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 Anonymous
Joined: 50 years ago
Posts: 0
02/02/2012 2:14 am  

Hello all!

So... I am here for the obvious reasons (interested in Aleister Crowley & his writings) but the thing is that I am largely unfamiliar with the field and I am hoping that LAShTAL might be a good point of reference to look up things I overhear while interacting with my local OTO body (I'm not initiated yet, I only recently started attending functions). One thing that I find quite daunting is that there is such a breadth of material written by Crowley and I'm unsure where to start. Any recommendations? ^_^;;


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 Anonymous
Joined: 50 years ago
Posts: 0
02/02/2012 6:49 am  

93 OTOH,

Welcome to the forum.  🙂

In the Crowley section of the Hermetic Library, the books are classified:

Class A – The Holy Books of Thelema
Class AB – Holy Scholarship of Thelema
Class B – Scholarship of Thelema
Class C – Suggestions of Thelema
Class D – Official Rituals and Instructions of Thelema
Class E – Public Statements of Thelema
Unclassified – Unclassified Documents of Thelema

It makes the full corpus seem a little less daunting a project to tackle.

I think 'De Lege Libellum' might be a good place to start, but it depends upon your learning style. 

Alrah.  93 93/93.


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William Thirteen
(@williamthirteen)
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Joined: 9 years ago
Posts: 1098
02/02/2012 6:56 pm  

i'd love to see another class 'Declassified Documents of Thelema'. you know, the ones regarding time travel, ufos, and j. edgar hoover 😉


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Los
 Los
(@los)
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Joined: 11 years ago
Posts: 2197
02/02/2012 9:42 pm  
"OnTheOtherHand" wrote:
I'm unsure where to start. Any recommendations? ^_^;;

If you're interested in Thelema, part of the problem of studying it is that while Crowley presented a consistent and coherent philosophy, it is spread out over a lot of works, and he isn't always terribly clear about what he's saying (and much of what he writes is wrapped in an idiom that requires a working knowledge of Qabalah, the Book of the Law, and other estoeric bits of knowledge that not everyone has).

A good way to begin would be to read an overview of Crowley's philosophy. The best text for doing so is Erwin Hessle's "Thelemic Primer" (available here: http://www.erwinhessle.com/writings/thelp.php ). This text will give you a general overview and a "lay of the land," as it were.

From there, I would also recommend Erwin's essay on what the term True Will means in Thelema ( http://www.erwinhessle.com/writings/truewill.php ) and on the process of Thelemic attainment (an explication of AL I:8-9: http://www.erwinhessle.com/writings/khabkhu.php ).

With some grounding in the concepts, you're reading to tackle some of the core Crowley texts, and the best of these for a beginner are the following:

Liber II ("The Message of the Master Therion"): http://hermetic.com/crowley/libers/lib2.html

De Lege Libellum: http://hermetic.com/crowley/libers/lib150.html

The Law of Liberty: http://hermetic.com/crowley/libers/lib837.html

Reading all of the above will give you a very solid grounding in Thelema. From there, I would undertake a study of The Holy Books of Thelema, focusing especially on The Book of the Law (see Erwin's Liber AL study guide: http://www.erwinhessle.com/writings/alsg.php ).

From there, your inclination should be your guide, but I would recommend Liber Aleph for a further explication of the Book of the Law, the Book of Thoth for a very deep insight into the tarot (and, in the process, of Thelemic initiation), and all of Book 4 (affectionately known as the "Big Blue Brick").

If you're fond of puzzles and interpreting texts, The Book of Lies (falsely so-called) is also a very useful and informative (and fun) text.

That's enough to keep you busy for a couple of years. If you have any questions, feel free to ask.


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Walterfive
(@walterfive)
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Posts: 860
02/02/2012 10:09 pm  

Oh, the best place to start, IMHO, for Magick is "Magick: Book Four/Liber ABA," and Lon Milo Duquette's "Magick of Thelema"  or "Magick of Aleister Crowley", the more recent version. You can get the individual parts separately, (for years a student had no other option) but with so many reproduction/print-on-demand presses out there charging ridiculous prices it is getting difficult for someone who's not knowledgable to know which editions to pick to assemble them. Not only that, but Magick:Book 4/ Liber ABA is designed by the editor to be a stand-alone volume; it has volumous appendices of material that you'll want, and eventually need, if you continue in your endeavors in the O.T.O. Copies can be obtained for under $50.00, this price may seem a little stiff, but not really, not for the amount and quality of the material you're getting.

The best place to start for The Book of the Law is "The Law Is For All" as "Magical and Philosophical  Commentaries to the Book of the Law" is 37 years out of print. This text contains several of Crowley's commentaries on Liber L/Liber Al/Liber Al vel Legis and is indispensible for deeper understanding.

Contrary to the prior poster, I don't reccomend Liber Aleph. Crowley's misogyny really comes through in that one.

Eventually you'll want to familiarize yourself with all of the Holy Books; The Equinox Vol. III, No. 9, "The Holy Books of Thelema" is the book to go to but it is currently out of print and cost prohibitive. The Equinox Vol. IV, No. 2, Commentaries on The Holy Books and Other Papers is also currently out of print and rather cost prohibitive. Most of the Holy Books can be found in "Gems From The Equinox" and that's a real bargain, copies sell new on Amazon for under $33

The best place to start to learn about the Order is the Equinox Vol. III, No. 10.


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Azidonis
(@azidonis)
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Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 3000
03/02/2012 1:07 am  

In my opinion, the best place to "start reading Crowley" is with Crowley's works themselves. From there, you can make up your own mind how to approach both his works, and the works of those who have come after him, in one way or another. But definitely start with Crowley first.

I started with "The Law is for All" back in the day, but it just sort of happened that way.


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alysa
(@alysa)
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Joined: 12 years ago
Posts: 652
03/02/2012 3:17 am  

Hi, OnTheOtherHand and welcome to Lashtal.com, I agree with Azidonis here, if you want to read the works by Aleister Crowley, just read them, that by the way, is always the advice I give to any newcomer to the works of Crowley (I mean in private, I did not any one time gave this advice directly through  Lashtal, but there's always a first time!) it just happened that one of the first works I read by him was also "The Law is for All", best wishes!


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 Anonymous
Joined: 50 years ago
Posts: 0
03/02/2012 6:41 am  

Welcome to LAShTAL.COM, OnTheOtherHand 🙂

I would suggest the "Confessions", if you haven't read it already.
I think it's a good place to start, as it offers the opportunity to have an overview of a big part of AC's life and comprehend some of his ways.

Regards
Hecate


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 Anonymous
Joined: 50 years ago
Posts: 0
03/02/2012 8:50 pm  

Wow, a lot of responses... okay, here we go!

To everyone who responded: Thank you very much for your advice! I truly appreciate the broad spectrum of opinions that were given here.
To Dar: While that does help with understanding the ontology of Crowley's works and helps me to understand a lot of what was talked about during last week's Mass Discussion group (i.e. Class A v. Class D text), I'm afraid it doesn't give me a good starting point.
To WilliamThirteen: That would be interesting to see, another passion of mine is of studying the vast Red Paranoia that existed back in the 50s. Yes, that includes L Ron Hubbard and J Edgar Hoover. 🙂
To Los: I like your proposed study guide, and I think that it will work for me as I am afraid that I do not understand Tarot and Qaballah. After all, it would be nice to understand exactly what the hell I am reading. ^_^
To Walterfive: Thanks for the advice and the warning about Liber Aleph. Sounds like if I want the Crowley texts only in print, I'm going to have to resort to eBay and Amazon.com Used Book sales to get a copy of Magick Book 4 and Commentaries. ^_^
To Azidonus and Alysa: I don't mean to sound unseemly but the fact of the matter is that there is A LOT of material by Crowley and I guess I want to start in the place that will help me to build up to Crowley's more complex or esoteric works. The first (and frankly, only) book of Crowley I've ever read was Liber AL and I'm afraid that it was quite too esoteric for me with my current (lack of) understanding of Thelema and Crowley's works.
Hecate: Thanks for that input. I haven't read Confessions yet and I think I'll fit it into my early reading schedule.


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Azidonis
(@azidonis)
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Posts: 3000
03/02/2012 9:27 pm  

http://www.sacred-texts.com/oto/lib4.htm

It's a decent primer. The fact of the matter is that, as you have noted, Crowley's work covers a very broad spectrum. How much broader then, is the spectrum of those who have come after them, even if there are attempts to "bring into focus" one or more aspects of his work. There are many schools of thought within Thelema, and hopping into one or another abruptly, especially with no training, can serve to set you up for even more traps than those that already exist with Crowley's works.

Regardless of how you choose to approach the subject, you still need to make up your own mind, regardless of what any of the quacks out there will tell you. Such a principle is actually a hallmark of Thelema, and one would be well advised to practice making up one's own mind from the start.

That you aren't getting any assistance from the local O.T.O. body that you plan to join (assuming you've asked for it), makes me wonder why you'd go through with the initiation in the first place. That you are looking for outside opinions is admirable, but still, they should have the resources and training to assist you in these matters.


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 Anonymous
Joined: 50 years ago
Posts: 0
03/02/2012 11:45 pm  
"Azidonis" wrote:
http://www.sacred-texts.com/oto/lib4.htm

It's a decent primer. The fact of the matter is that, as you have noted, Crowley's work covers a very broad spectrum. How much broader then, is the spectrum of those who have come after them, even if there are attempts to "bring into focus" one or more aspects of his work. There are many schools of thought within Thelema, and hopping into one or another abruptly, especially with no training, can serve to set you up for even more traps than those that already exist with Crowley's works.

Regardless of how you choose to approach the subject, you still need to make up your own mind, regardless of what any of the quacks out there will tell you. Such a principle is actually a hallmark of Thelema, and one would be well advised to practice making up one's own mind from the start.

That you aren't getting any assistance from the local O.T.O. body that you plan to join (assuming you've asked for it), makes me wonder why you'd go through with the initiation in the first place. That you are looking for outside opinions is admirable, but still, they should have the resources and training to assist you in these matters.

Perhaps so. It does seem kind of unwieldy and I guess that it would be a good idea to stick with Crowley's works because they are confusing enough... not to mention all of the supplemental material - you are right on that regard.

I understand that ultimately, I must make up my own mind. However, I don't think I can make up my mind when I am lacking in understanding of the material and I figure it's important to plow through the material in some way or another so I can understand it.

I guess I haven't really asked for help from my local OTO body. I'll be sure to do so and see what they have to say on Sunday. ^_^


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Azidonis
(@azidonis)
Member
Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 3000
04/02/2012 2:11 am  
"OnTheOtherHand" wrote:
Perhaps so. It does seem kind of unwieldy and I guess that it would be a good idea to stick with Crowley's works because they are confusing enough... not to mention all of the supplemental material - you are right on that regard.

I understand it can be entirely overwhelming, at first. When I began my study and practice many years ago, I consumed anything I could get my hands on (by any author), but I ended up studying many subjects at once, and had to spend years synthesizing all the material. I bit off quite a chunk, but was luckily able to chew it. While this may work for some, others may prefer a more focused approach.

If you are interested mainly in the Qabalah, 777 is Crowley's masterpiece on the subject. But, one has to consider that Crowley himself drew from many different sources, so in some cases you are getting second hand information. So, what to do? Well, there are a number of other solid books on the subject. I happen to like Godwin's Cabalistic Encyclopedia for a good overview. But writings on the Qabalah began centuries ago, and you can find more information on that from the many translations of the Zohar and Sepher Yetzirah. Many attributions of Crowley's also came from the Hermetic Order of the Gold Dawn, and those attributions do not always match up to the Hebrew. There is also a Greek Qabalah, Arabic, and many English Qabalahs (I would advise staying away from the English Qabalah in the beginning). So really, just with the Qabalah, there are very many directions you can head in. Dr. Israel Regardie and Dion Fortune both have written notable works on the subject, and there are many others (such as Gershom Scholem) . And that's just the Qabalah!

Some works are easier to find than others, and prices vary. While I don't know if it is a standard O.T.O. practice, some camps, lodges, etc. will have a bookshelf or two with material you can read, and even "check out", though I doubt the latter offer is widely available to the general public. Many of them also hold workshops and such, where you can go and learn that way.

"OnTheOtherHand" wrote:
I understand that ultimately, I must make up my own mind. However, I don't think I can make up my mind when I am lacking in understanding of the material and I figure it's important to plow through the material in some way or another so I can understand it.

I agree. The issue comes when you have three or four sources telling you three or four different things, and you have to try and decide between them. What's worse, is that neither of those four sources will be necessarily wrong, as in the case with color scales. Of course, that's part of the program, but if you are going to choose Thelema (or Thelema chose you), starting with its prophet and working your way up from there may be a safer approach. You'll get more than your money's worth just questioning Crowley, that's for sure! 🙂

"OnTheOtherHand" wrote:
I guess I haven't really asked for help from my local OTO body. I'll be sure to do so and see what they have to say on Sunday. ^_^

They will probably be glad to help.

Also, the O.T.O. has an "associate member" thing. I'm not sure what all it entails, but it can help you get in and get your feet wet, before you take any oaths or bind yourself in other ways to something you may or may not regret in the future. Questions I would advise anyone to ask before joining any organization is, "What can X do for me that no other group can? What does it offer? What would my duties entail," etc. The "Book 4" I linked you has a section on Oaths (Chapter VI and VII in particular). It is definitely worth a read if you are looking to see Crowley's view on what can essentially be life-binding commitments.

I personally am not a member of the O.T.O., but there are many active members that frequent this site who would probably be happy to help (a forum search couldn't hurt either).

Walterfive has also offered some wonderful advice concerning the O.T.O., especially The Equinox Vol 3. No. 10. Here's a link to online versions of "The Equinox". I'm not sure if it is 'legal' to post this link here on LAShTAL, but if it gets pulled down just Google "the-equinox" and it's the 4th entry (the-equinox.org).

Then of course, there is always the A:.A:. Student Reading List.

As always, best wishes in the Great Work!


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 Anonymous
Joined: 50 years ago
Posts: 0
10/02/2012 12:14 pm  

93,

The first book I read or rather tried to read when I discovered Crowley was The Equinox Vol 1.
From my experience I found this just to advanced for me and it was really Liber Aba that started to clear things up.

However, a lot of the modern books have also been useful for me such as:

Yoga for Magick - Nancy Wasserman
The Magick of Aleister Crowley - Lon Milo DuQuette
The Probationars Handbook - George T Mortimer

These give a good summary on the yoga and ritual side of Magick but for Thelema the most helpful for me were:

The Holy Books of Thelema
Commentaries on the Holy Books
The law is for all

I agree with some of the other posters that Crowley should be your main source but to assist in interpreting his works I did find the modern commentaries very useful.


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 Anonymous
Joined: 50 years ago
Posts: 0
10/02/2012 3:04 pm  
"Walterfive" wrote:
Contrary to the prior poster, I don't reccomend Liber Aleph. Crowley's misogyny really comes through in that one.

His misogyny aside, Liber Aleph is still an excellent book that covers a wide variety of topics.  It is as Crowley described "an extended and elaborate commentary on The Book of the Law, in the form of a letter from the Master Therion to his magical son."


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Walterfive
(@walterfive)
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Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 860
10/02/2012 8:26 pm  

It *can be* an excellent book, but not one I'd throw to a beginner, like our friend here. Give them time to come to the conclusion that Crowley wasn't exactly a misogynist, or a racist, he was more of a Misanthropist: when one has read enough of his works, one realizes he railed against everyone sooner or later, men, women, Western Oriental Hindus, Blacks, Germans, Americans, Italians. *Then* they can choose to overlook it when Uncle Al says that 'women don't have souls' if it be their Will.

Oh, and on the subject of "Gems From The Equinox" I picked up a Very Good copy of the 1st New Falcon edition for under $10 including postage!


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 Anonymous
Joined: 50 years ago
Posts: 0
11/02/2012 8:12 am  

Greetings!

Yes, I've noticed that, too. However it seems to me that he just verbalized every single thought of his - he wouldn't try to judge and modificate his thoughts and behaviour in order to appear nice to others, as most people do. Of course, I wouldn't call him a sweet loving person, but I would't call him a misanthropist, either.
(In fact, I don't think I can call him anything but Aleister)  🙂

Regards
Hecate


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Markus
(@markus)
Member
Joined: 9 years ago
Posts: 253
11/02/2012 6:22 pm  

I agree, Hecate. The Old Sinner could hardly have been misanthropic considering he devoted his entire life and fortune to the advancement of humanity! Nor was he a racist. Having endured incessant racial abuse throughout my entire childhood I can vouch for the fact that calling a German a Hun, or an Indian a Paki, etc. is not necessarily racist. It depends on the underlying intent of the exclamation, and in Crowley's case it was (usually) not designed to inflict suffering. - And his misogynism? Well, the greatest misogynists are precisely those men utterly smitten by the fair sex (Nietzsche comes to mind). Old Crow liked to provoke - that's all. In fact it reminds me of the words of Mrs. Cohen, Brian's mum: "He's not the messiah, he's a very naughty boy!"

Markus


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 Anonymous
Joined: 50 years ago
Posts: 0
11/02/2012 9:01 pm  

I just think Aleister was an Aspie!  🙂 

93's.


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