Part IV: The New Aeon

After such a deep beginning in the first three parts of the Introduction, Crowley stumbles a bit in this section, with a couple notable exceptions. The opening rings true enough, however:
The third chapter of the Book is difficult to understand, and may be very repugnant to many people born before the date of the book (April, 1904).
Date of birth has nothing to do with: the third chapter is indeed repugnant, containing very little of the soaring beauty of the first which is concerned almost exclusively with liberty for the individual and love of Nuit. In his typical egotistical manner, Crowley tries to convince himself that the third chapter contains prophecy directed at his times. Anyone with an ounce of sense can read it and see it is meant to be taken by people living in any era. It applies equally to our world as it did to his. For that matter, Johannes Kepler would have felt it was penned expressly for him had he read it in the midst of the Thirty Years War. This universality will become eminently clear in the following section of the introduction.

The next several paragraphs offer a history of the world which reveals a geo-chauvinist slant. The essential interpretation is decent, but the dating seems all kittywampus.
It explains that certain vast “stars” (or aggregates of experience) may be described as Gods. One of these is in charge of the destinies of this planet for periods of 2,000 years.*
It's pretty obvious where that number comes from, and the footnote at this point confirms it:
* The moment of change from one period to another is technically called The Equinox of the Gods.
It suggests that Crowley bought into the traditional astrological theory of "Ages," and this requires a bit of a side-trip.

Due to the astronomical phenomenon known as precession of the equinoxes, the start of Aries (which is the initial point of the Zodiac, and hence putatively of great importance) is ever slipping backwards one degree every 72 years, or one complete Zodiacal sign every 2160 years. (The physical cause of this is the slight wobble of the earth as it spins on its axis). Supposedly we are currently entering the Age of Aquarius, having just left the Age of Pisces, and before that was the Age of Aries. Notably, the past two millennia--the Age of Pisces--has been dominated by a pyromanic regime employing the fish as its sigil.

Crowley attempts to assign the Ages to the Egyptian trinity of Isis, Osiris and Horus, which makes a good deal of sense:
...Isis, the mother, when the Universe was conceived as simple nourishment drawn directly from her; this period is marked by matriarchal government.
This is a not unreasonable interpretation of life before the time of the Greeks and Romans and the rise of society and government. It makes me think of how the Plains Indians might have lived in America before the corrupting influence of the Wašíču: they didn't exist in a wilderness, but rather, a place called home which provided all the needs for a life of liberty.

I believe this Age of Isis, what with the feminine quality ascribed to it, corresponds with how Wiccans now view things. (But of course, that religion didn't pop up until around 1954, so this is just pure analogy). In short: the pagan world sustained the individual directly, no middle-man required.
Next, beginning 500 B.C., Osiris, the father, when the Universe was imagined as catastrophic, love, death, resurrection, as the method by which experience was built up; this corresponds to patriarchal systems.
Again, this seems quite reasonable. Rather than a feminine universe breastfeeding the masses, it's now a masculine show, dominated by individuals foolishly sacrificing their freedom to become part of society, the rise of religion (the most malignant human invention ever), hatred, wars, jingoism, and so forth.
Now, Horus, the child, in which we come to perceive events as a continual growth partaking in its elements of both these methods, and not to be overcome by circumstance. This present period involves the recognition of the individual as the unit of society.
Those final three words are so debile. I would have said, "...recognition of the individual as far more important than society." In any event, this makes me think of De Sade, the great but rarely thanked benefactor of humanity.

Crowley attempts a dating of these three periods, and initiates some heroic squeezing and shoving to make the chronology fit 1904 one way or another. It just doesn't wash. My intuition suggests that human existence entered the Age of Isis around 2000 BCE, that of Osiris around 1 CE, and we still haven't quite embarked on the Age of Horus. And astrological dating doesn't really fit the scheme too well. I mean, the Age of Isis being identified with the Age of Aries? Come on! As for the Age of Aquarius, if you blinked you missed it. But it did exist, you know.

As fun as such woolgathering is, one thing discommodes me. This whole business of Ages is in the end based upon the wobble of the earth, mentioned earlier. But our planet is just one tiny piece of solar driftwood. Do you really think beings living at the other end of the Hubble telescope date their evolution by our precession of the equinoxes? If that's not geo-chauvinism, I don't know what is. In so many ways, Crowley bought into Christianity as much as the next guy.
Every event, including death, is only one more accretion to our experience, freely willed by ourselves from the beginning and therefore also predestined.
Finally, Crowley is back on track. I find the whole notion of "accretion" to be most satisfying. I was about to say it neatly justifies a life of irresponsibility. But there's that active verb "will" again. As for death being preordained, well, a good dose of Crack in the Cosmic Egg with a dash of formalism thrown in, might make Crowley reconsider. And if it really is foretold, then the way Dr. Timothy Leary died should be a lesson to us all.

The next several paragraphs are yet one more egocentric attempt by Crowley to make it seem as though he had a monopoly on the worst of all possible worlds:
Consider the outcrop of dictatorships, only possible when moral growth is in its earliest stages, and the prevalence of infantile cults like Communism, Fascism, Pacifism, Health Crazes, Occultism in nearly all its forms, religions sentimentalised to the point of practical extinction.

Consider the popularity of the cinema, the wireless, the football pools and guessing competitions, all devices for soothing fractious infants, no seed of purpose in them.

Consider sport, the babyish enthusiasms and rages which it excites, whole nations disturbed by disputes between boys.
O!, Great Beast, you should have stuck around a bit longer to see the advent of cell phones, television and the WWE. You lived in an era of milk and honey! As for the first of those three paragraphs, the pot calling the kettle black comes to mind.

And then we conclude with the usual message from our sponsor:
How this new Aeon of Horus will develop, how the Child will grow up, these are for us to determine, growing up ourselves in the way of the Law of Thelema under the enlightened guidance of the Master Therion.
No thanks! I'll grow up on my own if you please! 

Sometimes Crowley acted as though he had never read the Book of the Law.

Next installment: Part V--The Next Step

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