COMMENTARY ON LIBER ISRAFEL SUB FIGURA LXIV
The text under discussion is taken from Magick-Liber ABA and is Crowley’s version of a ritual Alan Bennet wrote. Bennet drew his inspiration in turn from the Egyptian Book of the Dead, specifically Chapter 64, or “The Chapter for knowing all the Chapters of Going Forth by Day in a single Chapter.” The title and subtitle of Liber Israfel reveal important aspects of the ritual.
LIBER ISRAFEL SUB FIGURA LXIV
(This book was formerly called “Anubis” and is referred to the 20th key, “the Angel.”)
Israfel (ASRAFL=1+60+200+1+80+30=372) “in Arabic folklore, ‘the burning one’, the angel of the Resurrection and song, who will blow the trumpet on Judgment Day. He is described as four winged and ‘while his feet are under the 7th earth, his head reaches to the pillars of the Divine Throne.’ (see Liber Tzaddi: “My Adepts...”) ...it is further “revealed” that for 3 years Israfel served as a companion to Mohammed, whom he initiated in the work of a prophet,...”-Davidson, The Dictionary of Angels.
64: A number of Mercury, 8x8= the number of squares in the Kamea of Mercury. This is also the number of the chapter in the Egyptian Book of the Dead from which the ritual was inspired.
Formerly called Anubis: which corresponds to Hod, Mercury, Thoth, Hanuman, Odin, Hermes and the Vision of Splendour, see Liber 777.
20th key, “The Angel”: This may be seen as Atu XX The Aeon.
Liber Israfel is often referred to as the Invocation of Thoth, however there are more Gods involved in this than Thoth alone. The Official Instructions of A.:A.: call it “An instruction in a suitable method of preaching.” this is perfectly agreeable to the allusions made in the title, especially when one considers Israfel’s role as initiator of prophecy. The Mercurial force represented here is appropriate since communication is paramount in the prophetic role. Ezekiel expresses this communicative quality in his ‘Vision of Splendour’, and what better describes a prophetic announcement than Atu XX The Aeon? Indeed this card describes an important aspect of this ritual by the dual representation of Horus, that of Ra-Hoor-Khuit and Harpocrates or Speech and Silence. In this case Tahuti would be Speech and The Priestess of the Silver Star would be Silence (see sections 4 & 15). Atu XX is the path between Malkuth and Hod on the Tree of Life. “It will be noted, however, that in this Invocation of Thoth which we have summarized, there is another formula contained, the Reverberating or Reciprocating formula, which may be called the formula of Horus and Harpocrates. The magician addresses the God with an active projection of Will, and then remains passive and silent while the God addresses the Magician. Again in the third part the deified magician addresses the Universe and in the fourth part remains silent, listening to the prayer which arises therefrom.”-Liber ABA
0. The Temple being in darkness, and the Speaker ascended into his place, let him begin by a ritual of the Enterer, as followeth.
Section 0. The ‘Temple’ may refer to the Ceremonial Temple, the Temple of the Body, or an Astral Temple. The ‘Speaker ascended into his place’ or Astral Temple via the Body of Light. The ‘ritual of the Enterer’ is also known as the Sign of Horus (see Liber ABA, The Signs of the Grades).
1. Procul, O procul este profani.
2. Bahlasti! Ompehda!
Sections 1. & 2. Translation of 1., ‘Be far, o be far ye profane’. This is the usual opening and is both a warning and an announcement. In section 2. Is shown the summarized action of the Banishing, note the ‘peh’(Heb. mouth also Atu XVI Tower) in Ompehda. “By sound Bahlasti suggests “hurling” or “blasting”; Ompehda is not to fantastically onomatopoetic for “an explosion”.- The Law is for All pg. 170.
3. In the name of the Mighty and the Terrible One, I proclaim that I have banished the shells unto their habitations.
Section 3. The “Mighty and Terrible One” is the breast according to col.XXI in 777. This corresponds also with Tiphareth, Sol, Ra, Asar and the Vision of the Harmony of Things. The “shells” refer to the Orders of the Qlippoth or the powers of the Averse Sepheroth. The symbolic “shells” also suggest astral forms devoid of force. These must be banished before the invocation proper, otherwise they could interfere with the operation. Reference to the breast or heart is an indication of the harmony and balance of Tiphareth and is necessary for the dispersion of the unbalanced forces of the Qlippoth.
4. I invoke Tahuti, the Lord of Wisdom and of Utterance, the God that cometh forth from the veil.
5. O Thou! Majesty of Godhead! Wisdom Crowned Tahuti! Lord of the Gates of the Universe! Thee, Thee I invoke. O Thou of the Ibis Head! Thee, Thee I invoke. Thou who wieldest the Wand of Double Power! Thee, Thee I invoke! Thou who bearest in Thy left hand the Rose and Cross of Light and Life: Thee, Thee I invoke. Thou whose head is as an emerald and Thy nemmes as the Night-Sky Blue! Thee, Thee I invoke. Thou whose skin is of flaming orange as though it burned in a furnace! Thee, Thee I invoke.
Sections 4 & 5. “At the conclusion of this a mental image of the God, infinitely vast and splendid, should be perceived, in just the same sense as a man might see the Sun.”-Liber ABA. Here is the traditional description of the Godform of Thoth which plays a very important role in Liber Israfel, but by no means is it alone. At this point the magician should take on the this form and identify with it.
6. Behold! I am Yesterday, To-Day, and the Brother of To-morrow! I am born again and again. Mine is the unseen force where of the Gods are sprung! Which is as Life unto the Dwellers in the Watch-Towers of the Universe. I am the Charioteer of the East, Lord of the Past and the Future. I see by mine own inward Light: Lord of Resurrection; who cometh forth from the Dusk, and my birth is from the House of Death.
Section 6. “The magician should imagine that he is hearing this voice, and at the same time that he is echoing it, that it is true also of himself. This thought should so exalt him that he is able at its conclusion to utter the sublime words which open the third part: “Behold, He is in me, and I in Him!”(see section 8) At this moment, he loses consciousness of his mortal being, he is that mental image which he previously but saw. This consciousness is only complete as he goes on: “Mine is the Radiance........Dwellers of Earth!” This thought gives the relation of God and man from the divine point of view.” -Liber ABA. In this part of the invocation the magician, while having assumed the Godform of Thoth, “shifts” from Hod to Tiphareth as the symbolism shows. The sun is repeatedly referred to in this section. The “Unseen Force” referred to is Spirit amongst the Elements.
7. O ye two Divine Hawks upon your pinnacles! Who keep watch over the Universe! Ye who company the Bier to the House of Rest! Who pilot the Ship of Ra advancing onwards to the heights of Heaven! Lord of the Shrine which standeth in the Center of the Earth!
Section 7. The “Two Divine Hawks” are Tahuti and Ra-Hoor, who, along with the “Ship of Ra” are referred to in Liber Resh vel Helios. Their mention in this place is appropriate as their solar nature (being aspects of the “Ship of Ra”) corresponds to Tiphareth.
8. Behold, He is in me, and I in Him! Mine is the Radiance, wherein Ptah floateth over the firmament! I travel upon high! I tread upon the firmament of Nu! I raise a flashing flame, with the lightning of Mine Eye! Ever rushing on, in the splendour of the daily glorified Ra: giving my life to the Dwellers of Earth.
9. If I say “Come up upon the mountains!” the Celestial Waters shall flow at my word. For I am Ra incarnate! Khephra created in the Flesh! I am the Eidolon of my father Tmu, Lord of the City of the Sun!
Sections 8 & 9. In these two sections the attributes of the Sun are expressed. Liber Israfel, being a ritual of receiving communication, requires a connection with Hod hence taking on the Godform of Thoth. Now the magician takes on the Godform of Ra, moving into the solar sphere Tiphareth. It is necessary to align oneself so as to receive direct communication from the Godhead (Kether) which shall be sent through Asi (section 15) or the 13th path. Tiphareth draws from all the other spheres, therefore the ‘message’ will not be unbalanced.
10. The God who commands is in my mouth! The God of Wisdom is in my Heart! My tongue is the Sanctuary of Truth! And a God sitteth upon my lips.
11. My Word is accomplished everyday! And the desire of my heart realizes itself, as that of Ptah when he createth! I am Eternal; therefore all things are as my designs; therefore do all things obey my Word.
Sections 10 & 11. Speech is the primary theme in these two sections, but the heart also holds a prominent place. Speech in its use here is creative and instant which brings to mind Chokmah. This is pure will finding expression in manifestation.
12. Therefore do Thou come forth unto me from Thine abode in the Silence: Unutterable Wisdom! All-Light! All-Power! Thoth! Hermes! Mercury! Odin! By whatever name I call Thee, Thou art still nameless to Eternity: Come Thou forth I say, and aid and guard me in this work of Art.
13. Thou, Star of the East, that didst conduct the Magi! Thou art The Same all-present in Heaven and in Hell! Thou that vibratest between the Light and the Darkness! Rising, descending! Changing ever, yet ever The Same! The Sun is Thy Father! Thy Mother the Moon! The Wind hath borne Thee in its bosom; and Earth hath ever nourished the changeless Godhead of Thy Youth!
Sections 12 & 13. “...it is not really the Magician who is addressing the God; it is the God who hears the far-off utterance of the Magician. If this invocation has been correctly performed, the words of the fourth part will sound distant and strange. It is surprising that a dummy (so the Magus now appears to Himself) should be able to speak! The Egyptian Gods are so complete in their nature, so perfectly spiritual and yet so perfectly material, that this one invocation is sufficient. The God bethinks him that the spirit of Mercury should now appear to the Magician; and it is so.”-Liber ABA.
14. Come Thou forth, I say, come Thou forth! And make all Spirits subject unto Me: So that every Spirit of the Firmament And of the Ether, Upon the Earth, And under the Earth, On dry land, And in the Water, Of whirling Air And of rushing Fire, And every Spell and Scourge of God the Vast One, may be obedient unto Me!
Section 14. This section requires very special attention and readers should consult Liber Samekh from which it is taken. Although I include quotes from the said Liber, I have left out other important footnotes for space considerations. “Let the Adept take note of the wording of the Charge. The “Firmament” is the Ruach, the “mental plane”; it is the realm of Shu, or Zeus, where revolves the Wheel of the gunas, the Three Forms of Being. The Aethyr is the “akasa,” the “Spirit,” the Aethyr of physics, which is the framework on which all forms are founded; it receives, records and transmits all impulses without itself suffering mutation thereby. The “Earth” is the sphere wherein the operation of these “fundamental” and aethyric forces appear to perception. “Under the Earth” is the world of those phenomena which inform those perceived projections, and determine their particular character. “Dry land” is the place of dead “material things”, dry (i.e. unknowable) because unable to act on our minds. “Water” is the vehicle whereby we feel such things, “air” their menstruum wherein these feelings are mentally apprehended. It is called “whirling” because of the instability of thought, and the fatuity of reason, on which we are yet dependent for what we call “life”. “Rushing Fire” is the world in which wandering thought burns up to swift-darting Will. These four stages explain how the non-Ego is transmuted into the Ego. A “Spell” of God is any form of consciousness, and a “Scourge” any form of action.-Liber Samekh Theurgia Goetia Summa (Congressus Cum Daemone) Sub Figura DCCC.
15. I invoke the Priestess of the Silver Star, Asi the Curved One, by the ritual of Silence.
16. I make open the gate of Bliss; I descend from the Palace of the Stars; I greet you, I embrace you, o children of earth, that are gathered together in the Hall of Darkness.
17. (A pause)
Sections 15, 16 & 17. The “Priestess of the Silver Star” is Atu II or the High Priestess and also the path between Kether and Tiphareth. This is the connection necessary for the communication to be received ‘from on high’. Asi is the Goddess of the Sky & Heavens in ancient Palestine and is comparable with Nuit. Note also the Gematria of Asi; ASI=1+60+10=71. The Hebrew word ALM also adds to 71 (1+30+40) it is the word for Silence. The ‘Ritual of Silence’ is enacted at section 17 and the magician pauses in silence with the Sign of Silence in order to ‘receive’ the message of the Godhead. Previous to these sections the magician assumed the Thoth aspect which embodied the Speech function of the ceremony, now the position of the High Priestess is assumed which facilitates the silence. This in turn acts as the ‘blank slate’ so the impression of the message may be received. Although considered a ritual for group work, the magician could utilize this prior to a personal divination with great advantage.
18. The Speech in the Silence. The Words against the Son of Night. The Voice of Tahuti in the Universe in the Presence of the Eternal. The Formulas of Knowledge. The Wisdom of Breath. The Root of Vibration. The Shaking of the Invisible. The Rolling Asunder of the Darkness. The Becoming Visible of Matter. The Piercing of the Scales of the Crocodile. The Breaking Forth of the Light!
Section 18. Each of the statements in Section 18 form parts of a technical description of the nature of Speech. The “Speech in the Silence” is action in inertia, it is the Going of the Gods, the Will of the Logos or Word. Speech is dynamic and therefore divine, it is immediate. The FIAT LVX at the dawn of creation is a classic example. No sooner is the Word spoken than its manifestation appears. The tones of voice provide the means of travel for force. The vibration of speech is the vehicle through which consciousness may manifest itself in the material. The vibrations touch us physically by stimulating our eardrums, ideas communicated through voice literally touch us. Words are the forms in which the formless may manifest, the choice of words affect how the idea will manifest. “The Wisdom of Breath”, this is a very important aspect of the process. Breath is Prana and Life-force itself, without breath we could not speak nor would we be able to breathe life into our ideas. “The Shaking of the Invisible”, both speech and breath are sightless to the eye and their combination in the act of vibration is shaking. This movement is in contrast to the apparent stillness of the darkness which in Section 18 is expressed by “The Rolling Asunder of the Darkness.” “The Becoming Visible of Matter” when the silence of darkness is broken a point of reference is made thereby creating direction and definition. Here is the means whereby perception is increased, matter once hidden and obscure is revealed. “The Piercing of the Scales of the Crocodile”; the crocodile in Egyptian mythology represents the Dweller on the Threshold. This crocodile is a means of restriction whose intent is to trap the magician in the embrace of the ego. However the Word of one’s Will is dynamic and pierces the stasis of the restrictive force. In matters dealing with the Dweller, motion and action are to be utilized, for stagnation and restriction are folly.( see Liber LVX especially ch.IV vs. 34-36) It is important to remember this, for if the magician allows the ego to interfere with the message received, the ceremony would be for naught. “The Breaking Forth of the Light”; words emerging from silence, make known that which was hidden, i.e., one knows another’s thought after the words are spoken.
19. (Follows the Lection.)
Section 19. Here the magician presiding communicates the words received at Section 17.
20. There is an end of the speech; let the silence of darkness be broken; let it return into the silence of light.
Section 20. Although the speech has ended the Logos it represented now illuminates the minds that heard it. An actual transference of information has taken place, quite a magical act.
21. The speaker silently departs; the listeners disperse unto their homes; yea, they disperse unto their homes.