Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
Now let it be first understood that I am a god of War and of Vengeance. I shall deal hardly with them. (The Book of the Law, Ch. 3, v. 3).
Who or what are ‘them?’ Does it refer to the ‘spelling’ and the ‘all’ that is not aught in the previous verse? Or to any and all who oppose Ra-Hoor-Khuit?
Horus has always been a problematic archetypal figure to me, despite 20 years of working with Him, directly in ritual or less directly with the 93 current overall. The previous post, Forwards instead of backwards, was an attempt to look at this.
Jesus Christ is a deep, complex and nuanced figure. If we look to the initiates – Meister Eckhart, John of the Cross, Soren Kierkegaard and many others – we find Him presented by them as a being that vastly transcends the numerically popular but spiritually bankrupt Jesus of the fundamentalists. Such mystics reached out of their own time and places to something eternal and beyond what was convenient for rabble-rousing, money-raising, or justifying of repressive laws that benefited the status quo and the powerful people who liked it. Crowley was looking for such a Christ when he investigated the Celtic Church before joining the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. (See The Confessions, Ch. 13 and 14). Knowledge and Conversation is always elusive, whatever the creed that provides the seeker’s context.
The Ra-Hoor-Khuit to whom he was introduced by the Book he received in 1904 was a god of light and fire, ecstasy and surging energy, and at first he didn’t know what to make of it. And while I accept the obvious ascendancy in world affairs of this Horus, with his silent twin Hoor-paar-kraat (or Heru-pa-kraath or Hoor-pa-kraat – all three spellings are given), I have never felt able to match their complementary dualities to the completeness of the Christ archetype of the past Aeon. While he says little in his writings about his personal struggles with the Book, I suspect Crowley felt the same, at least until Capt. Fuller’s enthusiasm prodded him to change his mind.
If Christ can be parodied as a weak, ineffectual victim, then Ra-Hoor-Khuit can be lampooned as the sacred equivalent of blunt force trauma. On the surface, He is the embodiment of the War and Vengeance in the verse quoted above. Given the mass slaughters that happened in the half-century after the Book’s publication (the death-rate from global warfare has actually dropped since then), this isn’t a wrong-headed interpretation.
Yet there has to be more, surely, to the prototype for the new Aeon? Crowley’s own commentaries on the third Chapter are sparser than those on the first two, and he admits that he was still trying to understand it properly late in life.
It’s worth referring here to James Eshelman’s published commentaries on the Book, since he makes a valiant effort to crack Chapter Three. (see http://aumha.org/arcane/ccxx.htm ). I am fascinated by his suggestion that ‘war’ is an anagram of ‘aur,’ the Hebrew word for light (just as ‘LVX’ is an anagram of LXV or 65, the enumeration of Adonai, the HGA), without being entirely persuaded by it. I can only say I would like it to be so, since it would solve a lot of the mystery of this Chapter.
His observation that “By mythic archetype I recognize that Horus, son of Osiris, was the avenger of his father’s murder,” is more easily convincing. It fits neatly with the well-known myth. And we can perhaps extend the idea of ‘vengeance’ to include afflicting those who captured the Christ-essence and bottled it up in a socially acceptable and power-elite-sustaining form. Whatever: at this point in time, the individual questor has to follow the clues in terms of that individual quest. (Eshelman, to be fair, intended nothing more by offering his own reflections on the Book).
In finding Horus problematic, I’m not objecting to the energy or violence per se. It is liberating in a mundane and external sense; and directed in a focused beam of force, as indicated by replacing the Star/Aquarius) on the Tree of Life with the fiery Emperor of Aries, it becomes inwardly freeing as well. Sacred fire is needed more than ever now, to push past the mundane dross and open up inner channels. The spiritual quest of this Aeon requires a willingness to get past our mental inertia, regardless of the difficulties of everyday life and the distractions of an increasingly unstable and frightening world.
But because Horus is a Child archetype, He seems at times too simple and unsubtle. The fact that His more ‘mystical’ twin, Hoor-paar-kraat, is also a Child doesn’t help a lot. In addition, the paradoxes of a two-in-one god pose their own difficulties, as Crowley’s observations on the Lovers card in The Book of Thoth indicate.
I assume that as time goes by, and there are more Thelemic Adepts, the Horus archetype will become better understood, just as we will all integrate better with its energies and qualities. And in posting this piece, I’m aware that there are existing explanations for much of what I describe: I’m just not convinced by them. While most people find Nuit easy to grasp, and Hadit (while seemingly crude) quite simple in His essence and modus operandi, the twin god Heru-Ra-Ha poses riddles, both directly in His chapter (see vv. 46 or 74), and by His intrinsic nature, and they’re not easily resolved. The resolution can only come on an individual basis, for He is the template of access to the HGA in this Aeon.
I suggest two things here, while pointing out that a suggestion is always tentative. One is that the ‘them’ of v. 3 is in fact all the disowned or projected parts of ourselves. These need to be dealt with ‘hardly’ – that is, without self-pity, and to be reintegrated back to their source within ourselves.
The other is that, while the linguistic connection is historically iffy, as other occultists have observed, Hoor/Horus and Hermes share a similar first syllable. In the Paris Working (Ch. 74 of The Confessions), Crowley was introduced to the parallels between the Christ and Mercury, which he claimed was then an entirely new concept to him. Mercury/Thoth/Hermes, while by no means a warrior deity, is highly decisive in his mode of working. Wisdom in general, and the utterance of the Word, are Hermes’ prerogatives; and Crowley was enjoined to comment on the Book “by the wisdom of Ra-Hoor-Khuit.” (I, v. 36).
I suspect that at least some of the answers to what I see as the problem of Heruology might be found by looking at the correspondences of Hermes with Horus in this Aeon. However much the presiding deity of the Aeons changes, Thoth-Hermes is unlikely to be far from that seat in the East.
Love is the law, love under will.