(Art by Aubrey Beardsley)
“A feast for the three days of the writing of the Book of the Law.”
– Liber Legis, 2:38
The April 8th, 9th and 10th feast days in the Thelemic liturgical calendar mark the reception of the verses of Liber Legis from their praeterhuman source, the 93 Current or Aiwass. This event, known as the Cairo Working, took place in Cairo, Egypt, in 1904 E.V., most likely at what was then called the Savoy Hotel — it later came to be known as the Bahler Building, in what is now Talat Harb Square.
The Savoy, 1901
This hotel was also where the couple involved — Aleister Crowley and his bride Rose Kelly — had performed a ceremony to connect with the Holy Current of the New Aeon, all at Rose’s insistence, she being under the inspiration of this being she called Aiwass. It was she, not Crowley, that gave us the name, Aiwass, in the first place. Odd — given that this communication always derived exclusively from her mind from the get-go — that Aleister would, decades later, claim Aiwass as being inextricably linked with his own subconscious, or his “Holy Guardian Angel” to use the archaic language of his day. Yet it was always his Scarlet Women who served as its seers and actually transmitted its inspiration. It might be much more accurate to say that — whatever it was — this was a Current of Genius at work on both of their minds, not merely one or the other.
While we don’t know which room it is in which they stayed during the Cairo Working, we do know from Crowley’s account in the Equinox of the Gods that it had a window that opened onto the street. Once he was convinced that Rose’s unexpected contact — stemming perhaps from his performance of the ancient “Ritual of the Bornless One” (i.e. the Preliminary Invocation of the Goetia) in the King’s Chamber of the Great Pyramid — was genuine, he determined to establish such contact for himself, and immediately constructed a ceremony by which to achieve this objective, along the same lines as other such ceremonies learned in the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn and elsewhere. Rose, however, scrapped these preparations wholesale, insisting that she — in spite of having absolutely no knowledge of such matters — delineate the necessary procedure, not he. She called for the performance of a ritual of her devising in their makeshift temple chamber in their ground-level hotel room, with the window open wide to all passers-by in the street before them, a ceremony performed in the middle of day. He consented to her seemingly absurd demands; the ritual was a disaster. So they repeated the attempt later at night, and without the interference of spectators it was met with great success. But…success in what regard exactly?
Rose identified her discarnate messenger — i.e. Aiwass — as being the “minister” or projection of the Supernal Consciousness of Horus. It is likely that even she failed to grasp what this really means. One should not take this as a reference to a personal deity of some kind; for the crux of Thelemic religion is that there is no personal god: divine force is impersonal, at once indwelling yet overlying consciousness and transcending thought and particular temporal limitation, encompassing as it does not merely ourselves but all living things equally across unlimited dimensions. Horus (or Ra-Hoor-Khuit) is the next step from the Osirian Age — i.e. the Age of the Slain God, of which Christianity was one of the major religious vehicles. Ancient Egyptian symbology was incorporated here mainly because the divine form is given as half-anthropomorphic and half-theriomorphic: the doctrinal consequence being that humanity is not the ideal form, but merely one of many — no better or worse than any other animal. And the Transcendent Reality exists to the perception of all, not just to the most rational. In fact, it is often man’s own reasoning faculty that obstructs his realization of the Transcendent Reality; it is only in brief flashes of rare inspiration of Genius or mystical Bliss that one overcomes the bundled ties of rational fixation and personal limitation to achieve the Illimitable View.
Since Thelemic religion is atheistic — vide Liber Legis vss.1:11, 1:20-21, 1:26-30, and 2:23 — these divine figures that are presented in The Book of the Law as parts of the Thelemic cosmology are clearly representative not of objective entities but of the latent forces of consciousness of which we ordinarily remain unaware the better part of our lives — the occult region of the mind that exists independently of the brain, and that carries on after death. This Supernal Current of Nuit/Hadit/Ra-Hoor-Khuit — or Babalon/Beast/Baphomet — projects from its overlying position as the 93 Current into the heart of every man and every woman, and crystallizes in each as an unique mystic gem, forming a holy Bud-Will to be realized and nourished intellectually and experientially via whatever means suit one’s own nature, where it will grow into the Holy Supernal Will — “on earth as it is in heaven”.
Yet it is important to understand that the Supernal Mind — while it is embedded within us in an inert form (until the forces of Initiated Wisdom activate it) — is a part of us of which we are totally unaware normally. It is not a personal god worthy of adoration or demanding appeasement, however; it is our own secret Self.
The real Genius behind the Cairo Working, and the true Author of The Book of the Law — Aiwass — manifested before Rose Kelly and Aleister Crowley on these three days not merely to inject its inspiration into their minds, and so to guide their hands as they penned the verses of its holy message — for here was a message of import not merely to them personally but to all humanity. This was outlined as the Way for the advancement of the species; either we go this Way, and evolve beyond the primitive survivalist mindset, or else we allow ourselves to submit in senseless devotion to superstitious theologies and tribalistic xenophobia, to our eventual demise as a race.
Some Thelemites will commemorate the writing of the three chapters of the Law of Thelema by dramatic recreation, with the reading aloud of chapter 1 of Liber Legis on April 8th, chapter 2 on April 9th, and chapter 3 on April 10th. But we have at our fingertips so many more possibilities in this technologically advanced era of ours. Why not spice things up by utilizing LCD screens displaying animated images, and sound systems conveying repeating chants and atmospheric and mood-driving music at appropriate intervals, with a recording of a recitation of the verses of the book digitally altered so as to be more evocative of the forces we are stirring — e.g., more feminine with the first chapter, much darker with the second, and ferociously triumphant with the last.
However you choose to celebrate these holy days of the Epiphany of the Law — or Thelemic Epiphany as I call it — whether by some elaborate liturgical exhibition or simply by meditating on the message of Aiwass, may 93 be with thee, and may you come thereby to the accomplishment of your true Will, the Great Work, the Summum Bonum, True Wisdom and Perfect Happiness.
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