With a detailed description of the genesis of the work,
its content and magickal significance in
The Aeon of THELEMA
Half leather edition
Limited to 200 copies
Heart of the Master represents a seminal moment in Crowleys’ career and as his Proclamation of the Grade of Ipsissimus, should be considered one of the most important works Aleister Crowley ever produced.
English vellum with cloth covered slipcase
Limited to 22 copies
In 1924, after almost a lifetime of intense study and determined experimentation, Crowley passed through “The Supreme Ordeal” of the Ipsissimus Grade while staying in Paris. The Grade of Ipsissimus being the highest of a series of ten magickal attainments in an ancient system Crowley inherited from The Hermetic Order of The Golden Dawn into which he had been admitted in 1898.
(from a Golden Dawn notebook by W.B.Yeats)
Crowley had initially sworn the Oath of the Ipsissimus Grade in May of 1921 but like most initiations, it took time to fully realize.
“From the Winter Solstice 1923 to the Spring Equinox 1924, I underwent a supreme initiation whose object was to fit me for undertaking this commission personally. At one period it was necessary for me to ascend from the most tenuous regions of pure air through a series of vast caverns so devised that nothing human could possibly pass through them into the regions of pure fire. To accomplish this it was necessary that I should be exhausted physically to the utmost point compatible with continued life.”
Crowley was now an Ipsissimus and determined as ever to fulfil the tasks charged to him by the Secret Chiefs. Yet he felt stagnated, was living in poverty and struggling to survive.
Enter Dorothy Olsen…
Born in 1892, Dorothy was a young American woman travelling in Europe when she first met Crowley, who was 17 years her senior. She joined the A.’.A.’. and took the motto Soror Astrid. Almost immediately she drew Crowley’s interest and much to Leah’s displeasure he found in Dorothy the spark of life and a fresh Magical current that revived and aroused him.
By the autumnal equinox, Leah had renounced her title as the Scarlet Woman and Crowley immediately appointed Dorothy to this Office. It would now be Soror Astrid who aided Crowley in receiving the Word of the Equinox; their first together that Fall was “OM”, received on September 20th. Leah had been officially replaced. Two days later Crowley announced that the Secret Chiefs were sending him and his new Scarlet Woman on retreat in Tunis; Leah collapsed in grief.
The following day Crowley and Dorothy boarded a train to Marseille, and from there they planned to catch a ferry en route to Tunis. All went as expected and according to Crowley’s journals, they set sail at noon on the 24th of September.
During their voyage and “in the midst of the Mediterranean Sea” Crowley was inspired to make the following proclamation, his first as a true Ipsissimus:
Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law
My Term of Office upon the Earth being come in the year of the foundation of the Theosophical Society, I took upon myself, in my turn, the sin of the whole World, that the Prophecies might be fulfilled, so that Mankind may take the Next Step from the Magical Formula of Osiris to that of Horus. And mine Hour being now upon me, I proclaim my Law
The Word of the Law is THELEMA
The Heart of the Master is divided into three parts; The Vision, The Voice and The Temple of Truth. Though the inspiration for this work was a vision, it is not considered a Class A document and was instead released in Class B (those of ordinary scholarship). Yet the circumstances of its reception are remarkable and somewhat unique, bordering on what may be considered a truly “inspired” text.
Crowley records in his journal:
“At night went into trance, and beheld the Vision called the Heart of the Master. At one moment I nearly fainted: and just then Brother Bar-On saw physically in the courtyard an inverted cone of blue light…”
Building on the stages of Samadhi trance in the first part (The Vision), Crowley goes on to elaborate the ten sephiroth and 22 paths of the Tree of Life (The Voice) and completes the work in a third part (The Temple of Truth), here we are provided with a synopsis of the philosophical foundations of the Great White Brotherhood leading up to THELEMA. Those said to have been guiding the Spiritual evolution of Man since time immemorial….
The final section of this book is entitled “The Mystery of Sin” which is arguably among the most brilliant summations of the Law of Thelema ever written. Its instructions regarding “sin” are precise. Those new to Thelema, and even accomplished Students, often struggle with the concept of how one goes about accomplishing their True Will and no clearer or concise instruction can be pointed to then what is written here. It is highly recommended that the Aspirant return with regularity to its study.