|RT Classification:||V2 - A17.121 - 4||© Temple of Set|
|Author:||Don Webb V°, High Priest|
|Date:||January 14, XXXIII (1998 ce)|
|HTML Revision:||January 15, 1998 CE|
|Subject:||Book of Coming Forth by Night|
On the North Solstice of the year X, Magister Michael A. Aquino of the Church of Satan performed a Greater Black Magical Working of Communication that produced several results, one of the least interesting of which was an inspired document called the Book of Coming Forth By Night. Because most of the various products of this still ongoing and transpersonal Working are not subject to easy manipulation, the BoCFbN has attracted a good deal of attention, and is quite the collectible in the occult underground, as well as an occasionally posted item on various websites and other electronic archives. That the Temple of Set maintains the copyright of the document, and does defend this copyright, seems of little interest to certain people who, having created no intellectual property in their lives, scarcely feel the need to respect others. From an institutional point of view, I strongly urge the Temple to continue its policy of protecting the copyright of the document; from a personal point of view, I am not too worried about it. The type of personality that could get in psychic trouble mucking about with it is the same sort that could get in trouble with Alice in Wonderland. On a level of sentiment, I am always pissed-off when I see the document altered or prefaced by bizarre and insulting remarks, but such things are part of the current Internet culture's lower levels.
This brief essay will explain what a Communication document is, what use the Temple of Set has put the document to, what dangers exist in such documents, and lastly the growing insignificance of such documents at the Dawn of the postmodern era.
A Working of Communication then is based on Need. A great deal has been written by people who were there (I was learning Latin in junior high at the time), ascribing the Need to Howard Stanton Levey's design to sell the degree system of the Church of Satan. I can not comment on this, from my vantage point this decision looks resonate with his philosophy. It would likewise be a true Sign of that philosophy to clear out when you realize you've been had. I see the Fulfillment of Levey's Teachings in the exodus of many Church of Satan Priests under Michael Aquino. In this act of rebellion, the Temple has maintained its contact with the Prince of Darkness in his archetypical form as Satan, but such a connection is a fairly low voltage connection compared to what mankind is capable of (see below). It is the Act of Rebellion that makes the magical and philosophical connection, not the document associated with the Working. I would fully expect the Priesthood of Set to either toss me out or rebel if I attempted to change the Temple from a School into a personal vehicle. If any of the Priests feels a greater personal loyalty to me or Michael Aquino or the next High Priest or Priestess than to the Set's Eternal Purpose, then they are not Priests but sheep with shiny black medallions.
However the Working did change the focus of LHP role models from the archetype of the Rebel against cosmic injustice to the archetype of Isolate Intelligence. Set is a fairly complex figure that fights for his own Power by killing Osiris, and for the Cosmic Good by slaying Apep so that the Boat of Re can keep moving. Set is most easily grasped as a Divine model of self-enlightened, self-enlightening self interest.
The reason for the Working began much earlier, in 1904 in Cairo. There Aleister Crowley had a Need to create Space. There we had a young man with great gifts of mind and magic, who Needed to flush out of himself the received notions that clustered around Christianity, British class thinking and sexual mores, and the notions of Imperialism. His Working communicated a Word, which he knew well both as a middling Greek scholar but more importantly as an excellent scholar of French literature, Thelema. This is a Word whose essential message is "Courage." A Divine commandment to Do things in the world despite the social restrictions of society, and to obtain Self Knowledge thereby. The Word Thelema reached one of its pinnacles in Lavey's Word of Indulgence. The Church of Satan was light years ahead of any esoteric organization of its time, because it viewed occultism as form of madness (quite correctly). It provided a Space creating device for its practitioners. One could take on all of the false limits of society, burn away one's neurosis, and otherwise realize the healthy tiger within by killing the sick sheep without. The Church of Satan failed in that after this great moment of purification, it had nothing more to tell you. Creating Space is the first step to building something better on it. The Working that communicated the Word of Xeper, occurred because of the success of other Workings which created a Space for growth.
A Working of Communication, such as Michael Aquino performed on North Solstice in the Year X, has four components. Firstly the contents of the brain of the individual: This will determine the language and factual material. Secondly the rest of the body-soul complex: This generally unmanifest part of the human being is sometimes called the Higher Self. This is the potential for Becoming. As opposed to New Age thinkers who stress the unlimited model of mankind, Left Hand Path thinkers stress the limits of Being as a key to power. Know what you are and can be -- it is only from this knowledge that you can Work effectively. Thirdly the matrix of the culture: All such Workings are in the language and thought of the time. So if one wishes to analyze the BoCFbN, one must not only look at it as an expression of the Ageless Intelligence of the Universe, but as something written in California in the '70s. This is not a dismissive remark -- it if the key to understanding the nature of the interaction between Initiatory magic and history. Why there? Why then? Fourthly the Intent of Set in creating the document: This later is useful to persons wanting to map the mind of Set for the reasons of seeing what centers of their own personality they wish to develop to Become likewise an immortal, potent, and powerful Essence.
Without these components such Books will mislead. If one treats the book as a Divine Communication like Right Hand Path religions treat their scriptures, one is lost. The Book achieved four things. Firstly it empowered Michael Aquino by allowing for a sudden restructuring of his psyche. It gave him Meaning, allowing him to see (as every Left Hand Path thinker must see toward the end of his or her Initiation) that all the details of his life Become an absolute source of Power that is indeed greater then the Power spread through the rest of mankind's brains. Secondly the Book revealed new depths of Being (see below); rather than saying "Ok, Mike you're it!" it revealed that there was a very, very long way to go -- an infinite Darkness within that could be manifested in the world without. Thirdly it dissolved certain sentimental attachments and personality weaknesses. Now one does not achieve liberation from the bullshit of the world in a single Working -- whatever personal weaknesses the 28 year old Aquino had before the Working he had after it. But such Workings give a glimpse of what it would be like to be free of such limitations. Fourthly it Created in Aquino a magnetic coherence. That is to say that after the Work, his Vision of what Could Be done in the World was fixed enough that he could not articulate it, but drew people to him to drink of that Graal. In short it was a Recognition Ceremony.
The Crystal Tablet is the basic Setian document describing the cosmology, ontology, epistemology, protocols, and practical working magical techniques of the Temple of Set. It is part of the fourfold formula of allowing someone who Seeks after the Mystery of Set to Become Adept in the Black Arts. The four parts are a coherent central articulation of Setian thought (the Crystal Tablet), the interaction with others who have applied the philosophy in objectively quantifiable ways, the previous experience of the Initiate, and the ability of that Initiate to perform a Creative and Unique Synthesis of the first three items that changes his or her thought and life.
In our first Working Year (from X  to XXVIII ) we placed the BoCFbN in the Crystal Tablet as a "jump starting" device. Like all magical writings (such as this essay), it draws Attention, Transforms it, and Returns to the source of Attention, in the hopes that impel action. The symbol-rich and poetic language of the BoCFbN served to give each Initiate some of the same experience that Michael Aquino had -- it gave them a taste of Meaning, Adventure, Freedom (the loosening of fetters) and Being (Coherence). This foretaste was enough for many to seek their own adventures, wanting not fleeting glimpses in the words of another, but True experience of their own.
The results of this decision was the establishment of an international Temple that survived various media and even governmental attempts to suppress or destroy it.
After our First Working Year, we applied the basic principle of the Setian School -- turning Students into Teachers. Instead of making use of a primary Initiatory event of one Initiate, who was after all not a graduate of the Temple of Set system, we choose to let the Attention of students be Transformed by the lives of our Priesthood. This means that each Priest or Priestess began a new level of magical and philosophical responsibility, in that rather than looking to a document by the human founder, Setians looked long and hard at their Priesthood. This is a dangerous gamble, this trust business, but it is the gamble that will establish a Left Hand Path school that will endure rather than one based on the strengths and weaknesses of its leaders.
The BoCFbN was placed in the Ruby Tablet of Set, which is a document designed to assist the Second Degree in his or her quest for Strength, much as the Crystal Tablet helps in the quest for Meaning. The Ruby Tablet is a celebration of Life and all its possibilities, offering a rich and varied account of many Setians magical and philosophical pursuits.
This change represent a profound notion in Setian thinking. We classify even our Founding Magic as part of the realm of the possible for all Setians. The Work of our best and brightest is valued not because of the awe we might hold for them -- but because it stands as a constant external reminder of what might be achieved. We are not interested in a Temple of a few great men and women. We are interested in creating an environment that produces many great men and women. One giant is a genetic fluke, a race of giants is a way of changing the world.
On a day when you are very mad at your neighbor, all books are about what a scum your neighbor is and your own nobility. If you are in love, all books are about love. If you are in denial all books offer new and potent formulas for denial.
Books that provide a certain coherence are good in that they may pull you away from the places you have let your emotions lead you to. If a book teaches the Initiatory lesson that your emotions should follow you, rather than you them, the book is worth its weight in silver.
In moments of clarity are books of Value. If you can find a series of circumstances that cause moments of clarity, then such book is worth its weight in gold.
If the book contains the rules that can produce more moments of clarity, then is it is a gem of the first water.
If the book can provide rules that allow for more than one person to achieve a moment of clarity and communicate his or her Understanding to another who is also experiencing clarity, the book has is an intimate spark of living fire.
Such in my opinion is the value of the Crystal Tablet of Set. For someone that wants to work hard for Power and Knowledge, and is almost in possession of these things, the Temple's primary text is beyond any dollar amount.
However most of us, despite our lofty sounding claims, want a short and easy enlightenment. So we play absurd games with the letters and numbers of a text, try to read hidden knowledge into it (when we can't figure out the obvious knowledge), and otherwise engage in hobby pursuits. Such distraction can lead us into a variety of defective thought processes, and if we feel that the text we are plaything with is of divine origin, we feel somehow that god wants us to do these absurd things -- thus we make our own Sleep sacred and move daily away form the very things that we claim to seek.
This danger is great, and in this sense any inspired text is a trap for the hobbyist.
In classical times we had a great growth of many paradigms. This lead to great schools of philosophical inquiry. We would be hard pressed to look at the philosophies of ancient Greece alone, and think by comparison that we have made any progress toward Knowing the answers of the questions posed by Life. But two things were lacking, one a system of universals that allowed philosophies to be taught, exchanged, and improved across the boundaries of time and space. Secondly a useful knowledge of the material world that could empower the philosophic seeker to realize his or her Ideas in the world.
In medieval times we had one paradigm. One god, one book, one thought system across racial and cultural lines. This produced many good things. A realization of the need of a common language (then Latin, now English), common time keeping, and rules for international travel. In short, in the middle ages the design for a set of common factors that enabled the Word to go forth from Rome, or Mecca, or Constantinople, or Beijing -- created the Idea of a common basis for commucation.
In modern times the paradigm of science -- of approaching the world rationally as a way of controlling it -- has given us many things. We live twice as long as we used to -- pretty important if you are going to spend time figuring out the answers mentioned above. We can travel almost anywhere in a short period of time. We can interact with other minds in a moment. The power of the indiviual is at an all time high because of science, but because of the human beings' natural laziness this power is usually turned against the Self, as we learn ways to keep ourselves distracted.
The postmodern however will be the synthesis of the three preceding. It will have the growth of many, many paradigms for inquiry. These will be communicated by universal means from books to the Internet. They will be empowered by the mastery of the natural science makes possible. In such a time, the inspired book of another will matter less, because the most important acquisition of the individual will be a philosophy system that helps him or her utilize the historical forces that are coming into being now. The Temple of Set seeks to create such a system, and is always looking for fine minds and fearless hearts that may contribute to the system's perfection. There is long way to go, but a long way has already been covered in our first 23 years of Striving.
Shot as an Arrow
on the Ninth Year of my membership in the Temple of Set and the Thirty-Third
Year of the Emerald Dawn.