The Holy Books of Thelema

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Aleister Crowley, the founder of Thelema, designated his works as belonging to one of several classes. Not all of his work was placed in a class by him.

Class A consists of works that are not to be changed, even to the letter. The Holy Books fall in this category.
Class B consists of works of scholarship and enlightenment.
Class C consists of material that suggests things other than the obvious.
Class D consists of official rituals and instructions.
Class E consists of manifestos, broadsides, epistles and other public statements.

The Books[edit]

Liber AL vel Legis, also known as The Book of the Law, is the foundational text for Thelema. It is the only Holy Book that Aleister Crowley claimed to have had no part in the authorship of. Its primacy is indicated in chapter III, verse 47: This book shall be translated into all tongues: but always with the original in the writing of the Beast; for in the chance shape of the letters and their position to one another: in these are mysteries that no Beast shall divine.

The remaining texts were written between the years 1907 and 1911. According to Crowley, they were not so much written by him as through him, and are therefore referred to as inspired works.

Publication history[edit]

Some of these works were originally published by Crowley in 1909 under the title "ΘΕΛΗΜΑ." In 1983 these original texts, together with a number of additional texts, were published under the new title The Holy Books of Thelema by Ordo Templi Orientis under the direction of Hymenaeus Alpha.

Original Contents of ΘΕΛΗΜΑ[edit]

  • Volume I
    • Liber LXI vel Causæ—Explains the actual history and origin of the present movement. This text, being in Class D, is not technically a Holy Book, but was included in "ΘΕΛΗΜΑ" as an Introduction, and is thus listed here.
    • Liber LXV: Liber Cordis Cincti Serpente—An account of the relations of the aspirant and his Holy Guardian Angel.
  • Volume II
    • Liber VII: Liber Liberi vel Lapidis Lazuli—These are the Birth Words of a Master of the Temple. Its 7 Chapters are referred to the 7 Planets in the following order: Mars, Saturn, Jupiter, Sol, Mercury, Luna, Venus.
  • Volume III
    • Liber XXVII: Liber Trigrammaton sub Figura XXVII—Being a book of Trigrams of the Mutations of the Tao with the Yin and yang. An account of the Cosmic process.
    • Liber CCXX: Liber AL vel Legis sub Figura CCXX: The Book of the Law—Among the Holy Books of Thelema, the chief is The Book of the Law. Every Thelemite is expected to interpret the book, "each for himself."
    • Liber DCCCXIII vel Ararita—An account of the Hexagram and the method of reducing it to the Unity and Beyond. This book describes in magical language a very secret process of Initiation.

Additional Texts included in The Holy Books of Thelema[edit]

  • Liber I: Liber B vel Magi—An account of the Grade of Magus, the highest grade which it is even possible to manifest in any way whatsoever upon this plane.
  • Liber X: Liber Porta Lucis—An account of the sending forth of the Master Therion by the A∴A∴ and an explanation of his mission.
  • Liber LXVI: Liber Stellae RubeaeSexual Magick veiled in symbolism.
  • Liber XC: Liber Tzaddi vel Hamus Hermeticus—An account of Initiation, and an indication as to those who are suitable for the same.
  • Liber CLVI: Liber Cheth vel Vallum Abiegni—Sexual Magick veiled in symbolism.
  • Liber CCXXXI: Liber Arcanorum—An account of the cosmic process so far as it is indicated by the Tarot Trumps. The sequence of the 22 Trumps is explained as a formula of Initiation.
  • Liber CCCLXX: Liber A'ash vel Capricorni Pneumatici—Analyzes the nature of the creative magical force in man, explains how to awaken it, how to use it and indicates the general as well as the particular objects to be gained thereby. Sexual Magick veiled in symbolism.
  • Liber CD: Liber Tau vel Kabbalae Trium Literarum—A graphic interpretation of the Tarot on the plane of Initiation.

Books listed by class[edit]

Class A[edit]

  • Liber I: Liber B Vel Magi Sub Figurâ 1
  • Liber VII: Liber Liberi Vel Lapidis Lazuli, Adumbratio Kabbalæ Ægyptiorum Sub Figurâ VII
  • Liber X: Liber Porta Lucis Sub Figureâ X
  • Liber XXVII: Liber Trigrammaton Sub Figurâ XXVII
  • Liber LXV: Liber Cordis Cincti Serpente Sub Figurâ LXV
  • Liber LXVI: Liber Stellæ Rubeæ Sub Figurâ LXVI
  • Liber XC: Liber Tzaddi Vel Hamus Hermeticus Sub Figurâ XC
  • Liber CLVI: Liber Cheth Vel Vallum Abiegni Sub Figurâ CLVI
  • Liber CCXX: Liber Al Vel Legis Sub Figurâ CCXX
  • Liber XXXI: Liber Al(Liber Legis), The Book of the Law
  • Liber CCXXXI: Liber Arcanorum ιων ATU ν TAHUTI Quas Vidit Asar in Amenti Sub Figurâ CCXXXI Liber Carcerorum ιων Qliphoth cum suis Geniis
  • Liber CCCLXX: Liber A'ash Vel Capricoroni Pneumatici Sub Figuræ CCCLXX
  • Liber CD: Libe Tau Vel Kabbalæ Trium Literarum Sub Figuræ CD
  • Liber DCCCXII: Vel Ararita Sub Figuræ DLXX

Class B[edit]

  • Liber CCCCXVIII: Liber XXX Ærum Vel Saeculi, Being of the Angels of the Thirty Aethyrs the Vision and the Voice.
  • Liber CDXV: Opes Lutetianum

Class C[edit]

  • Liber DCCCCLXII: ΘΗΣΑΥΡΟΥ ΗΙΔΩΛΩΝ

Class D[edit]

  • Liber LXI: Liber Causae

Notes on the List[edit]

Liber I originally was a Class B document, but was changed to Class A in 1913.

Liber LXI was originally Class A, then changed to Class B, then changed to Class D.

Liber CCXX and Liber XXXI are essentially the same. The latter is the handwritten original, CCXX was transcribed from the original and was given the number 220 because it is composed of 220 verses.

Liber CCCCXVIII has instructions in Aethyr 8 and 18 which are to be regarded as Class D. As it is a diary, it more properly belongs in Class B, except for the parts that the Angels dictated. Parts which are not consistently and clearly demarcated.

Liber DCXV, more commonly known as The Paris Working is a magical diary. The Class A material is so intertwined that segregating them apart is extremely difficult.

Liber DCCCCLXIII is Class A for the introduction only. The rest of the text is Class B.

The Stèle of Revealing is not part of the Holy Books, despite it being a part of the Gnostic Mass (Liber XV) that is performed by Thelemites as part of their sacred rituals.

The Comment of Ankh F N Khonsu is sometimes considered to be part of Liber Al vel Legis. At other times, it is considered to be a different document. In either instance, it has been understood by some to mean that no discussion of any of the Holy Books may take place, despite the fact that the Comment, which was written after all of the Holy Books were written, only applies to the Book of the Law. According to this interpretation, which appears to be Crowley's as well, the purpose of the Comment is to allow others to interpret Liber Al vel Legis for themselves; in other words, no one is to preach its contents or tell you their understanding of it is the one true understanding. However, the Comment also prohibits the study of the Book of the Law! The punishment for violating the Comment is anathema (shunning).

See also[edit]

References[edit]