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To: alt.magick,alt.magick.tyagi,alt.religion.gnostic,talk.religion.misc,alt.magick.tantra,alt.consciousness.mysticism,,alt.christnet,alt.religion.christian,alt.pagan.magick,talk.religion.newage
From: (nagasiva)
Subject: BHeidrick: Crowley and Gnosticism/Tantra
Date: 27 Dec 1996 01:00:44 -0800

[from Bill Heidrick ]


> #albeit indirect and via Qabalah and the Golden Dawn handling of the Book 
> #of Revelations at first.  
On Tue, 26 Nov 1996, nigris [(333) (] wrote:
> interesting.  I'd not ever heard anyone claim that the Qabalah, the Golden
> Dawn or the Book of Revelations were Gnostic before you.  did I take your
> text wrong, or are you identifying something 'Gnostic' which is unusual?

As I said, indirect.  There are traces of sexual mystical practices in
old pre-Qabalah literature of the first few centuries of the common era,
but the presence of Gnostic ideas in Qabalah itself is very strong.  The 
Shekina, the handling of Binah and Chokmah together with Malkut and Yesod,
names like Metatron, many things.  This should not be surprising, in view
of the close relation of Greek and Jewish communities in the first few
centuries of the common era.  For those who receive the _Thelema Lodge
Calendar_ in the printed edition, I've started using gnostic gems as
dingbats to fill unused space.  All of them come from Jewish sites,
published in _Jewish Symbols in the Greco-Roman Period_, by Erwin R. 
Goodenough, Bolingen Series XXXVII, Pantheon 1953.  As for the Golden Dawn,
usage of images from Revelations is clearly present in the Grade rituals.
As for the Gnostic character of those images, more indirect in that it
echos a parallel to the pre-christian Gnosticism in Merkabah -- of course
Revelations has some direct usage in later Christian Gnosticism.  Many of
these attainment oriented mystery schools, especially the G.'.D.'., are
characterizable as "Neo-Gnostic" in the same loose sense as modern form
of "Neo-Paganism" -- i.e., sort of.

> #Crowley recommended the _Pistis Sophia_, apparently had a copy of the 
> #Codex Brucianus, 
> there is quite a bit that demonstrates that Crowley was fascinated by
> some elements of Gnostic text, but does a recommendation constitute
> 'substantial influence'?  I'm unsure.  I have no idea what that Codex
> Brucianus is or to what it refers.

Substantial influence doesn't necessarily mean deep understanding, but I
wouldn't deny flashes of that to Crowley.  The Codex Brucianus is a Coptic
text containing quite a lot of interesting material: A Greek alphabet
analogue to the Sepher Yetzirah, a nearly complete and unique exposition of
Valentinian Gnosticism, a sort of magical book with diagrams and other 
things -- all apparently preserved from c. 600 e.v. and earlier.

> #borrowed his Baphomet symbol from a Roman Grotesque in a book on gnostic 
> #studies,
> if you mean that funny-looking rooster thing, do you have any idea what
> it symbolized to the g(G?)nostics or to Crowley or to any of his successors?

It's a mask of Silenus on breast, body a ram's head, head a rooster and feet
of a rooster.  Sometimes it has a tongue, sometimes a foot coming out of the
mask of Silenus, father of the Fauns.  Whatever the dickens it is, it may
be related to Mithralism but has other common Gnostic elements as well.
I used another version of it as a dingbat in the TLC an issue or two back,
also from the Bolingen book cited above.  Crowley used it as his Baphomet
seal, but I haven't seen an exposition of it.  It was also used in the
_Witches of Eastwick_ movie, but apparently only for "boo!"

> #wrote on the themes of sexual and archetypal mysticism &c.  
> hardly indicative solely of Gnostic-influence.

Not solely, but conformal in a general sense.  Some of the texts in
the Naghamadi Library are gnostic and intimate the same thing Crowley
did for the upper OTO degrees and the Gnostic Mass metaphor.

> #His sexual mysticism does owe more to Gnostic ideas than to Tantra, 
> #but he was not ignorant of the latter either.  
> you appear to be making a distinction between 'sexual mysticism' and
> 'sexual magick' here.  what do you include in the mysticism and why
> do you associate it more with (g?)Gnosticism than with tantra?

No substantial distinction.  I simply consider mysticism passive and
magick active, otherwise much the same sort of phenomenon.

> #Primarily, Crowley's sexual magick came through OTO, but that in turn 
> #relied heavily on Tantra and Kundalini yoga ideas as interpreted in 
> #the West.
> when you say 'came through' do you mean that the members of the OTO
> instructed him in these things or that he devised them when he was
> a member of the Order?  how do these differ from 'sexual mysticism'?

He was instructed.  Crowley noted that he had only considered sexual
techniques marginally before.  If you watch in your mind or astrally,
I class it mysticism.  If you do with bodies toward a result, magical.
Mostly, it's mixed.

> #...Blavatsky's ideas of higher guidance, 
> was this strictly Blavatsky's?  I remember Crowley mentioning somewhere
> that he derived the idea of the Secret Chiefs from some Christian book
> (didn't someone mention it recently, about the 'Hidden Church'?).

Not strictly Blavatsky's, but Crowley found it to be a more immediate
example of ideas he had less developed elsewhere, like sex magick.

> #an extreme variation on her idea of planetary incarnation, 
> in terms of Aeonics?  or are you talking about something planetary in
> terms of various planets (Mars? Venus?) incarnating in some fashion?
> his being the reincarnation of Levi?  I think I've lost you on this one.

Blavatsky had sould apparently inhabiting bodies on planets in succession.
Crowley couldn't quite take that, but he did use the idea in reference
to Sephirot and planetary correspondences.  A.C. mentions this idea in
_Lost Continent_.

> #some of her ideas of higher visions -- 
> got me, lost me here too.  you talking about the Rosicrucian Office
> System of Attainment (Magister Templi, Adeptus Exemptus, etc.)?

_Voice in the Silence_.

> #mainly what she did in terms of influence and success in forming a 
> #new organization; anything else?
> there are many rumors of her deceptive exploits in the realms of
> spiritualism which marr Blavatsky's reputation (if true).  what was
> it she did to which you are referring here?  can you be more explicit?
> I gather she and the Theosophists were somewhat hip on the protection
> of the Indian indigenous religion from the Brits, but am not sure if
> this is to what you refer or what Crowley might have done as parallel.

In this part, mainly that Blavatsky succeeded at organizing a movement.
Crowley proceeded to do the same.

93 93/93


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