority gets into the syndrome of repeated error. Crowley’s usual practice was to hand the last printing to a compositor for the next printing, so errors tend to be repeated. There aren’t that many examples, as most of his works were not often reprinted, but this clearly occurred with the Gnostic Mass. It was written in 1913, and its original typescript takes its quotations of Liber Legis from the 1909 Thelema, and it therefore has the bad reading “children of the prophet.” Despite the fact that “children” was corrected to “child” in The Equinox I(10) only six months or so after the mass was written, Crowley published it in 1918, republished it in 1919, and reissued it yet again in 1929–30, all with the mistaken reading. Crowley is known to have performed the Gnostic Mass, and I would not be at all surprised had his Deacon used the “children of the prophet” reading, and even less surprised if Crowley had not noticed. The former is likely as it had been published with that reading, and it was present in TS. as well. The latter is likely because, if Crowley had noticed, he might well have thought to correct. I think that this shows that reliance on known or inferred past ritual practice is an unreliable guide for solving textual questions.
As for later printings of the Paraphrase, Crowley just had the original 1912 type reproduced in photofacsimile for the Stèle plate and Paraphrase in The Equinox of the Gods (1936). In his errata slip, which I believe appeared with the 1937 second issue, Crowley corrected “Revelling” to “Revealing,” but did not change “kill” to “fill.” However, it should be said that “Revelling” is an obvious error in a headline, and the chances are very good that Crowley had lost the Cairo vellum book with the Paraphrase many years earlier, and had nothing to proof the poetry against. But at least in this instance we know that he actually looked at one of the problem pages in question, so it possible that he read the entire Paraphrase through and accepted the “kill me” reading again. But again, this is with the caveat that one must not put too high a premium on Crowley’s thoroughness as a proofreader.
There has been some fascinating and often learned discussion of the original Egyptian-language basis for the Paraphrase, with attempts to relate its stanzas to the hieroglyphic text. The line of poetry at issue, however, is not based on the Egyptian at all. My colleague J. Daniel Gunther, a capable Egyptologist, correlated the poem to the hieroglyphs some years ago:
“Unity uttermost showed!” — A QA KUA-TU-F — “O exalted one, may he be praised”
“I adore the might of thy breath” — UR BAU — “the great one of power”
“Supreme and terrible God” — BA OA ShFYT — “Great Spirit (Ba) of dignity”
“Who makest the gods and death To tremble before Thee” — DDU NRU-F N NThRU — “Who puts the fear of himself among the gods”
“I, I adore thee!” — < no hieroglyphic correspondence >
“Appear on the throne of Ra!” — HA'aU HR NST-F UR — “Who shines forth upon his great seat”
<no correspondence in paraphrase> — IR WAUT BA-I — “Make a way for my Soul (Ba)”
“Open the ways of the Khu!” — N AKh (I) — “for my Spirit (Akh or Khu)”
“Lighten the ways of the Ka!” — < no hieroglyphic correspondence >
“The ways of the Khabs run through”— N ShU(T)-(I) — "for my Shadow" (N.B.: old French transliteration erroneously had KHAB for ShUT ("shadow")
“To stir me or still me!” — IU AaPR-KUI UBN-(I) — “So that I am equipped, that I might shine forth”
“Aum! let it kill me!” — < no hieroglyphic correspondence >
Some have questioned why the Paraphrase should read “kill me” at all, and ask: Why would Ankh-f-n-khonsu invoke his own death? A closer reading is instructive, as he is described elsewhere in the Paraphrase as the “self-slain Ankh-f-n-khonsu,” giving the reading “let it kill me” a clear contextual basis in the Paraphrase.
Some members are understandably concerned about the performance of “Liber Resh vel Helios,” which has become a group practice in many areas. In Northern California, primarily due to the teachings of Phyllis Seckler and James A. Eshelman, it gradually became a common practice to append the poetry from the Paraphrase as given in Liber Legis III:37. This was not the original practice, so far as I can establish. Sister Seckler, writing in a very early issue of In the Continuum I(5) (1975), pp. 9–11, published “Liber Resh”, and appended several excerpts from other writings, beginning with the poetry from Liber Legis III:38 (“So that thy light is in me” through “The prophet Ankh-af-na-khonsu!”) and going on to quote III:37. It would seem that her early teaching in the mid-1970s recommended III:38 or III:37—they seem to be true alternatives, given the order of presentation.
The earliest source making a straightforward recommendation of the III:37 text that I have been able to trace is an article by Sister Seckler’s close colleague James A. Eshelman (writing as Frater Iacchus) in a paper titled “Comment to Liber Resh,” In the Continuum IV(4), p. 6. He was then Deputy National Grand Master of O.T.O., and writes in this capacity, at p. 8:
“From our office in O.T.O., we have no authority to do anything but recommend on this point. We pass on to you what we have received as the appropriate adoration for the early stages of Work.”
He then specifies the Liber Legis variant of the Paraphrase (with “fill me”) from AL III:37.
The original practice specification is for solitary work, directing that the student incorporate whatever additional adoration is taught by his or her A.'.A.'. instructor. The original reads:
“5. And after each of these invocations thou shalt give the sign of silence, and afterward thou shalt perform the adoration that is taught thee by thy Superior. And then do thou compose Thyself to holy meditation.”
(“Liber Resh vel Helios,” para. 5.)
I did skim through Jane Wolfe’s MS. diaries and ritual notebooks for indications as to what, precisely, she had been taught at Cefalù on this point, as “Liber Resh” was certainly done in group Vespers etc. there. It appears that she employed the adorations from J.F.C. Fuller’s “Treasure House of Images” in her personal work, but there is no indication that I could find of what might have been used during house sessions for an addendum adoration, if indeed anything was. That said, I would not be at all surprised to find Cefalu-period ritual material by disciples, or even by Crowley himself, using III:37 with the “fill me” reading from the published versions of Liber Legis in later life. All that this would show, to my mind, is that Crowley could be just as “book-bound” (if that is a term) as the rest of us.
As for Agape Lodge, “Liber Resh” appears in The Oriflamme I(1) (1943), which just quotes the main text without any additional adoration or adorations being specified or recommended. Similarly, Jack Parsons’ unpublished 1945 Agape Lodge teaching lecture on rituals (his third of six in his lecture series) quotes the main text of “Liber Resh,” but without any supplements; in his brief discussion of the ritual, he does not discuss the section 5 matters appropriate to A.'.A.'. members at all. This makes sense, as he was teaching the ritual to O.T.O. members.
When Crowley taught “Liber Resh” to Grady McMurtry in letter of March 30, 1944, he wrote:
“Liber Resh gives 4 adorations (Magick pp. 425–6) with directions for facing. (Deosil is clockwise—widdershins anti-clockwise). Use at start signs of grades, 0°–III° O.T.O., and Sign of Enterer, followed by Sign of Silence, at the “Hail”—Damn it, you saw me do it.”
("Aleister Crowley, Selected Letters to Hymenaeus Alpha,” The Magical Link IV(4), winter 1990–91, p. 26.)
There is no mention of an additional adoration in the letter. This is perhaps not surprising, as the use of the additional adoration was taught in A.'.A.'., and Grady was a member of O.T.O. and not A.'.A.'.. It is also notable, in this regard, that Crowley has him using O.T.O. signs and not A.'.A.'. signs. A.'.A.'. teaching on this point, in my experience, has drawn on both the “fill me” version (relying on Liber Legis) and the “kill me” version (relying on the Paraphrase), as well as other material.
That said, I am not aware of any evidence that Crowley himself used III:37 as part of his daily “Liber Resh” practice. Diary of a Drug-Fiend (1922) has two instances of “Liber Resh” being said (in part III, chaps. 5 and 6), and neither adds a supplemental adoration to the basic text.
I can understand how, in the Bay Area and parts northward especially (where the practice is most common and has the longest standing), the recitation of the additional quotation from III:37 with “fill me” becomes an issue with this correction to “kill me”. It may even result in peer pressure to conform to one reading or another when people do “Liber Resh” in a group. The additional adoration—that A.'.A.'. members are to learn from their private instructors—was not and is not intended for group work, so really, I suppose that this issue should not be arising. But I understand that this is a beloved social custom of long standing—I have enjoyed it myself many times, on visits, and it is undeniably lovely. Also, we have no wish to interfere with harmless local adaptations of our shared liturgy. However, I would recommend that O.T.O. groups use the Paraphrase, thus setting any question of the correct reading of Liber Legis to one side in the interests of social harmony. This allows members to keep whatever they might privately think about Liber Legis a private matter, which is as it should be, in keeping with the “each for himself” injunction in the Short Comment.
Members concerned with honoring an O.T.O. advancement form that affirms that they do not wish to make changes to Liber Legis should accept the prophet's directive that this change should be made. You are not changing anything.
Some individuals—not many, but they deserve to be heard and to have an explanation—have petitioned me with the message “Do not change The Book of the Law.” I understand their concern, and appreciate their love for the book, and their commitment to the principle underlying revelation and all that Class A implies. I understand their distrust of spiritual “authorities” too. But paradoxically, what we are doing in implementing this correction is exactly what they ask: not changing The Book of the Law. To leave things as they were would be to acquiesce in a known change to the text that we now know was not intended by the prophet. So we are, in other words, un-changing it.
I ask that those who question this sit back and allow for this possibility: what if all prior printed editions had it wrong? What if we now have it right—and for the first time? Wouldn't that be amazingly great?
I am confident that we do. We have authority in the holograph correction, in a very special book—a codex really, being Crowley’s own annotated temple copy—and it is a correction that resolves a well known hundred year old textual difficulty.
Future editions incorporating the change will have a note at the end of the book explaining the change. Those who reject Crowley’s correction can, of course, make an anti-correction in their copy—thus duplicating Crowley’s correction but in reverse.
In my travels I have learned to be cautious. “The Great Invocation” and the Paraphrase were both “corrected” by yours truly in Magick (Liber ABA) (1994 and later editions) to change their original readings of "kill me" to “fill me”—a woefully misguided attempt to make these non-Class A texts agree with what I had every reason to assume was the correct reading in Liber Legis. I think I originally picked up the “fill me” version by “picking up” (a term of art for cutting and pasting from another electronic document) part of the Paraphrase from Liber CCXX to save time, and failed to catch the different wording. In a later revision I decided to let it stand, and just annotated it as such, thinking that one of the readings had to be wrong, and it couldn’t be the Class A, could it? This was an object lesson for me: wait for the source material. You might have to wait a hundred years, but it may turn up.
No wonder we’re given 2,156 years to sort out the affairs of prophets.
Frater Superior, O.T.O.
Love is the law, love under will.
News from OTO IHQ.
Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
Please follow the link below for important information from the International Headquarters of Ordo Templi Orientis. There is an update on the Thoth Restoration project, an announcement concerning an upcoming exhibition in which some of the original images will be displayed, some important legal information concerning the Thoth Tarot and a fascinating discovery concerning a particular verse from The Book of the Law, along with news on the various publishing projects OTO is currently engaged in.
Love is the law, love under will.
More Aleister Crowley fiction published - The Simon Iff Stories and Other Works.
Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
We are pleased to announce that March 2012e.v. saw the publication of "The Simon Iff Stories and Other Works", a complementary series of short fiction to "The Drug and other Stories" which was previously published in 2010e.v. This latest offering includes the first complete publication of Simple Simon, the detective series featuring Crowley’s most memorable fictional creation, the mystic-magician-philosopher-psychoanalyst-detective Simon Iff. Also included is Crowley’s other major short fiction series, the eight stories of his legendary Golden Twigs, which were inspired by Sir J.G. Frazer’s encyclopedic study of myth and religion in history, The Golden Bough. Once again, the offer is very good - just under 600 pages for only £2.99.
Love is the law, love under will.
Change of Deputy National Grand Master.
Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
Greeting and Health from the Supreme Grand Council.
The United Kingdom Grand Lodge of Ordo Templi Orientis is pleased to announce the appointment of Frater Alverda as Deputy National Grand Master General, effective from the Vernal Equinox.. This follows Brother Rodney Orpheus’ planned re-location to the Republic of Ireland. Grand Lodge would like to thank Brother Rodney for his efforts as DNGMG and to wish him well for the future.
Love is the law, love under will.
Grimoire of Aleister Crowley.
Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
Rodney Orpheus, UKGL Deputy Grand Master, has just finished writing his second book, entitled Grimoire of Aleister Crowley (320 pages, octavo hardcover with dust jacket ISBN: 978-0-9569853-0-9). This book is the first comprehensive presentation of group-oriented rites for modern magicians inspired by the works of Aleister Crowley. It contains rituals written by Crowley for his own magic circles, many of them unpublished during his lifetime; plus rare ancient texts that were Crowley’s own inspiration in turn.
The rituals are newly edited and explained by Brother Rodney who introduces each with a clear overview, setting each in its historical context and explaining its function and mode of operation; followed by detailed notes on setting and performance of each one.
Love is the law, love under will.
AMeTh Lodge Journal Vol I No 1.
Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
AMeTh Lodge is pleased to announce the publication of its new Journal. This 132-page large format journal printed in full colour is written and produced by members of AMeTh Lodge, London. This is the first issue of an annual publication dedicated to esoteric studies and Thelema. Combining high production values, original artwork, thought-provoking essays and innovative rituals, AMeTh Lodge Journal constitutes a welcome addition to the range of esoteric publications produced by actual practitioners of magick.
United Kingdom (£25 + £5 shipping)
Europe (£25 + £6 shipping)
Americas (£25 + £10)
Australasia, Pacific Rim (£25 + £10 shipping)
More information can be found on the Lodge’s website: www.ameth.org.uk
Love is the law, love under will.
KNOWLEDGE AND DELIGHT SYMPOSIUM organised by AMeTh Lodge, London.
Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
A two-day, open Thelemic conference hosted by the Lodge on the weekend of 10th-11th September 2011e.v.
The “Knowledge and Delight” Symposium is bringing together nationally and internationally recognised speakers in their fields to serve the wider London, UK and international Thelemic and occult communities. Note that this is not an OTO-only event and is open to members of the public.
This symposium will be held in Docklands, London and will be adorned with a celebration of the Rite of Isis composed by Aleister Crowley and Frater Achad. It will provide superb opportunities for discussion, entertainment and networking in sumptuous and very comfortable surroundings with a three-course formal dinner and two lunches as a part of the packed two-day programme that will include the following topics and speakers:
'State of the Art: Experimental Art Forms as Grids, Matrices and Solvents in a Magical Context' by Carl Abrahamsson; 'The Coins of KoYuen: Aleister Crowley, Frieda Lady Harris & the Yi King' by Gary Dickinson, 'The Engines of Thelema' by Adrian Dobbie; 'Aleister Crowley’s Egypt: Sacred and Profane' by Paul Feazey; 'Delight, Fallen: The Yearning towards Union and Knowledge in the Myths of Psyche and Persephone, Eros and the Christian Mystics, and the Journey of Everyman' by Kim Huggens; 'The Forgotten Founder: Henry Klein and the Early History of O.T.O.' by Richard Kaczynski; 'In The Know' by Gary Lachman; 'Apocalypse Now and Then: One Man’s Literary Journey into the Heart of the Beast' by Rodney Orpheus; and 'Reasoning into Reality' by Roy Sutherwood.
For more details and tickets, please visit www.ameth-symposium.org.uk
Love is the law, love under will.
Aleister Crowley fiction to be published.
Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
We are pleased to announce that September 2010e.v. sees the publication of "The Drug and other Stories", comprising forty-nine short stories by Aleister Crowley of which only thirty were published in his lifetime. This work has been in preparation for some time and will be available through Wordsworth at just £2.99. At over 600 pages, this is a significant literary offer at a very reasonable price.
Love is the law, love under will.
US Grand Lodge Podcasts
Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
As some of you may already know, the USGL website has started presenting regular podcasts of thought-provoking interviews featuring individuals involved in myriad realms of mysticism, spirituality and magical theory and practice. As well as interviews with people such as Richard Kaczynski and James Wasserman, our Deputy National Grand Master General, Rodney Orpheus, and our Quartermaster and Initiation Secretary, Sr Estella (Susan Jameson-Bonner) have featured recently. In the latest episode, Sr Estella, whose distinctive mezzotint landscapes represent magick in nature, discusses the inspiration and method of drawing her own Tarot deck and the relationship between magick and art.
Please go to http://oto-usa.org/podcast.html to hear more.
Love is the law, love under will.
Deputy National Grand Master Appointed
Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
Greetings and Health from the Supreme Grand Council
The United Kingdom Grand Lodge of Ordo Templi Orientis is pleased to announce the appointment of Brother Rodney Orpheus to the position of Deputy National Grand Master General, effective from the Vernal Equinox An iv17.
Love is the law, love under will.
New UKGL Research Academy Formed
Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
Greeting and Health. I am happy to announce that on 21st December 2008ev the Supreme Grand Council of UK Grand Lodge approved the formation of a new National Research Academy. This is a new and prestigious initiative for UK Grand Lodge, which brings together some of the best researchers in the Order in the UK. The new Academy’s purpose is to serve the Order by conducting and publishing research upon the history of Ordo Templi Orientis and to thus further illuminate its rites, degrees and traditions. It produces peer reviewed material of the best quality – both through its principal journal, Minerva, and through other publications. It also provides research services to the Order nationally, to chartered local bodies, and to its own membership and serves to provide a new focus for research activity in the UK, in particular through its annual Convocation – a yearly conference presenting the results of the best quality formal research on our Order.
The new Research Academy has a number of categories of membership. This serves to take account of the differing degrees of initiation possessed by its researchers. Limited Associate membership of the Academy is open to all members of UK Grand Lodge of the First degree or higher; Full Associate membership is open to all those who have reached the degree of K.E.W. Fellowship in the Academy is limited to thirteen Fellows and is awarded based upon their contributions to the work of the Academy and their production of new research of the highest quality.
Members of the Academy benefit in a number of ways. They receive a copy of the Academy journal, Minerva; they have the right to submit their own queries on research topics to the Fellows; they can freely submit papers for peer review to the journal – the result of this is that, even if a paper is not accepted for publication, they are guaranteed to receive useful peer review notes on their own work. Finally, their membership of the Academy means that their own attendance at the annual Convocation is already paid for. Membership of the Academy, as well as further details of its work, can be obtained by emailing the Secretary at firstname.lastname@example.org
Love is the law, love under will.
UK Trademark Case
Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
I am happy to report that OTO has prevailed against Starfire Publishing Ltd.'s opposition to our trademarks for OTO and O.T.O. in the United Kingdom. In her decision of June 8, Anna Carbone, the Appointed Person hearing OTO's appeal, found in favour of OTO, overturning a previous decision in favour of Starfire. OTO's registrations of the marks OTO and O.T.O. are now proceeding normally in the UK, joining our previous registrations of Ordo Templi Orientis; and the OTO Lamen. Under UK law, there can be no further appeal of a decision by an Appointed Person, in either the Trademark Registry or High Court.
Ms. Carbone overturned the previous decision on the necessary points of law, as is required for any successful appeal. She also rejected the opposition's argument that OTO was a descriptive term for a religion that was in widespread use. She accepted our position that OTO was merely the initials of the name of a religious organization. She found our prior use of the mark OTO on publications to be brand and mark of origin use compatible with trade mark use. She clearly understood that our steps to protect our trademark through registration came from our belief that we are the only legitimate organization entitled to do so. Her decision was made on technical points of law and not evidence, though she did read all of our evidence and had recourse to it from time to time. She did not, therefore, rule on the validity of our historical legitimacy, but she did cite our belief respectfully more than once.
This litigation was not one we initiated -- these were proceedings brought against us by Starfire acting on behalf of Kenneth Grant's spurious OTO organization, with support from organizations led or founded by other expelled or resigned OTO members, such as Albion OTO and OTO Foundation. These groups would be well advised to find another name. We were merely filing a routine maintenance trademark. Now, having provoked us, they can reasonably expect enforcement proceedings from us if they do not stop appropriating our name, initials and lamen.
All that said, I bear no personal animus against the opposition. I consider Michael Staley, in other circumstances, to be a friend of long standing.
I would like to thank everyone, inside and outside OTO, who helped with these cases. The late James Garvey VI° of Tahuti Lodge in New York City made a generous and especially timely donation of $31,000 to assist with the UK case; Jim was the gentlest soul I've ever known, but he was an Irish fighter at heart. US Grand Lodge was of assistance more times than I can mention; thanks must go to Sabazius X° and Hank Hadeed for treasury support. I would like to thank Vere Chappell, for skilfully managing the necessary legal financing; Clive Harper for sane counsel and support in the hearings; UK Grand Lodge for support, and in particular Hyperion X° for hospitality during case development; Secretary General Aion and J.-M. Kleeman of OTO Italia for translation assistance; Bill Heidrick for help with evidence development; Ian Rons for his spontaneous public relations assistance as well as attendance at the last hearing; Paul Feazey of Lashtal.com for providing a forum for ventilating the issues arising from the case; and Prof. Bradford Verter for his independent expert opinion. Thanks must also go to our brilliant legal teams: in the UK, our solicitor Nigel Parnell, and our barristers Fiona Clark and Andrew Nichol QC, and in the US, Alan Harris and Dave Zelenski of Harris and Ruble. Many others helped in other ways; you know who you are.
With these two decisions, OTO is again litigation free. We continue -- now with fewer distractions -- our publications program. The completely restored "Confessions" is approximately half complete. Other books that rely on "Confessions" (i.e. cite it extensively) are being held until it is finished. For a foretaste of the revaluation of Crowley's life this new edition will produce, I suggest reading Richard B. Spence's Secret Agent 666: Aleister Crowley, British Intelligence and the Occult (Feral House). I made the extensive and numerous sections of "Confessions" deleted by Symonds and Grant available to Prof. Spence, and they clearly helped him to weave his fascinating account of Crowley's career. In other publishing-related news, Stephen J. King of Australia has been appointed editor of the unabridged Magick Without Tears. He proved his considerable editorial abilities with his recent authorized second edition of P. R. Stephensen's The Legend of Aleister Crowley.
Love is the law, love under will.