Sunday, July 5, 2009

Golden Verses of Pythagoras

The Golden Verses of Pythagoras - Theatre of magick 7
First estimate the norms of necessity, that are not subject to death, in the manner
ordered by law. (1)
Also hold the oath in honour. (2)
Hold also in honour the noble heroes and the daemons pertaining to the Earth, fulfilling
what is lawful. (3)
Estimate Kin, those nearest whereof thou art sprung. (4)
But who so of the others is most manful in manhood, make him thy lover. (5)
Model thyself by his gentle words, by his fruitful deeds. Rate him not for a small
waywardness that thou mayest have power. For power lieth hard by necessity. (6)
These things accustom thyself to rule - the desires of the belly, of sleep, of lechery and
of wrath. (7)
Do no base act, whether in public or in private. Of all these things first respect thine own
self. (8)
Then practice justice in both deed and word. (9)
Acquire the habit of keeping thyself free from thoughtlessness in all matters soever. But
know thou how it hath been appointed for all to die. (10)
Things cleansed have a way of coming now and being gone (11)
Estimate the necessary evils for what they are, and endure them all; by thy will, modify
them. Then will their effect on thee be small indeed. (12)
Be thou tolerant of the ways of others.
Truth and error likewise have their lovers. If error triumph, go thy way and wait. (13)
Beware of prejudice and another’s truths. Judge all things for thyself (14)
Estimate the consequences of thine actions. Perform thy will freely (15)
The fool understandeth this not. In the present thou shouldest contemplate the future.(16)

Pretence obstructs. Rather instruct thyself. Time and patience favour all . (17)
Neglect not thy health. (18)
Dispense with moderation. Food to the body and to the mind repose. (19)
Avoid excess in seeking or showing attention. For envy to either is alike attached (20)
Choose in all things a mean befitting thy will (21)
Ever estimate thine own omissions; question they works completed (22)
Abstain if these confound thy will; do what thou wilt. (23)
Meditate upon thy will, adhere to it, follow it. To heroic divinity will it lead thee (24)
I swear it by the One who teaches our soul to know itself. (25)
Before all things, in conformity with thy will, invoke the gods by whose aid alone the
work began is completed. (26)
Instructed by them thou shalt see thyself clearly. Of all things shalt thou know the essence; thou shalt be one with the Kosmos. (27)
The high and the low unite their forces to produce the unchanging All. (28)
Thine actions strengthen thou through thy will, unburdened at impulse and vain desire.(29)
Then shall no evil befall thee (30)
Be thou not a plaything of thy passions, reacting to adversity. (31)
God! Thou coulds’t save them by opening their eyes. (32)
But no: ‘tis for the divine hero to discern error and to see the truth.(33)
Nature serves him. (34)
Perform thy will and rest in its haven.
Observe thy will, avoiding non-lawful actions. Thy will must reign over all things. (35)

Although Crowley and Loyola produced a full commentary on these lines much of it is of a philosophical nature and would therefore be misplaced here. That commentary has been drawn upon only where appropriate to the present subject and additions have been made where necessary.
1. That which is not subject to death, athanotos, is God or natural power. The man wishing to harness such power and use it on his own behalf must ascertain its nature and its ways. This he does through observation an& study. Man is a part of nature and a force of nature no less than any other form of existence.
2. The oath taken by the magician is a statement of the parameters, the constructs of a belief system, within which he is prepared to work. This is not an easy matter and he should not be afraid to modify this oath in accordance with the growth of his experience. The oath may be a simple statement or it may be as intriguing and complex a work as the British Constitution.
3. The hero is the man already successful in magick. He serves as an example to all who follow him. lie is proof that the horror of the path is not futility. Man is a partaker of the substance of the Earth and is bound by its laws, both known and unknown. Daemons are natural laws, powers observable in man or in the cosmos which cannot be understood or explained by science/logic. The postulant must ‘explore the mysterious region of his subtle relations with the Earth, and satisfy the spiritual conditions which obtain there.’ (A. C.)
4. The parents are the clay from which the man is constructed. They are also the first human beings with whom he has prolonged close contact, In observing or remembering them he has a model of traits to foster or eliminate in himself. Further, it is in the nature of parents to condition their offspring into the types and modes of behaviour and activity which they find most acceptable. Most generations however look back on the previous generation critically, not only decrying what that generation did but also what it thought. There is no standard of right and wrong here - merely the truism that certain thoughts arid actions are right at certain times. In analysing the belief constructs imposed upon him, intentionally or not, by his parents the magician enables himself to strip away the beliefs which he had hitherto held to be his own but which are now seen to be unnecessary accretions. The smallest details are the most important. Conditioning, the nurturing of one’s own beliefs in someone else, is not the sole province of the patent. When a commercial tries to sell a product it also tries to sell its whole world view. When a politician accuses you of being apathetic he means apathetic towards him which is probably no better than he deserves. All beliefs should be examined. The verses have more to say on this later.
5. Love is a chemical attraction. As oxygen and hydrogen join together to express their love in a quality neither possesses in itself, so can the magician, through joining his mind to that of the hero, become more fluid in his appraisal of his own situation, appreciating those elements lacking in himself which would bring about his own transubstantiation.
6. The hero’s words, his logos, are an expression of his magical identity, his formula. The joining of their minds through love (agape non eras) inspires the hero to divulge that nature which the friend may use as a model. The hero’s deeds, his will expressed in action, are used in the same way. His misdeeds,
those actions which aver from his true will, should not be imitated; they are the tests and, thereby, the great strength of the disciples’ love, of which his own power is an extension. It is in any case self-restrictive to expect the universe to comply with arbitrary values. In tolerating the weaknesses of his friend the magician expands his universe and becomes stronger.
7. This line has a freshness which has withstood the cancer of the repressive religions of the past two thousand years. It does not seek to impose a value judgment, a code of morality; but merely indicates that the passions endowed upon man by nature to ensure his survival must be ruled and not yet destroyed if he is to initiate himself. The appetites and reactions must be held in check one against the other and all in their proper relation to the will.
8. In this line is enshrined the basis of the cult of self, self-love and true will. Here there is no instruction toward altruism. An abasing deed is just as shameful whether it be performed privately or in company. There is no golden rule, ones own consideration being the only measure. The corollary of this is that every action should be an expression of the True Will. To do otherwise is magical suicide. ‘Shame is . . . by actual etymology as well as by the psychological analysis, to be defined as the denial of the self ’ (A. C.)
9. Here is the positive expression of the negative instruction in the previous line. The magician ‘works’ his raw material, his self, honing his habits to the steel of his will, the only non-arbitrary justice.
10. That which is thoughtless is illogical, not partaking of the logos, the magical identity, the innermost lore of the magician. Any action not directly in accord with the will is derogatory to magical integrity. Knowledge is the corollary of death in both the practical and etymological sense. The fable of Adam and Eve is an illustration of this. Knowledge is duality, an extension of monistic consciousness, a willed appreciation of one’s relationship with everything that is not self. In this sense monism is indeed innocence but its antithesis is not guilt or sin as posited by the religions but innocence or experience as described by mystics such as Blake and Spare. One’s own death exists only in the imagination and yet gnosis, or simulated death, is the basis of magick. Knowledge of death is acquaintance with futility; but the fear of death is neutralized by the examination of previous deaths and by careful analysis of the next. Meditation in the liminal gnosis is recommended for this.
11. An instruction against materialism, Nothing is permanent except self. Those things for which the non-initiate aims are unreal.
12. Here is a reminder to the magician that he should evaluate the apparently random factors which interfere with his attainment, recognizing that these are the effects of previous actions which are now to be examined. This line recommends that evils be endured because only through enduring them, that is, allowing them to persist, can they be observed. They should not be endured in the stoical or christian sense with the expectation of heavenly rewards hereafter for that course leads to stagnation rather than to the autopsy here recommended. By force of will they must be modified, made use of in self-enquiry and, in a sense, absorbed, thereby enriching self and negating any possible future influence that a particular evil might have.
The concept of sin is implicit in that of evil. Not only is it necessary to evaluate imposed evil and the evil resulting from previous actions: the evils the thoughts and actions supernumery to the will must be sought out, Confronted and eradicated. This raises the peculiar problem of the recognition of sin, (unnecessary and thoughtless activity; see line 10). Clearly the notion of autopsy suggests that sin is what the enquirer himself considers it to be. It is through self enquiry that he recognizes his will and those elements of himself that do not comply with it. He decides for himself what moral code (if any) will least tend to excite his mind. His mind can then be excited at the right time and in the most appropriate way. He is then in control rather than at effect in any situation.
13. In not actively opposing others in word or deed one avoids exciting the mind pointlessly. By not expressing one’s own point of view there is no chance of having it dashed before it is completely formulated. ‘Do riot give dogs what is holy; and do not throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.’ (Matt 7.v.6) Magick is the pursuit of an unknown quarry. Like those adventurers who seek the Abominable Snowman the magician has only the vaguest idea of the nature of his prey but he is sustained, like them, by the excitement of the chase. This is not understood by the materialist who seeks what he believes to be freedom through the accumulation of wealth and the subjugation of others. In opposing the status quo which is by definition materialistic the magician, albeit unintentionally, singles himself out from the crowd, putting himself in a situation incompatible with the initiatory process. Invariably his best course of action in any circumstance is to remain silent, at least until his initiation is complete. In waiting rather than reacting he gives himself time to contemplate the consequences of anything he might have chosen to do. He is no Longer reactive, feckless and impulsive. He has matured in this respect and is one step nearer to his minotaur.
14. Truth is in almost all cases no more than a personal perspective. To take up someone else’s truth is self-evidently ludicrous. By the same token, prejudice, the lazy mans truth, is folly.
15. In contemplating all possible actions and their likely effects the golden mean of the true will should be dearly held in mind.
16. In reference to the previous line comes the claim that only a fool could misunderstand the principle of will and its place as an integral part of cosmos. Then comes the instruction to contemplate the future. It is not meant by this that the magician should vaguely consider what the future holds for him but that he should systematically investigate every sequence of actions which is possible [or him to execute, and then to examine every detail within that sequence. He might do this to the extent of examining his own death and the putrefaction of his present body. Nor does the fool understand how this line is an adjunct to the previous one; how the performance of one’s true will is impossible without a detailed examination of future possibilities having been made.
17. These processes lead inexorably toward initiation but there is one trick which the mind will inevitably play to forestall success. Initiation is he only state, with the exception of death itself, against which the mind automatically rebels. That

rebellion, provided the initiatory processes are being performed to effect, takes the form of pretension. Having achieved some modicum of success the magician is confounded into believing his initiation to be complete. Only when he is aware of this trap can he be wary of it. In being patient with his progress, or even with his lack of it, success will conic at leisure. These lines encapsulate considerations which should be arrived at through self-research. They are dealt with as a whole in the following corollary.
Corollary to lines 15-21. These lines represent a test for the magician. Will he follow the apparent meaning of the words or will he seek out and perform the mind-shattering techniques which close examination reveals? This test enabled the master not only to recognize which candidates were fit for formal initiation into the mysteries but also what form that initiation should take.
In sequitor these seven lines provide the information for self-initiation. Cleverly concealed within them is the injunction that this information must remain secret but that restriction is no longer applicable since the system is no longer used in a formal manner.
There are three exercises introduced to the magician here, along with details of the consequences of their correct performance. The overall instruction, that which takes precedence over all the others and within which the others have their definite place, is contained in line twenty-one.
The will is an inertial frame and whatever takes place inside it, that is, in conformity with it, must go with it, even if its direction cannot be ascertained from within.
This is the state in which the magician finds himself. He knows his wi1l to be the golden mean; he knows that its performance is more important than all things and yet at the beginning, according to some magicians until the old aeon grade of Adeptus Major, he is unable to recognize, except intuitively, what that will might be.
The three exercises ultimately lead the magician to an understanding and identification of his will. The deeper the understanding of the magician the more Fastidious he is in their performance. The more fastidious he is the more strenuous he finds them. The more strenuous he finds them the more ego shattering is their effect.
The fool, in this case the glib candidate, understands the letter of the instructions and acts accordingly. But he is ignorant of what is really expected of him and so makes no progress except in the moral qualities superficially suggested. There is no reason why such a candidate should be informed of his desultory progress. After many years of self-deception and self-pretence he might be shown these lines again and he might be surprised to learn that all those things for which he had been striving were directly referred to in the verses given to him at his acceptance as a candidate. Where did he go wrong? What were the ordeals he overlooked or neglected?
This is one of the reasons why the Pythagorean was expected to meditate on these verses daily. The morality expressed in them is not an easy one to assimilate and at first, that might be all that the candidate could see in them. The worthy candidate, however, would see in a relatively short time that he had succeeded in complying with the verses at that level and unless his attention were constantly redirected to them he might make the mistake of thinking his work complete. In having complied thus far he must necessarily look further; otherwise his daily recital and meditation would be no more than a formality. Why should his master insist on a time wasting procedure? In trusting the master his instructions must also be trusted else no start can be made.
What then of the three ordeals, the walls of fire which cleanse the candidate of the dross millennia? In the man who dares to go through with them to the end they act through his emotion, his intellect and his intuition to identify him with his will. He becomes a power­house of directed energy, totally at cause over his actions and his environment, free to work as he will within the confines of destiny.
‘In the present thou shouldst contemplate the future’ (16)
We all contemplate the future. In preparing a meal one considers, in the short term, the dishes excellence of flavour; in the long term its diurnal effects on the body. But it is only when we consider the whole of the future, and thereby the whole of the past, in terms of ourselves, that our emotion is liberated. In this the process is not dissimilar to the Buddhist meditations on death. Examined in minute detail the prospect of death loses its emotive energy. It no longer looms darkly over the intellect. The same effect is achieved by contemplating previous death. (see liminal gnosis for technique.) Liberated from the fear of death one is liberated from the fear of fear and emotion is released to be used by the initiate. He is no longer its plaything to be boffeted this way and that according to the prevailing situation.
‘Pretense obstructs. Rather instruct thyself. Time and patience favour all’ (17)
In recognizing those things which he pretends the magician is compelled to confront those things which he does not know. Without making a positive effort it is impossible for him to recognize those things which must be done to further his progress.
In any case pretense is, in itself, an obstruction, it belies ability. The use of the word ‘obstructs’ is interesting. It implies no moralizing - it simply states that if the magician fools himself he will hinder his progress, prevent himself from going. This kind of evaluative progress takes time. The more time is devoted to it the more importance it assumes. In recognizing its importance the magician directs his attention to the working of his intellect. With emotion and intellect working together he goes on to the third ordeal, that which completes his initiation and identifies him with his will.
‘Dispense with moderation. Food to the body and to the mind repose’ (19)
Until the true will is discovered one can only approach a general consideration of it through intuition which is stultified by moderation, the arbitrary imposition of rules or dogmas. True moderation is, however, a self-regulating, self-equilibrating process as is demonstrated by the second sentence of the line. Mental repose is impossible if the body is given too much or too little food. If there is no mental repose the body craves stimulation through excesses of various kinds. This paradigm is applicable in many other cases.
In allowing free reign to natural law there is no necessity to live the life of an ascetic. He is informed by his instinct.
There is a danger here that the magician may make the assumption that his will is composed of various parts. It would be better for him to assume that it is not. His most expedient postulate would be that he, and everything he is, is contained within his will. The components of the will may be seen as apparencies.
Sodium and chlorine, both poisonous, combine to produce common salt, a substance which is not only non-toxic but essential to the human body. Various factors combine to allow the will to be recognized in a similar way. But this analogy is not true since those parts of the self which combine to attune the magician to his will are not parts of that will. They serve only to inform it and to feed it.
The verses then re-emphasize the importance of the true will.
‘Choose in all things a means befitting thy will’ (21)
“Do that and no other shall say nay.” (Liber Al)
This line refers to maintaining the effect of the discovered will. If any part of the work is omitted there will come a time when these omissions cannot be rectified. It is necessary to question works completed in order to fully understand that no task is ever complete but partakes of other works. This exercise is a process of examining one’s actions to such a degree that the will remains superior to all other factors and that the initiate is always aware of it.
23. Here we find an adjunct to the previous line. There are many ways in which the will can be confounded but the foremost of these is living another’s will to gain approval by taking a course of action approved by an individual or by society as a whole. The word ‘abstain’ suggests a course of action incompatible with the ego, Abstention is a function of the will, whose function is ‘to go’ as the ego’s function is ‘to be’. The ego’s being is caused by the illusion that it can affect anything by interference. The self willed man knows this to be untrue and abstains from certain courses of action in order that his will might be done. This is achieved through constant vigilance.
24. This vigilance takes the form of meditating upon the will and remaining constantly aware of it until it finally reveals its innermost nature, its ‘formula’ . This formula is truly heroic for in its application the initiate becomes as a god. He is the hero, for what is any hero but one who knows his actions to be correct and whose actions show a way for others. The concepts of heroism and divinity are interchangeable. All gods are heroes, all heroes gods.
25. This is no lightly taken oath. It is a positive statement made again and again as a love song to his personified will, his angel.
26. A hero is only so in interaction with others. Only by seeing himself in those things that they are not is he able to maintain his will. The hero lives his life in conformity with the formula of his will and that will is, by its nature, cosmic. If the link with the cosmos is broken he is no longer a hero. The will of the cosmos is the will that is god, and the gods by this time are his own thoughts and ideas.
27. The initiate knows himself through the aid of the gods because he is what they are not. Each god is an archetype, an expression of a particle of will that has aided man in his evolution. The practical experience of invoking the gods at this stage is that he partakes of their energy. Being instructed by the gods takes one closer to the essence since
any great power absorbed into the self destroys its own seed and faces the individual from its dictates. If all the gods were invoked self would be blasted and only two things would remain, kia and not-kia.
28. A further effect of line 27 in that the high and low forces can do nothing but un­ite in the divine hero. (cf. Abra Melin.)
29. The will provokes certain actions according to its nature and this in turn streng­thens the initiate. Stimulus response behaviour is no longer a hindrance to him.
30. No evil can befall him since he has abreacted his Karma through his actions and meditations in the earlier exercises and by continued action in accordance with the will. Being cosmic his will is incapable o f incompatibility with other functions of the cosmos.
31. It is easy for the initiate to convert others through the power or passion that flows within and from him. He finds difficulty in understanding why others cannot see what he can see and ceases to be master of his power, becoming in­stead a plaything of the energy that flows through him. To power, all inertia is evil and adverse. The initiate tends to lose sight of his will. He becomes one with his passion and thereby invokes adversity. He temporarily tails from grace. The line does not, however, suggest that the initiate subdue all passion - that would be disadvantageous indeed - merely that he not be its plaything.
32. Once again comes the notion that all beings are dreaming reality., projecting the world as they would like to see it through metaphorically closed eyes. This is a part of the divine dance of creation that their eyes are closed - they are closed by choice, a choice born out of the illusion of individual will.
33. The initiate has the ability to discern what is not of his nature, that is, error. All that is of his nature is also of the nature of the cosmos and so serves him.
34. A part of the whole there is, for him, no disconformity.
35. A summary of the foregoing.

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