Dancing with Nazis

Aleister Crowley on Human Sacrifice

This is a chapter taken from the book “Magick in Theory and Practice” by Aleister Crowley. The text contains comments from the editor. The term “FRATER PERDURABO” is used by the editor to refer to Crowley. The editor seems to try to obfuscate what Crowley is saying when he talks about sacrificing humans, which is marked in blue in the text.



It is necessary for us to consider carefully the problems connected with the bloody sacrifice, for this question is indeed traditionally important in Magick. Nigh all ancient Magick revolves around this matter. In particular all the Osirian religions — the rites of the Dying God — refer to this. The slaying of Osiris and Adonis; the mutilation of Attis; the cults of Mexico and Peru; the story of Hercules or Melcarth; the legends of Dionysus and of Mithra, are all connected with this one idea. In the Hebrew religion we find the same thing inculcated. The first ethical lesson in the Bible is that the only sacrifice pleasing to the Lord is the sacrifice of blood; Abel, who made this, finding favour with the Lord, while Cain, who offered cabbages, was rather naturally considered a cheap sport. The idea recurs again and again. We have the sacrifice of the Passover, following on the story of Abraham’s being commanded to sacrifice his firstborn son, with the idea of the substitution of animal for human life. The annual ceremony of the two goats carries out this in perpetuity. And we see again the domination of this idea in the romance of Esther, where Haman and Mordecai are the two goats or gods; and ultimately in the presentation of the rite of Purim in Palestine, where Jesus and Barabbas happened to be the Goats in that particular year of which we hear so much, without agreement on the date.

This subject must be studied in the “Golden Bough”, where it is most learnedly set forth by Dr. J. G. Frazer.

Enough has now been said to show that the bloody sacrifice has from time immemorial been the most considered part of Magick. {92} The ethics of the thing appear to have concerned no one; nor, to tell the truth, need they do so. As St. Paul says, “Without shedding of blood there is no remission”; and who are we to argue with St. Paul? But, after all that, it is open to any one to have any opinion that he likes upon the subject, or any other subject, thank God! At the same time, it is most necessary to study the business, whatever we may be going to do about it; for our ethics themselves will naturally depend upon our theory of the universe. If we were quite certain, for example, that everybody went to heaven when he died, there could be no serious objection to murder or suicide, as it is generally conceded — by those who know neither — that earth is not such a pleasant place as heaven. However, there is a mystery concealed in this theory of the bloody sacrifice which is of great importance to the student, and we therefore make no further apology, We should not have made even this apology for an apology, had it not been for the solicitude of a pious young friend of great austerity of character who insisted that the part of this chapter which now follows — the part which was originally written — might cause us to be misunderstood. This must not be.

The blood is the life. This simple statement is explained by the Hindus by saying that the blood is the principal vehicle of vital Prana. There is some ground for the belief that there is a definite substance , not isolated as yet, whose presence makes all {93} the difference between live and dead matter. We pass by with deserved contempt the pseudoscientific experiments of American charlatans who claim to have established that weight is lost at the moment of death, and the unsupported statements of alleged clairvoyants that they have seen the soul issuing like a vapour from the mouth of persons “in articulo mortis”; but his experiences as an explorer have convinced the Master Therion that meat loses a notable portion of its nutritive value within a very few minutes after the death of the animal, and that this loss proceeds with everdiminishing rapidity as time goes on. It is further generally conceded that live food, such as oysters, is the most rapidly assimilable and most concentrated form of energy. Laboratory experiments in food-values seem to be almost worthless, for reasons which we cannot here enter into; the general testimony of mankind appears a safer guide.

It would be unwise to condemn as irrational the practice of those savages who tear the heart and liver from an adversary, and devour them while yet warm. In any case it was the theory of {94} the ancient Magicians, that any living being is a storehouse of energy varying in quantity according to the size and health of the animal, and in quality according to its mental and moral character. At the death of the animal this energy is liberated suddenly.

The animal should therefore be killed within the Circle, or the Triangle, as the case may be, so that its energy cannot escape. An animal should be selected whose nature accords with that of the ceremony — thus, by sacrificing a female lamb one would not obtain any appreciate quantity of the fierce energy useful to a Magician who was invoking Mars. In such a case a ram would be more suitable. And this ram should be virgin — the whole potential of its original total energy should not have been diminished in any way. For the highest spiritual working one must accordingly choose that victim which contains the greatest and purest force. A male child of perfect innocence and high intelligence is the most satisfactory and suitable victim. {95} For evocations it would be more convenient to place the blood of the victim in the Triangle — the idea being that the spirit might obtain from the blood this subtle but physical substance which was the quintessence of its life in such a manner as to enable it to take on a visible and tangible shape.

Those magicians who object to the use of blood have endeavored to replace it with incense. For such a purpose the incense of Abramelin may be burnt in large quantities. Dittany of Crete is also a valuable medium. Both these incenses are very catholic in their nature, and suitable for almost any materialization. But the bloody sacrifice, though more dangerous, is more efficacious; and for nearly all purposes human sacrifice is the best. The truly great Magician will be able to use his own blood, or possibly that of a disciple, and that without sacrificing the physical life irrevocably. An example of this sacrifice is given in Chapter 44 of Liber 333. This Mass may be recommended generally for daily practice.

One last word on this subject. There is a Magical operation of maximum importance: the Initiation of a New Aeon. When it becomes necessary to utter a Word, the whole Planet must be bathed in blood. Before man is ready to accept the Law of Thelema, the Great War must be fought. This Bloody Sacrifice is the critical point of the World-{96}Ceremony of the Proclamation of Horus, the Crowned and conquering Child, as Lord of the Aeon.

This whole matter is prophesied in the Book of the Law itself; let the student take note, and enter the ranks of the Host of the Sun.

II There is another sacrifice with regard to which the Adepts have always maintained the most profound secrecy. It is the supreme mystery of practical Magick. Its name is the Formula of the Rosy Cross. In this case the victim is always — in a certain sense — the Magician himself, and the sacrifice must coincide with the utterance of the most sublime and secret name of the God whom he wishes to invoke.

Properly performed, it never fails of its effect. But it is difficult for the beginner to do it satisfactorily, because it is a great effort for the mind to remain concentrated upon the purpose of the ceremony. The overcoming of this difficulty lends most powerful aid to the Magician.

It is unwise for him to attempt it until he has received regular initiation in the true Order of the Rosy Cross, {97} and he must have taken the vows with the fullest comprehension and experience of their meaning. It is also extremely desirable that he should have attained an absolute degree of moral emancipation, and that purity of spirit which results from a perfect understanding both of the differences and harmonies of the planes upon the Tree of Life.

For this reason FRATER PERDURABO has never dared to use this formula in a fully ceremonial manner, save once only, on an occasion of tremendous import, when, indeed, it was not He that made the offering, but ONE in Him. For he perceived a grave defect in his moral character which he has been able to overcome on the intellectual plane, but not hitherto upon higher planes. Before the conclusion of writing this book he will have done so.

The practical details of the Bloody Sacrifice may be studied in various ethnological manuals, but the general conclusions are summed up in Frazer’s “Golden Bough”, which is strongly recommended to the reader. Actual ceremonial details likewise may be left to experiment. The method of killing is practically uniform. The animal should be stabbed to the heart, or its throat severed, in either case by the knife. All other methods of killing are less efficacious; even in the case of Crucifixion death is given by stabbing. One may remark that warm-blooded animals only are used as victims: with two principal exceptions. The first is the serpent, which is only used in a very special Ritual; the second the magical beetles of Liber Legis. (See Part IV.) {98}

One word of warning is perhaps necessary for the beginner. The victim must be in perfect health — or its energy may be as it were poisoned. It must also not be too large: the amount of energy disengaged is almost unimaginably great, and out of all anticipated proportion to the strength of the animal. Consequently, the Magician may easily be overwhelmed and obsessed by the force which he has let loose; it will then probably manifest itself in its lowest and most objectionable form. The most intense spirituality of purpose is absolutely essential to safety. In evocations the danger is not so great, as the Circle forms a protection; but the circle in such a case must be protected, not only by the names of God and the Invocations used at the same time, but by a long habit of successful defence. If you are easily disturbed or alarmed, or if you have not yet overcome the tendency of the mind to wander, it is not advisable for you to perform {99} the “Bloody Sacrifice”. Yet it should not be forgotten that this, and that other art at which we have dared darkly to hint, are the supreme formulae of Practical Magick.

You are also likely to get into trouble over this chapter unless you truly comprehend its meaning.

TrackBack URI

The Rubric Theme Blog at WordPress.com.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 3,426 other followers

%d bloggers like this: