Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
The Warden’s public lecture in August, Mysteries of the Sun, was about the attainment of Tiphereth on the Tree of Life. The following is an excerpt from this.
Working the Western Mysteries on the plan of the Tree of Life looks simple. You just keep heading upwards, till at the Crown of the Tree you find yourself looking into a cosmic Nothingness, and declare “I won!”
The lowest four sephiroth are relatively easy to describe and experience, and I’ve known scores of people who’ve worked through them in one fashion or another. And the three topmost sephiroth are very difficult to grasp yet aren’t complex: they’re simply part of a wholly different order of things to what we usually consider to be reality.
The oddity comes in the middle, at Tiphereth, the apparently simple and straightforward Solar sephirah. In the last lecture, I was speaking on the two paths that lead up into it from the sides, Nun and Ayin, attributed to the Tarot cards of Death and the Devil. They involve a breaking down of our previous ideas and, in particular, our previous self-concepts. To be able to pass up the direct connecting path of Samekh (Temperance or Art) to Tiphereth, we must deal with our own inner opponent, the Devil of fear, antipathy, laziness and the loss of comfortable ideas about the ‘niceness’ of spiritual attainment; and we also have to deal with the Death of a conception of the Sacred and of the worthily lived life that is incomplete and, ultimately, not sacred enough for the inner Divine Spark to ignite full-on.
These notions account, in part, for occultism’s bad name. If occultists don’t embrace the loving God of the Abrahamic traditions, then it’s easy to conclude we’re merely wallowing in the darker gutters, or at least the murkier sideroads, of spiritual striving.
This is actually a relatively recent recent development, since an earlier generation of Christian writers, at least, embraced the dark, irrational side of the Godhead. They could also cite their own scriptures: about the mean vengeful God of the Passover in Egypt, who hardened Pharaoh’s heart every time the old guy was tempted to give the Hebrews a break; or the Book of Job, about a devout man who becomes the butt of an extended ordeal of deprivation. Or the fact the originator of the Christian dispensation was tortured to death.
In our tradition we focus on a continuum, and see the influx of the Divine, the intrusion of what could be called the Godhead, as an ego- and values-quashing process. This later begins to sort itself out. The sorting out involves the flattening or at least marginalising of the traditional ego-self. The catch, the trick – the Art – is learning to allow this to happen, yet remaining causative.
The Book of the Law, the primary text of Thelema, gives us the clues in its Third Chapter. But we have to go through this experientially: we need to put it together, each of us for ourselves, with only partial assistance from Aleister Crowley’s commentaries on the Book, or those of other Adepts.
The First Chapter presents a beatific neo-Buddhism: Nuit, the undivided, continuous, infinite one of heaven. The Second Chapter presents a form of monism, a distinct monad or aware point relating to that Infinity, which the Book calls Hadit.
The Third Chapter brings us to dualism: a dualistic Sun-god, Heru-Ra-Ha, divided into a silent form, Hoor-Paar-Kraat (aka Harpocrates) and Ra-Hoor-Khuit, his extrovert and warrior-like brother. “Now let it be first understood I am a god of War and of Vengeance,” he declares. (III, 3). “I shall deal hardly with them.” This seems like a throwback to the militant Jehovah of the Old Testament, destroying Pharaoh in the crossing of the Red Sea, or bringing down the walls of Jericho; or of Allah’s hordes surging across North Africa and into Spain 12 centuries ago.
But with the Book, we always need to look a level or two – or three – beyond the obvious. We can transfer our inner confusions and divisions onto the outer world, or we can deal with those personal Death and Devil-forces within.
The name Tiphereth is usually translated into English as Beauty, and the perspective of someone who is centred in Tiphereth is a beautiful one. Such people can be maddening, because they often refuse to join mass condemnations of unpopular people or groups. They can seem hyper-tolerant, yet they also know what’s going on around them. Mass-mindedness doesn’t like breakaways, so the first reward for such breaking away is ostracism, or maybe subtle condemnation by your outer circle of acquaintances.
But the key thing, the critical shift, is that entry into Tiphereth is marked by an inner opening to a private Light, one that is both transpersonal and profoundly intimate.
It requires a passivity, a quieting of the mind-engines and of all the moralistic and rationalistic noise they make. It also requires full attention off the needs of the personal self. If all goes well at the crisis phase, the mundane, egoic self is sidelined for a time.
The actual and the ceremonial entry into Tiphereth is just a marker, like passing through customs and immigration when you’re visiting a foreign country. You’re in, but all you see for now is a baggage reclaim area and the glass and concrete box of an airport. You have to travel further, and make explorations on your own, to find what’s to be seen and appreciated.
And more important perhaps, you need to watch for what the new country is willing to show you, seemingly of its own volition.
Ra-Hoor-Khuit comes out of nowhere – literally. His mother is Nuit, the goddess of infinite space, the circumference which is nowhere; and his father is the ever-active point, the centre that is everywhere. He is what happens when the two combine ecstatically: energy, vision, raw power and light. He is (III: 61-62), ” the God enthroned in Ra’s seat, lightening the girders of the soul.
To Me do ye reverence! to me come ye through tribulation of ordeal, which is bliss.”
And (III, 46):
” I will bring you to victory & joy: I will be at your arms in battle & ye shall delight to slay. Success is your proof; courage is your armour; go on, go on, in my strength; & ye shall turn not back for any!”
He is on onward sweeping, a rushing force, reborn and vital from moment to moment. He doesn’t stop, for he is irresistible. He encompasses any conceivable resistance within himself, using it as he needs. He is not about setting us ordeals or causing us to suffer, because we do that by setting up resistance within ourselves. To be out of synch with the vital life-force of the Universe is to suffer. Yet grasping this brings us to the realisation that he is there all along; hence bliss is the same thing as the tribulation of ordeal.
Ra-Hoor-Khuit exists on a plane where there is no need for morning coffee.
This is the paradox of Tiphereth. We struggle to calm and steady ourselves so that we can enter into this initiation – and it is an initiation, not just a partial or incremental shift in our development. When it’s done, there is a clear sense of an influx of vitality and enthusiasm. Recent initiates of Tiphereth are usually a little high on themselves, though usually this passes like any high. The continuing struggles of living a sane and productive life reassert themselves, and in time, Adeptship starts its process of maturation. There is no manual for this, no plotted course to follow. We just have to work towards – and, paradoxically, with – our own Light, our own Ra-Hoor-Khuit.
Love is the law, love under will,