"There is great danger in me; for who doth not understand these runes shall make a great miss. He shall fall down into the pit called Because, and there he shall perish with the dogs of Reason."
- Liber AL vel Legis Sub Figura CCXX, II.27
"But ye, o my people, rise up & awake!"
- CCXX II.34
"There is division hither homeward; there is a word not known. Spelling is defunct; all is not aught. Beware! Hold! Raise the spell of Ra-Hoor-Khuit!"
- CCXX III.2
"Now let it be first understood that I am a god of War and of Vengeance. I shall deal hardly with them."
- CCXX III.3
For years I have watched Mr. Kenneth Grant, Aossic Aiwass, 718, O.H.O. of the O.T.O., as he styles himself, both in ways exoteric and esoteric, and I think that now is the time to Adjust the Scales of Balance by taking a look at this chap from an altogether, hitherto ignored, perspective.
In Magick Without Tears, the Beast 666 tells us (by way of a letter to an often confused sister of the Order) that the ultimate secret of the Ordo Templi Orientis could be used by the Black Brothers but that they would only succeed in destroying themselves with it. According to Grant, Crowley had regretted that Austin Osman Spare had become a Black Brother by
"'shutting himself up in a tower and immersing himself in the Pool of Narcissus', by which Crowley meant that Spare had resorted almost exclusively to the use of the magical formula known in the O.T.O. as the VIII°."
That is to say, somewhat crudely, magical masturbation. It should here be noted that one of the greatest influences upon Grant, aside from voodoo, the Black Snake Cult, and other things which we will not go into here, has been the work of Austin Osman Spare. It should also be noted, and I refer the reader to pages 109 through 117 of Magick Without Tears (Llewellyn Publications, 1973 E.V., Letter No. 12), that a Black Magician and a Black Brother are not the same thing and should not be confused. Crowley compares them to the sneak thief and a Hitler, respectively. He tells us that one who is about to become a Black Brother constantly restricts himself, satisfied with very limited ideas and is afraid of losing his precious individuality. He goes on to say that the Black Brother probably deserts his Angel when he realizes just what must be done, i.e. the destruction of the ego and all that pertains to it, and that, perhaps, from the very beginning, it is actually his Evil Genius which he has evoked. When this is done the man breaks off all relations with the Supernal Triad and attempts to replace it by inventing a False Crown of Daäth, as it is called in Qabalistic literature. To such men as these, that is, Black Brothers, Knowledge is everything and A.C. reminds us that this Knowledge is nothing but the very soul of Illusion. These adepts-gone-wrong, as it were, abstaining from the true nourishment of the Supernal Triad, lose their structual unity and must then be fed by continual doses of dope in miserable self-preservation. They declare Choronzon to be the child of Understanding and Wisdom, when in fact "he" is the shell or excrement of the Supernal Triad, and the bastard of the Svastika. What A.C. then tells us is most important for he says that Daäth and Choronzon are the Whirlpool and the Leviathan which is written of in the Holy Qabalah.
Consider all of this as a prologue from the highest possible authority of Thelema and the 93 Current once incarnate upon this plane. Now let us examine Mr. Kenneth Grant through three of his books.
In The Magical Revival (Samuel Weiser, Inc., N.Y., 1973 E.V.), on page 2, Grant writes,
"Although having drawn upon these and other obscure sources [A.O.S., the Vama Marg, i.e. the Left Hand Path, etc. - M.E.D.], I have not overstepped the limits beyond which the occultist trespasses on grounds as unsafe to himself as to others."
A very nice way to open a very informative book, but it seems to me that perhaps Grant has taken but one step too many and had indeed overstepped those limits. As I have said, this book, as all of Mr. Grant's books, is very informative. Kenneth Grant is undeniably a very Knowledgeable man - and I stress that word and point out its root: KNOWLEDGE. This book is very good, certainly one of the best (if one of the few) Thelemic works ever published since the death of Aleister Crowley, although considering others this is not necessarily saying much, but in it certain odd things will be seen to emerge. One such thing is his growing obsession with the Dog Star, Sothis or Sirius. In a footnote on page 8, for example, he writes:
"The initials A.·.A.·. stand for Argenteum Astrum (the Silver Star). This is the Star of Set or Sothis (Sirius) ..."
On page 52 he says that
"Crowley unequivocally [i.e. clearly - M.E.D.] identifies his Holy Guardian Angel with Sothis ... or Set-Isis: 'Aiwaz is not a mere formula,'"
he continues, quoting A.C.,
"'like many Angelic names, but it is the true, most ancient name of the God of the Yezidi, and thus returns to the highest antiquity. Our work therefore is historically authentic; the rediscovery of the Sumerian tradition.'"
Now I won't contest that A.C. actually said that, though I am sure he was thinking in ever ascending spiral cycles instead of flat circular cycles, but exactly how such a statement as this can Unequivocally identify Aiwaz with Sothis is beyond me. You may note that in this book Grant loves to use the word "unequivocally" often, especially when in connection with something A.C. is supposed to have, and may have, said, in order to prove one of Grant's hazy points. You will also note that what is clear to him is not quite so clear to anyone who is capable of clear thinking and who possesses an inquiring mind.
On page 55, speaking again of this star, Sothis, he says that
"This is the One Star in Sight which forms the title of Crowley's Manifesto of the A.·.A.·. ..."
It is quite possible that A.C. did consider a special relationship between Aiwass and the Dog Star, but one thing is certain, the One Star in Sight is not any "thing" such as a star in the physical universe. The One Star in Sight is One's own Holy Guardian Angel, True Self, Genius. "Every man and every woman is a star." (CCXX I.3) Union with this "Star" is the only true goal in magick and once one has attained to that union the aspirant becomes one with the Order of the A.·.A.·., i.e. the aspirant becomes the Argenteum Astrum. One would almost think that with these ideas and many others, sometimes cleverly stated, Mr. Grant is actually trying to mislead the aspirant away from his Angel. Is this not exactly what we would expect from a Black Brother, who himself has abandoned his Angel and evoked his Evil Genius in its stead?
On page 78 Grant tells us that
"The thyroid gland, in the region of the larynx, is backed by the Visudha Chakra [which is attributed to Daäth - M.E.D.]. This gland, in its active state, enhances sensitivity and renders the individual hypersensitive to all kinds of physical, astral and mental sensation. If this gland is over stimulated there is danger of megalomania ..."
Remember who it is who is telling you this, the one and only Outer Head of the Order, that Order being the One True Order, the Ordo Templi Orientis, or so Grant claims.
Throughout the book it is obvious that Grant is very interested in the reversal ideas of C. S. Jones (please see Liber Casus Astrum vel XCVIII of TNN I.2), the back turning of A.O.S., and the inbetweeness of fiction writer H. P. Lovecraft. From this debris Grant is destined to develope his Otherside of the Tree, but more of that later. As I have said, we will examine Spare's Zos Kia Cultus and the others at another time as we are here limited in space.
Grant constantly misunderstands many things. To clear one such misunderstanding up: A.C. did not believe that he was the only "Beast". The term itself merely implies that one is a priest of Thelema in the New Æon of Horus. However, he was the only "Beast 666", that is the First Beast spoken of in Apocalypse and the first priest of the present æon.
Grant also misunderstands such things as the nature of an Ipsissimus, and what else can we expect - for he had already overstepped the limits of safety and thus we might expect him to be easily beguiled, subtly at first, by those forces which he was dealing with, i.e. the qliphothic forces. On page 210, for instance, he tells us that the Great Work
"will be achieved by a willed congress with extra-terrestrial entities of which, in a sense, Aiwaz is the immediate messenger to humanity."
Can Aiwaz (or Aiwass) be rightly called "extra-terrestrial"? Or would "he" best be described as "suprahuman" or perhaps "preterhuman"? Is Grant confusing (note: confusing) beings such as Aiwass, whose abode, so to speak, is the Supernal Triad, with those non-beings, those shells, that excreta whose abode is in the qliphothic realms, the entrance to which is through the whirlpool of Daäth? Of the qliphoth Grant says in his glossary:
"...[it is] the name given to a world or plane of soulless entities that, as such, are not truly living, but merely lingering shells of once conscious persons ... the magician is warned against trafficking with them in any way. Also of the Qliphoth are the more dangerous remnants of once highly organized elementals that drag out a twilight existence by vampirizing the living."
It seems that this particular magician, Grant, ignored the warning. Before this in his glossary, Grant wrote:
"... Crossing the Abyss is the most critical stage upon the Spiritual Path. If the crossing is not achieved cleanly, insanity - temporary or permanent - results. A person can spend the best part of an incarnation being torn to pieces by the unresolved and irrational elements of his nature ..."
I further refer the reader to several pages concerning the Abyss, Daäth and the Black Brothers, in Magick in Theory and Practice, indexed in the Samuel Weiser edition. I stress the importance of the study of such passages and others in the hope that the aspirants heed the warning and step carefully upon the Path of the Wise. In these pages Crowley tells us that in the Abyss all impressions are disconnected; that Reason is ultimately identified with the Abyss; that it is the crown of the mind, wherein all purely intellectual faculties are obtained; that it has no number because all is confusion. The Master Therion, not only from his vast intellectual attainments, but mostly from his personal experience, tells us that from the Abyss Nemo (No Man) comes forth for he has destroyed all that he is and all that he had been upon crossing (note: crossing) the Abyss and that a star is cast forth to enlighten the Earth. On the other hand, they who fail to cross the Abyss, and that implies to cross over the whirlpool called Daäth, make for themselves a false crown of the abominable horror of the Abyss and set the Dispersion of Choronzon upon their brows; they clothe themselves in form; shut themselves off to "external" influences, both above and beneath the Abyss. He also goes on to say, in many places, that though these Black Brothers may gain much, they will eventually topple like the rotting towers that they are and that their shreds, all that is left of them, will be strewn in the Abyss and lost forever. In Liber VII it is said that the aspirant must await the sword of the Beloved (i.e. the H.G.A.) and submit himself to the final stroke. It is this final destruction of Knowledge (Knowledge = Daäth = the throat centre) that opens the gate to the City of Pyramids, the next Grade of 8°=3°, Master of the Temple, and allows the aspirant to cross the Abyss and truly Become an Adept of the A.·.A.·.. But let us pass on from the words of A.C. as well as The Magical Revival and move forward in the stream of time to Cults of the Shadow (Samuel Weiser, Inc., 1976 E.V.)
Here Grant is beginning to show even more fascination with the Vama Marg, La Couleuvre Noire, and the Zos Kia Cultus. Again he begins a book with a prophetic saying:
"But if the sexual energies are not properly controlled and polarized, destruction awaits the practitioner who uses them without fully understanding the formula of the Left Hand Path which is, of all paths, the swiftest and the most dangerous."
It should also be noted that his style of writing begins to change, to become more complex. His thoughts and ideas start to show a greater amount of Knowledge, but a good bit of confusion of expression creeps in as well. His footnotes are also increasing in size and number. Still, the book is quite valuable and should be studied with care by Thelemic students.
In Cults it seems that he began, in earnest, to play etymological and numerological games with words to prove his point. His sentences often convey the truth, but in such a way that the truth is obscured and the student is misled. For example, he tells us that "The Great Mother" was "degraded" to "The Great Whore". Actually this is not so. The ideal of "Whore" was degraded. According to the Rev. Walter W. Skeat's A Concise Etymological Dictionary of the English Language, the "w" in "whore" is unoriginal and that it was originally "hore"; "hora", an adultress, feminine; "horr", an adulterer, masculine, and related in meaning to such words as the Latin "carus": loving, to love, I love, etc. (and Skeat goes on to say that it is certainly not allied to "hire"!). The point is that, though in a minor way, Grant has misled the unwary reader.
On pages 109 - 110, Aossic (which is, by the way, also the name of the entity that he claims is the source of much of his Knowledge) writes:
"The unenlightened are incapable of controlling their sense when swamped by the sudden access of power that freedom bestows. This is patent in mundane situations involving money, fame, authority, etc. How much more devastating is the result in cases of unbalanced spiritual illumination will be appreciated by those who have successfully performed even the simplest magical exercise. Success inflates the ego, the ego seizes more than it can properly assimilate, and the resulting implosion is correspondingly catastrophic."
Unfortunately for Mr. Grant, his books have become quite successful and he is well known for his editing and assistance in the publication of many works by Aleister Crowley. Has success gone to Kenneth Grant's head?
"the ultimate goal ... requires the total abolition of personality and egoidal consciousness."
I ask, has Mr. Grant accomplished this? I believe that the last book here to be discussed proves that he has not. But let us continue for a while with this book.
Grant loves to prove his point - no matter what he has to do to prove it. To do this in several instances he spells Od in Hebrew, Aleph, Vau, Daleth (AVD), which comes to the numeration of eleven (1 + 6 + 4 = 11), and Ob, Aleph, Vau, Beth (AVB), which equals 9 (1 + 6 + 2). It would seem that the "O" would be better represented by the Hebrew A'ain (or Ayin), giving the numerations of 74 (OD) and 72 (OB), and it should be noted that in Sepher Sephiroth Grant's AVB is spelled OB (A'ain, Beth) and equals 72, and it should also be noted that 74 + 72 = 146, which is the numeration of SVPh, or Soph, Limit, End; Boundless, as in Ain SOPH Aur.
Throughout Cults it can also be seen that Grant makes reference to the "Inner" O.T.O. and similar subtle references, meaning, naturally, that he is of and head of the Inner Order of the O.T.O.. To me this seems like Mr. Grant has failed to enter the A.·.A.·. and, as a Black Brother, dons the False Crown of Daäth. He has created a false Inner Order, a false A.·.A.·. out of that which he calls the O.T.O..
On page 140, unable to answer the Riddle of AL, Chapter II, Verse 76, he frustratingly begins to make himself look important (much in the tradition of A. E. Waite) by jumping into all kinds of Qabalistic and pseudo-qabalistic figuring that eventually comes to nothing. Consider this: II x 76 = 152 = HMVTzIA, The Bringing-forth One; or this: II + 76 = 78 = AIVAS, Aiwass, MZLA, Mezla, the Influence from Kether ... and so on.
He is intrigued with Jones' idea concerning the meaning of the word "manifestation" in The Book of the Law, i.e. that it refers to "Ma-Ion". (Personally I think this goes to show just how much of a dunderhead Jones was. It would seem more natural to separate the word by its syllables, thus, if anything, obtaining "Man-Tion", whatever that is supposed to imply.) Anyway, Grant thinks that the word "Secret" and "Secretion" (Secret-ion) may have some importance, and there is little doubt that he is correct. But again his basic obsessiveness takes charge and he sees too much of one thing at the expense of other things.
On page 166 Grant actually compares Krishnamurti and Crowley. Can you imagine how A.C. would have felt about that! While page 169 of this book says:
"Daäth ... sometimes called the 'false Sephira'...is the gateway of egress to the outerspaces beyond, or behind, the Tree itself."
Here is where Mr. Grant truly becomes a 'false prophet' as envisioned by John in Revelation.
"The use of the backward paths of the Tree and the evocation of the Shadows are fraught with danger because, as noted, the qliphoth haunt those paths, many of which are dead-ends and without egress. To be trapped in any of them is to surrender one's consciousness to the most baleful influences that a magician is ever likely to encounter. Madness and death claim those who stray into them. Also, being without outlet, if force is directed along these paths it recoils inevitably upon the magician like a boomerang charged with the additional force of the evil influences which it has gathered in its flight."
I really do not intend to go any further with this book here. If you have not already studied it, do so. It is a very "knowledgeable" book. If you have read it, read it again with the ideas I am conveying to you kept in mind. You will, I am sure, find many other examples that fit in well with the ideas here relayed.
Finally, let us move on to Kenneth Grant's third book. I have been told, by the way, by one of Grant's followers, that he is at present working on another book. However, after reading this third volume I doubt very much if I want to see another book by him. Could we beg that he only publish as much of the Crowley material that he possesses that has not yet been published, and spare us any further personal revelations?
Nightside of Eden - I keep thinking Nightshade, you know, the poison - (Frederick Muller Limited, London, 1977 E.V.) quite frankly gave me a splitting headache. But I am a diehard and studied through this book, very carefully, to the bitter end. What I found was this: the book does indeed contain a handful of gems, which are, unfortunately, immersed in tons upon tons of qliphothic sewage. His information on the qliphothic forces is very informative, however, it should be remembered that, as he stated on page 152, "My sources of information are the Qliphoth, the names and sigils of which are given in Crowley's Liber CCXXXI." Do you really think that his sources, especially those sources, would actually be unbiased? The major problem with this book is one of being able to distinguish between fact and fancy, truth and deception. These ingredients are mixed, I must say, expertly. And there the danger lies for the student! It is true that the aspirant should contact the qliphothic elements within himself and deal with them, one by one, until he has purified, so to speak, his vehicle for higher advancement beyond the need for the vehicle. However, Grant has madly leaped within the very centre of Daäth and has naturally been sucked down through that whirlpool and into the qliphothic world of shells. In my humble opinion, he has not mastered the qliphothic elements within himself, but rather has he given himself over to them, allowing himself to be the slave of slaves while thinking, no doubt, that he is the king of kings. I am sure that he is convinced of his motives, that in his eyes they are just and righteous, but he has been beguiled into believing just that. He has, again in my opinion, become the puppet of the qliphothic forces, a Black Brother, and a source of nourishment for the soulless shells. This is all fine and good. If this be his Will, or if he believes that this is his Will, then so be it. We are informed by the Beast 666 himself that self-destruction is the final outcome. But it is not only his life, his Self, his will that motivates me to write such an article as this. What of those students out there, still young and immature, still innocent and easily beguiled, who will be irresistibly drawn forth by his words towards the brink of the Abyss? They may well come to realize what is happening to them, but they may also be unable to halt their movement towards the Abyss, due to momentum, their ignorance in technical matters, and the unbelievable strength of attraction of that whirlpool called Daäth. Why do I write this article? To save souls? Nay! If an aspirant falls he falls. But if a word by one man can cause him to fall, to keep things perfectly Balanced, perhaps a word from another man can prevent the aspirant from falling.
Let us return to The Nightside of Eden.
Grant's obsessions are becoming stronger and more apparent in this book. His style has become so unbelievably confusing that he is nearly unreadable. His footnotes have gotten way out of hand, and only serve to mislead the reader more and more. His word and number games have become so ridiculous that some people have actually become disgusted with gematria and etymology, thinking that Grant represents the tower of authority on these subjects. Some examples (and there are better, or worse, as the case may be): Page 10, "The name of this god (Thoth) is equivalent to Doth (Daäth) ..." And I suppose that Thoth is an old dust rag because it is equivalent to Cloth, which actually makes more sense than his supposition. He also constantly twists the reader's head about with such things as: "Furthermore, 393 + 666 = 1059, which is one less than MShKN (Meshken), 'the Tabernacle', and two less than 1061, 'Sunset'." - page 73; "122 is one more than SATAN." - page 74; and on Page 86, "Noh, 125, is one more than ODN, Eden ..." This one-more-one-less thing is NOT gematria. It is not qabalah. It is the product of a mind so loaded with Knowledge that it is tripping over itself in its mad flight to prove that it is the supreme mind of the universe.
On page 8 Grant warns us that
"To go astray in this Desert of Set [i.e. the Abyss - M.E.D.] is to become what is known as a Black Brother."
Mr. Grant said that, and it is exactly what he has done. He has not crossed the Abyss, but wandered into the Abyss until he was finally sucked down to the qliphothic realms (his "otherside of the Tree") through the vortex called Daäth. Again, let me say that it is not his life that I care about in the least. Let him do as he pleases with his own life. The Rights of Man give him the right to live as he will and die as he will. But he exceeds those rights when he actually attempts to lure the innocent into his new world, the World of Shells.
"The eleventh power-zone, Daäth, is attributed to Uranus and is the Abode of the Black Brothers, when viewed from the sphere of Malkuth (Earth). The Black Brothers are represented phenomenally by those who view the universe as an objective reality. The Scientists are their prototypes. Daäth being the Gate of the Abyss is the point both of ingress into noumenon and of egress into phenomena: in other words it is the gateway of the manifestation of non-manifestation."
Italics in this quotation above are mine, made to emphasize just how he intends to mislead the would-be aspirant. And believe me, all scientists are not so limited in their ways of thinking. That is a rash generalization.
His concept of the Tree of Life is intereting: The Otherside of the Tree. This "otherside" business conveys the idea of a flat, two-dimensional Tree, or at best, a three-dimensional object. there is no "otherside". The Tree of Life, in the first place, is only a diagram created for the better comprehension of abstract realities. It is not in itself a reality. What it does imply is not a two or three-dimensional idea, but rather a multi-dimensional concept of constantly flowing energy, for want of a better word, and thus it has no "sides" at all.
Grant also speaks of the "Tunnels of Set", roughly, though not exactly, paralleling the Paths of the "front side" of the Tree - according to him. Here it can be seen that he may not necessarily see the Tree (Otz Chiim) as a two or three-dimensional object, yet his conception is still absurd in its immature limitations and is thus highly misleading. That is the important word: "mis-leading". Mr. Grant has severed his connections with the Supernal Triad, abandoned his Angel and evoked his Evil Genius. He has been beguiled by the qliphothic forces. He has forsaken the "Higher" for the "lower"; abandoned Reason entirely by completelyl succumbing to it and thus becoming totally Unreasonable; he has wandered too long in the Abyss, building a monster out of his ego, and allowing it and the qliphoth to control him; he has allowed his mind to become a vehicle for confusion and dispersion, and then he plunged himself, madly, headlong into that powerful Charybdian whirlpool, the surest entrance into the qliphothic realms, Daäth, and worse, dissatisfied with his own utter destruction, he now exists for the sole purpose of enlisting others into the ranks of the qliphoth and the Black Brotherhood. (All of this is, of course, my own opinion, from my own Point of View - I politely add.)
In Grant's O.T.O. recruitment sheet it is stated that the O.T.O. (i.e. his version of the Ordo Templi Orientis) does not put the brethren under any financial obligations, and this may very well be true. However, money does not move all men. In some cases, men are moved by ego-gratification. Furthermore, this sheet states that the O.T.O. does not undertake the training of what he calls novices. Still, I have communicated with many of Mr. Grant's O.T.O. members, and though I have found some who are quite charming, intelligent, and not obsessed by Knowledge (yet?!), I have found many others who are not particularly intelligent (and remember, intelligence can be great without the presence of great knowledge), very neurotic and/or paranoid, and positively obsessed by one kind of Knowledge or another. (And it should be noted that obsession goes far beyond dedication.)
I truly hope that "Like attracts like", because I would hate to see possibly sincere and dedicated Thelemites seduced to follow Mr. Grant's path. Therefore I have written this all too brief article.
As for the books mentioned in this article - I recommend them not only for the relevant and worthwhile material within their pages, but also as a study in the pathological states of mind which can lead to Self-destruction. I would also like to thank Samuel Weiser, Inc. and Frederick Muller Ltd. for giving me permission to quote passages from these three books. Their kindness and efficiency in dealing with me will always be appreciated.
Finally I would like to stress that I care nothing for Mr. Grant and all that he does to his life, however, I do care for the innocents who could be but never shall become if led astray by these qliphothic machinations. And of course I care very much about how Mr. Grant is misrepresenting Aleister Crowley and Thelema by way of his books.
The readers of the above article are also strongly advised to read the brief article entitled "The Dangers of Mysticism" by Aleister Crowley and published in The Equinox, Volume I, Number 6, pages 153 to 158 of the 1975 E.V. Samuel Weiser edition. If it has already been read, it should be re-read.
(TNN I.6.5-11, 10/24/78 E.V.)
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