BY SH MELITODES
“John answered, saying to them all, “indeed I baptise you with water. However one comes who us mightier than I, the strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie. They will baptise you with the Pneumati Hagio, kai Pyri.”
“…in these are mysteries that no Beast shall divine. Let him not seek to try: but one cometh after him, whence I say not, who shall discover the Key of it all.”
—Liber AL vel Legis
Gnosis means direct experience of the divine. It is continuous. Gnosis is development and revolution in their purest form. There is no one messiah, but an infinity of comings. So answer me this: why is there only one Gnostic Mass?
The Gnostic Mass serves two purposes. It is a calling and opening for the common man into the Mysteries; and its Mystery offers a concrete rejuvenation and restoration.
With the Gnostic Mass Crowley sought to create a one-size-fits-all access to the Mysteries. We are not sure it was ever fit for this purpose; it certainly is not today. It is outdated. It still offers rejuvenation (for its Formula is continuous); yet, for every newcomer that it draws into the Mysteries, it alienates another in turn. And none more so than women.
“Now since He is all, and all things are referred to Him, much confusion hath arisen, the Many overwhelming The One. And herein is the reason whereof: and every woman is not a complete image of God in due proportion. Consider these words attentively, and understand what they say not.”
—Liber C: Agape vel Azoth
We are searching for something to draw women to the Mysteries; we are not convinced any longer Liber XV is the sole way towards this goal. For certain kind of woman, or a woman in a certain place, it will work very well. And we do not dismiss nor denigrate these women, for I myself have been one of them. Yet this exclusivity is a problem, for it can offer women little more than a new and more gilded cage. And worse, for the egregore takes those it alienates and blames them, attributing it to their own repression. It knows nothing, has no eyes to see, the feminine path and the intimate, intricate god-given trauma of the masculine gaze.
Thelema is not a naked woman on the altar. It is the sublime ecstasy of the ever-whirring divine duality. It is our approach to this ever-whirring. Our experience of it, our relationship with it, as an individual which is in itself an ever-whirring multiplicity, for the individual is nothing more than a community of stars and cells.
The woman on the altar served a purpose; it can still serve one. But it cannot be the end of our work, nor the centre. And this is why Thelema has stagnated since its conception; because it recognised the need for the worship of the goddess, and then found itself unable to enact it; because it feared.
“I saw the devouring mothers of Hell, that eat up their children— O ye that are without understanding! I saw Thee in these.”
—Liber DCCCXIII vel ARARITA
It knew that She was coming, She was angry, and it saw what She would do. We forgot that our Lady takes our Lord as consort. We forgot that She will always be satisfied.
Liber XV was designed to offer such a simple illustration of the divine Formula of ON that the average Russian peasant could understand it. Unfortunately, I think the average Russian peasant would understand it far better than the average mass-goer today.
This Gnostic Mass operates according to a misconception that abounded in the Victorian world: that the phallus was universal, and without equal counterpart. These monumental Victorians found one path to the gnosis, and enshrined it as the only path. Yet, it is in the nature of gnosis itself that this is a false construction.
Imagine a Church where initiation into the clergy came when one wrote and orchestrated a new mass. What a rich, exquisite Church that would be. A Church where, instead of dogma and authority, theology was a living breathing map of the worlds, sewn from the gnosis of the congregation.
In many ways it is of no surprise to me that the O.T.O. has Liber XV only as its Mass, and offers training and initiation only in the phallic path; because its central secret, that of ON, has been operated and understood almost exclusively from the perspective of the phallus – perhaps, can only be operated thus.
“For they understand not that man is the guardian of the Life of God; woman but a temporary expedient; a shrine indeed for the God, but not the God.”
—Liber C: Agape vel Azoth
Now, humans like to turn ineffable, incommunicable ideas into metaphor. See the Caduceus: two snakes, wrapped around one another. Picture not the single serpent shooting from the spine, but remember two. Two poles, two snakes, entwined whirring, inside each of us. We call these the masculine and feminine because at this stage in our culture these are the most evocative metaphors we have. Perhaps in time, as our understanding increases, we will be able to surmount this.
Liber XV celebrates the masculine initiation formula, the masculine path to power. It takes the masculine gaze. It celebrates the Mysteries of ON—which, though necessarily includes masculine and feminine elements, offers subjectivity only to those in the masculine role. Thus can gender-play the Mass, and this may be a fun and innovative way to viscerally remind the participants of those two snakes; but it is the masculine formula that is enacted nevertheless. Even gender-played, Liber XV is not sufficient.
This Formula is a powerful and important one, one which huge swathes of our culture have taken as central. But it is not sufficient, and in trying to make it so, we have mimicked the slave religions, and deeply disadvantaged the growth of of our own.
What we need are rituals which celebrate the feminine mysteries, the feminine initiation formulae; we need rituals which celebrate any other mystery and formula than the singular, specific one used in Liber XV.
This is the Foreshadowing of the Feather. We are no longer Kundry; we have become Nulla. We are no longer Helen; we have become Sophia. Yet, this is not the movement of initiation; this is the step to be taken if we are even to begin the story.
For we do not have the new Formula. Not yet. We see the shape, the shadow; but the key has not yet been given.
So what does this immanent ritual do, this Liber Sophia, if it does not offer a Formula? It offers a celebration of the mysteries from the feminine perspective; it is that simple, and it is that revolutionary. It is is a celebration. A reddressing of the balance. A ritual that seeks to approach the divine feminine, from the mundane feminine perspective. It offers a path to the mysteries, an avenue of gnosis; an indwelling. It aims to invoke and draw down Sophia by the same movement that it evokes and pulls up Melissa, Priestess before such things were defined by masculine words; emissary of the Honey Bee.
This celebration doesn’t have a magical aim; it is a mystical act, and as such is unassuaged of purpose. And yet, we do come before the Our Lady with a prayer, a desire, a hope. Like the fertility rituals of old we hope that by enacting Sophia’s descent we might provoke a pentecost among us; all the while we recognise that Sophia already indwells among us, and we celebrate this coming with a Mystery with a play. It is thus that, in this rite, beauty is far more important than accuracy; so too are gnosis and revelation far more important than dogma and formulae.
We are neither of the Sun nor Moon; we are of the Stars.
We are the Waters and the caves and the hollow mountains filled with Fire.
We are the expiring birth; the death and life that men crave so jealousy. This was ours in the beginning, and we seek to take it back.
We seek to decentralize Our Lady—to remember Our Lord stands at Her side, hand on shoulder; but it is to Our Lady that the petition must be made.
This is not a new word-game.
This is a vehicle of Gnosis.
This is an Offering. This is a Supplication.
This is the other twisting Snake; this is the other face of the Sword.
This is what happened before the Lover came to Her chamber; this is what happened after he left.
These are the Mysteries of the Universal Kteis
This is the Song of the Daughters.