Sunday, September 17, 2023

Lion of Light: Collect Your Wits and Hop On Board


Oz Fritz (from Hilaritas Press)

Lion of Light: "Five Footprints of a Camel" A Foreword by Oz Fritz


Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

It has been noted before that Crowley derived the name “Aleister” from Percy Bysshe Shelley’s “Alastor, or The Spirit of Solitude.” Crowley derived the first title of his Autohagiography from Shelley’s poem, which also gives us a pretty solid clue how he envisioned himself. Shelley’s poem is about a Poet trying to discern the ultimate nature of reality in a search for the supernatural that takes him past the boundaries of the natural world (naturally, nich whar?) and towards that mysterious shore from whence no one returns. The name “Alastor” was actually suggested to Shelley by none other than Thomas Love Peacock, author of Nightmare Abbey, a deeply humorous work from whence we derive the quote that diagnoses so many wanderers of the waste: “You talk like a Rosicrucian who will only love a sylph, who does not believe in the existence of a sylph, and who yet quarrels with the entire Universe for not containing a single sylph.” (Peacock directs this to the Byron-analogue, “Mr. Cypress,” not Shelley’s, but the sentiment holds true, at least as far as “Alastor” is concerned.) It should also be noted here that Crowley, while on his honeymoon with Rose Kelly, spent the night in the King’s Chamber of the Great Pyramid of Giza where he performed the Bornless Ritual in an attempt to show the sylphs to his new wife. 

Rose did not see the sylphs, or Crowley failed to “shew” them, but she did enter into a trance state and uttered the cryptic “They’re waiting for you.” Crowley was unimpressed; yet, this was the beginning of the Cairo Working. Alastor, Shelley, Peacock, Cypress and Aleister were all very accustomed to the parade of hunchbacks that we are subjected to as finite beings composed of fiction and reality. While few men could be defined as truly content, Crowley was decidedly not content with this state of affairs. And yet, when the soldier(s) appeared over the course of three days in the form of Aiwass and his wonderful and terrible message, Crowley found himself back to the march of hunchbacks. If we are to believe Crowley, and I see little reason to not believe that Crowley believed what he attested, he resisted the message of Liber AL for years before accepting the Law of Thelema. Aiwass even mocks Crowley’s reluctance in receiving his message in the verse “I see thee hate the hand & the pen; but I am stronger.” Crowley set out for answers, found them and tried to reject them, leaving us with the questions: what do we do when the hunchback throws out his chest and stands up straight, but we despise the soldier standing before us?

If we are Aleister or Alastor, we endure until the end, gradually accepting the state of affairs that Fortune has been/is being revealed before us. If we are Robert Anton Wilson, we keep questioning until the very end. Either way, we know that the soldier shall soon turn back into a hunchback. We are all wandering across the desert of finite existence, in search of the infinite. If we are A Student, we are well advised to go to Wilson to better understand Aleister. But our teacher won’t give up his teacher’s secrets easily. We must come to understand in fullness on our own. 

Our wonderful wizard Oz passes some of the baraka of Wilson concerning the question of what to do with our hunchbacks concerning Crowley in his foreword by recalling his own Work. “Five Footprints of a Camel” begins with Oz recounting his time in Wilson’s online “Crowley 101” course for Maybe Logic Academy. I am sure that most of us know that Wilson didn’t always write about or extrapolate Crowley in the traditionalist manner; Oz points out that Wilson didn’t reference Crowley’s essay “The Soldier and the Hunchback: ! and ?” directly in his assignment on those two punctuation marks, but rather the first two chapters of  The Book of Lies. Let us compare Oz’s experience in Wilson’s class with Sir John Babcock’s first encounter with the Soldier and the Hunchback in the aptly named Masks of the Illuminati

“A large poster announced:


“The Soldier and the Hunchback”

a lecture on mysticism and rationalism

by Sir Aleister Crowley

free to all

Sir John picked out a Crowley volume entitled, with Brazen effrontery, The Book of Lies. Opening it, he found the title page: 







Despite himself, Sir John grinned. This was a variation of the Empedoclean paradox in logic, which consists of the question: “Empedocles, the Cretan, says that everything Cretans say is a lie; is Empedocles telling the truth?” Of course, if Empedocles is telling the truth, then- since his statement “everything Cretans say is a lie” is the truth- he must be lying. On the other hand, if Empedocles is lying, then everything Cretans say is not a lie, and he might be telling the truth. Crowley’s title page was even more deliberately perverse: if the book is “also falsely called Breaks,” then (because of the “also”) the original title is false, too, and it is not a book of lies at all. But, on the other hand, since it is the “falsifications…of the one thought…which is itself untrue,” it is the negation of the untrue and, therefore, true. Or was it? 

Sir John turned to the first chapter and found it consisted of a single symbol, the questions mark:


Well, compared with the title, that was at least brief. Sir John turned the page to the second chapter and found equal brevity: 


What kind of a joke was this? Sir John turned to Chapter 3, and his head spun: 

Nothing is.

Nothing becomes.

Nothing is not.

The first two statements were the ultimate in nihilism; but the third sentence, carrying nihilism one step further, brought in the Empedoclean paradox again, for it contradicted itself. If “nothing is not,” then something is… 

What else was in this remarkable tome? Sir John started flipping pages and abruptly found himself facing, at Chapter 77, a photograph of Lola Levine. It was captioned “L.A.Y. L. A. H.” The photo and the caption made up the entire chapter. Lola was seen from the waist up and was shamelessly naked, although as a concession to the English morality her hair hung down to cover most of her breasts. 

Sir John, on a hunch, counted cabalistically. Lamed was 30, plus Aleph is 1, plus Yod is 10, plus second Lamed is 30, plus second Aleph is 1 again, plus He is 5; total, 77, the number of the chapter. And Laylah was not just a loose transliteration of Lola; it was the Arabic word for “night.” And 77 was the value of the curious Hebrew word which meant either “courage” or “goat”; Oz.” 

Shall we consider how Sir John compares with our courageous goat? Firstly, Oz is playing with you, dear Reader; he notes that “[t]radition holds that one doesn’t speak directly of Cabala. RAW followed that tradition in the course despite Cabala being foundational to the structure of Crowley’s teaching.” He proceeds to not follow Wilson’s example by giving us an example of Wilson not following this tradition, though to the layman it may seem as if he persists in being gnomic, through the application of practical Qabalah. Secondly he has consciously or subconsciously modeled his account of illumination after Wilson’s magical protagonist in Part IV of Masks while noting that The Widow’s Son is “perhaps his most advanced transmission of Magick.” The qabalistic analysis is apparent in Masks; The Widow's Son is derived from less direct, if just as potent, sources. We are drawn away from the heart of the matter towards another. More wanderings in the waste for you, Reader. But through wandering, one can learn much and more. (Oz does give us one more hand in the direction of Masks when he discusses the interchange between Joycean language and Crowleyean magic; Joyce is one of the main characters and expositors of what is happening to Sir John in the novel.) 

Here I’ll provide another way to cut through this Gordian knot (aside from saying “There is God”): focus not on the Empress path, which is far above us, running from Binah to Chokmah anyways, and direct thyself towards the path of the High Priestess. We should at this point imagine ourselves lost in the-Sphere-that-is-not-a-Sphere, Da’ath, upon the Tree of Life; let us envision it as a great broken landscape, filled with ego-shadows and ego-destroyers, step carefully. Let us see ourselves as Sophie Bangs and Barbara Shelley in the lamented Promethea, unbound from our Creator and our Selves; we are lost. All at once we are met by a traveler on camelback, none other than Crowley herself. She is playacting (or realizing herself) as a male Empress: Alice. She offers us some cryptic hints about the path from Tiphereth towards Kether. These hints aren’t much help, but as she recedes we see in the sands in her wake the five footprints of a camel. 

Perhaps this isn’t doing you any good, Reader. Let me try again: you have found yourself back with Sir John in Part IV- Crowley is giving a lecture on the Soldier and the Hunchback. But this isn’t the same as the essay contained in the The Equinox; sure, it hits on some of the same notes, but the propositions are more succinct, more modern. (Since when does Crowley have a Brooklyn accent?) We are being led to some sort of well, how shall we interpret this? As we listen to Crowley lecture with great erudition and felicity on the infinite we drift a little, contemplating our decisions, only to come back and hear him say: “But all this is not the true infinite. It is only what our little monkey minds have been able to comprehend so far. Ask the next question. Seek the higher vision.” 

Five footprints beyond our little monkey-minds: follow those and we'll see that we must conquer in the Aeon of the crowned and conquering child. Oz gives it to you plainly enough in the text. He also gives us the formula for our campaigning: Work. Work and exploration is the only way OUT. Oz also helpfully points towards another way to begin taking the next step- early in his forward, he alludes to the work of Lon Milo Duquette as someone else who is "direct, engaging and often humorous" in his elucidation of Crowley’s work. Perhaps this is unhelpful at this juncture, but Duquette, in his “Few Words of Introduction,” quotes Grady McMurtry saying, as the Outer Head passed him The Eye in the Triangle; that the book was full of “[s]ex, drugs, magick, aliens, conspiracies.” This is an accurate description of the first volume in Illuminatus!, but Masks is all of that in a much more condensed way with a lot more Joyce and Einstein thrown in so we can at least pretend we’re aping at modernity. Duqeutte’s reproduction of Wilson’s Adam Weishaupt award also quotes The Widow’s Son. With this many crossed circuits, at this point I think it might be necessary to ensure we’re taking some joy in our wandering-work. 

Brother, stretch out thy hand, the steps are hard. Oz has provided you with a way forward strewn with blossoms of advice plucked from Wilson’s garden; we have Oz recounting Wilson viewing Crowley through the lens of forgiveness, in an especially poignant moment. We are reminded of Wilson’s eclecticism, which might seem obvious but the particulars are always helpful for remembering; I was particularly fascinated by Wilson’s Crowley-Gurdjieff comparison. Synchronicities and experience adorn Oz’s forward like spice. Our wanderings have become our homes and we must tend to the flowering. Perhaps Odyssesus would have arrived on the shores of Ithaca sooner, had he proceeded on camelback. Considering Oz’s final Maybe Logic message to the waning Wilson, I smiled, for I imagined it was welcomed by Wilson and reminded him of what he had accomplished and continues to accomplish. So, I deem it best to conclude the post-proper where Oz concluded his forward: Ewige Blumenkraft! 

 “The flowers come back every spring. Earth to earth, dust to dust, merde to merde. Every spring the flowers come back…” - Robert Anton Wilson as James Joyce 

Love is the law, love under will.


Next week we'll begin Lion of Light proper with "Starbride" and the first eleven segments of Wilson's "The Great Beast."


- Crowley's "The Soldier and the Hunchback: ! and ?" from The Equinox, Vol. 1 No. 1

- Wilson's Crowley's "The Soldier and the Hunchback" can be found in Masks of the Illuminati (pg. 267-270 in the most recent Dell edition)

- Issue 20 of Promethea is titled "The Stars Are But Thistles" and can be found in the collected editions of that work...Volume 4 in the five volume trade paperback print

- Crowley's "Dust Devils" or Chapter 42 from The Book of Lies

- Prop Anon, Wilson's biographer, has posted the coursework for Wilson's Maybe Logic "Crowley 101" class here.

- Oz seems to be lousy with quarters lately, so I'm trying to keep my eyes peeled. Maybe consider that along with Liber Resh.


  1. Israel Regardie recommended learning at least a bit of Hebrew. I love Duolingo. It has a nice feature for learning the Hebrew alphabet.

  2. So much in Oz's piece in "Lion of Light" and in this week's post. A few initial comments on Oz's piece:

    (1) Oz writes in "Five Footprints of a Camel," that in his Crowley course, "Wilson directed the class to read 'The Widow's Son,' perhaps his most advanced transmission of Magick." I really like "The Widow's Son," but I had always understood that for people who understand magick, "Masks of the Illuminati" was the most "magical" work of fiction.

    (2) I'd like to know more about Wilson's (or anyone else's) thoughts about Crowley's character. The more I think about "Perdurabo," the more I am put off by the way Crowley treated people in general and women in particular. Wilson's treatment of people, and his long marriage, seem distinctively un-Crowleyan to me.

    (3) Do we get to hear the "joke about a ventriloquist dog" that Oz shared with RAW?

  3. Now that I've read this week's blog post carefully, after skimming it, I see that it also talks about 'The Widow's Son' versus 'Masks of the Illuminati."

    "If we are to believe Crowley, and I see little reason to not believe that Crowley believed what he attested, he resisted the message of Liber AL for years before accepting the Law of Thelema." This is one of the main points made in Kaczynski's "Perdurabo," and it seems to me Kaczynski found plenty of evidence. I am so glad I read that book as a preparation for "Lion of Light," I can at least follow some of the discussion here.

    "“The flowers come back every spring." That evokes "Ode to the West Wind," one of Percy Bysshe Shelley's best-known poems.

  4. Tom, I do not think highly of Uncle Al's character. I spent a lot of time with his books and exercises, and I regret that. I have deliberately stayed away from his works and thought for the past seventeen years, but his work left a big mark on me, especially working with the Kabbalah. It affects me every day. Bob Wilson had a tremendous ability not to condemn people and to get value from the work of troubled individuals like Crowley and Pound, etc.

  5. Awesome post! I did find one sentence confusing:

    "Secondly he has consciously or subconsciously modeled his account of illumination after Wilson’s magical protagonist in Part IV of Masks while noting that The Widow’s Son is “perhaps his most advanced transmission of Magick.”

    This is deeply unconscious to me as I have no idea what it indicates in the piece. What account of illumination is being referred to that's modeled after John Babcock?

    The character of Babcock appears in both Masks of the Illuminatti and The Widow's Son. The former complements the entire Historical Illuminati series nicely. If not having read either, I would start with Masks and assimilate and work with it as much as possible then read the Historical Illuminatus series.

    I suspect RAW's non-judgement has something to do with his interest in zen. I learned some zen from reading about John Cage who emphasized not making value judgements to reach presence. RAW didn't omit talking about character in the Crowley 101 class. He pointed out symbolism in The Book of Lies that he interpreted as Crowley referring to himself in a not nice, character flawed way; a mea culpa of sorts. In my piece I think RAW may be speaking to Crowley's character when he mentions forgiveness. The demon Crowley may be a deliberate obstacle on the path.

  6. A well dressed couple came to a farmer's market in San Rafael looking for something unique. "Can I help you," said a vendor with a number of farm animals and livestock.
    "We're looking for something unusual."
    Well, I've got a talking dog, it's the only one at this market."
    "We don't believe you?"
    "Say something to the nice people, Max."
    "Hey, howya doing? Where'd you get the nice rags?" said Max the dog.
    "Oh my god, he can really talk. We'll take him."
    "I've also got a rooster that talks," said the vendor.
    "What??!!, No!!"
    "Say something Robbie."
    "Nice chick ya got on your arm, Doc."
    "Wow!!! ... we'll take him too."
    It turns out every animal the vendor had could talk: the duck, goose, pig, even the cow. Strangely enough, they all spoke with a Brooklyn accent. The smart looking couple bought them all and went happily on their way. A little boy who observed all this said to the vendor, "Hey mister, you sold all those talking animals for hardly anything. Don't you know you could have got millions and been set for life?"
    "Well," the vendor replied, "actually none of them talk except for the dog and he's a ventriloquist."

    My very imperfect recreation of this joke. At one time RAW suspected he was receiving communication from the Dog Star. Later he revised the model from the Dog Star to a Pookhah, a 6 foot tall invisible rabbit. He changed his model of where this communication might come from several times.

  7. Excellent choice of music! Daryl Hall Sacred Songs has been a favorite of mine for years and years; best thing I've ever heard from him. Fripp did a brilliant job with the production. I love how the Frippertronics guitar washes come in and out. Of course, Babs and Babs suggests the two Babcocks in Masks of the Illuminati and The Widow's Son

  8. Eric Wagner, would you care to say more? The opinion of someone who actually spent time studying Crowley and his work seems to me more valuable than that of someone who simply holds negative prejudices based on hearsay.

    I note that Oz dated his Foreword February 14th. Leaving aside all considerations of shallow Hollywood-style romantic ideas perverted into brainless consumerism, we can still decide to see this date as the day when Love is the law.

    Parts of what is under discussion in The Soldier and the Hunchback seem to prefigure the concept of e-prime (“A is A”).

    Taking a look at Nietzsche’s life, one might find it debatable that what did not kill him actually made him stronger. It seems to me that any hurtful event needs being properly integrated in order for you to get over it, let alone coming out of it stronger. If not, the trauma is likely to follow you one way or another.

    I do not know if one should wait to be at least 40 years of age to start experimenting with psychedelics, but I do feel like, with age, I am getting more out of such experiences than I used to, having more theoretical knowledge to navigate and frame these expended states of consciousness. A regular meditation practice probably helps as well.

    Appendix Tzaddi in Illuminatus! attempts to explain the meaning of 23 Skidoo and states that “skidoo has been traced back to the older skedaddle, and thence to the Greek skedannumi, ‘to disperse hurriedly.’”

    ‘Chaosmos’ as the conjoining of chaos and order (kosmos) brings to mind the Sacred Chao of Discordianism. It now appears like ‘Sacred Chaosmos’ could be a more accurate name for it, not putting the emphasis on just one of its aspects.

    Regarding putting the magickal theory into practice. Apuleius refers us to Chapter 42 of the Book of Lies, but I note that the preceding one, Chapter 41 Corn Beef Hash (‘food suitable for Americans’, Crowley tells us) also concerns itself with the five footprints of a camel (‘the Great Work perfect’). The last paragraph says that “since below the Abyss Reason is Lord, let men seek by experiment, and not by Questionings.”

    On the day I read this blog post, the Thoth Tarot card I picked was the Eight of Disks, Prudence, which according to Uncle Al “signifies intelligence lovingly applied to material matters, especially those of the agriculturist”. Lon adds “plant and wait, wait and see.” The card shows eight flowers on a tree. I see a connection with the Work that eventually “will irrigate the desert, till it flowers.” In fact, AC also tells that “these last three cards [in the suit of Disks] seem to prepare for the explosion, that will renew the whole Cycle.”
    Ewige Blumenkraft, indeed!

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Spookah, thank-you for reading my piece and your on point remarks. Valentine has been part of my lexicon as a blatant reference to Tiphareth for a very long time. Heinlein named the main character in Stranger in a Strange Land Valentine Michael Smith. In the Preface to the original uncut edition, his wife, Virginia Heinlein writes: "The given names of the chief characters have great importance to the plot. They were carefully selected: Jubal means 'the father of all,' Michael stands for "Who is like God?' I leave it for the reader to find out what the other names mean." Michael also corresponds with the element fire. Smith = everyone. Everyone set their heart on fire. This sounds close to a basic Thelemic instruction: "Invoke often. Enflame thyself in prayer." Val, as a nickname for Valentine plays the same part. It makes a pun of the Led Zeppelin lyric, "Valhalla, I am coming," ("Immigrant Song") with Norse mythology. 14 as the key number for Daleth, also relates for having a correspondence with Venus. As it turns out, I finished what I thought at the time was the final draft of "Five Footprints of a Camel" on Feb. 14th, 2023 so I noted the synch. Later, an additional 2 paragraphs were added.

      I completely agree with you that the phrase, now cliche, "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger" did not apply to Nietzsche's life. I don't even find it debatable. The complete breakdown that incapacitated Nietzsche for the last 10 years of his life obviously didn't make him stronger. My suspicion holds that Nietzsche didn't intend that phrase as a universal truth that advocates try to make it out as. Nietzsche struggled with often debilitating health issues for most of his adult life and came up with that expression more in line with self-help than anything else, as I see it. Some things, if they don't kill, do make one stronger. For instance, some viruses that provide future immunity if they don't kill you. Imo, not the worst attitude to take in the face of adversity.

      The paragraphs about Crowley's drug use and RAW's warning not to use acid before 40 were inserted after I thought the piece completed. They got inserted because, as one of the editors, I strongly objected to repeated insinuations in one of the Afterwords that LSD was needed, in combination with magick, to develop intuition or that it could easily get misread and misinterpretated that way. At one point we played with the idea of presenting a Warning at the beginning of the book pertaining to psychedelic use, but this got rejected by myself and others as unnecessary. I thought it would sound corny. So I asked and received permission to insert those paragraphs. RAW did make that warning as I wrote, and it did surprise me. At another moment in Crowley 101, an account was related of someone getting pressured to use psychedelics in a different class. RAW entered the conversation and quite forcefully told them to back off the peer pressure. In the next section of Lion of Life, RAW satirizes "acid trips" as a short cut to enlightenment. You sound spot on with the value of a daily meditation ritual in regard to working with psychedelics as an assisting factor.

      Thank-you for the info on "skeedaddle," I had completely forgotten about that if indeed it ever registered when I read "Appendix Tzaddi." To my knowledge, RAW appears the only person who qabalistically analyzed it.

      Deleuze and Guattari also borrowed Joyce's portmanteau word "chaosmos" for use in their philosophy.

      Cheers to the riff on the Prudence card. It recalls The Beatles "Dear Prudence" song for me, in particular the line, "won't you come out to play."

  9. Spookah, using Bob Wilson's terminology, I reimprinted my third circuit doing Crowleyesque Kabbalah work. In recent years I have become very interested in Ibn 'Arabi's work. A lot of concepts and vocabulary overlap between Ibn 'Arabi's work and the Kabbalah. I find that my arrogant assumption that I really understood these concepts gets in the way of my understanding Ibn 'Arabi in a deeper fashion. I struggle to loosen my third circuit imprint. Crowley and the Golden Dawn took a lot of the Kabbalah out of its original context, and I find that I have to recontextualize those concepts and try to differentiate between the Kabbalistic models and those of Ibn 'Arabi.

  10. @Oz, thank you for sharing the ventriloquist dog joke!

  11. Eric Wagner wrote, "Tom, I do not think highly of Uncle Al's character. I spent a lot of time with his books and exercises, and I regret that. I have deliberately stayed away from his works and thought for the past seventeen years, but his work left a big mark on me, especially working with the Kabbalah. It affects me every day. Bob Wilson had a tremendous ability not to condemn people and to get value from the work of troubled individuals like Crowley and Pound, etc."

    While I dislike Crowley as a person, I am fascinated that Eric, Oz, Gregory and RAW spent a great deal of time studying and practicing Crowley's magick, and all four of those folks seem like good people. So it seems as if you can study Crowley's system without becoming like him in the way one treats other people.

  12. Thank you Eric and Oz for your detailed answers.

    “Dear Prudence, won’t you come out to play.”
    Perhaps a reminder that all Work and no play makes the Seeker a dull critter?
    Or, “if you don’t have fun with Crowley, you’ll go mad.”
    Or, “the SubGenius must have Slack!”

    Tom, I guess you have to be able to separate the magick from the magician?
    Oz addresses this issue in the Foreword when he quotes RAW saying that “Forgiveness seems implied in Crowley’s refusal to hold fixed emotions or fixed mental states” and “they live happiest who have forgiven most.”

    But how to forgive?
    Here’s quoting Jack Kornfield:
    “Forgiveness does not forget, nor does it condone the past.”
    “Forgiveness means giving up all hope of a better past.”
    “In the end, forgiveness simply means never putting another person out of our heart.”
    Tim Leary was apparently said to seemingly not be able to hold a grudge.

  13. @Eric- I used to spend at least thirty minutes every evening in my dorm room copying out the Hebrew letters and their correspondences when I was in undergrad. It was a good practice in concentration.

    @Tom- My comment on your blog gives my attempt at reasoning out how I feel about Crowley and his dark side. I guess that I should have added that I do believe Crowley would have been a different person had he been born in this day and age, perhaps kinder and less sexist...maybe.

    @Oz- That's an arrogant assumption on my part, I was wrong. I also feel pretty silly as I simply associated gematria with the scenes in "Masks of the Illuminati." You are right about Babcock's ancestor in "Historical Illuminatus!" I apologize for missing the mark there.

    @Spookah- Great observation about Chapter 41! I completely missed that!


Lion of Light: Price of Admission--Your Mind

Lion of Light: “Starbride” and “The Great Beast: 0 – 10” Finally sinking our teeth into the crux of the biscuit, Wilson on Crowley. Like all...