Book Review: One Truth and One Spirit

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Keith Readdy – One Truth and One Spirit: The Spiritual Legacy of Aleister Crowley. Ibis Press.

The release of One Truth and One Spirit comes with a great deal of anticipation and interest in the Thelemic community. No small part of this interest has been generated by some who have chosen to adopt a hard line of opposition—in the majority of cases without having seen the work itself—to the documentary evidence that Readdy previously announced would be included in this book. That the primary evidence he presents features exclusive examples of private personal correspondences between formative members of the modern expressions of the A.’.A.’. and the O.T.O., as well as unpublished documents and photographs from the O.T.O. archives (personally provided by the Outer Head of the Order), challenges Readdy’s detractors with a predicament of whether they should rationally argue their cases to the information presented with equal evidential rigour or whether they should instead resort to the flat denial of the proofs offered and ad-hominem attacks on the author. Sadly, thus far at least, some have opted for the latter option, as is evident in one of the reviews apparent on Amazon by an individual who opened his diatribe with the proclamation that he had no intention of either purchasing or reading the book. But as is always the case, those who engage with an open-mind to either inform or challenge their views on the world will find their reward.

Putting the storm of discomfort this book’s appearance may have conjured to one side for a moment, what we find in Readdy’s work is a concise overview of the history of Thelema from Crowley’s initial formation of its doctrine, including his vision of the work of the A.’.A.’. and the O.T.O., through to the battle for legitimacy in the ‘interregnum’ between Crowley’s death and the modern reorganisation of the two Orders. It is this section in particular that proves unsettling for those who disagree with the author’s assertions, not least because of the documentary proof of the implausibility of one of Thelema’s most beloved figure’s position as the primary link in the chain between Crowley’s manifestation of the A.’.A.’. and the manifestation that resulted from its gradual rebirth between the 1970s and 1990s.

Although such sensitive points will naturally be seen as contentious to some, the overall theme of One Truth and One Spirit is, as the title suggests, an appeal for unity. Readdy demonstrates well that there is a much wider and broader manifestation of the Thelemic movement in the modern world that goes beyond the boundaries of the O.T.O. and the A.’.A.’. and, despite what some critics may suggest, this is not portrayed as a bad thing, as any worldly manifestation of the Law of Thelema serves the ultimate purpose of successfully establishing the New Aeon. What may be argued from his assertions is not that the many diverse strains of Thelema available to us today are _in themselves_ illegitimate, but that they don’t have a very _specific_ legitimacy. The nature of that legitimacy is then clarified in the book’s content.

Other than the arguments made to prove the legal and spiritual legitimacy of the modern O.T.O. and A.’. A.’., the only point in this book that could be construed as at all ‘negative’ in any sense is Readdy’s dissection of the phenomenon of The Digital Magus in Chapter 12, which to me resonated very succinctly with some of the realities of 21st Century occultism. The reasons for such criticisms will no doubt already be clear to many without further need for clarification, but Readdy assertively and eloquently elucidates the obstacles that social media places in the way of those who would seek to do the Great Work but instead find themselves plunging into the pits of narcissism and self-aggrandizement.

Despite the undisguised calling-out of those who have forged their online projections in accordance with the aims of Choronzon, this chiding comes with the same call to unity in its intentions as those that are echoed in the author’s closing statements. Thelema, states Readdy, comprises of a highly diverse and comprehensive set of practices and activities that are ultimately designed to bring the practitioner spiritual freedom. The triad of Thelemic organisations, the A.’. A.’., the O.T.O. and the E.G.C., offer the means to assist with this and with the integral demand for the philosophy of Thelema to accept all of humanity in all of its diverse forms, its overall message is one that calls to end the fragmentation that has characterised the Thelemic movement since the death of its prophet so that it may mature its advance in the world and fulfil its purpose of providing humanity with the keys to its own salvation.

One Truth and One Spirit is available for pre-order on Amazon, or can be purchased now, directly from the author, here: https://www.one-truth-one-spirit.com/

XV: A Mountain

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XV KEKASIM

Servitors: Asorega, Mara, Liriol, Losimon, Lomiol, Alogil, Ragaras, Irminon, Sarasim, Ogologon, Igilon, Sigis, Gorilon, Laralos, Gesegas, Kosem, Milon, Nasi, Morilon, Ramoras, Igarag, Ekalak, Geloma, Aril, Ilekel, Lagasas, Kilik, Kokolon, Isagas, Romoron, Negen, Nolom, Nagar.

KEKASIM appears to come from Hebrew קסם (qesem), ‘magic’ at the top and right, while in MISAGER there lies the possibility of the reversal of the Hebrew רגש (regas), meaning ‘tumult,’ ‘commotion,’ ‘noise,’ ‘emotion,’ making the word REGASIM when affixed with the collectivised suffix –im. The spirit name in the central cross is that of Asorega, coming from סריג (soreg) relating to the ‘boundary wall’ that came in the form of a fence of reticulated or weaved sticks that closed the inner Temple of the Hebrews off from Gentiles or the ritually impure. The meaning of this word is the same as that of the Hebrew for ‘grid,’ ‘grill’ or ‘grate,’ which may account for the ‘grid’ pattern evident in the squares. ELISONI resembles the Greek ἐλέησον (eleison), which denotes the quality of ‘mercy.’

The Vision

The mountain revealed itself as the same high, snowy peak I saw in the vision of A Snow. What was left of my old body lay contained by the clothes I was wearing. From one of the pockets, I pulled a golden talisman that resembled an Ankh, the strap of which was like the wings of an angel, while the face of a cherub or female angel lay in the cross’s interection. I pushed the remains of the body into a narrow hole it had been lying over, sending it plummeting down a narrow shaft into the roots of the mountain. Looking down, I could see a deep, blue, light glowing far below and considered exploring it, but decided against it because of how narrow it was. Looking around the vista, I could see the bluish mountains that the previous vision of A Castle on a Mountain was set in far away to the south, and beyond it was the Lake. Looking around at the landscape I asked what the name of this strange land was and received an answer from a disembodied voice which gave an answer that sounded like Kariouna. After hearing this name, I flew into a pall of clouds that lay before me in the west and rose above them before coming to rest on a much higher peak. Only a small portion of this peak was visible above the clouds, but all was cloudless and blue in that highest place.

Then I became aware of the presence of a spirit floating in the air before me in the east, its face skull-like with the remnants of its flesh flapping in the wind, while its strands of thin hair and its ragged black cloak billowed similarly. Then another three spirits identical in appearance to the first came from the other three cardinal directions. With me in the centre, they locked their hands together around me and flew me high into the sky with them. It was explained that these high airs were their dwelling place, and they were taking me up so that I can see all of the Earth below me, revolving as they flew. When they finished moving, they told me that they were intermediaries between that which was celestial and that which was not, and each of them ruled a portion of the world and governed the boundaries between the above and the below—microcosm and macrocosm—giving power over the elements in the material or external world while granting gnosis of the spiritual or internal world.

After they explained this, I saw one of them appear with the face of a lion, but the veils the others wore were not put aside in this way. The one with the lion face informed me that the golden, angel ankh I had been given was also a dagger and instructed me to pull it out, which I did to find a short, tapering, razor-sharp blade sliding free of its golden scabbard. Then I was told that this tool was the means to ‘unlock’ the four spirits as it was also a key which should be borne to obtain their favour and that of all of the spirits under their sway. With their consent, I inserted the dagger into each of their bodies and turned it, beginning with the one in the east, then the ones in the north, west and south.

Then I was back on the ground and the Four Great Spirits were gone. I went back to the spot lower down where I had pushed my old corpse into the heart of the mountain and decided to descend to see what was down there. Once I had reached the bottom I saw that the blue light I had seen emanating from its depths came from a beautiful lagoon lit by rays of bright sunlight burning down from above. On the shore of the underground pool lay a rowing boat which, having nowhere else to go, I boarded and began to row. As I approached the centre of the small lake, a maelstrom appeared and sucked my boat into it, casting me onto the wet floor of a cave far below where the boat was smashed to pieces but I somehow remained unhurt. Then I left the cave through a fissure in the rock to find a car waiting for me outside, which I entered and drove away in.

Notes

In this vision, the nexus of ‘above’ and ‘below’ could be thought of as the same kind of ‘boundary’ suggested in the name of the spirit Asorega. The mountain or high place as the terrestrial location where the boundaries between worlds are notoriously thin and permeable is long established, with connections between mountains and ‘peak-numinosity’ being well attested as the space where the celestial and earthly realms intersect across the spectrum of the world’s myths and religions. These are evident in the experiences of Moses on Mount Sinai, of Christ at the high place Satan showed him the vision of the four corners of the Earth (and later the Mount of Transfiguration and Golgotha), in the ascent made to high places such as Gorsedd Arberth in order to enter the Otherworld in the Mabinogion, in the depictions of Mount Olympus and Mount Zaphon as the abodes of the gods in Greek and Canaanite myth and in the figurative Mountain of the Adepts, Mount Abiegni, in the Thelemic and Rosicrucian traditions.

By virtue of their revelations and cardinal attributions, the four spirits I conversed with were probably the Four Kings—Oriens, Amaymon, Paymon and Egyn—whose presence has been hinted at in many of the previous visions, with the most overt being that of Oriens in the vision of Farm Buildings, though they were also represented by four beams of light in the vision of A Castle on a Mountain. In concurrence with that vision, only one of those spirits spoke and revealed more of itself, being the one in the East, Oriens.

The name Kariouna I received, which was that given to the world I was looking upon, may have its origins in the Ancient Greek κάρυον (karyon), meaning ‘head.’ This backs up a notion I had during the vision of Wild Animals where I had the sense, from the hemispheric nature of the amphitheatre, that I was in communication with some aspect of my brain. Together, these visions suggest that this astral world I have been exploring is a product of my mind and therefore of my brain. This is certainly the case to an extent with magical tools such as scrying and astral travel and is not something I would seek to dispute. What is interesting about such experiences however is the way that certain images, words and symbols take shape in the mind, suggesting that some kind of deep-level communication is taking place, either with extraneous spiritual entities or with some impersonal and unfathomable part of the psyche which possesses the same kind of preternatural that extraneous entities or daemons would. The argument about which of the two these and other magical phenomena can be attributed to is ultimately moot and will never be one that all practitioners agree upon, but my experience with such things leads me to believe that this sort of ‘astral’ work takes place on the threshold; the intersection of what is self and what is not-self. It is self-communication, yes, but it also takes place both at and beyond the borders of self, in a liminal area where other intelligences have influence over the contents of the unconscious mind which in turn comes to present awareness through the media of the personal psyche.

That the answer κάρυον, ‘head,’ I was given to my question about the nature of this world came in an ancient language I have no great knowledge of, while others have come in Hebrew and Latin or Kabbalistic, mythological or other symbolic correspondences, appears to provide proof that it is not just ourselves we are communicating with when we work with such things. Nor can it be some unexplainable process of depth-psychology that is being experienced unless such unaccountable knowledge can be said to be intrinsic to one’s psyche through theoretical constructs such as the collective unconscious or morphic fields. Ultimately then, I would postulate that the ‘liminal’ space such experiences take place in is that of the intersection between self and not-self and represents the same kind of boundary or veil between one ‘realm’ and another—one worldly and functional, the other invisible and mysterious—that the name Asorega and the Soreg stone of the ancient Jewish Temple represent.

Aside from the words and names already explored above, names with some relevance to this vision include: Sarasim, meaning ‘deep roots’ which relates to the deep cavern beneath the mountain; Mara, whose name relates to caves and grottoes and therefore ties in with the ‘deep roots’ of Sarasim; Nagar, meaning ‘fluid’ or ‘liquid,’ which relates to the lagoon in that grotto; Igarag, whose name pertains to the frost and cold associated with the upper reaches of the mountain; and Nolom, from the Hebrew נעלם (nolom) meaning ‘hidden’ or ‘concealed.’