John St. John


The Fifth Day

So beginneth the Fifth Day of this great Magical Retirement. With two and twenty breath-cycles did I begin. This practice was a little easier; but not much better. It ought to become quite simple and natural before one devotes the half-minute of Kambhakam (breath held-in), when one is rigid to a strong projection of Will toward Adonai, as has been my custom. I hope to-day will be more hard definite magical Work, less discourse, less beatific state of mind — which is the very devil! the real Calypso, none the less temptress because her name happens to be Penelope. Ah Lord Adonai, my Lord! Grant unto me the Perfume and the Vision; let me attain the desirable harbour; for my little ship is tossed by divers tempests, even by Euroclydon, in the Place where Four Winds meet.
Therefore I shall go to rest, letting my mind rest ever in the Will toward Adonai. Let my sleep be toward Him, or annihilation; let my waking be to the music of His name; let the day be full to the uttermost of Him only.
My good friend the body woke me at this hour by means of disturbed dreams about a quite imaginary relative of whom nobody for years had ever seen anything but his head, which he would poke out of a waterproof sheet. He was supposed to be an invalid. I am glad to say that I woke properly and got quite automatically on to the mantra.

My Prana, however, seems feverish and unbalanced. So I eat a biscuit or two and drink some water and will put it right with the Pentagram Ritual.

Done, but oh! how hard. Sleep fights me as Apollyon fought Christian! but I will up and take him by the throat.

(See; 'tis 2.30. Twelve minutes to do that little in!) And look at the handwriting!

How excellent is Prana Yama, a comfort to the soul! I did thirty-two cycles, easy and pleasant; could have gone on indefinitely. The muscles went rigid, practically of their own accord; so light did I feel that I almost thought myself to be "that wise one" who "can balance himself on his thumb." Sleep is conquered right away from the word "jump." Indeed, if

Satan trembles when he sees
The weakest saint upon his knees;

then surely:

Satan flees, exclaiming "Damn!"
When any saint starts Pranayam!

So happy, indeed, was I in the practice that I devoted myself by the Waiting formula to Adonai; and that I got to "neighbourhood- concentration" is shewn by the fact that I several times forgot altogether about Adonai, and found myself saying the silly old Mantram.

I despair of asking my readers to distinguish between the common phenomenon of wandering thought and this phenomenon which is at the very portal of true and perfect concentration; yet it is most important that the distinction should be seized. The further difficulty will occur — I hope! — of distinguishing between the vacancy of the idiot, and that destruction of thought which we call Shivadarshana, or Nirvikalpa-samadhi.[1]

The only diagnostic I can think of is this; that there is (I can't be sure about it) no rational connection between the thought one left behind one and the new thought. In a simple wandering during the practice of concentration one can very nearly always (especially with a little experience) trace the chain. With neighbourhood-concentration this is not so. Perhaps there is a chain, but so great already is the power of preventing the impressions from rising into consciousness that one has no knowledge of the links, each one having been automatically slaughtered on the threshold of the consciousness.

Of course, the honest and wary practitioner will have no difficulty in recognising the right kind of wandering; with this explanation there is no excuse for him if he does.

I have another theory, though. Perhaps this is not a wandering at all, but a complete annihilation of all thought. Affirming Adonai, I lop off the heads of all others; and Adonai's own head falls. But in the momentary pause which this causes, some old habitual thought (to- night my mantra) rises up. A case of the Closure followed by the Moving of the Previous Question.

Oh Lord! when wilt Thou carry a Motion to Adjourn, nay, to Prorogue, nay! to Dissolve this Parliament?

I am not sleepy; yet will I again compose myself, devoting myself to Adonai.
Again woke and continued mantra.
I ought to have made more of it at 7.7; I went off again to sleep; the result is that I am rather difficult to wake again.

However, let me be vigilant now.

I have dressed and from 8.35-8.45 performed the Ritual of the Bornless One.

Though I performed it none too well (failing, e.g., to make use of the Geometric Progression on the Mahalingam formula in the Ieou section[2], and not troubling even to formulate carefully the Elemental Hosts, or to marshal them about the circle) I yet, by the favour of IAO, obtained a really good effect, losing all sense of personality and being exalted in the Pillar. Peace and ecstasy enfolded me. It is well.

But as I was ill last night, and as the morning has broken chill and damp, I will go to the Cafe du Dôme and break my fast humbly with Coffee and Sandwich. May it strengthen me in my search for the Quintessece, the Stone of the Wise, the Summum Bonum, True Wisdom and Perfect Happiness!
I hope (by the way) that I have made it quite clear that all this time even a momentary cessation of active thought has been accompanied by the rising-up of the mantra. The rhythm, in short, perpetually dominates the brain; and becomes active on every opportunity. The liquid Moslem mantra is much easier to get on to than is the usual Hindu type with its "m" and "n" sounds predominating: but it does not shake the brain up so forcibly. Perhaps 'tis none the worse for that. I think the unconscious training of the brain to an even rhythm better than startling it into the same by a series of shocks.

I should like to to remark that the suggestions in the "Herb Dangerous"[3] for a ritual seem the wrong way round. It seems to me that the Eastern methods are very arid, and chiefly valuable as a training of the Will, while the Ceremonies of the Magic of Light tune up the soul to that harmony when it is but one step to the Crown.

The real plan is, then, to train the Will into as formidable an engine as possible, and then, at the moment in the Ritual when the real work should be done, to fling forth flying that concentrated Will "whirling forth with re-echoing Roar, so that it may comprehend with invincible Will ideas omniform, which flying forth from that one Fountain issued: whose Foundation is One, One and Alone."

As therefore Discipline of whatever kind is only one way of going into a wood at midnight on Easter Eve and cutting the magic wand with a single blow of the magic knife, etc. etc. etc., we can regard the Western system as the essential one. Yet of course Pranayama, for one thing, has its own definite magical effect, apart from teaching the practitioner that he must last out those three seconds — those deadly long last three seconds — even if he burst in the process.

All this I am writing during breakfast.

My devotees may note, by the way, how the desire to sleep is breaking up.

NightI.7½ hours, unbroken from 12.30.
"II.7 hours nearly, with dreams.
"III.8 hours nearly; but woke three or four times, and if I had not been a worm would have scattered it like chaff!
"IV.6½ hours; and I wake fresh.
"V.1¾ + 4½ + 1 hour; and real good work done in the intervals.
"VI.Probably 4 hours.
"VII.2 + 2 + ½ hours.
"VIII.6 hours much broken.
"IX.1½ + 2 + 2 hours.
"X.4 + 1¼ hours.
"XI.1¾ + 4½ hours.
"XII.Back to the normal — 7 hours perfect sleep.
Have been walks with the mantra arranging for and modelling a "saddle" whereby to get Asana really steady and easy; also for some photographs illustrating some of the more absurd positions, for the instruction of my devotees.

I must now copy out the new Ritual.

This, you will readily perceive, is all wrong. Theoretically, everything should be ready by the beginning of the Operation; and one should simply do it and be done with it.

But this is a very shallow view. One never knows what may be required; i.e., a beginner like myself doesn't. Further, one cannot write an effective Ritual till one is already in a fairly exalted state … and so on.

We must just do the best we can, now as always.

I have been concentrating solely on the Revision and copying of the Ritual. Therefore I now live just as I always live in order to get a definite piece of work done: concentrating as it were " "off" the Work. As Levi also adjures us by the Holy Names.

Coming back from lunch (a dozen Marennes Vertes and an Andouillette aux Pommes) I met Zelina Visconti, more lovely-ugly than ever in her wild way. She says that she is favourably disposed towards me, on the recommendation of her concierge!!!

"The tongue of good report hath already been heard in his favour. Advance, free and of good report!"

And only two pages done! but the decorations "marvelious"!
Another half-hour gone! in mere titivating the Opus! and now I'm too tired to as much as start Prana Yama. I will go to the Dôme and see what a citron pressé and a sandwich does for me, at the same time taking over the MS. of Liber DCCCCLXIII., which has been given me to correct, and doing it.

Please the pigs, the Visconti will cheer me up in the evening; and I shall get a good day in to-morrow.

Still at Liber DCCCCLXIII.[4] I should like to write mantrams for each chapter.
Still at Liber DCCCCLXIII. I need hardly say that I am perfectly aware that in one sense all this working and ritual making and copying and illuminating is but a crowd of dog-faced demons, since the One Thought of Unity with Adonai is absent.

But I do it on purpose, making each thing I do into that Magic Will.

So if you ask me "Are you correcting Liber DCCCCLXIII.?" I reply, "No! I am Adonai!"

Arrival of the Visconti.
Departure of the Visconti. Really a necessary rest: for my head had begun to ache, and her kiss, half given and half taken, much refreshed me.
Have done Liber DCCCCLXIII. 'Tis hardly thinkable that one could have read it (merely) in the time. Say three and a half hours! Well, if it doesn't count as Tapas, and Jap, and Yama, and Niyama, and all the rest of it, all I can say is that I think They don't play fair. I will now go and get something to eat, and (God willing) on my return settle down to real work, for I need daylight to copy my Ritual.
A sandwich and two coffees at the Versailles and a citron pressé; at the Dôme, some little chatter with M—e, B—e, H—s, and others. In fact, I'm a lazy unconcentrated hound. I started Mantra again, though; of course it goes quite easily.
Undressed, and the mantra going, and the Will toward Adonai less unapparent.

To-day I began ill, full of spiritual pride — look at the records of my early hours! One might have thought me a great master of magic loftily condescending to explain a few elementary truths suited to the capacity of his disciples.

The fact is that I am a toad, ugly and venomous, and if I do wear a precious jewel in my hand, that jewel is Adonai, and — well, come to think of it, I am Adonai. But St. John is not Adonai; and St. John had better do a little humiliation to-morrow.

Nothing being more humiliating than Prana Yama, I will begin with that.


[1] We must again refer the reader to the Hindu classics. — Ed.

[2] We cannot understand this passage. It presumably refers to the "Preliminary Invocation" in the "Goetia" of King Solomon, published S.P.R.T., Boleskine Foyers, N.B., 1904. — Ed

[3] We hope to publish this essay in No. 2 of "The Equinox" — Ed.

[4] To be published shortly by "The Equinox." — Ed.

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