AN OPEN EPISTLE ON
LIBER RESH VEL HELIOS, Part I
by Frater Achad Osher
This paper is adapted from series of lessons distributed in our branch of the AA
titled The Magickal Essence of Aleister Crowley, Understanding
the New Aeon through the teachings of the Great Beast.
Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law.-AL I:40
It is no secret that many people have difficulty understanding how the solar tides flow from within as well as outside our body. It is easy to state that our Sun is the source of the elemental or astral tides manifesting upon our Earth but it usually confuses students when we mention that the same tides bring forth our subconscious and archetypal dreams. We tend to believe that everything occurring in our mind is solely ours rather than connected to a vast waterway of inner tides which are attached to everyone. However, our mind is simply one of many islands floating in the vastness of these heavenly waters, bathed and illuminated by the forces descending through our Sun and the stars. Most people haven't the faintest idea of this solar connection but in Aleister Crowley's most holy volume, Liber AL vel Legis, it plainly states that "Every man and every woman is a star."(AL I:3) Few individuals understand what is implied by this statement or have any comprehension of their internal solar connection. Most approach this verse from the lowest point of view, that of beginners, and go no further. Crowley simplified the concept for these folks by writing that "every human being is intrinsically an independent individual with his own proper character and proper motion" (1) and thus a star. Rarely do these beginners read all of Crowley's commentaries and writings on the full implications of this verse. Then again, one's ability to understand this verse, or any in Liber AL vel Legis, is in relation to their personal spiritual growth. If your psyche or nervous system were similar to twenty-two gauge wire, how much current could you draw before the wires burned out? Could it draw 100 amps? Of course not. A burn-out would be inevitable causing a serious fire. Without careful training to become a vehicle for the 93 current either through magick, yoga, or similar methods, most psychic systems will be ill-prepared for any influx or surge of Life current. This energy normally animates us and its strength is in relation to its ability to flow through our psychic system unhampered. The greater the system, the more current it can take. The easiest way to begin strengthening your psychic system in order to avoid a burn out is by doing a simplistic ritual known as Liber Resh vel Helios, sub figura CC (2) These are four adorations to be said four times daily at sunrise, noon, sunset and midnight. They correspond to the four elemental tides of air, fire, water and earth which stream forth from our Sun at given times during each day. Most Crowleyites are told to perform this ritual daily but are usually oblivious of its full potential. In greeting the Sun in the morning toward the east, one says, "Hail unto Thee who art Ra in Thy rising, even unto Thee who art Ra in Thy Strength, who travellest over the Heavens in Thy bark at the Uprising of the Sun. Tahuti standeth in His splendour at the prow, and Ra-Hoor abideth at the helm. Hail unto Thee from the Abodes of Night!" A similar adoration is given to the south to Ahathoor at noon, in the west to Tum at sunset and at midnight, facing the north unto the goddess Khephra. I'm not going into the full details of this ritual because it has been published so often it would only be redundant. You can easily find this ritual published in many of Crowley's book and papers or in other books by modern Thelemic authors.
It is important to understand the basic symbolism behind the ritual. Resh is a Hebrew letter whose numerical value is that of 200. This is what the sub figura CC implies since C in Latin is the number 100 and thus CC is numerically 200. Of course Helios is Greek for the Sun. If you're familiar with Tarot Cards you know that each of the 22 major trumps are ruled by one of twenty two major Hebrew letters. The letter Resh rules the card known as The Sun and astrologically this card is also ruled by the Sun itself. One should also know that the word Liber means book, thus Liber Resh is often referred to as The Book of the Sun. In other words, if there was ever any doubt, the title of this ritual definitely lets the reader know that it deals completely with Solar accomplishments. At this point I'd like to briefly mention a verse from The Book of the Law, or Liber AL vel Legis which I find pertinent to these lectures. In Chapter Three, verse 38 it states: "There is a secret door that I shall make to establish thy way in all the quarters, (these are the adorations, as thou hast written), as it is said. The light is mine; its rays consume Me: I have made a secret door Into the House of Ra and Tum, Of Khephra and of Ahathoor." I don't need to remind you that Crowley has commented that the adorations 'as thou hast written them' refers to the ritual of Liber Resh vel Helios. On the most basic level this ritual unconsciously prepares an individual as a vehicle for the solar current. The Book of the Law tells us "There is a secret door" which will be opened, but what it refers to is not fully written. Although you may not notice any differences while doing the ritual, subtle changes are occurring. Like any prayer you must have faith and trust that it is working. It is easy to go to the gym, do the exercises and see bodily results. This keeps you going. After all, if you achieved nothing you'd probably drop out of the gym. On the other hand it is harder to see results when doing Liber Resh since the change occurs on a more subtle level. I once asked Grady McMurtry how I would know if the solar adorations were doing any good. He simply replied that if I survived my elemental workings (Enochian-VIIIth Degree OTO) unscathed then obviously I laid a good foundation for them to work. If I showed signs of obsession, delusions, chaos or anything unstable in my character then obviously my prayers were not listened to, meaning that I had failed to prepare myself properly. It was pointed out to me that all explorers, even a person climbing Mt. Everest, must do some physical or mundane preparations before attempting any quest. As to the nature of Liber Resh I'd like to quote a few paragraphs from a paper published privately in 1980 by a member of Aleister Crowley's Ordo Templi Orientis. It's a good place to begin and will enable us to have a better understanding of this ritual. The person in question quoted an entry from his Magickal Diary which read, "It was a slightly cool, but clear night with only a few clouds rolling across the sky. The heavens were lit up by the stars and it was a beautiful New England night. I turned and gave a slight smile toward my friend and fellow Initiate. Facing toward the north I then assumed the god-form of Isis mourning. With deep emotions I began the Salutations of Khephra toward the night-sky. I wondered what the neighbors thought of my bellowing, but I knew it would have been difficult for them to hear me over the pounding of the waves as they hit the rocks. As I finished I wondered how many other Thelemites across the country were doing the exact same Salutation as I had just done at that given moment, thus uniting us strongly together on the astral. I gave a little smile as I stared up toward the stars. I then turned toward the Initiate who was quiet throughout my recital. He himself had chosen not to perform the Adoration for what reason I didn't bother to ask. He looked at me sort of puzzled and asked, 'Why is it that we're obligated to do this ritual?' I tried to explain basically, but soon gave up on my efforts. How can one explain that this seemingly simplistic ritual is one of the most complicated of all." (3) As brief as the above paragraph is, it lays out the fundamental problem facing most people after reading this ritual. How is this seemingly simplistic ritual one of the most complicated of all? It is no secret that this ritual is very, very layered. Crowley gives a brief breakdown of the most obvious layers when he writes: "Here are given the four Adorations to the sun, to be said daily at dawn, noon, sunset and midnight. The Object of this practice is firstly to remind the aspirant at regular intervals of the Great Work; secondly, to bring him into conscious personal relation with the centre of our system; and thirdly; for advanced students, to make actual magical contact with the spiritual energy of the sun and thus draw actual force for him." (4) Crowley mentions that the first reason for doing this ritual is to remind the student of the Great Work. The nature of this work could fill volumes and is often contradictory depending upon which author you're reading. In the most simplistic sense, the Great Work implies that one has achieved the Knowledge and Conversation of their Holy Guardian Angel. Within the AA the foundation for this is accomplished in the degree known as Adeptus Minor which rules the sphere on the Qabalistic Tree of Life known as Tiphereth, or the Sun. Thus it is connected to Liber Resh. Crowley has further written that "the first essential (that all aspirants must do) is the dedication of all that one is and all that one has to the Great Work, without reservation of any sort. This must be kept constantly in mind; the way to do this is to practice Liber Resh vel Helios." (5) The second reason Crowley gave for doing Liber Resh was "to bring him (the aspirant) into conscious personal relation with the centre of our system." This is probably the most confusing point of Liber Resh and also the most misunderstood. The 'system' which Crowley refers to is not any particular belief structure taught within his organization intended to draw the unwary into the spider's lair. The most it might do on this level is to possibly tie you to a personal knowledge that others are doing the same ritual at approximately the same time that you are. The real system that Crowley refers to is the Solar System itself and the very center of this system is our Sun. Why anyone should need to become consciously aware of this school boy fact is important in light of how the New Aeon of Aquarius differs in solar belief from that prevalent in the Age of Pisces, often referred to as the 'dying god' syndrome. One individual who attempted to explain this New Aeonic solar principle to humanity was Charles Stansfeld Jones, who wrote under the magical name of Frater Achad. Before his fall from grace as a close friend and personal student of Aleister Crowley, the Beast wrote a unique book especially for him entitled Liber Aleph, the Book of Wisdom or Folly. In this book Crowley told Achad, "Neglect never the fourfold Adorations of the Sun in his four stations, for thereby thou dost affirm thy Place in Nature and her Harmonies." (6) Obviously Frater Achad did not take this command idly as shown by his own writings. He achieved a profound understanding of the Solar principles through his rituals and spent the rest of his life telling the world about that which Crowley taught. According to Achad, a Higher Truth was given to mankind now that the Aeon of Aquarius was upon us. He wrote that this truth is waiting in readiness for all those who will consciously accept it but it had to be realized before it was understood. He asked everyone "to come with me-if you will-just across the border-line of the Old Aeon and gaze for a moment at the New. Then, if the aspect pleases you, you will stay, or, it may be, you will return for a while, but the road once open and the Path plain, you will always be able to get there again, in the twinkling of an eye, just by readjusting your Inner sight to the Truth." (7) He wrote the above comment in a short essay called Stepping out of the Old Aeon into the New. He submitted it to Aleister Crowley who promptly published it the following year in The Equinox Vol.III:1 (1919). Although it is published anonymously we know it was written by Frater Achad because his personal diaries state, "On Sept. 1st (1918) I obtained a clear understanding regarding the Will and the Law ... on Sept. 15th I wrote Stepping Out of the Old Aeon into the New." (8) I would like to quote more from this piece since I don't believe I can do better than his clarity on explaining the second reason for doing Liber Resh. Achad writes, "You know how deeply we have always been impressed with the ideas of Sun-rise and Sun-set, and how our ancient brethren, seeing the Sun disappear at night and rise again in the morning, based all their religious ideas in this one conception of a Dying and Re-arisen God. This is the central idea of the religion of the Old Aeon, but we have left it behind us because although it seemed to be based on Nature (and Nature's symbols are always true), yet we have outgrown this idea which is only apparently true in Nature. Since this great Ritual of Sacrifice and Death was conceived and perpetuated, we, through the observation of our men of science, have come to know that it is not the Sun which rises and sets, but the earth on which we live which revolves so that its shadow cuts us off from the sunlight during what we call night. The Sun does not die, as the ancients thought; It is always shining, always radiating Light and Life. Stop for a moment and get a clear conception of this Sun, how He is shining in the early morning, shining at mid-day, shining in the evening, and shining in the night. Have you got this idea clearly in you minds? You have stepped out of the Old Aeon and into the New. Now let us consider what has happened. In order to get this mental picture of the ever-shining Sun, what did you do? You identified yourself with the Sun. You stepped out of the consciousness of this planet; and for a moment you had to consider yourself as a Solar Being. Then why step back again? You may have done so involuntarily, because the Light was so great that it seemed as Darkness." (9) I think Frater Achad clearly points out that what Crowley refers to as the "center of our system" is not only our physical Sun but is also the identification of every individual as a Solar Being. I would like to remind you of a verse from Liber AL vel Legis: "Every man and every woman is a star." Why it's important to discuss these first two reasons for doing Liber Resh will become apparent in the next Epistle when we elaborate the third reason for doing this ritual, but first we need to lay a foundation of preliminary understanding. There is a part of the actual ritual of Liber Resh which requires further understanding. You'll read that an aspirant or student, is told to give the "sign of his grade" while doing the four adorations. These 'Signs' consist of a posture along with hand gestures touching various parts of the body. It is the placement of the hands which is the most important part. They are usually placed over the chakra, or psychic power zone, which the given initiated degree, or grade, typifies. This may be done either as a warning of what is at jeopardy if one violates his oaths or as a means of activation as in the case of doing Liber Resh. Through yoga we learn that the palms of our hands contain two of the most powerful psychic centers in our system, next to the chakras. These are known as marmas, or areas where three major psychic lines intersect. The left hand is capable of manipulating Lunar currents while the right rules Solar. Even the fingers themselves play an important part as an extensions of the type of energy one wishes to manifest. For instance, using the thumb implies the nature of Venus, whose sacred animal, the Dove, is found on the OTO Lamen. It's more complicated than merely mentioning attributions but, for the beginner, it's simply important to realize that no hand gesture of touching the body is done randomly or without purpose in magickal rituals. Although I advocate using any magickal sign or posture in which a hand touches a chakra, the most common are taken from our own AA system. These grade signs are symbolic god-forms and are shown in the photographs published in Crowley's opus, Magick in Theory & Practice. (10) These postures understandably use Egyptian sounding titles, especially considering the fact that the ritual of Liber Resh is oriented with ancient Egyptian terms and phrases. The god form assumed when facing east in the morning is known as Osiris risen; standing erect with your feet together and arms crossed on your chest as if one is laid out in a tomb. At noon you do the god form of Typhon; feet apart with arms out stretched above the head as if reaching toward the Sun. At sunset you do Osiris slain; taking almost the posture of Christ slain, being a death posture as the Sun slowly sinks below the horizon. Finally at midnight you do the god form of Isis Mourning; forming the body into a swastika. Within Aleister Crowley's more mundane fraternity, the Ordo Templi Orientis we were once told that you can simply do the Sign of the Initiated Degree you had attained to. The author and one time friend of the Great Beast, Israel Regardie, has rewritten these adorations. His versions are oriented toward universal principals and lack any required god forms. You simply face toward the quarter and say his adoration. (11) This is OK if you're too embarrassed to be seen doing a strange zen like pose while reciting ancient incantations. After all, people do stare, even in California. Basically anything you chose is OK, just be consistent. Some people gently touch, with their index finger, the area of the chakra which is ruling the tide at that given moment. This can be done inconspicuously so that no one would notice, unless of course you're in a crowded room at midnight but that is another story. Another student of Crowley's, Grady Louis McMurtry, tells a great story about when he first saw the Great Beast doing Liber Resh. It's worth repeating. While they were in London Grady writes that, "We had taken one of those big red double-decker buses and were sitting on the bottom level on the left about half way. We were sitting there talking, when suddenly Crowley glanced up to the left, said, 'Pardon me a moment', closed his eyes, made some mystic passes with the fingers of his right hand, and mumbled something unintelligible. Unintelligible to me, anyway. It wasn't until later that I figured out that he had been doing the noon Liber Resh. The thing that is so striking is that he was so quiet about it. To hear some people talk you would think that he would have rushed up to the top deck and shouted it 'from the housetops' to all of greater London. There may have been times when he did, but he didn't do it that day." (12) One of the major excuses I have heard as to why people fail to do Liber Resh is the time requirements. In this day and age with our hectic life styles, many people either don't get up at sunrise or they are unconscious around midnight. It seems that everyone's schedule is different and, typically, one of the four adorations is always impossible to do. First of all it's more important to do the adorations rather than worry about the time constraints. It was originally suggested to me that the adorations of sunrise should be performed when you wake up and the adorations of midnight when you go to bed, if their normal times are unable to be reached. Be flexible. The exact moment, although better, is not necessary. Let me tell you a little secret about the Tattwas, serious magicians know how to plot these tides just like the tides of an ocean. They know that the astral tides change every day. A tide which rules at 6:00am one month will not be manifesting at the exact same time the following month. Therefore they plot the daily course of the tides. It's not hard to do. All you need to do is find the exact moment of sunrise which should be listed in your daily papers. Then, realize that tides run approximately every two hours from sunrise to sunrise. The first tide following the exact moment of the sun's rays on the horizon will always be air, the second fire, third water and the final tide is earth. Knowing this it is easy to make a schedule. Yes, I know some magical books and theories state that there are five tides and not four. Although this is somewhat true they lack an understanding of how the fifth manifests. The fifth tide is known as Akasha or spirit. It does not necessarily rule any given period of two hours as much as it is the binding factor throughout the other four tides at any given moment during their manifestation. Some will disagree with this and some 'authorities' will even tell you that the first tide to appear as the sun rises will always be Akasha. However, common sense dictates that five tides, ruling two hours each, when divided into a twenty four hour period do not fit. These 'authorities' forget that everything must be orderly or it has no place in the structure of our Universe. If four tides are divided into a twenty four hour period, the last tide will always be earth which is followed by air, thus completing a perfect elemental scheme. If Akasha rules the first two hours then simple figuring will show that the twenty-first and twenty-second hours do too. This means that the last two hours before sunrise will always be ruled by air and thus the manifestation of the tides order as fire, water and then earth, are skipped and they would have us believe the next tide is Akasha again. This is totally illogical. The original intent of people doing adorations at 6:00am, 12:00pm, 6:00pm and 12:00am is simply a symbolic structure for beginners. Is this wrong? Not necessarily. Every tide is not purely the element which it rules, rather the element ruling is just the strongest. To examine the air tide, air is the strongest quality, while the second strongest quality is fire, followed by water and then earth. Their strength follows the flow of tides themselves. This implies the second tide of fire contains water, earth and the weakest, being previously the strongest, or air. It's an easy structure to figure out, being very methodical. Why I'm bothering to discuss the intricacies of the tides is to point out that each contains all four qualities in varying degrees. Therefore doing an adoration at any time will automatically tap into the elemental quality, even if the tide which you wanted is the weakest at the point when you were doing the adoration. Initially Grady McMurtry told me to begin doing Liber Resh at least three full months before I started any Enochian ritual. This is because if I were to choose, through some bizarre feat of stupidity, to do every single adoration at its weakest point, three months will still be an adequate amount of time to enable me to prepare my psychic system and begin establishing a door.
Yes, I can only say that Liber Resh is integral to any working. If you're not willing to do this you shouldn't even bother to read further. The next article, or Part II on Liber Resh, will deal with the 'secret door' into the four quarters and its implications and effect on our psychic anatomy. This is what Aleister Crowley referred to as the third reason for doing Liber Resh vel Helios. To end this aticle a verse from one of Grady McMurtry's poems comes to mind, "Frater Perdurabo, you've wandered afar, Please tell us concerning the mystical star." (13)
Love is the law, love under will.-AL I:57.
1. Aleister Crowley, Magick, ed. J. Symonds and K. Grant (New York: Samuel Weiser, Inc., 1974), p. 132.
2. Crowley, Magick (1974), p. 489.
3. "The Theory & Practice of the Ritual of Liber Resh-Part I," The Minerval
Obligations, Lesson One (Connecticut: Brocken Mountain Lodge OTO,1980), p. 1.
4. Aleister Crowley, The Confessions of, ed. J. Symonds and K. Grant (London: Jonathan Cape, 1969), p. 674.
5. Crowley, Magick Without Tears (Minnesota: Llewellyn Publications, 1973), p. 2.
6. Crowley, Liber Aleph (San Francisco: Level Press, 1974), p. 16.
7. Frater Achad, "Stepping out of the Old Aeon into the New," The 'Blue' Equinox,
Vol.III No.1, ed. Aleister Crowley (New York: Samuel Weiser Inc., 1973), p. 183.
8. Frater Achad, Liber 31 (San Francisco: Level Press, 1974), p. 6.
9. Achad, "Stepping out," pp. 183-184.
10. Crowley, Magick (1974), photo between pp. 200-201.
11. Israel Regardie, Twelve Steps to Spiritual Enlightenment (Texas: Sangreal Foundation, Inc., 1969), p. 11.
12. Hymenaeus Alpha 777, "On Knowing Aleister Crowley Personally," O.T.O.
Newsletter, Vol.II Nos. 7 & 8, Berkeley, California May 1979, p. 6.
13. The Poetry of Grady Louis McMurtry, Red Flame, A Thelemic Research Journal,
No.1 (California: Corneliuses, 1994). The verse is from the poem "Perturbations."
Copyright (C) Cornelius 2006