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The Master Therion

A Biographical Note

What follows is strictly speaking more autobiographicalthan  biographical since it is attributed to Aleister Crowley. Thelate Gerald J. Yorke suggested that this paper could be identical withLiber 666--The Beast, which is otherwise not extant. One page of the originalEnglish typescript is lost; however, the text was recovered
through double-translation from the 1925 E.V. Germanpublication. It includes the full text of the ``Oath of the Abyss,'' andreaders are cautioned that this Oath is traditionally held to be absolutelyefficacious and hence not to be taken casually or lightly.--H.B.

SOME SIX MONTHS after the death of Eliphas Levi Zahed,in the Year
(1875 E.V.) of the foundation of the Theosophical Society,was born a male child. The sign Leo being in the ascendant at his nativity,he is here called by that name.

The family of Leo was both distinguished and prosperous;he received the best education available in the land of his birth.

In the beginning of the third year (1897 E.V.) of hisstudies at the University, he underwent what may be called the Trance ofSorrow. That is, he perceived the vanity of all earthly ambition.

This conviction so took hold of him that he renounced,then and there, his career, despite the brilliant promise which it wouldotherwise have afforded, and resolved firmly to devote himself withoutreserve to the Great Work. By this he meant, to find a medium in whicheffort might secure success immune to the assaults of Time and other conditionsof human existence. For his mind was yet young and  untaught.

His first reading of the literature of Alchemy and kindredsubjects, to which he now resorted, convinced him of the existence of aSecret Body of Initiates competent to aid him in his research.

He sent forth instinctively an intense current of Will,calling upon the Masters in such a Sanctuary to come to his assistance.

The call was immediately heard. Indeed, at the momentof its utterance (Easter 1898 E.V.) he was in the closest possible associationwith one of them, albeit this man so concealed his true nature that Leodid not discover the truth until three years later, when his need evokedthe aid of this Master.

In the summer of 1898 E.V., Leo travelling in the mountainsof Europe, fell in with a man who proved to be an eager student of Alchemy.He pursued this acquaintance, and exacted from him a promise to introducehim to a more advanced adept. The latter him introduced him into that organization,so that he obtained his first initiation on November 18, 1898 E.V.

In this Society Leo made rapid progress and attained earlyin 1899 E.V. the highest grade which its Chief was permitted to give. Withinone or two months of that event that Chief, who was but the visible representativeof Secret Chiefs, committed so grave a blunder, as a culmination of a seriesof blunders, that he lost Their confidence. The Outer Order which dependedon him dissolved at once in confusion.

Unfamiliar with the Inner workings of the Order, and realizinghis own inability to judge a matter beyond his knowledge, Leo remainedopenly loyal to the fallen Head; but as he felt instinctively that he couldnot learn any more from this source, he undertook a journey of three yearsto the remotest parts of the earth, searching incessantly for further enlightenment.

The Masters, who were watching him, sent out messengersfrom time to time, in order to teach him in many secret paths of enlightenment.In all these he attained the greatest success; it can be said that at his return to the country of his birth in 1903 E.V. he was the mos advancedadept (as distinguished from a Master) in the world. And yet he was sofar from accepting his progress with satisfaction, that he
formally and finally gave up the Great Work as insignificant.

And this too was the Plan of the Masters.

Having surrendered his True Will so far that he had married(August 1903 E.V.) and settled down to the life of an ordinary man, havingbuilt up a fortress of resentment against all spiritual assault, Leo hadbecome a fit instrument to carry out the inscrutable designs of the Masters.

At the end of a sporting expedition in Asia he stayedin Cairo for the Season with his young wife, a woman of neither instinctfor, nor interest in, any but the most frivolous of worldly amusements.

Now the Masters, the Secret Chiefs of the Order to whichhe owed his first initiation, are the directors of the spiritual destiniesof this planet. These men chose this woman (of all women) to carry TheirWill to the Aspirant who had renounced his aspiration.

Leo received their message with quiet mockery: he agreedto carry out the instructions conveyed by his wife in a spirit of irony,resolved to demonstrate to her the absurdity of her claim to be in communicationwith a praeter-human Intelligence.

The principal of these instructions was to shut himselfup in a certain room of his house for one hour daily for three days (April8-n-10, 1904 E.V.) that he might write what should then be given to him.

He was astonished beyond measure when, on the stroke ofthe appointed hour, he heard the accents of a human voice, speaking inEnglish (a language he understood sufficiently for the purpose) and continuinguntil the sixty minutes had exactly passed.

This occurred on the two succeeding days: the result isthe Manuscript
known as Liber AL vel Legis; or The Book of the Law.

Other communications were made at about this period bythe Secret Chiefs. They proved beyond all possibility of doubt to Leo,a firm sceptic accustomed to mathematical and scientific methods of criticism,their own existence, and their possession of power and knowledge far exceedinganything hereto conceived as human.

This proof, at least the major part of it, a portion ampleto establish the above thesis, is extant; it is contained implicitly inthe MS. of Liber AL itself, and is accessible at any time to any Aspirantto the Secret Wisdom.

It is in this book, also, that the Secret Chiefs conferredupon Leo the title of TO MEGA VHRION, with its corresponding number DCLXVI;as the Master Therion, therefore, let him henceforth be denoted. (It wasnot for many years that he became fit to assume this office in its fullscope; he did so on October 1915 E.V.)

They instructed him definitely to take over the rule andgovernance of the Order, assuming the place vacant by the fall of the originalChief; and to publish openly the whole of the secret knowledge in his possessionin such a form that it might survive the general catastrophe to the wholeof civilization, which They saw was imminent.
(The war of 1914-n-18 is to be regarded as the preliminaryskirmish of this vast world-conflict.)

The effect of this upon Therion was to bring out two contradictoryelements in his character.

On the one hand: he was absolutely convinced of the truthof the claims of the Secret Chiefs, of their praeter-human attainments,and of Their right and power to direct the course of events upon this planet.Moreover he was bound to Them by his original oath at his first initiation.

On the other hand: he was wholly at variance with greatbulk of philosophy and ethics set forth in Liber AL. He was filled, inshort, with two conflicting currents of enthusiasm and resentment.

In the upshot, after a mostly contemptuous attempt tocarry out formally Their first instructions, acting, in such a way as todefeat his own apparent efforts (as if to say, let them bring their ownwork to fruition, if they can and will), he revolted openly. The experiencehad forced him to abandon his attitude of deliberate worldliness, but hedid his utmost to follow his own career upon a Path not Theirs.

The next few years saw him engaged in this desperate struggleagainst Them. Little by little they broke his false will. Many were thetortures by which They compelled him to renew his allegiance: many werethe signs by which They manifested Their vigilance and Their virtue.

He fought every yard of ground with desperate tenacity;it was no sudden surrender of his, but the steady compulsion of Their might,that brought him back to the True Path.

Now the Secret Chiefs had chosen him as Their representativeon earth, as the vehicle of the Utterance. And because he was not yet fittedby full initiation to carry out Their designs, it was imperative that Theyshould prevent him, even when he consented to execute Their commands, frommaking a premature appearance. This was not altogether easy to secure for,despite his own determination to abandon his
worldly career, he had obtained eminence in two widelydistinct paths of human activity; so that whatever he might choose to setforth would be certain to receive due attention from the world at large.

As wary as he was courageous, as skilful and subtle ashe was full of resource, he gave Them no shadow of cause to reproach him;yet They destroyed his love, his hope, and his peace of mind. They alienatedhim from every single friend and supporter; he was betrayed again and againeven by those who sought to be most loyal to him, and would have died athousand deaths to serve him.

They masked him so grotesquely, hideously, obscenely,that it became scarce possible for any man to penetrate the secret of histrue personality.

Yet also during this whole time, They led him in diversways through ordeals more and more exalted, until They had fixed him atthe summit of the Order, in that degree of enlightenment which (or so itis said) is attained by any man in the body not oftener than once in TwoThousand years.

The climax of their dealings with him came in the weeksimmediately preceding and following the Spring Equinox of 1924 E.V. Atthis time he lay sick unto death. He was entirely alone; for They wouldeven permit the presence of those few whom They had themselves appointedto aid him in this final initiation. In this last ordeal the earthly partof him was dissolved in water; the water was vaporized into air; the
air was rarified utterly, until he was free to make thelast effort, and to pass into the vast caverns of the Threshold which guardsthe Realm of Fire. Now naught human may come through those immensities.So in that Fire he was consumed wholly, and as pure Spirit alone did hereturn, little by little, during the months that followed, into the bodyand mind that had perished in that great ordeal of which he can say nomore than: I died.

But these six months being accomplished, a certain Virgincame forth at the bidding of the Secret Chiefs, at whose touch he resumedcontact with his human life.

Her he conveyed swiftly to the Desert of the Sahara, thatin silent communion with her Soul he might become aware of the intimatenature of his Work for the Masters; for she was verily a symbol of theVirgin Bride, whose redemption is the mystery of the Perpetuation of theGodhead.

Now when they had taken ship and sailed even to the midstof the Mediterranean Sea, there came to him once again an impulse fromthe Secret Chiefs: to write down in the most succinct form possible a statementof his nature and purpose.

And this he did do in the manifesto following:


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

My Term of Office upon the Earth being come in the yearof the foundation of the Theosophical Society, I took upon myself, in myturn, the sin of the whole World, that the Prophecies might be fulfilled,so that Mankind may take the Next Step from the Magical Formula of Osiristo that of Horus. And mine Hour being now upon me, I proclaim my Law. Theword of the Law is Velhma

Given in the midst of the
Mediterranean Sea
An XX, Sol in 3ø Libra die Jovis
Whoso understandeth may seek.

Now of this which is here written; ``I took upon myself,in my turn, the sin of the whole World that the Prophecies might be fulfilled,''it is to be understood that not only the definite spiritual experienceswhich determine the fact, but also the whole of his life, his joys, hissufferings, his travels in so many lands, his achievements in so many paths,his mingling with so many types of men and women of so many climes andclimates, is, in sum, an universal experience which has enabled him tofulfil to the uttermost the great Oath taken by him on his initiation tothe grade of Master of the Temple; as here follows:



I, O.M., etc., a member of the Body of God, hereby bindmyself on behalf of the Whole Universe, even as we are now physically boundunto the cross of suffering:


that I will lead a pure life, as a devoted servant ofthe Order:


that I will understand all things:


that I will love all things:


that I will perform all things and endure all things:


that I will continue in the Knowledge and Conversationof my Holy Guardian Angel:


that I will work without attachment:


that I will work in truth:


that I will rely only upon myself:


that I will interpret every phenomenon as a particulardealing of God with my Soul.

And if I fail herein, may my pyramid be profaned, andthe Eye closed to me.''

Now therefore this proclamation of this word is the fulfillmentof his Oath on his initiation to the grade of Magus (even as Gautama Buddhauttered the Word ANATTA, Laotze the Word TAO, Dionysus the Word IAO, Mohammedthe Word ALLAH, and so for the rest, at the due interval each in his place).For the function of the Magus is to proclaim a new Law by virtue of oneWord in which resides a Formula of Wisdom.

Here followeth the book called the Book of the Magus,and declareth unto him that shall understand it, the conditions of thatoffice.

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