The Scarlet Letter
Volume III, Number 2 | December 1995
Column: Heretics for Tea & Crumpets
Record Prepared by Fr. Dionysos Soter
The temple is the Great Hall of the Nest of the Eagle (Alamut), where the Grand Resurrection has been proclaimed. Therefore mundane time has ended, and all the participants have been transmitted to heaven. All events during the Mass are epiphanies (mazhar), i.e. the simultaneous manifestation (zahar) and the concealment (batin) of the One Divine Principle (AL'LA) through sense experience.
Houri (Priestess): Zuleica
The Master Assassin addresses the Brethren and gives the context and requirements for the ritual (as per Sanctuary custom). He names the officers and notes alterations to Mass standards, i.e. additional saints, unusual admission procedure, and additional temple trappings. Then the lights of the narthex are turned off, and the Master Assassin reads aloud the following induction by the light of a single candle.
Across the luster of the desert & into the polychrome hills, hairless and ochre violet dun & umber, at the top of a desiccated blue valley you find an artificial oasis, a fortified castle in saracenic style enclosing a hidden garden.
You are the appointed guest of the Old Man of the Mountain and you climb rock-cut steps to the castle. Here the Day of Resurrection has already come and gone—those within live outside profane Time, which is held at bay with daggers and poisons.
Behind crenellations and slit-windowed towers, scholars and fedayeen wake in narrow monolithic cells. Star-maps, astrolabes, alembics and retorts, piles of open books in a shaft of sunlight—an unsheathed scimitar.
For us, there is no Law beyond Do what thou wilt. The outside of everything is its inside, its true face shines through direct. But our garden gates are camouflaged with terrorism, mirrors, intoxicants, rumors of murder, legends.
Pomegranate, mulberry, persimmon, the erotic melancholy of cypresses, membrane-pink shirazi roses, stiff shafts of ottoman tulips—a pavilion set with a mosaic of calligrams—a fountain crystailed underneath with geometry—"water, greenery, beautiful faces."
The setting sun gives way to the jeweled night sky, and it will soon be time for the Feast in the Great Hall of Alamut.
(The induction was largely plagiarized from Chaos by Hakim Bey)
One Junior Assassin brings the brethren individually to the door of the Hall, where the Master Assassin makes a cross on each with a dagger saying "Nothing is true, everything is permitted." The Master then passes each brother off to the other Junior Assassin, who seats them in the Hall. The seating is directed and arbitrary When the outer Assassin has cleared the narthex, the two junior Assassins exit into the sacristy to join the Houri.
The Master announces the Law. He then leads the brethren in the profession of Mystery (the Creed). In demonstration of the Resurrection and the transcendence of the mundane, the Houri advances to the tomb and raises the Old Man of the Mountain from the dead. He declares that the brethren are his equals under the Resurrection, and she cleanses and consecrates him to conduct the Feast of Resurrection.
The Old Man enthrones the Houri in the shrine and circumambulates the Hall thrice. He then mounts the first step and declares zahar (manifestation of the Law), and is answered by the Houri from behind the veil. He mounts the second step and declares batin (hiding of the Law), and is answered by the Master Assassin from the altar of incense. He mounts the third step and declares qiyamat (the . Resurrection), and rends the veil. The Hours kisses the Lance, and the Old Man kneels before her.
The Master leads the brethren in acknowledging mazhar in eleven of its forms. The list of Imams (Saints) is expanded to include Hassin-i-Sabbah and all of the Grand Masters from Kellner through McMurtry. The Old Man declares the food and drink of the Feast to be epiphanic, and leads an anthem in which he asks that his own epiphanic nature be revealed. ("Appear most awful and most mild, as it is lawful, to Thy child").
The Old Man and the Houri together perform the symbolic operation whereby the epiphanic elements of the Feast, representing Life & joy, are commingled, thus fulfilling Resurrection. He consumes the elements, integrating them into himself, and realizing himself as mazhar. The Master Assassin invites each of the brethren to do likewise in turn, as the Houri presides over the Feast. The Old Man pronounces a final benediction, and the Hall is cleared.
Fr. Sharash plays doumbek for musical accompaniment. Junior assassins are turbaned with masks across their lower faces, assassin-style; they are armed with swords. Burn damiana for incense. Adorn walls and floor with tapestries, blankets, rugs.
Information on the technology and aesthetic of the batiniya or Order of Assassins for this ceremony was derived primarily from the writings of Peter Lamborn Wilson and Henry Corbin. Besides the cosmetic adjustments, the effect of the transposition was limited to the intentionality of the ritualists. Except for the additional Saints, the ceremony was in complete conformity with Liber XV.
This Mass was performed at the Bodhi Yoga and Massage Center on December 3, 1995 E.V. Fourteen people communicated.