☉︎ in 28° Scorpio : ☽︎ in 17° Gemini : Anno Vvii
Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
To my Unknown Friend: Greeting and health.
I am fond of thought experiments. That might be an understatement, actually. I adore them. I find that using thought experiments allows for so many of us to explore various real world scenarios, both possible and fantastic, without the dread accusations of creating dogma where none is to be found.
Once upon a time, I played with the thought experiment of what it would take to recreate Thelema from the ashes of a major world event of utmost devastation. If the world imploded tomorrow, what would we need to ensure the continuity of Thelema into the new world, to ensure the integrity of the current aeon and the need for survival from cultural erasure.
A canon, ultimately, is really nothing more than a collection of texts suitable for the study of a consistent worldview. Deep diving into Jewish, Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, and Islamic canons we find a consistency of theme(s) and message. The question is always about what to include—and answering critics who think something nefarious is going on if there is a personal favorite missing from the collection (which is rarely the case once deeper study is involved).
It all comes down to a question of essentials. There is a measure of subjectivity, certainly, but it requires that care be given to the specifics of what it takes to create a foundational canon. I took the time to explore the creation of the Christian canon (New Testament), as convoluted as it was, and the parameters that ultimately were used to finalize the original canon and several subsequent changes thereafter. Ultimately, there are four essentials to the creation of the biblical canon that I think stand out as a model to explore. All four criterion have to be met for a text to be included in a canon.
First, anything included in a canon should be a product of a first generation Thelemite. The Christians call this ‘Apostolic Origin,’ meaning that a text had to come from one of the original apostles or their companions. For my own purposes, I expanded this out to include second generation Thelemites but, for the moment, did not find any that met the other criteria for inclusion. As such, my current outline only includes Crowley, C. S. Jones, and Captain Fuller. Future iterations may expand from there. (I have thoughts for an Apocrypha, of sorts, that would include Thelemic adjacent texts like Liber 49 from Jack Parsons, and others.)
Second, there needs to be universal acceptance of a text slated for inclusion in a canon. In examining the past, especially with Christianity, I find this to be an amusing criterion—and yet it makes sense. Universal, in this context, doesn’t mean that every single person is accepting of any given text, but that there is a general sense of universality to a particular text. While I might argue in another place that only Liber AL vel Legis finds universal acceptance, I recognize that even some of the more personally inspired texts of Crowley’s find a universal acceptance if only through its publication cycle from Crowley to the modern O.T.O.
Third, a there needs to be a liturgical use for the text. This one is tricky. What exactly does that mean? It could be anything from a publicly read text to ritual forms. I decided that plenty of Crowley’s work should be included in this category but normally isn’t not because it fails the test but from lack of exposure and use in our greater community. But I also made decisions based on the inclusion of the other criterion as a whole rather than just one category or another.
Fourth, the text remains within a larger cycle of doctrine that the message of the Law of Thelema is revealing to the world-at-large. This is also complicated. How is that cycle determine? What is included and not included?
Keeping in mind that I was looking for (a) what a minimal canon would look like, what would be needed to ensure the survivability of Thelema in a post-catastrophic world, (b) the broadest content that speaks to the human condition, and (c) the widest possible acceptance of a selection of texts while keeping the deepest amount of consistent doctrine, allow me to present one version, my version, of a canon for study.
This version is based on (what I thought was) a cool periodic table design concept used for the Christian Bible. I like the way it was laid out, appealed to a different sense in a creative manner, and wasn’t a stuffy presentation.
Here is a more detailed version of my logic. I certainly don’t expect everyone to agree with me, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how many have told me this makes sense and they’d use such a tome if proofed up and printed. I think I’d like to revisit it and expand it further—maybe out to 65 texts—before committing to such a project. Not that this hasn’t been sitting around for nearly two decades. In any case, here we go …
Book One: The Visions
- Liber Tzaddi vel Hamus Hermeticus Sub Figura XC
- Liber Cordis Cincti Serpente Sub Figura LXV
- Liber Liberi vel Lapidus Lazuli, … Sub Figura VII
- Liber AL vel Legis sub Figura CCXX / sub Figura XXXI
- Liber Trigrammaton Sub Figura XXVII
- Vel Ararita Sub Figura DLXX
- Liber Porta Lucis Sub Figura X
These first seven texts—The Heptateuch—are in the order they are released to adherents of the A∴A∴. Not that I place any specific importance on the Order itself outside of the source of the Law, but I find there is a very good reason for this order.
Respectively, these tests offer a view of (1) The Calling to Initiation, (2) The First Crisis of the Journey, (3) The Second Crisis of the Journey, (4) The Law of the World, (5) The Narrative of Creation, (6) The Revelation (Apocalypse) of Unity and Beyond, and (7) The Sending Forth of the Master.
The Vision and The Voice
We add to Book One, Liber XXX Aerum vel Saecvli Sub Figura CCCCXVIII, commonly known as The Vision and The Voice. This is the Prophet’s Ecstatic Cosmological Vision. It is authoritatively expository and initiatory, though personal to the prophet himself. It is very much a view of the change of the previous aeon to the current aeon from the perspective of the previous aeon. Its symbology is primarily that of the previous aeon. This does not take away from its importance, but it does allow for some perspective.
Book Two: The Voices
- Thirty-one Hymns to the Star Goddess
- Hymns to the Great Gods of Heaven
- The Treasure-House of Images
- The Ship
With The Poetics, these are three sets of two poems each category, respectively, of Initiatory poems, Psalmic poems, and Liturgical poems.
- The Chymical Jousting of Brother Perardua
- The High History of Good Sir Palamedes
- The Wake World
These three allegories are instructional in nature. These represent (1) an account of the Magical and Mystic Path, (2) an account of the Great Work, and (3) an account of the relations of the soul and the Holy Guardian Angel.
The Message of the Master Therion
- De Lege Libellum
- The Law of Liberty
- The Mystery of Sin
- Concerning Death
- Concerning the Working of Wonders
- Little Essays Toward Truth
- Khabs Am Pekht
These epistles are specific from Crowley and cover a wide range of doctrinal topics worthy of study and discussion.
- Liber XXXIII ‘An Account of the A∴A∴‘
- Liber Causae
- The Master Therion – A Biographical Note
Whether mythological or accurate, theological histories are an important part of any spiritual thread.
- Liber B vel Magi Sub Figura I
- Liber Cheth vel Vallum Abiegni Sub Figura CLVI
- Liber A’ash vel Capricoroni Pneumatici Sub Figura CCCLXX
- Liber Librae Sub Figura XXX
- Duty. A note on the chief rules of practical conduct
The first three of the General Books are the remainder of the inspired, non-ritual, texts from the Prophet. The final two texts are exemplars of General Thelemic Morality.
Book Three: The Virtues
- Liber Resh vel Helios Sub Figura CC
- Liber V vel Reguli
- The Star Ruby
- The Star Sapphire
- Liber Stellae Rubeae Sub Figura LXVI
There are three sets of rites here broken up into (1 & 2) two Public Rites, (3 & 4) two Personal Rites, and (5) a Revelatory Rite.
- Liber NU Sub Figura XI
- Liber HAD Sub Figura DLV
- Liber Astarte vel Berylli Sub Figura CLXXV
- Liber Samekh Sub Figura DCCC
Once again, these rites are divided into (1 & 2) two Meditational Rites, (3) an Adorational Rite, and (4) an Interior Rite.
- Liber Israfel Sub Figura LXIV
- The Mass of the Phoenix
These two rites fall into an Expository Rite and a Personal Rite, respectively.
It’s not a perfect schema, but it is one that works with all four criterion of canon formation. In the future, I may expand this further given more research and deeper thought and wisdom into the overall volume of Thelemic literature.
But I certainly welcome comments and thoughts as to its expansion under the parameters of the original thought experiment.
Love is the law, love under will.