The Riddle of SebRa



in this short book, James Beck expounds his solution to the puzzle that appears in the Book of the Law, chapter two: verses 75 and 76.

Many people have tried their hand at solving 220,2:76 without credible success. Most of their efforts have focused on finding a Qabalistic solution, in the sense of alphanumerical correspondences, understandably given Aleister Crowley’s comment on 220,2:75.

This passage following [220,2:76] appears to be a Qabalistic test (on the regular pattern) of any person who may claim to be the Magical Heir of the Beast. Be ye well assured all that the solution, when it is found, will be unquestionable. It will be marked by the most sublime simplicity, and carry immediate conviction.
– Magical and Philosophical Commentaries on the Book of the Law, 93 Publishing, 1974.

Crowley did not pick up on the instruction to “listen,” and the many followed his lead. Yet in the next paragraph of his comment, the entirety of which is in parentheses, Crowley equivocates, pointing to C.S. Jones’s revelation regarding the “Key to the cipher of this Book.” By which he meant AL and LA, which are both 31 by gematria.

(The above paragraph was written previous to the communication of Charles Stansfeld Jones with regard to the ‘numbers and the words’ which constitute the Key to the cipher of this Book. I prefer to leave my remark as it originally stood, in order to mark my attitude at the time of writing.)
– ibid.

But Jones was the “one [who] cometh after him, whence I say not, who shall discover the Key of it all” of 220,3:47. Jones was the second banana to Crowley’s starring role. Previously in 220,3:47, Aiwass wrote, “…in the chance shape of the letters and their position to one another: in these are mysteries that no Beast shall divine.” Jones was a beast, being a human animal, but not The Beast, an incarnation of Aiwass.

In the Book of Codes, chapter 3: verse 19, Aiwass wrote of the amanuensis, “My chosen know you, and the Kings shall recognize you as the Son of the Beast: as the Beast himself.” – 718,3:19

Crowley considered C.S. Jones to be his magical son, 777, & that strangely. I think there is evidence to support this view. He seemed not to consider that an incarnation of Aiwass which would follow him in another lifetime might be his Magical Heir, 777, & that naturally. The number 777 describes Horus (359) in his temple (House 418), the Angel in the Khu, the “soul of God and beast [that] mingle in the globèd priest.” – 220,3:34.

Aleister Crowley did not reincarnate! Aiwass reincarnated. The Book of the Law says, “Every man and every woman is a star.” – 220,1:3. The Book of Codes says, “The stars are thine angels.” – 718,3:8. It is a matter of being, not of knowing. We are our Angels. We are our Eternal Selves. Crowley wrote that initiation is the Journey Inwards. The trick (Great Work) is to link everyday waking awareness with the consciousness of the Eternal Self, the Holy Guardian Angel. The perspective of the Eternal Self is a dimension of time in which all time as we know it, past and future, are present. The Journey Inwards takes place in the eternal present in which future is perfected into past.

Crowley had truly altered his brain, using the techniques he espoused, and achieved all the levels of consciousness mapped out on the Tree of Life into the grade of Ipsissimus, a point of view at Kether on the Tree of Life. But the Crowley incarnation did not have sufficient time left to get very far with the Ordeal A, the ordeal of the Ipsissimus.

Initiations are passed on, from one incarnation of a Holy Guardian Angel to another, as potential. The potential becomes kinetic in the experiences of the incarnation. An initiation begins a cycle which completes at the end of the consequent ordeal, evoking the subsequent initiation, and so on. The initiation is a brief moment at the loft of the cycle when the previous initiation has been fully integrated, a moment of preternatural balance.

The James Beck incarnation was chosen to be the material world vehicle of Aiwass, the author of the Book of the Law through Crowley, and through Beck of the Book of Codes, the Book of Oz and Liber Luciferi, a ‘conversation’.

Most adepts enter the gates of the Palace of Four Gates in turn. One who inherits the grade of Ipsissimus enters the four gates at once and so faces all the ordeals as one ordeal. “Let him enter in turn or at once the four gates.” – 220,1:51. The Ordeal A includes the other three major ordeals, B, R and X. “Behold! there are three ordeals in one...” – 220,1:50. It appears that the Ordeal A is a blind ordeal like the Ordeal X. The aspirants do not know what they have yet to learn — they don’t know what they don’t know — and in that sense they are fools. Adepts integrating the Ordeals R and B are fully aware of where they are and what they need to achieve.

James Beck listened to the numbers & the words and discovered a solution which is unquestionable, sublimely simple and carries immediate conviction. Beck’s solution is not a “Qabalistic test (on the regular pattern).” In listening, Beck thought the sounds were significant, and by simply reversing the order of the sounds he discovered intelligible words. However, he did put out a Qabalistic description that he thought satisfied the requirements. “There cometh one to follow thee: he shall expound it.” – 220,2:76.

Beck’s Qabalah is self-consistent and expresses ideas which are revealing. One issue, though, is his attribution of the X in ABRAX to the Hebrew letter ס, Samekh, and so to the Tarot trump card Atu XIV Art. Normally, the Latin character X is mapped to the Hebrew character צ, Tsaddi, also known as Tzedeq, Atu IV The Emperor. Tzedeq is a much more fruitful attribution for X than Samekh, not least because Atu IV The Emperor is alchemical Sulphur, or semen, and Tzedeq is the Secret Fourfold Word, the Word of the Elixir. Note that the gematria of NOX, in Sepher Sephiroth, Liber D (500), is נעץ, Nun-Ayin-Tzedeq = 50 + 70 + 90 = 210. This reference clarifies that Crowley knew the correct attribution of the Latin letter X to the Hebrew letter Tzedeq.

At the end of the day, Qabalistic attributions are arbitrary; they are the product of human culture. This arbitrariness can be seen in the attribution of Hebrew letters to the paths on the Tree of Life, which follow a simple, regular pattern. Four of the major arcana, or trump cards, of Tarot break with the order of letters, as Crowley explained in The Book of Thoth, pages 9 and 10. The paths express the relationships between the sephiroth they mediate. Thelemic Qabalah is a template on which to build one’s own metaphysics, a map of one’s own inner life. It only exists if we create it for ourselves. There is no supernatural.

Atu XIV Art marks the relationship between the Sun and the Moon, the classic male-female procreative relationship. “For he is ever a sun, and she a moon. But to him is the winged secret flame, and to her the stooping starlight.” – 220,1:16. For Beck’s Qabalah, in this instance, X is better attributed to Samekh than Tzedeq. Otherwise, the misattribution wrecks the beautiful Qabalah of ABRAX, the Word of the Ordeals.

In a phone conversation a few months before James Beck died, of lung cancer metastasised from bone cancer after many years of aplastic anaemia, he wondered if The Riddle of SebRa might qualify for the “verse for verse comment” prophesied in 718,5:3.

Although SebRa is likely the best thing Beck wrote of his own accord, except perhaps 718,5:12, it certainly does not fulfill that prophecy. Aiwass seems to address Ankh-af-na-Khonsu, Aleister Crowley and James Beck as if they were the same person. I think the verse for verse comment will be written by another incarnation of Aiwass.

One might reasonably think that the educated and worldly, 28-year-old Aleister Crowley could have produced Liber 220, the Book of the Law, in a fit of creative genius. His own florid poetic licence could be mistaken for the scriptural language of the Book of the Law. But adepts see the Book of the Law as silver, gold, stones of precious water or ultimate sparks of the intimate fire, reflections of their attained grades. Adepts would never mistake the Book of the Law for Aleister Crowley’s own writing, for it speaks directly to their subconscious and unconscious links to their own Angels.

In contrast, one would not imagine that the Book of Codes could have sprung from the creative mind of high school educated 21-year-old Oregon suburbanite James Beck. His own writing, as evinced in The Riddle of SebRa, has nothing of the efficiency of expression, depth or breadth of what Aiwass dictated to him.

The Book of the Law, and its comment the Book of Codes, contain information of vital interest to those engaged in the cycles of initiation and ordeal. Those who have studied Liber AL, and taken action to develop their own spiritual awareness, see how brilliantly the Book of Codes reveals Liber AL to understanding. It is obvious that all of Liber 440 was composed by the same mind. James Beck’s solution to 220,2:76 simply confirms that he was the prophesied successor to the Great Beast.

Liber 440 exists in the ‘real’ world, the objective world of metres and minutes. The supernatural exists only in fiction, in human imagination. Aiwass is not supernatural, nor is my Eternal Self or yours. The scientific method is our friend in unveiling reality. Belief that the supernatural is real in the world is superstition. Superstition is our enemy.

The SebRa poem exposes the core Thelemic method, which is to recruit our sexuality to the task of spiritual development and awakening. “The Method of Science — The Aim of Religion” reads the frontispiece of The Equinox, Crowley’s magazine of scientific illuminism. Thelema is technology: the study of method. If the mind is trained in dharana through asana, yantra, pranayama and circle rituals — pentagram and hexagram — it is possible to charge sexual secretions with the chosen symbol in the knowledge of Nuit. “Let not the insincere contribute their blood; the God shall not dwell therein.” – 718,1:23. When eaten, the amplified symbol manifests as a consciousness-changing drug, making a feedback loop for neuroplastic change. The preparation and consumption of Thelemic elixir is a practical and efficient means to shift one’s perspective inwards, to achieve initiation.

The notation showing straight lines or curved lines above vowel sounds, in the Preface, indicates if they are long or short vowels. This helps in discerning long or short vowels in the reversed order of the phonemes, though the vowel sounds are interpreted in the resulting poem. The w sound from the ‘Y’, which is missing between Nuit Sky and Earth Ra, implies ‘with’, in my view.

The original manuscript was typed on an old-style cloth ribbon typewriter, which had only capital and lower case letters. Beck used all caps for anything he wanted to emphasise, and that was quite a lot. I rendered the all caps as either bold or italic to make the text more readable.

Beck copied Crowley’s use of some archaic Latinisms. Where Crowley used v. Beck spelled it out as ‘vide’, which means ‘see’. Beck used cf. which abbreviates the Latin word ‘confer’, the English ‘compare’.

Most of the quotations in The Riddle of SebRa are from Liber CXI (111), The Book of Wisdom or Folly, in which Crowley was most forthright in revealing the secrets of magick, thinly veiling them within hieratic language. The Magical Record of the Beast 666, also quoted herein, is a must-read for any serious student. Kenneth Grant’s footnotes help to reveal obscure references, and a thorough knowledge of the basic correspondences given in Appendix B of Liber 440, or The Book of Thoth, opens the rest of the Magical Record to clear comprehension.

For all his callow comments and narcissistic posturing, James Beck’s exuberance and hopefulness in expounding The Riddle of SebRa are inspiring. Beck’s solution to 220,2:76, derived from simply following the instruction given in 220,2:75, is irreproachable. This short book gives us a brief view into the thoughts of Aleister Crowley’s Magical Heir, James Beck, the amanuensis of the Book of Codes, the Book of Oz, and Liber Luciferi.

Nemo Pandragon, year 114 of the Æon of Horus, April 2018


 Nemo Pandragon

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