Sacred texts  Thelema 

The Cry of the 18th Aethyr,
Which is Called ZEN
1

A Voice comes before any vision: Accursed are they who enter herein if they have nails, for they shall be pierced therewith; or if they have thorns, for they shall be crowned withal; or if they have whips, for with whips they shall be scourged: or if they bear wine, for their wine shall be turned to bitterness; or if they have a spear, for with a spear shall they be pierced unto the heart. And the nails are desires, of which there are three; the desire of light, the desire of life, the desire of love2.

(And the thorns are thoughts, and the whips are regrets, and the wine is ease, or perhaps unsteadiness, especially in ecstasy, and the spear is attachment.)

And now there dawns the scene of the Crucifixion; but the Crucified One is an enormous bat, and for the two thieves are two little children. It is night, and the night is full of hideous things and howlings3.

And an angel cometh forth, and saith: Be wary, for if thou change so much as the style of a letter, the holy word is blasphemed4. But enter into the mountain of the Caverns, for that this (how much more then that Calvary which mocks it, as his ape mocks Thoth?) is but the empty shell of the mystery of ZEN. Verily, I say unto thee, many are the adepts that have looked upon the back parts of my father, and cried, "our eyes fail before the glory of thy countenance5."

And with that he gives the sign of the rending of the veil, and tears down the vision. And behold! whirling columns of fiery light, seventy- two6. Upon them is supported a mountain of pure crystal. The mountain is a cone, the angle of the apex being sixty degrees7. And within the crystal is a pyramid of ruby8, like unto the Great Pyramid of Gizeh.

I am entered in by the little door thereof, and I am come into the chamber of the king, which is fashioned like unto the vault of the adepts, or rather it is fitting to say that the vault of the adepts is a vile imitation of it. For there are four sides to the chamber, which with the roof and the floor and the chamber itself makes seven9. So also is the pastos seven10, for that which is within is like unto that which is without. And there is no furniture, and there are no symbols.

Light streams from every side upon the pastos. This light is that blue of Horus which we know, but being refined it is brilliance. For the light of Horus only appears blue because of the imperfection of our eyes11. But though the light pours from the pastos, yet the pastos remains perfectly dark, so that it is invisible. It hath no form: only, at a certain point in the chamber, the light is beaten back12.

I lie prostate upon the ground before this mystery. Its splendour is impossible to describe. I can only say that its splendour is so great that my heart stops with the terror and the wonder and the rapture of it13. I am almost mad. A million insane images chase each other through my brain...14 A voice comes: (it is my own voice -- I did not know it). "When thou shalt know me, O thou empty God, my little flame shall utterly expire in thy great N.O.X.15" There is no answer16. ... (20 minutes. O.V.) ...

And now, after so long a while, the Angel17 lifts me and takes me from the room18, and sets me in a little chamber19 where is another Angel like a fair youth in shining garments, who makes me partake of the sacraments; bread, that is labour; and fire, that is wit; and a rose, that is sin; and wine, that is death20. And all about us is a great company of angels in many-coloured robes, rose and spring-green, and sky-blue, and pale gold, and silver, and lilac, solemnly chanting without words. It is music wonderful beyond all that can be thought.

And now we go out of the chamber; on the right is a pylon, and the right figure is Isis, and the left figure Nephthys, and they are folding their wings over, and supporting Ra21.

I wanted to go back to the King's Chamber22. The Angel pushed me away, saying: "Thou shalt see these visions from afar off, but thou shalt not partake of them save in the manner prescribed. For if thou change so much as the style of a letter, the holy word is blasphemed.23"

And this is the manner prescribed:

Let there be a room furnished as for the ritual of passing through Tuat24. And let the aspirant be clad in the robes of, and let him bear the insignia of his grade. And at the least he shall be a neophyte25.

Three days and three nights shall he have been in the tomb, vigilant and fasting, for he shall sleep no longer than three hours at any one time, and he shall drink pure water, and eat little sweet cakes consecrated unto the moon, and fruits, and the eggs of the duck, or of the goose, or of the plover. And he shall be shut in, so that no man may break in upon his meditation. But in the last twelve hours he shall neither eat nor sleep.

Then shall he break his fast, eating rich food, and drinking sweet wines, and wines that foam26; and he shall banish the elements and the planets and the signs and the sephiroth27; and then shall he take the holy table that he hath made for his altar; and he shall take the call of the Aethyr of which he will partake, which he hath written in the angelic character, or in the character of the holy alphabet that is revealed in Pop, upon a fair sheet of virgin vellum; and therewith shall he conjure the Aethyr, chanting the call. And in the lamp that is hung above the altar shall he burn the call that he hath written28.

Then shall he kneel29 before the holy table, and it shall be given him to partake of the mystery of the Aethyr.

And concerning the ink with which he shall write; for the first Aethyr let it be gold, for the second scarlet, for the third violet, for the fourth emerald, for the fifth silver, for the sixth sapphire, for the seventh orange, for the eighth indigo, for the ninth gray, for the tenth black, for the eleventh maroon, for the twelfth russet, for the thirteenth green-gray, for the fourteenth amber, for the fifteenth olive, for the sixteenth pale blue, for the seventeenth crimson, for the eighteenth bright yellow, for the nineteenth crimson adorned with silver, for the twentieth mauve, for the twenty-first pale green, for the twenty-second rose-madder, for the twenty-third violet cobalt, for the twenty-fourth beetle-brown, blue-brown colour, for the twenty-fifth a cold dark gray, for the twenty- sixth white flecked with red, blue, and yellow; the edges of the letters shall be green, for the twenty-seventh angry clouds of ruddy brown, for the twenty-eighth indigo, for the twenty-ninth bluish-green, for the thirtieth mixed colours30.

This shall be the form to be used by him who would partake of the mystery of any Aethyr. And let him not change so much as the style of a letter, lest the holy word be blasphemed.

And let him beware, after he hath been permitted to partake of this mystery, that he await the completion of the 91st hour of his retirement, before he open the door of the place of his retirement; lest he contaminate his glory with uncleanness, and lest they that behold him be smitten by his glory unto death31.

For this is a holy mystery, and he that did first attain to reveal the alphabet thereof32, perceived not one ten-thousandth part of the fringe that is upon its vesture.

Come away! for the clouds are gathered together, and the Aire heaveth like the womb of a woman in travail. Come away! lest he loose the lightnings from his hand, and unleash his hounds of thunder. Come away! For the voice of the Aethyr is accomplished. Come away! For the seal of His loving-kindness is made sure. And let there be praise and blessing unspeakable unto him that sitteth upon the Holy Throne, for he casteth down mercies as a spendthrift that scattereth gold. And he hath shut up judgment and hidden it away as a miser that hoardeth coins of little worth33.

All this while the Angel hath been pushing me backwards, and now he is turned into a golden cross with a rose at its heart, and that is the red cross wherein is set the golden shewstone.

Bou-Sada.
December 1, 1909. 2:30 - 4:10 p.m.


  1. ZEN = {Leo} {Virgo} {Scorpio} = {HEB:Tet}{HEB:Yod}{HEB:Nun} = 69. 69 = {HEB:Samekh} {HEB:Vau} {HEB:Bet} {HEB:Aleph}, a manger, stable, enclosure. This Aethyr describes the Place of the Preliminary Ceremony of the Initiation of the Master of the Temple. The Candidate is fortified for the Ordeal of Intimate Communion with his Holy Guardian Angel, who comes upon him unaware, and prepares him interiorly below any normal sphere of consciousness.
  2. The Exempt Adept must be freed from all attachment.
  3. The aspirant is reminded by this vision of the horror which is always ready to take the place of a True Magical Operation. Coruptio optimi pessima.
  4. This warning is given directly.
  5. It is repeated in detail.
  6. The number of the letters of Shemhamphorash, the "Divided Name", i.e., Tetragrammaton in detail. Also, 72 = {HEB:Bet}{HEB:Ayin}, the "Secret Nature" of Atziluth, the Archetypal World of Pure Reality.
  7. The cone is a figure of Iacchus, Lord of the Highest Ecstasy. It is the Phallus. Its mathematical implications are many and important. In particular, its relations with the Great Pyramid of Cheops yield remarkable correspondences.
  8. {GRK:pi}{GRK:upsilon}{GRK:rho}{GRK:alpha}{GRK:mu}{GRK:iota}{GRK:sigma}= 831
  9. Similarly, the Hexagram is attributed to the Seven Planets; for the Centre contains {Sun}.
  10. Compare this whole geometrical symbolism with that given in the Ritual of Adeptus Minor.
  11. Compare, in external nature, the appearance of the blue sky.
  12. This very strange phenomenon is perhaps quite inadequately described. It is a general condition of most Spiritual Experience that the familiar laws of Nature do not obtain in their accustomed forms. It is only when Experience enables one to observe them with detachment that they are seen to be as uniform, simple and exact as those of normal physics.
  13. Compare with this unlighted, light-radiating Pastos, the Boundless Cube in the Vision of Pure Love: "In the morning I woke early, before 7, in an absolutely renewed physical condition. I had the clean fresh feeling of a healthy boyhood, and was alert and active as a kitten --- post talem mortem! Mentally, I woke into Pure Love. This was symbolized as a cube* of blue-white light like a diamond of the best quality. It was lucid, translucent, self-luminous, and yet not radiating forth. I suppose because there was nothing else in the Cosmos." *. I say "a cube", yet its most salient property was that it was without boundaries. Experience of similar trances is necessary for the understanding of this statement, which is a perfectly proper expression of a a perfectly observed fact, despite its intellectual self-contradiction. This withdrawal from sense of the Pastos, which is the Inmost and most sacred Self of the Aspirant, is the surrender of "all that he has and all that he is" on entering the Abyss.
  14. There is a fleeting Image of the Horror of the Abyss, as a mountaineer, leaping a Bergschrund, obtains a momentary glimpse of the Terrors beneath his airy Path. Cf. 10th Aire for these images of madness.
  15. This quotation is from Liber VII I, v. 40. (This Book describes in detail the whole Attainment of the Grade of Magister Templi. It had been given to the Seer, years previously; but he had not understood it, even with his Neshamah, as a coherent entity. Nor does he even yet (An XXI, {Sun} in {Cancer}) understand it with his Rauch. Incidentally the full meaning of this Book 418, as a connected account of his Initiation, is only now becoming clear to him in the process of writing this Commentary upon it. For N.O.X., see Note above, 20th Aire. Observe that although the Exempt Adept, or the Babe of the Abyss, is completely baffled by the circumstances, and in no wise understands the situation, his Chiah, the Magician in him, acts with sublime confidence and correctness.
  16. The quotation, accepting annihilation, instantly destroys the myriad of insane images which hastened to occupy the vacuum created by the leap of the Exempt Adept into the Abyss. Had he faltered, he would have become --- against his will --- a "Black Brother". But this being involuntary, he would not have attempted to maintain his coherence, as the Black Brothers do. He would therefore, have been destroyed at once; that is, to outward appearance he would have become a demented babbler. Spiritists present this phenomenon, on a much lower plane, and in a diluted form; though, with them as with the average Theosophist, there is usually a certain degree of obsession by pet phantoms --- a "Chinese Guide," or "Koot Hoomi," or what not --- to lend a species of semi-organized structure to the legions of disconnected ideas that throng their disintegrated gray matter.
  17. (No Angel has been mentioned. The Seer was lost to being.) In this preliminary --- and so to say, symbolic --- crossing of the Abyss, His Holy Guardian Angel comes to the rescue of the Aspirant. Contrast the unspeakable Terror of the actual Crossing, when that Angel Himself abandons the Seer (see 11th Aire, the last paragraph.) Exactly how the Angel dealt with the Seer in this 20 minutes of earthly time is impossible to say; for he has no memory soever --- nor had he even at the time --- of what took place. We may, however, deduce from the fact that the Communion took place in a sphere beyond even Neschamah. It may well have been a Quintessence of Union sufficiently intimate to have identified the Seer with his Angel so perfectly as to have given him the right to make the passage fully, in every sense; and to have ensured his safety on the way. For the Angel cometh forth from above the Abyss, and dwelleth of right in the Bosom of the Great Mother. But the Angel deals not with the little pile of dust in the City of the Pyramids, (see 14th Aethyr) but with the Star that is cast forth to give light to the Earth.
  18. This pyramid, where is the Pastos, is the Chamber of Annihilation. The Pastos contains the Essence of the Aspirant, and is in a Chamber containing the Essence of the Universe. This is all ready to be burnt up in the Energy of Aspiration to the Creative Annihilation, the Ruby Pyramid of Phallus. Finally, this Pyramid is within a Cone, a figure combining the straight line and the circle (Rose and Cross in their purest form) representing the new Universe into which the Old is to be transmuted. It is established, like all types of Universe, upon the Four Elements (divided into 72) which are the conditions of manifested Existence. (The elements are not only "material"; they include categories like "Time", "Space" and "Causality".)
  19. This is the Birth-Chamber, where the Magister Templi awakes from the Oblivion of the Abyss.
  20. These sacraments furnish him with the material of his new Life. Bread ({Spirit}) is labour, the nourishment of his being. Fire is the perception of clear understanding (Neschamah). The Rose ({Air}) is Sin, the restriction which prevents him from being dissolved in pure light (Kether) for his Oath as a Master of the Temple is to deny himself the enjoyment of that privilege, for the sake of the Love that he bears to Mankind; wherefore is that Sin fragrant with the sent of love. Finally, Wine ({Water}) is Death, the Ecstasy of transmuting all things into Joy by the Sacrament of Creative Love.
  21. Isis, Nature, and Nephthys, Perfection, preside over the Arising of the New Star. The Magister Templi is a little pyramid of dust in the City of the Pyramids (see 14th Aire) awaiting the Fire that shall burn him up to a white Ash (see 6th Aire). But the original combination of Sankharas (tendencies --- the elements of the Character of the Man) is void of the Ego. Ahamkara (the ego-making faculty) has been assimilated. The Sankharas are, however, still linked by the Karma of the Adept; for they had to be most strongly knit by him that he might be able to concentrate their whole Energies upon the Great Work of abandoning in a single gesture "all that he has and all that he is". They accordingly hold together: His Will has been accomplished, and he is free from them; but they depend upon the Elements which compose that true Will, which, since he has succeeded, can only be that Sublime Passion for Mankind, to help it to "Conquer Space, and lastly climb the walls of Time, and by the Golden Path the great have trod, Reach up to God." A phenomenon of this nature thus appears "as a morning star, or as an evening star, to give light to them that sit in darkness, and in the shadow of death". This is then the man himself, save that his separate individuality is no longer present; it is replaced by this single passion to rescue mankind.
  22. The Seer's first impulse was to proceed with the Work on which he had been engaged when the Dissolution of his Being took place.
  23. As stated in a previous Aire, these higher visions are not to be obtained by the methods applicable to less exalted spheres.
  24. See the Book of the Dead, as adopted for modern use by the Authorities of the G{..} D{..}
  25. He must be a neophyte to have access to the Ritual of Passing Through the Tuat.
  26. See Liber AL, I. v. 51. The general idea is to create true appetite in a body purified by fasting and a mind clarified by meditation, so as to make certain of being perfectly intoxicated. It should be needless to say that this state of mind, like all others, should be absolutely willed, criticized and controlled.
  27. The Aethyrs pertain to an order of nature, sui generis. Though they possess many correspondences with the 32 Paths of Wisdom, all of these must be impartially banished; otherwise the Vacuum would be disturbed by an unequilibrated symbol sympathetic with the Aire to be invoked, which would flood the circle, and prevent the Aethyr arising in its perfect plenitude.
  28. This injunction has several obvious Magical advantages. The symbolic gesture is to consume the matter of the Operation in the Spirit thereof.
  29. This is by no means a gesture of supplication, the vile attitude of the unmanly devotee of the Slave-Gods. It has as specific and positive practical purpose, which should be easy for the Neophyte to divine if his Zelator have well and wisely so instructed him.
  30. I. Gold for Horus.
    II. Scarlet for Babalon.
    III. Violet for {Mercury} House of IV. Emerald for {Venus} Love of Juggler. Virgin. V. Silver for Star A{..} A{..} VI. Sapphire for Chokmah. VII. Orange for (?) VIII. Indigo for (?) IX. Grey for Binah, fertilized. X. Black for the Abyss. XI. Maroon, for Yesod the XII. Russet for the Concealed threshold. Blood in the Cup. XIII. Green-gray for Garden of Nemo XIV. Amber for Atu VII, XV. Olive for Salome, {Water} of XVI. Pale Blue for (?) Malkuth. XVII. Crimson for {Pisces}. XVIII. Bright yellow for Holy Guardian Angel and Hegemone. XIX. Crimson-silver for XX. Mauve for Atu X. Binah and {Moon}. XXI. Pale green for (?) XXII. Rose madder for Rose of 49. XXIII. Violet Cobalt for XXIV. Beetle Brown, for {Scorpio} {Aquarius} Eagle. Love. XXV. Cold dark gray for {Capricorn} XXVI. White flecked with red, blue & yellow (edges green) for Osiris. XXVII. Angry Clouds, red brown XXVIII. Indigo for Night sky of brown for smoke of cauldron. Binah. XXIX. Blue green for {Scorpio} XXX. Miscellaneous colours for Change. original confusion of dying Aeon.
  31. This injunction is to be taken very seriously. I have known uninitiates made ill by the shock of seeing Adepts of too high "residual charge"; worse, thrown off their moral balance.
  32. Presumably Sir Edward Kelly. There is certainly no hint of the sublimity and profundity of such visions as the present series in the working of that adept.
  33. This peroration suggests that early working by its style. It has little definite thought contained in it; the sublimity of the language ill conceals its vagueness. Nevertheless, it is a fitting conclusion to the mystery of this Aire. The ritual, and its lyrical outburst, were doubtless necessary to let the seer down gently from the colossal exaltation of the central event of the Aethyr.

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