LIBER AL AS-IF*[1]


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Issues in Authenticating and Identifying Arcane Novelties,
From the Necronomicon to the Book of the Law

by Frater Nigris,
for "Fenris Wolf" #5,
December of 2011 (With Addendum, 2015)

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The distinction between grimoire and scripture may be smaller than we might at first imagine. Their superordinary origins or inspirations making possible a relationship with the transcendant or subordinate, each concludes as well as establishes the grounds for contact with unusual and potentially influential intelligences. Yet the ease of identifying their contents is at marked contrast when examined in the specific. Below two primary examples of identification (one challenging, the other simple yet refined) are considered.

GRIMOIRES

In its most crude and popular vein, this takes the form of special pleading and manipulative rhetoric, arguing for prior contact with ancient astronauts who became our gods or demons. The fiery 'chariot' ridden through the sky is as much a product of its time as the 'landing strips' required, for some reason, to accommodate, interstellar visitation. With the advent of genuine archaeology and anthropology, however, these fantastic apologies and projections may be relegated to the realms of delusion or metaphor. Their desperate abuse of ignorance to entertain or deceive may hold no quarter in our refinements of knowledge.That their contents may overlap or in fact descend from the same sources[2] seems demonstrable, yet That which they may rationally apply to occupies a more and more restricted zone as retention and expanse of knowledge is facilitated by technology - the mark of knowledge's application, in fact.

In the questionable realm of grimoires, their origins in fiction or as a reaction to establishment religion makes an evaluation of their content challenging. Where their name ostensibly describes a pragmatic result, subjective assistance may be facilitated by placebo place-holding. Authenticity, therefore, especially in an aged or fictive grimoire, will cohere to the reputation or character previously described by occultists and archival reporters, or by creative artists fomenting a plot device. Some grimoires achieve a measure of notoriety through time and translation, especially as they ride upon the condemnation of conventional religion (the general character of 'books on magic'). These, such as those attributed to Honorius or Cyprian, or the German/Danish/Swedish 'black books', tend to have conventional scholarly descriptions and contents which one may find have been fraudulently proliferated in publication and translation. As time wears on and these books come to be commonly catalogued and reprinted, such deceptions will likely decrease in number.

Grimoires with a less confirmable content and an amusing or controversial status are those derived from fraudulent paraphrase (such as the Book of Dzyan by Blavatsky, an uncredited paraphrase of the Sanskrit Rg Veda), or those emergent from fiction that has achieved a degree of popularity[3] (e.g. the Book of Eibon, invented by Clark Ashton Smith and attributed to a wizard in the land of Hyperborea; De Vermis Mysteriis, invented by Robert Bloch, who translated its title as Mysteries of the Worm; Nameless Cults, invented by Robert E. Howard and attributed to the mad German, Friedrich von Junzt, also known as The Black Book, with its title translated by Derleth as Unaussprechlichen Kulten; the Delomelanicon, invented by Arturo Perez-Reverte and attributed to Satan; and the Necronomicon, invented by Howard P. Lovecraft, the title translated in various ways, and attributed to the mad Arab, Abdul Alhazred).

Leaving the first category behind as easily evaluated by reference to that which they used in construction, the primary example of the last (the Necronomicon) has developed a significant set of possible authentication parameters, some of which apply to any circumstance. In the variation of published versions of the Necronomicon, for example, minimum criteria have been attempted (ostensibly for humorous effect, that being the construction in 1973 by George Scithers and L. Sprague de Camp, of a set of pages scrawled with faux Arabic and Syriac mimicry), but only through the course of time and breadth of knowledge have standards for what ought to be included as a convincing version of said tome been seriously considered and described. Details such as that moral, dualistic, or Aristotlean categories imposed upon what some, after the controversial Derleth called 'the Cthulhu Mythos' are a rational and sustainable disqualifier for any so called Necronomicon. More specific and cogent quotation as from the writ of Lovecraft himself in excerpt features as a desirable element to any approximation.[4]

SCRIPTURE

In contrast, one may identify and evaluate scriptures of small cults such as that of Thelema by form and content without much difficulty. Tracking them is often achieved by the cultists themselves at points and, where aggrandized, by their proponents and opponents. Contents and standards for its scripture in particular are variant, as it is described and arrives from its ostensible author and scribe (Aleister Crowley), and yet through time these presentations have refined and achieved a coherent standard, even in binding and paper quality.

It began as "Liber L. vel Legis" ("given from the mouth of Aiwass to the ear of The Beast"), a product of automatic writing, was presented as the outcome of spirit contact with Crowley's wife Rose, in association to their visit to the Boulaq Museum in Cairo (since renamed), where a particular exhibit (#666) was said to relate to this contact (with the gods Nuit, Hadit, and Ra-Hoor-Khuit). It was compromised by intrusions of the automatic writer or channel and in a couple of places was later amended by Rose. Subsequently it was republished as "Liber Al vel Legis" and promoted as the reception of a channelled document from Crowley's Holy Guardian Angel, Aiwass, affixed with commentaries in two passes (Old and New respectively), and then edited or annotated by various people inclusive of Crowley himself, Israel Regardie, Marcello Ramos Motta, Kenneth Grant, Bill Heidrick, and Hymenaeus Beta. These survive to the present day, with variable form and content embellishing the core documentation.

Criteria of their inclusion have been whether the work, when published, contained the following elements: the holographs of the original pages (see accompanying holograph of the original title page); a photographic reproduction of the Boulaq Museum's #666 stele (the Stele of Revealing) and its translation; the 'Tunis Comment' (a brief statement ostensibly from 'The Priest of the Princes, Ankh-n-f-Khonsu' as to the authority or interpretation of the text); the Old or New commentaries from Crowley; a description of the circumstances and manner of reception and composition by Crowley; an introduction by the editor; photographs of associated locales and persons attendant to the scripture's reception (e.g. Rose); and associated holy books.

There has been one attempt to strip the intrusion of the receiver or scribe from the content (resulting in "The Booklet of the Law"[5]) and there are no known attempts to fraudulently substitute some other document for the scripture on the order of a grimoire (contention as to their publishing seem to have ceased after legal battles establishing copyright ownership subsided in the wake of the author's unsettled affairs). With the amount of attention paid to the work itself (by its adorers), it is somewhat surprising how little has been comparably provided to the commentaries by their scribe or his editors, though a website attempting to showcase the origin and development of these, as well as the commentaries on said scripture, is now in place and undergoing final revision.[6]

The amusing challenge of identifying fictive grimoires is helpfully contrasted against the ease with which scripture of particular cults may be specified. The former establishes its standards from the outside-inward, and what it ought contain through time, whereas the latter grows more specialized and strict with dedicated study by those devoted to their cause. Arcane scholars are advised to resist drawing hard and fast categories based on a 'real' and 'fake' which have as their criteria mere inherence to fictional contexts. While The Book of the Law is not an artifice of this type, like many others, it has been made use of for reference in fictional contexts, and at times for condemnatory purpose or without reference to its specific contents.

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NOTES
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1. "Al As-if" - This is the name given by the mad Arab, Abdul Alhazred, to the grimoire known as the Necronomicon, used as an artifice in the fiction of Howard P. Lovecraft and subsequently applied to numerous books purporting to approximate this prop.

2. "...descend from the same sources." - See "The Cult of Alien Gods: H. P. Lovecraft and Extraterrestrial Pop Culture", by Jason Colavito, Prometheus Books 2004.

3. "...emergent from fiction that has achieved a degree of popularity" - See Wikipedia's "Fictional Grimoires" at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Fictional_grimoires (accessed 12/27/11) for a list of fictional grimoires.

4. "...any approximation." - There are platforms from which derivation of NEW versions of the Necronomicon may be justified as either communications from Lovecraft or the manifestation of that which Lovecraft identified. See "Liber Grimoiris: the Parallels of East and West: Termas, Grimoires and the Necronomicon"" ( http://www.luckymojo.com/avidyana/gnostik/liber-grimoiris.html accessed 12/27/11), by Frater Nigris; "The Necronomicon: Selected Stories and Essays Concerning the Blasphemous Tome of the Mad Arab", by Robert M. Price; and "The Necronomicon Files", by Daniel Harms. Contrast these with the usual standards for scriptures!

5. "Librette Al vel Legis: the Booklet of the Law" - http://www.luckymojo.com/avidyana/gnostik/librette-al-vel-legis.html (accessed 12/27/11), by Frater Nigris.

6. "...a website...." - "The Book of the Law" - http://www.book-of-the-law.com (accessed 12/27/11).

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copyright 2012; nigris (333)
nigris@book-of-the-law.com;

permission for reprint granted to Carl Abrahamsson
in construction of his 'The Fenris Wolf' (#5), of which we have grown fond.



LIBER AS-IF: Addendum


Fill-Kill fALlout

by Frater Nigris,
for web tasting,
December 2015

As of April of 2013, a controversy erupted within the O.T.O. and E.G.C.[7] as a result of the acquisition of a copy of the book "Thelema" "(1909), i.e., The Holy Books, printed on actual sheepskin vellum (not Japon vellum, a type of paper favored by Crowley) and bound in Morocco by Zaehnsdorf." This was part of the James Thomas Windram Accession to the O.T.O. Archives, "preserved largely intact for a century".

The Frater Superior of the order and Pontiff of the church maintained that he "had good reason to think it might be the very copy that appears on the altar in the famous 'Magician' photo of Crowley, {and was} without question ...Crowley’s copy before 1913."

That book, he claimed, and shown with photographic evidence, "includes several early comments on verses of Liber Legis..., as well as a ...text correction to Liber CCXX III:37...." He averred that this text correction was by Crowley and

"resolves a longstanding textual difference between three sources:
(1) the versification of the Stele of Revealing from a now-lost vellum notebook, which was published with the reading 'kill me!' in The Equinox I (1912) and The Equinox of the Gods (1936);
(2) a quotation ('fill me!') given in a pencil note to Liber XXXI, the MS. of Liber AL, giving directions for the extent of the quotation to be inserted from a contemporary vellum notebook; and
(3) the editions of Liber Legis published by Crowley, all of which gave 'fill me!'. In this copy Crowley's marginal holograph note clearly corrects 'fill me!' to 'kill me!' in the text of Liber CCXX."

In a fascinating display of explanation to justify what would otherwise have been an editorial correction yet was perceived, due to cultic emphasis within both organizations (due to text forbidding it within the book itself) not to change the scripture {or indeed any 'Class A' documents} "in one letter" (AL I.36) or "as much as the style of a letter" (AL I.54)

AL I.36: "My Scribe.....shall not in one letter change this book

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MORE NOTES

7. "O.T.O. and E.G.C." - The Order of the Temple of the East (Ordo Templi Orientis, or O.T.O.) and the Gnostic Catholic Church (Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica, or E.G.C.) have brought this forward into the public eye within their "Archival News" - http://oto.org/news0413.html and subsequent contentions about this issue, explaining the rationale for the correction to the scripture itself were provided in the same news archive at the O.T.O. website - http://oto.org/legis.html ).

END