09 April 2006

Secret chief

I swear, I've been trying to lay off the magickal mystical posts, but the Book of the Law snuck up on me. Today marks the second of the anniversary days marking the three days of the writing of the Book of the Law.

Yesterday, Yezida turned up some very lovely Star Goddess quotes for the occasion, and I knew some Thelemites who were out there reading Chapter I of the Book, toasting the Star Goddess, Nuit, and celebrating in deference to her injunction:

Be goodly therefore: dress ye all in fine apparel; eat rich foods and drink sweet wines and wines that foam!
I myself was at an early seder for the -4th night of Passover, and chuckled as several people entirely unfamiliar with Nuit reported being in a mood to use champagne for the cups of wine. Wines that foam!

Plus, I got a surprising email from a decidedly un-mystical friend. He stumbled across the tale of Paschal Beverly Randolph as a result of a Google misfire, and passed it on to me, saying, "This seems like someone obscure enough that you probably already know about him, or if not, should know about him." I'm pleased that folks think that the obscurity of a historical figure is a reason to suspect that I know about them, but I must confess that this time I've been caught utterly in the dark.

Dig this quick bio, from the link above:

A free man of colour born in the state of Virginia in 1825, he was an orator and spokesperson for the Abolitionist cause before the Civil War. He was also a well known spiritualist and trance-medium, and a world-traveller in the best Victorian fashion, who visited England, France, Turkey, Egypt, Syria, and other regions in search of esoteric wisdom. His investigations into Rosicrucianism led him to the then highly controversial field of sex-magic, and along the way he also wrote a definitive treatise of the use of hashish as an aid to trance possession (1860), and an equally important book on clairvoyant scrying with magic mirrors (1860). As a medical doctor and occultist, Randolph attempted to transcend the coercive racial stereotyping of 19th century America ....
... and also founded the oldest Rosicrucian order in the US here in my home town of San Francisco, hung out with Alexandre Dumas and Abraham Lincoln, ran a business selling New Orleans Magnetic Pillows, wrote about fifty books and pamphlets. Without quite making it to his fiftieth birthday. Zowie. Colour me fascinated by the astonishing Mr. Randolph.

A scholar named John Patrick Deveney has written a biography of him, in which he argues that Blavatsky, Reuss, and Crowley were all influenced by this guy. Pretty astonishing considering that I had never heard of him, but it's plausible, given the little bit I now know.

Which brings me to why I feel a little bit stalked by the Book of the Law. Consider this aphorism of Randolph's:

Will reigns Omnipotent; Love lieth at the Foundation
My occultist readers are undoubtedly chuckling, because the Book of the Law tells us:
Love is the law, love under will
So happy anniversary, Book of the Law, and nice to meet ya, Paschal Beverly Randolph. Good to know that the world is still full of suprising weird stuff.

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