The Ecstasy Of Life And Death
"Then saith the prophet and slave of the beauteous one: Who am I, and what shall
be the sign? So she answered him bending down, a lambent flame of blue, all-touching, all-penetrant, her lovely hands upon
the black earth, & her lithe body arched for love, and her soft feet not hurting the little flowers: Thou knowest! And
the sign shall be my ecstasy, the consciousness of the continuity of existence, the omnipresence of my body.
"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
"None breathed the light, faint and faery, of the stars, and two. For I am divided for love's sake, for the chance of union. This is the creation
of the world, that the pain of division is as nothing, and the joy of dissolution all." Liber al vel Legis 1:26-30
I was fortunate to have spent my childhood in a rural Michigan area where I had access to untouched
forest, streams and nature within easy walking distance of our home.
I fondly remember walking through the woods in late spring, just as the trees, the ferns, the brush
and all of nature was awakening after a long winter of sleep. I remember a sensation of total exhilaration, of almost hearing
the sound of the sap flowing through the veins of the plants and trees, the leaves opening to the sun, the ferns around me
unfolding. I looked down and there, at my feet in the humus of the ground, a small cluster of snap dragons, peaking out from
among the other foliage.
It was never in my mind that all of this beauty was getting its energy from the compost of the ground.
The compost, of course, was the rotting corpses of things once living.
I only knew that day, as I have known at numerous other moments like this, that I was truly standing
in the presence of the energy of all Creation. What I did not understand, even though I sensed it deep within me, was that
this "God" was not an external grandfather looking down from above. It was a living force that overpowered me, and it included
It was in that supreme moment that I understood the ecstasy of being in the presence of Nuit, "her soft feet not hurting the little flowers."
Aleister Crowley's said in his comment about these verses that he thought they implied "some mystic
bond" between the human priest and Nuit that brought about an interaction of "divine ecstasy."
Because Nuit describes herself as bending down to touch the Earth, just as she is portrayed in the
picture on the Stele of Revealing, Crowley suggests that the verses are a "direct translation of the first section of the
stele. It conceals a certain secret ritual, of the highest rank. . ."
I tend to think Crowley is quite right in this. Not only is it an interpretation of the events pictured
on the stele, it is a description of the ritual that the priest, Ankh-af-na-khonsu, performed either before or during the
act of passing from life to death.
Nuit explains: "For I am divided for love's sake, for the chance of union. This
is the creation of the world, that the pain of division is as nothing, and the joy of dissolution all."
The Egyptian priest, who sacrificed himself to carry his important message into the future,
experienced extreme joy of dissolution. For him, death was ecstasy and there was no pain.
The word dissolution means decay, decomposition and death. All life feeds upon the dead carcasses
of former living things. That is the reality of our existence. The cycle of life on this planet depends upon the death
of those bodies that exist before ours.
In parallel verses in Chapter Two, Hadit describes himself as "the secret Serpent
coiled about to spring: in my coiling there is joy. If I lift up my head, I and my Nuit are one. If I droop down mine head,
and shoot forth venom, then is rapture of the earth, and I and the earth are one.
"There is great danger in me; for who doth not understand these runes shall
make a great miss. He shall fall down into the pit called Because, and there he shall perish with the dogs of Reason,"
Both verses suggest a sensual union between male and female for the creation of life. Yet hidden
in Chapter One, and more clearly visible in the second chapter, are images of death and also danger for those who follow
this path without understanding.
Notice the moment when Ankh-af-na-khonsu questioned his own path. He asked "Who am I and what shall
be the sign?"
Nuit assured him that the sign would be pure joy and ecstasy. And thus Ankh-af-na-khonsu entered a holy realm of the secret powers to become Aiwass, and the author of The
Book of the Law.
Copyright - James Donahue