Kia x S’lba Equivalence?
Outer Gateways is really a superb book and rereading it recently has drawn my attention to focus more seriously on the Wisdom of S’lba. The first time I read it I may have neglected this part for I was more concerned on looking for the Stellar roots of the Goetia and Sumerian elements within Grant’s work. The meaning of S’lba and its Gnosis have been very appealing to me and, therefore, to my Magick in this second time.
The first verse of the Wisdom of S’lba, as transcribed in Outer Gateways, says: “Voidness is S'lba: Aossic-bel-Aossic in stance all perfect. The shadow of Sleep like a mist in the Void casts off images which are known as its dreaming”. And later on the book Grant explains: "The first chapter concerns the mystical identity of S'lba and Bel. These terms may be considered as here conveying meanings similar to the Hindu notions of Atman and Jivatman, similar but not identical”.
As I understand the text, S’lba is then similar to the inner-self (Atman in Sanskrit) or soul, the first principle, the primordial Self; while Bel then denotes the individual living entity (Jivatma), the empirical Self. At least these are the concepts one finds when researching a little on Hinduism and Jainism.
Grant says further: “S’lba, then, is pure undifferentiated Consciousness”. Perhaps we could more objectively distinguish S’lba from Bel due to this. S’lba being the “Cosmic” Self (and maybe the True Will) and Bel being the Self determined by the body, the external sense-organs, “mind” and intellect – “differentiated Consciousness” – dual thought.
Now, Spare uses the term “Zos” to express this concept we find in the Wisdom of S’lba as “Bel”. Spare described "Zos" as the human body and mind; And in The Book of Pleasure, Spare describes “Kia” as “the absolute freedom which being free is mighty enough to be ‘reality’ and free at any time: therefore is not potential or manifest (except as it's instant possibility) by ideas of freedom or ‘means’, but by the Ego being free to receive it, by being free of ideas about it and by not believing. The less said of it (Kia) the less obscure is it. Remember evolution teaches by terrible punishments-that conception is ultimate reality but not ultimate freedom from evolution”.
In my early teens, yet unaware of Grant or Spare, the first time I read of “Kia” was in Peter Carroll’s Liber Null. There, he says: “Will and perception are not separate but only appear so to the mind. The unity which appears to the mind to exert the twin functions of will and perception is called Kia by magicians. Sometimes it is called the spirit, or soul, or life force, instead”. And continues: “Kia cannot be experienced directly because it is the basis of consciousness (or experience), and it has no fixed qualities which the mind can latch on to. Kia is the consciousness, it is the elusive ‘I’ which confers self-awareness but does not seem to consist of anything itself”.
I personally find much equivalence here, both for Kia and S’lba and for Bel and Zos. Nevertheless, these terms appear separately in Outer Gateways and there is no mention to each other in correspondence within the Glossary. For instance, there is an entry for Kia as “A term used in Zos Kia Cultus to denote the ‘Atmospheric I’, or Cosmic Consciousness. Its emblem is the vulture because, like Time, it devours all things”; and there is a separate entry for S’lba as “The Self. Source of the Wisdom of the Stellar Tradition as epitomized in the Wisdom of S’lba”. And there is an entry for Zos as “A term coined by Austin Osman Spare to denote the body considered as a whole”. But there is no entry in the Glossary for Bel; maybe because a glossary-like explanation is given in the Qabalahs of Slba – I: “Bel or Bela is the copula, the manifesting link between Noumenon and phenomena, Self and its objects” – which definitely stands for Zos!
Does anybody else see a connection between those terms too? And if yes, why Grant considers them separately? Is that for the sake of the “Transmission’s integrity” only or there is another reason? Can we somehow connect the Wisdom of S’lba with Zos Kia Cultus?
I believe your spot when you compare these conceptions with each other. If S'lba equals Kia it's already connected.
The relationship between Zos and Kia is expounded on pretty throughly in Zos speaks.
Here is an interesting quote: "Who taught the photographer (ego)? Experience, plus other (cameras) and the demi-urges - originally the soul, which initially inspired as desired, from our necessity. Who created the soul? The absolute, as manifest (dimensional) likeness, because the undimensional is inconceivable. Man does not achieve the ultimate by leaps, slow progress has made him what he is from his experience and aptitude, not from choice."
From this quote it seems like the absolute is Kia and that the soul is equal to the "self". So maybe one should be a bit careful of equaling it to the soul.
The following may be of interest in terms of the above discussion:
Even though Chaos Magic Theory and Thelema recognize in their different ways that the will of the operator is the dominant factor in magick, they both possess a belief system which recognizes the importance of a being or force which is beyond or transcends “normal waking consciousness”. Apart from the force of Chaos itself, in chaos magic theory there is the Kia, a phrase directly annexed from Austin Spare. According to Spare’s cryptic reference in The Book of Pleasure (1913), Kia signified the following:
Remember that evolution teaches by terrible punishments – that conception is the ultimate reality but not the ultimate freedom from evolution. […] The absolute freedom which being free is mighty enough to be “reality” and free at any time: therefore it is not potential or manifest (except as its instant possibility) by ideas of freedom or “means”, but by the Ego being free to receive it, by being free of ideas about it and by not believing. The less said of it the less obscure it is.”
In the context of the situation that C.M.T. says a lot about it, that last sentence of Spare’s is both humorous and apt. The reason why Carroll comes up with another name for it – giving it another twist of meaning to describe what has already been adequately put forward in Thelema in terms of either Nuit, Hadit, or the Holy Guardian Angel – must come down to a reluctance on his part to grant that Chaos springs directly from ideas of Thelemic philosophy, in which all things imaginable really are possible.
The unity which appears to the mind to exert the twin functions of will and perception is called Kia by [chaos] magicians. Sometimes it is called the spirit, or soul, or life force, instead. […] Kia is but a small fragment of the great life force of the universe, which contains the twin impulses to immerse itself in duality and to escape from duality. It will continuously reincarnate until the first impulse is exhausted. The second impulse is the root of the mystic quest, the union of the liberated spirit with the great spirit. To the extent that Kia can become one with Chaos it can extend its will and perception into the universe to accomplish magic.
(Liber Null, pp. 28-9)[/align:2wew43xl]
Also, when the inventor of Chaos Magic Theory proudly declares in Chaos International no. 6 that
I am not a Thelemite for I perceive that the inmost part of myself and the universe is Chaos and that this Chaos manifests as love and hate [sic], fear and desire [sic], sex and death [sic]… incandescent stars and freezing vacuum [sic],
he fails to see that this is identically the same proposition as that stated by Crowley (and others), that 0=2 (and 2=0), as in 0=+1 -1, the combination of positive and negative, the yin and the yang.
In Liber NOX, Kia is described as “the Life force, represented by Atu 0, the Tarot Fool.” (Liber Null, p.60). This thoughtfully places the Chaotic concept within reach of the Tarot, Hebrew Cabbala and the Thelemic mathematical/ numerical system 777 – the tables of correspondence published by 666 (Crowley). Such an attribution would place it on the pathway between the first and second emanations of the Tree of Life, though, rather than being the first emanation of the Life force itself.
There seems to be a definite whiff of transcendental purpose abroad in the air: and in view of Carroll’s subsequent denigrations of “spirit” (see Chapter 8 ), it is rather amusing that Kia is described as this on page 26 of Liber Kaos and page 152 of Psychonaut. Amusement is also afforded by the juxtaposition of
[Chaos] Adepts may be concerned that the society of men continues to evolve ever better forms to support the divine incarnation of Kia on earth.”
(Liber Null, p. 102)[/align:2wew43xl]
alongside its denial that
Among the titles of Kia is anon…refusing any identity defined by its environment.”
(Liber Null, p.66)[/align:2wew43xl]
“Life”, we are told in Liber Null, is “less the meaningless accident it seems”:
Kia has incarnated in these particular conditions of duality for some purpose. The inertia of previous existences propels Kia into new forms of manifestation. Each incarnation represents a task, or a puzzle to be solved, on the way to some greater form of completion.”
(Liber Null, p.49)[/align:2wew43xl]
This sense of a purpose to be completed is reflected on page 164 of Psychonaut, where we are told that
Kia gives a sense of meaning or consciousness when we experience or will anything…”
Meanwhile poor old Hassan I Sabbah’s last words are made conditional yet again (!) when Null says:
Kia is felt as meaningfulness, power, genius and ecstasy in action… Outside of this nothing is true.
(Liber Null, p.66)[/align:2wew43xl]
But where might all of this obviously very important meaning and will which is felt come from? A sense of transpersonal order and a higher structuring process is the reference point staring one in the face. Carroll himself has even made the totally unambiguous and direct identification of Kia with what is called in “classical” magick the “Holy Guardian Angel”, on pages 162 and 166 of Psychonaut. One could demand to know, with some justification, why it cannot therefore just be referred to as this in all of his writings. But this being so, it is all the more puzzling, then, that in Chaos International no. 6 he should be at pains to dismiss Thelema in the following fashion:
It is the doctrine of the Holy Guardian Angel and the theory that there can be no conflict between “True Wills” which reveal Thelema to be a monotheist paradigm *, for they strongly imply design or purpose to the universe and existence, whereas these phenomena are actually Chaotic, fortunately.
* Crowley himself distanced Thelema from monotheism – as frequently evidenced by the dualistic pairings of Nuit & Hadit, Ra Hoor Khuit & Hoor Paar Kraat, Babalon & Chaos, Beast & Scarlet Woman, etc., which are all resolved in the “perfection” of zero.
(Pages 16-17 from Chapter 7, “The Kia”, in “Will & The Wisp: Thelema and the Ignis Fatuus of Chaos Magic Theory” by Norma N. Joy Conquest & Jack O’ Lantern. Underlinings are my own unless Sic'ced.)
Norma N. Joy Conquest.
Since Kia is a conception created by AOS, I'll prefer his sources. One could say that the absolute (God) is Kia in the purest sense (inconceivable), the absolute created the soul which has a gender in Zos speaks (he). The mind has the gender (she).
729. God - Soul - Body has no more precedency than the reflector, the reflective and reflected. They are interdendent, dependent, and independent - becoming spatial in space, alternating in time combining and seperating endlessy; seemingly casual as the way of the life-force.
Ok one can say that the Soul is Kia in another form. Still the soul isn't God? Then here is my question. Why use the conception Kia when the conception is so inaccuarate? If we can follow Austin Osman Spare's hierarchies it's much more pragmatic to use these conceptions as God, soul, mind, body, ego to understand the relationships and functions. But I know, the topic now is Kia and Zos.
From what is stated above one might agree on that the Kia is the absolute (God) and also that the soul (he) is nearer to Kia than Zos, or a grosser modified form of the Kia, not gender neutral in Zos speaks!, while the mind (she) as the first form, consciousness and body is nearer to Zos, although the soul is also present, partly in the mind and ego, bastardised/modified.
correction: while the mind (she) as the first form, consciousness, body and ego is Zos, although the soul is also present, partly in the mind and ego, bastardised/modified.
Thank you for your comments, Kharlatan and Jamie, but I'm afraid the original question was not concretely answered.
Is it safe to assume Kia and S'lba, as much as Bel and Zos, are equivalent? And if so, why Grant treats them separately??
Care Frater LeMo,
I was fascinated by your original question, but have not had the time to give it serious attention. Ditto, your apparent frustration in your latest posting. Have had some experience in the appreciation of the Wisdom of S'lba, and think that the essential answer to your conundrum is to be found in the text itself where the work of the Kia is mentioned, if memory serves me at all.
It is not necessarily Grant "who treats them separately", if you understand my meaning. The natural human proclivity to correlate varied systems of thought is invariably at a loss in such depths, do you not think ?
Regards - Satan's Advocaat.
Thank you very much for your reply, Frater Satan'sAdvocaat.
I think I got your point.
So you agree with me that it can be that Kia manifested to Grant in the form of S'lba? Is that it?
I dont think this is so much Grant equiv-elating Kia and s'lba, but rather his own take on an amalgamation of spare's style of 'trance' with Advaitism.
Hello Again LeMo,
Memory did not serve me all that well, regarding the 'work of the Kia' in the Wisdom of S'lba: there is only one use of the term in the text and it is not as decisive as I thought. It occurs in II, verses 22-23 which deal with the need to "rouse the vague spectres of the Backward Darkness" and states that this Backward darkness "is known in Zos Kia Zone." In his commentary, Kenneth Grant states that this refers to "the reification of past Karmas" (p.193, Outer Gateways) and that the Backward Darkness is the realm of the qlippoth and the "abode of forgotten dreams". (p.220).
To me this implies that the concepts and techniques of Zos Kia Cultus have a role to play in the Wisdom, but that they are not to be considered as eqivalent to its own, unique metaphysic. Zos is used throughout the text, but specifically in reference to the magical persona of Austin Osman Spare, rather than as a concept equating with other terms.
It is my feeling that S'lba represents a more expansive concept than Kia, if that is possible. In the opening verses there are similarities between S'lba and the Qabbalistic AIN, "S'lba is Not." While in verse 6, "In a self-made vapour S'lba shines..." resonates with AIN SOPH AUR. Later in the text, S'lba appears to simply represent the Self. As Grant states: "S'lba denotes, sometimes, the Absolute Self reflected as a goddess of space, a special form of Isis and of Nuit (Nu Isis) in the shadowy realm of mutations known as the Mauve Zone". (p. 183). While on p.146 of OG, Kia as the Self is equated with Brahman and on p.184, S'lba as the Self is equated with Atman.
My conclusion, therefore, is that while Kia could be equated with S'lba, Grant wished to keep the two terms separate. His preliminary comments on Wisdom of S'lba in the preface to OG tend to support this and his comment that the text would not have been published without the authorization of Those who transmitted it.
Cheers - Satan's Advocaat.
Thank you very much for this, Satan'sAdvocaat! I was just trying to somehow figure out why he wanted to keep the two terms separate. But maybe there is no point in such an investigation.
Thanks also to Christibrany for your thoughts. I was more or less tending to this conclusion, yet you have put it in much better words!
It's interesting how many names and titles are, or seem to be, or approximate, or hint at, pure primordial undifferentiated consciousness.
Of course, if it were really undifferentiated, it could have no name, title or other designation. This brings us back to The Tao that can be named is not the Tao.
K+I+A = 20+10+1 = 31 = AL (God) = LA (Not)
Hmm. It does seem like there's a Qabalistic hint here.
S+L+B+A = 60+30+2+1 = 93
Hmm. More synchronicity. 😮
Hmm. It does seem like there's a Qabalistic hint here.
S+L+B+A = 60+30+2+1 = 93
Hmm. More synchronicity. 😮
Thanks for pointing these connections, Shiva! I was not aware of them. 🙂