Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law. – Liber AL vel Legis I:40

Every A.’.A.’. lineage or branch naturally interprets Aleister Crowley’s teachings differently regarding the requirements for each grade and although we all share the basic foundation; the Beauty of the Tree of Life is seen in our diversity. What I am about to discuss are but a few of the preliminary thoughts regarding our teachings in Grady Louis McMurtry’s A.’.A.’. about the grade of the Practicus 3=8 which is centered in the Qabalistic Sphere of Hod.

Many Neophytes 1=10 in our man of Earth grade initially want study or do rituals reflective of the mundane or horizontal plane in general; or things external to their own being. Although Malkuth-10 represents the Earth in a generic sense it also represents the initiate’s body or the vehicle in which they incarnate. It is our job to re-direct their focus from thinking outwardly toward studies which require them to come to terms with their anatomy. If they fail to understand why, then most will be ill-prepared when moving upward into Yesod-9 as a Zelator 2=9. … For once in Yesod the initiate learns that this sphere is their Muladhara chakra; their first psychic power zone which is often referred to as pure animalistic energy that sleeps coiled ready to spring; it is our libido. It is our sexuality. It is what binds our Spirit to our body.

Up to now an A.’.A.’. initiate can withdraw at any time but if they persist and enter the Lover grade, there are dangers. Aleister Crowley has stated in The Equinox Vol. I No. 7 (p. 392) that, “Our system of initiation is to be triune. For the outer, tests of labour, pain, etc. For the inner, intellectual tests. For the elect of the A.’.A.’., spiritual tests.”

And consider this:

“There is a word to say about the Hierophantic task. Behold! there are three ordeals in one,
and it may be given in three ways. The gross must pass through fire; let the fine
be tried in intellect, and the lofty chosen ones in the highest.
Thus ye have star & star, system & system; let not one
know well the other!” –Liber AL vel Legis I:50

Upon entering the sphere of Hod-8 we begin the “intellectual tests,” but we have deviated off the Middle Pillar and entered into the male-oriented Left-Hand Pillar whereby a candidate can easily become unbalanced. According to Aleister Crowley, “The Lover giveth his life unto the work among men” and he refers to the Lover simply as an “Adeptus.” In an attempt to begin controlling his Ego (lower Ruach) the Adeptus must become like a Grail Knight, giving up Self that he might receive a Greater Glory. This is his quest. All his studies are reflective of this single goal. Crowley has written that a major requirement for this Grade is “[e]leven years of service as an Adeptus” before one is admitted into the next Grade, or that of the Hermit. It is further written that beware lest this is not fulfilled for the Gods exact the price one way or the other.

The sphere of Hod is often referred to as Mercury, the phallus or penis but this is not the actual object or energy (Malkuth & Yesod) as much as the internal mechanism which allows the penis to rise and, once risen, it allows the animal man to be driven blindly via the descending Left-Hand Pillar to seek an orgasm and propagate his species … but the male magician must learn how not to idly cast his seed to the wind. He takes every single drop of the energy and gives it to the Goddess as a Greater Marriage. But do not take the above comment wrong; although the human phallus is clearly part of the male flesh it is also a quest found within the female initiate. Both men and women have the same Tree of Life but both work the Tree differently. The Secret of ON : in the lower Ruach men naturally function within Hod, carrying the Magickal Wand as they seek the Grail whereas women naturally functioning out of Netzach carrying the Grail while seeking the Magickal Wand. Aleister Crowley made the magickal implements in both Hod and Netzach reflective of this formula. In Hod we seek the Cup, in Netzach we seek the Wand.

Still, with the wealth of teachings at our fingertips from numerous fraternities and religions throughout the world, the majority of all students in every lineage fall by the wayside within the first few degrees. Most finding the greatest stumbling block as a Zelator 2=9 in Yesod, the sphere of the Moon; never to go beyond. Sexuality is usually their stumbling block.

It is in this Light that I teach some OTO (horizontal) Mysteries to my students in our A.’.A.’. (vertical) so that they might better learn some of the workings of both mind and flesh. These teachings help our students better understand their libido and the “square” in the circle/squared of both Yesod-9 and Hod-8. This is the primary reason why I wanted to review certain chapters from The Book of Lies, i.e. those on Chastity. Although the Chapters we discussed are not the VIIth Degree OTO Secrets, they are mentioned on page one of the VIIth Degree grade paper titled Liber CCXXVIII (228) Liber De Natura Deorum (Of the Nature of the Gods) as examples of the physiological basis of our Oversoul, or Essence beyond Kether.

To further Understand why we teach VIIth Degree theory a Practicus should first consider this as a Foundation Stone:

1. – Minerval & First Degree OTO (representing Birth); Chakra: Anja/Chokmah & Vishudha/Binah,
i.e. pillars: Jachin & Boaz … Direction & Weapon : East – DISK … Air.
LIGHT (Liber CL)

2. – Second Degree OTO (Life); Chakra: Anahata/Chesed, Geburah & Tiphereth.
Direction & Weapon : South – SWORD … Fire.
LIFE (Liber CL)

3. – Third Degree OTO (Death); Chakra: Svadhisthana/Hod, Mercury
Direction & Weapon : West – CUP … Water.
LOVE (Liber CL)

4. – Fourth Degree OTO/Lodge of Perfection (Re-birth); Chakra: Manipura/Netzach.
Direction & Weapon : North – WAND … Earth.

Working out of Hod – When an OTO initiate conquers Death in Third Degree they will be reborn into a New Temple in the Fourth Degree (i.e. Netzach-7) called Perfection. This means that the old Saladin theme used in the initiation chamber will be left behind and a new Temple theme put into place. The lessons behind this transition of energy is to unconsciously prepare the initiate for the greater Mysteries later taught openly in the Hermetic Triad beginning with VIIth Degree where an initiate is taught the proper Mysteries of the phallic energy within the metaphor of Saladin’s Tent (VIIth) and its proper placement (VIIIth), being the quest of the Holy Grail.

Working out of Hod – In A.’.A.’., things move much faster, and Grady McMurtry so believed in the similarities between this Order and OTO that he felt a Practicus in A.’.A.’. must consciously learn the same Laws as taught in the Upper Degree of VIIth in OTO in order to understand, as a scientists, how the Square works for the Circle to be fulfilled in their bodies.

At first this might seem confusing, but it is not. Consider these facts:

Aleister Crowley writes, in One Star in Sight, that the Practicus who is in Hod “is expected to complete intellectual training, and in particular to the study the Qabalah.” The Practicus must study in-depth the sacred language of their Ruach. Too many magicians in OTO believe that all they have to do is “think” at the point of orgasm and they effectively program their seed, but what they fail to realize is that conscious language focuses downward. A true magician Understands the language of the Goddess; secret O Man. … On all levels, Mercury is the planet which represents our essential communication skills, internally out outwardly.

Besides Qabalah every Practicus must also develop some form of divination between himself and his Angel and learn how to interpret it correctly. For when 3=8 inevitably (reverses and) becomes 8=3, the Master of the Temple will be required to “interpret every phenomenon as a particular dealing of God with his soul,” and there can be no mistakes made at this point. For the simplest of mistakes will allow Choronzon to corrupt the knowledge of the magician. It is said that part of the teachings of the Practicus is the story of Parsifal and the quest for the Holy Grail. This story is a Foundation Stone that he’ll later need, or farther up on the Tree of Life. For now, and over-view of the story is appropriate: Parsifal is a young man whose mother has raised him deep in the forests since his father’s death and who, upon encountering knights, realizes that this is what he wants to be and so his journey takes him to King Arthur’s court, where a beautiful young girl predicts greatness for him. He sets out on a quest to find his fate, eventually coming to the Castle of the Fisher King, who invites him to stay the evening. During each course of his supper Parsifal witnesses a strange procession in which young men and women carry magnificent objects from one chamber to another. First comes a young man carrying a bleeding lance, then two boys carrying candelabras. Finally, a beautiful young girl emerges bearing an elaborately decorated Grail containing a single Mass wafer, which miraculously sustains the wounded Fisher King, whose injuries are to his groin. Yet still unhealed, his kingdom suffers, and his impotence affects the fertility of the land, reducing it to a barren desert-like wasteland. Parsifal, who had been warned against talking, remains silent throughout this spectacle and he wakes up the next morning alone. Parsifal then returns to Arthur’s court and it is here that an old lady enters the court and reprimands him for failing to interpret the situation correctly and to ask his host about the Holy Grail, as the appropriate question would have healed the wounded king.

“Before passing on to the final scenes of this Drama, it is necessary
that we should know something of the Great Ceremony of Initiation into the Grade
of the Master of the Temple which Parzival was undergoing.”
– Frater Achad, The Chalice of Ecstasy

According to Liber Aleph, the Left-Hand Pillar of the Tree of Life works off the Male Formula of O or Ayin (in the Formula ON) which is the path located between Tiphereth-6 (Sun) and Hod-8 (Mercury) … and Hod is pivotal in achieving the over-all goal of ‘O’ … and as such, we must always consider this sphere’s Phallic nature on its lowest level, the human body as taught in VIIth Degree. Here initiates are taught about Chastity. But as our discussions posted on our blog have already indicated, this is not going without sex as much as learning how to control our “Words”  … our SPEECH … either in utterance or written, because Words are the mirror of our SOUL, i.e. Yesod … but these are not Words in the sense that most think, hence the folly of most magicians.

Yes, a Practicus is also required to learn to control Speech. (Liber XIII Graduum Montis Abiegni Eq. I:3 pg. 6.) Not an idle task. But this is not just learning to control our utterances both spoken and written … but also a more secret matter related to the sphere of Hod-Mercury in regards to its counterpart, the human phallus. But remember, when trying to fulfill the formula of your Grade, the Circle always comes first, or before the Square.

Study well Liber III vel Jvgorvm. Crowley writes that The Book of the Yoke is “[a]n instruction for the control of speech, action and thought.”

Also, study Liber DLV.

Consider this:

“If this be not aright; if ye confound the space-marks, saying:
They are one; or saying, They are many; if the ritual be not ever unto me:
then expect the direful judgments of Ra Hoor Khuit!” – Liber AL vel Legis I:52

Many a magician fail here in the sphere of Hod. They learn Jnana Yoga proper, the path to Knowledge and through this art of Intellect they learn how the Left- Hand Pillar descends Gnosis (Knowledge) from out of Binah-3 to be received in Hod-8. We teach the Practicus that the word Qabalah means ‘receiving,’ not ‘seeking’ Knowledge, for to seek anything is an admittance that do you not have what is being sought. … but occasionally, and with great sadness, we find a Practicus who begins to see how “Intellectual”they are becoming, and as in a recent case, driven by an overzealous Ego whereby they believe their quest more important than serving humanity, they do stupid things like thinking it is “their” destiny to swear the Oath of the Abyss. They wear a False Crown. Knowledge becomes corrupt. We can only warn all those who are a Practicus, that their Ego is not yet fully under control nor are the Squares of two primary Spheres (Netzach and Tiphereth) put into place in their Temple … they are in an unbalanced Pillar … but inevitably we will always find a Practicus who thinks himself greater than his teachers and, bathed in Ego, they forget that Practicus is a Latin word meaning ‘one who practices’ and not ‘one who has knowledge’ … and yes, although we are teaching the Practicus how to receive greater Knowledge, we are not teaching them how to be stupid. Some are learning this on their own.

There are four stages to Jnana yoga; consider them wisely in relationship to the four Degrees of OTO listed previously, along with the Practicus studies in general.

1. Viveka, which means ‘Discrimination.’ This gives us our ability to distinguish between what is Eternal
and ‘real’ in reference to the ‘Circle’ and what is temporal or ‘unreal’ in reference to the Square.

2. Vairagya, which means ‘Dispassion.’ A person who achieves this state is able to detach themselves
from any one thing’s being important over another; they fully realize that which fades away and is
not important in the greater scheme of things.

3. Shad-sampat. These are the Six Virtues: Tranquility (control of the mind), Dama (control of the
senses), Uparati (renunciation of activities that are not duties), Titiksha (endurance), Shraddha
(faith), Samadhana (perfect concentration).

4. Mumukshutva, which means an intense longing for liberation from temporal limitations.

Thus we have Light, Life, Love and Liberty …

If a Practicus succeeds in the sphere Hod-8 and crosses over into Netzach-7 they must pass through the path of The Tower (Peh-80) which represents energies connected with spiritual awakening in the lower Ruach. In The Book of Lies this path is discussed in “The Stag Beetle.” … A revealing bit of Truth is seen in the lightning bolt (fire) striking The Tower card (i.e. The Tower of Babel) which portrays the destructive aspect of Speech. It is here on the lower level that Parsifal first became confronted by the barren desert-like wasteland. It is here that he should have asked the Fisher King about his wound in his groin area; but he kept quiet and knew not how to ask the appropriate question. Redemption will be another quest in yet another barren wasteland further up on the Tree of Life. In OTO (and even Masonry in general) the most sacred Word is that of the death ritual of Third Degree, which is taught while an initiate is in Hod-8 (Mercury). This Word must never be uttered outside the Temple, but rarely is the reason fully explained. To violate this Law or utter the Word improperly would imply that the initiate has failed to conquer Death which would means that a Third Degree initiate would have no right to the Fourth Degree any more than a Practicus 3=8 who has not controlled Speech has the right to Philosophus 4=7. … And in either case, they must return to the court of King Arthur, it being Malkuth.

Note: The path of Death being Nun, the letter N, or the feminine second half of the Formula of ON as taught in Liber Aleph which is rooted in Netzach-7.

The Magickal Implement taught to a Practicus in A.’.A.’. regarding Hod-8 is the Cup or Grail. It is a receiving implement, and, like the Chalice of Babalon in Binah, if you spill even a single drop of your Word while in Hod-8 (Mercury-Phallus) you’ve failed to conqueror Death nor fully understood the secrets behind Liber CCXXVIII (228). A Practicus 3=8 must obtain their Magickal Cup and submit to their superior not only an Epistle on their Understanding of this implement but of one particular Number as proof of their Qabalistic skills. Crowley writes in One Star in Sight – “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 a student.” Once approved by their superior, this number is to be put onto the Chalice in fashion as taught. When a Practicus 3=8 achieves becoming a Philosophus 4=7 and moves into Netzach they should then study the VIIIth Degree Grade Paper of OTO in order to understand how the Square works within this sphere in their anatomy.

Saladin asks, “I pray you, give me to drink thereof.”
And the Emir then brings him a Cup filled with the last drops of moisture
from the corner of the Well. – Third Degree OTO

All in all, this brief epistle gives you some thoughts as to why we began discussing VIIth Degree Chastity in relationship to The Book of Lies on our blog. It was to start preparing a few of our Practicus for the leap to a Philosophus, but, unfortunately, before the secrets of VIIth were fully revealed in our discussions one Practicus became stupid and we got sidetracked into talking about the Oath of the Abyss. Maybe some day we’ll continue with the VIIth Degree discussion … and reveal how its teachings allow you to receive Gnosis into your Word so that, unutterably, it can be brought over to the female side of the Tree as taught in Liber Aleph regarding the Formula ON, and the barren wasteland will become fruitful, the Fisher King healed.

“Pour thine all freely from the Vase in thy right hand, and lose no drop!
Hath not thy left hand a vase? Transmute all wholly into the Image of thy Will,
bringing each to its true token of Perfection! Dissolve the Pearl in the Wine-cup:
drink, and make manifest the Virtue of that Pearl!”
The Heart of The Master

Suggested references to consider:

Works by Aleister Crowley:

Gems from the Equinox; Liber Collegii Sancti, Svb Figura CLXXV (185), pgs. 1121-1123 – The Practicus

“Furthermore, he shall construct the magic Cup, according to the instruction in Liber A.”

Liber A vel Armorum, Sub Figurum CCCXIII (412) – The Cup

“Let the Practicus take a piece of Silver and fashion therefrom a cup. The height shall be 8 inches,
and the diameter 3 inches.
Let him by his understanding and ingenium devise a Number to represent the Universe.
Let his Philosophus approve thereof.
Let the Practicus engrave the same upon his cup with his own hand and instrument.
Let it when finished be consecrated as he hath skill to perform, and kept wrapped in silk of azure
blue. “

Liber XIII (13) Graduum Montis Abiegni Eq. I:3 pg. 6 – 4. The Practicus

“Instruction and Examination in Control of Speech. Practical.
Further, he casts the magic Cup.”

Liber B vel Magi, Sub Figura I — Section 8. — regarding the Cup

“8. With the Cup preserveth He”

Liber Astarte vel Berylli, Sub Gigura CLXXV (175) section 9. Concerning the Robes and Instruments.

“Concerning the Robes and Instruments. The Wand and Cup are to be chosen for this Art; never
the Sword or Dagger, never the Pantacle, unless that Pantacle chance to be of a nature harmonious.
But even so it is best to keep the Wand and Cup, and if one must choose, the Cup. “

Magick Without Tears, Chapter 23 “Improvising a Temple,” pg. 170.

“The Cup. There are plenty of chalices to be bought. It should be of silver. If ornamented, the best
form is that of the apple. I have seen suitable cups in many shops.”

Suggested reading:

Works by Aleister Crowley:

Liber DLV (555), Liber HAD

Liber III vel Jvgorvm

Magick in Theory & Practice, Chapter VII “The Formula of the Holy Graal”

Book Four, part II Magick, Chapter VII “The Cup”

Liber Aleph, “ON the keys of Death and the Devil, Arcana of the Tarot of the R.C. Brotherhood.”

Liber CCXXVIII (228) Liber De Natura Deorum (Of the Nature of the Gods)

Works by Swami Vivekananda:


Works by Frater Achad:

The Chalice of Ecstasy, Parzival – in particular “Point III: The Redemption of the Redeemer”


Here is a blog entry posted after the above Epistle was made public:

Sunday September 13th, 2009 – 11:00am Mike here is the quote I was trying to find about the branches of the Tree and the chakras. I’m posting it on the blog because others might find it amusing in regards to the Practicus. It is found in The Psychology of Kundalini Yoga, Notes of the Seminar Given in 1932 by C. G. Jung, Edited by Sonu Shamdasani; Princeton University Press, Bollingen Series XCIX 1996, pg. 63. … Jung writes, “We begin in the head; we identify with our eyes and our consciousness: quite detached and objective, we survey the world. That is Ajna. Because we cannot linger forever in the pure spheres of detached observation, we must bring our thoughts into reality. We voice them and so trust them to the air. When we clothe our knowledge into words, we are in the region of visuddha, or the throat center.” … Below the Heart Center, or Anahata chakra, Jung adds, “If we go lower still, the situation becomes impossible, because then the body begins to speak.” … We know this to be true. In fact, below the Anahata (Outer Adept) is where we are trying to lay a psychic Foundation in our body of control. As for the Svadhisthana in the Qabalistic sphere of Hod, (i.e. Practicus) Jung adds, “Only when this level becomes activated did mankind awaken from the sleep of muladhara and learn the first rules of bodily decency” …. adding that this is the “beginning of moral education” … which we know to be both physical and spiritual.
This is why the study of the Grail is so important in Hod. If you deceive your teachers, your superiors, students and friends and think that the quest is all about you, then Klingsor is your ally, not the Light. In Wolfram von Eschenbach’s Parzival (NY: Vintage Books 1961, Chapt. IX, pg. 244) it warns those who begin the “adventure” that you “had to learn the ABC’s but without the art of Black Magic” … it is an Angelic quest, the Demon and all his arts bathed in the first glimmerings of an overzealous ego must be put under control at the very beginning. … It is in the sphere of Hod that moral fiber and intellect go hand in hand. Hod is the first sphere above animal instinct (Yesod) and it is here, on the first true footing of the path, that the ordeals are made severe according to Liber AL vel Legis. And it is here where the ego is the strongest and the pull toward Malkuth greatest.


Love is the law, love under will. – AL I:57