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 Anonymous
Joined: 51 years ago
Posts: 0
04/09/2007 11:50 pm  

I came across this link looking up some stuff on Oscar Wilde. I had not come across a lot of Aleister's poems listed here and thought some of you had not either.

http://www.poemhunter.com/aleister-crowley/

p.s Enjoy the Zep show if any of you lucky bastards get to go!


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lashtal
(@lashtal)
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Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 5320
05/09/2007 12:23 am  

Thanks for that.

I'm reminded every day of the beauty and brilliance of some of the man's poetry...

La Gitana

Your hair was full of roses in the dewfall as we danced,
The sorceress enchanting and the paladin entranced,
In the starlight as we wove us in a web of silk and steel
Immemorial as the marble in the halls of Boabdil,
In the pleasuance of the roses with the fountains and the yews
Where the snowy Sierra soothed us with the breezes and the dews!
In the starlight as we trembled from a laugh to a caress,
And the God came warm upon us in our pagan allegresse.
Was the Baile de la Bona too seductive? Did you feel
Through the silence and the softness all the tension of the steel?
For your hair was full of roses, and my flesh was full of thorns,
And the midnight came upon us worth a million crazy morns.
Ah! my Gipsy, my Gitana, my Saliya! were you fain
For the dance to turn to earnest? - O the sunny land of Spain!
My Gitana, my Saliya! more delicious than a dove!
With your hair aflame with roses and your lips alight with love!
Shall I see you, shall I kiss you once again? I wander far
From the sunny land of summer to the icy Polar Star.
I shall find you, I shall have you! I am coming back again
From the filth and fog to seek you in the sunny land of Spain.
I shall find you, my Gitana, my Saliya! as of old
With your hair aflame with roses and your body gay with gold.
I shall find you, I shall have you, in the summer and the south
With our passion in your body and our love upon your mouth -
With our wonder and our worship be the world aflame anew!
My Gitana, my Saliya! I am coming back to you!

Owner and Editor
LAShTAL


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phthah
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Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 210
05/09/2007 2:30 am  

93,

I'm reminded every day of the beauty and brilliance of some of the man's poetry...

As am I. La Gitana is a good one. Also, The Pentagram comes to mind. Perhaps that would be a good question to ask, (if it has not been already) what is your one favorite poem by A.C.? Anyway, here is an excerpt from one of my favorites from Rosa Mundi:

THE NIGHTMARE

Up, up, my bride! Away to ride
Upon the nightmare's wings!
The livid lightning's wine we'll drink,
And laugh for joy of life, and think
Unutterable things!

The gallant caught the lady fair
Below the arms that lay
Curling in coils of yellow hair,
And kissed her lips. "Away!"

The lover caught his mistress up
And lifted her to heaven,
Drank from her lips as from the cup
Of poppies drowsed at even.

"Away, away, my lady may!
The wind is fair and free;
Away, away, the glint of day
Is faded from the ghostly grey
That shines beyond the sea."

The lordly bridegroom took the bride
As giants grasp a flower.
"A night of nights, my queen, to ride
Beyond the midnight hour."
The bride still slept; the lonely tide
Of sleep was on the tower.

"Awake, awake! for true love's sake!
The blood is pulsing faster.
My swift veins burn with keen desire
Toward those ebony wings of fire,
The monarchs of disaster!"
The golden bride awoke and sighed
And looked upon her master.

p.s Enjoy the Zep show if any of you lucky bastards get to go!

What Zep show are you referring to?

93 93/93


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OKontrair
(@okontrair)
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Posts: 501
05/09/2007 1:42 pm  

I like La Gitana and Pentagram mainly because I can hear them read - I find poetry often passes me by on the page. Anyone else who likes La Gitana can find another tiny fragment of information on this remarkable lass in the Bagh-i-Muattar on page 26. Clarifies line 10 I rather think.

B-i-M was written in 1910 and Capt.Fuller was pretty impressed with La Gitana. Capt. fuller was also known as Fritz. The name Fritz and the year 1910 will, I'm sure, bring to everybody's minds the siege of Sidney St.

(anyone lucky enough to be young and/or not English can either look it up or accept my assurance that it was a kind of British Waco)

This points you at my favourite - Stepney:

"Another clip of bullets for the bastard hounds of law"

OK


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 Anonymous
Joined: 51 years ago
Posts: 0
08/08/2011 10:35 pm  

Greetings!

"phthah" wrote:
Perhaps that would be a good question to ask, (if it has not been already) what is your one favorite poem by A.C.?

After reading "La Gitana", I though to start a new thread about A.C.'s poetry. However, a little search in the forums brought me to this thread where I also found a question similar to the one I was ready to ask:
"What is your favourite poem by Aleister Crowley?"

I would just take it a bit further and suggest to add one poem every week or so (depending on the length of the previous poem) so that the members will have the time to make some kind of a short commentary and share their points of view.

Let's begin with "La Gitana"!

Regards
Hecate


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lashtal
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08/08/2011 11:05 pm  

It really does come alive when you hear the audio recording of Crowley reciting it.

A remarkably good poem, in my not very humble opinion.

Owner and Editor
LAShTAL


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obscurus
(@obscuruspaintus)
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Posts: 315
09/08/2011 3:10 am  

The Rose and the Cross

Out of the seething cauldron of my woes,
Where sweets and salt and bitterness I flung;
Where charmed music gathered from my tongue,
And where I chained strange archipelagoes
Of fallen stars; where fiery passion flows
A curious bitumen; where among
The glowing medley moved the tune unsung
Of perfect love: thence grew the Mystic Rose.

Its myriad petals of divided light;
Its leaves of the most radiant emerald;
Its heart of fire like rubies. At the sight
I lifted up my heart to God and called:
How shall I pluck this dream of my desire?
And lo! there shaped itself the Cross of Fire!


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phthah
(@phthah)
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Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 210
09/08/2011 4:24 am  

93,

"Hecate" wrote:
Greetings!
After reading "La Gitana", I though to start a new thread about A.C.'s poetry. However, a little search in the forums brought me to this thread where I also found a question similar to the one I was ready to ask:
"What is your favourite poem by Aleister Crowley?"

I would just take it a bit further and suggest to add one poem every week or so (depending on the length of the previous poem) so that the members will have the time to make some kind of a short commentary and share their points of view.

Let's begin with "La Gitana"!

Great idea Hecate! I had forgotten all about this thread. It's hard to believe that it was started that long ago...and that the Zep reunion was that long ago too!

"lastal" wrote:
It really does come alive when you hear the audio recording of Crowley reciting it.

A remarkably good poem, in my not very humble opinion.

I have to agree with you here. You can really hear the passion in A.C.'s voice when he recites it! "For your hair was full of roses, and my flesh was full of thorns"...great stuff!

93 93/93
phthah


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 Anonymous
Joined: 51 years ago
Posts: 0
09/08/2011 8:24 pm  
"lashtal" wrote:
It really does come alive when you hear the audio recording of Crowley reciting it.

A remarkably good poem, in my not very humble opinion.

sorry, I may have missed soemthing, is there a link to AC reading this?


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 Anonymous
Joined: 51 years ago
Posts: 0
09/08/2011 9:51 pm  

Greetings DarkPoet

"DarkPoet" wrote:
sorry, I may have missed soemthing, is there a link to AC reading this?

There are some recordings of AC reading the following pieces :

1. Call of the First/Ethyer [Enochian]
2. The Call of the First/Ethyr [English]
3. The Call of the Second/Ethyr [Enochian]
4. The Call of the Second/Ethyr [English]
5. La Gitana
6. The Pentagram
7. One Sovereign for Women
8. The Poet
9. At Sea
10. Fingemails
11. The Titanic
12. Hymn to the American People on the Anniversary of Their...
13. Excerpts from the Gnostic Mass

You can find these recordings -along with one of someone singing "Vive la France", in an audio CD titled "1910-1914 Black Magick Recordings".

Or, you can listen to "La Gitana" here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_uJvSRL8bGA

Regards
Hecate


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 Anonymous
Joined: 51 years ago
Posts: 0
11/08/2011 3:50 am  

This is perhaps my favourite, also recited by him on the CD. Sublime and Romantic, and Mystical, the end is, for me, an unexpected burst of Magick and casts the whole into the realm which sets Crowley's work apart from similar sentiments by his peers.

At Sea

As night hath stars, more rare than ships
In ocean, faint from pole to pole,
So all the wonder of her lips
Hints her innavigable soul.

Such lights she gives as guide my bark;
But I am swallowed in the swell
Of her heart's ocean, sagely dark,
That holds my heaven and holds my hell.

In her I live, a mote minute
Dancing a moment in the sun:
In her I die, a sterile shoot
Of nightshade in oblivion.

In her my self dissolves, a grain
Of salt cast careless in the sea;
My passion purifies my pain
To peace past personality.

Love of my life, God grant the years
Confirm the chrism - rose to rood!
Anointing loves, asperging tears
In sanctifying solitude!

Man is so infinitely small
In all these stars, determinate.
Maker and moulder of them all,
Man is so infinitely great!


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 Anonymous
Joined: 51 years ago
Posts: 0
11/08/2011 6:30 pm  

I had in mind to write a few words about "La Gitana" and how AC seems to perceive the sexual passion. I remembered that I read somewhere that AC watched a gypsy dance in Spain, and I looked for this incident in his "Confessions".

I think the following passage is an exellent comment by itself:

“Coke and I arranged to see the dancing of the gypsies who lived in the caves outside the city, and I made a somewhat elaborate study of the subject. The principal dances are the tango, which is quite different to that with which we have become familiar; the fandango, the civilla gitana; the soleario gitana, the cachusa gitana, the morongo, the sirrillas, the baile de la flor, the baile de la bosca and the baile de la bona.

It is a mistake to say, brutally, as science is inclined to do, that all dancing symbolized passion. I am always annoyed with research that stops half way. That is the great error of Freud. When he says, quite correctly, that dreams are phantasms of suppressed sexual desire, the question remains, of what is sexual desire the phantasm? To me it seems no more than one of the ways of expressing the formula of creation. I regard chemical action as identical. A man and a woman unite; and the result is a child, which is totally different from them though formed of their elements. Just so the combination of hydrogen and chlorine produces hydrochloric acid. They are gases; at ordinary temperature it is a liquid. None of its chemical and physical reactions is identical with those of its elements. The phenomena are analogous in very many ways, but the essence of their similarity is in the Cabbalistic formula Yod, Hé, Vau.

I have successfully eliminated the danger of obsession by sexual ideas in this way: I refuse to admit that it is the fundamental truth. Science in failing to follow me so far has destroyed the idea of religion and the claim of mankind to be essentially different from other mammalia. The demonstration of anthropologists that all religious rites are celebrations of the reproductive energy of nature is irrefutable; but I, accepting this, can still maintain that these rites are wholly spiritual. Their form is only sexual because the phenomena of reproduction are the most universally understood and pungently appreciated of all. I believe that when this position is generally accepted, mankind will be able to go back with a good conscience to ceremonial worship. I have myself constructed numerous ceremonies where it is frankly admitted that religious enthusiasm is primarily sexual in character.

I have merely refused to stop there. I have insisted that sexual excitement is merely a degraded form of divine ecstasy. I have thus harnessed the wild horses of human passion to the chariot of the Spiritual Sun. I have given these horses wings that mankind may no longer travel painfully upon the earth, shaken by every irregularity of the surface, but course at a large through the boundless ether. This is not merely a matter of actual ceremonies; I insist that in private life men should not admit their passions to be an end, {554} indulging them and so degrading themselves to the level of the other animals, or suppressing them and creating neuroses. I insist that every thought, word and deed should be consciously devoted to the service of the great work. "Whatsoever ye do, whether ye eat or drink, do all to the glory of God."

One night in Granada I met one of these gypsies. The setting was supremely romantic. The burden of his life fell from the shoulders of the poet. I experienced that spontaneous and irresistible stroke of love which only exists when the beauty of the human form and the beauty of the rest of nature are harmonized automatically. It was one of those experiences which come even to the most romantic poets, and to them only too few times in a decade. Fuller always maintained that the lyric in which I celebrated that night was the greatest that had ever been written of its kind. I can do no less than ask public opinion to examine his judgment.”

("The Confessions of Aleister Crowley" chapter 61)


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 Anonymous
Joined: 51 years ago
Posts: 0
15/08/2011 7:25 am  

Greetings!

"obscuruspaintus" wrote:
The Rose and the Cross

Out of the seething cauldron of my woes,
Where sweets and salt and bitterness I flung;
Where charmed music gathered from my tongue,
And where I chained strange archipelagoes
Of fallen stars; where fiery passion flows
A curious bitumen; where among
The glowing medley moved the tune unsung
Of perfect love: thence grew the Mystic Rose.

Its myriad petals of divided light;
Its leaves of the most radiant emerald;
Its heart of fire like rubies. At the sight
I lifted up my heart to God and called:
How shall I pluck this dream of my desire?
And lo! there shaped itself the Cross of Fire!

The poem "The Rose and the Cross", appears in the 1917 collection ‘The Oxford Book of English Mystical Verse’.

The following information about the symbol of the rosy cross is found in the relevant article of the Encyclopedia Thelemica:

“It has several meanings, depending on the source. Some modern Rosicrucians claim that the rosy cross pre-dates Christianity, where "the cross represents the human body and the rose represents the individual's unfolding consciousness.". It has also been suggested that the rose represents silence while the cross signifies "salvation, to which the Society of the Rose-Cross devoted itself by teaching mankind the love of God and the beauty of brotherhood, with all that they implied."
However, in general, it is a symbol of the human process of reproduction elevated to the spiritual: "The fundamental symbols of the Rosicrucians were the rose and the cross; the rose female and the cross male, both universal phallic [...] As generation is the key to material existence, it is natural that the Rosicrucians should adopt as its characteristic symbols those exemplifying the reproductive processes. As regeneration is the key to spiritual existence, they therefore founded their symbolism upon the rose and the cross, which typify the redemption of man through the union of his lower temporal nature with his higher eternal nature." (Hall, 1928, p.141)
It is further a symbol of the Philosopher's Stone, the ultimate product of the alchemist.”

and

“The symbol of the rosy cross played a substantial role within the system of Thelema as developed by Aleister Crowley. In a cosmological context, the rose is Nuit, the infinitely expanded goddess of the night sky, and the cross is Hadit, the ultimately contracted atomic point. For Crowley, it was the job of the adept to identify with the appropriate symbol so to experience the mystical conjunction of opposites, which leads to attainment. In this sense, the rose cross is a grand symbol of the Great Work:
The Tau and the circle together make one form of the Rosy Cross, the uniting of subject and object which is the Great Work, and which is symbolized sometimes as this cross and circle, sometimes as the Lingam-Yoni, sometimes as the Ankh or Crux Ansata, sometimes by the Spire and Nave of a church or temple, and sometimes as a marriage feast, mystic marriage, spiritual marriage, "chymical nuptials," and in a hundred other ways. Whatever the form chosen, it is the symbol of the Great Work. (Magick, Book 4)
Crowley also makes clear that this process is reflected in the sexual act as well:
So we need not be surprised if the Unity of Subject and Object in Consciousness which is Samadhi, the uniting of the Bride and the Lamb which is Heaven, the uniting of the Magus and the god which is Evocation, the uniting of the Man and his Holy Guardian Angel which is the seal upon the work of the Adeptus Minor, is symbolized by the geometrical unity of the circle and the square, the arithmetical unity of the 5 and the 6, and (for more universality of comprehension) the uniting of the Lingam and the Yoni, the Cross and the Rose. For as in earth-life the sexual ecstasy is the loss of self in the Beloved, the creation of a third consciousness transcending its parents, which is again reflected into matter as a child; so, immeasurably higher, upon the Plane of Spirit, Subject and Object join to disappear, leaving a transcendent unity. This third is ecstasy and death; as below, so above. (Equinox I:4, "The Big Stick")
The rosy cross is further symbolic of the grade of Adeptus Minor in the A.'.A.'., the Qabalistic sphere of Tiphareth on the Tree of Life, the magical formula INRI, and the concepts of Light (LVX) and Life (see: De Lege Libellum).”

For some reason, when read the poem I was intrigued by the phrases:

1. “…where I chained strange archipelagoes of fallen stars”. And
2.“How shall I pluck this dream of my desire?”

Trying to understand them a bit better, I came up with the following thoughts:

1. It seems that the first part of the poem presents a rather turbulent emotional state that seeks to be expressed and relieved. Since “every man and every woman is a star” and, as I see it, the term “fallen stars” implies the divine origin of the incarnated human beings, I’d say that these words refer to all these men and women that one attaches to during one’s life –and the attachment itself is a cause of pain. On the other hand, it can very well refer to Nuit herself, since AC thought that the rose stands for Nuit – only that, in this case, it is difficult to see any relevance between the chained stars and the woes.

2. The poem seems to suggest a formula for the alchemical transformation of the human passions (and, accordingly, all the lower vibrations) through the balanced manifestation of Love (or Love and Will, if you like) within the four points of the horizon –here we could add all the relevant correspondences of the elements etc. However the points of the horizon are valid only for the inhabitants of the earth and the cross itself is a symbol of manifestation. It seems then that this image completes the circle by bringing us back to the first image, the one of the cauldron, which now appears to be the alchemical cauldron of the earth itself where all this transformation takes place.

What do you think?

Regards
Hecate


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obscurus
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Posts: 315
01/07/2012 3:24 am  

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

Hecate, what a suprise to find this post! I don't know how I missed it?...and its been nearly year.
I just came across this and found it interesting [ftp=ftp://ia700504.us.archive.org/16/items/shortpoetry_003_librivox/rose_and_the_cross_crowley_ya.mp3] http://ia700504.us.archive.org/16/items/shortpoetry_003_librivox/rose_and_the_cross_crowley_ya.mp3 [/ftp]
It is nice to hear someone else read it for a change instead of the same old echoing in my head.
Your post above, is exceptional by the way. I will spend some time with it.

Love is the law, love under will.


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obscurus
(@obscuruspaintus)
Member
Joined: 10 years ago
Posts: 315
02/07/2012 12:46 am  

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

Blast this computer! or better yet blast my computer illiteracy!
[flash=200,200:38o78tdf] http://ia700504.us.archive.org/16/items/shortpoetry_003_librivox/rose_and_the_cross_crowley_ya.mp3[/flash:38o78tdf]
Did I get it right?

Love is the law, love under will.


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 Anonymous
Joined: 51 years ago
Posts: 0
04/07/2012 9:23 am  

Greetings obscuruspaintus!

Thanks for your kind words. Perhaps AC wasn't the greatest poet ever, but I  never really loved poetry until I read his work and felt the pulse of his enthusiasm. 

It would be nice to continue this thread and share some of our own deeper interpretations of his poems. As all other arts, poetry (namely its symbolism energized by the poet's enthusiasm) has the potential to unlock some doors to our subconscious and AC was an expert in symbolism; so I think it would be very interesting to explore the effects of his poetry and formulate a clear thought out of what is usually received as an intuitive knowledge.

I'd say that every effort to bring a subconscious movement to surface and verbalize it -even if it seems to be very raw and naive - and realize its connections to everything else, offers the necessary material to build the structure of our conscious knowledge.

Regards
Hecate


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obscurus
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Posts: 315
04/07/2012 11:06 pm  

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

I agree. It would be nice to see this thread revive instead of languishing so. While I hardly find myself capable of making intelligent commentary on poetry, I do see a certain rythmn to placement of words. I struggle greatly with some to extract their meanings, while others shed their light within my mind immediately. The Rose and The Cross being such, which I pm'ed you about. On first reading it, it felt like a familiar old friend. Others I must re-read over and over many times...even then I sometimes feel that I come no-where near drawing forth all their nectar. That is where the value of a thread like this becomes evident to me. By reading others thoughts and opinions, doorways are opened up in my own mind. After all, we can never view anything exactly the same?

I would submit the following, as I'm having a devil of a time with it.

Hymn to Lucifer

Ware, nor of good nor ill, what aim hath act?
Without its climax, death, what savour hath
Life? an impeccable machine, exact
He paces an inane and pointless path
To glut brute appetites, his sole content
How tedious were he fit to comprehend
Himself! More, this our noble element
Of fire in nature, love in spirit, unkenned
Life hath no spring, no axle, and no end.

His body a bloody-ruby radiant
With noble passion, sun-souled Lucifer
Swept through the dawn colossal, swift aslant
On Eden's imbecile perimeter.
He blessed nonentity with every curse
And spiced with sorrow the dull soul of sense,
Breathed life into the sterile universe,
With Love and Knowledge drove out innocence
The Key of Joy is disobedience.

Aleister Crowley

My best wishes to you Hecate.

Love is the law, love under will.


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Los
 Los
(@los)
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05/07/2012 12:24 am  
"obscuruspaintus" wrote:
Hymn to Lucifer

Ware, nor of good nor ill, what aim hath act?
Without its climax, death, what savour hath
Life? an impeccable machine, exact
He paces an inane and pointless path
To glut brute appetites, his sole content
How tedious were he fit to comprehend
Himself! More, this our noble element
Of fire in nature, love in spirit, unkenned
Life hath no spring, no axle, and no end.

His body a bloody-ruby radiant
With noble passion, sun-souled Lucifer
Swept through the dawn colossal, swift aslant
On Eden's imbecile perimeter.
He blessed nonentity with every curse
And spiced with sorrow the dull soul of sense,
Breathed life into the sterile universe,
With Love and Knowledge drove out innocence
The Key of Joy is disobedience.

The basic sense of this poem is that existence would be intolerable without the "Knowledge of Good and Evil" provided by Lucifer in the Adam and Eve myth. Lucifer was responsible for "spic[ing] with sorrow the dull soul of sense" -- that is, by making human beings aware of misery and suffering, Lucifer actually gave existence the "spice" that makes it worth living. There's a chapter in Liber Aleph that makes a very similar point, and prehaps I'll dig it out later if I feel up to it.

The last line and its invocation of "disobedience" is an obvious reference to the first line of Paradise Lost ("Of man's first disobedience..."), Milton's great epic about the Judeo-Christian myth. Crowley turns the myth on its head and regards the serpent as not the enemy of man but his greatest friend, bringing the gift of the knowledge of good and evil -- regarded as a curse by some but also as the greatest boon by others, "ye shall be as gods" and all that.

The parallels to Thelemic cosmogeny (i.e. the veiling of the True Self in the illusion of duality for the purpose of experience) should be obvious.

Also, I've always admired the steep enjambment in this poem between lines 2 and 3, which actually enacts the sudden descent of death ("death,' of course, being one of the "evils" ushered in by the "fall" and also another term for the fall itself).


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Los
 Los
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Posts: 2195
05/07/2012 12:27 am  

From Magick in Theory and Practice, Chapter 21 (a footnote):

"This serpent, SATAN, is not the enemy of Man, but He who made Gods of our race, knowing Good and Evil; He bade "Know Thyself!" and taught Initiation. He is "the Devil" of the Book of Thoth, and His emblem is BAPHOMET, the Androgyne who is the hieroglyph of arcane perfection. The number of His Atu is XV, which is Yod He, the Monogram of the Eternal, the Father one with the Mother, the Virgin Seed one with all-containing Space. He is therefore Life, and Love. But moreover his letter is Ayin, the Eye; he is Light, and his Zodiacal image is Capricornus, that leaping goat whose attribute is Liberty."

This all supports what I'm saying about Crowley deliberately inverting the Judeo-Christian myth (or, rather, reinterpreting it in a manner favorable to the Serpent). I'll be back with the Aleph reference later.


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Los
 Los
(@los)
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05/07/2012 5:24 am  
"Los" wrote:
I'll be back with the Aleph reference later.

As promised, this is the relevant chapter from Liber Aleph (emphasis added):

DE COMEDIA UNIVERSA, QUAE DICTUR PAN.

"So, therefore, o my Son, count thyself happy when thou understandest all these Things, being one of those Beings (or By-comings) whom we call Philosophers. All is a never ending Play of Love wherein our Lady Nuit and her Lord Hadit rejoice; and every Part of the Play is Play. All pain is but sharp Sauce to the Dish of Pleasure; for it is the Nature of the Universe that hath devised this everlasting Banquet of Joy. And he that knoweth not this is necessary as an Ingredient even as thou art; wouldst thou change all and spoil the Dish? Art thou the Master-Cook? Yea, for thy Palate is become fine with thy great Dalliance with the Food of Experience; therefore thou art one of them that rejoice. Also it is thy Nature as it is mine, o my Son, to will that all Men share our Mirth and Jollity; wherefore have I proclaimed my Law to Man, and thou continuest in that Work of Joyance."

Note that although the word "spice" does not occur here, that is clearly what is intended by "sharp Sauce" (or it's at least a very, very similar metaphor).

In both "Hymn to Lucifer" and this chapter of Liber Aleph, "pain" -- and we can broaded this to include suffering and sorrow of all kinds -- is regarded not as "evil," as it is in Judeo-Christian tradition, but as a "spice" that gives life its extra "kick." In the Garden of Eden myth, mankind originally lived without knowledge of Good and Evil, a kind of existence Crowley presents in the poem as sterile, as lacking any sort of excitement, purpose, or meaning ("Eden's imbecile perimeter"). After all, if there is no suffering -- and no knowledge of suffering -- what could anything mean at all? ("[A]Ware, nor of good nor ill, what aim hath act?")

For instance, accomplishments only mean something because of the ("evil") idea of failure. Learning things only has meaning in relation to the ("evil") idea of being uneducated and stupid. Joy only has meaning in relation to sorrow. And so on and so forth.

Adam and Eve, lacking the knowledge of good and evil -- lacking the idea that some things could be "bad" -- lived in a sterile universe  where they served as the cherubic, naked gardeners of a pointless universe that existed only to feed the egotism of a megalomanical "god" who wanted everyone to "worship" him.

Lucifer (literally, "Light-bringer") is properly understood -- in the initiated understanding of the myth -- as co-creator with "God." God laid out bare existence, but Lucifer gave it meaning by giving mankind the (perhaps dubious) blessing of sorrow, of a "fall" into reality.

There's a tradition in Christianity, by the way, called "Felix Culpa," the "fortunate fall." This is the idea that it's ultimately a good thing that mankind fell in the Garden because it necessitated the greater good of the redemption via Christ. [This, incidentally, is partially what James Joyce is punning on when he calls the main character of Finnegans Wake a "Phoenix Culprit!" for his crime in the appropriately-named Phoenix Park]

Crowley's reinterpretation of the myth is a different way of reading the fortunate fall: it's a good thing that man fell from the Garden because it necessitated the possibilities of experience. And here's where the Garden of Eden myth links up to Thelema, something I hinted at above and which I will now expound a bit further: Thelema postulates that the Individual (the True Self, the Khabs) is an essential part of the universe (united with Nuit), such that it would be impossible for the Individual to have any experience at all. The only way that an Individual can have experience is if Nuit creates *the illusion* of separateness...and with it, the attending "sorrows" of separate existence (good and evil and all the opposites).

Thus, the Individual (Khabs) suffers a "fall" from that pure state into the world of self-consciousness (the Khu, the veil with which the Khabs is wrapped). The descent of the Individual into consciousness -- which creates a sensation of opposites (self and other, good and evil, etc.) -- is analogous to the "fall from the Garden" in the Christian myth. It's a great boon (for it allows experience), but it's also something that can be perceived as a "curse," as the source of suffering.

Hence, in the Hymn, Lucifer "blessed nonentity with every curse": the paradox is deliberate. The Individual can only become an "entity" by being "cursed" with self-consciousness and a sense of separateness.

Interestingly, Crowley describes attainment in terms of *reclaiming* the Innocence of the Edenic, Prelapsarian state:

"We must understand, first of all, that the root of Moral Responsibility, on which man stupidly prides himself as distinguishing him from the other animals, is Restriction, which is the Word of Sin. Indeed, there is truth in the Hebrew fable, that the knowledge of Good and Evil brings forth Death. To regain Innocence is to regain Eden. We must learn to live without the murderous consciousness that every breath we draw swells the sails which bear our frail vessels to the Port of the Grave. We must cast out Fear by Love; seeing that every Act is an Orgasm, their total issue cannot be but Birth." -- The Book of Thoth

Seen from the perspective of the Initiate, consciousness -- though it is a great boon given by Lucifer that enables experience -- is also that which must be tamed. Its errors of perception -- for example, thinking that "evil" and "good"...that is, "moral responsibility" and "restriction," above...are actually real -- must be corrected.

What Crowley is recommending here is that the Initiate *reclaim* Innocence...but a *higher* Innocence, one that is capable of seeing good and evil but understanding them as *illusion* (and here, the works of William Blake are quite relevant. You can read one study of one of Blake's poems about the relationship of Innocence and Experience from a Thelemic perspective -- a study authored by yours truly -- here: http://thelema-and-skepticism.blogspot.com/2011/11/william-blakes-book-of-thel.html )


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 Anonymous
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05/07/2012 8:17 am  

Post deleted by moderator.


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amadan-De
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05/07/2012 11:06 am  

So ACs Hymn to Lucifer revisits Keats' Ode on Melancholy (third verse esp.) with a dash of sulphur and a male personification then?

Whose translation of Ovid AOTAOT? Doubt I'm up to reading him in the original though I did in High School (Metamorphoses).


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Los
 Los
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05/07/2012 5:11 pm  
"ApeOfTheApeOfThot" wrote:
Look I'm a poet.

I'll bet. You're not, by any chance, the guy who used to post incoherent scat-like poems to the BeastBay forums eleven years ago, are you? That'd be a blast from the past.


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Los
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05/07/2012 5:34 pm  

With regards to Keats, “Ode to Melancholy” certainly also addresses the intertwined nature of joy and sorrow, but I would say that one of the key differences in terms of the poems’ meanings is that while Crowley presents sorrow as a necessary – and from a certain point of view, blessed – condition of existence, Keats figures Melancholy as an aspect of joy truly accessible to those who can fully “feast” on life

It should be noted that while Crowley figures pain as a “spice,” Keats employs a much more extensive – and sensual – vocabulary of food: he urges his reader to “glut thy sorrow”…”feed deep, deep upon her peerless eyes” [gotta love the wordplay there, by the way…”peerless eyes”…get it?] the “bee-mouth sips” and “burst Joy’s grape.”

Keats’ poem does not bother with attempting to explain existence in a metaphysical way, which Crowley’s does. Also, the more sensual, richer, and fuller language of Keats’ poem serves to enwrap and entrance the reader in ways that Crowley’s cannot.

This, by the way, is one particular example of why Crowley is regarded as a lesser poet at best: his poem is too heady, too much about the *ideas* of pain and joy and existence. And while I think Hymn to Lucifer is marvelous for what it does with the myth and for how nicely it expresses Crowley’s ideas in a poetic package, the poem simply cannot compete with the richness of the poetry of someone like Keats. We get the sense that “Ode to Melancholy” is not spoken by someone trying to get a “bird’s eye view” of joy and sorrow and explain their origin: it is spoken by someone “on the ground,” as it were, trying to articulate the aching union of joy and pain, and especially the pain that lies inside joy.

The speaker wants to devour life in all of its joy and sorrow. Just listen to these final lines (and you have to read them out loud to hear the magic of these words):

Ay, in the very temple of Delight
Veil'd Melancholy has her sovran shrine
Though seen of none save him whose strenuous tongue
Can burst Joy's grape against his palate fine;
His soul shall taste the sadness of her might,
And be among her cloudy trophies hung.

There’s something positively magical in those sounds and images, something that Crowley’s poetry aspires to but cannot quite capture.


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obscurus
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06/07/2012 7:04 pm  

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

While I cannot remember exactly when I read Hymn to Lucifer the first time, I do remember the first time I read it. I did grasp the basic idea of it but what I enjoyed most was the sensation it brought forth. How certain words and parts of lines flashed pictures across my minds eye, "His body a bloody-ruby radiant", "sun-souled Lucifer","Eden's imbicile perimeter" and "an inane and pointless path". The images and colors swirled around inside my mind like a whirlwind only briefly interrupted by the odd or unusual word. It is in that first reading that I gained the most. It was in the going back, to analyze it the troubles started. I compare it to holding a beautiful piece of pottery in the hands, feeling it, seeing the smooth shiney surface, experiencing it in that pure initial moment and then letting it slip to the floor and shattering in pieces. The dissected and analyzed poem is like the collected pieces of pottery which have been glued back together, it's all there, but it is not quite the same. Most all poetry has that effect on me. It is something which is almost indescribable...perhaps transcendental would be a better word? Reading a poem for the first time is like the losing/taking of virginity, it can only happen once and then you know what it becones. I will now go back to rolling the boulder back up the hill only to have it slip away once I reach the top. The Key of Joy is disobediance. Thank you Lucifer.

Love is the law, love under will.


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amadan-De
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06/07/2012 11:22 pm  

Very nice post Los.

Only comment is;

"Los" wrote:
Crowley presents sorrow as a necessary – and from a certain point of view, blessed – condition of existence, (while) Keats figures Melancholy as an aspect of joy truly accessible to those who can fully “feast” on life

I think I do see a full "feast" on life as a "necessary" condition of existence 🙂

All good.


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obscurus
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19/07/2012 1:27 am  

nevermind


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William Thirteen
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19/07/2012 7:17 am  

One of my current faves by AC, short and punchy:

'She Refuses My Arab Coffee'

He wanted to make coffee for the cat.
She wouldn't drink it. He went out and _ _ _ _


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