The Ordeals Of The Hierophant
"There is a word to say about the Hierophantic task. Behold! There are three ordeals
in one, and it may be given in three ways. The gross must pass through fire; let the fine be tried in intellect, and the lofty
chosen ones in the highest. Thus ye have star & star, system & system; let not one know well the other!" Liber al
vel Legis 1:50
Aleister Crowley interpreted this verse as describing ritualistic initiation into secret societies
existing to carry forth the Thelemic philosophy. This is understandable since such organizations seemed necessary in his time
to preserve this revolutionary concept against attacks by organized religion that showed no sign of losing its grip on mankind
during the early part of the century.
Ritualistic initiations, however, don't fit the principles described in Verse 49, in which Nuit
declares: "abrogate are all rituals, all ordeals . . ."
Close examination of the verse reveals an interesting sentence at its beginning. Nuit, through her
scribe Aiwass, informs us that "there is a word to say about the Hierophantic task."
This suggests a task, or severe job awaits some one or some group linked to the Hierophant. It is
obvious that the job is that of bringing this revolutionary new science of thought forward for all to hear.
The Book of the Law, or Liber al vel Legis, is closely linked to the ancient book of numbers, the
Cabala. All of creation can be understood by the study of numbers, and the study of this important work is no exception.
An important part of Numerology and the esoteric sciences is the Tarot. The Hierophant is card number
five among the 22 trump cards in the Tarot deck. The occultists link numerology with the Tarot cards. The formula involves
adding the numbers of the date of birth and then, if a two-digit number is a result, adding those two numbers until a final
number is reached. Anyone with the number five is thus proclaimed to be a Hierophant.
It is my belief that the Beast described in Verse 15, to whom all power is given, will also be a
Hierophant. Occult legend states that this card represents divine wisdom, inspiration, stubborn strength, toil, endurance,
persistence, teaching skills, acquiring help from superiors, patience, organization, peace, goodness of heart, and occult
force voluntarily invoked. I do not believe there is another card in the deck that describes a more powerful personality.
Thus in Verse 50, Nuit is assigning the Hierophantic Beast an important task.
That this declaration is followed by the single word: "Behold!" with an exclamation mark indicates the importance of the message contained thereafter: "There are three ordeals in one, and it may be given in three ways. The gross must pass through fire; let the
fine be tried in intellect, and the lofty chosen ones in the highest."
My vision in reading this line is that of testing for both the Hierophant and humanity. The Beast
will be severely tested as he rises to power. And the tests will come to him by fire, from the so-called intellect, and powerful
government and religious leaders (lofty chosen ones). Once he is revealed, the world must then choose. The tests for all humanity
will come to them by fire, intellect or powerful chosen leadership. The path of Thelema will be rocky for both man and Beast.
The Beast will have a following. His message will be welcomed by many because it offers hope and
freedom to a world that has been locked in religious slavery for thousands of years.
Nuit is thus warning that all who follow the teachings of the Hierophant will be tested. Some will
be threatened with prison or death (fire), others will be challenged by contemporary writers, philosophers, religious leaders
and talking heads (intellect) and others will be intimidated by powerful government (lofty chosen).
"Thus ye have star & star, system & system; let not one know well the
other!" the verse concludes.
Those who choose Thelemic freedom are the stars. The rest of mankind will be part of the system.
The separation will be severe.
Copyright - James Donahue