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 Anonymous
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Recently, on the thread Correspondences between Thelema and the Typhonian concepts, "SSS" wrote:

"SSS" wrote:
Crowley did flip flop over what the HGA is or is not through out his life

to which I responded:

"Erwin" wrote:
No, he really didn't. He was entirely consistent on what the HGA is throughout his life, and then published one letter close to the end of it which has caused some people a lot of problems. You're misrepresenting Crowley...to equate "independent of the magician" with "extraterrestrial intelligence" or any other discarnate intelligence "out there" somewhere is an extremely superficial view which is actually not at all supported by the exact same letter you're referring to

to which the original poster objected.

Partly to provide "SSS" with a greater amount of background against which to understand my response, and partly because it's just the kind of thing I do, I've uploaded an essay to my web site entitled The Holy Guardian Angel (pdf link). This essay is intended to be a a comprehensive and thorough review of the occasions where Aleister Crowley wrote about the Holy Guardian Angel in his published works of prose in an attempt (the author no doubt vainly hopes) to derive a definitive account of what he actually meant when he used that term.

Regardless of whether or not one agrees with the conclusions drawn, the essay will be found valuable for the comprehensive overview it gives of what Aleister Crowley actually wrote on the subject, and will be particularly useful for those lacking an intimate familiarity with his works who must therefore rely on the few regularly repeated soundbites which are so often floated about in discussions on the subject to form their views.

I provide a link to it here as a serious contribution likely to be of interest to members of The Aleister Crowley Society and others interested in the works of Aleister Crowley. Enjoy.


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 Anonymous
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"Erwin" wrote:
Regardless of whether or not one agrees with the conclusions drawn, the essay will be found valuable for the comprehensive overview it gives of what Aleister Crowley actually wrote on the subject, and will be particularly useful for those lacking an intimate familiarity with his works who must therefore rely on the few regularly repeated soundbites which are so often floated about in discussions on the subject to form their views.

Erwin,

Thank you for your essay. While I do respectfully disagree with many of the conclusions you draw I also consider your work to be quite valuable and well done. However, I would like to spell out the nature and scope of my disagreements when I have the time to do so.


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 Anonymous
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"Erwin" wrote:
You're misrepresenting Crowley...to equate "independent of the magician" with "extraterrestrial intelligence" or any other discarnate intelligence "out there" somewhere is an extremely superficial view which is actually not at all supported by the exact same letter you're referring to

I would again like to reiterate that I at no time equated "Extraterrestrial intelligence" with the quote "independent of the magician". The jump from what I actually said to that apparent equation was a knee jerk reaction which probably had something to do with Kenneth Grant's name being part of the context. At least that is what I gather from other post's immediately following mine own.


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gurugeorge
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Just glanced at it Erwin, very nicely done production - and in a dignified Equinox style, I see 🙂

We've had our disagreements, but I do agree with lots of what you say.


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ccx
 ccx
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"Erwin" wrote:
Regardless of whether or not one agrees with the conclusions drawn, the essay will be found valuable for the comprehensive overview it gives of what Aleister Crowley actually wrote on the subject, and will be particularly useful for those lacking an intimate familiarity with his works who must therefore rely on the few regularly repeated soundbites which are so often floated about in discussions on the subject to form their views.

I provide a link to it here as a serious contribution likely to be of interest to members of The Aleister Crowley Society and others interested in the works of Aleister Crowley. Enjoy.

This was very interesting, however I am surprised that you did not include an examination of the Cry of the 8th Aethyr (ZID) in your analysis.

Excerpting:

"For I am not only appointed to guard thee, but we are of the blood royal, the guardians of the Treasure-house of Wisdom. Therefore am I called the Minister of Ra Hoor Khuit: and yet he is but the Viceroy of the unknown King. For my name is called Aiwass, that is eight and seventy. And I am the influence of the Concealed One, and the wheel that hath eight and seventy parts, yet in all is equivalent to the Gate that is the name of my Lord when it is spelt fully. And that Gate is the Path that joineth the Wisdom with the Understanding.

Thus hast thou erred indeed, perceiving me in the path that leadeth from the Crown unto the Beauty. For that path bridgeth the abyss, and I am of the supernals."

"And thou shalt not seek to better this my instruction; but thou shalt interpret it, and make it easy, for them that seek understanding."

"And because I am with thee, and in thee, and of thee, thou shalt lack nothing. But who lack me, lack all. And I swear unto thee by Him that sitteth upon the Holy Throne, and liveth and reigneth for ever and ever, that I will be faithful unto this my promise, as thou art faithful unto this thine obligation."

Here we have the angel itself claiming to be Crowley's HGA, and also Aiwass, and also "of the supernals", instructing Crowley to "interpret" this instruction and make it "easy".

It sounds coy, I suppose, but I think the angel itself here indicates that the answer to "Is the HGA objective or subjective" is "yes", or perhaps "yes/no/both/neither". It is utterly beyond such conceptions.

Everything Crowley had to say on the subject, certainly after this point, was clearly at his angel's behest: interpreting instruction that originated "above the abyss" (and thus cannot "truthfully" be explained) in an attempt to make it "easy" for those "below".

Or, in other words, his comments on this were most likely never intended to be taken literally or all too seriously.

"For the curse of His grade is that he must speak Truth, that the Falsehood thereof may enslave the souls of men."


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 Anonymous
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"ccx" wrote:
I am surprised that you did not include an examination of the Cry of the 8th Aethyr (ZID) in your analysis.

Why?

1. The Vision and the Voice is not a work of technical prose, and therefore falls outside of the stated subject matter of the essay - it's an account of visions, and belongs squarely in the "poetry" bucket (as does Liber LXV, or course, but I made an exception for that since the HGA is its entire subject matter). I deliberately restricted this essay to technical published prose because that represents what Crowley deliberately decided to communicate to the world in plain and straightforward language. Once people instead start interpreting accounts of visions, relying too heavily on dashed off contextless diary entries not intended for publication, and isolated personal letters they start deviating away from what Crowley meant and towards what they, themselves mean, which is exactly what you've done in this response.

2. It's entirely unenlightening on the subject anyway.

3. It never mentions the "Holy Guardian Angel", merely saying "I am...appointed to guard thee".

4. Even if it did, it contains no comments whatsoever on the Angel's nature, merely on its hypothetical position on an imaginary tree.

5. Even if it were not from all the above, this would in any case be an account of the words of Aiwass, and not the words of Crowley, and so would be wholly outside the scope of this essay.

So, you really shouldn't be at all surprised that it's not referenced.

"ccx" wrote:
I think the angel itself here indicates that the answer to "Is the HGA objective or subjective" is "yes", or perhaps "yes/no/both/neither".

This is a good example of why I wrote that essay. Nowhere in that extract is any such question asked, nowhere is that question answered, and nowhere is what you've said even vaguely implied. All this originated solely in your own imagination, and not in Crowley's words. The whole point of writing this essay was to show what Crowley said, and to distinguish that from all the other baggage that people have since insisted on overlaying onto it in the way that you're doing here.

The preponderance of the evidence set down in the essay, taken as a whole, points very strongly towards the stated conclusion, yet here you are interpreting one single account of one single vision which doesn't even deal with the HGA and trying to overturn that preponderance of evidence on the sole basis of that single account. Not only that, but you're trying to overturn it in favour of a conclusion which doesn't even appear in the account in question, but which you have obviously invented. I appreciate you taking the time to compose a reply, but this is simply not a serious response to, or a serious comment on, my essay.

"ccx" wrote:
Or, in other words, his comments on this were most likely never intended to be taken literally or all too seriously.

Anybody with even a passing familiarity with Crowley would understand that the idea he never inteded his comments "to be taken literally or all too seriously" is utterly preposterous. This is merely a device for people who want to claim adherence to Crowley's doctrines but nevertheless want to follow their own random and wildly diverging fantasies instead. You're trying to argue that Crowley's words were not evidence for what he meant, and you're trying to use his own words to draw that conclusion. Again, this is not the way that serious analysis proceeds.


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ccx
 ccx
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"Erwin" wrote:
I deliberately restricted this essay to technical published prose because that represents what Crowley deliberately decided to communicate to the world in plain and straightforward language.

This is a fair point, and conceded.

Much of the remainder of your remarks is nonsensical.

3. It never mentions the "Holy Guardian Angel", merely saying "I am...appointed to guard thee".

This is a communication from an angel purporting to be Aiwass, Crowley's HGA or "True Self". I noted it on the chance you would find its depictions of its own nature, and its instructions to Crowley, relevant. You don't, for the reason given above, and that is fine.

Anybody with even a passing familiarity with Crowley would understand that the idea he never inteded his comments "to be taken literally or all too seriously" is utterly preposterous.

Of course. In all his works, Crowley never targeted a message to his audience, never gave an answer he felt could be understood at a particular "grade" that he considered "false" or "incomplete" for a "higher grade", etc.


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Palamedes
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Erwin, I read it last night and it seemed quite good. I am not qualified to argue 'subtler points' but let's just assume that your basic claims are correct. The implications/corollary appear to be somewhat disconcerting. This is what I have in mind (again, assuming that your analysis is correct):

1. Crowley's claim that there is anything new or distinct about Thelema does not hold water. If Will is that aspect of ourselves that is neither our body nor our emotions nor our thoughts, this is in no wise different from what the Upanishads teach about atman; what Samkhya teaches about purusha; what Buddhism teaches about 'buddha nature' and so on and so forth. In fact, all of these argue that our problem (if there is a problem) arises from misidentification: we identify with our possessions, bodies, with what we like and dislike, and that is not our real identity. Samkhya perhaps most clearly teaches that purusha is disembodies consciousness and that it as such has nothing in common with prakriti (usually translated as 'nature' but include all the material/bodily elements + mind; none of it is purusha and the liberation consists in disentangling from prakriti through the process of discrimination, viveka, until the isolation, kaivalya, from prakriti is achieved. Similarly, Dogen defines Zen Buddhist satori as 'dropping off of body and mind' - i.e. none of them is our 'true' or 'buddha' self or nature. To sum up, it would appear that Thelema is simply a variation on the theme and not a new song.

2. Crowley's methods for achieving self-knowledge, i.e. to know one's Will, i.e. to invoke one's HGA seem to be singularly ill-suited for the purpose. If Will is an unknown factor behind or beyond the (both conscious and subconscious) machinery of our mind/body complex, it would then appear that a method of self-observation and discrimination would be much more appropriate to the task. Both Hindu and Buddhist yoga/meditation, and perhaps most particularly forms of vipassana and/or zazen, would appear much better methods for accomplishing this goal, than are various rituals of Pentagram and Hexagram, Samekh and astral work and what not. The whole complicated edifice of both Magick and of the organized curricula of the Orders such as O.T.O. and particularly A.'.A.'. would then be rather clumsy and unnecessarily complicated means and ways of doing something that is in its method relatively simple. It would then appear that Crowley is urging his disciples to spend decades in order to learn how to walk upon water while at the same time there are simpler ways of crossing the water in a ferry.

3. Crowley's teaching i.e. theory seem (from this perspective) to be singularly clumsy, contradictory, and unclear. If the central concept is Will why call it the Holy Guardian Angel and if you do, why then apply this term to unrelated phenomena? It is somewhat embarrassing that after more than one hundred years since the Book of the Law we still don't quite seem to be sure what is it that this Thelema is about, and what is Will, and what is Holy Guardian Angel - in other words, as we can easily witness here on Lashtal, it seems that the central tenets of the teaching lie in the darkness, ill-understood, and (it would appear) ill-conceived and ill-expressed by the founding father of the school/religion.

Don't get me wrong, folks. I am not claiming any of the above. But if Erwin's thesis is correct - and here is the forum for those who want to participate to prove him wrong if they find him to be such - then the above three points seem to follow. I wonder what people think about this.


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 Anonymous
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Iskandar: "2. Crowley's methods for achieving self-knowledge, i.e. to know one's Will, i.e. to invoke one's HGA seem to be singularly ill-suited for the purpose. If Will is an unknown factor behind or beyond the (both conscious and subconscious) machinery of our mind/body complex, it would then appear that a method of self-observation and discrimination would be much more appropriate to the task."

I thought Erwin's essay featured Crowley quotes that identified the HGA clearly with the subconscious Iskandar?

I note also - that since the K&C occurs specifically after the 5=6 experience, that it is the subconscious energised and to some extent - transformed by the experience of non-duality of self.


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thamiel
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I respect your position Erwin, though I have to respectfully disagree:

Anybody with even a passing familiarity with Crowley would understand that the idea he never inteded his comments "to be taken literally or all too seriously" is utterly preposterous. This is merely a device for people who want to claim adherence to Crowley's doctrines but nevertheless want to follow their own random and wildly diverging fantasies instead.

I would direct you to Magick In Theory and Practice, Appendix III point 17, where Crowley quite blatantly advocates that individuals "follow their own random and wildly diverging fantasies" instead of his if it is necessary to the magickian.

"The Magician must not accept the Master Therion's account of the Astral Plane, His Qabalistic discoveries, His instructions in Magick. They may be correct in the main for most men; yet they cannot be wholly true for any save Him, even as no two artists can make identical pictures of the same subject."


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 Anonymous
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"thamiel" wrote:
"The Magician must not accept the Master Therion's account of the Astral Plane, His Qabalistic discoveries, His instructions in Magick. They may be correct in the main for most men; yet they cannot be wholly true for any save Him, even as no two artists can make identical pictures of the same subject."

No two artists can make identical pictures of the same subject - but each artist requires canvas or other surface to work on, and paint or other media to work with, and there are broad styles that favour each other and techniques that are common used to good effect by most artists.

Don't confuse the art with the architecture. 🙂


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Palamedes
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Alrah, I don't think that each and every aspect of the subconscious mind is HGA - assuming we accept Crowley's statement on the subject. If I was as a child beaten by my parents and if I suppress that memory so that it is now subconscious, you don't seriously mean that this memory is my HGA. Trying to say, if HGA is un/sub/non-conscious, there should still be a method of discrimination in order to identify with it. Alternatively, it would then mean that my HGA is what I am not conscious of and as such, at least logically speaking, I could never identify with it/him/her consciously for by becoming conscious it/he/she would stop being HGA (who/which is subconscious). Trying to say, the whole thing remains rather muddled - at least in its explication.


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thamiel
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Don't confuse the art with the architecture.

Wet plaster fresco differs radically from oil on canvas, which differs radically from sand painting, which differs radically from airbrushed vans, which differs radically from graffiti...sometimes the support is the architecture. 😉

a consensus for Thelema is impossible, nor do I think its required. Interpret it how you Will, as long at it works.


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 Anonymous
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"Iskandar" wrote:
Alrah, I don't think that each and every aspect of the subconscious mind is HGA - assuming we accept Crowley's statement on the subject. If I was as a child beaten by my parents and if I suppress that memory so that it is now subconscious, you don't seriously mean that this memory is my HGA. Trying to say, if HGA is un/sub/non-conscious, there should still be a method of discrimination in order to identify with it. Alternatively, it would then mean that my HGA is what I am not conscious of and as such, at least logically speaking, I could never identify with it/him/her consciously for by becoming conscious it/he/she would stop being HGA (who/which is subconscious). Trying to say, the whole thing remains rather muddled - at least in its explication.

Well - there are subconscious memories and there are subconscious functions. You have to remember that ego is primarily the organising function of the mind. Supressed or subconscious parts of your personality are not the HGA, although some subconscious functions may be percieved as having personality by the conscious mind.

The idea is for the consciousness to not get in the way of the subconscious. It's not for you to identify with your subconscious, and you are indeed correct - your consciousness is a small linear thing really whose function is chiefly necessary in the realm of communication. You can't really start identifying with your subconscious. You don't have the functional wherewithall to do that. The idea is for the consciousness to recognise the non-legitimacy of it's identity and cease to think it should be running the whole show.

I usually use the terms non verbal ego and verbal ego rather than subconscious and consciousness. I don't see anything 'sub' about it. If anything - it's verbal ego - the narrator - that is the subroutine. (ME!) lol 🙂


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 Anonymous
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"thamiel" wrote:

Don't confuse the art with the architecture.

Wet plaster fresco differs radically from oil on canvas, which differs radically from sand painting, which differs radically from airbrushed vans, which differs radically from graffiti...sometimes the support is the architecture. 😉

a consensus for Thelema is impossible, nor do I think its required. Interpret it how you Will, as long at it works.

Ultimately though - brains are brains, emotions are emotions, bodies will do thier thing. I believe K&C HGA shows up after a common type of spiritual experience, because the experience transforms a part of our minds. We all have a subconscious. We may have radically different things stored back there (that's the art), but the structure of the subconscious is unlikely to be so radically different as oil and water between one man and another. That's the architecture I'm talking about. 🙂


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 Anonymous
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I wouldn't be so quick to acquire such traits.
K&C with "Holy Guardian Angel"

I can also call a Big Mac from Mcdonalds the "Greatest Hamburger on Earth"

Would a rose by any other name?

The give in name or Label being issued to this experience seems to be taken very lightly here.

Might i remind everyone that it is not.

Since your diving much further past what modern psyche doctors would call schizophrenia.

the Evil Guardian Angel?
Forewarning. Careful who or what you allow to invade you, or in this case, become one with you... Regardless of the pretty Packaging it comes in

This is serious...
and leaves me much to Curious...


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 Anonymous
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"Curious" wrote:
I wouldn't be so quick to acquire such traits.
K&C with "Holy Guardian Angel"

I can also call a Big Mac from Mcdonalds the "Greatest Hamburger on Earth"

Would a rose by any other name?

The give in name or Label being issued to this experience seems to be taken very lightly here.

Might i remind everyone that it is not.

Since your diving much further past what modern psyche doctors would call schizophrenia.

the Evil Guardian Angel?
Forewarning. Careful who or what you allow to invade you, or in this case, become one with you... Regardless of the pretty Packaging it comes in

This is serious...
and leaves me much to Curious...

Isn't this like saying that you will not attempt the first and primary enlightenment of your soul just in case you change afterwards?

(**Also - have you read Erwins essay yet I wonder? :-)**)


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 Anonymous
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Iskandar - thank you for a refreshingly intelligent and thoughtful response. And for actually reading and comprehending the essay.

"Iskandar" wrote:
Crowley's claim that there is anything new or distinct about Thelema does not hold water.

Well, it depends what "new" elements you are talking about. One of the things he claimed, for instance, was that The Book of the Law demonstrated conclusively the existence of non-corporeal intelligence. Of course it doesn't actually demonstrate that, but if it did, this would stand apart from any of the actual content.

That being said, as far as the content is concerned...

"Iskandar" wrote:
To sum up, it would appear that Thelema is simply a variation on the theme and not a new song.

I think it would be more surprising if this were not true. Assuming that the whole point of Thelema is something along the lines of what we may loosely call "self development" then the material we're working with - i.e. human consciousness and the human condition - is the exact same material folks have been working with for millenia. People have been going through spiritual crises, traumatic experiences, dark nights of the soul, and what not, for a long, long time, and if nobody had managed to achieve any meaningful insight until Crowley it would be highly unusual, to my mind.

The mode of presentation is at least different, and that is not an insignificant difference. The most notable difference is Thelema's abandonment of the notion of "virtue" which is so prevalent in many other systems - rather than postulating that the performance of virtue is being frustrated by the physical self (as Christianity would hold, for instance) Thelema instead postulates the opposite, that giving credence to "virtue" restricts the natural exercise of the self. Again, this certainly isn't brand new, but it's relatively unusual, and back at the beginning of the twentieth century it was a timely message.

But, in general, you're right, there's nothing breathtakingly unique and groundbreaking about Thelema.

"Iskandar" wrote:
2. Crowley's methods for achieving self-knowledge, i.e. to know one's Will, i.e. to invoke one's HGA seem to be singularly ill-suited for the purpose. If Will is an unknown factor behind or beyond the (both conscious and subconscious) machinery of our mind/body complex, it would then appear that a method of self-observation and discrimination would be much more appropriate to the task.

The theory is that "magick" exhausts the "veils" and that "yoga" stills them, the two approaches being two roads to the same end of perceiving through those veils. Remember that the whole "higher self" warning is about not simply examining the contents of the mind, but getting past them, so when you use terms like "self-observation" it's important to be clear about exactly what type of "self" you are referring to, because the distinction is important.

Of course, what is less often spelled out is that once you have stilled those veils, you have the obvious task of paying attention to what is revealed to do. This is why I emphasise rather strongly that focusing on spooky mystical experiences and stopping there is like waiting at the bus stop and then failing to get on the bus when it finally arrives.

"Iskandar" wrote:
The whole complicated edifice of both Magick and of the organized curricula of the Orders such as O.T.O. and particularly A.'.A.'. would then be rather clumsy and unnecessarily complicated means and ways of doing something that is in its method relatively simple. It would then appear that Crowley is urging his disciples to spend decades in order to learn how to walk upon water while at the same time there are simpler ways of crossing the water in a ferry.

I generally agree, but you have to keep in mind the purpose of the A.'.A.'. as a teaching order as well as a "personal progress" order. In One Star in Sight Crowley said that:

"a brilliant Exorcist might be an incompetent Diviner. In such a case the A.'. A.'. would refuse to swerve from Its system; the Aspirant would be compelled to remain at the Barrier until he succeeded in breaking it down, though a new incarnation were necessary to permit him to do so. But no technical failure of any kind soever could necessarily prevent him from accomplishing the Two Critical Tasks, since the fact of his incarnation itself proves that he has taken the Oath which entitled him to attain to the Knowledge and Conversation of his Holy Guardian Angel, and the annihilation of this Ego. One might therefore be an Adeptus Minor or even a Magister Templi, in essence, though refused official recognition by the A.'. A.'. as a Zelator owing to (say) a nervous defect which prevented him from acquiring a Posture which was 'steady and easy' as required by the Task of that grade."

It may be that one could attain using a much more abbreviated system than the full A.'.A.'. system, and indeed, if we assume that different people will require different methods and the A.'.A.'. system includes them all, then we would positively expect this to be the case, that most people don't require most of the instructions. But, if the A.'.A.'. is to be a teaching order, then everyone has to master all the tasks at every grade, because the guy underneath him might require a different method than he did, and if he did not master those methods then he's not going to be much good as a teacher in that system. Therefore one can expect to have to go through an awful lot more stuff than is required for one's own progress. We can, of course, always critically examine whether there are elements of that system that can be trimmed or removed entirely, and any A.'.A.'. offshoot worth its salt should be doing this already; Crowley's A.'.A.'. had pitifully few members to begin with, and even fewer who actually attained to any significant degree, and most of the system is therefore largely "untested". As experience with it grows, you'd expect it to change, not for organisations to promote the whole thing unmodified as a set of mindless religious practices. If any organisation is not modifying its curriculum as experience grows, then that's an indicator that one should be highly suspicious about the knowledge and abilities of the people in charge of it.

If one is merely interested in attainment then it would behoove one to be far more discriminating than blindly following a given system and simply believing that it's going to work - you need to pay attention to results and to your own life and adjust your program appropriately. "Just shut up and do the work" is fine for the first few months, but is a positively detrimental suggestion after the early stages. Far more intelligent application than that is required if people want to get anywhere. Spiritual development cannot be approached as a "head down, arse out" activity, regardless of how nice and egalitarian a dumbed-down approach like that might seem.

"Iskandar" wrote:
It is somewhat embarrassing that after more than one hundred years since the Book of the Law we still don't quite seem to be sure what is it that this Thelema is about, and what is Will, and what is Holy Guardian Angel - in other words, as we can easily witness here on Lashtal, it seems that the central tenets of the teaching lie in the darkness, ill-understood, and (it would appear) ill-conceived and ill-expressed by the founding father of the school/religion.

I wholeheartedly agree with you that it absolutely is embarrassing - cringeworthily so. Will is the single most fundamental and central concept to Thelema and I consider it a fact bordering on the shameful that very few people who identify themselves as Thelemites actually seem to know what "will" is - or even what Crowley said will is - beyond a vague kind of battle-cry to exalt themselves and justify anything they might care to do.

However, one of the points I endeavoured to make in my essay was that Crowley actually did express these things very clearly, and very succinctly. The problem is that you have to sift through an awful lot of stuff to get to them, and frankly, as much as I'd like the reverse to be true, it simply isn't reasonable to expect everyone to have a deep familiarity with the entirety of Crowley's corpus. Part of the rationale behind that essay was to accomplish the sifting that is required - on this particular topic, at least - for the benefit of those who don't have that level of familiarity, so that they don't have to do it. But, if you know where to look, the stuff is all right there in his works, as clear as day.


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 Anonymous
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"ccx" wrote:
This is a communication from an angel purporting to be Aiwass, Crowley's HGA or "True Self". I noted it on the chance you would find its depictions of its own nature, and its instructions to Crowley, relevant.

And, as I noted, it doesn't contain anything relevant to the subject at hand. The conclusions you drew are just that, your conclusions. The extract at hand - whether written by Crowley or Aiwass or anyone else - simply doesn't say what you think it does, and it doesn't say anything else connected with the topic of the Holy Guardian Angel, either. I am interested - and my essay is concerned with - what Crowley said on the subject of the Holy Guardian Angel, and the extract you quoted doesn't contain any such thing. The conclusions you have drawn based on what you think "the Path that joineth the Wisdom with the Understanding" means is coming straight from your imagination, and not from Crowley. Or Aiwass. Under a different context I may (but probably wouldn't) be interested in your own personal views on random stuff, but in this context I'm interested only in Crowley's published views, not yours.

"ccx" wrote:
Of course. In all his works, Crowley never targeted a message to his audience, never gave an answer he felt could be understood at a particular "grade" that he considered "false" or "incomplete" for a "higher grade", etc.

Don't be so obtuse. When you say "Or, in other words, his comments on this were most likely never intended to be taken literally or all too seriously" in this context, here's what it boils down to, to apply it to a specific example:

I say that Crowley said, "He is not a mere abstraction from, and exaltation of, one's own favourite qualities,", which he did.

What your comment translates to is a claim that he said: "He is not a mere abstraction from, and exaltation of, one's own favourite qualities. Maybe. Or maybe not. Perhaps both. Or neither. Actually, the HGA is utterly beyond conceptions, so I really can't say anything sensible about it all. In fact, it's so utterly beyond conceptions, that I can't even say it's beyond conceptions. I don't mean for you to take any of this literally, anyway. Or seriously. Really, just make it all up yourself. What do I know, anyway? I don't know why I'm writing any of this at all. Fancy a pint?"

Now - are you really claiming that's what he meant?

"thamiel" wrote:
I would direct you to Magick In Theory and Practice, Appendix III point 17, where Crowley quite blatantly advocates that individuals "follow their own random and wildly diverging fantasies" instead of his if it is necessary to the magickian.

And I would direct you right back to it, because that's not even remotely what he's saying. He's telling people to take what he says and then test it, instead of just accepting it on faith - which would be a "fantasy". You're dreaming if you think he's saying "bleh, don't take anything I say literally or seriously, just make your own shit it, it doesn't mean anything anyway." For example, he clearly intends for people to take his admonition to "not accept the Master Therion's account" both seriously and literally. Your argument is self-defeating.

And saying "magickian" makes the baby Jesus cry. So don't do it.


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Palamedes
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Thanks for the thoughts and clarifications Erwin. I mostly agree with all of your points.

Incidentally, I am thinking lately a lot about the relationship between Will and Love and at this juncture I would perhaps be inclined to argue that it is our desires that are indicators of our Will: Love, or Desire, as the significator and Will (or 'True Self.') as the signified. This would also mean that the trivial desires would be signs of trivial will, shallow desires of shallow will, contingent desires of contingent will, and the 'true' desires sign of the 'true' Will. In my understanding this would go hand in hand with what Crowley wrote about sexual attraction being an expression of our true inner nature that is often at odds with our conscious ideals and with traditional morality and so forth. Of course both desire and love about which I speak are not necessarily what is conventionally understood by these terms, thus, to give an example, the Buddha sitting under the tree enacts through this still sitting the strongest possible inner desire, in this case towards enlightenment. An this same desire and/or love is what is at the root of Nietzsche's amor fati, which I believe is consonant with Thelema. Love is the law. I'm probably just rambling at this point and I'm afraid that I am not being clear at all, but I actually take this idea, that desires indicate will - at least at the moment - rather seriously.


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"Iskandar" wrote:
Incidentally, I am thinking lately a lot about the relationship between Will and Love and at this juncture I would perhaps be inclined to argue that it is our desires that are indicators of our Will: Love, or Desire, as the significator and Will (or 'True Self.') as the signified. This would also mean that the trivial desires would be signs of trivial will, shallow desires of shallow will, contingent desires of contingent will, and the 'true' desires sign of the 'true' Will.

Liber Aleph is instructive on this very point (as it is on many others), particularly with regard to dreams:

"Give Ear, give Ear attentively; the Will is not lost; though it be buried beneath a life-old midden of Repressions, for it persisteth vital within thee (is it not the true Motion of thine inmost Being?) and for all thy conscious Striving cometh forth by Night and by Stealth in Dream and Phantasy. Now is it naked and brilliant, now clothed in rich Robes of Symbol and Hieroglyph; but always travelleth it with thee upon thy Path, ready to acquaint thee with thy true Nature, if thou attend unto its Word, its Gesture, or its Show of Imagery...

"Therefore deem not that thy lightest Fancy is insignificant. Thy most unconscious Acts are Keys to the Treasure-Chamber of thine own Palace, which is the House of the Holy Ghost. Consider well thy conscious Thoughts and Acts, for they are under the Dominion of thy Will, and moved in Accord with the Operation of thy Reason...

"For that Will, being alway present, albeit (it may be) latent, discovereth himself when no longer inhibited by that conscious Control which is determined by Environment, and therefore of times contrary to himself. This being so, the Will declareth himself, as it were in a Pageant, and showeth himself thus apparelled, unto the Sleeper, for a Warning or Admonition."

Liber Aleph is absolutely swimming with this type of stuff - it's one of Crowley's clearest expositions on the subject of the will and how to discover it.


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Palamedes
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Great. I guess it's time to pick up Liber Aleph again. It is an amazing piece of work - I only wish he did not go on his diatribe against women in those few chapters, but aside from that it is definitely one of his most significant works. Thanks for the reminder Erwin.


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thamiel
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And I would direct you right back to it, because that's not even remotely what he's saying. He's telling people to take what he says and then test it, instead of just accepting it on faith - which would be a "fantasy". You're dreaming if you think he's saying "bleh, don't take anything I say literally or seriously, just make your own shit it, it doesn't mean anything anyway." For example, he clearly intends for people to take his admonition to "not accept the Master Therion's account" both seriously and literally. Your argument is self-defeating.

I never use the term 'bleh' or use 'shit', so don't put words in my mouth. You are half-right, in the appendix he states that people should test their experiences against his, but not blindly accept experiences that mirror his. He clearly states 'for most men', not 'all men'. Have you even read that afore-mentioned passage? "The Magician must not accept the Master Therion's account of the Astral Plane, His Qabalistic discoveries, His instructions in Magick. They may be correct in the main for most men; yet they cannot be wholly true for any save Him..." A self-defeating arguement? Enlighten me with your wisdom, and a course in logic as to how you came to that conclusion.

And saying "magickian" makes the baby Jesus cry. So don't do it.

Another self-appointed Pope and arbiter of Thelema, dispensing unassailable truths. Myopia and ego-abscess makes Ra-Hoor-Khuit puke, so avoid it.


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 Anonymous
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"thamiel" wrote:
I never use the term 'bleh' or use 'shit', so don't put words in my mouth. You are half-right, in the appendix he states that people should test their experiences against his, but not blindly accept experiences that mirror his. He clearly states 'for most men', not 'all men'. Have you even read that afore-mentioned passage?

The one you just yourself said I was "half-right" about, you mean?

"thamiel" wrote:
A self-defeating arguement? Enlighten me with your wisdom, and a course in logic as to how you came to that conclusion.

Boy, you're pretty slow:

"Don't take what I say literally or all too seriously" ===> "Don't take what I say literally or all too seriously, including what I just said about not taking what I say literally or all too seriously" ===> "I didn't necessarily mean what I just said about not taking what I say literally or all too seriously" ===> "You're a dolt if you take this line of reasoning seriously."

See? It doesn't require a "course in logic", merely the ability to read.

"thamiel" wrote:
Another self-appointed Pope and arbiter of Thelema, dispensing unassailable truths.

"Oh no! Someone's actually reading what Crowley said! Maybe if I complain loudly enough, I'll never hear about the fact that I'm wrong, and that'll make me feel much better. Let's plug our ears before we encounter any inconvenient facts!"

"thamiel" wrote:
a consensus for Thelema is impossible

Presuming that by "Thelema" we mean "Crowley's Thelema" - since this is the home of the Aleister Crowley Society, after all - instead of some unrelated system you've just invented, then "a consensus for Thelema is impossible" only to the extent that people are unable and/or unwilling to read what Crowley wrote about it, because contrary to popular new-age belief he was actually very clear on the subject.

"thamiel" wrote:
Interpret it how you Will, as long at it works

What an obnoxious and risible anti-intellectual attitude. My toaster "works" - shall I "interpret" that as "Thelema" too?

The subject of this thread, at the home of the Aleister Crowley Society, is what Aleister Crowley wrote about the Holy Guardian Angel. If your contribution to that discussion is "blow what Aleister Crowley wrote! He never meant you to take him seriously! If it 'works', then it's Thelema!" then I think you're nothing but a wanton troll.


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thamiel
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See? It doesn't require a "course in logic", merely the ability to read.

I think you need to read some foundational texts in formal logic.

"Oh no! Someone's actually reading what Crowley said! Maybe if I complain loudly enough, I'll never hear about the fact that I'm wrong, and that'll make me feel much better.

What you have just said is that "Erwin is actually reading what Crowley said! Maybe if Thamiel complains loudly enough he will never have to hear Erwin tell him that Thamiel's views are wrong, because Erwin alone has the requisite insights into the text." What a inflated ego you have, in order to think that your exegesis of a text is the sole correct one. We are talking about texts, not physical laws, and texts have always been open to interpretation. You are expounding a textual dogmatism, based on your personal interpretations of what you are sure Crowley meant. Thats fine, its the technique x-tians use all the time. It's also tyrannical.

only to the extent that people are unable and/or unwilling to read what Crowley wrote about it, because contrary to popular new-age belief he was actually very clear on the subject.

Just like the Bible is clear to a young-earth biblical literalist (and just as clear in a different way to Shakers, Quakers, Catholics, Gnostic Christians, Lutherans...and so on). We are talking about spiritual and mystical states, beleifs, and faith, not empirically proveable truths. You would impose your particular clarity, a clarity you see (but I don't), onto others. Sounds proto-fascist, or Catholic.

You seems to be saying that Thelema begins and ends with Crowley's writings, of which you have been given special dispensation. Is Thelema then something static, rather than a dynamic current? Is it stagnant and completely dependant on your intrepretation of a cannon, rather than a creative endeavour? This is how orthodoxies start.

"blow what Aleister Crowley wrote!

Are you serious? Our entire disagreement is based on a segement of the Crowley corpus that I brought to your attention.


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 Anonymous
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"thamiel" wrote:
We are talking about texts,

No - I am talking about texts. You're talking a lot of crap about how Thelema is anything you want it to be.

"thamiel" wrote:
and texts have always been open to interpretation.

Then present an alternative "interpretation". Seriously. Present it. Here, on this thread. I've given you the evidence clearly. If someone else can show that the preponderance of evidence, taken as a whole, can reasonably be argued to lead to a conclusion materially different from the one I have described, or if someone else can show that there is a substantial body of evidence that I have not addressed and which, if I had addressed it, could reasonably be argued to lead to a materially different conclusion, then I would be genuinely delighted. That way, we'd be talking about the facts of what Aleister Crowley actually said, instead of listening to a lot of meaningless new-age babble about how unfair knowledge is and how everyone's opinion is equally valid.

I have presented the evidence, and I have formed a conclusion based on that evidence. If you want to challenge it, if you think that a different "interpretation" can be reasonably asserted, then it's up to you to demonstrate that. Until you do, all you are doing is vainly protesting against facts which you personally disapprove of and expressing vague sentiments of faith that an alternative interpretation must exist out there somewhere for no other reason than you personally disapprove of the only one you are currently aware of that I have provided for you.

You assert that the evidence I have collected and presented can reasonably be interpreted in a different light - so, here's your chance to demonstrate that assertion. Provide this alternative interpretation which you assert to existence, and demonstrate how it flows from and fits the evidence I have presented in a more consistent and convincing way than my own "interpretation" does. If you already have such an interpretation then this should be easy for you to do. If you do not already have such an interpretation then you have no business asserting that it exists. So, put your cards on the table, and let's see what you've got. I predict that all you have is anti-intellectual, anti-factual, new-age bluster, but I'd be genuinely delighted for you to prove my prediction false, since then we could have an actual discussion about what Aleister Crowley wrote.

"thamiel" wrote:
It's also tyrannical.

Facts are "tyrannical". That's the whole deal with facts - they are the facts whether you approve of them or whether you do not. What you seem to want to do is to disregard facts because you are politically opposed to both facts and knowledge as a matter of principle. And that does indeed sum up the approach most people have to Thelema these days. I'm sure you'll forgive me if I regard that pathetic and worthless position with the utmost of well-deserved contempt.

"thamiel" wrote:
We are talking about spiritual and mystical states, beleifs, and faith, not empirically proveable truths.

No, we are not - we are talking about what Aleister Crowley wrote on the subject of the Holy Guardian Angel, and this is an "empirically provable truth", whether you personally approve of what he wrote or not.

"thamiel" wrote:
You seems to be saying that Thelema begins and ends with Crowley's writings,

Crowley's Thelema is what Crowley said it was, and it certainly does begin and end with Crowley's writings. What we are - or would be, if you ever learned how to stick to the point - discussing here is Crowley's writings, and the concept of the Holy Guardian Angel that Crowley communicated in those writings. Whether you personally believe the Holy Guardian Angel or anything else for that matter to be different from how Crowley described them is entirely irrelevant. As I've clearly said on multiple occasions, I'm not in the least bit interested in your interpretations of Thelema or in your "mystical states", but in what Aleister Crowley actually wrote on the subject of the Holy Guardian Angel. Whenever you're done complaining about how politically incorrect you think the concept of facts is, you can feel free to return to that subject and we can get back on track.

"thamiel" wrote:
of which you have been given special dispensation.

No - I simply learned how to read in my early years.

"thamiel" wrote:
Are you serious? Our entire disagreement is based on a segement of the Crowley corpus that I brought to your attention.

Which you both misinterpreted and claimed (erroneously) Crowley did not intend to be taken literally or at all seriously. Wake up.


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 Anonymous
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Requesting clarification on Crowley's use of the word 'Subconscious'.

Did Crowley ever use the word 'Unconscious' either before 1937 (Equinox of the Gods) or after it?

We know that Freud condemmed the term 'subconscious' in his writing of 1915 and 1927. I wish to establish (if possible) how much Crowley knew about the emerging feild of psychology in those days, and if he choose the term 'subconscious' quite deliberately over the term 'unconscious'?

The latter would suggest that he felt the HGA/TW did not fit within the Freudian paradigm?

Thanks.


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 Anonymous
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"alrah" wrote:
I wish to establish (if possible) how much Crowley knew about the emerging feild of psychology in those days,

Pitifully little, we may reasonably assume, as is true for many other extraneous subjects he referenced and dabbled in.

"alrah" wrote:
and if he choose the term 'subconscious' quite deliberately over the term 'unconscious'?

There is almost certainly no rigorous psychological theory underlying his choice of terms. Which is probably a good thing, too; to this day psychology's claim to be a "science" at all is not undisputed.

"alrah" wrote:
The latter would suggest that he felt the HGA/TW did not fit within the Freudian paradigm?

We don't have to look very far to answer that one. From the introduction to Magick in Theory and Practice, probably his most widely known work:

"Professor Sigmund Freud and his school have, in recent years, discovered a part of this body of Truth, which has been taught for many centuries in the Sanctuaries of Initiation. But failure to grasp the fullness of Truth, especially that implied in my Sixth Theorem (above)[1] and its corollaries, has led him and his followers into the error of admitting that the avowedly suicidal 'Censor' is the proper arbiter of conduct. Official psycho-analysis is therefore committed to upholding a fraud, although the foundation of the science was the observation of the disastrous effects on the individual of being false to his Unconscious Self, whose 'writing on the wall' in dream language is the record of the sum of the essential tendencies of the true nature of the individual. The result has been that psycho-analysts have misinterpreted life, and announced the absurdity that every human being is essentially an anti-social, criminal, and insane animal. It is evident that the errors of the Unconscious of which the psycho-analysts complain are neither more nor less than the 'original sin' of the theologians whom they despise so heartily." (emphasis added)

As we can see from the emphasised portion, here yet again we have Crowley pointing out that the idea the "censor" - i.e. the faculty which judges action by a canon of virtue, rather than according to the true nature of the individual - should be the "proper arbiter of conduct", as opposed to the true nature itself, is a "fraud".

Really, this type of idea is all over the place in Crowley's writings. Some people seem to think I'm making all this up, or coming up with some whacked-out "interpretation", but all you need to do is read the man's words, where it's plainly spelled out in pretty much the exact same terms I'm using.

[1] i.e. "'Every man and every woman is a star'. That is to say, every human being is intrinsically an independent individual with his own proper character and proper motion."


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 Anonymous
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"Erwin" wrote:
We don't have to look very far to answer that one. From the introduction to Magick in Theory and Practice, probably his most widely known work....

There's also this in the Confessions, which basically says the same thing and repeats the explanation he gave to Frank Bennett:

"Most people, especially Freud, misunderstand the Freudian position. 'The libido of the unconscious' is really 'the true will of the inmost self'. The sexual characteristics of the individual are, it is true, symbolic indications of its nature, and when those are 'abnormal', we may suspect that the self is divided against itself in some way. Experience teaches the adepts who initiate mankind that when any complex (duality) in the self is resolved (unity) the initiate becomes whole. The morbid sexual symptoms (which are merely the complaints of the sick animal) disappear, while the moral and mental consciousness is relieved from its civil war of doubt and self-obsession. The complete man, harmonized,
ows freely towards his natural goal.
." (emphasis added again)

Again, you don't have to look very far to find this stuff - you just have to know where to look for it. Most people seem to get little out of Crowley's works than instructions on how to perform the LBRP, which is why I'm going to the trouble of actually pointing out the things he really did say, because it seems that only a very small percentage of Crowley enthusiasts are even aware that this kind of thing exists in his works. That being the case, no wonder some of the things I say about his ideas sound strange to them. On the subject of the Holy Guardian Angel at least, hopefully some more light has now been shed for these folks.


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 Anonymous
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"Erwin" wrote:
The complete man, harmonized,
ows freely towards his natural goal..

That should be "flows freely towards his natural goal". Too late on the edit button.


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 Anonymous
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It seems a lot of peopel I have come across seem to compound the ideas of the HGA and the true Will into one concept. From my understanding, the Angel is the means by which your true Will is communicated to you, but the two are not one and the same.
I had a lengthier thesis on the bus earlier, but now sitting down, the thoughts elude the written word.


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"AEternitas" wrote:
It seems a lot of peopel I have come across seem to compound the ideas of the HGA and the true Will into one concept. From my understanding, the Angel is the means by which your true Will is communicated to you, but the two are not one and the same.

My essay contains a section devoted to Crowley's thoughts on this, and you have it about right. Essentially the HGA is the "true self" rather than the "true will", and since the true will is "but the dynamic aspect of the self", then the HGA is "an intelligible image of [one's] own True Will". It is the "Knowledge and Conversation of" the HGA which "is the means by which your true Will is communicated to you", since it is by observing the "true self" that you discover what its preferences are, and therefore what its will is. The upshot is that KCHGA and "discovering the will" are identical, even if "will" and "HGA" are not.


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Palamedes
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I like your summary here Erwin, responding to AEternitas' post. What about Hadit, however? My understanding is that it is Hadit, in fact, who/which is the true self (or no-self) and that HGA is its 'intelligible image.' Hadit is not a substantial entity however (hmmm, weird wording) but rather an activity (of knowing or witnessing); you might say, not a noun but a verb, and that function of that verb is the Will/Love. I am sorry for being rather vague but am truly interested in the response about the relationship between these (Hadit, HGA, the Will, and the Self).

(In the poems attached to the Tarot Atus (in The Heart of the Master and later The Book of Thoth) Crowley states, "Know thyself through thy way" (I'm quoting from memory): in other words, the act of going, the way, constitutes the self; one might say, thus, that the self is becoming rather than being.)


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"Iskandar" wrote:
I like your summary here Erwin, responding to AEternitas' post. What about Hadit, however? My understanding is that it is Hadit, in fact, who/which is the true self (or no-self) and that HGA is its 'intelligible image.'

Page 5 of my essay quotes Crowley's comment to AL II, 65 (incorrectly stated as being to AL I, 65, I now notice) equating Hadit, the "True Self" and the Holy Guardian Angel as all being the same thing. Arguably simultaneously asserting that the HGA is both the "True Self" and "an intelligible image of [the] true Will" - as opposed to the source of the true will, which the true self is - is somewhat inconsistent, but you end up at the same overall conclusion whichever of those two things you apply the label to - i.e. it's the fact that the HGA is equated with the true will/self/nature/stuff in one way or another that's really important, here - so it's not a particularly troublesome inconsistency, and I'm not sure there's much utility in agonising over the difference in terminology. Also see my final comment below.

"Iskandar" wrote:
Hadit is not a substantial entity however (hmmm, weird wording)

Yeah, I think we have to be careful when we start trying to argue about how well one vague metaphorical term does or does not coincide with another vague metaphorical term - it's real easy to start descending into "how many angels can dance on the head of a pin" type discussions when that happens.

"Iskandar" wrote:
(In the poems attached to the Tarot Atus (in The Heart of the Master and later The Book of Thoth) Crowley states, "Know thyself through thy way" (I'm quoting from memory): in other words, the act of going, the way, constitutes the self; one might say, thus, that the self is becoming rather than being.)

Yes, I've said before how you can only really determine the nature of something by observing how it interacts with other things, therefore "what something is" and "what something does" are merely two sides of the same coin, and they depend on each other for meaning. You certainly can say that the "the way constitutes the self", but you can equally say that the way is just what the self does - i.e. without a being in the first place, there wouldn't be anything to do the going - so it just depends on from what perspective you want to look at it.


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Palamedes
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Nice. Thanks for the response Erwin.


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 Anonymous
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Great stuff!

I'm often defeated by the sheer volume of Crowleys written work when I wish to know something of a specific nature. Until his entire corpus is cross referenced and catalogued then people with a cherry picking approach to learning (such as myself) are going to be frustrated, but at least on this most important of all issues in Thelema - what Crowley actually wrote about the HGA we have a bit more light and a lot less smoke to cloud the issue.

As you've done a thorough compilation for us, there's now no excuse for mis-attributing ones own thought's to Crowleys. You're to be commended for your contribution.

Thanks again.


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alysa
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Erwin, I still haven't read your essay entirely, but I was very much willing to give you already a very great compliment for what your written, you did a very important job, ofcourse I'm very much willing to read it completely in due time, I'm thinking of buying it also in due time, high regards, Alysa.


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Los
 Los
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Erwin,

I've read your essay and am quite impressed by its scope. I think that any fair minded reader would find it impossible not to come to the conclusions that you do. While I would enjoy seeing someone attempt to mount a case for Crowley claiming that the HGA is a separate entity, I don't think it is possible to do such a thing successfully -- particularly after your exhaustive article ran through every significant HGA-mention in Crowley's work.

Many people seem to have the notion that the KC of the HGA is strictly a mystical experience of some kind, a mystical experience that involves...well, conversation. For example, I've seen people claim online to be able to literally "converse" with their HGA and receive "responses," whether these responses be in the form of mental messages, "signs" that the individual is to interpret (though, obviously, labeling some event as a "sign" is also up to interpretation), or even some kind of vague feeling. One gets the impression that some people think the HGA is like a magic 8 ball -- or, at the least, that "knowing the will" comes about by means of a mystic trance state in which there are visions or imaginary "conversations" going on.

Here's a question: is there any justification at all for such an approach to the HGA in Crowley's work?

If the reading of Crowley provided in your article is correct (and it certainly seems to be, based on the strength of the evidence and the remarkable consistency throughout Crowley's career), then it follows that the sorts of HGA "communications" I mention above -- arising as they do in the imagination -- do not provide information about the will and instead will almost certainly consist of material from the mind: the individual's preferences, qualities and values that an individual happens to like, moral ideas, and other things associated with the "higher self," as you mention in your article.

Given the fact that your essay uses Crowley's own words to demolish a very popular interpretation of the HGA, I'm surprised that so few people have responded to this essay. Hmm. Come to think of it, maybe I shouldn't be.


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herupakraath
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In his essay Irwin wrote:

The comments used to advance a view that Crowley really meant an
honest-to-goodness `external Being' when he used the term are seen to not hold water.

The term Erwin refers to in the quote is Holy Guardian Angel.

Erwin,

I noticed you touched briefly on the issue of Rose Crowley being in contact with Aiwass before Aleister Crowley was, which would make Aiwass able to manifest beyond the internal consciousness of Crowley, making Aiwass ipso facto an external being. It is impossible to accept the account provided by Crowley of the Cairo Working as truthful without admitting Crowley had no choice but to believe Aiwass was an external being.

Crowley was very consistent in his efforts at imparting skepticism in his readers, and did so at the risk of contradicting himself. For instance, Crowley describes the qabala as a convenient system of classification, and was critical of Charles Stansfield-Jones for taking aspects of the qabala too literally. Despite his calls for objectivity, we see Crowley describing the Hebrew alphabet as Sacred and Holy in the Book of the Thoth, which it can be, but only if one drinks the Jewish Koolaid and tosses objectivity along with paleographic research out the window.

Even though Crowley may have never said as much, the equating of the HGA with the Great Work infers that the HGA could be an external being due to the Great Work consisting of uniting the microcosm, the internal Universe, with the macrocosm, the external Universe.


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"Los" wrote:
I think that any fair minded reader would find it impossible not to come to the conclusions that you do. While I would enjoy seeing someone attempt to mount a case for Crowley claiming that the HGA is a separate entity, I don't think it is possible to do such a thing successfully

Well, obviously I agree with you, but that's not saying much.

There are only two avenues open to people who want to dispute my conclusions: they can either bring new evidence to light, or they can argue that my "interpretation" of that evidence is flawed. It's almost a tautology to say I don't think this can be done, since if I thought there was any new evidence, or if I thought there were any alternative interpretations, then I'd have included them in my essay. By definition, if there were any way to dispute my conclusions it would be in a way I have as of yet been currently unable to conceive, so it shouldn't be surprising if I think it can't be done. I don't claim to be infallible, and hence I'm certainly open to the possibility that my conclusions can be reasonably challenged, and in the event anybody turns out to be able to do this I'd happily acknowledge it. That being said, I do think I have good reasons for suspecting that nobody actually will be able to do it.

On the question of evidence, I've defined my evidential universe as being Crowley's published technical prose, and to come up with my evidence I literally went through it all. Mentioning no names (or numbers) when some people want to quote Crowley on an issue I suspect they do a simple text search for the key phrase through a bunch of files on their hard drive, but this is not a suitable approach. For instance, I happen to know that Crowley used terms such as "silent self" and "augeoides" to consistently refer to the Holy Guardian Angel, and it's possible that extracts exist where Crowley uses these terms but doesn't explicitly use the term "Holy Guardian Angel", and if such extracts might lead to a materially different conclusion then a text search would not identify such things. So, I actually read (admittedly quickly) through the whole lot of it to identify any extracts which could reasonably be interpreted to refer to the HGA, whether they employ that exact term or not (for the sake of full disclosure, I did perform a text search too, to make sure I didn't miss anything obvious).

Now, there were some extracts I didn't use. One section contains four separate quotes that basically say nothing other than the fact KCHGA is equivalent to performing the "Great Work", but I included all of these because I deliberately wanted to make the point that he repeatedly made this identification in a number of works. On other occasions, if a particular extract merely repeated a point in substantially the same words as another one, then I elected to omit it for the sake of brevity.

The point is that while I'm open to the possibility that I've missed a few quotes, I'm pretty confident that I haven't missed any that would materially alter my conclusion, especially since for the really significant ones - e.g. the "objective individual" quote, the extracts from Samekh, and so on - I already know where they are; I don't need to trawl through the corpus to find them. Thus, I think the odds of someone being able to find any materially contradictory evidence within the universe that I have defined are very slim.

On the question of interpretation, my explicit intention for this essay was to keep my own interpretation to a bare minimum. For instance, in the "objective individual" extract Crowley uses the term "Higher Self", and in another letter in the same book he defines the "Higher Self" as "a mere abstraction from, and exaltation of, one's own favourite qualities", so I have inferred that in the "objective individual" extract he's defining that term in the same way. As another example, earlier in the "new comment" he criticises the term "Higher Self" but approves the term "True Self", so I have inferred from that that by decrying the use of the term "Higher Self" he is not saying that no "subjective" or "internal" view is invalid, since the "True Self" clearly is such a thing. I think any "fair minded reader" would agree that this really is keeping my own interpretation to a bare minimum, and really just assuming that when Crowley used the same term within the same context on different occasions, he was talking about the same thing, and conclusions from one occasion can therefore be carried over to the other occasion.

Further, some people seem to be under the impression that practically everything Crowley wrote is vague, and ambiguous, and must be deeply interpreted - one respondent to this very thread appears to suggest just that, and appears to conclude that it is simply impossible to discover what Crowley meant about anything. One of the things I hope my essay showed is that this simply isn't true. While there certainly are instances in Crowley's writings which need interpretation - the infamous "A male child of perfect innocence and high intelligence is the most satisfactory and suitable victim" being the most obvious example - but in the vast majority of cases this is not necessary. Again, when Crowley defines the "Higher Self" as "a mere abstraction from, and exaltation of, one's own favourite qualities", there really is no scope for interpretation at all, here - it just means exactly what it says.

So beyond reading straightforward phrases in a straightforward way and assuming Crowley used terms consistently in similar contexts, I really haven't done any "interpretation" at all. I am therefore inclined to suspect that any "alternative interpretation" that materially alters my conclusions can only be done by reading things into Crowley's writings that aren't actually there.

So, I agree with you, but I'm not so full of hubris that I'm going to declare it impossible to refute my conclusions. However, I'll take that possibility seriously when and only when someone actually manages to do it.

"Los" wrote:
Here's a question: is there any justification at all for such an approach to the HGA in Crowley's work?

That's a good question. As far as I am concerned, there are only two possible avenues for such a "justification", and neither of them are remotely convincing.

The first is actually quoted in my essay, from Magick Without Tears:

"Imagine for a moment that you are an orphan in the charge of a guardian, inconceivably learned from your point of view. Suppose therefore that you are puzzled by some problem suitable to your childish nature, your obvious and most simple way is to approach your guardian and ask him to enlighten you. It is clearly part of his function as guardian to do his best to help you. Very good, that is the first method, and a close parallel with what we understand by the word Magick."

Now, here's a good example of a couple points. First, this extract doesn't actually mention the term "Holy Guardian Angel", and would be missed by a text search, but it's clearly talking about something so similar that it's worth including within the evidence.

Secondly, this is where we run into problems with "interpretation". On the face of it, Crowley seems to be talking about something which appears to be KCHGA in the exact and literal terms of talking to an individual and asking for answers. The issue comes at the end, where he says this is "a close parallel with what we understand by the word Magick". The obvious question is "how close"? So close as to be practically identical in intent and method? Merely close enough to indicate the general intent, but with a totally different method which doesn't involve talking to individuals at all?

The problem is that Crowley never says. You can only get from that extract to the conclusion that Crowley actually was talking to "beings" by personally electing to interpret "close parallel" in a particular way, and I deliberately refrained from doing this in my essay. I was explicitly interested in what Crowley actually did say, not in what he didn't say, or what he might have said if he secretly meant what I suspected that he meant. So, would someone be "justified" in such an approach in Crowley's work? Depends how strong you want your "justification" to be. What is beyond dispute is that Crowley is not actually coming out and saying that here.

The second potential avenue is also in Magick Without Tears:

"Astral travel - development of the Astral Body is essential to research; and, above all, to the attainment of 'the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel.'"

The reason I didn't include this in my essay, despite the fact that it explicitly references the "Holy Guardian Angel", is that it contains no information on the nature of the HGA, on what it actually is. Compare this to the "absence of his bodily, mental and astral consciousness" reference in Samekh which reveals something of the nature of the task. Here, although it says "Astral travel...is essential" it doesn't say why it is essential, or how astral travel might be expected to result in KCHGA, so it actually doesn't contain any useful information to the topic at hand.

Also, this is another illustration of the problems of "interpretation". It says that "Astral travel...is essential...to the attainment of 'the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel'" but it doesn't say that KCHGA is achieved by astral travel. Again, compare this to Samekh, where he says that "he should have acquired, by previous practice, the faculty of detaching these elements of his consciousness from their articulate centre", and so this also is "essential", but KCHGA is not achieved by "acquiring the faculty of detaching these elements". It's merely a necessary prerequisite. In the same way, "astral travel" may be a necessary prerequisite for KCHGA, but in itself completely unrelated to KCHGA or to the HGA itself.

Now someone could take this, particularly in combination with some of the "independent intelligence" remarks also listed in my essay, and argue that KCHGA really is about talking to a being on the "astral plane", but once again, Crowley does not say that. Anyone who did come out and say that would be reading stuff into Crowley's words that he did not put in them; they would be imposing their own "interpretations" on the text.

So to address your question, these are the only two possible avenues of "justification" that I see, but because the "justification" in both cases requires reading stuff into Crowley that he didn't put there himself, it is not possible for one to argue that Crowley actually described KCHGA as talking to a being.

But, there is a much more important issue here. One of the things I (probably vainly) hope I have achieved with my essay is to forever close the door to anyone who wants to pick out individual quotes and say "Ha! See? Crowley was talking about something different than you are!" I have provided and defined a comprehensive body of evidence which, taken as a whole, points strongly to a given conclusion, and no one or two isolated quotes can, by themselves, overturn that body of evidence. This type of justification by isolated quotes should, to any "fair minded reader" of my essay, be accepted as a hopeless cause. To overturn my conclusions, it is no longer sufficient to find individual quotes that might be interpreted in a contrary way - one must also now demonstrate how the large body of evidence which supports my conclusions actually does not mean what it appears to mean. In short, it is not enough to simply assert a contrary view supported by a few quotes - the substantial body of evidence I have provided must also be refuted. Therefore even if these two instances could conclusively be justified as suggesting KCHGA as "talking to beings", it still wouldn't - by itself - be enough to overturn the large quantity of other evidence which opposes such an interpretation, so even if you could "justify" such a view on a quote-by-quote basis, it is not possible to "justify" such a view in the context of all the other evidence unless all that evidence is also refuted.

"Los" wrote:
Given the fact that your essay uses Crowley's own words to demolish a very popular interpretation of the HGA, I'm surprised that so few people have responded to this essay. Hmm. Come to think of it, maybe I shouldn't be.

I see your point, but for the sake of fairness, although failure to answer a direct question may sometimes be revealing, it is not possible to legitimately infer anything from the failure of any particular individual or individuals to participate in an entire thread. There could be any number of reasons why people choose not to participate, ranging from agreeing with me and seeing no point piping up to say so at one end of the scale, through just not wanting to argue with me in particular somewhere in the middle, right through to thinking my conclusions are so ridiculous that they don't even deserve refuting at the other end.


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"herupakraath" wrote:
It is impossible to accept the account provided by Crowley of the Cairo Working as truthful without admitting Crowley had no choice but to believe Aiwass was an external being.

Well, it actually isn't. In The Equinox of the Gods Crowley is prepared to take seriously the possibility that Aiwass was a "severely suppressed" part of him. He concluded that "the law of Parsimony of Thought appears in rebuttal", yes, but he didn't actually reject it outright, so saying he "had no choice" is not justified.

Also, my essay goes into quite a lot of detail to demonstrate that fact that when Crowley identified Aiwass as his "Holy Guardian Angel" he was very clearly taking about a type of "Holy Guardian Angel" that is radically different from the type that the instructions of the A.'.A.'. were directed towards, for instance, so regardless of what conclusions you might want to draw about Aiwass, it cannot affect my conclusions on the type of "HGA" that Crowley said "is the essential work of every man", which is the type of "HGA" he was talking about in absolutely every other context.

"herupakraath" wrote:
Even though Crowley may have never said as much, the equating of the HGA with the Great Work infers that the HGA could be an external being due to the Great Work consisting of uniting the microcosm, the internal Universe, with the macrocosm, the external Universe.

I'll refer you to the reply I just gave to Los on this point, and make the following two observations

Firstly, it may or may not be possible to infer what you say, but if you do, that's your inference, not Crowley's, as you correctly point out. The entire foundation of my essay is to examine what Crowley actually did say on the subject, and to studiously disregard any "interpretations" others - including me - may want to overlay on what he said.

Secondly, and more importantly, it is quite simply no longer tenable to make such an isolated inference and argue that "Crowley might have meant the HGA is an external being" - to sensibly make such an assertion, you'd also have to conclusively refute point-by-point all the rest of the evidence that says otherwise. It's important to look at the balance of the evidence taken as a whole, and this balance seems to point conclusively in a single direction.


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Los
 Los
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"Erwin" wrote:
I see your point, but for the sake of fairness, although failure to answer a direct question may sometimes be revealing, it is not possible to legitimately infer anything from the failure of any particular individual or individuals to participate in an entire thread.

Yeah -- and given the length and comprehensiveness of your essay, it's probably unrealistic of me to expect people to speed through it in such a short time and be ready to discuss it.

All the same, I'd be very interested to see someone eventually attempt a refutation of your argument.


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the_real_simon_iff
(@the_real_simon_iff)
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Erwin, 93!

I also think that your essay is very useful. It's enlightening to read the stuff AC wrote about the matter in one rush and in relationship among each other, there is much food for thought. Great Work! I also think that your argument cannot be refuted realistically by anyone - of course the arguments will be about if Crowley "got it right" at all. And of course there will be arguments if his "published work of prose" is the right place to look in the first place.

I for one am also very much looking forward to the forthcoming publication of his Collected Diaries, because I hope this will add much to the discussion. There surely will be other useful hints in his "unpublished work of private prose", there might be instances of doubt on the matter, there might be severe discrepancies coming to light, who knows? I am sure they will be highly interesting, because the diaries might be more honest than his "published work of prose". But we all have to wait. I am afraid that your words are not final.

"Erwin in his essay" wrote:
... it is as least beyond reasonable doubt that when Crowley did refer to Aiwass as his `Holy Guardian Angel', he was not using that term in the same sense as he consistently used it elsewhere in his works, because to do so would completely overturn and abrogate his entire philosophy and system of magical development, [...] This being the case, the `Aiwass problem' need trouble us no further, and we can continue with our investigation.

This is the only issue in your essay that I believe is not ultimately addressed by "the Aiwass problem need trouble us no further", because I feel that he also pretty consistently and importantly (and not only in a few instances) mentions Aiwass as his HGA and that will indeed trouble us further. Indeed, the fact that he uses the term HGA differently at all will trouble us further (with "us" I mean that your essay will not silence the discussions in this forum on the matter).

"Los" wrote:
Yeah -- and given the length and comprehensiveness of your essay, it's probably unrealistic of me to expect people to speed through it in such a short time and be ready to discuss it.

For anyone following Erwin's blog and other publishings the length will not be a problem, because there is not so much new stuff in the essay. But of course people will have to check the comprehensiveness and more importantly, they have to summarize their arguments in an equally well-sorted manner to "accept the competition".

Anyway, great work, again...

Love=Law
Lutz


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 Anonymous
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"the_real_simon_iff" wrote:
I for one am also very much looking forward to the forthcoming publication of his Collected Diaries, because I hope this will add much to the discussion. There surely will be other useful hints in his "unpublished work of private prose", there might be instances of doubt on the matter, there might be severe discrepancies coming to light, who knows? I am sure they will be highly interesting, because the diaries might be more honest than his "published work of prose". But we all have to wait. I am afraid that your words are not final.

Well, as I said, I think his published works "trump" his diaries and personal correspondence as a point of principle. Anyone who's actually kept a diary themselves will be aware of the utter tripe that can sometimes end up being written in them. When someone sits down to publish a work it is reasonable to suppose that they consciously decide what they want to say to the world and how they want to say it, and if the message or manner of presentation is at variance with unpublished diaries then I think it is eminently reasonable to assume the published works to be the more accurate and reliable sources, even if his diaries may be considered more raw and "honest". One concludes on an academic's views on his research by consulting his published papers, not by consulting his scribbled notes and diary entries on the subject, and I don't see that it should be any different here.

The only real avenue for dispute will be if his diaries and letters are liberally peppered with comments such as "Wrote a new book about the A.'.A.'. system today. Haha! The fools! I've hoodwinked them good this time. When will these proles learn that there is no personal attainment, that there is no 'true will', and that being handpicked by the Secret Chiefs is the whole thing!" In other words, if it can be demonstrated from his diaries and letters that his published works in their entirety are a massive and calculated fraud that do not remotely resemble his actual views. Aside from that, therefore, I think my words (actually Crowley's words) are indeed "final" on this particular subject.

Of course, you are correct to say that any such discrepancies found will be "highly interesting" in and of themselves, so they would certainly "add to the discussion", even if they don't alter the conclusions. But, as you say, "we all have to wait". I don't think there's much use speculating about what discrepancies might be found in his diaries until we do actually find them.

"the_real_simon_iff" wrote:
This is the only issue in your essay that I believe is not ultimately addressed by "the Aiwass problem need trouble us no further", because I feel that he also pretty consistently and importantly (and not only in a few instances)

Compared to the occasions where he talked about the HGA in the "individual attainment" sense, I assert that those instances are indeed "few" in his published works of prose, but their frequency is actually not particularly germane to the discussion, for the reason I'm about to repeat.

"the_real_simon_iff" wrote:
mentions Aiwass as his HGA and that will indeed trouble us further. Indeed, the fact that he uses the term HGA differently at all will trouble us further (with "us" I mean that your essay will not silence the discussions in this forum on the matter).

By "trouble us no further" I mean "can be deemed to be irrelevant to the discussion of what Crowley meant by the term 'Holy Guardian Angel' in the context of his A.'.A.'. system and broader ideas of individual attainment in general", because it is now clear that this is not the type of "HGA" that he was talking about when using that term in reference to Aiwass. The subject of Aiwass may certainly be a valid topic of discussion in and of itself, but I think it's now very clear that he was just not talking about the same type of "HGA" in those instances. Looking at what he actually did mean by "HGA" in the context of Aiwass may "trouble us further", but the principle relevance of Aiwass to my essay and to my conclusions is merely to demonstrate that it is definitely unrelated to the type of HGA that the A.'.A.'. system was directed towards, as opposed to explaining that usage in its own right.

"the_real_simon_iff" wrote:
For anyone following Erwin's blog and other publishings the length will not be a problem, because there is not so much new stuff in the essay.

You are, of course, correct here - as I said to Los, I know where all the important HGA references are in Crowley's works, I've known for years where they all are, and so the conclusions I come to in my essay are naturally the same conclusions I've been publicly talking about for years now. It is "only" the "proof by Crowley" that is really new, and the demonstration that - in this particular aspect, at least, since we must remember the essay is restricted to a single topic, albeit a highly important one - this is definitely Crowley's Thelema that I've been talking about all this time, as opposed to some weird and distorted brand of "Erwin's Thelema", or some weird "interpretation" I have of his works. It also demonstrates that Crowley's ideas about the HGA are not the fruit of some brief "rationalist phase" as some here have asserted, but in fact span substantially his entire body of published output. But you're perfectly right, anyone familiar with my own writings will recognise in that essay the exact same conclusions I've been consistently putting across for years.


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the_real_simon_iff
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"Erwin" wrote:
In other words, if it can be demonstrated from his diaries and letters that his published works in their entirety are a massive and calculated fraud that do not remotely resemble his actual views. Aside from that, therefore, I think my words (actually Crowley's words) are indeed "final" on this particular subject.

93!

What I am thinking about is not as drastic as what you are making fun of. No "Haha! These fools!" stuff. But maybe indications that what he extrapolated from his personal experiences which led to his words in his "published prose" might not be as consistent as we believe it to be. It might be that the amount of "creative process" he applied when preparing his conclusions for the reader is bigger than expected, extremely well thought out, but a creation of his intellect nonetheless. (Which of course is more than fine with me)

Anyway, that's all speculation from my side, but as we see with his "creativity" of narrative regarding the origins of TBOTL and the whereabouts of the book in its early years, I am confident that there will surface some intersting stuff. But - we have to wait. I am just more cautious than you when it comes to "final" words and meanings.

Love=Law
Lutz


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 Anonymous
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Erwin,

Thank you! We need more of this kind of scholarly and lucid work. Any other essays you would recommend?

On an unrelated note, didn't Crowley claim success with ritual KCHGA on 2 or 3 different occasions, the last being in 1907 (I refer to John St John, but I'm not sure when it was recorded)? Any chance of HGA part 2: The Difficult Case of the Shifty Angel? 😉

~a~


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 Anonymous
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Azwyth, your signature is a misquote.

I'm wondering, therefore, how much value to place on your definition of "scholarly".

Utterly pretentious, rather, is how Erwin's document strikes me.

One would have much preferred just a collection of all Crowley's quotes, without all the totally unnecessary and unasked-for "interpreting". Crowley does not need commentators! As if he couldn't write for himself or something . . .

YAWN.

Best regards
N.


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 Anonymous
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Hi Noctifer,

Regarding Erwin's essay, to each his own. I like it and appreciate any reasonable investigation into the writings of Crowley. The essay seems reasonable to me, and helpful.

As to the signature, i quote from the manuscript. Without including the phrase (in Crowley's hand) "The shape of my star is", Rose's addition is a sentence fragment. I understand this to mean that Rose's repair is nonsensical without "The shape of my star is", by which i mean, they go together. I would say, though it sound heretical, Liber 220 misquotes the Liber 31. No biggie.

The sentence is important to me: before i read TBOTL i drew up a banner - a pentagram with a red circle in the middle. It was hanging on my wall when i read the Book. (At which time i just about dropped a load.)

~a


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 Anonymous
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AzwYth, 

Thanks for the explanation. However, if you'd like to be extra-correct, and "scholarly" like Erwin [sic.], it is still a misquote. 

The manuscript of Liber Legis does not have verse numbers. So by putting "1.60 " (incidentally, the Chapter number should be a Roman numeral, but I digress), you contextualise the passage as belonging to Liber CCXX. Either way, it's a misquote, or a creative blend, earnest though it be.

Best Regards
N


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 Anonymous
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Shit - Good point Noctifer! That crossed-reference had not occurred to me. (It could still be called the 60th verse of the MS, but that doesn't help the sloppiness.) I've adjusted it.

Thanks,
~a.


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