Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
Often, I have a discussion with someone about how the HGA is their ‘higher self,’ or some other, more complete expression of their nature than their regular personality. Once a few insecurities and problems are swept away, I’m told, or they learn the secret Words of Power being kept unfairly hidden by us people in the mystery schools, all will be well, and the glory of this higher self will flame through the known universe.
The vehemence of some of the discussions surprises me, and makes me wish people would read actually Crowley on the topic. But I also understand that the problem, more often than not, is one of confusing the planes.
The human being that has fulfilled all the essential tasks of an Adept, and has crossed the Abyss, can truly come to view the Holy Guardian Angel as the essence of that which he or she comprehends as him/herself. But that’s the catch – only someone who has gone that far into the mysteries of human identity and its nature – understands the issue. There are various ways of putting this into words, all of them awkward, for everyone finds a different vocabulary to describe the process. Crowley was insistent that each aspirant should allow his or her own HGA to guide the process, especially in its more advanced stages, because of this.
The equally popular idea that the HGA is our essential self – Hadit, the ‘ubiquitous point of view’ to quote the Beast’s favoured phrase – is half right. But in this game, half right is also half wrong. Hadit, the self’s assumed core, needs to explore all the essential possibilities of its own existence: its likes, loves, dislikes and hates, experiences, relationships (especially those!), visions and aspirations, loathings and desperations, blocks, fears and frustrations. All this, for each Hadit, will be Nuit, the concept of the cosmic All. Hadit, says The Book of the Law, needs to “follow the love of Nu in the star-lit heaven,” (II, v.76). Or, more succinctly, “To me! To me!” (I, 65). That is, self-regard here is futile and counter-productive.
While this process of following Nu is lifelong, its elementary constituents are examined through the grade or degree process taught in mystery schools, which offers an overview of the main areas of one’s own activity. But the initial experiences of union with Nuit occur in deepening stages, with intermittent periods of retreat and feeling lost. No aspirant should expect to attain deep linkage fast or easily, since some phases of this process will produce more resistance and fear than others.
Now, once the union has occurred, the tertium quid – a third thing – emerges. This is the ‘child’ of Hadit-father and Nuit-mother, whom we encounter as Ra-Hoor Khuit, the subject of Chapter III of The Book of the Law. He emerges out of the fusion, and while we can visualise and imagine his nature beforehand (Liber Resh is about working towards this), we can’t truly appreciate what it is until we have it. It won’t manifest in a truly meaningful manner simply because we invoke or command it.
This process might look like it’s one of accretion: a steady building up of wisdom and comprehension. The reality is that it’s one of subtraction, as we progressively give up our identification with deeper and wider swathes of what we think is our actual self. The famous phrase, “nor do I demand aught in sacrifice,” (I, 58) is a true one, but it refers to the fundamental parts of ourselves, not necessarily to transient incidentals. If (say) hours of video-gaming, excessive amounts of alcohol or hurtful ways of relating to others pose obstacles to our growth, then these things need to go so that the vital urges that they’re allowing through only in a distorted form can correct themselves. Always, the aim is to reach effectively complete knowledge of our own nature and yearnings and the inner knots that restrict them.
There are essays available online by people who think they’ve cracked “what Crowley meant” by the HGA. There are others by people claiming the whole business is overblown and one only needs to embark on a course of reckless self-endangerment (or annoying the neighbours) to overcome all obstacles to gnosis.
In reality, it comes as it comes, when it comes, and while working in a mystery school hastens the process, on its own this can’t produce a final, definitive result. That which we call the HGA, which is concealed and revealed in this Aeon under the veil of Horus the eternally borning child, will not present itself to consciousness until the time of its own choosing. To confuse its agenda with our own, and to decide it is another level of what we know of as our own selves, is to muddle the actuality existing on its own plane, with the plane(s) with which we’re familiar.
Some people I say this to become either hurt or angry. We who have the gnosis or some part of it (I’m told) are keeping it for ourselves, and refusing to share it. Considering how much trouble we take to provide instruction and training for those willing to undergo it, this can seem like a mean-spirited rejoinder. But the whole point is that the Knowledge and Conversation is an experience that truly rewards the person who has striven for it, and who can then use it to advance, in time, to the threshold of deep Understanding. Then the notion of the HGA as the ultimate level, the final non-layer of the onion of self, becomes more meaningful, because the Adept has realised how much it can’t be described or defined, and just accepts it as it is.
To get to this point, it’s vital to see the HGA not as a part of yourself, nor even yourself as a part of it. You just have to concede that it exists and operates on its own plane, and when you get there, you’ll know what that means.
“We pose Life with the question Why? and the first answer is: To obtain the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel,” explains Crowley in The Soldier and the Hunchback. “To attach meaning to this statement we must obtain that Knowledge and Conversation: and when we have done that, we may proceed to the next Question. It is no good asking it now.”
“There is division hither homeward,” cautions The Book of the Law (III, v. 2); “there is a word not known. Spelling is defunct; all is not aught. Beware! Hold! Raise the spell of Ra-Hoor-Khuit!”
Accept that this division is how things are, and that it truly does point “homeward,” and you’ll find raising the spell becomes easier. Or at the worst, its difficulties become easier to comprehend.
Love is the law, love under will,