Portal:Aleister Crowley/Selected articles/Archive

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Phaistos Disk, Side A, 2nd milenium B.C. July 3, 1908 at Phaistos, Crete, by Luigi Pernier (Original)

A symbol, in its basic sense, is a representational token for a concept or quantity; i.e. an idea, object, concept, quality, etc. In more psychological and philosophical terms, all concepts are symbolic in nature and representations for these concepts are simply token artifacts that are allegorical to (but do not directly codify) a symbolic meaning.

Spoken [[Language|language, for example, consists of distinct auditory tokens for representing symbolic concepts (words),]] arranged in an order which further suggests their meaning.

Nature of symbols

A symbol can be a material object whose shape or origin is related, by nature or convention, to the thing it represents: for instance, the crucifix is the main symbol of Christianity, and the scepter is a traditional symbol of royal power.

A symbol can also be a more or less conventional image (i.e. an icon), or a detail of an image, or even a pattern or color: for example, the olive branch in heraldry represents peace, the halo is a conventional symbol of sainthood in Christian imagery, tartans are symbols of Scottish clans, and the color red is often used as a symbol for socialist movements, especially communism.

More often, a symbol is a conventional written or printed sign (specifically, a glyph), usually standing for anything other than a sound (symbols for sounds are usually called graphemes, letters, logograms, diacritics, etc.). Thus mathematical symbols such as π and + represent quantities and operations, currency symbols represent monetary units, chemical symbols represent elements, and so forth. (more...)

459px-Rose Cross Lamen svg.png

The rosy cross (also called "rose cross" and "rose croix") is a symbol largely associated with the semi-mythical Christian Rosencreutz (1378-1484 EV), alchemist and founder of the Rosicrucian Order. 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." [1]. 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." [2]

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. (more...)


A creed is a statement of belief—usually religious belief—or faith. The word derives from the Latin credo for "I believe". The creed of Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica—also known as the Gnostic Creed—is recited in the Gnostic Mass, during the Ceremony of the Introit.

The text of the Creed is as follows:

I believe in one secret and ineffable LORD; and in one Star in the Company of Stars of whose fire we are created, and to which we shall return; and in one Father of Life, Mystery of Mystery, in His name CHAOS, the sole viceregent of the Sun upon the Earth; and in one Air the nourisher of all that breathes.

And I believe in one Earth, the Mother of us all, and in one Womb wherein all men are begotten, and wherein they shall rest, Mystery of Mystery, in Her name BABALON.

And I believe in the Serpent and the Lion, Mystery of Mystery, in His name BAPHOMET.

And I believe in one Gnostic and Catholic Church of Light, Life, Love and Liberty, the Word of whose Law is THELEMA.

And I believe in the communion of Saints.

And, forasmuch as meat and drink are transmuted in us daily into spiritual substance, I believe in the Miracle of the Mass.

And I confess one Baptism of Wisdom whereby we accomplish the Miracle of Incarnation.

And I confess my life one, individual, and eternal that was, and is, and is to come.



Cover of the book "The Vision and the Voice" by Aleister Crowley. Copyright held by Ordo Templi Orientis.

"The Vision and the Voice" is an account of Aleister Crowley's travels through the thirty Enochian Aethyrs. It is considered a publication in class A and B. The work depicts with strikingly detailed descriptions the visions encountered and the messages received as Crowley worked his way through the complex Enochian system.

The first two Aethyrs or Aires were received by Perdurabo on November 14th and 17th, 1900 in Mexico. He found himself at this time unable to pass beyond the 29th Aire and abandoned the work. Crowley would later discover that the reason he was unable to advance was because he had not attained the grade of Magister Templi 8°=3°.

Crowley would not resume the work until 1909 when he traveled through the Sahara with his student Victor Neuburg, who acted as his scribe. The two walked through the desert invoking one Aethyr each day. (more...)

Front cover art for the book The Book of the Law

Liber AL vel Legis
sub figura CCXX
The Book of the Law
as delivered by XCIII=418 to DCLXVI

The religion known as Thelema was established with the writing of The Book of the Law. It was written (or received) by Aleister Crowley in Cairo, Egypt in the year 1904. It contains three chapters, each of which was written down in one hour, beginning at noon, on April 8th, 9th, and 10th. Crowley claims that the author was an entity named Aiwass, whom he later identified as his own Holy Guardian Angel. The teachings within this small book are clearly expressed in the Law of Thelema, expressed by these two phrases:

  • "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law" (AL I:40) and
  • "Love is the law, love under will" (AL I:57)


(Cover of the Thoth Tarot deck, designed by Aleister Crowley and painted by Lady Frieda Harris. Published by Samuel Weiser and U.S. Games. Copyright held by Ordo Templi Orientis.)

The Thoth Tarot, also called the Book of Thoth, is the deck of 78 tarot cards designed by Aleister Crowley and illustrated by Lady Frieda Harris. The project began in 1938 and was completed five years later in 1943, although it was not published until 1969 by the O.T.O. through the efforts of Grady McMurtry X°. The entire deck is designed to be a pictoral representation of the Qabalah and especially the Tree of Life, a system of ten spheres and 22 interconnecting paths that is used to organize mystical concepts.

History of the Thoth Tarot

Although the origin of the Tarot in general is unknown, there is a definite beginning to Crowley's beautiful and intelligent rendition of this symbol system.

In February, 1899 e.v., Crowley attained to the grade of Practicus, and was accordingly entrusted with the secret attributions of the Tarot. He continued these studies for some time and eventually published the previously secret attributions in the Book 777.

It should be noted that the Tarot was his daily companion from 1899 e.v. until 1912 e.v., at which time he published a full account of the Tarot in The Equinox, Vol. I, Nos. 7 and 8. He succeeded in uniting all philosophical and magical systems under the Form of the Holy Qabalah and eventually this made its way into the Thoth Tarot. (more...)

Boleskine House

Boleskine House (boll-ESS-kin) was the estate of Aleister Crowley from 1899 to 1913. It is located on the South-Eastern shore of Loch Ness in Scotland. It was built in the late 18th century by Archibald Fraser.

Crowley purchased the home in order to perform the operation found in The Book of the Sacred Magick of Abra-Melin the Mage (see Abramelin Operation). In order to perform it, Crowley (1989) says,

One must have a house where proper precautions against disturbance can be taken; this being arranged, there is really nothing to do but to aspire with increasing fervor and concentration, for six months, towards the obtaining of the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel. In Confessions (Ch. 22), he continues:

The first essential is a house in a more or less secluded situation. There should be a door opening to the north from the room of which you make your oratory. Outside this door, you construct a terrace covered with fine river sand. This ends in a "lodge" where the spirits may congregate. Crowley eventually sold the manor in order to fund the publication of The Equinox, Vol. III. However, he later alleged that the funds were stolen by the Grand Treasurer General of the Order, George MacNie Cowie. (The extensive mortgaging of the house by that time may in fact have left little funds to steal.)

For a short time in the 1970s, Boleskine was owned by famed Led Zeppelin guitarist, Jimmy Page.

(Aphrodite, Eros and Pan, c. 100 BC, Delos, Marble c. 130 cm, National Museum Athens, Greece, Inv.3335. Inscription: “Dionysios, son of Zeno, son of Theodoros of Berytus, benefactor, [dedicates this] on behalf of himself and of his children to the ancest)

Pan (Greek Παν, genitive Πανος) is the Greek god who watches over shepherds and their flocks. He has the hindquarters, legs, and horns of a goat, in the same manner as a satyr, and is one of the deities within the archetype of the Horned God. His parentage is unclear; in some legends he is the son of Zeus and in some he is the son of Hermes. His mother is said to be a nymph. His nature and name (Pan means "All") is alluring, in many ways he seems to be identical to Protogonos/Phanes.

The Homeric hymn to Pan describes him as delighting all the gods, and thus getting his name. Accounts of Pan's genealogy are so varied that it must lie buried deep in mythic time. Like other nature spirits, Pan appears to be older than the Olympians, if it is true that he gave Artemis her hunting dogs and taught the secret of prophecy to Apollo.

Pan was originally an Arcadian god, and Arcadia was always the principal seat of his worship. Arcadia was a district of primitive mountain folk, whom other Greeks disdained, as the Olympians patronized Pan. Arcadian hunters used to scourge the statue of the god if they had been disappointed in the chase (Theocritus vii. 107)

Pan inspired sudden fear in lonely places, Panic fear (panikon deima). (more...)


History is taken and broken down into a series of Aeons, each with its own dominant concept of divinity and its own "formula" of redemption and advancement. According to Aleister Crowley, the last three Aeons have been (1) the Aeon of Isis, (2) the Aeon of Osiris, and (3) the current Aeon of Horus which began in 1904.

The three Aeons

The first Aeon of Isis was maternal, where the female aspect of the Godhead was revered due to a mostly matriarchal society and the idea that "Mother Earth" nourished, clothed and housed man. It was characterized by pagan worship of the Mother and Nature. Crowley describes this period as "simple, quiet, easy, and pleasant; the material ignores the spiritual" (Equinox of the Gods).

The Classical/Medieval Aeon of Osiris is considered to be dominated by the Paternal Principle and the formula of the Dying God. This Aeon was characterized by that of self-sacrifice and submission to the Father God. Crowley says of this Aeon:

Formula of Osiris, whose word is IAO; so that men worshiped Man, thinking him subject to Death, and his victory dependent upon Resurrection. Even so conceived they of the Sun as slain and reborn with every day, and every year. (Heart of the Master) (more...)
Portrait of John Dee. Sixteenth Century, artist unknown. Original in Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, UK. According to Charlotte Fell Smith, this portrait was painted when Dee was 67. It belonged to his grandson Rowland Dee and later to Elias Ashmole, who left it to Oxford University.

Johannes (John) Dee (July 13, 1527 - 1608 or 1609) was a noted British mathematician, astronomer, astrologer, geographer, and consultant to Queen Elizabeth I of England. He also devoted much of his life to alchemy, divination, and Hermetic philosophy.

Dee straddled the worlds of science and magick. One of the most learned men of his time, he had lectured to crowded halls at the University of Paris when still in his early twenties. He was an ardent promoter of mathematics, a respected astronomer and a leading expert in navigation, having trained many of those who would conduct England's voyages of discovery. At the same time, he immersed himself deeply in Christian angel-magic and Hermetic philosophy, devoting the last third of his life almost exclusively to these pursuits. For Dee, as with many of his contemporaries, these activities were not contradictory, but particular aspects of a consistent world-view. (more...)