MYSTERY BABALON: Being the Bhaktic and Ecstatic Rites of Babalon
By Hagia Aureavia (2016, Thelemic Productions)
Mystery Babalon, by Hagia Aureavia, is a new book of Ophidian Thelema ritual and philosophy by the founder of the Temple of Babalon, which is located near Bloomington, Indiana. Hg. Aureavia has spent the last few decades training her students in the mystical and magical system of Ophidian Thelema. This is a large book, which can only be purchased in the print edition. The cover alone is an eye-catcher, with a stunning photograph of model and dancer Saba Kandroma in the pose of the Red Daughter and Blue Goddess. It is edited by Carus Babalonis.
My copy is 451 pages of large print and has plenty of diagrams, drawings, photographs and instructions. This is some heavy reading, although it is a trade edition and not a hardback book. The book is a tantra of sorts in that it’s concerned with the instructions of her system that was revealed to her by the Great Liberating Mother Babalon. There are photographs of hand mudras to use during some of the rites and body positions the adept should use. Although it builds on much of what Aleister Crowley had revealed to him in Liber AL vel Legis in 1904, this book doesn’t owe a lot to other systems other than the basic terminology.
Mystery Babalon is divided into five parts: “Philosophy and Cosmology”; “Preparations”; “Invocations, Hymns, Adorations and Prayers”; “The Bhaktic Rites of Babalon”; and “The Ecstatic Rites of Babalon”. There is an extensive glossary of terms in the back of the book, but no index. The book even has recipes to make your own incense for the types recommended for the rites. If you need to find a complete system of mysticism in one book, this comes as close as I’ve seen in a long time. Hg. Aureavia utilizes a form of English qabalah called “The New Aeon English” system, which was first published in 1974, to find fascinating relationships between terms and words.
So what is Thelema? Thelema is the philosophical and spiritual system first announced by Aleister Crowley in 1904 when he claimed to have received Liber Al in 1904 with the help of his wife from the angel Aiwass. It can be summed up by the term “do what thou wilt”. In other words, find your true Destiny, Self, Atman, or Purpose in life. From this simple statement, an entire way of looking at the world was born. Hg. Aureavia accepts the message of Liber Al and liberally quotes from it. Instead of an emphasis on The Prophet (Uncle Al), she looks at the nature of the Scarlet Woman and at Babalon as the deity of this new age. She chooses the snake, merged with a seven-pointed star, as the symbol for her system since the snake sheds its skin and brings forth knowledge from the Underworld. The snake in Ophidian Thelema is representative of spirit. There isn’t much mention of contemporary Thelema, other than to point out where she feels they are in error.
The first section, “Philosophy and Cosmology”, discusses many of the belief systems of Ophidian Thelema. There are chapters on the nature of many things. Among them are Babalon, a person’s spirit and the terminology from Liber Al. She sees Babalon as the female deity of our modern age, which began in 1904. Babalon’s brother is the male warrior deity Ra Hoor Kuit. Babalon is the Great Liberating Mother incarnation of our age.
The second section, “Preparations”, is where an adept can find out how to organize a shrine to Babalon and give Her proper devotion. There is a section on banishing negative influences from the shrine and “grounding” yourself for the work. She also has a list of the offices and roles for the shrine. The pathways are most interesting, as she has given them separate dedications based on the temperament of a devotee of Babalon. These are optional ecstatic experiences, which someone can encounter in the shrine, such as “The Divine Couple”, “Sappho” and “The Whore”.
The third section, “Invocations, Hymns, Adorations and Prayers”, is for resources. She updates some familiar Thelema rites and adds quite a few of her own. These are for the solitary adept, but can be use by just about any group of people. There is a different invocation for the signs of the zodiac, planets, and days of the week and how they can be utilized. Even if you’ve studied the basic concepts for years, a person will find new material here.
The reason for the book appears in the section “The Bhaktic Rites of Babalon”. She explains the term “Bhakti” as a Sanskrit word for “devotional love”. This is the devotional section of the book where she lists ways a person can devote themselves to unity with Babalon on a daily basis. This can be done as an individual or with groups of people. The Bhaktic Rite of Babalon reminded me of The Gnostic Mass Crowley wrote in the second decade of the last century. She disagrees with certain parts of the composition of the “Cakes of Light” used in the many Thelema services. I won’t go into it in detail, but Aureavia’s recipe and use of the cakes neatly avoids a small problem.
Finally, we come to “The Ecstatic Rites of Babalon”. It is this part where the book resembles one of the many Vamacharra or “Left Hand Path” tantras from India. As the author says about Babalon, “For it is true when Her presence is close, one’s own lusts are awakened and one’s own desires burn hotter.” She feels there are methods to curb obsessive compulsions and demonic influences. In other words, there is a way to use sex and make it holy. This section has several suggested rites, solo and for a couple. The most detailed one is for “The Ecstatic Rite of Babalon” which involves a detailed script, costumes, servers, and social nudity. I don’t want to go too deeply into this one, but I’m sure it will attract plenty of attention.
There are several appendixes in the back about creating a shrine to Babalon and where to find resources.
This is about as complete of a Thelemic book of rites as you’ll find outside of the more established groups. It’s detailed and comes with a set of its own terminology. For instance, the author prefers to use the term “Heka” instead of “Magic” or “Magick”. You may not agree with everything she writes, but there is a method behind it all. If I have any criticisms, it’s the lack of a detailed diagram, which would show where all the participants are supposed to be located in a group rite. You can read these scripts for years and not “get it” until you participate in a performance.
Therefore, check the book out, it’s bound to raise a few eyelids and stimulate conversation. This is never a bad thing.
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