The Practice of Thelemic Egyptian Witchcraft
by Fra. 137
Copyright, Cabal of the Hawk and Jackal, 1997 E.V., 93 A.N.
In many religions, mainstream and otherwise, people believe that the time of prophesy has passed with the prophet. They believe that there can only be one prophet, or savior, or teacher, or whatever they call the founder of their way of life. Remember that religion means “way of life”. They tend to persecute, or burn at the stake, or ridicule, or lock away in mental institutions, those who claim to continue revelation with one of their own.
I have no need to be a martyr and I'd like to think that the time of martyrdom has passed, not the ability to contact deity.
I'd like to ask one question of all of you. Can you truly trust a religion where the leaders don't seem to be able to "talk" with their deities, or "walk" with their deities, where their prayer is a one sided conversation?
You might think that if their Deities won't talk to them it might be that their Deities don't like them very much.
I think this also defines the difference between some one who has achieved some success in Ceremonial Magick, and someone who is only studying it. Someone who calls to a Deity must expect them to come in answer to that call, when they do come, they can make themselves known. If they don't the operation is questionable.
Maslow, in his book "Peak Experience and Religious Values", says that it is much more likely that a college student of no particular faith have a genuine religious experience than it is that a member of any organized religion have one. He goes further to say that one aspect of most organized religion is to discourage true religious experience, since this indicates that we are all prophets, some are afraid this could ruin the "Special" place of the historical Prophet, or Savior, or Teacher, or whatever. If this happened people might fail to pay the cover-charge and simply make some “music” of their own.
I don't claim to know what music you should listen to, that's a matter of taste. I don't claim that my music is any more relevant than anyone else's. Hell, it's up to you to figure out whether you think the noises that I make are even music.
I'm a Thelemite, I have no vested interest in destroying the special place of the Prophet, any more than the Gnostics wished to destroy the special place of the Christ. I do think Crowley would agree that each of you are god, or goddess, and that you should have knowledge and conversation of this. When I say “Knowledge and Conversation”, I mean knowing your Deity well enough to carry on a conversation. If it is in your nature, that revelation may be of use to another. Your own revelation is what counts in any case, it will be the most fitted to help you in your life. I heartily recommend that you learn to do this. It's sometimes the case that another persons revelation might help you to learn. The works of the Prophet, most especially the Book of the Law have certainly helped me most.
My work discusses some of my revelations concerning the practice of Thelema, it doesn't define The Holy Books for another. Some people quote at me the prohibition against discussing the contents of the Book of the Law. Others go so far as to say that you should only read the book once, then burn it. Others remark that we are forbidden to study the book, though some Initiations may advise you to do exactly that! I say that it's impossible to discuss anything but your own thoughts upon reading that Book, and these are a discussion of your own perceptions rather than of The Book of the Law. No one should give an "authoritative definition" of any part of that book for another person. As the comment says, each should approach the Book of the Law through Crowley's own writings for themselves, and they should never allow someone else to define the meaning of any part of The Holy Books for them. Remember the last three lines of the "Comment" are:
"All questions of the Law are to be decided only by appeal to my writings, each for himself."
"There is no law beyond Do what thou wilt."1
"Love is the law, love under will."
I was a Witch before I ever saw a book by Aleister Crowley. I have no problem working lunar and solar systems of Magick together, I think that the Sun and Moon conjoined is at least one interpretation of the "Mark of the Beast". I work a system of Magick, inclusive of the two Principles. But here again is the old controversy.
On the one hand, some of Crowley's comments in "Magick in Theory and Practice, (Book 4 part 3)", regarding Witchcraft are quoted to marginalize lunar rites. And let's not forget his comments in "Liber Aleph", "On the nature of Woman", even more often quoted to marginalize women in general.
On the other hand, I don't agree with every statement Crowley made, I'm a Thelemite, not a fanatic! And though Crowley has made some hasty statements, often taken out of context, I don't think he was anti-witchcraft, as his work with Gerald Gardner proves, nor was he sexist, as a large body of his diatribes against sexism shows.
So my friends, you are on your own. This is what I think …
Consider what it means to have a circle. How is it two people, or a group can come together to do Magick.
At first what brings them together is a common interest in Magick, focused on actually working, doing Magick. They have the conviction that they can make enlightened their life and the peoples lives around them. They want this to be actualized in a real sense. They don’t want to simply pursue a hobby of studying the experiences of others who became enlightened, they want to experiment, to actually work Magick.
They are aware of the fact that many around them are book collectors who vicariously enjoy the hard won initiations of others, but they are excited about the prospects of this practice and believe that their sincere interest can secure for them the instruction that they require. They are willing to work for their enlightenment. If there are no teachers around on the physical plane, they feel that they can get what they need from the true school of the Spirit. Directly from the Gods. And finally, they are willing to fulfill the role of Teacher themselves as they learn and grow.
And so with courage and sincerity in their hearts they will take what risks they are called upon to this end. When they become a Teacher themselves they feel that they will not attempt to usurp the Will of their students, quite the contrary they will empower them even if they disagree with the direction and focus of their students work, and they demand that sincerity from those that they are willing to learn from. Each responsible for the doing of their own Will and yet responsible for passing that that they have been given to those that follow them.
Each small group of friends that forms to this end can do these things, and others that they can’t even begin to understand, at this stage of their development as Magicians.
Now let me give you a bit of advice. I know that it is unsolicited, and possibly dead wrong, like all the things I have been saying in this section, but balance your group, let it form by accretion. It is a pearl that grows about the irritation, illustrated by the thought that there must be more to life than the mundane march to the grave while eking out what pleasure we may on the way. It forms about a priest and a priestess, born of the need to do those things that will require the assistance of others. Around them forms a circle. Add new members carefully.
If you are asked by someone that wants to join your circle, and you know that they are sincere and yet they will not fit in your circle, be an elder for theirs. Give of your extra time to help them form their own, and for a time be a member of more than one circle. But remember that it will be their circle, when two of them attain to lead it, and that they will go as they Will. Give blessing to those who go to form a Circle of their own that have been in yours. Keep true to each other even when you choose different paths.
The following material is the system used by Hawk and Jackal, and even among those that follow this system there is wide variation. Each man and woman, a star in their own right. Each system formed in their own hearts of what they must do together. Each circle, you see, has those that see with the True Sight. If it did not it could not form, or would not survive for long. Some one, or many, among them that can see in the Spirit, can contact the entities that contacted me and gave me so much of this, for themselves. They do not have to have others for them to do this, but it may help.
And this help we are sworn to give. The practice we give here is not what all of the members of Hawk and Jackal do, it is the source material for what many of them do. It is a Tradition of Magick, necessarily incomplete and often revised as more is discovered. We learn by actual practice and not only study. Take what you need of it and realize that you have responsibility to those you introduce to these practices. Be there for them when their time comes. Pass on the Tradition.
We begin with the concept of Lunar Rites, though some of you will realize that first will come Initiation, the ritual forming of the group and acceptance of a Man of Earth into the fold of the Circle.
Some may choose to do their rites in a more public forum, and forgo the Initiation and formal acceptance of a new member, to form a looser association. Those who wish to practice Initiation may choose to do so after they have studied the material that will come later in these works. So much in our tradition depends upon it.
As the eight Gold Sabbats relate to the Sun, so do the Thirteen moons of the Silver Esbats relate to the Moon. These thirteen full, and thirteen new, moons are important to Thelemites, as well as to a more traditional Wiccan group, in that we work a system in which men and women have an equal place.
To Quote The Book of the Law again:
Liber AL, I, 15-16: "(15.) Now ye shall know that the chosen priest & apostle of infinite space is the prince-priest, the Beast; and in his woman called the Scarlet Woman is all power given. They shall gather my children into their fold; they shall bring the glory of the stars into the hearts of men.
(16.) For he is ever a sun, and she a moon. But to him is the winged secret flame, and to her the stooping starlight."2
The following system, regarding the lunar rites, is more personal than my earlier works, and may apply even less to the general use. I use a predominantly Egyptian symbolism in my Witchcraft, and thus I relate the feminine archetype in those terms.
The title of the Tarot Atu that relates to the Moon, is "The Priestess of the Silver Star". And as "Argentum Astrum" is the Latin for Silver Star, I feel that there is a clear relation between the observance of the lunar rites and that Order.3
In Egypt the Moon was personified by several deities. The Sun and Moon are first thought to be the eyes of Ra, then of Horus, Hathor, Ptah, Amoun, or of any God or Goddess considered to be the head of the pantheon in the particular temple involved.
More general usage relates Thoth, sometimes in the name Aah-Tahuti, with his consort Sesheta to both the Books and the Temples where the word of Ra was enthroned, and to the Moon. Remember that it was Thoth who was author of all the arts called civilized. Astronomy, Government, Writing, Building, Mathematics, Medicine, Magick, Mysticism, Music, and all the others, but it was Sesheta that designed those Temples, and kept those libraries of books. There were 42 Books of Thoth in these and other subjects, all now lost, if not when the soldiers of Caesar burned the library at Alexandria, then when the Christian Mob did so.
In Thebes, Khonsu, of the Theban triad Amoun, Mut and Khonsu, was the Principle deity associated with the New Moon. The Egyptians venerated the New, the 7th day, the Full moon, and some say the 21st day. This divides each lunation into four "weeks" and is probably the origin of the division into 7 day weeks attributed to the visible planets, one day at a time. The powers of Thoth and Khonsu would be equal on the 7th and 21st day. Note that the Esbats track through each day of the week as there are about 27 and a third days in a lunation rather than 28.
For my personal use, and in Hawk and Jackal, I relate to the deities in this way; Thoth and Sesheta to the full moons, Khonsu and Quersut to the new moons. Quersut is a secret name of Nuit, and as we all know, it is the dark of the Moon that best reveals the stars.
In the early days of the lunar calendar the "blue Moon" was defined, by the month, or sign of the zodiac where two full moons occurred. There was a special emphasis on that sign and an omen4 for the year.
There are many different ways that an coven or group might work with these silver rites, I believe the natural way will present itself. I’ll help if someone chooses to become involved with any of my work, but remember that it is your Will that must be done, and that it is up to you to define that Will.
It is true that there is power in a Tradition, and the longer that Tradition has been functioning the more it pulls those of like mind to itself. It is also true that my Tradition requires me to teach. So enjoy this handbook, but don’t take it as Gospel, work out what your group wants to do and reach a consensus. Any group of 13 or under should be able to be of one mind in these matters.
Actual Practice of Lunar Rites
In earlier times, when the Solar and Lunar calendars were being welded into a coherent system (which I wish was even more coherent) the practice was to number the Moons starting with the New Moon following the Vernal Equinox.
Place in two columns the 13 numbers for the Full and New Moons you could put Full Moons on the Right, these are the White Esbats, those of the New Moons on the left are the Black Esbats.
After the White Esbat one may begin the process of "harvesting" a project with the Waning moon. This is also the time for works of Banishment.
After the Black Esbat one may "sow" a project, and do works of invocation, or evocation, that will grow with the light of the Moon.5
Each year consult your ephemeride and find the dates of each full and new Moon, find the exact times. These may be written beside the dates, and used to prepare the above tables.
With the sunrise and sunset tables for your latitude find the time of sunset and sunrise for the date of the full, and new, Moon. Watch some local weathercast, that gives the sunrise and sunset times for your city, so that you can get a feel for how to use the latitude tables, and adjust them for your position. Count the hours and minutes between the Sunset and the sunrise to find the length of the night, on the midnight6 closest to the Full Moon.
Check your work, is this actually the middle of the night closest to the exact moment of the full Moon, or new Moon, or is it the day before or after. Their true midnight will only be a minute or so different. Add this time to the Table prepared, or calculate it at the time of the rite. Now that you have found the time then you may proceed to the preparation of the rite itself.
The rite should be simple enough that the chorus for the general celebrants can be learned at the ritual itself. It should include the astrological characteristics of the moment, and have symbols from the plant world that have been "brought"7 by that moon, to plant in the new Moon, or to reap at the full Moon. It should have the proper colors, perfumes, tools, as well as the elementary set used in the rite proper.
In the modern world, with it's considerations, many people will choose to celebrate these Moons at times when they don't have to go to work the next morning, or on the weekend nearest the Moon. When you do this remember the time and placement of the Moon at the exact moment of its occurrence, as well as the time of the ritual itself. Others, including myself have noted that often it helps to do the rite on the midnight after the new, and the midnight before the full, moon. Sometimes its hard to get people to show up to the moon circle when the moon is waning. Waning moons are good to decrease things or banish them and we want our circle to increase, so we tend to use this lunar judo to ride the increase of the waxing moon.
Ritual Celebrations, Rites
A person has both rhythms (Sun and Moon) represented in their psychological, and physiological, cycles. If they are confined away from the light of these bodies, however, they adopt a rhythm of 24 hr. and 50 some odd minutes. This would seem to indicate that some other medium, besides the light of these bodies, is communicating their influence to us. In general the light of the sun is used to detect the solar cycle, and the gravity of the moon (which is not as variable as its light) is the medium used to detect the lunar position.
Now I don't mean to say that the phase of the moon is not also important in the psychological makeup of humanity, I think it is, but this is one explanation for the takeover by the lunar cycle when a person is in a deep cave, or somehow confined away from the light of Day.
If it is indeed gravity that is indicated, as in the tides; the lunar position (in relation to the sun and earth) may be being detected by the inner ear (the organ of balance).
When we celebrate the new and full Moon we add, to the more subtle influences, the more obvious cues given by its visual position. This helps us to stay in sync with the our bodies.
The most obvious physical clue that this is a necessary part of a communities needs are shown in the phenomenon that groups of women living together have noted, there seems to be some influence that causes the majority of women present to have their menses at the same time as a "lead" woman. Their menses slowly adjusts until all, but the newest members of the group, have their periods at the same time. If there is a regular observation of the moon, as there was before the advent of electrical illumination8 they also tend to adopt a period that follows the phase of the moon. Some have said to me that premenstrual stress may be partially, or wholly, eliminated by the regular ritual observance of the lunar rites, but be careful with your birth control when you join a group, if you don't want to get pregnant, while your period adjusts.
When a group begins to celebrate the natural solar and lunar rites, they do several things simultaneously:
1. They align their own bodies 9to nature in the same way that all creatures, evolved on this planet, have done for millennia.
2. They concentrate their energy and psychic selves in concert to address common needs.
3. They organize their lives around the natural calendar, instead of a more artificial construct.
4. They expose themselves to the coherent, and polarized, light of the Moon.10
5. They apply their psychic powers more efficiently.11
When we are in alignment gravitationally, we can see the sun and moon, feel as well as see, the exactitude of their position, appearance, and angle, then the feast and ritual will have its maximum effect.
Part of the nature of an Esbat is that it's a "passion play" to tell the secrets that aid in surviving in the coming time. This is the rationalization for numbering the moons, starting from the vernal equinox, and altering the basic celebration accordingly as the year progresses. Crops are planted, the community events celebrated, and many other aspects of life determined by this calendar.
The passage of the sun, moon, and planets through the signs should also be celebrated by advanced students. The signs, and/or the constellations, form the clues, given by the position of the planets12 in the "houses of heaven", into a "story" of the activities of the Gods that they represent.
The plants and their harvest, the stages of life of the animals about us, the seasons, and all the natural worlds symbolism, are woven together into this more general ritual at the time of the revel, or feast. The Deities are thanked or asked to participate in the harvest, the growth and all the natural process of the cycle of life.
Even more properly are they noted in the solar cycle is expressed in the eight Sabbats13mentioned in the Sacred Calendar section. Briefly these eight Sabbats are the Equinoxes, the Solstices, and the midpoints of the seasons. These festivals are important to a group as they mark the progression of the year, and the proper relation of the people participating to it.
Celebrations help us help each other, they are a cohesive element in a community, they help us define ourselves in relation to each other and the world around us. As Christianity took over the hearts and minds in an area of the world, from the old religion indigenous to it, they often renamed the deity and their festival. Bridgit became St. Bridgit, and her festival hardly changed at all. The theology and the priests may change, and the rationale for why we are celebrating and what we are celebrating may be different, but the Holiday is indestructible.
The Rituals of the New and Full Moons
This outline is what was given me by the Goddess14 in order to help me construct an Egyptian Thelemic Esbat Rite.
If you wish to expand the Rite so that two additional, or eight additional, persons do the invocations of the Sons of Horus, and the Daughters of Nuit15, this outline may be of use.
Initial Outline of Silver Rite
Intro. to people present:
A. Silver Rites in General
B. New Moon - Celebrated Conception in the House of Death
C. Full Moon - Celebrated Culmination in the House of Life
D. Invitation and passage by High Priestess, High Priest.
Entrance to the Temple:
A. Purification by Fire and Air - Priest
B. Purification by Water and Earth - Priestess
Invocation of Sons of Horus - Priest
Invocation of Daughters of Nuit - Priestess
Invocation by Officers:
A. New Moon - Mater et Felio
1. Quersut - Nuit
2. Khonsu - Therion
B. Full Moon - Patter et Felia
1. Sesheta - Babalon (Nebt-het)
2. Tahuti - Hadit
Partake of Sacrament:
Pass power to the worshipers16
License to Depart:
The New Moon Rite
In older cultures the new Moon is defined by the appearance of the first tiny sliver of lunar light just before the sunrise, and not by the dark of the moon when it is invisible, conjunct the Sun. The observation of the new Moon may begin just before sunrise. At this time the new Moon will rise only a very few minutes before the Sun, and this will be the only chance to see it. This is the moment to do the Hymn of Praise to Khonsu. To call upon him to banish all that would interfere with the Will of the participants who attend the Esbat at midnight. Expose his stele, image, or talisman to the first tiniest sliver of silver in the new Moon.
In the time of the Moon conjunct the Sun. As soon as the Sun sets, and the blue lidded daughter of sunset appears with her stars, the time for her invocation begins. Invoke the Goddess in her name AMENT. It is the time of ESBAT and for "the people" to assemble at the midnight. The moon is nearly exactly conjunct the sun and the stars rule the night, as the moon is dark, so the stars are brightest.
At midnight in a graveyard, or a place where the ashes of the dead have been strewn, or with the emblems of death present about the celebrants, the Rite begins.
If the temple has a House of Life17 and a House of Death18, this rite is to be held in the House of Death. The Birth of Life is consummated in the House of Death, and the 13 that are symbolically assembled here, represent the 13 New Moons of the Year. The Rites are done by the Priestess of the Door.19
Jasmine and Rose are the perfumes that are burnt, they symbolize the Lion and the Eagle, for it is in it's darkest moment that the Moon is reborn. For other aspects of the symbolism see the Tarot, Atu XVIII. (For the Solar Sabbats see Atu XIX)
The Rite that will be performed should contain some symbolism of the planets that are in major aspect to the Moon, you must include some aspects of the Solar Symbol as well, in that the Moon is with the Sun, and they lie together under the earth, the Day Star and the Star Goddess, our Father and Mother, that have begotten us upon the Earth, Star & Star."
The Lunar rites are changeable and there are many varied celebrations so feel free to adapt.