Eleven, the Qliphoth, and Thelema

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Eleven, the Qliphoth, and Thelema

Postby spaceman » Sun Jun 22, 2008 7:36 pm

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

I was reading through that ol' maniac Kenneth Grant's Aleister Crowley and the Hidden God the other day and I came upon this curious quote from Dion Fortune regarding Crowley's Thelemic Magick:

Crowley's Magick is valuable to the student, but only the advanced student could use it with profit. The formulae, too, on which he works, would be considered averse and evil by occultists accustomed to the Qabalistic tradition, for he uses 11 instead of 10 as the basis of his battery of knocks, in the magical ceremonies, and 11 is the number of the Qliphoth. No hint of this is given in the text, and it is an ugly trap for the unwary student.

To be honest, I was a bit taken aback by this. I had no idea as my understanding of the Qliphoth is very limited. Grant goes on to add:

It is true that eleven is the number of the qliphoth, the unbalanced residue cast off by, and therefore outside, the ten
Sephiroth, but man has to triumph over these unbalanced forces in his own nature before he can become a master
magician. In order to do this he first has to evoke the qliphoth, which he does by formulating the averse pentagram
(the Star of Set) after he has established his magical supremacy by balancing within himself the five elements
represented by the upright pentagram (the Star of Nuit). The magician is himself the eleventh, because he is forever
outside and beyond the operation of the ten (i.e. the two pentagrams).

Now Grant's response made me feel a little more at ease because I can understand how one would invoke the darker forces in order to master them, not unlike calling upon ALL the demons in the Abramelin operation. But still, I was left a little uneasy by the whole thing just because, like Fortune mentions, the fact of 11 being the number of the Qliphoth is never mentioned in Crowley's writing, at least not to my knowledge or written in any sort of clear way that I have picked up on. From this, I must admit, I was kind of left with the feeling like: 'Whoa, what have I gotten myself into.' I remain dedicated to the Great Work but feel that I may need some clarification on this.

The main reason that I came to use Crowley's system was that in the beginning of my occult career I was involved in Chaos Magick. In the beginning, I got in WAY over my head and got burnt so to speak by the forces I was so irresponsibly toying with. As a result of my irresponsibility, I was left with a great deal of due consequences that I had not bargained for and spent a few years cleaning up the psychic and karmic debris. As a result of this process, I became much more cautious with what I dabbled with and always kept my motives in check. My direction became much more spiritually minded rather than seeking out methods for material gain or personal power. Eventually I came upon Crowley and rather quickly found his methods to be an exceedingly effective system of spiritual attainment. From this point I became (and still am) OBSESSED with Crowley's work, and marvel at the other-worldly magnitude of his genius. Now it has been years that I have been studying and practicing Crowley's methods and I stand as a witness to their effectiveness. STILL! I have always tried to remain cautious and has it happened that I have wandered in over my head again by dealing with a system based upon the (triumph over the?) residue of creation?

Please forgive me if I have misunderstood or remain ignorant of any essential facts. I feel that this topic is one that may need clarification to correct any misconceptions and ease doubts. What are the dangers that the Magickian faces in working in a system such as Crowley's? What does a system based around ten lack in comparison to Crowley's system? Was it Liber AL that announced this move to a system based around eleven when it announced that ABRAHADABRA was the word of the Aeon? Is the Aeon of Horus the Aeon where man finally confronts and gains mastery over the Qliphoth?

I look forward to hearing what any of you may have to offer on this subject.

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Re: Eleven, the Qliphoth, and Thelema

Postby Jim Eshelman » Sun Jun 22, 2008 8:16 pm

spaceman wrote:
Crowley's Magick is valuable to the student, but only the advanced student could use it with profit. The formulae, too, on which he works, would be considered averse and evil by occultists accustomed to the Qabalistic tradition, for he uses 11 instead of 10 as the basis of his battery of knocks, in the magical ceremonies, and 11 is the number of the Qliphoth. No hint of this is given in the text, and it is an ugly trap for the unwary student.

To be honest, I was a bit taken aback by this. I had no idea as my understanding of the Qliphoth is very limited.

Not to worry. In some contexts, 11 is the number of the Q'lippoth, but that's not what the Thelemic 11 is about. Eleven, as Nuit's number in particular, is the number of numerals from 0 through 10, not from 1 through 11.

This is just one of (probably) a thousand reasons that I don't take Grant as a real authority on Thelema. (On his direct experience with Crowley, yes. On the real love of his live, Buddhism, yes, if he'd ever written on it. On Thelema, no.)

You can relax a bit ;)
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Postby spaceman » Sun Jun 22, 2008 8:26 pm

Cool, thanks for the reassurance Jim. :) And it makes sense as well as the numeration for 0 through 10.

Yeah, Grant is kind of a nut huh? I must admit that I have a great time reading his books, though in Aleister Crowley and the Hidden God there were even some instances when I noticed mistakes that he had made. They don't spring to mind right now but on a couple of occasions I went: 'Wait, that's not right!' Still they are exciting to read in spite of their mistakes.

Still though, what of Dion Fortune's misgivings with Crowley's system? Was it that she was inexperienced with the methods of Thelema? She is someone who's writings I have always held in deep respect though she does often seem at odds with Crowley.

Also, does Crowley's system involve evoking the Qliphoth as a means of mastering them to become of Master Magickian? This seems plausible to me; where is it in regard to the Thelemic canon that a magician takes this task on?
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Postby Jim Eshelman » Sun Jun 22, 2008 9:20 pm

spaceman wrote:Still though, what of Dion Fortune's misgivings with Crowley's system? Was it that she was inexperienced with the methods of Thelema? She is someone who's writings I have always held in deep respect though she does often seem at odds with Crowley.

There are letters surviving from Fortune to Crowley, in the last years of her life, in which she made clear that she backed him, recognized his office etc. privately - and that, for the political angle (presumably within her organization and in the general occult community), she had to appear the opposite. She spoke of anticipating a time when she could go public with her support... but she died soon after.

Also, does Crowley's system involve evoking the Qliphoth as a means of mastering them to become of Master magician? This seems plausible to me; where is it in regard to the Thelemic canon that a magician takes this task on?

There is at least one assignment at one critical juncture - a final test in one's mastery of the astral - to explore the Q'lippoth of one's natal Sun-sign. There are also broad philosophical recognitions of the need to embrace the depths and heights equally (see Liber Tzaddi for one example) - but, besides that, nothing specific.

I agree that it's a good idea - once one is ready, with the necessary skills.
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Postby Aum418 » Mon Jun 23, 2008 7:55 am

93,

Dion Fortune is a typical white-light fan, at least on the outside (she was one to understand the use of a certain persona for interaction). Kenneth Grant is a complete nutter in my opinion.

11 in Thelema does not mean Qliphoth - just read 777, Liber AL, or anything having to do with Thelema. In another sense, one could say that initiation requires the invoking and mastering of the Qliphothic parts of existence because 'My adepts have their feet in hell and the heads in the heaven'...

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Postby Jonathan » Mon Jun 23, 2008 1:01 pm

combine the hexagram and the pentagram - you have 6+5=11

11-number of magick, as the combination of the macrocosm and the microcosm.

as far as I interpret it, that is one major reason why Crowley places such an importance on it

(and i'm suprised no one mentioned that yet)


and I still find it a tragedy that old aeon superstition is alive and kicking in modern Thelema.

what was that about "Fear is Failure and the Forerunner of Failure" again?
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Postby Jim Eshelman » Mon Jun 23, 2008 1:23 pm

Jonathan wrote:as far as I interpret it, that is one major reason why Crowley places such an importance on it

(and i'm suprised no one mentioned that yet)

FWIW, I didn't because it wasn't a direct answer to the specific question, and because I think it was a derivative (secondary) meaning. The main reason he gave 11 the attention he did was because of its prominence in Liber Legis.

But, of the secondary reasons, the one you mention is of extreme importance: the formula of 5=6.
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Postby frateruranus » Mon Jun 23, 2008 2:44 pm

11 is the formula of all the A.'.A.'. grades proper, except Probationer but as a Probationer one is not a member of the A.'.A.'. but being tested and considered for membership.
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Postby Frater Pantha » Mon Jun 23, 2008 4:28 pm

Aum418 wrote:Kenneth Grant is a complete nutter in my opinion.
IAO131

I have no experience with Grant or his writings but isn't that a bit harsh? He helped get a bunch of Spare's writings published and I think based on that alone he is doing SOME good work. Most people that have met him normally say pretty nice things. Do you have a reason that you think he is a "complete nutter"?
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Postby Aum418 » Mon Jun 23, 2008 5:10 pm

Frater Pantha wrote:
Aum418 wrote:Kenneth Grant is a complete nutter in my opinion.
IAO131

I have no experience with Grant or his writings but isn't that a bit harsh? He helped get a bunch of Spare's writings published and I think based on that alone he is doing SOME good work. Most people that have met him normally say pretty nice things. Do you have a reason that you think he is a "complete nutter"?

Yes, read his works.

Perhaps it was an exaggeration. He is a huge nutter - perhaps not complete though. I wouldn't waste my time reading a page of his material anymor - its both literally incorrect at parts and the rest seems to be a combination of dabbling & an overactive imagination (perhaps LSD burnout?)

Did you know that Hamas funds children's programs? Did you know that Hitler funded scientific research? Malicious and moronic people can still do some 'good' things. The fact that he got Spare published doesn't make me think any higher of his convoluted writing.

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Re: Eleven, the Qliphoth, and Thelema

Postby Michael Staley » Wed Jul 30, 2008 3:00 pm

Jim Eshelman wrote:This is just one of (probably) a thousand reasons that I don't take Grant as a real authority on Thelema. (On his direct experience with Crowley, yes. On the real love of his live, Buddhism, yes, if he'd ever written on it. On Thelema, no.)

To be fair, Jim, Kenneth Grant has never represented himself as an authority on Thelema. He is just writes about how he sees it, how he experiences it, and the conclusions he has come to. He does have a high regard for Buddhism (as do many of us, I'm sure, including of course Crowley), but I'm not sure it's his first love, your contact's view notwithstanding.

Despite the typically sneering remarks by Aum418, Grant commands a great and growing respect for his vast body of profound work. There is a great deal of interest for instance in the recent republication of Outside the Circles of Time.

Yes, there are inaccuracies in Grant's works. He's not a scholar; he writes in the fervour of inspiration, and sometimes gets his facts wrong. In his early years he lacked a sympathetic editor, who could have brought these to his attention. However, there is a real strength and insight to his work, and the inaccuracies do not detract from this.

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Re: Eleven, the Qliphoth, and Thelema

Postby Jim Eshelman » Wed Jul 30, 2008 3:05 pm

Michael Staley wrote:
Jim Eshelman wrote:This is just one of (probably) a thousand reasons that I don't take Grant as a real authority on Thelema.

To be fair, Jim, Kenneth Grant has never represented himself as an authority on Thelema.

If that 's the case, we agree on that point.

\Yes, there are inaccuracies in Grant's works. He's not a scholar; he writes in the fervour of inspiration, and sometimes gets his facts wrong. In his early years he lacked a sympathetic editor, who could have brought these to his attention. However, there is a real strength and insight to his work, and the inaccuracies do not detract from this.

You and I disagree quite a lot on this. Many of his inaccuracies (and not only in his early work) make his entire line of argument and presentation invalid over and over again. As a technical manual, the work is completely crippled.
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Re: Eleven, the Qliphoth, and Thelema

Postby Aum418 » Thu Jul 31, 2008 8:10 am

Michael Staley wrote:
Jim Eshelman wrote:This is just one of (probably) a thousand reasons that I don't take Grant as a real authority on Thelema. (On his direct experience with Crowley, yes. On the real love of his live, Buddhism, yes, if he'd ever written on it. On Thelema, no.)

To be fair, Jim, Kenneth Grant has never represented himself as an authority on Thelema.

Really? Never? Not even in whatever Typhonian OTO?

He is just writes about how he sees it, how he experiences it, and the conclusions he has come to. He does have a high regard for Buddhism (as do many of us, I'm sure, including of course Crowley), but I'm not sure it's his first love, your contact's view notwithstanding.

It seems more like hes writing fiction.

Despite the typically sneering remarks by Aum418, Grant commands a great and growing respect for his vast body of profound work. There is a great deal of interest for instance in the recent republication of Outside the Circles of Time.

THere are also millions upon millions of evangelical Christians - does that mean anything?

Yes, there are inaccuracies in Grant's works. He's not a scholar; he writes in the fervour of inspiration, and sometimes gets his facts wrong.

I'd say almost always.

In his early years he lacked a sympathetic editor, who could have brought these to his attention. However, there is a real strength and insight to his work, and the inaccuracies do not detract from this.

And, with Eshelman, I have to disagree. His work is more fictional and of an LSD-infused over-active imagination than anything.

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Postby Law » Fri Nov 06, 2009 10:09 pm

It seems more like hes writing fiction.

Yes and wasnt it Crowley that said fiction has often been a medium for occultists for the revelation of truth? (Im paraphrasing, btw)[/quote]
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Postby Ankhhape » Sat Nov 07, 2009 10:32 am

Isn't this all mainly concerning the view that Thelema is a Theurgic philosophy, the goal being to become at 'One' with the Universe and what Crowley was getting at in reference to the Qliphoth is that through their pathworking hidden knowledge and abilities are attained making it possible to separate from the Universe?
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Another Grant aside

Postby LPD Nu » Sat Nov 07, 2009 12:52 pm

93, All,


FWIW, although I've never met Grant (those few pages I've read of his work have far from impressed me), in my experience, every single person I've worked with in ceremony that has considered his work to be of any importance has turned out to be nearly incompetent. To wit, there's a distinct lack of focus on the task at hand and what skills they do employ are sloppy, ill-timed, and quite often at odds with the rest of the participants, even to the point of arriving very late, blowing off rehearsals, and unduly influencing others--especially through sexual persuasion.

I've no idea why this is, but it's nearly to a man, and quite frustrating.

Maybe it's the aliens...


93s,

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Postby sethur » Sun Nov 08, 2009 4:30 am

A few points on Grant's work:

Grant is a poet. It is through poetry that he came to know of Crowley, he heard of him through Dylan Thomas, whi was similarly influenced by Victor Neuberg.

Grant has made it clear that to him occultism, especially gematria, is an inspired creative art, not a dry mathematical pseudo-science.

Anything is grist to his mill, including halves of quotations (Ten and not eleven) and the gematria of students, usually unchecked.

As a result of the 100+ gematria errors in Outside The Circles Of Time, I was asked to check the gematria in Hecate's Fountain by the editor, the late Chris Johnson (who subsequently took the credit).

There were so many errors that Johnson refused to show them all to Grant, but couldn't ignore the basic blunder of IXAXAAR=333, this being a central part of the book.

IXAXAAR is clearly Greek, it is from a Greek manuscript, and although IXAXAA adds up to 133, whoever provided the analysis must have got carried away, so that when he or she got as far as 133 they saw the R, remembered that Resh =200 and went "333! Wow!". An understandable error, given the amount of time we spend on Hebrew gematria. Unfortunately while Resh = 200, the Greek letter Rho = 100 so it doesn't work. Out of desperation I suggested a Hebrew transliteration of IShAShAAR, which does equal 333 but pretends that you would have two alephs in a row in Hebrew, which makes no sense (neither does Xi being Shin rather than Cheth).

My despairing IShAShAAR version got into the book, Grant thanked Johnson for his valuable contribution and loads of other gematria errors remained.

In spite of this, and Grant's inordinate fondness of Dion Fortune, whose work I really don't like, I really admire him. He has put the fire back into an increasingly dry system. He has reminded us that Thelema is more than just the AA, the OTO and study and ritual. He is a 24/7 Thelemite.

And no, I am not a member of the Typhonian Order and never have been, and in fact was introduced and initiated into Thelema by a 6th degree ex-Typhonian member who had stormed out of it!
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Postby atlantis » Sun Nov 08, 2009 2:31 pm

It is quite clear that the criticism against Grants use of gematria falls quite short. One should read his chapter on Creative Gematria in Outer Gateways..
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Postby Avshalom Binyamin » Sun Nov 08, 2009 10:23 pm

I don't know much about Grant.

However, in "the Magical Revival", Grant cites Albert Churchward and says that the sun revolves around Sirius every 26,000 years.

Which is fascinating, until you realize that Sirius A is only about twice the mass of the sun (and Sirius B is only about equal to the mass of the Sun)... much too small for the Sun to be revolving around...

So, he's fun to read, but I don't see how I could take him that Siriusly...
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Postby Uni_Verse » Tue Nov 10, 2009 7:09 pm

I am impartial towards Grant, having never read his works.

Now, I may have my facts wrong, but...

He founded the Typhonian OTO.
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Postby gurugeorge » Wed Nov 11, 2009 3:11 am

Isn't there a specific place in Crowley's system where an investigation of the Qliphoth is recommended: Liber Carcerorum?

i.e., yes, Crowley does recommend some dealing with the Qliphoth at some stage, but it's a defined stage clearly laid out in his teaching, not hidden like some "booby trap". IIRC a few other writers on Magick have said something like this, but I think it's just nonsense reflecting either their own fear of initiation or their need to pitch their books to a certain type of gullible audience in order to make money.

And as Jim has said, in actual fact Fortune was a Crowley fan, but felt it wasn't appropriate to fully stand by him in her writings. It seems rather mercenary of her, but then again, on the other hand, her writings are a great gateway into this stuff for many people, and their lack of Crowley-lauding meant her work wasn't in any danger of being interfered with.
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Postby Jim Eshelman » Wed Nov 11, 2009 6:37 am

gurugeorge wrote:Isn't there a specific place in Crowley's system where an investigation of the Qliphoth is recommended: Liber Carcerorum?

That work itself is part of the 3=8 curriculum. However, there are no assignments regarding it and no tests required, other than the general 3=8 instruction to complete one's Qabalistic knowledge.

The final exam of the 1=10, after other astral tests have been passed, has always been to investigate the Q'lippoth of one's own Sun-sign.
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