Initiation is the beginning of something. Thelemic initiation begins a cycle of consciousness change. The cycle begins with initiation and it is completed with the end of the ordeal. Thelemic ordeals are put in motion by the initiations. We create the ordeals ourselves through our inept efforts to cope with the energies released by the initiations. If not focussed under will, the psychic energies freed up by the awakening go to create all sorts of unexpected, and usually unwanted, effects. These effects distort the free flow of the energies we have just liberated in the initiation. If we can recognise the energy blocks, or misunderstandings, that we have unconsciously created, we can direct the energies of the newly awakened consciousness so that they flow within the psyche in a healthful way. Each of us creates his or her own universe. We can and must consciously and volitionally choose what we create in the world and what we call to ourselves from the world. Ordeals complete the shifts in consciousness that initiations begin. Ordeals cause what would otherwise be a temporary change of consciousness to become an integral part of the incarnation.
The Initiation of the King is signalled by a glimmer of the vision of the universe as a single thing, the Vision of the Universal Peacock 1 (Atmadarshana). There is something more going on here than what we perceive as physical reality. Although not physical, it is very real. This new realm of consciousness is unrecognisable, at first, but with familiarity we become adept at taking the lower astral plane into account when making choices.
For me, the Initiation X exploded my world in what is sometimes called the Vision of the Clear Light, or Nirvikalpa samadhi. ‘Vision’ of the Clear Light is a misnomer, for, when the light becomes clear, there is no one there to see it. There is no self and there is no not-self, just pure being. The revelation came to a friend while she was walking down the street. All the pieces fit together for her in an awsomely beautiful realisation of what the universe really is. This was Atmadarshana or self-realisation. In both cases, the implications of the experience were life altering. Previously accepted ways of looking at the world became meaningless. When we shift our own perspective, the whole world seems to change before us.
I know that dozens, perhaps hundreds, of men and women of my generation experienced similar visions and revelations which changed the direction of their lives. There are many true initiates in the world who do not identify with Thelema or the Book of the Law. It doesn’t matter. Real initiations are retained from lifetime to lifetime. The ordeals that actuate those initiations are won through again in each new lifetime. Slaves don’t know it and dogs don’t do it.
Initiation of the Aeon
The word ‘ordeal’ appears ten times in Liber Al vel Legis. The word ‘initiate’ appears only once, and then as a participle.
Abrogate are all rituals, all ordeals, all
words and signs. Ra-Hoor-Khuit hath
taken his seat in the East at the Equinox
of the Gods; and let Asar be with Isa,
who also are one. But they are not of
me. Let Asar be the adorant, Isa the
sufferer; Hoor in his secret name and
splendour is the Lord initiating.
The Next Step for human kind is announced in this verse. Ra-Hoor-Khuit, Ra Horus of the Horizon, is the sun-god of Ancient Egypt. He is symbolised by the falcon who sees beyond the earthly horizons of birth and death. Asar, or Asuar, was called Osiris by the Greeks. Asar (Osiris) was risen from the dead by Horus in the ancient Egyptian myth. El-Asar-us, or Lazarus, was said to have been risen from the dead by Jesus in the Christian corruption of the ancient myth. The Arabic Isa (عيسى) is the English Jesus, the Roman Iesus, the Greek Iesous (Ιησους) whose Hebrew name is Joshua (יהשוה). Asar and Isa are both types of the Dying God.
The secret name of Hoor (Horus) is 359 2 . Jesus and Osiris are both symbols of incarnation. In this initiation, the worshipper/god boundary is overcome. The initiate realises that he or she is Jesus, for the initiate is an incarnation. As long as the worshipper and the god are separate there is division. When the worshipper and the god are one, the worshipper is whole again for the god is no longer disowned. The perspective of the initiate is within the consciousness of phenomenal manifestation, not above it or otherwise separate from it. Although this Initiation of the Aeon is an important and profound step, it is not in itself the Initiation of the King.
Initiation of the King
The Initiation of the King is initiation to the Grade Zelator of the Traditional Order. It is the shift of perspective from face-in-the-mud materialism (avidya) to a reflection on existence. This may seem simple, but it is our fundamental view of the entirety of existence that gets broken and subsequently needs to be repaired or replaced. Sorting out everything is a pretty big deal. There is much symbolism in the Tree of Life that shows this initiation and its ordeal. Please see the next chapter, The Ordeal X, for some of the qabalah.
As incarnations, the only thing we can take with us to subsequent lifetimes is initiation, but we need to work through the ordeals again each time we manifest in the world. The initiations are granted to the incarnation by his or her own Holy Guardian Angel. The ordeals train the incarnation to serve the Angel. The Angel leads us to part the veil, to awaken on new levels of consciousness. We can choose to remain aware at the new level or not choose and go back to sleep.
Initiation itself feels like an influx of consciousness, like a cool wind blowing through one’s mind. Although there is new information in the influx, none of it makes objective sense. The mind has no language for it. There are no images, feelings or thought patterns applicable to it. Only the consequent ordeal can teach us to be objectively aware of the meaning and significance of the initiation. The ordeals force us to use our initiated consciousness to meet the challenges we evoke in our lives. The Ordeal X causes us to wake up to the magick we are already doing, but had not taken seriously.
Since the Initiation of the King is the first major Thelemic initiation, the aspirant has no conscious experience of previous cycles of initiation and ordeal. Thus the Neophyte is blind 3 to the Initiation of the King and the Ordeal X. To some extent, we can predict the Ordeal R, which follows explicit contact with the Angel, or at least have some idea of what we are to learn from it. As we associate our own experiences with the periodic table of spiritual elements known as qabalistic Tree of Life, we get a clearer picture of where we are and where we are going. The Neophyte could have only an intellectual grasp of qabalah. Like the Book of the Law, qabalah is meaningful only to the extent that it’s personal. As we populate the schema of the Tree of Life with our own attributions, it becomes more useful and more valuable to us.
Thelemic initiations are personal and intimate. They are not promotions of status within a social club. Initiations cannot be conferred upon one incarnation by another, transferred, bought, sold or inherited through bloodlines or ideological sympathies. There is no genetic predisposition to initiation. Pale or purple, Nuit desires us all 4 . Hadit is at the core of every star 5 , irrespective of external manifestation.
All that is required of the incarnation is a need to know and understand the truth, for the initiations are simply the unveilings in consciousness of the truth of things. The ordeals are not any form of hazing or test. They are just the training of a beast of the earth, a human animal. The trainer is the Holy Guardian Angel, the Eternal Self. The human is trained to be a competent servant to the Angel through the cycles of initiation and ordeal. The payoff for the human is the deep joy of sharing consciousness with the Angel. One might say that the Angel is one’s own Christ, but It is not a “symbol of incarnation” as is Jesus. Rather, the Angel is a representative of the life force of the Sun, of the star within us, the consciousness that, seeing beyond the horizon, transcends incarnations.
When we shift our point of view inward to Yesod, we reflect on the world from a new perspective. When the ego, which separates us from all otherness, is understood not to be identical with the True Self we can begin to act in accord with the law: Do What Thou Wilt.
1 The full-on Atmadarshana is granted to the Master of the Temple whose perspective is at the sephira named Binah (ToL), attributed to Saturn. The path Tav, the direct path the Neophyte transits to achieve the perspective of the Zelator, is also attributed to Saturn. In the Initiation of the King, the rigidity and gravitas of Tav, which is also attributed to Earth, is seen to be illusion. It is as if the ground has shifted under our feet and we are compelled to re-assess our assumptions about reality. From the perspective of the Neophyte, Saturn is dark, heavy, cold and forbidding. It appears as restriction, oppression and sorrow. From the perspective of the Magister Templi, Saturn is the sweetest imaginable haven, for it supports and permits all of existence. Without the limitations of Saturn, nothing would have the slightest substance, there would be no appearance of reality at all.
2 One of many places where Aleister Crowley alluded to the secret name of Horus is in his comment on 220,3:74, the penultimate verse of the Book of the Law.
There is a splendour in my name hidden and glorious, as the sun of midnight is ever the son.
Perhaps refers to the addition of the name to 418.
359 + 418 = 777. The son is 777. The secret name, 359, portrays spirit (Shin) expressed through procreation (Tet) and the transformations of death and birth summed up in the Hebrew letter Nun. Ra-Hoor-Khuit’s secret name is also expressed in Crowley’s qabalistical formula LAShTAL. LA (death – nothingness) and AL (birth – being) are the horizons of human existence. The sun of midnight is Kephra the scarab dung beetle who pushes the sun-god Ra-Hoor-Khuit out of the earth at dawn. Ra-Hoor-Khuit, or Ré Horakty whose name means Ra Horus of the Horizon, is symbolised by the sharp-eyed falcon who, soaring high in the sky, sees beyond the horizons of the earthbound. Kephra is a very ancient symbol of resurrection. The son 777 is simply the reincarnation of the parent, who is the previous incarnation. Each incarnation is the spiritual child of its previous lifetime in the world, bringing with it its inherited initiations. 418 is the house or earthly physical body and its nested spiritual bodies, the ka and the khu. 359 is the star, Eternal Self or Holy Guardian Angel, which indwells the khu. Thus 777 is not just any reincarnation but a spiritually initiated one, a sun hidden in the earth, the physical resurrection of an immortal star.
The ordeals thou shalt oversee thyself, save only
the blind ones. Refuse none, but thou
shalt know & destroy the traitors. I am
Ra-Hoor-Khuit; and I am powerful to protect
my servant. – 220,3:42.
The two ordeals at either end of the ladder of initiation are blind. The Neophyte sees only the world but wishes to see beneath the surface of things. From an initiated perspective the Neophyte is a fool. The Ordeal X helps the aspirant to learn to see. The Ipsissimus sees spiritual truth at the very core of consciousness but loses touch with the world. From the perspective of the material plane, the Ipsissimus is a complete dolt during the ordeal. The Ordeal A causes the Ipsissimus to experience every detail of every ordeal in one, rather than sequentially. We must somehow, not only balance spiritual and material consciousness, but integrate them. The initiations establish links between the outer and inner awareness. The ordeals exercise those links making them strong and sinewy.
The traitors are destroyed because they do not implement the technology of practical immortality. When they die from their physical lives, their kas, their ghosts or shadows, languish on the lower astral plane until they eventually dissipate. In life the traitor identified with the limited life of his physical body, and the spirit double of the body (ka), instead of with the khu and the star within. An initiate would strive to identify with his or her khu, the spirit body that is house to the star, and, eventually, with the khabs itself. A high initiate is a beacon and an exemplar. He or she need only deflect the traitors for them to self-destruct. They have not worshipped the life within and without. The sun-god Ra-Hoor-Khuit symbolises life and the energy of life. He protects his servants by giving them life again and again in every incarnation. He destroys traitors because they reject this most ancient God of Life, choosing instead to worship reflections of themselves: their own projections of disowned gods.
Note that agency resides with the human being not with the god, who is only a symbol of the life force. The traitors betray themselves by refusing to have contact with what they regard as the Devil, the cloven hoofed Pan Pangenitor, the unlimited exuberance of nature. Their destruction is their choice, however uninformed. Aleister Crowley defined Osirian religion as “a Freudian phantasy fashioned of man’s dread of death and ignorance of nature.” (Magick in Theory and Practice, Chapter 5)
Pale or purple, veiled or voluptuous, I
who am all pleasure and purple,
and drunkenness of the innermost sense,
desire you. Put on the wings, and arouse
the coiled splendour within you: come unto me!
I am the flame that burns in every heart of
man, and in the core of every star.