by Soror Ana La Ahad
Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
“None, breathed the light, faint & faery, of the stars, and two. For I am divided for love’s sake, for the chance of union. This is the creation of the world, that the pain of division is as nothing, and the joy of dissolution all.”Liber AL I:29-30
Before the beginning, there was Nothing. In the beginning, Nothing became Two – the original split between subject and object. The original Perfect Naught that is beyond all names but we call Nuit divided Herself into the multiplicity of forms that we know as our consciousness of the world. Within that multitude of impressions there is the ultimate divide between self and not-self, microcosm and macrocosm, me versus the world.
The first task of the Aspirant to the Great Work is the operation of Solve, the dissolution by Love. We must “unite by thine art so that all disappear” but it is no simple or single task. We must work our way up the ladder of opposites, from the most material to the most rarified. We start in the most “fallen” form of duality, and with our steps toward the Crown we rarify our perception of the Self and the Other. There is an ascending ladder of ever-increasingly clear dualities, the summit of which is the Secret Self.
We begin with the duality of Self vs World – the “profane”, beyond even the outer court. Our sense of self is static and fragile. The self-identity is formed of attachments to or identifications with body, family, occupation, fame, power and other similar pursuits. Theirs is a lot described by Shakespeare: “Life … is a tale Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing.” The quintessential feature is an opposition of Self versus Not-Self: a rigid sense of self at conflict with a hostile world. It is War (Atu XVI, the lowest of the horizontal paths on the Tree); the war of opposites known as existence.
“The price of existence is eternal warfare.”Aleister Crowley, The Book of Lies, chapter 80 (the value of Peh, attributed to Atu XVI)
This is the world of the Man of Earth – where duality means opposition, self against the world. If we persist in our Devotion, if we go deeper into meditation, the light breaks up the darkness and stillness. This gives way to the Lover where life becomes the dance between Angel and Adept. Both self and other have been elevated, another rung on the ladder… The mundane has been pierced thru and seen as divine, the world or non-Ego as an expression of God. The soul has been somewhat cleansed of its impure vision, and sees itself no longer as the static identity but a dynamic spark of light whose nature is To Go.
Is not the starry heaven shaken as a leaf at the tremulous rapture of your love? Am not I the flying spark of light whirled away by the great wind of your perfection?Liber LXV V:2
Its method is love under will as every moment is a union of Adept with the Angel, each experience an expression of that union. Existence gives us energy and delight when we reach this level, seeing each experience as one actual crystallization of divine Joy among infinite potentialities.
“And this is the reason of existence, that in this dance which is delight, there must needs be both the god and the adept.”Aleister Crowley, The Vision & the Voice, Aethyr #20
This is the path of Teth, the snake of Joy loosed from the love of opposites. The opposites have in fact become complements, no longer in War but male interlocked with female, lower interlocked with higher, self interlocked with world. This joy is the hallmark of the Adept, and joy experienced is itself the manifest presence of the divine.
When the union becomes so perfect the love and light of Lovers must plunge into the ultimate abyss of darkness for the next step which is the Last. No attachment to health, wealth, or love may make it through this Abyss; there is no personal identity, nor sense of self as separate from the other. The mirror is cleaned so perfectly there is no difference: The pure soul to God like Artemis to Pan.
“The Perfect and the Perfect are one Perfect and not two; nay, are none!”Liber AL vel Legis I:45
“Thou art That and That am I…” and so “I am the Truth”. A Master arises that transcends opposites, a new Gardener to tend a new field. Their duty is to irrigate the gardens with their living water of Truth and to take their delight among the multitudes: our Hermits are aflame with the lust of experience in beds of purple rather than weak and hidden in a cave.
And with this, all is ever as it was though we look upon the world with clearer sight. The flesh profiteth nothing; the mind profiteth nothing… but the Holy Spirit revels afresh in a new incarnation. Zero has become Two once more, and our Dance continues ever more.
As the Master Therion has said: “Initiation means the Journey Inwards: nothing is changed or can be changed; but all is trulier understood with every step.”
Love is the law, love under will.
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2 thoughts on “Thelema as the Dance of Subject and Object”
Soror Ana La Ahad,
I am glad you have addressed the three horizontal paths on the Tree of Life in this sincerely written article.
May I add a couple of points? In Crowley’s diaries, he mentioned that, in his view, odd numbers are female and even numbers are male. (It is the other way around in Chinese numerology.)
Atu XVI The Tower is certainly Mars, god of war, but it is also bethel, the House of God, a church or temple. Hod, Mercury, views ideas analytically, as objects separate from their context. Netzach, Venus, views ideas as defined by their context and largely meaningless out of context. The boy and girl clash in the way they see the world, getting up in their towers of ego, each hurting because they do not feel seen or heard by the other. They are just seeing the same world with different intellectual frameworks. When they make love, their egos become irrelevant, they share communion in the temple of their love. Atu XVI is both war and peace, tower and temple.
Atu XI Lust is Leo, which is ruled by the Sun. This is a more mature love. Geburah is a female expression of Mars, mother bear protecting her cubs, where the rubber meets the road. Chesed is Jovial, the wise man who sees beauty in the dance of life. Their love brings both to balance and deep connection.
Atu III The Empress is Venus, goddess of love, but also alchemical Salt. Alchemical Salt is the power of manifestation, and one of the three ‘fours’ in the secret fourfold word. (It is tragic that alchemical Salt is depreciated in old-aeon culture, for “in…the Scarlet Woman is ALL power given.) This is a deeper love, a love in which the egos are irrelevant and the distinction between self and not-self is not meaningful.
Thank you for quoting one of my favourite lines from Little Essays Toward Truth, on Mastery, “Initiation means the Journey Inwards: nothing is changed or can be changed; but all is trulier understood with every step.” Malkuth is outermost and Kether is innermost. The challenge for most people is to determine which way is inwards. Few manage to win through the Ordeal X to arrive at the perspective at Yesod, the point of view of the Zelator, who is an adept.
The pattern of the three horizontal paths, which as you point out sum to 93 by their letter values (4 + 9 + 80 = 93) is among my very favourite stories in the Tree of Life. Thank you for bringing it forward.