Waratah 3: Star Building

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In my review of Waratah 2 for LAShTAL.COM some time ago I praised it for marking a return to the days when Thelemic journals were either well-produced or well-informed. On rare occasions, both. Sothis was the journal I compared it with, very favourably. With Waratah 3 I see no reason to revise that comparison. But Waratah 3 isn’t just well-produced and well-intentioned (both being features that it shares with, for example, Starfire): it’s beyond a shadow of a doubt the single most interesting, constructive and serious-minded of all Thelemic journals, ever. Whereas Starfire is usually an attractive document, put together with love and enthusiasm, Waratah demonstrates magnificent production values while still being a scholarly document. Not for it the ultimately fruitless squabbles about ownership of copyrights, trademarks and lineage: Waratah is composed of articles written by committed Thelemites determined to wring subtle truths from Thelema. Ok… Physically, then, it’s very impressive. It’s a large, quarto paperback, with nice spot-UV highlighting on the cover. Beautifully and professionally printed on art quality, heavy paper, it comprises 154 pages, together with some colour images. Limited to just 190 general and 20 numbered copies, it’s bound to increase in value. Oh, it looks good on the shelf, too! This issue comprises eight articles by Frater Numa, a prominent figure in the increasingly influential OTO in Australia. His prose is crisp and sparkles with insight and wit. As should be obvious from the subtitle of this edition of Waratah (“Star Building”), much of the content concerns itself with the initatory processes employed by the OTO and the impact of the same on the individual seeking to undertake his or her Great Work, the identification of the True Will, and the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel. The “OTO experience” is discussed and contrasted with Australian culture and Freemasonry in many suggestive ways. Especially interesting is the first article, “From Masonry To Magick“, which is, according to the notes, a composite of “various fragmentary essays” by Frater Numa from the mid-1990s. If that’s true then I’m amazed, because what is presented is a coherent and cohesive examination of the origins and development of speculative Masonry. Drawing on intelligent references to European witchcraft, Rosicrucianism, Dee, Tantra and OTO sex magick, this piece will remain with you long after setting the book down. Another favourite of mine is “On The Ship“, based on a lecture given in 1996. Seemingly a simple introduction to a performance of Crowley’s oft-quoted and even “ofter” misunderstood “The Ship: A Mystery Play“, it’s actually an insightful paraphrase of the piece, reinforcing amongst other things the importance (a la Leary) of “set and setting”. It should be compulsory reading for those that choose to analyse Crowley’s creative work. We’ve come a long way since The Star In The West. “On Snow White” is an amusing commentary, drawing its inspiration from Book 4‘s qabalistic analysis of Mother Goose. Here the dwarves’ house represents the Sushumna and Snow White awakens her seven chakras: “Sleepy (Muladhara), Bashful (Svadisthana)…” And so on… Very effective. Members of the OTO will take a special delight in a highly respectful article on Grady Louis McMurtry, “The Psychedelic Caliph“. Illustrated by three photographs of the Caliph, one in colour, that I hadn’t previously seen, this introduction to his researches and writings shows the depth of his erudition and insight. “[McMurtry] was one of the first magicians to seriously investigate the mysticism and subtle aspects and energies of Thelema, and he did so with pragmatism, realism, and a contemporary, no bullshit, edge.” Beautifully phrased! There’s much more to this journal – some wonderful line drawings and other artwork included – but the stand-out piece has to be another, lengthy article by Frater Numa: “The Royal Road Less Travelled: An Introduction to the OTO Experience“. This is a sublime piece of writing. I’ll say nothing more about it, other than that it describes the OTO initiatory process with subtlety and real wisdom. You’ll finish this article knowing not just the processes involved, but also why the initiatic systems are so important and you’ll see once again just how effective Crowleyan ritual can be in revealing external and internal truth. Enough! You owe it to yourself to purchase Waratah. And if they’ve sold out you might begin to understand why so few copies of any of the three issues ever make it to secondhand book lists…

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