(These figures have
special meanings to the initiated and are commonly employed to designate
The general characteristics
and attributions of these Grades are indicated by their correspondences on
the Tree of Life, as may be studied in detail in the Book 777.
Student. - His or her
business is to acquire a general intellectual knowledge of all systems of
attainment, as declared in the prescribed books. (See curriculum in
Probationer. - His or
her principal business is to begin such practices as he my prefer, and to
write a careful record of the same for one year.
Neophyte. - Has to
acquire perfect control of the Astral Plane.
Zelator. - His or her
main work is to achieve complete success in Asana and Pranayama. He also
begins to study the formula of the Rosy Cross.
Practicus. - Is
expected to complete his or her intellectual training, and in particular
to study the Qabalah.
Philosophus. - Is
expected to complete his or her moral training. He or she is tested in
Devotion to the Order.
Dominus Liminis. - Is
expected to show mastery of Pratyahara and Dharana.
Adeptus (without). -
is expected to perform the Great Work and to attain the Knowledge and
Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel.
Adeptus (within). -
Is admitted to the practice of the formula of the Rosy Cross on entering
the College of the Holy Ghost.
Adeptus (Major). -
Obtains a general mastery of practical Magick, though without
Adeptus (Exemptus). -
Completes in perfection all these matters. He or she then either
("a") becomes a Brother of the Left Hand Path or,
("b") is stripped of all his attainments and of himself or
herself as well, even of his or her Holy Guardian Angel, and becomes a
babe of the Abyss, who, having transcended the Reason, does nothing but
grow in the womb of its mother. It then finds itself a
Magister Templi. -
(Master of the Temple): whose functions are fully described in Liber 418,
as is this whole initiation from Adeptus Exemptus. See also
"Aha!". His or her principal business is to tend his or her
"garden" of disciples, and to obtain a perfect understanding of
the Universe. He or she is a Master of Samadhi.
Magus. - Attains to
wisdom, declares his law (See Liber I, vel Magi) and is a Master of
all Magick in its greatest and highest sense.
Ipsissimus. - Is
beyond all this and beyond all comprehension of those of lower degrees.
But of these last three
Grades see some further account in "The Temple of Solomon the
King", Equinox I to X and elsewhere.
It should be stated that
these Grades are not necessarily attained fully, and in strict consecution,
or manifested wholly on all planes. The subject is very difficult, and
entirely beyond the limits of this small treatise.
We append a more detailed
3. "The Order
of the S. S." is composed of those who have crossed the Abyss;
the implications of this expression may be studied in Liber 418, the 14th,
13th, 12th, 11th, 10th, and 9th Aethyrs in particular.
All members of the Order are
in full possession of the Formulae of Attainment, both mystical or
inwardly-directed and Magical or outwardly-directed. They have full
experience of attainment in both these paths.
They are all, however, bound
by the original and fundamental Oath of the Order, to devote their energy
to assisting the Progress of their Inferiors in the Order. Those who
accept the rewards of their emancipation for themselves are no longer
within the Order.
Members of the Order are
each entitled to found Orders dependent on themselves on the lines of the
R. C. and G. D. orders, to cover types of emancipation and illumination
not contemplated by the original (or main) system. All such orders must,
however, be constituted in harmony with the A.'. A.'. as regards the
All members of the Order are
in possession of the Word of the existing Aeon, and govern themselves
They are entitled to
communicate directly with any and every member of the Order, as they may
Every active Member of the
Order has destroyed all that He is and all that he has on crossing the
Abyss; but a star is cast forth in the Heavens to enlighten the Earth, so
that he may possess a vehicle wherein he may communicate with mankind. The
quality and position of this star, and its functions, are determined by
the nature of the incarnations transcended by him.
4. The Grade of
Ipsissimus is not to be described fully; but its opening is indicated in
Liber I vel Magi.
There is also an account in
a certain secret document to be published when propriety permits. Here it
is only said this: The Ipsissimus is wholly free from all limitations
soever, existing in the nature of all things without discriminations of
quantity or quality between them. He has identified Being and not-Being
and Becoming, action and non-action and tendency to action, with all other
such triplicities, not distinguishing between them in respect of any
conditions, or between any one thing and any other thing as to whether it
is with or without conditions.
He is sworn to accept this
Grade in the presence of a witness, and to express its nature in word and
deed, but to withdraw Himself at once within the veils of his natural
manifestation as a man, and to keep silence during his human life as to
the fact of his attainment, even to the other members of the Order.
The Ipsissimus is
pre-eminently the Master of all modes of existence; that is, his being is
entirely free from internal or external necessity. His work is to destroy
all tendencies to construct or to cancel such necessities. He is the
Master of the Law of Unsubstantiality (Anatta).
The Ipsissimus has no
relation as such with any Being: He has no will in any direction, and no
Consciousness of any kind involving duality, for in Him all is
accomplished; as it is written "beyond the Word and the Fool, yea,
beyond the Word and the Fool".
5. The Grade of Magus
is described in Liber I vel Magi, and there are accounts of its character
in Liber 418 in the Higher Aethyrs.
There is also a full and
precise description of the attainment of this Grade in the Magical Record
of the Beast 666.
The essential characteristic
of the Grade is that its possessor utters a Creative Magical Word, which
transforms the planet on which he lives by the installation of new
officers to preside over its initiation. This can take place only at an
"Equinox of the Gods" at the end of an "Aeon"; that is,
when the secret formula which expresses the Law of its action becomes
outworn and useless to its further development.
is the formula of an infant: when teeth appear it marks a new "Aeon",
whose "Word" is "Eating").
A Magus can therefore only
appear as such to the world at intervals of some centuries; accounts of
historical Magi, and their Words, are given in Liber Aleph.
This does not mean that only
one man can attain this Grade in any one Aeon, so far as the Order is
concerned. A man can make personal progress equivalent to that of a
"Word of an Aeon"; but he will identify himself with the current
word, and exert his will to establish it, lest he conflict with the work
of the Magus who uttered the Word of the Aeon in which He is living.
The Magus is pre-eminently
the Master of Magick, that is, his will is entirely free from internal
diversion or external opposition; His work is to create a new Universe in
accordance with His Will. He is the Master of the Law of Change (Anicca).
To attain the Grade of
Ipsissimus he must accomplish three tasks, destroying the Three Guardians
mentioned in Liber 418, the 3rd Aethyr; Madness, and Falsehood, and
Glamour, that is, Duality in Act, Word and Thought.
6. The Grade of
Master of the Temple is described in Liber 418 as above indicated. There
are full accounts in the Magical Diaries of the Beast 666, who was cast
forth into the Heaven of Jupiter, and of Omnia in Uno, Unus in Omnibus,
who was cast forth into the sphere of the Elements.
The essential Attainment is
the perfect annihilation of that personality which limits and oppresses
his true self.
The Magister Templi is
pre-eminently the Master of Mysticism, that is, His Understanding is
entirely free from internal contradiction or external obscurity; His word
is to comprehend the existing Universe in accordance with His own Mind. He
is the Master of the Law of Sorrow (Dukkha).
To attain the grade of Magus
he must accomplish Three Tasks; the renunciation of His enjoyment of the
Infinite so that he may formulate Himself as the Finite; the acquisition
of the practical secrets alike of initiating and governing His proposed
new Universe and the identification of himself with the impersonal idea of
Love. Any neophyte of the Order (or, as some say, any person soever)
possesses the right to claim the Grade of Master of the Temple by taking
the Oath of the Grade. It is hardly necessary to observe that to do so is
the most sublime and awful responsibility which it is possible to assume,
and an unworthy person who does so incurs the most terrific penalties by
7. "The Order
of the R. C." The Grade of the Babe of the Abyss is not a Grade
in the proper sense, being rather a passage between the two Orders. Its
characteristics are wholly negative, as it is attained by the resolve of
the Adeptus Exemptus to surrender all that he has and is for ever. It is
an annihilation of all the bonds that compose the self or constitute the
Cosmos, a resolution of all complexities into their elements, and these
thereby cease to manifest, since things are only knowable in respect of
their relation to, and reaction on, other things.
8. The Grade of
Adeptus Exemptus confers authority to govern the two lower Orders of R. C.
and G. D.
The Adept must prepare and
publish a thesis setting forth His knowledge of the Universe, and his
proposals for its welfare and progress. He will thus be known as the
leader of a school of thought.
(Eliphas Levi's "Clef
des Grands Mysteres," the works of Swedenborg, von Eckarshausen,
Robert Fludd, Paracelsus, Newton, Bolyai, Hinton, Berkeley, Loyola, etc.,
etc., are examples of such essays.)
He will have attained all
but the supreme summits of meditation, and should be already prepared to
perceive that the only possible course for him is to devote himself
utterly to helping his fellow creatures.
To attain the Grade of
Magister Templi, he must perform two tasks; the emancipation from thought
by putting each idea against its opposite, and refusing to prefer either;
and the consecration of himself as a pure vehicle for the influence of the
order to which he aspires.
He must then decide upon the
critical adventure of our Order; the absolute abandonment of himself and
his attainments. He cannot remain indefinitely an Exempt Adept; he is
pushed onward by the irresistible momentum that he has generated.
Should he fail, by will or
weakness, to make his self-annihilation absolute, he is none the less
thrust forth into the Abyss; but instead of being received and
reconstructed in the Third Order, as a Babe in the womb of our Lady
BABALON, under the Night of Pan, to grow up to be Himself wholly and truly
as He was not previously, he remains in the Abyss, secreting his elements
round his Ego as if isolated from the Universe, and becomes what is called
a "Black Brother". Such a being is gradually disintegrated from
lack of nourishment and the slow but certain action of the attraction of
the rest of the Universe, despite efforts to insulate and protect himself,
and to aggrandise himself by predatory practices. He may indeed prosper
for a while, but in the end he must perish, especially when with a new
Aeon a new word is proclaimed which he cannot and will not hear, so that
he is handicapped by trying to use an obsolete method of Magick, like a
man with a boomerang in a battle where every one else has a rifle.
9. The Grade of
Adeptus Major confers Magical Powers (strictly so-called) of the second
His work is to use these to
support the authority of the Exempt Adept his superior. (This is not to be
understood as an obligation of personal subservience or even loyalty; but
as a necessary part of his duty to assist his inferiors. For the authority
of the Teaching and governing Adept is the basis of all orderly work.)
To attain the Grade of
Adeptus Exemptus, he must accomplish Three Tasks; the acquisition of
absolute Self-Reliance, working in complete isolation, yet transmitting
the word of his superior clearly, forcibly and subtly; and the
comprehension and use of the Revolution of the wheel of force, under its
three successive forms of Radiation, Conduction and Convection (Mercury,
Sulphur, Salt; or Sattvas, Rajas, Tamas), with their corresponding natures
on other planes. Thirdly, he must exert his whole power and authority to
govern the Members of lower Grades with balanced vigour and initiative in
such a way as to allow no dispute or complaint; he must employ to this end
the formula called "The Beast conjoined with the Woman" which
establishes a new incarnation of deity; as in the legends of Leda, Semele,
Miriam, Pasiphae, and others. He must set up this ideal for the orders
which he rules, so that they may possess a not too abstract rallying point
suited to their undeveloped states.
10. The Grade of
Adeptus Minor is the main theme of the instructions of the A.'. A.'. It is
characterised by the Attainment of the Knowledge and Conversation of the
Holy Guardian Angel. (See the Equinox, "The Temple of Solomon the
King;" "The Vision and the Voice" 8th Aethyr; also "Liber
Samekh", etc. etc.) This is the essential work of every man; none
other ranks with it either for personal progress or for power to help
one's fellows. This unachieved, man is no more than the unhappiest and
blindest of animals. He is conscious of his own incomprehensible calamity,
and clumsily incapable of repairing it. Achieved, he is no less than the
co-heir of gods, a Lord of Light. He is conscious of his own consecrated
course, and confidently ready to run it. The Adeptus Minor needs little
help or guidance even from his superiors in our Order.
His work is to manifest the
Beauty of the Order to the world, in the way that his superiors enjoin,
and his genius dictates.
To attain the Grade Adeptus
Major, he must accomplish two tasks; the equilibration of himself,
especially as to his passions, so that he has no preference for any one
course of conduct over another, and the fulfilment of every action by its
complement, so that whatever he does leaves him without temptation to
wander from the way of his True Will.
Secondly, he must keep silence, while he nails his body to the tree of his
creative will, in the shape of that Will, leaving his head and arms to
form the symbol of Light, as if to make oath that his every thought, word
and deed should express the Light derived from the God with which he has
identified his life, his love and his liberty --- symbolised by his heart,
his phallus, and his legs. It is impossible to lay down precise rules by
which a man may attain to the knowledge and conversation of His Holy
Guardian Angel; for that is the particular secret of each one of us; as
secret not to be told or even divined by any other, whatever his grade. It
is the Holy of Holies, whereof each man is his own High Priest, and none
knoweth the Name of his brother's God, or the Rite that invokes Him.
The Masters of the A.'. A.'. have therefore made no attempt to institute
any regular ritual for this central Work of their Order, save the
generalised instructions in Liber 418 (the 8th Aethyr) and the detailed
Canon and Rubric of the Mass actually used with success by FRATER
PERDURABO in His attainment. This has been written down by Himself in
Liber Samekh. But they have published such accounts as those in "The
Temple of Solomon the King" and in "John St. John." They
have taken the only proper course; to train aspirants to this attainment
in the theory and practice of the whole of Magick and Mysticism, so that
each man may be expert in the handling of all known weapons, and free to
choose and to use those which his own experience and instinct dictate as
proper when he essays the Great Experiment.
He is furthermore trained to
the one habit essential to Membership of the A.'. A.'.; he must regard all
his attainments as primarily the property of those less advanced aspirants
who are confided to his charge.
No attainment soever is
officially recognised by the A.'. A.'. unless the immediate inferior of
the person in question has been fitted by him to take his place.
The rule is not rigidly
applied in all cases, as it would lead to congestion, especially in the
lower grades where the need is greatest, and the conditions most confused;
but it is never relaxed in the Order of the R. C. or of the S. S.: save
only in One Case.
There is also a rule that
the Members of the A.'. A.'. shall not know each other officially, save
only each Member his superior who introduced him and his inferior whom he
has himself introduced.
This rule has been relaxed,
and a "Grand Neophyte" appointed to superintend all Members of
the Order of the G. D. The real object of the rule was to prevent Members
of the same Grade working together and so blurring each other's
individuality; also to prevent work developing into social intercourse.
The Grades of the Order of
the G. D. are fully described in Liber 185 (This book is published in
the Equinox Vol. III No. 2, editor's note: That was the plan but it did
not happen.), and there is no need to amplify what is there stated. It
must however, be carefully remarked that in each of these preliminary
Grades there are appointed certain tasks appropriate, and that the ample
accomplishment of each and every one of these is insisted upon with the
most rigorous rigidity. (Liber 185 need not be quoted at length. It is
needful only to say that the Aspirant is trained systematically and
comprehensively in the various technical practices which form the basis of
Our Work. One may become expert in any or all of these without necessarily
making any real progress, just as a man might be first-rate at grammar,
syntax, and prosody without being able to write a single line of good
poetry, although the greatest poet in soul is unable to express himself
without the aid of those three elements of literary composition.)
Members of the A.'. A.'. of
whatever grade are not bound or expected or even encouraged to work on any
stated lines, or with any special object, save as has been above set forth.
There is however an absolute prohibition to accept money or other material
reward, directly or indirectly, in respect of any service connected with
the Order, for personal profit or advantage. The penalty is immediate
expulsion, with no possibility of reinstatement on any terms soever.
But all members must of
necessity work in accordance with the facts of Nature, just as an
architect must allow of the Law of Gravitation, or a sailor reckon with
So must all Members of the A.'. A.'. work by the Magical Formula of the
They must accept the Book of
the Law as the Word and the Letter of Truth, and the sole Rule of Life. (This
is not in contradiction with the absolute right of every person to do his
own true Will. But any True Will is of necessity in harmony with the facts
of Existence; and to refuse to accept the Book of the Law is to create a
conflict within Nature, as if a physicist insisted on using an incorrect
formula of mechanics as the basis of an experiment.) They must
acknowledge the Authority of the Beast 666 and of the Scarlet Woman as in
the book it is defined, and accept Their Will ("Their Will"
--- not, of course, their wishes as individual human beings, but their
will as officers of the New Aeon) as concentrating the Will of our
Whole Order. They must accept the Crowned and Conquering Child as the Lord
of the Aeon, and exert themselves to establish His reign upon Earth. They
must acknowledge that "The word of the Law is Thelema - in greek
Theta-Epsilon-Lambda-Eta-Mu-Alpha." and that "Love is the
law, love under will."
Each member must make it his
main work to discover for himself his own true will, and to do it, and do
nothing else.(It is not considered "essential to right conduct"
to be an active propagandist of the Law, and so on; it may, or may not, be
the True Will of any particular person to do so. But since the fundamental
purpose of the Order is to further the Attainment of humanity, membership
implies, by definition, the Will to help mankind by the means best adapted
He must accept those orders
in the Book of the Law that apply to himself as being necessarily in
accordance with his own true will, and execute the same to the letter with
all the energy, courage, and ability that he can command. This applies
especially to the work of extending the Law in the world, wherein his
proof is his own success, the witness of his Life to the Law that hath
given him light in his ways, and liberty to pursue them. Thus doing, he
payeth his debt to the Law that hath freed him by working its will to free
all men; and he proveth himself a true man in our Order by willing to
bring his fellows into freedom.
By thus ordering his
disposition, he will fit himself in the best possible manner for the task
of understanding and mastering the divers technical methods prescribed by
the A.'. A.'. for Mystical and Magical attainment.
He will thus prepare himself
properly for the crisis of his career in the Order, the attainment of the
Knowledge and Conversation of his Holy Guardian Angel.
His Angel shall lead him
anon to the summit of the Order of the R. C. and make him ready to face
the unspeakable terror of the Abyss which lies between Manhood and Godhead;
teach him to Know that agony, to Dare that destiny, to Will that
catastrophe, and to keep Silence for ever as he accomplishes the act of
From the Abyss comes No Man
forth, but a Star startles the Earth, and our Order rejoices above that
Abyss that the Beast hath begotten one more Babe in the Womb of Our Lady,
His concubine, the Scarlet Woman, BABALON.
There is not need to
instruct a Babe thus born, for in the Abyss it was purified of every
poison of personality; its ascent to the highest is assured, in its season,
and it hath no need of seasons for it is conscious that all conditions are
no more than forms of its fancy.
Such is a brief account,
adapted as far as may be to the average aspirant to Adeptship, or
Attainment, or Initiation, or Mastership, or Union with God, or Spiritual
Development, or Mahatmaship, or Freedom, or Occult Knowledge, or whatever
he may call his inmost need of Truth, of our Order of A.'. A.'.
It is designed principally
to awake interest in the possibilities of human progress, and to proclaim
the principles of the A.'. A.'.
The outline given of the
several successive steps is exact; the two crises -- the Angel and the
Abyss --- are necessary features in every career. The other tasks are not
always accomplished in the order given here; one man, for example, may
acquire many of the qualities peculiar to the Adeptus Major, and yet lack
some of those proper to the Practicus.(The natural talents of
individual differ very widely. The late Sir Richard Jebb, one of the
greatest classical scholars of modern times, was so inferior to the
average mediocrity in mathematics, that despite repeated efforts he could
not pass the "little go" at Cambridge --- which the dullest
minds can usually do. He was so deeply esteemed for his classics that a
special "Grace" was placeted so as to admit him to matriculation.
Similarly a brilliant Exorcist might be an incompetent Diviner. In such a
case the A.'. A.'. would refuse to swerve from Its system; the Aspirant
would be compelled to remain at the Barrier until he succeeded in breaking
it down, though a new incarnation were necessary to permit him to do so.
But no technical failure of any kind soever could necessarily prevent him
from accomplishing the Two Critical Tasks, since the fact of his
incarnation itself proves that he has taken the Oath which entitled him to
attain to the Knowledge and Conversation of his Holy Guardian Angel, and
the annihilation of this Ego. One might therefore be an Adeptus Minor or
even a Magister Templi, in essence, though refused official recognition by
the A.'. A.'. as a Zelator owing to (say) a nervous defect which prevented
him from acquiring a Posture which was "steady and easy" as
required by the Task of that grade.) But the system here given shows
the correct order of events, as they are arranged in Nature; and in no
case is it safe for a man to neglect to master any single detail, however
dreary and distasteful it may seem. It often does so, indeed; that only
insists on the necessity of dealing with it. The dislike and contempt for
it bear witness to a weakness and incompleteness in the nature which
disowns it; that particular gap in one's defences may admit the enemy at
the very turning-point of some battle. Worse, one were shamed for ever if
one's inferior should happen to ask for advice and aid on that subject and
one were to fail in service to him! His failure - one's own failure also!
No step, however well won for oneself, till he is ready for his own
Every Member of the A.'.
A.'. must be armed at all points, and expert with every weapon. The
examinations in every Grade are strict and severe; no loose or vague
answers are accepted. In intellectual questions, the candidate must
display no less mastery of his subject than if he were entered in the
"final" for Doctor of Science or Law at a first class University.
In examination of physical
practices, there is a standardised test. In Asana, for instance, the
candidate must remain motionless for a given time, his success being
gauged by poising on his head a cup filled with water to the brim; if he
spill one drop, he is rejected.
He is tested in "the Spirit Vision" or "Astral Journeying"
by giving him a symbol unknown and unintelligible to him, and he must
interpret its nature by means of a vision as exactly as if he had read its
name and description in the book when it was chosen.
The power to make and
"charge" talismans is tested as if they were scientific
instruments of precision, as they are.
In the Qabalah, the
candidate must discover for himself, and prove to the examiner beyond all
doubt, the properties of a number never previously examined by any
In invocation the divine force must be made as manifest and unmistakable
as the effects of chloroform; in evocation, the spirit called forth must
be at least as visible and tangible as the heaviest vapours; in divination,
the answer must be as precise as a scientific thesis, and as accurate as
an audit; in meditation, the results must read like a specialist's report
of a classical case.
But such methods, the A.'.
A.'. intends to make occult science as systematic and scientific as
chemistry; to rescue it from the ill repute which, thanks both to the
ignorant and dishonest quacks that have prostituted its name, and to the
fanatical and narrow-minded enthusiasts that have turned it into a fetish,
has made it an object of aversion to those very minds whose enthusiasm and
integrity make them most in need of its benefits, and most fit to obtain
It is the one really
important science, for it transcends the conditions of material existence
and so is not liable to perish with the planet, and it must be studied as
a science, sceptically, with the utmost energy and patience.
The A.'. A.'. possesses the
secrets of success; it makes no secret of its knowledge, and if its
secrets are not everywhere known and practised, it is because the abuses
connected with the name of occult science disincline official
investigators to examine the evidence at their disposal.
This paper has been written
not only with the object of attracting individual seekers into the way of
Truth, but of affirming the propriety of the methods of the A.'. A.'. as
the basis for the next great step in the advance of human knowledge.