For I am divided for love’s sake, for the chance of union.
The unlimited potential and realization of existence causes further vibration in the stillness of the ultimate samadhi. Here is the first cause, the reason of manifestation. The point cannot be the pleroma except through manifestation. The Perfect is not perfect, the All is not all unless it contains every possibility and the actualization of every possibility. The infinite universes expand from this central point, that they might all one day contract to it at the end of time, the infinite span of time which is Hadit.
None, breathed the light, faint & faery, of the stars, and two.
The word “faery” here takes on the definition of “unsubstantial, visionary, unreal”, rather than implying that Nuit is from the land of Faeries.
In the previous verse, the priest has adored Nuit as a being that has no discrete being, describing her as “none” and “continuous”. This is the ultimate state of union with Nuit, where there is no difference between her, yourself and any other thing. In this verse we start to come down from the Samadhi, a subtle, insubstantial light vibrates into speech, once more creating division. Crowley writes about this as the 0=2 formula.
Then the priest answered & said unto the Queen of Space, kissing her lovely brows, and the dew of her light bathing his whole body in a sweet-smelling perfume of sweat: O Nuit, continuous one of Heaven, let it be ever thus; that men speak not of Thee as One but as None; and let them speak not of thee at all, since thou art continuous!
In this verse we see the powers and role of the priest, in the previous verse, we saw that of the prophet. In experiencing Nuit, the prophet is passive as he asks for a sign and waits, she comes to him. The priest needing no sign, having already experienced her, on his own volition kisses her and partakes of her light. He then proclaims the glory of her ineffable nullity. The priest was introduced in AL I:15 as the chosen priest & apostle of infinite space and the prince-priest the Beast. It is not clear from the text whether this priest is a different person than the prophet mentioned in the previous verse. Perhaps he was a prophet until Nuit gave him the sign and now he is considered a priest. We must also consider that perhaps the terms are used interchangeably.
Nuit has two aspects for us to contemplate.
As “None” Nuit is the dark potential of existence that is between the end and the beginning of manifestation.
As “Continuous” Nuit is also the sum of all configurations of all the atoms, particles, sub particles, etc throughout the entire timeline of all of the infinite manifestations of the universe. It is important to note that the use of the word “heaven” here does not denote some mystical realm apart from the physical realm, rather it is a reference to the totality of the universe, all of the heavenly bodies that we see in the sky at night, as well as the ones that we don’t see.
Searching for the use of the phrase “Queen of Space” before 1904, we find it only in the english translation of this lovely poem:
Yes! my soul loves, when freed from galling chains
Of human miseries and human pains,
To leave this prison-house of clay behind,
And wander in the blessed realms of mind!
There, spurning under me the world of tears,
My burning spirit soars to other spheres,
And my soul, straiten’d in this narrow cell,
Loves ever in eternal space to dwell.
Like to a drop in ocean’s ceaseless flood,
My mind is lost amid infinitude;
There, Queen of space, and of eternity,
She dares to measure Time—Immensity!
Give form to chaos, nature’s God believe,
And mysteries ineffable conceive.
But when I wish to breathe my bosom’s fires,
In feeble efforts every word expires;
My glowing soul could speak—my tongue confined,
Utters vain sounds—the shadow of my mind.
Two kinds of speech our God hath given us here;
One sounds all callous in the human ear:
This language cold, which knows no heavenly glow,
Sufliceth for our banishment below,
And following the laws of age and time,
Changes, and dies with every varied clime.
The other speech, eternal and refined,
Is the unchanging language of the mind!
It hath no earthly love that swells around,—
The heart alone can hear its sacred sound;
To speak that tongue the burning soul aspires,
And kindles at its ever glowing fires;
The gushing tear, or struggling sigh reveals
The language that the soul so deeply feels;
‘Tis Heaven’s own language when we speak by prayer,
And love alone can breathe its genial air!
From the French of Alphonse de Lamartine.Translated By Alexander Cowan, Published 1839
Then saith the prophet and slave of the beauteous one: Who am I, and what shall be the sign? So she answered him, bending down, a lambent flame of blue, all-touching, all penetrant, her lovely hands upon the black earth, & her lithe body arched for love, and her soft feet not hurting the little flowers: Thou knowest! And the sign shall be my ecstasy, the consciousness of the continuity of existence, the omnipresence of my body.
The style of the previous verses breaks here and Crowley seems to be describing something he did during the course of the reception. It is unclear whether Crowley heard the words as he did in the previous verses or whether he actually said “Who am I, and what shall be the sign?” aloud and then wrote down a description of such without hearing from the speaker. This seems to be the only time in the book where such an exchange happens, so it seems unlikely that this was the case. It also seems unlikely, given Crowley’s initial attitude towards the book that he would describe himself as “slave of the beauteous one”.
The phrase “beauteous one” here seems to refer to Nuit. In Crowley’s day was in fairly common usage and was not strongly associated with any particular deity or person. The earliest use of the phrase “beauteous one” that I could find is from Ælfric of Eynsham in 996.
Mary is more beauteous than the moon, for she shines without the waning of her brightness. She is choice as the sun with beams of holy virtues, for the Lord, Who is the Sun of Righteousness, chose her for His mother. Her course is compared to a wedding band, for she was surrounded with heavenly powers, and with companies of angels. Of this heavenly Queen it is yet said by the same Spirit of God, “I saw the beateous one as a dove mounting above the streaming rills, and an ineffable fragrance exhaled from her garments; and so as in the spring-tide, blossoms and lilies encircled her.”
The phrase “lambent flame” comes to us from Dryden’s translation [1697 EV] of Virgil’s Aeneid [19 BC]. The second book of this classic relates the story of the Greeks sneaking into Troy via the wooden horse. Aeneas, a trojan hero, mortal son of Aphrodite, wakes in the night to find his city burning and prepares to join the hopeless fight against the Greeks. After his wife, Creusa, begs him to stay in order to protect her and their family, a harmless fire appears on the top of their infant son’s head, which they interpret as an omen from Zeus to flee the city.
While thus she fills the house with clam’rous cries,
Our hearing is diverted by our eyes:
For, while I held my son, in the short space
Betwixt our kisses and our last embrace;
Strange to relate, from young Iulus’ head
A lambent flame arose, which gently spread
Around his brows, and on his temples fed.
Amaz’d, with running water we prepare
To quench the sacred fire, and slake his hair;
But old Anchises, vers’d in omens, rear’d
His hands to heav’n, and this request preferr’d:
‘If any vows, almighty Jove, can bend
Thy will; if piety can pray’rs commend,
Confirm the glad presage which thou art pleas’d to send.’
The phrase in latin is “lambere flamma”, which is translated by Dryden as “lambent flame” and by others as “tongue of flame” or “licking flame”. It is interesting to see this old idea of the lambent flame as a sign from god given when Crowley asks for a sign.
As for the import of the sign, it isn’t really fitting to speak at any length, either you’ve seen it or you haven’t. Nobody can give it to you, nor can anybody deny it, it is above authority of any kind being the union of Will and Love, it is the ecstasy of the Law.
Divide, add, multiply, and understand.
Crowley does not seem to come to a concrete answer to the meaning of this verse in his commentary. His answers of 0.12, 56, and 300 are not very satisfying and are also superseded by his later commentary claiming that he will set the answer down elsewhere.
There is an interesting connection between this verse and a verse from the Secret Instructions of the Master a text which is part of a larger work The Heart of the Master. The following is the verse associated with the path of Beth.
The True Self is the meaning of the True Will:
know Thyself through Thy Way!
Calculate well the Formula of Thy Way!
Omnipotent, Omniscient, Omnipresent,
in and for Eternity.
Here we see the four main elementary mathematical functions: create freely, multiplication; absorb joyously, addition; divide intently, division; consolidate completely, subtraction. Consolidation is done in algebra through the function of subtraction, removing parts of the formula that have been balanced out of the equation. It is interesting to consider that it is incorrect to assume that in I:25 there are only 3 signs, rather that “understand” is simply the fourth sign, subtraction, under a different name. That understanding is that process of resolving the universe down to its simplest of formulas, removing parts that we previously thought had no correlation. Though through our understanding we have balanced out the disparate and thus move closer to the heart of the equation.
I am Nuit, and my word is six and fifty.
Nuit names herself and gives the value of her word, which is yet unknown. See AL I:1 for the value of the name Nuit.
What is the word of Nuit and why is it hidden? The most obvious explanation is that the word of Nuit is נו. This word used is used in II:1 to indicate the hiding of Hadit, it is also found in II:76 and III:17. Unfortunately we don’t have a word in greek that sums to 56.
The number 56 occurs in the following passage from Plutarch in “Thrice-Greatest Hermes”:
The Pythagorics also seem to consider Typhon a daimonic power; for they say that Typhon was produced on the six-and-fiftieth even measure; and again that the [power 4] of the equilateral triangle is that of Hades and Dionysus and Ares; that of the square is that of Rhea and Aphroditē and Demeter and Hestia (that is, Hera); that of the dodecagon, that of Zeus; and that of the fifty-six angled [regular polygon], that of Typhon (as Eudoxus relates).
What do Nuit and Typhon have in common? The most obvious thing is their gargantous size, Nuit is often pictured with her hands and feet upon the ground and her torso and head in the stars. Typhon was said to be so large that his head was in the stars and his arms reached from east to west. Instead of a human head, he had a hundred dragon heads. In the new comment for this verse, Crowley relates Nuit to the great Dragon of space. See my comment on AL I:15 relating Nuit further to the Dragon.
Another place we can see 56 connected to the idea of Nuit is in the circle from Loagaeth. The first layer of the circle (seen below) contains 56 squares. This layer is the circumference of the circle, which is a concept connected with Nuit. “In the sphere I am everywhere the centre, as she, the circumference, is nowhere found.” (AL II:3). “Glory unto the Rose that is Nuit the circumference of all, and
Glory unto the Cross that is the heart of the Rose!” (LIBER 418, 23rd Aethyr).
The total value of these squares is 273, which is the same as the greek word βορρα which means north. Crowley links the idea of north to the Dragon in his new comment “The Dragon in current symbolism refers to the North or Hollow of Heaven; thus to the Womb of Space, which is the container and breeder of all that exists.”
But whoso availeth in this, let him be the chief of all!
LIBER VIARVM VIÆ gives the task of the path of Tzaddi as “The Adoration under the Starry Heaven”. This task is detailed in LIBER NV which as its core is the task given in the previous verse. The tarot trump associated with this path is “The Emperor”, the chief of all who knows the secret name of Nuit.
Crowley’s New Comment is very excellent:
This chief is of course no more or less than others. The limitations of our dualistic language obscure the meaning of these loftier Words. Chieftainship is to be understood as one of the illusions; but, in respect of that plane, a fact. The facts of Nature are perfectly true in so far as their mutual relation is concerned; their invalidity refers only to their total relation with the philosophical canon of Truth.
The word “all” is not to be taken as elliptical for “all men”; it means that such an one is completely master of his universe. For when one has become indifferent to phenomena, and accepts any one of them as necessary, indeed as an essential part of the whole, he has made himself Lord of the Whole as such.