Reception of Liber Legis
Perhaps Crowley's most significant contribution was bringing Thelema into the world with the reception of "The Book of the Law". Beginning in 1901, Crowley had largely abandoned magical practices. As he says in Magick (p.407), "All that he had attained, then, he abandoned. The intuitions of the Qabalah were cast behind him with a smile at his youthful folly; magic, if true, led nowhere; Yoga had become psychology." Crowley was mostly living an active life of a wealthy Victorian gentleman.
In 1903, at age 28, he is married to Rose, and they begin a honeymoon taking them to Paris, Naples, Sri Lanka, and finally arriving at Cairo on Febuary 9, 1904. Beginning on March 16, Crowley begins the practice of magick again. According to Crowley's account, he attempted to amuse his wife by "showing her the Sylphs." She saw nothing, but began telling him that "they are waiting for you" and something about "a child." The next day she continues, so he invokes Thoth to make sense of it. On the 18th, she realizes that Horus is speaking through her (although she later changes her story and claims that the messenger is named Aiwass), which Crowley is satisfied with only after numerous questions as to his nature (giving answers that she supposedly lacked). The final piece of evidence was a trip to the Bulaq Museum where Rose pointed out the figure of Horus on a funerary tablet (then labled Stele 666 which Crowley eventually renamed the Stele of Revealing). Crowley successfully invokes Horus on March 20. For the next three weeks, the heiroglyphs of the Stele are translated by an assistant curator, and finally put into verse by Crowley.
He was then informed that he was to enter the "Temple" on April 8, 9, and 10 at exactly noon and write down what he heard for one hour. Crowley describes the event in Magick (p.435):
- I never looked round in the room at any time.
- The Voice of Aiwass came apparently from over my left shoulder, from the furthest corner of the room. It seemed to echo itself in my physical heart in a very strange manner, hard to describe. I have noticed a similar phenomenon when I have been waiting for a message fraught with great hope or dread. The voice was passionately poured, as if Aiwass were alert about the time-limit. I wrote 65 pages of this present essay (at about my usual rate of composition) in about 10 1/2 hours as against the 3 hours of the 65 pages of The Book of the Law. I was pushed hard to keep the pace; the MS. shows it clearly enough.
- The voice was of deep timbre, musical and expressive, its tones solemn, voluptuous, tender, fierce or aught else as suited the moods of the message. Not bass—perhaps a rich tenor or baritone.
- The English was free of either native or foreign accent, perfectly pure of local or caste mannerisms, thus startling and even uncanny at first hearing.
- I had a strong impression that the speaker was actually in the corner where he seemed to be, in a body of "fine matter," transparent as a veil of gauze, or a cloud of incense-smoke. He seemed to be a tall, dark man in his thirties, well-knit, active and strong, with the face of a savage king, and eyes veiled lest their gaze should destroy what they saw. The dress was not Arab; it suggested Assyria or Persia, but very vaguely. I took little note of it, for to me at that time Aiwass and an "angel" such as I had often seen in visions, a being purely astral.
- I now incline to believe that Aiwass is not only the God or Demon or Devil once held holy in Sumer, and mine own Guradian Angel, but also a man as I am, insofar as He uses a human body to make His magical link with Mankind, whom He loves, and that He is thus and Ipsissimus, the Head of the A.'.A.'. Even I can do, in a much feebler way, this Work of being a God and a Beast, &c., &c., all at the same time, with equal fullness of life.
- Crowley, Aleister. (1997). Magick: Book 4. 2nd ed. York Beach, Me. : S. Weiser.