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Crowley confesses that he was once a metaphysical idiot  

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Anonymous
 Anonymous
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02/08/2014 7:41 pm  

Crowley’s views on magick and ceremony would change over time.  Yes, as an early investigator he held the usual fruitcake views which most modern occultists unfortunately never grow out of.  Crowley’s system of Thelema has scepticism at it’s kernel.  Ultimately he would set out with delusional views about magick but would  develop an understanding how magickal practices, such as ceremony, are merely practical exercises that may help us to find our True Will.  Consider what he said in chapter 20 of the Confessions recalling 1898 (his Cambridge years) when some of his poetry was first published.  I think it’s fair to say that Crowley’s True Will was to write poetry and to study, practice and teach magick.

“At this time I had not worked out any such apology for the theories of transcendentalism. I took everything as it came and submitted it to the test of experience. As it happened, I had no reason at any time to doubt the reality of the magical universe

..so, as boy he had not worked out an apology (expression of regret or wrongdoing) for transcendentalism.  He says that he held delusional beliefs such as accepting that magical universes actually exist.  In 1898 as a young “Magickian” he was wrongly subscribing to transcendental, metaphysical twaddle and this passage suggests that his scepticism (and materialism as an offshoot of that scepticism) was present but not fully developed.    Note he says that boy-Crowley, the idiot did what 97% of modern occultists do i.e. he ,” took everything as it came and submitted it to the test of experience”  He was just doing the rituals without an understanding of True Will, just groping about in the dark with a vague notion of aiming for some undefined, “magical success” .  It’s impossible to truly test anything by mere experience and Crowley would later learn this.  To demonstrate that something is true and to explain how, we need to apply Reason to any data/experience/facts.  For centuries humanity experienced sunrise in the eastern sky and sunset in the western skies.  Reason, with the use of telescopes and evidence weighed up using geometry showed us the reality; the Sun is always fixed as a Star and it is our planet which turns about and orbits it. The Church fought tooth and nail to keep Reason at bay because they were merely “submitting  ..to the test of experience”.

He goes on, “In these days I took my Magick very much au pied de la letter ( to take things at face value).  In other words Crowley read the wacky, metaphysical  magical tomes of old and naively ate it all up.  He would later on,  progress to an understanding that magickal ceremony isn’t mystical or astral and does in fact simply act as an aid to the real work of connecting with the True Will by an act of contemplation.  Consider this excerpt from his latter essay, Berashith written at age 27.

“By meditation I do not mean merely "think about" anything, however profoundly, but the
absolute restraint of the mind to the contemplation of a single object, whether gross, fine, or
altogether spiritual. Now true magical ceremonial is entirely directed to attain this end, and forms a
magnificent gymnasium
for those who are not already finished mental athletes.”

He echoes this blatantly in Magick in theory and practice, “The sincere student will discover, behind the symbolic technicalities of this book, a practical method of making himself a Magician.......(i.e) . the processes described will enable him to discriminate between what he actually is, and what he has fondly imagined himself to be.”  There it is in  a nutshell , as stated earlier the sole purpose of ceremony is to aid us, mentally to focus on our True Self which lies beneath the sheaths of personality.  No astral plane, no transmigrating soul, no gods, no bullsh1t.  No metaphysics.

Anyway back to his 1898 recall.

"I knew, of course, that Magick had fallen into desuetude chiefly because people would follow the prescribed course of action and get no result”  i.e. again, just ignorantly doing rote rituals (to, “make things happen” i.e. observe coincidences) for the sake of it totally misses the point of what magick is ; a method of  discriminating between what we actually are, and what we fondly imagine ourselves to be.

He elaborates, “An exquisitely amusing incident bearing on this point is as follows: Gerald Kelly, Ivor Back and one or two other ardent spirits (note he mocks transcendentalism and metaphysics by classing two human beings as , “spirits”) , inspired by my success, decided to do Magick themselves. They hired and furnished a room at Cambridge for the purpose and proceeded to evoke various spirits. Nothing happened. At last one of the greatly daring extended his little finger outside the circle. He was not "slain or paralysed as if blasted by the lightning flash" and thence concluded that Magick was all rubbish. I offer this example to logic to the Museum of Human Imbecility, in the principal city of the Astral Plane.”..he mocks.

What did Kelly and Back hope to achieve by his ceremony?  I think Crowley is basically hinting that Kelly et al where not regarding their True Wills as they took up the hobby of magick.  They missed the point of what magickal ceremony really is as earlier stated.  He goes on with reference to his own genius in poetry,

"I understood perfectly well that Back and Kelly, having no capacity for Magick, were bound to fail either to evoke a spirit or to get themselves blasted. If one does not understand anything about electricity, one cannot construct a dynamo; and having so failed, one cannot get oneself electrocuted............but I suppose that their failure and my success was mostly a matter of personal genius, just as Burns with hardly any literary apparatus could write poetry, and Tennyson, with any amount, could not”.

Note how Crowley marries the job of the poet  (to stoke imagination) with the Magician who may do the same.  Crowley’s natural creative talent lay in the depths of his psyche and was veiled by the Khu.  Practicing and writing about magick and writing poetry  were part of his Will but Back and Kelly were oblivious to their own True Selves/True Wills hence their mistake to embrace some vague notion that we use ritual to become a type of Harry Potter figure for no good reason. 

However there are those idiots who do indeed, eventually  have some sort of strange, self-induced  trippy experience via magickal practice and they develop a wizardly self-image which sends them down further metaphysical avenues of ignorance.  Crowley elaborates on this pit , “My success itself helped to blind me to the nature of the conditions of achievement. It never occurred to me that the problem of Magick contained metaphysical elements”.  He is saying that the problem with magick and with silly trippy, occultist types is that they have a solely, non- sceptical , metaphysical world-view and therefore are bound to get themselves into a web of self-delusion and disappointment.  He goes on..............

“Consider my performance one evening at Eastbourne. Having waited for the lowest possible tide so as to be as remote as might be from the bandstand, I made a circle and built an altar of stones by the edge of the sea. I burned my incense, performed my evolutions and made heaven hideous with my enchantments. All this in order to invoke the Undines.(note his tone, “and all this just to evoke an Undine...duh, how silly of me”)  I hoped, and more or less expected, to have one come out of the foam and attach herself to my person. I had as yet no notion that this programme might be accomplished far more easily”

Crowley here is documenting a stupid attempt at doing a rote magickal ritual for the sake of it without any kind of purpose other than satisfying his mindless and naive curiosity on the possible reality of metaphysical entities, namely Undines.  Note, he would later state that Goetic spirits do not exist they are merely, “portions of the human brain” (grey matter) as are all spirits or entities the hallucinatory end result of self-induced brain-change. 

Crowley goes on to describe that, "The only Undine that appeared was a policeman, who approached near enough to observe a fantastically garbed figure, dancing and howling in the moonlight "on the silvery, silvery, silvery sands"; howling, whistling, bellowing and braying forth the barbarous names of evocation which have in the sacred rites a power ineffable, around a furiously flaming bonfire whose sparks were whirled by the wind all over the beach”.

Amazing, "The only Undine that appeared was a policeman".    There you have it.  He once again mocks metaphysics.    The materialist-scepticism is so stark. i.e. there are no goblins or astral super-beings; there is only mankind and the animals.  The policeman (stationed on seaside watch) was real alright but the spiritual entities known as undines are mere figments of the imagination and this was his realization, as fitting with his assertion about making no apology for transcendentalism . 

He goes on, “ There are thus two main types of mistake; one in spirit and one in technique. Most aspirants to Magick commit both. I soon learned that the physical conditions of a magical phenomenon were like those of any other; but even when this misunderstanding is removed, success depends upon one's ability to awaken the creative genius which is the inalienable heirloom of every son of man, but which few indeed are able to assimilate to their conscious existence, or even, in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred, to detect”

Note here, that most aspirants to Magick commit two mistakes.  One in, "spirit" i.e. attitude i.e.  a misinformed way of thinking or feeling about something, in this case approaching magick from a metaphysical perspective.  He goes on  " I soon learned that the physical conditions of a magical phenomenon were like those of any other."  In other words every physical event that happens (is there any other kind of event?)  is, "a magickal phenomenon".  To put it bluntly  and there is no need to fall back on mystical/astral ESP recourse.  Real success ("when the misunderstanding is removed") is simply to awake the inner artist or genius ; the True Self.   

He goes on to say that .......................”The basis of the delusion (the metaphysical one as I have been describing ) is that there is a real apodeictic  (clearly established/indisputable ) correlation between the various elements of the operation, such as the formal manifestation of the spirit, his name and sigil, the form of the temple, weapons, gestures and incantations. These facts prevent one from suspecting the real subtlety involved in the hypothesis”.

These facts” (i.e. red herrings)  that prevent us from grasping,“the real subtlety involved in the hypothesis” are of course, our mindless and unquestioning acceptance of claims  about the reality of cabbalistic correspondence, astral planes and indeed, towards  the existence of any entity on non-physical planes.  In other words he is reiterating what he said at the outset of the chapter,”
At this time (when I was a naive idiot)  I had not worked out any such apology for the theories of transcendentalism. I took everything as it came and submitted it to the test of experience. As it happened, I had no reason at any time to doubt the reality of the magical universe”


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OKontrair
(@okontrair)
Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 501
02/08/2014 8:54 pm  

While I don't particularly disagree with the points you are misusing Crowley to support this bit is plain wrong:

"david" wrote:

“At this time I had not worked out any such apology for the theories of transcendentalism. I took everything as it came and submitted it to the test of experience. As it happened, I had no reason at any time to doubt the reality of the magical universe

..so, as boy he had not worked out an apology (expression of regret or wrongdoing) for transcendentalism ....... 

Look up 'apologetics' to see the classical sense in which Crowley uses this word.

OK


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Anonymous
 Anonymous
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Joined: 1 second ago
Posts: 0
02/08/2014 10:56 pm  
"OKontrair" wrote:
While I don't particularly disagree with the points you are misusing Crowley to support this bit is plain wrong:

"david" wrote:

“At this time I had not worked out any such apology for the theories of transcendentalism. I took everything as it came and submitted it to the test of experience. As it happened, I had no reason at any time to doubt the reality of the magical universe

..so, as boy he had not worked out an apology (expression of regret or wrongdoing) for transcendentalism ....... 

Look up 'apologetics' to see the classical sense in which Crowley uses this word.

OK

Defending a position of faith?  The classical definition doesn't vary that much from the modern definition.  Skip along , unless you have something useful to contribute.


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Michael Staley
(@michael-staley)
MANIO - it's all in the egg
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 4021
02/08/2014 11:15 pm  

Thanks, david. I'd stick to "testing testing testing" if I were you.


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lashtal
(@lashtal)
Owner and Editor Admin
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 5323
02/08/2014 11:33 pm  
"david" wrote:
Skip along , unless you have something useful to contribute.

Back to pre-moderation, david, on the basis of this and the flurry of silly posts you've made today. Please don't post under the influence in future - you just look foolish.

Oh, and this thread is Locked, too.

Owner and Editor
LAShTAL


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