Life’s explorations have led me to archangels, the first being, naturally, the peacock angel whose historical imagery and meaning has absolutely captivated me. Melek Taus is said to be an emanation of god, a benevolent angel who has redeemed himself from his fall, becoming a demiurge. The story goes something like this: Melek Taus was the first to emerge from darkness in form of the seven rainbow light. He first manifested as a rainbow around the sun and as a peacock sitting upon a pearl created by Lord Krishna. This pearl then exploded into the seven rays of rainbow to become the physical universe. From this array of colors, Melek Taus manifested from the color blue because blue is the color of the sky and heavens – the source of all colors. The remaining colors were then used to create the earth out of the substratum of the remaining pearl. Melek Taus blessed the earth with his rainbow peacock rays and endowed it with multicolored flora and fauna. He placed two pieces of the fragmented pearl above and below the earth. In one fragment he placed the sun, in the other he placed the moon. From the remaining scattered pieces he created the stars. I created this painting from imagery and colors received after deep meditation on this entity. In the future I plan to create more pieces using the literal imagery (rainbows!).
Here’s one of the best essays I’ve read concerning the Azoëtia which I found online couple of years ago. For those who haven’t read it, enjoy
THE AZOETIA, Thoughts on the Grimoire, by Andrew Logan Montgomery.
The Modern Necronomicon
If you are a serious occultist, you’ve probably heard of the Azoetia already. For the more casual reader, let me give you some background. In May, 1992, British “cunning man” Andrew Chumbley self-published a new occult work in limited edition. By 2002, Azoetia: A Grimoire of the Sabbatic Craft, was ready for re-release in another, slightly more deluxe edition (the Sethos edition, named for the book’s “guardian daemon”). It was already by that time a sensation. In today’s esoteric market, everyone seems to want to imitate the late Anton LaVey, whose 1969 Satanic Bible was a mass market grimoire written for the Everyman. Aleister Crowley had attempted such a thing decades earlier, but his work proved too dense for the non-specialist. The Satanic Bible, by contrast, was a little paperback anyone could purchase, read, and then completely apprehend all the “secrets” of magic with. When LaVey published this book, it was a landmark. Since then, however, everyone under the sun has tried to do the same thing, flooding the world with mass market self-help mumbo jumbo. Most of these modern New Age books are to the medieval grimoires, or Crowley’s Equinox, what the Big Mac is to filet mignon; cheap, filling, but utterly lacking in substance.
Chumbley decided to go against the current. It is the oldest magical formula in the book: do the opposite of what everyone else is doing. Thus, the Azoetia was neither mass market nor for the Everyman. Chumbley’s esoteric group, the Cultus Sabbati, released the volume in a very limited number through a publisher (“Xoanon,”) specifically created for the purpose. The book was exceedingly rare, and possession of it suddenly put you in an elite club.
By 2004, it seemed as if everyone in the occult community had heard of the book, but few had every actually seen it. Like Lovecraft’s Necronomicon, it seemed quasi-legendary, an urban legend for modern Magicians. And then, the unthinkable happened. On his 37th birthday, Andrew Chumbley died of a sudden, severe asthma attack.
Another thing Magicians share in common with Artists is that death makes their work even more valuable. In Chumbley’s case, this was triply so. Not only had he died young, suddenly, and unexpectedly, the very date of his death had eerie occult significance. There is something weird—in the classic sense of the word—about dying on your birthday, particularly given Chumbley’s profession. Add to this the fact that the number 37 has tremendous qabbalistic significance; 37 is the number of the “Perfected Man,” the three divine Sephiroth of the Tree of Life balanced above the 7 manifest Sephiroth below the Abyss. In addition, 37 is the seed of all triple numbers. 37 x 3 = 111, 37 x 6 = 222, 37 x 9 = 333, and 37 x 18 = 666. These coincidences all coalesced, turning tragedy into a kind of frenzy. On the internet, people started to compare Chumbley to Lovecraft’s Abdul Alhazred, who penned the infamous Necronomicon before himself dying a mysterious death. The Azoetia was lifted from legend to myth. The result was a kind or viral marketing campaign. Copies of the Azoetia couldn’t be obtained for love or money.
Well…not exactly. People were willing to part with their precious Azoetias for absurd amounts of money…usually in the range of $1500 to $2500 US. Worse still, one was expected to shell out the cash sight unseen. If you went on Amazon to read “reviews” of the book, for example, no one seemed willing to talk about what it actually said. All you got was a bunch of scary hoodoo about the book being a “True Grimoire,” “not for the weak-hearted,” “a text only for the most serious student,” etc, etc. As I started to research the book, it became clear to me that most owners weren’t willing to divulge its contents mainly because it’s very mystery ensured its value. I began to wonder if anyone actually used it.
More fuel was added to the fire by the Cultus Sabbati themselves. In an age where every “secret,” “occult” order has a website and runs around constantly blabbing about it’s teachings and trying to recruit new members, the Cultus was truly closed. Few knew what they stood for, what they did, or how to get in. Possession of the Azoetia seemed to be the only glimpse inside a secret order that really was secret.
I had gotten my hands on Qutub, Chumbley’s second work, some time before and found it astounding. This made me only more determined to read the Azoetia. Reasoning there is no point calling yourself a magician if you can’t even conjure up a book, I sent out a sigil for it, Austin Spare style, and went about my business. About three months later a friend put me in touch with a young woman who had found religion and wanted to get rid of her “devil books” as quickly as possible. It turned out she had an Azoetia, and I picked it up for little over it’s original price. That was back in 2007. I’ve had to re-read and digest this extraordinary book for five years before feeling like I could start to discuss it.
But not all in one post. So here is the first of an eventual series of essays on the work.
A Book By Its Cover
The Sethos edition is indeed a handsome book. Hardbound with the very highest quality binding, the spine is stamped with the title, the publisher’s imprint, and a sigil that resembled the god Set crossed with a Spare-type sigil. This would be the mark of Sethos, no doubt. The cover bears a mandala-like magic circle, an eight-spoked wheel bearing 22 mystical letters, around the circumference of which are words of power in the same characters.
The title is itself provocative. “Azoth” was the Universal Solvent or Medicine of alchemy, the “quintessence” from which everything else was made. Lovecraft might have been inspired by this term when he created “Azathoth,” the mindless, nuclear chaos from which the universe emerged. In any case, Azoth plays a key role in the book, as we shall later see. “Goetia” (perhaps the source of the second half of the title) is the fabled medieval Lesser Key of Solomon, the grimoire of grimoires concerned with the evocation of fallen angels.The title Azoetia is suggestive of both the original essence of creation and the calling up of spirits. One might wish to translate it as “the calling of daemons from primal quintessence,” which given the contents of the book is not so radical an interpretation.
The first thing readers will wish to know is to what tradition does the Azoetia belong. Is it Wiccan? Satanic? Hermetic? Thelemic? Voodoo? Sufi? Chaotic? The answer, it seems, is “all of the above.”
“…it has been my endeavor,” the author writes in his introduction to the first edition, “to define those Principles underlying the many different paths of Magick and to unify them within the single body of a working grimoire…” It would seem, therefore, that the author is working from a Perennialist viewpoint, the assumption that there exists a universal truth or set of truths in all schools of magic and philosophy. He confirms this a few paragraphs later;“…all currents of Magick flow from a single fountain, and I, in drawing this Grimoire from my dreams, have hopefully filled a cup from a pure source…” For Chumbley, the dogmatic differences of occult traditions are veils, masks concealing a single, hidden source. The Azoetia is an attempt to tap directly into that source.
The skeptic might say that Chumbley is not so much as tapping into the primordial source of occult traditions as synthesizing a new one from diverse schools of thought. Either viewpoint is valid with regards to this text. The final point is that virtually any Magician, working from any tradition, could find in the pages ofAzoetia some portion of teachings or practices mirroring his or her own.
For example, despite consciously distancing himself from the modern schools of Wicca, Chumbley’s “Sabbatic Craft” shares a great deal in common with them (at least on the surface). This text is very much concerned with a God and a Goddess (the former embodying Death and the latter coming in triple forms). The working tools mirror those of Gardenarian or Alexandrian Wicca; the wand, a black handled Arthame (Athame), a white handled working knife, a Pentacle, a Cup, a Cord, a Circle, an Altar, etc. The opening ritual closely resembles Wiccan Circle Casting, and there is even a wheel of the year. However, elements from other traditions are clearly woven in here. A magical quill is included, which recalls the Peacock Angel Melek Taus (a key figure in Qutub). The altar is a double cube (more Hermetic than Wiccan). The temple includes a central pole, or “fetish-tree” which is nearly identical in function to those in voodoo honfours.
But all of this, the author asserts, is just set dressing, with little bearing on the truth of the text. A constant theme throughout the Azoetia is the reminder that all the tools, rituals, incantations, and even the text itself are just outward expressions of inner truths. Without getting too far ahead of myself, the last page of the Azoetia reads; HERE ENDETH THE GRIMOIRE AZOETIA…MISTAKE NOT THIS BOOK FOR THE WORDS UPON ITS PAGES. Chumbley earnestly wants us to understand that the grimoire, and all the tools, are physical representations of something else, something without form. For him, Magick is tool of working backwards from the trappings towards that inner source.
Again, back to the introduction; “…the Quintessence of Magick is not to be found by the combination of externals, but solely by the direct realisation of innate source. It is not to be discovered by system with system, belief with belief, or practice with practice; it is not found by uniting the “elements” in their temporally manifest forms. For beyond the Outer, beyond the dualistic and substantive manifestations of element with element, the Quintessence is already attained…when this Mystery is understood, the secret of the Azoth is revealed in truth…”
Like the Chaos Magicians, or to an extent Anton LaVey, Chumbley is telling us that the dogmatic elements of Magick are all mechanisms to tap into its noumenal source. Writing from this standpoint allows Chumbley to imbue his grimoire with a quality which transcends divisions of tradition. A Hermetic is going to read the Azoetia and say “Chumbley was really one of us.” But the Wiccan, the Satanist, and the Thelemite might all come to the same conclusion. Whether you feel that this is evidence of Chumbley’s “Quintessence,” or just a skilled job at integrating diverse forms and practices, is up to you.
The second edition of the Azoetia bears the name of the entity watching over it, and opens with a dedication to him. Chumbley explains “Sethos” as…“the Daimon of the Grimoire Azoetia; a noetic emanation of the Magical Quintessence; a mediator between Abel, Cain, and Seth, that is, between the Sacrificed Man of Clay (the Uninitiate Self), the Transformative Man of Fire (the Initiating and Becoming Self), and the Self-Transformed Man of Light (the Initiatic Self-existent One)…” p. 361
Chumbley is drawing on a bit of Gnosticism here. For the Gnostics, ideological rivals of the early Christian Church, the Hebrew God described in the Old Testament wasn’t the Good Guy at all, but rather the Villain. He and his angels were merely lesser emanations of the True Deity. The Gnostics called the false god Ialdabaoth, and explained that he had fashioned the world of matter as a prison to hold captive human souls (which were, in fact, tiny sparks of the True God). Ineffable, invisible, and intangible, the True Deity was far removed from the material world. He did not act directly, but only sent forth emanations. For some Gnostics, Jesus was just such an emanation, sent by the True God to liberate people from the captivity of false one.
While this may seem odd to the modern reader, it does explain a great deal of the Bible’s inconsistencies. Any objective reading of the text leads the reader to wonder how the jealous, vindictive, and murderous God of the Old Testament could possibly be the beneficent and compassionate one spoken of by Jesus. In addition, it explains the problem of suffering and evil a lot more efficiently than the more standard “blame-it-on-Lucifer” line. Regardless, this is what various Gnostic groups believed and taught down through the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd centuries, until the Christian Church got organized and started putting them out of business.
Now, if you reread the Bible with Gnosticism in mind, several things change. For example, in Eden, Ialbadaoth and his angelic cronies suddenly appear to be keeping Adam and Eve naked and stupid, like apes. Then along comes the serpent, who actually helps the couple by persuading them to rebel. He talks them into eating the fruit of knowledge and becoming self-aware. They stop being animals and start being human. For this reason, there was an entire Gnostic sect known as the Ophites (snake-worshippers).
But there was another Gnostic sect known as the Cainites. To understand why, we must consider the next biblical drama; Cain and Abel. Cain, the eldest son of Adam and Eve, is the first farmer and blacksmith. Abel is a herdsman. God (ie Ialbadoath) commands the two to make a sacrifice to Him. Cain sacrifices the finest fruits of the harvest. Abel slaughters an animal. As a result, God favors Abel’s sacrifice and scorns Cain’s. Message? This God wants blood. As a result, Cain murders his brother and as a result undergoes a mysterious transformation. Though sent into exile, he is somehow “marked” with a sign of God’s protection. If anyone tries to punish or murder Cain for his crime, they themselves will be punished by God. This is completely bizarre, given Yahweh’s “eye for an eye” mentality. Even more odd, in the wake of losing two sons, Eve conceives a new son, Seth.
Seth is a very curious figure in both Gnosticism and mystical Judaism. Many sects regarded Seth as an emanation of the True God. The line of Seth was called the “sons of God,” and believed to be holy. Adam is said to have given them the secrets of the Kabbalah, and many Gnostics belived that Seth—not Jesus—was the savior who would return at the end of time.
For Gnostics, Seth’s incarnation was made possible by Cain’s sacrifice. Abel was the first human being to die, and by killing him Cain had opened a path into the otherworld, a path along which the True God could send part of Itself into Ialbadaoth’s creation. Perhaps Yahweh couldn’t punish Cain because he somehow enjoyed the protection of the higher, true God.
With all this in mind, we are ready to tackle the dedication opening the Sethos edition of the Azoetia;
O Sethos! Rise up and remember!
Recall the Promise once stain’d in red upon the primal dust of the earth!
By baying dog and moon-beam, by lantern, stave, and upright stone,
Come fathom the starlit heights of Heaven in the Old Dew-pool of Cain.
Come ring the blood round with the Serpent, Come turn the skin of time,
Come pace about the corpse of Abel, here break the Fate of Mortal Man!
Here cast forth the Visions from Yesterday, from Tomorrow, unto Today.
Here open the way for the Crooked Path, for the Pathway forever to be!
O Sethos! Rise up and remember,
‘Til thy Namesake, the Man of Light, is born!
The Crooked Path is the one opened by the sacrifice of Abel, and it leads directly to the Azoth. And Cain—the first Magician—is held as the psychopomp, the opener of the way.
Now on one level, Abel is the Uninitiated Self, the normal, everyday mortal held captive by the system, subject to all the laws of nature and time. Cain is the Initiate who rebels against this, sacrificing his old life up in an effort to tear free from the bounds of time and space. And Seth is the Divine Self, the perfected being born from Cain’s sacrifice, the magician who completes his quest. We are seeing the old alchemical formula, solve et coagula, again.
In purely psychological terms, this myth reflects the fact that our lives and identities are hollow constructs, forced upon us by heredity, society, and experience. It urges us to murder these identities and to replace them with entirely self-created ones, to transform ourselves into who we want to be rather than who we’ve been told to be.
But on another level, Abel represents what Chumbley calls Zoa—the life force present in all human beings, analogous to the alchemical mercury. Cain is his darker twin, Azoa, the force of death equally present within us, analogous to salt. And Seth/os would be Azothos, the magical force that unites and transcends both, the divine fire analogous to sulfur. The work of the magician is to liberate himself from both the forces of life (with its pains, cravings, and instability) and death (with its limitation and finality). He must murder Abel and exile Cain, so that Seth (transcendence) might be born.
Aleister Crowley touched on all of this in his Book of Thoth, particularly with regards to the Trumps “Lovers” and “Art.” Another excellent source for further reading would be the writings of Julius Evola (the best being The Hermetic Tradtion).
‘As I mentioned before, the word “occult” simply means “hidden,” and the word “esoteric” means “inner” (its opposite is “exoteric,” the outer appearance of things). These definitions must always be kept in mind by those approaching literature of this kind. The really great occultists, and I think Chumbley belongs in this category, write passages like Russian matryoshka dolls. If you look at the surface of what is written, you are missing what is hidden inside. You need to dig, dig again, and then dig some more. The reasoning behind this sort of thing is not merely to encode it–something that was desperately necessary in the centuries when the Church had the power to execute those who questioned its doctrines–nor to keep it from the eyes of the ‘profane.‘ The fact is occultists are often trying to communicate something incommunicable, or more to the point, something that the reader must seek for himself. Once more, the world of magic is a mirror, and in digging through layers of a passage like this, the reader is looking deeper and deeper into himself. You cannot simply be “told” any meaningful secret…it has to be discovered and earned. My purpose is unpacking this 300-word passage of Chumbley’s is not only to illuminate his philosophy, but to demonstrate to the reader the intricacy of this kind of work.
And so Chumbley has given us a recycled version of the myth of Lucifer, simultaneously drawing us deeper and earlier to the Hebrew “fallen angel” myth that precedes the Christian retelling. In doing so, he has tipped his Gnostic hand. There are at least two deeper levels ahead, but we need to stop a minute and consider the meaning of what we have already discovered. We need to dwell on “Gnostic” for a bit.
“Gnosticism” is an umbrella term for hundreds of sects, but what they all share is an approach to truth if not the same conclusions on what the “truth” is. The Indian subcontinent, which gave rise to some of the richest philosophical and religious traditions in the world, often employs the word yoga when discussing spiritual practices. This is not merely stretching and breathing exercises; in India it is synonymous with “religion.“ In fact, the word yoga is connected to the English “yoke,” both Sanskrit and English being descendants of a common Indo-European tongue. They both mean the same thing; something that “joins” two things together. This is exactly the meaning of “religion,” from the Latin re ligio (to bind two things together; “ligature” comes from the same source).
India recognizes many types of yoga, or religious approaches, three of the most common being bhakti yoga (joining yourself to the divine through love and faith), karma yoga (joining yourself to the divine through good works and proper conduct), and jnaya yoga (joining yourself to the divine through knowledge and direct experience). Historically, the Christian Church in the west decided early on that bhakti was the official method of coming to God, with karma running second. But Christianity has always been uncomfortable with “knowledge,” a word again linguistically related to both the Sanskrit jnaya and the Greek gnosis through those same Indo-European roots. It is a matter of historical record that the Church tried relentlessly to eradicate any knowledge that contradicted its teachings–the Renaissance only could occur after prolonged contact with Islamic civilization, which had preserved classical writings instead of destroying them. The church discouraged seeking direct knowledge of the divine in favor of serving as the sanctioned intermediary between man and God. The Gnostics, as their name implies, rebelled against this. What joins all the various Gnostic sects is the doctrine of initiation, of discovery, of knowledge and personal experience as the road to truth.
We cannot blame the Church entirely for its discomfort with knowledge…it inherited this from the Hebrew priesthood it is modeled upon. In retrospect it was probably Islam’s lack of an institutionalized religious authority that left it more open to knowledge; there was no Islamic church or temple that needed a monopoly on knowledge to justify is existence. Twice in the Hebrew myths connected to this passage we have seen God frown upon “leaks” in heaven’s knowledge monopoly. First in the passage’s reference to Eden and the serpent (the fall of Man caused by eating the fruit of knowledge) and second in its reference to the fall of the Watchers in 1 Enoch (damned for teaching the arts and sciences to men). Ironically, the Church seems to have inherited its “we have all the answers” mentality from the very priesthood that Christ accused of not having all the answers. But the Gnostics were having none of it, and Chumbley is throwing his lot in with theirs.
Which brings us to the part where we must lift the next veil.
Who the heck are these “Elder Gods” Chumbley is talking about?
While many readers are familiar with the story of Lucifer and that of the serpent in Eden, and careful readers of the Bible are aware of the Watchers and their dalliance with the daughters of men, this notion of gods existing before (G)od probably comes out of nowhere to them. Well buckle those seat-belts gentle reader, this is where the real fun begins.
Let’s start with the most obvious. I cannot say with absolute certainty, but I would be more than willing to wager, that Chumbley is sneaking in a reference to H.P. Lovecraft’s fictional brood here. Lovecraft–who was himself a materialist and atheist–wrote weird fiction and horror tales that often included the “Old Ones” or “Elder Gods.“ These were vast and incomprehensible alien beings who reigned over the cosmos long before man evolved, and fell into decline before the first human civilizations appeared. Now they are somehow locked “outside” of our universe, and much of his fiction deals with them trying to get back in. These Elder Gods were purely fictitious, but–as we shall see–reflective of genuine mythological beings. More importantly, they found their way into occultism around the mid-20th century. Anton LaVey–who like modern Chaos Magicians viewed belief as a tool and all gods as symbols–published two rituals dedicated to these Elder Gods. Several other occultists, most notably the anonymous “Simon” and more recently Donald Tyson, have published their own versions of the Necronomicon, a book Lovecraft invented detailing these Old Ones. But the reason I am quite comfortable in linking Chumbley with them is that Chumbley was a member of Kenneth Grant’s British offshoot of Aleister Crowley's Ordo Templi Orientis from 1993-1999. While Grant is a fascinating figure in his own right, what matters here is that he wrote extensively about Lovecraft’s prehistoric gods and included them in his magical teachings. I have no doubt this is how Chumbley comes to incorporate them.
Am I telling you that Chumbley is now talking about fictional entities in his occult teachings? Yes, and no. We need to remember the mask and the mirror, the lies that point to truth. I spoke at length in my article on Qutub on the Qabalistic concept of zero, of nothingness, and the true nature of God (ultimate reality). Basically, the “real” God is by definition ineffable and incomprehensible. Anything less and it could not be God. Yahweh, like all gods, is a human invention, an attempt for the sake of convenience to put a face and a name to that which is nameless and faceless. Yahweh is thus no more real than Lovecraft’s gods; but God being omniversal, these gods can tell us something true about God’s nature just as surely as Yawheh can. In fact, from the Gnostic point of view, the Elder Gods are closer to an accurate conception of God than Yawheh is because Lovecraft’s deities are themselves incomprehensible. By being outside our ability to understand, the Elder Gods are more reflective of real ultimate reality. Further, the Gnostics believed that the “true” God existed outside of the universe, something we touched on in talking about the Azoetia. For them, the universe was far too imperfect to be the handiwork of a perfect being, and thus ascribed Creation to the “Demiurge,” a manifestation of the true God with delusions of grandeur. In their conception, this tyrannical God manufactures the universe and traps humanity within it. Having fashioned the cosmos and shut himself away from the True God, the Demiurge becomes the “jealous” god of the Old Testament, convincing himself he is the one and only god and setting himself up as a despot. The Gnostic path was to escape our prison and return to the True God outside of it. Chumbley is clearly merging Lovecraft’s extra-dimensional deities with the Gnostic one.
Again, he has a sound reason for doing this, but before we get there a moment must be taken to scratch our heads over his cryptic “Those who are without number and yet are numbered as Eight.” The first half should be easy to understand by now; without number is 0, the Qabalistic conception of nothingness. The Eight is a bit more problematic. I will submit three points for your consideration.
It is possible that Chumbley is taking a page from Crowley’s play book, and that this “Eight” is a sly reference to the “infinity” symbol (an 8 on its side). Those who are without number and yet are infinite.
It is possible that Chumbley is nodding his head towards Chaos Magicians, another group he had close contact with (having written for the journal Chaos International). Without getting distracted now–I plan on talking about Chaos Magic in a future entry–it is enough to say now that this school uses Chaos as a way to describe the same idea as the Qabalistic Zero, and that the unofficial but widely used Chaos symbol is an eight-pointed star. We will come back to Chaos at the close of this entry, so keep it in mind.
Or it could be that he means the Qabalistic “Eight.“ Qabalah is another topic that demands an essay (or a hundred essays) unto itself, but to summarize here Qabalah ascribes symbolic meaning to numbers, especially the first ten, which form spheres of experience on a diagram called The Tree of Life. We have already discussed the meaning of zero, but to fully grasp what Chumbley is telling us we need to breeze through the next ten. I will use a model created by Aleister Crowley, the elegant and succinct “Naples Arrangement,” to summarize for you.
After the infinite, indescribable perfection of Qabalistic nothingness, we arrive at One. This is the mathematical point, or Qutub, again. It is the “I” and the “eye,” a mystery we will save for later. The point is the first manifestation of nothingness, positive yet undefinable. It has position but nothing else. It is the number of the Demiurge, the god who thinks it is the first to exist and the source for the rest of the universe (ie numbers). “With the conception of the Universe was the Beginning and the Fall of the One, the One that men have named falsely,“ Chumbley tells us. One thinks it is the first, but Nothing was before it.
"At the side of the One there was the Secret One, the Angel Most High, Emissary of the Elder Gods." Here is the number Two, who Chumbley identifies with the Elder Gods (Zero). Why? The answer again is Crowley, who attempted to reconcile the old mystical question of whether the universe was dualistic, monistic, or nihilistic with an elegant equation. The "dualistic” universe is that wherein God creates the universe but stands outside of it. The monistic universe, most famously seen in the Indian Advaita Vedanta school, postulates that “all is One” and separateness is illusion. The nihilistic school is typified by early Buddhism, and says the nature of the universe is nothingness. This is also the Qablastic position. Crowley stood forward and said “2=0,” that the universe appears dualistic and is simultaneously nihilistic. In short, if all the pairs of opposites in the cosmos are viewed from a distance, everything vanishes into zero. Observer and observed, hot and cold, light and dark…all of the positive “n” plus the negative “n” balance out to 0 (n + -n = 0). It was a cornerstone of his system of Thelema. “One” is leap-frogged over because it is not as perfect as Zero and cannot be defined without Two; “…position does not mean anything at all unless there is something else, some other position with which it can be compared. One has to describe it. The only way to do this is to have another Point, and that means one must invent the number Two…" Here then is Chumbley’s Angel Most High, the number Two that is secretly the true manifestation of Zero and the "Secret One” that the One needs to even exist.
Then comes Three, a number that is necessary for the universe to begin. Two points makes a line, but we cannot even say how long that line is without a third coordinate to measure it. Three gives us the first geometric shape, the Triangle (the circle belongs to Zero), it gives us the synthesis that reconciles thesis and antithesis. It is the child of the Mother and Father.
Four is the manifestation of Matter, a point defined by three coordinates, the birth of the Third Dimension. The first Pythagorean solid, the three sided pyramid, now is possible. Five introduces Motion, and therefore “time." Six is said to be where the Point becomes conscious, able to define itself by position, direction, and form. Now the next three are forms of experience drawn from Indian philosophy, Ananda, Chit, and Sat. These are the things the conscious and manifested point experiences on its journey. Ananda is "bliss” or “sensation,” and is associated with Seven. Sat is “being,” the awareness of existence. That is number 9. But the number 8, which I skipped over briefly, is “Knowledge." And this brings us back to Chumbley’s "Those who are without number and yet are numbered as Eight” and the third possibility.
Knowledge is the union of two points. One point-event experiences another when they collide. If it helps, think of “knowledge” in the Biblical sense. But this is 2=0 again. In knowing each other, two points become one and difference is erased. The third possibility is a very Gnostic one, and ties up our entire discussion neatly. The Eight could be Chaos, it could be Infinity or it could be Knowledge, all of which are expressions of the Qabalistic Zero or how to attain the ultimate reality of the Qabalistic Zero. My suspicion is that it is simultaneously all three.’
(Left) The Dragon-Book of Essex, by Andrew D. Chumbley - Pub 2014.
(Right) Twin-Lions Azoëtia, Sethos edition, by Andrew D. Chumbley - Pub 2003.