The Book of the Law

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Liber AL vel Legis is the central sacred text of Thelema, written by Aleister Crowley in Cairo, Egypt in the year 1904. Its full title is Liber AL vel Legis, sub figura CCXX, as delivered by XCIII=418 to DCLXVI,[1] and it is commonly referred to as The Book of the Law.

Liber AL vel Legis contains three chapters, each of which was written down in one hour, beginning at noon, on 8 April, 9 April, and 10 April.[2] Crowley claims that the author was an entity named Aiwass, whom he later referred to as his personal Holy Guardian Angel (or "Higher Self"). Biographer Lawrence Sutin quotes private diaries that fit this story, and writes that "if ever Crowley uttered the truth of his relation to the Book," his public account accurately describes what he remembered on this point.[3]

The original title of the book was Liber L vel Legis. Crowley retitled it Liber AL vel Legis in 1921, when he also gave the handwritten manuscript the title Liber XXXI.[4] The book is often referred to simply as Liber AL, Liber Legis or just AL, though technically the latter two refer only to the manuscript.[5]

Contents

The writing of Liber Legis

The summons

According to Crowley,[6] the story began on 16 March 1904, when he tried to "shew the Sylphs" by means of a ritual to his wife, Rose Kelly. Although she could see nothing, she did seem to enter into a light trance and repeatedly said, "They're waiting for you!" Since Rose had no interest in magic or mysticism, he took little interest. However, on the 18th, after invoking Thoth (the god of knowledge), she mentioned Horus by name as the one waiting for him. Crowley, still skeptical, asked her numerous questions about Horus, which she answered accurately — without having any prior study of the subject. Crowley also gives a different chronology, in which an invocation of Horus preceded the questioning. Lawrence Sutin says this ritual described Horus in detail, and could have given Rose the answers to her husband's questions.[7] The final proof was Rose's identification of Horus in the stele of Ankh-ef-en-Khonsu, then housed in the Bulaq Museum (inventory number 666) but now in the Egyptian Museum of Cairo (number A 9422). The stela was subsequently known to practitioners of Thelema as the "Stele of Revealing."

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