Holy Guardian Angel
The Holy Guardian Angel is representative of one’s truest divine nature. The term is equivalent with the Genius of the Golden Dawn, the Augoeides of Iamblichus, the Atman of Hinduism, and the Daemon of the gnostics.
In the system of Magick, the single most important goal is to consciously connect with one’s HGA, a process termed “Knowledge and Conversation.” By doing so, the magician becomes fully aware of his own True Will. For Aleister Crowley, this event was the single most important goal of any adept:
- It should never be forgotten for a single moment that the central and essential work of the Magician is the attainment of the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel. Once he has achieved this he must of course be left entirely in the hands of that Angel, who can be invariably and inevitably relied upon to lead him to the further great step—crossing of the Abyss and the attainment of the grade of Master of the Temple. (Magick Without Tears, Ch.83)
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The Sacred Magic of Abramelin the Mage
Crowley became aware of the book entitled The Sacred Magic of Abramelin the Mage from George Cecil Jones, a member of the Golden Dawn. The book describes the full procedure for “Knowledge and Conversation” and gave him the term "Holy Guardian Angel." Crowley sums up the book in The Equinox of the Gods:
- The aspirant must have a house secure from observation and interference. In this house there must be an oratory with a window to the East, and a door to the North opening upon a terrace, at the end of which must be a lodge. He must have a Robe, Crown, Wand, Altar, Incense, Anointing Oil, and a Silver Lamen. The terrace and lodge must be strewn with fine sand. He withdraws himself gradually from human intercourse to devote himself more and more to prayer for the space of four months. He must then occupy two months in almost continuous prayer, speaking as little as possible to anybody. At the end of this period he invokes a being described as the Holy Guardian Angel, who appears to him (or to a child employed by him), and who will write in dew upon the Lamen, which is placed upon the Altar. The Oratory is filled with Divine Perfume not of the aspirant's kindling.
- After a period of communion with the Angel, he summons the Four Great Princes of the Daemonic World, and forces them to swear obedience.
- On the following day he calls forward and subdues the Eight Sub-Princes; and the day after that, the many Spirits serving these. These inferior Daemons, of whom four act as familiar spirits, then operate a collection of talismans for various purposes. Such is a brief account of the Operation described in the book.
This book clearly had a powerful impact on Crowley, who adopted its general terms and concepts, and applied it to his own system developed in the A.'.A.'. Moreover, he actually attempted the full procedure as described in the book, which resulted in the purchase of Boleskine House and his Abramelin Operation.
HGA and Black Magick
Crowley felt that attaining Knowledge and Conversation was so important, that he staked the claim that any other magical operation was, in a sense, evil. In Book 4 (Ch. 21) he explains:
- As was said at the opening of the second chapter, the Single Supreme Ritual is the attainment of the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel. It is the raising of the complete man in a vertical straight line...Any other operation is black magic...If the magician needs to perform any other operation than this, it is only lawful in so far as it is a necessary preliminary to That One Work.
He then softens his position somewhat:
- There are, however many shades of grey. It is not every magician who is well armed with theory. Perhaps one such may invoke Jupiter, with the wish to heal others of their physical ills. This sort of thing is harmless, or almost so. It is not evil in itself. It arises from a defect of understanding. Until the Great Work has been performed, it is presumptuous for the magician to pretend to understand the universe, and dictate its policy.
The implication is that only magick devoted to the spiritual evolution of the individual and their attunement to the global and cosmic Will is honorable and in line with the ultimate goals of Thelema. Any magick that is self-serving or results-oriented is regarded as impure and in contradiction to the necessary evolution of the species.
Methods of Achieving K&C
Crowley said that the Abramelin procedure was not the only way to achieve success in this endeavor:
- It is impossible to lay down precise rules by which a man may attain to the knowledge and conversation of His Holy Guardian Angel; for that is the particular secret of each one of us; as secret not to be told or even divined by any other, whatever his grade. It is the Holy of Holies, whereof each man is his own High Priest, and none knoweth the Name of his brother's God, or the Rite that invokes Him. (Book 4, "One Star in Sight")
Since the operation described in “Abramelin” is so complex and requires time and resources not available to most people, Crowley wanted to provide a more accessable method. While at the Abbey of Thelema in Italy, he wrote Liber Samekh (http://www.hermetic.com/crowley/libers/lib800.html), a ritual designed specifically for attaining the Knowledge and Conversation with one’s HGA. In his notes to this ritual, Crowley sums up the key to success: “INVOKE OFTEN.”
He also explains, in more detail, the general mystical process of the ritual:
- The Adept will be free to concentrate his deepest self, that part of him which unconsciously orders his true Will, upon the realization of his Holy Guardian Angel. The absence of his bodily, mental and astral consciousness is indeed cardinal to success, for it is their usurpation of his attention which has made him deaf to his Soul, and his preoccupation with their affairs that has prevented him from perceiving that Soul.
- The effect of the Ritual has been
- to keep them so busy with their own work that they cease to distract him;
- to separate them so completely that his soul is stripped of its sheaths;
- to arouse in him an enthusiasm so intense as to intoxicate and anesthetize him, that he may not feel and resent the agony of this spiritual vivisection, just as bashful lovers get drunk on the wedding night, in order to brazen out the intensity of shame which so mysteriously coexists with their desire;
- to concentrate the necessary spiritual forces from every element, and fling them simultaneously into the aspiration towards the Holy Guardian Angel; and
- to attract the Angel by the vibration of the magical voice which invokes Him.
- The method of the Ritual is thus manifold.
Another detailed description of the general operation is given in The Vision and the Voice, Aethyr 8 (http://www.hermetic.com/crowley/libers/lib8.html).
HGA in writing
Crowley often wrote about his own experiences with his Holy Guardian Angel, whom he often referred to as Adonai, but also claimed to be Aiwass, the intelligence that dictated The Book of the Law to him in 1904. The key texts regarding the HGA are:
- Liber Cordis Cincti Serpente (http://www.hermetic.com/crowley/libers/lib65.html)— An account of the relations of the aspirant and his Holy Guardian Angel.
- The Wake World (http://www.hermetic.com/crowley/libers/lib95.html)— A poetical allegory of the relations of the soul and the Holy Guardian Angel.
- Liber Samekh (http://www.hermetic.com/crowley/libers/lib800.html)— Being the Ritual employed by the Beast 666 for the Attainment of the Knowledge and Conversation of his Holy Guardian Angel, along with many comments.
- The 8th Aethyr in The Vision and the Voice (http://mysteria.com/liber/L_418.txt)—describes the Angel and the operation for attaining K&C.
- The Book of the Sacred Magic of Abramelin the Mage (http://www.sacred-texts.com/grim/abr/index.htm)
- The Vision and the Voice (http://mysteria.com/liber/L_418.txt) by Aleister Crowley
- Crowley, Aleister. (1997). Magick: Book 4. 2nd ed. York Beach, Me. : S. Weiser.
- ___. (1982). Magick Without Tears. Phoenix, AZ : Falcon Press
- ___. (1998). The Vision & the Voice : the Equinox, IV(2). York Beach, Me. : Samuel Weiser.