An Open Epistle
On an English Qabalah
by Frater Achad Osher 583
"Thou shalt obtain the order & value of the English Alphabet;
thou shalt find new symbols to attribute them unto."
Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law. - AL I:40
There have been many Thelemites over the years who have come forth with the solution to verse 55 found in Chapter Two of Liber AL vel Legis. However, few seemingly understand the Aeonic nature of Qabalaistic progression which enables them to fulfill the obligations required of Universal Freedom. Their solutions are often restrictive and bathed only in the importance of the present while discarding the past. They tend to forget that our Divine Spirit has been evolving from time immemorial and that its utterance in certain tongues, while encased in the flesh, conceal the mysteries of its growth and development. For example, in the Aeon of Aries there were many languages but it seems the Judaic language predominately expressed the manifesting Aeonic current of the spirit of humanity in its purest form. Basically saying, there is by one God and we must worship him. In this period the servile race, living in the desert and on the plains as a man of Earth, starred at the distant mountain and knew, this is where the God lived. In the next Aeon of Pisces the Jewish Qabalah didn't disappear, it overlapped into the new but it did not clearly express the new current. It gave us only a vision of the path leading up the present and as such it fulfilled the Foundation which was laid in the plains. The new system which contained the Hidden Truth was inherently found in the Greek language through which Christianity was unconsciously manifesting. Basically this said; there is a God and he can manifest in the flesh, we must worship him. This new Qabalah brought humanity out of the plains but only so far up the sacred mountain of God. However, where humanity now stood it could clearly see the Beauty of the Sun [Son]. A single solitary Star rising above the peak. Zro. Humanity became overwhelmed in the Heart and as Lovers they embraced a new age. Finally, in this Aeon, or that of Aquarius, a new Qabalah is emerging which according to Liber AL vel Legis shall be found in the English language. This Qabalah will unfold many of our Aeonic Truths. Basically telling us that a God can manifest in the flesh and there is no God but man. Again, the two previous Qabalistic systems overlap into the new. They are not to be discarded because they contain the Divine Truth about the path which lead us out of the plains and partially up the Sacred Mountain. This path, rooted in the old Aeons, brought us to the very threshold of realization that every man and every woman is a star. In this Aeon we're now standing on the mountain peak where we shall reign in the High House. Instead of questing for the Sun, we are the Hermits holding our arm outstretched with a lantern in hand. In this lantern contains the Knowledge of our Star. Atla. What I'm trying to say is that this has been a continuing process as old as the hills. Our spirit has been slowly evolving through the experience it has gained while clothed in flesh. It has not been a chaotic process from one Aeon to the next. Like life itself, each Aeon builds upon the previous. As above, so below. On this plane children learn the alphabet, they learn how to add and subtract and whatever they learn they build upon in the next grade to glorious new heights of understanding. Sadly, most researchers create new codes while throwing out centuries of Qabalistic thought. These codes are often spawned out of a mundane need to elevate self. They're usually oblivious to the fact that the system they're 'creating' reflects their own mental capacity and attainment, or rather the 'grade' in which they are presently residing. Most often between pre-school and kindergarten as they hold out a crayon drawing while demanding, "Look what I have done!" Often their systems portray a perception on what the individual wants the Aeon to be for their own glory rather than what the Aeon actually means for humanity's sake. Yes, it could be argued that they may have once stood before the Tree of Knowledge and saw the beatitude of its fruit but in the end they settled for nibbling on the bark and talking with their mouth full. If an English system is to be found it must be judge on its working ability to express into the language the exact same or similar forms of Universal Truths which in the past were expressed in other Qabalistic Systems. The ancients did not discard their Foundation and create a totally new system with each Aeon. They built upon the previous system which had proven to work throughout the ages. They relied upon the spirit manifesting to guide them. In other words, they realized a true system manifests the spirit downward to humanity, humanity does not create a system for the spirit to indwell. The system already exists. It has for centuries. We must simply learn to interpret it correctly with the English language. The Book of the Law confirms this. It says, "Thou shalt obtain the order & value of the English Alphabet; thou shalt find new symbols to attribute them unto." It says nothing about creating a totally new system. The 'order & value' implies that the system already exists but there are slight changes due to our evolution into this Aeon. The order of the English letters are different than those in the Hebrew and Greek. Some of the values have changed, but not all. We must ask ourselves, "What are the subtle changes?" Therein lies the Secret. Sadly, the Qabalistic view on Spirit manifesting through language as an evolutionary process throughout the Aeons is usually harshly scoffed at by the modern code creators who babble that they have 'discovered' the true English Qabalah. They'll stamp their feet, whine and cry, "The old Qabalists are all wrong!" They'll go on to attack anyone publicly who does not accept their divine interpretation of the English Qabalah. Yes, the ego is a terrible thing to waste. And, with the dogs of reason nipping at their heals, they'll jump off the mountain to prove their point. In my thirty years of studying Thelema I have heard their rants so many times before by so many people whose names I've long forgotten. At this point I'd briefly like to discuss a verse which is found in Chapter One. "Invoke me under my stars! Love is the law, love under will. Nor let the fools mistake love; for there are love and love. There is the dove, and there is the serpent. Choose ye well! He, my prophet, hath chosen, knowing the law of the fortress, and the great mystery of the House of God. All these old letters of my Book are aright; but (Tzaddi) is not the Star. This also is secret: my prophet shall reveal it to the wise." (AL I:57) More interpretations appear in regards to this verse than any other in the entire book and I'd like to add to pile. The mystery of Tzaddi befuddles us all and many have sought a deeper meaning, although maybe such is not necessary. The verse clearly states 'all these old letters of my Book are aright.' So why does Crowley switch He & Tzaddi when, according to the verse itself, they are all aright? Yes, there is a logic as to why the switch is necessary and justifiable on some levels but it must be remembered that this verse doesn't state 'all these old letters of my Book, except He & Tzaddi,' it states 'ALL' the letters which includes He & Tzaddi. Obviously there must be a deeper mystery herein which has yet to be revealed. Yes, I'm a pain-in-the-ass purest! However, let me throw my two cents in and state that I've often wondered if Tzaddi is not like other letters in different alphabets which have fallen by the Aeonic wayside. In other words, Qabalists know that the overall Spirit of Humanity goes through its own growth and, in doing such, it may no longer require a particular vibration. This would imply that 'Tzaddi is not the Star' because it is the only old Aeonic letter of the 22 major Thoth cards not found in our English alphabet. Coincidence? In other words, maybe it has no meaning in this Aeon where English Qabalah shall emerge. If this is true then the question one needs to ask is, if 'Tzaddi is not the Star' then what English letter will now represent the Star? Why am I mentioning this? It's because Qabalah teaches us that when the Divine Spirit of God (i.e. man) first breathed across the face of the Earth it uttered certain vibrations, or currents. Over the centuries some of these currents have remained consistent in their symbology as if to imply the perfection of a certain powers into manifestation. Like the letter 'A' for instance. Most Qabalistic systems use a similar numerical value and related symbolism with this letter. It has not drastically changed from one Aeonic system to another. It seems there should be no reason to change it now in an English system. Especially if it has taken thousands of years to manifest the vibration in the manner in which we now perceive it. In fact, the majority of English letters have already manifested from one system into the next. The English letter 'B' from the old Greek 'Beta' and Hebrew 'Beth' and so forth and so on. We do not need to create 'codes.' We need to understand how the spirit has manifested for thousands of years and then try to understand its importance with the English language. We know that some currents have fallen by the Aeonic wayside, like Tzaddi. As to why we can only speculate. Possible these are lessons already learn and are no longer required, specific to a given Aeon. Still the majority of the letters hold Truths from one Aeon into the next. So one of the final question to ask is why are so many people try to create codes and systems which are totally different than what our Divine Spirit has been unfolding for humanity for centuries? The answer is often rooted in the ego of the individual. Now don't get me wrong. I'm not against the idea of Thelemites creating codes or new systems of Qabalistic thought. To state this as if it were a fact would be a misnomer. Qabalah teaches us that every single system, no matter how diverse or bizarre, will always produce unique insights into the mysteries of the individual's spirituality who has created it. In other words, if you create a system which says the letter A is of the true nature of such and such and B so forth, then focus enough thought into correlating data as you see it, you'll always come up with seemingly divine insights which moves you. The mere nature of Qabalah encompassing infinity implies that anything and everything is interpretable and important in its own right to somebody. Thus, even though these systems may not hold universal application, if they help unfold insights into a person's own True Will and the Laws of their Universe (i.e. Star) then we must consider them a valuable tool for the individual and groom them as such. "The system itself should not to be scoffed at as much as attitude of he or she who has created it."
Love is the law, love under will. - AL I:57
Editor's Note: The information in this Epistle is taken almost verbatim from
Chapter II, verse 55 of the private Commentaries on Liber AL vel Legis by
Frater Achad Osher. Part of the original commentary was also published in Red Flame No.8
in An Open Epistle On Quirks With The Manuscript, section VI on p.45.]
QUESTIONS & ANSWERS
1. Quite recently one of our students asked a very good question regarding this Epistle and how it mentions just Judaic, Greek and English cultures as carrying the seed of Qabalistic thought from one Aeon into the next. Noting that, "OK, but ... many might argue other cultures than Western, i.e. Egyptian and Oriental, etc contain equal mysteries." I replied, "You're absolutely right. Speech, in each and every single tongue on Earth, conceals some form of Truth. However, Qabalists will tell you that few languages transcend the personal. The majority conceal within themselves the secrets behind their race and are far more characteristic of their own culture's manifestation rather than acting as a channel for the birthing of an Aeon. How do we, as mere mortals, know which language is achieving this goal over others? Good question. Obviously Liber AL vel Legis offers us the solution to this Aeon. It's the English language."
2.Another student, whose first language is not English, asked, "Will the English language dominate and rule over the whole Aeon?" This misconception is often voiced, so I replied, "Maybe, maybe not. Look at the early Greek Qabalah. This system faded by the wayside. However, the spirit manifesting into this language and culture was able to lay the foundation of a Piscean current which would blossom out into other cultures and languages for hundreds of years. I might further add that in this Aeon the majority of English speaking people may never know that their language offers a Qabalistic system. Remember, let our servants be few and secret. What an English system implies for the masses is that the language, like previous Aeonic languages, offers a vehicle for the Divine Spirit to utter Truth if a person is able to act as a channel for the New Aeonic current. The person doesn't even have to consciously know they are doing such. If they are 'driven by an unseen hand', when they speak they inspire and the Aeon moves forward."
3.One of the earliest questions we received regarding this Epistle was, "What is ZRO & ATLA and what are their connections with Aeonic progression?" Without revealing sexual secrets, which underlay everything including language, I simply replied, "Read Crowley's Atlantis, the Lost Continent."
The following was originally Published Privately as a lecture at Brocken Mountain Lodge OTO East Haven, Connecticut 1981
A BRIEF STUDY IN THE ENGLISH QABALAH
OF ALEISTER CROWLEY
Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
There is a new Qabalah which shall arise in this Aeon of Aquarius as predicted in Liber AL vel Legis II:55 "Thou shalt obtain the order & value of the English Alphabet: thou shalt find new symbols to attribute them unto." Aleister Crowley interpreted the command "Thou shalt" to literally mean that it was up to him to discover this English Cabalistic system. In believing this, he spent many years and numerous attempts to discover "the order & value of the English Alphabet"--with little success. It is important to discuss each of Aleister Crowley's attempts in case the reader stumbles across one of these early writings where Crowley honestly believed (at the time) that he had discovered this new system. If one is not careful, the reader might actually believe (and rightfully so according to Crowley's own writings!) that he is reading 'the solution' to verse 55. This can be very misleading to an aspiring explorer of the English Qabalah. In his first Commentary to this verse from Liber AL, published in The Equinox Vol. I No.7 (1912ev: p.397), Crowley simply acknowledged this as "done", implying that it had been accomplished. His original attempt at obtaining the order & value of the English Alphabet is known as Liber Trigrammaton, sub figura XXVII, written on December 14th 1907. [omitted here] However, In 1920ev Aleister Crowley wrote another comment upon this verse where he states "The attributes in Liber Trigrammaton are good theoretically, but no Qabalah of merit has arisen therefrom. I am inclined to look further into the question of Sanskrit Roots, and into the Enochian Records, in order to put this matter In more polished shape." Unfortunately there are no surviving records which show he ever attempted such or elaborated a working system. Still, Crowley never gave up his research. In one of his Magical Diaries of June 1923ev, he began approaching this problem from a totally different angle--that of sound. He writes "11,55 says nothing of the letters of the English Alphabet. Its 'order' might be in relation with reality, e.g. its 'value' may be in the possibility of using its onomatopoeic energies in invocation, etc., e.g. to construct a spell in which sibilants predominate to call forth the silent, swift & venomous vibrations of the Serpent force. The 'new symbols' are evidently the moral idea necessarily correlative with the sound-values determined by the gestures of the vocal organs, e.g. the idea of continuous vibration expressed by N--one actually feels this when one sounds a continued N--referable to the Serpent as one who moves by this means." His solution to the question of English Qabalah in regards to the above remarks is as follows:
ORDER AND VALUE OF THE ENGLISH ALPHABET
by Aleister Crowley
A Open, unmodulated breath (ah) B Bursting forth; Sonnets about phallus & vulva; kissing D The paternal vibration. E Softened but otherwise unmodulated breath. G (Hard ) Opening as if to devour. H Forcible addition of pure breath to other sounds. Represents effort. I Narrow breath. Represents concentration. K Opening as if startled. L Passive undulation, without effort, unchecked. N The vibration which includes life & death as complimentary curves. O The breath concentrated. S Defiance, warning, etc. U Like O with added refinement & a ring of melancholy. V Manhood. Strength, Truth, Righteousness, Integrity; W When distinct from U it represents the operation of choice, U does this to some extent (will, wind, way) Z An excited form of S, engrossing elements of anger & alarm. But like previous attempts, this system, although interesting and with unique possibilities, never amounted to much--it was not pursued to any great depth by even Crowley himself. Almost thirteen years later with the publication of The Equinox of the Gods in 1936ev, Aleister Crowley still believed that it was up to him to discover the English Qabalistic system. He states, "Verse 55 instructs me to obtain the English Qabalah: it made me incredulous, as the task seemed an impossible one." At this period in his life Crowley had yet to succeed in finding an English Qabalistic system of any merit. It was an impossible task. Around 1943 Aleister Crowley began writing a book composed mainly of letters between himself and one of his students. It was originally to be titled Aleister Explains Everything but years later it would be published as Magick Without Tears. In one of these letters on the subject of Qabalah he finally addressed certain facts stating, "The Book of the Law itself insists upon the fact that it contains a Qabalah which was beyond me at the time of its dictation, is beyond me now, and always will be beyond me in this incarnation." Aleister Crowley began to realize that Verse 55 was not a direct command for him in regards to "thou shalt" find a new system, but rather it is an over all prophesy regarding the language itself and humanity as a whole. Aleister Crowley died in 1947ev. The Qabalistic system using the English Language still had not been discovered. I feel many of Aleister Crowley's attempts were valid but, like himself, I agree that they all seemingly missed the mark. Rather than 'discovering' a system of universal application, Crowley often tried to create a code which related to his own personal magical attainment at that given period of his life. This has always been the difficulty with researching any new Qabalistic system--Is one actually 'discovering' the system or 'creating' it? We often forget that any true Qabalistic system must have its foundation well established in the purest of simplicity so that many can immediately understand it, while at the same time it must have a deeper usage in the infinity of an adept's mind. It must fulfill the obligations required of ultimate Truth, examples of such being found in previous Aeonic systems like Hebrew and Greek. Thus, if "an English system is to be found, it must be judged not on its attributes alone, but rather on its working ability to express in the 'English language' the exact, or similar forms of the universal truth." (from The English Qabalah by J.E.Cornelius, OTO Newsletter Vol.l No.3, 1977) Unfortunately, all of Aleister Crowley's attempts miss the mark . . . something that he himself admitted. "Still, no English Qabalah of merit has publicly emerged, although many 'codes' have appeared over the years which represent different individual's perceptions of Aeonic Truth. Unfortunately, like the FOOL of the Tarot, the authors of these codes climbed their mountain, saw their Star and want to scream to the masses its mathematical Laws which govern their Universe, thinking that what they've found is the same for all Universes. Ah, yes, the folly of Frater Achad continues on. Of course, dare I point out another quirk? We know that Crowley originally interpreted the command "Thou shalt" to literally imply that he was to obtain the order & value of the English Alphabet. However, he later admitted that the book "contains a Qabalah which was beyond me at the time of its dictation, is beyond me now, and always will be beyond me in this incarnation." So what does this imply? Obviously if one commandment in Liber AL vel Legis stating "Thou shalt", which Crowley took as a personal reference to something he was suppose to do, turns out not to be the case, then why should we consider any "Thou shalt" to imply him? In other words, does 'thou shalt' simply refer to each and every individual who reads the book similar to such commandments as "Thou shalt" which are found in the Holy Bible?"
FOR FURTHER REFERENCE:
1. J.Edward Cornelius, The English Qabalah, O.T.O. NEWSLETTER Vol. I, No.3, December 1977 (Berkeley, CA) , p.20
2. J.Edward Cornelius The English Qabalah , O.T.O. NEWSLETTER Vol.II, No.1, June 1978 (Berkeley, CA) , p.6
3. J.Edward Cornelius, Realms Between, KABBA newsletter, Vol I, No.2 Summer 1978 (Syracuse, NY), p.28
Love is the law. love under will.
Copyright (C) Cornelius 2006