The Riddle of SebRa

Chapter Two



ABRAX is explicative of the process of Initiation, which involves both physical and mental ordeals. These ordeals are experiences, often quite painful, which make it possible for the aspirant’s consciousness to be elevated to a more exalted state. In a peculiar manner, seemingly unconnected circumstances have the power en masse to jar open a clenched chakra. A man may lose all he loves in the most excruciatingly painful way in order that he realize the unimportance of terrestrial phenomena.

An Ordeal is usually “blind” in the sense that neither the aspirant nor the Master is responsible for the occurrence; it is a necessary manifestation of the Magician’s own Will-toward-Enlightenment. It is important that these not be regarded as any sort of “punishment” for bad behavior (as in the religion of the slave-god). There are no moralistic aspects about the Ordeals; they are necessary regardless of right and wrong.

The characteristics of the four main types of Ordeal can be ascertained by analyzing Qabalistically the four letters of ABRAX. X is taken as the first Ordeal in the Book of Codes. It is also mentioned in AL: “I am the visible object of worship; the others are secret; for the Beast & his Bride are they: and for the winners of the Ordeal X.” – Liber AL, III:22. The text goes on to say, “What is this? Thou shalt know,” and the Ordeals are explicitly delineated in the Book of Codes. The word “secret” has the connotation of “secrete,” as in other passages of the Book, referring to the sexual fluids themselves. X, or the letter Samekh, refers to Atu XIV, Art, depicting the orgiastic unity of the sexes. By correspondence, this is Svadhisthana Chakra, the astral “root” of the genitals.

This Ordeal X is primarily concerned with sex expression. This may seem unimportant compared to the highly abstracted spiritual Ordeals of the more exalted grades, but the sex urge itself is the creative expression of the Divinity in Man, the Key to all Power, not to mention psychological well-being. It is the force whereby the subtler levels of consciousness may be awakened. It is therefore imperative that the magician get his sexual life in order, and the Ordeal X forces the aspirant to overcome all obstacles to his proper and pleasing fulfillment of the sex instinct. There is, of course an interior transformation accompanying this Ordeal, its chief characteristic being the Conscious Acceptance of The Law of Thelema with all of its implications. All sex-restrictions, all cultural and ethical repressions, must be overcome.

In a broader sense, the first Ordeal entails the rectifying of all areas of the Aspirant’s role in society, and the mundane plane as a whole. The sphere of Yesod, to which this Ordeal is related, is the Foundation of the physical cosmos. Anything in the magician’s environment opposed to his spiritual evolution, especially his own behavior therein, must be rooted out. This pertains to the first three “limbs” of Yoga: Yama, Niyama, and Asana. The first signifies “morality,” i.e. the submission to the Will in every area of one’s life. The second is generally translated as “religious observances.” The third is occupied with varieties of physical culture. This readies him for the Ordeal to follow.

The Ordeal X is, in a way, the most difficult of them all. The would-be magician must take irrevocable steps as he approaches the magical path. Friends, relatives, society as a whole, are all opposed to his decision to become a magician (at least in these, the Last Days, so to speak). The Book of Codes calls this the Ordeal of Fire, the purging of the gross. – Book of Codes, II:26. And yet it is silver, lunar, being basically a terrestrial experience. The elixir must be consumed. One must learn how to use the tools of the trade.

The second Ordeal, R, is associated with Anahata Chakra in the breast, the sphere of Tiphereth, and Atu XIX, the Sun. This relates primarily to the Knowledge and Conversation of the Angel, the embodiment of the True Will, the Inner Sun. This is intellectual in character, and the Adept must cast off all restrictive morality, bringing the reasoning processes under absolute control of the Will. All laws other than that dictated by the Will are false accretions, inspired by the non-entity Choronzon, and only serve to fetter the Warrior who dwells upon the lotus of the soul.

For the Thinking Man, for whom alone is this Ordeal possible, the sacrifice is immense, for in “normal” life the Reason constricts the play of the Will, endlessly debating within itself the type of behavior most advantageous. Yet the Will contains within itself a higher Wisdom, and transcends Logic altogether. It is the “factor infinite & unknown; & all their words are skew-wise.” – Liber AL, II:32. For in their attempt to control life, they worship the false god of human Reason, ignoring the primeval Will-Impulse which is the source of both their physical and intellectual experiences.

Yet this is not to say that Reason is unnecessary, let alone evil! The mind must by necessity conform to logical rules — they are descriptive of its health — but it must be brought into the unquestioned service of the Will. In fact, it is extremely useful for the magician to study Formal Logic in depth; the rational thought processes must not be carried away by unquestioned “revelations” and flowery ideals.

Every proposition must be given the acid test of logical argumentation, else the mind will become diseased; the computer will short-circuit. This cannot be stressed too much, for the history of Magick and so-called spiritualist schools of thought is fraught with insane prophets and impossible doctrines. Yet many of those people might have contributed something substantial to human knowledge if they had taken the time to sit back and analyze their premises, separating the wheat from the chaff, and then draw logical conclusions from sensible propositions.

The Ordeal R corresponds roughly to the three limbs of Yoga called Pranayama, Pratyahara, and Dharana. All three involve the quieting of the mind, as they soothe the jittery astral nerves or Nadis. The first, Pranayama, uses breathing techniques to equalize the flow of prana through these nerves, to unblock passages, and create a reserve supply of the vital fluid (Vayu). Pratyahara, the first step in Meditation, is concerned chiefly with the withdrawal of consciousness from the five senses, while Dharana takes this thought-provoked Sea of Mind and whittles it down to a state of One-Pointedness. In the Book of Codes this Ordeal is called “gold,” for it is particularly concerned with the development of the Ruach, whose center is the golden Sun — the outward, fiery manifestation of the Hidden Will.

On the Tree of Life, the Ordeal R relates to five sephiroth: Hod, Netzach, Tiphereth, Geburah, and Chesed. These, being different aspects of the ordinary human consciousness (as opposed to the Supernal Consciousness), must all be brought into subjection to the True Will. Thus, respectively, the Reason, the Emotions, the Ego itself (not to be confused with the Self), Volition, and Intuition, must all be formed into a garrison unquestioningly obedient to the Inner Will.

Therefore consider this again in a Figure, that thy Mind is as the Marshal of an Army, to observe the Dispositions of the Enemy, and to order his own Forces rightly, according to that Information; but he hath no Will, only Obedience to the Word of his King to outwit and to overcome the Opposite. Nor doth that King make War by his own Whim, if he be wise and true, but solely because of the Necessity of his Country, and its Nature, whereof he is but Executive Officer and Interpreter, its Voice as the Marshal is its Arm […] So then, o my Son, this is thy Work, to know the Word of thy Will without Error, and to make perfect every Faculty of thy Mind, in right Order and Readiness to impose that Word as Law upon the Universe. So mote it be!
– The Book of Wisdom or Folly, chap. 131.

The third Ordeal, B, is Mercury and the path of the Magus, Atu I. It pertains to Ajna Chakra or the Third Eye of Hindu anatomy. This Ordeal is of the Abyss and is relative to both the grades of Magister Templi and Magus, though the latter takes place on the opposite end of the Ajnic continuum. In order to attain Understanding the Adept must pass through the Tenth Aethyr, the realm of Choronzon, who is an insurance, as it were, that the magician, through strength and wit in combating this Evil, is pure — in the best sense of the word. If Choronzon were not subdued, the insight which is Understanding would remain entirely unmanifested, leaving the Adept in a muck of confusion, (…consider the wreckage of so many “magicians” today).

In order to attain the grade of Magus, the Master must pass through the path of the Empress, which is Tamas and Stagnation, bordering on the Abyss. As in every Ordeal, the Ordeal B involves the purging of some part of the Adept. This Ordeal, from the beginning, requires him to cast off all veils of personality whatsoever. All attachments to body and mind must be transcended, else the Understanding of Cosmic Workings will be incomplete and the Word of the Magus will never be uttered. This is the mystic path in the first part and the magical path in the final.

In the Magus, the personality must be completely annihilated and, in a sense, more thoroughly so than in the case of the Magister Templi. The latter may be content to dwell in his passive Understanding; there is no threat to his well-being; but the Magus must make dynamic use of this Understanding, proclaiming his Word actively in the world of humanity. If there is any attachment to mind/body, he will fall back into the, Abyss regardless of previous attainments, due to the stagnation of the Path of the Empress. “This calls for courage and deep insight.”– Book of Codes, IV:12. Without courage, the Magus falls back into passivity, which is for Him malice and the trap of Choronzon. Without insight, he loses the Wisdom of his Word, which denies him the right to be Magus.

The Ordeal B corresponds, more or less, to the limbs of Yoga called Dhyana and Samadhi. In the first, the mind is wiped clean of all traces of personality and ratiocination. The Yogi is filled with peace, rest, and ecstasy, but there is no awareness of the True Self. It is but a preparatory step. In Samadhi, the mind having been made still by Dhyana, the Yogi then proceeds to turn his awareness back in on itself, making a circle as it were, back to the Still Point which is the Root of Existence itself. Now, the Ordeals which accompany these attainments are very severe, often resembling the classic nervous breakdown. But the Ordeals “differ from chela to chela” and it would be futile to attempt any kind of overall description of the manner in which they might manifest.

The Ordeal A exists as the source and Purpose of all three of the former Ordeals. In this sense, there is really only One Ordeal, the Ordeal A: it is the shamanistic Ordeal. (Chopped to pieces? Eaten by the Gods? I don’t know, cocktail time on Friday?) It is Zero, the Fool, and pertains to Sahasrara Chakra, the thousand-petaled lotus in the brain. This is the grade of Ipsissimus, the Crown of Creation, and the melting away of the Magus into the Vacuum of Nu. This Ordeal consists in breaking loose from the shackles of Wisdom itself, which were dearly paid for to begin with, and assuming the identity of the Thoughtless Wanderer. This state (or Becoming) is described most beautifully in the Tao Teh King. The Book of Codes describes this experience as follows:

The one in three shall be to the Beast as the ultimate sparks of his own Daemon; he shall come to full knowledge of Godhood. He shall transcend the Three in order to become the One. He shall transcend the One to become the None. This is the fourth door, and its letter is A.
– Book of Codes, II:26.

In other words, he shall transcend the Supernal Triplicity, casting off the veil of Ajna Chakra (for even Wisdom is illusory), in order to awaken the Sahasrara Chakra. The One is also the value of Aleph, the letter of the Fool. But he must go beyond even this. He must turn inward from Kether the Crown and enter into communion with the אין, AIN, the Lady Nuit, who is Zero, the Tarotic numeral of the Fool. He can then recognize what he is on all planes of Becoming, from the highest to the lowest; from the rarefied Nirvanic consciousness down to the astral, intellectual & etheric, instinctual planes. The Kundali has risen even beyond the Sahasrara Chakra, made its exit through the Brahmarandhra at the top of the skull, and has experienced that most wondrous state of conscious nullity, in which all Samsaric existence, from the Causal Worlds to the Qliphoth, has merged into a unity which is Not.

It will be noticed, however, that although the aspirant transcends one grade in order to attain the higher, that grade is not annihilated thereby. The Ipsissimus travels all paths. The attainment of the Crown does not negate the Oath of the Magus. Though he be beyond Wisdom, and he recognizes that his Word is utter folly, he must still proclaim it. Nor does he cease his work as Master, nor does he find that the Magick of the Adepts is no longer useful. He must be completely whole on all planes, or he is restricting some portion of himself, which is Sin, and the device of the Enemy: “…a few of you have forfeited the lower for the higher, when the Tao hath declared that all should work in harmony.” – Book of Codes, III:15.

The Theravada Buddhists especially value the “Pratyek Buddha,” one who chooses to enter into Nirvana forever, never to incarnate on any plane again. Aleister Crowley explicitly stated that this was the coward’s way out; the Pratyek Buddha is a sort of mystical mama’s boy. The Bodhisattva on the other hand, the hero of the Mahayana Buddhists, has renounced his “heavenly reward” so that he may incarnate again and again until all sentient beings have awakened the Bodhi within themselves. Yet there are those who claim that Crowley himself cannot reincarnate, being an Ipsissimus and therefore eligible only for the “higher” — and let the “lower” be damned.’ He clearly did NOT have this in mind:

The Buddha “passed away by that kind of passing away which leaves nothing whatever behind.” What bosh! He left the Dhamma [The Law] and the Sangha [The Buddhist Brotherhood]; and his Karma goes marching on, much more than John Brown’s soul! Two and a half chiliads, and he’s obsessing Schopenhauer and creating a new era in Western philosophy. Did Alexander do so much and found so much, with all his victories? […] But Buddha, the non-Action expert; the Cook that fried his Seeds; the man who saw Everything without exception as Sorrow caused by Desire and so destroyed Desire; the Strike-leader against Existence, the saboteur that threw the monkey-wrench into the Wheel of Samsara; the sole founder and proprietor of Nibbana Exploration Company; the Patentee of the Process of Passing-Away Painlessly without By-Products in all countries of the world, including Sweden and Norway; the perpetrator of the pun “I’d rather be Ceaser than Caesar”; what of him?
– The Magical Record of the Beast 666, p. 163.

Does this sound like a man who would shrink from the world? Can anyone say with any certainty at all that we will never see dear old Aleister again? He addresses the Buddha:

Clear thinker as you were in Many ways, well as your vast and detailed system hangs together! I see the blood-clot that deranged your whole brain-structure. You did not see the universe as it is but as your ‘unconscious’ saw it. To you, expression meant fear, toil, sorrow; introversion offered safety, ease, rest. You felt yourself inferior to, incapable of mastering your environment. You tried to deny it reality. You wanted to take refuge from it. You craved the mother’s womb of Nibbana, protection, unconsciousness, assurance against re-entry into a hostile Objectivity.
– The Magical Record of the Beast 666, p. 165.

The Book of Codes states the same thesis: “How camest thou to the knowledge of Brahman, of Buddha, and the Ancient of Days, when all have said thou must give up this world to have that other?” – Book of Codes, II:18.

The “Buddha” of Thelemic philosophy is both Spirit and Matter, both God and Beast. And here, too, is a novelty found in Thelemic Metaphysics. The deeper one penetrates into the Unseen Worlds, the more one comes to realize the animality within the Inner Core of one’s Star — the bestiality of the complete human being. We are wild animals! We are the beasts of the field! No matter how hard we try to civilize ourselves, the Beast breaks through whether we like it or not. And the irony of it all is that the most sacred, the most divine side of human nature is precisely this Beast. It is rooted in Nature Herself. To follow one’s instincts is to follow the Tao. Certainly, if all were to do their Will, there would be murders, sex offenses, and the like. What else is new? This is natural. “Crime” cannot he controlled, nor brushed away by subtle sophistries. The natural Man is free to do as he pleases, without fear, without shame and guilt. It is only the craft of Choronzon which casts doubt upon Man’s Godhood. This is the reason why the Egyptians portrayed their gods as part human, part Beast. The Greek god Pan is the perfect symbol of this Idea. Musically, Rock (רכ = 220) combines the purest spiritual awareness with the most devilish lust. This is the natural state of Man, the Whole condition of his Becoming.

Qabalistically, this thesis is represented by the formula Kether Is Malkuth, and in the Book of Codes we find the injunction: “Trample the winepress of my wildness!” Mankind is a species of wild beasts, no less so than the black panther or the bald eagle. And in this freedom of complete abandon, we find his Godhood unveiled.

The farther one removes oneself from the material plane, the more control one has over it. Physicists have discovered that the source and root of physical phenomena is the Quantum Field, which exudes atomic particles, mysteriously, out of the nothingness of Space. This Quantum Field is none other than Eliphas Levi’s Astral Light. It is the agent wherewith the Will materializes the Primordial Image. The teleological character of subatomic particles has been clearly delineated in Arthur Young’s Reflexive Universe. The Will, indeed the Ruach (mind), is beyond all physical or even quasi-physical manifestations. If the Will were atomic, it would not be in a position to control atomic phenomena — and anyone experimenting with Magick can attest to the absurdity of that. If the Astral Body were, in fact, molecular, astral flight would be impossible, unless we accept the wildest ravings of materialistic occultists (e.g. Ouspensky).

The Elixir is all-powerful, for it is impressed with the Energies of Supra-Atomic Being. Such an Entity may, at will, stamp any image whatsoever upon the Quantum Field, thus causing it to secrete the physical images in conformity with its Vision. All this, and yet such Beings, such Gods and Spirits, are but projections of the human psyche. But, you say, All Things are projections of the human mind! Therefore, these Beings are as real as anything else. And right you are! They are just as real or unreal as your best friend.

It is interesting to observe that Science has discovered that atomic particles move both forward and backward in time. That is, for each electron there is a positron. Since the phenomenal worlds are moving backward in time just as much as they are moving forward, is there any reason to doubt the possibility of Prophecy? The human psyche (the Ruach), being seated above material secretions, is able to witness Both sides of the continuum. Why not remember the future if one can remember the past? There is no reason, even when speaking materialistically, why Prophecy should be an impossibility.

And this brings us back to the question concerning the omnipotence of EVEY, the union of EVE — the feminine secretions — and Y, SebRa, the male ejaculation. There is no reason, given the exceedingly rough sketch of metaphysics presented above, that the Elixir should not be able to affect both future and past. All originates in the Present. And, if one looks closely at the process involved, i.e. the entire reorganization of the physical cosmos, it is apparent that it would be necessary to alter the past.

For instance: you perform a Spell in order to acquire X. You find that your grandmother left it to you in her will five years previously. After performing the spell, you are finally informed that it is yours. Magick works in both past and future, but originates in the eternal present.

Thus we see that EVEY is omnipotent in every way.


 James Beck

Creative Commons Licence


ed. note:
X is traditionally transliterated from the 18th Hebrew letter צ, Tzedeq. X is the Tarot Atu IV The Emperor, alchemical Sulphur, who occupies the path between Yesod, the Moon, and Netzach, Venus. ס, Samekh, Atu XIV Art, occupies the path between Yesod and Tiphereth, the Sun.
       ← Go Back

“Behold! there are three ordeals in one, and it may be given in three ways.” – Liber AL I:50.
       ← Go Back

Kundali: the masculine form of the Serpent Power, called so because it is represented in the Book of the Law by the masculine deity Hadit.
ed. note: Hadit is also Uadit, or the female deity Wadjet, the Uraeus: 220,2:16.
       ← Go Back

ed. note:
Magick in Theory and Practice says, “Kether is in Malkuth, and Malkuth is in Kether, but after another manner.” – Chapter 0.
       ← Go Back