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Grimoir of Aleister Crowley by R.Orpheus


 Anonymous
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93.
After having skimmed through the book "Grimoir of Aleister Crowley" by R.Orpheus I found plenty of factual mistakes and weird assertions:
1. The Mithraic religion was the largest religion in the time of the Roman Empire. - This is not true by far, not even within the Roman Empire, as I believe most with a basic historical knowledge would know.
2. Most pentagram rituals are generally considered banishing’s. - Not at all according to Magick, Book 4.
3. The Oath of the Enchantment isn’t the one Crowley published but seems to be the authors own interpretation, without even informing the reader of this.
4. The Invocation of Horus has been rewritten, silently, without any comment… Just to mention a few.
I really don’t know what to think of the author's “note on safety” – water and electricity don’t mix, be careful of sharp knives, don’t hold your robe over candles etc… Well, as the author so humbly states in his preface “We’re all learning (even me)”.
93 93/93
Auris


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Walterfive
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I find it really telling in a review when the reviewer can't spell the title correctly.

G-r-i-m-o-i-r-e. If I can't trust you to correctly spell what you're writing about, how can I trust that you *know* what you're talking about?


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Michael Staley
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MANIO - it's all in the egg
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Of course the spelling mistake is a regrettable lapse, Walter, but it hardly invalidates the points which the reviewer raises.


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Shiva
(@shiva)
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aurisoculus says: "2. Most pentagram rituals are generally considered banishing’s. - Not at all according to Magick, Book 4."

The author said "Most" not "all." I agree with the author ["most"]. Although there may be examples of penta rites that are non-banishing, I believe [oh, no!][it's just a term, as others have said] that most magicians usually associate the pentagram with banishing. At least the ones I know seem to. After all, it's the symbol of Mars and of the fully formed human being. I'm talking about common everyday associations here, not some quote from a book.

"3. The Oath of the Enchantment isn’t the one Crowley published but seems to be the authors own interpretation, without even informing the reader of this."

Oh well. Does the author say it is Crowley's? Or is it implied?

"4. The Invocation of Horus has been rewritten, silently, without any comment… Just to mention a few."

Oh well. He can do this, you know? Free will and all that ["Free will should be called Karma in Action"].  But if he confuses the sources, then you are right to point out the discrepancies.

I really don’t know what to think of the author's “note on safety”

He is trying to exhibit humor, like I sometimes do in my footnotes. The secrets are always found in the footnotes and the endnotes. But the note(s) you quoted do seem somehat, er, terrestrial, or pedestrian, it does appear.

Tell us. Does he discuss the Libation? Does he discuss Liberating Medicine?


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Walterfive
(@walterfive)
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"MichaelStaley" wrote:
Of course the spelling mistake is a regrettable lapse, Walter, but it hardly invalidates the points which the reviewer raises.

True that, but every Newspaper Editor I've ever worked for maintains that such typos rob the writer of credibility. I'm a real Virgo about these sort of things.


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 Anonymous
Joined: 51 years ago
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"aurisoculus" wrote:
93.
After having skimmed through the book "Grimoir of Aleister Crowley" by R.Orpheus I found plenty of factual mistakes and weird assertions:
1. The Mithraic religion was the largest religion in the time of the Roman Empire. - This is not true by far, not even within the Roman Empire, as I believe most with a basic historical knowledge would know.

My basic knowledge of history is that Mithriasm was the official state religion of the Roman Empire for about two hundred years. Perhaps your basic knowledge missed out on that period?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion_in_Rome#Paganism_and_ancient_period

2. Most pentagram rituals are generally considered banishing’s. - Not at all according to Magick, Book 4.

The actual quote in the book that I think you are referring to is:

"Pentagram rituals belong to a class of ritual generally known as “Banishing” rituals, although that’s rather a misleading term, since they don’t really just “banish” things."

In other words, I was explaining precisely what you criticise me of misunderstanding.

3. The Oath of the Enchantment isn’t the one Crowley published but seems to be the authors own interpretation, without even informing the reader of this.

You obviously didn't read the introduction to that particular chapter very closely, because I explain in some detail exactly that. For example on pages 2 and 3 of the book:

"The version presented in the typescript is obviously a work in progress, and contains sections later excised or radically changed in the final published version. In particular, in contrast to the final solo version of Liber Reguli, this early draft was intended to be a ritual for group working.

...The original typescript of the Mark of the Beast ritual has several points with question marks after them, and in a couple of places has several variations of the symbols marked out; clearly showing that Crowley didn’t consider it complete, and was still trying to work out how it should all fit together. I spent some considerable time trying to reconstruct a working version of the rite from the original Crowley typescript notes"

4. The Invocation of Horus has been rewritten, silently, without any comment… Just to mention a few.

Ironically that particular ritual is probably the only one in the book that wasn't rewritten.

I really don’t know what to think of the author's “note on safety” – water and electricity don’t mix, be careful of sharp knives, don’t hold your robe over candles etc… Well, as the author so humbly states in his preface “We’re all learning (even me)”.

And I would humbly suggest that next time you want to review a book, you read it first. Learning things is good.

Rodney


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 Anonymous
Joined: 51 years ago
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I don't think that Mithraism was ever 'the official state religion of the Roman Empire' (or even an official state cult). Perhaps you're thinking of Sol Invictus?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mithraism#Later_history
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sol_Invictus


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 Anonymous
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"Vlad_Kiosk" wrote:
I don't think that Mithraism was ever 'the official state religion of the Roman Empire' (or even an official state cult). Perhaps you're thinking of Sol Invictus?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mithraism#Later_history
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sol_Invictus

I live across the way from the old Roman Fort of Corstopitum near Hadrians Wall.  There are altars to Sol Invictus (infact there are 7 temples to various Gods and Goddess), and there is also a Mithraeum just up the road.  The worship of Mithras was important for the army (perhaps especially the officers class), and as the army was a body of the state then you can safely consider the worship of Mithras to be state sponsored.  It would have took a lot of soldiers in the pay of the Roman Army to dig out those tunnels into the earth and there are some splendid examples of Mithraeum in Britain.   
 


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 Anonymous
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Addendum:

Clauss, M., The Roman cult of Mithras, p. 24: "The cult of Mithras never became one of those supported by the state with public funds, and was never admitted to the official list of festivals celebrated by the state and army - at any rate as far as the latter is known to us from the Feriale Duranum, the religious calendar of the units at Dura-Europos in Coele Syria;" [where there was a Mithraeum] "the same is true of all the other mystery cults too." He adds that at the individual level, various individuals did hold roles both in the state cults and the priesthood of Mithras. [Emphasis Added]

Wiki - Ferial Duranum - Roman calendar of feasts and ceremonies celebrated by the cohort of the twentieth Palmyrenorum , an auxiliary unit of the Roman army from the village of Dura Europos on the Euphrates , dating back to the 20th years of the third century . The preserved part of the calendar covers the period from January to September and includes a list of 41 holidays (mainly religious), while being the best source of information on the schedule rites of the Roman army. [Emphasis Added] 

Clauss is assuming that the worship of Mithras was not state sponsored because it isn't on the festival list of this document, and also because none of the other mystery cults were sponsored, however - the important time for the worship of Mithras was in the dead of winter, and that part of the document is lost so this is an assumption made by Clauss.  Also - the very fact that the army dug out Mithraeums all over the place (and that would have cost money from the state) would suggest it was state sponsored. 

I suggest the Roman Army was using the cult of Mithras in order to promote a certain 'Participation mystique' amongst the officers, (and to this end funding the building of the Mithraeums).  It may be that the Roman State did not wish to be seen to give favour to one mystery cult over another, outside of the business of the army, but this is just conjecture if the only evidence Clauss is relying on comes from this one partial document and without him considering the money and state man power that went into making the Mithraeums.   


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amadan-De
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Not really my period (soon as the Romans arrive it's History and so much more boring 🙂 ) but I'd be surprised if Clauss' statement is based on that single calendar of Roman feasts especially as it is specific to a particular unit of the army in a particular location.  If he is relying on that single calendar it's pretty poor scholarship.

Why do you assume that Mithraeum construction had to be directly funded by the state Dar?  I see no reason why private individuals/groups couldn't fund this - as it was a very popular cult in the army this would of course mean that the state was indirectly funding their construction through officers pay etc. but that's not the same thing.  Alternatively it's a pretty foolish army that denies its troops their religious interests..

Below see the penultimate paragraph from here (emphasis added).

Mithraism had a wide following from the middle of the second century to the late fourth century CE, but the common belief that Mithraism was the prime competitor of Christianity, promulgated by Ernst Renan (Renan 1882 579), is blatantly false. Mithraism was at a serious disadvantage right from the start because it allowed only male initiates. What is more, Mithraism was, as mentioned above, only one of several cults imported from the eastern empire that enjoyed a large membership in Rome and elsewhere. The major competitor to Christianity was thus not Mithraism but the combined group of imported cults and official Roman cults subsumed under the rubric "paganism." Finally, part of Renan's claim rested on an equally common, but almost equally mistaken, belief that Mithraism was officially accepted because it had Roman emperors among its adherents (Nero, Commodus, Septimius Severus, Caracalla, and the Tetrarchs are most commonly cited). Close examination of the evidence for the participation of emperors reveals that some comes from literary sources of dubious quality and that the rest is rather circumstantial. The cult of Magna Mater, the first imported cult to arrive in Rome (204) was the only one ever officially recognized as a Roman cult. The others, including Mithraism, were never officially accepted, and some, particularly the Egyptian cult of Isis, were periodically outlawed and their adherents persecuted.

The final sentence of the piece "The field of mithraic studies is one which remains active and dynamic and one for which serious attention to the recent work greatly repays the effort to tackle this vast body of exciting new work" is a wise admonition.  Most of what I could find online in a very quick search seems to rely on the work of F. Cumont first published in the late 1890s/early 1900s so really should not be considered definitive.


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 Anonymous
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"amadan-De" wrote:
Not really my period (soon as the Romans arrive it's History and so much more boring 🙂 ) but I'd be surprised if Clauss' statement is based on that single calendar of Roman feasts especially as it is specific to a particular unit of the army in a particular location.  If he is relying on that single calendar it's pretty poor scholarship.

Clauss qualified his statement that Mithras was not supported by state funds with:  "at any rate as far as the latter is known to us from the Feriale Duranum."  I'm not sure if this is poor scholarship, as sometimes this happens when you study ancient history.  The documents are often fragmentary and a certain latitude is allowed for a reasonable hypothesis as to their implications even when unqualified by other sources.  They just aren't to be regarded as having as much weight. 

Why do you assume that Mithraeum construction had to be directly funded by the state Dar?  I see no reason why private individuals/groups couldn't fund this - as it was a very popular cult in the army this would of course mean that the state was indirectly funding their construction through officers pay etc. but that's not the same thing.  Alternatively it's a pretty foolish army that denies its troops their religious interests..

You run into difficulties if you try and account for rapid spread and the construction of the Mithraeums only by monies accrued from cult members.  I'm not saying that the cult was exclusively funded by the state btw, only that after a successful military campaign the officer class were rewarded in this fashion.  Although the cult had some members of high social status from wealthy families, the officer class attracted to the cult were usually of middling economic status that were looking to improve their lot.  That's not a base from which you would expect the cult to be substantially funded if there were no economic benefits from belonging to the cult, so you would have to show that the cult engaged in business and trade with it's membership in order to support itself, and although that's possible, so far as I'm aware there is simply no evidence to support that hypothesis either.  There is also the objection that if the cult was trading to support itself then it's membership were putting the cult before their families financial interest... i.e. - if you're trading and making a profit then does the money go first to the family or to the cult? 

I agree that it's a 'pretty foolish army that denies its troops their religious interests' but it is not usually the business of an armies officer class to fund the construction of works on this scale (see below) unless the army is getting something out of it.  Have you ever read 'Dune' by Frank Herbert btw?  I think there is a nice parallel between the fictional account of how the Corrino's and the Atreides families sought to instil a participation mystique in the Sarduker and Freman troops, and what benefit Rome got from utilising the cult of Mithras amongst it's officer class. 

Moreover - if the cult was being at least partially funded by the state it would explain the dramatic collapse of the cult once Christianity became the state religion of Rome.

The final sentence of the piece "The field of mithraic studies is one which remains active and dynamic and one for which serious attention to the recent work greatly repays the effort to tackle this vast body of exciting new work" is a wise admonition.  Most of what I could find online in a very quick search seems to rely on the work of F. Cumont first published in the late 1890s/early 1900s so really should not be considered definitive.

Yes - the popularity of the cult in terms of it's membership seems to have been over-estimated in the past and it's a murky area of history at best.  We're still speculating over how many members were fitted into a Mithraeum - 7 (as conforming to the 7 initiatory grades)?  12 (following the 12 astrological houses)?  Also - if the Mithraeum were privately funded by individuals then why has no dedication to them found as was common... you know - something engraved somewhere that says Maximus so and so built this in the year XXX etc. ?   

In the field of Mithraic studies, everyone could be wrong.  That's what makes it so fun!  😀


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amadan-De
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"Dar" wrote:
..sometimes this happens when you study ancient history.  The documents are often fragmentary and a certain latitude is allowed for a reasonable hypothesis as to their implications even when unqualified by other sources.  They just aren't to be regarded as having as much weight.

Really? Who knew?  😉  My preferred area of operations is prehistory (though I have in the past worked on sites as recent as WWII) so I know all about the problems of patchy records or indeed the complete lack of them.  In fact that is one of the reasons that I prefer prehistory, as soon as you introduce any historic record there is a disturbing tendancy to think that "if it is not written down it can't have happened" (witness what Clauss is doing...) and a failure to grasp that all historic record is 'partial' in all senses. Prehistory is more like very-cold-case forensics without the distraction of loud unreliable witness testimony.

I was going to go through the rest of your post on a point by point basis but we are already fairly Off-Topic and it's late.  If you read all of the page I linked to above I think some of your points are at least touched on.  You might get more from exploring the Electronic Journal of Mithraic Studies.  I am wondering why you think that there is evidence for the "rapid spread and...construction of...Mithraeums" though. 


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 Anonymous
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LOL.  Yes, I agree and I liked the image your comment evoked about "loud unreliable witness testimony".  🙂

It is late... G'night.  🙂


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 Anonymous
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Topic starter  

Rodney: 93.

I wasn’t reviewing your book. I was commenting parts of it that isn’t true. When you are presented as a genius and an authority on Thelema (and cast yourself as an experienced teacher of Crowley rituals and that John Dee has “contributed” to your book which is ”one of the year's most significant Thelemic publications”) you must be open for criticism and get your facts straight. It´s part of the game. Really; no harm intended.

The part called “Confession” which is an integral part of the ritual called the “Invocation of Horus” can be found in Magick, Book 4, chapter VI, “The Great Revelation” and starts with the following sentence:

“Unprepared and uninvoking Thee, I, OY MH, Fra R.R. et A.C., am here in Thy Presence--for Thou art Everywhere, O Lord Horus! --to confess humbly before Thee my neglect and scorn of Thee.”

…it then goes on for quite some time. Your own version, which is totally different, in what you call the “Confession” in the same ritual starts like this:

"Most Holy and Divine Lord of the Aeon, Ra-Hoor-Khuit, Crowned and Conquering Child:
Hear Thou this humble but bold invocation of Thy Presence:"

Therefore it has been “rewritten, silently, without any comment” as I said. I don’t know where you got your version from. If from a better source I stand corrected.

I know I might be nit-picking here, but I frankly got a bit disturbed when reading the preface where you basically say that all O.T.O. groups you’ve visited didn’t have a clue what to do until your book came along. Then the “Note on safety” which seems to imply that you view your readers as children.

By claiming that “Most pentagram rituals are generally considered banishing’s.”, then negating the statement afterwards does not make it true in the first place. I’ve never met anyone who thinks that pentagrams generally equal banishing.

You did write that the Mithras religion was the largest on earth at the time of the Roman Empire, right? Using Wikipedia as a source is not serious when presenting findings as facts and is not in any way reliable from an academic point of view. If I’d done that when at university it would have resulted in the eyebrows of my professors shooting through the roof and really bad grades to match. What we know about this period is not enough to state it as facts.

Within the Roman Empire itself; the Emperor cult, the Jupiter cult etc. (not to mention the several household gods, or the religion of Egypt, also within the Empire, that up until emperor Justinian closed the last Isis temple on Philae island in the 6th century, was the most populated part of the empire) was all of them probably a lot bigger than that of Mithras, and this only within the empire itself. At the same time you have the religions of India and China, places that probably far outnumbered the population of the empire at the time.

In any case; all the best and good luck with your book.

93 93/93
Pontus Lindqvist
Stockholm
Sweden


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 Anonymous
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I've noticed that a lot of people, even supposedly well-studied magicians, tend to confuse "mithraism" with "The Sol Invictus Cult", which did indeed have a dominant influence in Rome for 200 years or so. 


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 Anonymous
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Mithras was very big with the Roman Army.

The Civilians were into Howard Zinn and Virgins.  So F-ing what?


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lashtal
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Pre-moderation of your posts is now required.

"ApeOfTheApeOfThot" wrote:
Mithras was very big with the Roman Army.

The Civilians were into Howard Zinn and Virgins.  So F-ing what?

Owner and Editor
LAShTAL


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 Anonymous
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All nit picking - there are some errors that can be taken with a spirit of good will. Pointed out is fine, but there are some serious personal swipes here. I recently bought and read this book, writing a review on my blog here: http://fraterdocetumbra.blogspot.ie/2012/10/book-review-grimore-of-aleister-crowley.html

Though not as nit picking as some of the comments here, and though I have questions and issues, I am one of those people who thinks you can't be too harsh unless you feel you can, and then actually'do' better yourself!

B.


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