Aaron M. from U.S.A.: "I thoroughly enjoyed reading Crossing the Abyss! I suppose that to give my remarks context, I must explain in general terms my place and perspective on the whole matter of Thelema. I am not an initiate of the A.'.A.'. or the O.T.O. I was part of a Sufi order for several years and had some curious experiences with the occult during that time. Several years ago, Thelema became a point of interest after a spontaneous kundalini awakening that I had following an extended period of performing yogic practices. In trying to figure out what happened to me, I began to read Crowley's writing, noting that he described what I experienced in fairly precise detail, especially in his Eight Lectures on Yoga. Following a 'trail of breadcrumbs' I visited the Star Sapphire Lodge in Glendale to witness a Gnostic Mass, during a period in which I was researching sexual magick for a project I had while attending San Diego State. I had several epiphanies watching the ritual that made me consider that there was more to Thelema than its critics let on. I had already started a regular magickal practice, so in retrospect much in my life was adjusting to the new current I had tapped into. I've been at it as a solitary practitioner ever since.
It was a relief to read this book and see that things I noticed and realized independently were acknowledged by someone else who has been on this Path much longer than me. For instance, after a few experiences involving my HGA, I began to suspect that the HGA is an outside entity and not one's Higher Self at Tiphareth. I would come across other Thelemites who spoke or wrote of the Angel residing at Tiphareth, but this did not seem to make much sense, anecdotally. Reading what Mr. Cornelius writes on the matter on page 47 was quite a confirmation for myself and my experience.
Although I learned a lot from the Gnostic Mass, I realized over time that Crowley did not understand the role of women in sexual magick beyond merely using them. This led me to not wanting to join the O.T.O., for I questioned just how "New Aeon" their teachings ultimately are. This is not a so much a negative criticism, but rather a feeling that my True Will is not in alignment with having an O.T.O membership. I was excited see that Mr. Cornelius touched the sexual imbalance, especially in his discussion of the Fourth Degree, for the 'N' side of the 'ON' formula does indeed appear to be underrepresented in comparison to the 'O' in the O.T.O.
Prior to reading this book, I knew little of Frater Achad. I read most of his written work, to glean whatever useful information I could from him, but knew little about him as a person. I did get the impression that he flirted with insanity; he certainly seemed unbalanced, but made up for it with occasional outbursts of brilliance. I am most certainly not a Master of the Temple, so I ultimately wrote off understanding Achad as being above my pay-grade, so to speak. Mr. Cornelius' explanations made much sense and really fleshed out some of the ideas that eluded me as I tried to make sense of both Achad overall and Crowley post-Vision and the Voice. I appreciate the fact that Mr. Cornelius really seems to understand the psychology of both Crowley and Achad in a very practical sense. Although I acknowledge the impossibility of rationalizing super-rational consciousness, Mr. Cornelius does an amazing job of bringing these ideas down to Earth and making them accessible. Rather than writing off Crowley and Achad, I learned a lot from Mr. Cornelius explaining what they were trying to do, where they missed the mark, and what they could have possibly done, as opposed to making generalized judgments from a dualistic, either-or point of view.
I think the main concept shared in the book that I will walk away with is Mr. Cornelius' explanation of the feminine quality of the age of the Aquarius. In my own practice, I realized there is a powerful feminine power at work in the world, but I felt Crowley missed this, as is evident in his work. I didn't know how to talk about it, because it seems many Thelemites treat Babalon as a side deity to Horus. In fact, I have had trouble fitting the information I have learned in my own work with mainstream Thelema. I was always a bit bothered by the idea that the most previous Aeon was that of the father; it just didn't make sense once you flesh it out. Mr. Cornelius' explanation of the feminine power of the New Aeon was a powerful confirmation for me, confirming something I've suspected from my own magickal experiences. I agree that if Achad, Parsons, McMurtry and Cornelius, who all attained 8=3, spoke of a powerful feminine force in the world, then there is something more to this than is conveyed in most works on Thelema that I have read.
It was a joy to read this book and I will certainly suggest it to others! I send my most sincere thanks to you and Mr. Cornelius for what I imagine was a labor of love. I learned a lot and I'm sure others can say the same. Thank you again!"
D. K from New York, U.S.A.: “Crossing the Abyss is a great book. [Five Stars]
So thoroughly researched, so well put together; it was a pleasure. So many gaps were filled around the familiar signposts in the lives of Crowley and Jones. Crossing the Abyss makes more sense of it all than any other book I can think of, especially leading into the Maat stuff. The knowledge and clarity that are brought to the narrative are impressive, powerfully validating the insights that are offered along the way—real insider stuff, a view behind the curtain.
I really liked the endnotes, especially the profiles on the people encountered through the book. … Mr. Cornelius: I admit to having reached some different conclusions regarding Messrs. Crowley and Jones from yours. But I am sure with the knowledge you exhibit in Crossing the Abyss, you could win an argument with me any day.
Reading Crossing the Abyss mixed nostalgia with new information—nostalgia for my reading about Crowley and Achad in the late ‘seventies through the ‘eighties, especially in the highly entertaining books of Kenneth Grant.”
M.G from Oregon, U.S.A.: "Thank you for the fast delivery of the book, Crossing the Abyss and into the Aeon of the Daughter: The Magickal Story of Aleister Crowley and Charles Stansfeld Jones. It wasn’t on the bedside stack long before it got into my hands and I devoured it. Frater Achad has always fascinated me. I’m grateful for this book about him. It has so much detail concerning his magickal journey and discoveries. His mind was amazing and blazed through time to touch me right here. Thank you for all the hard work that went into this book. I’m never disappointed when I read a creation from Mr. Cornelius. I’m formal because I’m struck with admiration and thankfulness that I got to read it and other books he’s written. Much appreciated."
J.S. from England: "After recently wrestling with Waites Holy Grail you might think I would be done with magic(k)al theory books for a while and yet here we (again!) dealing with the odd relationship of Charles Stansfield Jones (Frater Achad) and Aleister Crowley.
This volume is also written by an ‘Initiate’ and, be warned, it is probably not for the casual reader, but it is made as readable as such things can be by, as it is written by and edited by Jerry and Erica Cornelius.
I have a lot of time for the Cornelius’ as, although Thelemites, they are not Crowleyites (a big difference), know their stuff, and try to keep it simple.
The book is built mainly around a biography of Achad and, as far it goes, which is not much further that what is already known, it does this well, chronologically broken down year after year. It details his magickal workings and especially his gemetrical (applying numbers to letters of the alphabet- especially the Hebrew) analysis of Crowleys ‘Liber Legis’ discovering that the number 31 had an important part to play in fathoming it (assuming that there is something to fathom in the first place). Crowley believed Achads discover so important that he remamed ‘Liber Legis’ ‘Liber Al (Al=31) Vel Legis’ and regarded Achad as his ‘magickal son’.
Achad and Crowley ultimately had a parting of the ways (as did many who had prolonged deals with Crowley) mainly because Achad did some very odd things with the Tree of Life (among other things inverting it) he ’claimed’ a higher Magickal grade Crowley and (of course!) money.
The Cornelius’ do not brush over the failings of both men but are more interested in the results of their respective magickal endeavours and how they relate to each other. The Cornelius’ view seems to be that both men did indeed channel important knowledge from sources beyond themselves but failed to interpret and utilize the material gained because they allowed (or rather had not) extinguished their egos properly and thus came to believe that they were Gods amongst men as opposed to men who the Gods worked through. They also demonstrate how both men dedicated themselves to ‘Liber Al’, and Achad (it seems to me especially) really attempted (and found) numerous alignments and synchronicities that appeared to link backwards and forwards through his own, and Crowleys history.
This is all quite convincingly done and along the way we learn a lot of other interesting bits and pieces, for example the meaning of ‘Chastity’ and its relation to sexual magick, the underlying meaning of various symbols especially around the higher degrees, much about the oath of the abyss and responsibilities of taking it, and a lot about the Tree of Life and its paths/tarot trumps. Some of this latter made my head spin somewhat- some diagrams within the text would have been useful- but I can imagine for those ‘on the path’ it will be a very useful and intriguing book. I can also see it as complementing the upcoming volume on Achad from Starfire very well.
Overall I found it a very interesting read, despite my feeling that I am largely ‘done’ with Crowley, but there are three problems with this book- one of them major. There are 60 pages of notes (in a 440page book) and some of these are merely things like “Letter dated February 14th 1918” with no source for this letter concerned so future researchers must just take their word for it. However this is small beer compared to the lack of an index which is pretty unforgivable and largely negates the usefulness of the book as ‘quick consultation’ is a frustrating chore; as I discovered trying to remember where they referred to a book by James Hillman - a double whammy as there is no bibliography either!
So keep a pen and plenty of scrap paper handy Thelemites, your’e gonna need ‘em! What a pity…"
[We respond: Alas, most of the Achad letters are not only unpublished, but in private archives.]
M.H. from England: "I think this book will become the seminal work on Achad. I don’t know of any other work which is so comprehensive. I can hardly put it down, and wish I could have had a text like this years ago. Congratulations Jerry, on yet another super book. I strongly urge anyone who has not yet ordered a copy to do so. If you are interested in Frater Achad, I am certain you will not be disappointed, but you will be amazed at the amount of information Jerry has put into this book. It is written in Jerry’s distinctive style, and so is easy to read. Complex ideas are set out in a clear easily readable manner. I am not surprised it is selling so quickly."