A Tantric Commentary on the Gnostic Mass
A Tantric Commentary on the Gnostic Mass
I will begin my commentary with honesty. I have been a Thelemite since the early 1970s and have seen many many different presentations of the Gnostic Mass. One of the best was a very smoke-filled one run by Grady McMurtry wherein the priestess literally descended from heaven. Each presentation of the Mass I have seen was interesting for a reason, though some were more professional or more magickal or more intense then others. Likewise the cakes of light have ranged from sublime to inedible and the settings from cosmic to filthy, but in the end I have never felt the intensity from the Mass that I have experienced through many other rituals Crowley wrote. I (and a number of small magickal groups I have worked with) have found such rituals as Liber Samech or the Rite according to W. the Seer to be far more useful in my Gnostic endeavors and I frankly never really understood the obsessive attraction the Gnostic Mass held for many people. Over the four+ decades that I have been deeply involved in Magick, including an on-going and in-depth exploration of Liber AL, the Caliphate OTO increasingly made the Gnostic Mass a central part of it’s core offerings at the various and ever-growing lodges and temples. As the Caliphate OTO became THE OTO this focus seemed to grow. It was a bit of a mystery to me.
As an ex-member of the Typhonian OTO and open source Thelemite, I have enjoyed the company of many OTO members over the years and while not a member I consider myself a ‘fellow traveler’ and very much in-sync with what the OTO as a whole is doing in bring the ‘Law to All.’. However, I have never been a Catholic or even much of a Christian and I don’t really buy into the divinity of Crowley, seeing him more as a channel of the new aeon and not so much as a messiah. I also tend see Thelema as less a religion and more of a Path or Way. All of this to say that the clear ‘churchiness’ of the Mass, the ecclesiastical patterns of it, the ‘communion’ and such never really excited me nor did it spark much of that internal fire of power and gnosis that comes from deep activation of archetypal imagery and symbols, something I seek and often find in other rituals. Yet so many people seemed fixated on this one ritual and it was and is such a cornerstone of the OTO, that over the years I have continued to drop in and enjoy a Mass now and then, enjoyed the poetry and (of course) the quotes from AL but still wondered at it’s, for want of a better word, intrinsic function as a magickal generator.
Recently, I attended a Gnostic Mass and had a very different experience that caused me to reassess the ritual in terms of mythic and magickal function as well as to reevaluate my opinion of it’s efficiency and symbolism through a different lens that made things much clearer and more relevant for me. I have pondered this new web of meaning and decided that it was worth an article, thus this reexamination and ramble. I want to thank Soror O and Frater A for their crackerjack performance of the Gnostic Mass that utterly changed my view of it.
Three things were very different in this mass that I think led to my illumination.
First, the priestess/priest are in a very deep and committed love relationship. This is, to my mind, a crucial element in making the Gnostic Mass really ‘light up’ and offer the gnosis that it should.
Second, I knew many of the people there and the excitement brought to the temple was intense for several reasons; it was a new and beautiful temple space, everyone was excited and proud of it and a period of joking and hilarity erupted before the ritual. This ‘unbinding’ or energized enthusiasm (a bit of Pan Chaos) provided a pool of unfocused Shakti that was very much a kind of ‘starter’ to the ritual.
Third, the priest and priestess are well liked; everyone was focused on them intently and willed that they do well. This channeling of group energy through a priestess/priestess is clearly another key ingredient in making the fission that happens in the ritual work.
Before I go further and get into some specifics on what this means from my point of view and extrapolating what worked and why (the methods of science, the aim of religion!) I need to sketch out the lens through which I participated in and viewed the Gnostic Mass. This shift in perspective, which happened maybe 20 minutes into the mass, was pivotal in terms of my new view of things.
I am a Tantric as well as being a Thelemite. I received initiation into the Nath Sampradhya or lineage of Tantrika in 1980. This path has been and still is a major focus of all my Work and along with my other initiations and experiences, it colors my view of Magick in what I see as an ancient but very elegant manner. Shri Guru Dadaji Mahendranath was the last holder of several initiations, and passed these to several people in the West with a new aeon twist and re-clarification that is very suited to Thelema. In fact, he studied under Crowley for several years before he died, mostly focusing on the I Ching, but references themes and ideas that any Thelemite will easily recognize can be seen in his works. For further reference, please see www.shivashakti.com.
In any event, some of the terminology I will use is decidedly Tantric and the reason I do so is to prove my main thesis here, which I’m sure you were wondering about. To wit: The Gnostic Mass was Crowley’s version of the Kaula Kula or Chakra, the Tantric version of communion via the joining of Kali (Nuit) and Shiva (Hadit) but in a Western occult (Judeo-Christian influenced) mythic framework. Keep in mind that Crowley spent many years in and out of India and and has adapted many core practices from Tantrika and Vedanta such as Yoga, Pranayama and so on. He was intensely eclectic, but also had a Western occult bias, so in the Mass we see Instead of the Lingam & Yoni, the center of most Kaula (Tantric) Kula rites, the lance and the grail.
Yet in both cases, the priestess is naked and the vehicle for Shakti and the male and female symbols are venerated as is the sacred marriage. In Kaula rites the Linga and the Yoni are always worshipped. In the case of the Gnostic Mass, the Lance is clearly worshipped (and stroked!), as is the Yoni. Every Tantric Kaula Kula (in-group) has a Murti or image on the altar, usually of Shiva and Shakti/Kali conjoined and the altar has elemental symbols and offerings. In the Gnostic Mass The Murti is the Stele of Revealing that clearly shows Nuit (Shakti or Kali) conjoined with Hadit (Shiva or Bindu-Atman) Horus is the child of this union and, as such, also fits into the Tantric cosmology quite well in that the union of Shiva & Shakti is the activated Kundulini or serpent power, the serpent that ‘burns upon the brow’ of the priestess and priestess and which the Priestess actually places upon the head of the priest after ‘union’ has occurred.
It should be obvious that I had quite a minor revelation while taking the Mass and managed, I felt, to get past the old Masonic and Christian symbolism to pierce the real heart of this experience. Again, this is a completely subjective experience and I make absolutely no claims of validity or authority. My hope is that those deeply involved in the Gnostic Mass will find my comments of interest.
In the end, as Crowley mentions, the ‘biological origins of all religion’ take us back to the same place. Lance and Grail are later versions of the Linga and Yoni, which can be traced back to Dravidian pre-Aryan Tantric, practices some 6-10 thousand years ago. The Priestess adored on the altar is very much the Shakti of any Kaula Chakra being adored and anointed as the personified Goddess as the Priest is anointed and empowered as the personified God. The union of Shiva/Shakti is the primal union of Yin & Yang as well as the union of the Priest and Priestess of the Gnostic Mass. It is absolutely inconsequential how these things are dressed up as long as the core power is manifested, the tension (there is where the chaos/shakti energy comes in) is escalated and the final union/orgasm (real or symbolic) is then offered. The final stage of even the tamest Hindu Puja, mostly pale reflections of the more overtly Tantric pujas, is the transpiring and focusing of this god/goddess shakti or prakriti (in physical form as Kalas or divine emanations of the priestess, either in energetic or physical form) in something that can be shared. In Tantrika this is prasad, something now holy that is eaten after the union has occurred, in the Gnostic Mass the Prasad is the cakes of light and the wine. It is interesting to note that the cakes of light contain what Kaulas refer to as ‘Kalas’ or charged sexual elixir.
The final stage of the Gnostic Mass is very much the same as the end of a Tantric puja in that all commune and BECOME the god/goddess/union and so proclaim it to the world.
This then is my basic thesis, that the Gnostic Mass can be seen as a Western occult Kaula or Tantric puja used as a vehicle for channeling what many of us call the 93 current. As a Thelemite and Tantric, I do not see the 93 current as solely generated or channeled through Crowley or even just the Book of the Law. I see it as an on-going magickal current that is channeled by anyone does his or her True Will. As such, I think there are a variety of magickal and ritual vehicles for doing this. Much of Gurudev Dadaji’s work until he passed away was in taking the unbroken and very ancient magickal lineages of Tantrika and adapting them to channel this new aeonic energy. I think it important to note that Theodore Reuss was immersed in Tantric mysteries (see his Lingam-Yoni; oder die Mysterien des Geschlechts-Kultus (1906)) and this is why Crowley both recognized and was in turn recognized as an adept who had a deep understanding of this ‘sacred marriage’ gnosis.
I see part of my ‘Work’ in terms of Magick as helping to bring the Tantric gnosis back into the Western Magickal Tradition in some small way. My new view of the Gnostic Mass brought much of this together for me, much as the lance entering the cup creates an explosive union of consciousness.
I will now go through the Gnostic Mass sections, quoting much of it, and clarify some comments while making a few other notes on how it unfolds for me as a Tantric communion. I think it is important in this regards to remember that the Sanskrit translation of ‘Tantra’ means a ‘holy book’ but also means ‘to weave.’ This seems an apt description of the Great Work to me and this energetic ‘weaving’ seems to be what the Gnostic Mass is all about.
Ecclesiæ Gnosticæ Catholicæ
OF THE FURNISHINGS OF THE TEMPLE
IN THE EAST , that is, in the direction of Boleskine, which is situated on the South-Eastern shore of Loch Ness in Scotland, two miles east of Foyers, is a shrine or High Altar. Its dimensions should be 7 feet in length, 3 feet in breadth, 44 inches in height. It should be covered with a crimson altar-cloth, on which may be embroidered fleur-de-lys in gold, or a sunblaze, or other suitable emblem. [On the Altar are placed the Priest's Robe and Crown.]
On each side of it should be a pillar or obelisk , with countercharges in black and white.
Below it should be the dais of three steps , in black and white squares.
Above it is the super-altar , at whose top is the Stèle of Revealing in reproduction, with four candles on each side of it. Below the stèle is a place for The Book of the Law , with six candles on each side of it. Below this again is the Holy Graal , with roses on each side of it. There is room in front of the Cup for the Paten . On each side beyond the roses are two great candles . [NOTE]
All this is enclosed within a great Veil.
Forming the apex of an equilateral triangle whose base is a line drawn between the pillars, is a small black square altar, of superimposed cubes.
Taking this altar as the middle of the base of a similar and equal triangle, at the apex of this second triangle is a small circular font.
Repeating, the apex of a third triangle is an upright coffin, or Tomb. [NOTE]
Crimson or red is the color of Shakti or the Goddess in Tantrika.
In Tantrika the Goddess is associated with the Sun and Shiva with the moon, so this too makes sense. The rose is a Western equivalent of the lotus (the Rose and Cross is the western equivalent of the Linga and Yoni).
The 5 elements are clearly represented along with the Murti (stele) and the ‘Tantra’ or Holy Book.
In Tantrika, the Shakti is often veiled and images of the goddess are often covered or veiled until the actual puja.
The repeated triangles can easily be said to reference Tripura or the thrice-aspected goddess. The square could reference the Bhupura or ‘fortress’ earth square base of every Yantra- in fact, the whole sequence above describes a yantra of magickal focus of the Goddess (triangle) and God (central Bindu point- Hadit.
The coffin is a symbol of death, such symbols are ever-present in Kaula Tantrika, Kali (meaning ‘time’ or ‘black’) personifies the mysteries of death and what is beyond, as does Nuit. Graveyards are holy to both Shiva (as Bhairav) and Kali.
OF THE OFFICERS OF THE MASS
The PRIEST . Bears the Sacred Lance , and is clothed at first in a plain white robe .
The PRIESTESS . Should be actually Virgo Intacta or specially dedicated to the service of the Great Order. She is clothed in white, blue, and gold. She bears the Sword from a red girdle , and the Paten and Hosts, or Cakes of Light .
The DEACON . He is clothed in white and yellow. He bears The Book of the Law .
Two CHILDREN . They are clothed in white and black. One bears a pitcher of water and a cellar of salt, the other a censer of fire and a casket of perfume .
Though color correspondences vary, I find the red girdle of the priestess and the white robe of the priest interesting in that two key colors in Tantrika are Red (the Goddess) and white (the God) for obvious biological reasons.
I also find it an interesting parallel (or hidden mystery by AC) that the ritualists imitate the ‘divine family’ of God, Goddess and two children. In Tantrika; Shiva, Shakti, Ganesh and Murugan.
OF THE CEREMONY OF THE INTROIT
The DEACON, opening the door of the Temple, admits the congregation and takes his stand between the small altar and the font. (There should be a doorkeeper to attend to the admission.)
The DEACON advances and bows before the open shrine where the Graal is exalted. He kisses The Book of the Law three times, opens it, and places it upon the super-altar. He turns West.
[ The Proclamation of the Law ]
The DEACON: Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law. [Liber AL I:40]
I proclaim the Law of Light, Life, Love, and Liberty in the name of IAÔ .
The CONGREGATION: Love is the law, love under will. [Liber AL I:57]
The DEACON goes to his place between the altar of incense and the font, [directs the congregation to rise,] faces East, and gives the step and sign of a Man and a Brother . All imitate him.
[ The Creed (Credo) ]
The DEACON and all the PEOPLE: I believe in one secret and ineffable LORD; and in one Star in the Company of Stars of whose fire we are created, and to which we shall return; and in one Father of Life, Mystery of Mystery, in His name CHAOS, the sole viceregent of the Sun upon the Earth; and in one Air the nourisher of all that breathes.
OM is the Lord, OM is Shiva or Atman.
The Star is Atman, the Guardian Spirit or Gu Ru (light from darkness), the company of stars is the Kula, the in-group or members of the Chakra. The fire is Prakriti, the primal form of Devi as the whirlwind fire of creation.
Shiva is also known as Rudra or Bhairav- called in many places CHAOS! Rudra means ‘the howler’!
And I believe in one Earth, the Mother of us all, and in one Womb wherein all men are begotten, and wherein they shall rest, Mystery of Mystery, in Her name BABALON.
The Earth is Maha Devi, the Great Mother, Babalon equates very nicely with Shakti, the ‘scarlet priestess’ in Tantrika.
And I believe in the Serpent and the Lion, Mystery of Mystery, in His name BAPHOMET.
The Lion Serpent in Tantrika is Kundulini and Baphomet is very much like the Tantric deity Ardaneshvara, the joined Shiva/Shakti as one uni-sexed being which is half male and half female.
And I believe in one Gnostic and Catholic Church of Light, Life, Love and Liberty, the Word of whose Law is THELÊMA.
Similar blessings are found in Tantrika and the word SVECCACHARA, a key word of power and affirmation in NathTantrika means precisely what Thelema means.
And I believe in the communion of Saints.
At the beginning of every puja the Honored Teachers, Honored Dead and Ancestors are invoked, especially invoked is the ‘crystal linage’ of initiation. The Nath lineage is said to go back to the founder, all the way back to Shiva. This honoring of the Gurus or Saints is not so different. The point is to tap into all the channelers of the gnosis in one’s extended magickal ‘family’ i.e.: Kula.
And, forasmuch as meat and drink are transmuted in us daily into spiritual substance, I believe in the Miracle of the Mass.
And I confess one Baptism of Wisdom whereby we accomplish the Miracle of Incarnation.
And I confess my life one, individual, and eternal that was, and is, and is to come.
AUMGN. AUMGN. AUMGN.
Many of these mysteries originate from ancient Indian thought and Tantrika ritual: reincarnation, eternal return and OM!
Crowley’s expansion of OM or AUM to AUMGN has a very real basis in mantra magick in the Tantric tradition I received. The fact that AUMGN =93 and is also part of initiated aural Tantric tradition says a lot to me.
[ The Entry of the Priestess and Children ]
Music is now played. The child enters with the ewer and the salt. The VIRGIN enters with the Sword and the Paten. The child enters with the censer and the perfume. They face the DEACON, deploying into line, from the space between the two altars.
The VIRGIN: Greeting of Earth and Heaven!
All give the Hailing Sign of a Magician , the DEACON leading.
The PRIESTESS , the negative child on her left, the positive child on her right, ascends the steps of the High Altar. They await her below . She places the Paten before the Graal. Having adored it, she descends, and with the children following her, the positive next her, she moves in a serpentine manner involving 3 and a half circles of the Temple . (Deosil about altar, widdershins about font, deosil about altar and font, widdershins about altar, and so to the Tomb in the West.) She draws her Sword and pulls down the Veil therewith.
The symbolically negative and positive children are ever-present reminders of yin/yang, Shiva/Shakti, Heaven/Earth. Nothing is possible without the balance of the two oles of the magickal universe, and of course the real power is that 2=0.
The Goddess Kali Ma or Durga is always shown wielding the sword of truth and renunciation, and of Will it must be said. In Tantrika it is the Goddess who has and is Power, it is Shiva who earths and shapes, calms and manifests it. He is the ‘axle and the cube’ that is, the nexus, Linga or axis about which all of Maya (Shakti) revolves, manifesting and unmanifesting.
[ The Entry of the Priest ]
The PRIESTESS: By the power of Iron , I say unto thee, Arise. In the name of our Lord the Sun, and of our Lord ... , that thou mayst administer the virtues to the Brethren.
She sheathes the Sword.
The PRIEST, issuing from the Tomb, holding the Lance erect with both hands, right over left, against his breast, takes the first three regular steps . He then gives the Lance to the PRIESTESS, and gives the three penal signs .
He then kneels and worships the Lance with both hands.
[ The Confession of the Priest ]
The PRIEST: I am a man among men.
He takes again the Lance, and lowers it. He rises.
The PRIEST: How should I be worthy to administer the virtues to the Brethren?
[ The Lustration of the Priest ]
All of this is phallic in nature, Pan or Shiva energy is invoked to begin the centering of the magicks. In many pujas, after Ganesh, it is Shiva who is invoked, then the Goddess.
The PRIESTESS takes from the child the water and the salt, and mixes them in the font.
The PRIESTESS: Let the salt of Earth admonish the water to bear the virtue of the Great Sea. (Genuflects.) Mother, be thou adored.
She returns to the West. on PRIEST with open hand doth she make, over his forehead, breast, and body.
Be the PRIEST pure of body and soul!
[ The Consecration of the Priest ]
The PRIESTESS takes the censer from the child, and places it on the small altar. She puts incense therein.
Let the Fire and the Air make sweet the world! (Genuflects.)
Father, be thou adored.
She returns West, and makes with the censer before the PRIEST, thrice as before.
Be the PRIEST fervent of body and soul!
(The children resume their weapons as they are done with.)
[ The Vesture of the Priest ]
The DEACON now takes the consecrated Robe from High Altar, and brings it to her. She robes the PRIEST in his Robe of scarlet and gold.
Be the flame of the Sun thine ambience , O thou PRIEST of the SUN!
[ The Coronation of the Priest ]
The DEACON brings the crown from the High Altar. (The crown may be of gold or platinum, or of electrum magicum; but with no other metals, save the small proportions necessary to a proper alloy. It may be adorned with divers jewels, at will But it must have the Uraeus serpent twined about it, and the cap of maintenance must match the scarlet of the Robe. Its texture should be velvet.)
[She places the cap of maintenance and crown upon the head of the PRIEST.]
Be the Serpent thy crown, O thou PRIEST of the LORD!
This is a sublime Tantric mystery to me, the Priestess IS Shakti, the Kundulini, with Shiva in ecstatic ‘dance’ she raises the Kundulini power and crowns him with this serpent symbol. (Lord Naga or Kundalini) Again, she is the dynamo, the energy, Shiva centers or raises it or earths it, like the central bindu in the Yantra or Hadit within Nuit. Shiva is often referred to as the Lingam of divine flame with to top and no bottom.
[ The Consecration of the Lance, and the Invocation of the Lord ]
Kneeling, she takes the Lance, between her open hands, and runs them up and down upon the shaft eleven times, very gently.
Be the LORD present among us!
Om Namah Shivaya!
All give the Hailing Sign. [All should be standing at this point.]
The PEOPLE: So mote it be.
OF THE CEREMONY OF THE OPENING OF THE VEIL
[ The Raising of the Priestess ]
The PRIEST: Thee therefore whom we adore we also invoke. By the power of the lifted Lance!
He raises the Lance. All repeat Hailing Sign.
A phrase of triumphant music.
`Om Namah Shivaya, Hail to the the Shiva Linga! Haditya! Om (LVX) in Extension!
The PRIEST takes the PRIESTESS by her right hand with his left, keeping the Lance raised.
I, PRIEST and KING, take thee, Virgin pure without spot; I upraise thee; I lead thee to the East; I set thee upon the summit of the Earth.
-In Tantrika and in Hinduism the great forces of creation, Yin and Yang, Shiva and Shakti, are often shown living on top of a Mountain. Called Kalilash or Mt. Meru, it is actually in ritual symbolized by the Shri Yantra (in 3d form it is Mt. Meru) It seems to me that the whole Mountain like construction of the Gnostic Mass altar is approximating this and the priestess being ‘placed’ atop Meru by the priest (Shiva) and thus adored from then on actually imitates very closely some Kaula rituals where the Shakti is placed on a dais in the center of the Yantra/circle and, usually naked with magickal oils and jewelry and symbols upon her, is adored by the Kula (in group, adepts) as the manifestation of the Goddess herself.
He thrones the PRIESTESS upon the altar. The DEACON and the children follow, they in rank, behind him. The PRIESTESS takes The Book of the Law, resumes her seat, and holds it open on her breast with her two hands, making a descending triangle with thumbs and forefingers. [The people may sit.]
The PRIEST gives the lance to the DEACON to hold, and takes the ewer from the child, and sprinkles the PRIESTESS, making five crosses, forehead, shoulders, and thighs.
5 crosses can be somewhat equated with the Panchatattva- the 5 elements but also the 5 offerings to the goddess, each corresponding to both a food and/or a sexual practice.
The thumb of the PRIEST is always between his index and medius, whenever he is not holding the Lance. The PRIEST takes the censer from the child, and makes five crosses, as before. The children replace their weapons on their respective altars.
The PRIEST kisses The Book of the Law three times. [NOTE] He kneels for a space in adoration, with joined hands, knuckles closed, thumb in position aforesaid.
He rises, and draws the veil over the whole altar.
[ The Circumambulation of the Temple ]
All rise and stand to order[at the direction of the Deacon].
The PRIEST takes the lance from the DEACON, and holds it as before, as Osiris or Phthah . He circumambulates the Temple three times, followed by the DEACON and the children as before. ( These, when not using their hands, keep their arms crossed upon their breasts. )
[ The Ascent to the Veil ]
Circumambulation is a Tantric practice that can be seen in sculptures thousands of years old. The circling of the Sacred Mountain, or Stupa, or Linga or holy Tree is exceedingly important in Tantrika, and three is a common number in rituals both Tantric and Buddhist.
The Lance is the Linga or the Vajra, both Ptah and Osiris can be seen as masks of Shiva.
At the last circumambulation they leave him, and go to the place between the font and the small altar, where they kneel in adoration , their hands joined palm to palm, and raised above their heads.
All [the People] imitate this motion.
[ The Priest's First Oration Before the Veil ]
The PRIEST returns to the East, and mounts the first step of the altar.
The PRIEST: O circle of Stars whereof our Father is but the younger brother, marvel beyond imagination, soul of infinite space, before whom Time is Ashamed, the mind bewildered, and the understanding dark, not unto Thee may we attain, unless Thine image be Love. Therefore by seed and root and stem and bud and leaf and flower and fruit do we invoke Thee.
"Then the priest answered & said unto the Queen of Space, kissing her lovely brows, and the dew of her light bathing his whole body in a sweet-smelling perfume of sweat; O Nuit, continuous one of Heaven, let it be ever thus; that men speak not of thee as One but as None; and let them speak not of thee at all, since thou art continuous!" [Liber AL, I:27]
So much of this imagery can be found in tantric adorations of the Goddess…She is truly universal and whether she is called Shri or Shakti, Lakshmi or Parvati, Kali or Durga, she is also Nuit. KALI = 61- AIN.
[ The Priestess's Oration From Behind the Veil ]
During this speech the PRIESTESS must have divested herself completely of her robe. See CCXX I:62.
The PRIESTESS: "But to love me is better than all things; if under the night-stars in the desert thou presently burnest mine incense before me, invoking me with a pure heart, and the serpent flame therein, thou shalt come a little to lie in my bosom. For one kiss wilt thou then be willing to give all; but whoso gives one particle of dust shall lose all in that hour. Ye shall gather goods and store of women and spices; ye shall wear rich jewels; ye shall exceed the nations of the earth in splendour and pride; but always in the love of me, and so shall ye come to my joy. I charge you earnestly to come before me in a single robe, and covered with a rich head-dress. I love you! I yearn to you! Pale or purple, veiled or voluptuous, I who am all pleasure and purple, and drunkenness of the innermost sense, desire you. Put on the wings, and arouse the coiled splendour within you: come unto me!" [Liber AL, I:61] "To me! To me!" [Liber AL, I:62] "Sing the rapturous love-song unto me! Burn to me perfumes! Wear to me jewels! Drink to me, for I love you! I love you. I am the blue-lidded daughter of sunset; I am the naked brilliance of the voluptuous night-sky. To me! To me!" [Liber AL, I:63-65]
[ The Priest's Second Oration Before the Veil ]
And so The Tantric Goddess replies to Shiva Hadit- remembering that the Bindu or point of essence in the center of every Yantra is Hadit and is Atma-Shiva. So, the full expansion of every Yantra, the great goddess Maha Devi in all her many forms from simple inverted triangle (Kali) to the fully extended Shri Yantra (Shri) is and always has been a symbol of Nuit. The star of Babalon is but a yantra and can be easily used as such in Thelemic Tantric rituals.
It is also interesting to note the prose pattern here is similar to a traditional Tantra. In general, the real and ancient ‘tantras’ (texts) are a conversation between Shiva and Shakti, the God and Goddess, seated upon Mt. Meru. If it is a Shakta (more Shaivite) tantra, Shiva is usually holding forth to Shakti, teaching this or that. If it is a Shakti cult tantra, it is the Goddess who is teaching Shiva. Many of us tend towards this lineage. The Gnostic Mass is thus clearly, from a tantric viewpoint, a ‘Shakti’ tantra.
The PRIEST mounts the second step.
The PRIEST: O secret of secrets that art hidden in the being of all that lives, not Thee do we adore, for that which adoreth is also Thou. Thou art That, and That am I.
This echos the very popular tantric mantra ‘Tat Tvam Asi’ (I am That) which Crowley knew about and has mentioned in his writings: The identification directly with all things follows Nuit’s advise to ‘make no difference.’
"I am the flame that burns in every heart of man, and in the core of every star. I am Life, and the giver of Life; yet therefore is the knowledge of me the knowledge of death." [Liber AL, II:6] "I am alone; there is no God where I am." [Liber AL, II:23]
[ The Calendar ]
The DEACON and all rise to their feet, with the Hailing sign.
The DEACON: "But ye, O my people rise up and awake!
"Let the rituals be rightly performed with joy and beauty!
"There are rituals of the elements and feasts of the times.
"A feast for the first night of the Prophet and his Bride!
"A feast for the three days of the writing of the Book of the Law."
A feast for Tahuti and the children of the Prophet -- secret, O Prophet!
"A feast for the Supreme Ritual , and a feast for the Equinox of the Gods.
"A feast for fire and a feast for water; a feast for life and a greater feast for death!
"A feast every day in your hearts in the joy of my rapture!
"A feast every night unto Nu, and the pleasure of uttermost delight!" [Liber AL, II:34-43.]
[The People may resume their seats.]
[ The Priest's Third Oration Before the Veil ]
Tantra is about weaving all the senses into a Way of joy and bliss and enlightenment, it as is AL is of the left hand path of embracing the joys and senses as a path of spiritual attainment as opposed to denial.
Tantrika celebrates: All pujas require the real or symbolic presence of the 5 elements. ‘The Times’ are celebrated in an ancient of series of festivals based on gods and cycles, like Diwali, the great Goddess Festival of lights. The Tehlemic Tantric chooses which traditional festivals to celebrat, but one is Shiva Ratri, the celebration of the sacred marriage of Shiva and Shakti (Parvati)- that is, of every Prophet (Shakta) and his Bride (Shakti. )As such it is also the Supreme Ritual )(sex magick) The equinix of the gods, the changing of an aeon, is part of the Tantrick Schema but this aeon or Kalpa is the Aeon of Kali according to Hinduism. Yet as Kali and Nuit and the Great Goddess Babalon arise in this new age, SHE brings forth the new Child (Horus or Kalki).
There are Tantric feasts for water and fire, for life/birth and for death. The smashan or cremation ground echoes in AL.III and in Tantrika.
The PRIEST mounts the third step.
The PRIEST: Thou that art One, our Lord in the Universe the Sun, our Lord in ourselves whose name is Mystery of Mystery, uttermost being whose radiance enlightening the worlds is also the breath that maketh every God even and Death to tremble before Thee -- By the Sign of Light appear Thou glorious upon the throne of the Sun. [NOTE]
Make open the path of creation and of intelligence between us and our minds. Enlighten our understanding.
Encourage our hearts. Let thy light crystallize itself in our blood, fulfilling us of Resurrection. [NOTE]
This is one of the most interesting and sublime connections with the inner tantric mysteries encoded in the Gnostic Mass. In traditional western occultism the Sun is male and Moon is female. In Tantra this is reversed; As Shiva is the reflection of the Lunar currents (see the crescent moon in his hair?) and is the Lord of Chaos or Change (as the moon is always changing) so is Shakti or Lakshmi or Kali often symbolized as the Sun and the golden solar power is thus the power of the Goddess. Gauri (golden one) is another of her names. Here we clearly see that the Priestess who is Babalon (Gate of the sun) is recognized as such clearly.
A ka dua
Tuf ur biu
Bi a'a chefu
Dudu nur af an nuteru. [NOTE]
The PRIESTESS: "There is no law beyond Do what thou wilt. " [Liber AL, III:60.]
[ The Opening of the Veil ]
The PRIEST parts the veil with his lance. During the previous speeches the PRIESTESS has, if necessary, as in savage countries , resumed her robe.
The PRIEST: IÔ IÔ IÔ IAÔ SABAÔ
KURIE ABRASAX KURIE MEITHRAS KURIE PHALLE .
IÔ PAN, IÔ PAN PAN IÔ ISKHUROS, IÔ ATHANATOS IÔ ABROTOS IÔ IAÔ.
KHAIRE PHALLE KHAIRE PAMPHAGE KHAIRE PANGENETÔR.
HAGIOS, HAGIOS, HAGIOS IAÔ.
Phalle phalle …..Linga Linga….Io Pan, Pashupati Shiva, Lord of Beasts…..The sacred marriage of Lingam/Yoni! Om Shanti Shiva Shakti!
The PRIESTESS is seated with the Paten in her right hand and the cup in her left. [She then sets them down, the Paten to her left, the Cup to her right.]
The PRIEST presents the Lance, which she kisses eleven times.
She then holds it to her breast, while the PRIEST, falling at her knees, kisses them, his arms stretched along her thighs. He remains in this adoration while the DEACON intones the Collects.
All stand to order, with the Dieu Garde , that is, feet square, hands, with linked thumbs, held loosely. This is the universal position when standing, unless other direction is given.
In Tantrika we call this a Linga Puja, the offering of the five substances to the Linga where the Linga, sometimes with a real Shakta’s Ling! At some point, the linga is set within the Yoni of the Goddess, either symbolically or really. The priestess holds the Arti tray (Paten) and the holy pot (chalice) and offers both liquids and other offerings (5!) to the linga while chanting mantras. Quite similar in many ways.
OF THE OFFICE OF THE COLLECTS WHICH ARE ELEVEN IN NUMBER
The DEACON: Lord visible and sensible of whom this earth is but a frozen spark turning about thee with annual and diurnal motion, source of light, source of life, let thy perpetual radiance hearten us to continual labour and enjoyment; so that as we are constant partakers of thy bounty we may in our particular orbit give out light and life, sustenance and joy to them that revolve about us without diminution of substance or effulgence for ever.
The PEOPLE: So mote it be.
In Tantrika solar power as a symbol can be seen as Sattvas, the quality of purity, light, higher cognitive powers and shining spirituality.
The DEACON: Lord secret and most holy, source of light, source of life, source of love, source of liberty, be thou ever constant and mighty within us, force of energy, fire of motion; with diligence let us ever labour with thee, that we may remain in thine abundant joy.
The PEOPLE: So mote it be.
The reflection of Sattvas here is the Holy, Secret, Source of Life, Energy, Motion and Joy- Shiva/Hadit
The DEACON: Lady of night, that turning ever about us art now visible and now invisible in thy season, be thou favourable to hunters, and lovers, and to all men that toil upon the earth, and to all mariners upon the sea.
The PEOPLE: So mote it be.
The Moon is the symbol of Tamas- the lunar, heavy, earthing aspects of alchemy, the Yin to the Yang of Sattvas
The DEACON: Giver and receiver of joy, gate of life and love, be thou ever ready, thou and thine handmaiden, in thine office of gladness.
The PEOPLE: So mote it be.
The lunar power Tamas is the Mercural RNA to Shiva’s DNA, the medium, the dance, the swirl of ever circling Nu Stars becoming to the coagula of Shiva/Hadit
The DEACON: Lord of Life and Joy, that art the might of man, that art the essence of every true god that is upon the surface of the Earth, continuing knowledge from generation unto generation, thou adored of us upon heaths and in woods, on mountains and in caves, openly in the marketplaces and secretly in the chambers of our houses, in temples of gold and ivory and marble as in these other temples of our bodies, we worthily commemorate them worthy that did of old adore thee and manifest they glory unto men,
Rajas is the fire that united sun and moon, the image of the three united being a common symbol of Nath Tantrika. This Rajas or spirit of going, action, the outward manifesting of Svecchara or True Will n action. Every Man and Every Woman is a Star is a truth in Tantra as well as Thelema and nothing unites and manifests the sacred marriage of Shiva and Shakti more than the ‘saints’ or adepts who have become gods or Devi.
The DEACON: Mother of fertility on whose breast lieth water, whose cheek is caressed by air, and in whose heart is the sun's fire, womb of all life, recurring grace of seasons, answer favorably the prayer of labour, and to pastors and husbandmen be thou propitious.
The PEOPLE: So mote it be.
The Yantra of all things, the Mandala of all alchemy and magick, the first and primal entity- Known as Shri, Maha Devi or further as Uma, Parvati, Lakshmi….the Great Mother Earth is venerated in Tantra and has been for thousands of years. Tantrika is, in my opinion, a Goddess Path as is, in my opinion, Thelema.
The DEACON: Mysterious Energy, triform ,
Tripura, Trimurti, Tri-aspected- the Great Shakti has always had this name in Tantrika- the most primal Kali Mantra of three pointed triangle inverted clearly shows this mystery- also, the Three Shaktis: Knowledge, Will and Action as well as the Three Gunas- it should be noted that Shiva is the Destroyer of the 3 Worlds – that is, he breaks the illusion of matter, energy and spirit and opens the three zones of the body .
mysterious Matter, in fourfold
Bhupura or the square base also seen as a palace with four gates, is the base of every temple, every yantra and every altar. The Lingam/Yoni are always placed upon the square of Earth.
and sevenfold division,
The Chakras, originating in pre Aryan (Dravidian or Tantric) practices.
the interplay of which things weave the dance of the Veil of Life upon the Face of the Spirit, let there be Harmony and Beauty in your mystic loves, that in us may be health and wealth and strength and divine pleasure according to the Law of Liberty; let each pursue his Will as a strong man that rejoiceth in his way, as the course of a Star that blazeth for ever among the joyous company of Heaven.
The PEOPLE: So mote it be.
The old Sanskrit blessing, which Crowley knew well, is echoed here; HEALTH, WEALTH,PROSPERITY (strength) AND LIBERATION (ecstasy!)
The DEACON: Be the hour auspicious, and the gate of life open in peace and in well-being, so that she that beareth children may rejoice, and the babe catch life with both hands.
The PEOPLE: So mote it be.
The DEACON: Upon all that this day unite with love under will let fall success; may strength and skill unite to bring forth ecstasy, and beauty answer beauty.
The PEOPLE: So mote it be.
All stand, Head erect, Eyes open.
The DEACON: Term of all that liveth, whose name is inscrutable, be favourable unto us in thine hour.
The PEOPLE: So mote it be.
The three stages of life often connected with Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva – Creation, Preservation/Expansion, Destruction. And all are the Goddess- as Kali herself says: ‘I am the beginning, the middle and the end.”
The DEACON: Unto them from whose eyes the veil of life hath fallen may there be granted the accomplishment of their true Wills; whether they will absorption in the Infinite, or to be united with their chosen and preferred, or to be in contemplation, or to be at peace, or to achieve the labour and heroism of incarnation on this planet or another, or in any Star, or aught else, unto them may there be granted the accomplishment of their wills; yea, the accomplishment of their wills.
AUMGN. AUMGN. AUMGN.
The PEOPLE: So mote it be.
May the third eye of Shiva be opened, may the veil of ignorance be burned away, may the adept through sadhana (magickal practice) pursue sveccachara or the path of true will
OM (here spelled out AUMGN approximating a key mystery in Tantrika)
We attune with the core vibration and mystery- OM! Here, Thelema and Tantrika meet.
All [the People] sit.
The DEACON and the children attend the PRIEST and PRIESTESS, ready to hold any appropriate weapon as may be necessary.
OF THE CONSECRATION OF THE ELEMENTS
[The PRIESTESS picks up the Cup and Paten.]
The PRIEST makes the five crosses . 3
2 on paten and cup; 4 on paten alone; 5 on cup alone.
The PRIEST: Life of man upon earth, fruit of labour, sustenance of endeavour, thus be thou nourishment of the Spirit!
He touches the Host with the Lance.
By the virtue of the Rod!
Be this bread the Body of God!
[He hands the Lance to the Deacon.]
He takes the Host.
TOUTO ESTI TO SÔMA MOU.
He [replaces Host,] kneels, adores, rises, [takes Paten and Host,] turns, shows Host to the PEOPLE [holding the Paten beneath it], turns, replaces [Paten and] Host, and adores. Music.
He takes the Cup.
Vehicle of the joy of Man upon earth, solace of labour, inspiration of endeavour, thus be thou ecstasy of the Spirit!
He touches the Cup with the Lance.
By the virtue of the Rod!
Be this wine the Blood of God!
He [hands the Lance to the Deacon and] takes the Cup.
TOUTO ESTI TO POTÊRION TOU HAIMATOS MOU.
He [replaces the Cup,] kneels, adores, rises, [takes the Cup,] turns, shows the Cup to the PEOPLE, turns replaces the Cup, and adores. Music.
[He takes the Lance.]
For this is the Covenant of Resurrection.
He makes the five crosses on the PRIESTESS.
Accept, O LORD, this sacrifice of life [indicates Host] and joy [indicates Cup], true warrants of the Covenant of Resurrection.
The PRIEST offers the Lance to the PRIESTESS, who kisses it; he then touches her between the breasts and upon the body. He then flings out his arms upward, as comprehending the whole shrine.
Let this offering be borne upon the waves of Æthyr to our Lord and Father the Sun that travelleth over the Heavens in his name ON.
He closes his hands, kisses the PRIESTESS between the breasts, and makes three great crosses over the Paten, the Cup, and himself. He strikes his breast. All repeat this action.
Hear ye all, saints of the true church of old time now essentially present , that of ye we claim heirship, with ye we claim communion, from ye we claim benediction in the name of IAÔ.
He makes three crosses on Paten and Cup together. [He hands the Lance to the Deacon.] He uncovers the Cup, genuflects, takes the Cup in his left hand and the Host in his right. With the Host he makes the five crosses on the Cup.
Obviously we have series of Gnostic Greek words of power, but “this is my body and this is my blood” in this ritual set of actions corresponds with the sacred marriage of the Shakti and the Shiva, the Tantrikas or Kaulas physically uniting after enflaming the five senses as also symbolized by the panchatattva or five sacred substances taken before union. As the adepts BECOME Shiva/Shakti, their Kalas or emanations imbue the sacred substances (Prasad) with cosmic energies and so it does become the Body and Blood (Kalas/Sperm) and this is united in the Elixir called in Greek IAO (Isis-Shakti, Osirus- Shiva, Apophis- Kundulini) also symbolized by the combined sun/moon/fire symbol.
He elevates the Host and the Cup. The Bell strikes.
[ The Trisagion or Sanctus ]
HAGIOS HAGIOS HAGIOS IAÔ!
He replaces the Host and the Cup, and adores. [NOTE]
[The Priest takes the Lance. The Deacon returns to his usual station.]
OF THE OFFICE OF THE ANTHEM
Thou who art I, beyond all I am,
Who hast no nature and no name,
Who art, when all but Thou are gone,
Thou, centre and secret of the Sun,
Thou, hidden spring of all things known
And unknown, Thou aloof, alone,
Thou, the true fire within the reed
Brooding and breeding, source and seed
Of life, love, liberty, and light,
Thou beyond speech and beyond sight,
Thee I invoke, my faint fresh fire
Kindling as mine intents aspire.
Thee I invoke, abiding one,
Thee, centre and secret of the Sun,
And that most holy mystery
Of which the vehicle am I.
Appear, most awful and most mild,
As it is lawful, in thy child!
When all is said and done, it is ATMAN or the secret centered self who is the Star of the adept that remains- as Shiva is Shava (dead) without Shakti, when the essences are combined, a Magickal Child or Star is created. Called OM, Atman etc- it is beyond duality and is the light pervading all.
For of the Father and the Son
The Holy Spirit is the norm;
Male-female, quintessential, one,
Man-being veiled in Woman-form.
Glory and worship in the highest,
Thou Dove, mankind that deifiest,
Being that race, most royally run
To spring sunshine through winter storm.
Glory and worship be to Thee,
Sap of the world-ash, wonder-tree!
First Semichorus, MEN:
Glory to Thee from Gilded Tomb!
Second Semichorus, WOMEN:
Glory to Thee from Waiting Womb!
Glory to Thee from earth unploughed!
Glory to Thee from virgin vowed!
Glory to Thee, true Unity
Of the Eternal Trinity!
Glory to Thee, thou sire and dam
And self of I am that I am!
Glory to Thee, beyond all term,
Thy spring of sperm, thy seed and germ!
Glory to Thee, eternal Sun,
Thou One in Three, Thou Three in One!
Glory and worship be to Thee,
Sap of the world-ash, wonder-tree!
The hymn has a number of titles that are also exactly used in Tantra for Shiva and Shakti. A reading of any number of ‘108 names of Shiva’ or ‘108 names of Maha Devi’ will turn up sacred titles such as ‘Waiting womb’ or ‘Springing sperm’! The most interesting one to note is ‘Self of I am that I am’ which translates nicely into a description of the Atman, that which is self generate. See the ‘Avadhut Gita.’
OF THE MYSTIC MARRIAGE AND CONSUMMATION OF THE ELEMENTS
The PRIEST takes the Paten between the index and medius of the right hand.
The PRIESTESS clasps the Cup in her right hand.
[ The Blessing of the Elements ]
The PRIEST: Lord most secret, bless this spiritual food unto our bodies, bestowing upon us health and wealth and strength and joy and peace, and that fulfilment of will and of love under will that is perpetual happiness. [NOTE]
He makes with Paten and kisses it.
[He sets Paten on Altar and hands Lance to Priestess.]
[ The Fractio ]
He uncovers the Cup, genuflects, rises. Music.
He takes the Host, and breaks it over the Cup.
He replaces the right-hand portion in the Paten.
He breaks off a particle of the left-hand portion.
TOUTO ESTI TO SPERMA MOU. HO PATÊR ESTIN HO HUIOS DIA TO PNEUMA HAGION.
AUMGN. AUMGN. AUMGN.
He replaces the left-hand part of the Host.
[ The Consignatio and Commixto ]
In Tantrika this would be the final offering and blessing of the Prasad or imbued offering that is now of the gods. It affirmed and honored and again offered to the ultimate form of Shiva as beyond all- OM
The PRIESTESS extends the Lance-point with her left hand to receive the particle.
The PRIEST clasps the Cup in his left hand.
Together they depress the Lance-point in the Cup. [NOTE]
The PRIEST and the PRIESTESS: HRILIU .
The PRIEST takes the Lance.
The PRIESTESS covers the Cup.
[ The Epiklesis ]
The PRIEST [hands the Lance to the Priestess] genuflects, rises, bows, joins hands. He strikes his breast.
The PRIEST: O Lion and O Serpent that destroy the destroyer, be mighty among us.
O Lion and O Serpent that destroy the destroyer, be mighty among us.
O Lion and O Serpent that destroy the destroyer, be mighty among us. [NOTE]
The Lion Serpent in Tantrika is Kundulini, the Serpent that is Shakti as the energetic power of the physical body and also the serpent worn about the throat of Shiva, the symbol of his role of initiator of the mysteries. As such Shiva is honored as Nagaji, Snake Lord.
[ The Consummation of the Elements ]
The PRIEST joins hands upon the breast of the PRIESTESS, and takes back his Lance.
He turns to the People, lowers and raises the Lance, and makes upon them.
Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
Interesting to note here the various times the priestess and priest touch. The sacred tools, representing different things, are analogous to all the many tools (shell, vajra, dagger, scull cup and so on) used in Tantric rituals, especially Kaula ones. However, the simple ritual touch on the body of the priest or priestess with chants or words of power is called Nyasa or ‘armor’ in Tantrika - it is the direct stimulation of lesser or greater charkas/’hot points’ on the body of the adept to affect certain magickal and energetic changes and/or to seal and empower the body.
The PEOPLE: Love is the law, love under will.
He lowers the Lance, and turns to East.
The PRIESTESS takes the Lance in her right hand. With her left hand she offers the Paten.
The PRIEST kneels.
The PRIEST: In my mouth be the essence of the life of the Sun.
He takes the Host with the right hand, makes with it on the Paten, and consumes it.
The PRIESTESS takes, uncovers, and offers the Cup, as before.
The PRIEST: In my mouth be the essence of the joy of the earth!
He takes the Cup, makes on the PRIESTESS, drains it and returns it.
He rises, takes the Lance, and turns to the PEOPLE.
The PRIEST: There is no part of me that is not of the Gods.
This is precisely the state of consciousness that occurs in the sharing of Prasad after a symbolic or erotic puja, ‘Tat Tvam Asi!’ I am that (The god/dess/OM/all!)
The goal of Tantrika is even more bluntly stated- we Will to become Gods- in fact it is more a matter of remembering or of awakening to our already existent godhead. One-way to jolt oneself ‘awake’ is the consumption of Prasad that is intensely charged…
The PRIEST closes all within the veil.
[ The Benediction (Benedictio) ]
With the Lance he makes on the people thrice, thus.
The PRIEST: The LORD bless you.
The LORD enlighten your minds and comfort your hearts and sustain your bodies.
This references Knowledge Will and Action (the 3 Shaktis) invoked by the Tantrikas, also the three Gunas, as well as the classic division of the being; body, mind, spirit. In a very ancient chakra system, There are 3 zones or main chakras; the head (tamas/moon), the heart/trunk (sattvas/sun) and the lower body or ‘root’ (rajas/fire).
The LORD bring you to the accomplishment of your true Wills, the Great Work, the Summum Bonum, True Wisdom and Perfect Happiness.
There is always a final blessing in Tantrika, a common one is
‘To all; health, wealth, prosperity & Liberation’ SVECCHACHARA
And so do I end this comment with this blessings to all my patient readers! OM!
Fr Aion 131