Aleister Crowley “The Significance of the Ceremony of Minerval and First Degree”

Aleister Crowley

“The Significance of the Ceremony of Minerval and First Degree”



The Ceremony of Minerval, in appearance trivial and formal, contains a doctrine of substantial occult significance. The Candidate before admission is bound by an obligation in which he recognizes Baphomet as the Supreme Authority. This represents the free choice of a free will to submit itself to the magical formula represented by Baphomet. The Candidate is seized, blindfolded and bound hand and foot. This represents the first operation of this formula. The soul is drawn within the planetary current and its sight and freedom of action are immediately taken from it.

He is described as a native of Corinth, and as having attained the freedom of two cities, Athens and Mitylene: the initials of these cities K A M giving the Sanskrit word for “work” from which Karma or Kamma is derived. They add also to the number 61, a prime number whose 6 and I suggest the hexagram, the symbol of the Sun, which is often represented by a six rayed star with a yod in the middle. 61 also represents the word for “nonexistent,” for “towards” and for “I myself.” Read in conjunction these words explain the formulation of the negative in the ego. 61 also represents the Hebrew word for “womb” and that for a “little habitation.” There is another and even more Important explanation of these words which is however unsuited for members of any grade below the Sixth. The Candidate sees that he is traveling to the City of the Sun, which again repeats the solar symbol and gives the name of another city. The adding of this H raises the number to 66, which is the number of the Great Work, and is the sum of the first 11 numbers.

In order to obtain the freedom of the planet into whose current he has been drawn, he is obliged to take an oath, and it indicates the first sacrament, that of Earth. He thus obtains freedom to seek for a suitable medium for incarnation, indicated by the words “Be seated on my right hand.” He is presented with a sacred scroll which confirms his freedom. It should have been remarked that the penalty of the oath applies to reproduction or generation.

The Soul is attempting to perform its work through the vehicles of humanity and if it fails to hold those mysteries sacred and secret, it will lose its power to employ this vehicle for its work.

The meaning of the sign and of the word ON have already been explained in the Lecture of the Fourth Degree, but there is further meaning in this word, which is heartily recommended for your profound study. A strong hint may be given by the study of the number 120. Its character should be written in Arabic.

It should be noted that Saladin is supposed to be seated in a tent and this tent should be in the shape of a cone, a geometrical figure which combines the straight line with the circle.

The new Minerval is informed that he is in need of repose, which refers to a period of contemplation necessary to the beginning of incarnation. The suitable lodging refers to the suitable human beings with whom the soul proposes to take up its residence. Its further adventure is detailed in the I°.


First Degree

We left the Minerval within the attraction of the Planet prepared for incarnation, but I have not taken any detailed steps. The Ia describes this operation. I shall not here deal with the opening and closing of the Oasis as that is only a ceremonial estimation of the place and that pertains to another matter. The Oasis represents the World. The noose refers to the umbilical cord. The Candidate is received on the Dagger which signifies that he has asked for admission into a hostile world, and also refers to the cutting of the noose. He is asked whether he is free and of full age. His incarnation must be a deliberate act of free will.

Isis is then invoked upon him, and this Divine permission having been obtained, the permission of Nature, he enters the world of conscious life in search of Father and Mother whom he finds. I the Father is a symbol of Ithyphallus; 0 the Mother is a symbol of Demeter, being the beginning of the prayer made in the ancient ceremonies.
In the next part of the ceremony the powers of the Oasis consent to the birth, the ego (being) incarnated with the words “In myself.”

All this being happily arranged, the Candidate makes nine circles of the Oasis, as it is said, on his travels with the Moon. He then makes a final effort, and comes to the Chair of the Master. The Clauses of the Obligation are those contracts by which he can obtain freedom. It will be noticed that this refers to water, for man is of Amniote, and naturally the penalty of the (first) obligation, water, is referred to. But, in his birth, his life passes from water to air, and the penalty is, therefore, that of having his throat cut, which would prevent his breathing.

The dagger is by shape an I representing the Father and the initial of Ithyphallus, while the disk is by shape an 0, which similarly represents the Mother, and is the wheel of the word Oon, Oophore. The V.S.L. represents the dagger and the disk combined and by its square shape the Greek gamma, the initial of Genetor. It should also have been remarked that there is another attribution of the dagger and the disk precisely opposite to that given above. This is very necessary, as every symbol is only perfect in so far as it has its opposite. The Candidate is then brought to light and greeted by the powers of the Oasis. The cutting of the noose has an obvious meaning. The Candidate is now reminded of the penalty of his obligation. Although he is born he is still condemned to death. His hopelessness is then illustrated, and that being understood, he is permitted to use all his personal comforts, which he obtained from the room, that is to say from his Mother, the Oasis. In Egypt, where these mysteries were founded, sons derived from their mothers not their fathers.

The Candidate is then taught first to stand upright, the use of the foot; yod, the use of the hand. It would be improper on the present occasion to go more deeply into the signification of the Secrets. They being effected, the Candidate goes on his travels, this time with the Sun, i.e., on his life upon Earth, which he counts by days and years rather than by months. He is then tested in the use of his limbs and being found perfect, he is given a black robe made of wool, referring to Aries, the ram, the sign of the Sun occurs at the Spring.

After this he is permitted to take his seat in the Oasis. He has an appointed place among men, and the powers of the world offer him a banquet in order to sustain him on his further journey.