Notes on the Words of Power of the Book of the Law

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on December 24, 2016 by Alexander Duncan

“There is great danger in me; for who doth not understand these runes shall make a great miss.” Liber AL vel Legis, II, 27.


Hadit (I, 1)

Hadit, represented in Egyptian iconography as a winged solar disk, is the “manifestation” of Nuit. He is described as the secret centre (i.e., the vulva), the heart, and the tongue of Nuit, i.e., her energy, ecstasy, and intelligence. Hadit aspires to Nuit by means of what is described as “secret ardours.” Hadit is the “lord” of Nuit and, with her, the only God. He is the complement of Nuit, and is unextended (as a point occupies position but has no dimensionality). Since Hadit is infinite and discontinuous, he is simultaneously nowhere, everywhere, and unique. There is only one Hadit, yet he appears under the guise of an infinite variety. This is maya.

Each Hadit is a “star.” Thus, “Every man and every woman is a star” (or “star-daemon,” to use Dee’s phrase). Every Hadit is the centre of its own universe, and Hadit, considered as the universal principle of differentiation, is the Absolute Centre of an Infinite Sphere. He is the principle of vitality itself, the realization of which is only possible by means of the sacrament of death. He is the maker and the banisher of illusion. He is the essential dynamism of creation, the teleological principle per se. He is, therefore, essentially identical with Ra-Hoor-Khuit. Because Hadit is absolutely simple he is immortal and indestructible; thus, everyone who attains Hadit dwells in Eternity. This revelation is a crucial distinction between the Law of Thelema and every form of Buddhism. Hadit is identical with the True Self. He is the conscious principle itself, which is only known by virtue of its reflections in the phenomenal world; consciousness itself is inherently unknowable.

The secret spelling of Had (British pronunciation) is AVD, the Hebrew word for “fire.” This, and his depiction as a snake or a serpent, identifies him with the kundalini principle. The realization of Hadit results in gnosis, bliss, and the state of illumination. This state may be attained by means of the ingestion of psychedelics mixed with wine (the Book of the Law predicted the discovery of psychedelics long before their special character was widely understood, even by Aleister Crowley). Hadit is an intermediate principle, an intercessor or psychopomp, between the absolute transcendence of Nuit and the restriction of matter; he is identical with the initiatory principle of transcendence and the magical principle of creation. Being essentially singular, Hadit, like his consort, Nuit, is inherently ineffable and unintelligible to reason. Hence, unaided reason can never decipher the teleology of existence. Like Nuit, he is blue, gold, red, and purple; Hadit is also represented by the colour green, the colour of vegetable life.

Nuit (I, 1)

Nuit is identified with the “gemmed azure” and the “starry blue,” and is called the “Queen of Space” and the “Queen of Heaven.” Her “splendour” (also called “star-splendour”) is described as being “naked.” She is described as bending in ecstasy to “kiss” Hadit. She is identified with metaphysical nothingness, i.e., the state or quality of the metaphysical void, symbolically represented as “Heaven.” She, with her consort Hadit, are described as the only God, as though to imply their essential unity.

The secret name of Nuit is Babalon. In Hebrew letters, the name NV adds up to 56. This number is a metathesis of 65, the number of Adonai, the “Holy Guardian Angel.” Multiplied, it equals 300 (6 x 50), the number of the letter shin, fire, The Aeon in the Tarot, and the state of  kundalini awakening (identified with Pentecost and the descent of the Holy Ghost). 6 / 50 equals 0.12, representing the progressive manifestation of the original Nothingness (Nuit) through Hadit (the point, or bindu), kether (unity), and chokmah (duality). The letters nun and vau signify the annihilation of consciousness (Death in the Tarot, Scorpio in the zodiac, represented as a snake or an eagle) in nirvana and the reciprocal manifestation of the Infinite in the finite (The Hierophant in the Tarot, Taurus in the zodiac, ruled by Venus, Isis-Urania, the Star of the Golden Dawn, whose glyph includes the whole Tree of Life).

Nuit is described as an ubiquitous and omnipresent “lambent flame of blue,” who is naturally attracted to matter and is associated with the moral quality of love. Hence, “Love is the law, love under will.” This is not the sentimental love of altruism or a vague moralistic philosophy, but the passionate, ecstatic, erotic, and qualitatively transformative love of kundalini awakening. Her gnosis or ecstasy implies the realization of the “continuity of existence” and her physical omnipresence (i.e., in matter), as distinct from the discontinuity of Hadit. Since Nuit is continuous (identical with quantum physicist David Bohm’s conception of the “implicate order”) she is ineffable, the ultimate mystery of existence which can only be intuited, never rationally comprehended. Together, they establish existence. Her “sweat,” described as a “dew,” is identified with the khabs.

Nuit divides herself in order to realize herself by means of the sacrament of existence. Thus, matter—the apparent antithesis of nothingness—is identical with her in essence. This is a major defining doctrine of the Thelemic gnosis, and decisively differentiates it from the formula of the Aeon of Osiris, the Dying God, the fundamental conception of which, articulated most clearly by the Buddhists and the Gnostics especially, is that physical existence is a devolution of the Divine essence, and inherently evil and corrupt. Nuit is identical with one of the three primary dyads of Thelema, represented by the Hebrew word LA, meaning “Nothing.” Hence, the Book of the Law is actually the Book of LA, or the Book of Nothing, and the Law (dharma) is LA, nothingness (shunyata). This associates Thelema with the highest doctrine of Vajrayana Buddhism, represented preeminently by the Indian Master who brought Buddhism to Tibet, Padmasambhava.[1]

The nothingness of Nuit is identified with the ain of the Cabalists, the primordial void that precedes, underlies, and includes the Tree of Life. In the Book of the Law it is equated with the numbers 8, 80, and 418. 8 and 418 refer to the Hebrew letter cheth, which signifies the Moon (the “One Star in Sight” of Aleister Crowley’s essay and poem of the same title) and The Chariot in the Tarot. This card depicts a knight riding a chariot drawn by two horses, and the corresponding path on the Tree of Life leads from geburah, Strength, to binah, Understanding, the “City of the Pyramids” of the Masters of the Temple of the Great White Brotherhood, called the Silver Star (i.e., the moon). The Cabala itself is also called “The Chariot.” Eighty refers to the path of pe, the lowest reciprocal path of the Tree of Life, harmonizing and equilibrating the elements of fire and water, whose combination results in their mutual annihilation. Pe is attributed to Mars, and “The Tower” in the Tarot, also called “The House of God.” This card depicts a tower struck by lightning, with two men falling to their doom from the crumbling parapet. These symbols describe the destruction of the false moon, paroketh, which hangs below tiphereth, the sun, signifying the state of illumination. Paroketh is the false, egoistic consciousness that alienates us from our own essence. It is the result of incarnation, and identification with the body, the necessary price paid for the manifestation of Nuit in matter. This annihilation of consciousness is the first major step in the path, identical with the essential task of the grade of man of Earth. (The sum of the three reciprocal paths of the Tree of Life—pe, teth, and daleth—corresponding to the three grades and the three Orders of the Great White Brotherhood, is 93 (80 + 9 + 4), the same gematria as the Greek word, θελημα.) Nuit is also identified with the phrase, TO MH, which signifies aspiration to her in her guise as nothingness, i.e., self-annihilation or nirvana. In Greek letters this phrase adds up to 418, the number of “abrahadabra,” but also literally means “the not.”

The “sister” of Nuit is the earth, which is also described as her “heart” and her “tongue,” identical with Babalon. The Book of the Law is described as a “kiss,” which will regenerate the world of illusion. Nuit is also represented by the number 11, which signifies radical change, revolution, the disordering of the senses and the transformation of consciousness, and by the five-pointed star or pentagram with a red circle in the centre. This image is a yantra identifying Nuit with the vital, dynamic, female principle (shakti), since 5 is the number of both geburah, strength or power, and the Hebrew letter he, the Mother of the Tetragrammaton. Geburah is also dependent upon binah in the Pillar of Severity. The red or scarlet circle is the vulva. The ignorant perceive Nuit as a purely “black” or negative conception, but to those who have realized the ecstasy of her gnosis she is represented by the colours blue and gold, and by a “secret glory” which is the reward of her realization. Nuit herself has a double or dualistic form: she may be “pale” and “veiled,” or “purple” and “voluptuous.” The former aspect corresponds to her essence as the ain, LA, or void, which is absolutely transcendent and unintelligible; the latter corresponds to her aspect as matter, maya, the earth, or the phenomenal world, which is sensual and immediately intuitively apprehended by means of the faculty of sensation. This latter aspect is equivalent to Babalon or Isis. Nuit is also described as the “blue-lidded daughter of Sunset” and the “naked brilliance of the voluptuous night-sky.” Since Nuit and Hadit are antitheses, albeit mutually necessary in order to explain Creation, she is his “hiding.” She is described as Hadit’s “bride,” or shakti. Nuit is the refuge, because in her realization the aspirant finds deliverance from the pain of existence.

Aiwass (I, 7)

Aiwass is the name given of the “revealer” of the Book of the Law. He is described as the “minister” of Hoor-paar-kraat, the True Self. Thus he is an homologue of Ra-Hoor-Khuit, the True Will; not the True Will of the man, Aleister Crowley, but of Man himself, i.e., the Beast 666, whose name is Man. Many years after the Cairo Working Crowley discovered that the Greek and Hebrew spellings of Aiwass add up to 418 and 93 respectively, thus signifying the mystical and the magical formulae of attainment, and their essential identity. The name Aiwass also conceals the number 666, since “A” is the Pentagram and I the Unity (by shape), and 5 + 1 = 6; + “w” = vau = 6; and “ss” = shin + shin = 3 + 3 = 6.

Hoor-paar-kraat (I, 7)

Hoor-paar-kraat is the form of the Egyptian god Horus as a Child. He is the immanent intelligence of the passive or static True Self, conterminous with the fundamental structure of the cosmos. Thus he corresponds to Nuit and matter, as Ra-Hoor-Khuit to Hadit and energy.

Khabs (I, 8)

The khabs (Egyptian “light” or “star”) is in the khu. The Thelemites are enjoined to worship the khabs, so that they might realize the light of Nuit. This implies the contemplation of an interior illumination. The realization of the khabs has two aspects, corresponding to the magical and the mystical paths, or the ways of hyperarousal and hypoarousal.

Khu (I, 8)

In the ordinary man the khu, or True Self, is “closed.” Initiation “opens” the khu. The khu is also the container of the khabs, the Astral Light. Since the khu “contains” the khabs, it must be at least conterminous with it. That is to say, the khu is the transpersonal, universal Self (purusha). The synaptic structures of the brain mimic Nuit’s “trees of Eternity,” the subtle gaseous filaments which define the ultimate structures of the universe. The brain is not the seat of consciousness; it is only a receiver. In the uninitiated man the khu is the unconscious, the ego, alienated from its own essence and “trapped” in the body. In the initiated man the khu is “open,” the True Self, coterminous with the universe.

Ankh-af-na-khonsu (I, 14)

Ankh-af-na-khonsu is the proper name of an Egyptian priest of Thebes who lived in the XXVIth dynasty. He is described as a man who possessed Nuit and Hadit in himself. That is, he had realized his divine essence in union with the Infinite. He is described as the “scribe,” and, like Therion, is described as a prince-priest and a prophet. Since Ankh-af-na-khonsu is enjoined to comment on the Book of the Law, the implication is that he is the same person as the Prophet, i.e., that the Prophet, Aleister Crowley, is his reincarnation. He is described as “self-slain,” i.e., he has annihilated his ego in the Infinite, and is therefore master of death, karma, and reincarnation. That is to say, he is a Master of the Temple of the Great White Brotherhood. The “veiled sky” of Nuit is open to him; he understands all the Divine mysteries. Therefore his Word is true and absolute.

[Therion] (I, 15)

Therion is the Beast 666 of the Apocalypse, who is described as the “chosen priest & apostle” and “prince-priest” of Nuit. He is identified with the Sun, and with the realization of Hadit. He is the Chief of the Thelemic Order. The man Aleister Crowley is his avatar or manifestation. Therion is also the Hornéd God, the Lord of the Animals or theriomorphic Ancestor of primordial shamanism, the Rex Nemorensis (“King of the Wood”) of the mysteries of Diana, the Green Man.

Abrahadabra (III, 1)

“Abrahadabra” is the “secret word” that conceals and reveals the “key of the rituals.” It is a variation of the Gnostic word, abracadabra, associated with the formula of Abrasax or Abraxas, the Sun. It is traditionally believed to exercise a powerful therapeutic influence. “Abrahadabra” is the “reward” of Ra-Hoor-Khuit, i.e., the state of his realization.

[Babalon] (I, 22)

Babalon is a derivative of the name of the evil city of John’s Apocalypse. In Enochian it means “wicked” or “harlot.” In the Book of the Law it is the secret name of Nuit, which was given to the Prophet when he realized Nuit, i.e., when he became a Master of the Temple of the Great White Brotherhood.

[Isis] (I, 22)

I.S.I.S. is a notariqon of the English words, “Infinite Space, and the Infinite Stars thereof.” She is identified with Nuit, and the state of indifferentiation, in which the aspirant accepts and embraces the totality of experience without making any difference between experiences, since all existence is permeated by the ubiquitous Divinity. This formula is not too dissimilar from that of Tantra or archaic shamanism. It is the characteristic of the highest state of attainment, proper to the grade of Ipsissimus (literally “his very own self”) of the Great White Brotherhood.

Ra-Hoor-Khuit (I, 36)

Ra-Hoor-Khuit is Horus the Elder, the adult form of the Egyptian god Horus, the son of Osiris, who represents the essential Divine principle itself in the form of an eagle, falcon, or hawk. One of his avatars is Mentu, the Egyptian warrior-god. He is described as the Hierophant who has taken his seat in the East at the Equinox of the Gods, i.e., he is the Lord of the New Aeon or Age, which began in 1904, the year before the Einsteinian revolution in physics overturned the whole Cartesian-Newtonian cosmos, and paved the way for the further revolution of quantum physics in the 1920s and the atom bomb (the war-engine of Set) in 1945 (according to esotericist Gerald Massey, the Age of Aquarius began in 1905).

Ra-Hoor-Khuit is especially associated with the Day of Judgement or Wrath, by means of which the New Aeon will be established. He is the karmic law which punishes those who confuse the planes, denying either the transcendence or the immanence of Nuit. Those who deny Nuit’s transcendence are the materialists, who only perceive the multiplicity of phenomena, and who are addicted to appearances, rationalism, and scientism. Their punishment is the suffering inflicted upon those who are infatuated with the transitory and changeable nature of being. Those who deny Nuit’s immanence are the devotees of the formula of the Slain God, who renounce life for the sake of a purely transcendent realization. Ra-Hoor-Khuit is the god of the Great Work, especially the formula of annihilation or nirvana (“War,” an alternate title of “The Tower”) and self-mastery or self-conquest (yoga, especially Hatha Yoga). Like Hadit, he is associated with the principle of vitality. He is associated with the East, i.e., the rising Sun. Ra-Hoor-Khuit is described as the “visible object of worship”; i.e., he is closer to rational comprehension than Nuit or Hadit, the two transfinite principles. Thus he is the central Unity of the public cult of Thelema.

Another image of Ra-Hoor-Khuit is the beetle, suggesting the instincts or perhaps the regenerative principle represented by the Egyptian god, Khephra. He is the magical force of “Coph Nia.” In his form of Hrumachis he is the Sphinx, who propounds the riddle of initiation and is associated with the resurrection of the body. Ra-Hoor-Khuit is identified with the prana, breath, or spirit of life. Like the Hebrew Yahweh, he engenders awe in his worshippers. His name may be glossed: Ra = the Sun; Hoor = the Hawk; Khu = the True Self; it = principle of manifestation. The defective spelling, Ra Hoor Khut, implies the false or egoistic self, in opposition to the True Self. Ra-Hoor-Khuit is also described as the Sun of Midnight, i.e., Khephra, the principle of regeneration, the secret light of the unconscious; who is identical with the Son, the vau of Tetragrammaton, the Saviour.

[Set] (I, 49)

horsing-making-love-to-setSet is the “secret name and splendour” of Hoor or Ra-Hoor-Khuit, the Lord of Initiation. In Egyptian mythology Set is the “evil” double of Osiris or Horus, who conspired to overthrow Osiris and destroy his son, establishing his own reign of chaos in their stead, but who was defeated, after a Great War of eighty years, by Horus, the Crowned and Conquering Child. In some dynasties, however, Set actually superseded Horus as an object of veneration. The overthrow of Set by Horus signifies the essential formula of Horus and the Great Work generally, the transcendence of the pairs of opposites and the reconciliation of contraries, which is a characteristic of the Kalki Avatar of the Hindus. The previous two dispensations, represented by Isis and Osiris, the female and male formulae, were inherently contradictory and opposed. Hence the formula of Osiris, which has dominated most of the world during most of the historical period, has been excessively violent and destructive. Nonetheless it was a necessary step, for, in dividing man against himself, it enabled man to realize himself on a higher plane.

In the spiritual formula of the New Aeon these formulae are reconciled and resolved: Horus is the synthesis of all previous contradictions, represented by the antithesis between Isis and Osiris, Osiris and Set, and Set and Horus. (Understanding this concept is vital to understanding the Book of the Law and the whole Thelemic dispensation.) However, before the contradictory character of the previous formulae can be resolved it must first be exposed. Thus the opening of the New Aeon is characterized by the full emergence of the negative polarity of Osiris, and a struggle which will result in their mutual annihilation, on all planes. This is the Apocalypse of Set. This is the historical stage which we have been in since 1904, but which will be superseded by the emergence of Horus. Failure to understand this distinction has led to much misunderstanding of the Book of the Law, and the prohibition of its study and discussion by those who have not achieved a high level of attainment. Set is peculiarly identified with the principle of initiation or evolution because he is the vital dynamic which demands redemption, the unconscious (archaic and infantile) libido of the body.

Thelema (I, 39)

Thelema, the Greek word for “will,” is described as the “word of the Law.” The use of this word associates the Law of Thelema with the philosophy of Pantagruelism, described by Rabelais in his great work, Gargantua and Pantagruel. Rabelais himself was deeply immersed in the mysteries of hermetism, and is regarded as a forerunner of the New Aeon by Thelemites. The word conceals a description of the three fundamental grades of attainment: the man of Earth, or Hatha Yoga; the Lover, or Bhakti Yoga; and the Hermit, or Raja Yoga. The essential conception is that the essence of the Great Work is the development and cultivation (“cult”) of the True or Magical Will, which has several different connotations depending on the context. Hence, “Do what thou [the True Self] wilt [will + t, teth, the kundalini fire) shall be the whole [literally ‘holy’] of the Law [i.e., LA].”

The antithesis of Thelema is Restriction (“restrict-sin”), yet this antithesis is necessary for the “manifestation of Nuit.” Hence, the “fall” into physical or material existence is the “original sin.” This is the state of “Hell.” Yet this state is not overcome or transcended by the formula of renunciation, for this merely imposes another form of restriction; rather, matter is overcome by will, the vital principle of which is love. By passionately embracing every experience that is offered—since the opportunity itself is an indication of karmic affinity—one liberates the vital or Divine principle in matter, the mastery of which leads to ever greater Will and transcendence. Since each individual is unique, there can be no real conflict between True Wills; conflict itself is evidence of a false, egoistic will, not the True Will. The True Will is rooted in the True Self, and is identical with its essence. Because it is pure and perfect in itself, it is inherently indifferent and detached, yet dynamic.

[Maat] (III, 34)

594621d297c23f26dad5888678e1e33fMaat is the Egyptian goddess of truth, law, and justice. The soul of the dead man is weighed in the balance of Thoth against the feather of Maat. If it upsets the balance, the dead man is damned to reincarnation. Maat is the Divine principle which will succeed Horus at the end of the Aeon. She is associated in Liber CCCLXX with the grade of Master of the Temple of the A∴A∴ (the Great White Brotherhood), and the zodiacal sign of Libra.

Heru-ra-ha (III, 35)

Heru-ra-ha (literally ‘fighting Hoor’) is a synthetic form of the Egyptian god Horus incorporating both Ra-Hoor-Khuit and Hoor-paar-kraat, corresponding to the dichotomy of the True Will and the True Self. Thus Ra-Hoor-Khuit is the Lord of Strength, i.e., the True Will in its active, dynamic aspect, whereas Hoor-paar-kraat is the Lord of Silence, i.e., the True Self in its passive, static aspect.

Ka (III, 37)

In the ignorant or unenlightened man the ka is dark. It is enlightened by the realization of Ra-Hoor-Khuit. The ka is the complement of the khu, corresponding to the complementarity of Ra-Hoor-Khuit and Hoor-paar-kraat.

Coph Nia (III, 72)

The “force of Coph Nia” is the magical vigour of Ra-Hoor-Khuit, represented by his Wand. This Wand is double, signifying Creation and Destruction, or the Magical and the Mystical paths respectively.


[1] 1904 was also the year in which the British penetrated Tibet. The first Tibetan resistance to the British Expedition to Tibet occurred on March 31, 1904, at the so-called Massacre of Chumik Shenko at the pass of Guru near Lake Bhan Tso, just ten days after the Equinox of the Gods.