The Gnostic Church of L.V.X.

The Astrology of The Beast

by Paul Joseph Rovelli

Edward Alexander Crowley, a.k.a. Aleister Crowley was born into a wealthy Victorian family ruled over by the heavy hand of a Patriarch in a radical Christist sect known as the Plymouth Brethren. This sect believed the bible to be literally true and that the Second Coming was immanent. As well, they believed themselves to be the only true Christians and that they would be the ones to inherit the Kingdom of God.

His father upheld a strict moral code that the young Edward followed vehemently as a young soldier or knight in this army of Christ. But doubt would soon enter his mind and shortly after his father's death when he was eleven years old, he was able to release that with an equal degree of fervor. At this time, he considered himself completely won over to the other side; that of the devil.

As a boy, his mother would brand him with the nickname 'the Beast'; a tag that the young child would take into his manhood. This title he would also take into his publicly notorious career as a magus and sage only to lose control over it in the sensationalistic machinery of the press. This he at first enjoyed as it gave him free publicity, but he would later regret as he felt the misrepresentations would hinder the propagation of his life's work.

Malvern and Tonbridge public schools (akin to the American private school system) were the sources of his elementary and secondary education. Later he would attend Trinity College and Cambridge University. In this environment he mastered Mathematics, Chemistry, Literature and the Arts. He published his own literary work with a prolific passion and became a winning competitor at Chess in matches against Oxford University.

By the time he reached his college years, he wrestled with his psyche and represented this as a struggle between the devil and God as if one were on each shoulder. He concluded that God had won but wasn't able to discern which character in his drama was God. The mystical quest engendered by this experience would lead him to membership in the secret fraternity known as the Golden Dawn and on into the formation of his own occult order known as the Argenteum Astrum.

Further, he was the inheritor of an aristocratic fortune from his father's brewing business known as Crowley Ales. And he would venture into mountain climbing (of which he still holds some world records), exotic hunting expeditions, and a world tour of eastern and middle-eastern yoga and tantric schools. This would eventually lead him to reject the teachings of the Golden Dawn in favor of the tenets of Buddhism.

It was a heightened mystical experience during his honeymoon in Eqypt to his wife Rose Kelly that would bring him back into magick and on into the world of infamy that I alluded to earlier. He claimed at this time, to have channeled a book of verse that would dictate the political, moral, and internal structure of the human race for the next two thousand years. This he would spend the rest of his life promoting.

In light of this, his mystical studies were profound and his writings on the various arts associated with them were voluminous. This includes his well sought after two volume set (in eleven numbers) known as the 'Equinox'. It is his encyclopedia of magick. Also included in the scope of his work was an exhaustive exploration of Astrology. He mastered a knowledge of the symbols and techniques of this ancient art. And even though he upheld a deep respect for Astrology on the whole, he did not necessarily view it as a potent tool for divination.

On this subject, one central to the work of alot of Astrologers today, he would write in his book 'Magick in Theory and Practice':

"Astrology is theoretically a perfect method, since the symbols employed actually exist in the macrocosm, and thus possess a natural correspondence with microcosmic affairs. But in practice the calculations involved are overwhelmingly complicated. A horoscope is never complete. It needs to be supplemented by innumerable other horoscopes. For example, to obtain a judgment on the simplest question, one requires not only the nativities of the people involved, some of which are probably inaccessible, but secondary figures for directions and transits, together with progressed horoscopes, to say nothing of prenatal, mundane, and even horary figures."

However, this is not to say that he didn't find any efficacy at all in the art. Only that one must be drawn to it and that this was not his preference in the selection of a divination technique. It is the Tarot that he would recommend as having the greatest accuracy with the least tedium and distraction of technical detail.

Still, he would incorporate all of the symbols of astrology into the deck that he designed seeking a diverse variety of other uses for these symbols in his magickal methodology. The application of these symbols to the Tarot stemmed from the instruction he received as a member of the Golden Dawn.

Part of his use of the symbols of astrology was as an experiment in determining the effects on a person's physiology by the sign rising over the horizon at the moment of birth. He would write in a letter to a student of his:

"Look at them full-face, then profile; and note salient characteristics, pendulous lips, receding chins, bulbous noses, narrow foreheads, stuck-out ears, pimples, squints, warts, shape of face (three main types: thin, jutting, for cardinal signs; square, steadfast cherubic; weak, nondescript, for the rest); then the stature, whether lithe, well-knit, sturdy, muscular, fat or what not; in short, every bodily feature in turn; make up your mind what sign was rising at birth . . ."

The most important aspect pertaining to his use of Astrology was in moving away from textbook interpretations of the symbols. He thought this approach removed the empiric spirit of the art and reduced it to a lifeless and hollow machination. It seemed more potent to evoke the psychological and mythopoeic archetypes in the psyche of the practitioner and to make use of these. This is to say that he saw a difference between the map and the territory as the colloquial dictum states.

Moving on from the physical features bestowed upon the native by the influence of the rising sign at the moment of birth, Crowley notes that a proper understanding of the planets can be approached through a knowledge of the qabalistic doctrine of correspondences between the earth (microcosm) and the heavens above (macrocosm). He observes a relationship between the seven principle ages in the development of the native and the seven sacred planets of ancient Astrology.

1. In the child, the relation is to the Moon with its changeable, passive, pure, and dreamy nature.

2. Then comes puberty and its self-conscious, keen to know nature being so full of tricks and conceits. This relates to Mercury.

3. This is followed by the young adult and Venus with her grace, devotion to art and religion, and the passivity that allows her to absorb impressions from the world around her.

4. To which follows the Sun and the adult; brilliant, creative and strong.

5. Mars represents the transition from the self-absorption of the native to a vigorous plunge into the turmoil of life.

6. From there to success in life as the head of business or of the family and the rulership of Jupiter.

7. And at the end of life is Saturn and the heavy hand of age with its grave austerity.

Crowley's conception of the seven sacred planets would coalesce along with his penchant for mathematics in Bode's Law. Bode, a German astronomer, worked and lived in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. His law is stated by Crowley as follows:

"If we take the number 4 and divide it by 10 we get the distance of Mercury form the Sun in astronomical units. The astronomical unit being the main distance fromthe Earth to the Sun. Add 3 to 4 and divide it by 10 and we obtain the distance of Venus: add twice 3 to 4 and we get the distance of the Earth; add twice twice 3 to 4 and we get the distance of Mars; twice twice twice 3 to 4 and we get the mean distance of the asteroids. [In each case not omitting to divide by ten.] This same proportion continues, multiplying 3 four times by 2 and adding it to 4, and then dividing by 10 we get the mean distance of Jupiter. Multiplying the 3 by 2 once more we get the distance of Saturn . . ."

This is perhaps more clearly expressed in the following chart:


Bode's Law Number Planet True Distance

(Earth = 10)

4+0 4 Mercury 3.9

4+3x1 7 Venus 7.2

4+3x(2x2) 10 Earth 10.0

4+3x(2x2x2) 16 Mars 15.2

4+3x(2x2x2x2) 28 Asteroids 26.5

4+3x(2x2x2x2) 52 Jupiter 52.0

4+3x(2x2x2x2x2) 100 Saturn 95.4

Please note that the distance of the Earth from the Sun is 93 million miles or 10 astronomical units. 10 is Malkuth or the Earth on the Qabalistic Tree-of-Life. And 93 is the mathematically qabalistic equivalent of the doctrine that Crowley purports to have channeled in Eqypt as stated earlier in this article.