Endless possibilities, swimming in Eternity
Dancing Shadows of Light, show to me
True colour, of a radiance Infinite
Perception and choice, the keys to Thy Heart
Union I will, forever now
Eternally to be, as none with Thee
Among the prolific writings of Aleister Crowley there appears in chapter 82 of his Autohagiography ‘Confessions,’ record of an experience he refers to as The ‘Star Sponge’ Vision. Crowley reveals the Vision began as the result of a Meditation while on Magickal Retirement at Lake Pasquaney, New Hampshire, in the year 1916. In his recollection, he states, “I lost consciousness of everything but a universal space in which were innumerable bright points, and I realised this as a physical representation of the universe, in what I may call its essential structure. I exclaimed, “Nothingness with twinkles’… I thereupon completed my sentence with the exclamation, ‘but what twinkles!” Crowley then discusses his realisation of the interconnectedness of every star with every thought, or in other words, the interconnectedness of each unit or point of consciousness and its co-dependence upon every other.
He became conscious of the fact that “the structure of the universe was highly organized, that certain stars were of greater magnitude and brilliancy than the rest.” (This, of course, is not to say that All Stars do not have Equal Rights!) Years later, with images from the Hubble Telescope at our disposal, ‘Star Sponge,’ and “Nothingness with twinkles,” stand as incontrovertibly accurate characterisations of the various regions of Deep Space captured in the breathtaking imagery beamed back from this eye in the sky. Exemplified in the context of Crowley’s commentary, which specifically recounts the structure of the Universe and is suggestive of the expansion and evolution from one particular Point, aka The Source, God, or Singularity. Then on to a Stellar Nursery where the first stars of “greater magnitude and brilliancy than the rest” are born – the Qabalist’s Chokmah or the Gates of Heaven. Branching out to the galaxies and stars as we know them, followed by the wondrous complexity and diversity we witness today through our particular human lens here on Earth – Malkuth.
Determinately, Crowley died in 1947 aged 72, while the Hubble Telescope wasn’t launched until 1990. Nevertheless, The Great Beast appears to have witnessed both the structure and form of Deep Space and the Universe, a feat our consensus comprehension of consciousness informs us is not possible. Knowledge of the structure of the Universe is one thing for a student of the qabalah (in itself an enigma), delineation of the form of Outer Space is a very impressive feat indeed. From this perspective, with the markedly descriptive ‘Star Sponge’ in mind, a reasonably objective validation of the Visionary Experience, including various testimonies and experiences of both past and present Shamans, Priests, Psychonauts and Practitioners of Magick, is apparent. The occult maxim as above, so below resounds.
I purchased the ‘Hag’ on the 31st of July 2003, and it was around the 22nd of September that I first read his account of The ‘Star Sponge’ Vision. Dovetailing Crowley’s peculiarly casual treatment of this vision, which he felt “almost justified in calling it the radix of my whole philosophical outlook.” Adding cryptically, “It would be quite impracticable to go fully into the subject of this vision of the Star-Sponge.” It is from this intersection that I would like to discuss the most profound experience of my own life. On the 25th of April 2003, at Black Rock (postcode 3193 for those playing at home), near the suburb of Sandringham, Victoria, I Crossed The Abyss. More commonly referred to as Union with God, or perhaps, Return to The Source. In an effort to maintain a scientific approach, while also averting the many uninspiring connotations the word ‘God’ has attracted through overuse and outright abuse, along with the fact we’re discussing the genuinely un-nameable, I prefer the terms, ‘Crossed The Abyss,’ ‘Singularity,’ ‘Kether’ or ‘Return to The Source.’ For what name doth it matter one assigns the un-nameable? Preferably not one as tainted by human hands as ‘God’ IMAO.
After eating a relatively modest dose of Psilocybes (eight each I think), four of us sat down on the rocky sand cliffs overlooking Port Phillip Bay and the shipwrecked HMVS Cerberus in anticipation of the effects. One of the first things noticed by three of us who were all facing north was a sizeable green meteor burning up on its descent toward Earth. Heading west and most likely north of the City of Melbourne. This was observed very early on, almost instantly upon our consuming the Sacrament and before the effects of the shrooms ‘should’ have been felt. As the night progressed, and the waves of psilocybin swept over us, I began to have the very distinct impression that all my thoughts were floating around me for anyone present to pick up and scrutinise. With the intensity of this uncomfortable experience increasing, I eventually had no choice but to find acceptance in this naked and vulnerable space, later realising this was literally the disintegration of my ego or personality. Soon after, the magickal precept I’d learned only months before, Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law, began to revolve over and over again in my mind. The formula seemed then as it does now, to be a perfect symphony of operations for all aspects, constructs and forms of consciousness whatsoever.
Following this stage in proceedings, the points of light that are the stars showered down radiant gaseous clouds of blues and whites to Earth. Intimating, our perception of a comprehensive blackness to the night sky, was but a veil upon which were fabricated infinitesimal pinpricks. Now, the light encapsulating the entirety of existence was pouring through. Kether is in Malkuth, and Malkuth is in Kether, but after another manner.
Above The Abyss, contradiction is Unity and paradox your friend. The vision began with my eyes wide open. “Hey, can you guys see the stars?,” “Yeaahhh.” Of course they could see the stars! I quickly ascertained this panorama was not one shared by my companions. Much the same as Crowley’s account, the “vision developed gradually.” Eventually, fascination with this preeminent command became so overwhelming, I laid back in surrender. The vision arresting, continuing, intensifying. At this juncture, I’m reminded of the notion of light speed expedition (nothing can travel faster than the speed of light, i.e. No-thing, No man, Nemo) in the Star Wars franchise. With one essential difference. This construct was patently organic and not composed of the many darting straight lines used to translate this concept in the films. Instead, the complexity of the many starry night sky smoothly and progressively evolved into majestic formations of gas giants. Analogous to the busy and scattered foliage of a tree, and how, tracing the branches to the trunk, there is a distinct increase in size yet decrease in complexity. These blue and white clouds mirrored this ‘Tree of Life’ pattern all the way back to The Source. Appropriately, a description of Crowley’s ‘Star Sponge’ Vision also occurs in his commentary on Liber AL’s ch. I, v. 59. My incense is of resinous woods & gums; and there is no blood therein: because of my hair the trees of Eternity.
With images from the Hubble Telescope capturing billion-year-old pictures of the Universe, it’s common knowledge when we gaze to the stars of the night sky we are essentially looking back in time – The Source. I took note soon after my encounter when I heard that in space, blue stars are hotter than red stars, evidently the birthplace of the Universe would also be the hottest part thereof. Another point of potential interest, the form of these trees of Eternity is not unlike scientific models of the structure of dark energy throughout the Universe. These facts stand as refreshing affirmations that scientific observation compliments this Age Old Gnosis.
The Method of Science, the Aim of Religion. Aleister Crowley
Passing The Veil of The Abyss and Stellar Nursery known by Qabalists as the Sphere of Chokmah, the culmination of the experience was One Star In Sight – Union with The Source, Kether. Here, you have no body, abiding instead, pure awareness of a vast black Nothingness and One Single Star, the loneliness of the First. When the many become One, the One becomes None – Nemo, as there is now no other point by which to refer. On the surface, this climax spells a pronounced divergence to Crowley’s record of his ‘Star Sponge’ Vision. Yet upon closer inspection, it seems he instead chose to deliberately omit this point. Ultimately, deeming it, “impracticable to go fully into the subject.” Perhaps saving the details for future reference, tongue in cheek Crowley writes:
While at Montauk, I had put my sleeping bag to dry in the sun. When I went to take it in, I remarked, laughingly, “Your bedtime, Master Bag,” as if it were a small boy and I it’s nurse. This was entirely frivolous; but the thought flashed into my mind that after all the bag was in one sense a part of myself. The two ideas came together with a snap, and I understood the machinery of a man’s delusion that he is a teapot.
Furthermore, in The Law is for All we read:
Hadit is the “core of every star,” verse 6. He is thus the Impersonal Identity within the individuality of “every man and every woman.” He is “not extended”; that is, without condition of any sort in the metaphysical sense. Only in the highest trances can the nature of these truths be realised. It is indeed a supra-rational experience not dissimilar to those characteristic of the “Star Sponge” Vision…
When ‘I’ ‘returned’ it was now the early hours of morning, still dark and probably four to six hours since our Sacrament. Realising what just occurred, I got up and walked a couple meters away from the group. Facing the Bay, tears streamed down my face. It didn’t take too long to grasp the fact this is what Crowley spoke of as Crossing The Abyss or what Buddha referred to as Enlightenment. The gas giants of the Stellar Nursery being the Gates of Heaven, the Archangels themselves. Instantly the meaning of myriad references from spiritual literature were clear. The final secret of the Illuminati (sorry conspiracy theorists, we’re taking back the brand name) is that you don’t know you’re a member until it’s too late to get out! Welcome to Crowley’s Club, the Argentum Astrum – A∴A∴, Order of the Silver Star, The Great White Brotherhood. Since learning of The ‘Star Sponge’ Vision, I am left with no doubt this is the same vision I received at Black Rock. This fact, along with the vision’s resonance with other spiritual teachings, verifies the objective reality of the experience, at least subjectively…
An hour or two later we’d collected our belongings and commenced our walk along the sand cliffs, rocks and beach back to our cars. When the four of us were startled by an all-encompassing bright orange-golden flash. Unlike a flash off in the distance or one you might see through a window, it was a flash with no detectable origin that ignited our entire field of vision. Later that year, on the 17th of October, I purchased a copy of Crowley’s The Heart of the Master. I was astounded to discover several references illustrating The Great Beast was privy (at least on some level) to the events of that evening in April 2003. Undoubtedly the best proof of this would be to read the book yourself with the above in mind and draw your own conclusions. For the sake of convenience and communicating my interpretations, below are some highlights with italics added. The first chapter, The Vision, features the subtitle Penumbra, introducing the location and setting the scene. Following a couple of opening paragraphs we have this direct reference:
Behind me—strange!—the gloom is less obscure than in the East to which the eyes yearn feebly. Do I feel it by instinct—the form of a vast pyramidal hill of stark black rock? I am too weary to turn my head to look.
The next section, Vox, reads:
The captain cries: “Behold, the Star in the West!” Instant on that comes silence. But among us the sudden stirring warns me that not all were sleeping; that there were watchers like myself, men more intent than I.
I hear a murmur on my left. I catch three words: “The Zero Hour.” They call me back to myself: I know now that I am one of a great army—an army baffled and broken, but yet in being.
Just as there were three others (my brother, his friend, and my then girlfriend – Virginia Conti) present at Black Rock that night, so there are two separate series of quotes from three characters. The first sequence occurs under the subtitle Vox while the second set appears in the fourth segment, Phantasma. The remarks accurately reflect the attitudes of those present:
Again the solemn stillness. Few were they who had heard the voice of the young captain: for the sleep of all but the youngest and strongest was the sleep of death. Even of these the fate was ill indeed; for their minds had been distraught by the bitterness of their hearts. So, when they noted the Voice, they mocked. I heard:
“A Star in the West. What folly!”
“That is no voice of any leader of ours.”
“Star in the West? Beware: that is the Star called Wormwood.”
The second series, belonging to Phantasma, are as follows:
“For Christ’s sake,” screams an emasculate rag of flesh, “don’t look at that damned Star!”
“We’re lost,” another squeals.
“The Beast!” yells a third: maniac.
Moving on, we have this excerpt under the sixth subtitle Homo:
Lo! from his eyes flow tears of mingled sorrow and joy, of joy that burns up sorrow, and with these tears he smites the barren rock beneath his feet. It melts like wax at the touch; roses spring up and twine about his limbs.
I was kneeling on a large rock when I turned from the group and tears flowed from my eyes.
The following verse, also quoted from the subheading Homo stands out in relation to the flash witnessed by at least the four of us:
The Word of the law is Θελημα.
Then is all Heaven aflame with a great blast of trumpets; and the world is alight with one flash, that sundereth every spirit that liveth, branding this Sign upon them:
Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
Finally, closing off the first chapter, The Voice of the Vulture declares these (perhaps explanatory) lines:
With that I cease to be myself at all: I am absorbed into His adorable essence, and my life is equally shed throughout the endless Æons of Creation.
Ay!—there is nothing separate any more at all; wherefore the Vision faileth, the Seer being one with the Seen.
The Heart of the Master is by no means a voluminous work. Divided into three chapters, The Vision, The Voice, and The Temple of Truth, the edition I bought is only 40 pages in length. The above albeit brief passages are each taken from the first chapter, The Vision. Forming, in my opinion, a substantial enough proportion of the narrative to denote accordance with the events at Black Rock in 2003. Also worth our attention are several correlations between the Communion piece and the proceeding quotes from fifth subheading, Lux, again, from the first chapter. A number of years passing since visiting the contents, the below details held no conscious participation in the execution of the piece:
The apex of the colossal Pyramid is crowned by a stern silent figure, cut in sharp silhouette against the Orb of the Sun. I cried aloud: Hail unto Thee, O Star that art the Sun, Star that mountest the Height of the Heavens!
But my heart answered me, mysteriously, yet so that it availed me to understand it; “He riseth not nor sets! He goeth shining on His way, and before Him the Earth reeleth in the rhythm of her Bacchanal dance!”
Then I knew also this: all these poor dead men that lay about me had been slain by their own fear, their fault of faith in deeming that the Sun – or any Star – could die.
And now I, who had only felt the fear of that figure, feel the fascination.
I understand that He – whoever, whatever He may be – is He for whom we all so long had waited.
As I fix my eyes upon it, I become aware that its blackness against the light of the Star is only relative; and as I gain confidence in my sight, that darkness goes. The figure is a prism of pure crystal – it is the distortion and interference with the Light it transmits which caused those phantoms of terror to dance their Witches’ Sabbath on the moving miasma.
And now I am drawn swiftly up by some invisible force; sucked by some vortex towards the Hill. And now I face Him, as He stands above me.
As Lux concludes, we return to the sixth subheading Homo:
…In the midst of his brows is a black diamond in a circlet of ruby and emerald, set in pure mother-of-pearl, so that it seems the eye of some unknown, some unknowable God. This eye has no lid.
Despite the fact ‘Enlightenment’ is the goal of Spiritual Traditions worldwide, the next logical question is, “So what? So you returned to The Source, so you saw ‘God,’ so what?” Well, as no man may look upon His Face and live, the real Point of Seeing the Point is what comes next. Integrating an engagement such as this in a healthy way in modern suburbia is certainly not without its challenges. Fortunately, there have been some prodigious rewards.
After being “hurled across” The Abyss, the zone between the Archetypal and Manifest, the Real and Unreal, the Known and Unknown, one enters the Sphere of Binah on the Tree of Life. Binah corresponds to the Magickal Grade, Master of the Temple, whose oath is:
I swear to interpret every phenomenon as a particular dealing of God with my soul.
He called it a Stage-Consecrating Festival, and its effects were intended to exert their influence upon the Drama of Life itself.
Frater Achad on Wagner’s Opera Parzival, from The Chalice of Ecstasy
Parzival: What is the Grail?
Gurnemanz: I may not say:
But if to serve it thou be bidden,
Knowledge of it will not be hidden.
And Lo! Methinks I know thee now indeed;
No earthly road to it doth lead,
By no one can it be detected
Who by itself is not elected.
Parzival: I scarcely move,
Yet swiftly seem to run.
Gurnemanz: My son, thou seest
Here SPACE and TIME are ONE.