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object:3.18 - Of Clairvoyance and the Body of Light
author class:Aleister Crowley
subject class:Occultism
book class:Liber ABA



Of Clairvoyance and the Body of Light:
Its Power and its Development:
Also concerning Divination
Within the human body is another body of approximately the
same size and shape;1 but made of a subtler and less illusory
material. It is of course not real; but then no more is the other
body! Before treating of clairvoyance one must discuss briefly this
question of reality, for misapprehension on the subject has given
rise to endless trouble.
There is the story of the American in the train who saw another
American carrying a basket of unusual shape. His curiosity mastered
him, and he leant across and said: Say, stranger, what you got in
that bag. The other, lantern-jawed and taciturn, replied: Mongoose. The first man was rather baffled, as he had never heard of a
mongoose. After a pause her pursued, at the risk of a rebuff: But
say, what is a Mongoose? Mongoose eats snakes, replied the
other. This was another poser, but he pursued: What in hell do you
want a Mongoose for? Well, you see, said the second man (in a
confidential whisper) my brother sees snakes. The first man was
more puzzled that ever; but after a long think, he continued rather
pathetically: But say, them aint real snakes. Sure, said the man
with the basket, but this Mongoose aint real either.
This is a perfect parable of Magick. There is no such thing as [144]
truth in the perceptible universe; every idea when analysed is found
to contain a contradiction. It is quite useless (except as a temporary
expedient) to set up one class of ideas against another as being more
real. The advance of man towards God is not necessarily an advance
towards truth. All philosophical systems have crumbled. But each

1. I.e., as a general rule. It can be altered very greatly in these respects.



class of ideas possesses true relations within itself. It is possible, with
Berkeley,1 to deny the existence of water and wood; but, for all that,
wood floats on water. The Magician becomes identical with the
immortal Osiris, yet the Magician dies. In this dilemma the facts must
be restated. One should preferably say that the Magician becomes
conscious of that part of himself which he calls the immortal Osiris;
and that Part does not die.
Now this interior body of the Magical, of which we spoke at the
beginning of this chapter, does exist, and can exert certain powers
which his natural body cannot do. It can, for example, pass through
matter, and it can move freely in every direction through space.
But this is because matter, in the sense in which we commonly use
the word, is on another plane.2
Now this fine body perceives a universe which we do not ordinarily perceive. It does no necessarily perceive the universe which we
do normally perceive, so although in this body I can pass through the
roof, it does not follow that I shall be able to tell what the weather is
like. I might do so, or I might not; but if I could not, it would not
prove that I was deceiving myself in supposing that I had passed
through the roof. This body, which is called by various authors the
Astral double, body of Light, body of desire, fine body, scin-lca,
and numberless other names, is naturally fitted to perceive objects
of its own classin particular, the phantoms of the Astral plane.
There is a sort of vague and indeterminate relation between the
Astrals and the Materials; and it is possible, with great experience, to
deduce facts about material things from the astral aspect which they
present to the eyes of the Body of Light.3 This Astral plane is so
varied and so changeable that several clairvoyants looking at the
same thing might give totally different accounts of what they saw; yet
they might each make correct deductions. In looking at a man the
first clairvoyant might say: The lines of force are all drooping; the
second: It seems all dirty and spotty; a third: the Aura looks very

1. The real Berkeley did nothing of the sort: the reference here is to an imaginary
animal invented by Dr. Johnson out of sturdy British ignorance.
2. We do not call electrical resistance, or economic laws, unreal, on the grounds
that they are not directly pereceived by the senses. Our magical doctrine is universally accepted by scepticsonly they wish to make Magick itself an exception!
3. This is because there is a necessary correspondence between planes; as in the
case of an Anglo-Indians liver and his temper. The relation appears vague and
indeterminate only in so far as one happens to be ignorant of the laws which state
the case. The situation is analogous to that of the chemist before the discovery of
the law of Combining Weights, etc.



ragged. Yet all might agree in deducing that the man was in illhealth. In any case all such deductions are rather unreliable. One
must be a highly skilled man before one can trust ones vision. A
great many people think that they are extremely good at the business,
when in fact they have only made some occasional shrewd guesses
(which they naturally remember) in the course of hundreds of
forgotten failures.
The only way to test clairvoyance is to keep a careful record of
every experiment made. For example, FRATER O.M. once gave a
clairvoyant a waistcoat to psychometrize. He made 56 statements
about the owner of the waistcoat; of these 4 were notable right; 17,
though correct, were of that class of statement which is true of almost
everybody. The remainder were wrong. It was concluded from this
that he showed no evidence of any special power. In fact, his bodily
eyesif he could discern Tailoringwould have served him better,
for he thought the owner of the vest was a corn-chandler, instead of
an earl, as he is.
The Magician can hardly take too much trouble to develop this
power in himself. It is extremely useful to him in guarding himself
against attack; in obtaining warnings, in judging character, and
especially in watching the progress of his Ceremonies.
There are a great many ways of acquiring the power. Gaze into a [146]
crystal, or into a pool of ink in the palm of the hand, or into a mirror,
or into a teacup. Just as with a microscope the expert operator keeps
both eyes open, though seeing only through the one at the eye-piece
of the instrument, so, the natural eyes ceasing to give any message to
the brain, the attention is withdrawn from them, and the man begins
to see through the astral eyes.
These methods appear to The MASTER THERION to be unsatisfactory. Very often they do not work at all. It is difficult to teach a
person to use these methods; and, worst of all, they are purely
passive! You can see only what is shewn you, and you are probably
shewn things pointless and irrelevant.
The proper method is as follows:Develop the body of Light
until it is just as real to you as your other body, teach it to travel to
any desired symbol, and enable it to perform all necessary Rites
and Invocations. In short, educate it. Ultimately, the relation of that
body with your own must be exceedingly intimate; but before this
harmonizing takes place, you should begin by a careful differentiation. The first thing to do, therefore, is to get the body outside your


own. To avoid muddling the two, you begin by imagining a shape
resembling yourself standing in front of you. Do not say: Oh, its
only imagination! The time to test that is later on, when you have
secured a fairly clear mental image of such a body. Try to imagine
how your own body would look if you were standing in its place;
try to transfer your consciousness to the Body of Light. Your own
body has its eyes shut. Use the eyes of the Body of Light to describe
the objects in the room behind you. Dont say, Its only an effort of
subconscious memory the time to test that is later on.
As soon as you feel more or less at home in the fine body, let it
rise in the air. Keep on feeling the sense of rising; keep on looking
about you as you rise until you see landscapes of the Astral plane.
Such have a quality all their own. They are not like material
things they are not like mental pictures they seem to lie between
the two.
After some practice has made you adept, so that in the course of
an hours journey you can reckon on having a fairly eventful time,
turn your attention to reaching a definite place on the astral plane;
invoke Mercury, for example, and examine carefully whether the
symbols which you have seen correspond with the conventional
symbols of Mercury.
This testing of the spirits is the most important branch of the
whole tree of Magick. Without it, one is lost in the jungle of
delusion. Every spirit, up to God himself, is ready to deceive you
if possible, to make himself out more important than he is; in
short, to lay in wait for you in 333 separate ways. Remember that
after all the highest of all the Gods is only the Magus,1 Mayan, the
greatest of all the devils.
You may also try rising on the planes.2 With a little practice,
especially if you have a good Guru, you ought to be able to slip in
and out of your astral body as easily as you slip in and out of a
dressing-gown. It will then no longer be so necessary for your
astral body to be sent far off; without moving an inch you will be
able to turn on its eyes and earsas simply as the man with the
microscope (mentioned above) can transfer his complete attention
from one eye to the other.
Now, however unsuccessful your getting out of the body may
apparently have been, it is most necessary to use every effort to

1. See Liber 418, 3rd thyr.
2. See infra and Appendix [VII, Liber O, cap. VI, p. 360].



bring it properly back. Make the Body of Light coincide in space
with the physical body, assume the God-Form, and vibrate the
name of Harpocrates with the utmost energy; then recover unity
of consciousness. If you fail to do this properly you may find yourself in serious trouble. Your Body of Light may wander away
uncontrolled, and be attacked and obsessed. You will become
aware of this through the occurrence of headache, bad dreams, or
even more serious signs such as hysteria, fainting fits, possibly
madness or paralysis. Even the worst of these attacks will probably
wear off, but it may leave you permanently damaged to a greater or
less extent.
A great majority of spiritualists, occultists, Toshosophists,1 [148]
are pitiable examples of repeated losses from this cause.
The emotional type of religionist also suffers in this way. Devotion projects the fine body, which is seized and vampirized by the
demon masquerading as Christ or Mary, or whoever may be
the object of worship. Complete absence of all power to concentrate
thought, to follow an argument, to formulate a Will, to hold fast to
an opinion or a course of action, or even to keep a solemn oath,
mark indelibly those who have lost parts of their souls. They
wander from one new cult to another even crazier. Occasionally
such persons drift for a moment into the surroundings of The
MASTER THERION, and are shot out by the simple process of making
them try to do a half-hours honest work of any kind.
In projecting the Astral, it is a valuable additional safeguard to
perform the whole operation in a properly consecrated circle.
Proceed with great caution, then, but proceed. In time your
Body of Light will be as strong against the spirits as your other
body against the winds of Heaven. All depends upon the development of that Body of Light. It must be furnished with an organism
as ramified and balanced as its shadowy brother, the material body.
To recapitulate once more, then, the first task is to develop your
own Body of Light within your own circle without reference to any
other inhabitants of the world to which it belongs.
That which you have accomplished with the subject you may
now proceed to do with the object. You will learn to see with your
astral eyes the astral appearance of material things; and although
this does not properly belong to pure clairvoyance, one may here

1. [A Crowley term of abuse for Theosophists, specifically members of the postBlavatsky Theosophical Society.]



again mention that you should endeavour to the utmost to develop
and fortify this Body of Light. The best and simplest way to do
this is to use it constantly, to exercise it in every way. In particular
it may be employed in ceremonies of initiation or of invocation
while the physical body remains silent and still.
In doing this it will often be necessary to create a Temple on the
astral plane. It is excellent practice to create symbols. This one
precaution is needed: after using them, they should be reabsorbed.
Having learned to create astral forms, the next step will be at first
very difficult. Phantasmal and fleeting as the astral is in general,
those forms which are definitely attached to the material possess
enormous powers of resistance, and it consequently requires very
high potential to influence them. Their material analogues seem to
serve as a fortress. Even when a temporary effect is produced, the
inertia of matter draws it back to the normal; yet the power of the
trained and consecrated will in a well-developed astral body is such
that it can even produce a permanent change in the material upon
whose Body of Light you are working; e.g., one can heal the sick by
restoring a healthy appearance to their astral forms. On the other
hand, it is possible so to disintegrate the Body of Light even of a
strong man that he will fall dead.
Such operations demand not only power, but judgement.
Nothing can upset the total sum of destinyeverything must be
paid for to the uttermost farthing. For this reason a great many
operations theoretically possible cannot be performed. Suppose, for
example, you see two men of similarly unhealthy astral appearance.
In one case the cause may be slight and temporary. Your help
suffices to restore him in a few minutes. The other, who looks no
worse, is really oppressed by a force incalculably greater than you
could control, and you would only damage yourself by attempting
to help him. The diagnosis between the two cases could be made by
an investigation of the deeper strata of the astral, such as compose
the causal body.
A body of black magicians, under Anna Kingsford,1 once attempted to kill a vivisector who was not particularly well known; and
they succeeded in making him serious ill. But in attempting the
same thing with Pasteur they produced no effect whatever, because
Pasteur was a great geniusan adept in his own line far greater

1. Anna Kingsford, so far as her good work is concerned, was only the rubber
stamp of Edward Maitland.



than she in hersand because millions of people were daily
blessing him. It cannot be too clearly understood that magical
force is subject to the same laws of proportion as any other kind
of force. It is useless for a mere millionaire to try to bankrupt a man
who has the Bank of England behind him.
To sum up, the first task is to separate the astral form from the [150]
physical body, the second to develop the powers of the astral body,
in particular those of sight, travel, and interpretation; third, to unify
the two bodies without muddling them.
This being accomplished, the Magician is fitted to deal with the
It is now useful to continue with considerations of other planes,
which have commonly been classed under the Astral. There is some
reason for this, as the delimitations are somewhat vague. Just as the
vegetable kingdom merges into the animal, and as the material
plane has beings which encroach upon the boundaries of the astral,
so do we find it in the higher planes.
The mental images which appear during meditation are subjective, and pertain not at all to the astral plane. Only very rarely do
astral images occur during meditation. It is a bad break in the
circle, as a rule, when they do.
There is also a Magical Plane. This touches the material, and
even includes a portion of it. It includes the astral, chiefly a fullblooded type of the Astral. It reaches to and includes most, if not
all, of the Spiritual planes.
The Magical planes is thus the most comprehensive of all.
Egyptian Gods are typical inhabitants of this plane, and it is the
home of every Adept.
The Spiritual planes are of several types, but are all distinguished
by a reality and intensity to be found nowhere else. Their inhabitants are formless, free of space and time, and distinguished by
incomparable brilliance.
There are also a number of sub-planes, as, for example, the
Alchemical. This plane will often appear in the practice of Rising
on the Planes; its images are usually those of gardens curiously
kept, mountains furnished with peculiar symbols, hieroglyphic
animals, or such figures as those of the Hermetic Arcanum, and
pictures like the Goldseekers and the Massacre of the Innocents


of Basil Valentine. There is a unique quality about the Alchemical
plane which renders its images immediately recognisable.
There are also planes corresponding to various religions past and
present, all of which have their peculiar unity.
It is of the utmost importance to the Clairvoyant or traveller
in the fine body to be able to find his way to any desired plane,
and operate therein as its ruler.
The Neophyte of AA is examined most strictly in this
practice before he is passed to the degree of Zelator.
In Rising on the Planes one must usually pass clear through
the Astral (a long way for some people), to the Spiritual. Some will
be unable to do this. The fine body which is good enough to
subsist on lower planes, a shadow among shadows, will fail to
penetrate the higher strata. It requires a great development of this
body, and an intense infusion of the highest spiritual constituents of
man, before he can pierce the veils. The constant practice of Magick
is the best preparation possible.
Even though the human
consciousness fail to reach the goal, the consciousness of the fine
body itself may do so, wherefore whoso travels in that body on a
subsequent occasion may be found worthy; and its success will
again react favourable on the human consciousness, and increase its
likelihood of success in its next magical operation.
Similarly, the powers gained in this way will streng then the
Magician in his meditation-practices. His Will becomes better able
to assist the concentration, to destroy the mental images which
disturb it, and to reject the lesser rewards of the practice which
tempt, and too often to the progress of, the mystic.
Although it is said that the Spiritual lies beyond the Astral, this
is theoretical;1 the advanced Magician will not find it to be so in
practice. He will be able by suitable invocations to travel to any
place desired. In Liber 418 an example of perfection is given. The
Adept who explored these thyrs did not have to pass through and
beyond the Universe, the whole of which yet lies within even the
inmost (30th) thyr. He was able to summon the thyrs he wanted,
[152] and his chief difficulty was that sometimes He was at first unable to
pierce their veils. In fact, as the Book shows, it was only by virtue of
successive and most exalted initiations undergone in the thyrs

1. The Hon. Bertr and Russells Principia Mathematica may be said to lie beyond
Colensos School Arithmetic; but one can take the former book from ones shelves
as every one should and read it without first going all through the latter again.



themselves that He was able to penetrate beyond the 15th. The
Guardians of such fortresses know how to guard.
The MASTER THERION has published the most important practical
magical secrets in the plainest language. No one, by virtue of being
clever or learned, has understood one word; and those unworthy
who have profaned the sacrament have but eaten and drunken
damnation to themselves.
One may indeed bring down stolen fire in a hollow tube from
Heaven, as The MASTER THERION indeed has done in a way that no
other adept dared to do before him. But the thief, the Titan, must
foreknow and consent to his doom to be chained upon a lonely
rock, the vulture devouring his liver, for a season, until Hercules,
the strong man armed by virtue of that very fire, shall come and
release him.
The TEITAN1whose number is the number of a man, six
hundred and three score and six2unsubdued, consoled by Austral
Asia and Panthea, must send forth constant showers of blessing not
only upon Man whose incarnation he is, but upon the tyrant and
persecutor. His infinite pain must thrill his heart with joy, since
every pang is but the echo of some new flame that leaps upon the
earth lit by his crime.
For the Gods are the enemies of Man; it is Nature that Man must
overcome ere he enter into his kingdom.3 The true God is man. In [153]

1. T E I T A N = 300 + 5 + 10 + 300 + 1 + 50 = 666. [Greek numeration.]
2. [Apocalypse, XIII, 18, paraphrased.]
3. In another sense, a higher sense, Nature is absolutely right throughout. The
position is that the Magician discovers himself imprisoned in a distorted Nature of
Iniquity; and his task is to disentangle it. This is all to be studied in the Book of
Wisdom or Folly (Liber Aleph vel CXI) and in The Master Therions edition of the Tao
Teh King [Liber 157]. A rough note from His Magical Diary is appended here:
All elements must at one time have been separate.That would be the case
with great heat. Now, when Atoms get to the Sun, we get that immense, extreme
heat, and all the elements are themselves again. Imagine that each atom of each
element possesses the memory of all his adventures in combination. By the way,
that atom (fortified with that memory) would not be the same atom; yet it is,
because it has gained nothing from anywhere except this memory. Therefore, by
the lapse of time, and by virtue of memory, a thing could become something more
than itself; and thus a real development is possible. One can then see a reason for
any element decided to go through this series of incarnations, because so, and only
so, can he go; and he suffers the lapse of memory which he has during these
incarnations, because he knows that he will come through unchanged.
Therefore you can have an infinite number of gods, individual and equal
though diverse, each one supreme and utterly indestructible. This is also the only
explanation of how a Being could create a world in which War, Evil, etc. exist. Evil
is only an appearance, because, (like Good) it cannot affect the substance itself,



Man are all things hidden. Of these the Gods, Nature, Time, all the
powers of the universe are rebellious slaves. It is these that men
must fight and conquer in the power and in the name of The Beast
that hath availed them, the Titan, the Magus, the Man whose
number is six hundred and three score and six.
The practice of Rising on the Planes is of such importance that
special attention must be paid to it. It is part of the essential technique of Magick. Instruction in this practice has been given with
such superb conciseness in Liber O, that one cannot do better
than quote verbatim (the previous experiment referred to in the
first sentence is the ordinary astral journey).
1. The previous experiment has little value, and leads to
few results of importance. But it is susceptible of a
development which merges into a form of dhranconcentration and as such may lead to the very highest ends. The
principal use of the practice in the last chapter is to
familiarise the student with every kind of obstacle and every
kind of delusion, so that he may be perfect master of every
idea that may arise in his brain, to dismiss it, to transmute it,
to cause it instantly to obey his will.
2. Let him then begin exactly as before; but with the
most intense solemnity and determination.
3. Let him be very careful to cause his imaginary body
to rise in a line exactly perpendicular to the earth's tangent at
the point where his physical body is situated (or, to put it
more simply, straight upwards).
4. Instead of stopping, let him continue to rise until
but only multiply its combinations. This is something the same as Mystic Monothesism [v.l. Monism], but the objection to that theory is that God has to create
things which are all parts of Himself, so that their interplay is false. If we
presuppose many elements, their interplay is natural. It is no objection to this
theory to ask who made the elements the elements are at least there, and God,
when you look for him, is not there. Theism is obscurum per obscurius [Lat.,
[explaining] the obscure by the more obscure]. A male star is built up from the
centre outwards; a female from the circumference inwards. This is what is meant
when we say that woman has no soul. It explains fully the difference between the
[This passage is also quoted in the New Comment on AL I. 3, where it is dated
May 14th, 1919 e.v., and in The Book of Thoth (omitting It is no objection to end);
it is sourced to a notebook or diary titled The Book of the Great Auk, otherwise
believed lost.]



fatigue almost overcomes him. If he should find that he has
stopped without willing to do so, and that figure appear, let
him at all costs rise above them.
Yea, though his very life tremble on his lips, let him
force his way upward and onward!
5. Let him continue in this so long as the breath of life is
in him. Whatever threatens, whatever allures, though it
were Typhon and all his hosts loosed from the pit and
leagued against him, though it were from the very Throne of
God Himself that a Voice issues bidding him stay and be
content, let him struggle on, ever on.
6. At last there must come a moment when his whole
being is swallowed up in fatigue, overwhelmed by its own
inertia. Let him sink (when no longer can he strive, though
his tongue be bitten through with the effort and the blood
gush from his nostrils) into the blackness of unconsciousness; and then on coming to himself, let him write down
soberly and accurately a record of all that hath occurred:
yea, a record of all that hath occurred.
Of course, the Rising may be done from any starting point. One
can go (for example) into the circle of Jupiter, and the results,
especially in the lower planes, will be very different to those obtained
from a Saturnian starting-point.
The student should undertake a regular series of such experiments, in order to familiarise himself not only with the nature of the
different sphere, but with the inner meaning of each. Of course, it is
not necessary in every case to push the practice to exhaustion, as [155]
described in the instruction, but this is the proper thing to do whenever definitely practising, in order to acquire the power of Rising.
But, having obtained this power, it is, of course, legitimate to rise to
any particular plane that may be necessary for the purpose of
exploration, as in the case of the visions recorded in Liber 418,
where the method may be described as mixed. In such a case, it is
not enough to invoke the place you wish to visit, because you may
not be able to endure its pressure or to brea the its atmosphere.
Several instances occur in that record where the seer was unable to
pass through certain gateways, or to remain in certain contemplations. He had to undergo certain Initiations before he was able to
proceed. Thus, it is necessary that the technique of Magick
should be perfected. The Body of Light must be rendered capable


of going everywhere and doing everything. It is, therefore,
always the question of drill which is of importance. You have got
to go out Rising on the Planes every day of your life, year after year.
You are not to be disheartened by failure, or too much encouraged
by success, in any one practice or set of practices. What you are
doing is what will be of real value to you in the end; and that is,
developing a character, creating a Karma, which will give you the
power to do your Will.
Divination is so important a branch of Magick as almost to
demand a separate treatise.
Genius is composed of two sides; the active and the passive. The
power to execute the Will is but blind force unless the Will be
enlightened. At every stage of a Magical Operation it is necessary
to know what one is doing, and to be sure that one is acting wisely.
Acute sensitiveness is always associated with genius; the power to
perceive the universe accurately, to analyze, coordinate and judge
impressions is the foundation of all great Work. An army is but a
blundering brute unless its intelligence department works as it
The Magician obtains the transcendental knowledge necessary to
an intelligent course of conduct directly in consciousness by
clairvoyance and clairaudience, but communication with superior
[156] intelligences demands elaborate preparation, even after years of
successful performance.
It is therefore useful to possess an art by which one can obtain at
a moments notice any information that may be necessary. This art
is divination. The answers to ones questions in divination are not
conveyed directly but through the medium of a suitable series of
symbols. These symbols must be interpreted by the diviner in
terms of his problem. It is not practicable to construct a lexicon in
which the solution of every difficulty is given in so many words. It
would be unwieldy; besides which, nature does not happen to work
on those lines.
The theory of any process of divination may be explained in a
few simple terms
1. We postulate the existence of intelligences, either within or
without the diviner, of which he is not immediately conscious. (It
does not matter to the theory whether the communicating spirit so 138


called is an objective entity or a concealed portion of the diviners
mind.) We assume that such intelligences are able to reply correctly
within limitsto the questions asked.
2. We postulate that it is possible to construct a compendium of
hieroglyphs sufficiently elastic in meaning to include every possible
idea, and that one or more of these may always be taken to represent
any idea. We assume that any of these hieroglyphics will be understood by the intelligences with whom we wish to communicate in
the same sense as ourselves. We have therefore a sort of language.
One may compare it to a lingua franca which is perhaps defective in
expressing fine shades of meaning, and so is unsuitable for
literature, but which yet serves for the conduct of daily affairs in
places where many tongues are spoken. Hindustani is an example
of this. But better still is the analogy between the conventional signs
and symbols employed by mathematicians, who can thus convey
their ideas perfectly without speaking a word of each others
3. We postulate that the intelligences whom we wish to consult [157]
are willing, or may be compelled, to answer us truthfully.
Let us first consider the question of the compendium of symbols.
The alphabet of a language is a more or less arbitrary way of
transcribing the sounds employed in it. The letters themselves have
not necessarily any meaning as such. But in a system of divination
each symbol stands for a definite idea. It would not interfere with
the English language to add a few new letters. In fact, some systems
of shorth and have done so. But a system of symbols for divination
must be a complete representation of the Universe, so that each is
absolute, and the whole insusceptible to increase or diminution. It
is (in fact) technically a pantacle in the fullest sense of the word.
Let us consider some prominent examples of such systems. We
may observe that a common mode of divination is to inquire of
books by placing the thumb at random within the leaves. The Books
of the Sybil, the works of Vergil, and the Bible have been used very
frequently for this purpose. For theoretical justification, one must
assume that the book employed is a perfect representation of the
Universe. But even if this were the case, it is an inferior form of
construction, because the only reasonable conception of the Cosmos

1. As a matter of fact, they cannot. The best qualified are the most diffident as to
having grasped the meaning of their colleages with exactitude; in criticising their
writings, they often make a point of apologising for possible misunderstanding.



is mathematical and hieroglyphic rather than literary. In the case of
a book, such as the Book of the Law which is the supreme truth and
the perfect rule of life, it is not repugnant to good sense to derive
an oracle from its pages. It will of course be remarked that the
Book of the Law is not merely a literary compilation but a complex
mathematical structure. It therefore fulfils the required conditions.
The principal means of divination in history are astrology, geomancy, the Tarot, the Holy Qabalah, and the Yi King.1 There are
hundreds of others; from pyromancy, oneiromancy, auguries from
sacrifices, and the spinning-top of some ancient oracles to the omens
drawn from the flight of birds and the prophesying of tea-leaves. It
will be sufficient for our present purposes to discuss on the five
systems first enumerated.
ASTROLOGY is theoretically a perfect method, since the symbols
employed actually exist in the macrocosm, and thus possess a
[158] natural correspondence with microcosmic affairs. But in practice
the calculations involved are overwhelmingly complicated. A horoscope is never complete. It needs to be supplemented by innumerable other horoscopes. For example, to obtain a judgement on the
simplest question, one requires not only the nativities of the people
involved, some of which are probably inaccessible, but secondary
figures for directions and transits, together with progressed horoscopes, to say nothing of prenatal, mundane, and even horary
figures. To appreciate the entire mass of data, and to balance the
elements of so vast a concourse of forces, and to draw a single judgement therefrom, is a task practically beyond human capacity.
Besides all this, the actual effects of the planetary positions and
aspects are still almost entirely unknown. No two astrologers agree
on all points; and most of them are at odd on fundamental
principles.2 The science had better be discarded unless the student

1. [Crowley follows the transliteration conventions used by James Legge in his
translations of Chinese texts in the Sacred Books of the East series. While these take
some getting used to, in particular with respect to the fact that italics are used to
denote the difference, e.g. between guttural and palatal consonants, they allow for a
wider differentiation of sounds than is possible in using the ordinary English
alphabet without diacritical marks.]
2. Nearly all professional astrologers are ignorant of their own subject, as of all
others. The classical example of this is Evangeline Adams of New York. No more
successful or more fraudulent practitioner is extant.
[The latter two sentences omitted from the first print edition, probably as being
potentially actionable. Circa 1916, Crowley worked with Evangeline Adams on an
astrological textbook; they fell out in a row about money after the bulk of the work
had been completed, but before it could be published. Adams subsequently



chances to feel strongly drawn toward it. It is used by the MASTER
THERION himself with fairly satisfactory results, but only in special
cases, in a strictly limited sphere, and with particular precautions.
Even so, He feels great diffidence in basing His conduct on the
result so obtained.
GEOMANCY has the advantage of being rigorously mathematical.
A hand-book of the science is to be found in Equinox I (2).1 The
objection to its use lies in the limited number of the symbols. To
represent the Universe by no more than 16 combinations throws too
much work upon them. There is also a great restriction arising from
the fact that although 15 symbols appear in the final figure, there
are, in reality, but 4, the remaining 11 being drawn by an ineluctable
process from the Mothers. It may be added that the tables given
in the handbook for the interpretation of the figures are exceedingly
vague on the one hand, and insufficiently comprehensive on the
other. Some Adepts, however, appear to find this system admirable,
and obtain great satisfaction from its use. Once more, the personal
equation must be allowed full weight. At one time the MASTER
THERION employed it extensively; but He was never wholly at ease
with it; He found the interpretation very difficult. Moreover, it [159]
seemed to Him that the geomantic intelligences themselves were of
a low order, the scope of their knowledge was confined to a small
section of the things which interested Him; also, the possessed a
point of view of their own which was far from sympathetic with
His, so that misunderstanding constantly interfered with the Work.
THE TAROT and THE HOLY QABALAH may be discussed together.
The theoretical basis of both is identical: The Tree of Life.2 The 78
symbols of the Tarot are admirably balanced and combined. They
are adequate to all demands made upon them; each symbol is not
only mathematically precise, but possesses an artistic significance
which helps the diviner to understand them by stimulating his
published most of the work under her name alone. See Appendix I, Official
Publications of AA, s.v. Liber 536, A Complete Treatise on Astrology.]
1. [A Handbook of Geomancy (later Liber XCVI). This publication suffered
from certain crucial omissions and described the method very unclearly.]
2. Both these subjects may be studied in the Equinox in several articles appearing
in several numbers.
[Principally, for Tarot: A Description of the Cards of the Tarot (Liber LXXVIII)
in I (8), and The Book of Thoth which comprised III (5); for Qabalah: A Note on
Genesis (Liber 2911) in I (2), the article on the Qabalah in the Temple of Solomon
the King series in I (5) (Liber LVIII), and Sepher Sephiroth (Liber D) which
formed the supplement to I (8).]



sthetic perceptions. The MASTER THERION finds that the Tarot is
infallible in material questions. The successive operations describe
the course of events with astonishing wealth and detail, and the
judgements are reliable in all respects. But a proper divination
means at least two hours hard work, even by the improved method
developed by Him from the traditions of initiates.1 Any attempt to
shorten the proceedings leads to disappointment; furthermore, the
symbols do not lend themselves readily to the solution of spiritual
The Holy Qabalah, based as it is on pure number, evidently
possesses an infinite number of symbols. Its cope is coterminous
with existence itself; and it lacks nothing in precision, purity, or
indeed in any other perfection. But is cannot be taught;2 each man
must select for himself the materials for the main structure of his
system. It requires years of work to erect a worthy building. Such a
building is never finished; every day spent on it adds new
ornaments. The Qabalah is therefore a living Temple of the Holy
Ghost. It is the man himself and his universe expressed in terms of
[160] thought whose language is so rich that even the letters of its
alphabet have no limit. This system is so sublime that it is unsuited
to the petty puzzles of our earthly existence. In the light of the
Qabalah, the shadows of transitory things are instantly banished.
The YI KING is the most satisfactory system for general work.
The MASTER THERION is engaged in the preparation of a treatise on
the subject, but the labour involved is so great that He cannot
pledge Himself to have it ready at any definite time.3 The student
must therefore make his own investigations into the meaning of the
64 hexagrams as best he can.
The Ying King is mathematical and philosophical in form. Its
structure is cognate with that of the Qabalah; the identity is so
intimate that the existence of two such superficially different
systems is transcendent testimony to the truth of both. It is in

1. [It does not appear that Crowley ever published this improved method,
unless he means the trivial modification of the divination by Opening the Key as
taught in the R.R. et A.C. which appeared in Equinox I (8) and The Book of Thoth.]
2. It is easy to teach the General Principles of exegesis, and the main doctrines.
There is a vast body of knowledge common to all cases; but this is no more than the
basis on which the student must erect his original Research.
3. [Crowley completed a verse-paraphrase of the hexagrams and wrote various
commentaries and analytical materials which are still extant. In 1971 the versification of the hexagrams was published with a brief introduction as Equinox III (7), Shi
Yi by H. P. Smiths Thelema Publications.]



some ways the most perfect hieroglyph ever constructed. It is
austere and sublime, yet withal so adaptable to every possible
emergency that its figures may be interpreted to suit all classes of
questions. One may resolve the most obscure spiritual difficulties
no less than the most mundane dilemmas; and the symbol which
opens the gates of the most exalted palaces of initiation is equally
effective when employed to advise one in the ordinary business of
life. The MASTER THERION has found the Yi King entirely
satisfactory in every respect. The intelligences which direct it show
no inclination to evade the question or to mislead the querent. A
further advantage is that the actual apparatus is simple. Also the
system is easy to manipulate, and five minutes is sufficient to obtain
a fairly detailed answer to any but the most obscure questions.
* *
With regard to the intelligences whose business it is to give
information to the diviner, it may be said roughly that their natures
differ widely, and correspond more or less to the character of the
medium of divination. Thus, the geomantic intelligences are
gnomes, spirits of an earthy nature, distinguished from each other
by the modifications due to the various planetary and zodiacal
influences which govern the several symbols. The intelligence
governing Puella is not to be confused with that of Venus or Libra.
It is simply a particular terrestrial dmon which partakes of those
The Tarot, on the other hand, being a book, is under Mercury, [161]
and the intelligence of each card is fundamentally Mercurial. Such
symbols are therefore peculiarly proper to communicate thought.
They are not gross, like the geomantic dmons; but, as against this,
they are unscrupulous in deceiving the diviner.1
The Yi King is served by beings free from these defects. The
intense purity of the symbols prevents them from being usurped by
intelligences with an axe of their own to grind.2
It is always essential for the diviner to obtain absolute magical
control over the intelligences of the system which he adopts. He
must not leave the smallest loop-hole for them to use casuistry in

1. This does not mean that they are malignant. They have a proper pride in their
office as Oracles of Truth; and they refuse to be profaned by the contamination of
inferior and impure intelligences. A Magician whose research [qy. Ruach] is fully
adapted to his Neschamah will find them lucid and reliable.
2. Malicious or pranksome elementals instinctively avoid the austere sincerity of
the Figures of Fu and King Wn.



the interpretation of his questions. It is a common knavery, especially in geomancy, to render an answer which is literally true and
yet deceives. For instance, one might ask whether some business
transaction would be profitable, and find, after getting an affirmative
answer, that it really referred to the other party to the affair!
There is, on the surface, no difficulty at all in getting replies. In
fact, the process is mechanical; success is therefore assured, bar a
stroke of apoplexy. But, even suppose we are safe from deceit, how
can we know that the question has really been put to another mind,
understood tightly, and answered from knowledge? It is obviously
possible to check ones operations by clairvoyance, but this is rather
like buying a safe to keep a brick in. Experience is the only teacher.
One acquires what one may almost call a new sense. One feels in
ones self whether one is right or not. The diviner must develop
this sense. It resembles the exquisite sensibility of touch which is
found in the great billiard player whose fingers can estimate
[162] infinitesimal degrees of force, or the similar phenomenon in the
professional taster of tea or wine who can distinguish fantastically
subtle differences of flavour.
It is a hard saying; but in order to divine without error, one
ought to be a Master of the Temple. Divination affords excellent
practice for those who aspire to that exalted eminence, for the
faintest breath of personal preference will deflect the needle from
the pole of truth in the answer. Unless the diviner have banished
utterly from his mind the minutest atom of interest in the answer to
his question, he is almost certain to influence that answer in favour
of his personal inclinations.
The psycho-analyst will recall the fact that dreams are phantasmal representations of the unconscious Will of the sleeper, and that
not only are they images of that Will instead of representations of
objective truth, but that the image itself is confused by a thousand
cross-currents set in motion by the various complexes and inhibitions
of his character. If therefore one consults the oracle, one must make
sure that one is not consciously or unconsciously bringing pressure
to bear upon it. It is just as when an Englishman cross-examines a
Hindu; the ultimate answer will probably be what the Hindu
imagines will best please the inquirer.
The same difficulty appears in a grosser form when one receives
a perfectly true reply, but insists on interpreting it so as to suit ones
desires. The vast majority of people who go to fortune-tellers


have nothing else in mind but the wish to obtain supernatural
sanction for their follies. Apart from Occultism altogether, every
one knows that when people ask for advice, they only want to be
told how wise they are. Hardly any one acts on the most obviously
commonsense counsel if it happens to clash with his previous
intentions. Indeed, who would take counsel unless he were warned
by some little whisper in his heart that he is about to make a fool of
himself, which he is determined to do, and only wants to be able to
blame his best friend, or the oracle, when he is overtaken by the
disaster which his own interior mentor foresees?
Those who embark on divination will be wise to consider the
following remarks very deeply. They will know when they are
getting deep enough by the fact of the thought beginning to hurt
them. It is essential to explore oneself to the utmost, to analyse
ones mind until one can be positive, beyond the possibility of error, [163]
that one is able to detach oneself entirely from the question. The
oracle is a judge; it must be beyond bribery and prejudice.
It is impossible in practice to lay down rules for the interpretation of symbols. Their nature must be investigated by intellectual
methods such as the Qabalah, but the precise shade of meaning in
any one case, and the sphere and tendency of its application, must
be acquired partly by experience, that is, by induction, by recording
and classifying ones experiments over a long period; andthis is
the better partby refining ones ratiocination to the point where it
becomes instinct or intuition, whichever one likes to call it.
It is proper in cases where the sphere of the question is well
marked to begin the divination by invocations of the forces thereto
appropriate. An error of judgement as to the true character of the
question would entail penalties proportionate to the extent of that
error; and the delusions resulting from a divination fortified by
invocation would be more serious than if one had not employed
such heavy artillery.1
There can, however, be no objection to preparing oneself by a
general purification and consecration devised with the object of
detaching oneself from ones personality and increasing the
sensitiveness of ones faculties.
All divination comes under the general type of the element Air.
The peculiar properties of air are in consequence its uniform charac

1. The apparent high sanction for the error would fortify the obstinacy of the



teristics. Divination is subtle and intangible. It moves with mysterious ease, expanding, contracting, flowing, responsive to the slightest stress. It receives and transmits every vibration without retaining
any. It becomes poisonous when its oxygen is defiled by passing
through human lungs.
There is a peculiar frame of mind necessary to successful divination. The conditions of the problem are difficult. It is obviously
necessary for the mind of the diviner to be concentrated absolutely
upon his question. Any intrusive thought will confuse the oracle as
[164] certainly as the reader of a newspaper is confused when he reads a
paragraph into which a few lines have strayed from another
column. It is equally necessary that the muscles with which he
manipulates the apparatus of divination must be entirely independent of any volition of his. He must lend them for the
moment to the intelligence whom he is consulting, to be guided in
their movement to make the necessary mechanical actions which
determine the physical factor of the operation. It will be obvious
that this is somewhat awkward for the diviner who is also a
magician, for as a magician he has been constantly at work to keep
all his forces under his own control, and to prevent the slightest
interference with them by any alien Will. It is, in fact, commonly
the case, or so says the experience of The MASTER THERION, that the
most promising Magicians are the most deplorable diviners, and
vice vers. It is only when the aspirant approaches perfection that he
becomes able to reconcile these two apparently opposing faculties.
Indeed, there is no surer sign of all-round success than this ability to
put the whole of ones powers at the service of any type of task.
With regard to the mind, again, it would seem that concentration
on the question makes more difficult the necessary detachment from
it. Once again, the diviner stands in need of a considerable degree
of attainment in the practices of meditation. He must have
succeeded in destroying the tendency of the ego to interfere with
the object of thought. He must be able to conceive of a thing out
of all relation with anything else. The regular practice of
concentration leads to this result; in fact, it destroys the thing itself
as we have hitherto conceived it; for the nature of things is always
veiled from us by our habit of regarding them as in essential
relation with ourselves and our reactions toward them.
One can hardly expect the diviner to make samdhi with his
question that would be going too far, and destroy the character of


the operation by removing the question from the class of concatenated ideas. It would mean interpreting the question in terms of
without limit, and thus imply an equally formless answer. But he
should approximate to this extreme sufficiently to allow the
question entire freedom to make for itself its own proper links
with the intelligence directing the answer, preserving its position [165]
on its own plane, and evoking the necessary counterpoise to its own
deviation from the norm of nothingness.
We may recapitulate the above reflections in a practical form.
We will suppose that one wishes to divine by geomancy whether or
no one should marry, it being assumed that ones physical and
emotional impulses suggest so rash a course. The man takes his
wand and the sand; he traces the question, makes the appropriate
pentagram, and the sigil of the spirit. Before tracing the dashes
which are to determine the four Mothers, he must strictly
examine himself. He must banish from his mind every thought
which can possibly act as an attachment to his proposed partner.
He must banish all thoughts which concern himself, those of apprehension no less than those of ardour. He must think of the question
as if it did not concern him at all. He must carry his introspection as
far as possible. He must observe with all the subtlety at his
comm and whether it pains him to abandon any of these thoughts.
So long as his mind is stirred, however slightly, by one single aspect
of the subject, he is not fit to begin to form the figure. He must sink
his personality in that of the intelligence, so that when he asks the
question he seems to himself to be that intelligence hearing the
question propounded by a stranger to whom he is indifferent, but
whom it is his business to serve faithfully. He must now run over
the whole affair in his mind, making sure of this utter aloofness
therefrom. He must now run over the whole affair in his mind,
making sure of his utter aloofness therefrom. He must also make
sure that his muscles are perfectly free to respond to the touch of the
Will of the intelligence. (It is of course understood that he has not
become so familiar with geomancy by dint of practice as to be able
to calculate subconsciously what figures he will form; for this
would vitiate the experiment entirely. It is, in fact, one of the
objections to geomancy that sooner or later one does become aware
at the time of tracing whether the dots are going to be even or odd.
This needs a special training to correct.)
Physio-psychological theory will probably maintain that the


automatic action of the hand is controlled by the brain no less
than in the case of conscious volition; but this is an additional argument for identifying the brain with the intelligence invoked.
Having thus identified himself as closely as possible with that
intelligence, and concentrated on the question as if the prophe[166] sying spirit were giving its whole attention thereto, he must await
the impulse to trace the marks on the sand; and, as soon as it comes,
let it race to the finish. Here arises another technical difficulty. One
has to make 16 rows of dots; and, especially for the beginner, the
mind has to grapple with the apprehension lest the hand fail to
execute the required number. It is also troubled by fearing to
exceed; but excess does not matter. Extra lines are simply null and
void, so that the best plan is to banish that thought, and make sure
only of not stopping too soon.1
The lines being traced, the operation is over as far as spiritual
qualities are required, for a time. The process of setting up the
figure for judgement is purely mechanical.
But, in the judgement, the diviner stands once more in need of
his inmost and utmost attainments. He should exhaust the intellectual sources of information at his disposal, and form from them
his judgement. But having done this, he should detach his mind
from what it has just formulated, and proceed to concentrate on
the figure as a whole, almost as if it were the object of his
mediation. One need hardly repeat that in both these operations
detachment from ones personal partialities is as necessary as it was
in the first part of the work. In setting up the figure, bias would
beget a Freudian phantasm to replace the image of truth which the
figure ought to be; and it is not too much to say that the entire
subconscious machinery of the body and mind lends itself with
horrid willingness to this ape-like antic of treason. But now that the
figure stands for judgement, the same bias would tend to form its
phantasm of wish-fulfilment in a different manner. It would act
through the mind to bewray sound judgement. It might, for
example, induce one to emphasize the Venereal element in Puella at
the expense of the Saturnian. It might lead one to underrate the
influence of a hostile figure, or to neglect altogether some element of
importance. The MASTER THERION has known cases where the
diviner was so afraid of an unfavourable answer that he made

1. Practice soon teaches one to count subconsciously yes, and that is the other
difficulty again!



actual mistakes in the simple mechanical construction of the figure!
Finally, in the summing up; it is fatally easy to slur over unpleasant- [167]
ness, and to brea the on the tiniest spark that promises to kindle the
tinder the rotten rags!of hope.
The concluding operation is therefore to obtain a judgement of
the figure, independent of all intellectual or moral restraint. One
must endeavour to apprehend it as a thing absolute in itself. One
must treat it, in short, very much the same as one did the question;
as a mystical entity, till now unrelated with other phenomena. One
must, so to speak, adore it as a god, uncritically: Speak, Lord, for
thy servant heareth. It must be allowed to impose its intrinsic
individuality on the mind, to put its fingers independently on
whatever notes it pleases.
In this way one obtains an impression of the true purport of the
answer: and one obtains it armed with a sanction superior to any
sensible suggestions. It comes from and to a part of the individual
which is independent of the influence of environment, and is
adjusted to that environment by true necessity, and not by the
artifices of such adaptations as our purblind conception of
convenience induces us to fabricate.
The student will observe from the above that divination is in
one sense an art entirely separate from that of Magick; yet it
interpenetrates Magick at every point. The fundamental laws of
both are identical. The right use of divination has already been
explained; but it must be added that proficiency therein,
tremendous as is its importance in furnishing the Magician with the
information necessary to his strategic and tactical plans, in no wise
enables him to accomplish the impossible. It is not within the
scope of divination to predict the future (for example) with the
certainty of an astronomer in calculating the return of a comet.1
There is always much virtue in divination; for (Shakespeare assures
us!) there is much virtue in IF!
In estimating the ultimate value of a divinatory judgement, one
must allow for more than the numerous sources of error inherent in [168]
the process itself. The judgement can do no more than the facts
presented to it warrant. It is naturally impossible in most cases to
make sure that some important factor has not been omitted. In

1. The astronomer himself has to enter a caveat. He can only calculate the
probability on the observed facts. Some force might interfere with the anticipated



asking shall I be wise to marry? one leaves it open for wisdom to
be defined in divers ways. One can only expect an answer in the
sense of the question. The connotation of wise would imply the
limitations in your private definition of wisdom, in reference to
your present circumstances. It would not involve guarantee against
subsequent disaster, or pronounce a philosophical dictum as to
wisdom in the abstract sense. One must not assume that the oracle
is omniscient. By the nature of the case, on the contrary, it is the
utterance of a being whose powers are partial and limited, though
not to such an extent, or in the same directions, as ones own. But a
man who is advised to purchase a certain stock should not complain
if a general panic knocks the bottom out of it a few weeks later. The
advice only referred to the prospects of the stock in itself. The
divination must not be blamed any more than one would blame a
man for buying a house at Ypres three years before the World-War.
As against this, one must insist that it is obviously to the advantage of the diviner to obtain this information from beings of the most
exalted essence available. An old witch who has a familiar spirit of
merely local celebrity such as the toad in her tree, can hardly expect
him to tell her much more of private matters than her parish
magazine does of public. It depends entirely on the Magician how
he is served. The greater the man, the greater must be his teacher.
It follows that the highest forms of communicating dmons, those
who know, so to speak, the court secrets, disdain to concern themselves with matters which they regard as beneath them. One must
not make the mistake of calling in a famous physician to heal ones
sick Pekinese. One must also beware of asking even the cleverest
angel a question outside his ambit. A heart specialist should not
prescribe for throat trouble.
The Magician ought therefore to make himself master of several
methods of divination, using one or the other as the purpose of
the moment dictates. He should make a point of organizing a
[169] staff of such spirits to suit various occasions. These should be
familiar spirits in the strict sense, members of his family. He
should deal with them constantly, avoiding whimsical or capricious
changes. He should choose them so that their capacities cover the
whole ground of his work; but he should not multiply them
unnecessarily, for of course he makes himself responsible for each
one that he employs. Such spirits should be ceremonially evoked to
visible or semi-visible appearance. A strict arrangement should be


made and sworn to. This must be kept punctiliously by the Magician, and its infringement by the spirit severely punished. Relations
with these spirits should be confirmed and encouraged by frequent
intercourse. They should be treated with courtesy, consideration,
and even affection. They should be taught to love and respect their
master, and to take pride in being trusted by him.
It is sometimes better to act on the advice of a spirit even when
one knows it to be wrong, though in such a case one must take the
proper precautions against an undesirable result. The reason for
this is that spirits of this type are very sensitive. They suffer agonies
of remorse on realising that they have injured their Master; for he is
their God; they know themselves to be part of him, their aim is to
attain to absorption in him. They understand therefore that his
interests are theirs. Care must be taken to employ none but spirits
who are fit for the purpose, not only by reason of their capacity to
supply information, but for their sympathy with the personality of
the Magician. Any attempt to coerce unwilling spirits is dangerous.
They obey from fear; their fear makes them flatter, and tell amiable
falsehoods. It also creates phantasmal projections of themselves to
personate them; and these phantasms, besides being worthless,
become the prey of malicious dmons who use them to attack the
Magician in various ways whose prospect of success is enhanced by
the fact that he has himself created a link with them.
One more observation seems desirable while on this subject.
Divination of any kind is improper in manners directly concerning
the Great Work itself. In the Knowledge and Conversation of his
Holy Guardian Angel, the adept is possessed of all he can possibly
need. To consult any other is to insult ones Angel. Moreover, it [170]
is to abandon the only person who really knows, and really cares, in
favour of one who by the nature of the case, must be ignorant1 of

1. No intelligence of the type that operates divination is a complete Microcosm
as Man is. He knows in perfection what lies within his own Sphere, and little or
nothing beyond it. Graphiel [the Intelligence of Mars] knows all that is knowable
about Martial matters, as no Man can possibly do. For even the most Martial man
is limited as to Madim [the Sphere of Mars] by the fact that Mars is only one
element in his molecule; the other elements both inhibit concentration on their
colleague, and veil him by insisting on his being interpreted in reference to themselves. No entity whose structure does not include the entire Tree of Life is capable
of the Formul of Initiation. Graphiel, consulted by the Aspirant to Adeptship,
would be bound to regard the Great Work as purely a question of Combat, and
ignore all other considerations. His advice would be absolute on technical points
of this kind; but its very perfection would persuade the Aspirant to pursue an
unbalanced course of action which would entail failure and destruction. It is



the essence of the matterone whose interest in it is no more (at the
best) than that of a well-intentioned stranger. It should go without
saying that until the Magician has attained to the Knowledge and
Conversation of his Holy Guardian Angel he is liable to endless
deceptions. He does not know Himself; how can he explain his
business to others? How can those others, though they do their best
for him, aid in anything but trifles? One must therefore be prepared
for disappointment at every stage until one attains to adeptship.
This is especially true of divination, because the essence of the
horror of not knowing ones Angel is the utter bewilderment and
anguish of the mind, complicated by the persecution of the body,
and envenomed by the ache of the soul. One puts the wrong questions, and puts them wrong; gets the wrong answers, and judges
them wrong, and acts wrongly upon them. One must nevertheless
persist, aspiring with ardour towards ones Angel, and comforted
[171] by the assurance that He is guiding one secretly towards Himself,
and that all ones mistakes are necessary preparations for the
appointed hour of meeting Him. Each mistake is as it were the
combing-out of some tangle in the hair of the bride as she is being
coiffed for marriage.
On the other hand, although the adept is in daily communication
with his Angel, he ought to be careful to consult Him only on
questions proper to the dignity of the relation. One should not
consult ones Angel on too many details, or indeed on any matter
which come within the office of ones familiar spirits. The romance
and rapture of the ineffable union which constitutes Adeptship
must not be profaned by the introduction of commonplace cares.
One must not appear with ones hair in curl-papers, or complain of
the cooks impertinence, if one wants to make the post of the
To the Adept divination becomes therefore a secondary consideration, although he can now employ it with absolute confidence,
pertinent to mention in this connection that one must not expect absolute information as to what is going to happen. Fortune-telling is an abuse of divination. At
the utmost one can only ascertain what may reasonably be expected. The proper
function of the process is to guide ones judgement. Diagnosis is fairly reliable;
advice may be trusted, generally speaking; but prognosis should always be
avoided. The essence of the business is the consultation of specialists.
1. As the poet puts it: Psyche, beware how thou disclose Thy tricks of toilet to
Eros, Or let him learn that those love-breathing Lyrical lips that whisper, wreathing
His brows with sense-bewitching gold, Are equally expert to scold; That those
caressing hands will maybe Yet box his ears and slap the baby!



and probably use it with far greater frequency than before his attainment. Indeed, this is likely in proportion as he learns that resort to
divination (on every occasion when his Will does not instantly
instruct him) with implicit obedience to its counsels careless as to
whether or no they may land him in disaster, is a means admirably
efficacious of keeping his mind untroubled by external impressions,
and therefore in the proper condition to receive the reiterant strokes
of rapture with which the love of his Angel ravishes him.
We have now mapped out the boundaries of possibility and
propriety which define the physical and political geography of
divination. The student must guard himself constantly against
supposing that this art affords any absolute means of discovering
truth, or indeed, of using that word as if it meant more than the
relation of two ideas each of which is itself as subject to change [172]
without notice as a musical programme.
Divination, in the nature of things, can do no more than put the
mind of the querent into conscious communication with another
mind, whose knowledge of the subject at issue is to his own as that
of an expert to a layman. The expert is not infallible. The client may
put his question in a misleading manner, or even base it on a
completely erroneous conception of the facts. He may misunderstand the experts answer, and he may misinterpret its purport.
Apart from all this, excluding error, both question and answer are
limited in validity by their own conditions, and these conditions are
such that truth may cease to be true, either as time goes on, or if it
be flawed by the defect of failure to consider some circumstances
whose concealed operation cancels the contract.
In a word, divination, like any other science, is justified of its
children. It would be extraordinary should so fertile a mother be
immune from still-births, monstrosities, and abortions.
We none of us dismiss our servant science with a kick and a
curse every time the telephone goes out of order. The telephone
people make no claim that it always works and always works right.1
Divination, with equal modesty, admits that it often goes wrong;
but it works well enough, all things considered. The science is in its
infancy. All we can do is our best. We no more pretend to
infallibility than the mining expert who considers himself in luck if
he hits the bulls eye four times in ten.
The error of all dogmatists (from the oldest prophet with his

1. Except in New York City.



literally-inspired word of God to the newest German professor
with his single-track explanation of the Universe) lies in trying to
prove too much, in defending themselves against critics by stretching a probably excellent theory to include all the facts and the
fables, until it bursts like the overblown bladder it is.
Divination is no more than a rough and ready practical method
which we understand hardly at all, and operate only as empirics.
Success for the best diviner alive is no more certain in any particular
[173] instance than a long putt by a champion golfer. Its calculations are
infinitely more complex than Chess, a Chess played on an infinite
board with men whose moved are indeterminate, and made still
more difficult by the interference of imponderable forces and
unformulated laws; while its conduct demands not only the virtues,
themselves rare enough, of intellectual and moral integrity, but
intuition combining delicacy with strength in such perfection and to
such extremes as to make its existence appear monstrous and
miraculous against Nature.
To admit this is not to discredit oracles. On the contrary, the
oracles fell into disrepute just because they pretended to do more
than they could. To divine concerning a matter is little more than to
calculate probabilities. We obtain the use of minds who have access
to knowledge beyond our own, but this is not to say that these
minds enjoy omniscience. HRU, the great angel set over the Tarot, is
beyond us as we are beyond the ant; but for all we know, the
knowledge of HRU is excelled by some mightier mind in the same
proportion. Nor have we any warrant for accusing HRU of
ignorance or error if we read the Tarot to our own delusion. He
may have known, he may have spoken truly; the fault may lie with
our own insight.1
The MASTER THERION has observed on innumerable occasions
that divinations, made by him and dismissed as giving untrue
answers, have justified themselves months or years later when he
was able to revise his judgement in perspective, untroubled by
personal passion.

1. The question of the sense in which an answer is true arises. One must not mix
up the planes. Yet, as Mr. Russell shows, op. cit. p. 61, the worlds which lie behind
phenomena must possess the same structure as our own. Every proposition
having a communicable significance must lie in just that essence of individuality
which, for that very reason, is irrelevant to science. Just so: but this is to confess
the impotence of science to attain truth, and to admit the urgency of developing a
mental instrument of superior capacity.



It is indeed surprising how often the more carelessly done divinations give accurate answers. When things go wrong, it is almost
always possible to trace the error to ones own self-willed and
insolent presumption in insisting that events shall accommodate
themselves to our egoism and vanity. It is comically unscientific to
adduce examples of the mistakes of the diviners as evidence that [174]
their art is fatuous. Everyone knows that the simplest chemical
experiments often go wrong. Everyone knows the eccentricities of
fountain pens; but nobody outside Evangelical circles makes fun of
the Cavendish experiment, or asserts that if fountain pens undoubtedly work now and then, their doing so is merely coincidence.
The fact of the case is that the laws of nature are incomparably
more subtle than even science suspects. The phenomena of every
plane are intimately interwoven. The arguments of Aristotle were
dependent on the atmospheric pressure which prevented his blood
boiling away. There is nothing in the universe which does not
influence every other thing in one way or another. There is no
reason in Nature why the apparently chance combinations of half-adozen sticks of tortoise-shell1 should not be so linked both with the
human mind and with the entire structure of the Universe that the
observation of their fall should not enable us to measure all things
in heaven and earth.
With one piece of curved glass we have discovered uncounted
galaxies of suns; with another, endless orders of existence in the
infinitesimal. With the prism we have analysed light so that matter
and force have become intelligible only as forms of light. With a
rod we have summoned the invisible energies of electricity to be our
familiar spirit serving us to do our Will, whether it be to outsoar the
condor, or to dive deeper into the demon world of disease than any
of our dreamers dared to dream.
Since with four bits of common glass mankind has learnt to know
so much, achieved so much, who dare deny that the Book of Thoth,
the quintessentialized wisdom of our ancestors whose civilizations,
perished though they be, have left monuments which dwarf ours
until we wonder whether we are degenerate from them, or evolved
from Simians, who dare deny that such a book may be possessed of
unimaginable powers?
It is not so long since the methods of modern science were scoffed
at by the whole cultured world. In the sacred halls themselves the

1. [Refers to Crowleys preferred technique for I Ching divination.]



roofs rang loud with the scornful laughter of the high priests as
each new postulant approached with his unorthodox offering.
[175] There is hardly a scientific discovery in history which was not
decried as quackery by the very men whose own achievements
were scarce yet recognized by the world at large.
Within the memory of the present generation, the possibility of
aeroplanes was derisively denied by those very engineers accounted
most expert to give their opinions.
The method of divination, the ratio of it, is as obscure to-day as
was that of spectrum analysis a generation ago. That the chemical
composition of the fixed stars should become known to man seemed
an insane imagining too ridiculous to discuss. To-day it seems
equally irrational to enquire of the desert sand concerning the fate
of empires. Yet surely it, if any one knows, should know!
To-day it may sound impossible for inanimate objects to reveal
the inmost secrets of mankind and nature. We cannot say why
divination is valid. We cannot trace the process by which it performs
its marvels.1 But the same objections apply equally well to the
telephone. No man knows what electricity is, or the nature of the
forces which determine its actions. We know only that be doing
[176] certain things we get certain results, and that the least error on our
part will bring our work to naught. The same is exactly true of
divination. The difference between the two sciences is no more than
this: that, more minds having been to work on the former, we have
learnt to master its tricks with greater success than in the case of the

1. The main difference between a Science and an Art is that the former admits
mensuration. Its processes must be susceptible of the application of quantitative
standards. Its laws reject imponderable variables. Science despises Art for its
refusal to conform with calculable conditions. But even to-day, in the boasted Age
of Science, man is still dependent on Art as to most matters of practical importance
to him; the Arts of Government, or War, of Literature, etc. are supremely influential,
and Science does little more than facilitate them by making their materials mechanically docile. The utmost extension of Science can merely organize the household
of Art. Art thus progresses in perception and power by increased control or
automatic accuracy of its details. The MASTER THERION has made an Epoch in the
Art of Magick by applying the Method of Science to its problems. His Work is a
contri bution of unique value, comparable only to that of those men of genuis who
revolutionized the empirical guesswork of natural philosophers. The Magician
of to-morrow will be armed with mathematical theory, organized observation, and
experimentally verified practice. But their Art will remain inscrutable as ever in
essence; talent will never supplant genius. Education is impotent to produce a poet
greater than Robert Burns; the perfection of laboratory apparatus prepares indeed
the path of a Pasteur, but cannot make masters out of mediocrities.


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