The Scarlet Letter
And now, after so long a while, the Angel lifts me, and takes me from the roam, and sets me in a little chamber where is another Angel like a fair youth in shining garments, who makes me partake of the sacraments; bread, that is labour; and fire, that is wit; and a rose, that is sin; and wine, that is death.
—Liber 418, 18th Aethyr
And the Angel sayeth: Verily is the Pyramid a Temple of Initiation. Verily
also is it a tomb.
When thou shalt know me, 0 thou empty God, my little flame shall utterly
expire in thy great N.O.X.
In Crowley's "A Comment On The Natures of the Aethyrs" at the end of Liber 418, The Vision and the Voice, concerning the 18th Aethyr he writes sparsely: "The Vault of preparation for the Ceremony of M.T. (Magister Templi). The Veil is the Crucifixion, symbol of the dead Aeon. The first ordeal is undergone." It is in ZEN therefore, that the aspirant receives a "preliminary hearing," if you will, and is prepared and fortified for the encounter with the H.G.A. This initial "premortis" ordeal asks of the aspirant a great deal in lieu of "entrance" or "passage." A reverent, one might say even pious attitude, temperament and iron-willed intent are necessary attributes for any who would enter this holy place of initiation.
ZEN contains the Vault of the Adepts, wherein is concealed the Pastos and the L.V.X. This Vault is also a Tomb, and the Pyramidal Chamber of Annihilation. The mysteries of the Phallus, and the Hanged and Crucified Man are stored inside under cover of the black veiled Light of the Pastos. Within the vault of ZEN the candidate's "lust for result" is duly tested on all planes of being. Though wholly One in essence, within the 18th Aethyr, they are three, as are all true and genuine ordeals of initiation: the desire (or lust) of light; the desire of life, and the desire of love. These represent the unpurified "thorns" or Sankharas (one's tendencies) which must be dissolved thoroughly (all that one has and all that one is) before entering the Chamber of Annihilation as a Master of the Temple. There is only one purpose in exploring ZEN, after all is said and done, and that is to achieve Nuit, or the comprehension of the continuity of consciousness. The Magician seeks to become the Master (NEMO, who is NOT) and so learn the true secret of the Arte Royale: alchemical transmutation.
The 18th Aethyr is a strangely appealing, though ultimatedly deceptive, "feast of the aethyrs." As such, if one be properly prepared in mind and body, it can serve as a sort of aethyric genius loci through which one might learn the true unity of all correspondences, so ensuring the "the holy word" shall never be "blasphemed."
One key towards preparing for annihilation can be found in the text of Crowley's vision of ZEN itself, the key of the sacraments. These are four-fold in nature, and represent the four elements (bread = earth; wit = fire; rose/sin = air; wine/ death=water). In Crowley's footnote on these oblations he compares them to the various somatic constituents of one's being, i.e. understanding, intuition, etc, as well. I was inspired by this passage in ZEN in particular because it seemed to me to exhibit some much needed communal light and sharing in a place otherwise dark, fearful, and foreboding. Prior to visiting ZEN for my first time, I decided to sit down and compose what I later christened, "The Elemental Orations." Opening with (what I felt to be) appropriate and relevant passages from Liber Legis and Liber XV, I then meditated upon the essence of each element, resulting in an almost immediate on-rush of inspiration. In fact each of the orations practically wrote themselves. I composed and revised the entire "feast" during the course of an afternoon. This was unusual for me, because so-called "transmitted" or "channeled" writings have always come slowly and methodically to me over the course of long study, ritual, and meditation.
Before presenting these little devotionals, I must conclude the introductory "speech" with an interesting (to me) footnote of my own regarding the mysteries of ZEN. In the Liber 418 text, the "Crucified One" is not a man but an enormous bat. There is no correspondence in 777 for bats, but the closest animal grouping falls under the number 12, i.e., swallow, ibis, fish (all fast moving critters). Now Atu XII is the Hanged Man, whoses arcana of Light and Darkness can be explored in the 18th Aethyr. However, this bat could be the Devil with its "...two little children". Then again these children are "thieves" linking them directly to a Mercurial nature. Crowley "discovered" during his Paris Workings the parallel between Christ and Mercury the waters and the fishes, etc. All good and sound, yet, the Mountain/Pyramid symbolism in the text points clearly towards a more Solar, Rosicrucian correspondence. This is backed up further by the Vault/Pastos/Diamond/Cube imagery which sug gest a union between Solar and Mercurial forces via Our Lady Babalon (whose number is 77). In the end (as at the beginning) nothing exists except by virtue of the lust of Harlot Babalon, unto whom we must give every last drop of our blood into the Cup of her Fornications in order to become as one with the Life Universal. In ZEN, we get a foretaste of this last and "greatest" sacrifice and a glimpse of its ritual sacraments and oblations. No serious aspirant or initiate can afford to avoid this enigmatic Aethyr for long. Sooner or later, the "hour" shall arrive. It is my hope these "prayers" may provide a smidgen of succour and comfort to those weary pilgrims whose time, at last, is at hand.
Procul, 0 procul Este Profani
AL I:4: "Every number is infinite; there is no difference."
AL I:22: "Bind nothing! Let there be no difference made among you between any one thing and any other thing; for thereby there cometh hurt."
AL I:26: "And the sign shall be my ecstacy, the consciousness of the continuity of existence, the omnipresence of my body"
AL I:54: "Change not so much the style of a letter; for behold! Thou, o prophet, shalt not behold all these mysteries hidden therein."
AL II:35: "Now let the rituals be performed with joy and beauty!"
AL II:36: "There are rituals for the elements and feasts of the times."
AL III:48: "Now this mystery of the letters is done, and I want to go to the holier place."
"Mother of fertility on whose breast lieth water, whose cheek is caressed by air, and in whose heart is the sun's fire, womb of all life, recurring grace of seasons, answer favorably the prayer of labour, and to pastors and husbandmen be thou propitious."
"And now the Feast of the Elements is done. May all who have shared in its communion be triply blessed. So mote it be."