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Greetings! My first encounter with the works of Aleister Crowley was about 10 years ago. I picked up a copy of Liber ALEPH in the 'New Age' section of a Borders bookstore, took it home, read it, and realized that it made absolutely no sense to me. Turns out, Liber ALEPH isn't the best place to start when reading Crowley (I also had no previous experience with any aspect of the occult).

Recently, though, I have become interested in esoteric topics again, especially the tarot. I am also an avid book collector, and with Crowley, there are plenty of titles to collect. I've spent the past few months tracking most of them down, including a Weiser Equinox Vol. 1. Now I am determined to overcome my previous confusions and finally comprehend something of his philosophy and the Western Hermetic tradition.

I immensely enjoy Crowley's poetry and fiction, but I'd really like to move on to works like Magick in Theory and Practice. In preparation for this, I am reading Perdurabo: The Life of Aleister Crowley by Richard Kaczynski and a book called Qabalah for Beginners. I joined this forum in hopes to discuss various topics as I go along and seek answers to questions.

Thanks to all who contribute to this amazing site/forum. I've been lurking here for some time and have found the content very informative.   


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Hamal
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Welcome Andrew!

I'm sure you will enjoy the forum.

93
Hamal


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jamie barter
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"Andrew " wrote:
Greetings! My first encounter with the works of Aleister Crowley was about 10 years ago. I picked up a copy of Liber ALEPH in the 'New Age' section of a Borders bookstore, took it home, read it, and realized that it made absolutely no sense to me. Turns out, Liber ALEPH isn't the best place to start when reading Crowley (I also had no previous experience with any aspect of the occult). [...]

Yes Andrew, Liber Aleph is NOT the best place to start delving into A.C. – in fact, I would nominate it as one of the very worst!  (Any other contenders, anyone?) 

"Andrew " wrote:
I immensely enjoy Crowley's poetry and fiction, but I'd really like to move on to works like Magick in Theory and Practice. In preparation for this, I am reading Perdurabo: The Life of Aleister Crowley by Richard Kaczynski and a book called Qabalah for Beginners. I joined this forum in hopes to discuss various topics as I go along and seek answers to questions.

I wouldn’t go straight to MTP, either.  My personal recommendation would be Confessions and Magick Without Tears for a general overview, followed by a dip into Gems from The Equinox – but then as you seem to have gone straight to The Equinox Vol. I, that might not apply.  THEN maybe, if your cabbala and general knowledge around the subject is sound enough, proceed to MTP and/or BooK Four.

Congratulations – you must be one of the very few people who not only profess to liking A.C.’s poetry, but will go so far as to admit to it in publick also!  It has rather unfairly a “bum rap” on the whole.  (Or maybe that should be bum rep?)  The plays, maybe more so justified. 

I hope you will get at least some of your questions answered satisfactorily on the Lash.  It is essential that you remember, of course though, that this is NOT an “occult site”!  (I have often wondered what that means, myself, being as how it is in full view…  ??? )

And since you seem to have forgone the usual Introductions route, let me say You are well come, Andrew, and “we accept you, we accept you, one of us, one of us!”, my standard greeting of friendship on behalf of “us” all!

Yours in Thelema,
Norma N Joy Conquest


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Hamal
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"jamie barter" wrote:
Congratulations – you must be one of the very few people who not only profess to liking A.C.’s poetry, but will go so far as to admit to it in publick also!  It has rather unfairly a “bum rap” on the whole.  (Or maybe that should be bum rep?)  The plays, maybe more so justified. 

I like quite a lot of his poetry, and somehow have the feeling that in time I will learn to like the ones I have yet to warm to. I confess to particularly liking his rude poems!  😀

And there are plenty of people out there who like his poetry, I think its just that within the magickal fraternity people tend not to pay them much attention, which I personally believe is a big mistake because I think they are integral to the Crowley experience/message/agenda etc.

😀
93
Hamal


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jamie barter
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"Hamal" wrote:
[...] And there are plenty of people out there who like his poetry, I think its just that within the magickal fraternity people tend not to pay them much attention, which I personally believe is a big mistake because I think they are integral to the Crowley experience/message/agenda etc.

Maybe I’ve got the wrong impression somehow; but you may well be right Hamal, that within the “magickal fraternity”, as you put it, his poetry is relatively neglected.  Rather a shame imho, since as the old boy has it,

A poem is a series of words so arranged that the combination of meaning, rhythm and rime produces the definitely magical effect of exalting the soul to divine ecstasy.  Poetry is the geyser of the Unconscious.  Since 'Every man and every woman is a star', each one of us is, or makes, his [or her] own poem; expressed, or unexpressed, in Song... Poetry reveals the Godhead in every man and woman through the expression of rapture at the ecstatic moment of Union with that Godhead; thereby to show as just and perfect every soul that is.

- In fact, I couldn’t have put it better myself! 😀
N Joy


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Hamal
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"jamie barter" wrote:
Maybe I’ve got the wrong impression somehow; but you may well be right Hamal, that within the “magickal fraternity”, as you put it, his poetry is relatively neglected.  Rather a shame imho, since as the old boy has it,

A poem is a series of words so arranged that the combination of meaning, rhythm and rime produces the definitely magical effect of exalting the soul to divine ecstasy.  Poetry is the geyser of the Unconscious.  Since 'Every man and every woman is a star', each one of us is, or makes, his [or her] own poem; expressed, or unexpressed, in Song... Poetry reveals the Godhead in every man and woman through the expression of rapture at the ecstatic moment of Union with that Godhead; thereby to show as just and perfect every soul that is.

- In fact, I couldn’t have put it better myself! 😀
N Joy

That is an interesting quote. I think at least some of Crowleys' poems potentially fulfil a role akin to Zen Buddhist koans. This is why I believe it is a mistake for students of magick to overlook them.

😀
93
Hamal


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William Thirteen
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funnily enough i was just reading "Aceldama" and "The Tale of Archais" this afternoon, having tossed CW1 in my sack as i headed out.

I am unworthy.  In the House of Pain
there are ten thousand shrines. Each one enfolds
A lesser, inner, more divine, that holds
A sin less palpable and less profane.
The inmost is the home of God. He moulds
    Infinity,
The great within the small, one stainless unity!


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the_real_simon_iff
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93!

It should also not be forgotten that AC saw himself essentially as a poet - a profession that might very well include being a magician.

Love=Law
Lutz


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jamie barter
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I don’t know why I mentioned earlier that you “seem to have forgone the usual Introductions route” here – I think I may have mistakenly gone by your thread title “Secret Knowledge” and thought, seeing that, that it was under a different section.  Apologies for any confusion which may have been caused, Andrew! (& anyone else).

“As you were”, as it were…!

With best wishes
N Joy

However “while I happen to be here”, regarding your statement

"Andrew " wrote:
Recently, though, I have become interested in esoteric topics again, especially the tarot. [...]

Some people find Crowley’s The Book of Thoth itself a bit heavy going by way of an introduction to the subject, but as you probably realise there are hundreds of books available on the Tarot.  I personally found a rather good synthesis of many of the worthwhile divinatory parts of a lot of them to be Bill Butler’s “The Definitive Tarot”.  Robert Wang's “Qabalistic Tarot” is also an excellent overview of the topic, with that particular aspect in mind.  (I think they might be available as pdf's?)  You might in addition find both Paul Foster Case of the B.O.T.A.’s “The Book of Tokens” and his book on the subject, as well as Gerald Suster’s “The Truth about the Tarot” very good reading also, and as two very good ‘general’ introductions to the matter I’d furthermore recommend Rachel Pollack’s “Seventy Eight Degrees of Wisdom” and Alfred Douglas’ “The Tarot”.  Some Lashtalians may of course disagree with me, but these are the ones I found particularly useful for what it may be worth, and others may perhaps care to make alternative/ additional suggestions if they should feel so inclined.


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belmurru
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"jamie barter" wrote:
"Andrew " wrote:
Recently, though, I have become interested in esoteric topics again, especially the tarot. [...]

Some people find Crowley’s The Book of Thoth itself a bit heavy going by way of an introduction to the subject, but as you probably realise there are hundreds of books available on the Tarot.  I personally found a rather good synthesis of many of the worthwhile divinatory parts of a lot of them to be Bill Butler’s “The Definitive Tarot”.  Robert Wang's “Qabalistic Tarot” is also an excellent overview of the topic, with that particular aspect in mind.  (I think they might be available as pdf's?)  You might in addition find both Paul Foster Case of the B.O.T.A.’s “The Book of Tokens” and his book on the subject, as well as Gerald Suster’s “The Truth about the Tarot” very good reading also, and as two very good ‘general’ introductions to the matter I’d furthermore recommend Rachel Pollack’s “Seventy Eight Degrees of Wisdom” and Alfred Douglas’ “The Tarot”.  Some Lashtalians may of course disagree with me, but these are the ones I found particularly useful for what it may be worth, and others may perhaps care to make alternative/ additional suggestions if they should feel so inclined.

Sorry I missed this Andrew; thanks for bringing it up Jamie. Tarot is easily my favorite esoteric subject - exoteric as well - so I hope we can get some discussions going on here about the Book of Thoth and anything relevant to it.

I can only echo Jamies that there are too many books to start with; add websites, forums and discussion groups dedicated to Tarot. It all depends on what you want. Since you're here, I imagine that is Crowley's system, so that narrows things down a bit.

I'm not familiar with the Sun card you've chosen as an avatar - which deck is it from? The artwork looks vaguely like that of the late Brian Williams, who designed "The PoMo Tarot" and a version of the Italian Minchiate deck, with accompanying book "The Renaissance Tarot". Or that of Robert Place...


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lashtal
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"jamie barter" wrote:
Rather a shame imho, since as the old boy has it,

A poem is a series of words so arranged that the combination of meaning, rhythm and rime produces the definitely magical effect of exalting the soul to divine ecstasy.  Poetry is the geyser of the Unconscious.  Since 'Every man and every woman is a star', each one of us is, or makes, his [or her] own poem; expressed, or unexpressed, in Song... Poetry reveals the Godhead in every man and woman through the expression of rapture at the ecstatic moment of Union with that Godhead; thereby to show as just and perfect every soul that is.

Okay, I give up! What's the source? The best I could find was from 'City Of God':

Poetry is the geyser of the Unconscious.
Poetry is the intelligible musical expression of the Real
whose mirror is the phenomenal Universe.

Unless you're quoting 'Confessions'?

A poem is a series of words so arranged that the combination of meaning, rhythm and rime produces the definitely magical effect of exalting the soul to divine ecstasy.

Do please provide the source. You're obviously fond of the quote, given your use of it in your welcome to Hamal back in August 2013: http://www.lashtal.com/forum/http://www.lashtal.com/forums/viewtopic.php?p=78036#p78036

Owner and Editor
LAShTAL


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jamie barter
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"lashtal" wrote:
Okay, I give up! What's the source? The best I could find was from 'City Of God':

Poetry is the geyser of the Unconscious.
Poetry is the intelligible musical expression of the Real
whose mirror is the phenomenal Universe.

Unless you're quoting 'Confessions'?

A poem is a series of words so arranged that the combination of meaning, rhythm and rime produces the definitely magical effect of exalting the soul to divine ecstasy.

Do please provide the source.

Aaaargh!  You’ve got me there, Paul!  As anyone who regularly reads my posts might notice, I almost always provide fairly detailed information on sources - including more often than not page references - for those interested in tracking something down further.  For this one, I wrote the whole of it down years ago in a notebook (probably when I was studying Eng Lit at uni) in the course of noting remarks of a general nature made by various writers about poetry, and A.C. happened to be amongst those ones I included.  Unfortunately (and I had a feeling about this at the time!) I omitted to itemise references on this particular one.

That having said, I am also almost certain it was a compendium made of two (possibly three) different A.C. quotations on the subject, one of them definitely coming from Confessions somewhere as you say; the other MAYBE from City of God; but the remainder of it I believe possibly came from the Introduction to Olla (which as I don’t have easily available to hand at the moment, can’t double check that).  If you particularly want to know, and no other Lashtalian can follow it up more specifically from these clues in the meantime, I can try and research the matter further for you in due course.

"lashtal" wrote:
You're obviously fond of the quote, given your use of it in your welcome to Hamal back in August 2013: http://www.lashtal.com/forum/http://www.lashtal.com/forums/viewtopic.php?p=78036#p78036

So I did!  So I was!  (So I am!)

"the_real_simon_iff" wrote:
It should also not be forgotten that AC saw himself essentially as a poet - a profession that might very well include being a magician.

Interesting observation, Lutz, with the magician being a sub-set of the poet, rather than the other way around; also, in that A.C. was keen to actually incorporate poetry within the rituals of the O.T.O. (as can be verified further, sourcewise, by examining Francis King’s book on the subject): For instance, Swinburne’s Atalanta in Calydon is used in the I[sup:1vyps08x]o[/sup:1vyps08x] and Dolores in the II[sup:1vyps08x]o[/sup:1vyps08x]; but “alternatives” from A.C.’s own work for use in the ceremonial were suggested as  possibly coming from: “Orpheus’ Hymn to Aphrodite” – “Roll, Strong Life Current”; also the “Isis I Am” extract from Tannhäuser; “My Soul is an Enchanted Boat”; and “Uncharmable Chamber” [sic].  Further, in addition to the "Hymn to Honorius" by Eliphas Lévi in The Equinox Vol. I No, with the III[sup:1vyps08x]o[/sup:1vyps08x] ritual he also includes the poetical extract from “I Am that I Am” to the end, of his magickal mystery-play The Ship.  Obviously, the power deriving therefrom would be enormously dependent upon the skill of the orator/ initiator participating, and one [the candidate] would have to hope that s/he was skilled in the art of declaiming poetry aloud.

With regards:
N Joy


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jamie barter
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As I suspected, the quote given appeared to have been in two parts - “City of God” was a red herring; although not without relevance.

The first sentence was indeed from Confessions as you mentioned Paul; the remainder of this quote from the words of A.C. also came from the Introduction - or, as A.C. himself put it, the “Apologia” -  to Olla, for relative newcomers' benefit: the last book of his to be published before he died, being a Winter Solstice 1946 anthology to commemorate what he called “Sixty years of Song”.  (This meant that he had been “at” poetry for 11+ more years than he had been a magician (48 years and one month, at the time of publication).

That second quote was in two parts, right at the beginning and right at the end of the Apologia, and were separated by dots “ … “ on my part (which were not in the original text).  I therefore am providing the following full extract specifically in order to give everybody interested its proper context:

“Life, like a dome of many-coloured glass” – Adonais.
“Everything that lives is holy.” – William Blake.-

APOLOGIA[/align:1wzlut4f]

Poetry is the geyser of the Unconscious.  Since “Every man and every woman is a star,” each of us is, or makes, his own poem; expressed, or unexpressed, in song.  Robert Browning understood this; almost the whole of his work consists of the utterances of very varied individuals.  But these are dramatizations of the speaker, analytically disclosed, and rationally set forth.  His lyrics are, with the rarest exceptions, the uprush of his own personal genius.

When I consider my own work, it appears that I have constantly put myself into the soul of various types of men and women, identified myself with their inmost creative Word, lent them my technique, and let them exult for themselves.

Thus “Amphora” records the devout yet (unconsciously) passionate outbursts of a Catholic Christian woman; “Alice,” of a romantic boy in love, the seed of doubt and disillusion beginning to sprout; “Clouds without water,” of a sexual maniac who is also a man of the world, a sardonic jester, and a mystic.  Such impersonations are almost as frequent as the ecstatic moods of Our Lady, of the many-minded, many throned Aphropite, weaver of wiles.

“What a nice poem …. is; I think it ever so pretty! Why can’t you always write like that?”  So says nearly everybody about some poem or other of mine.

A striking instance of this mental obfuscation received some publicity in the Court of King’s Bench some years ago.
In CROWLEY v. CONSTABLE et al., Mr. Malcom Hilbery K.C., found occasion to recite my popular song, which Gwendolen Otter had endeared to the cultured and magnanimous cognoscenti of our great Metropolis – the “Dilettanti,” you remember? – “The World for a Whore!”  I found his rendering most acceptable, and he was rewarded with a judgeship.  I murmured “Go on!” as usual, for Mr. Hilberry’s quotations from my works were adroitly curtailed to suit his purpose; the next sentence or two was certain to give a totally different significance to the chosen passage.

But my own counsel, Mr. J.P. Eddy, emulous, jumped up and obliged with “An Hymn for the American Republic”; which breathes piety and patriotism in every punctuation mark.  He did it well enough, and was allowed, shortly afterwards, to take silk.
The judge – Jeffreys, the name was, an memory betray me not – sat astounded.  [= The 17th century “hanging judge” of notorious renown in English history – J.B.] He positively stammered; “Is that really the same book?”  “The very next page, m’lud!”  Stupor!

This book  is to make clear the poetic standpoint.

I have made this collection of short poems as diverse as possible; time and space have been asked their utmost range; every corner of the earth which has contributed to my delight, and every period of my life which has modulated my music, have lent a flower to this posy.

Louis Marlow, subtlest, profoundest, and wittiest writer of the last two generations, has found the word for my work: surprising.  This is the root of the superstitious fear which I impose on nearly every reader.  The more I write, the less can I be classified, docketed, pigeon-holed; omne ignotum pro terribili is still the pill-box defence against science, against every shape of thought until it has been rolled in enough dirt to make it a soft, comfortable cliché.

The grotesque contradictions of these poems have been deliberately enhanced by contraposition; they tear in sunder the veil of my soul, and clothe it in disguise only the more impenetrable for that fact.

To wind up this thesis, here, it concludes, “The Garden of Janus,” my poetic summary of the above truth: of me it is written: "Vel sanctum invenit, vel sanctum fecit.”  My object is to proclaim the duty of every poet; and this is :- to reveal the Godhead in every man and woman through the expression of each one’s rapture at the ecstatic moment of Union with that Godhead; thereby to show as just and perfect every soul that is.”

ALEISTER CROWLEY[/align:1wzlut4f]

I trust that has now answered your query!

I have taken extra care with typing it through & proofreading as this seems to be an important passage; hopefully no errors will have managed to wriggle through though, regardless.

Tally ho & hip hip huzzah!
N Joy


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lashtal
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Thanks for that, Jamie.

"jamie barter" wrote:
I trust that has now answered your query!

Now I can stop searching!

Owner and Editor
LAShTAL


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Anonymous
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"jamie barter" wrote:
I don’t know why I mentioned earlier that you “seem to have forgone the usual Introductions route” here – I think I may have mistakenly gone by your thread title “Secret Knowledge” and thought, seeing that, that it was under a different section.  Apologies for any confusion which may have been caused, Andrew! (& anyone else).

No worries! My thread is titled "Seeking Knowledge." 😀 Thanks for you assistance in recommending reading list titles, Jamie.

I'm just about finished with Purdurabo and that book on the Qabalah and will be moving on to Magick Without Tears, the Weiser Concise Guide, and Abrahadabra: Understanding Aleister Crowley's Thelemic Magick by Rodney Orpheus right after. I also just finished reading James Wasserman's In the Center of the Fire: A Memoir of the Occult 1966-1989 which gives a good overview of post-Crowley OTO history.

I realize that this is not an "occult" forum, so my questions will be limited to ones that help me understand what significance certain practices were to Crowley. I am still greatly confused about Qabalah; I know there is a Tree of Life and that there are certain meanings attributed to the Sephiroth and Pathways, but I don't get what you are actually supposed to "do" with this information (let alone what all those tables, numbers, and charts are for). Do you meditate on certain names/numbers/significances? How does one actually "work" this system or know where you are on the Tree? 

I've discovered that before I can even attempt to study Crowley, I need to really cover a few prerequisites (astrology, Qabalah, Tarot, numerology, Hermeticism). So I hope you won't mind my occasional newbie questions regarding context.

As for the Sun card avatar, I'm not sure what deck it comes from. I pulled it off Google.


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jamie barter
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"lashtal" wrote:
Thanks for that, Jamie. [...]
"Andrew " wrote:
[...] Thanks for you assistance in recommending reading list titles, Jamie.

You’re both most welcome.  It may surprise some observers to learn that thelemites are not all selfish, immoral and unprincipled bastards and that we can try to help one another out where & whenever we can! 

"Andrew " wrote:
"jamie barter" wrote:
I don’t know why I mentioned earlier that you “seem to have forgone the usual Introductions route” here – I think I may have mistakenly gone by your thread title “Secret Knowledge” and thought, seeing that, that it was under a different section.  Apologies for any confusion which may have been caused, Andrew! (& anyone else).

No worries! My thread is titled "Seeking Knowledge." 😀 [...] I'm just about finished with Purdurabo

Yes, I have indeed misread ‘Secret’ Knowledge for ‘Seeking’ Knowledge here - similar to you misreading ‘Perdurabo’ for ‘Purdurabo’, in fact!  (There seems to be a lot of it going about at the moment!  Moral: must concentrate and pay attention to detail harder!)

"Andrew " wrote:
I realize that this is not an "occult" forum, so my questions will be limited to ones that help me understand what significance certain practices were to Crowley. I am still greatly confused about Qabalah; I know there is a Tree of Life and that there are certain meanings attributed to the Sephiroth and Pathways, but I don't get what you are actually supposed to "do" with this information (let alone what all those tables, numbers, and charts are for). Do you meditate on certain names/numbers/significances? How does one actually "work" this system or know where you are on the Tree? 

I've discovered that before I can even attempt to study Crowley, I need to really cover a few prerequisites (astrology, Qabalah, Tarot, numerology, Hermeticism). So I hope you won't mind my occasional newbie questions regarding context.

I’m not quite sure that I totally understand your question, in that I am equally unsure what it is you might be looking for.  Without going into long and possibly irrelevant explanations (and others I’m sure might be able to help you out as well), the basic point about the Qabalah (variations: kabbalah, or as I prefer it myself: cabbala) is that it is a system of correspondences; some have likened it to a filing cabinet.  You may know this already through your reading of course, in which case I apologise for labouring what might be obvious.  These correspondences form linkages between what might appear to be otherwise quite disparate phenomena in relation to The Tree of Life, upon which everything is based (including the manifest world, the human being and the Tarot itself; hence Crowley’s perceptive remark, after Alice in Wonderland: “You’re nothing but a pack of cards”!)  Crowley’s catalogue entitled “777” (itself based upon work begun by Allan Bennett and Samuel L. MacGregor Mathers; various other people have added to it and updated it over the years also) covers this ground in some detail.  In a practical application, the cabbala can be used for example in the construction of a ritual (generally more effective if you construct your own in a "Spareian" fashion, rather than follow a ‘cookbook’ after someone else, incidentally…)

Even though brief, I hope this may also have helped - have you also considered about affiliating with the magickal current of the A.’. A.’.?  (If so, “Choose ye well!”)  And again, if so, I would recommend for a first step to get the karmic wheels in motion, that you “ceremonially” sign the Oath of a Probationer, which you can do by yourself & which will work quite adequately, I think you will find, if sufficient intentionality is there on your part also.

May success be your proof & crown your endeavours!
N Joy


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