The Cry of the 21st Aethyr, Which is Called ASP
A mighty wind rolls through all the Aethyr; there is a sense of absolute emptiness; no colour, no form, no substance. Only now and then there seem as it were, the shadows of great angels, swept along. No sound; there is something very remorseless about the wind, passionless, that is very terrible. In a way, it is nerve-shaking. It seems as if something kept on trying to open behind the wind, and just as it is about to open, the effort is exhausted. The wind is not cold or hot; there is no sense of any kind connected with it. One does not even feel it, for one is standing in front of it.
Now, the thing opens behind, just for a second, and I catch a glimpse of an avenue of pillars, and at the end a throne, supported by sphinxes. All this is black marble**2**.
Now I seem to have gone through the wind, and to be standing before the throne; but he that sitteth thereon is invisible. Yet it is from him that all this desolation proceeds**3**.
He is trying to make me understand by putting tastes in my mouth, very rapidly one after the other. Salt, honey, sugar**4**, assafoetida, bitumen, honey again, some taste that I don't know at all; garlic, something very bitter like nux vomica, another taste, still more bitter; lemon, cloves, rose-leaves, honey again; the juice of some plant, like a dandelion, I think; honey again, salt, a taste something like phosphorus, honey, laurel, a very unpleasant taste which I don't know, coffee, then a burning taste, then a sour taste that I don't know. All these tastes issue from his eyes; he signals them.
I can see his eyes now. They are very round, with perfectly black pupils, perfectly white iris, and the cornea pale blue. The sense of desolation is so acute that I keep on trying to get away from the vision**5**.
I told him that I could not understand his taste-language, so instead he set up a humming very much like a big electric plant with dynamos going.
Now the atmosphere is deep night-blue; and by the power of that atmosphere, the pillars kindle to a dull glowing crimson, and the throne is a dull, ruddy gold**6**. And now, through the humming, come very clear, bell-like notes, and farther still a muttering, like that of a gathering storm.
And now I hear the meaning of the muttering: I am he who was before the beginning, and in my desolation I cried aloud, saying, let me behold my countenance in the concave of the abyss**7**. And I beheld, and lo! in the darkness of the abyss my countenance was black, and empty, and distorted**8**, that was (once) invisible and pure.
Then I closed mine eye, that I might not behold it, and for this was it fixed. Now it is written that one glance of mine eye shall destroy it**9**. And mine eye I dare not open, because of the foulness of the vision. Therefore do I gaze with these two eyes throughout the aeon**10**. Is there not one of all my adepts that shall come unto me, and cut off mine eyelids, that I may behold and destroy**11**?
Now I take a dagger, and, searching out his third eye, seek to cut off the eye-lids, but they are of adamant. And the edge of the dagger**12** is turned.
And tears**13** drop from his eyes, and there is a mournful voice: So it hath been ever: so must it ever be! Though thou hast the strength of five bulls, thou shalt not avail in this**14**.
And I said to him: Who shall avail? And he answered me: I know not**15**. But the dagger of penance**16** thou shalt temper seven times, afflicting the seven courses of thy soul. And thou shalt sharpen its edge seven times by the seven ordeals.
(One keeps on looking round to try to find something else because of the terror of it. But nothing changes**17** at all. Nothing but the empty throne, and the eyes, and the avenue of pillars!)
And I said to him: O thou that art the first countenance before time**18**; thou of whom it is written that “He, God, is one; He is the eternal one, without equal, son or companion. Nothing shall stand before His face**19**”; all we have heard of thine infinite glory and holiness, of thy beauty and majesty, and behold! there is nothing but this abomination of desolation.
He speaks; I cannot hear a word; something about The Book of the Law. The answer is written in The Book of the Law, or something of that sort**20**.
This is a long speech; all that I can hear is: From me pour down the fires of life and increase continually upon the earth. From me flow down the rivers of water and oil and wine. From me cometh forth the wind that beareth the seed of trees and flowers and fruits and all herbs upon its bosom. From me cometh forth the earth in her unspeakable variety. Yea! all cometh from me, naught cometh to me. Therefore am I lonely and horrible upon this unprofitable throne. Only those who accept nothing from me can bring anything to me.
(He goes on speaking again: I cannot hear a word. I may have got about a twentieth of what he said.) And I say to him: It was written that his name is Silence, but thou speakest continually.
And he answers: Nay, the muttering that thou hearest is not my voice. It is the voice of the ape**21**.
(When I say that he answers, it means that it is the same voice. The being on the throne has not uttered a word.) I say: O thou ape that speakest for Him whose name is Silence, how shall I know that thou speakest truly His thought? And the muttering continues: Nor speaketh He nor thinketh, so that which I say is true, because I lie in speaking His thoughts**22**.
He goes on, nothing stops him; and the muttering comes so fast that I cannot hear him at all.
Now the muttering has ceased, or is overwhelmed by the bells, and the bells in their turn are overwhelmed by the whirring, and now the whirring is overwhelmed by the silence. And the blue light is gone, and the throne and the pillars are returned to blackness, and the eyes of him that sitteth upon the throne are no more visible.
I seek to go up close to the throne, and I am pushed back, because I cannot give the sign. I have given all the signs I know and am entitled to**23**, and I have tried to give the sign that I know and am not entitled to**24**, but have not the necessary appurtenance; and even if I had, it would be useless; for there are two more signs necessary**25**.
I find that I was wrong in suggesting**26** that a Master of the Temple had a right to enter the temple of a Magus or an Ipsissimus. On the contrary, the rule that holds below, holds also above. The higher you go, the greater is the distance from one grade to another**27**.
I am being slowly pushed backwards down the avenue, out into the wind. And this time I am caught up by the wind and whirled away down it like a dead leaf.
And a great Angel sweeps through the wind, and catches hold of me, and bears me up against it; and he sets me down on the hither side of the wind, and he whispers in my ear: Go thou forth into the world, O thrice and four times blessed who hast gazed upon the horror of the loneliness of The First**28**. No man shall look upon his face and live. And thou hast seen his eyes, and understood his heart, for the voice of the ape is the pulse of his heart and the labouring of his breast. Go, therefore, and rejoice, for thou art the prophet of the Aeon arising, wherein He is not**29**.
Give thou praise unto thy lady Nuit, and unto her lord Hadit, that are for thee and thy bride, and the winners of the ordeal X**30**.
And with that we are come to the wall of the Aethyr, and there is a little narrow gate, and he pushes me through it, and I am suddenly in the desert.
The Desert, near Bou Sada**31**.
November 29, 1909. 1:30 - 2:50 p.m.