Liber LIX



AT last the matter comes back into my mind.  It isnow five years since I discovered my "stele" at Bulak, but not until Iobtained certain initiation in  the city of Benares last year didthe memory of my life in the Twenty-Sixth Dynasty when I was prince and priest in Thebai begin to return. Even now much is obscure; but I amcommanded to write, so that in  writing the full memory may be recovered.For without the perfect knowledge and understanding of that  ,strangelife by Nilus I cannot fully know and understand this later life, or findthat Tomb which I am  appointed to find, and do that therein whichmust be done.  Therefore with faith and confidence do I who was --in a certain mystical sense -- the Priest of the  Princes, Ankh-f-na-khonsu,child of Ta-nech, the holy and mighty one, and of Bes-na-Maut, priestessof  the Starry One, set myself to tell myself the strange things thatbefell me in that life.  Thus.  At my birth Aphruimis in thesign of the Lion was ascending, and in it that strange hidden planet that presides over darkness and magic and forbidden love. The sun was unitedwith the planet of Amoun, but  in the Abyss, as showing {295} thatmy power and glory should be secret, and in Aterechinis the second decanate of the House of Maat, so that my passion and pleasure should likewisebe unprofance. In the  House of Travel in the Sign of the Ram wasthe Moon my sweet lady. And the wise men interpreted this  as a tokenthat I should travel afar; it might be to the great temple at the sourceof mother Nile; it might be
Foolishness! I have scarce stirred from Thebai. Yet haveI explored strange countries that they knew not of: and of this also willI tell in due course. I remember -- as I never could while I lived in Khemi-land-- all the minute care of my birth. For my mother was of the oldest housein Thebes, her blood not only royal, but mixed with the divine. Fifty virginsin their silver tissue stood about her shaking their sistrons, as if thelaughter of the Gods echoed the cries of the woman. By the bed stood thePriest of Horus with his heavy staff, the Phoenix for its head, the prongfor its foot. Watchful he stood lest Sebek should rise from the abyss.On the roof of the palace watched the three chief astrologers of Pharaohwith their instruments, and four armed men from the corners of the towerannounced each god as it rose. So these three men ached and sweated attheir task; for they had become most anxious. All day my birth had beenexpected; but as Toum drew to His setting their faces grew paler than thesky; for there was one dread moment in the night which all their art hadfailed to judge. The gods that watched over it were veiled. But it seemedunlikely that Fate would so decide; yet so they feared that they sent downto the priest of Thoth to say {296} that he must at all costs avoid thethreatening moment, even if the lives of mother and child should pay forit; and still the watchmen cried the hour. Now, now! cried the oldest ofthe astrologers as the moment grew near -- now! Below in answer the priestof Thoth summoned all his skill. When lo! a rumbling of the abyss. Thepalace reeled and fell; Typhon rose mighty in destruction, striding acrossthe skies. The world rocked with earthquake; every star broke from itsfastening and trembled. And in the midst lo! Bes-na-Maut my mother; andin her arms myself, laughing in the midst of all that ruin. Yet not oneliving creature took the slightest hurt! But the astrologers rent theirrobes and beat their faces on the ground; for the dread moment, the UnknownTerror, had gone by; and with it I had come to light.  In their terror,indeed, as I learnt long after, they sent messengers to the oldest andwisest of the priests; the High-priest of Nuit, who lived at the bottomof a very deep well, so that his eyes, even by day, should remain fixedupon the stars.  But he answered them that since they had done allthat they could, and Fate had reversed their design, it  was evidentthat the matter was in the hands of Fate, and that the less they meddledthe better it would be  for them. For he was a brusque old man --how afterwards I met him shall be written in its place. So then I was tobe brought up as befitted one in my station, half-prince, half-priest.I was to follow my father, hold his wand and ankh, assume his throne. Andnow I begin to recall some details of my preparation for that high andholy task. {297} Memory is strangely fragmentary and strangely vivid. Iremember how, when I had completed my fourth month, the priests took meand wrapped me in a panther's skin, whose flaming gold and jet-black spotswere like the sun. They carried me to the river bank where the holy crocodileswere basking; and there they laid me. But when they left me they refrainedfrom the usual enchauntment against the evil spirit of the crocodile; andso for three days I lay without protection. Only at certain hours did mymother descend to feed me; and she too was silent, being dressed as a princessonly, without the sacred badges of
her office. Also in the sixth month they exposed me tothe Sun in the desert where was no shade or clothing; and in the seventhmonth they laid me in a bed with a sorceress, that fed on the blood ofyoung children, and, having been in prison for a long time, was bitterlyan-hungered; and in the eighth month they gave me the
aspic of Nile, and the royal Uraeus serpent, and thedeadly snake of the south country, for playmates; but I passed scathelessthrough all these trials. And in the ninth month I was weaned, and my motherbade me farewell, for never again might she look upon my face, save inthe secret rites of the Gods, when we should meet otherwise than as babeand mother, in the garment of that Second Birth which we of Khemi knew.The next six years of my life have utterly faded. All that I can recallis the vision of the greatness of our city of Thebai, and the severityof my life. For I lived on the back of a horse, even eating and drinkingas I rode; for so it becometh a prince. Also I was trained to lay aboutme with a sword, and in the use of the bow and the spear. For it was saidthat {298} Horus -- or Men Tu, as we called him in Thebai -- was my Fatherand my God. I shall speak later of that strange story of my begetting.At the end of seven years, however, so great and strong had I waxen thatmy father took me to the old astrologer that dwelt in the well to consulthim. This I remember as if it were but yesterday. The journey
down the great river with its slow days! The creakingbenches and the sweat of the slaves are still in my ears and my nostrils.Then swift moments of flying foam in some rapid or cataract. The greattemples that we passed; the solitary Ibis of Thoth that meditated on theshore; the crimson flights of birds; -- but nothing that we saw upon thejourney was like unto the end thereof. For in a desolate place was theWell, with but a small temple beside it, where the servants -- they toomost holy! of that holy ancient man might dwell. And my father broughtme to the mouth of the well and called thrice upon the name of Nuit. Thencame a voice climbing and coiling up the walls like a serpent, "Let thischild become priestess of the Veiled
One!" Now my father was wise enough to know that theold man never made a mistake; it was only a question of a right interpretationof the oracle. Yet he was sorely puzzled and distressed, for that I wasa boy child. So at the risk of his life -- for the old man was brusque!-- he called again and said "Behold my son!"

But as he spoke a shaft of sunlight smote him on the napeof the neck as he bend over the well; and his face blackened, and his bloodgushed forth from his mouth. And the old man lapped up the blood of myfather with his tongue, and cried {299} gleefully to his servants to carryme to a house of the Veiled One, there to be trained in my new life. Sothere came forth from the little house an eunuch and a young woman exceedingfair; and the eunuch saddled two horses, and we rode into the desert alone.Now though I could ride like a man, they suffered me not; but the youngpriestess bore me in her arms. And though I ate meat like a warrior, theysuffered me not, but the young priestess fed me at her breast. And theytook from me the armour of gilded bronze that my father had made for me,scales like a
crocodile's sewn upon crocodile skin that cunning menhad cured with salt and spices; but they wrapped me in soft green silk.So strangely we came to a little house in the desert, and that which befellme there is not given me of the gods at this time to tell; but I will sleep;and in the morning by their favour the memory thereof shall arise in me,even in me across these thousands of years of the whirling of the earthin her course.



SO for many years I grew sleek and subtle in my woman'sattire. And the old eunuch (who was very wise) instructed me in the Artof Magic and in the worship of the Veiled One, whose priestess was I destined.I remember now many things concerning those strange rituals, things toosacred to write. But I will tell
of an adventure that I had when I was nine years of age.In one of the sacred books it is written that the secret of that subtledraught which giveth vision of the
star-abodes of Duant, whose sight is life eternal infreedom and pleasure among the living, lieth in the use of a certain littlesecret bone that is in the Bear of Syria. Yet how should I a child slaysuch an one? For they had taken all weapons from me.
But in a garden of the city (for we had now returnedunto a house in the suburbs of Thebai) was a colony of bears kept by agreat lord for his pleasure. And I by my cunning enticed a young bear-cubfrom its dam, and slew it with a great stone. Then I tore off its skinand hid myself therein, taking also its jaw and sharpening the same uponmy stone. Then at last the old she-bear came searching me, and as she putdown her nose to smell at me, taking me for her cub, I drove my sharpenedbone into her throat. I struck with great fortune; for she coughed once,and died. {301} Then I took her skin with great labour; and (for it wasnow night) began to return to my house. But I was utterly weary and I couldno longer climb the wall. Yet I stayed awake all that night, sharpeningagain upon my stone the jaw-bone of that bear-cub; and this time I boundit to a bough that I tore off from a certain tree that grew in the garden.Now towards the morning I fell asleep, wrapped in the skin of the old she-bear.And the great bear himself, the lord of the garden, saw me, and took mefor his mate, and came to take his pleasure of me. Then I being rousedout of sleep struck at his heart with all my strength as he rose over me,and quitting
my shelter ran among the trees. For I struck not home,or struck aslant. And the old bear, sore wounded, tore up the skin of hismate; and then, discovering the cheat, came after me. But by good fortuneI found and wedged myself into a narrow pylon, too deep for him to reachme, though I could not go through, for the door was closed upon me. Andin the angle of the door was an old sword disused. This was too heavy forme to wield with ease; yet I lifted it, an struck feebly at the claws ofthe bear. So much I wounded him that in his pain he dropped and withdrewand began to lick his paws. Thus he forgot about me; and I, growing bolder,ran out upon him. He opened his mouth; but before he could rise, I thrustthe sword down it. He tossed his head; and I, clinging to the sword-hilt,was thrown into the air, and fell heavily upon my shoulder. My head toostruck the ground; and I lay stunned.
When I came to myself it was that a party of men and{302} women had thrown water in my face and uttered the spells that revivefrom swoon. Beside me, close beside me, lay mine enemy dead; and I, notforgetful of my quest, took the blade of the sword (for it was snapt) andcut off the secret parts of the bear and took the little bone thereof;and would have gone forth with my prize. But the great lord of the housespake with me; and all his friends made as if to mock at me. But the womenwould not have it; they came round me and petted and caressed me; so thatangry words were spoken. But even as they quarrelled among themselves,my guardian, the old eunuch, appeared among them; for he had traced meto the garden. And when they beheld the ring of the holy ancient man theastrologer they trembled; and the lord of the house threw a chain of goldaround my neck, while his lady gave me her own silken scarf, broideredwith the loves of Isis and Nephthys, and of Apis and Hathor. Nor did anydare to take from me the little bone that I had won so dearly; and withit I made the spell of the Elixir, and beheld the starry abodes of Duant,even as it was written in the old wise book. But my guardians were ashamedand perplexed; for though I was so sleek and subtle, yet my manhood alreadyglowed in such deeds as this -- how should I truly become the priestessof the Veiled One? Therefore they kept me closer and nursed me with luxuryand flattery. I had two negro slave-boys that fanned me and that fed me;I had an harp-player from the great city of Memphis, that played languorous
tunes. But in my mischief I would constantly excite himto thoughts of war and of love; and his music would grow violent and loud,so {303} that the old eunuch, rushing in, would belabour him with his staff.How well I recall that room! Large was it and lofty; and there were sculpturedpillars of malachite and lapis-lazuli and of porphyry and yellow marble.The floor was of black granite; the roof of white marble. On the Southernside was my couch, a softness of exotic furs. To roll in them was to gaspfor pleasure. In the centre was a tiny fountain of pure gold. The sunlightcame through the space between the walls and the roof, while on the othersides I could look through and up into the infinite blue. There was a greatpython that inhabited the hall; but he was very old, and too wise to stir.But -- so I then believed -- he watched me and conveyed intelligence tothe old magus of the well.
Now then the folly of my guardians appeared in this;that while all day I slept and languished and played idly, at night whilethey supposed I slept, I slept not. But I rose and gave myself to the mostviolent exercises. First, I would go into my bathing-pool and hold my breathbeneath the water while I invoked the goddess Auramoth one hundred times.Next, I would walk on my hands around the room; I
even succeeded in hopping on one hand. Next, I wouldclimb each of thetwenty- four smooth pillars. Next, I would practise theseventy-two athletic postures. Also in many other ways I would strive tomake my strength exceeding great; and all this I kept most secret frommy guardians. At last on one night I resolved to try my strength; so, pushingaside the curtain, I passed into the corridor. Springing upon the soldierthat guarded me, I brought him to the {304} ground; and with my
right hand under his chin, my left on his right shoulder,and my knee at the nape of his neck, I tore his head from his body beforehe could utter a cry. I was now in my fifteenth year; but the deed wasmarvelous. None suspected me; it was thought a miracle. The old eunuch,distressed, went to consult the magus of the well; whose answer was; "Letthe vows of the priestess be taken!" Now I thought this old man most foolish-obstinate;for I myself was obstinate and foolish. Not yet did I at all understandhis wisdom or his purpose. It often happens thus. Of old, men sent theirpriests to rebuke Nile for rising -- until it was known that his risingwas the cause of the fertility of their fields. Now of the vows which Itook upon me and of my service as priestess of the Veiled One it shallnext be related.


IT was the Equinox of Spring, and all my life stirredin me. They led me down cool colonnades of mighty stone clad in robes ofwhite broidered with silver, and veiled with a veil of fine gold web fastenedwith rubies. They gave me not the Uraeus crown, nor any nemyss, nor theAteph crown, but bound my forehead with a simple fillet of green leaves-- vervain and mandrake and certain deadly herbs of which it is not fittingto speak. Now the priests of the Veiled One were sore perplexed, for thatnever before had any boy been chosen priestess. For before the vows maybe administered, the proofs of virginity are sought; and, as it seemed,
this part of the ritual must be suppressed or glossedover. Then said the High Priest: "Let it be that we examine the first womanthat he shall touch with his hand, and she shall suffice." Now when I heardthis, I thought to test the God; and, spying in the crowd, I beheld inloose robes with flushed face and wanton eyes, a certain courtesan well-knownin the city, and I touched her. Then those of the priests that hated mewere glad, for they wished to reject me; and taking aside into the hallof trial that woman, made the enquiry. Then with robes rent they came runningforth, crying out against the Veiled One; for they found her perfect invirginity, and so was she even unto her death, as latter appeared. {306}But the Veiled One was wroth with them because of this, and appeared inher glittering veil upon the
steps of her temple. There she stood, and called themone by one; and she lifted but the eye-piece of her veil and looked intotheir eyes; and dead they fell before her as if smitten of the lightning.But those priests who were friendly to me and loyal to the goddess tookthat virgin courtesan, and led her in triumph through the city, veiledand crowned as is befitting. Now after some days he that guarded
the sacred goat of Khem died, and they appointed herin his place. And she was the first woman that was thus honoured sincethe days of the Evil Queen in the Eighteenth Dynasty, of her that weariedof men at an age when other women have not known them, that gave herselfto gods and beasts. But now they took me to the pool of liquid silver --or so they called it; I suppose it was quicksilver; for I
remember that it was very difficult to immerse me --which is beneath the feet of the Veiled One. For this is the secret ofthe Oracle. Standing afar off the priest beholds the reflection of herin the mirror, seeing her lips that move under the veil; and this he interpretsto the seeker after truth. Thus the priest reads wrongly the silence ofthe Goddess, and the seeker understands ill the speech of the priest. Thencome forth fools, saying "The Goddess hath lied" -- and in their follythey die.
While, therefore, they held me beneath the surface ofthe pool, the High Priestess took the vows on my behalf saying:
I swear by the orb of the Moon;
I swear by the circuit of the Stars; {307}
I swear by the Veil, and by the Face behind the Veil;
I swear by the Light Invisible, and by the Visible Darkness;On behalf of this Virgin that is buried in thy water;
To live in purity and service;
To love in beauty and truth;
To guard the Veil from the profane;
To die before the Veil; ... -- and then came the awfulpenalty of failure.
I dare not recall half of it; yet in it were these words:Let her be torn by the Phallus of Set, and let her bowels be devoured byApep; let her be prostituted to the lust of Besz, and let her face be eatenby the god
It is not good to write His name.
Then they loosed me, and I lay smiling in the pool. Theylifted me up and brought me to the feet of the goddess, so that I mightkiss them. And as I kissed them such a thrill ran through me that I thoughtmyselfrapt away into the heaven of Amoun, or even as Asi when Hoor and Hoor-pa-kraat,cleaving her womb, sprang armed to life. Then they stripped me of my robes,and lashed me with fine twigs of virgin
hazel, until my blood ran from me into the pool. Butthe surface of the silver swallowed up the blood by some mysterious energy;and they took this to be a sign of acceptance. So then they clothed mein the right robes of a priestess of the Veiled One; and they put a silversistron in my hand, and bade me perform
the ceremony of adoration. This I did, and the veil ofthe goddess glittered in the darkness -- for night had fallen by this --with a strange starry light. Thereby it was known that I was indeed chosenaright. So last of all they took me to the banqueting-house and {308} setme on the high throne. One by one the priests came by and kissed my lips:one by one the priestesses came by, and gave me the secret clasp of handsthat hath hidden virtue. And the banquet waxed merry; for all the foodwas magically prepared. Every beast that they slew was virgin; every plantthat they plucked had been grown and tended by virgins in the gardens ofthe temple. Also the wine was spring water only, but so consecrated bythe holy
priestesses that one glass was more intoxicating thata whole skin of common wine. Yet this intoxication was a pure delight,an enthusiasm wholly divine; and it gave strength, and did away with sleep,and left no sorrow. Last, as the first gray glow of Hormakhu paled thedeep indigo of the night, they crowned and clothed me with white lotusflowers, and took me joyously back into the temple, there to celebratethe matin ritual of awakening the Veiled One. Thus, and not otherwise,I became priestess of that holy goddess, and for a little while my lifepassed calm as the unruffled mirror itself. It was from the Veiled Oneherself that came the Breath of Change. On this wise. In the Seventh Equinoxafter my initiation into her mystery the High Priestess was found to fail;at her invocation the Veil no longer glittered as was its wont. For thisthey deemed her impure, and resorted to many ceremonies, but without avail.At last in despair she went to the temple of Set, and gave herself as avictim to that dreadful god. Now all men were much disturbed at this, andit was not known at all of them what they should do. {309} Now it mustbe remembered that the ceremonies are always performed by a single priestessalone before the goddess, save only at the Initiations. The others alsohad found themselves rejected of her; and when they learnt of the terribleend of the High Priestess, they became fearful. Some few, indeed, concealedtheir failure from the priests; but always within a day and a night theywere found torn asunder in the outer courts; so that it seemed the lesserevil to speak truth. Moreover, the affair had become a public scandal;for the goddess plagued the people with famine and
with a terrible and foul disease. But as for me, I wotnot what to do; for to me always the Veil glittered, and that brighterthan the ordinary. Yet I said nothing, but went about drooping and sorrowful,as if I were as unfortunate as they. For I would not seem to boast of thefavour of the goddess. Then they sent to the old Magus in the well; andhe laughed outright at their beards, and would say no word. Also they sentto the sacred goat of Khem, and his priestess would but answer, "I, andsuch as I, may be favoured of Her," which they took for ribaldry and mocking.Athird time they sent to the temple of Thoth the Ibis god of wisdom. AndThoth answered them by this riddle: "On how many legs doth mine Ibis stand?"And they understood him not. But the old High priest determined to solvethe mystery, though he paid forfeit with his life. So concealing himselfin the temple, he watched in the pool for the reflection of the glitteringof the Veil, while one by one we performed the {310} adorations. And behindhim and without stood the priests,
watching for him to make a sign. This we knew not; butwhen it fell to me (the last) to adore that Veiled One, behold! the Veilglittered, and the old Priest threw up his arms to signal that which hadoccurred. And the flash of the eye pierced the Veil, and he fell from hisplace dead upon the priests without. They buried him with much honour,for that he had given his life for the people and for the temple, to
bring back the favour of the Veiled One. Then came theyall very humbly unto me the child, and besought me to interpret the willof the Goddess. And her will was that I alone should serve her day andnight. Then they gave me to drink of the Cup of the torment; and this isits virtue, that if one should speak falsely, invoking the name of thegoddess, he shall burn in hell visibly before all men for a thousand years;and that flame shall never be put out. There is such an one in her templein Memphis, for I saw it with these eyes. There he burns and writhes andshrieks on the cold marble floor; and there he shall burn till his timeexpire, and he sink to that more dreadful hell below the West. But I drankthereof, and the celestial dew stood shining on my skin, and a coolnessineffable thrilled through me; whereat they all
rejoiced, and obeyed the voice of the Goddess that Ihad declared unto them. Now then was I alway alone with that Veiled One,and I must enter most fully into that secret period of my life. For, despiteits ending, which hath put many wise men to shame, it was to me even asan eternity of rapture, of striving and of attainment beyond that whichmost mortals -- and they initiates even! -- call divine. {311}
Now first let it be understood what is the ritual ofadoration of our Lady the Veiled One. First, the priestess performs a mysticaldance, by which all beings whatsoever, be they dogs or demons, are banished,so that the place may be pure. Next, in another dance, even more secretand sublime, the presence of the goddess is invoked into her Image. Next,the priestess goes a certain journey, passing the
shrines of many great and terrible of the Lords of Khem,and saluting them. Last, she assumes the very self of the Goddess; andif this be duly done, the Veil glittereth responsive. Therefore, if theVeil glittereth not, one may know that in some way the priestess hath failedto identify herself with Her. Thus an impurity in the thought of the priestessmust cause her to fail; for the goddess is utterly pure.
Yet the task is alway difficult; for with the other godsone knoweth the appearance of their images; and steadily contemplatingthese one can easily attain to their imitation, and so to their comprehension,and to unity of consciousness with them. But with Our Veiled One, nonewho hath seen her face hath lived long enough to say one word, or callone cry. So then it was of vital urgency to me to keep in perfect sympathywith that pure soul, so calm, so strong. With what terror then did I regardmyself when, looking into my own soul, I saw no longer that perfect
stillness. Strange was it, even as if one should seea lake stirred by a wind that one did not feel upon the cheeks and brow!Trembling and ashamed, I went to the vesper adoration. I knew myself troubled,irritated, by I knew not what. And {312} in spite of all my efforts, thispersisted even to the supreme moment of my assumption of her godhead. Andthen? Oh but the Veil glittered as never yet; yea more! it shot out sparksof scintillant fire, silvery rose, a shower of flame and of perfume. Thenwas I exceedingly amazed because of this, and made a Vigil before her allthe night, seeking a Word. And that word came not. Now of what furtherbefell I will write anon.


SO it came to pass that I no longer went out at all fromthe presence of the goddess, save only to eat and to sleep. And the favourof her was restored to the people, so that all men were glad thereof. Forif any man murmured, he was slain incontinent, the people being mindfulof the famine and the disease, and being minded to have no more of such,if it could by any means be avoided. They were
therefore exceeding punctual with their gifts. But Iwas daily more afraid, being in a great sweat of passion, of which I daredto speak to no man. Nor did I dare to speak even privily in mine own heartthereof, lest I should discover its nature. But I sent my favourite, thevirgin Istarah (slim, pallid, and trembling as a young lotus in the WestWind), with my ring of office, to enquire of the old Magus of the well.
And he answered her by pointing upward to the sky andthen downward to the earth. And I read this Oracle as if it were spoken"As above, so beneath." This came to me as I had flung myself in despairat the feet of my Lady, covering them with my tears; for by a certain manifesttoken I now knew that I had done a thing that was so dreadful that evennow -- these many thousand years hence -- I dare hardly write it. I lovedthe Veiled One. {314} Yea, with the fierce passion of a beast, of a man,of a god, with my whole soul I loved her. Even as I knew this by the manifesttoken the Veil burst into a devouring flame; it ate up the robes of
my office, lapping them with its tongues of fire likea tigress lapping blood; yet withal it burnt me not, nor singed one hair.Thus naked I fled away in fear, and in my madness slipped and fell intothe pool of liquid silver, splashing it all over the hall; and even asI fled that rosy cataract of flame that wrapt me (from the Veil as
it jetted) went out --- went out ---- The Veil was adull web of gold, no more.
Then I crept fearfully to the feet of the goddess, andwith my tears and kisses sought to wake her into life once more. But theVeil flamed not again; only a mist gathered about it and filled the temple,and hid all things from my eyes. Now then came Istarah my favourite backwith the ring and the message; and thinking that she brought bad news,I slit her lamb's-throat with the magic sickle, and her asp's-tongue Itore out with my hands, and threw it to the dogs and jackals.
Herein I erred sorely, for her news was good. Havingreflected thereon, I perceived its import. For since the Veil flamed alwaysat my assumption, it was sure that I was in sympathy with that holy VeiledOne. If I were troubled, and knew not why; if my long peace were stirred-- why then, so She! "As above, so beneath!" For even as I, being man,sought to grasp godhead and crush it in my arms, so She, the pure essence,sought to manifest in form by love. Yet I dared not repeat the ceremonyat midnight. {315} Instead I lay prone, my arms outstretched in shame andpain, on the steps at her feet. And lo! the Veil flamed. Then I knew thatShe too blamed Herself alike for her ardour and for her abstinence. Thusseven days I lay, never stirring; and all that time the Veil flamed subtlyand softly, a steady bluish glow changing to green as my thought changedfrom melancholy to desire. Then on the eight day I rose and left the shrineand clad myself in new robes, in robes of scarlet and gold, with a crownof vine and bay and laurel and cypress. Also I purified myself and proclaimeda banquet. And I made the priests and the citizens, exceeding drunken.Then I called the guard, and purged thoroughly the whole temple of allof them, charging the captain on his life to let no man pass within. Sothat I should be absolutely alone in the whole precincts of the temple.Then like an old gray wolf I wandered round the outer court, lifting upmy voice in a mournful howl. And an ululation as of one hundred thousandwolves answered me, yet deep and muffled, as though it came from the verybowels of the earth. Then at the hour of midnight I entered again the shrineand performed the ritual. As I went on I became inflamed with an infinitelust for the Infinite; and now I let itleap unchecked, a very lion. Evenso the Veil glowed red as with some infernal fire. Now then I am come tothe moment of the Assumption; but instead of sitting calm and cold, remote,aloof, I gather myself together, and spring madly at the Veil, catchingit in my two hands. Now the Veil was of woven gold, three thousand {316}twisted wires; a span thick! Yet I put out my whole force to tear itacross;and (for she also put out her force) it rent with a roar as of earthquake.Blinded I was with the glory of her face; I should have fallen; but shecaught me to her, and fixed her divine mouth on mine, eating me up withthe light of her eyes. Her mouth moaned, her throat sobbed with love; hertongue thrust itself into me as a shaft of sunlight smites into the palm-groves;my robes fell shrivelled, and flesh to flesh we clung. Then in some strangeway she gripped me body and soul, twining herselfabout me and within meeven as Death that devoureth mortal man.
Still, still my being increased; my consciousness expandeduntil I was all Nature seen as one, felt as one, apprehended as one, formedby me, part of me, apart from me -- all these things at one moment -- andat the same time the ecstasy of love grew colossal, a tower to scale thestars, a sea to drown the sun ... I cannot write of this ... but in thestreets people gathered apples of gold that dropped from invisible
boughs, and invisible porters poured out wine for all,strange wine that healed disease and old age, wine that, poured betweenthe teeth of the dead (so long as the embalmer had not begun his work),brought them back from the dark kingdom to perfect health and youth.

As for me, I lay as one dead in the arms of the holy VeiledOne -- Veiled no more! -- while she took her pleasure of me ten times,a thousand times. In that whirlwind of passion all my strength was as astraw in the simoom. Yet I grew not weaker but stronger. Though my ribs{317} cracked, I held firm. Presently indeed I stirred; it seemed as ifher strength had come to me. Thus I forced back her head and thrust myselfupon and into her even as a comet that impales the sun upon its horn! Andmy breath came fast between my lips and hers; her moan now faint, likea dying child, no more like a wild beast in torment. Even so, wild withthe lust of conquest, I urged myself upon her and fought against her. Istretched out her arms and forced them to the ground; then I crossed themon her breast, so that she was powerless.
And I became like a mighty serpent of flame, and wrapther, crushed her in my coils. I was the master! ... Then grew a vast soundabout me as of shouting: I grew conscious of the petty universe, the thingthat seems apart from oneself, so long as one is oneself apart from it.Men cried "The temple is on fire! The temple of Asi the Veiled One is burning!The mighty temple that gave its glory to Thebai is aflame! Then I loosedmy coils and gathered myself together into the form of a mighty hawk ofgold and spake one last word to her, a word to raise her from the dead!But lo! not Asi, but Asar! White was his garment, starred with red andblue and yellow. Green was his Countenance, and in his hands he bore thecrook and scourge. Thus he rose, even as the temple fell about us in ruins,and we were
left standing there.  And I wist not what to say.Now then the people of the city crowded in upon us, and for the most partwould have slain me. But Thoth the mighty God, the wise one, with his Ibis-head,{318} and his nemyss of indigo, with his Ateph crown and his Phoenix wandand with his Ankh of emerald, with his magic apron in the Three colours;yea, Thoth, the God of Wisdom, whose skin is of tawny orange as thoughit burned in a furnace, appeared visibly to all of us. And the old Magusof the Well, whom no man had seen outside his well for nigh threescoreyears, was found in the midst: and he cried with a loud voice, saying:
"The Equinox of the Gods!" And he went on to explainhow it was that Nature should no longer be the centre of man's worship,but Man himself, man in his suffering and death, man in his purificationand perfection. And he recited the
Formula of the Osiris as follows, even as it hath beentransmitted unto us by the Brethren of the Cross and Rose unto this day:

"For Asar Un-nefer hath said:
He that is found perfect before the Gods hath said:
These are the elements of my body, perfected throughsuffering, glorified through trial. For the Scent of the dying rose isthe repressed sigh of my suffering;
The Flame-Red fire is the energy of my undaunted Will;
The Cup of Wine is the outpouring of the blood of myheart, sacrificed
to regeneration;
And the Bread and Salt are the Foundations of my Body
Which I destroy in order that they may be renewed.
For I am Asar triumphant, even Asar Un-nefer the JustifiedOne!
I am He who is clothed with the body of flesh,
Yet in Whom is the Spirit of the mighty Gods.
I am the Lord of Life, triumphant over death; he whopartaketh with me
shall arise with me.
I am the manifestor in Matter of those whose abode isin the Invisible.
I am purified: I stand upon the Universe: I am its Reconcilerwith the
eternal Gods: I am the Perfector of Matter; and withoutme the
Universe is not!" {319}

All this he said, and displayed the sacraments of Osirisbefore them all; and in a certain mystical manner did we all symbolicallypartake of them. But for me! in the Scent of the dying Rose I beheld ratherthe perfection of the love of my lady the Veiled One, whom I had won, andslain in the winning!

Now, however, the old Magus clad me (for I was yet naked)in the dress of a Priest of Osiris. He gave me the robes of white Linen,and the leopard's skin, and the wand and ankh. Also he gave me the crookand scourge, and girt me with the royal girdle. On my head he set the holyUraeus serpent for a crown; and then, turning to the people, cried aloud:
"Behold the Priest of Asar in Thebai!
"He shall proclaim unto ye the worship of Asar; see thatye follow him!"
Then, ere one could cry "Hold!" he had vanished fromour sight.
I dismissed the people; I was alone with the dead God;with Osiris, the Lord of Amennti, the slain of Typhon, the devoured ofApophis ...
Yea, verily, I was alone!


NOW then the great exhaustion took hold upon me, and Ifell at the feet of the Osiris as one dead. All knowledge of terrestrialthings was gone from me; I entered the kingdom of the dead by the gateof the West. For the worship of Osiris is to join the earth to the West;it is the cultus of the Setting Sun. Through Isis man obtains strengthof nature; through Osiris he obtains the strength of suffering and
ordeal, and as the trained athlete is superior to thesavage, so is the magic of Osiris stronger than the magic of Isis. So bymy secret practices at night, while my guardians strove to smooth my spiritto a girl's, had I found the power to bring about that tremendous event,an Equinox of the Gods. Just as thousands of years later was my secretrevolt against Osiris -- for the world had suffered long
enough! -- destined to bring about another Equinox inwhich Horus was to replace the Slain One with his youth and vigour andvictory. I passed therefore into these glowing abodes of Amennti, cladin thick darkness, while my body lay entranced at the feet of the Osirisin the ruined temple. Now the god Osiris sent forth his strange gloom tocover us, lest the people should perceive or disturb; Therefore I lay peacefullyentranced, and abode in Amennti. There I confronted the devouring god,and there was my heart weighed {321} and found perfect; there the two-and-fortyJudges bade me pass through the pylons they guarded; there I spoke withthe Seven, and with the Nine, and with the Thirty-Three; and at the endI came out into the abode of the Holy Hathor, unto her mystical mountain,and being there crowned and garlanded I rejoiced exceedingly, coming outthrough the gate of the East, the Beautiful gate, unto the Land of Khemi,and the city of Thebai, and the temple that had been the temple of theVeiled One. There I rejoined my body, making the magical links in the prescribedmanner, and rose up and did adoration to the Osiris by the fourfold sign.Therefore the Light of Osiris began to dawn; it
went about the city whirling forth, abounding, cryingaloud; whereat the people worshipped, being abased with exceeding fear.Moreover, they hearkened unto their wise men and brought gifts of gold,so that the temple floor was heaped high; and gifts of oxen, so that thecourts of the temple could not contain them: and gifts of slaves, as itwere a mighty army. Then I withdrew myself; and taking counsel with thewisest of the priests and of the architects and of the sculptors, I gaveout my orders so that the temple might duly be builded. By the favour ofthe god all
things went smoothly enough; yet was I conscious of someerror in the working; or if you will, some weakness in myself and my desire.Look you, I could not forget the Veiled One, my days of silence and solitudewith Her, the slow dawn of our splendid passion, the climax of all thatwonder in her ruin! So as the day approached for the consecration of thetemple I began to dread some great catastrophe. Yet all went well -- perhapstoo well. {322} The priests and the people knew nothing of this, however.For the god manifested exceptional favour;
as a new god must do, or how shall he establish his position?The harvest were fourfold, the cattle eightfold; the women were all fertile-- yea! barren women of sixty years bore twins! -- there was no diseaseor sorrow in the city. Mighty was the concourse of the citizens on thegreat day of the consecration. Splendid rose the temple, a fortress ofblack granite. The columns were carved with wonderful images of all thegods adoring Osiris; marvels of painting glittered on the walls; they toldthe story of Osiris, of his birth, his life, his death at the hands ofTyphon, the search after his scattered members, the birth of Horus andHarpocrates, the vengeance upon Typhon Seth, the resurrection of Osiris.The god himself was seated in a throne set back unto the wall. It was oflapis-lazuli and amber, it was
inlaid with emerald and ruby. Mirrors of polished gold,of gold burnished with dried poison of asps, so that the slaves who workedupon it might die. For, it being unlawful for those mirrors to have everreflected any mortal countenance, the slaves were both blinded and veiled;yet even so, it were best that they should die.
At last the ceremony began. With splendid words, withwords that shone like flames, did I consecrate all that were there present,even the whole city of Thebai.
And I made the salutation unto the attendant gods, veryforcibly, so that they responded with echoes of my adoration. And Osirisaccepted mine adoration with gladness as I journeyed about at the fourquarters of the temple. {323} Now cometh the mysterious ceremony of Assumption.I took upon myself the form of the god: I strove to put my heart in harmonywith his. Alas! alas! I was in tune with the dead soul of Isis; my heartwas as a flame of elemental lust and beauty; I could not -- I could not.Then the heavens lowered and black clouds gathered upon the
Firmament of Nu. Dark flames of lightning rent the clouds,giving no light. The thunder roared; the people were afraid. In his darkshrine the Osiris gloomed, displeasure on his forehead, insulted majestyin his eyes. Then a pillar of dust whirled down from the vault of heaven,even unto me as I stood alone, half-
defiant, in the midst of the temple while the priestsand the people cowered and wailed afar off. It rent the massy roof as ithad been a thatch of straw, whirling the blocks of granite far away intothe Nile. It descended, roaring and twisting, like a wounded serpent demon-kingin his death-agony; it struck me and lifted me from the temple; it boreme through leagues of air into the desert; then it dissolved and flungme contemptuously on a hill of sand. Breathless and dazed I lay, angerand anguish tearing at my heart. I rose to swear a mighty curse; exhaustiontook me, and I fell in a swoon to the earth. When I came to myself it wasnigh dawn. I went to the top of the hillock and looked about me. Nothingbut sand, sand all ways. Just so was it within my heart! The only guidefor my steps (as the sun rose) was a greener glimpse in the East, whichI thought might be the valley of the Nile reflected. Thither I bent mysteps: all day I struggled with the scorching heat, the
shifting sand. At night I tried to sleep, for sheer fatigueimpelled me. But as often as I lay {324} down, so often restlessness impelledme forward. I would stagger on awhile, then stumble and fall. Only at dawnI slept perhaps for an hour, and woke chilled to death by my own sweat.I was so weak that I could hardly raise a hand; my tongue was swollen,so that I could not greet the sun-disk with the accustomed
adoration. My brain had slipped control; I could no longereven think of the proper spells that might have brought me aid. Instead,dreadful shapes drew near; one, a hideous camel-demon, an obscene bruteof filth; another, a black ape with a blue muzzle and crimson buttocks,all his skin hairless and scabby, with his mass of mane oiled and trimmedlike a beautiful courtesan's. This fellow mocked me with the alluring gesturesof such an one, and anon voided his excrement upon me. Moreover there wereothers, menacing and terrible, vast cloudy demon-shapes. ...
I could not think of the words of power that controlthem. Now the sun that warmed my chill bones yet scorched me further. Mytongue so swelled that I could
hardly breathe; my face blackened; my eyes bulged out.The fiends came closer; drew strength from my weakness, made themselvesmaterial bodies, twitched me and spiked me and bit me. I turned on themand struck feebly again and again; but they evaded me easily and theiryelling laughter rang like hell's in my ears. Howbeit I saw that they attackedme only on one side, as if to force me to one path. But I was wise enoughto keep my shadow steadily behind me: and they, seeing this, were all themore enraged: I therefore the more obstinate in my course. Then they changedtheir tactics; and made as if to keep me in the course I had chosen; andseeing this, I was confirmed therein. {325} Truly with the gods I went!for in a little while I came to a pool of water and a tall palm standingby. I plunged in that cool wave; my strength came back, albeit slowly;yet with one wave of my hand in the due gesture the fiends all vanished;and in an hour I was sufficiently restored to call forth my friends fromthe pool -- the little fishes my playmates -- and the nymph of the poolcame forth and bowed herself before me and cooked me the fishes with thatfire that renders water luminous and sparkling. Also she plucked
me dates from the tree, and I ate thereof. Thus was Imuch comforted; and when I had eaten, she took my head upon her lap, andsang me to sleep; for her voice was like the ripple of the lakes underthe wind of spring and like the bubbling of a well and like the tinklingof a fountain through a bed of moss. Also she had deep notes like the seathat booms upon a rocky shore. So long, long, long I slept. Now when Iawoke the nymph had gone; but I took from my bosom a little casket of certainsacred herbs; and casting a few grains into the pool, repaid her for hercourtesy. And I blessed her in the name of our dead lady Isis, and wenton in the strength of that delicious meal for a great way. Yet I wist notwhat to do; for I was as it were a dead man, although my age was barelytwo and twenty years. What indeed should befall me? Yet I went on; and,climbing a ridge, beheld at last the broad Nile, and a shining city thatI knew not. There on the ridge I stood and gave thanks to the great godsof Heaven, the Aeons of infinite years, that I had come thus far. For atthe sight of Nilus new life began to dawn in me. {326}


WITHOUT any long delay I descended the slopes and enteredthe city. Not  knowing what might have taken place in Thebai and whatnews might have come thither, I did not dare declare myself; but seekingout the High Priest of Horus I showed him a certain sign, telling him thatI was come from Memphis on a
journey, and intended to visit Thebai to pay homage atthe shrine of Isis. But he, full of the news, told me that the ancientpriestess of Isis, who had become priest of Osiris, had been taken up toheaven as a sign of the signal favour of the God. Whereat I could hardlyhold myself from laughter; yet I controlled myself
and answered that I was not prepared to return to Memphis,for that I was vowed to Isis, and Osiris could not serve my turn. At thishe begged me to stay as his guest, and to go worship at the temple of Isisin this city. I agreed thereto, and the good man gave me new robes andjewels from the treasury of his own temple. There too I rested sweetlyon soft cushions fanned by young boys with broad leaves of palm. Also hesent me the dancing girl of Sleep. It was the art of this girl to weavesuch subtle movements that the sense, watching her, swooned; and as sheswayed she sang, ever lower and lower as she moved slower and slower, until
the looker-listener was dissolved in bliss of sleep anddelicate dream. {327}
Then as he slept she would bend over him even as Nuitthe Lady of the Stars that bendeth over the black earth, and in his earsshe would whisper strange rhythms, secret utterances, whereby his spiritwould be rapt into the realms of Hathor or some other golden goddess, therein one night to reap an harvest of refreshment such as the fields of mortalsleep yield never. So then I woke at dawn, to find her still watching,still looking into my eyes with a tender smile on her mouth that cooedwhispers infinitely soothing. Indeed with a soft kiss she waked me, forin this Art there is a right moment to sleep, and another to waken: whichshe was well skilled to divine. I rose then -- she flitted away like abird -- and robed myself; and, seeking my host, went forth with him tothe Temple of Isis. Now their ritual (it appeared) differed in one pointfrom that to which I was accustomed. Thus, it was
not death to intrude upon the ceremony save only forthe profane. Priests of a certain rank of initiation might if they pleasedbehold it. I, therefore, wishing to see again that marvellous glowing ofthe Veil, disclosed a sufficient sign to the High Priest. Thereat was hemightily amazed; and, from the foot judging Hercules, began to think thatI might be some sacred envoy or inspector from the Gods themselves. ThisI allowed him to think; meanwhile we went forward into the shrines andstood behind the pillars, unseen, in the prescribed position. Now it chancedthat the High Priestess herself had this day chosen to perform the rite.This was a woman tall and black, most majestic, with {328} limbs strongas a man's. Her gaze was
hawk-keen, and her brow commanding. But at the Assumptionof the God-form she went close and whispered into the Veil, so low thatwe could not hear it; but as it seemed with fierce intensity, with somepassion that knotted up her muscles, so that her arms writhed like woundedsnakes. Also the veins of her forehead swelled, and foam came to her lips.We thought that she had died; her body swelled and
shuddered; last of all a terrible cry burst from herthroat, inarticulate, awful.
Yet all this while the Veil glittered, though somethingsombrely. Also the air was filled with a wild sweeping music, which rentour very ears with its uncouth magic. For it was like no music that I hadever heard before. At last the Priestess tore herself away from the Veiland reeled -- as one drunken -- down the temple. Sighs and sobs tore herbreast; and her nails made bloody grooves in her wet flanks.
On a sudden she espied me and my companion; with onebuffet she smote him to earth -- it is unlawful to resist the Priestesswhen she is in the Ecstasy of Union -- and falling upon me, like a wildbeast she buried her teeth in my neck, bearing me to the ground. Then,loosing me, while the blood streamed from me, she fixed her glitteringeyes upon it with strange joy, and with her hands she shook me as a lion
shakes a buck. Sinewy were her hands, with big knuckles,and the strength of her was as cords of iron. Yet her might was but a mortal's;in a little she gave one gasp like a drowning man's; her body slackened,and fell with its dead weight on mine, her mouth glued to mine in one dreadfulkiss. Dreadful; for as my mouth returned it, almost mechanically, the bloodgushed from her nostrils and blinded me. I too, then, more {329} dead thanalive, swooned into bliss, into trance. I was awakened by the High Priestof Horus. "Come," he said; "she is dead." I disengaged myself from allthat weight of madness -- and the body writhed convulsively as I turnedit over -- I kissed those frothy lips, for in death she was beautiful beyondbelief, joyous beyond description -- thence I staggered to the Veil, andsaluted with all my strength, so that it glittered under the force of mysheer will. Then I turned me again, and with the High Priest sought hishouse. Strange indeed was I as I went through the city, my new robes darkwith blood of that most holy sorceress. But no one of the people daredso much as lift his eyes; nor spoke we together at all. But when we werecome into the house of the High Priest, sternly did he confront me.
"What is this, my son?" And I weary of the folly of theworld and of theuselessness of things answered him:
"Father, I go back to Memphis. I am the Magus of theWell."
Now he knew the Magus, and answered me:
"Why liest thou?"
And I said "I am come into the world where all speechis false, and all speech is true."
Then he did me reverence, abasing himself unto the groundeven unto nine-and-  ninety times. And I spurned him and said,
"Bring forth the dancing girl of Sleep; for in the morningI will away to Memphis." And she came forth, and I cursed her and cried:
"Be thou the dancing girl of Love!"
And it was so. And I went in unto her, and knew her;{330} and in the morning I girded myself, and boarded the state barge ofthe High Priest, and pillowed myself upon gold and purple, and disportedmyself with lutes and with lyres and with parrots, and with black slaves,and with wine and with delicious fruits, until I came even unto the holycity of Memphis. And there I called soldiers of Pharaoh, and put cruellyto death all them that had accompanied me; and I burnt the barge, adriftupon the Nile at sunset, so that the flames alarmed the foolish citizens.All this I did, and danced naked in my madness through the city, untilI came to the Old Magus of the Well. And laughing, I threw a stone uponhim, crying: "Ree me the riddle of my life!" And he answered naught. ThenI threw a great rock upon him, and I heard his bones crunch, and I criedin mockery: "Ree me the riddle of "thy" life!" But he answered naught.Then I threw down the wall of the well; and I burned the house with firethat stood thereby, with the men-servants and the maid-servants. And nonedared stay me; for I laughed and exulted in my madness. Yea, verily, Ilaughed, and laughed -- and laughed --- {331}


THEN being healed of my madness I took all the treasureof that old Magus which he had laid up for many years -- and none gainsaidme. Great and splendid was it of gold more than twelve bullocks could draw,of balassius rubies, and sardonyx, and beryl, and chrysoprase; of diamondand starry sapphire, of emerald much, very much, of topaz and of amethystgreat and wonderful gems. Also he had a figure of
Nuit greater than a woman, which was made of lapis lazulispecked with gold, carved with marvellous excellence. And he had the secretgem of Hadit that is not found on earth, for that it is invisible savewhen all else is no more seen. Then went I into the market and bought slaves.I bought me in particular a giant, a Nubian blacker than polished graniteseen by starlight, tall as a young palm and straight, yet more hideousthan the Ape of Thoth. Also I bought a young pale stripling from the North,a silly boy with idle languishing ways. But his mouth burned like sunsetwhen the dust-storms blow. So pale an weak was he that all despised him
and mocked him for a girl. Then he took a white-hot ironfrom the fire and wrote with it my name in hieroglyphics on his breast;nor did his smile once alter while the flesh hissed and smoked. Thus wewent out a great caravan to a rocky islet in the {332} Nile, difficultof access for that the waters foamed and swirled dangerously about it.There we builded a little temple shaped like a beehive; but there was noaltar and no shrine therein; for in that temple should the god be sacrificedunto himself. Myself I made the god thereof; I powdered my hair with gold,and inwound it with flowers. I gilded my eyelids, and I stained my lipswith vermilion. I gilded my breasts and my nails, and as God and Victimin one was I daily sacrificed unto that strange thing that was none otherthan myself. I made my giant Nubian high priest; and I endowed his wandwith magic power, so that he might properly perform my rites. This he didto such purpose that many men from Memphis and even from more distant towns,leaving their gods, came thither, and did sacrifice. Then I appointed alsothe pale boy warder of the Sanctuary: and he swore unto me to be faithfulunto death. Now there arose a great strife in Memphis, and many foolishand lewd women cried out against us. So fierce was the uproar that a greatcompany of women issued forth from the city and came into the island. Theyslew my pale boy at the gate, though sword in hand he fought against them.Then they frothed on, and I confronted them in my glory. They hesitated,and in that moment I smote them with a deadly itching, so that runningforth they tore off their clothes and set themselves to scratching, whilemy people laughed until they ached. At the term, indeed, with exhaustionand with loss of blood they died all; four hundred and two women perishedin that great day's slaughter. So that the people of Memphis had peacefor awhile. {333} But as for me, I mourned the loss of that young slave.I had his body embalmed as is not fitting for other than a king. And atthe door of the temple I placed his sarcophagus beneath a hedge of knivesand spears, so that there was no other access to my glory. Like honourhath no slave had ever.
Thus then I abode three cycles of the season; and atthe end of that time the high Priest died. For mine was a strange and dreadfulrite to do; none other, and none unfortified by magic power, could havedone this thing. Yet I too sickened of that everlasting sacrifice. I wasbecome worn and wan; there was no blood but ice
in my veins. I had indeed become all but a god ... ThereforeI took the body of my Nubian, and slew four young girls, and filled allthe hollow spaces of his body with their blood. Then too I sealed up hisbody with eight seals; and the ninth seal was mine own, the centre of mygodhead. Then he rose slowly and staggeringly as I uttered the dreadfulwords:

A ka dua
Tuf ur biu
Bi aa chefu
Dudu ner af an nuteru!

Then I touched him with my wand and he rose into fullpower of his being; and we entered in, and for the last time did he preform(though silent) the ceremony. At whose end he lay shrivelled and collapsed,shrunken like an old wineskin; yet his blood availed me nothing. I wasicier than before. Yet now indeed was I Osiris, for I sent out flames {334}of cold gray glory from my skin, and mine eyes were rigid with ecstasy.Yea, by Osiris himself, I swear it! Even as the eyes of all living menrevolve ceaselessly, so were mine fixed! Then I shook myself and went forthinto the city of Memphis, my face being veiled and my steps led by slaves.And there I went into the temples one by one; and I twitched aside my veil,whereat all men fell dead on the instant, and the gods tumbled from theirplaces, and broke in pieces upon the floor. And I veiled myself, and wentinto the market-place and lifted up my voice in a chant and cried:

Death, and desolation, and despair!
I lift up my voice, and all the gods are dumb.
I unveil my face, and all that liveth is no more,
I sniff up life, and breathe forth destruction.
I hear the music of the world, and its echo is Silence.

Death, and desolation, and despair!
The parting of the ways is come: the Equinox of the Godsis past.
Another day: another way.
Let them that hear me be abased before me!
Death, and desolation, and despair!

Then I pulled away my veil, and the cold lightnings ofdeath shot forth, and the people of the city fell dead where they stood.
Save only one, a young boy, a flute-player, that wasblind, and, seeing not those eyes of mine, died not.
Then to him I spake, saying:
"Arise, summon the priests and the people, all that remain.And let them build a temple unto Osiris the God of the dead, and let thedead be worshipped for ever and ever." {335} This I said, and went outfrom the city with the two slaves that I had left in the gate, and we wentunto Nile, unto a cave by the bank of the river; and there I abode formany months, weeping for Isis my Lady. For though I had avenged her inmany dreadful deeds, yet I brought her not back unto life. Moreover thelove of her was as it were dead in me, so that my heart stirred not atthe thought of her. Say that my love wandered like a ghost unburied, frozen,adrift upon the winds! Now of my deeds at this period it is almost toohorrible to tell. For I performed great penance, in the hope of vitalizingthat dead principle in me which men call the soul. I starved myself shamefully,in this manner. First surrounding myself with all possible luxuries offood, brought in steaming and savoury from hour to hour, I yet condemnedmyself to subsist upon a little garlic and a little salt, with a littlewater in which oats had been bruised. Then if any wish arose in me to eatof the dainties around me I gashed myself with a sharp stone. MoreoverI kindled a great fire in the cave so that the slaves stumbled and faintedas they approached. And the smoke choked me so that I constantly vomiteda black and ill-smelling mucus from my lungs, stained here and there withfrothing blood.
Again, I suffered my hair to grow exceeding long, andtherein I harboured vermin. Also, when I lay down to sleep, though thisI did not till with swollen tongue and blackened throat I could no longerhowl the name of my dead Lady, then (I say) did I smear my limbs with honey,that the rats of the cave might gnaw them as I slept. Moreover, I pillowed{336} mine head upon a corpse dead of leprosy, and
whenever that dead soul of mine stirred at all with lovetoward my Lady, then I caressed and kissed that corpse, and sang soft songsto it, playing with gracious words and gestures. All this spoke loudlyto my soul, rebuking it for its weakness and corruption. So too the bitternessand foulness of my life would often
overleap the limit of sensibility; and then for hourstogether would I be lost in a raging whirlwind of laughter. At this timemy slaves would be afraid to come anigh me, and then darting out of thecave I would catch one by the hair and dragging him within put him to exquisitetorture. This indeed was of great use to me; for I would devise atrociousthings, and if they served to excite his utmost anguish I
would then try them on myself. Thus I would run needlessteeped in Nile mud beneath my finger-vails, so that the sores festeringmight produce a sickening agony. Or again I would cut strips of skin andtear them off; but this failed, though it acted well enough upon the slave,for my own skin had become too brittle. Then I would take a piece of hardwood, and hammer it with a stone against the bones, hurting the membranethat covers them, and causing it to swell. This too I had to abandon, forthe limb of the slave died, and he swelled up and rotted and turned green,and in shocking agony he died. So then I was compelled to cure myself magically,and this was a great loss of force. Yet was I "Far from the Happy Ones,"although my lips hung on my fleshless face like bean-pods withered andblackened, and although there was not one inch of skin upon all my bodythat was not scarred. {337} Yet my trial was nigh its end. For the peopleof Memphis, wondering at the frequent purchases of dead lepers made alwaysby the same slave, began, as is the wont of the ignorant, to spread foolishrumours. At last they said openly "there is an holy hermit in the old caveby Nile." Then the barren women of the city came out stealthily to me inthe hope that by my sanctity their dry sticks might blossom. But I showedthem my dead leper, and said "Let me first beget children upon this, andafter I will do your business." This liked them not; yet they left me notalone, for they went home and cried out that I was an horror, a ghoul,a vampire. ... And at that all the young and beautiful women of the city,leaving their lovers and their husbands, flocked to me, bringing gifts.But I took them to the dead leper and said,
"When you are beautiful as that is beautiful, and whenI am weary of its beauty and its delight, then will I do your pleasure."Then they all raged vehemently against me, and stirred up the men of thecity to destroy me. And I, not being minded to display my magic force,went by night (so soon as I heard of this) and took sanctuary in the shrineof Osiris that I had caused them to build. And there I attained felicity;for uniting my consciousness with the god's, I obtained the expansion ofthat consciousness. Is not the kingdom of the dead a mighty kingdom?
So I perceived the universe as it were a single pointof infinite nothingness yet of infinite extension; and becoming this universe,I became dissolved utterly therein. Moreover, my body lifted itself upand rose in the air to a great height beyond the shadow of the earth, andthe earth rolled beneath {338} me; yet of all this I knew nothing, forthat I was all these things and none of them. Moreover I was united withIsis the Mother of Osiris, being yet her brother and her lord. Woe, woeto me! for all this was but partial and imperfect; nor did I truly understandthat which
occurred. Only this I knew, that I should return to mycity of Thebai, and rule therein as High Priest of Osiris, no longer strivingto some end unheard-of or impossible, but quietly and patiently livingin the enjoyment of my dignities and wealth, even as a man. Yet one thingI saw also, that as Isis is the Lady of all Nature, the living; and asOsiris is the Lord of the Dead, so should Horus come, the Hawk-headed Lord,as a young child, the image of all Nature and all Man raised above Lifeand Death, under the supreme rule of Hadit that is Force and of Nuit thatis Matter -- though they are a Matter and a Force that transcend all ourhuman conceptions of these things. But of this more anon, in its due place.{339}


BEHOLD me then returned to Thebai! So scarred and alteredwas I, though not yet thirty years of age, that they knew me not. So Ioffered myself as a serving-man in the temple of Osiris, and I pleasedthe priests mightily, for by my magic power -- though they thought it tobe natural -- I sang songs unto the god, and made hymns. Therefore in lessthan a year they began to speak of initiating me into the
priesthood. Now the High Priest at this time was a youngand vigorous man, black-bearded in the fashion of Osiris, with a singlesquare tuft beneath the chin. Him had they chosen after my departure inthe whirlwind. And the High Priestess was a woman of forty and two yearsold, both dark and beautiful, with flashing eyes and stern lips. Yet herbody was slim and lithe like that of a young girl. Now, as it chanced,it was my turn to serve her with the funeral offerings; flesh of oxen andof geese, bread, and wine. And as she ate she spake with me; for she couldsee by her art that I was not a common serving-man. Then I took out theconsecrated Wand of Khem that I had from my father; and I placed it inher hand. At that she
wondered, for that Wand is the sign of a great and holyinitiation: so rare that (as they say) no woman but one has ever attainedunto it. Then she blessed herself that she had been permitted to look uponit, and prayed me to keep silence {340} for a little while, for she hadsomewhat in her mind to do. And I lifted up the wand upon her in the nine-and-forty-foldbenediction, and she received illumination thereof, and rejoiced. ThenI fell at her feet -- for she was the High Priestess -- and kissed themreverently, and withdrew.Then three days afterwards, as I learnt, she sentfor a priestess who was skilled in certain deadly craftsand asked of hera poison. And she gave it, saying: "Let the High Priest of the God of thedead go down to the dead!" Then that wicked High Priestess conveyed untohim subtly the poison in the sacraments themselves, and he died thereof.Then by her subtlety she caused a certain youth to be made high priestwho was slovenly and stupid, thinking in herself "Surely the god will rejecthim." But at his word the Image of the god glowed as was its wont. Andat that she knew -- and we all knew -- that the glory was departed; forthat the priests had supplanted the right ceremony by some trick of deceitand craft.Thereat was she mightily cast down, for though wicked and ambitious,she had yet much power and knowledge. But instead of using that power andthat knowledge she sought to oppose craft with craft. And suspecting (aright)whose cunning had done this thing she bribed him to reverse the machinery,so that
the High Priest might be shamed. But shamed he was not;for he lied, saying that the God glowed brighter than the Sun; and he liedsecurely, for Maat the Lady of Truth had no place in that temple. To suchfoulness was all fallen by my first failure to assume the god-form, andtheir priestly falsehood that my sanctity had rapt me into heaven. Norhad the wealth they lied to obtain availed them {341} aught; for Pharaohhad descended upon Thebai, and laid heavy hand upon the coffers of thetemple, so that they were poor. Even, they sold good auguries for gold;and these were a very destruction to them that bought. Then they sold curses,and sowed discord in the city. Wherefore the people grew poorer still,and their
gifts to the temple waxed even less. For there is nofoolishness like the hunger after gain. Of old the gods had given blessing,and the people offered freely of their plenty. Now the priests sowed chaff,and reaped but barrenness. So I waited patiently in silence to see whatmight befall. And this foolish priestess could think of no better expedientthan formerly. But this young stupid man had guessed how his predecessorwas dead, and he touched not the sacraments; but feigned. Then she calledfor me -- and I was now ordained priest -- to take counsel of me; for shewas minded to put me in his place. Thus she made a great banquet for me;and when we were well drunken she laid her head upon my breast and saidmarvellous things to me of love, to me, who had loved the Veiled One! ButI feigned all the madness of passion and made her drunk thereon, so thatshe talked great words, frothing forth like dead fishes swollen in thesun, of how we should rule Thebai and (it might be) displace Pharaoh andtake his throne and sceptre. Yet, foolish woman! she could not think howshe might remove this stupid high priest, her own nominee! So I answeredher "Assume the Form of Osiris, and all will be well in the Temple of Osiris."Mocking her, for I knew {342} that she could not. Yet so drunken was sheupon love and wine that there and then she performed the ritual of Adorationand Assumption. Then I in merry mood put out my power, and caused her intruth to become Osiris, so that she went icy stark, and her eyes fixed.... Then she tried to shriek with fear, and could not; for I had put uponher the silence of the tomb.
But all the while I feigned wonder and applause, so thatshe was utterly deceived. And being tired of mocking her, I bade her return.This she did, and knew not what to say. At first she pretended to havereceived a great secret; then, knowing how much higher was my grade initiation,dared not. Then, at last, being frightened, she flung herself at my feetand confessed all, pleading that at least her love for me was
true. This may well have been; in any case I would havehad compassion upon her, for in sooth her body was like a flower, whiteand pure, though her mouth was heavy and strong, her eyes wrinkled withlust, and her cheeks flaccid with deceit.
So I comforted her, pressing her soft body in mine arms,drinking the wine of her eyes, feeding upon the honey of her mouth. Thenat last I counselled her that she should bid him to a secret banquet, andthat I should serve them, disguised in my old dress as a serving-man. Onthe next night after this he came, and I served them, and she made openlove (though feigned) to him. Yet subtly, so that he thought her the deerand himself the lion. Then at last he went clean mad, and said: "I willgive thee what thou {343} wilt for one kiss of that thy marvellous mouth."Then she
made him swear the oath by Pharaoh -- the which if hebroke Pharaoh would have his head -- and she kissed him once, as if herpassion were like the passion of Nile in flood for the sandy bars thatit devoureth, and then leaping up, answered him, "give me thine officeof High Priest for this my lover!" With that she took and fondled me. Hegaped, aghast; then he took off the ring of office and flung it at
her feet; he spat one word in her face; he slunk away.But I, picking up the ring of office, cried after him: "What shall be doneto who insulteth the High Priestess?"
And he turned and answered sullenly: "I was the HighPriest." "Thou hadst no longer the ring!" she raged at him, her face whitewith fury, her mouth dripping the foam of her anger -- for the word wasa vile word! ... Then she smote upon the bell, and the guard appeared.At her order they brought the instruments of
death, and summoned the executioner, and left us there.Then the executioner bound him to the wheel of iron by his ankles and hiswaist and his throat; and he cut off his eyelids, that he might look uponhis death. Then with his shears he cut off the lips from him, saying, "Withthese lips didst thou blaspheme the Holy One, the Bride of Osiris." Thenone by one he wrenched out the teeth of him, saying every time: "With thistooth didst thou frame a blasphemy against the Holy One, the Bride of Osiris."Then he pulled out the tongue with his pincers, saying: "With this tonguedidst thou speak blasphemy against the Holy One, the Bride of Osiris."Then took he a strong corrosive acid and blistered his throat therewith,saying:
"From this throat didst thou blaspheme the Holy One,{344} the Bride of Osiris." Then he took a rod of steel, white-hot, andburnt away his secret parts, saying: "Be thou put to shame, who hast blasphemedthe Holy One, the Bride of Osiris." After that, he took a young jackaland gave it to eat at his liver, saying: "Let the beasts that devour carriondevour the liver that lifted itself up to blaspheme the Holy One, the Brideof Osiris!" With that the wretch died, and they exposed his body in theditch of the city, and the dogs devoured it. Now all this while had mylady dallied amorously with me, making such sweet moan of love as neverwas, yet her face fixed upon his eyes who loved her, and there glared inhell's torment, the body ever
striving against the soul which should exceed. And, asI judge, but the favour of Set the soul gat mastery therein. Also, thoughI write it now, coldly, these many thousand years afterward, never hadI such joy of love of any woman as with her, and at that hour, so thatas I write it I remember well across the mist of time
every honey word she spoke, every witching kiss (ourmouths strained sideways) that she sucked from my fainting lips, everyshudder of her soft strong body. I remember the jewelled coils of hair,how they stung like adders as they touched me; the sharp rapture of herpointed nails pressing me, now velvet-soft, now
capricious-cruel, now (love-maddened) thrust deep todraw blood, as they played up and down my spine. But I saw nothing; byOsiris I swear it! I saw nothing, save only the glare in the eyes of thatlost soul that writhed upon the wheel. Indeed, as the hangman took outthe corpse, we fell back {345} and lay there among the waste of the banquet,the flagons overturned, the napery awry, the lamps extinct or spilt, thegolden cups, chased with obscene images, thrown here and there, the meatshanging over the edge of their bejewelled dishes, their juice stainingthe white luxury of the linen; and in the midst ourselves, our limbs ascareless as the wind,
motionless. One would have said: the end of the worldis come. But through all that fiery abyss of sleep wherein I was plungedso deep, still stirred the cool delight of the knowledge that I had wonthe hand for which I played, that I was High Priest of Osiris in Thebai.But in the morning we rose and loathed each other, our mouths awry, ourtongues hanging loose from their corners like thirsty dogs, our eyes blinkingin agony from the torture of daylight, our limbs sticky with stale sweat.
Therefore we rose and saluted each other in the dignityof our high offices; and we departed one from the other, and purified ourselves.Then I went unto the Ceremony of Osiris, and for the last time the shamefulfarce was played. But in my heart I vowed secretly to cleanse the templeof its chicanery and folly. Therefore at the end of the ceremony did Iperform a mighty banishing, a banishing of all things mortal and immortal,even from Nuit that circleth infinite Space unto Hadit the Core of Things;from Amoun that ruleth before all the Gods unto Python the terrible Serpentthat abideth at the end of things, from Ptah the god of the pure soul
of aethyr unto Besz the brute force of that which isgrosser than earth, which hath no name, which is denser than {346} leadand more rigid than steel; which is blacker than the thick darkness ofthe abyss, yet is within all and about all.
Amen! Then during the day I took counsel with myself,and devised a cunning to match the cunning of them that had blasphemedOsiris, who had at last become my God. Yea! bitterly would I avenge himon the morrow. {347}


NOW this was the manner of my working, that I inspiredthe High Priestess to an Oracle, so that she prophesied, saying that Osirisshould never be content with his servants unless they had passed the fourordeals of the elements. Now of old these rituals had been reserved fora special grade of initiation. The chapter was therefore not a little alarmed,until they remembered how shamefully all the true magic was
imitated, so that the rumour went that this was but adevice of the High Priestess to increase the reputation of the temple forsanctity. And, their folly confirming them in this, they agreed cheerfullyand boasted themselves. Now then did I swathe them one by one in the grave-clothesof Osiris, binding upon the breast and image, truly consecrated, of thegod, with a talisman against the four elements. Then I set them one byone upon a narrow and lofty tower, balanced, so that the least breath ofwind would blow them off into destruction.Those whom the air spared I nextthrew into Nile where most it foams and races. Only a few the water gaveback again. These, however, did I bury for three days in the earth withoutsepulchre or coffin, so that the element of earth might combat them. Andthe rare ones whom earth spared I cast upon a fire of charcoal. {348} Nowwho is prepared for these ordeals (being firstly attuned to the elements)findeth them easy. He remains still, though the tempest rage upon the tower;in the water he floats easily and lightly; buried, he
but throws himself into trance; and, lastly, his wrappingsprotect him against the fire, though all Thebai went to feed the blaze.But it was not so with this bastard priesthood of Osiris. For of the threehundred only nine were found worthy. The High Priestess, however, I broughtthrough by my magic, for she had amused me mightily, and I took great pleasurein her love, that was wilder than the rage of all the elements in one.So I called together the nine who had survived, all being men, and gavethem instruction and counsel, that they should form a secret brotherhoodto learn and to teach the formula of the Osiris in its supreme functionof initiating the human soul. That they should keep discipline in the templeonly for the sake of
the people, permitting every corruption yet withdrawingthemselves from it. Is not the body perishable, and the skin most pure?So also the ancient practice of embalming should fall into desuetude, andthat soon; for the world was past under the rule of Osiris, who loveththe charnel and the tomb.All being sworn duly into this secret brotherhoodI appointed them, one to preside over each grade, and
him of the lowest grade to select the candidates andto govern the temple. Then did I perform the invoking Ceremony of Osiris,having destroyed the blasphemous machinery; and now at last did the Godanswer me, glittering with infinite brilliance. {349} Then I disclosedmyself to the Priests, and they rejoiced exceedingly that after all thoseyears the old lie was abolished, and the master come back to his own.
But the god uttered an Oracle, saying: "This last timeshall I glitter with brilliance in My temple; for I am the god of Lifein Death, concealed. Therefore shall your magic henceforth be a magic mostsecret in the heart; and whoso shall perform openly any miracle, him shallye know for a liar and a pretender to the sacred Wisdom. "For this causeam I wrapped ever in a shroud of white starred with the three active colours;these things conceal Me, so that he who knoweth Me hath passed beyond them."Then did the god call us each separately to him, and in each ear did hewhisper a secret formula and a word of power, pertaining to the grade towhich I had appointed him. But to me he gave the supreme formula and thesupreme word, the word that hath eight-and-seventy letters, the formulathat hath five-and-sixty limbs. So then I devoted myself there and thento a completer understanding of Osiris my God, so that I might discoverhis function in the whole course of the Cosmos. For he that is born inthe years of the power of a God thinketh that God to be eternal, one, alone.But he that is born in the hour of the weakness of the God, at the deathof one and the birth of the other, seeth
something (though it be little) of the course of things.And for him it is necessary to understand fully that change of office (forthe gods neither die nor are re-born, but now one initiates and the otherguards, and now one heralds and the other sanctifies) its purpose and meaningin the whole scheme of things. {350}
So I, in this year V of the Equinox of the Gods (1908)wherein Horus took the place of Osiris, will by the light of this my magicalmemory seek to understand fully the formula of Horus -- Ra Hoor Khuit --my god, that ruleth the world under Nuit and Hadit. Then as Ankh-f-na-khonsuleft unto me the "stele" 666 with the keys to that knowledge, so also mayI write down in hieroglyph the formula of the Lady of the Forked Wand andof the Feather, that shall assume his throne and place when the strengthof Horus is exhausted. So now the service of the Gods was to be secretand their magic concealed from men. They were to fall before the eyes ofmen from their place, and little sewer-rats were to come and mock at them,no man
avenging them, and they utterly careless, not strikingfor themselves. Yet was there knowledge of them which an initiate mightgain, though so much more difficult, immeasurably higher and more intimate.My life from this moment became highly concentrated upon itself. I hadno time either for ascetic practices or for any pleasures; nor would Itake any active part in the service of the temple which, purified and regenerated,had become both subtly perfect and perfectly subtle.
It was not all of the people who did at all comprehendthe change that had occurred; but the others obeyed and made believe tounderstand, lest their fellows should despise them. So it happened thatthe more ignorant and stupid any person was the more he feigned understanding;so that the least devout appeared the most devout -- as it is unto thisday. But for me all these things were as nothing; for I studied ever thenature of Osiris, concentrating myself into mysterious pure symbols. Iunderstood why it was said that Isis had {351} failed to discover the
Phallus of Osiris, and thus perceived the necessity ofHorus to follow him in the great succession of the Equinoxes. MoreoverI fashioned talismans of pure light concerning Osiris, and I performedin light all the ceremonies of initiation into his mysteries. These wereinterpreted by wise men and translated into the language of the twilightand graven on stone and in the memories of men. Yet was I even more intriguedin that great struggle to apprehend the course of things, as it is seenfrom
the standpoint of Destiny. So that I might leave trueand intelligible images to enlighten the mind of him (whether myself oranother) that should come after me to celebrate the Equinox of the Godsat the end of the period of Osiris. As now hath come to pass. Thus thenthree-and-thirty years I lived in the temple of Osiris a High Priest; andI subdued all men under me. Also I abolished the office of priestess, forhad not Isis failed to find that venerable Phallus without which Osirismust be so melancholy a god?<<WEH NOTE: The last Priestess of Amen-Raat Thebes was also the Priestess of Osiris at Abydos and of Isis and Horusat Panopolis. She was named Nesitanebtashru and lived circa 970 b.c.e.--- see Budge, "The Greenfield Papyrus in the British Museum.">> Thereforewas Khemi to fall, and the world to be dark and sorrowful for many years.ThereforeI made mine High Priestess into a serving-maid, and with veiled face sheserved me all those many years, never speaking. Yet they being accomplished,I thought fit to reward her. So magically I renewed about her the bodyof a young girl, and for a year she served me, unveiled and speaking ather pleasure. And her time being come, she died. Then I looked again intomy destiny, and perceived that {352} all my work was duly accomplished.Nor could any use or worth be found in my body. So therefore I determinedto accept my great reward, that was granted unto me as the faithful ministerof the god F.I.A.T. that is behind all manifestation of Will and of Intelligence,of whom Isis and Osiris and Horus are but the ministers. Of this, and ofmy death, I will speak on another occasion. But first I will discourseof the inhabitants of the kingdom that encircleth the world, so that theywho "fear" may be comforted.{353}


BUT of these matters I am warned that I shall not nowbecome aware, for that there be great mysteries therein contained, pertainingto a degree of initiation of which I am as yet unworthy.

("Thus the record comes abruptly to an end.")


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