Astron Argon

Thelema’s First True Schism?


I adore thee in the song:—

I am the Lord of Thebes, and I
The inspired forth-speaker of Mentu;
For me unveils the veilèd sky,
The self-slain Ankh-af-na-khonsu
Whose words are truth. I invoke, I greet
Thy presence, O Ra-Hoor-Khuit!
Unity uttermost showed!
I adore the might of Thy breath,
Supreme and terrible God,
Who makest the gods and death
To tremble before Thee—
I, I adore thee!
Appear on the throne of Ra!
Open the ways of the Khu!
Lighten the ways of the Ka!
The ways of the Khabs run through
To stir me or still me!
Aum! let it fill me!

To All

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

Has Thelema finally approached its first schism?  Certainly, a controversy is brewing.  The Caliphate has publicly announced an edit to Liber AL in their next publication of the holy book; the ultimate taboo in our doctrine.  And why should we care?  After all, Bill Breeze and his Caliphate no longer even represent a majority of Thelemites in the world today.  But they do control the publishing of Thelemic texts and any alteration to the text of AL would affect all future generations.  It is said that in order to have power over something, you must be able to destroy it.  This power, when it comes to the Book of the Law, Bill Breeze has.  As the Caliphate bases its authority on a 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision in the United States, we know full well, that they lack any spiritual authority.  And so we read their first announcement from their Caliph.

News from International Headquarters
April 10, 2013 e.v.


I had one of those rare real-world material/spiritual experiences last year. I had sent out final proofs on The Holy Books, and a few weeks later the advance shipment of a large consignment of books from South Africa arrived. I knew it included a frighteningly rare Crowley title of great importance—the one-volume edition of Thelema (1909), i.e., The Holy Books, printed on actual sheepskin vellum (not Japon vellum, a type of paper favored by Crowley) and bound in Morocco by Zaehnsdorf. I had good reason to think it might be the very copy that appears on the altar in the famous “Magician” photo of Crowley, as I knew that A.C. had inscribed the book, almost certainly to Windram on his departure for South Africa after his 1913 visit to London, so it had without question been Crowley’s copy before 1913.

I was not, however, quite prepared for what arrived: the book includes several early comments on verses of Liber Legis (a few of which are important), as well as a very important text correction to Liber CCXX III:37 which resolves a longstanding textual difference between three sources: (1) the versification of the Stèle of Revealing from a now-lost vellum notebook, which was published with the reading “kill me!” in The Equinox I(7) (1912) and The Equinox of the Gods (1936); (2) a quotation (“fill me!”) given in a pencil note to Liber XXXI, the MS. of Liber AL, giving directions for the extent of the quotation to be inserted from a contemporary vellum notebook; and (3) the editions of Liber Legis published by Crowley, all of which gave “fill me!”. In this copy Crowley’s marginal holograph note clearly corrects “fill me!” to “kill me!” in the text of Liber CCXX.

Below are photographs of the book’s binding and the page with the correction to Liber Legis. These photos are just quick snapshots taken before rushing the book into safe deposit—I don’t care to have such valuable Order property around on an ongoing basis.

That this particular book—with corrections!—should arrive in that brief period when The Holy Books were being proofed was amazing, though not entirely unsurprising to me. I believe the Secret Chiefs are paying attention to our work and can arrange such things—if I didn’t believe that, I wouldn’t be editing The Holy Books in the first place!

Editor Note: Why didn’t the Secret Chiefs get it right the first time? And how come it took them more than 100 years to get it right? Or is the Caliph speaking to a superstitious community; so dumbed-down that they think this is how revelation evolves (one word at a time in some linear manner!)? And amazingly enough, this was the whole of the explanation originally published by the Caliph.

From this evolved the following petition against the alteration of Liber AL vel Legis in the next Caliphate publication:

I believe it was Nietzsche who said something to the effect: ‘philosophers who use long and arduously wordy sentences to make their points aren’t really making any point at all.’ And so we find the Caliph’s wordy explanation…

(and shown below in this editorial)

There is no place in Egyptian Magick for a pharaoh to request a god to kill him; that being a more obvious fact beyond Breeze’s sophistic rhetoric.  And we as Thelemites are not celebrating a religion of crucifixion, but of resurrection.  Breeze is arguing for crucifixion; Christist that he is!  Of course, with the alteration of the Holy Days of Thelema from their ‘true’ date (April 1,2 & 3) to  the current 8th, 9th & 10th that most lineages practice must have had the same Califate logic.

cf. Holy Conundrum!

AL:II.27 “There is great danger in me; for who doth not understand these runes shall make a great miss. He shall fall down into the pit called Because, and there he shall perish with the dogs of Reason.”

AL:II.28 “Now a curse upon Because and his kin!”
AL:II.29 “May Because be accursed for ever!”
AL:II.30 “If Will stops and cries Why, invoking Because, then Will stops & does nought.”
AL:II.31 “If Power asks why, then is Power weakness.”
AL:II.32 “Also reason is a lie; for there is a factor infinite & unknown; & all their words are skew-wise.”
AL:II.33 “Enough of Because! Be he damned for a dog!”

We see here the danger of a central authority in Thelema.
[mundane] Power corrupts and absolute [mundane] power corrupts absolutely.
Down with the Calif and all slave masters!

But continuing, James Wasserman (who betrayed Motta and admittedly perjured himself in the trial that led to the Court of Appeals decision), a major power broker in the Caliphate weighs in on the issue:

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

Someone asked me yesterday about the fill/kill issue on Facebook. Someone else belligerently mischaracterized the matter as an attempt by OTO to alter Liber 31. Here are some thoughts that are solely my own opinions.

Editor Note: … “belligerently”…? Really!? Is it that anyone who disagrees with these guys could only be a combatant against the truth…or the O.T.O….or Wasserman or the Caliph; personally? Why not present evidence?…or it is just that what Wasserman is referring to is the electronic petition that has emerged with the movement behind it? But it is apparent that both Wasserman and the Caliph are misdirecting the facts by spinning the counterclaims against their heretical assertion. Liber 31 is the manuscript copy and the page in question follows:

The handwritten manuscript clearly shows that word to be fill!!! And clearly note the injunction against changing so much as the style of a letter. That Wasserman’s next claim; that they are only changing the typed manuscript (Liber 220 and not Liber 31) is an unmitigated misdirection of the truth. Even in typing email and quoting Liber AL, in the typing of our mantra: Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law, the rules of grammer are deferred to honor the injunction. And in this specific case, it seems more the Secret Chiefs went out of their way to put “fill” in the verse. Need there be more said?

First, what the OHO and A.’.A.’. have agreed upon is that the text of Liber 220, the typeset text of the Book of the Law, should be corrected based on Crowley’s personalized copy of Liber 220 recently received after a century in South Africa.

Liber 220 varies considerably from Liber 31, the manuscript of the handwritten dictation. For example, in Liber 31, chapter 1, the verse numbers were added later in pencil. There are other changes, like page 6, verse 26 (in pen), and page 19, verse 60 (in Rose’s hand). Chapter 3, page 20, verse 72 is another example. These are mysteries. The quotes from the versification of the text of the Stele referred to in chapter 3, page 10, verses 37 and 38 also adds material, in pen and pencil, that was not “real time.”

There is plenty of evidence provided recently by the OHO that Crowley used “kill” rather than “fill” quite often. We know “kill” was used in his original versification of the Stele.

Thus the question becomes what is Class A and what is not? What is the Prophet’s instruction and what is not? My understanding is that the OHO has interpreted the Prophet’s corrected copy of Liber 220 that mysteriously appeared from the Windram family as a message from the Secret Chiefs regarding our Tradition.

In the Center of the Fire describes the return of the manuscript of Liber 31 in 1984 and uses the Tibetan Buddhist word “Terma” for hidden scriptures that magically resurface when needed by the community. The manifestation of such scriptures demonstrates the continuing guidance of the Masters or Secret Chiefs in a living Tradition.

This is what we believe has happened here with the donation of Crowley’s personal copy of Liber 220. It is complicated. I mentioned earlier that I initially found this very troubling as many people have opined since it was publicly announced. When I did my recent signing at Catland Bookstore, I had not intended to give a talk, intending instead to “mingle” with the folks who came. But I became aware of the Caliph’s first public post that morning, and instead, talked extemporaneously for some 40 minutes on the nature of spiritual challenge after a lifetime following a spiritual Path. How the fact that everything I believed could be rocked so thoroughly was a joyous realization that I was very much alive and the Law of Thelema was not some dogma into which I had comfortably settled like a warm bath.

I also explained that the key to my acceptance of this change resides in my awareness that there is a true Hierarchy. As one quite comfortable with ambiguity and duality, I am aware that the reappearance of the Prophet’s copy of Liber 220 could easily have been a “test,” a blind.

“Here is the Prophet’s copy. He changed the Class A text. Are you going to do it?” And we do and fail the ordeal.

Or, “Here is the Prophet’s copy. Do you have the courage to ‘Obey my prophet’ and correct the text of 220 issued by the Order henceforth?” And we do and pass the ordeal.

You know what I also understood? It was not my problem. Should the Caliph and the Praemonstrator be in agreement that it was the latter, my question was simply did I accept the Hierarchy to which I have pledged myself or not. After a month of contemplation, I did.

Sometimes life is simpler than it appears. What we really need to do is publish a full size reproduction in perfect color of Liber 31. Inshallah, this shall happen and help clarify these matters even further.

For those Thelemites who are not members of OTO or A.’.A.’., there has been as much evidence presented as we have to date to provide a basis for your own contemplation.

Editor Note: Wasserman takes Breeze’s initial appeal to superstition and expands on the theme.  He develops the false notion that changing one word has created a penultimate mystical experience, which could be no further from the truth.  Rather, we should see the fulfillment, yet again, of the prophecy in our holy book, Liber Trigrammaton, of which we append the following selected verses with our commentary:


- -

The dash is the Black Brother; he seeks to rule the world; to generate order in Assiah.

By putting the astral body of the dual-natured Ruach, into the Abyss (indicated by the broken dash taking the place of the line of the firmament in the previous trigram) as in the Christian mystery with the bodily assumption to Heaven, the key to the working of the Tree-of-Life is confused. Therefore, they present the perversion of the MT formula; they are Qliphotic and blind forces that would bring the ego into the Abyss and find the false crown.

Against him the Brothers of the Left-hand Path, confusing the symbols. They concealed their horror [in this symbol]; for in truth they were

 [‘J’ Like soft G.]

- -


This is an inversion that hides the light of the stars, as if trapped in matter; this being also an illusion. And we can deduce from this an allegory of the Night of Pan. The “Brothers” (plural) being the “Master” (which we can deduce from the stature of the Master), must be One. This is perhaps, why it is said that there is no Black Lodge, from which we can infer that they ultimately are destroyed and absorbed into the body of the “Master.”


- -

But the Enemy confused them. They pretended to conceal that Light that they might betray it, and profane it.

[‘Z’ An irritated or excited form of ‘S,’ emphasizing elements of anger and alarm.]

The top dash of the previous trigram is now broken, as if representing the light perspiring upwards. This gives one the impression of being “white and glistening.” The buster upper pole represents the macrocosm, which is the starry fabric of the body of Nuit; per seventh trigram. The lower line is that imperfection and stain; per the second trigram.

This should not be interpreted as representing a Manichaean analogy; the Black Brothers serve despite their will. Yet, shown here is a basic deception of the Black Brotherhood. The cloud formed of this deceptive confusion is represented by the unbroken (male) dash. Being opaque, it refracts the light. If we see Jehovah as the Demiurge, Joseph’s coat of many colors comes to mind. In history, the Orthodox priesthood shunned the esoteric side of the revelation; hence a reference to the Templars.



Now did the Horror of Time pervert all things, hiding the Purity with a loathsome thing, a thing unnameable.

[‘F’ Compound of ‘P’ and ‘H’]

That which is “unnameable” would be Hadit. Cf. AL:II.4.[4] In its loathsomeness, it may then be as the “caress of Hell’s own worm” as found in AL:II.62 or the ‘blind creature of slime.’ With the transition back to the present tense, time may be seen as the source of “Now;” deriding ‘Because,’ which more directly involves consideration of the past and the future.


- -

Yea, and there arose sensualists upon the firmament, as a foul stain of storm upon the sky.

[‘S’ Defiance, warning, etc.]

The sensualists are dualists, indicated by the unbroken dash. It is the center line that was the firmament in the ninth trigram. The storm here refers back to the cloud, discussed in my comment, above. But here, on a lower level, it is not the Black Brotherhood, but its dupes. Returning to the past tense, and for the remainder of this holy book, a “storm upon the sky” seems an indication of the lightening flash that created life. It’s as if life is a simultaneous creation of past, and present. Prophecy added into this, includes then, all three tenses brought into the manifested moment called ‘Now.’


- -


And the Black Brothers raised their heads; yea, they unveiled themselves without shame or fear.

[‘M’ The Will to Die.]

The Black Brothers stand between the star (asterisk) and the sky (broken dash). These dupes; false prophets, comprise a false lodge that really doesn’t exist. They pose as intermediaries between the above and below in a denigration of human dignity.

With Pluto traversing Capricorn these past several years (and with more than several to come!), we have seen in the world, a great many institutions collapsing in terms of their moral authority. Rallies against the FED and the emergent corporatocracy is but a part of the moral collapse of all temporal authority. This is the nature of Pluto in the realm of this particular earth-sign. And the Caliphate having made their bed in the temporal universe have shown that they also intend to sleep in it.

We close, as indicated above, with Bill Breeze further sophistic explanations for his great perpetration.

Love is the law, love under will.



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

The reading “fill me” in Liber Legis III:37 has long been known to conflict with the text it was meant to quote, i.e., Crowley’s Paraphrase of the hieroglyphs of the Stèle of Revealing, which has the reading “kill me.”

Our best source for what happened during the writing of this section of Liber Legis

is chapter 7 of The Equinox of the Gods (a section written in 1921, published 1936):

“Verse 35 states simply that section one of this chapter is completed.

“I seem to have become enthusiastic, for there is a kind of interlude reported by Aiwaz of my song of adoration translated from the Stèle; the incident parallels that of chapter I, verse 26, etc.

“It is to be noted that the translations from the Stèle in verses 37–38 were no more than instantaneous thoughts to be inserted afterwards.

“Verse 38 begins with my address to the God in the first sentence, while in the second is his reply to me. He then refers to the hieroglyphs of the Stèle, and bids me quote my paraphrases. This order was given by a species of wordless gesture, not visible or audible, but sensible in some occult manner.”

The last two sentences are the key to understanding what happened, in my opinion. The operative words are “order” and “quote.” It does not explain the discrepancy in his pencilled aide memoire note in the MS. of Liber AL

From Crowley’s conversations recorded in 1924 by Norman Mudd, we know that a typescript was prepared in Cairo, and that three copies were made:

“Three typed copies made in Cairo. One used by publishers of Zaehnsdorf edition (Chiswick Press) previous to rediscovery of MSS. Errors in vellum books due to the fact that this typescript not properlychecked from MSS.”

(Crowley, Conversations with Norman Mudd, quoted in the Preface to The Holy Books of Thelema (1983), p. xiii; the full conversations were published, slightly abridged, as Norman Mudd, “Conversations with Crowley,” The Magical Link I(10) Feb./March 1988, p. 89.)

In this quotation, “vellum books” refer to the three volume issue of Thelema (1909)—the few copies bound in one volume have the same textual problems.

There is good evidence that Crowley was not the typist, and that he hired someone in Cairo. While no copy of the original Cairo typescript is known to have survived, the typesetting in Thelema (1909) was based on this typescript, and it has misreadings that were the result of someone having trouble reading Crowley’s handwriting. For example, it has “unalterable” for “unutterable in I:58, “triumph” for “trample” in II:24 and “Before!” for “Beware!” in III:2. Crowley would not have misread these words in his own handwriting.

Exactly how the “fill” reading in the quotation from the separate paraphrase got into III:37 in the Cairo typescript is not known. It is safe to assume that both the vellum notebook with the Paraphrase and the MS. of Liber Legis were on hand when the Cairo typescript was made. Perhaps the typist turned from typing the MS. to the vellum notebook to insert the Paraphrase from the vellum book, and then on returning to the MS, saw the “fill” reading in Crowley’s pencil note, and assumed “fill” was the intended reading. This would not likely have been caught since, as Crowley told Mudd, the typescript was never proofread. It is unlikely that we will ever know precisely what happened.

By 1907 Crowley had his Cairo typescript of Liber Legis with what I once thought was the cover page to the MS. of Liber Legis , but now (based on its physical size, provenance and timing factors) believe to be the original cover page to his copy of the Cairo typescript (this was first published in Liber ABA, Magick, p. xl). Crowley had Liber Legis typeset for a planned appendix to vol. 3 of h is Collected Works in 1907 (the appendix never appeared, though vol. 3 did). These proofs, dated September 24, 1907 in what may be Crowley’s hand, are uncorrected except for a few markings of irregular column margins. J.F.C. Fuller preserved these proofs a long with the original French translation of the Stèle hieroglyphs and the Liber Legis typescript title page. The proofs have a few MS. notes in Fuller’s hand, but it is likely that these were added later (one note is datable as late as 1938 or after).

The Collected Works proofs for Liber Legis were made from the Cairo typescript—a footnote even refers to the manuscript as having been lost—and it agrees closely with the later setting for Thelema (1909). These proofs also reproduce a ritual entitled “The Great Invocation” that probably dates from the Cairo Working; its original MS. is now lost, but interestingly, it reproduces some stanzas from Crowley’s Paraphrase of the Stèle, giving the reading “kill me”—thus being an independent attestation of the original reading believed to be in the MS. of the Paraphrase in the now lost vellum notebook. The Collected Works proofs are thus the earliest evidence showing the textual discrepancy between the Paraphrase (as quoted in “The Great Invocation”) and the typescript of Liber Legis. Interestingly, Crowley seems to have been at pains to reproduce what he had at hand in 1907 of the Cairo Working textual material. That the Paraphrase of the Stèle itself is omitted in this planned appendix—where Crowley is clearly interested in reproducing his works connected with the Cairo Working—suggests that the vellum notebook containing the Paraphrase was with the MS. of Liber Legis , and unavailable in 1907. It is not like Crowley to willingly omit poetry like his Stèle Paraphrase in that sort of editorial context.

This brings us to the first publication of Liber CCXX in the first edition of the Holy Books in three volumes, Thelema. This book is undated internally, but proofs of some sections (including Liber CCXX) survive, dated October 20, 1908. These were proofread by Crowley, but it was not what is called a “copy” proofreading, comparing the source to the new setting; his few markings are concerned with bad margins and dropped punctuation at the margins, i.e., typical letterpress typesetting problems of a technical nature. We know from Crowley’s 1924 e.v. conversations recorded by Norman Mudd, quoted above, that the MS. was not used to prepare Thelema—it was still missing when Thelema was being typeset and proofed in 1908. Accordi ng to Crowley in The Equinox of the Gods (end of chap. 6), Thelema was published in 1909. There is however a diary entry from April 8, 1924 that dates Thelema to An. Ovi (spring 1910–spring 1911 e.v.), but Crowley was uncertain, writing “AL private edition ?” Almost all copies of Thelema are in three volumes in cream vellum boards. Crowley made up a few in one volume, printed on animal vellum with a gilt Morocco binding by Zaehnsdorf. This fine binder may well have taken their time with the commission for the special copies, which may mean that Crowley did not receive his personal copy of Thelema until a little later than 1909.

Crowley found the MS. of Liber Legis in his attic at Boleskine House in the summer of 1909—too late for checking Thelema, even had it occurred to him to do so. I think it likely that he found the vellum book containing the Stèle Paraphrase along with the MS, as I believe they had been kept together.

Crowley gave the MS. its first publication in a very reduced photofacsimile in The Equinox I(7) in spring 1912, along with a facsimile plate of the Stèle of Revealing and his Paraphrase of the Hieroglyphs from the Stèle of Revealing (the title of which was misspelled “Revelling”). I believe that this editorial work made him aware of the “kill”/“fill” discrepancy between the Stèle Paraphrase (“kill”) and his pencil MS. note about its insertion into Liber CCXX (“fill”). It is reasonable to assume that he would have consulted the MS. of Liber Legis as well as the original vellum notebook with the Paraphrase on such an important question. I therefore think that it is likely that Crowley made the correction to his 1909 Thelema in 1912. To summarize what I believed happened, Crowley clearly identified and studied the problem with the right source materials at hand, made a decision, and made the correction in the most official of official copies at that time. It is my opinion that, in all likelihood, he promptly forgot about the issue, and may not have given it another thought. Crowley had a remarkable ability to “get on to the next thing”—it is one of the keys to his creativity and prodigious output. But it does not make him the most meticulous caretaker of his own past output—something that is amply documented in his surviving papers.

Crowley did pay more attention to the MS. the following year with the typesetting of Liber CCXX for The Equinox I(10)—or at least, he had his editorial staff do so. This was its second typeset publication, and it appeared in the fall of 1913, probably in middle or late fall, as the issue ran late.

Crowley had two personal copies of The Equinox I(10) 1913, but these tell us very little about the handling of Liber Legis. One (now in the Yorke Collection) was the basis for the 1936 setting of The Equinox of the Gods, according to Yorke, who notes: “Alterations in the hand of A.C. for the printers in preparing The Equinox of the Gods .” Only one correction was made, to III:34 (“The tomb” > “the tomb”), and only one minor marginal annotation. The second annotated copy of The Equinox I(10) is in a private collection, and there the text of Liber CCXX shows no signs of later proofreading; there are periodic marginal copyist’s marks that suggest that it may have been used as the source copy for a later retyping or resetting.

Now, to return to the 1909 Thelema , and in particular, the Crowley Windram copy of Thelema recently given to the O.T.O. Archives by Bro. Windram’s son. This was originally Crowley’s copy in which he made his earliest notes and corrections. It was thus, at the time, the primary printed codex for the Holy Books including Liber CCXX —Crowley’s master copy, if you will.

Around the fall equinox of 1913 Crowley gave his copy of Thelema to James Thomas Windram, who was visiting London from South Africa. We know when this happened with some precision from Crowley’s manuscript inscription.

Fratri Carissime fidem servanti hunc librum d[...]
[Sol] in [Libra] An IX

This dates the gift to Sept. 23–Oct. 24, 1913; we may someday be able to trace Windram’s departure date from England to date this more precisely. The last word or words of the
inscription are cut off by termite damage—the book having been stored in rural South
Africa for over seventy years. But with that caveat, I think it says:

To the dearest brother, who holds his word [or, to the servant of faith], I give this book. N.E.M.O.

Crowley’s Thelema has fifteen marginal comments scattered throughout the book, in addition to dozens of notes to “Liber XXVII” (“Trigrammaton”)—basically his earliest versions of his English letter—attributions to its verses. All of the notes are in Crowley’s hand, and none are in Windram’s hand. Windram’s handwriting is clear and distinctive, and easily distinguishable from Crowley’s.

The Crowley Windram Thelema has the following marked corrections: Liber CCXX II:54 (“Now” > “Nor”), III:37 (“to stir me or to still me” > “to stir me or still me”), III:37 (“Aum! let it fill me!” > Aum! let it kill me!”), “Liber LXV” V:8 (“thou has prostrated” > “thou hast prostrated”) and “Liber VII” IV:3 (“even into the finger tips” > “even unto the finger tips”). Two of the three corrections to Liber CCXX were made in The Equinox I(10) (1913), and the correction to “Liber LXV” was made in The Equinox III(1) (1919). (“Liber VII” was never republished in Crowley’s lifetime, so he had no opportunity to publish that correction, which remains unpublished to this day.) One correction to Liber CCXX (the change from “fill” to “kill” in III:37) was not made in The Equinox I(10).

I proofread Liber Legis as it appears in Thelema (1909) against its appearance in The Equinox I(10) (1913), and Thelema is an editorial train wreck, with no less than seventeen wrong words, five missing words, two extra words, one word transposition and a great many capitalization changes, extra, missing or changed punctuation, wrong accents, and the consistent use of “and” wherever the MS. has an ampersand.

It seems clear that the proofreading for the 1913 setting was done by an Equinox editor, or editors, possibly with Crowley participating, using the Paraphrase as published in 1912 (possibly the actual notebook as well), and the MS. of Liber Legis. Crowley returned to London from Russia on August 30, and wrote the sub editor, Victor B. Neuburg on September 1:

“I was delayed a fortnight coming from Moscow which makes the pressure on me at the moment tremendous. No. X will have nearly 600 pp. in it as far as I can make out and I am particularly anxious to have a second eye to go over the proofs. If you could manage to come up for one day or two, if possible Wednesday, I think it would be got through. I sent you the proofs as I have to go through Liber Legis with the [holograph manuscript?] which is as you remember on a book [? big?] roll, and I am anxious to obey the injunction ‘not so much as the style of a letter.’ The final proofs I could send you, but they will not be in for a fortnight I suppose. It looks as though we were [sic] going to be a month late now.”

(Transcriptions of shorthand letter book, July and September 1913, Yorke Collection.)

Assuming that Neuburg (who had the first proofs and apparently the MS.) and Crowley met as proposed, they would have read the first proofs on September 3. But there is a telltale slip in the proofreading for II:21, where “ecstasy” was mistakenly changed to “ecstacy”, suggesting that the then editor of The Equinox , Mary Desti, may have read (or helped to read) the proofs. An American was more likely to use “ecstacy”, while Crowley’s usage was “ecstasy,” and Neuburg used “ecstasy” or “exstasy” in the MS. of

Liber 418 . Whether Crowley worked through all the proofs himself with one or more of the editors, or delegated the verse by verse comparative work, is not known. We do know that September and October of 1913 was one of the busiest months of his life, so it would not be surprising if he delegated. But he unquestionably had input as, in the first or final proofs, he added a footnote concerning his memory of a dictated word vs. the MS. reading. He probably also wrote the endnote referring readers to the MS. for doubtful words and styles.

Whoever read the first (and the later final) proofs, I think that “fill” rather than “kill” was used for III:37 on the basis of the pencil note in the MS. If one or more editors handled it, they may have used a copy of Thelema as a backup reference. This need not have been A.C.’s temple copy; his editors had their own. With Crowley emphasizing—as he did to Neuburg—that the MS. needed to be followed, any proofreader might well have defaulted to the “fill” reading in the MS., absent information to the contrary. As noted above, this procedure might account for how that particular reading got into the Cairo typescript in the first place. Speaking as an editor, it is likely that I would have done the same in the circumstances, given the same general instructions.

Later editions of Liber Legis (UK 1936, 1938, US 1942) show some variation, which is not really relevant here, except to note that no completely satisfactory edition of Liber Legis was published in Crowley’s lifetime. Some of the more beautiful editions (e.g. the 1909 Thelema and the 1938 London O.T.O. edition, which had a limited buckram issue) are the least accurate. I have used a variety of these early editions in temple work as the altar copy, and do not worry about their minor variations, as any copy stands for the “ideal” Liber Legis. Around June 1913, when first organizing O.T.O., Crowley issued a directive stipulating the use of Thelema, which by then he should have known had accuracy issues:

“In all lodges of O.’.T.’.O.’. and M.’.M.’.M.’. in Great Britain and Ireland the Volume of the Sacred Law shall be the book of Thelema, or a facsimile copy of Liber Legis (CCXX), and no initiations upon any other document will be recognized by the Grand Lodge.”

(Golden Book of the O.T.O., quoted in R.A. Gilbert, Baphomet and Son, ed. Darcy Küntz (Edmonds: Holmes, 1997), p. 9.)

As an editor of editions of Liber CCXX and The Holy Books, I feel obligated to make the “fill” to “kill” correction because it was made by the prophet himself. I cannot go against an express directive, which is how I have to view Crowley’s correction. I really do not see that I have any choice in the matter, and what I might personally think (which might surprise some of you) is irrelevant. I am filing this one under “Obey my prophet!” (AL I:32).

The implementation of Crowley’s correction rests on Crowley’s authority as prophet. It does not rely on my authority as an officer of any order, or my supposed (by some!) expertise as a Crowley editor. We are dealing with a received religious text. The author was not just its scribe and prophet, he was also its executive editor, with the final say, though he himself deferred wherever possible to the instructions of Aiwaz. This particular problem involves material of Crowley’s own composition (the Stèle Paraphrase) that he was ordered to insert into the received text. It also involves a pencilled note to himself, in the MS. of the received text, that conflicts with the text he was ordered to quote. But the correction he later made is not ambiguous, and has to be accepted as a directive from the prophet—not dismissed as some sort of aberration. I have to assume that he was doing his best to honor the “order” to “quote” his Paraphrase that he had received—which is in fact a reasonable assumption, since the surviving sources for the material to be quoted support the accuracy of his correction.

As the editor of Liber Legis, Crowley had the requisite authority, knowledge, experience and access to all the necessary primary materials to decide this matter; we do not. Or, to back up the timeline and put it more bluntly: Crowley was at the Cairo Working; we were not. He marked what he wanted clearly. Who are we to second guess him?

That the correction was made to the text’s first publication under its Class A imprimatur gives the correction the authority of Class A. In other words, his correction plainly means that there was a failure of accuracy in the 1909 Class A printing that he wanted corrected. His correction outweighs all secondary indications to the contrary, even when taken together.

A correction to a book carries a great deal more information than the change of a letter or word. It tells

you (a) that the author (or in this case, scribe prophet) wants the book changed; (b) it clearly tells you what is wrong; (c) it clearly tells you what it should be changed to. When corrections like this are made in an author’s personal copies, they have to be accepted at face value and incorporated—an editor has no right to ignore them. This is a problem familiar to any editor who works with an author’s MSS., proofs and personal annotated editions. In some countries with strong author’s rights laws, the author’s known revisions and corrections can be considered mandatory inclusions in posthumous editions.

That Crowley gave away the one copy in which he had made the correction, and failed to make the change in any of the subsequent editions in his lifetime, should not surprise us. His publications are well known among bookmen for their typographical errors, as noted by Timothy d’Arch Smith in his excellent The Books of the Beast, which quotes Crowley’s letter to Gerald Yorke: “’Proof reading is an art which I strongly recommend you not to learn; as long as there are any sewers to clean, you would be ill advised to adopt it as a profession.” Crowley published his own magnum opus, Magick in Theory and Practice, in a first edition that was missing not one or two letters or words, but literally dozens of lines of text, rendering passages in as many pages almost incomprehensible. Crowley never noticed. Had O.T.O. not spent the $40,000 or so in O.T.O. treasury money on the necessary typescripts, and done the reverse proofreading, we might today all be convinced that the 1929–30 Magick in Theory and Practice was the last word in accuracy. (As a demonstration of the power of sheer conservatism, there are those who still swear by it!)

To rely on repeated later printed editions of Liber CCXX with the “fill” reading for authority gets into the syndrome of repeated error. Crowley’s usual practice was to hand the last printing to a compositor for the next printing, so errors tend to be repeated. There aren’t that many examples, as most of his works were not often reprinted, but this clearly occurred with the Gnostic Mass. It was written in 1913, and its original typescript takes its quotations of Liber Legis from the 1909 Thelema , and it therefore has the bad reading “children of the prophet.” Despite the fact that “children” was corrected to “child” in The Equinox I(10) only six months or so after the mass was written, Crowley published it in 1918, republished it in 1919, and reissued it yet again in 1929–30, all with the mistaken reading. Crowley is known to have performed the Gnostic Mass, and I would not be at all surprised had his Deacon used the “children of the prophet” reading, and even less surprised if Crowley had not noticed. The former is likely as it had been published with that reading, and it was present in TS. as well. The latter is likely because, if Crowley had noticed, he might well have thought to correct. I think that this shows that reliance on known or inferred past ritual practice is an unreliable guide for solving textual questions.

As for later printings of the Paraphrase, Crowley just had the original 1912 type reproduced in photofacsimile for the Stèle plate and Paraphrase in The Equinox of the Gods (1936). In his errata slip, which I believe appeared with the 1937 second issue, Crowley corrected “Revelling” to “Revealing,” but did not change “kill” to “fill.” However, it should be said that “Revelling” is an obvious error in a headline, and the chances are very good that Crowley had lost the Cairo vellum book with the Paraphrase many years earlier, and had nothing to proof the poetry against. But at least in this instance we know that he actually looked at one of the problem pages in question, so it possible that he read the entire Paraphrase through and accepted the “kill me” reading again. But again, this is with the caveat that one must not put too high a premium on Crowley’s thoroughness as a proofreader.

There has been some fascinating and often learned discussion of the original Egyptian language basis for the Paraphrase, with attempts to relate its stanzas to the hieroglyphic text. The line of poetry at issue, however, is not based on the Egyptian at all. My colleague J. Daniel Gunther, a capable Egyptologist, correlated the poem to the hieroglyphs some years ago:

“Unity uttermost showed!” — A QA KUA-TU-F — “O exalted one, may he be praised”

“I adore the might of thy breath” — UR BAU — “the great one of power”

“Supreme and terrible God” — BA OA ShFYT  — “Great Spirit (Ba) of dignity”

“Who makest the gods and death To tremble before Thee” — DDU NRU-F N NThRU —

“Who puts the fear of himself among the gods”

“I, I adore thee!” — < no hieroglyphic correspondence >

“Appear on the throne of Ra!” — HA’aU HR NST-F UR — “Who shines forth upon his great seat”

<no correspondence in paraphrase>  — IR WAUT BA-I — “Make a way for my Soul (Ba)”

“Open the ways of the Khu!” — N AKh (I) — “for my Spirit (Akh or Khu)”

“Lighten the ways of the Ka!” — < no hieroglyphic correspondence >

“The ways of the Khabs run through” — N ShU(T)-(I) — “for my Shadow” (N.B.: old French transliteration erroneously had KHAB for ShUT (“shadow”)

“To stir me or still me!” — IU AaPR-KUI UBN-(I) — “So that I am equipped, that I might shine forth”

“Aum! let it kill me!” — < no hieroglyphic correspondence >

Some have questioned why the Paraphrase should read “kill me” at all, and ask: Why would Ankh-f-n-khonsu invoke his own death? A closer reading is instructive, as he is described elsewhere in the Paraphrase as the “self slain Ankh-f-n-khonsu,” giving the reading “let it kill me” a clear contextual basis in the Paraphrase.

Some members are understandably concerned about the performance of “Liber Resh vel Helios,” which has become a group practice in many areas. In Northern California, primarily due to the teachings of Phyllis Seckler and James A. Eshelman, it gradually became a common practice to append the poetry from the Paraphrase as given in Liber Legis III:37. This was not the original practice, so far as I can establish. Sister Seckler, writing in a very early issue of In the Continuum I(5) (1975), pp. 9–11, published “Liber Resh”, and appended several excerpts from other writings, beginning with the poetry from Liber Legis III:38 (“So that thy light is in me” through “The prophet Ankh-af-na-khonsu!”) and going on to quote III:37. It would seem that her early teaching in the mid 1970s recommended III:38 or III:37—they seem to be true alternatives, given the order of presentation.

The earliest source making a straightforward recommendation of the III:37 text that I have been able to trace is an article by Sister Seckler’s close colleague James A. Eshelman (writing as Frater Iacchus) in a paper titled “Comment to Liber Resh,” In the Continuum IV(4), p. 6. He was then Deputy National Grand Master of O.T.O., and writes in this capacity, at p. 8:

“From our office in O.T.O., we have no authority to do anything but recommend on this point. We pass on to you what we have received as the appropriate adoration for the early stages of Work.”

He then specifies the Liber Legis variant of the Paraphrase (with “fill me”) from AL III:37.

The original practice specification is for solitary work, directing that the student incorporate whatever additional adoration is taught by his or her A.’.A.’. instructor. The original reads:

“5. And after each of these invocations thou shalt give the sign of silence, and afterward thou shalt perform the adoration that is taught thee by thy Superior. And then do thou compose Thyself to holy meditation.”

(“Liber Resh vel Helios,” para. 5.)

I did skim through Jane Wolfe’ s MS. diaries and ritual notebooks for indications as to what, precisely, she had been taught at Cefalù on this point, as “Liber Resh” was certainly done in group Vespers etc. there. It appears that she employed the adorations from J.F.C. Fuller’s “Treasure House of Images” in her personal work, but there is no indication that I could find of what might have been used during house sessions for an addendum adoration, if indeed anything was. That said, I would not be at all surprised to find Cefalu period ritual material by disciples, or even by Crowley himself, using III:37 with the “fill me” reading from the published versions of Liber Legis in later life. All that this would show, to my mind, is that Crowley could be just as “book bound” (if that is a term) as the rest of us.

As for Agape Lodge, “Liber Resh” appears in The Oriflamme I(1) (1943), which just quotes the main text without any additional adoration or adorations being specified or recommended. Similarly, Jack Parsons’ unpublished 1945 Agape Lodge teaching lecture on rituals (his third of six in his lecture series) quotes the main text of “Liber Resh,” but without any supplements; in his brief discussion of the ritual, he does not discuss the section 5 matters appropriate to A.’.A.’. members at all. This makes sense, as he was teaching the ritual to O.T.O. members.

When Crowley taught “Liber Resh” to Grady McMurtry in letter of March 30, 1944, he wrote:

“Liber Resh gives 4 adorations (Magick pp. 425–6) with directions for facing. (Deosil is clockwise—widdershins anti-clockwise). Use at start signs of grades, 0°–III° O.T.O., and Sign of Enterer, followed by Sign of Silence, at the “Hail”—Damn it, you saw me do it.”

(“Aleister Crowley, Selected Letters to Hymenaeus Alpha,” The Magical Link IV(4), win ter 1990–91, p. 26.)

There is no mention of an additional adoration in the letter. This is perhaps not surprising, as the use of the additional adoration was taught in A.’.A.’., and Grady was a member of O.T.O. and not A.’.A.’.. It is also notable, in this regard, that Crowley has him using O.T.O. signs and not A.’.A.’. signs. A.’.A.’. teaching on this point, in my experience, has drawn on both the “fill me” version (relying on Liber Legis) and the “kill me” version (relying on the Paraphrase), as well as other material.

That said, I am not aware of any evidence that Crowley himself used III:37 as part of his daily “Liber Resh” practice. Diary of a Drug Fiend (1922) has two instances of “Liber Resh” being said (in part III, chaps. 5 and 6), and neither adds a supplemental adoration to the basic text.

I can understand how, in the Bay Area and parts northward especially (where the practice is most common and has the longest standing), the recitation of the additional quotation from III:37 with “fill me” becomes an issue with this correction to “kill me”. It may even result in peer pressure to conform to one reading or another when people do “Liber Resh” in a group. The additional adoration—that A.’.A.’. members are to learn from their private instructors—was not and is not intended for group work, so really, I suppose that this issue should not be arising. But I understand that this is a beloved social custom of long standing—I have enjoyed it myself many times, on visits, and it is undeniably lovely. Also, we have no wish to interfere with harmless local adaptations of our shared liturgy. However, I would recommend that O.T.O. groups use the Paraphrase, thus setting any question of the correct reading of Liber Legis to one side in the interests of social harmony. This allows members to keep whatever they might privately think about Liber Legis a private matter, which is as it should be, in keeping with the “each for himself” injunction in the Short Comment.

Members concerned with honoring an O.T.O. advancement form that affirms that they do not wish to make changes to Liber Legis should accept the prophet’s directive that this change should be made. You are not changing anything.

Some individuals—not many, but they deserve to be heard and to have an explanation —have petitioned me with the message “Do not change The Book of the Law.” I understand their concern, and appreciate their love for the book, and their commitment to the principle underlying revelation and all that Class A implies. I understand their distrust of spiritual “authorities” too. But paradoxically, what we are doing in implementing this correction is exactly what they ask: not changing The Book of the Law. To leave things as they were would be to acquiesce in a known change to the text that we now know was not intended by the prophet. So we are, in other words, unchanging it.

I ask that those who question this sit back and allow for this possibility: what if all prior printed editions had it wrong? What if we now have it right—and for the first time? Wouldn’t that be amazingly great?

I am confident that we do. We have authority in the holograph correction, in a very special book—a codex really, being Crowley’s own annotated temple copy—and it is a correction that resolves a well known hundred year old textual difficulty.

Future editions incorporating the change will have a note at the end of the book explaining the change. Those who reject Crowley’s correction can, of course, make an anti-correction in their copy—thus duplicating Crowley’s correction but in reverse.

In my travels I have learned to be cautious. “The Great Invocation” and the Paraphrase were both “corrected” by yours truly in Magick (Liber ABA) (1994 and later editions) to change their original readings of “kill me” to “fill me”—a woefully misguided attempt to make these non-Class A texts agree with what I had every reason to assume was the correct reading in Liber Legis. I think I originally picked up the “fill me” version by “picking up” (a term of art for cutting and pasting from another electronic document) part of the Paraphrase from Liber CCXX to save time, and failed to catch the different wording. In a later revision I decided to let it stand, and just annotated it as such, thinking that one of the readings had to be wrong, and it couldn’t be the Class A, could it? This was an object lesson for me: wait for the source material. You might have to wait a hundred years, but it may turn up.

No wonder we’re given 2,156 years to sort out the affairs of prophets.


Love is the law, love under will.

Hymenaeus Beta
Frater Superior, O.T.O.
2 May 2013 e.v.
revised 7 May 2013 e.v.


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

We herewith release additional evidential archival material that relates to the correct reading of the Stèle Paraphrase in Liber Legis III:37. “Ritual CXX, called of Passing through the Tuat,” or “Liber Cadaveris,” appears as the first of several papers in a MS. notebook, Yorke Collection OS26. It is immediately followed by the MS. of an O.T.O. degree paper, Crowley’s second version of Liber C, Agape Azoth, which is dated internally to December 1912.  “Ritual CXX” is therefore earlier, but probably not by much. It is important to bear in mind that Crowley sometimes worked in multiple notebooks at once, and the contents are not always strictly chronological, i.e., they do not necessarily appear in the order they were written. In other words, he sometimes wrote on a paper available basis . But these two papers appear with no intervening blank pages. I therefore believe that “Ritual CXX” was written in 1912, around the time that Crowley made the correction from “fill” to “kill” in III:37 in his copy of Thelema, i.e., concurrently with his publication of the MS. of Liber Legis and the Stèle Paraphrase in The Equinox I(7) (spring 1912) or soon thereafter.

I reproduce three pages from MS. of “Ritual CXX.” The first shows, at bottom, Crowley’s use of the four public adorations of “Liber Resh.” His first thought, as he composed the ritual, was to follow these with that part of the Stèle Paraphrase indicated by “Unity & c.”

He crossed out the latter, but this is the earliest linkage of the two texts, even if they were not used in sequence in the final ritual. Crowley instead used this Stèle Paraphrase two pages later , on the third page reproduced here. He indicates its insertion in an abbreviated form that has striking similarities to the pencil note for III:37 in the MS. of Liber Legis, as a comparison will show. It clearly ends with “kill me!”

Though I have not studied the question in any exhaustive way —and must emphasize that this is educated speculation —it does not strike me as a typical Crowleyan cursive “k.” To my eye, it looks as if Crowley started to write “fill” and changed to “kill” in mid character. It does not, however, appear to be overwritten, so I believe the “kill” reading to be original to “Ritual CXX.”

A provenance note is appropriate here. The notebook now known as Yorke OS26 was in a box or trunk containing Crowley’s most important MSS. These were misplaced by a Detroit storage warehouse, and only rediscovered after Achad’s death (as first recounted by Martin P. Starr in his The Unknown God (2003)). These important MSS. passed with Achad’s other papers to his successor, Dr. Jan P. Kowal of Detroit. Many MS. notebooks and MSS. were later sold to the New York book and MS. dealer Philip Kaplan. Decherd H. Turner, Jr., the founding Director of the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin—who was very knowledgable about Crowley and magick and took a personal interest in the subject—bought many of the best MSS. for the Ransom Center, where they augment the separate J.F.C. Fuller collection. However, several MS. notebooks of primary religious importance, or relevance to O.T.O. and A.’.A.’., were purchased by the O.T.O. In the late 1950s, Karl Germer sent what is now Yorke OS26 and other notebooks (including the Cairo Working notebooks OS23 and OS27) to Gerald Yorke in England for safekeeping, and in time they became part of the Yorke Collection, although Yorke very properly preserved their “on loan for safekeeping” slips. O.T.O. formally deeded these notebooks to the Warburg Institute in 2002, in gratitude for their preservation. Because of Frater Saturnus’ prescient action, they survived the unfortunate history of betrayals and archival thefts in California that followed his death, and that of his widow Sascha.

Kenneth Grant made a typed transcription of “Ritual CXX” from the MS. notebook for Yorke, probably ca. 1955, which is also reproduced here. It omits Crowley’s deleted “Unit y & c.” from MS., as one would expect with a fair copy typescript. The Grant Yorke TS. has nothing to add to the MS. excerpts, but it does serve as a confirmation the “kill me!” reading in the MS. from two authorities on Crowley and his MSS.

I am grateful to the the Officers of the A.’.A.’. for consenting to the release of part of this ritual material. This was done in the public interest, so as to further our understanding of Crowley’s intention with Liber Legis III:37.

Postscript: Just as O.T.O. was posting this to the internet, an independent European scholar who is a frequent contributor to the excellent website under the name Lutz posted his discovery that Crowley had carefully proofread the Stèle Paraphrase for a book that reached proofs in London in 1914–15, The Giant’s Thumb—the proof s are in the Yorke Collection.

I attach scans of the relevant pages, including the title page for dating purposes, below.

This is an important confirmation of the “kill me” reading, and it demonstrably shows Crowley proofreading the material as carefully as he probably ever did. It is also important in that it dates from a period after the production of The Equinox I(10) in late 1913.

I often think that we are blessed with the current level of scholarship regarding Thelema, which — as I know better than most — knows no affiliation. I wish to thank Lutz for bringing this to my attention.

Love is the law, love under will.

Hymenaeus Beta
Frater Superior, O.T.O.
7 May 2013 e.v.