Observations on Liber OZ
—Magick Without Tears, Chapter 72
Aleister Crowley wrote Liber OZ in 1941 for Louis Wilkinson (AKA Louis Marlow), based on a degree lecture he had written around 1916. His original name for it was “The Book of the Goat,” and he considered it as a sort of manifesto for O.T.O. In a letter to G.J. Yorke on Aug. 30, 1941, he described it as the “O.T.O. Plan in words of one syllable,” and in a following letter, dated Sept. 13, 1941, he wrote, “Rights of Man is an historical document. The items don’t go easily on the Tree; but I’ve got them down to five sections: moral, bodily, mental, sexual freedom, and the safefuard tyrannicide .. 160 words in all.”
The Hebrew word OZ conveys a number of meanings. Pronounced owes, it means “strength.” Pronounced ezz, it means “a she-goat.” Pronounced ahs, it means “strong, mighty”; but if held a bit longer, it means “to take refuge.” The letters Ayin Zayin add to 77, which number also includes such words as BOH, “prayed”; and MZL, “The Influence from Kether,” more commonly translated as “luck.”
Those of us who accept this remarkably simple and poetic statement of the natural rights of Humankind should contemplate it deeply and frequently, for it is both our strength and our refuge; and, if our prayers are fervent, and our luck holds out, it might not knock us on our butts. The Four Powers of the Sphinx may aid us in this. The following caveats may also be of use to some.
- Liber Oz applies to all men and women. When you accept Liber Oz, you lay claim to these rights as your own; but you also acknowledge that they belong to every other man and woman as well, not just you, not just Thelemites. “Every man and every woman is a star.” Thus, in accepting Liber Oz, we agree not to infringe upon the rights of others (although we are not necessarily bound to cooperate with every person’s exercise of these rights). Crowley states in Chapter 49 of Magick Without Tears that “to violate the rights of another is to forfeit one’s own claim to protection in the matter involved.” If you deny the rights of another, you have denied the very existence of those rights; and they are lost to you. You cannot possess a right which you deny to others. Also, while one may possess the right to “to love as he will,” it may not be the will of the object of that love to participate. Liber Oz does not justify rape.
- Liber Oz makes no guarantees. (A) Liber Oz does not grant us the power or the ability to exercise any of the rights it enumerates. A man may have the right “to draw, paint, carve, etch, mould, build as he will,” but Liber Oz will not buy him the art supplies, or grant him talent if he lacks it. He may, indeed, have the right “to drink what he will,” but Liber Oz does not give him the ability to safely drive a car, operate machinery, or perform ritual while drunk. (B) Liber Oz does not provide shelter from the consequences and repercussions of the exercise of our natural rights. A man’s right to “to rest as he will,” does not safeguard him against losing his livelihood; his right “to eat what he will” does not immunize him against poisoning or obesity; his right to “speak what he will” does not shelter him from criticism, ridicule, lawsuit, or the loss of friendship; his right “to love as he will” does not exempt him from paternity; and his right “to kill those who would thwart these rights” does not protect him from retribution, imprisonment, or execution. (C) Liber Oz provides no assurance that the exercise of any natural right will result in success, happiness, fulfillment, satisfaction, or any other “positive” outcome.
- Liber Oz does not free us from our obligations. Liber Oz does not justify lying, or failure to live up to our promises, agreements and responsibilities.
With these caveats in mind, enjoy your rights. Exercise them in your quest to discover your True Will and accomplish it. When necessary, fight for your rights, and for the rights of all men and women.
Updated: 2001 e.v.