John St. John


The Sixth Day

Thus then — oh ye great gods of Heaven! — begins the Sixth Day of the Great Magical Retirement of that Holy Illuminated Man of God our Greatly Honoured Frater, O.M., Adeptus Exemptus 7° = 4 Brother-Elect of the Most Secret and Sublime Order A∴ A∴

He does with great difficulty (and no interior performance) just four breath-cycles.

Somebody once remarked that it had taken a hundred million years to produce me; I may add that I hope it will be another hundred million before God makes such another cur.

Have performed the Equilibrating Ritual of the Scourge, the Dagger, and the Chain; with the Holy Anointing Oil that bringeth the informing Fire into their Lustral Water.
I am so sleepy that I cannot concentrate at all. (I was trying the "Bornless One.") The magic goes well; good images and powerful, but I slack right off into sleep. It's the hour for heroic measures or else to say: A good night's rest, and start fresh in the morning! I suppose, as usual, I shall say the first and do the second.
Have risen, washed, performed the ritual "Thee I invoke, the Bornless One" physically.

The result fair. One gets better magical sight and feeling when one is performing a ritual in one's Astral Body, so called. For one is on the same plane as the things one's dealing with.

If, however, serious work is wanted, one must be all there. To get "materialized" "spirits" — pardon the absurd language! — one should (nay, must!) work inside one's body. So, too, I think, for the highest spiritual work; for that Work extends from Malkuth to Kether.

Here is the great value of the rationalistic Eastern systems. [P.S. Of course scientifically worked with pencil, note-book, and stop-watch. The Yogi is usually in practice just as vague a dreamer as the mystic.] They keep one always balanced by common sense. One might go off on lines of pleasing illusion for years, until one was lost on the "Astral Plane."

All this, observe, is very meaningless, very vague at the best. What is the Astral Plane? Is there such a thing? How do its phantoms differ from those of absinthe, reverie, and love, and so on?

We may admit their unsubstantiality without denying their power; the phantoms of absinthe and love are potent enough to drive a man to death or marriage; while reverie may end in anti- vivisectionism or nut-food-madness.

On the whole, I prefer to explain the many terrible catastrophes I have seen caused by magic misunderstood by supposing that in magic one is working with some very subtle and essential function of the brain, whose disease may mean for one man paralysis, for another mania, for a third melancholia, for a fourth death. It is not à priori absurd to suggest that there may be some one particular thought that would cause death. In the man with heart disease, for instance, the thought "I will run quickly upstairs" might cause death quite as directly as "I will shoot myself."

Yet of course this thought acts through the will and the apparatus of nerves and muscles. But might not a sudden fear cause the heart to stop? I think cases are on record.

But all this is unknown ground, or, as Frank Harris would say, Unpath'd Waters. We are getting dangerously near "mental arsenic" and "all — god — good — bones — truth — lights — liver — mind — blessing — heart — one and not of a series — ante and pass the buck."

The common sense of the practical man of the world is good enough for me!

Will G. R. S. Mead or somebody wise like that tell me why it is that if I get out of my body and face (say) East, I can turn (in the "astral body") as far as West-Sou'-West or thereabouts, but no further except with very great difficulty and after long practice? In making the circle, just as I got to West, I would swing right back to West-Nor'-West: turn easily enough, in short, to any point but due West, within perhaps 5°, but never pass that point. I have taught myself to do it, but always with an effort.

Is this a common experience?

I connect it with my faculty of knowing direction, which all mountaineers and travellers who have been with me admit to be quite exceptional.

If I leave my tent or hut by a door facing, say, South-West, throughout that whole day, over all kinds of ground, through any imaginable jungle, in all kinds of weather, fog, blizzard, blight, by night or day, I know within 5° (usually within 2°) the direction in which I faced when I left that tent or hut. And if I happen to have observed its compass bearing, of course I can deduce North by mere judgment of angle, at which I am very accurate.

Further, I keep a mental record, quite unconsciously, of the time occupied on a march; so that I can always tell the time within five minutes or so without consulting my watch.

Further, I have another automatic recorder which maps out distance plus direction. Suppose I were to start from Scott's and walk (or drive; it's all the same to me) to Haggerston Town Hall (wherever Haggerston may be; but say it's N.E.), thence to Maida Vale. From Maida Vale I could take a true line for Piccadilly again and not go five minutes walk out of my way, bar blind alleys, etc., and I should know when I got close to Scott's again before I recognised any of the surroundings.

It always seems to me that I get an intuition of the direction and length of line A (Scott's to Haggerston bee-line; in spite of any winding, it would make little odds if I went via Poplar), another intuition of line B (Haggerston to Maida Vale), and obtained my line C (back to Scott's) by "Subliminal trigonometry."

In this example I am assuming that I had never been in London before. I have done precisely similar work in dozens of strange cities, even a twisted warren like Tangier or Cairo. I am worse in Paris than anywhere else; I think because the main thoroughfares radiate from stars, and so the angles puzzle one. The power, too, suits ill with civilized life; it fades as I live in towns, revives as I get back to God's good earth. A seven- foot tent and the starlight — who wants more?

Well, I've woke myself writing this. The point that really struck me was this: what would happen if by severe training I forced my "astral body" — damn it! isn't there a term for it free from L. … -prostitution? (One speaks of "les deux prostitutions"; so it's all right.) My Scin-Laeca, then — what would happen if I forced my Scin-Laeca to become a Whirling Dervish? I couldn't get giddy, because my Semicircular canals would be at rest. I must really try the experiment.[1]
I will now devote myself to sleep, willing Adonai. Lord Adonai, give me deep rest like death, so that in very few hours I may be awake and active, full of lion-strength of purpose toward Thee!
My heroic conduct was nearly worth a "Nuit Blanche." For, being so thoroughly awake, I had all my Prana irritated, a feeling like the onset of a malarial attack, twelve hours before the temperature rises. I dare say it was after 3 o'clock when I slept; I woke too, several times, and ought to have risen and done Prana Yama: but I did not. O worm! the sleepiest bird can easily catch thee! … I am not nicely awake, though it is to my credit that I woke saying my mantra with vigour. 'Tis a bitter chill and damp the morn; yet must I rise and toil at my fair Ritual.
Settling down to copy.
Have completed my two prescribed pages of illumination.

Will go and break my fast and do my business.

After writing letters went out and had coffee and two brioches.
At Louvre looking up some odd points in the lore of Khemi[2] for my Ritual.
I cannot understand it; but I feel faint for lack of food; I must get back to strict Hatha-Yoga feeding.
Half-dozen oysters and an entrecôte aux pommes.
Back to work. I am in a very low physical condition; quite equilibrated, but exhausted. I can hardly walk upright!

Lord Adonai, how far I wander from the gardens of thy beauty, where play the fountains of the Elixir!

Wrote two pages; the previous were not really dry; so I must wait a little before illuminating.

I will rest — if I can! In the Hanged Man posture.

I soon went to sleep and stayed there.

It is useless to persist…. Yet I persist.

I was so shockingly cold that I went to the Dôme and had milk, coffee, and sandwich, eaten in Yogin manner. But it has done no good as far as energy is concerned. I'm just as bad or worse than I was on the day which I have called the day of Apophis (third day). The only thing to my credit is the way I've kept the mantra going.
One thing at least is good; if anything does come of this great magical retirement — which I am beginning to doubt — it will not be mixed up with any other enthusiasm, poetic, venereal, or bacchanalian. It will be purely mystic. But as it has not happened yet — and just at present it seems incredible that it should happen — I think we may change the subject.

…. What a fool I am, by the way! I say that "He is God, and that there is no other God than He" 1800 times an hour; but I don't "think" it even once a day.

All my energy has suddenly come back.

Was it that Hatha-Yoga sandwich?

I go on copying the Ritual.

Copying finished. I will go and dine, and learn it by heart, humbly and thoughtfully. The illumination of it can be finished, with a little luck, in two more days.

I am disinclined to use the Ritual until it is beautifully coloured. As Zoroaster saith: "God is never so much turned away from man, and never so much sendeth him new paths, as when he maketh ascent to divine speculations or works, in a confused or disordered manner, and (as the oracle adds) with unhallowed lips, or unwashed feet. For of those who are thus negligent the progress is imperfect, the impulses are vain, and the paths are dark."

Chez Lavenue. Bisque d'Ecrevisses, demi-perdreau à la Gelée, Cèpes Bordelaise, Coupe Jack. Demi Clos du Roi. I am sure I made a serious mistake in the beginning of this Operation of Magick Art. I ought to have performed a true Equilibration by an hour's Prana Yama in Asana (even if I had to do it without Kambhakham) at midnight, dawn, noon, and sunset, and I should have allowed nothing in heaven above, or in earth beneath, or in the waters under the earth, to have interfered with its due performance.

Instead I thought myself such a fine fellow that to get into Asana for a few minutes every midnight and the rest go-as-you- please would be enough. I am well punished.

This food, eaten in a Yogin and ceremonial manner, is doing me good. I shall end, God willing, with coffee, cognac, and cigar. It is a fatal error to knock the body to pieces and leave the consciousness intact, as has been the case with me all day. It is true that some people find that if they hurt the body, they make the mind unstable. True; they predispose it to hallucination.

One should use strictly corporeal methods to tame the body; strictly mental methods to control the mind. This latter restriction is not so vitally important. Any weapon is legitimate against a public enemy like the mind. No truce nor quarter! On the contrary, to use the spiritual forces to secure health, as certain persons attempt to do to-day, is the vilest black magic. This is one of the numerous reasons for supposing that Jesus Christ was a Brother of the Left-Hand Path. Now my body has been treating me well, waking nicely at convenient hours, sleeping at suitable times, keeping itself to itself … an admirable body. Then why shouldn't I take it out and give it the best dinner Lavenue can serve? … Provided that it doesn't stop saying that mantra!

It would be so easy to trick myself into the belief that I had attained! It would be so easy to starve myself until there was "visions about"! It would be so easy to write a sun-splendid tale of Adonai my Lord and my lover, so as to convince the world and myself that I had found Him! With my poetic genius, could I not outwrite St. John (my namesake) and Mrs. Dr. Anna Bonus Kingsford? Yea, I could deceive myself if I did not train and fortify my scepticism at every point. That is the great usefulness of this record; one will be able to see afterwards whether there is any trace of poetic or other influence. But this is my sheet-anchor: I cannot wrote a lie, either in poetry or about magic. These are serious things that constitute my personality; and I could more easily blow out my brains that write a poem which I did not feel. The apparent exception is in case of irony.

[P.S. I wonder whether it would be possible to draw up a mathematical table, showing curves of food (and digestion), drink, other physical impulses, weather, and so on, and comparing them with the curve of mystic enthusiasm and attainment. Through it is perhaps true that perfect health and "bien-être" are the bases of any true trance or rapture, it seems unlikely that mere exuberance of the former can excite the latter.

In other words there is probably some first matter of the work which is not anything we know of as bodily. On my return to London, I must certainly put the matter before more experienced mathematicians, and if possible, get a graphic analysis of the kind indicated.]

How difficult and expensive it is to get drunk, when one is doing magic! Nothing exhilarates or otherwise affects one. Oh, the pathos and tragedy of those lines:

Come where the booze is cheaper!
Come where the pots hold more!

How I wish I had written them!

Having drunk a citron pressé, and watched the poker game at the Dôme for a little, I now return home. I thought to myself, "Let me chuck the whole thing overboard and be sensible, and get a good night's rest" — and perceived that it would be impossible. I am so far into this Operation that

pausing to cast one last glance back
O'er the safe road — 'twas gone!

I must come out of it either an Adept or a maniac. Thank the Lord for that! It saves trouble.

Undressed and robed. Will do an Aspiration in the Hanged Man position, hoping to feel rested and fit by midnight.

The Incense has arrived from London; and I feel its magical effects most favourable.

O creature of Incense! I conjure thee by Him that sitteth upon the Holy Throne and liveth and reigneth for ever as the Balance of Righteousness and Truth, that thou comfort and exalt my soul with Thy sweet perfume, that I may be utterly devoted to this Work of the Invocation of my Lord Adonai, that I may fully attain thereto, beholding Him face to face — as it is written "Before there was Equilibrium, Countenance beheld not Countenance" — yea, being utterly absorbed in His ineffable Glory — yea, being That of which there is no Image either in speech or thought.

What a weary world we live in! No sooner am I betrayed into making a few flattering remarks about my body that I find everything wrong with it, and two grains of Cascara Sagrada necessary to its welfare!

…. I wish I knew where I was! I don't at all recognise what Path I am on; it doesn't seem like a Path at all. As far as I can see, I am drifting rudderless and sailless on a sea of no shore — the False Sea of the Qliphoth. For in my stupidity I began to try a certain ritual of the Evil Magic, so called….

Not evil in truth, because only that is evil (in one sense) which does not lead to Adonai. (In another sense, all is evil which is not Adonai.) And of course I had the insane idea that this ritual would serve to stimulate my devotion. For the information of the Z.A.M., I may explain that this ritual pertained to Saturn in Libra; and, though right enough in its own plane, is a dog-faced demon in this operation. Is it, though? I am so blind that I can no longer decide the simplest problems. Else, I see so well, and am so balanced, that I see both sides of every question.

In chess-blindness one used to abjure the game. I never tried to stick it through; I wish I had. Anyhow, I have to stick this through!

O Lord of the Eye, let thine Eye be ever open upon me! For He that watcheth Israel doth not slumber nor sleep!

Lord Shiva, open Thou the Eye upon me, and consume me altogether in its brilliance!

Destroy this Universe! Eat up thine hermit in thy terrible jaws!

Dance Thou upon this prostrate saint of Thine!

… I suffer from thirst … it is a thirst of the body … yet the thirst of the soul is deeper, and impossible to quench.

Lord Adonai! Let the Powers of Geburah plunge me again and again into the Fires of Pain, so that my steel may be tempered to that Sword of Magic that invoketh Thy Knowledge and Thy Conversation.

Hoor! Elohim Gibor! Kamael! Seraphim! Graphiel!

Bartzabel! Madim! I conjure ye in the Number Five.

By the Flaming Star of my Will! By the Senses of my Body! By the Five Elements of my Being! Rise! Move! Appear! Come ye forth unto me and torture me with your fierce pangs … for why? because I am the Servant of the Same your God, the True Worshipper of the Highest.

Ol sonuf vaoresaji, gono ladapiel, elonusaha cælazod.
I rule above ye, said the Lord of Lords, exalted in power.[3]

Will now try the Hanged Man again.
Very vigorous and good, my willing of Adonai…. I should like to explain the difficulty. It would be easy enough to form a magical Image of Adonai: and He would doubtless inform it. But it would only be an Image. This may be the meaning of the commandment "Thou shalt not make any graven image," etc., just as "Thou shalt not have any other Gods but me" implies single-minded devotion (Ekagrata) to Adonai. So any mental or magical Image must necessarily fall short of the Truth. Consequently one has to will that which is formless; and this is very difficult. To concentrate the mind upon a definite thing is hard enough; yet at least there is something to grasp, and some means of checking one's result. But in this case, the moment one's will takes a magical shape — and the will simply revels in creating shapes — at the moment one knows that one has gone off the track. This is of course (nearly enough) another way of expressing the Hindu Meditation whose method is to kill all thoughts as they arise in the mind. The difference is that I am aiming at a target, while they are preventing arrows from striking one. In my aspiration to know Adonai, I resemble their Yogis who concentrate on their "personal Lord"; but at the same time it must be remembered that I am not going to be content with what would content them. In other words, I am going to "define" "the Knowledge and Conversation of my Holy Guardian Angel" as equal to Neroda-Samapatti, the trance of Nibbana.

I hope I shall be able to live up to this!

Have been practising Asana, etc. I forgot one thing in the last entry: I had been reproaching Adonai that for six days I had evoked Him in vain…. I got the reply, "The Seventh Day shall be the Sabbath of the Lord thy God."

So mote it be!


[1] Scin-Laeca. See Lord Lytton's "Strange Story." — Ed.

[2] Egypt. — Ed.

[3] From Dr. Dee's MSS. — Ed.

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