AOH :: CROWLY10.TXT|
Holy Books of Thelema
Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
THE HOLY BOOKS OF THELEMA are the chief legacy of their scribe, Aleister
Crowley (1875(ss)-1947 E.V.). Their principal value to us, his heirs, lies
not in their considerable literary merit, but rather in the insight and
illumination these books yield on each reading. Written, as they were, on
the most exalted planes of spiritual experience, they have a way of unfolding
within the reader, of not only retaining, but increasing their relevance.
Since these works were written through Crowley, they cannot be classed with
those books of magical and mystical instruction consciously written by
Crowley. They afford far more than information or instruction they give
access to the source of the scribe's genius, and can awaken, as if by
sympathetic resonance, promptings toward similar experiences in the
The most important liber (or book) is the founding document of Thelema:
Liber AL Vel Legis Sub Figurae CCXX. Originally titled Liber L, it was later
retitled Liber AL(el)f36 (also pronounced el), and is often called Liber
Legis, or The Book of the Law. The reception of this book in Cairo, Egypt,
signalled the expiration of the on of Osiris, and inaugurated the new on of
Horus; thus 1904 E.V. (Era Vulgaris, or common era) is year 0 of the Thelemic
The three chapters of Liber Legis were literally dictated to Crowley,
during three one-hour sessions, from noon to 1 P.M. on April 8, 9 and 10,
1904 E.V. The entity giving dictation was a praeter-human intelligence called
Aiwaz, or Aiwass, a being demonstrating knowledge and prescience beyond
anything hitherto associated with human faculties. Crowley describes this
messenger, and the circumstances surrounding the dictation of the book, in
the following excerpt from his writings:
(el)i2li2rThe Voice of Aiwass came apparently from over my left shoulder, from
the furthest corner of the room. The voice was passionately poured, as if
Aiwass were alert about the time-limit. I was pushed hard to keep the pace;
the MS. shows it clearly enough. I had a strong impression that the speaker
was actually in the corner where he seemed to be, in a body of fine matter,
transparent as a veil of gauze, or a cloud of incense-smoke. He seemed to
be a tall, dark man in his thirties, well-knit, active and strong, with the
face of a savage king, and eyes veiled lest their gaze should destroy what
they saw. The dress was not Arab; it suggested Assyria or Persia, but very
vaguely. I took little note of it, for to me at that time Aiwass was an
angel such as I had often seen in visions, a being purely astral.
Crowley later recognized Aiwass as his Holy Guardian Angel, and came to
accept the mantle of Thelemic prophet of the on of Horus thrust upon him by
his reception of Liber Legis. Although the book abounds in specific
references to the scribe and prophet in his now-historical role of The Beast
666, it is nevertheless the most influential of the Holy Books, with the
greatest general relevance to humanity.
The Book of the Law was also the origin of the technical class (Class A)
to which these Holy Books belong. Chapter I, verse 36, states that the
scribe shall not in one letter change this book; but lest there be folly, he
shall comment thereupon by the wisdom of Ra-Hoor-Khu-it. Crowley
accordingly produced several important commentaries to Liber Legis, but only
one that he regarded as definitely inspired the Comment he received in 1925
E.V., as predicted by Liber Legis:
But the work of the comment? That is easy; and Hadit burning in thy
heart shall make swift and secure thy pen.
Crowley considered the Comment (page 196 of the present volume) the really
inspired message, cutting as it does all the difficulties with a single keen
stroke. This refers to the commentators that would otherwise revise and
distort the message of 7Liber Legis to their own ends, forming their schools
of interpretation with the conformist pressures and tendencies to schism
that inevitably follow. The Comment warns against the dissemination of
personal interpretations of the book, thus establishing a scriptural
tradition resistant to the revisionism that plagued previous religions and
mystery schools. Yet it places supreme emphasis upon individual freedom of
interpretation: All questions of the Law are to be decided only by appeal
to my writings, each for himself. As applied, this creates a climate of
freedom without parallel in religious history.
In many ways Liber Legis edits itself, giving explicit and detailed
instructions to the scribe. These instructions, reviewed below, shed light
on the dynamic interaction between scribe and book.
Liber Legis places great emphasis upon the importance of preserving the
book intact for future generations: Change not as much as the style of a
letter; for behold! thou, o prophet, shalt not behold all these mysteries
hidden therein. Crowley writes of this:
This injunction was most necessary, for had I been left to myself,
I should have wanted to edit the book ruthlessly. I find in it what
I consider faults of style, and even of grammar; much of the matter
was at the time of writing most antipathetic. But the Book proved
itself greater than the scribe: again and again have the mistakes
proved themselves to be devices for transmitting a Wisdom beyond the
scope of ordinary language.
Another such instruction insists upon a reproduction of this ink and paper
for ever, for in it is the word secret & not only in the English. Liber Legis
even stipulates that the manuscript be included in foreign-language
translations, for in the chance shape of the letters and their position to one
another: in these are mysteries that no Beast shall divine. The manuscript is
therefore reproduced (at 56/ original size) immediately following the typeset
text of Liber CCXX in the present compilation,
The manuscript is technically titled Liber XXXI, and should not be confused
with another well-known book with the same title. By printing Liber XXXI
side-by-side with Liber CCXX, the numerical order otherwise observed in this
edition is disregarded. However, this placement has long been traditional,
and greatly simplifies cross-reference.
An important change made by Crowley when editing Liber CCXX was his
numbering of the verses in Chapter I, which are unnumbered in manuscript.
Since Liber CCXX derives its title from its total of 220 verses, this title
clearly cannot apply to the manuscript. A few recent editions of Liber Legis
have appeared which follow the MS., Liber XXXI, more literally in some
respects than does Liber CCXX. Technically, such editions are not Liber
CCXX, but rather attempts to produce a typeset version of Liber XXXI.
Finally, a close comparison of the text and manuscript will show variant
punctuation. This was anticipated and approved by Liber Legis: The stops as
thou wilt: the letters, change them not in style or value. Thus, the changes
in the stops introduced by Crowley in preparing Liber CCXX from Liber XXXI
are in accordance with the book's instructions.
Accordingly, each of the above-described prescriptions for publication have
been observed in preparing Liber CCXX for this edition. The most recent
authorized publication of Liber Legis has been used: that published by the
O.T.O. in 1938 E.V. In recent reprintings (Weiser, 1979, 1981) four
typographical errors were corrected by the O.T.O., after verification in
earlier authorized editions and the MS. This reprint and the present edition
are therefore the most accurate of the several editions of Liber Legis.
In The Equinox of the Gods Crowley gives an explanatory list of the
departures in the manuscript itself from what was dictated during the
reception of Liber Legis:
On page 6 of the MS. Aiwaz instructs me to write this (what he had
just said) in whiter words, for my mind rebelled at His phrase. He added
at once But go forth on, i.e., with His utterance, leaving the emendation
On page 19 I failed to hear a sentence, and (later on) the Scarlet
Woman, invoking Aiwass, wrote in the missing words. (How? She was not in
the room at the time, and heard nothing.)
Page 20 of Cap. III, I got a phrase indistinctly, and she put it in,
as for B.
The versified paraphrase of the hieroglyphs on the Steqleq being ready
Aiwaz allowed me to insert these later, so as to save time.
These four apart, the MS. is exactly as it was written on those three days.
The steqleq (or stela) referred to in D above is a funerary monument of
Ankh-f-n-khonsu, a Theban priest of Month (or Mentu) who flourished (according
to modern scholarship) circa 670 B.C.E., in Egypt's 25th Dynasty. It figured
largely in the events leading up to the reception of Liber Legis, as did
the Scarlet Woman, Crowley's wife Rose. It was her discovery of the Steqleq
in Cairo's Boulaq Museum that (in Crowley's words) led to the creation of the
ritual by which Aiwass, the author of Liber L Liber AL(el)f36, was invoked.
It is referred to as the Steqleq of Revealing in Liber Legis, and according
to Crowley, indicates a certain continuity or identity of myself with
Ankh-f-n-khonsu, whose Steqlep is the Link with Antiquity of this Revelation.
Crowley's comment is of interest when considering the observations of the
Egyptologist Abd el Hamid Zayed, who gave the Steqleq its first publication in
the archaeological literature, in 1968 E.V.:
The back of the stela is occupied by eleven horizontal lines of inscription,
the first part of which is a version of The Book of the Dead, chap. 30. This
chapter was usually engraved upon a large scarab. It is very unusual to find
it inscribed upon a stela. The second half of the inscription is part of The
Book of the Dead, chap. 2 and, in the Theban Recension, it was entitled:
The chapter of coming forth by day and living after death.
Its object was to allow the astral form of the deceased to revisit the earth
at will. emphasis added
Certain other observations by Zayed are of interest. He notes that painted
wooden stelae are uncommon, since stelae were usually carved in stone. The
Steqleq of Revealing is doubly unusual in that the reverse side, usually
undecorated, is also painted, with the texts cited in the above-quoted
excerpt. Concerning painted wooden stela in general, he remarks that it is
noteworthy that they all seem to originate from Thebes and its neighbourhood,
and that their owners are mostly persons attached to the cults of Month and
Amon. He also notes that a very interesting point about these stelae is
the evidence they afford for the religious views of the period. Most
noteworthy is the identification of the forms of Rao-Horakhty Ra-Hoor-Khuit
The curator of the Boulaq Museum, M. Brugsch Bey, arranged for a French
translation of the Egyptian text of the Steqleq in the weeks preceding the
writing of Liber Legis in 1904 E.V. Crowley translated the French into
English, in verse form, and had this English version of the hieroglyphic text
at hand during the dictation of Liber Legis. In two instances (Liber Legis
I:14, III:37-38) he had occasion to use it, but these verses do not appear
in the MS. itself, having been inserted in to the typescript prepared after
the book's reception. Since the original Egyptian-French translation of the
Steqleq (from which Crowley made his versified paraphrase) has a direct
bearing upon the text of Liber Legis, it is given its first publication in
Appendix A, with a new English translation by a qualified Egyptologist (Ph.D.,
Columbia) who chooses to remain anonymous. An actual photograph of the
Steqleq is also included; all previous appearances of the Steqleq in Thelemic
publications have been modern painted reproductions. References for
Egyptological studies of the Steqleq will be found in Appendix C.
The above-cited injunctions concerning the editing of the book serve to
underscore the salient feature of Liber Legis, when considering it in context
with the other books in this volumeit is not the work of Aleister Crowley, as
Crowley himself emphasizes:
I claim authorship even of all the other A...A... Books in Class A, though
I wrote them inspired beyond all I know to be I. Yet in these Books did
Aleister Crowley, the master of English both in prose and in verse, partake
insofar as he was That. Compare those Books with The Book of the Law! The
style of the former is simple and sublime; the imagery is gorgeous and
faultless; the rhythm is subtle and intoxicating; the theme is interpreted in
faultless symphony. There are no errors of grammar, no infelicities of
phrase. Each Book is perfect in its kind.
I, daring to snatch credit for these dared nowise to lay claim to have
touched The Book of the Law, not with my littlest finger-tip.
In his Commentaries on Liber Legis Crowley enlarges on this important
The use of such un-English expressions makes a clear-cut distinction
between AIWAZ and the scribe. In the inspired Books such as LXV, VII,
DCCCXIII and others, written by The Beast 666 directly, not from
dictation, no such awkward expressions are to be found. The style shows
a well-marked difference.
There are many subtleties among these Holy Books, both of degree of
inspiration and mode of reception. All were penned during high trance, but
some, especially Liber LXV and Liber VII6, were produced during major spiritual
transformations. Crowley's Diary for 1907 E.V. records the writing of Liber
LXV during the period 30 October-3 November, and the following excerpt sheds
further light on the process by which such books are written:
Wrote Chapters I & II Liber Cordis Cincti Serpente Liber LXV
again no shadow of Samadhi; only a feeling that V.V.V.V.V. was in His
Samadhi, and writing by my pen, i.e. the pen of the scribe, and that
scribe not who reasons etc. nor Aleister Crowley who is a
poet & selects; but of some perfectly passive person.
A technical digression is necessary here, in order to resolve a
long-standing problem of attribution.
The official publications of the A... A... are grouped in five classes,
from A to E. The classification system was devised to obviate potential
confusion regarding the relative sanctity or authority of the books and
papers evaluated. The system has generally succeeded in this, although (as
will be seen) confusion still arises. Crowley placed the Holy Books in
Class A, which (by his definition) consists of books of which may be changed
not so much as the style of a letter: that is, they represent the utterance
of an Adept entirely beyond the criticism of even the Visible Head of the
Organization. As has been shown, the Class A category of literature
ultimately derives from the first and foremost of the Holy Books, Liber Legis.
The term holy book itself possibly derives from Liber LXV V:58: in the
number five and sixty seal thou the holy book. Crowley never explicitly
defined it, or listed the books to which it applied. Some students only allow
the term Holy Books to the Class A writings collected in Thelema, a compilation
published in 1909 E.V., and deny the term to Class A documents published later
in The Equinox.
included Libri VII, XXVII, LXI, LXV, CCXX and DCCCXIII, and
was meant to serve a specific and limited purpose, being the core curriculum
of aspirants in the Outer College of A... A.... It was not intended to be
the definitive edition of the Thelemic sacred writings, as some students hold.
Much tangible mischief has resulted from this mistaken assumption. For
example, a 1952 E.V. Canadian limited edition based on
was given the title The Holy Books, with no qualification of the title to
account for the many Holy Books excluded. Compounding this error, and
illustrating the problem of loosely-applied titles, three books excerpted
were recently published as The Holy Books, leading many students to believe
that only three books deserve the term. Thus, the corruption Crowley took
such pains to forestall arose after his death due to the confusion of a
bibliographic reference (the book ) with an ill-defined oral
tradition concerning the Holy Books as a literary subgroup.
In the years following the publication of in 1909 E.V.,
additional Class A books were written and incorporated into the A... A...
curriculum. The Curriculum of A... A..., published in 1919 E.V., includes all
Class A writings except Liber CCCLXX, a curious exception that goes to prove
the rule. The note immediately following Liber CCCLXX in The Equinox clearly
places it in the graded curriculum. Attributed to the grade of Dominus
Liminus, Liber CCCLXX picks up the series where the five books
in left off at the preceding grade of Practicus. Supporting
this is the fact that all five books published in had similar
notes appended to them; for comparative purposes, these notes have been
transferred to the Synopsis in the present edition.
According to the best available evidence, Crowley never
cited as the Holy Books; he refers to the book in his writings,
but always by the proper title. Crowley did use the term Holy Books in a
general sense, usually when citing Libri VII or LXV. But in a telling
instance (his commentary to Liber LXV V:51) he applies the term to Liber I,
still unwritten at the time of 's publication. This is
irrefutable evidence for a broader definition of the Holy Books.
Finally, it is difficult to believe that Crowley would have left any
ambiguity as to the sanctity of the books in Class A, of all classes of
literature; their very definition argues against it.
There is thus firm evidence for expanding the term holy book beyond the few
books published in . For the present compilation (in many ways
a more complete edition of the original collection) all Class A writings are
treated as Holy Books. The original title of is retained, and
popular usage is acknowledged in the subtitle The Holy Books of Thelema.
Curiously, considering the reverence with which Crowley treated it, Liber
I was first published in Class B. It was later placed in Class A in the
authoritative Synopsis of Official Publications of the A... A.... In view of
its reclassification, and Crowley's explicit reference to it as a Holy Book,
it is included in this compilation in Class A.
Liber LXI was first published in , where it appeared under
imprimatur in Class A. Crowley evidently had second thoughts, for it is
placed in Class D in later publications and listings. Liber LXI differs from
the Holy Books on almost all points. Questions of style apart, it is not a
received text at all, but rather a revision of the History Lection of the
Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. Crowley drafted a revision of this
historical paper in 1906 E.V., and rewrote it, as it stands today, in 1907 E.V.
It is a literary cornerstone of the A... A..., which rose from the ashes of
the Golden Dawn during this period. Liber LXI should not, however, be
considered a Holy Book, but rather an Introduction to the series of Holy
Books, as Crowley suggests. Supporting this view is the fact that verses
29-30 refer to Sacred Writings such as Libri CCXX, LXV and VII; this would
seem to place Liber LXI outside the category. Since Liber LXI was included
in (the model for the present compilation) it is included in
the present compilation, but under its most recent imprimatur in Class D.
It serves as the Introduction, and immediately follows the Synopsis.
As explained above, the Holy Books have been considered synonymous with
the books in Class A in collecting material for this compilation. However,
three books containing Class A material have been excluded.
The first two may be treated together. They are Liber CDXV Opus Lutetianum
(commonly called The Paris Working) and Liber CDXVIIILiber XXX RUM Vel Saculi
(commonly called The Vision and the Voice). Both are diary records of magical
workings conducted by Crowley in collaboration with Victor B. Neuburg.
Crowley placed these two books in Class B, which he reserved for Class A
material contained in a work of ordinary scholarship, enlightened and
earnest (Class B). It is extremely unlikely that Crowley intended these
documents in mixed class to be considered Holy Books. The Class A material,
typically the utterance of a deific or angelic entity, is inextricably
imbedded in the Class B text, often without benefit of quotation marks.
Concrete evidence for this view may be found in Crowley's commentary to Liber
LXV X:44, where he clearly distinguishes Liber CDXVIII from the Holy Books
as a group. Additionally, Liber CDXVIII has two sections pertaining to Class
D, since they comprise official rituals or instructions.
The third book excluded is in Class A-B: Liber DCCCCLXIII
Thesarau Eidolon, commonly called The Treasure-House of
Images(el)f36. In this case, only a short prefatory note is in Class A; the
book itself, in Class B, is the work of Maj.-Gen. J.F.C. Fuller.
For the present edition, the Holy Books have been collected and republished
verbatim from their respective sources, which are cited in Appendix C.
Extraneous commentaries in the original publications have generally been
transferred to the Synopsis. Material in editorial brackets appearing within
a text (as occurs in Libri XXVII, CCXXI and CD) is retained; the reader is
advised that these are not insertions by the present editor. Also, the use
of typographical conventions such as ligatures (, oe, fi, etc.) has been made
Two Tables of Contents have been prepared for this edition, placed on
facing pages for ease of reference. The Technical Table of Contents gives the
actual, formal titles, using the traditional roman numerals for the book
numbers. Since these titles can be confusing when first encountered, an
English Table of Contents is provided, using Crowley's translations of the
book titles where possible. Two translations are supplied (within brackets)
by the present editor. Also, the roman numerals are replaced with their
An explanation of the classification system appears in the Technical
Bibliography (Appendix B), which also lists the technical books and papers of
Thelema by number, class and title. This is intended to help readers place
the Class A writings in context with writings in other classes.
Many commentaries to individual Holy Books are extant, some of which have
been published. The reader may consult the Selected References in Appendix
C for bibliographic data concerning these.
Finally, Crowley's diaries show that he frequently used for
bibliomancy by opening the book at random and dropping his magical ring,
taking the word or passage touched upon as an oracle. This expanded edition
could well serve the same purpose.
It is to be hoped that the publication of these books, here collected in
one volume for the first time, will assist all aspirants in the accomplishment
of their True Wills, the Great Work, the Summum Bonum, True Wisdom and Perfect
Love is the law, love under will.
(H.A. in Greek)
Hymenaeus Alpha, Caliph
Maj. Grady Louis McMurtry
(U.S. Army Reserve)
in , in
August 12, 1982 E.V.
In his Confessions Crowley gives a more detailed account of the writing
of these books:
" The spirit came upon me and I wrote a number of books in a way which I
hardly know how to describe. They were not taken from dictation like The
Book of the Law nor were they my own composition. I cannot even call them
automatic writing. I can only say that I was not wholly conscious at the
time of what I was writing, and I felt that I had no right to change so much
as the style of a letter. They were written with the utmost rapidity without
pausing for thought for a single moment, and I have not presumed to revise
them. Perhaps plenary inspiration is the only adequate phrase, and this has
become so discredited that people are loth to admit the possibility of such a
" The prose of these books, the chief of which are Liber Cordis Cincti
Serpente Liber LXV and Liberi Vel Lapidis Lazuli Liber VII, is wholly
different from anything that I have written myself. It is characterized by a
sustained sublimity of which I am totally incapable and it overrides all the
intellectual objections which I should myself have raised. It does not admit
the need to explain itself to anyone, even to me. I cannot doubt that these
books are the work of an intelligence independent of my own."
The reception of these books in the fall of 1907 E.V. was not unheralded.
They were fruit of years of applied study in several magical and mystical
disciplines. Crowley himself shows this in an untitled two-page manuscript
chronology, reproduced in full on the opposite page. Terse as this document
is, it is remarkably comprehensive. Beginning with his first tentative
enquiries into occultism at age 22, it lists the high points of his early
career, ending with the words Books begin to be received at will, a reference
to the Holy Books written in the fall of 1907 E.V. For the first publication
of this chronology, page references are provided (in the right-hand column)
to Crowley's accounts of the episodes cited, as published in his Confessions.
By reading these passages in chronological order, the reader will to some
extent share Crowley's perspective of the events leading up to the writing of
these books. Obscure or abbreviated entries in the chronology have been
expanded within editorial brackets.
This chronology will also prove a useful guide in clarifying certain
historical references in Liber LXI Vel Causae. Crowley termed this document
an introduction to the whole series of Holy Books; it is therefore included as
the Introduction in the present edition. Liber LXI recounts the modern
history of the Ordo A... A.... A full and proper account of this Order is
impossible in this place; readers are referred to the widely-available
authorized account, One Star in Sight.
Suffice to say that Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel
is the central (through not final) goal of aspirants to the A... A....
Crowley's communion with his Angel, Aiwass, reached tangible expression in
these Holy Books. He strove mightily to help others attain to this spiritual
experience, and as the following excerpt from his unpublished writings shows,
he expected similar communications to be received by those who succeeded in
this, the Great Work. However, such books are a spontaneous by-product of the
spiritual attainments they reflect, not ends in themselves. Years of
aspiration and rigorous training are a prerequisite, even for a mystic and
magician of Crowley's abundant native gifts. Several purported Holy Books
have appeared over the years; few, if indeed any, show much more than the
conscious literary fecundity of their authors.
Although it Liber Legis was not the direct result of invocation, unless the
successful invocation of Horus be accounted such, yet in view of the Magical
tradition that communications of this type may and should result more or less
directly from the use of ceremonial methods, and of the absence of any other
reasonable theory which covers the facts, I am led to make experiments and to
induce others to make experiments on the assumption that people trained in
a) Magical b) Mystical c) Qabalistic arts are more likely than those not so
trained to receive similar communications with such fulness and accuracy as
enables them to withstand the severest criticism. (The original communication
was made to Rose Crowley but would obviously have come to nothing had I not
been there to gestate and parturate the seed.) These experiments have been
justified by such results as the books LXV, VII, 418, I, Ararita, and by such
work as the editing of the Tao Teh King and the Yi King. The validity of the
methods is demonstrated by John St. John. Also by the success of those who
have put them into practice with fidelity, energy and intelligence. Indirectly
also by the quality of the failures and disasters which have accompanied
experiments conducted in ways which I disapprove. Incidentally I have been
able to predict results both of the wise and foolish virgins under my
supervision. It is my special business to set people to obtain the Knowledge
and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel by such means as I have myself
proved valid. By the word conversation I understand communication similar to
The Book of the Law as to origin, authority and value, each as may be suited
to the nature and True Will of the aspirant or experimenter.
Records dating the writing of the Holy Books show that they were received
during the years 1904 E.V. Crowley received Liber XXXI, the MS. of Liber
on April 8-10, 1904 E.V.. According to Crowley, Liber CCXX (the edited form
of Liber XXXI) was prepared shortly thereafter:
Three typed copies of Liber Legis made in Cairo in 1904 E.V.. One used
by publishers of Zaeehnsdorf edition (Chiswick Press)
previous to rediscovery of MSS. Errors in vellum books due
to the fact that this typescript not properly checked from MSS.
Thus, Liber CCXX existed in typescript soon after Liber Legis was received.
It was given its first publication in in 1909 E.V., but this
first edition was flawed. Liber CCXX and Liber XXXI were both published in The
Equinox two years later, marking the first publication of Liber XXXI, and the
first appearance of Liber CCXX as Crowley intended it.
Crowley's Diary for 1907 E.V. clearly records the writing of Libri X, XXVII,
LXV, LXVI, and CD in the fall of 1907 E.V. Several other books are mentioned
in the Diary and in other sources as having been writtin in this year, but
pose problems of exact identification and provenance.
In his Confessions (page and quoted above) Crowley suggests that
Liber VII was received during the same period as Liber LXV. An obscure entry
in his 907 E.V. for 1:30 a.m. of October 30 (just prior to Liber LXV's
reception) may record this: About 11 p.m. of October 29 (I suppose) I began
the 7 fold Word & finished the same.
Crowley writes in his Confessions that these books were written with the
utmost rapidity, without pausing for thought for a single moment. The Diary
entry confirms this: Liber VII, a book of over 5700 words, was written in
only 21/2 hours. For comparative purposes, Liber VII is slightly longer than
the MS. of Liber Legis, which was taken from dictation in 3 hours.
The Diary for 1907 E.V. also records the writing of two parts of Liber
CCXXXI, but not the text proper. In the Confessions Crowley attributes Liber
CCXXXI to 1911 E.V.; the textual portion of this book may have been written in
that year. However, in the same section of his Confessions, Crowley mistakenly
attributes three of the books written in 1907 E.V. to the year 1911 E.V. These
are Libri X, LXVI and CD. Such confusion is understandable since Crowley had
lost his diaries for both 1907 and 1911 E.V., and was writing from memory for
The Confessions roughly a decade later. However, Libri I, XC, CLVI and
CCCLXX are also listed in the Confessions as being produced in 1911 E.V., as
may well have been the case.
sound heard but this thy lion-roar of r
Crowley's above-quoted remarks from The Confessions suggest that Liber VII
was written during the same period as Liber LXV, although his Diary for 1907
E.V. makes no mention of it. Evidence for the reception in 1907 E.V. of Liber
DCCCXIII Vel Ararita may, with caution, be inferred from a Diary entry for 1
a.m. on October 30: About 11 p.m. of October 29 (I suppose) I began the 7 fold
Word & finished the same.
Entries for the months of November and December in Crowley's Diary for 1907
E.V. clearly record the reception of six more books included in this
compilation: Libri X, XXVII, LXI, LXVI, CCXXXI and CD. This contradicts The
Confessions, pp. 673-4, where four of these books (Libri X, LXVI, CCXXXI and
CD) are cited in a synopsis of Crowley's magical writings produced in 1911
E.V. Such confusion is understandable since Crowley had lost his diaries for
both 1907 and 1911 E.V., and was writing from memory for The Confessions
roughly a decade later. However, Libri I, XC, CLVI and CCCLXX are also listed
in the Confessions as being produced in 1911 E.V., as may well have been the
In 1909 E.V. several scriptures (Libri VII, XXVII, LXI, LXV, CCXX and
DCCCXIII) were collected and published under the title
Crowley was fond of using this volume for bibliomancy, obtaining spiritual
guidance by opening the book at random and dropping his magical ring onto the
page. came to be known as The Holy Books among Crowley's
students, although Crowley himself invariably used its proper title when
referring to it, unless discussing the Sacred Writings as a general class.
The second title is somewhat apocryphal, and potentially misleading, since
many books in Class A were produced years after 's publication.
For the present edition the original title of is retained,
and popular usage is acknowledged in the sub-title: The Holy Books of Thelema.
It has long been traditional that The Holy Books were (technically) all of
the writings in Class A. All of the books in this compilation are in Class A,
but two present problems in classification.
Liber I, the first instance, had only one authorized publication under
imprimatur, in The Equinox I(7). Although published there in Class B, it was
later listed in Class A in the Synopsis of the Official Publications of the
A... A... in The Equinox I(10).
The second instance is Liber LXI Vel Causae, which was twice published
under imprimatur, in (London: Zaehnsdorf, 1909) and in The
Equinox III(1). In it appears in Class (ss)3A; indeed,
in its entirety was in Class A. In The Equinox III(1), however, Liber LXI
is published in Class D, and it is so listed in the Synopsis cited above.
Crowley's reclassification of Liber I is less troublesome than the case of
Liber LXI. While it is certainly understandable that a historical document of
this nature be preserved intact, it is a revised version of the History Lection
of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, and not a received book in the
ordinary sense. Crowley's Diary for 1907 E.V. records the writing of this
book thus: Rewrote Preliminary Lection.
However, in the absence of conclusive and compelling evidence for their
omission, they are included in this compilation. If this is an error, it will
be on the side of inclusion.
Also, there are three Class A books which are not included in the present
volume. Two are in Class AB: Liber CDXV Opus Lutetianum (commonly called The
Paris Working) and Liber CDXVIIILiber XXX Vel Saeculi (commonly called The
Vision and the Voice). Both books contain Class A material (which appears in
quotation marks as the utterance of a deific or angelic entity). The majority
of both texts is however in Class B. The third omission is in Class A-B:
Liber DCCCCLXIII Thesarau Eidolon6, commonly called
The Treasure-House of Images. In this case, only a short prefatory note is in
Class A; the book itself, in Class B, is the work of Maj.-Gen. J.F.C. Fuller.
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