Part II: The Universe

In this section, we are introduced to Nuit and Hadit, as well as the central theme of θέλημα. We can skip over the opening paragraph containing some of the usual pomposity Crowley was so fond of. But what follows is truly revelatory:
The elements are Nuit--Space--that is, the total of possibilities of every kind--and Hadit, any point which has experiences of these possibilities.
And then,
Every event is a uniting of some one monad with one of the experiences possible to it.
There! It's out in the open now. The whole point of θέλημα, and hence the Book of the Law is growth, the accumulation of experiences, expanded consciousness.

I was extremely fortunate to have found Babbitt, the Book of the Law and The Picture of Dorian Gray all more or less at the same time, and at a young age. I unconsciously saw the connection early on. For example, Oscar Wilde's Lord Henry accurately anticipated the creed of θέλημα.
"Live! Live the wonderful life that is in you! Let nothing be lost upon you. Be always searching for new sensations. Be afraid of nothing.... A new Hedonism-- that is what our century wants."
Or,
"And yet...I believe that if one man were to live out his life fully and completely, were to give form to every feeling, expression to every thought, reality to every dream--I believe that the world would gain such a fresh impulse of joy that we would forget all the maladies of mediaevalism, and return to the Hellenic ideal-- to something finer, richer than the Hellenic ideal, it may be. But the bravest man amongst us is afraid of himself. The mutilation of the savage has its tragic survival in the self-denial that mars our lives. We are punished for our refusals. Every impulse that we strive to strangle broods in the mind and poisons us. The body sins once, and has done with its sin, for action is a mode of purification. Nothing remains then but the recollection of a pleasure, or the luxury of a regret."
Do you see Nuit in Lord Henry's first sentence of the latter paragraph? Infinite space is the continuum of all possible experiences, and at any given moment exactly one of them is the correct to partake of. And that's where Will comes in. May I refer you back to the entry θέλημα for amplification?

Back when I first encountered Hermeticism and the Golden Dawn, I completely missed a key point, though it was right in front of me all the while. The whole purpose of initiation is to accumulate the lawful experiences needed at each particular moment in a person's life, not to control the elements, or importune or manipulate the gods, but to become a god. Again, this is the outcome of Crowley's rather stark "uniting some one monad with one of the experiences possible to it."

Back to Part II,
"Every man and every woman is a star," that is, an aggregate of such experiences, constantly changing with each fresh event, which affects him or her either consciously or subconsciously."
Now Crowley is sounding like Lord Henry, isn't he? Anyway, when the Book of the Law refers to stars, this can be taken on many different levels at once, including the exceedingly mundane. Ask any astronomer and she'll tell you, humans are indeed physically composed of the stuff of stars. Literally and precisely. There is not one atom within our bodies that is not of infinite space and the stars thereof.

And now comes the key point which I only stumbled upon this month,
"Each one of us has thus an universe of his own, but it is the same universe for each one as soon as it includes all possible experience. This implies the extension of consciousness to include all other consciousness."
There it is...Crowley has finally reconciled Platonism with formalism in those two sentences. Nuit, Queen of Infinite Space, is the totality of all possible experiences, a Platonic notion if ever there was one. A universe of ideals. And we, individually, are each Hadit, a point, the winged globe at the heart of Nuit. We partake of an experience by an act of love, always under Will, at the right time, in the right place--never haphazard, but purposeful. Our uniting with Nuit is completely formalist--indeed, is supposed to be if we're doing our job. We literally construct the universe by the accretion of new experiences or the expansion of consciousness.

This is what the Hermetics meant by initiation, I believe.

A couple points of some interest arise. Crowley, and the book itself, are surely hinting at the notion that there are multiple levels of infinity and some are larger than others. What's curious is that this theory of transfinite numbers was emerging at the same time the Book of the Law appeared, thanks to the work of Georg Cantor, Bertrand Russell, Richard Dedekind and others. The time was apparently right for the idea. It seems to me that we, Hadit, are building the formalist universe for ourselves individually in an אo (aleph-null) way, much in the fashion of Peano's postulates, one inductive step to the next. Yet, Nuit has cardinality way beyond this, a quantum leap to the continuum.

In the penultimate paragraph of Part II, in his analogy of three people walking side by side, Crowley makes it clear that this accumulation of experience is purely inductive in nature. Once again, Nuit is infinite space, Platonist, and Hadit conjoins with her one step at a time to build a consciousness from scratch, a formalist activity. With each new accretion, we each of us get closer to seeing the same universe. If that's not induction, I don't know what is.

This section concludes just as it began with some pointless bombast. Crowley was never particularly good at Éliphas Lévi's fourth dictum in:

Scire, Audere, Velle, Tacere

But what's in between the loquacious bookends is a real barnburner!
 
What of Nuit and Hadit as deities? Well, as I wrote in θέλημα,  "They're as real as any other deities we can imagine, and far more benevolent than most. I've always felt that since all gods are imaginary anyway, we might as well conjure up some decent ones." 

When I lie (and even lay) beneath the night sky full of twinkling stars, I always see Nuit and she hears my petition:
So she answered him, bending down, a lambent flame of blue, all-touching, all penetrant, her lovely hands upon the black earth, & her lithe body arched for love, and her soft feet not hurting the little flowers: Thou knowest! And the sign shall be my ecstasy, the consciousness of the continuity of existence, the omnipresence of my body.
Imagine that! None of the usual claptrap of pounding on someone's door each Saturday morning handing out puerile leaflets, or making religion the basis of government, or dictating whom a person can love, or insisting that everyone be alike, or killing those who believe otherwise.

No, this deity merely demands only that we each fulfill our potential. 

Not a bad religion if we're going to be stuck with one. 

Next vignette: Part III--The Law of Thelema

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