Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law –AL I:40
The Caliphate letters are extremely important in Thelemic history becauase they were Aleister Crowley’s attempt at laying out a spiritual descent from himself, the Prophet of Thelema, rather than a mundane link through fraternal connections. In a letter sent from his home at the Bell Inn on November 21st to Grady Louis McMurtry, Aleister Crowley gives us insight into the Caliphate. The actual letter states, “The Caliphate. You must realize that no matter how closely we may see eye-to-eye on any objective subject, I have to think on a totally different premises where the Order is concerned. One of the (startling few) commands given to me was this: ‘Trust not a stranger: fail not of an heir.’ This has been the very devil for me. Fr. Saturnus is of course the natural Caliph; but there are many details concerning the actual policy or working which hit his blind spots. In any case, he can only be a stopgap, because of his age; I have to look for his successor. It has been Hell; so many have come up with amazing promise, only to go on the rocks … I do not think of you as lying on a grassy hillside with a lot of dear sweet lovely woolly lambs, capering to your flute! On the contrary. Your actual life, or ‘blooding’, is the sort of initiation which I regard as the first essential for a Caliph. (Saturnus) had lots of it: Iron + twice wounded: rose from the ranks to 1st Lieut = our major. For – say 20 years hence the Outer Head of the Order must, amongst other things, have had the experience of war as it is in actual fact to-day.” … Of course, those who presently argue that “the Calihpate is something that Grady started back in 1977 are obviously misguided, if not fostering a personal agenda, because by Crowley’s own admission, Germer was to be the first Caliph. This makes the Caliphate beginning in 1948 and not 1977 as often bantered about. … Crowley then goes on in his letter to say that, “1965 e.v. should be a critical period in the development of the Child Horus!” This would turn out to be very true although years later Grady would wonder about the nature of the number 65 itself and its relationship to Adonai amongst other things. … Grady would later explain about letter that obviously it showed that Crowley “could foresee the future,” and basically that’s why “I am Caliph. Not merely because I am a poet … I belong to that vanishing breed known as the ‘Warrior-troubadour’ … when the battle is over you take off your piss pot (which is what we call our helmet) and sit down in your muddy combat boots and write a poem about it (see my Normandy in June for an example), but also because I know what it is like to ‘go in,’ as we say … basically, I am Caliph because I am a soldier: First, last and always.” He further explained that he has often been misunderstood by the “weak sisters,” expressing to them that he was not their “Groovy Guru … who is here to perform while you sit around and are entertained. I am here to find that iron core of dedicated Thelemites …” Grady attempted to further elucidate the Caliphate, as it was explained to him by Aleister Crowley, in a letter to a friend in 1973. He wrote that Crowley had told him, “Your actual life, or ‘blooding’ is the sort of initiation which I (i.e. Crowley) regard as the first essential for a Caliph …” Grady then addresses a comment made by his friend, remarking that “exposure to drugs will, as you point out, accelerate one’s vibrations. So will prolonged exposure to violence, and I have walked away from 6 battlefields on 2 continents.” … No one can deny that Grady McMurtry went through the proper ‘blooding’ – he had his soul torn on the battlefields in preparation for the ordeals that Aleister Crowley foresaw in his future.
The actual letter of November 21st 1944 from Crowley to Grady McMurtry is eight pages with the end notes; we reproduce only the first two pages due to the contents of the others detailing in-depth XIth Degree O.T.O. instructions. In fact, in Aleister Crowley’s unpublished diaries on this date, regarding his letter, he simply records that he dealt with “IX & Caliphate.” … Although, one of the last pages has a note which we reproduced below:
This ‘note’ of utmost importance because Aleister Crowley acknowledges the “Caliphate, it is not mine” to give, followed by a quote supposedly by John Bunyan – “My Sword to him that can get it” and then adding, that “everyone can make him – or herself – of Presidential Timber.” … In other words, as Grady would put it, Crowley “simply left it open ended. I had certain advantages. If I could establish myself in the order of succession, fine and good.” … Crowley did this for magickal reasons with both Grady’s magickal motto of 777 and Caliphate.
Years later Grady would comment in a letter to Phyllis Seckler, dated January 28th 1969, that Crowley gave him the number 777 to signify his belief that Grady was his magickal if not “adopted son.” In the same letter, Grady typed a question, asking; “why didn’t he ‘publicly’ say so?” He answers this himself by saying that the answer is found in Crowley’s November 21st 1944 letter in which the Beast laments, “It has been hell; so many have come up with amazing promise, only to go on the rocks.” The reference is to the failure of such promising students as Frater Achad (C. S. Jones) and Norman Mudd. Grady admits that Crowley knew that in “the ordinary course of events, finding a student, training, schooling him, had not produced the heir.” Grady adds, that in the past, Crowley’s proclaiming the son, “may have even have prevented it by letting loose Goetic forces that destroyed the ‘crown prince’.” Grady uses the ancient Chinese parable of the Grandmother who, “when confronted with some idiot complimenting her on the beauty of her latest grandchild, immediately throws the demons off the scent by proclaiming loudly how ugly it is, how deformed, how poor in appearance, etc., for she knows, from ancient wisdom, that the maleficent forces only attack the rare, the good, and the beautiful, for why should they attack that which is already ugly, deformed and of no value?”
How did Crowley learn to circumvent this problem? Grady claims, that in his “opinion, he [Crowley] adopted the role of indirection.” … This is why the note at the end of this letter where Crowley quotes John Bunyan (1628–1688), an infamous Christian writer, is so important. Crowley acknowledges the “Caliphate is not mine” to give, followed supposedly by a quote of John Bunyan’s – “My Sword to him that can get it” but many people over the years have been unable to locate this quote. First, John Bunyan (1628–1688) is an infamous Christian writer but Crowley is paraphrasing him when he writes “My Sword to him that can get it.” The actual passage, to which Crowley is referring, is from Bunyan’s classic novel The Pilgrim’s Progress (1678). In the second part of the book the main characters meets another pilgrim along the way called Mr. Honest. At one point in the story Mr. Honest calls together all his new friends and announces that “I die, but shall make no will.” … He then utters the classic lines –
“I am going to my Father’s; and though with great difficulty I have got hither, yet now I do not repent me of all the trouble I have been at to arrive where I am. My sword I give to him that shall succeed me in my pilgrimage,
and my courage and skill to him that can get it. My marks and scars
I carry with me, to be a witness for me that I have fought His battles
who will now be my rewarder. ” – Mr.Honest
Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law –AL I:40