a cache of usenet and other text files pertaining
to occult, mystical, and spiritual subjects.


Writing Books of the Law

To: alt.magick.tyagi,alt.magick,alt.magick.order,talk.religion.misc,talk.religion.newage,alt.thelema,alt.pagan.magick
From: (nigris (333))
Subject: Writing Books of the Law
Date: 13 Jan 1999 02:42:24 -0800

49981118 IIIom Hail Baphomet!


# >....what *is* a Book of Law?  What is its purpose?


	You would need to consult published Masonic ritual, possibly a 
	good Masonic dictionary.  "VSL" = "Volume of the Sacred Law".  
	This is the language in the scripts for denoting the book of 
	religious matter that is used for taking the oaths in Craft 
	Masonry.  In most places, this is whatever religious Bible, 
	Torah, Koran etc. the candidate reveres.  In OTO usage, we 
	don't continue the landmark of changing the book with the
	candidate; our VSL is the BoL -- same terms used.  Recall that 
	Liber AL is named "Book of (the) Law" in text, but came after 
	this masonic practice.

	(from Frater Bill Heidrick)

"A. Boean" <>:
# ...a Book of Law is a text which offers the author some insight 
# into the Mystery of Life, or that which allows one to better 
# understand how one fits into the scheme of things.  Without 
# sounding overly redunant a personal book of Law, would be a text 
# which one could draw from to better fulfill their role in life.  

it is a book of *the* law, or Book of the Law, and if the Law is
Thelema, then identifying any scripture with this is tantamount
to the apology for one's preferred religious cult.  this was the
case with Crowley's _Liber Al vel Legis_ and LaVey's _The Satanic
Bible_ (entering into Christian terminology proper rather than
attempting a less controversial step into Freemasonry).  there
have of course been others (_The Jefferson Bible_, for example).

such an identification can have the effect of bolstering the cult
integrity in the wake of a cult leader, and constitutes much more
than a mere insight lent to the author (though your claim is far
more rational to justify and one which I tend to favor strongly).

# If the book offers the same insight as one advances through life, 
# could this then be a way of gauging the efficiency/validity of 
# the text?  Would this be one of the criterion such a text must 
# fulfill in order to be considered valid?

there is an ambiguity here as regards the term 'validity' which
has been fostered by religious cults for centuries.  typically
in modern parlance the term implies that there is some body of
supportive evidence which so strongly lends its weight to an
hypothetical expression that, without significant contrary data,
we may presume the statement to be true.  a good example here 
is the assertion that all bodies of mass exhibit a phenomenon
that we call 'gravity' (warping of space and time such that
other objects appear to be attracted to them).

religious cults tend to foster the notion that their authorities
are capable of rendering a superior assessment of such assertions,
and this of course extends to the epistemological and cosmological
realms which are more hotly contested due to their abstraction.

when speaking of texts generally, they may be considered to be
'valid' if they contain a preponderance of verifiable assertions
that can be followed up in reference or reproduced in experiment.
in the special realm of religious scriptures we encounter the
additional problem of moral spin. here a text is called 'valid'
if it has been provided the religious authority's Seal of
Approval, regardless of content or how verifiable it may be.

in association with this, certain texts of Crowley's are at
times referred to as being of a specific *class* specification,
indicating the degree of stylistic and editing change which may
be brought to them in presentation, and implying in many cases
what sort of authority Crowley considered the texts to have
(thus the description 'Holy Books of Thelema' -- they aren't
just favored due to taste, but considered somehow 'holy' and
of greater authority or importance in their specific form).

this has several benefits within a religious cult, inclusive
of keeping it integrous and unifying its clerical munitions.
where it becomes problematic is when we begin to lose the
distinction between 'having authority within the cult' and
'of generally accepted accuracy', since not all who read these
reviews or descriptions accept the religious authority when
it comes to cosmology, epistemology or morality).

your secondary question about what criteria should be required
before a text should be considered 'valid' (presumably within
a specific cult?  I'll presume not as you did not specify here)
is incompletely asked, since it does not describe by *whom* it
ought be considered valid.  if you speak in general, then I'm
inclined to think that 'valuable' is a more useful word here,
since if many people find that a text reflects their lives or
some important quality within their lives, it ought be given
additional emphasis in general archives (e.g. sacred scriptures).

if you are talking about a particular cult, then I'd think each
cult would vary depending upon the results obtained within
their social group.  TOPY members might find less texts by
Crowley, for example, to be of reflective value, whereas Orders
which establish Crowley as their Prophet or take his texts as
gospel may well underscore everything he ever penned to 
varying degrees.

#> Should it have meaning only to the author or should it apply 
#> to everyone?

why need we require this dualism?  write a text and call it your
Book of (Sacred) Law (Torah, VSL, whatever). as with Theophane's
(Shah's? :>) _Tales of a Magic Monastery_, in which a story is
told of one monk's complete annual construction of a Bible, at
whose completion a formal burning of the document took place, if
you find your own works to be of greater value than those of
the ancients, by all means take refuge in yourself. if you find
that a specific text provides many people reflective value, then
lend your support in promoting it to the general population for
their salvation.

# I'm inclined to say that ones' personal book would have the 
# greatest meaning to the one that had written or 'received' 
# the text, although others could find it inspirational as well.

I enjoy this perspective also, classing New Age 'channelled'
works like those by Michael Aquino, Jane Roberts, and Aleister
Crowley with those by other religious leaders like Muhammad
(channelled the Qur'an from the angel Gabriel) or St. John
(the visions of the final book of the Christian bible), and
think they may be of some social value to those who are of like
mind or enjoy reviewing the mystical chaff of the prolific.

# >Does everyone have to write one?

do what you please, for that is my Law.

# Thelemites we are almost driven to jot down experiences 
# which have impacted us greately, not necessarily for the 
# purpose of sharing the work with others ...but to serve as
# a subtle reminder of what one has undergone as they have 
# moved through life.

it is a standard recommendation within Hermetic tradition that
some record of the magical journey (the Magical Record, the
Book of Shadows, the Black Book, the Grimoire) be made so as
to provide reflection on experiments and to inspire our kindred.

if a record yields no value in personal reflection, then it is
likely it will not hold much value for the perusal of others.
like a record of one's travels through the public domains of
the internet, it becomes only of personal and specialized
interest (very important to cult members who may follow in
your wake and therefore of some manipulation value, putting
presentation spin on how one may be viewed), yet can, if it
transcends ordinary bounds of implication, achieve the poetic.


blessed beast!
nigris (333) 
-- (emailed replies may be posted); cc me replies;;

The Arcane Archive is copyright by the authors cited.
Send comments to the Arcane Archivist:

Did you like what you read here? Find it useful?
Then please click on the Paypal Secure Server logo and make a small
donation to the site maintainer for the creation and upkeep of this site.

The ARCANE ARCHIVE is a large domain,
organized into a number of sub-directories,
each dealing with a different branch of
religion, mysticism, occultism, or esoteric knowledge.
Here are the major ARCANE ARCHIVE directories you can visit:
interdisciplinary: geometry, natural proportion, ratio, archaeoastronomy
mysticism: enlightenment, self-realization, trance, meditation, consciousness
occultism: divination, hermeticism, amulets, sigils, magick, witchcraft, spells
religion: buddhism, christianity, hinduism, islam, judaism, taoism, wicca, voodoo
societies and fraternal orders: freemasonry, golden dawn, rosicrucians, etc.


There are thousands of web pages at the ARCANE ARCHIVE. You can use ATOMZ.COM
to search for a single word (like witchcraft, hoodoo, pagan, or magic) or an
exact phrase (like Kwan Yin, golden ratio, or book of shadows):

Search For:
Match:  Any word All words Exact phrase


Southern Spirits: 19th and 20th century accounts of hoodoo, including slave narratives & interviews
Hoodoo in Theory and Practice by cat yronwode: an introduction to African-American rootwork
Lucky W Amulet Archive by cat yronwode: an online museum of worldwide talismans and charms
Sacred Sex: essays and articles on tantra yoga, neo-tantra, karezza, sex magic, and sex worship
Sacred Landscape: essays and articles on archaeoastronomy, sacred architecture, and sacred geometry
Lucky Mojo Forum: practitioners answer queries on conjure; sponsored by the Lucky Mojo Curio Co.
Herb Magic: illustrated descriptions of magic herbs with free spells, recipes, and an ordering option
Association of Independent Readers and Rootworkers: ethical diviners and hoodoo spell-casters
Freemasonry for Women by cat yronwode: a history of mixed-gender Freemasonic lodges
Missionary Independent Spiritual Church: spirit-led, inter-faith, the Smallest Church in the World
Satan Service Org: an archive presenting the theory, practice, and history of Satanism and Satanists
Gospel of Satan: the story of Jesus and the angels, from the perspective of the God of this World
Lucky Mojo Usenet FAQ Archive: FAQs and REFs for occult and magical usenet newsgroups
Candles and Curios: essays and articles on traditional African American conjure and folk magic
Aleister Crowley Text Archive: a multitude of texts by an early 20th century ceremonial occultist
Spiritual Spells: lessons in folk magic and spell casting from an eclectic Wiccan perspective
The Mystic Tea Room: divination by reading tea-leaves, with a museum of antique fortune telling cups
Yronwode Institution for the Preservation and Popularization of Indigenous Ethnomagicology
Yronwode Home: personal pages of catherine yronwode and nagasiva yronwode, magical archivists
Lucky Mojo Magic Spells Archives: love spells, money spells, luck spells, protection spells, etc.
      Free Love Spell Archive: love spells, attraction spells, sex magick, romance spells, and lust spells
      Free Money Spell Archive: money spells, prosperity spells, and wealth spells for job and business
      Free Protection Spell Archive: protection spells against witchcraft, jinxes, hexes, and the evil eye
      Free Gambling Luck Spell Archive: lucky gambling spells for the lottery, casinos, and races