The central experiences in the system of A∴A∴ are the Angel and the Abyss, i.e., the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel, and the “Annihilation” of the Ego or the Crossing of the Abyss between Mankind and Divinity. Since according to One Star in Sight is the Angel who prepare us for the second adventure, let us talk about the first adventure.
It is said that no method is given for the attainment of the Knowledge and Conversation except for the general remarks found in the Book of the Sacred Magic of Abramelin the Mage, the 8th Æthyr in The Vision and the Voice and Liber Samekh. It’s so personal that no man cannot teach another how to invoke his God, he can only help him prepare oneself.
But what is that Angel that we try to reach? Even people who got in contact with their Angels do not know exactly how to explain the nature of such Being. Crowley himself changed his mind over the years, giving three different explanations.
1910s: The Angel as the Higher Self or Genius
In The Equinox Volume I, Number 1, Crowley gives the following description of the Nature of the Angel, comparing it to many cultures and systems:
“THE AUGOEIDES. *From a letter of Fra P.
Lytton calls him Adonai in Zanoni, and I often use this name in the note-books.
Abramelin calls him Holy Guardian Angel. I adopt this:
- Because Abramelin’s system is so simple and effective.
- Because since all theories of the universe are absurd it is better to talk in the language of one which is patently absurd, so as to mortify the metaphysical man.
- Because a child can understand it.
Theosophists call him the Higher Self, Silent Watcher, or Great Master.
The Golden Dawn calls him the Genius.
Gnostics say the Logos.
Zoroaster talks about uniting all these symbols into the form of a Lion — see Chaldean Oracles.
Anna Kingsford calls him Adonai (Clothed with the Sun). Buddhists call him Adi-Buddha — (says H. P. B.)
The Bhagavad-Gita calls him Vishnu (chapter xi.).
The Yi King calls him ‘The Great Person’.
The Qabalah calls him Jechidah.
We also get metaphysical analysis of His nature, deeper and deeper according to the subtlety of the writer; for this vision — it is all one same phenomenon, variously coloured by our varying Ruachs — is, I believe, the first and the last of all Spiritual Experience. For though He is attributed to Malkuth, and the Door of the Path of His overshadowing, He is also in Kether (Kether is in Malkuth and Malkuth in Kether — ‘as above, so beneath’), and the End of the ‘Path of the Wise’ is identity with Him.
So that while he is the Holy Guardian Angel, He is also Hua and the Tao.
For since Intra Nobis Regnum deI (INRI) all things are in Ourself, and all Spiritual Experience is a more of less complete Revelation of Him.
Yet it is only in the Middle Pillar that His manifestation is in any way perfect.
The Augoedes invocation is the whole thing. Only it is so difficult; one goes along through all the fifty gates of Binah at once, more or less illuminated, more or less deluded. But the First and the Last is this Augoeides Invocation.”
1920s: The Angel as the Subconsciousness
Ten years later, during his time at the Abbey of Thelema in Cefalù, Italy, Crowley already developed his view a little further, as Frank Benneth notes in his Magical Record for the time (The Magical Record of Frater Progradior, edited by Keith Richmond):
“[…] I went bathing in the sea this morning, with the Beast and Leah, and while undressing, he began to talk to me about initiation, and said it was a matter of getting the subconscious mind at work, that when this subconscious mind was allowed to have full sway, without interference with the physical mind, illumination began, for he said this subconscious mind was our Holy Guardian. He illustrated this by saying that everything was felt in this mind, and it is constantly urging its will upon the physical mind, and when these impressions, or inner desires, are restricted or suppressed, evil and all kinds of trouble is the result.
He also said that the sexual question was the most deep rooted of all desires, therefore caused most hurt, because this trouble started very early in life, and went with us through our lives, tormenting most people with all the tortures of Hell, and still this subconscious mind persisted, and only satisfies itself when its will has been impressed upon the physical mind, which it does in all ways possible, in dreams, in sickness, and if not satisfied, ends in madness or some Hellish abortion.
Because, he said, the sexual organs were the physical symbol of God and the Sun, in that they had creative power and therefore of all the parts of the body, most like God and nearest to the Holy Guardian Angel.”
1940s: The Angel as an Objective Being Completely Apart from Us
By the end of his life, in the letters he exchanged with one of his students, Crowley believed that the Angel was an actual existing being, completely apart from us, not just a part of ourselves, as he states in Magick Without Tears, Chapter XLIII: The Holy Guardian Angel is not the “Higher Self” but an Objective Individual:
“[…] for the purposes of this letter I propose to use the word “angel” to include all sorts of disembodied beings, from demons to gods—in all cases, they are objective; a subjective “angel” is different from a dream only in non-essentials.
Now, some angels are actually emanations of the elements, planets, or signs to which they are attributed. They are partial beings in very much the same way as are animals. They are not microcosms as are men and women. They are almost entirely composed of the planet (or whatever it is) to which they are attributed. The other components of their being I take to be almost accidental. For example, the Archangel Ratziel is lord of a company of angels called Auphanim; and one must not imagine that all these angels are identical with one another, or there would not seem to be much sense in it. They have some sort of composition, some sort of individuality; and the character and appearance of the Angel can be determined by its name.
[…] Now, can an angel of this sort ever go wrong, by which one must mean, can he ever be untrue to his own nature? I do not see how one can imagine this to happen; for they are so completely creatures of the elements of which they are composed that they must be regarded as completely devoid of will in any intelligible sense of the word. Their actions in fact are merely re-actions.
They are, of course, entirely lacking in the Supernal Triad. There is therefore no question of anything in them which would persist through change. Perhaps it would be better to say that changed does not really affect them. Another way to put it would be that they are adjectives, not nouns. They are merely sensible manifestations of the elements to which they are attributed, and to the letters of their name.
Now, on the other hand, there is an entirely different type of angel; and here we must be especially careful to remember that we include gods and devils, for there are such beings who are not by any means dependent one one particular element for their existence. They are microcosms in exactly the same sense as men and women are. They are individuals who have picked up the elements of their composition as possibility and convenience dictates, exactly as we do ourselves. I want you to understand that a goddess like Astarte, Astaroth, Cotytto, Aphrodite, Hathoor, Venus, are not merely aspects of the planet; they are separate individuals who have been identified with each other, and attributed to Venus merely because the salient feature in their character approximates to this ideal.
Now then, it is simple to answer the question of their development, their growing old and dying; for, being of the same order of Nature as we are ourselves, almost anything which is true of us is true also of them.
I have tended rather to elaborate this theme, because of the one personally important question which arises in more recent letters; for I believe that the Holy Guardian Angel is a Being of this order. He is something more than a man, possibly a being who has already passed through the stage of humanity, and his peculiarly intimate relationship with his client is that of friendship, of community, of brotherhood, or Fatherhood. He is not, let me say with emphasis, a mere abstraction from yourself; and that is why I have insisted rather heavily that the term “Higher Self” implies “a damnable heresy and a dangerous delusion.”
It it were not so, there would be no point in The Sacred Magic of Abramelin the Mage.
Apart from any theoretical speculation, my Sammasiti and analytical work has never led to so much as a hint of the existence of the Guardian Angel. He is not to be found by any exploration of oneself. It is true that the process of analysis leads finally to the realization of oneself as no more than a point of view indistinguishable in itself from any other point of view; but the Holy Guardian Angel is in precisely the same position. However close may be the identities in millions of ways, no complete identification is ever obtainable.
But do remember this, above all else; they are objective, not subjective, or I should not waste good Magick on them.
Let me say in particular in regard to Gods, that the God Jupiter whom you invoke is not necessarily the same as he whom I invoke. It is clear in any case that the revelation of himself to you is modified in many ways by your own particular sensitiveness; just as in ordinary life, your idea of a friend may be very different from my own conception of the same individual. Suppose, for example, he happens to be a musician, there will be an entire side of his character to which I am practically insensitive. You could talk to him for hours, and I would understand little or nothing of what was said. Similarly, if he were a mountaineer, it would be your turn to be odd man out.”
1949: Karl Germer’s view
Karl Germer, who became Aleister Crowley’s heir and the head of A∴A∴ and O.T.O., summarized his view on the H.G.A. in a letter to Roy Leffingwell, on March 21, 1949:
“This H.G.A. is a separate entitiy from your own Star Soul. It is almost as if each one of us had a twin Star-Soul (Dante: Beatrice; Goethe: Gretchen) who is riding his or her twin in the human flesh, loving it, teaching and guarding it, preventing it from making too gross mistakes, whispering into its ear and despairing if the manifested twin will not listen, or learn to hearken to the voice that speaks to the very depth of its soul.”
“The whole object of our system is then to learn to know, and then to learn the languafe of, and then to intensify the intimacy with, the H.G.A., who is a ting that really exists on some 4th dimension, and may be incarnated, but unknown to the twin as such. That is the vital fact to get into one’s blood: that this incarnated existence is only an image of the existence on the higher planes. That is where the actual life is, where wars are fought, etc., etc., etc., where Life and events on this planet are prepared and planned from possibly thousands of years ago. We should train ourselves to live on those planes and grow to partake of it.”
Later on that same year, he speaks more on the nature of H.G.A. to Jane Wolfe, on September 6, 1949:
“[…] Lekve wrote me in his last letter […] that he had an illumination in which […] he realized that his former conception that the H.G.A. was but a function of the Psyche in the sense of Jung was wrong, and that mine was right, i.e. (in his words), ‘that the H.G.A. is a living Being of such ineffable qualities compared to which the conception of the Self shrinks to a mere phantom’, etc., etc.”