THE CUP, THE SWORD, AND THE CRUX ANSATA
If it is possible to characterize an age with a word, ours might be called the age of need. In the midst of riches, there is not satisfaction or content, before the mightiest science and technology the basic questions go unanswered, the basic problems unsolved. With every possibility of sexual qualification, there is a lust that is unquenched, a desire unfulfilled.
Religion and old truths in robes gaudy or severe, struggles in vain against a spiritual sterility, speaks windily in empty words that fall on empty hearts, cults flourish, and grow ridiculous, and fall away – social philosophies, conceived in the loftiest idealism, are twisted, distorted, aborted before birth.
All, all withers before the flame of an awful desire, inarticulate and unapprehended, that is like to burn up the world. And all over the world there is despair for the present and fear for the future, because of a need, a desire that is not known.
And what is this desire? It is the desire to know ourselves, to know our brothers, and to know God. Not in the barren reaches of intellectual speculation or sterile webs of metaphysical logic, but in the warm understanding depths of human emotion, and in the gold heights of spiritual communion.
To know ourselves – the wonderous microcosmic creation – to dare the abysses and the hell: to span the oceans, explore the continents, scale the mountains and achieve the constellations that shine within our own being, To know our brothers, to love and be loved – to understand, oh God, to understand, to dislove the malice and fear and in laughter and in tears to embrace and cry my brother, oh my brother.
To know God, to know that awful serenity ( severity?) that makes even the flowers to blossom and the birds to sing; to stand naked before the terror and ecstasy of eternity, before the total love that is God.
What is the enormous curiosity and the insatiable list that has made gods and kings…
It is written that Oedipus gave a banal answer to a riddle propounded by the Sphinx, and thereafter went down disastrously into Thebes. And here is the whole history or man. That being that is half beast and half goddess cries out “what is man?” and the answers, oh the answers.
“It is a slave, an ape, a machine, a damned soul”.
What indeed is man, this portent that has appeared among us? What is his origin, and what his destiny? Was he not formed from the star dust, from the nebulae, out of the suns? Is he not born of the ocean, with the wind and the rain and the shout of thunder in his voice? Do not all deeps and all heights meet in him, abyss unto abyss? Is there not fire in his heart and laughter and terror about him who is beloved by life and death?
What is the enormous curiosity and insatiable lust that has made gods and kinds and creeds, and unmade them – broken toys on the dump heap of time?
What is this, who can go so high, and so very low – who has grubbed in all gutters, cried out on all crosses, terrorized on all thrones – this god from the depths, this beast from the stars, this wonder and terror called man?
Where shall we seek the answer? Why, it is everywhere in everything he does, in what he makes, in what he thinks – assuredly – but in these things his back is turned. But when we look into the secret heart – the symbols, into the passion of sorcery and sanctity and the passion that transcends both of these – then we may see the “stuff that dreams are made of,” the matrix of the maker of gods.
What pitiable nonsense veils the face of this enormous mystery. With one great sweep let us brush away the trash of the centuries, and behold the unveiled wonder; for here is the apotheosis of man. The Cup, the Sword and the Crux Ansata, Isis, Osiris, Horus, Holy Ghost, Father, and Son, the veritable name of God.
The Cup, the holy grail, the Cup of Babalon, WOMAN, and the eternal force embodied in woman, the heart of nature – dark womb of stars.
The Sword, solar phallic emblem of the demon-angel – the beast – god that is man.
The Crux Ansata, looped cross of life, symbol of the two combined in the creative ecstasy that is God, and prefiguring the child that is the perfect fruit of that union.
Here is the basic trinity. Upon its splendid structure have been hung all ornaments of shame and folly, of trickery and self-deceit. For it is only with clear and unselfconscious eyes that we may look on the forces that made and move us. That which is God is eternal and changeless, but truly we have made its images in our own image, distorting in partiality and prejudice, in fear and greed, even as these things distort the light within.
This is my thesis – that by knowing and understanding of these two forces we may unite them in ourselves into a third, which is God.
This is the hidden knowledge, the secret doctrine known to almost every savage, preserved in the occult schools of history, and well night lost to modern man. And I believe that this knowledge properly applied, will not be without some value. I believe that we have taken refuge from a religion that was intolerably corrupt and sanctimonious, in a materialism which, without spiritual values, is equally barren. It is my desire to indicate an approach, based upon a very ancient concept, whereby a mature and healthy minded person – even a skeptical person – may find spiritual and emotional significance.
I am aware that such an approach must be simple, and I have chosen fundamental concepts may be offensive in certain quarters. It is certainly not my intention to offend, but I must point out that persons unable or unwilling to see the wonder and beauty of sex, and that which lies beyond sex, are mainly responsible for the confusion and ultimate destruction of the religious ideal.
BABALON the beautiful, the Great Whore BABALON, riding the star beast, and drunken on the blood of saints. Genetrix – Matrix – Mother of Stars – what an image of fear and wonder! Scorn not – mock not – for the Cup that she beareth is the Holy Graal, and the name Whore is also holy.
For is not BABALON the whole of nature – and is not the Cup she beareth that in which all things are conceived? Verily She is the star goddess, “maiden most perfect, lady of light”, the “sea born and star begotten” of whom Sappho hymned? And is not BABALON Woman, the beloved Whore, who gives all that she is, and uses all of a man? Verily, she is that accursed angel in whom is all damnation and all redemption, for in her is all power given.
And from that Cup flow the rivers of life, and its foam is the foam of the milky way, that bears the wonderful seed of the stars. And from these waters rises tall and eternal the tree of life, the world ash.
What scurrilous blasphemy, what incredible affrontery, that would insult the whole of nature with a doctrine of immaculate conception, a degraded sneer at woman, and the wonderful process by which men are born. What foul conniving mind would stoop to forge such chains for woman!
In the beginning was the matriarchy – the age of Isis, age upon age slowly unfolding in which woman, recipient of the mystery of creation, was also the Priestess of the tribe. Sorceress, seeress, keeper of the keys of birth, healing and death, her architype is Isis, veiled upon a throne. I do not think she was that clubwoman, mother of weeping little boys, who is the ferocious would-be matriarch of today.
I see her ample breasted, large thewed, black maned, eyes flashing with battle, tender with love and withdrawn in mystery as she fulfilled the needs of herself, her mate, her children, and her tribe. I do not think she was frigid, or sterile, as are the modern priestesses of the free life.
It was she who sat at the temple gate by the waters of Babylon and gave herself to a stranger. Not to one man did she give herself in that rite, but to all men, and therefore to God. And how much greater is her service that that of those nuns who deny man and therefore God in their lack of charity.
Look upon her now in her nakedness, this glorious whore called woman. Behold her chanting a war cry, riding a steed of the Sagas – Semiramis, Vicingatorix – Bruinhil. Is she not admirable?
Behold her in the chambers of the night, her cheeks flushed, her eyes large, her mouth moist with honey and sweet with fire, giving the ecstasy and anguish of her body utterly in love. Is she not magnificent!
Follow her into the temple of the forest, and see what wonderous rites she invokes the godhead upon the tribe. Where is pale, sad, chaste Mary in comparison with this vision? Why if they came to crucify her son, she would seize a sword and slay until men ran screaming before that fury. That, or of need be nail him up with her own hands. Who has conjured up this meek, mewling, pipsqueak of a woman, from what pot of cabbage soup? Surely some tradesman with the soul of a piss cart.
For there is a woman that will suck a man’s soul down to hell, and utterly destroy him, save he be a man indeed. Is she not a demon. Verily she is a demon from the deepest pit, and non but the Magian King, master of the sword of will, shall ever call her mate. It is a subtlety of the Cup that it conquers by yielding, and yields to conquer, and this for every goddess there is a demon adverse. Even as high as the head in heaven, thus far down go the roots in hell, and this is the blessedness of the true saint, the lover of BABALON, that has achieved the marriage of heaven and hell.
There is the law for the little ones of earth, and it is written, “Thou shalt not transgress”. But BABALON is beyond the Law and assembly, and who would win her muse transgress the low, and win to the solitude of anarchy and darkness. For it is also written “thou shalt spill out thy blood to the last drop”.
Oh woman, into what dark and awful bondage have you gone down – the dupe of priests, the tool of knaves, the slave of fools – in the name of propriety – of virtue – of male superiority. What fires have lighted your shame – the stakes, the chains, the whips; what gutters have known your degradation, and what gilded breeding pens! And, worst shame of all – you yourself have maintained what rotten tissue of pretenses, to the enslavement of yourself and your sisters. And what a terrible revenge you have taken – you, who hold the keys of life and death. How blind was man in his folly and how he has suffered for it.
But all these things, degradation, vengeance, folly, are but cloud shadows across the face of the eternal woman that is BABALON. It is she who reins in the heart of every woman and who is the desire of every man. Therefore I say, Invoke Her!
Envision her, this mighty woman – this goddess – this “circle of stars whom our Father is but the younger brother”. Imagine her, whose song is the song of the sea, whose heart is the heart of the earth, she at whose laughter the flowers blossom in the spring, at whose touch the earth is made fertile. All to her – fear her not – for is she not woman – tender mysterious – alluring – she is the essence of woman-raised to her own power, set loose in herself.
The Angel and the Sword
I. How Paradise is made of what is.
a. Love being an overflowing of fulness, receiving a sort of giving, and happiness a measure of adequacy
b. Youth being a period of exploration of what is, with due consideration for the mysteries.
c. Maturity being a period for enjoying what is, and to hell with the mysteries.
d. Age being a period for the enjoyment of the mysteries.
e. And paradise consisting of being altogether what we are.
II. How Hell is made of what is not.
a. Hate being a yearning of emptiness, fear a sort of premature rejection, and misery a measure of inadequacy.
b. Youth being a period of rejection of what is in favor of what should be, or reaction against the same.
c. Maturity being the deepening conviction that it is not worth the price, and the determination that others shall pay this price in full.
d. Age being the period of hating and being hated.
e. End Hell consisting of being other – less than we are.
III. The Angel being the image of God.
a. Our parents being the only Gods we know.
b. And in ourselves we deeply desire to please.
c. The Jews have made an image of God that speaks, saying “Thou shalt not”.
d. This is our God.
e. Being our parents God.
f. And shall be our children’s God.
g. Saying “In swear thou shalt labour, in sin take thy pleasure, in sorrow bear and bring forth. Thou shalt hate thy seed, thy seed shall hate thee. In unlove shalt thou be thy not self. Men. Hell.
IV. The sword being the law set everyday against the gate of paradise.
a. Man being set against himself, the law is also set against itself.
b. The law of nature is the law of man.
c. The law of matter against the law of spirit.
e. Some saying that if Life = Death, then not life = not death. This shows the formula of the Christians. (Victim).
f. Or that if God is crucified, then to be crucified is to be God. This being the formula of the Jews (Scapegoat).
g. That matter = mother, and spirit alone avails. The formula of mysticism. (Priest of God = fem daughter)
h. That spirit = father, and matter alone avails. The formula of science (Priest of nature = M. Son)
V. The gate of Paradise being so narrow that only one at a time may pass through.
a. Though it is by two that an entrance is effected
b. Still it is the total self only discovered by the self which must pass into many mirrors.
c. So those who would lead the multitudes to Paradise, and those who would save the many are deluded.
d. They see themselves in others, but fail to see the others in themselves.
e. As one crying peace, unknowing that his own concealed hatred is war.
f. Or one crying war, and thereby seeking to slay the night monsters of his dark self.
VI. Yet again, the angel is death, and his sword time
a. Death being no man’s servant, or time shut up in any place
b. Neither is death cozened or propitiated, not time tricked or forgotten.
c. Yet they will mask for fools, and walk in dreams
d. But for the whole self death is a guard against not life, and time a guard against unchanged.
e. When the bowl is broken, and when the cord is loosed, all selves rejected and renounced put off their averse masks and sit in judgement
f. This is the judgement; all are beautiful, and no payment was necessary. This is the last of the hells.
VII. Pasturing upon the upland meadows of eternity
a. Come unto me, my demons, at last we will take off the masks.
b. Unmasked there your names were need and desire. Here there is no need nor desire and your names are being and going, the two transitives of love.
What becomes of the star that burns so fiercely in some adolescent horizons? It falls surely, but is it extinguished? Passionate and maudlin, ambitious and naïve, egotistical and selfless, criminal and transcendental, it burns beneath the waters, and these waters are exceedingly bitter.
And what is this star but the human passions energized by the heroic myth until they burn with an abnormal light – imagination fueled by passion until it coruscates in the octave scale – an ultra violet as spiritual passion, in the visible range as genius, and in the infra-dark a criminality, psychosis and disease.
Passion roused to the pitch of the heroic can be tolerated in our own culture, only when it is sublimated, (and even then considerable diluted, in art). The heroic is anti-social in every sense of our use of the word. It is anti-collective, anti-democratic, anti-communal. It is dangerous, disruptive, often disastrous in terms of our social values.
Siegfried, Arthur, Gawain, even Jesus would rightly be treated as criminals in our culture, simply because they would be so unsafe, so unsocial.
If the knowledge of Lucifer is the knowledge of Hell, then the essence of damnation is the belief that hell is not hell, and the continual disappointment and frustration of discovering anew that it really is; and of having somehow to explain the fact with palliative platitudes. The damned find hell where they seek paradise, and find paradise only where they fear hell.
Then the only possible comfort to the damned is this knowledge, squarely faced and never forgotten; that hell is Hell. The transcendent and quixotic paradox that Hell is also Paradise pertains only to the Heroic.
Hell consists of the submission of the heroic ideal to convention or security, to fear or self indulgence, or to any illusion of the partial self which is inferior to the total self.
The heroic ideal is the aspiration to transcend limitations – by love and understanding – by passion and violence, by will and discipline – by all and any means that will achieve the knowledge and liberation of the total self.
WE ARE THE WITCHCRAFT. We are the oldest organization in the world. When man was born, we were. We sang the first cradle song. We healed the first wound, we comforted the first terror. We were the Guardians against the Darkness, the Helpers on the Left Hand Side. Rock drawings in the Pyrenees remember us, and little clay images, made for an old purpose when the world was new. Our hand was on the old stone circles, the monolith, the dolmen, and the druid oak. We sang the first hunting songs, we made the first crops to grow; when man stood naked before the Powers that made him, we sang the first chant of terror and wonder. We wooed among the Pyramids, watched Egypt rise and fall, ruled for a space in Chaldea and Babylon, the Magian Kings. We sat among the secret assemblies of Israel, and danced the wild and stately dances in the sacred groves of Greece.
In China and Yucatan, in Kansas and Kurdistan we are one. All organizations have known us, no organization is of us; when there is too much organization we depart. We are on the side of man, of life, and of the individual. Therefore we are against religion, morality and government. Therefore our name is Lucifer. We are on the side of freedom, of love, of joy and laughter and divine drunkenness. Therefore our name is Babalon.
Sometimes we move openly, sometimes in silence and in secret. Night and day are one to us, calm and storm, seasons and the cycles of man, all these things are one, for we are at the roots. Supplicant we stand before the Powers of Life and Death, and are heard of these Powers, and avail. Our way is the secret way, the unknown direction. Our way is the way of the serpent in the underbrush, our knowledge is in the eyes of goats and of women.
It is our own force that sometimes shifts jeweled coils and […] mighty pinions in the breast of man; our Power is one with the Power that causes the God to stir in the heart of the seed, and the bud to burst into blossom and fruit; and whenever a man and a woman are united in one substance, our power is that substance.
Merlin was of us, and Gawain and Arthur, Rabelais and Catullus, Gilles de Retz and Jehanne d’Arc, De Molensis, Johannes Dee, Cagliostro, Francis Hepburn and Gellis Duncan, Swinburne and Eliphas Levi, and many another bard, Magus, poet, martyr known and unknown that carried our banners against the enemy multiform and ubiquitous, the Church and the State. And when that vermin of Hell that is called the Christian Church held all the West in a slavery of sin and death and terror, we, and we alone, brought hope to the heart of man, despite the dungeon and the stake.
We are the Witchcraft, and although one may not know another, yet we are united by an indissoluble bond. And when the high wild cry of the eagle sounds in your mind, know that you are not alone in your desire for freedom. And when the howl of the wolf echoes in the forests of your night, know that there are those who also prowl. And when the ways of your fellows about you seem the ways of idiocy and madness, know that there are also others who have seen and judged – and acted.
Now know that the power that we serve lies in the heart of every man and woman as the tree lives in the seed. And to be with us, you have but to call upon that Power, and you are as one of us. And when our Power and Joy have come upon you, you may go forth and do your will among men, and none shall say you nay. And if it be your will, you shall do your will secretly, and if it be your will, you will do your will openly, as your will.
Therefore lift up your hearts saying, “I am a man” or “I am a woman, and the Power of Life is mine!” And in the Power of Life you shall live and love, accepting no restriction and placing no restriction, freely and granting freedom. And it may be in the bounty of life you shall see the love of life shine in the eyes of another, and the lust of life burn upon his brow, and thus you shall take great joy together. And it may be in good fortune you may find a number such; and share your joy in secret feasting and rejoicing and all manner of lovemaking and festival. Or it may be that at hazard and danger you will teach the joyous power to men; as your wills move you.
And this is well so long as you remember one thing. There can be no restriction. The Power of Life is not restricted; it knows its own way, but no mind knows that way. Therefore in yourself practice all the giving and taking of freedom that is consistent with life, for thereby alone can you remain in our joy.
Pain is. Terror is, loss and loneliness and agony of heart and spirit, even unto Death. For this is the gateway to the kingdom of Pan.
Our way is not for all men. There are those who are so constricted and sick in themselves that the thought of their own freedom is a horror, and that of others a fierce pain; so that they would enslave all men. And these you should shun, or, if you must, destroy them as you will know how, for this also is bounty.
Nor think the life power should manifest in those who have no trouble or turmoil, for these may be mere dumb cattle, innocents out of season. Rather does the power often show the most where conflict rages, since at any time, and especially in a false civilization, the way must be won through. Surrender is disaster. The other side of the coin is a song in the sunlight and a dance in the moonlight, where all mists are dispersed. But the way must be won.
In dealing with the public from an initiated viewpoint, one furious dilemma always presents very strange norms. The truth, that is, the truth about the immediate aspect of some culture, is always different from the accepted values and alleged truths of the culture. This truth is then irritating, annoying, upsetting and highly dangerous.
The dilemma then is this; should one tell the truth, invoke the hostility of the public and the possible destruction of oneself and ones hopes, or should one disguise and palliate his truth, taking the equal risk that is will be obscured to futility, or even utterly lost.
Further, in his analysis, the adept must ask if, in his desire to tell an unpleasant truth, there is an element of sado-masochism that moves towards martyrdom and massacre.
Equally, in his desire to hedge, he must enquire if there is a secret desire to propitiate, to conform, to suck the golden tit of the world, and to hell with truth. In either of those extremes there is much precedent and considerable company, none of which appears to have accomplished much either in terms of human betterment or of real self-improvement. History is a long testament to the fact that men will not tell the truth about themselves and will not listen when it is told.
Of course, the ideal is a balance between the two extremes; but how to achieve that balance when we ourselves are the unbalanced products of an unbalanced culture? Through suffering, experiment, analysis, and the exercise of will, we can come to a knowledge and understanding of ourselves, and of the things that have thwarted and distorted us. But we cannot so easily undo that thwarting and distorting.
Even in our attempts to attain balance in ourselves and out environment, we find ourselves tempted and trapped by the hatred, the fear, and the desire for the disastrous effects of our won training. Learning most bitterly the dangers inherent in romantic idealization and projection in religion and life, we react into the structures of scientific materialism, only to find that we have simultaneously destroyed the romantic-creative impulse that gave us spiritual life. Worse – arising from this grave like a troll’s ghost we see the malignant pseudo religions of state and science, and the arid moralities of freethinking and liberalism.
Here, then, is our impasse. The enormously dynamic forces within us will always continue to create and destroy. If they do not function under our understanding and will they will create monsters and destroy our most beloved hopes.
The recurring problem of the adept is then exactly this – to discover adequate forms in which these forces can function constructively. Above all else he must recognize the magnitude of the forces, and of the forms required to contain and direct them.
The great error of society lies in this fact, that these forces, being strong and dangerous, are therefore the evil things that should be ignored or destroyed, usually to the tragic cost of innumerable persons. Being ignored, they accumulate force underground until they break out in ravening chaos, and in the futile attempts to destroy them, cruelty and terror are loosed upon the world.
It would seem obvious that forms of the western world are inadequate to cope with the forces of the human psyche. One after another they have broken down with ever accruing dividends of violence, deceit and human misery. Man seems unable to contain either his love or his hate – they turn monstrous and rend him.
So the adepts must turn again to the fountain of life, and its veiling magick from whence come all religion, all science, all philosophy, and all creative force.
Thus we, The Children, offer Magick in its essential form as a way of life, bipolar, multivalued, containing and transcending all forms and all noumena.
Not a church, a dogma, an organization, a form a cult, magic contains within itself all these things a partiality of the whole. It is therefore that system in which each man discovers his own individual creative godhead, and which yet embraces all men in universal brotherhood and love.
If, in this view, old, cherished truths, dogmas, creeds and forms appear only as partialities, or even malignant because of their overvaluation or distortion, that is the price that must be paid for the wide horizon needful for growth and life.
It is a fundamental of magick that every force and every act stems from love. Once this is fully understood, there is simply no room for hate, which is itself the type of love felt for things that are incompletely experienced. But in the view of love as self sacrifice, abnegation, and propitiation this truth is distorted and obscured. It will be seen that sham values and overemphasized partialities have a most malignant life of their own, since they are based on fear of exposure. But it is essential that we expose ourselves to this malice if we are to attain the living truth for ourselves and our race. It is equally essential that we explore and transmute the seeds of the malice in ourselves, lest like calls to like, and we are destroyed in our own nightmare.
Being in love we create love, being in hate we create hate and, in the image of the universe being in ourselves, the love or hate we create acts equally upon us. This is the great pragmatism of magick. Being truly in love we can act determinedly, in will and joy, we can even fight at need, without fear or malice and guilt, since fighting itself is a form of love.
We, the Children, love as children, seeking the means whereby we can give our love to everyone. We are, it is true, destroyers, but only the destroyers of unlove, loneliness and fear. Beyond that we are the creators of a world of magick, or the revealers of a magical world that is always. So we say love and fear not, in love there is no fear. Also in the service of the image of love may true love come to dwell, even the love of which all known loves are as shadows to the sun.