There is help & hope in other spells. Wisdom says: be strong! Then canst thou bear more joy. Be not animal; refine thy rapture! If thou drink, drink by the eight and ninety rules of art: if thou love, exceed by delicacy; and if thou do aught joyous, let there be subtlety therein!
The Djeridensis Comment
(69-70.) After a time my mortal part failed to endure the stress of the rapture. I came to myself, or rather wandered from myself, wondering who I was, and what had happened, and whether the word was at an end. Aiwass then taught me how to prepare myself for such supreme events. I should mention that this trance fulfilled the promise which I had asked of the Secret Chiefs when I agreed to accept the task they wished to lay upon me. "If I am to fill my office as I should, I must have first attained to that clear sight of truth without which every act of mine would certainly be an error." I had worked hard for a long time to attain some such trance and had never come near success. Yet now, without a word of warning I was caught up into it. The secret was this: the breaking down of my false Will by those dread words of mine Angel freed my True Self from all its bonds, so that I could enjoy at once the rapture of knowing myself to be who I am. To prepare oneself for such work one should strengthen oneself in every way, so as to be able to "bear more joy." This does not imply brute vigour. The nature of rapture is such that the finer it is, the stronger it is. Thus, in making oneself drunk to worship Hadit, one should observe the "eight and ninety rules of art" (I explain elsewhere the meaning of these figure). Likewise, in love, excess is not to be attained by violent lust. The artist is the model. One must learn to enjoy every least detail; yet blend them all into one single sublime concept. The same tactics apply to all joyous deeds. The key to success is subtlety.
The Old Comment
Also he has the human feeling of failure. It seems that he must fortify his nature in many other ways, in order that he may endure the ecstasy unbearable of mortals.
There is also a charge that other than physical considerations obtain.
The New Comment
It is absurd to suppose that 'to indulge the passions' is necessarily a reversion or degeneration. On the contrary, all human progress has depended on such indulgence. Every art and science is intended to gratify some fundamental need of nature. What is the ultimate use of the telephone and all the other inventions on which we pride ourselves? Only to sustain life, or to protect or reproduce it; or to subserve Knowledge and other forms of pleasure.
On the other hand, the passions must be understood properly as what they are, nothing in themselves, but the diverse forms of expression employed by the Will. One must preserve discipline. A passion cannot be good or bad, too weak or too strong, etc. by an arbitrary standard. Its virtue consists solely in its conformity with the plan of the Commander-in-Chief. Its initiative and elan are limited by the requirements of his strategy. For instance, modesty may well cooperate with ambition; but also it may thwart it. This verse counsels us to train our passions to the highest degree of efficiency. Each is to acquire the utmost strength and intelligence; but all are equally to contribute their quota towards the success of the campaign.
It is nonsense to bring a verdict of "Guilty" or "Not Guilty" against a prisoner without reference to the law under which he is living. The end justifies the means: if the Jesuits do not assert this, I do. There is obviously a limit, where "the means" in any case are such that their use blasphemes "the end": e.g. to murder one's rich aunt affirms the right of one's poor nephew to repeat the trick, and so to go against one's own Will-to-live, which lies deeper in one's being than the mere Will-to-inherit. The judge in each case is not ideal morality, but inherent logic.
This then being understood, that we cannot call any given passion good or bad absolutely, any more than we can call Knight to King's Fifth a good or bad move in chess without study of the position, we may see more clearly what this verse implies. There is here a general instruction to refine Pleasure, not by excluding its gross elements, but by emphasizing all elements in equilibrated development. Thus one is to combind the joys of Messalina with those of Saint Theresa and Isolde in one single act. One's rapture is to include those of Blake, Petrarch, Shelley, and Catullus. Liber Aleph has detailed instruction on numerous points involved in these questions.
Why "eight and ninety" rules of art? I am totally unable to suggest a reason satisfactory to myself; but 90 is Tzaddi, the "Emperor", and 8, Cheth, the "Charioteer" or Cup-Bearer; the phrase might them conceivably mean "with majesty". Alternatively, 98 = 2 x 49: now Two is the number of the Will, and Seven of the passive senses. 98 might then mean the full expansion of the senses (7 x 7) balanced against each other, and controlled firmly by the Will.
"Exceed by delicacy": this does not mean, by refraining from so-called animalism. One should make every act a sacrament, full of divinest ecstasy and nourishment. There is no act which true delicacy cannot consecrate. It is one thing to be like a sow, unconscious of the mire, and unable to discriminate between sweet food and sour; another to take the filth firmly and force oneself to discover the purity therein, initiating even the body to overcome its natural repulsion and partake with the soul at this Eucharist. We 'believe in the Miracle of the Mass' not only because meat and drink are actually "transmuted in us daily into Spiritual Substance", but because we can make the "Body and Blood of God" from any materials soever by Virtue of our royal and Pontifical Art of Magick.
Now when Brillat-Savarin (was it not?) served to the King's table a pair of old kid gloves, and pleased the princely palate, he certainly proved himself a Master-Cook. The feat is not one to be repeated constantly, but one should achieve it at least once – that it may bear witness to oneself that the skill is there. One might even find it advisable to practice it occasionally, to retain one's confidence that one's "right hand hath not lost its cunning". On this point hear further more our Holy Books:
"Go thou unto the outermost places and subdue all things".
Subdue thy fear and thy disgust. Then – yield!" (Liber LXV, I. 45.46).
"Morover I beheld a vision of a river. There was a little boat thereon; and in it under purple sails was a golden woman, an image of Asi wrought in finest gold. Also the river was of blood, and the boat of shining steel. Then I loved her; and, loosing my girdle, cast myself into the stream.
I gathered myself into the little Boat, and for many days and nights did I love her, burning beautiful incense before her.
Yea! I gave her of the flower of my youth.
But she stirred not; only by my kisses I defiled her so that she turned to blackness before me.
Yet I worshipped her, and gave her of the flower of my youth.
Also it came to pass that thereby she sickened, and corrupted before me. Almost I cast myself into the stream.
Then at the end appointed her body was whiter that the milk of the stars, and her lips red and warm as the sunset, and her life of a white heat like the heat of the midmost sun.
Then rose she up from the abyss of Ages of Sleep, and her body embraced me. Altogether I melted into her beauty and was glad.
The river also became the river of Amrit, and the little boat was the chariot of the flesh, and the sails thereof the blood of the heart that beareth me, thereof the blood of the heart that beareth me, that beareth me."
We therefore train our adepts to make the Gold Philosophical from the dung of witches, and the Elixir of Life from Hippomanes; but we do not advocate ostentatious addiction to these operations. It is good to know that one is man enough to spend a month or so at a height of twenty thousand feet or more above the sea-level; but it would be unpardonably foolish to live there permanently.
This illustrates on case of a general principle. We consider the Attainment of various Illuminations, incomparably glorious as that is, of chief value for its witness to our possession of the faculty which made success possible. To have climbed alone to the summit of Iztaccihuatl is great and grand; but the essence of one's joy is that one possesses the courage, knowledge, agility, endurance, and self-mastery necessary to have done it.
The Goal is ineffably worth all our pains, as we say to ourselves at first; but in a little while are aware that even that Goal is less intoxicating then the Way itself.
We find that it matters little whither we go; the Going itself is our gladness, I quote in this connection Liber LXV, II, 17-25, one of several similar passages in Our Holy Books.
"Also the Holy One came upon me, and I beheld a white swan floating in the blue.
Between its wings I sate, and the aeons fled away.
Then the swan flew and dived and soared, yet no whither we went.
A little crazy boy that rode with me spake unto the swan, and said:
Who art thou that dost float and fly and dive and soar in the inane? Behold, these many aeons have passed; whence camest thou? Whither wilt thou go?
And laughing I chide him, saying: No whence! No whither!
The swan being silent, he answered: Then, if with no goal, why this eternal journey?
And I laid my head against the Head of the Swan, and laughed saying: Is there not joy ineffable in this aimless winging? Is there not weariness and impatience for who would attain to some goal?
And the swan was ever silent. Ah! but we floated in the infinite Abyss. Joy! Joy!
White swan, bear thou ever me up between thy wings!"
"Be strong!" We need healthy robust bodies as the mechanical instruments of our souls. Could Paganini have expressed himself on the "fiddle for eighteen pence" that some one once bought when he was "young and had no sense"? Each of us is Hadit, the core of our Khabs, our Star, one of the Company of Heaven; but this Khabs needs a Khu or Magical Image, in order to play its part in the Great Drama. This Khu, again, needs the proper costume, a suitable 'body of flesh', and this costume must be worthy of the Play.
We therefore employ various magical means to increase the vigour of our bodies and the energy of our minds, to fortify and sublime them.
The result is that we of Thelema are capable of enormously more achievement than others, even in terrestrial matters, from sexual orgia to creative Art. Even if we had only this one earth-life to consider, we exceed our fellows some thirtyfold, some sixtyfold, some an hundredfold.
One most important point, in conclusion. We must doubtless admit that each one of us is lacking in one capacity or another. There must always be some among the infinite possibilities of Nuith which possesses no correlative points of contact in any given Khu. For example, the Khu of a male body cannot fulfil itself in the quality of motherhood. Any such lacuna must be accepted as a necessary limit, without regret or vain yearnings for the impossible. But we should beware lest prejudice or other personal passion exclude any type of self-realization which is properly ours. In our initiation the tests must be thorough and exhaustive. The neglect to develop even a single power can only result in deformity. However slight this might seem, it might lead to fatal consequences; the ancient adepts taught that by the parable of the heel of Achilles. It is essential for the Aspirant to make a systematic study of every possible passion, icily aloof from all alike, and setting their armies in array beneath the banner of his Will after he has perfectly gauged the capacity of each unit, and assured himself of its loyalty, discipline, courage, and efficiency. But woe unto him who leaves a gap in his line, or one arm unprepared to do its whole duty in the position proper to its peculiar potentialities!