The Book of the Law

Aleister Crowley’s Bible for the Thelemites

Joshua Hehe


In 1904, a rather infamous occultist named Aleister Crowley founded the religion of Thelema, and it has been propagated by his followers ever since. As part of that, the central text of their faith is The Book of the Law, more properly known as Liber AL vel Legis sub figura CCXX as delivered by XCIII = 418 to DCLXVI. It is, without a doubt, one of the most unusual books that I’ve ever read. There’s even an amazing comment at the end of it, better than in any magical grimoire or rare esoteric tome in any library on Earth.

As the story goes, the masterfully channeled volume proclaimed the arrival of the Aeon of Horus, the age of the Crowned and Conquering Child — marking the end of the Aeon of Osiris. This was because, up until that time, Crowley claimed that the history of the world had been divided into two eons: the matriarchal Aeon of Isis and then the patriarchal Aeon of Osiris.

It all began in early 20th century Cairo, Egypt, where Aleister Crowley was contacted by a disembodied voice identifying itself as Aiwass, minister of Ra-Hoor-Khuit, the lord of the New Aeon. Aiwass instructed Crowley to be prepared to write down everything he would say from noon to one on April 8th, 9th, and 10th of 1904. Thus, a minute before Aiwass began, Crowley entered the ritual chamber and sat in front of a pile of typewriter paper. Then, he picked up a fountain pen and wrote down what he heard verbatim, as Aiwass spoke to him in a rich tenor voice that changed in expressiveness with the mood of the message. Crowley heard the voice of Aiwass coming from behind him, out of the corner of the room.

Here’s the thing though, while the three chapters of The Book of the Law were dictated by Aiwass, each one is in the voice of a different ancient Egyptian deity, which has now become part of the Thelemic pantheon. That is to say, the 66 passages in the first chapter were spoken by Nuit, the 75 passages in the second chapter were spoken by Hadit, and the 79 passages in the third chapter were spoken by Ra-Hoor-Khuit. They are the three speakers of The Book of the Law, by means of Aiwass — which may or…