Liber XV: The Gnostic Mass

Ecclesiæ Gnostiæ Catholicæ Canon Missæ

With Annotations and Commentary by Helena and Tau Apiryon

This version of the Gnostic Mass is based on the text as presented in Appendix VI of Magick: Book IV, Parts I-IV by Aleister Crowley; edited, notes and introduced by Hymenaeus Beta; Second Revised Edition, Samuel Weiser, York Beach, Maine 1997.

This document was edited from an HTML document originally prepared for Makhashanah Lodge O.T.O. by Frater HRMS M. Additional editing and formatting done for the present online edition prepared by Frater IAO131 and Frater Entelecheia. Additional stage directions, suggestions and comments by Helena and Tau Apiryon, when inserted in the text of the Gnostic Mass, are shown in square brackets.

Please read the Introductory Notes to the Annotations.

Use the “Back” button on your browser to return to this page after reading the notes.



IN THE EAST, that is, in the direction of Boleskine, which is situated on the South-Eastern shore of Loch Ness in Scotland, two miles east of Foyers, is a shrine or High Altar. Its dimensions should be 7 feet in length, 3 feet in breadth, 44 inches in height.

It should be covered with a crimson altar-cloth, on which may be embroidered fleur-de-lys in gold, or a sunblaze, or other suitable emblem. [On the Altar are placed the Priest’s Robe and Crown.] On each side of it should be a pillar or obelisk , with countercharges in black and white.

Below it should be the dais of three steps, in black and white squares.

Above it is the super-altar, at whose top is the Stèle of Revealing in reproduction, with four candles on each side of it. Below the stèle is a place for The Book of the Law, with six candles on each side of it. Below this again is the Holy Graal, with roses on each side of it. Here is room in front of the Cup for the Paten. On each side beyond the roses are two great candles[NOTE]

All this is enclosed within a great Veil.

Forming the apex of an equilateral triangle whose base is a line drawn between the pillars, is a small black square altar, of superimposed cubes.

Taking this altar as the middle of the base of a similar and equal triangle, at the apex of this second triangle is a small circular font.

Repeating, the apex of a third triangle is an upright coffin, or Tomb. [NOTE]



The PRIEST. Bears the Sacred Lance, and is clothed at first in a plain white robe.

The PRIESTESS. Should be actually Virgo Intacta or specially dedicated to the service of the Great Order. She is clothed in white, blue, and gold. She bears the Sword from a red girdle, and the Paten and Hosts, or Cakes of Light.

The DEACON. He is clothed in white and yellow. He bears The Book of the Law.

Two CHILDREN. They are clothed in white and black. One bears a pitcher of water and a cellar of salt, the other a censer of fire and a casket of perfume.



The DEACON, opening the door of the Temple, admits the congregation and takes his stand between the small altar and the font. (There should be a doorkeeper to attend to the admission.) The DEACON advances and bows before the open shrine where the Graal is exalted. He kisses The Book of the Law  three times, opens it, and places it upon the super-altar. He turns West.

[The Proclamation of the Law]

The DEACON: Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law. [Liber AL I:40] I proclaim the Law of Light, Life, Love, and Liberty in the name of IAÔ.

The CONGREGATION: Love is the law, love under will. [Liber AL I:57]

The DEACON goes to his place between the altar of incense and the font, [directs the congregation to rise,] faces East, and gives the step and sign of a Man and a Brother. All imitate him.

[The Creed (Credo)]

The DEACON and all the PEOPLE: I believe in one secret and ineffable LORD; and in one Star in the Company of Stars of whose fire we are created, and to which we shall return; and in one Father of Life, Mystery of Mystery, in His name CHAOS, the sole viceregent of the Sun upon the Earth; and in one Air the nourisher of all that breathes.

And I believe in one Earth, the Mother of us all, and in one Womb wherein all men are begotten, and wherein they shall rest, Mystery of Mystery, in Her name BABALON.

And I believe in the Serpent and the Lion, Mystery of Mystery, in His name BAPHOMET.

And I believe in one Gnostic and Catholic Church of Light, Life, Love and Liberty, the Word of whose Law is THELÊMA.

And I believe in the communion of Saints.

And, forasmuch as meat and drink are transmuted in us daily into spiritual substance, I believe in the Miracle of the Mass.

And I confess one Baptism of Wisdom whereby we accomplish the Miracle of Incarnation.

And I confess my life one, individual, and eternal that was, and is, and is to come.


[The Entry of the Priestess and Children]

Music is now played. The child enters with the ewer and the salt. The VIRGIN enters with the Sword and the Paten. The child enters with the censer and the perfume. They face the DEACON, deploying into line, from the space between the two altars.

The VIRGIN: Greeting of Earth and Heaven!

All give the Hailing Sign of a Magician, the DEACON leading. The PRIESTESS, the negative child on her left, the positive child on her right, ascends the steps of the High Altar. They await her below . She places the Paten before the Graal. Having adored it, she descends, and with the children following her, the positive next her, she moves in a serpentine manner involving 3 and a half circles of the Temple . (Deosil about altar, widdershins about font, deosil about altar and font, widdershins about altar, and so to the Tomb in the West.) She draws her Sword and pulls down the Veil therewith.

[The Entry of the Priest]

The PRIESTESS: By the power of  Iron, I say unto thee, Arise. In the name of our Lord the ☩ Sun, and of our Lord ☩ , that thou mayst administer the virtues to the Brethren.

She sheathes the Sword.

The PRIEST, issuing from the Tomb, holding the Lance erect with both hands, right over left, against his breast, takes the first three regular steps. He then gives the Lance to the PRIESTESS, and gives the three penal signs. He then kneels and worships the Lance with both hands. Penitential music.

[The Confession of the Priest]

The PRIEST: I am a man among men.

He takes again the Lance, and lowers it. He rises.

The PRIEST: How should I be worthy to administer the virtues to the Brethren?

[The Lustration of the Priest]

The PRIESTESS takes from the child the water and the salt, and mixes them in the font.

The PRIESTESS: Let the salt of Earth admonish the water to bear the virtue of the Great Sea. (Genuflects.) Mother, be thou adored.

She returns to the West. ☩ on PRIEST with open hand doth she make, over his forehead, breast, and body.

Be the PRIEST pure of body and soul!

[The Consecration of the Priest]

The PRIESTESS takes the censer from the child, and places it on the small altar. She puts incense therein.

Let the Fire and the Air make sweet the world! (Genuflects.) Father, be thou adored.

She returns West, and makes ☩ with the censer before the PRIEST, thrice as before.

Be the PRIEST fervent of body and soul!

(The children resume their weapons as they are done with.)

[The Vesture of the Priest]

The DEACON now takes the consecrated Robe from High Altar, and brings it to her. She robes the PRIEST in his Robe of scarlet and gold.

Be the flame of the Sun thine ambience, O thou PRIEST of the SUN!

[The Coronation of the Priest]

The DEACON brings the crown from the High Altar. (The crown may be of gold or platinum, or of electrum magicum; but with no other metals, save the small proportions necessary to a proper alloy. It may be adorned with divers jewels, at will But it must have the Uraeus serpent twined about it, and the cap of maintenance must match the scarlet of the Robe. Its texture should be velvet.)

[She places the cap of maintenance and crown upon the head of the PRIEST.]

Be the Serpent thy crown, O thou PRIEST of the LORD!

[The Consecration of the Lance, and the Invocation of the Lord]

Kneeling, she takes the Lance, between her open hands, and runs them up and down upon the shaft eleven times, very gently.

Be the LORD present among us!

All give the Hailing Sign. [All should be standing at this point.]

The PEOPLE: So mote it be.



[The Raising of the Priestess]

The PRIEST: Thee therefore whom we adore we also invoke. By the power of the lifted Lance!

He raises the Lance. All repeat Hailing Sign. A phrase of triumphant music. The PRIEST takes the PRIESTESS by her right hand with his left, keeping the Lance raised.

I, PRIEST and KING, take thee, Virgin pure without spot; I upraise thee; I lead thee to the East; I set thee upon the summit of the Earth. 

He thrones the PRIESTESS upon the altar. The DEACON and the children follow, they in rank, behind him. The PRIESTESS takes The Book of the Law, resumes her seat, and holds it open on her breast with her two hands, making a descending triangle with thumbs and forefingers. [The people may sit.]

The PRIEST gives the lance to the DEACON to hold, and takes the ewer from the child, and sprinkles the PRIESTESS, making five crosses, forehead, shoulders, and thighs. The thumb of the PRIEST is always between his index and medius, whenever he is not holding the Lance. The PRIEST takes the censer from the child, and makes five crosses, as before. The children replace their weapons on their respective altars. The PRIEST kisses The Book of the Law three times. [NOTE] He kneels for a space in adoration, with joined hands, knuckles closed, thumb in position aforesaid. He rises, and draws the veil over the whole altar.

[The Circumambulation of the Temple]

All rise and stand to order [at the direction of the Deacon]. The PRIEST takes the lance from the DEACON, and holds it as before, as Osiris or Phthah . He circumambulates the Temple three times, followed by the DEACON and the children as before. (These, when not using their hands, keep their arms crossed upon their breasts.)

[The Ascent to the Veil]

At the last circumambulation they leave him, and go to the place between the font and the small altar, where they kneel in adoration, their hands joined palm to palm, and raised above their heads. All [the People] imitate this motion.

[The Priest’s First Oration Before the Veil]

The PRIEST returns to the East, and mounts the first step of the altar.

The PRIEST: O circle of Stars whereof our Father is but the younger brother, marvel beyond imagination, soul of infinite space, before whom Time is Ashamed, the mind bewildered, and the understanding dark, not unto Thee may we attain, unless Thine image be Love. Therefore by seed and root and stem and bud and leaf and flower and fruit do we invoke Thee. 

“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!” [Liber AL, I:27]

[The Priestess’s Oration From Behind the Veil]

During this speech the PRIESTESS must have divested herself completely of her robe. See CCXX I:62.

The PRIESTESS: “But to love me is better than all things; if under the night-stars in the desert thou presently burnest mine incense before me, invoking me with a pure heart, and the serpent flame therein, thou shalt come a little to lie in my bosom. For one kiss wilt thou then be willing to give all; but whoso gives one particle of dust shall lose all in that hour. Ye shall gather goods and store of women and spices; ye shall wear rich jewels; ye shall exceed the nations of the earth in splendour and pride; but always in the love of me, and so shall ye come to my joy. I charge you earnestly to come before me in a single robe, and covered with a rich head-dress. I love you! I yearn to you! Pale or purple, veiled or voluptuous, I who am all pleasure and purple, and drunkenness of the innermost sense, desire you. Put on the wings, and arouse the coiled splendour within you: come unto me!” [Liber AL, I:61] “To me! To me!” [Liber AL, I:62] “Sing the rapturous love-song unto me! Burn to me perfumes! Wear to me jewels! Drink to me, for I love you! I love you. I am the blue-lidded daughter of sunset; I am the naked brilliance of the voluptuous night-sky. To me! To me!” [Liber AL, I:63-65]

[The Priest’s Second Oration Before the Veil]

The PRIEST mounts the second step.

The PRIEST: O secret of secrets that art hidden in the being of all that lives, not Thee do we adore, for that which adoreth is also Thou. Thou art That, and That am I.

“I am the flame that burns in every heart of man, and in the core of every star. I am Life, and the giver of Life; yet therefore is the knowledge of me the knowledge of death.” [Liber AL, II:6] “I am alone; there is no God where I am.” [Liber AL, II:23]

[The Calendar]

The DEACON and all rise to their feet, with the Hailing sign.

The DEACON: “But ye, O my people rise up and awake!

“Let the rituals be rightly performed with joy and beauty!

“There are rituals of the elements and feasts of the times.

“A feast for the first night of the Prophet and his Bride!

“A feast for the three days of the writing of the Book of the Law.

A feast for Tahuti and the children of the Prophet—secret, O Prophet!

“A feast for the Supreme Ritual, and a feast for the Equinox of the Gods.

“A feast for fire and a feast for water; a feast for life and a greater feast for death!

“A feast every day in your hearts in the joy of my rapture!

“A feast every night unto Nu, and the pleasure of uttermost
delight!” [Liber AL, II:34-43.]

[The People may resume their seats.]

[The Priest’s Third Oration Before the Veil]

The PRIEST mounts the third step.

The PRIEST: Thou that art One, our Lord in the Universe the Sun, our Lord in ourselves whose name is Mystery of Mystery, uttermost being whose radiance enlightening the worlds is also the breath that maketh every God even and Death to tremble before Thee—By the Sign of Light ☩ appear Thou glorious upon the throne of the Sun. [NOTE] Make open the path of creation and of intelligence between us and our minds. Enlighten our understanding. Encourage our hearts. Let thy light crystallize itself in our blood, fulfilling us of Resurrection. [NOTE]

A ka dua
Tuf ur biu
Bi a’a chefu
Dudu nur af an nuteru. [NOTE]

The PRIESTESS: “There is no law beyond Do what thou wilt.” [Liber AL, III:60.]

[The Opening of the Veil]

The PRIEST parts the veil with his lance. During the previous speeches the PRIESTESS has, if necessary, as in savage countries, resumed her robe.


The PRIESTESS is seated with the Paten in her right hand and the cup in her left. [She then sets them down, the Paten to her left, the Cup to her right.]

The PRIEST presents the Lance, which she kisses eleven times. She then holds it to her breast, while the PRIEST, falling at her knees, kisses them, his arms stretched along her thighs. He remains in this adoration while the DEACON intones the Collects. All stand to order, with the Dieu Garde, that is, feet square, hands, with linked thumbs, held loosely. This is the universal position when standing, unless other direction is given.



The Sun

The DEACON: Lord visible and sensible of whom this earth is but a frozen spark turning about thee with annual and diurnal motion, source of light, source of life, let thy perpetual radiance hearten us to continual labour and enjoyment; so that as we are constant partakers of thy bounty we may in our particular orbit give out light and life, sustenance and joy to them that revolve about us without diminution of substance or effulgence for ever.

The PEOPLE: So mote it be.

The Lord

The DEACON: Lord secret and most holy, source of light, source of life, source of love, source of liberty, be thou ever constant and mighty within us, force of energy, fire of motion; with diligence let us ever labour with thee, that we may remain in thine abundant joy.

The PEOPLE: So mote it be.

The Moon

The DEACON: Lady of night, that turning ever about us art now visible and now invisible in thy season, be thou favourable to hunters, and lovers, and to all men that toil upon the earth, and to all mariners upon the sea.

The PEOPLE: So mote it be.

The Lady

The DEACON: Giver and receiver of joy, gate of life and love, be thou ever ready, thou and thine handmaiden, in thine office of gladness.

The PEOPLE: So mote it be.

The Saints

The DEACON: Lord of Life and Joy, that art the might of man, that art the essence of every true god that is upon the surface of the Earth, continuing knowledge from generation unto generation, thou adored of us upon heaths and in woods, on mountains and in caves, openly in the marketplaces and secretly in the chambers of our houses, in temples of gold and ivory and marble as in these other temples of our bodies, we worthily commemorate them worthy that did of old adore thee and manifest thy glory unto men,

(At each name the DEACON signs ☩ with thumb between index and medius. At ordinary mass it is only necessary to commemorate those whose names are italicized, with wording as is shown.)

Lao-tzu and Siddhârtha and Krishna and Tahuti, Mosheh, Dionysus, Mohammed and To Mega Thêrion, with these also, Hermês, Pan, Priapus, Osiris and Melchizedek, Khem and Amoun and Mentu, Hêraclês, Orpheus and Odysseus; with Vergilius, Catullus, Martialis, Rabelais, Swinburne, and many an holy bard; Apollonius Tyanæus, Simon Magus, Manes, Pythagoras, Basilides, Valentinus, Bardesanes and Hippolytus, that transmitted the Light of the Gnosis to us their successors and their heirs; with Merlin, Arthur, Kamuret, Parzival, and many another, prophet, priest and king, that bore the Lance and Cup, the Sword and Disk, against the Heathen; and these also, Carolus Magnus and his paladins, with William of Schyren, Frederick of Hohenstaufen, Roger Bacon, Jacobus Burgundus Molensis the Martyr, Christian Rosencreutz, Ulrich von Hutten, Paracelsus, Michael Maier, Roderic Borgia Pope Alexander the Sixth, Jacob Boehme, Francis Bacon Lord Verulam, Andrea, Robertus de Fluctibus, Giordano Bruno, Johannes Dee, Sir Edward Kelly, Thomas Vaughan, Elias Ashmole, Molinos, Adam Weishaupt, Wolfgang von Goethe, William Blake, Ludovicus Rex Bavariæ, Richard Wagner, Alphonse Louis Constant, Friedrich Nietzsche, Hargrave Jennings, Carl Kellner, Forlong dux, Sir Richard Payne Knight, Sir Richard Francis Burton, Paul Gauguin, Harry Everett Smith, Docteur Gérard Encausse, Doctor Theodor Reuss, and Sir Aleister Crowley—Oh Sons of the Lion and the Snake! With all thy saints we worthily commemorate them worthy that were and are and are to come.

May their Essence be here present, potent, puissant and paternal to perfect this feast!

The PEOPLE: So mote it be.

The Earth

The DEACON: Mother of fertility on whose breast lieth water, whose cheek is caressed by air, and in whose heart is the sun’s fire, womb of all life, recurring grace of seasons, answer favorably the prayer of labour, and to pastors and husbandmen be thou propitious.

The PEOPLE: So mote it be.

The Principles

The DEACON: Mysterious Energy, triform, mysterious Matter, in fourfold and sevenfold division, the interplay of which things weave the dance of the Veil of Life upon the Face of the Spirit, let there be Harmony and Beauty in your mystic loves, that in us may be health and wealth and strength and divine pleasure according to the Law of Liberty; let each pursue his Will as a strong man that rejoiceth in his way, as the course of a Star that blazeth for ever among the joyous company of Heaven.

The PEOPLE: So mote it be.


The DEACON: Be the hour auspicious, and the gate of life open in peace and in well-being, so that she that beareth children may rejoice, and the babe catch life with both hands.

The PEOPLE: So mote it be.


The DEACON: Upon all that this day unite with love under will let fall success; may strength and skill unite to bring forth ecstasy, and beauty answer beauty.

The PEOPLE: So mote it be.


All stand, Head erect, Eyes open.

The DEACON: Term of all that liveth, whose name is inscrutable, be favourable unto us in thine hour.

The PEOPLE: So mote it be.

The End

The DEACON: Unto them from whose eyes the veil of life hath fallen may there be granted the accomplishment of their true Wills; whether they will absorption in the Infinite, or to be united with their chosen and preferred, or to be in contemplation, or to be at peace, or to achieve the labour and heroism of incarnation on this planet or another, or in any Star, or aught else, unto them may there be granted the accomplishment of their wills; yea, the accomplishment of their wills.


The PEOPLE: So mote it be.

All [the People] sit. The DEACON and the children attend the PRIEST and PRIESTESS, ready to hold any appropriate weapon as may be necessary.



[The PRIESTESS picks up the Cup and Paten.]

The PRIEST makes the five crosses:



on paten and cup; ☩ 4 on paten alone; ☩ 5 on cup alone.

The PRIEST: Life of man upon earth, fruit of labour, sustenance of endeavour, thus be thou nourishment of the Spirit!

He touches the Host with the Lance.

By the virtue of the Rod! Be this bread the Body of God!

[He hands the Lance to the Deacon.] He takes the Host.


He [replaces Host,] kneels, adores, rises, [takes Paten and Host,] turns, shows Host to the PEOPLE [holding the Paten beneath it], turns, replaces [Paten and] Host, and adores. Music. He takes the Cup.

Vehicle of the joy of Man upon earth, solace of labour, inspiration of endeavour, thus be thou ecstasy of the Spirit!

He touches the Cup with the Lance.

By the virtue of the Rod!

Be this wine the Blood of God!

He [hands the Lance to the Deacon and] takes the Cup.


He [replaces the Cup,] kneels, adores, rises, [takes the Cup,] turns, shows the Cup to the PEOPLE, turns replaces the Cup, and adores. Music.

[He takes the Lance.]

For this is the Covenant of Resurrection.

He makes the five crosses on the PRIESTESS.

Accept, O LORD, this sacrifice of life [indicates Host] and joy [indicates Cup], true warrants of the Covenant of Resurrection. 

The PRIEST offers the Lance to the PRIESTESS, who kisses it; he then touches her between the breasts and upon the body. He then flings out his arms upward, as comprehending the whole shrine.

Let this offering be borne upon the waves of Æthyr to our Lord and Father the Sun that travelleth over the Heavens in his name ON.

He closes his hands, kisses the PRIESTESS between the breasts, and makes three great crosses over the Paten, the Cup, and himself. He strikes his breast. All repeat this action.

Hear ye all, saints of the true church of old time now essentially present , that of ye we claim heirship, with ye we claim communion, from ye we claim benediction in the name of IAÔ.

He makes three crosses on Paten and Cup together. [He hands the Lance to the Deacon.] He uncovers the Cup, genuflects, takes the Cup in his left hand and the Host in his right. With the Host he makes the five crosses on the Cup.




He elevates the Host and the Cup. The Bell strikes.

[The Trisagion or Sanctus]


He replaces the Host and the Cup, and adores. [NOTE]

[The Priest takes the Lance. The Deacon returns to his usual station.]



The PRIEST: Thou who art I, beyond all I am,
Who hast no nature and no name,
Who art, when all but Thou are gone,
Thou, centre and secret of the Sun,
Thou, hidden spring of all things known
And unknown, Thou aloof, alone,
Thou, the true fire within the reed
Brooding and breeding, source and seed
Of life, love, liberty, and light,
Thou beyond speech and beyond sight,
Thee I invoke, my faint fresh fire
Kindling as mine intents aspire.
Thee I invoke, abiding one,
Thee, centre and secret of the Sun,
And that most holy mystery
Of which the vehicle am I.
Appear, most awful and most mild,
As it is lawful, in thy child!

The CHORUS: For of the Father and the Son
The Holy Spirit is the norm;
Male-female, quintessential, one,
Man-being veiled in Woman-form.
Glory and worship in the highest,
Thou Dove, mankind that deifiest,
Being that race, most royally run
To spring sunshine through winter storm.
Glory and worship be to Thee,
Sap of the world-ash, wonder-tree!

First Semichorus, MEN: Glory to Thee from Gilded Tomb!

Second Semichorus, WOMEN: Glory to Thee from Waiting Womb!

MEN: Glory to Thee from earth unploughed!

WOMEN: Glory to Thee from virgin vowed!

MEN: Glory to Thee, true Unity
Of the Eternal Trinity!

WOMEN: Glory to Thee, thou sire and dam
And self of I am that I am!

MEN: Glory to Thee, beyond all term,
Thy spring of sperm, thy seed and germ!

WOMEN: Glory to Thee, eternal Sun,
Thou One in Three, Thou Three in One!

CHORUS: Glory and worship unto Thee,
Sap of the world-ash, wonder-tree!

(These words are to form the substance of the anthem; but the whole or any part thereof shall be set to music, which may be as elaborate as art can devise. But even should other anthems be authorized by the Father of the Church, this shall hold its place as the first of its kind, the father of all others.)



The PRIEST takes the Paten between the index and medius of the right hand. The PRIESTESS clasps the Cup in her right hand.

[The Blessing of the Elements]

The PRIEST: Lord most secret, bless this spiritual food unto our bodies, bestowing upon us health and wealth and strength and joy and peace, and that fulfilment of will and of love under will that is perpetual happiness. [NOTE]

He makes ☩ with Paten and kisses it.

[He sets Paten on Altar and hands Lance to Priestess.]

[The Fractio]

He uncovers the Cup, genuflects, rises. Music. He takes the Host, and breaks it over the Cup. He replaces the right-hand portion in the Paten. He breaks off a particle of the left-hand portion.


He replaces the left-hand part of the Host.

[The Consignatio and Commixto]

The PRIESTESS extends the Lance-point with her left hand to receive the particle. The PRIEST clasps the Cup in his left hand. Together they depress the Lance-point in the Cup. [NOTE]


The PRIEST takes the Lance. The PRIESTESS covers the Cup.

[The Epiklesis]

The PRIEST [hands the Lance to the Priestess] genuflects, rises, bows, joins hands. He strikes his breast.

The PRIEST: O Lion and O Serpent that destroy the destroyer, be mighty among us. O Lion and O Serpent that destroy the destroyer, be mighty among us. O Lion and O Serpent that destroy the destroyer, be mighty among us. [NOTE]

[The Consummation of the Elements]

The PRIEST joins hands upon the breast of the PRIESTESS, and takes back his Lance. He turns to the People, lowers and raises the Lance, and makes ☩ upon them.

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

The PEOPLE: Love is the law, love under will.

He lowers the Lance, and turns to East. The PRIESTESS takes the Lance in her right hand. With her left hand she offers the Paten. The PRIEST kneels.

The PRIEST: In my mouth be the essence of the life of the Sun.

He takes the Host with the right hand, makes ☩ with it on the Paten, and consumes it. Silence. The PRIESTESS takes, uncovers, and offers the Cup, as before.

The PRIEST: In my mouth be the essence of the joy of the earth!

He takes the Cup, makes ☩ on the PRIESTESS, drains it and returns it. Silence. He rises, takes the Lance, and turns to the PEOPLE.

The PRIEST: There is no part of me that is not of the Gods.

(Those of the PEOPLE who intend to communicate, and none other should be present, having signified their intention, a whole Cake of Light, and a whole goblet of wine, have been prepared for each one. The DEACON marshals them; they advance one by one to the altar. The children take the Elements and offer them. The PEOPLE communicate as did the PRIEST, uttering the same words in an attitude of Resurrection: “There is no part of me that is not of the Gods.” The exceptions to this part of the ceremony are when it is of the nature of a celebration, in which case none but the PRIEST communicate; or part of the ceremony of marriage, when none other, save the two to be married, partake; part of the ceremony of baptism, when only the child baptised partakes; and of Confirmation at puberty, when only the persons confirmed partake. The Sacrament may be reserved by the PRIEST, for administration to the sick in their homes.

The PRIEST closes all within the veil.

[The Benediction (Benedictio)]

With the Lance he makes ☩ on the people thrice, thus.

The PRIEST: ☩ The LORD bless you.
☩ The LORD enlighten your minds and comfort your hearts and sustain your bodies.
☩ The LORD bring you to the accomplishment of your true Wills, the Great Work, the Summum Bonum, True Wisdom and Perfect Happiness.

He goes out, the DEACON and Children following, into the tomb of the West.

Music. (Voluntary.) [NOTE]

NOTE: The PRIESTESS and other officers never partake of the Sacrament, they being as it were part of the PRIEST himself. [NOTE]

NOTE: Certain secret formulæ of this Mass are taught to the PRIEST in his Ordination. [NOTE]

The Gnostic Mass
Annotations and Commentary by Helena and Tau Apiryon

July 10, 2004 e.v.

Copyright © 1995, 2004 Ordo Templi Orientis U.S.A.

All Rights Reserved. No part of this document may be duplicated in any form; electronic or otherwise, without the express written permission of Ordo Templi Orientis.

Introductory Notes

This document contains our personal interpretations of Liber XV, from clarifications of its often incomplete and sometimes contradictory stage directions, to cross-referencing, to symbolic exegesis. While Liber XV is hardly a Class A publication, explaining and interpreting any of Crowley’s writings is always risky business, even for the best of Crowley scholars and the most experienced of magicians. Crowley, like all Qabalists, realized the
value of the use of multiple layers of meaning to create a vector to point toward a truth that would be impossible (or foolish) to express in plain words. Such layers of meaning are especially abundant in Liber XV, and the interpretive material contained herein is far from exhaustive. We have intentionally, and, no doubt unintentionally as well, left many layers of meaning untouched. Rather than attempting to explain away or trivialize the mysteries of Thelemic Gnosticism in “common language,” we have sought to provide material which is suggestive of the unfathomed depths of these mysteries, and which invites the reader to dive in and explore them. In his Confessions, Crowley stated that he wished to construct Liber XV  such that it would “combine the most rigidly rational conceptions of phenomena with the most exalted and enthusiastic celebration of their sublimity,” and that it “would neither make nor imply any statement about nature which would not be endorsed by the most materialistic man of science.” While Crowley’s success in this undertaking is far from certain, his spirited attempt has, in our opinion, greatly strengthened the appeal of Liber XV. However, the “materialistic man of science” is by no means necessarily a dogmatist of materialism. The true man of science is a man of open mind and wide learning; he will understand that the creations of the cognitive processes of mythology and theology have as great an effect on the human mind as the creations of the human sensory organs. Thus, in our exegesis, we have introduced ideas which may appear to some purists as wandering dangerously close to the realm of “disputable metaphysical theories.” We hope that such purists will be gracious enough to permit our readers to evaluate our comments in the light of their own Lamps.

In preparing our interpretive and expository materials, we have endeavored to rely on Crowley’s own writings whenever possible, but we have ventured to occasionally express our own personal opinions. Therefore, we must disclaim our efforts herein to interpret or explain the symbolic aspects of Liber XV as representing strictly that, our own considered opinions, and not those of O.T.O., E.G.C., or anyone else. Each must always cut his or her own way through the jungle, even those who follow the footprints of others; for in the jungle, the underbrush grows very quickly indeed.

According to Soror Meral (Sister Phyllis Seckler), Sister Jane Wolfe participated in performances of the Gnostic Mass under Crowley’s direction during her stay at Cefalù (althoughly Crowley told W.T. Smith that “only bits” of the Gnostic Mass had been performed there). When she returned to California, she drew upon her experiences at Cefalù to assist W.T. Smith and Regina Kahl in the development of the Agapé Lodge performance standards for the Gnostic Mass. The tradition of Agapé Lodge Gnostic Mass performance would thus potentially represent an indirect and partial transmission of Crowley’s own Gnostic Mass performance standards; and have thus been given some weight in developing the recommendations presented herein. The descriptions of Agapé Lodge performance traditions given below are as recalled by Sorores Meral and Grimaud, who were both members of Agapé Lodge.

Many of the annotations herein were originally published in “Mystery of Mystery: a Primer of Thelemic Ecclesiastical Gnosticism,” published as Number 2 of the private Thelemic journal Red Flame.


Translation: The Canon of the Mass of Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica, the Gnostic Catholic Church.

The Altar

The Altar is sized to be of the dimensions of a typical Egyptian sarcophagus. In addition, the numbers 3 and 7 add to 10; and 3, 7 and 10 are the numbers of the three Sephiroth on the Tree of Life with distinctly feminine Magical Images: Binah, Netzach and Malkuth.


Graphically, the fleur-de-lys is composed of an upright stroke, flared at the top, which penetrates a figure composed of two linked curves. The conjunction of these two basic, graphical elements produces a single, threefold figure, emblematic of a trinity-in-unity. Hargrave Jennings, in The Rosicrucians, their Rites and Mysteries, provides an interesting (and complex) symbolic analysis of the fleur-de-lys.

The Pillars or Obelisks

Neither pillar or obelisk is entirely black or entirely white. Typically, in keeping with Golden Dawn tradition, the pillars or obelisks would be constructed such that the one placed to the north of the Altar would be predominantly black and the one placed to the south of the Altar would be predominantly white, to emphasize the symbolism of Yin and Yang, and of Chokhmah and Binah. However, a photograph of the Agapé Lodge altar dating from the 40’s shows black and white obelisks to the right and left of the altar, respectively. It is possible that the photograph captured an error made in setting up the arrangement, because Soror Meral maintains that the white obelisk was always placed to the right of the altar for Masses at Agapé Lodge. However, based solely on the text of Liber XV, it would not be unreasonable to construct the obelisks such that they both have equal amounts of black and white.

The Three Steps

The three steps of black and white squares may be seen as symbolizing the three Grades of Man of Earth, Lover, and Hermit; or the three horizontal Paths of the Tree of Life (Peh-Mars, the Tower, Teth-Leo, Lust, and Daleth-Venus, the Empress; or the First Three Regular Steps.)

The phrase “dais of three steps” suggests that the dais, meaning the platform supporting the High Altar, is constituted by the three steps. Therefore, ideally, the steps would extend the entire length of the platform, and the top of the platform would be continuous with the topmost of the three steps. The black and white squares may be seen as symbolizing the interplay of primal opposites.

The Super-altar

Super-altar is the Masonic term for what is known in ecclesiastical terminology as a retable or gradine; which is a structure raised above an altar, at the back, for supporting a picture or bas relief, vases, candles and ornaments. In the Roman Catholic Church, a retable can consist of anything from a small, simple shelf mounted on the back of the Altar to an elaborate, free-standing sculpted structure many times the size of the Altar itself.

The Stèle of Revealing

The Stèle of Revealing is the funeral tablet of Ankh-f-n-Khonsu, a Priest of Monthu who lived in Thebes during the late XXVth dynasty of ancient Egypt, around 725 b.c.e. Crowley and his wife Rose encountered this artifact, labeled as “Stele 666”, in the Boulak Museum of Cairo shortly after the Equinox of the Gods in March, 1904 e.v. This encounter was one of several important events leading to the reception of The Book of the Law on April 8, 9, and 10, 1904 e.v. (See Book 4, Part IV).According to Aleister Crowley’s mythic story, “Across the Gulf,” Ankh-af-na-Khonsu was responsible for ushering in the Aeon of Osiris. Aleister Crowley assumed the magical identity of the dead man Ankh-af-na-Khonsu as the living Prophet of the Aeon of Horus, the deliverer of The Book of the Law. The Stele thus represents the oracular connection of The Book of the Law and the Law of Thelema with the archaic energies of ancient Egypt, transformed and renewed in accordance with the cyclic pattern of aeonic evolution.Cf. Atu XX and corresponding passages of the Book of Thoth.

The Holy Graal

Cf. The Ace of Cups and corresponding passages of the Book of Thoth. Also see Book 4, Part II, Chapter 7; Magick in Theory and Practice, Chapter 7; and Liber CDXVIII, 12th Æthyr.

The Roses

The roses on either side of the Cup indicate that Yesod is of the nature of Air as well as of the Moon; they may also represent the Sephiroth of Hod and Netzach. The rose is attributed to Netzach in Liber 777; and roses are a traditional symbol of love, which makes them appropriate for framing the Cup. In any case, it is a very ancient tradition to place sweet-smelling flowers, especially roses, upon a sacred Altar. The color of the roses is not specified. Red roses are usually preferred; but it would also be possible to vary the color of the roses used according to the season or the occasion.

The Paten

The Paten simultaneously symbolizes the Sun and the Earth, cf. The Ace of Discs, and corresponding passages of the Book of Thoth. Inman says the round Host or Paten in combination with the crescent of the bowl of the cup symbolize the sun and moon.

The Great Candles

There is only one great candle on each side of the Altar.

Arrangement of the Super-altar

For our purposes, the super-altar should provide at least three distinct levels: one for the Stèle at the top; one for The Book of the Law in the center, and one for the Cup and the Paten at the bottom. The surface of the Altar itself may be used for the lowest level. The candles and roses may be placed on the same shelves as the objects they are to flank, or they may be placed on subsidiary shelves; therefore, a total of two, three, five or seven steps or shelves would be appropriate. The Stèle should be mounted high enough as to be visible above the Priestess’s head when she is seated on the Altar, and there should, ideally, be no symbol or image higher than the Stèle.

The arrangement of the implements on the super-altar and High Altar recapitulates the Tree of Life. In this case, the Stèle, atop the super-altar, is at Kether, the Book of the Law (as Logos) is one step below at Tiphareth, the Cup is at Yesod, and the space for the Paten in front of the Cup is at Malkuth. The Priestess completes this Tree when she places the Paten on the Altar in front of the Cup. It may also be noted that the Stèle, Book, and Cup correspond to the three principal elements of the Lamen of the O.T.O.: the Eye in the Triangle, the descending Dove, and the Holy Graal, respectively.

All five elements or tattwas are symbolically represented on the Altar and super-altar: Air, or Vayu, by the medium of their fragrance, is represented by the roses; Water, or Apas, is represented by the Cup; Fire, or Tejas, is represented by the candles; Earth, or Prithivi is represented by the Paten and Hosts; Spirit, or Akasha is represented by the Stèle, or by the bell.

There are a total of twenty-two candles on the super-altar, corresponding to the twenty-two Paths on the Tree of Life. Thus, there are eleven candles on each side of the Altar.

The Stèle has eight candles surrounding it, and there are eight Paths above the Abyss, eight clauses in the Creed, and eight letters in the name BAPHOMET. The Sephiroth Chokhmah and Binah, which flank Kether as the eight candles flank the Stèle, are numbered 2 and 3 respectively, and 8=23. Also, 8 = Cheth = 418 = Abrahadabra, the Word of the Æon.

Traditionally, at least two candles are required on an altar of the Roman Church, and two candles were always placed on the ritual tables of the Cathars and of Doinel’s Gnostic Church. They probably signified, originally, the two celestial luminaries, the sun and moon. According to Hargrave Jennings in Live Lights or Dead Lights, the two candles on the altar symbolize the “cleft” through which the Sun of Righteousness appears. The two great candles on the super-altar of the Gnostic Catholic Church correspond to these two traditional candles. They may also correspond to the Pillars of Mercy and Severity, and, since there are a total of twenty-two candles on the super-altar, to any reciprocal pair of Hebrew Letters or Paths, such as Aleph and Tav, Ayin and Nun, or Qoph and Shin.

The twelve candles surrounding the Book of the Law may correspond to the twelve signs of the Zodiac surrounding the Sun, and the Paths which designate them.

Temple Layout

The Temple described in Liber XV follows the pattern of the Tree of Life. The Stèle of Revealing is stationed at Kether. The two pillars are stationed at Chokhmah and Binah. The Priestess sits at the intersection of the Paths of Gimel (The High Priestess, Luna) and Daleth (The Empress, Venus). The Dais elevates the Supernal Triad, and the Veil stretches across the Abyss. The Altar of Incense is stationed at Tiphareth. The Font is stationed at Yesod, and the Tomb is stationed at Malkuth.

In the text of Liber XV, Crowley actually states the following:

Taking this altar as the middle of the base of a similar and equal triangle, at the apex of this second triangle is a small circular font.

This would place the Font at a point between Yesod and Malkuth and would also place the Tomb at a point considerably below Malkuth. We may reasonably assume that Crowley’s statement contained a minor and easily made error, and that what he intended to say was probably something more like the following:

Taking this altar as the middle of a similar and equal triangle, at the apex of this second triangle is a small circular font.

The Deacon’s station is between the Altar of Incense and the Font, i.e. at the intersection of the Paths of Samekh and Peh, which is the symbolic position of the Magician during the performance of the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram. The Children are stationed at various points along the Pillars of Mercy and Severity during the course of the Mass.

The Priest

A male officer. When all the officers are considered collectively, the Priest may be attributed to the Yod of Tetragrammaton and the alchemical principle of Sulphur. The role of the Priest is analogous to that of the Hierophant in the Golden Dawn system. The word “priest” derives ultimately from the Greek word presbyteros, meaning an elder.

The Lance

The lance should be straight, and at least 2/3 the height of the Priest. W.T. Smith’s lance was several inches longer than he was tall. Ideally, it should have a wooden or metal shaft and a metal head.


We recommend that each officer’s vestments include a plain, white robe or gown, with a colored robe, mantle, chasuble, or dalmatic worn over it: red and gold for the Priest, blue and gold for the Priestess, yellow for the Deacon, and black and white for the two Children.

Vestments of all officers should be donned ceremonially before the Mass, after ceremonial ablutions. All officers took a bath and meditated for a time before commencing the Gnostic Mass at Agapé Lodge.

From Crowley’s “Not the Life and Adventures of Sir Roger Bloxam”:

Robes for the priests, albs, amices, dalmatics, chasubles, rochets, copes, birettas, all things canonical and lovely these doth he buy and sell, and his whole soul is ornamented by his love for the figurative mystery of these holy vestments. For it seemeth (as I dream) that the priest is to the Most High God as is a woman to her lover, that his raiment and apparel are even as the silks and fine linens and laces of a courtesan, which she adorns herself withal, that she may make her lover mad with love. And the incense? Oh a surety it is so. Then he, being made God by the passion of God that floodeth him, transmitteth God to bread and wine, transmuteth them again to God. Then eateth and drinketh he that God, even (again) as a woman receiveth of the lover the fluid and solid substance of his being; and thus being made God once more, ex infero, he transmitteth upward that godhead by the transmutation of those received Elements into strength of body and spirit that exulting poureth out its new divinity in praise and thanksgiving to the All-Father. I would also that ye take note how bread and wine be adorned for the priest, in golden paten and chased chalice. Behold then how complete and perfect is this — true image of true Life! And is not our Father, the Sun, the giver of all Life, adorned with glory of rays?

The Priestess

A female officer. When all the officers are considered collectively, the Priestess may be attributed to the Heh of Tetragrammaton and the alchemical principle of Salt. The role of the Priestess is analogous to that of the Hiereus in the Golden Dawn system. Cf. Atu II, III, VI, VIII, and corresponding passages of the Book of Thoth. The Priest and Priestess, together, represent the Grade of Hermit.

Some have said that the role of the Priestess is passive, and subordinate to that of the Priest. This is simply absurd, as any attentive observer of the Gnostic Mass will realize. The Priestess does have fewer lines than the Priest, but the importance of a role is not to be judged based on word count; and any role that includes such active gestures as (for example) the creation of a Holy Temple from an ordinary room, the creation of a Holy Priest from an ordinary man, and the invocation of the Serpent Flame by the Great Oration behind the Veil, can hardly be characterized as “passive.” There are times when the Priestess assumes a receptive role during the performance of the Mass, but the same can be also be said of the Priest; for instance, when he is being purified and consecrated.

The officers of the Gnostic Mass can be seen either as aspects of each individual, or as individual persons. In either case, the work performed in the Gnostic Mass is the result their a combined, cooperative, harmonious efforts. Unlike the simple charging of a talisman, the Gnostic Mass does not represent the effort of an individual Magician imposing his Will through the medium of a passive First Matter, assisted by servants. In the Gnostic Mass, no single officer can correctly be characterized as the “operative” officer. Each officer has his or her own tasks to perform, and all these tasks are essential to the accomplishment of the Work of the Mass.

The Sword

See Liber AL III:11, Book 4, Part II, Chapter 8, and the chapter on “The Magic Sword” in Book 5 of Regardie’s The Golden Dawn. Crowley usually refers to the sword as an emblem of the rational mind, parallel to the symbolism of the dagger in the Golden Dawn system. In the particular context of its use in the Gnostic Mass, however, it may be useful to note that the Golden Dawn system attributes the sword to Geburah, being a weapon of war forged from iron (steel), the metal of Mars. Thus, the sword may also be seen as a symbol of the “Power of Iron,” the initiatory Force of Mars and Ra Hoor Khuit.

The Red Girdle

See Liber AL, I:60″ “The Five Pointed Star, with a Circle in the Middle, & the circle is Red.” The five-pointed star can be seen as a geometric representation of the human body, with the five points representing the head, outstretched arms, and legs.

The Cakes of Light

See Liber AL, III:23-25, and Magick in Theory and Practice, Chapter 20.

The Deacon

An officer of either sex. When all the officers are considered collectively, the Deacon may be attributed to the Vav of Tetragrammaton and the alchemical principle of Mercury. The role of the Deacon is analogous to that of the Hegemon, and also the Kerux, of the Golden Dawn system. The Deacon’s place is on the Path of Samekh, the union of opposites, hence the Deacon is androgynous and may be of either sex. The Deacon takes the place of the Narrator in the Drama of the Mass. He/she is the bearer of the Logos (the Book), and to him are attributed the Hermetic Gods: Tahuti, Aiwass, etc. He represents the Grade of Lover. The word “deacon” derives ultimately from the Greek word diakonos, meaning a minister or servant.

The Two Children

The Positive Child and the Negative Child are officers of either sex. Despite the name “Children,” there is no specific maximum age specified for these officers in Liber XV; nor is there any indication in Liber XV that these offices are in any way optional. Therefore, when is impossible or inappropriate for minors to serve in these offices, then adults should serve in them; but only such adults as are able to lay legitimate claim to the title of “child” by virtue of having, or of having once had, a mother.

When all the officers are considered collectively, the Children may be attributed to the Heh Final of Tetragrammaton. The roles of the Children are analogous to those of the Dadouchos and the Stolistes of the Golden Dawn system. Cf. Atu VI & XIX, and corresponding passages of the Book of Thoth. The Children represent the dual Child Heru Ra Ha: the positive Horus (Ra Hoor Khuit) and the negative Harpocrates (Hoor-paar-kraat). In keeping with the Heh-Final attribution, the Children may also be viewed as the Priest and Priestess of the Mass of the future, and are reflected in the two spheres depicted in Atu XV.

According to Soror Meral, the boys Dionysus (Hansi Carter, Leah Hirsig’s son) and Hermes (Howard Shumway, Ninette’s son) served as the Children in the Gnostic Masses (or bits thereof) that were celebrated at Cefalù. However, no appropriate minors were available at Agapé Lodge to fill these offices, and the Lodge officers decided to omit the offices altogether, rather than use adults. In the Gnostic Masses celebrated at Agapé Lodge, it was the Deacon, rather than the Children, who offered the Elements of Communion to the People. In this case, we differ from Agape Lodge tradition. As mentioned before, there is no indication in Liber XV that these offices are optional, nor is there any indication of the precise maximum age of the people serving in these offices. We have found, through years of experience, that adults can fill these offices very effectively and rewardingly.

We believe that an important aspect of symbolism, as well as of magical balance, is lost when the offices of the Children are omitted, and we recommend that these offices be filled whenever there are enough people present to make this possible. This is, in fact, the current official policy of E.G.C. in the U.S.A.

We have heard that some groups have had difficulty complying with this policy, because people in their areas seem to feel that these offices are beneath their dignity. Even as bishops, we have always felt honored to serve in these roles.

Perfume (Incense)

See Liber AL, I:59 and III:25, and Book 4, Part II, Chapter 16. Incense of Abramelin is particularly appropriate for the Gnostic Mass. It consists of four parts Frankincense, two parts Storax (Liquidambar resin– Benzoin is a satisfactory substitute) and one part Lignum Aloes (Aloes Wood, Cedar or Sandalwood are satisfactory substitutes).

The Congregation (The People)

The Congregation represents the Grade of Man of Earth.

Subsection Titles

These subsection titles have been added for convenience of reference. They are descriptive and refer, when applicable, to historical precedents; otherwise, they are arbitrary.

Light, Life, Love and Liberty

See Liber CL.


IAÔ is the Hellenized version of the Hebrew Tetragrammaton, יהוה‬. However, it has an independent linguistic association with DYAUS, the name of the ancient Indo-European Sky God, with the Greek Divine Names ZEUS and CHAOS, and with the Latin DEUS. Qabalistically, it pertains to Tiphareth: the Divine Name of Tiphareth in Atziluth is Jehova Eloah V’Da’ath (יהוה אלוה ודעת), the notariqon of which is I.A.V., which can be pronounced IAO. Also see Book IV, Part III, Chapter 5. Note: “am the Alpha and the Ômega.”

Added Stage Directions

These bracketed [ ] stage directions are added for clarity. They reflect our experience and opinions, and do not represent definitive standards.

The Step and Sign of a Man and Brother

“Man and Brother,” or “Woman and Sister,” refers to the I° of O.T.O. In Magick Without Tears, Crowley describes the I° of O.T.O. as follows: “The Child experiences Birth.” In his “Confessions,” he says of the Minerval and Man Degrees:

I begin by showing the object of the pure soul, `One, individual and eternal’, in determining to formulate itself consciously, or, as I may say, to understand itself. It chooses to enter into relations with the solar system. It incarnates. I explain the significance of birth and the conditions established by the process.

By giving the step and sign of a Man and Brother, the Deacon affirms that he or she has passed through the first stage of the great initiation of life, and is, therefore, entitled to partake of its first true Mysteries. In terms of the Church and the Order, the Deacon affirms that he or she has been baptized and is an initiate of the I°; i.e. that he or she is a full member of the Church, and is therefore entitled to participate in the Church’s recitation of the Creed. Note that the people imitate the Deacon, they do not necessarily understand the significance of his or her gestures. For Public Masses, the Step and Sign of a Man and a Brother are given as follows:

The Step: Stand perfectly erect, your feet formed into a square (left foot pointing forward, right foot pointing right with the right heel in the hollow of the left foot). Hands, with linked thumbs, are held loosely. Take a short pace forward with your left foot, then bring the right heel into its hollow.

The Sign: Hands are held open, fingers together. Place your right hand level, with the thumb extended in a square towards the throat, just left of the windpipe. Draw the hand smartly across the throat to the right, and drop it to the side.

The Step and Sign described above are those used in an older form of the I° ritual, which was current at the time that the Gnostic Mass was written, but is now obsolete.

Greeting of Earth and Heaven

The Priestess exhibits dual feminine aspects, corresponding to Babalon (Earth) and Nuit (Heaven), the Empress (Earth) and the High Priestess (Heaven). Note that the phrase is not ” Greetings of Earth and Heaven.”

The Hailing Sign of a Magician

“Magician” refers to the II° of O.T.O. In Magick Without Tears, Crowley describes the II° of O.T.O. as “The Man experiences Life.” In his “Confessions,” he says of the Magician degree:

I next show how it may best carry out its object in the eucharist of life. It partakes, so to speak, of its own godhead in every action, but especially through the typical sacrament of marriage, understood as the voluntary union of itself with each element of its environment.

By giving the Hailing Sign of a Magician, the Deacon and the people affirm that they are initiates in the Mystery of the “sacrament of marriage” in the “eucharist of life,” and are therefore entitled to partake of it. In terms of the Church and the Order, the Deacon affirms that he or she has been confirmed and is an initiate of the Magician Degree, and is therefore enabled to partake of this eucharist. As with the step and sign of a Man and a Brother, the people follow the Deacon, and do not necessarily understand the significance of this sign.

Note that the Hailing Sign is not given until after the confession of the Creed, and then it is given four times: to greet the Virgin on her entry to the Temple, after she has spoken the words “Greeting of Earth and Heaven!”; after the Priestess has consecrated the Lance and spoken the words “Be the LORD present among us!”; after the Priest has spoken the words “By the power of the lifted Lance!”; and after the Priest’s second invocation before the Veil, as the People rise with the words of the Deacon, “But ye, o my people, rise up & awake!” The II° initiate should reflect upon the symbolism of the sign taught to him or her at his/her initiation as it applies to each of the above events.

Although the members of the congregation need not be members of O.T.O., the act of following the Deacon through the signs and the Creed entitles them to communicate; and all who are present should be expected to do so, “having signified their intention.” All should be advised prior to their attendance that partaking of the eucharist will be expected should they choose to attend.

For Public Masses, the Hailing Sign of a Magician is given as follows:

Hands are held open, fingers together. Press the right hand on the left breast, extending the thumb perpendicularly upward to form a square. Throw the left hand up, with the left arm horizontal from the shoulder to the elbow, and perpendicular from the elbow to the ends of the fingers, with the thumb and forefinger forming a square.

The Hailing Sign described above is from an older form of the II° ritual, which was current at the time that the Gnostic Mass was written, but is now obsolete. Also see this note. Formal signs should always be given standing up, unless specifically noted otherwise. It should be the Deacon’s responsibility to see that the People stand and sit at the appropriate times. This can be done with a very subtle gesture. In my experience, it is best for the People to remain standing from this point until after the Priestess takes her seat on the Altar.

The Virgin and the Priestess

The Virgin is now referred to as the Priestess. The only event that has happened is that all have greeted her with the Hailing Sign, and she has turned away from the congregation in order to ascend the steps of the High Altar. She becomes Priestess both through the recognition of the People, and through her own self-dedication to the Highest.

They Await Her Below.

The Children never ascend the steps to the High Altar at any point during the ritual. Only the Priest, Priestess, and Deacon ever ascend the steps.

She places the Paten before the Graal.

She offers, i.e., dedicates and sacrifices, this part of herself before the Graal. In doing so, she also completes the complement of elemental symbols on the High Altar.

She Moves in a Serpentine Manner

In some locations, this is interpreted as calling for the Priestess to dance sinuously in her progressions around the Temple, sometimes with appropriate musical accompaniment; it is sometimes even referred to as the “serpentine dance.” However, there is no indication in the text itself that either dance or music are specifically called for. The path taken around the small altar and the font can be described as “serpentine,” and this description is sufficient to justify the use of the term.

3 and a Half Circles of the Temple

The Kundalinî, prior to rising up the spine, is said to be coiled 3 1/2 times around the Svayambhu Linga located in the Mulâdhâra Chakra at the base of the spine.

Since the Priestess begins in the east, we may interpret a “circle” as one full return to the east side of the small altar. Then we can count the number of circles as follows:

Deosil about altar: 1 circle
widdershins about font: 0 circles
deosil about altar and font: 1 circle
widdershins about altar: 1 circle
and so to the tomb in the west: 1/2 circle




This motion suggests the conjunction of Sun (Altar) and Moon (Font); cf. the Two of Discs of the Tarot. During these travels by the Priestess and the Children, the Deacon remains at his station at the small altar.

Priestess Cross

The ☩ symbol indicates that the sign of the cross is made. In this case, according to Agapé Lodge tradition, the Priestess makes the sign of the cross with her sword, held point up.

The Sign of the Cross, and the Sign of Light

In the Gnostic Mass, the Priestess makes the sign of an equal-armed cross 9 times, the Priest 39 times, and the Deacon makes one for each Saint, between 21 and 69 times. The Priest makes it when he gives the “Sign of Light” in Part IV of Liber XV, during his third oration before the Veil.

Due to its fourfold shape, the equal-armed cross has been used as a symbol of the four cardinal points, the four elements, etc., and thus of Earth or Matter. Because the four arms converge at a single central point, it can also be used in a manner cognate to that of the pentagram: the four elements harmonized by the fifth principle of Spirit. However, as stated by the Priest at the end of the Ceremony of the Opening of the Veil, it is also the Sign of Light.

While the cross has been adopted by Christianity as its official emblem, it was in use by many sects prior to Christianity. The history of the symbolism of the cross may be studied in the works of Higgins, Inman, Forlong, Hislop, Jennings, Pike, etc. Prior to its adoption by Christianity, it was primarily an emblem of Light, either Solar or Phallic, its arms symbolizing either radiant or penetrating energy. It was used in the Mithraic Mysteries as a mark of Solar consecration. As a gesture, Parsival (according to Wagner) used it to destroy Klingsor’s illusory stronghold; and it is said to be effective as protection against vampires and other dwellers in Darkness.

As a sign of the Light, it can be used as a gesture of consecration– of infusion with the Light which penetrates and dispels Darkness. It can also be used as a gesture of invocation, of manifesting Light from an invisible source, such as The Lord or the Saints. When it is made with a specific implement or substance, it can be used to symbolize transmission of Light of a specific elemental or planetary nature. During performance of the Gnostic Mass, the congregation can assist the officers by intentionally visualizing a Cross of Light when the officers make this sign.

It is interesting, and possibly significant, that the Sign of Light or of the Cross symbolizes both Light and Matter, since we now know that Light and Matter are variant manifestations of the same continuum.

Also see this note.


Iron is the metal of Mars, Ra Hoor Khuit, the initiatory force. Mars is attributed to the Svâdisthâna Chakra, located in the pelvic region.

Our Lord. . .

i.e., “one secret and ineffable Lord.”

The First Three Regular Steps

With the first three regular steps and the three penal signs, the Priest shows that he has suffered Initiation into the Lesser Mysteries, those of Birth, Life and Death.

For Public Masses, the first three regular steps are given as follows:

  1. Stand perfectly erect, your feet formed into a square (left foot pointing forward, right foot pointing right with the right heel in the hollow of the left foot). Hands, with linked thumbs, are held loosely. Take a short pace forward with your left foot, then bring the right heel into its hollow.
  2. Take another short pace, as before.
  3. Take another short pace, as before.

The Steps described above are those used in older forms of the I°, II° and III° rituals, which were current at the time that the Gnostic Mass was written, but are now obsolete.

The Three Penal Signs

With the first three regular steps and the three penal signs, the Priest shows that he has suffered Initiation into the Lesser Mysteries, those of Birth, Life and Death.

For Public Masses, the three penal signs are given as follows:

  1. Hands are held open, fingers together.
  2. Place your right hand level, with the thumb extended in a square towards the throat, just left of the windpipe. Draw the hand smartly across the throat to the right, and drop it to the side.
  3. Place your right hand level, with the thumb extended in a square towards the heart. Draw the hand across the breast to the right and drop it to the side.
  4. Place your right hand level, with the thumb extended in a square towards the navel. Draw the hand across the center of the body to the right, drop it to the side, and raise it again to place the point of the thumb upon the navel.

The Signs described above are those used in older forms of the I°, II° and III° rituals, which were current at the time that the Gnostic Mass was written, but are now obsolete.

Also see this note.

Earth and Water

Earth and Water are the “passive” elements.

With Open Hand Doth She Make

According to Agapé Lodge tradition, the Priestess makes these crosses in the air a few inches away from the Priest’s body.

Fire and Air

Fire and Air are the “active” elements.


From the Latin ambire, to go around. The Halo which designates holy personages in early and medieval Christian art was probably carried over from the Pagan tradition, where it was used to denote solar figures.

The Crown

See Book IV, Part II, Chapter 11:

“The Crown of the Magician represents the Attainment of his Work. It is a band of pure gold, on the front of which stand three pentagrams, and on the back a hexagram. The central pentagram contains a diamond or a great opal; the other three symbols contain the Tau. Around this Crown is twined the golden Uraeus serpent, with erect head and expanded hood.”

Illustrations of Crowley wearing a crown of this description and an appropriate cap of maintenance are given in Book 4 (frontispiece) and in The Vision and the Voice: Equinox Volume IV, No. II (Figure 36).

The Cap of Maintenance

The Cap of Maintenance is described, along with the Crown, in Book IV, Part II, Chapter 11:

“Under the Crown is a crimson cap of maintenance, which falls to the shoulders.

“The crimson cap implies concealment, and is also symbolical of the flood of glory that pours upon the Magician from above. It is of velvet for the softness of that divine kiss, and crimson for that it is the very blood of God which is its life.”

Since the texture of the cap of maintenance should be velvet, and “the cap
of maintenance must match the scarlet of the Robe,” it follows that the texture of the robe should also be velvet. See the previous entry for references to illustrations of Crowley wearing a crown with an appropriate cap of maintenance. Note that Crowley’s design for the Cap of Maintenance differs substantially from the traditional design of the Cap of Maintenance used by British royalty and in heraldry.


Eleven is a number of generally evil aspect in the traditional Qabalah, and is considered the number of the Qlippoth (shells). In Thelemic Qabalah, the number eleven takes on a number of important positive meanings. It represents the union of the five and the six, the pentagram and the hexagram, the microcosm and the macrocosm. In some systems, the hexagram is a masculine symbol and the pentagram a feminine one. Eleven is also the number of Nuit in Liber AL, the number of words in “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law” and the number of letters in the Word of the Aeon, ABRAHADABRA. See Liber 58 (The article called “Gematria” in “777 and other Qabalistic Works”) and Magick in Theory and Practice, Chapter 7. According to Agapé Lodge tradition, the Priest holds the Lance vertically upright before him with both hands, the butt end of the Lance on the floor, during the entire time the Priestess runs her hands up and down its shaft.

The Enthronement of the Priestess

“And this is that which is written: Malkuth shall be uplifted and set upon the throne of Binah.” — Liber 418, 4th Æthyr

Descending Triangle

The Priestess bears the Word within her Heart, beneath a decending triangle. In the Tantras, the Trikona is the sign of Shakti. A red triangle with one point down is also the special sign of Horus.

The Book should be held with the pages facing outward.

Compare this gesture to the Dieu Garde.

The Ficus

This gesture is depicted on the Tarot Trump “Fortune,” attributed to the Hebrew letter Kaph, “the hand.”

In Italy and other Mediterranean areas, this gesture is known as “the fig” (It. Il Fico, note that gyp enumerates to 93), where it has been used as a defense against the “evil eye” since the time of the Roman Empire, if not before. Desmond Morris, in Gestures; their Origins and Distribution, explains this usage by the fact that most Mediterraneans he interviewed understood the gesture of the fig to refer to the female organ of generation, the display of which has the power to “fascinate” or “absorb” the phallic energy of the evil eye. As such, the fig is an appropriate symbol of Babalon, Binah or Shakti.

In the manual alphabet, this gesture signifies the letter “T,” corresponding to the Tau Cross and all of its attributions.

Based on the attributions of traditional European palmistry, the thumb, index and medius are attributed to Venus, Jupiter and Saturn, respectively. Based on Golden Dawn elemental attributions, thumb, index and medius correspond to Spirit, Water and Earth, respectively. Based on Vedic/Tantric attributions, thumb, index and medius correspond to Akasha (Spirit), Vayu (Air) and Tejas (Fire), respectively. Taking these two systems together, the elemental symbolism of this gesture is Spirit between Water, Earth, Air and Fire; i.e. Spirit in the midst of all four elements: the pentagram.

The Children Replace Their Weapons

It is less disruptive to the flow of the ritual if the Children wait to replace their weapons until the Priest has kissed the Book of the Law, and has knelt in adoration.

The Kiss

During the course of the Gnostic Mass, the priest and priestess are called upon to kiss various ceremonial objects, and each other. A kiss is, first and foremost, a gesture of love and unity. It is also a gesture of sealing or possession, of indicating the establishment of an intimate personal link which will persist even after physical contact has ended. It is also a gesture of greeting and reception, and can, therefore, be used to indicate acceptance of an offering.

Also see this note.

Three Kisses

The Book of the Law has three Chapters.


This is the typical attitude of Adoration for the Priest, and is the position the Priest should take when the ritual says he “adores.”


Ptah, the ancient Creator God of Memphis. The Lance is held upright with both hands, right above left.


These circumambulations are Deosil, as this is a solar ritual. The phrase “followed by the DEACON and the children, as before” refers to when the Deacon and the Children followed the Priest as he led the Priestess to the Altar; not to the serpentine motion of the Priestess around the Temple, during which only the Children followed her.

These, when not using their hands, keep their arms crossed upon their breasts.

i.e., the Deacon and the Children.

The Attitude of Resurrection

The sign of the arms crossed upon the breast is described in Liber XV as the “Attitude of Resurrection” is known as “The Sign of Osiris Risen” in rituals associated with the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. In Masonry, it is referred to as “The Sign of the Good Shepherd.” Osiris was frequently depicted in this pose holding the crook and flail, Mithra was frequently depicted in this pose holding a lamb over his shoulders.

By implication, the Priest should also make this sign when he rises after taking his communion.

Kneeling in Adoration

At various points during the course of the Gnostic Mass, the priest and priestess are called upon to kneel or “genuflect.” The Latin word genuflecto means to “bend the knee,” i.e., to kneel. In the Roman Catholic Church, genuflection is a gesture both of adoration and of humble supplication. In the Thelemic E.G.C., it is a gesture only of ecstatic adoration.

In Part IV, the people are called upon to “kneel in adoration, their hands joined palm to palm, and raised above their heads.”  The joining of the hands, palm to palm, represents the joyful Union of Opposites; and raising the joined hands above the head symbolizes the resultant flame of illumination hovering above each person present. The figure created by this gesture is also reminiscent of the flame of Pentecost which descended on each of the disciples of יְהוֹשֻׁעַ; and of the dove which descended upon the head of Parsival. In the Hindu System, the joining of the hands palm to palm is known as the Anjali Mudra. This mudra is part of the standard form of salutation, usually coupled with the utterance of the word Namaste. It is customarily made at the level of the breast when saluting a friend or a peer; at the level of the brow when saluting a teacher, elder or other venerable personage; and raised above the head when saluting a Deity. The most straightforward interrpretation of the rubric would be that each individual joins hands above his or her own head, which is the gesture interpreted above. In some areas, however, local custom has the members of the congregation joining hands with each other over the level of their heads. To be consistent with the language of the rubric, this practice requires the participation of the Deacon and the children from their place between the font and the small altar.

The Priestess Divests

“At all my meetings with you shall the priestess say—and her eyes shall burn with desire as she stands bare and rejoicing in my secret temple—To me! To me! calling forth the flame of the hearts of all in her love-chant.”
—Liber AL I:62

The divesting of the Priestess behind the Veil, in the “secret temple” of the closed Shrine, is a very important part of the ritual, and must not be omitted. As the script states later, the Priestess may resume her robe (or her inner, white robe), if necessary, before the Veil is again opened. The Priestess’s privacy may be assured by the use of a Veil fashioned of opaque material. If possible, the Priestesses should stand to deliver her oration, in keeping with the injunction of AL I:62.

There is no God

Also see Liber CDXVIII, 7th and 5th Æthyrs; wherein it is stated that there is a slight emphasis on the word “There.”

The Rituals of the Elements and Feasts of the Times

The Rituals of the Elements are rites intended to generate particular forms of energy according to the nature, will and magical formula of each of the five elements: Fire, Earth, Air, Water, and Spirit. Four of these may be elaborated as the Feasts of the Times, held at the equinoxes and solstices of each solar year, when the sun enters into each of the four cardinal signs of the tropical zodiac attributed to the four elements of Fire (Aries – March equinox), Water (Cancer – June solstice), Air (Libra – September equinox) and Earth (Capricorn – December solstice).

The Feast for the First Night of the Prophet and His Bride

The Feast for the First Night of the Prophet and His Bride is a commemoration of the first night Crowley spent with his first wife, Rose Edith Kelly. They were married in a civil ceremony at Dingwall on August 12, 1903, although the wedding was not properly recorded until several days later. Rose later played an important role in the events surrounding the reception of The Book of the Law. 

The Feast for the First Night of the Prophet and His Bride is to be observed on August 12 of each year.

The Feast for the Three Days of the Writing of the Book of the Law

The Feast for the Three Days of the Writing of the Book of the Law is a commemoration of the anniversary the reception of the three chapters of Liber AL vel Legis in Cairo on April 8, 9 and 10, 1904. It is to be observed on April 8, 9 and 10 of each year, beginning at high noon on each day.

Children of the Prophet

This phrase is given as such in all three published versions of the Gnostic Mass; however, The Book of the Law II:39 gives “child of the Prophet.” Many groups prefer this usage in order to properly quote the Holy Book.

The Feast for the Supreme Ritual

The Feast for the Supreme Ritual, observed on March 20 of each year, is a commemoration of the anniversary of Crowley’s successful performance of the Invocation of Horus in Cairo, which brought about the opening of the New Æon. Crowley actually began the invocation ceremony around 10:00 PM on Saturday, March 19, 1904, and completed it just after midnight. The result of the invocation came during the early morning hours of Sunday, March 20, the day before the March equinox, as the announcement that the Equinox of the Gods was immanent. Interestingly, there are exactly 22 days between the Feast for the Supreme Ritual and the final day of the Feast for the Three Days of the Writing of the Book of the Law.

The Feast for the Equinox of the Gods

The Feast for the Equinox of the Gods is a commemoration of the beginning of the New Æon on March 21, 1904, or of the commencement of a new magical formula. It is celebrated within the A:.A:. at each equinox.

A Feast for Fire

A celebration of the puberty of a boy.

A Feast for Water

A celebration of the menarche of a girl.

A Feast for Life

A celebration of a birth.

A Ritual

A Greater Feast for Death

A celebration of Life on the occasion of a death.

A Ritual

By the Sign of Light ☩

The Priest may at this point, with good effect, trace a Cross before the Veil, then form a Cross with his body, as in the Sign of Light or first sign of L.V.X. from the Ritual of the Hexagram.

The Third Oration

This passage incorporates the IHShVH formula, as follows:

Make open the path of creation and of intelligence between us and our minds Yod
Enlighten our understanding Heh
Encourage our hearts Vav
Let thy light crystallize Heh final
itself in our blood, Shin
fulfilling us of Resurrection YHShVH

A Ka Dua

This is a portion of the Boulak Museum transliteration of the Stèle of Revealing. A relatively literal translation is, “O High One! May he be praised! The one great of Power! The Spirit great of Dignity, who places fear of himself among the gods!” Crowley’s poetic paraphrase of this passage is:

Unity uttermost showed!
adore the might of Thy breath,
Supreme and terrible God,
Who makest the gods and death
To tremble before thee:-
I, I adore thee!

The Priest may sing the A Ka Dua to the tune provided in Book Four, Part One, Chapter II. [A Ka Dua MIDI]

Another paraphrase occurs earlier in this passage, beginning with “uttermost being…” See also Liber CDXVIII, 2nd Æthyr.

Savage Countries

It only takes one savage among the People to make a “savage country,” and the power to assess the degree of “savagery” in the temple properly belongs solely to the Priestess. Some circumstances may require that the Priestess resume her robe, but nobody has the right to insist to her that she leave it off.

The Greek exclamation IÔ is not readily translatable into English. It is an exclamation of either joy or sorrow, and was one of the cries used to invoke Dionysus.


Greek. IAÔ SABAÔ is a name found on certain Gnostic gems associated with the Abrasax and Meithras cults. It may be a variant of IAÔ SABAÔTh (ΙΑΟ ΣΑΒΑΟΩ), which is the Hellenized version of IHVH TzBAVTh (יהוה צבאות), the “God of Armies,” and the Divine Name of Netzach in Atziluth. However, SABAÔ may also have a linguistic relationship with SABAZIOS, the name of a Phrygian deity identified with Dionysus, who is attributed to Tiphareth along with IAÔ. See also the commentary on Section J of Liber Samekh, Appendix IV of Magick in Theory and Practice.


Greek, meaning “Lord Abrasax.” ΑΒΡΑΣΑΞ = 365. Abrasax is the name given to a composite solar divinity who was depicted in a number of talismans dating from the 1st – 3rd centuries e.v. Abrasax was formerly, and erroneously, believed to have been the invention of Basilides; but was used by some Gnostics as an alternate name of the Demiurge. The number 365 corresponded to the number of days in the solar year, and thus contributed to the solar symbolism of the name.


Greek, meaning “Lord Meithras.” Μείθρας = 365. This is the solar Mithra/Perseus of the Cilician/Roman Mithraic Mysteries, not (necessarily) the ancient Iranian God of the same name. According to one theory, when the calendar was corrected by adding 5 days to the 360-day year, the proponents of the Mithraic Mysteries reinforced the solar nature of their Deity by changing the spelling of His name from Μίθρας = 360 to Μείθρας = 365.


Greek, meaning ” Lord Phallus.” Cf. CHAOS.


Greek, meaning “Oh! Pan, Oh! Pan, Pan”

Pan was the Arkadian god of flocks and shepherds, of trees, forests and wildlife, of the hot noonday stillness, and of freedom and fertility. The Pan invoked here also encompasses the Orphic conception of Pan, where Πάν is interpreted as the Greek word for “All.” Pan is thus a symbol of the Universal, and a personification of Nature, equivalent to BAPHOMET.


Greek, meaning “Oh! Mighty One, Oh! Deathless One, Oh! Invincible (lit. ‘woundless’) One.”


Greek, meaning “Hail, Phallus, hail, All-Devourer, hail, All-Begetter.”


Greek, meaning “Holy, holy, holy, IAÔ.”

Stretches his Arms

For the Priest’s arms to be “stretched” they must be fully extended and not bent at the elbow. For the Priest’s arms to be “stretched along the Priestess’s thighs” they must be adjacent to, and parallel to, the Priestess’s thighs. Clearly, the Priestess must have her knees fairly close together to allow the Priest to do this.

The Deacon Intones the Collects

To intone is to recite in a singing or chanting voice. An MP3 file of Aleister Crowley intoning the first four Collects is available here.

All Stand to Order

This direction is given again immediately before the Deacon is to intone the tenth collect: “Death.” The instruction to stand for the “Death” Collect was added by Crowley for the MTP edition of 1929/30, and should, therefore, take precedence over this direction.

The Dieu Garde

“Dieu Garde” is French for “God protect.” The corresponding term in English Freemasonry is “Due Guard,” which refers to a characteristic Sign or pose of an individual degree, which is given by positioning the hands as they were when the oath or obligation of the degree was taken.

The Collects

A “Collect” (the accent is on the second syllable) is a short prayer uttered at a gathering of worshippers, and suitable to the time or occasion. Our collects are eleven such short prayers (see previous comments on the number eleven). All eleven are traditionally read or recited at each Mass.

The Collects are an essential part of Liber XV, and there is nothing in Liber XV that would indicate that they are in any way optional. A Gnostic Mass without the Collects would be something, surely, but it would not be the Gnostic Mass according to Liber XV.

The Sun

The Sun is a concrete, natural symbol of God; partakes of many of the traditional attributes of God; and is in fact identical with God from one point of view. The earth, which includes all tangible things, including our own bodies, is composed of the same substance as the Sun. Annual and diurnal motion refers to seasonal and daily rhythms. Effulgence means glory, splendour, and power.

Let the Sun be an example to us. Sorath, סורת, the name of the Solomonic Spirit of the Sun, enumerates to 666, and the sixth Sephirah is Tiphareth. Ra, MentuOsiris, Horus, Khephra, DionysusPriapus, Attis, Adonis, Tammuz, Apollo, Serapis, AbrasaxMithraKrishna, Christ and many others are considered solar gods. Their differences depend on different aspects of the Solar Current, which embraces the concepts of sovereignty; the power of life, death and resurrection; immortality; constancy within periodicity; and civilization.

So mote it be

An MP3 file of Aleister Crowley intoning the first four Collects is available here. In the recording, Crowley sings “So mote it be” to the following notes: C sharp – B flat – C natural – C sharp.


The Lord

As the Sun is visible and sensible, the Lord Hadit is not. Kether is hidden behind Tiphareth. The Sun shines down upon all of us, the Lord shines forth from within each of us.

The Moon

Chasmodai, חשמודאי, the name of the Solomonic Spirit of the Moon, enumerates to 369. 369 = 9 X 41. The Ninth Sephirah is Yesod, attributed to the Moon. 41 is the numeration of Hebrew words meaning “fecundity,” “mother” and “Divine Majesty.” With respect to the Sun, the Moon is feminine as the “Lady of night,” as she receives the Sun’s light, or creative energy. The monthly cycle of the Moon renders her “now visible and now invisible.” Artemis (Diana) was Goddess of the Hunt as well as of the Moon. The Moon governs other nightly activities as well. The Moon has long provided an agricultural clock relied upon by farmers, and governs the tides, which are, of course, of interest to seafarers; and which are reflected in the feminine Mystery of the Tides of Blood.

The Lady

The Feminine is classically receptive, but practically creative. The office of gladness, of the joy of incarnation, is active, not passive.

The Saints

“Let him look upon the cup whose blood is mingled therein, for the wine of the cup is the blood of the saints.”
— Liber 418, 12th Æthyr

This Collect proclaims our historical current throughout its various phases. The italicized names represent the main thread of the current. These men were the keepers of the sacred flame, whether they knew it (or desired it) or not. In a personal sense, this collect represents the acknowledgment of our own magical currents, our own past lives, ancestors, teachers and heroes.

The brief portraits contained in the linked files are presented as an introduction to the lives, personalities and works of the saints of the Gnostic Catholic Church. They are not intended as detailed biographies. Some of the saints are too obscure to provide us with more than brief speculative sketches, and the biographies of others (such as Paracelsus, Bacon, Goethe, Wagner, Nietzsche, Gauguin, Burton and Crowley) occupy volumes. The emphasis herein has been placed on the significance of each saint to the transmission and development of the Thelemic Gnosis: the significance of some saints is a result of their works; of others, their life stories. In all cases, a list of the references used to prepare these portraits has been furnished for those who wish to investigate the saints more fully. Sainthood, in the context of Thelema, should not be confused with common notions or conventional western theological conceptions regarding sainthood. There are several distinct notions of sainthood in Crowley’s writings. In Liber Astarte, Crowley gives an implicit definition of a Saint as one who has perfected his or her devotion to his or her deity. As examples, he gives Saint Francis of Assisi, Sri Sabhapaty Swami, Abdullah Haji Shirazi and Saint Ignatius Loyola. In Liber 418, the Vision and the Voice, particularly in the 12th Æthyr, Crowley relates Sainthood specifically to the degree of Magister Templi; the Saint is one who has perfected his devotion to Babalon (Binah). While not actually mentioning Sainthood, The Book of Lies, Liber Aleph, and The Heart of the Master all provide lists of those considered by Crowley to have served as Great World Initiators, Magistri Templi and Magi of the Great White Brotherhood of the Silver Star, sent to enlighten civilization and initiate historic periods. Chapter 7 of The Book of Lies gives the following list of those identified as Magistri Templi: Lao-tzu, Siddhartha, Krishna, Tahuti, Mosheh, Dionysus and Mahmud. Chapters 68-74 of Liber Aleph give this list of Magi: Lao-tze, Gautama, Krishna, Dionysus, Tahuti, Mosheh and Mohammed. The Heart of the Master, in the section titled “The Initiation,” gives these: Fu-Hsi, Lao-Tze, Gautama, Zerdusht (Zarathustra), Pythagoras, Dionysus, Osiris, Apollon (Apollonius of Tyana), Plotinus, Jacobus Burgundis Molensis, Mohammed, Sir Edward Kelly and Christian Rosenkreutz. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky is also identified as a Sister of the Great White Brotherhood.

The Fifth Collect in Part V of Liber XV, the Gnostic Mass, defines the Saints as those who have adored the “Lord of Life and Joy,” which is “the might of man” and “the essence of every true god that is upon the surface of the Earth,” and who have manifested the glory of this Lord/might/essence unto men. This definition is a somewhat broader one than that set forth in The Vision and the Voice. Thus, while the list begins with a roster of the Magi, similar to the lists provided in The Book of Lies, Liber Aleph, and The Heart of the Master, it continues with a list of solar-phallic gods and mythical heroes, followed by a list of poets, Gnostics, figures from the Grail mythos, medieval conquerors, reformers and opponents of Papal oppression, Alchemists, Mystics, Magicians and Rosicrucians, and those associated with the founding of the O.T.O. and E.G.C. A very similar list, identifying the ancient and modern “Chiefs” of the O.T.O., is set forth in Book 52, Manifesto of the O.T.O. The list contains 22 italicized names, and (excluding the recently-added William Blake) 70 names total. The conspicuous lack of women’s names in this list has resulted in considerable controversy. The use of the words “sons” and “paternal” in the closing of this Collect is a clear indication that the lack of female names in this list was not an oversight on Crowley’s part, and that he intended this list to be a list of men. The reason for this is not certain, though it has been the topic of considerable speculation. There is some evidence that O.T.O. policy at the time Liber XV was written forbade the divulging of the names of female members (see Book 52, Manifesto of the O.T.O. , where the list of ancient and modern “Chiefs” of the O.T.O. concludes with the statement, “The names of women members are nver divulged.”). Some believe that the invocation of the Saints of Liber XV was intended to inform the office of the Priest in his role as a male adorant of the Priestess in her role as Goddess incarnate. In his address to the Women’s Conference in 1996 (see The Magical Link, Fall 1997 e.v.), the Patriarch Hymenaeus Beta described the Gnostic Mass as a “celebration of the sexual polarities and their cosmic and natural interplay” from a male perspective, having been written by a man. With regard to the list of Saints, he said,

“It is a list of the small handful of men and man-gods who, in the opinion of the author of the Mass, understood the divinity of woman. […] Someday, perhaps not soon, but who knows, a woman adept of the Sovereign Sanctuary will manifest the genius to compose a Mass in which the female takes the more active role, and the male the more passive (as with siva and sakti in Hinduism) — in which the Deacon, speaking for the Priestess, can claim communion with the women in history that have perceived the divinity of man.”

William Blake

The name William Blake was added to the list by Patriarch Hymenaeus Beta in the Fall of 1997 e.v., based on Crowley’s essay “William Blake,” published in Oriflamme 2, Ordo Templi Orientis, 1998 e.v.

The Earth

This Collect may be viewed as the feminine counterpart to the masculine Saints. Mother Earth is the source of life, on whose surface cling the oceans and the atmosphere, and whose molten center radiates heat from within, as the Sun radiates heat and light from above. Pastors are shepherds, and husbandmen are animal-tenders.

The Principles

This is the last of the seven Universal Collects. They can be grouped as follows: The Sun and The Lord = Yod; The Moon and The Lady = Heh; The Saints = Vav; The Earth and The Principles = Heh final, with the traditional associations. When taken in context with the symbolic correspondences between the following Collects and the O.T.O. Man of Earth degrees, this Collect may be viewed as symbolizing the 0°.


The three Gunas—Sattva, Rajas, Tamas; the three Alchemical Principles—Mercury, Sulfur and Salt.


The four elements.


The seven planets. The twelve signs of the zodiac are combinations of the three principles and the four elements, the ten Sephiroth are the seven planets added to the three Principles– in fact, all thirty-two paths are constituted by the Three, the Four, and the Seven.


This is the first of the four Occasional Collects. They may be attributed to the letters of Tetragrammaton, as the Universal Collects, or to the letters of the word AUMGN, to the I°, II°, III° and IV° of O.T.O., etc.


This Collect refers to unions between one person and another, but also to other unions, such as with an action, a desire, or an idea.

Death and The End

The tenth and eleventh Collects are adaptations of a passage from the Golden Dawn Requiem ceremony:

“Term of all that liveth, whose name is Death and inscrutable, be thou favorable unto us in thine hour. And unto him, from whose mortal eyes the veil of physical life hath fallen, grant that there may be the accomplishment of his True Will. Should he will absorption in the Infinite, or to be united with his chosen and preferred, or to be in contemplation, or to be at peace, or to achieve the labour and heroism of incarnation on this planet or another or in any star, or aught else, unto him may there be granted the accomplishment of his true will.”

(Regardie, The Golden Dawn, Book 6)

The DEACON and the children attend the PRIEST and PRIESTESS

The Deacon goes to the Altar with the Priest, the children remain below.

[The PRIESTESS picks up the Cup and Paten.]

The Cup must be in her right hand and the paten in her left, for the Priest’s crosses to form a Pentagram.

The PRIEST makes the five crosses.

This may be done by making the first three crosses in a vertical plane above both the paten and cup, and the final two crosses in a horizontal plane above the paten and cup, respectively. The crosses and other actions performed at the Altar can be difficult for the people to see. The Priest and Priestess should endeavor to make their gestures in such a way that at least part of the congregation will be able to follow their actions. According to Agapé Lodge tradition, the Priest makes the crosses with the right hand while holding the Lance in the left.

Also see this note.


Greek, meaning “This is my Body.”

Paten and Host

When the Host is being handled after it has been consecrated, it has been my personal practice for many years to hold the Paten beneath it in order to catch any consecrated crumbs which may fall. However, many follow the rubric exactly as stated.

He takes the Cup.

The identical instruction is given again shortly, without the priest having had any opportunity to relinquish the Cup. Also, since the priest is holding the Lance, but not the Host, when he delivers the parallel line, “Life of man upon earth…”, it is my opinion (not universally shared) that this stage direction is erroneous, and that the priest should, at this point, take the Lance, not the Cup.


Greek, meaning “This is the Cup of my Blood.” Comments: These are the same words, in Greek, as the Latin words used in the Mass of the Roman Catholic Church.

The Covenant of Resurrection

This line corresponds to the prayer Unde et memores in the Roman Catholic Mass.

True Warrants

This line corresponds to the Supra quæ.


This corresponds to the Supplices.

“ON is an Arcanum of Arcana; its significance is taught, gradually in the O.T.O.” —From Magick in Theory and Practice, a footnote in Section G of Liber Samekh.

Essentially Present

They were invoked by the Deacon in the Collects.

He Elevates the Host and the Cup

The Host must be held directly above the Cup. According to Forlong, the Mass should be celebrated in the morning hours, and, ideally, the elevation of the host should be timed to occur precisely at mid-day.

The Bell Strikes

See Book 4, Part II, Chapter 14. The rubric does not specify who strikes the bell, but common practice has the Deacon striking it; even though the Deacon is typically holding the Lance at this point.


Greek, meaning “Holy, holy, holy IAÔ”. These words are equivalent to the Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus Dominus Deus Sabaoth of the Roman Catholic Mass, and to the Qadosh, Qadosh, Qadosh l’IHVH Tzabaoth of the ancient Hebrew Temple Service.

The Canon

This is the end of the Canon of the Mass.

The Anthem

This Anthem was taken from “The Ship,” a play written by Crowley which represents, in allegorical form, the legend of the Third Degree of Masonry. It was published in 1913, the year of its writing, in the Equinox, Vol. I, No. 10. “The Ship” bears the dedication: “To Theodor Reuss.”

Between the end of Part VI and before the beginning of Part VIII, the Priest must take his Lance from the Deacon and stand up. I take the Lance before beginning the Anthem, and stand up with the words, “Thee I invoke…” After returning the Lance to the Priest, the Deacon may resume his station between the small altar and the font. The Priestess will henceforth be able to hold the Lance for the Priest as needed.

Frater H.K. 1131, the Grand Organist for the U.S. Grand Lodge of O.T.O., has composed a musical setting for this anthem. The sheet music is available as a PDF file here. Richard Kaczynski has rendered this music as a MIDI file, which is available here.

The Reed

Prometheus is said to have brought fire to mankind, having stolen it from the Sun and brought it to Earth in a hollow reed.

Blessing of the Elements

This passage incorporates symbolism of the Seven Planets, as follows:

Health: Mercury (Aesculapius)
Wealth: Jupiter
Strength: Mars
Joy: Venus
Peace: Saturn
and that fulfillment of will: Sol
and of love under will: Luna
that is perpetual happiness: Earth

He breaks off a Particle

Called the particula.


Greek, meaning: “This is my Seed. The Father is the Son through the Holy Spirit.”

The Commixto

The Host represents the Grain of Ceres, which was the Child as well as the Sun. The wine is that of Bacchus, the Holy Spirit of Ecstasy. The Particle plunged into the Wine represents the Union of Hadit and Nuit, the dissolution of the King, the “Baptism of Wisdom,” and the casting of the last drop of blood into the Cup of Babalon. It is both the process of incarnation and of illumination.


This word is unique to Thelema. It comes from a song contained in the 2nd Æthyr of Liber XXX Aerum vel Sæculi sub figura CDXVIII, The Vision and the Voice. The song is written in a magical language called “Bathyllic,” or “the language of the Sappho-Calypso Angel,” and is as follows:

“Omari tessala marax,
tessala dodi phornepax.
amri radara poliax
armana piliu.
amri radara piliu son’;
mari narya barbiton
madara anaphax sarpedon
andala hriliu.”


“I am the harlot that shaketh Death.
This shaking giveth the Peace of Satiate Lust.
Immortality jetteth from my skull,
And music from my vulva.
Immortality jetteth from my vulva also,
For my Whoredom is a sweet scent like a seven-stringed instrument,
Played unto God the Invisible, the all-ruler,
That goeth along giving the shrill scream of orgasm.”

In The Heart of the Master, HRILIU is represented as “The Voice of the Dove,” attributed to Netzach: “there is nothing too small, or too great, or too low, or too high; but all things are joined into Joy by the Love of the Master.” The word is also used in Chapter 24 of The Book of Lies: “The Hawk and the Blindworm.”

Striking the Breast

This gesture is used in the Roman Catholic Church to signify either grief, penitence or fellowship. It is given in threes when it accompanies the following passages in the Roman Catholic Mass:

  1. Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. (Through my fault, through my fault, through my own grievous fault.)”
  2. Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi: miserere nobis.Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi: miserere nobis.Agnus Dei, qui tollis eccata mundi: dona nobis pacem.(Lamb of God, that taketh away the sins of the orld, have mercy on us. amb of God, that taketh away the sins of the world, have mercy on us. Lamb of God, that taketh away the sins of the world, grant us peace.)”
  3. Domine, non sum dignus ut intres sub tectum meum: sed tantum dic verbo, et sanabitur anima mea. (Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldst enter beneath my roof, but say only the word, and my soul will be healed.)” (Repeated thrice.)

It is given once singly, before the following passage:

Nobis quoque peccatoribus famulis tuis, de multitudine miserationum tuarum sperantibus, partem aliquam et societatem donare digneris, cum tuis sanctis Apostolis et Martyribus: cum Joane, Stephano,  etc. (To us also, thy sinful servants, who put our trust in thy countless acts of mercy, deign to grant some share and fellowship with thy holy apostles and martyrs: with John, Stephen, etc.)”

As a gesture of grief, it symbolizes pain in the heart; as a gesture of penitence, it symbolizes self-denial; as a gesture of fellowship it symbolizes the bond of brotherly love. Of these three traditional interpretations, only the symbolism of fellowship is pertinent when this gesture is used in the Gnostic Mass.

In the Gnostic Mass, striking the breast occurs in two instances. In the first instance, the Priest strikes his breast, once– just before addressing the Saints– whose Essence has already been invoked by the Deacon. In this instance, striking the breast symbolizes fidelity and fellowship with the Saints. The symbolism of fidelity and fellowship is reinforced and extended when all present repeat the gesture, encompassing the entire congregation in the fellowship of Saints.

In the second instance, the Priest strikes his breast, evidently thrice, while invoking the Lion and Serpent prior to communion. This time, the people of the congregation do not repeat the gesture.

In this instance, the striking of the breast does not symbolize fidelity and fellowship; neither does it symbolize grief or penitence or self-denial, as it does in the Roman Catholic Mass. At this point in the Gnostic Mass, it symbolizes the opening of the heart to receive (or emit) the influence of a particular force being invoked: the force of Baphomet, the Lion and Serpent “that destroy the destroyer,” the dialectic union of opposites that conquers death.

In the Roman Catholic Mass, striking of the breast is always performed by gently tapping the breastbone with the tips of the fingers of the right hand, as a gesture of self-denial and humble supplication. Since our purpose is to celebrate our fidelity and to invoke the Lion-Serpent of the Anâhata Chakra, it is permissible to use more vigor when striking the breast in the Gnostic Mass. Personally, I give myself a solid, audible thump with my right fist for the Saints, and with both fists together, simultaneously, for the Lion and Serpent.

Also see this note.

The Epiklesis

The Epiklesis, (also spelled Epiclesis) which is found in the Orthodox liturgy but is absent from the Roman Catholic liturgy, is an invocation of the Holy Spirit over the Elements and the Congregation. It begins with these words:

“Moreover, we offer You this spiritual and unbloody sacrifice, and we ask, pray and entreat You, to send down Your Holy Spirit upon us, and upon these gifts here offered.”

This passage of the Gnostic Mass also corresponds structurally to the “Agnus Dei” of the Roman Catholic Mass.

The Lion and the Serpent

The Elements being conjoined within the Cup, the Lion andSerpent are called to manifest therein. The Lion is Meithras , the Serpent is Abrasax. Together, they become Chnoubis, the Agathodaimon, the Great Magical Agent: Azoth, Baphomet, Kundalinî, Shakti. The Destroyer is that which imposes limitations. That which destroys the Destroyer is Babalon, ecstasy of experience.

There is no Part of Me that is not of the Gods

This line comes from the Golden Dawn Adeptus Minor ritual, the Rose Cross degree. It was obtained originally from a line from Chapter 42 (on plate 32) of the Egyptian Book of the Dead,

En aat am-a shu-t em neter,

rendered in modern translations as “there is no member of mine devoid of a God.”

The following is an extract from Crowley’s “Not the Life and Adventures of Sir Roger Bloxam”:

See you not how even our dreams, our wishes, all that we are, dates back to hidden ancestor-work? Only the Freudians go not far enough; the glowing seed that made my mind so brilliant had its origin in the Father of all brilliance, Our Lord the Sun. Thus once again, by yet another path, we reach the brave “There is no part of me which is not of the Gods.” Rejoice, o brothers, we are altogether of the divine substance. We neither think, nor feel, nor perceive, nor are, any other thing than that all-bounteous, all-beautiful One, that Lord in his splendour and his ecstasy that cometh and goeth in his chariot upon high, giving light and praise, yet neither moveth nor uttereth any Voice! For there is nothing in the Universe that is not of that Unity – rejoice! rejoice! All paths are spectra, in the prism of consciousness, of that One Light…

The rubric does not call for any response to this declaration from the People. According to Agapé Lodge tradition, the communicant faces the Priestess while speaking these words.

A Whole Goblet of Wine

The words “whole goblet” are a clear indication that each communicant is to receive a full portion of wine rather than a sip from a communal cup. Further, the rubric’s use of the word “goblet” is significant — this is the only place in Liber XV where the word “goblet” is used. The vessel from which the Priest drank his consecrated wine is consistently referred to throughout Liber XV as either “the Cup” or “the Graal” or “the Holy Graal.” It is clear that the intention was notto have each communicant drink from the same Cup from which the Priest drank. It is also clear that the wine contained in the individual communicants’ goblets is not consecrated wine poured into them from the Priest’s Cup, because the Priest has “drained” that Cup during his communion. Therefore, each communicant should be provided with his or her own individual goblet of wine. At Agapé Lodge, the individual goblets were placed on a tray which was placed on the right side of the Altar. The individual goblets of wine may be poured in advance, or at the time of communion, from any appropriate vessel.

Some have argued that the People should communicate from the same Cup as did the Priest in order to effect a Magical Link between the officers and the People; or in order to assure that the People receive the effect of the consecration of the Priest’s wine. However, the rubric is clear. Furthermore, the Cakes of Light and the wine received by the People remain, despite such efforts, fundamentally different from those consumed by the Priest. The Cakes of Light consumed by the People are whole, not broken, their wine does not contain the Particula, and their Cakes and wine were treated very differently than those of the Priest during the course of the ceremony.

The actual mechanism by which the Miracle of the Mass is effected is declared in the Creed: “…and, forasmuch as meat and drink are transmuted in us daily into spiritual substance, I believe in the Miracle of the Mass.” It is the internal Alchemy of each individual communicant which ultimately effects the transmutation of the Elements they consume — informed and inspired by that Miracle performed by the officers of the ceremony, but not entirely dependent upon it. If the communicants were to wholly rely on the Priest and Priestess to perform, vicariously, the Miracle of the Mass for them, it would be a contradiction of the very words spoken during their own communion: “There is no part of me that is not of the Gods.”

The People Communicate

The words “the PEOPLE communicate as did the PRIEST&quot are sometimes interpreted to mean that the People, during their communion, should attempt to imitate, as much as possible, the actions performed by the Priest during his communion. However, the communion of the People and the communion of the Priest are, in reality, two very different gestures.

As we have already seen, the Elements received by the People are qualitatively different from those received by the Priest. They are also received, according to the rubric, from the hands of the Children rather than directly from the hands of the Priestess (and further, according to Agapé Lodge tradition, the People remain below, at the foot of the steps, during their communion). In reality, it is simply impossible for the People to communicate exactly as did the Priest, and any attempt to imitate the communion of the Priest must inevitably fall far short. Therefore, the phrase “the PEOPLE communicate as did the PRIEST&quot cannot mean that the People communicate in exactly the same way the Priest communicated. So what does it mean, then?

Perhaps this will become clearer if the quote is given in its full context:

The PEOPLE communicate as did the PRIEST, uttering the same words in an attitude of Resurrection: “There is no part of me that is not of the Gods.”

Thus, taken in its entirety, the passage is actually quite precise. The task of the communicant is simply to consume the Elements offered by the Children and then to utter the specified words in an attitude of Resurrection — as did the PRIEST. Any additional actions performed, or words uttered, during communion, are superfluous.

Agapé Lodge tradition, according to Soror Meral, had each communicant remain at the foot of the three steps, consume the Elements in silence, and remain facing the Priestess while uttering the prescribed words in the Attitude of Resurrection. The Priest stood off to the side of the Dais. [NOTE] The communicant then quietly took his or her seat, without any response or comment from the People.

The obvious question, then, is this: if the Priest faced the congregation during his communion utterance, why did Agape Lodge have the People face the Priestess during theirs? One potential explanation is that the Priest’s stated duty is to Administer the Virtues to the Brethren. It is he who must announce to the People that the Work of the Mass has been successfully accomplished, and that they may now partake of the Sacrament prepared for them. It is he who must ritually inform them of the words that must be spoken at communion; just as the Deacon ritually led them in giving the approrpiate signs. When the Priest makes his communion utterance while facing the People, he is, in fact, discharging these duties. Once discharged, these particular duties do not need to be performed again until the next Mass.

Today, the direction each communicant faces during his or her utterance is largely governed by local tradition (as well as by the physical position taken by the Priest). Facing the Priestess for the utterance can be viewed as an essentially mystical act, a personal experience of union with the Divine; with the utterance representing a realization of the Moment of Unity, with no consciousness of separate individuality. Facing the People for the utterance can be viewed as an essentially political act, a public apotheosis, with the utterance representing a proclamation and affirmation of personal divinity as expressed by separate individuality. There is meaning to be found in both customs, and local bodies should be prepared to accommodate communicants who wish to take communion either way. In turn, while attending Gnostic Mass in different areas, communicants should be sensitive to local custom. Which ever direction the communicant faces for the utterance, though, he or she should, in our opinion, and in keeping with Agapé Lodge tradition, remain at the foot of the steps throughout.

He Goes Out

The virtues having been administered to the Brethren, the Priest has now nothing to do but return to whence he came. The Deacon and children follow him into the tomb of the West, as clearly stated in the rubric. This requires that the tomb either be of sufficient size to accommodate four people, or that it have a false back allowing the Priest, Deacon and children to pass into a hidden space behind the tomb. Photographs of the tomb used at Agapé Lodge reveal a tomb of the “upright coffin” design that would definitely not accommodate four people. However, as mentioned previously, the children were omitted from celebrations of the Gnostic Mass at Agapé Lodge.

The End

The Ceremony being over, the People should leave the Temple promptly and silently, while the music is still playing. They may then re-group for an informal reception.

Other Officers Never Partake

In an obvious symbolic sense, the interaction of the Priest and Priestess symbolizes the interaction of a man and a woman. However, in another sense, the officers represent different aspects of every man and woman; with the Priest representing the individual, mortal, physical aspect of the human being. The Priest is the only officer who is symbolically born, lives, and dies during the course of the ritual. In this sense, the other officers can be seen to represent specific aspects of the human being that do not require physical nourishment, except as provided indirectly by the Priest.

Certain Secret Formulae

Some commentators have alleged that these Certain Secret Formulae are none other than the secrets of the Ninth Degree O.T.O. Obviously, this cannot be the case if the Priest being ordained is not an initiate of the Ninth Degree of O.T.O. However, certain secret formulae of this Mass are set forth in certain of the essays herein.

The Position of the Priest

The rubric gives no direction regarding where the Priest stands during the communion of the People. At Agape Lodge, the Priest stood off to the side of the High Altar during the communion of the People. I have, for many years, preferred to descend and stand between the Tomb and the Font during their Communion. This aligns the Priest, the Deacon, the Communicant and the Priestess along the centerline of the Temple. However, more recently, I have discovered that remaining in the same spot on the dais creates a similar alignment (Deacon, Communicant, Priest, Preistess); and further, since the rubric gives no direction for the Priest to move after his communion, the simplest interpretation of the rubric is that he does not move. If the High Altar is actually 44 inches in height in accordance with the specifications herein, then the face of the Priestess is likely to be visible above the head of the Priest and below the Stele. Here, then, is a very practical rationale for constructing the High Altar in accordance with Crowley’s specifications.

Gestures Referring to Parts of the Body

Some of the gestures used in the Gnostic Mass are sometimes made with reference to specific parts of the human body. Knowledge of the symbolic attributions of the parts of the body is useful in elucidating the significance of such gestures. The parts of the body are, of course, associated with the Tantric Chakras, but they may also be associated with the Signs of the Zodiac (traditional attributions of Western medical astrology), the Sephiroth of the Tree of Life (by the “Adam Qadmon” model), and certain Hebrew letters (by the meanings of their names), as follows:

Parts of the Body Chakras Zodiacal Signs Sephiroth Hebrew Letters
Hair Ain Soph
Top of head Sahasrâra Aries Kether Qoph
Head Supernals Qoph, Resh
Forehead Âjñâ Chokhmah & Binah Resh
Face Resh
Eyes Ayin
Mouth Peh
Neck, throat Vishuddha Taurus Da’ath
Shoulders Gemini Chesed & Geburah
Upper arms
Chest, breasts Cancer Tiphareth
Elbows Chesed & Geburah
Heart Anâhata Leo Tiphareth, Binah
Upper back Tiphareth
Forearms, wrists Chesed & Geburah
Abdomen Manipura Virgo Tiphareth
Hands Chesed & Geburah Yod, Kaph
Lower back Manipura Libra Tiphareth
Buttocks Yesod
Genitals, sacrum Svâdisthâna Scorpio
Base of spine Mulâdhâra Malkuth, Binah
Hips, thighs Sagittarius Netzach & Hod
Knees Capricorn
Lower legs, ankles Aquarius
Feet Pisces Malkuth


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  • Jung, C.G.; “Transformation Symbolism in the Mass” in Psyche & Symbol, V.L. de Laszlo, ed., Doubleday, New York, 1958
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  • Thompson, Bard; Liturgies of the Western Church, The World Publishing Company, NY 1961

Original Publication Date: 1995
Updated: 2019