The Candidate is led into a room. The room(1) contains a smiling sun, an erect cock, the word “BABALON,” gibberish hieroglyphics, a well, a goat’s head, an eye in a triangle, a rosy cross, a shh!, a baby riding a crocodile, pouting labia in a lotus, a baby sucking a tit, a flame, hippie incense. Also an indeterminate number of people: members of the Lodge, each one is dressed in a funky Op Art black and white robe, hooded. The Candidate smells and hears and feels this but sees none of it, the Candidate is blindfolded.
A male voice announces: “Let it be known that there exists, unsuspected by the great crowd, a very ancient Order whose object is the spiritual evolution of mankind by means of conquering falsehood and fear. This Order has existed from the most remote times and has manifested its activity secretly and openly in the world under different names and in various forms: it has caused social and political revolutions, it has been the rock of salvation in times of danger and misfortune, it has always upheld the banner of freedom against every form of tyranny.
“To this Order belongs every wise man and wise woman by virtue of their nature: because you are all One in purpose; you walk united under the guidance of the singular light of truth. Into this Sacred Society no man or woman may be admitted unless they enter it themselves by virtue of their inner illumination; nor may any man or woman be expelled from the Order unless they expel themselves, by becoming unfaithful to their principles, neglecting to tend the Garden of Existence.
“You already know this.”
Other voices join in, the robed and hooded figures: “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law!” “Do what thou wilt,” contradicts another, “is the whole of the Law.” More: “Love is the Law!” “Love under will!” “The King is dead!” “Long live the King!” One of them approaches the Candidate, rests a hand on his shoulder and speaks into his unseeing face: “You are to be devoted, this night, to the Mystery; you must first prove your worthiness. Tell us: how were you prepared to be consecrated a Magician?”
The Candidate answers: “I obtained the four powers of the Sphinx.”
“To know, to will, to dare, and…”
A silence: the hooded men weigh the silence and judge it to be acceptable. The questioning continues: “Do you pledge your might as a Magician that you will steadily persevere through the ceremony of Devotion?”
“Today, if you survive the four Ordeals, you will be taught a word, a Magic Word. Do you swear under pain of death to conceal and never reveal this Word?”
“Good.” The questioning continues: “Tell us, what rites do we that are Magicians celebrate in this Secret Place?”
“I don’t know.”
The Lodge-members applaud his admission of ignorance, the first among virtues. Then they tell him: “We are met to commemorate the death of Mansur al-Hallaj, an initiate of our Order who had come into full comprehension of his nature: he announced one day, in a Baghdad market-place(2), ‘I am the Truth!’ For that he spent eleven years in prison before being executed; they cut him to pieces and he smiled the whole time, ‘I am the Truth!’”
The Candidate exclaims: “If you meet Muhammad on the road, kill him!”
The Lodge-members pick up stones and stone the Candidate to death, he is dead and in his place is Mansur al-Hallaj, close to death himself, the Baghdad mob hacks at his legs with knives but he responds: “I used to walk the Earth with these legs but now there’s just one step to Heaven, cut that if you can!” and al-Hallaj too must die but:
Where is his body? The Lodge-members, standing by the well, divide themselves into four groups and each proceeds to a cardinal point of the compass.
The first of four groups journeys to the west and quotes Proclus (“God is a spiral force”) and gets arrested for blasphemy, Nasruddin offers the authorities a deal(3): “Postpone the execution one year,” he implores the Caliph, “and I will teach your horse to fly.” Intrigued by this, the Caliph agrees.
One day thereafter, a fellow inmate asks Nasruddin if he really thought he could escape death by this manoeuvre.
“Why not?” responds Nasruddin who has turned into Timothy Leary, writing “The Spin Of The Person” behind bars. “A lot can happen in a year. There might be a revolution and a new government. There might be a foreign invasion and we’d all be living under a new ruler. Then again, the present Caliph might die of natural causes, or somebody in the palace might poison him. As you know, it is traditional for a new Caliph to pardon all condemned criminals awaiting execution when he takes the throne. Besides that, during the year my captors will have many opportunities for carelessness and I will always be looking for an opportunity to escape. And,” Leary concludes, “if all else fails, maybe I can teach the damned horse to fly!”
SPIN! The second of four groups heads east, and Rumi, dancing in slow circles, reflects: “From al-Hallaj I learnt to hunt lions, but I became something hungrier than a lion.” Rumi, who has turned into George Gurdjieff, founds the Whirling Dervishes, they spin as they say: “It’s easy to teach a horse to fly. All I need is a sharp sword and a strong arm; and if I tell you my horse can fly you’d better believe my horse can fly. The question is, what do you do next? Some bow down before that horse, waiting for the blessed day when they too will get to see it in its levitations; others seek to work in the stables that they too might acquire their own sharp sword to wield; others write verses celebrating the horse and the water it drinks and the grass it walks on and the women who ride it; others go further, some go too far: “WE ARE ALL HIS HORSE, WE CAN ALL FLY!”
SPIN! The third of four groups wanders north and, wondering, Why is there war? they war, the Cross against the Crescent, brothers slay brothers over who their Dad-God likes best. But not all the men fight: in Jerusalem the Templars receive from Saladin a Word, he tells them: “If you know and understand this Word you will indeed say ‘Oh death, where is thy sting? Oh grave, where is thy victory?’ not merely with triumph but with contempt, such as may have been felt by a faithful knight who, dressed in the armour of his monarch, was slain in mistake for him.” A smiling Jacques de Molay burns to death: “Anyone who ever laughs in the face of authority is an echo of me, I am an echo of you; the jokes vary but the laughter is the same.”
SPIN! The fourth of four groups finds themselves being initiated by Hassan-i Sabbah into the Order of Assassins(4): the Lodge-members are dosed with hashish and showered with sex, solemnly-slowly they speak: “I have found God and,” tapping their own heads, “He is here!” Hassan-i Sabbah is now Aleister Crowley, in the room in the Lodge with the rest of the Holy Order, still in their robes but having failed to find al-Hallaj’s body, Crowley intones: “Roll Away The Stone.” “The star,” adds Kenneth Grant, “is Sirius,” and Muhammad receives his revelations, chapter fifty-three of the Koran, verses 43-49: “He it is who makes joy and sadness; He it is who gives death and life; He creates the male and the female; He enriches and contents; He is the Lord of Sirius.”
Al-Hallaj, giggling, dies.
The Candidate! He has been stabbed to death, stoned to death, burnt at the stake, drowned down a well, he can’t stop laughing as his Brothers and Sisters in the Lodge lift him up out of that well, they whisper a Word into his ear: a Magic Word: our Word that is no words that is some words that is one word that is all words. “What does WoMan want?!” chortles Leary.
The Candidate, drenched, no longer blindfolded, shouts out: “I AM THE TRUTH AND THERE IS NOTHING UNDER MY CLOTHES THAT IS NOT GOD!”
(1) The following scenario comes from “The Secret Rituals Of The O.T.O.” ed. Francis King, 1973. The “room full of holy images before whose glory the powers of darkness tremble every day” is described on p.143. The “Let it be known…” speech is quoted on p.6, it’s the opening of Theodore Reuss’s initial O.T.O. manifesto. From “Do what thou wilt…” onwards is the Third Degree O.T.O. ritual, p.57-70.
(3) Sufi parable quoted in “Ten Good Reasons To Get Out Of Bed In The Morning” in “The Illuminati Papers,” Robert Anton Wilson.
(4) From Chapter 4 of “Prometheus Rising,” Robert Anton Wilson.