From Hymenaeus Beta, Frater Superior, O.T.O.
Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
The reading “fill me” in Liber Legis III:37 has long been known to conflict with the text it was meant to quote, i.e., Crowley’s Paraphrase of the hieroglyphs of the Stèle of Revealing, which has the reading “kill me.”
Our best source for what happened during the writing of this section of Liber Legis is chapter 7 of The Equinox of the Gods (a section written in 1921, published 1936):
“Verse 35 states simply that section one of this chapter is completed.
“I seem to have become enthusiastic, for there is a kind of interlude reported by Aiwaz of my song of adoration translated from the Stèle; the incident parallels that of chapter I, verse 26, etc.
“It is to be noted that the translations from the Stèle in verses 37–38 were no more than instantaneous thoughts to be inserted afterwards.
“Verse 38 begins with my address to the God in the first sentence, while in the second is his reply to me. He then refers to the hieroglyphs of the Stèle, and bids me quote my paraphrases. This order was given by a species of wordless gesture, not visible or audible, but sensible in some occult manner.”
The last two sentences are the key to understanding what happened, in my opinion. The operative words are “order” and “quote.” It does not explain the discrepancy in his pencilled aide-memoire note in the MS. of Liber AL.
From Crowley’s conversations recorded in 1924 by Norman Mudd, we know that a typescript was prepared in Cairo, and that three copies were made:
“Three typed copies made in Cairo. One used by publishers of Zaehnsdorf edition (Chiswick Press) previous to rediscovery of MSS. Errors in vellum books due to the fact that this typescript not properly checked from MSS.”
(Crowley, Conversations with Norman Mudd, quoted in the Preface to The Holy Books of Thelema (1983), p. xiii; the full conversations were published, slightly abridged, as Norman Mudd, “Conversations with Crowley,” The Magical LinkI(10) Feb./March 1988, p. 89.
In this quotation, “vellum books” refer to the three-volume issue of Thelema (1909)—the few copies bound in one volume have the same textual problems.
There is good evidence that Crowley was not the typist, and that he hired someone in Cairo. While no copy of the original Cairo typescript is known to have survived, the typesetting inThelema (1909) was based on this typescript, and it has misreadings that were the result of someone having trouble reading Crowley’s handwriting. For example, it has “unalterable” for “unutterable in I:58, “triumph” for “trample” in II:24 and “Before!” for “Beware!” in III:2. Crowley would not have misread these words in his own handwriting.
Exactly how the “fill” reading in the quotation from the separate Paraphrase got into III:37 in the Cairo typescript is not known. It is safe to assume that both the vellum notebook with the Paraphrase and the MS. of Liber Legis were on hand when the Cairo typescript was made. Perhaps the typist turned from typing the MS. to the vellum notebook to insert the Paraphrase from the vellum book, and then on returning to the MS, saw the “fill” reading in Crowley’s pencil note, and assumed “fill” was the intended reading. This would not likely have been caught since, as Crowley told Mudd, the typescript was never proofread. It is unlikely that we will ever know precisely what happened.
By 1907 Crowley had his Cairo typescript of Liber Legis with what I once thought was the cover-page to the MS. of Liber Legis, but now (based on its physical size, provenance and timing factors) believe to be the original cover-page to his copy of the Cairo typescript (this was first published in Liber ABA, Magick, p. xl). Crowley had Liber Legis typeset for a planned appendix to vol. 3 of his Collected Works in 1907 (the appendix never appeared, though vol. 3 did). These proofs, dated September 24, 1907 in what may be Crowley’s hand, are uncorrected except for a few markings of irregular column margins. J.F.C. Fuller preserved these proofs along with the original French translation of the Stèle hieroglyphs and the Liber Legistypescript title-page. The proofs have a few MS. notes in Fuller’s hand, but it is likely that these were added later (one note is datable as late as 1938 or after).
The Collected Works proofs for Liber Legis were made from the Cairo typescript—a footnote even refers to the manuscript as having been lost—and it agrees closely with the later setting forThelema (1909). These proofs also reproduce a ritual entitled “The Great Invocation” that probably dates from the Cairo Working; its original MS. is now lost, but interestingly, it reproduces some stanzas from Crowley’s Paraphrase of the Stèle, giving the reading “kill me”—thus being an independent attestation of the original reading believed to be in the MS. of the Paraphrase in the now-lost vellum notebook. The Collected Works proofs are thus the earliest evidence showing the textual discrepancy between the Paraphrase (as quoted in “The Great Invocation”) and the typescript of Liber Legis. Interestingly, Crowley seems to have been at pains to reproduce what he had at hand in 1907 of the Cairo Working textual material. That the Paraphrase of the Stèle itself is omitted in this planned appendix—where Crowley is clearly interested in reproducing his works connected with the Cairo Working—suggests that the vellum notebook containing the Paraphrase was with the MS. of Liber Legis, and unavailable in 1907. It is not like Crowley to willingly omit poetry like his Stèle Paraphrase in that sort of editorial context.
This brings us to the first publication of Liber CCXX in the first edition of the Holy Books in three volumes, Thelema. This book is undated internally, but proofs of some sections (including Liber CCXX) survive, dated October 20, 1908. These were proofread by Crowley, but it was not what is called a “copy” proofreading, comparing the source to the new setting; his few markings are concerned with bad margins and dropped punctuation at the margins, i.e., typical letterpress typesetting problems of a technical nature. We know from Crowley’s 1924 e.v. conversations recorded by Norman Mudd, quoted above, that the MS. was not used to prepare Thelema—it was still missing when Thelema was being typeset and proofed in 1908. According to Crowley in The Equinox of the Gods (end of chap. 6), Thelema was published in 1909. There is however a diary entry from April 8, 1924 that dates Thelema to An. Ovi (spring 1910–spring 1911 e.v.), but Crowley was uncertain, writing “AL private edition?” Almost all copies of Thelema are in three volumes in cream vellum boards. Crowley made up a few in one volume, printed on animal vellum with a gilt Morocco binding by Zaehnsdorf. This fine binder may well have taken their time with the commission for the special copies, which may mean that Crowley did not receive his personal copy of Thelema until a little later than 1909.
Crowley found the MS. of Liber Legis in his attic at Boleskine House in the summer of 1909—too late for checking Thelema, even had it occurred to him to do so. I think it likely that he found the vellum book containing the Stèle Paraphrase along with the MS, as I believe they had been kept together.
Crowley gave the MS. its first publication in a very reduced photofacsimile in The Equinox I(7) in spring 1912, along with a facsimile plate of the Stèle of Revealing and his Paraphrase of the Hieroglyphs from the Stèle of Revealing (the title of which was misspelled “Revelling”). I believe that this editorial work made him aware of the “kill”/“fill” discrepancy between the Stèle Paraphrase (“kill”) and his pencil MS. note about its insertion into Liber CCXX (“fill”). It is reasonable to assume that he would have consulted the MS. of Liber Legis as well as the original vellum notebook with the Paraphrase on such an important question. I therefore think that it is likely that Crowley made the correction to his 1909 Thelema in 1912. To summarize what I believed happened, Crowley clearly identified and studied the problem with the right source materials at hand, made a decision, and made the correction in the most official of official copies at that time. It is my opinion that, in all likelihood, he promptly forgot about the issue, and may not have given it another thought. Crowley had a remarkable ability to “get on to the next thing”—it is one of the keys to his creativity and prodigious output. But it does not make him the most meticulous caretaker of his own past output—something that is amply documented in his surviving papers.
Crowley did pay more attention to the MS. the following year with the typesetting of Liber CCXX for The Equinox I(10)—or at least, he had his editorial staff do so. This was its second typeset publication, and it appeared in the fall of 1913, probably in middle or late fall, as the issue ran late.
Crowley had two personal copies of The Equinox I(10) 1913, but these tell us very little about the handling of Liber Legis. One (now in the Yorke Collection) was the basis for the 1936 setting of The Equinox of the Gods, according to Yorke, who notes: “Alterations in the hand of A.C. for the printers in preparing The Equinox of the Gods.” Only one correction was made, to III:34 (“The tomb” > “the tomb”), and only one minor marginal annotation. The second annotated copy of The Equinox I(10) is in a private collection, and there the text of Liber CCXX shows no signs of later proofreading; there are periodic marginal copyist’s marks that suggest that it may have been used as the source copy for a later retyping or resetting.
Now, to return to the 1909 Thelema, and in particular, the Crowley-Windram copy of Thelemarecently given to the O.T.O. Archives by Bro. Windram’s son. This was originally Crowley’s copy in which he made his earliest notes and corrections. It was thus, at the time, the primaryprinted codex for the Holy Books including Liber CCXX—Crowley’s master copy, if you will.
Around the fall equinox of 1913 Crowley gave his copy of Thelema to James Thomas Windram, who was visiting London from South Africa. We know when this happened with some precision from Crowley’s manuscript inscription.
Fratri Carissime fidem servanti hunc librum d[…]
[Sol] in [Libra] An IX
This dates the gift to Sept. 23–Oct. 24, 1913; we may someday be able to trace Windram’s departure date from England to date this more precisely. The last word or words of the inscription are cut off by termite damage—the book having been stored in rural South Africa for over seventy years. But with that caveat, I think it says:
To the dearest brother, who holds his word [or, to the servant of faith], I give this book.
Crowley’s Thelema has fifteen marginal comments scattered throughout the book, in addition to dozens of notes to “Liber XXVII” (“Trigrammaton”)—basically his earliest versions of his English letter-attributions to its verses. All of the notes are in Crowley’s hand, and none are in Windram’s hand. Windram’s handwriting is clear and distinctive, and easily distinguishable from Crowley’s.
The Crowley-Windram Thelema has the following marked corrections: Liber CCXX II:54 (“Now” > “Nor”), III:37 (“to stir me or to still me” > “to stir me or still me”), III:37 (“Aum! let it fill me!” > Aum! let it kill me!”), “Liber LXV” V:8 (“thou has prostrated” > “thou hast prostrated”) and “Liber VII” IV:3 (“even into the finger-tips” > “even unto the finger-tips”). Three of the four corrections to Liber CCXX were made in The Equinox I(10) (1913), and the correction to “Liber LXV” was made in The Equinox III(1) (1919). (“Liber VII” was never republished in Crowley’s lifetime, so he had no opportunity to publish that correction, which remains unpublished to this day.) One correction to Liber CCXX (the change from “fill” to “kill” in III:37) was not made in The Equinox I(10).
I proofread Liber Legis as it appears in Thelema (1909) against its appearance in The EquinoxI(10) (1913), and Thelema is an editorial train wreck, with no less than seventeen wrong words, five missing words, two extra words, one word transposition and a great many capitalization changes, extra, missing or changed punctuation, wrong accents, and the consistent use of “and” wherever the MS. has an ampersand.
It seems clear that the proofreading for the 1913 setting was done by an Equinox editor, or editors, possibly with Crowley participating, using the Paraphrase as published in 1912 (possibly the actual notebook as well), and the MS. of Liber Legis.
Crowley returned to London from Russia on August 30, and wrote the sub-editor, Victor B. Neuburg on September 1:
“I was delayed a fortnight coming from Moscow which makes the pressure on me at the moment tremendous. No. X will have nearly 600 pp. in it as far as I can make out and I am particularly anxious to have a second eye to go over the proofs. If you could manage to come up for one day or two, if possible Wednesday, I think it would be got through. I sent you the proofs as I have to go through Liber Legiswith the [holograph manuscript?] which is as you remember on a book [? big?] roll, and I am anxious to obey the injunction ‘not so much as the style of a letter.’ The final proofs I could send you, but they will not be in for a fortnight I suppose. It looks as though we were [sic] going to be a month late now.”
(Transcriptions of shorthand letter book, July and September 1913, Yorke Collection.)
Assuming that Neuburg (who had the first proofs and apparently the MS.) and Crowley met as proposed, they would have read the first proofs on September 3. But there is a telltale slip in the proofreading for II:21, where “ecstasy” was mistakenly changed to “ecstacy”, suggesting that the then-editor of The Equinox, Mary Desti, may have read (or helped to read) the proofs. An American was more likely to use “ecstacy”, while Crowley’s usage was “ecstasy,” and Neuburg used “ecstasy” or “exstasy” in the MS. of Liber 418. Whether Crowley worked through all the proofs himself with one or more of the editors, or delegated the verse by verse comparative work, is not known. We do know that September and October of 1913 was one of the busiest months of his life, so it would not be surprising if he delegated. But he unquestionably had input as, in the first or final proofs, he added a footnote concerning his memory of a dictated word vs. the MS. reading. He probably also wrote the endnote referring readers to the MS. for doubtful words and styles.
Whoever read the first (and the later final) proofs, I think that “fill” rather than “kill” was used for III:37 on the basis of the pencil note in the MS. If one or more editors handled it, they may have used a copy of Thelema as a backup reference. This need not have been A.C.’s temple copy; his editors had their own. With Crowley emphasizing—as he did to Neuburg—that the MS. needed to be followed, any proofreader might well have defaulted to the “fill” reading in the MS., absent information to the contrary. As noted above, this procedure might account for how that particular reading got into the Cairo typescript in the first place. Speaking as an editor, it is likely that I would have done the same in the circumstances, given the same general instructions.
Later editions of Liber Legis (UK 1936, 1938, US 1942) show some variation, which is not really relevant here, except to note that no completely satisfactory edition of Liber Legis was published in Crowley’s lifetime. Some of the more beautiful editions (e.g. the 1909 Thelema and the 1938 London O.T.O. edition, which had a limited buckram issue) are the least accurate. I have used a variety of these early editions in temple work as the altar copy, and do not worry about their minor variations, as any copy stands for the “ideal” Liber Legis. Around June 1913, when first organizing O.T.O., Crowley issued a directive stipulating the use of Thelema, which by then he should have known had accuracy issues:
“In all lodges of O.’.T.’.O.’. and M.’.M.’.M.’. in Great Britain and Ireland the Volume of the Sacred Law shall be the book of Thelema, or a facsimile copy of Liber Legis(CCXX), and no initiations upon any other document will be recognized by the Grand Lodge.”
(Golden Book of the O.T.O., quoted in R.A. Gilbert, Baphomet and Son, ed. Darcy Küntz (Edmonds: Holmes, 1997), p. 9.)
As an editor of editions of Liber CCXX and The Holy Books, I feel obligated to make the “fill” to “kill” correction because it was made by the prophet himself. I cannot go against an express directive, which is how I have to view Crowley’s correction. I really do not see that I have any choice in the matter, and what I might personally think (which might surprise some of you) is irrelevant. I am filing this one under “Obey my prophet!” (AL I:32).
The implementation of Crowley’s correction rests on Crowley’s authority as prophet. It does not rely on my authority as an officer of any order, or my supposed (by some!) expertise as a Crowley editor. We are dealing with a received religious text. The author was not just its scribe and prophet, he was also its executive editor, with the final say, though he himself deferred wherever possible to the instructions of Aiwaz. This particular problem involves material of Crowley’s own composition (the Stèle Paraphrase) that he was ordered to insert into the received text. It also involves a pencilled note to himself, in the MS. of the received text, that conflicts with the text he was ordered to quote. But the correction he later made is not ambiguous, and has to be accepted as a directive from the prophet—not dismissed as some sort of aberration. I have to assume that he was doing his best to honor the “order” to “quote” his Paraphrase that he had received—which is in fact a reasonable assumption, since the surviving sources for the material to be quoted support the accuracy of his correction.
As the editor of Liber Legis, Crowley had the requisite authority, knowledge, experience and access to all the necessary primary materials to decide this matter; we do not. Or, to back up the timeline and put it more bluntly: Crowley was at the Cairo Working; we were not. He marked what he wanted clearly. Who are we to second-guess him?
That the correction was made to the text’s first publication under its Class A imprimatur gives the correction the authority of Class A. In other words, his correction plainly means that there was a failure of accuracy in the 1909 Class A printing that he wanted corrected. His correction outweighs all secondary indications to the contrary, even when taken together.
A correction to a book carries a great deal more information than the change of a letter or word. It tells you (a) that the author (or in this case, scribe-prophet) wants the book changed; (b) it clearly tells you what is wrong; © it clearly tells you what it should be changed to. When corrections like this are made in an author’s personal copies, they have to be accepted at face value and incorporated—an editor has no right to ignore them. This is a problem familiar to any editor who works with an author’s MSS., proofs and personal annotated editions. In some countries with strong author’s rights laws, the author’s known revisions and corrections can be considered mandatory inclusions in posthumous editions.
That Crowley gave away the one copy in which he had made the correction, and failed to make the change in any of the subsequent editions in his lifetime, should not surprise us. His publications are well-known among bookmen for their typographical errors, as noted by Timothy d’Arch Smith in his excellent The Books of the Beast, which quotes Crowley’s letter to Gerald Yorke: “’Proof-reading is an art which I strongly recommend you not to learn; as long as there are any sewers to clean, you would be ill-advised to adopt it as a profession.” Crowley published his own magnum opus, Magick in Theory and Practice, in a first edition that was missing not one or two letters or words, but literally dozens of lines of text, rendering passages in as many pages almost incomprehensible. Crowley never noticed. Had O.T.O. not spent the $40,000 or so in O.T.O. treasury money on the necessary typescripts, and done the reverse proofreading, we might today all be convinced that the 1929–30 Magick in Theory and Practice was the last word in accuracy. (As a demonstration of the power of sheer conservatism, there are those who still swear by it!)
To rely on repeated later printed editions of Liber CCXX with the “fill” reading for authority gets into the syndrome of repeated error. Crowley’s usual practice was to hand the last printing to a compositor for the next printing, so errors tend to be repeated. There aren’t that many examples, as most of his works were not often reprinted, but this clearly occurred with the Gnostic Mass. It was written in 1913, and its original typescript takes its quotations of Liber Legis from the 1909 Thelema, and it therefore has the bad reading “children of the prophet.” Despite the fact that “children” was corrected to “child” in The Equinox I(10) only six months or so after the mass was written, Crowley published it in 1918, republished it in 1919, and reissued it yet again in 1929–30, all with the mistaken reading. Crowley is known to have performed the Gnostic Mass, and I would not be at all surprised had his Deacon used the “children of the prophet” reading, and even less surprised if Crowley had not noticed. The former is likely as it had been published with that reading, and it was present in TS. as well. The latter is likely because, if Crowley had noticed, he might well have thought to correct. I think that this shows that reliance on known or inferred past ritual practice is an unreliable guide for solving textual questions.
As for later printings of the Paraphrase, Crowley just had the original 1912 type reproduced in photofacsimile for the Stèle plate and Paraphrase in The Equinox of the Gods (1936). In his errata slip, which I believe appeared with the 1937 second issue, Crowley corrected “Revelling” to “Revealing,” but did not change “kill” to “fill.” However, it should be said that “Revelling” is an obvious error in a headline, and the chances are very good that Crowley had lost the Cairo vellum book with the Paraphrase many years earlier, and had nothing to proof the poetry against. But at least in this instance we know that he actually looked at one of the problem pages in question, so it possible that he read the entire Paraphrase through and accepted the “kill me” reading again. But again, this is with the caveat that one must not put too high a premium on Crowley’s thoroughness as a proofreader.
There has been some fascinating and often learned discussion of the original Egyptian-language basis for the Paraphrase, with attempts to relate its stanzas to the hieroglyphic text. The line of poetry at issue, however, is not based on the Egyptian at all. My colleague J. Daniel Gunther, a capable Egyptologist, correlated the poem to the hieroglyphs some years ago:
“Unity uttermost showed!” — A QA KUA-TU-F — “O exalted one, may he be praised”
“I adore the might of thy breath” — UR BAU — “the great one of power”
“Supreme and terrible God” — BA OA ShFYT — “Great Spirit (Ba) of dignity”
“Who makest the gods and death To tremble before Thee” — DDU NRU-F N NThRU — “Who puts the fear of himself among the gods”
“I, I adore thee!” — < no hieroglyphic correspondence >
“Appear on the throne of Ra!” — HA’aU HR NST-F UR — “Who shines forth upon his great seat”
<no correspondence in paraphrase> — IR WAUT BA-I — “Make a way for my Soul (Ba)”
“Open the ways of the Khu!” — N AKh (I) — “for my Spirit (Akh or Khu)”
“Lighten the ways of the Ka!” — < no hieroglyphic correspondence >
“The ways of the Khabs run through”— N ShU(T)-(I) — “for my Shadow” (N.B.: old French transliteration erroneously had KHAB for ShUT (“shadow”)
“To stir me or still me!” — IU AaPR-KUI UBN-(I) — “So that I am equipped, that I might shine forth”
“Aum! let it kill me!” — < no hieroglyphic correspondence >
Some have questioned why the Paraphrase should read “kill me” at all, and ask: Why would Ankh-f-n-khonsu invoke his own death? A closer reading is instructive, as he is described elsewhere in the Paraphrase as the “self-slain Ankh-f-n-khonsu,” giving the reading “let it kill me” a clear contextual basis in the Paraphrase.
Some members are understandably concerned about the performance of “Liber Resh vel Helios,” which has become a group practice in many areas. In Northern California, primarily due to the teachings of Phyllis Seckler and James A. Eshelman, it gradually became a common practice to append the poetry from the Paraphrase as given in Liber Legis III:37. This was not the original practice, so far as I can establish. Sister Seckler, writing in a very early issue of In the Continuum I(5) (1975), pp. 9–11, published “Liber Resh”, and appended several excerpts from other writings, beginning with the poetry from Liber Legis III:38 (“So that thy light is in me” through “The prophet Ankh-af-na-khonsu!”) and going on to quote III:37. It would seem that her early teaching in the mid-1970s recommended III:38 or III:37—they seem to be true alternatives, given the order of presentation.
The earliest source making a straightforward recommendation of the III:37 text that I have been able to trace is an article by Sister Seckler’s close colleague James A. Eshelman (writing as Frater Iacchus) in a paper titled “Comment to Liber Resh,” In the Continuum IV(4), p. 6. He was then Deputy National Grand Master of O.T.O., and writes in this capacity, at p. 8:
“From our office in O.T.O., we have no authority to do anything but recommend on this point. We pass on to you what we have received as the appropriate adoration for the early stages of Work.”
He then specifies the Liber Legis variant of the Paraphrase (with “fill me”) from AL III:37.
The original practice specification is for solitary work, directing that the student incorporate whatever additional adoration is taught by his or her A.’.A.’. instructor. The original reads:
“5. And after each of these invocations thou shalt give the sign of silence, and afterward thou shalt perform the adoration that is taught thee by thy Superior. And then do thou compose Thyself to holy meditation.”
(“Liber Resh vel Helios,” para. 5.)
I did skim through Jane Wolfe’s MS. diaries and ritual notebooks for indications as to what, precisely, she had been taught at Cefalù on this point, as “Liber Resh” was certainly done in group Vespers etc. there. It appears that she employed the adorations from J.F.C. Fuller’s “Treasure House of Images” in her personal work, but there is no indication that I could find of what might have been used during house sessions for an addendum adoration, if indeed anything was. That said, I would not be at all surprised to find Cefalu-period ritual material by disciples, or even by Crowley himself, using III:37 with the “fill me” reading from the published versions of Liber Legis in later life. All that this would show, to my mind, is that Crowley could be just as “book-bound” (if that is a term) as the rest of us.
As for Agape Lodge, “Liber Resh” appears in The Oriflamme I(1) (1943), which just quotes the main text without any additional adoration or adorations being specified or recommended. Similarly, Jack Parsons’ unpublished 1945 Agape Lodge teaching lecture on rituals (his third of six in his lecture series) quotes the main text of “Liber Resh,” but without any supplements; in his brief discussion of the ritual, he does not discuss the section 5 matters appropriate to A.’.A.’. members at all. This makes sense, as he was teaching the ritual to O.T.O. members.
When Crowley taught “Liber Resh” to Grady McMurtry in letter of March 30, 1944, he wrote:
“Liber Resh gives 4 adorations (Magick pp. 425–6) with directions for facing. (Deosil is clockwise—widdershins anti-clockwise). Use at start signs of grades, 0°–III° O.T.O., and Sign of Enterer, followed by Sign of Silence, at the “Hail”—Damn it, you saw me do it.”
(“Aleister Crowley, Selected Letters to Hymenaeus Alpha,” The Magical LinkIV(4), winter 1990–91, p. 26.)
There is no mention of an additional adoration in the letter. This is perhaps not surprising, as the use of the additional adoration was taught in A.’.A.’., and Grady was a member of O.T.O. and not A.’.A.’.. It is also notable, in this regard, that Crowley has him using O.T.O. signs and not A.’.A.’. signs. A.’.A.’. teaching on this point, in my experience, has drawn on both the “fill me” version (relying on Liber Legis) and the “kill me” version (relying on the Paraphrase), as well as other material.
That said, I am not aware of any evidence that Crowley himself used III:37 as part of his daily “Liber Resh” practice. Diary of a Drug-Fiend (1922) has two instances of “Liber Resh” being said (in part III, chaps. 5 and 6), and neither adds a supplemental adoration to the basic text.
I can understand how, in the Bay Area and parts northward especially (where the practice is most common and has the longest standing), the recitation of the additional quotation from III:37 with “fill me” becomes an issue with this correction to “kill me”. It may even result in peer pressure to conform to one reading or another when people do “Liber Resh” in a group. The additional adoration—that A.’.A.’. members are to learn from their private instructors—was not and is not intended for group work, so really, I suppose that this issue should not be arising. But I understand that this is a beloved social custom of long standing—I have enjoyed it myself many times, on visits, and it is undeniably lovely. Also, we have no wish to interfere with harmless local adaptations of our shared liturgy. However, I would recommend that O.T.O. groups use the Paraphrase, thus setting any question of the correct reading of Liber Legis to one side in the interests of social harmony. This allows members to keep whatever they might privately think about Liber Legis a private matter, which is as it should be, in keeping with the “each for himself” injunction in the Short Comment.
Members concerned with honoring an O.T.O. advancement form that affirms that they do not wish to make changes to Liber Legis should accept the prophet’s directive that this change should be made. You are not changing anything.
Some individuals—not many, but they deserve to be heard and to have an explanation—have petitioned me with the message “Do not change The Book of the Law.” I understand their concern, and appreciate their love for the book, and their commitment to the principle underlying revelation and all that Class A implies. I understand their distrust of spiritual “authorities” too. But paradoxically, what we are doing in implementing this correction is exactly what they ask: not changing The Book of the Law. To leave things as they were would be to acquiesce in a known change to the text that we now know was not intended by the prophet. So we are, in other words, un-changing it.
I ask that those who question this sit back and allow for this possibility: what if all prior printed editions had it wrong? What if we now have it right—and for the first time? Wouldn’t that be amazingly great?
I am confident that we do. We have authority in the holograph correction, in a very special book—a codex really, being Crowley’s own annotated temple copy—and it is a correction that resolves a well known hundred year old textual difficulty.
Future editions incorporating the change will have a note at the end of the book explaining the change. Those who reject Crowley’s correction can, of course, make an anti-correction in their copy—thus duplicating Crowley’s correction but in reverse.
In my travels I have learned to be cautious. “The Great Invocation” and the Paraphrase were both “corrected” by yours truly in Magick (Liber ABA) (1994 and later editions) to change their original readings of “kill me” to “fill me”—a woefully misguided attempt to make these non-Class A texts agree with what I had every reason to assume was the correct reading in Liber Legis. I think I originally picked up the “fill me” version by “picking up” (a term of art for cutting and pasting from another electronic document) part of the Paraphrase from Liber CCXX to save time, and failed to catch the different wording. In a later revision I decided to let it stand, and just annotated it as such, thinking that one of the readings had to be wrong, and it couldn’t be the Class A, could it? This was an object lesson for me: wait for the source material. You might have to wait a hundred years, but it may turn up.
No wonder we’re given 2,156 years to sort out the affairs of prophets.
Love is the law, love under will.
Frater Superior, O.T.O.
formatted by Rodney Orpheus for the Irish OTO