Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
How shall I answer the foolish man? In no way shall he come to the Identity of Thee! (Liber LXV, Cap III, v. 57)
Aleister Crowley famously observed of the Great Work: “Let me declare this Work under this title: ‘The obtaining of the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel,’ because the theory implied in these words is so patently absurd that only simpletons would waste much time in analysing it. It would be accepted as a convention, and no one would incur the grave danger of building a philosophical system upon it.” In another context, he noted, “Because since all theories of the universe are absurd it is better to talk in the language of one which is patently absurd, so as to mortify the metaphysical man.”
But as history shows, and a hundred metaphysical bloggers have confirmed, that wasn’t what happened. The acronyms K&C and HGA are bandied about and misinterpreted all over the place. In particular, if you come across an online discussion of the topic, note how many red herrings and diminutions of the central idea are rife among the community of seekers and would-be magicians. Almost any over-the-top experience of insight may be claimed as K&C, and any stream of intuition held up as the active presence of the HGA.
The Beast never precisely defined either the K&C or the HGA. For a man given to lengthy screeds, that could have been hard. But he knew clearly that just what the HGA is can’t be put into meaningful words. The Knowledge and Conversation is anything but information and messages, though it might include these things: and saying more than that leads into semantic minefields. As the Vedantists found with their “Not this, not that,” negative language is easier to use.
That said, Crowley’s commentaries on Liber LXV are a goldmine of information on the complexity and the totality of the experience. I have a friend who insists that the HGA is, simply, God. I cringe at the term because of its horrendous cultural baggage, while respecting that it comes as close as anything in the English language to what Crowley (and the Abramelin text from which he derived it) apparently intended. AC also notes that synonyms could include the Jechidah (Yechidah) of the Qabalists, the Adi-Buddha, the Genius, the Logos, or Adonai. But using any of these in turn begs so many questions that we end up behind the point where we started.
The Liber LXV comments, while cogent, look at the subject from five different elementary angles, and often seem to contradict each other in their different sections. Only a student who grasps the necessity for such differentiation will appreciate what Crowley is saying.
In the end, trying to define these things is like trying to pour a pitcher of beer into a shot-glass. Words can’t contain the concepts involved. That doesn’t prevent people from trying, obviously, but the effort is doomed to disappointing results.
As the whole business begins to become marginally clearer through the fog of human need, desire and fear, the scope of the enterprise becomes clearer. We find ourselves looking both at the source of all our fears as well as the redemptive spirit. And at that point, we can begin to see that maybe it’s the HGA that is the one defining us.
Love is the law, love under will,